Article No. 15, 1985
It is written in The Zohar (Vayechi, item 386): “Rabbi Yehuda started and said, ‘And Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord.’” These are his words there in the Sulam [Ladder commentary]: “One should pray only next to a wall and nothing should part between him and the wall, as it is written, ‘And Hezekiah turned his face to the wall.’”
We should understand what is the “wall” next to which we should pray. Also, what is the “partition” where he says that nothing should part. The Zohar interprets there and in the Sulam (item 392): “A wall is the Lord of all the land, and it is the Shechina [Divinity].”
Accordingly, we should interpret what he says, that we must pray next to a wall, meaning close to the Shechina. However, it is still not known what is the measure of proximity to the wall. He interprets that nothing should part between him and the wall. This is why we should interpret the issue of parting, such as with the Tevillah [ritual bathing], with Netillat Yadaim [ritual washing of the hands], and with the four species, where the palm branch, myrtle, and willow are tied with a palm branch leaf because it is of the same kind.
It follows that parting between him and that wall is—as the Shechina bestows upon the lower ones, so man should remove the force of reception—that his desire will be only to bestow upon the Creator. At that time it is called nearing and proximity to the wall.
However, first we must know, and it is our duty to try to understand as much as we can with our little minds what we need to pray for, meaning which deficiency we should regard and say that this is the main thing we need, and that if we can satisfy that deficiency we will not need anything else.
It is known that the essence of the prayer is for the Shechina being in exile. However, this requires explanation, too. It is written in many places that the main thing we need to pray for is to raise the Shechina from the dust. There are many interpretations to it, and the little we can understand is the kingdom of heaven. This is what one takes upon himself—that he has nothing in the world that is his purpose, except to serve the king not in order to receive reward. By that he will be rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator, and will be able to delight the king, as in “As He is merciful, so you are merciful.” At that time he will be fit to keep the thought of creation to do good to His creations.
However, the discernment called “bestowing contentment upon the Creator” does not have a place in the creatures for they are born with a desire to receive. For this reason, the are utterly incapable of comprehending the concept of bestowal. This is similar to an object lying in the dust and no one notices that it should be picked up. This is called “Shechina in the dust.” It is as it is written (The Selichot [forgiveness] of the thirteen qualities): “I will remember God and long for Him when I see every city built on its foundations, and the city of God lowered to the very bottom.”
A “city” means as it is written (Ecclesiastes, 9), “a small city with few men in it.” Eben Ezra interprets as follows, “The ancient interpreters said that it is an allegory: “A small city” is man’s body, and “few men in it” means those with power to beget, the servants of the soul.
Therefore, here, too, we should interpret the “city of God” to mean that when the body wants God to dwell in it, in this body, all the organs resist it. The work of bestowal, meaning to work for the Creator, is work in utter lowliness, and there is a taste of dust in this work. It is written in the curse of the serpent (Genesis, 3), “You are more cursed than all beast, and more than every animal of the field; you will walk on your belly, and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” This means that everything he will eat will taste like dust.
It is likewise here: when a person begins to work for the Creator and does not see that self-love will draw any benefit from it, this work is degraded, and everything he does in it tastes like dust. This is called “The city of God is lowered to the very bottom.” That is, if there is a partition between him and the Shechina, meaning if his work is built on a basis of self-love, he thinks that he is at the height of perfection.
But when he wishes to remove the partition between him and the wall, and wants to work on the basis of bestowal, he feels that he is at the very bottom, since he does not see that in this work he will have anything to receive for his will to receive. At that time all the organs resist this work.
Now we will understand for what we need to pray. The prayer should be primarily for the Shechina being in the dust. This means that work to bestow upon the Creator is despicable and contemptible, and we ask of the Creator to open our eyes and remove the darkness that is floating before our eyes.
We ask about this, as it is written (Psalms 113), “He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the destitute from the trash.” It is known that the holy Shechina is called poor and meager, as it is written in The Zohar, “and it is placed in the dust.” “He lifts the poor from the trash” refers to those who want to cling to her but feel that they are lowly, and they do not see how they can emerge from this mud. At that time they ask of the Creator to lift them.
Where the body agrees with the work, where it is on the basis of the will to receive, since they have no clue about bestowal, their work is with pride, meaning they take pride in being servants of the Creator while others are in utter lowliness, and they always see others’ faults.
But those who walk on the path of truth, who want to achieve bestowal, are lowly because they see that “Were it not for the Creator’s help, he would not have overcome it.” Thus, they find no special merit in themselves over others. These people are called “lowly” because they want to connect to bestowal, which is lowliness, and this is another reason why they are called “lowly.”
At that time they can say what is written, “The Lord is high, great, and terrible. He lowers the proud to the ground, and raises the lowly to the heavens,” for at that time they say that what was lowly before is now high and sublime, great and terrible. This is because now they feel that what was previously work in self-love, which is pride, when they felt proud about this work, has now become lowliness, since they are ashamed to work for self-love.
But who gave them the strength to feel this? It was the Creator who gave them. This is why at that time a person says, “Lowers the proud to the ground,” while the work of bestowal, which was previously lowly, now the work of bestowal has become to him of the highest merit. And who did this for him? Only the Creator. At that time a person says, “And raises the lowly to the heaven.”
Shechina in exile means that one should feel that she is in exile. That is, since a person is called a “small world,” for he consists of seventy nations, and the Israel in him is in exile, meaning the people of Israel (in him) is enslaved to the nations of the world in him and cannot do anything for their own good, but only for the nations of the world, and the people of Israel are called Yashar-El [straight to the Creator], wanting to bestow upon the Creator, while they want to work in order to receive, which is called the “nations of the world.”
Accordingly, we should interpret “Israel that have exiled” to mean that if Israel are in exile and cannot do anything Yashar-El, the Shechina is with them. She, too, is in exile, as though she cannot rule over them because they seemingly rule over her. This is the meaning of what King David said (Psalms, 115), “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory, for Your mercy, for Your truth. Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ and our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”
According to the above, we should interpret that we ask of the Creator to help us come out of exile. This is the meaning of saying, “Not to us,” meaning to our will to receive. That is, we want our thoughts and desires and deeds not to be for our will to receive, which is regarded as the importance being only for the nations of the world.
Rather, “To Your name give glory,” so that the Shechina will not be in exile and regarded as dust, but that the glory of heaven will be revealed, which is called “May His great name grow and be sanctified.” This is the meaning of “Why should the nations say,” meaning the nations of the world in a person, which are called “nations.” What do they say? “Where is their God?” meaning they oppose the faith of Israel, for their work is in mind and heart, and all of their (the nations) work is within reason.
But “our God is in the heavens,” meaning specifically above reason, called “heaven,” which is above our intellect. And why did (the Creator) make our work be above reason? We do not say that He could not do otherwise. Rather, “He does whatever He pleases,” and He understood that work above reason is a better way to achieve the goal, to be able to receive the delight and pleasure, yet remain in order to bestow and not for self-gratification.
We should interpret “for Your mercy, for Your truth,” that we pray to the Creator, “Give glory to Your name.” “Your mercy” means that the quality of mercy will be poured upon us so we will have the strength to walk in the quality of mercy, called “vessels of bestowal,” and by that we will have equivalence of form.
Subsequently, we will be able to receive the delight and pleasure, which is called the “quality of truth,” as interpreted in The Study of the Ten Sefirot (Part 13 p 1,419, and in Ohr Pnimi there): “This is why the disclosure of His guidance is called ‘truth,’ since it is truly His will. We discover this truth in His guidance, which is to do good to His creations, and this is why that correction in ZA is called ‘truth.’” This is the meaning of “Your truth.”