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Yehuda Leib Ha-Levi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)/Letters
Letter 4
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Letter 4

15 Heshvan, Tav-Reish-Peh-Bet, November 16, 1921

To my friend,

Indeed, I see your difficulty with simplicity, that you are embarrassed to speak simply. Yet, in all my dealings with you, face to face or in letters, I did not affect your spirit whatsoever, as it is the way most people behave on such matters: They are ashamed as thieves of every organ they sin with or behave with it as do beasts. They cover it with seven covers, as with the circumcision organ, the hind part, and other such organs that do as beasts do.

Hence, I must be lenient with you regarding this change and speak with you as … under a cover of allegories, for I have grown tired of waiting for solutions to this question, which we both need, and especially for the glory of Heaven, for this is all I need.

I shall speak to you cunningly, in a language that the ministering angels do not need. And therefore, I shall request of you to thoroughly clarify to me the words of The Zohar in three places. And even the things that you clearly see that it is considered an advantage, or even a sin to disclose such secrets, especially before those who know and understand, or even with the most ordinary matters, which are so light that they fly like birds in the sky, I need it all. And although there is no need for them in and of themselves, in general, it is still a need.

See in The Zohar from the portion Shemot [Exodus] through the words of the break after Passover and onward to thoroughly clarify. Afterward, delve in the pages preceding the holiday of Shavuot [Feast of Weeks], from nearly there through Elul of that year when they crossed into the land of Israel. Thus you have two places, and afterward, from the pages of the virtues of the land of Israel through its end.

First, clarify for me every kind of change and action from this place to that place, meaning with the sustaining of the degrees and understanding of the issue as much as you can. Then, point out for me every good thing in the steps of its body and its parts, which is necessary and which is redundant, in what it is necessary, and in what way it is redundant, and what the world would lack without it, as well as depicting the lines of hope in each and every place.

And most important, the drawings should bring out the features with its shades and lights, with a terrible face or a beautiful face, a laughing face or a welcoming face. On such a living bulge, even simple and redundant and known things must be registered, so that all the drawings are included in one collection in each picture clearly arranged.

And do not repeat the mistake of interpreting the commentary that you have found in the drawings, and the drawings themselves are hidden in your commentary. Moreover, it is the drawings themselves that I need, and to interpret them myself with aptitude such as yours, and especially, as though they have fallen from above prior to the interpretation that you gave them from below.

And because I still fear your idleness, which is only a Klipa [shell/peel], or hunts clean and innocent souls, I myself will write to you some innovations in these forms that I request. After you explain to me all the above-mentioned drawings, as much as you can, with simplicity and without commentaries, as though they fell from the sky, then you will interpret for me in your own words what I interpret here in the language of translation [Aramaic]. In this way, I will know how well you understand my writing and my thoughts.

And after you interpret what is in my heart, review my words and add to them, remove from them, or both. And for God’s sake, follow my request and do not skip any of your studies or prayers, even for several weeks, until you have completed my request, and until your words reach me with a clear answer. After all, my fingers are tied by fear and I cannot correspond with you under the canopy of the Torah and higher love.

Come and see: There is a holy language for the upper ones and there is a holy language for the lower ones. It is after them that all those sages of the truth are called “God’s mouth.” What is the reason? It is because the Shechina [Divinity] speaks from their mouths, and all that they say, their palates taste, and no other’s. Hence, the way of these sages of the truth is to convey wisdom to their friends mouth to mouth.

And what is the reason it is mouth to mouth and not mouth to ear? It is because what the palate tastes is not given to the ears; they are separate. It is written about that: “With him do I speak mouth to mouth, manifestly, and not in riddles.” “Manifestly” means by people’s vision, and “in riddles” means by people’s hearing with the ears.

But these are not at all the ways of the wisdom of truth, which is (the wisdom of truth) given only in the palate, as it is written, “Who will eat and who will feel but me?” By this rule the sages know the judgment in the judgment, each kind with (what is not) its kind, its flavor, since each kind has its own flavor.

And since these wicked have seven abominations in their hearts, their hearts are divided and their flavors are not the same, for “the Lord confused their language,” “that they may not understand one another's speech.”

But with the sages, no lie comes to their palates. Hence, all that they eat is true, and all their awakenings are for the truth. Therefore, all the sages are as one man, understanding each other’s language, since their palate is one. Thus, they necessarily have the power to disclose secrets to each other mouth to mouth.

It is in that regard that the faithful shepherd prayed for Judah, “Bring him in unto his people.” Our sages explained that he could stand among the righteous and discuss rules with them, meaning, as it is said, he understood their language.

This is so because one who is flawed—who did not properly correct the sin of the generation of Babylon—is under the dominion of the gods of Babylon, called Ball. “And there confound their language,” and he did not know what our sages said. Woe unto him and woe unto his soul. “And what does the Shechina say? It is lighter than my head, lighter than my arm.”

And should you say, “How can such a great sin be corrected?” After all, it is written, “God is in heaven and you on earth; therefore, let your words be few.” And it is also written, “Why should God be angry with your voice?” This is undoubtedly true.

But as it is here, it is the force of Moses, the faithful shepherd, that we need, who testifies about himself: “It is not in heaven … it is in your mouth and in your heart to do it.” It is known that by the great power of the faithful shepherd, the Torah has already come down to earth, as though in the combinations of the letters in the names of the Torah.

And in all those deeds that he has set up before us and for the whole world, as in “from the permitted which is in your mouth,” now they are actually in the earth, as it is written, “It is in your mouth and in your heart to do it.” That is, by the Dvekut [adhesion] of spirit and mind to all the intelligence and reason that there are in the sayings of the fathers and the sayings of the fathers’ servants, and in the 613 Mitzvot [commandments]. In each act, one combination becomes known to the eyes in the manners of the ways of the Master of the world, manners within which all the upper light is deposited. One who cleaves to one discernment in complete knowledge did not work in vain, for here is one part of the 613 parts of the soul. Subsequently, he multiplies all those degrees until he finds all the organs of his soul.

If he is rewarded with the wholeness of his soul, he will be confident that he has won everything, for nothing is absent in the King’s palace, and there is no poverty in a place of wealth.

Woe unto those fools, destructors of the world. They know full well that it would be better for them had they not been born. There is only one thing that they say, that they had better days than now, meaning before they were born. The Creator does this to them to display their flaw before people. It is written, “Do not say, ‘What was it, that the days before were better than these, for it is not with wisdom that you ask this.’” In other words, the text has mercy on them and notifies them to cover this thing in their hearts, as it is a sign of the flaw of folly that is in them.

The faithful prophet Malachi admonished them about it: “You offer soiled bread upon my altar and say, ‘With what have we soiled you?’ By your saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’” So is the manner of all the fools of the world. Since their palates taste the sweet as bitter, they say that it is bitter and despise the bread of the holy King.

This is why he curses them and says, “Cursed be the swindler who has a male in his flock,” showing them that this swindling is them swindling against their master. What is the reason? It is because there is a male in their flock and they are idle in their work and do not exert to find him. This is why the holy prophet curses them, since they can bring a pure male to the King’s palace, yet they bring a lame and blind one.

Woe unto they who show disgrace in the King’s palace. This is why they are shown their flaw with great cleverness, as in “Offer it to your Governor; would He be pleased with you?” “Your Governor” implies a place that has been made lower, where they flawed, meaning in the upper lip, a place that according to us is a flaw, and according to them is not a flaw. But that place is not filled by their twisting of their lips and the Creator shows their wickedness in their faces, as I had said to you when I was with you, as it is written, “The clean and the righteous do not kill.” The mind is called “clean,” and the heart is called “righteous.” Woe unto one who changes his name, who lies in the name of the Creator and reverses the meaning. The text testifies about them and before them: “I will not justify the wicked.”

Therefore, you, the love of my life, will not follow in the footsteps of the destructors of the world, the fools, sons of fools, as they are worthless compared to you, whether in trunk, branch, and all the more so in the fruits. In your trunk, you are unique in this generation. In the cleanness of that trunk, you are better than I, as I had told you when I was with you. You lack nothing but to go out to a field that the Lord has blessed, and collect all those flaccid organs that have drooped from your soul, and join them into a single body.

In that complete body, the Creator will instill His Shechina incessantly, and the fountain of intelligence and high streams of light will be as a never ending fountain. Each place on which you cast your eye will be blessed, and all will be blessed because of you, for they will bless you constantly, and all the chariots of Tuma’a [impurity] will be on them ... forever since it is their wish to curse you. At that time, the blessing of the grandfather, “Those who bless you are blessed,” will come true.

Let us return to the issue that we dealt with first: the Lord’s mouth. There is an upper lip and there is a lower lip. Those crowns came down equal to each other, but to add to all those worthy ones good upon good and light upon light, four high and holy corrections of the Dikna were made on them. Happy is he who has been rewarded with inheriting them, and happy also is he who has been rewarded with adhering to the worthy one who has already inherited them.

It is written in relation to those four corrections: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” The high and holy thoughts are not as the thoughts of an uneducated one. The high and holy ways are not as the ways of the uneducated. The thought is the Rosh [head/mind], and a way is the path by which the Rosh spreads and by which it multiplies.

Come and see. There is an upper Rosh and an upper path on the upper lip, and there is a lower Rosh and a lower path on the lower lip. This is why the mustache hair was established over the upper lip, which is the similitude of the upper Rosh that I have said.

This correction is called “merciful” (see Idra Rabah, Nasso). When one is rewarded with seeing that vision with the eye, it is full of mercies on all sides, for there is no place in it ... which is why it is indeed “merciful.”

Afterward, they are rewarded with seeing the upper path, the path of those who ascend, who are male goats. This is why it is seen by all those lower worlds, like the precious correction of the Rosh, called “merciful,” which is the praise of all the praises that appear to them.

In this way, there is a stop on those hairs in the middle, and that cessation of this path is seen to the lower ones by the two holes in the nose. There, that path spreads and is imprinted in the middle of the upper lip. This correction is called “and gracious,” and all those who know the secrets certainly see it.

Now that you have been rewarded with those two names ... lower ones, and we will see what it is before us in that place where we find a lip ... under the lower lip. There ... meaning a Rosh [head/mind] to the lower ones, and all those worthy ones were awarded kisses ... although the kisses ... lower one as one.

Thus, we should ask, “Why did they cling to the Rosh of the bottom lip?” ... good reason ... and a holy mouth ... of that path that was imprinted in the upper lip, and shows them that place like ... a path of no flesh ... as it should be with love. ... And then ... they grew stronger in the bottom lip. At that time, “Love is as strong as death.” Their soul comes out with upper and lower love together, and when their soul ... lower one.

This is why that place is called “the bottom Rosh.” What is the reason? It is because it is completely similar to the upper Rosh, and everyone knows that one begot the other. This is called “lengthy,” since the Panim [face/anterior] of the upper Rosh grew longer ... is not in everyone for one another. And as they were integrated as one, they are eyes for everyone.

It is in that regard that the sages asserted, “A voice, a vision, and a scent are not considered fraud.” What is the reason? It is because in those three, all the ... are seen. And since we have been rewarded with this bottom Rosh, it was doubled at its conclusion and came in three praises. ... As the upper Rosh came to us, there is certainly no fraud in them, and there is no flaw in those precious corrections that were extended ... theirs, and everyone knows that one begot the other, except for the court’s clowns who would say, “Sarah conceived from Avimelech, King of Gerar.”

This is why the verse, “‘As for Me, this is My covenant with them,’ says the Lord: ‘My Spirit which is upon you,’” came true in this holy seedling of the seed of Israel. It follows that this correction is certainly the Rosh of the lower ones, as it is for the lower ones to keep them and connect them to the bundle of life, as we have said.

But the sages have established, “There is no admission to the Azarah [a special section in the Temple] except for the kings from the House of David.” What is the reason? It is because they are in the Rosh. But for the rest of the generation, that place was made only to pass by it. Were it not so, that rest would have been an easygoing stroll, which is why a lower path was established and extended from that Rosh, and it is similar to the upper path.

However, it appears and comes like an old man weary from the many days, and “There is no reason in the elderly.” It is like Barzillai the Gileadite, for because the shape of that bottom path is completely similar, in everything, to the upper path that expanded from the upper Rosh, for this reason, he sees that the Guf is below, in the bottom path, similar to the upper one as a monkey to a human. And what he saw, he saw well.

This is why that correction is called “face,” to show that not all faces are the same, and all the falls of people should be on the face, as in “And they bowed down with faces to the earth.”

This is why that path was registered in the bottom lip, directly opposite the path on the upper lip, like the faces of the cherubim “facing one another.” Because their shape resembles one another, they were strengthened by one another and were registered in the lips more deeply. This is also the meaning of “face,” meaning that until now it was not known at all that there were faces above and faces below, and that not all faces are the same.

And when I hear of that wise disciple who said that he is laughing at the whole world by merit of “The image of the Lord does he behold,” and he rejoiced and boasted his degrees, that he, Anah, “found the springs in the desert while pasturing the donkeys of his father Zibeon,” and the first iniquity was erased, I say to myself that it is from our sages, who was found on the bottom path and calls it “the bottom path”: Anah is the shepherd of his father, Zibeon. He also calls that lower Rosh, Zibeon, which is something I had never heard of in the writings before me.

I exert to find these words sufficiently interpreted, 1) to know what these “springs” do, meaning all the Reshimot [imprints/recollections] in their faces, to the length, to the width, in sound, vision, and in scent. Also, what is their question, and what is their answer—whether it is a new question or hidden in their ears from the shepherd of his father, Zibeon, of that Anah? And what was Zibeon thinking about this wise son if he had told him, “If your heart is wise, my heart, too, will rejoice”?

In general, was there joy over the question? And how many days did it last, or was it joy for a few hours? All this is clearly interpreted and explained in that clarification of the bottom Rosh and the bottom path that I have said. If it is not so for you, but some other way, tell me how the actual work was done.

And now that we are relieved regarding the bottom Rosh and the bottom path, and the holy names for those who have been rewarded with their faces with corrections of the hairs under the bottom lip—“long face” indeed, we will descend further, to below the holy curtain. In it, a good reward for the righteous is bundled, concealed, and revealed, as well as bitter and harsh punishments for the wicked. That curtain is called “very merciful,” as it was established, as he leans toward Hesed [mercy]. It has all the merits and all the bounty of the Master of the world.

Woe unto one who displays incest. He severs his soul from this world, and it is severed from the next world. He is in the form of “Give truth to Jacob,” which is why his hand held Esau’s heel. He found all this mercy that we mentioned because in his wholeness, that seventh correction—called “and truth”—was revealed and came, since truth and mercy were included here in one another, as in “Give truth to Jacob, mercy to Abraham.”

Come, see, and understand the order I have said to you thus far in all the degrees that you have seen thus far, and look upon their depictions properly. You will find them as a depiction of a garden-bed in which plantings have been sown, two opposite two, and one comes out the tail. That is, above is a Rosh and a path, and below, directly opposite them, is a Rosh, a path, and the one of now, called “very merciful,” is in the middle toward everyone and below everyone.

There is also a garden-bed where these plantings are depicted in a different combination—three plantings above, which are considered Rosh, Toch, Sof. The upper Rosh is called Rosh, the upper path is called Toch, and the bottom Rosh is called Sof.

What is the reason that this is their combination? It is because the taste, appearance, and smell of these three plantings are the same. By that, the three conjoin as one, and all three are regarded as superior, as Rosh, Toch, and Sof.

That lower path, and that unification of “very merciful” are called “two branches of the willow.” What is the reason? It is because they exist simultaneously, and the children of the exile that are among the nations and have mingled with them say about those two branches of the willow that they have neither taste nor smell. Thus, there are three above and two below in the garden-bed that I have mentioned.

In those five letters that we said, there are 120 combinations. But I said those two in order to show one combination in “remember,” and one combination in “keep.” The rest are included in those two sides that I mentioned, and these orders are called “the five letters of the name Elokim.”

What is the reason? It is because they were set up along their emanation path one below the other. However, there is measuring to the width, and thus far I have not heard from you an interpretation from the text, and so I cannot speak of it at all until I hear that you yourself are in it.

When I said, “above” and “below,” I was not implying places, for the spirits have no place. However, they certainly do have a time in which to become known in the world. What I called “above” was because it was seen first, and I call “below” what appeared subsequently.

And I ask more of you: When you interpret, in your own words, all those five chapters that I showed you, in an order of above and below, interpret for me each time, when is it the first chapter, and when is it the following chapter, and likewise all of them, as meticulously as your memory allows, or an approximate calculation, and the duration of each chapter.

And most of all, I long to hear the duration of those two branches of willow that I mentioned regarding the bottom path, called the “correction of the face,” and the holy curtain, called “very merciful,” and their beginning is “truth.”

Although it is a small thing for you, it is great for me. I believe you already implied in another letter that you have forgotten their times, but remember it, for it is as though I am in prison and cannot labor and discuss the matter with you for an important reason which is in my heart.

Therefore, try hard to remember their times, more or less, their durations, as well as their beginnings. And please, have mercy on the time that was regrettably lost in vain, and send me a clear letter with complete explanations of all the questions I have asked of you, so I will not need to correspond with you thereafter.

Now, my dear, come and see how you can furnish me with your true answers. And because I carry the burden with you, I have nothing more than gloom now. Yet, I have no doubts about you, since the answers precede the questions—if he does not spare his life, etc.

Yet, let bygones be bygones, and henceforth count the moments lest you lose even one of them, for there is a herald upon us from above each and every day. It is not authority that I have given you. Rather, it is servitude that I have given you. And who is he and where is he who leads an evil, foreign Klipa [shell/peel] of idleness here among the King’s children? It is certainly insolence toward heaven, and “The door turns on its hinges, and the idle is in his bed.” The holy Shechina [Divinity] is cast to the dust under the feet of her maidservants, who regularly walk and trample over her head and arm with great insolence, as foreign maidservants do, wishing only to spit impure spit in their mistress’ face, arising contempt and wrath.

For all those who have the power to remove this insolence, yet stand and see all this insolence without protesting, you call them “idle”? Idle is not their name. Rather, they have no perception of the preciousness and glory of the Master of the heaven who is before them.

Likewise, we should announce that there is no labor in extending time, but in studying, for that filthy substance is appeased and desires to work twenty-four hours a day, but not a single hour in the exertion of the study.

And the main labor is in finding all the secrets of the Torah and its reasoning, for there is no other slavery in this exile. This filthy substance would want anything but not to exert in the reasons for the Mitzvot [commandments]. And even if some reasons are found, it is shown that it is tiring, and that one novelty is not so different from the other, and then he grows tired and can no longer exert.

This is the heart of the matter. It should be uprooted and taken out from the court of the Lord’s house, and one should take upon oneself labor to find the reasons of Torah and the meanings of the Mitzvot in the words of the Torah. And then the Maker will be brought back to His throne.

Yesterday evening I received your letter from the fourteenth of Heshvan. Now, early in the morning, my letter is complete and ready to be sent. I wanted to know how you know that this man who comes and goes into your house without a son is a true sage and a holy man, as you had said to me ... for the proper order of your body. Let me know in detail in what way is he opposite, for I need to know it, but clarify it thoroughly, and if he is not that bookbinder or bookseller that I saw in your house, and if he looks in letters ... and what he says about them. But most important, do not be frugal with those words that seem redundant to you, for upon increasing such depictions, the knowing between us will increase, and now I need it very much.

Your friend,

Yehuda