Article No. 29, 1989
Our sages said (Shabbat, p 87), In the matter of preparation, which was there, at the time of the giving of the Torah, that there was the matter of the kingdom of priests, and the Mitzva [commandment/good deed] of limiting, and the matter of abstention. This was for the general public.
There are people who observe Torah and Mitzvot [plural of Mitzva] in general, meaning only in practice. That is, they mean that the Creator commanded us to observe Torah and Mitzvot, and in return for obeying Him, He will reward us for the labor or relinquishing many things that the body craves. This is a great effort for us not to obey what the body demands, yet we try to observe the voice of the Creator, meaning what the Creator wants. That is, we annul our will before the will of the Creator. In return for this, He will reward us in this world and in the next world, as was said, “Happy are you in this world, and happy are you in the next world.” This is the work of the general public.
And then there is the work of individuals. They want to observe Torah and Mitzvot individually. That is, they do not care what the general public does; they want to know why the Creator commanded us to observe Torah and Mitzvot. Is He deficient, needing someone to do Him a favor and observe his Torah and Mitzvot? Rather, it must be that the Torah and Mitzvot He has given us is for our sake. Then, they begin to think and pay attention, what benefit will come out of this to the created beings if they observe the Torah and Mitzvot. That is, what they lose by not observing, and what they gain by observing what the Creator has commanded us.
This is as our sages said (Avot, Chapter 2), “Be careful with a light Mitzva as with a grave one, for you do not know the reward for the Mitzvot, and consider the cost of a Mitzva compared to its reward, and the reward for a transgression (the joy you experience in the transgression) compared to its cost.” Therefore, when they begin to think about the benefit of observing Torah and Mitzvot, meaning who gains from this, they see what our sages said (Avot, Chapter 1), “Be as slaves serving the rav [great one] not in order to receive reward, and the fear of heaven will be upon you.”
This means that the fact that we must work not in order to receive reward means that it is because observing Torah and Mitzvot is not for the Creator, that He needs to be served. If this were true and He needed our work, He would certainly have to pay, just as we work for someone in this world. If a person needs the work of an employee, he certainly pays, as this is how the world works. Since our sages said to work not in order to receive reward, the reason must be that this work is for us, meaning for our sake.
Thus, how can we say that one who does some work for his own sake, meaning that he needs the work, but someone only gave us the work-plan so we would know how to work so it results in a complete product that we will enjoy, can we say that the person who he gave him the work-plan should also pay him for his work? In our world, we see the opposite: A person has to pay for the work-plan he has given us, and the one who gave the work-plan does not pay the person for working according to the work-plan he has received.
This is similar to one who wants to build a house. He goes to an engineer to make a work-plan for him. Then, who has to pay? Is it the engineer to the person who received the work-plan or does the person pay the engineer for giving him a work-plan by which he can build himself a house? Clearly, the person pays the engineer.
According to the above, it is clear that the Creator has given us the Torah and Mitzvot in order to correct ourselves, so we will have a structure of Kedusha [holiness]. Thus, who needs to pay for the plan? It is certainly we, since without Torah and Mitzvot, which is our plan for a structure of Kedusha, it would be utterly impossible to build us a structure of Kedusha. This is as our sages said, “If not for My covenant day and night, I would not put the ordinances of heaven and earth.” That is, without Torah and Mitzvot, namely the ordinances of heaven and earth, which is the structure of the world, it would not be able to exist. Rather, specifically if we build the world according to the Torah, the world can exist.
From this we understand that although we have nothing with which to pay the Creator for giving us the plan of Torah and Mitzvot, and we can only thank and praise for it, we should not ask for a reward in return for observing Torah and Mitzvot, that He should pay for our observing Torah and Mitzvot, meaning for using His plan to build for ourselves the house.
People who understand this are regarded as “walking in the work of the Creator on the path of individuals.” They have a different perspective on the issue of observing Torah and Mitzvot compared to the way that the general public understands the observance of Torah and Mitzvot—that the Creator should pay them for following the laws of the Torah, which is the Creator’s work-plan. They understand that the Creator wants them to follow the plan He has given them, and that it is for the sake of the Creator. Therefore, He should pay for this work of following His plan.
This is as our sages said (Midrash Rabbah, Portion 1:1), “Another interpretation: Amon is a craftsman [Uman]. The Torah says, ‘I was the working tool of the Creator.’ When a flesh and blood king builds a palace, he builds it not with his own skill but with the skill of an architect. And the architect does not build it out of his head, but employs plans and diagrams (which are books containing various diagrams of buildings by which the craftsman makes a plan how to build the palace). So God looked into the Torah and created the world.”
We should understand what this comes to teach us about the way of the work, how there was the creation of the world, that the Creator looked into the Torah, meaning that the Torah is the plan by which He created the world.
It is known that the purpose of creation was to do good to His creations. This was the reason for the creation of the world. For this reason, the Creator created in the creatures a desire and yearning to receive pleasures, and without pleasure, it is impossible to exist.
As we see, one who commits suicide, it is because he cannot see that he will get pleasure anywhere now, which is called “the present,” and he also does not see that in the future, he will be able to receive pleasure. Instead, he sees that the world has grown dark on him and does not shine for him. Then he has no other option but to commits suicide because he thinks that by this he will escape the torments.
For this reason, the fact that a person always wants to receive pleasures is the nature that the Creator created, that each created being aspires only to receive pleasures. We must know that everything we call the “evil inclination” is only this quality called “desire to receive pleasure in order to satisfy the yearning.”
The reason why the will to receive for oneself is called “evil inclination” is explained with respect to the correction of creation that was done. That is, when the creature receives from the Creator, there is disparity of form in this, which results in a person being ashamed to receive for himself from his friend. For this reason, a person is ashamed to eat the bread of shame. It follows that if a person would receive the delight and pleasure in vessels of reception, he would feel unpleasantness while receiving the abundance. Hence, there as a correction that as long as one does not revoke the Kelim [vessels] of the desire to receive for himself, he cannot receive delight and pleasure. It follows that the only obstructor on receiving the delight and pleasure is the will to receive for oneself. This is why this will to receive is the evil inclination.
However, how can it be revoked, as it is written, “Annul your will before His will”? He is the Torah, as our sages said, “The Creator said, ‘I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice.’” This means that the Creator says, “The fact that I created the will to receive pleasure, and that this is the nature of creation, as was said, that creation is called ‘existence from absence,’ means that a new thing was created here.” This was said about this will to receive. The Creator said, “I created the Torah as a spice.” That is, through “the light in it reforms him.”
It therefore follows that if there were no Torah, there would not be existence to the world, for because of the concealment and hiding that was because of the correction of the world, the creatures would have had to remain in the dark, without light. Naturally, there would be no existence to the world. This is the meaning of the Creator looking in the Torah, meaning that the Torah is the work-plan. That is, according to this plan, the world will be built through the Torah and there will be existence to the world. This is called “I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice.”
Concerning the study of Torah, our sages said (Hagigah 13), “A word of Torah is not to be given to an idol-worshipper, as was said, ‘He did not do so for any nation, and let them not know the ordinances.’” We should understand the meaning of idol-worshippers in the work. In the work, we learn everything in one body, as it is written in The Zohar, that man is a small world. Thus, what are idol-worshippers in the work, and what is Israel in the work?
We already said that Israel means that he wants all his actions to be for the sake of the Creator and not for his own sake. This is called Yashar-El [straight to the Creator], meaning that all his actions are directly to the Creator. The idol-worshipper is the complete opposite: All his actions are for his own sake. That is, he wants two authorities. This means that he wants to extract delight and pleasure from the authority of the Creator into his own authority.
In other words, he wants there to remain two authorities in the world—the authority of the Creator and his own authority. This is called “idol-worshipping,” which is work that is foreign to us. “Israel” means that he is working for the sake of the Creator, meaning that he is considered a “worker of the Creator,” whose actions are all for the sake of the Creator. But if a person works for his own sake and not for the sake of the Creator, this is regarded as his work being idol-worship and not work for the Creator.
It follows that the whole difference between idol-worshippers and Israel in the work is that “Israel” means that he wants to work for the sake of the Creator, and although he is still enslaved to the evil inclination and cannot subdue it, because he is walking on the path that leads to working for the sake of the Creator, he is already regarded as “Israel,” since he wants to achieve this degree.
But when a person wants to work in a state of “Israel,” which we said is regarded as working in the state of “individuals,” then all the bad in a person stands against him. That is, before he decided to go as “Israel” and his work was in the manner of the general public, he looked at the things he was doing and believed that for every single action he would receive a reward—a reward of this world and a reward of the next world. It was easy for him to do good deeds because this was not against the evil inclination, called “will to receive for himself.”
But now that he wants to work in order to annul his own authority and leave only one authority in the world—the authority of the Creator—the will to receive for himself objects to this. Then comes the wicked’s question, who asks, “What is the work for you? The fact that you want to work not for your own sake, what will you get out of it?” There is no answer to this, but as it is written, “Blunt its teeth.”
It follows that then a person needs help in order to be able to emerge from the control of the evil inclination. At that time, his only choice is what the Creator said, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice.” It follows that now is the real time when a person needs the help of the Torah to pull him out of the control of the evil inclination.
According to the above, what should one prepare in himself in order to receive the Torah? It is the need for the Torah, and a need is called a Kli [vessel]. There cannot be filling without a lack. This is similar to a person asking his friend when he invites him to come in the evening for a meal that he has prepared for him, “How should I prepare myself for eating at your place?” He will probably tell him, “Be careful not to eat at home before you come to me because then you will not be able to eat at my place.”
Likewise, in order to receive the Torah, a person must prepare himself—to have a need called a Kli, that the Torah can fill. This applies specifically when he wants to work for the sake of the Creator, for then he encounters the resistance of the body, which yells, “What is this work for you?” But a person believes in the sages, who said that only the Torah can deliver a person from the control of the evil inclination. This can be said only of those who want to be “Israel,” meaning Yashar-El [straight to the Creator]. They see that the evil inclination does not let them emerge from their control, and then they have a need to receive the Torah so the light of the Torah will reform them.
Now we can understand what our sages said, “A word of Torah is not to be given to an idol-worshipper, as was said, ‘He did not do so for any nation, and let them not know the ordinances,’” since they have no need for the Torah. One who does work that is foreign to us, meaning for his own sake, can live without the Torah, for he does not need the help of the Torah. Only Israel—those who want to work for the sake of the Creator—need the light of Torah, for “the light in it reforms him.” That is, it is impossible to defeat the evil within him without the Torah.
By this we can interpret what our sages said, “The Torah exists only in one who puts himself to death over it.” We should understand the word “exists.” What does it tell us? We should interpret this according to what our sages said, “The Creator said, ‘I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice.’” That is, the Torah should be a spice. In whom is this so, since “There is no light without a Kli, no filling without a lack”?
For this reason, they said that those who want to put their selves to death, meaning want to put to death the will to receive for their own sake, and want to do everything for the sake of the Creator, see that they cannot do this on their own. To them the Creator said, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice.”
But in those who do not want to annul themselves and want there to be two authorities—meaning that man’s authority will remain and the Creator will give them and they will extract the delight and pleasure at His disposal and hand it over to the receivers—the Torah does not exist. That is, the Torah does not become a spice for them, since they do not want it to be a spice, and if there is no desire and need, which are the Kli, there is no light.
Now we can understand why it is forbidden to teach Torah to idol-worshippers in the work. It means that one who is practicing work that is foreign to us, meaning works for himself, since the Torah is for the evil inclination, so that one who wants to revoke it but cannot, it was said about him, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created the Torah as a spice.”
But one who wants to work for his own sake—which is idol-worship—has no need for the Torah. Therefore, if he learns Torah, the Torah will not exist in him in terms of what the Torah is meant to give. Thus, what is the preparation for the reception of the Torah? The need for the help of the Torah. And this is done by wanting to aim everything for the sake of the Creator. Then we need the Torah to give the help.