Baal Hasulam, “The Arvut” (Mutual Guarantee), (abridged version): “The impression that comes to a person when engaging in Mitzvot between man and God is completely the same as the impression he gets when engaging in Mitzvot between man and man. He is obliged to perform all the Mitzvot Lishma (for Her name), without any hope for self-love. Here, in this exalted point, the love of the Creator and the love of his friend unite and actually become one. Thus he affects a certain measure of advancement on the ladder of love for others in all the people of the world in general. And one who cannot overcome and conquer his filthy self-love, sentences himself and the whole world to the scale of sin”
We don’t know what bestowal is. We only know it is the opposite of us, opposite to our nature, our desire, our tendencies, and all our attributes. So how can we go against our nature? How can we resist the main force that is imprinted in us?
Fish swim upstream to the place where they lay their eggs. It is hard to swim against the stream, but nature obliges them to, and this is a hint for us: If a person wants to be something worthwhile, he has to go against the stream.
It is hard work to overcome one’s nature. Where do we get the power to do it? How can I demand them to? Do I only want to rest and not ask where I can get the power to do that? Even if my power grows, according to egoism, it is only in order to make a double profit from it. What about the damage? It is the opposite; I am up to my ears in egoistic desires. If I cause myself harm, it can break me, but sometimes it can make me go even through unpleasant situations.
But we are talking about practical bestowal here. How can I actually advance towards it, if nature has denied me the possibility to do so? My “car” doesn’t run without fuel, meaning without calculations of egoistic gain.
In fact, Kabbalists tell us that we can’t reach bestowal by ourselves, and that we can’t ask for the power of bestowal, but we can ask for bestowal egoistically, so that there will be something left in it for us. Such an intention to reach maximum detachment from ourselves is called “Lo Lishma,” (not for its sake).
How can one reach that? In order to do so I have to be in a group. There is no other way. The group is outside me and I want to act in its favor. What for? I am told that I gain the upper World this way. “Wow! A whole eternal world? It’s worth it!”
And so I make great efforts to bestow hoping for a reward in return. Everyone wants to gain something; it is natural and legitimate. I don’t operate alone, but with the friends who also want to gain the upper World. And even if we, like “healthy egoists,” are ready to give each other something in order to get something from Above in return, I still study together with the friends, bow my head before them, and hear from them how important bestowal is.
At first I translate everything into self-benefit: “Of course bestowal is important. After all thanks to it I will get the upper World.” This means that instead of bestowal, I hear the words “to receive.” But I still hear, and gradually this idea takes on a form inside me and turns into something that I didn’t actually ask for. Thus, I gradually move from “Lo Lishma” to the altruistic intention of “Lishma,” (for its sake).
“Is that possible? I really didn’t ask for it….” True, but now I see the benefit it brings. The values inside me begin to change, and suddenly the attribute of bestowal itself becomes a treasure for me. “It is better to get rid of the attribute of receiving. It brings me nothing but trouble. It is better to bestow.” In the meantime it is “Lo Lishma,” but I continue, I want to get rid of the problems and the troubles, I am looking for the true meaning of life, and the Light that is concealed in the method of Kabbalah reforms me a little.
All my actions and my intentions are egoistic, inside me I think lightly of the whole world and deride everyone. I only have to grab the feet of the Creator… and yet, by all this I reach the reforming Light.
It makes no difference which attributes I was given from the start, because it is the Creator who created them. It doesn’t matter what thoughts and desires awaken in me, after all they all come from Him. What’s important is to make as many efforts as possible to connect and to study. Then I draw the Light and it changes me, it actually performs an operation in my heart, in my soul.
And so bestowal becomes a value for me. I think less and less about receiving. I find bestowal in its pure form attractive. A new perception ripens in me: There is nothing better than to live in bestowal and to forget about myself.
At first I expect to get rid of all the troubles with the help of the upper world, but soon this personal reward will also disappear. We should simply let the Light do its job, and I will not be able to believe that I was such an egoist. The Light performs this long operation and gradually implants the attribute of bestowal in me.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 11/21/11, “The Arvut”