After a person is awakened to spirituality, the rest of his ascent depends on the deficiency. This is the only thing he is required to do—to have a deficiency called prayer, MAN.
This is possible only when a person is grateful that he has received such a yearning. Then he increases the importance of the goal by himself; the importance of the next level. In addition, it is possible if above all this he also develops another deficiency in him, to ascend not for his own sake but in order to bring the Creator contentment. It is like the famous example of the guest who wants to please the host.
Thus he prepares himself to receive help from Above which will make his desire the right one. Even if a person doesn’t understand to what extent our account is actually egoistic, it makes no difference and for the time being this is also enough. Later he will see that his account isn’t clean. This is why the time of preparation is called Lo Lishma (Not for Her Sake).
It is a natural egoistic account and it is impossible to skip above our ego all at once. It opens up gradually to the extent we can make an effort and work against it—against things we find pleasant, against our habits, and to the extent that we are ready to step on our pride in order to connect with others.
All this isn’t simple, but if a person constantly pays attention to it, he advances. Our problem is that everyone is trying to escape and to hide in his corner, to hide behind the studying, behind the desire to know what is written, which has nothing to do with spiritual advancement and the inner correction. A person fills his mind with dry facts and neglects the work in the heart.
The work in the heart is working against the heart, in order to turn the “stony heart” into the “heart of flesh.” But we forget where our main exertion should be. Everyone finds some comfortable spot and thinks that he has found the way. Thus he descends even from Lo Lishma, since Lo Lishma is when despite being in my ego I still make some efforts to rise above it.
Where is the daily work to connect with others, to concede, to step on myself, to annul my “self,” to accept the importance of the group’s opinion, to become a slave to the mission? Can I examine myself and see the state I am in? This is called Lo Lishma.
All of Moses’ work in Egypt is an example of working in Lo Lishma. He wants to escape the enslavement, but he is afraid because he understands that he is under the domination of Pharaoh, of his ego, and he doesn’t know how to talk to him. It reaches a state that the Creator Himself takes him and brings him to Pharaoh and helps him in everything that he does.
The Creator Himself fights the Pharaoh. He says: “Come to the Pharaoh!” But in the meantime a person is afraid. He knows that the ego totally controls him and how weak he is when he confronts him. He is in a constant dilemma: On the one hand, he is ready, and the other hand he isn’t. If he could at least ask the Creator to go before him, just to hide behind Him and thus stand before the Pharaoh; but he actually doesn’t want to go and he doesn’t have the guts to turn not only to his ego but also to his own attributes, called “the nation of Israel.”
But by being in a system that connects him with Pharaoh, the Creator, and the nation he has to clarify all these connections. He cannot hide behind some theory or some work that is only a means. It is very important to clarify what Lo Lishma means.
When a person enters the state of Lishma (For Her Sake), things become clearer and more decisive. We cannot say that it gets easier, but one profits from experience. In the meantime, however, during the time of preparation, a person escapes to some corner ready to sit there until his last day. It is a great problem if the group doesn’t spur him and guide him. He has to feel that he is lower than them in order to hear what they say.
The feeling of helplessness on the one hand and the necessity to advance on the other is a state called Yomim Norai’im (the Days of Awe). A person is in a state of anxiety since he has no fear of not being able to fulfill the Creator’s desire, of not being able to allow Him to be revealed to all the created beings, of not being able to sacrifice himself for the convergence of the Creator to the created beings.
All this evokes fear in him. He really wants to fulfill this stage in practice, so that it will be called the beginning of a new year for him.
From the Preparation to the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 9/14/12