There are two principles: Hillel said, “That which you hate, do not do to your friend,” and Rabbi Akiva said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The first principle refers to Bina, which is divided into two parts:
- One is neutral, the main thing for it is not to harm anyone. I always watch myself in order to be a “good boy,” seemingly to “hover over the earth,” not involving my ego. I have no shirt? Well, I don’t need it. I live in the “forest,” away from everyone, and don’t communicate with anyone. Thus, I follow the principle, “That which you hate, do not do to your friend.” Beware of causing any harm to others, just as I would not want to be harmed by them. These are the first three Sefirot of Bina.
- This brings me to the “continuation of the original phrase,” to the seven lower Sefirot of Bina, to the vessels of reception. Now, I check myself on the subject of “short weight”: Perhaps I, in some way, deprive others? Perhaps I do not contribute to the good that they could receive? This still does not touch my “main egoistic capital.” I am not ready yet to sacrifice something of myself, but already feel the need to assist others. While I do not correct my desire to receive, I already add something to the desire to bestow. Due to the previous stages of correction, I begin to recognize opportunities to benefit others: “Ah, he can earn here, and this will bring him good.” And I contribute to these opportunities. This is the transitional phase that will lead me to true bestowal.
In the meantime, it is not real bestowal, not self-denial for the sake of the other. For example, I have earned five thousand dollars last month, and only two thousand is sufficient for me. The question arises: If I follow the principle of “that which you hate, do not do to your friend,” must I give three thousand dollars to the other?
The answer is no. After all, I do not work with the receiving vessels, do not forgo my own, but I remain fully in the property of mercy (Hassadim) and just contribute to the good of others. I have a good heart, and I am ready to help others, but not at my own expense. Thus, I work with egoism on level 0, level 1 and partially on level 2 of Aviut (the “thickness” of desire), but not in the desire of AHP that belongs to levels 2, 3, and 4.
The upper part of my vessel, my total desire to enjoy, is the vessels of bestowal (248 desires), and the lower part is the vessels of reception (365 desires). The vessels of bestowal are in the state of Hafetz Hesed (HH), in the property of mercy, and want to bestow in order to bestow, but the lower vessels receive in order to bestow. Accordingly, in the first part, I carry out “purification,” and in the second part correction, becoming similar to the Creator by properties. Here, I already form my human likeness: the human image, similar to the Creator.
In general, this corrected desire with the altruistic intention is called the “soul.”
Thus, Hillel’s principle belongs to the upper part of the vessel, and Rabbi Akiva’s principle to the lower part. Of course, in any case, I work with my egoism and must overcome it. However, the work according to the first principle does not require me to suffer losses, give up my assets, and this is their fundamental difference.
It is important to remember that we are talking about a person who wants to adhere to the Creator (C), and that is why he asks: “How can I achieve adhesion? How can I enter the upper world, spirituality?” These questions first push him in the vessels of reception, to the left line, and then bring him to Hillel’s principle. Afterward, this decision leads him down again and lets him work with his egoistic desires.
This path is described in the example of a convert who goes to a sage to ask advice. First, he asks Shamai to teach him to love the other as himself, but is refused because it is impossible to reach the goal at one go. Then, he goes to Hillel and asks him to explain the entire Kabbalistic method while he is standing on one foot, that is, to describe the means of advancement by one rule. In response, Hillel formulates the principle of “that which you hate, do not do to your friend,” that is, he clarifies what actions are needed for this.
Thus, according to the law of creation, the principle or adhesion with the Creator is divided into two parts:
- “That which you hate, do not do to your friend”;
- “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
If I consistently advance according to this order, I eventually reach love for the Creator.
Question: Following the principle of “that which you hate, do not do to your friend,” I carry out physical actions. How can I combine this with the correct intention?
Answer: The same principle works in our world, in the spiritual world, in ordinary life, and among the friends. No matter in what environment I am, I must stand at the level of this environment and try to behave in the same way as I would want them to behave toward me. Consequently, in the group, I follow the friends’ desires and their goal, and at work, I adjust my attitude to the desires of my colleagues. And I do so everywhere.
I put myself in the situation of the other and thus measure my attitude toward him, and this is already bestowal. Indeed, I do not wish evil to myself, and hence, I for sure will bring good to the other.
This is more than an exercise; this is already an action, correction. It is not important whether I act egoistically. It cannot be otherwise. My actions always stem from egoism. However, with this approach, they draw to me the Light that Reforms, and then I change. That is why it is said that the heart follows the actions. First, I act according to Hillel’s saying, and then the Light comes and corrects me.
Question: So, could we say that the criterion of my advancement is the measure of love for the other that I attain?
Answer: Of course, how could it be otherwise? Spiritual degrees are different precisely in their measure of bestowal.
Question: Over the past four to five years, I only was able to understand that I am not good. The only thing I can do is to try not to harm others. Nothing more.
Answer: If you are thinking about how not to cause harm to others, you have gone a long way. The very acceptance of this thought in your head is a great achievement.
Question: In fact, bestowal for the sake of bestowal also is egoistic because in the end, I wish good to the others just because I wish good to myself. This only provides me with a more comfortable life.
Answer: Then, why has humanity not adopted this principle yet? The problem is that it is repulsive to our nature, which demands that others feel bad. We see how entire countries wallow in silly conflicts, the basis of which is primitive pride. This costs a huge amount of resources, billions in investment, a lot of nerves and troubles. Yet, nevertheless, on the whole, the world acts egoistically, and nothing in it could be called “bestowal for the sake of bestowal.”
Question: I suppose that “bestowal for the sake of bestowal” is something naïve, abstract. What is it in reality?
Answer: It is an action directed against the will, against my egoism. It requires that I bow my head, feel the other, stand in his place, “tried myself on” him, and him on myself. Here, you need a very deep understanding of psychology.
The principle of “that which you hate, do not do to your friend” comprises half of the entire method, half of the correction of the soul. Having implemented it, I rise to the level of Partzuf Abba ve Ima of the world of Atzilut, I obtain the Lights of Hassadim. They contain the illumination of Hochma because I cancel my egoism.
In order not to cause harm to the other, I must stop myself, work on myself. I do him a favor — only not at my expense, without giving away my possessions, but by compromising and agreeing for his benefit. In our world, these actions are thought to be generous and benevolent, and we even think that we are able to perform them altruistically.
Anyway, with the right approach, with the help of the Light that Reforms, they gradually guide me along the way. Each time, my desire to bestow grows while I pursue my own interest, seek reward, but the Light brings me to the true payment.
I repeat, we must perform actions, the Light will follow the actions, and changes will come after the Light. In the beginning, I purify my vessels from the egoistic intention. Thus, even my most evil offences turn into the category of oversights. Then, I proceed directly to correction, building my human resemblance from clean “material.”
Thus, “that which you hate, do not do to your friend.” This is the entire method, and if you take this path, it will lead you to the goal.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/30/13, Writings of Baal HaSulam
Acquaintance With The Evil Inclination
Bestowal Has No Limits
Standing With One Foot On The Next Level