Baal HaSulam, Shamati #219 “Devotion”: But during the Katnut (smallness), one does not feel any benefit for oneself since one does not presently feel any pleasure in the servitude. … And the more he works, the suffering increases proportionally. Finally, the suffering and the labor accumulate to a certain amount until the Creator has mercy on him and gives him the taste in the servitude of the Creator, as it is written, “Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high.”
Question: What does it mean that the Creator took pity on the man?
Answer: In essence, the Creator is not obliged to do anything for us. We demand and think that He has to help us. But on what grounds? He owes us nothing.
In the past, there was a custom that those sentenced to death kneeled before the king and thanked him for his mercy. The King is such a high position that even his judgment is mercy. Malchut (kingdom) means judgment, justice. Since the King granted a person attention from his infinite height, then all his orders are turned into mercy and they are to be accepted as the most gracious. This is customary according to the laws of the true kingdom.
A person works and eventually gets strength, allowing him to rise to the next degree. But at the same time he reveals that he rose not by his strengths but he just fulfilled the condition, after which he received help from above. The Creator gives him the screen, due to which a person reveals a higher degree. It is always mercy on the part of the Creator because a person has not worked on this degree yet.
We never work on the higher degree and do not know what we do. Our task is to fulfill several conditions, after which the Creator will have mercy and help us. Our effort is important. It is established from above that for his efforts a person receives what he is not able to achieve himself.
It comes as a gift of higher mercy. We attain just a thin line of the entire huge circle of the universe. Everything else is connected to us later, extracted from the vast sea of impure forces by higher mercy. But it cannot be said that we get all this for free because the reward comes as a result of our efforts to correct the relations with each other.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 12/8/13, Shamati #219 “Devotion”