Answer: Kabbalists call the efforts against one’s desire work.
Let’s say I want to lie down, but despite that I get up and go to work. In our world, this is what we call making an effort. But we forget that if I get up and go to work, this is already my will. It means that I overcame my desire to lie down on the couch and watch football and decided that it would be better to go to work and earn money. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to get up and set off for work to waste my energy there. Even if by overcoming, I’ve nonetheless,used my desire.
That is, I exchange one desire for another because I see this as a clear benefit. This is the physical work in our world, work that everybody performs: athletes, artists, workers, it does not matter who and how. If a person can overcome himself and accomplish something, it is his material, physical work. What if he cannot? Approach with a whip and he will want it.
In other words, if by shaming, condemning, inflicting suffering, or affecting a person in any other way it is possible to change his desire and force him to perform a particular activity, this is called the work of our world. In the end, he’ll want to do the work to avoid suffering.
By definition, spiritual work is impossible to perform. A person inherently cannot do it by himself because the upper Light or the Creator does it for him. That is why this work is called the Creator’s work.
The truth of the matter is that I have to ask the Creator to perform this work for me. Meaning that my requests and pleas are the preparation for Him to correct me—this is my work.
He has to perform the work because the property of absolute bestowal and love are completely nonexistent in the framework of my nature. And in accordance with the way I am created, I am not capable of performing the spiritual work.
That is why I have to persuade the upper Light that I really want for it to do it on my behalf. So, why would this work be written on my behalf? Because I’ve succeeded in persuading the Creator. I did everything for this to happen and that is why it’s considered my work, although it is called “the work of the Creator.” This means that He performs, but I beg and plead for it to happen.
This is the only possibility for a person’s free will in our world, in our condition.
From KabTV’s lesson in Russian 12/18/16