BASI L’GANI – 5718 –
December 26, 2017
The Rebbe in #1099, Basi L'Gani, D'var Malchus

Beis Moshiach presents the maamer the Rebbe MHM delivered on Yud-Alef Shvat 5718, in accordance with the custom established by the Rebbe to review each year a section of the Rebbe Rayatzs hemshechBasi LGaniof 5710. • This year we focus on the eighth section of the profound and foundational Chassidic discourse. * Section 3 of 8

Translated by Boruch Merkur

WHAT MAKES ACTION DIFFERENT

3.  To explain the above kabbalistic discussion in the lexicon of Chassidus: It is written, “I have created it, formed it, even made it” (Yeshayahu 43:7). The three terms here – “created – brasiv ,” “formed – y’tzartiv,” “even made – asisiv” – allude to the three worlds: Bria, Yetzira, Asiya. In the soul of man, these three worlds correspond to the three garments of the soul: thought, speech, and action. Although these three share the common element of being mere garments of the soul [and not the soul itself], one of the three stands out – action.

Thought and speech are not separate from the person [they are, rather, essential to his nature], for which reason they exist only in man [and not in the animal, plant, or mineral kingdoms]. Indeed, man is referred to as “medaber,” a speaking creature. Also, speech is understood only by man. The power of action, on the other hand, exists of course in the animal kingdom and even in the mineral kingdom, in the sense that inanimate objects are subject to being physically handled or manipulated. Thus, action is set apart from the other two garments of the soul, being removed from the person [i.e., it does not define the unique character of man].

A similar distinction exists in the macrocosm, insofar as the lowest of the three worlds, Asiya [which corresponds to action], is separate from the higher worlds. Regarding Asiya it is written, “even made – af asisiv” – “even – af” serves to distinguish one concept from another [here distinguishing Asiya from the higher worlds – Yetzira and Bria].

The distinct quality of action is apparent in the shape of the letter Hei, which is composed of three kavim (lines that appear in different positions to form the letter). The upper, horizontal line and the vertical line on the right side it is connected with signify thought and speech, and the disjoined left side signifies action. Embodying the notion that the power of action is distinct from the powers of thought and speech, the left side is separate from the other two lines of the Hei.

THE WORK OF “YOUR HANDS”

Above we learned that the Hebrew letters are symbolic of the various manners of G-dly revelation. The shape of the letter Hei – with its three kavim signifying thought, speech, and action – teaches that the three garments of the soul are to be filled with G-dly light. G-dliness should be apparent not only in the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos in thought, speech, and action, but even in non-obligatory matters (divrei ha’r’shus); even in mundane activity the three garments of his soul are to be dedicated to G-d.

Here we speak not only of physical things used for a Mitzva – such as food consumed on Shabbos, when the eating itself is a Mitzva – but even divrei r’shus [activities that have no direct connection with performing a Mitzva]. When done with the correct mindset, all mundane activity is like a hechsher Mitzva, the preparation required to do a Mitzva. All these activities constitute the Divine service of “Know Him in all your ways” (Mishlei 3:6).

Take for example the pursuit of a livelihood. Not only does one’s conduct in business have to be strictly kosher and ethical – avoiding deceit (onaa), encroaching on boundaries (hasagas g’vul), deferring the repayment of loans, and the like – he also must be careful not to be overly immersed in his occupation, consumed by and obsessed with work. One should exert no more than “the power of action” into his worldly endeavors, as it is written, “the work of your hands” (T’hillim 128:2); the mind and heart are to be reserved strictly for Torah study and prayer. Also, a Jew’s work should be done entirely for the sake of Heaven, to be able to give charity and do other Mitzvos; he works to make a living to enable him to serve G-d.

WHERE IS THE LOVE AND FEAR OF G-D?

When one’s business practice is unsavory he takes on an unhealthy mindset, causing him to forget that it is “the blessing of G-d that bestows wealth” (Mishlei 10:22), and it appears to him that it was “my ability and the might of my hand that made for me this fortune” (Eikev 8:17).

The detrimental effect, however, extends even beyond the realm of business and finance, affecting other aspects of his Divine service. Inappropriate business practice sullies and detracts from even the benefits derived from avodas ha’t’filla (prayer).

The Mitteler Rebbe elaborates: Avodas ha’t’filla results in an increase in fear and love of G-d, be it fear of G-d Himself or at least the fear of Divine retribution. Nevertheless, when it comes to the practical application of love and fear of G-d, many people fall short. [When put to the test] where is the love and fear of G-d?

The Mitteler Rebbe answers by explaining that in general there are two approaches to making a livelihood, as it is written, “In His left hand is wealth and honor” – there is the approach of “wealth” and the approach of “honor.” “Wealth” here means that in order to attain wealth the person invests heavily in his business, even borrowing money from others to finance it. There is also a manner by which the person is granted his livelihood in an “honorable” fashion. That is, even if he does not invest so heavily to grow his business, he is granted his income in a way that transcends nature.

Now, even when one takes on the first approach to making a living, one must ensure that it is done in a holy manner. That is, he should not be overly involved in it, and it should not detract from his designated times to study Torah and for t’filla, being necessary to know that it is the “the blessing of G-d that bestows wealth.” Also, all business dealings must be for the sake of Heaven.

But when one immerses himself in and becomes preoccupied with his work, he detracts from and diminishes the fear of G-d and fear of sin he attained through avodas ha’t’filla. This kind of preoccupation with work is broadly detrimental, resulting in the person losing even his fear of sin.

Our Sages provide the following advice for dealing with these problems: “Anyone who receives upon himself the yoke of Heaven … the yoke of worldly concerns is removed from him” (Avos 3:5). That is, regarding Torah it is written, “It is your wisdom and understanding (even) to the eyes of the Gentile nations” (VaEs’chanan 4:6), yet one’s preoccupation with work denies him not only the ability to perceive the G-dly pleasure in Torah study, he cannot even appreciate the intellectual pleasure in it. Nevertheless, by accepting the yoke of Torah, by committing himself to Torah and immersing himself in it with kabbalas ol, then “the yoke of worldly concerns is removed from him.”

(To be continued)

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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