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Doing Our Work in the Upper Worlds

Topic: Personal Transformation | Posted:June 4, 2014

There was a great kabbalist named Rav Yitzhak Isaac of Komarno, who was a student of the students of the Baal Shem Tov. He has a commentary on the Torah called The Chamber of Blessings, which is pages upon pages long. He must have spent an unbelievable amount of time writing just on this week’s portion; however, today there are very few people who read or study it.

But then you realize - and this is an important lesson for all of us – these kabbalists like Rav Yitzhak of Komarno weren’t doing their work in our world. While most of us do our work in this world, the work of the kabbalists is not done in this world; it’s done in the Upper Worlds.

Therefore, if you asked Rav Yitzhak Isaac of Komarno today if he felt bad about all those months that he spent writing, when today not many people are reading his writings, his answer, of course, would be no, because he wasn’t revealing it for the purpose of people studying it. He was revealing it because that revelation, that act of understanding and writing it, revealed Light in this world and the Upper Worlds, and that was their purpose.

In the beginning of this week’s portion it says that Aaron lit the Menorah, and there’s an amazing statement in the Midrash which says that when Aaron was worried because the leaders of the other tribes brought sacrifices and he didn’t, the Creator said to him, “Your lights will never extinguish.” The Creator tells him not to worry because what he’s going to do - the lighting of the Menorah, the candelabra, in the Mishkan - lasts forever.

However, as the commentators point out, on a literal level that’s not true, because once the Tabernacle no longer existed and the Temple was destroyed, the candles were no longer lit. But Rav Moshe Alshich, one of the great kabbalists who lived in the time of the Ari, says that the light that Aaron lit on this Shabbat was not lit in our world. Yes, he might’ve done it also in the Tabernacle, but he lit up the Upper Worlds, and the light in the Upper Worlds shined from the moment he lit them until the time of the coming of Mashiach. And that’s where our work needs to be.

When we do any revelation of Light, yes, it has to have a physical manifestation, but that’s not where we need to be focused. That’s not what should be exciting us. What should be exciting us is thinking about what we are doing in the Upper Worlds, what Light we are revealing in the Upper Worlds. For example, if I taught 100 people, and they are excited, and I helped them make a little bit of change in their lives, I shouldn’t be excited about the fact that there are now 100 people who think I’m a great teacher, but rather that hopefully the process we just went through revealed some Light in the Upper Worlds.

This understanding of doing our spiritual work in the Upper Worlds is an important shift of focus, because then all the physical things don’t matter, like how many people know about what we’re doing, or how many people like what we’re doing. None of that comes into the equation, because you’re not doing the work for anything in this world. You’re doing this work for the Supernal Worlds.

Therefore, Rav Yitzhak Isaac of Komarna can write a whole commentary, and he doesn’t care if anybody reads it today because what he was doing as he was revealing this was lighting, like Aaron, the candelabra in the Upper World that shines forever. Work that shines forever is work that is not done in this world. And if you’re teaching one person and your ego is involved with him in the sense that you say to yourself, “I’m a great teacher now because I see I’ve influenced this person,” then you’ve actually taken that Light which is supposed to go up into the Upper Worlds and brought it back down and kept it in this world.

There’s a famous story about the Baal Shem Tov, that once he went to a synagogue and stood at the doorway and didn’t go in. Somebody asked him why he didn’t go in, and he said, “Because the room is filled with study and prayer. “ So they asked him, “Who wouldn’t want to be around study and prayer?” He told them, “You don’t understand. It says in the Zohar that when our spiritual work is not done with a proper consciousness, then it doesn’t elevate into the Upper Worlds.”

The proper consciousness of our spiritual work is what allows it to fly up into the Upper Worlds. If our ego is involved in our spiritual work, it keeps it all in this world. What the Baal Shem Tov was saying was that he couldn’t go into the synagogue because everything they were doing there was based on the ego, and, therefore, yes, even though they were studying and praying, it all stayed there.

We need our spiritual work to fly up into the Upper Worlds. What allows our work to do that is when we’re not doing it to be appreciated, because that consciousness literally acts like a weight on our spiritual work keeping it in this world. It never shines in the Upper Worlds. It never gives you blessings. It never does anything for us or for the world, because the consciousness of the ego keeps it in this world.

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