Select excerpts from “The Freedom” by Rav Yehuda Ashlag


FOR SOCIAL LIFE, THE LAW, “TAKE AFTER THE COLLECTIVE”

Now we have come to a clear understanding of the sentence concerning the freedom of the individual. Indeed, there is a question: “Where did the collective take the right to expropriate the freedom of the individual and deny him of the most precious thing in life, freedom?” Seemingly, there is no more than brute force here.

But as we have clearly explained above, it is a natural law and the decree of Providence. And because Providence compels each of us to conduct a social life, it naturally follows that each person is obligated to secure the existence and well-being of society. And that cannot exist but through imposing the conduct of “Taking after the Collective,” ignoring the opinion of the individual.

Thus, you evidently see that this is the origin of every right and justification that the collective has to expropriate the freedom of the individual against his will, and to place him under its authority. Therefore, it is understood that with regard to all those matters that do not concern the existence of the material life of the society, there is no justification for the collective to rob and abuse the freedom of the individual in any way. And if they do, they are deemed robbers and thieves who prefer brute force to any right and justice in the world, since here the obligation of the individual to obey the will of the collective does not apply.

IN SPIRITUAL LIFE, “TAKE AFTER THE INDIVIDUAL”

It turns out that as far as spiritual life is concerned, there is no natural obligation on the individual to abide by the society in any way. On the contrary, here applies a natural law over the collective, to subjugate itself to the individual. And it is clarified in the Article, “The Peace,” that there are two ways by which Providence has enveloped and surrounded us, to bring us to the end:

A. A Path of Pain, which develops us in this manner unconsciously.

B. A Path of Torah and wisdom, which consciously develops us in this manner without any agony or coercion.

And since the more developed in the generation is certainly the individual, it follows that when the public wants to relieve themselves of the terrible agony and assume conscious and voluntary development, which is the path of Torah, they have no choice but to subjugate themselves and their physical freedom to the discipline of the individual, and obey the orders and remedies that he will offer them.

Thus you see that in spiritual matters, the authority of the collective is overturned and the law of “Taking after the Individual” is applied, that is, the developed individual. For it is plain to see that the developed and the educated in every society are always a small minority. It follows that the success and spiritual well-being of society is bottled and sealed in the hands of the minority.

Therefore, the collective is obliged to meticulously guard all the views of the few, so they will not perish from the world. This is because they must know for certain, in complete confidence, that the truer and more developed views are never in the hands of the collective in authority, but rather in the hands of the weakest, that is, in the hands of the indistinguishable minority. This is because every wisdom and everything precious comes into the world in small quantities. Therefore, we are cautioned to preserve the views of all the individuals, due to the collective’s inability to tell wrong from right among them.

CRITICISM BRINGS SUCCESS; LACK OF CRITICISM CAUSES DECADENCE

We must further add that reality presents to our eyes extreme oppositeness between physical things and the concepts and ideas regarding the above topic. For the matter of social unity, which can be the source of every joy and success, applies particularly among bodies and bodily matters in people, and the separation between them is the source of every calamity and misfortune.

But with concepts and ideas, it is the complete opposite: unity and lack of criticism is deemed the source of every failure and hindrance to all the progress and didactic fertilization. This is because drawing the right conclusions depends particularly on the multiplicity of disagreements and separation between opinions. The more contradictions there are between opinions and the more criticism there is, the more the knowledge and wisdom increase and matters become more suitable for examination and clarification.

The degeneration and failure of intelligence stem only from the lack of criticism and disagreement. Thus, evidently, the whole basis of physical success is the measure of unity of the society, and the basis for the success of intelligence and knowledge is the separation and disagreement among them.

It turns out that when humankind achieves its goal, with respect to the success of the bodies, by bringing them to the degree of complete love of others, all the bodies in the world will unite into a single body and a single heart, as written in the article, “The Peace.” Only then will all the happiness intended for humanity become revealed in all its glory.

But against that, we must be watchful to not bring the views of people so close that disagreement and criticism might be terminated from among the wise and scholarly, for the love of the body naturally brings with it proximity of views. And should criticism and disagreement vanish, all progress in concepts and ideas will cease, too, and the source of knowledge in the world will dry out.

This is the proof of the obligation to caution with the freedom of the individual regarding concepts and ideas. For the whole development of the wisdom and knowledge is based on that freedom of the individual. Thus, we are cautioned to preserve it very carefully, so each and every form within us, which we call “individual,” that is, the particular force of a single person, generally named the “will to receive.”

ANCESTRAL HERITAGE

All the details of the pictures that this will to receive includes, which we have defined as the “source,” or the First Reason, whose meaning includes all the tendencies and customs inherited from his ancestors, which we picture as a long chain of thousands of people who once were alive, and who stand one atop of the other. Each of them is an essential drop of his ancestors, and that drop brings each person all the spiritual possessions of his ancestors into his “medulla oblongata” (the elongated brain), called “subconscious.” Thus, the individual before us has, in his subconscious, all the thousands of spiritual legacies from all the individuals represented in that chain, which are his ancestors.

Thus, just as the face of each and every person differs, so their views differ. There are no two people on earth whose opinions are identical, because each person has a great and sublime possession inherited from his ancestors, and which others have no shred of them.

Therefore, all those possessions are considered the individual’s property, and society is cautioned to preserve its flavor and spirit so as to not be blurred by its environment. Rather, each individual should maintain the integrity of his inheritance. Then, the contradiction and oppositeness between them will remain forever, to forever secure the criticism and progress of the wisdom, which is humanity’s advantage and its true eternal desire.

And after we have come to a certain measure of recognition in man’s selfishness, which we have determined as a force and a “will to receive,” being the essential point of the bare being, we have also learned thoroughly clear, from all sides, the original possession of each body, which we have defined as “ancestral heritage.” This pertains to all the potential tendencies and qualities that have come into his “source” by inheritance, which is the first substance of every person, that is, the initial seed of his forefathers. Now we shall clarify the two discernments in the will to receive.

First, we must understand that although this selfishness, which we have defined as the “will to receive,” is the very essence of man, it cannot exist in reality even for a second. For what we call “potential,” meaning before it emerges from potential to actual, exists only in our thought, meaning that only the thought can determine it.

But in fact, there cannot be any real force in the world that is dormant and inactive. This is because the force exists in reality only while it is revealed in action. By the same token, you cannot say about an infant that it is very strong when it cannot lift even the lightest weight, but you can say that you see in that infant that when it grows, it will manifest great strength.

However, we do say that that strength we find in man when he is grown was present in his organs and his body even when he was an infant, but that strength had been concealed and was not apparent. It is true that in our minds we could determine (the powers destined to manifest), since the mind asserts it. However, in the infant’s actual body there is certainly no strength at all, since no strength manifests in the infant’s actions.

So it is with appetite. This force will not appear in a man’s body in the actual reality, when the organs cannot eat, meaning when he is satiated. But even when one is satiated, the force of appetite exists, but it is concealed in man’s body. After some time, when the food had been digested, it reappears and manifests from potential to actual.

However, such a sentence, of determining a potential force that has not yet been revealed in actual fact, belongs to the conducts by which the thought perceives. But it does not exist in reality, since when satiated, we feel very clearly that the force of appetite is gone, and if you search for it, you will find it nowhere.

It turns out that we cannot display a potential as a subject that exists in and of itself, but only as a predicate. Thus, when an action occurs in reality, at that time the force manifests in the action.

Yet, we necessarily find two things here, in the perceiving process: a subject and a predicate, that is, potential and actual, such as the force of appetite, which is the subject, and the image of the dish, which is the predicate and the action. In reality, however, they come as one. It will never occur that the force of appetite will appear in a person without picturing the dish he wishes to eat. Thus, these are two halves of the same thing. The force of appetite must dress in that image. You therefore see that the subject and the predicate are presented at once, and become absent at once.

Now we understand that the will to receive, which we presented as selfishness, does not mean that it exists so in a person, as a craving force that wishes to receive in the form of a passive predicate. Rather, this pertains to the subject, which dresses in the image of the eatable object, and whose operation appears in the form of the thing being eaten, and in which it clothes. We call that action, “desire,” meaning the force of appetite, revealed in the action of the imagination.

And so it is with our topic—the general will to receive, which is the very essence of man. It appears and exists only through dressing in the shapes of objects that are likely to be received. For then it exists as the subject, and in no other way. We call that action, “life,” meaning man’s livelihood, which means that the force of the will to receive dresses and acts within the desired objects. And the measurement of revelation of that action is the measurement of his life, as we have explained in the act we call, “desire.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

EnglishFilipinoBahasa Indonesia