Let My People Know

"What do we mean by doing God's will, in terms of the esoteric wisdom?"


There is an the old story about the king who ordered a painting of his palace from four different artists. 

Each of them was provided with a proper vantage point for painting, and three went about their task with proper diligence and application. 

The fourth painter seemed to be idle or of a different temperament; he did nothing but walk around and observe. 

When the time came for showing their work in the appointed chamber, this fourth painter hung up a huge mirror on the wall, which reflected the work of the other painters. 

By which it is hinted that the Shabbat is only a reflection of the week; in it one perceives the achievements or the failures of the ordinary life that preceded it, and all that is required of the Shabbat is that it be clean. 

It need only faithfully record the beauty of what came before.

In a roundabout manner, the discussion takes us to a consideration of what we mean by doing God's will, in terms of the esoteric wisdom. 

Ratzon or Will belongs to the Sefirah of Keter (Crown), an aspect of the Encompassing Light. 

Makom (Place) is one of the names of God and belongs to the Sefirah of Malchut (Kingdom). 

And this points to the world, our world of reality. 

It is when the Encompassing Light is united with the inner light that God's will is done. 

Thus, when the Divine Light (of encompassment) comes down into Malchut, which is Makom (or place of human existence), and there is some sort of real penetration.

God's will prevails. 

And this is the purpose of Creation–that God's Encompassing Light shall become manifest in Makom, the particular place, and dwell therein. 

This is called doing God's will.

From this it follows that the weekdays are secular, in the sense that God's will is not so evident, while the Shabbat is holy because His will does prevail. 

Therefore, too, the day can remain passive, so to speak, because the Divine light is already indwelling. 

In the passage of the week, this light has to be drawn down by the mitzvot, whereas on Shabbat this light comes of itself.

The dialectics of the issue is that Shabbat is the sum or storehouse of the week; but it is also the source of blessing, the fountainhead from which all reality issues. 

This double function of end and beginning is really a circular process; the week cannot start again without going through the Shabbat. 

In spite of being a halt and a summation, Shabbat is also a renewal; it provides the energy to continue. 

In this respect then, the Shabbat is of the next world, with its paradisiacal power to keep supplying the life-replenishing delight of existence.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From The Candle of God by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz