Now, when a Jew fortifies and enhances his interior (aspect), his inner “Jewish Nation” rather than his exterior (aspect), his inner “other Nations”, by concentrating most of his efforts on fortifying and cultivating his interior (aspect) and bettering his soul while only (dedicating) a few, essential efforts on sustaining his (inner) “other Nations”, i.e., his bodily needs …
That is, when an individual Jew truly hones and enlarges his inner self while tempering and diminishing his otherness, inside and out …
… he then enables the Jewish Nation to soar higher and higher upward and the other Nations to recognize and acknowledge the value of the Jewish Nation.
That’s to say that that individual hones and enlarges the entire Jewish Nation inside and out.
But if a Jew fortifies and enhances his exterior (aspect) — his (inner) “other Nations” — more so than his (inner) “Jewish Nation”…
That is, when an individual Jew hones and enlarges his inner otherness while tempering and diminishing his inner self, inside and out…
… then his exterior (aspect) will (begin) to soar upward, and his actual interior (aspect) and inner “Jewish Nation” will plunge downward. And that will have the other nations soar ever upward and overcome the (actual) Jewish Nation, and cause them to sink down to the ground, and (will make it possible for) the Jewish Nation to plunge deeper and deeper down.
That’s to say that such a person will then hone and enlarge the sphere of externality, inside and out, and debase the Jewish Nation on a geo-political level and threaten its well-being.
All of this is true because “an impetus from below sets off an impetus up above” (see Zohar II, p. 175B), which is to say that because “down and up” and “in and out” are parallel to each other, what we do effects the world at large as a consequence, much the way twins often effect each other on all levels despite physical distance. His point is that we’re duty-bound to fortify the Jewish Nation both within and without, and we’ll soon see how we do that.
 At this point Ashlag cites the following axiom to underscore his point, “Make your Torah (study) permanent and your (worldly) efforts transient” (Pirkei Avot 1).
(c) 2013 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has also translated and commented upon “The Path of the Just” and “The Duties of the Heart” (Jason Aronson Publishers).