The second stage (of our Divine service) extends from age thirteen and onward, and it’s when the point in the heart — which is the hindmost part of our holy soul, and is garbed in the native ratzon l’kabel — is fortified. It only begins to come into play, though, after (we reach) age thirteen, and it begins to enter the realm of the system of the holy worlds to the extent that we observe Torah and mitzvot.
The “point in the heart” spoken of here is that region in our being where our worldly awareness and sensitivity lies. It’s a “point” rather than an entire dimension, and the “hindmost part of our holy soul” rather than an inner part of it, because while it indeed touches on momentous things in our lives, it still-and-all hasn’t any bearing on our essential being and it’s ultimately dispensable (though certainly not “point”-less).
But don’t misunderstand. It’s vitally important for each one of us to develop his or her own “point in the heart”. First, because without one we can’t ever grow close to others or to God, or to mature in our beings; second, because it’s impossible to realize that we have a ratzon l’kabel, and then to transcend it, unless we gain insight into it and come to know how destructive it is. And only a well developed “point in the heart” allows us to do all that (see Ch’s 43, 65).
Ashlag is emphasizing the idea here that we only begin to grow aware and to be sensitive from age thirteen on (if at all; for the truth be known, many of us never do). For that’s when we begin to dabble in holiness and to expose ourselves to the nature of our beings; and it’s likewise when we can begin to strive for a willingness to bestow — after first having acquired what he refers to as a “spiritual” ratzon l’kabel as we’ll soon see.
Our primary function from that point is to acquire and foster a spirit-based ratzon l’kabel, for at birth we only have a ratzon l’kabel for material things. And so even though we’d acquired a comprehensive ratzon l’kabel before we turned thirteen, that’s not yet the ultimate reach of the ratzon l’kabel, for it is primarily meant to grow on a spiritual level.
A “spirit-based ratzon l’kabel” is a willingness to now accrue spiritual “playthings”, like wisdom, revelation, and other such immortal delights, over the sort of worldly ones we’d embraced till then. Understand that while that too is rooted in self-serving needs, nonetheless a higher, more selfless self is served then.
But know as well that when Ashlag indicates that we’re to achieve even more when it comes to our ratzon l’kabel he’s alluding to the fact that there’s even more to come. Because after having fostered a spirit-based ratzon l’kabel we’re to then transpose it into a ratzon l’kabel al m’nat l’hashpia, and to ultimately cultivate a ratzon l’hashpia (see 27:2).
(Our only having a ratzon l’kabel for material things at first) explains, for example, why we (only) want to accumulate all sorts of worldly wealth and honor before we turn thirteen, though those things are clearly not eternal and merely ephemeral. For (in contrast) when we acquire a comprehensive spiritual ratzon l’kabel we want to have and enjoy all (sorts of spiritual delights, like) the “wealth” and “pleasure” to be had in the eternal upper worlds, which is an eternal possession. Thus (we see that) the comprehensive ratzon l’kabel is only completed for the most part with (i.e., when we acquire and foster a) spiritual ratzon l’kabel.
The statement that the comprehensive ratzon l’kabel is only completed for the most part when we acquire and foster a spiritual ratzon l’kabel underscores our remark above about having to subsequently acquire a ratzon l’kabel al m’nat l’hashpia and a ratzon l’hashpia.
(c) 2011 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).