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Pirkei Avot 2:4: Rectification of Will

He would say: Make that His will should be your will, so that He should make your will to be as His will. Nullify your will before His will, so that He should nullify the will of others before your will. (Pirkei Avot 2:4)

In this Mishnah, there are two parts: the first part and the conclusion. The first part discusses aligning human desire with God's will, and the conclusion focuses on nullifying one's will. Simply put, the first part deals with positive commandments, "do" as per God's will, while the conclusion pertains to negative commandments, "nullify your will" so as not to act on the whims of your heart.

From a more inner perspective, it is explained that the root of the 365 prohibitive commandments is higher than the 248 positive commandments. The 365 prohibitions are associated with the letters yud-hei in God's Name ("The hidden things belong to our God"), and the 248 positive commandments are linked to the letters vav-hei in God's name ("The revealed things are for us and our children"). Therefore, "Nullify your will before His will" is considered a higher level than "Make His will your will."

Further explanation: In the first part, by fulfilling the positive commandments as God's will, a person reaches a state of emulation of God, aligning human will with Divine will. In the second part, by avoiding the negative commandments through the negation of one's own will, one achieves complete nullification and integration. The distinction between these stages is akin to the difference in prophecy between Moses and other prophets: all prophets prophesied with "Thus says God," an opaque reflection, while Moses also used "This is the matter," a clear reflection. In the first part, the comparison "as His will" means the person is not completely nullified before God but manages to emulate Him, like an opaque reflection, "Thus says God" ("thus" implies similarity, "as His will"). The second part, the nullification of will, is like a clear reflection, where the person becomes 'transparent' and can declare "this is the matter," a complete identification with God in utter nullification.

Direct Light and Reflected Light

Each part of the teaching, both the first and the second, is again divided into two (in the manner of "two that are four"), the first via the drawing down of 'direct light' and the second via the elevation of 'reflected light' as a result of the direct light ("so that…").

The first part of the Mishnah:  "Make His will as your will" is direct light, drawing down the Supreme will into one's own will. "So that He will make your will as His will" is reflected light, elevating the human will to emulate God's will (via an opaque reflection, as mentioned earlier, emulation not nullification).

The second part of the Mishnah: "Nullify your will before His" – by completely nullifying one's own will, the person is completely transparent, a clear reflection, direct light. "So that you nullify the will of others before your will" – the deeper meaning is that all the holy sparks within the wills of others are nullified and elevated to be truly integrated into the innermost of the Supreme will. All this occurs via a clear reflection, the level of Moses.

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