You are here: Kabbalah Library Home / Michael Laitman / Articles / Freedom of Will / Freedom of Will / Freedom of Will, 16.07.2004 - 20.07.2004 / Freedom of Will

Freedom of Will

Four Factors

Each created being is determined by four factors.

Creation is characterized by four parameters. Its past, present and future, its every part and property are based only on these parameters.

1. The basis is a primary material of a particular being, from which it emerged.

The unchanging properties of a basis are the order of its development, i.e. a decaying wheat grain calls forth a new sprout of the same kind. A grain rots - its outer form completely disappears, similar to our body, which disintegrates in the ground. However, the basis remains and gives birth to a new shoot (new life), like our soul that compels a new body to be born so as to dress in it.

What does it mean that "our soul compels a new body to be born so as to dress in it?" This means that the informational part (spiritual information devoid of any material form), which is left after the complete disintegration of the body compels a new shell to be born and dress it.

This is either the Reshimo that compels to work with the Upper Light and create the Kli or the unrealized soul (which is also Reshimo) that can be realized only if it dresses the body. Being in the body, it gradually realizes itself by passing from the egoistical desires (Lo Lishma) to the altruistic (as in a grain that loses its outer shell and will acquire a new one). This new shell will be identical to the previous one in its essence, but various transformations will take place in it.

Just these external changes that will occur over this constant inner, informational part are the focus of our interest. The inner information remains invariant; hence it is none of our concern. Whether I know something about it or not is unimportant. Perhaps, it is better for me not to know.

What I have to know is how I can change the outer form and improve the quality of every ear. What can be done to help man to be born stronger, healthier, more spiritual, etc.

Hence, the first informational data (basis) is not the most important. It determines what form the future entity will take, but not its quality.

2. The unchanging properties of the basis.

The basis (in our case a wheat grain) will never take the form of other cereals, say, barley, but only the previous form of wheat, which it lost. Depending on the environment (soil, water, fertilizing and the sun), certain quantitative and qualitative changes of the sprout are possible, but the form of wheat (i.e. the original essence) undergoes no changes at all.

Therefore, one should not worry about the basic properties. Man can single out and change the parameters that are subject to qualitative improvement.

Question: What is the Reshimo? Is it the basis or the unchanging properties?

The Reshimo is a basis with invariant properties. A human being is born with practically all of his properties preset. My path and my final form in the state of the Gmar Tikkun are predetermined. They already exist. The only thing that depends on me is what forms I will assume during my development, how desirable I will feel them.

The fact is that our interpretation of the path is incorrect. Our evaluation depends on how fast we will achieve the goal. However, speed is not the point, the trick is to wish independently to assume a form (acquire a property) that is more similar to the Creator.

If I realize my present form as defective with regard to the Creator, then I begin to compare His form with mine and wish to become similar to Him.

At the same time, I carry out a research and the information about the deepest layers of creation emerges within me. I begin to comprehend the Creator's plan (''I will know Thee by Thy deeds''), thoughts and gradually become like Him.

This is not just acceleration of movement. As a result, I acquire completely new knowledge, aspiration and perception that are absent in the creation.

Therefore, the work on one's path, on one's aspiration to the goal lies in the Birurim (analysis) of all states of the Kli with regard to the Light. Understanding of the Creator is born out of it.

Hence, our Reshimot determine absolutely everything, and I need all the data that is concealed in creation.

There is Ohr (Light) with all of its actions and the Kli (vessel, desire) with all of its properties and there is nothing I can reveal here. It all is concealed from me because I create quite different sparks, Kelim as a result of friction between the Light and the Kli.

The Kelim are called Otiot (letters). They are created by impacts and appear as sparks that flash when two solid objects collide. These sparks are the new Kelim. When they finally accumulate, they make up the Partzuf - the creation's similarity to the Creator.

This is neither the initial Kli (will to enjoy) nor the Light that filled it. It is a completely new entity that creation (Nivra) makes by its own effort and analysis of the interaction between the Light and the Kli.

Therefore, we study these four factors. We need to choose from them what is important for us. In principle, the initial properties of both the Light and the Kli are of little interest to us. What we find really important is the transition between them because this way we delve into creation itself, into the Creator's thoughts.

Question: What is the difference between the basis and the unchanging properties?

The basis is the essence (Mahut). The essence is not simply a grain of wheat or barley. We should first determine the meaning of the "unchanging properties."

Thus, there is the creation (Nivra) and the Reshimo (registered memory). The difference between them is cardinal. The Reshimot keep changing constantly while the Nivra remains unchanged. The Nivra is a part of the Ratzon Lekabel (will to receive pleasure) of Adam Rishon (First Man, the common soul). It is invariant and has to go through all the levels of the Reshimot.

I am a part of Adam Rishon. This part in me is invariant; it moves along certain static levels of development. The part of Adam Rishon in me is called Matza (basis). The Reshimot that are concealed within me as the DNA spiral are also invariant, and I am obliged to pass them all.

The only important thing here is how I will go through the Reshimot. If I do it of my free will, I will enjoy the process because at the same time I bestow delight upon the Creator. These are already my transformed parameters. However, my original desire and my entire path are not subject to change. I change only my attitude towards the path. In our world it resembles the birth of a grain with improved qualities.

Question: We speak about constantly changing states. How then can we speak about the soul's root?

You do not differentiate between the essence and the Reshimot on the one hand and how the essence and the Reshimot establish their relations with the Creator. We perceive the relations, not the essence and not our original qualities. There is no point in speaking about man, is there? We speak about creation and its peculiarities.

3. The properties that change under the influence of the outer forces.

Affected by external factors, the outward form of the essence goes through qualitative changes - a grain remains a grain, but its outer shape gets transformed in accordance with the environmental conditions. Additional external factors join with the essence and together they generate a new quality under the influence of the environment.

This may be the sun, soil, fertilizers or water relative to a grain, or a society, a group, books and a teacher relative to man.

Here the text speaks about how we can change something. I can change nothing either in the initial desire (my root, my part in Adam Rishon) or in the path that I have to cover from my present state up to the final one, through all the levels that my soul descended. It is not said that I have to elevate it along the same ''route.'' The text speaks about my qualitative attitude towards my development.

Under the influence of books and teachers, I have to cover the entire way with greater realization, comprehension, and aspiration. Thanks to that I receive better forms.

Well, I become better and better at every level, but here another question arises: Is it possible to rise from one level to another without improving one's quality? Can I improve the quality only by 50% or 80% or do I have to remain at every level until I completely change with regard to the books, teacher, and the group? Do I have to achieve 100% of quality at the lower level in order to ascend the higher one?

The problem is not what form I can assume, qualitative or not (I will always assume the qualitative form). What really matters is how much effort I will put forth while reaching this qualitative form (which, by the way, I will be compelled to achieve anyway).

So what is this factor? Is it time or the efforts that I have to make despite my certain properties (e.g, laziness), or the obstacles provided by the Creator? Where should I apply my efforts in order to achieve this quality?

Freedom of will is in the thorough analysis of where I should apply my efforts. If necessary, ''I will be brought to the mark''.

The point is to utilize the given circumstances to the maximum, while attracting them in spite of my egoism and laziness, absorbing everything necessary (as the Baal HaSulam says, sun, water, fertilizers, etc.) to participate actively in my own qualitative development.

This can be accomplished with the help of the fourth factor (in fact the third and the fourth factors are interconnected).

4. The changes made by the outer forces.

Man needs the surroundings that arise and constantly affect his development. While evolving, man in turn influences his surroundings, compelling it to develop. Thus they develop simultaneously together.

Man should take into consideration not only his own growth and the influence of the environment, but also promote the growth of the environment because it sustains him and helps to assume a new better form.

These four factors determine the state of each created being. Even if man spends all his time in research, he will not be able to change or add anything to what the four factors include. Whatever we think or do exists within these four factors. Any addition will be purely quantitative, whereas qualitatively it will remain the same. These factors forcefully determine our character and way of thinking.


1. Man cannot change his essence.
2. He cannot change the laws according to which his essence (sequence of the Reshimot) gets transformed.
3. He cannot change the laws of transformation of his inner properties as a result of the outer influence.
4. The surroundings, which man totally depends on, can be changed!

This may be explained in the following way. We are created with a certain Reshimo, which contains all the rest of the Reshimot that we have to realize until we reach the state of the Gmar Tikkun. I can change neither my Reshimo nor the desire to which it refers.

I am closely connected with other souls. They influence me and I in turn affect them. This connection among us (or the connection between man and the external circumstances) is preset and I cannot change it. A grain has no influence over the sun, wind, clouds, or rain. Similarly, man cannot change his relations with the surrounding world because he exists inside it.

He can only change what he absorbs from the surrounding world. If a person can influence his environment in the present, then he can determine his future state.

A person never determines his present, only the future. Hence, we should never think of what is going on with us at the moment because it was programmed and is being realized now. We should always think about the next moment.

The only factors his surroundings can affect are the speed and the quality of man's advancement. He may either live through pain, fear, anguish and endless bloody conflicts along the way or move forward quietly and comfortably, because man himself aspires to the goal.

Here we need to understand that the goal is not to move forward quietly and comfortably. By 'quietly' we imply the Creator's quiet and by comfort we mean the Light's property of bestowal.

That is why the Kabbalists urge us to open educational centers so as to form groups - the ideal surroundings for all those who wish to achieve the purpose of creation.

The only place where man can apply his efforts is his connection with a group. There is a restriction here because the Kabbalistic group develops in accordance with its own laws and principles (Reshimot). Man has power to change his attitude toward his group and choose what he wants to absorb from it.

Question: If the only way to advance is to change your environment.

Rather, not changing your environment, but modifying your connection with it. That is a more accurate definition.

Continuation of the question: ...if not all members of the group make the same effort?

The Baal HaSulam speaks about it very simply: "Those, who do not contribute to society, cause harm." He writes that we at once isolate a thief from society because we understand what damage he causes. However, when a person fails to contribute, we see no harm in it. In fact, when someone does not give to society it is equivalent to stealing.

Such things must not exist in the Kabbalistic group. A passive, idle person in the group is detrimental to it. Ideally, either the group members should contribute the maximum (it is relative because everyone is in his unique process), or they should not be members at all.

The group can put up with a person's temporary presence, if he lacks understanding and comes to it as a student. In this case, he causes no harm. He tries to learn, but is still unable to see or understand. If, however, a person sees and understands and at the same time does not contribute to the group, then he should go because he harms all. He is ballast that pulls everyone down and prevents them from crossing the Machsom. This is exactly so.

There should be no passive people, particularly negative.

Question: Where is freedom of choice here?

There is no freedom of choice here. If I was born a person who craves for money, I will keep company with businessmen. If I aspire for power, I will rub elbows with politicians. I do not determine it.

Therefore, people who still are at the preliminary levels of their development should by no means be attracted to the group. This will lead to problems, when newcomers begin seeking power and recognition, aspire to be great leaders. These are still the preliminary Reshimot that are very long way from what is necessary and there is not much we can do with them.

Naturally, a person is constantly and instinctively looking for an environment in which he can realize himself. It resembles a charge in an electromagnetic field that finds a point of equilibrium.

The only law that permeates all nature is the law of similarity. In the same way we are drawn to a place to which we are similar. Our inner egoistical desire finds a point where it can receive maximum fulfillment. In this way our egoism slowly and gradually guides us.

Question: What if a person is in the group, which allegedly aspires for the spiritual, but in fact is interested in something else?

Some people are still at a preliminary stage of their development - they do not advance; it is enough for them to be in some contact with Kabbalah or something spiritual. However, they do not feel the need to advance yet. That is to say, either they do not recognize their evil sufficiently to start correcting it or they do not suffer from being in such a state.

Man always suffers. It is important what he prefers: the suffering of love or from something else? In other words, is he ready to endure pain in order to achieve the goal? Suppose I belong to a group which does not have this clear goal. By watching the group members I can see what I will be like tomorrow. I will be exactly like them. Today I am still different. Today I still have an opportunity to see them and myself from aside and decide whether I want to be like them. Tomorrow I may not have this choice anymore.

Tomorrow I will receive from them the importance of their goal and will agree with them. They will explain to me that the most important thing is to stay calm, take care of myself and my family, think of a career, live in a more peaceful atmosphere than that of Israel (terror, etc.), that Canada or Russia are more comfortable places and so on. They will tell me all kinds of things: most importantly, I will accept their ideas and they will become mine. I will not be able to get away from that.

You may object: "Well, but I have the Reshimo in me, don't I?" Yes you do, but this Reshimo will assume the same external shell as in them. This is similar to planting a grain and leaving it without water, sun, and fertilizers. Something will probably come out of it, but not exactly what it might become. In other words, it will exist in some form, but will never achieve the desired goal.

There is no other way, but to care constantly about improving your environment simply because tomorrow you will become like that environment.

In principle, this depends not on the group, but on your own ability to get impressed by its spiritual progress. The group has to do something and move forward. As a result, the magnitude of your impression, of your ability to absorb from the group, depends on you. However, this dependency is based not on your ability to absorb from the group, but on your readiness to contribute to it. It will affect you in accordance with your contribution.

That is what happens when the group is advancing and has a positive potential. Your ability to absorb this potential is dependent on your participation in this advancement. However, if the group stalls or chooses other priorities instead of correction, then it all becomes pointless.

Unfortunately, there are groups that adopted quite a different goal: to feel comfortable. For example, I wish to feel that I grow more and more intelligent every day. This goal may be very good for egoism, but it has nothing to do with spirituality.

The spiritual goal is correction in similarity to the Creator, obtaining the property of bestowal. Every day, every moment I want to feel that I give more and more. That is the correct interpretation of spirituality. It is wrong to believe that a group can happily remain in the same state.

From this article of the Baal HaSulam it is clear that there can be no other means to grow than the environment, group that aspires for correction. I can receive the aspiration for correction from the group only if other members feel their imperfection, come to the realization of evil and desire to be corrected.

Yet, if they want "to have their heads in the clouds" and to remain inside an illusion, meditation, then tomorrow I will want the same and will calm myself. In this case, I need to run away from such a group.

You should seek a group that will guarantee you a better tomorrow, the way you would like to see it. This is very simple. I look at those whom I want to resemble and think to myself: "They are so intelligent, so wise!" If I want to be like them, I have to join their society. If I wish to be like artists or musicians, I have to join the society of artists and musicians. Nothing can be done about it - that is the way of the world.

It is even more extreme in the spiritual world. At least, in our world we see some goals. We know how good it is to be a professor or an artist. There is nothing similar in the spiritual realm. Your group is supposed to provide you with all that. And if the direction in which your group is moving is slightly wrong, you do not even feel how you deviate from the right course.

We see it by the people who migrate from group to group. Nothing can be done about it. The Creator brings man to the right place, shows him the direction, and then, as the "Introduction to TES" bluntly puts it, leaves him to continue on his own.

This article explains what a person should do on his path and where his freedom of will is. This independent participation in the process builds his complete spiritual Partzuf.

In contrast to wheat, nothing is left of our initial desire in Adam Rishon and Reshimot because we need nothing of it. We need to build our new Partzuf above them in Ohr Hozer (Reflected Light). This seemingly small effort, this very narrow chance to gain freedom of will (as tiny as the eye of a needle) actually opens the entrance to the Upper world for us.

Question: You say that ideally a person should think about the group's next level. How can one help his friend to arrive at that?

I should try to make every next state of the group higher, more powerful than the present one because only this is the guarantee of my change for the better. I cannot influence myself. Only if I make the group better, will I become better myself tomorrow (by 'tomorrow' we mean the next time when the group will affect me).

This means that on the one hand we have to demand from every member of the group to be better, more efficient in his aspiration to the goal (similarity to the Creator and realization of evil). On the other hand, it is written that every person has to justify his friend's actions, and even if it seems to him that his friend is not active enough or his behavior is inadequate. It is said: "Do not judge your friend before you are in his place." There are many other similar expressions.

How can these two things be reconciled?

While looking at every one of my friend's present state I cannot see, analyze or speak about how much he really contributes to the group because this information is concealed from me. Possibly, he makes tremendous efforts, but outwardly it manifests in such a way that he hardly moves and dozes off during the lesson.

I cannot measure his inner state at any given moment and talk about it. The problem is that there are people who are by nature very fast and full of energy and others who are lazy (other articles also speak about it). Some receive serious blows at one moment, others - at another and these blows are different in quality.

I cannot see through another person; every friend of mine is a concealed object. Therefore, from the outset I have to accept the entire group as ideal in its aspiration for the goal and the realization of every moment of its existence. This way the group influences me ideally and it is up to me (my sensitivity) how much spiritual energy for advancement I will receive from it.

It turns out that I should by no means be critical with regard to the group as a whole or to any of its members in particular. All of my criticism should be directed only at myself. We say that a person should set an example for others with his behavior. This should affect other people in such a way that they simply will be unable to behave differently.

On the other hand, however, another prohibition states that a person should not advertise his inspiration and refrain from extensive talks about his attitude toward spirituality and to the goal.

How then should we act? It is best of all to enthrall and fascinate people with what we do. There is very little use in criticism and punishment is the last thing we should resort to. It is necessary only to shake a person up and then carry him away with our own example. This is what Rabash kept saying: "There is no positive way to influence an adult or a child other than by one's own example." When you want someone to follow you, you become to that person as an adult to a child.

Thus, the work of social leaders in the group should come down to attracting people who can serve as an example to all the rest. It can be a small group inside the larger one that will lead (not force) all the others. Then, in the process of study while following Kabbalists' recommendations and evaluating every possibility of the group to change, every one of its members will change accordingly.

Therefore, our work evidently consists in the study of what we have to change in ourselves and in the group in accordance with what Kabbalists advise us. We should choose a group that wants and can start realizing it. This realization is based not on desire, but on mechanical actions because we still do not want it; we just read about it and realized what we wish to become.

Our small group begins realizing this goal mechanically. By demonstrating the importance of our actions we carry the larger group with us. Since the entire group joins in this work, everyone receives a push towards an inner change.

I cannot change myself (my desires). I can activate new desires and corrections within me only with the help of other people. They dictate to me fashion, style of behavior, etc., although from their part it may be deception.

For example, the group decides to take a certain action starting from tomorrow: every member begins growing a pigtail. This insignificant, frivolous act becomes very meaningful if the group sees it as important and treats it seriously. You will see that every newcomer to the group will want to follow suit, although he had no such desires before. Everyone will do the same.

We see it happen among nations. The masses impose their norms on every individual and there is no way a person can get away from it. In our society it can be a pure convention: we will all trick each other until this deception develops into truth and we really want it. That is the way it works. This is the mechanism of introducing new fashion in all spheres of life. It seems incredible, but people are ready to sacrifice everything for what is imposed on them.

Therefore, our actions should be as follows: first we read kabbalistic texts and look for theoretical description of what we need for our advancement in Kabbalists' recommendations. After that, a small group realizes it and sets an example for the larger group, which is obliged to implement it all. Then it all comes to every one of us as his desire.

There is nothing unnatural in it, and a person begins aspiring for values that hitherto seemed unattainable, spiritual. Hence, the Baal HaSulam writes that the transition from egoism to altruism is purely psychological and depends solely on the state of society.

Question: You say that if a person understands and sees but does not contribute, then he causes harm. How can he see, understand and fail to contribute?

We learn that there are desires of zero, first, second, third and fourth levels of Aviut. Depending on man's immersion into every desire, it demands its realization.

I may know that smoking harms my health, but I continue smoking. I know that I will be punished for a certain action, but I take it anyway. This means that desire has not reached its ultimate meaning to realize its own evil. We all have certain desires in their initial, intermediate or final states. Everything is constantly changing within us, so naturally a person can accelerate his development under the group's influence. This refers to the desires and the direction dictated by the group.

Free Choice

Regardless of the fact that we can't determine our basis, who and how to be born, we can influence these first three factors by choosing our surroundings, i.e. friends, books and teachers. However, having chosen the environment, we let it shape our future conditions.

Initially there is an opportunity to freely choose teachers, books and friends that will inspire good thoughts. If he does not do so, then he will naturally find himself in bad surroundings reading useless books (there are plenty of them and they are much more pleasant). As a result, he will certainly receive a poor education and fail to act correctly in life.

From this it follows that reward or punishment is sent to man not for his bad thoughts or actions, in which he has no free choice, but for not choosing a good environment. It is an area where man undoubtedly has an opportunity to freely choose. Man should be judged and punished to enable him to see that he is not judged for his misdeeds, but rather for choosing the wrong environment.

A person should know for what he is punished. If he stole something and was punished for it, it will be pointless. We see that jails do not help much. They do not correct a person because he does not connect the action with its root. They say there is a gene that makes a person predisposed to stealing. However, this gene would develop differently if a person lived in a better society.

We excuse thieves today. Well, everyone steals, so what is the big deal? We have this attitude because all the Reshimot in our society develop in a wrong way. This, however, does not mean that they have to develop so. These genes responsible for man's predisposition to stealing, drug addiction, violence, etc., are quite real. Everything within man could develop differently provided he lived in a different society. Yet, who is going to change it? Perhaps, the government will? Who needs it at all?

We have no idea how to do that, hence we agree with everything and accept it as a norm. The law diminishes our standards: you can steal, use drugs, etc. A person cannot be judged for his desires. They are given to him from above by the Creator. None of our desires are positive. The Creator did nothing good, He only created egoism. It depends on us to choose a society where all our parameters can be realized correctly.

A person should be punished not for his genes, but for choosing the wrong environment, which resulted in the improper development of these genes.

Therefore, a person who makes an effort to choose a better environment succeeds - not for his good thoughts, but for his persistence in improving his surroundings that lead to these good thoughts. Such a person is awarded with a better, more advanced state.

The Book of Zohar gives an example about a poor wise man who was invited to move to a rich man's house. He refused saying: "On no condition will I settle in a place with no sages around!" - "But you are the greatest sage of the generation!" - exclaimed the rich man. - "Whom else will you learn from?" The wise man replied: "Even the greatest sage (i.e., a corrected person, a Kabbalist) will turn into ignoramus, if he surrounds himself with stupid people."

I should think not only about my next, better condition. Even if I am already in a good, corrected state, I can easily regress because of my environment. Hence, I should not "grow up" to match my society. I should rather choose a better society that is at least one level higher than I.

Hence, we should follow the well-known advice: "Make yourself a Teacher, buy yourself a friend". In other words, we must create our own environment because only this factor will lead us to success. Having chosen our surroundings, we become totally dependent on it, like clay in a sculptor's hands. We are all captives of our egoistic nature. Freeing ourselves means to overstep the limits of our world and enter the upper reality.

Since we are entirely in this world's grip, we can break free only if, in spite of our natural egoistic environment (entire humankind), we artificially surround ourselves with people who share our views and aspirations. Then we fall under the power of the environment ruled by the laws of the Upper world.

Man has no way to enter the Upper world than by putting himself into the environment that sets this as the ultimate goal of its existence.

Our self-realization lies in freeing ourselves from the influence of egoistical environment and uncovering within us the property of bestowal. This property constitutes our freedom of will.

Question: If the group initially sets as its goal merging with the Creator, does it matter what the group is like?

If this is a group that aspires for the Creator, we need to clarify what that implies.

The Creator is the property of bestowal. If the group aims at acquiring this property, if it makes altruism and correction its ideals, then it is the right group that can influence everyone.

We should formulate the definition of the word "spiritual" correctly. It is the property of bestowal. My spiritual advancement means correction of my egoism and transforming it into the property of bestowal. Progress is possible only if I correct myself with each step. In other words, every time I have to feel that I aspire for altruism, bestowal, and love, which means closer connection among the group members and their greater effort in bestowing to the Creator.

We should aspire not for good feeling and pleasures because it is egoistical fulfillment. Our objective should be to become similar to the Creator in properties. In reality, the fulfillment is Ohr Hozer (bestowal). This is the ultimate delight that fills the Creator.

You should choose a group that will lead you to all that. To this end, common meetings, actions and studies are necessary. People should live side by side and feel the need for one another.

This requires enormous work, but as we see, there is nothing else to do except for creating the environment that will determine our future.

In the article "Freedom of Will" the Baal HaSulam clearly shows us what depends on us and where we can apply our efforts. The group leader should see his self-realization not in a few students, but in the entire group. He should in no way emphasize his own role, but see the results of his work in the group.

If a strong, determined group that aspires for the Creator is formed, the leader can go; he is not needed in this role anymore. In that case the closely-knit and organized group will achieve the goal. The whole group becomes a leader.

At first, it has to be consolidated, guided and supported, but as a result, the group determines the future state of each of its members. The leader is like an article or a textbook that are necessary to tell people what to do, but all the realization is done among the members of the group.

Back to top
Site location tree