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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

The Teaching of the Kabbalah and Its Essence

What is the wisdom of Kabbalah? As a whole, the wisdom of Kabbalah concerns the revelation of Godliness, arranged on its path in all its aspects—those that have emerged in the worlds and those that are destined to be revealed, and in all the manners that can ever appear in the worlds, to the end of time.

The Purpose of Creation

Since there is no act without some purpose, it is certain that the Creator had a purpose in the Creation set before us. And the most important thing in this whole diverse reality is the sensation given to the animals—that each of them feels its own existence. And the most important sensation is the noetic sensation, given to man alone, by which one also feels what is in one’s other—the pains and comforts. Hence, it is certain that if the Creator has a purpose in this Creation, its subject is man. It is said about him, “All of the Lord’s works are for him.”

But we must still understand what was the purpose for which the Creator created this lot? Indeed, it is to elevate him to a Higher and more important degree, to feel his God like the human sensation, which is already given to him. And as one knows and feels one’s friend’s wishes, so will he learn the words of the Creator, as it is written about Moses, “And the Lord spoke unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.”

Any person can be as Moses. Undoubtedly, anyone who examines the evolution of Creation before us will see and understand the great pleasure of the Operator, whose operation evolves until it acquires that wondrous sensation of being able to converse and deal with one’s God as one speaks to one’s friend.

From Above Downwards

It is known that the end of the act is in the preliminary thought. Before one begins to think about how to build a house, one contemplates the apartment in the house, which is the purpose. Subsequently, one examines the blueprint to make it suitable for this task.

So it is with our matter. Once we have learned about the purpose, it is also clear to us that all the conducts of Creation, in its every corner, inlet, and outlet, are completely prearranged for the purpose of nurturing the human species from its midst, to improve its qualities until it can sense the Creator as one feels one’s friend.

These ascensions are like rungs of a ladder, arranged degree-by-degree until it is completed and achieves its purpose. And you should know that the quality and quantity of these rungs is set in two realities: 1) the existence of material substances, and 2) the existence of spiritual concepts.

In the language of Kabbalah, they are called “from Above downwards” and “from below Upwards.” This means that the corporeal substances are a sequence of disclosure of His Light from Above downwards—from the first source, when a measure of Light was cut off from His Essence, and was restricted Tzimtzum by Tzimtzum (restriction by restriction)until the corporeal world was formed off it, with corporeal creatures at its very bottom.

From Below Upwards

Afterwards begins an order of from below Upwards. These are all the rungs of the ladder by which the human race develops and climbs up to the purpose of creation. These two realities are explained in their every detail in the wisdom of Kabbalah.

Necessity to Study Kabbalah

An opposer might say, “Therefore, this wisdom is for those who have already been rewarded with a measure of Godly revelation, but what necessity can the majority of the people have for knowing this sublime wisdom?”

Indeed, there is a common opinion that the prime goal of religion and the Torah is only the cleansing of actions, that all that is desired concerns observing the physical Mitzvot (commandments), without any additions or anything that should result from it. Had that been so, those who say that studying the revealed and practical actions alone is sufficient would be right.

Yet, this is not the case. Our sages have already said, “Why should the Creator mind if one slaughters at the throat or at the back of the neck? After all, the Mitzvot were only given to cleanse people.” Thus, there is a purpose beyond the observance of the actions, and the actions are merely preparations for this purpose. Hence, clearly, if the actions are not arranged for the desired goal, it is as if nothing exists. And it is also written in The Zohar: “A Mitzva (commandment) without an aim is like a body without a soul.” Hence, the aim, too, should accompany the act.

Also, it is clear that the aim should be a true aim worthy of the act, as our sages said about the verse, “‘And I will set you apart from the peoples, that ye should be Mine,’ so your separation will be for My Name. Let not one say, ‘Pork is impossible.’ Rather, let one say ‘it is possible, but what can I do, my Father in Heaven has sentenced me.’”

Thus, if one avoids pork because of abomination or because of some bodily harm, this aim does not help at all for it to be considered a Mitzva, unless one has the unique and proper intention that the Torah forbade. So it is with every Mitzva, and only then is one’s body gradually purified by observing the Mitzvot, which is the desired purpose.

Hence, the study of physical conducts is not enough; we need to study those things that produce the desirable intention, to observe everything with faith in the Torah and in the Giver of the Torah, that there is a Judgment and there is a Judge.

Who is so foolish as to not understand that faith in the Torah and in reward and punishment, which have the power to yield this great thing, require much study in the proper books? Thus, even before the act, a study that purifies the body is required, to grow accustomed to faith in the Creator, His Law, and His Providence. Our sages said about that, “I have created the evil inclination; I have created for it the Torah as a spice.” They did not say, “I have created for it the Mitzvot as a spice,” since “your guarantor needs a bondsman himself,” as the evil inclination desires licentiousness and will not let him keep the Mitzvot.

Torah as a Spice

The Torah is the only spice to annul and subdue the evil inclination, as our sages said, “The Light in it reformed them.”

The Majority of the Words of the Torah Are for Study

This reconciles why the Torah speaks at length on parts that do not concern the practical part but only the study, meaning the introduction to the act of Creation. These are the whole of the book of Beresheet (Genesis), Shemot (Exodus), most of Devarim (Deuteronomy), and, needless to say, legends and commentaries. Yet, since they are what the Light is stored in, his body will be purified, the evil inclination subdued, and he will come to faith in the Torah and in reward and punishment. This is the first degree in the observance of the work.

Commandment Is a Candle, and Teaching Is Light

It is written, “For the commandment is a candle, and the Torah is Light.” As one who has candles but no light to light them sits in the dark, one who has Mitzvot but no Torah sits in the dark. This is because the Torah is Light, by which the darkness in the body is illuminated and lit up.

Not All Portions of the Torah Are of Equal Light

According to the above-mentioned power in the Torah, that is, considering the measure of Light in it, it is certain that the Torah should be divided into degrees, according to the measure of Light that one can receivefrom studying it. Clearly, when one ponders and contemplates words of Torah that pertain to the revelation of the Creator to our fathers, they bring the examiner more Light than when examining practical matters.

Although they are more important with respect to the actions, with respect to the Light, the revelation of the Creator to our fathers is certainly more important. Anyone with an honest heart who has tried to ask to receive the Light of the Torah will admit to that.

Necessity and Unfolding of the Expansion of the Wisdom

Since the whole of the wisdom of Kabbalah speaks of the revelation of the Creator, naturally, there is none more successful teaching for its task. This is what the Kabbalists aimed for—to arrange it so it is suitable for studying.

And so they studied in it until the time of concealment (it was agreed to conceal it for a certain reason). However, this was only for a certain time, and not forever, as it is written in The Zohar, “This wisdom is destined to be revealed at the end of days, and even to children.”

It follows that the above-mentioned wisdom is not at all limited to the language of Kabbalah, as its essence is a spiritual Light that emerges from His Essence, as it is written, “Can thou send forth lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee: ‘Here we are,’” referring to the two above ways: from Above downwards and from below Upwards.

These matters and degrees expand according to a language suitable for them, and they are truly all the beings in this world and their conducts in this world, which are their branches. This is so because “You have not a blade of grass below that does not have an angel above, which strikes it and tells it, ‘Grow!’” Thus, the worlds emerge from one another and are imprinted from one another like a seal and imprint. And all that is in one is in the other, down to the corporeal world, which is their last branch, but contains the world Above it like an imprint of a seal.

Thus, it is easy to know that we can speak of the Higher Worlds only by their corporeal, lower branches, which extend from them, or of their conducts, which is the language of the Bible, or by secular teachings or by people, which is the language of Kabbalists, or according to agreed upon names. This was the conduct in the Kabbalah of the Geonim since the concealment of The Zohar.

Thus, it has been made clear that the revelation of the Creator is not a one-time disclosure, but an ongoing matter that is revealed over a period of time, sufficient for the disclosure of all the great degrees that appear from Above downwards and from below Upwards. On top of them, and at the end of them, appears the Creator.

It is like a person proficient in all the countries and people in the world, who cannot say that the whole world has been revealed to him before he has completed his examination of the last person and the last country. Until one has achieved that, one has not attained the whole world.

Similarly, the attainment of the Creator unfolds in preordained ways. The seeker must attain all those ways in both the Upper and the lower. Clearly, the Upper Worlds are the important ones here, but they are attained together because there is no difference in their shapes, only in their substance. The substance of a Higher World is purer, but the shapes are imprinted from one another, and what exists in the Higher World necessarily exists in all the worlds below it, since the lower one is imprinted by it. Know that these realities and their conducts, which the seeker of the Creator attains, are called “degrees,” since their attainment is arranged one atop the other, like rungs of a ladder.

Spiritual Expressions

The spiritual has no image, hence it has no letters to contemplate with. Even if we declare in general that it is Simple Light, which descends and extends to the seeker until one clothes and attains it in the amount sufficient for His revelation, this, too, is a borrowed expression. This is so because everything that is called “Light” in the spiritual world is not like the light of the sun or candlelight.

What we refer to as Light in the spiritual world is borrowed from the human mind, whose nature is such that when a doubt is resolved in a person, one discovers a kind of abundance of light and pleasure throughout the body. This is why we sometimes say “the light of the mind,” although this is not so. The light that shines in those parts of the substance of the body that are unsuitable for receiving resolved scrutinies is certainly something inferior to the mind. Hence, those lower, inferior organs can receive it and attain it, too.

Yet, to be able to name the mind by some name, we call it “the light of the mind.” Similarly, we call the elements of the reality of the Upper Worlds “Lights,” as they bring those who attain them abundance of light and pleasure throughout the body, from head to toe. For this reason, we may call one who attains “clothing,” for he has clothed that Light.

We might ask, “Would it not be more correct to call them by names used in scrutiny, such as observation and attainment, or to express oneself with expressions that emphasize the phenomena of the noetic mind?” The thing is that it is nothing like the conducts of the noetic phenomena, since the mind is a particular branch among all the elements of reality. Hence, it has its own ways of manifestation.

This is not so with degrees, as they are a complete whole, which contains all the elements that exist in a world. Each element has its own particular ways. For the most part, the perception of matters in degrees is similar to the perception of animate bodies: when one attains some essence, one attains the whole of it, from head to toe.

If we judge by the laws of the noetic mind, we can say that he has attained everything he could attain in that essence, and even if he contemplated it for another thousand years, he would not add to it even an iota. Yet, in the beginning it is very similar to… meaning he sees everything but understands none of what he sees. Yet, by the passing of time he will have to attain additional matters, similar to Ibur (conception), Yenika (nursing), Mochin (adulthood), and a second Ibur. At that time, he will begin to feel and use his attainments in every way he wishes.

However, in truth, he did not add a thing to the attainments he had achieved in the beginning. It is rather like ripening: previously it was unripe, hence he could not understand it, and now its ripening has completed.

Thus, you see the big difference from the conducts of noetic phenomena. For this reason, the definitions we are accustomed to using will not suffice for us with noetic phenomena. We are compelled to use only the conducts that apply to corporeal matters, since their shapes are completely similar, although their substance is utterly remote.

Four Languages Are Used in the Wisdom of Truth
  1. Four languages are used in the wisdom of truth:

  2. The language of the Bible, its names, and appellations.

  3. The language of laws. This language is very close to the language of the Bible.

  4. The language of legends, which is very far from the Bible, since it has no consideration of reality. Strange names and appellations are attributed to this language, and also, it does not relate to concepts by way of root and its branch.

  5. The language of Sefirot and Partzufim. In general, sages had a strong inclination to conceal it from the ignorant, since they believed that wisdom and ethics go hand in hand. Hence, the first sages hid the wisdom in writing, using lines, dots, tops, and bottoms. This is how the alphabet was formed with the twenty-two letters before us.

The Language of the Bible

The language of the Bible is the primary, rudimentary language, perfectly suited for its task, as for the most part, it contains a root and branch relation. This is the easiest language to understand. This language is also the oldest; it is the Holy Tongue, attributed to Adam ha Rishon.

This language has two advantages and one disadvantage. Its first advantage is that it is easy to understand, and even beginners in attainment immediately understand all they need. The second advantage is that it clarifies matters extensively and in depth, more than in all other languages.

Its disadvantage is that it cannot be used for discussing particular issues or connections of cause and consequence. This is so because every matter needs to be clarified in its fullest measure, as it is not self-evident in showing to which element it is referring, unless by presenting the whole matter. Hence, to emphasize the smallest detail, a complete story must be presented. This is why it is unfit for small details or for connections of cause and consequence.

Also, the language of prayers and blessings is taken from the language of the Bible.

The Language of Laws

The language of laws is not of reality, but of the existence of reality. This language is taken entirely from the language of the Bible according to the roots of the laws presented there. It has one advantage over the Bible: it greatly elaborates on every matter and hence points to the Upper Roots more accurately.

However, its great disadvantage, compared to the language of the Bible, is that it is very difficult to understand. This is the most difficult of all the languages, and only a complete sage, called “entering and exiting without harm,” will attain it. Of course, it also contains the first disadvantage, as it is taken from the Bible.

The Language of Legends

The language of legends is easy to understand through the allegories that perfectly fit the desired meaning. In superficial examination, it seems even easier to understand than the language of the Bible. Yet, for complete understanding, it is a very difficult language, since it does not confine itself to speaking in sequences of root and branch, but only in allegories and marvelous wit. However, it is very rich in resolving abstruse and odd concepts that concern the essence of the degree in its state, for itself, which cannot be explained in the languages of Bible and law.

The Language of Kabbalists

The language of Kabbalists is a language in the full sense of the word: very precise, both concerning root and branch and concerning cause and consequence. It has a unique merit of being able to express subtle details in this language without any limits. Also, through it, it is possible to approach the desired matter directly, without the need to connect it with what precedes it or follows it.

However, despite all the sublime merits that you find in it, there is a great fault to it: it is very difficult to attain, almost impossible, except from a Kabbalist sage and from a wise one who understands with his own mind. This means that even one who understands the rest of the degrees from below Upwards and from Above downwards with his own mind, will still not understand a thing in this language until he receives it from a sage who had already received the language from his teacher face-to-face.

The Language of Kabbalah Is Contained in All

The names, appellations, and Gematrias belong entirely to the wisdom of Kabbalah. The reason they are found in the other languages, too, is that all the languages are included in the wisdom of Kabbalah. This is so because these are all particular cases that the other languages must be assisted with.

But one should not think that these four languages, which serve to explain the wisdom of Godly revelation, evolved one at a time, over time. The truth is that all four appeared before the sages simultaneously.

In truth, each consists of all the others. The language of Kabbalah exists in the Bible, such as the standing on the Tzur (rock), the thirteen attributes of mercy in the Torah and in Micah, and, to an extent, it is sensed in each and every verse. There are also the chariots in Isaiah and Ezekiel, and atop them all The Song of Songs, all of which is purely the language of Kabbalah. It is similar in laws and in legends, and all the more so with the matter of the unerasable holy names, which bear the same meaning in all the languages.

Order of the Evolution of the Languages

Within everything is a gradual development, and the easiest language to use is one whose development is completed before the others. Hence, the first products were in the language of the Bible, as it is the most convenient language and was prevalent at the time.

Following it came the language of laws, since it is completely immersed in the language of the Bible, as well as because it was needed in order to show the people how to implement the laws.

The third was the language of legends. Although it is found in many places in the Bible, too, it is only as an auxiliary language because its wit rushes the perception of matters. However, it cannot be used as a basic language, as it lacks the precision of root and its branch. Thus, it was rarely used and hence did not develop.

And even though legends were used extensively during the time of the Tanaaim and the Amoraim, it was only in conjunction with the language of the Bible, to open the words of our sages—Rabbi… started, etc., (and other suffixes). In truth, expansive use of this language by our sages began after the concealment of the language of Kabbalah, during the days of Yohanan Ben Zakai and soon before, meaning seventy years prior to the ruin of the Temple.

The last to evolve was the language of Kabbalah. This was so because of the difficulties in understanding it: in addition to attainment, one needs to understand the meaning of its words. Hence, even those who understood it could not use it, since, for the most part, they were alone in their generation and had no one with whom to study. Our sages called that language, Maase Merkavah, since it is a special language by which one can elaborate on the details of the Herkev (composition) of the degrees in one another, and not at all with any other.

The Language of Kabbalah Is Like any Spoken Language, and Its Preference Is in the Meaning Contained within a Single Word!

At first glance, the language of Kabbalah seems like a mixture of the three above-mentioned languages. However, one who understands how to use it will find that it is a unique language in and of itself from beginning to end. This does not pertain to the words, but to their meanings. This is the whole difference between them.

In the first three languages, there is almost no meaning to a single word, allowing the examiner to understand what the word implies. Only by joining a few words, and sometimes issues, can their content and meaning be understood. The advantage in the language of Kabbalah is that each and every word in it discloses its content and meaning to the examiner in utter precision, no less than in any other human tongue: each word carries its own precise definition and cannot be replaced with another.

Forgetting the Wisdom

Since the concealment of The Zohar, this important language has gradually been forgotten, as it was being used by fewer and fewer people. Also, there was a cessation of one generation, where the receiving sage did not convey it to an understanding receiver. Ever since then, there has been an immeasurable deficit.

You can evidently see that Kabbalist Rabbi Moshe de Leon, who was the last to possess it and by whom it appeared in the world, did not understand a word of it. This is because in those books where he introduces pieces of The Book of Zohar, it is clear that he did not understand the words at all, as he interpreted it according to the language of the Bible. He confused the understanding completely, although he himself had a wonderful attainment, as his compositions demonstrate.

So it was for generations: all the Kabbalists dedicated their entire lives to understanding the language of The Zohar, but could not find their hands and legs, since they forced the language of the Bible on it. For this reason, this book was sealed before them, as it was to Rabbi Moshe de Leon himself.

Kabbalah of the Ari

This was so until the arrival of the unique Kabbalist, the Ari. His attainment was above and beyond any boundary, and he opened the language of The Zohar for us and paved our way in it. Had he not passed away so young, it is hard to imagine the amount of Light that would be drawn out of The Zohar. The little we have been blessed with has paved a way and inlet, and true hope that over the generations our understanding would grow to fully grasp it.

Yet, you must understand the reason why all the great sages who followed the Ari abandoned all the books that they compiled in this wisdom and in the commentaries on The Zohar, and nearly prohibited themselves even from being seen, and dedicated their lives to the words of the Ari. This was not because they did not believe in the sanctity of the sages preceding the Ari; God forbid that we should think so. Anyone with eyes in the wisdom could see that the attainment of those great sages in the wisdom of truth was immeasurable. Only an ignorant fool could doubt them. However, their logic in the wisdom followed the first three languages.

Although each language is true and fitting in its place, it is not completely fitting, and quite misleading to understand the wisdom of Kabbalah contained in The Zohar using these orders. This is so because it is a completely different language, since it was forgotten. For this reason, we do not use their explanations, either the explanations of Rabbi Moshe de Leon himself, or his successors’, as their words in interpreting The Zohar are not true, and to this day we have but one commentator—the Ari.

In light of the above, it follows that the internality of the wisdom of Kabbalah is none other than the internality of the Bible, the Talmud, and the legends. The only difference between them is in their explanations.

This is similar to a wisdom that has been translated into four languages. Naturally, the essence of the wisdom has not changed at all by the change of language. All we need to think of is which translation is the most convenient for conveying the wisdom to the student.

So is the matter before us: the wisdom of truth, meaning the wisdom of the revelation of Godliness in His Ways to the creatures, like secular teachings, must be passed on from generation to generation. Each generation adds a link to its former, and thus the wisdom evolves. Moreover, it becomes more suitable for expansion in the public.

Hence, each sage must pass on to his students and to the following generations everything he has inherited in the wisdom from earlier generations, as well as the additions he himself has been rewarded with. Clearly, the spiritual attainment—as it is attained by the attaining—cannot be passed on to another, and all the more so be written in a book. This is so because spiritual objects cannot come in letters of the imagination whatsoever (and even though it is written, “…and by the ministry of the prophets have I used similitudes,” it is not literally so).

Order of Passing the Wisdom

Thus, how can one who attains convey one’s attainments to the generations and to students? Know that there is only one way for this: the way of root and branch. All the worlds and everything that fills them, in their every detail, emerged from the Creator in One, Unique, and Unified Thought. And the Thought alone cascaded and created all the many worlds and creations and their conducts, as explained in The Tree of Life and in the Tikkuney Zohar.

Hence, they are all equal to one another, like seal and imprint, where the first seal is imprinted in all. As a result, we call the closer worlds to the Thought about the purpose, “roots,” and the farther worlds from the purpose we call “branches.” This is so because the end of the act is in the preliminary thought.

Now we can understand the common idiom in the legends of our sages: “and watches it from the end of the world to its end.” Should they not have said, “…from the beginning of the world to its end”? But there are two ends: an end according to the distance from the purpose, meaning the last branches in this world, and 2) an end called “the final purpose,” since the purpose is revealed at the end of the matter.

But as we have explained, “The end of the act is in the preliminary thought.” Hence, we find the purpose at the beginning of the worlds. This is what we refer to as “the first world,” or “the first seal.” All other worlds stem from it, and this is why all creations—still, vegetative, animate, and speaking—in all their incidents exist in their fullest form right at the first world. And what does not exist there cannot appear in the world, since one does not give what one does not have.

Root and Branch in the Worlds

Now it is easy to understand the matter of roots and branches in the worlds. Each of the manifold still, vegetative, animate, and speaking in this world have their corresponding parts in the world Above it, without any difference in their form, but only in their substance. Thus, an animal or a rock in this world is a corporeal matter, and its corresponding animal or rock in the Higher World is a spiritual matter, occupying no place or time. However, their quality is the same.

And here we should certainly add the matter of relation between matter and form, which is naturally conditioned on the quality of form, too. Similarly, with the majority of the still, vegetative, animate, and speaking in the Upper World, you will find their similitude and likeness in the world Above the Upper. This continues through the first world, where all the elements are completed, as it is written, “And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.”

This is why the Kabbalists wrote that the world is at the center of everything, to indicate the above, that the end of the act is the first world, meaning the goal. Also, the remoteness from the goal is called “the descent of the worlds from their Emanator” down to this corporeal world, the farthest from the purpose.

However, the end of all the corporeals is to gradually develop and achieve the goal that the Creator had designed for them, meaning the first world. Compared to this world, which we are in, it is the last world, meaning of the end of the matter. This is why it seems that the world of the goal is the last world, and that we, people of this world, are in between them.

Essence of the Wisdom of Truth

Now it is clear that as the emergence of the living species in this world and the conduct of their lives are a wondrous wisdom, the appearance of the Divine Abundance in the world, the degrees and the conduct of their actions unite to create a wondrous wisdom, far more than the science of physics. This is so because physics is mere knowledge of the arrangements of a particular kind existing in a particular world. It is unique to its subject, and no other wisdom is included in it.

This is not so with the wisdom of truth, since it is knowledge of the whole of the still, vegetative, animate, and speaking in all the worlds with all their instances and conducts, as they were included in the Creator’s Thought, that is, in the purpose. For this reason, all the teachings in the world, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, are wondrously included in it, as it equalizes all the different teachings, the most different and the most remote from one another, as the east from the west. It makes them all equal, meaning the orders of each teaching are compelled to come by its ways.

For example, the science of physics is arranged precisely by the order of the worlds and the Sefirot. Similarly, the science of astronomy is arranged by that same order, and so is the science of music, etc. Thus, we find in it that all the teachings are arranged and follow a single connection and a single relation, and they are all like the relation of the child to its progenitor. Hence, they condition one another; that is, the wisdom of truth is conditioned by all the teachings, and all the teachings are conditioned by it. This is why we do not find a single genuine Kabbalist without comprehensive knowledge in all the teachings of the world, since they acquire them from the wisdom of truth itself, as they are included in it.


The greatest wonder about this wisdom is the integration in it: all the elements of the vast reality are incorporated in it, until they come into a single thing—the Almighty, and all of them together.

In the beginning, you find that all the teachings in the world are reflected in it. They are arranged within it precisely by its own orders. Subsequently, we find that all the worlds and the orders in the wisdom of truth itself, which are immeasurable, unite under only ten realities, called “Ten Sefirot.”

Afterwards, these ten Sefirot arrange in four manners, which are the four-letter Name. After that, these four manners are included in the tip of the Yod, which implies the Ein Sof (Infinity).

In this way, one who begins in the wisdom must begin with the tip of the Yod, and from there to the ten Sefirot in the first world, called “the world of Adam Kadmon.” From there one sees how the numerous details in the world of Adam Kadmon necessarily extend by way of cause and consequence, by the same laws we find in astronomy and physics, meaning constant, unbreakable laws that necessarily stem from one another, cascading from one another, from the tip of the Yod down to all the elements in the world of Adam Kadmon. From there they are imprinted by one another from the four worlds by way of seal and imprint, until we arrive at all the elements in this world. Afterwards, they are reintegrated in one another until they all come to the world of Adam Kadmon, then to the ten Sefirot, then to the four-letter Name, up to the tip of the Yod.

We could ask, “If the material is unknown, how can we study and scrutinize it”? Indeed, such as that you will find in all the teachings. For example, when studying anatomy—the various organs and how they affect one another—these organs have no similarity to the general subject, which is the whole, living human being. However, over time, when you thoroughly know the wisdom, you can establish a general relation of all the details upon which the body is conditioned.

So it is here: the general topic is the revelation of Godliness to His creations, by way of the purpose, as it is written, “…for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord.” However, a novice will certainly have no knowledge of the general topic, which is conditioned by all of them. For this reason, one must acquire all the details and how they affect each other, as well as their causes by way of cause and consequence, until one completes the whole wisdom. And when one thoroughly knows everything, if he has a purified soul, it is certain that he will ultimately be rewarded with the general topic.

And even if he is not rewarded, it is still a great reward to acquire any perception of this great wisdom, whose advantage over all other teachings is as the value of their topics, and as the advantage of the Creator over His creations is valued. Similarly, this wisdom, whose subject is Him, is far more valuable than the wisdom whose subject is His creatures.

It is not because it is imperceptible that the world refrains from contemplating it. After all, an astronomer has no perception of the stars and the planets, but only of their moves, which they perform with wondrous wisdom that is predetermined in wondrous Providence. Similarly, the knowledge in the wisdom of truth is not more hidden than that, as even beginners thoroughly understand the moves. Rather, the whole prevention was because Kabbalists very wisely hid it from the world.

Giving Permission

I am glad that I have been born in such a generation when it is permitted to disclose the wisdom of truth. And should you ask, “How do I know that it is permitted?” I will reply that I have been given permission to disclose. Until now, the ways by which it is possible to publicly engage and to fully explain each word have not been revealed to any sage. And I, too, have sworn by my teacher not to disclose, as did all the students before me. However, this oath and this prohibition apply only to those manners that are given orally from generation to generation, back to the prophets and before. Had these ways been revealed to the public, they would cause much harm, for reasons known only to us.

Yet, the way in which I engage in my books is a permitted way. Moreover, I have been instructed by my teacher to expand it as much as I can. We call it “the manner of clothing the matters.” You will see in the writings of Rashbi that he calls this way, “giving permission,” and this is what the Creator has given me to the fullest extent. We deem it as dependent not on the greatness of the sage, but on the state of the generation, as our sages said, “Little Samuel was worthy, etc., but his generation was unworthy.” This is why I said that my being rewarded with the manner of disclosing the wisdom is because of my generation.

Abstract Names

It is a grave mistake to think that the language of Kabbalah uses abstract names. On the contrary, it touches only upon the actual. Indeed, there are things in the world that are real even though we have no perception of them, such as the magnet and electricity. Yet, who would be so foolish as to say that these are abstract names? After all, we thoroughly know their actions, and we could not care less that we do not know their essence. In the end, we refer to them as sure subjects to the actions that relate to them. And this is a real name. Even an infant who is just learning to speak can name them, if he only begins to feel their actions. This is our law: All that we do not attain, we do not name.

Essence Is Not Perceived in the Corporeals

Moreover, even the things we imagine we attain by their essence, such as rocks and trees, after honest examination we are left with zero attainment in their essence, since we only attain their actions, which occur in conjunction with the encounter of our senses with them.


For example, when Kabbalah states that there are three forces, 1) Body, 2) Animate Soul, and 3) Sacred Soul, this does not refer to the essence of the soul. The essence of the soul is fluid; it is what psychologists refer to as “self” and materialists as “electric.” [1]

It is a waste of time to speak of its essence, as it is not arranged for impression through the touch of our senses, as with all corporeal objects. However, by observing in the essence of this fluid three kinds of actions in the spiritual worlds, we thoroughly distinguish between them by different names, according to their actual operations in the Upper Worlds. Thus, there are no abstract names here, but rather tangible ones in the full sense of the word.

Advantage of My Commentary over Previous Commentaries

We can be assisted by secular teachings in interpreting matters in the wisdom of Kabbalah, since the wisdom of Kabbalah is the root of everything and they are all included in it. Some were assisted by anatomy, such as in, “then without my flesh shall I see God,” and some were assisted by philosophy. Latterly, there is extensive use of the wisdom of psychology. But all these are not considered true commentaries, since they do not interpret anything in the wisdom of Kabbalah itself, only show us how the rest of the teachings are included in it. This is why the observers cannot be assisted by one place, in another place. …even though the wisdom of serving God is the closest wisdom to Kabbalah from all the external teachings.

And needless to say, it is impossible to be assisted by interpretations according to the science of anatomy, or by philosophy. For this reason, I said that I am the first interpreter by root and branch, and cause and consequence. Hence, if one were to understand some matter through my commentary, one can be certain that everywhere this matter appears in The Zohar and in the Tikkunim, he can be assisted by it, as with the commentaries on the literal, where you can be assisted by one place for all the other places.

The style of interpreting according to external teachings is a waste of time because it is nothing more than a testimony to the genuineness of one over the other. And an external teaching needs no testimony, as Providence has prepared five senses to testify for it, and in Kabbalah (nevertheless) one should understand the argument prior to bringing testimony to the argument.

Style of Interpreting According to External Teachings

This is the source of Rav Shem Tov’s mistake: he interpreted The Guide for the Perplexed according to the wisdom of Kabbalah, and he did not know, or pretended not to know, that the wisdom of medicine, or any other wisdom, could be interpreted according to the wisdom of Kabbalah no less than the wisdom of philosophy. This is so because all the teachings are included in it and were imprinted by its seal.

Of course, The Guide to the Perplexed did not refer at all to what Rav Shem Tov interpreted, and he did not see how… in The Book of Creation, he interpreted the Kabbalah according to philosophy. I have already proven that such a style of commentaries is a waste of time, since external teachings need no testimony, and it is pointless to bring testimony to the truthfulness of the wisdom of Kabbalah before its words are interpreted.

It is like a prosecutor who brings witnesses to verify his words before he has explained his arguments (except for books that deal with the work of God, since the wisdom of serving God truly needs witnesses to its truthfulness and success, and we should be assisted by the wisdom of truth).

However, all the compositions of this style are not at all a waste. After we thoroughly understand the wisdom in itself, we will be able to receive much assistance from analogies, how all the teachings are included in it, as well as the manners by which to seek them.

Attaining the Wisdom

There are three orders in the wisdom of truth:

1. The originality in the wisdom. It requires no human assistance, as it is entirely the gift of God, and no stranger shall interfere with it.

2. The understanding of the sources that one has attained from Above. It is like a person who sees that the whole world is set before his eyes, and yet he must exert and study to understand this world. Although he sees everything with his own eyes, there are fools and there are wise. This understanding is called “the wisdom of truth,” and AdamhaRishon was the first to receive a sequence of sufficient knowledge by which to understand and to successfully maximize everything he saw and attained with his eyes.

The order of this knowledge is given only from mouth to mouth. And there is also an order of evolution in them, where each can add to his friend or regress (whereas in the first discernment everyone receives equally without adding or subtracting, like Adam, in understanding the reality of this world. In viewing it, all are equal, but this is not so in understanding it—some evolve from generation to generation and some regress). And the order of its conveyance is sometimes called “conveying the Explicit Name,” and it is given under many conditions, but only orally, and not in writing.

3. This is a written order. It is a completely new thing, since besides containing much room for the development of the wisdom, through which each inherits all the expansions of his attainments to the following generations, there is another magnificent power in it: All who engage in it, although they still do not understand what is written in it, are purified by it, and the Upper Lights draw closer to them. And this order contains four languages, as we have explained above, and the language of Kabbalah exceeds them all.

Order of Conveying the Wisdom

The most successful way for one who wishes to learn the wisdom is to search for a genuine Kabbalist and follow all his instructions, until one is rewarded with understanding the wisdom in one’s own mind, meaning the first discernment. Afterwards, one will be rewarded with its conveyance mouth to mouth, which is the second discernment, and after that, understand in writing, which is the third discernment. Then, one will have inherited all the wisdom and its instruments from his teacher with ease, and will be left with all one’s time to develop and expand.

However, in reality there is a second way: through one’s great yearning, the sights of the Heavens will open for him and he will attain all the origins by himself. This is the first discernment. Yet, afterwards one must still labor and exert extensively, until one finds a Kabbalist sage before whom one can bow and obey, and from whom to receive the wisdom by way of conveyance face to face, which is the second discernment, and then the third discernment.

And since one is not attached to a Kabbalist sage from the outset, the attainments come with great efforts and consume much time, leaving one with only little time to develop in it. Also, sometimes the knowledge comes after the fact, as it is written, “and they shall die without wisdom.” These are ninety-nine percent and what we call, “entering but not exiting.” They are as fools and ignorant in this world, who see the world set before them but do not understand any of it, except the bread in their mouths.

Indeed, in the first way, too, not everyone succeeds. This is because the majority, having attained, become complacent and stop subjugating themselves to their teacher sufficiently, as they are not worthy of the conveyance of the wisdom. In this case, the sage must hide the essence of the wisdom from them, and “they shall die without wisdom,” “entering but not exiting.”

This is so because there are harsh and strict conditions in conveying the wisdom, which stem from necessary reasons. Hence, very few are regarded highly enough by their teachers for them to find them worthy of this thing, and happy are the rewarded.

[1] Rav Laitman explains that by “electric,” Baal HaSulam means based on atoms.

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