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"Preface to the Book of Zohar" - Lesson 2

January 5, 2005
Lecturer: Michael Laitman, PhD

We’ve talked about the limitations that a researcher in the book of Zohar must undertake in order to narrow his field of vision to match what the Zohar introduces to us. Otherwise, if the Kelim (lit. vessels or tools of perception) of the receiver do not match what comes from the Book of Zohar, he or she will be so confused, that he will not be able to advance any further in the wisdom.

8.“In addition to the above, there is a very important intimation in this parable of the four colors. The Upper Lights are called Sefer (lit. book), as it is written ( Sefer Yetzira, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1), “And He created His world in three books: A book, an author, and a tale. The writing also says, “and they appeared as the book of heaven” (Isaiah, 34).

“The disclosure of the wisdom in each book is not in the white in it, but only in the colors, meaning in the ink.”

We resemble the Sefirot Hochma, Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut, to white, red, green, and black respectively. The Sefirot appear on the white background because white is for Hochma.

Hochma can never appear as it is in itself. We do crave Hochma and are fulfilled by Hochma; and Hochma is everything for us, but we perceive it precisely through the deficiencies in it. The Hochma is the white background in the book, so “The manifestation of the wisdom in each book is not in the white in it, but only in the colors, meaning in the ink. This is where the letters within the book in its combinations of the wisdom come from to the reader.”

“On the whole, there are three kinds of ink in this book: red, green, and black.”

Red is for Bina, green for Zeir Anpin, and black is for Malchut. By utilizing the red, green, and black vessels, meaning various vessels of reception, in order to bestow, by that they create colors on top of the white.

Actually, the red is not the entire Bina but only Zat de Bina, because Gar de Bina is actually Hochma (Etzem Hochma), meaning white. The Hochma doesn’t disturb Gar de Bina because it only improves the Hassadim, hence Gar de Bina doesn’t instill her own color into the white. Thus, only Zat de Bina is red, Kelim of Zeir Anpin are green, and the Kelim of Malchut are black.

So what do we see in these colors? For example, if Malchut is black, does that imply a deficiency in Hochma? No. On the contrary, when Malchut works with her black color together with Hochma, she enhances the Hochma more than Zeir Anpin and Bina do. This is because her Kelim have the greatest Aviut. At the end of the day, it is an advantage, not a shortcoming. After all, we are speaking abut vessels that use Hochma in order to bestow, letters or combinations of letters in the book, which is called The Book of Heaven, meaning a disclosure of Hochma, Light of wisdom.

If we create all the possible combinations of letters, this will be called, A Book of Torah. The Book of Torah contains all the letters, which register the entire wisdom. If we execute it, it will be considered that we have written a book of Torah. (There is a Mitzva that every person must write a book of Torah). Thus, by performing all these actions, one elucidates the entire wisdom on the parchment (upon which the book of Torah is written).

We already know that the parchment is the inner part of the Light, the one that can be joined with Kedusha (lit. Sanctity), meaning the inner part of the Kli.

The book of Torah speaks entirely from Tzimtzum Bet (lit. The Second Restriction) onward. The book Bereshit (Genesis) already begins after Tzimtzum Bet. It is written, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Here we already have the connection between Bina and Malchut. It follows, that the whole Torah speaks of the way to use the middle line in Tzimtzum Bet for scrutinizing the Kelim in such a way that they will sort out for us the entire Book of Heaven, all the Hochma in the parchment, except Gmar Tikkun. The whole Torah is about how to use the middle line.

“Correspondingly, the world Atzilut, which is Hochma, is all Godliness. It is considered the white in the book. It means that we have no perception in it whatsoever, but all the disclosure in the Book of Heaven is in the Sefirot Bina (Zat de Bina), Tifferet, and Malchut, which are the three worlds BYA, since they are considered the ink in the Book of Heaven.”

When the worlds BYA ascend to Atzilut and clothe it, Zat de Bina is called Olam Beria, Zeir Anpin — or Tifferet — is called Olam Yetzira, and Malchut is called Olam Assiya. By clothing Atzilut, they elucidate the Hochma that exists in Atzilut. Prior to that, there is no Hochma in Atzilut, and it is concealed. We must remember that Atzilut itself is only Galgalta ve Eynaim, white.

“The letters and their combinations appear in the three above - mentioned kinds of ink, and it is only through them that the Godly Light appears to the receivers.” This Light is in itself colorless. “At the same time, we must note that the white in the book is the primary subject of the book, and the letters are all “predicates” on the white in the book. Thus, had it not been for the white, there would have been no existence for the letters, and the whole manifestation of Hochma in them (in the letters).

“Similarly, the world Atzilut, which is Sefirat Hochma, is the primary carrier of the manifestation of the Hochma that appears through the worlds BYA.” The content of Atzilut reveals specifically through them. “This is the meaning of, “In wisdom hast Thou made them all.”

9. “We have said in the third boundary that the Zohar does not speak of the world Atzilut in and of itself, since it is regarded as the white in the book,” and there is no perception in the white, “but according to its luminescence in the three worlds BYA. It is so because it is considered the ink, the letters, and their combinations in the book.

“It is like that in two manners: One is that the three worlds BYA receive the luminescence of the world Atzilut in their own place,” below the Parsa, “at which time the Light is greatly reduced as it passes through the Parsa below the world Atzilut (called Ohr Tolada). In the end, it is discerned as a mere luminescence of the Kelim of Atzilut (a very small Light).

“The other is the path of the ascent of the worlds BYA above the Parsa (to the world Atzilut) to the place of Sefirot Bina, Tifferet and Malchut of Atzilut. At that time they clothe the world Atzilut, meaning receive the Light (of wisdom) in the place of its luminescence (in Atzilut).” They sort the Ohr Hochma through their Kelim, which ascended to Atzilut.

10. " Yet, the allegory is not at all similar to the lesson, because in the book of wisdom in this world, both the white and the ink in its letters are lifeless.” The discrepancy here is that there is a big addition in the Hochma that we attain by clothing the world Atzilut. It is not like our world. In our world, when we acquire knowledge about something, there is us, and there is the knowledge. It is something exterior that we perceive, information.

“…its letters are lifeless.” In other words, contact with the book does not give us life in this world. “The disclosure of the wisdom induced by them is not in their essence itself, but outside them, meaning in the mind of the scrutinizer.” We do not change. We do not adapt ourselves to the book the way a person who wants to reach the world Atzilut must, in order to be in the world Atzilut in all the Kelim.

“However, regarding the four worlds ABYA, which are the Book of Heaven, the Lights in the spiritual and corporeal reality are present in them and extend from them. Thus, you should know that the white in it, which is the carrier of the book, is the studied subject matter itself, while (only) the three colors of the ink elucidate that subject.”

In our world, we perceive both the letters, as well as the wisdom in the letter. In spirituality, however, we perceive the white that is outside the letters. In other words, it is not the letters that are important, but the white around them. Much like positive and negative in photography, in spirituality, we perceive the background. This is a very difficult notion to convey.

11. “Here we should study these four manners of perception, presented above in the first boundary:

A. Matter;
B. Form Clothed in Matter;
C. Abstract Form;
D. Essence.

“Yet, I shall first explain them using actual examples from this world. For example, when we say, “a strong person,” “a truthful person,” or “a liar” etc., we have before us:

So all and all we have Form, Form Clothed in Mater, Abstract Form, and Essence. He gives us an example from this world regarding how we can tell them apart. This is important for us in order to make the right definition in our spiritual perception.

12.“Know that the fourth manner, which is the essence of the person in itself, without the matter, is completely inconceivable for us. This is because our five senses and our imagination do not offer us anything more than the disclosure of the actions of the essence, but not of the essence itself.”

This is why we do not touch it. In other words, I see that something happens, but I don’t know who does it. Moreover, not only do I know that I do not know, but it is absolutely clear to me that I never will know.

We’ve already said that it is similar to what we feel in our mundane senses. Baal HaSulam explains that we do not know what is outside our ears, what it is that pressures our eardrums. We only know our reaction to something on the outside, and name the exterior phenomenon after our own reactions.

It is quite possible that there are other frequencies on the outside, that the phenomena are not quite as they appear to our ears. But our ears react in a unique manner, so for us, this is the phenomenon.

It turns out, that we don’t know the essence of what is outside us; we learn only our reaction to it. This is not even an abstract action; it is something that is already present, that is happening within me.

Thus, we see that even in this world, not in spirituality, but in this very world we are limited in a very distinct and clear - cut manner. If one relates to reality in this way, it immediately positions one in a different place in one’s inquiries with respect to one’s perception and approach to reality. Then one realizes that what he or she sees is not what really is happening.

If we want to understand the roots to everything that happens, a world, a reality begins to work on us that we have never felt before in its true form. All that we know is that some kind of spontaneous fluctuations occur within us, which make it seem to us as if there is something on the outside. It is in fact we who picture this image to ourselves from the sum-total of the inner effects on our membrane. But who really knows what happens or what is found on the outside?

Thus, in order to relate correctly to reality, one must limit oneself, meaning not lie to himself saying that he perceives the actual picture, but only matter and form clothed in matter. This is the truth and there is nothing we can do about it.

We do not perceive the whole picture, only our reaction to it. This is called “our matter and the forms that this matter adopts.” We also do not know to what extent the forms we feel on our matter are connected to the abstract form, which operates on the matter from without.

It is like saying what the Upper Light that operates on us is like on the outside according to how I interpret my reaction to it. It is entirely a reaction of the Kli; it is how the Kli can understand, interpret what Light is, who it is, what it wants, and what I want. Since the creature is involved in it, it is impossible to say anything true about how the phenomenon is outside the creature. This is a very strict boundary with respect to the examiner because the most important thing in Kabbalah is to create the Kli, the tool for perception.

This is why Baal HaSulam limits us here, and stresses the need to position ourselves truthfully. It is not that he wants you to know less, to refrain from delving deep into matters. On the contrary, by narrowing your field of vision, you narrow it to the range where you are the dominator. You cut out the margins where you are not in control, and thus distance yourself from confusion.

As a result, the final picture that you perceive is a true picture. Through it, you can later on reach further, though it will still follow all the conditions stated here very strictly.

This is what he says: “Our five senses and our imagination do not offer us anything more than the disclosure of the actions of the essence, but not of the essence itself.”

“For example, the sense of sight offers us only shadows of the visible essence, according to how they are formed opposite the light. Similarly, the sense of hearing is but a force of striking of some essence on the air. The air is rejected because of its force, strikes the drum in our ear, and we hear that there is some essence in our proximity.

“The sense of smell is but air that comes out of the essence, strikes out nerves of scent, and we smell. Also, the sense of taste is but a result of the touching of some essence on our nerves of taste. Thus, all that these four senses offer us is but manifestations of the operations that stem from some essence, and nothing of the essence itself.

“Even the sense of touch, the strongest of the senses, separating hot from cold and solid from soft, all these are but manifestations of operations within the essence; they are but incidents of the essence. The hot can be chilled, the cold can be heated; the solid can be turned to liquid through chemical operations, and the liquid made into air, meaning only gas, where any discernment in our five senses has been expired. Yet, the essence still exists, because you can once more turn the air into liquid, and the liquid into solid.

“Thus, you evidently see that the five senses do not reveal to us any essence at all, but only incidents and manifestations of operations of the essence. It is known that that which we cannot feel, we also cannot imagine; and what we cannot imagine, we also cannot think of; we have no way of perceiving it” if we have never felt it.

“It follows, that the thought has no perception in the essence whatsoever. Moreover, we do not even know our own essence.” In other words, I don’t know about myself and cannot even learn about myself. Why?

“I feel and know that I occupy a certain space in the world, that I am solid, warm, and that I think, and other such manifestations of the operations of my essence. Yet, if you ask me what is my own essence, from which all these manifestations stem, I do not know what to reply to you.

You therefore see that providence has prevented from us the attainment of any essence. We attain only manifestations and reflections of operations that stem from the essences.” This, in fact, is our true state.

What is an intention? Is it a Form clothed in Matter, or is it Abstract Form?

Your problem is that you took the word “Form,” and now you’re twisting and turning it in all kinds of forms.

There is white Light. We have no perception in it whatsoever. So, now we are talking about how to perceive it. I can perceive it by means of my Kelim, when they clothe it, meaning when they match themselves to that Light. In what way? Through the intention to bestow.

I receive that intention to bestow from that very same Light, from The Giver. The reason it is white, imperceptible for me, is because it is the giver, because it is opposite from my black Kelim. In the beginning, my Kelim are even colorless, and I don’t perceive the Light. I can’t even say that it is white.

Let’s say that I have received a point of Light into my Kli, my will to receive, meaning my point in the heart. I can then use this point to develop my Kli in correlation with the Light. This point is the intention, the point of Bina, the aim to bestow in my entire Kli in my heart, which in turn is the desire. When I begin to use my desire in accordance with the giving Light, meaning when my desire is going to be the giver, in terms of the essence of its action, the result is that I clothe the white Light.

But in which desire do I do that? Is it with the desire of Behina Dalet, with Gimel, or with Zat de Bina, meaning Bet? Remember that a part of Aviut Bet is also a will to receive. So, which of my desires to receive can I use as vessels to receive the filling, vessels to express the bestowal? These have to be vessels in which I understand what bestowal is, through my own reaction.

For example: My eardrum and the entire mechanism in my ear react to something on the outside. I don’t know what it is, but they do the same thing as on the outside, but in the opposite direction. When something presses from without, I press from within. I always keep myself in a balanced state, and by that I measure what is on the outside.

This is how all our measurement tools operate, all our tools of sensation. Whatever measurement tool we use, all of them work in a very simple manner:

Let us say that we have scale and we put some weight on it, say one kilogram. Now we measure it against the scale, which of course indicates 1kg. Now, how does this mechanism work? There is a spring, which goes up or down according to the weight. The instrument maintains its own balance. In other words, to the extent that the weight pulls down, the spring pulls up. It turns out that what you measure is the equilibrium between them.

Drawing number 1

Drawing Nr 1

Let’s take another example, a speedometer. You have the zero point, and let’s say that the equilibrium is on twenty kilometers per hour. So the dial was on zero, and now it moved to twenty. It happens because there is a mechanism in this apparatus where on the one hand there is the speed of the wheels that constantly pulls the dial to one side, and on the other side there is a spring that holds it down. These two forces constantly resist each other, and thus keep it in a state of equilibrium.

What you end up with is a membrane, which is your ear, there is pressure on your eardrum, and a pressure opposite it, which balances the pressure. If the pressure hadn’t been there, the eardrum would have been twisted and torn. Instead, it is always kept in the same condition, and what we measure is the pressure against it.

Drawing number 2

Drawing Nr 2

It follows, that what I measure is only the pressure. I don’t know what I have here on the outside. I only measure the pressure, and that pressure is then transmitted to the brain, which in turn makes me understand what is seemingly happening.

Thus, we never do know what runs through the spring, or the coil, what is the actual weight, or the pressure. We are caged in our boxes and merely measure our own reactions, period.

This is why he says that we cannot perceive the Abstract Form, the properties outside us. We have no connection to it whatsoever, and we measure merely from this membrane, from the eardrum inwards. This is called Form in Matter and Matter.

In other words, Form in Matter is the form that your body clothes over a reaction to an external stimulus, meaning your intention. The intention over the matter balances the effect from above, which is the Creator. It follows, that what we end up measuring, is to what extent I am similar to the Creator in my intention. Nothing more.

Let us say, for instance, that you utilize twenty percent of your Matter while activating the aim to bestow, and thus balance the Creator’s pressure on you. By so doing you build a Partzuf.

In the Partzuf, you check how much He gives you, and how much you can do for Him. If you can work for Him with twenty percent of your Matter, meaning be in balance with Him in twenty percent, then this is what you use. The remaining eighty percent are left below, unused.

In other words, I seemingly perceive the Creator, and I seemingly feel who He is, according to my intention over my own matter. What I actually matter is my own intention. Just like I actually measure the spring in the speedometer, here too I measure my spring. I don’t know what is the actual weight of whatever piece I have placed on the scale. My only measurement is according to the spring. This is why our learning is figurative, and these figures, these forms are called Kavana (lit. intention) to bestow.

Drawing number 3

Drawing Nr 3

Is this called the sixth sense? It seems to work on the same principle

Of course the sixth sense works on the same principle. The only difference is that it is not given to me by nature, I have to build it. Our five senses — sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch — are inherent in me by nature. I could increase or decrease their sensitivity, such as when I grow old I don’t hear as well, or if I get drunk I become less sensitive to touch. But these senses are naturally in me, ready for use.

The sixth sense, however, is something that I have to build by myself. The reason is that in fact, it is not a sense that I am building; I am building an intention. By doing that I study the forms of the Creator, the forms of bestowal. This is why it is not given to me naturally.

If I had received it naturally, it wouldn’t have been any different than the other ones. I would have been an angel, feeling the Creator, the Upper Force that gives everything, and I would react and operate accordingly. But in so doing, I would not build myself in similarity with the Creator, as a separate, independent entity. I would not have been made into a created being.

Instead, I would have been made like my senses. They are not created beings, they are still, inanimate. There is no evolution in them. It is impossible to place an intention over them because intention can be placed only over the attitude to the Creator. All I can measure with my senses is this world, namely the lowest degree of the still, which presents itself to me in this manner. It is the inanimate attitude of the Creator toward me.

When I begin to feel the Creator in my matter, only there can I begin to build an attitude toward Him, my intention. This is called engaging in figurative learning. In other words, I study intentions, I measure them, and these intentions are my Partzuf. In fact, these intentions are me.

This is called “advancing with faith above reason.” Faith above reason means intention. In it, I do not pay attention to the matter, to the knowledge that appears to me in matter; I pay attention only to my attitude toward the Giver. In other words, what matters to me is only to place an equal pressure on Him to the extent that He gives to me, meaning presses my membrane. That will enable me to resemble Him, and to measure the form, meaning my equivalence of form with Him.

How can we speak of Matter that is not Form clothed in Matter?

We can relate to matter that does not manifest through a Form clothed in Matter as we relate to restricted Matter. In other words, when I have desires that I cannot shape in any way, I restrict the use of them. If I don’t have a Masach (lit. Screen) to use the Matter, I restrict it.

How do I measure them? I mean, what is my reaction to it in a desire without a Form on it?

This is already work in three lines. There is the right, there is the left, and the middle line is the balance - pivot. We will talk about how we do it.

Looking at the drawing of the ear; what is Matter before it is clothed in Form?

Before Matter clothes in Form, it is a desire that has no connection, no relation to spirituality. It is like the light before we use it, before it is connected to us. There is nothing to Matter without contact with the Light, without clothing in Form.

As we have said before, we study forms. We operate by Figurative Learning, meaning how, and how much the Creator gives to me. Accordingly, I adopt that form and give back to Him.

We are only aware of the operations with our five senses, not of the results. Do we also attain the operation in our sixth sense?

Operations in the sixth sense are intentions. Baal HaSulam tells us that just like in our five senses, all we perceive in our sixth sense is the results. We do not speak of the Light without a Kli, or the essence of the Creator. We do not touch that at all, since we have no real perception in it.

What is the difference between the equivalence of form and the balancing that you talked about earlier on?

Equivalence of form and balance, or equilibrium, is the same.

We talk about knowing our roots. What does it mean to know the root?

As we’ve discussed concerning the white light, knowing the root is done by clothing over it.

What about the letters, what do they mean?

Baal HaSulam says that if, in our worldly teachings, we are educated within the letters, in spirituality I study the white outside the letters, and I do it through the letters. The letters become my Kelim, and if I type them over the white Matter, I thus create the intentions.

What does the shape of the letters mean? The shape of the letters expresses my measure of equivalence with the white background. In other words, letters are intentions; they are not the Matter itself. The black, green, or red, only indicate the power of the intention, which Aviut it is placed on.

What does it mean to discover the root?

How do I find the root of something? If I resemble myself to the Creator by equalizing my attitude to Him, meaning as He is to me, so I am to Him, by that I learn who He is. I do not study Him, but His attitude toward me. And I do it by equalizing the relationship between us.

You might ask, “But do you know Him as a result of that?” I do not know Him, but His attitude. This is called connecting to the thought of creation, but not to Him. The Creator Himself, He is the upper part of the thought of creation, it is impossible to connect to that.

In other words, does discovering the roots, the interconnections in reality, mean discovering His attitude to me?

Yes, only that. This is the meaning of reaching “to do good to His creations,” and be like that. This is the fullest measure that every person must reach, and not more than that.

We do not learn about what is beyond that. It is said that there is an even further goal, but by that we correct ourselves, and in that the creature begins to be like the Creator. Afterwards the Creator takes you to places and situations that I don’t even know how to talk about. We cannot even imagine it and define it; it is simply unknown.

Yet, if we generally speak of this process as the correction process of the creature, by which the creature corrects itself, then they must by implying that the actual reality begins only after Gmar Tikkun (lit. end of correction).

How is the connection between the Forms related to the Sefirot?

We still haven’t talked about how the Form, Form in Matter, Abstract Form, and Essence, are connected to the Sefirot. This is something we still need to talk about.

What changes the Kli?

The Kli changes through the Reshimot in it. New Reshimot appear each time, and each time on a different Aviut. Accordingly, one must change one’s intentions. This is how we build our intentions over the conditions that appear.

The Creator takes the creatures through all the situations, a multitude of states. It shouldn’t matter to us which situations He creates, because we are also completely uninformed as to the situations that we should be in. We do not know how these states are interconnected in me, why, and in which order. All this should not matter to us.

The Creator displays frames before us, pictures: Me and the world, the world and I, me with myself and me with the world. I, in turn, must build an intention out of each and every situation. I have to find the Creator’s attitude toward me and build my intention toward Him accordingly.

It turns out, that my surfacing Aviut should not matter to me. In fact, nothing should matter to me except the form, the form of bestowal of the Creator and my own form of bestowal. This is it. At the end of the day, we are speaking of a level that is above the Matter, that is on the level of intentions.

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