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Michael Laitman, PhD

Chapter 8. The Language of Kabbalah

Because our vocabulary is limited by our perception of the world, which is connected to the concepts of time, space, and motion, we have no words to express or convey spiritual concepts. We have developed our whole vocabulary from being in this world, and thus, if we want to use mundane words to name spiritual phenomena, such words are inadequate.

It is difficult to find words that explain the experience of spirituality to someone who has never felt it. Although we may want to describe a spiritual object, we have only corporeal words to name it. If even a single concept does not find precise correspondence in words, the correct meaning of the entire science will be ruined. Thus, the problem of relating to the spiritual world without the appropriate words or language to describe it remains unsolved.

Every object and action in our world originates from a corresponding one in the spiritual world. Therefore, Kabbalists have found a reliable way to convey information and knowledge to one another. They use the names of objects and actions (branches) in our material world to describe the corresponding objects and actions (roots) in the spiritual world.

This language was developed by people who attained the spiritual worlds while still living in our world, and accurately knew these correspondences. Hence, Kabbalists aptly named it “the language of the branches.”

From this we can understand the odd names that we find in Kabbalistic books, the descriptions of actions that we perceive as odd stories or children’s fairytales. Nevertheless, this language is very accurate because there is a precise and unique correspondence between each root and its branch.

It is no wonder that there is such a correspondence, as the creators of the language of the branches simultaneously existed in both the spiritual and the physical worlds. This is why it is impossible to replace even a single word, and however absurd it may seem, the branch should exactly correspond to the root.

What separates spiritual objects is not space, but their spiritual incongruence and dissimilarity of properties. Therefore, the number of souls, meaning separate spiritual objects, determines the number of people in the physical world.

In the beginning of Creation there was one common soul: the Light (pleasure) and the corresponding body (desire), Adam. These were merged in adhesion with the Creator, and therefore received maximum delight. The soul’s nature is merely the will to receive pleasure, and the soul was filled with pleasure in accordance with its desire. However, once having received pleasure, the soul sensed shame. In our world, everyone who receives a gift or favor feels the same way.

The extent of the sense of shame depends on the person’s spiritual development. Only this feeling keeps us constantly within limits and compels us to observe the laws of the society. The same sensation underlies our aspirations for knowledge, wealth, recognition by society, and honor.

Once it had felt a burning shame, corresponding to the received pleasure, the soul discovered that the only way to be rid of it was to stop enjoying the pleasure. However, since the Creator’s desire was to delight the soul, the soul agreed to accept this delight--not for its own sake, but only for the sake of the Creator.

Just as in our world, the more pleasure the child receives from food, such as “eating for Mommy,” the more delight it gives its parent. In this situation, the soul should constantly control the amount of pleasure it receives in order to enjoy only for the Creator’s sake.

However, since the common soul could not instantly overcome its natural desire to enjoy for its own sake (that is how great it was!), it was shattered into myriad fragments (souls). These fragments were easier to work on, to neutralize the selfish will to enjoy.

Since no distance exists in the spiritual world, and proximity is determined by the similarity of actions and thoughts (affinity, love), souls that receive “for the Creator’s sake” are close to Him because they please each other, just like a mother and her child.

Closeness is determined by how much pleasure the soul receives for the sake of the Creator. The will to receive instinctively acts within us, but our desire to rid ourselves of shame and to enjoy for the Creator’s sake originates within us. Therefore, the desire to rid self of shame and to enjoy for the Creator's sake requires special and continuous effort.

The soul that receives for its own sake is opposite from the Giver in its intention and spiritual action. The greater the pleasure it selfishly receives, the greater its opposition to the Creator.

Since the difference in desires leads one away from the Creator, different worlds were formed at different levels of remoteness down to our world. Here, every part of the common soul is given a certain period of time (life span) and repeated opportunities (life cycles) for correction.

A person is born only with the will to receive pleasure for self. All our “personal” desires originate from the system of impure forces. In other words, we are infinitely remote from the Creator, we cannot feel Him, and are therefore considered “spiritually dead.”

However, if, while struggling with oneself, a person acquires the desire to live, think, and act only for the sake of others and the Creator, such soul purification allows one to gradually approach the Creator until completely merging with Him. And as one comes closer to the Creator, one feels increasing delight.

It is for this soul transformation that our world and all the spiritual worlds (the steps on the path to the Creator) were created. Merging with the Creator is a task that everyone must accomplish while still living in our world.

Our world is the most opposite point from the Creator—opposite from His properties. By ridding ourselves of the selfish desire to enjoy, we approach Him and thus gain doubly: we enjoy receiving pleasure from Him and at the same time, enjoy pleasing Him. In the same way, when I eat my mother’s food, I enjoy the meal and am glad it pleases her.

It should be noted that while egoistic pleasure is short-lived and limited by the size of the desire (we cannot eat two dinners), one can endlessly give, share, or receive for the sake of another. Accordingly, the pleasure that one receives is infinite!

Every world with all that populates it (including our world) unites in the Creator’s single plan to bestow infinite delight upon the soul. This single thought, this goal, encompasses the entire Creation from beginning to end. All the suffering we feel, our work on ourselves, and the reward are determined only by this thought.

After the individual correction, all souls reunite into one soul as before. Thus, the pleasure received by each soul not only doubles from the reception of delight and pleasing the Creator, but it is multiplied by the number of reunited souls.

Meanwhile, as people who work on themselves ascend spiritually, their eyes begin to open and other worlds become visible. Thus, while still living in this world, they attain all the worlds. For them, the seemingly absurd language of Kabbalah becomes the language of actions, thoughts, and sensations; the concepts that are opposite in our world then unite in the single Supernal Root.

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