The Law of Root and Branch
Just as this world cannot exist without rules, the Higher World follows rules that affect us, too, even if we’re unaware of them.
If we want to understand the phenomena that unfold in our world, we must first understand their origin. If we honestly examine reality, we will have to admit that we have no idea why events in our world unfold as they do. This uncertainty applies to any phenomenon: the weather, our mood, health and sickness, an incidental encounter with a voice from the past, or the outbreak of wars.
Once something has gone wrong, we can find a thousand reasons for it, depending on our imaginative creativity. There are always explanations: “I’m sick today because yesterday I didn’t dress warmly when I got out of the shower.” This coach can’t take decisions in the critical moments, which is why we’re losing. But at the end of the day, these are only excuses.
The wisdom of Kabbalah studies the source of all phenomena. Rather than treating reality as a collection of incidents, it describes the events in this world according to the absolute laws of nature, laws that are hidden from an ordinary person.
An example of such an absolute force is gravity. If we stand on a chair and jump to the floor, that might be nice. But if we jump off the third floor of a building, it’ll probably prove tragic. In this example, the mistake and its consequence are immediate; hence, we can link the result directly to its cause: “I’m in pain because I (unwisely) jumped off the third floor.”
However, if we imagine that there is a delay between the jump and the resulting pain, we will be able to understand what Kabbalah is talking about. Kabbalah sees the cause and its consequences, while we feel only the consequences without understanding their causes.
Gravity is a law. It cannot be “detoured” and/or lied to. At most, we can study it and conduct ourselves accordingly. But if we did not know it and did not see the connection between gravity and its consequences, how would we be able to avoid the next fall?
Kabbalists answer this question very clearly: not knowing the law does not excuse you from punishment. You cannot jump off the building and say, “Oops, sorry, ah… I didn’t think…” The laws that Kabbalah speaks of are just as rigid, and if you want to enjoy life and fully realize it, you must know them.
The Law of Root and Branch
The first law that we will know is called “The Law of Root and Branch.” This law determines that everything happening in the material world is a replication of events taking place in a higher world. Kabbalists tell us about a higher world that is presently hidden from our senses, but which for them is very concrete. In fact, it is so concrete that they feel and treat that other world as the world of the reasons for everything that happens in our world. They call the world they see, “The world of reasons” or “the root world,” and refer to our world as “the world of consequences” or “the world of branches.”
Everything we think, feel, imagine, see and hear has been predetermined in a higher world. Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, a.k.a Baal HaSulam (Owner of the Ladder) for his Sulam (Ladder) commentary on The Book of Zohar, describes it in the following manner (in his article The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah):
There is no element of reality or of an event in reality such as which you do not find in the Upper World, as similar as two drops in a pond. They are called ‘root and branch,’ indicating that the element in the lower world is considered a branch compared to its sample template in the Upper World, which is the root of the element in the lower world, since that element in the lower world has been imprinted and formed from there.
So What do We Do about It?
Kabbalists provide a way for us to interfere in the system and change our fate. The change begins by first learning how the system works: If, in my present state, I am unable to change a thing, there is another place where I can change my fate and determine my future. It is imperative that I will know what it is so that I will not waste my time in vain attempts at happiness, as I have been doing thus far. It is also important so that I will begin to look for the way to the place where it is actually possible to control the system. If there is anyone in the world who’s already learned how to control the system of laws, then you and I and everybody can, too.