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Internality and Externality

An excerpt from the Introduction to the Zohar
(Baal HaSulam, items 66-71)

66) Bear in mind, that everything has internality and externality. Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is generally considered the internality of the world, and the seventy nations are considered its externality. Within Israel also, there is internality, which are the wholehearted worshipers of the Lord, and externality, who do not devote themselves entirely to the work of God. And among the nations of the world as well there are internal parts, which are the Righteous of the Nations, and an external part, which are the rude and the destructive among them.

And also within the worshipers of the Lord that are within Israel, there is internality, which are those who are endowed with the comprehension of the soul of the internality of the Torah and its secrets, and externality, which are those who merely observe the actual part of the Torah. And in every man from Israel there is internality, which is the Israel within him, being the point in the heart, and externality, which is the Nations of the World within him, being the body itself. But even the Nations of the World within him are regarded proselytes, because by cleaving to his internality, they become like proselytes from the Nations of the World, who cleave to the whole of Israel

67) When a man from Israel enhances and dignifies his internality, which is the Israel in him, over his externality, being the Nations of the World in him, meaning that he dedicates the majority of his time and efforts to enhance and exalt his internality, for the good of his soul, and a minor effort, the mere necessity, to sustain his Nations of the World, meaning his bodily needs, as it says (Avot 1) - “make your Torah permanent and your labor transient,” by that he makes - in the internality and externality of the world - the Sons of Israel soar upwards and the Nations of the World, which are the general externality, recognize and acknowledge the value of the Sons of Israel.

And if, God forbid, the contrary occurs, that a man from Israel enhances and regards his externality, which is the Nations of the World in him, higher than the Israel in him - as it says (Deuteronomy 28) “The stranger that is in the midst of thee,” the externality in him will soar upwards, and you, that is the internality, the Israel in you, will plunge deep down. That causes the externality of the world in general, which are the Nations of the World, to soar ever higher and overcome Israel, degrading them to the ground, and the Sons of Israel, the internality of the world, to plunge, God forbid, deep down.

68) Do not wonder, that a single person will trigger with his action, a descent or an ascent to the whole world. For it is an unbending law, that the general and the particular are as equal as two drops in a pond. And all that is customary in the general is customary in the particular as well. Moreover, the particulars compose everything that is in the general. For the general cannot come to be, but after the particulars have been revealed, according to the quantity and quality of the particulars. Evidently, the act of a particular, according to its value, raises or declines the whole. That will clarify the words of the Zohar, that through the study of the Zohar and the Wisdom of Truth, they will be redeemed from exile, into complete deliverance. But what is really the connection between the study of the Zohar and the deliverance of Israel from amongst the nations?

69) It’s been thoroughly clarified, that the Torah too has its internality and its externality, as does the whole world. Therefore, he who delves in the Torah also has those two degrees. And upon increasing his toil in the internality of the Torah and its secrets, to that extent he makes the virtue of the internality of the world, which is Israel; rise ever higher over the externality of it, meaning the Nations of the World. And all the nations will recognize and admit to the ascendancy of Israel over them, until the words - “And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall posses them in the land of the Lord (Isaiah 14, 2)” “Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and set up my standard to the peoples: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried on their shoulders (Isaiah 49, 22)” - finally come true.

But if, God forbid, the contrary occurs, that the man from Israel degrades the virtue of the internality of the Torah and its secrets, dealing with the customs of our souls and their degrees, and also in the part of the reasoning of the mitzvoth (precepts), with regard to the virtue of the externality of the Torah, that deals solely with the practical part alone, and even if he dedicates some time to the internality of the Torah, but just a little of his time, when it is neither night nor day, as though it were, God forbid, redundant, by that he causes degradation and decline of the internality of the world, which are the Sons of Israel, and enhances the domination of the externality of the world - meaning the Nations of the World - over them, and they shall humiliate and disgrace the Sons of Israel, and regard Israel as redundant, as though the world has not a need for, God forbid.

And furthermore, by that they make even the externality of the world overcome its internality. For the worst of the Nations of the World, which destruct and damage it, mount higher over the internality of them, which are the Nations of the World, and then they cause the ruin and the heinous slaughter our generation witnessed, may God protect us from now on.

Thus you see that the redemption of Israel and indeed its rise depends upon the study of the Zohar and the internality of the Torah. And vise versa, all the ruin and decline of the Sons of Israel, is a result of their abandoning of the internality of the Torah, degrading it and turning it to something seemingly redundant, God forbid.

70) The correction of the Zohar says (correction 40): “Awaken and rise for the Divine Presence, for your heart is empty, without the wisdom to know and to attain it, although it is within you.” And the secret of it is, as it says: that a voice pounds within the heart of each and every one of Israel, to pray for the rising of the Divine Presence, which is the assembly of the souls of Israel. But the Divine Presence says, I have no strength to pick myself up from the dust, for all the flesh is but hay. They are all like hay eating beasts. Meaning that they perform the precepts mindlessly, just like beasts, and all its grace is as the flower of the field, all the good deeds they do, it is for them they do it.

That means that in the good deeds that they perform, they do not mean to please their maker, but only to please themselves. And even the best of them, who have dedicated all their time to the Torah, did not do it, but for the benefit of their own body, lacking the desired aim, to please their maker.

It is said about the generation of that time: “a spirit leaves so as never to return, that is the spirit of the Messiah, the one who should deliver Israel from exile and from trouble to complete redemption, to fulfill the words: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord. That spirit left and alights not in the world.”

Alas, these people, who make the spirit of Messiah vanish from the world, so as never to return, make the Torah dry, without the moist of mind and knowledge, for they confine themselves to the practical part of the Torah, and do not wish to try and understand the wisdom of the Kabbalah, to know and educate themselves in the secrets and the reason behind the Torah and the precepts. Alas, they cause by their deeds the poverty, the ruin and the robbery, the looting, the killings and destruction in the world.

71) And the reason for that is, as we’ve said, that since all those who delve in the Torah, depreciate their own internality, and the Torah’s internality, leaving it as though it were redundant in the world, and studying it only at a time that is neither day nor night. And they are like blind men searching the wall, causing by that the proliferation of their own externality, meaning the benefit of their own body, and they regard the externality of the Torah as higher than its internality - thus causing the expansion of each external aspect in the world over its internal parts, each according to its own essence.

Because the externality of the whole of Israel, meaning the Nations of the World among them, intensifies and revokes the internality of the whole of Israel, which are the Greats of the Torah. And the externality within the Nations of the World too, which are the destructors among them, intensifies and revokes the internality among them, which are the Righteous of the World. And the externality of the whole world, being the Nations of the World, intensifies and revokes the Sons of Israel, which are the internality of it.

In such a generation, all destructors of the Nations of the World raise their heads and wish primarily to destroy and kill the Sons of Israel, as it says: (Yebamot 63) “No calamity comes to the world but for Israel,” as it says in the above corrections, that they cause poverty and ruin and robbery and killings in the whole world.

And since, through our many faults, we’ve witnessed the aforesaid in the corrections, and not only that, but the calamity struck at the very best of us, as it says: (Baba Kama 60) “And it does not start, but from the righteous.” And of all the glory Israel had had in the countries of Poland and Lithuania etc. there remains but the remnants in our holy land. Now it is upon us relics, to correct that dreadful wrong. And each of us remainders, will take upon himself, heart and soul, to intensify from this day forth, the internality of the Torah, and give it its worthy place, above the externality of the Torah.

Then, each will be awarded with the intensification of his own internality, meaning the Israel in him, which is the needs of the soul over the aspect of his own externality, being the Nations of the World in him, which are the needs of the body. And that force will come to the whole of the people of Israel, until the peoples of the world within us recognize the virtue of the Greats of Israel over them, and listen and obey them. And also the internality of the Nations of the World, which are the Righteous of the World, will overcome their externality and subdue them, which are the destructors. And the internality of the world too, which are Israel, shall rise with all the praise and virtue, over the externality of the world, which are the nations. Then, all the Nations of the World will recognize and admit to the ascendancy of Israel over them.

And they shall carry out the words: "And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall posses them in the land of the Lord" (Isaiah 14, 2). And also: "and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried on their shoulders" (Isaiah 49, 22). And that is as the Zohar says: "That through this composition, which is the book of Zohar, they will be freed from exile with mercy" (Nasah 124). Amen, may it be so.

Question: How can one identify in one’s own people, or in the world around, which parts are internal and which are external?

Answer: The nations of the world in man are attributes, desires (vessels) that are forbidden for use until the end of correction. But work is permitted with desires called “Israel.” Israel are vessels or attributes characterized by their desire to give, to bestow. The Gentiles are the vessels with the egoistic desires that want only to receive. After the correction of all of man’s attributes, all his vessels, both ‘Israel’ and the ‘Gentiles’ will come together and unite, and man will feel the Creator completely. But until the attainment of that situation, the correction lies on the shoulders of the corporeal people of Israel, the representative of the spiritual Israel in this world. Israel should correct themselves before anyone else. Thus, to the extent that we correct ourselves, we will also promote the nations of the world toward their own correction.

Question: How do you define ‘internal’ and ‘external’?

Answer: It depends on what a person does and what he studies. If he is occupied with improving his desires in order to satisfy them with all sorts of pleasures, then he is called a Gentile. If a person wants to improve his attributes in order to be like the Creator, then he is called a Jew, or Israel, from the Hebrew words Yashar El (straight to God).

A person is born with only a desire to please himself. But he should obtain the opposite, i.e. the desire to resemble the attributes of the Creator. We do not build this desire, which is the complete opposite to the natural desire, from a neutral point, but from the complete opposite desire. It grows on top of that initial egoistic desire we are born with.

Man’s natural need to satisfy himself is a necessary foundation and probably the most beneficial for the attainment of the goal. To be precise, it is the desire to attain it yourself, to take an active part and continue to receive, but in a different sense, in the sense that you want to do it, only if by that you delight the giver. At the end of the equalizing process, called the End of Correction, the vessel-soul, named Malchut of the Infinite, wants only to attain adhesion with the Creator and thus equalize with the power of the Creator to give.

Because of that a person must go through these situations that created in him the real desire to give, the actual vessel for the upper light, and the need to resemble the attributes of the Creator. That law controls everyone in the level of still, vegetative, animate and speaking – man’s degree.

The more developed a creature is, the more intensely he feels the force that compels him to resemble the Creator. That is why man suffers more than all creations. And among the various degrees of man, the people of Israel suffer most. And within Israel, the ones in the innermost degree, because the power that pulls us toward it, begins its extension from the innermost point in creation, from the closest desires to the attributes of bestowal, of giving. As the light grows farther from the center, also called the End of Correction, its affect weakens as it reaches the outer layers.

The light of correction shines from the center of creation. The response of the vessel to the light depends on the state of the vessel. If the corrections are performed willingly, it is a sign that a person is on the ‘Path of Torah.” If they are performed coercively, against the will of the Creator and the will of the creature, the pains do not diminish, but increase and intensify in order to make man hate the source of the pain, i.e. his own evil inclination.

Because man is only the desire to enjoy, the only way to influence him is to make him feel a need, a deficit, the sensation of the absence of something desired for the egoism, which we call pain.

Question: Why does the inner vessel, which more corrected, feel greater pain, isn’t it less egoistic then the outer vessel?

Answer: The reason is that the inner vessel is closer to correction and the outer vessel is farther from it. In any case, both vessels are still not corrected. But the desire of the inner vessel, i.e. Israel is less egoistic, which is why Israel is a small nation.

The vessels of the gentiles are far greater than those of Israel. Despite that, the rest of the nations feel less desire than Israel, because their vessels are still not fully apparent. The vessel only becomes apparent to the point that it can be corrected. But when the desire does appear in them, they immediately begin to hate Israel. Even nations that never had any contact with Israel begin to hate us, because the gentiles must make Israel be concerned with corrections. Only when the degree of Israel is corrected in the world will it be possible to add the ‘nations of the world’ to the correction, and thus produce the collective and complete correction.

This is the special connection between Israel and the nations of the world. Israel must be careful from the nations of the world, because when Israel does not perform the necessary corrections, the nations become eager to destroy it. In fact, Israel’s task in the world is to fill up the vessels of the nations of the world, and there is no need for such vessels if they do not carry out their task.

That is why Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, Baal HaSulam, warns that we, the people of Israel, must hurry and start doing what we’ve been assigned to do. That assignment can only be done through the wisdom of Kabbalah, for Kabbalah is the method for bringing every thing to its correction. There is no other method and this method is therefore unavoidable.

The correction begins with the finest souls, the least egoistic ones, which can be corrected faster, which are Israel. The correction is man’s alone. It relates to his individual soul, and no other person is of consequence here. A person comes to this world for this one purpose, i.e. to correct his soul. That is the only thing he should concern himself with, for that he is born, and all other concerns are of secondary importance.

Question: If the nation of Israel is concerned with corrections, will the hatred increase toward it, or decrease?

Answer: If every one from Israel is concerned with facing his inner enemies, the external enemies will disappear. It is the inside that creates the outside.

The outside depends entirely on the inside, just as the lower one (lower degree) depends on its upper one (upper degree). The lower degree is created by the upper one and receives its sustenance from it. By the same token, the behavior of the nations of the world is a consequence of our own behavior.

Change the spirit within you and you will see how things outside you change. This is how you determine your future events. Doesn’t this ability obligate us?

Question: What power or influence should Kabbalists activate in order to bring the world to the good path of correction, or at least make the people of Israel change its attitude to its mission?

Answer: The degree of still should follow the majority. We must take into consideration what the public can handle. That should set the standard for the demands of the public and the limits of the possible influence on it. The collective has its own natural limits; it keeps it precepts and conducts.

But in spirituality you must follow the individual. In spiritual evolution it is the individual who decides, through his soul, what to do and how. He determines the connection between himself and the Creator, and his approach to the other parts of life. We must awaken ourselves, not only to change the physical state of the world, to bring peace and happiness, but act toward the spiritual goal in order to bring every thing to the end of its correction.

Question: Should every one advance to the end of correction by himself, according the root of his soul, or should the entire nation be involved in that?

Answer: According to what we learn from the writings of Baal HaSulam, masses of people should partake in that. He speaks of a process of mass-correction, of many souls that should participate in the correction. It is not a coincidence that two hundred years ago, the Creator divided the Israeli nation to religious and secular, where one part continues to observe Torah and Mitzvot because it is brought up this way, and another becomes liberated from it. Each part has its own task. Every thing comes down from above, from the upper guidance. Those two parts must coexist. There would be nothing left of the secular section if the religious hadn’t kept tradition.

Question: Will the obstructions increase as Israel advances in the correction, as these are not obstructions, but help that comes in the form of obstructions?

Answer: The ups and downs happen only to individuals, only inside those souls that experience their individual process of correction. The connection with the Creator is a private one. One’s only freedom of choice is in choosing his group, the environment from which he absorbs his way in life, but it is still each person’s individual choice.

Generally speaking, corrected souls tend to add souls - desires that haven’t been corrected - to them, but only to the extent that it can promote the general end of correction. It is called “An illumination for the gentiles.” Israel adds the ‘gentiles’ to themselves and together they rise with a collective bonding called Hitkalelut (inclusion, mixture).

In any case, one’s private spiritual progress is different than that of the collective. For the individual, the correction is performed through personal ascents and descents, whereas for the collective, it is done by connecting with the individual. The nations of the world feel the deficit in their progress, they feel dependent on Israel, but they only need Israel for the first corrections. Afterwards, they will rely on themselves for correction.

The most important thing about the study is what it is done for. One can study Kabbalah for luck, to soothe oneself, and attain confidence and peace of mind. But one can study because one feels that one simply must correct one’s ‘vessels’, correct the situation. It is a tremendous difference in approach. In this approach, one cannot go alone; one must have the right spiritual guidance.

In his book Pri Hacham (Fruit of Wisdom) page 63, Baal HaSulam writes that everyone must attain the degree of Moses; every one must return to the root of his soul. This is demanded of every person. Today, we are in a situation that we must perform active corrections in our society. In the past, only special souls attained correction. They were hidden Kabbalists, but the correction was not necessary for all the nations of the world.

Baal HaSulam writes that while the people of Israel did not return to its land, it had no commitment to match itself to this land. The nations of Israel was brought back to the land of Israel precisely so that it would correct itself, to attain the spiritual degree called the Land of Israel.

Once the Creator has brought us back to this land, willingly or unwillingly, we, the entire nation, must match ourselves to the spiritual attributes of this land. While we are physically on the soil of the Land of Israel, we must also obtain the inner degree, the spiritual Land of Israel. Otherwise, we have no right to live in the Land of Israel; the inner and outer degrees will mismatch and the balance broken.

We were in that situation once before, but every time the people of Israel was no longer equal to the spiritual people of Israel, meaning a people that thrives solely on the Land of Israel (i.e. the pure desire for the Creator) we were expelled from our land. Now we have returned, the land of Israel was given to us from above, but we still haven’t received it, we are not yet worthy of it.

If we do not receive it willingly, we will not be expelled as we have been in the past, but this land will force us to correct and match its spiritual degree through horrible torments.

Today, the task of Kabbalists is to try and circulate the necessity for correction to the entire Israeli nation, in any way possible; to create a method that fits everyone, publish books and qualify teachers. There is a lot of work to be done, but even a single thought about correction, even a shred of a thought creates immense positive changes in the country and prevents terrible pains.

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