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Four Degrees in the Development of the Desire

Preface to the book “Panim Meirot Umasbirot”

The Creator created the desire. He created nothing Other than the will to receive. In terms of Kabbalah it is called “will to receive”, and it means to receive pleasure.

Therefore, all that exists is the Creator and the will to enjoy that which He created. But enjoy what? The Creator Himself! The sensation of the Creator in creations is synonymous to the sensation of pleasure. Kabbalah calls that pleasure - “light”. the will to receive is called - “vessel”. Thus, there are the Creator and the creature, the will to receive and the pleasure, the light and the vessel.

The spiritual aspiration to receive the light in our world can be divided to four degrees: still, vegetative, animate and speaking (man). The intensity and the level of the will to receive light changes from one degree to the next.

The lowest power is in the degree of still. The desire is so small in that degree, that no motion is initiated. Creation still feels something, even at this level, because if it is created, then there is a will to receive in it, but it is not expressed in any way, because the power of that desire is very low.

Positive and negative results of the will to receive pleasure and egoism, coincide with the power of spiritual aspiration, which is why a still object can cause no harm, or benefit anybody or anything else, because it is motionless.

In the vegetative level the will to receive light is more developed, it has a stronger desire than that of the still. Because of that it has the ability to grow. Compared to still, the vegetative can already draw the good and extractthe bad, it is therefore capable of development.

There is a fixed cycle in plants. The vegetative lives and dies, it is dependent on its environment a lot more than a still object. It feels the changes between day and night. It is a completely different form of life compared to the still, and all those changes occur solely because of the increase in the power of the desire to receive the light.

In the animate degree, the power of the will to receive is stronger still. What is added in the animate compared to plants? Each animal feels its environment individually, and can approach the good and stay away from the bad. The intensity of the feeling of harm and benefit in all the plants put together, in addition to the benefit and harm that they might cause, are parallel to the power of will of one body in the animate degree.

An animal moves from place to place, it has sensations and personal feelings, it has its own character. Each has its own individual character. Because the desire to receive the light is stronger in animals than in plants, they have unique, personal characteristics. However, animals are still limited in their sense of time: they can only feel themselves and are incapable of feeling others, the past, or have any interest in the future.

The next degree – speaking – is man. It is comprised of two components: mind and heart (emotions). The two factors help one another develop, which is why man’s strength is not limited by space or time.

What cannot be perceived with one component, can be comprehended by the other. For example: I cannot feel events that happened a thousand years ago, but I can analyze and understand these events with my mind and make up for the deficit to the point that I can feel it. The ability to think helps the emotions and the senses.

There can also be an opposite situation: I feel something. How can that sensation affect me, for better or for worse? I add my thinking ability to my feelings and thus analyze the situation. Emotions and thoughts alike expand my understanding of the space and time factors, I no longer feel bounded, I can understand another human being, and experience events I have not experienced through his feelings. Thanks to this ability, man is capable of rising above time and space.

A person can be at any level of development in the spiritual sense: still, vegetative, and animate, all at once. But a person who discovers the “point in the heart” and begins to develop it until it becomes ten sefirot, until it becomes a vessel in which man perceives the revelation of the Creator. Such a person is called a “Kabbalist” and he contains within him all those who are at the degree of speaking, from all times and nations, since the first generation through the last of them.

That pyramid reflects the proportion between the five forms of creation that exist in reality: still, vegetative, animate, and man in our world, the degree of speaking, when each individual item of a higher degree rises higher than all of creation in the lower degree put together.

This is uniquely expressed in our desires:

A single desire in the degree of vegetative, can bring as much harm or good as all of the desires in the degree of still in the universe.

A single desire in the degree of animate, can bring as much harm or good as all of the desires in the degree of vegetative in the universe.

A single desire in the degree of speaking, can bring as much harm or good as all of the desires in the degree of animate in the universe.

If the point in the heart, the root of the soul, appears in each and everyone of us, and it begins to develop it to the proportion of a spiritual vessel, its power will be equal to the power of all the people at all places and all times. That is the pyramid! But the higher the object, the fewer of them there are, and the more unique they become, and prevalent in creation.

We distinguish five degrees in the desire that the Creator created, which are marked as (the next section refers to the meaning of the Hebrew letters in the name of the Creator – י-ה-ו-ה):

The tip of the Yod:


The letter Yod:


The letter Hey:


The letter Vav:


The letter Hey:


It is a symbol of the desire that the Creator created, a symbol of creation. The desire is comprised of the five parts that are symbolized by the five symbols, letters. And we do not say that it is the name of creation, but the name of the Creator because the desire is filled with light, with the sensation of the Creator. The only thing that the creation can feel is the Creator, nothing else.

That is why the situation of creation is called by the name of the Creator, meaning the world that creation feels, its sensation of self – the collective sensation of creation is an expression of the aim of the Creator, as expressed in creation. That is why that vessel is named after the Creator. Only four letters are spelt, besides the tip of the Yod (י) we call those letters Yod - Hey - Vav - Hey (י-ה-ו-ה).

To summarize, this is the structure of creation:


The tip of the Yod – a desire that is as yet unfelt.


Yod – corresponds to the degree of still.


The first Hey - corresponds to the degree of vegetative.


Vav - corresponds to the degree of animate.


The last Hey - corresponds to the degree of speaking.

Each degree of the desire – still, vegetative, animate and speaking – is divided into sublevels of - still, vegetative, animate and speaking. That means that even in the degree of still there is a division to levels - still, vegetative, animate and speaking.

Our purpose is to understand what in fact is man, what it stands for. A single plant stands above all of the still nature, a single animal stands above all the plantation and a single human stands above all the animals. But what does “above” mean? It means that if man corrects himself, his spiritual development brings him above any other inferior form of creation.

That is why it is said that everything is inside man. And in his spiritual ascent, man can raise all the worlds, and then all the worlds serve that person. That is why if a person performs correction, the whole of creation rises respectively. That is why only man has to correct himself.

But what does correction mean? It is a correction of our attitude, our attainment of the Creator. If He gave us the desire and the powers for it. He who’s received that desire is called “man”. Below that degree there is the “speaking”, the animals, the plants, the still within man in our world.

People are those who have to correct the whole of nature, because man has a soul – the most evolved spiritual desire. A person who discovers the point in the heart in this world, which forms the embryo of his soul, and begins to develop it, becomes the most significant and influential both in the corporeal and spiritual worlds. He receives spiritual forces that enable him to discover and unite with the Creator, to become like Him. All four degrees of creation exist inside man.

Naturally, everything is based on the degree of still (dust/earth). The existence of that spiritual degree is justified because all the levels, the plants, the animals and man, rely on earth for their sustenance. On the one hand, the earth in and of itself is an insignificant factor, but then again, no form of life can exist without it.

The same can be said of the masses in the degree of still: they have three possible directions of development. Within the masses there is a possibility for the creation of more advanced forms for desire, which Kabbalah refers to as: “rich”, “rulers” and “wise”, corresponding to our desires for wealth, power and knowledge that evolve from the degree of still.

At the conclusion of man’s spiritual development in one desire, there evolves a more mature desire, under the influence of the three desires: “lust”, “envy” and the pursuit of honor.

Thanks to those desires man develops spiritually and rises to higher degrees, until he reaches the last – perfection. To summarize: because of the desire in the first degree, the attribute of lust that is given to man, separates the “rich” from the masses. It is a degree that is characterized by a much stronger desire than that of the masses. That spiritual degree corresponds to the vegetative degree in the universe.

Afterwards, when a person receives the attribute of envy, the rulers are separated from the masses. It is a second degree, and it corresponds to the animate degree in nature.

The next desire in line, “pursuit of honor”, exists only in humans. A person who wants to be honored needs to be given that honor from others. That is an altogether different degree of existence. He needs other people. His ambition is already developed to the degree where it is no longer enough to control something inanimate. He must also control other people, in order for other people to satisfy his desire for pleasure. He aspires to be in your heart. That is called “honor”.

The “envy” helps to separate the “wise” from the masses. People who have a great desire and are motivated by jealousy acquire knowledge and wisdom. That degree corresponds to the degree of “speaking” in the structure of the universe.

Their actions are not limited by time or space. Man is sometimes so intensely jealous of someone who had died a long time ago, that it is as though that person were still alive today. Time cannot influence that sensation. Man is jealous of another not only because he has something that I do not, but also if they both have the same thing, meaning man aspires not only to receive everything that the other has (the ambition and the attribute of the other), but also to ruin the other’s aspiration, so that he will have nothing.

If, for example, I am in the spiritual degree of “speaking”, my ambition is so strong that I want to receive everything that others have, and more, I want them to have nothing, and thus I will be able to intensify my ambition indefinitely – to want everything the others have, meaning that I alone will equalize with the whole of mankind. We are all like that.

This attribute is only characteristic of man. People who are not in the degree of “speaking”, cannot intensify their desire, they only chase honor or greed. They need certainty in the satisfaction of their needs, but only their own. If it were not for envy, man would be unable to infinitely intensify his will to receive.

However, such people are ultimately left helpless, incurable, because their desire is not strong enough. That is why they mix all three directions, and because their desires are scattered among those three directions, it is broken into little pieces, and there is no focused aspiration that will enable the attainment of something concrete. A person constantly changes his direction, searches for something else, squanders his energy.

It is like a little child who wants everything he sees. Even if a person has a strong desire, but it keeps shifting between wealth, honor, power and knowledge, he will ultimately be left empty-handed. People in the spiritual degree of still, are aware of their domestic needs, their needs for sex, food, leisure, television. Their whole life is like one day.

When a person begins to want wealth, he is willing to work day in and day out, just to make more and more money. He is no longer interested in anything else. The same happens to a person who wants honor or power: he wants to be elected to the parliament, to become the next president, everything else is second to that. There is no time for holidays, family, pleasure, nothing exists but the overwhelming desire for power and control.

The problem of those who come to the degree of envy, is that they look at others and all that they have, and want to have it all at once. This is why they cannot attain anything. But along with that, they are capable of taking the desires of other people, to the extent that they develop such a strong desire, as strong as the desire of the whole world put together, and although that desire is not aimed nearly in the right direction, it still has great power.

The negative and positive powers have the same power, therefore, because the power of one person is more than the power of the whole world of the animals, at all times, past, present and future, he can cause more damage than all animals put together, and to that degree, he can also do good.

That is why before a person is ready for spiritual ascent, meaning before he is capable of using his powers to do only good, he needs a spiritual handicap.

That means that in the meantime he cannot be envious of the “human” degree, which is determined according to the degree of one’s wisdom and knowledge, meaning he cannot be given knowledge by which he can harm others, and take what they have. He cannot be given powers and abilities beyond what he’s already got, because his desires are unbalanced by wisdom and moral degree.

That is why the first sages hid their knowledge from the masses, for fear that unworthy students would misuse the knowledge they had been given, and turn the spiritual energy to satisfy their beastly desires and bring about the destruction of the world.

Wisdom has to be a supplemental asset, a spiritual force that a person has in addition to the natural forces, and according to his spiritual and moral degree. Otherwise it will only cause harm. Despite their unlimited abilities, they lived humbly, in poverty, and refused any kind of material pleasures but for the sake of spiritual attainment.

But over time the morality declined; sages wanted to be rich as well, and gain control. As a result, their moral fiber deteriorated to the level of the masses, the protective walls around the wisdom was breached and there began to be misuse of it, for the satisfaction of man’s beastly needs, which prevails even to this day.

If there weren’t the scientific development in the world, what would it look like? We might imagine that there was indeed some development in the spiritual values and spirituality, although it is only an assessment that we could continue to develop according to the spiritual ascent.

But if progress were to match the moral level, we would still be today in the same situation people were two thousand years ago, in accordance with the measure of our correction. From this we should learn that everything that happens beyond it is in fact, corruption, corruption for the sake of correction.

We are not meant to disconnect ourselves from everything and start living the way our fathers lived two thousand years ago, but we must understand that any developmental process is an unbalanced process; the positive and negative forces in society as well as in man are unbalanced. It doesn’t matter how much we want to improve our lives, to make it easy and pleasant, it is still possible only through spiritual efforts.

That is why a person who aspires for spiritual progress finally ends up wanting to live a simple life, humble, he expects nothing of the wonders of the modern world and looks at the products of progress around him as something superfluous.

The advancement of humanity through science is a development in a path of pain. Humanity will continue to evolve until it discovers that that road leads nowhere. We have to detach ourselves from the last two thousand years of progress and start looking for another way. It turns out that after two thousand years, mankind finds that we haven’t really evolved in all that time, but rather moved in the opposite direction. If we were to invest our efforts in the spiritual, we would come to much more positive results!

Reality exists for one purpose only – for man to perform a correction through the wisdom of Kabbalah. Kabbalah has been barred from the masses until today, but in the last generation, before the coming of the Messiah the wisdom of Kabbalah should become open to all, even to the youngest.

If everyone should begin to study Kabbalah, does that mean that its spiritual degree must be high enough for that purpose? But our sages said that in that generation people will be rude and insolent and will not want to understand the wisdom of Kabbalah. So how is that possible? And why is it that today it is permitted to reveal the wisdom of Kabbalah to everyone?

It is written that “The face of the generation will be as the face of a dog”. It will have no interest in the wisdom of Kabbalah, it will want to receive only for itself. That is why there is no fear that unworthy students will come to learn, because no one will want that knowledge. The wisdom of Kabbalah says that before you can receive the attributes of the Creator, you have to correct your nature from an aim to receive, to an aim to bestow, and only then will you be able to attain the wisdom of Kabbalah. That is why no test is needed to see if a student is worthy.

The desires have increased so much in all of us, that we are no longer interested in anything but material reward, and only those who aspire for the attainment and revelation of spirituality will want to attain the wisdom of Kabbalah, whereas all the others will mess with it, trying to sell it for profit.

Everyone will get their chance to start studying, but people will be able to comprehend the Creator only to the extent of their spiritual readiness and the extent of their spiritual purity. Only a person who will understand that the wisdom of Kabbalah doesn’t bring any material gain, but simply gives one a chance to render pleasure back to the Creator, to give Him contentment, will be able to advance spiritually.

If man has that strong desire (all the other desires are still present, but at a completely different ratio), he will begin to study the wisdom of Kabbalah. Other people will simply not want it. But from that we learn how much everything depends on a person’s desires, precisely on what a person wants to achieve.

The book is opened to a person, he begins to study. After some time he can see whether or not he is ready for it. Man’s desire is the factor that determines where he will be and what he will do. Only his inner point can tell him exactly at which spiritual degree he is. He gradually begins to understand that besides unification with the Creator, he will get nothing! No worldly pleasure, no wealth, or honor, or any kind of power. That is why only those who are aware of that fact, and aspire only for the revelation and the attainment of the inner spiritual content endure.

In the course of the spiritual advancement fewer and fewer people remain. The more a group draws near the goal, the choice becomes tougher, and only the truly worthy are left. The process of the study itself, renders power and winnows the students.

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