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Michael Laitman, PhD

Chapter 3.2 – What Does Kabbalah Deal With?

Scientists have discovered that plants react differently when different people approach them. For example, if a certain person harms a certain plant, the plant will remember it, and if that person approaches it, the plant will react with intensive internal "waves." Fish and animals also feel others in various ways. Much like plants, when the Creator is revealed to us, we can feel our surroundings, feel the "other." That revelation occurs in the same senses in which we feel other people as ordinary people. That external sensation is absent in the inanimate nature, and exists only a little in plants.

The science of Kabbalah deals with man’s revelation of the Creator. The Creator is outside us, as is everything that is around us. He is external, alien. He is even farther and more concealed than everything we see around us. He is behind our reality.

Our ability to feel our surroundings, as well as our other abilities and properties, depends on the measurement of egoism in every creature. It is that property, the measurement of the desire for pleasure, that develops the needs that each creature must satisfy and the creature's properties and abilities.

Thus, all the properties in the animate nature, such as the ability to move and understand, exceed the abilities of inanimate nature. The same ratio exists between the animate and the human nature. The least egoism can be found in inanimate nature. It only appears in statistic, physical laws that will preserve the properties.

Such a low level of egoism creates only minimal needs that do not require internal changes, which would express vitality and create the need for movement.

Corals are an intermediary state between the still and the vegetative because it has a greater amount of egoism, which renders it an attribute of growth.

Greater egoism begets the vegetative nature and the need to change, swallow and defecate, grow, react to external conditions, and even develop a memory. An even greater egoism produces many more types of living organisms, which are equipped with an ability to learn, remember, adapt, and move about freely, depending on their degree of egoism.

The characteristics of every species are a direct consequence of the amount of their egoistic desire. That is the only factor that emanates from the appearance of this or that property or ability. Everything that characterizes any object stems from a single origin: its amount of egoism.

Thus, the ability of an object to feel outside itself exists even more intensively in mankind, for its goal is to sense the Creator. But you can also say the opposite: because people can feel outside themselves, we can conclude that the purpose of the creation of mankind is to be in contact with the Creator.

However, in addition to this property, it is vitally important that we use our minds to enhance our sensitivity to others many times over. Through this sensitivity, we become capable of feeling the joy and agony of others like us.

The mind helps us develop our ability to sense others more clearly. It confirms the idea that man is the only creature for whom the revelation of the Creator has been prepared. To perceive the Creator, one must develop a full capacity to feel the surrounding environment the way it really is. One must be able to feel outside oneself, meaning regardless of one's personal egoistic interests.

We are constantly faced with our inability to understand one another. Our egoistic interests do not allow us to feel outside ourselves. They do not let us come close to nature and to those who are like us, but rather drive us farther away from each other. Therefore, if we want to make the most of our lives here, we must develop our ability to sense those who are like us and be able to understand them.

However, if we want to sense the Creator, we must develop more than just the ability to sense those who are like us, but also our own minds. Our enhanced intellectual ability will enable us to intensify that sensation many times over, relate to people around us impartially, and even ignore our egoism altogether in our attitudes to others.

With this perception, we can feel the Creator as much as we can feel others instead of ourselves. The more we can feel compared to those still in vegetative and animate degrees, the harder it will be for us to describe the intense emotions we feel, to the point that is will become virtually impossible.

Moses independently developed the ability to feel "outside himself." It was that ability that led him to attain the highest spiritual degree, and it is that ability that enabled him to speak face to face with the Creator.

The purpose of Creation is to be able to sense the Creator, and the way to do it is formulated in the verse, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

The degrees of our evolution, meaning the ability to feel and draw near Him are called "degrees of spiritual growth." Every individual, and the whole of mankind, treads the gradual path leading to the purpose the Creator preordained.

The Creator pushes us along that path by inflicting pain on us, so as to force us to question the origin of the anguish. By examining the origin of the pain, we should eventually understand that the best thing for us is the connection with the Creator, the connection with the strongest, eternal Power that controls our lives. That connection accompanies us in this world and in the next.

Kabbalah should help us become more capable of an objective perception of reality. It must lead mankind to acutely analyze and recognize the correct "good" and "evil" and realize that evil is our very nature. It is our nature that prevents us from seeing "past our own noses." We are compelled to think only with our "gut feeling."

Kabbalah maintains that the Mitzvot (commandments) should be kept as a goal in and of themselves, but that there is a completely different purpose for them. Our sages clearly say that the Creator cares not if we slaughter from the throat or from the back of the neck, meaning He does not care about the simple observing of the laws. That is not what He expects of man and that is not what He gave us the Mitzvot.

Those who turn the means for correction into the end, and choose to settle for it as a way of life, teach others to stay away from Kabbalah, which states that the rules are only a means to an end, while the goal we should strive for is to feel Him through a correct performance of His Will and His Counsel.

Man’s purification is the Torah’s real goal, and the observing of Mitzvot is only a means to attain it. If the performance of Mitzvot is not directed toward this aim, but is out of habit that has become a need, then it will not bear the right fruit.

It is as though a person who operates without this intent in mind simply does not exist! The Zohar writes that a Mitzva without an aim or purpose is like a dead body (a body without a soul). Therefore, one must obtain the desired aim. Only then can one understand why one exists.

The intention to attain the purpose of his existence, to sense the Creator, and to unite with Him must be authentic. It is the only reason for doing anything. Anything one does with this aim in mind is considered a Mitzva.

In other words, if we perform a Mitzva while thinking only of an egoistic purpose, it is as though he did nothing! That is how we should relate to every Mitzva. It is the only approach where the act helps us purify ourselves from our egoism.

It is not enough to learn how to mechanically perform rules. It is a lot more important to learn what will produce the right aim and obtain faith, meaning the sensation of the Creator. That study should precede the mechanical operation of rules. When we acquire the correct intention, then by keeping these statutes, which are in fact the desires of the Creator, we will actually become closer to the Creator.

We must emphasize that Kabbalah does not negate the physical performance of Mitzvot, except when the mechanical performance substitutes the internal. Mechanically performing Mitzvot is only a preparation, and will bear fruit only if one actually acquires the spiritual intention in the act.

Before performing Mitzvot, one should learn anything that will help him to acquire the right aim. That is what Kabbalah books teach and nothing else!

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