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Kabbalah as a Root of All Sciences

The Right Way of Teaching Kabbalah

Until recently, no Kabbalist was able to reveal the way of studying Kabbalah openly, publicly, and explain every word of this science. Only the last Kabbalist of the 20th century, Y. Ashlag, (the Baal HaSulam) could reveal and explain in his works the path to the Purpose of creation that is suitable for all. This is called "The Path of dressing."

The revelation of this path is not the Baal HaSulam's merit; it was caused by the development of our generation and its readiness to be completely corrected. The problem lies in the fact that when a scientist, or even an ordinary person in our world, tells us about something he saw, we can more or less imagine or build some model of what he saw or revealed.

The reason for this is the similarity of our perception and comprehension, the commonality of feelings and ideas about the world and its details. Everything can be likened to something that we have already experienced.

Therefore, we can write books and talk about the most complex things with very simple people so that they will be able to understand (at least, to some extent) what we mean.

However, here we speak about something that a person has never before experienced, likening our world to images and forms that do not exist in it. How can one convey such information? This is practically impossible. But then, as it turns out, the science of Kabbalah is meant only for those who already exist in the Upper World, while there is no way to pass its knowledge to people who live in our world. In fact, some knowledge can and must be passed because without it people in this world will never be able to reach the Upper World.

So what can be done?

Four languages serve as a means of conveying information from the Upper spiritual world to ours. Three of them are metaphorical: the language of the Bible, of narrative and of judicial law. All of them speak of the Upper World's structure and laws. Moreover, they explain what man can do to attain the spiritual sensation. However, these languages are very difficult and can be understood only by those who have already reached the Upper World. Others take it literally as the description of the history and laws of our world.

The fourth language - the language of Kabbalah - is extremely intricate, and although it warns a person against materializing the spiritual by creating false images, it is still very dry and incomprehensible for those in our world who have never experienced the spiritual reality.

The main task of a Kabbalist is to show people the path of the gradual inner revelation of the Upper World and the transformation of their Kelim. By constantly attempting to tune himself (like a device) with increasing precision to the Upper World's perception, a person will eventually pick up the lowest wavelength that is closest to him. Until that happens, he has to follow without deviation the method of learning and working on himself.

This process of tuning is problematic. It could not be realized in past centuries because humankind was not ready for it. The souls were too immature; hence, they were unsuitable for such work.

Tuning to the perception of the spiritual realm means adapting oneself to its quality, matching one's properties with the properties of the Upper World. In the same way a radio receiver attunes its inner frequency to the frequency of an outside wave, a person should try attuning his altruistic property, his spiritual aspiration, until it coincides minimally with the property of the Upper World.

Until recent times, no Kabbalist could describe this method of attainment, man's inner changes and work. No one could write a manual for study by which a person could attract upon himself a maximum of the surrounding Light.

They could do nothing with these two parts of Kabbalah - the inner work and the science of Kabbalah, or what we call "the articles" and the TES (the Baal HaSulam's division) because the souls were not developed sufficiently to realize it all. Only the Baal HaSulam could do it.

He writes, "I deserved to do it not because I am special, but because I live in a generation when this knowledge can be divulged. I am an ordinary Kabbalist, but since I belong to this generation, I am given a unique opportunity to accomplish for it what my great Teachers could not do".

Question: The lower level should attune to the next higher level's frequency. Does this mean that the higher level lowers its frequency for the lower one to be able to perceive it?

Naturally, the higher level lowers itself to the lowest level. From as high as the World of Infinity and through all the worlds, the Creator (or the Upper Light) was gradually adding increasingly more powerful filters in order to approach our lowest state.

In "The Study of the Ten Sefirot" or in "The Preamble to the Science of Kabbalah", we learn that a degradation, a regression of levels of Light, gradually takes place during the descent from the World of Infinity to our world.

There is a barrier (Machsom) between the Upper World and ours. Right above the Machsom is where the Light of minimal quality (i.e., the smallest altruistic property) is located. In case we in our world can somehow become similar (or simply wish to become similar) to this property, it will suffice for us to cross the Machsom, i.e., to receive this property.

We can in no way reach even the most minimal property of bestowal while being in this world. Similarly, wherever we may be on the spiritual ladder between our world and the World of Infinity, we cannot ascend from one level to the next by ourselves. It always refers only to desire. As soon as we feel the desire to relinquish our old form, property, and adopt a superior property of bestowal, it happens to us.

The Creator works on us and we only have to wish this work to be done. Even to wish is beyond our powers. As the Baal HaSulam writes in the article "Freedom of Will", we can do that only with the help of a proper environment.

Although one can use conventional sciences to explain the science of Kabbalah (because all of them are included in Kabbalah), it is best to explain the parameters of the Upper World in accordance with the law of root and branch, of cause and effect.

During the Middle Ages and earlier (from 13th or 14th until 16th or 17th centuries), there was a period when Kabbalists tried to explain the Upper World through ours. It was something like this: "Look, we have five digits. There are five of them because it is similar in the Upper World". In other words, one learns about the Upper realm by analogy with this world.

To study the Upper World from below, one can use all the other branches in this world, including the sciences, arts, human activities and nature. However, this is very inefficient because a person cannot abstract his mind from these images.

Indeed, we have to detach ourselves from the pictures of our world in order to study the Upper World. What do we need it for? Unless we study the Upper World and wish to establish contact with it, we do not attract upon ourselves the Ohr Makif (surrounding Light), and this is the most important thing.

Therefore, it is not important how one studies - from down up or from up down - but to study the Upper World without any connection with ours, while keeping in mind that it is the root of our world. It is cut off from us, but from there we can receive a special energy called the Ohr Makif.

Earlier ways of explaining Kabbalah, when the Upper World was described through our world, created difficulties and the students could hardly draw any Ohr Makif. In our time, when we have such a powerful source of the surrounding Light as the TES (Talmud Eser Sefirot), there is no more need to use the interpretations of the past. Indeed, all the other textbooks on Kabbalah possess very insignificant power in comparison with the TES. Hence, we should use this textbook to draw the Ohr Makif.

The second part of Kabbalah that speaks about man's inner work includes the Baal HaSulam's articles and letters. They constitute the auxiliary material that is intended to create the correct intention during the study of the TES.

We simply study the structure of the Upper World as it was described by the Baal HaSulam.

The Baal HaSulam was the first Kabbalist who based his explanation of Kabbalah on the root-and-branch law and on cause and effect. The use of his method allows the student to understand all the Kabbalistic sources.

By studying the works of the Baal HaSulam, we begin to see what consequences of the Upper reality descend to our world.

Question: Who taught in the language of Pentateuch and when was it?

Many genuine, good books were written by Kabbalists who belonged to certain generations and worked for their contemporaries.

In addition to such outstanding Kabbalists as the Ari, Rabbi Shimon, Moses, and others wrote in the style that was appropriate for their generation. Even such great Kabbalists as, for example, Ramchal did the same. The major part of his works is written in the form of dialogs. Today this style is no longer accepted and there are almost no books composed in this way. We find such texts very difficult to read. However, Kabbalists of the past used it extensively because it was quite popular in their time.

Today, the Baal HaSulam is the most acceptable author due both to the style of his books and because of the explanatory character of his texts.

Attaining the Science of Kabbalah

1. The attainment of Kabbalah is possible through understanding the studied text. This is similar to a researcher of our world, who works with much diligence in order to understand it, although he sees everything with his own eyes.

That is to say, it is necessary to understand the text. What does it mean, "to understand"? Does it mean to know what is written? I cannot possibly know what is concealed behind these words. Nevertheless, I try to get as close as possible to the text without creating any materialized images in my mind. Here arises a contradiction: "If so, then how can I imagine and adapt it to myself?"

The comprehension of the text implies the correct interpretation of all of its definitions, of every word. The Baal HaSulam writes about it at the end of "The Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot", in "Seder HaLimud" (the order of learning). He explains that a person has to know all the words and their definitions as they are found in the TES. That is to say, I should be able to interpret correctly every word that I come across in the TES.

Suppose I see the following sentence: "I am digging a hole in the ground with a spade". Each of these words must be interpreted correctly. I expressed something by using the words of our world. How can someone translate them into what I really intended to say. "I" might mean a soul; "digging" suggests that I delve into something deeply; "hole" means something else, etc.

It is not important in what language we read a Kabbalistic book. Every word of it should be so crystal clear that we would be able to transform the text into a source of spiritual definitions instead of accepting the external layer of the text, as it is presented to us). Otherwise, we study not spirituality, but merely its outer shell. Nothing will become of it. It is similar to a person who reads Psalms and the Torah as historical novels about our nation's adventures.

Question: Apropos of this phrase: I can imagine now that the ground is desire, a spade is my screen or something else, etc. Am I already working in the spiritual domain and am I happy about it? If I continue imagining things this way, won't it make matters worse?

What do you mean by "imagining"? One must bear in mind the need to decipher each word in this particular sentence in its more and more authentically spiritual sense.

Question: Images stand behind these words.What can we do about it?

The images that stand behind these words actually tell you that you have to achieve the property of bestowal. There is nothing else in them. Therefore, you must reach a state where your interpretation of the text will be one and only one: it will make you aspire to this or that form of bestowal. This is called from "Lo Lishma" (reception) to come to "Lishma" (bestowal). That is all there is to it.

Comprehension of the text means that I see it and try to decipher, to interpret it in a truly spiritual sense. Having made such an effort without understanding (but trying to understand), I attract upon myself the surrounding Light and come to the second part of the attainment of Kabbalah - I begin to feel the text.

2. Feeling the text: In addition to information, the text contains a special property that enables anyone who studies it to gradually enter into the sensation of the Upper World, even without understanding what is written in it.

At this point, we begin to feel the text under the influence of the Ohr Makif. In no way can it happen merely because we wished it so. We want to connect with the text, merge with it; only after that does the Ohr Makif create such properties within us and enables us to feel it. This becomes possible only with the help of the Upper Light, as a result of your aspiration to understand what you study.

This desire in a person is insufficiently developed, and it requires the influence of a proper environment, a group. With its help, he will attract the Ohr Makif and begin to feel what he reads.

Question: How does the text's comprehension correlate with the language?

A simple comprehension of the text is useless. What does it mean, "to comprehend the text"? I do not understand what it is about; I just try to transform it into correct definitions, because my egoism distorts them. I read the text and a picture emerges before me. When I try to interpret it correctly, another picture appears. I do not see it clearly, but I know that it is a picture of forces and properties of bestowal.

These pictures are best described in the Kabbalistic language of the TES. When you imagine them as properties of bestowal, they gradually inspire you to connect with them, be in them. This is what draws the Ohr Makif.

Question: Baal HaSulam had a student who did not know Yiddish, the language in which the Baal HaSulam taught. Is it possible to receive the Ohr Makif without understanding the text?

On the one hand, it is much more difficult without understanding the text. On the other hand, it can be more effective because it is clear to a person that he understands nothing and that only the Upper Light, descending upon him will create in him the ability to perceive the spiritual reality.

While others might believe that they acquire something else besides this empty, meaningless knowledge, the person who does not understand is not deluded by this idea of knowing something: he does not have, know, or understand anything. Indeed, what can he possibly know and understand without the proper command of the language?

Yet, one cannot remain in this situation because one feels the need for the text only to the extent of one's connection to it. Without any connection with the text, one cannot keep hold of it or try delving into it.

Question: When a person begins deciphering the text, he loses the intention at the same time.

If I begin to study the text correctly, it has to tell me about the need for correction. I need to feel the importance, and greatness of the level described. My desire to be at that level or the absence of it should be accompanied by the realization that my friends, my group will help me achieve it.

If a person can attune himself correctly to the definition of every word in the book (the TES), then he will ultimately realize the necessity of a proper environment. He has to absorb the importance of the spiritual from humankind or from his group. He will definitely feel the need for it if he tries to decipher the Kabbalistic texts correctly, i.e., if he attunes himself correctly to the perception of his study so that he will feel the need to enter into it and not just receive formal knowledge..

Question: How can one explain the example that work in the group is sufficient to help a person enter into the spiritual world? Or has this time perhaps already ended?

There are means to acquire the screen that have nothing to do with the study of texts, their correct interpretation, the intention to achieve the goal, and as a result of this, the need and importance of one's occupation and the realization of the group's importance. A person can avoid it all and choose another path: find a teacher and start acting with regard to him. This is what Baal HaSulam writes.

This was possible in previous generations because Kabbalists had one or two disciples with whom they worked closely. In this way, students had an opportunity to receive knowledge and the world outlook directly from the teacher. The Baal HaSulam writes about this in the article "For the Completion of the Book of Zohar".

In our time, when we begin the global, massive ascent to the spiritual, such a relationship between a Kabbalist and one student is no longer possible. At the time of mass dissemination of Kabbalah, an individual student cannot cling to his teacher and advance spiritually by serving him. The time has come for group study and work.

This opportunity of the past is no longer available. This is the attribute of our time. As far as I am concerned, the responsibility to hundreds of people who wish to enter the Upper World makes such a form of relationship impossible.

Question: Is there a difference between the TES and an article as regards their ability to draw the surrounding Light?

Of course there is. An article speaks about your present states or those through which you will shortly go. The TES gives an accurate description of the spiritual levels and corrected spiritual actions in your root from which the Upper Light descends upon you.

Therefore, the effect from the study of articles is considerably less powerful than from the study of the TES. Articles prepare you for the TES. While reading the TES, you are already studying the Upper World and aspiring to be in it.

Hence, I would not say that the articles are a source of the Ohr Makif. They speak about correct actions, faith, the highest spiritual levels, but these descriptions do not attract the surrounding Light. They describe not the structure of the higher levels, but, rather, man's attitude toward them. They do not describe the spiritual level from which you can attract the surrounding Light.

Question: What is the best way to study articles?

All of you should get together in the group and read them. After that, when you already have a certain sensation and the necessary aspiration for the Upper World, you can open the TES and that is what we always do.

Question: Are the study of the TES and keeping the intention during the lesson the two principal elements of our work? What attitude should we have toward the person who sleeps during the lesson?

Life is life, and every one of us can experience different states. If a person is so weak that nothing can get him out of this state (which by now has become his permanent state), we should start worrying about him. However, if it is not his chronic condition and today he is sleepy, then. You see, we cannot force a person to do something. I cannot make someone else (another Kli) do what I want. I want him to stay awake and he wants to sleep. If I force him, it will be called coercion.

There is no coercion in spirituality. So what can I do? In a roundabout way, I can create a special atmosphere around him so that he will stay awake, study and actively participate in the group work. Only the group can influence him. Until he starts acting voluntarily, this will be distortion, not correction.

We practice both ways. I will explain why we can make demands. We can demand because we all signed an agreement that we are one Kli, a single whole.

One group member comes to another on equal terms because otherwise they will not achieve what they want. All the same, one should know how to demand a spiritual effort from a friend.

You see that I do not press anyone. I may get angry about other affairs, but I will never say a word concerning the person's participation in the lessons.

Everything depends on man's desire. If the group does not work with a person and he is still unable to be excited by them, nothing can be done about it. He should be left alone until he is ready.

An action that does not stem from man's desire is forced and faulty. It destroys the world. All of our actions should be based on desire. The acquisition of desire for something invisible, imperceptible is called faith.

Question: Doesn't the Creator demand of us to advance? What is the path of suffering that humankind is treading? Doesn't He force us?

By pushing us with sufferings, the Creator demands our advancement. At the same time, He is not pressing the Kli, i.e., He is inside our desire. We are different. We press someone from outside and create a very different vector of effort.

Question: We speak about comprehending and feeling the texts. Now our lessons are broadcast in different languages. Don't the translators distort the real meaning?

We already said that it does not matter how much of the text a person understands. His effort is what really matters, how correctly he interprets and adapts it for himself, meaning tries to conceive each word in its genuine spiritual sense.

Therefore, the translation is of very little importance. The translator may distort the original meaning and get you completely confused over a wrong sentence, but if you still try to get through to the true meaning of each word, understand what it demands of you, then your sincere effort leads you forward.

The translation can be correct and beautiful, it can be bad, and wrong - what really counts is your effort. Hence, you can hear the lesson in any language; your effort will attract the Ohr Makif and it will correct you.

When it does, you will see what really happens without any language. It has nothing to do with simple understanding. Even your native tongue will not help you because you will not know what it is really all about.

If a person studies for the sake of knowledge without changing anything within his soul, all of his knowledge disappears when he dies. None of it is left for the future.

Question: It turns out that a Kabbalist must be a greater source of the surrounding Light; yet masses have no method of working with such a source.

Masses should not work with a Kabbalist; masses should work with the Creator. A Kabbalist is a person who remains in the shadows and shows others the path to the Creator. That is all. He does not care about being idolized by his disciples; on the contrary, he wants them to focus their attention on the Creator.

Question: Many people believe that they are already in contact with the Creator.

Well, a Kabbalist cannot do anything about it. If a person lives in the illusion that he established contact with the Creator, he does not need the help of a Kabbalist.

Question: We wish to become one Kli. Is it correct to think that there is a teacher and the Kli that work one with the other?

One Kli means that you can already treat your friend as yourself; i.e., there is no difference between me and my friend and to the extent that I can press myself then I can also press my friend. This is good because it enables you to act somehow.

As regards a Teacher, I guess that nothing should be done with respect to him. You should see him as an instructor, a guide whose advice and recommendations you should follow since they refer to your spiritual growth. You should not show any special signs of devotion or respect; a Teacher neither needs nor demands it.

What I say to you is based both on my own experience and on what I saw in my own Teacher. A Kabbalist has no need for anything like that. What he needs is a good, business-like atmosphere in which his students can develop and attain what they want. We need no Chassidut here.

A Teacher demands from his student one most important thing - to be in contact with the Creator and to understand that he needs to study in order to achieve this goal. The ability to study seriously and the aspiration to enter the spiritual world, he must receive from his group. Every one of its members has to devote himself to the group and make a positive influence upon it.

Hence, a student has to be disciplined. Yet, what advice of his Rav (Teacher) has he to follow? Rav (Heb. "big one") should be looked upon as someone superior only with regard to the method of attaining the Creator. Otherwise, he is as ordinary a person as anyone else. Only this should be respected.

Question: True research begins with the attainment of the first property of bestowal. Who of today's scientists will live long enough to see the end of this path?

If a person thinks a little about the Creator, if he at least tries to aspire to Him, then none of these efforts and properties disappear. They are stored within our desire. Desires are eternal; they pass from one generation to another, from one incarnation to the next. Next time, you will be born with the same desire; it will retain the record of everything you did with regard to the Creator.

All the other things that were not directed to Him stemmed from your egoistical desire. The Reshimot will play their role of course. Everything that you did inside your egoistical desire will be stored in a "small box" called the "realization of evil" and until it is filled completely, you will continue to come to this world. At the same time, all your aspirations to the Creator are stored in another "box", most appropriately called "man's aspirations to the Creator".

Next time you show up in this world, these two "boxes" will constitute your left and right lines. Nothing disappears - neither positive nor negative. The negative part is the path of pain and suffering. Nothing good comes from increasing it.

However, if you increase the positive part, meaning that you constantly aspire to the Creator, it is added to your cumulative score and eventually give results, because this is a cumulative process, consisting of small efforts and little consecutive steps that ultimately elevate you to the next, higher level.

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