You are here: Kabbalah Library Home / Michael Laitman / Books / The Path of Kabbalah / Part Four: Proper Study / Chapter 4.3 – From a Kabbalist’s Notebook
Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

Chapter 4.3 – From a Kabbalist’s Notebook

My rabbi used to write everything he’d learned from his father. When I came to study with him I began to ask the questions that had been bothering me all along, but he kept avoiding answering me. And then one day he let me a certain notebook so that I would find in it what was important and interesting to me. He added that these writings would support me for the rest of my life, even when he was gone, and that I would understand what I must understand when I read them.

The year was 1981; he gave me a notebook that I copied, then read it and used it for the next ten years. In 1991, a day before he passed away, he gave me the original manuscript. He said: read it, it’s for you. He asked me to come earlier the next morning to help him put on his Teffilin (a portion of the Pentateuch written on a piece of parchment and put into special boxes that orthodox Jews put on their heads and arms every morning except on Saturday and on holidays). He knew what was going to happen in advance, but I did not, and when I arrived, it was too late. He was already semi-conscious and perished right before my eyes.

The essays and the writings that he’d given me are priceless. Every time one reads them, one seems to learn something new. My perception of the words grows deeper every time I read them, and my understanding of my inner state depends.

These essays were written from the highest spiritual attainment possible. Any reader can find his or her own inner state, learn what must be done at any given moment, and discover what the author wanted to reveal at that very moment.

I recommend reading these essays or even a few lines of them every day before going to sleep. Rabash used to open the notebook for just a few seconds every night; that was enough for the expansion of the Light in the soul.

One of the deepest and most important articles of the rabbi is entitled, “There is None Else Beside Him.” This article should be on the desk of every person who wants adherence with the Creator. It contains the entire teaching of Baal HaSulam, his approach to Creation, and everything one must always feel and keep in mind. This article is the first in the book, “Shamati” (I heard) that I published after his demise.

“It is written that 'there is none else beside Him,' meaning that there is no other power in the world with the ability to do anything against Him. And what man sees, namely, that there are things in the world, which deny the Household of Above, is because He wills it so.

And it is deemed a correction, called "the left rejects and the right adducts," meaning that which the left rejects is considered correction. This means that there are things in the world, which from the beginning aim to divert a person from the right way, and divert holiness.

And the benefit from these rejections is that through them a person receives the need and a complete desire for God to help him, since he sees that otherwise he is lost. Not only does he not progress in his work, but he sees that he regresses, and he lacks the strength to observe Torah and Mitzvot even if not Lishma (for Her name, for the name of the Torah). That only by genuinely overcoming all the obstacles, above reason, he can observe Torah and Mitzvot.

But he does not always have the strength to overcome above reason, that otherwise he is forced to deviate, God forbid, from the way of the Creator, and even from Lo Lishma (not for Her name). And he, who always feels that the shattered is greater than the whole, meaning that there are a lot more descents than ascents, and he does not see an end to these predicaments, and he will forever remain outside of holiness, for he sees that it is difficult for him to observe even as little as a jot, unless by overcoming above reason, but he is not always able to overcome. And what shall be the end of it all?”

Explanation: We can see from the beginning of this essay, that the Creator is the sole Ruler of Creation. He created man with certain properties, gave him all the necessary forces, and placed him under the optimal circumstances for progress toward the purpose of Creation. But the Creator doesn’t help us-quite the contrary. He confuses us with all kinds of entanglements: discharge from work, disease, domestic problems, and all variety of failures.

Furthermore, He does it in concealment, without us knowing that it is He Who stands behind all that. An individual must go though quite a long period of time of being treated that way by the Creator. One has no choice but to go through these trials to gain experience that will lead to eventual completeness, eternity and adhesion with the Creator.

That time comes to its end when "he reaches the decision that no one can help him but God Himself. This causes him to make a heart-felt demand of the Creator to open his eyes and heart, to bring him nearer to eternal adhesion with God.”

The desire of the Creator is that when one ascends in the spiritual worlds, we will acquire all the properties of these worlds, become like the Creator in each and every world, and replace Him. However, this is impossible to accomplish without the help of the Creator. We are unable to do anything by ourselves. All the pains and troubles that we experience happen because our properties-desires are opposite to those of the Creator, meaning they are opposite to the Light.

That oppositeness of form makes us a reality that doesn’t really exist. It is only a consequence of the reflection of our level of ascent to the Upper Light. We only see our own properties. When the Light comes from Above, we do not feel it, we must first get rid of our egoism, the obstruction blocking us from the Light.

When one cries to the Creator for help, one suddenly finds “that all the rejections he had experienced had come from the Creator.

That means that the rejections he had experienced were not because he was at fault, for not having the ability to overcome, but because these rejections are for those who truly want to draw nearer to God. And in order for such a person not to be satisfied with only a little, namely, not to remain as a little child without knowledge, he receives help from Above so that he will not be able to say that 'Thank God, he observes Torah and performs good deeds and what else could he ask for?' "

And only if that person has a true desire, will he receive help from Above. "And he is constantly shown how he faults in his present state; that is, he is sent thoughts and views, which work against his efforts. This is in order for him to see that he is not one with the Lord. And as much as he overcomes, he always sees how he is found in a position farther from holiness than others, who feel one with the Lord.

But he, on the other hand, always has his complaints and demands, and he cannot justify the behavior of the Creator, and how He behaves toward him. And it pains him that he is not one with the Lord, until he comes to feel that he has no part in holiness whatsoever.

And although he is occasionally awakened from Above, which momentarily revives him, but soon he falls into an abyss. However, this is what causes him to realize that only God can help and really draw him closer.

A man must always try and cleave to the Creator, namely, that all his thoughts will be about Him. That is to say, that even if he is in the worst state from which there cannot be a greater descent, he should not leave His domain, namely, think that there is another authority which prevents him from entering into holiness, and which has the power to either benefit or harm.

That is, he must not think that there is a matter of the power of the Sitra Achra (Other Side) that does not allow man to do good deeds and follow God’s ways, but he should think that all is done by the Creator.”

The Creator sends us troubles in order to bring us back to the purpose of Creation. Normally, if we are happy, we don’t even care if the Creator exists, but it is precisely during the "good" situations that we must adhere to the Creator. That is why He sends us troubles, so that we will remember Him. If we feel bad, we are compelled to think of the Creator when we feel good, as well as when we feel bad.

Kabbalah speaks of man's most subtle feelings. We never expect the blow; it always comes unexpectedly when we are disconnected from the Creator. Providence operates individually on each and every one of us, even when we don’t remember about Him. He sends us special messages to remind us of Him. That is why we are told that we must always aim our thoughts at the Creator. That is all that’s needed.

“…he who says that there is another power in the world, namely shells, is in a state of “serving other gods.” It is not necessarily the thought of heresy that is the sin, but if he thinks that there is another authority and Force apart from the Creator, by that he is committing a sin.

Furthermore, he who says that man has his own authority–meaning that he says that yesterday he himself did not want to follow God’s ways, that, too, is considered to be committing the sin of heresy. It means that he does not believe that only the Creator leads the world.”

There isn’t even a single thought in us that does not come from the Creator. That is how it was predetermined in the design of Creation and there is nothing we can do to change it.

So who am I then? “Self” is the one that feels what comes from Above. In the beginning, we are confused by the thoughts that come to us from Above. It is the result of the instilling of spirituality into our corporeality.

After some time things begin to fall into place and take affect. One begins to understand that there actually cannot be any other way. An ascent is one’s consent with the Creator’s doing. In that state, one feels, full and eternal, separated from the body and connected only with spirituality.

“But when he has committed a sin, and he must certainly regret it and be sorry for having committed it, but here, too, we should place the pain and sorrow in the right order: where does he place the cause of the sin? That is the point he should be sorry for.

And a man should then feel sorry and say: “I committed that sin because the Creator hurled me down from holiness to a place of filth, to the lavatory, where the filth is”. That is to say, God gave him a desire and a craving to amuse himself and breathe air in a place of stench. (And you might say, as it says in the books, that sometimes a man incarnates in the body of a pig, that he receives a desire and craving to take livelihood from things he had already determined were litter, but now he again wants to revive himself in them).

And also when a man feels he’s in a state of ascent, and tastes some good flavor in the work, he must not say: "Now I am in a state where I understand that it is worthwhile to worship God." Rather, he should know that now the Lord has fancied him, and for that reason He draws him near, which is the reason why he tastes a good flavor in the work. And he should be careful never to leave the domain of holiness, and say that there is another operating force besides the Creator.

(But this means that the matter of finding favor in the eyes of the Lord, or the opposite, does not depend on man himself, but everything depends on God. And man, with his external mind, cannot comprehend why now the Lord likes him, and after He does not.)

And likewise when he regrets that the Creator does not draw him near, he should also be careful not to be sorry for himself for having been distanced from the Creator, for by so doing he becomes a recipient for his own benefit, and he who receives is separated from the Creator. Rather he should regret his exile of Divinity, for inflicting sorrow upon the Divinity.

One should take as an example when some small organ of a person is sore. The pain is still felt mainly in the heart and mind, which are the generality of man. And certainly the sensation of a single organ cannot resemble the sensation of a person’s full stature, where most of the pain is felt.

Likewise is the pain that a person feels when he is detached from the Lord, since man is but a single organ of the Divinity, for Divinity is the general soul of Israel. Therefore, the sensation of a single organ does not resemble the sensation of the general pain. Divinity regrets that there are parts of it that are detached from her, which she cannot provide for.

(And that might be the meaning of the words: “When a man regrets, Divinity says: “It is lighter than my head”). And if man does not relate the sorrow at being distant from God to himself, he is saved from falling into the trap of the desire to receive for himself, which is the separation from holiness.

The same applies when one feels somewhat closer to holiness, when he is happy at having merited favor in the eyes of the Lord, he must say that the core of his joy is that now there is joy in the Divinity, from having being able to bring her private organ near her, and not send it away.

And man rejoices at having been endowed with the ability to please Divinity. And this goes by the same token, because joy that an individual feels is but a part of the joy that the whole feels. And through these calculations he loses his individuality and avoids being trapped by the Other Side, which is the will to receive for himself.

Although the will to receive is necessary, since 'that is the whole man,' anything that exists in a person apart from the desire to receive is attributed to the Creator. Nevertheless, the will to receive pleasure should be corrected to a form of bestowal.

That is to say, the pleasure and joy taken by the will to receive should be intended to bring contentment Above, because there is pleasure below. For that was the purpose of Creation, to benefit His creations. And this is called the joy of the Divinity Above.

For this reason, man must seek advice as to how he can cause contentment Above. And certainly, if he receives pleasure, contentment shall be felt Above. Therefore, he should long to always be in the King’s palace, and to have the ability to play with the King’s treasures. And that will certainly cause contentment Above. It follows that his entire longing should be for the sake of the Creator.”

The Creator is benevolent with us, but we feel His Goodness as cruelty when it comes through our egoism. It is expressed in disease, stress and other difficulties. We cannot be thankful to the Creator when we feel bad. If we only knew how bad the Creator feels, that His Benevolence is turned into the opposite, or how happy He is when we are, then we would operate entirely differently.

In other words: all our thoughts, all our actions, and anything that happens should always be directed at the Creator. That is the only way to exit the ego and attain spirituality.

Back to top
Site location tree