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Michael Laitman, PhD

Chapter 7.4 – A Holiday as a Means For Correction

All the corrections in Partzuf Zeir Anpin of Atzilut, which is our root, occur in a spiritual process entitled Sukkot.

Man, meaning the soul, or the spiritual vessel, is a simile for Zeir Anpin of Atzilut. The origin of the Light that the soul receives is the interactions between Bina, ZA and Malchut of Atzilut.

All the operations that ZA must perform are connected with the Mitzvot that relate to the Lulav (palm branch) that symbolizes it, and the Etrog (citron) that symbolizes Malchut. One must combine these properties within, and this inner work happens entirely inside the Sukkah. The Sukkah is the Surrounding Light of Bina that surrounds ZA, which is where one absorbs the Inner Light.

Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag explained that there are two different terms relating to the Sukkah, namely “Clouds of Glory” and “Clouds that Hide”. The hiding clouds are those constituents of the thatch, made of remnants of plantation and branches. Those who can build a thatch within themselves to protect against the pleasures from Above, will begin to see the clouds of glory instead of the clouds that hide them from the Creator and His Revelation.

One's work during the building of the thatch symbolizes the building of the spiritual screen to filter the pleasure that comes from sensing the Creator. This type of work is called Man de Ima (MAN of Ima); it is a prayer to receive the Light to resist one's egoism. If one's request is granted, this Force fills the vessel and renders ability to receive the Upper Light (of Wisdom) using the screen.

This Light contains extensive knowledge about our place in the world, what happens with and around us, and our current degree. When we attain the properties of a certain spiritual degree, we are called by its name. When we attain a higher one, our names will change accordingly.

As we climb higher in the spiritual degrees and as our names change accordingly, we acquire new attributes and expose ourselves to increased degrees of sublime abundance. That is why people sometimes thin that if they change their names artificially, they will be influenced by a greater spiritual abundance.

Each and every soul that descends to our world has but one destination: to reacquire the spiritual degree from which is descended to our world, to materialize in a biological body. We must attain the roots of our souls while we are still in our physical bodies, during one of our lifetimes. We must reach the same spiritual degree from which our souls came, despite the obstacles and the obstructions that physically stand before us.

Some souls are obliged only to attain their previous degrees. They rise through the 6,000 degrees called the "6,000 years" and stop there. That is why it says that after 6,000 years the world will come to its end.

However, there are special souls that, after attaining their degrees, must rise even higher, along with the worlds of BYA to the level of Parzuf SAG of the world of Adam Kadmon. This degree is called the 7,000th, or seven thousand years. There are also souls that must attain the degree of Parzuf AB of Adam Kadmon, called "8,000 years," or that of Parzuf Galgalta, called "9,000 years."

There are also very special souls that attain the degree called "10,000 years," meaning they transcend in their emotions and attainments to the world of Ein Sof. Such a soul comes to our world very rarely—perhaps once every ten generations. Only the greatest among the Kabbalists belong to this type of souls.

Performing Mitzvot that relate to the Sukkah signify one's adhesion with the Creator in the highest degree. How does that happen?

Zeir Anpin, which consists of six Sefirot, defines six directions: north, south, east, west, up, and down. Malchut receives Light from each of these Sefirot, which are the six properties of Zeir Anpin. That is why the citron is first attached to the palm branch before one can offer the blessings. That is how the Mitzva of the Sukkah and the Lulav are performed.

However, it is absolutely forbidden to think that by performing this physical act, one performs a spiritual act as well! One cannot perform anything spiritual with one's hands or lips. A spiritual act can only be performed by a person who has acquired a screen over egoistic desires and can receive the Light of the Creator for the sake of the Creator.

The way to acquire that state is called "the wisdom of Kabbalah" and it can only be acquired under the strict guidance of a Kabbalistic teacher. It is impossible to become a Kabbalist by studying on one's own. Even the greatest Kabbalists had teachers without which they would not have attained their spiritual powers. Once the beginning Kabbalist receives the right direction from his teacher, and obtains preliminary contact with the Creator, he can intensify this contact to the point where he can even ascend higher than his teacher.

The holiday of Sukkot lasts seven days, the length of time it takes for the Light to go from Bina to the seven Sefirot of Zeir Anpin. Every day represents a new spiritual state, a new Light that permeates the corresponding Sefira. The seventh day indicates the transition of the Light from Zeir Anpin to Malchut.

The day of the reception of the Torah by Malchut is called Simchat Torah (Rejoicing of the Torah). This is because the entire Light that Malchut receives descends to the souls, and this Light is called "Torah."

This Light is not a part of the Sukkah. Rather, it is a separate holiday. A Sukkah is a transition of Light by means of the screen through Zeir Anpin during the seven days of Sukkot. Simchat Torah, however, is the permeation of the Light of the Torah, meaning the Light of Zeir Anpin into Malchut and their complete unification.

The night before Simchat Torah is called Hoshana Raba. This is a special night when all the Surrounding Light gathers around ZA, but because it is around and not inside ZA, it is considered a "nocturnal state" before it is turned into Inner Light when it permeates Malchut.

Any act performed with the intent to bring contentment to the Creator is a spiritual act. If the very same act were intended toward self-gratification and egoism, this act would be opposite to spiritual, meaning corporeal.

A beginning student of Kabbalah finds it hard to perform the physical Mitzvot, which every orthodox person does very easily, but effort should still be made to do them. The difficulty in performing these Mitzvot arises because the Kabbalist regards every act and every though in terms of its impact on one's progress.

The Kabbalist evaluates these actions according to how helpful they are in helping us attain our goal of bonding with the Creator. And since the connection with the Creator is attained through the intent and the inner effort that is directed against the egoism, it is hard for us to do anything physical that is seemingly connected with spirituality.

This is because there isn't even a single act that one can perform in this world that actually affects spirituality. Our contact with God passes only through our hearts. However, physically performing Mitzvot is a must, because that, too, is the Will of the Creator.

There is, however, one type of effort that does help us advance toward attaining spirituality. It is the effort to maintain thinking about the Creator's existence while studying Kabbalah, and the need to remember that the Acts of the Creator are taught solely to attain the purpose of Creation.

Egoism allows us to move only when it sees some benefit to it, when the act produces pleasure. We need to pray to the Creator to receive the strength to act against our egoism. That is our direct contact with the Creator, the only straight path to Him. That is our direct contact with the Creator, the only straight path to Him. That contact grows gradually clearer and the more solid, and we begin to understand what happened to us and why, and what we must do next. At that point, our efforts become a springboard to attain the next degree.

What is the "secret" and what is the "Wisdom of the Hidden?" A secret exists only if one has not yet uncovered it. Today's secret may be known tomorrow. But it is our work to unravel the secret, and the teacher's job to point us in the right direction and motivate us to search.

It is impossible to measure effort itself, since it is a person thing that relates to one's emotions, and we cannot describe feelings. Thus, it is impossible to feel something that another feels.

In general, an effort is an egoistic activity, when one tries to receive pleasures from this world. One unconsciously changes one's pleasures in an endless pursuit of tiny spark of Light that keep changing their appearance.

And what is labor, according to Kabbalah? It is when one tries to do something against one's ego, and fails. Then, after trying every possible option and failing, the prayer to the Creator forms within, the real prayer to Him. That prayer is the one true labor.

The Creator alone can deliver us from our egoism. We cannot do it for ourselves. If we still think there is a chance that we can attain spirituality by ourselves, even if it is the most remote possibility, it is a sign that we have not yet run out of options, and our egos will not allow us to raise a real prayer, a heartfelt cry from the bottom of our hearts for help. Ego will not surrender itself to the Mercy of the Creator before it is certain that, without attaining spirituality, it will simply die, and that the only way to attain it is with the help of the Creator.

Kabbalah is like no other way, because it is impossible to predict the next step. It is always like stepping into total darkness towards a new revelation. If we could do it, we would rely on our minds and reason, and not on the negation of the reason and the adoption of faith in the Creator, with faith above reason.

We can only see if we are directing our efforts in the right direction by constantly returning our thoughts to the Creator. We must bear in mind that every new sensation is sent by the Creator because He wills it so. He puts obstacles in our way only the extent that we can overpower them.

It is different for every person and cannot be compared, but the only thing we can arrive at is the "recognition of evil," the recognition of our own egoism. We can see the enemy face to face; we do not have to fight windmills. This phase is general and everyone experiences it, but it is experienced differently by every individual.

There is no direct link between the intensity of the egoism and the length of time it must take to correct it. Even people who study and work in the same group have different desires. In one person they might grow, while in another they might stay the same or even decrease, and no external interference will help. It all depends on the extent to which one can ask for help of the Creator. However, this is something that is very hard to do because the ego senses it as humiliation.

Still, there is no other way! Without His Help, without the Light that permeates the vessel, the vessel will not become altruistic. A vessel without the properties of the Light is a completely egoistic will to receive delight and pleasure that cannot perform any spiritual movement.

When one has tried every way possible and failed, it will be clear that one's situation is hopeless. Only then will egoism surrender and the person will be willing to receive any help. In order to reach that state, one must constantly increase the importance of spirituality, giving it increasing favor over corporality. This should be done even if, in the beginning, this comes from ego, or the desire to benefit from spirituality.

We must use every tool at our disposal. Afterward, when our egoistic desires decrease, we will find ways to help us preserve the desire to study Kabbalah. Our incentive will first be the desire for honor, then for power, but in the end we will be left with one wish only–to experience the Creator.

Once attained, it will become of greatest importance to do everything for the Creator. Ultimately, it will not even be important if we actually do something for Him, because the knowledge that we directed everything toward Him will be the pleasure.

We must not underestimate the forces and the means we have. We must remember that the Creator works on us through the world we presently inhabit.

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