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Michael Laitman, PhD

Chapter 7.6 – Questions & Answers

Torah & Mitzvot

Question: What is the connection between Mitzvot and the purpose of our existence?

Answer: Mitzvot are rules, meaning characteristics of spiritual degrees. For that reason the number of Mitzvot that were given to Israel–613–and the nations of the world–7–indicate the sum of spiritual degrees reaching from our world to the world of Ein Sof, from complete disconnection from the Creator leading to complete adhesion with His properties.

It is said that, “A Mitzva without an aim is like a body without a soul”. This relates to a spiritual altruistic vessel, to the sensation of a spiritual Light, meaning the Creator. For that reason it is good that people keep the Mitzvot, but it is certainly not a spiritual act. The only way to operate in the spiritual world is by corrected spiritual intentions, even without performing any physical activity.

However, man’s purpose is to combine the mechanical performance of Mitzvot with the spiritual performance so that all 620 spiritual degrees will be included in the mechanical performance. Thus, one combines all the worlds within him, beginning in our world and ending in the world of Ein Sof. That is why that spiritual degree is called the “end of correction”.

The importance of Kabbalah is that it shows how to create within us the right intent when we perform the Mitzvot. Kabbalah adds the spiritual aim to the mechanical act, but this by no means negates the physical performance of Mitzvot. The purpose of Creation is not to fly into the spiritual world, but feel the spiritual worlds by means of our world and experience them simultaneously. We do this by adding the spiritual dimension to the mechanical operations we perform.

Q: What does it mean to fully keep the Mitzvot?

A: A complete performance of a Mitzva means keeping it at its root. In other words, it is the ascent to the degree from which the Mitzva, the spiritual property came, using the corrected properties. The ascent to the spiritual degree means that the vessel of the soul must be emptied from its previous filling in order to receive a new one. The beginning of a new spiritual degree happens through a process called “Impregnation”.

The refining of the soul from its spiritual past is called the “stripping of corporeality”, but this does not refer to the corporeal past. Being emptied from the past is necessary because Keter of the inferior becomes Malchut of the superior when changing from absence to existence (during the spiritual ascent) and vise-versa.

Q: Why must we perform all 620 Mitzvot, if each of them is a law in a certain spiritual degree on the ladder between the Creator and us?

A: Each spiritual degree contains all the other degrees inside it. Each of the 620 degrees between man and the Creator consists of 620 parts and all of them must be corrected in every degree according to its spiritual level. The difference between the degrees is only in the intensity of their altruistic power.

Q: Why are there Mitzvot that were given hundreds of years after the giving of the Torah?

A: Moses, the great Kabbalist, told his people about the structure of the spiritual worlds. We know that what he conveyed to them became the book of Torah.

This book offers two options: the first is when we feel only our world and learn Torah, and especially the wisdom of Kabbalah. In that state, we unconsciously extend Light from the spiritual worlds, which gradually correct us.

The second is when we already perceive the spiritual world through feelings. Then, the wisdom of Kabbalah becomes a guide that shows us precisely what we should do next and how. It teaches us the operation of every system in the Upper Worlds.

The growing coarseness of the souls that descend to our world during the 6,000 years requires every generation to have its own Torah, one that suits the soul of that generation. The Torah is the means to correct our egoism, as it says: "I have created the evil inclination, I have created for it the Torah as a spice." For that reason, Kabbalists presented new Mitzvot in every generation in the form of customs and laws. They determined that the customs of Israel are laws.

On the other hand, when there is no need to perform something in our world, we witness event that affect our ability to perform them. Such events include the ruin of the first and second temples, exiles, and other catastrophes. As a result, people were unable to perform many of the Mitzvot connected to the temple or the sanctity of the land.

Q: Can we talk about the construction of the third temple and what it means?

A: In every generation, different kinds of souls descend to this world. The first souls to descend were the finest, purest, and consequently the simplest. These souls had such a small will to receive that they had no desire to evolve in the physical world. Consequently, it took many years for anything significant to happen.

However, over the years these souls accumulated hardships and pain, which increased their will to receive; they grew coarser. The increase of the will to receive compels people to seek answers to questions and needs that awaken in them. This search produces the development of science, medicine, culture and technology.

Our generation and the generations to come belong to a time generally entitled “the last generation”. It is the generation that precedes the collective correction of the souls. In this generation, egoism grows so intensely that it awakens needs for every corporeal thing that exists, as well as the need to understand and control the spiritual world.

For that reason we are witnessing a growing importance and interest in certain mystical sciences. Bookstores are loaded with books, films and magazines about extraterrestrials and other such phenomena. But these are merely midway points on the way to the ultimate question: “What is the meaning of my life?” Although this question was asked in the past, the intensity behind it today is far greater.

The temple represents the corrected state of the soul because it correlates with the state of the temple. It is said that the temple will be built only when relationships between people have been corrected (altruistic).

But why did the Creator do it that way? Why must man nullify his ego and think only of others and never of himself? Does the Creator need it? He doesn’t need it whatsoever; we do! Doing that, we create an objective outside ourselves and disconnected from ourselves. These are the only conditions that allow the building of a temple.

Q: What does the blessing for the food mean in terms of Kabbalah?

A: The Talmud speaks of a big group of Tana’im, Kabbalists who buried their deceased teacher. After the funeral they sat by the river and had a meal of bread and salt. All of a sudden they realized they could not bless the blessing for the food without their teacher. Regrettably, they did not succeed in learning this blessing from their teacher.

So what is the blessing for the food? The blessing for the food is the reception of pleasure in order to please the Creator. It is when there is mutual respect between the guest (man) and the host (the Creator). One who receives should do it with the intent of giving pleasure to the Creator. Doing that raises the recipient to a spiritual degree. If his intention is not taken into account, and one enjoys without thinking of the host, one remains at the level of our world. This spiritual act (receiving in order to give pleasure to the Creator) is called "the blessing for the food."

Q: So is it correct to say that the important thing is the intent with which you bless for the food?

A: Yes, but not only with regards to the blessing for the food. It is written in the Torah that, “A Mitzva without an aim is like a body without a soul.” This means that every act, every Mitzva that has no reciprocal connection with the Creator, a mutual giving, is tantamount to a body without a soul, a dead body, meaning one that has no spiritual content. However, keeping Mitzvot even on this level is still important because it is a preparation period, when one can keep the Mitzvot on this level until attaining the spiritual world.

Q: Which is more important: the sentiment, or the mistakes we might make when we pray?

A: The sentiment is more important; mistakes don't matter. If you take only a few lines from the prayer book and feel them deeply, that would be much better than any mechanical prayer.

Q: Do things happen to us only by the Will of the Creator, or are there other forces?

A: The Torah states clearly that, “There is none else beside Him.” This means that there is only one supreme force, namely the Creator. Everything we perceive as a struggle between opposing forces in nature stems from one guidance, the Creator that leads Creation. The Creator is the sole ruler; He is one, unique and unified.

Moreover, the idea that there are other forces contradicts the essence of Judaism. The concept that it is not the Creator who governs the evil forces is intended to justify our existence. The Torah clearly states the heavy punishments that will befall the chosen people by the Creator if they do not follow the path of the Torah.

Catastrophes have happened more than once throughout our history, and each time the Creator warned us about it in advance. The Talmud speaks of the foretokens of the ruin of the first and second temples before they actually happened. It is written in the Torah and in the Zohar that in order to reach perfection in a good way, we must study Kabbalah.


Q: What is the meaning of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)?

A: Yom Kippur is the day when the construction of the spiritual vessel is completed. Reality consists of Light and vessel. The Light is the Creator, the pleasure, and the vessel is the creature, the soul, or Malchut. The Light is in complete rest and never changes. The Light’s only purpose is to delight His creatures and bring mankind to eternal bliss.

The entire process of the making of the spiritual vessel, from its current lowest of states, to the highest, eternal and complete, is expressed in this world in the “Ten Penitential Days” between New Year and the Day of Atonement. During these ten days, the soul, which originally consists of nothing but a desire to receive, begins to gradually acquire the attribute of the Light, beginning in the first day of Rosh Hashanah (the first day of the year), until the Day of Atonement. The will to receive changes in ten ways, ten Sefirot, being the foundation of the correction of the soul.

At the end of those ten days, the soul completes its correction and is ready to receive the Light. On the tenth day, the Day of Atonement, it is forbidden to display any desire to receive, emphasized by the prohibitions on eating, drinking and the other limitations on this day of fasting. That day completes the final correction.

After the Day of Atonement begins the preparation of the reception of the Light by the (by now) totally corrected vessel. The reception of the Light is executed on the seven days of Sukkot by the performance of the Mitzvot of the Lulav (palm branch), the Etrog (citron) and the other Mitzvot necessary to extend the Light into the vessel.

Finally, the holiday of Simchat Torah (Rejoicing of the Torah) sums up the process and the Light of the Creator fills the prepared vessel entirely. The Torah symbolizes the Light, and the Simchah (joy) symbolizes the reception of the Light in order to bestow upon the Creator.

This correction doesn’t have to be on these precise dates; in spirituality it can happen any time. We only denote this process in our world on specific times of the year.

Q: Who is the subject of the Torah?

A: The entire Torah, without exception, speaks of the individual. Each person is regarded as an entire world. There are rivers in this world, lakes, mountains and forests. There are people, nations men and women, children, slaves, stars, moon and sun. Everything we can think of exists inside this creature. It is the only thing that the Creator created; outside him there is only the Creator. Everything that happens to this creature happens within him. Everything we perceive with our five senses–sight, sound, scent, taste and touch–comes from the Creator Who surrounds us.

Thus, the Torah speaks of each and every one of us; it is a personal guide to the perception of the Creator. That is why whatever we read in the Torah must be immediately ascribed to ourselves, out inner state. We must relate the characters to our properties, the events in our world are actually relationships between the hereditary, intellectual and emotional attributes. They were originally created by the Creator and we acquired them from Him and from no other, because there are no others! There are only different clothes that appear as different people through which the Creator works on each and every one of us.

Miscellaneous Questions & Answers

Q: What is Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel)?

A: Eretz Israel is an inner desire for spirituality. If one is also in the physical land of Israel, one's physical body unites with his soul. This is the state of the end of correction. If one is not in Eretz Israel in the spiritual sense, but only physically, one feels uncomfortable in this country, and is driven off. That person will constantly face external enemies until deciding to correct oneself from within. But when this is done, these external enemies immediately become friends.

We must act on the inner (spiritual) level and on the outer (corporeal) level simultaneously. If something is dear to us, we will not give it up that easily, and if we still do not appreciate the spiritual land of Israel, it is because we haven’t acquired it, and we are therefore unable to appreciate the corporeal Eretz Israel.

There is a tight link between the root and the branch in our world. If we knew the spiritual meaning of Eretz Israel, what it is connected with and what it is identified with, we would not even consider giving it away, just as a parent would not give up a child.

Q: War and peace–are they in the hands of the Creator?

A: This depends much more on our desires than on the desires of politicians. I am not referring to the Kabbalists, but to the desires of people in general. Their desires can change everything Above, and politics will change accordingly.

Q: Is humanity headed toward unity?

A: Of course humanity is ultimately headed toward unity! In the end, mankind will realize that without unity, it will be impossible to lead a peaceful and secure life.

Q: Can writers, poets and composers call their works their own?

A: Yes, of course they can.

Q: Is a Kabbalist obligated to be respectful toward figures that other peoples consider holy?

A: Even the laws of the literal Torah, not only Kabbalah, state that one must be respectful to everybody.

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