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The Search for the Creator

When we are distracted by outside thoughts, we feel that thoughts obstruct us from ascertaining the spiritual, because our strength and minds are wasted on extraneous concerns, while our hearts become filled with petty desires. At times like this, we lose faith in the fact that only the Kabbalah contains the true life.

Once we overcome this condition, we come out of our state and move into the Light, receiving a higher Light that helps us ascend further. In this manner, our extraneous thoughts work to help us in our spiritual advancement.

We can overcome obstacles only with the help of the Creator. We can only work on something if we perceive some personal benefit in the task. However, our bodies, hearts and intellects do not understand what benefits can result from altruism.

Therefore, as soon as we try to make even the slightest altruistic move, we lose all strength of the mind, heart and body. We are left with nothing else but to turn to the Creator and ask Him for help. In this way, unwillingly and without any free choice, we advance toward the Creator until we merge with Him completely.

We should not complain of having been born insufficiently smart, strong or courageous, or lacking qualities that others possess.

If we do not advance on the right path, what difference does it make if we are endowed with the best abilities and potential?

It may be that a talented person can become a great scientist, but without a connection with the Creator, this person’s purpose will not be achieved, and will fail just as the majority of people do.

It is crucial to attain the level of a righteous person; only then can we use all of our potential for the right tasks, rather than squander our strength in vain. Even the weakest and most trivial abilities given to us by the Creator should be used for the sake of the loftiest goals.

If we are in a state of spiritual descent, it is useless to try to convince us to cheer up, or to subject us to listening to the learned wisdom of others. Nothing that others will say can help us. The stories of what other people lived through and their advice will not enliven us when depressed, because we have lost all faith in everything, including the achievements of others.

However, if we repeat to ourselves what we used to say and feel when in a state of spiritual exhilaration and full of life, as opposed to being spiritually dead as at present. If we remember our own goals and spiritual progress, then we can grow to regain our good spirits.

By remembering that at some point we had faith and advanced in life by means of faith above reason, we can help ourselves emerge from the state of spiritual death. For this reason, we should always rely on our own recollections and experiences. Only these will motivate us to forsake the state of depression.

The task of one who has reached a certain spiritual level is to make a selection from the myriad of pleasures that arise, immediately discarding all those pleasures that cannot be balanced by faith, since they are not fit for use. In Kabbalah, that part of pleasure that a person receives for the sake of the Creator, for the sole purpose of strengthening one’s faith, is considered “food.”

On the other hand, the other part that one is unable to receive is considered “refuse.” If a person is incapable of distinguishing between the two and wants to devour the entire portion (in Kabbalistic terms, “"to become drunk from the excess of pleasure"”), then that person loses everything and is left with nothing. In Kabbalah, such a person is known as a "pauper."

All of us are "prescribed" in what we can and cannot do. If we decide to ignore the “prescription,” then we are punished.

If we are unaware of the pain and suffering that may result from breaking the law, then we are bound to break the law, since as a result we will receive pleasure. Consequently, we will receive the punishment as well, in order that we realize that in the future we should not act in this particular manner.

For example, there exists a law that one is not permitted to steal money. But if a person possesses a strong pull toward money and knows where the money can be stolen, the crime will be committed. This is so even if there is no doubt that a theft will be followed by a punishment; the potential thief will still be incapable of realizing the full extent of the suffering that will follow the transgression.

Therefore, the person will decide that the pleasure from acquiring the money will exceed the suffering from the punishment that will follow. But when the suffering actually arrives, the thief then realizes that the suffering far exceeds expectations, and is certainly greater than the pleasure procured by the theft. At that point, the thief becomes ready to follow the law.

Once a person becomes free, a warning is given that the punishment for the next transgression will be much greater. This is done so that one does not forget the suffering that was experienced.

Thus, when the desire to steal arises again, one is reminded of both past suffering and the warning that the next punishment will be much more severe than the previous. This provides some incentive to hold oneself back from engaging in theft.

From the above example, and from many others that surround us every day, we can see that suffering directs a person to a path that otherwise would not be chosen if one were to follow the ego. It is always easier to steal than to earn, to rest than to think or to work, and to receive pleasure rather than suffer.

A person who decides to learn Kabbalah should know that it is for one’s own good. In other words, a person should realize that the ego will benefit from such actions. None of us can take upon ourselves the burden of work that is completely selfless, that does not yield money, honor, pleasures, or hope for a better future.

Moreover, we are incapable of engaging in work that does not yield any results or any fruits; that does not bestow anything upon another; that does not result in any benefit being conferred upon another, or that appears to produce only senseless efforts in empty space.

It is natural that our egoistic reason and bodies are not prepared for such a task, because they have been designed by the Creator to receive pleasure.

We are forced to feel and act “altruistically” because of the suffering we receive in our daily lives, the complete loss of any delight or desire in life, and our strong conviction that we are incapable of receiving even the smallest pleasure from our surroundings.

Thus, we try altruism in the hopes that we will find redemption on this new path. Although this new approach to life cannot be considered to be ultimate altruism, since the goal of our actions is personal well being and salvation, this approach nevertheless approximates altruism.

It allows us to proceed gradually to the desired state, under the influence of the Light that is concealed in our actions. By behaving altruistically, but still benefiting because we are giving in order to receive, we begin to perceive the Light (pleasure) that is concealed in our actions. The nature of this Light is such that it corrects us.

We can observe similar events in nature. For instance, it can rain extensively, but not in the places where the rain would yield the greatest benefit. Thus, the rain may fall in the desert, where it produces little effect, rather than in the fields, where even the slightest precipitation can give rise to a variety of crops.

Similarly, a person can be engaged in the constant reading of spiritual texts, but the fruits, the spiritual understanding of the Creator that should result from these efforts, may be elusive. On the other hand, it is possible that by investing a much smaller effort in studying the right portions of Kabbalah, one may reap a greater harvest from one’s efforts.

The same can be applied to the study of Kabbalah. If the entire process of studying is dedicated to the search for the Creator, rather than to the mere accumulation of knowledge, then the whole life-bearing effect of Kabbalah is rendered in the proper place.

But if the person is studying only to receive greater knowledge or, even worse, to display and take pride in the intellect, even Kabbalah will not yield the right results. In this case, it can, however, reveal the proper goal of studying, and thus help focus efforts in the right direction.

This process of correcting the direction of one’s thought occurs while one constantly studies Kabbalah, since every human being’s task is to steer thoughts and deeds in the right direction. By doing so, they will commune uniquely with the goal of creation. This is especially important while studying Kabbalah, since there is no stronger means of coming closer to the spiritual.

In the Bible, Egypt symbolizes the supremacy of our egoism (it is thus known as Mitzraim, from the words mitz-ra, the concentration of evil). Amalek represents the tribe that waged war against Yisrael (derived from yisra - yashar, straight, and el - Creator, that is, those who want to steer themselves directly to the Creator).

Amalek personifies our egoism, which under no circumstances wants to permit a person to become free of its power. Egoism is displayed (attacks) only in the desires of a person who attempts to depart from the Egyptian captivity (egoism). Even if one is situated at the very beginning of one’s path, Amalek will immediately bar that idividual’s passage.

A sudden increase in perceiving one’s egoism is sent only to those who are distinguished and chosen by the Creator. Only those who are selected in order to attain a higher understanding of the Creator are sent the Amalek. This is intended to invoke in these people a real need for the Creator, rather than a mere need to improve their personal qualities, or simply to "become good people."

An individual, so chosen, begins to experience great difficulties in the realm of self-improvement. The desire to study, which was so strong in the past, suddenly wanes. The body becomes heavy when faced with actions it must take. The struggle with the body (the intellect, our "I") focuses on the body’s desire to understand who is the Creator, where the body should go and why, and whether the body will benefit from each of the efforts.

Otherwise, without any benefit, neither the mind nor the body will give any energy or motivation to do something. And in this they are correct, since it is silly to carry out actions without knowing, in advance, the outcome. There is no way to transcend the limitations of our human nature and enter into the spiritual meta-world, other than by acquiring the intellect and the desires common to that meta-world.

These desires are opposite in nature to those of our world, since everything that we perceive and sense, and everything that creates the picture of "our world," is the product of our egoistic intellects and our egoistic hearts. Thus, only through the process of replacing the existing notions with opposite notions (faith replacing reason, and ‘’giving” replacing “taking”), can we enter the spiritual world.

But since we only possess those tools that we were originally created with, intellect and egoism, and since our intellect works only for the benefit of our egoism, we cannot produce the different tools of reason and perception internally. These must be obtained from the outside, from the Creator.

For this reason, the Creator draws us to Himself, showing us in the process that we are unable to alter ourselves without His help. Even though the body refuses it, we must search for, and foster, a bond with the Creator, because only this bond will facilitate our spiritual redemption.

We should not ask the Creator for the ability to see and experience miracles, falsely believing that this experience will help us overcome the self and bring an appreciation of the grandeur of the spiritual, rather than simply being overtaken by blind faith.

Kabbalah warns against such thinking when it tells the story of exodus from Egypt: When Amalek attacked the people, Moses defeated them only by raising up his hands and asking for the power of faith.

In the process of spiritual ascent, we constantly acquire a higher reason that increases with each attained level.

As a result, we must constantly increase the power of our faith, so that it is always greater than the power of the intellect; otherwise, we may once again come under the influence of egoism.

This process continues until we are clinging only to the Creator. In the final stage we attain the ultimate understanding, the utmost reception of Light (Ohr Hochma) without any gradations. It is described as "the Light that was created in the first day of creation, in which (light) the first man saw from one end of the world to another end;" and in the Kabbalah, it is said: "at the beginning of creation, everything was engulfed in the highest Light."

In other words, when the Light shines on all, without distinguishing the levels, then everything becomes clear. There is no beginning or end to this Light, there are no shades, and everything is absolutely comprehensible.

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