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The Return to the Creator

In order to implement the Divine Supervision, and thus allow free choice in man’s actions, two systems of governing were created. Opposite each positive, pure force there is always an opposing, negative, impure force. Four worlds of ABYA de kedusha (positive) were created, opposed by four negative, impure worlds of ABYA de tum'a (impurity).

In our world, the difference between the pure and the impure powers is not apparent, just as there appears to be no difference between one who is spiritually ascending towards the Creator and one who does not develop spiritually. We ourselves are not capable of knowing the truth as to whether we are progressing or remain static, and cannot determine whether a positive or a negative force is acting upon us. Therefore, an awareness and confidence that our paths are true and correct is extremely deceptive, and often we may not have chosen correctly.

But if we are at the very beginning of our spiritual journey, how can we advance correctly in order to achieve the goal of creation and the goal of our existence? Without a definite understanding of what constitutes good and evil for our final destination and for our true and eternal well being – rather than for the illusory and ephemeral gratification – how can we find the right path in this world?

All of humanity is wandering lost, as in a forest, creating mistaken theories of life’s essential goal, and how to achieve it.

Even those of us at the beginning point of the proper path have no milestones and are incapable of determining whether our thoughts and desires are correct or not.

Is it possible that the Creator would have created us without preparing us with any help for our hopeless and unsolvable state? Common sense says that it is not reasonable to create something with a clear goal and afterwards to abandon the process to the hands of such weak and blind creatures as we.

Certainly, the Creator would not have acted like this. Thus, presumably in all situations, He gave us a way to find the proper path. In fact, the only way is to go above reason. In all our paths, we experience failures and learn how not to go. We do not succeed in an action unless we first stumble. When we feel we have reached a state of despair, we need the Creator.

In fact, there exists one very important confirmation of the correctness of the chosen path, and that is the help of the Creator! Those who choose the way of the impure and egoistic ABYA do not reach their spiritual destination, lose all their strength in the process, and finally reach the barrier of ultimate despair, since they do not earn the Creator’s disclosure of the entire picture of creation.

On the other hand, those who follow the ways of the pure worlds ABYA are rewarded by the awareness and understanding of the entire Creation is given as a blessing from the Creator. These people are able to reach the highest spiritual state.

Therefore, this is the only test in our world (in our state) as to which path we should take, how we should act, and which thoughts we should choose that will help us achieve our goals, regardless of the thoughts and desires we receive from both the pure world of Assiya and the impure world of Assiya.

The difference between those who follow the right path and those who err is that the Creator will reveal Himself to the former and draw them closer, unlike the latter.

Thus, if we see that the secrets of Kabbalah do not become apparent to us, then we must conclude that this path is incorrect, though enthusiasm, strong conviction and imagination may point to another direction and indicate that we have already reached certain spiritual heights. Such an end is common among those involved in amateur studies of Kabbalah and "mystical" philosophies.

Our entire path of spiritual ascension along the stages of the worlds ABYA can be described as an alternating exertion of force, emanating from each consecutive stage at which we find ourselves at any given moment. Each of these forces is denoted by a particular letter of the Hebrew alphabet. That is, each letter symbolizes a spiritual force that governs a certain stage in the worlds ABYA. But only one force is able to save us and free us from the domain of egoistic desires. That force is the blessing of the Creator, denoted by the letter bet.

There is no opposite corresponding force in the impure worlds of ABYA, since the blessing originates from the one and only Creator, and there can be nothing equal to Him in any impure world of ABYA. Therefore, the world exists only through the blessing of the Creator, and only this blessing can illuminate the distinction between good and evil, or more precisely, between that which brings good to a person and that which works to the person’s detriment.

Only with the Creator’s blessing can one distinguish pure forces from impure forces, and overcome the impure along one’s entire life path towards the end of creation. This clearly demonstrates whether one is deceiving oneself, or is truly moving into the spiritual worlds.

Every force in the realm of impure forces of evil exists only because it receives sustenance from a force corresponding to, but opposite the one existing in the realm of pure forces. The only exception is the force derived from the blessing of the Creator.

Thus, this world could not have been created with any force except the One springing from the blessing of the Creator. Without being diminished in the process, this Force emanates from the Creator and permeates the entire spectrum of the worlds, reaching all the way down to the lowest stage of the worlds – ours.

This Force is able to rectify the creations, giving them the strength to improve themselves and begin to ascend spiritually. It is with the aid of this Force that the universe was created; therefore impure egoistic forces can neither diminish its power nor use it to their own advantage, since the impure forces have an effect only where the pure forces are weak.

Hence, the ultimately pure Force helps us distinguish between pure and impure thoughts, since as soon as our thoughts are directed away from the Creator, the power of the Force of the blessing disappears.

The sounds of the letters (nekudot) symbolize the outpouring of Light, the perception of the Creator. Any perception of the Creator, any spiritual sentiment comprises ten sefirot. Starting from the highest of these ( Keter), the sounds correspond to the following gradation: 1 - kamatz; 2 - patah; 3 - segol; 4 - tseireh; 5 - shva; 6 - holam; 7 - hirek; 8 - kubutz; 9 - shuruk; 10 - without sound, that is, corresponding to Malchut – the last stage of perception, which never becomes filled.

Sometimes, in the process of advancing towards the goal to draw closer to the Creator, we suddenly feel weak, since we lack knowledge of the Kabbalah and are unable to perform any unselfish acts. Instead, our thoughts are only concerned with our success in this world.

We then fall into despair and tell ourselves that the ability to draw close to the Creator was given to special people with special powers from birth, as well as qualities, thoughts and desires appropriate to this goal, and whose hearts yearn for Kabbalah and for self-improvement.

But afterwards another feeling arises – the awareness that everyone has a place prepared for them beside the Creator, and that everyone, sooner or later will merit spiritual pleasures by clinging to the Creator. We will then rise out of our despair, and become aware that the Creator is "All Able" and plans the path of every one, knows what each one of us feels, leads us, and awaits our turning towards Him with a request to draw closer to Him.

Afterwards, we will recall that more than once we had said this to ourselves, but nothing had changed. In the end, we remain immersed in thoughts of our despicable weakness and insignificance. Later, we come to realize that this feeling was sent to us by the Creator in order that we can overcome it.

We then begin working on improving ourselves, using all the will we possess. Suddenly, we receive from the future condition to which we aspire. This means that the Light of the future state is shining from afar, since it cannot shine from within as long as our desires remain egoistic in nature. The Light (spiritual pleasure) cannot enter and shine (please us) in such desires.

As creations, we are a concentrated essence of egoistic desires, and are known as human beings.

The Creator, on the other hand, is totally removed from anything egoistic. Therefore, returning to the Creator, clinging to Him, and becoming aware of Him, all come as a result of becoming equivalent in form to Him. Such a return to the Creator is called a "higher return."

This is the reason that a return to the Creator, a merging with the Creator, an awareness of the Creator can be considered as nothing other than concurring with Him in certain qualities. It is this return to the Creator that is known as tshuva.

One can determine that such a return has been achieved only if the Creator Himself "testifies" to it. What is this testimony? It is that one now has the ability to constantly feel His presence, which makes it possible to be with the Creator in all thoughts.

In this manner, one can tear oneself away from the desires of the body.

Only we as individuals can feel whether indeed we have returned to the Creator.

The strength gained when one perceives the Creator enables us to gradually return to the Creator completely, and to alter all the egoistic desires to altruistic ones.

The more "bad" desires we possess at the beginning of our path, the more self-improvement we can undertake, and consequently, the closer we can come to the Creator. This is why we should never lament our bad qualities, but rather ask for their correction. We should turn to this way of thinking every time thoughts of worthlessness come to mind.

All of these thoughts are awakened in us as a result of feeling distant from the Creator, and the Creator sends these feelings to us, and not to others, but only if we are ready to receive them. Others don’t consider themselves wicked, and don’t perceive their egoism. On the contrary, they are convinced that they are righteous.

These thoughts are not sent by the Creator to make us suffer or fall into despair, but rather to encourage us to call out to the Creator, demanding to be liberated from ourselves and our weaknesses.

Every time we again feel worthless and weak – having already experienced the same feelings in the past – we will remember that we need not return to those feelings of failure and defeat. We must be reminded that each time we go through this process, we undergo new corrections, which accumulate until the Creator Himself gathers them together.

All of these negative feelings of ours concerning our distance from the Creator, our dissatisfaction with our spiritual path, our complaints about the many deadlocked states – we experience all of these to the degree required for us to merit the awareness of the Creator and the pleasures emanating from Him. It is then that the "gates of tears" are flung open, and it is only through them that we can enter the halls of the Creator.

Even if we become overwhelmed by the powerful reactions and stubbornness of our egos, we should not decide that the Creator did not give us sufficient strength to cope with them, or that we were born lacking talent, patience, equanimity and sharpness of mind. Nor should we lament that the Creator did not give us the appropriate conditions for correcting ourselves, thus being unable to accomplish that which someone else could have done.

It is also forbidden for us to decide that these sufferings are a result of our former sins, or that this is “our lot,” or that actions in a previous incarnation have led to this state. We are also forbidden to give up hope and do nothing, since if we properly use the minimal strength and talents that we have, we will be very successful.

We will need every trait that the Creator gave us, even the most lowly, both today and in the future, to accomplish our goal: the correction of the soul. This process is similar to planting a seed. If it is planted in fertile soil and is properly cared for, then the seed will sprout, grow, and bring forth its fruit. Therefore, we need both a good mentor and good soil (environment) in order that all of our traits should develop and balance, with each and every trait combining to create a proper relationship to help us achieve our main goal.

Every question that is awakened in us is sent by the Creator, Who awaits the correct answer from us. The answer to the questions of the body and the mind, the egotistic questions such as "What for?" and "What do I gain from it?" have only one answer – an answer that the body does not understand: "It is the Will of the Creator that I should reach Him in this way."

All the words of Kabbalah and all the advice it provides are concerned with only one issue: how we can reach the Creator and unite with Him. All our deficiencies stem from our inability to sense the greatness of the Creator. Having just begun to aspire to come closer to Him, we already want to experience Him in our senses.

But this is impossible until we have a screen (masach) that refuses the Light of the Creator. This exists as long as we do not have vessels of bestowal. And as long as we do not have these qualities of bestowal, we are only able to have a feeling of the Creator from afar, which is called "surrounding Light," which can shine from afar on who is still distant in qualities from those of the Creator.

The surrounding Light is always greater than the inner Light, which is gained through the help of a screen, given that one possesses certain altruistic qualities. The Surrounding Light is the Creator Himself, while the inner Light (the soul) is only that "part" of the Creator that an individual can acquire after improving one’s own qualities to a certain degree.

So how can we receive the Light of the Creator when we have not yet repaired our dispositions? The answer is simple: only by intensifying the illumination of the Surrounding Light. In other words, we will achieve this only by increasing the exaltedness and importance of the Creator in our eyes by constantly yearning to sense the Creator as the source of all existence and everything that is done.

We must understand that everything that happens to us is an act of God, and that there is nothing in the world other than Him. All of our efforts should be concentrated on this: to not think that what happens to us is through chance, or fate, or a consequence of our prior actions, or the will of others. We must exert ourselves not to forget the Creator.

Under no circumstance should we interpret the text of any section of the Bible (The Five Books of Moses) according to our own perceptions, likening the description of events to the events in our own world.

For example, as I have written in my previous books, "the evil Lavan" mentioned in the Bible is the highest level of the soul being filled with the light of the Creator. "Pharaoh" is a symbol of the totality of our egoism.

Another example can be found in the Bible where it tells how a certain person by the name of Ptachia came into a city and gathered around him empty people, and all of them went with him to the desert. The name Ptachia derives from the verb "liftoach" (to open) – a person who opens people’s eyes.

He gathered all the "empty" people – people who feel emptiness in their lives. "He took them from the city to the desert" – he opened up the desert in their lives in order, as it is written in the Bible: " Lech acharai ba midbar."

"Lech" (Go) says the Creator to the person, "acharai ba midbar" (after me in the desert) – with the feeling that your life without perception of the spiritual is like a desert without a drop of water, that the small spark of redemption from the feeling of emptiness will seem to you like "a cool spring on your exhausted soul."

A further example can be found in the Passover Haggada (story) on the exodus from Egypt, from the spiritual captivity of Pharaoh – our egoism. "Pharaoh died" – finally the person sees that his egoism is not for his good, that it kills him, and obligates him to serve it all of his life. This principle now, in his eyes, "dies." And as long as he does not recognize that his egoism is his sole enemy, he thinks that his life and servitude in Egypt (captivity to the desires of the body) was a good and favorable condition. And even afterwards, occasionally (during spiritual downfalls) he cries for the "plates of meat and bread" that he had in Egypt, namely, that served his egoism in abundance.

As long as Pharaoh (the egoism in the heart of a person), the king (who ruled over all the thoughts and desires of a person) of Egypt was alive, he dictated against the person’s will what all of the person’s desires and actions would be. This person is said to be found “in the exile (imprisonment) of Egypt,” captive to various egoistic desires (mitsraim deriving from the words mitz-ra – "a concentration of evil").

We, ourselves, are not able to understand that the nature that rules over us is bad. And this is only as long as the Creator has not yet created good for the person of "And behold, Pharaoh died."

He gives us those life experiences that allow us to recognize that egoism is our enemy. Only then will this symbol of evil die, and we will feel that we are incapable of existing as we once did, working for nothing.

And "the sons of Israel groaned because of the servitude and they cried out" – they did this only after realizing they were not even able to move without some egoistic benefit for themselves, and had not yet gained a spiritual, altruistic nature.

"And their cry for help from their servitude rose up to God, and God heard our voice" – this occurs only if one truly cries out from the very depths of the soul, and this is possible only if the person reached the outermost limits of patience and suffering.

Only then does the Creator send help, and this help always arrives unexpectedly. An individual can never know in advance which tear will be the last one; all tears should be shed as if they were the last. As for the help of the Creator – "yeshuat haShem keheref ay’in" – it appears suddenly and always unexpectedly!

The Zohar is considered by many to be a moral teaching based on the Kabbalah, since it is written in the language of the commandments, prescribing what an individual should do. It is clear that by defining the book of Zohar in such way, people attempt to deny its mystical, concealed essence.

The authors of the Zohar have written this book, which deals only with the composition and the operation of the spiritual worlds, in a deliberately scholastic and legalistic language. This was intended to leave no doubt in the readers’ minds that the main purpose of Kabbalah is not the wisdom itself, but the "dispenser of the wisdom." In fact, the main purpose of Kabbalah and of the spiritual laws is to develop our need for the Creator, and for us to wish to come closer to Him in the qualities of the soul.

All the obstacles that we encounter in our path towards the Creator, in order to enter the spiritual realm, are actually signs of our drawing closer to the Creator, to the gates of the spiritual. This is because there is no situation that is further removed from the Creator than when we do not think at all about the existence of the spiritual realm, or are incapable of wanting to experience it.

When we feel distant from the spiritual realm, this is because the Creator has let us become aware of our true state, and in this way awakens in us a desire for closeness to Him. And if these feelings of distance from the Creator were not awakened within us, we would have no chance whatsoever to begin to draw close to Him.

Therefore, these feelings of distance are a sign of beginning to draw closer. And so it goes throughout the entire path of one’s advance towards the Creator: we constantly experience all types of obstacles. In reality, these obstacles are nothing other than the Creator helping us by awakening in us feelings of anger and dissatisfaction with our present state, to cause us to request Him to change it.

All of the obstacles that we must overcome in drawing closer to the Creator are necessary for getting used to following the path of being distanced – recognizing our egoism and separation from the Creator. Still, this feeling should not really alter our actions.

Instead, we should recognize in advance that this feeling reveals our true state, and that the previous state was no better than the present one, although there was no awareness of this fact at the time. And so it goes, until we stop focusing on our concerns about our condition, and replace them with thoughts and desires concentrating on a single desire: to care only about how the Creator looks upon us.

This desire should determine all our actions and thoughts. And what the Creator wishes to see in each of us becomes clear as one studies Kabbalah and follows all the directions of the spiritual laws in order to reach this ultimate goal. Then all the spiritual laws become a tool for unification with the Creator.

Until we begin to measure all of our actions and thoughts against the desires of the Creator, we are actually measuring all the actions against the desires of others who impose their will upon us, thus defining our thoughts and actions. Never are we free to act on our own.

Either we are influenced by others who determine our behavior and actions, or our thoughts and actions are dictated by the will of the Creator. Never can we act in absolute freedom. The concealment of the Creator from us is done for our own benefit.

Just as in our own world every object not fully explored attracts us more than an object thoroughly examined, so the veiling of the spiritual world is indispensable to induce us to heighten our desire to nurture a sense of importance of attaining the understanding of the spiritual world.

We are never truly able to comprehend the greatness of the Creator and the spiritual worlds that constitute a partial revelation of the Creator. But precisely due to His concealment, or the extent to which the Creator grants us a sense of concealment and distance, our desire to perceive the Creator becomes aroused, as well as how important it is to strive to understand that which is concealed.

On the other hand, the degree of concealment is determined by a particular person’s need to attain that which is hidden. Thus, one gradually becomes aware of how important it is to reach that which is concealed, until one begins to feel removed from the object of one’s passionate desire .

The path to attaining what is hidden through Kabbalah is unlike any other experience in this world. For example, when one is honored, this fills the ego and consequently causes great damage to the soul. The damage is considered to be so great that prominent righteous people who gained immense popularity and acquired followers considered that such fame had actually been a punishment from the Creator.

On the other hand, there are those great ones whom the Creator wishes to protect so that they do not forfeit even the slightest amount of their spiritual level. To these, the Creator sends not only followers but also those who hate them, envy them, oppose their views, and are ever ready to slander them. Thus the Creator balances the praise and honor received by these great ones with the suffering they experience at the hands of their contemporaries.

It is difficult for one who has not yet entered the spiritual realm and has not yet perceived spiritual strength and desires, to sustain actions and thoughts in the right direction. In contrast, it is easy and natural for a person to act in accordance with the nature of the spiritual worlds if that person has received spiritual strength and entered the spiritual realm, thus acquiring a higher disposition.

At the time of a spiritual decline, all former spiritual achievements disappear.

The wish to serve the Creator and to reunite with Him, the wish to battle with oneself and to remain only in the state of spiritual ascent – all these disappear. Even the memory of these spiritual achievements disappears, as well as the awareness that a desire for spiritual ascent can exist.

One feels that, if these things truly exist, it is only by lofty and exalted thoughts that they can be maintained, while shielding oneself from the multitude of petty and minor pleasures of this world. But most ordinary people, to whose ranks one feels that one belongs at such a time, have other worries and aims in this world besides spiritual yearnings.

And how can a simple person such as myself, one asks, even dream of having a bond with the Creator, not to mention a close attachment with Him? The possibility itself seems absurd and remote.

It is of moments like these that it has been said: "Where you find the greatness of the Creator, you will also find His modesty," since the Creator gives to each of His creations the possibility to unite with Him. And after the passage of some time, when those who were dejected soar spiritually once again, they must never forget this state of moral decline, so that they can truly appreciate the highly spiritual state of aspiring to unite with the Creator – the personal, individual gift from the Creator.

In such a case, there will be no need to experience this state of spiritual decline ever again, because through constant work on oneself, through an elevation of faith over reason, through learning and the observance of an established order of actions and thoughts, a person will thus create a spiritual vessel for a gradual spiritual ascent.

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