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Preface to the Book of Zohar

1. The depth of wisdom and learning contained in the Holy Book of Zohar is concealed behind a thousand locked gates.

Why is it “concealed behind a thousand locked gates”? In actual fact, no one conceals anything; everything exists within the framework of the natural laws of the creation. Unlike in this world, there is no key that can unlock the gates to enter where one may or may not be. The spiritual world is completely open; a person just advances from one spiritual level to another, and leaves one realm to enter the next in accordance with the way he changes his own properties.

In our world an object can be moved from one place to another by way of mechanical displacement, whereas in the spiritual world we need to make an inner motion in order to pass from one part of the world to another. This is what they call a locked gate; as long as the person is con fined to one part, the next one remains concealed, “locked” from him.

What can be done to open it? Transform yourself in accordance with the part you wish to enter, and then you will get inside. It is pretty simple. Everything exists within man. By inwardly using his potential abilities, anyone can easily move in spiritual space, from his present state to the state of perfect infinity and merging with the Creator.

All wisdom consists in the method of advancing in spiritual space. Hence it is said that the depth of wisdom is “concealed behind a thousand locked gates”. It is not concealed behind any kind of external gate.

All the locks and keys are within us. Carrying out inner actions correctly and opening the locks with our own inner keys is our method. This is the purpose of studying “The Book of Zohar” and the wisdom of Kabbalah as a whole.

Human language, being poor and meager, can serve us neither as a suitable instrument, nor a sufficient means of expression for uncovering the full meaning of even a single sentence in “The Book of Zohar”.

This means that even if we take the smallest phrase from “The Zohar”, which seems quite clear to us, the interpretation of it will definitely depend on our level of attainment. By gradually developing our inner potential, by adapting ourselves to various spiritual laws and properties, we will begin to discover great depth in every word, phrase, or sentence of the book, and not the actions and phenomena that we perceive today. Depth of perception depends solely on the researcher’s level of attainment.

My explanations are only the rungs of a ladder.

The structure of the commentary to “The Book of Zohar” resembles a ladder. This does not mean that the first volume of the book is intended for beginners and the last for the most advanced students. Every sentence, every word in the text includes inner levels of attainment of all the described actions and states.

The text is composed in such a way that the reader gradually discovers an increasingly clearer picture. He should only aspire for discovering some inner information concealed in the book. That is all man can understand at this stage, but this initial tune up is quite sufficient for the book to begin affecting us in this way.

I intended to help the student attain the heights from which he may see and investigate what the Book itself expounds. Therefore, in this preface, I find it necessary to prepare the student interested in “The Zohar” by providing him with correct definitions, to demonstrate how to study the book and learn from it.

In other words, the goal of studying “The Zohar” is to attain the Upper World, to feel and control it, to begin living not just within the limits of this world, but to enter a greater, eternal and perfect realm.

2. At the outset, one should be aware that every concept discussed in “The Book of Zohar”, whether in the language of legends or tales, concerns the Ten Sefirot: i.e., KaHaB (Keter, Hochma, and Bina), HaGaT (Hessed, Gevura, and Tifferet), NHYM (Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut), and their derivatives. Just as the spoken language, consisting of the 22 letters with their various permutations, are entirely adequate for uncovering the essence of any object or learning, so too are the concepts and permutations of the Ten Sefirot sufficient to expose the entire wisdom contained in the spiritual universe.

From the study of the four phases of development of the direct light, we know that these phases (zero, one, two, three, and four) are respectively called “the tip of the letter Yud”, the letters “Yud”, “Hey”, “Vav”, and “Hey”. They make up the word HaVaYaH, the Creator’s ineffable name.

What does HaVaYaH, the Creator’s name, mean? These symbols contain the information about the entire universe. The rest happens to be their various interpretations. If we describe them as Sefirot, they will correspond to Keter, Hochma, Bina, Zeir Anpin (ZA) and Malchut. We then further divide the Sefira ZA into six the Sefirot Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, and Yesod. Thus these Ten Sefirot are all that we have. Keter, the Creator’s attitude to the creation, is followed by the Sefirot-derivatives, the last of which is Malchut, the creation. Accordingly, the Creator’s attitude to the creation descends from Keter to Malchut, while the creation’s attitude to the Creator ascends in the opposite direction, from Malchut to Keter. All that is included in the Ten Sefirot is called the Soul or the Partzuf. This is all we deal with.

We know nothing beyond that. We can only perceive what enters inside us, and call it our life.

Baal HaSulam says that the combinations of the Sefirot and their various, partially used sub- Sefirot are quite sufficient to describe all possible states, actions, and properties of everything that takes place between the Creator and the creation.

In our reality, there are three definitions.

In fact, they are not definitions, but, rather, limitations, which we need to understand properly. When we dispose ourselves to “The Book of Zohar” through these three limitations, we understand what it says, and can penetrate its deeper form.

3. First definition (limitation).

There exist four categories of knowledge called:

If we move outside from within in our analysis, we find that the essence, abstract form, form, and matter are dressed on one another. This is how we perceive any object in our world.

For instance, here is my cup, which has the form of a vessel (Hebrew: Kli). The matter of which it is made is clay. When I speak of it without any reference to its shape or material it is made of, I refer to its abstract form as a Kli. In general, what is a glass or a cup? I speak about something abstract, unconnected with a particular, concrete object. Then the essence follows, a category, something that constitutes the notion of a cup, a Kli for me.

These are the four degrees of inner attainment of any definition, object, action, or property.

It is the same with regard to the Ten Sefirot. One must be aware that the Book of Zohar does not concern itself at all with such concepts as the Essence of the Sefirot or their Abstract Form. Rather, since the Form is the carrier of Matter, the book discusses either the Form of the Sefirot or the Matter they contain.

If we take essence, abstract form, form in matter and matter (in the order they descend to this world), our attainment starts from matter and rises up. Baal HaSulam says that “The Zohar” only speaks of the first two levels of attainment, matter and form in matter. So this is the first of our limitations pertaining to the study of “The Zohar”.

4. Second definition (limitation).

Everything existing in the Divine reality that is concerned with the creation of Souls and their forms of existence is conditioned by the following three states:

The World of Infinity is absolutely divine and refers both to the state before the Tzimtzum Aleph and to the state of Final Correction.

The World of Atzilut is the World of our correction. While being corrected itself, it represents the basis, the source of our life and betterment.

The Worlds of BYA are the realm in which we exist.

Know that “The Book of Zohar” investigates only the Worlds of BYA (Beria, Yetzira and Assiya) and nothing else. It touches on the Worlds of Infinity and Atzilut only to the degree that the Worlds of BYA receive from them. Otherwise, “The Book of Zohar” does not concern itself with them at all.

The Worlds of Infinity and Atzilut by themselves are of no interest to us. What we do need to know is where we are and how these worlds can help us.

“The Book of Zohar” always speaks about a practical application of everything that we study. It only deals with what is attained in man’s Soul, which exists, acts, rules and facilitates man’s correction, but never speaks of anything abstract.

Consequently, our approach to “The Zohar” should be purely practical. We should dispose ourselves so that the light it emanates can clearly indicate what we need to correct.

The essence and abstract form refer to what is above our correction. We will attain it as well, but later on, after the Final Correction; hence “The Book of Zohar” does not speak about it. Neither does it mention the Worlds of Infinity and Atzilut, where we ascend after the Final Correction. This is not our current task.

Our mission is to go through 6000 years (levels) of correction; therefore “The Zohar” speaks only about this process. It describes me and, through me, the World of Infinity and Atzilut, dealing only with what concerns me in my matter and form. Nothing at all is said of what exists without being somehow connected with me.

5. Third definition (limitation):

In each of the Worlds of BYA, there are three aspects:

The Ten Sefirot constitute the descending pure light in the form of gradually diminishing emanations. Thus, to the extent of our ability to communicate with these Ten Sefirot, we perceive the light. The Souls dressed on these Ten Sefirot exist within the reality that surrounds them. This way, one element is inside another. There are Souls of two kinds: Upper and human. At a later stage we will understand the notion of “the Upper Souls.”

The rest of the surrounding reality is comprised of “angels,” “robes,” and “palaces.”

These are the inferior spiritual forces that surround the human Soul. Their names indicate resemblance to our world: “angels” are similar to animals; “robes” are the forces that are external with regard to man, but very close to him; in similarity to our world, “palaces” are the forces that constitute man’s more remote surroundings.

In any case, one should know that, although “The Book of Zohar” meticulously explains every minute detail of every world…

However, one should not deceive oneself thinking that everything is explained about all the worlds. “The Zohar” reveals and expounds only that, which concerns one aspect – the human Souls, and completely ignores everything that pertains to the Ten Sefirot or surrounds the Soul (i.e., the Upper Souls, angels, robes, and palaces).

Any other aspect that may be expounded or explained is done so only for the purpose of understanding what it is that Souls receive. “The Book of Zohar” does not utter even a single word about anything that does not relate to Souls.

These three fundamental aspects serve as our point of departure:

If we remain within the framework of these three limitations, we will understand correctly what “The Book of Zohar” wishes to provide us with. Thus, we will accurately receive its message through the channel that descends from it to us, and establish contact with the book.

We will neither demand something that is absent in it, nor something that we do not need. We will receive from it only what is necessary for our correction. Every single word in it speaks exactly about it. For example, if a person with a philosophical frame of mind tries to understand abstractly what is written in the book, he will definitely fail. Hence, “The Zohar” seems to be “concealed behind a thousand locked gates.”

If the person wishes to reveal something about the abstract form and the essence, but has not yet achieved the necessary spiritual level, he will not be able to do that from the level of our world by way of philosophical reasoning. To this end, he will have to reach the proper level in the World of Atzilut or the World of Infinity, and begin his research there. In general, “The Book of Zohar” has nothing to do with these issues; it exclusively studies the process of our correction. Once we have corrected ourselves and attained the Upper Reality, we will attain all additional knowledge about the abstract form, the essence, the Worlds of Atzilut and Infinity, the Ten Sefirot, the Upper Souls, angels, robes, and palaces.

“The Zohar” cannot tell us about all this until, with its help, we correct matter and form in matter, i.e., the worlds BYA, in which our Souls exist. Only after the created desire is corrected will it be possible to say how it attains the higher spiritual levels. As long as this desire continues to remain egoistic, it will be unable to grasp anything above its own level.

Naturally, it will not reach the level of the abstract form or the essence in the Worlds of Atzilut and Infinity, because it already means to possess the property of bestowal. Neither will it be able to attain what exists beyond the human Souls, especially in the ten divine Sefirot, in the pure light that emanates from the Creator.

“The Book of Zohar” is written is such a way that it can adequately and positively influence the person who wishes to receive its energy in the right way, i.e., in order to be corrected. Unless the person has this intention as regards “The Zohar”, then he just leafs through its pages being unaware of the great power that the book emanates.

It is so focused that its light affects us only on condition that we aspire for correction and attainment of the Upper World. The method of establishing contact with the Upper Source of correction is called Kabbalah. All that it includes is given only for attuning oneself to the Upper Light.

6. You already know that the Ten Sefirot are called Hochma, Bina, Tifferet, Malchut and their root, Keter. They are ten because Tifferet consists of six Sefirot called Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, and Yesod. Remember always that when we mention the Ten Sefirot, we mean HuBTuM.

That is, Hochma, Bina, Tifferet, and Malchut. As a rule, even the name is Keter omitted, because Keter represents the Creator. It is attained from the four subsequent Sefirot: Hochma, Bina, Tifferet, and Malchut.

Keter is not even designated by a letter, but by a hook-like tip of the prospective letter “Yud”. This is similar to the descending light: the moment it begins to create something, it turns into phase one.

The light being unattainable by itself, we therefore pay no attention to it. We can speak about its property of bestowal, when we feel it inside our Kli. In phase two we say that it bestows delight upon us. So in the first case, we speak of what the light is in itself, and in the second – what it gives us.

7. In “The Book of Zohar” these Ten Sefirot, HuBTuM, are called by the names of four colors: white, red, green, and black.

In our world these Sefirot create the four basic colors.

This is similar to an optical instrument that has four lenses with colors corresponding to the ones mentioned above. In spite of the fact that the light is unified, while passing through a lens, it acquires a color and becomes one of the four lights: white, red, green or black.

Thus, the light that is found in each of the Sefirot is the Creator’s light, simple and unified. In actual fact, it (i.e., the Ten Sefirot) is completely colorless.

The ten (innermost) Sefirot of the direct light have no color, but when they pass through the worlds, they acquire different colors, dress into various shells, and thus manifest before us. That is how we perceive this world.

We can describe the same in a different way. There is only the simple, absolutely amorphous light around us. However, in our inner properties we single out in it such pictures as the still, vegetative, animal, and human levels of nature, the worlds, etc. This is achieved with the help of our inner Kelim. There is nothing like that in the light itself.

Thus, the light that is found in each of the Sefirot is the light of the Creator. This light is simple and unified, from the Rosh (head) of the World of Atzilut to the Sof (end) of the World of Assiya. The differentiation of this light into the Sefirot HuBTuM happens in the Kelim (vessels), also called HuBTuM. Each Kli (Sefira) is like a thin partition through which the light of the Creator passes. This is the way each Kli (partition) imparts a different color to the passing light. Thus, the Kli de Hochma of the World of Atzilut passes white light. This is because the Kli de Atzilut (vessel of Atzilut) is similar to the light itself, and the light of the Creator does not suffer any changes while passing through it.

This is the secret of the World of Atzilut about which “The Book of Zohar” says: “He, the Light, and His Essence are One”. In accordance with this, the light of the World of Atzilut is defined as white light. However, concerning the Kelim of the Worlds of Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya, the light passing through them changes and darkens. Consider, for example, that the light becomes the red light of the Sefira Bina in the World of Beria, the green light of Tifferet in the World of Yetzira and the black light of Sefira Malchut in the World of Assiya, respectively.

There are other Kelim already; hence, the light assumes color. This happens because the Kelim in the Worlds of Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya (as in Bina, ZA, and Malchut) are partially or completely uncorrected with regard to the light. If “The Zohar” speaks of colors, we can interpret them as the properties of the Sefirot. For instance, when we speak about the color green, it means that the property of ZA is implied, and we are at its level or receive through it.

8. In addition to what was mentioned above, the allegory of the four lights contains an additional important hint. The Upper Lights are called “Sefer” (book).

The wisdom contained in each book is not revealed to the student in the white color it contains…

The light descending to us from the Creator carries its wisdom, reveals itself. This wisdom is not attained from the clear, white color of the light of the Ten Sefirot, or from the essence. It is attained from matter and the form in matter, from the Worlds of BYA, through our Souls, i.e., from Malchut’s reaction to what descends from above. Hence, we cannot grasp the colorless light of er or the simple light of Atzilut, but attain them through the Worlds of Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya, through black, green, and red colors.

These very colors give us an idea of what Infinity, eternity, and perfection are. Although by themselves these properties are colorless, we are totally unable to attain this achromatism. We can only grasp it after we include in ourselves all the existing colors and the immense variety of their combinations, after they intermix within our completely corrected Kelim.

Each of these colors takes its own place in the Kelim. Only from absolute attainment, as a result of absorbing the entire palette of colors, do we first come to color white, and then to absolute achromatism.

In other words, we do not attain the color white. We reveal everything through the Sefirot Bina, Tifferet and Malchut. These three Sefirot, which are the three Worlds of BYA, are the colors in which the Book of Heaven is written. The letters and their permutations are revealed through the three colors mentioned above. The revelation of Divine light is mediated only through them.

Moreover, we must discern the following. While the white color in a book is its foundation, all the letters are “wedded” to it.

Since the page of a book is white, the black letters stand out against its background. They seem to be stuck to it, while the white color supports them. By concealing the white color of the page, by violating its absolute whiteness, the letters pass us their wisdom.

As a result, we perceive not the color, but the Kli, the letters that we read. In other words, we read not the letters themselves, but the deviations we introduce into the light, i.e., black, green, and red shapes, where, as we see, the light is absent. We perceive the white color even through its absence, because we are created beings and perceive everything out of our deficiencies (Hesronot), desires.

All wisdom is in the World of Atzilut because Atzilut is the World of Hochma. Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya correspond to Bina, ZA, and Malchut. The World of Adam Kadmon (AK) is Keter.

The Worlds of Infinity and AK are the same with regard to us because all that is above Tzimtzum Bet and is not included in Tzimtzum Aleph is unattainable for us before the Final Correction. From this it follows that both worlds are included into the notion of the World of Infinity. We only attain the World of Atzilut through the Worlds of BYA because it is a form corrected by Tzimtzum Bet.

9. “The Zohar” says that we attain the World of Atzilut as white and its luminescence as letters against a white background in the three Worlds of BYA. These three worlds are the colors, the letters and their permutations, as in a book. This is manifested in two ways: if the three Worlds of BYA receive the light of Atzilut in their place (under the Parsa).

That is, the World of Atzilut is a mount, while all the letters, colors and their permutations are determined by our coordinates in the Worlds of Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya. As the light of Infinity passes through the World of Atzilut and enters the Worlds of BYA, we can be in and receive the light in them, or we can rise to Atzilut and receive the light there.

We can freely move within the Worlds of BYA: from Assiya to Yetzira to Beria, and even to Atzilut. Our Souls can move provided they transform their inner properties. The Soul rises to the level to which its inner properties correspond.

If the three Worlds of BYA receive luminescence from the World of Atzilut while in their place, when the light is diminished many times over while passing through the Parsa under the World of Atzilut, then it becomes merely the luminescence of the Kelim de Atzilut.

That is, the Kelim of the World of Atzilut slightly shine in the Worlds of BYA. The light that passes from Atzilut to the Worlds of BYA is called “ Ohr de Tolada” (light of birth), i.e., microscopic luminescence in comparison with the light in the World of Atzilut.

Otherwise, the Worlds of BYA (with the Souls in them) rise above the Parsa to the place of the Sefirot Bina, Tifferet, and Malchut of Atzilut, and “clothe” the World of Atzilut, i.e., receive the light, where it shines.

In this case, they certainly receive the light of Atzilut. First, we need to enter into the Worlds of BYA, reach their highest point in the World of Beria, get as close to the Parsa as possible, and force all the Worlds of BYA to rise to Atzilut. Together with the Worlds of BYA we will ascend to the World of Atzilut and receive the light that is there.

10. All the same, this allegory does not completely reflect the essence, because the book of wisdom of this world consists of a white background and the color of the letters in which there is no spirit (Ruach) of life.

Actually, the allegory about the World of Atzilut is as a white page, and the attainment in the Worlds of BYA, being similar to letters, is pretty lifeless. It does not convey the vast breathtaking picture that man attains when he enters into these worlds, feels new spiritual universes, the Upper Souls, angels, palaces. He discovers a wonderful, effervescent life, reveals the forces that govern not our tiny world, but the immense universe.

Naturally, this example fails to express such sensations. Why is it so? Baal HaSulam says: …because the book of wisdom of this world consists of a white background and the color of the letters in which there is no spirit of life. The revelation of wisdom (in our sensations) is not within their essence, but outside of them, i.e., in the intellect of the one studying them.

As we ascend from the Worlds of BYA to the World of Atzilut and attain the heavenly wisdom, it exists not on paper, not outside us in some book, but turns into reality that permeates and surrounds us as a result of our inner changes.

In accordance with this, one must be aware that the color white contained in the book is a subject of study in and of itself, and the function of the other three colors is to manifest it.

This is a very important sentence. I advise you to look at it closely.

Here I would like to remind you that we are one group that exists for the sake of achieving one Goal. There are many of us, and we wish to help each other. Only by joining our forces and desires will we be able to fulfill this great mission.

Baal HaSulam writes that when we combine our efforts and aspirations, then each of us frees himself from an existence inside a closed shell. Thus we create one common Kli of such enormity that, while passing through the Worlds of BYA to Atzilut, we attain not the colors of Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya, but the white background of Atzilut. In other words, we reach a state where we transcend the limits of matter and the form in matter, and begin attaining the abstract form – something that is completely inapprehensible in our world.

While reading books in this world only, we attain the wisdom contained in the letters. By reading a book in the spiritual world, we adapt the letters within ourselves and build our inner properties, configure our inner forces, and define the combinations of our Sefirot. While passing from letter to letter, from word to word, from phrase to phrase in the books recommended by Kabbalists, we inwardly perform spiritual actions.

By creating these letters within ourselves, we attain through them the white background, i.e., absolute wisdom, the level of Hochma. This is the difference between the attainment of spiritual and earthly wisdom. The earthly wisdom is concentrated in our inner Kelim, in our knowledge, whereas the spiritual wisdom enables us to attain the light in our sensations, to the extent of similarity of our inner Kelim to the properties of light.

11. It should always be borne in mind that there are four categories of knowledge, which were mentioned above, in the first limitation, namely:

I will explain them first using actual examples from this world. For example, when we say a: “strong person”, or “truthful person”, or “liar” etc., we discern between the following:

12. Know that the essence of a person, as such, is quite impossible to perceive without his material embodiment, as discussed in the first limitation.

This is because our five senses and our imagination do not offer us anything more than the revelation of the actions of the essence, but not of the essence itself.

That is, we do not perceive the essence, which is purely divine. We can more or less abstractly attain whatever derives from it, but not the essence itself.

…because our five senses and our imagination do not offer us anything more than the revelation of the actions of the essence, but not of the essence itself.

For example:

When I am looking at an object, I do not know what it really is. I only perceive it as waves that it reflects. They return to me and create a certain form in my perception.

The sound comes from something beyond me. That is, I know nothing about the source of the sound; I have no clue as to what it is by itself. I can only judge it by the way I perceive it.

Everything depends on our nerve receptors and on how they transmit to us this or that smell.

These four senses offer us nothing but the revelation of actions emanating from some essence. It never reveals the essence itself.

I have said on numerous occasions that the person, his “I”, resembles a black box with five points of entry, our five senses. We perceive only that which enters through them from outside. Moreover, as we have just noted, we perceive not what enters inside, but what is detected by special membranes positioned at the entry (it is unclear how this external influence reaches us considering our inner limitations), which somehow pass the electrical signals to our brain. That is we selectively perceive the reaction of our senses to some external influence.

Naturally, if one of our senses is damaged or some of our faculties are defective, then our perception of the world will be rather distorted as compared to the normal one. Concerning the ideal picture, we have no way of knowing anything, because we cannot possibly imagine anything existing beyond us. Hence it is utterly impossible to speak about the essence.

We can imagine the abstract form, yet it is unknown whether we can do that correctly.

Even our strongest sense, the sense of touch, which is able to discern between hot and cold, firm and soft, is nothing but the revelation of actions within an essence. However, these too are only the manifestations of the essence. It is possible to cool down something hot or warm up something cold. It is possible to melt something solid into a liquid. It is possible to evaporate a liquid and bring it to a gaseous state so that it would become impossible to sense it with the help of our five senses. Nevertheless, the essence is preserved and we can again transform the gas (a totally imperceptible state of some essence) into a liquid or bring the liquid to a solid state.

It is as clear as a sunny day that our five senses will not reveal to us any essence at all, but only instances of manifestation of the essence’s actions.

Baal HaSulam means that without ascending through the Worlds of BYA to the Worlds of Atzilut and Infinity in our senses, we will not attain the Creator. We will never be able to perceive something that is outside or above us. Neither our five natural senses - touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste - nor the Ten Sefirot in the Worlds of BYA will give us anything.

If we wish to attain the Upper categories that are beyond us, we should reach the higher worlds where the white light really exists.

The lights in the Worlds of Assiya, Yetzira, and Beria are black, green and red respectively.

When all of them combined enable us to feel how they stand out against the white background of Atzilut, we will attain what this background really is. Here Baal HaSulam stresses that without correcting our inner sensations and rising to the Upper Worlds the person has no opportunity to attain spirituality.

Moreover, we do not even have the ability to perceive our own essence. I feel and know that I occupy a certain volume in this world, that I am solid, hot, that I think, and so on. All of these are the result of manifestations that influence my essence. However, if someone were to ask me “What is the essence from which all these manifestations emanate?” I would not know how to answer. After all, Supervision prevents us from attaining the essence. We only attain the manifestations and mode of action originating from the essence.

That is, we cannot attain ourselves, let alone the Upper Worlds, until we reach the level where the essence manifests.

13. We are fully capable of comprehending Matter, which we discussed in the first limitation, i.e., manifestations of the action of any essence.

Now he explains to what extent different levels of attainment are accessible to us. Our attainment is graduated: Malchut, Zeir Anpin, Bina, and Hochma. How correctly can we perceive each of these categories?

It is quite possible that such awareness can help me make up for the lack of knowledge. Knowing exactly what I do not know can assist me to get my bearings and avoid errors.

Matter reveals the actions of any essence, and the revelation of matter is quite sufficient for us.

The lowest level of attainment is the attainment of matter. It completely satisfies all our needs and desires. That is, when we attain, feel, and absorb the universe at this level, we have no questions left. That is the way we are created. As we begin to ascend, our needs will develop and grow, including our demands for the sensation of matter. But by and large, we are so created that we feel little necessity for it.

This explains why we do not suffer at all from the lack of any possibility to perceive the essence itself. Moreover, we do not desire it. In the same way, we do not feel the need for a sixth digit on our hand.

I am created so that five digits are absolutely sufficient for me. My brain is designed in such a way that I prefer to work with five fingers, although, if necessary, I may dispense with a smaller number, somehow compensating for the deficiency. However, I am totally unprepared to work with six or seven fingers. Nature has not provided me with any technique for such work. I cannot even imagine what I will do with an additional digit.

In other words, the comprehension of matter, i.e., the manifestation of the essence’s actions, is sufficient for all our requirements and investigations, both in the attainment of our own essence and in the attainment of any external one.

So we have no problem with anything that concerns matter. If we only live within its limits, we feel quite satisfied with our attainments.

But imagine a Kabbalist, who attains higher forms, feels the insignificance of lower categories, and think of his overwhelming aspiration to extend the ability of his senses ad infinitum. He wants to acquire thousands of digits-tentacles, longs for the infinite sensation of an endless diversity of colors, until all of it merges in simple, white, absolute, and all-encompassing knowledge.

We, however, seem to have no problem, and happily agree to live with our five little fingers. Larger aspirations appear under the influence of the Upper Light. It generates in us more and more new needs, while at the same time letting us understand that by having more diverse Kelim we could perceive a much greater world than what our five senses can pick in a rather warped way.

When something takes place outside us, we perceive it within a very limited, one-sided, and twisted range of sensations. Let us imagine that some outside influence enters into us unobstructed. Were we designed so that everything could penetrate us without any resistance from us, we would be able to perceive absolutely all outside influences. What does it mean that I perceive something which is outside me? The Creator is outside me, so I will clearly feel and perceive Him.

This will become possible if I eliminate all barriers standing in the way of all incoming information. They work as membranes letting information inside only within their limited range. If I move from the color black to green, red, and white, then I will acquire two, or perhaps, twenty new senses, in addition to my natural five. I will then be able to ascend to the World of Atzilut, and through these colors perceive the higher light, which will enter me unimpeded.

How is it going to happen? I will not be able to open additional apertures in my “black box”. But I need not do that – the sensation of the color white will enter me through my perception of black, green, and red, followed by the Creator’s achromatism. This happens because through these undistorted colors that enter into me, I will be able to feel what is inside them, i.e., the Ten Sefirot of the direct, pure light.

As a result, we see that even without getting out of the Kli itself, the black box, everything depends only on how it is tuned up. “The Book of Zohar” teaches us how to adapt ourselves to the Upper Radiance. The Zohar descends from the highest point of Atzilut, hence its name “radiance”.

“The Book of Zohar” explains how we can perceive all spiritual information by changing our inner parameters. In other words, we attain the form in matter, the abstract form, and the essence through the matter of form.

In order to bring us to the World of Atzilut, “The Zohar” deals with just two kinds of attainment. After reaching the World of Atzilut and the state of Gmar Tikkun, we attain the absolute form, and, through it, the essence in the World of Infinity.

We have spoken about four kinds of attainment. When we delve into some material, both within and without us, we attain it as matter, the form that matter takes, the abstract form, and the essence.

We have also said that matter and the form in matter are entirely sufficient to safeguard us against mistakes. Another question is whether we can operate with the abstract form. Being beyond our power and clear sensations, it can be misinterpreted and misleading. It is even more so when it concerns the completely unattainable essence.

Why are we studying it? When we look for contact with the Creator, we should know exactly what we wish to achieve, what we need to hold on to in order to avoid errors on our path. We should be careful not to imagine abstract forms.

As a rule, this happens to people who seem to be very “spiritual”. They will tell you about various forces they see, about images and angels, about their previous incarnations and special messages received from above. This is a totally wrong interpretation of the abstract form.

Therefore, “The Zohar” positively forbids delving into abstract forms, and calls upon the person to remain within the limits of matter and its form.

14. We also comprehend the form in matter that is described in the second restriction in an absolutely clear and satisfactory way, for we do so based on the experience of concrete actions that we derive from matter’s response. Thus, we acquire all of the sublime knowledge that one can indeed rely on.

That is, matter is what our senses perceive, whereas the form in matter is something we attain as a result of penetrating matter itself.

Baal HaSulam says that we attain the form in matter absolutely, and that all the Upper knowledge we acquire at the higher levels is true and clear to us. If we advance along this path of attainment to ever higher forms of matter without abstracting the form from matter, then we unfailingly move in the right direction, towards the right goal.

If we move anywhere in this world, there always exist an “I” located at some point, some path, and some goal. While seeing the goal before me, I direct myself toward it. That is, “I” represents one of my qualities, where as I have no idea about the quality of the goal. I do not direct myself with the help of my senses; they are of no help to me at this stage. I do not imagine how I can see this goal, how I can depict it to myself. The goal possesses a certain quality that is very different from “I”. This concerns the distinction between just two levels, whereas, overall, there are 125 of them.

So how can I imagine it, how can I elevate myself, break through this barrier? What should my first step be and toward what goal? I cannot imagine what I want to be. In our world I may, for example, aspire to become a professor; I create this image in myself, see it, and clearly know what it is like. In Kabbalah, however, there is no way to imagine all that.

So if, instead of matter and the form it assumes, I imagine only the abstract form, I will immediately fall into delusion and my subsequent advancement will increasingly deviate from the goal.

Hence “The Zohar” instructs the person seeking spirituality to be extremely careful with forms that are detached from matter, and are unperceived by our sensations.

I cannot say that I feel something spiritual until I acquire a minimal screen. Only having done that will I be able to perceive spiritual objects and properties within it. They will be considered the acquired form of this matter because the form will be determined by the screen. The screen displays for us various properties and their combinations out of matter, which assumes a certain form.

Therefore, he says: “Thus, only from the form of this matter do we acquire all of the sublime knowledge that one can indeed rely on.” In the process of studying “The Book of Zohar” we will be repeatedly emphasizing this problem.

15. The third restriction is abstract form. This means that, after the form reveals itself to us in matter, the power of our imagination allows us to detach it completely from matter.

Here Baal HaSulam does not speak about absolute abstractions that we have never seen before (e.g. angels and supernatural forces). He asserts that even when we watch something and then divert our attention from the observed object or phenomenon, we imagine it in an abstract form. We should not abstractly imagine something which previously had a form.

One can observe abstractly or detached from any kind of matter; for example, virtues and laudable qualities that books on moral subjects speak about. When we touch upon qualities of truth, falsehood, anger, heroism, etc., we have in mind their abstract form, free from any matter whatsoever. We endow such abstract form with virtues or flaws.

Today, in particular, I was asked: “How could such a Kabbalist as Rabbi Shimon be angry?” That is, how can such a highly spiritual person have any unspiritual qualities? Where does this incomprehension emerge from? The reason lies in the separation of form (qualities, properties) from matter. If you combine one with the other, all contradictions will vanish. However, to see that, you will first have to assume those properties.

Know that serious scientists regard the third restriction with the utmost caution, for it is impossible to rely upon it with 100% assurance. This is because it is easy to err in something that is detached from matter. For example, a non-religious idealist who praises the abstract category of truth can conclude that he would not intentionally utter an untrue word, not even for the sake of saving people’s lives, if the entire world should perish.

There are many idealists who abstract some category from real life and from man, and place it above all. In other words, they detach a category from the matter in which it is clothed, i.e., from that for which sake it actually exists. Such a truth-loving person, who is ready to sacrifice the world, does not understand that in fact the abstract category of truth turns into its opposite, falsehood.

The Torah forbids it in its laws, stating that we neither have the right to accept abstract form as absolute knowledge, nor rely on it.

But this is contrary to the opinion of Torah, which says:" Nothing is above saving a Soul”, even if you are compelled to lie.

Indeed, had he examined truth and falsehood when they are cast into matter, he would judge these categories according to the right, or wrong they give rise to in matter. Then, having conducted numerous experiments in the world, he would see the multitude of victims and losses that liars and their untruths cause. Moreover, he would perceive the great benefit to those that uphold the truth and those who observe the rule of speaking only the truth. He would then come to an agreement that there is no value higher than truthfulness, and nothing lowlier than falsehood.

If an idealist understood this, he would certainly agree with the opinion of Torah and accept that a falsehood, even if it delivers one human life from death, is immeasurably greater in value and importance than any abstract truth. It is because abstract categories that belong to the third restriction absolutely lack clarity. It is not worth discussing abstract forms that have not yet materialized in this world; this is but a waste of time.

There are certain periods in our life, when we define for ourselves some ideals. Later on, as we face them in real life, we see that they do not exist, and as soon as these ideals dress into matter, they acquire an unexpected, unpredictable, and in most cases, very unappealing form.

Hence, we need to accept this limitation in advance, i.e., on no account should we use any abstract notions nor set any abstract rules pertaining to the spiritual world. We have no idea what the spiritual world is like, the next level has never been clothed in any concrete form before.

We have no right to reason about the upper level from our present viewpoint; otherwise we will delude ourselves and never reach it. Thus we can only speak of matter and the form this matter assumes.

What other positive conclusion follows from this? Kabbalah pushes us toward matter, i.e., toward physical sensation of the spiritual. It warns us against engaging in abstract, imaginary actions, and at the same time it instructs us to feel the spiritual forms which our own matter will assume. That is, the screen’s different forms dressed on my desires should create in me various spiritual images, and, without detaching one from the other, I would exist in them. This will be called my spiritual world.

If I now abstract one from the other, I will imagine myself in the spiritual worlds today. Most probably I will feel great while soaring in my imagination, but it will be a pure fantasy. By compelling us to remain connected with matter even though we may be studying a form, Kabbalah urges us to dress our matter (will to receive) into the proper form (will to bestow).

16. Now that we have thoroughly explained these four categories – matter, form in matter, abstract form and essence…

The author stops short of discussing the essence here because there is no point in talking about something imperceptible. We may abstractly reason about the essence without knowing what it is, but in this case all our reasoning turns into empty philosophy.

Now that we have thoroughly explained these four categories with simple examples, it is clear that:

If our matter, i.e., our initial egoism (will to receive) assumes the form of bestowal (altruism), intention for the sake of the Creator, this means that we enter into the Upper World’s existence.

With their help, one can also grasp the reality of the spiritual levels of the Upper Worlds of ABYA. Even the smallest component will fall into these four categories. For instance, every component in the World of Beria has its red colored vessel…

The World of Beria is all red (Bina).Hochma is white, Bina is red, ZA or Yetzira is green, and Malchut or Assiya is black.

Baal HaSulam says that if we take any of our attainments, sensations in the World of Beria, we will feel in it the Kelim of the color red, whose light translates to those existing in the World of Beria.That is, while passing through the Kelim of the World of Beria (i.e., through my own properties, filters), the colorless light is perceived as red.

What is “red” in the spiritual? In our world the branch of this root corresponds to the color red.

The vessels of the World of Beria that have the color red represent a form that is “dressed” onto an essence. This refers to the first way of attainment. Although it is but a color, meaning a detail and manifestation of the actions of the essence, we shall never be able to grasp the essence itself, only the manifestation of its actions. We call such a manifestation “essence”, “matter”, a “body”, or a “vessel”.That is, we attain ungraspable essence as matter.

The light of the Creator “dressing” and passing through the color red represents a form that is “dressed” onto the essence. This is the second way of attainment. That is why it appears as a red light that points to it being “dressed” and emanating through the essence, that is, the body and matter of the red color.

In other words, there exists matter and there are levels that are perceived by this matter, which assumes different forms. If it is in the World of Beria, it assumes the color red.

However, if a person still wishes to separate the Upper Light from its essence, from its red color (i.e., to separate the color red that emerges in the World of Beria from the colorless inner light), or if he begins to study the light alone, immaterialized, this belongs to the third way of attainment, i.e., the abstract form, and it will result in fallacies.

I cannot speak of the Creator, but only about my properties that are similar to Him. I cannot say that He is kind. And what exactly is my idea of “kindness”? Is my notion of “kindness” the same as what I ascribe to Him? If I become similar to the Creator by ten per cent in the category of “kindness”, then to the same extent I can testify that He is kind. I understand Him because I am similar to Him, equal with Him. Only from within my own corrected Kelim can I speak about similarity to the Creator. This means to remain within the limits of matter even in the expression of its form.

However, if we only speak about the abstract category of “kindness”, then I will modify it in the same way as I did with the category of “truth”. I will be ready to sacrifice all humankind for the sake of preserving this category. That is, it will be utterly abstracted from reality.

Why is this possible? The fact is that we consist of a huge Kli, some part of which is corrected. In that part I can perceive the Creator correctly, whereas in the rest of my Kli I will imagine Him abstractly, not clothed in my properties. So without doubt, my picture of Him would obviously be wrong because the properties in which I wish to imagine Him are still opposite to His.

Hence, on no account should the person be overly focused on abstract form. Yet it exists in us because there is a great number of uncorrected Kelim that are opposed to the Creator’s form.

It is characteristic of man to reason about form dressed in matter, i.e., about the will and the intention to bestow that a part of his Kelim have acquired, about the Creator’s properties that have not yet become

his own. All of this exists within our Soul, which is presumably divided into two parts, corrected and uncorrected.

So what does “The Book of Zohar” speak of?

The light enters the corrected part of your Soul, which is similar to the Creator in its properties. You can characterize whatever happens in it as the form equivalent to the Creator because its properties are clothed in matter.

On the other hand, we still have many uncorrected Kelim, which are destined to be filled with the Creator’s light. However, if we keep reasoning about the light that is still outside our Kelim, we will be talking about the Creator’s abstract form and will always be in the wrong. This is because it is impossible to reason about the light out of the still uncorrected vessels.

Abstract forms invariably lead to erroneous conclusions; hence “The Zohar” clearly states that only after the person has achieved equivalence of form with the Creator, can he really speak about Him.

We see how Kabbalah directs the person to practical understanding and knowledge, safeguarding him against various mistakes. Unfortunately, we are constantly speaking about something that is not in us; therefore we have no way of determining our position.

Oftentimes, people tell me that they are already in the World of Beria or Atzilut, or even achieved the Gmar Tikkun. I understand them, of course; nothing can be proved or disproved. I can only advise him to

read something, somehow show him the right direction, and try to generate more or less adequate sensations.

Each of us can see for himself how often confused thoughts visit us, and we can never be sure where we really are.

When the person enters the spiritual world, he cannot stand firmly on his feet, but continues treading on a very long path of realization, accumulation of knowledge, and studying various forms dressed in matter.

Only when the person reaches the World of Atzilut and begins to raise the Kelim of the Worlds of BYA (Gadlut of the Soul), can one say that he has risen above the common mistake of working with abstract forms.

Accordingly, the most stringent ban prohibits the study of the Upper Worlds, and no true Kabbalist would do it, let alone those studying Zohar. There is no use in mentioning the “essence” of even the smallest part in creation, for we are incapable of comprehending it. Since we fail to comprehend the essence of objects in our corporeal world, we will fail even more when trying to comprehend spiritual manifestations.

I can as little grasp the essence and abstract form of, say, a pencil (I cannot imagine the notion of a pencil detached from its matter). Only the form clothed in matter and mater itself constitute an absolutely reliable source of knowledge.

Thus, we have before us the four aspects from our example in the

World of Beria:

Thus, we have clarified the first restriction in detail: “The Book of Zohar” only speaks about the first and the second kinds of knowledge. Concerning the third and the fourth kinds, not a single word is mentioned in the entire book.

So when we study Kabbalistic books, we should never imagine anything that is not there. Otherwise we simply fail to take advantage of what is given to us, and bluntly misinterpret the author’s words. We should only rely on the first two levels of knowledge, matter and form in matter.

17. The second restriction will be explained in the same way.

Know that, as we explained the four kinds of knowledge in one component of the World of Beria, so it is in general true with respect to the four Worlds of ABYA, where the colors red, green and black in the three Worlds of BYA are matter and essence. The white of the World of Atzilut is form cast into matter, i.e., into the three worlds called BYA. The World of Infinity, as such, is essence.

Let us take a look at all the spiritual worlds (Fig. 3). The World of Infinity represents the essence (as we know, the World of Infinity includes the World of Adam Kadmon) and is followed by the Worlds of Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya. The World of Atzilut constitutes the abstract form; the World of Beria is matter in which this form dresses. Atzilut is colorless, Beria is red, Yetzira is green, and Assiya is black.

At the beginning of our research of “The Preface to the Book of Zohar” we have said that we do not study the World of Atzilut, but only Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya, since that is where the Souls are. We deal with Atzilut only as the Worlds of BYA rise to it, or, the other way around, as Atzilut shines inside the Worlds of BYA. All the more, we do not touch upon the Worlds of AK and Infinity.

As we have said in the first restriction, the essence is beyond our grasp; it is the fourth kind of knowledge that each being conceals within itself, even in the beings of our world. The white color stands alone and is not “dressed” into the three colors of the three Worlds of BYA; meaning, the light of Hochma is not “dressed in Bina, Tifferet and Malchut, but is an abstract form that we disregard.

If we attain our world from within (and we certainly will), we should always remember that we only study matter and the form cast in matter. However, the deeper, more inner properties concealed in it remain unattainable. We just imagine them because it is impossible to attain them before the Final Correction.

“The Zohar” exclusively speaks about our ascent to the World of through the Worlds of BYA. (See Fig. 4) The Final Correction (GmarTikkun) takes place in the World of Atzilut. The Book of Zohar deals neither with the ascent to the World of Infinity after the Gmar Tikkun, nor with the so-called eighth, ninth, and tenth millennia.

Therefore we will always see matter and its form, whereas the abstract form and essence will remain unattainable because our correction on all the levels will only be partial. Even if some Reshimo emerges in us and we correct it, this correction is always limited and fragmentary.

Let me tell you how it works. Suppose there are Ten Sefirot, from to Malchut. We cut off Malchut, and stop receiving the Light that descends to us (it tries to fill Malchut); hence, we cannot attain the essence. Besides, when we work not from Malchut but from Yesod, we attain only the first nine Sefirot. We only attain them with the intention for the sake of bestowal; thus, it is said that we partially use Yesod. Only the part of the Kli called is used, whereas GAR stays inactive, so another attainment (perceived as the abstract form) is severed. We attain GAR de in Gmar Tikkun, and after that GAR de GAR.

There are four kinds of attainment, but at the moment only two of them are available to us. Therefore, we should know what we can and cannot accept as something obvious.

There is nothing said about it in the Zohar. It speaks only of the first kind, i.e., the three colors of BYA, considered as matter, and representing the three Sefirot: Bina, Tifferet and Malchut. The Zohar also speaks of the second kind, representing the illumination of the World of Atzilut, “dressed” in the three colors of BYA, i.e., the light or Hochma, “dressed” in Bina, Tifferet and Malchut – the form where it “dresses” itself in matter. The book of Zohar examines only these two kinds.

Accordingly, if each student is not utterly conscientious that when studying Zohar his thoughts and comprehension are always within the limits of these two kinds of knowledge, he will immediately become confused on all issues, for it will strip the words of their true meaning.

That is, if during our studies we do not clearly realize that we work with concrete forms cast in matter, we will totally miss what “The Zohar” tries to explain. Baal HaSulam warns us not to fall into that trap.

A question arises, whether it is realistic to accomplish what he describes. Can I really control myself; see myself as someone who clearly understands all of these questions during the studies, someone who can precisely distinguish these properties in himself? Is this possible at all?

Although he tells us that it is impossible, correct perception occurs subconsciously through our right attitude to reality, i.e., by focusing on the Creator through the group.

For what is a group? It is an indicator of my altruistic direction. If I correctly direct myself at the Creator through the group (I, the group, and the Creator), then I am really focused on Him. This happens because I can not relate to the group in my desire to attain Him, unless my intentions become altruistic.

So, if I am focused on the Creator through the group, I will necessarily be dealing with the part of me where my sensations are corrected. That is why I have a very simple indicator of what I should be doing at the moment. It is my study with the group, and my aspiration to the Creator through the group.

Thus, the group helps me to stay within the correct framework and study only what I really need, at the same time avoiding the areas where I can err.

Therefore, we do not really need any special analytical and extrasensory abilities. We are provided with everything necessary for our spiritual growth.

There are a great number of people in our virtual group. All of us study, think of one another, and know that without each other’s help we will not be able to attain anything spiritual. Gradually we will achieve unity, interaction, interdependence, and love; we will clearly see and feel how interconnected we are.

This grows out of purely egoistic sentiments. Quite naturally, without any mental effort, I will treat matter and the form in matter correctly, directing myself at the Creator, becoming similar to Him. I will not transcend the limits of my uncorrected, unregulated desires, in which I can imagine abstract categories and assert that their truth is above all, while totally disregarding the likes or dislikes of people. That is, the laws of the Torah testify to my correct, true state, which I can only achieve with the help of the light.

18. What we explained about the four Worlds of ABYA is in general true with regard to each one of the worlds. As it is in relation to every small component of each of them, such as in the Rosh of the World of Atzilut, so it is in the Sof of the World of Assiya. This is because every part (state) on the ladder of worlds Assiya, Yetzira, Beria, and Atzilut consists of Ten Sefirot.We do not mention because it is the source of pure light. Each level, each attainment consists of Ten Sefirot: Keter, Hochma, Bina, ZA, and Malchut.

The Sefira Hochma exists as the form and Bina, Tifferet and Malchut as the matter in which the form has materialized. It also has the first and the second definition, whose objects “The Zohar” examines, as well as the Sefira Hochma, when it is vacant of Bina, Tifferet, and Malchut, which is the form that is free of matter...

That is, if we speak of how the Ohr Hochma manifests in Bina, Tifferet, and Malchut, in the same manner that form manifests in matter. If we only speak about the worlds Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya or about the Sefirot Bina, Tifferet, and Malchut regardless of where they may be, then we imply matter.

It is possible to talk about it as well as about the light that fills the corrected Kelim (because it is the form assumed by matter) or about the Kelim themselves in their corrected or uncorrected form. However, it is utterly impossible to speak about the light which is outside the Kelim, let alone imagine the essence which is even higher. There is no way we can say anything about the Creator Himself, the source of the light.

Baal HaSulam writes: “Do not think that you encounter these problems only when you reach higher levels of attainment. It occurs even at the relatively low level of the World of Assiya…” He says that each small level consists of its own Sefirot Keter, Hochma, Bina, ZA, and Malchut, where Bina, ZA, and Malchut constitute matter, Hochma is the form, is the abstract form, and the essence is above it.

So, we do not speak about what happens in Keter, for it is above the level of the Creator’s thoughts. This is something we attain after the Gmar Tikkun. We never speak of the form that is detached from matter. We either discuss Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya ( Bina, ZA, and Malchut), or the form (the light) which dresses this matter. In other words, we either speak of our Kelim, our desires ( Bina, ZA, and Malchut) or, provided they are already corrected, of the light that enters into them.

We see how practical “The Zohar” is. Baal HaSulam devotes many pages of his works to this issue, and we will be discussing it while reading the book, because the correct direction to the Goal is dependent on it.

19. We shall now explain the third restriction. Although “The Zohar” examines each world only from the point of Sefirot, which are the illuminations of the Upper Light in these worlds, and each component on the still, vegetative, animate and speaking levels – the creations of the respective worlds, the main object of the examination is, nonetheless, the speaking level in each of the worlds.

Baal HaSulam says that “The Zohar” studies everything that is found in the spiritual worlds. But whatever the book may deal with (be that the light inside the Kli or the Kli itself), it never speaks separately about the still, vegetative, and animate levels of existence simply because it is not its task.

All that is written in “The Book of Zohar” only concerns man, i.e., the human Souls; the way these Souls are served or how they serve other spiritual entities in the creation.

You may object by saying that millions or billions of various creatures, forces, purposes and ideas may exist in the universe. You are quite right, but “The Zohar” does not deal with it. This is because in order to research such things one needs to rise to the level that is above “The Book of Zohar”, i.e., reach higher that the book’s purpose.

“The Zohar’s” purpose is very concrete; it must lead us to the Final Correction. Our path completely changes after that. We will continue researching the universe in our corrected properties. This research is impossible to describe in books because no spoken or written word can express it.

Therefore, “The Zohar” exclusively speaks of things pertaining to our Souls, i.e., what should be corrected at the present moment. The rest is none of its concern.

We find that a man in this world must receive nourishment from all the four levels (the still, vegetative, animate and speaking) of this world, in order to grow. Even in man's food there are four ingredients from all the four degrees that are a consequence of his body having four degrees (still, vegetative, animate and speaking). These are:

We usually say that man consists of four levels of desire: for bodily pleasures, wealth, power, fame, and knowledge.

20. We therefore find that a reception from the first level, the measure of the need to sustain oneself, and from the second level – the degree of animate desires that exceed the need to sustain oneself, are for him reception and nourishment from the still, vegetative and animate levels, all of which are lower than his.

If I desire food or sexual pleasures (these are the two basic kinds of pleasure that my body demands), then I receive nourishment from objects that are lower than my own level: from the still, vegetative and animate levels. If I seek wealth, I too depend on the still level (money). If I am after power and fame, I already need people like myself, i.e., the human level. If I am thirsty for knowledge, I receive pleasure from a higher level that is novel to me as well as to many people. My aspirations are then considered spiritual in this world.

21. Similarly, you will learn the categories of the Upper spiritual world. Since all the worlds are imprints of one another from upper to lower, and all that is on the still, vegetative, animate and speaking levels in the World of Beria, is impressed upon the still, vegetative, animate and speaking levels of the World of Yetzira. Moreover, all that is on the still, vegetative, animate and speaking in the World of Yetzira is impressed upon the degrees still, vegetative, animate and speaking levels of the World of Assiya. Again, the still, vegetative, animate and speaking levels in the World of Assiya are impressed upon the still, vegetative, animate and speaking levels of this world.

All of these levels in each world: the still, vegetative, animate and human copy one another, each world being on its own different level of organized matter.

The Souls of people are the center of each world and receive fulfillment from the entire spiritual reality of the corresponding world. Likewise, a person in the corporeal world receives fulfillment from all the corporeal reality of our world.

In the same way man in our world represents the “crown” of nature, and rules over all the other levels (everything else only exists for his sake), the human Soul in the spiritual world is the central point of the creation and governs all levels of matter in the Upper realm.

Man’s Soul has to develop and perfect itself in each of the worlds using everything that is in that world. This is the third restriction that one needs to be aware of; that the entire Book of Zohar speaks about every component of the Upper Worlds that we study, whether it be Sefirot, Souls, angels, robes or palaces. And although we study them as they are, the student must always bear in mind that they are mentioned only in relation to man’s Soul, which receives and is filled by them. It means that they all serve the needs of that Soul. If you follow that line in your studies, you will comprehend everything and be successful in your path.

Baal HaSulam says that by strictly observing all of these limitations one will succeed on his path. That is why he provides such a detailed explanation.

We will keep returning to the limitations pertaining to the four kinds of knowledge: matter, form in matter, abstract form, and essence. We will see them in Souls, angels, robes, palaces, and worlds. Whatever we may feel, we should always separate real attainments from imaginary ones that we can neither test, nor analyze.

We have spoken of the things which we are still unable to feel. It would have been wonderful if I could, with some object in the spiritual world, show you what its matter, form in matter, abstract form, and essence are. Hopefully, we will soon reach that level. Basically, this is what we aspire to achieve.

But even now, as we speak about it, we already subconsciously prepare ourselves. The most important thing is our unity and common desire. Together we aspire to achieve one goal, attract upon ourselves the correcting light of enormous power. Whatever we learn and understand, this light propels us forward.

I strongly advise you to review this material and write a short summary of what is written here. Baal HaSulam’s language is a little archaic, and the text is rather confusing, the translation loses some of the Hebrew original’s poignancy and vividness. However, I recommend you to go through these four kinds of knowledge, because we will periodically speak about them. Although they look rather “dry” and abstract now, they will gradually become our main instruments of attainment, of delving into new, unknown matter.

Basically, “The Preface to the Book of Zohar” speaks about the limitations we need to observe so as to correctly perceive the information provided by the book.

There is always a problem of communication and mutual understanding between the upper and lower spiritual entities. We see it in our world too: between adults and between children as well as between adults and children. When the matter concerns two high levels, there should always be an intermediary between them. For instance, in order to raise a baby, a mother’s body has a special system for producing milk. The baby sucks milk, which is then transformed into blood. Blood is further transformed into its body matter, and so on.

So, in order for the lower level to receive from the upper one, there must be certain ways of passage and modification between them. Both the upper and lower levels should have systems of adjustment, adaptability and communication. Hence, when we come to study Kabbalah, we wish to receive power from above that will elevate and change us in such a way that we may begin to feel the Upper World, acquire an additional sense of perception, comprehension and adaptation to the true universe.

Therefore, we need to adapt ourselves to the Upper World in order to take from it what it has to give us. Unless we succeed, we will be lost in our own illusions and superstitions, failing to establish contact with the upper level.

To direct us at this contact precisely, to make it not only correct, but also ultimate in its magnitude, Baal HaSulam provided us with this Preface. It is similar to a healthy baby that receives nourishment from its mother and can completely and properly digest it.

The text instructs us how to restrict ourselves (create a “tube” through which everything will descend to me from the upper level), how to receive correctly and most efficiently rise to the higher level.

Matter is our will to receive pleasure, the only thing created by the Creator. Its form is a way of receiving pleasure: “for one’s sake” or “for the sake of the Creator”.

We should stay within these two categories and avoid abstract forms of reasoning about egoism and altruism without any connection with matter, or speculate about the Creator, the essence. However, this is insufficient, and from Paragraph 22 onwards, we will enter deeper into these limitations, tuning ourselves up to the wave that “The Zohar” transmits to us.

We will now discuss two limitations, or, rather, a correct combination, contact, communication between the upper level that sends me the light and me.

22. After all that has been said, we are left with describing, with the help of the Ten Sefirot, all the material images that one encounters in the Book of Zohar. Such images are upper and lower, rise and fall, diminishing and expanding, small condition and large one, separation and unification, numbers and so on – in a word, everything that the lower ones cause in the Ten Sefirot with their good and bad actions (described with earthly words in “The Zohar”).

How can one pass from the words of this world to expressing the same through Ten Sefirot? There are no words in the spiritual world, only Sentiments. These Sentiments should be transformed, vested into some images, which we can pass to one another. We can write it down or express it in some other way. We do not need a language within ourselves; it becomes necessary only for passing information.

“The Book of Zohar” explains how to pass from such word pairs as higher-lower, expansion-contraction, falls-rises to their correct interpretation and description with the help of Ten Sefirot. The Ten Sefirot comprise the physical-mathematical language of the spiritual world.

At first sight, it seems peculiar: how is it possible that the Upper Worlds are so inspired that changes in them can be described as caused by the actions of the lower ones?

That is, if I change something within me, I change the entire universe. The worlds with all the forces and spiritual entities that are in them descend and move. Can I influence the Upper Worlds from this world?

Even if you find it necessary to declare that nothing in the Upper Light is of the sort that “dresses” itself and shines in the Ten Sefirot, that it is only in the vessels of Sefirot, which are not divine, they are nevertheless created only with the creation of Souls. This is in order to conceal or reveal the degree of attainment, to the measure and with the swiftness that are required for the Souls to reach the desired Final Correction. It is as in the example mentioned above, with an optical device that consists of the four pieces of colored glass – white, red, green and black.

What is Baal HaSulam trying to convey in this long sentence? He says the following: even though nothing happens in the Creator’s light, and everything only takes place in our Souls, we express the light’s influence with theses words. This influence is constant, but it generates bigger and bigger changes in us.

For example, I put a glass of water into the refrigerator. The temperature of water in the glass is 20° Centigrade, while the temperature inside the refrigerator is only 10°. This means that the refrigerator’s constant influence cools the water down to its own temperature. That is, the refrigerator’s influence is invariable, whereas the temperature of the water in the glass is constantly changing. The same happens with us: the Upper Light exerts on us its constant pressure, but its pressure gradually penetrates our matter, our desire to receive pleasure, and changes it in accordance with its own parameters.

Kabbalah describes all transformations that take place within us under the light’s constant influence. It is said: “I, the Creator, do not change My Name”. His attitude to us is absolutely good, and He is constantly pressing us in order to elevate us to the level of the Absolute Good. However, since His influence penetrates us ever more deeply, we begin to adapt ourselves to it, and begin sensing our states as imperfect and remote from Him. We begin to aspire for a more elevated state, wish the light to purify us and make us similar to it.

It turns out that by His constant kind pressure, the Creator invokes in us increasingly worse sensations pertaining to our own condition, and increasingly good Sentiments pertaining to Him. Kabbalah describes the constant changes that we go through.

Basically, Kabbalah does not do that so as to tell us what else we are going to experience under the light’s constant influence, from our present state up to a complete equivalence of form with the light called the Gmar Tikkun. It, rather, encourages us to make our own earnest effort and by our personal and independent participation shorten this process.

At that, we go through the same transformations, but they become desired; hence, we, in anticipation of the bright future states, perceive our spiritual ascent, our life as positive and pleasant. In other words, an active participation in the process of correction elevates man to a fairly good level the moment he makes his decision.

Even if you find it necessary to declare that nothing in the Upper Light is of the sort that “dresses” itself and shines in the Ten Sefirot, that it is only in the vessels of the Sefirot, which are not divine, they are nevertheless created only with the creation of Souls. This is in order to conceal or reveal the degree of attainment.

The light is constantly playing with us. However, in actual fact, it is not a game. Since we consist of Reshimo de Yitlabshut and Reshimo de Aviut (information about the light and the Kli), consequently, different informational Kelim are alternately activated in us. Thus, we evaluate our state either from the point of the light, or from the point of the Kli. Therefore, it seems to us that we go through different states. The light, however, is an act according to the measure and with the swiftness that are required for the Souls to reach the desired correction.

It is similar to the case where the white color in a book and the material that forms its letters are all possible in the three Worlds of BYA, where there are vessels of the Sefirot which have been created, but not the divinity. However, it would be utterly groundless to opine that they exist in the World of Atzilut where the vessels of the Ten Sefirot as well represent the utter divinity, merged with the Upper Light that fills them.

Baal HaSulam wishes to say the following: in all there are three components: the Creator, the light that is emanated from Him, and the Kli that changes under the light’s influence in order to reach equivalence of form with the Creator. Both the Creator and His light are invariable, whereas all changes take place in us to make us similar to Him.

All of this exists in absolute unity.

23. In order to understand the above, we must recall what was said in paragraph 17, which stated:

Now let us take a look at the drawing in order to understand where we are in our research of “The Book of Zohar.” There exist the Worlds of Infinity, Adam Kadmon, Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya. The Worlds of Infinity and Adam Kadmon represent the essence; the World of Atzilut is the form, while the Worlds of Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya constitute matter. Below them are Machsom, or Sium, and this world.

We spend our time in this world only during a preparation period before we enter the Upper World. Kabbalah tells us about a stage that begins after we cross the Machsom and commence our ascent. From that moment, matter (our desire) gradually emerges in us, and takes the form of the World of Atzilut. That is to say, the World of Atzilut dresses into matter and gives it its form of bestowal.

Now let us try to understand how we attain Infinity. What is “Infinity” for us? Is it simply a lack of comprehension? In such a case it may not be called this name. If we use a certain word to denote something, it means that we first attain, grasp, weigh and graduate it within us, and only then do we give this sensation or state a name. That is to say, if I callsomething Infinity, it means that I have experienced that state, and after measuring it in accordance with all accepted standards and rules, give it a name. Thus, Infinity is one of precise physical categories, definitions, measures.

Baal HaSulam asks: How can you name something that is not comprehended?

And gives this answer: The name of the World of Infinity does not express the essence of the One Who Creates Reality per se, but rather points out that all the worlds and Souls are included in Him. This is reflected in the intent of the creation about which it is said “the completion of the action is in its initial design” –connection of all Creation with Him until complete correction. This is what is called the World of Infinity.

Inasmuch as there is a state in which both the first and the last thoughts merge into one, this merging is called Infinity. We cannot attain it our present state because we have not yet reached the final state. Thus, Infinity means confluence of the two extreme points of the creation. The same is true with our world: when we cannot coordinate cause and effect, everything seems to consist of contrasting, unrelated details.

This happens because the notion of Infinity seems truly infinite to us. However, as we begin correcting our inner properties and rise to the light’s level, these notions merge within us, and all contradictions disappear. Good and evil, light and darkness dissolve in one all-embracing notion, and the definition of Infinity vanishes. We enter into it, and it becomes real, clear and attainable.

We also call the World of Infinity the “first state of Souls” when all Souls exist in the Creator, filled with all possible delights, the full volume of which will be received at the state of Final Correction.

24. Let me give an example from our world. Let us say a person wants to build a nice house. His first thought pictures a house with all the rooms and amenities just as it will be when its construction is finished. After that, he lays out the plan of construction in all of its details to explain it to the builders, one detail at a time: wood, bricks, metal frames, etc. Only after that does he begin building the house for real and continues building it until it is done, just as he planned it initially.

You should know that in the World of Infinity, which is the mystery of initial design, all of the Creation is prepared in its complete perfection. However, this allegory does not entirely convey the meaning, because the future and the past are one for the Creator, and the initial design is being implemented in Him. He does not need any instruments for action, as we do. Therefore, the real reality is in Him.

We perceive our remoteness from the Creator as Infinity. If we try to combine within us opposite notions, so that all of them will merge into a single whole, we will enter the World of Infinity, which thus ceases to be infinite, and becomes real, where the present, past, and future merge into one.

We should do our best to pass from our usual notions of “eternity”, “infinity” to more concrete, correct, spiritual definitions. All the spiritual notions exist within us, but we only understand them when they are opposed to each other: good and evil, black and white, limited and unlimited, reception and bestowal, etc. If we make a point of superposing these notions in our inner properties, Infinity will gradually become our reality.

This is exactly what happens in the Creator; hence in Him a thought and an action are the same. In the course of our advancement, we will be trying to unite all the notions with one source. We will enter a constant and absolute state when time becomes irrelevant. Little by little, we need to get used to this state. In the article “Habit Becomes a Second Nature” from his book entitled “Shamati” (“I Heard”) Baal HaSulam writes that all the concealed, implicit qualities and states are within us because we exist in our present state only in our perception. From the Creator’s perspective, we are in a state of perfection and infinity, in the only state that was ever created by Him. Our task is to correct our sensations, feel our true condition.

Baal HaSulam says that we can achieve this state with the help of ongoing exercise, by developing a habit, which will turn into our second nature. Any action in our world gets into the field of our vision or stays beyond it only depending on whether we can attune ourselves to that action. While learning and acquiring proper habits, we begin to perceive all kinds of events that were passing unnoticed before. It is the same with the spiritual: first, we gradually acquire special senses, and then we can perceive spiritual reality.

“The Book of Zohar” says that the category of Infinity is based on contrast, that spirituality is where the past, present, and future merge. “The Zohar” encourages us to develop rudiments of these sensations.

Baal HaSulam continues with the example of a house: the World of Atzilut is like a thoughtful and detailed plan that will be realized.

The purpose is to build a house (i.e., the Worlds of Infinity and Adam Kadmon). The World of Atzilut is a form, which can be clearly imagined. This is a detailed plan of the house with drawings and specifications – all that exists on paper, but has not yet materialized.

You should know that both the initial design, which is the World of Infinity, and deliberative detailed plan, which in its own time will be realized in reality, do not have anything to do with creatures, because everything is still in the design stage where nothing yet has been implemented into practice. That is to say, the worlds of, Infinity, Adam Kadmon, and Atzilut are completely detached from the Souls, from you and me.

A person does similarly: although he has thought out all the details (bricks, metal pieces, wood) that he will need during construction, he does not yet have anything save his own mental image of the house. The main difference is that the mental plan of a person is not reality, while the Creator’s design is the reality itself and is incomparably greater than the reality of creatures.

Therefore, the third state of the creation is absolutely real. In comparison with it (the Worlds of Atzilut, Adam Kadmon and Infinity), our state is spiritually illusory; it is perceived only within us. This resembles a sick person lying unconscious in his bed. Although he is in this world, he cannot feel it. Or, imagine a person in a dark room, unaware of the enormous world around him.

Thus, we have explained the mystery of the World of Infinity and the World of Atzilut; everything that they convey relates only to the creation of creatures as they all exist in the design, but their essence has not yet been revealed. Just as in our example with a house, there is nothing yet in humanity’s construction plan: no bricks, no wood, no metal pieces.

25. The three Worlds of BYA, along with this world, are the embodiments of a planned action, just as construction material is needed before construction is complete. Correspondingly, the Upper Light shines in the Worlds of BYA to the extent that Souls must receive it in order to reach their completion. The Upper Light “dresses” itself into ten Kelim Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, and Malchut, which are the real Kelim relative to the Creator. That is, they are not related to the Creator, but, rather, newly created for the Souls’ needs.

The infinite light dresses into the Ten Sefirot of the World of Atzilut; through them, it enters into our Souls, and transforms them accordingly.

26. From the example above, one should understand how the three components in the house design are related to one another by causes and consequences, where the root of everything is in the initial design. There will be no element in the plan that is not aimed at the completion of the action taken in accordance with the initial plan; nothing will be put into practice during construction that was not already included in the initial plan.

Both in the Worlds of BYA and in our world, everything happens only in accordance with the initial plan, which is instantly realized in the World of Infinity. In actual fact, we cannot influence anything around us. We gradually come to that conclusion in the course of our life… The only area where we can apply our effort is in accelerating our entry into the spiritual world, and in merging with the Creator. This issue is left to us; it depends on the changes that our Kelim go through from our present state up to complete equivalence of form with the World of Infinity.

However, all of our states are as fixed and predetermined as every stage in a construction plan: first, digging a pit, building a foundation, erecting buttresses, etc. Hence, we cannot really change anything in this world save our own aspiration to the Purpose of creation. If we do that of our own free will, we feel comfortable, because the difference between our aspirations and the Creator’s state disappears, and in the course of our convergence we attain the World of Infinity. We and the Creator are the two main opposites that include all the other contrasting pairs: good and evil, up and down, black and white, and many other parameters and categories. All of them begin to converge, and by merging into a single point, they usher us into a state called the World of Infinity.

You should understand that there is not even a slightest new element that was not originated in the World of Infinity. That is, the Souls in their initial state are in their perfect state of Complete Correction, which is consistent with saying “completion of action is in the initial plan.”

Everything that will be revealed in the Final Correction exists there and initially emanates from the World of Infinity into the World of Atzilut. This is the same as the mental plan in the example above, where the initial design is realized as the house is being built in reality. This happens with us, the Souls in the Worlds of BYA.

Therefore, there is not the smallest component in this world that did not emanate from the World of Infinity, and this defines the condition of all Souls in the initial state. The World of Atzilut emanates from the World of Infinity, which is the personal relationship toward every new component existing in our world. From the World of Atzilut, every new emanation into the three Worlds of BYA unfolds into action, into the Worlds of Yetzira, Assiya and the lowest level in our world, and is revealed as the Creator’s attitude toward creation.

Let us understand that there is nothing new existing in this world that did not emanate from the common root in the Creator’s World of Infinity, his personal root in the World of Atzilut, that came down into the Worlds of BYA and became the creation by unfolding into our world.

That is to say, if we observe a creature or an action in this world, we should take it as the Creator’s act descending from the World of Infinity. In accordance with it, we need to check very well whether we should intervene in the process, or just change our attitude to it. We see that all of man’s attempts to change the world lead to deterioration in ecology, to bigger disappointments and suffering. The reason for that lies in our conviction that everything does not descend from the World of Infinity, but depends on our actions.

If the person stops interfering in the surrounding world and only concentrates on his inner work (i.e., on his attitude to the world), he can transform it beyond recognition and elevate his own perception of the world to the state of Infinity and perfection.

By giving up his attempts to change this world mechanically outside himself, but, rather, trying to correct his attitude, his inner sensations, man truly acts. This is the most efficient means and the greatest power that is given to us in the entire universe. Whatever inner attitude we may have towards the world, our senses cannot perceive the influence of this attitude on the universe. I believe that science will clearly demonstrate it to us in the near future.

Be that as it may, “The Zohar” teaches us that everything descends from the World of Infinity and all that takes place in our world is a consequence of what happens there. By changing our attitude to it, by aspiring to it, by seeing everything as if it is already there, we can reach it.

27. At the same time, we need to understand that all the changes that take place in the World of Atzilut have nothing to do with the Creator himself. We are speaking only about Souls, to the extent of their receiving from the World of Atzilut through the three Worlds of BYA. This world corresponds to the World of Infinity just as the mental plan correlates to the initial design. However, these two worlds (the World of Infinity and World of Atzilut) do not contain any Souls yet. As it is in the mental plan of a person, there is no real wood, nor iron pieces, nor bricks.

Souls start opening up in the World of Beria. That is why the kelim of the Ten Sefirot, which measure the volume and pace of Souls, are undoubtedly not divine. Rather, they are newly created, because the Upper Light does not contain any changes or quantitative characteristics. That is also why we correlate the kelim of the Ten Sefirot of three Worlds of BYA with the colors red, green and black.

The Worlds of Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya are the consequences of the Sefirot Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut. The colors red, green, and black correspond with them, being the results of the Worlds of Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya.

Moreover, it is impossible even to think that they are divine, because the Upper Light does not undergo any changes.

These are our inner uncorrected or partially corrected properties against the white background of Atzilut. Therefore, before man enters the World of Atzilut and reaches the property of Bina (complete bestowal), nothing of what he attains is considered quite true. Man is already in the spiritual world, but has not yet reached his true, ultimate state.

However, the light that is “dressed” in the ten Kelim in Worlds of BYA is a divine, simple unity without any disturbance. Even the light filling the lowest Kli in the World of Assiya is simple divinity without slightest change, because light has only one nature. Any change is made by the Kelim, the Sefirot that are not divine (i.e., do not refer to the Creator) and consequently have the three aforementioned colors (red, green, and black). These three colors form the basis for numerous combinations.

We (the Souls) receive the light from the Worlds of Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya through three filters: red, green, and black. The color white of Atzilut passes through these three filters and descends to us already tinted. We perceive these colors and their numerous combinations as a complete palette of our sensations. The Hebrew letters originate in the same three Sefirot: Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut. The first nine letters from Aleph to Tet correspond with Bina, or the World of Beria. The second group of letters, from Yud to Tzadi, corresponds with Zeir Anpin, or the World of Yetzira. The last four letters, from uf to Tav originate in Malchut, or the World of Assiya. In all, the Kabbalistic alphabet comprises twenty-two letters.

28. It is obvious that the Kelim of the Ten Sefirot of the Worlds of BYA receive all their parts and details from the World of Atzilut. They exist there as the mental design of all the parts which will be realized in a corresponding order when the Worlds of BYA are built.

Every slightest detail or action had been completely formed in the World of Atzilut before it descended to the Worlds of BYA.

Baal HaSulam encourages us to stop thinking that our actions can change anything. If we can adopt this truth, our attitude to life and to the world will change. We will stop wasting our energy on something we cannot change, but instead, will start looking for a point with the help of which we can transform the world.

According to this, we discern that the Kelim of the Ten Sefirot HuB-TuM of the Worlds of BYA receive from the corresponding Kelim HuBTuM of the World of Atzilut; that is, from the mental design. Therefore, any single part, i.e., in the Worlds of BYA, receives from the corresponding Sefirot: Keter, Hochma, Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut of the World of Atzilut.

So, if we discover within ourselves the slightest spiritual detail consisting of Ten Sefirot, we can reach through it the Ten Sefirot of Atzilut because they are directly connected between them. We call the color of the Kelim de Atzilut white, which is not even a color it is colorless. However, it is the source of all colors.

All the roots of the Ten Sefirot emanate from it, which give us the entire gamut of sensations.

Similar to the white color of the pages of a book of wisdom (not with standing the fact that nothing can be comprehended through the white color), it is the carrier of everything that is in a book of wisdom. That is why it shines around every letter and inside every letter, giving them their shape and determining a special position of every combination.

We cannot see the wisdom of the white color of Atzilut; it manifests through its luminescence in the Worlds of Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya.

Similarly, we can say that the material of the letters (red, green, and black) is absolutely unattainable. This is because the material is lifeless. We receive all our attainments and knowledge through the material of the book, which is white. The luminescence around and inside letters gives them their shape, which reveals the wisdom of a book to us.

That is to say, on the one hand, we read the letters; while on the other hand, we read the white color around each letter. Only by superposing the two notions of Infinity, by elevating our sensations, our letters, to the level of the World of Infinity, where they merge into a single whole, and the attainment of the true wisdom takes place.

This is the essence of the Ten Sefirot de Atzilut. They are similar to the white color, and nothing can be known of them: neither quantity, nor changes. However, at the same time, the shining of white onto the Worlds of BYA, which are the three colors of letters, creates the Kelim of Ten Sefirot de Atzilut.

29. From the above, one should understand that the splitting of the World of Atzilut into three components, as described in “Corrections to Zohar”, are “He, His light and His actions which are one”.

If in our present state we feel the universe around us and ourselves in it, we can complement that picture with the Creator and His influence. As a result, we come up with a pretty complex picture. In reality, however, when we ascend to the spiritual world and enter the World of Atzilut, the Creator, His influence on us, the universe that we perceive, all merge into a single whole called “the Creator’s merging with the creation”, endless, limitless, boundless Oneness.

Such merging takes place at the level of the World of Atzilut and higher, when “the Creator, His light, and His actions are one,” hence Atzilut emanates the white color in spite of the fact that there exists only a simple unity with nothing from created beings. This is because the Creator means Divinity itself (the property of bestowal), whose essence we do not comprehend. “His actions” constitute the ten Kelim HuBTuM existing in Him, which were likened to the color white in a book of wisdom. Even quantity is impossible to discern in the white, for nothing there would make any quantity, as it is all white.

We can characterize neither the Creator nor His actions in the World of Atzilut. Therefore, “The Zohar” speaks of nothing from Atzilut and above, but only about the Worlds of BYA, because otherwise it is impossible to convey the information to us. We will simply be unable to receive it.

The matter of the letters begins in the Worlds of BYA. We first find them in the Kelim: Keter, Hochma, Bina, ZA, and Malchut of the World of Atzilut, but only with the help of the color white, which allows for the letter's shape, whereas there is no color in itself. When we ascend to the World of Atzilut through the Worlds of BYA, we see that the color white has a multitude of forms, although it is formless,that the Creator performs many actions, although in reality he performs none. Various contradictions begin to merge and disappear in this simple unity, in this attainment of perfection.

The ten Kelim in the World of Atzilut reveal themselves in numerous changes according to their shining in the World of BYA, which is similar to the way a mental design is implemented in reality when a house is built.

Thus, all the changes taking place in the Worlds of BYA occur only under the influence of the shining of the Kelim of the Ten Sefirot HuBTuM de Atzilut. Pertaining to those receiving in the Worlds of BYA, we can differentiate all the numerous changes taking place in the color white. As for the World of Atzilut itself, it is just as the color white does not acquire the colors of the letters. Indeed, there is no quantity whatsoever in it.

We do not attain the white color with the help of other letters, i.e., by means of the worlds BYA that superpose the World of Atzilut.

We attain nothing, for there is no quantity or action in it, only a simple, unattainable light.

Kabbalah speaks about how we should correct our perception of the surrounding world in order to feel the World of Infinity instead of it. Everything depends on our sensations and correct adaptations to the true reality in place of the illusion, which we feel in our five senses.

We have said that the notion “the Creator, the light and His actions in the World of Atzilut are one” does not fall into several categories the way we perceive it in our world. Our world, our actions, the Creator, His actions, -all of this -and we seem to be absolutely disunited. Nevertheless, as we correct our perception of reality, it will merge within one all-em-bracing Upper Force, which rules over all.

30. “His light” refers to the light inside of the white color of Atzilut that are Kelim. This light is understood by us only as it concerns the Souls receiving from the World of Atzilut. However, we do not mean the Divinity per se, which is the mystery of the word “He.”

There exists two notions of light: one refers to the word “He”, the other shines out of this category as the color white. It enters the colors red, green, and black of the Worlds of BYA, and descends to us, the Souls.

That is to say, when the three Worlds of BYA rise up to Atzilut with the Souls of people, the light that they receive there is determined as Ohr Hochma or Ohr Haya. It is also called “this white light.”

Hence, we say that out of the five Sefirot ( Keter, Hochma, Bina, ZA, and Malchut) er is colorless, Hochma is white (the World of Atzilut), while Bina, ZA, and Malchut are red, green, and black respectively. This is how the colors are distributed. In other words, Hochma Atzilut) is white, but only with regard to us. However, if we only speak about the color itself, it has no name there at all.

From this point of view, we call this light “His light”, as it is written: “He, the light and His actions are one.” All three of these components are said to merge above the Parsa of the World of Atzilut into one notion, the Creator. This light never descends below the Parsa de Atzilut. Only its tiny luminescence can do so.

We know that Ohr Hochma can only be present in the World of Atzilut, but never under the Parsa. It only shines below the Parsa in order to “tempt” the Kelim by its luminescence and attract them to Atzilut.

That is why it is impossible to comprehend the World of Atzilut per se. We only perceive it as the white color of a book’s page, which serves a basis for printing the letters.

31. The way “The Zohar” describes the Kelim HuBTuM in the World of Atzilut, which increase or decrease as the result of people’s actions, means that in the Upper Light itself there is nothing but its simplicity, because no changes are possible in it.

At our lessons, we study the World of Atzilut, the Worlds of BYA, how the Souls raise their desires to the world Atzilut through the Worlds of BYA, and how the World of Atzilut begins to emanate the light and pull us up to itself. We learn that certain actions take place in the world Atzilut under the influence of MAN, our desires. That is, by our actions, desires, demands, we can cause changes, developments.

Baal HaSulam says that there is another aid for the correct understanding of “The Zohar.” If we disregard it, we will not receive the spiritual information and will fail to understand what is really written in the book. We will be as millions of other people, who kept reading “The Zohar” one generation after another without understanding anything and imagining all kinds of fantastic pictures.

So should what the correct tune-up to “The Zohar” be? The conclusion is that we never affect anything in the World of Atzilut with our actions. And as for all the actions that take place in Atzilut with regard to

the Souls, it only seems to us that only they happen in Atzilut and only with regard to the Souls.

From what we see in this world, where all of our actions take place, we come to believe that the same actions happen in the World of Atzilut.

As much as we become worthy of receiving the light in our world, we receive it. When we fall and become unworthy of the light, it disappears. It seems to us that it happens above, in the World of Atzilut, the source of the light. In actual fact, it is constantly and unfailingly shining upon us, whereas all the changes occur within us. This is the same delusion as in trying to change the world around us. It stems from the same source: We erroneously believe that all changes take place outside, and not within us. However, everything depends on the person’s inner Kelim, his sensations.

Therefore, let us repeat: we should perceive the World of Atzilut as something constant, invariable. The phenomena that we research as its changes with regard to us (rises, falls, AVI and ZON ascending and descending in the worlds, Atik, AA, AVI, YESHSUT, and ZON of the World of Atzilut, the Partzufim that change depending on our MAN), all of this we perceive within us.

In reality, no changes ever take place in the World of Atzilut. It is very important for us to develop a correct attitude to the universe and to receive the information that is contained in “The Book of Zohar.” All that is written there aims at generating necessary changes in us. All our efforts should be directed inward, all the changes in our Kelim (from our present state up to the World of Infinity: boundless attainment) take place only within us. Such an understanding can save us many years of futile effort, search, and confusion.

32. This is similar to a candle for which it makes no difference whether you light up tens of thousands of other candles from it or none. There will be no change in the candle itself. The same is with regard to Adam HaRishon. It matters not whether he will father numerous sons like himself or none at all, for there will be no changes in Adam HaRishon himself.

Similarly, there are no changes in the World of Atzilut, whether the lower ones receive immeasurable abundance from it or receive nothing. All of the growing (advancement) concerns only the lower ones, and occurs within them.

33. However, why do those who have attained the knowledge of “The Zohar”, i.e., the great sages who already live in the World of Infinity, need to describe all the changes in the World of Atzilut. Why do they entangle us this way? They have attained it; for them it is their essence, existence, reality. So why do they describe it in such a confusing form? Do they intend to purposely baffle us? Would it not have been better to describe it in relation to receiving in the Worlds of BYA, and not to pile up so many definitions in the World of Atzilut, to which we would have to look for some kind of excuses?

Baal HaSulam asks the question that should necessarily arise in our mind: “Why is Kabbalah written in this way? It seems to be thoroughly misleading: it tells us of what happens in the Souls as if it takes place in the worlds.” Here is how Baal HaSulam answers: “The same occurs in our world. It seems to us that everything happens outside, that is why we describe our reality the way we do.” In actual fact, as we begin to attain the spiritual, our perception of the world changes so that we see and feel it as something invariable, static, and gradually dissolving in our spiritual vision. But until we do feel this way, the world looks quite tangible, consisting of numerous real objects, actions, forces. Why is it all so confused?

Baal HaSulam writes:

That has in it a big secret. When Kabbalists mention the word “secret”, it means that they wish to reveal something to us. This is becausein our imperfect state we cannot sense the true reality of the World of Infinity. What we feel is our present condition. The difference between our present state and the World of Infinity is called a “secret”. This secret was expressed by the prophets, i.e., by the Kabbalists who have reached a certain level of spiritual attainment called “prophecy”.

Here is what they say:

This has the manifestation of Divinity, of the Creator’s special power, because these images create an impression that they exist outside, although in reality they only exist in the receiving Souls to show them as if the Creator Himself takes part in all the actions together with them.The Soul asks and the Creator responds, moves toward it, while the Soul advances toward Him. Why does the Creator fill the Souls with a sensation as though something happens beyond them? Baal HaSulam answers: in order to maximally increase the comprehension of the Souls.

When I feel that apart from my personal aspiration for the spiritual, the spiritual also advances toward me, I perceive the Creator’s plan in addition to my own actions. By manifesting Himself to me, the Creator as it were is moving in my direction. In fact, He just reveals His plan to me, which I perceive as movement toward me. Thus, beside my own action, which elevates me to the spiritual world, I also receive an additional part of the Creator’s mind. This is a very subtle point. If the person interprets it correctly, he or she begins to understand the Creator’s thoughts in each sensation or action.

It is similar to the father who is hiding himself from his favorite little son in grief and in happiness, although he has in him neither grief nor happiness.We imagine the Creator as “Terrifying”, “Cruel”, “Kind”, and “Loving”, in all of His possible manifestations, as if He always changes. He does that only to force his favorite son to widen his understanding, and to play with him. Only when he grows up and becomes wiser will he discover everything that his father did for him, and learn that there was nothing more than necessary for playing with him.

The same is true with us. In spite of the fact that all of these images and transformations begin and end in the impressions of Souls, this manifestation of the Creator in our perception creates an imaginary picture, as though they all exist within Him. The Creator does that in order to maximally increase the comprehension of the Souls in accordance with the thought of creation, which is “to delight His created beings”.In other words, man should acquire the Creator’s mind and achieve His level.

34. Do not be surprised by the fact that you will find similar examples in the Creator’s governance of this material world. Take our vision, for example. When we see the enormous world before us in all its magnificence, we do not see it as it really is, but only as it is perceived within us. That is, in the rear part of our brain, there is some kind of photo camera that draws everything that we see; not what really exists outside us.

Moreover, the Creator designed our brain in such a way that, like a special mirror, it creates in us an illusion that everything we see exists outside our brain. Although what we see outside of us is not reality, we should still be grateful that the Creator made this mirror in our brain that allows us to see and to comprehend everything that is outside us. By doing so, He gave us the capacity to learn, to get complete and clear knowledge, to measure every subject inside and outside. But for that, most of our knowledge would have been non-existent.

Why is this so? By studying ourselves and the outside world and thanks to the difference between these two states we have an opportunity to develop. Therefore, by feeling ourselves and the Creator Who is, as it were, playing and interacting with us, we not only evolve, but also acquire His wisdom, His thoughts.

The same is true in relation to Divine wisdom. In spite of all the changes that happen inside of the receiving Souls, they see everything in the Giver. Only in this way are they privileged to receive all knowledge and all pleasures in the plan of creation. Other than that, judge by the example. Although we practically see everything in front of us, every sensible person knows precisely that everything we see is only inside our brain. The same is true with the Souls. Although they see all images in the Creator, any researcher of the Upper World knows without doubt that everything is only within them, and not in the Giver.

There is a saying in Kabbalah: “I will know You from within myself.” The time has come for us to begin adjusting our perception of both inner and outer reality. We need to realize that we exist in the absolutely corrected, perfect world, and that everything that happens around us is a result of our false, inadequate perception. By correcting it, we can also correct the world in which we live, and our existence in it. If we succeed to correct our perception of the world, we will enter the sensation of the Upper Realm and the Creator, and "The Book of Zohar" will show us how we can fill our Souls correctly.

35. The Torah laws forbid making any images. They even prohibit depicting nature, let alone people. This is because man should be engaged in creating inner images.

The meaning of the saying is that the Sefira Malchut, which includes all worlds and Souls, and is the root of all the Kelim, creates this picture inside itself.

The picture that we perceive in Malchut is the Creator's picture. That is to say, what we see in the surrounding world, in ourselves, and in what we will later see in the Upper Worlds, is basically a projection of the Creator's light on Malchut.

The matter does not concern Malchut as it is in its own place, but, rather, the situation when Malchut descends and spreads to the created beings, becomes visible to all of them in accordance with their perception and imagination. In other words, Malchut exists only with regard to the receivers, and not by itself. This is the correct perception of the universe.

The Creator says: "In spite of the fact that I appear to you in your properties, i.e., in your perception and imagination, who are you going to compare Me with?" Indeed, before the Creator created the picture of the world and gave it a form, He was the only one that existed in the world without any form or image.

The person who attains the Creator in this world perceives Him as some image. In the Worlds of Assiya, Yetzira, and Beria we always attain His images, i.e., various forms of His manifestation in us. Afterwards, as we rise from the Worlds of BYA to the World of Atzilut and elevate the entire universe with us, we become a part of the Upper simple light.

That is why all hints that are contained in the letters, dots, or holy names are nothing but imprints of our Kelim in the Creator's simple light.

This happens because the Soul consists of 613 Kelim, which we have to correct. Of them, 248 comprise our properties of bestowal (Galgalta ve Eynaim), and 365 constitute our properties of reception (AHP). All of them can be subdivided into five parts in accordance with the Creator's ineffable Name. He projects Himself onto us in such a way that the four letters of His Name form a four-phase superposition on our 613 properties. Hence, it turns out that in whatever world or on whatever level I may be, I always expose my Malchut to the Creator's projected image. This is why man is always called "Adam", whether in the World of Assiya, Yetzira, or Beria. This is a kind of the Creator's prototype, which exists on the level where one can project His image on himself.

36. At first glance, we might find a contradiction in what was said above. Earlier it was said that all the forms emanate only from the Sefira Malchut to the receivers; whereas here it is said that they come from Beria (Bina) and below.

In reality, forms and images come only from Behina Dalet, which is Malchut. All the Kelim come not from the first Ten Sefirot - Keter, Hochma, Bina, and Tifferet - but from Malchut. However, the properties of mercy and restriction interacted in the World of correction. This means that Sefira Malchut (of restriction) ascended, and made its way into Sefira Bina (the property of mercy).

In accordance with that, from this moment on, the Kelim of Malchut became rooted in Sefira Bina. Thus, the Zohar says that the genuine roots of images (Kelim) are in Malchut. But after that, it says they are in the World of Beria, which means it results from the interaction made for the correction of the world.

In addition, the sages said: “Originally, the Creator created the world based on the property of judgment, but saw that the world could not exist, so He made his interaction with mercy”. You should know that the Ten Sefirot KaHaBTuM have many names in the book of Zohar in accordance with their numerous functions.

When they are called “Keter-Atzilut-Beria-Yetzira-Assiya” their task is to distinguish between the Kelim “de Panim” that are called “Ket-er-Atzilut” (Keter- Hochma), and the Kelim “de Achoraim” called Beria-Yetzira-Assiya” (Bina-Tifferet-Malchut). Such a division results from the interaction between the properties of judgment and mercy.

Since the Zohar hints at the interaction between Malchut and Bina, the Sefira Bina is called “Beria.” Before this interaction happened, Bina had neither form nor image, even in relation to receivers.

37. So it continues: “…but after He had given this form to the structure of “Adam Elion”, He descended and “dressed” in it. He is called HaVaYaH, which means the Ten Sefirot KaHaBTuM because the tip of letter “Yud” is Keter, “Yud” is Hochma, “Hey” is Bina, “Vav” is Tifferet, and last letter “Hey” is Malchut. This was done so that the Creator could be attained through His properties, Sefirot.

38. Here is an explanation of what was said above. After her interaction with the restrictive properties of Malchut, from Beria (Bina) and below, images and forms descend to the Souls. It happens not in its place, but only where the receivers are.

It is said: “He gave a form to the structure “Adam Elion”, and came down and “dressed” into this man’s form.” Thus, man’s form consists of 613 Kelim resulting from the Kelim of a Soul. Since a Soul had 613 spiritual Kelim that are called “248 organs and 365 tendons, it is subdivided into five parts in accordance with 4 letters of HaVaYaH:

- Tip of the letter “Yud”, her Rosh is Keter:

- From Peh to Chazeh is Hochma;

- From Chazeh to Tabur is Bina;

- From Tabur to Sium Raglin there are two Sefirot: Tifferet and Malchut.

The Torah describes the Partzuf Adam, which represents the 248affirmative commandments corresponding with “248 organs” and365 negative commandments corresponding with “365 tendons.” It has five parts – the five books of Torah. This is called “the image of Adam Elion”, which means that Adam, in the World of Beria (Bina), where the Kelim start and continue to places where the Souls are. This is called “Adam Elion” for there are three Adamic properties in the Sefirot:

- Adam de Beria;

- Adam de Yetzira;

- Adam de Assiya.

However, Keter and Hochma do not have any image that can be related to any dotted letter or the four letters of HaVaYaH. Since the matter concerns the World of Beria, it is confirmed: “Adam Elion”.

Always remember that the Zohar says there are no images in the place of Sefirot Bina and Malchut, only in the receivers’ place. Since all these Sefirot give the Kelim garments for the Souls to attain the Creator with the help of light descending to them within certain limits in accordance with their 613 organs, we call givers “Adam” aswell. However, they are the color white there.

39. It should not be difficult for you to understand because all four letters of HaVaYaH and the tip of the letter “Yud” are the five Kelim that are always called “letters”, which refer to the five Sefirot KaHaBTuM. The tip of the letter “Yud” and the letter “Yud” in the name of HaVaYaH hint at the presence of the Kelim in Keter and Hochma.

The fact is that when it is said that “images” and “properties” representing Kelim that begin from the World of Beria and below, the matter only concerns the three Sefirot Bina, Tifferet, and Malchut, but not Keter and Hochma, from the point of essence of the Sefirot.

However, you should know that Sefirot are included in each other. There are Ten Sefirot KaHaBTuM in Keter, Hochma, Bina, Tifferet, and in Malchut. In accordance with that, we find that each of the five Sefirot KaHaBTuM has three Sefirot: Bina, Tifferet and Malchut from which Kelim originate.

From that, you need to understand that the tip of the letter “Yud” which refers to the Kelim of Keter, points to Bina and TuM that are included in Keter. The letter “Hey” of the name HaVaYaH that represents the Kli Hochma, points to Bina and TuM that are included in Hochma. Thus, both Keter and Hochma, included evenin Bina and ZON, have no Kelim, while Bina and TUM, included even Keter and Hochma, have Kelim in them.

From that perspective, Adam really consists of five parts. This is because Bina and TuM perform an act of bestowal in each of the five Sefirot, which is concealed in the name “Merkava de Adam.” In accordance with that:

- Adam on level Keter is called “Adam Kadmon,”

- Adam on level Hochma is called “Adam de-Atzilut,”

- Adam on level Bina is called “Adam de-Beria,”

- Adam on level Tifferet is called “Adam de-Yetzira,”

- Adam on level Malchut is called “Adam de-Assiya”.

40. There are ten Names of the Creator, which are correspondingly imprinted on our ten basic properties – Sefirot.

Since Tifferet and Bina are on the middle line, they resemble one another; therefore they are designated by the same name, albeit it is spelled differently.

There is no need to memorize these names; later on we will understand how they originated. We are speaking about the ten none erasable Names. They are called none erasable because if the scribe who writes the Torah scroll makes a mistake in one of them, the entire segment must be destroyed; it is forbidden to correct such mistakes.

What does that mean in our world? Man cannot perceive the world's picture correctly, unless his Ten Sefirot are properly attuned. As with a violin, one can play it only if its strings are properly tuned up. Thus, they form a certain interrelation with one another, each one of them being in its standard, correct state.

Similarly, if at least one of the Creator's Names resonates in us incorrectly, i.e., one of our properties will not be completely similar to His, we will not be able to perceive His manifestation. That is to say, being made up of Ten Sefirot, we perceive the Creator's action in ten of His emanations.

At the same time, when we attain all Ten Sefirot and completely fill them with the Creator's image, an amazing phenomenon occurs. All Ten Sefirot merge, the boundaries between them disappear, and they form the general, Infinite, white light of Atzilut, where we ascend upon attaining all the levels of the Worlds of BYA.

This is what Baal HaSulam writes in his "Preface to the Book of Zohar". This "Preface" deals with the limitations, which exist between us and our perceived reality. All that we experience within us is only perceived in our egoistic Kelim to the extent of their correction. If our properties coincide with those of the Creator, we will be able to understand and sense Him better and better. It is the same as when a radio receiver picks a certain outside wave only because its own wave contour is identical to the outer wave.

In other words, only our equivalence of form with the Creator will enable us to enter the true universe and exist in it. At the beginning, we need to do it in our 613 Kelim, subsequently felt as Ten Sefirot. Afterwards, they are felt as a single whole, the Creator's general manifestation regarding Malchut. When Malchut finally becomes similar to the Creator, it completely merges with the light in its nine first Sefirot. All images fade and disappear, whereas we become one with the Infinite, white light.

41. Unless the Creator’s light spreads onto all created beings by way of filling these holy Sefirot, how can the creatures be honored to know Him, and to fulfill the following: “The earth will be filled with knowledge of the Creator?”

An explanation is that the Creator tricks the Souls into believing that all the changes in the Sefirot happen in Him. The purpose of that was for the Souls to get to know and comprehend Him. Thus, the saying, “The earth will be filled with knowledge of the Creator” is going to be realized.

42. And woe to them who compare the Creator with any kind of measure, or say that this measure is in the Creator, even if it is a spiritual measure which appears to the Souls. This is especially so if it is a material measure that stems from mortal human nature, whose foundation is dust.

Although the Souls perceive all the changes that occur in them as taking place in the Giver, it should be clear to them that there are neither changes nor measures in Him. He is Divine, and it only seems to them, as it is said: “I am similar to what prophets have said.”

Woe to them who err, because they will immediately lose their divine abundance, let alone the fools who see Him as an embodiment in flesh and blood, transient and flawed.

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