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Back to the Future

Kabbalists explain that thinking we are missing something is indeed a trap, but it’s not a deadlock. If we follow the path of our Reshimot, an example of another intention will appear by itself. So let’s reexamine the concept of Reshimot, and see how they can help us out of the trap.

Reshimot, as we stated in Chapter Four, are records, recollections of past states. Each Reshimo that a soul experiences along its spiritual path is collected in a special “data bank.”

When we want to climb up the spiritual ladder, these Reshimot comprise our trail. They resurface one at a time, and we relive them. The faster we re-experience each Reshimo, the faster we exhaust it and move on to the next recollection.

The next Reshimo is the state that created our present state as they cascaded from the four basic phases, through the worlds ABYA and down to our world. Because now we are climbing back up the ladder, the next Reshimo is the progenitor of the present state, and is therefore higher than the present state.


We must always remember that our spiritual roots are above, not below. Returning to the roots means climbing, not digging down. This is why a climb is a return to the roots, and why the Reshimot that appear during that climb are always higher spiritual states. The reason we don’t experience them as higher testifies to our own corruption, not to the actual degree of the Reshimot we are experiencing.


Two Approaches, Two Paths

We cannot change the order of the Reshimot. That has already been determined on our way down. But we can and should determine what we will do with each of them. If we are passive and simply wait for the Reshimot to change, it will take a long time before we thoroughly experience them, and before that happens they can cause us great pain. This is why the passive approach is called “the path of pain.”

On the other hand, we can take an active approach by trying to relate to each Reshimo as to “another day in school,” seeking to understand what the Creator is trying to teach us. If we simply remember that this world is our practice field, we will tremendously speed up the passing of the Reshimot. This active approach is called “the path of Light,” because our efforts connect us to the Creator, to the Light, instead of to our present state, as is the case with the passive approach.

Actually, our efforts don’t have to succeed; trying is what matters. By increasing our desires to be like the Creator (altruistic), we attach ourselves to higher, more spiritual states.

Desire Makes for Progress

The process of spiritual progress is very similar to the way children learn; it is basically a process of imitation. By imitating grownups, even though they don’t know what they are doing, they create within themselves the desire to learn.

Note: It’s not what children know that promotes their growth; it’s the simple fact that they want to know. The desire to know is enough to evoke in them the next Reshimo, the one in which they already know.

Because the Reshimot are connected in a chain, when the present Reshimo exhausts itself and leaves, it “pulls in” the next Reshimoin line. Thus, we are not really learning anything new in this world or in the spiritual world; we are simply climbing “back to the future.”

If we want to be more giving, like the Creator, we should constantly examine ourselves and see if we fit the description that we consider spiritual (altruistic). In this way, our desire to be more altruistic will help us develop a more accurate, detailed perception of ourselves compared to the Creator.

If we do not want to be egoistic, our desires will evoke the Reshimot that will show us what being more altruistic means. Every time we decide that we do not want to use this or that desire egoistically, the Reshimo of that state is considered to have completed its task, and moves on to make room for the next. This is the only correction we are required to make.

In his book, Shamati (I Heard), Baal HaSulam phrases this principle in these words: “…where by hating the evil [egoism] in earnest truth it is corrected.” And then he explains: “…if two people come to realize that each hates what one’s friend hates, and loves what and whom one’s friend loves, they come into perpetual bonding, as a stake that will never fall. Hence, since the Creator loves to bestow, the lower ones should also adapt to want only to bestow. The Creator also hates to be a receiver, as He is completely whole and needs nothing. Thus, man too must hate the matter of reception for oneself. It follows from all the above that one must hate the will to receive bitterly, for all the ruins in the world come only from the will to receive. Through the hatred one corrects it.”

Thus, simply by wanting it, we evoke Reshimot of more altruistic desires, which already existed within us from the time we were connected in the soul of Adam ha Rishon. These Reshimot correct us and make us more like our Creator. Therefore, desire (the Kli) is both the engine of change and the means for correction. We need not suppress our desires. We simply need to learn how to work with them productively for ourselves and others.

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