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Implementing Free Choice

The first principle in spiritual work is “faith above reason.” So before we talk about implementing free choice, we must explain the Kabbalistic meanings of “faith” and “reason.”


In just about every religion and belief system on Earth, faith is used as a means to compensate for what we cannot see or clearly perceive. In other words, because we cannot see God, we have to believe that He exists. In this case, we use faith to compensate for our inability to see God. This is called “blind faith.”

But faith is used as compensation not just in religion, but in practically everything we do. How do we know, for example, that the Earth is round? Did we ever fly to outer space to check it out for ourselves? We believe the scientists who tell us that it’s round because we think of scientists as reliable people that we can trust when they say they checked it out. We believe them; it’s faith. Blind faith.

So wherever and whenever we cannot see for ourselves, we use faith to complete the missing pieces of the picture. But this is not solid information—it is just blind faith.

In Kabbalah, faith means the exact opposite of what we just described. Faith, in Kabbalah, is a tangible, vivid, complete, unbreakable, and irrefutable perception of the Creator—of life’s rule of law. Therefore, the only way to acquire faith in the Creator is to become exactly like Him. Otherwise, how will we know beyond a shadow of a doubt exactly who He is, or that He even exists?


Webster’s Dictionary offers two definitions for the term, “reason.” The first definition is “cause,” but it’s the second definition that interests us. Reason, according to Webster’s, has three meanings:

  1. The power of comprehending, inferring or thinking, especially in orderly rational ways.

  2. Proper exercise of the mind.

  3. The sum of the intellectual powers.

As synonyms, Webster’s offers these options (among others): intelligence, mind, and logic.

Now let’s read some of the insightful words Kabbalist Baruch Ashlag wrote in a letter to a student, explaining Creation’s “chain of command.” This will clarify why we need to go above reason.

“The will to receive was created because the purpose of Creation was to do good to His creatures, and for this purpose there must be a vessel to receive pleasure. After all, it is impossible to feel pleasure if there is no need for the pleasure, because without a need, no pleasure is felt.

“This will to receive is all the man (Adam) that the Creator created. When we say that man will be imparted eternal delight, we refer to the will to receive, which will receive all the pleasure that the Creator planned to give it.

“The will to receive has been given servants to serve it. Through them, we will receive pleasure. These servants are the hands, the legs, the sight, the hearing, etc. All of them are considered one’s servants. In other words, the will to receive is the master and the organs are its servants.

“And as it usually happens, the servants have a butler among them who watches over the master’s servants, ensuring that they work for the desired purpose of bringing pleasure, as this is what the master—the will to receive—wants.

“And if one of the servants is absent, the pleasure related to that servant will be absent, too. For example, if one is deaf, he or she will not be able to enjoy music. And if one cannot smell, one will not be able to enjoy the fragrance of perfume.

“But if one’s brain is missing (the supervisor of the servants), which is like the foreman who watches over the workers, the whole business will collapse and the owner will suffer losses. If one has a business with many employees but lacks a good manager, one might lose instead of profit.

“However, even without the manager (reason), the boss (the will to receive) is still present. And even if the manager dies, the boss still lives. The two are unrelated.”

It turns out that if we want to beat the will to receive and become altruists, we must first overcome its “chief of staff”—our very own reason. Therefore, “faith above reason” means that faith—becoming exactly like the Creator—should be above (more important than) reason—our egoism.

And the way to come by that is twofold: On the personal level, it is a study group and a circle of friends that will help create a social environment promoting spiritual values. And on the collective level, it requires that the whole society learns to appreciate altruistic values.

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