Chapter 7. The Study Method of Kabbalah
Once you have recognized that burning question within you that demands you seek answers, you must also have an initial desire for the Creator. If it’s there, you need nothing more! If you have been endowed with such a desire, the whole process is in your hands from that moment on, because all the forces you need are already in your soul. All it takes is to develop them, and that’s your work. It is in your power to do so because your unique body was created specifically to allow you to attain the purpose of creation. Therefore, no one can say that they were incapable, that circumstances prevented them from attaining the goal for which they were born in this world.
If you’re in the initial stages of your studies, you should read a lot, but only what you can understand. Read a lot and don’t stop. Avoid difficult parts because what you can understand easily now will help you later to understand the harder parts.
The learning material in Kabbalah is divided into two parts:
A study of the creation of the worlds, the Partzufim and the Sefirot, the concatenation of the degrees of the concealment of the Creator. That part is crucial to our understanding of the system of creation and its activity. It is studied in the following order: Preface to the Wisdom of the Kabbalah, The Study of the Ten Sefirot, selected sections of The Zohar and The Tree of Life. This material must be studied systematically.
The ascent of the soul through the degrees of the Spiritual Worlds from below upward. A student must read and reread freely the parts that are of most interest. These are studied through the articles and the letters. They were not written in the same language as The Study of the Ten Sefirot, but in the language of emotion, ethics, analysis of actions and so on. It is not really the wisdom of Kabbalah, but how it is used for the ascent of the soul. You’ll read about it in the books of Baal HaSulam and Rabash, as well as in Dr. Michael Laitman’s books. The study is comprised of an acquaintance with the material, meaning a systematic scan of the material in order to be able to find references. This is done because people who study Kabbalah so they will ascend spiritually are under perpetual changes, and must pick the material they read according to the state they’re in at that moment.
Thousands of books have been written throughout the history of Kabbalah, but the instructions of Rabash were to study only through these sources:
The writings of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai
The writings of the Ari
The writings of Baal HaSulam
I suggest new students to start with studying these sources. Later on, when you have absorbed the material, you’ll be able to understand other writers. This will give you a solid basis from which to examine other sources to see if they suit you as well.
At Bnei Baruch, beginners are strongly recommended to use only a number of selected sources. This is because, although everything in the world does point to the Creator, we are unable to see it. In order to see, we must know the right direction, have a correct approach to reality, and learn the fundamentals of the Universal Design and the rules of its development, its goal, and the limitations of our perception.
It is important to note that by no means do we devalue other sources. Many Kabbalists were at an even higher degree than Rav Shimon Bar Yochai or the Ari. However, they were not permitted to write, or if they were permitted, it was with minor implications that were meant for those who were already in the Upper Worlds.
The articles we study rely a great deal on the Ladder commentary. Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) named his commentaries on The Zohar Ha Sulam (The Ladder), because reading it helps us in our world climb the ladder toward the Creator, spanning every degree in between. That is the purpose of creation. Note that The Zohar commentaries can be understood only after studying all its introductions.
Some do study Kabbalah for the knowledge alone. To aspire simply to “know” is wonderful, although it mustn’t be an aspiration for knowledge alone, but rather for attainment: in order to attain the studied material from within you, to discover who your “self” is and where within you lies the subject matter the books describe. After all, everything that’s written there is written from within, from the writers’ personal attainment.
No reasoning in the world will help us understand spirituality because it is above our reason and our minds. This is why we can’t feel it. Our senses can only examine things they can grasp and analyze, a knowledge that we generally refer to as “this world.” In order to feel the Upper World we must acquire other senses, which we call a “screen.” Only with a screen can we feel what is above us, beyond our material sensations, which our natural senses cannot detect. When we are able to sense the Upper World, we also receive a different mind and a different reason.
First, we get the wisdom and the reason of the Upper World. Then, we begin to feel it. The only way to acquire a screen is through the wisdom of Kabbalah.
Therefore, when we read books about Kabbalah, the authors speak to us from exactly the degree they are describing. There is no time in spirituality. As the greatest Kabbalist of our time, Rav Yehuda Ashlag says, “…but out of the great desire and yearning to understand what they are learning, they awaken upon themselves the lights that surround their souls” (Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot, item 155).
Out of a great desire to attain what they are studying, the readers awaken in themselves a surrounding Light from the same spiritual degrees they’re reading about. What is important is the intent. But the problem is that we cannot force the right intent on ourselves. That aim should come from the heart, provided the heart really wants it. This will occur if there is a need to attain something higher, if our souls have developed to the point where they need the Creator, not the material things in this world.
Sometimes we simply do not feel like studying. But in fact, it’s actually good to study when you feel you’re not in the mood for it. At such times, it is best to study the structure of the worlds. There can be great benefits to studying “against yourself,” and against your current mood.
For example, if I’m in despair, I should read articles about yearning for the Creator. We have to experience all the emotions. After all, we are built from combinations of all the feelings and attributes that exist in the world. In Kabbalah you experiment on yourself.
Only the soul can sense its true desires. We ourselves do not feel them. We may think that a certain desire is burning within, and may actually be deluding ourselves. Yet the soul is what will finally lead us to our goal, as it has led us thus far. It is not through our wisdom or conscious thought that we have come to aspire to the Upper Light.
In order to develop the necessary attributes for growth within, it is advised that “Whatsoever thy hand attaineth to do by thy strength, that do.” This means that you should do everything you can to absorb as much material as possible. Read, even if only to enrich your knowledge and brag to your friends about it. In time, the sheer quantity of your studies will bear fruit.
This is also true regarding the first stage of your studies. In order to absorb as much information as possible, it is acceptable to lie to yourself and set goals, specifying self-benefit. But afterwards you will realize that your results depend on the quality of the material, meaning your approach and your intentions. That is why it says, “The Light in it reforms.” The proper intention is what leads us to attainment.
Anything we attain and speak of is what we attain within ourselves. What we hear, see and feel are not external objects, but our own responses to those objects. When we attain the Creator, we realize that nothing really changes outside us. Only we change inwardly, and we relate to those inner changes as if they were external ones.
People make every effort to absorb everything around them and take in as much as they can with as little effort as possible. In such a state, as complete egoists, we experience only our internal responses. But when we succeed in restricting our intentions to please ourselves, we begin to want to please the Creator, to feel what is outside us, namely the Creator, without aiming for ourselves.
Then, to the extent that we want “not for ourselves,” we feel the Light of the Creator. To the extent that we get to know the Creator, we feel a desire to give to Him, which results in the buildup of a reciprocal bond between us and the Creator. This extent of the revelation of the Creator is called a “degree.” In our emotions, these degrees are organized in five groups called “worlds.” These are the measurements of the discovery and concealment of the Creator.
Sometimes when studying the system of the worlds, students get to the point of the creation of Malchut and the first restriction. After that, they stop understanding and can’t make any more progress. It is actually a good sign if you cannot understand the simplest things. It means that your soul demands to be filled with the sensation of the Creator. This suppresses the need for intellectual understanding. As a result, you do not fill up your brain because your soul will not let you!
However, without a screen, the soul cannot be filled up, either. As a result, one tries to learn but can’t understand anything. In fact, this is another good sign that shows one’s inner demand for spiritual development.
Those whose souls do not motivate them toward inner sensations, but toward knowledge, will study well and gain a tremendous amount of knowledge. However, their souls will remain empty. At the same time, their knowledge is revealed to be shallow; they don’t understand the inner processes because the Creator made a Vessel of desire, not a Vessel of understanding, so knowledge of Kabbalah can arise only from emotional scrutiny.
In the Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot, Rav Yehuda Ashlag writes that, unlike a business that demands skills, memory, technical abilities, agility, rhythmic sense, and strength, the study of Kabbalah demands no skills, because all the skills are attributes of the body that is in this world. In other words, these attributes pertain to the nature of this world, which are not involved in attaining the Upper One.
People often wonder if, by studying Kabbalah, they will become smarter. A person’s desires are very small at birth. Then they begin to develop to a slight degree. How much these desires develop determines how much the mind develops. The brain can develop only to the extent that it must in order to satisfy our desires. But when we embark on the study of Kabbalah, our desires grow and we become more and more egotistical, and therefore smarter. But there is no need to worry: when you study, you will get everything you need for your development from Above. You will actually feel something new within you—a gift from the Creator.
Sometimes after years of studying Kabbalah, the goal of one’s life becomes “routine.” Those special thoughts seem to disappear, and it sometimes feels as if there is no movement or attainment. Sometimes the goal itself disappears. This is, in fact, temporary. It is when we feel absolute emptiness, which occurs only when we strive for attainment with all our might, that we make real progress.
Our struggle may be made under the most desperate of situations and after years of disappointments and the perpetual reawakening of our aspirations towards our goal. Then, gradually, it becomes clear that only the Creator can change our situations. Such change can occur only by our total devotion, despite the fact that the shells, meaning our egoistic desires to enjoy the Light of the Creator, constantly tell us that we can still do things by ourselves. Only then, and without any warning, comes the help of the Creator, like a dream come true, at the least expected moment.
The most important thing in Kabbalah is to attain the screen that you begin cultivating on your own. The screen is born and develops in us without any intent on our part, because we don’t know what it is. All the new things that appear in us are solely the direct result of our studies.
We cannot know what will appear in us the next minute. It will always be something new and unfamiliar, so how can we know about it in advance? How can we anticipate it?
“New” means something from a higher degree than my current one. Therefore a screen cannot be cultivated intentionally.
If after awhile you lack joy from your study environment, remember that it is a temporary state. Keep studying and your alienation from society will soon be replaced by the opposite situation: you’ll feel that there are more pleasures around you than you ever felt before. Then, you’ll discover within you a greater will to receive than before. This will happen to give you something to correct.
When you feel a lack of desire for the spiritual hits, read a lot, and read only the material that your teacher suggests, those parts that your heart desires. At times such as these, my teacher suggested I divide the study between the Preface to the Wisdom of Kabbalah and articles and letters. Study whichever calls to your soul.
Moods often change along the way. This is natural and shows you’re making progress. The articles you’ll read will show you that your feelings and thoughts are typical of one who is making progress. In the morning, before work, study in The Science of Kabbalah for an hour, and before you go to bed read the letters and articles that speak of inner work.
When you, as a student of Kabbalah, feel a lack of excitement, what you are feeling is the beginning of your receiving new values and your reaction to this phenomenon. This period takes some time; you cannot perform significant changes all at once because your mind, your fundamental systems, your nervous system, and the reciprocal relationships with your environment make it very difficult for you to do so.
If you experience this, the good news is that you have already begun the initial process of inner change. Keep studying and asking questions. You’re just like any other person who feels the initial effects of correct study on your inner world. A person who studies Kabbalah does not descend from a previous state, but climbs to a higher one, so there’s no reason for despair, much less depression.
There’s a law in nature called “the law of equivalence of form.” That law makes objects with similar attributes draw nearer, and objects with opposite attributes distance themselves from each other. When signs of spiritual attributes arise, that law begins to act on us to the degree that we have attained these attributes. If you study the material correctly, you’ll soon find that many tiny changes happen within you. You’ll find you are being led, that there’s a soul within you, and that something is affecting it from the outside.
You’ll find that your soul and the Light of the Creator, which affects it, are leading you, not your physical brain. Your mind contains knowledge of the present, whereas the future remains unknown. But even before the future is revealed to you, you want to do more than just fantasize about it; you want to act as if you are in it, as if you have risen to the next degree of awareness.
Sometimes after studying for awhile, a person may wish to drop certain things in their life and devote more time to their spiritual work. But externally, you must continue to work and not change a thing! No matter how much your interest drops, you must not follow your desires, but your duty.
When we study Kabbalah correctly, the surrounding Light that is awakened works our souls and initiates the next spiritual state. That state will arrive by itself and replace the present state. By making considerable efforts in the study of Kabbalah, a person can accelerate personal changes. That, in fact, is the only freedom of choice we have in this world.
Baal HaSulam writes in the Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot that the Creator rests one’s hand on good fortune and tells him: “Choose this for yourself.” So where, then, is the choice? The choice is, in fact, that either we are pushed from behind, which we will feel as pain, or we run forward by ourselves, ahead of the pain. This is our only freedom of choice.
Anything that happens in our world, anything that people do, is all predetermined, because all our characteristics and our environment, both internal and external, are predefined by the Creator. Freedom of choice exists only for those who crave spirituality and only by their personal efforts.
Every student wants to know how to accelerate his or her spiritual progress and in so doing, avoid the agony. You can do this in the following ways:
Read the books of Baal HaSulam, Rabash, and Dr. Laitman.
Join a group that aims to discover the objective of creation. Be active and do things for the members of the group and the spiritual leader.
Begin to write everything you know about spirituality. That way, you can correct your current spiritual degree more quickly and create a need to attain the next degree.
Take an active part in circulating the wisdom of the Kabbalah. This is the most effective means of all.
People often have questions about so called “bad situations.” Actually, from a Kabbalistic point of view, bad situations do not exist. The Creator gives us everything for the sole purpose of correcting us. There is the Creator, there is us and there is what we receive from Him.
It is said “The Light of the Creator makes one weary.” The Light shows us who and what we are, that we’re only tiny egoists. However, it shows us our weaknesses—our enslavement to our ego—only to the degree that we can bear what we see. The more we develop and correct, the more obvious it becomes that we are lowly, and far different from the Creator. We are shown this to correct ourselves by simply recognizing our own nature, and then rejecting it. Each time we read the right books, we will realize more and more deeply who we are and who the Creator is.
What is the meaning of the study of Kabbalah? When we begin our studies, according to our progress in life, we begin to aim our actions toward the goal, which is to attain a spiritual contact with the Creator. We go under His private Providence exactly to that extent, which is the purpose of our search, though our search is still an unconscious one.
If we read only genuine books about the spiritual world, if that is what we find interesting, we are already under the private Providence of the Creator. The Creator guides everyone, but He guides us personally. Every soul receives the Light from Above with growing intensity, and therefore develops in accordance with the purpose of creation. This is called “general Providence.” But when He takes us out of the ranks to promote us faster and pull us toward Him, it is called “private Providence.”
In a state of Private Providence, we begin to feel ups and downs. These will be expressed in our sensation of the Creator or its absence, according to our own attributes. We will stop looking at life as others do. While others say, “Thank God another day went by. I stayed healthy, I did a few things,” we, on the other hand, will start evaluating ourselves in greater detail.
We will ask ourselves, “Am I closer to the Creator today? Do I have a desire for Him?” Even if our answers are negative, they are nonetheless a testimony to our progress.
Contrary to all religions and philosophies, Kabbalah states clearly and unequivocally that spiritual ascent means increased pleasure. The beginning of the path includes the study of the Kabbalah, while the reader maintains a regular way of life without change or limitations. But since our desires influence our acts, if we want to achieve something sublime, we must act accordingly.
Thus, we see that the correction is a process involving the effect of the Upper Light on us. It is not a process of restriction by coercion. That is precisely the difference between Kabbalah and religion: Kabbalah activates the power of the Creator— it is not an oppressing force from the outside. Therefore, when we receive more and more strength from Above, it opens up the channels for greater desires, which can then be corrected and used appropriately.
We cannot live without pleasure. After all, our very essence is the will to receive delight and pleasure, and the purpose of creation is the attainment of perfect pleasure. There’s nothing wrong with the pleasure itself; we must correct its objective, not the desire itself. So what do I do with my desires? I want a big, beautiful house; though a small one will do just fine. I want a new car, though the old one still runs. As for my job, I’m still interested in one that bears more responsibility. Do I have to clear out these desires in order to make room for more study?
Anything in our lives—our choices, the steps we take, our preferences, and the way we evaluate our lives—is defined by how necessary we feel these things are. It is said that “All that a man hath will he give for his life” (Job 2:4). On the one hand, this quote can be interpreted this way: a person would sacrifice everything for life, health and the possibility to go on living. On the other hand, you can say that one would give everything away (life included) for something without which one’s life would be pointless. We can find examples of this throughout history. Even in our materialistic time, everything depends on our appreciation of both material and spiritual values. These values change with our development, making self-coercion unnecessary.
In the Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot, Rav Yehuda Ashlag explains that in the past, at the dawn of history, one who wanted to study Kabbalah and be introduced to spirituality had to restrict oneself and live on meager bread and water. But today, after corrections have been made in the world by more recent Kabbalists, along with the development of the souls from generation to generation, all it takes to reach the Upper World is the study of Kabbalah.
Therefore, the asceticism and restrictions that people used to practice are no longer necessary today. Kabbalists have drawn the Upper Light toward us, especially since the time of the Ari (16th century). As it says, “The Light in it reforms,” meaning the study of Kabbalah awakens an invisible illumination of Upper Light that corrects us.
Kabbalists explain that the study of Kabbalah awakens this illumination within the disciple more intensively than does any other study. Therefore, they advise anyone who wants to attain spirituality and the purpose of creation to study Kabbalah. Of course you can go on building houses, buying cars and giving expensive gifts, but it’s important to maintain regular studies, read any time you can, and read only the writings of genuine Kabbalists. That study will bring you new internal situations and new values by which you’ll make your future decisions.
The primary and the secondary interests in your life will gradually change, but this change must come from within you, not by coercion. There should be no coercion in spirituality, and the source of the coercion in our world is the shells. The answer is to keep studying Kabbalah and be yourself at all times. In time, your soul will guide you and tell you how much energy to put into spirituality and how much to expend on activities in this world.
When we begin to study, sometimes we feel miserable because we don’t know how to change our aim. I have no clue how to invert this, so that none of the things I do will be for my personal gain. Such feelings are good at the beginning of our studies. They show that we’re progressing toward spirituality, toward the barrier, toward the sensations of the Upper World.
Each degree, each spiritual situation we experience, must die or disappear. In other words, we must discard the previous degree of growth as unworthy of our new state. The same applies to souls: new life begins only after death has occurred and the process of decay is completed.
Therefore, our current situation ends when it becomes intolerable. The desire to move on to the next phase is formed out of the intolerable present state. Disagreement with the present situation brings with it a new situation. Therefore, our solution lies in focusing solely on the quantity and the quality of our studies. We should read a lot (quantity) with the thought that each and every word should bring us new powers and change us from within (quality).
Only those who discover the Light in the Kabbalah find that their strength grows weaker. This is because they study it to receive strength from Above, to be corrected, and to resemble the Creator. They do not want to stay at the level of simply satisfying their bodily needs. As our sages say, “You are called man, and not those who commit idolatry.”
Those who commit idolatry are those who worship their evil inclinations and bow before their egos. You can either bow before the Creator, or before your ego, because only those two possibilities exist. Bowing before something indicates the desire for it, or for the attribute it symbolizes. Bowing before the ego means a person places the ego above self; there is no desire to suppress it, but to feed on it. The surrender to the ego is called “bowing before an alien god.” In the Kabbalah, this is called, “idolatry.”
If the student studies Kabbalah in order to become a “human,” the evil inclination sees that it has nothing to look for here and the natural forces weaken. But at that time, the person still does not have the spiritual powers of bestowal, and therefore is still not attracted to the Creator, as there is not yet the knowledge of who He is.
Being between the two worlds is the state that causes the indifference. It is a necessary phase. After that phase, the Creator gradually appears. Higher spiritual goals appear and the person moves on. If a student has fatigue that stems from the lack of genuine desire for spirituality, it is important to understand that there is a work, Lo Lishma (not for Her name not for the Creator) and Lishma (for Her name for the Creator). Working Lo Lishma is spiritual work that first entails working with the intent for self. In order to understand that you’re working Lo Lishma (and not everyone attains even that), you feel at least slightly—as though from afar—the meaning of working Lishma, so that you can compare the two and realize that you’re working Lo Lishma.
Yet, these are only mechanical acts. We must not delude ourselves that we have reached anything substantial. Then, gradually, we must ask the Creator to plant in us the power to perform a genuine spiritual act, just for Him. All of this happens gradually. A temporary physical weakness is a result of the passage from doing things for oneself, to doing them for the Creator.
Sometimes, we have a strong desire to share some of our newly acquired feelings with a friend. Students should never share inner sensations and emotions with anyone except the Creator or their teacher. That is because other people, even unintentionally, will project their egos onto us, and we will lose our mental strength for some time. Although we might feel temporary relief, we will temporarily lose the ability to climb to a higher degree when we share our feelings.
It is a very natural thing for us to speak only from ourselves. However, in our words, we always include our egos. It doesn’t matter if the ego is concealed or revealed—the most important thing is not to talk about our spiritual feelings toward the Creator. We can talk about Sefirot, Partzufim and about the wisdom of Kabbalah indefinitely, as long as we don’t show our feelings, because in doing so, we can harm both ourselves and our friends. The same applies to our spouses, children, and even complete strangers. Study the books, but never talk about your feelings.
The study of Kabbalah does not just include work in the books. Physical actions for the benefit of the group, organizing lectures and Kabbalah study groups are more beneficial than the study itself. Serving the teacher is also more beneficial than studying with him. In his Speech for the Completion of The Zohar, Rav Yehuda Ashlag quotes the following saying of ancient Kabbalist sages: “Make for yourself a rav and buy yourself a friend.”
In other words, choose a person whom you think is important and make that person your teacher. Then, try to please him or her. Your teacher is very important to you. By pleasing your teacher, you’ll get used to doing for others, and by the force of habit you’ll be able to do the same for the Creator. By being spiritually close to your teacher, you’ll receive the degree by which the teacher appreciates the Creator. That will give you a chance to do at least something for the Creator, and enter the spiritual world this way. At the same time, you will acquire the sensation of the greatness of the Creator and you’ll be able to advance to complete adhesion with Him.
Observing your teacher’s requests with the aim to fulfill them allows you to attain spiritual resemblance with them. You’ll be able to receive their thoughts and knowledge, and above all, attain their love and attraction for the Creator, which would give you the ability to develop and progress spiritually. However, studying with your teacher is always motivated by the desire to attain personal knowledge for yourself. As a result, the study does not bring with it spiritual nearness to the Creator. In other words, by doing things for the teacher, you attain their thoughts and by studying you will attain only their words.
You can only attain their thoughts if the motivation to serve the teacher stems from the desire to please the teacher, and not yourself. In the opposite situation, when our motivation is our desire to serve for self-gratification, studying is the goal and becomes more important than serving the teacher.
If the environment around us does not praise the glory of the Creator, as it should, we will never be able to attain a spiritual degree. Therefore, it is always recommended that we as students regard ourselves as the lowest (spiritually) compared to our group. This enables the student to adopt the state of mind of the collective. Our environment is necessary to attain the purpose of creation, which is why you should “buy yourself a friend.”
Efforts in circulating Kabbalah help to accelerate the changes more than anything. Things will change anyway; the only question is how long the process will take—a day, a month, our entire life? The next degree is right around the corner, and it is in our power to soar to it right now! It depends on us alone and no one else!
When we study to attain the Spiritual World, time is of crucial importance, as we must first grow accustomed to spiritual concepts and definitions, and then live in them. By “time,” we mean that changes occur in us consistently and at a great speed. We don’t feel them; in fact, we may feel as though nothing is happening. Only afterwards do we suddenly and very profoundly realize all the changes that have occurred.
This is a result of those little inner changes that we do not feel. Our sensitivity threshold is very high and only from a certain degree onward do we begin to feel those changes. Everything that goes through us leaves its mark on our souls, and after some time the change suddenly appears. Therefore, the most important thing to do is to read, all the time, no matter how much of the text we absorb.
There are texts that must be read and reread according to the general curriculum, and there are texts that one should read only when in the mood. Such are letters or articles about the feeling of the spiritual. It is said that when we ascend, when we feel close to the material, it is good to read just the things that touch our feelings; i.e., where understanding will come through our hearts. The problem in attaining the spiritual is that we do not have the correct senses to do so. The spiritual can be acquired slowly and gradually when the heart allows it. Thus, there is a time to use the brain, and there is a time to use the heart.
Sometimes when we simply hold a book of Kabbalah, we immediately get all sorts of disturbances that “crawl” into our minds, until we just want to drop our studies. But as soon as we are sent pain from Above, we should take a Kabbalah book in our hand and then we will have no problem focusing on its words.
All that the Creator created is a desire to enjoy. In humans, that desire is developed more than in all other animals. The goal of the Creator is for humankind to be like Him: complete and eternal. But that goal can be attained only through the influence of pleasure or pain. Because we are made to enjoy and to feel pleasure, we cannot not feel anything. We feel the scarcity of pleasure as agony. When pleasure comes, we accept it as natural and take it for granted, thinking, “I deserve it.” When pain comes, we resent it and feel, “I don’t deserve this.” Again, this stems from the fact that we are born of a substance called “desire to enjoy.”
Because the Creator has a desire to bestow upon His creatures, He created us with a desire to enjoy. But if we were influenced by pleasure alone, because we are made solely from a desire to enjoy, we would turn into such egoists that we would become stupid. Thus, only the search for pleasure forces us to develop. In order to bring us to the complete development, meaning to be like the Creator, there is only one option: bestowal.
When we receive pleasure, we think we deserve it, but as soon as we feel pain, we begin to search for its source. Thus, we gradually come to the Creator, the origin of both pleasure and pain. Pain creates in us a desire to find its source, to know the Creator. Otherwise, we would never know the Creator and would never be able to equalize with Him.
If we are told that studying Kabbalah is good for us, how can we strengthen ourselves along the way? The Creator sends us disturbances so that we will learn by overcoming them how to approach Him. And if the disturbances cannot bring us enough strength to overcome them, we are sent more agony to force us to make an extra effort to overcome them. At that point, the disturbances no longer frighten us because the fear of pain forces us to be on constant alert. And this is the way! You, after all, want to attain the greatest thing there is, not just in our world, but anywhere!
As we study, many questions arise. It is important to understand that a question is a Vessel, and what matters is the Vessel. Once it is completed, the Light (the answer) immediately fills it. If we’re ready for the answer, we feel the Upper Light to the extent of the ripeness of our will. If we’re not ready for the answer, we do not feel the Light.
The Upper Light is at eternal rest. It is always in us. Despite the fact that the Light and the Vessel have opposite attributes, when the Light fills the Vessel, they become whole, one. Answers come precisely where there are questions.
The Creator and the creature merge into one attribute, although the creature doesn’t feel it. Kabbalists don’t hide this merging; on the contrary, they emphasize it. They do it so that others will realize that their efforts are meant to help them discover for themselves what is always within, but is concealed because of our current corrupted state.