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Michael Laitman, PhD

The Creator Has to Give; We Have to Receive

Kabbalah is really very simple, once you know it. It explains that the Creator is benevolent and that He wants to give us endless, infinite pleasure. Because the Creator is benevolent, He created us with an endless, infinite desire to receive the pleasure He wants to give. In Kabbalah, this is called “the will to receive delight and pleasure,” or, in short, “the will to receive.”


On Course

Basically, intention is the “goal” for which we act. If we want to benefit ourselves, then all we see is ourselves and all that we have created. But if we want to benefit the Creator, then all we’ll see will be the Creator’s world and all that He has created.


In his “Introduction to the Book of Zohar,” Baal HaSulam explains the Creator’s necessity to create the will to receive (creatures):

Since the Thought of Creation was to bestow upon His creatures, He had to create in the souls a great measure of desire to receive that which He had thought to give them. …Thus, the Thought of Creation itself necessarily dictates the creation of an excessive will to receive in the souls, to fit the immense pleasure that His Almightiness thought to bestow upon the souls.

In other words, we have the capability, potential, and even unconscious desire to connect with the Creator and, in receiving His pleasures, enhance our joy in living.

Selfish to the Core

But in practice, there are consequences to such an immense will to receive. Baal HaSulam himself describes the complexity of the human condition in his essay “Peace in the World”:

Еach and every individual feels himself in the world of the Creator, as a sole ruler, that all the others were created only to ease and improve his life, without him feeling any obligation whatsoever to give anything in return.

In plain words, we’re selfish to the core. However, when corrected, this extreme egoism becomes the highest level of altruism and benevolence.

The Most Egoistic Desire: to Be an Altruist

But being born selfish doesn’t mean we will remain selfish forever. Remember that the Creator is benevolent; He has nothing on His mind but giving. As a result, He creates creatures that want only to receive. These creatures begin to receive what He gives, more, and more, and more. Endlessly.

As the will to receive evolves in creatures, an almost magical transformation takes place. They not only want what the Creator gives, but they also want to actually be Creators. Think of how every child wants to become like his or her parents. Think, too, how the very basis of learning is the little one’s desire to grow. Kabbalists say the child’s will to be a grown up stems from the creature’s desire to be like its Creator.


Spiritual Sparks

There is a wonderful, invaluable remedy to those who engage in the wisdom of Kabbalah…. They awaken upon themselves the Lights that surround their souls…. The illumination received time-after-time during the study draws upon one grace from Above, imparting abundance of sanctity and purity, which bring one much closer to perfection.

—Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot”


If your parents are your role models, you would study their actions and do your best to emulate them and become a grownup, too. Similarly, if the Creator is your role model, you would study the Creator in order to become like Him. If the Creator you study is all about giving, about benevolence, you can see how the extreme egoism of wanting to become “Creatorlike” can be turned into altruism (which we explore more fully in upcoming chapters), because that’s what He is. In Kabbalah, the ability to be like the Creator is called “achieving the attribute of bestowal.”


On Course

Another way to think about this idea of altruism is to remember that Kabbalah reminds us that we are not separate from but part of our world. Altruism is about being one with others, united with them. From this perspective, altruism is an intelligent way to look out for our own welfare, as well.


The implication, though it may sound like an oxymoron, is that every person’s most egoistic desire is to be like the Creator: a total altruist.

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