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Michael Laitman, PhD

At the Top of the Ladder

We previously defined Kabbalah as a sequence of causes and consequences that hang down from root to branch, whose purpose is the revelation of the Creator to the creatures. But how do Kabbalists know that? As they reach the top of the spiritual ladder, they discover two things: that creation is made of pure, unadulterated desire to receive pleasure, and that the Creator is made of pure, unadulterated desire to give it to creation.

This brings up another question: If the Creator’s only wish is to give, where did creation’s pure desire to receive come from? Kabbalists explain that the Creator had to create us; otherwise, He wouldn’t have anyone to give to. This is the beginning of the root and branch sequence.


Off Course

Discussing what the Creator wants is dangerous because it can lead us to thinking about the Creator instead of our own correction, which is what is needed if we want to become like Him. What Kabbalists discover once they reach the Creator’s level isn’t written anywhere, but we, too, can get there and find out for ourselves.


Equal but Opposite

Kabbalists called the desire “to do good to the creatures” (us), the Thought of Creation. If we keep this in mind, the whole wisdom of Kabbalah will be easy to learn.

If I want to give, like the Creator, there is nothing that can limit me, because you can’t “lock” a desire in a certain place or time. Of course, we, people, are also unlimited—we want only to receive, and that desire is just as unlimited as the desire to give. In that sense, we are equal to but opposite from the Creator: our orientation is toward receiving, and His is toward giving.

Another element that becomes clearer when we understand the Thought of Creation is why it takes giving to create. When you want to give, you’re looking outwardly, to see where you can do good. But when you want to receive, you are concentrated on yourself, and want only to take from what already exists. Now let’s look at the stages of creation.

A Short Story of Creation

The story of creation started with a root (His desire to do good to His creations), and expanded in four more phases. This is the origin of the Tree of Life, its first root, if you will. In Phase 4 creation restricted itself, performed a Tzimtzum, and rejected all the Light (pleasure) that the Creator wanted to give. Such an act seems to contradict the very Thought of Creation, but it is a necessary step in determining creation as a separate and independent entity from the Creator.

The power by which creation stops receiving the Light is a very special kind of shame, the root of all disgraces, called “the bread of shame.” Kabbalists explain that shame is the most powerful force that drives us.

Now hold tight, because we’re about to plunge deep into the heart of man: the bread of shame is the mother of all shames. It is an experience unlike anything in this world. It is a burning sensation that has only one name fitting for it: Hell. But don’t worry, in Kabbalah no bad comes without its compensation and reward immediately following.

The main difference between our (worldly) shame and the (spiritual) bread of shame is that in our world we are ashamed of not meeting society’s standards, and in spirituality we are ashamed of not meeting the Creator’s standards.

Imagine that you suddenly discovered that the entire universe, from before the Big Bang until the end of all time, is kind, generous, and giving. Sound great? Now imagine that you also discover that there is only one element in it that’s selfish and wants to use everyone and everything else. Well, that must be the devil. Now imagine that you discover that this evil devil is you. What would you do?

Of course, no person can bear it. Then, to top it all off, you discover that the evil is not in your body, it’s in your soul, in your desires, so even if you committed suicide you’d still be evil, because no gun can put an end to your soul.

Naturally, when you discover something like that, the last thing you want is to remain yourself, and the thing you want most is to be a giver like the Creator. And the minute you want it, you get it.

Now you know that the Tzimtzum isn’t a restriction imposed on you. It is the result of your own work of studying yourself. It is also a very rewarding and pleasurable event because it is the first time you receive the ability to actually be something else. You can choose not only between two options in this world but also between two entirely different kinds of nature. When you choose one, your senses will show you our world; and when you choose the other, your senses will show you the spiritual world. But you will be able to choose between them and even jump back and forth from one to the other whenever you want.

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