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Michael Laitman, PhD

The Zohar—Not without Attainment

All that The Zohar speaks of, even its legends, are the 10 Sefirot Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, and Malchut—and their interactions. To a Kabbalist, the entries and their various combinations are sufficient to reveal all the spiritual worlds.

Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai (Rashbi), author of The Zohar, had a big problem. He was debating with himself on how to convey Kabbalah knowledge for future generations. He did not want to expose people to the content in The Book of Zohar prematurely. He was afraid this would only confuse and mislead people from the true path.

To avoid confusion, he entrusted the writing in the hands of Rabbi Aba, who knew how to write in a special way so only the worthy would understand. Because of The Zohar’s special language, only those who are already on the ladder of spiritual degrees understand what is written there. The Zohar is only for those who’ve already crossed the barrier and acquired some level of spirituality. They are the ones who can understand the book, according to their spiritual degree.

Today, most souls are too materialistic and egoistic to understand The Zohar. They need tools to bring them into the spiritual “zone” first. It’s like a space shuttle that needs a big thrust before it can continue on its own engine. A supportive environment, teacher, and correct books give your spiritual understanding a “boost.”

There are different styles of writing in The Zohar. It was written in different languages, depending on how they wanted to express specific spiritual states. Sometimes the various languages create confusion. When the book talks about laws, people may think The Zohar is preaching morals. When it tells stories, people may see them as fables. Without spiritual attainment, it is difficult to understand what The Zohar is really about.

Some of The Zohar is written in the language of Kabbalah, and some of it is written in the language of legends. Below are examples of two such legends.

The Donkey Driver

The Zohar contains a beautiful story about a donkey driver, a man who drives the donkeys of important men so they can carelessly walk and talk about their affairs. But the donkey driver in The Zohar is a force that helps a person who already has his own soul.

In the story, two men talk about spiritual matters as they walk along from one place to another. Whenever they come to a dilemma they can’t resolve, the donkey driver “miraculously” gives them the answer. As they progress (thanks to the driver’s answers), they discover that their simple donkey driver is actually a heaven-sent angel who is there for just that purpose: to help them progress. When they have progressed to the final degree, they find that their driver is already there, waiting for them.

The Kabbalistic interpretation: the donkey is our will to receive, our egoism. You and I all have a donkey driver, waiting for us to enter the spiritual world so he can guide us. But just like the legend, we will discover who the donkey driver really is only when we reach his degree, at the end of our correction.

The Night of the Bride

Before the end of correction, there is a special state called “the night of the bride.” The story in The Zohar talks about the preparation of the bride for the wedding ceremony. The bride is the collection of all the souls. It is a Kli that is ready to bond with the Creator.

When you reach this state, you feel that your Kli is prepared, supported, and ready for spiritual unity. The groom is the Creator. It is called “night” because the Dvekut (unity) is still not apparent and the Light is still not shining in the vessels. Night means that the vessels still feel darkness, absence of unity.

When the night turns into day, the abundance of the end of correction is promised, but The Zohar doesn’t tell us exactly why it is good—only that it is wholeness, Light, and peace.

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