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Michael Laitman, PhD

Study Requirements

Q: Can I study Kabbalah by myself?

A: Studying without a teacher is impossible. The teacher should set a spiritual example, explain about the spiritual structure, how it works, how to approach it and how to raise ourselves to it.

Teachers should also explain how we can lift ourselves to a higher spiritual degree and how to control that spiritual level. There has never been a case in history when someone rose without assistance. It was always a case of a rabbi and a disciple working together.

I myself searched for many years before I found my rabbi.

Q: How important is it to choose your teacher in Kabbalah?

A: This is a routine question that I hear often. “How will you prove to me that you are the teacher that I need?” This is a very good and just question. It is your life, it was given to you just once and you want to make the most of it. But there is nothing I can tell you. How can I prove to you that I am better than anybody else?

The Kabbalah has a very simple answer: one should study where one’s heart desires, where one feels one belongs. It is not a place that you are being persuaded to think is your place, or that you’re pushed toward. When you detach yourself from persuasions, from anything external, from your upbringing and from everything that you have heard in your entire life, and feel in your heart that it is the place for you, then you should stay. That is the only test!

Q: How much does group study accelerate the spiritual progress of a person who studies alone?

A: Millions of times. A person who studies alone can only use one’s own vessel to receive the Light of the Creator, meaning spirituality. People who study in a group, even if they sometimes argue, create a kind of spiritual vessel that consists of all the participants, and everyone begins to enjoy its illumination. Let us assume that there are ten participants. The illumination that is received is not ten times as much as a single individual can receive, but millions of times stronger.

The reason is the incorporation, meaning the soul of each and every one of the participants consists of 620 parts, with each part joining the others. The mixture of the parts together creates one collective vessel.

Q: What – if any – effect does language have on the study?

A: Kabbalah can be studied in any language. But Hebrew is the natural language because the Jews are the group that should lead humanity to spirituality. They are the descendants of Abraham, the first Jew, the first to have crossed the barrier and entered the land of Israel. This is why he is called a Hebrew (Ivri, from the word Over), and his language was Hebrew.

Most Kabbalists wrote in Hebrew because they were the heirs of Abraham, meaning his sons, his children. But in principle, Kabbalah is a study about the creation of the world and can be expressed in any language.

Q: Can Kabbalah be taught in other languages besides Hebrew?

A: If you open the Zohar, you will see that it is written in Aramaic. Aramaic was the spoken language in ancient Persia and the everyday language of Mesopotamia. Therefore, the Zohar was written in the language that was then the most prevalent.

At that time, Israel was under Greek occupation, which is why there are quite a few Greek words in the Zohar, which remained as Kabbalistic terms and names, like Italian words in music.

It makes no difference in what language we study Kabbalah, because when we attain insights about the surrounding world, we attain the emotional form and discover that there are no words, letters or sounds in that form. Even when we feel something in our world, we do not feel it in words and cannot always find the right words to express what we feel.

Words are completely external clothing; their sole purpose is to convey information. This can be done in several ways, which is why language itself has no meaning. Knowledge can be conveyed in English, Russian or any other language, even though the writers of the Kabbalah wrote in Aramaic, Hebrew and some Greek. There are also Kabbalah books in Arabic, and Kabbalists in the middle ages wrote in ancient French.

Again, a language is only an outer dressing to help convey information.

Q: Can a gentile study Kabbalah?

A: Anyone who is interested can study Kabbalah. Kabbalah books have been available for everyone’s scrutiny for thousands of years. You can go into any store and purchase any book you want on Kabbalah. No one will ask who you are.

No secrets are taught in Kabbalah. The wisdom of Kabbalah is called “the wisdom of the hidden,” not because it is secret in and of itself, but because it reveals things that were hidden before we began to study. It reveals everything that surrounds us.

However, the wisdom of Kabbalah is comprised of two parts: “flavors of the Torah” and “secrets of the Torah.” The flavors of the Torah investigate the structure of the spiritual worlds, man’s soul, and how one should correct oneself. Everyone is permitted to study that part. This material is written about in books of Kabbalah sold all over the world and translated into English, Russian and other languages. Anyone can learn the flavors of the Torah.

The “secrets of the Torah” is the hidden part of the Torah. Nothing is written about it in any book. That part is taught only after a person has acquired the flavors of the Torah, attained the structure of the spiritual worlds as well as one’s own completely, and recognized and partaken of the process of creation.

A person who has attained that level, where physical life and death do not exist, sees the entire process from beginning to end and is above our world. Then the secrets open up like innermost fountains, and we understand the laws that are at the basis of that system. Before that, we will not understand the meaning of those secrets, even if we heard or saw them.

Q: Can you explain Kabbalah to the non-Jews by using general terms, without using the terms of Kabbalah?

A: There’s no reason to explain or refrain from explaining anything. Our goal is to make the books of Kabbalah and all the knowledge about it accessible for everyone, all over the world. In principle, gentiles should come to Kabbalah in masses only after the Jews do, but if there are those among them who’ve already ripened, they’ll follow the same path as Jews. After all, Kabbalah is a method for connecting with the Creator, who is unique. A gentile who walks toward the Creator is called “Jewish,” and a Jew who doesn’t is called a “gentile.”

Q: What is the best age to start studying Kabbalah?

A: There is no age limit for the study of Kabbalah. I have a student who is eighty years old, and I have students who have just finished high school. When you study, there are no differences between age or origin. The soul doesn’t make such discriminations.

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