The Study Method
Q: You write that the first phase in the study of Kabbalah is to read as much versatile theoretical material as possible. If during reading questions arise, should I continue reading, or stop until the material has fully “sunk in?” If I feel fatigue or lack of will to continue the study, must I push myself to study the full amount planned? Should I set up a strict schedule and stick by it, or take into consideration the difficulties that arise from time to time?
A: If you’re in the initial stages of the study, 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 understand the harder parts.
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 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.
The learning material in Kabbalah is divided in two:
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 the 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 (Idra Raba, Idra Zuta, Safra DeTzni’uta) and The Tree of Life. This material must be studied systematically, regardless of your inner state.
The ascent of the soul through the degrees of the spiritual worlds from below upward. Man 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, Rabash, as well as in my own 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, since people who study Kabbalah for the purpose of spiritual ascent are under perpetual changes, and must pick the material they read according to the state they’re in at that moment.