|Man has always sought answers to the basic questions of life: Who am I? What is the
purpose of my being? Why does the world exist? Do we continue to exist after our physical
being has completed its tasks?
|Everyone, each in his own way, tries to answer these questions from the sources of
information at his disposal. Each one of us formulates his perception of the world based
on his or her experience. Reality and everyday life constantly put this perception to the
test, making us react, improve, or otherwise change it. With some of us this process
occurs on a conscious level; with others it happens unconsciously.
|The urge to effect change and to seek answers stems from the will to receive pleasure
and avoid suffering.
|The laws of nature, our life experience and the behavior of living creatures teach us
that there is no logical way to completely avoid suffering. From this aspect, we are just
the same as all living creatures. A cow, a frog and a fish also seek, in their own way,
the maximum amount of pleasure with a minimum amount of discomfort.
|The essential questions of man's being add another dimension to human suffering. They
do not allow us to feel satisfied even when this or that goal has been fulfilled. When one
attains the goal he is striving for, he immediately feels he's missing yet another
pleasure. This prevents him from enjoying his achievements, and his suffering is renewed.
In retrospect, he sees he has spent most of his time making an effort to achieve his
goals, and has gained very little pleasure from success itself.
|In recent years, a massive, world-wide search for answers has been underway. Many rush
off to the Far East and India in search of the truth. Some find temporary satisfaction in
techniques or measures aimed at relaxation, or reducing suffering by minimizing
expectations and the power of desire.
|These actions merely provide a camouflage for the fact that they have not found
contentment. Various forms of meditation, nutrition, and physical and mental exercise
quiet man's animal instincts and enable him to feel more comfortable from the point of
view of his physical state. He feels he is in control of his reactions as he develops
self-awareness. He learns to listen to the needs of his body and personality, and to
satisfy them. The process teaches him to lower his expectations, yet it serves as a mere
alternative to his true desires.
|Instead of solutions, he receives a local anesthetic against the source of his
suffering. But when the effects of the anesthetic wear off, he discovers that he cannot
ignore the truth: Minimizing the desire to receive pleasure still does not let him escape
it. Anyone taking this path and examining himself in a completely honest manner realizes
that he hasnt yet reached the longed-for goal leaving suffering behind and finding
|Then there are those who seek a logical explanation for the universe through
|The laws of nature and man's behavior have been studied for thousands of years. In the
last hundred years there has been significant progress, ever since scientific thinking
became a legitimate way to study our worlds natural phenomena.
|Science uses as its basis logical assumptions and reliable, quantifiable research and
data. The progress it has brought to the world is beyond doubt, yet it is limited. That
which cannot be measured by scientific tools lies beyond its borders. Man's soul, his
behavior and what motivates him are beyond the bounds of truly scientific study.
|Even in the field of natural sciences, modern scientists and researchers discover that
the more they make progress in their research, the more obscure and confusing they find
the world to be than when they first embarked on their research. Even the most advanced
science texts are going to resemble books on mysticism, or at the very least, science
fiction. It is no wonder that many scientists are science fiction fans. But fiction does
not supply solutions s-- it leaves those looking for their true way confused and
frustrated, without answers.
|Over the generations, Kabbalists have written many books in various styles, in
accordance with the era in which they lived: the language of the Bible (which includes the
five books of Moses, the Writings and the Prophets), the language of legends, the
legalistic language, and the language of Kabbalah, a way of describing the spiritual
upper-worlds system and how to reach it. In total, four languages were created to
introduce us to our spiritual reality.
|They are not different ways, but they are aspects of the same subject, in different
format. They explain how to set forth in the spiritual world, and how it is built. The
Bible and other spiritual authentic sources were set down in order to teach us how to add
the feel of the spiritual sphere to this world, how to progress in it, study it and
receive spiritual knowledge.
|Baal Hasulam writes in his book Fruits of the Wise: "The inner wisdom of Kabbalah
is the same as that of the Bible, The Zohar and the Legend, and the only difference
between them is the manner of the logic. It is rather like an ancient tongue translated
into four languages. It is self-evident that the wisdom itself did not change at all due
to the change in language. All we have to consider is which copy is most convenient and
widely accepted for conveyance."
|Kabbalists used material objects of our world-- terms which are known to us - to
describe the spiritual realm. It is why it was easier (and dangerous) for a person to err
in his study, because he imagined material pictures of our world which absolutely do not
exist in spirituality. [See chapter on Branches - The Language of Kabbalists.]
|This book reaches out to all those who are seeking awareness, who have not yet
forgotten what everyone ask himself to one degree or another when he is alone. It is a
book for those searching for a logical and reliable method of studying the worlds
|It is not a Kabbalah book, but a primer describing the principles of the Kabbalah
approach. It is a first step in understanding the roots of human behavior and the laws of
|This book presents the basis of Kabbalah wisdom and the way it works. It is intended
for anyone who is interested in getting to know himself, in understanding the reasons for
suffering and pleasure, and in finding answers to the major questions of his life.
|Kabbalah is a simple and accurate method which investigates and defines mans position
in the universe. Kabbalah wisdom tells us the reason why man exists, why he is born, why
he lives, what the purpose of his life is, where he comes from and where he is going after
he completes his life in this world.
|Kabbalah is the one method of reaching the spiritual world. It teaches us about the
spiritual world, and by studying it, we develop another sense. With the help of this sense
we can be in touch with the upper worlds.
|Kabbalah is not an abstract or theoretical study, but a very practical one. Man learns
about himself, who he is, what he is like. He learns what he needs to do now to change
himself stage by stage and step by step. He conducts his research through his inner self.
|All experimentation is conducted on himself, within himself. That is why Kabbalah is
called "The Hidden Wisdom." Through Kabbalah, a person undergoes internal
changes that only he feels and knows are taking place, hidden from the eyes of others.
This activity occurs within a person; it is unique to him and only he
|The word Kabbalah comes from the hebrew word laykabbel, to receive. Kabbalah describes
the motives of actions as "the desire to receive." This desire refers to
receiving various kinds of pleasure. In order to receive pleasure, a person is usually
willing to invest great effort. The question is, how can one attain the maximum amount of
pleasure while paying a minimum price for it? Everyone tries to answer this question in
his own way.
|There is a certain order to the way the desire to receive develops and grows. At the
first stage he lusts after physical pleasure. Then he seeks money and honor. An even
stronger desire makes him thirst for power. He may later develop a desire for
spirituality, which is at the peak of the pyramid. A person who recognizes how great his
desire for spirituality is starts to seek ways of satisfying this desire.
|The passage through the stages of the desire to receive makes a person become familiar
with his abilities and limitations.
|Kabbalah deals with what we cannot grasp, since we have no control over it. We do not
know how feelings are created. We wonder at experiences such as sweet, bitter, pleasant,
rough and so forth. We are unsuccessful at building scientific tools to examine our
feelings, even in the field of psychology, psychiatry and the other sciences dealing with
human beings. Behavioral factors remain hidden from our understanding.
|Kabbalah is like the mathematics of feelings: It takes the total of our feelings and
desires, divides them, and provides an exact mathematical formula for each and every
phenomenon, at each level, for every type of understanding and feeling.
|This is the work of feelings combined with intellect. It uses, for beginning students,
geometry, matrices and diagrams. Those who begin to advance find a very exact science that
examines feelings. When studying, they feel each feeling and simultaneously understand it.
They know what name it should be given according to its power, direction and character.
|The wisdom of the Kabbalah is an ancient and proven method. Through it, man can
receive higher awareness and attain spirituality. This is really his goal in this world.
If a person feels a desire for spirituality, if he starts to feel a longing for it, he can
then develop the desire through Kabbalah wisdom granted by the Creator.
|Kabbalah is a word that describes the aim of the Kabbalist: to attain everything man
is capable of, as a thinking being, the highest of all creatures.
|When an ordinary person studies the writings of the Kabbalists, he learns about what
was formerly hidden from him. Only after acquiring the sixth sense through study does he
begin to see and feel what was previously unrevealed.
|Kabbalists do not convey their knowledge of the structure of the upper world, of the
spiritual world, without a reason. An important phenomenon is found in their writings:
Inherent in everyone is the ability to develop this sixth sense. [See chapter on Science
|When a person is exposed to Kabbalistic materials, he may not at first grasp what he
is reading. But if he wants to understand, and tries to do so in the proper manner, he
invokes what is called the surrounding light, the light that corrects him; very gradually
he is shown his spiritual reality. The terms to correct and correction are used in
Kabbalah to describe a change in the desire to receive, i.e., to acquire the qualities of
the spiritual world and of the Creator.
|Everyone has this sixth, still-dormant spiritual sense; this is called the point of
the heart. Opposite it stands the light, which will eventually fill the point, the sixth
sense, when it develops.
|The sixth sense is also called the spiritual vessel (kli), and it continues to exist
even without material reality. The spiritual vessel of the ordinary person is not
sufficiently developed to feel the spiritual world. If he studies the original Kabbalah
writings in the proper way, this light lights up the point of the heart and begins to
develop it. The point then begins to widen and it expands sufficiently to allow the
surrounding light to enter it. Entry of the light into the point in the heart gives a
person a spiritual feeling. This point is the persons soul.
|Nothing is possible without help from above, without the surrounding light descending
from above and gradually lighting the way for a person. Even if we do not recognize this
light, there is a direct connection between the point in the heart and the light due to
fill it, as planned from above. Studying Kabbalah books enables a person to connect to the
source of the light, and he gradually comes to feel a desire for spirituality. This
process is called segula (remedy).
|Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag wrote in Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot:
"Accordingly, why did the Kabbalists instruct everyone to study Kabbalah? While it is
great and worthwhile publicizing that there is an incomparably wonderful quality to
studying Kabbalah wisdom, even though they do not know what they are studying, the
tremendous desire to understand what they are studying awakens the lights surrounding
their soul. That means that every person is assured the possibility of eventually
attaining all the wonderful achievements the Creator intended for us in planning Creation.
Those who do not attain them in this incarnation will do so in another, until the
Creator's intention is fulfilled.
|Even if a person does not achieve this completion, the lights are destined to be his;
the surrounding lights wait for him to prepare his vessel to receive them.
|Therefore, even when he lacks the vessels, when a person is engaged in this wisdom and
recalls the names of the lights and vessels waiting and belonging to him, they will shine
on him -- but only to a certain degree. But they will not penetrate his inner soul, since
his vessels are not yet ready to accept them. Kabbalah is the only means to create the
vessel to receive the light of the Creator.
|The light he receives when he is engaged in the wisdom attracts heavenly charm,
bestowing an abundance of holiness and purity on him, bringing him closer to reaching
|Kabbalah is special in that it gives a person a taste of spirituality while he is
studying, and from that experience, he prefers spirituality to materialism. In proportion
to his spirituality he clarifies his will, and learns to distance himself from those
things to which he was once attracted. This is just like an adult who is no longer
attracted to childish games.
|Why do we need Kabbalah? Because Kabbalah is given to us as a springboard for change.
It is given to us so that we can know the Creator. These are only reasons the Kabbalah was
given. Whoever learns Kabbalah in order to alter himself, in order to know the Creator,
reaches the stage in which he begins to see he can improve -- without suffering.
|A Kabbalist is an ordinary person, just like anyone else. He need not have any special
skills, talents, or occupation. He need not already be a wise man. He does not have to
wear a holy expression.
|The Kabbalist is a researcher who studies his nature using a proven, time-tested and
accurate method. Throughout history, Kabbalists have studied the essence of their
existence using simple tools that we can all utilize today feelings, intellect and heart.
|At some point in his life, he decided to seek a way in which he would find credible
answers to the questions that were troubling him. By utilizing a distinct method of
learning, he was successful in acquiring an extra sense, a sixth sense, which is the
|Through this sense, he feels the spiritual spheres as a clear reality, just as we feel
our reality here; he receives knowledge about the spiritual spheres, the upper worlds, and
the revealment of higher forces. These worlds are called upper worlds since they are
beyond our world, higher than it.
|Man ascends from his current spiritual level to his next spiritual level, or upper
world. This movement brings him from one upper world to the next. They are the roots from
which everything that exists here has developed, everything that fills our world,
including ourselves. The Kabbalist is simultaneously in our world, and in the upper
worlds. This quality is shared by all Kabbalists.
|Kabbalists receive the real information that surrounds us, and feel this reality.
Therefore, they can study it, be familiar with it, and teach us about it. They bring us a
new method through which we can meet the source of our lives, and lead us to spirituality.
They give this knowledge to us in books that are written in a special language. We must
read these books in a special way, and then they become a vessel for discovering the truth
for us as well.
|In the books they have written, the Kabbalists inform us about the techniques based on
mans personal experiences. From their all-encompassing point of view, they found the way
to help those who would follow, and then climb the same ladder as they did. Their method
is called Kabbalah wisdom.
|The first Kabbalist we know of was the patriarch Abraham. He saw the wonders of human
existence, asked questions of the Creator, and the upper worlds were revealed to him. The
knowledge he acquired, and the method used in its acquisition, he passed on to coming
generations. The Kabbalah was passed among the Kabbalists from mouth to mouth for many
centuries. Each Kabbalist added his unique experience and personality to this body of
accumulated knowledge, based on the souls of his generation.
|Kabbalah continued to develop after the Bible (5 books of Moses) was written. In the
period between the First and Second Temples (586 BC - 515 BC), it was already being
studied in groups. Following the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE) and until this
generation, there have been three particularly important periods in the development of
Kabbalah, during which the most important writings on Kabbalah study methods were written.
|The first period occurred during the third century, when the book of The Zohar was
written by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (150 CE - 230 CE), the Rashbi, a pupil of Rabbi Akiva
(40 CE - 160 CE). Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and four others were the only ones to survive.
Following the death of 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's disciples, the Rashbi was authorized by
Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yehuda Ben Baba to teach future generations the Kabbalah as had been
taught him. Following the capture and imprisonment of Rabbi Akiva, the Rashbi escaped with
his son, Eliezer. They hid in a cave for 13 years.
|He emerged from the cave with The Zohar, and with a crystallized method for studying
Kabbalah and achieving spirituality. He reached the 125 levels man can achieve during his
life in this world. The Zohar tells us that he and his son reached the level called
"Eliyahu the Prophet, "meaning that the Prophet himself came to teach them.
|The Zohar is written in a unique form; it is in the form of parables and is in
Aramaic, a language spoken in biblical times. The Zohar tells us that Aramaic is "the
backside of Hebrew," the hidden side of Hebrew. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai did not write
this himself; he conveyed the wisdom and the way to reach it in an organized manner by
dictating its contents to Rabbi Aba. Aba wrote The Zohar in such a way that only those who
are worthy of understanding would be able to do so.
|The Zohar explains that human development is divided into 6,000 years, during which
time souls undergo a continuous process of development in each generation. At the end of
the process all souls reach a position of "the end of correction," i.e., the
highest level of spirituality and wholeness.
|Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was one of the greatest of his generation. He wrote and
interpreted many Kabbalistic subjects that were published and are well known to this day.
On the other hand, the book of The Zohar disappeared after it was written.
|According to legend The Zohar writings were kept hidden in a cave in the vicinity of
Safed in Israel. They were found several hundred years later by Arabs residing in the
area. A Kabbalist from Safed purchased some fish at the market one day, and was astonished
to discover the priceless value of the paper in which they had been wrapped. He
immediately set about purchasing the remaining pieces of paper from the Arabs, and
collected them into a book.
|It happened because the nature of hidden things is that they must be discovered at a
suitable moment, when suitable souls reincarnate and enter into our world. That is how The
Zohar is revealed over time.
|The study of these writings was conducted in secret by small groups of Kabbalists. The
first publication of this book was by Rabbi Moshe de Leon, in the thirteenth century in
|The second period is very important to the Kabbalah of our generation. This is the
period of the Ari, Rabbi Yitzhak Luria, who created the transition between the two methods
of Kabbalah study. The first time the pure language of Kabbalah appeared was in the
writings of the Ari. The Ari proclaimed the start of a period of open mass study of
|The Ari was born in Jerusalem in 1534. A child when his father died, his mother took
him to Egypt where he grew up at his uncle's house.
|During his life in Egypt, he made his living in commerce but devoted most of his time
to studying Kabbalah. Legend has it that he spent seven years in isolation on the island
of Roda on the Nile where he studied The Zohar, books by the first Kabbalists, and
writings by another of his generation, the Ramak, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero.
|In 1570, he arrived in Safed in Israel. Despite his youth, he immediately started
teaching Kabbalah. His greatness was soon recognized; all the wise men of Safed, who were
very knowledgeable in the hidden and revealed Torah, came to study with him, and he became
famous. For a year and a half, his disciple Rabbi Chaim Vital committed to paper the
answers to many of the questions that arose during his studies.
|Some of these writings are the Ari's writings, known to us as Etz Hachayim (The Tree
of Life), Sha'ar Hakavanot (The Gateway of Intentions), Sha'ar Hagilgulim (The Gateway of
Reincarnation), and others. The Ari left behind a basic system for studying Kabbalah. His
system of study is still in use today. The Ari died in 1572, still a young man. His
writings were archived according to his last wish, in order not to reveal his doctrine
before the time was ripe.
|The great Kabbalists provided the method and taught it, they knew that their
generation was still unable to appreciate its dynamic. They therefore often preferred to
hide or even burn their writings. We know that Baal Hasulam burned and destroyed a major
part of his writings. There is special significance in the fact that the knowledge was
committed to paper, and later destroyed. Whatever is revealed in the material world
affects the future, and is easier to be revealed a second time.
|Rabbi Vital ordered other parts of the Aris writings to be hidden and buried with him.
A portion was bequeathed to his son, who arranged the famous writings, The Eight Gates.
Much later, a group of scholars headed by Rabbi Vitals grandson removed another portion
from the grave.
|Study of The Zohar in groups started only during the period of the Ari. Following
that, the study of The Zohar prospered for two hundred years. In the great Hassidut period
(1750 - end of 19th century), almost every great rabbi was a Kabbalist. Kabbalists
appeared, mainly in Poland, Russia, Morocco, Iraq, Yemen and in several other countries.
Then, at the beginning of the twentieth century, interest in Kabbalah waned until it
almost completely disappeared.
|The third period contains an additional method to the Ari's doctrines, written in our
generation by Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, who authored the commentary of the Sulam (ladder) of
The Zohar, and the Ari's teachings. His method is particularly suited to the souls of our
|Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag is known as Baal Hasulam for his rendition of the Sulam of The
Zohar. Born in 1885 in Lodz, Poland, in his youth he absorbed a deep knowledge of the
written and oral law, and later became a judge and teacher in Warsaw. In 1921, he
immigrated to Israel with his family and became the rabbi of Givat Shaul in Jerusalem. He
was already immersed in writing his own doctrine when he began to pen the commentary of
The Zohar in 1943. Baal Hasulam finished writing his commentary of The Zohar in 1953. He
died the following year and was buried in Jerusalem at the Givat Shaul cemetery.
|His eldest son, Rabbi Baruch Shalom Ashlag, the Rabash, became his successor. His
books are structured according to his fathers instructions. They gracefully elaborate on
his father's writings, facilitating our comprehension of his father's commentaries as
bequeathed to our generation.
|The Rabash was born in Warsaw in 1907 and immigrated to Israel with his father. Only
after his marriage did his father include him in study groups of selected students
learning the hidden wisdom -- Kabbalah. He was soon allowed to teach his father's new
|Following his father's death, he took it upon himself to continue teaching the special
method he had learned. Despite his great achievements, like his father, he insisted on
keeping to a very modest way of life. During his lifetime he worked as a cobbler,
construction worker, and clerk. Externally, he lived like any ordinary person, but devoted
every spare moment to studying and teaching Kabbalah. The Rabash died in 1991.
|The right spiritual leader for our generation is Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, the Baal
Hasulam. He is the only one in this generation who has written a fully comprehensive and
updated commentary of The Zohar and the writings of the Ari. These books, with the
addition of his son, Rabbi Baruch Ashlag's essays, the Rabash, are the only source we can
use to assist us in further progress.
|When we study their books, we are actually studying The Zohar, and the Ari's writings,
through the most recent commentaries (the past fifty years). This is a life belt for our
generation, since it enables us to study ancient texts as if they had been written now,
and to use them as a springboard to spirituality.
|Baal Hasulam's method suits everyone, and the sulam he built in his writings ensures
that none of us need fear studying Kabbalah. Anyone learning Kabbalah is assured that
within three to five years he will be able to reach spiritual spheres, all realities, and
divine understanding, the name given to that which is above and beyond us and not yet felt
by us. If we study according to the books of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, we can reach true
|The study method is constructed to awaken in us a desire to understand the upper
worlds. We are given a greater desire to get to know our roots and to connect to them. We
are then empowered to improve and to fulfill ourselves.
|All three great Kabbalists are of the same soul: first appearing as Rabbi Shimon, on a
second occasion as the Ari, and the third time as Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag. On each occasion,
the timing was ripe for further revealment because the people of that generation were
worthy, and the soul descended to teach the method suitable for that generation.
|Each generation is increasingly worthy of discovering The Zohar. What was written by
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and hidden was later discovered by the generation of Rabbi Moshe
de Leon, and then of the Ari, who started to interpret it in the language of Kabbalah.
These writings were also stored away and partly rediscovered when the timing was right,
while our generation is privileged to learn the Sulam, which enables everyone to study
Kabbalah and to correct himself now.
|We see that The Zohar speaks to each generation. It is more revealed and better
understood in each generation than in previous ones. Each generation opens the book of The
Zohar in a unique way, suited to the roots of its soul.
|Importantly, at the same time, an attempt is made to conceal kabbalistic writings so
that those feeling the need to seek them will discover them by themselves. The Kabbalists
evidently know that the process of change requires two conditions: correct timing, and
maturity of the soul. We are witnessing a very interesting occurrence characterized by the
breakthrough and signaling of a new era in the study of Kabbalah.
|Whenever Kabbalah is discussed, statements are tossed about such as: One can go mad
studying Kabbalah; it is safe to study Kabbalah only after the age of forty; a man must be
married and have at least three children before embarking on its study; women are
forbidden to study Kabbalah, etc.
|Kabbalah is open to all. It is for those who truly wish to correct themselves in order
to attain spirituality. The need comes from the souls urge to correct. That is actually
the only test to determine whether a person is ready to study Kabbalah: the desire to
correct. This desire must be genuine and free of outside pressure since only ones self can
discover ones true desire.
|The great Kabbalist, the Ari, wrote that from his generation onwards Kabbalah was
intended for men, women and children, and that all could and should study Kabbalah. The
greatest Kabbalist in our generation, Yehuda Ashlag, "Baal Hasulam," left a new
study method for this generation. It is suitable for anyone wishing to do so.
|A person finds his way to Kabbalah when he is no longer satisfied by material reward
and hopes studying will provide answers, clarification and new opportunities. He no longer
finds solutions in this world to the significant questions about his existence. Usually,
the hope of finding answers is not even cognitive; he simply takes an interest and finds
|Such a person has questions: Who am I? Why was I born? Where do I come from? Where am
I going? Why do I exist in the world? Was I already here? Will I reappear? Why is there so
much suffering in the world? Can it somehow be avoided? How can I attain pleasure,
completeness, peace of mind? Unconsciously, he feels the answers to these questions can be
found only beyond the realm of this world.
|The one answer to these questions is to know and feel the upper worlds, and the way to
do so is through Kabbalah. Through its wisdom, man enters the upper worlds with all his
feelings. They are worlds that provide all of the reasons for his existence in this world.
He takes control of his life, thereby attaining his goal tranquility, pleasure and
completeness while he is still in this world.
|In the Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot it is written: "If we put our
hearts into answering just one famous question, I am sure all questions and doubts will
disappear from the horizon and we will find they are gone. And that tiny question is What
is the point of our lives?"
|Anyone attracted to the study of Kabbalah due to this question is welcome to study
Kabbalah. Anyone reaching serious study is someone who feels this question and asks
himself constantly: "What is the point of our lives?" This is what urges him to
search and find answers.
|Unfortunately, there is not a sufficient desire today to study Kabbalah. People want
quick cures. They want to learn about magic, meditation and healing associated with
Kabbalah. They are not truly interested in the revealment of the upper worlds, or how to
reach spiritual realms. This does not qualify as a genuine desire to study Kabbalah.
|When the time is right and the need is there, a person will look for a framework of
study and will not be satisfied until he finds one. Everything depends on the root of
man's soul and that point in his heart. A true desire to discover and feel the upper
worlds within will lead him to the way of Kabbalah.
|The primary objective of Kabbalah is to achieve spirituality.
|Only one thing is necessary proper instruction. If a person studies Kabbalah the right
way, he progresses without forcing himself as there can be no coercion in spirituality.
|The aim of study is for a person to discover the connection between himself and what
is written in the book; this should always be borne in mind. That is the reason Kabbalists
wrote down what they experienced and achieved. It is not in order to acquire a knowledge
of how reality is built and functions, as in science. The intention of the Kabbalah texts
is to create an understanding and assimilation of its spiritual truth.
|If a person approaches the texts in order to gain spirituality, the text becomes a
source of light and corrects him. If he approaches the texts in order to gain wisdom, it
is for him mere wisdom. The measure of inner demand is what determines the measure of
strength he gleans, and the pace of his correction.
|That means that if a person studies in the proper manner, he crosses the barrier
between this world and the spiritual world. He enters a place of inner revealment and
reaches the light. That is known as the beautiful sign. If he does not achieve this, it is
a sign that he has been negligent in the quality or quantity of his efforts; he did not
make a sufficient effort. It is not a question of how much he studied, but a question of
how occupied he was in his studies or if he lacked something. If he reaches this desire,
he can attain spirituality. Only then will the heavens open for him to enter into another
world, another reality and dimension. He reaches this stage by studying Kabbalah the right
|Embracing Kabbalah does not work by merely avoiding nice things so that ones desire
will not be kindled. Correction does not come from self-punishment; it is as a result of
spiritual achievement. When a person achieves spirituality, the light appears and corrects
|This is the only way a person changes. Any other way is hypocritical. He is mistaken
if he believes that by putting on a nice appearance he will achieve spirituality. Inner
correction will not follow, since only the light can correct. The purpose of studying is
to invite the light that corrects man. Therefore, a person should work on himself only for
|If there is any pressure, or any obligatory rules or regulations, it is a sign that it
is man-made and is not an action intended by the upper worlds. In addition, inner harmony
and tranquility are not prerequisites for attaining spirituality; they will appear as a
result of the correction. But a person should not believe this can happen without an
effort on his part.
|The Kabbalah way absolutely rejects any form of coercion. It grants a person an
inkling of spirituality, bringing him to prefer it to materialism. Then, in relation to
his spirituality, he clarifies his desire. Accordingly, he retreats from material things
as his attraction to or necessity for them disappears.
|Studying Kabbalah incorrectly, even with the best intentions, can distance a person
from spirituality. This type of student will only fail.
|Therefore, Kabbalists prohibited the study of Kabbalah by people who had not been
prepared for it, unless they did so under special circumstances. They treated their
students cautiously to ensure they studied in the proper manner. They limited students by
|Baal Hasulam describes these reasons at the beginning of his Introduction to the Study
of the Ten Sefirot. However, if we understand these restrictions as conditions for the
proper comprehension of Kabbalah, we will see that they are intended as a way to prevent
students from deviating from the correct way.
|What has changed is that we now have more of a language, better conditions and a
stronger determination to study Kabbalah. Because souls feel the need to study Kabbalah,
Kabbalists such as Baal Hasulam have written commentaries that enable us to study free of
errors. Everyone can now learn Kabbalah through his books.
|To study Kabbalah in the proper way, it is recommended that the student focus solely
on the writings of the Ari and Ashalg (Baal Hasulam and Rabash) in their original
|Among the languages of the study of spiritual worlds, between the Bible (which
includes the five books of Moses, the Writings and the Prophets) and Kabbalah, the latter
is the most useful and direct. Those who learn it cannot err in their understanding. It
does not use names from this world, but possesses a special dictionary directly indicating
the spiritual tools for spiritual objects and forces, and the correlation between them.
|It is therefore the most useful language for the student to make inner progress and to
correct himself. If we study the writings of Baal Hasulam, there is no danger of becoming
|Several hundred years ago, it was impossible to find Kabbalah books or books on this
subject. Kabbalah was transmitted solely from one Kabbalist to another, never reaching the
ordinary person. Today, the situation is reversed. There is a desire to circulate the
material among all, and to call on everyone to participate in its study. When studying
these books, the desire for spirituality grows, whereby the surrounding light around us,
the real world hidden from us, starts to reflect on those people who wish to be closer to
the special charm of spirituality, and they start to desire it even more.
|Spirituality can be attained by studying the right book, i.e., books written by a true
Kabbalist. The Bibles texts are Kabbalah texts. They are books Kabbalists wrote to one
another to exchange ideas and to assist each other in learning. A person whose spiritual
feelings have grown can see how these books assist him in continuing his growth and
development. It is like being with a tour guide in a foreign country. With the aid of the
tour book, the traveler gets his bearings and better understands his new whereabouts.
|We need books that are suited to our souls, books by the Kabbalists of our generation
or the previous one since different souls descend in each generation and require different
|A student in search of a Kabbalah teacher must do so with care. There are so-called
kabbalists who teach incorrectly, e.g., wherever the word "body" is written it
refers to our physical body, that the right hand symbolizes charity and the left, bravery.
This is exactly the strict prohibition rendered by the Bible and Kabbalists in "Thou
shall not make a sculpture or a picture.
|Why are there those who teach and interpret this way? First of all, they themselves do
not comprehend. Moreover, if there were a direct connection between spiritual forces and
our physical bodies, it would have been possible to teach people to succeed in life, and
to cure the body by physical means under the guise of spirituality.
|It is important to join the right study group in which to explore the writings of a
real Kabbalist. This should be done under the guidance of a Kabbalist.
|The group gives strength. Everybody has at least a small desire for materialism, and
an even smaller desire for spiritualism. The way to augment the will for spiritualism is
through joint desire. Several students together stimulate ohr makif (surrounding light).
Although the physical body separates people, it does not affect spiritualism, since in
spiritualism, the point in the heart is shared by all, resulting in a much greater result.
|All of the Kabbalists studied in groups. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai held a group for
students, and so did the Ari. A group is vital in order to progress. It is the primary
tool of Kabbalah, and everyone is measured by his contribution to the group.
|It is essential to receive from a true Kabbalist who himself studied under the
guidance of a Kabbalist. A group does not negate a Kabbalist, it is impossible without a
Kabbalist since it is he who directs the group.
|The texts and the Kabbalist help the student so that he does not deviate from the
correct way of studying. He works on himself and on his inner being. No one knows the
others place in the group, nor his level of spirituality. The books, the group and the
Kabbalist simply help him to stay on course and increase his will for spirituality,
instead of following other desires or worthless endeavors.
|To help students avoid failure, a list of questions and answers and an index of words
and expressions is provided. During study sessions, attention is drawn to spiritual truth,
not to the depth or measure of comprehension. What is important is that the student is
motivated to make spiritual progress, and not merely to advance intellectually.
|In the Introduction to Study of the Ten Sefirot, Baal Hasulam writes that whoever
studies the right way reaches spirituality within three to five years.
|It is true that people are attracted to the wisdom of Kabbalah in the hope of becoming
more successful. We are all made of the desire to receive pleasure. It is our basic
makeup, but with proper instruction some of us attain spirituality and eternity. Others,
without the proper instruction, live under the illusion that they have achieved something
spiritual. In fact, they lose their chance of attaining spirituality in this lifetime.
|None of us are new souls; we all have accumulated experiences from previous lives in
other incarnations. In each generation over the past six thousand years, souls have
descended that were here on previous occasions. They are not new souls, but souls of a
different kind that attained some form of spiritual development.
|Souls descend to earth in a special order: They enter the world cyclically. The number
of souls is not infinite; they return again and again, progressing toward correction. They
are encased in new physical bodies which are more or less the same, but the types of souls
that descend are different. This is what is popularly called reincarnation. Kabbalists use
another term: the development of generations.
|This intertwining, the connection of the soul and body, assists in the correction of
the soul. Man is referred to as "soul," not "body." The body itself
can be replaced, just as organs can now be replaced. The body is useful only in that it
serves as an encasement out of which the soul can work. Each generation physically
resembles the previous one, but they are different from one another because each time, the
souls descend with the added experience of their previous lives here. They arrive with
renewed strength obtained while they were in heaven.
|Thus, each generation possesses different desires and goals from the previous one.
This leads to the specific development of each generation. Even a generation that does not
reach the desire to know true reality or Godlike recognition accomplishes the task by the
suffering it endures. That is its way of making progress toward true reality.
|All souls are derived from one, called the soul of the first man. This does not refer
to Adam as we know him. It is a concept of spiritual, inner reality. Parts of the soul of
the first man descend into the world, taking the form of bodies, leading to a connection
between body and soul. Reality is directed in such a manner that the souls descend and
correct themselves. When they enter into body form they raise their level 620 times above
the level from which they began. The order in which souls descend into this reality of
wearing a body goes from light to heavy.
|The soul of the first man comprises many parts and many desires, some light, others
heavy, based on the amount of egoism and cruelty they possess. They come into our world,
the lighter ones first, the heavier ones following. Accordingly, correction requirements
differ. When correcting lighter desires, they can later assist in correcting heavier, more
|In their descent into the world, souls have gathered experience from their suffering.
This is called the path of suffering as this experience develops the soul. Each time it is
reincarnated, it has an increased unconscious urge to seek answers to questions on its
existence, its roots, and the importance of man's life.
|Accordingly, there are souls that are less developed, and souls that are more so. The
latter have such an enormous urge to recognize the truth that they cannot limit themselves
to the confinements of this world. If they are given the right tools, the proper books and
instruction, they will attain recognition of the spiritual world. Kabbalah also describes
the descending souls as pure or as less refined. It is a measurement in direct proportion
to how much the souls require for correction. Souls requiring a greater correction are
called less refined.
|As different souls descend, they require different guidance and correction, unique for
that generation's souls. This is why in each generation there are people who lead us in
our spiritual progress. They write books and form study groups in order to convey the
method of discovery of the reality that is most suited to that generation. In this, the
media age, they may appear on television, radio and most currently, on the Internet.
|In the beginning (before the soul of Ari appeared), there was an era of experience
gathering and perseverance in this world. The souls existence was sufficient in order to
make progress toward correction. The suffering they accumulated added urgency to their
souls to relieve their suffering. The desire to leave their suffering behind was the
motivating force behind the development of the generations.
|That era continued until when, in the sixteenth century, the Ari appeared and wrote
that from his generation onwards men, women, children, in all the nations of the world
could and were required to engage in Kabbalah. The reason was that the time had arrived in
the development of generations in which souls descending into the world were able to
recognize the true reality and were ready to complete their correction by the special
method the Ari had developed. They could achieve what was required of them.
|Souls have but one desire to return to their roots, to the level they were before
their descent, even while existing within physical bodies. Physical bodies, with their
desire to receive, pull them back into this world. Man consciously wishes to rise
spiritually. The great effort spent on the friction created by this dichotomy is what
assists him in rising 620 times above his previous level.
|If a soul does not complete its task, the next time it descends into the world, it
will reincarnate more deserving of correction.
|Sometimes, we believe that we should deny our desires and longing so that in the next
reincarnation we will be more successful. We think we should not desire anything except a
little nutrition and lying in the sun as would a cat. However, the contrary is true since
next time, we will be even more cruel, demanding, exacting and aggressive.
|The Creator wants us to be filled with spiritual pleasures, to be complete. That is
possible only through great desire. Only with a corrected desire can we truly reach the
spiritual world and become strong and active. If our desire is small, while it cannot do
great harm, it also cannot do much good. Desire is called "corrected" only when
it functions out of the proper influence. It does not exist in us automatically, but is
acquired while studying the Kabbalah in the correct manner.
|A pyramid of souls exists, based on the desire to receive. At the base of the pyramid
are many souls with small desires, earthly, looking for a comfortable life, animal-like:
food, sex, sleep. The next layer comprises fewer souls, those with the urge to acquire
wealth. These are people who are willing to invest their entire lives in making money, and
sacrifice themselves for the sake of being rich.
|Next are those that will do anything to control others, to govern and reach positions
of power. An even larger desire, by fewer souls, is for knowledge, scientists and
academics who spend their lives engaged in discovering something specific. They interested
in nothing but their all-important discovery.
|The strongest desire, developed by only a few, is for the attainment of the spiritual
world. They are all built into the pyramid.
|Man also has the same pyramid of desires within him, which he must overturn so that
its sheer weight will compel him to aim for the purest desire, the infinite desire for
truth. He must reject and discard all his earthly desires and put every effort and energy
into increasing the desire for spirituality. He achieves this through the proper way of
|If a person truly wishes to increase his longing for spirituality, the light around
him, the spiritual world hidden from him, starts to reflect back on him, making him long
for it even more. At this stage, group study under a Kabbalists guidance is crucial. [See
chapter on How to study Kabbalah.]
|A major change in the souls descending today lies in the fact that we are starting to
see around us a definite desire to achieve a spiritual system. Even ordinary people are
seeking something spiritual, something beyond our world.
|Although this "spirituality" still includes all sorts of shortcuts, magic
tricks and esoteric groups promising an answer to those who join them, nevertheless, it
bespeaks of the search for true reality. If this generation displays a stronger desire
within the souls themselves, a new method, suited to these souls, will probably emerge.
|In the last fifteen years there has been swift and active development in the descent
of new souls. The desire of these souls, these people, is much stronger and more genuine.
It is directed at achieving the real truth, and nothing else.
|If we truly comprehend how reality applies to us and how we are affected by it, we
will cease doing that which is prohibited, we will insist on doing the right thing and we
will do it. Then, we will discover harmony between ourselves and the real world.
|In the meantime we merely abuse, then realize we have abused. There is no possibility
of escaping the situation. That is why mankind finds itself more and more in a blind
alley, mired in increasingly difficult dilemmas. We will discover that there is no
alternative to recognizing the spiritual world of which we are a part. This recognition
will lead us to a new situation in which we will consciously begin to act as one, and not
|All people are connected to one another in one soul, from one generation of souls to
the next. We all possess collective responsibility. That is why the Kabbalist is regarded
as "founder of the world." He influences the entire world, and the world
|When we think or feel something and wish to convey it to someone else so that he may
feel it too, we use words. There is a general consensus in the use of words and their
meanings; if we call something "sweet," the other person immediately understands
what we mean since he imagines the same taste. Yet how closely does his conception of
sweet match ours? How can we best communicate our feelings while still using words?
|The feelings of Kabbalists are above our level. Nevertheless, they wish to convey to
us their wonder at things that have no meaning for us. They do this through means taken
from our world: often words, sometimes notes, and on occasion, by other means.
|Kabbalists write about their experiences and feelings in the upper worlds. They write
about the higher forces and what they discover there. They write for other Kabbalists,
since the interaction of studies between them is so essential and so fruitful. Their
writings are then extended to those who havent yet sensed spirituality, for those whom
spirituality is still hidden.
|Since there are no words in the spiritual world to describe their spiritual feelings,
Kabbalists call these experiences branches, a word taken from our world. Therefore the
language used in books on Kabbalah is called the "language of branches." It is a
language that borrows words from our world and uses them to identify spiritual
experiences. Since everything in the spiritual world has an equivalent in the physical
world, each root of the spiritual world has a name and the name of its branch. And because
we cannot describe our feelings precisely and do not know how to measure or compare them,
we use all kinds of auxiliary words to help us.
|Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag writes in his book Study of the Ten Sefirot (Part One, Looking
Inwards): "... the Kabbalists chose a special language that can be referred to as the
'language of branches.' Nothing takes place in this world that is not drawn from its roots
in the spiritual world. On the contrary, everything in this world originates in the
spiritual world and then descends into the world. The Kabbalists accordingly found a ready
language by which they could easily convey their achievements to one another orally and in
writing for future generations. They took the names of branches from the material world;
each name is self-explanatory and indicates its upper root in the higher world
|For every force and action in this world there is a force and action in the spiritual
world that is its root. Each spiritual force correlates to only one force, its branch in
the material world.
|Of this direct correlation it is written, "There is nothing growing below that
does not have an angel above urging it to grow." That is, there is nothing in our
world that does not have a corresponding force in the spiritual world. Because of this
direct correlation, and because spirituality does not contain names -- just feelings and
forces -- Kabbalists use names of branches in this world in order to define their
spiritual roots by them.
|Baal Hasulam writes further: "With all the explanations, you will comprehend what
sometimes appears in the Kabbalah books as strange terminology for the human spirit,
particularly in the basic Kabbalah books, The Zohar and books by the Ari. The question
arises, Why did these Kabbalists use such low terminology to express these lofty ideas?
The explanation is that no language or tongue in the world can reasonably be used, except
for the special language of branches, based on the corresponding upper roots... It should
not be surprising if strange expressions are sometimes used, since there is no choice in
the matter. The matter of good cannot replace the matter of bad, and vice versa. We must
always convey precisely the branch or incident showing the upper root as the occasion
dictates. We must also elaborate until the exact definition is found."
|The spiritual world is abstract where forces and feelings function without the mantel
of animal, mineral, vegetable, or speech. In Kabbalah, the student repeats the main ideas
of the Kabbalah wisdom: "place," "time," "movement,"
"lack," "body," "body parts" or "organs,"
"match," "kiss," "hug," etc., over and over again, until he
feels within himself the right feeling for every idea.
|A final word: It should be noted that there are some so called instructors of Kabbalah
who communicate erroneous interpretations to their students. The error stems from the fact
that the Kabbalists wrote their books using the language of branches and used words from
our world to express spiritual ideas. Those who do not understand the correct use of the
language are mistaken. They teach that there is a connection between the body and the
spiritual vessel, as if the spiritual vessel engulfs the body, making it part of the
spiritual organ, as if by physical action a person is doing something spiritual. The
branches are an integral part of Kabbalah and without their use, one is not learning
|Everything we know about our world is based on man-made study. Every generation
studies our world and conveys its knowledge to the following generation. Through it, each
generation comprehends the sort of framework in which he should live, and what his
position is in relation to other generations. In each era, mankind uses the world
|The same process takes place in spiritualism. Every generation of Kabbalists from
Abraham onwards studies and discovers the spiritual worlds. Just as in scientific
research, they pass along the knowledge they have attained to future generations.
|In this world we have a general sense, called the desire to receive, with five
receptors, which are our five senses. When a person undergo a correction he attains the
sixth sense, known as the spiritual sense and functions according to these five senses.
|Scientists too use only their five senses. Any instrument-- precise, advanced,
technical, mechanical or otherwise -- we regard as "objective." But these
instruments merely expand the limits of our senses so that we may hear, see, smell, taste
and touch more intricately. Ultimately, it is man who examines, measures and assesses the
results of research, through his five senses. Obviously, he cannot provide an exact,
objective answer to what is accomplished by the senses. Kabbalah, the source of all
wisdoms, enables us to do this.
|When starting to study reality, we discover that we cannot study or understand that
which is beyond us since it is unknown and unrevealed to us. If we cannot see it or touch
or taste it, we may question whether it really exists. Only Kabbalists, those who attain a
higher abstract upper light beyond our senses, are able to truly comprehend our true
|Kabbalists tell us that beyond our senses there is only an abstract upper light,
called "creation," which has no form. Imagine that we are in the middle of the
ocean, within a sea of light. We can sense all kinds of feelings that seem to be
incorporated into it, as far as our ability to comprehend allows us. We do not hear what
is happening elsewhere. What we regard as hearing comes as the response of our eardrums to
external stimuli. We do not know what is causing it. We simply know that our eardrum
reacts from within us. We assess it internally and accept it as an external event. We do
not know what is happening outside of ourselves; we merely comprehend the reaction of our
senses to it.
|As in the example of hearing, so too is it with our other senses: sight, taste, touch
and smell. That means that we can never exit our "box." Whatever we say about
what is happening externally is in fact the picture we paint inside us. This restriction
can never be overcome.
|The study of Kabbalah can assist us in expanding the borders of our natural senses to
achieve the sixth sense, through which we can become acquainted with the reality around us
and within us. This reality is the true reality. Through it, we will be able to experience
the reaction of our senses externally. If we direct all of our five senses correctly, we
will see the true picture of reality. We need merely to internalize the characteristics of
the spiritual world.
|It is like a radio that is able to tune into a certain wavelength. The wavelength
exists outside of the radio, which receives and responds to it. This example applies to us
too. If we have at least one tiny spark of the spiritual world, we will begin to feel it
|During his development, the Kabbalist acquires more and more spiritual
characteristics, thereby connecting to all the levels of the spiritual world, all built on
the same principle. ]When a person studies Kabbalah, he begins to understand, to feel, to
assess and work with all realities, both spiritual and material, without differentiating
between them. The Kabbalist reaches the spiritual world while encased in his body in this
world. He feels the two worlds without any border separating them.
|Only when a person experiences this true reality can he see the reasons for what is
happening to him here. He understands the consequences of his actions. He then begins to
be practical for the first time, living, feeling everything and knowing what he should do
with himself and his life.
|Prior to this recognition he does not have the ability to know why he was born, who he
is and the consequences of his actions. Everything is enclosed within the borders of the
material world, and the way he enters it is also the way he leaves it.
|In the meantime, we are all at the level called "this world." Our senses are
equally limited; therefore, we are capable only of seeing the same picture. Baal Hasulam
writes, "All upper and lower worlds are included in man." This is the key
sentence for anyone interested in the wisdom of Kabbalah and living the reality around
him. The reality around us includes upper worlds and this world; together, they are part
|For the time being, we understand this world through material, physical elements.
However, we add several elements when we study, through which we discover additional
elements. It allows us to see things we cannot see today.
|Our level is very low, as we are located diagonally opposite the level of the Creator.
We start to rise from this level by correcting our desire. We then discover another
reality surrounding us, although no change actually occurs. We change within ourselves,
and following the change, become aware of other elements surrounding us. Later, these
elements disappear and we feel everything is due solely to the Creator, the Almighty. The
elements we begin to gradually discover are called worlds.
|We should not imagine spiritual reality, but should sense it. Imagining it merely
distances us from its reach. Kabbalists reach the upper worlds through their senses, just
as we reach out to the material world. The worlds stand between us and the Creator, hiding
Him from us. As Baal Hasulam writes, it is as if they filter the light for us. We can then
see reality surrounding us in a different way. In fact, we can say that there is nothing
between us and the Creator.
|All these disturbances, these worlds between us, hide Him from us. They are masks
placed on our senses. We do not see Him in his true form; we see only fractured elements.
In Hebrew, the origin of the word olam (world) is "alama" (concealing). Part of
the light is transmitted, and part is hidden. The higher the world, the less hidden it is.
|Different pictures of reality are painted differently by those in this world. Logic
dictates that reality should be uniform to everyone. Nevertheless, one hears one thing,
another hears something else, one sees one thing, another sees it differently.
|Baal Hasulam illustrates this by using electricity as an example: We have in our homes
an electric socket which contains abstract energy which cools, heats, creates a vacuum or
pressure depending on the appliance using it, and on the ability of the appliance to
utilize the electricity. Yet the energy has no form of its own, and remains abstract. The
appliance reveals the potential found in the electricity.
|We can say the same about the upper light, the Creator that has no form. Each person
feels the Creator according to the level of his correction. At the beginning of his
studies, a person can see only his reality exists, and is unable to sense any higher
|He gradually discovers, through using his senses, the true, expanded reality. At a
more advanced stage, if he corrects all his senses according to the light around him,
there will not be any partition between himself and the light, between man and the
Creator. It will be as if there is no difference between their characteristics. The person
then achieves godliness in the real sense. Godliness is the highest level of spirituality.
|How can a beginner master this science when he cannot even properly understand his
teacher? The answer is very simple. It is only possible when we spiritually lift ourselves
up above this world. This is possible only if we rid ourselves of all of the traces of
material egoism and accept attaining spiritual values as our only goal. Only the longing
and the passion for the spiritual in our world -- that is the key to the higher world.
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