Bnei Baruch World Center for Kabbalah Studies homepage  

A Speech in Celebration of the conclusion of The Zohar

It is well known that the prime motive in the spiritual service is to bond with the Creator, as in the verse: "And to bond with Him." What does bonding mean--since no thought can grasp Him at all? Surely the Kabbalists, anticipated this question when they asked: "How is it possible to bond with Him since He is a Consuming Fire? and they replied "Bond with His attributes: just as He is compassionate, be compassionate, just as He is merciful, be merciful. Yet, a difficulty remains: What obliged the Kabbalists, to extract this meaning out of the simple reading of the verse? Does the verse not explicitly say, "to bond with Him"? If the meaning is to "bond with His attributes" it should have said, "to bond with His ways". So why did it say, "to bond with Him"?

The idea is that with physical entities, which occupy space, we understand bonding as being close in space. And separation we understand as being distant in space. However, spiritual entities, which do not occupy space at all, bonding and separation are understood as being close or distant in space, for space has no relevance here at all. Rather, a resemblance of attributes between two spiritual entities is understood as bonding. And any difference of attributes between two spiritual entities is understood as separation. And just as a chisel cuts and divides a block of stone into two by distancing one part from the other, so a difference in attributes divides the spiritual and parts it into two. And if the difference is small, we say that they are not far apart, and if the difference is great we say that they are very far from each other, and if their attributes are contradictory, we say they are at opposite ends.

For example, when two men hate each other, it is said about them that they are separated from one another as far as East is from West. And if they love each other, it is said about them that they are bound together like one body. And, of course, we are not speaking about being close or distant in space. Rather we are speaking about resemblance or difference of attributes between them. For when two people love one another it is because they share similar attributes between them. Because one loves all that his friend loves, and hates all that his friend hates, they bond to each other and love one another. But if there arises between them some difference of attributes, that is, one loves something even though his friend hates that very thing, and the like, then in the measure that they differ in this attribute, they hate one another, and are separate and distant from each other. And if they are opposed so that whatever is loved by one is detested by the other, it is said about them that they are separate and distant from each other as East is from West; and thus we find that a difference in attributes is effective to separate in the spiritual like a chisel in the material. And so, like distance in space, the size of the division in them depends on the difference of attributes between them. And the measure of bonding between them depends on the measure of resemblance of attributes between them.

And now we understand how right the Kabbalists, were in their interpretation of the verse "And to bond with Him" means to bond with His attributes. Just as He is compassionate, be compassionate. Just as He is merciful, be merciful. They did not remove the interpretation of the verse from its simple meaning, on the contrary, they interpreted it according to its essential simple meaning. Spiritual bonding is not intelligible at all in any way other than through sharing similar attributes, and, therefore, by shaping our attributes to resemble His attributes, we bond with Him.

And, furthermore, we understand from "He is compassionate, be compassionate that He does all His deeds to extend assistance and help to another and not to benefit Himself at all. For He is not deficient in anything that one needs to provide for Him, nor is there anyone for Him from whom to receive; so one's deeds must be to extend assistance and help to another, and with this one's attributes come to resemble the Creator's attributes and this is spiritual bonding.

In the service of shaping our attributes, which we have discussed, there is an aspect of "intellect" and an aspect of "heart". And the idea of service is to cause spiritual pleasure to his Creator, which is termed the "aspect of intellect". Just as the Creator does not think to Himself whether He exists or if He cares for all His creatures (and the like arising from doubts), so whoever wishes to attain to this attribute must keep away from any such doubts since clearly the Creator does not entertain them, for there is no greater difference of attributes than this (i.e., to doubt whether the He exists or cares for all His creatures). Therefore, whoever thinks (doubts) about these matters, surely separates from Him and will never attain an equality of attributes (with Him) and on this the Kabbalists, taught "may all your deeds be for Heaven's Name", to bond with Heaven, that is, do not do anything that does not succeed this aim of bonding. Which means that all one's deeds must be to extend assistance and help to another for then one equates his attributes with Heaven; just as He does all His deeds to extend assistance and help to another, so, too, all one's deeds must only be to extend assistance and help to another, for this is the complete bonding.

And it irrelevant to question this by asking "How is possible that a human being do all his deeds to benefit another for he is of necessity bound to keep himself and his family?" The answer is that all that he does out of necessity, that is, in order to receive the essential necessities for life, this receiving the necessities, is neither contemptible nor praiseworthy and thus is not considered at all that he does something for himself.

And all who understand the depth of these matters will surely be amazed at how could it be possible for a human being to shape his attributes so completely that all his deeds will bring benefit to another; and at the same time a man's existence is nothing but to receive for himself.

Certainly, I acknowledge that it's a very difficult thing, and no man has the power to change his created nature, which is only to receive for himself, and, needless to say, to change his nature from one extreme to the other; that is, he receives nothing for himself but all his actions are only to benefit the Creator. Therefore, the Creator gave us Torah and Mitzvoth which He commanded us to perform only on condition to cause spiritual pleasure to Him. And were it not for Torah Study and performance of Mitzvoth for their own sake, that is, to use them to cause pleasure to our Creator, and not for self-benefit, there would be no recourse that would ever help us to transform our nature. And from here you understand the great emphasis on service of Torah and Mitzvoth L'Shmah (for the Creator's sake - tr.). For if his intention in Torah and Mitzvoth is not towards the Creator but only for himself, not only did he not transform the natural Desire to Receive that is within him, but, on the contrary, the Desire to Receive will be much greater from what is his natural endowment by nature. (As I explained in the introduction to HaSulam, volume 1, see para. 30, and 31).

And what does that individual achieve who merits to bond with the Creator? This is not elaborated upon in any place, except by subtle teachings. However, in order to explain the theme of my talk I will illustrate my subject with an example.

The body and its limbs are a whole. And the whole body disseminates thoughts and feelings to each of its individual limbs. For example, if the whole body thinks to one of its limbs to serve and delight it, immediately that limb knows its thought and finds for it the delight that it contemplated. And, so too, if some limb thinks and feels that the position where it is pains it, immediately the whole body knows its thought and feeling and moves it to a comfortable place. Indeed, if some limb should be cut off from the body, then they are made into two separate autonomies and the body does not know the needs of the separated limb. And the limb knows no longer the thoughts of the body so as to serve and be useful to it. And if a physician succeeds in reconnecting the limb and body as before, the limb regains its knowledge of the thoughts and needs of the body, and the body regains its knowledge of the needs of the limb. According to this example, we can understand the achievement of the man who merits to bond with the Creator.

As I already discussed in detail in my introduction to the Book of The Zohar, V.1, 9, that the Neshama i s a Light which extends from His Essence and this Light is separated from the Creator by means of the Desire to Receive in which the Creator enclothed the Neshama; for His thought in bringing forth the creation is to give pleasure to His creatures. So He created in each Neshama (soul) a desire to receive pleasure, and this attribute of the Desire to Receive (differs from the Creator's attributes and thus) separates that Light from His Essence and makes her to be a part separated from Him. (And refer to my "Introduction to the Book of The Zohar", for this is not the place to elaborate).

Every soul was before its creation included in His Essence. However, with the Creation, that is, with the natural Desire to Receive pleasure that is inborn in her, she obtained a difference of attribute (from the Creator) and was separated from the Creator whose way is just to extend (His flow of beneficence); for dissimilar attributes separates in spirituality just as a chisel in materiality, as explained above. And so the soul now is like the limb which was cut off from the body and was separated from it; for, even though before the separation the two of them, the limb and the body, were one whole, and exchanged thoughts and feelings with each other. However, after it was cut off, the limb and the body were made with this into two autonomies, and thus one does not know the thoughts of the other nor his needs; and all the more so after the soul enclothes in a body of this world; all communications are stopped that were before she was separated from His Essence and now they are like two separate autonomies.

And from this it is self-evident what the person gains who merits to bond with Him, which means that he attains a resemblance with the Creator by means of the power in Torah and Mitzvoth, he transformed the Desire to Receive that is inborn in him, which separated him from His Essence and made it into a Desire to Extend (to benefit)and all his deeds are only to extend assistance and help to another which is resemblance with her Creator. Thus the example of the likeness to the limb that was once cut off from the body and returned and was reconnected again with the body, to again know the thoughts of the whole body, as before. So, too, the soul, after she came to an equality of form with the Creator, she returns and knows His Thoughts as she had known before she was separated from Him because of the conflicting attribute of the Desire to Receive, and then in her is fulfilled the verse: "Know the God of your Father". For then she attains to the complete knowledge which is Divine Knowledge. And she attains to all the secrets of the Kabbalah, for His thoughts, are the secrets of the Kabbalah Wisdom.

And this is what Rabbi Meir taught: "All who learn Torah for His sake attain many things, and secrets and meanings of the Torah are revealed to him, and he is likened to a fountain that never fails and to a river which gains in vigor"; which is to say that by Torah study for His sake, to intend to give spiritual pleasure to his Creator with his Torah study and not to benefit himself at all, then he is certain to bond with the Creator; he attains equality with His attributes so that all his deeds are to benefit another and not to benefit himself at all; truly like the the Creator Whose deeds are only to extend and to prosper another; and thus he returns to bond with the Creator as it was with the soul before she was created. And therefore one attains many things: to the secrets and meanings of the Torah. For since he returned and was again connected with the Creator he returns and knows the thoughts of the Creator like the example of the limb that returned and bonded with the body, and the thoughts of the Creator are called secrets and meanings of the Torah; so that whoever learns Torah for His sake attains revelations of the secrets and meanings of the Torah, and is likened to a fountain that never fails and to a river which gains in vigor, because of the nullification of the barrier that separated him from the Creator that he again becomes one with the Creator as before he was created.

And the truth is that all the Torah whether revealed or whether concealed is all the thought of the Creator without any difference whatsoever. Only that it is like a man sinking in a river; his friend throws him a rope in order to rescue him so that when the man grabs onto the rope at his end, then his friend is able to rescue him and to get him out of the river. So with the Torah; it is all the thought of the Creator; it is like a rope that the Creator throws to humanity to rescue them and to bring them out from the Klipot. And everyone has an end of the rope close by, which is the purpose of the revealed Torah and does not require any intention or thought. And, moreover, even if in the performance of Mitzvoth there enters an irrelevant thought, nonetheless, it is acceptable to the Creator as in the verse: "Man should always study Torah and perform Mitzvoth, not for His sake, because from the midst of this will come for His sake". And, therefore, Torah and Mitzvoth is the end of the rope; there is not anyone who is not able to grab tight onto it. And if he grabs it tightly, that is, to study Torah and perform Mitzvoth for His sake to give pleasure to his Creator, and not to benefit himself, then the Torah and Mitzvoth bring him to a resemblance of attributes with the Creator which is to bond with Him as mentioned previously; for then he attains to a comprehension of the thoughts of the Creator which are termed 'secrets of Torah' and 'meanings of the Torah', which are the rest of the rope, which he may not attain until after he comes to the complete bonding.

And that we liken the thought of the Creator that is, the Torah secrets and Torah meanings to a rope, is because there are many degrees of equality of attributes with the Creator. Therefore, there are many degrees and divisions in this rope, that is, in the comprehension of the Torah Secret, according to the degree of resemblance of attributes with the Creator so too are the degrees of the Torah Secret.

With regards to knowing His Thoughts, there are, in general terms, five levels: Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, CHaya and Yehida. Each one is comprised of all of them and there is within each of them another five distinct levels; thus in each one there are a minimum of 25 levels (125 levels in all).

And they are also called "worlds" as the Kabbalists, taught: In the future the Creator will cause each Tzaddik to inherit 310 worlds. And the reason that the levels which are supervised by the Creator are called "worlds" is because there are two meanings to the Creator "world" (Olam): 1) Each inhabitant of that world is extended by Him, an equal perception and sensibility, such that what one sees and hears and feels, all see and hear and feel who are in that world. 2) Each inhabitant of that "hidden" world is not able to know and comprehend anything of any other world; furthermore, their comprehension is restricted in two ways: 1) whosoever attains to that level knows and comprehends all that has been or will be known and comprehended in that world for all generations; thus he is joined with them just as are all inhabitants of any world 2) everyone of that level is not able to know or comprehend anything of what pertains to those of another level just as we of this world are not able to perceive an iota of what is perceived by those of the upper world. Therefore, the levels are called by the Creator "hidden worlds" (Olamot).

And, therefore, those who merited to comprehend the upper worlds are able to author books and explain their teachings with subtle hints and examples; and they are understood by all who have attained to that particular level of which these books speak; and they all (author and reader) share a common way of understanding. However, whoever has not yet attained to a full attainment of that level as have those authors, is not able to understand the meaning of their subtle teachings. And needless to say, those who have yet to attain to subtlety of thought, do not grasp anything at all because they do not share with them a common way of understanding.

And, as we have already mentioned, the complete bonding and the complete comprehension are divided into 125 levels; and before the Messiah Generation it is not possible to attain to all of the 125 levels. And there are two distinctions between all the generations and that of the Messiah Generation: 1) Only with the Messiah Generation is it possible to achieve all 125 levels and not in any other generation; 2) in all the (previous) generations those who have risen to comprehension and bonding are few, as the Kabbalists, taught on the verse: "One in a thousand have I found of those that came to the study hall... and one comes out to teach, that is, achieves bonding and comprehension.

However, in the Messiah Generation, each and everyone is able to attain to bonding and comprehension, as they taught: "And the earth will be complete in the knowledge of the Creator . . . and no longer will one teach his friend or his countryman: "Know the Creator!" For all will know Me from the smallest to the greatest among them."

With the exception of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his generation in which The Zohar Masters attained to all 125 levels in full measure, even though they lived before the Messiah Generation; the verse was fulfilled in him and in his students: "A sage has pre-eminence over a prophet"; therefore, many times The Zohar says that there will not be a generation like that of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai until the generation of the King Messiah. Indeed, his teaching made a great impression in the world, for the revelations of the Torah Secrets that are found in it reflect the 125 levels of revelation. Thus, The Zohar says that it, The Zohar , will not be revealed until the last days, that is, in the days of the Messiah Generation. For, as we said, if the levels (of bonding and comprehension) of those interested (in The Zohar ) is not on common ground with the level of the author, they can not understand the subtleties of the teaching since both do not share a common grasp of the matter. And since The Zohar Masters' level is at the topmost level of the 125 levels, it is not at all possible to understand them before the advent of the Messiah Generation. Thus it is self-evident that in the generations preceding the Messiah Generation there was no common ground with The Zohar Masters; consequently it was not possible for The Zohar to be revealed in those generations prior to the Messiah Generation.

And from here we have clear evidence that this generation has already arrived at the Messiah Generation, for our wide-open eyes see that all the books on The Zohar that preceded us, had not addressed even ten percent of the difficult questions found in The Zohar, and that which they did explain remain inaccessible to the understanding as The Zohar itself. And in this generation we have the interpretation of "The Ladder" (HaSulam), which is a complete explanation on all of The Zohar. And, besides that no obscure matter in all The Zohar is left unexamined, it has all been properly explained and based on common sense so that whoever has average intelligence can understand. And from this revelation of The Zohar in this, our generation, we have clear evidence that we are already in the time of the Messiah, at that time about which the verse says: "And the earth will be complete in the knowledge of the Creator".

And we must know that spiritual matters are not like physical matters in which the giving and the taking occur simultaneously. For in the spiritual there is a time for giving and another time for receiving. First the matter is given from the Creator to the recipient, and in this giving he is given only the opportunity to receive, but as of yet he has not received anything. Only after he has properly prepared himself through holiness and purity, is he worthy to receive the matter; from the time of the giving until the time of the receiving much time may pass. And according to this, what we said that this generation already has fulfilled the verse: "And the earth will be complete in the knowledge of the Creator"; let us realize that this was said from the aspect of giving alone; however, from the aspect of receiving, it is certain that we have not yet arrived, not until we make ourselves worthy through purity and holiness and intense study in the proper measure; the time of the receiving will arrive and then will be fulfilled in us the verse: "And the earth will be complete in the knowledge of the Creator".

And it is known that the redemption and the complete comprehension are intertwined with each other, and the proof is that whoever is drawn to the Torah Secrets is drawn to the Land of Israel, and therefore, we were not promised "And the earth Will be complete in the knowledge of the Creator" but at the end, that is, at the time of the redemption.

And, therefore, as for the complete comprehension, we have not yet attained to the time of receiving, but only to the time of the giving; for with its power (the time of giving) is given the opportunity for the complete comprehension, so, too, in the matter of the redemption, we have not yet received it, but only in the giving aspect alone. For in actual fact, the Creator removed our the Land of Israel from the authority of foreigners and returned it to us, and, in spite of all this, we have yet to receive our land under our authority because the time of the receiving has not yet arrived, just as we explained in the matter of the complete comprehension, that it has been given but not yet actually received. For certainly we do not have economic independence, and there is no political independence without economic independence. And much more than this: there is no redemption of the body without redemption of the soul; and as long as the majority of those who dwell in the land are captives to the strange cultures of the times, and are not at all ready to adjust themselves to the custom and culture of Israel, it's clear that also our bodies are captive under foreign powers. And from this it is evident that the land is yet in the hands of foreigners, and the proof is that no one is at all excited about the redemption, as it is to be at the time of the redemption itself, after two thousand years. And not only that the Diaspora is not motivated to come to us and to benefit from the redemption, but even a large portion that did do so and are already dwelling among us, are pining away, hoping to free themselves from this "redemption" and to return to their former lands. Indeed, even though the Creator removed the land from the authority of other nations and gave it to us, all the same we have not yet received it, or its benefits. Rather, in this giving the Creator gave us the opportunity for redemption, that is, to make ourselves pure and to receive upon ourselves His Service, in the Torah and the Mitzvoth for His sake; and then He will build the Holy Temple and the land will be our possession, and then we will perceive and feel the happiness of the redemption. However, as we have not yet come to this, nothing has changed, and there is not any distinction between the present way of national conduct and that while yet under a foreign power, whether in law, economics or His Service. We have only an opportunity for redemption.

To repeat: this, our generation, is the Messiah Generation. And therefore, we have attained the redemption of our desire to be attached with the Creator from foreign powers. We have also attained the revelation of The Zohar, which is the beginning of the fulfillment of the verse: "And the earth will be complete in the knowledge of the Creator", and "And no longer will one teach . . . for all will know Me from the smallest to the greatest among them." Yet these two attainments have been only in the aspect of a giving from the Creator but we have not received anything into our hands only that we are given the opportunity to begin in His Service, to study Torah and perform Mitzvoth for His sake, for then we will attain a great success as promised to the Messiah Generation, which was not known to any of the generations before us, and then we will attain the complete comprehension and the complete redemption.

And now we have clearly explained the reply of the Kabbalists, to the problem of how is it possible to bond with Him, as they taught: "bond with His attributes" which is correct for two reasons: 1) Because spiritual bonding in not by being close in space but by resemblance of attributes. 2) Since the soul was not separated from His Essence but for the Desire to Receive which the Blessed Creator made for her, thus after the Desire to Receive is separated from her, she returns of herself to bond with His Essence as before. Indeed, all this is perfect, but in actual practice we are not yet at all satisfactorily in accord with the teaching of bonding with His attributes, for it means for each one to separate the Desire to Receive inherent in the nature of his existence, and to come to the Desire to Extend (benefit to his fellow) which is contrary to his nature. And what we explained that he who is sinking in the river needs to hold on tight to the rope, and though he does study Torah and performs Mitzvoth for His sake (with no thought of benefit to himself) such that he does not return to his previous folly before Him again, this is not considered as "one who holds on tight to the rope"; so we are back to our original dilemma! What appeal to his self-interest will be sufficient to inspire him to make efforts with all his heart and strength just to give pleasure to his Creator, since no man is able to lift a finger without there being something in it for himself; like the machine that is unable to work without fuel and if there is nothing in it for himself but only for the pleasure extended to his Creator then the motive of benefit to himself that he needs for the work is missing.

And the answer is that when one truly comprehends His Exaltedness, then this comprehension which he "gives" or emanates to Him, this is transformed to be "receiving from Him, a "kabbalah" as taught in the Tractate Kiddushin (folio 7): "As concerns an important man, the woman gives him money and this is considered for her as "kabbalah" and she is betrothed! And so it is as regards the Creator, that if one comprehends His Exaltedness, you have no kabbalah more important than that of giving pleasure to the Creator (i.e. giving pleasure to The Creator is transformed into a valuable self- benefit for the devotee, or "kabbalah") and this provides the appeal to self-benefit to inspire one to toil and exert himself with all his heart and soul and strength in order to give pleasure to Him. However, it is clear that if he had not yet comprehended His Exaltedness truly, then the giving of pleasure to the Creator is not considered "Kabbalah" in sufficient measure (to create a bond) as when he gives over his whole heart, soul and strength to the Creator. And, therefore, at any time that he truly intends to give pleasure to his Creator only, and not to benefit himself at all, immediately the potential for the work (to achieve bonding) is completely lost, like a car without fuel: for no man can lift a finger without deriving from this some advantage to himself; and all the more so here where a great effort equal to surrendering his soul and strength is called for, as is required by the Torah, for, without a doubt no one is able do this without an inspired self-interest in deriving some benefit for himself.

And truly the comprehension of His Exaltedness in a way to bring about kabbalah, as they taught about betrothal to an important man, is not a difficult matter at all: everyone knows the Blessed Creator's awesome greatness: He created everything and encompasses everything, without beginning or end, and that His Exaltedness has no end or aim. However, the difficulty of the matter lies, rather, in that "greatness" is not dependent on the individual but on the group. For example, even if a man possesses many good qualities, if the group does not think of him as important, nor does it honor a man like this, he is always humbled and is not able to exhibit his talents, even though there is no doubt that he possesses them. And, contrariwise, a man who has no distinction at all, but the group honors him as if he possesses many good qualities, that man will be full of pride, for "importance" and "greatness" is given over completely to the power of the group.

And when a person sees how his group is not serious about His Service, Blessed be He, and they do not begin to understand His Exaltedness, in a proper way; neither is he alone able to empower the group (with the proper understanding) nor does he experience His Exaltedness, but rather he also becomes light-headed about His Service as they are, and since there is then no basis for the experience His Exaltedness, it is self-evident that he is neither able to give pleasure to his Creator, nor to receive any benefit to himself, for there is no self-interest to help him to exert himself, and as the maxim has it :"He made no exertions, and yet he found? Not to be believed! and thus he has no alternative but to either serve to benefit himself, or not to serve at all. For whatever pleasure he may give to his Creator will not be transformed for him to become a true kabbalah. And now we can understand the verse: "In the multitudes is the honor of the king"; for the status of greatness comes from the group on two counts: 1) according to the status of the group 2) according to the numbers of the group, and therefore, in the attending multitudes is the honor of the king. And because of the great difficulty concerning this matter the sages, of blessed memory, counseled us to "make yourself a teacher and obtain a study partner", that is, a person chooses for himself an important and famous man to be his teacher so that from him he may be able to come to study Torah and perform Mitzvoth in order to give pleasure to his Creator.

There are two easy ways that attend his having a teacher: 1) because he is an important man his student is inspired to please him out of understanding his teacher's greatness, then this "giving" (receiving his teachers wisdom) is considered as kabbalah, (as in the example of the betrothal to an important man), which is attended by a natural inspiration that the student is able to increase at all times. After he is accustomed to serve his teacher he is then able to pass over also to the study of Torah and performance of Mitzvoth for His sake, for habit becomes second nature. 2) since resemblance of attributes with the Creator is of no help if it is not permanent, i.e., until the Creator testifies that he will not return to his folly again, which is not the case with his teacher. His teacher is in this world and in this time, a resemblance of attributes with him, even temporarily after which the student falls back to his former ways, is still worthwhile since all the time that he attained a resemblance of attributes with his teacher he was bonding with him for that time. He understood his teacher's views and thoughts, according to the extent of his bonding with him, (as we explained with the example of the limb that was cut from the body and reconnected and bonded with it). Thus the student is able to gain from his teacher's understanding of the Creator's Greatness, which is transformed into a true kabbalah (receiving) providing inspiration and self-benefit sufficient for him to give over his soul and strength. And thereafter the student is also able to study Torah and perform Mitzvoth for His sake with all his heart and soul and strength, which is the effective and proven way that brings bonding with the Creator forever.

And with this we now understand what the Kabbalists taught: "It is greater to serve the Torah than to learn it, as we learned: "Elisha ben Shafat poured water for Eliyahu, the verse did not say "learned from" but rather "poured for". Superficially understood, it is astounding how simple acts could be greater than learning wisdom and knowledge. But it is now clearly understood that he served his teacher with his body and strength in order to give spiritual satisfaction to his teacher. And this brought him to bond with his teacher, that is, to an equality of attributes and thus to receive by this his teacher's views and thoughts, in the secret of word of mouth tradition a bonding of spirit to spirit, such that he attained an understanding of His Exaltedness, in the measure that sufficed to be transformed to a receiving and to provide him with sufficient self-benefit to give over his soul and strength to attain to bonding with the Creator as we discussed above. Which is not the case concerning learning Torah from his teacher, for it is necessarily for his own benefit alone, and does not bring one to bonding. It is transmitted from mouth to ear. The superiority of service is greater than the superiority of learning, like the importance of his teacher's thoughts excels his teacher's words and like the importance of the word of mouth tradition over classroom learning. Indeed, all that we said is relevant if he serves his teacher in order to give spiritual pleasure to him; however, if the service is to gain some benefit for himself, this type of service is not conducive to bring him to bond with his teacher for then (to gain some benefit for himself) surely learning from his teacher replaces the importance of serving him.

Indeed, as we discussed about comprehending His Exaltedness, that the group which does not conceive His Importance properly, weakens the individual and prevents him from comprehending His Exaltedness; really, it is certain that this matter is relevant also with regards his teacher, that when the group does not conceive his teacher's importance properly, this prevents the student from understanding his teacher's importance properly. And, therefore, the Kabbalists taught: "Make for yourself a teacher and obtain for yourself a study partner", that is, a person is able to get for himself a new group so that the group helps him to understand his teacher's greatness, and, thus, the love between study partners who properly regard their teacher such that their conversation about their teacher's eminence brings about that each one receives a feeling of his greatness in a way that this flows to their teacher and is transformed to be a kabbalah (receiving) and an self-benefit. And, this in a measure that they are brought by this way to zealous study and performance of Mitzvoth for His sake; for just as they taught that through 48 qualities the Torah is possessed: by serving the Torah sage, and the participation in analysis with one's study partners, etc.. Besides that service to his teacher also requires participation with one's fellows in studious analysis, that is to say the flow from the group of students is effective for him to comprehend his teacher's greatness, for this comprehension of greatness is completely dependent on the group, and for an individual person it is impossible to achieve anything significant in this matter whatsoever, as previously explained.

Indeed, there are two conditions at work in the comprehension of His Greatness: 1) to study always and to accept the order of seniority at the group learning sessions and 2) that the group be large, as in the verse: "in the multitudes of people is the majesty of the king". And to fulfill the first condition each student is obligated to feel himself to be the least of all of his fellow students, and then he is able to perceive and receive each and everyone's greatness, for whomsoever is greater is not able to receive from him who is lesser than he, and all the more so to be impressed by his words, and only the lesser is affected by the seniority of the greater. And with regards to condition 2, each student is obligated to exalt his study partner's good qualities and to make him beloved as if he were the teacher, par excellence, of the generation; for then the group will have the effect on him as if it were, in fact, a properly large group, for greatness of stature exceeds in important greatness in number.


Author: Kabbalist Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag


The website is maintained by
the group of Kabbalists
"Bnei Baruch"
Copyright 1996. Bnei Baruch. All rights reserved.