In Kabbalah, the term Tikkun (correction) is the most important concept. It is the means to achieve the Creator’s goal in creating His beings (us). Jewish tradition is teeming with stories about Kabbalists secluding themselves or going on solitary journeys in the mountains to make Tikkunim (plural for Tikkun).
Reality, alas, is far less romantic than that. A Tikkun is the transformation of one’s qualities from egoism to altruism. In simples words, when a person stops thinking of him or her own well being, and starts thinking of everybody else’s benefit, that person is considered corrected.
Kabbalah (and, of course, not only Kabbalah) explains that the Creator is benevolent and wants to do good to His creations. Kabbalah also explains that since He is the best thing that exists, He wants to make us like Him. At the moment of birth, they tell us, we are nothing like Him, but our every trait is completely opposite from His. A Tikkun is, therefore, the transformation of one’s qualities from human (egoistic) to Godly (altruistic and benevolent).
But if He is good and wants to benefit us, how does becoming altruistic and thinking of others benefit us? The benefit is not in the transformation from egoism to altruism, it is in the enhanced perception that it grants. When we acquire His qualities, we also acquire His perspective. This is why Kabbalists explain that an infant (a person who enters the spiritual world for the first time) sees the world from end to the other. And the more we evolve in spirituality the keener our perception becomes. Eventually, when all of our qualities have been made like His, we become all-knowing, almighty, receiving everything and giving everything at the same time.
There is only one means that can bring us Tikkun -- prayer. Also, according to Kabbalah, there is only one prayer that the Creator hears: a prayer for Tikkun. Indeed, if we look the world around us and consider the state humanity is quickly declining into, it will become quite clear that either we are not praying or that our prayers are not being answered.
A prayer, as Kabbalah explains it, is a request for correction. When I have tried my hardest to become like the Creator, benevolent, giving, and good, and feel that I have failed completely, then I turn to the Creator and truly ask of Him: “Make me like You, because I cannot do it by myself.”
In that regard, the great twentieth century Kabbalist, Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, wrote in a letter to a student: “There is no happier state in one’s life than when one has completely despaired of one’s own strength. This means that one has already strained and did all that one could, and have found no cure. This is so because then one is worthy of an honest prayer for His help, as one knows for certain that one’s own work will be infertile.”
As the Bible says, “man's heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21). Therefore, to achieve correction, we need to be changed by the only force that is not evil (egoistic): the Creator.
Thus, somewhat ironically, the only way we can achieve fulfillment, satisfaction, and lasting pleasure is when we stop worrying about our own well being and begin to care for the well being of everybody else.
This message is the big “secret” that Kabbalah held within it for two millennia, since the writing (and subsequent concealment) of The Book of Zohar to this day. Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, Kabbalists no longer hide their message. Instead, they state that the whole of humanity is ready to receive it.
All of their books are written only about this transformation, and if we read the writings of the last great Kabbalist, Yehuda Ashlag, we will see that this is how he explains every Kabbalistic text, from The Book of Zohar to The Tree of Life. If we read Kabbalah books with one aim in mind -- to become corrected in the true sense of the word, they will no longer by mysterious to us. The power they posses will affect us and we will begin to see and feel the world in a whole new way.