We regard the Torah as a fascinating biography of historical figures and we don’t suspect that it is not talking about physical issues but about a person’s inner state and about the inner state of all of humanity. So it is up to us to leave its stories to the imagination of writers and historians and talk about what it really says.
Adam—A Desire that Raises the Person Above the Material
A person is born as an egoist, he passes through a long way of egoistic development on the levels of the still, vegetative, and animate, until for the first time, 5,775 years ago, the level of “man” (Adam) was awakened in him, the level of his inner development. It is not by chance that they called the first man who perceived the spiritual world Adam.
The desire was awakened in him to attain a new level that reveals the meaning of life, its source, and the power that created the universe and manages it. This is a pure power that is not clothed in any earthly images.
A person, according to his physical structure, senses, mind, and heart, is on the animal level of developmental. And suddenly the component of “Man” is revealed in him, an additional desire and intelligence that weren’t revealed in any form from an external aspect. These are already spiritual components that differentiate him from the beast. They raise a person above substance through his relationship to creation, to the Creator, to the meaning of life.
The first Adam described his attainment in the book, Sefer Raziel HaMalakh. In continuation, his students, Cain, Abel, and Seth, developed his discovery. That is how it continued until Noah, representing the tenth generation of the students of the first Adam.
Abraham, the First Active Explorer of the Power that Manages Creation
Ten additional generations passed from Noah to Abraham before humanity reached the state of “Babylon,” which is the first state in which people began to be locked into a group. The growing ego began to hint to them how to work amongst themselves, to help them discover the close relationship that was revealed in the clashes and opposition within a person and between people.
Precisely at this time in ancient Babylon, within one of the priests of the religion, Abraham, the son of Terah, the desire arose to attain a higher spiritual level. If before him all of the Kabbalists penetrated the secrets of creation passively, Abraham became the first active explorer who attained the power that manages the universe by himself.
This was a new level of attainment; he rose above his ego and began to work with it actively. The ego reached a level in him that began to be a real force and cooperated with him. So Babylon embodies the conflict between people, strife, discord, and their dispersion.
On this background, Abraham created the method for discovering the creation. Although Adam is considered to be the first Kabbalist, Abraham is the one who founded the study that became the instrument for attaining the universe and the force that manages it, the Creator.
It is impossible to deny the existence of this force, because after all, we see that the entire creation was created according to some kind of principle, according to some kind of program. It links within itself and acts within an immense system according to a formula that we don’t understand.
Abraham began to investigate it actively, because around that time the public became egoistic, i.e., the opposition of society to this force of nature made it possible for the society to explore nature, the Creator. Abraham wrote about his discoveries in the Book of Creation (Sefer Yetzirah).
Overcoming the Crisis in Babylon
With this method launched by Abraham, since the shattering occurred first as the expression of separate individuals, each one representing a particular property that once was collected into one unified desire; now each one of us is some kind of unique aspect of the general desire that existed before then.
If we want to attain the force of nature that created the singular desire, we can do this to the degree of our connection and unity. When we connect and unite above our opposition and contradictions, we create a state of separation between the negative forces of our division and the singular positive force of nature. Specifically within this opposition appears the opportunity for clarifying the feeling of what happens in us and in all of creation.
When Abraham discovered this, he called the Babylonians to rise above their crisis because it is nothing other than the discovery of the opposition of society to nature. At the same time the opposition is increasing.
There exist only two methods for overcoming the crisis: Either gathering together according to the method of Abraham, or scattering in all directions so as not to feel the constant enmity and conflicts with each other. In this way, the Babylonian society divided into two parts: one part scattered and settled all over the surface of the Earth and the second part followed Abraham to the land of Israel.
Since all the characteristics are connected, it is natural that if one “changes his location he changes his fortune” (Talmud Yerushalmi, Shabbat 6:9). A particular force of nature influences every piece of land on Earth, so someone who changes the location of his dwelling changes his fortune, his fate. Clearly it is not necessary to accept this literally. But on the other hand, we see how both biology and geography truly influence the appearance of people, their manner and characteristics. And it is not because the land is like this, but because the characteristics of every point in space are different. So Abraham, since he was led by an inner intention, brought his disciples to the land of Israel, because he felt that their place was precisely here.
But the processes through which the people passed in ancient Babylon also continued in the land of Israel. The ego was constantly growing, and they needed to rise above it through the unity between them. There was nothing new in the method that was discovered by Abraham, it was simply realized by those who possessed the same view with greater or lesser success, and they succeeded in realizing it.
Joseph, A Level that Unites Separated Desires
The development of the school of Abraham was continued by his student Isaac, called the “son” of Abraham in the Torah. “Son” in the wisdom of Kabbalah indicates his successor.
But in the time of Jacob there began to be problems in the realization and implementation of the study in life itself, because the unity that they had to attain was already on another level. Jacob is a small part of the general soul (six Sefirot). To continue with the realization of the method, it was necessary to move to the general level, Israel, meaning ten Sefirot instead of six.
Here for the first time they saw that their method was not enough. They didn’t know how to solve the problem of unification. Between all the opinions that are called the sons of Jacob, and their brother Joseph started disputes and arguments. Joseph thought that it was necessary to unite according to a particular principle that specifically was about him, for even the name “Joseph” is derived from the word “L’Asof,” to connect, (in Hebrew all names have an internal meaning).
But the point of view of Joseph sounded very egoistic. His brothers didn’t agree with him, and ultimately they found themselves in Egypt against their will. In other words, the continued development of spirituality brought them to a state in which against their will they found themselves under the control of Joseph. And to continue rising further in the spiritual levels, they had to accept his leadership upon themselves.
In the Torah this is described in the form of a conflict between the brothers, the sale of Joseph to Egypt, the descent of the sons of Jacob to Egypt, and so forth. If we translate this into the language of Kabbalah, then it is speaking about the work of the person with his inner emotions, but already on another, more serious egoistic level, when the rigid, distinctive and precise ego is discovered.
The ego grew according to five levels. If we rise above them, it is possible to examine and attain the only power of nature that is its opposite, the Creator. When the sons of Jacob found themselves on the next egoistic level, they discovered it as good, because Joseph connected them together and they felt sufficient advancement. What they were not ready for before then, they succeeded in doing now, to unite among them and work in the direction of attaining the Creator. These are what are called the seven years of plenty. And together with this they discovered the system in which they were found.
The Ego, Our Friend and Enemy
After the descent to Egypt stages begin that will bring us close to leaving it, escaping from under the control of Pharaoh, the emergence of the recognition that our work is realized within the ego. Attainment like this typifies every level.
This is because in order to rise to the next level that brings us forward, we need to be attracted towards it. So its ego needs to be shown to us as good, imperative, and as necessary for spiritual advancement: We enter into it, attain a new level with its help, and grow. And after this he already begins to acquire more painful forms.
We see that this is the way it happens even in our world, when throughout all of human development until recently, we thought that movement forward would bring us the good life, the right goal, the victory of reason, the good, and the right mutual relationships. We thought that there are ways of reaching this: capitalism, socialism, or communism. And we went forward, the main thing being to reach the goal, and without paying attention to the problems appeared along with this. Whereas, here an absolutely different situation was revealed: the recognition that we possess an egoistic nature and that we will not reach anything other than self-annihilation. And in our time we are beginning to attain and understand this.
In the beginning the ego attracts and seduces us, offers us very nice, good fulfillments. And after this we begin to understand that all of this is not for us and even harms us. And about this it is said in the Torah that we built beautiful cities for Pharaoh, Pithom, and Ramses, all of this is for the ego, and in fact, we dig a grave for ourselves with this. They are called dangerous cities, in regard to attaining the Creator, because the ego can bury us to such a degree that it is not possible to get out of it.
When the ego begins to attract us, we run after it: Everything in this world is ours, ours, ours. After that the person dies without taking anything with him. That is how things go one generation after another and gradually humanity begins to understand that this pursuit is harmful because this brings it to distancing, depression, and self-destruction. The lack of purpose, the appearance within us of the question about the meaning of life kills our egoistic movement forward and leads to a deep apathy.
At the end of development the ego must show us a reward: What have we gotten, where does this race end, where are the fruits of our labor? When we go a little higher with our egoistic desire we are already looking at everything completely differently. Everything that exists on the physical level seems as empty and useless to a person. He seemingly rises above his beastly state and understands that all of this is false: It isn’t clear why life has been wasted.
So it is said that Pharaoh specifically symbolizes the ego among the children of Israel, meaning those who have the need and the drive to discover the meaning of life, the purpose of existence, the Creator. Since the ego is constantly evolving and the need to see results is clearly growing, the person can no longer be satisfied only with mundane attainments, for he doesn’t exist forever and the needs in him are growing beyond materialism. He begins to understand that all of this is merely child’s play and ultimately, like everyone else, he will die. Life went by, and then what?
The ego helps us to decode, solve, see, understand and feel the lack of result of our way from the start. We see that the era of the “American dream,” the pursuit after profit has ended and now no one has the need for luxuries. People have evolved beyond this; you cannot compel them to run like a hamster in a wheel after more and more new purchases and fulfillments.
Humanity is now beginning to understand this; so today a stratum of ego that is immense in quality and small in quantity is appearing in it that asks the question about the meaning of life. It pushes humanity towards depression, drugs, terror, and crime, to suppress the question about the meaning of life any way it can, or at least to find some kind of partial answer for it. Gradually, more and more people are beginning to be interested in the Kabbalistic answer to this question.
In his time, this problem brought the students of Abraham to Egypt, to that state that began to awaken the ego in them that opposes the Creator, for only when they are immersed into the ego is it possible to discover this force. So the Egyptian exile and the exodus from Egypt became the foundation stones for the spiritual development of the person and humanity. Based upon the example of the small group of Abraham, which was thrown into the control of the ego called “Pharaoh,” it is possible to understand what is to be expected for all of humanity, since even today we are found in the same situation. This is the reason that when we open the Torah it is impossible for us to forget its extreme relevance for our time.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/02/15, Lesson on the Topic: “Dissemination of Kabbalah”