Preface to the Science of Kabbalah (Pticha).
Items 13-16, summary:
13. Similar to how corporeal objects are separated by space, spiritual objects are separated by a difference in qualities. Two people whose views are similar are close, whereas two people whose views are opposite are far. And even if they’re in close physical proximity, they still feel distant from one another. So spiritual objects are close or far from one another only through their qualities: A difference of qualities separates them from one another, while similarity of qualities brings them closer, leading to adhesion.
The desire was created by the Creator, and is neither good nor bad. The creature’s state isn’t determined by the desire, but for whose sake the desire is used. The Creator bestows, and therefore when the creature uses the desire “for the sake of bestowal,” it is similar and close to the Creator. On the other hand, a creature that uses the desire “for its own sake” (for the sake of reception), is opposite to the Creator and hence distant from Him.
For the sake of brevity, in Kabbalah we use the terms: “will to receive” and “will to bestow,” but both allude to the usage of the same desire:
- “For one’s own sake” is called “to receive,” and
- “For the sake of the Creator (or for a friend)” is called “to bestow.”
However, one should never forget that the desire to bestow does not exist in nature. There is only the desire to receive (to receive fulfillment, pleasure). However, if this desire is used “for the Creator’s sake,” then it is absolutely equivalent to bestowal.
14. The fourth phase, which feels that it is opposite to the Creator, stops receiving the Light. This action is called Tzimtzum Aleph (the First Restriction). As a result, the desire remains empty. It then decides that it will only receive if this will please the Giver, the Creator.
15. Thus arises a new condition of reception – to receive only for the sake of the Creator. In so doing, the creature attains equivalence of form to the Creator. For example: a person comes to his friend’s house, who offers him to stay for dinner. Naturally, the guest will refuse the food, no matter how hungry he is, because he doesn’t like feeling like a receiver who doesn’t give anything in return (as he would in a restaurant, for instance). However, the host urges and persuades him, saying that the guest will please him greatly by receiving his food. When the guest feels that this is truly so, he agrees to receive the food, because he no longer feels that he is a receiver; on the contrary, he feels that he’s pleasing the host and doing him a favor by agreeing to receive from him.
It follows that despite the guest being hungry and unable to receive on account of the shame of receiving, the host’s persuasion and the guest’s refusal gave rise to a new condition: reception turned to bestowal. This happened due to a change in the guest’s intention. The guest receives, but his intention has changed. It is precisely the force of repulsion of the food, and not the feeling of hunger which is the actual desire, that became the basis for receiving the food.
16. We see that instead of using the desire directly, it is used in an “opposite” manner: the pleasure runs into refusal – the Screen, which stands in the Light’s way to the desire. Then the Reflected Light emerges – the desire to receive for the sake of the host. And only to the extent of this intention – the Reflected Light, the Direct Light is allowed to enter the desire. This reception of the Light is called “Zivug de Hakaa” (striking interaction) – first the strike, then the interaction.
The desires to receive for the Creator’s sake are called “pure” (from egoism). The desires to receive for their own sake are called “impure” (mired in egoism). They cannot receive the Upper Light and hence they are called “spiritually dead.”
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