The Opposition Between Religion And Kabbalah: Actions Versus Intentions

holdA question I received: According to Rabash, the chosen people are those who can shift from the externality to the internality, and one’s heart will change with the help of one’s actions. At the same time, you always remind us that the external commandments are no more than external signs, which have no connection with the soul’s correction.

My Answer: When Rabash speaks of “external observance,” he does not mean the physical observance, but the intention “for one’s own sake.” And “inner observance” signifies the intention “for the Creator’s sake.”

As for the physical actions, the Creator said: “I don’t care how you slaughter cattle; the commandments were given for man’s correction.” In other words, the entire connection between actions and commandments lies in one’s intentions, and not in the actions themselves. If a person knew that his actions have no results, he would be extremely grateful to Kabbalah for giving him the correct guidance in life!

The entire opposition between religion and Kabbalah comes down to their assessment of the importance of actions and intentions: What is more important, the actions or the intentions? Indeed, Kabbalah does not deny the importance of the actions (traditions) in forming and managing social boundaries. But religion also has to accept what is written, that actions without intentions are dead and don’t correct a person. The intentions can only be changed through the correct study of Kabbalah.

One has to start by admitting that he is not perfect – therein lies the stumbling block! It’s because religion’s primary goal is to grant man a sense of pride and perfection for observing the prescriptions. He thinks that by doing this, he serves the Creator and the whole world, and everyone is indebted to him.

Kabbalah, on the other hand, shows a person just how phony and imperfect he really is. He sees this in the Creator’s Light, which descends upon him during the study. A person then feels unhappy with the results of his study, but if he is able to rise above this sensation and elevate the truth above the anguish, he progresses. And if he is unable to do this, he veers off the path.

Item 66 of the “Preface to the Book of Zohar” discusses the necessity to make the intention more important than the physical observance. The entire contradiction between religion and Kabbalah lies in their claim as to what is more important.

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Shamati #116: “Why Did He Say that Mitzvot Do Not Require Intention”
Baal HaSulam Article: “The Essence of Religion and Its Purpose”

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