A question I received: What’s the difference between the books written by the Kabbalists of the past and the books written by modern Kabbalists?
My Answer: Baal HaSulam says that Rabbi Akiva certainly knew more than Rabbi Shimon, since he preceded him – he was his teacher. However, the level of Kabbalists before Rabbi Akiva was higher still.
It goes without saying that Baal HaSulam knew less than Rabbi Shimon and less than all the previous Kabbalists. However, in order to take care of us, he was given an opportunity to learn and express his degrees. This is what he writes about himself.
We evaluate a Kabbalist based on his books,“This is an amazing book! I understand everything in it! He is a great Kabbalist!” But if I understand his books, then maybe he is not so great after all.
In other words, we rate a person based on how close he is to us and to what extent he can descend to our level, not according to his elevation, but according to his ability to be a teacher. And in order to become our teacher, it is not necessary for him to be great.
Along with the historical development of egoism in each person and in society as a whole, the level of Kabbalists is becoming lower.
During the “times of the Temple” (the Temple is the soul of each person in the state of bestowal and love, and the fall of the Temple is the descent into relationships of hatred) people clearly perceived the spiritual, meaning they felt love and commonality, lived as one man, and were similar to the Creator. They understood and felt these things on their own.
We cannot imagine what that means. It is written that compared to them, we are like donkeys next to people. This is not an exaggeration or a beautiful expression; they had a completely different mind, vision, and sense.
(From a lesson on the article “The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah,” from 10.28.09)