A question I received: You said that Kabbalah books are similar to medical books. Any medical dictionary or instruction manual accompanying a medicine will list the cases when it is forbidden or even dangerous to take a medicine. Are there similar contraindications in Kabbalah books?
My Answer: Definitely! The “Introduction to Talmud Eser Sefirot” says that the Torah (as well as Kabbalah) can be an “elixir of life” or a “potion of death.” It’s a known fact that all medicines are poison, but not all poisons are medicine. All medicines were created on the basis of poison; otherwise they would not have a healing effect.
We can be healed or corrected only with the help of a poison, by turning poison into a medicine, or by taking special portions of poison to counter the evil that is inside us. This principle comes from the foundation of nature, following the rule: “The angel of death turns into the angel of life.” The same principle is used in medicine.
That is why a snake curled around a vessel with medicine is the symbol for healing used in medicine. This did not come from someone’s imagination, but from the foundation of all of nature.
Kabbalah says the same thing: You have to use the books as an instruction manual, a remedy that will work against your egoism, because the Light it contains will correct you and bring you back to the Source. If, however, you don’t accept the book as a means to counter your ego, in order to correct yourself, then the studies will blow up your pride, self-confidence, and your demand for a reward in this world and the world to come. Thus, your study will turn into a “potion of death.” You will become an even greater egoist and will demand a payment from the Creator.
Baal HaSulam writes in Items 69-71 of the “Introduction to the Book of Zohar” that the source of all the problems in the world lies in none other than people’s incorrect use of the Torah and Kabbalah.