Are You Asking Yourself The Right Question During Zohar Study?

clip_image001[4]A question I received: While reading The Book of Zohar, I try to imagine what I am reading within my own desire, but this makes me disconnect from the text and submerge into my internal stresses. I then realize that I have lost focus and it is as if I am floating away, not understanding anything. What should I do?

My Answer: The most important thing is whether those “inner journeys” are supported by the question: When will salvation arrive, brought to us by the Light that Reforms ?

It doesn’t matter how a person imagines what’s written in The Zohar or how he goes about his inner search. The most important thing is that in the background of his thoughts and efforts, he continues to wait for the Light to come. He waits for it to change him and to reveal the contents of The Book of Zohar – the sensation of the Upper World and the property of bestowal.

What matters most is: Does a person feel that his heart wants to move in this direction? If he does, then his thoughts, confusion, and reminiscences about himself, as well as the fact that he doesn’t listen to the reader, become unimportant. Underneath it all, he is bothered only by one thought: “When will the help from Above come to me?”

You Cannot Reveal The Zohar On Your Own

There Are No Idols in Kabbalah In The Zohar, we read about all types of qualities and desires that exist within every one of us, as well as the states they go through. Together, we must exert the effort to try to recognize them within us.

It is not effective for every person, individually, to try and reveal these qualities and desires. Rather, we should all strive to reveal them within our common vessel of the soul (Kli) as if these desires, such as the Pharaoh, Moses, and others do not exist within oneself. A person doesn’t know who they are or what they symbolize. He cannot recognize these qualities, see the connection between them, or appraise their level. He only hears the sounds and the words. He must try to view them as a collective structure and as the ten common Sefirot of our soul.

Indeed, the authors of The Book of Zohar were ten friends who had united together into one whole vessel and attained the correction of all the degrees. In this same way, we must imagine our own state.

Of course, every person has their own personal sense with which to feel the spiritual world for everyone is comprised of the ten Sefirot. However, our work will not be complete unless we connect the common vessel of the soul, which also is comprised of the ten Sefirot, into the complete HaVaYaH.

Do You Want To Predict Fate Or Change It?

What Does the Torah Say About the Red String A question I received: Why does Kabbalah talk about “the signs of the zodiac” (Mazalot), making it seem like it has a connection to astrology?

My Answer: Well, where did astrology take all of these notions from, if not Kabbalah? The use of this terminology dates back to Abraham. After all, our entire system on all levels (inanimate, vegetative, animate, and speaking) is parallel to the system of the Upper Worlds, from where forces descend and become imprinted in our world on all levels. This is why we see the same correlations in the celestial constellations, as they are built by the same laws in accordance with the connection of the branch and root.

The only problem is our approach. The text Midrash Raba (The Great Commentary) says that Abraham used to come outside at night to look at the stars. He would ask, “Am I under the stars’ control or is there an Upper Force that is higher than all of them?” If I am under the power of the stars, then I have to worship them, but if there is an Upper Force above them, then the stars are mere signs. Granted, these signs are correct when read by those who know how to read them in order to tell what is happening in the system above them. After all, all the events take place parallel in all the systems (or worlds) from Above downward. We only have to know how to read or interpret them.

Yet, do all the astrology experts really understand this? If they are like Haman, who is described in “Megilat Ester” as being a great astrologist, then it would be interesting for us to hear what this great astrologist has to say. After all, he had attained the Creator!

A person who desires to attain the truth aspires higher than the stars and the signs of the zodiac. This is why we view the celestial signs as mere symbols demonstrating higher forces. Our real aim is to attain the Force that governs these symbols, to unite with It, and to rise to Its level.

The celestial signs are structured in the same way as the signs of Zeir Anpin “in the sky,” which is Bina. All the stars in the sky are Bina’s connection with Zeir Anpin, and we are influenced by them when they attain Sefira Yesod. A person who knows how to read this “celestial book” can understand these symbols.

But what use is it for us to understand these signs? Our focus and attention must be higher than the stars and the signs of the zodiac. We have to look to the force that controls them. Therefore, it is forbidden to engage in astrology because it obstructs us from attaining the goal of creation. It doesn’t lead us to the goal, but distracts us from it.

If a person ascends and attains the Upper System, then he understands all the signs and how they are reflected below. Yet, he is not interested in this, because his entire work is focused on the Upper Forces, which influence his soul directly. He isn’t interested in mechanical signs in our world, which are simply a lower level demonstration of what has already occurred higher. Even the occurrences that will take place in the future have already descended and materialized; we simply don’t feel them yet.

Therefore, there is no use trying to reveal the future because we will not be able to change our fate this way. If you want to change your fate, you have to ascend to the level of fate. This is the level of luck (Mazal) – the level of the Light.

Awaken The Illumination Of The Shechina

well When reading The Zohar, we have to aspire to feel as one man with one heart in order to be similar to the Upper Light, because we desire to evoke its influence upon us. The great Kabbalist Moshe Cordovero (the Ramak, 15th century CE) writes the following in his book Ohr Yakar:

“When we study The Book of Zohar, we awaken the force of the souls of the righteous men and renew the Light that was revealed at the time of this book’s composition. Thus, the Shechina – the assembly of all the souls – shines and illuminates us with this Light. And all those studying this book return and awaken the Light which Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his friends had revealed at that time…”

Therefore, we too expect for the Light that was revealed by the authors of The Zohar to influence us through all the systems they had gathered after the breaking. They prepared these systems for us in order to influence us through the corrected system from the World of Infinity itself.

These great Kabbalists were acting toward us similar to how we act in this world toward our children, wishing to leave them a good inheritance. This is why they prepared the corrected system for us, as well as the Kabbalistic books and all sorts of “study materials.” They also left us advice on how to build a Kabbalistic group and what its statute should be.

All that remains for us to do is to try to cling to them like little children to the best of our ability. Then the system they prepared for us will begin to affect us.

Advancing From The Branches To The Spiritual Roots

Our Imaginary Reality is Created by Two Mechanisms All “holy” books describe the spiritual work that takes place in different parts of Malchut on various levels and in various combinations with each other. A person has to reveal all these phenomena inside himself. Then he will know what they are called even without reading about it in a book. He will know what is Esau, David, the names of different angels, and so on. He will learn all these processes inside his soul. These are the processes that are described in the “holy” books; they all talk about bestowal and love. These qualities are called “holiness.”

When a person attains this, it becomes his life, his entire inner world where he lives. Then he understands the reason for why Kabbalists revealed this spiritual system to us through the “holy” books. It was to help us be integrated into this system through the text. Even if we don’t know or understand the words, and we can’ discern the spiritual roots behind them (since all the words in these books point to their spiritual roots), it doesn’t matter. What’s important is our “childish” effort to understand them. This is sufficient for the Light to influence us and cause us to grow. The Light enters our soul and corrects the qualities to which the words point.

Everything Depends On “Luck” (Light)

marriage5 The Zohar, Chapter “Miketz (At the End),” Item 113: “And Joseph was the governor over the land.” Joseph is the sun, Zeir Anpin (ZA), since Joseph is Yesod de ZA, which governs the moon (Nukva), shines to her, and feeds her. He is the provider of all the people of the land, for all are fed by that river that stretches out of Eden, which is Yesod, called, “Joseph,” and from there the souls fly off to every person. This is why everyone bows before that place, for there is nothing in the world that does not depend on luck, which is Yesod.

Everything depends on the Light of Fulfillment and the Light of Correction that comes from Yesod to Malchut and to the souls that are included in Malchut. Malchut can receive these Lights when it, together with all the souls in it, reaches equivalence of form with Yesod.

Yesod contains all the qualities that are above it, all the Sefirot of Zeir Anpin. If the souls in Malchut are able to reach unity and become one, as Yesod, then they receive the Light called “Mazal” (luck), which corrects them.

This is why the condition for receiving the Torah is “to love your neighbor as yourself” and to unite “as one man with one heart.” If we are ready for this unification (despite not being able to make it happen, since only the Light does all the actions), then the Light actualizes this in response to our desire.

If we desire to unite, then even though this aspiration is still “Lo Lishma,” meaning it is purely external and artificial, nevertheless the Light understands it and affects us. Because of the difference between our levels, the Light understands similar to how we understand our little children: We know what each of them is capable of on his level according to his character and qualities.

If, according to our souls’ conditions, they are ready to be connected with each other and to become equivalent to Yesod, then there is a point of contact between Malchut and Yesod and the souls inside Malchut receive the Light that Reforms. Therefore it is written that everything depends on luck (“Mazal”) – on the Light coming from Yesod to Malchut.

How To Turn Night Into Day

Man's Relationship With the Creator Is Like A Dramatic Love StoryThe Zohar, Chapter “Miketz (At the End),” Item 117: When a person rises in the morning, he should wash his hands from a Natlah of water, which is a vessel from which to take water [a special cup for ritual hand-washing].

“Morning” means that the Light of Hassadim comes and the illumination of Hochma is revealed. A person feels the spiritual quality of giving and love as darkness inside of his egoistic (receiving) desires. By correcting them, he awakens for morning and experiences the dawn, and then the day. Inside of his corrected desires he feels the Light of Bestowal.

All of this occurs inside the same desires. At first a person feels that the spiritual world is darkness – something that is repulsive and undesired because it is related to bestowal and the need to love the neighbor. He then goes through correction by studying during the nights (and according to the connection of “branch and root,” we also study at night). Thus, he prepares for the coming of day; he reaches the understanding that spirituality, bestowal, and love for one’s neighbor is day – that it is good, and therefore, he desires it.

Because of his intention, the Surrounding Light gradually begins to influence him, making the state that seemed like darkness to him before look desirable. The same state turns into day and begins to shine.

These corrections that a person performs to his desires are called “hand-washing,” since “hands” are the receiving desires, which need to be cleansed of egoistic intentions before they can be used. The “special cup for ritual hand-washing,” the Upper Vessel, Bina, pours the Light of Correction upon our receiving desires.

When It Is No Longer Me

clip_image001Viewing the world correctly is called “Reflected Light,” and this is genuine bestowal. The moment we begin relating to the world with true bestowal (as opposed to egoistic kindness customary in our world), we immediately see complete perfection – an infinite world that is in harmony and eternity. We reveal this inside us, and at that instant we begin living in a perfect world.

This is a true miracle because we actually change our world by it. Moreover, it is not only the relationships between us that change, but we ourselves are the ones who change. It is not about trying to do less bad or more good. Rather, by changing ourselves, we find ourselves in an altogether different movie and begin living in a completely different way.

We are used to changing ourselves under pressure from the environment. We give to others either in order to receive more, or to avoid making enemies. However, this is simply an egoistic adaptation of giving for the purpose of feeling better.

The real change occurs when we awaken the influence of the Upper Light on ourselves for the first time. Right now we don’t even know what this is. We may occasionally feel elevated when something is suddenly revealed in our mind’s understanding or in the feelings of our heart; or on the contrary, a black cloud drifts over us and throws us down.

In this manner, before the revelation of the spiritual world (the world of bestowal), we are allowed to feel the changes that occur in us while we are still in our current state . For this reason, the Light is called “Surrounding,” since it shines to us from afar.

However, through these examples we begin to imagine genuine changes with the help of the “Light that Reforms.” And this makes something completely new out of us. It is a completely new person with a new view of the world. It is no longer me.

We Throw Ourselves Into The Dungeon

clip_image001The Zohar, Chapter “Miketz (At the End),” Item 34: “Joseph was sad,” sad in spirit and sad at heart, since he was imprisoned there. Since Pharaoh sent after him, it is written, “And they brought him out hastily,” meaning that he appeased him and replied to him with words of joy, words that delight the heart, since he was saddened by his being in the dungeon. First, he fell in the dungeon, but from the dungeon, he later rose to greatness.

It appears to us that the story about Joseph talks about material things and the changes they undergo. Joseph falls into a pit and then rises to greatness. We see a desert, a Pharaoh, the Pharaoh’s ministers, a prison, and so on.

However, in fact, it is Joseph, himself, who decides how to see reality. Joseph decides whether it is a pit he falls into or a king’s palace. He decides whether it is night or day. He perceives each of his conditions according to his level of revelation of the Creator, as well as what he thinks about his connection with the Creator and about the situation he is in.

In reality we are always in the state of infinite fulfillment. However, our uncorrected perception depicts pictures that are uncorrected as of yet. The scenes we see are a reflection of our attitude and judgment in regards to the Creator and His role in governing us. The situation in which we find ourselves is, in fact, our evaluation of the Creator’s attitude toward us. Therefore, we are the ones who create our own state.

We Can See Paradise Instead Of Hell

clip_image001We have to reveal the Creator’s desire precisely while we are in darkness. We have to realize that, for Him, it is the most desirable and dignified state since there is no time in spirituality nor do any changes in states occur.

It is the person, himself, who changes his attitude and as a result, sees Paradise instead of Hell. He can see a rise instead of a downfall and Light instead of darkness. A person’s attitude is the only thing that is subject to change.

There are no changes in the state that the Creator prepared for us; it is permanent. We simply have to agree with it more and become more ready for it until we are able to accept it with love and gratitude, to see it as the most desirable state. Then we won’t want any other states. As a result, our consent, love, understanding, and devotion to the Creator’s plan widen and grow.

The Creator wants us to discover that everything depends only on our attitude toward the unchangeable condition in which we are already present. In this reality, nothing changes except our attitude.