While reading The Zohar, instead of looking inside ourselves and identifying what’s written in the book as our own properties, we mistakenly start imagining historical characters and events. In this manner, the words that appear familiar become obstacles to experiencing The Zohar.
The words are only symbols. They consist of letters where each letter is a symbol representing a spiritual property. The sum of several spiritual properties comprises a small system called “a letter” (in Hebrew it is called “Ot” – meaning a symbol or sign). A letter expresses a certain property, an action, and a spiritual structure. It consists only of a desire that is shaped in a certain way. Desire is matter, and the forms that it assumes are called “similarity with the Creator.”
There are four such similarities with the Creator in Malchut, nine in Zer Anpin, and nine in Bina. They add up to twenty two. Also, there are five forms that bear a restrictive or coarse property at all five levels of desire (0-4 Aviut), and five letters MaNTzePaCh that indicate the Parsa (borderline) between Atzilut and the Worlds of BYA. This is why the Hebrew alphabet has 22 main letters and five additional letter that replace the regular letters. This is the MaNTzePaCh – the letters that appear at the end of the words.
These words contain no corporeal taste, flavor, or connection with history or people. Rather, they are only forces and properties of desires. At first we don’t see any difference between all these words. It doesn’t matter if they are names of people, animals, actions or plants; we still don’t know what they mean and simply try to understand. At this initial stage they are just symbols with unknown meanings.
It is similar to trying to understand hieroglyphs: I don’t feel anything nor can I tell the difference between them. Words and hieroglyphs are symbols that outline states of my desire.
Therefore, when we read The Zohar, we have to detach from stereotypes, feelings, and relationships that are associated with each word, and instead start searching for their spiritual meaning. The only thing I know for sure is the fact that everything I am reading about is happening within me. I know nothing else since I am dealing with a world that isn’t revealed in me yet; these phenomena exist in me in a concealed form. I have to apply effort in order to uncover these phenomena inside myself by disconnecting from all corporeal images that are triggered in me by these words.
I won’t be able to see these properties within myself if I only use my own effort. However, by applying my effort I can attract the Light that Reforms, which will correct my intention and make me use my desires in order to bestow rather than to receive. To the extent of obtaining such qualities, I start to feel The Zohar’s words.