Acquiring A Spiritual Dictionary

A question I received: Why is it so important in Kabbalah to know the meaning of terms? What is the benefit of that? After all, we see that a person needs to study for a long time in order to grasp the fact that words seemingly familiar to him have a completely different meaning. This is very difficult for a beginner.

My Answer: Even knowing the completely different meanings of familiar words is still very important, as through this we transition from a corporeal vocabulary to the spiritual one. Indeed, the words are familiar: “sun, moon, Earth, man, man’s body parts, animals, beasts, family, coupling (Zivug), kiss, embrace” – all these are words of this world (in the desire to receive) that we use in the spiritual world (the desire to bestow). We add a different meaning and interpretation to each word.

Baal HaSulam writes in The Study of the Ten Sefirot, “Inner Reflection” that we must transition to spiritual definitions and meanings of words, in order for them to be embedded into our minds like in a box, so that we will understand the word’s spiritual meaning the moment we hear it. By using the same words we are familiar with and trying to add a different meaning to them, we transition from a screen that draws for us the pictures of this world to a screen depicting the next, spiritual world.

We have no other words to express the Upper World, the world of forces and actions. But because these forces and actions are actualized in our world, we call these forces and actions (roots) by the names of their consequences (branches). Therefore, we must know their spiritual meanings. True, this is very difficult for beginners, until they free themselves of the former, corporeal content of a word and fill it anew.

As people change, we give words new meaning. The words “kiss,” “feet” or “head” of a Partzuf will remain physiological terms, but they will take on the spiritual meaning of their roots. In accordance with this change, you too will witness the changes you undergo.

Ultimately, the entire wisdom of Kabbalah is intended to give you a spiritual dictionary to replace your corporeal one. What is this “dictionary”? You will begin to interpret words in your inner sensation. You will feel and thus immediately grasp the word differently. In those words you yourself transition from the branch to the root.

Keep advancing and changing internally, and you will see the extent to which you change the meaning of words. This change is automatic. The entire spiritual picture is much stronger than the corporeal one, and so it will displace the corporeal and all its definitions with its own.

From the 3rd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/12/10, Article “Exile and Redemption”

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