Preface to the Sulam Commentary, Item 1: First, we must know the names of the ten Sefirot: KHB, HGT, NHYM. These are acronyms of Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut. These are also the ten coverings of His Light, established so the lower ones can receive His Light.
This is like the light of the sun, which is impossible to look at unless through darkened glass that diminishes its light and make it suitable for the eyes’ ability to see. Similarly, had His Light not been covered by these ten coverings, called “ten Sefirot,” in which each lower one further covers His Light, the lower ones would have been unable to obtain it.
In order for us to exist, the Upper Light had to reduce,to restrict itself, and clothe itself in ten concealments. Due to this, we can feel our existence, be independent, and gradually draw closer to the Creator by assuming His form and adopting His qualities. In other words, we can attain Him gradually, not instantly.
We are separated from the Upper Light by as many as ten degrees. This is precisely how the Light reveals the desire to receive, which can exist opposite to it. Contact between the Light and the desire is possible only through these ten coverings, called Sefirot.
However, one can object that the word “Sefira” doesn’t stem from the word “coverings.” Quite the opposite, it means illumination. A Sefira shines on us if we are in congruence with this Sefira, that is, if we exist in the same conditions and have the same qualities. We ascend the same degrees of the Sefirot that the Light had descended from above-downward so as to be with us, and now we ascend so as to be together with the Light. We meet the Light at a particular degree of this ladder and in accordance with it we count off the Sefirot – the ten garments which the Upper Light uses to conceal itself.
Each new day renews the initial Act of Creation, awakening the ego within us through the ten coverings, and doing so more and more. We must feel ourselves opposite to the Light, for otherwise we will not be creatures.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/16/10, “Preface to the Sulam Commentary”
The Zohar, Chapter “VaYikra (The Lord Called),” Item 83: … as it is written, “Behold, your king will come unto you,” certainly, and not you to Him. He will come to you to appease you; He will come to you to raise you; He will come to you to complement you in everything; He will come to you to raise you to His palace, to bond with you in everlasting bonding, for all times, as it is written, “And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.”
Should we raise Malchut from the ashes on our own, or does the Merciful Creator raise the fallen tent of David for us? Do we need to wait in exile and then everything will become revealed from Above? Or do we need to recognize that the King has come, done his work, reaches out to us, and we need to grab on to Him and ascend?
There are people who say that everything will come and become revealed from Above, that the Third Temple will “fall down” from the skies, and we don’t need to do anything but just keep waiting. This is the “Galut” (the time of exile) type of thinking.
Kabbalists, on the other hand, explain to us that we had to force ourselves into exile (from the level of spirituality) for a specific period of time, until the end of the 20th century. Then, from Above, the Creator returned us to the Land of Israel and revealed the method of correction which is Kabbalah and The Zohar. He created all the conditions for the freedom of will, and the Giving of the Torah from the Above took place. Now, people need to receive the Torah and realize it in their correction.
This is what we call “the king has come to the queen.” He gives her everything. However, now she must take a step toward the king and express a desire to unite with him, instead of merely continuously lying in the dust without making a single action on her own behalf. After all, the king compels her to act and reaches out to her, revealing his desire.
This is what those who study the external Torah, the religious, and those who study the inner Torah, the Kabbalists, argue about. There’s nothing to add to the external observance of the customs as the entire addition happens on the inside, that is, in the intentions, the discernments of the desire, and revelation of the evil inclination which needs to be corrected.
From the 1st of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/16/10, The Zohar
The entire evil has been prepared for us from Above during the breaking of the vessels. So how can we say that the creature sins if this is the Creator’s making, the result of His actions? Anything man does will always be the consequence of the Creator’s actions. We can always point at the source from which everything comes. Even He acknowledges creating evil and nothing but evil: “I created the evil inclination” (“Barati Yetzer Ara“).
The only freedom of will that allows us to choose between good and evil and demand the correction of evil within us is realized with the help of the environment. As a person turns to the group, he discovers an “empty space,” Klipat Noga, which belongs neither to the Creator nor to the creature. Good or evil there is determined only by one’s free choice.
As you work with the group you begin to see that the Creator has left you something where you can make a decision. This is a special point of your independence. If you begin to create the Creator’s image from this “white,” free point, and decide that you want to become like Him, you will be referred to as “human.”
However, you still need to reveal this point. So far the Reshimo(recollection) of the breaking is being revealed in you. This point is a rudiment of a screen, which you need to build from the Reshimo. It is revealed through our work with the group.
We clear away the accumulation of the shell (Klipot) and different habits with our inner efforts to suddenly discover something that does not belong to the Creator beneath them. This really is a miracle. In this point a person has to say: “The entire world depends on me. Every moment I direct it either toward good or toward evil with my decision.” Then a person spends his entire time like a tightrope walker on a tight wire; every moment he has make a new decision in the direction of good to make sure he does not fall off the tight wire. This means that every moment he chooses to walk the path of truth.
This is why Baal HaSulam says that the path towards the Creator is a very thin thread, and the person walking it must be very careful to make sure he does not bear right or left. Yet all of this happens under the condition that a person discovers the point where the rope starts: his freedom of will in his work with the environment. All of the following points on which he walks are the points of his proper connection with the environment, which he chooses as he realizes his freedom of will.
A person constructs his own rope with the points that he discovers. He himself walks through them, as every time he directs himself and the entire world towards good. Actually, nothing exists before him, neither the point that he discovers nor the rope made with these points, the path straight to the Creator.
The path does not stretch out from the Creator toward us. We only receive the Reshimot, which remain on every degree from the above-downward descent. The rope does not exist, but we build it ourselves from below-upward. At the end, this is precisely what we call “human.”
All the Partzufim that we reconstruct from below-upward are not the same Partzufim that exist during the descent from above-downward. This is because when we climb the degrees, we reveal every degree 620 times greater than it was during the descent. This is a completely different degree, which we build ourselves.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/20/10, The Zohar
A question I received: How is it possible to annul myself before my friend when I am only able to see his corporeal form?
My Answer: Don’t pay attention to the corporeal form; this world is an illusion (Olam Amedumeh). You need to notice only a person’s point in the heart. This is what you want to unite with. His personality may be unpleasant and he may not be someone that you like, but that belongs to the “animate” level, to his and your “donkeys” (egos).
When you focus on the spiritual goal and his point in the heart, you see a pure desire burning inside of him without any connection to his corporeal properties. The body has no significance at all. In the end, it is just dragged to the cemetery, as it is totally unnecessary.
But the point in the heart is the Creator in each of us. The Creator exists within every person in the world. However, He manifests openly among the friends of a Kabbalah group since He is the One who brought these spiritual points together so they will unite and come to Him. Therefore, you have to be grateful that this means was given to you.
From the 3rd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/20/10, Article “Purpose of Society”
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Ask the Kabbalist: “About Difficulties to Connect and Bond with Other People”
All comes out of HaVaYaH (Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey), the universal, singularly existing system, and everything takes its beginning in the root, the tip of the letter “Yod.” This is Keter, the “essence of the essence” (Yesh mi Yesh). There is the, “existence from absence” (Yesh mi Ain), which are expanding together. The Light affects the desire, and it takes various forms; that is, the will to receive constantly changes its properties in similarity with the Light.
The Zohar explains how all properties come from the Light which created the will to receive, “existence from absence,” and how the Light works on it. This is truly a symphony of development: the impact of the Light on the desire, the lack of filling that changes under the influence of the Light and acquires different forms and properties, including the properties of the Light and its own previous forms that influence the next states even several steps ahead.
The Zohar explains to us how from only two forces – the will to bestow and the will to receive – come all the diversity of the creature. And all of it is directly connected with us since in our world there is also nothing, except the two forces: black and white, one and zero, good and bad. It doesn’t matter what levels we are talking about – all of creation, all of our impressions, sensual images and pictures of the perception of reality – all of this consists of two forces.
The Kabbalists were able to describe these two forces beautifully in the form of letters. As a result, when we look at these shapes, they come alive and get filled with the spirit of life. You begin to recognize inside each letter: How these properties, the Creator and the creature, are connected with each other; how they are mutually intertwined and penetrate each other, in which direction, in what way; where they merge together and where they don’t yet, and what restrictions there are.
We don’t have the words to express these relations. But a letter, a symbol, gives you a model. And then, by absorbing this model, you enclose within yourself the entire accumulation of feelings, relations, and everything that exists within the letter. But a letter contains everything. It only seems a simple form, but this simplicity encloses thousands of previous forms that it was acquiring during its descent from above downwards.
In Kabbalah, everything derives from the vital necessity. By observing nature, the content of man and his perception, the Kabbalists saw that there was no other way to express the connection between the Creator and the creature except with the help of such symbols, these letters.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/23/10, The Zohar
The Zohar, Chapter “VaYikra (The Lord Called),” Items 147-149: The Yod of the Holy Name connects in three ties. For this reason, there is one tip in it above, one tip below, and one tip in the middle, since three ties hang down in her. The tip above is the upper Keter, above all the upper ones, the head of all the heads and stands atop all of them…The bottom tip is the other, bottom tip of the Yod. It is Bina, the head to water the garden, Malchut. This is the fountain of water from which all the plantings are watered, since all the Mochin of ZON and BYA extend from the Bina….
The letter “Yod” is Hochma of the world Atzilut, its “hidden mind.” Through the upper point enters the Light of the Infinity, and through its bottom point exits the Light of Bina, flowing through Zeir Anpin; it waters the garden, Malchut.
It would be possible to describe the entire system in details like this, but we are studying The Zohar in order to arouse the Light that Reforms, not to study some dry theory. We study The Zohar not to gain theoretical knowledge of spirituality, but to actually experience it! When we begin to feel what The Zohar is telling us, we will feel bestowal and reception within us and the difference between them; only then will we be able to read and unveil the whole picture, which will appear as sensations. We will study The Zohar in order to understand what we are feeling! Then I will start studying Kabbalah as a science; I will add mind to my feelings.
But first I have to receive the sensation! The mind follows. Otherwise, it would simply be theoretical reasoning without practical comprehension. We would get stuck in these diagrams and remain in this world to intellectualize, as if we know what is going on “there” in the spiritual world.
But we don’t need to know what is happening there: We have to be there! There is a great difference between those who are perceiving the spiritual world and the theorists who are just learning about it in The Zohar. The latter are the type that Baal HaSulam encountered in Jerusalem when he arrived in Israel. They were studying The Zohar and knew all its books and writings of the ARI by heart. But when he asked whether they perceive it, they replied: “There is nothing to perceive here! We just memorize the text.”
But for us, first and foremost, it is important to achieve the ability to perceive the spiritual world: The Zohar has to enter us, and we must begin living in it. Then, we will study what we feel and how to change these feelings, how to walk in spirituality.
We cannot research what we don’t perceive. Since we are the matter of the will to receive, we must perceive the reality within it. Only then we will be able to study what our perception. consists of.
Bina derives from the word “Havana,” understanding, as it is written, “the heart understands.” This is why we study The Zohar, in order to be able to bestow and perceive the Creator. Later, you and I will discuss every page of The Zohar, and we will see how much it contains, the entire symphony of feelings.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/23/10, The Zohar
The Zohar, Chapter “VaYikra (The Lord Called),” Item 135: The seven firmaments are above, and in each there are stars, signs, and suns that serve in each and every firmament. In all the firmaments, there are Merkavot [plural of Merkava—chariot/structure], one atop the other, to assume the burden of their Master’s kingdom. And in all the firmaments are Merkavot and suns that are different from one another, standing one atop the other. Some have six wings and some have four wings; some have four faces and some have two faces, and some have one face; some are burning fire, some are water, and some are wind, as it is written, “He makes the winds His messengers, flaming fire His ministers.”
Angels are forces of the still, vegetative, and animate levels with respect to man. In this world man exists within the still, vegetative, and animate nature, which creates the necessary environment for him. Similarly in the spiritual world, amid the forces of our soul, there are various forces of the still, vegetative, and animate spiritual levels, which are called angels. With the assistance of these forces, I form my attitude to the Creator, as I aspire to aim myself toward Him in order to find the connection with Him. My soul exists thanks to these forces; they are its environment. In this way I advance.
Angels are also the forces of man’s soul, which a person arranges in order to exist in his soul. A person directs all of these forces toward the Creator and thereby gets in touch with Him. These angels have neither free will, nor their own reality. They resemble the powers of nature as we know them as gravity, and the laws of interaction between molecules and atoms and large and small bodies. All these forces are called angels.
We should not imagine angels as bodies with wings flying around! The “wings” that The Zohar speaks of are coverings or the screens that they bring to a person. With the help of these forces, a person attains self-realization and then has the power of the screen called “an angel with wings.”
Therefore, our attitude to these forces should be same as to nature in this world. Everything that surrounds a person (with the exception of people), all other powers, are angels. Essentially, we always aspire to arrange them in a way that is most comfortable for us. It is similar in the spiritual world.
From the 3rd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/21/10, The Zohar
Answer: I don’t get upset as long as it doesn’t concern one’s free will. If it lies within someone’s capacity for free will, I could get really mad. By “free will” I mean that it concerns spreading the wisdom of Kabbalah. In that case, beware: This has nothing to do with the Creator. This is directly connected to one’s sense of responsibility. Here I am unforgiving.
Question: But everything comes from the Creator?
Answer: No, not this. Spreading Kabbalah efficiently, correctly, and well lies within one’s free will; it’s one’s duty and one must see to it. Otherwise, why study Kabbalah? Why do we need it? We just remain as animals. We are humans only inasmuch we use the wisdom of correction that was granted to us. It is our duty to draw Light for our correction. When a person doesn’t do his part or does it poorly, especially when given an opportunity, I can’t put up with it.
It’s the only thing that causes my anger and nothing else. In all other areas, I don’t even have the power to force a person to do or not do something. I specifically refer to free will and the fact that it is given to a person to use.
Question: Does free will imply not only dissemination but studying as well?
Sometimes a person needs to go through bad states. One must experience them. His free will strengthens when he suffers through them on his own. I can’t interfere. Otherwise I would be acting like the Creator, as it were, externally, from Above, but it’s not right and I am not allowed.
Question: So there are two types of free will: one with a liability (dissemination) and one without it (painful states)?
Answer: No. They are the same in that they both demonstrate one’s attitude to his spiritual growth. They are fully connected.