In the past, people who wanted to attain spirituality had to torment and restrict their body so as to annihilate their egoistic desire and acquire a new, bestowing nature. This was customary at the time of our forefathers and the sages of the Mishnah. The Talmud era followed and the sages of that era, the Kabbalists of the time, changed the condition for transforming our egoistic nature into the bestowing, spiritual one by the means of their own spiritual work.
Each period introduced its own corrected part into the common system of the soul. As a result, the system became partially corrected, making it possible for the souls not yet corrected to receive help from the corrected part. Thus, we no longer need to torture and limit our body. In fact, we are not even capable of doing so because of our huge egoism. The sages of the Talmud made our path easier, and the part of the desire which we would have had to correct by torturing the body can now be corrected by the Light that Reforms.
The forefathers and the sages of the Mishnah corrected themselves by performing two actions: tormenting the body and attracting the Light of the Torah. In contrast, the sages of the Talmud corrected the system so that instead of suffering, we can correct ourselves with the Light of the Torah. This is of crucial importance for our times because who has the strength to renounce the achievements of modern civilization?
The Kabbalists of the Talmud corrected themselves and their connection into the common system, making a large corrected part. I am born uncorrected and a sinner, but I exist in a system that contains many corrected parts, which sustain it. And if I want to correct myself, there is someone I can ask help from and connect to. The ball is now in my court.
From Part 3 of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 5/26/10, Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot