Question: What is meant by “prohibitory commandments” and “positive commandments” which are described in The Zohar, and what is the difference in their correction?
Answer: “Prohibitory commandments” means “do not do,” meaning that you need to refrain from using your specific desire to receive pleasure. We are talking about an egoistic desire which a person strives to use in order to receive the pleasure that stands opposite to this desire. And if there is no pleasure against the desire, I do not feel this desire although it exists in me.
However, we are talking about the desires that awaken in us, against which there are Lights that bring pleasures. We need to somehow refrain from using these desires, separate or “freeze” them. This is called “prohibitory commandments.”
I need to activate many forces for this. But what forces? Not using a desire does not mean that I hold myself back. In the material world I wish to use a desire, but I slap my own hands so that I don’t touch it. However, I cannot do this in the spiritual world. In order not to use my desire, I need to place a higher value and significance against it.
After all, in the spiritual world, a transgression is determined based upon whether I wish to use the desire or not. I need to reach a state where I have a desire, and according to the desire I would like to use it. However, according to the significance and to the system of values, I don’t want it since I don’t bring pleasure to the Creator through it; on the contrary, I become more distant from Him.
It turns out that I have a desire, and against it the correction. I need to work on this correction instead of just holding myself back and not using a desire, like in this world. I need to work on the desire itself so that there will be a screen over it, meaning the significance of the fact that I do not work with it on the level of the desire.
Therefore, our whole work on the desires consists of the system of values: how important the Creator and the goal are in my eyes, how important it is to be similar to Him in qualities. Then I can refrain from using the desires, and this is “prohibitory commandments.”
This is great work on each desire: to develop significance against it in order not to use it. Then the importance of the Creator in my eyes exceeds the use of the desire and withstands it. This is called “prohibitory commandments.”
Then there is a more advanced stage when I can use the desires in order to bring pleasure to the Creator. I take these desires and reveal them. I already have several screens on them as well as a restriction not to work with them. I have a screen of bestowal for the sake of bestowal and a screen of receiving for the sake of bestowal.
Then I work with these desires in order to bring pleasure to the Creator. This is called “positive commandments.”
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 11/18/10, The Zohar
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