All creation is the will to receive pleasure, and that is why it requires transformation and fulfillment. But this can be done only by some part in it that will gain understanding, wisdom. This part doesn’t belong to creation itself; it descends to it from the Creator, from the desire to bestow.
There is nothing in the universe except these two forces: the desire to receive and the desire to bestow. From the relationship between these two properties, the creature starts analyzing itself and the nature of the force that affects it.
As a result, in the desire to enjoy a mechanism gets formed, which is regarded as a “head” (a “Partzuf’s Rosh”), meaning a mind, thought, and discernment. With the power of this thought, desire begins to attain itself.
At the still, vegetative, and animate levels, the desire to enjoy acts instinctively. And a creature of this world called “man” who acts instinctively as well is also included herein. Try as we may to measure and evaluate ourselves by our own devices or by the view of others, we always judge within our egoism.
All our “compassion” is solely for our own sake, and all our actions are for our own benefit. But remaining locked inside ourselves, we can’t know who we are. We can only weigh and prefer greater desires to the lesser ones. And the ability to make such a calculation is called “thought” or discernment in our world. But in essence, it is merely an evaluation: What is greater, more vital, and beneficial for our egoism. That’s all our mind is about.
All these discernments take place at the animate degree, at the level of our animate body. This is how we live and evolve for thousands of years. But when we acquire an additional property, the property of Bina, bestowal, it is at that point that we begin to perform an assessment based upon two attributes: reception and bestowal. That’s when the mind, the “head,” which makes decisions is now called spiritual since it makes a calculation pertaining to bestowal, the attribute of the Creator.
Relative to Him, it evaluates what the created being should or shouldn’t do and how. Hence, work only within the desire to enjoy is regarded as animate since it’s the highest degree it can attain. This is how we all exist, as it is written: “All are similar to the mortal beasts.”
But one who acquires the desire to bestow is regarded as “human” (Adam) since he is “similar” (Domeh) to the Creator. That is the Kabbalists who attained the property of bestowal, the Creator. Then, they calculate coming from the two properties, reception and bestowal, meaning that they analyze how to connect within a person the desire to enjoy and the intention to bestow, to what degree the intention to bestow can rule his desire to enjoy.
Such a person has a different mind, “the head.” And even though all his actions continue residing in the desire to enjoy, the aim of these actions and their intention which moves and governs them is bestowal. And it is evident that this is a completely different type of calculation as well as perception, which cannot be comprehended by those who for the time being view things with mammalian eyes. It is written: “The view of the Torah is opposite to the view of the laymen.”
The “view of the Torah” is bestowal, whereas the “view of the laymen” is egoistic reception. And although the matter remains the same, the desire to enjoy, it all depends on how it is used, on the intention governing this matter: Will it be egoistic or altruistic, for my benefit, or for the benefit of others? This will be the test for our desire.
In all upper, spiritual worlds, only one law of bestowal governs everything, while the desire to enjoy obeys this thought and such an intention. And only in our world, in the state from which we start our ascent, the governing law is the one that submits everything to the interests of egoism.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 1/21/2011, “The Freedom”
Question: Where does our desire to bestow come from?
Answer: The desire to bestow awakens in us under the influence of the Upper Light, the “Light that Reforms.” We don’t know what desire to bestow is; bestowal lies outside of us.
We exist in our nature to receive. Suddenly some external force comes in and affects us, and we don’t know what this force is. We recognize it solely by how it manifests and acts. By observing the actions of this force in me, I start recognizing the Creator.
He is those effects that He causes in me. But I don’t know Him for what He really is. In essence, I don’t really know what phenomena of this world are: what electricity is, what bread is, what I myself am! I cannot attain the essence of things since only derivatives of the manifestation of this essence are revealed to me.
Therefore, the wisdom of Kabbalah (like any other science) studies solely what can be known: matter and form clothed in matter. And when this unique, foreign, outer force comes in, we don’t know where it comes from and Who it is. It is even evoked by me in some unique, odd way regarded as a “miracle” (Segula).
After all, I have no chance to know how exactly I affect it, how it is set in motion and starts working on me in response. I judge solely by how it appears in me, how I feel in my matter, in desire. Within myself, I experience changes as the results of this external act. This effect, a new form in me, is what is called the desire to bestow.
It is a very strange and special property which is totally unclear and unknown to me. When it suddenly emerges, I realize that I have never felt it before. But if you talk to regular folks, everyone will say that they are perfectly aware of what the will to bestow is and that he gives unto others. They don’t realize that all their giving is merely another form of receiving.
One can comprehend the difference between reception and bestowal only having received both of these desires. One comes to us from outside, while the other is hidden in our nature. In this specific case, a person is able to discern one from the other and starts to understand who he really is.
At present, we don’t even understand that in this world there rules just one law: the law of egoistic reception. We will comprehend it only when we acquire the desire to bestow. Only having exited Egypt can one realize what the Egyptian bondage really was compared to life in freedom! Everything is known and evaluated only from its opposite.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 1/21/2011, “The Freedom”
Question: Kabbalah states that the entire world resides within me. What then is this external Creator’s force that descends upon me?
Answer: I don’t know what external force it is. I only know that all of a sudden something occurs in me, and a new property unfolds within. How then does it differ from thoughts and desires that used to appear in me before? Were they also new to me?
However, it’s absolutely clear to me that this property emerging in me right now, which is regarded as the force of bestowal, is something totally new and different from all of my nature. It is completely opposite, reversed relative to it, and it unfolds in such a unique form that it is cardinally different from all of my previous experience.
In order to connect to it, I have to rise above my ego, by having exerted enormous effort. I must cut myself off from my egoism, tear away from it, and constantly battle with myself so that I don’t fall into egoistic calculations.
Only under condition that I cut myself off from my egoistic calculation do I start attaining the force which is now pulling me toward itself, which acts within me by inviting me to join it instead of remaining in my egoism. This is the force of bestowal.
This power that is unfolding within me radically differs from all my previous strengths, thoughts, aspirations, and all of my nature. I feel this since it mandates me to cut myself away from all that I was before!
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 1/21/2011, “The Freedom”
Tu Bishvat, “The New Year of the Trees,” symbolizes the fruit of the spiritual work, growth. On the first stage of our spiritual path we turn the egoistic intention Lo Lishma into an altruistic intention Lishma, bestowal for the sake of bestowal. Once a person acquires the property of Bina, he becomes a “tree of the field.”
Then a person moves to the stage of receiving for the sake of bestowal, and the barren tree of the field starts bearing fruit. This is a result of a person’s work, of his degree. Now, he uses his “tree” to grow fruit, fill the souls, and he relates to them as the source of bestowal, like the Creator. This way the person becomes equal to the Creator and completes the correction.
We Kabbalists see the completion of man’s entire work in Tu Bishvat. Overall, all holidays have dual roles: They embody a certain part of our path, and at the same time they contain a certain element in them that symbolizes its completion.
Passover, the celebration of the exit from Egypt, signifies what we already see, how we abandon egoism, and why. After all, it is impossible to leave it without knowing the purpose. Shavuot, the holiday of the giving of the Torah, is also more than the acquisition of the means of correction: We know why we receive it. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is the beginning of all the changes, and the final goal is already planted in the initial plan. The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, once again reminds us why we go through the chain of corrections. The same applies to Chanukah and Purim.
All these customs of our world symbolize the stages, milestones on the path of our spiritual correction. That is where they come from.
They do not seem to be special. On Tu Bishvat we eat fruit and sweets—what a weak hint! Purim also looks more like a children’s holiday. But in reality, these are the most important holidays, and their outcomes are the most convincing. This is because they refer to the results, the fruit of our efforts.
Purim represents the final correction, the end of the path. Then both forces, the positive and the negative, support one another and participate in attaining the final goal. Tu Bishvat also symbolizes the ripening of the fruit, and the difference between them is in the level of perception. The field tree is the vegetative level, while Purim is higher degrees.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 1/21/2011, “Because Man Is the Tree of the Field”
Answer: First of all, we need to realize how we can keep increasing the connection between us and make our dissemination around the world more intense. Our spiritual state depends specifically on this.
Our next spiritual degree depends on how much we will be able to expand around the world since the Light will correct and lift us accordingly. This is because we do not exist for us, for our ascent; we exist so Kabbalah will spread.
In “Messiah’s Horn,” Baal HaSulam writes that the dissemination of Kabbalah around the worlds is called a horn or the Messiah’s call. Messiah is a property that pulls man out of egoism (the world “Messiah” or “Mashiach” in Hebrew comes from the word “Moshech,” to pull). So this is what we need to do. If we assist the world a little more so it will come closer to the correction of its egoism, we will be lifted as much as the world needs. But if the world does not need it, we will not be lifted.
What did the ARI say on his deathbed? Chaim Vital, the ARI’s main student to whom he gave the ways of this wisdom, was not there at that moment. Baal HaSulam writes about this in his letter: “Isaac Cohen, one of the ARI’s students…came in at the moment of his passing and cried because their hope to see the world full of good, wisdom, and the Light of the Creator, which they had during their teacher’s life, was leaving.
And the ARI said to him: ‘If there was just one absolutely righteous man among you, I would not have been taken from this world prematurely….’ And the student cried: ‘So we do not have any hope?’ And the ARI answered: ‘I will come to you and teach you if you will merit it.’ And the student objected: ‘How will you come to teach us if you are leaving this world?’ And the ARI answered: ‘What do you understand in hidden secrets and the ways of my return to you!’ After these words he immediately passed away to live in the future world….”
Baal HaSulam has said the same. He died because his students were insufficient for him to continue the study with them. There are no other calculations here. When a person is needed, he is kept with this mission, and when he is not needed, he is taken. There is other work for him to do.
This is why we need to understand that we need to strive to circulate Kabbalah with all our might, and then we will be lifted. One absolutely and precisely depends upon the other! It is not that just one of us will not be able to ascend (this is out of the question!); the entire group will not rise in their unity if it will not properly participate in the dissemination of Kabbalah in the world.
Let us hope that this year we will change everything that depends upon us, and then we will really merit entrance into the upper world.
From the Lesson 1 in Moscow 1/14/2011, “Introduction of the Book of Zohar”
What Is a Prayer?
However, the prayer must be a whole prayer, that is, from the bottom of the heart. It means that one knows one hundred percent that there is no one in the world who can help him but the Creator Himself.
Yet, how does one know that, that there is no one to help him but the Creator Himself? One can acquire that awareness precisely if he has exerted all the powers at his disposal and it did not help him. Thus, one must do every possible thing in the world to attain “for the Creator.” Then one can pray from the bottom of one’s heart, and then the Creator hears his prayer.
– Baal HaSulam, Shamati, Article #5 “Lishma Is an Awakening from Above, and Why Do We Need an Awakening from Below”
Question: What does it mean to thank the Creator?
Answer: After all the efforts that are required from me in dissemination, studies, and the group, I reach despair and then I start perceiving my egoistic desire separately from myself. It’s the same as how a sick person feels the place of the illness and its source—the painful area inside him, which he discerns and wants to isolate.
Then he begins working to come out of Egypt, to isolate his egoistic desire. A person tries to separate from it, but cannot do it. That is how the first and second Egyptian plagues go by.
After that a person starts to feel that all of these changes in relation to his evil inclination are evoked by the Creator. As the Torah tells us, the Creator informs Moses that He has given more strength to Pharaoh in order to ascend and project Himself above him.
A person starts to see and understand that the Creator does all of the work inside him. He leads him up, out of the egoistic calculation, and then lowers him, and then a person falls back. Then the Creator brings him out once again and later a person falls again. That is how time after time, a person acquires the knowledge and sensation of the fact that unless the Creator performs these actions upon him, he will always remain in Egypt by himself, inside his egoistic desire.
These impressions accumulate, becoming clearer and stronger, until a person cries out, ready for anything—even pitch darkness for his egoism —anything to run away from it. This is the “Egyptian darkness,” the night of the exodus from Egypt. There is no darkness in a person greater than this one, but if he knows that he is following the Creator, then he prefers this darkness. Of course, he does not prefer it in the desire for pleasure, but because the Creator is walking ahead of him.
And the way to attain this is through meticulous work.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 1/23/11, Writings of Rabash