Answer: No, he can’t. Kabbalah takes the upper hand over religious ideology. A Kabbalist can carry out all sorts or religious customs as a result of his upbringing, culture, and the traditions of his nation. And I think it’s good to do so. I do not look down on religion.
However, this should not replace Kabbalah because the most important thing for a person is to attain revelation of and adhesion with the Creator. Anything that interferes with this should be removed from this path. What interferes isn’t religion itself, but the false conception of it, thinking that it can replace the attainment of the Creator, that instead of spiritual revelation it’s enough to carry out some kind of material actions, to pray according to written words, and to think that this is sufficient.
This is completely not so. It is written that “Everyone must know the Creator from the smallest of them to the greatest of them.” We have to attain adhesion with Him. Everyone says they agree with this because that’s what is written and it is impossible to argue with it. It’s clear to everyone that we have to attain “the Creator’s work” and to bond to Him. It is also written that the main rule of the Torah is to love your neighbor as yourself. However, people everywhere only talk about this, but do not actually make it happen.
No one even knows what adhesion with the Creator means, how to come closer to Him, and how to become similar to Him. The problem is that religion has replaced the science of Kabbalah after the breaking of the Temple, when the nation of Israel fell from the spiritual level to the material level and all that remained for the people to do was to carry out just physical actions as a tradition in order to commemorate the previous spiritual actions.
Now we have to learn to ascend back to the spiritual level and add the attainment of the Creator to these national traditions. Religion seems to stop a person, telling him that it’s sufficient to make just the mechanical actions that are carried out by religious people.
However, many source texts say that it’s not enough to make just the material actions, that the Creator does not care how you slaughter an animal—in a kosher manner or not, and that the commandments were given in order to correct the creatures by them. This means that the action has to be supplemented with the right intention.
The intention is the most important thing, in fact, it is the person himself. What is important are his thoughts and desires, rather than the actions. A religious person usually does actions by habit, having been raised from childhood to make them without thinking. There is no correction in doing so.
That is why we want to supplement tradition, the customary way of life, or what is called religion, which we perceive as a nation’s culture or tradition, with “the Creator’s work,” meaning the inner work of a person whereby he corrects his desires in order to become similar to the Creator. Adam, man, means similar.
Every person, secular as well as religious, has to understand that Kabbalah can add something to his life. It adds the revelation of the Creator, the upper force that controls everything. And when you see it, understand it, and feel it, then you understand how to go forward without making mistakes, both in this world and in the “world to come,” the spiritual world that becomes revealed to you.
We do not attain the revelation of the Creator by religious actions, but by uniting with others. However, these actions do not become canceled. They are simply like a branch symbolizing the spiritual root, and a person can remain in that culture. This is a custom that does not interfere with one’s advancement, but neither does it help him. It simply reminds you that spiritual actions exist, and that is why it was preserved throughout the years of the exile.
The Creator does not care about your physical actions. He only cares about the intention you put into them.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/20/11, “Introduction to the book Panim Meirot uMasbirot”