The purpose of our studies is to develop recognition of evil within us. On the other hand, even without studying, people can identify the evil within themselves. We are brought up in a certain spirit and acquire cultural values; thus, we are unable to steal, beat or kill anyone. We become better, more open-hearted; we start charities and help the sick and needy. Hence, we learn to distinguish good from bad and intentionally want to do good.
At the same time, all people in this world no matter how highly developed or poorly bred they are act in accordance with their egoistic desires. Some people help others because they are afraid to get into a similar situation in the future. Others feel pain when they see their neighbors’ affliction and would like to calm down their own pain. Our egoism contains multiple bases for “altruistic” behavior, that is, caring about our neighbors.
However, it has nothing to do with authentic correction. All good and bad qualities as well as all principles of our world are rooted in egoism. A person can be the quintessence of kindness, be utterly concerned about his surroundings, be loved by everyone, but still is being governed by self-love.
In Kabbalistic terms, a person remains on the animate level since he is not in control of his own properties; rather, his properties are in control of him. No matter how wonderful he is, he is not the one who manages his behavior, but rather, his ego is in charge of him. We can call such person “an angel” according to the spiritual classification, meaning on the “animate” level.
In fact, inanimate, vegetative and animate developmental levels are considered “angels” since they implicitly fulfill “orders” of nature. This applies to everyone in this world. It explains why there are no such things as punishment or reward; they are applicable only to those who work on self-improvement in order to approach the Creator. The rest are simply ordinary “derivatives”; it’s useless to expect more from them.
We study Kabbalah because we are triggered by a point in the heart, which allows us to differentiate between reward and punishment on our spiritual path. What bothers us is whether we will rise above our nature that in fact is the Creator. We’d like to have power over it.
What does this mean? Do we really want to take over the Creator? Yes. It is said: “My sons have defeated Me. I created the evil inclination and they demanded that I create a force that corrects it.”
A person develops in order to validate his existence rather than blindly submit himself to nature. His development depends on the recognition of evil. What kind of evil do I disclose in myself? Maybe I am a thief or a liar…. But it is the Creator who made me this way.
The ability to differentiate between a human being and the Creator is in fact a genuine recognition of evil. Only in comparison with Him, my evil inclination reveals itself. It is about the desire that I identify as being opposite to His.
But how can I possibly compare myself with the Creator? For that, I need a group. It is my only opportunity, my only standard, and my sole criteria for evaluating myself. My negative mind-set towards my friends and detachment from the group allow me to acknowledge my evil inclination. Then, I unite with my friends in order to approach the Creator.
So, there are three components: myself, the group, and the Creator. According to them we evaluate evil and good inclinations, rewards and punishments, and all other details of our perception that we measure up to the Man (Adam in Hebrew) who is similar with the Creator. The rest is simply irrelevant.
Basically, this is the way to separate creation. This approach accurately focuses my attention on the goal. The group becomes a method of achieving the Creator; the Creator is hiding behind the group and reveals Himself to the degree that I immerse myself in it.
After I incorporate myself into the group, I realize that the Creator is also a part of it. Thus, the group is a common territory between me and Him.
I disclose my evil inclination through my relationship with the group, while I am trying to unite with my friends in the group. Similar to when we exited Egypt, Mount Sinai emerges between us; it’s a mountain of hatred (Sina in Hebrew).
On the other hand we must unite and be as one man with one heart out of desperation. The gap between unity and enormous hatred constitutes the evil inclination. This is what we raise our demand to correct.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 11/30/11, “The Essence of Religion and Its Purpose”