All corrections are done according to the principle of “from easiest to most difficult.” And this is logical: At first Light corrects the purer vessels, which are closer to it, and then with their help, it moves onto the coarser and more complicated vessels.
Every vessel has five categories, or ten Sefirot—the structure of HaVaYaH in other words. This structure divides into five parts according to the Aviut (coarseness) of the vessel: from part zero to part four.
The vessel is broken in a special way: The higher its parts, the lower they fell, while the lower ones, on the contrary, have suffered fewer changes. Now the reverse order of Lights and vessels determines the path of correction. Vessels are corrected by the Light, which returns to the Source or surrounding Light (Ohr Makif). It is activated according to the stable and invariable law of similarity of qualities.
Vessels are corrected one step at a time. The vessels, which awaken towards correction on their own—“light” vessels of bestowal—do not need any special system. They do not need any special instructions; they naturally are drawn towards unity on which the entire correction is built. These vessels of the zero and first degree of Aviut are called “forefathers.”
Vessels of the second and third degree of Aviut require a more methodic correction in the work of spiritual attainment. They are called “sons.”
And finally, the vessels of the fourth degree of Aviut, which cannot yet be corrected, are called “nations of the world.”
As Baal HaSulam writes, forefathers needed a “preliminary consent of the entire nation.” Their souls were neither coarse nor separated between them, and this is why it was enough for them to understand the need for unity without having to do difficult work on self-correction with Lights.
But sons are coarser vessels, which work with egoism. They received the method called the “Torah,” which allows them to correct themselves—at first in the vessels of bestowal (“forty years of wandering in the desert”), and then the vessels of reception the (“land of Israel”). Then, while they were mastering the “land of Israel,” they broke twice, as they fell from the degree of the first and the second Temple. In other words, they have created vessels with an altruistic intention, but they were not able to hold them.
Then the sons mixed with the nations of the world who did not participate in this process.
And today the time has come for a common correction. Accordingly, everyone who awakens towards ascent is called “Israel”—according to his aspiration towards the Creator (Yashar-El). In the past, forefathers referred to themselves as ‘Israel,” because they came out of Babylon and escaped to Land of Canaan—in other words they rose from the degree of egoism to the degree of bestowal. Then they fell into the state of Egypt and once again rose to bestowal, having passed Mount Sinai and having continued corrections in the desert and the Land of Israel.
However, after the final breaking, the notion of ‘Israel” disappeared, because no one had the intention for the sake of bestowal, except for separate Kabbalists who lived in every generation—the last islands in the ocean of egoism.
In our days, every person, who awakens towards correction, is called “Israel”—according to the desire, which the Creator has ignited in him, his future role. And the rest for now remain in the category of “nations of the world.” For now they neither want to nor are able to hear the message about unity. However, after thousands of years of mixing, everyone is basically capable of spiritual ascent.
Briefly speaking, this is what the process looks like. At first mankind was in the common state of “Babylon,” and then that state divided into two parts: “Israel” and “nations of the world.” Then Israel descended into Egypt from there, which means that it acquired the evil inclination, and four hundred years later it managed to ascend to the degree of the Torah, build a Temple on the level of its private end of correction.
Then a breaking took place, and the sons of Israel have fallen down, into a two thousand year exile at the end of which all of us will come to a common end of correction.
Our simple countdown begins at the point of the beginning of correction when the fallen qualities of Bina have combined and mixed with the qualities of Malchut: Whoever awakens is ready for the spiritual path. Correction happens according to the principle of “from light to heavy”—but not by the means of the Torah, which is the method of past generations, but with the help of the wisdom of Kabbalah, which is able to bring the Light to us, which returns to the Source (Ohr Makif), from the end of correction. This is why it is becoming revealed in our days.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 11/22/11, “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee)”