Question: What do the “black letters on the white background” signify in spiritual work? Are the letters the deficiencies (desires) that are revealed on the background of the white light?
Answer: It is impossible to discover one without the other. We are the creatures, and the Creator is the force of bestowal. We don’t understand His feelings and attainments since we are built completely differently. The only thing that we are able to attain is the preference of light within the darkness. So we comprehend reality only on the contrast between light and darkness, between bestowal and reception.
A letter is a symbol. It is possible to look at it as black lines on a white background, and it is possible to see the white light that has something missing. In both ways it will be the same letter, but from different points of view: from the side of the Light or from the side of the Kli, the desire.
It all depends on how you understand deficiency. It could be that your deficiency is perceived within the Kli and you are waiting for a more pleasant feeling in order to receive fulfillment for yourself? Or it could be that your deficiency is felt in relation to the Light: When will I be able to bestow and be included within the Light? This means that I am waiting for the Kli to be included within the Light and not that the Light will enter the Kli.
The work is always possible from two directions. Everything depends on how you consider adhesion to the Creator: Is the Creator included in the creature or is the creature included in the Creator?
The Creator joins the creature in concealment since after all, He is always within him, directs him, and loves him. But He gives us an opening, a small deficiency, so that we will move towards Him and yearn to adhere to Him.
The measure of adhesion is the “letter,” the black lines on a white background that show the extent to which I am adhered to the Creator. On one hand, the letter, so to speak, is missing the white light. But on the other hand, I cover the white light myself.
I am now in the white light, but I am detached from it; however, I add to it my letter. And because it is black, I succeed in writing something from myself on the white. Thus, even if the letter is black, in any case, it expresses the extent of my adhesion to white.
The letters clarify how much the creature is similar to the Creator. And despite that the white light, as it were, appears to have some kind of deficiency—that is my addition to it.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/10/12, The Zohar