The Babylonian Talmud, Treatise Taanit 7: He who engages in the Torah for its sake, the Torah becomes the potion of life for him, and he who engages in the Torah not for its sake, it becomes the potion of death for him.
If there is such great danger concealed in the Torah, perhaps it’s better not to engage in it? After all, if you study correctly, you “rise to heaven,” and if you don’t, “you sink into the ground,” into the abyss.
The problem is that if you don’t study correctly, the Light concealed in the Torah puts you into states that are opposite from the truth, but you don’t even notice that. The Torah doesn’t bring you death, but rather “the potion of death,” when you don’t feel that you are dead. You can study the Torah day and night, memorize page after page by heart, and at the same time be dead, meaning not understand that this is totally opposite from the goal for which the Torah was given.
The Torah was given to us so that we will reach the love of others. It says: “I created the evil inclination, and I created the Torah as a spice because the Light in it reforms.” What does it mean that it reforms? It’s the “great law of the Torah”—”love thy friend as thyself,” or in other words, the general goal of everything that we do according to the Torah.
In every precept we perform, in every detail, we must advance towards the love of others. Only through the love of others will we reach the final goal, the love of the Creator and adhesion with Him, according to the equivalence of form between a person and the Creator.
Therefore, before the study, we have to prepare ourselves and keep all the necessary conditions so that the study of the Torah will bring us the desired goal: adhesion, that is, the correction of our intentions from egoistic to altruistic. This work is clarified only in the group, where we can check ourselves practically.
Each time we will discover hate among us and will get a chance to rise above it towards love. To do that, we need to organize ourselves correctly: We want to connect in order to reach adhesion and to discover the Creator in it, thereby bringing Him contentment. It’s possible to discover the Creator only in our collective vessel of bestowal. It’s necessary that we prepare ourselves for the lesson in this way so that we’ll approach the study correctly.
Question: If the potion of death doesn’t let me feel that I am dead, does the potion of life enable me to feel death?
Answer: I feel that I am living from the “potion.” It isn’t an ordinary existence anymore. In the intention of in order to bestow, above my nature, I attain life. The potion has the effect of making me lie to my egoistic desire and not to myself. On the other hand, the potion of death drowns me in the lie, which I don’t notice, and then I see myself as “righteous,” although I haven’t even entered the rank of “wicked.”
Question: How can the wisdom of Kabbalah save a person from the potion of death?
Answer: It can do it by the Light that Reforms. If you arrange all the conditions for yourself correctly, if you enter the group and disseminate, which is an inseparable part of the preparation these days, and if you participate in everything that the group experiences in order to reveal the connection, then you are preparing correctly for the study, and your intention during the study is not to read yet another paragraph, but to receive the Light that Reforms. It isn’t by chance that Baal HaSulam wrote in “The Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot,” Item 18: “…that while practicing Torah, they did not set their minds and hearts to draw the Light in the Torah….”
Everything is solved by the preparation. The right study is the study that you have prepared yourself for correctly. Then you read the text correctly, with the right intention, in the right group, with all the necessary conditions. And what do you get from the study? You get the chance to work and to rise: the feeling of hate and rejection of the friends….
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/13/2012, “Introduction to TES”