Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot:” Indeed, if we set our hearts to answer but one very famous question, I am certain that all these questions and doubts will vanish from the horizon, and you will look unto their place to find them gone. This indignant question is a question that the whole world asks, namely, “What is the meaning of my life?” In other words, these numbered years of our life that cost us so heavily, and the numerous pains and torments that we suffer for them, to complete them to the fullest, who is it who enjoys them? Or even more precisely, whom do I delight?
Humanity is suffering, everyone is suffering; this whole life is an ongoing suffering. Only sometimes are we allowed to rest for several years, but the rest of the time we have to carry on an endless war of survival—this is the life that nature has designated for us. So what is life about? Does it really have to be that way? Can we make it better? So far we haven’t found a way to make our life better and happier. Baal HaSulam isn’t talking about a perfect eternal life above this corporeal life, or about the Creator and the world of Ein Sof (Infinity). In the meantime he is referring to the changes in our ordinary life in this world and how we can improve it.
He doesn’t start by lofty ideas, but rather from the simplest thing: Do we all suffer? Yes we do! Do you want to suffer less? Yes, we do! The wisdom of Kabbalah doesn’t steal your Torah and the joy of life from you; it doesn’t cut you off from life and doesn’t interfere with your corporeal actions; it only wants to add a bit a joy to your life, some taste, so that you will feel better! It’s a very gentle approach. Baal HaSulam identifies with human suffering and explains that it is possible to bring more joy to our lives.
After all, all our life is an eternal escape from suffering and today is the same as yesterday. But life can be happy, full, and good for you and for your environment, living in mutual concern for one another, feeling completely secure. Otherwise we sentence ourselves to an existence that is worse than an animal’s. After all, the greater our desires, the emptier we feel life and the more we suffer.
No one enjoys the life we are living and no one delights others, so it turns out that we suffer both ways. We simply cannot fill anyone because of our egoistic nature and cannot receive anything from anyone. So everyone is in mutual conflict and in an eternal struggle, making this life hard and terrible. Our egoistic nature destroys our life, making it a difficult experience. For example, the world we live in today with all the technological advancement could be paradise, but instead we have made it into a true hell.
We could live in a happy family in a prosperous society, free of any troubles, having everything that we need: health, security, a respectable job, freedom. Everyone could fill himself the moment he wanted to, working several hours a day and spending the rest of the time on some hobby. However, instead we kill ourselves at work, destroying the environment and the last resources we have left. Our egoistic nature doesn’t let us enjoy nor delight others, and eventually makes everything sink into darkness, bringing us to a dead end.
All we can do is hope that this crisis will teach us as gently as possible and will force humanity to recognize its egoistic nature, with which we can no longer exist. We will not survive if we don’t change our nature, but it’s impossible to change it just like that—it can only be done with the help of the wisdom of Kabbalah. Until a person reaches this conclusion, he will have to suffer much more.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 11/11/12, Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot