Question: Why can studying the Torah incorrectly be harmful, and even “the potion of death?”
Answer: The incorrect study of the Torah is the wrong use of the system that was designed to perform a gradual correction of the desire to receive. Instead, it draws the part that is meant to be corrected away from correction. Thus, it prolongs the way and fills it with sufferings, which brings the Creator, who loves us, a great deal of sorrow. Thus, this path is undesirable.
From the point of view of a person’s ego, this path is also undesirable since it brings about sufferings. But if we speak about the form of bestowal and value it with regard to the Creator, we have to see how much He suffers.
If we didn’t participate in the system of correction, but were corrected by it unconsciously, instinctively, like the still, vegetative, and animate nature, then there would not be reward and punishment for us. The system wouldn’t change with regard to us, but would push us in one direction by its rigid, absolute laws, like a train moving on a track.
But because a person is on a level that he himself participates in this process, he has to become more sensitive to the influence of the system on him. So he learns to understand this system and grows feelings towards it, which means towards the Creator who is on the other side of the system. “From Your actions we shall know You” and we connect to Him.
It is impossible to attain any discernment this way, not even the smallest one, if you don’t go incorrectly at first. The point is only that a person should constantly try incorrectly only in potential but not in practice.
It is said: “There isn’t a righteous in the land who did good and didn’t sin.” So the mistakes have already been prepared for me every step of the way, and I must sin. But I prepare myself, try, and am careful and afraid to sin, which means that I am afraid to break away from the feeling of “there is none else besides Him” who is “the good and the benevolent.” I am afraid that I will stop yearning for love and bestowal, that I won’t be able to rise above my desires, above my instinctive thoughts, which means above my animate level.
I need self-clarification, self-recognition; I constantly ride my donkey (hamor), my egoistic desire (homer) (which has the same root in Hebrew), and I compare what I feel and what the donkey thinks to what I would like to feel and how I would like to think. Thus I discover my donkey together with the human in me.
“God shall save man and beast,” and thus I advance. My mistakes bring me to my successes and help me advance. My mistakes and successes are revealed in me as the left and right lines. In this case, they are both legitimate and they complement one another correctly, since without mistakes, I wouldn’t discover new discernments and wouldn’t understand where I am.
I have to sin and to do Mitzvot (commandments), since there cannot be one without the other; everything begins from the recognition of evil. But it could be better if I discovered this evil in the Light. The Light comes and helps me see the dark, and not the darkness revealed first when I don’t understand that it is darkness and by a long path of suffering advance towards the Light.
This is why Kabbalists and the Torah give us advice as to how we should prepare ourselves for the right revelation of the sins, for the revelation of evil.
From the 1st part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 12/24/12, “The Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot”