Baal HaSulam, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 2: In order to clear all that up, we need to make some preliminary inquiries. And not, God forbid, where it is forbidden, in the Creator’s essence, of which we have no thought or perception whatsoever, and thus have no thought or utterance of Him, but where the inquiry is a Mitzva (commandment/good deed), the inquiry of His deeds. It is as the Torah commands us: “Know thou the God of thy father and serve Him,” and as it says in the poem of unification, “By your actions we know you.”
At the beginning of the “Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Baal HaSulam raises five major questions that a person faces on his way to spirituality, and then he adds preliminary inquiries to them that are meant “to clean things up.” After all, my questions are accompanied by confusion and are surrounded by trash and “weeds” that prevent my understanding, clear examination, arrangement of everything in its place, and the ability to differentiate things.
It is as if I search in a dirty messy place, and so the first thing I must do is clean it up and find out what it is exactly that I am looking for, where exactly, why, and according to which rules. This means that there are many additional conditions that I have to discover in order to clarify my questions and to find the answers and filling for them.
So we first get rid of everything that is redundant; we get rid of it simply, and have no contact with the Creator while we search. The Giver remains up there out of reach because He is not dressed in the matter of our desire so we cannot study Him. From the “Preface to The Book of Zohar” we know that we can study and investigate only matter and form dressed in matter; if we can dress our matter with the form of giving, then from it—which means from the Creator’s actions “by Your actions we know you”—we can study Him.
It is about the actions that He performs on me by having created me. From that moment on, I begin to work on the inner changes, having connected to Him, until I attain the whole process, until the end of my correction. Thus I get to know Him better, and He operates on me more and more. At the end of my correction, I reach the exact same form He has and the upper is completely dressed in me.
Thus, “by Your actions we know You,” I don’t know Him but His image that is dressed in me by his actions. This is the origin of the word “Bore – Creator,” which means “Bo-reh – come and see.”
We solve many problems this way: We immediately stop “floating in the clouds” in an attempt to study the upper and “come down to the ground,” to the basis of everything. It is because the main thing for us is to discover the Creator.
All our other actions are arranged around that, our whole life, all of reality. All this is only so that the created being will discover the Creator.
So we have to remember that we are innately limited by our very form. Only by the Creator’s actions can we know Him, as it says: “by Your actions we know You.” This approach solves many philosophical problems, and besides, it sets me in the right direction showing me that it is I who needs to change and not the Creator. I have to act in order to discover His actions; all the beginnings are in me. I am the changing element in the system. It is the most important thing.
We are not speaking about Atzmuto, about Ein Sof (Infinity), about eternity, about wholeness, about the absolute. It is only I who discovers the Creator according to the changes in me; it clears things up from the confusion and the usual trash and brings us closer to the right implementation.
Question: Why do we attain the Creator by His actions, as it says: “We know You by Your actions?”
Answer: If you tell me about your mother, I will probably hear about what a great cook she is and how she takes care of you. You are telling me about her actions but not actually about her! Try to take the actions out of the story and you will see that it is impossible.
Question: So what are the Creator’s actions?
Answer: You are His action. It is His deed; this is how we are made, unable to attain anything except for His actions. It is only His actions and not their essence that we see and it is only about His actions that we speak.
From the 4th part of Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/27/13, “Introduction to The Book of Zohar“