Baal HaSulam, “The Secret of Gestation is Birth”: And this is the sign that a creature is worthy of the Light of life, since he has the power to at least perform a contraction for some reason, since then the Light of life appears and performs the expansion and the first movement of life is created. Therefore this movement does not stop and the creature becomes alive and moving.
This first movement is called a soul, which means the spirit of life one breathes, as it says: “And He will pass into his nostrils the breath of life.”
But the level of still nature, the vegetative and the animate do not have the power to perform an inner contraction in any way. Therefore, the Light of life cannot be dressed in them and lead to an expansion.
He gave a law that cannot be broken, that without the contractions and the expansion the vessel will not be able to expand beyond its limits. Therefore the still level of nature, the vegetative and the animate are doomed to eternal death.
The speaking is indeed totally capable of life, but he is born dead, since he needs a cause and a factor to operate on it, and to bring about the first contraction at least, which is caused by the cold air that comes from the Torah and good deeds.
Humanity is divided into levels: the still, the vegetative, the animate, and the speaking, according to the roots of the souls in Malchut of Ein Sof (Infinity), according the four levels of the depth of their desire from the first phase to the fourth. Only if the fourth and last phase awakens in a person, is it a sign that he can engage in spiritual work actively and independently.
Other people who have a desire on the level of the still nature, the vegetative, and the animate, cannot be awakened to work independently. They are carried by the current according to their level.
The level of the speaking in a person is called the point in the heart. But even if a person is already born with a point in the heart and after his previous lives is already prepared for spiritual work, it doesn’t mean that he can be awakened by himself yet. He needs some external factor that will force him to contract as a result of pressures, despair, and different unpleasant events that make a person feel that he is under pressure and threats. These pressures force him to think about how he can transcend his nature.
So a group of Kabbalists goes through different unpleasant states. The people who have already been prepared are incorporated in the group and want to advance. They don’t run away from the problems and don’t just watch things from the side but actively participate in the group’s life. They feel a cold wind as a result of the unpleasant events and the fears that force them to contract.
Wind is not a still state. It takes a person out of the level of the still nature he is on, to the vegetative level. The wind itself is air, but its source is Bina, the soul that fills it. Thus a person tastes what air is for the first time, what the feeling on the level of Ruach is.
This unpleasant event forces the cold wind into a person, which makes him contract. But by overcoming the contraction he expands himself, which means that he performs the opposite action. He wants to receive the cold air without freezing and contracting with fear, but rather expanding in Hassadim and bestowal. In order to do that he has to rise above this state by the force of bestowal in adhesion with the Creator and then for the first time he can perform a spiritual breath. The wind has been put into him by force, and he already exhales it and is ready for the new action.
After several such actions that could be called the plagues of Egypt, a person begins to “breathe” independently. He may even be ready to “contract” by himself, which is called “I awaken the dawn and it isn’t the dawn that awakens me.” This means that he doesn’t wait for an external reason, but begins to breathe on his own. Thus he becomes a living soul (Nefesh Haya).
From the Preparation to the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/11/13