Baal HaSulam, “Exile and Redemption”: … a far more rapid development than the other nations has come to us. And because the members of the nation developed so, there was always the necessity to go forward and be extremely meticulous with all the Mitzvot of the Torah. And because they would not do it, but wished to include their narrow selfishness, meaning the Lo Lishma, this developed the ruin of the First Temple, since they wished to extol wealth and power above justice, as other nations.
But because the Torah prohibits it, they denied the Torah and the prophecy and adopted the manners of the neighbors so they could enjoy life as much as selfishness demanded of them. And because they did that, the powers of the nation disintegrated: some followed the kings and the selfish officers, and some followed the prophets. And that separation continued until the ruin.
During the period of the Temples, the people of Israel experienced spiritual blossoming, attaining the entire reality of the universe. However, the split did not take long. If one part of the nation wanted to keep the straight path to attainment of the upper force, the other part wanted to use at least a bit of attainment for the needs of material life.
Life was very difficult in those days and people were forced to work hard to earn their keep. Besides that, wars sometimes took lives, sometimes several thousand lives a day.
As a consequence, it was a delicate moment for people to decide every time whether it were possible to use the spiritual forces that were available. It was not easy and that is why we should not falsely accuse all those who went astray. People, then, were not on our stage, and they faced severe internal situations with the hardest problems, which were according to their knowledge and thus aligned and balanced them to make free choice.
They were unable to resist, and in principle, it was not so much their fault as the general program of creation in which the inherent destruction of the Temple, and the four exiles, the final complete redemption, the beginning of which we now are experiencing. The program is predetermined. The end of the action is provided in the original plan and Kabbalists have known about it since ancient times.
However, on the other hand, we do not succumb to fatalism.
On the whole, we need to treat the descriptions of the events that occurred at that time carefully. We should not superficially divide people into right and wrong, good and bad. I repeat, we are talking about people who had spiritual attainment and received the burdening of the heart of the corresponding force.
At the beginning of the process, everything happens at the level of the First Temple, when the Light of Hochma was revealed in the community of the people. It would seem that if the Creator has been revealed, what more? Where will the ungodly come from in this state? Yet, one potential corresponds to the other, and we always balance on the point of the freedom of will.
Baal HaSulam writes about “the kings and the selfish officers.” In those days, an officer was not just a member of the nobility or a high-ranking commander, but a leader managing people with his spirit, that is, spiritual attainment, not to mention the king.
In short, today we do not understand those contradictions, and the most important thing for us is not to despise the “fallen” who seem like villains to us.
Anyway, the overall program leads to the complete deliverance of the entire world, but first it applies to its small part that Abraham led out from Babylon. Therefore, even if the people of Israel had made huge, heroic, incredible efforts, the Temple still would have been destroyed. The signs of this began to appear seventy years before the collapse. It was impossible to stop the process because the program of development must be implemented.
At the same time, we must make every effort in the struggle for bestowal, counteracting the division and lack of unity. One does not negate the other. Everything must be directed at bestowal. Not one little thing can be used for one’s own benefit.
In the days of the Temple, it was not about luxury on the current level of well-being, but about allowing people to slightly ease the hard living conditions, that is, bringing some drop of self-love into the altruistic aspiration, to add purely symbolic and seemingly deserved “dessert” to the minimal “diet.”
However, this drop spoils everything and disturbs the general course. As a result, it no longer leads directly to the Creator, but diverts to the side, even if just a little, but the result is failure.
In the Second Temple, it was even more conspicuous, since the beginning of the separation was publicly displayed by unvirtuous disciples, headed by Tzadok and Bytos.
The calculation should be updated constantly and become more accurate. Otherwise, we lose our way, looking for a foothold in the external environment and presenting it to defeat our opponents who want to keep the old, original way. Thus, Israel was captured by the Roman Empire because some of the people agreed to descend into egoism and take a fraction for themselves. However, there is no part for oneself in altruism, and even the basics we get only in order to live in pure bestowal.
Today, the nation is far from these calculations. Who sincerely speaks of love and bestowal, unity and support, brotherhood and mutual guarantee today? On the contrary, a man is proud of his superiority over others and boasts of his ability to trample on others. The main thing is to be strong. The power of the fist, the power of the official, is what reigns over people today.
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 8/2/13, Writings of Baal HaSulam