Midrash Sefer, “After the Death of,” “The Holy Work on Yom Kippur”: At the time of the Second Temple most of the great priests would die within a year after Yom Kippur.
In order to be worthy of entering the Holy of Holies, the great priest had to purify himself first by detaching himself from all the corporeal desires.
Most of the great priests who served at the Temple bought their position by bribery. They could never attain the spiritual level that was required in order to enter the Holy of Holies and so the encounter with the Godly revelation that took place there was deadly for them.
The descent that took place during the time of the Second Temple is what we call the shattering of the vessels.
The presence of the Upper Light, of the attribute of love and bestowal, came in contact with the attribute of receiving for one’s egoistic self (although there cannot be any contact) and then the destruction occurred. The Light disappeared and the desire that wanted the Light, wanted it egoistically (even subconsciously), couldn’t face it and the great priest would die. They used to pull him out of the Holy of Holies with a rope that was tied to his foot since others were forbidden to enter the Holy of Holies.
But he didn’t care, as long as he could taste that sweetness for a moment. A person cannot resist the pleasure of the Light because without it his life is worthless! He opens his mouth and receives the drop of poison, which is in fact, a drop of Light. But for him, for the egoist, it is a drop of poison and he dies.
This also happens to us in our world when a person sacrifices his life for a drop of pleasure. Even if he dies, he just wants to feel the pleasure. This is how we are made, with a heart and a brain, pleasure and a mind. If the pleasure is greater than the mind, the mind doesn’t work and a person simply loses his sanity.
Therefore, the great priest couldn’t restrain himself from attaining the pleasure and so he died. If he had bought his position for money and did not attain through his own exertion, it means that he lacked a Masach (screen), the instrument for receiving the Light in order to bestow. If he had exerted himself instead of paying for his position, he would have performed his spiritual work and would have ascended to that level and connected to the Upper Light.
Now, after the destruction of the Second Temple, when we had fallen all the way down to our world, there can only be one way upward. If you are not worthy of ascending to the next level, you will not attain it.
However, during the time of the First and Second Temples, it was possible for a person to touch the Light since the descent occurred from the top down. In our case, on the other hand, during the ascent from the bottom up, it is forbidden to ascend to the upper level unless we are ready for it.
Therefore today the wisdom of Kabbalah can be revealed to anyone. In any case, people will not know anything until they reach spiritual attainment.
From KabTV’s “Secrets of the Eternal Book” 3/12/14