Question: Why did Kabbalists prevent the spread of ordinary science among the Israeli nation?
Answer: Kabbalists did not prevent the spread of science, it simply developed to the extent that it was necessary. After all, before the destruction of the Temple the whole nation engaged in spiritual attainment in absolute devotion. Why should they have studied insects in the jungle or electricity?
External science explores how we should work with different expressions of the Light in this world on the lowest level. It is useless if I can work directly with the Creator, with the same phenomena on a higher level. There I am actually incorporated in the actions and work with the phenomenon, and that is a huge difference.
Compared to this sublime work, external science is simply a game in a kids’ sandbox. This is the reason that the nation of Israel did not engage in science beyond what was necessary for building or in order to satisfy the needs of the body. What is the point in dealing with it any more than that?
There were people who knew how to process leather, how to prepare food, and how to build houses, how to do anything that was a basic necessity, but not more than that: for a living, for the family, for the next generation. It was impossible to live without it and so they had to provide those needs.
But money, respect, and knowledge are human desires that lead to a breach in society and were therefore kept on a minimal level. It was only after the Israeli nation was exiled that they gradually began to descend lower and lower.
They couldn’t engage in anything else when they were in exile and so they engaged in anything that was possible, especially in commerce and in developing the banking system since they could engage in that everywhere and it gave them a sense of security. They could secure their future this way.
Thanks to the fact that the Jews dispersed all over Europe and the Middle East, they could establish a network similar to the modern integral network in commerce, industry and finance. They began to build it more than 2000 years ago. If a Jew from Spain reached Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, or the countries in northern Europe he could always find Jews there with whom he had a common language; he could find a place to live, to understand their lives and they could understand him.
This was not the case among other nations. There were only small villages in Europe which were so far away from one another. On the other hand, it was easy for the Jews to build such systems because they felt that they belonged to one nation, to one Creator; they studied from the same books and read the same prayers. Moreover, they never knew what the future would bring. If you are a person that can be counted on because you fear the Creator, I can leave a sum of money that I have saved for times of trouble. If something should happen, I can always come to you and you will give me back what is mine.
This is how the systems of commerce and industry developed. There was no need for external sciences because they had their own system. Books were transferred from place to place. It was a very strong network. This is actually how humanity began to wake up and advance from the age of barbarism.
From the 3rd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 3/11/14, Writings of Baal HaSulam