Baal HaSulam, “The Teaching of The Kabbalah and Its Essence”: Indeed, there is a common opinion that the prime goal of religion and the Torah is only the cleansing of actions, that all that is desired concerns observing the physical Mitzvot (commandments), without any additions or anything that should result from it. Had that been so, those who say that studying the revealed and practical actions alone is sufficient would be right.
Yet, this is not the case. Our sages have already said, “Why should the Creator mind if one slaughters at the throat or at the back of the neck? After all, the Mitzvot were only given to cleanse people.” Thus, there is a purpose beyond the observance of the actions, and the actions are merely preparations for this purpose. Hence, clearly, if the actions are not arranged for the desired goal, it is as if nothing exists. And it is also written in The Zohar: “A Mitzva (commandment) without an aim is like a body without a soul.” Hence, the aim, too, should accompany the act.
The physical actions convey nothing on their own. Clearly a person can do them, but he may not be aware of with what motives. Then what? What is achieved by these actions?—That is what’s most important. It is called an intention.
Question: It is written in The Book of Zohar: “A commandment without an intention is like a body without a soul.” What does this mean?
Answer: If any physical action is performed without the correct intention of uniting for the purpose of revealing the Creator, then this action is dead, like a body without a soul.
Question: Baal HaSulam writes that there are only two laws or two commandments: reception and bestowal. It follows that there is an interaction in human society that consists of two actions: either I receive or bestow. They have to be properly balanced. How should we understand this? What does properly balanced mean?
Answer: It is quite easy to balance: bestowal for the sake of bestowal is the quality of Bina and reception for the sake of bestowal is the quality of Keter.
Question: How can we know how much to receive from society and how much to give to it?
Answer: Do it so that it would be solely for the benefit of the society, for the sake of bringing it to the similarity with the Creator.
Question: And who decides that?
Answer: You decide. You have to integrate yourself into society in order to absorb all of its desires and raise them to the Creator. You have to become an intermediary link, a channel of connection between the society and the Creator.
Question: Is it only possible when the Creator reveals Himself to a person?
Answer: How else can you interact with the society? Only in order to help it.
From the Kabbalah Lesson in Russian 3/18/18