Question: Some time after the expulsion of Jews from Spain, spiritual movements began to flourish in Safed, and Kabbalistic knowledge among the masses began to spread.
But then the rapid dissemination of the new movement caused a response and resistance. Spiritual teachers of the traditional Lithuanian school began to oppose the spread of this knowledge with boycotts, slander to authorities, and physical extermination.
How does one explain this? Why did the teaching of the Ari, which should have already been embodied in humanity, suddenly fail and the fall began again?
Answer: This is not a failure, but a natural development of the method of correction, which cannot go by only one line. It goes precisely by two lines and is realized between them, in the third one.
As a result, it turned out that the Kabbalah of the Baal Shem Tov is the same Kabbalah of the Ari, which was understood by the masses. He organized a Cheder, that is, a place for classes. He recruited talented young people into his group, completely regardless of their status. And then large groups of students and leaders of Hasidic movements were formed from his students. They were especially popular among the Jewish population of Ukraine, Belarus, and Eastern Europe where their own schools were organized.
But at the same time, another school, which was founded by the Vilna Gaon appeared. He believed that people should be taught gradually, and only those who had achieved great knowledge in the Talmud, in a simple study of the Torah.
In his opinion, studying Kabbalah should be spread not among ordinary people, but among the elite to whom the spiritual worlds and other predestinations of humanity can be explained only after they had seriously mastered the “dry” Torah.
Question: Kabbalah speaks of love for one’s neighbor in its simplest, earthly form. What could be the danger of studying Kabbalah?
Answer: The fact is that when you simply talk about love for your neighbor, by that you let a person think that if he treats others correctly, then nothing else is needed. Therefore, there is some lightheadedness in the understanding of “love for one’s neighbor.”
This is how a movement was formed in Hasidism that if you love another person and seem to treat him correctly, then this is enough. Nothing more is needed, and you are already fulfilling your predestination.
And the Vilna Gaon claimed: “No, it is necessary to seriously study the Torah, the Babylonian Talmud, and carefully keep all the laws. Only after that one can study Kabbalah.”
Therefore, in the introduction to his great work, The Study of the Ten Sefirot, Baal HaSulam pays much attention to this. At the very beginning, he asks the question: “Is it really necessary to fully know all the great laws of fulfilling the Torah in our world and only after that study Kabbalah?
“Or is it enough to do it in parallel? Or even, perhaps, is it not at all necessary to know and obey all the laws so scrupulously? Because the Creator requires us to correct our hearts more than to fill our heads with all kinds of laws.”
So here we are in a state of great ideological contradiction. And it is very serious because it speaks of the method of the soul’s correction. Should it be taught to children from the age of thirteen or even earlier? Or maybe, it can be explained to women as well? Or only to great experts on the Babylonian Talmud?
This ideological contradiction was a necessary process and was brewing by itself.
From KabTV’s “Systematic Analysis of the Development of the People of Israel” 8/5/19