Entries in the 'Zohar' Category

“What Are Some Basic Understandings You Should Have Before Reading The Zohar?” (Quora)

Dr. Michael LaitmanMichael Laitman, On Quora: What are some basic understandings you should have before reading the Zohar?

Kabbalist Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), who wrote the Sulam (Ladder) commentary to The Zohar, wrote four introductions to The Zohar in order to provide us with a sturdy foundation for approaching the book.

Without thoroughly understanding the concepts that Baal HaSulam describes in these introductions, it is impossible to reach an accurate understanding of The Zohar, as well as approach its reading effectively to advance toward its attainment.

The Zohar describes the spiritual world, i.e., the desires, intentions and actions of the created being when in contact with the Creator.

Since we exist in an opposite corporeal reality, we understand nothing about the spiritual world.

We are born and raised in an egoistic human nature, which aims to benefit itself alone, with no consideration of others.

Thus, when we read The Zohar with no prior preparation, it appears as if it is written in a foreign language (even if we read it in our native tongue), with strange fables and other depictions that seem to be codified.

No matter how much we try to make connections with what we read in The Zohar, if we have no perception and sensation of the spiritual world, through an opposite giving sense to our inborn receptive senses, then we have no access to understand and feel what The Zohar truly describes.

In addition, both The Zohar itself and various Kabbalists discuss the notion of The Zohar’s revelation in our times, that specifically in our era, more and more people will feel a need for what The Zohar contains.

If our egoistic nature of receiving for self-benefit alone was replaced with a spiritual one of love and bestowal, we would immediately understand what The Zohar describes. Reading The Zohar with such an inclination would then reveal more and more layers of the spiritual world to us.

However, is there anything we can get from The Zohar while we lack the spiritual nature, locked in the human ego?

What we can get is called “Segula,” a special kind of remedy. Reading the book, not understanding a single word, attracts forces from the spiritual world it describes. If we approach reading The Zohar with the intention to transform our nature—from egoistic to altruistic, corporeal to spiritual—then the book serves to illuminate upon us a special light called “Ohr Makif” (“surrounding light”), which acts on us to ignite that transformation.

The spiritual forces from the reading work on us, gradually leading us to the revelation of the spiritual world, to access the quality of love and bestowal that fills reality.

Since The Zohar was written by a group who attained the highest degrees of attainment of the spiritual world, and who shared a nature of love and bestowal, then only by attaining a similar nature can we understand and feel what The Zohar depicts.

Two Trends In The Life Of The Jewish Diaspora, Part 4

laitman_961.2Time of The Book Of Zohar

Question: In Spain, several hundred years before the exile of the Jews from there, The Book of Zohar was revealed, a book about the correction of all mankind, about the passing of the method of connection to the world.

Does the revelation of this book suggest that the sages had some opportunity to use this methodology?

Answer: No, there were no great Kabbalists in those days who could use The Book of Zohar to make a spiritual revolution in the Jewish people.

It was revealed in the 7th century and slowly began to spread, but there were a lot of problems with this. The vast majority of Jews and spiritual leaders of the Jewish people did not want it to be revealed because it caused a great deal of confusion in the minds and souls of Jews. In general The Book of Zohar did more harm than good at that time.

But gradually it’s time arrived. This happened in the 16th century in the time of the ARI.

Four hundred years have passed since the revelation of The Book of Zohar. During this time, the Jews have caught up a little. They had already been scattered in different countries and had experienced many problems. They were facing the question of why they were suffering, and so their attitude to The Book of Zohar, to correction, to the achievement of some goal, became completely different.

Moreover, great Kabbalists such as the ARI, Ramchal, and Moshe Cordovero appeared. This was the heyday of medieval Kabbalah in Safed [Israel].

Society was ready for it. It saw how much suffering falls onto each generation, how they constantly are subjected to exile, and so large masses of people began to welcome Kabbalah.

From the KabTV’s “System Analysis of the Development of the People of Israel,” 7/29/19

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“Unlocking The Ancient Book Of Zohar To Understand Today’s Anti-Semitism” (Times Of Israel)

The Times of Israel published my new article “Unlocking the Ancient Book of Zohar to Understand Today’s Anti-Semitism

Certain things do not vanish over time. They just change their shape, motion and means to penetrate people’s minds. Prejudice against Jews is one of those cases. With the surge in new means of communication, prejudice has also adopted new ways to spread. But actual answers to the eternal dilemma of how to eradicate anti-Semitism will be found by looking back to ancient scriptures.

The light of The Zohar is like a gate to a truer reality that is currently hidden from our view. Let’s look at anti-Semitism afresh in this new light that The Zohar sheds.

If 200 years ago, you would have arrived at some forsaken Siberian village, and declared that you were Jewish, the locals would have reacted in astonishment, “We do not believe you!” And if you were to ask why, they would have answered, “It’s because you have no horns on your head.” As primitive as that sounds, blood libels against Jews and grotesque images of greedy merchants with hooked noses are still prevalent in social media and cultural manifestations in American and European societies to this day.

Furthermore, belief in the myth that Jews killed Jesus and the misconception of Jewish double-loyalty continues with disturbing frequency. Anti-Semitism stands as ugly and forceful as ever. It has always existed, and the question is only to what extent it floats to the surface or remains submerged.

It should be declared straightaway: the struggle against anti-Semitic stereotypes will be fruitless. The hatred toward the Jewish people will only strengthen because it has spiritual roots.

The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that the source of this phenomenon exists within the structure of the spiritual world itself, which is divided into what Kabbalah terms “Rosh” (“head”) and “Guf” (“body”), i.e., “Israel” and the” nations of the world.” This allegorical thought is also sometimes expressed as the “heart” and the “bodily organs” that dangle and manifest themselves in our material world.

According to the seminal ancient book in Kabbalah, The Book of Zohar, which explains the secrets of the Torah: “Israel is the heart of the whole world, just as the organs of the body could not exist in the world even for a moment without the heart, so all the nations cannot exist in the world without Israel.”

Just as the role of the heart in the human body is to provide the power to pump blood to all the organs, so the role of Israel is to provide humanity with the power to connect, to supply spiritual abundance to the nations of the world. In other words, Israel is to be “light unto the nations.”

The people of Israel and the nations of the world are not merely groupings of people on the face of the earth. The wisdom of Kabbalah explains that the terms refer to the two forces that act within each and every person, forces that are called “Israel” and “the nations of the world.”

The desires within us that are sensitive to the force of connection among people are called “Israel,” and the opposite desires we possess that demand to receive and enjoy the abundance that flows from such connection without consideration of others are called “nations of the world.” Both forces reside and interact within a person and within humanity as a whole. When one force rises, the other falls, and vice versa. Thus, the flames of hatred toward the Jewish people can be lowered, or alternatively, strengthened according to the balance between these desires.

How can we reinforce the “Israel” within us over the “nations of the world”? How can we increase our sensitivity toward connection over our other desires for self-indulgence at the expense of others?

We can achieve it through the study of Kabbalah—the method of connection—and particularly, The Book of Zohar. The Zohar has a great positive influence on us even if we are unable to grasp its full dimensions and benefit. Our sages elucidated the process as follows:

“To explain how The Zohar purifies the soul even when the reader doesn’t understand what he says, we have the example of he who enters a perfume store, even if he doesn’t buy any perfume, when he leaves the store, he has the smell attached to him.” (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Ephraim of Sadilkov)

The light of The Zohar is like a gate to the true reality that at present is hidden from our senses. It has tremendous power, but for us to be able to use its force of revelation efficiently, we need to read the stories narrated in The Zohar as a practical guide to discover a deeper reality through unity beyond the boundaries of the material world.

How does this process work?

When we aspire for unity, we awaken the force of connection among us, and sharpen our sensitivity to positive relations between us based on rapport, elevating “Israel” within us and bestowing abundance to the world. In such a state, no one in the world would deal anymore with anti-Semitic depictions or prejudice against Jews, but instead with the warm and considerate heart that should depict the Jewish people and its great contribution to the world’s betterment.

The Meaning Of Kabbalistic Books, Part 9

Laitman_165Five Rules for Studying The Book of Zohar

Question: To correctly approach the study of The Book of Zohar, several postulates can be distinguished. The first rule is called “the heart understands” (“a-lev mevin“). That is, The Book of Zohar is studied by the heart. What does this mean?

Answer: By desire. You have to change your desires. Instead of the desire to receive, strive for the desire to bestow, instead of the desire to distance yourself, push away, to the desire to attract and love.

Remark: The second rule: “man is a small world.” That is, The Book of Zohar includes many concepts that are familiar to us from the material world, although in fact, the same as in the Torah, it speaks of the internal states experienced by man.

My Comment: Yes, it describes the upper world, but with the words and actions of our world.

Question: Therefore, Kabbalists say that while reading The Book of Zohar, it is necessary to interpret the words written in it as an expression of all kinds of internal actions?

Answer: As actions of upper forces, not something happening in our world. In principle, you just need to do the opposite: perceive everything that The Book of Zohar describes in the quality of bestowal and love, in exiting oneself, not in the quality of reception, selfish love.

Remark: The third rule: “the light that returns to the source.” A person coming to a lesson must understand that there is a special influence in The Book of Zohar, a special force that we can draw from there.

My Comment: The Book of Zohar is studied with the intention of attracting the force that can change a person, to make an altruist out of a selfish person.

Question: So, when I come to the lesson, do I need to know what I want to change in myself?

Answer: This is why you come to the lesson. This is the very idea, power, property, purpose of The Book of Zohar.

Question: Rule Four: Before concluding the study, there must be the recognition of evil and prayer. What’s this about?

Answer: Recognition of the evil of one’s selfish nature is acquired gradually.

Prayer is a request for a force that can change me, somehow raise me above myself, and make me a useful, good, creature pleasing to the Creator. This, in general, is preparation for the correct reading of The Book of Zohar.

Question: The fifth rule: “as one man with one heart.” Kabbalists say that it is impossible to study The Book of Zohar alone, only in a group of people. Why?

Answer: Since The Book of Zohar was written in a ten, you need to study it in a ten. Because under its influence, a person draws closer to the rest, and, only in the right connection with them, begins to understand what it is talking about.

Question: Does that mean that I can’t read it at home alone, I must call someone?

Answer: You can read alone, but you won’t get any benefit from it.

Question: What does it give me that I do this surrounded by ten other people? I don’t communicate with them, we just sit and read together?

Answer: You must mean that you communicate with them, that you all connect with your hearts. Let’s say, just as you peel potatoes, you have to peel your heart from the outer shell, and everyone else too, and connect your hearts into one big heart.
From KabTV’s “Basics of Kabbalah,” 12/18/18

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Laitman_151Can The Book of Zohar relieve misfortune?

Question: It is said by the sages that the study of The Book of Zohar eliminates all misfortunes. How can a book save every person and all humanity from problems?

Answer: The Book itself does not save us from anything. I cannot buy this book and use it, as the townsfolk believe, like a talisman or some miraculous means (Segula). It doesn’t work that way.

The Book of Zohar saves us if we use it correctly, and, by studying it, we try to change ourselves in accordance with it. If we just keep it on a shelf or even put it close to our heart, nothing will change.

Question: But psychologically will it help?

Answer: Psychologically, yes.

I do not dismiss the fact that such psychological assistance is very important to a person. For a small, fragile, weak person in our world, it is very important. However, from a scientific point of view, it is of no use.
From KabTV’s “Fundamentals of Kabbalah,” 12/18/18

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laitman_250Reasons for the Appearance of The Book of Zohar

Question: The Book of Zohar is a commentary on the Torah. Why did it have to be written?

Answer: Circumstances changed.

There were stages when groups of Kabbalists who were in a state of attainment, that is, a gradual rise from the beginning of the creation of egoism to its relatively complete development, as during the Second Temple, fell. The Book of Zohar was written in the second century AD in a state when a fall had already occurred. There were no groups, no nations; there was nothing called holiness, meaning a sense of at least relative unity. Everything was destroyed, crushed, split. Therefore, a technique was needed to crown this dark period of suffering, called the exile, which should end in correction.

The Book of Zohar is intended for the period separated from its writing to our time by a two-thousand-year exile so that, starting from our time onward, we begin to implement what is written in it, meaning to correct ourselves.

In our generation, we have been awarded The Sulam Commentary on The Book of Zohar. Therefore, we can reveal Kabbalah and begin to understand what the great Kabbalists Rabbi Shimon and his students said two thousand years ago.

Question: Are you saying that without the commentary written by the last Kabbalist of the 20th century, Baal HaSulam (Yehuda Ashlag) it is impossible to understand the Zohar?

Answer: Impossible. Therefore, it appeared.
From KabTV’s “Fundamentals of Kabbalah,” 12/18/18

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Who Is The Book Of Zohar Meant For?

Laitman_065 Zohar for All, Torah, “BeHaalotcha” 58: Woe unto one who says that the Torah comes to tell literal tales and the uneducated words of such as Esau and Laban. If this is so, even today we can turn the words of an uneducated person into a law, and even nicer than theirs. And if the Torah indicates to mundane matters, even the rulers of the world have among them better things, so let us follow them and turn them into a law in the same way. However, all the words of the Torah have the uppermost meaning.

It is very difficult to explain The Book of Zohar to beginners. This is a completely closed book. Its texts seems to be literary or historical, often frightening, mystical.

When I began to study with Rabash, I was offered to study the article “Preface to the Wisdom of Kabbalah” by Baal HaSulam, which is one of the introductions to The Book of Zohar. But the entire method, the technique of spiritual work, is clearly described in it in the language of Kabbalah and not in the language of feelings.

The Book of Zohar cannot be used as a textbook, it can be used only as material for extra classes for people who are seriously studying Kabbalah.

Question: What secrets are hidden in it?

Answer: It is impossible to reveal these secrets to a person because everything will be unclear to him since he does not have a corresponding mind that must put together incomprehensible things.

The fact is that a person currently studying Kabbalah has an ordinary earthly psychology. He must work on himself until the Light begins to change him a little, and in accordance with this he will differently perceive the material being studied.

Question: Then why was The Book of Zohar written?

Answer: So that you have something to study, that you can change, and in the measure of your changes, feel how the world, which used to seem one-sided, is changing, and now you see it as integral.

Then you will perceive it completely differently: complementary, interchangeable, as one common whole. All the inanimate, vegetative, animate, and human nature will be perceived as one system.

But you will live in it. You will be unable to change something without changing everything else.

The Book of Zohar is a commentary on the Torah. In the Torah, absolutely everything concerning the way of a person and of all humanity is registered from the beginning to the end. Only the one who changes in accordance with the ascent on the spiritual steps attains what is written in it.
From the Kabbalah Lesson in Russian 8/26/18

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Rosh HaShanah

laitman_283.02A “year” is a period from the beginning of creation to its end. It is written that a man called Adam was created on the eve of the new year, on Rosh HaShanah, and before that, the whole world was created. Therefore, within a year, we need to complete all the corrections, and if we do not succeed this year, then the next one comes.

A year is a complete cycle of states necessary to correct all of our properties. Therefore, our program for the next year is to reach a final, corrected state, and for this, it is necessary simply to awaken the Creator constantly so that He gives us strength to make corrections. We should not let Him go.1

Blowing the Shofar evokes mercy, the power of the good. Prayer, Shofar—all this is meant to awaken the upper level to make corrections in us.2
From the Daily Zohar Lesson 9/11/18, Zohar for All,  “Rosh HaShanah
1 Minute 25:30
2 Minute 28:54

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My Facebook Page: “5 Tips for Reading the Book of Zohar”

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom My Facebook Page Michael Laitman 2/1/18

The Book of Zohar is a gateway to the causal level of reality, which is initially hidden from our perception. However, we need the right preparation in order to read The Zohar correctly.

So here are five rules to help you prepare for the great journey of discovery into The Zohar.

Rule #1: Do not seek intellectual knowledge

The Zohar is studied with the “heart,” that is, through your desire. Rather than mental processing of data, we have to develop a different approach: finding what needs to be tuned within us so as to perceive the hidden layer of reality.

Success depends only on how much we crave to discover and feel this reality. There is no need for prior knowledge, talent or wisdom. Only increasing the focus on your genuine desire to discover the meaning and purpose of life.

Rule #2: Interpret the words correctly

The Book of Zohar uses coded words and terms that may seem familiar to us from the physical world, such as: sea, mountains, trees, flowers, animals, people etc. It is critical to understand that all of the details, figures and events mentioned in the book do not speak of the external world around us, but only what is happening within us.
So when you read The Zohar, try to see the text as a bridge leading to your deepest desires and qualities.

Rule #3: Aim for the light

You may have heard that there’s a unique “light” that shines on a person when reading The Zohar. And that’s true. However, this isn’t some mystical or imaginary power.

The Zohar describes the higher states of perception attained by its authors. Yet, those states exist within every person in potential. So when you read about those higher states and attune your desire to attain them, those advanced states as if shine on your desire, making you more receptive to them. This is called “aiming for the light that reforms.”

Rule #4: Persist like a baby

When you study The Zohar correctly you begin to experience ascents and descents with regards to the intent with which you approach the book. It’s as if you tune in and out of the right frequency.

When that happens, remember that we are like babies with regards to the spiritual perception of reality, taking our first steps into it. Therefore, it’s only natural that we fall and rise up again until we can walk on our own.

Rule #5: Connect to your fellowmen

The Book of Zohar was written by a group of ten Kabbalists who connected their desires to sense nature’s governing force of connection between them, that is, the Creator. It was only the unity and connection between them that enabled them to perceive beyond the boundaries of the material world.

If we want to follow in their footsteps, we must try to build similar relations between us. The Zohar was born out of love, and its renewed discovery in our time will only be possible through love as well.

To learn more about The Zohar >> zoharstudy

This is a book with quotes from The Zohar that I highly recommend: LET THERE BE LIGHT

Excerpts From The Daily Kabbalah Lesson 1/9/18

Dr. Michael LaitmanFrom the 1st Part of the Lesson
Living In The Reality of “There Is None Else Besides Him”

  • All problems are caused by the revelation of the next Reshimo (spiritual gene), but they manifest in various clothings, in the form of enemies, sickness, problems with loved ones, or with random people. It depends on the form of the Reshimo that a person needs to correct.
  • In unpleasant situations, a person feels lost and wants to run away. But he needs to experience the full measure of the bitterness to the full depth of the Reshimo. Then he enters a new degree, as if “remembering” that all this was sent by the Creator to help him advance.
    He certainly would not have remembered the Creator on his own, but the suffering affects him, bringing him closer to the upper Light. Then, he begins to understand the reason for what is happening, to feel that it came from the Creator and to decide “There’s none else besides Him.” In this way, he conquers his fears and worries.
  • Problems that frighten a person are sent in order to help him adhere to the Creator; this is their only purpose. If a person understands that the Creator desires to draw him closer through these problems, then his attention shifts to the Creator and how to get closer to Him.
    It is like a small child who constantly tries to run away from his mother. But as soon as he sees something that frightens him, he clings to her and wants to hide in her arms so that she envelopes him, as if he were in her womb.
  • Frightening problems are a great correction and help sent to a person from above to distance him from his evil nature and bring him closer to the Creator. He understands good and corrects the revealed Reshimo by adhering to and justifying the Creator who sent him these problems in order to educate him.
  • How can a person be saved from evil and even justify the Creator in the direst circumstances of utter despair when the world is immersed in darkness? Only through the environment that supports him during difficult times and helps him remain in constant adhesion with the Creator regardless of the ever-increasing revelation of the breakage.
  • To justify the Creator means to connect everything that is happening to me with Him, rejoicing that He is distancing Himself from me so that in this new disconnected state I can adhere to Him.

From the 2nd Part of the Lesson 
The Study of The Ten Sefirot

  • The degrees of the spiritual world grow from within, clothing themselves into increasingly external manifestations, like concentric circles that spread out after a rock is thrown into the water. So a new inner core begins to grow in the Partzuf (spiritual object), while the former inner part becomes the external one.
    When it grows further, the external layer of the upper degree becomes the inner layer of the lower degree. Inner turns into outer and outer into the inner of the lower degree, and so on and so on.
  • The union of upper and lower degrees is the most difficult and deepest mystery because it is the union between the Creator and creation on each level.

From the 3rd Part of the Lesson
Baal HaSulam’s “Shofar HaMoshiach

  • Kabbalistic books have always been shrouded in secrecy. Other than the Kabbalists, no one understands anything that is written in them. Kabbalists speak about what is good for humanity and its progress toward correction.
    When we are teaching little children, we don’t disclose everything at once, but we reveal things gradually as they are ready for it. First, we educate them so they can use the knowledge they are receiving properly. When we are talking about spiritual degrees that are unattainable to the human intellect and feelings, special preparation is even more important.
  • If the generation is not ready, the Kabbalistic books return to concealment. This is what happened with Baal HaSulam who wrote many texts that he later hid and some he even burned. The authorities forbade him to publish his newspaper. This was all to ensure these texts would be revealed in the correct way and time.
  • Why is The Book of Zohar so important for our correction if it is a commentary on the Torah? The Torah contains all the information up to the end of correction, but it is not explained there.
    The Torah describes the corrections that were needed for the construction of the First and Second Temples. The Zohar, however, was written after the destruction of the Second Temple, and it tells how to come to the Third Temple following the destruction and exile.
    It was written for the last generation, when the exile ends and the construction of the Third Temple begins, which is the vessel for the revelation of the upper Light. This is the time when The Book of Zohar is needed.
    From the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 1/9/18