Kabbalah For Dummies

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Chapter 1

Body

The body is the soul’s vehicle.

The body is comprised of three main abilities. The ability to speak, the ability to think, and the ability to act.

The Human

We are unique in this world, both as speakers and as thinkers. We can formulate intellectual ideas completely divorced from our instincts and desires.

This also extend into action. We can act intellectually. We can decide on our actions, and we can even go against our instincts. (Dieting for example.)

Chapter 2

The G-dly Soul

Within us there is a G-dly soul. It is from this soul that our desire for goodness and kindness comes from, as well as our desire to get to know and unite with G-d; this soul’s direct source.

Soul-Parts

This soul (and all souls) are comprised of five levels. These five levels are used to get the soul where it wants to go. The essential desire of the soul is as we mentioned; however just like if you have a desire to build a home you still need tools to actually build it, similarly, your soul needs tools to get to where it wants to go.

These tools are primarily intellectual and emotional. Intellect is rational thought which leads you to come up with new ideas/methods for achieving what you desire and when you want what it is that you have decided to do, you create an emotion.

Emotions are the love / desire that you create for the new method of achieving that which you want to achieve. When you create a love or desire for something you automatically create a fear; which is the fear of losing that something. Say you love a person, you have automatically created a fear, the fear of losing that person.

Following love and fear you have the three vehicles for the soul’s expression: thought, speech, and action.

Subconscious Emotions

In Psychological terms, your love and fear are your subconscious and they go through to your conscious mind which becomes your thoughts. Your thoughts are where you are informed of your own subconscious, and everything you think about, all comes from a subconscious love or fear. Similarly, speech is all about achieving what you love or not losing something you love. This can be readily seen in a relationship where the words are meant to bring each-other together and at times reconcile in order not to lose what one has. The third vehicle is action. This can also be readily seen in a relationship where one goes out to buy a gift for one’s loved one, in order to bring the lovers together and create greater love and a greater closeness between the two people.

Your Soul’s Mission

When your soul was sent into your body, G-d administered an oath that “you should be good and not be bad, and even if the entire world tells you that you are good, consider yourself as if you are bad.” There is an entire book of Kabbalah written about this oath but a few ideas from that book (the Tanya) will be mentioned here.

Effectively every person is challenged to rise above selfish instincts for goodness and kindness. This is our entire mission in life. (Although every one of us has a specific mission and every interaction with everyone else and everything else, is Divinely ordained, nevertheless we do not know what our specific mission is. However by always acting with goodness and kindness we will surely achieve our mission.)

A gentile once came to Hillel, one of the greatest Jewish sages ever, and asked him if he could tell him the entire Bible while he stands on one foot. Hillel replied, “What you do not want someone to do to you don’t do them, and the rest is commentary on this principle.”

The definition of Goodness

Even someone not religious will surely agree to this principle and definition of goodness, and obviously someone “who does to another that which they do not want another to do to them” is wrong.

Chapter 3

The Body’s Soul

The challenge comes about due to the other soul which we have which is the vital soul or the animal soul. This is our body’s soul which primarily gives us life. However, accompanied with life are instincts for pleasure, pride, laziness, and fun, which are self-centered selfish instincts. The body does not care about anything but its own survival and its own pleasure. While some people also naturally feel compassion and instinctually feel mercy, most bodies do not. It is the G-dly soul that drives us to have world peace, democracy, and a harmonious world, where people love and respect one another.

The Battle

This battle between the two souls is ever present. It is no small feat to conquer one’s instincts in favor of goodness and kindness. When the Messiah comes, we will all receive G-dly light in return for our efforts in controlling our instincts in favor of goodness and kindness. Until such time there is the battle to be selfless instead of selfish, and giving instead of only taking.

Chapter 4

Conditional and Unconditional Love

There are two kinds of loves, conditional and unconditional. Conditional love ceases as soon as the condition is met. The example of this is the rape of Amnon to Tamar. Amnon “loved” his half-sister and eventually raped her. The moment that he finished his dastardly deed, all his love changed to hatred, and he did not love her anymore. His love was for one specific act and ceased the moment he achieved his “love.” The other kind of love is unconditional. This is a love born out of respect. In this love the respect causes an unconditional love which never ceases. This is like the love a child should have for a parent and indeed some children do have it and are ready to give up everything for their parents, to the extent that they would happily give up their lives for their parents.

This love is diametrically opposed to conditional love, as conditional love is about me, while unconditional love is about you.

How do we achieve unconditional love?

If we consider our bodies as the most important part of our identity, then we cannot achieve unconditional love, for it is precisely our bodies that separate us. However if we consider our souls as the most important part of who we are, and we take pride in our souls, than we can truly unite with everyone, for everyone has a soul just like ours. According to Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch we should picture a huge quarry and every soul is a stone from a large rock in the same quarry. By imagining this, we come to feel unified with everyone.

Chapter 5

Wealth

Our Sages teach “Who is rich, someone who is happy with what they have.”

In a Readers Digest article they quoted a study where people were asked how much more money they needed to be happy; those earning $25,000 a year needed another $25,000 and those earning $50,0000 needed another $25,0000 etc.

Why is it that one person has a lot and is unhappy, while many very poor black people in South Africa I come across are very happy people? It is all about expectations. If we inherently expect that the world needs to give us everything that we desire, then the moment we fill one desire, another more ambitions desire takes its place, in an endless cycle; like a gerbil running in circles in its cage; however if we don’t expect anything, and we are grateful for everything, then the absolute pauper is far richer than the billionaire.

 

Chapter 6

Why we need to respect G-d?

One of the mistakes most religions make is that they anthropomorphize G-d. They see G-d in human terms. They think that “If I were G-d, what would I want? Respect, honor, etc.” and so they believe, they need to do the same to G-d.

The mistake in this is obvious to the thinking person, because G-d is unknowable and is certainly not a limited human with human desires, so the only way we can get to know G-d is from G-d’s perspective; through G-d’s communication to us about G-d, not the other way around.

G-d is not an emotional Being either, G-d is goodness, and thus G-d likes goodness. G-d is more concerned how you treat your fellow man, than how you treat G-d.  Sure we need to respect and honor G-d, however from G-d’s perspective this is because we will then become better human beings.

Chapter 7

Divine intervention

The test of this world is to realize that G-d is right here, right now. G-d did not create and then leave the world; G-d is just as much part of the world now as G-d was when G-d created the world. We often make the anthropomorphic mistake. There is absolutely no comparison between man and G-d. G-d is infinite with absolutely no limits whatsoever. There are no limits of time, space, or energy limitations. It is almost impossible for a human to understand this. Because we are inherently limited we can only imagine the height of our limited abilities.

Let’s use one modern example: If I were to tell you, that G-d right now knows every single thought that every man and every animal is contemplating all at once, do you think that this is true? You probably simply think that it is impossible. However, if you were to put in a search on yahoo.com, in a second a computer would go through every single website and come up with the exact number of times the word you searched, was found. The computer scanned through trillions of words which are found on hundreds of millions of websites, so you now know that it is possible to access trillions of words at once, however you think that only a computer can do this. This is because you are comparing G-d to the human mind which is highly limited.

Reality

When G-d created the world there was nothing, not even time and space, beforehand. Three words of the first Kabbalistic book contain information that physicists discovered close to four thousand years later and in fact is a far more accurate description of reality as well.

They are: Olam Shanah Nefesh. Universe / Space –  Year / Time –  Soul / E=mc2 and the living soul of the vegetative animal and human worlds.

Time, Space, and Soul, are the essence of reality that we see on earth.

Let’s start with the physical world. When G-d created the physical world after creating time and space (the place where the world would exist in,) G-d created atoms. As we now know, atoms are not stable creatures; not only are they inherently unpredictable, but they are constantly moving in a miraculous journey around their nucleus. Every atom has a soul, an energy from G-d that creates it. Remember, we are seeing the finished product; however there was a “time” when the atoms that you see simply did not exist at all. If we think about this fact, we realize that unlike a table which is built using preexisting atoms (from wood) and simply rearranging them to be a useful piece of furniture, the atoms that were created need a continuous creation to exist.

An example for this would be of your computer screen which is continually refreshing the screen. The screen that you look at this second has been recreated many times over, by some kind of energy emitter, which is sending out the signals which react with the chemicals behind the glass of your screen to give you an image. (This is also how your TV creates an image.) So even if you simply leave your computer on, the screen that you are seeing is being recreated every second many times over (this is why we have screen savers that basically create changes on the screen because otherwise sometimes the images get imbedded.) The reason that your screen needs to be constantly recreated is because it doesn’t really exist; it is an image that is put in front of you that can be changed. So as soon as the first image disappears (as soon as the light fades) it needs to be recreated.

Another example would be to imagine in your head, a pink elephant. The moment you stop thinking about the pink elephant it disappears from your mind because it doesn’t really exist. Similarly, this world doesn’t really exist, it only exists because G-d wills it into existence (sort of like G-d’s imagination creates our reality) and so G-d must continually recreate (refresh or imagine it) in order for it to continually exist. This G-dly “imagination” is the “soul” of reality.

The vegetative world is the most amazing miracle for one can take a seed lying around and suddenly when it is planted it starts to grow. It has its own soul which is implanted into every blade of grass and it is ordered to grow. Knowing that it is composed of cells helps us understand this, for the miracle of a cell recreating itself, is something that scientist still cannot understand (sure we can see it happen but we don’t understand how it happens.) Somehow the cell recreates this complex code, billions or trillions of times over ultimately resulting in a tree filled with delicious fruits etc.; it is truly a great miracle!

The next soul is the soul of the animal world. When we look at the DNA of an animal, we again find this great miracle of recreation of the cell; recreating itself until a fully developed animal is formed. Thousands of years ago the Jewish Sages said that even if all the wise men in the entire world would gather they could not create the wing of a fly and put life into it. With all our technology, life is way out of our hands. We may be able to recreate the physical image and properties of the wing of a fly but to put an independent soul / life into it is impossible.

The soul of the animal world is unique in that it follows the principle that every living thing desires its existence. Why is it that life actually wants to live? Why is it that an insect will run like … if it feels its life is in danger? Does it have some kind of grand purpose that it is protecting? The answer is that it innately and instinctively wishes to live and this is its soul that gives it life and the desire to live.

The human amazingly contains three distinct souls. The first is called the vital or animal soul, for this soul wishes to live, as well as contains certain instincts like an animal soul does. However we are very distinct in our next two souls. The first is the intellectual soul, our ability for order and rational thought independent of our instincts. And the third soul is the G-dly soul which we discussed in some detail before.

Chapter 8

In G-d We Trust

When a person trusts in G-d, i.e. that G-d will help them, then they recreate reality to their liking. Remember reality in the future is an unknown entity. We assume it to be a certain way because G-d has constantly created it in the past in a certain way; however there is nothing that forces G-d to do the same in the future. If G-d wanted to, tomorrow every single law of nature could be changed and oil could be drinkable like water and water flammable like oil. Every natural law is merely G-d’s will. So the future has yet to be created; if you trust that G-d, your individual Creator, the one that chooses you to live in this beautiful world, will definitely make things good for you just as a loving father would make everything go well for his precious child, then reality will go precisely according to your trust in G-d.

Chapter 9

Freedom Of choice

One thing though that G-d will not decide for you, is whether you will choose your G-dly soul (goodness) over your animal soul (selfishness). The reason for this is because, if you are good because G-d chooses you to be good then you are not good at all. In order to be good, you need to be able to be selfish. In order to succeed you need to be able to fail. In order to be nice, you need to be able to be mean. In order to be kind ,you need to be able to be bad. In order to be merciful you need to be able to be arrogant. In order to create a legacy, you need to be able to waste your time.

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