What Is Hell?

“Better is he that is ignoble and has a servant, than he that plays the man of rank and lacks bread.” This verse the evil inclination because it always complains against people. And the evil inclination raises man’s heart and desire with pride, and man follows it, curling his hair and his head, until the evil inclination takes pride over him and pulls him to Hell.

Zohar for All, VaYishlach [Jacob Sent], Item 16

 

Should we also feel that state of Hell? And how do Kabbalists know about it? They experienced it themselves. After all, it is impossible for one to discover anything if not through experience. So do we all have to be in Hell? Apparently, we do.

We always sink into the evil inclination first, and only then discover what it truly is. At first, we do not see that it is evil. If we did, we would not get into it. At first, it is appealing, shining, glittering, and wonderful. Thus, our egoism deceives us.

Here The Zohar speaks of a person who scrutinizes the various parts in one’s soul. He must be entangled, and out of that entanglement he must come down to a state of Hell. That state exists in every degree, and it is said about it, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Ecclesiastes, 7:20). Only when one is in that state can one scrutinize the evil that lies within, and discover how much one is losing because of one’s evil, how impotent one is, when it comes to doing something with oneself without the help of the Creator.

We should remember that each word that was written by Kabbalists is based on their own personal attainment, for “What we do not know, we do not define by a name or a word [1].” The authors of The Zohar experienced all those states in themselves. Let us hope that we, too, will obtain these states. After all, they are part of the road to discovering the truth.

 

Notes

[1] Baal HaSulam, “The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah”

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