There are two kinds of Light of the Creator: the Light of knowledge, reason, and wisdom (called Ohr Hochma), and the Light of mercy, confidence, and unity (called Ohr Hassadim). In turn, Ohr Hochma comes in two types according to its action upon us
At first, when the Light arrives, we discover our own evil. Then, when we have discovered the evil, and realize that we should not use egoism, this same Light imparts strength towards those egoistic wishes, so that we can work (take pleasure) with them, but not for our own sake. Finally, when we gain the strength to overcome our own egoism, this same Light makes it possible for the corrected, formerly egoistic desires to take pleasure in altruism.
On the other hand, Ohr Hassadim bestows on us the desire „to give” rather than “to take” pleasure. For this reason, from the 320 uncorrected desires of the soul, the action of Ohr Hochma separates the 32 parts of Malchut (which are gradually sensed as spiritual ascents take place, just as the individual gradually comprehends the full depths of his evil and shudders at the realization of his own essence) from the desire to receive personal pleasure, because we have realized that egoism is our worst enemy.
The remaining 288 desires have neither an egoistic nor an altruistic direction, as they are simply sensations (like those of hearing, sight, etc.), which can be employed in any way we choose: either for ourselves or for others. Under the action of Ohr Hassadim, we develop a desire to work altruistically with all 288 sensations. This occurs after Ohr Hochma has replaced the 32 egoistic desires with the 32 altruistic desires.
A correction under the influence of the Light occurs without a sensation of pleasure derived from it. One only senses the difference in qualities between one’s own egoism and the magnificence of the Light. This alone is sufficient to break free of bodily desires. It is thus said, „I have created in you egoistical tendencies, and I created Kabbalah as its cure.”
But then, having corrected one’s desires, one begins to receive the Light in order to delight the Creator. This Light, also known as “Torah,” is called “The Names of the Creator,” because the individual receives into one’s self and soul a part of the Creator, and assigns names to the Creator in accordance with the pleasures received from the Light.
We can enter the spiritual world only by becoming completely unselfish (hafetz hesed).
This is the minimal prerequisite to ensure that no egoistic desires could ever seduce usl and thereby cause harm, because we want nothing for the self.
Without the protection of the altruistic tendencies with the quality of Ohr Hassadim, when we begin to receive the unbounded pleasure from the Upper Light, we will inevitably desire to gratify ourselves, and thus will bring about personal ruin; we will never be able to leave egoism for altruism. Our entire existence will consist of pursuing these pleasures, which are inaccessible to our egoistic desires.
But Ohr Hassadim, which imparts on us a striving toward altruism, cannot shine its Light into our egoistical desires. Egoistic desires are sustained by a spark of the Light within us that was forcibly put there by the Creator to resist the laws of the nature of spirituality. This enables us to maintain life in us because, without receiving any pleasure, human beings cannot survive.
If this spark of the Upper Light disappeared, we would immediately perish. Only by doing so could we break away from egoism and from our unfulfilled desire to be gratified, thereby bringing us absolute gloom and despair.
What is the reason that Ohr Hassadim cannot enter egoism? As was demonstrated earlier, the Light itself carries no distinction between Ohr Hochma or Ohr Hassadim, but the individual determines this distinction. An egoistic desire can begin to take pleasure in the Light, regardless of the Light’s origin; that is, it can begin to take pleasure in Ohr Hassadim for its own sake. Only a desire that has been prepared for altruistic actions can receive the Light in order to take pleasure in altruism; that is, to receive the Light as Ohr Hassadim.
An individual receives pleasure from three types of sensations: past, present, and future. The greatest pleasure is derived from the sensations of the future, because an individual begins to anticipate the pleasure in the present, that is, the pleasure is experienced in the present. In this way, anticipating and thinking about objectionable deeds are worse than the deeds themselves, because the anticipation prolongs the pleasure and occupies the thoughts of the individual for a long time.
Present pleasure is usually short in its span, in light of our petty and easily satisfied desires.
Past pleasure, on the other hand, can be repeatedly recalled in one’s mind and enjoyed. Thus, prior to engaging in an act of goodness, it is necessary to dedicate a lot of time to thinking and preparing for it. This allows us to take in as many different sensations as possible, so that later we can remember them in order to recreate our aspirations toward the spiritual.
Because egoism is the essence of our nature, we desire to delight in our lives. So if we are given from Above, into our desires, a small seed of a soul, which by its nature wishes to and tries to exist on anti-egoistical pleasures, then egoism can no longer motivate these types of actions. Thus, there is no more gratification from such a life.
This is because the soul gives us no rest, constantly reminding us that we are not living a true full life, but merely existing. As a result, we begin to see life as unbearable and full of suffering, because regardless of our actions, we are incapable of receiving pleasure. At the very least, we cannot be satisfied by anything, because the soul does not allow us to be satisfied. Thus it continues until egoism itself decides that there is no other solution but to listen to the voice of the soul, and to follow its directions. Otherwise, we will never be at peace.
This situation can be described as “the Creator bringing us back to Him against our will.” It is impossible for us to perceive even the smallest pleasure if we did not feel the lack of it beforehand. This lack of a desired pleasure is defined as “suffering.”
The ability to receive the Upper Light also requires a prior desire for it. For this reason, when we are learning, and during other actions, we should ask to feel a need for the Upper Light.
„There is none else but Him.” Everything that transpires is His desire, and all creations carry out His Will. The only difference is that there is a small group of people who carry out His Will because they so wish. The experience of unification of the Creator with the created is only possible when there exists a congruence of desires.
“A blessing” is defined as an outpouring of the Light of mercy (Ohr Hassadim) from Above, which is possible only when we are engaged in altruistic acts. It is said by the Kabbalists: „The needs of your people are great, but their wisdom is slight.” The needs are great precisely because the wisdom is slight.
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „Our state can be likened to the state of the King’s son, who was placed by his father in a palace filled with all kinds of treasures but with no light with which to see it all. So the son sits in the darkness and lacks only the light in order to possess the riches. He even has a candle with him (the Creator sends him the possibility to begin the advance toward Himself), as it is said: ’The soul of a human being is the candle of the Creator.’ One needs only to light it by his own desire.”
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „Although it is said that the goal of creation is incomprehensible, there is a great difference between its incomprehension by the wise man, and the ignorance of the simpleton.”
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „The law of the root and the branch implies that the lowest must reach the level of the highest, but the highest does not have to be like the lowest.”
All our work consists of the preparation to receive the Light. As Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „The most important is the kli – vessel, even though kli without light is as lifeless as the body without the soul. Thus, we should prepare our kli in advance, so that when it receives the light it works properly. This can be likened to a man-made machine that operates on electricity. The machine will not work unless it is plugged into the electrical source, but the result of its work depends on the way the machine itself is made.”
In the spiritual world, all laws and desires are diametrically opposite to those of our world.
Just as in our world, it is extremely difficult to act contrary to knowledge and understanding, so in the spiritual world it is extremely difficult to progress with knowledge.
As Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „It is said that when everyone stood during the service at the Temple, it was very crowded, but when everyone prostrated themselves, there was plenty of room.” The act of standing symbolizes the state of „greatness” of partzuf, the receiving of Light; whereas the act of prostrating is a state of „smallness” and represents the lack of Light.
In this lower state there was more room and a greater feeling of freedom, because in the state of the Creator’s concealment, those in the process of spiritual ascent feel the potential to advance against their reason, and this is the source of joy from their work.
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag used to tell the story of a great Kabbalist of the last century, Rabbi Pinchas ,from the village of Korits. Rabbi Pinchas had no money even to buy Ari’s The Tree of Life,and was forced to teach children for half a year in order to earn the money needed to purchase this book. Even though it may appear that our bodies are an obstruction to our spiritual ascent, it only seems this way because we are not aware of the functions that the Creator assigned to them.
As Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „Our body is like an anker (a part in a watch); even though the anker stops the watch, without it the watch would not work, it would not move forward.”
At another time, Rabbi Ashlag said: „In the barrel of a long-range shotgun there is a special threading which makes the exit of the bullet difficult, but precisely because of this threading the bullet flies farther and is more accurate.” In Kabbalah such a state is known as kishui.
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „Everyone is so accustomed to interpreting the Bible in accordance with the concepts of this world, that even when it is explicitly stated in the Bible, ’Guard your souls,’ it is still understood to mean the health of the body.”
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „An individual is in the spiritual state to the extent that he realizes that his egoistic desires are, in essence, the impure force.”
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „The lowest of the spiritual levels is attained when the spiritual becomes most important and comes before the material.”
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „In only one thing can a person display haughtiness; that is, in asserting that no one else can please the Creator more than he himself.”
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „The reward for keeping a Commandment is in gaining the perception of the One who commands it.”
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „The worries of this world are of no concern to those engaged in spiritual ascent, just as the person who is seriously ill does not worry about getting his salary, but only about surviving the illness.”
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „In the spiritual, as in our physical world, if something occurs to us because of circumstances that were beyond our control, this fact itself will not save us. For example, if someone inadvertently falls off a cliff, the mere fact that he fell, even though he did not want to fall, will not save him from dying.
The same is true in the spiritual world.” When Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag was sick, a doctor was called to come and see him. The doctor prescribed rest and peace, suggested that it was important to calm down the patient’s nerves, and remarked that if he was to engage in learning, he should choose something uncomplicated like The Psalms.
When the doctor left, Rabbi Yehuda commented, „It seems that the doctor thinks it possible to read The Psalms superficially, without looking for a deeper meaning.”
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „There is no place in between the spiritual, altruistic ’giving’ and the material, egoistic, impure ’receiving.’ If at every single moment a person is not bound to the spiritual, he forgets about it altogether and remains in the impure and physical state.”
It is said in the book, HaKuzari, that the King Kuzari, when it came time to select a religion for his people, turned to a Christian, to a Muslim, and finally to a Jew. When the King heard the Jew, he remarked that the Christian and the Muslim both promised him eternal heavenly life and great rewards in the world to come, after his death. On the other hand, the Jew spoke of the rewards for the observance of the Commandments and the punishment for disobeying them in this world.
But it seemed to the King that it was more important to be concerned with what he would receive in the world to come, after death, than with the way he should live his life in this world.
The Jew then explained that those who promise reward in the world to come, do so because they want to distance themselves from the falsehood in this manner, to conceal the lie and the meaning in their words. In a similar fashion, Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag explained that the words of Agra, the concept of yehudi („Jew”) is the name for one who attained the entire spiritual world, the whole world to come, while in this world.
This is what Kabbalah promises us as a reward. All of the rewards of Kabbalah must be received while a person is in this world, specifically while in the body, to feel everything with one’s entire body.
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said: „When a person feels that the impure forces, that is, egoistic desires, begin to press him, this is the beginning of his spiritual liberation.” Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag said, commenting on the Kabbalah „All is in the hands of God, except the fear of God”: In respect to everything that a person asks of the Creator, the Almighty decides whether to grant that person what is asked of Him or not to grant it.
However, the request to grant one the ’fear of Heaven’ is not decided by the Creator, but if a person truly yearns to have the fear of God, he will surely be granted this request.”