Selected Questions about the Study of The Zohar

The Segula [Power] in The Book of Zohar

There is another magnificent power in it: All who engage in it, although they still do not understand what is written in it, are purified by it, and the Upper Lights draw closer to them.

Baal HaSulam, “The Teaching of the Kabbalah and Its Essence”

Question: I am not really sure how the Segula in The Book of Zohar works.

Answer: In our current situation, it’s hard to understand it. This is why it is called Segula.

Let us say that I am told that if I jump on one spot ten times, the lamp on the ceiling will switch on. I don’t know what the connection is between them. Perhaps a switch was placed under the floor, and there is a counter that counts to ten and switches it on after ten counts, but I don’t know that. There must be a connection, but it’s hidden from me. In Kabbalah, such a hidden connection is called Segula.

In other words, Segula is a law that exists in Nature, but one that I still don’t know. Those who have already studied themselves and it are telling me, “If you use it in such and such a way, you will activate it. You do not see it, but this is how you activate it.”

If an alien were to come to our world from another planet, he would look at a human baby and at a newborn calf and say that the calf will grow up to become a prominent figure, and the baby will grow up to small and helpless. However, we know that if you give both of them what they need, one will grow up to be a cow or an ox, and the other to be a human. This is a miracle, a Segula. We have grown accustomed to it happening, but it really is a miracle.

The little baby suddenly begins to understand, to react, to perform all kinds of actions. Each day, new abilities appear. How does it happen? After all, we didn’t do anything to make it happen. We have become used to the existence of a process of development, but in fact, it is a manifestation of the force of life, a spiritual force that acts in the creature and appears in such a way.

The same thing happens with our spiritual development. After all, the laws of spiritual development are no different, only this development is still hidden from us; we are not accustomed to it. But the day when people use these laws just as they do all other laws of Nature is not far.

Kabbalists are telling us that there is a force in Nature whose impact we can draw by studying The Book of Zohar. The more you study it, the stronger, wiser, more sensitive, and more understanding you will become. By that process, spirituality will appear to you because this book has the ability to change you.

But aren’t there other books that change me? There are, indeed. There are other books that change our perception of reality and help us discover the hidden realms. But The Book of Zohar affects the change more potently, yet more smoothly than any other book.

The World of Desires

A person who is in the dark and has always been in the dark. When you want to give him light, you first need to light a small light, like the eye of a needle, and then a little bigger. Thus, every time some more until all the light properly shines for him.

Zohar for All, VaYishlach [Jacob Sent], Item 91

Question: If I hear that everything is inside of me, how should I relate to those around me? How should I see the world? How should I consider those who love me, those who hate me, and generally relate to what happens around me?

Answer: We need to understand that there is the ideal, and there is reality. The ideal is what we will discover in the future, in our corrected states. For now, we are only learning that another reality exists in which everything is happening within us. For now, none of it is real for us, and perhaps everything that we imagine as a future picture is nothing like we see it.

We have no idea how our lives will change once we discover this picture. It is not that our world will change to some extent, but that a new world will appear before us. Hence, when we read in The Book of Zohar we must detach ourselves from everything we know and simply try to “dive” into it. At the moment, we cannot be in two worlds simultaneously. For now, we can only be in one world.

Therefore, we detach ourselves from the material reality and try to build a different picture, much like a child who wants to grow. Children want to be grownups in every way—in how they dress, how they behave, and in the eyes of others. They want everyone to treat them as adults.

We, too, should imagine in every way we can that The Book of Zohar speaks about our own new world, and that we are in it. In other words, this book discusses our internal qualities within which we exist, and within which we see a new reality. This game yields the impact of the light of correction upon us, and this new world appears.

So when the new world appears, does the old world disappear and we fly into heaven? Not quite. We discover a new life in our desires. Two desires—our own and that of the Creator—appear in us one opposite the other. We feel them, and we are in between them like a middle line, as our “selves,” and there is nothing else but that. Between the two forces there is me.

 

The Difference Between the Torah and The Zohar

“Open my eyes, that I may see wonders from Your law.” How foolish are people, for they do not know and do not consider engaging in the Torah. But the Torah is the whole of life, and every freedom and every goodness.

Zohar for All, Hayei Sarah [The Life of Sarah], Item 219

Question: Why do we need The Zohar if we already have the Torah?

Answer: The Zohar is a Kabbalistic interpretation of the Torah. Moses laid down the foundation, but the Torah is a coded book. There is a single code in it, but it is very deep. The Torah is written in “the language of the branches” [1]. The wisdom of Kabbalah explains the language of the branches and helps us read the Torah and understand what Moses really meant.

We are accustomed to relating to the Torah as a historic narrative about the feats of an ancient tribe. But Kabbalah allows us to see the upper roots through all that, the forces that evoke such actions in our world. Through Kabbalah, we can rise to the level of the system of forces that governs our world, and from there, we can correct and manage reality.

The Torah served as a correction method for those who lived since Moses’ time until the ruin of the Temple, which symbolized humankind’s detachment from the spiritual world. At that time, it became evident that Moses’ Torah was so remote from us that we could not correct ourselves directly through it. [2]

The Torah is simply too encrypted to be a guide for the souls that have fallen into corporeality. That fall created a need for another source of guidance. This is the time when The Book of Zohar was written. However, The Zohar was not written for the people who lived in those days—the beginning of the exile—but for our days—the end of the exile.

 

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.

The upper world and the lower world are judged the same. Israel below correspond to the high angels above. It is written of the high angels, “Who makes winds His messengers,” and when they come down, they clothe in dresses of this world. Had they not clothed in dresses such as in this world, they would not be able to stand in this world and the world would not tolerate them.

And if this is so with angels, it is all the more so with the law that created the angels and all the worlds, and they exist for it. Moreover, when it came down to this world, the world could not tolerate it if it had not clothed in these mundane clothes, which are the tales and words of the uneducated.

Hence, this story in the Torah is a clothing of the Torah. And one who considers this clothing as the actual Torah and nothing else, cursed will be his spirit and he will have no share in the next world.

Zohar for All, BeHaalotcha [When You Raise], Items 58-60

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This chapter is only a taste of The Zohar. We tried to walk you through reading excerpts from The Zohar to make it easier for you to join the study. In the appendices you will find selected excerpts from The Zohar, as well as quotes from the greatest Kabbalists about the importance of the study of The Zohar. If you wish to delve deeper into the words of Baal HaSulam about the approach to studying The Zohar, you can do that in the appendix, “Introductions of Baal HaSulam to The Book of Zohar.”

Even if we first feel that we are not feeling anything while reading The Zohar, after only ten lessons over the Internet you will be able to feel very distinctly how The Zohar affects you.

The impact of the study of The Zohar is very powerful indeed, and as we said above, it does not depend on the level of our understanding, but rather on our efforts to perceive what The Zoharspeaks of. We only need to listen, to want to feel. This is the only way to know the world—our world, as well as the spiritual world.

The Book of Zohar is a lifeline that has been thrown to us by the Creator. If we grab the end of that line, we will be able to climb all the way to Ein Sof.

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“How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You.”

“How great is Your goodness,” meaning how sublime and precious is the Upper Light called, “good.”

This is the hidden light, with which the Creator does good in the world. He does not deny it every day, in it is the world sustained, and upon it does it stand.

Zohar for All, Emor [Say], Item 3

 

Notes

[1] Kabbalists study the upper world, which is beyond the range of perception of an egoistic individual. According to them, from every object in the spiritual world, which is called “a root,” a force cascades into our world and produces an object here, which is called “a branch.” In his essay, “The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah,” Baal HaSulam explains it in the following way: “There is not an element of reality, or an occurrence of reality in a lower world, that you will not find its likeness in the world above it, as identical as two drops in a pond. And they are called ‘Root and Branch.’ That means that the item in the lower world is deemed a branch of its pattern, found in the higher world, which is the root of the lower element, as this is where that item in the lower world was imprinted and made to be.”

[2] For more on this topic, see Baal HaSulam’s “Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot”

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