Kabbalah Is a Method to Change Our Internal Nature
In our world, day and night interchange by themselves as a result of the turning of the earth. In spirituality, it works differently: I myself turn the night into day because by reading in The Zohar and the work in the group, I invert the direction of the operation of my will to receive from inward to outward. That is, darkness and light depend on the way in which the desire operates.
The Difference Between Operating in Order to Receive And in Order to Bestow
Let us explain the above statement: The will to receive may operate in one of two ways—in order to receive or in order to give (also known as “in order to bestow”). When the desire operates in order to receive, it cannot contain anything. The pleasure cannot permeate the desire; it only touches the desire and we feel as though we are enjoying it, but it only seems so. In truth, the sense of pleasure disappears promptly after we receive it. This is so because the will to receive and the pleasure are opposites—the desire is like minus and the pleasure is like plus—neutralizing each other.
We can never keep pleasure within. If, for example, we buy something that we’ve been craving for a long time, something really special, a week later the sense of satisfaction disappears.
There are pleasures, like the pleasure of sex, which disappear immediately, at the very moment we obtain them because of the oppositeness between the nature of the desire and the nature of the pleasure. This is how Baal HaSulam summarizes this futile pursuit:
This world is created with a want and emptiness of all the good abundance, and to acquire possessions we need movement. …Hence, we choose the torment of movement in order to acquire the fulfillment of possessions. However, because all their possessions are for themselves alone, and “One who has a hundred wants two hundred,” one finally dies with less than “half one’s desire in one’s hand.” In the end, they suffer from both sides: from the pain of increased motion, and from the pain of deficiency of possessions, half of which they lack.
– Baal HaSulam, Talmud Eser Sefirot [The Study of the Ten Sefirot], Part 1, “Inner Refection,” Chapter 4
The Benefit of Functioning in Order to Bestow
This darkness, which is felt in the will to receive, can be turned to light only if we change the modus operandi of the will to receive into “in order to bestow.” In other words, if we use the will to receive in order to give to others, and enjoy the giving, we will become unbounded in our actions because one can give indefinitely.
If we enjoy loving and giving to others as much as the Creator enjoys it, we will become similar to Him and we will feel life as eternal and whole. What do we need in order to realize it? We need to acquire love of others and find abundance that we can give to others.
Love of others can be obtained from the Creator through the light that reforms. Once love for others is created within us and we have become similar to the Creator, the abundance of the Creator appears in us. When we act out of love for others, we realize the thought of creation and become the Creator’s “partners” with respect to the creatures. This is the correction process of how the will to receive operates.
How Loving Others Brings One Spiritual Fulfillment
A corrected act of the will follows the formula: “Israel, the Creator, and the Torah are one.” Israel means the desire in me to reach straight to the Creator, Yashar El [Straight to god], meaning to become similar to the Creator. The Creator is the creator, the goal to which I aspire, and the Torah is the entire corrected mechanism, the ties of love that connect the souls together.
To illustrate the above, think of the human body. In the body, different parts work in unison and with mutual guarantee. Each part helps the others and there is bonding and unity among them. our souls must function similarly—unite in a bond of loving and giving. This is the Torah. The Torah contains 613 correct connections between each soul and all the other souls.
If the connection between the souls is one of hatred and not one of love, there is no Torah and it is hidden. The souls that do not feel the ties of love among them are in exile from the Torah and from the Creator, meaning detached from the right connection (Torah) and from the light that fills the right connection (the Creator). We can compare it to the difference between a healthy body and a body whose systems are dysfunctional.
The corrections we perform on our desire—to shift from the corrupted form to the corrected one—are called Mitzvot [commandments]. This is why it is said that “Love thy friend as thyself” is the great rule of the Torah, for it contains the entire system of correct relations among the souls.