Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Zohar-cosmic deeds are important
The Zohar contains and elaborates upon much of the material found in 'Sefer Yetzirah' and 'Sefer Bahir', and without question is the Kabbalistic work par excellance. Among the issues discussed at length are the divine creation process [through a series of ten spheres] and the problem of evil. It stresses the cosmic significance of human deeds.
The second reason is the special situation we are in today. The development of technology and media has turned the world into a small village in which we are completely interdependent. Yet, at the same time, our egos and our hatred of one another are increasing.
It is becoming barely possible for us to tolerate others, beginning on the most personal level, where each member of a family needs a personal room, a personal car, and virtually a personal home. People find it very difficult to maintain relationships, and divorce rates are soaring. The family unit is falling apart the world over.
We are living together, cramped on a tiny planet, antagonistic towards each other and unable to get along. The amount of weapons of mass destruction accumulated worldwide have brought us to a perilous state where everything around us is unstable and unpredictable. It is safe to say that we have lost our ability to govern the world.
The first time such a state occurred was thousands of years ago in ancient Babylon. The Biblical story about the Tower of Babel described people gathered in one place, wishing to build a tower whose top reached the sky. This was an expression of the great egoism that appeared among them, and the hatred combined with interdependence. It was precisely in that place and in that state that the wisdom of The Book of Zohar appeared.
The wisdom offers a very simple thing. It says that in addition to the reality we currently sense, there is another, more expansive reality, a higher one. From this higher reality, forces extend to our world and govern it. The development we have achieved over the generations was intended to bring us into recognizing the forces that operate on us and govern us.
When we discover this higher reality, we will understand that our development over thousands of years has taken place only to bring us to acquire and experience a more expansive sensation of reality. Thus, we will not remain in the confined state in which we live and die, live and die. Instead, we will know life in its eternal, broad, and boundless form.
The Book of Zohar explains how reality began to expand from the world of Ein Sof [infinity], through the worlds of Adam Kadmon [ancient man], Atzilut [Emanation], Beria [Creation], Yetzira [Formation], and Assiya [Action], down to our world. It speaks of how souls come down and “dress” in bodies in this world, and how we can cause our souls to rise from here back to the world of Ein Sof.
Abraham was the first Kabbalist to teach people how to discover the soul and gradually experience a higher world through it. There are five higher worlds, each with five degrees, each of which are then divided into five additional degrees. If we multiply 5x5x5, we will arrive at the 125 degrees by which we ascend in our feeling, understanding, and attainment until we discover the whole of reality.
That process takes place while we are here in our material bodies. When we achieve these higher worlds, reality becomes much broader and we feel the forces that operate on the world we are in. It is like a picture of embroidery. In the front is a picture, while the back displays all the connections among the threads that create the picture on the front.
[i] Kabbalists refer to the two paths toward knowing the upper worlds as the “path of Torah” [path of light] and the “path of suffering.” In his “Writings of the Last Generation,” Baal HaSulam explains it in the following way: “There are two ways to discover the completeness: the path of Torah and the path of suffering. Hence, the Creator eventuated and gave humanity technology, until they have invented the atom and the hydrogen bombs. If the total ruin that they are destined to bring is still not evident to the world, they can wait for a third world war, or a fourth one and so on. The bombs will do their thing and the relics after the ruin will have no other choice but to take upon themselves this work ... If you take the path of Torah, all will be well. And if you do not, then you will tread the path of suffering.”
[ii] Changing certain gene sequences affects a person’s ability to be good to others, Prof. Ebstein and a team of researchers in behavioral genetics discovered. The researchers assume that there is an immediate reward for altruistic behavior in the form of a chemical called “dopamine,” released in the benefactor’s brain and prompting a pleasant feeling
[v] And we also find in The Book of Zohar, that Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai) instructed Rabbi Aba to write the secrets, because he knew how to reveal with intimation. ...For each secret that Rashbi disclosed in the wisdom, he would cry and say, “Woe if I tell; woe if I do not tell.” ...This means that he was in distress from both angles: if he did not reveal the secrets of the Torah, the secrets would be lost from the true sages... And if he did reveal the secrets, unworthy people would fail in them for they would not understand the root of the matters and would eat unripe fruit.
Hence, Rashbi chose Rabbi Aba to write because of his wisdom in allegories, arranging matters in such a way that it would be sufficiently revealed to those worthy of understanding them, and hidden and blocked from those unworthy of understanding them. This is why he said that Rabbi Aba knew how to disclose in secret. In other words, although he revealed, it still remained a secret to the unworthy.