By Rav Michael Laitman, PhD
Using just a few texts from the Pentateuch as an example, we demonstrated how Kabbalah uncovers the secret meaning of the Bible. The meaning remains secret only until man embarks on Kabbalah studies, in the process of which he unearths all the secret meanings.
You already have some idea about the “language of branches” used by Kabbalists. We know that the worlds above and below are parallel to each other, and all that exists in the Upper world descends into ours. All events are conceived in the Upper world, and later descend into our world. Notably all descending powers and signals match a corresponding object of this world in a precise manner. There is not a single object in this world, or a single phenomenon, that does not result from the Upper world.
In defining a few essential terms in Kabbalah:
- Light – pleasure that fills creation.
- Place – will to receive in creation; this is the “place” for all the pleasure-light in it.
- Movement – each renewal of properties is called movement in the spiritual, for it separates itself from the previous form or property and receives its own name. This resembles part of a material object that detaches from it, budges and moves away from a previous place.
- Name – is an explanation of how the light that a name refers to can be attained. In other words, a name of the spiritual degree refers to methods and ways to attain a given degree.
Signals of the Creator
In Torah (Pentateuch), Moshe (Moses) explicates the science of attaining the Upper world. Yet it is virtually impossible for us to go beyond the numerous ancestral, historical, and various other details described there. We are incapable of seeing something more profound than these stories, to sense the secrets that Kabbalists claim are hidden there. Man may search for Bible codes and discover all sorts of dependencies there. There are millions of various connections between any given part of Torah because each part is connected with all the rest. People have counted the number of letters, words, expressions, blocks, and more. Recently using computer technology, tremendous work has been done in investigating the inner structure of Torah, the types of letters, and their parts. Ultimately it gives nothing to a person because he lacks the understanding of what stands behind each symbol, point, and curve of a letter, or combinations or certain transference of words.
Torah in its original is recorded as a single word without gaps. Later, this single word was divided into words. They in turn are divided into letters, and letters into elements. As a result, we come to analyze a letter: a dot and a line that comes out of it. The black dot on a white background refers to the source of light, that is, the light emanating from it. If the light descends from above downwards, that is, from the Creator towards creation, then a vertical line symbolizes this. A horizontal line symbolizes the Upper Force relating to the entire existence.
Basically the letters constitute all information emanating down to us from the Creator. All possible combinations of lines and points depend only on these two signals sent to us:
- personal signal that the Creator sends to man: a straight line;
- general signal that the Creator sends to man: horizontal line;
- various states between them.
This is how all the signals create a code, a correlation between man and the Creator. Notably, at each instant it could look differently, because at every moment the state of each soul looks different as well.
If a person receives correct instruction in apprehending Torah, then gazing at these symbols in each of their combinations, he sees his past, present, and future state. But in order to see that, it is not enough to simply read the text. The key to reading Torah correctly, as the instruction for entering the spiritual world, is the Book of Zohar. “Zohar” means shining. It contains commentaries on the five parts of Torah and explains what is concealed in the text of Moshe.
The Book of Zohar depicts all properties and combinations of light and vessel (Kli). Kabbalistic books can tell us what each element of a letter means. Each letter represents a certain state. As an example, my state today at this particular moment I’m tired, I sense something, have some thoughts that manifest somehow at the animalistic level; I’m healthy or sick; I’m in a less or more uplifted spiritual state, etc. If I examine and describe all of it, I will be able to express this using a certain symbol. This symbol is called a letter.
Black Letters on the White Background
Light in the worlds must have the limit of its propagation. However, in order to depict the acts of light, there has to be both a force that attracts it and a force that restricts it. These two forces have to act simultaneously. Similarly, only restriction enables us to receive any given sensation entering through our senses. This is because the surface of an object (sound, light, or any kind of wave) collides with our organ of perception, restricting its propagation, and thus allowing us to sense it.
White background is simple. This is light, which is invariable and thus unperceivable to us. Whatever we are capable of discerning can be expressed only by restricting the propagation of this white light. Different kinds, or levels of its restriction, are called letters. This is why we see four boundaries against the white background and attain only four restrictions. Regardless of language – Hebrew, Russian, Lithuanian, no matter which, any letter will consist of black light (yet uncorrected part) and white space onto which it is written. The letter is built on the contrast between black and white.
In this way, a letter expresses the measure to which the properties of the Creator differ from the properties of creation in our consciousness. Properties of the Creator are absolutely white and incomprehensible to us. In contrast, we rank and express the properties of creation in relation to the Creator according to the way we sense ourselves in relation to Him. This relation is what comprises the letters, symbols, and our comprehension as well. Consequently, it is the only means of perceiving ourselves, our dependence, and our dissimilarity from the surrounding light. We are incapable of sensing the states when there is only black (i.e. see just ourselves) or when there is only white (see only the Creator). Taking a closer look, we will realize that all our feelings and sensations are built on contrast, one against the other. Hence, using the alphabet, which exists in any language, we can describe our states, ascents, and descents.
In general, we could re-write the entire Kabbalah in any other language. However, upon attaining the World of Infinity, letters fade away since the black property in them, the property of creation, becomes equivalent to the light, the property of the Creator. If the desire has acquired a screen, it reflects everything from itself. In Hebrew it is called “Masach“.
The question arises: if the desires do not disappear, then how can we say that letters do? Letters disappear because a letter is built on sensing the difference between the Creator and creation. What does it mean, “dissolve”? The letters represent information about the Creator which becomes infinite, totally complete, and therefore no longer expressible in a form of restriction – in a form of letters. In other words, this is not dissolvent or disappearance. On the contrary, knowledge becomes so immense that it is impossible to depict or explain it by the means of our restricted language, as language itself is built on restriction.
Letters, symbols, and speech serve for conveying spiritual knowledge, and attainment. Every letter of every alphabet contains its spiritual meaning because people convey their sensations through books. Any sensation, not only human but animal as well, represents an unconscious perception of the Creator. Nobody understands this, but in reality when a poet for example, composes a verse portraying his love for a woman, children, the sun, light, or even in describing his suffering, he is expressing his impressions of the light that acts upon him, whether he wants it or not.
Question: Does a language play a significant role in the way the Kabbalistic information is conveyed?
This question basically asks if it is possible to convey spiritual notions and their meaning using different letters, or words of different languages. No, it makes no difference which language is used to transmit the spiritual notions since we are expressing our sensations. Listen, for instance, to cow’s moo and try to understand, feel what she is trying to “say”. What does her language mean? Meanwhile, at the animalistic level it expresses the sensation of nature, sensation of the Creator. And indeed, our current communication with each other, our words, expressions, exclamations, hails, and sighs are different ways of expressing our sensation of the Creator.
That which I feel is the light, my sensing the Creator, and if it seems to me that I perceive Him through you, through somebody else or from some inner space inside, it does not matter. Occasionally this is a correct sensation, because both inside and outside – all is the Creator. All is but the manifestation of the general force; this force is the only thing that exists besides the vessel-Kli-creation, and we refer only to it. All of us express the Creator’s way of influencing us, the way we perceive and sense the Creator, and our reaction to His influence. Thus it is not important which language we use.
The Book of Zohar is written in Aramaic, a spoken language of Mesopotamia. Kabbalists were able to freely express themselves using it. The Babylonian Talmud is also written in Aramaic, however it is already slightly different from Aramaic of the Book of Zohar, because it was different era by then. Simply, Kabbalists of that time lived in Babylon, and Aramaic was their spoken language.
Later on after the Greeks conquered ancient Judea, many Greek words were incorporated into Hebrew. We use a number of Greek terms, not just words but also definitions. In this instance, keywords are borrowed from the Greek language and this does not take away from the completeness of the conveyed information recounting the structure of the spiritual world.
Question: Why is Hebrew the language of Kabbalah?
The entire Kabbalah describes the degrees of becoming closer to the Creator, of perceiving Him. Kabbalists chose this particular language so that they could communicate with each other. They convey their knowledge in a form of words and symbols of our world, similar as mathematicians in our world express information using formulas, and musicians with the help of notes. Both Kabbalists, the one who writes and the one who reads, understand what is meant there, what these words imply in Kabbalah. The word is a code, which points to a particular spiritual object and its particular state. Reading a word, another Kabbalist can re-create this state, as a musician can re-create sound. In other worlds, a Kabbalist can sense what his colleague implies by this word. He can sense exactly what its author had in mind.
Language is just the recording of emotional information perceived as the influence of the light and delight. We do not need language for ourselves inside of ourselves, for they are feelings. However, when we want to convey our sensations to the others, we must clothe our sensations into something comprehensible to a person, to whom we want to convey our sensations. Language is clothing of sensations. It makes no difference which language it is. Simply Kabbalists chose Hebrew and presented all the information in it, using Aramaic – a bit of the spoken language of Mesopotamia.
The Book of Zohar easily utilizes “foreign” languages, used in the land of Israel at the time when the book was written (Greek, etc). We naturally follow Kabbalists and also use this language. I asked my Teacher Baruch Ashlag the same question and he told me that any language can be adapted to convey the spiritual information, however, because Kabbalists already described everything in Hebrew, had already composed the dictionary of “root and branch”, this language now is the basis of Kabbalah. Hebrew is considered to be a sacred language for it brings us to holiness, the properties of the Creator.
What basically do we want to express? We express human sensations. We can use the language of music, light, or any other language. Everything that enables us to express human sensations and human notions, that is, the process of perception, can be used as a language. We can tell about the spiritual using any language. The uniqueness of Hebrew is that the code is already given to us. But if there would be a Kabbalist who would fully master the roots of some other language, he would be able to do the same using any other language as well.
The forces that stand behind the Hebrew letters are subtly interconnected. The particular forms of the Hebrew letters express these links. However, we would be able to express these correlations in other languages as well. The shape of letters in other languages, originate essentially from the same root as Hebrew letters. However, they are altered since the connection between letters in other languages and the spiritual roots are different.
Question: How can we describe the sensations of someone who sensually exists in the world of Infinity?
Kabbalists have no way of describing the soul that exists at the level of Infinity, because we comprehend, accept, and sense all of our letters and ways of conveying information only within boundaries, not the Infinity.
Without boundaries, there are no sensations. Our perception is built on contrast: black – white, bitter – sweet, good – evil, pleasant – appalling, all of our sensations emerging at the juncture of two opposite forces. This resembles our measuring instruments, in that all of them are based on resistance. They always have some resisting spring in them and what gets measured is its resistance, which is equivalent to pressure exerted on it. Our sensations of every kind are built on such comparisons, as this is our nature. But when man begins feeling the Infinity, the unbounded reception for the sake of the Creator, this limit, so to speak, disappears. It becomes impossible to describe these sensations using symbols comprehensible to us, for all of them are built on contradiction, on collision, on emergence of some sort of boundary.
All the letters are composed out of black elements on the white background, meaning, they are built on contrasts, on left-right imprints, on limitations, and on transference. All letters are a precise portrayal of certain dots, heaping in certain directions. Without this, we simply don’t know what to feel and how to feel it. For this reason we are completely incapable of describing the existence beyond the world of Infinity and above. That is, we cannot speak about the Creator Himself; truly, we cannot as of now.
Copyright © 2006. Bnei Baruch. All rights reserved.
Daily Kabbalah Lesson – Video
A video clip from Dr. Michael Laitman’s daily Kabbalah Lesson.
Daily Zohar Lesson – Video
Free Kabbalah Course
Daily Zohar Lesson