Love, Love, Love
In 1969, the Beatles declared that all we need is love, and they were right… Kabbalah says that the only force and the only law that exists in reality is the force (or law) of love.
In the 1960s, love was the name of the game. Woodstock, Hair, and “make love, not war” sentiments were the models by which we lived. But if even the law of reality agrees that love is the name of the game, why didn’t the ideals that attracted us to Woodstock last? Where is the love we were promised?
Love Is Life
Before we find where love went, we need to understand why Kabbalah states that in the whole of reality, there is nothing but love. Just imagine a woman holding her newborn baby in her arms. She gazes down at it, smiles, feeds it when the baby is hungry, and wraps it in blankets to keep it warm. Beneath all her actions is only one energizing force: her love for her baby. This is the law of love.
This seemingly obvious example demonstrates why love is the only force that can create life. What other force could guarantee that parents would care for their offspring, thus securing the continuation of their species? What other force would make certain that existing species have the means to persist and thrive? Evidently, without love, there is no life. This is why Kabbalah says that Creator, nature, and love are synonymous.
There is yet another statement that Kabbalists make, derived from the statement that the Creator is love: Because He is good, He created creations that want to receive His benefits.
According to The Book of Zohar, the seminal book of Kabbalah, reality originates from the Creator’s thought to do good, to benefit. The Zohar explains that the Creator’s nature is good; hence, so is His will, and hence, so are His thoughts.
And because He wants to do good, He created a world that runs on a desire to receive the benefits He wishes to give. This is why the law, and the force by which the whole of reality operates, is the Creator’s love.
A Mother’s Love
This brings us back to our question: Where is the love we were promised? Where are His benefits? Since the Creator formed our reality, we are the creations that wish to receive the benefits He wishes to give.
The mother-and-child example shows us that the love doesn’t exist in the baby (creation), but in the mother (the Creator). She is really the one who is enjoying her love for the baby, and the baby simply exists to enjoy her love for it.
And as cute as babies are, being a baby isn’t life’s purpose. Babies don’t remain babies, but grow up, become adults, and develop their own abilities to love. Thus, they become like their creators.
Likewise, the Creator’s purpose in creating us is for us to become like Him. The Kabbalistic term for being like the Creator is Dvekut (adhesion). Dvekut doesn’t mean that two things are “glued” to one another, but that they are at the same time identical, yet separate beings.
Therefore, to enjoy the love that exists in our Creator, we need to “grow up” and become “spiritual adults,” like Him.
Many Pieces, One Soul
In the whole of reality, as we’ve described above, there is only the Creator’s love. This love created us, the intended recipients of that love. The name Kabbalists gave this creation is “the soul of Adam ha Rishon (The First Man).” For short, we call it “Adam.”
Adam is not many souls (creations) put together; Adam is one collective soul, divided into billions of pieces. Just as our bodies are made of trillions of cells, all functioning as one unit, Adam’s soul is made of billions of pieces, all functioning as one spiritual entity.
If the cells in our body work harmoniously, we are healthy; if they work against one another, we become ill. Similarly, when our souls, the pieces of Adam’s soul, work together, our souls—the whole of humanity—are spiritually healthy.
Adam’s division into so many souls was no coincidence, but a predetermined act by the Creator. The division is imperative for our success in becoming like Him. Just as children need other children around them to develop social skills and grow up, our souls need other souls in order to develop into being like the Creator.
These souls are not really separated from ours; they are different parts of the same soul (body). But our perception of these souls as distinct and separate allows us to relate to them as separate, and thus create a “society of souls,” just like our human society. And just as children play and thus learn how to become grownups, we learn how to communicate with “other” souls, and work harmoniously with all of Adam’s parts. This is how our souls mature.
Straight to God
Yet, there is a fundamental difference between the way our souls develop, and the way we develop our social skills. Children have visible grownup role models to emulate and learn from. But our “spiritual parent” is hidden. We cannot emulate Him because we cannot see or hear Him.
To become spiritual adults, we need to employ a slightly different method than our regular school classes, where everyone learns together. Just as each cell in our bodies has a different function, each piece of Adam’s soul represents a slightly different facet of the collective desire to receive pleasure. Some pieces are created to want to be wealthy, some want to be powerful, some want to be knowledgeable, and some want to be Creators, or at least like Him.
The first person who wanted to become like the Creator was Abraham. He discovered that being like Him meant having His nature—that of giving. When Abraham became like the Creator, he started to spread the knowledge of the Creator wherever he could. In fact, we call him “the Patriarch” because of his affinity with our spiritual Father, and his desire to bring all of us to Him.
In Kabbalah, souls that want to be like the Creator are called Ysrael (Israel). Ysrael is a combination of two words: Yashar (straight) and El (God). Therefore, Israel are those whose desire is to go straight to the Creator, to achieve His nature.
The early patriarchs taught whomever they could, since they knew from their own experience that this was the best thing they could give their fellow people. This was also their spiritual legacy. In his book, The Mighty Hand, The Rambam (Maimonides), the great 12th century Kabbalist, beautifully describes how Abraham roamed from city to city and from country to country, spreading wisdom and knowledge to anyone who’d listen. This is how he created the first group of Kabbalists.
Abraham's group grew into a nation, named after its desire—Israel. This nation’s role in the world has not changed since it first appeared as a group of Kabbalists. The spiritual legacy to spread the method of achieving the Creator remains the same. The Holy Ari, the great sixteenth-century Kabbalist, puts it beautifully in his book, Shaar HaPsukim (Gate to the Verses), Parashat Shemot: “Adam ha Rishon contained all the souls and contained all the worlds. When he sinned, all the souls … divided into seventy nations. And Israel should be in exile in each and every nation, to gather the roses of the sacred souls that were scattered among those thorns.”
Longing for Love
They say that money makes the world go around. Curiously, the Hebrew word for money is Kesef, which stems from the word Kisufim (longing). The great 20th century Kabbalist, Baal HaSulam, addresses this similarity and explains that money is indeed longing, but the longing isn’t for the money itself. Beneath the desire is really a longing for the Creator’s love. Then, Baal HaSulam continues to explain that we can only attain the Creator’s love when we are “in Dvekut” with Him, when we are like Him.
All we need to perceive His love for us is the right method. Then, the love that He feels for us will be felt within us, toward each other, and back toward the Creator. The Rav Kook (the first Chief Rabbi of Israel) eloquently expressed this love in a talk with the author, AZAR (1911): “I wish the whole of humanity could be placed into a single body, so I could embrace them all.”