125 Degrees to Happiness
We have descended 125 degrees away from the Creator. Now it is time to climb back up and rekindle the bond.
Behold that before the emanations were emanated and the creatures were created, the Upper, Simple Light had filled the whole existence.
--Rabbi Isaac Luria (The Holy Ari), Tree of Life.
The term “Upper Light” pertains to the Creator, whose only desire is to impart infinite abundance. To accomplish His desire to give abundance, the Creator created a creature that can receive the abundance that He wants to give. The origin of the word Bara (created) is in the Aramaic word Bar (outside); it means “to bring out.” The Creator-creation relationship is therefore a relationship between the internal and the external: the Creator being the innermost part of creation, and creation being anything that is not Him.
For the creature, contact with the Creator is the greatest possible pleasure. Because the Creator’s wish is to bestow abundance, He created within the creature the sole wish for precisely the abundance that He wants to give it.
However, in such a state, the creature has no independence; it is entirely dominated by the desire for pleasure. In that sense, there is no creature here, an independent, autonomous being that chooses to receive; instead, what exists is but a “product” of the Creator’s desire to give. For the creature to acquire independent and free will, to build a genuine relationship with the Creator, it must first become detached from the Creator, the source of the pleasure. Only in that state can the creature decide to advance toward the Creator of its own free will.
As a father who wants his son to be as strong and as free as him, the Creator gradually steps away from the creature, allowing it to learn how to attain His state by itself. But detachment from the Creator is not an abrupt event. It is a gradual decline over 125 degrees, to the degree of this world.
As just stated, the creature’s decline is initiated in order for it to return to the Creator, but this time, it must do so independently. Each such decline in degree by the creature symbolizes the exit from the inside out, the growing distance from the Creator, to the point of complete detachment. When the creature chooses to return to the Creator and climb the spiritual ladder, it will traverse the distance from the Creator and reestablish its union with Him. During this process, the creature will gain true independence and will ultimately unite with the Creator.
From Above Downward, and from Below Upward
The detachment process ends in the shattering of the creature into myriad pieces, called “souls.” At the end of the process, these pieces fall into the outermost place, the farthest from the Creator, known as “this world, or “the corporeal world.”
In this state, the existence of the Creator is totally hidden from the souls. The reason the corporeal world exists is to allow us to choose returning to the Creator over our attachment to this world, and to do it of our own free will.
After the long process that has brought us to total detachment from the Creator, we now have a choice to begin the gradual and conscious climb to our root, the Creator. The wisdom of Kabbalah can guide our generation on its spiritual path along the 125 degrees back to the sensation of the complete reality—the Creator.
In his article, “The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah,” Baal HaSulam addresses this very issue: “The wisdom of Kabbalah is generally divided into two parallel, identical orders like two drops in a pond. The only difference between them is that the first order extends from above downward, to this world, and the second order travels from below upward, through precisely the same routes and make-ups imprinted at the root when they appeared from above downward.”
Returning to the Complete Reality
As the Creator is the internal and creation the external, souls, too, are divided into internal and external. In Kabbalah, the internal part is called “the nation of Israel” and the external part is called “the nations of the world.” The inner part is considered closer to the Creator, and should therefore initiate the return of the souls to the Creator. In the words of Baal HaSulam (“A Handmaid that is Heir to Her Mistress”): “The worlds are generally divided into internality and externality… and you should know that the branch extending from the internality are the people of Israel… they contain the preparation to be able to develop and grow, until they arrive. They will also motivate the nations to reach the overall purpose.”
The structure of the physical world is an exact replica of the spiritual world. This is why the nation of Israel, in our world, appears as a group of people whose goal is to lead the return to the recognition of the Creator.
In order to start off the process, the people of Israel were given the method of Kabbalah. Over the years, Israel has lost its contact with the method, except for a handful of people called “Kabbalists.” The Kabbalists kept the wisdom secret, to be used at the proper time. Since early in the twentieth century, Kabbalists have been stating that we should choose to use this method now to reinstate our bond with the Creator.
The Correct Ratio between Internal and External
To lead the return of the souls to the Creator, the Israeli nation needs only this: to prefer the internal to the external, that is, to want to rekindle the bond with the Creator. By doing so, we will intensify the importance we ascribe to spirituality over corporeality, and grant merit to the eternal world, compared to the temporal. One who has already determined the right proportions between internal and external draws abundance from Above, and this brings wholeness and peace to that individual, to the ones close to him or her, and eventually to the whole world. When the whole of Israel chooses this approach, we will all be as one unit, and every soul will return to the highest degree on the ladder, to eternity and bliss.