“If you listen with your heart to one famous question, I am sure that all your doubts as to whether you should study Kabbalah will vanish without a trace. This question is a bitter and a fair one, asked by all born on earth: ‘What is the meaning of my life?'” (Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag, “Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot”)
Generations come and go, yet every generation and every individual asks the same questions about the meaning of life, and the purpose of suffering. This happens especially at times of war, collective suffering, and during periods of misfortune that befall each of us from time to time, and probably more often than we’d like.
Every generation has had its share of misfortune. It is written in the Ethics of the Fathers, “Against your will you are born, against your will you live, and against your will you will die.”
Nature created us, and we are forced to exist with the qualities that were imposed on us. It is as if we were only semi-intelligent beings; just intelligent enough to acknowledge that our actions are determined by our inherent characteristics, and that there is nothing we can do against it.
If we are at the mercy of nature, then there is no telling where our untamed, irrational nature will lead us. It constantly arouses conflicts between people and between nations. Like animals, we are engaged in a vicious struggle of the instincts. Subconsciously we cannot come to terms with the idea that we are both human and primitive beasts.
But if the divine force that created us does exist, then why do we not perceive it? Why does it hide itself from us? If we knew what it demanded of us, would we commit mistakes and trip ourselves into painful situations?
How much easier would life be if the Creator were not hidden, but were clearly perceived and seen by every one of us? With such a perception, we would have no doubts about His existence. We would be able to observe the outcomes of His Providence on the surrounding world; we would know the cause and the purpose of our creation; we would clearly see the results of our actions and His reactions to them. If we could see Him, we would share our problems with Him, ask for His counsel and assistance, complain to Him about our troubles, and ask Him to explain why He treats us as He does.
Finally, we would seek His advice concerning the future. We would constantly be in contact with Him, and we would conduct ourselves according to His advice. In the end, He would be pleased and so would we. In the same way a child is aware of its mother from the moment of its birth, so we would be aware of the Creator.
From all of the aforesaid, it should become clear that the only element lacking in our world is the perception of the Creator. All we need is to fulfill this lack, and therein is the key to a perfect life, free from suffering and full of bliss.
Why then is He concealed after all? Kabbalists explain that He is concealed not because He does not wish to show Himself; it is because our nature is so opposite from His, that if we discovered who He was, we wouldn’t be able to stand the shame of our oppositeness from Him. In Kabbalah, this state is called “the bread of shame.”
This is why He hid himself, and gave us the wisdom of Kabbalah, the correction method whose aim is to make us similar to Him. When we apply it on ourselves, we gradually learn of His qualities, of ours, and how to become like Him. When we achieve His qualities, we will discover that He has always been revealed, and our oppositeness from Him was the reason for our remoteness from Him.
When we discover Him, we will realize that His concealment, our oppositeness from Him, and the emergence of the wisdom of Kabbalah, all serve one purpose: that every one of us becomes like the Creator – omnipotent, omniscient and eternally blissful.