“THE GIVING FORCE & THE RECEIVING FORCE“
by Rav Michael Laitman (n.d.) www.kabbalah.info/
The Kabbalistic knowledge we possess is a result of Kabbalistic investigations performed by those people whose souls were burning with the question regarding the meaning of existence. They used a special method to begin to feel the comprehensive reality, and they wrote books about what they discovered. When Kabbalists first sense the complete reality, they call it “the opening of the eyes.”
The opening of the eyes is a process of climbing up the same degrees by which we all came down from the previously mentioned infinite state (Ein Sof). The wisdom of Kabbalah comprises two parallel orders:
1. From Above downward—the descent of the will to receive from Ein Sof through all the Upper Worlds down to “this world.”
2. From below Upward—the ascent of the researcher from this world, through the barrier, to the Upper Worlds, to Ein Sof.
Kabbalah talks about the will to receive, i.e., the desire to enjoy. As we have said, there are five stages in the creation process of the will to receive. We mark these stages with four Hebrew letters: the tip of the Yod (י), then Yod (י), Hey (ה), Vav (ו), Hey (ה), and for short we call this structure of letters HaVaYaH. We also assign these five stages five respective names: Keter, Hochma, Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut.
The tip of the Yod is Keter, designating the beginning of the manifestation of the desire that departs from the Light, like a black dot inside the Light. From this dot evolves the letter Yod—the primordial desire. The shape of the letter Yod is like a point with a prickle at its head and a tail at its end. It symbolizes the creation of the new matter—previously nonexistent—the will to receive. This stage is called Hochma.
Once the letter Yod evolves, the will to receive continues to evolve by absorbing the attribute of bestowal from the Creator. The combination of the attribute of bestowal and the attribute of reception generates a new quality, called Bina, designated by the letter Hey.
Bina contains the first matter that wants to be similar to the Light that engendered it. The shape of the Hey symbolizes the integration of the attributes of reception and bestowal. This generates the form of bestowal atop the primordial desire.
Following that, the desire wants to perform an act of bestowal, as the Creator previously did, and therefore tries to be like the letter Yod. But because this time it is an act that the desire itself performs, it is assigned the form of the letter Vav.
The letter Vav symbolizes our efforts to be like the Giver, the Creator. However, the act of Vav is considered incomplete because it is a decision that was made beforehand, a consequence of Hey’s wish to bestow. The incompleteness of the desire, symbolized by the letter Vav, is hinted in its name Zeir Anpin—small face (Aramaic). Zeir Anpin lacks the independent decision, the “head.”
When Zeir Anpin performs the act of bestowal, it discovers what it means to be a giver. In consequence, it begins to want to reach the status of the Giver, and this last desire is called Malchut. Malchut’s desire is aimed entirely toward receiving the attribute of bestowal, hence, like Bina, it is symbolized by the letter Hey.
However, there is a fundamental difference between the first Hey of Bina and the last Hey of Malchut. In Bina, the combination of reception and bestowal stems from the Creator, “from Above,” while in Malchut this combination comes “from below,” from our craving for the status of the giver, a desire that stems from its own will to receive. Now we can see why the letters Yod, Hey, Vav, Hey symbolize the name of the Creator. It is the pattern by which the Creator formed the will to receive, within which the will to receive senses the Creator as a Light that fills it.
Once the Light filled the will to receive in Hochma and instilled it with the sensation of the Giver, the desire began to sense itself as a receiver, and wanted to become like the Giver. The desire can easily change its nature because at this stage, the desire is not an independent desire, but one that came from the Creator. However, the will to receive in Malchut is already an independent desire of the creature.
When the will to receive in Malchut wants to receive both the Light that comes from the Creator, and the pleasure of having the status of the Giver, it begins to see the oppositeness of its own attributes from those of the Light. The will to receive then experiences the gap between itself and the Light. Sensing this painful gap brings it to perform the Tzimtzum (restriction of Light). In other words, the reaction to discovering how opposite its attributes are from the Creator’s, is removing all the Light that filled it.
From this stage onward, the Tzimtzum (restriction) becomes the governing law in all of the created being’s actions. The Light will no longer enter an opposite desire from the Creator because the creature decided so. In this manner, the Tzimtzum becomes a binding law in Creation.
The law of Tzimtzum implies that as long as we (the creature) are egoistic, we will not be able to sense the Creator and the pleasure that comes from Him. There is only a tiny segment of the whole reality, called “this world,” where one can receive pleasure and enjoy within an egoistic desire, despite the law of Tzimtzum. This enables us to exist on the physical level before we begin to correct ourselves and become more like the Creator.
We must understand that an egoistic existence, such as our current existence in this world, does not exist in reality. Ascending from this world implies the ascension of one’s desire toward the quality of bestowal. In this world, the will to receive works inwardly, and in the spiritual world, it works outwardly, giving, like the Creator.
In other words, the spiritual world observes the law of Tzimtzum, and the term “spirituality” refers to states in which we are similar to the Creator. In our present state, we are egoists, and are opposite from the Creator.
Let us go back to the process of creation. The term “world” depicts a certain state of the creature, the will to receive. Thus, the state of the creature prior to the Tzimtzum is called “the world Ein Sof” (the infinite world), and its state following the Tzimtzum is called “the world of Tzimtzum” (the world of restriction).
After the Tzimtzum, the Kli (vessel/receptacle) remains empty and should decide what to do next. It feels that staying empty is pointless for both itself and the Creator. The act of the Tzimtzum made it independent of the domination of the Light, but by that it still did not come to anything because the Tzimtzum does not make it a giver like the Creator.
The Kli understands that it can carry out a similar action to the one it had performed while transiting from Hochma to Bina. However, this time it would be of its own free, independent will. It understands that it can give the Creator pleasure if it were to receive the Light from Him with the intention to give to Him. After all, this is the Creator’s will—to delight and please the creature.
Thus, when the Light-pleasure reached the creature- Kli, along with the sensation that it came from the Creator, the creature first rejected them. It did that so it would not sense them directly and thus feel the shame of being opposite from the Creator. In this manner, the creature followed the law of Tzimtzum that does not allow reception for the sake of self-gratification.
Afterwards, the creature measured the pleasures before it and weighed the result against its own desire to enjoy. It received this specific amount of pleasure only after it knew exactly how much it could receive in order to please the Creator, and not to please itself. The rest of the Light was then repelled.
Kabbalists explain this by using the example of the guest and the host. The host serves all kinds of exquisite delicacies and ushers the guest to the table. The guest feels shame and declines politely. In truth, the guest is afraid to feel like a receiver, and hence guards his ego from shame.
Now it is the host’s turn to implore: “I have made it all for you! You know how I care for you. I want to delight you with what I have prepared for you; please, will you eat for me?” By so doing, the host displays before the guest a deficiency, a need for the guest to receive. Now the guest feels that consenting to eat the food would fulfill the host’s need. Eating would thus be doing the host good.
Thus, the balance of power changes: if the guest receives in order to please the host, it is no longer reception, but bestowal. It follows that the guest uses the host’s love to give pleasure back to the host.
Another example of a giving-receiving relationship is between parents and children. Actually, the child is the head of the family, using the parents’ love to manipulate them in order to satisfy its needs. Naturally, the people in these examples are egoists. Things happen quite differently in the spiritual world, but such examples can help us understand the principle. The process occurring in the Upper Worlds is built upon a very similar principle: if one receives pleasure for the sake of pleasing the Creator, it is not considered reception, but bestowal. In performing this act, the human being equalizes with the Creator and acquires the Creator’s thoughts.
In other words, the Light created us from the very beginning with a massive, total desire for it. This desire is in us even now, but it is latent, and thus we do not feel the Creator’s Light. This desire (for the Light) must be evoked.
It is important to realize that we are dealing with researching the term “Creator” in a purely scientific manner. In other words, we can measure our sensation of the Creator in precise tools, quantify each sensation, and express it numerically. The tool with which we measure the sensation of the Creator is called “the wisdom of Kabbalah.” We can precisely define which Lights permeate which part of the Kli, how powerfully, and under which conditions.
Kabbalah talks about the will to receive created by the Creator. These two—the will to receive and the Creator—are much higher elements, in the sense that they precede all religions and belief systems. Kabbalah is about the two working forces of reality, the giving force, called “Creator,” and the receiving force, called “creature.”
Kabbalah has nothing to do with any religion or any faith. I do not want to compare Kabbalah to other teachings, nor do I wish to discuss any religion, be it Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. After all, why deal with religion when we can discuss the physics of the Upper World?
The challenge in explaining this material is that we cannot compare our emotions. We cannot say that the term, “Upper Force” that one person feels is identical to the term, “Upper Force” that another person feels. Hence, trying to compare this or that teaching to the Kabbalah is pointless.
Kabbalah is a technique that provides accurate, mathematical, measurable tools. When I document data pertaining to one state, another Kabbalist can perform the same act—with his or her own tools—and experience the data I was referring to. The wisdom of Kabbalah provides an accurate measurement of human emotions.
Kabbalah books describe the Kabbalists’ impressions of the Upper Force. They describe their emotions and leave us with formulae that explain which internal actions we need to perform on our will to receive. In so doing, we learn how to perform acts of reception and bestowal of the Light that the Creator wants to impart to us.
A Kabbalist measures the pleasure that can be received or repelled very accurately. Thus, we are given exact instructions as to the type of inner work we must do at each stage. Thus, we will know how to work with our desire vis-à-vis the Light.