Who Comes to Study
People often ask me who is the most likely person to become a Kabbalah student, and why some people take interest in it, and some do not, or even reject it. Well, the first thing I mention are the known words of Baal HaSulam, the author of the Sulam [Ladder] commentary on The Book of Zohar, who wrote that Kabbalah is for anyone who asks about the meaning of life. However, many people ask about the meaning of life but don’t end up studying Kabbalah, so while most everyone who comes to study Kabbalah had frequently asked about the meaning of life, not everyone who has asked about the meaning of life end up studying Kabbalah.
Covid has increased the level of people’s anxiety dramatically. Many of them even started to ask about the meaning of life. However, this in itself is not enough to become a serious Kabbalah student. People have gone through all kinds of states during the pandemic: They’ve suffered blows for no apparent reason, felt powerless to deal with them, were forced into an endless struggle for survival, and often had very little support from friends, family, or authorities. Such circumstances can easily drive a person to ask why they deserve the punishment, what is wrong with this life, and how come others are happy and they are not.
However, people entangled in the midst of a crisis are (usually) not the best candidates for studying Kabbalah. Kabbalah is a long process that requires commitment on the part of the student. Therefore, I would say that the best candidates for Kabbalah studies are those who are not in the midst of a crisis, but have experienced one (or more) before, and have since stabilized their lives. Nevertheless, the question about life’s meaning does not let up. When this happens, it is a sign that the question is deep enough to make a person a serious and committed student.
When a person begins to study Kabbalah, new horizons open up. The expanded perception of reality transcends the familiar norms and boundaries that the student was accustomed to or grew up on. This takes away much of the burdens of life, and many “guilt trips” that we all have are lifted because the realization of how things work reveals that we are all ego-driven and therefore cannot really help being selfish.
At the same time, it does not make a student reckless because the wisdom of Kabbalah also teaches how we can become masters of our egos. We do not destroy it or suppress it, but rather harness its powers for positive purposes and make it work for the common good. This is why Kabbalah students are on the one hand very individual, but on the other hand are highly committed to society and collaborate enthusiastically for everyone’s success.
Especially today, when the ego is destroying every part of human society, and every person individually, it is especially important to know how we can rein the ego and use it constructively. Therefore, those who are ready and willing to learn Kabbalah seriously have much to gain from their studies, and society will gain from their learning even more than they themselves will gain.