A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth

A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth: Part 14 – The Power to Renew and the Strength to Endure

Until now, we have discussed inspiration and integration as two separate and sequential stages in the educational process. This oversimplification was necessary to communicate the unique character of each, and to present the basic model of their interaction. In reality, each is an ongoing process of its own. The two can be visualized as parallel themes that together form the backbone of education and character development.

The state of initiation/inspiration is sustained through time and expressed as a continuous sense of rebirth and renewal: "Each day should be in your eyes like a new beginning." Kabbalah teaches that the secret of long life is the ability to recognize every moment as an original creation.

An educator should train his students to verify this truth on three different levels of reality:

  1. World level

  2. Self level

  3. Torah level

On the World level, the teacher seeks to make his students  constantly aware of the continual renewal of the universe; sensitizing them to the light and love of God which radiates from above and recreates the entire universe, from absolute nothing, in each instant.  

How can the students believe (much less verify) a notion such as this, especially since it seems to bear no relationship to their every day experience?

Once they begin to truly study the world around them and extend its laws to include the entirety of creation, they will confirm at least the likelihood of such a premise. They will see that the universe needs a constant supply of energy to maintain its existence, in the same way that a light bulb needs a continuous flow of electricity to maintain its glow. Yet, here the comparison ends, for when the plug is pulled and electricity ceases to flow, the bulb continues to exist, the only difference is that now it doesn’t shine. Creation's dependence upon its Creator is more profound than this. If God were to pull the plug not only would everything cease to shine, it would cease to exist altogether. The entirety of creation–not only its energy and life force–is totally and continually dependent upon God's constantly renewed will for it to exist.

This level–the World level–is the most important as it sets the stage for the remaining two.

On the Self level, the teacher requires his students to experience the continual rebirth of their own self, and rejoice in the unfolding of infinite possibilities for personal and spiritual growth arising within that moment. Each instant brings challenge and an opportunity to choose good. It is through this privilege of choice, that human beings transform their lives into vehicles of Godliness.

On the Torah level, the teacher wants his students to experience the revelation of Torah anew, in perfect conformity to the students' needs, and in accordance with exactly those truths and symbols that are most relevant for them at that time. Thus it is possible to read the same Torah week after week, year after year, over and over again, and always draw a new and timely insight that "coincidentally" applies to a problem or question at hand.

These three levels of awareness are related each to the other. As part of a continually recreated universe, all participate in its ongoing renewal. This, in turn, inspires a sense of perpetual youthfulness and enthusiasm that will color every experience, particularly in relation to God's law as it is expressed in the Torah.

The sages teach that "the Torah is revealed anew each day," yet if we are stiff and stale, jaded and world-weary, we cannot appreciate its freshness. How can we who study the same subject year after year maintain a sense of vitality in our learning? We can, but only if we understand that with each day we become a different person, with new needs and deeper questions. Thus we probe and discover the dimensions of Torah that can satisfy this new "self." This requires us to read new material that we have not studied previously, as well as to discover further profundities in that which is already familiar to us. God reveals His Torah over and over, day after day, century after century, and we must renew ourselves continually, in order to appreciate the unique and singular truth of each moment.

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