A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth

A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth: Part 65 – A Question of Timing

This last skill of understanding and properly implementing reward and punishment corresponds to the sefirah of malchut ("kingdom"), which is the realm of manifest reality.

When we examined the sefirot of chochmah ("wisdom"), binah ("understanding"), and da'at ("knowledge"), we saw their influence on the educator's design of a general, theoretical approach to education. When we examined the sefirah of yesod ("foundation"), we saw it as the intermediate state between pure, abstract knowledge and action. Malchut is the concrete realization of the plans formulated earlier. At this point the education has either worked or not, and the teacher must implement the tools of both reward and punishment to ensure that the original intention is accomplished.

Malchut ("kingdom") is the domain of the king, who has the authority and know-how to rule his subjects. For this he needs various implements of control–weapons, so to speak. The king has a vision of the perfection of his kingdom and he must bring this idea into actuality, utilizing the tools of reward and punishment, praise and criticism.

The king's knowledge of how to distribute proper reward and punishment comes from his own obedience to the King of Kings. The inner expression of spiritual service in the sefirah of malchut is humility. The king can rule justly, only when he epitomizes a state of submission to God.

God utilizes the cosmic system of reward and punishment to perfect the human being's mental, emotional, and physical bodies. The king–or the educator in this case–uses these same tools, reflecting Divine Providence in his actions.

Thus we see that malchut is the sphere advising and correcting the student's response. Essential to both is a developed sense of timing, the ability to recognize the appropriate moment and to wait if need be.

Both Adam's sin with the Tree of Knowledge and David's sin with Bathsheba were sins of mistiming. In both cases, the time had not come, the moment had not ripened. Eventually, Adam would have been allowed to eat from the Tree, and David was clearly meant to marry Bathsheba, who became the mother of King Solomon.

This sensitivity to timing is a property of the king. In Hebrew the word for "crown" (keter) can also means "wait." The king is one who understands the secret of waiting, and can sense the proper moment for action.


In Hebrew, the word for "face," panim, shares a root with the word for "inner dimension," pnimiut. Rectified education, on all levels, must be "face to face."  It is upon the educator to focus on the very inner dimension of his/her students. He must evaluate and respond to his student's needs and talents, and discover the areas in which they "shine." The detailed description of the different stages of education brought to you in this series should help every person in an educating role to focus on the inner dimension of his/her students, and to build a truly caring relationship with them, according to each individual's particular aptitudes.

Modern society focuses on fulfilling the personal desires of the individual. This creates a society of "back to back" relationships, with each individual interested in pleasing only himself. The beginning of the rectification of this sorry state is to implement the "face to face" approach in our relationships with others–to create true and rectified education, predicated on honest caring for the student. This type of education requires of the educator to be committed to others. It leads to rectified interpersonal relationships in which each person can apply his rectified inner self to our ultimate goal–to help to rectify the world and to bring the Mashiach.

This has been the final chapter of Kabbalah and Education. These chapters are now going through editing in preparation of the publishing of a new hard-cover book.

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