A Time for Doing
Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag z'l
translated from “Matan Torah” (The Gift of the Torah) by Mark Cohen z′l
It has been a long time now that qualms of consciousness have been pursuing me every day, forcing me to move outside my usual boundaries and to write a fundamental essay concerning the soul of Judaism and of that of religion in general and to say something about the sources of the wisdom of the Kabbalah. To publicize generally in order to enable people to recognize and understand this material which stands at the summit of the world, as is fitting to its true character and quality.
Formerly amongst the Jewish people, before the printing press was invented, there were no spurious books that touched on matters close to the soul of Judaism, because then there were practically no authors who wrote irresponsibly. The reason for this is quite simple: An irresponsible person is generally not deemed to be an important figure. Therefore even if such a person dared to author such a book, it would not be worth any scribe’s time to copy it as no one would pay him for copying such a book— which at that period was an expensive undertaking —and so the manuscript would automatically become lost.
In that period people who really knew Kabbalah would not trouble with people of this sort because in any case the knowledge of the Kabbalah in that period was not necessary for most of the people. On the contrary, they were interested to conceal their teachings, for the reason of: “It is for the honor of God that matters are concealed” (Prov. 25:2). We are commanded to conceal the soul of the Torah and inner spiritual work from those who either don’t need it or for those whom it is not appropriate for them to be involved in this work. We may not demean this material by exhibiting it in windows to be seen by idle passers-by or vain people. The honor of God obligates us not to cheapen the soul of the Torah in this way.
However, printing has now spread everywhere, scribes are no longer necessary and the price of books has come down dramatically, the way is open for irresponsible authors to produce whatever books they fancy for whatever dubious motives, such as making money and for self-glorification. They do not take into consideration their qualifications or even stop to consider the quality of their work.
From the beginning of the invention of the printing press, such books began to multiply, written by people who never learnt properly and certainly did not learn privately and intimately from a qualified master Kabbalist. They even have no idea of the early works of Kabbalah that have been published and are relevant to the issue. They make up all kinds of suppositions and string together bits and pieces that they have heard here and there and they claim that this is the soul of the nation and its priceless treasure. The general public does not know to be careful of such texts and they have no way of differentiating between a true text and a false one, and so mistaken and confused ideas proliferate. In exchange for the satisfaction of the pathetic lusts of these books’ authors, the masses of people are led astray for generations.
Lately the stench of such people has been growing, as they have been clawing away at the wisdom of Kabbalah, without their being aware that this material is locked and bolted with a thousand seals which are still in place. Anyone who comes in touch with this material who does not possess the key to its understanding will be unable to understand even one word correctly and of course will be completely incapable of understanding the connection between one word and the next! All the true books of Kabbalah that have been written, up to this very day, consist only of oblique hints that are barely adequate for a totally qualified pupil, learning directly from a master. In our days, such people have multiplied, who publish books (and also other media) of this sort, and who make a complete hotchpotch out of the material and which are absolutely disgusting for anyone who reads them.
Some of these people even go further and put themselves up on a pedestal and act as if they were the true leaders of the generation. They purport to tell people with authority which of the books of the earlier Kabbalists, may their memory be for a blessing, are worth reading and which (God forbid) are not worth reading as they contain misleading elements. Such clarification was limited only to one head out of ten generations, and now ignoramuses are abusing this role.
For this reason the view of the general public of the heart of our tradition has become thoroughly confused. Not only this, but an atmosphere of disrespect and lack of value for the material has been created. Everyone thinks that it is enough to flick through this material whenever they have a spare moment, when the material is actually of great worth, and they pass fleetingly over the whole world of the high wisdom, which is the source of the soul of the Judaism itself, arriving at whatever conclusions they see fit, according to their own feeling.
These are the reasons that I have gone beyond my normal boundaries and I have decided, on the grounds of (Ps. 119:126) “A time to do for God” and to save what it is still possible to save. So I have taken it upon myself to reveal a measured amount of truly authentic material from the sources and to publish it to the world.
If you would like to listen to a short audio talk by Yedidah Cohen on the need for authentic Kabbalah click listen now