The Way: Using the Wisdom of Kabbalah (2001)
“There was once a great scholar named Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin, who had become known as the Netziv. He had many students and he had written dozens of books. One day the Netziv spoke to his students about how he had chosen his life’s path, and this is the story he told:
“When I was ten years old, I was a poor student. When I went to class, I fooled around. I didn’t listen to my teachers. I was in trouble all the time. And one day I was in my room and I heard my mother crying as she talked with my father. I sneaked up to their bedroom door and listened. My mother said, ‘What are we going to do with Naftali? He doesn’t study. He’s failing his classes. They don’t want to allow him back in school. Without schooling, he’ll never amount to anything.’ I was shocked. I felt terrible that I had brought so much anguish to my mother. I dragged myself back to my room, and I made a decision — from that day on I would focus on my studies and stop fooling around and listen to my teachers so that my mother would be happy again. And as you can see, I continued my studies, and I became a scholar, and now I’m a teacher with thousands of students and I’ve written many books.” (Pages 20-21)
He then relates what would have happened if he hadn’t heard his mother crying that day. Sure, he would have been a good person, he would have given to charity, he would have gone to synagogue. But when he died and went to meet the Creator, he would have been surprised to find that he had disappointed the Creator. Why?
“The Creator would have a right to be disappointed because had I not heard my mother that day, I would not have reached my potential. Living a good, simple life — even a spiritual life — was not enough. Because the fact is all of us are put into this world with a particular job to do. Just because a person lives a good life doesn’t mean that he accomplished what he was put into this world to do. And if we don’t accomplish what we were put here to do, we disappoint the Creator, and we’ve wasted our lives...
“So the only way we can hope to achieve what we came into this world to accomplish, the only way we can hope to satisfy the Creator, is to always push ourselves to the limits of our potential and never be satisfied with our spiritual accomplishments. Our job in this world is not about being a good person, or a spiritual person, or a wise person. It’s not about giving a little charity or being nice to people and attending synagogue. And though we may not know exactly what we came here for, we do know that without a constant push to change for the better, without our constant endeavor toward spiritual growth, we can never hope to fulfill our potential. And this is what the Creator expects of us.” (Page 22)
The Qabalistic Tree of Life
I have tried to present this image many times before, but I think this one makes it clearer (at least to me). I like the colour coding, the translations, and the fact that the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are represented by the Major Arcana of the Tarot. They are the ‘paths’ to enlightenment. And the following image is one I’ve used before:
“It will be seen that it consists of two circles: one male/clockwise/solar circle representing the masculine principle; and one feminine/anti-clockwise/lunar circle representing the feminine principle. When the cards are placed in this pattern, the circular designs of The Wheel and The World occur at the intersection. The cards of the male circle turn outwards, symbolizing extroversion, activity and interaction with the physical world, while the female circle turns inwards symbolizing introspection, passivity and the cultivation of psychic qualities. The cards of the male circle are numbered clockwise 0 to 9 (single figures) and the cards of the female circle are numbered anti-clockwise 11 to 20 (double figures).” (from “The Refiner’s Fire” )
Maybe I already knew this when I quoted that statement in 1991: movement and rest…