Kabbalistic view of the Creation

"You have not a blade of grass below that does not have an angel above, which strikes it and tells it, `Grow!'"

First, we must understand the Creator--He is the Absolute Goodness. This means that it is utterly impossible that He would ever cause any sorrow to any person. [...] And because we realize that the Creator is, in and of Himself, complete and needs no one to help Him to completion, since He precedes everything, it is therefore clear that He does not have any will to receive. And because He has no will to receive, He is fundamentally devoid of a desire to harm anyone; it is as simple as that. Furthermore, it is completely agreeable to our mind as the first concept, that He possesses a desire to bestow goodness upon others, meaning to His creatures. And that is evidently shown by the great Creation that He has created and set before our eyes. For in this world there are beings that necessarily experience either a good feeling or a bad one, and that feeling necessarily comes to them from the Creator. And once it is absolutely clear that there is no aim to harm in the nature of the Creator, it necessitates that the creatures receive only goodness from Him, for He has created them only to bestow upon them. Thus we learn that He has only a desire to bestow goodness, and it is utterly impossible that any harmfulness might be in His domain, which could emit from Him.

Hence we have defined Him as "The Absolute Good." And after we have learned that, let us take a look at the actual reality that is guided by Him, and how He bestows only goodness upon them.

By observing nature's systems, we understand that any beings of the four types-- still, vegetative, animate and speaking--as a whole and in particular, are found to be under purposeful guidance, meaning a slow and gradual growth by way of cause and effect, as a fruit on a tree, which is guided with favourable guidance to finally become a sweet and fine-looking fruit. Go and ask a botanist how many phases the fruit undergoes from the time it becomes visible until it is completely ripe. Not only do its preceding phases show no evidence of its sweet and fine-looking end, but as if to vex, they show the opposite of the final outcome. The sweeter the fruit is at its end, the more bitter and unsightly it is in the earlier phases of its development.

And so it is with the animate and speaking types: for the beast, whose mind is little at its end, is not so wanting while it grows. Whereas man, whose mind is great at his end, is very wanting while developing. "A day-old calf is called an ox"; that is, it has the strength to stand on its own legs and walk, and the intelligence to avoid hazards on its way. But a day-old infant lies seemingly senseless. And should one who is not accustomed to the conducts of this world examine these two newborns, he would certainly conclude that the human infant will amount to nothing and the calf will turn out to be a great hero, if he were to judge by the wisdom of the calf compared to the senseless and mindless child.

Thus, it is evident that His guidance over the reality that He has created is in the form of purposeful Guidance, without taking into consideration the order of the phases of development, for they deceive us and prevent us from understanding their purpose, being always opposite to their final shape. It is about such matters that we say, "There is none so wise as the experienced." Only one who is experienced has the opportunity to examine Creation in all its phases of development, all the way through completion, and can calm things down, so as to not fear those spoilt images that the Creation undergoes in the phases of its development, but believe in its fine and pure end. Thus, we have thoroughly shown the conducts of His Providence in our world, which is only a purposeful Guidance. The attribute of goodness is not at all apparent before Creation arrives at its completion, its final ripeness. On the contrary, it rather always takes a form of corruption in the eyes of the beholders. Thus you see that the Creator bestows upon His creatures only goodness, but that goodness comes by way of purposeful Guidance.

[...]This is similar to a great king who had a son at old age, and he was very fond of him. Hence, since the day he was born, he thought of only good things for him. He collected the finest, wisest, and most precious books in the kingdom and built him a school. He sent after the finest builders and built palaces of pleasure. He gathered all the musicians and singers and built him concert halls, and called the finest bakers and chefs to provide him with all the delicacies in the world. But alas, the son grew up to be a fool, with no desire for education. And he was blind and could not see or feel the beauty of the buildings. And he was deaf, unable to hear the poems and the music. And he was ill, permitted to eat only coarse flour bread, arising contempt and wrath.

However, such a thing may happen to a flesh and blood king, but that is impossible to say about the Creator, where there cannot be any deceit. Therefore, He has prepared for us two paths of development: The first is a path of suffering, which is the conduct of development of Creation from within itself. By its own nature it is compelled to follow a way of cause and effect, in varying, consecutive states, which slowly develop us, until we come to a resolution to choose the good and reject the bad, and to be qualified for the purpose as He desires. And that path is indeed a long and painful one. Therefore, He has prepared for us a pleasant and gentle way [...] which can qualify us for our purpose painlessly and quickly. It turns out that our final aim is to be qualified for adhesion with Him--for Him to reside within us. That aim is a certainty and there is no way to deviate from it, since His guidance supervises us in both paths, which are the path of suffering and the path of [voluntary self-education]. But looking at the actual reality, we find that His guidance comes simultaneously in both paths, which our sages refer to as "the way of the earth" and "the way of [voluntary self-education]."

[...]I would like to clear up the essence of that development, which is attained through [voluntary self-education]. Bear in mind that it is the recognition of the evil within us. That engagement in [voluntary self-education] can slowly and gradually purify those who dwelve in [it]. And the scale by which we measure the degrees of cleansing is the measurement of the recognition of the evil within us. Man is naturally ready to repel and root out any evil from within him. In that, all people are the same. But the difference between one person and the next is only in the recognition of evil. A more developed person recognizes in himself a greater amount of evil, and hence repels and separates the evil from within to a greater extent. The undeveloped senses in himself only a small amount of evil, and will therefore repel only a small amount of evil. As a result, he leaves all his filth within, for he does not recognize it as filth.

[...]Bear in mind that two forces serve to push us up the rungs of the aforementioned ladder, until we reach its head in the sky, which is the purposeful point of equivalence of form with our Maker. And the difference between these two forces is that the first pushes us from behind, which we defined as "the path of pain" or "the way of the earth." These experiments come to us by chance, not as a result of our conscious choice, but they are certain to lead us to their goal, for the image of evil grows ever clearer to our senses. And to the extent that we recognize its damages, we remove ourselves from it and then climb to a higher rung on the ladder. The second force pulls us consciously, that is, of our own choice. That force pulls us from before, and that is what we defined as "the path of [voluntary self-education]."

[...] Everything in reality, good and bad, and even the most harmful in the world, has a right to exist and should not be eradicated from the world and destroyed. We must only mend and reform it because any observation of the work of Creation is enough to teach us about the greatness and perfection of its Operator and Creator. Therefore, we must understand and be very careful when casting a flaw in any item of Creation, saying it is redundant and superfluous, as that would be slander about its Operator. It is common knowledge that the Creator did not complete Creation when He created it. And we can see in every corner of reality, in the general and in the particular, that it abides by laws of gradual development, from absence to completion of growth. For this reason, when the fruit tastes bitter at the beginning of its growth, it is not considered a flaw in the fruit, since we all know the reason: fruit has not yet completed its development. And so it is in every element of reality: when some element appears bad and harmful to us, it is but a self-testimony of that element; that it is still in the transition phase--in the process of its development. Hence, we cannot decide that it is bad and it is not wise for us to cast a flaw in it.

[...]We must know that the above-mentioned law of development, which is spread over the whole of reality, is guaranteed to return all evil to good and useful acts through the power of the Government of Heaven Above, meaning without asking permission from the people who inhabit the earth. However, the Creator placed knowledge and authority in the hands of man and permitted him to accept the above-mentioned law of development under his own authority and government, and handed him the ability to hasten the process of development as he wishes, freely and completely independent of the boundaries of time. It turns out that there are two authorities here, acting in the above-mentioned conduct of development: the one is the authority of Heaven, which is sure to turn anything harmful and evil to good and useful, but that will be in due time, in its own way, in a floundering manner and after a long time. And then there is the authority of the earth. And when the "evolving object" is a living being, it suffers horrendous torments while under the "press of development," a press that carves its way ruthlessly.

The "authority of the earth," however, is comprised of people who have taken this above-mentioned law of development under their own government and can free themselves entirely from the chains of time, and who greatly accelerate time, the completion of the ripeness and correction of the object, which is the end of its development. [...] Thus, if [...][they] take the law of development that their bad attributes must go through in order to invert them into good ones, they will bring it under their own government. [...] But if they are not rewarded with developing their bad attributes under their own authority, but leave it under the Authority of Heaven, they, too, are certain to attain the end of their redemption and the end of their correction. This is because there is complete certainty in the Government of Heaven, which operates by the law of gradual development, degree by degree, until it turns any evil and harmful to good and useful, as the fruit on a tree.

[...] For the first concept is that there is no act without a purpose.Therefore, it is certain that the Creator, whose exaltedness is beyond conception, would not act--be it a great or a small act--without a purpose. [...] the aim of the Creator from the time He created His Creation is to reveal His Godliness to others. [...]But here come the Kabbalists and ask, why were we not created in this high stature of adhesion to begin with? What reason did He have to burden us with this labor of Creation ? And they replied: "He who eats that which is not his, is afraid to look at his face." This means that one who eats and enjoys the labor of one's friend is afraid to look at his face because by doing so he becomes increasingly humiliated until he loses his human form. And because that which extends from His wholeness cannot be deficient, He gave us room to earn our exaltedness by ourselves.

[...]This matter is like a rich man who took a man from the market and fed him and gave him gold and silver and all desirables every day. And each day he showered him with more gifts than the day before. Finally, the rich man asked, "Do tell me, have all your wishes been fulfilled?" And he replied, "Not all of my wishes have been fulfilled, for how good and how pleasant it would be if all those possessions and precious things came to me through my own work, as they have come to you, and I would not be receiving the charity of your hand." Then the rich man told him: "In this case, there has never been born a person who could fulfill your wishes." It is a natural thing, since on the one hand, he experiences greater and greater pleasure, the more he showers presents upon him, but on the other, it is hard for him to tolerate the shame for the excessive goodness that the rich bestows upon him. This is because there is a natural law that the receiver feels shame and impatience upon receiving gifts from the giver out of compassion and pity. From here extends a second law, that never will anyone be able to satisfy the needs of his friend to the fullest, because ultimately he will not be able to give him the nature and the form of self-possession, as only with it is the desired perfection attained.

But this relates only to the creatures, whereas regarding the Creator, it is completely impossible and unacceptable. And this is the reason He has prepared for us the toil and the labor, to produce our exaltedness by ourselves, because then the delight and pleasure that comes to us from Him, meaning everything that is included in the adhesion with Him, will all be our own possession that has come to us through our own efforts. Then we will feel ourselves as the owners, without which there cannot be a sensation of wholeness.

Indeed, we need to examine the heart and the source of this natural law, and who it was that fathered the flaw of shame and impatience that we feel upon receiving charity from another. It is understood from a law that is known to scientists, that each branch bears the same nature as its root, and that the branch also desires, seeks, and craves, and benefits from all the conducts of the root. Conversely, all the conducts that are not in the root, its branch removes itself from them, cannot tolerate them, and is harmed by them. This law exists between each root and its branch and cannot be breached. Now here opens before us a door to understand the source of all the pleasures and pains in our world.

Since the Creator is the root of His creations, we feel all that exists in Him and extends to us directly from Him as pleasant and delightful, because our nature is close to our root. And everything that is not in Him, and does not extend to us directly from Him, but contradicts Creation itself, will be against our nature and difficult for us to tolerate. Thus, we love to rest and hate to move so much, that we do not make a single movement if not for the attainment of rest. That is because our root is immobile but at rest, and no motion exists in Him whatsoever. Therefore, it is against our nature and loathsome to us. By the same token, we love wisdom, strength, and wealth, etc. because all those exist in Him who is our root. And hence, we hate their opposites, such as foolishness, weakness, and poverty, since they do not exist in our root at all. This makes us feel hateful and loathsome, and pains us immeasurably.

This is what gives us the foul taste of shame and impatience when we receive from others by way of charity, because in the Creator there is no such thing as reception of favors, because from whom would He receive? And because this element does not exist in our root, we feel it as repulsive and loathsome. On the other hand, we feel delight and pleasure every time we bestow upon others, since that conduct exists in our root, which it gives to all.

Now we have found a way to examine the purpose of Creation, which is to cleave unto Him, in its true appearance. This exaltedness and adhesion, which is guaranteed to come to us through our work, is no more and no less than the equivalence of the branches with their root. All the gentleness and pleasure and sublimity become a natural extension here, as we have said above, that pleasure is only the equivalence of form with its Maker. And when we equalize with every conduct in our root, we sense delight. Also, everything we encounter that is not in our root becomes intolerable, disgusting, or considerably painful to us, as is necessitated by that concept. And we naturally find that our very hope depends on the extent of our equivalence of form with our root.

[Source: various writings of Rabbi Yehuda Leib Ha-Levi Ashlag; the terms specific to the mozaic religion ("Torah" and "Mitzvot") were replaced with the expression "voluntary self-education"]