Rav Laitman’s Talk on August 19, 2005
Starting to perceive the Upper World, a Kabbalist enters a different dimension. An entire world is revealed before him in its entire beauty and wealth. It is something that does not exist in this world. He perceives an entirely different picture: forces that bring our world into action, and souls that are not attached to bodies. Past, present and future stand before him in the present, he experiences all of this and lives fulfilled with the eternal, perfect sensation, feeling that he encompasses the whole universe.
This deep, emotional experience is impossible to express through words. In their books, Kabbalists only advise us on how to attain such an impression, sensation, and discovery of this reality. They write about the kind of actions that we must perform inside of ourselves, with our own strength, desires, screens, Reshimot; with everything inside of our soul. “Perform certain actions and you will feel.” However, they do not say what we will feel, because it is impossible to convey a feeling.
It is the same in this world. If I want to make an offer to someone: “Try, and you’ll see what it’s like!,” whether or not it is bitter or sweet, one thing or the other, I only hint at what he is going to sense, or at how he will achieve the sensation. Yet the sensation itself, when he is being filled with it, is experienced only by him, and not by anyone else.
That is why it is difficult for a Kabbalist to convey to us what he feels, what he faces, what is being revealed before him: what the concealed world is. In essence, from all of the means of our world that we can use for giving some kind of an idea, or for creating some kind of a picture and conveying it to people who do not experience spirituality; there is only one medium that somehow expresses the impressions and delight of a man, before whom the Upper World reveals itself—sound.
However, even sounds cannot convey impressions precisely, for we do not have the same Kelim, desires, the same sensory organs and organs of inner attributes as those of Kabbalists, who attain and sense the Upper Worlds. Sounds give us an impression as some simile, some weak duplicate.
This is why Kabbalists, in addition to writing articles and very deep, difficult material, also write songs, melodies. It is one more way to express the sensations of a Kabbalist in a more concise manner, directly from heart to heart, through sounds, without words—so that these sounds would enter our heart and change us in some way, somehow tuning us into perceiving the Upper World.
There is a soul in each one of us. The soul of a Kabbalist resembles a musical instrument that already plays properly and feels properly, similar to David’s violin. This is not a regular violin as it is usually portrayed on pictures, but the inner Kli of a Kabbalist’s soul, inside of which he feels reality in a certain way and can express it through sounds. This is why King David was able to write a book of Psalms for us that is fully composed of the impressions of the Upper World.
We have an enormous gift from the last great Kabbalist of our generation, Rav Yehuda HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam), who was given this name due to his commentary on The Zohar—Sulam (The Ladder). In his melodies, he in essence expressed all of the steps and all of the sensations of the Upper Worlds.
By listening to these melodies, we come closer to the true sensation of the Upper Reality, spirituality. By listening to them, one gradually draws closer and, as though, enters the Upper World. Of course, he still lacks inner attributes, which he receives in the study process, through listening to lessons. However, in any case, for every person regardless of how much he knows and how long he or she has been studying Kabbalah, the sounds are the shortest, most direct, and simplest means for experiencing something from the spiritual.
In the Upper World, a Kabbalist feels states that are better or worse, negative and positive forces; he exists between them, governs them, while they govern him. This is really similar to what we feel in this world. A Kabbalist expresses all of these states through melodies.
This is why there are seemingly sad melodies and there are more joyful ones. But in reality this is how we hear them. A Kabbalist who listens to this melody and senses pictures that it awakens, feels only excitement.
These sounds may seem sorrowful; a melody may be sad, but in reality it is not sad, it is full of excitement, and only in our sounds is it expressed as certain sadness, as if a person who wrote the sounds lacks something. This is how it seems to us, for in our world we use letters, notes, lacks of fulfillment, Kelim, and not the Light that fulfills them. We can feel only the Kelim, and not the Lights.
But in either case, when one listens to this music, he slowly approaches the state in which these Kelim are being filled with the Light. He will then feel the same inner experiences that a Kabbalist feels.
I wish that all of you would become worthy of feeling those vast spaces, sensations, the entire Upper World, the Creator, the Upper Light that fills the soul, our collective Kli in each melody of all 125 songs in the book of Psalms. Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) thought about us. He wanted us to come closer to this state, which is why he left us his melodies. Let’s listen to them, and reflect on these melodies as being the means for entering the Upper World.
Bnei Heichala means “the sons of King’s Palace,” those desiring to reach the Palace of the King. The King’s Palace is Bina—the property of bestowal, the force of the Creator, the spiritual. The sons are those who yearn to resemble the King in their properties, to become like Him. The word for “Son” (Ben) derives from the word for “understands” (Havana). They yearn to understand the King, and though their understanding, come closer to Him and feel Him.
Hence, Bnei Heichala are the souls aspiring to attain the state of uniting the King in His Palace. For this, they are ready to pass the entire system of corrections, change themselves from the beginning until the end—from the nature in which they were created to the nature of the King, as it is written: “Returned the sons of Israel to the height of their God.” This is what this song is about.
When we reach such a state and become Bnei Heichala, it is called The Final Correction. This is why we sing this song during Mincha (evening prayer) on Shabbat. Shabbat symbolizes the ascents, during which this entire world rises to the Upper World completely and then we all enter the palace of the King.
This is how it is going to be at the end of the development of all humanity—The Final Correction. However, there are souls that are already attaining this state today. This is expressed in three ascents of the Worlds on Shabbat. Those who undergo their individual correction, who study Kabbalah, feel three ascents on Shabbat. The first ascent—in the evening, during the onset of Shabbat; the second—the next day, Shabbat morning, and the third, the biggest ascent during Mincha, at the end of day, when Shabbat ends. And then, during this highest state, we sing the song Bnei Heichala.
The lyrics of this song are composed by the Holy Ari, and the melody—by Baal HaSulam. For this reason, due to the unification of The Ari and Baal HaSulam in one composition, we, entering into this song, really reach the highest ascent that a Kabbalist can experience before the general Final Correction, whereas the entire world rises to that very Palace.
Thus this is a very elevated song, like an anthem of that ascent. This state, so far, is being attained only by those who study Kabbalah, and later, as we expect, all of humankind will attain it.
Ki Hilatzta Nafshi
Ki Hilatzta Nafshi are the words from Psalms. These are the words that David used to express his state which he felt as he ascended in his attainment to the state of complete correction of his entire soul. Then he turned to the Upper Force, the Creator, with these worlds: Ki Hilatzta Nafshi—“Thank you for saving my soul.”
The melody to this song was composed by my Teacher, the last great Kabbalist of our generation, Rabbi Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (Rabash). He sang this song to me more than once.
Perhaps this melody seems sad to us, but the truth is that it is not sad, it is tender, and it expresses the feeling of someone who entered the property of Bina—bestowal, the properties of the Creator—where there are no cries and everything rests in peace. Rabash expresses the entering into this state through this melody, when he undoubtedly sees that all of his Kelim, his entire soul, all of his desires submit to this Upper Force and begin to reign in it.
This is a short song. It sings about serene peace, about a man entering the Upper Force and staying there in the state of absolute, eternal rest.
Tzadik Ke Tamar Ifrach
Basically, there are two states in every song. One is the state of the Kli, the soul on which man has worked, corrected, and then attained delight and excitement; and he now sings from this delight.
This is why in Tzadik ke Tamar Ifrach there is a sensation of the previous state when one lacked fulfillment, suffered, and searched, and that he reached the state in which he knows that this is how it was supposed to be, because a righteous man eventually comes to justify the entire process through which he passed.
Thus, the rapture that comes from before being in the outermost oppositeness of sensing himself very distant from the Creator, and now entering the palace of the King, the Upper World, bursts out in his present state in the form of a melody—from within the sensation that fills him.
This sensation encompasses two opposite states: his previous, most distanced state that seems hopelessly far from the Upper, and the present state when he has reached adhesion with Him.
In essence, this song is special because what one is grateful for is not his state. Rather, one is grateful for being able to be righteous, meaning for being able to justify the Creator in all that happened to him on his path. Now he sees the causality and the pressing necessity of all the states that he passed. He understands that all of them were arranged for him from above so that he can attain this elevated state.
Hasal Seder Pesach
Hasal Seder Pesach expresses the state of a person in the beginning of his path: he is full of energy, he is ready for this journey, and knows that the process of correction lies in front of him until he corrects himself to receive the Light, the Torah. But in exodus from Egypt, rising above his nature he already sees a full guarantee that, with the help from above, he has the power and he is able to, in all that is prepared for him, pass these 49 gates, corrections, the so called Lag Ba Omer (the 33rd day of Omer), in the middle and all the days of Omer in order to come to the reception of the Torah, to Shavuot, for then the entire Kli of man will be ready for the 50th gate, and he will be worthy of receiving the Light.
This is a fairly simple song. It particularly symbolizes one’s readiness to go and pass all Sefirot of Omer—the entire correction of the Kelim that we must perform in each Sefira, in each of these 49 states.
Leagid Ba Boker Hasdecha
Leagid Ba Boker Hasdecha expresses states that we experience. In our world, when we fall asleep, we, in essence, lose awareness, disconnect from the world, from life. We enter a state of being detached from life, and are left only with so called Kista de Chayuta—a level of minimal life in us when, in essence, we are not sure whether (if we can ask it this way) we will rise after sleep or not. So why do we rise? All of a sudden, we receive some awakening from within, and then we wake up and again continue our life on a new day.
But this state in which we disconnect from reality and enter into dreams is very special. Similar states exist in the spiritual as well, and this is because everything that exists in the corporeal is the result of the spiritual.
This is why in the spiritual there are also states called “day,” “evening,” and “morning,” only that, in the spiritual, all of them happen because man himself creates “day,” “night,” and all of the times; he puts himself through all these states by himself. If he does not take himself through these states, if he does not push himself, does not advance, then time does not pass, for there is no time in the spiritual. There are only actions, cause and effect.
So until one “goes to sleep,” in the spiritual sense, meaning, disconnects from the spiritual reality and puts himself into drowsiness, disconnection from the spiritual—the Creator, the Upper Forces—a question arises: “Due to what will he awaken again?” This is why one performs special corrections whereby he prepares the desire to “rise” inside of himself. If one prepares himself correctly, the Upper Light comes against these desires and awakens him, just as the Sun awakens us in the mornings. However, without the Light that comes from above, one will not be able to wake up.
In essence, this is why after one “rose in the morning,” meaning, awakened again for the spiritual (this is called “rise” in the spiritual), he praises the Upper Force, the Creator who awakened him and gave him the awakening for reaching the goal of creation, corrections, sublime, eternal, perfect states. And then one sings: “proclaim Your mercy in the morning,” because this is really mercy from the Higher that awakens him.
“Waltz” is a very special melody. It is truly classical, with all the characteristics of a waltz, corresponding to our traditions. This melody does not belong to Baal HaSulam, although it did come to us through him. He heard it from his Rav, Admor from Pursov, who educated him. Baal HaSulam lived in Warsaw, just like his parents. There was a small village close to Warsaw, Pursov, and in this village lived Rabbi from Pursov—this is how he was called. He was a Kabbalist. When Baal HaSulam grew a little, he began to go to him together with his father, who took him along. Baal HaSulam’s father also studied with Rabbi from Pursov. Gradually, as Baal HaSulam grew up, Rabbi from Pursov started to draw him closer to himself, explain to him and slowly introduce him to the inner part of the Torah; not Gmarah, Pentateuch and all the regular books, but to the inner part of the Torah—the Science of Kabbalah.
Through him, Baal HaSulam attained the revelation of the Creator, the spiritual, and became a Kabbalist. Throughout a certain period of time, Baal HaSulam was very close to him, but he later started to discover that he surpassed his teacher’s level. Baal HaSulam then left him and went to the land of Israel. This is what Rabash, the oldest son of Baal HaSulam, told me.
This melody came from Rabbi from Pursov, passed onto Baal HaSulam, from him—to my Rav, and I heard it from him.
Kel Mistater is a song that we sing toward the end of Shabbat, at the end of the day, when we are already approaching the coming out, the end, of Shabbat. The end of Shabbat is the time when the Divine Shechinah (Sanctity) that comes to man during the spiritual ascent starts purposefully abandoning him, leaving him in darkness, in the lack of fulfillment so that all that he received on Shabbat serves as the driving energy for an independent attainment of what he received as a gift on Shabbat.
Shabbat is called “a gift.” As it is written in the Torah, the Creator said: “A good gift have I for Israel and Shabbat is her name. Go and tell them.” (Talmud, Shabbat 10b) Shabbat is truly a gift. Why? A gift is something that is not given to man as a reward, for he has not labored for it. A gift is given to him out of love.
And so is Shabbat—from above comes the Upper Force called Shabbat. Of course, it comes to a Kabbalist, to a person who desires to come closer to the Creator, one who devotes himself to spiritual progress, and not to a regular person. The Upper Force comes from above and a person is inevitably awakened by it. He experiences various sensations, phenomena that he does not yet deserve according to his Kelim, but which are given to him as a gift.
A person is granted his ascent, his revelation, but after some time this sensation begins to wane and end. Then a person says: Kel Mistater—“The Creator is hiding,” “You, the Creator, have revealed Yourself to me in the state of Shabbat as a gift, and now you go away from me again in your hiding. I understand that this is necessary so that I can come closer and reveal You even on ‘low’ days, meaning at the time of Your concealment, on weekdays, when I am in the state of weekdays separated from sanctity. But I must ensure that all days of the week connect to the degree of Shabbat.” This is the song of a person who has experienced the Creator.
This song expresses the sensations of all ten Sefirot—Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevurah, Tifferent, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, and Malchut—and this is because one perceived the properties of the Creator in them, and now, as he goes into concealment and the Creator distances Himself, he knows exactly what he needs to attain by himself. This is already inscribed in him as Reshimot, and he acquired the strength for this from being given the state of Shabbat. Now, during the week a person raises himself to the level of the previous Shabbat, and later, when the following Shabbat comes, for him it will be an even greater gift. This continues until all these Shabbats unite into the level of Final Correction.
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Baal HaSulam wanted for his disciples to sing Kabbalistic melodies, rather than the melodies that the people were used to singing. So he took from his teacher and also created such melodies himself and taught them to his disciples.
The majority of these melodies relate to “the days of repentance”—Rosh Hashanah (The New Year) and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), because we see that the melodies that are usually sung in synagogues during the calendar days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur do not sufficiently express the inner state of a person who exists at the spiritual degree called Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur.
The impression and inspiration that these ascents evoke within a person are much greater than what is expressed in the songs sung by the people. This is why Baal HaSulam made a special effort and created new melodies, by far closer to that exact spiritual degree, for instance, Hamol Al Maasecha, Hinei Ke Homer, Be Yad a Yocher, which we sing at Yom Kippur. These degrees, this inspiration, rapture, are much stronger than what is customary among the people.
However, all of this relates to a Kabbalist and to those who want to become inspired with these songs, to somehow experience the inspiration and delight, even though they do not yet attain this in practice. And then they use this method. This is why we teach these melodies, even to the beginners, explaining to them what each one contains.
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The most important thing in Kabbalistic music are not the notes themselves, but all these fine nuances that exist between them. We learn that there are Taamim (flavors), Nekudot (dots under the letters), Tagin (crowns on top of the letters) and Otiot (letters). What are letters? Letters are exactly the finest nuances formed at the end of the Kli’s entire impression from the Light. These are called letters—impressions of Reshimot leaving the Kli and entering it again, as the Light was leaving the Kli. This short impression inside and outside, in the departing Light, is called “a letter,” meaning a symbol, the largest informative part.
It is the same with sounds. When we play these sounds, these melodies, there is a big difference between one who knows and one who is ignorant, between the one who plays correctly and the one who plays nicely; and it lies in how much one understands where important things are. What’s most important does not lie in the sounds, but in the tiniest symbols; in how the sound begins and ends, and not in the sound itself.
Regrettably, far from everyone is ready to express this. I had a wonderful student, who was very dear to me – Vitalik. He played violin. So he told me: “I’m ready to play only on the condition that you will hold my hand.” And this is right.