According to some of the greatest Kabbalists, or Jewish mystics, Kabbalah’s true purpose revolves around drawing close to and serving the Divine. These same Kabbalists claim that anyone who attempts to use the teachings of Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition, for material gain not only distorts the purpose of these teachings but produces enormously negative energy at the same time. Yet, a huge amount of Kabbalah, if not the totality of its teaching, concerns itself with the structure and methodology of creation and manifestation, and many Kabbalists stressed practical applications of this wisdom. These mystics revolved their teachings around the idea that appropriate practical applications of Kabbalistic teachings should be centered on such things as tikkun olam, or healing of the world.
The Ba’al Shem Tov, Israel Ben Eliezer, a Jewish mystic and the founder of Hasidism, taught that whether or not we should use mystical teachings that give us access to Divine energy for our own purposes depends upon our intention. For example, the Ba’al Shem Tov claimed that not only was it okay to pray for our livelihood but that it was a sin not to pray for our livelihood on a daily basis. Yet, he did so with the caveat that we must do so with the right intention. To have the right intention, such a prayer must ask God for the right livelihood so we can provide for those dependent on us, share what we have with the poor and have sufficient time to devote to Torah study. In other words, we ask that we not just struggle through our work to survive but that our work allow us to help others and provide us with the opportunity to know and to connect with God.
Ultimately, our intention in acquiring anything for our own purposes – especially if we use the teachings of Kabbalah to help us with that acquisition, therefore, must revolve around spiritual development and relationship with the Divine. The Kabbalists believed we should have this intent when working practically with the principles of Kabbalah, because those very same principles are meant to help us develop spiritually and connect with God. As we study Kabbalah and learn to use these teachings, we access higher levels of energy – Divine energy. The higher the energy with which we connect on a spiritual level, the more we must direct that energy to spiritual development and relationship with the Divine.
Most of us find it hard to make the jump from “I need a livelihood, or more money, to survive” to “I need a livelihood, or more money, for my spiritual development and relationship with the Divine.” Thus, we must take small steps to help us get to that point. Here are few questions you can answer to help you begin developing a new consciousness around your personal desires whether they be for more money, a different or better livelihood, a new car, a soul mate, or better health.
1. How does what I want help others or enable me to move farther along my spiritual path?
2. How can I use what I want to help others or move closer to God?
3. If I had this thing I desire, how would that make it easier for me to direct my energy toward spiritual development, relationship with the Divine, or helping others?
4. If I had all the money I needed to take care of myself and those dependent upon me, is there anything else I would still need to make it possible for me to direct my energy towards spiritual development and my relationship with the Divine?
5. What do I think I need to direct my energy towards spiritual development and my relationship with the Divine? Do I really need those things to do so?
6. What can I do now – without the things I think I need or want – to move forward on a spiritual path?
7. If I were to receive _(fill in the blank with the thing you want or desire)_, how could I use it to help others?
8. How can I see my livelihood as helping others?
9. What would I like to receive so that I can give to others?
10. If I were going to pray to God ever day asking for what I need to help me give to others, develop spiritually and connect with the Divine, what words would I use? What would my prayer say?
In the process of answering these questions and then putting what we learn from those answers to use, we move away from wanting to receive for ourselves alone and into a consciousness of receiving for the sake of giving to others. In addition, we begin developing the intention and desire to manifest not just “things” in our lives but the totality of our lives into an experience of getting closer to and experiencing God.