Now you must know that everything has an inner aspect and an outer aspect. In the world as a whole, Israel, the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is considered to be the innermost aspect. The seventy nations are considered to be the outer aspect of the world. Within Israel itself, there is an inner aspect which consists of those people who are seriously committed to their spiritual work of serving G‑d, and there is an outer aspect consisting of those who are not involved in spirituality. Likewise, amongst the nations of the world, there is an inner aspect which consists of the saints of the world and an outer aspect which consists of those who are destructive and coarse. The inner aspect is those people who are privileged to understand the soul of the innermost aspects of Torah and its secrets…
Even amongst those of Israel who serve G‑d, there is an inner aspect and an outer aspect. The inner aspect is those people who are privileged to understand the soul of the innermost aspects of Torah and its secrets, and the outer part consists of people who only deal with the practical aspects of Torah.
All this can also be considered likewise in one individual person. The individual has within him or her, the innermost aspect which is the aspect of "Israel" within the person. This is the point of divine light within his or her heart. He or she also has an outer aspect, which corresponds to the seventy nations of the world and relates to the will to receive. These internal "nations of the world" have the capacity for transformation. They can cleave to the innermost divine part of the person's soul and they then become like the righteous converts who join with the community of Israel.
A person may reinforce and respect his or her innermost aspect, which is the aspect of Israel within the person, over his or her external aspect, which is the aspect of the nations of the world within the person. He or she then strives to put most of his or her energy and labor into increasing and enhancing his or her innermost aspect for the soul's sake. The nations of the world…then recognize and value Israel…
To those aspects of himself or herself, which correspond to the internal nations of the world within that person, he or she gives only the minimum required. That is to say that the person only gives the minimum to his or her wills to receive for oneself, according to what is written in The Ethics of the Fathers, "Make your Torah your main occupation and your work secondary to it." The person's deeds affect both the inner aspect and the external aspect of the world as a whole. He or she causes the spiritual level of Israel to go up and the nations of the world, which comprise the external aspect of humanity, then recognize and value Israel.
But if, G‑d forbid, the opposite occurs, that an individual of Israel reinforces and values his or her outer aspects, which is the aspect of the nations of the world within him or her, over and above his or her inner aspect of Israel, then, according to the prophecy "The stranger that is within you", which refers to the external aspects of the person, "will prevail over you higher and higher….", "…and you…", meaning as you are in yourself, in your innermost aspect, in your aspect of "Israel" within you, "…will go down further and further". (Deut. 28:43) Then the person causes by his or her deeds that the externality of the world, which is the nations of the world, ascends higher and higher and has power over Israel and humiliates it to the dust, and they that are the innermost aspect of the world go down further and further, G‑d forbid. An individual person…can cause an elevation or degradation of the whole world…
Do not be surprised by the fact that an individual person, through his or her deeds, can cause an elevation or degradation of the whole world. There is an unalterable law that the macrocosm [the totality] and the microcosm [the individual] are as like to each other as two drops of water. The same procedures that occur with respect to the macrocosm occur with regard to the individual and vice versa. Furthermore, it is the individual components themselves which make up the macrocosm and thus the macrocosm is only revealed through the manifestation of its individual components according to their measure and their quality. So certainly, the act of a single person, according to his or her capacity, may lower or elevate humanity as a whole.
This is how we can understand what is stated in the Zohar, that through the study of the Zohar and the practice of the true wisdom, we can bring about an end to our state of exile and a complete redemption.
We could ask what studying the Zohar could have to do with redeeming Israel from among the nations?
From what we have already seen, it is easy to understand that the Torah, like the world itself, has an inner and an outer aspect. Likewise, the one who occupies himself or herself with Torah has these two levels. So to the degree that a person, when practicing Torah, strengthens and focuses on the innermost aspects of Torah and its secrets, he or she gives strength in this measure to the innermost aspect of the world, which is Israel. Then Israel begins to fulfill its true function with respect to the nations who then value Israel's role amongst them. Then shall the words of the prophet be fulfilled: "And the people shall take them and bring them to their place. And the House of Israel will settle in the Land of G‑d" (Isaiah 14:2). Similarly, "Thus says the Lord G‑d, 'Behold I will lift up My hand to the nations and set up My standard to the peoples. And they shall bring your sons in their arms and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders. And kings shall be your foster fathers and their queens your nursing mothers'" (Isaiah 49:22). [In other words, Israel, that is to say, the "will to receive in order to serve G‑d and each other" will triumph over the "will to receive for oneself alone", which will then act as a servant to the "will to receive in order to give".] A person of Israel might devalue the most intimate part of Torah…
But, G‑d forbid, the opposite could happen. A person of Israel might devalue the most intimate part of Torah with its secrets which deal with the ways of our souls and their levels, devaluing also the intellectual considerations and reasons of the Torah, emphasizing instead the outermost aspect of Torah that deals with practical issues alone. If such a person ever concerns himself or herself with the innermost aspect of the Torah, he or she only sets aside a small portion of his time to it, not giving to it the attention it deserves but treating it as if it were superfluous material. By behaving in this way, he or she lowers and degrades the innermost aspect of the world, the Children of Israel, reinforcing the externality of the world over them, who are the nations of the world.
Then they, the nations of the world, cast Israel down and despise the children of Israel and consider Israel to be a superfluous entity in the world of which there is no need, G‑d forbid. Not only this, but these people further cause the outer aspects of the nations of the world, who are coarse people who damage and destroy the world, to prevail over the inner aspects of the nations of the world, who are the righteous amongst the nations. They then cause terrible destruction, slaughter and holocausts, such as our generation has been a witness to, G‑d preserve us from here onwards.
Therefore we can see that the redemption of Israel and all the worth of Israel is dependent on the learning of the Zohar and the innermost aspect of the Torah. The opposite is true also. All the afflictions and degradations that have come upon the Children of Israel are on account of their neglecting the most intimate part of Torah, and not having valued it but having related to it as something superfluous, G‑d forbid.
[from "In the Shadow of the Ladder", Introduction to the Zohar, paragraphs 65-69, by Mark and Yedidah Cohen]