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Character Refinement, Kabbalah-Style
Kabbalah helps us rectify ourselves by seeing the Infinite nature of Creation.
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Character Refinement, Kabbalah-Style


In classic Kabbala texts, there are countless remarks regarding the negativity of bad character traits, such as anger, laziness, depression, and others. However, while the harshest condemnation of depression, anger, and other negative counter-productive emotions are found within the works of Kabbala, the Kabbalistic method of character refinement is quite a different approach than the approaches that we are accustomed to encountering. It is not a head-on battle of countering negativity on its own turf, nor is it to overwhelm the negative with the positive. Its approach is to come from another vantage point and see things from another perspective.

The person is supposed to be awakened to consciousness that all that really exists is the Inifinite….

The primary objective of mystical thought is to make the person understand that there is nothing else besides the Infinite. Reading the various configurations, maps, and diagrams the Kabbala presents, the person is supposed to be awakened to consciousness that all that really exists is the Ein Sof - the Infinite. There is a feeling that is meant to be aroused when we penetrate the truths of Kabbala, and that is the feeling that the world as we tend to perceive it, as separate and independent of a creator, is but an illusion. But in reality there is nothing other then the infinite light. Having this notion in mind, consciously or even subconsciously, we are then able to conquer all our personal negative emotions and traits.

Ego is the fountainhead from which all negativity stems….

Rabbi Eliyahu ben Moshe Di Vidas, a 16th century Kabbalist, posits that there are three primary negative traits which may be considered the “principal traits” from which all further dissention occurs. They are: haughtiness, stubbornness, and anger; all of these claim origin in the same source - the ego. Ego is the fountainhead from which all negativity stems. The core of all corruption is that false sense of self/ego, which lives in an incessant state of what it thinks will cause its survival.

When a person becomes angry, it is the ego's way of showing its objection that it is not happy. The ego, when it feels it is threatened, is the one who protests, “How can you do this to me,” which arouses the anger. The fear of annihilation is the constant condition with regards to the ego. Anger is but a manifestation of a persons preoccupation with his imaginary presumptions of survival. The total involvement with the illusory “self” is the root of all negative emotions.

We begin to realize that there is nothing besides the Light….

By overcoming this false sense of self, which stems from one's false estimation of survival, one's negative emotions are conquered. Through the study of the Kabbala, we come to the realization that the false sense of self/ego is but a masquerade of our true and inner dynamics, our transcendent soul. The feeling we get when contemplating Kabbala is that all that exists is the Infinite. We ought to feel this on a cosmic level, and then understand it on our own level. Consequently, the illusion of separateness/ego, and as a result, the preservation of this mirage will slowly begin to fade, and with it will fade the negative emotions which is the ego's manifestation.

Instead of seeing the ego as a real enemy who needs to be engaged in battle in order to be overcome, we begin to realize that there is nothing besides the Light, and everything else is simply a concealment of that truth. Such is the Kabbalistic approach for self-perfection. It does not deal with the negative head-on, nor does it deal with it at all. Rather it goes to the source of all problems, the I/ego, and by extension, the entire physical reality. It demonstrates how, in fact, these seemingly independent realities are but a camouflage.

Excerpted from a longer article, “What is Kabbalah?”, on www.iyyun.com, and reprinted with permission. Copyright The Iyyun Institute.

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By DovBer Pinson   More articles...  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author
Rabbi DovBer Pinson is an internationally acclaimed author, teacher and speaker, who has lectured in both scholarly and lay settings throughout the globe. He heads the Iyyun Institute and lectures at the Jewish Learning Annex, a center dedicated to advanced Jewish studies in Brownstone Brooklyn. His four published books include works on Reincarnation, Meditation, and "The Kabbalah of Music".

 

Reader Comments
Latest Comments:
Posted: Feb 17, 2014
To Anonymous seeking character refinement
There is the Mussar tradition for character refinement. You may find a course of study/practice at JewishPathways.com. Also, you may count the omer and do the meditation and exercise at Chabad.org. The Path of the Just is a wonderful read that you would want to share and discuss with a group of friends. May the Al-mighty bless you with much spiritual growth.
Posted By Maria, New York, NY

Posted: June 16, 2011
Character Refinement
Thank you so much for this article. Do you have a book or course on character refinement that I can purchase or download?
Posted By Anonymous, Albuquerque, NM

Posted: Jan 11, 2011
Shalom to all
I am blessed to hear that to concentrate on "ein sof" when faced with controversy helps us to be wiser in our response to it.
Posted By Sandra Johnson, Demotte, Indiana

Posted: Aug 23, 2010
exelent
Posted By devora, miami

Posted: Mar 18, 2010
Answer to Renata
Click on "Classic Kabbalah" in the left menu. there you will find an entire section of source material about the Jewish Beliefs in Reincarnation.
Posted By Rabbi Yerachmiel Tilles
via mychabad.org

Posted: Mar 17, 2010
compliment
your explanation helps very well about ego's way,because we contact every day the people with this ,,problem,,
i would like to know more about Reincarnation
Posted By renata renaud, liverpool, UK
via kabbalaonline.org



 


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