The Conditions for Disclosing the Secrets
of the Wisdom of Kabbalah
There are several reasons for keeping the Kabbalah secret:
1. "There is no necessity"
2. "It is impossible"
3. "It is the private secret of the Creator"
There is no single detail in the Kabbalah that is not covered by all of these three prohibitions.
1. "There is no necessity" This implies that there is no point to disclosing the secrets. This would only be possible if there was some immediate benefit to be gained by society. Otherwise, it would only be met with a reaction of "so what." This would be the reaction of people who believe that the Kabbalists deal with and make others deal with matters of no importance. This is why the Kabbalists took as students only those who were able to keep a secret and not disclose it unless absolutely necessary..
2. "It is impossible" This means a ban on the disclosure of the secrets because of the limitations of the language. This language (ours) is not capable of conveying subtle spiritual concepts. All of our attempts to explain with words are destined to fail and lead the student astray. Thus in order to be able to disclose these secrets, permission from above is necessary..
Permission from above This is mentioned in the works of the famous Kabbalist named AR"I. There it is said; "Know that the souls of the great ones are filled with an outer (surrounding ) or inner (filling) light. And those whose souls are filled with the surrounding light have the gift of telling the secrets. They do it in such a way that an unworthy person will not understand them.".
For example, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai had a soul filled with such an outer light. He had such power that even when he appeared in a congregation, he was understood only by those who had received the instruction from above to write in the book of the "Zohar". There were some Kabbalists before him who knew more. However, they did not have his ability to put spiritual concepts into words.
So it is clear that the presentation of the Kabbalah does not depend on the level of knowledge of the Kabbalist. Rather it depends on the qualities of his soul. According to them, he receives his instructions from above to disclose a certain part of the knowledge. And so we cannot find any sort of fundamental work on the Kabbalah before the "Zohar". Those works that we do have include only vague and unclear hints. From the time of Rabbi Shimon the only one who was permitted to "open" another part of the Kabbalah was Rabbi Ari. Again it is possible that some Kabbalists before Ari knew much more but they did not get the permission from above. Since the appearance of Ari's books, all of the people dealing with the Kabbalah have left the other books and have studied only the "Zohar" and Ari's books..
3. "It is the private secret of the Creator" The essence of this ban is in the fact that the secrets of the Kabbalah can be revealed only to those who are faithful to the Creator and who respect Him. This reason for concealing the Kabbalah's secrets is the most important one. Too many charlatans have used the Kabbalah in their own interests. They have made prophesies, given charms and have thus lured trusting people. The initial concealment of the Kabbalah was done precisely for this reason. True Kabbalists have therefore taken upon themselves to check their students very strictly. The very few people who were allowed to approach the Kabbalah in each generation were under the strictest of oaths. They were prohibited from disclosing even the slightest, most negligible detail which came under the three mentioned bans.
We should not think that this division into three bans divides the Kabbalah itself into three. No, every part, every word, every term comes under these criteria for concealment. These three criteria are constantly in action in this science..
However a question appears. If indeed this secret wisdom is so deeply hidden, how did all those different writings about it appear. The reason is that there is a difference between the first two conditions of secrecy and the last one. The last condition is the one that carries the greatest importance. The condition of "It is not necessary" too often can change because of external circumstances and become "It is necessary". For instance, this can happen due to the development of mankind as a whole, or because of the permission given from above. This permission was given to Rabbi Shimon and to the Ari and to a lesser extent to others. This is why we receive some authentic books about the Kabbalah from time to time..
This is also the manner in which I received my knowledge from my teacher. I received it under the same strict conditions, to guard and to conceal. However, because of the reasons that were mentioned previously in "The Time to Act " The condition of "It is not necessary became transformed to "It is necessary". And so I am disclosing one part while still concealing and guarding the other two, as I have been sworn to do.
Author: Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag