The portion Yitro is an important one; it is the one in which the Revelation at Sinai, what is called the 10 Utterances, the moment when Bila HaMavet La'Netzach, the removal of pain, suffering and death from this world, was revealed. Therefore, on Shabbat Yitro, when it is the time of the revelation of the Light of Bila HaMavet La'Netzach, there is a concept I’ve been thinking about. We are conscious, of course, of the power of the Zohar and the importance of studying the Zohar, but are we really igniting greater and greater passion for, and connection to, the power of the Zohar?
"Are we igniting greater passion for the Zohar?"
There is a section from the Ramchal, the great kabbalist Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, that speaks about the importance of study, and more powerfully, as it relates to the Light of the Zohar. He tells us that amongst all the great Light and gifts the Creator has given us, there is one that is greater than all the others. It is the most elevated, powerful, and important of all the gifts that the Creator has given humanity. What was given on Sinai, the revealed forces within the Light of the Zohar, he tells us, is the greatest gift that the Creator has given this world; the Creator attached the most elevated Light into the words that are within the Zohar. There is one gift, one place where the Creator has attached His most elevated Light, Light more elevated than anything else created in this world, and that is within the Light of the study of the Zohar.
Therefore, we need to envision this and really use our consciousness about what the Creator has done every time before we open the Zohar. We have to understand that the Creator has attached each word and letter to the most elevated and important Light He has to give to us. And whether we are scanning, reading, studying, or saying the words, we have to see the great Light attached to each one of these letters and words.
So, if we look at each letter and word, they all have Light. But it is a reverse pyramid of Light. The more one delves to understand, the Ramchal tells us, the more of that Light we are drawing into ourselves. Yes, by scanning, we connect to one level, by reading, we connect to another, and by understanding, we connect to a greater level. And while it is true that each one of these letters and words has great Light attached to them, there is still greater and greater Light. So, the simple connection is one level, the deeper connection is another, and the deepest understanding is yet another level.
Therefore, the greatest Light that the Creator has attached to these words is dependent on how much of an investment of effort, mind, and understanding we put into it. This gift, this infusion of Light that the Creator has put into this world, has many possibilities of connection and Light. And the levels of Light depend on the level of investment of effort that one puts towards the desire to understand. However, the Ramchal explains, we have to know that even at the lowest levels, there is no study that does not draw a great Light. While of course the greater the investment of effort, time, consciousness, and understanding, the more Light attached to it that is revealed, the guarantee is that any type of connection to the Light of the Zohar will draw down this greatest gift.
So, while every aspect of study will draw a great Light, it is a growing level of connection that one can achieve by investing more effort to the study. But what is important to understand - and this is why consciousness is so important – is that the words of the Zohar as they exist as words are not that special. Even the literal understanding of the great secrets the Zohar reveals, yes, are important and special, but they are of a much lower degree than the Light that the Creator has attached to them.
It is important to understand that it is not about what is there, but rather, about the decision of the Creator to choose to attach those letters and words to great Light. Rav Ashlag says it is a double gift that the Creator decided to give: attaching this great Light to words that also awaken us to spiritual connection and have great secrets within them. But the reality that the Zohar has great secrets and that it has great spiritual wisdom is a completely separate thing from the choice that the Creator made to attach these letters and words to great Light.
Rav Ashlag explains we have to have clarity about these two separate and distinct realities about the Zohar: we can read the great Light and wisdom and have inspiration, understanding, and secrets, but that wisdom, understanding, and so forth, existed separately from the choice that the Creator made to attach the words to great Light. To explain this in an example, it is like a balloon at a party being tied to a chair. There is no connection between the chair and the balloon, except that somebody decided they were going to make a knot with some string and tie the balloon to a chair. There is nothing innate in the chair that necessitates the balloon to be attached to it, except somebody deciding they are going to attach it.
And therefore, the Ramchal says, the real power of the Torah, and specifically the greatest Light of the Torah - which is the Light of the Zohar - is not its words, teachings, or secrets; it is the choice that the Creator made to attach these letters and words to His greatest Light. As such, other than that decision the Creator made to tie these letters and words to His greatest Light, it could be like studying any other great book of wisdom. Because there are many books of wisdom, but none have the decision of the Light of the Creator to attach His greatest Light to them. That is what is so powerful about the Zohar. But if we do not have this consciousness, then we are learning wisdom from a book where, yes, we are connecting to powerful secrets, but that is not what the Zohar is about… and we have to have this consciousness and clarity, because other books of wisdom do not have the innate gift of each word being tied to great Light by the Creator.
What the Creator has done with the Torah, and specifically with the Zohar, the Ramchal tells us, is attach the words and letters to a Godly, elevated, supernal Light. As such, the Ramchal says that a person who understands this, with the right consciousness, should be shaking when they come to connect and read from the Zohar, because this is what we are doing when we are reading and studying from the Zohar. With each letter and word, we are drawing down this great Light the Creator has attached to that letter or word.
"The great Light attached to these letters and words will too be drawn to us, and the great Light of the Creator that is internal to all of us will become greater and greater, and correction and Light can be drawn down to the entire world."
If we open up the Zohar and just make a connection, since it is such a powerful book with so much Light, yes, we are going to get some Light. But the real opportunity is for us to take a moment before we open up the Zohar, and remember this consciousness: these letters and words that I am about to connect to, the Creator has decided to attach the most elevated and powerful Light into, and therefore as I read, study, scan, and connect to them, my consciousness is to use them to draw down the great Light the Creator has attached to them. If we do this, the Ramchal says, then the great Light attached to these letters and words will too be drawn to us, and the great Light of the Creator that is internal to all of us will become greater and greater, and correction and Light can be drawn down to the entire world. However, if we do not have this consciousness, that great Light cannot be drawn by us, and rather, it will simply be just another form of study done by another person.
Shabbat Yitro is when the literal Torah was revealed at Sinai; but more importantly, the soul, the great Light of the Torah, which is the Light of the Zohar, was revealed. Therefore, what we want to ask for on this Shabbat, and with this teaching, is to gain the consciousness to constantly become reignited in the power that we are able to reveal, through the connection to the Zohar, the greatest Light of the Creator that is available.