A Guide to the Hidden Wisdom of Kabbala HTML version

Chapter 9: The Language of
Kabbalists: Branches
Part I
When we think or feel something and wish to convey it to someone else so
that he may feel it too, we use words. There is a general consensus in the
use of words and their meanings; when we call something “sweet,” the other
person immediately understands what we mean since he imagines the same
taste. Yet how closely does his conception of sweet match ours? How can we
best communicate our feelings while still using words?
The feelings of Kabbalists are above our level. Nevertheless, they wish to
convey to us their wonder at things that have no meaning for us. They do
this through means taken from our world: often words, sometimes music
notes, and on occasion, by other means.
Kabbalists write about their experiences and feelings in the upper worlds.
They write about the higher forces and what they discover there. They write
for other Kabbalists, since the interaction of studies between them is so
essential and so fruitful. Their writings are then extended to those who
haven’t yet sensed spirituality, for those whose spirituality is still hidden.
Part II
Since there are no words in the spiritual world to describe their spiritual
feelings, Kabbalists call these experiences branches, a word taken from our
world. Therefore the language used in books on Kabbalah is called the
language of branches. It is a language that borrows words from our world
and uses them to identify spiritual experiences. Since everything in the
spiritual world has an equivalent in the physical world, each root of the
spiritual world has a name and the name of its branch. And because we
cannot describe our feelings precisely and do not know how to measure or
compare them, we use all kinds of auxiliary words to help.
Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag writes in his book Talmud Esser HaSefirot (Study of the
Ten Sefirot, Part 1 Looking Inwards):