Time to Act by Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag (Ba’al ha-Sullam)
“It is time to act for YHWH—they have violated Your teaching (Psalms 119:126)—the second clause may be taken as explaining the first, thus: they have violated your teaching. Why? Because it is time to act for YHWH” (BT Berakhot 63a).
For a long time now, my conscience has burdened me with a demand to come out and create a fundamental composition regarding the essence of Judaism, religion, and the wisdom of Kabbalah, and promote it in the midst of the nation, so people will come to know and properly understand these profound matters according to their true meaning.
Previously in Israel, prior to the development of the printing industry, there were no spurious books among us relating to the essence of Judaism, as there were almost no writers who could not stand behind their words, for the simple reason that in most cases, an irresponsible person is not renowned.
Therefore, if, by chance, one dared to write such a composition, no scribe would copy it, as he would not be paid for his labor, which, for the most part, was quite considerable. Thus, such a composition was doomed from the start to be lost.
In those days, knowledgeable people, too, had no interest in writing such books, since the public did not need that knowledge. Quite the contrary, they had an interest in hiding it in secret chambers for the reason that God’s honor is to hide a matter (Proverbs 25:2). We were commanded to conceal the essence of Torah and worship from those who did not need it, or were unworthy of it, and to not degrade it by displaying it in shop windows for the lusting eyes of the boastful, because God’s honor demands it.
But ever since the printing of books has become popular, and writers are no longer in need of scribes, the price of books has been reduced. This has paved the way for irresponsible writers to publish whatever books they please, for money or for honor. But they do not take their own actions into account and do not examine the consequences of their deeds.
From that time on, publications of the aforementioned kind have significantly increased, without any learning or reception mouth-to-mouth from a qualified Rav, and even without knowledge of earlier books that dealt with this topic. Such authors fabricate theories from their own empty husks, and relate their words to the most exalted matters, to thus portray the essence of the nation and its extraordinary treasure. As fools, they know not how to be scrupulous, nor have a way by which to learn it. They introduce erroneous views to the generations, and in return for their petty lusts they sin and cause the nations to sin for generations to come.
Recently, their stench has soared upward because they have plunged their nails into the wisdom of the Kabbalah, not minding that this wisdom has been locked and chained behind a thousand doors to this day, that no person may understand the true meaning of even a single word of it, much less the connection between one word and the next.
That is because in all the genuine books that were written to this day, there are mere hints that barely suffice for a knowledgeable disciple to understand their true meaning, from the mouth of a wise and qualified kabbalist. And there, too, There shall the owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow (Isaiah 34:15). These days, such conspirators multiply, who fabricate such delights disgusting those who behold them.
Some of them even go as far as to presume and to assume the place of the leaders of the generation, and they pretend to know the difference between the ancient books and tell which of them is worthy of study and which is not, since it is filled with errors, and they arouse contempt and wrath. Until today, the work of scrutiny had been limited to one in ten leaders of a generation but now the ignorant abuse it.
Therefore, the apprehension of these matters by the public has been greatly corrupted. In addition, there is an air of frivolity and people think that a glance at one’s leisure is sufficient for the study of such exalted matters. They skim over the ocean of wisdom and the soul of Judaism in a glance, like that well-known angel, and draw conclusions based on their own mood.
These are the reasons that have prompted me to go out of my way and decide that it is time to act for the LORD (Psalms 119:126), and salvage what can still be salvaged. Thus, I have taken upon myself to reveal some of the true essence, which relates to the above matter, and promote it in the midst of the nation.