Learning Kabbalah Through Humor

    April 2011 Passover          
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The Purpose of Life According to Kabbalah

By Sam Krause

God sneezed. I didn't know what to say to Him!

Kabbalah describes the creation of the first person, Adam. The name Adam comes from the Hebrew word adamah which means "earth." God took this earth, formed it into a human, and then He breathed into this figure the breath of life. As Kabbalah explains, this metaphor is used, because when one exhales, he exhales something from deep within. So God's exhalation put something of Himself - a Divine soul - into Adam. This obligated Adam, (and by extension, Adam's progeny), to behave like a mentsch (a "humane" human), someone whose innate divinity guides his actions.

    It is 1957 in the former Soviet Union. The KGB comes to Davidovitch's apartment.

    "Does Davidovitch live here?" they ask.

    "No," replies Davidovitch.

    "Well, then, Comrade, what is your name?"

    "Josef Davidovitch."

    "Wait a minute. Didn't you just tell me Davidovitch doesn't live here?"

    "You call this living?"

Every soul has been sent "down," against its will, to the earthly plane, to inhabit a body, for the purpose of accomplishing a particular mission in the physical world. Why "against its will?"

Because the soul would much rather remain in the spiritual world, basking in God's glory and perfection, than descend into the darkest depths of this coarse material world to do the work of refining the physical body and its "animal" nature.

It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

    "Wake up, Norman!" said a mother to her son. "You'll be late for school!"

    "But Ma, all the kids hate me! The teachers hate me! Give me one good reason I should get up and go to school."

    "I'll give you two good reasons," the mother replied. "You're 44 years old, and you're the principal!"

It is an unimaginable descent for the soul to leave its holy, exalted source and sink into the crudeness and vulgarity of the physical world. You may ask what God had in mind asking the soul to descend in the first place, since its ultimate purpose is to return to its original, elevated state. To understand this concept, we turn to a phrase from King Solomon's Proverbs, "The soul of man is the candle of God." Just as a flame always reaches towards Heaven - you can turn a lit candle upside down, but the flame will still point upward – the soul is ever striving towards its Godly source.

But fire does not simply hover in mid-air. It has to take hold of a wick or a piece of wood in order to burn. So too, the soul must inhabit a body in order to complete its work and return heavenward.

This is achieved through the Kabbalistic concept "descent for the purpose of ascent." The soul must experience a descent in order to accomplish its ultimate ascent, the fulfillment of its potential. According to Kabbalah, there can be no ascent without a previous descent, and the purpose of every descent is the subsequent ascent.

As a matter of fact, just like Davidovitch and Norman, in the jokes above, we must endure the hard times in order to grow as human beings.

From..."Hey Waiter...There's God in My Soup!" by Sam (Simcha) Krause, author of, "Hey Waiter...There's God in My Soup!" Learning Kabbalah Through Humor. You can learn more about him and his book by visiting his website: www.hey-waiter.com.


from the April 2011 Passover Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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