Kabbalistic Glossary: Klipot
- Shells created by an individual’s negative actions that create a metaphysical barrier between one’s self and the Light.
Klipot (klipa, singular), which translates from Hebrew as “husks” or “shells,” are metaphysical barriers between ourselves and the Light of the Creator that we, ourselves, have created through our own selfish actions. They are what keep us from receiving all the blessings that are meant for us, or from feeling happy, certain, or fulfilled all of the time.
Kabbalah teaches that our pure, perfected self already exists; it is just covered by these invisible shells, producing an effect similar to that of a curtain placed over a lamp. The light is always there, shining, but we can’t see it, because it’s covered. All we have to do is remove those coverings and we can see, and feel, the Light! However, as long as these shells cover us, we cannot attain the spiritual level that we came to this world to achieve.
Rav Berg said, “Our purpose here is to recover something that was lost – to return to a part of ourselves that we once had without knowing it...” Since the spark of the Creator is already within us, we need only remove the klipot to recover that true, perfected part of ourselves. Within every one of our klipa – which can manifest as illness, sadness, or uncertainty, for example - is a blessing. Our work, therefore, is to crack that shell open to reveal the Light that is waiting for us. But, how do we crack that shell? What can we do to feel happier, more certain, more fulfilled, and closer to the Light? How do we remove the veils that are covering our true, perfected self?
The kabbalists teach there are a few ways:
Rav Ashlag, the founder of the Kabbalah Centre, says that consciousness is by far the most important element in removing our klipot. He says, “Taste and see that God is good.” Everything physical in this world has sparks of the Creator in it; so, what he means is that in everything we are doing, even if it is eating a bite of food, we should know that it is the spark of the Light of the Creator within it that makes it taste or feel good. Having the awareness, therefore, when we are going through pain that inside of everything in this world - including our struggle - is the spark of the Creator actually helps us to remove the shells that are causing that pain.
Studying the texts
The great kabbalist Rav Isaac Luria, the Ari, explains that one of the main purposes of studying the Torah and other texts of Kabbalah, including the Kitvei Ari (The Writings of the Ari) is not just for the intellectual learning, but for the Light that the act of study draws; this Light, he tells us, can actually remove the klipot that stop the Light from coming to us.
Connecting with the Zohar
As the primary text of Kabbalah, the Zohar was revealed to Rav Shimon bar Yochai over 2000 years ago, although its wisdom was passed down from one generation to the next until then. The text of the Zohar not only discloses tremendous secrets, but also, its words are injected with the cleansing power to break our klipot. For this reason, connecting to the Zohar – whether through studying it, reading it, gazing at its letters with our eyes, or even just owning it - is a very powerful way to remove our klipot.
Sharing and unselfish acts
Since klipot are created through our selfish actions and desires, we can break them through transforming those actions and desires into unselfish ones, where our Desire to Receive becomes for the sake of sharing with others, and not just as something to gain for ourselves. We call this transformational sharing. When we want something only for the reason of being able to share it with others, and act on that desire, we remove layers of klipot that cover our soul.
Going through the discomfort
As uncomfortable as it is going through pain, uncertainty, sadness, or any other feeling of negativity, doing so allows us to come out the other side of it and see the blessing that was hidden inside. Going through it breaks the klipot, and as such, we receive the blessing, and come closer to the Light.
The Ari teaches, as it is explained in the Zohar, that the Creator allows the klipot to exist in this world so that true freedom of choice can be practiced. Because were it not for the klipot, there would be no possibility of removing what in Kabbalah is called Bread of Shame, shame at receiving something that is not earned. And in the removal of our Bread of Shame, we achieve complete fulfillment.
Therefore, Rav Berg explains that the Creator purposely withdrew to give free reign to our desire to remove Bread of Shame, and it was this separation that allowed for the entrance of the klipot. And were it not for the klipot, we would not have to choose between the selfish Desire to Receive for the Self Alone and the Desire to Receive for the Sake of Sharing, because we would always be in a state of complete sharing, like the Light of the Creator is. The Light that was revealed on the first day of Creation contained endless fulfillment, but the Creator, we learn, hid it away so that we could remove our klipot and transform in the process of rediscovering it… and “when we rediscover it,” as Michael Berg says, “we express the spark of godliness in our soul, and in that one moment, achieve the purpose of life.”