(The main corpus of Kuntras HaHitpaalut-sent as an open letter to all the Chassidim in the year 5574)
As I explained in my first letter, many in our Chassidic brotherhood, whether old or new, are confused and have lost their way due to several kinds of errors regarding the ways of how to receive the words of the Living G_d in light of Torah and the service of the emotions and the heart, to the point that their understanding of it is literally the diametric opposite of the truth. Because of lack of knowledge and little occupation and practice in these matters they call light darkness and darkness light.
However, mainly, these ruinous ramifications have resulted from an overabundance of expositors that make themselves out to be wise, by boasting and professing, “I have the secret etc.,” claiming that there are secrets to true worship that they are privy to. They thus delude themselves and others, so much so that a total error has fallen into their thinking, which is the diametric opposite of the truth.
I am very greatly distressed over this because they attribute it all to me, so that many of our Chassidic brotherhood ask me advice regarding how to apply this error into practice! I find it impossible to tolerate and bear their erroneous words which have become so established in their mind, as if they are the rule of law! This is the result of students who teach before sufficiently mastering the subject, who have branched out to drink of evil waters that kill and destroy the soul, removing it from light to total darkness etc.
Therefore, I say that the mitzvah and obligation specifically falls on me to properly explain and clarify all the different matters of the service of the mind and heart, each thing in its place, level and mode in great detail. This is so that he who is prone to error will not err and will not thereby mislead his fellow. It is also to erect a firm structure in his soul, in light of the Torah he receives, so that it should all be planted and rooted with a permanent root and bond that will never falter etc.
This may be compared to a person sitting before a bowl full of delightful healthy foods which revive the soul, but who lacks a spoon to bring it to his mouth. He could expire from longing solely because he lacks a utensil to hold it etc.
So it is regarding the true teachings on contemplation and knowledge of the Divine which my father, master, teacher and rabbi of blessed memory, whose soul reposes in Eden, bequeathed to us, each person according to his capacity. This may be so even though a person is fluent in all the teachings of Chassidus. Nonetheless, since he knows not how to assimilate it into his soul, he remains hungry and thirsty, lacking all light and vitality, until, after learning and understanding it all, he wonders of what benefit it is to him.
Likewise, the exact opposite kind of person exists. For him learning and understanding dispassionately from a distance, is the essence of Chassidus, whereas assimilating it into his soul, whether through intellectual excitement, or more so, through emotional excitement, is absolutely forbidden. Thus he seeks and requests advice on how to rid himself of any spontaneous excitement that comes unwillingly upon him, for he considers it to be “Awareness of self” which, to him, is a cardinal sin that destroys the soul, similar to the antiquated ways of the discredited Chassidus, mentioned above.
Behold, two extreme opposites such as these, and between them, several types of intermediates of assorted levels and kinds, all of which possess errors that literally transform light into darkness! This even includes several different levels of veteran Chassidim who are expert, experienced and wise in their own eyes as to the ultimate goal of the teachings of Chassidus. They too are totally lost! All this being the case, it is so very important to explain and clarify everything, so that they will not “hang empty pitchers upon me etc.”
Of essential importance is to establish and affirm the principal theme and holy intention of my father, master, teacher and rabbi of blessed memory, whose soul reposes in Eden, in light of the teachings he revealed to us for thirty years. For the sake of all who are beloved to me and truly seek the words of the Living G_d, from my youth my sole aim has been that to the fullest intended extent, the illumination of the “Life of the World” be established in their souls, this being the matter of the revelation of G_dliness in their souls, each person according to his capacity, as is known.