Kabbalists believe God created a perfect world that we’ve never known. Just after the moment of creation, when God’s identity shattered, the paradise we would have inherited instead descended into chaos. In place of the Garden of Eden, humans encountered a world fraught with danger, disease, and countless other perils. Many religions blame human beings for the problems we encounter on earth. Rav Berg referred to a famous sermon by puritan minister Jonathan Edwards, called “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” to point out how other religions portray God as spiteful and resentful of human beings for their sinfulness. Edwards notoriously described man as a piddling insect that God would be delighted to cast into the flames of hell.

Kabbalah presents God in a very different light. Though Ein Sof sacrificed its own identity to create the universe for human beings, kabbalists describe their God as a forgiving, endlessly loving force. Kabbalists typically portray their relationship with God as a marriage of sorts, a give and take in which God depends on people to restore its wholeness, and people depend on God to inspire them to act righteously in order to heal their fractured God. Kabbalah does not include a doctrine of irremediable sin, but instead conceives of everyone, even God, as continually becoming, rather than being. Kabbalah therefore believes that even the vilest sinner always has a shot at forgiveness in the eyes of God: even in the final moments of life, hope remains.

Kabbalah’s strong sense of hope and optimism derives from its conception of God as an infinite, ever-present force. Since God created everything and everyone in the universe, everything and everyone in the universe contains elements of God’s perfection. The aim of Kabbalah is to provide everyone with a set of tools for use in discovering their connection to God. These tools typically include the study of the Zohar, the Torah, the Talmud, and the Hebrew language. Once enough followers of Kabbalah bridge the gap between the chaotic human world and the perfect world God first created, paradise will once again reign on earth.