“Kabbalah is likened to the proverbial “tree of life.” It is a study of life, and just as life cannot be studied through a textbook but through living itself, so too, the study of Kabbalah is effective only through the practicality of its teachings in our everyday lives. Kabbalah studied as a textbook subject is as one who studies ‘love’ yet never experiences it for himself.
R. Simchah Bunem of Pshischah, a celebrated Chassidic master, once said of a well-know Kabbalist that he had no understanding of Kabbalah. He explained that though it is true that he was versed in Kabbalistic literature, he had no real understanding. To illustrate his point, he offered the following metaphor. Lets say, for example, a person wants to become familiar with Paris, he then buys himself a map and a city guide and studies it diligently until he know all the intricate details and pathways of the city; yet, it is self-explanatory that if he never visits the actual city, he will never truly know what Paris is really like. The heart beat and pulse of any city can only be known by actually experiencing it. In the same vain, concluded Reb Bunem, to fully understand Kabbalah, one must live it and that so-called Kabbalist did not.”