All text from scriptures inserted by Daniel ben Ya'acov Ysrael
The following text is written by orthodox Jews who do not have any clue of the Brit HaChadasha (New Testament) and do not accept the validity of the apostles' writings. Their knowledge is drawn from the mystical aspect of the Tanak and writings from other Jews. Before reading I will encourage you to put aside any negative thoughts concerning mystical view and be patient in reading. Pray YHWH for discernment and understanding, you will grow in spiritual dimension. Some of you may have already grasp this mystical level, and will enjoy this approach. Sha'ul/ Paul speaks of mystery concerning Messiah. Elohim is not to be put in a box, we shouldn't forget that we cannot fully understand his majesty and greatness.
The shattering of the vessels" (in Hebrew, "Shevirat haKeilim") of the world of Tohu is the key concept in explaining the basic problem of diverseness and multiplicity in Creation as well as the origin of evil 1 and is a central component in the Arizal's system of Kabbala (Kabbalah, also spelled Kabala or Cabala (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה literally "receiving"), is a variegated esoteric method, discipline and school of thought.), where it receives a full exposition2
The concept of Shevirat haKeilim is linked together with the mystical account of the eight kings who "reigned in the land of Edom before any king ruled over the Israelites" (Gen. 36:31) and the Midrashic account of the building and destruction of the primordial worlds (Bereishit Rabba 3:7, 9:1), as will be explained below. Although the idea of Shevirat haKeilim is also found in several sections of Zohar (in Sifra d'Tzni'uta3, Idra Rabba4 and Idra Zuta5), the concept and its ramifications are very difficult to understand there without the elucidation of the entire subject in the writings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria. (For this reason, even here, many readers will find the roll-over glossary feature essential for comprehending this important piece.)
The Arizal explains that when it arose in the Divine Will to create the finite world, the first step was to "withdraw" or conceal the infinite Or Ein Sof in the process known as "the first constriction" or "tzimtzum harishon". The first "world" (plane of existence) that came into being after the tzimtzum is called Adam Kadmon. But even though Adam Kadmon is a post-tzimtzum world, it is still a "meta-world", so-to-speak - undefined, unified, and transcending time, comprising a single transcendent primordial thought.
1Ti 6:16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or is able to see, to whom be respect and everlasting might. Amĕn.
1Ti 1:17 Now to the Sovereign of the ages, incorruptible, invisible, to Elohim who alone is wise, be respect and esteem forever and ever. Amĕn.
Light emitted from the eyes of Adam Kadmon… signifies a descent from an internal, essential level to an external 'sensory' level…
The existence of the finite world as we know it, and as G-d intended it, is still not possible in Adam Kadmon due to its extremely lofty state. In order for a finite world to exist, the light in Adam Kadmon had to go through several more stages of quantitative contraction and descent. In one of these stages of descent, one of the several types of light emitted from Adam Kadmon is manifested as ten individual qualities or attributes that act as separate, independent points of light, or quanta of energy. Technically, this is called "light emitted from the eyes" of Adam Kadmon or "or ha-einayim". This metaphorical term signifies a descent from an internal, essential level to an external "sensory" level where the beam of light is refracted into discrete quanta. Each of these points is an extremely powerful concentration of light (the level of keter of each of the ensuing sefirot) as it descends from Adam Kadmon. These sefirot compose the world of Tohu (chaos or disorder).
1Jn 1:5 And this is the message which we have heard from Him and announce to you, that Elohim is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
The first "world" outside of Adam Kadmon is called Akudim. In it is the first development of a vessel, such that ten degrees of light are bound together (in Hebrew, "akudim") in a single vessel (Writings of the Ari, Shaar HaHakdamot, Derush 1 b'Olam HaNikudim).
The existence of vessels [for the lights that issued forth from Adam Kadmon] begins only in the world of Akudim - in which there is but one general vessel for all the ten lights - and below. Subsequently, the world of Nikudim [another name for Tohu] was emanated, in which ten vessels were formed for the ten lights. All of them were the aspect of keter of the ten sefirot, so that there were ten lights of keter of the ten sefirot*. Each of these ten keter-lights had an individual vessel. The remaining nine parts of the lights [i.e., chochma, bina, chesed, etc.] in each of the sefirot were incorporated within the keter-light of each of the sefirot. For this reason they are referred to as ten "nekudot", meaning individual "points" of light, rather than as ten complete sefirot… Now these ten sefirot were emanated in such a way that they were situated one above the other. (Ibid., Shaar HaHakdamot, Derush 1 b'Olam HaNikudim)
* The ten sefirot are emanation of the divine nature of the invisible Elohim, formed together in the Tree of life, which represent his nature (character).
The sefirot of Tohu were situated one above the other in a single line … unlike the array of the sefirot in the world of Tikun* (restauration), in which the sefirot are arranged in harmonious triads…
*Act 3:19 “Repent therefore and turn back, for the blotting out of your sins, in order that times of refreshing might come from the presence of the Master,
The fact that the sefirot of Tohu were situated one above the other in a single line indicates that they act as independent entities, unlike the array of the sefirot in the world of Tikun, in which the sefirot are arranged in harmonious triads. Thus each sefira of Tohu existed as an autonomous fiefdom, so to speak, independent of, and even in opposition to, the others. Moreover, each sefira in Tohu is the manifestation of an absolute and quintessential aspect of the light of Adam Kadmon (the level of keter of each type of light, as explained above).
Furthermore, the vessels themselves were in a state of immaturity and were therefore unable to contain the intense light flooding them.
"…Only the malchut (kingdom) aspect of the seven sefirot was emanated… and therefore they were called nekudot, for nekuda and malchut 6 are synonymous. 7. In addition, not only were they [in a state of immaturity], even in this state they were not clothed one within the other, nor were they bound together as a unit. Nor were they divided into arrays, [namely,] of kindness in the right array, severity in the left array and the mitigation between them in the middle array [as in Tikun]."
(Etz Chaim,shaar 9, ch. 8)
Due to the intensity and exclusivity of the lights and the inability of their vessels to contain them, the vessels of the lower sefirot of Tohu shattered and the lights they contained remained above. The fragments of these vessels then fell to lower levels, becoming absorbed into the various worlds below the world of Tohu.
Gen 1:2 the earth hath existed waste (Tohu) and void, and darkness is on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God fluttering on the face of the waters,
The three uppermost vessels had the ability to contain the lights designated for them and did not die…
"Since the lights of these ten nekudot were so intense and powerful… the [vessels] did not have the power to contain them and the vessels "died", meaning to say, they descended below to the level that is now called [the world of] Beriya*. This descent was their demise. But this was only as regards the seven lower nekudot, whereas the three uppermost vessels had the ability to contain the lights designated for them and did not die… The vessels of the seven lower [nekudot] descended to the world of Beriya… but their lights remained above, exposed, without vessels." (Ibid.)
* Beriya, the 3rd heaven, or the world of the throne of Elohim, counting from the world of action (Assiya/earth).
Mat 26:64 יהושע said to him, “You have said it. Besides I say to you, from now you shall see the Son of Aḏam sitting at the right hand of the Power (throne in the world of Beriya), and coming on the clouds of the heaven.”
Act 7:55 But he, being filled with the Set-apart Spirit, looked steadily into the heaven and saw the esteem of Elohim, and יהושע standing at the right hand of Elohim (Beriyah the 3rd world),
Scripture hints at this process in describing the succeeding kings of Edom: "These are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom before any king ruled over the Israelites 8. Bela son of Be'or became king… He died and was succeeded as king byYoav… Yoav died, and he was succeeded as king by Chusham… Chusham died, and was succeeded by… etc." (Gen. 36:31-39). The Arizal explained that this refers to the sefirot of Tohu, each of which rules exclusively, and then shatters and "dies."
Thus Tohu was a primordial form of existence that "was created in order to be destroyed, and destroyed in order to be rebuilt" in a superior form (see Mevo L'Chachmat HaKabbala part 2, shaar 6, ch. 7). The order of creation that followed the disintegration of the world of Tohu is called the world of Tikun (literally translated as "rectification" or "restoration"). Regarding Tikun, the Torah states, "And G-d looked over everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). In the words of the Midrash (Bereishit Rabba 3:7; 9:2), as explained by the Arizal, "these please Me" refers to the sefirot of Tikun, whereas the sefirot of Tohu "do not please Me".
The sefirot of Tikun were emanated in such a way that they work together interdependently and harmoniously, as partzufim (literally, "visages" - sing. "partzuf") - compound structures of the sefirot. A partzuf is a metaphorical figure of human likeness, used to represent the expansion of an individual sefira (or group of sefirot) into a configuration with ten sefirot* of its own. Partzufim include Atik Yomin, Arich Anpin, Abba (Father) , Imma (Mother), Zeir Anpin (ben/Son)), Nukva (bat/daughther)]. As mentioned, the partzufim work as symbiotic harmonious systems instead of the discrete, independent, overpowering nekudot of Tohu.
* Ten sefirot in the Tree of Life
What could not be elevated into Atzilut remained in Beriya…
Although the sefirot of Tohu shattered and "died," nevertheless, a residue of the lights that were contained in the vessels remained clinging to the fragments of the vessels. These are referred to by the Arizal as the 288 nitzotzin (literally "sparks") - the initial number of fragments from the vessels that broke. The entire process is alluded to in Scripture in the first couple verses of Genesis: "In the beginning of G-d's creating the heavens and the earth, when the earth was tohu and void, and darkness was on the surface of the depths, and the sovereignty of G-d hovered (in Hebrew "merachefet") above the surface of the waters…."
The Arizal explains that the word "merachefet" is actually a compound of two words: "met" and "rapach" - signifying that 288 (the numerical value of rapach) fragments had died (in Hebrew, "met") - an allusion to the shattering of the vessels of Tohu into 288 initial sparks. (Mevo She'arim, shaar 2, ch. 8)
Although the fragments of the vessels initially fell into the world of Beriya, when their rectification (tikun) began, the most refined aspects of the vessels were able to ascend and became absorbed in the world of Atzilut. What could not be elevated into Atzilut remained in Beriya and became an integral part of it. What could not be absorbed into Beriya then descended intoYetzira and Asiya. The aspects of the vessels that could not be absorbed in even the lowest realm of holiness became the vitality of the realms of impurity, known as the kelipot. (Ibid.)
The shattering of the sefirot of Tohu is not a coincidence, nor does it signify a flaw in the creative process. On the contrary, it serves a very specific and important purpose, which is to bring about a state of separation or partition of the light into distinct qualities and attributes, and thereby introduce diversity and multiplicity into creation, as explained above. In addition, the shattering of the vessels of Tohu allows for the possibility of evil, and gives man the opportunity to choose between good (for which he gains reward) and evil (for which he is punished). Thus G-d's attributes of chesed (mercy, right side) and gevura (judgement or strength left side)- the attributes from which reward and punishment derive - are revealed in the world 9, which is one of the primary purposes of creation. (See beginning of Otzrot Chaim)
Creation and the Name of 72
It is important to know that all worlds [dimensions] and all creatures [that inhabit those dimensions] were created through permutations of the holy names.
The supernal root of all [these names] is the name Havayah.
It has 4 letters and 12 permutations, 3 for each letter. Thus, from 4, we obtain 12.
The 12 permutations of the Havaya:
Each of the 12 has [another] 6 [permutations] yielding [a total of] 72 Names. These are the 72 triads that emerge from the three verses, "Va'yisa," "Va'yavo," and "Va'yet." (Ex. 14:19-21)
The three verses are:
1) "Va'yisa…" : "G-d's Angel [that manifested as a pillar of cloud] - which had been moving in front of the Israelite camp, now traveled and went behind them. The pillar of cloud thus moved from in front of them and stood at their rear." (Ex. 14:19)
2) " Va'yavo…" : " It came between the Egyptian camp and the Israelite camp. There was now cloud and darkness [for the Egyptians] while [the pillar of fire]illuminated the night [for the Israelites]. Neither one approached the other that entire night." (Ex. 14:20)
3) " Va'yet …": "Moses extended his hand over the sea. Throughout the entire night, G-d drove the sea back with a powerful east wind, transforming the seabed into dry land. The waters were divided." (Ex. 14:21)
These three verses are consecutive and, as written in the Torah Scroll, each one contains exactly 72 letters. They are thus the basis for what is called the Name of 72 (triads). The first triad is formed by taking the first letter of the first verse, the last letter of the second verse, and the first letter of the third verse. This same pattern - straight, backwards, and straight - is followed for the remaining 71 letters in each verse, to form 72 triads.
Corresponding to these, there are four banners [i.e. angelic camps] in the Supernal Merkava [Chariot]. They are:
Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel. Each of these 4 consists of 3, again making a total of 12.
When we multiply each of these 12 by 6, this yields 72. These 72 are the Heavenly Tribunal, which the 70 Angel-Princes of the Nations depend on [to receive their sustenance]. Therefore, on Sukkot [when the Torah commands us to offer 70 oxen, one for each of the 70 nations(Num. 29:12-34; Sukka 55b)], we take the lulav, whose numerical value, together with its four letters [68 + 4] is 72.
There are 4 basic directions from which 12 sub-directions emerge…
Rabbi Reuven Margoliot (in his commentary to Bahir #94, note gimel) suggests that the discrepancy between 70 and 72 can be made up in one of two ways. The 70 nations (mentioned in Gen. 10) become 72 when Israel and G-d are counted. Alternatively, as mentioned in Bahir #167, 70 nations become 72 by adding Israel on one side, and the Satan on the other. Paralleling this, the 70 languages become 72 when Hebrew (the language of Israel) and Aramaic (the language of the forces of evil) are counted. Similarly, there are two ways to add to the 70 Elders to make 72: either Moses and the Shechina are added, or Moses and Aaron (as indeed the Arizal does below in our text).
Corresponding to these [either to the 4 letters of lulav, or to the 4 species that we join together: palm, myrtle, willow and etrog], were the three Patriarchs [Abraham, Isaac andJacob], plus David. [From them, came] the 12 tribes of Israel, and the 70 souls that accompanied Jacob down into Egypt. Corresponding to these were the 4 banners[camps] in the Desert. Each banner represented 3 tribes. Again, 4 x 3 = 12 tribes.
The 70 Elders together with Moses and Aaron totaled 72. Similarly, the 70 members of the Sanhedrin, plus two scribes, totaled 72. One scribe recorded everything in favor of the defendant, and one scribe recorded everything against.
Corresponding to these, there are 4 basic directions [South, North, East, West] from which 12 sub-directions emerge. Each basic direction has two sub-directions.
For instance: All the different types of animals and birds…were brought into existence through the 72 triads…
With due east, there is northerly-east and southerly-east.
With due west, there is northerly-west and southerly-west.
With due north, there is easterly-north and westerly-south.
With due south, there is easterly-south and westerly-south.
And if you should ask: What is the difference between southerly-east and easterly-south? As southerly-east is a sub-direction of East, East dominates. As easterly-south is a sub-direction of South, South dominates. The same is true of all the other sub-directions. There are thus 12 sub-directions, each of which bifurcates into 6, yielding a total of 72.
Corresponding to these, there are 72 types of creatures in the world, and 72 types of vegetation. All the different types of animals and birds also total 72. Why? Because they were brought into existence through the 72 triads.
[Translation and commentary by Avraham Sutton from Likutei Torah, parashat Bereishit (Chumash HaAri, Bereishit, p. 7-9)]
Two Systems of Ten Sefirot
The sefirot are ten spheres or classes, as it is stated in Sefer Yetzira, "Ten and not nine; ten and not eleven." This is their order:
Keter (crown or will) cannot be approached by any human*
Joh 5:30 `I (Yeshua) am not able of myself to do anything; according as I hear I judge, and my judgment is righteous, because I seek not my own will (ketter), but the will of the Father who sent me.
chochma (wisdom) right side*
Rom 11:33 O depth of riches, and wisdom (chochma) and knowledge of God! how unsearchable His judgments, and untraceable His ways!
bina (understanding) left side**
chesed (kindness,mercy) right side**
gevura (judgment,strengt) left side**
**Col 1:19 because in him it did please all the fullness to tabernacle,
** Exo 31:1 And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying,
Exo 31:2 `See, I have called by name Bezaleel*, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,
Exo 31:3 and I fill him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom (chochma), and in understanding (bina), and in knowledge (da'at), and in all work *
*Bezaleel: H1212 בְּצַלאֵל Btsal'el (bets-al-ale') n/p.
1. in (the) shadow of El (God)
tiferet (beauty also called the seat of Messiah, also the sefira of truth)
netzach(endurance) right side
hod (splendor) left side
yesod (foundation) membrum
Mal-chut (kingship or Kingdom).
In some schemes keter is omitted from the order of the ten sefirot, as will be explained further on. These schemes understand chochma to be the first of the ten and insert daat (knowledge) as a sefira after bina.
As a crown is on top of the head…so keter is on top of all the sefirot…
Keter is the highest level or sphere of the sefirot. The term itself denotes its significance: as a crown is on top of the head and encompasses it, so keter is on top of all the sefirot and encompasses them all.
The analogy is carried further: just as the crown is not a part of the head or the body but distinct from it, so keter is essentially distinct from the other sefirot. It is the first emanation, and as such the "lowest level" as it were, of the Emanator Himself. That is why keter *is called "the most hidden of all hidden" ("temira dechol temirin"), and is referred to as "naught" ("Ayin"). These terms signify the total concealment of the rank of keter due to its supreme sublimity.
Keter represent the perfect will of the Father coming down directly from the light and which cannot be reach on human level. It come as revelation through wisdom (chochmah) and understanding (Binah), both flowing throuh knowledge (da'at):
Pro 1:1 The proverbs of David's son Solomon, king of Israel.
Pro 1:2 These proverbs are for gaining wisdom (chochmah) and discipline; for understanding (binah) words of insight;
Pro 1:3 for acquiring the discipline that produces wise behavior, righteousness, justice, and upright living;
Pro 1:4 for giving prudence to the naïve, and knowledge (da'at) and discretion to the young.
Pro 1:5 Let the wise listen and increase their learning; let the person of understanding receive guidance
Pro 1:6 in understanding proverbs, clever sayings, words of the wise, and their riddles.
Pro 1:7 The fear of YHWH is the beginning of knowledge (da'at), but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Pro 1:8 My son, listen to your father's instruction, and do not let go of your mother's teaching.
Keter is so sublime and concealed that nothing can be said or postulated of it. While the other sefirot are sometimes represented by various letters of the alphabet, no letter can describe or represent keter. (In the paradigm where the four letters of G-d's name Havayah represent the ten sefirot, i.e. yud- chochma, hei - bina, vav - the unit of the six middot from chesed to yesod, hei - malchut, keter is represented by the "thorn" of the yud, thus not by any letter but by a mere dot.)
Ein Sof and the sefirot…
That is why keter is sometimes excluded from the scheme of the sefirot. It is too sublime to be included. It is a category and class all in itself. In fact it is called the "intermediary" between the Ein Sof and the sefirot, bridging the gap, as it were: it is the "lowest level" of the Light of the Ein Sof and from it, and through it, issue forth the successive divine emanations (thus being the very root or soul of the sefirot).
Keter represents the "lever" of divine manifestations and, as such, is called "the Supreme Will" ("Ratzon Ha'elyon") of G-d: not a particular will focused on some specific goal but the original Divine Willingness (Ratzon) underlying the creative will. It is the "Will of all wills", which precedes all powers or attributes (i.e., the sefirot).
In the metaphorical terminology of the Kabbala and Chasidut, chochma is called Abba (Father) and bina is called Imma (Mother)*.
* Gen 1:26 And God saith, `Let Us* make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule over fish of the sea, and over fowl of the heavens, and over cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that is creeping on the earth.'
Gen 1:27 And God (וַיִּבְרָא)* prepareth the man in His image; in the image of God He prepared him, a male and a female He prepared them.
*Hebrew: וַיִּבְרָא (literal: and HE (singular) created Elohim..........
Metaphorically speaking, the seed of Abba is implanted in the womb of Imma, and there the rudimentary plant of the seed is developed, expanded, externalized and informed. Daat is called "Ben" ("son"), i.e. the offspring of this union of chochma(Father) and bina(Mother).
Gen 1:26 And Elohim said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the livestock, and over all the earth and over all the creeping creatures that creep on the earth.”
Gen 1:27 And Elohim created the man in His image, in the image of Elohim He created him – male and female He created them.
Pro 6:20 My son, watch over your father’s command, And do not forsake the Torah of your mother.
Here in the "sod" (mystery), behind the literal (p'shat) we see the Father (YHWH) and the Mother (Ruach) having their specific purpose. In ancient times the Hebrew were nomads for most of them, it was the Father who gave the instruction to the family, but it was the responsibility of the mother to teach the Torah to the children, she was alsothe comforter when the children had hurt themselves, this part remain until today, where in many homes, the mother is one who comfort the children. This bring us to an interesting verse in the Brit HaChadasha, where Yeshua speaks of the comforter. Unfortunately, the translators from Greek documents, have changed the "she" into "he" masculine:
Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, she shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
In daat (knowledge) the original idea and concept has matured into corresponding dispositions. Therefore da'at is the all-inclusive essence of the middot, the emotive powers or attributes of the lower sefirot. This is because the lower sefirot from chesed (mercy) to malchut (Kingdom) express and reveal these dispositions originating in the "intellect".
Thus the middot are called the children* of chochma (wisdom/Father) and bina (understanding/mother), or, alternatively, the six middot from chesed to yesod as a unit is called "son" and malchut is called "daughter".
* These children are not physical but spiritual offspring:
Pro 6:20 My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law/Torah of thy mother:
It is in this context as "soul (essence) of the middot" that daat is not counted as a separate sefira to replace keter. For as a mere soul without its own independent vessel or body it cannot be included as one of the ten principles of the sefirot (see Etz Chaim 23:5, 8, 40:6).
The Ari is a third opinion to the effect that keter is somewhere in between Or (light) Ein Sof and the sefirot…
R. Moses Cordovero always counts keter as part of the ten sefirot and excludes daat as a separate sefira (see Pardes Rimonim 3:1 ff.n and Or Ne'erav 6:1, par. 5). In the system of R. Isaac Luria, daat is usually counted as one of the sefirot while keter is excluded (see Etz Chaim 23:1, 2, 5, 8; 25:6; 42:1).
Their difference in perspective evolves around the interpretation of Zohar I: 31b, where the plain meaning appears to support the opinion of R. Isaac Luria, though R. Moses Cordovero (see ibid., 2:3 ff.) interprets according to his opinion.
In fact this has long been a matter of dispute among the earlier kabbalists. While all are agreed that keter exceedingly excels the sefirot (chochma to malchut), some say that keter is identical with the Ein Sof (rather with the Or (light) Ein Sof) and therefore to be excluded from the scheme of sefirot, while others have it that keter, too, is an emanation and effect having a cause just like the other sefirot and, hence, is to be counted among them (see the discussion of these issues in Pardes Rimonim 3:1 ff., and Etz Chaim 42:1.)
The view of the Ari is a third opinion to the effect that keter is somewhere in between Or Ein Sof* and the sefirot, part of both, and bridging or linking them. In his view, keter is the "lowest" level of the Ein Sof as well as the very root or source of the sefirot. This issue relates to the disputed issue whether the term Ein Sof itself has reference to the actual Essence and Being of G-d as He is in Himself or to G-d qua First Cause.
*1Ti 6:15 which in His own seasons He shall reveal – the blessed and only Ruler, the Sovereign of sovereigns and Master of masters,
1Ti 6:16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or is able to see, to whom be respect and everlasting might. Amĕn.
In the context of the aforesaid, R. Isaac Luria adds that when speaking of the essential sefirot, keter is included, but when speaking of their general aspects (the "external aspects" of the sefirot) keter is omitted and daat is inserted instead (see Etz Chaim 23:5,8; and the Baal HaTanya's Likutei Torah III: 49c; cf.ibid. II: 46c and V:8a). [Ed. note: the perspective in which keteris omitted and daat is included can be understood as being from the viewpoint after Shevirat haKelim.]
[Adapted from "Mystical Concepts In Chassidism: An Introduction to Kabbalistic Concepts and Doctrines", available as a separate book (Kehot) or together with Likutei Amarim -Tanya, Book IV.]
Angels (malakim) 1: The True Story
The living creatures of the world of Yetzira are, in a general way, called "angels". They function on that plane as we function in the world of Asiya. The world of Yetzira may be said to be, in its essence, a world of feeling. It is a world whose main substance, or type of experience, is emotion of one kind or another, and in which such emotions are the elements that determine its patterns. The living beings in it are conscious manifestations of particular impulses - impulses to perform one or another act or respond in one or another way - or of the power to carry through an incentive, to realize, to fulfill the tendency of an inclination or an inspiration.
An angel* is a spiritual reality with its own unique content, qualities and character…
*Rev 19:9 And he (the malak/messenger/angel) said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who have been called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true words of Elohim.”
Rev 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “See, do not do it! I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers who possess the witness of יהושע. Worship Elohim! For the witness of יהושע is the spirit of prophecy.”
An angel is a spiritual reality with its own unique content, qualities and character. What distinguishes one angel from another is not the physical quality of spatial distance but rather a disparity with respect to the fundamental purpose of such an essence. The substantial quality of an angel may be an impulse or a drive, i.e. an inclination to love, fear, or pity.
To express a larger totality of being, we may refer to "a camp of angels". In the general camp of "love", for example, there are many subdivisions, virtually innumerable shades and gradations of tender feeling. No two loves are alike in emotion, just as no two ideas are alike. Thus, any general and inclusive drive or impulse is a whole camp and is not consistently the same at every level. Whereas among human beings emotions change and vary either as persons change or according to the circumstances of time and place, an angel is totally the manifestation of a single emotional essence.
The word for angel in Hebrew, "malach", means also "messenger". As its name in Hebrew signifies, the nature of the angel is to be an envoy to a degree, thereby constituting a permanent contact between worlds. An angel's missions transpire in two directions: it may serve as an emissary of G-d toward the earthly, to other angels and to worlds and creatures below the world of Yetzira, and/or it may also serve as the one who carries heavenwards from below, from our world to the higher worlds.
The real difference between man and angel is not the fact that man has a body, because the essential comparison is between the human soul and the angel. The soul of man is most complex and includes a whole world of different existential elements of all kinds, while the angel is a being of single essence and therefore in a sense one dimensional. In addition, man, because of his multi-faceted nature and capacity to contain contradictions (including his gift of an inner power of soul) has the capacity to distinguish between good and evil. It is this ability which makes it possible for him to rise to great heights, and by the same token creates the possibility for his failure and backsliding, neither of which is true for the angel.
From the point of view of its essence, the angel is eternally the same. It is static, an unchanging existence, whether temporary or eternal, fixed within the rigid limits of quality given at its very creation.
Those that have existed from the very beginning of time…constitute the channels of plenty through which the divine grace rises…
Among the many thousands of angels to be found in the various worlds are those that have existed from the very beginning of time, for they are an unfaltering part of the Eternal Being and the fixed order of the universe. These angels in a sense constitute the channels of plenty through which the divine grace rises and descends in the worlds.
But there are also angels that are continuously being created anew, in all the worlds, and especially in the world of Asiya, where thoughts, deeds, and experiences give rise to angels of different kinds. Every mitzvah (command) that a person does is not only an act of transformation in the material world, it is also a spiritual act, sacred in itself. And this aspect of concentrated spirituality and holiness in the mitzvah is the chief component of that which becomes an angel. In other words, the emotion, the intention, and the essential holiness of the act combine to become the essence of the mitzvah as an existence in itself, as something that has objective reality.
It is this separate existence of the mitzvah, by being unique and holy, that creates the angel, a new spiritual reality that belongs to the world of Yetzira. So it is that the act of performing a mitzvah extends beyond its effect in the material world. The power of the spiritual holiness within it - holiness in direct communion with all the upper worlds - causes a primary and significant transformation.
An angel cannot reveal its true form to man*, whose being, senses, and instruments of perception belong only to the world of Asiya, in which there are no means of grasping the angel. It continues to belong to a different dimension even when apprehended in one form or another. However, angels have been revealed to human beings in either of two ways: one is through the vision of the prophet, the seer, or the holy man - that is, an experience by a person on the highest level; the other is through an isolated revelation by an ordinary person suddenly privileged to receive from higher levels.
*Jdg 13:3 And a Messenger of יהוה appeared to the woman and said to her, “See now, you are barren and have not borne, but you shall conceive, and you shall bear a son.
Jdg 13:4 “And now, please guard, and do not drink wine or strong drink, and do not eat any unclean food.
Jdg 13:5 “For look, you are conceiving and bearing a son. And let no razor come upon his head, for the youth is a Nazirite to Elohim from the womb on. And he shall begin to save Yisra’ĕl out of the hand of the Philistines.”
Jdg 13:6 And the woman came and spoke to her husband, saying, “A Man (Hebrew text:aish not malak) of Elohim came to me, and His appearance was like the appearance of a Messenger of Elohim, very awesome. But I did not ask Him where He was from, and He did not declare to me His name.........................
Jdg 13:11 And Manowaḥ arose and went after his wife, and came to the Man (yish), and he said to Him, “Are You the Man (yish) who spoke to this woman?” And He said, “I am.”
Jdg 13:12 And Manowaḥ said, “Now let Your words come true! What is to be the rule for the youth’s life and his work?”
Jdg 13:13 And the Messenger (malak) of יהוה said to Manowaḥ, “Let the woman guard all that I said to her.
Jdg 13:14 “Let her not eat any food that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean food. Let her guard all that which I have commanded her.”
Jdg 13:15 And Manowaḥ said to the Messenger (malak) of יהוה, “Please let us detain You, and prepare a young goat for You.”
Jdg 13:16 And the Messenger of יהוה said to Manowaḥ, “Though you detain Me, I do not eat your food. But if you offer a burnt offering, offer it to יהוה.” For Manowaḥ did not know He was a Messenger of יהוה.
Jdg 13:17 Then Manowaḥ said to the Messenger of יהוה, “What is Your name? When Your words come true, then we shall esteem You.”
Jdg 13:18 And the Messenger of יהוה said to him, “Why do you ask My name, since it is wondrous?”
Jdg 13:19 And Manowaḥ took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to יהוה. And He did wondrously while Manowaḥ and his wife looked on.
Jdg 13:20 And it came to be, as the flame went up toward the heavens from the altar, that the Messenger (malak) of יהוה went up in the flame of the altar. And Manowaḥ and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground.
Jdg 13:21 And the Messenger of יהוה did not appear any more to Manowaḥ and his wife. Then (after that) Manowaḥ knew that He was a Messenger (malak/angel) of יהוה
When such a person or prophet does in some way experience the reality of an angel, his perception, limited by his senses, remains bound to material structures, and his language inevitably tends to expressions of actual or imagined physical forms. Thus, when the prophet tries to describe or to explain to others his experience of seeing an angel, the description verges on the eerie and fantastic. Terms like "winged creature of heaven" or "eyes of the supreme chariot" can be only a pale and inadequate representation of the incident because this experience belongs to another realm with another system of imagery. The description will necessarily be anthropomorphic.
One who sees an angel…does not always know that it is an apparition…
Thus, all the articulated visions of prophecy are nothing more than ways of representing an abstract formless spiritual reality in the vocabulary of human language; although, to be sure, there may also be a revelation of an angel inquire ordinary form, clothed in some familiar vessel and manifested as a "normal" phenomenon in nature. The difficulty is that the one who sees an angel in this way does not always know that it is an apparition, that the pillar of fire or the image of a man does not belong entirely to the realm of natural cause and effect. And at the same time, the angel - that is to say, the force sent from a higher world - makes its appearance and to a certain extent acts in the material world, being either entirely subject to the laws of our world or operating in a sort of vacuum between the worlds in which physical nature is no more than a kind of garment for some higher substance. For example, in the Bible, Manoah, the father of Samson, sees the angel in the image of a prophet, yet he senses in some inexplicable way that it is not a man he sees, that he is witnessing a phenomenon of a different order; only when the angel changes form completely and becomes a pillar of fire does Manoah recognize that this being which he has seen and with whom he has conversed was not a man nor a prophet, but a being from another dimension of reality, an angel.
The creation of an angel in our world and the immediate relegation of this angel to another world is, in itself, not at all a supernatural phenomenon. It is an integral aspect of life. When we are in the act of creating the angel, we have no perception of the angel being created; the act seems to be a part of the whole structure of the practical material world in which we live. Similarly, the angel who is sent to us from another world does not always have a significance or impact beyond the normal laws of physical nature.
Indeed, it often happens that the angel reveals itself in nature, in the ordinary common-sense world of causality, and only a prophetic insight or divination can show when, and to what extent, it is the work of higher forces. This is because man, by his very nature, is bound to the system of higher worlds, even though ordinarily this system is not revealed and known to him. It may be said that the realities of the angel and of the world of Yetzira are part of a system of "natural" being which is as bound by law as that aspect of existence we are able to observe directly.
Angels 2: Wings on Fire
Immediately above the world of Yetzira is the world called Beriya (throne of Ellohim), which, like the others, includes many different realms, levels, and chambers. And just as the world of Yetzira is comprised of a multitude of spiritual beings whose essence is pure feeling and emotion, the world of Beriya is a world of pure intellect. This mind quality of the world of Beriya is not a merely intellectual essence but rather expresses itself as the power and capacity to grasp things with a genuine, inner understanding. It is, in other words, the mind as creator as well as that which registers and absorbs knowledge.
The Divine Throne…is the means through which the divine plenty descends to the creatures and things of our world…
One of the other names for the world of Beriya is "world of the throne"*, taken from Ezekiel's vision of the divine Throne of Glory. One the whole, however, that aspect of the Divine that is revealed to the prophets is the world directly above the world of Beriya known as the world of Atzilut. This is the source from which G-d is made known to a few, while the world of Beriya is His seat or His throne, from which, as it is written, "the earth is His footstool". Moreover, the Divine Throne or Chariot is the means through which the divine plenty descends to the creatures and things of our world and makes contact with the many complex systems of all the worlds.
*Rev 5:1 And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, having been sealed with seven seals.
Rev 5:13 And every creature which is in the heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying, “To Him sitting on the throne, and (Greek: kai/and, also) to the Lamb, be the blessing and the respect and the esteem and the might, forever and ever!”
Rev 8:3 And another messenger came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer, and much incense was given to him, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the set-apart ones upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
Rev 8:4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the set-apart ones, went up before Elohim from the hand of the messenger.
Heb 12:2 looking to the Princely Leader and Perfecter of our belief, יהושע, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the stake, having despised the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of Elohim.
In the world of Beriya, there are chambers, so to speak, in which there is a certain measured rhythm of time, on one form or another, with a relation between past, present, and future, between cause and effect, and in which there are souls and creatures who belong specifically to this world. These creatures of the world of Beriya, are the higher angels, called "serafim", from the Hebrew word for "burn", "saraf". Like the angels of the world of Yetzira, the seraphim are singular abstract essences, not given to change, but whereas the angels of the world of Yetzira are embodiments of pure emotion, those of the world of Beriya are essences of pure intelligence. The seraphim are angels who manifest the higher levels of mind and also reflect the differences among various planes of consciousness and comprehension.
Even the seraf yearns mightily to approach the Divine…
Every creature of the world of Beriya also serves as an angel-messenger, receiving the plenty from the angelic beings and the souls of the world of Yetzira, and raising them up to a higher level in the world of Beriya and further, to endless heights.
As the nature of consciousness ascends according to the supernal level of each world, the creatures of the world of Beriya are more fully cognizant of the manner in which their world is constantly being created. At the same time, since the world of Beriya is still a separate world, its creatures and souls have their own individual selves. They may indeed perceive the divine light, and they may fully accept its dominance in everything, but, in feeling themselves separate from this infinite light, they recognize their independent existence. Even the seraf yearns mightily to approach the Divine, despite his being so far above anything man can grasp. And despite his being the embodiment of understanding and higher intelligence, he is aware that his is a reality still disconnected from the Divine.
Angels 3: Bad Angels
Besides the physical world, the world of Asiya (action) also contains a spiritual world - in fact, many spiritual worlds. These worlds and their various chambers vary greatly - indeed, so greatly that it is extremely difficult to see any unity in their spiritual significance. On the other hand, those domains of the spirit that issue from wisdom and creativity - such as philosophy, mathematics, art, poetry, and the like, which are morally or qualitatively neutral in their ideas of truth or beauty - are readily recognizable.
When a man sinks into this neutral position entirely…he fails to realize his specific human destiny…
However, there are domains of the spirit that have a certain gnostic significance, with a different value system, and that thus lend themselves to either a positive or a negative spirituality. For just as there is room for both physical and spiritual functioning of all kinds that raise the world and man to higher levels of holiness in the world of Asiya, so there is also that which makes contact between the world of human beings and those worlds lower than ours.
These worlds are called the "realms of evil", the worlds of the kelipa, the outer shell*.
*Isa 45:7 forming light and creating darkness, making (Heb.bara/creating) peace and creating evil (Heb.ra). I, יהוה, do all these.’
The domains of the kelipa constitute chambers in which there are hierarchical systems in which evil becomes more emphatic and more obvious with each distinct fallen level. And, as may be surmised, there is a strong interrelation with the world of Asiya. For although in itself the world of Asiya is neutral, in terms of its gnostic implication it belongs to the worlds of evil - and in particular to one of the levels of the outer shell called Kelipat Noga. This is a level of being containing all that is not in its essence directed either toward or against holiness. In terms of holiness, then, it holds a neutral position. When a man sinks into this neutral position entirely, without disentangling himself at all from it, he fails to realize his specific human destiny and is found wanting in the very core of his being.
Beneath the domain of Kelipat Noga are the thoroughly evil worlds. Each one of them has its own aspect of evil and as is the case with the worlds of holiness, is dynamically connected to the others, by the bonds of transformation between the worlds and planes, in a process that continues down to the very lowest depth of evil. As in all the worlds, manifestation takes three forms: worlds, year and soul. In other worlds, there is a general background of existence, acting as place in the spiritual sense (worlds), and there is an aspect connected with the relation to time and causality (year). In addition, they have a soul aspect: spiritual creatures inhabiting the worlds of evil.
These beings inhabiting the worlds of evil are also called "angels", but they are rather subversive angels, angels of destruction. Like the angels of the higher worlds, they are also spiritual beings and are limited each to a well-defined essence and each to its own purpose. Just as there is in the domain of holiness the quality (or angel) of love-in-holiness, of awe-in-holiness, and the like, so there are opposite emanations and impulses in the domain of evil - angels of destruction expressing love-in-wickedness, fear-in-corruption, and the like.
Just as it is true for the higher worlds that it is man and only man who is able to choose and perform good, so it is only man who can do evil. The subversive angels are thus also tempters and the inciters to evil, because they bring the knowledge of evil from their world to our world. And at the same time, the more evil a human being does, the more life-force do these angels draw from him for their world.
These same subversive angels may serve as an instrument for punishing the sinner, for the sinner is punished by the inevitable consequences of his deed, just as the tzaddik or saint receives his reward in the consequences of his benevolent deeds. In short, the sinner is punished by being brought into contact with the domain of evil he creates. The subversive angels are revealed in a variety of forms, in both material and spiritual ways, and in their revelation they punish man for his sins in this world of ours, making him suffer torment and pain, defeat and anguish, physically as well as spiritually.
The subversive angels…exist as permanent parasites living on man…
Like the worlds of evil in general, the subversive angels are not ideal beings, they nevertheless have a role in the world, enabling it to function as it does. To be sure, were the world to root out all evil completely, then as a matter of course the subversive angels would disappear, since they exist as permanent parasites living on man. But as long as man chooses evil, he supports and nurtures whole worlds and mansions of evil, all of them drawing upon the same human sickness of soul. In fact, these worlds and mansions of evil even stir up these sicknesses and are integral to the pain and sufferings they cause. In this sense, the very origin of the demons is conditioned by the factors they influence - like a police force whose existence is useful and necessary only because of the existence of crime. The spiritual implication of the subversive angels constitutes, in addition to their negative function, a framework intended to keep the world from sliding into evil.
The fact remains, however, that these angels grow in strength and power, constantly reinforced by the growing evil in the world. Their existence is thus two-sided and ambiguous. On one hand, the main reason for their creation is to serve as a deterrent and as a limit; in this sense they are a necessary part of the overall system of worlds. On the other hand, as the evil flourishes and spreads over the world because of the deeds of men, these destructive angels become increasingly independent entities, making up a whole realm that feeds on and fattens on evil, whereupon the very reason for this realm is forgotten, and it appears to have become evil for its own sake.
Man can liberate himself from the accumulating temptation of evil…
It is at this point in the paradox that the vastness and magnificent scope of the purpose and meaning of man become evident. We see that man can liberate himself from the accumulating temptation of evil*, by which act he compels the worlds of evil to shrink to their original mold. What is more, he is able to change these worlds completely so that they can be included in the system of the worlds of the holy.
Gal 5:16 And I say: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not accomplish the lust of the flesh.
Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. And these are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you desire to do.
Gal 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Gal 5:19 And the works of the flesh are well-known, which are these: adultery,1 whoring, uncleanness, indecency, Footnote: 1Only Textus Receptus contains adultery.
Gal 5:20 idolatry, drug sorcery, hatred, quarrels, jealousies, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions,
Gal 5:21 envy, murders, drunkenness, wild parties, and the like – of which I forewarn you, even as I also said before, that those who practise such as these shall not inherit the reign of Elohim.
Nevertheless, as long as the world remains as it is, the subversive angels continue to exist within the very substance of the world of Asiya, and even in domains above it, finding a place for themselves wherever there is any inclination toward evil. This happens because they themselves instigate and evoke the production of evil. They thus receive their life and power as the result of something they have aroused; and then finally, by their very existence, they constitute a punishment for the things they have helped to bring about.
The soul now finds itself wholly within the world-domain of these subversive angels whom it, as a sinner, created…
One of the most extreme aspects of evil in the world of Asiya (action) is called "Sheol" (grave/hell/world of the death). When the soul of man leaves the body and can relate directly to spiritual essences, thus becoming altogether spiritual (with no more than fragmented memories of having been connected with the body), then all that this soul did in life casts it into its right form on the appropriate level in the life after death. And thus the soul of the sinner descends, as it is symbolically expressed, to "Sheol"*.
*Gen 37:31 So they took Yosĕph’s robe, killed a male goat, and dipped the robe in the blood,
Gen 37:32 and sent the long robe and brought it to their father and said, “We have found this. Please look, is it the robe of your son or not?”
Gen 37:33 And he recognised it and said, “It is my son’s robe. An evil beast has devoured him. Yosĕph is torn, torn to pieces.”
Gen 37:34 And Yaʽaqoḇ tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days.
Gen 37:35 And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted, and he said, “Now let me go down into the grave (sheol) to my son in mourning.” So his father wept for him.
How can Ya'acov says that he will go to sheol/grave knowing thatYoseph has been devored by an evil beats, meaning nothing remain from his body to be buried, but he says that he (Ya'acov) will go to him?
Deu 32:48 And יהוה spoke to Mosheh that same day, saying,
Deu 32:49 “Go up this mountain of the Aḇarim, Mount Neḇo, which is in the land of Mo’aḇ, which is opposite Yeriḥo, and look at the land of Kenaʽan, which I give to the children of Yisra’ĕl as a possession,
Deu 32:50 and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aharon your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people.................
Deu 34:5 And Mosheh the servant of יהוה died there in the land of Mo’aḇ, according to the mouth of יהוה.
Deu 34:6 And He buried him in a valley in the land of Mo’aḇ, opposite Bĕyth Peʽor, and no one knows his burial place to this day.
How can Moshe be gathered to his people when nobody knows his burial place?
In ancient times, people didn't know what happen to somebody when he died, but had understanding concerning the world of the dead (sheol). Here we have two examples which demonstrate that people of this time believed of a kind of life after death!
In other words, the soul now finds itself wholly within the world-domain of these subversive angels whom it, as a sinner, created. There is no refuge from them, for these creatures encompass the soul completely and keep punishing it with full, exacting punishment for having produced them, for having caused the existence of those same angels. And as long as the just measure of anguish is not exhausted, this soul remains in "Sheol" (Hell). Which is to say, the soul is punished not by something extraneous but by that manifestation of evil it itself created according to its level and according to its essence. Only after the soul passes through the sickness, torment, and pain of the spiritual existence of its own self-produced evil, only then can it reach a higher level of being in accordance with its correct state, appropriate for the essence of the good it created. (End of series.)
Table for Correspondances
The term Tetragrammaton refers to the great, ineffable four-letter Name of G-d. Its primary meaning is Eternal Existence. A very important secondary meaning (appearing in the Code of Jewish Law) is "He was, He is, He will be." It is often translated as The Creator.
The letters that comprise the Name are the letters of the Hebrew root word for "Being". These letters are:Yud-Hei-Vav-Hei.
When a scribe draws the letter Yud, he begins with a dot in the place that will be the top of the letter. This dot is considered comparable to the Crown of the letter, to the sefira of Keter. In this way the four-letter Name can be represented with five aspects.
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DETAILS OF SIX SEFIROT
Gevura power, strength
Tiferet harmony, beauty
Netzach victory, eternity
Hod glory, majesty
Oneness and the Infinite
There is one infinite creator, the cause of causes and the maker of all. He is not one in a numerical sense -- since He is not subject to change, definition or multiplicity. He is one in that the number one signifies an independent unit and is the basis of all numbers; the number one is also contained in all numbers. Similarly, the Creator is actually within everything, and everything is within Him*. He is the beginning and cause of everything. The Creator does not change, and therefore one cannot add or subtract from Him.
*Act 17:27 to seek the Master, if at least they would reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
Act 17:28 “For in Him we live and move and are, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
Moreover, His existence is necessary existence (i.e. it is not contingent upon anything else), in the same way that the number one is a requisite for the existence of any other (whole) number. If the number one would cease to be, every other number would also cease to exist. However, if other numbers disappeared, one would continue to exist. There are properties of the number one; similar qualities apply to the Creator. Even if the act ceased to be, the One who acted remains. Because His being is not contingent upon the existence of anything else, were they to cease being, His existence would continue.
The unbounded revelation of G-d underwent a profound constriction
Prior to Creation, there was only the infinite revelation of G-d which filled all existence. This is called the Or Ein Sof-- the Infinite Light -- which is not G-d Himself, only His infinite revelation of Himself. Within this infinite revelation, limited beings could not possibly exist. Accordingly, there was a progressive lessening and constricting of the Or Ein Sof, making room for limited existence.
This progressive constriction, called tzimtzum, brought about various planes of reality -- called, in Kabbala, the five worlds. Each "world" is a certain level of concealment of G-dliness, of the Or Ein Sof. From the highest to lowest (i.e. from greater to lesser revelation) they are:
The entire physical universe is the lowest aspect of the world of Asiya. In each of the worlds there is an increasingly dim revelation of the Infinite light as it descends further and further and becomes more and more concealed. It is important to note that these worlds do not occupy different geographical places. They are not geographical at all, but rather descending planes of reality.
Chaos and the Primordial
The highest, or most exalted, of the five worlds is called Adam Kadmon. Adam means "in the likeness of" or "in the image of," from the Hebrew word domeh. Kadmon means "primordial", or "primary", from the Hebrew root kadam. So, Adam Kadmon is the primordial world which is "in the likeness of" the Infinite Light which preceded it and which was concealed in the process of creation. This means that even though Adam Kadmon is a world, meaning that it comes into being through the concealment of the Infinite Light, it is such an elevated plane of reality that it is "in the likeness of" the Infinite Light (which, by nature, "precedes" the world of Adam Kadmon).
Adam Kadmon ... mirrors the original Infinite Light*
* Heb 1:1 Elohim, having of old spoken in many portions and many ways to the fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by the Son, whom He has appointed heir of all, through whom also He made the ages,
Heb 1:3 who being the brightness of the glory and the exact representation of His substance, and sustaining all by the word
John 8:12 Therefore יהושע spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall by no means walk in darkness, but possess the light of life.”
1Jn 1:5 And this is the message which we have heard from Him and announce to you, that Elohim is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
Thus, although the world of Adam Kadmon is a world, it is a level so sublime, pure and transcendent that that it is almost imperceptible. It cleaves to and mirrors the original Infinite Light.
In Kabbala, the world of Adam Kadmon represents the transcendent will of G-d. G-d's desire for the Creation and how it is manifest are planned out in one broad, all-encompassing overview, without separation into specific details. This is called the machshava kedumah, or "primordial thought" of Adam Kadmon. The primordial thought functions as the blueprint for all of Creation.*
*Col 1:19 Because in Him all the completeness was well pleased to dwell,
Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible qualities have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, both His everlasting power and Mightiness, for them to be without excuse,
Rev 3:14 “And to the messenger of the assembly in Laodikeia write, ‘The Amĕn, the Trustworthy and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of Elohim,
.In the world of Adam Kadmon everything is seen in one broad overview, but the exact details are not yet separated and ordered into the categories of reality. All the details of Creation, from the beginning of space to the end of space and from the beginning of time to the end of time, are all superimposed in this one thought, for, in Adam Kadmon, there is no concept of space and time whatsoever. There is as yet no inside and no outside, no up and no down, no before and no after. There is only a potential for these limitations. Everything is undefined, unified, and simultaneous. Here lies the root and source of all the other planes of reality, which descend from Adam Kadmon.
As the light descends from Adam Kadmon, it breaks up into ten individual qualities*
* Joh 12:46 “I have come as a light into the world, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness.
It is clear that the succeeding levels of Creation, i.e. the series of worlds which descend from Adam Kadmon, particularly the lowest world, cannot possibly exist within the parameters of the existence of Adam Kadmon. Everything in Adam Kadmon is undefined, unified, and simultaneous, superimposed in a single primordial thought, which contradicts the very idea of worlds in the sense that we understand them, as limited being which presupposes separation and division. Subjectively, in terms of our awareness of G-d, the world of Adam Kadmon parallels the highest source of consciousness in man. It is the awareness of total unity with the Infinite Light.
The first step in bringing about the separation and division necessary for creating the lower worlds, is by "breaking" the unity of the light as it is in Adam Kadmon. As the light descends from Adam Kadmon, it breaks up into ten individual qualities or attributes (sefirot, sefira in the singular), which act as separate independent points of light. Each of these points is an extremely powerful concentration of light as it descends fromAdam Kadmon. These are called the sefirot of Tohu, which means "chaos" or "disorder". The world of Tohu is not included in the scheme of the five worlds mentioned previously, by virtue of the fact that it shattered and does not exist as a stable plane of reality.
The Sefirot of Tohu
It will be explained later that sefirot generally constitute the inner structure of each of the worlds, somewhat like the bones give shape and form to the body; however, in Tohu ("chaos" in Hebrew) this is precisely what is absent. The sefirot of Tohu are absolutely independent of each other and form no inter-relationships with each other. Thus there is no order and no structure. Moreover, each sefira in Tohu is the manifestation of only one absolute and quintessential aspect of the light of Adam Kadmon, and therefore it does not interact with the other sefirot, since they have nothing in common.
A consequence of this lack of interaction is that none of thesefirot of Tohu are able to limit the activity and expansion of any of the other sefirot to a level in which all the sefirot can function together. Therefore none of the sefirot can endure the activity of any of the other sefirot. This results in the disintegration, or "shattering" of the sefirot of Tohu.
The separateness brought about by the shattering of Tohu is rectified in Tikun
Scripture hints at this process in describing the succeeding kings of Edom:
"These are the kings who ruled in the land of Edom before any king ruled over the Israelites [representing the rectification of Tohu as will be explained shortly]. Bela son of Beor became king…died and was succeeded as king by Yoav…Yoav died, and he was succeeded as king by Chusham….Chusham died, and he was succeeded…,etc." (Gen. 36:31-39).
Rabbi Yitzchak Luria explains that this refers to the sefirot of Tohu, each of which rules exclusively, and then shatters and "dies".
Nevertheless, the shattering of the sefirot of Tohu is no coincidence, nor does it signify a flaw in the creative process. On the contrary, it serves a very specific and important purpose: to bring about a state of separation or partitioning of the light into distinct qualities and attributes and thus introduce diversity in creation. However, because the ultimate purpose of creation is not to remain in a state of separation and diversity but rather to achieve unity and harmony, the separateness brought about by the shattering of Tohu is rectified in Tikun, meaning "rectification", "restitution", or "reformation". Tikun signifies the syntheses and re-unification of the diversity and fragmentation introduced by the shattering of the vessels of Tohu. The nature and specifics of the rectification that takes place in Tikun will be discussed more fully below.
Close to the Light
The highest and most perfected level of Tikun is called the world of Atzilut, the world of Emanation*. The word Atzilut in Hebrew derives from the word etzel, meaning "close to" or "near". The world of Atzilut is "close to" the Infinite Light, even though it is not united and identified with it to the same degree as the world of Adam Kadmon.
Joh 1:18 No one has ever seen Elohim.1 The only brought-forth Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed.
The word Atzilut also means "to set aside", "take from", or "draw down", for the light of the world of Atzilut is, so to speak, "taken from" and "drawn down" from the world above it, the world ofAdam Kadmon.
At every stage of devolution of the Infinite Light, an additional factor of limitation is added. The dimension and limitation that is added in the world of Atzilut is the aspect of inner structure. Adam Kadmon is unstructured and so tightly bound together that it is impossible to distinguish top and bottom, inside and outside, beginning and end; in Atzilut, however, the dimension of internal structure is added. In fact, the entire concept of internalization, of immanence - as opposed to transcendence - is first evident in the world of Atzilut.
In the world of Atzilut there is a distinction between lights and vessels
Atzilut is thus the first plane, or world of immanence, of structure. In the world of Atzilut there is a distinction between "lights" and "vessels" --called orot and kelim, respectively. This is not a separation between the lights and vessels, for the lights and vessels of Atzilut are integrally bound up with each other. Nevertheless, there is a distinction between them. One aspect is recognizable as light and another is recognizable as the vessels which contain and limit the light.
A simple analogy: in an initial flash of insight, the "eureka" of sudden inspiration, one has not yet had the time to analyze and interpret the original insight and sort it into the appropriate categories of understanding. The inspirational idea is felt. It is present. However, the potential to analyze, interpret and understand the inspiration, hasn't been conceptualized yet. In our analogy, the world of Atzilut corresponds to the structuring of the idea and the process of understanding it. In more technical language, this is the forming of vessels for containing the original unformed light.
The amount of light revealed depends on the capability of the vessels to receive
Obviously, the amount of light revealed depends on the capability of the vessels to receive that light, just as the degree to which a person understands an idea is dependent on his intellectual capabilities. The original idea (an analogy for the light) and the understanding of it (an analogy for the vessels) are integrally connected -- for the idea is grasped only according to the level of understanding. They are, nevertheless, two distinct things. It could be, in our analogy, that the person doesn't understand the original idea; accordingly, what he doesn't understand remains in a transcendent state, beyond his intellectual capabilities. Light is grasped (i.e. internalized or made immanent) according to the ability of the vessels to receive it, just as an idea is grasped (i.e., internalized or made immanent) only according to the ability of the person to understand. In other words, the quality of light drawn down corresponds to, and is dependent on, the receptivity of the vessels. In the world of Atzilut the correlation between lights and vessels is about as perfect as it can be without the vessels actually disappearing, as they do in Adam Kadmon. The vessels in Atzilut exist, but they are nullified to the light.
This is how we would define the world of Atzilut -- there is internal structure, and the light becomes immanent; i.e. the light drawn down from above becomes structured and ordered. In our analogy -- the idea becomes understood perfectly.
The World of Tikun
This is why the world of Atzilut is called the world of Tikun, which means "rectification" and order. This is because in Atzilut the light becomes ordered and structured, according to the capability of the vessels to receive it. The vessels of Atzilut are as capable of receiving light as vessels can be before disappearing into oblivion. Thus it follows that structure in the world of Atzilut is neither a hindrance to, nor an obscuring of, the light, as it is in the lower worlds. In this sense, the world ofAtzilut is still a world of non-being, a world of thought, since the vessels are nullified to the light.
Note: the concept of structure will be explained where we discuss the sefirot, the emanated lights and vessels below. There it is explained how actual existence comes about through the vessels, not through the lights.
The World of Creation
The world of Beriya, the world of Creation, is a tremendous step down from the world of Atzilut. Beriya, or "creation", implies limited reality, or bringing into being a restricted existence. The dimension, the limitation, which is added by the descent of the light into the world of Beriya is the very concept of "being", as opposed to the "nothingness" of Atzilut.
In the world of Beriya the vessels begin to obscure the light
Atzilut is a world of non-being, because the structuring of the light by the vessels is not a hindrance or an obscuring of the light, as it is in the world of Beriya. Unlike Atzilut, however, in the world of Beriya the vessels begin to obscure the light and thereby create limited beings. This can be understood by way of an analogy: if one were to go out on a day so sunny and bright that he would not be able to see anything if he kept his eyes wide open, he would have to almost close his eyes in order to see. In such a scenario, squinting his eyes, he can only make out vague shapes. With sunglasses, however, he can see better -- he can see things clearly. This is like the world of Beriya in that the clear form and existence of things only becomes apparent when the light is sufficiently dimmed and obscured. Of course the analogy is imperfect since the objects which one sees with sunglasses were always separate, individual objects -- which is not entirely true in the world of Atzilut.
Between the way one understands something and his ability to explain it to someone else, there is a tremendous gap. In the world of Beriya, we are not even talking about actually explaining an idea to another person. We are still talking about planning in one's mind how one would explain it to another person before actually doing so. In the world of Atzilut, the structuring of the original flash of inspiration, the original idea, was only in one's own understanding; in addition, his grasp of the idea was proportionate to his own ability to comprehend. In the world of Beriya, however, there is an additional factor, namely the limitations of the recipients or interpreters of that which is meant to be conveyed. A teacher who wants to explain an idea to his student first has to measure the capability of his student to understand, and the teacher has to tone down and limit the idea accordingly. In fact, although for his own understanding it is not necessary for him to break the idea down into various simpler components, for his student he must do so. This is because the student is, as yet, unable to grasp a vast complexity of ideas all at once as the teacher does.
Beriya is considered to be outside of the realm of the Infinite Light
The word Beriya in Hebrew signifies "outside of." This implies a new level of separation, for Beriya is considered to be outside of the realm of the Infinite Light. That is to say that in Beriya the Infinite Light is concealed to such an extent that it is considered as separate from the Infinite Light, even though, as we pointed out before, there is no place devoid of the Infinite Light. An analogy is used in the Kabbala to explain the relationship between Beriya and Atzilut: the light of Atzilut is like the light of a candle in a room, and the light of Beriya is like the light of the candle as it is seen on the other side of a curtain which closes off the room.
In a subjective sense, the awareness of separation implies that one is conscious of one's existence as a distinct (albeit dependent) entity.
Forming Time and Space
The limitation that is added by the descent into the world of Yetzira, the world of Formation, is that of dimension itself. Formation is essentially a spatial concept, and Kabbala also discusses the nature of space. It is important to know that the Kabbala views time and space as created conditions and not as intrinsic qualities, as will be discussed shortly. That is to say that until the descent of the light to the world of Yetzira, the light is not limited by dimension. And even in the world of Yetzira dimension is still spiritual and has not yet entered the physical limitations of space.
Each of the directions is derived from a spiritual quality
Physical space has six dimensions which limit and define it. These are: above and below, right (south) and left (north), in front (east) and behind (west). In Kabbala each of the directions is derived from a spiritual quality, namely, one of the six aspects of the world of Yetzira.(The spiritual dimension of the world of Yetzira devolves in the world of Asiya into actual physical space.) In the world of Yetzira, these six dimensions are called the six middot, or the six sefirot, which are revealed primarily in that world. The word midda in Hebrew means "dimension", "limitation", or "measurement". This is the primary characteristic of the world of Yetzira: that light which descends there is limited and measured.
One of the characteristics of dimension or measurement is that it requires at least two reference points - the place something starts and where it ends. Accordingly Yetzira, the source of dimension, is the first plane of existence where polarity and duality (the opposite of unity and oneness) come into being. Thus, there is the beginning of relationship, i.e. a situation in which each aspect is defined in reference to something else, rather than in terms of its own intrinsic qualities. It is important to note that, in Yetzira, this duality is still spiritual, and therefore the characteristics of the world of Yetzira are beyond the limitations of physical space.
The more light the vessels receive, the more they expand and grow*
* Col 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about this, we have not stopped praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the full knowledge (da'at) of God's will with respect to all spiritual wisdom (chochmah) and understanding (bina),
Col 1:10 so that you might live in a manner worthy of the Master and be fully pleasing to him as you bear fruit while doing all kinds of good things and growing in the full knowledge (da'at) of God.
Spatial dimension in the world of Yetzira can be understood in the following way: "Above" is the active reaching out of light and life force (analogous to sunlight streaming down from above), which descend to the vessels, which are ready to receive them (to continue the analogy - like plants or trees which absorb the sunlight). "Below" is the receiving by the vessels; the more light the vessels receive, the more they expand and grow (south, toward the path of the sun, toward the light), and consequently, the more elevated they become (i.e. advance toward the origin of the light). If the vessels, however, are too immature and constricted, or because something prevents the light from reaching the vessels, they contract and do not grow. They may even face away from the source of light, and retreat, like a plant shriveling and dying. This is the inner spiritual dimension of physical space.
In the analogy used previously to describe the worlds, if the original idea and its expansion in understanding represents the world of Atzilut, and considering how to describe the idea to another person represents the world of Beriya, then the actual explanation of the idea to another represents the world of Yetzira. In explaining an idea to someone else, there is bound to be a limit as to how much of the original understanding can be transmitted through speech. Some have more success at this than others, but even the best teacher cannot communicate his own exact understanding to his student. The student has to work on this himself. Thus, speech is much more limited than thought. So too, the descent of the light into the world of Yetzira defines and limits the light so that it can be absorbed by the lowest level vessels of the world of Asiya. In doing so, the light becomes much more hidden and much more limited. In this way each vessel becomes separated from the other, because each receives the light and expresses it according to its own specific nature. Thus there is division and diversity.
Action and the Physical
The most limiting feature of all is the limitation of time. The limitation of time means that one object cannot be in two different places simultaneously. Moreover, the concept of time is bound with that of change. This means that when one thing ceases to be and another thing begins to be, a change has occurred. Change can only take place where the unity and infinity of G-d are hidden, namely, where the continuity of being is not evident.
The most limiting feature of all is the limitation of time
Time is created by way of the process of the extension and retraction of the light and life force as it reaches out to the vessels below and returns to its original place. The "gap" between the reaching out and the returning of the light and life-force, as it pulsates continuously from above, creates time. From moment to moment the light and life force extends "downward", and then retracts, returning to its original place. That which it activated or vitalized "dies", so to speak, as soon as the life force is withdrawn, and then when it reaches down once again, it creates a new being. This change is the origin of time, for time is a measure of change. This process is analogous to a motion picture. Light shining through the constantly changing frames of the strip of film appear to create a continuous scene. In reality, however, each frame in the strip of film is distinct from the previous one; it is only because the movement of the frames is so fast that the human eye is unaware that there are separate images. Thus the scene appears to the eye to be continuous. So too is it with the pulsating of life-force into the physical world -- the "gap" between one pulse and the next is so minute, that the scene appears to be continuous.
This reaching out and returning of the life force from above is mirrored in the advance and retreat of the life force below. The pulse which you can feel in your wrist and in your heartbeat is the result of this process. Each time you feel the thump of your pulse or your heartbeat, it indicates that a different "permutation" of the light and life force is enlivening you. Because of this constant renewal, you change from moment to moment.
The near perfect state of rectification …needs to be drawn down into this world
In Kabbala, this continuous pulsation or fluctuation is manifested in the world of Asiya, or the world of Action. The essence of the world of Asiya is action. The story of Creation concludes with the words "that G-d made to do (or to rectify)." The word "to do", in Hebrew la'asot, is derived from the same word as Asiya -- action. This world is created for the sake of action, which means rectification. The near perfect state of rectification of the world of Atzilut (see above) needs to be drawn down into this world too. This world is created "incomplete." What it is "lacking" is the revelation of G-dliness that is found to greater or lesser extent in the supernal worlds. The rectification of Asiya is the revelation of G-dliness in this world through the actions of man.
The Jewish sages therefore recommend that every person say to himself "for me the world was created." This does not mean one should regard oneself as the center of the universe and everything was created to serve one's ego. Quite the contrary. Rather understand the phrase to mean: "For me the concealment of G-d was created in order that I should reveal G-dliness in this world and thereby rectify it." This is the task G-d created for us: to reveal the inner dimensions, the G-dliness, contained and yet hidden in this world. Thus, the world of Asiya, the world of Action, is really the ultimate purpose of Creation. For here, more than anywhere else, G-dliness is hidden. And G-d can be revealed here even more than in the worlds above, as will be explained.