The Torah is the Creator’s blueprint for creation; Kabbalah’s Etz Chayim its decoding map for understanding the secrets of the written and oral teaching of the Torah. The map represents Adam Kadmon, the primordial man from which all of the worlds originate. “This Adam Kadmon acts as a filter through which the light of the Infinite is emanated,” says the Ari (R. Issac Luria), “especially from his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, representing the human organs of vision, hearing, smell, and speech.” Adam Kadmon was how the Creator engendered the four worlds by which the universe is structured: emanation (Atzilut), creation (Beriyah), formation (Yetzirah) and action (Asiyah). Our bodies, souls and all of creation function in these four dimensions.
Humanity, being made in God’s image, explains why Kabbalah’s holy map is a sacred tool for humanity’s development and refinement. Each of us reflects this sacred pattern in our spiritual and material composition. Using Kabbalah for self-refinement can lead to Prophetic union with God and his Holy Spirit, making one’s life meaningful, joyous and full of peace.
Breaking of the Vessels and Raising the Fallen Sparks
Prior to settling on the Etz Chayim as a model for the gradual descent of the light from God, the Creator utilized a variety of methods for distributing his limitless light to the world. The Creator (HaShem) emanated his light (orot) directly into vessels (kelim) below. Each successive vessel was smaller than the one above it. Unable to hold all of the emanations from preceeding vessels, each Sefirah broke in succession. This resulted in what is called in Kabbalah “the breaking of the vessels” (Shevirat HaKelim), producing the “fallen sparks” which are encased in the (Kelipot), the shells of evil. It is from these Kelipot or shells that all evil inclinations are derived. The Creator’s purposeful event (of Shevirat HaKelim) created the opportunity for Humanity to utilize our God given free will for the repair of all sin. This is what is meant by, ‘choosing good.’
Choosing Good Over Evil
When we do what is most beneficial according to the divine laws we are given, we elevate the sparks in that situation, person, place or idea. Each of our spiritual missions includes elevating these fallen sparks of holiness wherever they are found. “Man was given the task of rectifying all creation in maintaining all things in the state
desired by God, man is serving God and doing His work. This is accomplished through man’s actions based on the Torah and commandments that he was given. All of this however, is based on the fact that man is God’s servant, and was therefore given the task of rectifying all creation. It is for this reason alone that his deeds can have such an effect and he can thus actually accomplish this. The fact that man has this responsibility is called God’s yoke…” or the yoke of Torah.
The 613 divine commandments, the good deeds and blessings that accompany them, as well as actions we are to restrain from doing, rectifies the light encased in the ‘Kelipot’ or shells of evil in the world, elevating them back to the Creator transformed. We live in a world of matter and spirit. HaShem’s spirit vivifies matter, materializing spirit so to speak, and human beings, birthed into the world of matter, elevate the material realm by spiritualizing it. It is as though each person acts as an alchemical helper, having the potential to refine everything we come into rapport with, and it is through this that even evil is transformed into good. The Lurianic (Rabbi Issac Luria’s) frame of reference tells a story of the Creation of humankind, its fall and ultimate redemption. The Seven Prophetesses of Israel are a proving of his holy insights.
Kabbalah tells this Lurianic story of creation as a willed contraction by the Creator, called a Tzimtzum, and the resulting single ray of emanation this contraction produced, which took the form of the ten Sefirot. It is from the ten Sefirot that Adam Kadmon (the primordial man) was made, according to the Ari, “who is the sole conduit and filter through which energy flows from the Infinite into the finite worlds that are destined to be created in the midst of the void.” The Ramchal explains what this book posits as well, that all of this work (avodah) of self refinement leads to elevating the body itself. The body participates in the soul’s eternal glory, by choosing good ‘in this world’ (Olam HaZeh) which will be elevated to a status of immortality at resurrection. The ultimate reward for this accomplishment, of control over one’s will and desires is in the World to Come, (Olam HaBa). Torah and Kabbalah give us the tools for this ultimate purpose of perfection. All of Lurianic Kabbalah stems from this foundation.
D. Menzi, Z.Padeh, The Tree of Life. Introduction XXIV.
HaShem is a term used in place of the word God, and literally means ‘the name’ referring to the unknown and unpronounceable name of the Creator.
For a more thorough study of the subject read, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, Tanya (Likutei Amarim), (Brooklyn, NY.: Kehot Publication Society, 1993.) Chapter 10.
R.C. Luzzatto, (translator R.Aryeh Kaplan) Derech HaShem, The Way of God. (Jerusalem, NY.: Feldheim Publishers, 1983/5744), 297.
D.Menzi and Z. Padeh, The Tree of Life, xxxviii
Ramchal (R.C. Luzzatto,) Derech HaShem, 391-397.
Excerpted from Kabbalistic Teachings of the Female Prophets
The Seven Holy Women of Ancient Israel
by J.Zohara M. Hieronimus
Inner Traditions, 2008