by I.Krakovski (scholar of Rabbi Y.Ashlag)
1) There is no single substance existing in the world, whether it be that which we experience through the senses, or that which we perceive through the mind, which is not comprised in the Creator. Everything emanates from Him. Therefore, what we know as contrary, or unrelated substances, in Him, are but one unified Substance.
For example, we distinguish wisdom as a substance which is utterly different from a sweet-tasting substance. In the difference that exists between that which is sweet and that which is bitter we find even greater diversity. Likewise we discern difference in doer of an act and the act itself. Thus, to our senses, or mental perceptive faculties, each substance, each taste, is unique and completely distinctive in appearance and attribute.
No such discrimination of substance is discernible in the Origin, the Creator, who is the Source of all substance. Wisdom, sweetness, bitterness, performer, performance, all diversity is simplified at the Source to an absolute and undefined abundance which is beyond human power to discern. All is comprised as unity in His Simple Light, with no difference whatsoever discernible.
2) The leading ancient Kabbalists tell us that we may understand this as “Echad, Yachid, Myuchad”. that is, “Unique One, Particular One, individual One”.
?Echad” signifies that the Creator is equally present everywhere in all worlds. ?Yachid” signifies that everything is drawn from Him, and although before us appears a multiplicity of abundance, in Him, in the Source, all is unity, even as His Substance itself. All abundance springs from the One Origin in which no differences are discernible. Thus, Heavenly Abundance in Its Source cannot be defined. “Myuchad” signifies that although in Creation manifold deeds are executed, the One Power performs all. Finally these manifold actions revert to the Unique Phases which engulfs them into Its Unity. The actions which were previously discernible as multiple are now merged into unity. (Myuchad also points out the moral that all of man’s actions and endeavors in this world should be consecrated to the One. As the sages express it: “Happy is he who occupies himself with Torah and brings contentment to His Maker.” In other words, the act of learning Torah, which is considered the most important precept to be fulfilled, is incomplete and unacceptable unless it be motivated by love of the Creator and desire to bring rejoicing to Him. Not for aggrandizement of one’s ego; not for monetary gain; not for any selfish purpose is Torah to be studied. The sages reveal the true aim of Torah study when they say it is to “bring contentment to His Maker”).
But this is a very subtle matter, which not all may understand. The identical explanation of “Echad, Yachid, Myuchad” is given by the Kabbalist Nachminides Ramban in his commentary on the “Sefer Yetzira” Chap. I, Section 7. The same thought is also expressed by Maimonides (Rambam) in the words: “He knows, He is That Which is known, and he is Knowledge,”
The Creator is Himself knowledge, knowing and the thing known, His knowledge does not consist in the fact that He directs His thoughts to things without Him since in comprehending and knowing Himself He comprehends and knows everything which exists. There is nothing which is not united with Him and which He does not find in His own Substance. He is the Archetype of all things existing and all things are in Him in their purest and most perfect form; so that the perfection of the creatures consists in the support whereby they are united to the primary source of His existence, and they sink down and fall from that perfect and lofty position in proportion to the separation from Him.
3) The Bible compares a person to a tree in a field, making of the tree and its root an analogy to a human being and his Origin. From this we can make important deductions.
We know that a tree is constituted of a root, trunk, branches and fruit, all of these coming from the root. Yet in the root itself we cannot discriminate these different elements. We know, indisputably, that they all spring from the root, yet the root shows no sign of its future development into an entire tree.
In the same manner we must look at the human being with his divine soul, which is sent forth from the Root, or Origin. During the period that the soul is in its Origin it abides in the Divine Sanctuary of the Creator, where it receives its full share of sustenance. When it is destined to be created, then it appears as a human being, an earthly body. This corporeal garment clothes the soul, which is content to dwell in its earthly abode, to enjoy life, and draw material sustenance from the mundane world, while still drawing spiritual sustenance from its Root the Origin of all Beings.
4) Let us attempt to comprehend Spiritual Substance. When the Israelites were fed Manna in the desert, it was of Spiritual Essence. The sages tell us that Manna was Spiritual Substance, that It possessed many tastes, or, as they narrate it, it held a different taste for each and every partaker. For one it was bitter, for the next it was sweet. How can it be imagined that one substance was both sweet and bitter besides having various other flavors.
The only answer is that Manna had neither color nor taste. It was a spiritual substance which took on the attributes accorded it by the recipient. Before such sustenance is realized by the senses or vessels of a person, it is still considered to be in its Origin. We have already seen that even in a tangible source, such as a root, there exists an absolute and inscrutable unity. How much more then is this true of a spiritual Source where there is no trace whatsoever of substance.
Picture, for example, three foods such as milk, honey and wine which are blended together. How is such a mixture to be classified? It is not milk, neither is it honey, nor yet wine. It is a conglomeration of substances, with all differences blended in to make one unified essence. So it is in a root, which is a single composite comprising the several different elements of the fully developed plant. Only after the potentiality in the root is manifested into actuality do we realize its various substances, by means of our sense perceptions.
>From the foregoing we may infer two different periods for each and every spiritual substance. First, while it is still with the Creator in its Celestial Abode where it is in its changeless simplicity and beyond the bounds of human perception (even inaccessible to any vessel of spiritual substance). Though it is free from all classifications, yet it comprises the manifold tastes, colors, shapes, etc. which are known to human experience. Second, when it approaches and enters the human vessel, the Heavenly Splendor is clothed in a finite, earthly garment, its destined body ,and reveals distinct characteristics according to the stamp placed upon it by the body.
Thus we must bear in mind the distinct qualifications of the two successive periods of
Spiritual Substance. The following illustration may convey with greater vividness the
attributes of Spiritual Substance.
Water has neither color nor shape. Placed in a red dish, the water appears red. Placed in a triangular dish, the water becomes triangular; in a round dish, then its shape is round, Thus although we know that water, outside of a container, is simple and without color or shape, it takes on the color and shape of any vessel in which it is placed. So spiritual substance, before it enters the earthly abode, the human body, is simple and indiscernible. When it comes into contact with the human body, the latter moulds the Spirit according to its own individual character.
5) In order to obtain a true concept of spiritual substance, man must first rid himself of many false conceptions. He must seek the sublime truths regarding Spirit which are contained in the literature of the Kabbalah. By such guidance and concomitant transformation-formation of his behavior, man can be transplanted from his inferior, earthly horizon to the exalted realm of spiritual vision, to the world of Intelligence.
Man will then begin to recognize within himself an Essence which is one with that of the Supreme Substance, and from that plane he will be free from the pull of this mundane world of the senses. In this exalted spiritual degree, man will find material earthly substance to be exceedingly insignificant, in comparison with spiritual substance.
6) Having pointed out that spiritual substance is indiscernible and indefinable while in its Celestial Source, we shall now attempt to discern the spiritual entity that is the human soul. The soul is subdivided into five different grades, one superior to the other, but we shall elaborate on these in later chapters. Let us now speak only of that part of the human soul which abides in the Heavenly Bosom.
The sages claim that the soul is a “part of God,” and that it is identical with the “whole,” the “Creator,” or the ‘Universal Spirit.’ The only difference is that the soul is a part, while God is the Complete, Universal Spirit
They also simplify for us the relationship of God and the soul by citing the example of a mountain and the stone which is hewn from it. They say that there is but one point of difference between the mountain and the stone. The stone is only a part of the mountain, while the mountain is the whole.
7) This brings us to the question of how we can liken earthly properties to celestial
properties. We are aware of the fact that matter can be divided by hewing, or chopping; by the use of ax, hammer, knife or some similar instrument. But how can we separate spiritual entities? By which means, tools, or laboratory instruments are spiritual objects subdivided and discriminated so as to express the Creator or Universal Spirit as Whole, and the soul as the part?
We shall try to analyze and discuss this grave spiritual problem introduced by the holy sages, so that we may establish concrete knowledge of the nature of spiritual subdivisions, and reveal the basic cause of the separation of the human soul from its Origin.
To truly understand the soul, we must first study the manner in which subdivision of spiritual substance takes place, even though it is indivisible in the Origin.
Bear in mind that spiritual substance is divided by the process of transformation only. For instance, if a spiritual substance acquires two phases, then that very substance is already considered as two instead of one.
We are aware of the natural law of Spirit: that It is indiscernible, immutable and therefore indivisible, yet we know that there are numerous Crude Spirits as they are equal in number to he bodies in which they abide, and in which they diffuse their spiritual Light. Ultimately we must realize that the cause of their plurality is the transformation which is caused by the separate human bodies. As the sages have expressed it:
“Just as the faces of mankind are manifold, so is their intelligence also manifold; they differ one from the other.”
8) Thus we infer that the human body expresses the nature of the spirit, manifesting either a good or a bad person, and all the various types of personalities that may be described. When we speak of a person who is bad, we think of a faulty spirit in him. Although this is true, it must be remembered that the spirit is shaped according to a faulty body, since spirit is moulded according to the body in which it dwells., as mentioned above, and by itself is flawless.
The transformation or dissimilarity of phases of spirit caused by the human body results in the division of spirit, and the measure of remoteness of one spirit to its neighboring spirit is according to their degree of dissimilitude.
We know of the difference in the disposition of the saint and the wicked man; we conclude, then, that these two spirits are separated because of the difference in their dispositions, and that they are at opposite poles. The others, he who desires to give more or less, although diversified, possess relative tendencies of affinity, and therefore the distance between them is not so great as the boundless gap existing between the saint and the wicked man.
9) Truly speaking. our conclusion that spiritual substance is divided by transformation, or dissimilitude of phase, applies only to cruder spirits, which connect immediately with the body. How, then, can we solve the problem of the division from God of what we call “the soul?” Of that which is the highest degree of being, and which corresponds with the Universal Spirit, or Creator? The sages have that this soul is a distinct part of God while it still abides in its Heavenly region.
The riddle, then, is: In what manner is this soul distinguished and set apart so that we
recognize it to be a part of God? By what difference or attribute is it distinguishable so that we surname it “soul” and consider it to be separate from the Whole or Origin?
We dare not even think that a transformation or diversity of phase took place in the soul, or that some incident occurred in the Celestial Abode to stamp the soul with a distinctive quality. We have already laid the solid foundation that souls, while in their Celestial Abode, or Source, are undefined, for the Source is Simple and Smooth, void of all colors and tastes. As for knowing aught of the soul while it resides in the Heavenly Pleroma, this is impossible, for there are as yet no means at our disposal with which to perceive it there.
In a previous discussion, we have stated that even the Manna in the desert was indiscernible before it entered the human body. It must be borne in mind that although the substance of souls still in their Origin, before they come into immediate contact with bodies, is “simple,” yet it is inclusive, and is constituted of manifold phases and qualities. Spirit is an absolute Unity while in its Origin, as we have mentioned earlier, when we spoke of God and said that ‘He is equally present In all the worlds.” All substances come from One Origin, and all powers; potential and actual, are related to the One, the Creator.
10) By what means of research, then, do the sages discriminate the Soul as a substance that was once in unity with God, but later separated from Him and became identifiable in a form possessed of certain particular qualities?
What caused the Soul to be severed from its Origin! what impelled it to abandon its Source so that it came within the range of human analysis, as an individual entity which bears the test of speculation and practical experiment?
It must be borne in mind that when the Soul assumes a new form and bears the name of “soul”, it possesses some particular quality which estranges it from the Origin. Because of this peculiar quality the soul is considered as a separate part of God. Were it not for this differentiation the soul would remain identical with God Himself, since it is still in the Bosom of the Heavenly Sanctuary.
To clearly understand this, we must delve deeply into the unfathomable depths of the divine wisdom and explore the as yet undiscovered gems in the ideas of creation, with its exalted purpose.
11) At this point let us examine at greater length the subject of the Creator and the creation. Let us discover the aim which prepossessed the Creator and caused Him to bring this mundane world into being? It is self-evident that no act is ever performed, even by a limited conscious being, without a motive power or definite purpose which is the inducement towards action. Our main effort then, must be first to become aware of the actual aim of the Creator, of the purpose for which this world was created. We must seek out the cause for there being celestial or spiritual worlds as well as a mundane or material world, together with all that they comprise. The question is discussed by sages in the “Zohar,” where the solution is revealed in the simple and truthful answer that “since the Creator has the oftproclaimed attribute of “all-goodness” He therefore created this mundane world with its human inhabitants, in order that He might bestow to them His infinite love and abundance.”
The Zohar goes on to question: “If God desired to bestow His abundance to humanity, why did He cast the noble and divine souls to this earthly plane, into bodies built of clay, where they endure sorrow, temptation, and the trials of the evil spirits which the material body inflicts upon the soul? He could rather have kept them in His Heavenly spheres where all spirits rejoice in Paradise, where they merit the unutterable goodness of the Divine Splendor which is bestowed to them.”
The Zohar then answers in concise but simple terms that “the natural consequence of eating unearned bread of receiving something that is not earned by labor and endeavor is embarrassment and shame.” In terminology of the Zohar: “He eats the bread of shame.” In order to efface from these recipients the defect of shame. which is attendant upon their “eating of the unearned bread”, God created this world, peopling it with earthly bodies through which the soul must labor and struggle. By prayer, divine worship , learning of Torah and preserving its doctrines, codes and ethics, the goal of purification and sanctity is reached. After the necessary amount of service is performed, God bestows the ineffable Heavenly Light upon the devoted soul, while he is yet upon earth, And here no shame is felt.
The recipient of this abundance experiences the all-goodness and perfection of his Creator, and knows as well the delight and contentment which follows the successful accomplishment of exacting labor.
Reflecting upon this solution of the Zohar, we realize that the labor exerted in the study of Torah and the performance of all doctrines and precepts is still not equivalent to the infinite reward of the Heavenly bounty which is bestowed to the individual. How can a lifetime of labor balance the reward of eternal happiness? Consider this example of a wealthy person who invited a man to perform a certain manual task for one hour a day, and who remunerated the laborer for that hour with an exorbitant amount of money, the compensation being far above the value of the labor exerted.
12) To understand the Zohar’s answer that the soul, by adding in this earthly cavern which is the human body, and by the performance of all religious duties, is deserving of unbounded Heavenly rewards, we must enter into the discussion and analysis of the form and function of the Godly “Thought” which created the Universe, the Celestial and terrestrial worlds.
It is self-evident that the consummation of this entire creation was preceded by but one single Thought, and not by, a multitude of the Creator’s “thoughts”, as would be the case where a limited human being were to erect a house or similar establishment. The essential attribute of the Creator, as previously stated, is “Echad, Yachid, Umyuchad” absolute unity in every detail.
Just as the Creator’s attribute is absolute simplicity, so it is with the Heavenly Lights which emanate from Him. They are smooth and simple, even as their Source, the Infinite.
Consequently, no emanations reveal any additional traits or diversities to their Creator, nor do they have any distinct phases by which they can be defined as spiritual entities. From this we can deduce the fact that all names and appellations, all Heavenly and mundane worlds are but one simple, Heavenly Light, as reiterated in the description “Echad, Yachid, Umyuchad.” That all revelations are but one Heavenly Light is seen in the relationship of the Creator to each and every emanation.
For instance, the emanation of the Heavenly Light, the Thought of Creation, the Action of Creation, the performer of the Action, all of these are one and the same thing, while that emanation is still within the boundaries of the Creator.
We must bear in mind the basic tenet that with one “Thought” of the Creator all existence was emanated and created, the upper worlds in conjunction with the lower worlds, including the evolutionary processes of development which creation will constantly undergo until all
functions reach their final completion – the Millennium. For this is the actual goal toward which all is aspiring.
Thus this unique Thought of the Creator is actually:
1) the doer of everything; 2) the substance of all actions; 3) the toil and endeavor; 4) the achiever of the goal; 5) the perfection and full reward awaited by the created ones. All this is interpreted from the words of that renowned sage Nachmanides; “Echad, Yachid, Umyochad” (cf. page 2).
13) In the opening chapters of the “Tree of Life” Rabbi Isaac Luria elaborates widely on the subject of the first contraction, which is one of the most subtle and intricate topics of the Kabbalah.
He explains that because of the contraction, all worlds were revealed. Thus we are led to conclude that the various phases of evil were also the result of the contraction, and that they originate with the Creator for, as we are told in the words of the prophets: “He forms the Light and creates darkness.”
14) At this point however we must emphasize the fact that evil and darkness are completely opposite factors to the Godhead. The question then arises: How can evil come forth from the Creator? How can corruption and darkness go hand in hand with Light and bliss, with all that is of the Essence of the Thought of Creation? We certainly must not say or even imagine for a moment that there might be two different Thoughts in creation: a Thought of Light and a Thought of Darkness. How then is this darkness attributable to Him? That darkness which is the source of every last degree of corruption and evil that exists in this mundane sphere. How can the two opposite polarities, Light and darkness, or good and evil, be together in the one unique Thought of Creation?
15) We may clarify the problem by examining the nature of the Thought of Creation. We know that the final completion of any act is present in the first contemplation or thought of that act. This principle applies not only to the Thought of Creation, but even to man’s thoughts. A multitude of thoughts may go into the accomplishment of any act, but preceding all these already in the very first thought of the act its final completion is present. For example, in planning a house, the first thought is the picture of the complete structure. However before this is achieved, many details need to be thought about and acted upon. The finished house follows only after many thoughts and many actions. Thus we say that the final act is present in the first thought.
The Thought of Creation is to bestow to mankind. The final act in this Thought is the creation of man who is ready to receive that bestowal.
We are taught the simple, fundamental idea that by the Thought of God, alone, everything was created and brought to its completion. God is not like the human being who must utilize actual tools and devices in order to materialize his acts and plans. His Thought Itself suffices to complete all acts instantaneously. Therefore, we can understand that as soon as God thought of the plan of creating the universe and of His goal, that is, to favor humanity with eternal joy and goodness, there immediately emanated and stretched forth from Him, a Light. That Light was the comprisor of all, including the entire universe with all its creatures and their functions, their full grandeur and beauty and stature, as well as the abundance that He contemplated to shower upon them. All this was contained in His single Thought, which we name the “Thought of Creation.”
Consider well these truths.
When God pondered over creating a world for the ultimate purpose of bestowing to humanity His Infinite Goodness, then, in that very Thought, were included the Celestial worlds, with all their angels and souls, as well as the terrestrial worlds, with all their beings and their complete share of Abundance.
16) As we are now aware that the main object of creation was so that God might grant His Ineffable Goodness to all, we can understand the inevitability of “desire” being inherent in the Light which constitutes the entire creation, immediately upon its extension. This desire is a will to receive. It represents the vessel, as well as the exact measure for the bounty that is to be received. In other words, the dimensions of the Light is in exact proportion to the “will” for God does not impart more Light to a spiritual entity than what the actual desire is for. The measure of the desire is to be filled, no more and no less. For if God were to impart more Light than the “desire”, this would not be considered a bestowal of His Infinite love and Abundance.
We call the “will to receive” which was necessarily implanted in the Light (and in every created thing) because of God’s thought to impart abundance, a “vessel,” “receptacle” or “vehicle” of that Light. As mentioned earlier, the magnitude of the Light is in accordance with the dimensions of the vessel.
When we speak of a person who eats a heavy meal, or of one who is satisfied with a lighter one, we are not thinking of the size of their respective bodies, but of the greatness of their appetites. In fact, we often see stout people who eat little, and slender, delicate persons who eat heavily, so it is natural for us to conclude that the receptacle of a person’s meal is not his body, but his “will to receive or the “ratzon lekabel” which is the actual receptacle of even a material meal.
Thus it is self-evident that the capacity for receiving material nourishment depends upon the extent of the appetite. Even so it is with spiritual bounty, where the will to receive is the exact measure of the Light, and it is according to the intensity or measure of the will that the Light is imparted from its Source, the Creator. Hence the will is the vehicle for the
17) We are now ready to discuss at greater length the soul. As previously quoted from the sages, the human soul is a part of God. By what means, then, does the soul, as Spirit, differ from the Creator, or from His simple, smooth Light, also Spirit, so that it is separated from the Original simple Light, known as the Whole or All-Embracing Spirit?
If we reflect deeply on the soul as part, and the Smooth Light as Whole, as Origin of the soul, we readily see the truth of the difference between the soul and its Source. A vital change took place in the part which is divided from the Simple Light. Although the Creator is possessed of more infinite phases and attributes than one can think of, yet we find one phase which the Creator lacks. The Creator contains in Himself all creation, and also that with which they are filled. But humans have one tendency or trait which God has not; it is the will, or desire, to receive. It is the nature of human beings, only, to desire, for verily from whom could God receive? He is the Source of all.
But He has created souls for the one purpose of imparting to them Heavenly abundance, to shower them with comfort, joy and peace, and thus they are bound to desire the gifts He is offering. His very Thought in creating them, was that He bestow eternal happiness and bliss to them
Through this newly Revealed tendency of a desire to receive, souls are separated from the Creator. We have stated earlier that material substance is divided by instruments, and that parts of it are separated by moving them to different places. With spiritual substance, division and separation take place only through contrasting phases. We stamp the character of the spirit by the measure of its desire, or potential will to receive. According to the intensity of “desire” with which a being is filled, by so much is that person removed from the Origin.
For instance, the Creator is purely a Bestower. He gives and compensates, receiving nothing in return. His is the measure of the perfect giver.
On the other hand, it is inescapable for man to have a craving for the fulfillment of his needs. If the desire or will to receive is normal and balanced, all is well, despite the fact that he is different from the Origin. Although the tendency of desire is a chasm which separates the being from the Origin, it does not move him too far off. But if excessive greediness creeps into the natural desire, the difference between Creator and created being becomes greater. Greed may so increase as to completely sever a being from the Origin. In that case, the nature is entirely self-centered and wholly diverse from the Creator.
We must remember that since the Creator is the Origin of all it is from Him that abundance and nourishment are derived, If separation from the Creator is not complete, that portion of affinity with God which does exist, permits the being to commune with Him and to derive spiritual nourishment. if the being is entirely different from the Origin, then it is considered severed or disunited and the chasm of greediness prevents any flow of nourishment from the Origin. Such an entity is considered to be absolutely alien to and inharmonious with the Origin.
18) We should now have a clear concept of the genealogy of evil and corruption. The germ of it exists in the “Thought of Creation” even though in that Thought only good resided, its purpose being to bestow to mankind.
We come to the subject of the descent of the five worlds, which are named “A’K and ABYA” or:
(1) Adam Kadmon(2) Atzilut
We also have the manifestation of the “shells” or unclean spirits. In the worlds of “ABYA the Impure” we see the opposite of “ABYA the Saintly”, as it is said God sent forth both Light and darkness, good spirit and the opposite evil spirit. He created the four divine worlds, and the opposite worlds of impure spirits.
As the worlds descended from their Origin, the spirits in them became cruder, until the last crude spirits, called “evil”, were revealed. This process continued until the revelation of the earthly body, constituted of flesh and blood, took place. To this, the evil spirit has access and can incur its will of greed, which if not controlled and harnessed to its normal proportions, will develop into extremity. Extreme greed or evil is called shell.
The lower the spirit is descended, the further it is from its Origin, and the less it has in
common with its root, as the chasm between them grows.
Just as a knife or blade is the appropriate tool with which to divide material substance, so is “recipiency” the only tool with which to divide spiritual substance. This “recipiency” is the “desire to receive”, the exact opposite of the Creator’s active “desire to bestow”, to impart abundance and goodness, and thus it is recipiency which separates the soul from the Creator, the Whole.
This is stamped with the parable of the sages, which relates that: “the fancy of man’s heart is evil from his youth”.
The chief characteristic of those evil spirits contained in our daily sustenance is their will to receive, their greed. Those spirits which sustain the life of our bodies do not possess the least desire of being altruistic, but are, on the contrary, possessed of an intensity of egotism. For this reason we find ourselves in opposition to our Creator, who has absolutely no will to receive whatsoever.
The evil spirit, or those possessed of the evil spirit, are thus called “mortal” because of their phases which are perverted from those of the Essential Life. Since they are negative to God, who is “Life Eternal,” they find themselves severed from Him, and cannot receive even a particle of the Divine Substance that flows directly from the Origin of Life. The “will” of man is always open and ready to grasp, to clutch and to swallow the whole world into its belly. For this reason are the wicked ones called by the sages “mortal” or “dead”, even while they are yet alive. Their preverted will, which is contrary to the Origin and in extreme inharmony with the Creator, causes them to be severed from Him.
On the other hand, that soul is said to live a real life who is exalted to the place where it conceives of unity with God, and tastes and is nourished by the eternal fruits of God, whilst yet in its temporary, earthly abode.
The evil spirit and demonic potentialities of man can be subdued only when the Supreme Light shines into his soul. Then he can break away from earthly things and soar closer to the unity of the Creator. This breaking away from the lower cravings and tendencies to go towards the sublime and the spiritual is an act of will; it consists of transmuting the will to receive (the dark, obscure veil which separates man from God) into a will of bestowal.
The only new factor which was revealed in the Creation, labeled by the sages “existence from non-existence” was the “will to receive” which we have discussed above at great length. It is inherent in every created thing and naught but this will to receive, which is the vessel of all substance, was revealed as “existence from non-existence” in the Creation.
Nachmanides, the “Ramban”, comments on the words of the scriptures: “He forms the Light and creates the darkness” saying that the word “creates” means that something new is revealed, a being which was never before in existence. It is not said that “He created Light”, because in this revelation there is nothing actually new. Thus we cannot say “He brought Light out as “existence from non-existence”.
“Light”, and all that is comprised in It; everything that the senses can perceive, and all that the human intellect can conceive of all the substance of joy and contentment existing in the universe, is emanated as “existence from existence”. That is to say: “The Light, Which is preexistent, is an inclusive Substance contained in the Creator, and no new revelation can be attributed to that Light, nor to That which is contained in It”. Therefore it is said: “He forms the Light”. He moulds It to the proper shape and value for its descent in order that it may be ramified to all regions of the various worlds and to all realms of life. Clearly then, we cannot speak of “creation”, we cannot say that “He created the Light”, which would designate something newly made, newly revealed.
19) Just as God is eternal, so are the Lights emanated from Him everlasting and eternal. Not so with darkness, for darkness is that which comprises all the negative and fearful things that our mind or senses perceive. Thus it is “He created the darkness”. He creates darkness as something new. He certainly brings it forth to be “existence from non-existence”. That is to say, God does not comprise in His very Being anything whatsoever of that darkness. Where there is Infinite Light and Good-ness there cannot be any darkness. Darkness was newly revealed with the creation of the universe. The “root” or origin of that newly-created darkness, which accompanied the Creation, is the phase of “recipiency” which has already been discussed. It is the desire to receive abundance which is inherent in His emanated Lights.
That root of darkness which is called the “will to receive” or the “desire to possess”, although itself a Light, is from the very start a little darker than the Heavenly Light, and therefore it is called “darkness” in relation to the “Light”. At the end of its progressions, it turns out to be the cause of the manifestation of all the evil spirits, called “shells” (klipot), the opposite pole of the pure spirits.
20) At this point it is natural for the question to arise regarding the mortal fate of all those who are possessed of the will to receive. Because the will to receive is contrary to the will of God, must it incur the drastic result of mortality? For is it not a fact that it is compulsive with humans to comprise in their makeup the ‘will to receive” – in other words, to be different from the Creator Whose will is to impart or to bestow? Let us study the process by which they came to be distinguished as “creature” in contradistinction to “Creator”. This can be understood by considering the difference between creature and Origin, as it has been discussed at length in the previous pages.
Thanks to newly-revealed phenomena, a creature came into being. Now we must realize that the “will to receive” or the desire for enjoyment” is vitally important and beneficial to the entire creation. It is upon this that the thought and purpose of creation is based, and this very will to receive is the actual measure of goodness and bounty that can be bestowed, as it depends solely on how much the vessel can contain.
As has been explained elsewhere, the will to receive is called the place of abundance” (makom). Then why do we designate or define that trait of “recipiency” as “darkness” giving it an import of doom or destruction? The answer is that recipiency in the lower entities is a separative factor, severing them from the Life of Life. But to understand this completely we must first find the source, or root, of pleasure and pain as these are experienced in the physical world.
To begin with, the principle that the branch will be in harmony with the root, must be accepted. Thus all matters, modes or customs which the Origin or the Root comprise will naturally be in harmony with and acceptable by the branch of that root. The branch will enjoy and crave all those things which are in the root, and that which does not belong with the root will irritate the branch, and be avoided by it. It will not tolerate it and will react against all that does not concern the root. This is an immutable law governing root and branch.
Because God is the Origin of all the Creatures which He created, all matters which He Comprises and which emanate directly from Him are agreeable and desirable to us, for our nature is akin to that of the Origin. All matters which are not contained in the Creator and do not flow directly from Him, But coincidental, due to the fact that otherwise the worlds could not be created, will be antagonistic to man and difficult to bear.
For example, we take delight in peace and rest, and are naturally opposed to moving or wandering from place to place. We make no effort to disturb our repose, save for the achievement of still more peace and rest. The actual cause of this is traceable to our Origin, as there is in It no motion. The nature of the Creator is passive and restful. He has no function of motion, whatsoever. Therefore motion is despised by us, as we are the branches of our root, the Creator.
In the same manner we take delight in wisdom, power, wealth, and all manner of desirable and prized qualities, because our Origin comprises all those qualities. Thus we crave the qualities possessed by Him and consequently condemn all the opposite qualities such as folly, weakness, poverty, contempt, disgrace and the like. Our Creator, Who is our Origin, does not contain these defects and we therefore reject and despise them, and cannot suffer them.
21) It is necessary to examine and reveal the process of that which comes indirectly from the Origin, and is but coincidental with Creation, as mentioned before. To this end we cite the following illustration.
A wealthy man invited a passerby into his home, and day after day fed him and bestowed the most precious treasures to him. Each day he increased his favors over those of the previous day.
The man who was the recipient of all these presents from is wealthy benefactor, experienced simultaneously two different reactions. He first tasted the unutterable pleasure and comfort of the wealth. He received from the rich man, and then felt unbearable embarrassment and shame at receiving all this abundance. His feelings of embarrassment increased with the added abundance of each succeeding day.
Now it is evident that the delight he felt at receiving his presents was due to the bestowal of the giver, to the wealthy man. But the uncomfortable feeling of shame which he experienced, the feeling of degradation at receiving so many presents from the giver, was not inflicted upon him by the latter. His suffering came from his very own nature, as his sense of shame was aroused through his acceptance of the gifts. It might seem as though this discomfort was caused by the rich man, but we must realize that it came only indirectly from the benefactor to the recipient.
Thus, from the above example, we can understand how all that comes indirectly from the Creator will cause discomfort to the recipient.
The “will to receive” is not necessarily degrading nor is it considered a vice by the Creator. On the contrary, it is the vital import and pivot of all creation. There could never be a “creature” if it were not for this will, as we have explained before.
The recipient, he who bears this “will”, reacts against it because of his own nature. He feels an unbearable resentment only because no such phase of desire as his is to be found in the Root, or Origin. The solution of the Zohar that through Torah study and the performance of all doctrines and precepts will the flaw of embarrassment and shame be eradicated; and our reflection upon this solution; namely, how can even a lifetime of labor balance the reward of eternal happiness, can now be understood. As he performs the divine service, with the motive of delighting his Maker, as he acts thus altruistically, his will to receive’ is transmuted into a will to bestow. We must here repeat the eternal decree that mankind can never divest himself, of his natural acquisitive instinct, or desire. Since it is incarnated and born in the person, and since it is the vital intention in the Thought of Creation. However it is possible to invert the will to receive to the will to bestow. Hence, although he is still possessed of the will to receive, he would not desire to receive the precious and lofty abundance dealt to him by the Creator, except for the fact that by so doing he is rendering delight to the Creator. He only accepts the bounty because it is the Creator’s wish that each soul should revel and rejoice in His Abundance. Since the soul, itself, is free from all desire to receive, in such a case, it can accept all that is bestowed by the Creator without feeling the unbearable sensation of shame or embarrassment which is normally felt by every recipient.
Such a process as we have just described discloses the apex of perfection for the created being. He now receives the abundance by which is proven the all-goodness and perfection of the Creator; and the defect of shame no longer accompanies the acceptance.
22) Let us explain briefly the necessity for the soul to be lowered into a body, which incurs to it so much anguish. We know that the newly-created instrument of recipiency must be inverted, through training, until it can feel the perfection that comes from the act of imparting, In the body the will to receive is at its fullest surge and just as we have taught that the pure spirits, impure spirits and shells are subdivided into consecutive grades, So are the various desires of the Body Subdivided into grades.
It is the soul that inverts all the various desires of the body onto the plane of intelligence, when they begin to be fulfilled on the condition of rendering delight to the Creator. Since the material body is possessed of the greatest intensity of desire or will to receive, it is just here that the soul must, sojourn in the mundane world, in a garment of flesh. Here it must train the body to become a suitable instrument for doing the will of the Creator. The body is to become the medium of its ruler, the soul.
The intelligent reader, on studying these pages, must gain thorough insight into this training, in order that he may acquire a true understanding of this extremely subtle scheme of the Infinite.
23) Now that we have conquered many doubts and philosophical speculations in understanding the meaning of Creation and all that fills the universe, we shall try to grasp the concept of the unity of the Creator, with all the diversity of objects and phenomena which confronts us in the existing universe. The universe, and all that fills it, is a sort of absolute unity when it is within the precincts of the Creator. In other words, everything is united in the one Primordial Thought of the Creator, in what we have previously described as the “Thought of Creation” which bears the unique and specific purpose of “imparting” goodness, joy and contentment to mankind. This particular Thought of Creation embraces all existence in an absolute, complete unity, until the complete correction and emendation of the universe shall have been achieved, that is, until that destined time for which humanity is eagerly waiting: the age of the Millennium.
24) Let us reflect briefly upon the inclusiveness of this thought. The goal of the Thought of Creation is that age of ineffable bliss and happiness: and it is this selfsame Thought that is the doer, or performer of creation. We know that the power of the doer is always in the thing acted upon, and that, which is but a Thought of the Creator, will necessarily evolve in the creatures because of divine decree and in echolike obedience to that Thought. It becomes incarnated in the created one as a part of his integral nature, since the Creator Thought to bestow goodness to all.
Indirectly He executed in all mankind, by this very Thought, the salient tendency or inclination of recipiency. As a matter of necessity, all became recipients of His bounty, all were endowed with the desire to receive His Ineffable Abundance.
This same Thought of the Creator is also the actual object performed, and the very Cause of Creation. To clarify the matter still further, we might say that after this inexorable will to receive was incarnated in our nature, it caused us to be created and to become the newly-revealed “existent creature”. Due to this trait of recipiency, we are transplanted from the limits of the Creator to a newly-created category, and from the precincts of the performer to the limits of the thing performed.
The Thought of Creation is also the actual labor and service through which we invert our will of receiving into a will of giving, so that we may impart delight to the Creator, as has been previously described. The potentiality of the Creator must be revealed in the existent being.
Thus, the power of the “will to receive” increases gradually in accordance with the descent of all celestial and terrestrial worlds, down to the manifestation of our separate earthly garment the human body, which is entirely contrary to the Essential Life, the Creator. It is not within the nature of the body to impart goodness to another being, as the body is wholly concerned with the desire for its own welfare. This is the chief cause of destruction and death amidst humanity; it also causes inescapable anguish, sorrow and toil to the soul. The very attempt of the soul to transform the will of the body, that is, the will to receive the effort to invert this utensil of recipiency onto the plane of intelligence, so that it becomes a receptacle of imparting, is fraught with labor through Torah study and performance of the precepts with the motive of delighting his Maker. Once the entire process is complete, we immediately realize our immense reward, but as long as the vehicle of receiving in our will is not brought into the proper attitude of a will to give, we cannot hope for His direct heavenly abundance.
As long as the possibility exists that the defect of greed has not been effaced, it will never come about that the Supreme Light will be granted. Altruism must, once and for all, become the salient quality ,and beneficence, not recipiency, the leading trait.
As soon as we improve and correct our will; as soon as we manipulate our will so that we receive for the sake of imparting delight to the Creator, our will begins to emulate His Will, and we are properly adjusted to Him, and thus united with eternal life, worthy of receiving and retaining His abundance.
25) Briefly, the phases we have studied may be outlined as: (1) the Performer or Creator; (2) the thing performed, or the created one; (3) the root of corruption, the newly-revealed will to receive which causes separation from the Creator; (4) the task of improvement and correction in order to transform the will to receive into a will to bestow; (5) the labor and endeavor utilized to that end; (6) the final compensation, at the end of all the accumulated actions and exertions, in inverting the vessel of recipiency which lead eventually to the reward.
All this is contained in the very inclusive and simple Thought of the Creator, the precise import of which is the bestowing of His infinite Goodness to humanity.
Through this we see that the multitude of general ideas; as well as Torah teachings and all secular knowledge and ideas, as well as the multitude of creatures and worlds with their manifold customs and traditions, are all the progeny of the single root, the “Thought of Creation”, Whose goal is to bestow infinite happiness to man.
THE LANGUAGE OF THE KABBALAH
1) The elect, ancient scholars of the profound mysticism of the Kabbalah resorted to the only means at their command, namely, a figurative mode of speech, which referred to material objects, ideas and functions of our mundane world ,and through this imagery they convey to us knowledge of the various spiritual concepts, topics, functions, etc.
In discussing things concerning the spirit, in particular the Universal and Impersonal Spirit which transcends time, space and motion, language is inadequate because it is a product of our sense concepts. How can we avail ourselves of language to explain a realm in which the senses and the mind have no place? Even though we take, as an example, the abstract concept of “Light”, it is still an arbitrary term, derived from the light of the sun, or referring to intellectual enlightenment. How, then, is it possible for language to express matters of the spiritual realm? Human language cannot convey to the student the truth of spiritual matters.
Thus it is difficult to try to explain by the use of this figurative language, matters pertaining to Kabbalistic wisdom. Failure to properly explain the Kabbalah, or make clear the meaning of even a single term, would serve to confuse the student so that he would not know what it was all about.
2) Spiritual nature, form and powers, can only be described by means of symbols, or pictures which, in themselves, are no more real than a photograph is real when it is compared to the thing it represents. Symbols are but thoughts set forth in pictorial form.
The upper world may be compared to a tree. A tree is composed of a root; and branches. We know the constituents of the root by the revealed branches of the tree. The visible world may figuratively be called branches, while the invisible world is called the root. In other words, the lower world is patterned after the upper world, and everything which exists in the upper world may be found, as it were in a copy, upon earth; still, the whole is one.
Kabbalistic scholars have resorted to the figurative terminology, which may be called the “language of branches” as there is no object, or function of any object, in this world which is not derived from its source in the upper world. The beginning of all worldly reality takes place in the upper spheres, descending by the process of cause and effect into this world, for the physical universe is the bodying forth, or evolutionary process of the spiritual.
Hence, the elect scholars have resorted to an easy, figurative language which enables them to transmit their concepts to their fellow disciples orally, as well as to commit them to writing, from generation to generation. These sages have employed the names of the tangible branches of this mundane world because of the fact that each name explains its own upper entity pointing a finger to the upper root, which is located in the constellation of the celestial regions.
This explanation should reassure the student as to the terminology of the Kabbalah. In certain discourses in the Kabbalah books you will find, at intervals, some surprising expressions which are foreign to the usual mode of expression but these writers had no alternative. They were impelled to choose the only language by which they could convey spiritual ideas, and that is the “Language of the Branches”, as we have explained.
It is impossible for them to omit any of the branches, because of the fact that the language is different from the usual standard and yet explain the spiritual idea or function in question. We do not possess in our mundane world another branch which could be taken in exchange for the “surprising” utterance that is used. Just as two hairs are not nourished from one and the same cell, so we do not possess two branches that are related to one root.
Again, there would be no justification for leaving out any topic, subject or function of the divine wisdom which must be explained; if the object of that omission were solely the avoidance of an alien standard of figurative speech. If we were to omit any single idea, it would eventually be an immense loss and it would cause a breach in the unity of the entire scope of wisdom of the Kabbalah.
There is no wisdom or science in all the sciences of the universe where the objects and functions should be so integrated as in this law of cause and effect, or in the infinite progression of the wisdom of the Kabbalah.
3) The topics and their development are ramified and united, one to the other, from the very beginning down to the final end, in the manner of a long chain. Therefore there is no alternative or choice between the “surprising utterance” and the proper usage of expression. We must uncover the proper branch which directs, hints and teaches us, as it points to its related upper celestial root. It is often of great importance, also, to elaborate upon that branch, although it requires still further use of this strange mode of expression, in order to convey a definite and exact spiritual meaning to those who are aspiring to insight into the true and profound sources of the pre Adamite, ancient kabbalah.
My sole purpose and aim is to clarify this wisdom and to present a lucid terminology for the Kabbalistic vocabulary. I have exerted all my endeavors to explain the ten Kabbalistic Intellingences, called “Sephirot” which are the ten divine attributes, as taught by that great and renowned authority, the divine scholar and sage, Rabbi Isaac Luria. I am presenting these according to their pure and precise spiritual conceptions explaining all sense imageries, in order that anyone who desires to be initiated into this wondrous literature of the Kabbalah may not be obstructed or misguided by material ideas and objects.
After studying and comprehending this text, you will have access to the rest of the departments of this invaluable and inexhaustible wisdom, not yet studied.