Transcending Limitation – Hemshech Samech Vav – 3

Hemshech Samech-Vav

Discourse 3
Shuvah Yisrael 5666

by

The Holy Rabbi Sholom Dovber of Lubavitch

Translated by Rabbi Shimon Markel

Edited by Rabbi Amiram Markel

     The verse states,[1] “Return, O Israel until Hashem your G-d, for you have stumbled in your iniquity.”  Now, we must understand the meaning of the words, “until (Ad) Hashem your G-d”, Should not the verse have said “to Hashem your G-d”?  To understand this we must preface with the above explanation[2] regarding the service of the souls in the Garden of Eden.  It was explained that they are like “travelers” (Mehalchim) in that they undergo numerous ascensions, from one level to the next.  Moreover, since the pleasure of the Garden of Eden emanates from the aspect of the Infinite (Ain Sof), these ascensions are therefore not gradual or incremental. Rather, the ascents from level to level are in a way of a “traveling” (Hiluch) in which the first state of consciousness must be negated before the next state may be reached.

Now, all these ascents relate to the Garden of Eden, which only constitutes a mere glimmer or ray of the aspect of the simple essential pleasure drawn down through the above mentioned river, within which there are innumerable levels, as explained above.  However, the aspect of Eden itself has never been beheld, for even regarding the ascents of the souls in the Garden of Eden no eye has ever beheld the aspect of Eden itself.  Rather, this will specifically be revealed in the future, regarding which the verse states,[3] “Your Master shall hide Himself no longer and your eyes shall see your Master.”  The essential pleasure will then be revealed; that is, the aspect of “The delight of the King in Himself,” as He is in the transcendent essential Self of the Infinite One (Ain Sof).

Now, the souls “travel” and ascend in the Garden. They nonetheless have no actual grasp of Him, blessed be He, since He is completely transcendent.  Rather, all their many ascensions are only within the aspect of the ray of His essential pleasure. Albeit, this ray has an infinite aspect to it and therefore the levels of ascent within it are innumerable, as explained above.  (Because of this, with each new ascent, the lower state of consciousness must be negated before rising to the higher state of consciousness. This is because each state of consciousness is incomparably higher than the level below it, as explained above.)  Nevertheless, despite all the ascents, the soul never actually reaches the aspect of the transcendent essential pleasure of the Infinite One Himself (Atzmoot Ain Sof).  On the contrary, the higher the ascent the more wondrously unattainable and ungraspable He becomes. This is because, since He is Infinite (Ain Sof), therefore His simple pleasure is likewise infinite.

This matter is explained elsewhere[4] regarding the words,[5] “Praised and glorified be His great name forever and ever (Adei Ad).”  That is, there are two meanings to the words “Adei Ad.”  The first is a terminology of eternality, i.e. “forever and ever.”  The second is a terminology of separateness, i.e. “until,” as in the statement,[6] “Until here (Ad kan) is the border of the Shabbat boundary (Techum). Both meanings are true for, as known,[7] the words “His great name” refers to the aspect of the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof) which, on whatever level it is, has no limit (Bli Gvul).  This is the case whether the reference is to the aspect of the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof) as it transcends the order of the chaining down of the worlds or whether the reference is to the aspect of the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof) as it precedes the first restraint (Tzimtzum), which is the absolutely limitless aspect of the essential Self of the Infinite Light. In relation to both these aspects the meaning of the words “Adei Ad” is that of eternality. In other words, there is no measure whatsoever appropriate to the praise and glorification of this transcendent level of the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof).

For, although there can indeed be praises and glorifications that may justifiably be limited and concluded, this only is apropos when the one being praised is limited, whether in wisdom or greatness etc. Therefore, when the limit of one’s greatness is reached, the praise likewise ceases, simply because he cannot be truthfully praised beyond this limit.  However, in relation to the transcendence of the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof), He who is absolutely beyond limitation or measure, the praises and glorifications appropriate to Him are likewise unlimited and immeasurable.  This, then, explains the matter of the ascensions of the souls in the Garden of Eden which, as discussed before, are limitless and innumerable, since HaShem, blessed be He, is absolutely limitless (Ain Sof).

However, it is specifically because of this that we come to the second meaning of the word “Ad,” which is a terminology of separateness, i.e. “until here” and no further. The explanation of this separateness is that even the greatest praises and glorifications are altogether inadequate to touch upon the aspect of HaShem’s essential Self whatsoever.  This is because there are two matters involved here,[8]Ad V’Ad Bichlal – Up until, and including” and Ad V’Lo Ad Bichlal – Up until, but not including.”  The meaning of “Up until, and including” is that from one level of consciousness one can reach the next level.  The meaning of “Up until, but not including” is that one can never reach the next level of consciousness from the first level, because they are altogether not comparable to each other. This, then, is the meaning of separateness.  In other words, even if one were to reach the loftiest of levels, nonetheless, he can only reach “up until, and not including”, meaning that he can never reach HaShem’s true light.[9] This principle also applies to the ray itself (which is revealed in the Garden of Eden). There too, the separateness of “up until, but not including” also applies. That is, even when the soul ascends to a given level of consciousness, that level cannot function as a springboard to reach the next level, because the two are incomparable.

The explanation is that when a light is essentially limited, its levels are also limited and therefore comparable to each another. For example, generally speaking, the revelations of light within the order of the chaining down of the worlds (Seder Hishtalshelut) are limited lights.  Although there are innumerable levels within this order, nevertheless, they all relate to each other.  This is because, as a whole, the light is limited. Therefore, all its levels are limited. This being the case, it is applicable to say that from the lower level of consciousness one could arrive at the higher level.

This is analogous to how the intellect develops. A person first learns basic intellectual concepts and advances gradually to understand greater and greater concepts.  This is specifically so regarding related concepts in which the lower concept is necessary to arriving at the higher concept. Similarly, within a single concept, one first grasps it externally, through which he delves deeper until he attains greater and greater depths of the same concept.  Generally speaking, our knowledge of higher matters comes about by first grasping lower ones. Through this we attain higher and higher gradations of understanding.

This is the meaning of Maimonides statement in Laws of the Foundations of Torah (chapter three, Halacha nine) regarding the planets, “They have self-awareness and awareness of the angels etc.”  The commentaries explain that first they know and recognize themselves and then they recognize their cause.  In other words, through recognition of themselves they come to recognize their cause.  (Now, regarding their recognition of the Holy One, blessed be He; this does not mean that they have actual recognition of Him.  Rather, they merely recognize that there is a primal cause whose existence is independent and intrinsic to Himself.  This is similar to what Maimonides explains in chapter two there (halacha eight) regarding the knowledge of the angels.)  This type of grasp reflects the principle of “up until, and including,” since from the first level of consciousness one comes to grasp a higher level of consciousness.)

However, the above relates specifically to the aspect of cause and effect (Eella VAluol) in which there is a relationship between the two. Such is not the case in regard to the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof) which transcends the chaining down of cause and effect, although here too there are levels, for as explained before,[10] every aspect of light contains innumerable levels. This is similarly so regarding the Infinite Light that encompasses all worlds (Sovev kol almin). As explained elsewhere,[11] even the level of Igullim-circles comprises higher and lower levels. However, these levels are not comparable to each other.  (As explained elsewhere,[12] because of this the “travel” and ascent within the levels of the Infinite Light can only be accomplished specifically by a “traveler-Mehalech” who is not bound by limitations, specifically because the levels are not comparable to each other.  This is the difference between “Omdim-those who stand in a static position”[13] and “Mehalchim-those who travel and progress”[14] in that the matter of traveling exists in both above mentioned manners,[15] as explained elsewhere.[16])

In other words, in this regard, though a person may know and grasp one level, his knowledge cannot aid him in attaining or grasping the next level. This is because he has no reference point within his experience that can relate it to. On the contrary, only when his previous grasp becomes completely nullified will he be able to arrive at the higher level of understanding, as explained above. Were he to gain the higher level of understanding through the first level, then the first level would necessarily remain intact, since the higher level is specifically reached through the lower level. For example, from the external understanding of a concept one arrives at an understanding of its inner level. Therefore, to attain the inner concept, the external understanding must be complete. In other words, he must know it thoroughly. Therefore, when he subsequently delves into it with the precision of his external understanding, he can come to an understanding of its inner depth.

However, here (on the level of “up until, but not including) exactly the opposite phenomenon must take place; that is, to reach the next level of understanding there must be a complete nullification of his previous understanding. This is because here, the various levels of depth are not comparable to each other. Therefore, one cannot come to the higher level by means the lower level. On the contrary, his current level of understanding only serves to distract, confuse and obstruct him from understanding the matter on a deeper level. Rather, this can only be accomplished through the complete nullification of how he understood it before.

Now, the reason one comes to the higher level through the nullification of the lower level, is because it is specifically this which prepares him to be a receptacle for the revelation of the higher light. This is similar to the nullification brought about through bitterness and humility preceding prayer. As discussed above, this brings about a complete loss of being and awareness of self in a person. It specifically is this loss of awareness of self that causes the Divine light to shine upon him during prayer.

Similarly here, a person can only ascend to the higher level of Divine consciousness through the complete non-awareness of self. This reflects the principle of “up until, but not including,” because no matter what level of consciousness a person achieves, he nevertheless will still be completely distant from the higher, transcendent level.  Moreover, the principle of “up until, but not including” is all the more pertinent relative to the truly transcendent level of the essential Self of HaShem, because even if one were to attain the loftiest of levels, he would still be completely distant from the aspect of HaShem’s true light.

In other words, regarding limited states of revelation, the principle of “up until and including” applies, because one can reach the higher level through his grasp of the lower level.  However, in regard to the aspect of HaShem’s essential Self the principle of “up until, but not including” applies, because the aspect of His essential Self is always beyond a person’s ability to grasp.  On the contrary, the higher one ascends, the more astoundingly distant it becomes for him.  In other words, the higher his grasp of the ray of the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof), the greater will his realization be of the absolute and awesome gap between him and the truth of HaShem’s essential Self and that ultimately HaShem is altogether above and beyond being graspable. However, only a person who toils greatly into the depth of Divine knowledge can come to truly realizing and appreciating this, rather than just accepting it as an article of faith. Moreover, whoever professes it without having labored in it is merely giving it lip service rather than truly knowing it.

This is why the higher the souls of the Garden of Eden ascend along the ray of the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof), the more awesome, exalted and transcendent HaShem’s essential Self becomes for them. They therefore come to greater and greater states of nullification of comprehension (Bitul). In other words, relative to HaShem’s essential Self their grasp becomes totally null and void. (This is aside for the nullification of grasp brought about by the level they have attained itself.  For as known,[17] the loftier the level, the more refined and stripped of physicality the comprehension becomes, in that it becomes more and more spiritual and intangible.  Therefore, with the ascension of the supernal levels of the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof), all knowledge and grasp becomes stripped of physical reference, so much so, that ultimately it cannot even be defined as “comprehension” altogether.  Therefore, the ascension to higher levels of the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof) is in a way of nullification of comprehension; that is, the higher the ascension, the greater the nullification.)

(Only in the future will there be a revelation of the aspect of the essential Self in a manner of grasp, as stated about Moshiach,[18] “Behold, my servant shall become wise; he will be exalted and high and exceedingly lofty,” for in that time understanding will be on the loftiest of levels.  Similarly it states,[19] (“Only in this can a person boast), that he understands and knows Me, for I am Hashem,” or as it states in the Rosh Hashanah prayers, “Every effect shall know that You caused it”; because at that time, the knowledge and grasp will be of the transcendent essential Self of the Infinite One, blessed be He (Atzmut Ain Sof).

This, then, is the meaning of[20] “no eye has seen it.”  In other words, presently, even in the ascents of the loftiest souls, such as the souls of our forefathers or our teacher Moshe, of blessed memory; with all their innumerable and limitless ascents to the loftiest spiritual heights in the aspect of the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof), they nevertheless can never reach the aspect of HaShem’s transcendent essential Self.  Hence, “no eye has seen it, G-d, aside for You,” since,[21] “no one knows Him, except Himself alone.”  However, with the resurrection of the dead in the world to come, the truth of His essential Self will become openly revealed to the souls even as they reside within bodies. Regarding this the verse continues, “He does for those who await Him.”

Now, attaining the aspect of the essential pleasure is specifically accomplished through fulfilling the physical mitzvot. As our sages of blessed memory stated,[22] “Every Jew has a share in the world to come, as it states,[23] ‘Your folk are all righteous,'” which refers specifically to fulfilling the mitzvot.  Because of this they all have a share in the world to come, in the aspect of the essential pleasure etc.

The explanation is that,[24] “The end action arose first in thought.”  From this we understand that there is an aspect of beginning and end, which are called “Rosh – head” and “Sof – end,” and that the end action arose in the beginning of the thought. This is because thought has two levels.  The beginning of thought is called “the head of thought,” and the end of thought is called Sof.  When it arose in HaShem’s simple desire to emanate and create etc., this is called the beginning of thought.  In man below, this is analogous to when it arises in a person’s desire to do something. This first arousal of his desire is called “the head of thought.” On the other hand, the “end of thought” is when he has already determined in thought exactly what he will bring out into revealed actuality. The beginning of thought and the end of thought relate to each other, because that which was determined at the end of thought is exactly what arose in the beginning of thought.

The analogue of how it is Above in G-dliness may now be understood.  The aspect of Zeir Anpin of the world of Atzilut (Emanation) is called “the end of thought” because it is the source and root for the actualization of “creation out of nothing” in the three worlds of Briyah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah (Creation, Formation and Actualization).  Therefore, it is the end (or last) level of thought.  On the other hand, when it arose in His simple will for the chaining down of the worlds to come into being, that was the beginning of thought.  This thought came to completion in the world of Atzilut (Emanation), where the Sefirot came forth into revelation. Thus, the seven Sefirot of Zeir Anpin, i.e. Gedulah, Gevurah, Tiferet etc. (magnanimity, sternness, beauty etc.) are called the “seven days of construction” in Atzilut (Emanation).

However, the statement, “the end action arose first in thought,” refers to the actualization itself which follows thought. It cannot be said that the actualization itself arose in thought, because what arose in thought was only the thought that there should be actualization.  Rather, the meaning of “the end action arose first in thought” is that it arose even before the “beginning of thought.”  It is only the end (or last) level of thought itself which arose in the beginning of thought, for the beginning of the desire was that there should be the aspect of a chaining down of the worlds and this was determined and finalized at the end of thought with the emanation of the ten Sefirot of Zeir Anpin of Atzilut (Emanation), which is the end of the chaining down that allows for the existence of the worlds of Briyah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah (Creation, Formation and Actualization).  However, the aspect of the end action itself is what arose even before the “beginning of thought”. This is what brought about an arousal of the desire in the first place.

This is as our sages of blessed memory stated,[25] “With whom did He consult? With the souls of the righteous.” That is, it arouse in His thought that there would be souls of righteous people that would manifest within bodies to fulfill Torah and mitzvot in actuality and it was because of this that the desire to emanate arose in His will.  This, then, is the meaning of the statement, “The end action arose first in thought.” That is, it is the fulfillment of the Torah and mitzvot in actuality that arose first in thought, even before the arousal of the desire for the entire chaining down of the worlds and it was for this end that there was an arousal of desire for worlds in the first place, so to speak.

In other words, the ultimate intention that arose in the aspect of the essential Self of the Infinite Light, which transcends the aforementioned aspects of thought and will, is the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot in actuality.  It is for this reason that His will was subsequently aroused.  Hence, it is through the fulfillment of Torah and mitzvot in actuality that the essential pleasure of the essential Self is drawn forth, because it is the inner essential intent in the aspect of the essential Self of the Infinite Light (Atzmut Ohr Ain Sof).  It is for this reason that regarding the actual fulfillment of the mitzvot it states,[26] “It brings Me spiritual satisfaction that I commanded and My will was fulfilled.”  This is because HaShem’s ultimate intention is the actualization of Torah and mitzvot and therefore this is what “brings Me spiritual satisfaction”. It is specifically this which draws down the aspect of HaShem’s simple essential pleasure.

Based on this we may understand why on Rosh HaShanah we say,[27] “This day is the beginning of Your works etc.”  At first glance, why is this so? Wasn’t the world actually created on the twenty-fifth of Elul?[28]  Why then is Rosh HaShanah called, “the beginning of Your works?”  However, the explanation is that “the beginning of your works” refers to HaShem’s ultimate intent which is like the end action that arose first in thought, mentioned above. This specifically applies to Rosh HaShanah, the day that the first man (Adam HaRishon) was created.  Only then did the original intent that arose in the essential Self of the Infinite Light become fulfilled, because that is when the actual performance of Torah and mitzvot became applicable. It is because of this that Rosh Hashanah is called “the beginning of Your works,” because whatever was created prior to it did not truly constitute, “the beginning of Your works” and only related to the “beginning and end of thought.” This as stated,[29] “The entire world was created only to command this one.”  Rather, the true “beginning of Your works”, which transcends even the beginning of thought, specifically applies to the performance of the mitzvot, which only became applicable with the creation of man. Because of this Rosh HaShanah is called “the beginning of Your works.”

To further elucidate, let us examine the verse,[30] “I have seen a conclusion to every end (L’chol Tichlah Ra’iti Ketz), but Your commandment is exceedingly broad.”  Rashi explains this to mean, “Everything that has an end, has a conclusion and limitation.”  In other words, he translates Tichlah to mean Siyum-end.  However, this explanation is not readily understood. If this is so, the word Tichlah-end has the same meaning as the word Ketz-conclusion! What then, is the meaning of, “I have seen a conclusion-ketz to every end-tichlah?”

In Talmud (Eruvin, page twenty-one at the end of side one) Rashi explains the verse as follows; “I have seen a conclusion to every end”, means that at the end of everything there is a limit to its being, “but Your commandment is exceedingly broad”, and there is no end to its limit.”  According to this, we can say that the word tichlah-end is similar to the end of the world, in that it has a limit to its being and will end. In other words, though at the moment, we are in the middle of the world, nevertheless, since it is limited, it is understood that it has an end. The Metzudat David similarly explains, “Regarding anything that is limited, the mind’s eye can see that is has an end.”

However, on the words, “to every end”(tichlah), Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra explained, “the word ketz in our language can either mean beginning or end, as in the verse,[31] ‘at its two extremities – ktzotav.”[32]  Accordingly, since the beginning is also called ketz, and tichlah and ketz have the same meaning, therefore the meaning of the verse is that whatever has a beginning (tichlah) must have an end (ketz).

It seems more fitting, however, to interpret it the other way around; that tichlah here means “end” whereas “I have seen a ketz” means “beginning”, i.e. the first extremity. The meaning would therefore be, “Whatever has a conclusion must have a beginning.” This is because, in practice, the word tichlah generally is used to mean “end,” whereas ketz can also mean “beginning”.  This is similar the statement,[33] “He exists above with no beginning (ketz) and below without conclusion (tachlit).”  Similarly in Talmud Bavli (Tractate Niddah, page fifty-eight side two) it states, “My words have no ketz and the words of my companions have no tachlit.” Here, the meaning of ketz is “beginning” as understood in the commentary of Maharsha.[34]

According to these commentaries we may say that the verse, “To every end-tichlah I have seen a beginning-ketz” refers to revelations within the chaining down of the worlds; that they are within measure and bound. This is because the revelations within the chaining down of the worlds are lights vested in vessels and vessels are limited by definition. For example, the vessels of Chochmah or Chessed (wisdom or kindness) etc. draw down limited revelation.

Now actually, the vessels of Atzilut (Emanation) are drawn down until the end of Asiyah (Actualization), for as known,[35] the thirty vessels of Zeir Anpin and Nukvah become the Neshamah, Ruach and Nefesh[36] of Briyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah (Creation, Formation and Actualization) respectively.  Nevertheless, what is drawn down to Briyah is only the inner aspect of the vessels (Actually it is only the inner aspect of the externality of the vessels, as discussed in Tanya, Kuntras Acharon, in the section entitled, “To understand what is written in Pri Etz Chaim.”[37]).  Similarly, only the intermediate aspect of the vessels is drawn down to Yetzirah etc.

In general these come down with measure and limit, as in the statement,[38] “The measure of the stature of He who formed creation etc.” which refers to the aspect of the vessels of Zeir Anpin.  Similarly, in Avodat HaKodesh[39] it states in regard to the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof) that just as He possesses unlimited power, so likewise He possesses the power of limitation and the first limitations that came forth from Him were the vessels of the ten Sefirot of Atzilut (Emanation).

Similarly, the lights too are measured and limited, for as known, the entire drawing down of the Kav (line) is to bring about an aspect of limitation and measure, as stated in Torah Ohr on the discourse entitled, “and bring royal garments”[40].  The entire purpose of the Kav (line) is to bring about the aspects of up and down, as stated in Etz Chaim.[41] In other words, wherever there is a greater degree of illumination and revelation along the line is considered to be higher, whereas where there is a lesser degree of illumination and revelation is considered to be lower.

An example is the difference of illumination in the worlds that are higher than Atzilut compared to the illumination in Atzilut itself. For example, in Adam Kadmon the light of the Kav (line) is completely revealed, so much so that all its levels are in a state of actual inclusion and unity and though it states about this level that,[42] “He gazes and glances to the end of all generations,” nevertheless,[43] “He beholds them all in a single glance”, in an all-inclusive manner so that they exist as a single essence, as explained elsewhere.[44]  This is because the revelation of the Infinite Light literally radiates there.  Higher than this, at the very beginning of the Kav (line), the radiance is even more refined, as stated in Etz Chaim that[45] there is a level similar to Atik which is above the skull of Adam Kadmon.” In other words, it is even beyond being compared to the aspect of Adam Kadmon, even though in Adam Kadmon there literally is a revelation of the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof).

In contrast, the level of Akudim is less radiant, because there are ten lights there[46] as well as an aspect of vessels, as stated in Etz Chaim[47] that the revelation of vessels first begins in Akudim, and as known,[48] the revelation of vessels is the result of the restraint of light (tzimtzum) and lack of revelation. Nevertheless, even in Akudim the Infinite Light was revealed and because of this its ten lights were bound up and included in a single vessel.[49]

Then, with the revelation of the Sefirot of Nekudim, though there was abundant light in them, they nevertheless were ten lights in ten vessels.[50] This matter is even truer of Tikkun in which there is diminished light within an abundance of vessels,[51] for as known, the aspect of vessels primarily takes place in Atzilut (Emanation).  Because of this, in the scheme of the “general worlds” Atzilut is called the world of Asiyah (Actualization).

The same principle applies in Atzilut relative to its particular Sefirot. For example, there is greater illumination of the Infinite light in Chochmah (wisdom) than in Binah (understanding), as stated in Etz Chaim[52] that the Infinite light radiates in Keter and Chochmah in a way of closeness, compared to Binah, which in comparison, is in a way of distance.  Obviously[53] the distance referred to here is not spatial, G-d forbid, but rather that the illumination in Chochmah is more abundant and revealed.  This is discussed at length in the discourse entitled “Vekocha HaGadol” of the year 5637.[54]

It is the Kav-line, which gives measure to the manner of revelation on every level, all the way from the infinite worlds, to Atzilut, including each particular Sefirah. As known and as discussed elsewhere, every Sefirah has lines and conduits specific to it which give measure to how the light will be revealed in that particular Sefirah.[55]

Now, generally speaking, the revelation of the Kav-line concludes in the world of Atzilut.  However, as known,[56] the revelation of the Kav­-line within Atzilut is actually only a glimmer of it, because essentially the Kav-line really only radiates in the worlds of the Infinite which transcend Atzilut. Only a glimmer of the Kav-line actually reaches Atzilut and ends in Malchut of Atzilut.  Therefore, the statement[57] that the Kav-line pierces the screen between Atzilut and BY”A[58] and penetrates into the worlds of BY”A as it does in Atzilut,[59] only occurs through the vessels of Malchut of Atzilut, however, it does not truly radiate within the worlds of BY”A themselves.[60]

Now, it similarly states that the Kav-line itself manifests within the upright aspect of Adam Kadmon (Yosher) and ends in the world of Asiyah (Actualization).  However, in general, regarding the level of Adam Kadmon; even those aspects that are drawn forth to the worlds nevertheless are removed from the worlds and do not radiate in them in a revealed manner, as explained elsewhere.[61]  It is for this reason that the worlds have a tangible sense existence as a separate “something” (Yesh), because if there would be illumination from Adam Kadmon the worlds would be completely nullified out of existence.

Rather, though the aspect of Adam Kadmon is drawn forth in the worlds, it nonetheless remains hidden from them.  Hence, though in truth all beings are indeed utterly nullified before HaShem due to the sublimation that results from the aspect of Adam Kadmon, as it states,[62] “All statures bow before You,” (perhaps due to the level of Iggulim-circles of Adam Kadmon), nonetheless, this is not felt by the creatures. Whatever felt nullification they may have is by choice rather than by imposition from above, as explained elsewhere.[63]  It is therefore understood that the aspect of the Kav-line does not radiate directly within the worlds of BY”A, but that only a glimmer or a glimmer of a glimmer of it illuminates them.

We therefore find that the revelation of the Kav-line in its entirety has a limit and that its light comes to a conclusion, as stated above.  We are therefore forced to say that it also has a beginning above (ketz). In other words, it was only drawn down after the initial restraint (tzimtzum) specifically after the light which preceded it was concealed, bringing about an empty space (Makom Panooy) which was empty of Divine revelation and light. The Kav-line only began radiating afterwards, as in the dictum,[64] “At first there was darkness and then the light returned.”  Therefore, even though the Kav-line is indeed drawn from the aspect of the Infinite Light that precedes the restraint (tzimtzum), nonetheless, because it was preceded by the restraint and empty space which represent the absence of light, it therefore was subsequently drawn down with measure and limitation. It therefore, is limited and has an end.

This is because prior to the restraint (tzimtzum), the Infinite Light equally filled all the space of the void[65] from beginning to end. Likewise, in the “future to come” the essential illumination of the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof) will be revealed as it was prior to the restraint (tzimtzum), as stated,[66] “Your Master shall no longer hide Himself.”  In other words, rather than restraints and concealments there will be eternal rest.[67]  This refers to “rest” from the restraint (tzimtzum), as it states,[68] “And Elokim ceased on the seventh day.”  In other words, there was a cessation and respite of the aspect of restraint (tzimtzum) brought about by the name Elokim.[69]

Now, this will primarily be revealed in the seventh millennium which is called,[70] “a day of complete rest and respite” (Shabbat).  At that point there will be a complete revelation of the Infinite Light in the lower worlds. Then there will be no beginning or end to revelations, as stated,[71] “For they shall behold eye to eye when HaShem returns to Zion.”  Similarly, it states,[72] “And the glory of Hashem shall be revealed and all flesh together shall see that the mouth of HaShem has spoken.”

This kind of revelation already took place in the Holy Temple, for there was a revelation of the Infinite Light in the Holy of Holies[73] as it states,[74] “He constricted Himself between the two rods of the Holy ark.”  This also took place generally in the Holy Temple as a whole, as we see from the ten miracles that happened in the Holy Temple on a permanent basis.[75]  It likewise states,[76] “Three times a year all your males shall come to be seen before the Master, HaShem,” about which it states,[77] “Just as one comes to be seen, so too does he come to see – with his own two eyes etc.”  In other words, they beheld actual revelations of G-dliness in the Holy Temple, as stated,[78] “Bring them and implant them in the mount of Your inheritance, the place of Your dwelling which You prepared, Hashem etc.” This phenomenon specifically took place in the Holy of Holies where there was a true revelation of the Infinite Light in the lower worlds.

Actually, even in our times, there is a revelation akin to this every Shabbat. HaShem rested from restraint (tzimtzum) on Shabbat and therefore every Shabbat there is illumination which does not come about through the medium of restraint (tzimtzum). Therefore, the light is automatically drawn down below as well.  This is as stated,[79] “The seventh day is the Shabbat of Hashem your G-d,” because on the Shabbat there is an illumination and revelation of the four letter name of HaShem which is not by means of the restraint (tzimtzum) of the name Elokim. This is why work activities (melachot) are prohibited on Shabbat,[80] as in the statement,[81] “should a person who does not understand what he is being shown by gesture, converse in signs before the king?”  Work activities (melachot) are only permitted during the rest of the week because then G-dliness is concealed within the Creation. However, on Shabbat G-dliness radiates in a revealed manner, and it is therefore prohibited to perform work activities (melachot), as discussed in Tanya, at the end of chapter forty-six.

Therefore, there is no admixture of evil on Shabbat even below in this world,[82] as the prophet states in rebuke,[83] “I will smear dung upon your faces, the dung of your holidays etc.” However, he did not mention, “the dung of your Shabbat.”[84] The reason is because the consumption of food on Shabbat is only good without any admixture of evil whatsoever. This is akin to the Panag bread[85] of the future, as it states,[86] “In the future the earth will give forth buns of bread” that have no admixture of evil.[87]  It is similarly so on Shabbat even in our times, because the Infinite Light shines below on the Shabbat. Therefore, it states about Shabbat,[88] “all doers of iniquity shall be dispersed” – automatically.

This is similarly so regarding Torah study. It too draws down a revelation of the Infinite Light below (Ohr Ain Sof). This is because the root of its power to draw down is in the Infinite Light that precedes tzimtzum (restraint) as stated,[89] “And there was a voice from above the firmament.” This refers to the voice of the Torah[90] which transcends the separating firmament, and as known, the root of this firmament is the aspect of the first tzimtzum (restraint).  This being the case, the voice of the Torah, is above the tzimtzum (restraint) and can therefore be automatically drawn all the way down with no restraint.

As known, the Torah below is literally exactly as it is above, unlike the revelation of the Kav-line, which because it has higher and lower levels is not the same at its end as it is at its beginning.  In contrast, because Torah is limitless (blee gvul), when it is drawn down it is the same from the beginning to the end, as stated,[91] “Its measure is greater than the earth etc.”

(Elsewhere[92] it states that the primary revelation of Torah specifically takes place below rather than above and therefore was not given to the angels.[93] However, as will be explained, we may say that this primary aspect specifically refers to Torah as it literally is rooted in the essential Self of HaShem and can only be revealed to souls in bodies.[94] (This will be revealed in the “future to come” when “new Torah will issue from Me – that is, a novelty in Torah.”[95] Nonetheless, a new “Giving of the Torah” will never take place.[96]  Rather, what is meant here is that the Torah will literally be revealed as it is in the aspect of the “Delight of the King in His essential Self” which “no one can measure,” and only “G-d understands its way.”[97] (This is similar to the aforementioned verse, “No eye has seen it aside for You, G-d”) It is for this reason that at the time of the resurrection of the dead the souls will specifically manifest in bodies.) (Something similar to this takes place even today in the Torah study of exceptionally righteous people, as it states,[98] “You shall behold your world[99] within your lifetime etc.”)

However, from the angle of the revelations of the light of Torah, the Torah exists in every world; in the world of Atzilut as well as the worlds of BY”A.  Moreover, even the angels receive the light of Torah through the souls, as stated,[100] “The companions listen to your voice,” as discussed elsewhere.[101]  In any event, the fact that the primary aspect of Torah is below in this world is not because it is in a state of limitation and measure. If that were the case, its primary revelation would specifically be above, like all other revelations in the worlds.  This is because the lights and vessels are measured by means of the “measuring rod”[102] (Kav HaMidah), so that the degree of revelation will be according to the vessels and worlds. Those that are more fitting receptacles for the revelation of the Infinite Light would have greater illumination. Thus, the revelations measured by the measuring rod (Kav HaMidah) specifically bring about greater revelations above, in the supernal worlds and lesser ones below. This being the case, the fact that Torah is primarily revealed below, in this world, is specifically not due to the dictates of the measuring rod (Kav HaMidah), but is because of a different matter altogether. Rather, in truth, Torah completely transcends all measure and limitation. It is specifically because of this that it can be drawn down even to this physical and lowly world.)

This is also the reason why the light of purgatory has no dominion over Torah scholars.[103] (This is similar to Shabbat because purgatory rests on Shabbat).[104]  It similarly states,[105] “Only a person who is occupied in the study of Torah can be considered to be free.” This is because through Torah a radiance and revelation of the Infinite Light shines below in this world.  This is as stated,[106] “When two people are occupied in Torah study, the Divine presence rests upon them…even when one person studies etc.” It likewise states,[107] “The only place the Holy One, blessed be He, has in His world, is within the four cubits of Torah law (Halachah).” In contrast, in the worlds the revelation of Divine light is measured and limited, in other words, there is an aspect of end and conclusion, as discussed above. The reason is because they have a beginning in that they are drawn down by means of the tzimtzum-restraint.

According to what was explained above regarding the matter of “up until and including” and “up until, but not including,” the revelations of the order of the chaining down of the worlds correspond to the aspect of “up until and including.”  This is because they are comparable to each other.  That is, if a person is standing on one level, he can relate to the other levels, both the ones above him and below him. (This is why the beings and entities in these levels are called “standing”.)  Because of this, through one level one can understand a higher level. Therefore, on whatever level one may be, he can relate to the level higher than him, since it too has a beginning and end.  This is according Rashi’s explanation of the verse, “To every end etc.”  That is, though we are standing in the middle of the existence of the world, in our mind’s eye we can perceive that there is an end. In other words, even when we stand on one level we can know that there is an end to the higher level too – even though we have not yet reached that level.  This is because all these levels are limited and therefore comparable to each other.

In contrast, the lights that transcend the chaining down of the worlds are limitless and cannot be compared one to another whatsoever. They therefore correspond to the aspect of “up until, but not including,” as discussed above. Therefore, though a person is standing on one level, it cannot be said that he is aware of the aspect of the beginning and end of the higher level, because he has no point of reference to compare it to. Additionally, as stated above, though he comprehends the level he is on, it cannot be truly called comprehension, because it is intangible and totally stripped of any physicality. In other words, even the matter that he grasps is in a state of limitlessness.

Hence, his grasp of the level he is on does not aid him in understanding the higher level, because it is not applicable to grasp the higher level in the same way he grasps this level.  On the contrary, all he perceives is only the transcendence of the higher level and how it is not applicable to grasp it, even in a spiritual manner stripped of all tangible reference, as explained that the higher that a person ascends, the more astounding, lofty and distant the essential Self of the Limitless One becomes for him. It is the same way with the levels of radiance themselves, that whatever level a person achieves, he only perceives the astounding, loftiness and distance of the higher level and that it altogether is not subject to grasp.

Afterwards, when he does come to the higher level (in the above mentioned manner of grasp or much higher levels in a manner stripped of physicality) this is through the total nullification of his previous state of being and existence.  Only thus can he attain the incomparably higher level.  In other words, at first he did not have the capacity to reach this level at all, but through the nullification of self he automatically comes to it.  Therefore, in this aspect or level it is not applicable to say “I have seen an end”, since it is “up until, but not including.”  However, the above is all according to the interpretation of Rashi on the words, “I have seen an end etc.”

According to Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra’s interpretation, “I have seen an end to every beginning,” means that the revelations of the order of chaining down of the worlds are all within measure and limitation.  The verse therefore states regarding them, “I have seen an end,” for they come about specifically by means of the tzimtzum-restraint.  Accordingly, the continuation of the verse – “Your commandment is exceedingly broad” – refers to the lights that transcend the chaining down of the worlds and are without limit, without beginning or end, for this is a revelation from the aspect of the Infinite Light (Ohr Ain Sof) that precedes the tzimtzum-restraint.

This, then, is the meaning of the verse,[108] “Return, O Israel until Hashem your G-d.”  In other words, repentance needs to be in a manner of “up until, but not including.”  This is because, as known,[109] forgiveness of transgression comes specifically from the aspect of the Infinite Light which transcends the chaining down of the worlds.  Within the chaining down of the worlds blemishes are applicable, as known.[110]  Therefore, the rectification of these blemishes specifically comes from the Infinite Light that transcends the chaining down of the worlds. It is specifically this that is drawn down through repentance from the depths of the heart.

Regarding this, the verse states,[111] “To You my heart has said, ‘Seek my countenance (Panay); Your countenance (Panecha) Hashem I seek.”  In other words, drawing down the inner aspect (Pnimiyut) of the essential Self of the Infinite Light, comes about specifically through seeking “My innerness (Panay)”, which is the aspect of repentance from the inner depths of the heart.  This is specifically what arouses and draws forth the aspect of the innerness and essential Self of the Infinite Light. Thus, the verse states, “Return O Israel until Hashem your God”, meaning that repentance should reach the level that is “up until but not including,” which is the aspect of the Infinite Light that transcends all the worlds.

The verse continues, “For you have stumbled in your iniquity.”  In other words, it is incumbent upon man to repent because,[112] “He has placed the world in their hearts,” i.e. in the heart of man.  This is to say that in order for there to be a drawing down of Divine revelation into the world, man must draw down revelation of the Infinite Light upon his soul. This is done through fulfilling Torah and mitzvot, thereby drawing down Divine influence into the world. As explained before,[113] the primary intent in performing the mitzvot is to draw down revelation of the Infinite Light to the worlds, thus fulfilling HaShem’s desire for a dwelling place in this lower world.  Therefore, when “you have stumbled in your iniquity” and have not fulfilled this intent, the Infinite Light must drawn down through repentance.

The meaning of the words “you have stumbled” is that it is because of this lacking that we stumble and fall, Heaven forbid, thus causing the descent of the world as well, since the entire purpose of the descent of the soul into this world is only to draw down the Infinite Light into the worlds. This is because the soul also is rooted in the essential Self of the Infinite Light. This is why it specifically descended into the physical body, as explained elsewhere.[114]  This is similar to what was explained above regarding the fact that the Torah is rooted in the essential Self and was therefore specifically given below in this world. This is likewise so of the souls and it is because of this that it is specifically within their capacity to draw down the aspect of the essential Self of the Infinite Light. Such is not the case regarding the angels or any of the supernal levels in the chaining down of the world. They do not have this capacity. Since this is the entire purpose of the descent of the soul into this world; therefore when a person lacks this matter of drawing down the Divine influence, then he stumbles and falls from his spiritual level. Moreover, he causes the world to descend too.

Now, at first glance we may ask, are not the revelations within the worlds according to the order of the chaining down of the worlds? Why then do the sins or blemishes of man have such an impact on the worlds?  However, because “the world is placed in the heart of man,” and because the ultimate intent of creation as a whole was to draw down the aspect of the essential Self of the Infinite Light into the worlds, therefore, when man draws down the Infinite Light through fulfilling Torah and mitzvot, he causes all the worlds to ascend.  The opposite, that he can cause all the worlds to descend, heaven forbid, is also true. The sin of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the prime example of this, but in reality, every sin or transgression has this effect.

All this is rectified through repentance from the depths of the heart, which draws down the aspect of the essential Self of the Infinite Light, through which all blemishes are rectified.  It is for this reason that it states, “Return, O Israel until Hashem your G-d,” to the aspect of “up until, but not including” which is the aspect of the Infinite Light that transcends all worlds. Through this pardon and forgiveness are drawn down.


[1] Hosea 14:2

[2] In the previous discourse.

[3] Isaiah 30:20

[4] Torat Chaim, Shmot Vol. 2, p. 456d and on; 444c; 447c; Likkutei Torah, Pekudei 5a; 7b and on.

[5] Shacharit, Baruch She’amar blessing.

[6] Talmud Bavli, Eruvin 58b

[7] Torah Ohr, Shmot 49d an on.

[8] Talmud Bavli, Brachot 26b

[9] Ohr HaTorah to Brachot 26b; Likkutei Torah, Pekudei 7c

[10] In the previous discourse.

[11] Sefer HaMaamarim 5657, p. 238 and on.  Hemshech 5672, Vol. 1, p. 150 and on; p. 158 and on.

[12] Sefer HaMaamarim 5654, p. 220; p. 224 and on

[13] This refers to angels, who are incapable of ascending beyond their level.  They are therefore called “those who stand,” as they are incapable of transcending their stations.

[14] This refers to human beings, who are able to transcend their limitations and are therefore called “travelers.”

[15] Albeit, these are different types of travel, as explained in the notes above.

[16] Sefer HaMaamarim 5659, p. 24; 5660, p. 107 and on; 5671, p. 69 and on.

[17] Hemshech 5672, Vol. 1, p. 400 and on; Sefer HaMaamarim 5685, p. 69 and on; 5708, p. 70

[18] Isaiah 52:13

[19] Jeremiah 9:23

[20] Isaiah 64:3

[21] Zohar Vol. 3, p. 288a; 129b; 140b; 159a

[22] Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:1

[23] Isaiah 60:21

[24] Friday night Lecha Dodi prayer.

[25] Bereishit Rabba, 8:7

[26] Torat Kohanim and Rashi commentary to Leviticus 1:9; Sifri and Rashi commentary to Numbers 28:8

[27] Zichronot prayer of Musaf

[28] Vayikra Rabbah Ch. 29; Pirke D’Rabbi Elazar Ch. 8; Tosefot in Talmud Bavli, Rosh HaShanah 8a; RabbAinu Nissim to Talmud Bavli Rosh HaSHanah 16a

[29] Talmud Bavli, Brachot 6b

[30] Psalms 119:96

[31] Exodus 25:19; 39:4

[32] This is like the two ends of a rectangular table, in which one is called the “head of the table” and the other is called the “end of the table.” Ketz and Ktzot are the same word in singular and plural form. Ktzotav means, “its two ends” (or extremities).

[33] Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 57; Zohar Chadash Yitro 34c; Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 19

[34] Rabbi Shmuel Eidels

[35] Etz Chaim, Shaar 44, Ch. 1-2; Tanya Iggeret HaKodesh, Epistle 20, p. 130a; Sefer HaMaamarim 5650 p. 285 and on; 5662 p. 228 and on; 5704 p. 35 and on.

[36] Neshamah, Ruach and Nefesh are the three levels of the soul.

[37] End of page 156 and on.

[38] Shiur Komah, p. 30a; Pardes, Shaar 4, Ch. 1; Etz Chaim, Shaar 42, Ch. 2; Shaar 44, Ch. 7; Mikdash Melech, Zohar Vol. 2, p. 56a; Shnei Luchot HaBrit, 325b and on; Maamarei Admor HaEmtza’ee, Bamidbar Vol. 1, p. 304; Dvarim, Vol. 3, p. 819

[39] Avodat HaKodesh, Shaar 1, Ch. 8

[40] Torah Ohr there, p. 92c

[41] Etz Chaim, Shaar 1, Anaf 2; Mevo She’arim, Shaar 1, Ch. 2

[42] Zichronot blessing of Musaf prayer on Rosh HaShanah.

[43] Talmud Bavli, Rosh HaShanah 18a, and Maharsha there

[44] Sefer HaMaamarim 5662, p. 328 and on; 5663 Vol. 2, p. 189; 5664, p. 41

[45] Shaar 9, Ch. 6; Zohar HaRakiya, Zohar Vol. 1, 15a; Likkutei Torah Hosafot to Vayikra, 51d; Masei 95b

[46] Etz Chaim, Shaar 6, Ch. 1; Shaar 7, Ch. 1

[47] Etz Chaim, Shaar 6, Ch. 1; Shaar 7, Ch. 1

[48] Etz Chaim, Shaar 7, Ch. 3; Sefer HaMaamarim 5661 p. 176; 5670 p. 30 and on; Hemshech 5672 Vol. 1, p. 13; 5689 p. 253 and on; 5692 p. 66; 5704 p. 41; 5710 p. 59 and on.

[49] Etz Chaim, Shaar 6, Ch. 1; Shaar 7, Ch. 1

[50] Etz Chaim, Shaar 11, Ch. 1

[51] Etz Chaim, Shaar 10, Ch. 5

[52] Etz Chaim, Shaar 42, Ch. 13

[53] Sefer HaMaamarim 5626, p. 347 and on; 5650 p. 282 and on

[54] Chapter 29 and on.

[55] Mevo She’arim, Shaar 1, Ch. 2; Biurei HaZohar, Admor HaEmtza’ee, p. 19b and on

[56] Derech Mitzvotecha, 37a; 119b

[57] Tanya, Igeret HaKodesh, Epistle 20 (131b); Etz Chaim, Shaar 3, Ch. 1

[58] Briyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah (Creation, Formation, Actualization)

[59] In the original Hebrew text this is reversed.

[60] Sefer HaMaamarim 5658 p. 147; 5665, p. 190 and on

[61] Likkutei Torah, Tazria 21c; Siddur Im DA”Ch 141c

[62] Nishmat Kol Chai prayer; Torat Chaim Bereishit 30a

[63] Sefer HaMaamarim 5652, p. 51; 5657 p. 246

[64] Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 77b

[65] Etz Chaim, Shaar 1, Anaf 2

[66] Isaiah 30:20

[67] End of tractate Tamid

[68] Genesis 2:2

[69] Likkutei Torah, Balak 72a; Pinchas 79c; Shir HaShirim 32a

[70] End of tractate Tamid

[71] Isaiah 52:8

[72] Isaiah 40:5

[73] Tanya, Ch. 53

[74] Tanchuma VaYakhel Ch. 7; Bereishit Rabbah, 5:7; Vayikra Rabbah 10:9; Shir HaShirim Rabbah 1:14; Likkutei Torah, Emor, 34b; Ohr HaTorah, Chanukah, Vol. 5, p. 925a; Sefer HaMaamarim 5632, Vol. 1, p. 48; p. 210

[75] Mishnah Avot 5:5

[76] Exodus 23:17

[77] Talmud Bavli, Chagigah 2a

[78] Exodus 15:17

[79] Exodus 20:9

[80] Sidur Im DA”Ch p. 149b and on; Derech Mitzvotecha 8b; Ohr HaTorah Lech Lecha Vol. 4, p. 720a and on

[81] Talmud Bavli, Chagigah 5b

[82] Torah Ohr, Chaye Sarah 15c and on

[83] Malachi 2:3

[84] Zohar Vol. 2, p. 88b; Torah Ohr, Chaye Sara 15c and on; Siddur Im DA”Ch 202c and on

[85] Ezekiel 27:17 and the commentaries there; Zohar Vol. 1, p. 47b; 235b; 246a; Likkutei Torah Bamidbar 5d; Ekev 15a; Torat Chaim Shmot Vol. 1, p. 23b

[86] Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 30b

[87] And therefore will not require rectification through preparation.

[88] Psalms 92:10

[89] Ezekiel 1:25; Maamarei Admor HaZaken, Nevi’im p. 235; Ohr HaTorah Yitro, Vol. 8, p. 2,982

[90] Sefer HaMaamarim, 5638, p. 146

[91] Job 11:9; Talmud Bavli, Eruvin 21a

[92] Torah Ohr, Yitro, p. 71a and on; 72b and on

[93] Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 88b and on

[94] Later in the series 5668 discourse entitled “HaShamayim Kis’ee”

[95] Vayikra Rabbah 13:3; Yalkut Shimoni to Isaiah, Remez 429

[96] Sefer HaMaamarim 5640, Vol. 1, p. 284; 5647, p. 87; 5656 p. 356; 5663 Vol. 2, p. 259; Hemshech 5672 Vol. 1, p. 366; Sefer HaMaamarim 5679, p. 291.

[97] Job 28:13 & 28:23

[98] Talmud Bavli, Brachot 17a

[99] Referring to the world to come.

[100] Song of Songs 8:13; Shir HaShirim Rabbah 8:11; Zohar Vol. 3, p. 22a

[101] Ohr HaTorah, Bereishit Vol. 6, p. 1,023b; Sefer HaMaamarim 5638, p. 219

[102] Zohar Vol. 2, p. 233a; Likkutei Torah – Naso 27c

[103] Talmud Bavli, Chagigah 27a

[104] Zohar Vol. 3, p. 273a

[105] Mishnah Avot 6:2

[106] Mishnah Avot 3:2 & 3:5

[107] Talmud Bavli, Brachot 8a

[108] Hosea 14:2

[109] Sefer HaMaamarim 5639, Vol. 2, p. 547 and on.

[110] Torah Ohr, VaYera 15a and on; Sefer HaMaamarim 5665, p. 25 and on; p. 32 and on; 5677 p. 196 and on; 5703 p. 92 and on.

[111] Psalms 27:8

[112] Ecclesiastes 3:11

[113] In the discourse entitled “Yom Tov Shel Rosh HaShanah”

[114] Biurei HaZohar Admor HaEmtza’ee, p. 99a and on.

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