Thus far we have explained the general effect of prayer. However, to understand this in greater detail and more clearly, an introduction is necessary concerning the purpose of creation—why did HaShem create all of the worlds? Also, how is it even possible for worlds to exist when in truth HaShem is (so to speak) absolutely simple and has no relationship to [diverse and limited] worlds. For example, it is possible for a great idea to be condensed into a very small idea, because they are both of the same category, though one is great and the other is small. Therefore, it is possible for one to be condensed into the other.
In contrast, it is impossible for a deep concept to become an inanimate object. No amount of condensing—even an infinite series of contractions—will accomplish this, because the two are not in the same category of existence and bear no relationship to each other whatsoever. So too Above, the Infinite One is completely simple, and even when He limits and contracts Himself, the product will remain infinite. This is because Infinity is not of the same category of existence as limited beings and they bear no relationship with each other.
If so, how can a limited being, which is a completely different kind of being, come into existence? The answer is that HaShem is (so to speak) all‑powerful, and He is perfect in every way. Perfection lacks nothing. Thus, if He could only reveal the Infinite without limit, this, in itself, would not be perfection. The meaning of perfection is that he possesses all opposites at once. His ability is equally expressed in limitations as it is in infinity. Precisely as great as His ability is to act infinitely, so is his ability to act finitely—there is no difference to Him between the two. He can create an unlimited number of finite beings, yet He remains the same in the finite as He is in the infinite, as it says, “I am HaShem, I do not change,” and “You are He before the world was created, and you are He after the world was created.”
HaShem remains the same with absolutely no difference from before or after creation. It is not possible for a created being to fully comprehend this, nevertheless, the Jewish People inherently sense this truth through the faith we have inherited from our fathers and they from their fathers—and this sense is precisely as strong as if we saw it with our very eyes. This is actually the case, as it says, “With the (mind’s) eye that is in their hearts they perceive everything.” A Jew can perceive in his heart that there is nothing but Him alone—even now, just as it was before the creation of the world. This will suffice for the understanding.
Yet, the intermediaries through which HaShem creates the world are His wisdom, understanding, and knowledge (Chochmah, Binah, Daas) even though there are infinite contractions in order to create wisdom from Him, because HaShem is just as far and removed from wisdom as He is from a physical entity. If so, how can we attribute wisdom to HaShem? Nevertheless, we can say that being that HaShem is perfect and complete, He also possesses wisdom. Through this wisdom HaShem creates finite worlds, as it says (Psalms 104:24), “With wisdom You created them all, the earth is filled with Your creatures.”
This is because wisdom is the first revelation of the Infinite One, blessed be He, as known. In wisdom (Chochmah), all of the worlds exist as a general abstract potential and are completely nullified (transparent), because wisdom (Chochmah) is the ability to be nullified and transparent to G‑dliness (koah ma”h). In other words, wisdom is the revelation of the ability to be nullified and transparent to the Infinite One, blessed be He.
[This concept is only revealed through wisdom,] because from the viewpoint of the Essential Self of the Infinite One, blessed be He, He transcends wisdom, and it is impossible to say that something is nullified to Him. After all, there is nothing to be nullified to Him—there is only Him alone. Even in wisdom, we cannot say, G‑d forbid, that some entity has existence and then becomes nullified to HaShem. Rather, it is comparable to how the soul contains all the faculties that are later expressed openly in the body. Although we see all the faculties as they are expressed in the body, nevertheless, we understand that the body itself is completely inanimate (without the soul). Therefore, we conclude that any consciousness and faculties must come from the soul. Yet, were we to try and find any particular faculty in the soul as we see it in the body, such as sight or any other faculty, we would surely not find it in the soul.
So too Above, it states, “With wisdom You created them all.” Therefore, we must conclude that all of the worlds are contained in [HaShem’s wisdom]—angels and souls, the upper and lower Garden of Eden, even this lowly world down to the smallest creature in the sea. Yet, we cannot say that any actual distinct entities exist in HaShem’s wisdom (G‑d forbid)—not even the loftiest spiritual entities. Still, we must say that it all exists in HaShem’s wisdom [in some higher, unified form], because this wisdom originates from HaShem and He is complete and whole in every way. However, because of the revelation of the Infinite in His wisdom, there is no superiority of the rich over the poor – the small and the great are alike and the slave is free of his master.
Although, after the entire process of creation, every level becomes separate and distinct in a clear order and hierarchy; however, in HaShem’s wisdom itself, everything is nullified due to the revelation of the Infinite. Because everything is still nullified in HaShem’s wisdom, it therefore is only revealed in [the next stage], Binah—HaShem’s understanding. This stage allows for revelation, because it is called the Upper Mother that forms all the details. This is similar to how a child is formed in its mother’s womb. Although the father is the primary cause of the child’s conception, still, the source of the child as it is rooted in the father’s brain has no independent existence [separate and apart from the father].
Similarly Above, so to speak, in HaShem’s wisdom all entities are indistinguishable from their source. The revelation of these details occurs within understanding (Binah). Nevertheless, although understanding gives everything its form, which is already a revelation, the statement of the Zohar holds true: “The father and mother are two lovers that never separate.” This indicates that the concrete existence and the abstract source are all one, and cannot be separated (G‑d forbid). Even the most concrete existence is not truly independent [of its G‑dly source]. The connection between these two extremes is forged by Daas—personal, intimate knowledge—as it says, “With knowledge [Daas] the chambers are filled.” This is possible because Daas stems from the Essential Self of the Infinite One, blessed be He, and, after all, His Essential Self is perfect and complete in every way. The primary purpose of this is that His perfection should be revealed and expressed in actuality, because the Holy One, blessed be He, desired a dwelling place in the lower world, so to speak.
This necessitates the existence of creatures, for there can be no king without a people. Therefore, HaShem’s light must contract further into His emotional attributes, which correspond to the six directions and the traits depicted in the verse, “To you Hashem is the greatness, the might, [the beauty, the victory, the glory”,] as well as the attribute of Yesod hinted at by the continuation of the verse, “for You unite the heavens and the earth.” Through this contraction, HaShem’s revelation can now enter the attribute of Kingship (Malchus), which enlivens and creates finite worlds. This is why the attribute of Yesod is referred to by the word Kol, which in this instance means that which unites (the heavens and the earth). This creates a relationship between the spiritual heaven and the physical earth so that the heavens may influence and direct the earth.
Once again, the ability to unite these opposites’ stems from HaShem’s Essential Self, which is manifest through Yesod; and from the vantage point of the Essential Self, nothings is separate or detached from Him, G‑d forbid. This allows for the revelation of HaShem’s light in a limited manner that appears as a detached being, though essentially this is not the case. From the vantage point of the Essential Self there truly is nothing outside of Him, as explained in the Zohar, “There is none that is separate from His existence.” This means that everything that we see adds no multiplicity and implies no change, G‑d forbid, for “I am HaShem, I do not change.”
Even though the diminished revelation of HaShem that we perceive is called by the name Elokim (G-d), still all is truly one, because, “Hashem, He is Elokim” and there is no change between them, as it says, “In the heavens above and upon the earth below, and in the waters below the earth, there is none besides Him.” It follows that the Essential Self of G‑dliness does not change as a result of creation and remains exactly as it was before creation.
Despite all of this, we do perceive the world as something separate and apart from G‑d. The Divine ability to enliven and create something so that it will appear as something separate is called the Shechinah, which means the indwelling presence. This is the G‑dly force that dwells inside a creature to enliven it in a way that it appears to be separate. Therefore, we must understand and contemplate well, to realize that creation is really not separate from Him; rather He is simply enlivening this being in a way that makes it appear independent.
This is the ultimate descent for HaShem, and it therefore must have a deep purpose and intent motivating it. After all, it is not the way of a great and awesome king to involve himself in petty, trifling matters. However, HaShem is continuously involved in creating the worlds and renews the works of creation every day. HaShem creates the world with His speech, as it says, “With the word of HaShem the heavens were made, and with the breath of his mouth all of its creatures.” In this way HaShem even gives life to the kelipos and the side of evil. This means that HaShem is creating each individual, including all of his foolishness, idle chatter, boasting, and mocking etc.
From the preceding it is obvious that there must be some deep purpose and reason for the world’s existence. However, we tend to only take what we see with our eyes into account and forget the purpose. This is called “The Exile of the Divine Presence”. The Kabbalists called this state Rachel, as in the verse, “A lamb (rachel) is silent when being shorn.” To explain: In the time of the Holy Temple—in the days of David and Solomon—all the nations paid tribute, because they received their vitality primarily from the holiness and G‑dliness that shone within every aspect of the world. Because of this, they subjugated themselves to holiness.
So too, when any Jew eats and drinks or does business, these aspects of his life are considered to be like gentiles or foreigners, and the nullification to G-dliness must illuminate these elements as well. The tribute that these “nations” must pay is that every aspect of one’s mundane affairs should contribute some benefit to G‑dliness, like the advantage of light over darkness. Or, even better, one should recognize that all the worlds with all of their details are like hairs relative to the essence of one’s life. As long as these aspects of life serve their purpose and are nullified to G‑dliness, they are like hairs as they are rooted in the body, connected to their source. Then every aspect of life can bring benefit. If, however, one forgets this point and confuses his priorities, this brings—due to our abundant sins—a state of exile and destruction. Then the life force is like a lamb being shorn.
The ultimate purpose is that, through all of this, HaShem’s Essential Self will be revealed. Otherwise, HaShem would not have involved Himself in creation, for it is not the way of kings to trouble themselves with petty affairs, as explained previously. Everything that HaShem created was created for His sake, and even a wicked person on the day of his wickedness serves to reveal that there is nothing else besides Him—even in the darkest and furthest of places. The physical world and the darkness and concealment found there, will reveal how from His point of view there is nothing besides Him and that darkness is the same as light, as explained in the Zohar, “There is no good, save that which comes out of evil, and no light, save that which comes out of darkness. Were there no darkness, we would not be capable of knowing light [for lack of contrast]…” This will suffice for the understanding.
It is well known that, “In the place that a baal teshuvah stands, even the perfectly righteous cannot stand.” In a similar way, specifically through exile, it will be possible to have greater revelations in the time of Moshiach even than at the time of the Holy Temple. Every Jew senses this inner purpose, but only subconsciously; while the main goal is for this to be openly revealed. Presently however, even when there is revelation of G‑dliness, it becomes hidden and forgotten again, as if it never was. This is because the revelation itself depends on the [challenge created by the] concealment of G‑dliness. However, if there is no revelation of G‑dliness, then the material world becomes like broken vessels [that no longer serve their purpose], as previously explained.
Concerning a person who acts egotistically and with self‑centeredness, HaShem says, “I and he cannot live together in this world.” Such a stance directly opposes making a dwelling place for HaShem in the lower worlds, which is the ultimate purpose stemming from HaShem’s light, for “there can be no king without a people” [and therefore the purpose of the creatures of our world is to bring out HaShem’s kingship]. Thus, on the surface it seems almost impossible to reveal G‑dliness, since the revelation itself requires concealment!]
The answer to this is that a Jew has the power to accomplish anything, because the source of the Jew is in the Essential Self of the Infinite One, blessed be He. The Jewish soul is a manifestation of the power of nullification and self‑effacement inherent in the Essential Self of the Infinite One, blessed be He. Through this, a Jew can even reveal how a seemingly detached entity is completely transparent to HaShem, because He is like a consuming flame that devours and consumes anything it comes in contact with, so to speak. Yet, it says about the Jewish People, “You are bound to Hashem; your G‑d is life.” For a Jew, his connection to HaShem is life and not death or destruction. Indeed, the primary life of a Jew is specifically his connection to HaShem and just as HaShem is totally infinite and simple, and [therefore] He can be manifest through the worlds, so too, the Jewish soul can reside in a physical body and still have complete and true self‑sacrifice and nullification to G‑dliness, with all his body and soul. This is only because the Jewish soul is literally a piece of G‑d Above, and therefore they can exist in a state of paradox, maintaining two conflicting realities at once. This will suffice for the understanding.
[Summary: HaShem’s Essential Self even transcends the infinite. Rather, He is the ultimate perfection and can act finitely just as He can act infinitely. Therefore, HaShem can literally do anything and the creation of finite beings did not change or limit His Essential being in any way whatsoever.
The actual creation is revealed first through HaShem’s wisdom (Chochmah). This level views everything merely as an expression of HaShem’s ability. From this point of view all is equal and there is no difference between creating the loftiest spiritual being from creating an inanimate physical object, such as a rock.
Following this, HaShem limits creation through his power of understanding (Binah). This level reveals each entity as distinct, with a clear order and hierarchy. From this point of view, creation reveals G-dliness by functioning precisely according to His desire and everything has a unique and distinct purpose—however, this becomes increasingly concealed to us as it filters down into lower realms of consciousness.
The ultimate purpose of all this is that HaShem desires that we reveal His Essential Self even in this lowly physical world through our efforts (avoda). This can only be accomplished by overcoming the challenges created through HaShem’s concealment.]