The Beginning of Wisdom – Chapter 5

(Within which is explained the matter of lights and vessels, the development of the worlds, the concept of enclothing, inner light, encompassing light, and rebounding light.)

107.  Although the Divine conducts are beyond grasp and definition, they are allegorically called “lights”(אורות) since there is nothing higher or more ethereal in empirical[1] experience[2].

108.  When reference is made to a “radiance” (הארה) of a particular light, this refers to a limited revelation of that Sefirah.

108B. The Sefirot develop one from the other in a descending order. This is called “The process of development” (השתלשלות).  Keter gives rise to Chochmah, which gives rise to Binah etc., until Malchut; the one conduct necessitating the next.  Through the contemplation of this process one can attain a deeper understanding of G_d’s conduct toward the world.  For example, though Gevurah is the conduct of judgment and punishment, we know that it arises from Chesed.  It, therefore, is ultimately an act of kindness rather than a desire for vengeance on the part of G_d.  Its true purpose is to deter Mankind from sin, as Scripture states[3], “G_d does it that people may fear Him” and[4] “That those who remain will hear of it and fear.”  Furthermore, the individual experiencing the affliction also benefits, as stated[5], “Happy is the man afflicted of G_d.”  Also[6], “For G_d rebukes those He loves”[7]. and[8] “As a man chastises his son” etc.  But since the world cannot withstand absolute judgment, the intermediate conduct of mercy (Tiferet) arises.  This principle[9] applies to all the Sefirot, which develop one from the other[10] in a similar fashion.[11]

109.  However, when one conduct precedes another in the process of development and the second conduct is the essential one, the prior conduct is considered to be preparatory to and ,as such, stemming from the latter, essential conduct, “The last deed being the first in thought”.  Since this world and the fulfillment of the mitzvot in it, is preparatory to G_d’s ultimate intent, it is considered to be secondary to, and therefore stemming[12] from the world to come.[13]

110. Because Keter, Chochmah, and Binah are the essential conducts of the world to come, the six Sefirot of the System of Justice-Zeir Anpin, which are preparatory to their ultimate fulfillment, are thus considered to have arisen from them.  Chochmah and Binah are the primary revealed conducts, (Keter being totally hidden) and are allegorically called Father-Abba and Mother-Imma, since they give rise to the conduct of the system of Justice, through which this world functions, as Scripture states[14], “For all His ways are Just.”[15]

111.  Early writings sometimes refer to a primary conduct by the term “Cause” (עילה) and to a secondary conduct by the term “Effect” (עלול).[16]

112.  Another aspect of the Sefirot is that of “Enclothing” (התלבשות), whereby one conduct is concealed in and acts through a second conduct, which is the external expression of the inner, motivating one.  The revealed conduct is considered to be the garment of the conduct concealed within it.  Scripture thus states,[17] “Good is a revealed rebuke coming from a hidden love”,[18] for example, a father who punishes or disciplines his child does so out of great love of the child and for his ultimate betterment, by correcting the negative characteristics he sees in him.  If he did not care for the child, he would not be moved to discipline him. However, to the casual observer it may seem to be cruel.  The love and kindness of the father is enclothed, so to speak, within the external expression of punishment and discipline.

112B. Sometimes in G_d’s relationship to Israel, the conduct of kindness is enclothed in that of judgment, for their ultimate good, as Scripture states,[19] “As a man chastens his son, so does the L-rd your G_d chasten you”.  So too, concerning the suffering of the righteous[20], the sages stated,[21] “Happy are the righteous who G_d did not countenance in this world”.  Scripture describes punishment as the concealment of G_d’s countenance, as it is written,[22] “I shall surely conceal my countenance on that day”.[23]

113.  The concept of enclothing may be further expanded, in that a specific part of one conduct may be enclothed in a specific part of another, all of which indicate sublime matters in G_d’s conduct.[24]

114.  For example, Chesed of Arich Anpin (Keter) which is great mercy, is enclothed within Abba (Chochmah), Gevurah of Arich Anpin is enclothed in Imma (Binah), and Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod of Arich Anpin are enclothed in Zeir Anpin etc. as follows;

Arich Anpin Enclothing Partzuf
Chessed Chochmah Abba
Gevurah Binah Imma
Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod Six Sefirot of Zeir Anpin Zeir Anpin
Malchut Malchut Nukvah

The upper three Sefirot of Arich Anpin, are absolutely concealed and beyond grasp and as such can not be enclothed in the lesser Sefirot.

114B. However, the general principle is that the lowest level of the higher aspect is enclothed in the highest level of the lower aspect, for example;  the Malchut of Chesed is enclothed within the Keter of Gevurah etc.  This principle applies to the Sefirot as well as the Partzufim and Worlds.

115.  The concept of enclothing is related to that of lights and vessels in that a vessel limits and conceals the light and revelation within it in proportion to its density and/or lack of transparency.  Light represents revelation (which is chesed) whereas vessels represent concealment (which is judgment and restriction) as Scripture states[25], “He set darkness as His hiding place”.[26]

116.  Kabbalah speaks allegorically of three kinds of light;

The first is revelation which is beyond grasp and cannot be contained within the vessel.  It, therefore, is described as encompassing the vessel from a distance and is called, “Direct encompassing light” (אור מקיף הישר)

The second is that light which is grasped and contained within the vessel.  It is called, “Inner Light”    (אור פנימי).

The final light is called, “Rebounding encompassing light”, (אור מקיף החוזר) in that it enters the vessel but cannot be contained within it, due to the limitations of the vessel.[27]  This light therefore rebounds and encompasses the vessel [28]closely.[29]

117.  The GR”A[30] applies this principle to the relationship between the upper three Sefirot and the seven lower Sefirot of Zeir Anpin and Nukvah.  Because discernments begin to arise in Binah, its light may be enclothed within the seven lower Sefirot as an inner light (Ohr Pnimi – אור פנימי).  Nonetheless, due to the limitations of the receiving vessels, (rather than any limitation in Binah itself), only a fraction of its light is enclothed within them.  Since Chochmah is not as absolute a kindness and mercy as Keter, its light may penetrate their vessels momentarily, but rebounds instantly due to their inability to grasp it.  It therefore represents the Encompassing Rebounding light (Ohr Makif Hachozer – אור מקיף החוזר).  Keter is absolute and unqualified Kindness and Mercy and therefore it represents the direct encompassing light (Ohr Makif Hayashar – אור מקיף הישר).  It cannot be grasped at all within the seven lower Sefirot and as such, is beyond comprehension and exceedingly hidden.

118.  Each Partzuf possesses five distinct qualities: three types of light; the encompassing direct light (Ohr Makif Hayashar – אור מקיף הישר), the encompassing Rebounding light (Ohr Makif Hachozer – אור מקיף החוזר), and the inner light (Ohr Pnimi – אור פנימי), and two aspects of vessels; the inner (פנימי), and the external (חיצוני).[31]



[1] See Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 5

[2] See #115 thru #115 of this book.

[3] Eclessiastes 3:14

[4] Deuteronomy 19:20

[5] Psalms 74:12

[6] Proverbs 3:12

[7] The suffering of the righteous is an atonement for the individual himself as well as the entire generation.

[8] Deuteronomy 8:5

[9] Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 10, 72, 73.

[10] Choker U’Mekubal, towards the eand of chapter 4.

[11] Kinat HaShen Tzvaot, p.88 of Friedlander edition.

[12] Milchemet Moshe p.12.

[13] See #26

[14] Deuteronomy 32:4

[15] Gra, Sifra D’Tzniuta

[16] Kinat HaShen Tzvaot, p.88 Friedlander edition.

[17] Proverbs 27:5

[18] See #23

[19] Deuteronomy 8:5

[20] See #10

[21] Yoma 87a.

[22] Deuteronomy 31:18

[23] The deeper meaning of this verse is, “I shall surely conceal my inner aspect (Panim-פנים) on that day”. This signifies that G_d’s kindness, which is the inner, motivating force, is concealed by judgement, which is expressed in its stead.

[24] Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 100.

[25] Psalms 18:12

[26] Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 28.

[27] Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 28.

[28] That which may be grasped by human intellect is called Ohr Pnimi-Inner Light, whereas that which is beyond human understanding is called Ohr Makif-Encompassing Light. For example, Keter, which is the underlying, motivating force in Creation, contains all three categories of light. That which we understand of Keter, i.e., that G_d’s ultimate intent is good and benefits all, is Ohr Pnimi – the Inner Light. The increased perception and revelation of Keter as it will be in the world to come is Ohr Makif HaChozer-אור מקיף החוזר-The Rebounding Encompassing Light.    G_d’s ultimate and essential purpose for the creation of the world, however, is unknowable and is called, “The Direct Encompassing Light.

[29] In the larger picture, there also are two categories of light:  Ohr Memalleh-אור ממלה-The Filling Light, is the light which fills all worlds, whereas Ohr Sovev-אור סובב-The Surrounding Light is the light that surrounds all worlds.

[30] Sifra D’Tzniuta, p.38b.

[31] See #23.

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