The Beginning of Wisdom – Chapter 8

(Within which is explained the stages of conduct until eternity, Adam Kadmon and his Branches, and the emanations of his ears, nose, and mouth, the World of Bundles, Tzimtzum, and the Ray.)

156.  There are two general stages in time; This world – Olam HaZeh and the World to Come – Olam HaBah.  This world will endure six millennia corresponding to the Divine conducts, Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, and Yesod, in that order.  The era of Moshiach, which ushers in the period of Malchut is a transitional stage[1].  It will begin during the latter part of the sixth millennium (and will conclude with the resurrection of the dead).  The seventh millennium marks the beginning of the world to come and corresponds to Malchut.  It will be of a higher order than the preceding six.  During this stage the world ceases to exist in its present form and will be in a state of desolation for 1000 years, as scripture states[2], “A song for the day of Sabbath”.  That is, a Sabbath of eternal rest[3].  During this period the righteous will hover over the world like the ministering angels.

156b. The eighth millennium, corresponding to Binah, will be higher still and represents the renewal of the world and the final and eternal resurrection, as stated[4], “The Holy One Blessed Be He will renew His world after the seventh millennium”.  The ninth and tenth millennia correspond to Chochmah and Keter and represent higher levels.  The conclusion of the tenth millennium marks the beginning of the eternal conduct, which transcends time, and represents the ultimate goodness. However, since death ceases from the seventh millennium on, these stages are also considered to be aspects of the eternal conduct[5].

157. The eternal conduct, following the conclusion of the tenth millennium, is totally beyond our comprehension.  It is the culmination and ultimate purpose of all creation and is called Adam Kadmon – Primordial Man; Adam – Man, because it embodies and fulfills all 613 components of Creation and is therefore a full stature.  Kadmon – Primordial, because it is G_d’s original and essential intent in the creation of the world, all other conducts being merely preparatory stages to its ultimate fulfillment, as stated, “The last deed was first in thought”.

158.  Any intended conduct which is preceded by one or more preparatory ones is considered to be their cause.  Therefore, all conducts from the beginning of creation to the conclusion of the tenth millennium are considered to be caused by and branches of Adam Kadmon[6].

159.  Within the framework of time, there are six basic stages or branches.  The first stage was the creation of the world through the name of 52-Ban, representing strict judgment.  This was also the world of Tohu – Chaos or Nekudim – Points.  The second stage was the introduction of the name 45-Mah representing mercy.  This is the world of Tikkun – Repair.  The last four stages are the seventh through tenth millennia of the world to come.  All these stages are branches of Adam Kadmon[7].

160.  The four expansions of the name Y-H-V-H correspond to the elements of Torah script and the millennia, as follows[8];

AV-72 Taamim – Cantillations Tenth Millennium
SAG-63 Nekudim – Vowels Ninth, Eighth, and Seventh Millennium
MAH-45 Tagin – Crownlets Tikkun
BAN-52 Otiyot – Letter Tohu

161.  As previously stated[9] each of the four expansions of Y-H-V-H has lower subdivisions which correspond to the four elements of Torah script.  AV is divided into the cantillations, vowels, crownlets and letters, all of which pertain to the tenth millennium. In SAG, cantillations, which is the first of its four subdivisions, corresponds to the ninth, eighth and seventh millennia as follows: The upper cantillations (those appearing above a letter) correspond to the ninth millennium.  The middle cantillations (those appearing next to a letter such as a “Sof Pasuk”) correspond to the eighth millennium and the lower cantillations (those appearing under a letter) correspond to the seventh millennium.  The remaining three subdivisions which are the vowels, crownlets and letters of SAG, join with and influence this world, i.e., the names of MAH – 45 and BAN – 52[10].  The four subdivisions of MAH – 45 correspond to Tikkun, and the four subdivisions of BAN – 52 correspond to Tohu.

162.  Since the ninth, eighth and seventh millennia correspond to the upper, middle and lower cantillations they are sometimes alluded to by these terms.

163.  The six above mentioned conducts are branches of Adam Kadmon.  They are allegorically called after those areas of the head from which influence emanates.  Because the conduct of AV (the tenth millennium) is above comprehension, it is allegorically compared to the skull, (which is sealed), and its hair.  The remaining conducts correspond to five areas of the skull from which influence emanates.  They are:

the eyes – sight

the ears – hearing

the nose – smell

the mouth – speech.

Under special conditions, influence may emanate from the forehead, which constitutes the fifth area, such as the rays of light which emanated from the forehead of Moshe Rabbeinu, or as is stated in Midrash concerning Pinchas, that during a state of Divine inspiration his face shone[11] like flames[12] of fire.[13]

164.  These five branches or conducts which emanate from Adam Kadmon may therefore be ordered as follows; The ninth millennium corresponds to the ears and hearing.  The eight millennium corresponds to the nose and smell.  The seventh millennium corresponds to the mouth and speech.  The name of 52-Ban which is World of Tohu and the conduct of Judgment, corresponds to the eyes and sight.  The name of 45-Mah which is the world of Tikkun and the conduct of Mercy, corresponds to the radiance[14] of the forehead.[15]

165.  We see from this that the temporal conducts which are branches of the eternal one of Adam Kadmon may therefore be categorized in this fashion:

a) Tenth Millennium – General name of 72 – General cantillations – Above comprehension

b) Ninth Millennium – Name of 72 of 63 first aspect – Upper cantillations of vowels – Hearing – Ears

c) Eight Millennium – Name of 72 of 63 second aspect  – Middle cantillation of vowels – Smell – Nose

d) Seventh Millennium – Name of 72 of 63 third aspect – Lower cantillation of vowels – Speech – Mouth

e) Judgment of this world – General Name of 52 – General Letters – Sight – Eyes

f) Superaddition of Tikkun to this world – General name of 45 – General crownlets – Radiance of the forehead.

166.  Gemara, Sanhedrin states[16] that in the seventh millennium the, “Holy One Blessed he He, will make wings for the Righteous”.  Though this will be a period of great spirituality, the world will not yet be renewed.

166b. This stage is called the World of Akudim – The Bundled World, in which the lights of all ten Sefirot are bundled together in only one vessel, comparable to a mouth[17]. The concept of the spreading forth and withdrawal of the lights, which is called “Going and not Going” (Mati V’Lo Mati – מטי ולא מטי), also applies to this level.

167.  However in regard to the remaining millennia (eighth, ninth and tenth) in which G_d renews his world, only lights exist and there is no concept of “vessels” whatsoever.

168.  The world of Tikkun is called, “The world of Streaks” (Olam HaBrudim).  Since the intended goal of creation is to achieve Olam Habba – The world of Akudim, conceptually, the order of these stages is Olam Akudim, Nekudim and Brudim.  However in order to bring this about, the order in time is reversed, so that the world of Tohu (Nekudim) precedes that of Tikkun (Brudim), which precedes and brings about    G_d’s ultimate intention in creation – Olam Habba (Akudim).  This is in keeping with the statement, “The first in thought is last in deed”[18].

169.  Adam Kadmon, which is the eternal conduct, also possesses ten sefirot.  Malchut of Adam Kadmon is considered to be a distinct partzuf – Stature and is called Atik – Ancient or Reisha D’Lo ItYada – The Unknowable Head.

170.  The fulfillment of every Mitzvah leaves an eternal impression and is established forever.  The culmination of all the Mitzvoth, will cause complete repair and absolute perfection – The Eternal Conduct.  Atik is the link between the temporal and the eternal.  It uplifts the deeds of this world and establishes them for eternity[19].

171.  Malchut of Adam Kadmon, i.e. Atik, is enclothed within the conduct of Keter (Arich Anpin).  Through this the absolute Chesed of Adam Kadmon becomes the inner, guiding force of Arich Anpin.  The seven lower sefirot of Atik become enclothed within Arich.

172.  As previously mentioned there are seven repairs of Keter of Keter, called Tikunei D’Gulgalta – the seven repairs of the skull.  These arise from the conduct of Atik through the enclothing of its seven lower sefirot within Arich.  As a result, Atik is enclothed within the whole of Atzilut[20].

173.  When considering the world of Atzilut in general, Atik and Arich are not differentiated from each other, but act together as aspects of Keter of Atzilut.  As such, they are called Atika Kadisha since, “He is called according to his deeds”, as mentioned above.  Early Kabbalistic literature refers to Adam Kadmon as Tzachtzechut – The Brilliant World.

174.  In so far as all the conducts of all the worlds are relative to this world, they have bounds and limitations. Even though G_d in His omnipotence could have created boundless worlds, He did not desire to do this, but rather, chose to set aside His infinite power within Creation and create finite worlds.

175.  As mentioned previously, G_d is called according to His actions, therefore when His conduct changes, His name changes accordingly. This is allegorically described as one name being withdrawn and replaced by another. Thus when G_d acts in a limitless fashion He is called Ayn Sof – The Infinite.  When it arose in His will to create limited worlds, it is allegorically considered that He withdrew His limitless conduct – Ayn Sof from that “Place” wherein those worlds were destined to be, thus giving them the possibility of existence. This is called Tzimtzum Ha’Ayn Sof, Boruch Hu – “The constriction of the limitless”.  This withdrawal of the infinite conduct, which is the ultimate goodness, resulted in a condition of severity – Din, proportional to the degree of its withdrawal[21].  However, the withdrawal was not absolute, but rather, a residue – Reshimu of G_d’s previous conduct remained.  G_d then drew into this residue – Reshimu a limited revelation of His goodness according to the capacity of the worlds to receive.  This revelation is the attribute of Mercy and is called Kav – a “Ray” or “Thread”.  All the conducts came about through this Ray[22].

176.  All the Divine conducts unfolded from this Ray in the following order;

1.  Adam Kadmon – The Eternal Conduct;

2.  His Branches – i.e.;

A.  AV – Skull & Hair

B.  SAG – Ears – Hearing, Nose – Smell, Mouth – Speaking (World of Akudim – Bundles)

C.  BAN – Eyes – Sight, The world of Tohu, The world of Points (Din – Judgment)

D.  MAH – Radiance of the Forehead, The world of Tikkun (The Joining of the conduct of mercy – MAH with Judgment – BAN.)

3. The world of Atzilut – Partzufim

A. Atik – Malchut of Adam Kadmon

B. Keter – Arich Anpin

1. The Seven Repairs of the Skull

2. The Thirteen Repairs of the Beard.

C. Chochmah – Abba

(Yisroel Saba – Malchut of Abba)

D. Binah – Ima

(Tevunah – Malchut of Ima)

E. Zeir Anpin – Chessed,

Gevurah,

Tiferet,

Netzach,

Hod,

Yesod,

1. Yisrael, 2. Yaakov

F. Nukvah – Malchut – 1. Rachel,  2. Leah

All of these levels are explained at length in Etz Chaim.

177.  The above mentioned levels refer to the world of Atzilut and higher.  Though enumerated here in a general way they are elaborated upon extensively in Etz Chaim.  Nonetheless, it must be clearly understood that all the writings of the ARI”ZAL are altogether allegorical[23].

178.  Concerning this Rabbi Chaim Vital wrote[24], “This is clear, that supernally there is neither body nor any attribute of corporeality[25], G_d forbid.  All these images and forms are not actual but are merely there to enable us to comprehend, so that man should have some understanding of these supernal, conceptual matters, which are beyond his intellectual scope. Therefore, permission was given to speak in such terms, though certainly, it is not thus, as scripture emphatically states[26], “Neither did you behold any image.”  This principle also applies to the form of the Hebrew letters, which also symbolize the supernal conducts.  Certainly, no letters or vowels actually exist supernally.  They are merely symbolic[27].

179.  As the RaM”CHaL states[28], “This is certain, that all these matters of form and corporeality which we mention in regard to the Sefirot, are not possible by any stretch of the imagination, for that would be a total denial of G_d’s unity, G_d forbid, as scripture explicitly states “You did not behold any images”.  Accordingly, the RaM”BaM explains[29] that the prophets received Divine communication through allegorical vision, such as the almond branch which Jeremiah beheld, that is, when G_d Blessed be He, desired to communicate Divine concepts to the prophets, He would do so through the prophetic vision, utilizing examples that would enable the mind of the prophet to grasp these concepts[30].  In no way did the object of the vision actually materialize.  It was merely a vehicle to convey the idea.  (Nonetheless not all allegories mentioned in Kabbalah are prophetic in origin.)

180.  These allegories, however, are not arbitrary, but reflect actual parallels between the Divine Conducts of Atzilut and the created realms which result from them.  To illustrate, the example of the concentric circles (Igulim), parallels the spherical nature of the heavens, signifying general providence, whereas the example of the upright sefirot (Yosher), parallels the nature of man, signifying individual providence.

180b. These allegories, therefore, arise from the fact that matters within man, the Universe, or the Torah result from and thus hint at the Divine conducts.  The Mitzvot too, correlate to Divine conducts, and as such, may be understood through these allegories.  Thus, it is evident that the allegories were Divinely inspired along with their inner underlying meanings.  However, caution must be taken when studying Etz Chaim, since, as in all the writings of the ARI”ZAL, only the allegory is conveyed without any explanation of its underlying meaning, as stated in Nefesh HaChaim, “As is known, all the words of the ARI”ZAL concerning the esoteric wisdom, are allegorical”[31].

181.  The RaM”CHaL in Choker U’Mekubal suggests that when studying Kabbalah one should first learn the allegory alone and only later attempt to fathom its meaning.  In Klach Pitchei Chochmah he refers to the allegory as “The prophetic vision”, and to the meaning as, “The interpretation”, since both were received by Divine inspiration.  The “interpretation” is found, in short, in his book Choker Umekubal and in some parts of Klach Pitchei Chochmah.  Nonetheless, it is incumbent upon the reader to discern between those parts that are the “vision” and those that are the “interpretation”.  If one wishes to learn the allegory directly from Etz Chaim, it is suggested that he first learn only those sections entitled Mahadura Tinyana (Second Edition) and skip the rest of the book. Afterwards, he may return and go over the book in its entirety.

However, Kabbalistic writings pertaining to the three lower worlds, Briyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, may not be entirely allegorical, for since they are created realms, actual conditions may be ascribed to them[32].



[1] GR’’A, Sifra D’Tzniuta, chap.1.

[2] Tehilim 92:1

[3] See Avoth D’Rabbi Nathan, chap.1. Also see Talmud Sanhedrin 92b and Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 49, Havchana 13.

[4] Talmud Sanhedrin 97b. The souls of the righteous will return to the world in such a way that the physical will express spirituality, rather than obstruct it, as it does now.

[5] Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 93.

[6] Pitchei Chochmah V’Da’at p.24.

[7] See Milchamot Moshe p.12. Also see GR’’A, Sifra D’Tznuiuta chap.5.

[8] See Pitchei Chochmah V’Da’at 4:24.

[9] See above #77.

[10] See above #160.

[11] Midrash, Vayikra Rabba 1:1.

[12] Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 31.

[13] The hair comes out from the skull, which is sealed, yet originates in the brain, though its connection with the brain is not physically apparent.

[14] Akk this is allegorical, as stated in Etz Chaim, Shaar Ozen Chotem Peh.

[15] Just as the radiance of the forehead is a supernatural occurrence and is not part of the essential nature of a human being, so too the influence of Mercy was superadded to the primary nature of the world, which is that of Judgment.

[16] Talmud Sanhedrin 92b.

[17] These lights emanate from the mouth of Adam Kadmon.

[18] See Milchamot Moshe, p. 12,73-74.

[19] See Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 97-99. Also see Petach 78-79 and 87.

[20] GR’’A on Etz Chaim, 87.

[21] Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 24 and 26.

[22] See Nefesh HaChaim, Shaar 3 and chap.7.

[23] See Nefesh HaChaim, Shaar 3, chap.7.

[24] Shaar HaHakdamot.

[25] See Rambam’s 13 principles of faith.

[26] Devarim 4:15

[27] Etz Chaim HaChadashim, Heichal Adam Kadmon, branch 3.

[28] Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 7.

[29] Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah, chap.7.

[30] See Klach Pitchei Chochmah, Petach 8 and 9. Also see Choker Umekubal and Da’at Tevunot p.35-36.

[31] See Nefesh HaChaim, Shaar 3, chap.7.

[32] Beginning with Gate One, where Mahadura Tinyana is indicated, until the end of that branch. Then skip to the beginning of The Gate of Tanta until where Mahadura Tinyanais indicated; from there skip to chapter 2. Skip chapter 3 to the Gate of Akudim etc. to the end of the book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*