You are here: Kabbalah Library Home / Michael Laitman / Books / Basic Concepts in Kabbalah / Chapter 9. From the Preface to the Zohar
Michael Laitman, PhD

Chapter 9. From the Preface to the Zohar

The Book of Zohar was concealed from the uninitiated from the day of its creation. Now, the conditions have ripened for its disclosure to the public. To make The Zohar accessible to every reader, we must precede it with some explanations.

First, it should be noted that everything described in The Zohar is an order of ten Sefirot: Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut, and their combinations. In the same way express any thought with a limited number of letters in the alphabet, so are the combinations of the ten Sefirot sufficient to describe every spiritual action or object.

However, there are three clear boundaries one should always keep in mind, connected to the four levels of perception (or attainment) in our world: Matter, Form in Matter, Abstract Form, and Essence. These four levels of attainment also exist in the ten Sefirot.

The first boundary: The Zohar researches only Matter and Form in Matter, but it in no way concerns itself with Abstract Form and Essence.

The second boundary: All that was created consists of three levels:

  1. The world Ein Sof (Infinity);

  2. The world Atzilut;

  3. The worlds Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya (BYA).

The Zohar studies only the three last worlds BYA. It does not study the worlds Ein Sof and Atzilut in and of themselves, but only what the worlds BYA receive from Atzilut and Ein Sof.

The third boundary: Each of the worlds BYA consists of three levels:

The Book of Zohar studies human souls, whereas all other objects are analyzed only with respect to human souls. It is worth noting that all mistakes, inaccuracies, and delusions are the results of transcending these three boundaries.

The following Sefirot correspond to the four reviewed worlds – Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, Assiya (ABYA):

All that exists above the world Atzilut refers to Sefirat Keter.

However, each of the above worlds is also divided into ten Sefirot. Even the most infinitesimal object in any of the worlds is divided into (or consists of) ten Sefirot.

The Zohar ascribes a specific color to each Sefira (drawing 2):

Drawing 2

Although the Light that fills the Sefirot is colorless, receivers see it with its corresponding hue. Thus, in all five worlds (from Ein Sof to our world), the Light that emanates from the Creator is an absolutely colorless, imperceptible substance. Only after it traverses the worlds and Sefirot as if through color filters do we perceive it as having a certain color and intensity, depending on the level of the soul that receives the Light.

For example, the world Atzilut passes the Light without coloring it at all because this world has similar properties to those of the Light. This is why the color of the Light in the world Atzilut is defined as white. The properties of other worlds differ from the properties of the Light; hence, each of them affects it depending on its spiritual closeness to the Light.

If we compare the white Light to paper, then the message written on it presents the information, and its color stands out against the white background. In the same way, by perceiving red, green, and black, we are able to perceive Light.

The world Atzilut (Sefirat Hochma) is the white background of the book, thus we are unable to conceive it. However, Bina (the world Beria), Tifferet (Yetzira), and Malchut (Assiya) that respectively correspond to red, green, and black, provide us with information based on their combinations, interactions, and reactions to the Light passing from the world Atzilut to our world.

Thus, it is as if the worlds Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya form concentric coverings of the world Atzilut. Now let us look into four kinds of the object’s attainment – Matter, Form in Matter, Abstract Form, and Essence.

Suppose the object is a deceitful person:

We cannot imagine the Essence per se with our sense organs, even when supplemented by any fantasy. We can attain only the actions and reactions to the surrounding reality, and the various interactions with the Essence. For instance, when we examine an object, the eye perceives not the object itself, but its interaction with the light, or rather the light’s interaction with the eye. Our auditory sense perceives not the sound, but the interaction of the wave with our auditory sense. Our gustatory sense perceives not the object itself, but the interaction of saliva, nerve tips, and glands with an object.

All our sensations reveal only the interactions of the Essence’s reactions, not the Essence itself. Even our tactile sense, which provides us with information of an object’s hardness and temperature, does not reveal the object itself, but enables us to judge it based solely on our reaction to touching and sensing it.

Thus, the maximum attainment of the world lies in researching how the Essence influences us. However, since even in our wildest fantasies we cannot imagine the Essence without having felt it at least once, we lack the mental image and the desire to research it.

Moreover, we cannot even know ourselves, our own Essence. Perceiving myself as an object that occupies a place, a form, temperature, and ability to think, I perceive the results of my Essence’s actions, not the Essence itself. We receive the most complete idea in our world with the first kind of attainment – Matter. This information is quite sufficient for our existence and interaction with the surrounding world.

We receive the second kind of attainment, Form in Matter, after researching the surrounding nature using our senses. The evolution of this kind of attainment has led to the creation of science, on which we so deeply rely in every situation in life. This level of attainment of the world is also quite sufficient for humans.

The third kind of attainment, Abstract Form, would have been possible if we could observe this form while detached from matter, rather than while dressed in matter. However, a form can be separated from matter only in imagination (for example, deceitfulness as an abstract notion that is disconnected from a person).

Yet, as a rule, researching a form that is disconnected from matter, in its abstract form, yields no reliable results, and is not confirmed de facto. This is even truer when researching forms that have never been dressed in matter!

Thus, we see that of the four kinds of attainment of an object, its Essence is totally imperceptible, and its Abstract Form is attained incorrectly. Only matter and its form, when analyzed in conjunction with matter, yield true and sufficient data about the researched object.

In the spiritual worlds BYA every object is attained only in its matter and form. Colors (red, green, and black) in these worlds constitute matter, and we attain them atop the white background of the world Atzilut. Readers studying The Zohar should remember the necessity to restrict themselves to the two types of research available to us.

As previously mentioned, all the Sefirot are subdivided into four levels of attainment. Thus, Sefirat Hochma constitutes the Form, and Bina, Tifferet, and Malchut constitute the Matter dressed in the Form.

Only Sefirot Bina, Tifferet, and Malchut are examined in The Zohar. The book does not concern itself with examining the form abstracted from matter, let alone with the Essence – the Creator’s part (Ein Sof) that animates every part of Creation.

Sefirot Bina, Tifferet, and Malchut in the world Atzilut are available for our research, whereas Sefirot Keter and Hochma, even at the end of the world Assiya are unavailable to us.

All that exists in each world is divided into four levels: Inanimate, Vegetative, Animate, and Human. These correspond to four levels of desire. Similarly, every object consists of these four sub-levels of desire:

Thus, we find that we receive the first kind of desire – for necessities and for animate pleasures – from a level inferior to our own. We satisfy the desires for wealth, power, and honor through other people. The desires for education and knowledge are met through higher objects.

All the spiritual worlds resemble one another, differing only in their levels. In this way, the inanimate, vegetative, animate, and human levels in the world Beria project themselves onto the corresponding inanimate, vegetative, animate, and human levels in the world Yetzira. In their own turn, these levels of the world Yetzira become imprinted in the corresponding levels of the world Assiya and so on down to our world.

The ten Sefirot in each world are considered the Creator’s parts in it. The human souls in each world are its center and receive their sustenance from the other levels.

Those studying The Zohar should constantly bear in mind that all objects are viewed only with regard to their interaction in a given world. All research boils down to the study of the human soul and what comes into contact with it.

Since The Zohar studies only souls that are clothed in bodies of this world, Ein Sof is also studied only in that respect. In other words, the book researches the influence, program, and desire of Ein Sof with regard to us, but not with regard to any other objects in other worlds.

The entire program of Creation from beginning to end is included in Ein Sof, and the worlds Beria, Yetzira, Assiya, as well as our world, constitute the actual implementation of this program.

Therefore, all actions in all the worlds are consequences of the execution of the program that was rooted in Ein Sof, and from there they descend to the world Atzilut and break into distinct sub-programs. They come down in a certain order through the worlds to our world in the form of general governance and individual governance.

Human souls originate in the world Beria. This is why, starting with this world, one can research their dependency and connection to Ein Sof. The ten Sefirot in each world of the worlds BYA accordingly receive the program, method, and time allotted for the implementation of each of its parts from the ten Sefirot of the world Atzilut.

Since in the world Atzilut, the plan of Creation exists as a program, the Light of Ein Sof that passes through Atzilut remains uncolored. All the information we obtain is based on the endless transformations of Light, which reveal the colors of Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya to us.

Back to top
Site location tree