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Chapter 3.4 - Fundamentals

It is written in the Book of the Zohar that all of the worlds, both Upper and lower, are found within man. Our entire reality was created for us alone. However, while we feel that we are inside reality, we do not feel that reality is inside us. Why is this world alone not sufficient for us? Do we need the other worlds, the Upper ones, and what they contain?

In order to understand this, we would need to learn the entire wisdom of Kabbalah. The reason this reality was created was the Creator's Will to benefit His creations. Therefore, the Creator made His creatures with a desire to receive that which the Creator wanted to give - and this desire is the creature's nature.

The Creator is Above and transcends space and time. His Thought works like an act itself. Therefore, when it came before His Will and Thought to make creatures and fill them with enjoyments, so it happened that instantly, all the worlds were created. These were filled with all the creatures and all were filled with the delights that they received from the Creator.

If so, then why did the Creator also create from His Essence all the worlds down to this world, and lower the creature down to our lower degree? The Ari (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria) answers this question in his book, Etz Chaim (The Tree of Life): "In order to reveal the perfection of His deeds."

However, the creation of the worlds and the descent of the creatures reveal instead the imperfection of the Works of the Creator! But the answer is: this was done in order that the creatures would perfect themselves, that they would reach the degree of the Creator on their own, which is the only perfection.

Hence, the Creator created the ladder of the worlds. Through this ladder souls descend unto the lowest rung, in which they are clothed in bodies (in desire to receive) of this world. By means of learning Kabbalah, the souls begin to ascend on that ladder until they all return to the Creator.

The Soul consists of Light and vessel. The Light of the soul comes from the Creator, from His Essence. The vessel of the soul; i.e., the desire to receive Light and benefit from Him, is created by means of this Light. Hence, the vessel is a perfect fit for the Light that comes to fill it. The essence of the soul is the vessel, because the Light is a portion of the Creator.

Consequently only the vessel is considered a creature. It is created out of nothing; that is to say, this will did not exist before the Creator decided to create it.

Since the Creator wanted to benefit His vessel in a complete manner, as is fit for Him, He created this extremely large vessel (that is to say this desire to receive), according to the greatness of the Light (enjoyment) that He wanted to give.

This Creation is an innovation that never existed before. It is called "Existence out of Absence". However, if the Creator is complete, how can there be anything that is not included in Him? According to what we have already said, it is clear that that which was not in the Creator prior to the Creation is the desire to receive.

The Creator cannot have a desire to receive because He is complete. But if He is complete, shouldn't He also have the desire to receive? The answer is no. If He had the desire to receive, that would mean that He wanted something He did not have; which would mean that He lacked something.

It is impossible to say that because He is complete, and hence lacks nothing. That which He needed to Create is only the desire to receive from Him, because He wants to give. Consequently, He only created the desire to receive, for everything else is already present in the Creator.

Connection in the spiritual realm occurs as a result of the equivalence of characteristics (desires or wills). Separation in the spiritual realm occurs as a result of a difference in characteristics (desires or wills). If two spiritual entities have one form, have the same desires (or wills), the same goal, then they are attached and are one, not two. The reason for this is that in the spiritual realm there are no bodies. The spiritual world is a world of ‘raw’ powers and desires that are not clothed in any sort of substance. But the "desire to receive for self" is called "substance" and "body."

Therefore, if all the desires of two spiritual entities are equal, then the entities are one. They are one because there is not a thing that separates them from one another. It is possible to distinguish that there are two, and not just one, if they are difference in form.

They are only separated from one another to the degree that there is a difference in form between them. If everything in one is equal to the other, then they are one. If everything in one is opposite to the other, then they are as far from one another as east from west. If among all the desires they have but one in common, then they touch one another via this common will. If their wills resemble each other's more or less, then according to the equivalence or change of form, they are close or far apart.

We have no conception of the Creator Himself. Therefore we cannot say even a single word about Him. But the actions that we experience from Him enable us to understand Him and name Him.

We learn from the wisdom of the Kabbalists that the Creator has only a will to bestow. (A Kabbalist is a Mekubal in Hebrew, from the word "receive," because they receive from the Creator). He created everything in order to bestow His Goodness upon us. Therefore, He created us with the desire to receive that which He wants to give to us. This desire to receive is our entire nature.

However, this causes us to end up being in an opposite form to the Creator’s. The reason is that He is totally and exclusively aimed at bestowing, and has no desire to receive. We, on the other hand, are made exclusively of the desire to receive for ourselves, as thus we were created by Him. But, if we remained only with this desire to receive for ourselves, we would remain forever distant from the Creator.

People who live in this world, and also live and experience the reality of the Upper Spiritual Realms, are called Kabbalists. We have the opportunity to hear about the Creator from them as they share what we ourselves have not yet experienced. And the Kabbalists tell us that the Creator is the Absolute Good, and created everything in order to give us good. The Kabbalists tell us further that the Creator is perfect and complete, and therefore His Actions as well are both perfect and complete.

But how is it possible that from a complete and perfect Worker an imperfect and incomplete work emerges to begin with? How is it that His works must still be mended? Creation is only the desire to receive, and from this aspect it is imperfect and incomplete, since this will is opposite to that of the Emanator. Hence, these desires are in a state of separation. However, it is specifically the desire to receive that makes it possible for the creature to carryout the Will of the Creator, to receive everything that the Creator wishes to give.

However, when the Creator gives and the creature receives from Him, they are separated. This is because the manner of their actions diverges. And if the creature would remain a receiver, then he would not be perfect and complete. Consequently, the Creator would also not be able to be called "perfect and complete" because from a perfect and complete worker come forth only perfect and complete works.

Therefore the Creator restricted His Light and created this world with restriction-by-restriction, until this world, the most darkened place, finally emerged. In this world the creature has the desire to receive for self alone. Therefore the Light in it is so slight that the Source of life is not even sensed.

However, by proper use of "Torah and Mitzvot" (this will be explained later), we can obtain the completeness and perfection that we have lacked since the time of Creation.

What is this completeness and perfection? It is that of obtaining equivalence of form with the Creator. That the creature, too, gives, like the Creator. And then the creature is worthy of receiving all of the good and the enjoyment included in the Thought of Creation. At this point, both creature and Creator are in a state of adhesion in equivalence of form, having identical desires and thoughts.

There is a Segula (a special property, a remedy) in the correct practice of "Torah and Mitzvot": a person receives a spiritual power that leads to an equalizing of wills with the Creator. However, this power will only be revealed in one who practices "Torah and Mitzvot" not to receive a personal reward, but to bestow contentment upon the Creator.

There are five degrees in the equivalence of form with the Creator: Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Haya, Yechida (NRNHY). He attains those five degrees from the five worlds – Adam Kadmon, Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya. Each degree has its own five inner degrees as well. Thus, there are in totality 125 degrees from this world to the top of the ladder.

By practicing Torah and Mitzvot in order to bring contentment to the Creator, a person slowly merits and attains (degree by degree) the vessels of the will to bestow. This way a person climbs these degrees one by one until reaching complete equivalence of form. Thus, the Thought of Creation is carried out in man, who will receive all the enjoyment and perfection that the Creator prepared for him. And man's greatest benefit is that he attains true adhesion by attaining the desire to bestow, as the Creator does.

See what is written: "All of the worlds, Upper and lower, and everything within them were not created but for man." All these degrees and worlds only serve to complete the will of man, in order to help him acquire equivalence of form with the Creator, which he lacks by nature of Creation.

In the beginning, successive worlds and degrees went through a progressive process of restrictions and developments, up until our own material world, in order come to a body of this world, which is a desire only to receive and not to bestow. At this degree, a man is like an animal or a beast, which is the complete desire to receive, denied of any bestowal. In such a state man is the complete opposite to the Creator, between whom there is no greater separation.

When we study Kabbalah, we invokes the Surrounding Light to shine upon him from afar. This Light is found outside our vessels (our will) and waits until we fix our vessel and shapes them into a form of bestowal upon the Creator, and then the Light enters it. Therefore, this Surrounding Light is called the Light of Neshama. When we learn Kabbalah, this Light clothes itself in our will and helps us attain the form of bestowal.

Man only attains this desire to bestow gradually, from below upward, by the same route the degrees descended during the time of development from Above downward. All the degrees are measures of desire to bestow. The higher the degree, the farther it is from the desire to receive, and closer to the desire to bestow.

A person gradually acquires all the degrees until reaching the point of merit to become “entirely for bestowal”, or not receiving anything for personal pleasure. Then a person has reached completion, with a true adhesion. This is the goal of Creation, and is the only reason for which man was created.

Once we know all this, we are permitted to study the wisdom of Kabbalah without any fear of anthropomorphism. This is because studying Kabbalah without proper guidance confuses the student. On the one hand, all the Sefirot and Partzufim (spiritual objects) from the world of Atzilut to the world of Assiya are complete Godliness and are united with the Creator.

Yet, how is it be possible that this should be of Godliness: that all of the worlds are innovations, coming after the restriction, that they have all different types of changes, numbers, above, below, ascents, descents, couplings?

From that aforesaid, it is clear that all of these changes - ascents, descents, restrictions, and numbers - are seen from the perspective of the souls that receive them.

Reality can be divided into two divisions: potential and actual. It is much like a man who builds a house. In his thought he already has a house. However, the "substance" of that house cannot be compared to the "substance" of once actually built. This is because in theory, the house is composed of a substance of thought, and is a potential house. Yet, when the house begins to turn from thought to action, it takes on a different substance - that of trees and stones.

Thus, it is possible to distinguish potential and actual in the souls as well: the emanating of the souls from the Creator actually begins only at the world of Beria. All the changes that occur before the world of Beria are considered potential, without any tangible distinction from the Creator.

It is said that all the souls are already included in Malchut of Ein Sof (infinite), in the middle point of the entire existence. This is because this point in a state of potentiality includes the vessels of the souls, which are to emerge in "fact" from the world of Beria and under. The First Restriction was made in the middle point only in the aspect of "potential" with respect to the future souls.

All the vessels and the worlds from the First Restriction up, until the world of Beria, emerged and developed from the middle point, and they are only "potential" worlds, with respect to the souls. Only when souls begin to emerge in fact, from the world of Beria and under, the changes in the degrees of these worlds begin to influence them.

It is much like a person who hides under clothes and concealments, in order to not be seen or sensed. The person certainly remains changed. Similarly, the ten Sefirot (Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut) are only ten concealments, inside which the Ein Sof conceals and hides itself from the souls.

The Light of Ein Sof is in a state of absolute rest, and so it is when it shines from within the concealments. However, since the souls receive the Light of Ein Sof through the concealments, they feel as if changes occur in the Light. Therefore the souls that receive the Light are divided into ten degrees, in accordance with the divisions in the concealments.

All these concealments are only from the world of Beria and below, because only there do the souls that receive from the ten Sefirot via the concealments exist. In the worlds of Adam Kadmon and Atzilut, the souls do not yet exist, because there they are only in "potential".

The ten concealments in the ten Sefirot rule only in the worlds of Beria, Yetzira and Assiya. Nevertheless, the ten Sefirot are considered to be Godliness just like before the First Restriction.

The only difference in the vessels of the ten Sefirot is that in the worlds of Adam Kadmon and Atzilut, they are potential vessels, whereas from BYA (Beria, Yetzira, Assiya) the vessels of the ten Sefirot begin to manifest their covering power and concealment. However, the Light in them remains unchanged as a result of the concealments.

If in the worlds of Adam Kadmon and Atzilut the souls (who are the receivers) are not revealed yet, then what is the purpose of these vessels of Adam Kadmon and Atzilut, and from whom are they hiding and conceal themselves? The answer is that in the future, when the worlds of BYA, together with the souls in them, ascend there, then they will receive according to the degree of the ten Sefirot that are in Atzilut, or Adam Kadmon.

As we have mentioned above, the worlds, the innovations, the changes, and the degrees, all refer only to the vessels. These bestow to the souls and measure out to them, so that they might receive from the Light of the Ein Sof.

However, when the souls ascend in the degrees, they do not make any changes in the Light of Ein Sof itself, because all the concealments do not affect the one who is concealed, but only the one who wants to perceive the one who is concealed, and receive from it.

One can distinguish three aspects in the Sefirot and Partzufim (spiritual objects) wherever they are found: the Creator's Essence, vessels, and Lights. The receivers have no thought and perception of the Essence of the Creator.

There are always two contradictory aspects in the vessels: concealment and disclosure. In the beginning, the vessel hides the Essence of the Creator so that the ten vessels in the ten Sefirot are ten degrees of concealment. However, after the souls receive these vessels with all the conditions in them, these concealments are changed into revelations for the attainment of the souls.

These two contradictory aspects in the vessel become as one, because the measure of revelation in the vessel precisely matches the amount of concealment in the vessel. The coarser the vessel, the more it conceals His Essence and reveals the larger stature of the Creator.

The Lights in the Sefirot are the same stature, worthy of appearing for the attainment of the souls. While everything extends from the Creator's Essence, the reception of the Light is nonetheless only according to the characteristics of the vessel. Therefore, there must be ten Lights and ten vessels, that is to say, ten degrees of revelation to the receivers, according to the characteristics of those vessels.

Thus, there cannot be a difference between the Light and the Creator's Essence, but only in what reaches us from the Creator, through its clothing in the vessels of the ten Sefirot. Therefore anything attained we name “Light."

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