The Thought of Creation and the Four Phases of Direct Light
1) Rabbi Hanania Son of Akashia says, “The Creator wished to cleanse Israel; hence, He has given them plentiful Torah and Mitzvot (commandments), as it is written, ‘The Lord was pleased, for His righteousness' sake, to make the teaching great and glorious’” (Makot, 23b). It is known that “cleansing” is derived from the (Hebrew) word, “purifying.” It is as our sages said, “The Mitzvot were only given for the purification of Israel” (Beresheet Rabba, Parasha 44). We must understand this cleansing, which we achieve through Torah and Mitzvot, and what is the Aviut (thickness/coarseness/will to receive) within us, which we should cleanse using Torah and Mitzvot.
Since we have already discussed it in my book, Panim Masbirot, and in The Study of the Ten Sefirot, I shall briefly reiterate that the Thought of Creation was to delight the creatures, in accordance with His abundant generosity. For this reason, a great desire and craving to receive His abundance was imprinted in the souls.
This is so because the will to receive is the Kli (vessel) for the measure of pleasure in the abundance, since the measure and strength of the will to receive the abundance precisely corresponds to the measure of pleasure and delight in the abundance. And they are so connected that they are indivisible, except in what they relate to: the pleasure is related to the abundance, and the great desire to receive the abundance is related to the receiving creature.
These two necessarily extend from the Creator, and necessarily came in the Thought of Creation. However, they should be divided in the above-mentioned manner: the abundance comes from His Essence, extending existence from existence, and the will to receive included there is the root of the creatures. This means that it is the root of initiation, that is, emergence existence from absence, since there is certainly no form of will to receive in His Essence.
Hence, it is considered that the above-mentioned will to receive is the whole substance of Creation from beginning to end. Thus, all the creatures, all their innumerable instances and conducts that have appeared and that will appear, are but measures and various denominations of the will to receive. All that exists in those creatures, that is, all that is received in the will to receive imprinted in them, extends from His Essence existence from existence. It is not at all a new creation, since it is not new at all. Rather, it extends from His Endlessness existence from existence.
2) As we have said, the will to receive is innately included in the Thought of Creation with all its denominations, along with the great abundance He had planned to delight them and impart to them. And know that these are the Ohr (Light) and Kli that we discern in the Upper Worlds. They necessarily come tied together and cascade together degree by degree. And the extent to which the degrees descend from the Light of His Face and depart from Him is the extent of the materialization of the will to receive contained in the abundance.
We could also state the opposite: to the extent that the will to receive in the abundance materializes, it descends degree by degree to the lowest of all places, where the will to receive is fully materialized. This place is called “the world of Assiya,” the will to receive is considered “man’s body,” and the abundance one receives is considered the measure of “vitality in that body.”
It is similar in other creatures in this world. Thus, the only difference between the Upper Worlds and this world is that as long as the will to receive included in His Abundance has not fully materialized, it is regarded as being in the spiritual worlds, Above this world. And once the will to receive has fully materialized, it is regarded as being in this world.
3) The above-mentioned order of cascading, which brings the will to receive to its final form in this world, follows a sequence of four discernments that exist in the four-letter-name, HaVaYaH. This is because the four letters, HaVaYaH (Yod, Hey, Vav, Hey), in His Name contain the whole of reality, without any exception.
In general, they are described in the ten Sefirot, Hochma, Bina, Tifferet, Malchut, and their Shoresh (Root). They are ten Sefirot because the Sefira Tifferet contains six internal Sefirot, called HGTNHY (Hesed–Gevura–Tifferet Netzah–Hod–Yesod), and the Root, called Keter. Yet, in essence, they are called HB TM (Hochma-Bina Tifferet-Malchut).
And they are four worlds, called Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya. The world of Assiya contains this world within it. Thus, there is not a creature in this world, which is not initiated in the world of Ein Sof, in the Thought of Creation to delight His creatures. Hence, it is innately comprised of Light and Kli, meaning a certain measure of abundance with the will to receive that abundance.
The measure of abundance extends existence from existence from His Essence, and the will to receive the abundance is initiated existence from absence.
But for that will to receive to acquire its final quality, it must cascade along with the abundance within it through the four worlds — Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, and Assiya. This completes the Creation with Light and Kli, called Guf (body), and the “Light of life” within it.
4) The reason why the will to receive must cascade by the four above-mentioned discernments in ABYA (Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, Assiya) is that there is a great rule concerning the Kelim (plural for Kli): the expansion of the Light and its departure make the Kli fit for its task. This means that as long as the Kli has not been separated from its Light, it is included in the Light and is annulled within it like a candle in a torch.
This annulment is because they are completely opposite from one another, on opposite ends. This is so because the Light extends from His Essence existence from existence. From the perspective of the Thought of Creation in Ein Sof, it is all towards bestowal and there is no trace of will to receive in it. Its opposite is the Kli, the great will to receive that abundance, which is the root of the initiated creature, in which there is no bestowal whatsoever.
Hence, when they are bound together, the will to receive is annulled in the Light within it, and can determine its form only once the Light has departed thence once. This is so because following the departure of the Light from it, it begins to crave it, and this craving properly determines and sets the shape of the will to receive. Subsequently, when the Light dresses in it once more, it is regarded as two separate matters: Kli and Light, or Guf and Life. Observe closely, for this is most profound.
5) Hence, the four discernments in the name HaVaYaH, called Hochma, Bina, Tifferet, and Malchut, are required. Behina Aleph (Phase One), called Hochma, is indeed the whole of the emanated being, Light and Kli. In it is the great will to receive with all the Light included in it, called Ohr Hochma (Light of Wisdom) or Ohr Haya (Light of Haya), as it is all the Hayim (life) in the emanated being, dressed in its Kli. However, this Behina Aleph is considered all Light and the Kli in it is barely noticeable, as it is mingled with the Light and annulled in it as a candle in a torch.
Following it comes Behina Bet (Phase Two), since at its end, the Kli of Hochma prevails in equivalence of form with the Upper Light in it. This means that a desire to bestow upon the Emanator appears in it, according to the nature of the Light within it—entirely to bestow.
Then, using this desire, which has awakened in it, a new Light extends to it from the Emanator, called Ohr Hassadim (Light of Mercy). As a result, it becomes almost entirely separated from the Ohr Hochma that the Emanator imprinted in it, since Ohr Hochma can only be received in its own Kli—a desire to receive that has grown to its fullest measure.
Thus, the Light and Kli in Behina Bet are utterly different from those in Behina Aleph, since the Kli in it is the desire to bestow. The Light within it is considered Ohr Hassadim, a Light that stems from the Dvekut (adhesion) of the emanated in the Emanator, as the desire to bestow induces its equivalence of form with the Emanator, and in spirituality equivalence of form is Dvekut.
Next follows Behina Gimel (Phase Three). Once the Light had diminished in the emanated being into Ohr Hassadim without any Hochma, while it is known that Ohr Hochma is the essence of the emanated being, hence, at the end of Behina Bet, it awakened and drew within it a measure of Ohr Hochma, to shine within its Ohr Hassadim. This awakening re-extended a certain measure of the will to receive, which forms a new Kli called Behina Gimel or Tifferet. And the Light in it is called “Light of Hassadim in illumination of Hochma,” since the majority of that Light is Ohr Hassadim, and its lesser part is Ohr Hochma.
Following it came Behina Dalet (Phase Four), since the Kli of Behina Gimel, too, awakened at its end to draw the complete Ohr Hochma, as it occurred in Behina Aleph. Thus, this awakening is considered “craving” in the measure of the will to receive in Behina Aleph, and exceeding it, since now it has already been separated from that Light, as the Light of Hochma is no longer clothed in it, but craves it. Thus, the form of the will to receive has been fully determined, since the Kli is determined following the expansion of the Light and its departure from there. Later, when it returns, it will receive the Light once more. It turns out that the Kli precedes the Light, and this is why this Behina Dalet is considered the completion of the Kli, and it is called Malchut (Kingship).
6) These four above discernments are the ten Sefirot, discerned in each emanation and each creature, in the whole, which are the four worlds, and even in the smallest part in reality. Behina Aleph is called Hochma or “the world of Atzilut”; Behina Bet is called Bina or “the world of Beria”; Behina Gimel is called Tifferet or “the world of Yetzira”; and Behina Dalet is called Malchut or “the world of Assiya.”
Let us explain the four discernments applied in each soul. When the soul exits from Ein Sof and comes into the world of Atzilut, it is Behina Aleph of the soul. Yet, there, it is still not discerned by that name, since the name Neshama (soul) implies that there is some difference between her  and the Emanator, and that through that difference, she departed Ein Sof and has been revealed as its own authority.
But as long as it does not have a form of a Kli, there is nothing to distinguish it from His Essence, to merit her own name. You already know that Behina Aleph of the Kli is not considered a Kli at all, and is entirely annulled in the Light. And this is the meaning of what is said about the world of Atzilut, that it is complete Godliness, as in “He, His Life, and His Self are One.” Even the souls of all living creatures, while traversing the world of Atzilut, are still considered attached to His Essence.
7) This above-mentioned Behina Bet rules in the world of Beria—the Kli of the desire to bestow. Hence, when the soul cascades into the world of Beria and achieves the Kli that exists there, it is considered a Neshama (soul). This means that it has already separated from His Essence and merits its own name — Neshama. Yet, this is a very pure and fine Kli, as it is in equivalence of form with the Emanator. For this reason, it is considered complete spirituality.
8) The above-mentioned Behina Gimel rules in the world of Yetzira, containing a little bit of the form of the will to receive. Hence, when the soul cascades into the world of Yetzira and achieves that Kli, it exits the spirituality of the Neshama and is then called Ruach. This is because here its Kli is already mingled with some Aviut, meaning the little bit of will to receive within it. Yet, it is still considered spiritual because this measure of Aviut is insufficient to completely separate it from His Essence and merit the name, “body,” which stands in its own right.
9) Behina Dalet rules in the world of Assiya, which is the complete Kli of the great will to receive. Hence, it obtains a completely separated and distinguished body from His Essence, which stands in its own right. The Light in it is called Nefesh (from the Hebrew word ‘rest’), indicating that the Light is motionless in and of itself. You should know that there is not a single element in reality that is not comprised of the whole ABYA.
10) Thus, you find that this Nefesh, the Light of Life that is dressed in the body, extends from His Very Essence, existence from existence. As it traverses the four worlds ABYA, it becomes increasingly distant from the Light of His Face, until it comes into its designated Kli, called Guf (body). This is considered that the Kli has completed its desirable form.
And even if the Light in it has so diminished that its origin becomes undetectable, through engagement in Torah and Mitzvot in order to bestow contentment upon the Maker, one purifies one’s Kli, called Guf, until it becomes worthy of receiving the great abundance in the full measure included in the Thought of Creation, when He created it. This is what Rabbi Hanania meant by “The Creator wished to cleanse Israel; hence, He has given them plentiful Torah and Mitzvot.”
11) Now you can understand the real difference between spirituality and corporeality: anything that contains a complete desire to receive, in all its aspects, which is Behina Dalet, is considered “corporeal.” This is what exists in all the elements of reality before us in this world. Conversely, anything above this great measure of desire to receive is considered “spirituality.” These are the worlds ABYA—Above this world—and the whole reality within them.
Now you can see that the whole issue of ascents and descents described in the Upper Worlds does not relate to an imaginary place, but only to the four discernments in the will to receive. The farther it is from Behina Dalet, the Higher it is considered to be. And conversely, the closer it is to Behina Dalet, the lower it is considered to be.
12) We should understand that the essence of the creature, and of Creation as a whole, is only the will to receive. Anything beyond it is not part of Creation, but extends from His Essence by way of existence from existence. Thus, why do we discern this will to receive as Aviut (thickness) and turbidity, and we are commanded to cleanse it through Torah and Mitzvot, to the point that without it we will not achieve the sublime goal of the Thought of Creation?
13) The thing is that as corporeal objects are separated from one another by remoteness of location, spirituals are separated from each other by the disparity of form between them. This can be found in our world, too. For example, when two people share similar views, they like each other and the remoteness of location does not cause them to draw far from one another.
Conversely, when their views are far, they are hateful of each other, and proximity of location will not bring them any closer. Thus, the disparity of form in their views removes them from each other, and the proximity of form in their views brings them closer to each other. If, for example, one’s nature is the complete opposite of another’s, they are as far from one another as the east from the west.
Similarly, all matters of nearness and remoteness, coupling and unity that unfold in spirituality are but measures of disparity of form. They depart from one another according to their measure of disparity of form, and become attached to one another according to their measure of equivalence of form.
Yet, you should understand that although the will to receive is a mandatory law in the creature, as it is the essence of the creature and the proper Kli for reception of the goal of the Thought of Creation, it nonetheless completely separates it from the Emanator. This is so because there is disparity of form to the point of oppositeness between itself and the Emanator. This is because the Emanator is complete bestowal without a shred of reception, and the creature is complete reception without a shred of bestowal. Thus, there is no greater oppositeness of form than that. It therefore follows that this oppositeness of form necessarily separates it from the Emanator.
14) To save the creatures from this titanic separation, the Tzimtzum Aleph (First Restriction) took place. It essentially separated Behina Dalet from the rest of the Partzufim (faces/countenances) of Kedusha (holiness) in such a way that that great measure of reception remained an empty void, a space devoid of Light.
This is so because all the Partzufim of Kedusha emerged with a Masach (screen) erected in their Kli Malchut so they would not receive in this Behina Dalet. Then, when the Upper Light was extended and spread to the emanated being, this Masach rejected it. This is regarded as striking between the Upper Light and the Masach, which raises Ohr Hozer (Reflected Light) from below Upwards, clothing the ten Sefirot of the Upper Light.
That part of the Light that is rejected and pushed back is called Ohr Hozer (Reflected Light). As it dresses the Upper Light, it becomes a Kli for reception of the Upper Light instead of Behina Dalet, since afterwards the Kli of Malchut had expanded by the measure of Ohr Hozer—the rejected Light—which rose and dressed the Upper Light from below Upwards, and expanded from Above downwards, too. Thus, the Lights were clothed in the Kelim (plural for Kli), within that Ohr Hozer.
This is the meaning of the Rosh (head) and Guf (body) in each degree. The Zivug de Hakaa (coupling of striking) from the Upper Light in the Masach raises Ohr Hozer from below Upwards and dresses the ten Sefirot of the Upper Light in the form of ten Sefirot de (of) Rosh, meaning the roots of Kelim (vessels). This is because there cannot be actual clothing there.
Subsequently, when Malchut expands with that Ohr Hozer, from Above downwards, the Ohr Hozer ends and becomes Kelim for the Upper Light. At that time, there is clothing of the Lights in the Kelim, and this is called the Guf of that degree, that is, complete Kelim.
15) Thus, new Kelim were made in the Partzufim of Kedusha instead of Behina Dalet after Tzimtzum Aleph (first restriction). They were made of the Ohr Hozer of the Zivug de Hakaa in the Masach.
Indeed, we should understand this Ohr Hozer and how it became a vessel of reception, since initially it was but a rejected Light. Thus, it is now serving in an opposite role from its own essence.
I shall explain that with an allegory from life. Man’s nature is to cherish and favor the quality of bestowal, and to despise and loathe reception from one’s friend. Hence, when one comes to one’s friend and he (the host) invites him for a meal, he (the guest) will decline, even if he is very hungry, since in his eyes it is humiliating to receive a gift from his friend.
Yet, when his friend sufficiently implores him until it is clear that by eating he would do a big favor to his friend, he consents to eat, as he no longer feels that he is receiving a gift and that his friend is the giver. On the contrary, he (the guest) is the giver, who is doing his friend a favor by receiving this good from him.
Thus, you find that although hunger and appetite are vessels of reception designated to eating, and that that person had sufficient hunger and appetite to receive his friend’s meal, he still could not taste a thing, due to the shame. Yet, as his friend implored him and he rejected him, new vessels for eating began to form within him, since the power of his friend’s pleading and the power of his own rejections, as they accumulate, finally accumulate into a sufficient amount that turns the measure of reception into a measure of bestowal.
In the end, he can see that by eating, he will be doing a big favor and bring great contentment to his friend by eating. In that state, new vessels of reception to receive his friend’s meal were made within him. Now it is considered that the power of his rejection has become the essential vessel in which to receive the meal, and not the hunger and appetite, although they are actually the usual vessels of reception.
16) From the above allegory between two friends, we can understand the matter of Zivug de Hakaa and the Ohr Hozer that rises through it, which then becomes new vessels of reception for the Upper Light instead of Behina Dalet. We can compare the Upper Light, which strikes the Masach and wants to expand into Behina Dalet, to the pleading to eat, because as he yearns for his friend to receive his meal, the Upper Light desires to spread to the receiver. And the Masach, which strikes the Light and repels it, can be resembled to the friend’s rejection and refusal to receive the meal, since he rejects his favor.
And just as you find here that it is precisely the rejection and refusal that became the proper vessels to receive his friend’s meal, you can imagine that the Ohr Hozer, which rises by the striking of the Masach and the rejection of the Upper Light, becomes the new vessel of reception for the Upper Light, instead of Behina Dalet, which served as the vessel of reception prior to the first restriction.
However, this was placed only in the Partzufim (plural for Partzuf) of Kedusha (holiness) of ABYA, not in the Partzufim of the Klipot (shells), and in this world, where Behina Dalet herself is considered the vessel of reception. Hence, they are separated from the Upper Light, since the disparity of form in Behina Dalet separates them. For this reason, the Klipot are considered wicked and dead, as they are separated from the Life of Lives by the will to receive within them.
 Translator’s note: in Hebrew, a Neshama is considered female. In general, every object and being receives a specific gender, though in Kabbalah, each term (Partzuf, world, etc.) may change its gender according to its functionality at that time: active/giving is male, and passive/receiving is female.