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Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)

Talmud Eser Sefirot, Part One, Histaklut Pnimit [32]

First, you must know that when dealing with spiritual matters that have no concern with time, space and motion, and moreover when dealing with Godliness, we do not have the words by which to express and contemplate. Our entire vocabulary is taken from sensations of imaginary senses. Thus, how can they assist us where sense and imagination do not reign?

For example, if you take the subtlest of words, namely “lights,” it nonetheless resembles and borrows from the light of the sun, or an emotional light of satisfaction. Thus, how can they be used to express Godly matters? They would certainly fail to provide the reader with anything true.

It is even truer in a place where these words should disclose the negotiations in the wisdom in print, as is done in any research of wisdom. If we fail with even a single inadequate word, the reader will be instantly disoriented and will not find his hands and legs in this whole matter.

For that reason, the sages of the Kabbalah have chosen a special language, which we can call “the language of the branches.” There is not an essence or a conduct of an essence in this world that does not begin in its root in the Upper World. Moreover, the beginning of every being in this world starts from the Upper World and then hangs down to this world.

Thus, the sages have found an adequate language without trouble by which they could convey their attainments to each other by word of mouth and in writing from generation to generation. They have taken the names of the branches in this world, where each name is self-explanatory, as though pointing to its Upper Root in the system of the Upper Worlds.

That should appease your mind regarding the perplexing expressions we often find in books of Kabbalah, and some that are even foreign to the human spirit. It is because once they have chosen this language to express themselves, namely the language of the branches, they could no longer leave a branch unused because of its inferior degree. They could not avoid using it to express the desired concept when our world suggests no other branch to be taken in its place.

Just as two hairs do not feed off the same foramen, we do not have two branches that relate to the same root. It is also impossible to exterminate the object in the wisdom that is related to that inferior expression. Such a loss would inflict impairment and confusion in the entire realm of the wisdom, since there is no other wisdom in the world where matters are so intermingled by cause and effect, reason and consequence as in the wisdom of Kabbalah. Matters are interconnected and tied to each other from top to bottom like one long chain.

Thus, there is no freedom of will here to switch and replace the bad names with better ones. We must always provide the exact branch that points to its Upper Root, and elaborate on it until the accurate definition is provided for the scrutinizing reader.

Indeed, those whose eyes have not been opened to the sights of Heaven, and have not acquired the proficiency in the connections of the branches of this world with their roots in the Upper Worlds are like the blind scraping the walls. They will not understand the true meaning of even a single word, for each word is a name of a branch that relates to its root.

Only if they receive an interpretation from a genuine sage who makes himself available to explain it in the spoken language, which is necessarily like translating from one language to another, from the language of branches to the spoken language. Only then will he be able to explain the spiritual term as it is.

This is what I have troubled to do in this interpretation, to explain the ten Sefirot as the Godly sage the Ari had instructed us, in their spiritual purity, devoid of any tangible terms. Thus, any beginner may approach the wisdom without failing in any materialization and mistake. With the understanding of these ten Sefirot, one will also come to examine and know how to comprehend the other issues in this wisdom.

Chapter One

“Know that before the emanations were emanated and the creatures created, an Upper Simple Light had filled the whole of reality” (The Tree of Life). These words require explanation: How was there a reality that the Simple Lighthad filled before the worlds were emanated? Also, the issue of the appearance of the desireto be restricted in order to bring the perfection of His deeds to light. It is implied in the book that there was already some want there.

Also, the issue of the middle point in Him, where the restriction occurred, is quite perplexing, for he had already said that there is neither start nor end there, so how is there a middle? Indeed these words are deeper than the ocean, and I must therefore elaborate on their interpretation.

There is not one thing in the whole of reality that is not contained in Ein Sof. The contradicting terms in our world are contained in Him in the form of One, Unique, and Unified.

1) Know that there is not an essence of a single being in the world, both the ones perceived by our senses and the ones perceived by our mind’s eye, that is not included in the Creator, for they all come to us from Him, and can one give that which is not in Him?

We must understand the concepts that are separated or opposite for us. For example, the term, “wisdom,” is regarded as different from the term, “sweetness,” as wisdom and sweetness are two separate terms. Similarly, the term, “operator,” certainly differs from the term, “operation.” The operator and its operation are necessarily two separate concepts. It is even more so with opposite terms such as “sweet” and “bitter”; these are certainly examined separately.

However, in Him, wisdom, pleasure, sweetness and pungency, operation and operator, and other such different and opposite forms are all contained as one in His Simple Light. There are no differentiations among them whatsoever, as is the term “One, Unique, and Unified.”

“One” indicates a single evenness. “Unique” implies that everything that extends from Him, all these multiplicities are in Him as single as His Essence. “Unified” shows that although He performs many operations, there is one Force that performs all these, and they all return and unite in the form of One. Indeed, this one form swallows all the forms that appear in His Operations.

This is a very subtle matter and not every mind can tolerate it. The Ramban had already explained to us the matter of His uniqueness, as expressed in the words, “One, Unique, and Unified.”

There is a difference between “One,” “Unique,” and “Unified”:

Interpretation: “Uniting to act with One Force,” when He works to bestow, as is fitting of His Oneness, and His operations are unchanging, when He “divides to act His act,” meaning when His operations differ, and He seems to be doing good and bad, then He is called “Unique,” since all His different operations have a single outcome: benefitting.

We find that He is unique in every single act and does not change by His various operations. When He is in a single evenness, He is called “One.” One points to His Essence, where all the opposites are in a single evenness. It is as the Rambam wrote, “In Him, knower, known and knowledge are one, for His Thoughts are far Higher than our thoughts, and His ways Higher than our ways.”

Two discernments in bestowal: before it is received and after it is received.

2) We should learn from those who ate the manna. Manna is called “Bread from the sky” because it did not materialize when clothing in this world. Our sages said that each and every one tasted everything he or she wanted to taste in it.

That means that it had to have opposite forms in it: one person tasted sweet and the other tasted it as acrid and bitter. Thus, the manna itself had to have been contained of both opposites together, for can one give what is not in one? Thus, how can there be two opposites in the same carrier?

It is therefore a must that it is simple and devoid of both flavors, but is only included in them in such a way that the corporeal receiver might discern the taste he or she wants. In the same way, you can perceive anything spiritual: it is unique and simple in itself, but consists of the entire multiplicity of forms in the world. When falling in the hand of a corporeal, limited receiver, the receiver discerns a separate form in it, unlike all other forms united in that spiritual essence.

We should therefore always distinguish two discernments in His bestowal:

  1. The form of the Essence of that Higher Abundance before it is received, when it is still inclusive Simple Light.

  2. After the Abundance has been received, and thus acquired one separate form according to the properties of the receiver.

How can we perceive the soul as a part of Godliness?

3) Now we can come to understand what the Kabbalists write about the essence of the soul: “The soul is a part of God Above and is not at all changed from the Whole, except in that the soul is a part and not the Whole.” It is like a stone that is carved off a mountain: the essence of the stone and the essence of the mountain are the same and there is no distinction between the stone and the mountain, except that the stone is but a part of the mountain, and the mountain is the whole.

These words seem utterly perplexing. It is most difficult to understand how parts and differences can be discerned in Godliness to the point of resembling it to a stone that is carved off a mountain. The stone is carved off the mountain by an ax and a sledgehammer. But in Godliness, how and what would separate them from one another?

The spiritual is divided by disparity of form, as the corporeal is divided by an ax.

4) Before we come to clarify the matter, we shall explain the essence of the separation in spirituality: Know that spiritual entities become separated from one another only by disparity of form. In other words, if one spiritual entity acquires two forms, it is no longer one, but two.

Let me explain it in souls of people, which are also spiritual: It is known that the form of the spiritual law is simple. Certainly, there are as many souls as there are bodies, where the souls shine. However, they are separated from one another by the disparity of form in each of them, as our sages said, “As their faces are not the same, their opinions are not similar.” The body can discern the form of the souls and tell if each specific soul is a good soul or a bad soul and likewise with the various forms.

And you see that as a corporeal matter is divided, cut, and becomes separated by an ax and motion that increase the distance between each part, a spiritual matter is divided, cut, and separated by the disparity of form between each part. According to the measure of disparity, so is the distance between each two parts.

How can there be disparity of form in Creation with respect to Ein Sof?

5) It is now clear in this world, in souls of people. However, in the soul, which is a part of God Above, it is still unclear how it is separated from Godliness to the point that we can call it “a Godly Part.” We should not say, “by disparity of form,” since we have already said that Godliness is Simple Light, which contains the whole multiplicity of forms and opposite forms in the world in His Simple Uniqueness, as in “One, Unique, and Unified.” Hence, how can we depict disparity of form in the soul, making it different from Godliness, rendering it distinct, to acquire a part of Him there?

Indeed, this question applies primarily to the Light of Ein Sof prior to the Tzimtzum (restriction), for in the reality before us, all the worlds, Upper and lower, are discerned by two discernments:

  1. The first is the form of this whole reality, as it is prior to the Tzimtzum. At that time, everything was without bounds and without end. This discernment is called, “the Light of Ein Sof.”

  2. The second discernment is the form of this entire reality from the Tzimtzum downwards. Then everything became limited and measured. This discernment is called the four worlds, Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, Assiya.

It is known that there is no thought and perception whatsoever in His Essence, and no name and appellation is in Him. And what we do not attain, how can we define by a name? A name implies attainment, indicating that we have attained it as that name.

Thus, it is certain that there no name and appellation whatsoever in His Essence. Instead, all the names and appellations are but in His Light, which expands from Him. The expansion of His Light prior to the Tzimtzum, which filled the whole of reality unboundedly and without end is called Ein Sof. Thus we should understand how the Light of Ein Sof is defined in and of itself and has departed His Essence, so we may define it by a name, as we have said about the soul.

Explanation of the words: “Hence, work and labor have been prepared for the reward of the souls, since ‘One who eats that which is not one’s own, is afraid to look at one’s face.’”

6) To somewhat understand this sublime place, we must go into further detail. We shall research the axis of the entire reality before us and its general purpose. Is there an Operator without a purpose? And what is that purpose, for which He has invented this whole reality before us in the Upper Worlds and in the lower worlds?

Indeed, our sages have already instructed us in many places that all the worlds were created only for Israel, who keep Torah and Mitzvot. However, we should understand this question of our sages, who asked about it: “If the purpose of the creation of the worlds is to delight His creatures, why did He create this corporeal, turbid, and tormented world? Without it, He could certainly delight the souls as much as He wanted; so why did He bring the soul into such a foul and filthy body?”

They explained it with the verse, “One who eats that which is not one’s own is afraid to look at one’s face.” It means there is a flaw of shame in any free gift. To spare the souls this blemish, He created this world, where there is work. And we will enjoy their labor, for they take their pay from the Whole in return for their work, and are thus spared the blemish of shame.

What is the ratio between working seventy years and eternal delight, as there is no greater free gift than this?

7) These words of theirs are perplexing through and through. First bewilderment: our primary aim and prayer is, “Spare us a free gift.” Our sages said that the treasure of a free gift is prepared only for the greatest souls in the world.

Their answer is even more perplexing: They said that there is a great flaw in free gifts, namely the shame that encounters every receiver of a free gift. To mend this, the Creator has prepared this world where there is work and labor, to be rewarded for their labor and work in the next world.

But that answer is odd indeed. What is this like? It is like a person who says to his friend, “Work with me for just a minute, and in return I will give you every pleasure and treasure in the world for the rest of your life.” There is indeed no greater free gift than that, since the reward is utterly incomparable with the work, since the work is in this world, a transient, worthless world compared to the reward and the pleasure in the eternal world.

What value is there to the passing world compared to the eternal world? It is even more so with regard to the quality of the labor, which is worthless compared to the quality of the reward.

Our sages have said, “The Creator is destined to bequeath each righteous 310 worlds.” We cannot say that the Creator gives some of the reward in return for their work and the rest as a free gift, for then what good would that do? The blemish of shame would remain in the rest of the gift! Indeed, their words are not to be taken literally, for there is a profound meaning here.

The whole of reality was emanated and created with a single Thought. It is the Operator, it is the very Operation, it is the sought-after reward, and it is the Essence of the labor.

8) We must understand His Thought in creating the worlds and the reality before us. His Operations did not emerge by many thoughts, as is our way. This is because He is One, Unique, and Unified. And as He is Simple, His Lights, which extend from Him, are Simple and Unified, without any multiplicity of forms, as it is written, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways.”

You must therefore understand and perceive that all the names and appellations and all the worlds, Upper and lower, are all One Simple Light, Unique, and Unified. In the Creator, the Light that extends, the Thought, the Operation and the Operator and anything the heart can think and contemplate, are in Him one and the same thing.

Thus, you can judge and perceive that this entire reality, Upper and lower as one, in the final state of the end of correction, was emanated and created by a Single Thought. That Single Thought performs all the operations, is the Essence of all the operations, the ultimate Objective, and the Essence of the labor. It is by itself the very perfection and the sought-after reward, as the Ramban wrote, “One, Unique, and Unified.”

The issue of the Tzimtzum explains how an incomplete operation emerged from the Perfect Operator.

9) The Ari elaborated on the matter of Tzimtzum Aleph (first restriction), for it is a most serious matter. That is because it is necessary that all the corruptions and all the various shortcomings extend and come from Him, as it is written, “I form the light, and create darkness.” But the corruptions and the darkness are the complete opposite of Him, so how can they stem from one another? Also, how could they come together with the Lightand the pleasure in the Thought of Creation?

We cannot say that they are two separate thoughts. Thus, how does all that extend from Him down to this world, which is so filled with scum, torment, and filth, and how do they exist together in the single thought?

Chapter Two

Explaining the Thought of Creation.

10) Now we shall come to clarify the Thought of Creation. It is certain that “The end of the act is in the preliminary thought.” Even in corporeal humans with their many thoughts, the act ends in the preliminary thought. For example, when one builds one’s house, we understand that the first thought in this engagement is the shape of the house to dwell in.

Therefore, it is preceded by many thoughts and many operations until this shape that one had pre- designed is completed. This shape is what appears at the end of all his operations; thus, the act ended in the preliminary thought.

The final act, which is the axis and the purpose for which all these were created, is to delight His creations. It is known that His Thought ends and acts immediately, for He is not a human, obliged to act, but the Thought itself completes the entire act at once.

Hence, we can see that as soon as He contemplated the creation in order to delight His creatures, this Light immediately extended and expanded from Him in the full measure and form of the pleasures He had contemplated. It is all included in that Thought, which we call “The Thought of Creation.” Know that we call this Thought of Creation, “The Light of Ein Sof,” since we do not have a single word or utterance in His Essence to define Him by any name.

The will to bestow in the Emanator necessarily begets the will to receive in the emanated, and it is the Kli in which the emanated receives His Abundance.

11) The Ari said that in the beginning, an Upper Simple Light had filled the whole reality. This means that since the Creator contemplated delighting the creations, and the Light seemingly expanded from Him and departed Him, the desire to receive His Pleasures was immediately imprinted in this Light.

You can also determine that this desire is the full measure of the expanding Light. In other words, the measure of His Lightand Abundance is as the measure of His Desire to delight, no more and no less.

For this reason, we call the essence of that will to receive, imprinted in this Lightthrough the power of His Thought, by the name, “place.” For instance, when we say that a person has a stomach big enough to eat two pounds of bread, while another person cannot eat more than one pound of bread, which place are we talking about? It is not the size of the intestines, but the measure of appetite. You see that the measure for the place of the reception of the bread depends on the measure and the desire to eat.

It is all the more so in spirituality, where the desire to receive the abundance is the place of the abundance, and the abundance is measured by the intensity of the desire.

The will to receive contained in the Thought of Creation brought it out of His Essence, to acquire the name Ein Sof.

12) Now you see how the Light of Ein Sof departed His Essence, in which we cannot utter any word, and became defined by the name Ohr (Light of) Ein Sof. It is because of this above discernment that in that Light there is the will to receive, incorporated in it from His Essence.

This is a new form that is not included whatsoever in His Essence, for whom would He receive from? This form is also the full measure of this Light.

Prior to the Tzimtzum, the disparity of form in the will to receive was indiscernible.

13) In His Almightiness, this new form would not have been defined as a change from His Light, as it is written, “Before the world was created, there were He is One and His Name One.”

“He” indicates the Light in Ein Sof, and “His Name” implies the “Place,” which is Malchut de (of) Ein Sof, being the will to receive from His Essence, contained in the Light of Ein Sof. He tells us that He is One and His Name One. His Name, which is Malchut de Ein Sof, being the desire, namely the will to receive that has been immersed in the entire reality contained in the Thought of Creation, prior to the Tzimtzum, no disparity of form and difference from the Light was discerned in it. And the Light and the place are literally one. Had there been any difference and deficiency in the place, compared to the Light of Ein Sof, there would certainly be two discernments there.

Tzimtzum means that Malchut de Ein Sof diminished the will to receive in her. Then the Light disappeared because there is no Light without a Kli.

14) Regarding the Tzimtzum: The will to receive that is contained in the Light of Ein Sof, called Malchut de Ein Sof, which is the Thought of Creation in Ein Sof, which contains the whole of reality, embellished herself to ascend and equalize her form with His Essence. Hence, she diminished her will to receive His Abundance in Behina Dalet in the desire. Her intention was that by so doing, the worlds would emanate and be created down to this world.

Thus, the form of the will to receive would be corrected and return to the form of bestowal, and that would bring her to equivalence of form with the Emanator. Then, after she had diminished the will to receive, the Light departed, for it is already known that the Light depends on the desire, and the desire is the place of the Light, for there is no coercion in spirituality.

Chapter Three

Explanation of the origin of the soul.

15) Now we shall explain the matter of the origin of the soul. It has been said that it is a part of God Above. We asked, “How and in what does the form of the soul differ from His Simple Light, which separates it from The Whole?” Now we can understand that there really is a great disparity of form in it. Although He contains all the conceivable and imaginable forms, still, after the above words, you find one form that is not contained in Him, namely the form of the will to receive, for whom would He receive from?

However, the souls, whose creation came about because He wanted to delight them, which is the Thought of Creation, were necessarily imprinted with this law of wanting and yearning to receive His Abundance. That is where they differ from Him, since their form has changed from His. It has already been explained that a corporeal essence is separated and divided by the force of motion and remoteness of location, and a spiritual essence is separated and divided by disparity of form.

The measure of disparity of form determines the distance between one another. If the disparity of form becomes complete oppositeness, from one extreme to the other, they become completely severed and separated until they can no longer nourish from one another, for they are considered alien to one another.

Chapter Four

After the Tzimtzum and the Masach (screen) that was placed on the will to receive, it was disqualified from being a Kli (vessel) for reception and departed the system of Kedusha (Holiness). In its stead, the Ohr Hozer (Reflected Light) serves as a vessel for reception, and the Kli of the will to receive was given to the impure system.

16) After the Tzimtzum and the Masach were placed on that Kli, called “will to receive,” it was canceled and departed from the pure system, and the Ohr Hozer became the vessel of reception in its place.

Know that this is the whole difference between the pure ABYA and the impure ABYA. The vessels of reception of the pure ABYA are from Ohr Hozer that is corrected in equivalence of form with Ein Sof, while the impure ABYA use the will to receive that was restricted, which is the opposite form from Ein Sof. That makes them separated and cut off from the “Life of Lives,” namely Ein Sof.

Humanity feeds on the leavings of the Klipot (shells), and thus uses the will to receive as they do.

17) Now you can understand the root of the corruption, which was promptly incorporated in the Thought of Creation, which is to delight His creatures. After the cascading of the five general worlds, Adam Kadmon and ABYA, the Klipot appeared in the four impure worlds ABYA, too, as in “One before the other hath God made them.”

In that state, the turbid corporeal body is set before us, about which it is written, “Man's heart is evil from his youth.” This is so because its entire sustenance from its youth comes from the leavings of the Klipot. The essence of Klipot and impurity is their form of wanting only to receive. They have nothing of the will to bestow.

In that, they are opposite from Him, for He has no will to receive whatsoever, and all He wants is to bestow and delight. For that reason, the Klipot are called “dead,” since their oppositeness of form from the Life of Lives cuts them off from Him and they have nothing of His Abundance.

Hence, the body, too, which feeds on the leavings of the Klipot, is also severed from life and is filled with filth. And all of that is because of the will to only receive and to not bestow imprinted in it. Its desire is always open to receive the whole world into its stomach. Thus, “The wicked are called ‘dead’ during their lives,” since their fundamental disparity of form from their root, where they have nothing of the form of bestowal, severs them from Him and they become literally dead.

Although it seems that the evil, too, have the form of bestowal when they give charity, etc., it has been said about them in The Zohar, “Any grace that they do aims primarily for themselves and for their own glory.” But the righteous, who keep Torah and Mitzvot in order to not be rewarded, but to bestow contentment upon their Maker, thus purify their bodies and invert their vessels of reception to the form of bestowal.

That makes them completely adherent with Him, for their form is identical to their Maker without any disparity of form. Our sages said about the verse, “Say unto Zion: 'Thou art My people,’” that you are with Me in partnership. This means that the righteous are partners with the Creator, since He started Creation, and the righteous finish it by turning the vessels of reception into bestowal.

The whole of reality is contained in Ein Sof and extends existence from existence. Only the will to receive is new and extends existence from absence.

18) Know that the very initiation that the Creator had initiated in this Creation, which He brought out existence from absence, applies only to the form of desire to enjoy, imprinted in every creature. Nothing more was generated in Creation, and this is the meaning of “I form the light, and create darkness.” The Ramban interprets the word, “Creator,” as an indication of renewal, meaning something that did not exist before.

You see that it does not say, “create Light,” since there is no innovation in it, as in existence from absence. This is because the Light and everything contained in the Light, all the pleasant sensations and conceptions in the world, extend existence from existence. This means that they are already contained in Him and are therefore not an innovation. This is why it is written, “form the light,” indicating that there are no innovations or creations in Him.

However, it is said of the darkness, which contains every unpleasant sensation and conception, “and create darkness.” That is because He invented them literally existence from absence. In other words, it does not exist in His reality whatsoever, but was generated now. The root of all of them is the form of the “desire to enjoy,” included in His Lights, which expand from Him.

In the beginning, it is only darker than the Upper Light and is therefore called “darkness,” compared to the Light. But finally, the Klipot, Sitra Achra, and the wicked hang down and emerge because of it, which are completely cut off from the Root of Life by it, as it is written, “and her legs descend unto death.” “Her legs” indicate the end of something. And he says that in the end, death hangs down from the legs of Malchut – the desire to enjoy, found in the expansion of His Light – to the Sitra Achra and to those that feed off her and follow her.

Because we are branches that extend from Ein Sof, the things that are in our Root are pleasurable to us, and those that are not in our Root are burdensome and painful to us.

19) We can ask, “Since this disparity of form of the will to receive must be in the creatures, for how else would they extend from Him and shift from being Creator to being creatures?” This is only possible by the above-mentioned disparity of form.

Furthermore, this form of the will to enjoy is the primary essence of Creation, the axis of the Thought of Creation. It is also the measure of the delight and pleasure, for which it is called “a place.”

Thus, how can we say about it that it is called “darkness” and extends to the Behina (discernment) of death, since it creates separation and interruption from the Life of Lives in the receiving lower ones? We should also understand what is the great worry that comes to the receivers because of the disparity of form from His Essence, and why the great wrath.

To explain, we must first know the origin of all the pleasures and sufferings felt in our world. It is known that the nature of every branch is equal to its root. Therefore, every conduct in the root is desired and loved and coveted by the branch, as well, and any matter that is not in the root, the branch, too, removes itself from them, does not tolerate them, and hates them.

This is an unbreakable law that abides between every branch and its root. Because He is the root of all His creations, everything in Him and that extends from Him directly is pleasurable and pleasant to us, for our nature is close to our Root. Also, everything that is not in Him and does not extend to us directly from Him, but is rather opposite to Creation itself will be against our nature and will be hard for us to tolerate.

For example, we love rest and vehemently hate motion, to the point that we do not make even a single movement if not to find rest. This is because our Root is motionless and restful; there is no movement in Him whatsoever. For this reason, it is against our nature and hated by us.

Similarly, we love wisdom, strength, wealth, and all the virtues because they are included in Him, Who is our Root. We hate their opposites, such as folly, weakness, poverty, ignominy and so on, since they are not at all in our Root, which makes them despicable, loathsome, and intolerable to us.

We should still examine how can there be any extension that does not come directly from Him, but is opposite to Creation itself? It is like a wealthy man who called upon a poor fellow, fed him and gave him drinks, silver, and gold every single day, and each day more than the day before.

Note that this man tastes two distinct flavors in the great gifts of the rich: On the one hand, he tasted immeasurable pleasure due to the multitude of his gifts. On the other hand, it is hard for him to tolerate the plentitude of benefits and is ashamed upon receiving it. This causes him impatience due to the plentitude of presents showered on him every time.

It is certain that his pleasure from the gifts extends directly from the wealthy benefactor, but the impatience that he felt in the presents did not come from the wealthy benefactor, but from the very essence of the receiver – the shame awakened in him by reason of the reception and the free gift. The truth is that this, too, comes to him from the rich man, of course, but indirectly.

Because the will to receive is not in our Root, we feel shame and intolerance in it. Our sages wrote that to correct that, He has “prepared” for us labor in Torah and Mitzvot in this world, to invert the will to receive into a will to bestow.

20) We learn that all the forms that indirectly extend to us from Him present a difficulty for our patience and are against our nature. By that, you will see that the new form that was made in the receiver, namely the desire to enjoy, is not in any way inferior or deficient compared to Him. Moreover, this is the primary axis of His Creation. Without that, there would be no Creation here at all. However, the receiver, who is the carrier of that form, feels the intolerance due to his “self,” since this form does not exist in his Root.

Now we can understand the answer of our sages that this world was created because “one who eats that which is not one’s own, is afraid to look at one’s face.” They referred to the disparity of formof the desire to enjoy, which necessarily exists in the souls, since “one who eats that which is not one’s own is afraid to look at one’s face.”

Thus, any receiver of a present is ashamed when receiving it, due to the disparity of form from the Root, since the Root does not contain that form of reception. To correct that, He created this world, where the soul comes and clothes a body. And through the practice in Torah and Mitzvot in order to bring contentment to His Maker, the soul’s vessels of reception turn to vessels of bestowal.

Thus, for herself, she did not want the distinguished abundance, yet she receives the abundance in order to bring contentment to her Maker, who wishes for the souls to enjoy His Abundance. Because she is cleansed from the will to receive for herself, she is no longer afraid to look at His face, and thus reveals the complete perfection of the creature. And the need and the necessity to hang down all the way to this world, with the great labor of turning the form of reception into the form of bestowal, can only be conceived in this world.

The wicked are doubly destroyed, and the righteous doubly inherit.

21) Come and see that the wicked are doubly destroyed, for they hold both ends of the rope. This world is created with a want and emptiness of all the good abundance, and to acquire possessions we need movement.

However, it is known that profusion of movement pains man, for it is an indirect extension from His Essence. However, it is also impossible to remain devoid of possessions and good, for that, too, is in contrast with the Root, since the Root is filled abundantly. Hence, we choose the torment of movement in order to acquire the fulfillment of possessions.

However, because all their possessions are for themselves alone, and “he who has a hundred wants two hundred,” one finally dies with less than “half one’s desire in one’s hand.” In the end, they suffer from both sides: from the pain of increased motion, and from the pain of deficiency of possessions, half of which they lack.

But the righteous inherit doubly in their land. In other words, once they turn their will to receive into a will to bestow, and what they receive is in order to bestow, then they inherit doubly. Not only do they attain the perfection of the pleasures and diverse possessions, they also acquire the equivalence of form with their Maker. Thus, they come to true Dvekut (Adhesion) and are at rest, too, since the abundance comes to them by itself, without any movement or effort.

Chapter Five

The Thought of Creation compels every item in reality to stem from one another until the end of correction.

22) Now we understand the power of His Uniqueness, that His Thoughts are not our thoughts and all the multiplicity of matters and forms we perceive in this reality before us is united in Him within a Single Thought, being the Thought of Creation to delight His creatures. This Singular Thought encompasses the whole of reality in perfect unity through the end of correction, for this is really the very purpose of Creation, and this is the Operator, like the Force that operates in the operated. This is because what is merely a Thought in Him is a binding law in the creatures. And since He contemplated delighting us, it necessarily occurred in us that we receive His Good Abundance.

And it is the operation. This means that after this law of the will to receive pleasure has been imprinted in us, we define ourselves by the name, “operation.” This is so because through this disparity of form, we stop being a Creator and become a creature, stop being the Operator and become the operation.

And it is the labor and the work. Due to the force that operates in the operated, the desire to receive increases in us as the worlds hang down, until we become a separated body in this world, opposite in form from the Life of Lives, which does not bestow outside itself at all, and brings death to the bodies and every kind of torment and labor to the soul.

This is the meaning of serving the Creator in Torah and Mitzvot. Through the illumination of the line in the restricted place, the Holy Names – Torah and Mitzvot – extend. By laboring in Torah and Mitzvot to bestow contentment to the Maker, our vessels of reception gradually become vessels of bestowal, and this is the whole sought-after reward.

The more corrupted our vessels of reception are, the more we cannot open our mouths to receive His Abundance. This is so due to the fear of disparity of form, as in “One who eats that which is not one’s own, is afraid to look at one’s face.” This was the reason for Tzimtzum Aleph, but when we correct our vessels of reception to being in order to bestow, we thus equalize our Kelim with their Maker and become fit to receive His Abundance unboundedly.

Thus you see that all these opposite forms in the whole of Creation before us, namely the form of operator and operated, and the form of the corruptions and corrections, and the form of the labor and its reward, all are included in His Single Thought. In simple words, it is “to delight His creatures,” precisely that, no more and no less.

The entire multiplicity of concepts is also included in that Thought, both the concepts in our Holy Torah, and those of secular teachings. All the many creations and worlds and various conducts in each and every one, stem from this Single Thought.

Malchut de Ein Sof means that Malchut does not put up any end there.

23) Yet, can we recognize a Malchut in Ein Sof? That would mean that there are the Upper Nine Sefirot there, too! From our words, it becomes very clear that the will to receive that is necessarily included in the Light of Ein Sof is called Malchut de Ein Sof. There, however, Malchut did not place a boundary and an end on that Light of Ein Sof, since the disparity of form due to the will to receive had not become apparent in her. That is why it is called Ein Sof, meaning Malchut does not put a stop there. Conversely, from the Tzimtzum downwards, an end was made in each Sefira and Partzuf by the force of Malchut.

Chapter Six

It is impossible for the will to receive to appear in any essence, except in four Behinot (discernments), which are the four letters of HaVaYaH.

24) Let us fully understand the end that occurred in Malchut. First, we will explain what the Kabbalists have determined, that there is no Light, great or small, in the Upper Worlds or in the lower worlds, that is not arranged by the order of the four-letter name, HaVaYaH.

This goes hand in hand with the law that there is no Light in the worlds that is not clothed in a Kli. I have already explained the difference between His Essence and the Light that expands from Him. That happens only due to the will to enjoy that is contained in His expanding Light, being a disparity of form from His Essence, Who does not have that desire.

The expanding Light is defined by the name “emanated” because this disparity of form stops the Light from being Emanator to being emanated. It is also explained that the will to enjoy, included in His Light, is also the measure of the greatness of the Light. It is called the “place of the Light,” meaning it receives its abundance according to its measure of will to receive and craving, no more and no less.

It also explains that this will to receive is the very novelty that was generated in the creation of the worlds by way of making existence from absence. This is so because this form alone is not at all included in His Abundance, and the Creator has only now created it for the purpose of Creation. This is the meaning of “and create darkness,” since this form is the root for darkness, due to the disparity of form in it. For this reason, it is darker than the Light that expands within her and because of her.

Now you see that any Light that expands from Him instantly consists of two discernments:

  1. The first is the essence of the expanding Light before the form of “desire to enjoy” appears in it.

  2. The second one is after the form of “desire to enjoy” appears in it, at which time it becomes coarser and somewhat darker, due to the acquisition of disparity of form.

Thus, the first discernment is the Light and the second discernment is the Kli. For this reason, any expanding Light consists of four Behinot in the impression on the Kli. This is so because the form of the will to receive, called “a Kli to the expanding Light,” is not completed all at once, but by way of operator and operated.

There are two Behinot in the operator and two Behinot in the operated. They are called “potential” and “actual” in the operator, and “potential” and “actual” in the operated, which make up four Behinot.

The will to receive does not permeate the emanated except through his own awakening to receive of his own choice.

25) Because the Kli is the root of darkness, as it is opposite from the Light, it must therefore begin to operate slowly, gradually, by way of cause and consequence, as it is written, “The waters were conceived and begotten darkness” (Midrash Rabba, Shemot 80, 22).

The darkness is a result of the Light itself and is operated by it, as in conception and birth, which are potential and actual. This means that in any expanding Light, the will to receive is necessarily incorporated, though it is not regarded as disparity of form before this desire is clearly set in the Light.

The will to receive that is incorporated in the Light by the Emanator is not enough for that. Rather, the emanated himself must independently discover the will to receive in him, in action, meaning of his own choice. This means that he must extend abundance through his own will, more than the measure of Light of the expansion in him by the Emanator.

After the emanated is operated by his own choice in increasing the measure of his desire, the craving and the will to receive become fixed in him, and the Light can permanently clothe this Kli.

It is true that the Light of Ein Sof seemingly expands over all four Behinot, reaching the full measure of the desire by the emanatedhimself, which is Behina Dalet. This is because he would not extend his own essence anyway and acquire a name for himself, meaning Ein Sof.

However, the form did not change at all because of the will to receive in His Almightiness, and there is no change distinguished there between the Light and the place of the Light, which is the will to enjoy; they are one and the same thing.

It is written, “Before the world was created, there were He is One and His Name One.” It is indeed difficult to understand this double reference “He” and “His Name.” What has His Name got to do there before the world was created? It should have said, “Before the world was created, He was One.”

However, this refers to the Light of Ein Sof, which is prior to the Tzimtzum. Even though there is a place there and a will to receive the Abundance from His Essence, it is still without change and distinction between the Light and the “Place.”

“He is One” means that Light of Ein Sof and His Name are one. This refers to the will to enjoy included there without any change whatsoever. You must understand what our sages implied, that the “His Name” is desire in Gematria, meaning the “will to enjoy.”

All the worlds in the Thought of Creation are called “the Light of Ein Sof,” and the sum of the receivers there is called Malchut de Ein Sof.

26) It has already been explained regarding “The end of an act is in the preliminary thought,” that it is the Thought of Creation, which expanded from His Essence in order to delight His creatures. We have learned that in Him, the Thought and the Light are one and the same thing. It therefore follows that the Light of Ein Sof that expanded from His Essence contains the whole of reality before us through the end of the future correction, which is the end of the act.

In Him, all the creations are already complete with all their perfection and joy that He wished to bestow upon them. This complete reality is called “the Light of Ein Sof,” and that which contains them is called Malchut de Ein Sof.

Chapter Seven

Although only Behina Dalet was restricted, the Light left the first three Behinot, as well.

27) It has already been explained that the middle point, which is the inclusive point of the Thought of Creation, namely the will to enjoy in it, embellished herself to enhance her equivalence of form with the Emanator. Although there is no disparity of form in His Almightiness from the perspective of the Emanator, the point of the desire felt it as a kind of indirect extension from His Essence, as with the allegory about the rich man. For this reason, she diminished her desire from the last Behina, which is the complete enormity of the will to receive, to increase the Dvekut by way of direct extension from His Essence.

Then the Light was emptied from the entire place, meaning from all four degrees that exist in the place. Even though she diminished her Light only from Behina Dalet, it is the nature of the spiritual that it is indivisible.

Afterwards, he re-extended a line of Light from the first three Behinot, and Behina Dalet remained a vacant space.

28) Afterwards, the Light of Ein Sof extended once more to the place that was emptied, but did not fill the whole place in all four Behinot, but only three Behinot, as was the desire of the point of Tzimtzum. Hence, the middle point that has been restricted remained empty and hollow, since the Light illuminated only through Behina Dalet, but not all the way, and the Light of Ein Sof stopped there.

We will henceforth explain the matter of the Hitkalelut (mingling) of the Behinot in one another, applied in the Upper Worlds. Now you see that the four Behinot are integrated in one another in such a way that within Behina Dalet itself there are all four Behinot, as well. Thus, the Light of Ein Sof reached the first three Behinot in Behina Dalet, too, and only the last Behina in Behina Dalet remained empty and without Light.

Chapter Eight

Hochma is called Light, and Hassadim, “Water.” Bina is called “Upper Water,” and Malchut, “lower water.”

29) Now we shall explain the meaning of the four Behinot of cause and consequence, necessary to complete the form of the will to receive. There are two Behinot of Light in Atzilut. The first Behina is called “Light,” namely Ohr Hochma, and the second Behina is called “Water,” which is Hassadim.

The first Behina extends from Above downwards without any assistance from the lower one. The second Behina extends with the help of the lower one, hence the name, “water,” for it is the nature of the Light to be Above, and the nature of the water to be below.

There are also two Behinot in the water itself: Upper Water, by Behina Bet in the four Behinot, and lower water, by Behina Dalet in the four Behinot.

Explanation of the expansion of Ohr Ein Sof into the four Behinot in order to uncover the Kli, which is the will to receive.

30) For this reason, any expansion of Ohr Ein Sof consists of Eser Sefirot. This is because the Ein Sof, which is the Root and the Emanator, is called Keter. The Light of the expansion itself is called Hochma, and this is the entire measure of expansion of the Light from Above, from Ein Sof.

It has already been said that the will to receive is incorporated in every expansion of Light from Above. However the form of the desire does not actually become apparent before the desire awakens in the emanated, to extend more Light than the measure of its expansion.

Thus, because the will to receive is included as potential immediately in the Light of the expansion, the Light is compelled to bring the potential to the actual. Consequently, the Light awakens to extend additional Abundance, more than the measure of its expansion from Ein Sof. Thus, the will to receive actually appears in that Light and acquires the new form in disparity of form, for by that it becomes darker than the Light, as it grew coarser by the new form, since it has become thicker by the new form.

Also, this part, which has become thicker, is called Bina. In truth, Bina is a part of Hochma, meaning the very Light of expansion of Ein Sof. But because she increased her desire and drew more Abundance than the measure of the expansion in her from Ein Sof, she thus acquired disparity of form and grew a little thicker than the Light. Thus, she acquired her own name, which is “the Sefira Bina.”

The essence of the additional Abundance that she extended from Ein Sof by the power of the strengthening her of desire is called Ohr Hassadim, or “Upper Water.” This is because this desire does not extend directly from Ein Sof like Ohr Hochma, but through assistance of the emanated, who intensified the desire. Hence, it merits its own name, to be called Ohr Hassadim or “water.”

Now you find that the Sefira Bina consists of three discernments of Light:

  1. Light of Bina’s essence, which is a part of the Ohr Hochma.

  2. The thickening and the disparity of form in her, acquired by the intensification of the desire.

  3. The Ohr Hassadim that came to her through her own extension from Ein Sof.

However, that still does not complete the entire vessel of reception, since Bina is essentially Hochma, who is indeed transcendent, being a direct expansion from Ohr Ein Sof. Consequently, only the root for the vessels of reception and the operator for the operation of the Kli appeared in Bina.

Afterwards, that same Ohr Hassadim that she extended through the power of her intensification extended from her once more, and some illumination of Hochma was added. This expansion of Ohr Hassadim is called Zeir Anpin, or HGT.

This Light of Hitpashtut also increased its desire to extend new abundance, more than the measure of illumination of Hochma in its expansion from Bina. This expansion is also regarded as two Behinot, since the Light of expansion itself is called ZA or VAK, while its intensification in it is called Malchut.

This is how we come by the ten Sefirot: Keter is Ein Sof; Hochma is the Light of expansion from Ein Sof; Bina is the Ohr Hochma that intensified in order to increase abundance, by which it gained Aviut. ZA, which consists of HGT NHY, is Ohr Hassadim with illumination of Hochma, which expands from Bina; and Malchut is the second intensification to add Hochma more than there is in ZA.

The four Behinot in the desire are the four letters HaVaYaH, which are KHBTM.

31) This is the meaning of the four letters in the four-letter Name: The tip of the Yod is Ein Sof, meaning the operating force included the Thought of Creation, which is to delight His creatures, namely the Kli of Keter.

Yod is Hochma, meaning Behina Aleph, which is the actual in the potential that is contained in the Light of the expansion of Ein Sof. The first Hey is Bina, Behina Bet, which is the actualization of the potential, meaning the Light that has grown thicker by the Hochma.

Vav is Zeir Anpin or HGT NHY, meaning the expansion of Ohr Hassadim that emerged through Bina. This is Behina Gimel, the force for the performance of the operation. The lower Hey in HaVaYaH is Malchut, meaning Behina Dalet. It is the manifestation of the complete act in the vessel of reception that has intensified to extend more abundance than the measure of its expansion from Bina. That completes the form of the will to receive, and the Light that clothes its Kli, being the will to receive that is completed only in this fourth Behina and not before.

Now you can easily see that there is no Light in the Upper Worlds or lower worlds that is not arranged under the four-letter Name, being the four Behinot. Without it, the will to receive that should be in every Light is incomplete, for this will is the place and the measure of the Light.

The letters Yod and Vav of HaVaYaH are thin because they are discerned as mere potential.

32) This might surprise us, since Yod implies Hochma and Hey implies Bina, and the whole essence of the Light that exists in the ten Sefirot exists in the Sefira Hochma, while Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut are merely clothes, with respect to Hochma. Thus, Hochma should have taken the greater letter in the four-letter Name.

The thing is that the letters of the four-letter Name do not imply or indicate the amount of Light in the ten Sefirot. Instead, they indicate measures of impact on the Kli. The white in the parchment of the scroll of Torah implies the Light, and the black, being the letters in the scroll of Torah, indicates the quality of the Kelim.

Thus, because Keter is only discerned as the root of the root of the Kli, it is implied only in the tip of the Yod. Hochma, which is the force that has not actually appeared in actuality, is implied by the smallest of the letters, namely the Yod.

Bina, where the force is carried out in action, is indicated by the widest letter, the Aleph. ZA is only the force for the performance of the act; hence, it is implied by a long and narrow letter, which is Vav. Its thinness indicates that the essence of the Kli is as yet in concealed potential in it, and its length indicates that at the end of its expansion, the complete Kli appears through it.

Hochma did not manage to manifest the entire Kli in her expansion, for Bina is an incomplete Kli, but the operator of the Kli. Hence, the leg of the Yod is short, implying that it is still short, and did not manifest the entire Kli through its expansion and through the force concealed in it.

Malchut is also implied by the letter Hey, like Bina, which is a wide letter, appearing in its complete form. It should not surprise you that Bina and Malchut have the same letters, since in the World of Tikkun they are indeed similar and lend their Kelim to one another, as in the verse, “So they two went.”

Chapter Nine

Spiritual movement means renewal of disparity of form.

33) We should still understand the meaning of time and movement that we come across in almost every word in this wisdom. Indeed, you should know that spiritual movement is not like tangible movement from place to place. Rather, it refers to a renewal of form.

We denominate every renewal of form by the name “movement.” It is that renewal, that disparity of form that was renewed in the spiritual, unlike its general preceding form in that spiritual, is regarded as having been divided and distanced from that spiritual, and departed with its own name and authority. In that, it is exactly like a corporeal essence that some part departed it and moves about from place to place. Hence, the renewal of form is called “movement.”

Spiritual time means a certain number of renewals of disparity of form that stem from one another. Former and latter mean cause and consequence.

34) Concerning the spiritual definition of time: Understand that for us, the spiritual definition of time is only a sensation of movements. Our imagination pictures and devises a certain number of movements, which it discriminates one by one and translates them like a certain amount of “time.”

Thus, if one had been in a state of complete rest with one’s environment, he would not even be aware of the concept of time. So it is in spirituality: A certain amount of renewals of forms is considered as “spiritual movements.” Those are intermingled in one another by way of cause and consequence, and they are called “time” in spirituality. Also, “before” and “after” are always referred to as “cause and consequence.”

Chapter Ten

The entire substance that is ascribed to the emanated is the will to receive. Any addition in it is ascribed to the Emanator.

35) Know that the will to receive in the emanated, which is his Kli, is also all the general substance ascribed to the emanated, in a way that all that exists besides it is ascribed to the Emanator.

The will to receive is the first form of every essence. We define the first form as “substance” because we have no attainment in the essence.

36) Although we perceive the will to receive as an incident and a form in the essence, how is it we perceive it as the substance of the essence? Indeed, it is the same with essences that are near us. We name the first form in the essence by the name “the first substance in the essence,” since we have no attainment or perception whatsoever in any substance, as all of our five senses are completely unfit for it. The sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch offer the scrutinizing mind mere abstract forms of “incidents” of the essence, formulating through collaboration with our senses.

For example, if we take even the smallest, microscopic atoms in the smallest elements of any essence, separated through a chemical process, they, too, are merely abstract forms that appear that way to the eye. More accurately, we distinguish and examine them by the ways of the will to receive and to be received that we find in them.

Following these proceedings, we can distinguish and separate these various atoms to the very first matter of that essence. However, even then they would be no more than forces in the essence, not a substance.

Thus you find that even in corporeality we have no other way to understand the first matter, except by assuming that the first form is the first matter, which carries all other incidents and forms that follow it. It is all the more so in the Upper Worlds, where tangible and imaginary do not abide.

[32] The Study of the Ten Sefirot, Part One, Inner Reflection

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