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The Spiritual Worlds

Creation is made entirely of a desire to receive pleasure. This desire evolved in four phases, the last of which is called “a creature.” This template structure of evolution of desires is the basis for everything that exists.

Figure 1 describes the five phases of the making of the creature. If we treat this process as a story, it will help us remember that the drawings describe changes in our emotions, and not places or objects.

The Thought of Creation

Before anything is created, it has to be thought out, planned. In this case, we are talking about Creation and the thought that caused Creation to happen. We call it “The Thought of Creation.”

In the first chapter, we said that Abraham, who discovered the wisdom of Kabbalah and was the first to disseminate it, discovered that the universe was “obeying” a force of love and giving. Because he realized this was the force that created all of life, he called it “the Creator.” Hence, in Kabbalah, the term “Nature” is interchangeable with the term, “Creator.” He also said that the Creator’s will is to give us a very special kind of gift: becoming like Him. Since His is the most perfect, omnipotent, omniscient state that can exist, and since He is a force of love, He wants to give us the best: Himself.

Figure 1 describes the Thought of Creation as a desire to give pleasure (called “Light”) to the creatures. This is also the root of Creation, where we, and all of life began.

Kabbalists use the term Kli (vessel, receptacle) to describe the desire to receive the pleasure, the Light. The vessel is the spiritual sense, the tool that perceives the Creator. Now we can see why Kabbalists called their wisdom “the wisdom of Kabbalah” (the wisdom of receiving).

There is also a good reason why Kabbalists called pleasure “Light.” When the Kli—a creature, a person—feels the Creator, it is an experience of great wisdom that dawns on a person. When that happens to us, we realize that the newly manifested wisdom has always been there, but was hidden. It’s as if the night’s darkness has turned to daylight and the invisible has been made visible. Because this Light brings knowledge with it, Kabbalists called it “Light of Wisdom,” and the method to receive it, “the wisdom of Kabbalah.”

Four Basic Phases (and their root)

Let’s go back to our story of creation. To put the thought of creation into practice, the Creator designed a Creation that specifically wants to receive the pleasure of being identical to the Creator. If you’re a parent, you know how that feels. What warmer words can someone say to a proud father than, “Your son’s the spitting image of you!”?

As we’ve just said, the Thought of Creation—to give pleasure to the creature—is the root of Creation. For this reason, the Thought of Creation is called “the Root Phase” or “Phase Zero.” The desire to receive the pleasure is called “Phase One.”


Note that Phase Zero is shown as a downward arrow. Whenever an arrow points down, it means that Light comes from the Creator to Creation. But the opposite is not true: an upward arrow doesn’t mean that Creation gives Light to the Creator, but that it wants to give back to Him. What happens when there are two arrows pointing in opposite directions? Keep reading and you’ll soon find out.


Kabbalists refer to the Creator as “the Will to Bestow,” and to the creature as “the will to receive delight and pleasure” or simply “the will to receive.” We will talk about our perception of the Creator later, but what’s important at this point is that Kabbalists always tell us what they perceive. They don’t tell us that the Creator has a desire to give; they tell us that they see that the Creator has a desire to give, and that this is why they called Him “the Will to Bestow.” Because they also discovered in themselves a desire to receive the pleasure He wants to give, they called themselves, “the will to receive.”

So the will to receive is the first creation, the root of every single creature. When Creation, the will to receive, feels that the pleasure comes from a giver, she senses that real pleasure lies in giving, not in receiving. As a result, the will to receive begins to want to give (note the upward arrow extending from the second Kli—the cup in the drawing). This is a whole new phase—Phase Two.


In Kabbalah, a giving degree is considered male and a receiving degree is considered female. Within each degree there are states in which it is acting as male or as female; hence, we sometimes refer to a certain degree as male, and sometimes as female, even within the same paragraph. The only two exceptions to this rule are the Creator, who is always male, being the source, and Creation, which is always female, since she receives from Him.


Let’s examine what distinguishes Phase Two from Phase One. If we examine Figure 1, we will see that the Kli itself doesn’t change throughout the phases. This means that the will to receive is unchanging. Because the will to receive was designed in the Thought of Creation, it is eternal and can never be changed.

What does change, however, is what the Kli wants to receive. In Phase Two, the will to receive wants to receive pleasure from giving, not from receiving, and this is a fundamental change. The fundamental difference is that Phase Two needs another being to whom it can give. Therefore, to be a giver, Phase Two has to relate positively to someone or something else besides itself.

Phase Two, which forces us to give despite our underlying desire to receive, is what makes life possible. Without it, parents wouldn’t care for their children and social life would have been impossible. For example, if I owned a restaurant, my underlying desire would be to make money. But to do so, I would be feeding strangers whom I have real no desire to benefit. The same is true for bankers, sales persons, and even cab drivers.

Now we can see why Nature’s law is that of altruism and giving, not the law of receiving, even though the will to receive lies at the basis of every creature’s motivation, as dictated by the Thought of Creation. From the minute we have both a desire to receive and a desire to give within Creation, everything that will happen to her will stem from reciprocity, the “relationship” between Phases One and Two.


Because the will to receive is opposite from the Creator’s will to bestow, it is what distinguishes and separates us from the Creator. But the Creator didn’t just create us opposite from Him; He also gave us a way to bridge the gap, and this is what we learn in the wisdom of Kabbalah.


As we’ve just shown, the new desire to give in Phase Two forces Creation to communicate, to seek someone who needs to receive. Therefore, Phase Two begins to examine what and how it can give to the Creator. After all, to whom else could it give?

But when Phase Two actually tries to give, it discovers that all the Creator wants is to give. He has absolutely no desire to receive. Besides, what can Creation give to the Creator?

Moreover, Phase Two discovers that at its core, its real desire is to receive. It discovers that its root is essentially a will to receive delight and pleasure, and there is not an ounce of genuine desire to bestow within it.

However, because the Creator only wants to give, Creation’s will to receive is precisely what she can give to the Creator. By receiving, Creation discovers, she will actually be giving pleasure to the Creator, since giving is what pleases Him.

This may sound confusing, but if you think of the pleasure a mother derives from nurturing her baby, you will realize that the baby is actually giving pleasure to its mother simply by receiving the nurturing.

Hence, in Phase Three, Creation—the will to receive — chooses to receive. In so doing, she gives back to Root Phase, to the Creator.

Now we have a complete cycle where both players are givers. In Phase Zero, the Creator gives to Creation (Phase One). And in Phase Three, Creation, having gone through Phases One and Two, gives back to the Creator by receiving from Him.

In Figure 1, Phase Three is described as a Kli with two arrows, one pointing up and the other pointing down. The downward arrow indicates that Phase Three receives, as in Phase One, and the upward arrow indicates that its intention is to give, as in Phase Two.

Once again, both actions use the same will to receive as in Phases One and Two. This doesn’t change at all. What does change is the intention with which Phase Three receives: in Phase One, it receives without thinking about it, but in Phase Three it receives in order to please the Creator.

As we’ve seen before, our egoistic intentions are the reason for all the problems in the world. Here, too, at the root of Creation, the intention is much more important than the action itself. To demonstrate this hierarchy, Baal HaSulam metaphorically says that Phase Three is ten percent receiving and ninety percent giving.

Phase Four – Craving the Creator’s Mind

Now it seems we have a perfect cycle where the Creator has succeeded in making the creature identical to Himself—a giver. Moreover, Creation enjoys this giving, and thus pleases the Creator.

But does this complete the Thought of Creation? Not quite. In a sense, we can say about Creation that she can walk His walk and talk His talk, but she cannot think His thought. The act of reception (in Phase One) and the understanding that the Creator’s only wish is to give (in Phase Two) make Creation want to be in the Creator’s state, which is Phase Three.

But becoming a giver like the Creator doesn’t mean that Creation has achieved the Creator’s state. To complete the Thought of Creation, she must achieve the Creator’s thought, not just His actions. In such a state, she would understand why the Creator formed her. Clearly, the desire to understand the Thought of Creation is an entirely new phase. The only thing we can compare it to is a child who wants to be both as strong and as wise as its parents. We instinctively know that this is possible only when the child matures and steps into his or her parents’ shoes. This is why parents so often say to their kids, “Wait until you have children of your own; then you’ll understand.”

In Kabbalah, understanding the Thought of Creation—the deepest level of understanding—is called “attainment.” This is what the will to receive craves in Phase Four.


One of the most common terms in Kabbalah is Sefirot.

The word comes from the Hebrew word, Sapir (sapphire) and each Sefira (singular for Sefirot) has its own Light. Also, each of the four phases is named after one or more Sefira. Phase Zero is named Keter, Phase One, Hochma, Phase Two, Bina, Phase Three, Zeir Anpin, and Phase Four, Malchut.

Actually, there are ten Sefirot because Zeir Anpin is composed of six Sefirot: Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, and Yesod. Therefore, the complete set of Sefirot is Keter, Hochma, Bina, Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, and Malchut.


The desire to acquire the Thought of Creation is the most powerful force in Creation. It stands behind the whole process of evolution. Whether we are aware of it or not, the ultimate knowledge we all seek is the understanding of why the Creator does what He does. It is the same drive that urged Kabbalists to discover the secrets of Creation thousands of years ago. Until we understand it, we will have no peace of mind.

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