Before I go about
elucidating the implications of the wisdom of Kabbalah,
conversed upon by many, I find it necessary to begin with
clarifying the essence of this wisdom, which I believe so few
know. And naturally, it is impossible to speak of the
implications of some thing before we know the thing itself.
Although this knowledge is
wider and deeper than the ocean, I will make an utmost effort,
with all the strength and knowledge I have acquired in this
field, to clarify and illuminate it from all angles, enough for
any soul to draw the right conclusions, as they truly are,
leaving no room for error, as is often the case in such matters.
What Does the Wisdom Revolve Around?
That question comes to the
mind of every right-minded person. In order to properly address
it, I will provide a reliable and lasting definition, that this
wisdom is no more and no less, than a sequence of roots, which
hang down by way of cause and consequence, in fixed, determined
rules, interweaving to a single, exalted goal described as –
“the revelation of His Godliness to His creatures in this
And here there is the
conduct of particular and general:
General - meaning the whole
of mankind, obligated to eventually come to this immense
evolvement, as it says: “For the earth shall be full of
the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah
11, 9). “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor,
and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord: For they shall
all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them”
(Jeremiah 31, 33). “Yet thy Teacher shall not hide Himself any
more, but thine eyes shall see thy Teacher” (Isaiah 30, 20).
Particular - meaning that
even before the perfection of all mankind, this rule is carried
out in particular individuals. They are the ones who are
endowed, in each generation, with a certain amount of revelation
of His Godliness. These are the prophets and the men of God.
And as our sages said:
“There is no generation, which has not such men as Abraham and
Jacob.” Thus you see that the revelation of His Godliness is
carried out in each generation, as our sages, whom we find
The Multiplicity of Partzufim,
Sefirot and Worlds
However, according to the
above, a question arises - since this wisdom has but the above
unique task, then why is there the matter of the multiplicity of
Partzufim, Sefirot and interchangeable
connections, which are so abundant in the books of Kabbalah?
Indeed, if you take the
body of a small animal, whose only task is to sustain itself,
that it may exist in this world, and father and carry on its
species, you will find in it complexity much greater than a
million fibers and tendons, as physiologists discovered, and
there is so much more for humans yet to find there. From the
above you can conclude the vast variety of compositions needed
to connect, in order to invent and to reveal that sublime end.
Two Conducts: From Above Downward and From
The wisdom of
Kabbalah is generally divided into two parallel identical orders
like two drops in a pond. The only difference between them is
that the first order is drawn from above downward to this world
and the second order travels from below upward, precisely
through the same routes and make-ups imprinted at the root when
they appeared from above downward.
The former conduct is
called - “the order of descent of the worlds, Partzufim
and Sefirot,” with all their occurrences, whether lasting
or transient. The latter is called - “attainments or degrees of
prophecy and Holy Spirit”, that a person who attains it, is
compelled to follow the same paths and attain each detail and
each degree, step by step, precisely by the same rules that were
imprinted in them upon their emanation from above downwards.
A revelation of Godliness
does not appear at once, but gradually, over a period of time,
depending on the cleansing of the perceiver, until all the
degrees from above downward are revealed, and because they come
in an order of attainment, one after the other and one above the
other, as do rungs of a ladder, they are called degrees (steps).
Many believe that all the names and the words
in the wisdom of Kabbalah are a kind of abstract names. It is so
because it deals with Godliness and spirituality, which are
above time and space, where even our imagination has not a hold.
For that reason they have decided that surely, these matters
speak of abstract names, or even more sublime and exalted than
abstract names, as they are completely and from the outset,
devoid of imaginary elements.
But that is not the case.
On the contrary: Kabbalah uses only names that are concrete and
real. It is an unbending rule for all Kabbalists that, “Anything
we do not attain, we do not define by a name and a word.”
Here you must know that the
word “attainment” (Heb: Hasaga) implies the ultimate
degree of understanding. It derives from the phrase - “that thy
hand shall reach” (Heb: Ki Tasig Yadcha). That means that
before something becomes utterly lucid, as though gripped in
one’s hand, the Kabbalists do not consider it attained, but
understood, comprehended and so on.
The Actuality of the Wisdom of Kabbalah
Actual things are found
even in the corporeal reality, set before our eyes, though we
have neither perception nor image of their essence. Such are the
electricity and the magnet, called “fluidum.”
Nevertheless, who can say
that these names are not real, when we vividly and
satisfactorily know their actions? We could not be more
indifferent to the fact that we cannot conceive the essence of
the subject itself, namely electricity itself.
This name is as tangible
and as close to us, as though it were entirely perceived in our
senses. Even little children are familiar with the word
“electricity” as well as they are familiar with words such as:
bread, sugar, and so on.
Moreover, if you wish to
exercise your tools of scrutiny a bit, I shall tell you that as
a whole, as there is no perception of the Creator whatsoever, so
is it impossible to attain the essence of any of His creatures,
even the tangible objects that we feel with our hands.
Our whole acquaintance with
our friends and relatives in the world of action before us is
nothing more than “acquaintance with their actions”. These are
prompted and born from their association of the encounter with
our senses. They render us complete satisfaction though we have
no perception in the essence of the subject.
Furthermore, you have no
perception and attainment whatsoever even in your own essence.
Anything you know about your own essence is nothing more than a
series of actions extending from your essence.
Thus you can easily deduce
that all the names and appellations that appear in books of
Kabbalah are indeed real and factual although we have no
attainment in the subject matter whatsoever. It is thus because
those who engage in it are completely satisfied with their
inclusive perception of its ultimate wholeness, meaning a mere
perception of actions, prompted and born of the association of
the Upper Light and its perceivers.
However, it is quite
sufficient, for this the rule: “All that is measured and
extracted from His providence so as to be realized into the
nature of creation, is of complete sufficiency.” Similarly, one
cannot claim a sixth finger in his hand, because the five are
The Corporeal Terms and the Physical Names
in Books of Kabbalah
Any reasonable person will
understand that when dealing with spiritual matters, much less
Godliness, we haven’t any words or letters with which to
contemplate. This is because our entire vocabulary is but
combinations of the letters of our senses and imagination. Yet,
how can they be of assistance where there are neither
imagination nor senses?
Even if we take the
subtlest word that can be used in this context, meaning the word
“Upper Light”, or even “Simple Light”, it is still borrowed and
lent from the light of the sun, or a candle, or a light of
contentment one feels upon resolving some great doubt, or new
invention. How can we use them in context of the spiritual and
Godly? They offer the examiner nothing more than falsehood and
It is particularly so where
one needs to find some ratio in these words to help one in the
negotiation customary in the research of the wisdom. Here one
must be very strict and accurate using definitive descriptions
for the eyes of the observers.
Should the wise fail with
but a single unsuccessful word, he is certain to confuse and
mislead the readers. They will not understand at all what he is
saying there, before it, after it, and everything connected to
that word. This is known to anyone who examines books of wisdom.
Thus, one should wonder how
is it possible for Kabbalists to use false words in order to
explain the interconnections of this wisdom? Also, it is known
that there is no definition through a false name, for the lie
has no legs and no stance.
Indeed, here you need to
have prior knowledge of the Law of Root and Branch by which the
worlds relate to one another.
The Law of Root and Branch by which the
Worlds Relate to One Another
Kabbalists have found that
the form of the four worlds, named Atzilut, Beria,
Yetzira, Assiya, beginning with the first and
highest world, called Atzilut, and ending in this
corporeal, tangible world, called Assiya, is exactly the
same in every item and event. It means that everything that
eventuates and occurs in the first world is found unchanged in
the second world below it too. It is likewise in all the worlds
that follow it, down to this tangible world.
There is no difference
between them, merely a different degree, perceived in the
substance of each world’s reality. The substance of the items of
the first, uppermost world is purer than the substance of the
lower ones. And the substance of the items of reality of the
second world is coarser than that of the first, but purer than
all that is of lower degree.
It continues similarly down
to this world before us, whose substance of the items of reality
is coarser and darker than all the worlds preceding it. However,
the shapes and the items of reality and all their occurrences
come unchanged and equal in every world, both in quantity and
They compared it to the
conduct of a seal and its imprint. All the shapes found in the
seal are transferred perfectly in every detail and intricacy to
the imprinted object. So it is with the worlds where each lower
world is an imprint of the world above it. Hence, all the forms
found in the higher world, are meticulously copied, in both
quantity and quality, to the lower world.
Thus there is not an item
of reality, or an occurrence of reality that you will not find
its likeness in the world above it, as identical as two drops in
a pond, and they are called “Root and Branch”. That means that
that item found in the lower world is deemed a branch of its
pattern, found in the higher world, being the root of the lower
item, as this is where that item in the lower world was
imprinted and made to be.
That was the intention of
our sages when they said, “You haven’t a blade of grass below
that has not a fortune and a guard above that strike it and
commands it to grow”. It follows that the root, called
“fortune”, compels it to grow and robe its attribute in quantity
and quality, as with the seal and the imprint. This is the law
of Root and Branch in every item of reality in every single
world, relating to the world above it.
The Language of the Kabbalists is a Language
Meaning that the branches
indicate to their roots, being their molds that necessarily
exist in the upper world. This is because there is no reality in
the lower world that is not elicited from its superior. As with
the seal and the imprint, the root in the upper world compels
its branch in the lower one to reveal its entire form and
feature, as our sages said that the fortune in the world above,
related to the grass in the world below, strikes it, forcing it
to complete its growth. Because of that, each and every branch
in this world, well defines its mold, situated in the higher
Thus Kabbalists have found
a set and annotated vocabulary before their eyes, sufficient to
create an excellent spoken language. It enables them to converse
with one another of the dealings in the spiritual roots in the
upper worlds by merely mentioning the tangible branch in this
world that is well defined to our corporeal senses.
The listeners understand
the upper root to which this corporeal branch points through
their own attainment because it is related to it, being its
imprint. Thus, all the beings of the tangible creation and all
their instances have become to them like well defined words and
names. They indicate to their higher spiritual roots. Although
there cannot be a verbal expression in their spiritual setting,
as it is above any imagination, they have earned the right to be
expressed by utterance through their branches, arranged before
our senses here in the tangible world.
That is the nature of the
spoken language among Kabbalists, by which they convey their
spiritual attainments from person to person and from generation
to generation, both by word of mouth and in writing. They fully
understand one another, with the required accuracy needed for
negotiating the study of the wisdom with precise definitions one
cannot fail in. This is so because each branch has its own
unique, absolute and natural definition. This absolute
definition naturally indicates to its root in the higher world.
Bear in mind, that this
Language of the Branches of the wisdom of Kabbalah is better
suited to explain the terms of the wisdom than all our ordinary
tongues. It is known from the theory of nominalism, that the
languages have been disrupted in the mouths of the crowd. In
other words, due to excess use of the words, they have been
emptied of their accurate content, resulting in great
difficulties to convey precise deductions to one another, either
by word of mouth or in writing.
This is not case with the
Language of the Branches since it is derived from the names of
the creations and their occurrences, set before our eyes,
defined by the unchangeable laws of nature. The readers and the
listeners will never be misled into a misunderstanding of the
words before them because the natural definitions are utterly
unwavering and cannot be breached.
Conveyance From a Wise Kabbalist to a
Thus wrote the RAMBAN in
his introduction to his commentary on the Torah: “and I bring
with true covenant to all who scrutinize this book, that of all
the clues that I write in the secrets of the Torah, I resolutely
assert that my words will not be grasped by any mind or
intelligence, except from the mouth of a wise Kabbalist to the
ear of an understanding receiver”. Such as that Rabbi Chaim
Vital wrote in his introduction to The Tree of Life, and also in
the words of our sages (Hagiga, 11): “One does not study the
Kabbalah on one’s own, unless he is wise and understands with
his own mind”.
It is thoroughly understood
when they say that one must receive from a wise Kabbalist. But
why the necessity for the disciple to first be wise and
understanding with his own mind? Moreover, if he isn’t so, then
he must not be taught, be he the most righteous person in the
world. In addition, if one is already wise and understands with
his own mind, what need has he to learn from others?
From the aforesaid their
words are understood with utter simplicity: we have seen that
all the words and utterances our lips pronounce cannot help us
convey even a single word from the spiritual, Godly matters,
above the imaginary time and space. Instead, there is a special
language for these matters, being The Language of the Branches,
indicating their relation to their upper roots.
However, this language,
though extremely suitable for its task of delving in the studies
of this wisdom, is only so if the listener is wise in his own
right, meaning that he knows and understands the way the
branches relate to their roots. It is because these relations
are not at all clear when looking from the lower upwards. In
other words, it is impossible to deduce any semblance in the
upper roots by looking at the lower branches.
Quite the contrary, the
lower is studied from the higher. Thus, one must first attain
the upper roots, the way they truly are in spirituality, above
any imagination, but with pure attainment. Once he has
thoroughly attained the Upper Roots through his own mind, he may
examine the tangible branches in this world and know how each
branch relates to its root in the Upper World, in arrangement,
in quality and quantity.
When one knows and
thoroughly comprehends all that, there is a common language
between him and his teacher, namely The Language of the
Branches. Using it, the wise may convey the studies of the
wisdom, conducted in the Upper, Spiritual Worlds, both the ones
he had received from his teachers and the ones he had discovered
by himself. This is because now they have a common language and
they understand each other.
However, when a disciple is
not wise and comprehends the language on his own, meaning how
the branches indicate to their roots, naturally, the teacher
cannot convey even a single word of this spiritual wisdom, much
less negotiate with him in the scrutiny of the wisdom. This is
so because they have not a common language they can use, and
they become like mute. Thus, it is necessary that the wisdom of
Kabbalah will not be taught unless he is wise and understands
with his own mind.
We must ask further: how
then, has the disciple grown so wise as to know the relation of
branch and root through tracing the Upper
Roots? The answer is that here one’s efforts are in vain; it is
God’s help that we need! He fills those who capture His keen
with wisdom, understanding and knowledge to acquire sublime
attainments. Here it is impossible to be assisted by any flesh
Indeed, once He has grown
fond of a person, and has endowed him with the sublime
attainment, one is then prepared to accept the vastness of the
wisdom from a wise Kabbalist, for now they have a common
Appellations Alien to Human Spirit
With all that is said
above, you will understand why we sometimes find appellations
and terms quite alien to the human spirit in books of Kabbalah.
They are abundant in the fundamental Kabbalah books, which are
the Zohar, the corrections to the Zohar and the books of the
ARI. It is indeed bewildering why these wise men used such lowly
appellations to express such exalted, holy notions?
Yet, you will fully
understand it once you have acquired the above conceptions. This
is because it is now clear that no language in the world can be
used to explain that wisdom, except one that is intended for
just that end, namely The Language of the Branches, relating to
their upper roots.
Thus, obviously, no branch,
or fraction of a branch, should be neglected because of its
inferior degree, or not be used to express the desired concept
in the interconnections in the wisdom, as there is no other
branch in this world to take its place.
As no two hairs suck from
the same foramen, so we do not have two branches that relate to
a single root. Hence, by leaving an incident unused we lose the
spiritual concept corresponding to it in the Upper World, as we
have not a single word to utter in its place and indicate that
root. In addition, such an incident would impair the entire
wisdom in all its vastness, since now there is a missing link in
the chain of the wisdom connected to that concept.
Thus it mutilates the
entire wisdom for there is no other wisdom in the world where
matters are so fused and intertwined, by way of cause and
effect, primary and consequential, as is the wisdom of Kabbalah,
connected head to toe just like a long chain. Therefore, upon
the temporary loss of but a small cognizance, the entire wisdom
darkens before our eyes for all its issues are tied to one
another very strongly, literally fusing into one.
Now you will not wonder at
the occasional use of alien appellations. It is so because they
have no freedom of choice with appellations, to replace the bad
with the good, or the good with the bad. They must always use
the branch, which precisely points to its upper root in all its
necessary measure. Moreover, the subject matters must be
expanded so as to provide an accurate definition for the eyes of
their fellow observers.