Table of Contents
First, we must know that when dealing with spiritual matters, which have no concern with time, space or motion, and moreover when dealing with Godliness, we do not have the words by which to contemplate and express. 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 contentment. 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 or legs in this whole matter.
For this reason, the sages of the Kabbalah have chosen a special language that 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 derive from 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, so 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 great confusion in the entire scope of the wisdom, since there is no other wisdom in the world where matters are so intermingled through cause and effect, reason and consequence as in the wisdom of Kabbalah, where 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 or 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 readers.
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 the matter in the spoken language, which is necessarily like translating from one language to another, meaning from the language of the branches to the spoken language, only then he will 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 or mistake. With the understanding of these ten Sefirot, one will also come to examine and know how to comprehend the rest of the issues in this wisdom.
“Know that before the emanated beings were emanated and the created beings created, an upper simple light had filled the whole of reality” (Tree of Life, 1:1). These words require explanation: How was there a reality that the simple light had filled before the worlds were emanated? Also, the matter of the ascent of the desire in order to be restricted so as to bring to light the perfection of His deeds. It is implied in the book that there was already some deficiency there.
Also, the issue of the middle point in Him, where the restriction occurred, is also quite perplexing, for he had already said that there is neither beginning nor end there, so how is there a middle? Indeed these words are deeper than the sea, and I must therefore elaborate on their interpretation.
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?
This matter has already been thoroughly explained in the books, but we must understand the concepts that are separated or opposite for us, such as 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 discerned as separate.
However, in Him, wisdom, pleasure, sweetness and acerbity, 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 self. “Unified” shows that although He performs the multiple operations, one force 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. Nachmanides explained to us the matter of His uniqueness, as “One, Unique, and Unified.” These are his words in his commentary on The Book of Creation, Chapter 1, 47: There is a difference between One, Unique, and Unified: When He unites to act with one force, He is called “Unified.” When He divides to act His act, each part of Him is called “Unique.” When He is in a single evenness, He is called “One.” Thus far his pure words.
Interpretation: “Unites to act with one force” means that His operations differ from each other and He seems to be doing good and bad. At that time, He is called “Unique” since all His different operations have a single outcome: doing good.
We find that He is unique in every single act and does not change by His different operations. “When He is in a single evenness,” meaning “One,” it points to His self, for in Him, all the opposites are in “single evenness,” as written above. It is as Maimonides wrote, “In Him, the one who knows, the known and the knowledge are one, for His thoughts are far higher than our thoughts, and His ways from our ways.”
2) We should learn from those who ate the manna. Manna is called “bread from heaven” because it did not materialize when clothing in this world. Our sages said that each one tasted in it everything he wanted.
This means that it had to have contained opposite forms: One person tasted it as sweet and another tasted it as acrid and bitter. Thus, the manna itself had to have contained both opposites together, for can one give what is not in him? Thus, how can there be two opposites in one subject?
It is therefore necessary that it is simple and devoid of both flavors, but is only included in them in a way that the corporeal receiver might discern the taste that one wants. Likewise, you can understand that anything spiritual is unique and simple in itself, but contains all the myriad forms in the world. When it comes to corporeal, limited receiver, the receiver makes in it a separate form from all the myriad forms united in that spiritual essence.
We should therefore always distinguish two discernments in His bestowal: The first is the form of the essence of that upper abundance before it is received, when it is still an inclusive, simple light. The second is that after the abundance has been received, for by this it acquired one separate form according to the properties of the receiver.
3) Now we can come to understand what the Kabbalists wrote 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 from a mountain. The essence of the mountain and the essence of the stone are the same and there is no distinction between the stone and the mountain, except that the stone is a part of the mountain, and the mountain is the Whole, thus far the essence of their words.
These words seem utterly perplexing, and the most difficult is to understand how it is possible to discern a difference and a part in Godliness to the point of resembling it to a stone that is carved from a mountain. The stone is carved from the mountain by an ax and a sledgehammer. But in Godliness, how and what would separate them from one another?
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.
You now 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, and remember this well.
5) We are still not content. In this world, in souls of people, in relation to the soul, of which it was said to be 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 that contains the whole abundance 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 [infinity/no end] prior to the restriction, for in the reality before us, all the worlds, upper ones and lower ones, are discerned by two discernments: The first discernment is the form of this entire reality as it is prior to the restriction. At that time, everything was without a boundary and without an end. This discernment is called “the light of Ein Sof.” The second discernment is the form of this entire reality from the restriction downward. 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 or perception whatsoever in His self, and there is no name or appellation in Him, anything that we do not attain, how can we define it by a name? Any name implies attainment, indicating that we have attained it as that name. Thus, it is certain that there is no name or appellation whatsoever in His self, and all the names and appellations are but in His light which expands from Him. The expansion of His light prior to the restriction, which had filled the whole of reality, without a boundary or an end, is called Ein Sof. Thus, we should understand how the light of Ein Sof is defined in and of itself, and has departed from His self to the point that we may define it by a name, as we have said about the soul.
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 operation without a purpose? And what is that purpose for which He has invented this entire 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 observe Torah and Mitzvot [commandments], etc., and this is well known. However, we should understand this question of our sages, who asked about it: “If the purpose of the creation of the worlds was 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 murky and filthy body?”
They explained it with the verse, “One who eats that which is not one’s own is afraid to look upon one’s face.” This means there is a flaw of shame in any free gift. To spare the souls this blemish, He has created this world where there is work, and they will enjoy their labor in the future, for they take their whole reward in return for their work, and are thus spared the blemish of shame.
7) These words of theirs are perplexing through and through. First bewilderment: Our primary aim and prayer is “Spare us the treasure of 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, so as to take the reward for their work and labor in the next world.
But their answer is very odd. What is this like? It is like a person who says to his friend, “Work with me for just one moment, 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 this, since the reward is utterly incomparable with the work, for the work is in this world, a transient, worthless world compared to the reward and the pleasure in the eternal world, for 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 said, “The Creator is destined to bequeath each and every righteous 310 worlds, etc.” 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.
8) Before we delve into the explanation of their words, we must understand His thought in creating the worlds and the reality before us. His operations did not come to be by many thoughts, as is our way, for He is one, unique, and unified. And as He is simple, His lights, which extend from Him, are simple and unified, without any proliferation of forms, as it is written, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways.”
Therefore, understand and perceive that all the names and appellations, and all the worlds, upper and lower, are all one simple, unique, and unified light. In the Creator, the light that extends, the thought, the operation, 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 ones and lower ones as one, in its final state of the end of correction, was emanated and created with a single thought. That single thought performs all the operations; it is the essence of all the operations, the purpose and the essence of the labor. It is by itself the very perfection and the sought-after reward, as Nachmanides wrote, “one, unique, and unified.”
9) The ARI elaborated on the matter of the first restriction in the first chapters of this book. This is a very serious matter as it is necessary that all the corruptions and all the various shortcomings extend and come from Him.
It is written, “the maker of light and creator of darkness,” but then 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 light and the pleasure in the thought of creation?
We cannot say that they are two separate thoughts; God forbid that we should even think that. Thus, how does all this 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?
10) Now we shall come to clarify the thought of creation. Certainly, “The end of the work is in the preliminary thought.” Even in corporeal humans, with their many thoughts, the end of the work is 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 in which to dwell.
Therefore, it is preceded by many thoughts and many actions until this shape that he had predesigned is completed. This shape is what appears at the end of all his operations. Thus, you see that “The end of the work is in the preliminary thought.”
The end of the work, which is the axis and the purpose for which all these were created, is to delight His creations, as it is written in The Zohar. It is known that His thought ends and acts immediately, for He is not a human, who is impelled to act. Rather, the thought itself completes the entire work at once.
Hence, we can see that as soon as He thought about creation, to delight His created beings, 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,” and understand this thoroughly since it is a place where they instructed to be concise. Know that we call this thought of creation “the light of Ein Sof [infinity/no end]” since we do not have a single word or utterance in His essence to define Him by any name at all, and remember this.
11) The Ari said that in the beginning, an upper simple light had filled the whole of reality. This means that since the Creator contemplated delighting the created beings and the light expanded from Him and seemingly departed Him, the desire to receive His pleasure was immediately imprinted in this light.
You can also determine that this desire is the full measure of the expanding light, meaning that the measure of His light and 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 light through the power of His thought, by the name, “place.” For instance, when we say that a person has a stomach big enough to eat a pound of bread, while another person cannot eat more than half a pound of bread, which place are we talking about? It is not the size of the intestines, but the measure of the 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.
12) By this we can learn why the light of Ein Sof departed from His self, in which we cannot utter any word, and became defined by the name “light of Ein Sof.” It is because of this above discernment that the will to receive from His self is included in this light. This is a new form that is not included whatsoever in His self, as from whom would He receive? This form is also the full measure of this light. Examine this well for it is impossible to elaborate here.
13) In His almightiness, this new form would not have been defined as a change from His light, as it is written in Pirkey de Rabbi Eliezer, “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 the will to receive from His self, contained in the light of Ein Sof. He tells us that He and His name are one. “His name” is Malchut of Ein Sof, being the desire, namely the will to receive that has been imprinted in the entire reality contained in the thought of creation. Prior to the restriction, no disparity of form and difference from the light was discerned in it, and the light and the “place” are truly one. Had there been any difference and deficiency in the place compared to the light of Ein Sof, there would certainly have been two discernments there.
14) This is the meaning of the restriction, that the will to receive that is contained in the light of Ein Sof, called Malchut of 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 self. Hence, she diminished her will to receive His abundance in phase four in the desire. Her intention was that by so doing, the worlds would be emanated and created down to this world.
In this manner, 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, consequently, the light departed from there, 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.
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 until it 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 said, you find one form that is not contained in Him, namely the form of the will to receive, as from whom would He receive?
However, the souls, whose creation came about only 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. This 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. According to the measure of disparity of form from one another, so is the measure of the distance between them. If the disparity of form comes to complete oppositeness, from one extreme to the other, they become completely severed and distinct, to the point where they can no longer suckle from one another, for they are regarded as alien to each other.
16) After the restriction and the screen that were placed on that vessel called “will to receive,” it was canceled and departed from the system of Kedusha. In its stead, the reflected light became the vessel of reception, (as it is written in Part 3).
Know that this is the whole difference between ABYA of Kedusha and ABYA of Tuma’a. The vessels of reception of ABYA of Kedusha are from the reflected light that is established in equivalence of form with Ein Sof, while ABYA of Tuma’a use the will to receive that was restricted, being the opposite form from Ein Sof. That makes them separated and cut off from the “Life of Lives,” namely Ein Sof.
17) Now you can understand the root of the corruptions that were incorporated promptly in the thought of creation, which is to delight His created beings. After the cascading of the five general worlds, Adam Kadmon and ABYA, the Klipot appeared in the four worlds ABYA of Tuma’a, too, as in “God has made them one opposite the other.” In that state, the turbid, corporeal body is set before us, of which it was said, “For the inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth.” This is so because its entire nursing from its youth is from the yeast of the Klipot. The whole matter of Klipot and Tuma’a is the form of the desire only to receive that they have, and they have nothing of the will to bestow.
By this they are opposite from Him, for He has no will to receive whatsoever, and all He wants is to delight and bestow. This is why the Klipot are called “dead,” since their oppositeness of form from the Life of Lives severs them from Him and they have nothing of His abundance.
Hence, the body, too, which feeds on the yeast of the Klipot, is also severed from life and is filled with filth. And all of this is because of the will to only receive and not to bestow that is imprinted in it. Its desire is always open to receive the whole world into its stomach. This is why “The wicked, in their lives, are called ‘dead,’” since their fundamental disparity of form from their root, where they have nothing of the quality of bestowal, severs them from Him and they become truly dead.
Although it seems that the wicked, 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, they do for themselves, as their aim is primarily for themselves and for their own glory.”
But the righteous, who engage in Torah and Mitzvot [commandments] not in order to receive reward but to bestow contentment upon their Maker, thus refine their bodies and invert their vessels of reception to the form of bestowal.
It is as our teacher said, “It is known and revealed,” etc., “and I did not enjoy even with the little finger” (Ketubot 104). This makes them completely adhered to Him, for their form is identical to their Maker without any disparity of form. Our sages said about the verse, “Say unto Zion: ‘You are My people.’” It was interpreted in the “Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” Item 67, 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.
18) Know that the whole matter of innovation that the Creator had innovated with this creation, which our sages said He elicited existence from absence, applies only to the form of the desire to enjoy imprinted in every created being. Nothing more was innovated in creation, and this is the meaning of “maker of light and creator of darkness.” Nachmanides interpreted the word “Creator” as indicating a novelty, meaning something that did not exist before.
You see that it does not say, “create light,” since there is no innovation in it by way of 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 included in Him; hence, there is no innovation in them. This is why it is written, “The maker of light,” indicating that there is no innovations or creation in it.
However, it is said of the darkness, which contains every unpleasant sensation and conception, “and creator of darkness.” This is because He invented them literally existence from absence. In other words, it does not exist in His reality whatsoever, but was rather innovated now. The root of all of them is the form of the “will to enjoy” included in His lights, which expand from Him.
Initially, it is only darker than the upper light, and is therefore called “darkness” compared to the light. But finally, the Klipot [shells/peels], Sitra Achra [other side], and the wicked cascade and emerge because of it, which cuts them off entirely from the root of life.
This is the meaning of the verse “Her legs descend to death.” “Her legs” indicate the end of something. He says that in the end, death cascades from the legs of Malchut—the desire to enjoy that exists in the expansion of His light—to the Sitra Achra and to those that feed off her and follow her.
19) We can ask, “Since this disparity of form of the will to receive must be in the created beings, for how else would they extend from Him and shift from being Creator to being created beings?” 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, as we have said above, for which it is called a “place.”
Thus, how can we say about it that it is called “darkness” and extends to the 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 this great anxiety that comes to the receivers because of the disparity of form from His self and why the great wrath about it.
To explain this subtle matter sufficiently, we must first clarify the origin of all the pleasures and sufferings felt in our world. Know this: It is known that the nature of every branch is equal to its root. Therefore, the branch desires, loves, and covets every conduct in the root, and does not tolerate and hates any conduct that is not in the root.
This is an unbreakable law that applies to 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 movement, 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, power, wealth, and all the virtues because they are contained 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, making 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 from the opposite of creation itself. It is like a wealthy man who called on a poor fellow, fed him and gave him drinks, and granted him silver and gold every single day, and each day more than the day before.
Note that this man simultaneously tastes two distinct flavors in the great gifts of the rich man: On the one hand, he tastes immeasurable pleasure due to the abundance of his gifts. On the other hand, it is hard for him to tolerate the abundant benefits and he is ashamed when receiving it. This matter causes him intolerance due to the abundant gifts showered on him every time.
It is certain that his pleasure from the gifts extends to him 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 because of the reception and the free gift. The truth is that this, too, comes to him from the rich man, of course, but indirectly.
20) From all the above-said, we learn that all the forms that extend indirectly to us from Him present a difficulty for our patience and are against our nature. By this 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. Were it not for this, there would be no creation here at all. However, the receiver, who is the carrier of this form, feels the intolerance due to his “self” since this form does not exist in his root.
By this we have succeeded in understanding 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 upon one’s face.” This seems very perplexing, but now their words feel very pleasant to us, for they refer to the matter of disparity of form of 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 upon one’s face.” That is, any receiver of a present is ashamed when receiving it due to the disparity of form from the Root since the root does not have that form of reception. In order to correct this, He created this world where the soul comes and clothes a body. Through engagement in Torah and Mitzvot [commandments] in order to bring contentment to his Maker, the soul’s vessels of reception are inverted into 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 upon her face, and this reveals the complete perfection of the created being. The need and necessity for the long cascading to this world will be explained below, that this great labor of turning the form of reception into the form of bestowal can only be conceived in this world.
21) Come and see that the wicked lose twofold for they hold both ends of the rope. This world is created with absence and emptiness of all the good abundance, and in order to acquire possessions we need movement. 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 this, too, is in contrast with the root, since the root is filled abundantly. Hence, we choose the torment of movement in order to acquire filling with possessions.
However, because all their possessions and property are for themselves alone, and “he who has a hundred wants two hundred,” it follows that “One does not die with half one’s wishes in one’s hand.” Thus, 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 in their land will inherit twofold.” In other words, once they turn their will to receive into a desire to bestow, and what they receive is in order to bestow, they inherit twofold. Not only do they attain the perfection of the pleasures and a variety of possessions, they also acquire the equivalence of form with their Maker. Thus, they come to true adhesion and are also at rest since the abundance comes to them by itself, without any movement or effort.
22) Now that we have been rewarded with all the above, we will have some understanding of His uniqueness, that His thoughts are not our thoughts, and all the abundance of matters and forms we perceive in this reality before us is united in Him in a single thought, being the thought of creation to delight His creations. This singular thought encompasses the whole of reality in perfect unity through the end of correction, for this is the whole 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 created beings. Because He contemplated delighting us, it necessarily occurred in us that we receive His good abundance.
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 Creator and become a created being, and from being the Operator we become the operation.
This is the labor and the work. Due to the force that operates in the operated, the will to receive increases in us as the worlds cascade until we become a separated body in this world, opposite in form from The Life of Lives, who does not bestow outside of itself at all, which brings death to the bodies and every kind of torment and labor to the soul.
This is the meaning of the work of 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 in order to bestow contentment upon the Maker, our vessels of reception gradually turn into vessels of bestowal, and this is the whole sought-after reward.
The more uncorrected our vessels of reception, the more we cannot open our mouths to receive His abundance, for fear of disparity of form, as in “One who eats that which is not one’s own, is afraid to look upon one’s face,” as this was the reason for the first restriction. However, when we correct our vessels of reception to work in order to bestow, we thereby equalize our vessels 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, the form of the corruptions and corrections, and the form of the labor and its reward are all included in His singular thought. In simple words, it is “to delight His created beings,” precisely that, no less and no more.
The whole variety of concepts is also included in that thought, both the concepts in our holy Torah, and those of external teachings. All the many creations and worlds and various conducts in each and every one stem from this singular thought, as I will explain below in their proper place.
23) According to the above, we can understand what is presented in Tikkuney Zohar [part of The Zohar] regarding Malchut of Ein Sof, for which the doors trembled from the cries of the doubtful that it was possible to recognize a Malchut in Ein Sof? For if we can, it means that there are the first 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 of Ein Sof. However, Malchut did not place a boundary and an end on the light of Ein Sof there because the disparity of form due to the will to receive had not yet become apparent in her. This is why it is called Ein Sof, meaning that Malchut does not put a stop there. Conversely, from the restriction downward, an end was made in each Sefira and Partzuf by the force of Malchut.
24) Let us elaborate a little on this matter, to fully understand the end that occurred in Malchut. First, we will explain what the Kabbalists have determined and is presented in The Zohar and the Tikkunim, that there is no light, great or small, in the upper worlds or in the lower worlds that is not arranged in the order of the four-letter name HaVaYaH.
This goes hand in hand with the law presented in Tree of Life, that there is no light in the worlds that is not clothed in a vessel. I have already explained the difference between His self and the light that expands from Him, that it is only due to the desire to enjoy that is contained in His expanding light, being a disparity of form from His self, for He does not have this desire.
This defines the expanding light by the name “emanated being” because due to this disparity of form, the light emerges from being the Emanator and becomes an emanated being. It is also explained that the desire 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, not less and not more.
It also explains that this matter of the will to receive is the very innovation 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 included in His self whatsoever, and the Creator has only now created it for the purpose of creation. This is the meaning of “and creates darkness,” since this form is the root of the 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: The first discernment is the expanding light itself, before the form of “desire to enjoy” appears in it. The second discernment 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 vessel. For this reason, any expanding light consists of four phases in the impression on the vessel. This is because the form of the will to receive, called “a vessel to the expanding light,” is not completed at once, but by way of operator and operated. There are two discernments in the operator and two discernments in the operated. They are called “potential” and “actual” in the operator, and “potential” and “actual” in the operated, which make up four discernments.
25) Because the vessel is the root of the darkness, as it is opposite from the light, it must therefore be activated slowly, gradually, by way of cause and consequence. This is the meaning of the verse: “The water conceived and begot darkness” (Midrash Rabbah, Shemot, Chapter 22).
The darkness is a result of the light itself and is operated by it, as in conception and birth, meaning potential and actual. This means that the will to receive is necessarily included in any expanding light. However, it is not regarded as a disparity of form before this desire is clearly set in the light.
The will to receive that is included in the light by the Emanator is not enough for this. Rather, the emanated being itself must independently reveal the will to receive in him, in practice, meaning of his own choice. This means that he must extend abundance through his own will, more than the measure of the light of the expansion in him by the Emanator.
After the emanated being is operated by its own choice by increasing the measure of its desire, the yearning and the will to receive become fixed in it, and the light can clothe this vessel permanently.
It is true that the light of Ein Sof seemingly expands over all four phases, reaching the full measure of the desire by the emanated being itself, being phase four, since it would not emerge from His self anyhow and acquire a name for himself, meaning Ein Sof.
However, in His almightiness, the form did not change at all because of the will to receive, and no change is distinguished there between the light and the place of the light, which is the desire to enjoy; they are one and the same thing.
It is written in Pirkey de Rabbi Eliezer, “Before the world was created, there was 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 precedes the restriction. Even though there is a place there and a will to receive the abundance from His self, it is still without change and distinction between the light and the “place.”
“He is one” means the light of Ein Sof. “His name is one” means the desire to enjoy included there without any change whatsoever. Understand what our sages implied, that “His name” is desire in Gematria, meaning the “desire to enjoy.”
26) It has already been explained regarding “The end of the work is in the preliminary thought,” that it is the thought of creation, which expanded from His self in order to delight His creations. 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 self contains the whole of reality before us through the end of the future correction, which is the end of the work. In Him, all the creations are already complete with all their perfection and joy that He wished to bestow upon them. This reality, which is complete sufficiently, is called “the light of Ein Sof,” and that which contains them is called Malchut of Ein Sof.
27) It has already been explained that the middle point, which is the comprehensive point of the thought of creation, namely the will to enjoy in it, embellished itself to enhance its 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 phase, which is the complete Gadlut [greatness/adulthood] of the will to receive, to increase the adhesion] 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 desire only from phase four, it is the nature of the spiritual that it is indivisible.
28) Afterwards, the light of Ein Sof extended once more to the place that was emptied. It did not fill the entire place in all four phases, but only three phases, as was the desire of the point of restriction. Hence, the middle point that has been restricted remained empty and hollow since the light illuminated only through phase four, but not all the way, and the light of Ein Sof stopped there.
We will henceforth explain the matter of the incorporation of the phases in one another applied in the upper worlds. Now you see that the four phases are incorporated in one another in such a way that within phase four itself there are all four phases, too. Thus, in phase four, too, the light of Ein Sof reached the first three phases in it, and only the last phase in phase four remained empty and without light.
29) Now we will explain the meaning of the four phases of cause and consequence, necessary to complete the form of the will to receive, as in “The water conceived and begot darkness.” There are two discernments in the light in Atzilut. The first discernment is called “light,” which is Hochma, and the second discernment is called “water,” which is Hassadim.
The first discernment extends from above downward without any assistance from the lower one. The second discernment extends with the help of the lower one, hence the name “water,” for it is the nature of the light, whose foundation is above, and the nature of the water, whose foundation is below.
There are also two discernments in the water itself: upper water, by phase two in the four phases, and lower water, by phase four in the four phases.
30) For this reason, any expansion of the light of Ein Sof consists of ten Sefirot since the light of 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 full 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 will to receive does not actually become apparent before the desire awakens in the emanated being 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. By this, the will to receive appears in practice in that light and acquires the form of the innovation through a slight disparity of form, for by this it becomes darker than the light, since it grew coarser by the new form.
Also, this part, which has become coarser, is called Bina. This is the meaning of “I am Bina [understanding], mine is the Gevura [strength].” In truth, Bina is a part of Hochma, meaning the actual light of expansion of Ein Sof. However, 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 slightly coarser 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 intensification of her desire is called “light of Hassadim,” or “upper water.” This is because this light does not extend directly from Ein Sof like the light of Hochma, but through the assistance of the emanated being who intensified the desire. Hence, it merits its own name, to be called “light of Hassadim” or “water.”
Now you find that the Sefira Bina consists of three discernments of light: The first discernment is the light of Bina itself, which is a part of the light of Hochma. The second is her growing coarser and the disparity of form in her, acquired by the intensification of the desire. The third discernment is the light of Hassadim that came to her through her own extension from Ein Sof.
However, this still does not complete the entire vessel of reception, since the essence of Bina is the light of Hochma, which is very exalted, a direct expansion from the light of Ein Sof. Consequently, only the root for the vessels of reception and the operator for the operation of the vessel appeared in Bina.
Afterward, that same light of 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 light of Hassadim is called Zeir Anpin, or HGT.
This light of expansion also increased its desire to extend a new abundance, more than the measure of illumination of Hochma in its expansion from Bina. This expansion is also regarded as two phases because the light of the expansion itself is called ZA or VAK, while the intensification in it is called Malchut.
This is how we come by the ten Sefirot: Keter is Ein Sof; Hochma is the light of the expansion from Ein Sof; Bina is the light of Hochma that intensified in order to increase abundance, by which it grew coarser. ZA, which consists of HGT NHY, is light of Hassadim with illumination of Hochma that expands from Bina, and Malchut is the second intensification to add illumination of Hochma more than there is in ZA.
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 creations, namely the vessel of Keter. Yod is Hochma, meaning phase one, which is the potential in the actual that is immediately contained in the light of the expansion of Ein Sof. The first Hey is Bina, meaning phase two, regarded as the actualization of the potential, meaning the light that has grown coarser than Hochma.
Vav is Zeir Anpin or HGT NHY, meaning the expansion of light of Hassadim that emerged through Bina. This is phase three, the potential for revealing the operation, the bottom Hey in HaVaYaH. It is Malchut, meaning phase four, the complete manifestation of the act in the vessel of reception that has intensified to extend more abundance than its measure of expansion from Bina. This completes the form of the will to receive and the light that clothes its vessel, being the will to receive that is completed only in this fourth phase and not before.
Now you can easily see that there is no light in the upper ones and lower worlds that is not arranged under the four-letter Name, being the four phases. Without it, the will to receive that should be in every light is incomplete, for this desire is the place and the measure of that light.
32) This might surprise us, since Yod implies Hochma and Hey implies Bina, and the entire light itself that exists in the Ten Sefirot is in the Sefira of Hochma, while Bina, Zeir Anpin, and Malchut are merely garments 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 measure and amount of light in the ten Sefirot. Instead, they indicate measures of impression of the vessel. 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 vessels.
Thus, because Keter is only discerned as the root of the root of the vessel, it is implied only in the tip of the Yod. Hochma, which is the potential that has not appeared in practice, is implied by the smallest of the letters, namely the Yod.
Bina, in which the potential is carried out in practice, is indicated by the widest letter, the Hey. Since ZA is only the potential for revealing the act, it is implied by a long and thin letter, which is the Vav. Its thinness indicates that the essence of the vessel is still concealed in it in potential, in hiding. The length of the line indicates that at the end of its expansion, the complete vessel appears through it.
Hochma did not manage to reveals the complete vessel through her expansion, for Bina is still an incomplete vessel; rather, it is the operator of the vessel. This is why the leg of the Yod is short, implying that it is still short and did not reveal a complete vessel through the force concealed in it and through its expansion.
Malchut, too, is 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 because in the world of correction they are indeed similar and lend their vessels to one another, as in the verse, “And they two went.”
33) We should still explain 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 new form. We denominate every new form by the title “movement.” That innovation, meaning a new change of form that has occurred in the spiritual, unlike its general preceding form in that spiritual, is regarded as having been divided and distanced from that spiritual. It is considered to have emerged with its own name and authority, by which it is exactly like a corporeal being that some part departed from it and moves about from place to place. Hence, the new form is called “movement.”
34) Concerning the spiritual definition of time, understand that for us, the whole concept of time is only a sensation of movements. Our imagination pictures and devises a certain number of consecutive movements that it senses one by one and interprets them as 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 new forms is regarded as “spiritual movements” which are intermingled in one another by way of cause and consequence, and they are called “time” in spirituality. Also, “before” and “after” always mean “cause and consequence.”
35) Know that the will to receive in the emanated being, it has been clarified that it is its vessel. Know also that it is all the general substance attributed to the emanated being. It follows that all that exists besides it is attributed to the Emanator.
36) Although we perceive the will to receive as an incident and a form in the essence, but how do we perceive it as the substance of the essence? Indeed, it is the same with essences that are near us. We call 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, hearing, 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, which are separated through a chemical process, they, too, are merely abstract forms that appear that way to the eye. More precisely, we distinguish and discern them by the ways of the will to receive and to be received that we find in them.
Following these operations, 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 and 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 much more so in the upper worlds, where tangible and imaginary do not apply.