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Authentic Kabbalah Part 5

© 2008-2011. A course in Kabbalah by Sephir.
Symbolic Living.

Be sure to read Kabbalah Part 1Part 2,  Part 3 and Part 4 first.

Authentic Kabbalah Part 5

The origin of Creation

Foreword

As we already have some idea what Kabbalah deals with, we can finally attempt to commence directly discussing its subject – the spiritual world. What we learned about in 1st and 2nd lessons is how the spiritual forces affect our world and our lives, and what the attainment of spirituality begins with. We cleared up the way that spiritual forces manifest themselves in corporeal world, and how they affect us. However, today we’re going to talk about spirituality itself – the spiritual root of Creation – and this is what usually kabbalistic books start with.

By “Creation” kabbalists understand one common desire to receive pleasure, as this is the core of everything that exists. What is going to be explained in this lesson constitutes in fact purely abstract concepts , that reach far beyond the world we know.

What is going to be described doesn’t deal with form, time, and space, so in fact, it cannot be compared with anything we have ever seen, or felt, and therefore, it cannot be properly understood at this point of study. Hence, the question that might arise is why should we bother ourselves attempting to study it anyway? The answer is included in the following quote :

While it is great and worthwhile publicizing that there is an incomparably wonderful quality to studying Kabbalah wisdom, even though they do not know what they are studying, it is the tremendous desire to understand what they are studying that awakens the lights surrounding their soul.

Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag – Introduction to Talmud Eser ha Sefirot

This quote briefly describes the method of Kabbalah. The term “Light” (hebr. Ohr) means sensation of the Creator within the Kli, or simply, manifestation of the Creator with reference to a human. However, the term Surrounding Light (hebr. Ohr Makif) indicates manifestation of the Creator that influences Kli in certain way, but the Kli itself cannot feel it yet, because of its dissimilarity in quality with relation to Ohr. The method of Kabbalah consists in triggering influence of Ohr Makif (the force of correction) that gradually transforms a point in the heart into a Kli. In other words, surrounding light corrects the Kli, turning its egoistic quality into altruistic one, so that it matches the Light itself. Triggering off the influence of this powerful force consists in learning about one’s spiritual root, from which he or she descended.

Through attempt to comprehend the spiritual concepts, that in fact we are all connected with, one triggers off a strong influence of Ohr Makif that exerts a pressure on one’s desire, pushing it directly to the spiritual world. Influence of Ohr Makif manifests itself through variety of inner and outside phenomena causing gradual transformation, which turns a point in the heart into a spiritual desire (altruistic quality). This is why it’s worth to study Kabbalah, even though it might seem to be vague at that point. Kabbalah requires repetitive comprehension of the text and work on oneself, until the feelings are equal to the material that’s being studied. This could be compared with the fulfillment of the musician reading the score – the notes give him a complete picture about the work of music. The music sounds in his head without the aid of musical instruments.

So, what I’d like to suggest you is following :

  • Delve deeply into those (at the first sight) abstract concepts and try to understand their inner logic.
  • Do not compare what we’re about to learn with anything you might already know.
  • Do not consider my drawings to be actual depiction of those concepts – they are just to help you to understand logical dependencies.

With time, as we proceed with the lessons, possibly including intermediate and advanced courses, you’ll be gradually revealing those complex spiritual structures within yourself, and then, Kabbalah will become a science speaking directly of you.

Four Phases of Straight Light

It’s important to understand, that although the following description puts in order certain stages of development, it doesn’t mean that there is time whatsoever. The order of phases indicates their hierachy, not their appearance in time. Moreover, when certain stage transform into other, it doesn’t mean that the previous stage disappears, being replaced by a new one. In the spiritual world nothing can disappear – all the stages exist simultaneously, being included in each other. In other words, although Kabbalah speaks of order of stages/levels/phases, there is no time, and no “before” and “later”. The order refers to hierarchy, which exclusively pertains to quality of “object” (meaning, capaity of desire to receive, and its intention).

There are four phases (0, 1, 2, 3, 4) that constitute the orgin of Creation. These phases represent the cause-and-effect development of Kli initiated by straight Light (Ohr Yashar)

0. Bhina Shoresh (Keter)
1. Bhina Alef (Hochma)
2. Bhina Bet (Bina)
3. Bhina Gimel (Zeir Anpin)
4. Bhina Dalet (Malchut)

Here is some short description of each phase :

0. Bhina Shoresh (Keter)

This phase (bhina shoresh means “the root phase”) represents the Creator emanating straight Light. The Light constitutes His desire to create beings and bestow delight upon them. In other words, as opposed to Atzmuto that we know nothing about, the straight Light (Ohr Yashar) is the way that the Creator manifests himself with relation to the Creature, and obviously, this is a manifestation of a pure and powerful altruistic force. Hence, at this point there is no Creature yet, there is only manifestation of the Creator that consists in Light emanated by Him. This phase constitutes the core of Creation, in which 1, 2, 3, 4 phases will be included.


1. Bhina Alef (Hochma)

In this phase (bhina alef means “second phase”) the spreading Light (Ohr) builds for itself the desire to receive pleasure from it (Kli), so that they perfectly match each other. Thus Kli is being filled up with the Light. It’s important to understand, that from now on, Ohr and Kli are inseparably united, because Ohr constitutes a degree of sensation of the Creator within Kli, wheras the Kli itself is the only object capable of sensing the Creator. Hence, one cannot exist without another.

The Light filling up the Kli in this phase is called Ohr Hochma (hebr. – Light of Wisdom) – this is a sort of Light that Kli receives in order to directly fullfil its own desire. This term will be exaplined later on – at this point just keep in mind that Ohr Hochma is a sort of fullfilment based on direct reception.


The Kli in this phase represents inanimate spiritual level – a tiny desire to receive pleasure in order to sustain its existance. There is no freedom of choice, no self-awareness, no tendency to develop, and no awareness of the source of pleasure, that in fact fully controls and dominates the Kli itself. It’s similar to infant suckling a mother’s breast.

2. Bhina Bet (Bina)

As we already know, the attribute of Ohr Yashar is to give, to bear the delight, while the attribute of the Kli consists in receiving, experiencing pleasure. However, when the Light enters the Kli, it begins to transfer to Kli its attributes, and thus, the information of its source – the Creator. Once the Kli senses that there is a source of pleasure, it begins to feel ashamed. It’s written :

He who eats someone else’s bread is ashamed of looking in the giver’s eyes.

Rashbi – Sefer ha Zohar

Feeling the giver while receiving pleasure always triggers a strong sensation of shame, that Kli cannot handle with. We can notice the same in our world. For example: there is a guest and a host. The host treats his guest with delicacies the guest would love to have. (The desire is in perfect fit with the Light in both quantity and quality, because the pleasure-light created the vessel-desire this way). But although the guest is very hungry, the presence of the host makes him feel ashamed, and that stops him from eating. The shame stems from the fact that he feels himself as a receiver, and the host as a giver. The shame is so strong that he can no longer eat. Thus the Kli in this phase wishes to become like the Giver, instead of wanting to receive, it now wants to give without restraint. Therefore it refuses to receive and throws out the Light from inside.

The Light being thrown out is called Ohr Hassadim (Light of Mercy) – this is not a direct pleasure coming from filling up with the Creator. It’s a sort of pleasure coming from feeling equal to the Creator, which is a lot stronger fullfilment.


The Kli in this phase represents vegetative spiritual level. It differes from the previous one in awareness of the source of pleasure and tendency to change ones behavior. However, although Bhina Bet (desire to bestow) constitutes an exact opposition to Bhina Alef (desire to receive), there is still no freedom of choice. Revealing the source of pleasure through the Light was a natural pocess, as well as feeling ashamed because of this. The Kli in this phase is still being fully controled by the Creator.

3. Bhina Gimel (Zeir Anpin)

Being empty of the Light, the Kli begins to consider that the goal of the Light consists in creating a Kli and pleasing it. Clearly, the Kli can only experience pleasure if it receives a certain portion of the Light. The Kli starts feeling that it cannot give unless it receives, as there is nothing to give. Hence it resumes receiving as in Bhina Alef, but of its own free will.

As a result of this decision the third phase emerges – a will to receive as in Bhina Alef combined with a will to bestow as in Bhina Bet. Such a mixed phase is called Bhina Gimel or Zeir Anpin (briefly noted as Z”A), what literally means “a small face” (it’s aramaic expression).

We can continue the story about a host and his guest, to give an example that we can observe in our world. The constant pleas of the host, who have prepared it all for the guest, finally persuade him that the host will enjoy it if he eats. Then the guest thinks that if now, after having rejected the pleasure several times, he will agree to eat, it will be considered a favor to the host. In this way, he will become the giver, and the host, the receiver.

In other words, the Kli in this phase makes a decision to receive the Light in order to please the Creator. Thus the Kli receives two sorts of Light simultaneously : Ohr Hochma and Ohr Hassadim, as it’s being filled up by pleasure coming from direct sensation of the Creator (Ohr Hochma) as well as pleasure coming from being similar to the Creator.

It’s important to stress that Ohr Hassadim consitutes merely 10 percent of the entire fullfilment. The rest is due to Ohr Hochma.

The Kli in this phase represents animate spiritual level. Although Kli might feel otherwise, there is still no freedom of will, and the decision to receive the Light in order to please the Creator is included in the root of Creation, clearly, it happens because of influence of the Light. However, what differes this level from the others is individualism and autonomy. Unlike the vegetative level, animate level is characterized by unique personality of object belonging to it. Hence, for the first time the Kli started to consciously receive the Light, being aware of the situation it’s taking part.

4. Bhina Dalet (Malchut)

After having reached this state, consisting of these two antagonistic elements, the Kli realizes that it is more natural and better to receive than to give without restraint. The original attribute of receiving and
enjoying is rekindled. The Light of Hassadim, which has only filled ten percent of the Vessel, cannot transfer to the Kli the attribute of giving without restraint, which thus leads to the predominance of the original attribute of receiving.

As a result, the Kli decides that it must fill itself with one hundred percent pleasure, receive the entire Light – 100 percent of Ohr Hochma. This is Phase 4, Bhina Dalet or Malchut. Such a completely filled Kli is defined as a true, genuine Creation since its desires come from within itself, which is different from Phase 1, in that it had no independent desires of its own, being filled with the Light because the Creator so wished.

Only at Bhina Dalet the true choice to receive the Light emanating from the Creator is made by the created being itself. This first desire, to receive pleasure from the Light, is born inside the created being.


Bhina Dalet belongs to the spiritual human level, which is characterized by utterly new desire, as for the first time the Kli wants to be pleased not only by the pleasure emanating from the Creator, but also by His essence – it wants to fullfil itself in all possible ways. This phase is named Malchut (Kingship), because the will to receive governs it.

Terminology

This time there is a lot of new terms to learn, and as always, it’s cruacial to know them really well before going ahead. All these terms will be frequently used in the next lesson.

  • Creation
  • Ohr
  • Ohr Yashar
  • Ohr Makif
  • Ohr Hochma
  • Ohr Chassadim
  • Bhina Shoresh
  • Bhina Alef
  • Bhina Bet
  • Bhina Gimel
  • Bhina Dalet

Coming up next in Kabbalah Part 6

Generally, in Kabbalah we study two stages: (1) the descent of the created being from above, while it develops from the very idea, as conceived by the Creator, up to the level of our world and (2) the ascent of man from our world all the way to the highest degree. What we have just started to talk about consists in the stage 1, meaning, the descent of the created being from above. This is indeed a very profound area to learn, therefore it’s not going to be fully explained in this course. However this is the area we’ll be focusing during next lessons – thus trying to gradually clearify the basic concepts that Kabbalah is all about. Next lesson will be mainly about further development of Malchut. We’ll be learning about the orgin of spiritual worlds, partzufim, as well as the entire path that each of us will have to go through in order to bond with the Creator.

© 2008-2011. A course in Kabbalah by Sephir.
Symbolic Living.

Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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