21 Tamuz 5779 / Wednesday, July 24, 2019 | Torah Reading: mattot
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Manifestation of the Sefirot, Part 3    

Manifestation of the Sefirot, Part 3

When a prophet sees a vision, likeness or image, he understands the hidden level...


Opening 7, continued:
Having explained that the powers (Sefirot) with which God created and governs the worlds appear by way of radiation, we continue to explain the principles governing how this radiation appears.
But one who examines them will see that in truth, the form and likeness are purely contingent upon the observer. This principle is expressed in the verse: "To whom then will you liken Me that I should be equal? says the Holy One" (Isaiah 40:5). What this means is that the prophets are not left with the illusion that this is the way it actually is, God forbid.
As I have already said, the prophet sees the vision, likeness or image and understands the hidden level. When he attains his prophecy, he sees clearly that the picture in his vision is a likeness contingent upon the observer and not an integral aspect of the essence of that which is observed. The prophet himself understands this at the very time of the prophetic vision, as it says: "To whom, then, will you liken God and what likeness will you compare to Him?" (Isaiah 40:18).
Thus Moses warned Israel: "And guard your souls very much, for you did not see any image on the day that HaShem your God spoke to you at Horeb from out of the fire" (Deuteronomy 5:15). They were warned not to allow what they saw to cause them to err. They were to know that the entire vision was only prophetic, as they understood at the very time they saw it. Similarly, the rabbis said: "Since He was revealed to them at the sea as mighty [= Zeir Anpin], whereas at the Giving of the Torah He appeared in His attribute of kindness [= Arich Anpin], the verse states: 'I am HaShem your God', so as not to leave room to say there are two domains." (Mechilta Exodus 20:2). This was so that they should not fall into error because of what they saw in the vision but that they should understand the underlying truth of what they saw in the proper way.
As stated in the verse: " And in the hand of the prophets I have used likenesses" (Hosea 12:11): The meaning of the phrase, "In the hand of the prophets" is that the image (the "likeness") is formed in the mind of the prophets but is not integral to the Sefirot themselves. Each sees on his own level of perception and attainment, and the image is formed in his mind accordingly. Thus the Kabbalists said that "the hand of the prophets" refers to the attribute of Malchut (kingship, rule and control), which includes the power to form images.
In their essence, however, the Sefirot are only an extended array of powers. As explained earlier, everything is one deep plan, a composite weave of just so many powers ordered in such a way that each holds sway only at its own designated time and in its own specific manner. This is called "an extended array of powers". This array of powers "extends" and "spreads" in the sense that they are revealed in a variety of different ways according to specific, fixed rules.
They are organized in their necessary order... This indicates that the order does not consist of scattered, separate, unrelated parts, but that a single, general, all-encompassing order underlies the revelation of each of the different powers, for everything was calculated in such a way as to lead to the ultimate goal.
They are interdependent in their various laws. This indicates that the reason why we see states in which one power is clothed and garbed in another is because these powers are truly interdependent in the way they rule and function, in the sense that the functioning of one of them results from the functioning of others. In this way the Supreme Mind created a weave from which all the different phenomena we see revealed in the world emerge.
...and influenced by one another... In other words, the various chains of cause and effect and states of expanded consciousness discussed in the Kabbalah are bound up with the mutual influence of the various powers and laws on each other, as required according to the perfection of the entire ordered plan. For as we have explained, all these pathways were calculated in accordance with the overall goal of bringing the entire creation to perfection.
To be continued.
(Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum is the director of Azamra (http://www.azamra.org/).

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