Rabbi Azriel of Gerona's Text

QUESTION: If a questioner asks: Who can compel me to believe in Eyn-Sof?

ANSWER: Know that everything visible and perceivable to human contemplation is limited, and that everything that is limited is finite, and that everything that is finite is insignificant. Conversely, that which is not limited is called Eyn-Sof and is absolutely undifferentiated in a complete and changeless unity. And if He is truly without limit, than nothing exists outside Him. And since He is both exalted and hidden, He is the essence of all that is concealed and revealed. But since He is hidden, He is both the root of faith and the root of rebelliousness. Regarding this it is written: "In his faith a righteous man shall live" (Habakkuk 2:4). Furthermore, the philosophers are in agreement with these statements that our perception of Him cannot be except by way of negative attribution. And that which radiates forth from Eyn-Sof are the ten sefirot. And this is sufficient for the enlightened.

Reb Yakov Leib's Commentary

Ayn-Sof is the pre-mundane, undifferentiated condition of the God-head in which everything and, therefore, nothing is contained. It is this undifferentiated Unity that will explode into disunity at the moment of Shevirit ha-Kelim -- the "Shattering of the Vessels" (i.e., the Ten Sefirot) -- that accompanies the act of creation as described by R. Isaac Luria.

Thus, metaphorically speaking, the YH splits apart from the VH -- and it falls to man to "repair the face of God," to return it to its wholeness so that, "YHVH shall be King over all the earth, [and] on that day YHVH shall be One, and his name One." (Zechariah 14:9; also the "Alenu" of Shakrit, the Jewish Morning Prayer Service.)

A primary principle of Kabbalah is, "As above, so below" -- or the doctrine that whatever a person does or thinks on this earthly plane has, through his Kavannah (or mystical intentionality), a corresponding "action" or "thought" on the supernal plane. (The reverse, of course, is also true: whatever transpires in "heaven" has a corresponding effect on "earth".)

We see this echoed in the so-called "Lord's Prayer" of "Jesus" when he says, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." And in the Zohar we read, "Come and see: the world above and the world below are perfectly balanced." (Zohar 2:176b) And the Midrash states, "Both heaven and earth are balanced by each other." (Bereshit Raba 1:15)

Now whether we agree with this or not, the remarkable fact remains that this pre-scientific, Kabbalistic notion of "as above, so below" literally has been confirmed by quantum mechanics physics which also states that one cannot think of, or perform, an action that does not have a similar result at some level of the universe. Consequently, this Kabbalistic notion has far-reaching implications for the study of Creation and the making of Tikkun. I'll describe these below.

     THE CATACLYSM OF CREATION. As I indicated earlier, Lurianic cosmogony states that the God of Creation begins as a unity but, as a consequence of his creative act, devolves into a multiplicity. In Lurianic Kabbalah this is called, as I have mentioned above, the "Sheviret HaKelim," or Shattering of the Vessels" (i.e. the Ten Sefirot to be described by R. Azriel in part 3 of his "Explanation.")

The consequence of this cataclysm is that mankind -- by virtue of its capacity for making Tikkunim ("spiritual repairs") through its Kavannah ("mystical intentionality") -- is called upon to "repair" the "Face of God", which is to say to return the now-disunified Godhead to its pre-mundane state of unqualified Unity. We see this reflected in Scripture where it says of the Messianic advent, "In that day, YHVH shall be One and his Name shall be one." Speaking of this in a personal letter to my mentor, James Kirsch, the Swiss theologian and psychologist, C.G. Jung, wrote:

"The Jew has the advantage of having long since anticipated the development of consciousness in his own spiritual history. By this I mean the Lurianic stage of the Kabbalah, the breaking of the vessels and man's help in restoring them. Here the thought emerges for the first time that man must help God to repair the damages wrought by the creation. For the first time, man's cosmic responsibility is acknowledged, and mankind is raised to partnership with God." (Collected Letters Vol. 2, p. 155)

     GOD AND THE BICAMERAL MIND. Now, taking this discussion to the psychological level, we come to the concept of the "bicameral event," or that point in the infant's development when its undifferentiated consciousness splits into what Martin Buber has called the "I" and "Thou." That is, the infant's undifferentiated, limitless consciousness of itself literally divides in two in order to accommodate the presence of another.

In this event we see the personal analogue of the transpersonal Sheviret HaKelim, referred to above. In the latter Kabbalistic event, the "YH" of the Tetragrammaton is said to have split off from the "VH" at the moment of Creation; while in the former, bicameral event, the "Me" of consciousness divides into an "I" and "Thou."

Thus, in a very real sense, each time this split in human consciousness occurs, the disunification in the Face of God is repeated, since the dictum "as below, so above" is the corollary of the Kabbalistic "as above, so below." In other words, at the precise moment each human consciousness divides itself in order to accommodate the presence of the Other, the separation between the "YH" and the "VH" is increased and God's Unity is further diminished.

     RESTORING THE UNITY OF GOD. But having once been "whole," having once been in a state of what the Kabbalah calls "Ayn Sof," the Godhead seeks within itself to return to that undifferentiated condition. Here, mankind's unique capacity for "lifting earth up to heaven" and "pulling heaven down to earth" comes into play with what Kabbalah calls "Tikkun Olam," or Spiritual Repair of the World.

Each of us, therefore, is called upon to engage in this task of cosmic repair in order to not only perfect ourselves, but to redeem the world. I have tried to describe the process by which we accomplish this calling in my many lectures installed on the Donmeh West website.

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