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Introduction The Inner Dimension

The Powers of the Soul to Experience God

Kabbalah teaches us that at every level of created being


from the perfected realm of Atzilut (Divine Emanation) to the
deficient plane of our own earthly existencethere exist
ten sefirot (Divine radiances or powers) around which that
reality is constructed. Each of these sefirot is given a name
describing its unique role in the fashioning of reality.
Each

of the sefirot possesses both an external as well as an


internal dimension. The external dimension of each sefirah is
identified with the functional role that it plays in the process
of Creation; its internal dimension is identified with the hidden
motivational force which inspires its activity. Even more so
than with respect to the external dimension of the sefirot, their
inner dimension can only be appreciated in context of how it
manifests itself in the Jewish soul. Given the Divine derivation
of our soul, we can understand how an analysis of its essential
properties and powers can serve as the best vehicle for
achieving insight into Gods own inscrutable being.
Chassidut

describes the inspirational force behind


each sefirah. While the Kabbalistic names of the sefirot serve
well to express the Divine effect that each of these powers has

upon Creation, only the terms put forth by Chassidut reveal


the inner dimension of each sefirah.
Another

way of explaining the differing emphases of Kabbalah


and Chassidut is to say that Kabbalah focuses on the
vessels (kelim) of Creation while Chassidut deals with the
lights (orot) that fill these vessels. This distinction is apparent
even in the names attached to these two mystical traditions:
The word Kabbalah in Hebrew is derived from the root kabal, to
serve as a receptacle or vessel, while the word Chassidut is
constructed from the root chesed, lovingkindness, an
attribute often referred to symbolically as the light of day.

Emunah
Faith

Emunah is

the spiritual state associated with the inner


experience of the highest of the three heads
of keter, the Reisha dlo Ityada (the unknowable head).
Emunah

is the essential connection, or covenant, between


Israel and God. In Chassidut we find the saying that the
simple faith (emunah peshutah) of the simple Jew
(yehudi pashut) links him to the simple (absolute) unity
(achdut peshutah) of GodsAtzmut (Essence, above the
revelation of His infinite light, or en sof ). Every Jewish soul
inherits its faith from the patriarchs and matriarchs of the
Jewish people in general, and from Abraham, the first
believer, in particular. As an inherited trait, emunah is always
present in every Jewish soul, though not necessarily
conscious.

It

is the function of the soul of Moses (present in every


generation) to sustain and reinforce the consciousness of the
faith of Israel, and hence Jewish identity, through the food of
Torah wisdom. In the merit of Moses, manna was given to
Israel. Its first appearance in Torah reads man hu, which
permutes into the word emunah.
The

Jews innate readiness to fully devote his life to the


service of God and sacrifice his life for the sake of God is the
essential expression of his emunah in God.

Taanug
Pleasure

Taanug is the spiritual state associated in particular with the


second head of the keter, the Reisha dAyin (the head of
nothingness). In general, taanug is the lifeforce, the fluid or
living waters, of all the souls powers. In particular, taanug,
representing the inner partzuf of keter (Atik Yomin), serves to
motivate and direct ratzon (superconscious will), representing
the outer partzuf of keter (Arich Anpin).
We

speak of taanug neelam (hidden, or unconscious,


pleasure) in contrast to taanug murgash (felt pleasure), and
of taanug pashut (simple pleasure, i.e. the experience of pure
pleasure or serenity, unrelated to any other of the souls
powers) in contrast totaanug murkav (compound pleasure, i.e.
the pleasure inherent in the experience of any other of the

souls powers). Torah wisdom ultimately derives from the state


of Divine taanug, as expressed by King David in Psalms
(119:77): If it were not for Your Torahbeing my delight
(shaashuim), I would be lost in my affliction, and by his son,
King Solomon, in Proverbs (8:30): And I (the Torahspeaking
in the first person) was His delight (shaashuim) every day.
Taanug neelam
Taanug murgash
Taanug pashut
Taanug murkav

Hidden pleasure
Felt pleasure
Simple pleasure
Compound pleasure

Ratzon
Will

Ratzon is the spiritual state associated with the lowest of the


three heads of keter, the Reisha dArich (the extended head).
W ith regard to the power of will, it is said nothing stands
before (the force of ones) will, and there is nothing as
forceful as will.
In

the partzuf of Arich Anpin (the


outer partzuf of keter representing the general power of will in
the soul), the origin of will is associated with its crown or its
skull referred to as the gulgalta. At this level, there is no
reason (rationale) for will. However, in the intrinsic wisdom
of Arich Anpin, referred to as mocha stimaah (concealed
brain), there exists a hidden (unexpressible) reason for will.

The

higher level of will, totally superrational in nature, serves


to control and direct (from above and without) all of the
conscious and rational powers of the soul, beginning with the
intellect, the souls base of rationality itself. The lower level of
will, possessing a hidden rationale, is the origin of the souls
power to willfully pursue those objectives rationally chosen by
the mind. The first is referred to as ratzon lmaalah mitaam
vdaat and the second as ratzon al pi taam vdaat.
The

Divine ratzon finds its essential expression in the


commandments given to Israel in the Torah. In our own Divine
service, when we devotedly perform Gods commandments
purely because they are the expression of His essential will
(lmaalah mtaam vdaat), we connect ourselves to the first
level of Gods will. In our conscious intentions, based upon the
secrets and mysteries revealed to us in Kabbalah with regard
to the spiritual effects of each commandment in particular, we
connect ourselves to the second level of Gods will.

Bitul
Self-nullification or Selflessness

Bitul is

the spiritual state associated with the inner


experience of chochmah, whereby ones consciousness
opens up to a continuous flow of Divine wisdom and new
insight through ones nullifying his sense of autonomous and
self-sustained being. Bitulis the experience of ayin, of being
nothing within the omnipresent radiance of Gods infinite light.
In general, there are two identified levels of bitul:

Bitul

bmetziut (existential nullification) constitutes the


absolute form of bitul whereby one loses all sense of
independent existence. This is the state of bitul in the world
of Atzilut, whose consciousness, permeated by the supernal
level of chochmah(Abba mekanen bAtzilut), is solely that of
Gods omnipresence.
Bitul

hayesh (nullification of [ones] somethingness)


constitutes a lower form of bitul whereby one is consciously
involved in the process of nullifying the outer layer of self
(ego). This is accomplished by the concentrated effort to
experience the continual recreation of all reality, including
oneself, as something from nothing. This impresses upon
ones consciousness that there is no independent reality
attached to ones sense of somethingness. This is the state
of bitul present within the three lower worlds of
Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, while its conscious experience is
dependent upon ones Divine service. Divine consciousness in
the three lower worlds derives from the chochmah of malchut
dAtzilut, referred to as the lower chochmah, thus giving rise to
the lower level of bitul.

Simchah
Joy or Happiness

Simchah is

the

spiritual

state

associated

with

the sefirah of binah. Simchah comes


with
the
spiritual
satisfaction of having succeeded in comprehending an idea
and relating it to ones emotions (eliciting emotional response).
Of the mother (binah), it is said the mother of children is

joyous.
The

simchah of motherhood develops in progressive stages.


First there is the simchah of betrothal which extends into the
joy of anticipating pregnancy (a state of mind which actually
facilitates conception).
Then

follows the simchah of conceiving, which extends


throughout the pregnancy into the joy of expecting birth.
Finally, the mother of children is joyous in the children she
has borne, a joy which extends into her looking forward to
raising them.
Thus

we see that while each stage of simchah is initiated by a


particular level of accomplishment, it always faces forward
toward the next level of anticipated accomplishment.
In

Kabbalah, the simchah of binah (referred to in Sefer


Yetzirah as omek acharit, the depth of the future), is
identified with thesimchah of the world-to-come.
The

three above levels of simchah correspond to the three


festivals of the Torah which were given to the Jewish soul so
that it could experience in its Divine service true simchah.
The

simchah of Pesach is that of betrothal and the consequent


anticipation of conception; the giving of the Torah to Israel

onShavuot engenders the simchah of conception entailing the


expectation of birth; and the simchah of Sukkot represents the
joy of birth and the dedication to raise ones family to live by
the Torah (Simchat Torah ). (Also see chedvah).
Festival
Pesach
Shavuot
Sukkot
Simchat Torah

Stage of Simchah
Betrothal
Conception
Birth
Raising family

Yichud
Unification

Yichud is

the
the sefirah of daat.

spiritual

state

associated

with

Yichud

describes the unification, or becoming one, of two


bodies or souls. Upon the creation of Adam and Eve, it is said
(with reference to all future mankind): And he shall cling to his
wife and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).
Subsequently, the union of Adam and Eve is described as an
act of daat: And Adam knew his wife Eve (Genesis 4:1).
The

power of yichud (whether on the spiritual or physical


plane) is thus seen to be rooted in ones power of daat, ones
ability to recognize his chosen one and establish with him/her
an authentic rapport. Yichud is thus the process of bringing

back together the two lost halves of what was initially a single
entity.
All

of the kavanot of Kabbalah are referred to as yichudim, for


they all intend to effect unifications between the manifold
dimensions of reality (beginning with those in the Divine realm
of Atzilut itself). The intention that all ones deeds be for the
sake of heaven is referred to as yichud hamaaseh (the
unification of deed).

Ahavah
Love

Ahavah is

the
spiritual
state
associated
with
the sefirah of chesed. Ahavah is the essential power of
growth inherent throughout reality. God created the world
with love and sustains the world with love.
The

experience of ahavah begins with a sense of attraction


and being drawn to another, a sense which continues to grow
and expand until it virtually encompasses one and ones
beloved in their clinging to one another. Love is an attractive
vector force.
There

are thirteen such vectors (ahavah = 13), corresponding


to the 13 spiritual states associated with the sefirot:
the love of God for Israel.
the love of Israel for God (the origin of this pair of loves is
referred to as ahavah rabbah, the great [and infinite] love).
the love of a master for his disciple.
the love of a disciple for his master.

the love between disciples (the origin of these three loves is


the love of the Torah).
the love of a husband for his wife.
the love of a wife for her husband.
the love between friends (the origin of these three loves is the
love of Israel).
the love of a parent for his/her child.
the love of a child for his/her parent.
the love between siblings (the origin of these three loves is
the love of the land of Israel, the eternal physical link between
generations).
the love of a king for his subjects.
and the love of a subject for his king (the origin of this pair of
loves is referred to as ahavat olam, worldly [finite] love).
Our love for God expresses itself in three growing stages:
with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might
(Deuteronomy 6:5). These three stages reflect themselves at
all of the above levels (the full spectrum of 13 love vectors
manifesting their five general origins). The verse, and you
shall love Havayah, your God, with all your heart, with all your
soul and with all your might, possesses 39 letters (as does
the whole verse which contains the following phrase
possessing 13 letters: and you shall love your neighbor as
yourself). 39 = 3 times 13 (the three stages of each of the 13
loves), which equals Havayah (26) Echad(13)Havayah is
One (Deuteronomy 6:4).

Yirah
Fear

Yirah is

the
spiritual
state
associated
with
the sefirah of gevurah. In contrast to the hearts initial, innate
desire to give, deriving from ahavah, yirah expresses ones
deeply felt concern and fear lest ones gift fall into the hands of
an unworthy recipient who may actually misuse it
destructively.
Yirah

evokes gevurah, the might necessary to reject and even


fight against negative and destructive forces.
The

two powers of ahavah and yirah are intended to


complement one another and act as a pair, as the two hands
of the body in their common effort to construct or as the two
wings of a bird in their flight upward. In a more general
sense, yirah is understood to represent ones sensitivity to the
presence of another. Sensitivity gives rise to consideration of
the others feelings and respect for him (as in the idiom yirat
hakavod). While ahavah motivates attraction and
union, yirah stands in awe from afar.
In

relation to God, there are many levels of yirah: yirat


haromemut (awe in the presence of infinite Divine
exaltedness), yirat hamalchut (awe in the presence of Divine
kingship), and yirat haonesh (fear of punishment). This last
level of yirah is not exclusively pure in its motivation (for it
does not picture God directly as the object of ones yirah), but
rather derives from thekelipat nogah (translucent shell) of
ones soul experience, involving a mixture of good (for it
precludes sinning) and evil (for it shadows ones

consciousness with thoughts of bad consequences).


Yirat haromemut
Yirat hamalchut
Yirat haonesh

Awe in the presence of


infinite Divine exaltedness
Awe in the presence of
Divine kingship
Fear of punishment

Rachamim
Mercy

Rachamim is

the
spiritual
state
associated
with
the sefirah of tiferet. Rachamim follows
the
attributes
of ahavah and yirah as the power to synthesize their two
apparently opposing forces, the desire to give and the will to
withhold.
Ahavah

sees all as potential recipients of its benevolence.


Yirah proceeds to judge each potential recipient, likely finding
him unworthy of receiving.
Rachamim

is the sense of true empathy with the others soul


in his present life situation; and although objectively he may
appear unworthy, rachamim penetrates beneath and beyond
this relatively superficial objectivity and judges him worthy in
essence. Thus we find the idiom of our sages that God in His
judgment of Creation, stands up from the throne of severe
judgment and sits on the throne of mercy.
Though

the gift of ahavah and chesed may be quantitatively


greater than that of rachamim, the gift of rachamim is
qualitatively greater. From rachamim, one gives of his very self
to the otherfor his empathy with him is so great that he feels

that the other is an essential extension of himself. To serve


God with the attribute of rachamim means to ever recognize
God as our merciful Father and constantly arouse in our
consciousness His mercy for us, His children, to redeem us
from our state of exile.

Bitachon
Confidence

Bitachon is

the
spiritual
the sefirah of netzach.

state

associated

with

There

are two forms of bitachon: active bitachon and


passive bitachon.
Active

bitachon is the confidence one possesses in his own


power and ability to succeed in his lifes ambitions.
Passive

bitachon is the trust in Divine providence, that all will


be good. In particular, it is the active bitachon which is
associated with the sefirah of netzach; while
passive bitachon is associated with the sefirah of hod (or more
precisely, with the interinclusion of hod within
the sefirah of netzach ). This is so in accordance with the
general principle that an active state is relatively male while
a passive state is relatively female (though, needless to say,
both male and female possess both psychological states).
Of

the pair of sefirot, netzach and hod, it is said he [in his


union with her] is in [the general psychological state
of] netzach and she [in her union with him] is in [the

psychological state of] hod. The


active bitachon of netzach represents the power of the soul to
take initiative. God desires of us great, independent
initiativethe initiative to rectify and bring redemption to the
entire world. In our own taking of initiative, we must continually
recognize that it is He who gives us the power to succeed. It
is His lifeforce and energy which is the source of our
inspiration to achieve. In our active bitachon, Netzach Yisrael
God, the victory and eternity of Israelbecomes manifest.

Temimut
Sincerity

Temimut is

the
spiritual
state
associated
with
the sefirah of hod. There are three general levels of temimut:
temimut haratzon (sincerity of will).
temimut halev (sincerity of heart).
temimut hamaaseh (sincerity of action).
Temimut

always implies completeness. In ones Divine


service, temimut at the level of will represents ones
complete will to fulfill Gods will. This level of emotion is
relatively makif (surrounding in nature) and does not
necessarily penetrate into the inner domains and emotions of
ones soul, those directly responsible for ones physical
actions.
At

the level of heart, temimut represents the total


seriousness one experiences in all of his devoted effort to
serve God.

At

the level of action, temimut represents ones sense of


down to earth commitment and dedication to meticulously
fulfill each and every detail of Gods commandments. In
general, Chassidut teaches that of all the emotions of the
heart, temimut, in all its aspects, is an innate gift of God to the
Jewish soul, the hardest attribute to be acquired through
conscious effort.
Temimut:
haratzon
halev
hamaaseh

represents:
will to fulfill Gods will
seriousness and devoted
effort to serve God
commitment to fulfill each and every detail of Gods
commandments.

Just

as temimut implies completeness, so does it imply


simplicity. Temimut is the essential attribute of the simple
Jew. (Note that hod is the root of the word YehudiJew.)
Throughout the Bible, temimut appears as an idiom together
with the verb to walk. It is the left foot (associated with
the sefirah of hod ) that controls the power to walk (as stated
in Sefer Yetzirah). With temimut, the Jew walks in the way of
God and in essence walks with God.

Emet
Truth

Emet is

the
spiritual
the sefirah of yesod.

state

associated

with

In

the words of our sages, the seal of God is truth. The final
letters of the three words that conclude the account of
CreationbaraElokim laasot (God created to do [Genesis
2:3])spell emet. God created reality to do, which as
interpreted by the sages means that it is incumbent upon us,
Gods creatures, to complete the doing (i.e. rectification) of
His Creation.
Here,

emet, whose three letters are referred to as the


beginning, middle and end of the alef-beit, means the actual
verification (end or seal) and realization of Gods
primordial will (the beginning) in Creation. (Emet in its
intellectual sense, represents Gods plan for reality which
follows His will and precedes His seal, and thus corresponds
to the middle stage of emet).
As

a spiritual emotion of the soul, emet is thus understood to


be the experience of the souls almost impulsive drive, at the
end of a creative pursuit, to make it come true. Emet thus
entails the experience of self fulfillment in all of ones life
endeavors.
The

tzadik (foundation of the universe, referred to as the


tzadik emet) is the one granted the power to decree that
God realize and fulfill in actuality all of His good promises to
Israel. It is the inner potential of each and every Jew to
become such a tzadik emet.
Thus

emet is the power to realize ones own deepest potential,


which is in fact the power of the Jewish soul to bring about the
ultimate realization of Gods potential.

Shiflut
Lowliness

Shiflut is

the
spiritual
the sefirah of malchut.

state

associated

with

In

contrast to bitul (selflessness), the spiritual state


associated with chochmah, shiflut does not imply the negation
of self, but rather the experience of oneself as existentially
lowly, far away from God. In shiflut, one experiences an
innate state of sin, as David (the archetype soul
of malchut and its inner attribute of shiflut) expresses in
Psalms (51:7): and in sin has my mother conceived me.
As

a holy attribute of Torah, one which serves to link ones


consciousness to God, it is said of shiflut that from afar God
appears to me. Gods very essence is revealed to the soul
who, in shiflut, feels himself afar, more so than to he who
feels himself near.
Shiflut

is the ultimate source of the souls motivation to return


in teshuvah to Hashem. The above quoted psalm of David is
the quintessential expression of teshuvah in the Bible.
The Baal Shem Tov (a descendant of David) teaches that the
beginning of all Divine service is to experience an existential
sense of identification with all the most lowly creatures on
earth, as though saying to himself: they all fulfill Gods
intentions for them faithfully; were only I able to do the same.
In

direct proportion to his existential state of shiflut (whose


root shefel means low tide), is the true king able to manifest

that state of upliftedness (geut, the high tide) necessary to


constructively rule over his people (the two
terms, shefel and geut, exactly equaling one another
in gematria).