HERMETIC - ESOTERIC - MYSTICAL PHILOSOPHIES
Kabbalah-Emanations from the Source
By Robert Green
The Kabala is Jewish mysticism. It is a
mystical system of thought that has been synthesized by combining the
corpus of hermetical thought that resulted from the commentaries and the
contemplation of the Emerald Tablet with the Torah, or the first 5 books
of Bible, written by Moses.
One of the problems of studying the Kabala today is that so many other
systems of thought have been attached to it over the ages, making it very
difficult to comprehend. In other words, its pristine knowledge has been
polluted and unnecessarily complicated with everything from fortune
telling to conjuring evil spirits. In these essays we will cut thru all of
the illusions and look at it with its original intent, thought and
The original Kabala system was derived from three works. The 1st is the
Torah, or the 1st 5 books of the Bible, supposedly written by Moses. The
2nd work is the Sefer Yetsirah, or Book of Creation, which came out of the
Gnostic material of the Emerald Tablet, and was written somewhere between
the 3rd and 6th centuries A.D. It deals with esoteric theories of
cosmogony & cosmology and is very veiled and complicated because of the
use of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet as archetypes to explain cosmic
occurrences and laws. As maybe none in this class speak and write Hebrew,
we will use more familiar symbols and archetypes to explain these cosmic
occurrences and laws. The 3rd work is the Sefer Zohar, or the Book of
Spender. It is
accepted by most scholars of the Kabala that the author of this monumental
work was Moses de Leon of Spain, who began to circulate editions of the
book in the period of 1280 and 1290 A.D. He claimed that it represented
some of the writings of Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai of the 2nd century A.D.
From what we can find out, Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai was a great student of
the corpus Hermetica and Jewish & Persian (Zoroastrism) mysticism. The
medieval environment is easily recognized in much of writing of the Zohar,
though. Historical references to the Crusades and to Arab rule in
Palestine after wars are put together with material based on laws and
customs found in the Spanish environment of the author, Moses de Leon. The
Zohar is a monumental work of 2500 published pages plus a gigantic oral
tradition, and would take a serious researcher several lifetimes to fully
digest and comprehend. This book is primarily a collection of allegorical
stories and commentaries and has been written to hide and discourage
serious seekers of mystical truth, and requires studying with someone, a
master, to unveil its real truths hidden in its allegories, Hebrew
letters, and strange symbology.
So with this short introduction, let us begin our journey into the
mysteries of the Kabala.
We will start at beginning.. before the creation and investigate the
condition called the Nothing, also called Ayn Soph, Ein Sof, and En Soph.
But first, let us examine the words, Ayn Soph, Ein Sof, and En Soph. Much
of the original Kabalistic writings and commentaries were written by
Jewish scholars living in German speaking countries and this was their
common language. But in medieval times, most books were written in Latin,
and the words used by these Jewish scholars were a combination of German
and Latin. Ein is German for the, or a, and Ayn, En, are but corruptions
of the German Ein. Soph, or Sophia is from a Latin derivative for wisdom;
Sof is a German form of the Latin derivative. So we will use in these
lessons, the uncorrupted original Germain words Ein Sof, which means "The
According to the Kabalalistic scholars, Ein Sof is unknowable because it
is nothing. Therefore, as it is nothing, then nothing can be used to
describe, or define it. There is only one way to know something about
nothing, and that way is to say what it is not. So Ein Sof is not Absolute
Being, for the word Being denotes a form and forms take up space, and Ein
Sof is formless and therefore fills all space and is in Being, but is not
Being. Ein Sof is not mind, or thought, but is in mind and thought, and on
and on. Ein Sof has within it the potential for all things created and all
things that are yet to be created. If we look at the word Sof, as Wisdom,
we will learn something about Ein Sof. Wisdom is not understanding, nor is
it intellect; it is not mind, either. Wisdom is innate "Cleverness". It is
something that cannot be learned; you either have it, or you don't. We
cannot will it as we do with reason and thought. We might say that it is a
kind of intuition, a consciousness, or part of the life force in each
cell. By meditating on what wisdom is, we will get a better feel for what
Ein Sof is.
Let me just post some of the thoughts and commentaries on Ein Sof from
some of the medieval Kabalistic thinkers and scholars.
ANYTHING VISIBLE, and anything that can be grasped by thought, is bounded.
Anything bounded is finite. Anything finite is not undifferentiated.
Conversely, the boundless is called Ein Sof, Infinite. It is absolute
undifferentiation in perfect, changeless oneness. Since it is boundless,
there is nothing outside of it. Since it transcends and conceals itself,
it is the essence of everything hidden and revealed. Since it is
is the root of faith and the root of rebellion. As it is written, "One who
is righteous lives by his faith." The philosophers acknowledge that we
comprehend it only by way of not.
Emanating from Ein Sof are the ten sefiroth. They constitute the process
by which all things come into being and pass away. They energize every
existent thing that can be quantified. Since all things come into being by
means of the sefiroth, they differ from one another; yet they all derive
from one root. Everything is from Ein Sof; there is nothing outside of it.
One should avoid fashioning metaphors regarding Ein Sof, but in order to
help you understand, you can compare Ein Sof to a candle from which
hundreds of millions of other candles are kindled. Though some shine
brighter than others, compared to the first light they are all the same,
all deriving from that one source. The first light and all the others are,
in effect, incomparable. Nor can their priority compare with its, for it
surpasses them; their energy emanates from it. No change takes place in
it-the energy of emanation simply manifests through differentiation.
Ein Sof cannot be conceived, certainly not expressed, though it is
intimated in every thing, for there is "nothing outside of it. No letter,
no name, no writing, no thing can confine it. The witness testifying in
writing that there is nothing outside of it is: "I am that I am." Ein Sof
has no will, no intention, no desire, no thought, no speech, no action-yet
there is nothing outside of it.
THERE MUST be a contraction of God's presence. For if we believe that Ein
Sof emanated the emanation and does not clothe itself within, then
everything that emanated is outside of it, and it is outside of
Then there are two, God forbid. So we must conclude that nothing is
outside of God. This applies not only to the sefiroth but to everything
that exists, large and small-they exist solely through the divine energy
that flows to them and clothes itself in them. If God's gaze were
withdrawn for even a moment, all existence would be nullified. This is the
secret meaning of the verse: "You enliven everything." So divinity flows
and inheres in each thing that exists. This is the secret meaning of the
verse: "God's presence fills the entire world." Contemplating this, you
are humbled, your thoughts purified.
WISDOM is the end of what you can ponder in thought.
BEFORE THE creation of the world, Ein Sof withdrew itself into its
essence, from itself to itself within itself. It left an empty space
within its essence, in which it could emanate and create.
WHEN THE supernal emanator wished to create this material universe, it
withdrew its presence. At first Ein Sof filled everything. Now, still,
even an inanimate stone is illuminated by it; otherwise the stone could
at all-it would disintegrate. The illumination of Ein Sof clothes itself
in garment upon garment.
At the beginning of creation, when Ein Sof withdrew its presence all
around in every direction, it left a vacuum in the middle, surrounded on
all sides by the light of Ein Sof, empty precisely in the middle. The
like water in a pond displaced by a stone. When a stone is dropped in a
pond, the water at that spot does not disappear-it merges with the rest.
So the withdrawn light converged beyond, and in the middle remained a
vacuum. Then all the opacity and density of judgment within the light of
Ein Sof-like a drop in the ocean-was extracted- Descending into the
vacuum, it transformed into an amorphous mass, surrounded in every
direction by the light of Ein Sof. Out of this mass emanated the four
worlds: emanation, creation, formation, and actualization. For in its
simple desire to realize its intention, the emanator relumined the mass
with a ray of the light withdrawn at first-not all of the light, because
if it had all returned, the original state would have been restored, which
was not the intention.
To fashion pottery, the potter first takes an unformed mass of clay and
then puts his hand inside the mass to shape it. So the supernal emanator
put its hand into the amorphous mass, that is, a ray of light returned
from above. As this light began to enter the mass, vessels were formed.
From the purest light, Kether; next, Hokhmah; then, Binah; and so on
through all ten sefiroth. Since Kether was the purest and clearest of all
the vessels, it could bear the light within it, but Hokhmah and Binah,
though more translucent than those below, were not like Kether. Not having
its capacity, their backs broke, and they fell from their position. As the
light descended further, six points appeared-six fragments of what had
been one point of light. Thus the vessels shattered. Their spiritual
essence-the light-ascended back to the mother's womb, while the shattered
vessels fell to the world of creation.
When the light emanated once again-regenerated, arrayed anew- it extended
only to the end of the world of emanation. "Emanation" denotes this
extension of the light of Ein Sof during the time of regeneration.
Emanation consists of five visages. These visages are reconfigurations of
the points of light, capable now of receiving the light, so that no
shattering occurs, as at first. Below these visages the light of Ein Sof
appears only through a screen. As when you sit in the shade: though the
sun does not shine on you directly, it illuminates the shaded area. In a
similar manner, the light of Ein Sof illuminates the world of creation
through a screen, indirectly.
Kabala part 2
Ein Sof has no beginning, and is formless, omnipotent, omniscient, and
It is so difficult for us, living in a world of sensual form and thought
to conceive of anything existing that is formless and cannot be sensed by
our 5 senses, or by scientific instruments.
One of the most interesting concepts of the creation is that of Ein Sof`s
withdrawal or retreat from a single point forming a space within it's
center, and then the projection and concentration of its essence into this
space. This voluntary contraction on the part of Ein Sof is the act that
causes the creation of the universe. Remember, it is because Ein Sof is
limitless in all things & all places and is a plenum of divinity that it
necessary that a primordial space be established, for there must be a
space for worlds of 3 dimensional form to exist in. The Zohar says, "But
the space created was not entirely empty. In much the same way that the
fragrance of perfume lingers in an empty bottle, so too did a divine
presence remain behind in primordial space." Once this space existing
outside of and separate from the Ein Sof was established, the second act
of creation began to take place. The first act of creation was an act of
limitation and definition: the second, that of emanation. At this time Ein
Sof rayed out a single beam of light to form the first configuration ever
fashioned, the Sefiroth, the building blocks of light, life and love.
Many Kabalists say that Ein Sof is not the creator God. Their logic is
that God created in his own image and that as Ein Sof is Nothing, its
image would be nothing, therefore it did not create, but supplied the
potential, the energy and the sparks for the creation. To me, Ein Sof is
God and so is the space and the sefiroth coming out of Him that manifested
the creation and continues to do so. I leave it up to each one of you to
decide what you want to believe in this regard.
The original meaning of the word Sefiroth comes from the ancient Egyptian
word "sefer", which means a book or a scroll on which has been placed a
seal that cannot be broken except by authorized persons, which was usually
a priest. This was done in ancient times to "seal" certain secret and
confidential writings from the unauthorized and profane. The word Sefiroth
denotes a plural, so, we could correctly define Sefiroth as " sealed
Before the creation of days in Genesis, there were created 3 Sefiroth, the
"Divine Trinity", and from these 3, came the 6 days of creation and 1 day
of rest. The first three Sefiroth are Kether, Binah, & Hokhmah. They are
called the Trinity; the Godhead; the Creator. These 3 manifested as a
lightning flash in the primordial space caused by Ein Sof`s contraction,
and although they manifested in a descending order, they pretty much came
into Being at the same instant.
Kether is known as the crown. Not a crown like a king wears, but He is
called the crown because He is at the top of the Sefiroth. All the other
Sefiroth are below Him. He is called the Father and is a masculine
emanation. Next to Him is Binah and is a feminine emanation.. Binah is
called the Mother because she has the son of wisdom in her womb. Binah is
also known as the "Holy Ghost", and as the "Cosmic". Out of Binah
the emanation, or the Sefiroth known as Hokhmah. Hokhmah is called wisdom
and is the universal soul. Hokhmah is called the "Son". Hokhmah, the son,
is the self; the universal I AM, and it is thru Him that the Father,
Kether can be known. He is the only path, for Kether is Consciousness in
ONENESS, and cannot know himself, except thru His reflection, Hokhmah, the
Son. Binah, from the word "binary" is the beginning of duality, but
without the reflective self of the Son, or Hokhmah, cannot know herself,
either. Why is Binah the beginning of duality? It is because within her
womb is the unmanifest Son; Hokhmah. Hokhmah in mysticism is called the
You will notice in a lot of the Kabala literature, that some of the names
of the Sefiroth are spelled entirely different than what I am presenting
in these essays. That is because in the centuries over which the Kabala
was written and added to by scholars, meanings of words changed and
translators in different countries and of different schools of thought
changed some of the spelling of the words. I am trying always, as far as I
am able, to use the original words and spelling, so that we can determine
the original meanings of them, and thus determine the concepts that the
mystic was trying to impart. Also, some these different schools in the
middle ages changed the order of some of the sefiroth. An example of these
different schools is in the concept of Ayin. Some of these scholars were
so certain that Ein Sof could not be known, that they called Kether, Ayin,
which means the "Nothing" in Hebrew. The Nothing originally was Ein Soph.
Then they changed the order
of Sefiroth coming out Kether to Hokhmah then to Binah, which they called
Father/Mother. Now there was one less Sefiroth by making Ein Sof into
Kether, so another was added that they called "Da`at".
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