A very important idea that I had talked about and is critical relates to there being five different types of creations, of “beings”—if you want to use that word—or states of existence. It’s important because this range speaks to what we are going to experience and includes what we are experiencing now. These ideas should be kept in mind because this is the scope, the panorama, of Judaism.
Ein Sof, Ein Od Milvado: As I’ve mentioned, the first type of being is ein sof which is G-d. G-d is unknowable but, from our perspective, G-d is a certain type of Being that we have absolutely no comprehension of. We could say that ein sof is the first and highest class. Actually, it’s the only class of being, existentially.
Then, Ribono Shel Olam created a second state called zuloso. One of the main characteristics of ein sof is “ein od milvado”—besides G-d there is nothing else. I cannot even begin to explain what that means and it’s literal, not figurative. The only entity, thing, that exists, even now, is G-d and nothing else. One of the ways to comprehend this is to understand that G-d doesn’t have existence; He is existence. Apparently, the only thing that qualifies you to exist is if you are existence itself. Then you exist. If you have to be given existence, that existence compared to G-d Who is existence, is not even on the same map. So, ein sof is ein od milvado.
Zuloso / Sefiros: What the Ribono Shel Olam did, and nobody knows how, is engage in a phenomenon called “tzimtzum” whereby, in some way, G-d restricted Himself—whatever that means—to create a makom—place whereby something else could exist. We have no idea how that happens. In Kabbalah, it’s called the “chollo”—the hole where other things can exist as whatever type of existence they manifest and that’s called the zuloso—other. Of course, the being that is reflected in that “other” is that of Divine “energies,” if you want to use that word, Divine forces, called “sefiros.”
In many ways, sefiros are identified as part of the being of G-d. When we say “ein sof,” it means “G-d.” Sefiros, and there are ten of them as we know, are “appendages,” if you want to use that word, of G-d. We have absolutely no idea what that is, but I will connect the sefiros to the being called “G-d.” That, in a certain sense, is the first thing that G-d made.
Neshama: Besides that, the main component of that makom—place which has the capacity to
accommodate an “other” is called the “neshamah.” It is the greatest thing ever created. Not that it rivals G-d—chas v’shalom—but it is really the first “other” that G-d created and it’s much greater than anything ever created afterward. The neshamah is infinitely greater than the malachim—angels.
Ruchni/Geshem: After that, G-d created another reality called ruchni—spiritual. G-d is not spiritual; He is unknown. Even the neshamah is not the same as ruchni; it’s far greater. Let’s say that the third aspect of reality, or type of reality, is ruchni, the angels. All those angelic forces that exist, an almost infinite number of them, are the intermediaries between G-d and the geshem—the physical world that is our world.
Zohama: I also mentioned that there’s a fifth dimension called zohama. It is the world of Satan which is in the world of geshem/zohama. So, those are the five ideas.
We also know that man, animals, insects, etcetera, share existence in the world of geshem/zohama. We understand that there are five different aspects of reality and the potential to transform one world into another.
The RaMCHaL begins to stress this following idea and you have to appreciate what he’s saying. Beings that inhabit any “world”—whatever world they inhabit—are composed only of that world. For instance, a malach is only ruchni—spiritual and nothing else. He’s not a composite of that world and our world which is geshem, the material world. Animals are only physical. There is nothing spiritual about an animal. This may disturb dog lovers because they will not be with you together in Olam Ha’Ba. There’s no Olam Ha’Ba for dogs or other creatures. Animals, insects, rodents, whatever, are only geshem. They’re pure physicality; there is nothing spiritual about any animal.
Man is a very strange creature because what Ribono Shel Olam did is very interesting. He took the neshamah which is of the highest level of spirituality and combined it with the physical. That’s like combining water and fire as one entity which is unheard of because they contend with each other. Each one will try to destroy the other. The fire will try to evaporate the water and the water will try to douse the fire. They can’t abide together. They are mutually exclusive entities. Each one attempts to eradicate the other.
The same thing with the neshamah. It is the complete antithesis of the physical. It cannot exist with the physical. In other words, when you take a neshamah and encase it in a physical body, it will immediately purify the body of its geshem. It will actually remove the physicality of that body and that body will then become completely translucent. It’s almost as if the body doesn’t exist or it might exist as a very fine form of translucent, transparent material. Its ability to be physical has been enormously diminished. That’s what the soul will do to the body because they cannot exist together.
If that’s the case, how is the neshamah—the soul of an Adam—man able to sustain itself in a physical body? And the answer to that, the RaMCHaL says, is G-d’s decree, His order, that the power of the soul to completely purify the body be diminished. The soul cannot “m’zakech”—purify, cannot provide zikuch— purification. The neshamah is “condemned” to remain in the physical body until it has permission to leave, which means death. That’s a very important idea, that the soul is anchored to the body though not permanently, but for a significant amount of time.
It’s highly unusual that the neshamah can actually reside in a physical body. This also means that the neshamah is a composite of two substances. This is unheard of in all entities of Creation. There’s no such thing. You are what you are based upon the dimension in which you reside. You are not something else besides that which you are a denizen of. Unique, therefore, is man as a composite being.
By Yoeri Schepens
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