A report on Lurianic Kabbalah and Ein Sof

Joseph Karo synagogue in Safed. The 1538 Safed attempt by Jacob Berab to restore traditional Semikhah (Rabbinic organisation), reelected the community's Messianic focus. Karo, author of the normative Shulkhan Arukh (Code of Law) was one appointed
The sefirot consist of lights invested in vessels, similar to water poured into a glass. While taking on the shape of the glass, the water is essentially unchanged.
The old cemetery in Safed where its pre-eminent 16th century mystical and legal figures are buried, including Yosef Karo, Shlomo Alkabetz, Moshe Alshich, Moshe Cordovero and the Ari. After the Expulsion from Spain the Safed circle held a national Messianic responsibility, mirrored in Lurianic scheme
Scheme of the Five Worlds forming within the Khalal Vacuum (Outer Circle) through the illumination of the Kav Ray (Vertical Line). Concepts are non-spatial. Sephirot shown in the scheme of Iggulim ("Circles")
The sephirot in the scheme of Yosher ("Upright"), from which the partzufim develop
The soul of Adam included all future human souls, while the 613 Mitzvot relate to 613 spiritual "limbs" in the configuration of the soul
Kabbalistic chart of Divine names in Ari synagogue. Traditional Lurianic prayer method involved esoteric kavanot meditations on specific Divine letter permutations related to each prayer
Mikveh of Isaac Luria on the hillside below Safed in the Galilee, fed by a cold spring

In Lurianic Kabbalah, the first act of creation, the Tzimtzum self "withdrawal" of God to create an "empty space", takes place from there.

- Ein Sof

The Medieval-Cordoverian scheme describes in detail a linear, hierarchical process where finite Creation evolves ("Hishtalshelut") sequentially from God's Infinite Being.

- Lurianic Kabbalah
Joseph Karo synagogue in Safed. The 1538 Safed attempt by Jacob Berab to restore traditional Semikhah (Rabbinic organisation), reelected the community's Messianic focus. Karo, author of the normative Shulkhan Arukh (Code of Law) was one appointed

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Jewish Kabbalists portrayed in 1641; woodcut on paper. Saxon University Library, Dresden.

Kabbalah

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Esoteric method, discipline and school of thought in Jewish mysticism.

Esoteric method, discipline and school of thought in Jewish mysticism.

Jewish Kabbalists portrayed in 1641; woodcut on paper. Saxon University Library, Dresden.
Kabbalistic prayer book from Italy, 1803. Jewish Museum of Switzerland, Basel.
Latin translation of Gikatilla's Shaarei Ora
The Ark of the Covenant in Solomon's Temple was the seat for God's presence. Ezekiel and Isaiah had prophetic visions of the angelic heavenly Chariot and Divine Throne
Grave of Rabbi Akiva in Tiberias. He features in Hekhalot mystical literature, and as one of the four who entered the Pardes
The grave of Shimon bar Yochai in Meron before 1899. A Talmudic Tanna, he is the mystical teacher in the central Kabbalistic work, the Zohar
The 13th-century eminence of Nachmanides, a classic rabbinic figure, gave Kabbalah mainstream acceptance through his Torah commentary
The leading scholars of Safed in 16th-century invigorated mainstream Judaism through new legal, liturgical, exegetical and Lurianic-mythological developments.
Synagogue Beit El Jerusalem. Oriental Judaism has its own chain of Kabbalah
The 16th-century Maharal of Prague articulated a mystical exegesis in philosophical language
Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, a leading Italian kabbalist, also wrote secular works, which the Haskalah see as the start of modern Hebrew literature
The Vilna Gaon, 18th-century leader of rabbinic opposition to Hasidism—a Kabbalist who opposed Hasidic doctrinal and practical innovations
Synagogue of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism, in Medzhybizh (Ukraine). It gave a new phase to Jewish mysticism, seeking its popularisation through internal correspondence.
The Kabbalist (c. 1910–1920), portrait of an Hasidic man in Jewish religious clothing performed by the Austro-Hungarian Jewish painter Isidor Kaufmann (Jewish Museum, New York)
Metaphorical scheme of emanated spiritual worlds within the Ein Sof
Scheme of descending Sephirot in three columns, as a tree with roots above and branches below
In the 16–17th centuries Kabbalah was popularised through a new genre of ethical literature, related to Kabbalistic meditation
Amulet from the 15th century. Theosophical kabbalists, especially Luria, censored contemporary Practical Kabbalah, but allowed amulets by Sages
Joseph Karo's role as both legalist and mystic underscores Kabbalah's spiritualisation of normative Jewish observance
Building on Kabbalah's conception of the soul, Abraham Abulafia's meditations included the "inner illumination of" the human form
16th-century graves of Safed, Galilee. The messianic focus of its mystical renaissance culminated in Lurianic thought.
Title page of first printed edition of the Zohar, main sourcebook of Kabbalah, from Mantua, Italy in 1558
Golden age of Spanish Judaism on the Knesset Menorah, Maimonides holding Aristotle's work
Kabbalah mysticism on the Knesset Menorah, which shared some similarities of theory with Jewish Neoplatonists
Tikkun for reading through the night of Shavuot, a popular Jewish custom from the Safed Kabbalists
A version of Lekhah Dodi song to welcome the Shabbat, a cross denomination Jewish custom from Kabbalah

Jewish Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between the unchanging, eternal God—the mysterious Ein Sof (, "The Infinite") —and the mortal, finite universe (God's creation).

According to this descriptive categorization, both versions of Kabbalistic theory, the medieval-Zoharic and the early-modern Lurianic Kabbalah together comprise the Theosophical tradition in Kabbalah, while the Meditative-Ecstatic Kabbalah incorporates a parallel inter-related Medieval tradition.

Metaphorical diagram of the Kav thin line of light descending from the Ohr Ein Sof into the Khalal vacuum to emanate the concealed 10 sephirot in Adam Kadmon

Seder hishtalshelus

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In Kabbalistic and Hasidic philosophy, seder hishtalshelut or hishtalshelut (סדר השתלשלות) refers to the chain-like descent of spiritual worlds (Olam/Olamot) between God and Creation.

In Kabbalistic and Hasidic philosophy, seder hishtalshelut or hishtalshelut (סדר השתלשלות) refers to the chain-like descent of spiritual worlds (Olam/Olamot) between God and Creation.

Metaphorical diagram of the Kav thin line of light descending from the Ohr Ein Sof into the Khalal vacuum to emanate the concealed 10 sephirot in Adam Kadmon
Diagram of the Partzufim countenances, Reishin heads, and Dikna beard Divine aspects configurations in Atziluth
Hebrew prophets envisioned the Throne of God of Beriah with angelic retinue. In Kabbalah Isaiah 6 saw from Beriah, Ezekiel 1 saw from Yetzirah
Contemplation of Divine emanations in Theosophical Kabbalah enables the advantage of the esoteric scholar over the prophet's visions in cognitive understanding of higher levels of Divinity

This page lists and links to all the main spiritual levels described in Lurianic Kabbalah, the scheme of Isaac Luria (1534–1572), the basis of modern Jewish mysticism.

Ein Sof ("No End" - classic term for the Unknowable God in Kabbalah, God as Infinite lifesource continuously sustaining all Creation into Existence, above Being/Non-Being, reciprocally Becoming through the totality of Creation by the divine souls of Man )

Metaphorical representation of the Five Worlds with the 10 Sephirot in each, as successively smaller concentric circles, derived from the light of the Kav after the Tzimtzum

Ohr

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Central Kabbalistic term in the Jewish mystical tradition.

Central Kabbalistic term in the Jewish mystical tradition.

Metaphorical representation of the Five Worlds with the 10 Sephirot in each, as successively smaller concentric circles, derived from the light of the Kav after the Tzimtzum
Jacob's vision in Genesis 28:12 of a ladder between Heaven and Earth. Kabbalah relates this to the chain of Worlds. Angels embody spiritual levels of enclothed ohr-light. They "ascend and descend" in ratzu-run nullification desire, and shuv-return purpose of Creation
The Kabbalistic duality of transcendent and immanent emanations in Heaven, becomes a paradigm in Hasidic Panentheism to describe paradoxical Divine Omnipresence in this world, expressed in worship and the Tzadik
The Maharal
Synagogue of the Baal Shem Tov
Schneur Zalman of Liadi
Latin translation of Shaare Orah שערי אורה "The Gates of Light", one of the most influential presentations of the Kabbalistic system, by Joseph Gikatilla in the 13th century<ref>Caption to this illustration on p.2 of Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction, Joseph Dan, Oxford University Press</ref>
Galilean Meron. "Nature" HaTeva is the numerical value of Elohim, the name of immanent light. The Tetragrammaton transcendence creates through it. Kabbalistically, in Israel the concealment is less severe

The distinction between the Divine light (beginning with the Ohr Ein Sof - the primordial "Infinite Light", and subsequently the 10 Sephirot emanations) and the Divine Source (the Ein Sof "Infinite") appears only relative to Creation.

One, called "Sovev Kol Olmin" ("Surrounding All Worlds"), is the Divine light of transcendence, rooted in the Ohr Ein Sof (primordial "Infinite Light") before the Tzimtzum of Lurianic Kabbalah.

Metaphorical representation of the Five Worlds, with the 10 sefirot radiating in each, as successively smaller Iggulim "concentric circles"

Sefirot

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Metaphorical representation of the Five Worlds, with the 10 sefirot radiating in each, as successively smaller Iggulim "concentric circles"
The Yosher-Upright configuration of the 10 sefirot, arranged into 3 columns
Configuration of the body
Sefer Hakavanot from "Kisvei HaAri", disciples of the 16th century Lurianic Kabbalah. It moved the origin of perceived exile in the sefirot to Primordial Creation, before the influence of Man on supernal harmony, as in Medieval Kabbalah
The 10 sefirot, arranged into the 3 columns, with the 22 Paths of Connection of three types

Sefirot (סְפִירוֹת səp̄īrōṯ), meaning emanations, are the 10 attributes/emanations in Kabbalah, through which Ein Sof (The Infinite) reveals itself and continuously creates both the physical realm and the chain of higher metaphysical realms (Seder hishtalshelus).

By contrast, in Lurean or Lurianic Kabbalah (the Kabbalah of Isaac Luria), the sefirot are perceived as a constellation of forces in active dialogue with one another at every stage of that evolution.

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Hasidic Judaism

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Jewish religious group that arose as a spiritual revival movement in the territory of contemporary Western Ukraine during the 18th century, and spread rapidly throughout Eastern Europe.

Jewish religious group that arose as a spiritual revival movement in the territory of contemporary Western Ukraine during the 18th century, and spread rapidly throughout Eastern Europe.

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The Kaliver Rebbe, Holocaust survivor, inspiring his court on the festival of Sukkot
Kvitel requests for blessing piled on the graves of the last Lubavitcher Rebbes
Hasidic family in Borough Park, Brooklyn. The man is wearing a shtreimel, and either a bekishe or a rekel. The woman is wearing a wig, called a sheitel, as she is forbidden to show her hair in public.
Rabbi Moshe Leib Rabinovich, Munkacser Rebbe, wearing a kolpik
The Dorohoi Rebbe in his traditional rabbinical Sabbath garb
Sculpture of the Hasidic movement's celebration of spirituality on the Knesset Menorah
Israel ben Eliezer's autograph
Shivchei HaBesht (Praises of the Baal Shem Tov), the first compilation of Hasidic hagiographic storytelling, was printed from manuscripts in 1815
Palace of the Ruzhin dynasty, known for its "royal" mannerism, in Sadhora.
Belzer Rebbe Aharon Rokeach (depicted 1934), who was hidden from the Nazis and smuggled out of Europe.

Hasidic thought draws heavily on Lurianic Kabbalah, and, to an extent, is a popularization of it.

In the beginning, in order to create the world, God contracted (Tzimtzum) his omnipresence, the Ein Sof, leaving a Vacant Void (Khalal panui), bereft from obvious presence and therefore able to entertain free will, contradictions and other phenomena seemingly separate from God himself.

Four Worlds

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The Four Worlds (עולמות Olamot, singular: Olam עולם), sometimes counted with a prior stage to make Five Worlds, are the comprehensive categories of spiritual realms in Kabbalah in the descending chain of Existence.

The Four Worlds (עולמות Olamot, singular: Olam עולם), sometimes counted with a prior stage to make Five Worlds, are the comprehensive categories of spiritual realms in Kabbalah in the descending chain of Existence.

The Tree of Life expanded to show each sefirot within the Four Worlds, an arrangement nicknamed "Jacob's Ladder"
Jacob's vision in Genesis 28:12 of a ladder between Heaven and Earth. In Kabbalistic interpretation, the Sulam-ladder's four main divisions are the Four Worlds and the angelic hierarchy embody external dimensions of the lights-vessels, while souls embody inner dimensions
Ezekiel's Tomb in Iraq. Ezekiel's vision of the Divine Merkabah-Chariot, and Isaiah's vision of the Kisei HaKavod-Throne of Glory, are related in Kabbalah to beholding the Four Worlds from Yetzirah, and from Beriah

The concept of "Worlds" denotes the emanation of creative lifeforce from the Ein Sof Divine Infinite, through progressive, innumerable tzimtzumim (concealments/veilings/condensations).

1) Adam Kadmon (אָדָם קַדְמוֹן) meaning Primordial Man. The anthropomorphic metaphor "Adam" denotes the Yosher ("Upright") arrangement of the sefirot as the tree of life, which is then personified in the form of Man, though not yet manifest. "Kadmon" signifies "primary of all primaries", the first pristine emanation, still united with the Ein Sof. Adam Kadmon is the realm of "Keter Elyon" (Supernal Crown of Will), "the lucid and luminous light" (Tzachtzachot), "the pure lucid sefirot which are concealed and hidden" in potential. In regards to the future emergence of Creation, it represents Divine light with no vessels, the manifestation of the specific Divine plan for Existence, within Creation (after the Tzimtzum in Lurianic Kabbalah). In Lurianism, the lights from Adam Kadmon precipitate Tohu and Tikun. As Keter is elevated above the sefirot, so Adam Kadmon is supreme above the Worlds, and therefore it is generally not included whenever the Worlds are referred to.

The Zohar states "Israel, the Torah and the Holy One Blessed Be He are One". God: At Sinai, in Rabbinic commentary, all the People heard the revelation "I-Anochi am the Lord-Tetragrammaton your God-Elokecha.." The "Lord spoke to Moses.." is God's essential infinite name. "Your God" is the concealed Divinity within finite Creation. "I" is the Atzmus narrator of the Torah, revealed at Sinai, uniting the opposites of Spiritual and Physical in Mitzvot and the ultimate future

Atzmus

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Descriptive term referred to in Kabbalah, and explored in Hasidic thought, for the divine essence.

Descriptive term referred to in Kabbalah, and explored in Hasidic thought, for the divine essence.

The Zohar states "Israel, the Torah and the Holy One Blessed Be He are One". God: At Sinai, in Rabbinic commentary, all the People heard the revelation "I-Anochi am the Lord-Tetragrammaton your God-Elokecha.." The "Lord spoke to Moses.." is God's essential infinite name. "Your God" is the concealed Divinity within finite Creation. "I" is the Atzmus narrator of the Torah, revealed at Sinai, uniting the opposites of Spiritual and Physical in Mitzvot and the ultimate future
Israel: The Besht, founder of Hasidism, related transcendent Kabbalah to internal correspondence in Jewish spiritual experience. The elite could learn scholarly lessons from the common folk, as the "simple faith of the simple Jew reflects" the soul's innate essence in "the simple unity of God's Atzmus"
Torah: Habad discourse from 2nd generation. Habad differed from emotional emphasis of Mainstream Hasidism, seeking philosophical investigation of Hasidic thought. The interconnection of previous Habad thought with other aspects of Torah, relation to Messianism, and ultimate Atzmus, emerges in the discourses and talks of the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe Heaven On Earth: Reflections on the Theology of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Faitel Levin, Kehot pub. The book compares the Atzmus-Dirah BeTachtonim theology of the 7th Rebbe with the previous views of Habad Hasidic thought. It sees the sources for this new edifice in the preceding 6 generations of Habad teaching.
In The Lubavitcher Rebbes Holiday Maamarim 2 Vol Set, translated by David Rothschild, published by Collel Tzemach Tzedek Tzfat, distributed through Kehot, introduction to Vol 1, Yitzchak Ginsburgh also reviews the generational development of Habad thought. He sees Kabbalistic significance in the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th leaders' teaching, representing new outward development of Being, while the 2nd, 4th and 6th leaders clarified inward Non-Being. Based on the advancing progression of a seminal idea from "point to line to area", he summarises the cumulative generational advance in teaching, according to the Habad conception that in each generation the teachings of Jewish mysticism ascend in depth, progressively drawing down from a higher source in Divinity to prepare for the Messianic era. In general: Cordoverian Kabbalah-Evolution, Lurianic Kabbalah-Enclothement, Hasidic thought-Omnipresence. In particular, in the subsequent 7 generations of Habad leaders' teaching:
The discourses of the 7th Rebbe involve Kabbalistic exegesis, while the more informal analytical talks, the main vehicle of the 7th Rebbe's teaching, tend to avoid esoteric Kabbalistic terminology. The main development of the theme of Atzmus is found in the discourses, such as the translated volumes on the eschatological eras of the Messiah and World-to-Come: Anticipating The Redemption: Maamarim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson Concerning the Era of Redemption Vol 1 and 2, Kehot publications

Classical Kabbalah predominantly refers to the Godhead in Judaism with its designated term "Ein Sof" ("No end"-Infinite), as this distinguishes between the divine being beyond description and manifestation, and divine emanations within creation, which become the descriptive concern of systemised Kabbalistic categorisation.

In Lurianic Kabbalah the first act of Creation is the primordial Tzimtzum (self "Withdrawal") of God, to resolve the problem of how finite Creation could emerge from the Infinite.

Adam Ḳadmon—Diagram illustrating the Sefirot (Divine Attributes). (From Christian Ginsburg, The Kabbalah - its Doctrines, Development & Literature)

Adam Kadmon

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Adam Ḳadmon—Diagram illustrating the Sefirot (Divine Attributes). (From Christian Ginsburg, The Kabbalah - its Doctrines, Development & Literature)

In Kabbalah, Adam Kadmon (אָדָם קַדְמוֹן, ʾāḏām qaḏmōn, "Primordial Man") also called Adam Elyon (אָדָם עֶלִיוֹן, ʾāḏām ʿelyōn, "Most High Man"), or Adam Ila'ah (אָדָם עִילָּאָה, ʾāḏām ʿīllāʾā "Supreme Man"), sometimes abbreviated as A"K (א"ק, ʾA.Q.), is the first of Four Worlds that came into being after the contraction of God's infinite light.

In Lurianic Kabbalah, the description of Adam Kadmon is anthropomorphic.

Rebuilt synagogue of the Baal Shem Tov in Medzhybizh, Ukraine

Hasidic philosophy

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Hasidic philosophy or Hasidism (חסידות), alternatively transliterated as Hasidut or Chassidus, consists of the teachings of the Hasidic movement, which are the teachings of the Hasidic rebbes, often in the form of commentary on the Torah (the Five books of Moses) and Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism).

Hasidic philosophy or Hasidism (חסידות), alternatively transliterated as Hasidut or Chassidus, consists of the teachings of the Hasidic movement, which are the teachings of the Hasidic rebbes, often in the form of commentary on the Torah (the Five books of Moses) and Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism).

Rebuilt synagogue of the Baal Shem Tov in Medzhybizh, Ukraine
Grave of Elimelech of Lizhensk, leading disseminator of Hasidism in Poland-Galicia
Simcha Bunim of Peshischa, successor to The Holy Jew, who continued the Peshischa School of Hasidism
Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad, the intellectual school in Hasidism
Pilgrimage gathering at Nachman of Breslov's burial place in Uman, Ukraine
Plaque on the mausoleum of Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Ishbitz, author of the antinomian Mei Hashiloach
Title page of Toldot Yaakov Yosef, 1867 edition. This work was the first published Hasidic text.
Title page of Maggid Devarav L'Yaakov (Koretz, 1781 edition).

These comparisons are qualified, however, by considerations that Chabad thought is not rationalistic, as it builds its philosophical investigations of divinity upon Lurianic Kabbalah and other traditional Torah sources without independent reason from first principles; though incorporating Maimonidean and other medieval Jewish philosophy methods, most Chabad thought is presented in a Kabbalistic theosophical framework; its aim is inward mystical self-transformation applied to self-sacrifice in Jewish observance, not formal philosophical intellectualism; and Chabad thought retains mystical revelation as its infinite intuitive divine essence source, drawn down into successively greater intellectual understanding by each leader of Chabad.

In the beginning, God had to contract (Tzimtzum) His omnipresence or infinity, the Ein Sof.

The Ancient of Days (1794)
Watercolor etching by William Blake

Ancient of Days

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Name for God in the Book of Daniel.

Name for God in the Book of Daniel.

The Ancient of Days (1794)
Watercolor etching by William Blake
The Ancient of Days, a 14th-century fresco from Ubisi, Georgia.

In the Zohar, the seminal document of Kabbalah that emerged in 13th-century Spain, there is mention of the Ancient of Ancients, and the Holy Ancient One – Atika Kadisha, variably interpreted as synonymous with the En Sof, the unmanifested Godhead.

In 16th-century Lurianic Kabbalah, Atik Yomin is systemised as the uppermost Partzuf (Divine "Countenance/Configuration") in the rectification of the World of Atzilut ("Emanation") after the "Shattering of the sephirot Vessels".