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The vessels are nullified to the light.

Close to the Light

Close to the Light

Close to the Light
The vessels are nullified to the light.

The highest and most perfected level of Tikun is called the world of Atzilut, the world of Emanation. The word Atzilut in Hebrew derives from the word etzel, meaning "close to" or "near". The world of Atzilut is "close to" the Infinite Light, even though it is not united and identified with it to the same degree as the world of Adam Kadmon.

The word Atzilut also means "to set aside", "take from", or "draw down", for the light of the world of Atzilut is, so to speak, "taken from" and "drawn down" from the world above it, the world of Adam Kadmon.

At every stage of devolution of the Infinite Light, an additional factor of limitation is added. The dimension and limitation that is added in the world of Atzilut is the aspect of inner structure. Adam Kadmon is unstructured and so tightly bound together that it is impossible to distinguish top and bottom, inside and outside, beginning and end; in Atzilut, however, the dimension of internal structure is added. In fact, the entire concept of internalization, of immanence - as opposed to transcendence - is first evident in the world of Atzilut.

In the world of Atzilut there is a distinction between lights and vessels

Atzilut is thus the first plane, or world of immanence, of structure. In the world of Atzilut there is a distinction between "lights" and "vessels" —called orot and kelim, respectively. This is not a separation between the lights and vessels, for the lights and vessels of Atzilut are integrally bound up with each other. Nevertheless, there is a distinction between them. One aspect is recognizable as light and another is recognizable as the vessels which contain and limit the light.

A simple analogy: in an initial flash of insight, the "eureka" of sudden inspiration, one has not yet had the time to analyze and interpret the original insight and sort it into the appropriate categories of understanding. The inspirational idea is felt. It is present. However, the potential to analyze, interpret and understand the inspiration, hasn't been conceptualized yet. In our analogy, the world of Atzilut corresponds to the structuring of the idea and the process of understanding it. In more technical language, this is the forming of vessels for containing the original unformed light.

The amount of light revealed depends on the capability of the vessels to receive

Obviously, the amount of light revealed depends on the capability of the vessels to receive that light, just as the degree to which a person understands an idea is dependent on his intellectual capabilities. The original idea (an analogy for the light) and the understanding of it (an analogy for the vessels) are integrally connected — for the idea is grasped only according to the level of understanding. They are, nevertheless, two distinct things. It could be, in our analogy, that the person doesn't understand the original idea; accordingly, what he doesn't understand remains in a transcendent state, beyond his intellectual capabilities. Light is grasped (i.e. internalized or made immanent) according to the ability of the vessels to receive it, just as an idea is grasped (i.e., internalized or made immanent) only according to the ability of the person to understand. In other words, the quality of light drawn down corresponds to, and is dependent on, the receptivity of the vessels. In the world of Atzilut the correlation between lights and vessels is about as perfect as it can be without the vessels actually disappearing, as they do in Adam Kadmon. The vessels in Atzilut exist, but they are nullified to the light.

This is how we would define the world of Atzilut — there is internal structure, and the light becomes immanent; i.e. the light drawn down from above becomes structured and ordered. In our analogy — the idea becomes understood perfectly.

The World of Tikun

This is why the world of Atzilut is called the world of Tikun, which means "rectification" and order. This is because in Atzilut the light becomes ordered and structured, according to the capability of the vessels to receive it. The vessels of Atzilut are as capable of receiving light as vessels can be before disappearing into oblivion. Thus it follows that structure in the world of Atzilut is neither a hindrance to, nor an obscuring of, the light, as it is in the lower worlds. In this sense, the world of Atzilut is still a world of non-being, a world of thought, since the vessels are nullified to the light.

Note: the concept of structure will be explained where we discuss the sefirot, the emanated lights and vessels below. There it is explained how actual existence comes about through the vessels, not through the lights.

To view the previous article in the Worlds series, Chaos and the Primordial, click here.

The next article in the Worlds series: The World of Creation.

Rabbi Moshe Miller was born in South Africa and received his yeshivah education in Israel and America. He is a prolific author and translator, with some twenty books to his name on a wide variety of topics, including an authoritative, annotated translation of the Zohar. He has developed a coaching-type approach to dealing with life's issues based on Chassidism and Kabbalah—a tool for dealing with normal issues that everyone faces as well as issues psychologists usually address, often ineffectively. He also gives free live classes over the Internet.
The Zohar is a basic work of Kabbalah authored by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his students (2nd century CE). English translation of annotated selections by Rabbi Moshe Miller (Morristown, N.J.: Fiftieth Gate Publications, 2000) includes a detailed introduction covering the history and basic concepts of Kabbalah. Volume 1 (36 pp.) covers the first half of the first of the original’s three volumes. It is available online from our store, KabbalaOnline Shop.
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Doreet Eugene OR December 30, 2014

close to the light I read, that King Solomon had an onion, and he looked at it,& realized the physical world was like the outside layer of the onion,reality, and the layers were the layers of reality over this world, till you got to the HEART of the onion,which is the highest level of reality,Maybe this helps to explain it. The Creator lies at the highest level of reality, which we can rarely see,as the covering levels protect it.Also, example of our brains,being the center of thought,till the thought transfers to the nervous syatem,thru individual nerves,to the nerves,muscle of hand,and fingers, which move to do tasks in the physical world. A brain,center of thought, needs protection, far from the physical world its fingers are commanded to do tasks in. And would a mouse look at a person,& be able to comprehend it's mind,thought, ect?the internal brain structure? It would wonder,"what is that?"As do we. Reply

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