Printed from kabbalaonline.org
In-depth commentary on Patach Eliyahu

Elijah's Prayer Meditation - Part 1

Elijah's Prayer Meditation - Part 1

 Email
Elijah's Prayer Meditation - Part 1
In-depth commentary on Patach Eliyahu

Introduction

Patach Eliyahu ("Elijah's Prayer Meditation") is taken from the end of the second introduction to the Tikunei Zohar. The entire prayer meditation may be divided naturally into four parts, corresponding to the Four-Letter Name of G‑d, Havayah.

1. Corresponding to the yud, Elijah informs us of G‑d's indivisible unity, transcending everything, precluding the existence of anything "other". The endless light of Ein Sof both surrounds and transcends the entire system of Creation...

Elijah begins with the foundation principle of all Kabbala, namely, the simple (non-composite) indivisible unity of the blessed Ein Sof. Ein Sof transcends all paradoxes. The endless light of Ein Sof both surrounds and transcends the entire system of Creation, at the same time that a measured illumination of its light permeates and is clothed within every aspect of reality.

2. Corresponding to the first hei, we are told that despite His utter concealment beyond anything that we can know or understand, G‑d wanted to reveal Himself. He therefore created a system of universes, with their sefirot and partzufim, which act as filters and veils to diminish the intensity and power of His Light. Ein Sof emanated the ten sefirot of Atzilut. Although the specific term "Atzilut" is not mentioned anywhere in the meditation, it is implied, along with the universe that precedes it (Adam Kadmon), and the three universes that follow it (Beriya, Yetzira and Asiya). Elijah is not concerned here with explaining how the blessed Ein Sof brought the sefirot or the universes into existence from nothing. All we are told is that their purpose (both of the sefirot and the universes) is to shield us from too great a revelation of Ein Sof. Indeed, the entire system is regulated by the ten sefirot of Atzilut for this purpose. In essence, every lower universe is a "garment" over the universe that preceded it, and its function is to diminish the light of Ein Sof that flows through it.

3. Corresponding to the vav, we are told that the purpose of all this is to relate to Man. Man is central, critical. What he does has an effect on the entire system. He can purify it or sully it. He can reveal G‑d in His system or, G‑d forbid, the opposite. Accordingly, we understand that Ein Sof creates the entire system of sefirot and universes in order to diminish the power of His Light.

4. Corresponding to the final hei, we are told what exactly Man must do in order to bring about the Redemption, which is the ultimate revelation of G‑d into His System. This is the secret of the Redemption - not only of Israel, but also of the Shechina. This is the secret of teshuva, read "tashuv [Hebrew for 'return the…'] hei", uniting the Shechina, corresponding to the final hei of G‑d's Name, with the Holy One blessed-be-He, corresponding to the vav. This itself is to be done by connecting to the souls of the ancient patriarchs, matriarchs, prophets and sages in the spiritual dimension, thereby uniting heaven and earth.

The prophet Elijah, of blessed memory, opened, and said:

The prophet Elijah revealed himself to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in a cave while in hiding (see Shabbat 33). According to Ramchal (Adir BaMarom), the very purpose of Rabbi Shimon's remaining in the cave for so long (12 years plus 1 year), was in order to "bring down the revelation of the prophet Elijah that would be needed until Mashiach."

Transcendent beyond all that is above, and concealed behind all that is concealed...

The Hebrew word for "opened" used is "patach", which implies a two-way opening: It is an opening to rise up and through the incredible expanses on the heavens that lie beyond the confines of this earthly plane, to stand in the presence of the Holy One blessed be He. It is also an Opening to bring the heavenly light of Ein Sof down into our dark and unconscious world by revealing the exalted teachings of the Supernal Heavenly Torah.

Elijah opened the "faucets" of the spiritual dimension to bring down Torah that had never been revealed before. (Rabbi Avraham Galanti, commentary on Introduction to the Zohar 1:1).

Eternal Hidden Master of the worlds! You are He whose Unity is infinite and absolute, and therefore indivisible. You are He [the First Cause], transcendent beyond all that is above, and concealed behind all that is concealed. No thought whatsoever can grasp You.

"You are He" "You" refers to G‑d's Immanence, while "He" is His Transcendence. By addressing Ein Sof as "You" (i.e. You whom we recognize from within the prism of creation), Elijah is also speaking, indirectly, to "He" (i.e. He who is beyond all categories).

The blessed Ein Sof is "The Cause of all causes", for all other "causes" are really "effects" of His Primordial Causality and exist because of Him. Two different descriptions of Ein Sof are employed: "transcendent beyond all that is above" [Ila'ah Al Kol Ila'in] and "concealed behind all that is concealed" [Setima Al Kol Setimin]. The first alludes to the aspect of the light of Ein Sof that surrounds and encompasses the entire system of universes. The second alludes to the immanent light of Ein Sof that flows into and throughout the system of universes through the Kav ("pipeline" or "conduit"). For all the Partzufim are clothed and concealed, one within the other, while the light of Ein Sof is clothed and concealed and secreted within them all (at the very core of all that exists), as explained in Etz Chaim 2:2. (Yein HaRekach)

See the beginning of Shaar HaKavanot where it is written, "It is revealed that there is no physicality above, G‑d forbid. None of these metaphors (that appear throughout Kabbalistic literature) are to be taken literally. Rather, they are to be used solely as aids to understanding to allow a person to perceive spiritual matters that are not easily grasped. In truth, however, it is obvious that beyond a certain point, everything is completely beyond our grasp...." This is the meaning of "No thought whatsoever can grasp You." (Yein HaRekach)

But You are He who brought forth ten rectifications - we call them the ten sefirot of Atzilut - with which to regulate [the powerful illumination of Your Light that flows down through] hidden worlds that are not revealed [the worlds of Adam Kadmon and Atzilut] as well as worlds that are revealed [Beriya, Yetzira and Asiya].

As Elijah continues his discourse, it will become clear that it is through the sefirot that G‑d constricts His light and thereby gives man the ability to receive the ultimate gift of existence from Him. As such, the sefirot act variously as filters, garments or vessels for the Infinite Light that fills them. The sefirot are actually the basic conceptual model or structure (called here a "Body") that underlies all Creation. They allow us to speak about G‑d's immanence in His creation, what He does, without referring directly to what He is (which, as we said, is not only prohibited, but impossible). It is in this sense that the sefirot are the keys to such expressions in the Torah as "G‑d's eyes", "G‑d's ears", "G‑d's hand", etc., for they tell us about G‑d's actions. These anthropomorphisms are in no way meant to refer to G‑d Himself, but to the way we experience Him in His creation.

The "hidden worlds that are not revealed" include Adam Kadmon and the many worlds that emanate from its ears, nose and mouth, as well as its hair.

Indeed, it is through these [the ten sefirot of each universe] that You are hidden from human beings [so they can exist and not be overwhelmed by Your Light].

The inner makeup of each World consists of a unified structure of ten sefirot or divine attributes. In essence, they are the qualities through which G‑d interacts with His world. Like garments, they conceal the powerful radiation of His infinite light at the same time that they serve to reveal it.

All ten sefirot…continue to reveal His Oneness even through their diverse qualities...

G‑d, the Infinite Being, unites all ten sefirot within Himself as one, in a complete unity. This is true not only while they are still subsumed in His infinite oneness, but even after they are emanated. Because they were "fashioned" from His oneness, they continue to shine together as one, even in diversity. That is, they continue to reveal His Oneness even through their diverse qualities. One who truly perceives this Oneness in all, even in this world (which gives the impression that things can exist separately from His Blessed Oneness), will be privileged to behold these great lights in their pristine form in the World to Come.

You are He who binds them [sefirot together] and unifies them [to Yourself]. And inasmuch as You are within them, anyone who separates one from the other is regarded as having caused a separation in You [and Your Absolute Unity].

There is no power that directs You - neither above nor below...

These ten sefirot are arranged in a special order [of three columns]. [The right column is said to be] "long" [because it represents Your Love and Kindness]. [The left column is said to be] "short" [because it represents your Judgment and Power of Restraint and withdrawal]. [The middle column or trunk is said to be] "intermediate" [because it represents Your Mercy, the perfect Harmony of Love and Restraint]. [In this way, the ten sefirot are conduits through which You regulate Your interaction with human beings according to their deeds.] [Above all] it is You alone who directs them. There is no power that directs You - neither above nor below, nor from any direction.

In Patach Eliyahu, the ten sefirot are depicted in an anthropomorphic array. The highest sefira is keter ("crown" or "cranium"), followed by chochma ("wisdom") and bina ("understanding"). These are referred to as the Mochin ("Mentalities" or "Two Hemishperes of the Brain"). The seven lower sefirot are the "guf" ("body"). This structure teaches us that G‑d always reveals His light through an unfolding series of descending stages. The advantage of speaking in terms of human qualities is so that we can identify with and completely internalize the Divine Will. We can then see ourselves as extensions of the Divine, created "in the image" of G‑d. We can emulate the Divine.

This article is continued in Elijah's Meditation Prayer - Part 2 (click here).

Avraham Sutton is an Orthodox Torah teacher and author. Born in 1949 in Los Angeles to Syrian Sefardic parents, he has lived in the Jerusalem area since 1974, where he and his wife Esther have raised a family. For over 25 years, he has been learning and teaching Kabbala, Talmud, Midrash, prayer and meditation. He has translated, edited and/or authored over 15 major works in English on the deeper significance of Torah for our age. These include Innerspace -- Introduction to Kabbalah, Meditation and Prophecy from transcripts of classes given by the late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, and Pathways to the Torah, the official sourcebook used in Arachim and Discovery Seminars worldwide. You can partake of his lectures on YouTube -- search for "Rabbi Sutton".
 Email
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
2 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Anonymous October 28, 2014

Sara I think you may find that the term "Ein sof "is a reference to the G-dhead,, the Holy One blessed be He, rather that a reference to some separate entity. Literally it means "limitless." When you think about this it is obvious that all of existence must have come into existence from nothingness by the agency of the G-dhead.
What we are being told here is that "Ein Sof" is on the creating side of the divide while we, and all of existence, are on the created side of that divide. Ein Sof is beyond any manifestation. When we say "G-d", in our limited language we encompass both Ein Sof and the manifestations of the G-dhead in creation, i.e. both the transcendent and the immanent aspects of the divine.

Reply

Sara Southfield, MI via kabbalaonline.org May 8, 2012

I am not trying to say that I know more than the sages, my soul tells me that blessed EinSof did not bring the Sefirot or the universes into existence from nothing. That's like saying the Ein Sof is made from nothing. I feel the Sefirot and universes came from God particles. From God himself!
This is a very good article, thanks Reply

The larger, bold text is the direct translation of the classic text source.

The smaller, plain text is the explanation of the translator/editor.
Text with broken underline will provide a popup explanation when rolled over with a mouse.