The connection of Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah with Atzilut
Taken as a whole, Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah are one world with three garments. This is because Atzilut itself is not complete except with its garments. However, when we examine these garments individually, each one is called a world in itself. And in truth, each one has a function of its own. Accordingly, when we look at Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah with Atzilut, they can be considered only as the garments of Atzilut. However, when they are considered according to their functions, they are called worlds in themselves.
We must now examine the subject of the Nekudim in detail, However the details comprise the entire system of Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah and how they emerge. If so, this is what must be explained first.
The proposition consists of two parts. Part 1: Taken as a whole, Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah... This explains their overall arrangement. Part 2: Accordingly... This explains two aspects they contain because of this.
Part 1: Taken as a whole, Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah... This means that Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah are not a hierarchy of four worlds on a scale, each literally separate from the other, as in the case of the lights of the Ears, Nose and Mouth. Rather, they are all one system. The proof of this is that when we speak about worlds arranged as separate levels on a scale, each must be a complete world in itself. Every lower world is then actually like the world above it, and all the powers of the higher world are contained in the lower world except on a different level of the scale. In a scale of this nature, we could not say that any one of these worlds has a particular function that another does not have. For if this were the case, just as if a lower world were to function alone, its function would be lacking the unique aspect possessed by the world above it, so too, if the higher world were to function alone, it would be lacking the unique aspect possessed by the lower one. If so, it is not that the entire system itself as contained in the higher world descends down from level to level. Rather, they are many levels, all of them causal factors in one system that requires them all.
Now in the case of Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, each provides a separate division of creations. Beriyah provides the souls and Yetzirah provides the angels, while Asiyah provides the material entities. If so, the separate creations (נפרדים, nifradim) are one system resulting from many causes, these being all of the various worlds. They are not one thing that descends level by level from root to root.
And if you say that this too is a hierarchical scale made up of the souls on one level, the angels on another and the material creation on yet another, it is not so. For the Kabbalistic sages taught: "Imma nests in the world of the Throne (=Beriyah), Zeir Anpin nests in the Six Directions (=Yetzirah), while the Shechinah nests in the Wheel (=Asiyah)" (Tikkuney Zohar #6, 23a; see Etz Chayim Pt. II, Shaar Seder ABY"A). Imma, Zeir and Nukva are not a hierarchy of levels coming down one under the other, each a mirror of the other. Rather, each is something in itself, even though they do emerge in a developmental sequence. So too, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah are each something separate in itself, because each one has its own function. And these functions are those I have ennumerated: the bringing forth of souls, angels and the material world, which correspond respectively to Imma, Zeir and Nukva.
You will, moreover, see later that the soul itself comes literally from the four worlds of Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, and no soul is perfect without the four parts of Neshamah-of-the-Neshamah, Neshamah, Ruach and Nefesh. These are not all one and the same thing coming down level by level. For each one is a unique power different from all the others, and each has its own function. The Nefesh sustains the body the liver. The Ruach ascends and descends, causing all the different feelings and sensations. The soul sits in judgment over the intelligent thoughts in the mind and brain. If so, we see that Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah are all causes that join together to produce one whole, this being the separate creations (נפרדים, nifradim) in their entirety, or the soul in its entirety. If so, they are not a scale. Since they all join together to produce one entire whole, we may infer that they are all one system which requires all these things in order to be complete in all its parts.
...are one world with three garments. For in the material world we live in, we have the body and its clothes, and the root of this must exist above. Now the clothes are what covers the body after it is already complete in all aspects, for the covering is not a part of the body at all. There can be many garments, one on top of the other, and not one of them adds any new aspect to the body. The same is true of Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah in relation to Atzilut. For we already know that the entire government is brought to completion in Atzilut, and it is here that all the couplings (זיווגים, zivugim) take place producing all the different aspects needed for all the creatures in the world. However, this is not revealed as such in the lower worlds except through a garb of garments, these being Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah, which are nothing but veils concealing Atzilut. As you have already heard, Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah are all one system. They are not merely separate levels of an hierarchical scale but a system in which these three serve to conceal the light of Atzliut and garb it so as to bring it down to the lower levels.
This is because Atzilut itself is not complete except with its garments. What this means is that since it is proper that man should be clothed in his garments, if so, when we speak about the supreme Likeness of Man, we will understand this as being clothed in garments. Accordingly, when we speak of Atzilut, we must undertand that it will have its three garments -- i.e. Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah in the category of garments, as discussed further below. Atzilut is unable to carry out even what specifically relates to it except if it is clothed in Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah as garments, which become the "wings" of the Shechinah, as stated in the Zohar.
However, when we examine these garments individually... The purpose of all of the supernal lights depends on their functions. This means that certain lights may be merely subsidiary to other lights in some given function, yet nevertheless each one is a great light in itself comprising many important principles (עיקרום, ikarim). And when they are not subsidiary to those other lights, they are called fundamental principles in their own right, and it is then necessary to consider the different divisions contained in them in accordance with their individual purpose. So it is with these garments. There is a time when they are subsidiary to Atzilut. In other words, there is the reality of the existence of the functions carried out in the world, which require that the garments be secondary to Atzilut. On the other hand, there are the conditions required as a necessary basis for these functions, and in this aspect they are examined separately, each by itself.
...each one is called a world in itself... For in every case where a function is drawn down complete in all its necessary levels, those levels are collectively called a complete world, as stated earlier (Opening 31). And in truth, each one has a function of its own. These are the functions explained above and in the continuation:
Accordingly, when we look at Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah with Atzilut, they can be considered only as the garments of Atzilut. This is as we said above: the functions themselves are executed only in Atzilut, and Beriyah, Yetzirah and Asiyah are subsidiary to them, for they are merely influenced by and drawn after Atzilut and they do not act independently, and in this aspect they are called garments. However, when they are considered according to their functions, they are called worlds in themselves -- to the extent to which they act, this being the revelation of the function carried out in Atzilut.
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138 OPENINGS OF WISDOM INDEX PAGE
by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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