Moshe Chaim Luzzatto ("RaMChaL"):
138 Openings of Wisdom
Partzuf - a complete mode of government with 613 parts
A Partzuf is how a single light spreads and is revealed in all its particulars in one order in which certain parts remain interior while others are exterior, some are higher and others lower. All of them are bound together in one order so as to be joined to one another and governed by one overall governmental law, each in accordance with its own function. Altogether there are 613 parts, each of which is in turn built of a number of smaller parts as required for its complete perfection.
After the repair, the Sefirot were made into Partzufim, and this is what we will now discuss. The first thing that must be explained is the concept of a Partzuf.
This proposition consists of two parts. Part 1: A Partzuf... This explains under what conditions the term Partzuf is applied. Part 2: Altogether there are 613... This explains what are the lights that make up the Partzuf.
Part 1: A Partzuf is how a single light spreads and is revealed in all its particulars... The difference between a Sefirah and a Partzuf has already been explained above (Opening 17). Our purpose there was to explain the difference in the way they appear in the prophetic vision of the Chariot (i.e. to explain the place of each in the Chariot, which is a composite of all the modes of divine government). Now, however, it is necessary to discuss the concept of Partzuf in more detail in order to provide the necessary foundation to understand the governmental order later on. As stated above, a Partzuf is one of the powers (i.e. Sefirot) that becomes differentiated into its constituent parts and conditions in a revealed way.
...in one order... This is the order or organizational basis governing the arrangement of all of the individual details that make up the Likeness of Man, as discussed earlier (Opening 12).
...in which certain parts remain interior while others are exterior... In terms of the Likeness of Man, a fundamental distinction must be made between the interior and the exterior - i.e. the internal and external parts. Included here is the concept of the soul and the body. In the body there are three vessels: internal, external and intermediary. Moreover, we distinguish between the body and its garments, and likewise between inner light and encompassing light and all the other aspects discussed in the Kabbalistic writings in connection with the various states of the different levels, one within the other. This is called the "measure of the thickness" (עובי, ovi) or "breadth". What is understood by this is the way things are clothed one within another (e.g. Chochmah-Binah-Daat within Chessed-Gevurah-Tiferet, which are within Netzach-Hod-Yesod).
Another fundamental distinction is between the head or start and the end, and between upper and lower, as the proposition goes on to say:
...some are higher and others lower. Things can be higher or lower in terms of their proximity to the root or the extent to which they spread in relation to the lower world. This is the "measure of the height" (שיעור הקומה, shiur hakomah): every upper level has a higher function than the level below it. These concepts enable us to understand the developmental sequence governing the emergence of the Partzufim and also how the lights are connected with one another.
All of them are bound together in one order... i.e. in that same particular form or likeness, namely the Likeness of Man. Through this we can understood the way the levels are linked to another and likewise how they depend on one another through the principle of mechanical interaction (כונניות, kon'niyut, "like a clock whose wheels meet and one small wheel moves many great wheels" - Daat Tevunot p. 101). Various other Kabbalistic concepts also relate to the way the different levels join together and interact.
...so as to be joined to one another... Each part is joined with another to work in combination as required by the governmental order. Thus the different levels join together to rule in such a way that when one level is aroused, the level connected with it is also aroused. In addition, there is a spirit (רוח, ru'ach) that goes around through the whole body (see above, Opening 34 Part 2).
...and governed by one overall governmental law... This is the "heart" (i.e. Tiferet, the center) which, through its blood and through the spirit (רוח, ru'ach) within it, governs all the different limbs and organs in accordance with their individual nature. This is how the government of the entire Partzuf emerges from the root, which is the connective bond of the Partzuf through the mystery of the "understanding heart". This is a particular facet that stands for this purpose, whereby Binah, Tiferet and Malchut are joined together, and from there the government emerges in its full depth and truth.
...each in accordance with its own function. Each part or limb of the Partzuf is governed by the "heart" in accordance with the nature and function of the part in question. This is obvious, because this overall law is literally like the heart, which governs all the limbs.
Part 2: Altogether there are 613 parts... To be a Partzuf, the Sefirah must be differentiated into its particular details. But the truth is that the total number of details is 613. This number is integral to the mystery of the Likeness of Man, for the Supreme Mind calculated that this was what was necessary in order to give the world the required character.
...each of which is in turn built of a number of smaller parts... This is also integral to the mystery of the Likeness of Man: each part is built of numerous small details. ...as required for its complete perfection. This was also calculated as part of the calculation made by the Supreme Mind in order to lead to complete perfection.
138 OPENINGS OF WISDOM INDEX PAGE
by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5764 - 2004 All rights reserved