Moshe Chaim Luzzatto ("RaMChaL"):
138 Openings of Wisdom
The uncertainties in the Unknown Head and their consequences in the Partzufim: opposites that all exist.
All the different kinds of interconnections that could possibly exist between MaH and BaN were indeed made, and the essential concealed governmental order follows them all. There are ways of connecting that are opposite in nature yet even so, both connections exist - because this is the way the Partzufim are compounded, and both give rise to certain qualities in the Partzufim. The way these combinations rule above governs what happens in the Partzufim. However, this is not graspable or visible in the least. Except that when we observe the differences found in the Partzufim in various different states and certain other changes that take place in them, we know that these derive from the way MaH and BaN are joined. However, no one at all sees them for what they truly are.
Having explained the location of the governmental order arising out of this interconnection of MaH and BaN, we we will now consider it in more detail and discuss the uncertainties contained in the Unknown Head.
The proposition consists of two parts: Part 1: All the different kinds of connections... This explains what is contained in the Unknown Head as a result of the way MaH and BaN join together. Part 2: The way these combinations rule above... How this affects the Partzufim.
Part 1: All the different kinds of connections that could possibly exist between MaH and BaN... This whole subject relates to the "uncertainties" (ספקות, s'feikot) discussed by the ARI of blessed memory in connection with the Head that is Unknown. These are uncertainties relating to the way MaH and BaN are joined (see Etz Chayim, Shaar Atik ch. 3ff). There are two apparent difficulties about these teachings. Firstly, of what benefit is it to know what these uncertainties are? Secondly, the ARI himself says - and it is necessarily the case - that just as there are uncertainties relating to the Unknown Head, so there are in all the other Partzufim (ibid. ch. 5). If so, one could ask what reason there is to call this Head specifically the "Head that is Unknown" when all the rest of Atzilut is likewise unknown.
We could try to answer this by saying that this one is the first in the sense that it is in this Head that the uncertainties are first born, and only thereafter are they drawn into the other Partzufim of Atzilut. However, this does not seem consistent with the clear intent of the words of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai of blessed memory. For in the Idra Zuta (288a) it is evident that he calls this Head by this name because of its tremendous greatness and glory, and this is why it is concealed. (The implication is not as we tried to answer, that this Head is the first and the root with respect to the uncertainties. Rather, it is that the Head is unknown because of its very greatness and glory, and this is why it cannot be grasped.) For he says: "The Head that does not know and is not known... that is not attached to Wisdom and not to Understanding..." If so, all of Atzilut is the same - so what special reason is there to call this Head by this name? (The same greatness and glory are also in the other Partzufim as well as uncertainties as to their composition.)
The answer is that the Unknown Head stands as a single governmental order which requires that it should be this way with these uncertainties. And because of its power and control, these uncertainties are also found in the other Partzufim as aspects that develop as a result. The uncertainties we are talking about are not the normal kind of uncertainties where we are in doubt about whether something is or is not the case. With regard to the uncertainties discussed in relation to the Unknown Head, the truth is that all of the different combinations of MaH and BaN do indeed exist (even though they appear contradictory). Bearing this in mind will help you to understand why it is that the uncertainties we are discussing arise, especially all the details discussed by the ARI of blessed memory, which we could not have conceived at all. Granted, there may be matters of doubt relating to the lights and vessels of BaN and all that depends on this. But as for all the other uncertainties relating to the detailed interconnections between MaH and BaN in the Unknown Head (Etz Chayim Shaar Atik ch. 3) - what is the reason for the uncertainty?
The reason is that it is this very Head itself - as far as we can have any knowledge of it at all - that causes these uncertainties. One moment it seems one way and another moment it seems different. If this Head were completely concealed, we could simply say in one word that its function is hidden from us without going into detail about what it is that is uncertain. However, as I have said, the fact is that all of these different and contradictory aspects can be discerned. (They can only appear one after another but they exist simultaneously.) However, it is simply impossible to come to a definite conclusion and determine any one facet with absolute certainty.
For as you have already heard (Openings 6-7), each governmental order is one light through seeing which it is possible to understand the governmental order or aspect in question. Now this Head that is Unknown is one kind of light traveling in the mode of "running and returning" (Idra, ibid.) in which all these different aspects can be seen but it is impossible to gain a definite grasp of any one of them. What one sees is uncertain and without any fixity, because one moment it appears one way, but on further examination it looks different.
...were indeed made... For these combinations of MaH and BaN are all the different ways in which goodness can spread in order to bring evil back to good. Clearly if a single interconnection had been missing, one repair would have been lacking, whereas everything must be repaired. On the contrary, it is the power to create different combinations that joins one thing to another detail by detail until all the different parts are joined to each other in every possible way.
...and the essential concealed governmental order follows them all. These combinations of MaH and BaN constitute the laws of the concealed governmental order we are discussing. Just as the revealed governmental order is made up of detailed laws - the laws of the Partzufim and all that depends on them, these being orders sufficient to govern all that exists in every aspect of their government - similarly, this concealed governmental order consists of detailed individual laws sufficient to govern everything within it. These laws are the combinations of MaH and BaN.
The difference between the concealed and revealed orders is that in the case of the latter, all its different aspects are visible individually and we are certain that they all exist. But the different aspects of the concealed order are not known with the same certainty. Rather, its laws are known only as uncertainties. (The laws, which are all the different possibilities of repair and damage, derive from all the possible combinations of MaH and BaN. What is unknown is which of the possible combinations functions and when. See Etz Chayim Shaar Atik ch. 5: "...there are uncertainties without end".) Seeing various kinds of pathways, we know that all these pathways exist. However, it is impossible to fix anything with certainty when looking at this Head because things keep turning into the opposite. (It is impossble to formulate an all-encompassing law to explain the entire governmental order because it depends on which roots of the creation need to be repaired, and they are unknown to us.)
There are ways of connecting that are opposite in nature... i.e. in the way they are combined, for every element is joined with all the others. Their interconnections are thus literally the opposite of one another. (Simple elements can be combined in opposite ways.)
...yet even so, both connections exist... i.e. both of the contrary and opposite combinations. And this is not problematic, because both exist in order for each to rule over one aspect by itself. The Partzufim also have qualities deriving from the one combination of MaH and BaN and qualities from the other.
...because this is the way the Partzufim are compounded, and both give rise to certain qualities in the Partzufim. However, sometimes one power and quality rules, and sometimes another.
Part 2: The way these combinations rule above governs what happens in the Partzufim. As we have said, the Partzufim are bound up with these interconnections between MaH and BaN, which give rise to certain qualities in them. It follows that a change in the ruling combinations will lead to change in the qualities ruling in the Partzufim. However, this is not graspable or visible in the least. In other words, this root is not known, because it is not revealed.
Except that when we observe the differences found in the Partzufim... - for the differences are visible in the Partzufim. ...in various different states and certain other changes that take place in them... For sometimes lights and repairs are seen to hold sway in the Partzufim and sometimes deficiencies. These are the changes in the states and functioning of the Partzufim as discussed in the teachings of the ARI of blessed memory in connection with these uncertainties. ...we know that these derive from the way MaH and BaN are joined. The Head that is Unknown is the root of all this - i.e. these changes derive from there.
However, no one at all sees them for what they truly are. Because this root is not visible, it is impossible to grasp and understand their true nature.
138 OPENINGS OF WISDOM INDEX PAGE
by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5764 - 2004 All rights reserved