The Zohar/Rav Brandwein Writings
Kabbalah News/Essays Search Our Site Kabbalah Audio Files Contact Us Home
Introduction to the Zohar, Lesson 4, Parshas Mishpatim, 5765, Feb. '05
By our Honorable and Holy Master, Teacher and Rebbi, Rabbi Avraham Brandwein, Of Yerushalayim, Israel, may he live long and happily, Amen.
“Behold, the first inquiry is: how can we imagine that creation is new, i.e. something new that was not contained within Him, may He be blessed, before He created it, especially at a time when it is clear to all deep thinkers that there is nothing that is not included within Him, may He be blessed. Likewise, the simple intellect demands this to be so, because you cannot have a giver give something, which he does not have within himself.”
First we need to know, what is the concept of “creation” (Beriyah), and what is the difference between “creation” (Beriyah) and “formation” (Yetzirah)?
“Creation” (Beriyah) means an entirely new creation, i.e. ex nihilo (something from nothing) (Yesh MeAyin). This means that it did not exist at all, in any form, not even in potential. This is as written by the Ramban (Nachmanides) in the beginning of Sefer Bereishis (Genesis), “Hakadosh Baruch Hu (the Holy One Blessed Be He) created all of the created beings from absolute nothingness. In Hebrew, we only have the term Bara (create), to represent something from nothing.”
This is not the case with formation (Yetzirah), which is something from something (Yesh MeYesh). The one who forms things (Yotzer) brings together and combines different materials, which already exist. Through their being combined, a new formation (Yetzirah) is formed.
Now we can understand the first inquiry, “How can we imagine that creation is new, i.e. something new that was not contained within Him, may He be blessed, before He created it.” The designation of creation (Beriyah) is something entirely new. How is it possible to create something new, which was not even in potential, since there is a rule, “You cannot have a giver give something, which he does not have within himself?” For example, the seminal drop of the child, which is found in potential in the brain of the father, or the seed of a fruit, which contains within it the tree and the fruit. The difference between the giver and the receiver is like going from potential to action. However, the matter does exist in potential. How can a giver give something, which he does not have?
This question brings us to the second inquiry: “If you will say that from the aspect of His All-Capableness, certainly he is able to create something from nothing, i.e. something new, which had no existence within Him, may He be blessed.” If so, “What is this existence, which is entirely new?” This means to say, that the rule is correct that you cannot have a giver give something, which he does not have within himself. Furthermore, it is impossible to create something totally new. However, these rules apply to human beings, who are limited in their ability. But Hakadosh Baruch Hu is All-Able; He is able to create something totally new, even if the matter is beyond our comprehension.
From all that has been explained until here, the conclusion is that the concept of a Creator (Boray), is only applicable to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Only He, who is All-Able, and not limited in His power, is able to create something totally new. Even though it seems that we create new things, all of the technologic and electronic developments, from airplanes, submarines, telephones, to other inventions, if so, we are also capable of creating new things. But the matter is that the scientific industry does not create new things (Beriyah); they only form new things (Yetzirah). We combine materials or certain energies, which presently exist, and we combine them together. Electrical power or metal already exist, but we combine them in a certain form, which forms something new (Yetzirah), because for the beginning of any development, we must begin with an existing material.
Even a new idea begins from the imagination of contemplating what already exists. For example, the idea to build an airplane is through the comparison to birds, the imitation of their take-off and landing, the direction of their wings, etc. Therefore, we only form (Yetzirah); we do not create (Beriyah).
At the beginning of Section 2, it is written that it is forbidden to inquire into the Essence of the Creator, but rather our inquiry is only about His actions, and here the inquiry is a Mitzvah, as it is written, (Divrei Hayamim Chronicles 28), “Know the G-d of your father and serve Him.” It is also written in the Song of Unity, “Just from His actions do we recognize Him.”
What is forbidden to inquire into His Essence is, for instance, we are incapable of investigating how the Creator is able to create something new. This is beyond our comprehension, because whatever we cannot comprehend, we cannot designate it with a name. Our grasp and comprehension are only from actions, which are visible to our eyes. All of our recognition of the Creator is only according to our contemplation in the created world. According to the created world, the entire universe, the world and all that it is filled with, and the characteristics of human beings, according to this, we can understand how wise is the Creator, may He be blessed. However, who is He in His Essence, without a connection to the created world, we have no comprehension. Therefore, the question, such as, “How is He able to create something from nothing,” is a question about His Essence, which we are incapable of understanding.
On the other hand, this lack of knowledge does not hinder us, just as it does not hinder us to know what is truly the essence of a certain material. What is important to us is that the main issue for us is the benefit that we bring out from each thing.
Likewise, what Dovid HaMelech commanded his son Shlomo, “Know the G-d of your father and serve Him,” means as follows. The intent is not to inquire about the Nature of the Creator, but to know His behavioral attributes (Middos), in order for us to know how to serve Him, as Chazal say, “To go in His ways, just as He is compassionate, you too should be compassionate.” To summarize, here we have two composite inquiries: 1) how is it possible to create something new, which was not contained within Him, may He be blessed, and 2) if we say that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is All-Capable, if so, what is the new creation, which did not have a prior existence, but is entirely new?
The third inquiry: “With regards to what the Kabbalists (Mekubalim) say that the soul of man is a part of G-d from above.” This means that man is a composite of two parts, the external and the internal, the body and the soul, as it is written, “And Hashem Elokim formed man from the dust of the ground.” This means that Hakadosh Baruch Hu created the body of man, from the dust of the ground, and this is the external body, the flesh, the bones, the skin and the sinews. The body alone, without the spiritual soul, is like a machine that is not attached to an electrical current. It has no value; it is like a dead body. Therefore, “And He blew into his nostrils the soul of life,” this is the soul (Neshama), the force of life; it is the G-dly part. This is as it is written in the Zohar, “‘And He blew into his nostrils;’ one who blows strongly, blows from within himself.” This soul is a G-dly part, as it is written in Mishlei (Proverbs 20), “The lamp of Hashem is the soul of man.” And it is written in Iyov (Job 4), “From the soul of G-d.” Since the body of man is limited, therefore, the G-dly light, which shines into the inside of man, is considered there to be the G-dly part. In every person is a G-dly part, as it is written in Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers 4), “Beloved is man who was made in the image. An extra love is known to him, who was created in the image, ‘For in the image of Elokim, He made man.’” The belovedness is due to the fact that the G-dly part shines within him.
The continuation of the third inquiry: “With regards to what the Kabbalists (Mekubalim) say that the soul of man is a part of G-d from above, in a manner that there is no difference between Him, may He be blessed, and the soul, except that He is the G-dliness and the soul is only a part of G-dliness. Every name represents a change, for if there is no change there is nothing new. The difference is in this, that Hakadosh Baruch Hu includes everything, as it is written, “The land is filled with His Glory,” and the soul is just a “part”.
In order to understand what is the difference between the “whole” and the “part”, they have metaphorically compared this to a stone that has been hewn from a mountain, for there is no difference between the stone and the mountain except that the mountain is the general level, the “whole”, and the stone is a particular, a “part”, a small part of the mountain. They compared the soul to a particular part of G-dliness, like a stone is a particular part of the mountain.
According to this, let us consider. This means, this is understood, that when a stone is divided from the mountain, that it is separated from the mountain by a chopping tool, which is prepared for the purpose, and thereby is separated the “part” from the “whole”. How can this be imagined with Him, may He be blessed and exalted, that a part is to be separated from His Essence, may He be blessed, until it goes out from His Essence and becomes a divided “part” from Him, which is the soul, so that it is possible to understand it as just a part from His Essence, may He be blessed?
The questions is: 1) that in the metaphor of the stone and the mountain, there is a chopping tool which separates the stone from the mountain. In the corollary of the analogy, what is comparable to the chopping tool? 2) How is it at all possible to separate and to sever G-dliness? On the physical level it is possible to move an object from place to place, but on the spiritual level it is written, “The earth is filled with His Glory,” He comprises everything. Then how and through what is it possible to separate a part from him, and move it to another place?