23 Kislev 5782 / Saturday, November 27, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeishev
 
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HomeSpirituality and FaithKabbalah and MysticismVision of the Soul, Part 1
 
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Vision of the Soul, Part 1    

Vision of the Soul, Part 1



The vision of the soul itself is not like the vision of the physical eyes - for God's glory...

 



The form in which the Sefirot appear is a spiritual form, yet even this form is not part of their intrinsic essence but only the form in which they appear when seen through the "looking glass" of Malchut.
 
Opening 9
 
Although the Sefirot appear in the form of likenesses, even so, the form seen is not like a physical form. What is seen is something that is understood as if one saw that form in the lower world. This is called the vision of the soul, whose vision is not like the vision of the body. Accordingly, the subjects of the prophetic vision do not necessarily appear in the same way as the corresponding physical objects would appear to the physical eye. What is seen by the soul is a shining light that is understood as a circle (Igul) if what is seen is "circular", or as a straight line (Yosher) if what is seen in the vision is "straight". The same applies to all the other forms or images seen by the soul: it is not that the actual physical form is seen. Even the spiritual form that is seen is not of the intrinsic essence of the Sefirot themselves, but only the way they appear through Malchut, which shows these powers in this way.
 
Having explained the forms in which the Sefirot appear, we will now explain how even this vision is not of a physical form.
 
The proposition has two parts: Part 1: Although the Sefirot... The forms in which the Sefirot appear are not like physical forms. Part 2: Even the spiritual form that is seen... Even this subtle form is not intrinsic to the Sefirot but was purposely chosen.
 
Part 1: Although the Sefirot appear as forms and likenesses, even so, the form that appears is not like a physical form. This is what Moses said to the Children of Israel: "For you did not see any form" (Deuteronomy 4:15). For it is certainly impossible that the Supreme Glory could appear even symbolically in any physical form or likeness whatever. For even the soul has no physical form whatever, let alone the Supreme Glory. It is therefore not possible that the physical form of a lion or an ox or a man or a circle or a straight line would appear in the upper realm. Thus it is written: "But you saw no form, only a voice" (ibid. 4:12). The vision we are talking about is the vision of the soul, which means understanding rather than vision in the physical sense. The soul does not see what it sees as external physical forms. Rather, the prophet's soul gains insight into the true spiritual essence of what he "sees", after which his intellect forms a mental picture or image of it. If one could see into the prophet's soul, one would see that subtle mental or spiritual picture there.
 
If you say that the intellect forms a mental picture of something seen by the soul in some physical form [e.g. an actual circle], it is not so. What the soul sees are the powers of the spiritual realm arranged in a certain order that is expressed in the form in which the soul sees them. [For example, the soul may have a perception of God's overall, general providence - as opposed to His individual providence over the details of creation - and "translate" this perception into the form of a "circle".] Thus the Sefirot are seen as lights arranged in a spiritual order which is understood as having the form of circles (Igulim) or as having a linear, upright form (Yosher). The Sefirot may "break through" or "ascend" or "descend" in various ways. Not that this is the actual form it takes, but this is how we can understand it.
 
Thus: What is seen is something that is understood as if one could see that form in the lower world. This is called the vision of the soul, whose vision is not like the vision of the body. In other words, the soul itself understands what it sees. The vision of the soul itself is not like the vision of the physical eyes - for God's glory cannot be seen by the physical eye. Accordingly it need not be pictured other than in forms appropriate and relevant to the vision of the soul that beholds it, and the soul sees things as they actually are, not some external physical form.
 
To be continued.
 
(Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum is the director of Azamra (http://www.azamra.org/).




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