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embedded Kabbalah matrix

from Summa Metaphysica I: Religious Man: God and Evil

from Part II: The “Quest for Potential” Unified Formulation

100.03  Kabbalistic Parallel

(pp. 67-69)

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100.03 Kabbalistic Parallel

Lurianic Kabbalah can be refocused in the light of this formulation. Indeed, if one takes the liberty of stripping Kab­balah of its majestic imagery down to its very core, it would seem that major elements of kabbalistic doctrine were groping or heading in this very direction.
We would draw the following parallel and relationship:

Infinite Holy Potential
cosmic quests for potential
En Sof
Sefirot

A neo-kabbalistic variation of “infinite holy potential” would posit that the En Sof—the infinite, the root of the Ten Sefirot, "the Root of all Roots"227—demanded greater expression. Within the obscurity of mystical doctrine, one factor is clear: the En Sof—the Primal/Infinite Divine—had "neither qualities nor attributes."228

Our neo-kabbalistic development would posit that the kab­balist's Ten Sefirot, the next level of Divine emanation, de­manded more tangible expression.229 The Ten Sefirot are vari­ously described as the Ten Spheres, Regions, Faces, Manifestations, Crowns, Stages, Garments, Modes, Branches, Powers, Emanations—of God.230 The Ten Sefirot are "the ten spheres of Divine manifestation in which God emerges from His hidden abode."231 They are most commonly enumerated as follows:

KETER ELYON
HOKHMAH
BINAH
HESED
GEVURAH
RAHAMIM
NETSAH
HOD
YESOD
MALKHUTH
"Supreme Crown"
"Wisdom"
"Intelligence"
"Love/Mercy"
"Power"
"Compassion"
"Everlasting endurance"
"Majesty"
"Foundation"
"Kingdom of God"232

One interpretation, which converges with our study, is that they are "the ten stages of the inner world, through which God descends from the inmost recesses down to His revelation in the Shekinah."233 We would recast the Sefirot as primal quests for potentiality which enable Infinite Holy Potential to "traverse the bridge" from "emptiness" to "Somethingness" and mandat­ing Creation. They are the "transition from En Sof to crea­tion."234
There is, indeed, a significant current in kabbalistic doctrine which links the Sefirot with the concept of potentiality.235

Every Sefirah is transformed from a general attribute of God into what the Kabbalists call a Partsuf, a "countenance" of God, which means that all the potentialities implied in every Sefirah are now brought under the influence of a formative principle.

—Vita1236


footnotes:

227. See Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, pp. 207, 208, 214.
228. See ibid., p. 207. Cf. Maimonides, Guide 3:20. Cf. Matt's "introduc­tion" to Moses de Leon, in Zohar, p. 33.
229. See Hirsch, Chapters of the Fathers on Avot 5:1. "By ten utterances was the world created . . ."
230. Note Agus, The Evolution of Jewish Thought, p. 287.
231. See Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, pp. 213-214.
232. See ibid., pp. 213-214.
233. Ibid., p. 214.
234. Matt, Zohar, p. 34.
235. See Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, pp. 81-84,437.

Cf. ibid., p. 450. "In their conception of the emanation, the kabbalists of Gerona unite the two motifs of the emergence from potentiality to actuality on the one hand, and of the maturation of the organic process, on the other."

CF. Azriel of Gerona, Commentary on Talmudic Aggadoth, p. 110 (lines 13-14 in particular), and idem, Perush Eser Sefirot, p. 4 (sec. gimel).

On a very closely related track, the Book of Bahir deals with the aeons, or powers, of God. Scholem notes: "Each middah [aeon] is a particular spiritual potency." Ibid., p. 82.

236. Hayim Vital, Ets Hayim (Warsaw, 1891), XI, 7, p. 107, as cited in Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, p. 269, n. 76.

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