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The Kabbalistic Theory of Emanation of Worlds

concentric worlds

 Like the Neoplatonists, the Kabbalists held a strongly emanationist  position.  Thus they teach that the En Sof ("the Infinite"; i.e.  the Absolute or Godhead) emanates the first sefirah, Keter, which in turn emanates the next one, Hokmah, and so on, down to the lowest sefirah, Malkhut (se ediagram above).

An alternative version has the emanation of worlds rather than sefirot.  So the En Sof emanates the World of Atzilut, Atzilut emanates Beriah, and thus through to the lowest world, Asiyah.

In Kabbalah therefore there is no "creation out of nothing" in the conventional Judeo-Christian sense.  Moreover,  each of the sefirt and worlds stands in a precise relationship to the adjacent worlds..  To quote  Rabbi Levi I. Krakovsky, a contemporary Kabbalistic writer:

 "...Ain Sof is considered as Spirit to Adam Kadmon and Adam  Kadmon is the vessel for that Spirit, symbolising matter....Adam Kadmon in relation to Atzilut is Spirit, and Azilut is matter against Adam Kadmon.  Bria is matter to Atzilut and Atzilut is spirit to Bria.  Bria is spirit to Yetzira and Yetzira is matter to Bria.  Yetzirah is spirit to  Assia and Assia is matter to Yetzira."

 [Rabbi Levi I. Krakovsky, Kabbalah, the Light of Redemption, Research Centre of Kabbalah,  1970, p.19]

Other connections between the successive worlds can be  made.  Elsewhere in the same work Krakovsky writes:

 "...the world of Emanation [Atzilut] is the root to the  world of Creation [Beriah], its branch.  The world of Creation is in turn the root to the world of Formation  [Yetzirah], its branch, and so on..." [Ibid, p.86]

Almost exactly the same metaphor - root and offshoot - in the ancient Indian Chandogya Upanishad (Seventh Century B.C.E.).

 And because each lower world contains the same sefirotic configoration as the one which preceeded it, each lower level is a lower image of the preceeding World.  The ten Sefirot, the ten archetypal attributes of God, are thus repeated in each World or plane of existence.

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page history

page uploaded 28 May 1998
revised 31st May 1998
revised again 17 October
and on 20 March 1999