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The Redeemed World of Atzilut

the Breaking of the Vessels the history of the world in Lurianic Kabbalah

Because of the "Breaking of the Vessels"., Sheviret HaKelim a new emanation of the World of Atzilut was then required to rectify (tikkun) this situation.  According to Luria, the Kabbalistic "Tree of Life", the Sefirot related in a particular configoration and connected by paths, corresponds only to this later or emended world of Atzilut.  The Sefirot are now arranged in the form of Partzufim.   This is the World of Restitution, Olam ha-Tikkun, the opposite of the World of Tohu

"Tohu refers to the state of the original Sefirot, as unformed and unordered points.  Tikkun (Correction,  Restitution, Reformation) refers to the chaotic  Sefirot rearranged, mended and reformed as Partzufim  [Jacob Schochet, Mystical Concepts of Chassidism,  p.143].

In the Zohar the conception of the personality of the Godhead is based on the Sefirot.  But there is a complementary theme, very important in Lurianic Kabbalah, but less so elsewhere, of Partzufim.  Partzufim means literally "physiognomies" or "visages", but in this context Divine Personas or Personalities; anologous perhaps to the Persons of the Christian Trinity.

According to Luria, the successive Partzuf were brought into existence, were "born" or created, as a result of the marital union of the Divine Name 45 and the Divine Name 52.  Here we see another important Gnostic motif, the idea of Creation, even the creation and emanation of transcenedent divine entities, coming about through the sexual union of even more transcendent Divine essences.

The Partzufim are not only personalities, but actually male and female in nature, like the Aeons of Gnosticism.  So Abba and Imma, and Ze'er Anpin and Nukva, are paired sexually as male­ female polarities, making three levels in all:

The Parztuf are determined according to the degree of emendation needed to rectify the original fault.  Their nature depends on the degree of defect that occured in them.  In the highest partzufim, there was little or no defect, hence they formed as a total unity.  In the pair Father and Mother there was a slight defect, so they became a seperate pair (the one of the original Divine unity being split into two).  Nevertheless, because the defect is only slight, they remained in close harmony.  But with the pair Ze'er Anpin and Nukvah, made up of the reconstituted fallen sefirot, the defect was very serious indeed.  Hence they formed as two totally distinct sefirot, with the "bride" (Nukvah) being for most of the time alienated from God (Ze'er Anpin), only uniting once a week during the holy Sabbath day.

In Luria's cosmoloy, these Partzufim are the Divine Personalities that make up the Revealed Godhead.  In contrast to the unknowable Adam Kadmon, these constitute the knowable or Personal God, from the most transcendent (Atik Yomin or "Ancient of Days") to the more immanent "God of Israel" (Ze'er Anpin) and His feminine polarity, the Shekhinah.  Through the Parztuf the Godhead reveals Itself as an organic process of unfolding and progressive manifestation, rather than an unchanging and static Person of conventional monotheism.  But these Parztufim (or at least the lower ones) are created not only through the emanation of the higher Tetragrammatons, but through the restitution of the fallen Sefirot of the World of Points.  The Partzufim derive their characteristics from the emendation of the defect incurred in the sefirot during the "Breaking of the Vessels".

Lurianic Cosmology - Creation and Redemption
Lurianic Cosmology


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