Sunday, February 19, 2012

Future Couple:

Part I – The Messianic Couple:

“...The Lord has created something new on earth; a woman shall court a man.” (Jeremiah 31:21, 22)[i]

Until rather recently in the history of courtship and marriage, it has been the norm for men to play the basic role of givers and for women to be the receivers. Often enough, the very first date set the tone. It was the man’s chance to demonstrate his largess as a giver and the woman her graciousness as a receiver.

During the date, he would try his best to show her a nice time and regardless of the expense, effortlessly pick up the tab as if money flowed through his hands with ease; demonstrating that is very much in his element as a giver. The woman, on the other hand, would smile at and compliment his every favor, as if to her his every bestowal was an utter surprise, a fresh experience; thereby, demonstrating that his overtures clearly pleased her and she was in her element being doted upon. Each felt blushingly more alive in each other’s presence – as if a surge of previously unknown vitality gushed through them. 

Usually, when these kinds of dates turned into engagements and then into marriages, the basic giver/receiver roles continued on. He transformed into the provider and she took care of the home. His entire happiness was wrapped in the sheer pleasure she took in the fruits of his labor. Her entire happiness is based on what gifts of life and livelihood he brought her. Of course, there were plenty of exceptions within these roles, even during their heyday. Human life was never a “black and white” event. However, understanding the highlights of the past gender ideals can still serve as a guiding light in our journey forward towards a new relationship model – more appropriate for the future.

It is no secret that giver/receiver romantic model of is becoming rarer and rarer. There are a number of social reasons for this. Firstly, most contemporary women aren’t dependent on men for livelihood. Secondly, people have more time on their hands, allowing them newfound flexibility in their time usage. No longer are men and women endlessly stuck in the roles of bread winner and homemaker.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, noted that these changes in male/female interaction aren’t merely social, but, expressions of spiritual ideals which are harbingers of an upcoming messianic era, when “men and woman will share a single crown”.  In a teaching delivered November 1991[ii], he declared that as we move into the messianic era the gender roles will shift in important ways.

The Rebbe’s described the new gender roles on the horizon as, “Male and female sharing a single crown". This term is refers back to an ancient Talmudic story. The gist of the story, along with its conventional understanding, is as follows:

On the fourth day of creation, the two great luminaries (sun and moon) were created. The moon complained to the Creator that it's inappropriate for two rulers to share a single crown, i.e. for two luminaries to be equally large and bright. The Creator then asked the moon to remedy the situation by shrinking her size and luminosity. The moon balked, feeling that it’s unfair that she should suffer just for having raised a valid issue.  To pacify her, the Creator offered a few concessions: allowing her to inhabit the daytime sky, using her orbit to guide the Jewish calendar and having saintly people named for her. She rejected the value of these offers. On the first two, she claimed that they lacked exclusivity. During the day the sun will render her light irrelevant and the Jewish calendar also uses the sun. To the third offer, she silently expressed her displeasure. The Creator felt for her pain and instituted that on every new moon, a goat sacrifice be brought on His behalf in the Holy Temple as atonement for having diminished her. Once diminished, the moon's light has been reduced to mere reflection of the sun's radiance. However, in the future messianic age the moon with regain her original stature and once again function as a full luminary in her own right.[iii]

Jewish mysticism depicts the sun and the moon as the sky’s romantic couple, male and female. However, the story doesn’t just remain in the sky. It’s also reflected in earthly male/female relationships. Historically speaking, like the moon, a woman primarily reflected the light, i.e. seminal resources, provided her husband. Mostly, she simply recast what her husband flowed to her in her own individual style; usually, by exposing and teasing out its wealth of unnoticed potential. For instance, if her man brought home money she exposed the financial potential in coins and reflected them back to him as a detailed functioning household. This is why wealthy men often attracted women more easily than their more needy counterparts - as wealth gave women what to work with to be successful in their roles.

It is obvious that we're currently moving away from this older relationship model and entering into an era where the new model is beginning to take hold. In the teaching, the Rebbe explained that "sharing a single crown" implies greater gender equality. In a strongly defined giver/receiver relationship, the giver dominates the receiver. The power balance in the relationship is very uneven; quite frankly, lopsided. However, in this new kind of relationship both genders will meet each other on equal footing, with each exchanging light with the other. These “lights” can manifest in a wide variety of blessings, including: love, telepathic understandings, ideas, possessions, children, status, etc.

At this junction in our history, it appears that we're caught in the transition between the old and new relationship paradigms. This changing game confuses couples. Many people simply don't know which card to play. While the old relationship model is fading into the background of human history, at times it still manages to dance its way into the foreground. Meanwhile, the new paradigm often demonstrates that it’s not yet on firm enough footing to have fully set in – a development further complicated by the new paradigm’s blurry identity. Transition is confusing when opposing ideals play out unpredictably. In time, clarity will set in, as the new gender ideals become terra firma.

The Rebbe's teachings left me with a series of challenging questions:

·         “What does sharing a single crown look like? “
·         What will define masculinity and femininity in this new era, i.e. what will make men male and women female?"
·         “What will be the function of messianic era couples?”
·         “What will a marriage look like in that era?”

To clarify my questions further, according to Jewish mysticism being a male or a female is not merely morphological, i.e. a matter of bodily appearance. Being male and female is ultimately a state of soul, which the earthly body merely reflects. Adam’s body and soul was originally androgynous. The Creator fashioned Adam into a couple by polarizing both his soul and body into male and female beings. Almost everything male about him gathered to one side and almost everything female to the other side. At a highly pitched moment of polarization, androgynous Adam pulled apart into two separate human beings – a pattern similar to what is known today from the biological process of meiosis.[iv] Therefore, even if men and women retain male and female morphology, this alone is not sufficient cause to claim a gender identity or role. There still needs to be a psycho-spiritual dimension to this distinction as well. What will this distinction be in the (very near) future, when both “share a single crown”?

Having some sort of handle on this gender distinction can already guide our relationships even today - as our current relationships are already tinged with a flavor of "sharing one crown”.

To begin answering these monumental questions, it’s helpful to lay the groundwork by first outlining some of the unique conditions which will prevail during the messianic era.  One of the basics of that period is that all physical resources necessary for a comfortable life will be fully and easily accessible. According to the Maimonides, the vast availability of resources will facilitate a climate of world peace and humans will be free to devote themselves to knowing their Creator.[v]  As an example of this freely available abundance, Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Bagdad described a future Jerusalem entirely self sufficient, not needing to trade with any other city for supplies.[vi]

Another factor during that era is that the curses on Adam and Eve[vii] will be lifted: Men will no longer need to work hard to bring home a livelihood and women will no longer need to experience pain in childbirth. We are already seeing some of these developments phasing in. Here are some examples:
·         Unlike the past, when people often slaved at their fathers’ vocation, today people often possess a dazzling wealth of career options, allowing them to work at what they really enjoy. No longer stuck in the rut of a particular career track from birth, people more often have the flexibility to contribute to the world doing work which accord with the callings of their souls.  

·         Women have easier means of giving birth thorough anesthesia like an epidural or through birthing exercises like Lamaze. It’s likely that the future holds the promise of even more advances in gynecological/obstetric technology, such as the capacity for pregnancy to occur in an artificial womb outside the mother.

·         Included in Eve’s curse is the discomfort of the female menstrual cycle. Thanks to advances in medicine and technology these cycles have become easier to handle, allowing women to function more easily in society. It’s likely that the future will bring even further ease.

Another interesting development easing conditions during this blessed era is “the moon getting as bright as the sun”, as we pray at the end of monthly blessing over the moon, “May the light of the moon be as bright as the light of the sun, as it was during the seven days of creation, before she was reduced”. If the definition of moon is stretched a bit to encompass any light which helps humans function at night as easily as if it were day, probably electric lighting can be included as well; at least, as the very beginning phase of this blessing. Before the dawn of electric lighting, night time activity was far more limited than it is today. Often people went to bed with nightfall and arose with dawn because night was too dark to function productively in. Today, thanks to the blessing of electric lighting we are often able to be comfortably active at night.

It’s possible to conceive that night vision optics might develop to the level where people will be able perceive brighter light radiating from the moon herself. This technology might work one of two possible ways. Either it might function as the eyes of nocturnal creatures do by gathering light in very dark conditions, like the eyes of cats, or it might function by translating light waves from outside of the human visible spectrum into light waves within the range of human vision, rendering this previously invisible light visible. Hence, the moon will be as bright as the sun, making night as bright as day. Only, it will take instruments to access this brightness. Perhaps, in time, genetic advances can serve to biologically replicate this enhanced vision, obviating the need to peer into the night through a special technological attachment. However, none of these options preclude an actual unexpected astronomical phenomenon from occurring where the moon will literally become as bright as the sun to the naked eye.

Probably, one of the most important developments of the messianic era will be the prevalence of people marrying their true soul mates – another human being who’s literally the missing part of one’s own soul. Presently, marrying one’s soul mate is not automatic.[viii] Blockages to finding one’s soul mate are related to the existence of impure spiritual forces, which will disappear with the dawn of the messianic era – as light dissipates darkness. Once these blockages dissipate, it will become the norm to marry one’s true soul mate. This will automatically make marriage more peaceful, sweet and spiritual.[ix]  As will be discussed later, soul mates will become spiritual study and growth partners.

With all these amazing blessings set in place and so much more, people’s aspirations will change and they will devote their whole lives to seeking spiritual knowledge and attaining prophecy.[x]  Earth will become like paradise, a place of pleasurable spiritual growth.

Here are a couple of representative Biblical verses which refer to this time:

“…for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Creator as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9)

“…I will pour out My spirit on all flesh. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your elders will dream dreams. Your youth shall see visions.” (Joel 3:1)

This is very similar to the pleasure experienced by souls nested in paradise, where they are bathed with the deep delights of sweet divine knowledge. In the messianic future, earth will transform into this kind of paradise. The deeply sweet pleasures of absorbing divine knowledge will now be available on earth as well. With no burdens in their lives, a couple’s minds and hearts will finally be freed up to become each other’s consummate spiritual partners; together taking in the newly available divine revelations. They will join each other in Torah study, prayer and meditation – striving towards attaining a shared prophetic experience. Their spiritual development will focus on nurturing the growth their shared higher soul, their “shared crown” – which each will feel and yearn to tend.  While studying and devotional work will also be communal, couples will be viewed as a single growth unit – the new individual identity.

Now that the groundwork has been laid, it’s time to revisit our original questions:

·         “What does sharing a single crown look like? “
·         What will define masculinity and femininity in this new era, i.e. what will make men male and women female?"
·         “What will be the function of messianic era couples?”
·         “What will a marriage look like in that era?”

Possibly, male and female will be defined by each gender possessing slightly different intellectual approaches, allowing each to more easily pick at a spiritual topic from a different angle. As two parts of a single larger soul in dialogue with each other, their duel perspectives will play off each other to formulate a shared larger picture of the topic. Achieving shared new heights in spiritual understanding will become their primary spiritual bliss. This is in some sense no different than what occurs in paradise even in pre-messianic times. Souls ascending level to level into the bliss of deeper spiritual understandings in paradise are, at least in certain cases, male and female souls who have reunited and in even more ideal cases have fully merged into a single higher soul. By the strength of both beings, now together, these souls process newly introduced spiritual insights.

What are the different angles of thought that males and females employ when examining a topic? The short version of the answer is that males seem to be more easily lured into the “abstract” and females seem to be more drawn by notions of “connection”. Abstraction is the exploration of the mental vastness of a topic, without emphasis on the personal. It’s an impersonal regard for the far reaching intellectual dynamics of the specific topic being studied. In contrast, connection means bonding and intimacy. This dynamic has to with how details in a specific topic relate to each other. Its relational focused and bears a very personal regard for the ability of a topic to make a difference in the actual life arena.

The potential for abstraction flows from the Creator’s Infinity. Since there’s nothing outside of Him, all is continuous with Him. An implication of this notion is that all topics eventually run into His Infinity, a factor that endlessly stretches out their vastness. As the topic approaches closer to Infinity its content expands, just as one who moves closer to the sun perceives ever brightening light.

The potential for connection flows from the Creator’s Oneness. Since there’s nothing outside of Him, all is continuous with Him. So all topics eventually run into His Oneness, where they are intimately bound with everything else, blurring any distinctions of identities.

Both His Oneness and Infinity is the same thing. Both are intellectual paths approaching the same Supreme Being. Yet, to some extent creatures with fragmented perspectives can experience them in isolation from each other. This is why a man can get lost in detached cerebral abstraction, while a woman can so easily exclude from her focus details which at first glance don’t easily lend themselves to the goal of intimately connecting the pieces of the picture she sees around herself.

Since both focuses come from One Being, they ultimately come back together. Other than the Creator’s Beingness, His Oneness and Infinity seem like the two highest possible descriptions which humans can associate with Him. Every other divine attribute flows from those two. For example, His omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience all require that He extends everywhere and is singular. To appreciate how His Oneness and His Infinity are the exact same reality, it’s worth examining how Rabbi Bachya Ibn Paquda (11th, 12th Century Andalusia Spain) explains His Oneness. It is almost self-evident that by extension Rabbi Bachya has also explained His Infinity.[xi]

Rabbi Bachya explains that anything that a human being considers “one” is by definition composed of parts. For example, one finger is made up of muscle, bone, connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves, etc. If we isolate one of these, let’s say muscle, it’s made up of cells. Cells are composed of sub-cellular components. In turn, they are made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which are composed of subatomic particles, which are composed of energies yet to be scientifically named, each which has a beginning, middle and an end. Each beginning, middle and end has its own beginning, middle and end. This process continues ad infinitum. Therefore, whatever humans think of as “one”, truthfully proves to be endlessly many. Funny enough, it’s almost like humans are just borrowing the term “one” as a convenience of speech because nothing they can conceptualize is truly one.

However, in contrast the Creator’s Oneness is a truly one, not made up of any parts. When He relates to humanity in the Bible that He’s One, He means it in the truest and most perfect sense – as befitting the Creator. In fancy English this kind of seamless Oneness is referred to as a “non-composite unity”. However, since currently the human mind is only designed to process fragmentation, it is incapable of imagining such a Oneness and can mentally approach the existence of His Oneness only as a logical construct, distant from any possible mental visualization.[xii]  Therefore, rather than trying to mentally grasp His Oneness, it’s wiser to simply submit to His mystery.

Obviously, such a pure Oneness has no beginning, middle or end - as these are parts. Since He has no beginning, middle or end, He’s absolutely Infinite! This absence of beginning, middle or end is the very definition of absolute Infinity. Thus, His Oneness and His Infinity are literally one and the same.[xiii]

Following the logic in the opposite direction, we can say that the Creator is purely Infinite because any quality attributed to the Creator is appropriate for Him only in it’s truest and most perfect sense. Just like a monarch does not wear inferior shoes, so the Monarch of all Creation is not associated with anything inferior either. Being purely Infinite, He does not contain any beginning, middle or end. There are no seams in His Being; no demarcation of borders. Without borders, seams, there are no parts. This means that His Being is non-composite. Hence, He’s absolutely One!

After showing that His Oneness means that He’s Infinite and His Infinity means that He’s One, it’s obvious that His Oneness and His Infinity are literally one and the same.

Returning to the topic of the messianic era couple, here’s an example of how the same topic can be seen from both a male and female perspective: Infinity/abstraction and Oneness/connection. There is a concept that pervades Jewish mystical thought known in English as, “as below, so above” – meaning, that everything we see on the earthly realm is really an extension of a spiritual entity existing higher up.     

In a spiritually developed era, anything earthly should be capable of being examined from an “as below, so above” perspective. Let’s take for an illustrative example, the study of a flower. Today, botanists examine the anatomy of flowers, peering into their microscopic detail and genetic structures. However, as with most of contemporary science, their view is merely horizontal. It stays flat on the earth plane, never transcending upward. In the future, an examination of a flower will also include the flower’s vibrant life beyond our current five senses. This will add a vertical dimension to the study – moving the study levels upward.

In a scenario of vertical botanic research, the masculine tendency towards abstraction might lead a male researcher to look beyond the current understanding and analyze how a flower trails off into higher levels, becoming an angel on the way to approaching the infinity. A female researcher might be more interested in seeking the invisible forces of a flower which are connected to us and our earthly realm, leading her to strive for integration between human reality and the flower’s reality. While he’s seeking what’s beyond us and she’s seeking what’s connected to us. Ultimately, they’re one and the same. What’s beyond us really is what’s connected to us and what’s connected to us is what’s beyond us. There’s no such a thing as a disconnected “beyond” or a “connected” entity that doesn’t lead to beyond.

Imagine, this couple working together to build this amazing new conceptual model of a flower, never previously conceived by humans. Each brings to the project his/her focus. The result is a beautifully detailed in model describing the abstract outline of the flower on various spiritual planes and how this multileveled flower is an extension of the human reality. This model displays both the vastness of abstraction and the closeness of connection. Both perspectives are necessary to build a more complete understanding of what a flower is, as part of developing a broader perspective of reality that goes with living more spiritual and divinely informed life.

This pattern of messianic era couples working, learning and growing together applies to all areas of divine study. There are an endless variety of topics whose proper study constitutes “living Torah” and leads to further spiritual growth. The example of a couple joined in botanic research was just intended as one tiny illustration in an endless sea of possibilities of couples to become Torah study partners in mutual spiritual exploration and development, sharing a single crown of spiritual awareness rooted in their shared higher soul. With such deep bonding, they will truly feel the singleness of their soul; mind linked, like two computers on a single network. Thus, the messianic era couple truly operates very differently than couples had in the past.

It’s possible even now, as we approach the messianic era, for some established couples to begin living like this; also, for people to meet and marry for the purposes of becoming a single unit in shared spiritual growth. Hopefully, as the surrounding society transforms into a more spiritual friendly environment this kind of relationship will naturally grow into new areas of shared spiritual understandings and expressions.

Part II - Infinite light, withdrawal, afterglow, ray of light:

The main teaching of the essay has already been laid out – which was to provide a glimpse into the lives of couples in the messianic future. This portion is for those who want to follow the cosmics of these concepts into Lurianic Kabbalah.

Kabbalah never discusses the Creator Himself. Accordingly, the infinite light is to be regarded as a spiritual expression of His Infinity – not as His actual Being.[xiv]  However, since there's no "outside of the Creator" all His various expressions are never separate from Him. They all remain within Him; just like dreams are seamlessly continuous with the minds of their dreamers.

In Lurianic Kabbalah the creation narrative began with an undifferentiated infinite light (or life/consciousness). The light’s presence was so totally infinite and powerful that nothing else had room to exist. In order to make room for creation, the Creator pulled back His infinite light, leaving an empty sphere in the very center. This sphere was destined to become the home of all the realms, spiritual and physical.

The withdrawal of the infinite light was not literal. It only appears literal from the perspective of the creations which will emerge later on in the story. Their limited perception makes a very whole, singular, reality appear fragmented. This can be compared to a dream character examining his surrounding dreamscape. From his perspective, it appears like the dreamer’s mind has withdrawn. He might be unaware that he himself, the dreamscape and everything in between is very much the dreamer’s mind. It’s just his own limited view which casts the illusion allowing him to entertain the false notion that he’s somehow existing independently of the dreamer.   

Even within the illusion of withdrawal, nothing is even totally devoid of spiritual light. When the infinite light withdrew, he left behind a lingering residue of his light, an “afterglow”. This “afterglow” became the very fabric of the sphere.[xv]

The infinite light’s withdrawal repeated itself yet another nine times, for a total of ten times. With each new withdrawal the size of the afterglow enlarged by adding on a new spherical layer; resulting in a layered structure of sphere within sphere within sphere... within sphere. It looked like a multi layered onion centered in a sea of infinite light.[xvi]

The affect of the withdrawal was that the infinite light differentiated into a cosmic male and a cosmic female. The withdrawn infinite light functions as the cosmic male and the afterglow as the cosmic female. In this cosmic male/female relationship, the infinite light is the force of infinity, albeit a post withdrawal version.
He’s infinitely vast and via the withdrawal tended outward into the direction of further vastness. This is consistent with the notion of maleness being associated with abstraction and infinity.

The afterglow, on the other hand, is the force of oneness. She transcends the notions that darkness and light are opposites which cannot mingle as a single seamless unit.  True oneness embraces the paradoxes which fragmented perceptions can’t process. In any event, since darkness is merely suppressed light it’s built from light which has been rendered invisible.

Also, the afterglow is not persuaded by the lure of vastness to venture outward. If all is oneness then what’s there is already here. There’s no reason to move. A teacher of mine, Rabbi David Nachman [xvii], explained that the afterglow is a survivor. She survived the withdrawal. She’s the light which the withdrawal could not dislodge. She is the most powerful aspect of the original infinite light; the core essence. She survived the withdrawal because what lies at the core essence of reality is powerfully unmovable; a point of eternity – oneness which is so in touch with all existence that there is no need to move. So she firmly stands her ground, while the withdrawn light appears to flee the scene.[xviii]  

This is consistent with the notion of femaleness being associated with connection and oneness.

After all ten expansions, the afterglow reached full size, achieved maturity. She was now ready to reunite with her cosmic male, the surrounding infinite light. Her growth seems likely to be a process designed to acquire new afterglow material for an inner differentiation, kind of like a pregnant mother eating more food so her growing fetus has sufficient material to properly differentiate his/her organs. The differentiation will allow her to isolate in her central core a feminine of feminine – a pure female essence.
When the ten stages of growth finalize there is sufficient afterglow fabric for all the layers to redistribute the material with each other, reorganizing themselves into ten much differentiated layers of afterglow. Material with a greater affinity for infinity will migrate towards her outer layers, closer to the infinite light. By contrast, material with a greater affinity for oneness will migrate deeper into her interior, closer to the center core of the afterglow. Of course, there are many various degrees of affinity along the spectrum of expressing infinity and oneness. This variety in expression will allow for a wide variety of positions within the wider body of the afterglow. Otherwise, there will only be poles with nothing to fill up the areas in between, leaving wide unfilled gaps which will break the continuity of the afterglow as a single continuous unit.
Differentiation among the various layers, transforms her center core into a most intense expression of the cosmic feminine, the very polar opposite of the surrounding infinite light – her cosmic male. Although I did not see this drama of how the afterglow develops via the redistribution of her internal material in any classic source, it seems logical to me because it simply follows the established patterns of cosmic development widely mentioned in Lurianic Kabbalah, where every cosmic detail is in a state of growth through polarization and redistribution, along the lines of striving to attain greater expression of a core essence.

Once the afterglow matures, her cosmic male, the surrounding infinite light, will unify with her. This unity is expressed by extending a ray of light into her. This ray is a thinly measured glimmer of the surrounding light which withdrew. Only a miniscule measure is allowed in, lest it overwhelms the afterglow and she reverts back to her state of being identical with the infinite light. The point of entry for this stream of light can in theory be anywhere along the outer surface of the sphere.  However, wherever the entry will happen will now be defined as the top of the afterglow. Once there’s a top, there is also a bottom and sides. The ray will penetrate her from the top and extend itself to the center, reaching her actual core – the most femininely sensitive part of her identity. [xix]

Although the ray reached the cosmic core, presently it doesn’t yet fully extend down into our realm. However, our realm feels the influence of this ray from the higher realms.[xx] This might be an indication that our realm has not finished acquiring all her ten layers. So how could the ray of light reach the cosmic center and not yet be present in our realm, where we are situated in the afterglow’s veritable “center of center”? [xxi]  Possibly, this is because higher realms have a faster notion of time. So what already happened up there, takes a lot longer to happen down here. 

Each realm contains its own version of time. Higher realms, being more spiritual, in general possess less limitation. As expected, their versions of time contain greater elasticity and speed. In contrast, lower realms have slower, more rigid versions of time. Thus, events occurring in higher realms mostly trickle down to lower realms only later on. What occurs above in a flash requires more protracted units of time below. It's almost like a higher version of time is more technologically advanced than its lower counterparts. This partly explains how prophets see into the future. In the higher realm the prophet ascends to, the event has already occurred. Having been there at the time, the prophet already saw the event play out. Only, it’s manifestation below in our physical realm is delayed by the difficulties of being threaded through a slower, more protracted time corridor. [xxii]

Since in our physical realm the afterglow is still awaiting her full maturity, she’s still growing, which could explain why physicists view our universe as expanding. It can also explain why they think that every unit of space is on the move. According to this understanding, it would seem that a unit of space just occupied a moment ago has already moved on together with the universe’s expansion.  The universe is probably growing in order to bring the afterglow to full maturity. Physical space/time (as physicists call it) is the portion of the afterglow which is tangible to us. Truthfully, according to Kabbalah “life” is also a part of the space/time continuum (see Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s commentary to “Sefer Yetzirah”). So this continuum which is the basic framework of our universe should really be called, “space/time/life”. One day science will stumble on this connection, unifying physics, chemistry, biology and spirituality.

When the earthly aspect of our universe completes her growth, the ray of light will enter her, as it had entered the higher realms. This will be a time of true spiritual growth for our universe and her inhabitants. However, it’s possible that this is a phased in process, with many stages creating an intricate future history for humanity. Conceivably, it could be that humanity experiences a messianic era before the actual ray enters. Perhaps, almost entering is good enough to set off an era of paradise. In such a scenario, the ray’s actual entry will bring along an even deeper paradise. How the unfolding of cosmic events will coincide exactly with the future human experience is something that will be very interesting to see.

In the growing closeness between the ray of light and the core of the afterglow, the cosmic male and female will begin to share “one crown”. It will be a reunion of self, as in self has finally met self. This will inspire an increased human awareness that the infinite light and the afterglow are the same. The withdrawal is not literal, but, something closer to a dreamscape in the mind of a dreamer. Just as the dreamscape doesn’t carve out a void in the mind of the dreamer in order to set the stage for a dream, rather it is the mind of the dreamer through and through, so too the infinite light and the afterglow are really one and the same. There’s no void. Oneness equals Infinity. Infinity equals Oneness.

In a deep sleep, the dreamer has finally kissed his dream bride and awoke just a bit upon discovering that he has really kissed himself. The same being is alive behind both sets of lips. Yet, to keep the beauty of the dream alive, he only partially awoke.


End Notes:

[i] Some Bibles have this phrase as verse 21 and others as verse 22. For example, the (Artscroll) Stone edition of Tanach has the phrase on verse 21; whereas, the JPS edition of Tanakh has it on verse 22.

[ii] See Sabbath Torah portion “VaYishlach”, 16 Kislev 5752 (November 23, 1991).

[iii] See Babylonian Talmud, Chullin 60b. Also see “Etz Chaim” with commentary “Kerem Shlomo” by Rabbi Suliman Eliyahu (Father of the late Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu), Machon Ahavat Shalom edition, Volume 1, P. 252 & 253.

[iv] It is worth noting that Adam and Eve were not physical beings until after they ate from the fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge”.  For a fuller discussion of this topic, including Rabbinic sources, please see my blog posting: 

Being spiritual at this point, it makes sense that Adam’s body was probably far more pliable and less rigid than a physical body is and therefore, more easily split into two beings. Also since this occurred spiritually, I wouldn’t claim that it’s an exact mirror of meiosis – it merely shares similarities in pattern.

[v] See Maimonides, “Laws of Kings”, Chapter 12:5

[vi] See “Nechomat Tzion” by Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Bagdad, Lamentations 1:1

[vii] See Genesis, Chapter 3

[viii] See “The Gate of Reincarnation”, by Rabbi Chaim Vital, Chapter 20.

[ix] When I was a child, I had a Torah tutor who reviewed with me what I learned in Yeshiva earlier that day. Once he remarked to me that when the Messiah arrives, he will return people to their rightful marriage partners (unless, of course they are already married to them).

[x] See Maimonides, “Laws of Kings”, Chapter 12:5

[xi] See “Duties of the Heart” by Rabbi Bachya Ibn Paquda, see first section called “The Gate of Unity”, chapter 9. In the Moses Hyamson translation, published by Feldheim, it’s on page 94-95. I am deeply indebted to the professor of Medieval Jewish Philosophy Rabbi Dr. Norman Strickman for teaching me this concept in Touro College circa autumn 1987.

[xii] There was a dispute between the Medieval Torah authorities the Maimonides and the Raavad about whether a person is allowed to bear an image of the Creator in his/her mind. I have heard it quoted from the a great Chassidic Grand Rabbi of pre-war Warsaw, Rebbe Klonimus Kalman Shapira, that a person is allowed to have a private image of the Creator in his mind, provided that he understands that it’s only a personal psychological aid, with no reality at all attached to it.

[xiii] For me this is reminiscent of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi’s frequent quote from the Maimonides that the Creator is the Knowledge, Knower and Known all at once, singularly undifferentiated. See first section of Tanya, chapter 2, for one example of this quote.

[xiv]  See “Ma’ayan Moshe” by the noted contemporary Kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Schatz, Page 7, where he quotes from classical sources like Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto and the Vilna Gaon clarifying that even elevated terms like “Infinite Being”, “infinite light”, “prime cause”, etc. are inappropriate labels to describe for the Essence of Being.  On page 8, Rabbi Schatz traces this notion to Rabbi Azriel of Gerona a Medieval Kabbalist who initiated the Nachmonides into the mysteries of the hidden wisdom.

Interestingly, Chabad chassidic philosophy does use the term “Infinite Being” to describe the Essence of Being. However, even according to this mystical school the next step down, the “Infinite Light”, is already a revelation and no longer the Essence of Being. Therefore, since the creation narrative in Lurianic Kabbalah begins with the infinite light, all schools of Kabbalistic thought would seem to agree that Lurianic Kabbalah never really discusses the true Essence of Being.

[xv] See Etz Chaim, standard version, Warsaw edition 5651, section one, chapter one, along with classical commentaries, for most of this narrative. The rest was learned orally with textual support, see next footnote.

[xvi] There are printed sources supporting this notion, see the standard edition of “Etz Chaim”, Warsaw edition 5651, page 22, footnote 9, and Kerem Shlomo” by Rabbi Suliman Eliyahu , Machon Ahavat Shalom edition, volume 1, page 48. Both sources indicate that the vacant space (built from the afterglow) has ten layers. When the ray of light later on enters the afterglow, it encounters ten spherical grooves, which are understood as seams marking the edge of each of the ten expansions. As these grooves are hollow, the cylinder fills them up with light. Although, these printed sources do not directly address the ten stages of withdrawal and expansion, this might be the most logical way to explain how the ten grooves got there. Also, this is how two of my teachers, R. Menachem and R. Shlomo, orally taught it to me. (I am not using their full names to protect their privacy.)

[xvii] Last name withheld to protect his privacy.

[xviii] To be fair there’s another way of understanding of the relationship between the afterglow and the infinite light as well. The other perspective considers the afterglow a mere tiny faint vestigial glimmer of the infinite light. Expressing this perspective, one of my teachers, R. Shlomo, compared the afterglow to a wisp of moisture trapped in a tiny air bubble drifting in the expanse of the vast ocean. This tiny wisp of moisture really seems insignificant compared to the vast expanse of waters that inhabit the mighty oceans. Yet, the tender wisp is a faint feeble trace of the great oceanic waters; an enveloped afterglow of what once occupied its area. “These and those are the words of the Living Creator” (Talmud, Eruvin 13b).

[xix] There is a strongly held view that after eating the fruit of the knowledge, the line of light, along with the realms, was dragged down into reaching almost the bottom of the afterglow’s sphere. However, while it seems to be held by the majority of the Kabbalists, it’s not held by all of them.

[xx] Examples of this influence are the Torah and prophetic insights given to the saintly, as well as other versions of divine guidance.

[xxi] At least, according to the view which holds that Adam’s eating the fruit didn’t set our realm literally “off center”. However, the question is still valid when working with the other view as well. There still needs to be an explanation of why the line didn’t yet reach our realm.

[xxii] Though it is outside the scope of this essay and I already dealt with it on some of my blog posts, it’s important to briefly explain how I understand the Jewish mystical notion of worlds or realms. Truthfully, in my understanding there is only one existence, the Creator. However, even though there’s only one reality there are many perspectives, which arise from an illusion of fragmentation. For instance, an angel sees the same reality very differently than a human. Therefore, the angel and human will perceive themselves to be occupants of very different realms.  Truthfully, they share the same reality.

When a group of beings share a consistent set of perceptions, they are said to be occupants of the same realm. The whole narrative of the infinite light and its withdrawal is really about the introduction of various degrees of the illusion of fragmentation. Each realm within the afterglow is really a degree of this illusion. However, the since the inhabitants of these illusions experience them in highly consistent and predictable ways, they are perceived as real. For example, the laws of physics and chemistry are highly consistent. One can repeat an experimental process with highly consistent results.

So is our realm or world real? Yes. However, her sense of separation from her divine source (which largely defines how we experience it) is illusory. It’s like the Indian metaphor of the blind men debating about the morphology of an elephant - whether it’s a tail, a tusk or a trunk. What we see is real. Only, it’s part of an infinitely vaster unseen. The illusion lies in that we don’t experience this connection.

This understanding is mostly based on Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi’s Shaar HaYichud V’Emunah (“The Gate of Unity and Faith”). It’s also strongly supported by Rabbi Bachya Ibn Pequda’s Chovot HaLevavot (“Duties of the Heart”) in the “The Gate of Unity” section, where he argues against polytheism by claiming that if the Creator is truly infinite then there’s no room for another infinite deity, for where would it fit, as infinity is so all encompassing? It’s just one tiny step further to extend this reasoning to claim that there is no room for anything else altogether - whether infinite or finite. Therefore, in the ultimate sense only the Creator exists.


  1. You put a lot of time and effort into this. You are so attuned with the Creator, as such wisdom doesn't come on one's own!

    The Bible has a hidden romance throughout. Before the creation of the world, she was there. She is the most delicate woman in the whole universe. She was with God from the very beginning and existed before angels. She's the heart of God's plan. God kept his purpose hidden because He wanted no one to stop His plan. The divine plan has everything to do with the woman.

    After God had finished with His creation, God thought it wasn't good for man to be alone, so He put Adam into a deep sleep and made woman from Adam's rib. Adam exclaimed, This is bone from my bone and flesh from my flesh." She was called woman because she was taken from man. There was always a woman hidden inside Adam. They had the same DNA but with separate roles.

    As we return, it's harder to tell the roles played. It's harder to tell who the giver or receiver is since man and woman will "share a single crown."

    I'll skip now to the sun and moon. In Joseph's dream, Jacob represented the sun, and Rachel represented the moon. The Shekinah (female aspect of God) is represented by the moon which waxes and wanes. On the fourth day of creation, the moon did indeed complain that it was "inappropriate for two rulers to share a single crown". As the messianic age draws near, we've been in labor all these thousands of years to once again return and become One. We will have different roles as assigned as in the beginning but will have eradicated our straying. Or "sharing the crown implies greater gender equality." We're now entering the phase from where we were "pulled apart into two separate human being" and returning. In the messianic age, paradise will be restored and we'll return to our significant other.

    I love your wording speaking of different angles of thought that males and females employ and your explanation of the "abstract" and "connection". "Since there's nothing outside of Him, all is continuous with Him". As you explained the belief of Rabbi Bachya--that a human being considers "one is by definition composed of parts", this is the same with God's entire Body. There are many parts to His Body. Not everyone can be an eye. It takes all parts working together to be One. So we break this down into the Oneness of male. From his side comes the female. This is the oneness that was not created--that has "no beginning, middle, or end.

    In the messianic age, we'll learn and will continue our spiritual growth. Now as the Shekinah (represents Moon) rules, I feel the withdrawal of the infinite light is literal! But as you've stated that it appears literal from the perspective of the creations discussed. The phases of the moon does seem to affect me now though. My moods become dark or light depending on how much light is blotted out. It seems literal enough.

    Thank you for stating "Even the illusion of withdrawal, nothing is even totally devoid of spiritual light. When the infinite light withdrew, he left behind a lingering residue of his light, an 'afterglow'. This "afterglow" became the very fabric of the sphere." You go on to discuss what happens after all ten expansions and is beautifully stated. Finally "once this afterglow matures, her cosmic male, the surrounding infinite light, will unify with her."

    I agree that each realm contains its own version of time with the higher realms, being more spiritual, and, in general, has less limitation. I agree events occurring in higher realms trickle down to the lower realms later on.

    I'm so ready for the day where the "cosmic male and female will begin to share 'one crown'". We'll have overcome by this point!

  2. Choni, please know I had so many extra characters that I had to delete most of what I'd written, so please excuse this if it sounds choppy. After several times trying to delete, I began deleting without paying much attention to what I deleted!

  3. Don't worry Angela, you're explaining yourself nicely. I understood you. There's only one point that I wanted to clarify. What has no beginning, middle and end also has no parts. Think about it, to have a beginning, middle and end means that there are limits. So a any entity which has a beginning, middle and end is by it's very state of being proving that it's finite, not infinite. The Creator, having no parts (no beginning, middle and end) is truly Infinite. Also, His having no parts implies that He's seamless - meaning, no borders or boundaries. If you contemplate this, you'll see that this is the same thing as saying that He's purely One. I hope this clarifies. If not, please let me know and I'll try to re-explain from another angle.

    Best Wishes & Blessings :)

  4. These are a couple of comments from notable teachers of Kabbalah, one from Jerusalem and one Brooklyn (names withheld to protect privacy) :

    I love it, it's beautiful!!! Beauty is unity and infinity combined One.

    I have nothing more to say!

    Kol Tov with Love

    I just went through it, (maybe to fast,) but I think you did a great job on explaining these deep important concepts.
    Thanks & may you grow and continue in your learning like we say in Ahavas Olom "llilmod ulilmed lishmor vilasos ulkayem ... biahva" your love for Oraysa Kudsha Brich Hu Viyisroel I felt the whole time reading it.


  5. Yes, I understand, Choni! Thank you!

  6. Face Book comments:

    Angela: Choni, I read and posted. Your are so attuned to our Creator and have so much wisdom. What I stated sounds choppy because I kept having too many characters and had to delete and delete!

    Batya: You are indeed very intuned with Gods wisdom. I have not had the chance to read the whole thing. I would like to give your article the proper attention that it deservs before I comment. I can see you have put a lot of time and effort into it. So far what I read shows that you have amazing insight.

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: Now you both understand why it took me a long time to write it, but, it was worth the wait. In the meanwhile, my life went on as usual and I had to snatch a moment of time here and there to move the article forward - even if only a few sentences or a slight rewording. At times I was concerned that I wasn't being fair to my audience. They're waiting and waiting... I am happy that both of you (and ultimately others) finally have a chance to read it. Thank you for your gracious patience. :)

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: I'm tearing. I'm emotionally touched. My most esteemed Kabbalah teacher, Rabbi Moshe, just reviewed this essay and commented to me that it is beautiful because beauty is combination of unity and infinity.

    Batya: Eternal love between the masculine and femenine. Today I learned in a sicha of zach Shevat that Moshe is Torah, Yitzchok is Tefillah and gemilut chasadim is Tiferet.

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: What year was the Sicha. If I can, I'll be happy to look it up :)

    Batya: Nun Beit

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: Thank you :)

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: This particular volume I have a copy of.

    Batya: Be Hatzlacha, my pleasure, its very short

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel ‎:)

    Batya: It correlates with the 3 pillars of faith that holds up the world.

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: You mean Torah, Avodah & Gimillat Chassadim?

    Batya: Exactly : )

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: These three are so central that there's really a lot that corresponds to them. One of my favorites overlays is: thought = Torah, speech = Avodah and action = Gimillat Chassadim.

    Batya: They say Moshe is the first redeemer and the last redeemer. He learns the Torah of Moshiach and his name is Yitzchok. The completion of Moshe. All this achieved through tiferet described as a rose that is fully blossomed.

    Choni Elchonon Kihleel: It sounds beautiful (Tiferet-like). I'm looking forward to reading it. Thank you so much :)

    Terian: It took me forever to find a quiet time to read your article. What I found impressive was your insight into the future. It takes someone who has the ability to expand from the "now" into "the time to come" to see these revelations clearly. This is a true gift you have I believe. A transcendence -- continue to flex this muscle -- I want to read more.

    Terian: The aspect of the flower was so moving...I was open-mouthed astounded at your metaphor -- I completely understand what you mean and it is so lovely...beyond words to describe on my part.

    Thursday at 10:54pm · Unlike · 1