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Chaos and the Primordial

by Rabbi Moshe Miller

  

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The highest, or most exalted, of the five worlds is called  Adam Kadmon. Adam means "in the likeness of" or "in the image of," from the Hebrew word domeh. Kadmon means "primordial", or "primary", from the Hebrew root kadam. So, Adam Kadmon is the primordial world which is "in the likeness of" the  Infinite Light which preceded it and which was concealed in the process of creation. This means that even though Adam Kadmon is a world, meaning that it comes into being through the concealment of the Infinite Light, it is such an elevated plane of reality that it is "in the likeness of" the Infinite Light (which, by nature, "precedes" the world of Adam Kadmon.


Thus, although the world of Adam Kadmon is a world, it is a level so sublime, pure and transcendent that that it is almost imperceptible. It cleaves to and mirrors the original Infinite Light.

In  Kabbalah, the world of Adam Kadmon represents the transcendent will of G-d. G-d's desire for the Creation and how it is manifest are planned out in one broad, all-encompassing overview, without separation into specific details. This is called the machshavah kedumah, or "primordial thought" of Adam Kadmon. The primordial thought functions as the blueprint for all of Creation.

In the world of Adam Kadmon everything is seen in one broad overview, but the exact details are not yet separated and ordered into the categories of reality
In the world of Adam Kadmon everything is seen in one broad overview, but the exact details are not yet separated and ordered into the categories of reality. All the details of Creation, from the beginning of space to the end of space and from the beginning of time to the end of time, are all superimposed in this one thought, for, in Adam Kadmon, there is no concept of space and time whatsoever. There is as yet no inside and no outside, no up and no down, no before and no after. There is only a potential for these limitations. Everything is undefined, unified, and simultaneous. Here lies the root and source of all the other planes of reality, which descend from Adam Kadmon.


It is clear that the succeeding levels of Creation, i.e. the series of worlds which descend from Adam Kadmon, particularly the lowest world, cannot possibly exist within the parameters of the existence of Adam Kadmon. Everything in Adam Kadmon is undefined, unified, and simultaneous, superimposed in a single primordial thought, which contradicts the very idea of worlds in the sense that we understand them, as limited being which presupposes separation and division. Subjectively, in terms of our awareness of G-d, the world of Adam Kadmon parallels the highest source of consciousness in man. It is the awareness of total unity with the Infinite Light.

The first step in bringing about the separation and division necessary for creating the lower worlds, is by "breaking" the unity of the light as it is in Adam Kadmon. As the light descends from Adam Kadmon, it breaks up into ten individual qualities or attributes (sefirotsefirah in the singular), which act as separate independent points of light. Each of these points is an extremely powerful concentration of light as it descends from Adam Kadmon. These are called the sefirot of Tohu, which means "chaos" or "disorder". The world of Tohu is not included in the scheme of the five worlds mentioned previously, by virtue of the fact that it shattered and does not exist as a stable plane of reality.


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RELATED CATEGORIES

G-d » Creation
Torah » Kabbalah » Kabbalistic Concepts

Zohar
The most basic work of Jewish mysticism. Authored by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yochai in the 2nd century.
Kabbalah
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
Adam
The first man, created by G-d on the sixth day of creation. He was banished from the Garden of Eden after eating from the forbidden fruit of the forbidden knowledge. Died in 2830 BCE.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.