Kabala: Constriction

(Stein Atle Vere ©2012. Kabala: Constriction. brakha.blogspot.com).

Desire All

Every blessing is the fulfillment of a desire.

Desire is infinite. When a human achieves the fulfillment of one desire, one desires more. There is even a feeling of wanting “all”.

In the highest world of spirituality, long before and high above the creation of the physical world, there is only God. God is En Sof אֵין סוֹף , “No End”, the infinite one.

Beyond the fabric space and time, God infinitely, immediately, and completely fulfills the infinity of desire.

God is both the infinite desire, and the infinite fulfillment of the infinite desire. Both the “container” כְּלִי that desires and the “light” אוֹר that fills the container. Both the need and the blessing.

This infinite desire - to desire all - is an aspect of God that humans experience immediately, intimately, and self-evidently.

Kingship of the Light of No End
(Stein Atle Vere ©2012. Image: Kingship of the Light of No End. brakha.blogspot.com).
The highest world corresponds to the Sfira (Sephirah) of Keter כֶּתֶר, the “Crown”.
The divine infinite fulfillment satiates the divine infinite desire. 

Desire Sharing

There is only one desire that God cannot fulfill in the highest world. Or more precisely, God does fulfill it, but this fulfillment requires and causes the lower worlds to come into existence.

This infinite desire of God includes a desire to be like the infinite fulfillment of God.

In other words, the receiver wants to also be a giver. The one who is loved wants to express love back, not just receive love, but reciprocate love. Just like the fulfiller is infinitely self-sharing, the desirer wants to be infinitely self-sharing too. Pure love.

However in the highest world, the receiver cannot become a giver because the giver already fulfills every need - infinitely, immediately, and completely. There is no room to give, sotospeak. No absence to fill.

The only way the fulfiller can fulfill the desire for sharing, is to stop fulfilling all desires except the desire for sharing.

Only in the absence of the fulfillment, can the desire for sharing find places and times to fulfill the still-unfulfilled desires.

Thus the lower worlds require the absence of blessings. The absence of light. Darkness. Emptiness. Chaos. This is the fabric of space of time.

In Kabala, Adonenu Rabi Yitskhak (Rabbi Isaac Luria), the “Ari”, coined the phrase Tsimtsum צִמְצוּם (often Tzimtzum). In means “constriction”, compressing something into a smaller space. By extension, it means “minimizing”, minimalism. It describes how God as the infinite fulfillment withdraws from God as the infinite desire. Thus the infinite light hides, causing a lowest world of infinite darkness. A terrifying infinite absence of God.

Into the lowest world, farthest from the fulfillment for all, where infinite desire suffers infinite deprivation, the fulfillment sends a thin ray of light. The “line” קַו . This light shining in the darkness is the fulfillment of the desire for sharing.


(Stein Atle Vere ©2012. Image: Constriction: All. brakha.blogspot.com).

“Fulfill All” corresponds to the Sfira of Khakhma, “Sageness”.
“Desire All” corresponds to the Sfira of Malkhut, “Kingship”.

These two infinite principles emanate from Keter, “Crown”,
as the Desire for All separates from the Fulfillment for All,
choosing deprivation rather than to continue to take without giving.

Tsimtsum means the “Constriction” (Minimization, Restriction, Reduction, Contraction).
It corresponds to the location of Daat, “Knowledge”.
Constriction refers to the process whereby space and time enables
the infinite fulfillment to hide from the infinite desire.
Where fulfillment is light, the absence of fulfillment is darkness.

(Stein Atle Vere ©2012. Image: Constriction: Sharing. brakha.blogspot.com).

The Constriction denies the fulfillment of any desire except the Desire for Sharing.
Only the Desire for Sharing can receive fulfillment.
The rest of the Desire for All remains unfulfilled unless
humans make effors to fulfill them
by means of sharing.

“Desire Sharing” corresponds to the Sfira of Bina, “Understanding”.
“Fulfill Sharing” corresponds to the Sfira of Tiferet, “Adornment”.
This is the fulfillment of the Desire for Sharing.
The Fulfillment for Sharing is the only means to fulfill the Desire of All.

The Desire for Sharing is a subset of the Desire for All.
Therefore the Desire for Sharing exists both
above in Bina where it is pure sharing
and below in Malkhut where it is part of all.
As a human, below, makes an effort to fulfill the Desire for Sharing with others,
the unity with the divine Desire for Sharing, above, makes Fulfillment happen.

Light Shining in the Darkness

From this line of light, everything in the lower world comes into being.

(This ancient concept of creation out of light anticipates the modern concept of the Big Bang.)

The light radiates and recombines to form all of the convolutions and permutations of everything that exists. It becomes the bewildering diversity of the physical universe.

This divine light is both “light” and “sight” - both energy and consciousness.

The light continues shining in the darkness to sustain the existence of the matter and consciousness entangling and structuring within the lowest world.

From this light humans come into existence. This light fulfills desires. This divine light is awareness, money, friendship, health, children, and so on, all that fulfills desire, including the desire to exist.

However, the light of this world can only fulfill the desire to share. From this light, humans derive their existence. But humans must use their existence to share. If a human use the blessings that one has to bless others, then the light intensifies with even more blessings shining into the universe. More sharing, more fulfillment, more love, more power, more success, more pleasure. However, if a human abuses ones blessings to fulfill ones own selfish needs only, the light shining into ones own experience of the universe dims. More predation, more need, more hate, more powerlessness, more failure, more pain. The resources of the selfish person eventually run dry, leaving empty darkness.

All the fulfillments besides sharing remain forever hidden.

In this lowest world, there is no way to fulfill the infinite desire except by means of sharing.


In this lowest world, there is no way to fulfill the infinite desire except by means of sharing.

When a human has a little bit of light, and uses this light to share, with others who suffer darkness, then God sends that human even more light. Those who use the flashes of light for compassion and justice, and mercy, will gain even more light. Those who use the light for predation and injustice, and cruelty - even what they have will be taken away.

As more humans begin to share, more light, more power, more potential becomes available in this universe. The line of light intensifies, shining brighter and brighter, fulfilling eachothers desires.

God is One

The day will come - in a future “world that is coming” עוֹלָם הַבָּא - when sharing infinitely will fulfill the infinite desires for all. Thus the infinite fulfillment becomes fully present in the lowest world.

Thus at the culmination of this process of sharing, there will no longer be any difference between the highest world and the lowest world. They are the same.

God will be One
Tanakh: Zkarya 14'9
(Jewish Bible: Zechariah)
(Stein Atle Vere 2012. English Hyperliteral Translation.)
(Hebrew. mechon-mamre.com)

And, God will be for a King over all of the Land.
In that day,
God will be one,
and the Name of [God] one.

וְהָיָה יְהוָה לְמֶלֶךְ עַל-כָּל-הָאָרֶץ
בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא
יִהְיֶה יְהוָה אֶחָד
וּשְׁמוֹ אֶחָד

Within the fabric of space and time, there “will be” in the future a time when there is no difference between the lowest world of “the Land” of infinite desire, and the highest world of the “King”.

Humans will achieve the power to transcend the fabric of space of time, to become infinite. This is the great resurrection, the life of the world that is coming. Humans only achieve this by means of sharing, of using ones own power to empower others - to empower eachother - in the most optimal ways possible.

By means of human efforts, God will become one.

“God” as fulfillment and “the Name” of God as desire will become indistinguishable from each other. One.

Actually, this divine “King” is only the light of this world, shining in the darkness of this world. But human sharing intensifies this light. “In that day”, the process of sharing will grow to fulfill all needs. No darkness will remain anywhere in the infinite desire. All light. Therefore, by means of human efforts to share, there will no longer be any difference between the light shining in this world and the infinite light shining in the higher worlds.

The fulfillment for sharing will become the same as the fulfillment for all.

In this way, by means of humans, the divine desire for sharing becomes able to fulfill the infinite desire for all. Thus the receiver of love becomes able to be the giver of love.

Also, the giver of love becomes able to become the receiver of love.

Humanity participates in both the infinite desire who receives and eventually the infinite fulfillment who gives. The very existence of a human - the energy and consciousness - is a fulfillment of the divine desire. Yet this divine fulfillment - as a human within fabric of space and time - becomes able to feel need and receive love. Reciprocally, the giver becomes a receiver.

Thus by means of the process of human efforts to share - God - the infinite desire and the infinite fulfillment become one and the same.

By means of this process within the fabric of space and time - the loved loves and the lover is loved. One absolute infinite love. Divine oneness. Divine simplicity.

Of course, God is infinite, utterly beyond the fabric of space and time. In the highest world, from the perspective of God, this process has already completed. The work of sharing is done. God is already one. God is already loving and loved. God never changes.

God Is Perfect

God is beyond the limitations of space and time. God is already perfect. But it is precisely this perfection of God that causes an imperfect world to come into existence.

Humans will eventually perfect this world. Thus humans are part of what makes God perfect.


Kabala: While on One Foot

(Stein Atle Vere 2012. Kabala: While on One Foot. brakha.blogspot.com).

The Torá תּוֹרָה (often Torah) is the sacred scroll that forms the first five books of the Tanakh (Jewish Bible). The study of the Tora expands to include the sacred texts that apply and explain the Tora, the rest of the Tanakh, Mishna, Talmud, and so on. In its widest sense, Tora is synonymous with Yahadut (Judaism), a comprehensive spiritual heritage and way of life. During the Classical Age, the sage Hilel (Hillel) defines the essence of Tora. “It that is hateful on you, you will not do it to your companion.” This teaching summarizes the essence of the Tora legal tradition. It also summarizes the essence of the Tora spiritual tradition, Kabalá קַבַּלָה (Kabbalah).

Tree of Life
(Stein Atle Vere ©2012. Image: Kabala while Standing on One Foot. brakha.blogspot.com).
Here the Tree of Life that comprises the Ten Sfirot (Sepherot) of Kabala (Kabbalah) maps out a teaching by Hilel (Hillel),
who sumarizes “all of the Tora (Torah)” into a single sentence.
What Hilel says is the essence of all of the Tora, is likewise the essence of all of Kabala.

Kabala is Tora

Kabala is an aspect of the study of the Tora. Kabala is Yhudi spirituality. It literally means the “reception”, being an area of Tora study that each generation receives from the previous generation.

Tora tends to cluster into three areas of study: Halakha (Halachah), Agada (Aggadah), and Kabala (Kabbalah).
• Halakha is the “way” of life, the Yhudi legal tradition.
• Agada is the “tale” of life, the Yhudi narrative tradition.
• Kabala is the “reception” of life, the Yhudi spiritual tradition.

The Essence of the Tora

The book of the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud) reports an incident concerning the ancient sage, Hilel (Hillel). He then summarizes the essence of the Tora. A man challenges the teachers of the Tora to explain the entirety of the Tora culture within a reasonably short amount of time, while he as a listener can remain standing on one foot.

All of the Tora while standing on one foot
(Stein Atle Vere ©2012. Hyperliteral translation, Hebrew and italic Aramaic: Talmud Bavli, Seder Moed, Msakhat Shabat 31a. brakha.blogspot.com):

Again, an (other) deed:
In (the deed of) one (Nonjewish) foreigner that came before (the sage) Shamai.
(The foreigner) said to him:
Make me a resident (adopting me into the kinship of Yisrael) on condition that you teach me all of the Tora, all of it, as I am standing on one foot.
(Shamai) pushed him (over) by the cubit (measuring stick) of the building, that is in his hand.

(The foreigner) came before (the sage) Hilel.
(Hilel) made him a resident.
(Hilel) said to him:
(It) that is hateful on you, you will not do (it) to your companion.
This (teaching), it is all of the Tora, all of it.
And all-else (in the Tora), it is (detail) explaining it.
Go conclude (the explanations, learning them by heart).

שוב מעשה
בנכרי אחד שבא לפני שמאי
ע"מ שתלמדני כל התורה כולה כשאני עומד על רגל אחת
דחפו באמת הבנין שבידו

בא לפני הלל
אמר לו
דעלך סני לחברך לא תעביד
זו היא כל התורה כולה
ואידך פירושה הוא
זיל גמור

The text is originally and mostly in Hebrew. But the Talmud adds comments in Aramaic, and translates the saying by Hilel into what is already a famous rendition of the saying in Aramaic.

Whatever you hate to happen to you, dont do to others.

The Essence of Kabala

This saying that summarizes the essence of all of the Tora, is therefore also the essence of all of Kabala. Kabala is a subset of the study of the Tora.

Kabala (Jewish spirituality) is about what a person actually “does”. It is a spirituality of physical actions.

Moreover, Kabala is about what one “doesnt do”. Only certain actions have merit, those that make the world a better place. One must avoid actions that worsen the world.

It is easy to see, striving to do good actions is spiritually good.

Less obvious, refusing to do bad actions is in some ways more spiritually vital. Altho avoiding the bad actions seems like only a minimal requirement, it is a prerequisite for a community of people who are doing good actions, mutually, in a sustainable and expanding way. Bad actions disrupt the ability of the community to function. Thus even if one does good actions less often, simply avoiding bad actions is still making a real effort to maintain the good activity of a community. What the community can do cooperatively is powerful, far more powerful than the sum of the good actions that each individual can do separately.

The general rule for deciding which actions to do and which actions to avoid, is using ones own experience. What does one desire to happen to oneself? Generally, one should do the equivalent for others. What does one hate to happen to oneself? Generally, one should stop oneself from doing equivalent to others.

This general rule is all of Kabala. ALL of it. The rest of Kabala is just commentary that goes into more detail.

Tikun Olam

Whatever actions a human does to others, the universe eventually does the equivalent actions back to that human doer.

Kabala emphasizes how God creates, sustains, and maintains the universe in such away that the universe itself responds in kind. When a doer does an abundance of deeds to fulfill the desires of others, helping others become able to share, then the universe reciprocates in kind. The universe ensures an abundance of deeds happen to the doer to fulfill the doers desires to share. In other words, the doer experiences even more blessings while making an effort to share those blessings with others.

Oppositely, when a doer does actions to fulfill ones own desires in a predatory way that is hateful to other humans, this lack of sharing shuts off the blessings that is to flow toward others. Likewise, the universe itself responds in kind, to ensure a cessation of the flow of blessings toward the predator. Eventually the resources of the predator dry up.

Often this universal principle is called “karma” from the Hindu tradition. Kabala calls it Tikun Olam תיקון עולם , “the Restoration of the World”. The world is currently incomplete and requires humans to do sharing actions in order to restore it to its fully beatific potential. As individuals bless the universe, the universe likewise blesses the individuals.

The Tikun (Restoration) is a slow process requiring many humans across thousands of years. The Tikun culminates in the Days of Mashiakh (Messianic Era). Beyond that era of compassion, the Tikun will culminate in a mode of reality beyond what humans can currently imagine.

Each human makes the world a better place when making an effort to do desirable actions - and making an effort to avoid doing hateful actions.

The Greatest Desire of All

Surprisingly, we also desire the frustration of desires.

The frustrations of desire are death, poverty, isolation, disability, childlessness, and so on. The lack of blessings is opportunities built into the world. In the absence of a blessing, each individual can become a blessing. Where someone is poor, one can make an effort to share money with that person. Where someone endures a disability, one can make an effort to assist and accommodate that person. And so on.

By fulfilling the desires of others, we become as God. God fulfills desires.

It is easy to understand the concept of God as one that is “powerful”. Actually, the concept of God is one that “bestows compassionate actions” גומל חסדים . The power has no purpose except to fulfill the compassionate desires of others.

The desire to become as God is the greatest desire of all - and the reason this universe comes into existence in the first place.


The activity of Tikun Olam is evident in the “tale” about Hilel and Shamai.

This Non-Yhudi (Nonjewish) student wants to become a “resident” among the doers of the Tora, the Yhudi (Jewish) community. But his actions are mixed. On the one hand, he wants to understand the Tora and become part of the life of the Tora - good efforts. On the other hand, he lacks patience and seriousness - these are less good here.

Likewise, the universe itself mirrors his physical efforts back at him with the same mixed results. Via Shamai, the universe responds to him with impatience and lack of seriousness. Afterward, the student makes a special effort to muster some persistence. Via Hilel, the universe itself responds to him in kind, and patiently and seriously fulfills his desire.

On principle, Shamai greets every human with a friendly welcoming face. When Shamai pushes the man away with a “cubit” measuring stick, it isnt to be cruel. This a method of teaching. Putting the teaching prop into words, by the exact same measure of the hateful action that this man does - in this case expressing a lack of patience and seriousness - the universe mirrors back the same amount - in this case occassioning experiences that also lack patience and seriousness.

To the mans merit, he takes the lesson to heart and avoids taking personal offense. Instead, he makes an extra effort to become a resident among the Yhudim (Jews). Because of this, the universe blesses his efforts, and he finds Hilel who is known for his compassion and insight. Hilel succeeds in sharing the Tora in a way that can fulfill this mans desires.

Notice, the mans desires remain the same. He still wants to know the Tora in brief. But in this case, he channels his desires thru active efforts that no longer express impatience and unseriousness. Instead, his actions express his desire for deep insight so as to make sense of the bewildering details of the culture of the Tora.

Foreign Resident

According to Tora, the concept of “conversion” sotospeak is more like becoming a resident or even a citizen in another country. In the case of the Tora, the resident becomes a member of an ancient tribal kinship system. There are two different kinds of resident. (Often it is ambiguous which one is meant.) There is the “inhabiting resident” גר תושב , this is a Non-Yhudi (Nonjew) who lives as a member of a Yhudi (Jewish) community. Such person does the basic requirements of the Tora, namely the Laws of Noakh, including trusting God and doing general principles of good actions. This one remains Non-Yhudi. Note, only Yhudim (Jews) need to do the rest of the Tora, such as keeping kosher. An inhabiting resident can affiliate with the Yhudi community in any number of ways, intimately by marriage, distantly by mutual alliances, and so on. Now the other kind of resident, sotospeak, is an “altruist resident” גר צדיק . In this case, the altruism refers to the love for the Tora to the point of self-identification. This member of the Yhudi community formally becomes a Yhudi, and takes on all of the cultural activities that the Tora requires Yhudim to do and to not do. Such a person is truly Yhudi and is actually no longer a Non-Yhudi. In either case, the resident is a member of the spiritual community, is part of Am Yisrael (the kinship of Israel), and the active presence of God dwells among them, and inside them.

Tree of Life

Look at the “map” of Kabala (the illustration near the top of this post). It is a map of the spiritual states that the Tora alludes to and that the study of the Tora discovers. Kabala calls this map, the Tree of Life עץ חיים . The map has ten circles. Each circle represents a Sfira סְפִירָה (Sephirah), a distinctive spiritual state. The word Sfira literally means a “numbering”, and refers to the ability to count different ways that God interfaces the universe, despite God Godself being One. This numbering only applies to within the diversity of the creation of the universe. Of course, without creation, there is no numbering. The Tree of Life is a “theory of everything”, mapping out the states of the spiritual journey, the states of the existence of the universe, the ways God engages the universe at different states, and everything else really.

The context is, a sage summarizes the whole Tora briefly within the amount of time that a student can remain “standing on one foot”. Here four Sfirot (Sephiroth) gain emphasis to map out the Tora in brief:

• “Compassion” חסד (the one doing good deeds) on the right,
• “Overpowering” גבורה (the one not doing bad deeds) on the left,
• “Adornment” תפארת (“Do”: the one doing deeds wisely in balance) in the center,
• “Kingship” מלכות (“Desire”: the desire for deeds) below the three, is the physical world where deeds happen.

Notice, the possible deeds from above fulfill the desire below. Desire motivates action.

Technically, the word “all” כל in the phrase “all of the Tora” כל התורה corresponds to an additional Sfira in the map, the one in between Adornment saying “Do” and Kingship saying “Desire”. This is “Foundation” יסוד that channels the flow of possible actions above into the physical world below. Nevertheless, the four Sfirot around this one constitute the essence of the Tora.

While there are other spiritual states in this map - plus an endless sea of profound yet encrypted insights - the essence of Kabala is these four spiritual states. These four Sfirot organize and structure the rest of the ten.

The physical universe is also called the world of “Doing” עְַשִׂיָּה , where the activities - the “deeds” - happen. However the world of the “Doer” עֹשֶׂה - the one who does these actions - is at a higher spiritual state. This Doer is God. The actions within the physical universe are God revealing Godself by means of what are ultimately compassionate activities. (If we ask why does the universe exist rather than not exist, this fundamental axiom of abundance, of simply existing in the first place, is an aspect of the Compassion of God.)

But this “Doer” can also be each and every human individually - as a spiritual being - who freely does desirable actions and refuses to do hateful actions.