Concealing the Infinite Light of Creation, Part 1
Infinite light is a very mystifying term denoting light that was in existence before the Creation of the world. When Elohim speaks, His words are not a mere revelation of thought but of actions. Elohim did not create the light, and then He saw it was good and approved it. And then He proceeded towards the next experiment. There must have a master design of the Creation before the first words of the Bible were spoken. The light must have been already in His “store” when He invoked it into being. And if Elohim is infinite, then the light He called into existence is also infinite.
The Bible begins with “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth”. This is the most recognizable verse of all scripture. The work of creation, however, commences with the words, “And Elohim said, Light exist!” The words which Elohim spoke were terms of already existing things, for He would not have said them if they had not been with Him. He speaks, and it is done; the light existed. His commands of Creation, by which all things were made, stand fast.
The Bible, however, tells us very little about the creation of the heavens and more about the creation of the earth. What was before the beginning? Before the beginning, it was nothingness, no things. Nothing existed, no time and space, no light, not even darkness. All these “things” needed to be created first in concepts and then in the physical world. The vast universe came into being later. But how did it come into existence? In thus study, we would like to posit another way to look at the Creation, specifically in reference to the infinite light.
“There is no before or later in the Bible”. (Jewish saying)
The first thing created by the Most High’s decree was “light”, the primordial light (having existed from the beginning), in distinction from the “lights” of the luminaries, which were created on the fourth day.
Physicists agree that the universe consists of matter, energy, and space-time, and that these interact in particular ways described as the “laws of physics”. Albert Einstein further discovered that energy (E) and mass (m) are entirely related to each other according to his famous equation. What this formula tells us is that all matter is energy, and all energy is in fact light, an electromagnetic radiation that can be transformed by the Will of the Creator into a visual sensation (in the visible spectrum) or to stay “hidden” in the invisible spectrum of light, according to their frequencies.
By the Word of Yehovah the heavens were made, and all their forces by the breath of His mouth. (Psa 33:6)
If the primordial light came into being from the beginning, and there was infinite light before the beginning, were there two distinct types of light or there was light that was transformed from infinite into primordial? Let the reader not hope that we can explain everything, for that is absolutely impossible.
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration”. Nikola Tesla
It was the desire of the present author to translate and explained the abstract matter of the infinite light in the rabbinic sources in a plain and simple language in a study of two parts. Yet, this study was not a mere rendition of the rabbinic literature but also a further development of the concept of creation, as the present author added his personal understanding in order that the reader can have more knowledge of some obscure matters of creation. We will explain the matter in the following vein.
What was beyond Genesis 1:1?
“The arrogance of ignorance is to claim to know while we know not. The ignorance of arrogance is to be proud of what we claim.” Navah
What was the world like before the Bible starts? Why did the Eternal “leave” the infinity in order to create a finite world? Prior to Creation, there was and is only the Infinite Existence, Ein Sof, YHVH, who is invisible, yet He is present everywhere. But “before” Genesis 1:1 even begins, this Infinite Existence desired to reveal Himself in infinite revelation called Or Ein Sof — “Light of the Infinite One” — in a finite world. That infinite light was not the light that emanated from the sun and other stars, which were yet to be created on the fourth day. That was the supernal light that radiated while nothing existed. There was no before or after; there was no time or space, there was nonexistence when the infinite light was emanating from the Eternal.
Rabbi Eliezer the Great asked the questions and answered them in the most brilliant way in a form of poetry: “Whence were the heavens created? He took part of the light of His garment, stretched it like a cloth, and thus the heavens were extending continually, as it is said: He covers Himself with light as with a garment, He stretches the heavens like a curtain” (Psa 104:2). “Whence was the earth created? He took of the snow under the throne of glory, and threw it, according to the words: He says to the snow, Be earth” (Job 37:6). (Guide for the Perplexed)
The heavens were created from the light provided by the Eternal. Of all phenomena in the Creation none is more central nor wondrous than the radiance of the infinite light. Concerning this mystifying light that existed in ultimate nothingness beyond the capacity of the human imagination to conceive, Rabbi Chaim Vital said,
Know that before the emanations were emanated and the creations were created, there was a supernal, simple light filling all of existence. There was no vacant space . . . rather, all was filled with that simple, endless light. There was no beginning and no end; rather, all was one simple light, with a single equivalence. This is what is called the “Or Ein Sof” (Infinite Light). (Eitz Chayim)
The Hebrew Scripture tells us the first thing the Creator did was to bring light into existence. The Torah recorded the words, vayomer Elohim, “and the Supernal said”. These words are His Will or Decree, not a simple utterance for there was no one else to whom Elohim would say these words. And He began to create the universe with the command, “Light exist!” And light existed.
The words “Light exist!”, and light existed” represent the beginning of the universe, the beginning of time and space. That was the primordial light, having existed from the beginning, in an earliest and original state. The primordial light, which came into existence, was different from the infinite light, which existed before “In the beginning”. Yet, the infinite and primordial lights were related.
The concealing garments of the infinite light
Elohim commanded the light to exist and there came to be evening and morning, Day One of Creation. And on the fourth day of Creation, Elohim separated the day from the night and suspended the heavenly luminaries on the firmament to rule over the day and over the night thus separating the light from the darkness.
We find the following difference of opinion. Some rabbis say that the establishment of the luminaries happened after the primordial light was hidden away after the first three days; but according to others: after the seven days of Creation. In other words, the primordial light was radiating in the first three or seven days of the world. Then, the heavenly luminaries began to shine in their own light. Either way, the primordial light and darkness served together, both by day and by night to measure time. And that was the beginning.
But before the primordial light there was the infinite light, which was radiating in nonexistence: the endless light. The infinite light is not YHVH Himself who exists in absoluteness, but His infinite revelation of Himself. This infinite revelation emanates from the infinite and unexplainable Essence — YHVH Himself — the everlasting existence. In this infinite light nothing could possibly exist, as it is said,
You are unable to see My Face, for no man does see Me and live. (Exo 33:20)
Before the world was created, there was only He alone, one and unique (Hebrew, Yachid). Anything that could be conceived of as a “space” was filled with Or Ein Sof, “Light of the Infinite One”. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, says, “Furthermore, not only man, a physical being, but even spiritual beings, such as angels, are unable to receive the divine light and life-force without concealing garments”. (Chapter 36 – Likutei Amarim, Tanya)
Therefore, “For no man does see Me and live” means that if a human being could possibly see the infinite light, he would of necessity cease to exist, for his existence depends on concealment of that infinite light. Even the angels have no existence within it.
For this reason, if the Infinite One wanted to create a finite world for His creatures, He needed to conceal, that is, to limit His infinite revelation to make Himself accessible to His creation. This limitation of His infinite revelation (the infinite light), therefore, had to descend from the Infinite Existence — YHVH Himself— to the low world of Creation through intervening substances through which the light had to be restricted in progression. These intervening substances were the media of concealment (for practical reason we will call “filters”) which allow the infinite light to be manifested in the finite world while remaining hidden for the created beings. It is analogous to the polarized dimmed lens that protect the eyes from the glare of the sun. These are the concealing garments of the infinite light.
And that was the reason the Eternal concealed or limited the infinite light that radiated from Him: “For no man does see Me and live” means, “For as long as a human being is alive, he cannot endure My Essence”. No human being but one.
Man in the infinite light of YHVH
We should recall that whenever Mosheh was called to speak with YHVH face to face, upon his return he had to veil his face for it was shining with light.
When YHVH talked with Mosheh face to face and mouth to mouth, he merely saw a “similitude of YHVH” (see Num 12:8). A similitude which must have made the invisible YHVH somehow visible to Mosheh’s eyes in a certain degree of perception he could experience and still be alive. This similitude was not a physical figure of the Most High, but a visible experience Mosheh was face to face. So, when Mosheh asked YHVH to show him His glory, he must have asked, “Please, show me how to see You”. Mosheh did not know he could not endure His infinite revelation. But YHVH said,
And it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I shall put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I pass by. And I shall take away My hand and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen. (Exo 33:22-23)
Instead, the Most High shielded Mosheh from seeing more than he could and die. Mosheh thus protected from the harmful rays of the infinite light was shown how the creation had its origin in YHVH. Chizkuni in his comments on Exodus 33:23 interprets this peculiar statements thus, “You shall see My back”, you will see an aura of light which will linger after My essence has passed. The light which precedes Me and which is too dazzling, you will not see”.
And it came to be, when Mosheh came down from Mount Sinai, while the two tablets of the Witness were in Mosheh’s hand when he came down from the mountain, that Mosheh did not know that the skin of his face shone since He had spoken with him. (Exo 34:29)
And Aharon and the people looked at his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. Mosheh’s face shone because the infinite light of YHVH passed by his face.
Note: The Hebrew phrase which describes Mosheh’s radiant skin is קָרַן עֹור karan or. The same word קָרַן karan is for “ray of light”: קֶרֶן keren. Remarkably, the word עֹור or, spelled with ayin meaning “skin” sounds the same as the word for light: אוֹר or, spelled with aleph.
Rabbi Saadiah Gaon says that the light was on Mosheh’s face until the day of his death, and for that reason his eyes were not dimmed at the age of 120. It is remarkable that Scripture is not describing the shining face of Mosheh as one-time event but as something which was continually happening every time, he was in the presence of YHVH until his death (see Exo 34:35).
No human being who lived before or after Mosheh ever been in the infinite light of the Most High. The other prophets received the messages from the Most High through the ministry of angels, through visions and night dreams, but none of them was like Mosheh, with whom YHVH spoke face to face.
Whether Mosheh was taken up to the highest possible realm he could live in the presence of the infinite light, or the light was concealed or “dimmed” so that he would not die, our teacher did not tell us in the Torah. But one thing is certain, Mosheh was in the presence of the infinite light (to a safe level).
This progressive limitation (the concealment) of the infinite light the Eternal decided to descend through five worlds. Nothing existed. In each of these worlds, the infinite revelation is being limited progressively thus making room for the creation. From the highest to lowest these worlds are:
(1) the highest world of Adam Kadmon,
(2) the world of Atsilut,
(3) the world of Beriya,
(4) the world of Yetzira,
(5) the lowest world of Asiya.
We will first present them in brief, after which we will explain them at length in Part 2 of this study. The entire physical universe, as we know it, is confined within the world of Asiya. In each of the worlds, the infinite light is being concealed or “dimmed” as it descends from the highest world of Adam Kadmon to the lowest world of Asiya. At every stage of devolution of the infinite light, an additional “filter” is added in each world. In each of these worlds the infinite light goes through the media of the “filters” in which it becomes more and more concealed from the creation without losing its nature and intensity.
It is important to note that while we say that the infinite light is being concealed, this is on the plane of abstract thought for there is no place devoid of His infinite light. The other important thing we need to note here is that these worlds are not physical (i.e., parallel universes), but rather levels of reality or stages through which the infinite light descends until it reaches the lowest world, where Genesis 1:1 begins.
In Part 2 of Concealing the Infinite Light of Creation, we will further describe the concept of the five worlds and the infinite light.
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