The Whole Kit and Kaboodle

The first thing to point out in fact is that there are higher forces than the constellations and angels in the governing process, but that’s beside our point here [1].  In any event, it’s taught that the Sephirot are closest to the Source of all three, and then come the angels followed by the constellations.

In terms of the five spiritual “worlds” spoken of above, according to the Ari the most sublime world of all, Atzilut, is the realm of the Sephirot; the less sublime world of Briah is the realm of the higher angels known as Seraphim; the even less sublime world of Yetzirah is the realm of the class of  lower angels termed Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, and Metatron; and the lowest world of Assiyah is the realm of the constellations (R’ Chaim Vital’s Sha’arei Kedusha 3).

And as Ramchal depicts it, “The Supernal Forces (i.e., the Sephirot) … are closest in proximity to the Shechina (i.e., God’s Presence) which always hovers over them…. And the angels (beneath them) are the spiritual beings that were created to carry out whatever God wishes in the world….  (But know that) there is nothing in the lower world … that hasn’t a corresponding element up above in the Supernal Forces; likewise, there is nothing below that hasn’t angels assigned to it that govern it and bring about various phenomena and circumstances that God decreed. The phenomena that the Supernal Forces manifest are termed ‘emanations’.  Now, all emanations that pass from up above down below pass through the constellations. As such, the constellations are the ‘emanators’ that are in closest proximity to the lower phenomena, but their emanations only manifest themselves according to what proceeds up above” (Ma’amar HaIkkurim, “BeRuchni’im”) [2].

Having gone through all of this it’s now time to discuss Ramchal’s own understanding of the makeup and function of the Sephirot, to be followed by an analysis of Petachim 5 and 6 which comprise this second section of Klach.



[1]       See Petachim 18, 31; Tikkunim Chaddashim 39; and Adir Bamarom 2, p. 93.

[2]       See the end of Ramban’s introduction to his commentary on The Book of Job for a discussion of the relationship between angels, constellations, “satan” (who is an angel, at bottom), and more.

(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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