Petachim 5 and 6 (1)

Many were put off by Ramchal’s assertion that the Sephirot… were allowed to be envisioned, since that seems to concretize them and to somehow demean God. But Ramchal never meant the idea to be taken literally, as he’ll explain in Petachim 7-8 [1]. In fact, it’s been said that one shouldn’t study Petachim 5 and 6 until first studying 7 and 8, or to skip 5 and 6 altogether [2], but we’ll do our best to explain the issues involved.

Ramchal first makes a few remarks to differentiate the Sephirot from God Himself (though he asserts that the Sephirot are in fact “Godly”) in order to explain their being capable of being “envisioned” [3]. He terms the Sephirot “Emanated Light” as opposed to God’s own “Simple Light”, as we’ll explain.



[1]       That’s why we placed “envisioned” in parentheses.

[2]       See the statement to that effect at the end of a short (and very useful) treatise entitled Klallei Hatchalat HaChochma (found on p. 44 in the addenda section of Sha’arei Ramchal).

[3]       See Ramchal’s commentary to part 1 of Petach 5, and see Petach 25 below for a discussion of it.

There’s a long and storied disagreement among the earlier Kabbalists about what the difference is, but this is not the place to discuss that. See Pardes 4:1, and Shomer Emunim (Kadmon) 1:57.

(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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