Let’s explain the place of “circles” and “straight lines” in God’s governance as cited in Petachim 9 and (most especially) 13. In order to do that we’d also need to explain Chessed (Kindness), Din (Judgment) or Rachamim (Mercy); “piercing”, and “ascending” or “descending”; linear and non-linear Divine Providence; and causality as opposed to non-causality. But let’s first quote the pertinent statement in Petach 13.
A (vision of a) “circle” refers to a circular (i.e., non-linear) mode of governance without differentiation as to Chessed (Kindness), Din (Judgment) or Rachamim (Mercy), but rather as (i.e., it’s an expression of) overall providence …. It is (a depiction of) the mystical notion of (linear) causality. The (vision of a) “straight line” on the other hand indicates a detailed mode of governance that is based on Chessed (Kindness), Din (Judgment) and Rachamim (Mercy, which are themselves laid out as) right, left or center (poles).
All of this refers to Ari’s depiction of how the Sephirot came about, and how they interact with each other in order to govern the universe according to God’s will, as we’ll explain.
(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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