Adam Kadmon and the Tetragrammaton

Ramchal then lays out the particulars of Adam Kadmon. He starts with this statement: “There’s one primary entity under whose auspices…  all other entities need to … function” in the trace environment, “and it’s the four-letter ordering of Yod, Heh, Vav, and Heh, which comprises the (gist of the) … mystical phenomenon of Adam Kadmon” [1].

As he put it in Petach 31, the first order adopted by the emanated light, i.e., the trace environment, that was to be established in the mystical configuration of ten Sephirot and to be arranged in the likeness of a human is termed Adam Kadmon. It always and forever follows the sequence of the four letters of the name Havayah, i.e., Heh, Vav, Yod, and Heh, a purposeful and reverent misspelled acronym of the Tetragrammaton actually spelled Yod, Heh, Vav, and Heh.

Thus, the trace environment was first filled in by Adam Kadmon with its ten Sephirot, and the four letters of the Tetragrammaton comprise the basic structure of the whole of Adam Kadmon and those Sephirot.

Ramchal then stresses the importance of Adam Kadmon’s component parts as a paradigm of the rest of creation with his remark at the conclusion of Petach 31 that it’s “the source of the idea of the various orders and rules of governance of the worlds falling under the order of these four letters.

We’ll follow through on what he offers about this, but first let’s discuss the four letters of the Tetragrammaton for a bit.

The Kabbalists point out that when laid out linearly they form something of a (stick-figure) depiction of a human-form, thus of Adam Kadmon





… with the י representing the “head”; the first ה representing the two “arms”; the ו representing the “torso”; and the second ה representing the “legs”.

We notice too, of course that there are two ה‘s; that the ו seems be an elongated version of the י which itself seems to be an elongated version of the “tip of the י” which will be discussed later; and that over all there are two elements here: a plastic, more adaptive one (the י) and a solid, more set one (the ה) [2].


[1]       Iggerot Pitchei Chochma V’Da’at 3.

[2]       The plasticity and ability of the י to elongate may explain why it’s representative of the “male” or male organ, incidentally.

(c) 2011 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman

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