(This entry follows this one.)
In total, Ramchal goes on to say, the seemingly four separate worlds of Atzilut, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiyah that comprise the world of Nikkudim are actually one world which is over-covered with three “garments”, given that Atzilut is only complete in its functions with these “garments” (Petach 38).
As Ramchal explains in his own comments here, in our experience, “garments are what cover the body after it’s already complete (i.e., after it’s set in place and operating). A covering (like a garment) isn’t a part of the body at all (i.e., it’s merely an accoutrement). (In fact,) there can be many garments, one on top of the other, and not one of them adds anything new to the body.” Well, “the same is true of Briah, Yetzirah and Assiyah in relation to Atzilut. For as we already know, the governing process is brought to completion in Atzilut” and the other worlds are merely accoutrements to it, so to speak.
That’s not to say that Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiyah are meaningless: they clearly aren’t, since “each provides a separate division of creations. Briah provides souls and Yetzirah provides angels, while Assiyah provides the material entities”, as he adds there and is widely known. And besides, “Atzilut is unable to carry out even what specifically relates to it except if it’s clothed in Briah, Yetzirah and Assiyah”.
But the difference is as follows: when we examine these “garments” of Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiyah individually, we find that each one is itself termed a world unto itself, since each one of them serves a unique function as we saw above. That’s why when we consider Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiyah along with Atzilut altogether, then Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiyah are only considered Atzilut’s “garments”, yet when they’re considered in light of their functions, Briah, Yetzirah, and Assiyah are termed and taken to be separate worlds (Petach 38).
(c) 2012 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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