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In Otzrot Hayyim, Sha'ar Tant"a (Ta'amim Nekudot Tagin Otiyot), in a description of Adam Kadmon, the first form taken by the line of light of the Infinite that enters the vacated space, it says that there are four aspects to the internal being of Adam Kadmon, refered to as 72/Av, 63/Sag, 45/Mah, and 52/Ban, or as Ta'amim, Nekudot, Tagin, Otiyot. It seems that each of the four is again divided into four sub-divisions to make 16 aspects. These are not fleshed out. But in the case of the one level (Sag/Nekudot) that is described in further detail, it is a sub-division into three that is described, with the three aspects referred to as ta'amim elyonim, emtsa'iyim, and tahtonim, i.e, the cantillation marks in a text of the Bible that have their place above the line, those that have their place in the middle of a line, and those that have their place below the line. Why the sub-division into three rather than four, when it seemed like the principle was that the structure would sub-divide into components that mirrored the whole? If there's no room for a fourth level in the representation based on the types of ta'amei ha-mikra then why is that representation used?

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Some dejargonizing is in order here, as is some background information. What is the subject of this (other than Kabbalah)? Four levels of what? What do the abbreviations stand for? That's for starters. –  Seth J Jan 22 '13 at 20:01
@SethJ This might be one of those questions where if you don't get it already, you aren't likely to be helpful in finding the answer or likely to be ever searching for the answer later. –  Double AA Jan 23 '13 at 4:24
@doubleaa, I totally would have agreed with you before the edit. I had no idea what he was asking about. Now, though, I still don't have an answer, but I feel competent enough to make further changes to improve the question (and I'm sorely tempted to do so). –  Seth J Jan 23 '13 at 6:16
Seth J, please go ahead and edit if you want or let me know what to do to improve the question and I'll try to edit. –  paquda Jan 23 '13 at 15:30
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1 Answer

I do not have expertise in this area, but the following is my understanding of the topic as discussed in אוצרות חיים:

First of all, the n'kudos we use naturally fit into three categories based on their placement. Likewise for the ta'amim, the middle ones are identified as follows:

הטעמים האמצעיים שבאמצע התיבה והם פס״ק ומק״ף כנודע

This seems to refer to the munach l'garmeih (as well as the shalsheles) and the sof pasuk (where the word carries a makaf), respectively. In both cases the words are followed by symbols that are neither above nor below the letters, unlike all other ta'amim.

After reading the section more carefully, it seems that the three divisions (upper, middle, and lower) of ע"ב and ס"ג are unrelated to what you call "the four sub-divisions" of each of the four expansions of HaShem's name. The three divisions of both ע"ב and ס"ג are mechanisms for filtering the Divine light, corresponding to figurative body parts of Adam Kadmon. The three divisions of ע"ב correspond to the ta'amim. At this level, the Divine light is so sublime that it is impossible to discuss it or even conceive of it.

Therefore, R' Chaim Vital begins with a discussion of the three elements of the filtering process of the Divine light at the level of ס"ג, corresponding to the three categories of ta'amim (even though overall it corresponds to the n'kudos) as well as the figurative ears, nose, and mouth of Adam Kadmon. R' Chaim Vital describes how the light is filtered through these elements and becomes progressively less intangible.

The comparison of the ס"ג expansion to the categorization of the ta'amim into upper, middle, and lower, is a means of characterizing the filtration of the light at that level. The fact that there are three categories seems to be incidental. By contrast, R' Chaim Vital mentions that each of the four expansions of HaShem's name contain elements of all four. The four aspects contained in each of the four expansions are ways of referring to different incarnations of the light at different levels, as opposed to the means by which the light is filtered.

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Thanks, Fred. Just to note, I meant the division of Ta'amim, though you're right to note that for Nekudot the threefold division holds true too and it would be the same problem. In regard to: ההבל היוצא מן הראש דרך נקבי השערות I understood that as being Av/Ta'amim at the macro level, so it doesn't explain the absence of a fourth sub-division within the level Sag/Nekudot. –  paquda Jan 22 '13 at 19:25
Shalshelet, like munach legarmeh, has a pseudo-psik following it as well. (Disclaimer: I don't know if that is relevant vis-a-vis the Kabbalah discussion. I can only comment about the trop.) –  Double AA Jan 22 '13 at 22:31
Fred, I mean that when this topic of ta'amim elyonim, emtsa'iyim, and tahtonim comes up, the text is talking specifically about the level of Sag, the second highest level. The comment that you quoted was specifically about Av, the highest level. – –  paquda Jan 23 '13 at 1:05
@DoubleAA Thanks, I've edited that in. –  Fred Jan 23 '13 at 8:16
@paquda You're correct. I've rewritten the answer. –  Fred Jan 23 '13 at 8:16
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