In פתיחת אליהו it mentions the עתיקא קדישא, which literally means the Ancient Holy One. Is that a name of HaShem or referring to something else?

  • According to Wikipedia, a ספר by the name of Re’uyot Yehezkel identifies it as מטטרון. Not sure how reliable that is – KapinKrunch Oct 13 '19 at 18:28
  • Do you have the exact quote in the Sefer? IIRC עתיקא קדישא as used in Zemiros refers to an aspect of Shabbos, not of Hashem, but I can’t post that as an answer until I confirm the context is the same in פתחת אליהו. – DonielF Oct 13 '19 at 20:05
  • Are you talking about this? he.wikisource.org/wiki/… Can you give a reference if not? – WAF Oct 15 '19 at 18:07
  • Patach Eliahu is a passage of tinune hazohar. The tetm atika kadisha is a reference for hashem in the sfirot topic. – kouty Oct 16 '19 at 19:37
  • I suggest learning the sefer Choker u'Mekubal from the sefer Shaarei Ramchal and then the sefer Klach Pischei Chochma קל"ח פתחי חכמה both from the Ramchal. – Meuchedet Oct 17 '19 at 11:25

This is discussed in Sefer Eitz Chaim, Heichal Shlishi (Heichal HaKeterim), Sha'ar Rishon (Sha'arei Atik).

Atikah Kadisha together with Arich Anpin is the highest level of existence in terms of the hishtalshelut of the universe. (They correspond to the individual aspects of maleness and femaleness and their union to be truly one.) As the Ari z"l explains, they are both included in Keter of Atzilut. It is not a name of HaShem, but above the level of names.

At this level of creation, the language of the Torah as transmitted by the Ari z"l is talking about paradigms for existence (what is called Shechinah in other places), meaning how we relate to or perceive G-d. In the language of Chassidut, this is usually delineated as the distinction between Atzmut, the framework of existence (In terms of allegory, think like the bones of the skeleton are the framework upon which the body is built. This is what we relate to.), and Mahut, G-d as He truly is (which is beyond the ability of all created beings to perceive at all).

This concept of Atzmut has an external aspect and an internal aspect just like our bones have an external, hard, white covering and an inner, soft, red marrow, which is the distinction between Arich Anpin and Atikah Kadisha.

Another important concept to understand about עתיקא קדישא is that it is from the root עתק which has a connotation of copying or translating.

In other words, עתיקא קדישא is introducing the paradigm of Safrut (Scribal Arts) and the Faithful Sofer (the Holy Scribe). In this usage, Holy has the connotation of copying without error. Whatever is being copied is a faithful copy of the original. But at the same time, it is a translation from the original into our native language. This corresponds to the many laws associated with the copying of a Sefer Torah (that it must be a perfect copy down to the letter or it is invalid) and also to the idea mentioned in Noam Elimelech and many other places, that:

וזהו ידוע דאורייתא וקב"ה כולא חד

That G-d and the Torah are one.

And this idea, that creation is a reliable translation of G-d's oneness is in keeping with the text many recite on Erev Shabbat known as Patach Eliyahu (Eliyahu the Prophet opened and said...) which describes the entire concept of the sephirot and states:

אַנְתְּ הוּא חַכִּים וְלָא בְּחָכְמָה יְדִיעָא. אַנְתְּ הוּא מֵבִין וְלָא בְּבִינָה יְדִיעָא. לֵית לָךְ אֲתַר יְדִיעָא. אֶלָּא לְאִשְׁתְּמוֹדְעָא תּוּקְפָךְ וְחֵילָךְ לִבְנֵי נָשָׁא וּלְאַחֲזָאָה לוֹן אֵיךְ מִתְנַהֵג עָלְמָא בְּדִינָא וּבְרַחֲמֵי. דְּאִית צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט כְּפוּם עוֹבְדֵיהוֹן דִּבְנֵי נָשָׁא. דִּין אִיהוּ גְבוּרָא. מִשְׁפָּט עַמּוּדָא דְאֶמְצָעִיתָא. צֶדֶק מַלְכוּתָא קַדִּישָׁא, מֹאזְנֵי צֶדֶק תְּרֵין סַמְכֵי קְשׁוֹט, הִין צֶדֶק אוֹת בְּרִית קוֹדֶשׁ, כּוֹלָא לְאַחֲזָאָה אֵיךְ מִתְנַהֵג עָלְמָא, אֲבָל לַאו דְּאִית לָךְ צֶדֶק יְדִיעָא דְאִיהוּ דִין, וְלָא מִשְׁפָּט יְדִיעָא דְאִיהוּ רַחֲמֵי, וְלָא מִכָּל אִלֵּין מִדּוֹת כְּלָל:

That You, G-d, are wise but not with a known wisdom, etc.

That it uses different forms of the words for wisdom and understanding, etc. than are used for us, His creations. We, His creations, are, so to speak, a reliable copy of Him, who is truly one.


It refers to עתיק יומין (which is the highest partzuf) as in the songs sung on shabbos אתקינו סעודתא. There too we find עתיק יומין being referred to as עתיקה קדישא (the ancient holy one).

  • Here is a quote from chabad.org “"Partzufim" are compound structures of the sefirot. A partzuf is a metaphorical figure of human likeness, used to represent the expansion of an individual sefira (or group of sefirot) into an independent configuration with ten sefirot of its own”. – ASL Nov 15 '19 at 14:34
  • As I’ve researched the topic a bit more, it seems that while sometimes עתיקא קדישא is used synonymously with עתיק יומין, other times it could be referring to a specific aspect of עתיק. – ASL Nov 15 '19 at 14:41
  • For r starters, I don’t think we are praying to atika kadisha, rather it is just stating that this Meal is the meal of atika kadisha (each meal On shabbos corresponds to a different partzuf). Aside from that, I don’t believe there would be an Issue in praying to atika kadisha (at least from a Kabbalistic perspective) because it is an aspect Of G-d. In fact it seems from the sources I’ve seen That atika kadisha is synonymous with the Ain Sof Himself. – ASL Nov 16 '19 at 23:38
  • The Atika kadisha can’t be the אין סוף. According to one source, the עתיקא קדישא is מטטרון, so I’m pretty sure that might be עבודה זרה – KapinKrunch Nov 19 '19 at 0:37

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