In briefly reading the Sefir Yetzirah, it has this picture of creation:

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It symbolizes the process whereby the infinite engraved, creating a void, which was then filled with possibility in essence, and that was the beginning of creation.

What came before? Is it an infinite cycle of some sort? If so, how does it transition from one phase to the next?

I also briefly read about the Buddhist cycle of creation, whereby my understanding was essentially this:

The universe is in constant flow from pain -> pleasure, and when it reaches ultimate pleasure, the ultimate pleasure is to grow through the pain -> pleasure process again, so the cycle starts over. The goal though is not pleasure or pain, it is to escape the cycle. It is to be like a good swimmer in a river, staying afloat in one spot, being a constant in an ever-changing environment. The goal is in the middle, peace, which is a constant, a balance between the two poles. The “flow” from pain -> pleasure is a chaotic up/down movement, so it’s not a straight line. It is like the mixing ocean, where things move up and down in a seemingly random fashion, based on their actions and sin.

In this sense, there is no beginning and end to creation from that perspective. But then I imagine the physical world, which seems to have been evolving toward more perfection, and so seems to be trending toward the upward direction. The Buddhist perspective can be seen like this too, which would mean at some point it reaches pure perfection, and either starts over from scratch, or reverses like a pendulum. I have no idea yet.

So from the perspective of Kabbalah, what happens before creation, way before creation. And what happens before that? And before that? Is it a cycle of some sort as well?

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    Time didn't exist before creation
    – Moishe
    Commented May 4 at 21:55
  • @Moishe I am not asking about time, there can be a sequence without there being time.
    – Lance
    Commented May 4 at 21:59
  • If there is no before, is there a point sometime in the future when the creation is completely reunified with the infinite oneness? At which point everything is fulfilled? That would hint that things either end or restart.
    – Lance
    Commented May 4 at 22:00
  • @lance it's called moshiach
    – Moishe
    Commented May 4 at 22:44

2 Answers 2


No, there is no cycle. Buddhist thought is incorrect. There is only one being without beginning (בְּלִי רֵאשִׁית), and that is Hashem Himself. Even His Infinite light is called אור אין סוף, "Light without end", but not without beginning. It begins from His Essence and Being1.

Stating that the world is somehow in some infinite cycle is actually a heretical thought according to Torah, because the Zohar clearly states that Hashem is not a creator in essence (that's infinitely beneath Him)2; He created the universe out of absolute nothingness. Not just from zero raw materials, but absolute zero - not even potential, not even out of some logical argument3.

He created the world with a purpose and a plan, and it will be accomplished, and in one go (although there is what to discuss about a finite number of worlds that came before this4). The purpose and the plan is for the creation to become one with Him, and this will be forever (and not restart, chas veshalom)5.

1. Derech Mitzvotecha He'Emanut Elokut Ch. 5
2. Sourced in Maamer of 1st night Shavuot 5668; Hemshech Teerav pp. 135, 1144
3. E.g. Bereshit Rabba 1:4; Ramban on Bereshit 1:1; Likutei Torah Bamidbar 14:24. See this answer.
4. E.g Chagiga 13b-14a; Bereshit Rabba 3:7; Zohar Bereshit 25a. See this answer.
5. Maamer Veyadata 5657. See this answer.

  • It sounds like you are saying that creation is finite then. Why wouldn't it be infinite? Yeah super curious to learn better with some citations when you get a chance, thank you!
    – Lance
    Commented May 5 at 1:39
  • I just said it has a beginning, not that it isn't infinite
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented May 5 at 1:41
  • You said "The purpose and the plan is for the creation to become one with Him, and this will be forever", this to me sounds like you are saying there will be a point in time at which creation becomes one with Him, and thus you are saying it is finite. Or by saying it's also infinite, are you saying that we will never fully become one, and so creation will go on forever?
    – Lance
    Commented May 5 at 3:26
  • @lance it might not be possible to answer without a grasp of oneness in this sense. Also it could take forever
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented May 6 at 0:06


"What came before"

Before what? Prior to that you said:

"the process whereby the infinite engraved, creating a void, which was then filled with possibility in essence, and that was the beginning of creation."

This concept of the engraving, "glif glifu bitihiru olah", is referring to after the tzimtzim. Before the tzimtzim, there was the Ohr Ein Sof. Before the Ohr Ein Sof, there was the Etzem Haoyr (the essence of the (infinite) light)

Before the essence there were 2 prior levels:

The maor -- luminary The yecholes -- the 'ability ' Hashem has to create (or not create)

This 'ability', as mentioned, has two (prior) stages:

The ability to not "shine" the light, and thus create eventually (with the light), and instead just become elevated away from existence, into the Essence, and

The ability to "shine" and become revealed

And beyond those two levels -- the essence of the ability, before it's divided into two potential aspects, but just united in the Essence, the Atzmus (Awtsmoos).

Before the ability, there is just the Awtsmoos itself, the Essence of the Creator, the necessary existence, the 'Truth of His Being' (Rambam hilchos yesodei hatorah chapter 1), beyond any and everything.

The Awtsmoos can be revealed in three "levels" of Revelation, similar to chesed, gevurah and tiferes, but on a much more sublime level:

Either the Awtsmoos can be revealed openly in everything directly, in which case even little babies know that there is a G-d found everywhere. This is the 'revelation' of the Awtsmoos, and the original "source" of the idea of the "ability" to shine. At this level, we refer to the Awtsmoos in the second person, "blessed are you", since it's as of we are looking directly at him and facing Him.

Another 'level' in how the singular Awtsmoos can be revealed, is in a way of concealment. This refers to Joe the Awtsmoos is "elevated", so to speak, into it's own Essence, and away from the potential for existence. Paradoxically, this concealment is actually the source for Creation, because creation exists through the Awtsmoos being hidden in the world, through the tzimtzim

(Even though the tzimtzim is only in the light but not even in the luminary, and for sure not in the Awtsmoos, but this level is the ultimate "source" for the idea of the concealment at all)

This level is referred to in the third person, when we say "blessed is He", since He is hidden, like when one refers to someone who's "over there" and so to speak not "here" (even though He's also here as He is everywhere, but at this level He is concealed). This is the source for the ability not to shine. The ability to be concealed.

Then the third level is the Essential Name, the name of Havaya, which is the name of the Essence, that, so to speak, "contains" the Essence. This is the combination of revelation and concealment.

Source: Sefer HaMaamarim meluket, d"H vichazakta.

אתה הוא הוי' לבדך את עשית את השמים גו' ואתה מחי' את כולם, שהם ג' מדריגות13. אתה הוא הוי' לבדך קאי על אוא"ס שלפני הצמצום [ומפרט בזה ג' ענינים, אתה הוא והוי'. אתה הוא עצמות המאור, ואומר על זה אתה לשון נוכח, כי העצמות הוא בכל מקום בהתגלות14, דשם שמים שגור בפי כל. הוא והוי' הם ב' מדריגות בהאור, עצם האור (הוא), והתפשטות האור (הוי'), כמבואר בהמאמר. ואומר על זה לבדך, שאין כאן דבר זולת העצמות, כי כללות האור שלפני הצמצום, גם האור השייך לעולמות (הוי'), הוא כלול בעצמותו ואינו בבחי' מציאות15]. את עשית את השמים גו' הוא האור כמו שנעשה מקור להתהוות העולמות. ולכן כתיב את עשית, את חסר ה', כי האור, גם האור השייך לעולמות (הוי'), כמו שהוא לפני הצמצום, אינו בערך להיות מקור לעולמות, ובכדי שיהי' מקור לעולמות הוא ע"י הצמצום, שנתעלם כל האור ונמשך רק קו קצר ומצומצם. וזהו את עשית את השמים גו' את חסר ה', דזה שהאור נעשה מקור לעולמות (עשית את השמים גו') הוא ע"י שנחסר ונתמעט (את חסר ה'). ואתה מחי' את כולם הוא הקו שעל ידו נמשך חיות לעולמות, לאחרי שנתהוו. והיינו, שבהקו שני ענינים, שהוא קו קצר ומצומצם, ומצד זה הוא מהוה את העולמות (מציאות העולמות), ושהמשכתו היא מהאור שלפני הצמצום, ומצד זה הוא ממשיך חיות בעולמות (גילוי אלקות)16. וזהו שאתה זה (ואתה מחי' את כולם) הוא מלא ה' כמו אתה הראשון (אתה הוא הוי' לבדך), כי ענין זה שבהקו שהוא מחי' את כולם, הוא מצד זה שנמשך בו גילוי האור שלפני הצמצום.

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