Avir kadmon
"Primordial Atmosphere"

G-d's Infinite Light is so great a brilliance that it does not allow  for independent existence.  [Independent existence is "flawed".   His Light exposes even the tiniest "flaw" and any flawed thing would immediately die coming into His Presence for  His Infinite Light would be judgment and not blessing.]  In order to begin to create a place in which all the worlds could exist, the Creator "folded" His primordial "garment", thereby vacating, as it were, the lower half of the primordial "square" which the "garment" had occupied.

This lower half of the primordial "space" is referred to as avir kadmon. The Divine light which remains in avir kadmon is still too great to allow for creation as we know it, though the brilliance of the light has most significantly diminished.

The word avir--"atmosphere" or "air"-- is composed of the three letters which spell ohr--"light"--together with a fourth letter, the letter yud. In Kabbalah we are taught that the light ["ohr"] within atmosphere ["avir"] represents the "impression" (reshimu) rather than the infinite light which shined before the primordial plan of creation (that light in which G-d "engraved" the plan). The yud represents the "impression" of the Divine plan itself.

Within the avir kadmon, as though floating in mid-air, there exist thirteen letters mem. These are the ultimate origin of G-d's thirteen principles of Mercy ["Chesed":  lovingkindness]. The letter mem is the thirteenth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Mem means "water" (mayim), each mem being a fountain of living waters to draw down Divine blessing into the world to be created. Here, G-d "prepares" mercy before enacting the severe judgment (din) of the initial tzimtzum ("contraction") to come.  [A lamb as was slain - from the foundation of the world!]

Adam kadma'ah Stima'ah
"Concealed Primordial Man"

In further preparation for the world to be created, within the "sphere") of the "lower brilliance", the Creator "circled" around the "sphere" ten rings, the ten sefirot of adam kadma'ah stima'ah.

These ten rings are the Divine "thought" of the Primordial Man (Adam Kadmon)-to-be within the "sphere" of the "lower brilliance".

When G-d lifted Abraham out of the created universe, to behold his infinite progeny-to-be, He brought him to this
level of adam kadma'ah stima'ah. Herein lies the Divine ideal of Man (the Jewish being) to be. This is the origin of

the power of free choice given to man. Of the man who reaches this level of Divine "thought" it is said (by the Ba'al Shem Tov): "Wherever man thinks, there he truly is". This is the transcendent origin of the consciousness of the Jewish soul:  The Christ Consciousness.


The tzimtzum [to me, BIRTH contractions] and "removal" of - separation from - G-d's infinite light in order to allow for Creation of independent realities, is elucidated in the teachings of the Arizal. In the generations that followed, two schools of thought developed with regard to the meaning of tzimtzum : one took the concept literally (i.e. that G-d's infinite light is no longer present within the "vacuum" or "womb" of the created universe) while the other (that of the Ba'al Shem Tov and his disciples after him) understood the concept as not meant to be interpreted literally, but rather to refer to the manner in which G-d impresses His presence upon the consciousness of finite reality.

In truth (according to the accepted second opinion), from the perspective of G-d as it were, His omnipresence (and that of His infinite light) is constant, undergoing no change from before to after Creation. From our perspective, however, His light seems to disappear. This is necessary for the sake of the act of Creation itself, the bestowal of free will to man, and the fulfillment of G-d's ultimate will in Creation, to "reveal Himself below".

One of the philosophic dilemmas that finds its resolution in the doctrine of tzimtzum is the query as to how finitude may emerge from Infinity and plurality from Absolute Unity.

In Chassidut, we are taught that the Divine act of contractions (the manifestation of the Divine attribute of Gevurah, "might", or din, "severe judgment"), the concealment of G-d's Absolute Omnipresence, is ultimately for the sake of revelation.  [He - The Whole One - Who resides in Holy Light so brilliant that He could not be approached and, therefore could not be known,  could - through creation of an in-part realm - be approached and known through His Created Parts:  Nature, intuition, etc.]

The contracting (tzimtzum) is understood as the process by which a "teacher", the brilliance of whose knowledge and insight is infinite, must totally conceal his level of understanding in order to begin to teach and relate to a student of no previous background. The ultimate intention and desire of the teacher is to illuminate the consciousness of his student with the brilliance of his own mind, but first he must "contract" and constrain himself. The "reshimu" or "residue" of his brilliance which remains becomes the initial point from and through which all of his teachings to his student will emanate (by means of the kav [rays of light:  insights]).


The "reshimu" is the impression of the infinite Divine light that G-d "withdrew" from Creation through the process of tzimtzum [contracting from Wholeness in order to create Parts], rather than the Infinite Divine Light Itself.

This  "reshimu" [impression] is sufficiently "weak" and virtually "invisible" ("non-existent") so as to allow for the existence of the light and the Divine plan of creation which remained in the avir kadmon, as mentioned above, here the independent reality and to serve as its Divine "background".

The "impression" is compared to the fragrance of the wine which remains in the glass after having been poured out of it.

The "impression" is the consciousness of knowing that one has "forgotten". It is the consciousness which arouses one to search for that which he has lost, the awareness that G-d is "playing" with His creation, as it were, a Divine game of  "hide and seek". A forgotten melody lingers in the back of one's mind, and although he is unable to remember it, he continuously searches for it, and whenever he hears a new melody (that might be it), it is the "reshimu" which tells him that it is not.

Often the "impression" is referred to as the level of G-d's transcendent light (sovev kol almin) after the initial separation from The Whole.  As an intermediate stage between the true transcendent light (before the separation) and the immanent light (which appears after the separation, in the form of the ray of light), the "impression" is referred to as the "bearer of all worlds" (sovel kol almin). It is the power inherent in Divine unity able to "bear" ("support") the plurality of finite existence.

It is the ultimate origin of the "vessels", the "matter", of all worlds. It is the first, absolutely abstract
"body" of reality. Just as Adam was first created as a lifeless body, "dust from the earth", before G-d blew into his nostrils the breath of life, so does the existence of the "reshimu" precede the entrance of the rays of light.

"Line" or "Ray" of Infinite Light

Into the primordial darkness, the "night vacuum" created by the tzimtzum therein (filling the vacuum with "potential" being), G-d radiated a kav, ray of Divine light, the ray of "morning".

The ray of "morning" is the revelation of G-d's immanence in creation. It gives to every created being, in accordance with each one's level of consciousness, the awareness that G-d is with him (wherever, and in whatever state of being he is), continuously creating him anew, and that His Divine providence is always looking after him.

The kav ("ray") possesses two dimensions, an outer dimension and an inner one. The outer dimension,  referred to as kav hamidah ("the line of measurement", "the measuring rod" or "ruler") corresponds to its power of
"measurement", the power to define boundaries for each and every created being, and thereby to differentiate
between them [limit them].

The inner dimension of the kav, often referred to as the chut ("the thread", which "sews" reality together), corresponds to its power of "inter-inclusion", the power to manifest the presence of the "Whole" (all of the "parts") in each of its "parts" (as a hologram).

The revelation of the inner dimension of the kav is known in Kabbalah as "the giving of the Torah" to Israel (for it is the power of the Torah which serves to manifest true "inter-inclusion" and unity within the apparent plurality of
creation). The Torah is referred to in the Bible as "the threefold thread" [in Christianity, The Word Made Flesh].

The two letters in Hebrew which spell kav are in fact the two inner letters of the word makom, "space". The first and final letters of makom spell (in full, the letter) mem, the secret of the Divine presence within the primordial space or "atmosphere" (avir kadmon), as mentioned above. Thus the very word for "space" teaches us that G-d's immanent ray of light, the kav, shall permeate and manifest the potential of G-d's infinite mercy inherent in the primordial space.

Thus, we are taught that in general, G-d's infinite light before the outset of the creative process, the arousal of His
will to create for the sake of bestowing infinite good and blessing upon all creation, corresponds to the Divine
attribute of Chesed, "lovingkindness".

The Divine power to contract and conceal the infinite light in order to allow for created reality to come into existence, the power of tzimtzum, corresponds to the Divine attribute of Gevurah, "might".

The "morning" ray of Divine immanence, the kav, corresponds to the Divine attribute of Tiferet, "Beauty", the
attribute of rachamim, "mercy".

These three stages correspond to soul-roots of the three Patriarchs of the Jewish People, Abraham (chesed), Isaac
(Gevurah) and Jacob (Tiferet and rachamim).

The verb of the phrase in the Bible which alludes to the "morning" ray of the kav entering the vacuum of the
tzimtzum–"then shall break through [yibakah] Your light as the morning"--is in fact a permutation of the letters of the name Jacob (Yaakov).