Guest Post by Rabbi Michael Tzadok Elkohen Part I is here
I hope to do justice to this topic, though admittedly it is rather broad. There are some twenty hours of Shiurim on the the subject of the Sheveira online from Rav Ephraim Goldstein, and even then they are introductory at best. So an article of this nature is difficult in the extreme. We return to our question of whether the GR”A disagreed with the AR”I.
At the outset I think it would helpful to note the primary questions raised by the initial commenter. I will try to sum them up like this: 1) Is the GR”A arguing on the AR”I? 2) Does the AR”I say that Malkhut shattered in the Sheveira? 3) Does the AR”I say that our physical world has no order? To understand the basic discussion it would behoove everyone to listen to Rav Triebitz’s shiur found on his Hashkafa Circle website. Shiur 8. I will for the sake of clarity quote Rav Triebitz’s readings of the AR”I and the GR”A here, and then go on to show how, in fact they don’t actually disagree. Rav Triebitz quotes the AR”I first, from Shaar HaNekudim Chapter 5, the start of the chapter, where he says:
Second edition. And we will return to explain the emanation of these seven kings from within Binah and how they broke, at first they all went out from within Binah and they were all in the light of Daat and entered with it into it’s vessel. It is known that these seven kings are the six extremities of Z”A and each one is equal to the other because each one is a single extremity the same size as the others, and therefore each of these vessels only had enough strength to retain it’s own light, and when they all came together into Daat the vessel was not able to withstand it and it broke and descended below as we will explain Bezrat HaShem. Afterward the next six lights went out into the Vessel of Chesed and it also was not able to withstand it and it broke and fell below as we will explain Bezrat HaShem. It has already been explained above that these seven lights, that Netzach and Hod are considered one light because they are two sides of the body and afterward the fives lights went forth and entered into the vessel of Gevurah and they fell also with them the impression of Chesed meaning as it is known that all of the five sephirot from Chesed until Hod ever one of them gives an imprint of itself into the Sephira of Yesod, and for this reason Yesod is called all because it included them all, and therefore each one of them broke and an imprint of each one fell into Yesod and it wasn’t able to withstand it, and it broke and died. And afterward the four lights and two imprints of Chesed and Gevura fell into Tiferet and it broke and fell and in the same way with them all until two light an five imprints fell into Yesod and it wasn’t able to withstand it and it broke and fell, and only one light came into Malkhut and with all of this it was not able to withstand it and it broke and fell also.
He then follows up, after an explanation of the AR”I, with the words of the GR”A concerning the first line of the Safra Detzinuta(Parashat Teruma 176b).
She didn’t rule at all, because Malkhut doesn’t have it’s own light, rather only that which it receives from her husband. Therefore the lights of the kings they died, the light of Malkhut never came. Therefore the reign of Malkhut is not mentioned in the Torah at all. And only a single point went out and nine points stayed above.
Here Rav Triebitz claims that there is a an explicit machloket beteen the AR”I and the GR”A. However, I am forced to disagree with him. If chapter 5 of Shaar HaNekudot was the only place that the AR”I spoke of the Sheveira than I would be forced to agree with him. However it is not the only place. In fact Shaar HaNekudim is followed by Shaar Sheveirat HaKelim which deals more explicitly and thoroughly with the Sheveira. Chapter five of Shaar HaNekudim in truth only serves as a brief introduction and primer to what is to come. Now I will bring a piece from Shaar Sheveira chapter 6 which all of the commentators say is the essential understanding. As a brief introduction the AR”I says that the Dinm emanated before the Chasadim(this can be found in the first Rashi of the Chumash and also Rabbeinu Bachya). The Sheveira only occurred in the Dinim, which he calls Ben, the lights of Ben consist of five points, Keter, Hokhmah, Binah, V”K(Chesed through Yesod) and Malkhut. Hopefully with that brief introduction what he says next will be understandable:
At first emanated the first point of Ben which is the Keter of Ben, and it contains 10 sephirot and all the ten sefirot in in it were contained in it’s own Keter, which is the Keter of Keter, and remained there the light of Keterand the other 9 lights descended into the vessel of Hokhmah of Keter, and the light of Hokhmah remained there, and the other eight lights descended into the vessel of Binah, , the light of Binah remained there and the other seven lights descended into the vessel of Daat and it broke. It’s light ascened above the vessel fell below. Afterward the light of Chesed went out and it contained in it the other six lights, and it broke and the light ascended above and the vessel fell below, and afterwards the light Gevurah went into the vessel of Gevurah and with it the other five lights and the same thing occurred there. See the same thing occurred in each of the seven kings of Keter of Ben which are the seven lower sephirot of this Keter. Afterward went out the second point of Ben which is the Hokhmah of Ben and it also contained 10 sephirot and the same thing occurred within it as occurred in Keter, that the first three Sephirot in in it did not break, and when Daat went out the Sephirot began to break until all seven had broken, which are the seven kings in it. And afterward the third point of Ben went out which is the Binah of Ben and the same thing happened within it that happened in the above two nekudot, that the first three remained intact and the lower seven broke. And afterwards the seven lower points of Ben went out which are contained in only two points, as is known that they are Z”A and Nukvah of ben and each of these two points contains it’s own 10 sephirot and these also broke as mentioned above… However there is a single difference between them, and it is that the first three points each had ten sephirot each and the first three of each and every ten remained intact, but the lower seven broke however with the lower two points which contain the seven lower points of Ben as is known did not go out with ten sephirot as the first three points did, rather the fourth point which corresponds to the Z”A of Ben had it’s first three points remain above in the Binah of Binah of Ben, and the fifth point which is the Malkut of Ben all of it’s lower 9 sephirot remained above as was the way with Z”A and nothing went out except the Keter alone.
The text here is a bit difficult, but it matches precisely the language of the GR”A. The AR”I in chapter five of Shaar HaNekudim we find according to the commentaries was speaking of what occurred within the specific sephirot themselves, assuming that they had a full compliment of their own Sephirot, he was not speaking of General 10 Sephirot of any world, which is called a Partzuf. Within a Partzuf we have a breakage in the lower seven sephirot of Keter, Hokhmah and Binah, everything that emanates from Chesed until Yesod breaks(since their upper three Sephirot remained above) and there is no breakage in Malkhut at all, as only it’s Keter came out.
So let us return to our questions:
1) Is the GR”A arguing on the AR”I? In my opinion, no. The entire Eizt Chaim was in the hands of the GR”A that we know. All of the meforshim have seen the need to clarify the Sheveira as it is an exceptionally difficult Inyan in the AR”I. The GR”A makes no actual comments on the AR”I, however in his commentary on the Sifra D’Tzinuta, it would appear, that he, like all the other commentators selected this later text to be a more authoritative and complete telling of the Sheveira and applied it’s understanding to the Zohar(which Rav Chaim vital says in the purpose of the Kitvei in the first place). The text from chapter 8 of Shaar Sheveirat HaKelim is also from the final edition that Rav Chaim Vital wrote, which everyone (apparently aside from the Admurim of Lubavitch) held to be the more authoritative. It would appear to my poor understanding that the GR”A, whether on account of his correspondence with the Rashash, his own Giluy Eliyahu HaNavi, or the power of his own learning understood that and applied it here.
2) Does the AR”I say that Malkhut shattered in the Sheveira? In short, no. The individual Malkhut of the upper Nekudot did break but the actual Malkut did not break. Only it’s Keter emanated and there was no breakage in the first three sephirot of any of the Nekudot.
3) Does the AR”I say that our physical world has no order? To say this we would have to say two things. First that the actual Malkhut did break, which it didn’t, and in addition that there was not a Tikun, which there was(covered in the following Shaar of Eitz Chaim). So no he does not say that.