The Development of Kabbalistic Thought

Beginner Level Kabbalah: The Development of Kabbalistic Thought Four Levels of Divine Praise

Having refined our understanding of the three Kabbalot, we can now better appreciate the succession of idioms used in the Shabbat morning prayer, Hakol Yoducha ("All will thank You"): Eyn aroch lecha ("there is none relative to You"),eyn zulatecha ("there is none other beside You"), efes bilt'cha ("there is nothing but You"), eyn domeh lecha ("there is none like You").

  • Eyn aroch lecha–"There is none relative to You." This expression of Divine praise implies a relative estimation (or erech) of the various elements and forces within Creation. In this estimation, all finite realities are deemed insignificant relative to God's infinite Being; however, relative to each other, created beings do possess significance and can indeed be compared one to the next. Hence this expression of praise reflects the orientation of the Ramak, whose system delineates the sliding scale of existence from the infinite being of the Creator to the finite physical realm in which we live.
  • Eyn zulatecha–"There is none outside of You." Implicit in this expression of praise is the idea that nothing can exist without God "entering" into it and actively bringing it into existence at each and every moment. This idea is expressed by Maimonides in the following language: b'amitat himatzo nimtzeu kol hanimtzaim–"through the truth of His existence, all existing things were granted (their own) existence." This level of praise reflects the central theme of the Ari's Kabbalistic system: hitlavshut, the "enclothement" of Divine spirit within all reality. Although representing a higher level of consciousness than the expression which precedes it, the implication is still that other realities exists–even if only by virtue of God's constant presence within them.
  • Efes biltecha–"There is nothing but You." This expression gives voice to the idea promoted by the Ba'al Shem Tov and Chassidism that there is indeed no other reality aside from that of God Himself. In this statement of Divine praise, we negate the integrity of our own existence and declare the entire spectrum of created being to be no more than a manifestation of God's own essence.
  • Eyn domeh lecha–"There is none like You." This assertion is explained in Chassidic thought as expressive of God's power to sustain paradox. Hence it is a response to the previous expression which seems to contradict basic intuition by denying Creation its own autonomous existence. In His fashioning a world which simultaneously tolerates these two opposing interpretations of existence, God asserts His own essential singularity.

More information about Kabblah you can read in "What you need to know about Kabbalah"

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