Beginner Level Kabbalah

Basics in Kabbalah and Chassidut: Sha'ashuim Atzmi'im

The Stages of the Creative Process
from God's Infinite Light to Our Physical World

 Or Ein Sof ("God's Infinite Light")
 Sod Ha'Tzimtzum ("The Secret of 'Contraction'")
 Adam Kadmon ("Primordial Man")
 Akudim, Nekudim, Brudim ("Binding, Points, Connection")
 Keter D'Atzilut ("The 'Crown' of Emanation")
 Olam Ha'Atzilut ("The World of Emanation")
 ABiYA (The Four Worlds: Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah, Asiyah)

Or Ein Sof  ("God's Infinite Light")
Ten stages of God's Infinite Light before the beginning of the creative process.

Atzmut Yachid Echad  Sha'ashuim
Kadmon Avir
Adam Kadma'ah


 Sha'ashuim Atzmi'im
The Delights of Self

Also called, Sha'ashuei Hamelech b'Atzmuto (The Delights of the King in Himself). This is the first level of the revelation of God's inner light, His "innate ability," to Himself, as it were. The sha'ashuim atzmi'im are referred to as "the light which shines to Himself" (in contrast to "the light which shines to the other").

The idiom sha'ashuim atzmi'im or sha'ashuei hamelech b'atzmuto is based upon the verse in Proverbs, in which the Torah (God's Infinite light, at all levels of its revelation, from Yachid until its giving to Israel in this lowest of all worlds) is speaking in the first person: "…and I was sha'ashuim [the delights of God] day by day."

The two "days" alluded to in the phrase "day by day" refer to two levels of the sha'ashuim atzmi'im. The higher level is that of the delights that God takes, as it were, in the revelation of His very existence and essence to Himself. The second level is that of the delights that God takes, as it were, in the revelation, to Himself, of His "innate ability" to do (and not do) all.

The sha'ashuim atzmi'im, before the tzimtzum, are the ultimate origin of God's all-encompassing light–or ein sof hasovev kol almin–to become manifest, uniformly throughout creation, after the tzimtzum.

At this level one often speaks of "infinitely many sefirot" (not just ten). Surely it is within God's "innate ability" to do all to emanate infinitely many powers and attributes each of which is absolutely unique and different from the known ten sefirot of Creation.

The word sha'ashuim in Hebrew, in the plural, implies a dual dynamic of back and forth motion (like "chuckling" with back and forth head movement). In Kabbalah we are taught that the very notion of "movement" or "motion" (na'anuim) derives from the experience of sha'ashuim.

Not only is sha'ashuim in the plural, but even the singular term sha'ashuah possesses a dual grammatical form. The twice repeated syllable sha (shin ayin) represents in Kabbalah the number (370) of lights that radiate from the countenance of God. When they shine out of and then back into the consciousness of the Divine countenance a sha'ashuah, delight, is born.

The light of the Divine Countenance is referred to as "the light of the face of the king" (as it is said: "for in the light of the face of the king is life"). For this reason the sha'ashuim atzmi'im are referred to as sha'ashuei hamelech b'atzmuto. This is the level of the king experiencing the essence of his own exalted being before he begins to consciously relate to his people and their needs. His subjects, nonetheless, long to witness the radiance of the king's countenance when delighting in himself. For them this is the source of eternal life.

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