The Kav- The Kabbalistic Big Bang of Creation- Kabbalah 2.0 Semester

kabbalah Feb 01, 2022

Kabbalah 2.0 Semester Class #4- The Kav

Class overview

  1. The Ray & Strand
  2. Night Precedes Day
  3. “Let There Be Light”
  4. The Hidden Tifferet 
  5. Nature & Above Nature

“Kav” – literally: a line, a ray, a thread – of light/energy to penetrate that begins to bring existence into being. Through this Kav flows divine energy that is meted out to every level of reality in accordance with its capacity to receive it. Unlike the initial pre-Tzimtzum infinite light that filled all of existence, the Kav is a single, narrow thread of light, which does not overwhelm the independent entity emerging. 

The purpose of existence is to build a “home for the Divine” in the lowest of worlds in the post-tzitmzum reality – our material universe which is consciously void of Divine revelation, with the capacity to turn away from and even deny its Creator. Essentially our mission in life is to transform the Tzimtzum and the void it created—to refill the “void” with divine light.


The Tzimtzum results in the "empty space" in which spiritual and physical Worlds and ultimately, free will can exist, G-d is often referred to as "Ha- Makom" (המקום lit. "the Place", "the Omnipresent”).

The Talmud says: ”He is the Place of the World, but the World is not His Place".

In Kabbalistic interpretation, this describes the paradox of simultaneous Divine presence and absence within the vacuum and resultant Creation.

Kabbalah explains that what was left after the Tzimtzum was the “letters of the residue” (Reshimu). The Zohar states that “He engraved letters in the supernal purity” (i.e. in the Or Ein Sof). This means that when it arose in G-d’s will to create the world, “G-d measured out within Himself in potential what would exist in actuality.” In the Zohar, this act of measuring out is referred to as “engraving letters.” These letters signify the structuring and formation of the Divine will prior to the Tzimtzum. They are the potential for the limitation that existed within the Or Ein Sof.

within this circle for the Light of the Infinite totally occludes it.

The Tzimtzum concealed the Or Ein Sof so that within the circle is left a void within which something finite can be created. The next stage of creation was the introduction into this circle of a beam of pre-Tzimztum light called the Kav. Contained within this Light were all the ingredients for the creation of the various worlds. The difference between a circle and a beam of light is that the circle has no beginning and no end. Around its circumference, one can move ad infinitum.

The circle represents the Infinite Light of Sovev Kol Almin (the Light that surrounds all worlds), which is peripheral to all worlds. Kabbalah calls it an Or Makkif (a transcendent Light).

The Kav on the other hand is a line that has a beginning and an end. The Kav represents the chain of worlds in the post- Tzimtzum state in which there are higher worlds and lower worlds, rather like the various rungs of the ladder.

In the higher worlds, the Light is very intense and G-d’s presence is absolutely manifest. As the Kav progresses, the measure of Light is reduced further and G-d’s presence becomes more concealed within the Vessels. At the center of the circle is this world. This is the lowest point of the line at which the Light is totally concealed within the physical creation.

The Four Worlds: Atzilut -- Emanation Beriah -- Creation Yetzirah -- Formation Assiyah -- Action

To help understand this difficult concept, let us imagine a beam entering a circle and then creating concentric circles, rather like the layers of an onion. In our case, the circles are worlds. There are four levels of worlds, called Atzilut (emanation), Beriah (creation), Yetzirah (formation), and Assiyah (action).

As the Kav enters the circle, or in our analogy, the outermost layer of the onion, the first stage is the world of Atzilut. Beriah, Yetzirah, and finally Assiyah, which is our world, follow Atzilut, reaching deeper and deeper towards the center. The entire Light of the Kav is the Light of Memale Kol Almin (the Light that fills all worlds). This Light is an Or Pnimi (inner Light), as opposed to Sovev Kol Almin which is an Or Makkif.

The kav possesses two dimensions, an outer dimension and an inner one. The outer dimension of the kav, 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.

The inner dimension of the kav, often referred to as the chut (“the thread,” which “sews” reality together), corresponds to its power of “interinclusion,” 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 “interinclusion” and unity within the apparent plurality of creation). The Torah is referred to in the Bible as “the threefold thread.”

The two letters in Hebrew that 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 God immanent ray of light, the kav, shall permeate and manifest the potential of God’s infinite mercy inherent in the primordial space.

Thus, we are taught that in general, God’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 is ”then shall breakthrough [yibakah] Your light as the morning”is in fact a permutation of the letters of the name Jacob (Yaakov).


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