This class is based on the Translation by Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum of the Sefer Mishkney Elyon which translates as "The Upper Temple". by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto ("Ramchal"). Rabbi Greenbaum titled his translation as "Secrets of the Future Temple". It is available online.
Our tradition teaches that The Upper Temple will descend to Earth and will be completed by human beings and become the well desired Third Temple. This Sefer reveals many kabbalistic aspects of the Temple and the Services Performed within and around the Temple.
Ever since his brief sojourn in this world in the early 1700's Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, the Ramchal, has been a faithful and beloved guide for generations of Jewish spiritual seekers. His admirers range from towering giants such as Rabbi Elijah, the Gaon of Vilna (1720-97), to the growing thousands of present-day returnees to Judaism who are discovering in Ramchal's works a living source of profound insight and inspiration.
Ramchal's classic exposition of the Torah path of spiritual development, Mesilat Yesharim, "Path of the Just", has for hundreds of years been accepted by all sections of Jewry and is part of the curriculum in many yeshivas and other centers of Torah study. With the publication of more and more of Ramchal's other writings on Hashkafah (Torah world-view) and Kabbalah, he is now being recognized as one of the outstanding kabbalistic geniuses of all time.
The Gaon of Vilna said he would have walked all the way to Italy just to sit at the feet of Ramchal (chanoch adds: If i only lived at the same time as the Ramchal then i would walk to Italy and sit at his feet to here his words of wisdom.) The Gaon said that Ramchal was the only sage since the ARI who truly understood the Kabbalah.
The contribution of Ramchal to Kabbalah has been compared to that of Rambam (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, Maimonides, 1135-1204) to the Halachah (Torah law). Out of the vast "sea" of talmudic literature that only outstanding scholars could master, Rambam distilled his comprehensive Code of Torah Law, the Mishneh Torah, an all-time model of clarity and order easily understood even by a school-boy. Similarly Ramchal brought order and clarity to the labyrinth of kabbalistic concepts and teachings in the writings of the ARI, producing a ladder of ascent and entry into its mysteries that can be used profitably by any serious student.
Kabbalah generally follows the following pattern once the second Temple was destroyed:
The Zohar and the Teachings of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai follwed by
The ARIzal and the Teachings of the Etz Chaim: These teachings then were separated into 4 paths as follows:
The teachings of the Gaon De Villna which is not well publicized today. It is meant to be concealed and teaches the idea of the Mashiach Ben Joseph will be following these teachings and its is energy based not necessarily a physical person.
The teachings of the Baal Shem Tov which teaches everyone needs to serve HaShem through joy and to learn Kabbalah when they are ready.
The teachings of the Rashash and the Ben Ish Chai which primarily is followed by the Sefardim today.
The teachings of Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag which is taught today by the Kabbalah Center and the Students of Rabbi Laitman who follows the son of Rabbi Ashlag.
Continuing the Translation
Born in Padua, Italy, in 1707, Ramchal was a childhood prodigy who quickly mastered not only the intricacies of the Talmud but also other disciplines such as logic and rhetoric. He even wrote plays. At the age of fourteen he produced a summary of the entire system of the Etz Chaim in ten chapters written in the style of the Mishneh.
Mishnah has the letters of the word Neshamah. These 10 chapters cause the Neshamah soul to connect to the Sefirot. The Etz Chaim and the teachings of the ARIzal is in an incomplete order. The teachings of the Ramchal, the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov and the teachings of Rabbi Ashlag all try to reformat the teachings of the ARIzal for people who are connected to the same root of Adam as they are. Note i did not say that they rewrote the teachings but reorganized the teachings. Actually some of their students do this reorganization not necessarily themselves. An example is the Tanya written by a student of the Baal Shem Tov.
Return to the Commentary
Ramchal clearly attained all the levels of piety, purity and holy spirit that he later elucidated in his Mesilat Yesharim. By the time he was twenty his Beit Midrash was a flourishing center of kabbalistic study and devotion, while his sermons in the synagogues of Padua inspired many estranged Jews to return to their roots.
But Ramchal's very success aroused the evil eye, and before long he found himself at the center of a furious controversy over his public teaching of Kabbalah. What especially aroused the ire of his opponents were the reports that he received regular visits from holy souls and Maggidim, spiritual guides, at whose dictation he wrote entire books and discourses including several in the style of the Zohar. The Jewish world was still suffering from the (chanoch adds:upset and chaos) eructions caused by Shabbetai Tzvi's terrible perversion of Kabbalah only a generation or two earlier, providing extra fuel for the fierce campaign of persecution waged against Ramchal by leading figures in the community in Italy and beyond.
At the height of the controversy, Ramchal wrote to his teacher, Rabbi Yishayah Basan:
"My way is to nod my head at every wave that comes. No matter what those wicked people may say about me, it is of no more significance in my eyes than garlic peel. I am not disheartened. I pay no attention to them. I am not interested in honor or greatness. I will go in the purity of my heart within my house together with God who has ever been my Shepherd..."For the sake of peace, Ramchal agreed to stop teaching and writing for a while. He even said he would allow his writings to be burned if it would help restore the peace, just as the Red Heifer has to be burned in order for its ashes to be used to purify those defiled by contact with the dead. Before long, however, Ramchal decided to leave Italy, and in 1737, at the age of twenty-nine, he moved to Amsterdam. There he was received with great respect. He supported himself by working as a lens grinder while writing some of the works for which he is best known, including Mesilat Yesharim, "Path of the Just", and Derech HaShem, "The Way of God".
Some years later he decided to journey to the Holy Land, where he died in an outbreak of plague in Acre in 1747. He was thirty-nine. His grave, overlooking Tiberias, is adjacent to the burial cave of Rabbi Akiva, of whom Ramchal's students considered their master to have been a reincarnation
In fact almost all of the Kabbalistic writings of the Ramchal were burned. While i am not judging the Ramchal. That is not my job. I have enough to judge myself and i find that sufficiently difficult. i just want to point out to my students what is written above. The Ramchal called the people who attached him evil people. My understanding of Torah is the waves (using the language from the Ramchal's letter) come from HaShem and we need to perceive them as blessings not curses and the messengers as Angels from HaShem. This is not an easy path. Yet it is a correct path.
In his introduction to Derech HaShem, his systematic exposition of the fundamentals of Jewish faith, Ramchal writes:
"Organized knowledge of a subject and the interrelationship of its various parts is superior to disorganized knowledge just as a beautiful garden arranged with beds of flowers, paths and rows of plants is superior to a chaotically overgrown forest.. Any given subject contains such a multitude of individual details that the human mind cannot contain them all. A person should always endeavor to grasp general principles. Each general principle includes numerous individual details. When a person understands one principle he automatically understands a great number of details."
What makes the study of Ramchal's writings so rewarding is that, whether dealing with Hashkafah, Kabbalah, talmudic logic or anything else, he invariably provides crystal-clear definitions and explanations of all the underlying concepts and categories and their interrelationships.
Derech HaShem was in fact written as the first "rung" of a carefully devised ladder of ascent from general knowledge of the foundations of Jewish faith and belief to deep understanding of the kabbalistic concepts that underlie them. The next rung in the ladder is Daat Tevunot, translated as "The Knowing Heart". Cast in the form of a philosophical dialogue between the intellect and the soul, this work explains all the basic contours of the kabbalistic view of creation and its purpose but without using kabbalistic terminology.
The third rung of the ladder consists of Klalim Rishonim ("First Principles") and Pitchey Chochmah va-Daat ("Openings of Wisdom and Understanding"), which present the entire array of kabbalistic concepts in Etz Chaim in a clear, orderly way. The top rung of the ladder is Klach Pitchey Chochmah ("One hundred and thirty-eight Openings of Wisdom"), an in-depth exploration of the meaning and significance of those concepts.
Please note nowhere in the description of the order of these books does Rabbi Greenbaum use the word logical. This is because Kabbalah needs to be learned in an illogical order that is an orderly progression. It moves from the Binah consciousness to the Chochmah consciousness and then returns as the concept of "Running and Returning expressed in the Sefer Yetzirah.
The above are among over ninety works known to have been written by Ramchal besides others that may have been lost. His works include commentary on Bible, Zohar and writings of the ARI, explanations of mystical devotions and collections of prayers as well as works on logic, grammar, rhetoric and talmudic reasoning. Until today numerous surviving works have never been printed.
Rabbi Phillip Berg of the Kabbalah Center indicates that many of his writings are done to replace the writings of the Ramchal since the Ramchal comes as an Ibbur to assist him in this process. This is an extended teaching that is given to a few students of the Kabbalah Center but is not well known or taught to the general student population. The criteria for who is taught thsi material is not clear to me.
Return to the Translation
Mesilat Yesharim has long been readily available but until relatively recently the few other works of Ramchal that were brought to press were often hard to find and poorly printed. Since the 1970's a series of fine, accurate Hebrew editions of many of Ramchal's most important works have been published through the efforts of the late Rabbi Chaim Friedlander ז"ל and a number of other scholars, bringing them within easy reach of growing numbers of students. In addition Ramchal is now accessible to those who do not know Hebrew through the translations of "The Path of the Just", "The Way of God" and "The Knowing Heart" as well as some of his works on logic and reasoning. (chanoch adds: As well as the Azamra.com translation of 138 Gates which is commentary on the last word of the Chumash similar to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai's Tikunei Zohar being a commentary on the first word of the Chumash Beraishit.)
It is one of the great miracles of providence and a sign of God's love and compassion for the Jewish People that we have in our possession today the work translated in this volume, Mishkney Elyon.
Ramchal mentions the work by name in a letter he wrote to his teacher, Rabbi Yishayah Basan, in 1729 (Letters p. 31 #109). This was at the height of the fury against Ramchal, when his opponents sought to burn his writings and prevent him writing any more. The date of the letter indicates that Ramchal was no more than twenty-two years old when he wrote this work! Another contemporary reference is contained in a letter by Rabbi Yitzchak Pacifico of Venice, who mentions that Ramchal "wrote an explanation of Ezekiel's vision of the Temple and of the Heavenly Temple, which he called Mishkney Elyon" (Ms. Montefiore 111).
The work was not printed during Ramchal's lifetime, and nothing is known about what happened to it thereafter, until a single manuscript - the only known copy of the work in existence - came to light in 1956 in the Bodleian Library in Oxford in a bundle of unidentified kabbalistic manuscripts. The manuscript in question did not bear the name of its author, but the scholar Professor Yishayah Tishbi identified it as the work of Ramchal. The manuscript itself is thought to be in the hand of Ramchal's leading student, Rabbi Shlomo David Trevis.
Mishkney Elyon was transcribed by Rabbi Yosef Spinner שליט"א, who divided it into titled sections and added explanatory notes. The text was printed for the first time in 1980 in Ginzey Ramchal, a volume of Ramchal's kabbalistic writings published in Israel by the late Rabbi Chaim Friedlander. That edition included a short introduction by Rabbi Friedlander, Rabbi Spinner's notes, and a plan of the Third Temple prepared by Rabbis Moshe Dvir and Yosef Yitzchak Lipshitz שליט"א.
At the request of the Lubavitcher Rebbe זצ"ל a new edition of Mishkney Elyon was published in a separate volume in 1993 by the Ramchal Institute in Jerusalem. This edition contains an introduction by Rabbi Mordekhai Chriqui שליט"א, Director of the Institute, together with his commentary on the "Five Chapters".
Ramchal clearly explains the purpose of Mishkney Elyon in his opening words:
"My purpose in this work is to discuss the subject of the Heavenly Temple mentioned by our sages, to explain its form and structure in all their various details, and to show how the earthly Temple is in direct alignment with it in its structure and all its dimensions."
The Heavenly Temple is mentioned in a number of places in rabbinic literature. In the Talmud we find: "Rabbi Yochanan said: The Holy One blessed-be-He declared: 'I will not enter the heavenly Jerusalem until I enter the earthly Jerusalem.' Is there then a heavenly Jerusalem? Yes, as it is written (Psalms 122:3): 'Jerusalem will be built like the city that is joined to it together'" (Taanit 5a).
The Zohar states: "The earthly Sanctuary depends upon the Upper Sanctuary, and that Upper Sanctuary depends in turn upon another Upper Sanctuary, which is the most exalted of all. All of them are included in one another, and this is the meaning of the verse (Exodus 26:6): 'And the Sanctuary was one'" (Zohar Pekudey II, 235a).
This statement of the Zohar indicates that there are two heavenly Sanctuaries, one above the other. This explains the phrase from the Psalms which Ramchal took as the title of his work, Mishkney Elyon. The phrase is contained in the following verse: "There is a river whose streams bring joy to the city of God, the holy place of the dwellings of the Supreme (Mishkney Elyon)" (Psalms 46:5). The Hebrew phrase Mishkney Elyon could also be translated as "the Sanctuaries above", alluding to the two heavenly Sanctuaries mentioned by the Zohar.
The lower of these two heavenly Sanctuaries is mentioned in a midrashic comment on the verse: "And it came to pass on the day that Moses completed erecting the Sanctuary" (Numbers 7:1). "Rabbi Simon said: At the time when the Holy One blessed-be-He told the Jewish People to erect the Sanctuary, he hinted to the Ministering Angels that they too should make a Sanctuary. When the Sanctuary was erected in the lower world, this angelic Sanctuary was erected above. This is the Sanctuary of the 'lad', [the angel] whose name is Metatron, where he offers the souls of the Tzaddikim in order to atone for Israel during their time of exile" (Bemidbar Rabbah 12:13).
The passage from the Zohar quoted earlier indicates that even higher than this heavenly Sanctuary of the Angels stands another Sanctuary. This supreme Heavenly Temple is the subject of Ramchal's Mishkney Elyon. Of it he writes: "This holy House was created before the universe. For it is from this House that all created beings receive their power and sustenance." This is the Temple that Ezekiel saw in his vision, and it is the prototype of the Third Temple, which will be an actual physical structure in this world.
There is a lot of information provided in this section. Let us try to put it into perspective. There are three heavenly Temples. There are 4 physical Temples. The book we are reading and discussing is the highest level Temple. The 7 Temples consist of 1)the structure described in the Mishkney Elyon which is the Temple in the World of Atzilut. 2) The Temple/Sanctuary of the Angels which is the World of Briah and the Angel M T. 3) The First and Second Temples. 4) The two Mishkan's. One in the Desert and one in Gilgal. 5) The final Third Temple. I have never heard which Temple/Sanctuary goes with which Sefirah.
The work begins with an explanation of the relationship between the Heavenly Temple and its counterpart, the earthly Temple, which is a holographic image of the Heavenly Temple and emanates from it. Ramchal clarifies the differences between the First, Second and Third Temples on earth, explaining among other things why Ezekiel already saw the vision of the Third Temple at the time of the destruction of the First, and why the Divine Presence did not dwell in the Second Temple.
Ramchal then proceeds with a step-by-step "tour" of the various parts of the Sanctuary, Temple courtyards, gates and other buildings as seen by Ezekiel in his vision. In each case Ramchal explains how the form and very dimensions of each place are bound up with the corresponding spiritual "lights" - Sefirot and holy names - in the upper worlds.
In the second part of the work, Ramchal explains the Order of the Temple Service, and in particular the secret of the sacrifices:
"Every day the lower realms need to draw close to the upper realms in order that the 'branches' should be connected to the 'roots'. This way the angels are bound to their roots, and the souls to theirs. It is the animal offering that brings the angels close, while the incense offering brings the souls close."
Ramchal's account of how the "branches" of creation reconnect with their "roots" through the Temple service fulfills his promise to the reader at the outset of the book to "lay these matters before you in a single all-inclusive introductory work that will enable you to understand the way the world is run and how God gives each day's portion of food and sustenance to all His creatures, each in its proper time."
Ramchal's explanation of the sacrificial service also throws light on the deeper meaning and kabbalistic intentions of the daily prayer services, which correspond to the regular Temple sacrifices and, in times of exile, take their place.
Most people think they understand what the Ramchal is saying yet the idea of the animal sacrifice is feeding the Angels is not easy to understand. Also most people think that there are certain times of teh day to pray and do other rituals. These times relate to the root and branch discussion and the Language of Branches which is a foreign teaching to most religious people.
After the end of the main body of Ramchal's discourse in Mishkney Elyon, he says: "I will now provide a concise, orderly account of all the measurements of the Temple and its courtyards in all their details in five chapters." He follows with five chapters written in the tersely elegant style of Mishneh summarizing the plan and measurements of all the different Temple buildings, courtyards, gates, steps, etc. These five chapters have many parallels to the five chapters of the mishnaic Tractate Middot, which explains the plan of the Second Temple. Ramchal's Five Chapters also bear certain resemblances to Rambam's account of the Second Temple in his Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Beit Habechirah.
Thus at the end of Mishkney Elyon, as in quite a number of his other works, Ramchal performs the invaluable service of providing his readers with a clear, concise summary of the entire contents of the main work.
In Mishkney Elyon Ramchal provides vital keys to understanding both the physical form and spiritual meaning of the Third Temple.
Rambam had written: "Even though the building destined to be built in the future is written about in Ezekiel, it is not explained nor is it clear" (Hilchot Beit Habechirah 1:4). Even the mishnaic sages were perplexed by difficulties in Ezekiel's prophecies, including certain apparent contradictions to the Halachah. In the words of the Talmud:
"Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: Hananiah ben Hizkiah is most certainly remembered for good, for if it were not for him, the Book of Ezekiel would have been removed from the canon because his words seem to contradict the Torah. What did Hananiah do? They brought him up three hundred barrels of oil [for light and food] and he sat in an attic and reconciled all the difficulties" (Shabbat 13b and see Menachot 45a).
Notwithstanding the labors of Hananiah ben Hizkiah, Ezekiel's prophecies remained a closed book for all but the most outstanding of scholars. The account of Ezekiel's vision of the Third Temple contains many passages whose meaning is extremely hard to determine even with the help of the classical commentators. Trying to build a picture of the basic design and layout of the Temple buildings as seen by Ezekiel can be a daunting task.
Rav's expression of appreciation for the labors of Hananiah ben Hizkiah can therefore surely be applied to Ramchal, who explained the structure and purpose of the Third Temple with the crystal clarity of a Rambam.
From the day the Sanctuary was erected in the wilderness, the Temple in its various manifestations has been the focal point of the entire devotional system of the Torah. It was from the Holy of Holies that Moses and all the later prophets received prophecy. It was to the Sanctuary in Shilo that the childless Hannah went to pour out her heart in whispered prayer, becoming the model of Tefilah, Prayer, for all time.
Hints about the meaning of various aspects of the Temple and its services can be found throughout the Zoharitic writings and those of the ARI and other kabbalistic sages. But nowhere in the whole of rabbinic literature is the significance of the Temple as a devotional focus for Jews and indeed all humanity explained systematically and with such clarity as in Ramchal's Mishkney Elyon.
This is not to suggest that Mishkney Elyon is "easy". It deals with matters that stand at the very summit of the universe. For the Temple "includes" all the Sefirot and all the worlds. A work about the meaning of the Temple must necessarily deal with the secrets of Maaseh Bereishit and Maaseh Merkavah. These matters must be approached with the utmost reverence and humility and with many prayers to God for enlightenment.
Does the Third Temple come down ready made and complete from Heaven, or do actual people have to build it?
According to Rashi, "The future Temple for which we are waiting will be revealed and come down from heaven fully built and complete, as it is written (Exodus 15:17): 'The Sanctuary, God, that Your hands established'" (Rashi on Succah 41a and see Tosafot there; see also Rashi on Rosh Hashanah 30a and Tosafot on Shavuot 15b).
On the other hand, Rambam states that the main identifying sign of the Mashiach will be that he will physically build the Third Temple in its proper place (Hilchot Melachim 11:4).
Ramchal helps us understand how both opinions express different aspects of the process by which the Third Temple will come into this world. He writes:
"In time to come, not only will the Heavenly and earthly Temples be similar. The Upper House will extend until it reaches the lower world. This is the meaning of the saying of our Rabbis that the Third Temple will be the work of the hands of God. For the Heavenly Temple will not be uprooted from its place. Rather it will extend until it reaches the lower world. Around it a physical structure will then be built as befits this material world, and the two structures will be joined and become one and will never again separate. God's glory will be fully revealed there, as it is said: 'And the glory of God will be revealed, and all flesh will see' (Isaiah 40:5). Then there will be complete peace and happiness forever."
In other words, a spiritual emanation of the Temple will come down into this world from the Upper World, and around it the physical reality of the Third Temple will be built.
In explaining Ezekiel's vision of the Third Temple, Ramchal has indeed brought the idea of the Third Temple down from Heaven into this world. The more that people study and grasp the Temple idea, the nearer will they bring the day when humanity will come to its senses, cease its futile cycles of war and destruction, and join together with one accord to worship the One God in the Third Temple.
As already noted, Ramchal states the purpose of Mishkney Elyon in his opening words:
"My purpose in this work is to discuss the subject of the Heavenly Temple mentioned by our sages, to explain its form and structure in all their various details, and to show how the earthly Temple is in direct alignment with it in its structure and all its dimensions. Now I will lay these matters before you in a single, all-inclusive introductory work that will enable you to understand the way the world is run and how God gives each day's portion of food and sustenance to all His creatures, each in its proper time."
The primary focus of Mishkney Elyon is upon the form of the Heavenly Temple, but since this is the prototype of the earthly Temple, much of what applies to the Heavenly Temple also applies to the earthly Temple. In many passages in Mishkney Elyon, Ramchal speaks simultaneously on a number of different levels, a feat made possible by the richness of Hebrew.
Ramchal explains step by step how the entire Heavenly Temple in all its details emanates from a single "place" or "point". This point exists on a plane that is beyond space as we know it, one that we could perhaps call metaspace. In the terminology of religion and Kabbalah, this is the spiritual plane "above" as opposed to the material world here "below". Indeed this "point", source of the Heavenly Temple, is ultimately the source of space as we know it.
This heavenly "place" or "point" corresponds to Even Shetiyah, the "Foundation Stone", in the earthly Temple. This is the rock on the Temple Mount that is called "the belly of the earth", the place from which the entire earth emanated like a fetus growing from the belly outwards. It is from the heavenly point corresponding to the earthly Even Shetiyah that all the lights that bring the Heavenly Temple into being shine forth. This point corresponds to the last of the Ten Sefirot, or Divine Attributes, of which the Kabbalah speaks. This is the Sefirah of Malchut, "Kingly Power", through which all the upper Sefirot shine. This Sefirah is also called Shechinah, the "Indwelling Presence of God".
Starting from this "point", Ramchal traces the emanation of the Heavenly Temple, beginning with the Holy of Holies and moving on successively to the main Sanctuary with its Gate and Vestibule, the surrounding Inner Temple Courtyard with its massive stone sacrificial Altar and various chambers, the Outer Courtyard and its chambers and gates, and finally the Temple Mount.
Ramchal explains the principle governing his choice of route:
"I will follow the path of the flow of blessing (Shefa) as it emerges from the source and spreads forth on all sides. I begin therefore with the place from which it emerges, and I will tell you in which directions it travels after leaving there, and which path it takes at the beginning and which path it takes at the end."
When we get to this section of the translation you will find it extremely stimulating. Until then i do not have any comment. i am far from the level of spirituality of the Ramchal. His vision is clearer than mine.
There is no simple one-word English equivalent of the Hebrew word שפע: Shefa. In most places in this translation of Mishkney Elyon phrases such as "the flow of blessing and sustenance" have been chosen in an attempt to convey something of the true meaning of the word.
In contemporary Hebrew, Shefa means "plenty" or "abundance", but the root word has the connotation of "influence", especially a positive, beneficial influence that one person or object has on another. The related word HaShPAah signifies the influence that a MaShPiA, a source of influence, has on the recipient of that influence.
In Mishkney Elyon and Kabbalah generally, Shefa refers to the spiritual influences which emanate from the higher levels of creation in order to sustain the lower and help bring them to their destiny.
The word "creation" here refers to all the different "worlds" and levels brought into being by God. These created worlds encompass not only this material World of Asiyah (Action) in which we live, including the Earth and all it contains, and all the planets, stars and galaxies to the outer limits of the physical universe but also the spiritual worlds that exist in the metaspace that is "above" our World of Asiyah. These are the World of Yetzirah (Formation), world of the angelic hosts that sustain and govern the stars, planets and other natural phenomena of Asiyah, and the World of Beriyah (Creation), world of the higher angels, the "officers" that govern the angelic hosts of Yetzirah. The World of Beriyah is also known as the "World of the Throne".
Beyond Beriyah lies a realm of Godly unity that is the source of all these created worlds: this realm of unity is the World of Atzilut (Emanation), from which the light of the Ten Sefirot shines forth to create, sustain and govern all the lower worlds.
Creation is not only a single past act. It is also a continuing process in which all the worlds are governed in such a way as to bring all things to the ultimate goal, the complete revelation of God on all levels of creation. To accomplish this goal, there is a continuous influx of various kinds of "power" or "energy" into creation. These "powers" sustain and govern all the different levels of creation, spiritual and physical, so as to bring all things to the ultimate goal. This flow of power and energy is called Shefa.
The ultimate goal of creation is the end point to which everything is moving. The reason why everything is "going" in that direction is because that is where God is making everything go. To make something go is to drive it, as when one drives an animal or car. The Hebrew word for "driving" is Hanhagah, from the root Nahag, which means to drive or make something go.
The kabbalistic concept of Hanhagah refers to the way the worlds are actually governed in order to bring everything to the ultimate goal of creation. Creation is seen as being "driven" by God, somewhat as a chariot (Merkavah) and the animals pulling it are driven by the charioteer. The "animals" of the divine "Chariot" are the Chayot, the higher angels that are the vital forces of creation. As the Chayot "draw" the Chariot, the Ofanim (literally "wheels") go round and round: these are the lower angels that govern the great wheels or cycles of creation.
The Hanhagah or "driving" is ultimately determined by the One sitting "in the driver's seat", this being the Throne of Kingship. From it the King governs all His "armies" or "legions" - the souls, angels and other orders and levels of created beings. All these "hosts" are God's "armies" sent to accomplish His purpose, and He sustains them and provides all their needs according to their different levels, spiritual and physical.
The "sustenance" sent to sustain and influence all the different levels is Shefa. Central to Mishkney Elyon is the idea that it is from the Temple that the Shefa of blessing and sustenance is drawn down to all the worlds in positive, beneficial ways. The Temple service is what actually elicits the flow of Shefa and causes it to "come down" to all the various levels of creation according to their respective needs. The Temple is the King's "Palace", where all His "officers and captains" assemble, as it were, to receive what they need for themselves and those under them.
The entire "Palace" is laid out accordingly to provide appropriate areas for all the different grades and ranks. There are set times for them to come forward, all within their respective boundaries. Everything is arranged according to an overall Seder, "Order".
The key to understanding this order is to study the "path" by which the Shefa comes to its recipients. Understanding this pathway unlocks the mystery of the Temple layout and service. This is why Ramchal sets himself to "follow the path of the flow of blessing (Shefa) as it emerges from the source and spreads forth on all sides."
This section called Shefa is a commentary by Rabbi Greenbaum that attempts to bring the material written by the Ramchal into a summary form. The language is kabbalaistic but it does not relate to the language of branches and in my opinion leaves much to be desired. It is hard to follow as it is written since it is incomplete. i will attempt to clarify this as we read along with the Ramchal.
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