Make your own free website on

Ten Luminous Emanations

Holy Tree
Rabbi Isaac Luria.

Spacer The basic theology presented in the Ten Luminous Emanations is that God is Light. God's creatures are like Him in that they are also light, but the light belonging to the creatures is much, much dimmer, so much dimmer in fact that their light is almost a kind of darkness. This difference in light intensity is described as a difference in phase and is said to result from the incongruity between God's will and the will exhibited by His creatures.

Spacer God is said to have a will to bestow; His only desire is to shower His creatures with His gifts. In contrast creatures are said to have a will to receive, a will totally absent in God since God lacks nothing which He could want to receive. It is this will to receive that makes the creatures darker and out of phase with God.

Spacer Since the will to receive is imparted to creatures by God, it is good. This will causes creatures to be vessels that are capable of receiving God's Light. However the creatures are aware on some level that the gifts which they receive from God are unmerited. As the Zohar states, "they eat the shame of unearned bread." This awareness causes them pain, yet it's impossible for creatures to simply eliminate their will to receive as recipiency is the defining characteristic of their being. In some sense the creatures undergoing this pain are said to be broken vessels of God's Light.

Spacer However creatures can transform their pain into joy by inverting their will to receive into a will to bestow. Throughout this transformation creatures maintain their basic capacity to receive, but the way in which they receive God's gifts is different. When the gifts are received for their own sakes, they end up causing pain. However once the will to receive is transformed into the will to bestow, the gifts are accepted for the sole purpose of bestowing joy on the giver, i.e. God. When this is the mind set motivating all recipiency, the individual's sole motivation in life has been reduced to that of pleasing God.

Spacer Once the creature's reception has been transformed into bestowal, the individual creature's light is said to be "in phase" with God's light. At this point the creature emulates and becomes one with its Creator, a worthy receptacle for God's Light. This transformation appears to be the direct result of the individual's self-effort. Or as Ashlag states in this book:

Spacer ... By prayer, divine worship, learning of Torah and preserving its doctrines, codes and ethics, the goal of purification and sanctity is reached. After the necessary amount of service is performed, God bestows the ineffable Heavenly Light upon the devoted soul, while he is yet upon earth, and thereby eliminates the feeling of shame {i.e. the shame of eating unearned bread, which would seem to suggest that the sanctified person has in some way managed to earn this heavenly bread.}

Spacer Commentary by Rabbi Yehuda L. Ashlag

Jewish Mysticism

Back to Jewish Masters