The various Jewish Worlds
It is all in the word
The Jewish Worlds
In the study of Kabbalah the discussion of the five worlds always come up. The five worlds are what I learned and understood of the spiritual realms that surround us. However, one day I was studying about prayer and I came upon a discussion of the seven worlds, which is more proper to say the seven heavens. I began to question why the difference. So I set out to understand the seven heavens and where this idea came from and the five worlds mentioned in Kabbalah. Which one is a more ancient perspective? Which one makes for sense? So I found out that the seven worlds are more in line with biblical scripture. The following are the seven worlds.
The seven worlds are:
Vilon referenced in Isaiah 40:22 as it says,"It is He who sits on the circumference of the earth, with its inhabitants like grasshoppers; Who spreads the heavens like a thin curtain, and stretches them like a tent to dwell in." Vilon in the hebrew language is a thin curtain. It has always amazed me that in the dark ages the people believed that the earth was flat. Where is the source of such a ridiculous notion. The Catholic Church in the dark ages and the middle ages persecuted and called anyone that believed that the world was indeed round a heretic, even though they use the same scripture from the book of Isaiah which clear makes reference to the circumference of the earth which tells us that the earth was round. Even the ancient Greek philosophers new the earth was round because they had mathematical distances for the moon which the extrapolated and this testifies that even the pagan Greeks of the ancient world with no help of scripture found that the world was round.
Raki'a referenced in Genesis 1:17, says "And G-d set them in the firmament of the heaven to shine upon the earth." Raki'a means firmament. There is a belief that there was a firmament above and one below. The earth was in a pristine state and when the time of the flood came G-d shifted the earth slightly and the firmament above broke apart and the earth experienced the first rains. It is believed that when this happened that all of creation was exposed to the more radical elements of space upon the planet and the creatures did not live a long as before, nor did they grow as big as before. This theory can be looked into at the Creation museum in El Cajon in the County of San Diego, Ca. If this theory is correct and no rain descended upon the earth until the firmament broke than no wonder it was just Noah and his family on the Ark, no one else would have understood the severity of a flood.
Shehaqim referenced in Psalms 78:23, says, "even though He had already commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven." Shehaqim is equivalent to skies. I like to say a blessing for people that HaShem will open the heavens and rain down blessings upon them, I guess this is what I would be saying, that may HaShem open the Shehaqim and rain blessings upon them.
Zebul referenced in Isaiah 63:15, says, "Look down down from Heaven and see, from Your abode of holiness and splendor!" Zebul means abode. This is not a physical location. The Shehaqim above is probably the one heaven that makes a shift between the physical and spiritual realm and that would make Zebul a completely spiritual location.
Ma'on in Deutoronomy 26:15, says "Gaze down from Your holy abode, from the heavens, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground that You gave us, as You swore to our forefathers, a Land flowing with milk and honey." Ma'on means abode. So what is the difference of Zebul and Ma’on? If you find out than please let me know by posting a comment below. I think that it has something to do with an outer courtyard and an inner courtyard.
Machon in 1 Kings 7:30, says "There were four copper wheels to each stand, and copper bars that had shafts at their four corners." Machon means "stand", here the connection is made since the worldly temple is a reflection of the holy temple in the heavenly realms. So taking what we know so far the Zebul is probably the outer courtyard, the Ma’on the inner courtyard, the Machon the Holy area equivalent to the temple.
That leaves the Araboth as the Holy of Holies, the Araboth which is the seventh heaven is HaShem's domain, just like the Mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant where the Glory of HaShem resides in the Earthly Temple and that is a mirror image of the seventh heaven which is HaShems special place.
The Midrash to Devarim speaks of the righteous as stars. However the Midrash uses the seven number convention as well. The Midrash Says – The Book of Devarim by Rabbi Moshe Weissman and Published by Benei Yakov says on page 8 “Why are the Jews likened to the stars? In fact, in the future the tzaddikiim ( Rigteous people) will be divided into seven groups according to their spiritual accomplishments:
1) Some tzaddikim will radiate as splendidly as the sun.
2) Another group will shine like the moon.
3) A third group will sparkle like the sky.
4) Another will gleam like stars.
5) Some tzaddikim will flash like lightning.
6) Others will radiate beauty like roses.
7) There is a division that will glimmer like the golden Menorah of the Beit HaMikdash ( The Temple)"
Now that we have discussed the Seven Heavens which is further discussed in the Talmud, let’s see if there are biblical connections to the Kabbalistic concept of the 4 or 5 worlds that surround us and are all interposed on each other.
Isaiah 6:1 shows the three level of Holiness or separation. Holy or Kadosh means something that is set aside for a specific purpose. The angels are stating that there are 3 levels of speration between HaShem and mankind. This would make there be 4 or 5 worlds. We are on one end and HaShem is on the other end.
This leads into the Listing of the 4 (5) worlds, in some views there are only four.
Gehinom is the fiery pit that is to purify, this is the optional 5th world, a world of destruction.
Assiyah is the world of action, this is the world that we live in and function in. This is the world that is tangible and physical.
Yetzirah is the world of formation. This is the world why things begin to form, probably before it becomes matter which would be manifested in the world of Assiyah.
Briyah this is the world of creation. This is the world where the idea comes into being before it becomes a form or matter.
Atzilut means nearness. This is the world in which HaShem is and no other being can exist.
Deutronomy 6:4 says, "Shema Yisrael, Adonai Elokeinu, Adonai Echad", which means Hear Israel, The L-rd our G-d is One. The word "Echad" for one is a word that has caused a lot of problems for theology. I was listening in Synagogue and I heard what the word means. The Hebrew letters are Aleph - Chet - and Dalet. The first letter of the word makes all other letters subservient to the first letter. The first letter here is the Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This letter is representative of G-d. The Chet has a numberical value of eight, and as we learned in the above lesson there are seven heavens and one Earth which combine to give us eight. The Dalet has a numberical value of four. There are four directions which are North, South, East and West. Now lets take another look at the word Echad. The word Echad means that the seven heavens, and one earth with all four directions are subservient to G-d. In other words all that exists is subservient to the Master of the Universe. G-d created all things and they belong to the Creator, as is stated in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning G-d created the Heavens, and the Earth." The spiritual, the physical, the overlap it all belongs to HaShem.