History and Philosophy of Kaballah 05

Breaking the Vessels

Another concept which was introduced for the first time by the Arizal is that of Sheviras HaKeilim (breaking the vessels), which also describes the process of declension of worlds.

Rabbi Triebitz observes that the concept, to which the Arizal (Rav Chaim Vital) devotes two chapters in the Etz Chaim, is redefined by the commentators on Etz Chaim to be either another term for tzimtzum, or a minor part of the process of creation. The Gra, Tanya and Ramchal all seem to water down the idea so that it is no longer the same as the way it was presented by Rav Chaim Vital.

This may be another example of taking their cue from Mahari Sarug (see Emek HaMelech, who also changes the meaning of shevirah).

Rabbi Triebitz has a novel (and conceptually difficult) explanation of why this transformation occurred.

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