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Ain Soph

A General Introduction

By Shlomo Phillips © February 11, 2014 (last updated June 23, 2017)

Recorded Live on Facebook

According to the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) the God is Israel is echad: completely, indivisibly, One.
This Oneness is sometimes referred to Ain Soph in its ultimate formlessness.
In truth, there exists nothing but Ain Soph: the Eternal One: the "No-Thing" (i.e. no definable thing, not this, not that).
Ain Soph is the ONE beyond all conception. There is no second to compare with the Holy One (Isaiah46:5).
As the Shema informs us:

שמע ישראל ה 'הוא האלוהים שלנו הוא אחד

Shema Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad
"Hear Israel, HaShem is our God, HaShem is One"

The Eternal One is echad: absolutely One. This Oneness is absolute and unchanging. This foundational truth reveals that Ain Soph is not part of a trinity (nor any other pantheon of gods), and that everything that exists is and arose from within the Will of the Eternal One who alone is blessed. Therefore, Ain Soph is not a cosmic unconsciousness (like the Force in Star Wars) because the Eternal One manifests desire and demonstrates concern for His creation.

According to the sages, the creation began with the bringing forth of ten Sephirot or emanations. These can be thought of as the building blocks or divine energy emanations of existence. This conception led some ancients to confusion. Trying to grasp the inconceivable some people determined the ten Sephirot to be gods or manifestations like the ba'als or other demigods, but this is not so. There is no god with G-d (Deuteronomy 32:39). How easily people can be led into error! One must properly understand Torah to avoid such confusion.

With the creation, or "in the beginning," Ain Soph is partially revealed as Elohim (i.e. the conceivable G-d over all 'gods'). From Elohim the Creator comes all existence - other than transcendent Ain Soph of course. The Creation emerges from the Oneness of Ain Soph (from within the "Void" established by Elohim for this purpose) without in any way infringing on the echad - singular - nature of the Eternal One. This is difficult to conceive.

This "calling forth" produces Adam Kadmon: the Tree of Existence or Life/Primordial Man, aka the logos of the Greeks. This is more correctly referred to as Adam ha-Ḳadmoni. Don't be confused here. This is not Adam from the Garden of Eden (i.e. "Adam Ha-Rishon" -- Adam the first), rather, we are speaking here of "Adam Ha-Ḳadmoni" or Adam the Original (which existed before and after the "first" Adam). Adam Kadmon is a sort of prototype of existence within which resides all material potentiality. We understand Tehillim (Psalms) 139:5 to be referring this:

From the rear and the front You encompassed me, and You placed Your pressure upon me.
This passage refers to the time "before the first and after the last day of Creation." This is confirmed as as we read, "And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters," meaning the spirit of the Anointed which existed from before the beginning. The Midrash on Tehillim 139 clarifies this point. Of this Anointing it is said:
Yeshayahu 11:1,2 And a shoot shall spring forth from the stem of Jesse, and a twig shall sprout from his roots. And the spirit of HaShem shall rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and heroism, a spirit of knowledge and fear of HaShem.
While Rashi does not consider this to be a Messianic prophecy (despite its agreement with Isaiah 11), this issue does not alter its aspect concerning the Anointing
"... The entire section, and at the end (v. 11), 'And it shall come to pass, that on that day, the Lord shall apply His hand again…[from Assyria]…' Hence, [it is obvious] that this prophecy was said to console those exiled to Assyria" [i.e. it is not referring to the future HaMashiach].
This text contains the kernel of Philo's philosophical doctrine of the creation of the "original man." Philo sees here the idea of the earthly Adam (or Adam Ha-Rishon), while our rabbis explain the reference is to Adam Ha-Ḳadmoni which existed before the creation of the human Adam. Adam Ha-Ḳadmoni was preexistent to the whole of creation. From this preexisting Adam, the spirit of Mashiach or Anointing, the Logos conception of the Greeks was a logical step. Basing its arguments on Philo's opinions, the Church sought to support its beliefs in the preexistence of Yeshua/Jesus due, in part, to declaration of John 1:1 that the 'Logos existed in the beginning' with G-d." This attempt fails miserably however since while traditional Judaism and Chassidus accepts the preexistence of the spirit of HaMashiach, Yeshua met none of the main biblical requirements as I discuss here.

The basic Jewish conception of Adam Kadmon is harmonious with the non-Christian Greek idea of the Logos. This concept arises from the Hebrew conception of Adam Ha-Ḳadmoni. It is through Adam Kadmon that humanity is "made in the image of G-d" and it is by harmonizing with the Ten sephirot and thereby entering into Dalet that attains harmony with the Holy One, blessed be He. Through this process one merits the Anointing and assists in the tikun olam that can assist in the coming of Mashiach ben David. Through this "calling into existence" the ten Sephirot or emanations of the One become manifest.

With the "calling forth" of these ten emanations the creation takes form within the boundaries of time and space and ultimately transcends it, entering into the Olam Haba. Herein existence is infused with independent life. In truth however there is nothing except Ain Soph. What is created as separate existence in reality abides united within Adam Kadmon. This Life can, through emunah (active faith and truth) and kavanah (right intention) attain spiritual harmony with the Holy One through teshuvah.

This is another area where confusion easily develops. This Chassidic concept of the ultimate Oneness of the creation is not the same as the Eastern concept of nirguna brahman, wherein the diverse "parts" of creation collectively form the totality of the Whole wherein one realizes "tat tvam asi," that, "Thou art That". Rather, because Ain Soph exists completely independent of all creation, the creation has no impact on the Holy One in any way. The Eternal One chooses to interact with the created beings as "other" to the Divine Existence.

Destroy everything that has been created if you can and Ain Soph will remain untouched. Destroy the Creator and nothing would remain. There is only HaShem. Anything we might say concerning Ain Soph is therefore only partly accurate. Ain Soph is utterly transcendent. The revelations we are granted concerning HaShem allow us to realize that which is beyond all conception.

Adam Kadmon is independent existence. It is called forth by the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, by the Words of Torah, that arise ultimately from Ain Soph. This Word (elohim amar hayah) is the conceivable Source of the inconceivable. From this Word it is understood that utterance of the Sacred Language 'draws forth' from the emanations as one draws water from a well. Each Hebrew letter therefore possesses an intrinsic existence arising from and ultimately returning to Ain Soph through Adam Kadmon. The Hebrew alphabet contains and manifests HaShem's Torah, the Source the creation. Therefore Hebrew is the most exalted of the languages and will, in the Olam Haba (the future age), be the language of all creation.

Each Hebrew letter likewise has a numeric value that can, for those with understanding, further reveal the divine wisdom of Torah. Because light and color are definable through numeric sequences they also manifest sacred attributes that reveal deeper understanding. Through its emanations, Ain Soph surrounds and indwells all at each and every moment. And yet remains eternal distinct and echad (one).

For more information on this topic see my study here.

There is Only One G-d.

There is Only G-d

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