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There are two levels of “nothing,” absolute nothing and relative nothing, and two levels of “something,” intangible something and tangible something.

Absolute nothing is the awareness that besides the absolute existence of God all is naught and that God’s absolute existence is absolutely incomprehensible;  relative nothing is the state of nothing that precedes creation ex-nihilo; intangible something is the aspect of reality we can’t directly experience; tangible something is the aspect of reality we can directly experience.

The Hebrew terms for “absolute nothing,” “relative nothing,” “intangible something,” and “tangible something” (as they appear in the classic texts of Kabbalah and Chasidut, when the concepts are meant to be distinguished one from the other) are efes (אפס), ayin (אין), yesh (יש), and mamash (ממש), respectively.

They correspond to the supernal sefirot as follows: absolute nothing – Crown (in particular, the inner dimension of the super-conscious crown);  relative nothing – Wisdom (in particular, the wisdom contained within the outer dimension of the crown, the super-conscious origin of revealed wisdom); intangible something – Understanding (well-defined conceptualization); tangible something – Kingdom (reality as we experience it).

The two levels of nothing are alluded to in the Divine Name that God revealed to Moses before the Exodus from Egypt, “I shall be that which I shall be” (אהיה אשר אהיה). “I shall be” implies that as yet there is no defined state of being, that being is still potential, not actual. There are two states of “potential,” “non-existent potential” (העלם שאינו במציאות) and “existent potential” (העלם שישנו במציאות). They correspond to the two states of nothing (absolute nothing and relative nothing, respectively) and to the two times “I shall be” in the Name that God revealed to Moses (before the Exodus, the Jewish people themselves were in a state of potential, the potential to become God’s chosen people).

The intangible something corresponds to God’s essential Name (relating to His attribute of mercy), Havayah (‘הוי), which literally means “being” (implying that being has become actualized, that it can be known). Jacob, after awaking from his dream of the ladder (symbolizing prayer) reaching from earth to heaven, said “There is Havayah ['יש הוי] in this place,” explicitly stating that Havayah is “something” (יש).

The tangible something corresponds to God’s Name Elokim (אלהים), the Name that appears exclusively in the original account of creation (whose gematria is equal to that of “nature” [הטבע], reality as we experience it).

To summarize:

Degree of Being Sefirah Name of God
Absolute nothing (אפס) Crown אהיה (Non-existent potential)
Relative nothing (אין) Wisdom אהיה (Existent potential)
Intangible something (יש) Understanding ‘הוי
Tangible something (ממש) Kingdom אלהים

“I shall be that which I shall be” = 543; Havayah = 26; Elokim = 86. Together they equal 655 = The Holy One Blessed Be He (הקדוש ברוך הוא), the all-inclusive connotation of God used by the sages.

Adding 655 to the four basic terms that correspond to the Names of God, absolute nothing (efes, 141), relative nothing (ayin, 61), intangible something (yesh, 310), and tangible something (mamash, 380) gives 1547 = 7 times 13 times 17 = Havayah (26) plus all 27 possible fillings of Havayah (which total 1521, 39 – “Havayah is one” [הוי' אחד] – squared). From this we conclude that all is Havayah (and “Havayah is one”).

3 Responses to “Absolute Nothing, Relative Nothing, Intangible Something, Tangible Something.”

  1. Yvonne/Zafana says:

    Rabbi Ginsburgh

    Do you perceive the last level of correction (gmar tikkun) as I do and Michael Leitman does? Your words are all there, but where do you SEE, perceive Israel and the world to be at this point in grasping Torah? I remember the state of “absolute nothing” on Yom Kippur of 1992: this state was horrifying but understanding came from this state of wisdom revealed that “blew away” the mind for quite some time. The state of relevant something or wisdom does bring with it the fear of the Lord, and this truly helps to break through husks (klipot) that fell from the shattering of the ego, and for almost two decades I have been able to “NAME” all the characters and people and animals, all things in the Bible as my own inner dimension thanks to your work and the Hebrew and Greek translation of the Bible: This has brought me to the intangible something (understanding) that I cleave to, cling to, receive UNION (da’ath) with for 19 yrs this Yom Kippur: What I can’t discern is the last phase, the Kingdom/Malchut, the tangible something. I tell myself “you are here” and you love everyone now, your family and neighbors and even understand your enemies and have no desire to curse anyone for any reason: I have allowed everyone into my heart and left no one outside, but yet I feel something is missing. In your discernment, could it be that our body keeps us from that last phase or is it that others are not able to grasp the same quality of life as we do? Why do I keep finding myself in a state of “waiting”? Do you understand? Do you have an answer for me?

    • Mike Ettinger says:

      I have allowed everyone into my heart and left no one outside, but yet I feel something is missing…..this is why we are suppose to fast…in respest for our desire for food, and repent in respect of desire for worldly things. It means we should culivate our desire or form our desire for God, as you know. The trouble is we have many forms…and not much purity, for we know there is no image or form which can contain God. So what should we desire…seeing the wait of time can be very heavy. Think of it in this respect…the basic human cuitivated desire for God’s love is like a plug in a hole…the only way this plug is removed is by being one with God.

      In the above comment by Rabbi Ginsburgh he mentions 1 squared is the summation of His being. I find it interesting that, in theory the root mean square of a uniform frequency is 70%, and not one. Light is a uniform frequency. There for from a fundamental approach God is of a purer duration than light seeing how He is one. One squred instills a sense of increase which comes from within, the beginning, circumventing time and space ending where it begins, within.

      Yes the flesh cannot know, but the soul is made a perfect fit for His Holiness. Do not be wearied by the wait of time for as Paul said, it is not even worthy of consideration compared to the joy we will know. Please forgive me for my poor writing skills, but to capture the essence of God in word or form is impossible.

  2. Ron says:

    Can how ask how one should work with that ? Would it be possible to see the first Eheye as an internal urge inside us to wake up from our leaving in tangible nothing.
    This would be the first stage as before there is this urge we are nowhere, simply drift in time. Once this urge comes the more we energy and effort we will put into it to higher we will reach upon the Tree of Life towards Crown- the second Eheye. Than our Ani-אני will turn into Nothing-אין. But how can we do it and what does it mean. Can I say that once this thought or urge to make our Ego absolute nothing, we must focus our mind and heart gradually until all thought stops and we connect our self with God. Only than we are truly nothing but with this also all and everything. Like in the days of creation there are six stages one moves upon until he reaches the Sabbath a day without beginning and End as it is not written ויהי בוקר ויהי ערב ים שבת.
    At every moment in a day one can have this urge which comes from the Absolute nothing, waking us to make the internal effort to climb back and unite with this nothing above us.

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