"He wraps (Himself with) light as (with) a garment..." In Likutei Torah, by R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, section Ki Tissa and section Vayikra, it is stated that the apprehension of Moses our Master, peace to him, was not in the rank of the pnimiyut of the Supreme chochmah— which is called abba of Atzilut, and, a fortiori, not in the Sefirah of keter, called arich anpin, which transcends (chochmah). Rather, it was in the rank of the achurayim of chochmah which vest themselves in binah which (in turn) vests itself in the seven lower Sefirot, called z'eyr anpin— the principium of the Torah, and extends to the end of the four lowest Sefirot: netzach, hod, yesod, malchut(nhy'm). There the apprehension of his prophecy was in the rank of the pnimiyut, i.e. in the rank of the pnimiyut of nhy'm. But (on the levels) beyond nhy'm he had no apprehension in the pnintiyut, but only in the rank of the achurayim of the chochtnah which are vested in binah, which (in turn) is vested and extends itself within the pninriyut of nhy'm. This is the principium of "The outflowings of the Supernal chochmah is Torah," on the level of zeyr anpin. Thus it is written: "You shall see achoray, but panay shall not be seen;" see there, and in Shaar Hanevuah, ch. I.

Now this seems rather surprising. After all, it is said: "And there did not rise another prophet in Israel as Moses." How then did R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, apprehend more than he, and expound many themes dealing with the pnimiyut, even of many Sefirot and levels that transcend chochmah and keter of Atzilut?

But the matter is (as follows).

It is plain and clear to all that there is a great difference between the apprehension of the Cabbalists, as R. Shimon bar Yochai and R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, an apprehension by wisdom and knowledge, and the prophetic apprehension of Moses our Master, peace to him, and the other prophets, to which Scripture refers as an actual vision: "You shall see achoray," "And I saw the Lord;" "And the Lord appeared to him." Now, though this is in a metaphorical sense and does not mean actual sight by the physical eye composed of flesh, nevertheless, the subject (of a metaphor) needs to resemble the metaphor, and as the Targum (translates) וירא אליו ה' : "And (the Lord) became revealed unto him .... thus a mode of revelation, that De-us absconditus blessed is He, became revealed to him in a state of manifestation. It is different, though, with the apprehension of the Cabbalists. To them the Lord does not become revealed in the mode of manifestation; rather, they apprehend the secrets of wisdom, that which is hidden and concealed from them. They therefore said: "A wise man is better than a prophet;" because by his wisdom he can apprehend exceedingly beyond the levels that can descend netherwards in a mode of revelation to the prophets in the vision of their prophecy. For only the lowest ranks can descend and become revealed to them, namely nhy'm. (The ranks of nhym) are the ones that always descend and become revealed from the emanator to the recipient, as a faculty of mochin (brains) and life-force. Thus it is known to the savants of the esoteric science that the nhy'm of the higher (realm) vest themselves in the lower, in order to vivify it. For they are the kelim of the effluence and of the descent of the vivification from the higher to the lower, with respect to all the worlds and levels. Hence they also become revealed to the prophets in a mode of an actual revelation. Within these is vested the light of binah, the aspect of the understanding of Divinity and the light of the blessed En Sof.

And in it are vested the achurayim of chochmah, a level transcending the conception and comprehension of the blessed Divinity, as the term chochmah denotes the source of conception and comprehension. That is why they said in the Zohar that "The Torah derives from chochmah". For the reasons for the commandments were not revealed and transcend conception and comprehension. And even the occasional places where some apparently intelligible reason was revealed and explained, this, to our intelligible reason, is not the full and absolute reason; rather, within it is vested the pnimiyut and principium of chochmah, transcending conception and comprehension. It is likewise with respect to every word that was emitted from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed is He, to the prophets, as recorded in Tnach, whether they be words of admonishment or tales of events. In them is vested an aspect of the Divine chochmah transcending conception and comprehension. This is empirically evident from the principle of kri and ktiv . The kri relates to the comprehension as revealed to us. The ktiv transcends conception and comprehension; that is, this word in its written form has no garment subject to comprehension, but in its oral reading form it does have a garment. The same applies to the large letters in the Tnach; they are from a supremely sublime world and radiate thence openly,- not with a garment like the other letters.

Now, the aspect of the blessed Divine chochmah , vested in the 613 commandments of the Torah, is referred to as the category of the achurayim of chochmah. For all the achurayim in the Sefirot are the external and lower levels in the gradation of that Sefirah. That is why they can descend and extend below, to become vested in the creatures in order to vivify them. The aspect of the panim is the Sefirah itself. It is united with its Emanator, the blessed En Sof, by an absolute union. As, for example, the Sefirah of chochmah: it is united with its Emanator, the blessed En Sof, in an absolute unity, for the Holy One, blessed is He, and His wisdom, are one ( as explained above ). But that which radiates and extends from His blessed chochmah, below [among the limited and finite nether beings, and becomes vested in them], is called achurayim, and is also called the aspect of Asiyah of Atzilut. Metaphorically speaking, this will be understood by the analogy with terrestrial man. There are five ranks in his soul, one lower than the other. These are the faculties of the intellect, the (emotive) attributes, thought, speech, and action. Action is the lowest of them all. For the vivification that extends from the soul and is vested in the power of action, is as nothing compared to the vivification that extends from it and is vested in the power of speech. The latter (in turn) is as nothing compared to the vivification that extends from (the soul) and is vested in thought, the (emotive) attributes, and the intellect.

In a precisely like manner (with respect to) the category of His blessed chochmah, that which can become extended from it to become vested in all the nether beings is as nothing compared to the category of the panim, which is united with the blessed Emanator. For "All that are before Him are esteemed as naught." But the effluence to all limited and finite nether beings is regarded, so to speak, as a descent and contraction (tzimtzum) with respect to the Emanator, the blessed En Sof, just as, metaphorically speaking, it would be regarded as a descent and contraction for the intellect of an intelligent person to be contracted to some purely physical and material act.

Moses our Master, peace to him, who apprehended up to the achurayim of chochmah, therefore merited that through him was given the Torah— "the outflowings of the supernal chochma" i.e. that which flows off from it and descends netherwards and becomes vested in our physical Torah. Its principal object and purpose is the upkeep of the operative and prohibitory commandments, in true actuality and performance, in accord with the saying: "To do them this day;" and "Study (of Torah) is greater because it leads to performance;" and "He who learns with the intent of not doing, it would have been better for him if his after-birth had been turned over,,.." And every person needs to become reincarnated until he has actually observed all the 613 commandments, as known from R. Isaac Luria, of blessed memory.

The letters that are revealed to us are in action, speech, and thought. Pertaining to action are the forms of the letters as they are in the Assyrian script of the Torah-scroll. The letters pertaining to speech are engraved in the breath and voice which is divided into twenty-two parts. One differs from the other with respect to their form, i.e. the enunciation and utterance of the twenty-two letters in any language. For there is no difference between the sacred tongue and the other languages with respect to the nature of the letters' enunciation, only as regards their combinations. The letters pertaining to thought are [again, in any language a person may think] the words and letters of the language, which are twenty-two only. Though, in thought there are three kinds of [the aspect of] letters. When one sees in the Torah-scroll the form of the letters, they are pictured in his thought. This is referred to as the rank of "the action in thought." Likewise, when one hears the letters of speech, they become inscribed in his thought and he meditates upon them. This is referred to as the rank of the "speech in thought," and as the rank of Yetzirah. The letters of thought only, without any meditation on the letters of speech, are referred to as the "thought in thought," the rank of Beriah.

Now, the letters of actual speech come about and receive their vivification from those very same letters that are in the thought. Though sometimes a person may speak while thinking of another matter, he can, then, speak only such words and combinations that he has already spoken (previously) and that were in his thought a great many times. Thus in those words and combinations there is left the vestige of the thought that entered into them many times. And this is the rank of the achurayim and externality of the nh'y of the partzuf of the higher (realm), which enters into the lower one to be unto it a faculty of mochin and life-force, as known.