Maamar Ha-Ikarim by R. M.Ch. Luzzatto Chapter 2 - The Spiritual Creatures


Back to Chapter 1

Translated by Ralph Anzarouth and an anonymous friend

2. The Spiritual Creatures

Just as the Lord, blessed be His Name, created with His infinite faculties physical creations which it is within our power to see, He also desired to create and actually created other superior beings which our senses can neither grasp nor perceive. In the same way as he decreed rules and special limits to the physical world, he also decreed other laws or rules to apply to these ethereal beings as He saw fit in His Divine Wisdom, each being according to its mission. In a practical sense, what comes within the scope of our limited senses we call physical, and what is beyond the scope of these senses we call spiritual. And as we have stated, each is governed by its own set of natural laws adapted to its mission.

It is necessary to bear in mind that just as the physical realm is comprised of various species, and each species is governed by its own special set of rules, so in the spiritual realm we find various species, all of them belonging to the spiritual, and each of these species is also governed by its own set of rules. In all things pertaining to the spiritual world, we should also bear in mind the general rule that its sphere and nature are beyond our comprehension, and that our knowledge of their existence and some of their activities comes from what has been handed down to us by the prophets and Sages of blessed memory.

The species of the spiritual world are divided into three classes: the first is called Nivdalim ("Separate forces"), the second is called Malakhim (angels), and the third is called Neshamot ("souls"). The Nivdalim are spiritual creations without any material form; pure and highly refined, they are the closest to the blessed Divine Presence and His influence is constantly over them, and they are allotted names in accordance to their rank: for example "Spheres of the Throne" and "Ofanim". The Malakhim are spiritual beings brought into existence by the blessed Creator for the purpose of carrying out His missions according to his wishes. Each one is appointed over a specific function assigned to him by the Divine will. These beings are divided into various categories of different ranks, and each rank is governed by its particular laws and limitations as appropriate to them, in accordance to the Divine Wisdom. The Neshamot are spiritual creations destined to enter human bodies, to unite with them and join together to form a very firm bond. They are governed by particular rules according to their mission and status; in other words, the Neshamot go through different stages, one being outside the body and the other within the human body. Outside the human body, the Neshama has two separate forms of existence, the first before it enters the body and the second after it leaves the body. At each of these stages, the Neshamot are imposed with limitations and are liable to experience various changing events as befits their status at any specific time. The Malakhim are His servants and carry out His orders, and every event which happens in the world, whether good or bad, is carried out by them. For this purpose, they are divided in two classes, namely, the angels of the good class, which are appointed to execute the favorable events, whether physical or spiritual; and the angels of the bad class, which are in charge of executing the unfavorable events, whether physical or spiritual. Angels of this bad class are called "Angels of Destruction" or Mezikin.

There is one further category of beings, something between physical and spiritual, which is partially bound by the limitations of the physical realm, and in other aspects is outside its limitations. This category is called Shedim, and they are partially physical but not in the same way as we are; and they are partially spiritual, but not in the full sense. They are also divided into various ranks and classes, and each separate rank is governed by its own laws and limitations.

There is nothing in [our] inferior world, be it substance or event, which does not have a counterpart in the superior world among the forces which we called Nivdalim. Accordingly, you will find nothing in the lower realms which does not have angels appointed over it, to guide it and to make happen to it circumstances and events, in accordance with His divine decree. The effects of the upper worlds on the physical world are called "Influence".

All the influences emanating from the upper worlds for the needs of the physical world are transmitted via the celestial bodies, with the result that the celestial bodies have a closer influence over the physical world, however this influence is only that of an intermediary.

The Lord, blessed be He, allowed all these spiritual beings to operate in the physical world in a supernatural fashion, subject to their being activated by the physical beings by way of specially designated and identified means. However, none of them has the power to act totally out of his free will, but each has its own prescribed limits, and can carry out the functions allotted to him only within the limits and in the ways prescribed to him.

Some of the above [supernatural activities] are permitted to us and others are forbidden. This is the subject of the Book of Creation and witchcraft.

Original text in Hebrew
Nostra traduzione in italiano - Our translation into Italian