The Radiant Splendor of Adam Kadmon

The worlds of Vision, Hearing, Smell and Speech emerge. The forehead also emits its own radiance. Thus all the worlds are nothing but the shining glory of Adam Kadmon.

4 min

Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Posted on 22.11.23

Part 55 of “138 Openings of Wisdom” by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato

Opening 32
The radiance of Adam Kadmon
The face is made to radiate that which is arranged within, inside the body, and emissions of this radiation emerge from each of the sense organs. Accordingly, four worlds emerge: the worlds of Vision, Hearing, Smell and Speech. The forehead also emits its own radiance. Thus all the worlds are nothing but the radiant splendor and shining glory of Adam Kadmon, while Adam Kadmon is more elevated than them and cannot be apprehended.
Having discussed the subject of Adam Kadmon in general, we will now start to go into the details, following the order of the Likeness of Man — the human form. We begin by discussing a phenomenon that we must first examine as it is manifested in the human form itself, in order to be able afterwards to understand the government of the worlds in accordance with the underlying secret of this phenomenon.
The proposition consists of two parts: Part 1: The face is made to shine… This is the phenomenon that we must understand as manifested in the human form, namely, the face. Part 2: Thus all the worlds… This is the underlying secret corresponding to this phenomenon in the scheme of worlds.
Part 1: The face is made to radiate… To explain this matter: The parts of the body and their functions here below always signify parallel aspects of the government above. Now the face exists as one part of the body through which the soul (neshamah) turns to and supervises what concerns the body in relation to that which is outside of it, through the faculties of vision, hearing, smell and speech. The soul remains in its sanctuary and through these organs experiences all these sensations.
There are two things that we must consider here: the fact of the existence of the apertures (nekavim) found in the face, and the use that the soul itself makes of them. The truth is that the very apertures themselves are made by the soul. When the body of the embryo is being formed, the spirit (ru’ach) that builds it breaks through there so as to form the aperture, whereas in the other limbs and body parts the spirit remains inside. Afterwards, sensory experience comes about through these apertures. However, this breaking through by the soul is not dependent on the senses themselves, for there are cases where a person has a given organ but not the associated sense. Furthermore, a person does not constantly hear, smell or speak even though these apertures are open.
Up to this point we have been considering the apertures through which the soul supervises that which relates to the outside. Another phenomenon is that of the face itself (i.e. the facial expression), which also shows the state of the inner spirit in its place, be it settled or agitated. It must be that the face was intentionally made to do this, for the other limbs of the body do not do so. There is also something else that is not visible today but which ought to be able to be seen: the face should have a shine or radiant splendor (ziv) like that of the sun. This was seen in the case of Moses our Teacher, the very skin of whose face radiated (Exodus 34:29). Similarly, the sages said of Pinchas that when the Holy Spirit rested upon him, his face flashed like lightning (Vayikra Rabbah 1:1). The reason why this radiant splendor is not seen today is that man’s face is incomplete after the sin of Adam. However, initially Adam had this radiant splendor, as stated in the Zohar (Bereishit 142b) and Midrashim. In the future too, all will shine with this splendor, as it is written: “And they that are wise shall radiate splendor like the splendor of the firmament” (Daniel 12:3).
From all of the above, we see that the face is made to turn to others, and the face is prepared for this. We can discern three different aspects. The first is the face itself, ready in all its parts to shine forth and radiate the inner light of the soul and show it to the outside through the expression of the face and its radiant splendor. Secondly there are the apertures made by the breaking through of the spirit during the process of building the body. Thirdly, there are the sensory experiences of the soul through these apertures.
Let us now consider how all this applies above: The “face” consists of the vessels in the Residue through which the Light of Eyn Sof — the “soul” within — turns to others so as to govern the Partzufim themselves, which constitute the orders of government of the worlds. For you have already heard earlier that just as it is the soul that governs the body, so it is the Inner Essence (pnimiyut) that governs the Partzufim (see Opening 29). These vessels are the “face” with all that is instituted in it through the mystery of the Thirteen Rectifications of the Beard, which comprise the entire face. (In Adam Kadmon, the Thirteen Rectifications are not present as such, but their roots are there.) These all shine and give rise to the radiant splendor of the face. Nevertheless, the radiance is occluded, for it has to pass through the face itself. Even so, everything that is arranged in the entire body stands to be seen in the face, for things are so ordered that everything connected with the soul is visible in the face, as discussed in the Zohar in connection with the secrets of physiognomy (Zohar, Yitro and Tikkuney Zohar). Thus the soul causes the face to shine with radiant splendor, and this is the mystery of the 370 and 150 Lights of the Face (Idra Rabbah, Zohar, Naso 128b), indicating the government of Arich Anpin and Zeir Anpin respectively. Afterwards, having been included there in a general way, the soul flashes and breaks through to make four apertures: the eyes, the ears, the nose and the mouth.
Understand what these fissures (“breakthroughs”) signify above. It is not that they broke through one time and went out. Here below as well, if the radiant splendor were visible, we would see how the aspect of the soul that is already included in the face to show the state of the soul emits a continuous shine of radiant splendor that breaks through and goes out literally through these apertures. However, now that the radiant splendor has been concealed, its only visible action is to break through to produce these apertures. And because it comes from the soul, which is now concealed, just as the radiant splendor is not visible on the face, so too what emerges through these fissures and apertures is also not visible. Quite the contrary: on the face there is at any rate the visible facial expression, for the soul has a certain garb, namely the face itself. But coming through the apertures we see nothing at all, because the soul goes out with no garb at all.
To be continued.
(Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum is the director of Azamra ( The 138 Openings of Wisdom is available for purchase online at

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