The Second Radiant Splendor

A second radiant splendor emerges from Adam Kadmon and stands over the first, "inner" radiant splendor of the face, which is thus like a glow within a glow…

5 min

Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

Posted on 22.11.23

Part 56 of “138 Openings of Wisdom” by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato

Opening 32, part 2
Note the great difference between the radiant splendor visible on the face and what passes out through the apertures. What is visible on the face gives a comprehensive expression of all the different aspects of the soul. But emerging through the apertures are individual aspects depending in each case on the place from which they come forth. These aspects prepare what is necessary for providence through the mystery of vision, hearing, smell and speech.
These fissures with the lights that are in them become the “senses”. These are the actual government, inasmuch as the soul uses these emerging lights in order to supervise properly. However, the root of providence is itself traced in accordance with the function of each of the different senses to the very interior of Adam Kadmon, which we are not talking about. What we are talking about now is what breaks through and goes out in order to produce the apertures and also the senses. This forms a second radiant splendor that covers the radiant splendor of the actual face itself. Accordingly, the Kabbalistic masters stated that this second glow is drawn forth against the face but is not directly attached to the face (for only the first radiant splendor, that of the face itself, is directly attached to it). All this would be visible if the radiant splendor were visible.
Thus we find that the inner soul is hidden within the body and is not seen at all. Afterwards, it is seen through the expression of the face, and the radiant splendor starts — this is the first or “inner” radiant splendor. While the soul is still there, it gains force and breaks through and is actually seen through these four fissures. It is from there that a second radiant splendor that emerges comes forth and stands over the first, “inner” radiant splendor of the face, which is thus like a glow within a glow. It is from this second radiant splendor that the senses exist through the power of the movement of the soul within that splendor. But the fact that the radiant splendor exists on the outside at all is because the soul broke through to make the holes.
Clearly, if the soul produced four faculties, all different from each other, no less and no more, this must have come about through the power contained within it, which was able to bring forth this, no less and no more. If so, the action that the soul performs through one fissure is different from the action it performs through a different fissure. Accordingly, hearing is rooted in one fissure, vision in another, smell in another and speech in yet another. The truth is that according to the powers contained in the inner soul, so it was that through one power the soul was drawn to one of the organs suited and ready for that power to function, and the soul broke through it and went out. Through a different inherent power, the soul was drawn to a different organ, and broke through it and went out. Thus the Otzrot Chaim states: “But the wise will understand that the light of the brain is called AV, while the light of the ear is called SaG…” (Gate of TaNTA, end of ch. 2, gloss).
In sum: the soul is made to shine in the face and also to break through and go out completely with no barrier before it in order to operate the senses. Moreover, it is actually through standing and shining in the face that the soul breaks through to form these fissures for the senses. Thus the face consists of vessels ready for two things. The face itself is made to emit its radiation even while this is still within the vessels (before breaking through). On the other hand, the fissures or apertures of the senses are there to give the soul a place to exercise its control and to supervise. Even as the soul stands in its place, it is seen through the fissures that it made initially, and it then produces the second glow. This consists of what was visible in a general way in the first radiant splendor but which is now seen in its particulars through these fissures. What is seen of the soul through each one depends on the nature of the particular fissure through which the soul is seen. All this is besides the actual senses themselves. For even though they are produced in these very fissures, the truth is that they are made within this general radiant splendor, each one through the power of a different movement made by the soul according to the law governing the quality of its different senses.
As to what is visible of the soul on the face, we have already said that this expresses the overall state of the soul, and it is from this aspect that the fissures we have discussed emerge. Accordingly, we may make inferences from the radiant splendor that emerges and becomes visible through these fissures (the second glow) as to what exists in the face itself in the mystery of the first, “inner” radiant splendor that I mentioned. And from this radiant splendor of the face, we may make inferences as to what is contained within the body — the soul itself, its state and purpose.
If you examine the matter carefully you will find that the government is concealed within the heart and in all the body and is revealed in the face, and from there it is revealed through the fissures. The last revelation is thus the radiant splendor emerging through the fissures, and it is with this that we are concerned in our studies of the Kabbalah. For this is the light that reaches us and it is only this that we are truly able to apprehend. All that is more interior than this is too elevated for us and we cannot know it. The details of this radiant splendor constitute all the worlds in their various aspects. For only the parts of this radiant splendor and its movements are revealed to us and no more. All we know is that this whole matter is rooted deep, deep within the interior of the supreme government.
From this you can understand the low level of the knowledge that created beings are capable of attaining, for the true nature of the government is exalted far above them, and they know nothing except the superficial level closest to them. This external level contains the complete cycle of government in its entirety from the beginning until the end and all the worlds that we will be discussing.
Indeed, one principle that you must constantly bear in mind is that everything done in any given place is done in accordance with that place. To take an example from the subject of our present discussion: what is seen of the soul through the face is ordered in a way suited to this visibility, and similarly, what is revealed through the fissures made by the soul is arranged in an order suited to this revelation. This is the order that it is possible for the creatures in the lower realms to apprehend. This means that they see only the outermost aspect of the measure laid down for the government of the worlds. Even so, what they see is the truth of the matter according to the way it is in depth. However, the intellect is inadequate to apprehend the entire matter in its true inner essence and depth and to encompass all that exists there. Accordingly, we say they were given a complete and sufficient picture to enable them to understand the matter to the extent to which they are able to receive.
This can be compared to the case of a sage who wants to teach his wisdom to his student. If the student is unable to receive the full depth of this wisdom, the teacher gives him enough of a picture of this wisdom as he is fit to receive. The picture is faithful to the full depth of the sage’s wisdom, yet it is concise and comprehensible to the student. If he will later enter into the depth of this wisdom, he will find even greater benefit in it than he could have thought possible at the outset, “like the superiority of the light that comes out of the darkness” (Kohelet 2:13).
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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