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Adam Kadmon

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Adam Kadmon is a phrase in the religious writings of Kabbalah meaning “original man”. In Kabbalah, Adam Kadmon (“primordial man”) and Adam HaRishon (the Biblical “first man,” Adam) are separate, though inter-related, concepts.

The oldest mainstream rabbinic source for the term Adam ha-Ḳadmoni is Numbers Rabbah x., where Biblical Adam is styled, not as usually Ha-Rishon (“the first”), but “Ha-Kadmoni” (“the original”).

In Kabbalah, Adam Kadmon (“above”) is the first of the comprehensive Five spiritual Worlds in creation, distinguished from Biblical Adam Ha-Rishon (“below”), who included within himself all future human souls before the sin of the Tree of Knowledge. The spiritual realm of Adam Kadmon represents the sephirah (divine attribute) of Keter (“crown”), the specific divine will and plan for subsequent creation.

In the Lurianic systemisation of preceding Kabbalah, the anthropomorphic designation for Adam Kadmon describes its arrangement of the latent future sephirot in the harmonised configuration of man. However, Adam Kadmon itself is divine light without vessels, including all subsequent creation only in potential.

This exalted anthropomorphism denotes that man is both the theocentric purpose of future creation, and the anthropocentric embodiment of the divine manifestations on high. This mythopoetic cosmogenesis and anthropogenesis enables the “Adam soul” to embody all human souls; the collective Yechidah (“singular”) soul essence in Adam Kadmon, and the collective Neshamah (“soul”) revealed soul in the Biblical Adam Ha-Rishon in the Garden of Eden.

Adam Kadmon (abbreviated as A”K) is a pristine spiritual realm in creation, the first of the comprehensive Five Worlds. It represents Keter (“crown”), the specific divine will for subsequent creation. From Adam Kadmon emerge the following Four Worlds of Atziluth (“emanation” – Chokhmah divine wisdom), Beriah (“creation” – Binah divine understanding), Yetzirah (“formation” – Tiferet divine emotions) and Assiah (“action”-Malkuth divine kingdom).

Due to the transcendence of Adam Kadmon, it is sometimes listed apart from the Four Worlds, each represented by a letter of the Tetragrammaton name of God; Adam Kadmon is represented only by the thorn of the first letter Yodh.

The anthropomorphic name of Adam Kadmon denotes that man below is both the ultimate divine purpose for creation, as well as an embodiment of the Sephirot divine attributes. Adam HaRishon before the sin of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis was the supreme essence of contemporary man, his soul including all subsequent souls within it.

Adam Kadmon is paradoxically both created (“Adam”) and divine (“Kadmon-Primary”), a feature it shares with physical Adam as interpreted in mainstream rabbinic Midrashim. Adam Kadmon is a realm of infinite divine light without vessels, bounded by its future potential to create Existence.

The two versions of Kabbalistic theosophy, the “medieval/classic/Zoharic” (systemised by Moshe Cordovero) and the more comprehensive Lurianic, describe the process of descending worlds differently. For Cordovero, the sephirot and Five Worlds evolve sequentially from the Ein Sof (divine infinity).

For Luria, creation is a dynamic process of divine exile-rectification enclothement, where Adam Kadmon is preceded by the Tzimtzum (Divine “withdrawal”) and followed by the Shevira (“shattering” of the sephirot).


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Adam Kadmon

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Adam (Bible)

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Original Sin

Adam-God theory

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Macrocosm and microcosm

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