The first person ever created was a solitary male-female being. [1] G-d initially avoided creating Adam and Eve as separate beings to send us an important message: each and every one of us has individual responsibility for the entire universe as if I were the only human in the world. [2] 

If G-d gave us this responsibility, He must have given us the capacity to implement this as well, and hence the Torah tells us that when G-d created man: “And G-d blew into man the soul of life and man became a living spirit.” [3] The verse does not say that the soul became a living spirit in man. [4] Rather, it says that man himself became the living spirit. Through the soul of life that was in him, man became a living soul sustaining the world. [5] Man became the central point that would draw all the other threads of reality together.

The universe of spirituality extends far beyond what the eye can see. All that we can sense is but a small part of this. The spiritual universe is composed of four worlds, each layered one atop the other, topped by huge expanses of spirituality. [6]


In the Kabbalistic literature, the world we inhabit is called the World of Action. In ascending order, it is followed by the World of Formation, the World of Creation, and the World of Emanation. [7] These worlds are parallels of each other. [8] Each one replicates the other at a higher spiritual level and level of completeness. [9] Each world above the other reflects an increasing amount of G-d’s light.


[1] Genesis 2:21–22.

[2] Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 37a; Rashi, ibid.

[3] Genesis 2:7.  

[4] That would have read va’yehi ba’adam — ויהי באדם . Instead, it is written va’yehi ha’adam

. ויהי האדם

[5] Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, Nefesh Hachaim 1:4.

[6] This level of spirituality is called adam ha’kadmon. Nefesh Hachaim, ibid., chap. 14, states that

we cannot conceive of anything above the World of Emanation.

[7] Pardes Rimonim 16:1. In Hebrew, these four worlds are called Olam Hamaaseh ( עולם

המעשה ), Olam Hayetzirah)  היצירה עולם), Olam Habriah הבריאה) עולם), and Olam Haatzilut

עולם האצילות)).

[8] The names of these worlds are based on the verse in Isaiah (43:7): “Everything that is called

by name and for my honor, I have created, formed, and even made,” where “honor” refers to

the highest world, and “made” refers to the lowest world.

[9] Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, Nefesh Hachaim 1:6.

Continue reading A Kabbalistic View of the World.

Read the previous essay, Man — The Forever Incomplete Being.

Purchase a copy of The Human Challenge.

Olami Resources is happy to present a series of free installments featuring Rabbi Avraham Edelstein’s important new book, The Human Challenge. This week’s essay is from Section One – A Purposeful Life.

Rabbi Avraham Edelstein serves as the Education Director of Neve Yerushalayim College for Women and a senior advisor to Olami. Many of Rabbi Edelstein’s foundational publications addressing the world of Kiruv appear on

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