Breaking of the Vessels

From The SpiritWiki

In the Lurian Kabbalah, The Breaking of the Vessels (Shevirat Ha-kelim) is a point of failure in the initial Emanation from Godhead. The Shevirat comes after the initial creative stage known as Constriction. Constriction (a.k.a. Zimzum) created Tehiru (i.e. emptiness or "space") which Divine Light then shines into in order to manifest physical creation. When the Divine Light shines into Tehiru (space), it creates and then pours into Sefirot. The initial outpouring fails and the sefirot "break." After which there needs to be a Correction. The correction aims at Tikkun (in LP terms Alignment and Perfection). When Tikkun is reached, divine Perfection and Unity (a.k.a. perfect Connection) are established. [1]

Related Terms

Kabbalah > Age of Redemption, Ain Soph, Ain Soph Aur, Breaking of the Vessels, Descent to the Chariot, Messiah, Mitzvah, Sefirot, Shekhinah, The Correction, The Withdrawal, Tikkun, Treatise on the Emanations on the Left

Stage One > Breaking of the Vessels, First Birth, Monadic Intensification


The breaking of the vessels represents the ongoing challenge of Alignment

"When the “straight line” of divine light poured into the tehiru, the “empty space,” it began to draw circles and shapes, bringing “vessels” into existence, and then pouring the pure divine essence into them. At this point, a great catastrophe occurred: the vessels could not contain the immense flow of divine light, and the seven lower ones broke, their shards falling down and the inner essence ascending and returning to its source. This is called in Lurianic terminology “the breaking of the vessels” (Shevirat Ha-kelim), expressing the concept that the initial attempt by the Godhead to establish the system of emanated divine powers failed, resulting in a state of destruction and crisis within the divine realm."[2]

  • The "breaking of the vessels" is an ongoing problem.

The Lurianic narrative continues and portrays everything that happened after the shevirah as divine attempts to overcome and correct that initial catastrophe. Divine light poured again and formed the system of the sefirot, and the lower worlds were created. The creation of Adam in the Garden of Eden was again an attempt to overcome dualism: Adam was created as a dual entity, including within him the elements of good and evil. If Adam had obeyed God, good would have triumphed over evil and the cosmic and divine dualism would have been abolished.

However, when Adam transgressed, the opposite happened: the shevirah occurred again, the evil powers were strengthened. God then chose a people, the people of Israel, to carry on the struggle to dispose of evil. They were almost successful when they assembled near Mount Sinai to accept the Torah. Then they transgressed when they worshipped the golden calf, and again a shevirah occurred, and so on, throughout history."[3]

  • In LP terms, the "breaking of the vessels" is a problem of alignment. Here evil may simply be considered the existence and consequence of lack of alignment.


  1. Dan, Joseph. Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  2. Dan, Joseph. Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. (Kindle Locations 1089-1093)
  3. Dan, Joseph. Kabbalah: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. (Kindle Locations 1120-1124)