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Let There Be Consciousness

The true definition of the word אור (Ohr) is lost in translation. The words the Infinite Creator used to speak the world into existence, “Let there be light” is a translation of the verse, “ויאמר אלקים יהי אור ויהי אור”. Looking at the translation, one can ask the simple question, “How can light exist without a source of light?” The less simple question, and the one that reveals the answer to the first is – “how can a source of light exist without the concept of light?”

The story of Adam and Eve is one of the most cryptic in the Torah. Commenting on Genesis 3:21, the Zohar states that The Infinite Creator clothed the first human beings not in garments of skin (עור), but in garments of “light” (אור)1. This granted consciousness and allowed them to conceptualize the existence of an Infinite Creator. Only after Adam and Eve sinned by transgressing the word of Hashem was their אור lowered into the physical world, into בגדי עור (garments of skin). Light is used as an example of something intangible which is why אור is the word used here to refer to consciousness. Consciousness is something independent of the physical, and therefore cannot be fully expressed in physical terms. Consciousness allows one to create concepts which can eventually manifest in our physical world. First consciousness must be created; then it can be inserted into a vessel to act in the physical world.

The difference between the words אור and עור is this idea of consciousness. (אור) begins with the symbol Aleph (א), while skin (עור) begins with the symbol Ayin (ע).2 Aleph א is the first symbol of the Aleph Bet, and symbolizes the Creator constricting limitlessness into finitude, displaying His Infinite Oneness in a way a mind can begin to comprehend. The basis of אמונה is an understanding that our finite nature prevents us from fully grasping infinity. The א is a symbol created for us to understand what it means to be Infinite, and is a constriction of something Infinite to a point where we can begin to speak about it.3 Because Infinity lies outside the realm of logic, logic and reason can be used to explore limitlessness once the leap is taken4 to understand that Infinitude is outside of the realm of understanding.

Meanwhile, the symbol ע Ayin (עין) is the Hebrew word for eye. This connotes physicality, as well as being the root for the word לעין meaning to “contemplate.” “Eating” from the עץ הדעת (“Tree of Knowledge”) lowered humanity to the physical realm where logic and “proof” become of paramount importance. These are concepts dependent on vision—that which can be “seen” by the eyes.

The Hebrew word for universe is Olam עולם. The word עולם can mean universe, and it can mean concealment. The universe is Hashem’s concealment, which allows for free will. Without this concealment, everyone would know Hashem exists and there would be no effort needed from human beings to better ourselves and further this existence.

This is the concept of the “bread of shame.” Earning something through hard work is the greatest pleasure a human being can achieve—as opposed to being handed something for free.5 It is human nature to want to earn in order to receive, as there is an embarrassment that comes with receiving something for free. The Infinite One concealed Himself so that we can put the effort into reaching levels that would never have been reachable without the concealment in the first place.6

This is a deep secret (רז). Just as we need to know the א before we can know the ע, knowing our inner selves allows us to be conscious in each moment, and be One with ourselves.7 Feeding the light of our souls by learning and acting in the ways of the Torah leads to immense pleasure in the physical world, as well as an experience of the pleasure of the world to come. Pure logic can never lead One to the Truth of the existence of the Infinite Creator—this was the mistake that caused Adam and Eve to have the first transgression. When we realize our physical/finite limitations, we begin to see that it is an intangible consciousness that makes each and every one of us special. With this method, one can use logic as a tool to begin to truly contemplate what it means to be Infinite.


  1. Both אור and עור are pronounced “Ohr”, signifying that there is a connection between the two words but that there is also a difference. In this case, the difference is in the first symbol of the world.

  2. Ohr אור/עור is one of numerous examples where the only difference in the structure of the two words are the symbols א and ע. In each case, a dichotomy between the physical and the metaphysical can be found, illuminating the depth of the design of Hashem’s word. (אין/עין את/עת אם/עם אל/על אני/עני אושר/עושר)

  3. The words אור (consciousness/light), רז (secret), and אין סוף (no end/without limitation) all have the numerical value of 207. The secret is that there is no end to the “Light” of the Infinite.

  4. mind the gap :)

  5. מאי טעמא אמר רב כהנא אדם רוצה בקב שלו מתשעה קבים של חבירו. One “penny” earned is better than 9 received from someone else. (Bava Metzia 38A)

  6. ירידה לצורך עליה. (Baal Shem Tov, Rambam, among many other sources)

  7. Living in the moment and being One with ourselves is the key to overcoming anxiety. Anxiety is rooted in past traumas and anticipating an unknown future.

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