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Beit Hamidrash

Power of the Imagination

By: Avrumi Gross

This Kabbalistic concept is hard to clarify, since it is extremely complex and includes many details. In the bigger picture, Koach Hamedame is the force which gives the man the capability to prophesize.  Other abilities which are included in this force are poetry, drawing and the like.

For example: if one was to think about a concept, an image in relation to this concept will probably spring to mind. For example, the concept of ‘strength’- an image of a strong man will appear in many minds. This image, although it being a physical image, can represent a spiritual thought. Therefore, only through this power is it possible to relate to God, the Torah and other abstract ideas.

Rav Kook uses this concept in many other places, and relates it to many other meanings, but generally it is associated with Ruach Hakodesh. In our case, it is brought as the antithesis of the intellect’s power, and as the essence of emotion.


The following Piska was written by Rav Charlap (one of the three devoted Talmidim of Rav Kook) in his book Ma'ayanei Hayeshuah, whereby he clarifies the force of Koach Hamedame.


"כח המדמה היא הבחינה המאחדת את הנשמה עם הגוף. וישנם שני מיני מדמה האחד דמיון אמת, והוא מה שבא מן הנשמה אל הגוף, שעל ידי דמיון זה מעבירה הנשמה אל הגוף את מעמקי השכל. וכמו שהנמשל מובן על ידי המשל, כן השכל מובן על ידי המדמה, אולם יש כח מדמה שהוא כולו שוא ותפל, והוא הדימיון שבא מן הגוף אל השכל..."


Koach Hamedame is the link which connects our body and soul. There are two kinds of imaginations: there is the imagination that produces the image from the soul and relates it to the body - this is the higher level of Koach Hamedame. Here the soul furnishes the body with a deep understanding of the world and God’s Will. Since the physical body cannot relate to the higher spiritual concepts, because of their antithetical natures, there is a need to convey the spiritual concepts to man in a physical, real-life example in order for him to grasp them. This force which causes the projection of those spiritual concepts into physical examples is the Medame. On the other hand, there is the imagination which ‘emanates’ from the body and presents its images to the soul - this imagination is contains complete falsehood and is filled with lie. 


"...הצורך במשלים ודמיונות בהשגת אלוקות, הוא בגלל שבני אדם אינם יכולים להשיג האורות העליונים איזו תפיסה שהיא, אך ורק על ידי צמצומים והגבלות, וענין הצמצום הוא המשל והדמיון, ועל ידי זה יכולים לדמות צורה ליוצרה..." (מעיני הישועה עמ' רפד)


Rav Charlap, later in this chapter, offers an explanation why there is a need for this power: Man has no capability of comprehending God. Therefore, God connects with us in a way of parables and allegories (i.e. physical ‘representations’).

Purpose of Similarities Between Man and God 

קלה. יבא מי שיש בו חמשה דברים הללו וישבח למי שיש בו חמשה דברים הללו. (י.) 


Following the Gemara’s list of five characteristics that are common between Hakadush Baruch Hu and the Neshama, the Gemara concludes by saying that one who embodies these qualities should praise one that also contains these qualities (i.e. Hashem).

 This is a perplexing Gemara: what is the significance of the Neshama possessing these five qualities? Furthermore, if the Neshama contains these characteristics, is this a reason to praise God? And if it were not for these features, one need not praise Hashem!?


אמר דוד יבא מי שיש בו חמשה דברים הללו וישבח למי שיש בו חמשה דברים הללו. השבח עקרו הוא שישא פרי, להיות חושק לדבקה בדרכי ד' הישרים, אם כן אם לא היה לנשמה מעין הכוחות האמורים בשבחו של הקב"ה, לא היתה יכולה לקבל התועלת מהשבח, מאחר שלא היה לה אפשרות במה להתדמות לקונה. אבל מאחר שיש בה הכוחות מעין כח שלמעלה, אם כן בשבחה ליוצרה תוסיף אמץ להכיר גדולתו ושלמות הנהגתו, ותוסיף ברכה בהנהגתו גופה, דוגמת הנהגתו ית' את עולמו.

(ישבח - Praise | חושק - Passionate | דבקה - Stick, Glue | תועלת - Benefit | התדמות - To resemble | יוצרה - Her Creator | הנהגתו - Behaviour)


In order for one to relate to another, one requires similar characteristics as his friend. Conversely, if one does not resemble the other party, he will not be able to connect and relate to it. (An example which illustrates this idea is when listening to a conversation about concepts that are unfamiliar, or in a language that is not understood - the listener will not benefit from the information being related, despite the significance of the content). Therefore, since our Neshamot share common characteristics with that of Hashem, we are thus able to relate to Him[1]. Regarding ‘praise’, if we did not resemble Hashem, we would not be able to relate to him and our praise of Him would be useless and benefit nobody. However, since our Neshama shares similar qualities as God and the Neshama is constantly striving to be like Him, by us praising Him, it benefits our Neshamot by improving our behaviour towards Him.

[1] It is important to note that the intention here is not to state that we understand God. On the contrary, we cannot intellectually grasp God’s ways since we are finite human beings. Our Neshama, on the other hand, which is actually a part of God himself, has similar qualities and can partially grasp God.

Therefore, the Kabbalah gave us the tools in order to understand Hashem intellectually, which are better known as the ‘Sefirot’. The Sefirot are human qualities that are used to symbolize the ways that God appears in our world. Through these tools we can learn from God’s ways, and try to emulate them, but in a filtered, humanized fashion.