Let’s take a quick foray now through the four “universes” the Kabbalists speak of. For as we’ll find in the next chapter, each section of our morning prayers ties into one of them. Before we begin, though, we’d need to see what the Kabbalists mean by a universe, since they’re not only referring to the solar system we know of (or to others beyond this one for that matter, since at bottom they’re still only *physical* no matter how stunning and immensely far away they may be); they’re also referring to spiritual realms.
A “universe” is defined as a coordinated array of distinct entities and phenomena that function together in a single framework. Some would depict them as huge cosmic “systems”, “environments”, or the like, but the point is that there are four of them, and while the first one has to do with physical phenomena, most have to do with transcendent ones.
In any event, the physical realm that we experience outright (and that we can perceive through instruments) is only the first universe, and it encompasses all of outer space as well as life on earth. The next higher universe is that of the angels; higher than that is the universe of the Transcendent Forces (see 1:5:1), also known as the universe of The Throne; and the highest of all universes is the one from which G-d reveals and bestows His light. But since this one is so transcendent, it can’t really be termed a universe per se (which implies number, a division of duties, etc., which is all irrelevant to G-d Himself), we’ll refer to it as the G- dly dimension.
It’s also important to know that all of creation follows the following sequence: the physical universe depends on the angels in their realm, the angels depend on the Forces in the universe of The Throne (and its various levels), and the Forces depend on the G-dly dimension which is the root of all creation.