The Nut Garden

Gleanings of Zohar

There is No Flux of Destiny to Israel

csm_beit_alpha_israel_synagogue_zodiac_557286d76d“And why was Torah given [in Sivan] and not in the rest of the moons [i.e., months]? What is this matter like? A king who was arranging the festivities for his daughter’s wedding. And a man, one of the royal dignitaries, said: ‘It would be seemly for the princess, after she is seated in the palanquin, to have her ride on an elephant and so raise her among all the nobles of the kingdom.’ Another answered and said: ‘An elephant stands high, but is without splendor as well as beauty [alt., stands high, and so the princess will not appear impressive]. And since the princess is lovely, it would be more seemly to have her mount a horse and thus show her loveliness among all the nobles of the kingdom.’ Then a man spoke up and said: ‘An elephant stands high, and a horse is comely; but neither has a mouth to speak with, hands to clap together, nor feet to dance with. Hence it is fitting for me to extol the princess, for I have a mouth to speak with, hands to clap together, and feet to dance with; and so I would have her mount on my shoulders to display her loveliness.’ Even so the blessed Holy One, did not give the Torah in Nisan nor in Iyyar, because the מַּזַּל (mazal), constellation, of Nisan is a Lamb, and the the constellation of Iyyar is an Ox, and it is not fitting for them to extol and praise [the Torah]. Hence the blessed Holy One gave the Torah in Sivan, because the constellation of Sivan is תְּאוֹמִים (Te’omim), Twins [Gemini], and the Twins are human, and being human have mouths to speak with, and hands to clap together, and feet to dance with.

… Why did the blessed Holy One create His world in Nisan and not create it in Iyyar [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 10b–11a; Rabbenu Tam, Tosafot Rosh ha-Shanah 27a]? Because at the time that the blessed Holy One wished to create His world He said to the prince of darkness: ‘Leave My presence, for I desire the world’s creation to begin with light,’ the prince of darkness being as black as a bull. At once the prince of darkness replied to the blessed Holy One: ‘Why do You wish to put something ahead of me in the creation? [i.e., a white lamb (Aries; Nisan) before a black bull (Taurus; Iyyar)]. The blessed Holy One said to the prince of darkness: ‘Leave My presence. If you will not leave My presence, I will rebuke you—I desire to begin creating the world with light.’ ‘And after the darkness, what will You create?’ ‘תְּאוֹמִים (Te’omim), Twins.’ ‘And why will you create Twins?’ ‘Because the human will be able to see both in daylight and in darkness—מַּזַּל תְּאוֹמִים (mazal Te’omim), constellation of Twins [Gemini; Sivan].’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘The סַרְטָן (Sartan), Crab [Cancer; Tammuz]: Because like a crab man scrabbles together his possessions out of holes and cracks.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘אַרְיֵה (Aryeh), Lion [Leo; Av].’ ‘Since after man in crab-fashion scrabbles together his possessions out of holes and cracks, he then thinks he is as strong as a lion.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘בְּתוּלָה (Betulah), Virgin [Virgo; Elul]. For man is meant to rejoice in a virgin [alt., to grow as plump as a virgin].’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘מֹאזְנַיִם (Moznayim), Scales [Libra; Tishrei], for man’s deeds will be weighed in the balance.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘עַקְרָב (Aqrav), Scorpion [Scorpio; Marḥeshvan]. When a man is weighed and crimes discovered in him, he is made to go down to Hell.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘קַשָּׁת (Qashat), Bow [Sagittarius; Kislev]. Perhaps you will say that once a man is plunged into Hell, there will be no coming up for him. When mercy is besought in his behalf, however, he is shot up from Hell as an arrow from the bow.’ ‘And after that what will You create? ‘גְּדִי (Gedi), Kid [Capricorn; Tevet]. You might think that when man comes up out of Hell, his countenance will be gloomy. The truth is that as he comes up, he will romp like a kid.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘דְּלִי (Deli), Pitcher, [Aquarius; Shevat], the pitcher from which I splash pure water on man to purify him of his sins.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘דָּגִים (Dagim), Fish [Pisces; Adar]. Because Israel are exempt from, the forces that rule the world, and the [evil] eye or מַּזַּל גּוֹרֵם (mazal gorem), planetary influence, can no more prevail over them [than it can over fish under water, cf. BT Berakhot 20a; Bereshit Rabbah 97:2]: only the [planet of the] hour [at birth] influences [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi-Eli’ezer, 6].’

And why did the blessed Holy One in the beginning create the sun as the only source of light?’ Because the world, all of it, was intended to be lighted by one luminary, the same by night as by day. And after the creation of the sun, [the prince of darkness asked], ‘what will You create?’ ‘כּוֹכָב (Kokhav), Mercury, and נוֹגַה (Nogah), Venus [two-in-one, i.e., a hermaphroditic planet].’ But because the blessed Holy One foresaw the generation of the flood take to whoring, He—just as soon as He foresaw that—made Mercury and Venus dwell apart from each other. Nevertheless, the generation of the flood rose up and confounded one sex with the other.

Mercury is אִישׁ (ish), man, and Venus אִשּׁה (ishah), woman [cf. BT Sotah 17a]. Now why create Mercury at all? Because Mercury—the male principal—represents our father Abraham who in wisdom gives guidance to all the world, every part of it.’

‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘The לְבָנָה (Levanah), Moon—for the children of Israel, every one of them, are destined to reflect the light of Abraham as the moon reflects the light of the sun.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘שַׁבְתַאִי (Shabbtai), Saturn—for the peoples of the world will rule over Israel.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘צֶדֶק (Tsedeq), Jupiter—for the blessed Holy One לְהַצְדִּיק (le-ha-tsadiq), will deal justly, with them. And you may mistakenly think that the peoples will be saved from the judgment. But the blessed Holy One created מַאְדִים (Ma’adim), Mars, [אָדוֹם (adom), red]—Hell into which they will fall” (Pesiqta Rabbati 20:1-2).

“[Length of] life, sons, and sustenance depend not on merit but on מַזָּל (mazal), flux of destiny” (BT Mo’ed Qatan 28a).

“It was recorded in Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi’s notebook: He who [is born] on the first day of the week [Sunday] shall be a man without one in him—what does ‘without one in him’ mean? Shall we say, without one good quality? Surely Rabbi Ashi said: I was born on the first day of the week! So it must be, ‘Without one bad quality.’ But didn’t Rabbi Ashi said: I and Dimi son of Qaquzeta were born on the first day of the week: I am king [head of the academy] and he is a captain of thieves!—rather it means either all good or all bad. What is the reason? Because light and darkness were created on that day. He who is born on the second day of the week will be contentious—what is the reason? Because the waters were divided thereon. He who is born on the third day of the week will be wealthy and promiscuous. What is the reason? Because herbs were created that day. He who is born on the fourth day of the week will be wise and radiant [cf. Ecclesiastes 8:1: a man’s wisdom lights up his face]. What is the reason? Because the luminaries were hung [on that day]—he who is born on the fifth day of the week will render kindnesses. What is the reason? Because the fishes and birds were created that day. He who is born on the eve of the Sabbath will be a חַזְרָן (ḥazran), seeker. Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq commented: חַזְרָן (ḥazran), assiduous, in mitsvot. He who is born on the Sabbath will die on the Sabbath, because the great day of the Sabbath was desecrated on his account. Rava son of Rav Shila observed: But he shall be called great and holy.

Rabbi Ḥanina said to [his disciples]: Go and tell the son of Levi, it is not the מַזָּל (mazal), constellation, of the day that is the influence but the constellation of the hour that is the influence [cf. BT Shabbat 129b: ‘the planet Mars rules at even-numbered hours of the day’; Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 5]. He who is born under the sun will be a man outstanding [lit., of radiant appearance]: he will eat and drink of his own but his secrets will be revealed; if a thief, he will not succeed. He who is born under Venus will be a wealthy and promiscuous man. What is the reason? Because fire burns in it. He who is born under Mercury will be radiant and wise. What is the reason? Because it is the sun’s scribe. He who is born under the Moon will be a man to suffer evil, he will build and raze, raze and build, eating and drinking what is not his but his secrets will remain concealed: if a thief, he will be successful. He who is born under Saturn will be a man whose plans will be frustrated [since שַׁבְתַאִי (Shabbtai), Saturn, alludes to שׁבָּת (shabbat), cessation]. Others say: All designs against him will be frustrated. He who is born under צֶדֶק (Tsedeq), Jupiter, will be a man צַדְקָן (tsadqan), who does justly. Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq observed: who does righteousness in mitsvot. He who is born under Mars will be a man who spills blood. Rabbi Ashi said: Either a surgeon, a thief, a [ritual] slaughterer, or a circumciser. Rabbah said: I was born under Mars [yet am none of these]. Abayye said: The master has also punished and killed [see BT Megillah 7b: ‘Rabbah and Rabbi Zera joined together in a Purim feast. They became drunk, and Rabbah arose and cut Rabbi Zera’s throat. On the next day he prayed on his behalf and revived him. Next year he said, Will your honor come and we will have the Purim feast together? He replied: A miracle does not take place on every occasion’].

It was stated. Rabbi Ḥanina says: The מַזָּל (mazal), constellation, gives wisdom, the constellation gives wealth, and there is a מַזָּל (mazal), flux of destiny, to Israel. Rabbi Yoḥanan says: There is no flux of destiny to Israel. Now, Rabbi Yoḥanan is consistent with his view, for Rabbi Yoḥanan said: How do we know that there is no flux of destiny to Israel? Because it is said, Thus says YHWH, Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the nations are dismayed at them (Jeremiah 10:2). They are dismayed but not Israel. Rav too holds that there is no flux of destiny to Israel. For Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: How do we know that there is no flux of destiny to Israel? Because it is said, וַיּוֹצֵא (Va-yotse)And He took [him] outside (Genesis 15:5). Abraham said before the blessed Holy One ‘Master of the Universe! [Look, to me you have given no seed, and] a member of my household is to be my heir (ibid. 3).’ He said to him: ‘Not so, [This one will not be your heir,] but he who issues from your loins will be your heir’ (ibid. 4). He said before Him, ‘I have gazed at my horoscope, and I am not fated to engender a son.’ ‘צֶא (Tse), Leave, your astrological speculations! For there is no מַזָּל (mazal), constellation, to Israel. What do you suppose? Since צֶדֶק (Tsedeq), Jupiter, stands in the West I will turn it back and place it in the East’ [cf. Job 37:12; Zohar 1:110a; Bereshit Rabbah 44:10]. As it is written, Who raised up צֶדֶק (Tsedeq), Jupiter, from the east, He has summoned it for his sake (Isaiah 41:2). From Samuel too [we learn] that there is no מַזָּל (mazal), constellation, to Israel. For Samuel and Avlet were sitting, while certain people were going to a lake [to cut reeds]. Avlet said to Samuel: ‘That man is going but will not return, [for] a snake will bite him and he will die.’ Samuel said, ‘If he is an son of Israel he will go and return.’ While they were sitting he went and returned. [Thereupon] Avlet arose and threw off [the man’s] knapsack [of reeds], [and] found a snake in it cut up and lying in two pieces—Samuel said to him, ‘What did you do?’ ‘Every day we pooled our bread and ate it; but today one of us had no bread, and he was ashamed. I said to them, I will go and collect [the bread]. When I came to him, I pretended to take from him, so that he should not be ashamed.’ ‘You have done a מִצְוָה (mitsvah), commandment’ he said to him [cf. JT Orlah 1:5, 61b: ‘One who eats from his friend’s food is ashamed to look at him’]. Then Samuel went out and expounded: but righteousness saves from death (Proverbs 10:2); and [this does not mean] from an unnatural death, but from death itself.

From Rabbi Akiva too [we learn that] there is no מַזָּל (mazal), flux of destiny, to Israel. For Rabbi Akiva had a daughter. Now, Chaldeans told him, On the day she enters her bridal chamber a snake will bite her and she will die. He was very worried about this. On that day [of her marriage] she took a brooch [and] stuck it into the wall and it penetrated the eye of a snake. The following morning, when she took it out, the snake came trailing after it. ‘What did you do?’ her father asked her. She said to him ‘A poor man came to our door in the evening and everybody was busy at the banquet, and there was none to attend to him. So I took the portion which was given to me and gave it to him.’ ‘You have done a מִצְוָה (mitsvah), commandment’ he said to her. Then Rabbi Akiva went out and expounded: but righteousness saves from death: and not [merely] from an unnatural death, but from death itself. From Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq too [we learn that] there is no מַזָּל (mazal), flux of destiny, to Israel. The mother of Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq was told by Chaldeans, ‘Your son will be a thief.’ [Thus] she did not let him [go] bareheaded, saying to him, ‘Cover your head so that the fear of heaven may be upon you, and pray’—now, he did not know why she spoke that to him. One day he was sitting and studying under a palm tree, the evil impulse overcame him, he climbed up and bit off a cluster with his teeth” (BT Shabbat 156a-b).

“Just as there are twelve constellations from the side of good so there are twelve constellations from the side of evil. This is what is meant by, [These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names in their habitations and their encampments,] twelve chieftains according to their tribes (Genesis 25:16), since, [On the day of good luck, enjoy the good, and on the day of evil, see:] one against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14)” (Zohar 3:283a, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetze).


סֵפֶר יְצִירָה (Sefer Yetsirah) The Book of Formation (MSS K)

et-si-nous-parlions-de-la-typographie-hebraique.jpgBy means of thirty-two wondrous paths of wisdom Yah YHWH of Hosts, God of Israel, the Living God, Almighty, high and exalted, dwelling for ever, and Holy is His Name (Isaiah 57:15), carved out. He created His world with three סֶפָרִים (sefarim), ciphers: with ספר ,ספר and ספר.

The ten סְפִירוֹת (sefirot) are the basis and the twenty-two letters are the foundation: three mother letters, seven double [letters], and twelve simple [letters].

The ten sefirot are the basis—like the number of the ten fingers, five opposite five and the covenant of the singular One is exactly in the middle in the covenant of the tongue and the circumcision of the flesh.

The ten sefirot are the basis—ten and not nine, ten and not eleven. Understand with wisdom, and be wise with understanding. Test them and investigate them, and get the thing clearly worked out and restore the Creator to His place.

The ten sefirot are the basis: restrain your mouth from speaking, restrain your heart from thinking. And if your heart races return to the מַקוֹם (Maqom), Place, thus it is written: running and returning (Ezekiel 1:14). And concerning this matter the Covenant was made.

The ten sefirot are the basis. Their end is fixed in their beginning as the flame is bound to the burning coal. For the Lord is singular, and He has none second to Him; and before one, what can you count?

The ten sefirot are the basis; their measure is ten for they have no limit: dimension of beginning and dimension of end, dimension of good and dimension of evil, dimension of above and dimension of below, dimension of east and dimension of west, dimension of north and dimension of south. And the singular Lord, a trustworthy divine king, rules over them all from His holy abode for ever and ever.

The ten sefirot are the basis. Their appearance is like, the sight of lightning, and their end?—they have no limit. And His word is in them as though running and returning (Ezekiel 1:14), and they pursue His command like the storm wind, and before His throne they bow down.

The twenty-two letters are the foundation: three mother letters, seven double [letters], and twelve simple [letters].

Ten sefirot, that is to say: One—the Breath of the Living God. Twice blessed is the name of the Vitality of the Worlds. Voice, and breath, and word—this is the Holy Breath.

The ten sefirot are the basis: One—the רוּחַ (Ruaḥ), Breath, of the Living God; two—אֲוִיר (awir), air, from the Holy Breath; three—מַיִם (mayim), water, from air; four—אֵשׁ (esh), fire, from water; and above and below, east and west, north and south.

Two—air from Breath: He carved and hewed in it the twenty-two basic letters—three mother letters, and seven doubles, and twelve simple [letters]. And the Breath is one of them.

Three—water from air: He carved and hewed in it תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ (thohu wah-vohu), welter and waste (Genesis 1:1), רֶפֶשׁ וָטִיט (rhefesh wah-tit), mud and mire (Isaiah 57:20). He carved them like a sort of garden-bed. He erected them like a sort of wall, and he wove them like a sort of roof [or: ceiling].

Four—fire from water: He carved them and hewed in it the throne of glory, and the ofanim and the serafim, and the holy living beings, and the ministering angels. And from the three of them He founded His abode, as it is said: He makes His messengers the winds, His ministers, glowing fire (Psalms 104:4).

Five—He sealed above. He chose three simple letters and fixed them in His great Name. And He sealed with them the six edges [of the world], and He turned upwards and scaled it. Seven—He sealed the east, and He turned downwards [in front] and sealed it. Eight—He sealed the west, and He turned behind and sealed it. Nine—He sealed the south, and He turned to his right and sealed it. Ten—He sealed the north, and He turned to His left and sealed it.

These ten sefirot are the basis: the Breath of the Living God; and air, water, fire; above, below, east, west, north and south.

The twenty-two letters: they are hewn out in the air, carved out by voice, fixed in the mouth in five positions: אחהע בומפ גיכק דטלנת זסשרצ (tsadi resh shin samekh zayin, tav nun lamed tet dalet, qof kaf yod jimel, peh mem vav bet, ayin he ḥet alef) [קְדוּשָׁה (Qedushah), Holiness].

The twenty-two letters are their foundation. It is fixed on a wheel with 231 gates. The wheel rotates backwards and forwards. And this is the sign: if for good, above—עֹנֶג (oneg), delight; if for evil, below—נֶגַע (nega), affliction.

Twenty-two letters: He carved them out, He hewed them, He weighed them, He exchanged them, He combined them and formed with them the נֶפֶשׁ (Nefesh), Soul, of all creation and the נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), life-breath [or: vital spirit], of all that would be formed. How did He weigh and exchange them? א (Alef) with them all, and all of them with א (alef); ב (bet) with them all, and all of them with ב (bet). And they all rotate in turn. The result is that [they go out] by two hundred and thirty-one [gates]; the result is that all creation and all speech go out by one name.

He formed substance from תֹהוּ (thohu), choas, and He made them its existence, and He hewed out great columns from אֲוִיר (awir), intangible air. This is the sign:

אל בת גש דר הק וצ זפ חע טס ינ כמ אב גת דש הר וק זצ חפ טע יס כנ למ אג דת הש ור זק חצ טפ יע כס לנ במ אד בג הת וש זר חק טצ יפ כע לס מנ אה בד ות זש חר טק יצ כפ לע מס גנ או בה גד זת חש טר יק כצ לפ מע נס אז בו גה חת טש יר כק לצ מפ נע דס אח בז גו דה טת יש כר לק מצ נפ סע אט בח גז דו ית כש לר מק נצ ספ הע אי בט גח דז הו כת לש מר נק סצ עפ אכ בי גט דח הז לת מש נר סק עצ ופ אל בכ גי דט הח וז מת נש סר עק פצ אמ בל גכ די הט וח נת סש ער פק זצ אנ במ גל דכ הי וט זח סת עש פר צק אס בנ גמ דל הכ וי זט עת פש צר חק אע בס גנ דמ הל וכ זי חט פת צש קר אפ בע גס דנ המ ול זכ חי צת קש טר אצ בפ גע דס הנ ומ זל חכ טי קת רש אק בצ גפ דע הס ונ זמ חל טכ רת יש אר בק גצ דפ הע וס זנ חמ טל יכ שת אש בר גק דצ הפ וע זס חנ טמ יל כת את בש גר דק הצ ופ זע חס טנ ימ כל

He looks and exchanges; He makes all creation and all speech one name. And a sign for the matter: twenty-two objects and one body.

Three mother letters: א מ ש (alef, mem, shin). Their basis is the scale of acquittal and the scale of guilt, and the tongue of law holds the balance between them.

Three mother letters: א מ ש (alef, mem, shin)—a great mystery, hidden and ineffable, and sealed with six seals. And from it goes out fire, and water and air, and it is divided into male and female.

Three—fire, water and air; fire above, water below, and air is between them. And this is a sign for the matter that fire evaporates water.

Three mother letters: א מ ש (alef, mem, shin). מ (Mem) lifts up, and ש (shin) hisses, and א (alef) is the balancing item.

Three mother letters: א מ ש (alef, mem, shin). And from them were born three fathers from whom everything was created.

Three mother letters: א מ ש (alef, mem, shin)—in the world: air, and water and fire. Heavens were created first from fire, and earth was created from water, and light [air] was created from the רוּחַ (ruaḥ), breath, holding the balance between them.

Three mother letters א מ ש (alef, mem, shin)—in the year: fire, and water and air. Heat was created from fire, and cold was created from water, and humidity from air holding the balance between them.

Three mother letters א מ ש (alef, mem, shin)—in a נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), person. The head was created from fire, the belly from water, and the chest from air holding the balance between them.

Three mother letters א מ ש (alef, mem, shin). He carved them, hewed them, combined them and formed with them the three mother letters in the world, and the three mother letters in the year, and the three mother letters in a person—male and female.

He made א (alef) rule over רוּחַ (ruaḥ), breath, and bound to it a crown, and combined them with each other, and sealed with them אֲוִיר (awir), atmosphere, in the world, humidity in the year, and the chest in a person—male with א מ ש (alef, mem, shin) and female with ש מ א (shin, mem, alef).

He made מ (mem) rule over מַיִם (mayim), water, and bound to it a crown, and sealed with it earth in the world, cold in the year, and the fruit of the belly in a person; male with מ ש א (mem, shin, alef), and female with מ א ש (mem, alef, shin).

He made ש (shin) rule over אֵשׁ (esh), fire, and bound to it a crown, and combined them with each other, and sealed with it heavens in the world, heat in the year, and the head in a person, male with ש מ א (shin, mem, alef), and female with מ א ש (mem, alef, shin).

How did he combine them? אמש אשמ מאש משא שמא שאמ (Alef mem shin, alef shin mem, mem alef shin, mem shin alef, shin mem alef, shin alef mem)—heavens/fire, air/breath, earth/water. Man’s head is fire, his belly water, his heart breath/air.

Three mother letters: א מ ש (alef, mem, shin). There was formed with א (alef): breath, air, humidity, chest, law, and tongue. There was formed with מ (mem): earth, cold, belly, and the scale of acquittal. There was formed with ש (shin): heavens, heat, head, and the scale of guilt. This is א מ ש (alef, mem, shin). The end.

Seven double letters: ב ג ד כ פ ר ת (bet, jimel, dalet, kaf, peh, resh, tav). They are pronounced with the tongue in two different positions. Their basis is life and peace, wisdom, wealth, prosperity, beauty and mastery. They are pronounced with the tongue in two different positions: ב (bet, vet), ג (jimel, ghimel), ד (dalet, dthalet), כ (kaf, khaf), פ (peh, feh), ר (resh, rhesh), ת (taw, thaw)—דָּגֵּשׁ (dagesh), and רָפֵה (rafeh), soft and hard, a paradigm of strong and weak. They are double letters because they are opposites. The opposite of life is death; the opposite of peace is evil; the opposite of wisdom is folly; the opposite of wealth is poverty; the opposite of prosperity is desolation; the opposite of beauty is ugliness; and the opposite of mastery is slavery.

Seven double letters: ב ג ד כ פ ר ת (bet, jimel, dalet, kaf, peh, resh, tav). Seven edges: a place of edges and a holy place; one—a place set within a place; two—the upper edge, three—the lower edge, four—the eastern edge, five—the western edge, six—the northern edge, seven, the eternal edge, and the holy Temple set in the middle and it supports them all.

Seven double letters: ב ג ד כ פ ר ת (bet, jimel, dalet, kaf, peh, resh, tav). He carved and hewed them, He combined them, and formed with them the planets in the world, the days in the year, and the gates in a person by sevens.

How did he combine them? Two stones build two houses; three build six; four build twenty-four; five build one hundred and twenty; six build seven hundred and twenty; seven build five thousand and forty [i.e., factorials]. From here on go out and ponder what the mouth cannot speak, and what the ear cannot hear.

And with them were carved out seven firmaments, seven earths, seven hours and seven times. Therefore He loved the seventh under the heavens.

These are the seven planets in the world: חַמָה (Ḥamah), Sun, נוֹגַה (Noghah), Venus, כּוֹכָב (Kokhav), Mercury, לְבָנָה (Levanah), Moon, שַׁבְתַאִי (Shabbthai), Saturn, צֶדֶק (Tsedtheq), Jupiter, מַאְדִים (Ma’adthim), Mars. And the days in the year: the seven days of creation. And the seven gates in a person: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and the mouth [cf. Deuteronomy 16:18: Judges and overseers you shall set for yourself within all your gates].

Twelve simple letters: ה ו ז ח ט י ל נ ס ע צ ק (he, vav, zayin, ḥet, tet, yod, lamed, nun, samekh, ayin, tsadi, qof). Their basis is sight, hearing, smelling, speaking, eating, sexual intercourse, action, walking, anger, laughter, contemplation, sleep.

Their measure is twelve diagonal lines [or: edges]: the north-eastern line, the south-eastern line, the upper eastern line, the lower eastern line, the lower northern line, the north-western line, the upper northern line, the lower western line, the south-western line, the upper western line, the lower southern line, the upper southern line. And they expand continually for ever and ever—arms עוֹלָם (olam), everlasting [alt., arms of the world] (Deuteronomy 33:27).

He made them a sort of lawsuit, He arranged them in battle array, One opposite the other God made them (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

Three—each one stands by itself; seven are at loggerheads—three against three, and one is the law which holds the balance between them. Twelve stand in battle array: three love but three hate; three give life but three kill. And the divine, trustworthy King rules over them all—one on top of three, and three on top of seven, and seven on top of twelve. And they all cling to each other.

Twelve simple letters: ה ו ז ח ט י ל נ ס ע צ ק (he, vav, zayin, ḥet, tet, yod, lamed, nun, samekh, ayin, tsadi, qof). He carved them and hewed them out, He weighed them and exchanged them, and formed with them the twelve constellations in the world, twelve months in the year, and the twelve principal organs in a person. These are the twelve constellations in the world: in the world: טָלֶה (Taleh), Lamb [Aries], שׁוֹר (Shor), Bull [Taurus], תְּאוֹמִים (Te’omim), Twins [Gemini], סַרְטָן (Sartan), Crab [Cancer], אַרְיֵה (Aryeh), Lion [Leo], בְּתוּלָה (Bethulah), Virgin [Virgo], מֹאזְנַיִם (Moznayim), Scales [Libra], עַקְרָב (Aqrav), Scorpion [Scorpio], קַשָּׁת (Qashath), Bow [Sagittarius], גְּדִי (Gedthi), Kid [Capricorn], דְּלִי (Deli), Pitcher [Aquarius], דָּגִים (Daghim), Fish [Pisces]. And these are the twelve months: נִיסָן (Nisan), אִייָר (lyyar), סִיוָן (Siwan), תַמוּז (Thammuz), אָב (Av), אֱלוּל (Elul), תִּשְׁרֵי (Tishrei), מַרְחֶשְׁוָן (Marḥeshwan), כִּסְלֵו (Kislew), טֵבֵת (Teveth), שֵׁבֶט (Shevet), אֲדָר (Adthar). And these are the twelve principal organs in a person: the right hand, the left hand, the right foot, the left foot, two kidneys, the liver, the gall, the spleen, the gullet, the stomach, and the intestines. 

Three mother letters, and seven double letters, and twelve simple letters.

These are the twenty-two letters [on which] Yah YHWH of Hosts, God of Israel, the Living God, Almighty, high and exalted, dwelling for ever, and Holy is His Name [founded the world] (Isaiah 57:15).

Three fathers and their generations, and seven dominant ones and their hosts, and the twelve diagonal lines [or: edges]. And a proof for the matter—trustworthy witnesses: the world, the year and a  person.

There is a law of ten, three, seven and twelve. They are officials over the תְלִי (Theli) [alt., תָּלִי (Tali)], Quiver, the Wheel,  and the Heart. The Quiver in the world is like a king [reclining] on his throne; the Wheel in the year is like a king [touring] in a province; the Heart in a person is like a king at war.

When Abraham our father observed, and looked, and saw, and investigated, and understood, and carved, and hewed, and combined, and formed, and succeeded, the Lord of all was revealed to him. And He made him sit in his lap, and kissed him upon his head. He called him His friend and named him His son, and made a covenant with him and his seed for ever. And he trusted in YHWH, and He reckoned it to his merit (Genesis 15:6). He made with him a covenant between the ten toes of his feet—it is the covenant of circumcision. He made with him a covenant between the ten fingers of his hands—it is the covenant of the tongue. He bound twenty [-two] letters into his tongue, and the Omnipresent revealed to him His secret. He drew them out in water, he burned them with fire, he shook them in the air, he branded them into the seven, he led them into the twelve constellations.

(1) Air and temperate state and chest; earth, cold and the belly; heavens and heat and the head. This is א מ ש (alef, mem, shin).

(2) Saturn, Sabbath and the mouth; Jupiter, the first day of the week and the right eye; Mars, the second day of the week and the left eye; the Sun, the third day of the week and the right nostril; Venus, the fourth day of the week and the left nostril; Mercury, the fifth day of the week and the right ear; the Moon, the sixth day of the week and the left ear. This is ב ג ד כ פ ר ת (bet, jimel, dalet, kaf, peh, resh, tav).

(3) Aries, Nisan, the liver; Taurus, Iyyar, the gall; Gemini, Siwan, the spleen; Cancer, Thammuz, the gullet; Leo, Av, the right kidney; Virgo, Elul, the left kidney; Libra, Tishrei, the intestines; Scorpio, Marḥeshwan, the stomach; Sagittarius, Kislew, the right hand; Capricorn, Teveth, the left hand; Aquarius, Shevet, the right foot; Pisces, Adthar, the left foot. This is ה ו ז ח ט י ל נ ס ע צ ק (he, vav, zayin, ḥet, tet, yod, lamed, nun, samekh, ayin, tsadi, qof).

1 Three are hostile and these are they: the tongue, the liver and the gal.

2 Three love: the heart, the ears and the eyes.

3 Three give life: the two nostrils and the liver of the left side.

4 Three kill: the two lower orifices and the mouth.

5 There are three which are in man’s control: the feet, the hands and the mouth.

6 There are three which are not in man’s control: his two eyes, his ears and his nostrils.

7 Three evil things are heard by the ear: cursing, blasphemy and an evil report.

8 Three good things are heard by the ear: blessing, a good report and praise.

9 Three sights are bad for the eye: adultery, an evil eye and a deceptive look.

10 Three sights are good for the eye: modesty, a good eye, and a trustworthy look.

11 Three things are bad for the tongue: He who speaks in the presence of the slanderer, he who speaks one thing with the mouth but another with the heart, and he who speaks too much.

12 Three things are good for the tongue: silence, reticence, and speaking the truth.

Whoever understands this book and keeps it has the assurance that he is a son of the World that is Coming. This is the book of Abraham our father, peace be upon him, which is called The Book of Formation.

There is no limit to the wisdom of everyone who looks into it. And the mysteries of the upper and lower world will be revealed to everyone who occupies himself with it and studies it and knows its mysteries, and he has the assurance that he is a son of the World that is Coming. This book, which is called The Secret of Intercalation on which the whole world depends, should not be handed over to anyone except he who turns away from evil and fears God and waits and hopes for his Creator, as it is said, steadfast love surrounds him who trusts in YHWH (Psalms 32:10), and it says, Israel is saved by YHWH with an everlasting salvation, you will not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity (Isaiah 45:17).

I will Betroth You to Myself with Faithfulness

72343_636x945-cb1381332520.jpg“בְּתוּלָה (Betulah), Virgo, Elul, the left kidney [Hod (Zohar 2:123b)]” (Sefer Yetsirah 59b).

“The Rabbis taught: The kidneys advise [i.e., they are thought to be the seat of conscience]” (BT Berakhot 61a, cf. Psalms 7:10).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Why is there no נ (nun) in the אַשְׁרֵי (Ashrei) prayer [composed mostly of Psalms 145, which is arranged alphabetically, save that the verse beginning with the letter נ (nun) is missing]? Because the fall of Israel’s enemies [euphemistic for Israel Herself] begins with it. For it is written: נָפְלָה לֹא תוֹסִיף קוּם בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל נִטְּשָׁה עַל-אַדְמָתָהּ אֵין מְקִימָהּ (Nafelah lo tosif qum Betulat Yisra’el), Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel (Amos 5:2). In the West [i.e., Palestine] this verse is interpreted: נָפְלָה וְלֹא תוֹסִיף לִנְפּוֹל עוֹד—קוּם בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל (Nafelah [ve-]lo tosif [linpol od]. Qum, Betulat Yisra’el), She is fallen [—but] She will not [fall] again. Rise, O Virgin Israel!” (BT Berakhot 4b).

“Rabbi Aḥa was walking on the road, accompanied by Rabbi Yehudah. While they were going, Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘As for what we have learned: בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל (Betulat Yisra’el), Virgin Israel, who is blessed by seven and is called בַּת שֶׁבַע (Bat Sheva), Bathsheba, Daughter of Seven, as we have established in many places, and a virgin inherits seven blessings [under the wedding canopy, see Zohar 2:102b, 169a-b, 255b (Heikh); 3:44b, 124a, 266b; ZḤ 88d-89a (MhNRut)]—look at what is written: And you, O son of man, raise a lament for Virgin Israel, which is surely utter for Her, for Assembly of Israel! And this is most difficult of all: Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel (Amos 5:2). Now, that which the Companions have said concerning this statement is fine [see BT Berakhot 4b]. [However, this radical rereading is not convincing because] if the passage had been spoken by way of consolation, we would agree; yet here lamentation and dirge are uttered, as demonstrated by the verse! [cf. Rabbi Naḥman of Bratslav, Liqqutei Moharan 1:247].’

He replied, ‘Certainly so! This matter troubled me greatly, and I came before Rabbi Shim’on with a darkened face. He said to me, ‘From the look on your face, your heart is revealed!’ I said to him, ‘Surely, for my heart and my face are equivalent [cf. M Terumot 3:8].’ He said to me, ‘Utter your word!’

I said, ‘It is written: Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel. One who is angry with his wife, and she leaves him—she will never return. If so, woe to the children who have been cast out with her!’ He said to me, Are you not satisfied with what all the Companions have said? I said, They render the words compassionate, but it does not correspond. He said, Whatever the Companions say is fine and fitting, but woe to the generation when shepherds are nowhere to be found and the flock wanders, not knowing whether to go to the right or to the left! Surely this verse needs to be known, and all is revealed to those who see!

Come and see: In all the exiles suffered by Israel, He set a time and termination; and in all of them, Israel turned back to the blessed Holy One and Virgin Israel returned to Her place at the time decreed. Yet now, in this last exile, it is not so, for She has not returned as on the other occasions—as demonstrated by this verse, for it is written Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel. It is not written Fallen, and I will not raise Virgin Israel.

This may be compared to a king who became angry with the matrona and cast her out of his palace for a certain time. When that time arrived, the matrona immediately returned and came before the king. And so it happened once, twice, and thrice. Finally, she went far away from the king’s palace and was cast out for a distant time. He said, ‘This time is not like the other times, that she should come before me; rather, I myself will go with my retinue to woo her.’

When he reached her and saw her lying on the ground—who has seen the glory of the matrona at that time and the king pleading to her? Eventually, he grasped her in his hands and raised her and brought her to his palace, swearing to her that he would never part from her or be distant.

Similarly, with the blessed Holy One. All those times when Assembly of Israel was in exile, when the time arrived She returned and came before the King. Yet now, in this exile, it is not so; rather, the blessed Holy One will grasp Her hand and raise Her and reconcile with Her and return Her to His palace.

Come and see that it is so, for it is written Fallen, not to rise again, as in other times; but I myself will raise Her—I, YHWH, will raise Her booth; I will raise the fallen booth of David (Amos 9:11), Virgin Israel. The fallen—as is written: Fallen, [not to rise again]. This is the glory of Virgin Israel and Her praise. This I learned at that time.

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘You have surely spoken to my heart, and now it is tranquil. This is lucidity of the word, and it accords with a word that I recently gained. Rabbi Yose said, The blessed Holy One will one day proclaim over Assembly of Israel, Shake off the dust, arise; sit enthroned, O Jerusalem! (Isaiah 52:2)—like someone grasping his friend’s hand and saying, Shake yourself free and rise! So will the blessed Holy One grasp Her and say, Shake yourself free, arise!

Rabbi Aḥa said to him, ‘Happy are all those members of the royal palace, who open with this expression, as is written: Arise, shine, for your light has come! (Isaiah 60:1)—see, the King is surely here! Then is the glory and joy of all, when the King reconciles with Her.

It is written: Bathsheba came to the king in his chamber (1 Kings 1:15). Similarly, all those times She came to the King and stood before Him, as is written: She came before the king and stood before the king (ibid., 28). But this time, not so; rather, the King comes to Her to reconcile with Her, as is written: See, your king is coming to you! (Zechariah 9:9)—precisely, not You to Him. Is coming to you—to mollify You. Is coming to you—to raise You. Is coming to you—to restore You completely. Is coming to you—to bring You into His palace and unite with You eternally, as is said: I will betroth you to Myself with faithfulness; I will betroth you forever (Hosea 2:22, 21)'” (Zohar 3:6a-b).

If the King has No Army and No Camp, Over What does He Rule?

ImageAnd the gain of the land is in everything—a king is subject to the field (Ecclesiastes 5:8).

“Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai taught: ‘You are My witnesses,’ says YHWH, ‘and I am God’ (Isaiah 43:12). When you are My witnesses, I am God. When you are not My witnesses, I am not, as it were, God” (Sifrei Deuteronomy 346).

“If the king has no army and no camp, over what does he rule? And if there is no people praising the king, what is that king’s glory?” (Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 3, cf. Zohar 3:69a).

“Whoever acquires a Hebrew slave acquires for himself a master” (BT Qiddushin 20a).


Who Hardens his Heart will Fall into Harm

image“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: What is, Happy the man who fears at all times, but who hardens his heart will fall into harm? (Proverbs 28:14). The destruction of Jerusalem came through קַמְצָא וּבָּר קַמְצָא (Qamtsa u-bar Qamtsa), Locust and Son of Locust; the destruction of Tur Malka came through a cock and a hen [cf. Judges 4:6]; the destruction of Bethar came through the shaft of a leather.

The destruction of Jerusalem came through a Qamtsa and a Son of Qamtsa in this way. A certain man had a friend Qamtsa and an enemy, Son of Qamtsa. He once made a party and said to his servant, Go and bring Qamtsa. The man went and brought Son of Qamtsa. He [the host] found him sitting [at the banquet]. He said, ‘Since that one [you] are the enemy of that man [me], what are you doing here? Get up and leave.’ He said to him, ‘Since I am here, let me be, and I will pay you for what I eat and drink.’

He said to him, ‘No.’ He said to him, ‘I will pay for half the banquet.’ He said to him, ‘No.’ He said to him, ‘I will pay for the whole banquet.’ He said to him, ‘No.’ He grabbed him by the hand and put him out. He [Son of Qamtsa] said, ‘Since the rabbis were sitting and did not intervene, I will go and inform against them, at the king’s palace.’ He went and said to the emperor, ‘The Jews are rebelling against you.’ He said, ‘How can I tell?’ He said to him, ‘Send them a sacrifice and see if they offer it [on the altar].’ He sent with him a fine calf. While on the way he made a blemish on its upper lip, or as some say on the white of its eye, in a place where we [Jews] count it a blemish but they do not. The rabbis were inclined to offer it for the sake of peace with the kingdom. Said Rabbi Zekhariyah son of Avqulos to them, ‘Should they say that blemished animals are offered on the altar.’ They then proposed to kill [Son of Qamtsa] so that he should not go and tell him [the emperor]. Rabbi Zekhariyah son of Avqulos said to them, ‘Should they say that one who causes a blemish [on consecrated animals] be put to death?’ Rabbi Yoḥanan said, ‘The scrupulousness [or: meekness (Rashi)] of Rabbi Zekhariyah son of Avqulos destroyed our Temple and burnt our Sanctuary and exiled us from our Land” (BT Gittin 55b-56a, cf. Josephus, Wars II:17:2).

“Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because of three things which prevailed there: idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed… But why was the Second Temple destroyed, seeing that in its time they were occupying themselves with Torah, decrees, and the practice of tsedaqah? Because therein prevailed hatred without cause. That teaches you that שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם (sinat ḥinam), groundless hatred, is considered as of equal weight with the three sins of idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed together. And [during the time of] the First Temple did no groundless hatred prevail? Surely it is written: Cry and wail, son of man: for it shall be upon my people, [it shall be upon all the princes of Israel: terrors by reason of the sword shall be upon my people: strike therefore upon your thigh] (Ezekiel 21:17). El’azar said: This refers to people who eat and drink together and then thrust each other through with the daggers of their tongue!—that [passage] speaks of the princes in Israel, for it is written, Cry and wail, son of man: for it is upon my people. One might have assumed [it is upon] all [Israel], therefore it goes on, Upon all the princes of Israel” (BT Yoma 9b).

“Long ago, as Rabban Gamaliel, Rabbi El’azar son of Azariyah, Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva were walking on the road, they heard the noise of the crowds at Rome [on travelling] from Puteoli, twenty miles away. They all fell weeping, but Rabbi Akiva seemed merry. They said to him: Why are you merry? He said to them: Why are you weeping? They said: These heathens who bow down to images and burn incense to idols live in safety and ease, whereas our Temple, the ‘Footstool’ of our God is burnt down by fire, and should we then not weep? He replied: Therefore, I am merry. If they that offend Him fare thus, how much better shall they fare that do obey Him! Once again they were coming up to Jerusalem together, and just as they came to Mount Scopus they saw a fox emerging from the Holy of Holies. They fell weeping and Rabbi Akiva seemed merry. They said to him, why are you merry? He said: Why are you weeping? They said to him: A place of which it was once said, but the stranger that comes near shall be put to death (Numbers 1:51), has now become the haunt of foxes, and should we not weep? He said to them: Therefore I am merry; for it is written, And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah (Isaiah 8:3).

Now what connection has this Uriah the priest with Zechariah? Uriah lived during the times of the First Temple, while [the other,] Zechariah lived [and prophesied] during the Second Temple; but the holy-writ linked the [later] prophecy of Zechariah with the [earlier] prophecy of Uriah, In the [earlier] prophecy [in the days] of Uriah it is written, Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed like a field, [and Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the house like the high places of the forest] (Micah 3:12; Jeremiah 26:18-20). In Zechariah it is written, Thus says YHWH of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the broad places of Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:4), so long as Uriah’s [threatening] prophecy had not had its fulfilment, I had misgivings lest Zechariah’s prophecy might not be fulfilled; now that Uriah’s prophecy has been [literally] fulfilled, it is quite certain that Zechariah’s prophecy also is to find its literal fulfilment. They said to him: Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva, you have comforted us!” (BT Maqqot 24b, cf. JT Berakhot 2:4, 5a).

The Graves of Lust

phourni003b.jpgWhy is this place called תַּבְעֵרָה (Taverah), Taberah [lit., Burning] (Numbers 11:3)? Because each and every light that reaches there is burned immediately on account of its great זַכּוּת (zakut), purity [alt., זְכוּת (zekhut), merit]. They said in The Mystery of Souls that one light is drawn out from the blessed Holy One, coupling is performed, and the נְשָׁמוֹת (neshamot), souls, sparkle and mate with this light. This light extends to Taberah, called צְבָאוֹת (Tseva’ot), Hosts, and there the souls remain. As long as we have this wondrous wisdom we can understand what is written: And at Taberah and at Massah and at Kibroth-Hatta’avah [you infuriated YHWH] (Deuteronomy 9:22)—Ḥokhmah is found there along the entire way. The blessed Holy One said in His Torah, and at Taberah and at Massah and at Kibroth-Hatta’avahthe place from which human beings desire and תַאֲוָה (ta’avah), crave, to attain good and to attain evil. Israel, seeing the greatness of these three places were intent to know who their leader was, who it is that bestows upon them. They began to say ‘From the מָקוֹם (Maqom), Omnipresent [lit., Place], descends the good and the evil.’ For this is the site of a great degree, yet without a ruler in it, since the גֵּאוּת (ge’ut), majesty [lit., flux], of the blessed Holy One does not oversee all His creatures. Rather He left three to act in His place as they please. Hence, [Israel] tried the blessed Holy One in all matters.

The sages say three seraphs [alt., princes] whose degrees are אֵין סוֹף (ein sof), without end, receive from those three places. From Taberah descends the brilliance of Ḥokhmah to the place, נַחַל אַרְנוֹן (Naḥal Arnon), River Arnon [lit., Ringing River, see, Numbers 21:28. Cf. BT Berakhot 54a]. Its name is deep: אַדִירִירוֹן (Adiriron) [from a root meaning, “mighty,” see, Margaliot, Mal’akhe Elyon (Jerusalem, 1964), p. 2; Sefer Temunah 17b-18a] the place of רִנָּה (rinnah), glad song, מוֹפֵת (mofet), portent, and wisdom. It is the organ which sustains the entire body.

When the host on high see Ḥokhmah shining they begin to sing, as it says, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7) [cf. ZḤ 5b-6a (MhN)]. Ḥokhmah reaches them and they rise, certainly receiving from there Ḥokhmah and Gevurah and Gedullah. Ḥokhmah reaches from the River Arnon to נַחַל הָעֲבָרִים (Naḥal ha-Avarim), the River Abarim [alt., נַחַל הָעָבְרִים (Naḥal ha-Averim), the River of Crossings], and from there returns to its place again [cf. Numbers 33:47-48].

The thirty-two paths grow stronger, rising and covering all the spheres and all the degrees and the worlds and all the abysses but next to the brilliance of Ḥokhmah appear as if they were non-existent. Visible to those who are the distance of a bowshot of 600,000 [measures] away they appear like the shadow of a single hollow [or: bowl, dish]. The thirty-two paths grow stronger rising and covering all the spheres and all their places. They say Ḥokhmah is supernal man, known as עֶצְיֹן גָּבֶר (Etsyon Gaver), Ezion Geber, as I said before [see, Numbers 33:35-36; Deuteronomy 2:8; 1 Kings 9:26; Targum Yonatan: כְּרַך תַּרְנְגוֹלָא (Kerakh Tarnegola), City of the Rooster, i.e., rooster-shaped city)].

The River Abarim, which we already mentioned, is מִשַׁבֵּצוֹת (mishbetsot), slots (known in combination with the four letter Name as I will interpret in the vocalization of this matter). We said of this expansive matter—the River Abarim—that in it certain sages erred tremendously, such as Elisha the Other [see BT Ḥagigah 14b; Zohar 3:222b (RM); עֲבָרִים (Avarim), or: עָבְרִים (Averim), Crossings, alludes to עֲבֵרָה (averah), offence]. However, the relic of the great and mighty sages of Israel, heads of the generations, standing in venerable places, took to restore what was lost and to save the sons of man.

Behold the chapter headings of this wondrous wisdom: Three times a day the wisdom increases higher and higher: at the first hour, at the sixth hour, and at the last hour [cf. ZḤ 5b-6a (MhN); Zohar 2:21b]. In these hours everyone of the thirty-two paths is rooted in the first letter of יהוה (YHWH)—in the lower tip [of י (yod)] looking downwards. Since it looks down so too does Ḥokhmah, great in strength and compassion. But if She looks upwards even the angels and sons of man cannot attain Ḥokhmah and are as beasts of the field. Therefore She looks downwards and Ḥokhmah is received by creatures and as She saw, for She is vastly higher above all the degrees and none are higher than Her, She directs Her face to three places. First towards the north, the place of Gevurah, lowering Her pride She remains bowed down in great trembling. This place is a place of יִראָה (yirah), awe, it is Taberah, [the angel] אגלא (AGLA) [i.e., אַתָה גִבּוֹר לְעוֹלָם אֲדֹנָי (Atah Gibor le-olam Adonai), You are eternally mighty Lord], included in Torah. It performs actions for the enlightened without purification with the lins of יִראָה (yirah), awe. The second place is a place of עֲנָוָה (anavah), humility, and its name is called מְנוּחָה (Menuḥa), Rest, it is יְחִדרִיאֵל (Yeḥidriel), אֱלֹהִי יִשְׂרָאֵל (Elohi Yisra’el), God of Israel. The third place is a place of שִׂמְחָה (simḥa), joy, and its name is called מפרישמיה (MPRISMYH) [cf. Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital, Sha’arei Qedushah, 4:1].

Whoever desires to learn wisdom should cleave to these three degrees: יִראָה (yirah), awe, עֲנָוָה (anavah), humility, and שִׂמְחָה (simḥa), joy [cf. Deuteronomy 28:47]—he יִראָה (yirah), fears, sin is עָנָו (anav), humble, and שַׂמֵחַ (sameaḥ), happy, with his lot. When he attains the discernment of these three degrees he attains Ḥokhmah (Wisdom) [cf. M Avot 3:11; 4:1; 5:19]. These three places are bound to each other, and one is no different than the other; they are all one [cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 5b]. And the angels who receive from these three places are הוֹרִיאֵל (Horiel) [alt., יהויאל (YHWYAL)], גַּבִּיאֵל (Gabiel), and גַּבְרִיאֵל (Gavriel), Gabriel [cf. Margaliot, Mal’akhe Elyon (Jerusalem, 1964), p. 42]. Names which bless and curse without need of purification and without need of permission from הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim), God, but act however they please. Yet they are names of goodness, for they are without inquiry and without limit. The first of these three places is called יכאה (YKAH), it is תַּבְעֵרָה שֶׂכֶל (Taverah Sekhel), Burning Intellect [cf. Numbers 11:3: And (Moses) he called the name of that place Taberah, for YHWH’s fire had burned against them]. The lights are fearful when they ascend lest it burn them with its great holiness. However, he who cleaves to the degree of awe escapes burning.

The second [degree] is humility [called:] מַסָּה (Massah), Trial (Deuteronomy 9:22). Without limit to its holiness and strength this place is very great. For when all the lights and all the lofty host pass through this place it is known who conducts himself faithfully or not, thus it is called מַסָּה (Massah), Trial. The third [degree] is joy, the site of קִבְרוֹת הַתַּאֲוָה (Kivrot Hatta’avah), the Graves of Lust (Numbers 11:34). Whoever does not reach the place of rest, [called] the Graves of Lust, does not see light and does not attain Ḥokhmah.

There is one place, מָעוֹן (Ma’on), Dwelling [see, BT Ḥagigah 12b], in the heavens and there is אֵין סוֹף (ein sof), no end, to its discernment and its place is hidden because of the puniness of [our] intellect as was said before. And when the great luminaries grow, ascending, and see the banner standing in the middle of the chamber they say this is the place מְנוּחָה (Menuḥah), Rest. They stand hoping to glimpse its glorious brilliance. When this hidden light increases abundantly, expanding, and emanates its brilliance outside the chamber then they incline to see more and they ascend and reach the place of חֶשְׁבּוֹן (Ḥeshbon), Reckoning [see, Numbers 21:27; Ecclesiastes 7:27; Song of Songs 7:5]. But when they reach its border they are burned immediately by the purity [or: merit] of this great light—they are all burned standing in it and none of them ever emerge, for this place is called, in the language of parable, the Graves of Lust. Most of them that desired to know the essence were consumed in holiness and were not seen again.

Numerous lights and princes, brave and powerful, were consumed in this place called the Graves of Lust, an expression of the essence of יהוה (YHWH) [alt., יהו (YHW)]. But let me tell you the angels and the lights which were consumed in this place since the time of the Formation [of the world] were numerous great, strong, and perfect in their degrees. Big and mighty angels were consumed by this great luminary, those from the camp of שָׂרָפִים (serafim), seraphs, and from the camp of תַּרְשִׁישִׁים‎‎ (tarshishim) [two classes of angels] since it arose in their minds to strenghten themselves and ascend until this place but there they were consumed, as is written of them, For there the people buried the ones who had been craving (Numbers 11:34). But do not let evil arise in your mind and think that words of Torah only accord with their plain meaning, you are forbidden from believing this. Happy is the man who delves to know, to attain Ḥokhmah in this place called the Graves of Lust” (Berit MenuḥaFirst Way: the Way of Wisdom).

My Fathers Pray on My Behalf: Were it not for our Supplications on Behalf of the Living they would not Survive for even Half a Day!

76157_129532000435332_100001355978667_158503_2959196_nAnd they went up through the Negeb and he came to Hebron (Number 13:22)—it should read and they came!—Rabba said: It teaches that Caleb held aloof from the plan of the spies and went and prostrated himself upon the graves of the patriarchs, saying to them, ‘My fathers, pray on my behalf that I may be delivered from the plan of the spies.’ As for Joshua, Moses had already prayed on his behalf; as it is said: And Moses called Hosea the son of Nun יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshu’a), Joshua (ibid. 16), [meaning], יָהּ יוֹשִׁיעַךָ (Yah yoshi’akha), May Yah save you, from the spies’ plan. That is the intention of what is written: But My servant Caleb, inasmuch as there was another spirit with him (ibid. 14:24)” (BT Sotah 34b).

“Why do they go to the cemetery?—with regard to this there is a difference of opinion between Rabbi Levi son of Ḥama [alt., Rabbi Levi son of Laḥma] and Rabbi Ḥanina. One says: [To signify thereby], We are as the dead before You; and the other says: In order that the dead should intercede for mercy on our behalf. What is the difference between them?—the difference is with regard to going to the cemetery of star worshipers” (BT Ta’anit 16a).

“The sons of Rabbi Ḥiyya went to the villages to cultivate their property, and they began to forget their learning. They tried very hard to recall it. One said to the other: Does our father know of our trouble? How should he know, replied the other, seeing that it is written, If sons grow great, he will not notice them (Job 14:21). The other said to him: But does he not know? Is it not written: But the flesh upon him will ache, נַפְשׁוֹ (nafsho), his own being, will mourn for him (Job 14:22). And Rabbi Yitsḥaq said [commenting on this]: The worm is as painful to the dead as a needle in the flesh of the living? [He replied]: It is explained that they know their own pain, they do not know the pain of others.

Is that so? Has it not been taught: It is related that a certain devout man gave a denar to a poor man on the eve of Rosh HaShanah in a year of drought, and his wife scolded him, and he went and passed the night in the cemetery, and he heard two רוּחוֹת (ruḥot), spirits, conversing with one another. One said to her companion: My dear, come and let us wander about the world and let us hear from behind the curtain what suffering is coming on the world [in the divine judgment pronounced on Rosh Hashanah]. Her companion said to her: I am not able, because I am buried in a matting of reeds [and not in a linen shroud]. But do go, and whatever you hear tell me.

So the other went and wandered about and returned. Her companion said to her: My dear, what have you heard from behind the curtain? She replied: I heard that whoever sows after the first rainfall [about the seventeenth of Heshvan (Rashi)] will have his crop destroyed by hail. So the man went and did not sow till after the second rainfall [which would be about six days after the first], with the result that everyone else’s crop was destroyed but his was not destroyed [not being sufficiently grown yet].

The next year he again went and passed the night in the cemetery, and heard the two spirits conversing with one another. One said to her companion: Come and let us wander about the world and hear from behind the curtain what punishment is coming upon the world. The other said to her: My dear, did I not tell you that I am not able because I am buried in a matting of reeds? But you go, and whatever you hear, come and tell me. So the other one went and wandered about the world and returned. She said to her: My dear, what have you heard from behind the curtain? She replied: I heard that whoever sows after the later rain will have his crop struck with blight. So the man went and sowed after the first rain with the result that everyone else’s crop was blighted but his was not blighted [being by now strong enough to resist]. His wife said to him: How is it that last year everyone else’s crop was destroyed but yours was not destroyed, and this year everyone else’s crop is blighted and yours is not blighted? So he related to her all his experiences.

The story goes that shortly afterwards a quarrel broke out between the wife of that devout man and the mother of the child [whose ruaḥ, spirit, the devout man had heard conversing], and the former said to the latter, Come and I will show you your daughter buried in a matting of reeds. The next year the man again went and spent the night in the cemetery and heard those conversing together. One said: My dear, come and let us wander about the world and hear from behind the curtain what suffering is coming upon the world. Said the other: My dear, leave me alone; our conversation has already been heard among the living. This would prove that they know?—perhaps some other man after his death went and told them.

Come and hear: for Ze’iri deposited some money with his landlady, and while he was away visiting Rav she died. So he went after her to the court of death and said to her, Where is my money? She replied to him: Go and take it from under the ground, in the hole of the doorpost, in such and such a place, and tell my mother to send me my comb and my tube of eye-paint by the hand of so-and-so who is coming here tomorrow. Does not this show that they know?—perhaps דוּמָה (Dumah) [lit., Silence, the angel presiding over the dead] announces to them beforehand [that so-and-so will die, but they know nothing else].

Come and hear: The father of Shemu’el had some money belonging to orphans deposited with him. When he died, Shemu’el was not with him, and they called him, ‘The son who consumes the money of orphans.’ So he went after his father to the cemetery, and said to them [the dead]. I am looking for Abba. They said to him: There are many of that name here. I want Abba son of Abba, he said. They replied: There are also several Abbas son of Abba here. He then said to them: I want Abba son of Abba the father of Shemu’el; where is he? They replied: He has gone up to the מְתִיבְתָּא רָקִיעַא (metivta raqia), celestial academy.

Meanwhile he saw Levi sitting outside. He said to him: Why are you sitting outside? Why have you not gone up? He replied: Because they said to me: For as many years as you did not go up to the academy of Rav Efes and hurt his feelings [see BT Qetubot 13b], we will not let you go up to the celestial academy. Meanwhile his father came. Shemu’el observed that he was both weeping and laughing. He said to him: Why are you weeping? He replied: Because you are coming here soon. And why are you laughing? Because you are highly esteemed in this world. He thereupon said to him: If I am esteemed, let them take up Levi; and they did take up Levi. He then said to him: Where is the money of the orphans? He replied: Go and you will find it in the case of the millstones. The money at the top and the bottom is mine, that in the middle is the orphans’ He said to him: Why did you do like that? He replied: So that if thieves came, they should take mine, and if the earth destroyed any, it should destroy mine. Does not this show that they know?—perhaps Shemu’el was exceptional: as he was esteemed, they proclaimed beforehand, Make way [for him]!

Rabbi Yonatan also retracted his opinion. For Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan: Whence do we know that the dead converse with one another? Because it says: And YHWH said to him, ‘This is the land that I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, [To your seed I will give it’] (Deuteronomy 34:4). What is the meaning of לֵאמֹר (lemor), saying? The blessed Holy One said to Moses: Say to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: The oath which I swore to you I have already carried out for your descendants.

Now if you maintain that the dead do not know, what would be the use of his telling them?—you infer then that they do know. In that case, why should he need to tell them?—so that they might be grateful to Moses. Rabbi Yitsḥaq said: If one makes remarks about the dead, it is like making remarks about a stone. Some say [the reason is that] they do not know, others that they know but do not care. Can that be so? Has not Rav Papa said: A certain man made derogatory remarks about Mar Shemu’el and a log fell from the roof and broke his skull?—a disciple of wisdom is different, because the blessed Holy One avenges his honor” (BT Sanhedrin 18b-19a).

“Rabbi Ḥiyya prostrated himself on the ground, kissing the dust and weeping. He cried out, ‘Dust, dust, how stubborn you are, how impudent! All delights of the eye decay in you. All pillars of light in the world you consume and pulverize. How insolent you are! The Holy Lamp who has illumined the world, majestic ruler, prince, whose merit sustains the world, decays in you. O Rabbi Shim’on, radiance of the lamp, radiance of the worlds, you decompose in the dust, yet you subsist and guide the world!’

For a moment he was shocked, and then exclaimed, ‘Dust, dust, do not boast! The pillars of the world will not be surrendered to you. Rabbi Shim’on has not decayed in you! [since the bodies of the righteous do not decay, see BT Bava Metsi’a 84b]” (Zohar 1:4b).

“Rabbi Yehudah son of Shalom was walking on the way, and Rabbi Abba was with him. They entered a certain אַתְרָא (atra), place and lodged there [alt., אִדְרָא (iddera), threshing floor, from the Greek ἕδρᾱ (hedra), seat, implying a sacred site (see Meroz, ‘The Story in the Zohar about the Grieving Dead’)]. They ate. When they wished to lie down, they lay their heads on a mound of earth—where there was a grave. Before they fell asleep, a voice called out from the grave, saying, ‘A seed is earthbound. For twelve years I have not awakened, except now; I have just seen the countenance of my son!’

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Who are you?’ He replied, ‘I am a Jew and I sit reproached; I do not want to enter on account of my son’s sorrow, for a gentile kidnapped him when he was young, and he beats him every day. His sorrow prevents me from entering my site, and I have not awakened in this place until now.’ He said to him, ‘Are you aware of the sorrows of the living? He replied, ‘[By the life of] the denizens of the graves! Were it not for our supplications on behalf of the living, they would not survive for even half a day! Now I have awakened here, for today I was told that presently my son would be coming here, though I know not whether dead or alive [cf. BT Sanhedrin 104a].’

Rabbi Yehudah said to him, ‘What is your business in that world?’ The grave rumbled and said, ‘Arise, be gone! For now they are beating my son.’ They were stunned and fled from there about half a mile. They sat until the morning shone. They rose to walk on. They saw a person running and fleeing, his shoulders dripping blood. They grabbed him and he told them what had happened. They said to him, ‘What is your name?’

He replied, ‘Laḥma son of Levai.’ They said, ‘Was not that dead man Levai son of Laḥma?! We are afraid to speak with him anymore [cf. BT Ta’anit 16a]! They did not return. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Concerning what they said: that the prayers of the dead protect the living—how do we know? As is written: They went up through the Negeb, and he came as far as Hebron (Numbers 13:22) [cf. BT Sotah 34b]'” (Zohar 2:16a-b, Midrash ha-Ne’lam).

“Inhabitants of the world will one day cry out, and no one will care about them. They will turn their heads in every direction and turn back without a remedy. But one remedy I have found in the world and no more. In a place where there exist those who toil in Torah, if there exists among them a Torah scroll free of falsification—when they take this out, for its sake upper and lower beings arouse, especially if the Holy Name is written therein properly. We have already learned this matter.

Woe to the generation among whom the Torah scroll is exiled, yet beings above and below fail to arouse! Who will arouse for it when the world is in greater trouble and the Torah scroll must be exiled further because of the world’s distress? For when the world suffers and people pray for mercy at the graves, all the dead arouse for them. נֶפֶשׁ (Nefesh) hastens to inform רוּחַ (ruaḥ) that the Torah scroll is in exile—exiled because of the world’s distress—and the living are coming and pleading for mercy. Then ruaḥ informs נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), and neshamah informs the blessed Holy One. Then the blessed Holy One arouses and has compassion upon the upper world—all because the Torah scroll was exiled from its place and the living come to pray for mercy at the graves of the dead. Woe to the generation if the Torah scroll must be exiled from place to place—even from synagogue to synagogue—for they lack anything to stimulate caring for them!

… We have learned: For twelve months nefesh is bound to the body in the grave and they are judged as one, except for nefesh of the righteous, as we have established. She is present in the grave, aware of its suffering and of the suffering of the living, but she does not exert herself for them. After twelve months, she clothes herself in a certain garment and goes roaming through the world. She discovers from ruaḥ what she discovers and exerts herself for the suffering of the living.

Who arouses all this? A virtuous person—when there is one—who informs them fittingly; that virtuous one is recognized by them. Come and see: When a virtuous person endures, he is known among the living and among the dead, for every day he is proclaimed among them. When suffering intensifies in the world and he cannot protect the generation, he informs them of the world’s suffering. When there is no virtuous person to be proclaimed among them, when no one can be found to arouse them for the suffering of the world except for the Torah scroll, then upper and lower beings arouse over it. At that time, all must engage in teshuvah; if they do not, masters of judgment arouse against them—even ruḥot, spirits, in the Garden of Eden arouse against them.

I will lie down with my fathers (Genesis 47:30)—in body, nefeshruaḥneshamah, in a single chariot, on a supernal rung.

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘How utterly stopped up are inhabitants of the world, neither knowing nor hearing nor contemplating matters of the world, and how the blessed Holy One hovers over them compassionately, constantly. No one is aware!

Three times a day, one spirit enters the cave of Machpelah and wafts upon the graves of the patriarchs; bones heal and stand vitally erect. That spirit draws down dew from above—from the head of the King, site of supernal patriarchs—and when that dew arrives from them, the patriarchs below awaken.

Come and see: That dew descends by certain levels, level after level, reaching the lower Garden of Eden, where it is infused by the spices of the Garden. One spirit arouses—composed of two others—rising, drifting among the spices, entering the opening of the cave. Then the patriarchs awaken, they and their spouses, and plead for mercy for their children.

When the world is in distress because they are asleep on account of the sins of the world, that dew does not flow or appear until a Torah scroll arouses fittingly in the world. Then nefesh informs ruaḥ, and ruaḥ neshamah, and neshamah the blessed Holy One. The King then sits on the throne of mercy, and there issues from the supernal Ancient One a flow of טַלָּא דִּבְדוֹלְחָא (talla di-vdulḥa), crystal dew, reaching the head of the King, and the patriarchs are blessed, and that dew flows to those sleepers, who then all conjoin, and the blessed Holy One has compassion upon the world.

Come and see: The blessed Holy One does not have compassion upon the world until He has informed the patriarchs, and for their sake the world is blessed” (Zohar 1:225a-b).

“Those [Egyptian] sorcerers would go to cemeteries and perform their sorcery and make an image of a human and slaughter before it one goat. Afterward they put that goat in a certain grave, break that image into four quarters, and place them in the four corners of the grave. Then they perform their sorcery, and an assemblage of those evil species gathers and brings that soul, which enters the grave and speaks to them.

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Happy are the righteous in this world and in the world that is coming, for they are holy! Their body is holy, their nefesh is holy, their ruaḥ is holy, their neshamah is holy of holies—three rungs, corresponding to the pattern above. For it has been taught: Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘It is written Let the earth bring forth נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה (nefesh ḥayyah), a living soul (Genesis 1:24)—supernal soul of supernal Adam.

Come and see: There are three rungs, joining as one—nefesh, ruaḥ, neshamah—and highest of them is neshamah. For Rabbi Yose has said, ‘All people have nefesh, though one nefesh is superior to another. If a person proves worthy of this nefesh, a certain crown is infused in him, called ruaḥ, as is written: until רוּחַ (ruaḥ), is poured upon us from on high (Isaiah 32:15). Then the person is aroused by another sublime arousal to contemplate the ways of the Holy King. If the person proves worthy of that ruaḥ, he is adorned with a supernal holy crown encompassing all, called neshamah—called נִּשְׁמַת אֱלוֹהַּ (nishmat Eloah), soul of God (Job 4:9)…

One should not go there without teshuvah and without fasting, to plead before them. Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Without three fasts.’ Rabbi Yose said, ‘Even one, on that day—but only if the world is plunged in great suffering. Then [the souls of the righteous] all join to plead for mercy over the world.’

… Rabbi Yeisa said, ‘When the world is in need, why do we go to the dead? Is it not written or inquires of the dead (Deuteronomy 18:11)? So it is forbidden! He [Rabbi Ḥizkiyah] replied, ‘You have not seen the wings of the Bird of Eden [i.e., Shekhinah]. Or inquires of the dead—precisely, who are the wicked of the world, of the other nations, who are always dead. But as for Israel, who are truly righteous, Solomon declared over them, the dead, who have already died (Ecclesiastes 4:2)—another time, not now. Who have already died—and now they are alive.

Furthermore, when other nations visit their dead, they come with sorcery to arouse evil species [cf. Leqaḥ Tov on Deuteronomy 34:6]. But when the people of Israel does so, they come in great teshuvah before the blessed Holy One, with a broken heart, with fasting—and all so that those holy souls will plead before the blessed Holy One for mercy upon them.

Consequently we have learned: Even though a righteous person has departed from this world, he has not disappeared or vanished from all the worlds, since he exists in all those worlds more than in his lifetime [cf. Freud, Totem and Taboo]. During his life he exists only in this world; afterward he exists in three worlds and is welcome there, as is written: Therefore, maidens, love you (Song of Songs 1:3)—do not read עֲלָמוֹת (alamot), maidens, but rather עוֹלָמוֹת (olamot), worlds. Happy is their share!”(Zohar 3:70a-71b, cf. BT Bava Metsi’a 85b; Qohelet Rabbah on 10:10; Sefer Ḥasidim [ed. Margaliot] 450, 452).