Gates of Imagination

by tillerofthesoil


“Rabbi Yehudah opened, ‘Her husband is known in the gates, as he sits among the elders of the land (Proverbs 31:23). Come and see: The blessed Holy One has ascended in glory. He is hidden, concealed in utmost loftiness. There is no one in the world—nor since the day the world was created has there ever been—who can comprehend His wisdom or apprehend Him, for He is hidden, concealed, transcendent, beyond, beyond.

All beings above and below cannot grasp, till finally they declare: Blessed be the glory of YHWH from His place! (Ezekiel 3:12). Those below proclaim that He is above, as is written: Your glory is above the heavens (Psalms 113:4). Those above proclaim that He is below, as is written: Your glory is over all the earth (ibid. 57:12). Finally all of them, above and below, declare: Blessed be the glory of YHWH from His place! For He is unknowable; no one has ever been able to comprehend Him. Yet you say: Her husband is known in the gates? 

But indeed, Her husband is known in the gates—the blessed Holy One, who is known and grasped to the degree that each one opens the gates of imagination, according to the capacity to attain the spirit of wisdom. As one fathoms in his mind, so He is known in his mind. So He is known in those gates. But can He be known accurately? No one has ever been able to grasp and know Him.

Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Her husband is known in the gates. Who are the gates? As is said: Lift up your heads, O gates! Be lifted up, openings of eternity! (Psalms 24:7). Through these gates, supernal rungs, the blessed Holy One becomes known; otherwise, no one could grasp. 

Come and see: the human soul is unknowable except through smooth members of the body—rungs carrying out what the soul designs. So she is known and unknown.  Similarly, the blessed Holy One is known and unknown, for He is soul of soul, spirit of spirit, hidden and concealed from all, but through those gates, openings for soul, the blessed Holy One becomes known. 

Come and see: There is opening within opening, rung upon rung, through which the glory of the blessed Holy One becomes known. Opening of the tent—opening of Righteousness, as is said: Open for me gates of righteousness (ibid. 118:19). This is the first opening to enter; through this opening all other supernal openings come into view. Whoever attains this attains all other openings, for all abide here. 

Now—when this opening is unknown, since Israel is in exile—all those openings have withdrawn from it; they cannot know or grasp. However, when Israel will come forth from exile, all those supernal rungs are destined to alight upon it fittingly. Then inhabitants of the world will discover precious, supernal wisdom, previously unknown to them, as is written: The spirit of YHWH will alight upon him: a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and power, a spirit of knowledge and awe of YHWH (Isaiah 11:2). All those are destined to alight upon King Messiah below, so he may judge the world, as is written: He will judge the poor with righteousness (ibid., 4)” (Zohar 1:103a–b).

YHWH loves the gates of Zion, more than all the dwellings of Jacob (Psalms 87:2).