By What Way Does the Light Fan Out?
“At the head of potency of the King. He engraved engravings in luster on high. A spark of impenetrable darkness flashed within the concealed of the concealed, from the head of Infinity—a cluster of vapor forming in formlessness, thrust in a ring, not white, not black, not red, not green, no color at all. As a cord, surveyed, it yielded radiant colors. Deep within the spark gushed a flow, splaying colors below, concealed within the concealed of the mystery of אֵין סוֹף (Ein Sof). It split and did not split its aura, was not known at all, until under the impact of splitting, a single, concealed, supernal point shone. Beyond that point, nothing is known, so it is called רֵאשִׁית (reshit), Beginning, first command of all… Zohar, Radiance! Sowing seed for its glory, like the seed of fine purple silk wrapping itself within, weaving itself a palace, constituting its praise, availing all” (Zohar 1:15a).
“At the head of potency of the King… A spark of impenetrable darkness (Zohar 1:15a) when it surveyed its drawing out, there came forth from this point a hidden קָו (qav), cord. This thought was like this: ם (mem), first it was the closed ם (mem), and when the cord, which was the ו (vav), extended from the מִדָּה (middah), measure, it opened and was made into ב (bet). This is בְּרֵאשִׁית (bereshit), In the beginning (Genesis 1:1)—the רֵאשִׁית (reshit), Beginning, in the בּ (bet). When it is the closed ם (mem), it is the great ם (mem) as in, לםרבה (le-marbeh), of the increase of, dominion (Isaiah 9:6) and it was made into a ring. Therefore, it is said by all, ‘you are betrothed to me with this ring’ ם (mem). Of this it says a cluster of vapor forming in formlessness, thrust in a ring, not white, not black, not red, not green, no color at all (Zohar 1:15a). When it extended to shine, a cord surveyed, it yielded radiant colors… within (ibid.). And this is the secret of Wrapped in light like a cloak, [stretching out heavens like a tent-cloth] (Psalms 104:2). For this is the cloaked light that does not spread, hidden. The אֲוִיר (avir), atmosphere [lit., air], is called אוֹר (or), light, and with the addition of the י (yod), the point in the palace, for when one takes the י (yod) out of אֲוִיר (avir), atmosphere, one reveals אוֹר (or), light. And this is And God said, Let there be light (Genesis 1:3)” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 19a-20b).
“At the head of potency of the King… A spark of impenetrable darkness… not white, not black, not red, not green, no color at all (Zohar 1:15a). This spark is the קָו מִדָּה (qav middah), cord of measure, which is clothed in the atmosphere and when it is in the atmosphere, it is closed and not seen at all. When it extends itself to be revealed, there comes out from this אֲוִיר (avir), atmosphere [alt., intangible air], one point. What remains is light, the primordial light of the work of creation. As it says And God said, יְהִי אוֹר (yehi or), ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:2)—let there be י (yod) plus אֲוִיר (avir), atmosphere, and this secret is passed to the wise of heart. This point, after it extends from that light is clothed in four colors from the upper palace, and this is called ב (bet) so it says Through wisdom a house is built (Proverbs 24:3) and this point measures out five colors, as it says Who measured at the rising of the water (Isaiah 40:12)” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 37b, cf. Zohar 3:135b, Idra Rabba).
“Above the white light hovers a concealed light, encompassing it. Here abides supernal mystery. You will discover all in the ascending flame, wisdoms of the highest… The universe diffracts into forty-five hues of colored light. Seven disperse into seven abysses, each one striking its own abyss, stones gyrating. The light penetrates those stones, piercing them, and water issues from them, each one sinking within an abyss, covering both sides. Water flows through those holes, light penetrates, striking all four sides of the abyss. Each light whirls around its partner, converging as one, splitting the water” (Zohar 1:51a-52a).
“In this quadrisected expanse, all colors are included, four colors seen within, engraved quadruply, higher and lower secrecies inscribed in four engravings. When the colors of these four scatter, they total twelve: green, red, white, and a color blended of all colors as is written: Like the appearance of the bow in the cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance—the appearance of the semblance of the glory of YHWH (Ezekiel 1:28)—appearance of the colors of all. So, I have set My bow in the cloud (Genesis 9:13)” (Zohar 1:71b).
“Come and see: There are four lights. Three of them are concealed, and one revealed. A shining light [Ḥesed]. A light of radiance [Gevurah], shining like the heavens in purity [Tif’eret]. A light of purple, absorbing all lights [Yesod]. A light that does not shine [Shekhinah] but gazes toward these, receiving them, and they appear in it as in a crystal facing the sun. These three that we have mentioned are concealed, and stand above this one, which is revealed… This is the mystery: Close your eye and turn your eyeball, and those shining, glowing colors are revealed. Permission to see is granted only with eyes shut and concealed, for they are supernally concealed, standing above those colors that are seen and do not glow” (Zohar 2:23b).
“This blue on the second day was tinged with other colors: red and black… This black is so dark that its color cannot be seen from within the darkness. The Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai] said as follows: ‘This dark black color, where was it imbued? Well, when that red was smelted within blue and colors intermingled, a smelting of filth melted into the depths, out of which formed mire and mud, as is said: Its waters cast up mire and mud (Isaiah 57:20). From that clay of the depths emerged the darkness that is black—and not black but utterly dark, as is written: and darkness over the face of the deep (Genesis 1:2). Why is it called darkness? Because its color is dark and it darkens the faces of creatures” (Zohar 2:149b).
“These colors, intermingle, merging with one another—each one lending some of its color to its fellow—except for white, in which all are absorbed when necessary, and which covers all [cf. Proverbs 10:12]. As for all colors below, inhabitants of the world cannot turn them—black, red, or green—into white. Yet here [on the rung of Ze’eir Anpin], with one gaze [toward Attiqa Qadisha], all of them are transformed, bathed in white” (Zohar 3:293b, Idra Zuta).
By what way does the light fan out (Job 38:24).