Something the Mouth Cannot Express, Nor the Ear Hear

by tillerofthesoil


Cursed be the one who makes a carved or molten image, the work of the hands of an artisan, and sets it up in secret (Deuteronomy 27:15, cf. Zohar 3:127b-128a).

“One comes [to divine judgement] who has studied [only] Talmud. The blessed Holy One says to him: My son, since you have occupied yourself in Talmud, have you gazed upon the Chariot? Have you looked… upon My Throne of Glory?… What was the measurement of My palm? What is the measurement of the toes of my feet? ” (Shoḥer Tov, Mishlei 16, cf. BT Bava Batra 54b-55a).

“Rabbi Yishma’el said, ‘I saw the King of kings of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, sitting on a throne, high and exalted, with his soldiers standing before Him, on His right and on His left. The Prince of the Countenance Metatron, spoke to me. ‘What is the measure of the stature of the Holy One, blessed be He, concealed from all creatures?

‘The soles of His feet fill the entire universe; their height is 30 million parasangs. From the sole of His foot to his ankle is 10 million parasangs. From His ankle to His knees is 190 million parasangs. From His knees to His thighs is 120 million parasangs. From His thighs to His neck is 240 million parasangs. His neck extends 130 million parasangs. The circumference of His head is over 3 billion parasangs—something the mouth cannot express, nor the ear hear [cf. Sefer Yetsirah 4:12]. His beard is 11,500 parasangs. His face and cheeks are like spirit and soul, which no soul can perceive. His body is like aquamarine [see Daniel 10:6]. His radiance scintillates, awesome from within the darkness. Dense clouds surround Him [see Psalms 97:2].

All the angels of the Presence pour themselves out before Him as water pouring from a pitcher. His tongue extends from one end of the universe to the other. The width of His forehead is 130 million parasangs; on it are written seventy letters. The black of His right eye is 11,500 parasangs, and so on the left. From His right shoulder to His left shoulder is 160 million parasangs. From His right arm to His left arm is 120 million parasangs. His arms are folded. The fingers on each of His hands are 150 million parasangs, each finger 30 million. His palms are each 40 million parasangs. His toes are 100 million parasangs, each one 200 million. Therefore He is called ‘the great, mighty, and awesome God (Deuteronomy 10:17).’ ‘But then Metatron told me how to calculate the parasangs. What is their measure? Each parasang is three miles, each mile is 10,000 cubits, each cubit is two spans—measured according to God’s span, which spans the entire universe’” (Shi’ur Qomah, translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 74-75; cf. Isaiah 40:12; BT Berakhot 7a).

“A אַמָּה (ammah), cubit [lit., arm], is the measure of the body in four directions and up and down, making six cubits. And each arm has three joints, making eighteen joints in the six cubits, being the secret of the eighteen wavings with the lulav in six directions, three in each direction. Of them it is said: קוֹמָתֵךְ (Qomatekh), Your stature, is like a palm tree (Song of Songs 7:8). And this is the שִׁיעוּר קוֹמָה (shi’ur qomah), measure of the stature [or: body], the מִקְוֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל (Miqveh Yisra’el), Gathering of Israel (Jeremiah 14:8)” (Zohar 3:228a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).