A son honors his father, and a slave his master, but if I am a father, where is My honor, and if I am a master, where is the fear of Me? (Malachi 1:2–6).
“Rabbi Eli’ezer’s disciples asked him: Rabbi what is קַדֶּשׁ לִי כָל בְּכוֹר (qadesh li khal bekhor), Consecrate Me [with] every firstborn (Exodus 13:2)—is the blessed Holy One a firstborn?! He said to them: Indeed, קַדֶּשׁ לִי כַּלְבְּכוֹר (qadesh li ka-le-bekhor), Consecrate Me like a firstborn—except that we become consecrated and named after Israel, as is written, My son, My firstborn, Israel (ibid. 4:22). He was with them, as it were, in the time of bondage, as is written, Send off My son that he may worship Me (ibid., 23)—not My firstborn” (Bahir §104, cf. Rabbenu Baḥya ben Asher on Exodus 4:22).
“He who withholds בָּר (bar), grain, לְאוֹם (le’om), the nation, will curse him (Proverbs 11:26)—He who prevents בָּר (bar), a son, as has been said, יִקְּבֻהוּ לְאֵם (yiqqevuhu la-’em), they will curse him to the Mother (ibid.). What is meant by yiqqevuhu? As is said: וַיִּקּוֹב בֶּן הָאִשָּׁה הַיִּשְׂרְאֵלִית (va-yiqqov ben ha-ishah ha-yisre’elit), The son of the Israelite woman pronounced, the Name (Leviticus 24:11). Here, too, yiqqevuhu, they will designate him—specifying la-’em, to the Mother, detailing his sins to the Holy Mother [יִקְּבֻהוּ לְאוֹם (yiqqevuhu le’om), the nation will curse him—the singular noun le’om (the nation) is preceded by the plural verb yiqqevuhu (they will curse him). Actually, this is grammatically acceptable since the noun le’om is collective; but the yanuqa (child) insists pedantically that either the verb should be singular—יִקְּבֻהוּ (yiqqevehu), it will curse him—or the noun should be plural: יִקְּבֻהוּ לְאוּמִים (yiqqevuhu le’umim), nations will curse him].
But there will be blessing on the head of the provider—on the person who trains his son to bless the blessed Holy One, and trains him in the commandments of Torah. Mystery of the matter is written in the mystery above: What is his name, and what is the name of his son, if you know? (Proverbs 30:4). That name is well-known: YHWH Tseva’ot is His name (Isaiah 47:4). The name of his son—Israel is His name, as is written: My son, My ﬁrstborn, is Israel (Exodus 4:22). All the keys of faith dangle from this Israel, and He gloriﬁes Himself, saying, YHWH said to me, ‘You are My son’ (Psalms 2:7). Certainly so, for Father and Mother have crowned Him and blessed Him with many blessings, and commanded all: Kiss the בַר (var), son (ibid., 12)—kiss the hand of this Son. He has, as it were, been given dominion over all, so that all will serve Him” (Zohar 3:191b, Yanuqa).
“The first commandment: the primary beginning of all the commandments is to know the blessed Holy One in general. What is meant by ‘in general’? To know that there is a supreme power who is Master of the Universe, and created all worlds—heaven and earth and all their forces. This is the meaning of ‘in general.’ The end of all—‘in particular’; to know Him in particular.
General and particular are beginning and end, mystery of male and female as one. Consequently, the human being in this world comprises general and particular; the restoration of this world is general and particular. So, the beginning of all is to know that there is a ruler and judge over the world, and that He is Master of all worlds, and created the human being from dust, and blew into his nostrils the soul-breath of life. This is the meaning of ‘in general terms.’
When Israel left Egypt, they did not know the blessed Holy One [cf. Zohar 1:157b; 2:161a, 198b]. When Moses came to them, the first commandment that he taught them was as is written: and you shall know that I am YHWH your God—who takes you out… (Exodus 6:7). Were it not for this commandment, Israel would not have believed in all those miracles and mighty deeds that He performed for them in Egypt. As soon as they knew this commandment in general terms, miracles and mighty deeds were performed for them.
At the end of forty years, during which they engaged in all those commandments of Torah that Moses taught them—both those performed in the land and those performed outside the land—he then taught them in particular terms, as is written: Know today and take to your heart (Deuteronomy 4:39)—today precisely, what they were not permitted beforehand; that יְהוָה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים (Adonai hu ha-Elohim), YHWH is the God (ibid.)—in particular terms. Countless mysteries and secrets inhere in this statement! This and the one preceding are entirely a single matter—that in general, this is particular [in rabbinic literature, the two names represent the divine qualities of compassion and justice, respectively. See Sifrei, Deuteronomy 26; Bereshit Rabbah 12:15; 33:3; and 13:3, where יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (YHWH Elohim) is called ‘a complete name.’ Cf. Zohar 1:12a, 91a; 2:26b, 161a–b; 3:65a; ZḤ 70d (ShS)].
Now, you might say, ‘But look at what is written: The awe of YHWH is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7)!’ This refers to in particular terms: to know who awe of YHWH is [i.e., Malkhut]. And even though a person must be in awe of Him before he knows, nevertheless here is written beginning of knowledge—to know Him; for this is the beginning of knowing Him in particular terms [cf. Zohar 1:11b–12a].
So, the first commandment is to know the blessed Holy One in general and in particular, beginning and end. This is the mystery of I am the first and I am the last (Isaiah 44:6). I am the first—in general; and I am the last—in particular. All a single totality, one mystery.
Once one knows this in general, he should perfect all his limbs. What are they? The 248 commandments, which are the 248 limbs of the human being! Once perfected thus in general, he should know in particular terms—total healing—knowing all the days of the year, which unite to bestow healing to all the limbs.
Now, you might say, ‘How do all the days of the year bestow healing to all the limbs?’ Certainly it is so, above and below! The year and its days bestow healing to all the limbs above. When the limbs pour down blessings to the days of the year, healing and life loom above them on high, and they are filled with all. Who brings this about? The days of the year! Similarly below: when a person perfects his body through mitsvot of Torah, you cannot find a single day that does not come to be blessed through him; and when they are blessed through him, life and healing loom above him on high. Who brings this about? Those days of the year! Just as the days of the year are blessed from on high from the mystery of the human being, so are they blessed from below from the mystery of the human being.
Happy are Israel in this world through these mitsvot of Torah, for they are called ‘human,’ as is written: you are human (Ezekiel 34:31)! You are called human, but the other nations are not called human. And because Israel are called human they must engage in the mitsvot of Torah, so that all will be one in the mystery of the human [see BT Yevamot 60b–61a; Bava Metsi’a 114b; Karetot 6b].
When the blessed Holy One gave the Torah to Israel upon Mount Sinai, the first utterance was אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I am (Exodus 20:2). Anokhi engenders many mysteries. Here it pertains to the mystery of the first commandment—to know him in general [cf. Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 12:24]. For it is written: Anokhi, I am—intimating that there is a god, a supreme power of the world—the first commandment, in general. In particular—for it is written: YHWH your God (ibid.)—particular. I am—general; YHWH your God—particular; general and particular. The first commandment: one must know beginning and end, as we have established” (Zohar 2:25a–b, Piqqudin).
“The second commandment: to serve with all kinds of service in the Temple, and outside the Temple with all the rites called ‘service’—with prayer, striving after the commandments of Torah, for all is called ‘service’—like a servant striving after his master’s needs.
For Israel are called ‘servants,’ as is written: For Mine are the Children of Israel as servants, they are My servants (Leviticus 25:55). Why are they servants? For it is written: whom I brought out of the land of Egypt (ibid.). Accordingly, in the ten utterances, after I am YHWH your God (Exodus 20:2), it is written: who brought you out of the land of Egypt (ibid.)—to serve Him like a servant serving his master, who redeemed him from death, redeeming him from all the evils of the world [cf. Rashi on Numbers 15:41; Mekhilta, Baḥodesh 5; Zohar 2:40a. On the ransom paid to death, see Psalms 49:16; Zohar 3:178a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Qoraḥ].
By these two [designations] are Israel called by the blessed Holy One: they are called ‘servants,’ as is written, they are My servants (Leviticus 25:55); and they are called ‘sons,’ as is written, You are sons of YHWH your God (Deuteronomy 14:1). When a person knows the blessed Holy One in general terms, he is called ‘servant,’ for he carries out his Master’s command—but he is not permitted to search among His treasures or the mysteries of His house. When a person knows the blessed Holy One in particular terms he is called ‘son,’ His beloved—like a son who searches among His treasures, among all the mysteries of His house.
Even though he is called ‘son,’ firstborn of the blessed Holy One, as is said, My son, My firstborn, is Israel (Exodus 4:22), he must not remove himself from the category of ‘servant’—serving his Father with all the rites that are the honor due his Father. So is required by every person: to be a son to his Father, searching among His treasures, to know the mysteries of His house, striving after them; and to be a servant to his Father.
Mystery of the matter: there are two rungs above with which a person must be adorned; they are a mystery of faith, and they are one: One—mystery of servant; the other—mystery of son. This servant is called lord of all the earth (Joshua 3:11); the son, as we have established, My son, My firstborn, is Israel; all is a single mystery of faith. A person must be adorned with these rungs, to be enveloped in the mystery of faith.
As servant—to serve with all kinds of service, with prayer called ‘service,’ like this Servant—supernal mystery—never ever resting, but praising and singing always. This applies to other acts of service, for She performs and administers all the services and affairs of the worlds; and for this reason She is called lord—for She is a servant to serve, called lord of all the earth. A person who is adorned with this mystery—becoming a servant to serve the service of his Lord—ascends and is crowned, attaining this rung, and is also called ‘lord of all the earth’; for he effectuates blessings to this world through all those acts of service, sustaining it, and he is called ‘lord of all the earth’ accordingly.
Happy is the share of the son, striving to fathom his Father’s treasures and all the mysteries of His house; like an only child granted dominion by his father over all his treasures—honored, for he is in command of all! One who delves into wisdom to fathom the blessed Holy One and His treasures is called a son of the blessed Holy One. Among all the heavenly forces none hinders him whenever he needs to enter to his Father. Happy is his share in all worlds! Accordingly, when he strives to fathom Him in particular terms—in the mystery of wisdom—he is called ‘son.’
In the service rendered by a person to the blessed Holy One, there is an act of service in which a person must incorporate both—being servant and son, to be adorned by the blessed Holy One. What is that? The service of prayer, in which a person must be servant and son, to be embraced by these supernal rungs: serving and arraying prayer in the mystery of the servant, performing the service of the restoration of worlds; and attaching his will to mysteries of wisdom, cleaving to his Lord through supernal mysteries in the mystery of the son; and all in a single totality. Happy is the share of the person who knows to adorn himself with supernal mysteries, as is fitting!
A son cleaves to his Father always, without any separation at all; none hinders him. A servant performs the service of his Master, arranging arrangements of the world. He who possesses both in one totality, in a single nexus, is the person who arrays the mystery of all faith in one entirety—without any separation at all, uniting all as one. This is the person about whom the blessed Holy One proclaims among all the legions and camps of all worlds, throughout all firmaments, ‘Show care for so-and-so, trustee of the palace! The mystery of the palace and the treasures of his Lord are in his hand!’ Happy is he in this world, and happy is he in the world that is coming!
From that day on, that person is recognized and recorded in all worlds. Whenever he requires, all supernal legions and camps are mindful to be with him; and the blessed Holy One desires none but him alone. A voice arouses, ‘It is fitting for the Unique to be with the unique; Unique engaging with unique! [cf. BT Pesaḥim 118a; Midrash Tehillim 117:3].
We have found the mystery of these two rungs in one verse, as is written: he said to me, ‘You are My servant, Israel, in whom I glory‘ (Isaiah 49:3). He said to me, ‘You are My servant—servant; Israel—son; for when they are a single totality, then is written in whom I glory” (Zohar 3:111b–112a, Piqqudin).
“As one says: Clinging to the King clingingly comes through His Son” (Zohar 2:147a).