The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: אֲצִילוּת

Body and Soul; The Wisdom of Kabbalah and Philosophy by Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag (Ba’al ha-Sullam)

Ba'al ha-Sullam PortraitBody and Soul

Before I clarify this exalted matter, it is important for me to note that although all the readers seem to consider it impossible to clarify and bring such a matter closer to the human mind, except by relying on abstract, philosophical concepts, as is usually the case with such scrutinies. Since the day I discovered the wisdom of Kabbalah and dedicated myself to it, I have distanced myself from abstract philosophy and all its branches as far as the east is from the west. Everything I write is from a purely empirical perspective, in utter precision, and by means of simple recognition of practical things.

Although I will make mention of their words below, it is only to indicate the difference between what the human mind can imagine and what can be understood using the concepts of Torah and prophecy, which are based on practical foundations, as I have shown in Mahutah shel Ḥokhmat ha-Qabbalah (The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah).

I would also like to thoroughly clarify the terms “body” and “soul” as they truly are, since truth and a sound mind are one and the same. This is because the truth is available to anyone, but only by the spirit of the holy Torah, and by removing every distorted concept that has taken root among people. These are mostly taken from abstract methods from which the spirit of our Holy Torah is far removed.

Three methods in the concept of “body” and “soul”

In general, we find that the methods which abound in the world concerning the concepts of body and soul can be gathered into three methods:

Faith

The method of faith argues that all that exists is spirit, or the soul. They believe that there are spiritual objects separated from one another by quality. They are called “souls of people,” and they exist independently, prior to clothing in a human body. Afterwards, when the body dies, death does not apply to it, since a spiritual object is a simple object. In their view, death is but a separation of the elements comprising the object.

This is possible with physical objects, comprised of several elements which death disintegrates but the spiritual soul, which is an utterly simple object, lacking any complexity, cannot be separated in any way, as this separation would annul its existence. Hence, the soul is eternal and exists forever.

The body, as they understand it, is like a garment over this immaterial object. The immaterial soul clothes in it and employs it to manifest its forces: the good qualities and every kind of concept. Also, it provides the body with life and motion and guards it from harm. Thus, the body itself is lifeless, motionless, and contains nothing but dead matter, as we see once the soul departs—when it dies—and all the signs of life that we see in human bodies are but manifestations of the soul’s powers.

Duality

Those who believe in duality think of the body as a discrete creation [i.e., Cartesian Dualism, see Descartes, Meditations]. Standing, living, nourishing, and safekeeping its existence with all that is required, it does not need any assistance from any immaterial substance.

Yet, the body is not considered man’s essence. Man’s essence is the perceiving soul, which is an immaterial substance, as in the view of the followers of the first method.

The difference between these two methods is only in the concept of the body. Following the extensive developments in physiology and psychology, they have found that providence has provided for all of life’s needs within the machine of the body itself. This, in their view, restricts the role of the soul’s function in the body solely to concepts and virtues of the spiritual kind. Thus, while they believe in duality, in both methods together, they say that the soul is the reason for the body, meaning that the body is a result, emanating from the soul.

Skepticism

The method of the skeptics acknowledges the material only. Supporters of this method completely deny the existence of any kind of abstract immaterial substance within the body [i.e., “the ghost in the machine,” see Ryle, The Concept of Mind]. They have evidently proven that man’s mind, too, is but a product of the body, and they depict the body as an electronic machine with wires that stretch from the body to the brain, and operate by encounters with external things.

Also, they send their sensations of pain or pleasure to the brain, and the brain instructs the organ what to do. Everything is run by wires and cords built for this task. They move the organ away from sources of pain and towards sources of pleasure. Thus, they clarify all of man’s conclusions from life’s events.

Also, what we sense as concepts and rationalities within our minds are but images of material occurrences within the body. And man’s pre-eminence over all animals is that our minds are developed to such an extent that all the body’s events are depicted in our brains as images that we experience as concepts and rationalities.

Thus, the mind and all its deductions are but products extending from events of the body. In addition, there are proponents of the second method who completely agree with this method, but add the immaterial, eternal substance to it, called “the soul that inheres within the machine of the body.” This soul is man’s essence, and the machine of the body is but its garment. Thus, I have laid out in general terms all that human wisdom has thus far contrived in the concepts of גוּף (guf), body, and נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), soul.

The empirical meaning of “body” and “soul” according to our holy Torah

Now I shall explain this exalted matter according to our holy Torah, as our sages have explained it to us. I have already written in several places that there is not a single word of our sages, not even in the prophetic wisdom of Kabbalah, that relies on a theoretical basis. This is so because it is a known fact that man is naturally doubtful, and each conclusion that the human mind deems certain, it deems uncertain after some time. Hence, one doubles the efforts of his study and invents another inference and declares that as certain.

But if one is a genuine student [of human wisdom], he will walk in circles all his life, since yesterday’s certainty has become today’s uncertainty, and today’s certainty will be tomorrow’s uncertainty. Thus, it is impossible to determine any definite conclusions for more than a day.

The revealed and the hidden

The science of our time has come to understand this development and has determined that there is no absolute certainty in reality. Yet, our sages arrived at this conclusion several thousand years earlier. Hence, concerning religious matters, they have guided and forbidden us to not only refrain from drawing any conclusions based on theory, but even prohibited us from being assisted by such theories, even by way of negotiation.

Our sages divided the wisdom in two: נִגְלֶה (nigleh), revealed, and נִסתָר (nistar), hidden. The revealed part contains everything we know from our immediate consciousness, as well as the concepts built upon practical experience, without any assistance from scrutiny, as our sages said, “A judge has only what his eyes see” (BT Sanhedrin 6b).

The hidden part contains all those matters we have heard from trusted people or have acquired by ourselves through general understanding and perception of them. However, we cannot sufficiently approach it so as to critique it with a healthy mind, with straightforward understanding. And this is regarded as hidden, where we were advised to accept matters on simple trust. And with all that concerns religion, we have been strictly forbidden to even gaze at matters that could arouse us to scrutinize and study them.

Yet, these names, “revealed” and “hidden,” are not permanent names, applying to a certain kind of knowledge, as the uneducated think. Rather, they apply only to human consciousness. Thus, one refers to all those concepts he has already discovered and has come to know through actual experience as “revealed,” and regards all the concepts that are yet to be recognized in this way as “hidden.”

Thus, throughout the generations, all people have these two divisions. The revealed part is permitted for study and research, as it relies on a true basis, and the hidden part is forbidden to even a shred of doubt, since one has no real basis there.

Employing human wisdom: permitted and forbidden

Hence, we who follow in the footsteps of our sages are not permitted to employ human wisdom, except empirical knowledge, and in whose validity we have no doubt. Therefore, we cannot accept any religious principle from the above three methods. All the more so concerning concepts of “body” and “soul,” which are fundamental concepts and the subject of religion as a whole. We can only accept knowledge derived from the teaching of life itself, take from experience which none can doubt.

Clearly, such a proof cannot be found in anything immaterial, but only in something material, set up for perception by the senses. Hence, we are permitted to use the third method [of the skeptics] to an extant. It engages only in matters of the body, in all those deductions that have been proven by experiments, and which no one doubts. The rest of the concepts, which combine the logic of their method and other methods, are forbidden to us. One who uses them breaches, Do not turn to the idols (Leviticus 19:4).

Yet, this third method is foreign and loathsome to the human spirit. There is hardly any truly educated person who is able to accept it. This is so because according to them, man’s human image has been erased and has vanished. Man has been made into a machine that acts and goes about according to other forces. According to them, man has no free choice whatsoever, but is rather compelled by nature’s forces, and all his actions are compulsory. Hence, man has no reward or punishment, since no judgment, punishment, or reward apply to one who has no free will.

Such a thing is utterly unthinkable, and not only for the religious, who believe in reward and punishment, since believing in His providence, that all of nature’s forces are guided by Him, assures them that everything has a good and desirable cause. Yet, this method is even stranger in the eyes of the non-religious, who believe that everyone is given to the hands of a blind, mindless, and aimless nature. These intelligent ones are like toys in its hands, led astray, and who knows where? Hence, this method has become despised and unaccepted in the world.

But you should know that the method of those who conceive duality came only to correct this aforementioned error. For this reason, they have decided that the body, which is but a machine according to the third method, is not at all the authentic human. Man’s true essence is something altogether different—invisible and imperceptible to the senses. It is an immaterial substance, clothed and hidden within the body. This is man’s “self,” the “I.” The body and everything within it are considered possessions of that eternal and immaterial “I,” as they have written.

Yet, by their own admission, this method is lame, since they cannot explain how an immaterial substance, being the soul or the “self,” can move the body or decide anything concerning it. This is because following philosophical precision itself, the spiritual has no contact whatsoever with the physical. It has absolutely no impact on it, as they have written themselves.

The accusation against Maimonides

Yet, even without this question, their method would have been forbidden among Israel, as we have explained above. It is important to know that the entire accusation against Maimonides by the sages of Israel and the harsh judgment to burn his books, were not because they had any doubt of the righteousness and piousness of Maimonides himself. Rather, it was only because he used philosophy and metaphysics, which were at their peak at the time, as assistance in his books. Maimonides wished to save them from it, yet the sages did not agree with him.

Needless to say, today our generation has already recognized that metaphysical philosophy contains no real content upon which it is worthwhile to spend one’s time. Hence, it is certainly forbidden for anyone to take any spices from their words.

The Wisdom of Kabbalah and Philosophy

What is spirituality?

Philosophy has gone through a great deal of trouble to prove that the physical is the offspring of the metaphysical, and that the soul generates the body. Still, their words are unacceptable to the heart in any manner. Their primary mistake is their erroneous  view of spirituality since they postulate that the metaphysical fathered the physical, which is certainly a lie.

For any parent must, somehow, resemble its child. This relation is the path and route by which its offspring emanates. In addition, every agent must have some agency by which to reach it. Since they say that spirituality is denied any physical occurrence, then such a path does not exist, nor any means by which the spiritual can contact and set it into motion.

However, understanding the meaning of the word רוּחָנִיוּת (ruḥaniut), “spirituality,” has nothing to do with philosophy. This is because how can they discuss something that they have never seen or felt? What does their foundation stand on?

If there is any definition that can tell the spiritual from the physical it belongs only to those who have attained a spiritual thing and sensed it and these are the authentic kabbalists. Thus, it is the wisdom of Kabbalah that we need.

Philosophy with regard to His essence

Philosophy loves to occupy itself with His essence and prove which laws do not apply to Him. However, Kabbalah has no dealings with this whatsoever, for how can the unattainable and imperceptible be defined? Indeed, a negative definition is just as relevant as a positive definition. For if you see an object from a distance and apprehend its negatives, meaning all that it is not, that, too, is considered seeing or some degree of apprehension. If an object is truly out of sight even its negative qualities are not apparent.

For example, if we perceive a black form from a distance, but can still determine that it is neither human nor bird, this is considered vision. If it be farther still, we would be unable to determine that it is not human.

This is the cause of their confusion and irrelevance. Philosophy prides itself on understanding all the negatives about His essence [see Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 1:58]. However, here the sages of Kabbalah put their hand to their mouth, and do not give Him even a simple name, for we do not define by name or word that which we do not attain [cf. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason]. That is because a word designates some degree of attainment. However, kabbalists do speak a great deal about His illumination in reality, meaning all those illuminations they have actually attained, as legitimate as tangible attainment (in my opinion, philosophy has generally worn a mantle that it does not own, for it has stolen definitions from the wisdom of Kabbalah, and made delicacies with human understanding. Had it not been for that, they would never have conjured such fabrications).

The spiritual is a force without a body

That is what kabbalists define as “spirituality” and that is what they talk about. It has no form, space, time or any physical value. However, it is only a potential force, meaning a force that is not clothed in a material body, but rather a force without a body.

A spiritual vessel is called a force

Here we must note that in spirituality the concept of a force does not refer to the light itself. Since this light is immaterial it emanates directly from His essence, blessed be He, and if so is the same as His essence. This means that we have no perception or attainment of this light that we can define by name. Even the word, אוֹר (or), “light,” is borrowed and is not [actually] true. Thus, we must know that the word כֹּחַ (koa), “force,” without a body, refers specifically to a כְּלִי רוּחָנִי (keli ruḥani), “immaterial vessel.”

Lights and vessels

Therefore, we must not inquire how the sages of the Kabbalah, which fill the entire wisdom with their insights, differentiate between the various lights. Since these observations do not refer to the lights themselves, but to the impression of the vessel, being the aforementioned force, which is affected by its encounter with the light.

Vessels and lights

Here we must add the distinction between the gift and the love that it engenders. The lights, meaning the impression on the vessel, which is detectable, is called צוּרָה וְחוֹמֶר (tsurah ve-ḥomer), “form and matter” together. The impression, she is the form and the aforementioned force, he is the matter.

However, the love that is engendered is considered צוּרָה בְּלִי חוֹמֶר (tsurah beli ḥomer), “form without matter.” In other words, if we strip the love from a gift, as though it was never clothed in any gift, but only in the abstract designation, “love of the blessed Holy One,” then it is regarded as form and it belongs to the formative Kabbalah. However, unlike formative philosophy it still concerns what is real since the spirit of love remains in the attainment, completely abstracted from the gift, which is the light itself.

Matter and form in Kabbalah

The reason is that although love is merely a result of the gift, it is still far more important than the gift itself. It is like a great king who gives something insignificant to someone. Although the gift itself is worthless, the love and attention of the king make it priceless and precious. Thus, it is completely abstracted from the matter—the light and the gift—so that the whole affair remains engraved only in the attainment of love itself, while the gift is forgotten from the heart. Therefore, this aspect of the wisdom is called חָכְמַת הַקְבָלָה הַצוּרָתִית (ḥakhmat ha-qabbalah ha-tsuratit), the formative wisdom of Kabbalah, and it is the most important part of the wisdom.

אבי״ע (ABiYA)

This love consists of four parts, similar to human love: when we first receive a gift, we do not call the giver of the gift one who loves us, all the more so if the giver of the gift is important and the receiver is not equal to him.

However, the persistence of many gifts will make even the most important person seem like a true and equal lover, since the law of love does not exist between great and small, as two true lovers must feel equal.

Thus, you may gauge four rungs of love. The incident is called עֲשִׂיָה (assiyah), Actualization, the repetition of gift giving is called יְצִירָה (yetsirah), Formation, and the appearance of the love itself is called בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), Creation.

It is here that the study of the formative wisdom of Kabbalah begins, for it is with this rung that love is abstracted from the gifts. This is the meaning of [I form light,and create darkness (Isaiah 45:7), meaning the light is removed from Yetsirah and the love remains without light, without its gifts.

Then comes אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation. After one has tasted and entirely stripped the form from the matter, as is written, and create darkness, he becomes worthy of ascending to the rung of Atsilut, where form clothes matter once more, meaning light and love together.

The origin of the soul

Everything spiritual is perceived as a separate force from the body because it has no physical form. However, due to this, it remains isolated and completely separate from the physical. If so, how can it set anything material in motion, much less generate anything physical, when it has no means of coming in contact with the physical?

The acidic element

However, the truth is that the force itself is actually considered matter as well, just as any physical matter in the material world, and the fact that it has no form that the human senses can perceive does not reduce the importance of the substance, which is the “force.”

For example, take a molecule of oxygen, which most substances in the world are composed of. Yet, if you have a bottle with pure oxygen you will find that it seems as though the bottle is totally empty, and you are unable to discern anything of it, as intangible air invisible to the eye.

If we remove the lid and smell it, we find no scent; if we taste it, we find no flavor; and if we put it on a scale, it will not weigh more than the empty bottle. The same applies to hydrogen, which is tasteless, odorless, and weightless too.

However, when putting these two elements together, they immediately become a liquid—drinking water that possesses both taste and weight. If we put the water inside active lime, immediately it mixes with it and becomes as solid as the lime itself.

Thus, the elements, oxygen and hydrogen, in which there is no tangibility whatsoever, become a solid. Therefore, how can we define natural forces as not being material substance just because they are not arranged in such a way that our senses can perceive them? Moreover, we can evidently see that most of the tangible materials in our world originally consist of the element of oxygen, which the human senses cannot sense and perceive!

Moreover, even in material reality, solid and liquid, which we perceive vividly in our world, can turn to smoke or vapor at a certain temperature. Likewise, vapors may turn to solids when the temperature drops.

And if so, one wonders how does something give that which it does not possess? For we have clearly seen that all material forms are derived from elements that are in and of themselves intangible, and do not exist as material in and of themselves. Likewise, all the fixed pictures that we know and use to define materials are inconsistent and do not exist in their own right. Rather, they only clothe and unclothe in forms under the influence of conditions such as heat or cold.

However, the essence of material substance is the force in it, though we are not yet able to tell these forces apart, as with chemical elements. Perhaps in the future they will be discovered in their pure form, as we have only recently discovered the chemical elements.

Equal force in spiritual and physical

In a word: all the names that we ascribe substances are imagined, that is they come from our five senses. They do not exist in and of themselves. On the other hand, any definition we ascribe to the force which abstracts it from the material, is also imagined. Even when science reaches its pinnacle, we still must regard only material reality. This means that any physical action we sense, we must perceive its actor which is also material, like the action itself. There is a correlation between them, or they would not have come to it.

We must realize that this erroneous separating of the actor from the action originates in formative philosophy, which insisted on proving that a spiritual action causes a physical action. This resulted in mistaken conclusions such as the above, which Kabbalah has no need for.

Body and soul of the supernal ones

The opinion of Kabbalah on this matter is crystal clear, without any admixture of philosophy. Since in the minds of the kabbalists, even spiritual, abstract, conceptual entities, which philosophy denies having any material reality and portrays as purely conceptual substance, although they are indeed spiritual, sublime and abstract, they still consist of a body and soul, just like the physical human being.

Therefore, you need not wonder how two can win the prize and say that they are complex. Furthermore, philosophy believes that anything complex will eventually disintegrate and decompose, meaning die. Thus, how can one declare that they are both complex and eternal?

Lights and vessels

Indeed, their thoughts are not our thoughts, for the way of the sages of the Kabbalah is one of discovering actual proof of attainment, making its intellectual refutation impossible. But let me make these matters clear for everyone’s understanding.

First, we must know that the difference between lights and vessels is understood immediately with the first emanated being from Ein Sof. Naturally, the first emanation is also the most complete and purer than everything which follows it. It is certain that it receives this pleasantness and completeness from His essence, which wishes to grant it every pleasantness and pleasure.

It is known that the degree of the pleasure is essentially the desire to receive it. That is because what we most want to receive feels as the most pleasurable. Because of this, we should discern two aspects in this first emanation: the desire to receive the essence and the received essence itself.

We should also know that the desire to receive is what we perceive as the “body” of the emanated, meaning its primary essence, being the vessel to receive His goodness. The second is the essence of the good that is received, His light, which is eternally emanated to the emanation.

It follows that we necessarily distinguish two aspects that clothe one another even in the most sublime spiritual that the heart can conceive. It is the opposite of the opinion of philosophy, which postulates that abstract entities are not complex materials. It is necessary that that desire to receive which necessarily exists in the emanated (for without it there would be no pleasure but rather coercion, and no sensation of pleasure) is absent in His essence. This is the reason for the name הַנֶאֱצָל (ha-ne’etsal), “the emanated,” since it is no longer His essence, for from whom would He receive?

However, the bounty that it receives is necessarily a part of His essence, for here there need not be any innovation. Thus, we see the great difference between the generated body and the received abundance, which is deemed His essence.

How can spiritual generate physical?

It is seemingly difficult to understand how the spiritual can generate and emanate anything material. This question is an ancient philosophical problem for which much ink has been spilt attempting to resolve.

The truth is that this question is a difficult one only if one follows their method. That is because they have defined spirituality without a connection to anything material [i.e., metaphysics]. That produces a difficult question: how can the spiritual lead to or generate anything material?

But it is the view of the sages of Kabbalah that this is not difficult at all, for their terms are the complete opposite to those of philosophers. They maintain that any spiritual quality equalizes with the physical quality like two drops in a pond. Thus, the relationships are of the utmost affinity and there is no separation between them, except in the substance: the spiritual consists of a spiritual substance and the physical consists of a physical substance.

However, all the qualities in spiritual materials abide in physical materials too, as explained in the article, The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah.

The old philosophy presents three opinions as obstacles before my explanation: The first is their deciding that the power of the human intellect is the eternal soul, man’s essence [cf. Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, 3:27]. The second is their conjecture that the body is a product of the soul. The third is their saying that spiritual entities are simple objects and not complex.

Materialistic Psychology

Not only is it the wrong place to argue with them about their speculations, but also the time of supporters of such views has already passed and their authority revoked. We should also thank the experts of materialistic psychology for that, which built its foundation on the ruin of the former, winning the public’s favor. Now everyone admits to the irrelevance of philosophy, for it is not built on solid foundations [materialist psychologists generally agree that consciousness (the mind) is the function of the brain. Mental processes can be identified with purely physical processes in the central nervous system, and that human beings are just complicated physiological organisms, no more than that. Some identify Rabbi Ashlag’s “materialistic psychology” with Freudian theory, see Garb, Yearnings of the Soul, p. 109].

This old method became a stumbling block and a deadly thorn to the sages of Kabbalah because where they should have subdued themselves before the sages of Kabbalah, and assumed restraint and skepticism, holiness, and purity before the sages revealed to them even the tiniest thing in spirituality, they easily received what they had wanted from formative philosophy. Without payment or price, they watered them from their fountain of wisdom to satiation, and refrained from delving in the wisdom of Kabbalah until the wisdom has almost been forgotten from among Israel. Hence, we are grateful to materialistic psychology for handing it a deadly blow.

I am Solomon

The above is much like a legend that our sages tell: Asmodeus drove King Solomon four hundred parsas from Jerusalem and left Him with no money and means of sustenance. Then he sat in King Solomon’s throne while the king was begging at door ways. Every place he went, he said: “I am Qohelet!” but none believed him. And so he went from town to town declaring, “I am Solomon!” But when he came to the Sanhedrin they said: “A fool does not utter the same foolishness all the time, saying, ‘I was once a king’” [see JT Sanhedrin 2:6; Pesiqta de-Rav Kahane (Buber), 169a; Tanḥuma (Buber), 3:55; Qohelet Rabbah 2:2]. 

It seems as though the name is not the essence of a person, but rather the owner of the name is [cf. BT Berakhot 7b; Bahir §80-§81; Zohar 1:60a; 2:179b]. Therefore, how can a wise man such as Solomon not be recognized if he is indeed the owner of the name? Moreover, it is the person that dignifies the name and he should display his wisdom!

Three preventions

There are three reasons that prevent us from knowing the owner of a name: Because of its profundity, the wisdom becomes clear only when all its details appear together. Therefore, before one knows the entire wisdom, it is impossible to see even a fraction of it. Thus, it is the publicity of its truth that we need, so as to have enough belief in it prior to making a great effort.

Just as Asmodeus, the demon, wore the clothes of King Solomon and inherited his throne, philosophy sat on the throne of Kabbalah with easier concepts to grasp, for a lie is quickly accepted. Therefore, there is a twofold trouble here: first, the wisdom of truth is profound and arduous, while philosophy is false and easily grasped; and second, it is [considered] superfluous, because philosophy is quite satisfying.

As the demon claims that King Solomon is mad, philosophy mocks and dismisses Kabbalah. However, as long as wisdom is sublime, it is elevated above the people and separated from it. Because he was the wisest man, he was also higher than every man. Thus, the finest scholars could not understand him, except those friends, meaning the Sanhedrin, whom he taught his wisdom to every day for days and years. They are the ones who understood him and publicized his name in the entire world.

The reason for it is that minor wisdom is perceived in five minutes, and is thus attainable by anyone and can be easily publicized. However, a weighty concept will not be understood in less than several hours. It may even take days or years, depending on the intelligence. Accordingly, the greatest scholars will be understood only by a selected few in the generation, since profound concepts are founded on much prior knowledge.

It is therefore not surprising that the wisest of all men, who was exiled to a place where he was not known, could not demonstrate his wisdom or even show a hint of his wisdom before they believed that he was the owner of the name.

It is the same with the wisdom of Kabbalah in our time: the troubles and the exile that have come upon us have caused us to forget it (and if there are people who do engage in it, it is not in its favor, but rather harms it, for they did not receive it from a kabbalist sage). Hence, in this generation, it is like King Solomon in exile, declaring, “I am the wisdom, and all the flavors of religion and Torah are with me,” yet none believed it.

But this is perplexing, for if it is a genuine wisdom, can it not display itself like all other wisdoms? It cannot. As King Solomon could not display his wisdom to the scholars at the place of his exile and had to come to Jerusalem, the place of the Sanhedrin, who studied and knew King Solomon, and attested to the depth of his wisdom, so it is with the wisdom of Kabbalah: it requires great sages who examine their hearts to study it for twenty or thirty years. Only then will they be able to attest for it.

And as King Solomon could not prevent Asmodeus from sitting on his throne, pretending to be him until he arrived in Jerusalem, sages of Kabbalah observe philosophic theology and complain that they have stolen the supernal shell of their wisdom, which Plato and his Greek predecessors had acquired while studying with the disciples of the prophets in the Land of Israel. They stole basic foundations of the wisdom of Israel and wore a mantle that is not theirs. To this day, philosophic theology sits on the throne of Kabbalah, being a slavegirl that is heir to her mistress (Proverbs 30:23).

And who would believe the sages of Kabbalah while others sit on their throne? It is as when they did not believe King Solomon in exile, for they knew him to be the demon Asmodeus sitting on his throne. As with King Solomon, it is hopeless that the truth be exposed, for the wisdom is deep and cannot be revealed by testimony or experimentation except to those believers that dedicate themselves to it with heart and soul.

Just as the Sanhedrin did not recognize King Solomon as long as the falsehood of Asmodeus was not apparent, Kabbalah cannot prove its true nature, and no revelations will suffice for the world to know it before the futility and falsehood of theological philosophy that has taken its throne becomes obvious.

Therefore, there was no such rescue for Israel as when materialistic psychology appeared and struck a lethal blow on the head of theological philosophy.

Now, every person who seeks the blessed Holy One must return Kabbalah to its throne and restore its former glory.

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Ten White Radiancies, Ten Sefirot: These Above Those

Add. 27006“Ten סְפִירוּת בְּלִי מָה (sefirot beli-mah), numerals of nothingness. Their measure is ten, yet infinite” (Sefer Yetsirah §1).

You shall surely tithe all the yield of your seed that comes out in the field year after year (Deuteronomy 14:22)—at all times you must reckon each of the rungs, ‘Ten and not nine, ten and not eleven’ (Sefer Yetsirah 1:4). Another explanation: עַשֵּׂר תְּעַשֵּׂר (Aser ta’aser), You shall surely tithe [lit., tithe you will tithe]. Why two times? Because here there is a deep and hidden mystery which the mouth cannot speak nor the ear hear. You already know that tithe alludes to ten lower [sefirot]. Until here I have permission to explain. If you are one of the enlightened, you will understand this great mystery with your fullest intellectual capacity and will surely not let it out of your mouth: Here below we give our tithes according to the supernal model—so that man imitate his Creator” (Rabbi David ben Yehudah ha-Ḥasid, The Book of Mirrors, 236:29–237:3, adapted from Matt, Sefer Mar’ot Ha-Zove’ot, p. 26, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 31a–b).

The things hidden are for YHWH our God and things revealed for us and for our children forever (Deuteronomy 29:28). Understand this verse by its inner sense, deep and sealed though it may be. For YHWH—the Cause of Causes, for all proclaim that they are His; each of the עֶשֶׂר צַחְצָחוֹת (eser tsaḥtsaḥot), ten white radiancies, that comprise אֲרִיך אַנְפִּין (arikh anpin), Elongated Countenance, form ten inner rungs. And for our children—ten that parallel ten rungs within supernal Keter who are not revealed but remain concealed and hidden, imperceptible to the inquirer. For they belong to the Cause of Causes, blessed be the glory of His name and His majesty forever. Therefore, the enlightened will understand and will remain silent for God, and he alone will see wonders from the holy Torah He gave us from His very own treasury” (Rabbi David ben Yehudah ha-Ḥasid, The Book of Mirrors, 252, adapted from Idel, “The Image of Man Above the Sefirot: R. David ben Yehuda he-Ḥasid’s theosophy of ten supernal ‘ṣaḥṣaḥot’ and its reverberations.” Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 20 [2009] p. 181–212).

“Come and see: How many hidden causes are clothed and conveyed by the sefirot! The sefirot are but chariots to them, for they are concealed from human thought. Of them is written: For he who is high has a higher one watching him, and still higher ones over them (Ecclesiastes 5:7)—נְהוֹרִין מְצוּחְצָחִין (nehorin metsuḥtsaḥin), glaring white lights, these above those, but those that are receptacles are darkness compared to the others above them. And their is no light that can exist before עִלַּת הָעִלּוֹת (illat ha-illot), the Cause of Causes, all lights are darkened before Him” (Zohar 1:23a, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

אבי״ע (ABiYA): Four Worlds

IMG_0436.JPG“Rabbi Bun also sat and expounded: What is the meaning of יוֹצֵר (Yotser), He forms, light and בוֹרֵא (vo’re), creates, darkness (Isaiah 45:7)? Light has substance. Therefore, יְצִירָה (yetsirah), formation, is used with regard to it. Darkness has no substance, therefore, with regard to it, בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), creation, is used. Similarly, it is written: יוֹצֵר (Yotser), He forms, mountains and בֹרֵא (vo’re), creates, the wind (Amos 4:13). Another explanation: Light was actually brought into existence, as is written, And God said, ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3). Something cannot be brought into existence unless it is עֲשִׂיָה (assiyah), actualized. יְצִירָה (Yetsirah), formation, is therefore used. In the case of darkness, however, there was no actualization, only separation and setting aside. It is for this reason that בָּרָא (bara), created, is used. It has the same sense as the expression, הִבְּרִיאָה פְּלוֹנִי (hiberi’ah ploni), so and so became healthy” (Bahir §13).

“The blessed Holy One created the human male and female, as is written, Male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27). Is it then possible to say this? Is it not written, And God created the human in his image, in the image of God He created him (Genesis 1:27)? It is only later written, [‘It is not good for the human to be alone,] I shall make him a sustainer beside him’ (Genesis 2:18), also, And He took one of the ribs and closed over the flesh where it had been (Genesis 2:21). But we must say that Torah employs יְצִירָה (yetsirah), Formation, and עֲשִׂיָה (assiyah), Actualization, and בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), Creation: when the נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul, was made, עָשַׂה (assah), actualize, is employed; Male and female He בָּרָא (bara), created, them; יְצִירָה (yetsirah), Formation, was used when the נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul, was combined with the body and the רוּחַ (ruaḥ), breath, was brought together. How do we know that יְצִירָה (yetsirah), Formation, means to gather? As is written, And YHWH God יִּצֶר (yitser), fashioned, from the soil each beast of the field and each fowl of the heavens and brought each to the human to see what he would call it (Genesis 2:19). This explains the verse, Male and female He created them (Genesis 5:2). It is also written, And God blessed them (Genesis 1:28)” (Bahir §198, cf. Guide of the Perplexed 2:30).

“It is written: He who בֹּרַאֲךָ (bora’akha), creates you, O Jacob; He who יֹצֶרְךָ (yotserkha), forms you, O Israel (Isaiah 43:1), and it is written: Thus says YHWH who עֹשֶׂךָ (osekha), makes you (Isaiah 43:2). All these rungs mount up to one, as they have established: creates, forms, makes—all of them rungs one above the other, and all are one” (Zohar 1:177b).

“On the side of Holiness, that אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), God, of truth, King over the world, is empowered by three elements: בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), Creation; יְצִירָה (yetsirah), Formation; and by עֲשִׂיָה (assiyah), Actualization. The mystery of each and every one is mentioned here. Corresponding to בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), Creation: He took from their hand (Exodus 32:4)—something that until now contained nothing at all. Corresponding to יְצִירָה (yetsirah), Formation: וַיָּצַר (va-yatsar), and he fashioned, it (ibid.). Corresponding to עֲשִׂיָה (assiyah), Actualization, וַיַּעֲשֵׂהוּ (va-ya’aseihu), and made it, into a molten calf (ibid.). Who has ever seen such sorcerers in the whole world!” (Zohar 2:192b).

“Like a king that sends a document with his seal, and the likeness of the king is embossed in the wax of the seal. The sefirot of אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation, are precisely the likeness of the King. The sefirot of בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), Creation, are the seal of the king, and the sefirot of יְצִירָה (yetsirah), Formation, are the angels which are the living beings, and they are the form of the seal in wax” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 3b).

Like a Hired Worker He Waits for His Pay

ImageLike a slave he pants for shade, like a hired worker he waits for his pay (Job 7:2).

“Antignos of Socho received the tradition from Shim’on the Righteous. He would say: Do not be as servants, who serve their master for the sake of reward. Rather, be as servants who serve their master not for the sake of reward. And the fear of Heaven should be upon you” (M Avot 1:3).

“Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] would say: Be as careful with a minor mitsvah as with a major one, for you do not know the rewards of the mitsvot. Consider the cost of a mitsvah against its rewards, and the rewards of a transgression against its cost” (M Avot 2:1).

“Son of Heh-Heh said: According to the effort is the reward” (M Avot 5:26).

“Many masters of study, colleagues of yours, nightly cry out contradictions in the Oral Torah, crying like dogs who say ‘hav! hav!’, as is written: The leech has two daughters, הַב הַב (hav hav), ‘give’ and ‘give’ (Proverbs 30:15). Give us wealth in this world, give us wealth in the next world, as it is taught: ‘Learn much Torah and you will be given much reward’ (M Avot 2:16). But there is no one who is occupied with Torah in order to raise the Shekhinah, from the exile and unite Her with the Husband, for their eyes are blind, and their hearts are sealed” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 97c).

Water Runs Out from the Sea

20131220-021738.jpg“Water means nothing but Torah as it says: Ho, everyone that thirsts, come you to the waters, [and he that has no money; come you, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price] (Isaiah 55:1)” (BT Bava Qamma 82a).

“Rabbi Hanina son of Idi said: Why are words of Torah likened to water, as it is written, Ho, everyone that thirsts, come you to the waters (Isaiah 55:1)? To teach you that just as water flows from a high place to a low place, so words of Torah leave the one who is arrogant and stay with the one who is humble” (BT Ta’anit 7a).

“‘Blessed be YHWH, Who is blessed’—gushing of blessings from the source of life to the place from which all saturation streams, saturating all. Since He is a source, in mystery of sign of the covenant, we call Him ‘Who is blessed’—spring of the well. Once they reach there, surely the well is filled, for its waters never cease” (Zohar 2:135b).

Woe to anyone who compares Him to any quality, even to one of His own qualities, and certainly not to humans whose foundation is in the dust (Job 4:19), who are perishable and worthless. But the likening [that we employ] is only according to His power over that quality, or even over all the creatures. There is no [likening] above that quality, and when [His power] goes up from [that quality], there is no quality, likeness or form to Him.

This is like the sea. Water of the sea that flows from it has no conceivable shape or form. But by the flow of the sea water over the vessel, which is the earth, it gains a form, and we can then calculatethe source of the sea is one. A spring emerges from it, according to its expansion in a round vessel, which is י (yod). The source is one, and the spring that emerges from it is second. Afterwards He made a large vessel, similar to a large excavation, which was filled with the water that flowed from the spring. This is called sea, it is the third vessel. And that large vessel streams as into long receptacles. And so there is a מָקוֹר (maqor), source, a מַעְיָין (ma’iyyan), spring, a יָם (yam), sea, and seven נְחָלִין (nealin), streams, which amount to ten. If the אוּמָן (uman), artisan, will break these vessels that He fashioned, the water will return to the source and the broken vessels will remain dry without water [cf. Psalms 74:13: You shattered the sea with Your strength; Rabbi Yitsḥaq Luria’s שְׁבִירָת הַכְּלִים (shevirat ha-kelim), shattering of the vessels].

So the עִלַּת הָעִלּוֹת (Illat ha-Illot), Cause of Causes, made ten sefirot and called Keter the מָקוֹר (maqor), source, and there is no end to the welling of its light. Therefore, He called Himself אֵין סוֹף (Ein Sof), Without End, and He has no likeness or image. There is no vessel there able to conceive Him or have any knowledge of Him at all. Therefore, it has been said of Him, ‘Do not seek out what is too wondrous for you; do not inquire into that which is concealed from you’ (Ben Sira) [cf. BT Hagigah 11b; Megillah 25a].

Afterwards He made a small vessel י (yod). It was filled from [the source] and He called it a ‘Spring of Wisdom.’ He called himself in it Wise, and the vessel He called Ḥokhmah. Then, He made a large vessel and called it יָם (Yam), Sea. He named it Binah and He called Himself an Understanding One.

He is wise of Himself and understands Himself because Ḥokhmah is not called Ḥokhmah of its own accord, rather because the Wise One filled it with His own welling. Binah is not called so of its own accord, but rather because of the Understanding One who filled it from His own, and if He had removed Himself and risen from it, it would have remained dry [as is written]: Water runs out from the sea and the river is parched and dries up (Job 14:11) [cf. Isaiah 19:5; Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 43].

Afterwards, He shall strike it into seven streams (Isaiah 11:15). He made seven precious vessels and called them גְּדֻלָּה (gedullah), Greatness, גְּבוּרָה (gevurah), Strength, תִּפְאֶרֶת (tif’eret), Beauty, נֵּצַח (netsaḥ), Victory, הוֹד (hod), Splendor, כֹל (kol), All, and הַמַּמְלָכָה (ha-malmelakha), the Kingdom. He called himself Great in Greatness and also חָסִיד (ḥasid), Devout, Glorious in Glory and Victorious in battles. In Majesty He called Himself  ‘The Majesty our Creator,’ and in יְסוֹד (Yesod), Foundation, He called Himself צַדִיק (tsaddiq), Righteous. Yesod (Foundation) supports everything, all the vessels [sefirot] and all the worlds [see Proverbs 10:25: וְצַדִּיק (ve-tsaddiq), and the Righteous One is, יְסוֹד עוֹלָם (yesod olam), foundation of the world; cf. Bahir §102, §180]. And in Kingdom, He called Himself King: the גְּדֻלָּה (gedullah), greatness, גְּבוּרָה (gevurah), strength, תִּפְאֶרֶת (tif’eret), beauty, נֵּצַח (netsaḥ), victory, הוֹד (hod), splendor—yes, כֹל (kol), all, that is in heaven and on earth. Yours, YHWH, is הַמַּמְלָכָה (ha-mamelakha), the kingdom (1 Chronicles 29:11).

Everything is in His authority, whether to lessen the vessels or to increase or decrease their gushing, as is His desire with them. He does not have over Him a god to increase or decrease in Him” (Zohar 2:42b, Ra’aya Meheimna Bo).

A Slanderer Separates an Intimate

“The sin of the primordial serpent: he joined below and it separated above. So he caused what he caused to the world. For one should separate below and join above… one should realize that יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (YHWH Elohim) is entirely one, indivisible. יְהוָה (YHWH) is הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim). Once one realizes all is one and does not impose division, even that Other Side will disappear from the world, not be drawn below” (Zohar 1:12b).

“One might ask: Why do we pray to the blessed Holy One on several rungs? Sometimes one prays through a certain sefirah or quality, sometimes one’s prayer is to the right, as it says: ‘He who desires to become wise should turn to the south’ (BT Bava Batra 25b). Sometimes to the left: ‘He who desires to become rich [in Knowledge and Understanding] should turn to the north’ (ibid.). Sometimes to the middle pillar, sometimes to the Righteous One. Every prayer goes up to a certain rung but יהוה (YHWH) is truly in every sefirah” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar Ḥadash 109a).

“You might suggest that we have a problem here, since it is written that all the sacrifices are to יהוה (YHWH), and ask how, therefore, it can be said that there is a separation of the letters. This is said about those stages that were created and called by His name and not that they are He Himself, as is written: Everyone that is called by My name: for My glory I have created him, I have formed him; yea, I have made him (Isaiah 43:7). And there are the four letters of יהוה (YHWH) of אֲצִילוּת (Atsilut), Emanation, containing no separation nor cessation, for they are as fountains watering trees. And regarding those that were created they are likened, the י (yod) to a head, the ו (vav) to a body, while the ה ה (hehe) to ten fingers. But the Cause of Causes, Who is over everything is called יהוה (YHWH), of Him is said: To whom then will you liken Me, that I should be equal? says the Holy One (Isaiah 40:25). To whom then will you liken God or what likeness will you compare to Him? (Isaiah 40:18) For I am יְהוָה (YHWH) I do not change (Malachi 3:6). The sins of the creatures do not touch Him, nor separate in Him the י (yod) from the ה (he), nor the ו (vav) from the ה (he). For there is no separation in Him and it is said of Him: nor shall evil dwell with You (Psalms 5:5). He rules over all and there is none who rules over Him. He comprehends all and there is none who comprehends Him. And He is not called by יהוה (YHWH) nor by all the other names, but is known by His light that spreads over them. And when He departs from them, He has, of Himself, no name at all: deep deep, who can find Him? (Ecclesiastes 7:24)” (Zohar 3:224a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“The Holy Ancient One, concealed of all concealed. Separate, separated from all, yet not separate; for all are joined to it, and it is joined to all. It itself is all! … The light of each and every spark, called Adornments of the King, Crowns of the King—each one shines into, joins onto the light within, within, no separating without. So all rises to one level, all is crowned with one word; no separating one from the other. It and Its name is one” (Zohar 3:288a, 296b Idra Zuta).

Let Us Make a Human in Our Image by Our Likeness

imageI am the first, and I am the last; and besides Me there is no God (Isaiah 44:6). I am the first—I do not have a father; I am the last—I do not have a brother; and besides Me there is no God—I do not have a son” (Shemot Rabbah 29:4).

And אֱלֹהִים (Elohimsaid, ‘Let us make a human’ (Genesis 1:26). It is not written הַאָדָם (ha-adam), the human, but rather אָדָם (adam), a human, indefinite—excluding the one above [i.e., the אָדָם קַדְמוֹן (adam qadmon), Primordial Human], who was made with a complete name [יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (YHWH Elohim) (Genesis 2:7)]” (Zohar 2:178a, cf. ibid., 2:70a-b).

And אֱלֹהִים (Elohimsaid, ‘Let us make a human’ (Genesis 1:26). The secret of יְהוָה (YHWHis for those who fear Him (Psalms 25:14).

The Elder of Elders opened, saying, ‘Shim’on, Shim’on, who is He who said, ‘Let us make a human’—who is this אֱלֹהִים (Elohim)? Meanwhile, the Elder of Elders vanished. When Rabbi Shim’on heard that he called him Shim’on and not Rabbi Shim’on, he said to the Companions: This is indeed the blessed Holy One of whom is said, And the עַתִּיק יוֹמִין (attiq yomin), Ancient of Days, took His seat (Daniel 7:9). Now is the time to reveal this secret which was previously forbidden, and permission has now been given to reveal it.

This is like a king who had many buildings to build and he had an אוּמָן (uman), artisan. That artisan did not do anything without the permission of the king, as is written, I was by Him, an אָמוֹן (amon), intimate (Proverbs 8:30) [cf. Guide of the Perplexed 2:4]. The king is most certainly supernal חָכְמָה (ḥokhmah), Wisdom, above and the middle pillar [תִפאֶרֶת (tif’eret), Beauty; זְעֵיר אַנפִּין (ze’eir anpin), Small Countenance] is the king below. אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), the artisan above, is supernal Mother [בִּינָה (binah), Understanding]. אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), the artisan below, is the שְׁכִינָה (shekhinah), Divine Presence [מַלְכוּת (malkhut), Kingdom].

A wife is not permitted to do anything without the permission of her husband. Of all the structures that were in the way of אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation, Father would say to Mother, ‘Let there be’ such and such and it was done immediately. It is written: And said, ‘אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), Let there be light’ and there was light (Genesis 1:3). And said—spoken to אֱלֹהִים (Elohim)—‘Let there be light.’ So Father, uttered the words and the artisan, Mother, completed the task immediately. And this was the same with every structure in the way of אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation—Father, would say, ‘Let there be a firmament’ or ‘Let there be lights’ and Mother, would complete everything in an instant.

When the עָלְמָא דִפְרוּדָא (alma di-feruda), world of separation, came, which is the world of those divided [see Zohar 1:158a], the artisan said to the architect‘Let us make a human in our image, by our likeness’ (Genesis 1:26). The architect said: It is indeed good that man is made, but he will offend before you, because he is foolish, as is written, A wise son gladdens his father, but a foolish son is his mother’s sorrow (Proverbs 10:1).

She said: Because his crimes depend on Mother, and not Father, I wish to create him in My own image, as is written, And אֱלֹהִים (Elohimcreated the human in His image (Genesis 1:27)—She did not want Father, to have any share [although often depicted as the Divine Mother, Binah is also described as ‘World of the Male,’ encompassing the entire configuration of the sefirot from Ḥesed through Yesod. Together they constitute a masculine entity ready to join Shekhinah, see Zohar 1:147a, 149a, 96a, 160b, 246a-247a, 248b; 2:127b; ZḤ 72b (ShS)].

What is written at the time of the squandering? For your crimes, your mother was sent away (Isaiah 50:1). The king said to the mother, ‘Did I not tell you that he was destined to sin?’ In that instant, he exiled him and his mother. Therefore, it is written: A wise son gladdens his father, but a foolish son is his mother’s sorrow. A wise son—man of אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation [זְעֵיר אַנפִּין (ze’eir anpin), Small Countenance]. A foolish son—man of בְּרִיָּה (beriah), Creation.

All the Companions rose and said ‘Rabbi, Rabbi, could there be such separation between Father and Mother, [so much so that] from the side of Father he is in the way of אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation, but from the side of Mother in [the way of] בְּרִיָּה (beriah), Creation?! He said to them, ‘Companions, Companions, it is not so, because man of אֲצִילוּת (Atsilut), Emanation, is male and female, from the aspect of Father and from Mother. This is why אֱלֹהִים (Elohimsaid, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light. ‘Let there be light’—from the side of Father. And there was light—from the side of Mother. So man had דוּ פַּרְצוּפִין (du partsufin), two faces [see BT Eruvin 18a].

But to him [of בְּרִיָּה (beri’ah), Creation] there is neither image nor likeness [of Father or Mother]. The supernal Mother has but one appellation: Light and… Darkness (Isaiah 45:7), which amounts to eighty-six: אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) [כִּנּוּי (kinnui), appellation, אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), and הַטֶבַע (ha-teva), nature, are each numerically equivalent to eighty-six, cf. Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, Get ha-Shemot, 101b (Ms Oxford, 1682)]. And that appellation is Light and Darkness [אוֹר וּחֹשֶׁךְ (or u-ḥoshek), Light and… Darkness, is numerically equivalent to יִשְׂרָאֵל (yisra’el), Israel]. And because of that appellation of darkness, Father said that man of בְּרִיָּה (beri’ah), Creation [אָדָם רִאשׁוֹן (adam rishon), First Man], was destined to offend because he is light of the supernal garment.

Light—light that the blessed Holy One created on the first day, hiding it away for the righteous alone [see BT Ḥagigah 12a]. Darkness—created on the first day for the wicked: And the wicked in darkness turn dumb (1 Samuel 2:9). On account of that darkness, which would cause that light to sin, Father did not wish to partake in his creation. Therefore, Mother said, ‘Let us make a human in our image, by our likeness. In our image—in that light. By our likeness—in that darkness which is a garment for light, just as the body is a garment for the soul, as is written: With skin and flesh You clothed me (Job 10:11). They all rejoiced, saying, ‘How happy is our share that we had the privilege to hear words that were not to be heard until now.’

Rabbi Shim’on delved further, saying, ‘See now that I, I am He, and no אֱלֹהִים (elohim), god, is by My side’ (Deuteronomy 32:39). Companions, listen to ancient words I wish to reveal since permission from above has been granted. Who is He who said, ‘See now that I, I am He’? He replied: The עִלַּת עַל כָּל עִלָּאִין (illat al kal illa’in), Cause above all Causes. He that is called עִלַּת הָעִלּוֹת (illat ha-illot), the Cause of Causes, is not high above all the supernal beings, but rather, is a cause among all the rest. Accordingly, every single one of these causes will not act unless permission comes down from the cause above him, as I said before with, Let us make a human

Let us make—two rungs, and each lower rung said to the one above him, Let us make a human. The lower rung cannot act without permission from the one over him and the one over him cannot act until direction comes down from his companion. But He that is called עִלַּת עַל כָּל עִלּוֹת (illat al kal illot), Cause above all Causes, has no equal above nor below, as is written: To whom then will you liken Me, or shall I be equal? says the Holy One (Isaiah 40:25). He said, ‘See now that I, I am He, and no אֱלֹהִים (elohim), god, is by My side’—from whom to take counsel, unlike him of whom is written: And אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) said, ‘Let us make a human.’

All the Companions rose and said, ‘Rabbi grant us permission to speak. Did you not already say that the Cause of Causes, said to Keter, ‘Let us make a human.’ He said to them: ‘Let your ears hear what your mouth speaks. Have I not just told you that he that is called the Cause of Causes is not He that is called the Cause above all Causes, for the Cause above all Causes has no second from whom He can take direction. He is יָחִיד (yaḥid), Singular, prior to all, and He has no partner [see Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith].

Accordingly, He said, ‘See now that I, I am He, and no god is by My side’ (Deuteronomy 32:39), from whom He should take counsel [cf. BT Sanhedrin 38b; Bereshit Rabbah 8:8]; for He has no second, no partner, and no reckoning. [However,] there is a oneness in partnership in the manner of male and female, of whom it is said, [Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bore you:] for one I called him [and blessed him, and increased him] (Isaiah 51:2). But He is one without reckoning and without partnership, thus, He says, no god is by My side.’ They all rose, bowed before him and said, ‘Happy is the man whose Master gives him consent to reveal hidden mysteries that were not even revealed to the holy angels.’

He said to them, ‘Companions, we should complete this verse because it contains many mysteries. I put to death and give life (Deuteronomy 32:39)—I put to death and give life by the sefirot. From the right-side life, and from the left-side death. But if both do not agree by mediation of the middle pillar—unless all three settle together—judgment cannot be carried out.

At times, all three agree to execute judgement. Then an outstretched hand appears to accept those who repent: יהוה (YHWH). That יַד (yad), hand, is equivalent to י״ד (fourteen) letters: four in the simple form of יהוה (YHWH) and ten in the fully spelled Name: יוד הא ואו הא (Yod He Vav He). The four letters allude to the sefirah כֶּתֶר (keter), Crown; the other ten to the sefirah חָכְמָה (ḥokhmah), Wisdom. This is the Shekhinah, which is the right hand from the side of חֶסֶד (ḥesed), Kindness, and the left hand from the the side of גְבוּרָה (gevurah), Strength. [It is also] called the Hand of יהוה (YHWH) from the aspect of the middle pillar. When one repents, these fourteen letters save him from judgement. But when the Cause above all Causes passes judgment [I smash and I also heal] and none rescues from My hand (Deuteronomy 32:39).

Furthermore, three times it has been said, אֲנִי אֲנִי אֲנִי (ani, ani, ani), I, I, I—[this verse has three] א (alef) [in its beginning and three] י (yod) [in its ending]. Here is the hint: יוד הי ואו הי (Yod He Vav He); יוד הא ואו הא (Yod He Vav He). [The verse also employs] three ווין (vavin), ands: וַאֲחַיֶּה (va-aḥayeh), and I give life... וַאֲנִי (va-ani), and I… וְאֵין (ve-ayin), and none They are also hinted at by these [two] names.

Despite this all the Companions have explained it concerning other אֱלֹהִים (elohim), gods, as is written: See now that I, I am He—the blessed Holy One and His Shekhinah. Of His Female is said, אֲנִי (ani), I am, הוּא (hu), He. And no god is by My side—[neither] Samael nor the serpent. I put to death and give lifeI kill with My Shekhinah whoever is guilty and give life with Her to whoever is righteous. And none rescues from My hand—the יָד (yad), hand, of יהוה (YHWH) which is numerically equivalent to י״ד (fourteen). יוד הא ואו הא (Yod He Vav He); and כוזו במוכסז כוזו (KWZWBMWKSZKWZW) [permutations of the Name]. All these explanations are true. But what we said before is that It is the Cause of Causes—the Cause above all others. This mystery was not even revealed to all the sages and prophets [but only the select few among them, such as Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai].

Come and see: How many causes, and rungs, are concealed and unknown. They are clothed and enveloped by the sefirot, which are chariots for them. These causes are hidden from the thoughts of man, as is written: For he who is high has a higher one watching him, and still higher ones over them (Ecclesiastes 5:7)—each higher light is brighter than its neighbor. So the recipients are dimmer than those above because they are the recipients, and that which is lower than its neighbor is dimmer than its neighbor. No light can bear the presence of the Cause of Causes, because all lights are darkened and diminished before It.

Another explanation of the Companions: Let us make a human in our image, by our likenessthe ministering angels spoke this. He [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai] said to them: Since the angels already know the past and future, they already knew that he was destined to sin. Why would they want to make him?

Not only that, but Aza and Azael also opposed. When the Shekhinah said to the blessed Holy One, Let us make a human, they protested: What is a human creature that You should know him, [the son of man, that You pay him mind?] (Psalms 144:3). Why do You wish to create man when You know that he is destined to offend before You, with her who is darkness, since light is male and darkness female—left, darkness of Creation [see Bahir §13]. At that moment, the Shekhinah said to them: You will fall by the same reasoning that you denounce! [cf. BT Qiddushin 70a: ‘And he who declares unfit is unfit and never speaks in praise. And Shemu’el said: With his own blemish he stigmatizes as unfit’]. As is written: The sons of הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim)God, saw that the daughters of men were comely, and they took themselves wives whomsoever they chose (Genesis 6:2), so they went astray after them. And the Shekhinah caused them to fall from their holy state.

The Companions said, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi, Aza and Azael did not lie! For man was certainly destined to offend with the female.’ He replied: This is what the Shekhinah said, ‘You have made accusations before me that go beyond those of all the hosts above. If you were better than humans in your actions, you would have had a right to accuse him, but man will offend with only one woman, while you [are destined to offend] with many women. Therefore, your offences surpass those of man, as is written: The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were comely, and they took themselves wives whomsoever they chose (Genesis 6:2). It is not written: the daughter of men, but rather the daughters of men. If man is liable, I have prepared תְּשׁוּבָה (teshuvah), repentance, for him to repair the offence.’

The Companions asked, ‘If so, why all this?’ Rabbi Shim’on replied: If the blessed Holy One had not created [the] good and evil [impulses], which are light and darkness, there would not have been any merit or liability for the man of בְּרִיָּה (beri’ah), Creation. So man was created with both, as is written: See, I have set before you today life and good and death and evil, that I charge you today to love YHWH your God, to go in His ways and to keep His commands and His statutes and His Laws (Deuteronomy 30:15). They asked him: Why all this? Better He had not created darkness. Then man would have no reward and no punishment, as opposed to being created and having to offend thereby causing much [cf. Zohar 3:159a].

He said to them: It was right to create him in this way because Torah was created for his sake, for it contains punishments for the wicked and rewards for the righteous. Thus, there can be no reward for the righteous or punishment for the wicked without the man of בְּרִיָּה (beri’ah), Creation. He did not create it a wasteland. He formed it to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18). They said, ‘Indeed, now we have certainly heard what we had never heard before. It is now clear that the blessed Holy One did not create anything unnecessary’ [cf. M Avot 4:3].

Furthermore, Torah of בְּרִיָּה (beri’ah), Creation, is the garment of Shekhinah. If man had not been created, She would have remained without clothing, like a pauper. Therefore, whoever transgresses acts as if he is stripping the Shekhinah of Her garments [cf. Leviticus 18:7]. This is the punishment for man.

Whoever performs the decrees of Torah clothes the Shekhinah in Her garments. Accordingly, about the garments of tsitsit and tefillin it says, For it is his sole covering, it is his cloak for his skin—in what can he lie? (Exodus 22:26). This applies during exile when the Shekhinah is stripped of Her garments.

Come and see: Darkness is the mystery of black [ink] of Torah. Light is the white [negative space] of Torah” (Zohar 1:22a, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar, cf. Bahir §198).