The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: בָּרָא

אבי״ע (ABiYA): Four Worlds

Add. 27006

“The Emperor said to Rabban Gamli’el, ‘He who created the mountains did not create the wind, as is written, יוֹצֵר (Yotser), He fashions, the mountains and בֹרֵא (vo’re), He creates, the wind, [עֹשֵׂה (oseh), He makes, dawn into darkness…] (Amos 4:13).’ [He said to him,] ‘If that is so with Adam, as is written, וַיִּבְרָא (va-yivra), And He created… (Genesis 1:27) וַיִּיצֶר (va-yiytser), And He formed (ibid. 2:7), so too He who בָּרָא (bara), created, this did not create that? A person’s [skull] is one handspan by one handspan with two orifices—He who bara, created, this did not create that? As is said, הֲנֹטַע (Ha-nota’a), Who plants, the ear, will He not hear? יֹצֵר (yotser), Who fashions, the eye, will He not look? (Psalms 94:9).’ He said to him, ‘Yes.’ [Rabban Gamli’el] said to him, ‘And at the moment of death are they reconciled?!’

A magus said to Ameimar, ‘From your middle part upwards [belongs] to Ohrmazd [the fragrant god of light]. From your middle part downwards [belongs] to Ahriman [the stinking god of darkness].’ Ameimar said to him, ‘If so, how does Ahriman leave Ohrmazd to pass water through the bottom?!’” (BT Sanhedrin 39a).

“What is יוֹצֵר (Yotser), fashioning, light and בוֹרֵא (vo’re), creating, darkness (Isaiah 45:7)? Since light possesses substance, יְצִירָה (yetsirah), formation, is written. Since darkness does not possesses substance, בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), creation, is written. Similarly it says, Yotser, He fashions, the mountains and vo’re, creates, the wind (Amos 4:13). Or if you like, say: Light possesses הֲוָיָה (havayah), being, as is written, And Elohim said, ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3). And there is no being except by means of עֲשִׂיָּה (asiyyah), actualization, [therefore] read, yetsirah, formation. With darkness there is no actualizing, only separation and setting-aside, [therefore] read, beri’ah, creation. Just as one says, ‘So-and-so הִבְרִיא (hivri), regained health [lit., separated from illness; or: became fat, see Ibn Ezra, Haqdamat Peirush al ha-Torah; cf. Zohar 2:254b (Heikh)]’ (Bahir §13).

Male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27). Is it so, since it is written, And God created the human in His image, in the image of God He created him (ibid.)? And afterwards it is written, [‘It is not good for the human to be alone,] I shall make him a sustainer beside him’ (ibid. 2:18) and, He took one of the sides and closed over the flesh where it had been (ibid., 21). But survey what is written [in the Torah]: יְצִירָה (yetsirah), Formation; and it is written, בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), Creation. Beri’ah—when the נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul, was created; עֲשִׂיָה (asiyyah), Actualization—male and female He עָשַׂה (assah), made, them; yetsirah—when the neshamah, soul, was combined with the body and all was brought together. And how do we know that yetsirah means ‘bringing together’? As is written, And YHWH Elohim 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 (ibid., 19). And look it is written, Male and female He created them (ibid. 5:2). It is also written, And God blessed them (ibid. 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 (ibid., 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, cf. ibid. 3:159b).

“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 (asiyyah), Actualization. The mystery of each and every one is mentioned here. Corresponding to beri’ah, Creation: He took from their hand (Exodus 32:4)—something that until now contained nothing at all. Corresponding to yetsirah, Formation: וַיָּצַר (va-yatsar), and he fashioned, it (ibid.). Corresponding to asiyyah, 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).

Ten sefirot of אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation: the King is in them, He and His self are one in them, He and His vitality are one in them [cf. Ibn Ezra on Exodus 34:6; Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 1:68]. This is not so with the ten sefirot of בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), Creation, because He and His vitality are not one, and He and His self are not one.

And the supernal One over all shines in the ten sefirot of Atsilut, and into the ten sefirot of Beri’ah. And He shines into the ten ranks of angels, and into the ten spheres of the firmament. Yet He does not change in any place [cf. Malachi 3:6: For I am YHWH, I change not].

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 atsilut, Emanation, are precisely the likeness of the King. The sefirot of beri’ah, Creation, are the seal of the king, and the sefirot of yetsirah, Formation, are the angels which are the living beings, and they are the form of the seal in wax” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 3b).

Primordial Kings were Destroyed: Would you ever Imagine that they were Nullified?

“‘The world was created through ten sayings’ (M Avot 5:1)…. And in three are these [sayings] included: YHWH through Wisdom founded earth, set heavens firm through Discernment. Through His Knowledge the deeps burst open (Proverbs 3:19–20)” (Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 17–18).

“[Mar Raḥmai son of Bibi’s] disciples asked: What is דָּלֶת (dalet)? He said to them: A parable: [To what can the matter be compared?] There were once עֲשָׂרָה (asarah), ten, kings in one place, and all of them rich, but one of them, though עָשִׁיר (ashir), rich, was not [as rich] as any of them. Even though his wealth was great, he was called דָּל (dal), ‘poor,’ compared to the others….

What are the ten kings? They are seven voices, and three sayings. But what sayings? And YHWH has proclaimed you today [to be to Him a treasured people, as He has spoken to you, and to keep all His commands, and to set you high above all the nations that He made, for praise and for reclaim and for glory, and for you to be a holy people to YHWH your God, as He has spoken] (Deuteronomy 26:18). But what three? The beginning of wisdom is—get חָכְמָה (ḥokhmah), wisdom, and in all that you get, get בִינָה (vinah), discernment (Proverbs 4:7), as is written, [Yet it is a spirit in man,] and Shaddai’s breath that grants discernment (Job 32:8)—Shaddai’s breath is תְּבִינֵם (tevinem), Discernment. What is third? As the old man said to the child, ‘What is too wondrous for you, do not expound; what is concealed from you, do not inquire. You have no business with hidden matters!’ (BT Ḥagigah 13a)” (Bahir §§27, 49).

“It has been taught: The Book of Concealment, a book on scales. For until there was a balance, they did not gaze face-to-face, and the primordial kings died and their weapons vanished and the earth was nullified. Until the head of Desire of all Desires arranged and bestowed garments of glory” (Zohar 2:176b, Sifra di-Tsni’uta).

“When Rabbi Shim’on opened, the earth quaked and the Companions trembled. He revealed in mystery, and opened, saying, ‘These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before a king reigned over the Children of Israel (Genesis 36:31). Happy are you, O righteous ones, to whom are revealed mysteries of mysteries of Torah, which have not been revealed to holy ones of the Highest. Who will examine this? Who will be worthy of this? It is testimony to faith of total faith. May the prayer be accepted, that it may not be considered a sin to reveal this.

‘And what will the Companions say? For this verse is difficult, since it should not have been written so, because we see that there were numerous kings before the Children of Israel appeared and before they had a king; so what is intended here? Well, it is mystery of mysteries, which humans cannot know or perceive or arouse in their minds.

‘It has been taught: Before the Ancient of Ancients, Concealed of the Concealed, had prepared adornments of the King and crowns of crowns, there was neither beginning nor end. He engraved and gauged within Himself, and spread before Himself one curtain, in which He engraved and gauged kings, but His adornments did not endure. As is written: These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before a king reigned—Primordial King—over the Children of Israel, the Primordial One (Genesis 36:31). All those who had been engraved were called by name, but they did not endure, so He eventually put them aside and concealed them. Afterward, He ascended in that curtain and was arrayed perfectly” (Zohar 3:128a, Idra Rabba).

“Until He Himself was arrayed in His enhancements, all those that He intended to arrange did not endure, and all those worlds were destroyed…. Would you ever imagine that they were nullified? Look, they are all included in [Primordial] Adam! Rather, they were nullified and removed from that arrangement, until the image of Adam appeared. When this image appeared they were all engraved and transformed into another existence. Some of them became fragrantly firm, some of them not entirely so, and some of them not at all.

Now, you might say, ‘But it is written He died… he died (Genesis 36:33–39)—implying that they were nullified completely.’ Not so! Rather, anyone who descends from his original rung of existence is said to have died, as is written: The King of Egypt died (Exodus 2:23)—meaning that he descended from the rung that he occupied. Once Adam was arrayed, they were called by different names and became fragrantly firm existing in Him, enduring in their places… transformed into another existence, settling securely” (Zohar 3:135b, Idra Rabba).

“Before the world was created, they did not gaze face-to-face, and therefore primordial worlds were destroyed, and primordial worlds were fashioned in disarray. That which is disarrayed is called ‘flashing sparks’—like a blacksmith pounding an iron tool, scattering sparks in every direction; and those flying forth flash and scintillate and are immediately extinguished. These are called Primordial Worlds. Thus they were destroyed and did not endure, until the Holy Ancient One was arrayed and the Artisan proceeded to His artistry” (Zohar 3:292b, Idra Zuta).

“Nothing in the world, be it ever so small, lacks a place in which to be hidden and absorbed; it is never lost” (Zohar 2:99b).

“Israel is the kernel of the world; Israel arose in thought. Other nations, who are the shell preceded, as is written: אֵלֶּה (elleh), these, are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the Children of Israel (Genesis 36:31). Yet the blessed Holy One intends to initiate the kernel without the shell, as is written: Holy is Israel to YHWH, the first fruits of His harvest (Jeremiah 2:3)—the kernel preceding the shell. Although the kernel will arise without a shell, who would dare to extend his hand to eat of it? All who eat of it will be held guilty; evil will befall them—declares YHWH (ibid.)” (Zohar 2:108b, Sava de-Mishpatim).

“אֵלֶּה (Elleh), these, are the generations of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 2:4). It has been established: ‘Wherever אֵלֶּה (elleh), these, is written it nullifies the preceding’ (Bereshit Rabbah 30:3). And these are the generations of תֹּהוּ (tohu) hinted at in the second verse: The earth then was tohu, welter (Genesis 1:2). Regarding those it is said the blessed Holy One created worlds and destroyed them [see Bereshit Rabbah 3:7; 9:2]. Thus, it is written: The earth then was welter and waste (Genesis 1:2). Why did the blessed Holy One create worlds to destroy them? It would have been better had He not created them at all! But this is certainly a great mystery. What is ‘and destroying them’? It cannot be that the blessed Holy One destroyed the makings of His own hands. Furthermore, these are the heavens of which is said, For the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, [but the earth shall grow old like a garment, and they that dwell in it shall die in like manner: but My redemption shall be forever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished] (Isaiah 51:6) [cf. Psalms 102:26–27]. If so, does the blessed Holy One [create] and shatter?

The mystery is that the blessed Holy One created the world by Torah, as is written: בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), with beginning (Genesis 1:1), about which is written: YHWH created me at the רֵאשִׁית (reshit), outset, of His way, [before His works of old] (Proverbs 8:22). And by this reshitbeginning, He created the [supernal] heavens and the earth [i.e., the six sefirot whose creation are hinted at by the permutation of בְּרֵאשִׁית (bereshit): בָּרָא שִׁית (bara shit), He created six]. He sustained them with the covenant which is in בְּרֵאשִׁית (bereshit) [i.e., בְּרִית אֵשׁ (berit esh), covenant of fire], as is written: Were it not for בְרִיתִי (veriti), My covenant, day and night, I would not have established the laws of the heavens and earth (Jeremiah 33:25). These are: The heavens are the heavens of YHWH (Psalms 115:16). And the land of the living comprises seven zones [lit., lands, see Zohar 3:10a], about which King David wrote, I will walk before YHWH in the lands of the living (Psalms 116:9).

Afterwards He created the heavens and the earth upon תֹּהוּ (tohu), welter, without any foundation—the covenant—to support them [cf. Job 26:7]. Because of this the blessed Holy One, wanted to give Torah—the covenant of circumcision—to the nations of the world but because they did not want to receive it the land remained parched and dry [see BT Avodah Zarah 2b–3b; Sifre Deuteronomy 33:2]. Thus: Let the waters under heaven be gathered together to one place, and let the dry land appear (Genesis 1:9). Waters—Torah. To one place—Israel, because the souls of Israel come from that Place, of which is written: Blessed be the glory of YHWH from His place (Ezekiel 3:12). The glory of YHWH—lower Shekhinah; from His place—upper Shekhinah. And since their souls come from there then certainly יהוה (YHWH) rests on them. Of them is written: Yes, YHWH’s portion is His people (Deuteronomy 32:9).

Torah is [for creating] יִשּׁוּבָא דְּעָלְמָא (yishuva de-alma), the civilized world. The nations of the world who did not accept her have remained wasted and dry. This is ‘The blessed Holy One created worlds and destroyed them’—those who did not keep the decrees of Torah. It does not mean He destroyed His own makings as people might think [see for example BT Sanhedrin 103a in the name of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai: ‘The blessed Holy One wished to hurl the world back into welter and waste on account of Jehoiakim, but that He gazed at (the rest of) his generation, and His mind was appeased’]. Why should He destroy His own children?! Of whom is written: ‘בְּהִבָּרְאָם, (Be-hibbare’am), when they were created (Genesis 2:4). Do not read בְּהִבָּרְאָם (be-hibbare’am), when they were created, but rather בְּה״ בְּרָאָם (be-he bera’am), with ה (heHe created them’ (BT Menaḥot 29b) [cf. ZḤ 2d]. Because of those converts from among the nations of the world the small ה (he) of אַבְרָהָם (Avraham), Abraham, fell during the Fifth Millennium [on the especially small ה (he) of Genesis 2:4, see Bereshit Rabbah 12:9; Zohar 1:91b, 93a, 105b, 128b, 154b, 230b; 3:117a]. [And the river was wasted and dried up (Isaiah 19:5):] Wasted—the First Temple; dried up—the Second Temple.

Moses wanted to bring them [i.e., the motley throng, the mixed multitude] under the wings of the Shekhinah and thought that they too were drawn down from ה (he). Thus he caused the fall of ה (he) of אַבְרָהָם (Avraham), Abraham. This brought upon him descent, as is written: Go, get you down, for your people… have become corrupt (Exodus 32:7). They did not receive the small ה (he) with awe of י (yod) and with the love of [the first] ה (he). So he fell from his rung, which is ו (vav)” (Zohar 1:24b–25a, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

The Blessed Holy One Hewed out all the Letters of Torah, Engraving them with Breath

Alex-bet jumble

“The blessed Holy One said, ‘I need laborers.’ The Torah said to Him, ‘I am providing you twenty-two laborers’—the twenty-two letters which are in the Torah” (Tanḥuma–Yelammedenu Fragments, 20–21 [Urbach]).

“Twenty-two letters—they are engraved by voice, hewn by breath, embedded in the mouth in five places: אח הע בו מף גי כק דט לנת זס שרץ (alef ḥet he ‘ayin, bet vav mem pehgimel yod kaf qofdalet tet lamed nun tavzayin samekh shin resh tsadi)” (Sefer Yetsirah §17a).

“Quarry of the Torah, Treasury of Wisdom, Quarry of God’s breath, to teach that the blessed Holy One hewed out all the letters of Torah, engraving them with breath, and actualizing צוּרוֹתָיו (tsurotaiv), His forms, within, as is written: There is no צוּר (tsur), rock, like our God (1 Samuel 2:2)—‘there is no צַיָּיר (tsayyar), artist, like our God’ (BT Berakhot 10a)” (Bahir §143).

“A certain philosopher asked Rabban Gamaliel, saying: Your God was indeed a great צַיָּר (tsayyar), artist, but surely He found good materials which assisted Him? He said: What are they? תֹּהוּ וָבֹהוּ (Tohu va-vohu), welter and waste (Genesis 1:2), darkness, water, wind, and the deep; woe to that man. Of all of them it is said בְּרִיאָה (beriyah), Creation: Tohu and bohu: יוֹצֵר (Yotser), He fashions, light and בוֹרֵא (vo’re), creates, darkness (Isaiah 45:7); water: Praise Him, utmost heavens, and the waters above the heavens (Psalms 148:4)—why? For He commanded, and they were created (ibid., 5); wind: Yotser, He fashions, the mountains and vo’re, creates, the wind (Amos 4:13); the depths: When there were no deeps I was spawned, when there were no wellsprings, heavy with water (Proverbs 8:24)” (Bereshit Rabbah 1:9).

A David song of praise. אֲרוֹמִמְךָ (Aromimekha), let me exalt You, my God the king, and let me bless Your name forevermore. בְּכָל (Be-kal), every, day let me bless You, and let me praise Your name forevermore. גָּדוֹל (Gadol), great, is YHWH and highly praised, and His greatness cannot be fathomed. דּוֹר לְדוֹר (Dor le-dor), let one generation to the next, extol Your deeds and tell of Your mighty acts. הֲדַר (Hadar), of the grandeur, of Your glorious majesty and Your wondrous acts let me treat. וֶעֱזוּז (Ve-ezuz), and the power, of Your fearsome deeds let them say, and Your greatness let me recount. זֵכֶר (Zekher), the fame, of Your great goodness they utter, and of Your bounty they joyously sing. חַנּוּן (Ḥannun), gracious, and merciful is YHWH, slow to anger, great in kindness. טוֹב (Tov), good, is YHWH to all, and His mercy is over all His creatures. All Your creatures, YHWH, יוֹדוּךָ (yodukha), acclaim You, and Your faithful ones bless You. כְּבוֹד (Kevod), the glory, of Your kingship they say, and of Your might they speak, לְהוֹדִיעַ (le-hodi’a), to make known, to humankind His mighty acts and the grandeur of His kingship’s glory. מַלְכוּתְךָ (Malkhutkha), Your kingship, is a kingship for all time, and Your dominion for all generations. YHWH סוֹמֵךְ (somekh), props up, all who fall and makes all who are bent stand erect. עֵינֵי (Einei), the eyes, of all look in hope to You and You give them their food in its season, פּוֹתֵחַ (Poteaḥ), opening, Your hand and sating to their pleasure all living things. צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq), just, is YHWH in all His ways, and faithful in all His deeds. קָרוֹב (Qarov), close, is YHWH to all who call Him, to all who call to Him in truth. רְצוֹן (Ratson), the pleasure, of those who fear Him He performs, and their outcry He hears and rescues them. YHWH שׁוֹמֵר (shomer), guards, all who love Him, and all the wicked He destroys. YHWH’s תְּהִלַּת (Tehillat), praise, let my mouth speak, and let all flesh bless ת His holy name forevermore (Psalms 145:1–21, acrostics occur in Psalms 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, and 145; Proverbs 31:10–31; Lamentations 1–4).

“Rav Hamnuna Sava said: ‘We find the letters backward [in the first verse of the Torah]: ב (bet) first, followed by bet: בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), in the beginning, followed by בָּרָא (bara), created. Then א (alef) first, followed by alef: אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), followed by אֵת (et).

‘The reason is: When the blessed Holy One wished to fashion the world, all the letters were hidden away. For two thousand years before creating the world, the blessed Holy One contemplated them and played with them [see Bahir §5]. As He verged on creating the world, all the letters presented themselves before Him, from last to first.

The letter ת (tav) entered first of all. She said, ‘Master of the worlds, may it please You to create the world by me, for I complete Your seal: אֶמֶת (emet), truth—and You are called Truth. It is fitting for the King of Truth to begin with a letter of truth and to create the world by me.’ The blessed Holy One replied: ‘You are seemly and worthy, but not deserving to initiate Creation, since you are destined to be marked upon the foreheads of the faithful who fulfilled the Torah from alef to tav and by your mark they will die. Furthermore, you are the seal of מָוֶת (mavet), death. So, you do not deserve to serve as an instrument of Creation.’ She departed immediately.

The letter ש (shin) came before Him. She said, ‘Master of the worlds, may it please You to create the world by me, for by me You are named שַׁדָּי (Shaddai), and it is fitting for the world to be created by a holy name. He replied: You are seemly, you are good and you are true, but since the letters of deceit come and take you for their partner, I do not want to create the world by you. For a lie cannot exist unless ק״ר (qof, resh) take you. So whoever wants to tell a lie will first lay their foundation of truth and then construct the lie [cf. Proverbs 12:19; BT Shabbat 104a; Sotah 35a]. For shin is a letter of truth, a true letter of the patriarchs, who were united in it; qof, resh are the letters that appear on the evil side. In order to survive, they entangle the letter shin, forming קֶשֶׁר (qesher), conspiracy. Seeing this, she left His presence.

The letter צ (tsadi) entered. She said to Him, ‘Master of the worlds, may it please You to create the world by me, for צַדִּיקִים (tsaddiqim), the righteous, are sealed by me, and You, who are called צַדִּיק (tsaddiq), Righteous, are signified by me, as is written, For YHWH is tsaddiq, righteous—loving righteousness (Psalms 11:7). It is fitting to create the world by me!’ He replied, ‘Tsadi, you are tsaddiq, righteous, but you should remain hidden—not so revealed—so as not to provide the world a pretext.’ How so? She is נ (nun). י (Yod) from the name of the holy covenant comes and rides on her, is united with her. This is the mystery: When the blessed Holy One created Adam, He created him with two faces…. So the yod faces backward…. They were not turned face-to-face… it [yod] looked upwards…. it looked downwards…. The blessed Holy One said to her ‘Turn back, for I intend to split you and transfigure you face-to-face, but you will arise elsewhere.’ She left His presence and departed.

The letter פ (peh) entered. She said to Him, ‘Master of the worlds, may it please You to create the world by me, for I signify פּוּרְקֶנָא (purqena), the redemption, that You will someday bring upon the world and also פְּדוּת (pedut), deliverance. It is fitting to create the world by me!’ He replied, ‘You are seemly, but you signify hidden transgression, like a serpent striking, then tucking its head into its body: so one who sins bows his head, stretching out his hands.’

Similarly, ע (ayin) stands for עֲו‍ֹן (avon), iniquity. Although she said, ‘I imply עֲנָוָה (anavah), humility,’ the blessed Holy One replied, ‘I will not create the world by you.’ She left His presence.

The letter ס (samekh) entered. She said to Him, ‘Master of the worlds, may it please You to create the world by me, for by me סְמִיכָא (semikha), support, exists for those who fall, as is written, סוֹמֵךְ יְהוָה (somekh Adonai), YHWH supports all who fall (Psalms 145:14). He replied, ‘So you are needed where you are! Don’t move from there! If you leave, what would happen to the fallen, who depend on you?’ She immediately left His presence.

The letter נ (nun) entered. She said to Him, ‘Master of the worlds, may it please You to create the world by me, for by me You are called נוֹרָא (nora), Awesome, in praises (Exodus 15:11). By me, the praise of the righteous is called נָאוָה (navah), comely (Psalms 33:1).’ He replied, ‘Nun, return to your place, for because of you samekh has returned to her place. Depend on her.’ She returned immediately, leaving His presence [nun alludes to נוֹפְלִים (nofelim), the fallen, supported by samekh, see BT Berakhot 4b].

The letter מ (mem) entered. She said to Him, ‘Master of the worlds, may it please You to create the world by me, for by me You are called מֶלֶךְ (melekh), King.’ He replied, ‘Certainly so, but I will not create the world by you, since the world needs a king. Return to your place, you along with ל (lamed) and ך (kaf), for the world should not be without a king.’

At that moment כ (kaf) descended from His throne of glory. Trembling, she said to Him, ‘Master of the worlds, may it please You to create the world by me, for I am your כָּבוֹד (Kavod), ‘Glory.’’

When kaf descended from the throne of glory, 200,000 worlds trembled, the throne trembled, and all the worlds verged on collapse. The blessed Holy One said to her, ‘Kafkaf what are you doing here? I will not create the world by you. Return to your place, for you imply כְּלָיָה (kelayah), destruction—a decree of destruction (Isaiah 10:23). Return to your throne and stay there.’ She thereupon left His presence and returned to her place.

The letter י (yod) entered. She said to Him, ‘Master of the worlds, may it please You to create the world by me, for I am the beginning of the holy Name. It is fitting for You to create the world by me!’ He replied, ‘It is enough for you to be engraved in Me, to be inscribed in Me. My desire culminates in you. You should not be uprooted from My name.’

The letter ט (tet) entered. She said to Him, ‘Master of the worlds, may it please You to create the world by me, for by me You are called טוֹב וְיָשָׁר (tov ve-yashar), Good and upright (Psalms 25:8).’ He replied, ‘I will not create the world by you, for your goodness is concealed and hidden within you, as is written, How abundant is Your goodness that You have hidden away for those in awe of You (Psalms 31:20). Since it is hidden within you, it plays no part in this world that I am about to create, but rather in the world to come. Furthermore, because your goodness is hidden within you, the gates of My Temple will sink, as is written: Her gates טָבְעוּ (tave’u), have sunk, into the earth (Lamentations 2:9). Further, facing you is ח (ḥet), and when you join together with her, you spell חֵטְא (ḥet), sin. So these two letters are not inscribed in the holy tribes. She immediately left His presence.

The letter ז (zayin) entered. She said to Him, ‘Master of the worlds, may it please You to create the world by me, for by me Your children observe the Sabbath, as is written: זָכוֹר (zakhor), Remember, the Sabbath day, to hallow it (Exodus 20:8).’ He replied, ‘I will not create the world by you, for you imply war—a sharp sword and a spear for battle, like a ן (nun). She immediately left His presence.

The letter ו (vav) entered. She said to Him, ‘Master of the world, may it please You to create the world by me, for I am a letter in Your Name.’ He replied, ‘Vav, it is enough for you and ה (he) to be letters of My name, included in the mystery of My name, engraved and carved in My name. I will not create the world by either of you.’

The letters ד (dalet) and ג (gimel) entered and made the same request. He replied to them as well, ‘It is enough for you to be with each other, since the poor will never cease and need to be treated kindly. Dalet is poor; gimel, גְמוֹל (gomel), renders, goodness to her. Do not separate from one another! It is enough for one of you to sustain the other.’

The letter ב (bet) entered, she said to Him, ‘Master of the world, may it please You to create the world by me, for by me you are בָּרוּךְ, (barukh), blessed, above and below.’ The blessed Holy One replied, ‘Indeed, by you I will create the world. You will be the beginning of Creation.’

The letter א (alef) stood but did not enter. The blessed Holy One said to her, ‘Alefalef, why do you not enter My presence like all of the other letters?’ She replied, ‘Master of the world! Because I saw all the letters leaving Your presence fruitlessly. What could I do there? Further more, look, You have given this great gift to the letter bet, and it is not fitting for the exalted King to take back a gift He has given to His servant and give it to another!’ The blessed Holy One said, ‘Alefalef! Although I will create the world with the letter bet, you will be the first of all the letters. Only through you do I become יִחוּדָא (yiḥuda), one. With you, all counting begins and every deed in the world. No יִחוּדָא (yiḥuda), union, is actualized except by alef’” (Zohar 1:2b–3b).

Of the letters of Torah it says: ‘There is no early or late in Torah’ (BT Pesaḥim 6b). However, in the Throne [Shekhinah] all is arrayed fittingly. And this secret has been set aside for those wise of heart. 

And the enlightened will shine (Daniel 12:3)—these are the letters which have a mind to enter before the King, each one according to its תִּקּוּנא (tiqquna), order. From the side of Judgement each one entered from last to first, because the left arm is [the month of] Tishrei [see BT Rosh ha-Shanah 18a]. This is בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), in the beginning, and it is בְּ״א תִּשְׁרֵי (be-alef tishrei), in the first of Tishrei, because the world was created with Judgment [cf. Rabbenu Tam on BT Rosh ha-Shanah 27a]. Therefore they entered from last to first. But we have said that the world was created from the right side, and the letters entered from first to last? The mystery of the matter: I have said, the world is built by kindness (Psalms 89:3). Therefore when the letters entered from last to first, and then from first to last, the blessed Holy One did not want to create the world by them until He joined them together, the right side and the left side. Only then did He create the world by them.

He took א (alef), and then ב (bet) in order, and He took תש״ר (tav, shin, resh) in reverse order. He then placed י (yod) with them from His Name, and He created the world by them, that the building should endure, and they are: אביתש״ר (alef, bet, yod, tav, shin, resh). The letters of אֲבִי (avi), my Father, are: אֲשֶׁר בְּיָדוֹ נֶפֶשׁ כָּל חָי (Asher be-yado nefesh kal ai), in whose hand is the breath of each living thing (Job 12:10); ת (tav) is תּוֹרַת יְהוָה תְּמִימָה (torat Adonai temimah)the teaching of YHWH is perfect (Psalms 19:8); ש (shin) is שַׁבָּת (shabbat), Sabbath; ר (resh) is רֵאשִׁית חָכְמָה יִרְאַת יְהוָה (reshit ḥakhmah yirat Adonai), the beginning of wisdom—fear of YHWH (Psalms 111:10). And from all of these only with the letter ב (bet) did the blessed Holy One wish to begin. It is the building of the אָב (av), Father, the building of the world, and from there He began, because in the future by it He will build Jerusalem, as is said, בּוֹנֵה יְרוּשָׁלִַם יְהוָה (boneh yerushalayim Adonai)Builder of Jerusalem, YHWH (Psalms 147:2); אִם יְהוָה לֹא יִבְנֶה בַיִת (im Adonai lo yivneh vayit), if YHWH does not build a house [in vain do its builders labor on it] (Psalms 127:1). Also, the building of Torah and the World that is Coming are with the letter bet, and on her the world endures. In the time of its building, it is as the time the world was being created and built. And this is, Bereshit, in the beginning (Genesis 1:1). But when the First Temple was destroyed it was as if the world was welter and waste [cf. BT Sanhedrin 103a in the name of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai]. And this is, And the earth then was תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ (tohu va-vohu), welter and waste (Genesis 1:1). Immediately after it is built it is written, And YHWH said, ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3). Because all the letters shine there. Even though the אוֹר (or), light, is the letter א (alef) His light shines into bet with the ה״ (five) lights which is the upper ה (he) of יהוה (YHWH)” (Tiqqunie ha-Zohar 16a).