The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: חַשְׁמַל

Like a Mustard Seed in a Ring

Emeq ha-Melekh

“[Rabbi Berekhiah’s] disciples said to him: Rabbi from above to below we know, but from below to above we do not know. He replied: Is it not all one—below to above and above to below? They said: Rabbi, ascending is not like descending! One can run while descending, but it is not so while ascending. Moreover, the one who ascends can do so by a way other than the [way] he descends.

He sat and expounded for them: ‘Shekhinah is below just as Shekhinah is above’ (Seder Rabba de-Vereshit §440, 745). And what is Shekhinah? Say that this is the light emanated from the primordial light, Ḥokhmah. It also מְסַבֵּב (mesabev), turns everything around, as is written, Fullness—all the earth is His glory (Isaiah 6:3). What is its function here? A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king had seven sons, and he assigned each one his place. He said to them, ‘Sit, this one on the back of that one.’ The lowest one said, ‘I will not dwell below! I will not be so far from you!’ Saying to them, ‘I will hereby מְסוֹבֵב (mesovev), swing round, and see you all day long [cf. BT Ta’anit 31a; Vayiqrah Rabbah 4:8; Jeremiah 31:21].’ As is written, Fullness—all the earth is His glory. Why is He in their midst? To stand them up and make them endure” (Bahir §171).

“It has been taught: There are ten גַּלְגָּלִים (galggalim), spheres, and ten מַאֲמָרוֹת (ma’amarot), commands. Each and every sphere has its command. Not that it is surrounded by it, but rather it turns it [see Maimonides, Mishneh TorahHilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah 1:5; Guide of the Perplexed, 2:4–6].

This world is like a mustard seed in a ringWhy? Because of the spirit that blows upon it and sustains it. If this spirit were to be interrupted, the world would wither in an instant [cf. Isaiah 40:7–8; Job 34:14; BT Bava Batra 25a–b]” (Bahir §179).

“All the lights expanding, large and small, appear as the hub of a wheel [lit., כְּעֵין גַּלְגַּל (ke-ein galggal), as the eye of a wheel; or: as the look of a wheel]. All the spheres and worlds and their hosts appear in the center like a mustard seed. And they all go to and fro, whirling, never still….

From the abundant efflux of the great and awesome firmament spread the mighty seraphim, capable masters standing watch, conducting all the worlds—conducting mysterious things arranged by the blessed Holy One when He created the 18,000 worlds [see BT Avodah Zarah 3b; Zohar 1:23b–24a (TZ); Rabbenu Baḥya ben Asher on Numbers 10:35].

Within this firmament the spheres and their hosts are fixed. Because of its overwhelming strength, the spheres appear as a mustard seed. And from this exquisite firmament emanates one fine and lovely spark comprising every kind of תִפאֶרֶת (tif’eret), beauty. It is the light that stands above, reward of the world, covering it” (Berit Menuḥa, Second Way: The Way of Love, First Vowel, Sixth Vowel).

“קָו הַמִדָּה (Qav ha-Middah): Length and Breadth. Qav ha-Middah: Depth and Height. Qav ha-Middah: Circle and Square.

Established to be known through thirteen gates—twenty-six on the two sides. When they are engraved in their engravings, they are all one within this measure. Qav ha-Middah ascends and descends, engraved in its engravings on all sides.

Light Not Existing in Light, engraves, and the Spark of All Sparks bursts forth, striking within the Will of Wills, secreted within it, unknown.

When this Will desires to ramify, this Spark—concealed within Will, befitting and not befitting to exist as color—shoots out. When this Will ramifies, this Spark—splaying color and no color—strikes, entering into that extension, splaying forth in its colors. It ascends, becoming actualized through its ascent within Will and its emanation.

Will strikes its extension in concealment, unknown—emitting gossamer lights, coalescing as one. When they seek to emerge, that Spark, imbued with colors, strikes the extension and it becomes constricted. On account of the pressure, those diaphanous lights emerge, audible as one. Then the Spark displays colors within them, all dyed at once: white, red, green, and black. The Spark lingered there for twelve months, and then they were uprooted, and planted in another place.

This Spark ascends and descends, and is called בּוּצִינָא דְּקַרְדִינוּתָא (botsina de-qardinuta), Lamp of Adamantine Darkness. Enhancing and striking all the luminous shoots, it decrees, ‘Grow!’ [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 10:6]. Then springs gush forth from that supernal, primordial extension, irrigating and illuminating them all, and they flourish.

With the בּוּצִיצָא דְּקַרְדִינוּתָא (botsitsa de-qardinuta), Spark of Adamantine Darkness, the One who Shines, shines—ascending and descending, spreading out in all directions. Then it is called קָו מִדָּה (qav middah), Line of Measure, its measurement enduring above and below.

Line of Measure—Spark of Adamantine Darkness, Concealed of all Concealed, lustrous measure, configuring beauty for all. The beauty itself, emerging from the first extension, configures them. They stand within it, poised for calibration above and below.

One who attains this mystery and knows it, merits to know the wisdom of his Master. Happy is his portion in this world and in the world that is coming!” (Zohar Ḥadash 57a).

King David: כְּלִי-זֶמֶר (Keli-Zemer), Vessel of Song


“Rabbi Yehudah said, The lyre of the Temple had seven strings, as is written: A satiety of joys in Your presence (Psalms 16:11); do not read, שֹׂבַע (sova), satiety, but שֶׁבַע (sheva), seven! In the days of the Messiah eight, as is said: For the leader player, on הַשְּׁמִינִית (ha-sheminit), the eight-stringed lyre (ibid. 12:1). Of the world that is coming ten, as is said: On ten-stringed instrument and on lute, on the lyre with chanted sound (ibid. 92:4). Furthermore, it is said: Acclaim YHWH with the lyre, with ten-stringed lute hymn to Him. Sing Him a new song, play deftly with joyous shout (ibid. 33:2). You could say also that [our Mishnah will be] in accord with Rabbi Yehudah: Since, in the world that is coming, it will have more strings and its sound will be stronger, like that of a lute” (BT Arakhin 13b).

“Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said: The Book of Psalms was uttered with ten expressions of שֶׁבַח (sheva), praise, namely: נִיצוּחַ (nitsua), leading [Netsaḥ], נִגּוּן (niggun), melody [Ḥesed], מַשְׂכִּיל‎ (maskil), insight [Binah], מִזְמוֹר (mizmor), psalm [Gevurah], שִׁיר (shir), song [Ḥokhmah]; with אַשְׁרֵי (ashrei), happiness [Keter], תְהִלָּה (tehillah), praise [Malkhut], תְּפִלָּה (tefillah), prayer [Yesod]; הוֹדָאָה (hoda’ah), thanksgiving [Hod]; with הַלְלוּיָהּ (haleluyah), hallelujah [Tif’eret]. The greatest of them all is hallelujah, which includes the Name [יָהּ (Yah)] and praise [הַלְלוּ (halelu)] simultaneously.

Rav Yehudah said in Shemu’el’s name: the Song in Torah was uttered by Moses and Israel when they ascended from the Sea [see Exodus 15:1–18]. And who recited this הַלְל (halel), praise? The prophets among them ordained that Israel should recite it at every important epoch and at every misfortune—may it not come upon them! And when they are redeemed they recite [in gratitude] for their redemption….

Our Rabbis taught: As for all the songs and praises to which David gave utterance in the Book of Psalms, Rabbi Eli’ezer said: He spoke them in reference to himself; Rabbi Yehoshu’a said: He spoke them with reference to the community; while the Rabbis maintain: Some of them refer to the community, while others refer to himself. [Thus:] those which are couched in the singular bear upon himself, while those which are couched in the plural allude to the community. נִיצוּחַ (Nitsua), leading, and נִגּוּן (niggun), melody, [introduce psalms] relating to the future; מַשְׂכִּיל‎ (maskil), insight [indicates that it was spoken] through an interpreter [since it shares a root with שָׂכַל (sakhal), instructive]; [the superscription] לְדָוִד מִזְמוֹר (le-David mizmor), David psalm, intimates that the Shekhinah rested upon him and then he uttered [that] song; mizmor le-David, a David psalm, intimates that he [first] uttered [that particular] song and then the Shekhinah rested upon him. This teaches you that the Shekhinah rests [upon man] neither in indolence nor in gloom nor in frivolity nor in levity, nor in vain pursuits, but only in the joy of a mitsvah, for it is said, ‘But now, fetch me a lyre-player.’ And it happened, as the lyre-player played, the hand of YHWH was upon him (2 Kings 3:15)” (BT Pesaim 117a, cf. Rabbi Naḥman of Bratslav, Tiqqun ha-Kelali).

And this great fire let me not see again, that I may not die (Deuteronomy 18:16)—the blessed Holy One’s left [hand]. And what is that? The holy ḥayyot, living beings [whirling angels, wheels of the Chariot], and the holy seraphs, from the right and from the left. They are הַנְּעִימִים (ha-ne’imim), sweet melodies, which [ascend] high above, as is written, and still higher ones over them (Ecclesiastes 5:7). And it is also written, [… and their look and their fashioning as when a wheel is within a wheel….] As for their rims, they were high and they were fearsome, and their rims were filled with עֵינַיִם (einaim), eyes, all round the four of them […. And I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of many waters…] (Ezekiel 1:18). And around Him are angels. Those around them also bow down before them, kneeling and declaring: YHWH He is God! YHWH He is God!” (Bahir §145, cf. Zohar Ḥadash 5d–6a [MhN]).

“Rise, Rabbi Shim’on, and let us hear new matters from you on this verse [For the lead player, on shushan-edut, a David mitam]. First: לַמְנַצֵּחַ (la-menatseaḥ), For the lead player (Psalms 60:1), contains נֵצַח (Netsaḥ), Victory—נִגּוּן צַח (niggun tsaḥ), pure melody [lit., shining white melody], and by it יהוה (YHWH) is called a Man of War towards the nations of the world, but of Mercy and Justice towards Israel. And the mystery of the matter is contained in: and when the wicked perish—רִנָּה (rinnah), glad song (Proverbs 11:10) [thus when the blessed Holy One is menatseaḥ, victorious, over the wicked there is niggun tsaḥ, pure melody]. מ (Mem) and ל (lamed) are the secret of the seventy names that He has. Together with Netsaḥ and Hod they amount to seventy-two, which is numerically equivalent to חֶסֶד (Ḥesed). And the mystery of the matter: delights in Your right hand נֶצַח (netsaḥ), forever (Psalms 16:11).

הוֹד (Hod): הוֹדוּ לַיהוָה (Hodu l’Adonai), Give thanks to YHWH (1 Chronicles 16:8). צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq), Righteous One [Yesod], it is written: רַנְּנוּ צַדִּיקִים בַּיהוָה (rannenu tsaddiqim ba-Adonai), sing gladly, O righteous, of YHWH (Psalms 33:1), and also: רָנּוּ לְיַעֲקֹב שִׂמְחָה (rannu le-Ya’aqov simḥah), sing with gladness [Malkhut] for Jacob [Tif’eret] (Jeremiah 31:6). תִּפְאֶרֶת (Tif’eret) in Him: הַלְלוּ אֵל (hallelu El), praise God; הַלְלוּיָהּ (halleluyah): hallelu Yah, praise Yah (Psalms 150:1)—the Name of יְהֹוָה (YHWH). In נִגּוּן (niggun), melody, and in זֶמֶר (zemer), plucked song [cf. Song of Songs. 2:12]—Ḥesed and Gevurah. In שִׁיר (shir), song, and בְרָכָה (berakhah), blessing—Ḥokhmah and Binah. In אַשְׁרֵי (ashrei), happy—Keter. In תְהִלָּה (tehillah), praise—Malkhut.

מִזְמוֹר (Mizmor), a psalm [Gevurah], that has in it: רָז (raz), secret, and מוּם (moom), blemish, from the side of the זֶמֶר דְּאוֹרַיְיתָא (zemer de-orayyita), song of Torah, and זֶמֶר דִּצְלוֹתָא (zemer de-tselota), the song of prayer [cf. BT Sanhedrin 98b]. A zemer, plucked song, of the Other Side contains: זָר מוּם (zar moom), foreign blemish—‘Zemer in the house is destruction in the house’ (BT Sotah 48a). A menstruate, a slavegirl, a daughter of star and constellation worshipers, a prostitute—these are the letters of mizmor, a psalm [alluding to the offspring of any of these relations, namely, מַמזֵר (mamzer), bastard]. נִגּוּן (Niggun), melody [Ḥesed]—containing גַן (gan), garden [Malkhut]. And such is the beauty of the niggun, melody, which has in it הַלֵּל (hallel), praise, like: it is הוּא הַלַּיְלָה (hu-hallaylah), a night of watch, to YHWH, for His taking them out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:42) [in other words, not the whole melody is Loving-kindness but only the beauty of the melody tends towards it, which is the mystery of Hallel of the Exodus from Egypt]. אַשְׁרֵי (Ashrei), happy—with which everyone begins to offer praises [at the start of the AmidahAshrei, happy, is Keter, since א (alef) like Keter, is the beginning of the alefbet and the sefirot]. Ashrei, happy, the people who has it thus (Psalms 144:15). Of בְּרָכָה (berakhah), blessing, it is as in: אֲבָרְכָה (avarkhah), let me bless, YHWH at all times (Psalms 34:2) [בְּרָכָה (berakhah), blessing, is Binah, since the emanation of Binah is unceasing as blessings should be, see Zohar 3:290b (IR): ‘The world that is coming (Binah), constantly coming, never ceasing’]. תְהִלָה (Tehillah), praise: Always תְּהִלָּתוֹ (tehillato), His praise, in my mouth [Malkhut] (ibid.).

[For the lead player] עַל שׁוּשַׁן עֵדוּת (Al shushan-edut), on shushan-edut (Psalms 60:1)—Hod, a שׁוֹשַׁן (shoshan), rose, in which the red dominates the white, while with Netsaḥ the white dominates the red. But what is עֵדוּת (edut), testimony? The Righteous One [Yesod]—the covenant held by the heavens [Tif’eret/Ze’eir Anpin] and the earth [Malkhut]. As is written: הַעִידֹתִי (Ha-eidoti), I have called to witness, against you this day the heavens and the earth (Deuteronomy 4:26). What is מִכְתָּם (mikhtam), writ (Psalms 60:1)? It forms two words מָך (makh), humble, and תָם (tam), simple [alt., complete, consummate. Cf. Zohar 3:101a]. Humble—the Righteous One [Yesod]. Simple—the middle pillar [Tif’eret] on the rung of and Jacob was a אִישׁ תָּם (ish tam), simple man (Genesis 25:27). We consider the body and the covenant [Tif’eret and Yesod] to be one [which is why מָך (makh) and תָם (tam) are written as one word: מִכְתָּם (mikhtam), writ]. לְלַמֵד (Le-lamed), to teach—Ḥesed and Gevurah, for from there Torah was given ‘לִלמוֹד (Lilmod), to study, and לְלַמֵד (le-lamed), to teach’ (M Avot 4:5).

[Moses the Faithful Shepherd] said to him: What you say is all very well, however: To the lead player, הַשְּׁמִינִית (ha-sheminit), the eight-stringed (Psalms 12:1)—Netsaḥ should not move from Hod, which is the eighth sefirah, and that is why he says: לַמְנַצֵּחַ (la-menatseaḥ), To the lead player, the eight-stringed [rather than To the lead player on shushan-edut as you have it]. The Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai] responded: If that is so [i.e., if you want to be pedantic, one can ask an even more profound question]. Your rung is that of Binah; why, then, was it taught that ‘He gave Hod to Moses, as is written: And you shall set something of מֵהוֹדְךָ (me-hodekha), your grandeur, upon him (Numbers 27:20)?’

That is a good question that you have asked. The letter ה (he) ascends by the י (yod), five times ten, the fifty gates of Binah, expanding from esed to Hod. Indeed in each sefirah there are ten making fifty. Therefore, just one expansion from Binah to Hod [in other words Binah is included in Hod]. Subsequently the Righteous One [Yesod] comes and by himself takes all fifty gates, it being equivalent to all five [sefirot]. And it is called כֹּל (Kol), All [numerically equivalent to fifty], because it takes all fifty gates. And so too the כַּלָּה (kallah), bride [Malkhut], takes all of them [כֹּל (Kol), All, with the addition of ה (he) is feminine, i.e., kallah, bride]. He said ‘Now surely everything is falling into place.’

Moreover, לַמְנַצֵּחַ (la-menatseaḥ) can be rearranged as מַל עִם נֶצַח (mal im Netsaḥ), sputter within Netsaḥ. And that mal, sputter, is from חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber, from ח ש (ḥet, shin) [which are the first and last letters of חַיּוֹת אֵשׁ (ḥayyot esh), beings of fire]. And these are Hod and Netsaḥ, which correspond to two lips. Therefore lips are called חֵיוָן אֶשָּׁא מְמַלְּלָן (ḥeyvan esha memallelan), fiery beings speaking. And in Ḥagigah [12a–13b] the question is asked: ‘Until where is the Account of the Chariot?’ And the answer was given: From וָאֵרֶא (va-ere), and I looked (Ezekiel 1:4) until ḥashmal, amber (ibid., 27) [cf. Septuagint: ἠλέκτρου (elektron); Arabic: كهرباء (anbar)]. [חַשְׁמַל (Ḥashmal), amber, is an acronym for:] חַיּוֹת אֵשׁ מְמַלְּלוֹת (ḥayyot esh memallelot), fiery beings speaking. For from the side of Gevurah, they are called חֵיוָן אֶשָּׁא (ḥeyvan esha), beings of fire, and the river that flows from the humidity [lit., perspiration] of these living beings is Yesod. All three of them [Netsaḥ, Hod, and Yesod] form a chariot for the תִפְאֶרֶת אָדָם (Tif’eret Adam), Beauty of Man [Ze’eir Anpin]….

David removed [the shell called whirlwind] from his heart-mind and killed it, as is written: And my heart is חָלַל (ḥalal), pierced, within me (Psalms 109:22). And for this reason, he was privileged that a north wind should blow on his lyre [Malkhut], and about it is said: ‘Thus says YHWH God; Come from the four winds, O breath, [and breathe upon these slain, that they may live] (Ezekiel 37:9). And he used to play through it four kinds of melody on his lyre: a simple song, which is the secret of י (yod); a double song, which is the secret of יָהּ (Yah); a triple song, יהו (yod, he, vav); and, a quadruple song, יהוה (YHWH)” (Zohar 3:222b–227a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineas).

And as you come into town there, you shall encounter a band of prophets coming down from the high place, preceded by harp and drum and flute and lyre, and they will be speaking in ecstasy. And the spirit of YHWH shall seize you, and you shall go into ecstasy with them and you shall turn into another man (1 Samuel 10:5).

And so, when the spirit of God was upon Saul, David would take up the lyre and play, and Saul would find relief, and it would be well with him, and the evil spirit would turn away from him (1 Samuel 16:23)

The Maids Who Grind Grow Idle, for They are Now Few


“This קְלִפָּה (qelipah), shell… is thin and corresponds to the bran of  wheat, for here it sticks to the wheat and cannot be separated from there without grinding it in the mill-stones, which are correspond to the grinding molar in a man’s jaw, with which matters of Torah have to be ground until they are as fine flour. And in a sieve, which is the lips, the waste matter, which is the bran of Torah, is sorted out until the Halakhah is as pure fine flour. At that time, the heart and the brain and all those parts of the body through which the soul spreads, take that and the soul lives on it just as the body lives on things from this world. One against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14)—just as food for the body, so food for the soul, as is written: Come, partake of my bread (Proverbs 9:5).

And this shell, is like the shell that sticks to the kernel of the nut, for when the nut is soft the shell separates from the kernel without difficulty, but when the nut is dry, it is difficult for man to remove it from there, and the difficult problem still remains. For this reason the blessed Holy One commanded man to return [in repentance] during his youth, before the evil impulse makes him old, as is written: Before a gray head you shall rise (Leviticus 19:32)—before your own old age. And this shell, is fire, about which is written: [And after the fire,] a sound of minute stillness (1 Kings 19:12). [Another shell: darkness over the] deep (Genesis 1:2)—the space that is in the nut about which is written: [And after the fire,] a sound of minute stillness (1 Kings 19:12), for this is where the King comes: [And I saw, and, look, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud,] and fire flashing, and radiance all round it, and from within it like the appearance of חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber, from within the fire (Ezekiel 1:4)….

And all the people of the world on the outside know not how they eat nor do they know their secret, but the sages that are inside do know and they take from them. For the esophagus cannot be examined from the outside, for they do not know, but on the inside they do know and take until it enters the mill and is pulverized and cooked [cf. BT Behorot 45a; Berakhot 61a]. And the liver takes everything, as we had learnt, but from those offerings by fire issue forth stages that take before the liver. And what are they? They are the molar which eat and grind the sacrifices. Therefore, on the destruction of the Temple, it is written: And the maids who grind grow idle, for they are now few (Ecclesiastes 12:3). These are the first to grind….

Netsaḥ and Hod are the two halves of a body, like two twins, which is why they are called skies (Psalms 78:23). The two of them together are וו (vav, vav) of וֵשֶׁט (veshet), esophagus, from the left side, and they are the two molar teeth from the right side [cf. Exodus 30:36: And שָׁחַקְתָ (shaḥaqta), you shall pound it to fine powder. שְׁחָקִים (Sheḥaqim), skies, and שָׁחַקְתָ (shaḥaqta), you shall pound it to fine powder, share the root שָׁחַקְ (shaḥaq) ‘(to) powder’]….

And from the side of וֵשֶׁט (veshet), esophagus [before which there is grinding in the teeth it is said]: The people would שָׁטוּ (shatu), go about, and gather it (Numbers 11:8). It—the collection of decisions in Mishnah. שָׁטוּ (Shatu), go about [is an anagram of וֵשֶׁט (veshet), esophagus]. And grind it between millstones or pound it in a pestle and cook it in a cauldron and make it into cakes (ibid.). It follows that whoever brings out words of Torah, must grind them in his teeth in order to express words that are called שָׁלֵם (shalem), complete. But as for the others that are scorned, these words are swallowed when eaten greedily, without being ground in their molars and their teeth about them it is written: The meat was still between their teeth, it had not yet been chewed, when the wrath of YHWH flared against the people [i.e., the motley throng] (Numbers 11:33). From the root of him who said: Let me gulp down some of this red red stuff, for I am famished (Genesis 25:30) [עָיֵף (ayef), famished, is numerically equivalent to קַיִן (Qayin), Cain, who is the root of Esau]” (Zohar 3:226b–235a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

All Her Paths are Peace


Yah YHWH of Armies, God of Israel, Living God, El Shaddai. Lofty and high One, who dwells forever and holy His Name (Isaiah 57:15) engraved thirty-two wondrous paths with wisdom” (Sefer Yetsirah §1).

“What are these thirty-two [wondrous paths of wisdom]?… A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king ‘[residing] within the innermost chambers’ (BT Berakhot 10a), thirty-two in all. Now, each of the chambers has a path. Is it fitting for this king that everyone enter his chambers by way of his paths? You would say: No. Is it fitting for him not to display his pearls, his hidden treasures, his precious objects, and his filigree? You would say: No. What then does he do? He must touch the daughter, and include all the paths in her and in her garments. Whoever wishes to enter, let him look here” (Bahir §63).

“For look, every place called way in the Torah is a way open to all, like a road open to every person! So her ways (Proverbs 3:17)—ways opened by the patriarchs, who dug in the Great Sea [Shekhinah] and entered her… And all her paths are peace (ibid.). Who are her paths? Those paths emerging from above, all gathered by a single covenant named Peace, peace of the home [cf. BT Shabbat 152a], who conducts them into the Great Sea when it is agitated [alt., ‘when He is potent’], bringing it peace, as is written: and all her paths are peace (Proverbs 3:17)” (Zohar 2:31a–b, cf. ibid. 2:215a; 3:88a).

Every man shall revere his mother and his father, and My sabbaths you shall keep (Leviticus 19:3). These decrees are equal to each other; reverence for parents is equivalent to the honor due the Sabbath. With regard to one’s father, it first speaks of honor, as the verse states: If then I be a father, where is My honor? And if I be a master, where is My fear? (Malachi 1:6). כְבוֹדִי (Khevodi), My honor, reckons forty-two and comprises the Ten Utterances and thirty-two [iterations of] אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) in the Account of Creation. In every place, the wise inherit כָּבוֹד (kavod), honor (Proverbs 3:35). The sages explained that this כָּבוֹד (kavod), honor [numerically equivalent to thirty-two], refers to nothing but Torah, as the thirty-two אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) in Torah are His Honor [i.e., Binah, הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim)]. These sages of Torah, who are wise in Ḥokhmah, inherit this Honor [the מוֹחַין (moḥin), minds, of thirty-two אֱלֹהִים (elohim) (Sullam)]. This is not so for the fools about whom it is written, fools take away disgrace (ibid.). How do we know that someone ignorant in Torah is called a fool? As is written: Nor does the fool understand this (Psalms 92:7). זֹאת (Zot), this—Torah, as is written: וְזֹאת (ve-zot), and this, is the Torah that Moses set [before the children of Israel] (Deuteronomy 4:44).

And said (Genesis 1). Father appears in every saying, as many as [thirty-two times] and so it was (ibid.). And She carried out what He said at once. Because She did His commands without any delay in the thirty-two paths with them were created everything in the Works of Creation. She is called כָּבוֹד (kavod), Glory, Honor: And in His palace all says glory (Psalms 29:9). Blessed be the glory of YHWH from His Place (Ezekiel 3:12); ‘Where is the Place of His glory to adorn Him?’” (Zohar 3:82a, Ra’aya Meheimna Qedoshim).

“It is written: Her ways… All her paths (Proverbs 3:6). What is the difference between them? Way—which all the feet of people tread. Path—recently opened. Of this is said: But the path of the righteous is like light’s radiance, ever brighter till day has come. The way of the wicked is like darkness. [They know not on what they stumble] (Proverbs 4:18–19)” (Zohar 3:88a, Ra’aya Meheimna Qedoshim).

“And this is the meaning of: Her lips alone moving and her voice not heard (1 Samuel 1:13)lips are wings of the living beings [of the chariot in Ezekiel’s vision]. For the חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber, was [previously] חֵיוָן אֶשָּׁא מְמַלְּלָן (ḥeyvan esha memall’lan), fiery beings speaking, while [now] they are silent [cf. BT Ḥagigah 13b]. And this is why silent prayer was ordained, and thus the Work of the Chariot is without sound, for he speaks there to himself in a whisper. Three prayers were ordained [Shaarit, Mina, and Ma’ariv] and in each one יהוה (YHWH) is [enunciated] eighteen [times], making seventy-two letters in each [Amidah] prayer, in the [concluding sentences of each of the] eighteen blessings, [and three times seventy-two] makes 216 [letters] that are included in חֶסֶד (esed) [numerically equivalent to seventy-two]. [Three times seventy-two], together with the thirty-two paths comes to 250 less two [namely, 248 which is numerically equivalent to אַבְרָהָם (avraham), Abraham, who corresponds to Ḥesed (see Bahir §8)] that are included in the middle pillar” (Zohar 3:230a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineas).

And she is a path unknown to a bird of prey (Job 28:7), which is comprised of thirty-two paths, namely the thirty-two [iterations of] אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) [in the Account of Creation] from the aspect of supernal Mother [Binah] that is called Honor. And when they are included in the Daughter [Shekhinah] is called Heart and this is why there is Honor above and Heart below [כָּבוֹד (kavod), Honor, and לֵב (lev), Heart, are each numerically equivalent to thirty-two]” (Zohar 3:256b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineas, cf. Zohar 2:123a).


IMG_1217“Ten sefirot of emptiness—bridle, your mouth from speaking, bridle your heart from conceiving. And if your heart races return to the Place, as is written, Racing back and forth [like the appearance of sparks (or: lightening)] (Ezekiel 1:14)—concerning this a pact was sealed” (Sefer Yetsirah §5).

“But sometimes truth flashes out to us so that we think that it is day, and then matter and habit in their various forms conceal it so that we find ourselves again in an obscure night, almost as we were at first. We are like someone in a very dark night over whom the lightning flashes time and time again” (Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 4b, cf. BT Sanhedrin 98b).

“Like pondering a thought: the light of that thought suddenly darkens, vanishes; then it returns and shines—and vanishes again. No one can understand the content of that light. It is like the light that appears when water ripples in a bowl: shining here, suddenly disappearing—then reappearing somewhere else. You think that you have grasped the light, when suddenly it escapes, radiating elsewhere. You pursue it, hoping to catch it—but you cannot. Yet you cannot bring yourself to leave. You keep pursuing it” (Rabbi Moshe de León, Sheqel ha-Qodesh 113 translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 114).

“[In the center of the fire the likeness of the חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber (Ezekiel 1:4)]. It has been established that חֵיוָן אֶשָּׁא מְמַלְּלָן (ḥeivan esha memall’lan), fiery beings speaking, are the splendor that shines, it goes up and down, the fire that is burning. It exists and does not exist, for there is no one who can understand it in one place. No eyes or vision can master it. It is and it is not, in one place and then in another place. It goes up and down. In this appearance is hidden that which is hidden and that which is concealed. This is the mystery called חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber. Prophets must see, know, and contemplate within this with the vision of the heart and eye more than anything else.… All that they contemplate to see and to know is the speculum that does not shine. No prophet merited to contemplate the speculum that shines but Moses, the faithful prophet, for all the keys of the house were placed in his hand. When all the other prophets reached this amber to contemplate with their eyes, their thoughts were confused and the heart was not settled, and because of it they abandoned all corporeal images. Consequently, they saw within what they saw in silence” (Zohar Ḥadash 38b, adapted from Wolfson, Through a Speculum that Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, cf. Zohar 2:82a).

“In a barraita it is taught: [חַשְׁמַל (Ḥashmal)] עִתִּים חֲשׁוֹת עִתִּים מְמַלְּלוֹת (ittim ḥashot ittim mimallot), at times they are silent, at times they speak—when the utterance emanates from the mouth of the blessed Holy One they are silent, and when the utterance does not emanates from the mouth of the blessed Holy One they speak” (BT Ḥagigah 13b).