There is a tree in the earth and its height is great. The tree grew and became mighty, and its top reaches the heavens and its branches to the end of all the earth. Its foliage is lovely and its fruit great, and there is food for all in it. Beneath it the beasts of the field are shaded, and in its branches the birds of the heavens dwell, and all flesh is nourished from it (Daniel 4:7–9).
“I am the one who planted this tree for all the world to delight in. With him I spanned the All, calling him All, for all תָּלוּי (talui), hang, on him, all issues from him, all need him, all lookout for him and await him. From there souls blossom in joy. Alone I was when I made him. When I spread out My earth, in which I planted and rooted this tree—giving them joy in one another, rejoicing along with them—who was with Me (Isaiah 44:24)? To whom could I reveal this secret of Mine?” (Bahir §22, cf. Ibn Ezra on Genesis 1:26).
“This Tree has its roots in the Lebanon, which is the Throne of Glory, blessed be He, and the Lebanon corresponds to the supernal Lebanon, and its roots are seventy-two roots” (Seder Gan Eden).
“What is [that which we recite in the Qedushah:] Holy, holy, holy, and then, YHWH of armies: the whole earth is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3)? Holy—supernal Crown [Keter]; holy—root of the Tree [Ḥokhmah]; holy—clinging, yet separate from them all [Binah or Malkhut]. YHWH of armies: the whole earth is full of His glory.
What is: ‘holy—clinging, yet separate’? A parable: A king had sons whose sons had sons. When the sons do his will, he enters their midst, making all endure, satisfying all, causing goodness to flow upon them, so that both fathers and sons are sated. When the children do not do his will, he only gives the fathers as much as they need [and no more. Cf. Bahir §113. On Binah, or Malkhut, as separate from the sefirot, see Bahir §104–§105, §124, §175. Cf. Zohar 3:288a (IZ). On the ‘world of separation,’ see Zohar 3:159b. On son clinging to father, see Zohar 2:147a]” (Bahir §128–§129).
“They asked [Rabbi Berekhiah], ‘What is the letter צ (tsadi)?’ He said: יוֹ״ד (yod) נוּן (nun); tsadi—coupling of yod nun [alluding to יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17), see Bahir §86]. As is written, צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq), the Righteous One, is a יְסוֹד עוֹלָם (yesod olam), lasting foundation (Proverbs 10:25)” (Bahir §61).
One pillar extends from earth to the firmament. His name is צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq), Righteous One, named for the righteous. When there are righteous people in the world, the pillar is invigorated; if not, he is sapped. He upholds the entire world, as is written, The Righteous One is the יְסוֹד עוֹלָם (yesod olam), foundation of the world (Proverbs 10:25). If he weakens, the world cannot endure. So if the world contains just one righteous person, that person sustains the world [cf. BT Yoma 38b]” (Bahir §102).
“What is ש (shin)? It is root of the Tree—[say, rather] ש (shin) looks like the root of the Tree.
And what is [this] Tree you speak of? He said to him: The powers of the blessed Holy One—this one on the back of that one. Just as a tree produces fruit by means of water, so too the blessed Holy One multiplies the powers of the Tree by means of water. And what is water of the blessed Holy One? חָכמָה (Ḥokhmah), Wisdom—נִשְׁמַת (nishmat), soul-breath, of the righteous ones פּוֹרְחִין (porḥin), gushing, from the spring to the great channel, ascending and cleaving with the Tree. What causes them to פּוֹרֵחַ (poreaḥ), bloom? When Israel are righteous and good Shekhinah abides among them [cf. M Avot 3:6], saturating their deeds, in the blessed Holy One’s lap, and [He] makes them fruitful and multiplies [them]” (Bahir §118–§119).
“The blessed Holy One has a single tree containing twelve גְבוּלֵי אֲלַכְסוֹן (gevulei alakhson), diagonal borders: a north-eastern border, a south-eastern border; an upper eastern border, a lower eastern border; a north-western border, a south-western border; a upper western border, a lower western border; an upper northern border, a lower northern border; an upper southern border, a lower southern border; ‘Deepening and expanding until evermore, זְרֹעֹת (zero’ot), arms, of the world (Deuteronomy 33:27) [alluding to צוּרוֹת (tsurot), forms]’ (Sefer Yetsirah §47)—within them is the Tree.
To all of these diagonals there are corresponding overseers, twelve of them, and within the Wheel there are twelve overseers too—[reckoning] thirty-six overseers, [since] each of these has another, as is written, for he who is high has a higher one watching him (Ecclesiastes 5:7). It is found that to the east are nine, to the west are nine, to the north are nine, and to the south are nine. These are twelve, twelve, twelve, and they are overseers in [the] Teli, Wheel, and Heart. And all of them [reckon] thirty-six. The power of one is in its companion [too]. Even though there are twelve in each of the three, they all hold fast to each other [cf. Sefer Yetsirah §55]. Therefore, all thirty-six powers are in the first one, which is [the] Teli. And if you seek them in the Wheel, you find the very same ones. And if you seek them in the Heart, you find the very same ones. That is why to each one is twelve, yet they are found to be thirty-six since there are three, and חוֹזְרוֹת חֲלִילָה (ḥozrot ḥalilah), they rotate [cf. Sefer Yetsirah §19; BT Bava Batra 25a]. And the power of each one is found in its companion, so that every one [is] thirty-six, yet all of them together are not more than thirty-six forms and they are all perfected in [the] לֵ״ב (lev), Heart. Thirty-two are handed over to thirty-two, and there are four left [of the aforementioned thirty-six], and they [reckon] sixty-four forms [cf. Targum Yonatan to Ezekiel 1:6].
And how is it known to us that ‘thirty-two are handed over to thirty-two’? As is written, for he who is high has a higher one watching him—thus, there are sixty-four. Yet eight is lacking from the seventy-two names, and this is [alluded to] by, and still higher ones over them (ibid.)—the seven days of the week. But one is [still] lacking, and that is [alluded to] by And the gain of the earth is בַּכֹּל (ba-kol), in all. A king opposite a field (ibid. 5:8). What is יִתְרוֹן (yitron), gain? The place from which the earth was hewn—what was yitron, left. And why were they yitron, profited? Every thing in the world [from] which its inhabitants seek to derive their benefit is yitron, a gain [cf. Qohelet Rabbah on 5:8]” (Bahir §95).
“There are three princes: Teli, Wheel, and Heart. Each one is twelve, and the three therefore [reckon] thirty-six, by which the world is sustained [see BT Sanhedrin 97b; Sukkah 45b], as is written: The Righteous One is the foundation of the world (Proverbs 10:25)” (Bahir §101).
“Rabbi Berekhiah sat and expounded: What is the תְּלִי (Teli)? This is the likeness that is before the blessed Holy One, as is written, His locks are תַּלְתַּלִּים (taltallim), curled (Song of Songs 5:11) [the Teli is like a serpentine spine which twists the heavens, i.e., Draco, Axis Mundi, see Baraita de-Shemu’el, 1: ‘The elusive Serpent (Job 26:13) is the Teli’; Sefer Yetsirah §59a: ‘The Teli in the world is like a king on his throne.’ On the resemblance of the spine to a serpent, see BT Bava Qamma 16a]. What is the גַלגַל (galgal), Wheel? It is the בֶּטֶן (beten), Belly [‘Mother of the World,’ Binah, see Bahir §104. On the Wheel, see BT Shabbat 151a]. What is the לֵב (lev), Heart? Heart of the heavens (Deuteronomy 4:11). In it are the ל״ב (thirty-two) paths of Wisdom” (Bahir §106).
“Rav Raḥmai said: The righteous and devout in Israel who lift Me up over the whole world through their merits, from them the Heart is sustained, and the Heart sustains them [cf. JT Terumot 8:4, 46b]” (Bahir §97, cf. ibid., §185).
“Why is it called קָרְבָּן (qarbban), sacrifice? Because it מְקָרֵב (meqarev), draws near, the holy powers, as is written, וְקָרַב (ve-qarav), and join, them one to another, into one Tree; and they shall become one in your hand (Ezekiel 37:17)” (Bahir §109).
“This is the Explicit Name that was written on Aaron’s forehead. The Explicit Name containing seventy-two letters and the Explicit Name containing twelve letters were handed over by the blessed Holy One to the [angel] מַסְמְרֵיה (Masmeriah) who stands before the Curtain. He gave them to Elijah on Mount Carmel, and with them he ascended and did not taste the taste of death. These are the explicit, the precious, and the magnificent names [cf. BT Qiddushin 72b]. There are twelve names, one for each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel:
אַהְצִי צְיַהְרוֹן אַבְרוֹחְיַהְרוֹן וּשבוּבַ נְומַקְרוֹן דַמוֹרַטְרוֹן צְפצַפְשִיתְרוֹן יֶהוֹֹדְמֵירוֹן וּחַייַהְרוֹן בְרַקיַהְאוֹן עַרשְיַהְ גְאוֹן כֵסֵאיַהְ מְנַגמהְוֹן הוּהוּ יַהְ הֶיוֹ יַה אַהְ אַהְוהְ דְמַהְדִירוֹן
All of them are encompassed by the Heart of the heavens, and are divided into four names, male and female, overseen by Teli, Wheel, and Heart—they are מַעְיָנוֹת הַחָכְמָה (ma’ayanot ha-ḥokhmah), the Wellsprings of Wisdom” (Bahir §112).