The Nut Garden

Gleanings of Zohar

Tag: Creation

Partners in Creation

handshake“The blessed Holy One rules humanity (2 Samuel 23:3); who rules the blessed Holy One? As it were, the righteous one (ibid.), for the blessed Holy One decrees and he abolishes” (Zohar 3:15a, cf. BT Mo’ed Qatan 16b).

“Do not read You are עַמִּי (ammi), My people (Jeremiah 30:3), but rather You are עִמִּי (immi), with Me, becoming My partner! Just as I made heaven and earth by speaking, as is said: By the word of YHWH, the heavens were made (Psalms 33:6), so do you. Happy are those engaged in Torah!” (Zohar 1:5a).

“Resh Lakish said, ‘Why is it written: There was evening and there was morning, יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי (yom ha-shishi), the sixth day (Genesis 1:31)? Why the extra letter ה [the definite article ה, appears only in this phrase not in any of the other corresponding phrases describing the other five days of Creation]? This teaches that the blessed Holy One stipulated a condition with the works of Creation, saying to them: ‘If Israel accepts Torah [given at Mount Sinai on the sixth day of the month Sivan], you will endure. If not, I will return you to welter and waste (Genesis 1:2)’” (BT Shabbat 88a, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 2b-3b; Zohar 1:47a; 2:63b).

“[Resh Lakish taught:] Greater is he that lends than he that gives gifts; but he that aids by taking part in a business undertaking is greater than either” (BT Shabbat 63a, cf. Mishneh Torah, Laws of Gifts to the Poor 10:7-14).

That God had created לַעֲשׂוֹת (la-asot), to make (Genesis 2:3). What is לַעֲשׂוֹת (la-asot)? That the bodies of demons remained, for the [seventh] day had been sanctified and they had not been made and they remained לַעֲשׂוֹת (la-asot), to be made—spirits with no body. Here, too: It is time לַעֲשׂוֹת (la-asot), to act, for YHWH (Psalms 119:126)—לַעֲשׂוֹת (la-asot), to actualize. [Because Creation] she is left unadorned and incomplete” (Zohar 2:155b).

He Daily, Continually, Renews the Work of Creation

“[YHWH founded the earth by wisdom;] He establishes the heavens by understanding (Proverbs 3:19). Why establishes [written in the future-tense and not past-tense like the verb founded]? Because He establishes, every single day ceaselessly. They were not arranged one at a time; rather, every day He arranges them. This corresponds to the mystery that is written: The heavens are not pure in His eyes (Job 15:15). Now, would you imagine that this indicates a defect in the heavens? Rather, their significance, because of the intense love and desire that the blessed Holy One feels toward them and His fondness for them. For even though He arrays them every single day, in His eyes they do not seem fittingly arrayed, because of His love for them and His desire to shine upon them constantly, ceaselessly; for the world that is coming radiates scintillating lights everyday continually, incessantly, illumining them. So, they are not pure in His eyes. It is not written merely they are not pure, but rather, they are not pure in His eyes. Therefore, He establishes the heavens by understanding” (Zohar 1:207a).

Man’s days are like grass, like the bloom of the field, thus he blooms (Psalms 103:15). And it is said: A lad I was and now I am old (Psalms 37:25). And later: [his flesh would become sleeker than in youth,] he’d return to the days of his prime (Job 33:25). A tree from which the old branches were cut off, but they grew again from its roots, as at the beginning. For they die when old and return to this world as children. And this is the mystery of the blessed Holy One ‘Who renews in His goodness every day continually the act of Creation’ [morning liturgy]. For a thousand die each day and a thousand are renewed each day” (Ra’aya Meheimna Pinḥas).

“The House, in its being built (1 Kings 6:7). The verse does not read when it was built, but rather in its being built, every single time” (Zohar 1:74b). 

He Created Worlds and Destroyed Them?

url-1“Israel is the kernel of the world; Israel arose in מַחֲשָׁבָה thought. Other nations, who are the קְלִפָּה 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)” (Sifra di-Tsni’uta, Zohar 2:108b).

“אֵלֶּה (elleh), these, are the generations of the heaven and the earth (Genesis 2:4). It has been established that wherever it is written: אֵלֶּה (elleh), these, cancels that which was mentioned before [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 30:3]. So the use of the word אֵלֶּה (elleh) [conceals] the generations of formlessness hinted at in the verse: And the earth was without form (Genesis 1:2). In reference to those [generations of formlessness] it is said that the blessed Holy One created worlds and destroyed them [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 3:7]. Thus, it is written: The earth was without form and void (Genesis 1:2). Why did the blessed Holy One create worlds if He intended to destroy them? It would have been better had he not created them at all! But this is certainly a mystery. What is the meaning of ‘He destroyed them?’ It cannot be that the blessed Holy One destroyed the makings of His own hands. Furthermore, these are the heavens about which it is said, for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke (Isaiah 51:6). If it is so, then the blessed Holy One first created and then destroyed.

The secret is that the blessed Holy One created the world by the Torah, as it is written: בְּרֵאשִׁית (bereshit), with beginning (Genesis 1:1), about which is written: YHWH created me as the, רֵאשִׁית (reshit), beginning, of His way (Proverbs 8:22). And by this רֵאשִׁית (reshit), beginning, He created the [supernal] heavens and the earth [i.e. the six sefirot whose creation are hinted at by one permutation of בְּרֵאשִׁית (bereshit), namely בָּרָא שִׁית (bara shit), created six]. He sustained them with the covenant which is in בְּרִית אֵשׁ] בְּרֵאשִׁית (berit esh), covenant of fire] as it is written: If בְרִיתִי (beriti), My covenant, were not day and night, it is as if I have not established the ordinances of heaven 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 lands, about which King David wrote, I will walk before YHWH in the lands of the living (Psalms 116:9).

After He created the heavens and the earth upon formlessness, without any foundation—which is the covenant—to support them [cf. Job 26:7]. Because of this the blessed Holy One, wanted to give Torah, which is 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 [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 2b; 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, about which it is written: Blessed be the glory of YHWH from His place (Ezekiel 3:12)… Torah designates the civilized world. The nations of the world who did not accept it have remained wasted and dry. This is [the meaning of] ‘the blessed Holy One created worlds and destroyed them,’ those who did not maintain the precepts of Torah. It does not mean He shattered His own makings as people may presume [cf. BT Sanhedrin 103a in the name of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai]. Why should He destroy His own children about whom it is written: בְּהִבָּרְאָם, (be-hibbare’am), when they were created (Genesis 2:4). בְּהִבָּרְאָם (be-hibbare’am)—[read instead:] בְּה‘ בְּרָאָם (be-he bira’am), He created them with [the letter] ה [which is written especially small in Genesis 2:4, cf. Bereshit Rabbah 12:9; Zohar 1:86b]. Because of those converts from among the nations of the world the small letter ה of אַבְרָהָם (Avraham), Abraham, fell during the fifth millennium. [And the river was wasted and dried up (Isaiah 19:5):] Wasted—the First Temple; dried up—the Second Temple.

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

There is a thing of which one would say, “See this, it is new.” It already has been in the עֹלָמִים (olamim), eons, that were before us (Ecclesiastes 1:10).

ב: Beginning of Increase

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“Rav Hamnuna Sava said: ‘We find the letters backward [in the first verse of the Torah]: ב first, followed by בְּרֵאשִׁית :ב (Bereshit), In the beginning, followed by בָּרָא (bara), created. Then א first, followed by אֱלֹהִים :א, 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. As He verged on creating the world, all the letters presented themselves before Him, from last to first.

The letter ת 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 א to ת 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 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, 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 take you. So whoever wants to tell a lie will first lay their foundation of truth and then construct the lie. For ש is a letter of truth, a true letter of the patriarchs, who were united in it; ק”ר are the letters that appear on the evil side. In order to survive, they entangle the letter ש, forming קֶשֶׁר (qesher), conspiracy [cf. BT Shabbat 104a]. Seeing this, she left His presence.

The letter צ 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 צַדִּיק (tsaddiq), righteous—loving righteousness (Psalms 11:7). It is fitting to create the world by me!’ He replied, ‘צ (Tsadi), you are צַדִּיק (tsaddiq), righteous, but you should remain hidden—not so revealed—so as not to provide the world a pretext.’ How so? She is י .נ 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 י faces backward… They were not turned face to face… it [ י ] looked upwards… it [ י ] 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 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 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 entered. She said to Him, ‘Master of the worlds, may it please You to create the world by me, for by me סְמִיכָא (semikhah), support, exists for those who fall, as it is written, סוֹמֵךְ יְהוָה (Somekh YHWH), 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 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, ‘נ, return to your place, for because of you ס has returned to her place [נ alludes to נוֹפְלִים (nofelim), the fallen, which are supported by ס]. Depend on her.’ She returned immediately, leaving His presence.

The letter מ 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 and ך, for the world should not be without a king.’

At that moment כ 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 כ 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, ‘כ, כ, 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 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 entered. She said to Him, ‘Master of the worlds, may it please You to create the world by me, for by me You 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 it 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, 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 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 it is written: זָכוֹר (Zakhor), Remember, the Sabbath day, to hollow 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. She immediately left His presence.

The letter ו 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, ‘ו, it is enough for you and ה 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 and ג 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. ד is poor; ג (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 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 stood but did not enter. The blessed Holy One said to her, ‘א, א, why do you not enter My presence like all of the other letters?’ She replied, ‘Master of the world! Because I saw all the letter leaving Your presence fruitlessly. What could I do there? Further more, look, You have given this great gift to the letter ב, 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, ‘א, א! Although I will create the world with the letter ב, 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 א’” (Zohar 1:2b-3b).

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 תִקוּנא (tiqqunei), perfection/order/adornment. From the side of Judgement each one entered from last to first, because the left arm is [the month of] Tishrei. This is בְּרֵאשִׁית (bereshit), and it is בְּ”א תִּשְׁרֵי (be-alef Tishrei), in the first of Tishrei, because the world was created with Judgment [cf. Rabbeinu 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 חֶסֶד (ḥesed), love (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, and then ב in [descending] order, and he took ת ,ש ,ר in reverse [ascending] order. He then placed י with them from His name, and He created the world by them, that the building should endure, and they are: א ,ב ,י ,ת ,ש ,ר. The letters א ,ב ,י are אֲשֶׁר בְּיָדוֹ נֶפֶשׁ כָּל חָי In Whose hand is the breath of each living thing (Job 12:10); ת is תּוֹרַת יְהוָה תְּמִימָה The teaching of YHWH is perfect (Psalms 19:8); ש is שַׁבָּת (Shabbat), Sabbath; ר is רֵאשִׁית חָכְמָה יִרְאַת יְהוָה The beginning of wisdom—fear of YHWH (Psalms 111:10). And from all of these only by the letter ב 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 it is said, בּוֹנֵה יְרוּשָׁלִַם יְהוָה Builder of Jerusalem, YHWH (Psalms 147:2); אִם יְהוָה לֹא יִבְנֶה בַיִת 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 by the letter ב, and on it the world endures. In the time of its building, it is as the time the world was being created and built. And this is, When God began to create (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 (ohr), light, is the letter א His light shines into the ב with the five lights which is the upper ה of יְהוָה” (Tiqqunie ha-Zohar 16a).

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