The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: crown

A Man’s Table Atones for Him

“As long as the Temple stood, the altar atoned for Israel; now a man’s table atones for him” (BT Berakhot 55a; Menaḥot 97a).

“Faithful Shepherd, prepare a table for your Master, for Him and His Matronita, with all sorts of delicacies, to fulfill in it: This is the table that is before YHWH (Ezekiel 41:22) [cf. Zohar 2:153b–155a]. For until now, everyone was enjoying from the King’s table, as it says: Come, partake of my bread, [and drink the wine I have mixed] (Proverbs 9:5). Bread—Written Torah [Ze’eir Anpin]. Wine—Oral Torah [Malkhut], in which there are many savories, flavors of Torah, from all the adornments and delicacies in the world and of the King.

The Faithful Shepherd rose and began to speak: Aaron the priest, rise from your sleep to slaughter oxen and sheep and goats and lambs and fowl, and all varieties needed for the King’s feast. לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים (Leḥem ha-panim), bread of the Presence (Exodus 25:30), corresponding to the two tablets of Torah, written on both their sides [lit., מִזֶּה וּמִזֶּה הֵם כְּתֻבִים (mizeh u-mizeh hem ketuvim), from this and from this they were written] (Exodus 32:15). זֶּה (Zeh), this—twelve faces, which are [the twelve letters of יהוה (YHWH) written three times]: יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה (yivarekha Adonai), YHWH bless you… יָאֵר יְהוָה (ya’er Adonai), YHWH light up… יִשָּׂא יְהוָה (yisa Adonai), YHWH lift up (Numbers 6:24–25). The second זֶּה (zeh), this, is: אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)—twelve living beings, of which it says, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and the four had the face of an ox on the left side; the four also had the face of an eagle (Ezekiel 1:10). And it says of them: And each one had four faces (ibid., 6). That is, in each of the three beings there are four faces: lion, ox, eagle, and man, and three times four amounts to twelve living beings. That is the meaning of, And זֶה אֶל זֶה (zeh el zeh), one unto another, cried and said, [Holy, holy, holy, is YHWH of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory] (Isaiah 6:3). They also correspond to the twenty-four books of Torah. And this is: זֶה (zeh), This, is the table, that is before YHWH (Ezekiel 41:22). Utensils on the King’s table are Masters of Mishnah—masters of prayer arranged to correspond to the sacrifices.

He opened and said: and you shall make a table of acacia wood (Exodus 25:23). Come and see: those present at the King’s meal had goodly and fine customs to show they were members of the King’s table. First the eldest would wash his hands. When they entered to sit for the meal, the oldest would sit at the head of the table. The second would be below him, and the third below the second. These are called the ‘three beds,’ corresponding to the three Patriarchs, and to the priests, the Levites and Israel. From here on, they had no order, rather whoever came first was seated.

Second, the master of the house breaks bread so that he may apportion it generously [lit., with a good eye]. He first completes [the blessing] and then breaks it. The Rabbis of the Mishnah have arranged it so that none of those reclining at the feast table are permitted to taste until the giver of the blessing has tasted first. The one who apportions is not permitted to taste until all present have finished saying ‘amen.’ And if he wishes to delegate honor [by inviting another to break bread] he may do so. In addition, it is said that the guest blessed [the meal after it was eaten] so that he bless the master of the house [see BT Berakhot 58a]. And the mystery of the matter: The master of the house breaks—the middle pillar, קָו הָאֶמְצָעִי (qav ha-emtsa’i), the middle cord. And on the Sabbath, he must break from two cuts: הה (he, he). The master of the house is ו (vav) in the middle. In order not to appear a glutton, he may apportion to each one a piece the size of an egg. What is the size of an egg? It is י (yod) and י (yod) which are the vocalizations of the Holy Name [יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNWY)] called ‘crumbs the size of an olive’ [see M Berakhot 7:1–2; Kil’ayim 8:5; Terumot 7:3; Ḥallah 1:2; Shabbat 10:5]. These correspond to drops of seed. And whoever disparages these crumbs, throwing them out in an inappropriate place, poverty chases him and he will constantly wander [cf. BT Pesaḥim 111b; Ḥullin 105b], as is written, he wanders for bread—where is it? (Job 15:23). Bread—Torah; he cries out, looking for someone who will have compassion on him, but will find no one.

Crumbs the size of an olive belong to the Righteous One [Yesod], who presses these olives [Netsaḥ and Hod. Cf. BT Berakhot 52b; Zohar 1:14b]. The אוֹרֵחַ (oreaḥ), guest, blesses, as is written: But אֹרַח (oraḥ), the path, of the righteous is like light’s radiance (Proverbs 4:18). Blessings on the righteous man’s head (Proverbs 10:6)—Vitality of the Worlds [Yesod]. Therefore, the guest makes the blessing.

As he was speaking, the Holy Lamp came to him, and said: Faithful Shepherd, one day I went along with the Companions to an inn. There was a child there who rose and by himself prepared for us a lamp and a table, as if he were twenty years old. Yet he was only a five year old boy. He set that table with different dishes and drinks and said, ‘The Rabbis have decreed that the master of the house breaks bread and the guest makes the blessing. Yet, I am young in years, and you are aged. Therefore was I awed and feared to speak my mind to you (Job 32:6) until I obtain permission from you.’ They said to him: Speak up my son, angel of God [for more on this יַנוּקָא (yanuqa), child, a wunderkind-and-enfant-terrible who amazes and teases, challenges and stumps the rabbis, see Zohar 3:186a–192a, cf. M Avot 5:26–27: ‘Rabbi Yose son of Yehudah of Bavli village said: When you learn from the young, what is it like? Like eating unripe grapes or drinking wine straight from the vat. When you learn from the old, what is it like? Like eating ripe grapes and drinking old wine. Rabbi Me’ir said: Do not look at the flask but at what it contains, for a new flask may contain old wine, and an old flask may not contain anything, even new wine’].

He said to us: ‘Do you desire indulgences without battle, or bread of battle?’ [the child may be playing on לֶחֶם (leḥem), bread, and לָחֶם (laḥem), war (see Judges 5:8); cf. Zohar 3:188b: ‘Whoever wants bread, let him eat by the mouth of the sword’; Proverbs 13:25: The righteous man eats for the sating of his gullet, but the belly of the wicked will want]. The Rabbis of the Mishnah decreed that mealtime is a time of war. If you desire to battle over it let no one eat and he who has won the battle shall eat first and apportion to the rest. The Companions said to him: You are still small, my son, and you have yet to learn how mighty men wage battle with sword, in waving the sword, with lance, with bow and arrows, and with slingstones.

He said to us: Let not the buckler of armor boast like the unfastner (1 Kings 20:11) [one shouldn’t boast of his prowess before the battle, but only after winning]. It has been explained that whoever reads the recitation of Shema at his bedside is as if he holds a double-edged sword, as is written: Exultations of God in their throat and a double-edged sword [lit., a sword of mouths] in their hand (Psalms 149:6) [cf. BT Berakhot 5a; Song of Songs 3:7–8 (included in the recitation of Shema): Look, Solomon’s bed—sixty warriors round it of the warriors of Israel. All of them wielding the sword trained in battle, each with his sword on his thigh out of terror in the nights]. The waving of the sword must be done in the six directions, as was explained, in order to make Him reign over the heavens, the earth, and the four corners of the world. ו (Vav)—body of the sword; י (yod)—head of the sword; הה (he, he)—two edges [lit., mouths]; אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)—sheath of the sword [cf. Leviticus 26:33; Tiqqnuei ha-Zohar 8b].

The רֹמַח (romaḥ), lance, is the 248 words in the recitation of Shema, and together with the six words in the unification [בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד (Barukh shem kevod malkhuto le-olam va-ed), Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever], they total רוֹמַח (romaḥ), lance [spelled fully with ו (vav), numerically equivalent to 254]. The מָגֵן (magen), shield, is with sword: מִיכָאֵל גַּבְרִיאֵל נוּרִיאֵל (Mikhael, Gavriel, Nuriel), Michael, Gabriel and Nuriel. They serve the three Patriarchs [Ḥesed, Gevurah and Tif’eret]. The bow [Yesod] shoots arrows, but ‘Any seed that does not shoot forth like an arrow does not beget offspring’ (BT Ḥagigah 15a; Niddah 43a). The sling is the recitation of Shema Yisra’el, and the five slingstones—שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה (Shema Yisra’el Adonai Elohenu Adonai), Hear, O Israel, YHWH our God, YHWH (Deuteronomy 6:4) [Ḥesed, Gevurah, Tif’eret, Netsaḥ, Hod]—correspond to David [Malkhut]: and he chose five smooth stones from the creek [and put them in the shepherd’s pouch he had, in the satchel, and his slingshot was in his hand, and he came forward toward the Philistine] (1 Samuel 17:40). When he placed them into the sling, the lip, Shekhinah, all five turned into one stone and killed the Philistine [שָׂפָה (safah), lip, and שְׁכִינָה (Shekhinah) are numerically equivalent].

And until now, I have been זָרִיקְנָא (zariqna), throwing, the stone at Samael, a stone of siege [alluding to the musical intonation זַרְקָא (zarqa), thrown. On the image of prayer shot from a sling, see Bahir §89–§91, §178; Zohar 1:23a–24b (TZ); cf. Judges 20:16]. I have ruined his siege and lowered him down. Therefore, I said to you, Let not the buckler of armor boast like the unfastner. Now it is clear to you that, indeed, I do know how mighty men wage battle with swords, with lances, with bows and with slings. We were astonished and could not speak before him. He said to us: Rabbis let us now see who will get נַהֲמָא (nahama), bread, the לֶחֶם הַמּוֹצִיא (leḥem ha-motsi), bread of ‘[Who] brings forth’ (Grace after Meals).

He opened, saying: When it happens that you eat of the bread of the land, you shall תָּרִימוּ (tarimu), present, a donation to YHWH (Numbers 15:19). How is the Shekhinah אַתְרִימָת (atrimat), raised, who is the ה (he) of ‘הַמּוֹצִיא (ha-motsi),’ regarding which the Masters of Mishnah have decreed that whoever breaks the bread of הַמּוֹצִיא (ha-motsi) must be precise in pronouncing the ה (he)? [cf. BT Berakhot 38b; ZḤ 87b]. Surely it has been decreed by the Masters of Mishnah that, ‘Chaff and straw are exempt from tithing’ [see, Zohar 2:120b (RM), cf. ibid. 2:272a; TZ 17, 31a; 69, 114a; TZḤ 113c]. When She is in the chaff and straw She is in prison, and the ה (he) does not have permission to rise to the מ (mem) [Ze’eir Anpin] to become, with it, מַה (Mah), What [numerically equivalent to the full spelling of יהוה (YHWH): יוד הא ואו הא (Yod, He, Vav, He)]. This is the meaning of תְרוּמָה (terumah), raise, which is the ה״ (five) of the five books of Torah, in which it says: and Moses was on the mountain forty days… (Exodus 24:18) [תְרוּמָה (terumah) can be read as: תּוֹרָה מ״ (Torah arba’im), Law forty].

Our Rabbis referred to the chaff and straw of the wheat, when they said that the tree of which Adam ate was wheat [see BT Berakhot 40a]. For by eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, he drew ח״ט (ḥet, tet), chaff and straw [alluding to חֵטְא (ḥet), offence], near the ה (he) [Shekhinah]. י״ (Ten) was gone from it, its tithing, therefore, when She is in straw and chaff which correspond to the removal of the foreskin and the uncovering of the male organ it is exempt from tithing [two layers of skin cover the penis, one of which is cut off and the other is cut open in פּרִיעָה (peri’ah), uncovering, at a ritual circumcision]. For י (yod) has no permission to join ה (he), which are man and woman. And this is the mystery of י (yod) in אִישׁ וְאִשָּׁה (ish ve-ishah), man and woman [cf. BT Sotah 17a]. Therefore, whoever breaks the bread must be precise pronouncing ה (he) and must break the bread where it is nicely baked, because ripening is the completion of fruit.

Ten things one should perform for the meal: first is washing hands; second is preparation of the two loaves for Sabbath [see BT Berakhot 39b; Shabbat 117b]; third is to eat of three meals and add from weekdays to holiness; fourth is to light a candle on the table, as was explained, that a table should be to the north side, and the candle on the south, and to recline, as was explained that if they recline together, one makes the blessing for everyone.

And with Sabbath, one should add from the secular to the holy in everything he does, with his food and drink, his clothing and his reclining [cf. Mekhilta, Baḥodesh 7; JT Berakhot 4:1, 7c, 13d; BT Berakhot 27a. Cf. Bereshit Rabbah 11:7; Zohar 2:47b]. He must prepare a fine sofa with many pillows and embroidered cushions from all that he has in his house, as when preparing the marriage canopy for the bride, because Sabbath is both a queen and a bride. And for this reason the Masters of Mishnah used to hasten to come out on Sabbath eve to welcome Her on the way. And they used to say: ‘בֹּאִי כַּלָּה בֹּאִי כַּלָּה (Boi kalah, Boi kalah), Come, O bride! Come, O bride!’ [see BT Shabbat 119a: ‘Rabbi Ḥanina robed himself and stood at sunset of Sabbath eve (and) exclaimed, Come and let us go forth to welcome the queen Sabbath. Rabbi Yannai donned his robes, on Sabbath eve and exclaimed, Come, O bride, Come, O bride!’]. Thus, one should arouse song and gladness for Her on that table.

There is yet another secret: just as one should receive a lady by lighting many lamps [so too] for the Sabbath, and with many delights, fine clothes, a house arrayed with many adornments, and with a beautiful sofa arranged for everyone. For gladness and preparation cause the evil slavegirl to remain in the dark in hunger, in weeping, in mourning, and in black dress like a widow. When this one is filled, this one is parched.

The good impulse is the Holy Matronita. The holy מַלְכוּת (Malkhut), Kingdom, that descends on Sabbath, comprised of ten sefirot. She is decorated with seven names that are not erased, with many chariots of living beings, and with many armies and camps. The King goes out to Her with many camps, and the evil impulse, which is the [wicked] slavegirl remains in the dark, like a widow without her husband, without [any] chariots.

It was said of those who sacrifice and burn incense to the queen of the heavens and the constellations, which I did not command (Deuteronomy 17:3), worship the slavegirl that rules on the eve of Sabbath and the eve of the fourth day. What do they do? They wear black clothes, extinguish their lights, and lament on Sabbath nights to join with her, because One against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14) [cf. Zohar 2:275a; Ibn Ezra, Perush ha-Torah on Exodus 20:14; Idel, Saturn’s Jews, p. 31–2, n. 120].

After Israel sinned and the Temple was destroyed, it is said regarding the Shekhinah, Holy Mother: How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How has she become like a widow! (Lamentations 1:1). People extinguish lamps and candles on the ninth of Av, and sit like mourners to join in the sorrow of the Shekhinah, because they caused Her all this calamity [but not on the Sabbath].

Fifth is the כּוֹס (kos), cup, for saying, וַיְכֻלּוּ (vayekhullu), then they were completed (Genesis 2:1). Sixth is to speak words of Torah at the table. Seventh is to extend the meal and allow the poor to come to the table. Eighth is washing hands with finger bowl water. Ninth is the blessing after the meal. Tenth is the cup for the blessing [after the meal]. It is necessary to repeat [these ten things] and to order them in accordance with the holy mystery, for She is comprised of ten sefirot. She is the table of the blessed Holy One from the side of Gevurah. Hence, the Rabbis have explained that the table should face the north [see Exodus 26:35, 40:22; BT Yoma 21b, 33b].

First, washing of hands: the Rabbis of the Mishnah explained ‘Filthy hands are unfit for blessing, because they are twice removed from uncleanness’ (BT Berakhot 53b). Unclean hands are the cause of defilement, being once removed from uncleanness. Clean hands are twice removed from uncleanness and are fit to bless, because blessing rests only on purity, since blessing rests on a priest, who is a pure man, a man of Ḥesed. This is: Like goodly oil on the head (Psalms 133:2). Therefore, Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus shall you bless the Israelites’ (Numbers 6:23). It was explained that every priest who blesses is blessed, and if he does not bless he is not blessed. The Masters of Mishnah have further explained that any blessing that does not have a recitation of the Name and Malkhut, is not considered a blessing, since Malkhut is Adonai.

In addition, hands should be washed up to the joint because it was decreed [to wash] י״ד (fourteen) joints. At that time, the יַד (yad), hand, of YHWH rests on him. It is the hand of blessing from the side of Ḥesed, wherein Ḥokhmah lies in the right hand. It is the hand of holiness from the side of Gevurah that prevails in Judgment. It is also the hand of unification from the aspect of Tif’eret. This rests on the fourteen joints of the body, because there are twelve joints in the two arms and in the two legs, three joints in each for a sum of six and together they are twelve. Together with the two in the body and the genital organ, they amount to fourteen.

Three times fourteen equals forty-two; ייי (yod, yod, yod) of יַד (yad), יַד (yad), יַד (yad), alludes to יְבָרֶכְךָ (yivarekha), bless you… יָאֵר (ya’er), light up… יִשָּׂא (yisa), lift up (Numbers 6:24–25) from יְהוָה יְהוָה יְהוָה (YHWH, YHWH, YHWH). דדד (Dalet, dalet, dalet) of יַד (yad), יַד (yad), יַד (yad) are implied in אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai). Of them the prophet said: The temple of YHWH, the temple of YHWH, the temple of YHWH, are these (Jeremiah 7:4) [הֵיכַל (heikhal), temple, is numerically equivalent to אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)]. Thus is established the washing of hands [comprised of י״ד (fourteen) joints].

Every side is comprised of three faces of the living beings which are יְהוָה יְהוָה יְהוָה (YHWH, YHWH, YHWH), and the three wings of the living beings are דדד (dalet, dalet, dalet). They must all derive from the power of man: יוֹד וָאו דָּלֶת הֵא אָלֶף וָאו אָלֶף וָאו הֵא אָלֶף (Yod, Vav, Dalet, He, Alef, Vav, Alef, Vav, He, Alef) [כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, is numerically equivalent to twenty-eight, the number of letters in this doubly full spelling of יהוה (YHWH), and the number of joints in the human hands. Furthermore, אָדָם (adam), human, corresponds to the simple full spelling of יהוה (YHWH): יוד הא ואו הא (Yod, He, Vav, He), since each are numerically equivalent to forty-five]. The Matronita does not dwell in his power until all the filth of the wicked, unfit slavegirl, wife to the unfit, is removed. Therefore, the Masters of Mishnah explained that ‘Filthy hands are unfit to make a blessing’ (BT Berakhot 53b).

This water is for cleansing the hand upon which the hand of YHWH rests. The hand of YHWH is water of Torah. The ignorant people are considered like unclean reptiles [see BT Pesaḥim 49b]. What good will immersing in water do them, holding in their hand that reptile, which is the wicked slavegirl, stolen goods in their possession, the stolen blessings they stole from the blessed Holy One. They do not know what a blessing is, or what filth is.

Immediately after the Companions and I heard these words, we could not bear to wait for him to finish each of these ten matters of blessings. We bowed before him, saying ‘Certainly, there is no one who could speak these matters except for you, since you are comparable to the four divisions of the Garden of Eden [see Genesis 2:10]. If a person enters the children’s section, he becomes a child; in the youth’s section he becomes a youth; in the young men’s section, he becomes a young man, and in the elder’s section, he becomes an elder. Therefore, it is written of you: מִמְּכוֹן שִׁבְתּוֹ הִשְׁגִּיחַ אֶל כָּל יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ (mimkhon shivto hishegiḥa el kal yoshvei ha-arets), from his firm throne he surveyed all who dwell on the earth (Psalms 33:14). Also, it is about you that it says: for he is but flesh. [Let his days be a hundred and twenty years] (Genesis 6:3) [בְּשַׁגַּם (beshagam), for, in as much, is numerically equivalent to מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses, see BT Ḥullin 139b]. For you were present in the generation of the dispersion, and in every generation [you return] by rolling like a wheel that turns round in many ways, yet you revealed yourself only at that generation when Torah was given at your hands [cf. BT Yoma 38b; BT Ḥagigah 13b–14a; Bahir §195].

As soon as you departed from the world you became like the sun that shines in every generation [cf. Zohar 1:147a]. Even when the sun is gathered at night, it illuminates the moon and 600,000 stars [cf. BT Bava Batra 75a: ‘The face of Moses was like that of the sun, the face of Joshua like that of the moon;’ BT Pesaḥim 94a–b]. So are you who shine on the 600,000 people in each and every generation. That is what Qohelet indicated in the verse: A generation goes and a generation comes (Ecclesiastes 1:4). The Rabbis have explained that a generation does not consist of less than 600,000 people [cf. Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 4:2]. He [namely, Rabbi Akiva] also explained the generation that passes away is the one that comes [see Bahir §121–§122]. This fulfills: מַה שֶּׁהָיָה הוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה (mah shehayah hu sheyihyeh), that which was is that, which will be [and that which was done is that which will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun] (Ecclesiastes 1:9) [מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses]. From here on, complete the ten matters of the Sabbath table openly. The Faithful Shepherd said: ‘Holy Lamp, blessed is your lot that the blessed Holy One revealed to you what He has not revealed to any prophet or seer’ [cf. BT Bava Batra 12a].

Second is to break bread over two loaves of bread on Sabbath, which are alluded to in the two tablets of Torah that were given on the Sabbath in pairs. On the third day they descended [from the Heavens, i.e., Tif’eret], on which it was said טוֹב (tov), good, twice [since it comprises right and left]. On the Sabbath Torah was given, in which there are two females, which correspond to twice טוֹב (tov), good. Though it was explained that demons are assigned to [harm] pairs as has been explained [one must not eat] two eggs or two nuts, yet if this is so, why are two loaves of bread used on Sabbath, seeing they are a pair? [see BT Pesaḥim 110b]. He responds, it is a halakhah from Moses at Sinai that those sent on pious missions will meet no evil [see BT Qiddushin 39b; cf. Pesaḥim 8a; Yoma 11a].

You may wonder why we learned that one should not begin anything on the second day or finish on the fourth day because they are pairs, which applies to matters of decrees as well, even though those sent on pious missions meet no evil. [He answers,] this is when with the motley throng, who are never sent on pious missions, because they have not converted for Heaven’s sake. [Then it is] forbidden to begin on the second day or the fourth day. However, the righteous, who have no connection with the motley throng may start on the second day and the fourth day for the sake of performing a decree, because those sent on a pious mission shall come to no harm. Therefore, after they were gone from the world [i.e., after the sin of the golden calf] the blessed Holy One commanded to take two stone tablets like the first ones (Exodus 34:1), saying: and I shall write on the tablets the words which were on the first tablets (ibid.) [and He did not mind the pairs].

Two loaves of bread on Sabbath indicate the יוֹדִין (yodin), two yods [in] יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNHY). For אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) [Malkhut] is alone without Her husband during the six weekdays. On Sabbath He descends to אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) and the combination יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNHY) is formed. Hence, all nishmatin, ruaḥin, and nafshin leave and come down in pairs on Sabbath, and no adversary or harmer, has power on the Sabbath day. Even Hell has no power and does not burn on the Sabbath. Therefore, you shall not kindle a fire in all your dwelling places on the sabbath day (Exodus 35:3). That refers to strange fire, but the fire of sacrifice is a fire of holiness. There is no need to speak at length on their apportioning as it was already explained.

Third is to eat three meals on Sabbath, as was explained by the Masters of Mishnah. One of them [Rabbi Yose] said: ‘May my portion be of those who eat three meals on the Sabbath’ (BT Shabbat 118b) [cf. BT Gittin 7a; Bava Batra 10a; Bava Metsi’a 85a; Nedarim 40a; Berakhot 15b; Pesaḥim 118a; Shabbat 118a], which complete the seven blessings in the Amidah by bringing them to a total of ten. The secret of עֹנֶג (oneg), delight, is: וְנָהָר יֹצֵא מֵעֵדֶן לְהַשְׁקוֹת אֶת הַגָּן (ve-nahar ma-eden le-hashqot et ha-gan), now a river runs out of Eden to water the garden (Genesis 2:10). Whoever can but does not observe them, for him the עֹנֶג (oneg), delight, turns into scaly נֶגַע (nega), affliction. In order that he should not come to this, the blessed Holy One says: Borrow on Me and I will pay, Then shall תִּתְעַנַּג (tit’annag), you delight yourself, upon YHWH (Isaiah 58:14).

Fourth is to light the table with a candelabra, as was decreed by the ancients, that a table should be at the north and the candelabra at the south, for the table of the blessed Holy One [Malkhut], should be set in this manner. Fifth is the wine cup of וַיְכֻלּוּ (vayekhullu), then they were completed (Genesis 2:1). The sum of כּוֹס (kos), cup, is that of אֱלֹהִים (Elohim). וַיְכֻלּוּ (Vayekhullu)—[numerically equivalent to] seventy-two which the Holy Bride comprises [i.e., the number of words said over the cup at the sanctification of the Sabbath is likewise seventy-two, as is the numerical value of מְלֹא (melo), fullness]. The כּוֹס (kos), cup, is filled with the wine of Torah which must bear testimony to the Work of Creation.

Sixth is to have words of Torah at one’s table, because that is how the Masters of Mishnah decreed ‘Three who eat at one table, and do not speak words of Torah, [they are as if they had eaten of sacrifices of dead idols]’ (M Avot 3:4). The secret is that they have decreed that the table should be to the north and that Torah was given from the right. In order to join the right, which is Compassion, with the left, which is Judgment. Torah is YHWH [Ze’eir Anpin] which was given from the right, and the table is אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) [Malkhut] which is from the left [i.e., north]. One must join them, since that table is at the left side, the Masters of Mishnah have explained that a person’s sustenance is as difficult to obtain as the splitting of the Reed Sea [see BT Pesaḥim 118b (in the name of Rabbi El’azar son of Azariyah); Bereshit Rabbah 97:3 (in the name of Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi); Zohar 1:207b; 2:52b, 170a; 3:292b (IZ); ZḤ 86d (MhN, Rut)]. Therefore, one should invite for himself a Torah scholar, who will study Torah.

Seventh is to stay a long time at the table for the lowly. Whoever stays long at the table will have his days and years extended. For that reason: righteousness saves from death (Proverbs 10:2). Since a poor man is like a dead man whom he revives the blessed Holy One also revives him [BT Berakhot 54b–55a: ‘Rav Yehudah said, There are three matters which, if one prolongs their duration, extend a person’s days and years: … one who prolongs his mealtime…. Regarding prolonging one’s mealtime, perhaps a poor person will come and he will give him’; ZḤ 86d].

Furthermore, a secret explanation: All the poor originate from the aspect of ד (dalet), about which it is said: דַּלּוֹתִי (Dalloti), I plunged down, but He did rescue me (Psalms 116:6). The pronunciation of ד (dalet) in אֶחָד (eḥad), one (Deuteronomy 6:4), should be prolonged. That is meant by the verse: in order that he may long endure in his kingship (Deuteronomy 17:20). Therefore, it is incumbent on one to stay long at the table, which is ד (dalet), because it has ד״ (four) legs. In honor of ד (dalet), one should stay long at the table for the sake of the lowly.

In relation to it the Rabbis explained that the blessed Holy One sought a beautiful quality for Israel, and found only the quality of דַלּוּת (dallut), poverty [see Tanna devei Eliyyahu Zuta 5]. A difficulty was raised here, since the ancients explained that the number of different deaths is equivalent to the sum of תֹּצָאוֹת (totsaot), ways out (Psalms 68:21), and that an empty pocket is the most difficult. How could it be said He found no better quality for Israel than poverty?

It is only because about each people and tongue, [And they shall pass through it, hardpressed and hungry:] and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall be enraged, and curse their king and their god, and look upward (Isaiah 8:21). However, the children of Israel are in a covenant with the blessed Holy One, also with this quality [poverty] and do not deny His existence. Hence they shall be redeemed by this quality. This is: a lowly people You rescue (2 Samuel 22:28). עָנִי (Ani), lowly, is derived from עִנּוּי (innui), suffering, since even when one has wealth but suffers from illnesses and afflictions, he is considered lowly. Or he is distressed [due to his wealth] and is afflicted every day. This is surely true for one who is lowlier than him, and must wander from place to place.

Another [kind of] עָנִי (ani), lowly one, who lost his mind like Job, about whom, it is said: Job speaks without דַעַת (da’at), knowledge (Job 34:35). So too is ד (dalet), which is the Shekhinah. When א״ח (alef, ḥet) [of אֶחָד (eḥad), one] were gone from Her, which is the middle pillar called דַּעַת (Da’at), Knowledge. And one [who is without knowledge] does not incur guilt with [improper] speech. Furthermore, א״ח (alef, ḥet) is Torah which is comprised of the 613 decrees. This is the meaning of: That is My name forever and thus am I invoked in all ages (Exodus 3:15). שְּׁמִי (Shemi), My name, plus יָהּ (Yah) is 365, and זִכְרִי (Zikhri), am I invoked, plus ו״ה (vav, he) is 248. Therefore it has been explained that one is lowly only in Torah and mitsvot. This is because the other lowly people suffer [but are not poor]. ד (Dalet) of אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), is also lowly without יְהֹוָה (YHWH).

Eighth is the finger bowl water that was instituted due to the salt of Sodom that is blinding to the eyes [see BT Ḥullin 105b: ‘Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabbi Ḥiyya said: Why did they say that it is obligatory to wash the hands after the meal? Because of a certain salt of Sodom which makes the eyes blind’]. Why is it considered obligatory? According to the mystery of the matter, deadly poison rests on filthy hands, with which one makes a blessing, and on a cup, over which one makes a blessing without cleanliness, and it is considered defiled. Just as a cup from which people drank is considered unclean for a blessing until it is cleansed by rinsing it inside and out, the hands all the more so. Hence finger bowl water is obligatory. The mystery is: And you shall sanctify yourselves (Leviticus 20:7)—washing of hands before the meal. And you shall become holy (ibid.)—finger bowl water. For I am Holy—fragrant ointment. [These three things] correspond to Holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6:3). And you shall sanctify yourselves—so that it shall be known that you are children of the blessed Holy One. That is what is meant by: You are children to YHWH your God (Deuteronomy 14:1).

Ninth is the cup of blessing. As has been explained by the Masters of Mishnah, ten things were said about this cup of blessing, which are: decorating, wrapping, washing, rinsing, unmixed wine, full cup, receiving it with both hands and leaving it with the right, raising it from the surface a handbreadth, looking at it, and sending it as a gift to the members of his household [cf. BT Berakhot 51a; Zohar 1:1a, 156a (ST), 240a, 250a; 2:138b, 143b, 157b; 3:245a–b (RM)]. Now we have only four, which are washing, rinsing, unmixed wine, and a full cup. Some say the wine should be taken unmixed from the cask, and water may be added to it in the cup. Some say that unmixed wine means the cup should be whole [i.e., undiluted] because its breaking is its death [on mixed and unmixed wine, see Isaiah 1:22; 65:11; Proverbs 9:2, 5; 23:30–32; BT Berakhot 50b; Sanhedrin 70a; 2 Maccabees 15:39].

כּוֹס (Kos), cup, according to the way of wisdom: אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) is מָלֵּא (malle), full, with יָהּ (Yah) [Malkhut is אִלֵּם (illem), mute, when in a state of קַטנוּת (qatnut), constriction, empty of יָהּ (Yah), cf. BT Gittin 56b; Ginnat Egoz 11c; 13d; Zohar 1:36b; 3:221a (RM)], and they are whole. However, כּוֹס (kos), cup, without ו (vav) is כֵּס (kes), throne, instead of כִּסֵּא (kisse), throne, deficient and lacking without א (alef). It is lacking without ו (vav), and is deficient. הַכִּסֵּא (Ha-kisse), the Throne, is numerically equivalent to כּוֹס (kos), cup.

כּוֹס (Kos), cup, is ה״ (five) [reckoned according to its reduced numerical value] and ten things are needed, parallel to י (yod) [in order to draw the fifty gates of Binah, see BT Rosh ha-Shanah 21b; Nedarim 38a: ‘Fifty gates of Binah were created in the world, and all were given to Moses save one, as it says, And You made him little less than אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) (Psalms 8:6)’], and they are: crowning—סוֹד הָעַטָרָה (sod ha-atarah), secret of the corona, the עֲטֶרֶת תִּפְאֶרֶת (ateret tif’eret), Diadem of Beauty [Malkhut of יְסוֹד (Yesod)]. And this is the mystery of coronation with which our patriarchs, of blessed memory, would crown disciples, and She is the עֲטֶרֶת הַבְּרִית (ateret ha-berit), Diadem of the Covenant [i.e., the covenant of circumcision]. עִטּוּף (Ittuf), wrapping: A prayer for the lowly when יַעֲטֹף (ya’atof), he covers (Psalms 102:1)—all of these blessings and prayers are covered together until the prayer of the lowly rises.

Washing and rinsing, these are like: and cleanse it and consecrate it (Leviticus 16:19). Cleansing is from the right—Ḥesed. Consecrating is from the left—Gevurah. The cup of blessing [Malkhut] is from the aspect of Binah called אֱלֹהִים (Elohim). עֲטָרָה (Atarah), corona, is from the aspect of כֶּתֶר (keter), Crown. חַי (Ḥai), unmixed, is from the aspect of Yesod [חֵי עָלְמִין (ḥei almin), Vitality of Worlds], called Peace, as is written: neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, says YHWH that has mercy on you (Isaiah 54:10) [rather, it will live forever, and thus Malkhut is called חַי (Ḥai), Living, from this aspect]. Full is from the aspect of Tif’eret. Receiving with two hands is הה (he, he) [of יהוה (YHWH)].

Leaving is with the right hand. Upper ה (he)—Ḥesed; lower ה (he)—Gevurah. Lifting off the surface a handbreadth is the mystery of י (yod), since ה (he) is raised by י (yod) [meaning that one should raise the five sefirot of Malkhut from Her place, which is the mystery of the surface, multiply Her by י״ (ten), and meditate on Her receiving the fifty gates of Binah]. Looking with the eyes is the mystery of יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNHY) since יהוה (YHWH) shines in the pupil of the eye [אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)]. יהוה (YHWH) is white, red and green, [Ḥesed, Gevurah and Tif’eret of Ze’eir Anpin (Sullam)]. Adonai shines in the two eyelids, as well as the two pupils [of the eye and hair of the eyelashes (ibid.)]. Sending a gift to the members of the household is Binah, of which is written: ‘Let Moses rejoice in the gift of his portion’ (Sabbath Morning Liturgy) [since Moses merited Binah and one must attach the cup, which is Malkhut, to the lights of Binah (ibid.)].

Tenth is blessing after the meal. It was explained by the Rabbis: with three כּוֹס (kos), a cup, is needed [at the dining table, i.e., God, must be present when three, or more, people eat together at one table, see M Avot 3:4; כּוֹס (kos), cup, and אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), God, are numerically equivalent]. And the mystery of the matter: אַהֲבַת כְּלוּלֹתָיִךְ (ahavat kelulotayikh), the love of your betrothals (Jeremiah 2:2)—[read: לְאַבוֹתָיִךְ הַכֹּל (le-avotayikh ha-kol), to your fathers: all] the Patriarchs: בַּכֹּל (bakol), in all (Genesis 24:1), מִכֹּל (mikol), of all (ibid. 27:33, cf. ibid. 25:5), כֹל (khol), all (ibid. 33:11). But we should not speak at length of it.

How do we know that grace after meals is from the Torah? Because it is written: And you will eat and be sated and bless YHWH your God [on the goodly land He has given you] (Deuteronomy 8:10). And we learned in a barraita: and blessfeeds. YHWH your Godgrace after meals. On the land—blessing on the land. The goodly—builds Jerusalem. Thus, it says, this goodly high country, and the Lebanon (Deuteronomy 3:25). But this is only after [the meal], where is [proof of the requirement to recite a blessing] before [the meal]? It is said: He has given you—from the time it is given to you [i.e., even before eating] you must bless Him [cf. JT Berakhot 7:1, 5a–b; BT Berakhot 35a].

The sages, of blessed memory, have interpreted that Moses instituted for the Israelites the blessing ‘[who] feeds’ when manna descended on them. Joshua instituted for them blessing the land in the time of the rallying for the land. David and Solomon instituted the blessing for the building of Jerusalem. Moreover, an allusion to grace after meals is found in the portion Manna, in the manna itself: ‘In the morning you shall have your fill of bread, and you shall know that I am YHWH your God’ (Exodus 16:12).

Rabbi Shim’on said: The mystery of these seven זַיְינִין (zayinin) that are inscribed on the tefillin, is that the ז (zayin) in the ש (shin) allude to the seven lobes in man’s lung, by which he draws air and exhales with it a fiery spark from his mouth [since a breath is composed of fire, water, and air, see Sefer Yetsirah §10–§14]. They also allude to the seven days and the weeks from Passover to Shavuot. Also, they allude to the seven branches of the candelabra, on which there are seven holy lamps. They also allude to the seven stars that shine in the firmament and they allude to the seven rungs by which the world is maintained, which are the foundation, root and essence of everything [i.e., the seven planets and seven lower sefirot]. The Companions said about these that whoever wishes to put on the head tefillin has to examine these two שִׁינִין (shinin) hinted in the seven זַיְינִין (zayinin), for hinted in them are hidden mysteries and deep allusions” (Zohar 3:272a–74b, Ra’aya Meheimna Eqev [for various additional customs pertaining to the Sabbath, see Zohar 2:206b–209a; 3:244b (RM)]).

Prayer Should be Elevated Just as One Aims the Stone in a Sling

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“Rabbi Pinḥas said in the name of Rabbi Me’ir, and Rabbi Yirmeyah said in the name of Rabbi Abba, ‘When Israel prays, you do not find them all praying as one, but rather each assembly prays on its own, one after the other. When they have all finished, the angel appointed over prayers gathers all the prayers offered in all the synagogues and fashions them into עֲטָרוֹת (atarot), diadems, which he places on the head of the blessed Holy One” (Shemot Rabbah 21:4, cf. Zohar 2:201b).

Rabbi Shim’on opened, saying: Listen, all supernal ones. Gather, all mortals, masters of the academy above and below. Elijah [i.e., Sandalfon], upon an oath, ask permission from the blessed Holy One to descend here because a great battle awaits you. Come down, Enoch [i.e., Metatron], you and all the masters of the academy under your supervision. Not for my glory, but for the glory of Shekhinah.

He opened as before, expounding זַרְקָא (zarqa), מַקָּף (maqqaf), and so forth, saying: Certainly by the musical intonation, זַרְקָא (zarqa), the prayer should be raised to that known site, like one aims the stone in a sling [cf. Bahir §§89–91, 178]. Just as one aims the stone carefully, so as not to miss the target, so should thought be raised with prayer to that תַּגָּא (tagga), coronet, set and adorned. Of this stone they said, ‘[In uttering the tefillah, when one bows, one should bow at בָּרוּך (barukh), “blessed,”] and stand upright with [the mention of] the Name’ (BT Berakhot 12a).

And when he raises Her from that site conducting Her to Her husband [one should not interrupt his prayer] even if a serpent is wound around his feet, and even though: and you shall bite his heel (Genesis 3:15) [cf. Psalms 91:13; BT Berakhot 30b: ‘Even if a king greets him he should not answer him. And even if a serpent is wound round his heel he should not break off’]. Nevertheless, the stone is hinted at by the י (yod) of יַעֲקֹב (Ya’aqov), which is composed of י (yod) and עָקֵב (aqev), heel, as is written: Through the name of the Shepherd and Israel’s Stone (Genesis 49:24)—he does not stop and must raise Her to אֵין סוֹף (Ein Sof) [cf. Zohar 1:65a: ‘Come and see: All transpires in the mystery of faith, so that one is satisfied by the other (i.e., so that the lower is satisfied by the higher, and vice versa), so that the one who must, ascends to Ein Sof ‘]. ‘When one bows, one should bow at בָּרוּך (barukh), “blessed”’ (BT Berakhot 12a)—he must draw Her down ceaselessly without causing any separation between Her above or below.

Sometimes He is Her husband ו (vav), the Righteous One [Yesod] who includes the six joints of two legs. Then She descends toward Him for the purpose of coupling according to the mystery of two legs [Netsaḥ and Hod]. But at other times, He is Her husband ו (vav) [Tif’eret] which includes the six joints of the two arms: beginning, middle and end. Then She grows and ascends to the two arms [Ḥesed and Gevurah]. At other times He [Ze’eir Anpin] is Her husband and stands between Father [Ḥokhmah] and Mother [Binah]. This is when He is called בֵּן יָהּ (Ben Yah), Son of God, and She should be elevated there to Him for coupling. At other times, Her husband is Keter with ו (vav) inserted between י י (yod, yod) like so: א (alef). Then She should be elevated to Him, as She grows with Him and reaches exactly the same rung as He does. When She ascends to Keter, it is written of Her: the stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone (Psalms 118:22).

When She rises up to the Head of all Heads the angels ask ‘Where is the place of His glory to admire Him?’ And when She rises She becomes just like a תַּגָּא (tagga), coronet, on the head of א (alef)—כֶּתֶר (Keter), Crown. When She descends: a point underneath [like so: וִ]. So when She ascends She is called עֲטָרָה (atarah), Diadem, in the mystery of musical intonations, and when She descends, She is called נְקוּדָה (nequdah), Point. When She mates She is like so: וּ. When She is a coronet on His head She is called the letter ז (zayin). The sign of the covenant consists of this because it is the seventh letter in all. Indeed, this Stone is בִּנְיָינָא (binyyana), building, of all the worlds [cf. BT Niddah 45b: ‘And YHWH God יִּבֶן (yi-ven), built, the rib He had taken from the human into a woman (Genesis 2:21)—the blessed Holy One placed more בִּינָה (binah), understanding, in women than in men’; Sanhedrin 93b: ‘בִּינָה (Binah), understanding, one thing from another’; ibid., 110a: ‘The wise woman has built her house (Proverbs 14:1)—wife of On son of Peleth; and Folly with her own hands destroys it (ibid.)—Korah’s wife’]. Because of this: a whole and honest weight-stone you shall have (Deuteronomy 25:15). She is the quantity בֵּין (bein), between, each and every sefirah, and every sefirah amounts with Her to ten. Her stature is ו (vav). Through Her every cubit between each and every sefirah becomes ten cubits. And the secret of the matter: ten cubits the length of the board (Exodus 26:16), and She is between them all. She is ten between every sefirah and ten multiplied by ten totals one hundred; when מֵאָה (me’ah), one hundred, is reversed [you have:] אַמָּה (ammah), cubit.

Each and every quantity [that Malkhut measures] is called a world [a quantity of its own]. These are י (yod) and ו (vav)—שִׁעוּר וּמִדָּה (shiur u-middah), height and width [or: stature and quantity]. ו (Vav) is the שֶׁקֶל (sheqel), weight [of the light (Sullam)]; י (yod) is the מִדָּה (middah), width. And the measurement of the quantity is five cubits long and five cubits wide. This corresponds to the measurement of every firmament, which is five-hundred parasangs long and five-hundred parasangs wide. This is the mystery of ה ה (he, he) [in יהוה (YHWH)]; the first ה (he) alludes to width and the lower ה (he) to length, as explained elsewhere.

So here you have the שִׁיעוּר קוֹמָה (shi’ur qomah), measure of the stature, of Him [Ze’eir Anpin] in יהוה (YHWH), because ו (vav) alludes to firmament of the heavens [Tif’eret of Ze’eir Anpin (Sullam)]. Its five firmaments, namely the last ה (he) of יהוה (YHWH), is called Five Heavens. This is the additional יהוה (YHWH) that indicates the five firmaments included in the heavens. The upper five firmaments are called Heavens of the Heavens. These are ה ה (he, he) of יהוה (YHWH). The ו (vav) is their sixth firmament. י (Yod) of יהוה (YHWH) is the mystery of Malkhut [the seventh firmament and seven plus seven equals fourteen]. Here are those lands, seven upon seven lands that cover each other like onion rings, which surround each other on all sides. They are all alluded to in the two eyes, and the three colors in the eye: white, red and green. Its white color is Ḥesed, its red color, which are red streaks, are Gevurah and its green color is Tif’eret. The two eyelids are Netsaḥ and Hod, the eye itself is Yesod and the black point is Malkhut.

The י (yod) in the Name יהוה (YHWH) is called a small, or short, world. The ו (vav) in יהוה (YHWH), which is Tif’eret, is the long world. Whomever wishes that his desires be fulfilled by the long world should pray at length, and whoever prays to the short world should pray quickly. Therefore, it has been explained that in a place where they are told to make it short a person should not pray at length [cf. Exodus 14:15]. To pray quickly is like the prayer of Moses, who recited the following short prayer, אֵל (El), pray, heal her, pray (Numbers 12:13) [see Sifrei, Numbers 105 ad loc.], as he addressed the [infinitesimal] point of י (yod) [which is the small, or short, world].

[The place where it was recommended that one should pray at length during times when one is not allowed to curtail the prayer stems from an aspect of ו (vav), as in] וּלְהִתְנַפֵּל (ul-hitnapel), to fall down, [as Moses did:] וָאֶתְנַפַּל (va-etnapal), And I threw myself, before יְהוָה (YHWH) (Deuteronomy 9:18)—פ (peh) because forty days and forty nights (ibid.), reckons eighty, which is the sum of פ״ (forty) [all this relates to the mystery of the letters פ (peh) and ו (vav), which appear in the word וָאֶתְנַפַּל (va-etnapal)]. Everything appears in the two מ (mem) one open מ (mem) and one closed final ם (mem) [cf. BT Shabbat 104a], with the י (yod) as a point in the middle, which forms the word מַיִם (mayim), water. From the aspect of Ḥesed, one should pray at length.

In the Holy Name יהוה (YHWH) rises by the fourth tune of the musical intonations. And one should prolong this intonation, which is fourth over the Name of יהוה (YHWH), the mystery of the תְקִיעָה (teqi’ah). The place to make it short is from the aspect of Gevurah, the intonations of שְׁבָרִים (shevarim). This is called the תְּבִיר (tevir), break, of the musical intonations. The middle, which is neither prolonged nor shortened, is the mystery of תְרוּעָה (teru’ah). This is the middle pillar and is the mystery of the musical intonations called שַׁלשֶׁלֶת (shalshelet), Chain, as it interlinks them [i.e., the right and left pillars] according to the mystery of the שֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ (sheqel ha-qodesh), consecrated coin [שֶׁקֶל (sheqel), coin, is numerically equivalent to נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), person].

Corresponding to the רְבִיעַ (revi’i), fourth, [musical intonation] which rises there, is חוֹלָם (olam) among the vowels, which is also Ḥesed. The שְׁבָרִים (shevarim) [or the תְּבִיר (tevir), break, of the musical intonations] corresponds, to שְׁבָא (sheva). In pronouncing this fourth one should raise his voice and in pronouncing the other [referring to the תְּבִיר (tevir), which is Gevurah], one should lower his voice. Because of this, it is called שְׁבָרִים (shevarim) [cognate with: שֶׁבֶר (shever), break] as the voice should be lowered [lit., שָׁבוּר (shavoor), broken]. This is done in secret, as is written of the lower Shekhinah: And Her voice not heard (1 Samuel 1:13). תְּרוּעָה (Teruah) is mystery of the middle pillar, called שַׁלְשֶׁלֶת (shalshelet), Chain [this is also the mystery of the י (yod), located between the two ם (mem) of אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם וְאַרְבָּעִים לַיְלָה (arba’im yom ve-arba’im lailah), forty days and forty nights. This is the mystery of segolta among the intonations (Sullam)].

The fourth of the musical intonations is for raising the voice, the tevir of the musical intonations is for lowering the pitch. Chain holds to the two pillars as a chain joining them to each other. It is like the רְבִיעִי (revi’i) with which one prolongs the word with melody. It is a vowel like the Ḥolam. There is no vowel among the points that does not have a corresponding musical intonation [see Bahir §§36–44]. For example, the vowel Segol corresponds to the musical intonation segolta, the vowel sheva corresponds to the musical intonation zaqef gadol. There is always a vowel corresponding to a musical intonation for all those who know the hidden mysteries.

Rabbi Shim’on opened saying: zarqa, maqqaf, shofar holekh, segolta. The vowel to the right is יְהוָה מֶלֶךְ (Adonai melekh), YHWH reigns (Psalms 96:10). The vowel to the left, shuruq is יְהוָה מָלָךְ (Adonai malakh), YHWH reigned (Psalms 93:1). The vowel [iriq] in the middle, Tif’eret, is יְהוָה יִמְלֹךְ (Adonai yimlokh), YHWH shall reign (Exodus 15:18). Rabbi Aḥa said: YHWH reigns—the supernal world; YHWH shall reignTif’eret; YHWH reigned—the Ark of the Covenant” (Zohar 1:23a–24b, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

When You Reach the Pure Marble Stones do not Say “Water! Water!”

“All the holy Writings render the hands unclean [i.e., are canonical]…. Rabbi Shim’on son of Azzai said, ‘I have a received a tradition from the mouths of seventy-two elders, on the day they inducted Rabbi El’azar son of Azariyah into his seat [as head] at the Academy, that the Song of Songs and Qohelet render the hands unclean.’

Rabbi Akiva said, ‘Perish the thought! No one from Israel has ever disputed concerning the Song of Songs that it does not render the hands unclean, since the whole world is not worthy of the day that the Song of Songs was given to Israel. For all the Writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is Holy of Holies, and if they have disputed they have not disputed concerning it but concerning Qohelet’” (M Yadayim 3:5).

“Our Rabbis taught: He who recites a verse of the Song of Songs and treats it as a [profane] song, and one who recites a verse at the banqueting house—not in its [fitting] time—brings evil upon the world” (BT Sanhedrin 101a).

“The Rabbis taught: Four entered the פַּרדֵס (pardes), Orchard: Son of Azzai, and Son of Zoma, Aḥer and Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva said to them, ‘When you come to the place of pure marble stones, do not say, ‘Water! Water!’ For it is said, A speaker of lies shall not stand firm before my eyes (Psalms 101:7).’ Son of Azzai glimpsed and died. Of him it says, Grievous in the eyes of YHWH is the death of His faithful ones (ibid. 116:15).

Son of Zoma glimpsed and was harmed. Of him it says, If you find honey, eat just what you need, lest you have your fill of it and throw it up (Proverbs 25:16). Aḥer קִיצֵּץ בַּנְּטִיעוֹת (qitstsets ba-neti’ot), severed the saplings. Rabbi Akiva emerged in peace….

Our Rabbis taught: Once Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Ḥananyah was standing on a step on the Temple Mount, and Son of Zoma saw him and did not stand up before him. He said to him: From where to where, Son of Zoma [i.e., what is on your mind]? He replied: I was gazing between the upper and the lower waters, and there is only a bare three fingers’ [breadth] between them, for it is said: And the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2)—like a dove which hovers over her young without touching [cf. JT Ḥagigah 2:1: Like an eagle who rouses his nest, over his fledglings he hovers…  (Deuteronomy 32:11)]. Afterwards Rabbi Yehoshu’a said to his disciples: Son of Zoma is still outside [cf. Heikhalot Rabbati §93: ‘Rabbi Yishma’el said: Thus was the teaching as to the vision of the Chariot: He who beholds the Chariot has no right to stand up (out of courtesy to a superior), except before three authorities only: before a king and before a high priest and before a Sanhedrin. And should he stand up he would be guilty of death because he had stood up before it, and he would lessen his days and cut short his years’; Ben Sira: ‘Do not seek out what is too wondrous for you; do not inquire into that which is concealed from you’; BT Megillah 25a–b; Ḥagigah 11b: ‘From one end of heaven to the other you may inquire, but you may not inquire what is above, what is below, what is before, what is after’]….

Aḥer severed the saplings. Of him it says, Do not let your mouth make your body offend, [nor say before God that it was a mistake] (Ecclesiastes 5:5). What does it refer to? He saw that permission was granted to Mitatron to sit and write the merits of Israel [on the significance of the alternate spellings מְטַּטְרוֹן (Metatron) and מִיטַּטְרוֹן (Mitatron), see Zohar 2:277a; TZ, intro, 15a; TZ 21, 44a, 61a; Z 39d]. He said: It is taught as a tradition that on high there is no standing and no sitting, no jealousy and no rivalry, no nape and no fatigue [cf. BT Berakhot 17a]. Perhaps—perish the thought—there are two authorities! [Immediately] they led Mitatron forth, and punished him with sixty fiery lashes [see 3 Enoch 16], saying to him: Why did you not rise before him when you saw him? Permission was [then] given to him to erase the merits of Aḥer. A bat qol issued, saying: Turn back, rebellious children (Jeremiah 3:22)—except Aḥer.

[Afterwards] he said: Since this man has been banished from that world, let me go forth and enjoy this world. So Aḥer went into bad ways [lit., תַרְבּוּת רָעָה (tarbut ra’ah), wicked culture, i.e., foreign culture]. He went forth, found a whore and demanded her. She said to him: Are you not Elisha son of Avuyah? [But] when he uprooted a radish out of its bed on the Sabbath and gave it to her, she said: It is an אַחֵר (aḥer), Other.

After he went into bad ways, Aḥer asked Rabbi Me’ir, saying to him: What is the meaning of the verse: One against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14)? He replied: It means that for everything that God created He created its counterpart. He created mountains, and created hills; He created seas, and created rivers. [Aḥer] said to him: Rabbi Akiva, your master, did not explain it so, but [as follows]: He created righteous, and created wicked; He created the Garden of Eden, and created Hell. Everyone has two portions, one in the Garden of Eden and one in Hell. The righteous man, having been declared innocent, takes his own portion and his fellow’s portion in the Garden of Eden. The wicked man, having been declared guilty, takes his own portion and his fellow’s portion in Hell.

Rav Mesharshiyya said: What is the verse? In the case of the righteous, it is written: Therefore in their land they shall possess double: [everlasting joy shall be unto them] (Isaiah 61:7). In the case of the wicked it is written: And destroy them with double destruction (Jeremiah 17:18).

After he went into bad ways, Aḥer asked Rabbi Me’ir: What is written: Gold and glass cannot equal it, nor its worth in golden vessels (Job 28:17)? He answered: These are the words of Torah, which are difficult to acquire like vessels of fine gold, but are easily destroyed like vessels of glass. [Aḥer] said to him: Rabbi Akiva, your master, did not explain it so, but [as follows]: Just as vessels of gold and vessels of glass, though they be broken, have a remedy, even so a discple of the wise, though he has sinned, has a remedy. [Rabbi Me’ir] said to him: Then, you, too, return! He replied: I have already heard from behind the Curtain: Turn back, rebellious children (Jeremiah 3:22)—except Aḥer.

Our Rabbis taught: Once Aḥer was riding on a horse on the Sabbath, and Rabbi Me’ir was walking behind him to learn Torah at his mouth. He said to him: Me’ir, turn back, for I have already measured by the paces of my horse that thus far extends the Sabbath limit [i.e., two thousand cubits (in all directions) from the place where a person makes his abode for the Sabbath, beyond which it is forbidden to go on the day of rest, see M Shabbat 24:5; Eruvin 4:3, 5:7]. He replied: You, too, go back! [Aḥer] answered: Have I not already told you that I have already heard from behind the Curtain: Turn back, rebellious children (Jeremiah 3:22)—except Aḥer.

[Rabbi Me’ir] prevailed upon him and took him to an academy. [Aḥer] said to a child: Recite for me your verse! [The child] answered: There is no peace, says YHWH, for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22). He then took him to a synagogue. [Aḥer] said to a child: Recite for me your verse! He answered: For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, yet your crime is marked before Me, says YHWH God (Jeremiah 2:22). He took him to yet another synagogue, and he said to a child: Recite for me your verse! He answered: And when you are plundered, what will you do? Though you clothe yourself with crimson, though you deck yourself with ornaments of gold, though you enlarge your eyes with paint, in vain shall you make yourself fair; [your lovers will despise you, they will seek your life] (ibid. 4:30).

He took him to yet another synagogue until he took him to thirteen synagogues: all of them recited similarly. When he said to the last one, Recite for my your verse, he answered: וְלָרָשָׁע (ve-la-rasha), And to the wicked, God said: ‘Why do you recount My statutes [and bear My pact in your mouth, when you have despised chastisement and flung My words behind you?]  (Psalms 50:16). That child was a stutterer, so it sounded as though he answered: ‘וְלַאֱלִישָׁע (ve-la-elisha), But to Elisha, God said.’ Some say that [Aḥer] had a knife with him, and he cut him up and sent him to the thirteen synagogues: and some say that he said: Had I a knife in my hand I would have cut him up.

When Aḥer was laid to rest they said: Let him not be judged, nor let him enter the world to come. Let him not be judged, because he engaged in Torah; nor let him enter the world to come because he sinned. Rabbi Me’ir said: It were better that he should be judged and that he should enter the world to come. When I die I shall cause smoke to rise from his grave. When Rabbi Me’ir died, smoke rose up from Aḥer’s grave. Rabbi Yoḥanan said: A mighty deed to burn his master?! There was one amongst us, and we cannot save him; if I were to take him by the hand, who would snatch him from me! [But] he said: When I die, I shall extinguish the smoke from his grave. When Rabbi Yoḥanan died, the smoke ceased from Aḥer’s grave. A certain eulogizer [began]: Even the guard [of Hell] could not stand before you, O master!

Aḥer’s daughter [once] came before Rabbi and said to him: O master, support me! He asked her: ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She replied: I am Aḥer’s daughter. He said: Are any of his children left in the world? Look it is written: No son nor grandson in his kinfolk, and no remnant where he sojourned (Job 18:19). She answered: Remember his Torah and not his deeds. Immediately, a fire came down and licked Rabbi’s bench. Rabbi wept and said: If it be so on account of those who dishonour Her, how much more so on account of those who honour Her [i.e., Torah].

But how did Rabbi Me’ir learn Torah at the mouth of Aḥer? Behold Rabbah son of Son of Ḥana said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: What is the meaning of the verse, For the priest’s lips should preserve knowledge, and they should seek the law from his mouth: for he is the messenger of YHWH of Armies (Malachi 2:7)? If the rabbi is like an messenger of YHWH of armies, they should seek Torah from his mouth, but if not, they should not seek Torah from his mouth!—Resh Laqish answered: Rabbi Me’ir found a verse and expounded it [as follows]: Bend your ear and hear the words of the wise, and set your heart on My knowledge (Proverbs 22:17). It does not say, to their knowledge, but to My knowledge.

Rabbi Ḥanina said, [he decided it] from here: Listen, daughter, and look, incline your ear, and forget your people, and your father’s house (Psalms 45:11). The verses contradict one another! There is no contradiction: in the one case the verse refers to an adult [who, unlike a child, can use discrimination and avoid the teacher’s wrongdoing; hence the last two verses permit him to learn even from a heretic], in the other to a child.

When Rav Dimi came [to Babylon] he said: In the West [i.e., the Land of Israel] they say: Rabbi Me’ir ate a half-ripe date and threw the peel away. Rabba expounded: What is written? To the walnut garden I went down to see the buds of the brook (Song of Songs 6:11). Why are the disciples of the wise likened to a nut? To tell you that just as the nut, though it be spoiled with mud and filth, yet its contents are not made repulsive, so a disciple of the wise, although he may have offended, yet his Torah is not made repulsive.

Rabbah son of Shila [once] met Elijah. He said to him: What is the blessed Holy One doing? He answered: He utters traditions in the name of all the rabbis, but in the name of Rabbi Me’ir he does not utter. Rabbah asked him, Why?—because he learnt traditions at the mouth of Aḥer. [Rabbah] said to him: But why? Rabbi Me’ir found a pomegranate; he ate [the fruit] within it, and the shell he threw away! He answered: Now He says: Me’ir My son says: When a man suffers [by receiving lashes or the death penalty at the hands of the court, see BT Sanhedrin 46a], to what expression does the Shekhinah give utterance? ‘Oy, My head is lighter, my arm is lighter [see M Sanhedrin 6:5].’ If the blessed Holy One is so grieved over the blood of the wicked, how much more so over the blood of the righteous that is shed.

Shemu’el found Rav Yehudah leaning on the door-bolt weeping. So he said to him: O, long-toothed one, why do you weep? He replied: Is it a small thing that is written concerning the rabbis? Where is the scribe? where is the one who weighs? where is he that counts the towers? (Isaiah 33:18). Where is the scribe?—for they counted all the letters in the Torah. Where is the one who weighs?—for they weighed the light and the heavy in the Torah [i.e., by arguing from minor to major and vice versa]. Where is he that counts the towers?— for they taught three hundred halakhot concerning a ‘tower which flies in the air.’ And Rabbi Ami said: Doeg and Ahitophel raised three hundred questions concerning a ‘tower which flies in the air.’ Yet we have learnt: ‘Three kings and four commoners have no share in the world to come’ (BT Sanhedrin 90a). What then shall become of us? [Shemu’el] said to him, O, long-toothed one, there was mud in their hearts—but what of Aḥer [why did his study of Torah not save him?]—Greek song did not cease from his mouth. It is told of Aḥer that when he used to rise from the academy, many heretical books [lit., books of the sectarians] used to fall from his lap.

Nimos the weaver asked Rabbi Me’ir: Does all wool that goes down into the [dyeing] kettle come up [properly dyed, i.e., does the study of Torah serve to protect all students from transgression (Rashi)]? He replied: All that was clean on its mother comes up [properly dyed], all that was not clean on its mother does not come up [properly dyed].

Rabbi Akiva ascended in peace and descended in peace; and of him Scripture says: Draw me after you, let us run. [The king has brought me into his chamber] (Song of Songs 1:4) [cf. Sefer Yetsirah §5]. And Rabbi Akiva too the ministering angels sought to thrust away [from the Orchard]; [but] the blessed Holy One said to them: Let this elder be, for he is worthy to avail himself of My glory—what did he expound? Rabbah son of Son of Ḥana said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: וְאָתָה (ve-atah), And He appeared, from the myriads of holy ones (Deuteronomy 33:2)—אוֹת הוּא (ot hu), He is the Sign, among His myriads.

And Rabbi Abbahu said: דָּגוּל מֵרְבָבָה (dagul mervavah), standing out among ten thousand (Song of Songs 5:10)—He is דוֹגמָא (dogma), the Example, among His ten thousand. And Resh Laqish said: YHWH of Armies is His name (Isaiah 48:2)—He is Lord among His Army—and Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Abba said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Not in the wind is YHWH. And after the earthquake—fire. Not in the fire is YHWH. And after the fire, a sound of minute stillness (1 Kings 19:11–12). [And He said, ‘Go and stand on the mountain before YHWH,and, look, YHWH passed over (ibid., 11)” (BT Ḥagigah 14b–16a).

When God began to create heaven and earth, and the earth then was welter and waste and darkness over the deep and God’s breath hovering over the waters, God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And it was evening and it was morning, first day. And God said, “Let there be a vault in the midst of the waters, and let it divide water from water.” And God made the vault and it divided the water beneath the vault from the water above the vault, and so it was. And God called the vault Heavens, and it was evening and it was morning, second day (Genesis 1:1–8).

“תֹּהוּ (Tohu), welter—a pale line encompassing the whole world, from which darkness issued…; בֹּהוּ (bohu), waste—these are the slimy stones sunk in the abyss, from which water issues” (BT Ḥagigah 12a).

“The universe diffracts into forty-five hues of colored light. Seven disperse into seven abysses, each one striking its own abyss, stones gyrating. The light penetrates those stones, piercing them, and water issues from them, each one sinking within an abyss, covering both sides. Water flows through those holes, light penetrates, striking all four sides of the abyss. Each light whirls around its partner, converging as one, splitting the water” (Zohar 1:51a–52a).

“From the right side, Malkhut is called Stone. And a number of slimy stones come from Her. From them issue the waters of Torah, of which we have learned: Rabbi Akiva said to his disciples, When you reach the pure marble stones, do not say: ‘Water! Water! lest you endanger yourselves—do not say that these waters are waters, literally, because A speaker of lies shall not stand firm before my eyes (Psalms 101:7). For these waters are Torah, and it is said of Her: Torah is light (Proverbs 6:23). And since this light issues from a spring whose waters fail not (Isaiah 58:11), She is called Water.

And from the left side, this Stone, י (yod), is called Burning Coal, whence the ten sefirot ‘[are] as a flame bound to a burning coal’ (Sefer Yetsirah §6). And it has four hues [יהוה (YHWH)], and they are ten: יוֹד הֵא וָאו הֵא (Yod He Vav He) [amounting to י״ד (fourteen) letters]. And it is the יָד (yad), hand, of גְדוּלָה (gedullah), Greatness, on the right, the hand of גְבוּרָה (gevurah), Might, on the left, and from the middle pillar, an upraised hand. Therefore, it is comprised of forty-two hues [יָד (yad), hand, is numerically equivalent to י״ד (fourteen), and fourteen times three equals forty-two]” (Zohar 3:246a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Son of Azzai glimpsed into the sixth chamber and saw the brilliance of the atmosphere [lit., air] of the marble stones that adorned the chamber. His body could not endure and he opened his mouth and asked them: ‘These waters, what are they?’ And he died.

Son of Zoma glimpsed at the marble stones and thought that they were water. His body endured to ask, but his mind could not. And he was harmed….

Rabbi Akiva said: Son of Azzai was found worthy and stood at the gate of the sixth chamber. However, he saw the brilliance of the pure marble stones opened his mouth twice and said: ‘Water! Water!’ Immediately they cut his head off and threw upon him eleven thousand iron bars. This should be a lesson for future generations, that a man not err in this way at the gate of the sixth chamber” (Heikhalot Zutarti §345; §410, cf. Heikhalot Rabbati §259).

“Four entered an orchard—and all of them were selected to this realm, to these four elements. Each one was bound to his domain: one to the aspect of fire, one to the aspect of water, one to the aspect of air, one to the aspect of dust. All of them succumbed to their element, just as they entered—aside from the perfectly pious one, who proceeded to the right side and cleaved to the right, ascending on high.

When he reached the site called Chamber of Love, he cleaved to it passionately. He said, ‘This chamber must be conjoined with the chamber above, with great love!’ Then he was perfected in the mystery of faith—and ascended and consummated lesser love with great love, as is fitting. So, he died with love, and his soul departed with this verse: You shall love (Deuteronomy 6:5) [see BT Berakhot 61b]. Happy is his share!

As for all the others, each of them descended below and was punished in that element that cascades below.

Elisha descended below, into the left side—which is fire—descending within, not ascending, and encountered that Other Side, called אֵל אַחֵר (el aḥer), another god (Exodus 34:14). Teshuva was denied him; and he was banished because he cleaved to it. So he is called אַחֵר (Aḥer), Another, as we have established.

Son of Azzai descended into the element of dust; and before he reached the burnt dust, which extends to the Other Side, he succumbed to that dust and died. Of this is written Precious in the eyes of YHWH is the death of His faithful ones (Psalms 116:15).

Son of Zoma descended into the element of רוּחָא (ruḥa), air, and encountered another רוּחָא (ruḥa), spirit, extending to the side of impurity. And because another spirit passed by him, נִפגַע (nifga), he went mad. What is nifga? The impure spirit called פֶּגַע רָע (Pega Ra), Evil Disaster (1 Kings 5:18), and so, nifga, he went mad. פָּגַע (Paga), He came upon, him; and he did not stabilize.

None of them escaped punishment. Concerning this, Solomon said: There is futility befalling earth: there are righteous people treated according to the conduct of the wicked (Ecclesiastes 8:14)—for these descended among those rungs and were punished!

Come and see: Because Rabbi Akiva ascended on high, as is fitting, he entered in peace and emerged in peace.

[Rabbi Akiva survived his mystical quest intact. Even so, his fate was to be counted among the martyrs of Israel during the Hadrianic persecutions of the second century. Rabbi Shim’on wonders: How could he and the other martyrs—righteous innocents—be deserving of death at the hands of the Romans? Surely they deserved to die by divine kiss and be gathered to Shekhinah. The complex verse in Psalms provides the key:] He posed a question, not clarified explicitly, as is written: מִמְתִים (mi-metim), from men, by Your hand, O YHWH; מִמְתִים (mi-metim), from men, from those fleeting of portion in life (Psalms 17:14). [David] was bewildered how these were slain among the slain of the world—righteous innocents, who never sinned such that they should be punished. Come and see: מִמְתִים (mi-metim), of them that die, by Your hand, O YHWH; מִמְתִים (mi-metim), of them that die, מֵחֶלֶד (me-ḥeled), from those fleeting, of portion in life. By Your hand, O YHWH. Here are two modes: by Your hand, O YHWH, and חֶלֶד (ḥeled), fleetingBy Your hand O YHWH—the blessed Holy One, for the soul is gathered to Him; of them that die מֵחֶלֶד (me-ḥeled)—the Other Side, ruling over the body, as is written: I will never see a human again among the inhabitants of חָדֶל (ḥadel), the world (Isaiah 38:11) (Zohar 2:254b, Heikhalot Pequdei).

“[Now a river runs out of Eden to water the garden and] from there splits off into four רָאשִׁים (rashim), streams [lit., heads] (Genesis 2:10)—these are the four who entered the פַּרדֵס (pardes), Orchard. One went up פִישׁוֹן (pishon), Pishon, which is פִּי שׁוֹנֶה הֲלָכוֹת (pi shoneh halakhot), ‘My mouth repeats laws of conduct’ [corresponding to the פְּשָׁט (peshat), plain, meaning of Torah]. The second went up גִּיחוֹן (giḥon), Gihon, where is buried the one of whom it is written: Whoever goes on his גָּחוֹן (gaḥon), belly (Leviticus 11:42)—גַּבְרִיאֵל (gavriel), Gabriel, גָּבַר אֵל (gavar El), Man of God [namely, Moses, cf. Psalms 90:1]. Of him is written: To גֶבֶר (gever), a man, whose way is hidden, and God has hedged him about (Job 3:23)—no man knew the place of his grave nor will until the very day when he will be revealed there. And it is רֶמֶז (remez), hints, and to wise men hints [are sufficient].

The third went up חִדֶּקֶל (ḥideqel), Tigris—חַד (ḥad), sharp, and קַל (qal), light, and it is a חֲדִידָא (ḥadida), flawless, tongue, קַלָּא (qalla), quick, to דְרָשָׁא (derasha), homilies [cf. M Sotah 6:15: ‘With Son of Zoma died the last of the homilists’]. The fourth went up פְּרָת (perat), Euphrates, the brain [or: marrow, corresponding to the סוֹד (sod), secret, meaning of Torah] which is פְּרִיָּה (periyyah), flourishing, and רְבִיָּה (reviyyah), proliferation [cf. Genesis 1:28: פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ (peru u-revu), be fruitful and multiply]. Son of Zoma and Son of Azzai ascended with shells of Torah and were harmed by them, but Rabbi Akiva, who went up in the brain, of him it is said that he ascended in peace and descended in peace [cf. Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, Perush ha-Niqqud: ‘In truth, to some of them it was a פַּרדֵס (pardes), paradise, and to others it was שְׁמָד (shemad), annihilation. And the mystery depends upon the secret (i.e., numerical value) of the שֵׁם ד״ (shem dalet), Four Letter Name’].

Rabbi El’azar said: Father, one day when we were in the academy, the Companions asked why Rabbi Akiva said to his disciples, When you reach the pure marble stones, do not say ‘Water! Water!’ or you may endanger yourselves, as is written, A speaker of lies shall not stand firm before my eyes (Psalms 101:7). Meanwhile, the סָבָא דְסָבִין (sava de-savin), Elder of Elders, descended, saying: ‘Rabbis, what are you engaging in?’ They said to him: ‘That which Rabbi Akiva said to his disciples concerning the pure marble stones.’ He said to them: ‘Indeed here is a supernal mystery, for it has been explained in the Academy on High. And in order that you not be neglected I have descended, since the mystery—a supernal mystery concealed from people of the generation—has been revealed among you [cf. Vayiqra Rabbah 29:4: ‘He confines His Shekhinah among those below. Why? So that if they err in a matter of Halakhah, the blessed Holy One enlightens their countenance’].’

These are surely the pure marble stones from which pure water flows. They are alluded to at the top and bottom of א (alef). The ו (vav), placed on a diagonal in between, is the Tree of Life. Whoever eats from that tree shall live forever. These two יוּדִין (yods) belonging to the א (alef) are hinted at in וַיִּיצֶר (va-yiytser), and formed (Genesis 2:7) [cf. BT Eruvin 18a]; one of the upper beings and the other of the lower beings stand for Wisdom at the beginning and Wisdom at the end [of יהוה (YHWH) spelled out in its full ten letter expanded form: יוד הי ואו הי (Yod He Vav He); alt., יְאֲהדֹוָנָהי (YAHDWNHY)]. Mysteries of Wisdom, they are concealed supernal Wisdom, below supernal Keter. These are comparable to the two eyes from which two tears fell into the Great Sea. Why did the tears fall [see BT Berakhot 59a; Zohar 2:195b; 3:132a]? Because from these two tablets, Moses gave Torah to Israel. However, Israel was not worthy of receiving them, [so] they broke and fell (Exodus 32:19) causing the destruction of the First and Second Temples. Why did they fall? Because the letter ו (vav) flew out from them, which is the ו (vav) of וַיִּיצֶר (va-yiytser), and formed (Genesis 2:7). He gave them two others from the aspect of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. From here Torah was given in a manner of permitting and forbidding. From the right: Life; from the left: Death.

This is why Rabbi Akiva said to his disciples, When you reach the pure marble stones, do not say ‘Water! Water!’ Do not compare the pure marble stones to the other stones which are Life and Death: A wise man’s heart inclines him to his right hand but a fool’s heart is to the left (Ecclesiastes 10:2). Not only that, but you may endanger yourselves, because these are in separation, while the pure marble stones are in unity without separation of the whole. You may say, that when the Tree of Life departed from them [at the Sin of the Golden Calf] they fell and therefore they were separated from each other. However, A speaker of lies shall not stand firm before my eyes (Psalms 101:7), because there is no separation between them above. For those [tablets] that broke were of those [from the pure marble stones]. They approached to kiss him, but he vanished and was gone from them” (Zohar 1:26b, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

“And there is a chariot beneath זְּעֵיר אַנְפִּין (ze’eir anpin), Small Countenance, and he is מְטַּטְרוֹן אָדָם הַקָּטָן (metatron adam ha-qatan), Metatron the Lesser Man [cf. 3 Enoch 12]. And in his chariot, which is an orchard, they are hurrying from the sea of Torah, flowing out of his orchard to three of the four, about whom it was said that four entered the פַּרדֵס (pardes), Orchard. And we have already learnt this.

For he [Metatron] is the bird who was spotted by Rabbah son of Son of Ḥannah on the shore of the sea of Torah when the sea [Malkhut] reached its ankles [Netsaḥ and Hod], and its head reached to the top of the heavens [Tif’eret. On Rabbah son of Son of Ḥannah’s tall tales of his sea adventures and the various immense marine animals he encountered, see BT Bava Batra 73b–74a]. These three [namely, Son of Azzai, Son of Zoma, and Aḥer] did not fail in it because it contains numerous waters [of Ḥokhmah], but only, because of the forceful flow of the waters, and so have we learnt.

אבג (Alef, bet, gimel) include them and reckon six, the number of letters in מְטַּטְרוֹן (Metatron). ד (Dalet) is fourth: a sound of minute stillness (1 Kings 19:12). There came the King, for He is a man to sit on the throne.

א (Alef): יי (yod, yod)—upper waters, and lower waters, and there is nothing between them save a hair’s breadth, which is ו (vav), a slant line in between. It is the firmament [mystery of the וִילוֹן (vilon), Curtain, see BT Ḥagigah 12b] to divide water from water (Genesis 1:6). Thus there should be a separation between female and male, and that is why: and let it divide (Genesis 1:6). And the inner meaning of the matter: יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNHY)—the upper י (yod) is upper male waters and the lower י (yod) is lower, feminine waters. The six letters which come between are like the sum of ו (vav)—Metatron—which is between the א (alef).

Furthermore: י (yod)—a point; ו (vav)—a wheel. And there is no movement in the wheel at the six spokes [lit., extremities], as the numerical value of ו (vav), but only at the point. And this point is the unity of everything, and is witness to that Unity who has no second, and about whom the rabbis taught that one has to proclaim His unity in order to establish His kingship over the heavens and the earth and the four directions of the world.

ב (Bet)—heavens and earth [Tif’eret and Malkhut]; ג (gimel)—the pillar that bears them [Yesod]; ד (dalet)—the four living beings [of the Chariot]; ה (he)—the throne; ו (vav)—six steps [sefirot] up to the throne.

Moreover, א ב ג ד ה ו ז ח ט (alef, bet, gimel, dalet, he, vav, zayin, ḥet, tet): אָדָם (adam), Man [which has a reduced numerical value of nine, alluding to the first nine sefirot of Ze’eir Anpin]; י (yod)—יִיחוּד (yiḥud), He is Singular; Malkhut, tenth of אָדָם (adam), Man. The nine [sefirot] correspond to the nine letters. Happy are those of Israel who know the secret of their Master!” (Zohar 3:223b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineas).

“Tefillin of the Master of the UniverseKeter [cf. BT Berakhot 6a, 7a]. And what is Keter of the Master of the Universe? It is יְהֹוָה (YHWH): י (yod)Ḥokhmah; ה (he)Binah; ו (vav)Tif’eret, which includes the six sefirot. ה (He) is Malkhut. And this is the reason: And who is כְּ (ke), like, Your people Israel, a unique nation upon earth (2 Samuel 2:23); כִּי (Ki), for, what great nation is there that has gods close to it כַּיהוָה (ka-Adonai), like YHWH, our God whenever we call to Him? (Deuteronomy 4:7); [also there is an aforementioned verse: There is no one holy כַּיהוָה (ka-Adonai), like YHWH, for there is no one beside You, and ther is no bastion like our God (1 Samuel 2:2)]. All four verses are inscribed with כ (kaf), and the mystery of the letter כ (kaf) is י י (yod, yod): יְאֲהדֹוָנָהי (YAHDWNHY). [And this is the inner meaning of:] עֲשָׂרָה עֲשָׂרָה הַכַּף (asarah asarah ha-kaf), ten ten (shekels) the ladle, by the sanctuary shekel (Numbers 7:86)—כ (kaf), from כֶּתֶר (keter), Crown, comprised of ten sefirot and they comprise [ten sefirot of direct light] from above downwards, and ten sefirot [of reflected light], are upwards from below.

And these are [Praise Him, the heavens of the heavens,] and the waters above the heavens (Psalms 148:4), which are masculine upper waters [ten sefirot of direct light], and feminine lower waters [the waters beneath the firmament (Genesis 1:7)—ten sefirot of reflected light]. And of them Rabbi Akiva said to his disciples: When you reach the pure marble stones, do not say: Water! Water! lest you endanger yourselves. For these are not waters as is normally understood, but rather אוֹר נוֹבֵעַ (or nove’a), ‘flowing light.’ This is why its name is מַיִם נוֹבְעִים (mayim nove’im), Flowing Water. And this light is never interrupted, nor is it cut off, nor separated. And because it is from Keter, it is called שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם סוֹף (she-ein lahem sof), Endless, for Keter is called אֵין סוֹף (ein sof), Without End [אוֹר (or), light, and אֵין סוֹף (Ein Sof) are numerically equivalent]” (Zohar 3:258a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

He Crossed His Hands

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He was limping on his thigh (Genesis 32:32), נֵצַח יִשְׂרָאֵל (Netsaḥ Yisra’el), Eternity of Israel (1 Samuel 15:29). It is written: his thigh; not: his thighs. This is the fourth rung, from which no human prophesied until Samuel arrived, and of which is written: Moreover, נֵצַח יִשְׂרָאֵל (Netsaḥ Yisra’el), the Eternal One of Israel, does not Lie or change His mind (ibid.). Then this rung was mended, for it had been week ever since Jacob was endangered by the Prince of Esau. 

He touched the socket of his thigh (Genesis 32:26). When he reached Jacob, he seized power from that turning of the evening [cf. Genesis 24:63] in severe judgment. Jacob had merged with it, so he could not prevail against him. When he saw that he could not prevail against him, he touched the socket of his thigh—he seized the power of judgment from there, for the thigh is outside the torso. Jacob was the torso, comprising mystery of two rungs, mystery called אָדָם (adam), human. Once he seized power outside the torso, immediately the socket of Jacob’s thigh was wrenched (ibid.), and no human prophesied from there until Samuel arrived.

So concerning נֵצַח יִשְׂרָאֵל (Netsaḥ Yisra’el), the Eternal One of Israel, it is written: For He is not human (1 Samuel, ibid.). Joshua prophesied from the הוֹד (Hod), Splendor, of Moses, as is written: Confer מֵהוֹדְךָ (me-hodekha), of your splendor, upon him (Numbers 27:20). This is the fifth rung, נֵצַח (Netsaḥ), Eternity, left thigh of Jacob. So David came and combined it with the right, as is written: Delights in Your right hand נֶצַח (netsaḥ), for eternity (Psalms 16:11)—not Your right hand, but in Your right hand” (Zohar 1:21b, cf. Zohar 3:136b, [IR]).

“Spreading of goodness is הוֹדָאָה (hoda’ah), thanksgiving, which is called Ḥesed, and so it consists of ‘We thank you’ for such-and-such miracles and signs performed from the side of goodness. Now, you might say, ‘Look at what is written: delights in Your right hand for נֶצַח (netsaḥ), eternity (Psalms 16:11)—so it is on the right side!’ Not so! Rather, every single one indicates the place from which it emerged. And if you say, ‘Netsaḥ is on the right,’ look at what is written: נְעִמוֹת (ne’imot), delights, and it is written: נְעִים (ne’im), sweet, singer of Israel (2 Samuel 23:1)! This is left, and every left is included in mystery of right; but הוֹדָאָה (hoda’ah), thanksgiving, indicates the right, showing that it emerged from there, and this is spreading of goodness, spreading into Land of Living” (Zohar 2:168b–69a, cf. Rabbi Yehudah Ḥayyat, Minḥat Yehudah, on Ma’arekhet ha-Elohut, 103).

And Joseph took the two of them, Ephraim with his right hand to Israel’s left and Manasseh with his left hand to Israel’s right, and brought them near him. And Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, yet he was younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head—he crossed his hands—though Manasseh was the firstborn… And Joseph saw that his father had placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, and it was wrong in his eyes, and he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And his father refused and he said, ‘I know, my son. I know (Genesis 48:13–17).

“From the right of Abraham, whose rung is Ḥesed, He takes vengeance on Ishmael and his prince, and from the left of Isaac, whose rung is פַּחַד (paḥad), Terror, He takes vengeance on Esau and his appointed prince by means of two Messiahs, one of whom, Messiah son of David, is from the right, while the other, Messiah son of Joseph, is from the left. And the rung of Jacob that corresponds to them, in the mystery of changing his hands (Genesis 48:14) [cf. BT Yoma 53b]—the lion, to the left, and the ox to the right, to Ishmael. And since Judah was exiled in Esau, it follows that the right of holiness is with the left of Esau, and likewise the left of holiness is with the impure right of Ishmael. Until שִׁילֹה (Shiloh), come (Genesis 49:10) [cf. BT Sanhedrin 98b]—Shiloh, who is [Moses] the Faithful Shepherd [since the numerical valueof שִׁילֹה (Shiloh), is equal to מֹשֶׁה (moshe), Moses], whose rung is Tif’eret Israel [the middle pillar]. He will take vengeance from the motley throng. In these three rungs כֹּהֲנִים לְוִיִּם וְיִשְׂרְאֵלִים (kohanimlevi’imve-yisraelim), Priests, Levites, and Israelites, will be recalled from the Exile, and with them [His כְּלִי (keli), weapon] He takes vengeance upon Esau, Ishmael, and the motley throng. Just as the motley throng is intermingled with Esau and Ishmael, so Jacob is composed of Abraham and Isaac for he is a mixture of the two of them. So too, Shiloh [Moses the Faithful Shepherd] is intermingled with Messiah son of David and Messiah son of Joseph and he will be the link between the two of them, as at the time that Bilaam saw in his prophecy [see Genesis 49:10]. For thus the two Messiahs are connected with the Faithful Shepherd, like the three patriarchs, in the final exile” (Zohar 3:245a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

A Crown, Throne, and Footstool

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A virtuous woman is a crown for her husband (Proverbs 12:4).

“Rabbi Avin son of Rabbi Adda said in the name of Rabbi Yitsḥaq, ‘How do we know that the blessed Holy One puts on tefillin? For it is said: YHWH has sworn by His right hand and by the arm of His strength (Isaiah 62:8). By His right hand—this is Torah, as is said: From His right hand was a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2). And by the arm of His strength—this is tefillin, as is said: YHWH will give strength unto His people (Psalms 29:11). How do we know that tefillin are a strength to Israel? For it is written: And all the peoples of the earth will see that the name of YHWH is called over you and they will fear you (Deuteronomy 28:10), and it has been taught: Rabbi Eli’ezer the Great says, ‘This refers to tefillin of the head.’ Rabbi Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq asked Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Avin, ‘These tefillin of the Master of the World—what is written in them? He replied, ‘Who is like Your people Israel, a unique nation on earth’ (1 Chronicles 17:2)” (BT Berakhot 6a).

I will take away My palm and you will see My back (Exodus 33:23). Rav Ḥana son of Bizna said in the name of Rabbi Shim’on the Devout, ‘This teaches us that the blessed Holy One showed Moses the knot of tefillin [at the back of His head]’” (BT Berakhot 7a).

He flung from the heavens to earth the beauty of Israel (Lamentations 2:1)…. A parable: A king had a lovely diadem upon his head and a lovely mantle upon his shoulder. An evil rumor came to him and he flung the diadem from upon his head and the mantle from before him [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 75:4]” (Bahir §§32–33).

“What was the King’s daughter? י (Yod) over הוה (HWH), included with the patriarchs. ה (He)—first with Abraham; he—second with Isaac; ו (vav)—with Jacob. Now, yod was head over them, as is said, The crown of our head has fallen (Lamentations 5:16). And the Rabbis compared this to a king who had a diadem on his head and a lovely mantle before him. An evil rumor came to him, [and] he flung the diadem from his head. And what was י (yod) over יהוה (YHWH)? Yod above became, הוהי (HWHY)—yod below. Thus David said, The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone (Psalms 118:22)” (Zohar 2:79b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

“[Rabbi Akiva’s] disciples asked him: Why is ד (dalet) wide [open], at the side? He said to them: The segol which is פַּתָּח הַקָּטָן (pataḥ ha-qatan), the small pataḥ, as it says, [Lift up your heads, O gates, and rise up] פִּתְחֵי (pitḥei), portals, of the world, [that the king of glory may enter] (Psalms 24:7). He set ַ   (pataḥ) above and ֶ   (segol) below, and [thus] she came [to be] wide [open]. What is pataḥ? פֶּתַח (Petaḥ), an opening. Which opening? The north wind, open to all the world—the gate from which Evil emerges and Good emerges. And what is Good? He mocked them: Didn’t I tell you פֶּתַח קָטָן (petaḥ qatan), a small opening? They said to him: We have forgotten, repeat it for us. He said to them: A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king had a throne. Sometimes he takes it in his arm, and sometimes on his head. They asked him: Why? [He said to them:] Because it was lovely and it was a pity to sit on it. They said to him: And where does he set it on the head? He said to them: On the open מ (mem), as is said: Truth from the earth will spring up, as justice from the heavens looks down (Psalms 85:12)” (Bahir §37).

Your deed, in the midst of years revive it (Habakkuk 3:2). A parable: To what can this be compared? To a king had a goodly pearl, beloved of his kingdom. In his time of joy, he would embrace it and kiss it, place it on his head and would love it. Habakkuk said to him: Even though the kings are with you, this pearl is the beloved of your world. Therefore, Your deed, in the midst of years revive it. What is years? As is written, And God said, ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3). Light—none other than day, as is written, The great light for dominion of day and the small light for dominion of night (Genesis 1:16). Years are [made up of] days, as is written, Your deed, in the midst of years revive it. In the midst of—this pearl that gives birth to years.

And [so] it is written, From the east I will bring your seed (Isaiah 43:5). The sun rises in the east yet you say that the pearl is day! [He replied,] I did not say [anything] except and it was evening and it was morning, first day (Genesis 1:5), as is written, On the day YHWH Elohim made earth and heavens (Genesis 2:4)” (Bahir §§72–73).

“’Israel are crowned with three crowns: the crown of priesthood, the crown of kingship, and the crown of Torah which is higher than both’ (M Avot 4:13). Indeed, there is a crown of priesthood, a crown of kingship, and the crown of Torah is above them both. To what may this be compared? To a king who had a lovely and fragrant vessel which he adored. Sometimes he puts it on his head—tefillin of the head. Sometimes he carried it in his hand—the knot of the tefillin of the hand. Sometimes he lends it to his son to sit with him. Sometimes it is called כִּסְאוֹ (kiso), ‘his throne,’ for he takes it in his hand as an amulet—like the appearance of כָּסָא (kasa), a cup [cf. Zohar 1:1a; Zohar 2:43a (RM)]” (Bahir §152).

“’On the heads of your new moons, [you shall present an ascent offering to YHWH] (Numbers 28:11). Now, how many heads does the moon have?’ (Zohar 3:248a)—there are two points, like so: ֶ  (segol)—Moon is the lower point. The two heads above are two points of segol over Her. First she was כֶּתֶר (keter), a crown, on two kings, like so:  ֒ (segolta). And following this was said, ‘Can two kings possibly wear one crown?’ (BT Ḥullin 60b). The blessed Holy One said, ‘Go, diminish yourself!’ (ibid.). She settled under the two kings’ feet. Like so: ֶ  (segol). What had been  ֒ (segolta) became ֶ  (segol)….

Consequently, ‘”Bring an atonement עָלַי (ali), for Me [because I diminished the moon]”‘ (BT Ḥullin 60b)—for Moon was surely כֶּתֶר (keter), a crown, ‘ali, over Me.’ Like so: ֹ  (ḥolem). And afterwards She was diminished and [came to] settle under His feet, like so: ֶ  (segol). And at the time of ‘bring an atonement for Me,’ it is said of Her, הִוא הָעֹלָה (hi ha-olah), she is the ascent offering (Leviticus 6:3). For She rises from [under] His feet, as is said, And the earth is My footstool (Isaiah 66:1), [that] it may be said of Her, The heavens are My throne (ibid.). And this is the mystery of [He who rules men,] צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq), the Righteous One, who rules in the fear of Elohim (2 Samuel 23:3). For He overturns Judgment for Compassion [see BT Yevamot 64a]. And the mystery of the matter, The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone (Psalms 118:22)” (Zohar 3:248a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).