The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: fractals

אבי״ע (ABiYA): Four Worlds

Add. 27006

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

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

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

Male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27). Is it so, since it is written, And God created the human in His image, in the image of God He created him (ibid.)? And afterwards it is written, [‘It is not good for the human to be alone,] I shall make him a sustainer beside him’ (ibid. 2:18) and, He took one of the sides and closed over the flesh where it had been (ibid., 21). But survey what is written [in the Torah]: יְצִירָה (yetsirah), Formation; and it is written, בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), Creation. Beri’ah—when the נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul, was created; עֲשִׂיָה (asiyyah), Actualization—male and female He עָשַׂה (assah), made, them; yetsirah—when the neshamah, soul, was combined with the body and all was brought together. And how do we know that yetsirah means ‘bringing together’? As is written, And YHWH Elohim יִּצֶר (yitser), fashioned, from the soil each beast of the field and each fowl of the heavens and brought each to the human to see what he would call it (ibid., 19). And look it is written, Male and female He created them (ibid. 5:2). It is also written, And God blessed them (ibid. 1:28)” (Bahir §198, cf. Guide of the Perplexed 2:30).

“It is written: He who בֹּרַאֲךָ (bora’akha), creates you, O Jacob; He who יֹצֶרְךָ (yotserkha), forms you, O Israel (Isaiah 43:1), and it is written: Thus says YHWH who עֹשֶׂךָ (osekha), makes you (ibid., 2). All these rungs mount up to one, as they have established: creates, forms, makes—all of them rungs one above the other, and all are one” (Zohar 1:177b, cf. ibid. 3:159b).

“On the side of Holiness, that אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), God, of truth, King over the world, is empowered by three elements: בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), Creation; יְצִירָה (yetsirah), Formation; and by עֲשִׂיָה (asiyyah), Actualization. The mystery of each and every one is mentioned here. Corresponding to beri’ah, Creation: He took from their hand (Exodus 32:4)—something that until now contained nothing at all. Corresponding to yetsirah, Formation: וַיָּצַר (va-yatsar), and he fashioned, it (ibid.). Corresponding to asiyyah, Actualization, וַיַּעֲשֵׂהוּ (va-ya’aseihu), and made it, into a molten calf (ibid.). Who has ever seen such sorcerers in the whole world!” (Zohar 2:192b).

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

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

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

And She Shall Count for Herself Seven Days

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“Rabbi Abba and Rabbi Ḥiyya were walking along the way. Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘It is written: And you shall count you from the morrow of the sabbath, from the day you bring the elevation sheaf, [seven complete weeks shall they be] (Leviticus 23:15). What does this indicate?’

He replied, ‘The Companions have established this but come and see: When the people of Israel were in Egypt, they were under alien domination and were gripped by impurity, like a woman sitting in days of impurity. After they were circumcised, they entered the holy portion called Covenant. Once they were joined to this, their impurity ceased, as when a woman’s blood of impurity ceases. After [the blood] ceases, what is written? [When she becomes purified from her flux,] she shall count for herself seven days [and after shall be clean] (Leviticus 15:28). Similarly here, once they entered the holy portion, their impurity ceased, and the blessed Holy One said, ‘From now on, a counting for purity.’ You shall count for yourselvesyourselves, precisely, as said: She shall count for herself, for her own self. Here, too, for yourselves—for your own selves. Why? To be purified by supernal holy waters, and afterward to come join the King and receive His Torah.

It is written: She shall count for herself seven days (Leviticus 15:28); here, too, seven weeks. Why seven weeks? To attain being purified by waters of the flowing, gushing river, called ‘living waters’ [Binah]. From that river issue seven weeks—so seven weeks surely, to attain it.

‘Just as a woman’s purity takes effect at night [after immersing herself in a miqveh], to join conjugally with her husband, so it is written When the dew would descend on the camp at night (Numbers 11:9). It is written on the camp, and not, When the dew would descend at night. And when did this dew descend? When Israel approached Mount Sinai—then that dew descended perfectly and they were purified, their filth ceasing, and they joined the King and received the Torah and Assembly of Israel, as we have established. At that time surely, All the streams flow into the Sea (Ecclesiastes 1:7)—to be purified and washed—and all are sanctified and joined with the Holy King.’

‘Come and see: if anyone does not reckon this count—those seven weeks—to attain this purity, he is not called ‘pure’ and is not in the category of pure, nor is he worthy of having a share in Torah. But if one arrives pure on this day and has not lost count, when he reaches this night he should delve into Torah and join her, preserving the supernal purity that comes upon him on that night, purifying him” (Zohar 3:97a–b, cf. BT Menaot 65b–66a).

“Certainly, in your prayer and in your recital of the Shema, the Shekhinah is renewed before the blessed Holy One and this is why it is said: [Until the morrow of the seventh sabbath you shall count fifty days] and you shall bring forward a new grain offering to YHWH (Leviticus 23:16). By the prayers which are instead of the sacrifices. But in which sacrifices, [namely] prayers, is She renewed? In your Festival of Weeks (Numbers 28:26), namely Shavuoth, which is when Torah was given, and which is called fifty days of the counting of the Omer, and which comprises seven weeks, from the side of the one about whom it is said: Seven times daily I praise You (Psalms 119:164), which is Malkhut, who is כַּלָה (kalah), bride, and is composed of the seven sefirot and is composed of Binah; and it spreads out in five sefirot of fifty.

Yesod [which is called] כֹּל (Kol), All (1 Chronicles 29:11) is composed of these fifty, [namely Ḥesed, Gevurah, Tif’eret, Netsaḥ, and Hod, each of which is composed of ten. Malkhut is called כַּלָה (kalah), bride, [the letters of which can also be read]: כֹּל ה (kol he) [numerically equivalent to fifty and five, namely] five [sefirot] composed of fifty. Each of them is enclosed within the fifty. Ḥokhmah, which is upper י (yod) is enclosed within the fifty, for ה״ (five) times י״ (ten). ה (He) is Binah and י (yod) is Ḥokhmah, [and there are י (yod) and ה (he) in Ḥokhmah, which when multiplied by each other, make fifty, and there are י (yod) and ה (he) in Binah; and when] י״ (ten) is [multiplied] by ה״ (five), the result is fifty, and this is the sum of כֹּל (Kol), All, and the numerical value of יָם (Yam), Sea [for Binah is called Sea, whose sum is fifty]. And the reference is to the Sea of Torah [where from Binah, which is called ‘Sea,’ emerges Torah, which is Ze’eir Anpin]. Its origin is Keter, which is infinite. The remaining sefirot are named after it: Seven Seas. And Malkhut [is] the יָם סוּף (Yam Suf), Sea of Reeds, the סוֹף דְּכָל יָמִים (sof de-khal yamim), end of all seas.

And because [each one of the] the seven weeks is fifty: And their grain offering… three-tenths for the single bull, two-tenths for the single ram (Numbers 28:28), making altogether five [tenths] which are five times ten. And their grain offering mixed with oil, three-tenths for the single bull, two-tenths for the single ram. A tenth for every single lamb of the seven lambs (Numbers 29:9). Seven lambsseven whole Sabbaths shall they be (Leviticus 23:15) and each one has six days [sefirot] with it” (Zohar 3:255a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

Ten Utterances: Five within Five

Add. 27006“[Rav Raḥmai said:] What is the reason for [the high priest] raising palms and blessing [the people] with a blessing? This is because there are ten fingers on the hands, alluding to ten sefirot by which the heavens and earth were sealed [on the fingers and their correspondence to the sefirot, see Sefer Yetsirah §3; Bahir §138; Zohar 1:20b–21a; 2:57a, 67a, 75b–77a, 208a; 3:143a (IR), 145a (Piq), 186a–b, 195b]. These ten correspond to עֶשֶׂר הַדִבְּרוֹת (eser ha-dibbrot), the Ten Utterances, and in these ten all 613 mitsvot are comprised—the number of letters in the Ten Utterances are 613 letters, comprising all twenty-two letters, except for ט (tet) which is missing from them. And what is the reason? To teach that tet is the בֶּטֶן (beten), belly, and is not [reckoned] with the sefirot” (Bahir §124).

“There are 620 letters in the Ten Utterances, corresponding to the 613 commandments given to Israel and seven commandments given to the sons of Noah [i.e., humanity]. And their mnemonic is כֶּתֶּר תּוֹרָה (keter torah), Crown of Torah [since כֶּתֶּר (keter), crown, is numerically equivalent to 620]. This teaches that if a person learns Torah for her own sake, she becomes a crown upon his head. However, if he learns Torah not for her own sake, then he will be כָּרֵת (karet), cut off [see Genesis 17:14; BT Berakhot 17a; Yoma 72bTa’anit 7a].

Ten Utterances—there are עֵקֶ״ב (eqev), in consequence [one hundred and seventy-two], words, hinted at by Eliezer [who took a gold nose ring for Rebekah,] a בֶּקַע (beqa) its weight (Genesis 24:22); and two bracelets (ibid.)—two Tablets; ten gold shekels (ibid.)—Ten Utterances. This is: עֵקֶ״ב (eqev), because, Abraham has listened to My voice (Genesis 26:5); by keeping them—great reward עֵקֶ״ב (eqev), in the end (Psalms 19:12); that I may keep עֵקֶ״ב (eqev), without fail (ibid. 119:33); ‘Make your Torah study קֶבַ״ע (qeva), fixed [i.e., a habit]’ (M Avot 1:15).

A heritage for the assembly of יַעֲקֹב (ya’aqov), Jacob (Deuteronomy 33:4)—י״ (Ten) Utterances in which there are עק״ב (one hundred and seventy-two) words” (Ba’al ha-Turim on Exodus 20:14).

“Rabbi Ami son of Abba also said: Abraham was three years old when he recognized his Creator, as is written, עֵקֶ״ב (eqev), because, Abraham has listened to My voice (Genesis 26:5), the sum of עֵקֶ״ב (eqev), because, is one hundred seventy-two” (BT Nedarim 32a).

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq said… the days of his life spanned one hundred and seventy-five. Hence: עק״ב (one hundred and seventy-two), Abraham has listened to My voice, while for three he did not listen to Him….

Come and see: When Abraham—first holy lamp of the world—longed to ascend to his rung, he was unable to until he rose to three supernal rungs above his position. Once he recognized the blessed Holy One through those three—Ancient One, Father, and Mother—from whom a light streams below, then he united with his portion, first light called First Day. All cleave to their rungs from the midst of that speculum that presides above [alt., at night], of which no human being is aware—truly! Of this we learned: ‘Abraham recognized his Creator at the age of three years’—three years, precisely!

Come and see regarding those three years: Since Shekhinah is called Bathsheba, he was unable to cleave to Her until he rose to know Her, to be illuminated, and to shine upon all thit is below—with those three supernal rungs and the other seven. Seven and three: these are the ten celestial rungs—mystery of Mother of the blessed Holy One [Binah and Tif’eret]…” (Zohar Ḥadash 26b–27a).

“In these five all is included. In these five utterances are engraved five others—surely, five within five. How so?

I am YHWH your God (Exodus 20:2), corresponding to You shall not murder (ibid., 13), for we have learned: Rabbi Yitsḥaq said in the name of Rabbi Yehudah, ‘These two comprise a single principle, since one who kills diminishes the likeness and image of his Lord, as is written: For in the image of God He made the human (Genesis 9:6), and similarly: upon the image of a throne, an image like the appearance of a human (Ezekiel 1:26).

Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘It is written: He who sheds the blood of a human, by a human his blood shall be shed… (Genesis 9:6). He who sheds the blood of a human—whoever sheds blood is considered as if he diminishes the likeness and image above. Namely, he has not diminished this likeness, but rather another likeness, as implied by what is written: He who sheds blood of a human, בַּאָדָם (ba-adam), in the human—this defect from the blood that he shed reaches the human. Why? For in the image of God He made the human. Therefore, one depends on the other.’

You shall have no [other gods beside Me] (Exodus 20:3), corresponding to You shall not commit adultery (ibid., 13), for he betrays the name of the blessed Holy One, engraved in a person. Many, many sins, decrees, and punishments depend on this. Whoever betrays this betrays the King, as is written: They betrayed YHWH because they bore alien children (Hosea 5:7), and similarly: You shall not bow down to them and you shall not worship them (Exodus 20:5). One depends on the other.

You shall not take [the name of YHWH your God in vain] (ibid., 7), corresponding to You shall not steal (ibid., 13), and it is written: A thief’s accomplice hates himself; he hears the adjuration and does not testify (Proverbs 29:24). Surely, one depends on the other, for the thief is destined to swear falsely; whoever does this, does that.

Remember the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8), corresponding to You shall not bear false witness against your fellow (ibid., 13), for Rabbi Yose said, ‘Sabbath is called testimony, and one must testify, as is written: For six days YHWH made [heaven and earth… and He rested on the seventh day] (ibid., 11), and Sabbath is totality of all.’ And Rabbi Yose said, ‘What is the meaning of the verse You will give truth to Jacob (Micah 7:20)? As is said: The children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath (Exodus 31:16). Whoever bears false witness is false to the Sabbath, which is testimony to the truth; and whoever betrays the Sabbath betrays the whole Torah.’ Consequently, one depends on the other.

Honor your father (Exodus 20:12), corresponding to You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife (ibid., 14). Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Honor your father—your father, precisely, for look, one who covets a woman and engenders a child, that child will honor another who is not his father!’

It is written: Honor your father… (Exodus 20:12); you shall not covet your neighbor’s house or field (ibid., 14). And here is written on the land that YHWH your God is giving you (ibid., 12)—what He is giving you will be yours, and you shall not covet something else. Surely, one depends on the other.

These first five include the five others. Consequently, From His right hand, a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2), for all became right. Therefore, Torah was transmitted in five voices….

Rabbi El’azar taught, ‘In these ten utterances were engraved all the commandments of Torah, decrees and punishments, pure and impure, branches and roots, trees and plants, heaven and earth, ocean and depths. For Torah is the name of the blessed Holy One’” (Zohar 2:90a–b).

All Faces Gaze at One Another, Included in Each Other

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Young women without number (Song of Songs 6:8)—do not read עֲלָמוֹת (alamot), young women, but rather עוֹלָמוֹת (olamot), worlds” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 14b).

“As rungs diverge, you discover a pistachio cluster, until they link to their suitable sides” (Zohar 1:177b).

“Come and see: the world above and the world below are perfectly balanced” (Zohar 2:176b).

“All those firmaments, one upon the other, are like skins of an onion. Some below and some above” (Zohar 3:10a).

“There is a visionary mirror reflecting supernal colors, envisioned in that visionary mirror; there is vision within vision, and vision within vision, one above the other, all poised on specific rungs, presiding, called night vision. Through them spread all dreams of the world, these resembling those above” (Zohar 1:196a).

“All faces gaze at one another, included in each other—spreading in many directions and myriads, above and below, without measure, count, or number” (Zohar 3:240b).

Seven and seven (Zechariah 4:2)—all transcendent: one contained within its fellow. They are seven, each one contained within its companion. Now, you might say, ‘Six would have been better, so that each one can be combined within the other, because in this case one remains! With which shall it be combined?’ The answer is that when they all ascend, totaling twelve, the one positioned above them all, completing the number thirteen, is encompassed by the one standing above it. This last one is the lofty point from which all emerge” (Zohar Ḥadash, 62b).

“It has been taught: There are ten spheres and ten commands. Each sphere has its command. Not that it is surrounded by it, but rather it turns it.

This world is like a mustard seed in a ring. Why? Because of the breath that blows [upon] it and sustains it. If this breath were to be interrupted the world would wither in an instant [cf. BT Bava Batra 25a–b]” (Bahir §179).

“All the lights expanding, large and small, appear as the hub of a wheel [lit., כְּעֵין גַּלְגָּל (ke-ein galggal), as the eye of a wheel; like the look of a wheel]. All the spheres and worlds and their armies appear in the center like a mustard seed. And they all go to and fro, whirling, never still” (Berit Menuḥa, Second Way: The Way of Love, First Vowel).

“Who am I? I am a mustard seed in the middle of the sphere of the moon, which itself is a mustard seed within the next sphere. So it is with that sphere and all it contains in relation to the next sphere. So it is with all the spheres—one inside the other—and all of them are a mustard seed within further expanses. And all of these are a mustard seed within further expanses. Your awe is invigorated, the love in your soul expands” (Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Or Ne’erav 18b–19a, translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 22).

“There is nothing—not even the tiniest thing [‘from the horns of wild oxen to nits’ (BT Shabbat 107b)]—that is not fastened to the links of this chain [of being]” (Rabbi Moshe de Léon, Sefer ha-Rimmon, translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 26).

Fractal Torah

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“Why is ב (bet) closed on every side but open in front? To teach that she is the house of the world—“the blessed Holy One is the Place of the world… the world is not His place” (Bereshit Rabbah 68:10)—do not read בֵּית (bet), but בָּיִת (bayit), house, as is written, Through wisdom a house is built (Proverbs 24:3). To what can bet be compared? A man ‘fashioned through wisdom‘ (BT Berakhot 60b)—closed on every side but open in front. א (Alef) is open from behind. He said to him: The tail of bet is open from behind, otherwise the man could not survive. So too, the world would not exist if not for bet in her tail” (Bahir §15).

“From one tiny letter dangle a million, a billion worlds of yearning” (Zohar 3:106a).

“Ten סְפִירוֹת בְּלִימָה (sefirot belimah), ciphers of emptiness, ten and not nine, ten and not eleven… their measure is ten, yet they have no limit” (Sefer Yetsirah §4, §7).

“Rabbi El’azar taught, ‘In these ten utterances were engraved all the commandments of Torah, decrees and punishments, pure and impure, branches and roots, trees and plants, heaven and earth, ocean and depths. For Torah is the name of the blessed Holy One’” (Zohar 2:90b).

“This verse bears numerous nuances, as does every word of Torah, each and every one including countless colors, all fitting. So they are, the entire Torah assuming seventy aspects, seventy faces. So it is with every single word of Torah, and whatever emerges from each and every word diverges into numerous nuances in countless directions” (Zohar 1:54a).

“You cannot find a single word in Torah that is weak or broken; rather, when you contemplate and know it, you will find it as strong as a hammer smashing rocks. And if it is weak, this comes from you, as we have established, for it is written: For it is not an empty word from you (Deuteronomy 32:47). Thus it is written stronger and stronger (Exodus 19:19)” (Zohar 3:7a).

“In the academy of Rabbi Yishma’el it was taught: ‘Is not My word like fire,’ declares YHWH, ‘and like a hammer smashing rock?’ (Jeremiah 23:29). Just as a hammer splits into many sparks, so every single utterance issuing from the mouth of the blessed Holy One splits into many meanings” (Leqaḥ Tov, Exodus 20:2).

“The scroll of the Torah is written without vowels, so you can read it variously. Without vowels, the consonants bear many meanings and splinter into sparks. That is why the Torah scroll must not be vocalized, for the meaning of each word accords with its vowels. Once vocalized, a word means just one thing. Without vowels, you can understand it in countless, wondrous ways” (Rabbenu Baḥya ben Asher on Numbers 11:15).