“Yah YHWH of Armies, God of Israel, Living God, El Shaddai, lofty and high One, who dwells forever and holy His Name (Isaiah 57:15) engraved thirty-two wondrous paths of wisdom. He created His world with three סֶפָרִים (sefarim), ciphers: בְסֶפֶר וּסְפָר וְסִפֻּר (ve-sefer u-sefar we-sipur), with a scroll, and a count, and a recounting” (Sefer Yetsirah §1).
“What are these thirty-two [wondrous paths of wisdom]?… A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king ‘[residing] within the innermost chambers’ (BT Berakhot 10a), thirty-two in all. Now, each of the chambers has a path. Is it fitting for this king that everyone enter his chambers by way of his paths? You would say: No. Is it fitting for him not to display his pearls, his hidden treasures, his precious objects, and his filigree? You would say: No. What then does he do? He must touch the daughter, and include all the paths in her and in her garments. Whoever wishes to enter, let him look here” (Bahir §63).
“What is the reason that we [tie] blue wool in the tsitsit? And what is the reason there are thirty-two threads? A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king had a lovely garden with thirty-two paths. He placed a guard over them and made those paths known to him alone, saying to him, ‘Guard them and go on them each day, and any time that you make your way through them peace [will be upon] you.‘ What did the guard do? He said, ‘If I am alone on these paths is it possible for one guard to maintain [all of] these paths? And what’s more, the world will say, “כִּי לוֹ (Ki lo), since [these paths are] his, he [must be] king of this [garden], and he guards this [garden] [alt., And what’s more, the world will say this king is כִּילַי (kilai), a churl, and he guards this (garden)].”’ Therefore, this guard put other guards over the paths—thirty-two paths.
And what is the reason for the blue? The guard said, ‘Perhaps these [other] guards will say the garden belongs to me.’ He gave them a sign and said to them, ‘See, this is the king’s sign, that this garden belongs to him. And these are the paths he maintains, they are not mine [see Heikhalot Rabbati §§244–45]. And, look: His seal.’ A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king and his daughter had servants. They sought to go to a faraway land [but] they were terrified by the king’s dread (Proverbs 20:2). The king gave them his sign [of goodwill]. They were terrified of the daughter and she gave them a sign. She said, ‘From now on, with these two signs YHWH guards you from all harm, He guards your life (Psalms 121:7)’” (Bahir §§92–93).
“What is the earth from which the heavens were hewn? The Throne of the blessed Holy One. It is the אֶבֶן יְקָרָה (even yeqarah), precious Stone, and the sea of Wisdom, corresponding to the blue in the tsitsit. Rabbi Me’ir thus said: Why is blue chosen above all other colours? [‘Whoever fulfills the mitsvah of tsitsit is as though he greeted the face of Shekhinah,] for the blue resembles the sea, and the sea resembles the vault of the heavens, and the vault of the heavens resembles the Throne of Glory’ (Sifrei, Numbers 115) [cf. BT Menaḥot 43b: ‘(Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai taught:) Whoever is diligent with this mitsvah merits receiving the face of Shekhinah’]. Therefore it is written And they saw the God of Israel, and beneath His feet was like a fashioning of סַפִּיר (sappir), [blue] sapphire, pavement and like the very heavens for pureness (Exodus 24:10). It is furthermore written [And above the firmament that was over their heads was] the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of אֶבֶן סַפִּיר (even sappir), a [blue] sapphire stone: [and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it] (Ezekiel 1:26)” (Bahir §96).
“Ḥokhmah—expanding in thirty-two directions and issuing from the Concealed Brain, from the radiance within. That which the Holy Ancient One shines into Ḥokhmah is the beginning of what is revealed. It becomes three heads, with one head encompassing them. These three expand in Ze’eir Anpin, and from these all shine” (Zohar 3:289b, Idra Zuta).
“חוּטִי הַשֵּׂכֶל (Ḥuti ha-sekhel), threads of the mind [i.e., tsitsit], spread from the blessed Holy One, each one emanating to watch over Israel” (Berit Menuḥa: Sixth Way, Way of the Intellect, cf. BT Menaḥot 43b).
“And what [purpose does] ן (nun) [in אֹזֶן (ozen), ear, serve]? To teach you that the brain is the root of the חוּט הַשִׁדרָה (ḥut ha-shidrah), spinal cord, and from there it drinks תָּמִיד (tamid), perpetually (Exodus 27:20; Leviticus 24:2). If not for the spinal cord, the brain would not exist, for the entire trunk is for the sake of the brain, and if the entire trunk were not to exist, the brain would not exist. The spinal cord is the channel from the brain to the entire body, and this is the bent נ (nun). But this ן (nun) [in אֹזֶן (ozen), ear] is long. The long nun always comes at the end of a word to teach you that the long nun comprises the bent and the long, but the bent is the foundation. This teaches you that the long nun comprises male and female” (Bahir §83).
“[Of the ten sefirot] seventh is east of the world, whence comes the seed of Israel. For the spinal cord draws from the brain of man and reaches to the ‘middle finger’ whence comes seed [i.e., the phallus], as is written, From מִזְרָח (mizraḥ), the east, I will bring זַרְעֶךָ (zarekha), your seed (Isaiah 43:5) [cf. Bahir §73, §155, §159; BT Bava Batra 25a: ‘Rabbi Abbahu said, Shekhinah (receives) in the west’]. When Israel is good before the Omnipresent: I will bring your seed and you will have new seed. But when Israel is bad, the seed is from that which has already come into the world, as is written: A generation goes and a generation comes (Ecclesiastes 1:4)—teaching it has already come” (Bahir §155).
“Wisdoms cry aloud outside, in the squares she lifts her voice (Proverbs 1:20)? This verse is difficult: first it is written Wisdoms cry aloud outside, and then, in the squares she lifts her voice—its beginning does not match the end, nor its end the beginning! However, Wisdoms cry out in the the streets—when it flows from the concealed brain of Arikh Anpin to the brain of Ze’eir Anpin through those strands, it is as if two brains join outside, becoming one brain. And when there is flow from one to the other, it is written she lifts her voice—in the singular.
Because of the flow from brain to brain through those strands, they are not coarse. Why? Because if they were coarse, nothing could flow through them to the brain. Thus, no wisdom emerges from a person who is coarse and angry, as is written: Words of the wise said gently are heard (Ecclesiastes 9:17). From here we learn that if the hair on a person’s head is coarse, wisdom does not settle within him [see BT Pesaḥim 66b: ‘Regarding any person who becomes angry, if he is a sage, his wisdom departs from him; if he is a prophet, his prophecy departs from him’].
Consequently, they are long, to bring benefit to all. What is meant by ‘all’? To enter חוּטָא דְּשִׁדְרָה (ḥuta de-shidrah), the spinal cord, which drinks from the brain. Therefore the hair of the head does not overhang the hair of the beard; for the hair of the head hangs and rises over the ears, behind, not overhanging the beard, because one must not mingle with the other, since each branches out on its own path” (Zohar 3:131b, Idra Rabba).