The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: image

No Image did You See Except the Sound

“[Rabbi Akiva said:] All the people were seeing the thunderings (Exodus 20:15)…. They were seeing the fiery word issuing from the mouth of Power and being engraved on the tablets” (Mekhilta, Baḥodesh 9).

“[Rabbi Amorai] said: What is written: And all the people were seeing the thunderings, and the flashes (Exodus 20:15)—is thunder, visible? But and all the people were seeing אֶת הַקּוֹלֹת (et ha-qolot), the thunderings, are those קוֹלוֹת (qolot), voicesof which King David spoke:

YHWH’s voice is over the waters. The God of glory thunders (Psalms 29:3). 

YHWH’s voice in power (ibid., 4), and it says, By the power, of My hand I have done it (Isaiah 10:13); Indeed My hand also has laid the foundation of the earth, [and My right hand has spread out the heavens: when I call to them, they stand up together] (ibid. 48:13).

YHWH’s voice in majesty (Psalms 29:4); Glory and grandeur His acts and His bounty stands for all time (ibid. 111:3).

YHWH’s voice breaking cedars (ibid. 29:5)—the bow that breaks cypress trees and cedar trees.

YHWH’s voice hews flames of fire (ibid., 7)—making peace between water and fire, hewing the power of fire and preventing it from evaporating water. Preventing water from extinguishing fire.

YHWH’s voice makes the wilderness shake (ibid., 8), as is said, And doing kindness with His anointed, for David and his seed forever (ibid. 18:51)—more than in the wilderness [when the Israelites were miraculously fed manna].

YHWH’s voice brings on the birth-pangs of does and lays bare the forests. And in His Temple all says glory (Psalms 29:9), as is written, I make you swear, O daughters of Jerusalem by the deer or the gazelles of the field, [that you shall not rouse not stir love until it pleases] (Song of Songs 2:7). To teach you that with seven קוֹלוֹת (qolot), voices, Torah was given. With each of them the Master of the Universe revealed Himself over them, and they saw Him. Thus it is written, And all the people were seeing אֶת הַקּוֹלֹת (et ha-qolot), the sounds.

One verse says: He tilted the heavens, came down, dense mist beneath His feet (2 Samuel 22:10). Another verse says: And YHWH came down on Mount Sinai, to the mountaintop (Exodus 19:20). However, still another verse says, From the heavens I spoke with you (Exodus 20:22). How is this so? And on the earth His great fire (Deuteronomy 4:36)—one voice. The other voices were in the heavens, as is written, From the heavens He made you hear His voice to reprove you, and on the earth He showed you His great fire, and His words you heard, from the midst of the fire (ibid.). But what was it? Great fire. From where did דִבּוּר (dibbur), Speech, emanate? From fire, as is written, and His words you heard, from the midst of the fire

What is but no image did you see except the voice (Deuteronomy 4:12)? As Moses said to Israel: for you saw no whole image [on the day YHWH spoke to you from the midst of the fire, lest you act ruinously and make you a sculpted image of any likeness…] (Deuteronomy 4:15)—an image, but not כָּל תְּמוּנָה (kal temunah), a whole image [cf. Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, 1:3].

A parable: A king stood over his slaves wrapped in a white covering—is this not enough to hold הַמַּלְכוּת (ha-malkhut), the kingship, in awe?—that they gaze upon his garment. Though the king was at a distance they heard his voice [see Exodus 20:19–20; Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 41]. Were they able to see his throat? You must say not. This teaches that they saw an image, but not a whole image. Thus it is written, but no image did you see except the קוֹל (qol), sound [or: voice]. It is also written, קוֹל דְּבָרִים (Qol devarim), the sound of words, you did hear.

One verse says: And all the people were seeing אֶת הַקּוֹלֹת (et ha-qolot), the sounds (Exodus 20:15). However, another verse says: קוֹל דְּבָרִים (Qol devarim), the sound of words, you did hear (Deuteronomy 4:12). How? At first they saw the voices. What did they see? The seven voices spoken of by David. But in the end they heard דִבּוּר (dibbur), Speech, emanating from the midst of them all. But we have learned that there were ten. Our Rabbis taught that they were all uttered with a single word [see Tanḥuma, Yitro 11]. But we have said that there were seven. There were seven voices. Of three of them is written: The sound of words you did hear but no image did you see except the sound (Deuteronomy 4:12). To teach you that they were all uttered with a single word. This is so that Israel should not err and say, ‘Others helped Him. Perhaps one of the angels, since His voice alone could not be so powerful.’ Thus on their account He returned and included them [in a single word].

Another interpretation: It was so that the world should not say that since there were עֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת (asarah ma’amarot), ten sayings, for ten kings it might be that He could not speak for them all through one. He therefore said אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I (Exodus 20:2), which included all ten. What are the ten kings? They are the שֶׁבַע קּוֹלֹת (sheva qolot), seven voices, and שְׁלֹשָׁה אֹמְרִים (sheloshah omrim), three sayings. But what sayings? And YHWH has proclaimed you today [to be to Him a treasured people, as He has spoken to you…] (Deuteronomy 26:18). But what are three? The beginning of wisdom is—get חָכְמָה (ḥokhmah), wisdom, and in all that you get, get בִינָה (binah), discernment (Proverbs 4:7) [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 17–18]. Therefore it is written [Yet it is a spirit in man,] and Shaddai’s breath that grants insight (Job 32:8)—Shaddai’s breath is תְּבִינֵם (tevinem), insight. What is third? As the old man said to the child, ‘Seek not things that are too hard for you, and search not things that are hidden from you. Reflect on the things that have been permitted you; you have no business with mysteries’ (BT Ḥagigah 13a) [see Ben Sira 3:21–22]” (Bahir §§45–49).

“This is the mystery of All the people saw the sounds and the flashes, and the sound of the shofar (Exodus 20:15). The sounds—these are the other letters that emerged from those sounds (as we have said), appearing in the air before the eyes of all, as is written: the sounds. It is not written all the people saw הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), sounds, but rather אֶת הַקּוֹלֹת (et ha-qolot), the sounds, alluding to the [entire sequence of] letters [from א (alef) to ת (tav)] that issued from them” (Zohar Ḥadash 41c).

“[Rabbi Yoḥanan said:] The voice went forth and split into seven voices, and from seven voices into seventy languages, so that all the nations would hear. Each and every nation heard His voice in its own language [see Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, Or ha-Sekhel 7: ‘שִׁבעִים לָשׁוֹנוֹת (Shevi’im lashonot), seventy languages, is numerically equivalent to צֵירוּף הָאוֹתִיּוֹת (tseruf ha-otiyyot), permutation of the letters’]” (TanḥumaShemot 25).

There were thunderings and lighting (Exodus 19:16). Rabbi Abba said, ‘It is spelled קֹלֹת (qolot), thunderings, deficiently [i.e., spelled without a ו (vav)]—two קָלִין (qalin), voices, turning back into one, issuing from one another: air from water, and water from air. It has been taught: Two that are one; one, an entirety encompassing two.

Rabbi Yose said, ‘קֹלֹת (Qolot)—one that is great and mighty, never ceasing. For it has been taught: In four cycles in the year the voice ceases, and then judgments arouse in the world; but this voice, comprising other voices, never ceases and is never deprived of its full existence and potency. This voice is voice of voices, a voice containing other voices.’

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Voice issues only from the aspect of air and water, and voice generates voice, intermingling, and it is spelled קֹלֹת (qolot).’

And lighting (Exodus 19:16). Rabbi Yose said, ‘This corresponds to what is written: He makes lightning for the rain (Psalms 135:7)—a flame in diadems, cluster of compassion, in unsubsiding love. It has been taught: Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Torah was given from the side of Gevurah. Rabbi Yose said, ‘If so, it is on the left side!’ He replied, ‘It returned to the right, as is written: From His right hand, a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2), and it is written Your right hand, O YHWH, glorious in power (Exodus 15:6). We find left turning into right, and right into left; thus Gevurah is on the left.’

And a heavy cloud on the mountain (Exodus 19:16)—a mighty cloud settling in its place, not moving. וְקֹל (Ve-qol), And the voice of, a shofar, very strong (ibid.)—out of this mighty cloud issues that voice, as is said: when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness (Deuteronomy 5:20).

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘There were three types of darkness, as is written: darkness, cloud, and dense fog (ibid. 4:11), and that voice issued as inmost of all.’ Rabbi Yose said, ‘Inmost of all, of which is written a mighty voice, unceasing (ibid. 5:19).

Rabbi Abba said, ‘It is written: All the people were seeing הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), the voices (Exodus 20:15). Were seeing—the verse should read were hearing. However, we have learned as follows: Those קָלִין (qalin), voices, were engraved in that darkness, cloud, and dense fog, and were visible in them as a body is visible, and they saw what they saw and heard what they heard from within that darkness, dense fog, and cloud. From within the vision they saw, they were illumined by the supernal radiance and knew what later generations coming after them would not know. They all saw face-to-face, as is written: Face-to-face YHWH spoke [with you]… (Deuteronomy 5:4).’

What did they see? Rabbi Yose taught, ‘Radiance of those voices—for there was not a single voice that did not shine radiantly, enabling them to gaze upon all hidden, concealed treasures and all generations that will appear until King Messiah. Therefore, All the people were seeing הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), the voices—actually seeing!” (Zohar 2:81a–b).

“When the blessed Holy One revealed Himself on Mount Sinai, when Torah was given to Israel in ten utterances, each and every utterance generated a voice, and that voice branched into seventy voices, all shining and sparkling before the eyes of all Israel, who saw eye-to-eye the splendor of His Glory, as is written: All the people were seeing הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), the voices (Exodus 20:15)—actually seeing!

That voice warned every single Israelite, saying to him, ‘Will you accept me upon yourselves with such-and-such commands of Torah?’ They replied, ‘Yes.’ It returned, circling round his head, and warned him, saying, ‘Will you accept me upon yourselves with such-and-such penalties of Torah?’ Each one said, ‘Yes.’ Afterward, that voice returned and kissed him on the mouth, as is written: O that he would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! (Song of Songs 1:2)” (Zohar 2:146a).

A Shelter for Them as a Mother Over Her Children

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And on the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall have a sacred assembly, no task of work shall you do, and you shall celebrate a festival to YHWH seven days (Numbers 29:12). And on the fifteenth day—from the side of יָהּ (Yah) [numerically equivalent to fifteen]. And you shall celebrate a festival—ו (vav), the middle pillar [Ze’eir Anpin]. Seven days—בַּת שֶׁבַע (Bathsheva) [lit., the Daughter of Seven], Malkhut [the final ה (he) of יהוה (YHWH)]. The Patriarchs [Ḥesed, Gevurah, and Tif’eret] and [Moses] the Faithful Shepherd [Netsaḥ], and Aaron [Hod], and David [Malkhut], and שְׁלֹמֹה (Shelomoh), Solomon [alluding to שָׁלוֹם (Shalom), Peace, an epithet of Yesod] are seven, corresponding to seven sefirot. I want to construct for you a סֻכָּה (Sukkah), Hut—supernal Mother [Binah], who will provide a shelter over them as Mother over children.

And on account of the seven sefirot, it is said: I made the Israelites dwell in huts when I brought them out of the land of Egypt (Leviticus 23:43), namely, with seven clouds of glory [cf. BT Sukkah 11b]. סוּכָּה (Sukkah), Hut, [spelled] with a letter ו (vav), in the mystery of the two children [whom Binah provides a shelter for, namely], יְהוָה (YHWH) and אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), for the numerical value of סוּכָּה (Sukkah), Hut, amounts to יְאֲהדֹוָנָהי (YAHDWNHY) [mystery of]: The cherubim shall spread their wings above, סֹכְכִים (sokh’khim), shielding, the cover with their wings, and their faces toward each other (Exodus 25:20) [on cherubim as children, see BT Ḥagigah 13b; Sukkah 5b].

And the cherubs are ten handbreadths from bottom to top [ten sefirot of reflected light], from their feet to their heads, and [ten sefirot of direct light] from their heads to their feet, and they rest on a handbreadth, which is י (yod). Ten from top to bottom and ten from bottom to top, and this is יוֹד (yod) [numerically equivalent to twenty]. And this is why the Rabbis ruled that the size of a sukkah, hut, should not be less than ten and not more than twenty. A Hut that is built in the shape of a kiln is from the side of Mother [i.e., Judgment] of whom is said: And Mount Sinai was all in smoke because YHWH had come down on it in fire, and its smoke went up like smoke from a kiln [and the whole mountain trembled greatly] (Exodus 19:18), and it is all one. 

And there shall be a hut for a shadow in the daytime [from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and from rain] (Isaiah 4:6). This is because a roof is required, and this casts a shadow, of which is said: בְּצֵל (be-tsel), In the shadow, of Shaddai, he lies at night (Psalms 91:1). And the meaning is not of the shadow cast by an ordinary hut that shields the body from the sun, but to the shadow that casts a shield over the נִשְׁמְתָא (nishmeta), soul: In בְּצִלּוֹ (be-tsillo), His shadow, I delighted to sit (Song of Songs 2:3), and of whom we said: Under בְּצִלּוֹ (be-tsillo), His shadow, we shall live among the nations (Lamentations 4:20). The word צֵל (tsel) with a final letter ם (mem) added to it forms צֶלֶם (tselem), image [where צֵל (tsel) shadow, alludes to the thatching], and it is said: With צֶלֶם (tselem), an image, a man goes about (Psalms 39:7). Closed ם (mem) has four sides to it [i.e., alluding to the four walls of the hut].

And with regard to the teaching: Two according to the regulations, and a third of even a handbreadth; and of him who says three according to the regulations, and a fourth of even a handbreadth: that is because [of the three measurements:] two, three, four, which together make nine. And the handbreadth [that they mentioned with the two or with the three] is the tenth, Malkhut, that makes up every shortage. And this is why the size of a hut is not less than ten, referring to Malkhut, which is the tenth of every sefirot, and not more than twenty, which is כ (kaf), upper כֶּתֶר (Keter), Crown, which is further than the eye can see. This is that upper glory, about which Moses said: Show me, pray, Your glory (Exodus 33:18), to which the blessed Holy One, responded: You shall not be able to see My face (ibid., 20), and there is no כָּבוֹד (kavod), glory, without כ (kaf).

And for this reason the Masters of Mishnah viewed as corresponding to them: a hut made like an alleyway, which is from the side of the letter ב (bet), and in the shape of a right angle, which is from the side of the letter ג (gimel), and like a hut which is from the side of the letter ד (dalet). And these seven letters [which are doubled with the addition of a dagesh allude to the seven sefirot and the seven types of invalid hut:] ב (bet), ג (gimel), ד (dalet), כ (kaf), פ (peh), ר (resh), and ת (tav): כ (Kaf): כִּבְשָׁן (kivshan), kiln. ב (Bet): בּוּרְגָנִין (burganin), wayside station, and to the remaining [invalid] huts, all of which are referred to by the Masters of Mishnah and there is no need to prolong the discussion on them [see BT Sukkah 8a–b].

And corresponding to them are the seven planets, and they are male and female [for when these seven letters are weak they are of the male and when they are strong they are of the female]. And they are therefore called “the seven doubles” (Sefer Yetsirah §37) and are like the seven candles of the candelabrum and it is said of this: Seven times daily I praised You (Psalms 119:164). And so: and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon its top (Zechariah 4:2), and likewise, the seven sefirot are double. And so, too, are the seven days of creation below and the seven above: and there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

The palm branch is the Righteous One [Yesod] for the palm branch is like the spinal cord that contains eighteen vertebrae, corresponding to the eighteen shakings with the palm branch. And they correspond to the eighteen blessings of the Amidah, and they correspond to the eighteen mentions [of YHWH] in Grant to YHWH, O sons of God (Psalms 29:1), and the eighteen holy remembrances in the recital of the Shema. And the palm branch is shaken in six directions which makes six, and it is shaken three times in each direction for a total of eighteen.

The palm branch [is taken] in the right [hand], and is comprised of six, namely three myrtle branches: Gedullah, Gevurah, and Tif’eret, and they are like the three colors found in the eye [i.e., white, red, and green]. And the two willow twigs are Netsaḥ and Hod, and they are similar to the two lips. The palm branch Yesod and it is like the spinal cord that supports all the bones and of which David said: All my bones say, ‘YHWH, who is like You?’ (Psalms 35:10). And the citron is Malkhut and is like the heart, in which are thoughts.

And the shakings of the Hallel are common to the shakings of the taking up of the palm branch, and there are eighteen: we beseech You, YHWH, pray, rescue (Psalms 118:25)—eighteen each at the first and last Acclaim [YHWH] (ibid., 1, 29), and eighteen at the taking up of the palm branch, making a total of seventy-two. And this is why לוּלָב (lulav), palm branch, is numerically equivalent to sixty-eight, together with the four species and this is חֶסֶד (Ḥesed) [numerically equivalent to seventy-two], which is the right side. And this is why it was decreed that the palm branch be taken in the right hand, which is the side of Ḥesed, and the citron to the side of Gevurah, to the left—the heart. And this is why it was decreed that the citron, which is like the heart, be held in the left hand, as it has been taught: palm branch in the right hand and citron in the left, corresponding to Remember and Keep. And who is the one taking both? The middle pillar. The palm branch is His right, the citron is His left” (Zohar 3:255b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Come and see: When man sits in this Hut which is the shadow of Faith, the Shekhinah spreads Her wings over him from above and Abraham and five other righteous ones make their dwelling with him. This is the meaning of, In huts you shall dwell seven days (Leviticus 23:42). It is written, seven days, rather than, in seven days. Similarly it is written, Six days did YHWH make: the heavens and the earth (Exodus 31:17). One should rejoice every day with a joyful countenance in those אוּשְׁפִּיזִין (ushpizin), guests, that dwell with him” (Zohar 3:103b, Ra’aya Meheimna Emor).

The Image of the Seal Through which He is Known

image“Nothing existed until there arose within the will of thought actualizing all by impress of the סָמִיטְרָא (samitra), signet, creating the world” (Zohar 1:15b).

You will be transformed like clay of a stamp (Job 38:14).

“וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (Va-yippaḥ be-appaiv nishmat ḥayyim)And He blew into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7)—חוֹתָם (ḥotam), signet ring, stamp, seal [cf. חוֹטֶם (ḥotem), nose; Isaiah 48:9]” (Ba’al ha-Turim).

“For if a man strikes many coins from one stamp they all resemble one another, but the King of the Kings of Kings, the blessed Holy One, טָבַע (tava), stamps, every man בְּחוֹתָמוֹ (be-ḥotamo), with His signet, of the first man, and yet not one of them resembles his fellow. Therefore every single person is obliged to say: ‘The world was created for my sake’” (BT Sanhedrin 37a).

What is the reason that we [tie] blue wool in צִיצִית (tsitsit), tassels? 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, “Since [these paths are] his he [must be] king of this [garden], 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. And, look: His seal.’ A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king and his daughter had slaves [or: servants]. They sought to go a distance being terrified by the king’s dread. 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 §96).

“בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), in the beginning (Genesis 1:1)—ב׳ רֵאשִׁית (bet reshit), bet is beginning. This is the gate of YHWH—the just will enter it (Psalms 118:20). This is the gate for the just [or: righteous] who have permission to enter there; others who are not just are driven out from there. In Her are impressed, rendered, and engraved the upper and lower images. The form of a man is impressed there, and this is דְּמוּת (demut), the likeness, of Man. The impression of a lion is there to the right, the impression of an ox to the left, and the impression of an eagle in the middle….

The four letters of the holy name, YHWH, shine upon them. The king of all the beasts is אָדָם (adam), man, which is the sum of יוֹד הֵא וָאו הֵא (Yod He Vav He), YHWH. The likeness of Man, is the holy Shekhinah, for She is His image; She is His seal, and of Her is said, Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm (Song of Songs 8:6). Thus the Shekhinah says, ‘Even though You withdraw above, Your image is not removed from me, like the seal that is in the place to which clings an impression of the seal’s owner.’ The image of the seal through which He is known is not removed from Her…. The seal of the blessed Holy One is certainly the Shekhinah” (Tiqqunei Zohar 1, 18a).

“There is no place empty of Him” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 57, 91b).

“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 אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation, are precisely the likeness of the King. The sefirot of בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), Creation, are the seal of the king, and the sefirot of יְצִירָה (yetsirah), Formation, are the angels which are the living beings, and they are the form of the seal in wax” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 3b).

“Truth is the seal of the blessed Holy One” (BT Shabbat 55a).

Let Us Make a Human in Our Image by Our Likeness

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“The sectarians asked Rabbi Simlai: How many gods created the world? He said to them: Why ask me? Go and ask the first man himself, as is said, For, pray, ask of the first days that were before you, [from the day God created a human on the earth…] (Deuteronomy 4:32). It is not written gods created a human on the earth, but rather, God created a human on the earth. They said to him: Isn’t it written, In the beginning Elohim created (Genesis 1:1)? He said to them: It is not written, בָּרְאוּ (baru), they created, but rather, בָּרָא (bara), He created [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 8:9].

Rabbi Simlai said: Every place the sectarians [try to] unpack [a verse] the answer is right beside it [cf. BT Sanhedrin 38b]. [The sectarians] returned and asked him: What is this which is written, ‘Let us make a human’ (Genesis 1:26)? He said to them: It is not written, And gods created the human in their image. But rather it is written, And God created the human in His image (ibid., 27). His disciples said to him: Rabbi you dismissed him with a [mere] reed. How will you answer us? He said to them: At first Adam was created from dust and Eve was created from Adam’s rib. From that time on, in our image, by our likeness (ibid., 26)—it is impossible to have a man without a woman. Nor is it possible to have a woman without a man. Nor is it possible to have either without שְׁכִינָה (Shekhinah), [the Divine] Presence [between them].

[The sectarians] returned and asked him: What is this which is written, אֵל אֱלֹהִים יְהֹוָה אֵל אֱלֹהִים יְהֹוָה (El Elohim Adonai El Elohim Adonai), God of gods is YHWH. God of gods is YHWH! He knows (Joshua 22:22)? He said to them: It is not written, They know. But rather He knows is written. His disciples said to him: Rabbi you dismissed him with a [mere] reed. How will you answer us? He said to them: These are three names [of] one [and the same person], just as a man says, ‘Basilius Caesar Augustus.’

[The sectarians] returned and asked him: What is this which is written, El, the God YHWH, He spoke and called to the earth (Psalms 50:1)? He said to them, It is not written, דִּבְּרוּ וְיִקְרְאוּ (dibru ve-yiqru), they spoke and called to, but rather it is written, דִּבֶּר וַיִּקְרָא (dibber va-yiqra), He spoke and called to. His disciples said to him: Rabbi you dismissed him with a [mere] reed. How will you answer us? He said to them: These are three names [of] one [and the same person], just as a man says, ‘Artisan, builder, architect.’

[The sectarians] returned and asked him: What is this which is written, [And Joshua said to the people, ‘You will not be able to serve YHWH,] for אֱלֹהִים קְדֹשִׁים הוּא (Elohim qedoshim hu), He is a holy God. [He is a jealous God, He will not put up with your crimes and your offenses’] (Joshua 24:19)? He said to them: It is not written, הֵמָּה (hemma), They, are holy. But rather it is written הוּא (hu), He, is a jealous God. His disciples said to him: Rabbi you dismissed him with a [mere] reed. How will you answer us? He said to them: Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘He is holy in every kind of holiness.’ For as Rav Yudan said in the name of Rabbi Aḥa: The blessed Holy One, His ways are holy, His speech is holy, His throne is holy, the barring of His arms is holy [see Isaiah 52:10]—fearsome and mighty in holiness….

[The sectarians] returned and asked him: What is this which is written, For what great nation is there that has gods close to it [like YHWH our God whenever we call to Him?] (Deuteronomy 4:7)? He said to them: It is not written, Whenever we call to them. But rather it is written, Whenever we call to Him. His disciples said to him: Rabbi you dismissed him with a [mere] reed. How will you answer us? He said to them: He is close to us in every kind of closeness” (JT Berakhot 9, 13a).

“‘You shall be holy, [for I YHVH your God am holy] (Leviticus 19:2)—see what is written, For אֱלֹהִים קְדֹשִׁים הוּא (Elohim qedoshim Hu), He is a holy God (Joshua 24:19). What is here? This verse is an opening to sectarians since it appears to them like two Authorities [or: two Powers]. The sectarians asked Rabbi Simlai: What is: For Elohim qedoshim Hu, He is a holy God? Do you not say that He is one Authority? [They said to him:] Look, they are two Authorities in this verse. He said to them: [Are there greater] fools in the world?! If it said, קְדֹשִׁים הֵם (qedoshim hem), they are holy, you’d have spoken [well]. But it is written, הוּא (Hu), He. And of that which is said, Elohim qedoshim, Rabbi Berekhiah said: What is Elohim qedoshim [written in the plural]? That He is holy in every kind of holiness. That all of His deeds are [done] in holiness. His words—in holiness, as is said, Elohim once spoke in His holiness (Psalms 60:8); His way—in holiness, as is said, Elohim, Your way is in holiness (ibid. 77:14); His procession—in holiness, as is said, [They saw Your processions, O Elohim,] my God’s processions, my King in holiness (ibid. 68:25). His baring—in holiness, as is said, YHVH had bared His holy arm (Isaiah 52:10); His appearance—in holiness, as is said, So, in the sanctum I beheld You, [seeing Your strength and Your glory] (Psalms 63:3); His praise—in holiness, as is said, Who is like You, mighty in holiness? (Exodus 15:11). Look, For He is a holy God—holy in every kind of holiness” (Tanḥuma, Qedoshim 4).

“[Fear YHVH, my son, and the king,] and don’t mix in with שׁוֹנִים (shonim), dissidents (Proverbs 24:21)—with שֶׁאוֹמְרִים (she’omrim), those who say, there is a second god don’t mix in. Rabbi Yehudah son of Simon said, And it shall happen throughout the land, said YHVH, פִּי שְׁנַיִם (pi shenaim), two-thirds, within it shall be cut off, perish (Zechariah 13:8)הַפִּיּוֹת שֶׁאוֹמְרִים (ha-piyyot she-omrim), those who say, [there are] two Authorities shall be cut off, perish. And who will be left standing? And a third shall be left within it (ibid.)—Israel, who are called three, for they are in three: Priests, Levites, and Israelites who are from the three Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Another interpretation: For they praise the blessed Holy One with three sanctifications, Holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6:3). Rav Aḥa said: the blessed Holy One was angry over Solomon saying this verse. He said to him: Anything about the sanctification of the Name you should have said in the language of acrostic and don’t mix in with dissidents. Immediately he turned back and expounded the matter: There is one without a second, neither son nor brother he has (Ecclesiastes 4:8)—He has no brother, He has no son, but rather, Hear, Israel, YHVH our God, YHVH is one (Deuteronomy 6:4)” (Devarim Rabbah 2:33).

I am the first and I am the last; and besides Me there is no god (Isaiah 44:6). I am the first—I do not have a father; I am the last—I do not have a brother; and besides Me there is no god—I do not have a son” (Shemot Rabbah 29:4).

And God said, ‘Let us make a human’ (Genesis 1:26). It is not written הָאָדָם (ha-adam), the human, but rather אָדָם (adam), a human, indefinite—excluding the one above [namely, אָדָם הַקַדְמוֹן (adam ha-qadmon), the Primordial Human], who was made with a complete name [i.e., יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (YHVH Elohim) (Genesis 2:7)]” (Zohar 2:178a, cf. ibid. 2:70a–b).

אֶדַּמֶּה לְעֶלְיוֹן (Edammeh le-Elyon), I will be compared to the Supernal (Isaiah 14:14).

And אֱלֹהִים (Elohimsaid, ‘Let us make a human’ (Genesis 1:26). The secret of יְהוָה (YHVHis for those who fear Him (Psalms 25:14).

The Elder of Elders opened, saying, ‘Shim’on, Shim’on, who is He who said, ‘Let us make a human’—who is this Elohim? Meanwhile, the Elder of Elders vanished. When Rabbi Shim’on heard that he called him Shim’on and not Rabbi Shim’on, he said to the Companions: This is indeed the blessed Holy One of whom is said, And the Ancient of Days took His seat (Daniel 7:9). Now is the time to reveal this secret which was previously forbidden, and permission has now been given to reveal it.

He opened, saying: A king had many buildings to build and he had an אֻמָּן (umman), artisan. That artisan did not do anything without the permission of the king, as is written, I was by Him, an אָמוֹן (amon), intimate (Proverbs 8:30) [cf. Bahir §5Guide of the Perplexed 2:4]. The king is most certainly supernal Ḥokhmah above, and the middle pillar is the king below. Elohim, the artisan above is supernal Mother. Elohim, the artisan below, is Shekhinah.

A wife is not permitted to do anything without the permission of her husband. Of all the structures [that emerged] by way of emanation Father would say to Mother, ‘Let there be’ such and such and so it was, immediately. As is written: And said, ‘Elohim let there be light’ and there was light (Genesis 1:3). And said—spoken to Elohim‘Let there be light.’ So Father uttered the words and immediately the artisan, Mother, faithfully performed the task. And this was the same with every structure by way of emanation—Father, would say, ‘Let there be a firmament’ or ‘Let there be lights, and all was performed immediately.

When the world of separation came, which is the world of those divided [see Zohar 1:158a], the artisan said to the architect‘Let us make a human in our image, by our likeness’ (Genesis 1:26). The architect said, ‘It is indeed good that man be made, but he will offend before you, because he is foolish, as is written, A wise son gladdens his father, but a foolish son is his mother’s sorrow (Proverbs 10:1).’

She said, ‘Because his crimes depend on Mother, and not Father, I wish to create him in My own image,’ as is written, And Elohim created the human in His image (Genesis 1:27). She did not want Father, to have any share [although often called Mother, Binah is also ‘World of the Male,’ encompassing the entire configuration of the sefirot from Ḥesed through Yesod. Together they constitute a masculine entity ready to join Shekhinah, see Zohar 1:147a, 149a, 96a, 160b, 246a–247a, 248b; 2:127b; ZḤ 72b (ShS)].

What is written at the time of the sin? For your crimes, your mother was sent away (Isaiah 50:1). The King said to Mother, ‘Did I not tell you that he was destined to offend?’ [cf. BT Shabbat 55a–bZohar Ḥadash 18c]. It was then that he exiled him and exiled Mother with him. Therefore, it is written: A wise son gladdens his father, but a foolish son is his mother’s sorrow. A wise son—man of אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation. A foolish son—man of בְּרִיָּה (beriah), Creation.

All the Companions rose and said ‘Rabbi! Rabbi! could there be such separation between Father and Mother, [so much so that] from the side of Father he is by way of Atsilut, but from the side of Mother by [way of] Beriah?! He said to them, ‘Companions, Companions, it is not so, because man of Atsilut is male and female, from the aspect of Father and from Mother. This is why Elohim said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light. ‘Let there be light’—from the side of Father; and there was light—from the side of Mother. So man had דוּ פַּרְצוּפִין (du partsufin), two faces [see BT Eruvin 18a].

But to him [of Beri’ah] there is neither image nor likeness [of Father or Mother]. Supernal Mother has but one epithet: Light and… Darkness (Isaiah 45:7), which amounts to eighty-six: Elohim [כִּנּוּי (kinnui), epithet, אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), and הַטֶבַע (ha-teva), Nature, are each numerically equivalent to eighty-six, cf. Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, Get ha-Shemot, 101b (MS Oxford, 1682)]. And that epithet is Light and Darkness [אוֹר וּחֹשֶׁךְ (or u-ḥoshek), Light and Darkness, is numerically equivalent to יִשְׂרָאֵל (yisra’el), Israel]. And because of that epithet of darkness, Father said that man of Beri’ah [Adam Rishon (First Man)], was destined to offend because he is light of the supernal garment.

Light—which the blessed Holy One created on the first day, hiding it away for the righteous alone [see BT Ḥagigah 12a; Bereshit Rabbah 3:6; Vayiqra Rabbah 11:7; Zohar 1:30b–31b; ZḤ 15b (MhN)]. Darkness—created on the first day for the wicked: And the wicked in darkness turn dumb (1 Samuel 2:9). On account of darkness, which would cause light to offend, Father did not wish to partake in his creation. Therefore, Mother said, ‘Let us make a human in our image, by our likeness. In our imagelight. By our likenessdarkness which is a garment for light, just as the body is a garment for the soul, as is written: With skin and flesh You clothed me (Job 10:11). They all rejoiced, saying, ‘How happy is our share that we had the privilege to hear words that were not to be heard until now.’

Rabbi Shim’on delved further, saying, See now that I, I am He, and no אֱלֹהִים (elohim), god, is by My side (Deuteronomy 32:39). Companions, listen to ancient words I wish to reveal since permission from above has been granted. Who is He who said, See now that I, I am He?’ He replied: The עִלַּת עַל כָּל עִלָּאִין (illat al kal illa’in), Cause above all Causes. He that is called עִלַּת הָעִלּוֹת (illat ha-illot), the Cause of Causes, is not high above all the supernal beings, but rather, is a cause among all the rest. Accordingly, every single one of these causes cannot act unless permission comes down from the cause above him, as I said before with, Let us make a human

Let us make—two rungs, and each lower rung said to the one above him, Let us make a human. The lower rung cannot act without permission from the one over him and the one over him cannot act until counsel comes down from the one over him. But He who is called עִלַּת עַל כָּל עִלּוֹת (illat al kal illot), Cause above all Causes, has no equal above nor below, as is written: To whom then will you liken Me, or shall I be equal? says the Holy One (Isaiah 40:25). He said, ‘See now that I, I am He, and no אֱלֹהִים (elohim), god, is by My side’—from whom to take counsel, unlike him of whom is written: And Elohim said, ‘Let us make a human.’

All the Companions rose and said, ‘Rabbi grant us permission to speak. Did you not already say that the Cause of Causes, said to Keter, ‘Let us make a human.’ He said to them: ‘Let your ears hear what your mouth speaks! Have I not just told you that He who is called the Cause of Causes is not He who is called the Cause above all Causes, for the Cause above all Causes has no second from whom He can take counsel. He is Singular, prior to all, and He has no partner [cf. Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith].

Accordingly, He said, ‘See now that I, I am He, and no god is by My side’ (Deuteronomy 32:39), from whom to take counsel [cf. BT Sanhedrin 38b; Bereshit Rabbah 8:8]; for He has no second, no partner, and no reckoning. [However,] there is a [certain] oneness in partnership in the manner of male and female, of whom it is said, [Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who spawned you.] כִּי אֶחָד קְרָאתִיו (Ki eḥad qerativ), for one I called him (Isaiah 51:2). But He is one without reckoning and without partnership, thus, He says, no god is by My side.’ They all rose, bowed before him and said, ‘Happy is the man whose Master gives him consent to reveal hidden mysteries that were not even revealed to the holy angels.’

He said to them, ‘Companions, we should complete this verse because it contains many mysteries. I put to death and give life (Deuteronomy 32:39)—I put to death and give life by the sefirot. From the right-side life, and from the left-side death. But if both do not agree by mediation of the middle pillar—unless all three settle together—Judgment cannot endure.

At times, all three agree to execute Judgement. Then appears an outstretched יַ״ד (yad), hand, receiving those who return. It is the הֲוָיָה (havayah), Being: יוד הא ואו הא (Yod He Vav He). This is Shekhinah, the right hand from the side of Ḥesed and the left hand from the the side of Gevurah. It is the Hand of YHVH from the aspect of the middle pillar. When a person repents, this יַ״ד (yad), hand, saves him from Judgement. However, when Judgment of the Cause above all Causes: [I smash and I also heal and] none rescues from My hand (Deuteronomy 32:39).

Furthermore, three times it has been said, אֲנִי אֲנִי אֲנִי (ani, ani, ani), I, I, I. [Three iterations of] א (alef) [at its beginning, and three iterations of] י (yod) [at its ending]. Here is the hint: יוד הי ואו הי (Yod He Vav He); יוד הא ואו הא (Yod He Vav He). [The verse also employs] three וָוִין (vavin), ands: וַאֲחַיֶּה (va-aḥayeh), and I give life... וַאֲנִי (va-ani), and I… וְאֵין (ve-ayin), and none They are also hinted at by these [two] names.

Despite all this the Companions have explained it concerning other אֱלֹהִים (elohim), gods, as is written: See now that I, I am He—the blessed Holy One and His Shekhinah. Of His Female is said, אֲנִי (ani), I am, הוּא (hu), He. And no god is by My side—[neither] Samael nor the serpent. I put to death and give lifeI put to death with My Shekhinah whoever is guilty and give life with Her to whoever is righteous. And none rescues from My hand—the יָד (yad), hand, of יהוה (YHVH) [numerically equivalent to י״ד (fourteen)]. יוד הא ואו הא (Yod He Vav He); and it is כוזו במוכסז כוזו (KWZWBMWKSZKWZW) [permutations of the Name]. All these explanations are true. But what we said before is that He is the Cause of Causes—the Cause above all others. And this mystery was not revealed to every sage and prophet [but only the select few among them].

Come and see: How many hidden causes are clothed and conveyed by the sefirot! The sefirot are but chariots to them, for they are concealed from human thought. Of them is written: For he who is high has a higher one watching him, and still higher ones over them (Ecclesiastes 5:7)—glaring white lights, these above those, but those that are receptacles are darkness compared to the others above them. And their is no light that can exist before עִלַּת הָעִלּוֹת (illat ha-illot), the Cause of Causes, all lights are darkened before Him.

Another explanation of the Companions: Let us make a human in our image, by our likenessthe ministering angels spoke this. He [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai] said to them: Since the angels already know the past and future, they already knew that he was destined to offend. Why would they want to make him? [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 8:6]. 

Not only that, but Aza and Aza’el also opposed [see Bereshit Rabbati, (Albeck) 29:14–31:8]. When Shekhinah said to the blessed Holy One, Let us make a human, they protested: What is a human creature that You should know him, [the son of man, that You pay him mind?] (Psalms 144:3). Why do You wish to create man when You know that he is destined to offend before You, with her who is darkness, since light is male and darkness female—left, darkness of Creation [see Bahir §13]. At that moment, Shekhinah said to them: You will fall by the same reasoning that you denounce! [cf. BT Qiddushin 70a: ‘And he who declares unfit is unfit and never speaks in praise. And Shemu’el said: With his own blemish he stigmatizes as unfit’]. As is written: The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were comely, and they took themselves wives whomsoever they chose (Genesis 6:2), so they went astray after them. Fittingly Shekhinah caused them to fall from their holiness.

The Companions said, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi, Aza and Aza’el did not lie! For man was certainly destined to offend with the female.’ He replied: This is what Shekhinah said, ‘You have made accusations before me that go beyond those of all the hosts above. If you were better than humans in your actions, you would have had a right to accuse him, but man will offend with only one woman, while you [are destined to offend] with many women. Therefore, your offences surpass those of man, as is written: The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were comely, and they took themselves wives whomsoever they chose (Genesis 6:2). It is not written: the daughter of men, but rather the daughters of men. If man is liable, I have prepared תְּשׁוּבָה (teshuvah), repentance, for him to repair the offence.’

The Companions asked, ‘If so, why all this?’ Rabbi Shim’on replied: If the blessed Holy One had not created [the] good and evil [impulses], which are light and darkness, there would not have been any merit or liability for the man of Beri’ah. So man was created with both, as is written: See, I have set before you today life and good and death and evil, that I charge you today to love YHVH your God, to go in His ways and to keep His commands and His statutes and His Laws (Deuteronomy 30:15). They asked him [yet again]: Why all this? Better had He not created darkness. Then man would have no reward and no punishment [cf. Zohar 3:159a].

He said to them: It was right to create him in this way because Torah was created for his sake, since it contains punishments for the wicked and rewards for the righteous. Thus, there can be no reward for the righteous nor punishment for the wicked without the man of Beri’ah: Not for nothing did He create it, to dwell there He fashioned it (Isaiah 45:18). They said, ‘Indeed, now we have certainly heard what we had never heard before. It is now clear that the blessed Holy One did not create anything that was unnecessary’ [cf. M Avot 4:3].

Furthermore, Torah of Beri’ah is the garment of Shekhinah. If man had not been created, She would have remained without clothing, just like a pauper. Therefore, whoever offends strips Shekhinah of Her garments [cf. Leviticus 18:7]. This is the punishment for man. And whoever performs decrees of Torah clothes Shekhinah in Her garments. Accordingly, about the garments of tsitsit and tefillin it says, For it is his sole covering, it is his cloak for his skin—in what can he lie? (Exodus 22:26). This applies during exile when Shekhinah is stripped of Her garments.

Come and see: Darkness is black [fire, or ink] of Torah. Light is the white [fire, or negative space] of Torah [see Zohar 2:84a, 226b]” (Zohar 1:22a–23a, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).