The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: light

Mother of Pearl and Dark Pearl: He Took a Fraction of Her Radiance and Made a Lovely Precious Stone

Pearl Nature Black Work Shell HD Background“Was light created on the first day? For, behold, it is written: And God placed [the two great lights] in the vault of the heavens (Genesis 1:17), and it is written: And it was evening and it was morning, fourth day (ibid., 19)—this is according to Rabbi El’azar. For Rabbi El’azar said: With the light the blessed Holy One created on the first day one could gaze from one end of the universe to the other; but as soon as the blessed Holy One foresaw the generation of the Flood and the generation of the Dispersion [i.e., the generation which built the Tower of Babel], and saw that their actions were corrupt, He arose and hid it away from them, as is said: The light of the wicked is withheld (Job 38:15). And for whom did He hide it? For the righteous in the time to come, for it is said: And God saw the light, that it was good (Genesis 1:4); and good means only the righteous, for it is said: Say you to the righteous, that it shall be good: [for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds] (Isaiah 3:10). As soon as the light saw that it had been treasured away for the righteous, it rejoiced, as is said: The light of the righteous rejoices (Proverbs 13:9)” (BT Ḥagigah 12a).

“It was taught: The light which was created in the six days of Creation cannot shine during the day because it dims the orb of the sun, nor by night, because it was created only to shine by day. Then where is it? It is treasured away for the righteous in the time still to come, as it says, Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of the seven days, [in the day that YHWH binds up the hurt of His people, and heals the stroke of their wound] (Isaiah 30:26). Seven! surely there were only three, seeing that the luminaries were created on the fourth day! It is like a man who says, ‘I am providing so much for the seven days of my [wedding] feast. Rabbi Neḥemyah said: It refers to the seven days of mourning for Methuselah, when the blessed Holy One lavished light upon them [see BT Sanhedrin 108b]” (Bereshit Rabbah 3:6).

“Rabbi Yehudah son of Simon said, ‘With the light created by the blessed Holy One on the first day, one could gaze and see from one end of the universe to the other. When the Holy One foresaw the corruption of the generation of Enosh and the generation of the Flood, He hid it away from them, as is written: The light of the wicked is withheld (Job 38:15). Where did He hide it? In the Garden of Eden. אוֹר זָרֻעַ לַצַּדִּיק וּלְיִשְׁרֵי לֵב שִׂמְחָה (Or zaru’a la-tsaddiq u-le-yishrei simḥa), Light is sown for the righteous, joy for the upright in heart (Psalms 97:11) [ר עֲקִיבַה (R. Akiva)]” (Vayiqra Rabbah 11:7).

“God said, ‘Let there be light!’ And there was light (Genesis 1:3)—primordial, transcendent light, already existent. From here issued all powers and forces, so Earth turned firm and fragrant, generating Her potencies. As the light shone, its radiance blazed from one end of the universe to the other. When it gazed upon the wicked of the world, it hid itself away, emerging only by its paths, concealed, unrevealed….

God said, ‘Let there be light!’ This is the light that the blessed Holy One created at first. It is the light of the eye. This is the light that the blessed Holy One showed Adam, who gazed with it from one end of the universe to the other” (Zohar 1:30b, 31b).

“Look at what we have learned in our Mishnah: With the light that the blessed Holy One created at first, one could gaze and see from the beginning of the world to its end. Come and see: The light of the sun is a sixty-thousand-and-seventy-fifth of the light of the speculum of the concealed light. If even at this light of the sun a person cannot gaze, how much more so at that light!

Yet we have said that a person could see with it from the beginning of the world to the end of the world! Well, so have we decreed in our Mishnah: With that light, a person could know and see—with the radiance of wisdom—all that was and all that will be, from the beginning of the world to the end of the world, and it has been concealed for the righteous in the world to come. What is meant by ‘in the world to come’? When the holy soul leaves this world and enters the world to come [cf. Tanḥuma, Vayiqra, 8: ‘The wise call it הַעוֹלָם הַבּא (ha-olam ha-ba), the world to come, not because it does not exist now, but for us today in this world it is still to come’; Zohar 3:290b (IZ): ‘The world that is coming, constantly coming, never ceasing’]” (Zohar Ḥadash 15b, Midrash ha-Ne’lam).

Rabbi Neḥunya son of ha-Qannah said: One verse says, They have not seen the light, bright though it be in the skies (Job 37:21). And another verse says, He set darkness His hiding-place (Psalms 18:12). It is also written, Cloud and dense fog around Him (ibid. 97:2). A contradiction! [However,] a third verse comes to reconcile: Darkness itself will not darken for You, and the night will light up like the day, the dark and light will be one (ibid. 139:12)” (Bahir §1).

Torah is light (Proverbs 6:23).

“Rabbi Boi said: From eternity I was shaped, at the start, before the earth (Proverbs 8:23). What is מֵעוֹלָם (me-olam), from eternity? A matter necessary לְהֵעַלֵּם (le-he’allem), to conceal, from all, as is written: The world, too, He has put in their heart, [without man’s grasping at all what it is God has done from beginning to end] (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Do not read הָעֹלָם (ha-olam), the world, but rather הָעַלֵּם (ha-allem), the concealment. Torah says, ‘I preceded all, so that I might be head of the world,’ as is said, From eternity I was shaped, at the start, before the earth. You may think that the earth was before her, thus: before the earth. And what [was] בָּרָא (bara), created (Genesis 1:1)? All that was needed, then: אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) (ibid.). Only then is it written, the heavens and the earth (ibid.)” (Bahir §10).

“Rabbi Berekhiyah said, ‘Why is it written, God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light (Genesis 1:3), and not [simply] ‘And there was?’ This can be compared to a king who had a beautiful object and set it aside until he had prepared a place for it; then he placed it there, as is written: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light—for it already was” (Bahir §25).

Unveil my eyes that I may look upon the wonders of Your Torah (Psalms 119:18).

“And Rabbi Yoḥanan said: There were two [iterations of] ‘light,’ as is written, [And God said, ‘Let there be light.’] And there was light (Genesis 1:3). Regarding both of them it is written, it was good (ibid., 4). The blessed Holy One took one and hid it for the righteous in the World that is Coming. Of this is written, How great Your goodness that You hid for those who fear You. You have wrought for those who shelter in You [before the eyes of humankind] (Psalms 31:20). To teach that the primordial light cannot be seen by any creature, as is written, it was good [cf. Shemot Rabbah 35:1]. Furthermore it is written, And God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:21). The blessed Holy One saw all that He had made, and saw goodradiant בָּהִיר (bahir), brightness. He took of that good, and included in it the thirty-two paths of Wisdom, giving it to this world. This is the meaning of, For good learning I have given you, do not forsake My teaching (Proverbs 4:2). Alas, say this is treasury of Oral Torah.

The blessed Holy One said, ‘This quality is included in this world, and it is Oral Torah. If you guard this quality in this world, then you will be worthy of the World that is Coming, which is the good treasured away for the righteous.’ What is it? It is His strength, as is written, And His brilliance will be as the light (Habakkuk 3:4). The brilliance that was taken from the primordial light will be [manifest] light if His children keep the teaching and the commandments that I have written to instruct them (Exodus 24:12) [cf. Zohar 2:166b].’ Therefore it is written, Hear, My son, your father’s reproof, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching (Proverbs 1:8).

And it is written, He has rays at His side: and there is His strength hidden (Habakkuk 3:4). What is His strength hidden? The light that was concealed: that You hid for those who fear You (Psalms 31:20). As is said: You have wrought for those who shelter in You (ibid.)—those who take refuge in Your shadow in this world, who keep Your teaching, and fulfill Your commandments. Who sanctify Your great Name, unifying it in private and in public, as it says: before the eyes of humankind (ibid.)” (Bahir §147–§148).

“Rabbi Berekhiyah sat and expounded: Each day we speak of הַעוֹלָם הַבּא (ha-olam ha-ba). Do we then understand what we are saying? The Targum renders this as עָלְמָא דְאָתֵי (alma de-atei), the World to Come. But what is it? This teaches that before the world was created, it arose in thought to create a great light for illumination. A great light was created which no creature could wield [see Tanḥuma, Shemini, 9]. The blessed Holy One foresaw that none could bear it so He took one-seventh and gave it to them in its place. The rest He treasured away for the righteous in the time to come, saying, ‘If they prove worthy of this seventh and guard it, I will give them the rest in the other world.’ It is therefore called the עוֹלָם הַבּא (olam ha-ba), World that is Coming, since it already came [before] the six days of Creation. Regarding this it is written, How great Your goodness that You hid for those who fear You (Psalms 31:20)” (Bahir §160).

“And what is Fear of YHWH (Isaiah 33:6)? It is the primordial light. Thus Rabbi [Berekhiyah] said: Why is it written, God said, ‘Let there be light.’ [And there was light]? (Genesis 1:3). Why does it not say, and it was? But this teaches that the light was so great that no creature could gaze upon it. The blessed Holy One therefore treasured it away for the righteous in the time still to come. This is the quality of all that is סְחֹרָה (seḥorah), valuable, in the world. It is also the power of the precious stones called סֹחָרֶת (soḥaret), Dark Pearl, and דַּר (dar), Mother-of-Pearl [see Esther 1:6; BT Megillah 12a ad loc. Perhaps the Dark Pearl is the supernal sun, too blinding bright to gaze upon, cf. Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, 1:59; Zohar 2:188a]. And over what quality is Mother-of-Pearl? To teach you that the blessed Holy One took a fraction of [Soḥaret’s, i.e., the World that is Coming’s] radiance and from Her בֹּנֶה (boneh), produced [alluding to בִּינָה (Binah)] a lovely precious stone. In [Dar, i.e., this world] He included all the mitsvot” (Bahir §190).

I am שְׁחוֹרָה (sheḥorah), dark, but desirable (Song of Songs 1:5), the speculum that does not shine but Father and Mother adorned Her so that Her husband be pleased with Her” (Zohar 1:49b).

“And what is from there is the Shepherd, Israel’s Stone (Genesis 49:24)? That מִשָּׁם (mi-sham), from There, Israel’s Stone is sustained [וְשָׁם (ve-sham), and There, is His strength hidden (Habakkuk 3:4)]. What is מִשֶּׁם (mishem), it by name? Ah, say: צֶדֶק עֶליוֹן (tsedeq elyon), supernal Justice [upper ShekhinahBinah]. What is it? The great hidden light called סֹחָרֶת (Soḥaret), Darkness [which סְחוֹר סְחוֹר (seḥor seḥor), surrounds, everything, cf. Zohar 3:120a]. And the stone residing below is called דַּר (dar), Dweller [i.e., lower שְׁכִינָה (Shekhinah), Presence, from לְשַׁכֵּן (le-shaken), ‘to dwell.’ Cf. Seder Rabba de-Vereshit, see Schäfer, Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur, §440: ‘Shekhinah is below just as Shekhinah is above’].

What is He has rays at מִיָּדוֹ (mi-yado), His side (Habakkuk 3:4)? These are the five fingers of the right יָד (yad), hand” (Bahir §193). 

“A precious stone set in a crown, as is written, the stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone (Psalms 118:22). It ascends to the place from which it was hewn, as is written, from there is the Shepherd, Israel’s Stone (Genesis 49:24)” (Bahir §91).


I Endow those who Love Me with Three Hundred and Ten Worlds

“Rabbi Shim’on son of El’azar says: Greater is he who acts from love than he who acts from fear, because with the latter [the merit] remains effective for a thousand generations but with the former it remains effective for two thousand generations. Here it is written: And doing kindness to אֲלָפִים (alafim), thousands, for those that love Me and who keep My commands (Exodus 20:5) and elsewhere it is written: And keeping His commands to the אֶלֶף (elef), thousandth, generation (Deuteronomy 7:9). But in this latter passage it is likewise written: For those who love Him and keeping His commands to the thousandth generation!—in the first verse cited [thousands] is attached [to for those that that love Me,] whereas in the second verse [thousandth] is attached [to keeping His commands. So in the former the motive is love, in the latter fear of punishment]” (BT Sotah 31a).

“Rabbi Yehudah, son of Rabbi Shim’on, expounded: He who blackens his face for the sake of Torah study in this world, the blessed Holy One will make his lustre shine in the next, as it is written: Like Lebanon he is choice as the cedars (Song of Songs 5:15) [לְּבָנוֹן (Levanon), Lebanon, is cognate with לָבָן (lavan), white]. Rabbi Tanḥuma son of Rabbi said: He who starves himself for the sake of Torah study in this world, the blessed Holy One will fully satisfy him in the next, as it is written: They take their fill from the fare of Your house and from Your stream of delights You give them drink (Psalms 36:9).

When Rabbi Dimi came, he said: The blessed Holy One will give every righteous man His heap [of reward], for it is written: Blessed be the Master day after day. God heaps upon us our rescue. Selah (Psalms 68:20). Abayye demurred: But is it possible to say so? Is it not written: Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and measured out heaven with the span? [how then can man receive such a vast reward?] (Isaiah 40:12)—he replied, ‘Why are you not found familiar with the aggadah [the nonlegal contents of the Talmud and Midrash]?’ For it was said in the West, [i.e., the Land of Israel] in the name of Rabbah son of Mari: The blessed Holy One will give to every righteous person three hundred and ten worlds, as is written, So I may endow those who love Me with substance and fill their treasuries (Proverbs 8:21)—now the numerical value ofׁ יש (yesh), substance, is 310 [thus man’s receptive capacity will be enormously increased]” (BT Sanhedrin 100a, cf. M Uqtzin 3:12).

“[Son of Rav Safra] opened, saying, ‘For a mitsvah is a lamp and Torah is light, and reproofs of discipline are the way to life (Proverbs 6:23). For mitsvah is a lamp—Mishnah, as is said: the Torah and the mitsvah (Exodus 24:12); the Torah is Written Torah, and the mitsvah is Mishnah, which is a lamp, a lamp ready to be kindled.

A lamp—why is She called a lamp? When She receives, between two arms, 248 supernal members, and She opens Her two arms toward them, then those two arms are included with them and She is called נֵר (ner), lamp [numerically equivalent to 250].

And Torah is light—illumining that lamp, which is kindled by it from the side of primordial light, as is written: from His right hand, a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2)—given from the right side, although the left was included in it, for thus is perfection of all.

This light is absorbed by 207 worlds, which are hidden away on the side of that light, and it spreads through them all. Beneath the supernal concealed Throne dwell those worlds on that right side. There are 310: 207 on the right side and 103 on the left side, totalling 310. These are the ones that the blessed Holy One constantly prepares, and from these spread countless precious treasures all stored away for delighting the righteous in the world that is coming. Of these is written So I may endow those who love Me with יֵשׁ (yesh), substance, and fill their treasuries (Proverbs 8:21). Of these is written No eye has seen, O God, but You, what You will do for one who awaits You (Isaiah 64:3).

יֵשׁ (Yesh), substance—310 worlds treasured away beneath the World that is Coming. אוֹר (Or), light, primordial light, is named after those 207 on the right side, because even light of the left is called light, but primordial light is destined to generate offspring in the world that is coming. Now, you might say, ‘In the World that is Coming, and no more!’ But even every single day, because if not for this light, the world could not exist, as is written: I declare, ‘The world is built by חֶסֶד (ḥesed), love (Psalms 89:3).

This light was sown by the blessed Holy One in the garden of His delight, and He arranged it in rows by the hand of the Righteous One, who is the gardener of the Garden. He took this light and sowed it as seed of truth, arranging it row by row in the Garden, and it sprouted and grew and yielded fruit, by which the world is nourished, as is written: Light is sown for the righteous… (Psalms 97:11)” (Zohar 2:166b).

“What is יֵשׁ (yesh), substance? חָכְמָה מֵאַיִן (Ḥokhmah me-Ayin), Wisdom from Nothing (Keter) [cf. Sefer Yetsirah §20: ‘He formed מַמָשׁ (mamash), something, from תוֹהוּ (tohu), nothing’]. For in the place of the upper Shekhinah [Binah] there is Ḥokhmah, as is said: So I may endow those who love Me with יֵשׁ (yesh), substance, and fill their treasuries (Proverbs 8:21); And doing חֶסֶד (ḥesed), kindness, to the thousandth generation for those who love Me and for those who keep My commands (Exodus 20:5)—from the side of חֶסֶד (Ḥesed), Loving-kindness, and this substance, which is חָכמָה (Ḥokhmah), Wisdom, is on the right as has been taught: One who desires to become wise should turn to the south [which is at the right hand of one facing the east] (BT Bava Batra 25b). And that is why it is written: So I may endow those who love Me with יֵשׁ (yesh), substance, and fill their treasuries (Proverbs 8:21)” (Zohar 3:238b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

Into this Skull Trickles Dew from the White Head

“Secrecy within secrecy was prepared and arranged in a single skull filled with crystalline dew. Membrane of air, purified and sealed; those strands of clean fleece hanging evenly. Will of Wills is revealed through prayer of those below. Open-eyed watching, never sleeping, ever vigilant; supervision below by supervision of radiance above. Two nostrils of an official arousing breath for all [as a nose supervising commandingly]” (Zohar 2:176b, Sifra di-Tsni’uta, cf. Zohar 3:137b–138a (IR); on טַלָּא דִּבְדוֹלְחָא (talla di-vdulḥa), crystalline dew, cf. Rashi on Numbers 11:7; Ibn Ezra on Genesis 2:12).

“It has been taught: When an impulse arose in the will of the White Head to enhance His glory, He arranged, prepared, and generated from בּוּצִינָא דְּקַרְדִינוּתָא (botsina de-qardinuta), the Lamp of Adamantine Darkness, a single spark. He breathed upon it and it flamed; His will arose and it scattered in 370 directions. Then the spark stood still, and pure air began to issue, whirling and expanding, and a single mighty skull emanated in four directions.

Within this pure air, the spark was absorbed, grasped, and enveloped. Would you ever imagine ‘within it’? Rather, concealed within it, and so this skull expanded in its directions, while this air is secreted in the secrecies of the Ancient of Days, in the breath that is treasured away.

In this skull fire spread on one side and air on the other, with pure air presiding over this side and pure fire presiding over the other. What is fire doing here? Well, it is not fire, but rather this spark enveloped in the pure air, illuminating 270 worlds, and from its side stems Judgment. Therefore this skull is called, ‘the mighty skull.’ In this skull dwell 90,000,000 worlds, moving with it, supported by it. Into this skull trickles dew from the White Head, filling it constantly, and from this dew the dead are destined to be revived.

That dew comprises two colors. From the aspect of the White Head, its color is white, including all whites, entirely white; but when it settles in this head of the זְעֵיר אַנפִּין (ze’eir anpin), Short-Tempered One, red appears in it—like crystal, which is white, yet the color red appears within the color white.

Therefore it is written: Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake—these to eternal life, those to shame and eternal contempt (Daniel 12:2). To eternal life—because they deserve that white, coming from the aspect of the עַתִּיק יוֹמִין (attiq yomin), Ancient of Days, אֲרִיכָא דְּאַנְפִּין (arikha de-anpin), Elongated Countenance. To shame and eternal contempt—because they deserve that red of the זְעֵיר אַנפִּין (ze’eir anpin), Small Countenance. All is included in the dew, as is written: For Your dew is a dew of lights (Isaiah 26:19)—two! And that dew drips every day to the Apple Orchard, colored white and red” (Zohar 3:135a–b, Idra Rabba).

“Rise Rabbi Shim’on and fashion new words with your hands, because permission has been granted to you to reveal hidden mysteries which have not been revealed by another until now. Rabbi Shim’on opened saying, ‘Yours, O YHWH, is the greatness, and the strength… (1 Chronicles 29:11).

Supernal ones, sleepers of Hebron, listen. Faithful Shepherd awake from your sleep. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust (Isaiah 26:19). These are those righteous ones who are from the aspect of, I was asleep but my heart was awake (Song of Songs 5:2). They are not dead, thus it says, Awake and sing. Awake, Faithful Shepherd you and the Patriarchs, awaken the Shekhinah asleep in the exile. Until now all the righteous sleep, asleep in their youth.’

Immediately the Shekhinah aroused three voices for the Faithful Shepherd, saying to him, ‘Rise Faithful Shepherd, of whom it is said, Hark! my lover knocks (Song of Songs 5:2)—with His four letters. Saying, Open for me, my sister, my friend, my dove, תַמָּתִי (tammati), my perfect one (Songs of Songs 5:2). Because, תַּם (tam), Complete, is the punishment of your iniquity, O daughter of Zion; He will no more carry you away into exile (Lamentations 4:22).’

For my head is filled with dew (Song of Songs 5:2). What is filled with dew? Rather, the blessed Holy One says, ‘Do you imagine that from the day the Holy Temple was destroyed I have entered My house, or I have entered My dwelling place? Not so! I have not entered at all since the time of your exile. Behold here is your sign: For my head is filled with טַל (tal), dew.’ הא (He, alef) [of the Holy Name spelled with ten letters] is Shekhinah in exile [separated from Her lover יוד הא ואו (Yod He Vav), the blessed Holy One]. Her completion and Her life is טַל (tal), dew, and this is יוד הא ואו (Yod He Vav); הא (He, alef), the Shekhinah, is not of the טַל (tal), dew, but יוד הא ואו (Yod He Vav) is ל״ט (thirty-nine) [numerically equivalent to טַל (tal), dew]. He fills the Shekhinah from the flowing of all the supernal sources. Immediately the Faithful Shepherd rose, and the holy Patriarchs along with him. Until here the mystery of unification” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 17b).

For Your dew is a dew of lights (Isaiah 26:19)—all who make use of light of Torah, light of Torah will revive, but all who do not make use of light of Torah, light of Torah will not revive” (BT Ketubbot 111b).

Like a Lamp from which Many Lamps are Lit while Retaining its Vitality

Hanuca_2010-1“A candle from which hundreds of millions of other candles are kindled. Though some shine brighter than others, compared to the first light they are all the same, all deriving from that one source. The first light and all the others are, in effect, incomparable. Nor can their priority compare with its, for it surpasses them; their energy emanates from it. No change takes place in it—the energy of emanation simply manifests through differentiation” (Rabbi Azriel of Gerona, Commentary on the Ten Sefirot, in Rabbi Me’ir ibn Gabbai, Derekh Emunah, 2b–c, 3a–d, translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 29–30).

“Come and see: One flame, slender, burning—all the world is filled. Regard: A thin piece of wood is kindling for a thick one” (Zohar 3:240b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Like a lamp from which many lamps are lit while retaining its vitality” (Zohar 2:86b).

“You will discover all in the ascending flame, wisdoms of the highest” (Zohar 1:51a-52a).

“Come and see: Nefesh—lower arousal, cleaving to the body like the light of a candle. The lower light, which is black, cleaves to the wick, never parting from it, arrayed by it alone. Once arrayed by the wick, it becomes a throne for the white light settling upon the black light. When both are arrayed, the white light becomes a throne for a concealed light—invisible, unknowable—settling upon the white light. Then the light is perfect” (Zohar 1:83b).

“Every wise person has his eyes and his words on his head, focused on Who is resting right there. With his eyes there he knows that the light kindled on his head needs oil. For the human body is a wick, and a light is kindled above. King Solomon cried out: Let… your head not lack oil (Ecclesiastes 9:8)—the light on one’s head needs oil, the oil of good deeds!” (Zohar 3:187a).

“Why is Israel compared to an olive? To teach that just as the olive does not produce its oil until it is crushed, so too Israel does not return except through suffering” (BT Menakhot 53b).

“Once the light of a lamp clings to the wick, that light is never still, but rather sways back and forth, never staying still. Similarly with Israel, whose souls derive from that light of the Lamp. As soon as they cling to words of Torah, the light is kindled—they cannot keep still; they sway back and forth and in all directions like the light of a lamp, for it is written: The soul of a human is the נֵר (ner), lamp, of YHWH (Proverbs 20:27)” (Zohar 3:219a, cf. Ba’al ha-Turim on Exodus 20:15; Kuzari 2:79).

“What is נֵר (ner), candle? נְשָׁמָה (Neshamah), soul, רוּחַ (ruaḥ), spirit” (Zohar 2:99b).

Fear of the King

509px-Chisinau_jew“The mother of Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq was told by Chaldeans [i.e., astrologers], ‘Your son will be a thief.’ [Thus] she did not let him [go] bareheaded, saying to him, ‘Cover your head so that the fear of heaven may be upon you, and pray for compassion’—now, he did not know why she spoke that to him. One day he was sitting and studying under a palm tree, the cloak fell off of his head, he lifted his eyes, and seeing the palm tree, climbed up and bit off a cluster with his teeth” (BT Shabbat 156b).

The wise has his eyes in his head, and the fool walks in darkness (Ecclesiastes 2:14). Now, where are a person’s eyes if not in his head? Perhaps in the trunk of his body or in his arms? Does this distinguish the wise one from all inhabitants of the world? Ah, but the verse surely means as follows. For we have learned: A person should not walk four cubits with his head uncovered. Why? Because Shekhinah rests upon his head. Every wise person has his eyes and his words בְּרֹאשׁוֹ (be-rosho), on his head—focused on the one who is resting and appearing on his head. When his eyes are there, he knows that the light kindled on his head needs oil. For the human body is a wick, and a light is kindled above, and King Solomon exclaimed: Let oil on your head not be lacking (Ecclesiastes 9:8); for the light on one’s head needs oil, namely good deeds. Thus, the wise one has his eyes on his head—and nowhere else!” (Zohar 3:187a).

Only בְּצֶלֶם (be-tselem), with an imagedoes a man goes about (Psalms 39:7) [cf. Zohar 1:218a; 3:43a–b]. Because [צֶלֶם (tselem), an image (i.e., Shekhinah)] is over a man’s head, man is prohibited to walk four cubits with his head uncovered. If She departs from over his head, his life is immediately gone” (Zohar 3:121b, Ra’aya Meheimna Naso).

“Because the Shekhinah is over his head the Masters of Mishnah taught: A scholar of the Law is forbidden to walk four cubits with his head uncovered [cf. BT Qiddushin 31a] because, the whole earth is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3). And even more so to go with uncovered head during a blessing or the mention of the Holy Name! [And the reason for the prohibition of going with an uncovered head:] י (yod) of יהוה (YHWH) is enveloped in אוֹר (or), light, and becomes אֲוִיר (avir), atmosphere [lit., air], since י (yod), which is Ḥokhmah, is in the אֲוִיר (avir), atmosphere [cf. BT Bava Batra 158b; Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 5]. And this is the light with which He enveloped himself when He created the world, as is written: Wrapped in light like a cloak, stretching out heavens like a tent-cloth (Psalms 104:2). Thus Let there be אוֹר (or), light (Genesis 1:1) is, Let there be אֲוִיר (avir), atmosphere. And the Masters of the Secrets of Torah taught: Before anything else was formed, הָהַוָיוֹת (ha-havayot), the existences, were formed. Thus: Let there be light, and there was light—that had existed previously” (Zohar 3:245a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 37b).

Let Us Make a Human in Our Image by Our Likeness

IMG_0436I 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 הַאָדָם (ha-adam), the human, but rather אָדָם (adam), a human, indefinite—excluding the one above [namely, הַאָדָם קַדְמוֹן (ha-adam qadmon), the Primordial Human], who was made with a complete name [i.e., יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (YHWH Elohim) (Genesis 2:7)]” (Zohar 2:178a, cf. ibid. 2:70a–b).

And אֱלֹהִים (Elohimsaid, ‘Let us make a human’ (Genesis 1:26). The secret of יְהוָה (YHWHis 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 appellation: Light and… Darkness (Isaiah 45:7), which amounts to eighty-six: Elohim [כִּנּוּי (kinnui), appellation, 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 appellation is Light and Darkness [אוֹר וּחֹשֶׁךְ (or u-ḥoshek), Light and Darkness, is numerically equivalent to יִשְׂרָאֵל (yisra’el), Israel]. And because of that appellation 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 unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bore you:] for one I called him [and blessed him, and increased 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 YHWH 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 (YHWH) [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 YHWH 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’ahHe did not create it a wasteland. He formed it to be inhabited (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).

By what Way does the Light Fan Out?

imageBy what way does the light fan out? (Job 38:24).

“House of Shammai are of the opinion that there is only one נְהוֹרָא (nehora), light, in a nehora, light, while House of Hillel are of the opinion that there are several. It has been taught to the same effect: House of Hillel said to House of Shammai: There are several מְאוֹרוֹת (me’orot), illuminations, in אוֹר (or), light” (BT Berakhot 52b).

“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).

“In this quadrisected expanse, all colors are included, four colors seen within, engraved quadruply, higher and lower secrecies inscribed in four engravings. When the colors of these four scatter, they total twelve: green, red, white, and a color blended of all colors as is written: Like the appearance of the bow in the cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance—the appearance of the semblance of the glory of YHWH (Ezekiel 1:28)—appearance of the colors of all. So, I have set My bow in the cloud (Genesis 9:13)” (Zohar 1:71b).

“Come and see: There are four lights. Three of them are concealed, and one revealed. A shining light [Ḥesed]. A light of radiance [Gevurah], shining like the heavens in purity [Tif’eret]. A light of purple, absorbing all lights [Yesod]. A light that does not shine [Shekhinah] but gazes toward these, receiving them, and they appear in it as in a crystal facing the sun. These three that we have mentioned are concealed, and stand above this one, which is revealed… This is the mystery: Close your eye and turn your eyeball, and those shining, glowing colors are revealed. Permission to see is granted only with eyes shut and concealed, for they are supernally concealed, standing above those colors that are seen and do not glow” (Zohar 2:23b).

“This blue on the second day was tinged with other colors: red and black… This black is so dark that its color cannot be seen from within the darkness. The Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai] said as follows: ‘This dark black color, where was it imbued? Well, when that red was smelted within blue and colors intermingled, a smelting of filth melted into the depths, out of which formed mire and mud, as is said: Its waters cast up mire and mud (Isaiah 57:20). From that clay of the depths emerged the darkness that is black—and not black but utterly dark, as is written: and darkness over the face of the deep (Genesis 1:2). Why is it called darkness? Because its color is dark and it darkens the faces of creatures” (Zohar 2:149b).

“These colors, intermingle, merging with one another—each one lending some of its color to its fellow—except for white, in which all are absorbed when necessary, and which covers all [cf. Proverbs 10:12]. As for all colors below, inhabitants of the world cannot turn them—black, red, or green—into white. Yet here [on the rung of Ze’eir Anpin], with one gaze [toward Attiqa Qadisha], all of them are transformed, bathed in white” (Zohar 3:293b, Idra Zuta).