The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: science

Body and Soul; The Wisdom of Kabbalah and Philosophy by Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag (Ba’al ha-Sullam)

Ba'al ha-Sullam PortraitBody and Soul

Before I clarify this exalted matter, I must note that many apparently deem it impossible to clarify and bring closer to human understanding except by means of abstract philosophical concepts, as is usually the case with such investigations. However, since the day I discovered the wisdom of Kabbalah and dedicated myself to it, I have distanced myself from abstract philosophy and all its branches as far as the east is from the west. Everything I write is from a purely empirical perspective, in utter precision, and by means of simple recognition of practical things.

Although I will make mention of their words below, it is only to indicate the difference between what the human mind can imagine and what can be understood using Torah and prophecy, which are based on practical foundations, as I have shown in Mahutah shel Ḥokhmat ha-Qabbalah (The Nature of the Wisdom of Kabbalah).

I would also like to thoroughly clarify the terms “body” and “soul” as they truly are, since truth and a sound mind are one and the same. This is because the truth is available to anyone, but only by the spirit of the holy Torah, and by removing every distorted concept that has taken root among people. These are mostly taken from abstract methods from which the spirit of our holy Torah is far removed.

Three methods in the concept of “body” and “soul”

In general, we find that the methods which abound in the world concerning the concepts of body and soul can be gathered into three methods:

Faith

The method of faith argues that all that exists is spirit, or the soul. They believe that there are spiritual objects separated from one another by quality. They are called “souls of people,” and they exist independently, prior to clothing in a human body. Afterwards, when the body dies, death does not apply to it, since a spiritual object is a simple object. In their view, death is but a separation of the elements comprising the object.

This is possible with physical objects, comprised of several elements which death disintegrates but the spiritual soul, which is an utterly simple object, lacking any complexity, cannot be separated in any way, as this separation would annul its existence. Hence, the soul is eternal and exists forever.

The body, as they understand it, is like a garment over this immaterial object. The immaterial soul clothes in it and employs it to manifest its forces: the good qualities and every kind of concept. Also, it provides the body with life and motion and guards it from harm. Thus, the body itself is lifeless, motionless, and contains nothing but dead matter, as we see once the soul departs upon death, and all the signs of life that we see in human bodies are but manifestations of the soul’s powers.

Duality

Those who believe in duality think of the body as a discrete creation [i.e., Cartesian Dualism, see Descartes, Meditations]. Standing, living, nourishing, and safekeeping its existence with all that is required, it does not need any assistance from any immaterial substance.

Yet, the body is not considered man’s essence. Man’s essence is the perceiving soul, which is an immaterial substance, as in the view of the first method.

The difference between these two methods is only in the concept of the body. Following the extensive developments in physiology and psychology, they have found that providence has provided for all of life’s needs within the machine of the body itself. This, in their view, restricts the role of the soul’s function in the body solely to concepts and virtues of the spiritual kind. Thus, while both methods believe in duality, they say that the soul is the reason for the body, meaning that the body is a result emanating from the soul.

Skepticism

The method of the skeptics acknowledges the material only. Proponents of this method completely deny the existence of any abstract immaterial substance within the body [i.e., “the ghost in the machine,” see Ryle, The Concept of Mind]. Evidently they have proven that man’s mind, too, is but a product of the body. They portray the body as an electric machine with wires that stretch from the body to the brain. It operates according to encounters with external stimuli which send sensations of pain or pleasure to the brain, and the brain instructs the organ what to do. Everything is conducted by “wires” and “cords” made for this purpose. They move the organ away from sources of pain and towards sources of pleasure. Thus, from external stimuli this [network of “wires” and “cords”] determines all of man’s thoughts.

Furthermore, cognition is only an impression of the internal physical functioning of the body. Our superiority over animals is that our brains developed to such an extent that all the body’s functions effect the brain which we then experience as שֶׂכֶל וְהִגָיוֹן (sekhel ve-higayon), cognition [the ability to embed our thoughts within other thoughts, see Corballis, The Recursive Mind The Origins of Human Language, Thought, and Civilization]. Thus, cognition is merely a consequence of the accidents of the body.

In addition, there are proponents of the second method who completely agree with this method, but add the immaterial eternal substance to it, called “the soul that inheres within the machine of the body.” This soul is man’s essence, and the machine of the body is only its apparel. Thus, I have laid out in general terms all that human wisdom has thus far contrived with regard to concepts of body and soul.

The empirical meaning of “גוּף (guf), body,” and “נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), soul” according to our holy Torah

Now I shall explain this exalted matter according to our holy Torah, as our Sages have explained it to us. I have already written in several places that there is not a single word of our Sages, not even in the prophetic wisdom of Kabbalah, that relies on a theoretical basis. This is so because it is a known fact that man is naturally doubtful, and each conclusion that the human mind deems certain, it deems uncertain after some time. Hence, one doubles the efforts of his study and invents another inference and declares that as certain.

But if one is a genuine student [of human wisdom], he will walk in circles all his life, since yesterday’s certainty has become today’s uncertainty, and today’s certainty will be tomorrow’s uncertainty. Thus, it is impossible to determine any definite conclusions for more than a day.

The נִגְלֶה (nigleh), revealed, and the נִסתָר (nistar), hidden

The science of our time has come to understand this development and has determined that there is no absolute certainty in reality. Yet, our Sages arrived at this conclusion several thousand years earlier. Hence, concerning religious matters, they have guided and forbidden us to not only refrain from drawing any conclusions based on theory, but even prohibited us from being assisted by such theories, even by way of negotiation.

Our Sages divided the wisdom in two: revealed and hidden. The revealed part contains everything we know from our simple consciousness, as well as axioms built upon practical experience, as our Sages said, “A judge has only what his eyes see” (BT Sanhedrin 6b).

The hidden part contains all the knowledge we have heard from trusted people or have acquired by ourselves through general understanding and perception. However, we cannot sufficiently approach it so as to critique it with a sound mind, with straightforward understanding. And this is regarded as hidden, where we were advised to accept matters on simple faith. And with all that concerns religion, we have been strictly forbidden to even glance at matters that might motivate us to investigate and study them.

Yet, these names, “revealed” and “hidden,” are not permanent names, applying to a certain kind of knowledge, as the uneducated think. Rather, they apply only to human consciousness. Thus, one refers to all those concepts he has already discovered and has come to know through actual experience as “revealed,” and regards all the concepts that are yet to be recognized in this way as “hidden.”

Thus, throughout the generations, all people have these two divisions. The revealed part is permitted for study and research, as it relies on a true basis, and the hidden part is forbidden to even a shred of doubt, since one has no real basis there.

Employing human wisdom: permitted and forbidden

Hence, we who follow in the footsteps of our Sages are not permitted to employ human wisdom, except empirical knowledge, and in whose validity we have no doubt. Therefore, we cannot accept any religious principle from the above three methods. All the more so concerning concepts of “body” and “soul,” which are fundamental concepts and the subject of religion as a whole. We can only accept knowledge derived from the teaching of life itself, taken from experience which none can doubt.

Clearly, such a proof cannot be found in anything immaterial, but only in something material, set up for perception by the senses. Hence, we are permitted to use the third method [of the skeptics] to an extant. It engages only in matters of the body, in all those deductions that have been proven by experiments, and which no one doubts. The rest of the concepts, which combine the logic of their method and other methods, are forbidden to us. One who uses them breaches, Do not turn to the idols (Leviticus 19:4).

Yet, this third method is foreign and loathsome to the human spirit. There is hardly any truly educated person who is able to accept it, since according to them, man’s human form is erased and vanished. Man has been made into a machine that acts and goes about according to other forces. According to them, man has no free choice whatsoever, but is rather compelled by forces of nature, and all his actions are compulsory. Hence, man has no reward or punishment, since no judgment, punishment, or reward apply to one who has no free will.

Such a thing is utterly unthinkable, and not only for the religious, who believe in reward and punishment, since believing in His providence, that all the forces of nature are guided by Him, assures them that everything has a good and desirable cause. Yet, this method is even stranger in the eyes of the non-religious, who believe that everyone is given to the hands of a blind, mindless, and aimless nature. These intelligent ones are like toys in its hands, led astray, and who knows where? Hence, this method has become despised and unaccepted in the world.

But you should know that the method of those who conceive duality came only to correct this aforementioned error. For this reason, they have decided that the body, which is but a machine according to the third method, is not at all the authentic human. Man’s true essence is something altogether different—invisible and imperceptible to the senses. It is an immaterial substance, clothed and hidden within the body. This is man’s “self,” the “I.” The body and everything within it are considered possessions of that eternal and immaterial “I,” as they have written.

Yet, by their own admission, this method is lame, since they cannot explain how an immaterial substance, being the soul or the “self,” can move the body or decide anything concerning it. This is because following philosophical precision itself, the spiritual has no contact whatsoever with the physical. It has absolutely no impact on it, as they have written themselves.

The accusation against Maimonides

Yet, even without this question, their method would have been forbidden among Israel, as we have explained above. It is important to know that the entire accusation against Maimonides by the sages of Israel and the harsh judgment to burn his books, were not because they had any doubt of the righteousness and piety of Maimonides himself. Rather, it was only because he employed [Aristotelian] philosophy and metaphysics, which were at their peak at the time, as assistance in his books. Maimonides wished to save them from it, yet the Sages did not agree with him.

Needless to say, today our generation has already recognized that metaphysical philosophy contains no real content upon which it is worthwhile to spend one’s time. Hence, it is certainly forbidden for anyone to take any spices from their words.

The Wisdom of Kabbalah and Philosophy

What is spirituality?

Philosophy has gone through a great deal of trouble to prove that the physical is the offspring of the metaphysical, and that the soul generates the body. Still, their words are unacceptable to the heart in any manner. Their primary mistake is their erroneous view of spirituality since they postulate that the metaphysical fathered the physical, which is certainly a lie.

For any parent must, somehow, resemble its child. This relation is the path and route by which its offspring emanates. In addition, every agent must have some agency by which to reach it. Since they say that spirituality is denied any physical occurrence, then such a path does not exist, nor any means by which the spiritual can contact and set it into motion.

However, understanding the meaning of the word רוּחָנִיוּת (ruḥaniut), “spirituality,” has nothing to do with philosophy. This is because how can they discuss something that they have never seen or felt? What does their foundation stand on?

If there is any definition that can tell the spiritual from the physical it belongs only to those who have attained a spiritual thing and sensed it and these are the authentic kabbalists. Thus, it is the wisdom of Kabbalah that we need.

Philosophy with regard to His essence

Philosophy loves to occupy itself with His essence and prove which laws do not apply to Him. However, Kabbalah has no dealings with this whatsoever, for how can the unattainable and imperceptible be defined? Indeed, a negative definition is just as relevant as a positive definition. For if you see an object from a distance and apprehend its negatives, meaning all that it is not, that, too, is considered seeing or some degree of apprehension. If an object is truly out of sight even its negative qualities are not apparent.

For example, if we perceive a black image from a distance, but can still determine that it is neither human nor bird, this is considered vision. If it be farther still, we would be unable to determine that it is not human.

This is the cause of their confusion and irrelevance. Philosophy prides itself on understanding all the negatives about His essence [see Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, 1:58]. However, here the sages of Kabbalah put their hand to their mouth, and do not give Him even a simple name, for we do not define by name or word that which we do not attain [cf. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason]. That is because a word designates some degree of attainment. However, kabbalists do speak a great deal about His illumination in reality, meaning all those illuminations they have actually attained, as legitimate as tangible attainment (in my opinion, philosophy has generally worn a mantle that it does not own, for it has stolen definitions from the wisdom of Kabbalah, and made delicacies with human understanding. Had it not been for that, they would never have conjured such fabrications).

The spiritual is a force without a body

That is what kabbalists define as “spirituality” and that is what they talk about. It has no form, space, time or any physical value. However, it is only a potential force, meaning a force that is not clothed in a material body, but rather a force without a body.

A spiritual vessel is called a force

Here we must note that in spirituality the concept of a force does not refer to the light itself. Since this light is immaterial it emanates directly from His essence, blessed be He, and if so is the same as His essence. This means that we have no perception or attainment of this light that we can define by name. Even the word, אוֹר (or), “light,” is borrowed and is not [actually] true. Thus, we must know that the word כֹּחַ (koa), “force,” without a body, refers specifically to an כְּלִי רוּחָנִי (keli ruḥani), “immaterial vessel.”

Lights and vessels

Therefore, we must not inquire how the sages of the Kabbalah, which fill the entire wisdom with their insights, differentiate between the various lights. Since these observations do not refer to the lights themselves, but to the impression of the vessel, being the aforementioned force, which is affected by its encounter with the light.

Vessels and lights

Here we must add the distinction between the gift and the love that it engenders. The lights, meaning the impression on the vessel, which is detectable, is called צוּרָה וְחוֹמֶר (tsurah ve-ḥomer), “form and matter” together. The impression, she is the form and the aforementioned force, he is the matter.

However, the love that is engendered is considered צוּרָה בְּלִי חוֹמֶר (tsurah beli ḥomer), “form without matter.” In other words, if we strip the love from a gift, as though it was never clothed in any gift, but only in the abstract designation, “love of the blessed Holy One,” then it is regarded as form and it belongs to the formative Kabbalah [cf. Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, 1:68]. However, unlike formative philosophy it still concerns what is real since the spirit of love remains in the attainment, completely abstracted from the gift, which is the light itself.

Matter and form in Kabbalah

The reason is that although love is merely a result of the gift, it is still far more important than the gift itself. It is like a great king who gives something insignificant to someone. Although the gift itself is worthless, the love and attention of the king make it priceless and precious. Thus, it is completely abstracted from the matter—the light and the gift—so that the whole affair remains engraved only in the attainment of love itself, while the gift is forgotten from the heart. Therefore, this aspect of the wisdom is called חָכְמַת הַקְבָלָה הַצוּרָתִית (ḥakhmat ha-qabbalah ha-tsuratit), the formative wisdom of Kabbalah, and it is the most important part of the wisdom.

אבי״ע (ABiYA)

This love consists of four parts, similar to human love: when we first receive a gift, we do not call the giver of the gift one who loves us, all the more so if the giver of the gift is important and the receiver is not equal to him.

However, the persistence of many gifts will make even the most important person seem like a true and equal lover, since the law of love does not exist between great and small, as two true lovers must feel equal.

Thus, you may gauge four rungs of love. The incident is called עֲשִׂיָה (assiyah), Actualization, the repetition of gift giving is called יְצִירָה (yetsirah), Formation, and the appearance of the love itself is called בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), Creation.

It is here that the study of the formative wisdom of Kabbalah begins, for it is with this rung that love is abstracted from the gifts. This is the meaning of [I form light,and create darkness (Isaiah 45:7), meaning the light is removed from Yetsirah and the love remains without light, without its gifts.

Then comes אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation. After one has tasted and entirely stripped form from matter, as is written, and create darkness, he becomes worthy of ascending to the rung of Atsilut, where form clothes matter once more, meaning light and love together.

The origin of the soul

Everything spiritual is perceived as a separate force from the body because it has no physical form. However, due to this, it remains isolated and completely separate from the physical. If so, how can it set anything material in motion, much less generate anything physical, when it has no means of coming in contact with the physical?

The acidic element

However, the truth is that the force itself is actually considered matter as well, just as any physical matter in the material world, and the fact that it has no form that the human senses can perceive does not reduce the importance of the substance, which is the “force.”

For example, take a molecule of oxygen, which most substances in the world are composed of. Yet, if you have a bottle with pure oxygen you will find that it seems as though the bottle is totally empty, and you are unable to discern anything of it, as intangible air invisible to the eye.

If we remove the lid and smell it, we find no scent; if we taste it, we find no flavor; and if we put it on a scale, it will not weigh more than the empty bottle. The same applies to hydrogen, which is tasteless, odorless, and weightless too.

However, when putting these two elements together, they immediately become a liquid—drinking water that possesses both taste and weight. If we put the water inside active lime, immediately it mixes with it and becomes as solid as the lime itself.

Thus, the elements, oxygen and hydrogen, in which there is no tangibility whatsoever, become a solid. Therefore, how can we define forces of nature as not being material substance just because they are not arranged in such a way that our senses can perceive them? Moreover, we can evidently see that most of the tangible materials in our world originally consist of the element of oxygen, which the human senses cannot sense and perceive!

Moreover, even in material reality, solid and liquid, which we perceive vividly in our world, can turn to smoke or vapor at a certain temperature. Likewise, vapors may turn to solids when the temperature drops.

And if so, one wonders how does something give that which it does not possess? For we have clearly seen that all material forms are derived from elements that are in and of themselves intangible, and do not exist as material in and of themselves. Likewise, all the fixed pictures that we know and use to define materials are inconsistent and do not exist in their own right. Rather, they only clothe and unclothe in forms under the influence of conditions such as heat or cold.

However, the essence of material substance is the force in it, though we are not yet able to tell these forces apart, as with chemical elements. Perhaps in the future they will be discovered in their pure form, as we have only recently discovered the chemical elements.

Equal force in spiritual and physical

In a word: all the names that we ascribe substances are imagined, that is they come from our five senses. They do not exist in and of themselves. On the other hand, any definition we ascribe to the force which abstracts it from the material, is also imagined. Even when science reaches its pinnacle, we still must regard only material reality. This means that any physical action we sense, we must perceive its agent which is also material, like the action itself. There is a correlation between them, or they would not have come to it.

We must realize that this erroneous separating of the agent from the agency originates in formative philosophy, which insisted on proving that a spiritual action causes a physical action. This resulted in mistaken conclusions such as the above, which Kabbalah has no need for.

Body and soul of the supernal ones

The opinion of the Kabbalah on this matter is crystal clear, without any admixture of philosophy. Since in the minds of the kabbalists, even spiritual, abstract, conceptual entities, which philosophy denies having any material reality and portrays as purely conceptual substance, although they are indeed spiritual, sublime and abstract, they still consist of a body and soul, just like the physical human being.

Therefore, you need not wonder how two can win the prize and say that they are complex. Furthermore, philosophy believes that anything complex will eventually disintegrate and decompose, meaning die. Thus, how can one declare that they are both complex and eternal?

Lights and vessels

Indeed, their thoughts are not our thoughts, for the way of the sages of the Kabbalah is one of discovering actual proof of attainment, making its intellectual refutation impossible. However, let me make these matters clear for everyone’s understanding.

First, we must know that the difference between lights and vessels is understood immediately with the first emanated being from Ein Sof. Naturally, the first emanation is also the most complete and purer than everything which follows it. It is certain that it receives this pleasantness and wholeness from His essence, which wishes to grant it every pleasantness and pleasure.

It is known that the degree of the pleasure is essentially the desire to receive it. That is because what we most want to receive feels the most pleasurable. Because of this, we should discern two aspects in this first emanation: the desire to receive the essence and the received essence itself.

We should also know that the desire to receive is what we perceive as the “body” of the emanated, meaning its primary essence, being the vessel to receive His goodness. The second is the essence of the good that is received, His light, which is eternally emanated to the emanation.

It follows that we necessarily distinguish two aspects that clothe one another even in the most sublime spiritual that the heart can conceive. It is the opposite of the opinion of philosophy, which postulates that abstract entities are not complex materials. It is necessary that that desire to receive which necessarily exists in the emanated—for without it there would be no pleasure but rather coercion, and no sensation of pleasure—is absent in His essence. This is the reason for the name הַנֶאֱצָל (ha-ne’etsal), “the emanated,” since it is no longer His essence, for from whom would He receive?

However, the bounty that it receives is necessarily a part of His essence, for here there need not be any innovation. Thus, we see the great difference between the generated body and the received abundance, which is deemed His essence.

How can spiritual generate physical?

It is seemingly difficult to understand how the spiritual can generate and emanate anything material. This question is an ancient philosophical problem for which much ink has been spilt attempting to resolve.

The truth is that this question is a difficult one only if one follows their method. That is because they have defined spirituality without a connection to anything material [i.e., metaphysics]. That produces a difficult question: how can the spiritual lead to or generate anything material?

But it is the view of the sages of the Kabbalah that this is not difficult at all, for their terms are the complete opposite to those of philosophers. They maintain that any spiritual quality equalizes with the physical quality like two drops in a pond. Thus, the relationships are of the utmost affinity and there is no separation between them, except in the substance: the spiritual consists of a spiritual substance and the physical consists of a physical substance.

However, all the qualities in spiritual materials abide in physical materials too, as explained in the article Mahuta shel Ḥokhmat ha-Qabbalah (The Essence of the Wisdom of Kabbalah).

The old philosophy presents three opinions as obstacles before my explanation: The first is their deciding that the power of the human intellect is the eternal soul, man’s essence [cf. Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, 3:27]. The second is their conjecture that the body is a product of the soul. The third is their saying that spiritual entities are simple and not complex.

Materialistic Psychology

Not only is it the wrong place to argue with them about their speculations, but also the time of supporters of such views has already passed and their authority revoked. We should also thank the experts of materialistic psychology for that, which built its foundation on the ruin of the former, winning the public’s favor. Now everyone admits to the irrelevance of philosophy, for it is not built on solid foundations [materialist psychologists generally agree that consciousness (the mind) is the function of the brain. Mental processes can be identified with purely physical processes in the central nervous system, and that human beings are just complicated physiological organisms, see Ryle, The Concept of Mind. Some identify Rabbi Ashlag’s “materialistic psychology” with Freudian theory, see Garb, Yearnings of the Soul, p. 109].

This old method became a stumbling block and a deadly thorn to the sages of Kabbalah because where they should have subdued themselves before the sages of Kabbalah, and assumed restraint and skepticism, holiness, and purity before the Sages revealed to them even the tiniest thing in spirituality, they easily received what they had wanted from formative philosophy. Without payment or price, they watered them from their fountain of wisdom to satiation, and refrained from delving in the wisdom of Kabbalah until the wisdom has almost been forgotten from among Israel. Hence, we are grateful to materialistic psychology for handing it a deadly blow.

I am Solomon

The above is much like a legend that our Sages tell: Asmodeus drove King Solomon four hundred parsas from Jerusalem and left Him with no money and means of sustenance. Then he sat in King Solomon’s throne while the king was begging at door ways. Every place he went, he said: “I am Qohelet!” but none believed him. And so he went from town to town declaring, “I am Solomon!” But when he came to the Sanhedrin they said: “A fool does not utter the same foolishness all the time, saying, ‘I was once a king’” [see JT Sanhedrin 2:6; Pesiqta de-Rav Kahane (Buber), 169a; Tanḥuma (Buber), 3:55; Qohelet Rabbah 2:2]. 

It seems as though the name is not the essence of a person, but rather the owner of the name is [cf. BT Berakhot 7b; Bahir §80–§81; Zohar 1:60a; 2:179b]. Therefore, how can a wise man such as Solomon not be recognized if he is indeed the owner of the name? Moreover, it is the person that dignifies the name and he should display his wisdom!

Three preventions

There are three reasons that prevent us from knowing the owner of a name: Because of its profundity, the wisdom becomes clear only when all its details appear together. Therefore, before one knows the entire wisdom, it is impossible to see even a fraction of it. Thus, it is the publicity of its truth that we need, so as to have enough belief in it prior to making a great effort.

Just as Asmodeus, the demon, wore the clothes of King Solomon and inherited his throne, philosophy sat on the throne of Kabbalah with easier concepts to grasp, for a lie is quickly accepted. Therefore, there is a twofold difficulty here: first, the wisdom of truth is profound and arduous, while philosophy is false and easily grasped; and second, it is [considered] superfluous, because philosophy is quite satisfying.

As the demon claims that King Solomon is mad, philosophy mocks and dismisses Kabbalah. However, as long as wisdom is sublime, it is elevated above the people and separated from it. Because he was the wisest man, he was also higher than every man. Thus, the finest scholars could not understand him, except those friends, meaning the Sanhedrin, whom he taught his wisdom to every day for days and years. They are the ones who understood him and publicized his name in the entire world.

The reason for it is that minor wisdom is perceived in five minutes, and is thus attainable by anyone and can be easily publicized. However, a weighty concept will not be understood in less than several hours. It may even take days or years, depending on the intelligence. Accordingly, the greatest scholars will be understood only by a selected few in the generation, since profound concepts are founded on much prior knowledge.

It is therefore not surprising that the wisest of all men, who was exiled to a place where he was not known, could not demonstrate his wisdom or even show a hint of his wisdom before they believed that he was the owner of the name.

It is the same with the wisdom of Kabbalah in our time: the hardships and the exile that have come upon us have caused us to forget it (and if there are people who do engage in it, it is not in its favor, but rather harms it, for they did not receive it from a kabbalist sage). Hence, in this generation, it is like King Solomon in exile, declaring, “I am the wisdom, and all the flavors of religion and Torah are with me,” yet none believed it.

But this is perplexing, for if it is a genuine wisdom, can it not display itself like all other wisdoms? It cannot. As King Solomon could not display his wisdom to the scholars at the place of his exile and had to come to Jerusalem, the place of the Sanhedrin, who studied and knew King Solomon, and attested to the depth of his wisdom, so it is with the wisdom of Kabbalah: it requires great Sages who examine their hearts to study it for twenty or thirty years. Only then will they be able to attest for it.

And as King Solomon could not prevent Asmodeus from sitting on his throne, pretending to be him until he arrived in Jerusalem, sages of Kabbalah observe philosophic theology and complain that they have stolen the supernal shell of their wisdom, which Plato and his Greek predecessors had acquired while studying with the disciples of the prophets in the Land of Israel. They stole basic foundations of the wisdom of Israel and wore a mantle that is not theirs. To this day, philosophic theology sits on the throne of Kabbalah, being a slavegirl that is heir to her mistress (Proverbs 30:23).

And who would believe the sages of Kabbalah while others sit on their throne? It is as when they did not believe King Solomon in exile, for they knew him to be the demon Asmodeus sitting on his throne. As with King Solomon, it is hopeless that the truth be exposed, for the wisdom is deep and cannot be revealed by testimony or experimentation except to those believers that dedicate themselves to it with heart and soul.

Just as the Sanhedrin did not recognize King Solomon as long as the falsehood of Asmodeus was not apparent, Kabbalah cannot prove its true nature, and no revelations will suffice for the world to know it before the futility and falsehood of theological philosophy that has taken its throne becomes obvious.

Therefore, there was no such rescue for Israel as when materialistic psychology appeared and struck a lethal blow on the head of theological philosophy.

Now, every person who seeks the blessed Holy One must return Kabbalah to its throne and restore its former glory.

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You Created My Innermost Parts

timeline_computers_1986.ibmpcrt.jpgFrom behind and in front You shaped me, and You set your palm upon me… For You created my innermost parts… My frame was not hidden from You… גָּלְמִי (galmi), My unformed shape, Your eyes did see, and in Your book all was written down… As for me, how weighty are Your thoughts, O God, how numerous their sum. Should I count them, they would be more than the sand. I awake, and am still with You (Psalms 139:5; 13–18).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Ḥanina said: The day consisted of twelve hours. In the first hour, his dust was gathered; in the second, it was made into גּוֹלֶם (golem), a lifeless clump. In the third, his limbs were extended; in the fourth, a נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul, was cast into him; in the fifth, he rose and stood on his feet; in the sixth, he gave [the animals] their names; in the seventh, Eve became his mate; in the eighth, they ascended to bed as two and descended as four [i.e., Cain and his twin sister were born]; in the ninth, he was commanded not to eat of the tree, in the tenth, he transgressed; in the eleventh, he was tried, and in the twelfth he was expelled and departed, as is written, Man will not rest in splendor (Psalms 49:13)” (BT Sanhedrin 38b).

“Rabbi El’azar said in the name of Rabbi Yose son of Zimra, ‘If all the nations assembled to create a single mosquito, they could not cast a soul into it!” (Bereshit Rabbah 39:14).

“Rava said: If the righteous desired it, they could create a world, as is written, But your crimes have separated [between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear] (Isaiah 59:2). Rava created a man and sent him to Rav Zeira [cf. Zohar 1:7b; 2:179b]. He spoke to him, but he would not answer. He said to him: ‘You of the חַבְרַיָּא (ḥavrayya), Companions [or: magicians], return to your dust!’

Rav Ḥanina and Rav Oshaya would sit every Sabbath eve and engage in the סֵפֶר יְצִירָה (sefer yetsirah), Book of Formation, and make for themselves a third-grown calf and eat it [i.e., a calf that has reached one third of its full growth; or: in its third year; third born, fat]” (BT Sanhedrin 65b).

“What [magic] is entirely permitted? Like Rav Ḥanina and Rav Oshaya, who would sit every Sabbath eve and engage in the הֲלָכוֹת יְצִירָה (halakhot yetsirah), laws of formation, and make for themselves a third-grown calf and eat it” (BT Sanhedrin 67b, cf. Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, Ner Elohim, 10, 172b).

“’Rava said: If the righteous desired it, they could create a world, as is written, But your crimes have separated (Isaiah 59:2)’ (BT Sanhedrin 65b). If not for your crimes, there would not be any separation between you and Him. We thus see that Rava created a גֶּבֶר (gever), man, and sent it to Rav Zeira. He spoke to him but he did not answer. But if not for his crimes, he would have answered. And from what would he have answered? His soul. But does a human being have a soul to place in him? Yes, as is written, [YHWH Elohim fashioned the human, humus from the soil,] and He blew into his nostrils the נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (nishmat ḥayyim), breath of life (Genesis 2:7)—thus a human being has the נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (nishmat ḥayyim)soul of life [with which he might confer language], were it not for crimes, through which the soul ceases to be pure. This is the difference between you and Him, as is written, And You made him little less than Elohim (Psalms 8:6). Why a little less? Since he offends, while the blessed Holy One does not. Blessed be He and blessed be His Name forever and ever; He has no crimes” (Bahir §196).

And You made him little less than Elohim (Psalms 8:6)—this is Jacob, as is said, [And Jacob took himself moist rods of poplar and almond and plane-tree, and peeled white strips in them, laying bare the white on the rods. And he stood the rods he had peeled in the troughs, in the water channels from which the flocks came to drink—opposite the flocks… when they came to drink.] And the flocks went into heat at the rods (Genesis 30:39). Rabbi Hoshaya: He would carve a form, and just as he carved, the water became seed within them and thus they gave birth. This teaches that he lacked only [the power] to give them נֶפֶשׁוֹת (nefeshot), life-breath” (Bereshit Rabbati, Va-Yetse 129, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 24a; Zohar 1:161a–b).

“The prophet Jeremiah was engaging with the Sefer Yetsirah alone when a heavenly voice went forth and said: Take a companion [cf. M Ḥagigah 2a]. He went to his son Sira, and they studied the book together for three years. Afterward, they set about combining the alphabets in accordance with the laws of combination, grouping, and word formation, and a man was created to them, on whose forehead stood the letters, יהוה אלהים אמת (Adonai Elohim Emet), YHWH God is Truth. But this newly created man had a knife in his hand, with which he erased the letter א (alef) from the word אֶמֶת (emet), truth; there remained the word מֵת (met), dead.

Jeremiah tore his garments [in mourning over the blasphemy now implied in the inscription], and said: Why have you erased the א (alef) from אֶמֶת (emet), truth? He replied: I will tell you a parable. An architect built many houses, cities, and squares, but no one could copy his art and compete with him in knowledge and skill until two men persuaded him to teach them the secret of the art [cf. BT Sanhedrin 37a]. When they had learned how to do everything in the right way, they began to anger him with words. Finally, they broke with him and became architects on their own, except that what he charged silver for, they did for a pittance. When people noticed this, they ceased to honor the artisan and came to them and honored them and gave them commissions when they needed to have something built.

So God has made you in His image and in His shape and form. But now that you have created a man like Him, people will say: There is no God in the world beside these two! Then Jeremiah said: What solution is there? He said: Write the alphabets backward on the earth you have scattered with intense concentration. Only do not meditate in the sense of building up, as you did before, but the other way around. So they did, and the man became dust and ashes before their eyes. Jeremiah said: Truly, one should study these matters only in order to know the power and omnipotence of the Creator of this world, but not in order to practice them” (Attributed to Rabbi Yehudah ben Batira, MS Halberstam 444, 7b).

“Among the Polish Jews the golem does all kinds of housework” (Christoph Arnold, Sota hoc est Liber Mischnicus de uxore adulterii suspecta, p. 1198–99 [Altdorf, 1674]).

“[Son of Zoma said:] What labors the first man had to carry out before he obtained bread to eat! He ploughed, he sowed, he reaped, he bound [the sheaves], he threshed and winnowed and selected the ears, he ground [them], and sifted [the flour], he kneaded and baked, and then at last he ate; whereas I get up, and find all these things done for me. And how many labors the first man had to carry out before he obtained a garment to wear! He had to shear, wash [the wool], comb it, spin it and weave it, and then at last he obtained a garment to wear; whereas I get up and find all these things done for me. All kinds of people come early to the door of my house, and I rise in the morning and find all these before me” (BT Berakhot 58a).

π: A Line of Thirty Cubits Going all Around

hiram_allas_salomon_temppeli_brazen_sea_574“’Whatsoever has a circumference of three handbreadths is one handbreadth in diameter’ (Mishnah). Is it so?—Rabbi Yoḥanan replied: Scripture stated: And he made the cast metal sea ten cubits from edge to edge, circular all around, and five cubits in height and a line of thirty cubits going all around (1 Kings 7:23). But surely there was its brim?—Rav Papa replied: Of its brim, it is written in Scripture: [a mere] blossom of a lily; as is written: its thickness was a handspan, and its rim like the design of a cup’s rim, blossom and lily, two thousand bats did it hold (ibid., 26) [the bat is a relatively large unit of liquid measure, but the precise quantity is uncertain]. But there was [still] a fraction at least?—when it was reckoned it was that of the inner circumference [this is the only instance where a doubt is raised in the Talmud in connection with a mathematical statement, proving that the Rabbis were well aware of the more exact ratio between the diameter and circumference and that the ratio of 1:3 was accepted by them simply as a workable number for religious purposes, cf. BT Eruvin 76a; Sukkah 7b]” (BT Eruvin 14a).

“Rabbi Abba opened, saying, ‘He made the sea (1 Kings 7:23), and it is written: Standing upon twelve oxen: three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east, with the sea set upon them above… (ibid., 25), and it is written: the twelve oxen underneath the sea (ibid., 44). Standing upon twelve oxen—certainly so! For this sea [Shekhinah] is arrayed by twelve in two worlds: by twelve above, appointed by chariots; by twelve below, twelve tribes” (Zohar 1:241a).

The Great Chain of Being and the Desire to Receive

Ba'al ha-Sullam PortraitIntroduction to the Book of Zohar (33–42), by Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag (Ba’al ha-Sullam).

It is very perplexing that for man—whose worth is but a wisp compared to the reality before us in this world, much less compared to the supernal spiritual worlds—the Creator would go to all the trouble of creating everything for him. And even more perplexing: what does man need all these vast spiritual worlds for?

And you must know that any contentment of our Maker from giving abundantly to His creatures depends on the extent that the creatures sense Him—that He is the giver, and that He is the One who delights them. For then He takes great pleasure in them, as a father playing with his beloved son, to the extent that the son feels and recognizes the greatness and exaltedness of his father, and his father shows him all the treasures he has prepared for him, as is written: ‘Is Ephraim My precious son? Is he a child of delights? For since I spoke against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore My insides yearn for him; I will surely have compassion upon him,’ says YHWH (Jeremiah 31:19) [cf. Tanuma, Tetsaveh 1 ad loc.].

Ponder these words and you may come to know the great delights of the Name, may He be blessed, with those perfect ones that have been granted sensing Him and recognizing His greatness in all those manners He has prepared for them, until they are like a father with his precious son, the delight of his parents. And we need not continue on that, for it is enough for us to know that for this contentment and delight in those perfect ones, it was worth His while to create all the worlds, above and below alike.

To prepare His creatures to attain this exalted rung, the blessed Holy One wished to act on them in a sequence of four rungs, one הַמִתְפַּתֵחַוֹת (hamitpateḥot), evolving, from the other, called: דוֹמֵם צוֹמֵחַ חַי מִדָּבָר (domem, tsomeaḥ, ḥai, midavar), mineral, vegetable, animal, human [lit., mute, growing, living, speaking]. These are, in fact, the four phases of the רָצוֹן לְקַבֵּל (ratson le-qabel), desire to receive, by which the supernal worlds are categorized. For although the majority of the desire is in the fourth phase of the desire to receive, it is impossible for the fourth phase to appear instantly, but only by its preceding three phases, in which, and through which, it gradually מִתְפַּתֵחַת (mitpateḥat), unfurls, and appears, until it is fully completed in the form of the fourth phase [cf. Rabbi Yosef Albo, Sefer ha-Iqqarim 3:1–6].

In the first phase of the desire to receive, called דוֹמֵם (domem), mineral, the initial manifestation of the desire to receive, in this material world, there was but a general capacity for movement for the whole of the mineral category. But no motion is apparent in its particular elements. This is because the desire to receive, generates needs, and the needs generate movements sufficient to satisfy the needs. And since there is but a minimal desire to receive its effect is only apparent, since it causes general movement, but its effect over the particular elements is indistinguishable.

The צוֹמֵחַ (tsomeaḥ), vegetable, was added to it, which is the second phase of the desire to receive. Its capacity is greater than in the mineral and its desire to receive dominates each and every element because each element has its own potential for movement, expanding through its length and breadth, and moving towards the sun. The matter of eating, drinking, and secretion of waste is apparent in each element too. However, the sensation of freedom and individuality is still absent in them.

Atop this the חַי (ḥai), animal, category was added, which is the third phase of the desire to receive. Its potential is already complete to a great extent, for this desire to receive already generates in each element a sensation of freedom and individuality, which is the life that is unique to each particular element, yet, they still lack the sensation of others; they have no sense of their companion’s distress or happiness and so forth.

Above all the אָדָם (adam), human, was added, the fourth phase of the desire to receive. It is the complete and final measure, and its desire to receive includes the sensation of others as well. And if you wish to know the precise difference between the third phase of the desire to receive, which is in the animal, and the fourth phase of the desire to receive, in the human, I shall tell you that it is like the worth of a single creature compared to the whole of reality.

This is because the desire to receive in the animal, which lacks the sensation of others, can only generate needs and desires to the extent that they are embedded in that creature alone. But man, who can sense others, becomes needy of everything and is thus filled with jealousy to acquire everything that others have too. When he has a hundred, he wants two hundred, and so his needs forever multiply until he wishes to devour the whole world.

Now we have shown that the Creator’s desired goal for all of creation is to benefit His creatures, so they know His truthfulness and greatness, and receive all the delight and pleasure He has prepared for them, in the measure described in the verse: ‘Is Ephraim My precious son? Is he a child of delights?’ (Jeremiah 31:19). Thus, you clearly find that this purpose does not apply to the mineral and the great spheres, such as the earth, the moon, or the sun, however luminous they may be, and not to the vegetable or animal, for they lack the sensation of others, even from among their own species. Therefore, how can the sensation of the Divine and His bestowal apply to them?

Humanity alone, having been prepared with the sensation of others of the same species, who are similar to them, after delving in Torah and mitsvot, when they invert their desire to receive, to a רָצוֹן לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ (ratson le-hashpi’a), desire to give, and come to equivalence of form with their Maker, they receive all the rungs that have been prepared for them in the supernal worlds, called nefesh, ruaḥ, neshamah, ḥaya, yeḥida (being, spirit, soul, living, unique). By that they become qualified to receive the purpose of the Thought of Creation. After all, the purpose of creation of all the worlds was for humanity alone.

And I know that this is totally unaccepted in the eyes of some philosophers. They cannot agree that man, which they think of as low and worthless, is the center of the magnificent Creation. But they are like a worm that is born inside a radish. It lives there and thinks that the world of the Creator is as bitter, as dark, and small as the radish it was born in. But as soon as it breaks the skin of the radish and peeps out, it claims in bewilderment: “I thought the whole world was the size of the radish I was born in, but now I see a grand, beautiful, and wondrous world before me!”

So too are those who are immersed in the shell of the desire to receive they were born with and did not try to take the unique antidote [lit., spice], which is practical Torah and mitsvot, which can break this hard shell and turn it into a desire to give contentment to their Maker. It is certain that they must determine their worthlessness and emptiness, as they truly are, and cannot comprehend that this magnificent reality has been created only for them.

Indeed, had they delved in Torah and mitsvot to give contentment to their Maker, with all the required purity, and would try to break the shell of the desire to receive, they were born with and assume the desire to give, their eyes would immediately open to see and attain for themselves all the rungs of wisdom, intelligence and a clear mind, that have been prepared for them in the spiritual worlds. Then they would themselves say what our Sages said, “What does a good guest say? ‘Everything the host has done, he has done for me alone’” (BT Berakhot 58a).

Yet there still remains to clarify why man would need all the supernal worlds the Creator had created for him? What use has he of them? Bear in mind that the reality of all the worlds is generally divided into five worlds, called: Adam Qadmon (Primordial Man), Atsilut (Emanation), Beri’ah (Creation), Yetsirah (Formation), and Assiyah (Actualization). In each of them are innumerable elements, which are the five sefirot KḤBTM (Keter, Ḥokhmah, Binah, Tif’eret, and Malkhut). The world of Primordial Man is Keter; the world of Emanation is Ḥokhmah; the world of Creation is Binah; the world of Formation is Tif’eret; and the world Actualization is Malkhut.

And the lights clothed in those five worlds are called YḤNRN. The light of yeḥidah shines in the world of Primordial Man; the light of ḥaya in the world of Emanation; the light of neshamah in the world of Creation; the light of ruaḥ in the world of Formation; and the light of nefesh in the world of Actualization.

All these worlds and everything in them are included in the Holy Name, YHWH, and the apex of י (yod). We have no perception in the first world, Primordial Man. Hence, it is only implied in the apex of י (yod) of the Name. This is why we do not speak of it and always mention only the four worlds ABiYA. י (Yod)—the world of Emanation; ה (he)—the world of Creation; ו (vav)—the world of Formation; the final ה (he)—the world of Actualization.

We have now explained the five worlds that include the entire spiritual reality that extends from Infinity to this world. However, they are included in one another, and in each of the worlds there are the five worlds, the five sefirot KḤBTM, in which the five lights, nefesh, ruaḥ, neshamah, ḥaya, yeḥida, are enclothed, corresponding to the five worlds.

And besides the five sefirot, KḤBTM in each world, there are the four spiritual categories—mineral, vegetable, animal, and human. In it, man’s soul is regarded as the human, the animal is regarded as the angels in that world, the vegetable category is called לְבוּשׁים (levushim), garments, and the mineral category is called הֵיכָלוֹת (hekhalot), chambers. And they all enclothe one another: the human category, the souls of people, enclothes the five sefirot KḤBTM, which is the godliness in that world. The animal category, which are the angels, enclothes the souls; the vegetable, the garments, enclothe the angels; and the mineral, which are chambers, revolve around them all.

The enclothing means that they serve one another and evolve from one another, as we have clarified with the material mineral, vegetable, animal, and human in this world: the three categories—mineral, vegetable, and animal—did not extend for themselves, but only so the fourth category, which is the human, might develop and rise by them. Therefore, their role is only to serve man and be useful to him.

So it is in all the spiritual worlds. The three categories—mineral, vegetable, and animal—appeared there only to serve and be useful to the human category, which is man’s soul. Therefore, it is considered that they all enclothe man’s soul, meaning serve him.

“The theory of evolution accords with the secrets of Kabbalah better than any other theory. Evolution follows a path of ascent and thus provides the world with a basis for optimism. How can one despair, seeing that everything evolves and ascends? When we penetrate the inner nature of evolution, we find divinity illuminated in perfect clarity. Ein Sof generates, actualizes potential infinity” (Rabbi Avraham Kook, Orot ha-Qodesh, 2:537, translated in Matt, The Essential Kabalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 31).

Knowledge Shall Abound

IMG_0976Many shall roam about and knowledge shall abound (Daniel 12:4).

“[Rabbi Yehudah said:] In the six hundredth year of the sixth, springs of wisdom will open above, springs of wisdom below, and the whole world will prepare to enter the seventh, just like a person preparing on the sixth day, as the sun is about to set, to enter Sabbath. Your mnemonic: In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life… all the springs of the great abyss burst and the sluices of heaven were opened (Genesis 7:11).’ Rabbi Yose said to him, ‘All this is longer than the Companions have established, namely, one day of exile for Assembly of Israel, no more, as is written: He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13).’ He replied, ‘So I learned from father in the mysteries of letters of the Holy Name, the duration of the world and the days of Creation—all a single mystery” (Zohar 1:117a).

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).