The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: son

My Son, My Firstborn, My Servant Israel: Clinging to the King Clingingly Comes Through His Son

“The first commandment: the primary beginning of all the commandments is to know the blessed Holy One in general. What is meant by ‘in general’? To know that there is a supreme power who is Master of the Universe, and created all worlds—heaven and earth and all their forces. This is the meaning of ‘in general.’ The end of all—’in particular’; to know Him in particular.

General and particular are beginning and end, mystery of male and female as one. Consequently, the human being in this world comprises general and particular; the restoration of this world is general and particular. So, the beginning of all is to know that there is a ruler and judge over the world, and that He is Master of all worlds, and created the human being from dust, and blew into his nostrils the soul-breath of life. This is the meaning of ‘in general terms.’

When Israel left Egypt, they did not know the blessed Holy One [cf. Zohar 1:157b; 2:161a, 198b]. When Moses came to them, the first commandment that he taught them was as is written: and you shall know that I am YHWH your God—who takes you out… (Exodus 6:7). Were it not for this commandment, Israel would not have believed in all those miracles and mighty deeds that He performed for them in Egypt. As soon as they knew this commandment in general terms, miracles and mighty deeds were performed for them.

At the end of forty years, during which they engaged in all those commandments of Torah that Moses taught them—both those performed in the land and those performed outside the land—he then taught them in particular terms, as is written: Know today and take to your heart (Deuteronomy 4:39)—today precisely, what they were not permitted beforehand; that יְהוָה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים (Adonai hu ha-Elohim), YHWH is the God (ibid.)—in particular terms. Countless mysteries and secrets inhere in this statement! This and the one preceding are entirely a single matter—that in general, this is particular [in rabbinic literature, the two names represent the divine qualities of compassion and justice, respectively. See Sifrei, Deuteronomy 26; Bereshit Rabbah 12:15; 33:3; and 13:3, where יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (YHWH Elohim) is called ‘a complete name.’ Cf. Zohar 1:12a, 91a; 2:26b, 161a–b; 3:65a; Z 70d (ShS)].

Now, you might say, ‘But look at what is written: The awe of YHWH is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7)!’ This refers to in particular terms: to know who awe of YHWH is [Malkhut]. And even though a person must be in awe of Him before he knows, nevertheless here is written beginning of knowledge—to know Him; for this is the beginning of knowing Him in particular terms [cf. Zohar 1:11b–12a].

So, the first commandment is to know the blessed Holy One in general and in particular, beginning and end. This is the mystery of I am the fist and I am the last (Isaiah 44:6). I am the first—in general; and I am the last—in particular. All a single totality, one mystery.

Once one knows this in general, he should perfect all his limbs. What are they? The 248 commandments, which are the 248 limbs of the human being! Once perfected thus in general, he should know in particular terms—total healing—knowing all the days of the year, which unite to bestow healing to all the limbs.

Now, you might say, ‘How do all the days of the year bestow healing to all the limbs?’ Certainly it is so, above and below! The year and its days bestow healing to all the limbs above. When the limbs pour down blessings to the days of the year, healing and life loom above them on high, and they are filled with all. Who brings this about? The days of the year! Similarly below: when a person perfects his body through mitsvot of Torah, you cannot find a single day that does not come to be blessed through him; and when they are blessed through him, life and healing loom above him on high. Who brings this about? Those days of the year! Just as the days of the year are blessed from on high from the mystery of the human being, so are they blessed form below from the mystery of the human being.

Happy are Israel in this world through these mitsvot of Torah, for they are called ‘human,’ as is written: you are human (Ezekiel 34:31)! You are called human, but the other nations are not called human. And because Israel are called human they must engage in the mitsvot of Torah, so that all will be one in the mystery of the human [see BT Yevamot 60b–61a; Bava Metsi’a 114b; Karetot 6b].

When the blessed Holy One gave the Torah to Israel upon Mount Sinai, the first utterance was אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I am (Exodus 20:2). Anokhi engenders many mysteries. Here it pertains to the mystery of the first commandment—to know him in general [cf. Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 12:24]. For it is written: AnokhiI am—intimating that there is a god, a supreme power of the world—the first commandment, in general. In particular—for it is written: YHWH your God (ibid.)—particular. I am—general; YHWH your God—particular; general and particular. The first commandment: one must know beginning and end, as we have established” (Zohar 2:25a–b, Piqqudin).

“The second commandment: to serve with all kinds of service in the Temple, and outside the Temple with all the rites called ‘service’—with prayer, striving after the commandments of Torah, for all is called ‘service’—like a servant striving after his master’s needs.

For Israel are called ‘servants,’ as is written: For Mine are the Children of Israel as servants, they are My servants (Leviticus 25:55). Why are they servants? For it is written: whom I brought out of the land of Egypt (ibid.). Accordingly, in the ten utterances, after I am YHWH your God (Exodus 20:2), it is written: who brought you out of the land of Egypt (ibid.)—to serve Him like a servant serving his master, who redeemed him from death, redeeming him from all the evils of the world [cf. Rashi on Numbers 15:41; Mekhilta, Baḥodesh 5; Zohar 2:40a. On the ransom paid to death, the Other Side, see Zohar 3:178a-b, Ra’aya Meheimna Qoraḥ].

By these two [designations] are Israel called by the blessed Holy One: they are called ‘servants,’ as is written, they are My servants (Leviticus 25:55); and they are called ‘sons,’ as is written, You are sons of YHWH your God (Deuteronomy 14:1). When a person knows the blessed Holy One in general terms, he is called ‘servant,’ for he carries out his Master’s command—but he is not permitted to search among His treasures or the mysteries of His house. When a person knows the blessed Holy One in particular terms he is called ‘son,’ His beloved—like a son who searches among His treasures, among all the mysteries of His house.

Even though he is called ‘son,’ firstborn of the blessed Holy One, as is said, My son, My firstborn, is Israel (Exodus 4:22), he must not remove himself from the category of ‘servant’—serving his Father with all the rites that are the honor due his Father [תִפאֶרֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל (tif’eret yisra’el), Beauty of Israel, the heavenly Israel, son of Ḥokhmah and Binah. See Zohar 1:95b, 124b, 219a, 223b, 233b; 2:79a, 85b, 197a; 3:74a]. So is required by every person: to be a son to his Father, searching among His treasures, to know the mysteries of His house, striving after them; and to be a servant to his Father.

Mystery of the matter: there are two rungs above with which a person must be adorned; they are a mystery of faith, and they are one: One—mystery of servant; the other—mystery of son. This servant is called lord of all the earth (Joshua 3:11); the son, as we have established, My son, My firstborn, is Israel; all is a single mystery of faith. A person must be adorned with these rungs, to be enveloped in the mystery of faith.

As servant—to serve with all kinds of service, with prayer called ‘service,’ like this Servant—supernal mystery—never ever resting, but praising and singing always. This applies to other acts of service, for She performs and administers all the services and affairs of the worlds; and for this reason She is called lord—for She is a servant to serve, called lord of all the earth. A person who is adorned with this mystery—becoming a servant to serve the service of his Lord—ascends and is crowned, attaining this rung, and is also called ‘lord of all the earth’; for he effectuates blessings to this world through all those acts of service, sustaining it, and he is called ‘lord of all the earth’ accordingly.

Happy is the share of the son, striving to fathom his Father’s treasures and all the mysteries of His house; like an only child granted dominion by his father over all his treasures—honored, for he is in command of all! One who delves into wisdom to fathom the blessed Holy One and His treasures is called a son of the blessed Holy One. Among all the heavenly forces none hinders him whenever he needs to enter to his Father. Happy is his share in all worlds! Accordingly, when he strives to fathom Him in particular terms—in the mystery of wisdom—he is called ‘son.’

In the service rendered by a person to the blessed Holy One, there is an act of service in which a person must incorporate both—being servant and son, to be adorned by the blessed Holy One. What is that? The service of prayer, in which a person must be servant and son, to be embraced by these supernal rungs: serving a and arraying prayer in the mystery of the servant, performing the service of the restoration of worlds; and attaching his will to mysteries of wisdom, cleaving to his Lord through supernal mysteries in the mystery of the son; and all in a single totality. Happy is the share of the person who knows to adorn himself with supernal mysteries, as is fitting!

A son cleaves to his Father always, without any separation at all; none hinders him. A servant performs the service of his Master, arranging arrangements of the world. He who possesses both in one totality, in a single nexus, is the person who arrays the mystery of all faith in one entirety—without any separation at all, uniting all as one. This is the person about whom the blessed Holy One proclaims among all the legions and camps of all worlds, throughout all firmaments, ‘Show care for so-and-so, trustee of the palace! The mystery of the palace and the treasures of his Lord are in his hand!’ Happy is he in this world, and happy is he in the world that is coming!

From that day on, that person is recognized and recorded in all worlds. Whenever he requires, all supernal legions and camps are mindful to be with him; and the blessed Holy One desires none but him alone. A voice arouses, ‘It is fitting for the Unique to be with the unique; Unique engaging with unique! [cf. BT Pesaḥim 118a; Midrash Tehillim 117:3].

We have found the mystery of these two rungs in one verse, as is written: he said to me, ‘You are My servant, Israel, in whom I glory‘ (Isaiah 49:3). He said to me, ‘You are My servant—servant; Israel—son; for when they are a single totality, then is written in whom I glory” (Zohar 3:111b–112a, Piqqudin).

“As one says: Clinging to the King clingingly comes through His Son” (Zohar 2:147a).


He is Unclean, He shall Dwell Apart: Yet it was Our Sickness He was Bearing

“Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi met Elijah at the opening of the cave of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai [cf. 1 Kings 19:8–9]. He asked him: ‘Do I have a portion in the world to come?’ He said, ‘If this lord desires.’ Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi said, ‘I saw two, but heard the voice of a third [the Shekhinah (Rashi)].’ He then asked him, ‘When will the Messiah come?’—‘Go and ask him himself,’ was his reply. ‘Where is he sitting?’—‘At the portal of the city [of Rome (Gra)].’ And by what sign may I recognize him?’—‘He is sitting among the ill, poor, and suffering: everyone of them untie all at once and rebandage them together, whereas he unties and rebandages each separately [before treating the next], thinking, should I be wanted, I must not be delayed [by having to bandage a number of sores].’ So he went to him and greeted him, saying, ‘Peace be upon you, Rabbi and Teacher.’ ‘Peace be upon you son of Levi,’ he replied. ‘When will you come Master?’ he asked, ‘Today,’ was his answer. On his returning to Elijah, he asked, ‘What did he say to you?’—‘Peace be upon you son of Levi,’ he answered. Thereupon he [Elijah] observed, ‘He thereby assured you and your father of [a portion in] the world to come.’ ‘He spoke a lie to me, saying that he would come today, but has not.’ He [Elijah] answered him, ‘This is what he said to you, Today, if you would only heed His voice!’ (Psalms 95:7)” (BT Sanhedrin 98a).

“The Rabbis said: [The Messiah,] his name is חִיוְורָא (Ḥivvra), White, of the House of Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi], as is written, Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our pains that he endured—though we considered him plagued, stricken by God and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4) [i.e., the Messiah is as הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one afflicted with skin blanch—he is called unclean and dwells outside the camp (Rashi)]” (BT Sanhedrin 98b).

And the person afflicted with skin blanch, in whom the affliction is, his clothes shall be torn and his hair disheveled, and his moustache he shall cover, and he shall call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” All the days that the affliction is on him he shall remain unclean. He is unclean. He shall dwell apart. Outside the camp shall his dwelling be (Leviticus 13:45–46).

Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our pains that he endured—though we considered him plagued, stricken by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquities, he bore the chastisement that made us whole, and by his wound we were healed (Isaiah 53:4–5).

This shall be the teaching concerning הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one afflicted with skin blanch—הַמוֹצִיא רָע (ha-motsi ra), the one who utters evil. Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘If anyone produces evil speech, all his limbs are defiled and he deserves to be confined, for that evil word rises and arouses an impure spirit upon him, defiling him” (Zohar 3:53a).

“And he who [continually] declares [others] unclean is [himself] unclean and never speaks in praise [of people]. And Shemu’el said: With his own blemish he stigmatizes [others] as unclean” (BT Qiddushin 70a).

“When [the souls in the Garden of Eden below roam on every new moon and Sabbath] they tell the Messiah about the suffering of Israel in exile and about the wicked among them who do not seek to know their Lord, he weeps aloud over the wicked, as is written: But he was wounded for our sins, crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). Those souls return and stand in their places.

In the Garden of Eden there is one chamber called the Chamber of the Ill. The Messiah then enters that chamber and calls for all the illnesses, all the pains, and all the sufferings of Israel to come upon him, and they all do so. And if he did not ease them off of Israel, taking them upon himself, no one could endure the sufferings of Israel from the punishments of Torah, as is written: Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing (Isaiah 53:4). Similarly, Rabbi El’azar on earth [see BT Bava Metsi’a 83b–84b].

For innumerable are the sufferings looming over a person every day, all of which descended into the world at the time when Torah was given. When the people of Israel were in the Holy Land, they eliminated all those illnesses and sufferings from the world through rituals and sacrifices. Now, the Messiah removes them from inhabitants of the world, until a person departs from this world and receives punishment, as has been said. Except for the extremely wicked, who are sent deep within Hell, into those other compartments, where they are punished severely for the extreme filth of the soul; then intense fire is kindled to consume that filth. Woe to the soul who suffers that punishment! Furthermore, angels of destruction harass them with rods of fire to shake out that filth. Woe to the soul who suffers that punishment! Happy are those who keep the commandments of Torah!” (Zohar 2:212a, cf. Zohar Ḥadash 56c).

For this command which I charge you today is not too wondrous for you nor is it distant. It is not in the heavens, to say, “Who will go up for us to the heavens and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?” And it is not beyond the sea, to say, “Who will cross over for us beyond the sea and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?” But the word is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it (Deuteronomy 30:11–14).

You are good and do good. Teach me Your statutes. The arrogant plaster me with lies—I with whole heart keep Your decrees. Their heart grows dull like fat—as for me, in Your teaching I delight. It was good for me that I was afflicted, so that I might learn Your statutes. Better for me Your mouth’s teaching than thousands of pieces of silver and gold (Psalms 119:68–72).

“Rabbi Abba said, ‘Yose, my son, I will tell you what happened to me with the Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai]. One day we were walking in the valley of Ono, delving into Torah that whole day. Due to the intensity of the sun, we sat ourselves down in the cleft of a certain rock [this recalls the cleft of the rock where God revealed His back to Moses (Exodus 33:22–23). Similarly, here, a profound mystery is revealed: the suffering of the righteous]. I said to him, ‘How is it that whenever the wicked proliferate in the world, the righteous among them are smitten on their account? For we have learned as follows: ‘For a generation’s חוֹבָא (ḥova), sin [lit., liability, debt], the righteous are seized.’ Why? If because they do not reprimand the world for their deeds, well, there are many who do reprimand but are not heeded, and the righteous are overwhelmed by them. And if it is so that there will be no one to protect the world, then let them not die and not be seized for the sins [of the world], since the righteous find joy in the destruction [of the wicked].’

He replied, ‘For a generation’s sin, the righteous are surely seized, and we have established these matters. But when the righteous are seized with illness or afflictions, it is in order to atone for the world; then all sins of the generation are purged. How do we know this? From all members of the body. When all the members are in distress—grave illness prevailing over them—one member must suffer so that all of them may be healed. Which one is it? The arm. The arm is struck and blood is drawn from it, and then all members of the body are healed.

Similarly, inhabitants of the world are bodily members, interlinked. When the blessed Holy One wishes to grant healing to the world, He strikes one righteous person [Israel] among them, and through him provides healing to all. How do we know this? As is written: But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquities, and by his wound we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). And by his wound—bloodletting, like someone letting blood from his arm. By that wound we are healed—healing comes to us, to all members of the body.

Never is a righteous person smitten except to provide healing to the generation and to atone for them. This is the mystery of ‘a righteous one who suffers,’ for the Other Side prefers most of all that Judgment should overwhelm a righteous one—for then he does not care about the whole world and ignores them because of the joy of dominating him [cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 1a–b]. Yet that righteous person attains supreme dominion in this world and in the world that is coming. As for ‘a righteous one who prospers,’ this is because the blessed Holy One does not care to atone for the world’” (Zohar 3:217b–18b).

Like a Hired Worker He Waits for His Pay

ImageLike a slave he pants for shade, like a hired worker he waits for his pay (Job 7:2).

“Antignos of Socho received the tradition from Shim’on the Righteous. He would say: Do not be as servants, who serve their master for the sake of reward. Rather, be as servants who serve their master not for the sake of reward. And the fear of Heaven should be upon you” (M Avot 1:3).

“Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] would say: Be as careful with a minor mitsvah as with a major one, for you do not know the rewards of the mitsvot. Consider the cost of a mitsvah against its rewards, and the rewards of a transgression against its cost” (M Avot 2:1).

“Son of Heh-Heh said: According to the effort is the reward” (M Avot 5:26).

“Many masters of study, colleagues of yours, nightly cry out contradictions in the Oral Torah, crying like dogs who say ‘hav! hav!’, as is written: The leech has two daughters, הַב הַב (hav hav), ‘give’ and ‘give’ (Proverbs 30:15). Give us wealth in this world, give us wealth in the next world, as it is taught: ‘Learn much Torah and you will be given much reward’ (M Avot 2:16). But there is no one who is occupied with Torah in order to raise the Shekhinah, from the exile and unite Her with the Husband, for their eyes are blind, and their hearts are sealed” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 97c).

Let Us Make a Human in Our Image by Our Likeness

imageI 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 אֱלֹהִים (Elohimsaid, ‘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 [i.e., the אָדָם קַדְמוֹן (adam qadmon), Primordial Human], who was made with a complete name [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 אֱלֹהִים (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 עַתִּיק יוֹמִין (attiq yomin), 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.

This is like a king who had many buildings to build and he had an אוּמָן (uman), 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. Guide of the Perplexed 2:4]. The king is most certainly supernal חָכְמָה (ḥokhmah), Wisdom, above and the middle pillar [תִפאֶרֶת (tif’eret), Beauty; זְעֵיר אַנפִּין (ze’eir anpin), Small Countenance] is the king below. אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), the artisan above, is supernal Mother [בִּינָה (binah), Understanding]. אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), the artisan below, is the שְׁכִינָה (shekhinah), Divine Presence [מַלְכוּת (malkhut), Kingdom].

A wife is not permitted to do anything without the permission of her husband. Of all the structures that were in the way of אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation, Father would say to Mother, ‘Let there be’ such and such and it was done immediately. It is written: And said, ‘אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), Let there be light’ and there was light (Genesis 1:3). And said—spoken to אֱלֹהִים (Elohim)—‘Let there be light.’ So Father, uttered the words and the artisan, Mother, completed the task immediately. And this was the same with every structure in the way of אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation—Father, would say, ‘Let there be a firmament’ or ‘Let there be lights’ and Mother, would complete everything in an instant.

When the עָלְמָא דִפְרוּדָא (alma di-feruda), 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 is 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 אֱלֹהִים (Elohimcreated the human in His image (Genesis 1:27)—She did not want Father, to have any share [although often depicted as the Divine Mother, Binah is also described as ‘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 squandering? For your crimes, your mother was sent away (Isaiah 50:1). The king said to the mother, ‘Did I not tell you that he was destined to sin?’ In that instant, he exiled him and his mother. 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 [זְעֵיר אַנפִּין (ze’eir anpin), Small Countenance]. 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 in the way of אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation, but from the side of Mother in [the way of] בְּרִיָּה (beriah), Creation?! He said to them, ‘Companions, Companions, it is not so, because man of אֲצִילוּת (Atsilut), Emanation, is male and female, from the aspect of Father and from Mother. This is why אֱלֹהִים (Elohimsaid, ‘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 בְּרִיָּה (beri’ah), Creation] there is neither image nor likeness [of Father or Mother]. The supernal Mother has but one appellation: Light and… Darkness (Isaiah 45:7), which amounts to eighty-six: אֱלֹהִים (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 בְּרִיָּה (beri’ah), Creation [אָדָם רִאשׁוֹן (adam rishon), First Man], was destined to offend because he is light of the supernal garment.

Light—light that the blessed Holy One created on the first day, hiding it away for the righteous alone [see BT Ḥagigah 12a]. Darkness—created on the first day for the wicked: And the wicked in darkness turn dumb (1 Samuel 2:9). On account of that darkness, which would cause that light to sin, 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 image—in that light. By our likeness—in that darkness 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 will not 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 direction comes down from his companion. But He that 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 אֱלֹהִים (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 that is called the Cause of Causes is not He that is called the Cause above all Causes, for the Cause above all Causes has no second from whom He can take direction. He is יָחִיד (yaḥid), Singular, prior to all, and He has no partner [see 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 He should take counsel [cf. BT Sanhedrin 38b; Bereshit Rabbah 8:8]; for He has no second, no partner, and no reckoning. [However,] there is a 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 be carried out.

At times, all three agree to execute judgement. Then an outstretched hand appears to accept those who repent: יהוה (YHWH). That יַד (yad), hand, is equivalent to י״ד (fourteen) letters: four in the simple form of יהוה (YHWH) and ten in the fully spelled Name: יוד הא ואו הא (Yod He Vav He). The four letters allude to the sefirah כֶּתֶר (keter), Crown; the other ten to the sefirah חָכְמָה (ḥokhmah), Wisdom. This is the Shekhinah, which is the right hand from the side of חֶסֶד (ḥesed), Kindness, and the left hand from the the side of גְבוּרָה (gevurah), Strength. [It is also] called the Hand of יהוה (YHWH) from the aspect of the middle pillar. When one repents, these fourteen letters save him from judgement. But when the Cause above all Causes passes judgment [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—[this verse has three] א (alef) [in its beginning and three] י (yod) [in 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 ווין (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 this all 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 kill 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) which is numerically equivalent to י״ד (fourteen). יוד הא ואו הא (Yod He Vav He); and כוזו במוכסז כוזו (KWZWBMWKSZKWZW) [permutations of the Name]. All these explanations are true. But what we said before is that It is the Cause of Causes—the Cause above all others. This mystery was not even revealed to all the sages and prophets [but only the select few among them, such as Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai].

Come and see: How many causes, and rungs, are concealed and unknown. They are clothed and enveloped by the sefirot, which are chariots for them. These causes are hidden from the thoughts of man, as is written: For he who is high has a higher one watching him, and still higher ones over them (Ecclesiastes 5:7)—each higher light is brighter than its neighbor. So the recipients are dimmer than those above because they are the recipients, and that which is lower than its neighbor is dimmer than its neighbor. No light can bear the presence of the Cause of Causes, because all lights are darkened and diminished before It.

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 sin. Why would they want to make him?

Not only that, but Aza and Azael also opposed. When the 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, the 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 הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim)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. And the Shekhinah caused them to fall from their holy state.

The Companions said, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi, Aza and Azael did not lie! For man was certainly destined to offend with the female.’ He replied: This is what the 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 בְּרִיָּה (beri’ah), Creation. 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: Why all this? Better He had not created darkness. Then man would have no reward and no punishment, as opposed to being created and having to offend thereby causing much [cf. Zohar 3:159a].

He said to them: It was right to create him in this way because Torah was created for his sake, for it contains punishments for the wicked and rewards for the righteous. Thus, there can be no reward for the righteous or punishment for the wicked without the man of בְּרִיָּה (beri’ah), Creation. He 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 unnecessary’ [cf. M Avot 4:3].

Furthermore, Torah of בְּרִיָּה (beri’ah), Creation, is the garment of Shekhinah. If man had not been created, She would have remained without clothing, like a pauper. Therefore, whoever transgresses acts as if he is stripping the Shekhinah of Her garments [cf. Leviticus 18:7]. This is the punishment for man.

Whoever performs the decrees of Torah clothes the 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 the Shekhinah is stripped of Her garments.

Come and see: Darkness is the mystery of black [ink] of Torah. Light is the white [negative space] of Torah” (Zohar 1:22a, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar, cf. Bahir §198).

He Killed Him with His Own Spear and No Man has Known His Burial Place to this Day

malavodaAnd Moses, YHWH’s servant, died there in the land of Moab by the word of YHWH. And he was buried in the glen in the land of Moab opposite Beth-Peor, and no man has known his burial place to this day. And Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes had not grown bleary and his sap had not fled. And the Israelites keened for Moses in the steppes of Moab thirty days, and the days of keening in mourning for Moses came to an end (Deuteronomy 34:5-8).

“He opened, saying, ‘Benayahu son of Yehoyada (2 Samuel 23:20)… He went down and smote the lion (2 Samuel, ibid.)… When sins prevailed, He descended to the rungs below, and He killed that lion, no longer willing to provide its prey… On a snowy day—a day when sins prevailed, and judgment was decreed above by the celestial court… Until here, mystery of the verse. What is written next? He slew an Egyptian, a man of good appearance (2 Samuel, ibid., 21)… He slew an Egyptian man… Who is it? Moses, as is written: They said, ‘An Egyptian man rescued us’ (Exodus 2:19)… The Egyptian had a spear in his hand (2 Samuel, ibid.)… as is said: with the staff of God in my hand (Exodus 17:9)… With this he sinned at the rock, as is said: He struck the rock with his staff twice (Numbers 20:11). The blessed Holy One said to him, ‘Moses, I did not give you My staff for this. By your life [on the righteous being judged most strictly, see BT Ta’anit 8a]! From now on, it will no longer be in your hand.’ Immediately He went down to him with a club (2 Samuel, ibid.)—with severe judgment. And wrenched the spear from out of the Egyptian’s hand, for from that moment it was withheld from him and was never again in his hand. And killed him with his own spear. Because of the sin of striking with that staff, he died and did not enter the Holy Land, and this light was withheld from Israel” (Zohar 1:6b).

Mother Comes and Grasps His Right Arm, So the Lash Remains Suspended

2677418229_2026512077_o“We should first introduce something said by the ancients in regard to those nighttime visions. For we have learned: ‘One who cohabits with his mother in a dream will attain בִּינָה (binah), understanding’ (BT Berakhot 57a), as is written: For you will call בִּינָה (binah), understanding, ‘Mother’ (Proverbs 2:3).’ Here one should examine. If this is because She is mother, fine; then it should have been written as follows: ‘One who sees his mother in a dream will attain understanding.’ But why ‘one who cohabits with’ her? Well, a supernal mystery! For he was transformed from below to above, ascending. At first, he was a son; once he rises above, the tree is overturned and he becomes part of the upper world, ruling over Her, attaining Binah” (Zohar 2:101a Sava de-Mishpatim).

“Rabbi Yose said, There has never been a father as compassionate to His children as the blessed Holy One. This is indicated by a verse: Not a single word has failed of all His good words… (1 Kings 8:56). Come and see His compassion! If it be said Not a single word has failed of all His words, and nothing more, it would have been better for the world not to have ever been created. But since it says of all His good words, it leaves the bad behind, for He does not want to enact a bad word. And even though He threatens and raises the lash, Mother comes and grasps His right arm, so the lash remains suspended, does not descend, and is not implemented, because both of them share one plan: He by threatening, and She by holding back His right arm’” (Zohar 2:190b).

And God saw the children of Israel, and God knew (Exodus 2:25). What is and God knew? A parable: A king had a lovely wife, and had several children from her, and he loved them and raised them, but they went out to bad ways [lit., תַרְבּוּת רָעָה (tarbut ra’ah), wicked culture, i.e., foreign culture, cf. Zohar 3:281b-82a (RM)]. He hated them and their mother, and she turned to them and said: ‘My children, why do you do so that your father hates me and you?’ Until they repented and they returned to perform the will of their father. Their father saw this and loved them as before and remembered their mother. This is the meaning of And God saw… and God knew. This is also the meaning of In the midst of years make it known (Habakkuk 3:2)” (Bahir §76).

“A king had a lovely daughter, and others were lusting for her. The king knew about it, but could not fight with those who exposed his daughter to bad ways. He came to his house and warned her, saying, ‘My daughter, give no regard to the words of these enemies and they will not be able to overcome you. Do not leave the house, but do all your work at home. Do not sit idle, even for a single moment. Then they will not be able to see you and harm you.’ There is a single quality in them which departs from a good way and chooses every bad way. When they see man directing himself along a good way, they hate him. Who is he? הַשָׂטָן (Ha-satan), the adversary. Teaching that the blessed Holy One has a quality whose name is רָעָה (ra’ah), Evil [feminine noun]. It is to the north of the blessed Holy One, as is written: Out of the north הָרָעָה (ha-ra’ah), the evil, shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land (Jeremiah 1:14)—any evil that comes to all inhabitants of earth comes from the north” (Bahir §162, cf. §12).

“Come and see: As long as the people are distant from the King’s palace, Matronita, as it were, is distanced with them. Why? Because Matronita did not immediately apply a pint [of discipline] to this son, striking him so that he would follow the straight path. For the King never strikes a person, but rather leaves everything in the hand of the Matronita: to manage the palace and punish the son, guiding him on the straight way toward the King” (Zohar 3:74a).

O fairest of women (Song of Songs 1:8)—fine in kindness, for She bestows kindness upon Her children [Israel] secretly, covertly, and the blessed Holy One is very pleased by all that She does for Her children, even though they don’t deserve it. From here we learn that a father should love and appreciate everything that a mother does for her children secretly, covertly, even though their conduct is improper” (Zohar 3:197b).


The Inheritance is Reversed

image“Holy of Holies is above, mystery of supernal Wisdom and Jubilee. Correspondingly, Bride and Groom inherit the heritage of Father and Mother, though the inheritance is reversed, in a different manner. Inheritance of Father is possessed by the Daughter in ascension of this name, and She is called similarly Holy, Wisdom [cf. Proverbs 1:20; 7:4; 9:1]. Inheritance of Mother is possessed by the Son, and He is called Holies, since He obtains all those supernal Holies and gathers them in, afterward giving and conveying them to the Bride” (Zohar 2:145b).

“’The face of Moses is as that of the sun’ (BT Bava Batra 75a). A [solar] year contains 365 days. This is the same number, as that of the negative decrees, and this is a witness to the left, and is supernal Mother. The moon, is on the right side, for the Daughter is to Father, which is Ḥesed, on the right side. And She is composed of the 248 positive decrees. It follows that ו (vav) [i.e., Tif’eret; Son] is with Mother on the left side, and the Daughter is with Father on the right side. And the mystery of the matter is in: Wisdom founded earth (Proverbs 3:19). Wisdom—Father. Earth—Daughter. Set heavens firm through discernment (ibid.)—Son with Mother, which is תְבוּנָה (tevunah), Discernment. And this results in [the permutation of] יהוה (YHWH)” (Zohar 3:247b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

In the diadem with which his mother crowned him (Song of Songs 3:10).

And Joseph took the two of them, Ephraim with his right hand to Israel’s left and Manasseh with his left hand to Israel’s right, and brought them near him. And Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, yet he was younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head—he crossed his hands—though Manasseh was the firstborn… And Joseph saw that his father had placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, and it was wrong in his eyes, and he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And his father refused and he said, ‘I know, my son. I know (Genesis 48:13–17).