The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: wheel

Like a Mustard Seed in a Ring

Emeq ha-Melekh“[Rabbi Berakhiyah’s] disciples said to him: From above to below we know. But from below to above we do not know. He replied: Is it not all one—below to above and above to below? They said: Rabbi, ascending is not like descending. One can run while descending, but it is not so while ascending. He replied: Go out and see.

He sat and expounded for them: ‘Shekhinah is below just as Shekhinah is above’ (Seder Rabba de-Vereshit). And what is Shekhinah? Say that this is the light emanated from the primordial light, Ḥokhmah. It also turns everything, as is written: The whole earth is filled with His glory (Isaiah 6:3). What is its function here? A parable: A king had seven sons, and he assigned each one his place. He said to them, ‘Sit, this one on the back of that one.’ The lowest one said, ‘I will not dwell below! I will not be so far from you!’ He said to them, ‘I will hereby turn and see you all day long [cf. BT Ta’anit 31a].’ This is The whole earth is filled with His glory. Why is He in their midst? To stand them up and make them endure” (Bahir §171).

“It has been taught: There are ten גַלגַלִים (galgalim), spheres, and ten מַאֲמָרוֹת (ma’amarot), commands. Each sphere has its command. Not that it is surrounded by it, but rather it turns it.

This world is like a mustard seed in a ringWhy? Because of the breath that blows upon it, [turning] and sustaining it. If this breath were to be interrupted, the world would wither in an instant [cf. BT Bava Batra 25a–b]” (Bahir §179).

“All the lights expanding, large and small, appear as the hub of a wheel [lit., כְּעֵין גַלגַל (ke-ein galgal), as the eye of a wheel]. All the spheres and worlds and their armies appear in the center like a mustard seed. And they all go to and fro, whirling, never still….

From the abundant efflux of the great and awesome firmament spread the mighty seraphim, capable masters standing watch, conducting all the worlds—conducting mysterious things arranged by the blessed Holy One when He created the 18,000 worlds [see BT Avodah Zarah 3b; Zohar 1:23b–24a (TZ); Rabbenu Baḥya ben Asher on Numbers 10:35].

Within this firmament the spheres and their armies are fixed. Because of its overwhelming strength the spheres appear as a mustard seed. And from this exquisite firmament emanates one fine and lovely spark comprising every kind of תִפאֶרֶת (tif’eret), beauty. It is the light that stands above, reward of the world, covering it” (Berit Menuḥa, Second Way: The Way of Love, First Vowel, Sixth Vowel).

“קָו הַמִדָּה (Qav ha-Middah): Length and Breadth. Qav ha-Middah: Depth and Height. Qav ha-Middah: Circle and Square.

Established to be known through thirteen gates—twenty-six on the two sides. When they are engraved in their engravings, they are all one within this measure. Qav ha-Middah ascends and descends, engraved in its engravings on all sides.

Light Not Existing in Light, engraves, and the Spark of All Sparks bursts forth, striking within the Will of Wills, secreted within it, unknown.

When this Will desires to ramify, this Spark—concealed within Will, befitting and not befitting to exist as color—shoots out. When this Will ramifies, this Spark—splaying color and no color—strikes, entering into that extension, splaying forth in its colors. It ascends, becoming actualized through its ascent within Will and its emanation.

Will strikes its extension in concealment, unknown—emitting gossamer lights, coalescing as one. When they seek to emerge, that Spark, imbued with colors, strikes the extension and it becomes constricted. On account of the pressure, those diaphanous lights emerge, audible as one. Then the Spark displays colors within them, all dyed at once: white, red, green, and black. The Spark lingered there for twelve months, and then they were uprooted, and planted in another place.

This Spark ascends and descends, and is called בּוּצִינָא דְּקַרְדִינוּתָא (botsina de-qardinuta), Lamp of Adamantine Darkness. Enhancing and striking all the luminous shoots, it decrees, ‘Grow!’ [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 10:6]. Then springs gush forth from that supernal, primordial extension, irrigating and illuminating them all, and they flourish.

With the בּוּצִיצָא דְּקַרְדִינוּתָא (botsitsa de-qardinuta), Spark of Adamantine Darkness, the One who Shines, shines—ascending and descending, spreading out in all directions. Then it is called קָו מִדָּה (qav middah), Line of Measure, its measurement enduring above and below.

Line of Measure—Spark of Adamantine Darkness, Concealed of all Concealed, lustrous measure, configuring beauty for all. The beauty itself, emerging from the first extension, configures them. They stand within it, poised for calibration above and below.

One who attains this mystery and knows it, merits to know the wisdom of his Master. Happy is his portion in this world and in the world that is coming!” (Zohar Ḥadash 57a).


A Mighty Tree: its Top Reaches the Heavens and its Branches to the End of all the Earth


SCATAGLINI (1)There is a tree in the earth and its height is great. The tree grew and became mighty, and its top reaches the heavens and its branches to the end of all the earth. Its foliage is lovely and its fruit great, and there is food for all in it. Beneath it the beasts of the field are shaded, and in its branches the birds of the heavens dwell, and all flesh is nourished from it (Daniel 4:7–9).

“I am the one who planted this tree for all the world to delight in. With it I spanned the All, calling it All, for all depends on it, all emanates from it, all need it, all gaze upon it and await it. From here souls fly forth in joy. Alone I was when I made it. When I spread out My earth, in which I planted and rooted this tree—giving them joy in one another, rejoicing along with them—who was with Me (Isaiah 44:24)? To whom could I reveal this secret of Mine?” (Bahir §22).

“They asked [Rabbi Berakhiyah], ‘What is the letter צ (tsadi)?’ He said: ‘This is נ (nun) and י (yod)—צ (tsadi). Its partner [ץ (final tsadi)] is also נ (nun) and י (yod) [alluding to יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17)]. Therefore it is written, צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq), the Righteous One, is a יְסוֹד עוֹלָם (yesod olam), lasting foundation (Proverbs 10:25)” (Bahir §61, cf. ibid. §86).

One pillar extends from earth to the firmament. Its name is צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq)Righteous One, named for the righteous. When there are righteous people in the world, the pillar is strengthened; if not, it is weakened. It upholds the entire world, as is written, The righteous one is the יְסוֹד עוֹלָם (yesod olam), foundation of the world (Proverbs 10:25). If it weakens, the world cannot endure. So if the world contains just one righteous person, that person sustains the world [cf. BT Yoma 38b]” (Bahir §102).

“The blessed Holy One has a single tree containing twelve גְבוּלֵי אֲלַכְסוֹן (gevulei alakhson), diagonal borders: The northeast border, the southeast border; the upper east border, the lower east border; the southwest border, the northwest border; the upper west border, the lower west border; the upper south border, the lower south border; the upper north border, the lower north border. ‘Deepening and expanding until evermore—זְרֹעֹת עוֹלָם (zero’ot olam), arms everlasting [alt., arms of the world] (Deuteronomy 33:27)’ (Sefer Yetsirah §47). On the inside of them is the Tree. Corresponding to these diagonals are twelve officials. Inside the Wheel there are also twelve officials. Including the diagonals themselves reckons thirty-six officials. Each of these has another, as is written for he who is high has a higher one watching him (Ecclesiastes 5:7) [reckoning seventy-two]. It therefore comes out that the east has nine, the west has nine, the north has nine, and the south has nine. These are twelve, twelve, twelve, and they are the officials in the תָּלִי (Tali) in every other one. Even though there are twelve in each of the three, they are all attached to each other. Therefore, all thirty-six powers are in the first one, which is the Tali. And if you seek them in the Wheel, you will find the very same ones. And if you seek them in the Heart, you will again find the very same ones. Each one therefore has thirty-six; All of them are no more than thirty-six צוּרוֹת (tsurot), forms, and all of them are perfected in thirty-two [forms]; thirty-two given to thirty-two, and there remained [out of thirty-six] four; and they are sixty-four forms. How do we know that thirty-two are delivered to thirty-two? As is written, for he who is high has a higher one watching him—thus, there are sixty-four. But eight is [yet] lacking from the seventy-two names, and this is [alluded] in and still higher ones over them (ibid.)—these are the seven days of the week [i.e., the seven lower sefirot]. But one is lacking, and that is [alluded] in And the gain of the land is in everything—a king, is subject to the field (ibid. 5:8) [מֶלֶךְ (melekh), a king—מַלְכוּת (malkhut), Kingdom]. What is this gain? The place from which the earth was hewn. It is a gain over what existed previously. And what is this gain? When that which people see in the world is taken from its radiance—then it is a gain” (Bahir §95).

“Rabbi Berakhiyah sat and expounded: What is the תָּלִי (Tali)? This is the likeness that is before the blessed Holy One, as is written, His locks are תַּלְתַּלִּים (taltallim), curled (Song of Songs 5:11) [the תָּלִי (Tali) is like a serpentine spine which twists the heavens, i.e., Draco, Axis Mundi, see Baraita de-Shemu’el, 1: ‘The elusive Serpent (Job 26:13) is the Tali’; Sefer Yetsirah §59a: ‘The Tali in the world is like a king on his throne.’ On the resemblance of the spine to a serpent, see BT Bava Qamma 16a]. What is the גַלגַל (galgal), Wheel? It is the בֶּטֶן (beten), Belly [‘Mother of the World,’ Binah, see Bahir §104. On the Wheel, cf. BT Shabbat 151a]. What is the לֵב (lev), Heart? Heart of the heavens (Deuteronomy 4:11). In it are the ל״ב (thirty-two) paths of Wisdom” (Bahir §106).

“These are the explicit, precious, and magnificent names [cf. BT Qiddushin 72b]. There are twelve names, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel:

אהציצהרון אכליתהרון שמקתרון דמושהרון וצפצפסיתרון הורמירון ברחיהרון ערש גדראון בסאוה מנאהון חזהויה הוהירי האה אהיה והראיתהון

All of them are encompassed by the Heart of the heavens. They comprise male and female, and the officials. The Tali, the Wheel, and the Heart—they are the wellsprings of Wisdom” (Bahir §112).


ספר יצירה (Sefer Yetsirah) The Book of Formation (MS K)

[§1] By means of thirty-two wondrous paths of wisdom
Yah YHWH of armies, God of Israel, the Living God, Almighty, high and exalted, dwelling for ever, and Holy is His Name (Isaiah 57:15), carved out. He created His world with three סֶפָרִים (seforim), ciphers: with ספר ,ספר and ספר.

[§2] The ten סְפִירוֹת בְּלִימָה (sefiroth belimoh), numerals of nothingness, are the basis and the twenty-two letters are the foundation: three mothers, seven doubles, and twelve simple [letters].

[§3] The ten sefiroth belimoh are the basis—like the number of the ten fingers, five opposite five and the covenant of the singular One is exactly in the middle in the covenant of the tongue and the circumcision of the flesh.

[§4] The ten sefiroth belimoh are the basis—ten and not nine, ten and not eleven. Understand with wisdom, and be wise with understanding. Test them and investigate them, and get the thing clearly worked out and restore the Creator to His place.

[§5] The ten sefiroth belimoh are the basis: restrain your mouth from speaking, restrain your heart from thinking. And if your heart races return to the place, thus it is written: running and returning (Ezekiel 1:14). And concerning this the Covenant was made.

[§6] The ten sefiroth belimoh are the basis. Their end is embedded in their beginning like a flame bound to a burning coal. For the Lord is singular, and He has none second to Him; and before one, what can you count?

[§7] The ten sefiroth belimoh are the basis; their measure is ten yet they have no limit: depth of beginning and depth of end, depth of good and depth of evil, depth of above and depth of below, depth of east and depth of west, depth of north and depth of south. And the singular Lord, a trustworthy divine king, rules over them all from His holy abode to eternities of eternity.

[§8] The ten sefiroth belimoh are the basis. Their appearance is like the sight of lightning, and their end?—they have no limit. And His word is in them as though running and returning (Ezekiel 1:14), and they pursue His command like the storm wind, and before His throne they bow down.

[§9] The twenty-two letters are the foundation: three mothers, seven doubles, and twelve simple [letters].

[§10] Ten sefiroth, that is to say: One—רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים חַיִּים (rhuaḥ Elohim ḥayyim), Breath of the Living God. Twice blessed is the name of the חֵי הַעוֹלָמִים (ḥei ha-olomim), Vitality of the Worlds. Voice, and breath, and word—this is רוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ (rhuaḥ ha-qodesh), the Holy Spirit.

[§12] Two—air from Breath: He carved and hewed in it the twenty-two basic letters—three mothers, and seven doubles, and twelve simple [letters]. And the Breath is one of them.

[§13] Three—water from air: He carved and hewed in it תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ (thohu wo-vohu), welter and waste (Genesis 1:1), רֶפֶשׁ וָטִיט (rhefesh woh-tit), mud and mire (Isaiah 57:20). He carved them like a sort of garden-bed. He erected them like a sort of wall, and he wove them like a sort of roof [or: ceiling].

[§14] Four—fire from water: He carved them and hewed in it the throne of glory, and the ofanim and the serafim, and the holy living beings, and the ministering angels. And from the three of them He founded His abode, as it is said: He makes His messengers the winds, His ministers, glowing fire (Psalms 104:4).

[§15] Five—He sealed above. He chose three simple letters and embedded them in His great Name. And He sealed with them the six borders [of the world], and He turned upwards and scaled it. Seven—He sealed the east, and He turned downwards [in front] and sealed it. Eight—He sealed the west, and He turned behind and sealed it. Nine—He sealed the south, and He turned to his right and sealed it. Ten—He sealed the north, and He turned to His left and sealed it.

[§16] These ten sefiroth belimoh are the basis: the Breath of the Living God; and air, water, fire; above, below, east, west, north and south.

[§17a] The twenty-two letters: they are hewn out in the air, carved out by voice, embedded in the mouth in five positions: אחה״ע בומ״ף גיכ״ק דטלנ״ת זסשר״ץ (olef ḥeth he ‘ayin, beth wow mem peh, gimel yod khof qof, doleth teth lomed nun tow, zayin somekh shin resh tsodhi) [קְדוּשָׁה (qedhushah), Holiness].

[§18] The twenty-two letters are their foundation. It is embedded on a wheel with 231 gates. The wheel rotates backwards and forwards. And this is the sign: if for good, above—עֹנֶג (‘oneg), delight; if for evil, below—נֶגַע (nega), affliction.

[§19] Twenty-two letters: He carved them out, He hewed them, He weighed them, He exchanged them, He combined them and formed with them the נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), life-breath, of all creation and the נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), Soul, of all that would be formed [cf. M Sanhedrin 4:5]. How did He weigh and exchange them? א (Olef) with them all, and all of them with א (olef); ב (beth) with them all, and all of them with ב (beth). And they all rotate in turn. The result is that [they go out] by two hundred and thirty-one [gates]; the result is that all creation and all speech go out by one name.

[§20] He formed מַמָשׁ (mamosh), something, from תֹהוּ (thohu), nothing, and He made them its existence, and He hewed out great columns from אֲוִיר (awir), intangible air [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 1:5]. This is the sign:

[§21 (Cordovero)] אל בת גש דר הק וצ זפ חע טס ינ כמ אב גת דש הר וק זצ חפ טע יס כנ למ אג דת הש ור זק חצ טפ יע כס לנ במ אד בג הת וש זר חק טצ יפ כע לס מנ אה בד ות זש חר טק יצ כפ לע מס גנ או בה גד זת חש טר יק כצ לפ מע נס אז בו גה חת טש יר כק לצ מפ נע דס אח בז גו דה טת יש כר לק מצ נפ סע אט בח גז דו ית כש לר מק נצ ספ הע אי בט גח דז הו כת לש מר נק סצ עפ אכ בי גט דח הז לת מש נר סק עצ ופ אל בכ גי דט הח וז מת נש סר עק פצ אמ בל גכ די הט וח נת סש ער פק זצ אנ במ גל דכ הי וט זח סת עש פר צק אס בנ גמ דל הכ וי זט עת פש צר חק אע בס גנ דמ הל וכ זי חט פת צש קר אפ בע גס דנ המ ול זכ חי צת קש טר אצ בפ גע דס הנ ומ זל חכ טי קת רש אק בצ גפ דע הס ונ זמ חל טכ רת יש אר בק גצ דפ הע וס זנ חמ טל יכ שת אש בר גק דצ הפ וע זס חנ טמ יל כת את בש גר דק הצ ופ זע חס טנ ימ כל

[§22] He looks and exchanges; He makes all creation and all speech one name. And a sign for the matter: twenty-two objects and one body.

[§23] Three mothers: א מ ש (olef, mem, shin). Their basis is the scale of acquittal and the scale of guilt, and the tongue of law holds the balance between them.

[§24] Three mothers: א מ ש (olef, mem, shin)—a great mystery, hidden and ineffable, and sealed with six seals. And from it goes out fire, and water and air, and it is divided into male and female.

[§25] Three—fire, water and air; fire above, water below, and air is between them. And this is a sign for the matter that fire evaporates water.

[§26] Three mothers: א מ ש (olef, mem, shin). מ (Mem) lifts up, and ש (shin) hisses, and א (olef) is the balancing item.

[§27] Three mothers: א מ ש (olef, mem, shin). And from them were born three fathers from whom everything was created.

[§28] Three mothers: א מ ש (olef, mem, shin)—in the world: air, and water and fire. Heavens were created first from fire, and earth was created from water, and light [air] was created from the רוּחַ (rhuaḥ), breath, holding the balance between them.

[§29] Three mothers א מ ש (olef, mem, shin)—in the year: fire, and water and air. Heat was created from fire, and cold was created from water, and humidity from air holding the balance between them.

[§30] Three mothers א מ ש (olef, mem, shin)—in a נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), person. The head was created from fire, the belly from water, and the chest from air holding the balance between them.

[§31] Three mothers א מ ש (olef, mem, shin). He carved them, hewed them, combined them and formed with them the three mother [letters] in the world, and the three mother [letters] in the year, and the three mother [letters] in a person—male and female.

[§32] He made א (olef) rule over רוּחַ (rhuaḥ), breath, and bound to it a crown, and combined them with each other, and sealed with them אֲוִיר (awir), atmosphere, in the world, humidity in the year, and the chest in a person—male with א מ ש (olef, mem, shin) and female with ש מ א (shin, memolef).

[§33] He made מ (mem) rule over מַיִם (mayim), water, and bound to it a crown, and sealed with it earth in the world, cold in the year, and the fruit of the belly in a person; male with מ ש א (mem, shinolef), and female with מ א ש (memolef, shin).

[§34] He made ש (shin) rule over אֵשׁ (esh), fire, and bound to it a crown, and combined them with each other, and sealed with it heavens in the world, heat in the year, and the head in a person, male with ש מ א (shin, memolef), and female with ש א מ (shinolef, mem).

[§35] How did he combine them? אמש אשם מאש משא שמא שאם (Olef mem shinolef shin mem, mem olef shin, mem shin olef, shin mem olef, shin olef mem)—heavens, fire; air, breath; earth, water. Man’s head is fire, his belly water, his heart breath/air.

[§36] Three mothers: א מ ש (olef, mem, shin). There was formed with א (olef): breath, air, humidity, chest, law, and tongue. There was formed with מ (mem): earth, cold, belly, and the scale of acquittal. There was formed with ש (shin): heavens, heat, head, and the scale of guilt. This is א מ ש (olef, mem, shin). The end.

[§37] Seven doubles: בּג״ד כּפר״ת (beth, gimel, doleth, kof, peh, resh, tow). They are pronounced with the tongue in two different positions. Their basis is life and peace, wisdom, wealth, prosperity, beauty and mastery. They are pronounced with the tongue in two different positions: ב (beth, veth), ג (gimel, ghimel), ד (doleth, dholeth), כ (kof, khof), פ (peh, feh), ר (resh, rhesh), ת (tow, thow)—דָּגֵּשׁ (dogesh), and רָפֵה (rhofeh), soft and hard, a paradigm of strong and weak. They are doubles because they are opposites. The opposite of life is death; the opposite of peace is war [lit., evil]; the opposite of wisdom is folly; the opposite of wealth is poverty; the opposite of prosperity is desolation; the opposite of beauty is ugliness; and the opposite of mastery is slavery.

[§38] Seven doubles: בּג״ד כּפר״ת (beth, gimel, doleth, kof, peh, resh, tow), corresponding to seven קָצֶווֹת (qotse’ot), borders [or: edges]: a place of borders and a holy place; one—a place set within a place; two—the upper border, three—the lower border, four—the eastern border, five—the western border, six—the northern border, seven, the eternal border, and the holy Temple set in the middle and it supports them all.

[§39] Seven doubles: בּג״ד כּפר״ת (beth, gimel, doleth, kof, peh, resh, tow). He carved and hewed them, He combined them, and formed with them the planets in the world, the days in the year, and the gates in a person by sevens.

[§40] How did he combine them? Two stones build two houses; three build six; four build twenty-four; five build one hundred and twenty; six build seven hundred and twenty; seven build five thousand and forty [i.e., factorials]. From here on go out and ponder what the mouth cannot speak, and what the ear cannot hear.

[§42] And with them were carved out seven firmaments, seven earths, seven hours and seven times. Therefore He loved the seventh under the heavens.

[§43a] These are the seven planets in the world: חַמָה (ḥamoh), Sun, נוֹגַה (noghah), Venus, כּוֹכָב (kokhov), Mercury, לְבָנָה (levonoh), Moon, שַׁבְתַאִי (shabbethai), Saturn, צֶדֶק (tsedheq), Jupiter, מַאְדִים (ma’adhim), Mars. And the days in the year: the seven days of creation. And the seven gates in a person: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and the mouth [cf. Deuteronomy 16:18: Judges and overseers you shall set for yourself within all your gates].

[§45] Twelve simple letters: הוזחט״י לנסעצ״ק (he wow zayin ḥeth teth yod, lomed nun somekh ’ayin tsodhi qof). Their basis is seeing, hearing, smelling, conversing, tasting, mating, doing, walking, raging, laughing, contemplating, sleeping.

[§47] Their measure is twelve גְבוּלֵי אֲלַכְסוֹן (gevulei alakhson), diagonal borders [or: edges, lines]: the north-eastern border, the south-eastern border, the upper eastern border, the lower eastern border, the lower northern border, the north-western border, the upper northern border, the lower western border, the south-western border, the upper western border, the lower southern border, the upper southern border. Deepening and expanding until evermore—זְרֹעֹת עוֹלָם (zero’ot olom), arms everlasting [alt., arms of the world] (Deuteronomy 33:27).

[§48a] He made them a sort of lawsuit, He arranged them in battle array, One opposite the other God made them (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

[§48b] Three—each one stands by itself; seven are at loggerheads—three against three, and one is the law which holds the balance between them. Twelve stand in battle array: three love but three hate; three give life but three kill. And the divine, trustworthy King rules over them all—one on top of three, and three on top of seven, and seven on top of twelve. And they all cling to each other.

[§49a] Twelve simple letters: הוזחט״י לנסעצ״ק (he wow zayin ḥeth teth yod, lomed nun somekh ’ayin tsodhi qof). He carved them and hewed them out, He weighed them and exchanged them, and formed with them the twelve constellations in the world, twelve months in the year, and the twelve principal organs in a person.

These [§49b] are the twelve constellations in the world: טָלֶה (toleh), Aries, שׁוֹר (shor), Taurus, תְּאוֹמִים (te’omim), Gemini, סַרְטָן (sarton), Cancer, אַרְיֵה (arhyeh), Leo, בְּתוּלָה (bethuloh), Virgo, מֹאזְנַיִם (moznayim), Libra, עַקְרָב (‘aqrhov), Scorpio, קַשָּׁת (qashoth), Sagittarius, גְּדִי (gedhi), Capricorn, דְּלִי (deli), Aquarius, דָּגִים (doghim), Pisces. And these are the twelve months: נִיסָּן (Nisson), אִייָר (Iyyor), סִיוָן (Siwon), תַמוּז (Thammuz), אָב (Ov), אֱלוּל (Elul), תִּשְׁרֵי (Tishrhei), מַרְחֶשְׁוָן (Marḥeshwon), כִּסְלֵו (Kislew), טֵבֵת (Teveth), שֵׁבֶט (Shevet), אֲדָר (Adhor). And these are the twelve principal organs in a person: the right hand, the left hand, the right foot, the left foot, two kidneys, the liver, the gall, the spleen, the gullet, the stomach, and the intestines. 

[§50] Three mothers, and seven doubles, and twelve simple [letters].

[§56] These are the twenty-two letters [on which] Yah YHWH of Armies, God of Israel, the Living God, Almighty, high and exalted, dwelling for ever, and Holy is His Name [founded the world] (Isaiah 57:15).

[§58] Three fathers and their generations, and seven dominant ones and their hosts, and the twelve diagonal borders [or: edges]. And a proof for the matter—trustworthy witnesses: the world, the year and a person.

[§59a] There is a law of ten, three, seven and twelve. They are officials over the תָּלִי (Toli) [alt., תְלִי (Theli)], the Wheel, and the Heart.

[§59b] The Tali in the world is like a king on his throne; the Wheel in the year is like a king in a province; the Heart in a person is like a king at war.

[§60b] One opposite the other God made them (Ecclesiastes 7:14): good opposite evil—good from good and evil from evil. Good brings evil to light and evil brings good to light. Good is stored up for the good and evil is kept for the evil.

[§61] When Abraham our father observed, and looked, and saw, and investigated, and understood, and carved, and hewed, and combined, and formed, and succeeded, the Lord of all was revealed to him. And He made him sit in his lap, and kissed him upon his head. He called him His friend and named him His son, and made a covenant with him and his seed for ever. And he trusted in YHWH, and He reckoned it to his merit (Genesis 15:6). He made with him a covenant between the ten toes of his feet—it is the covenant of circumcision. He made with him a covenant between the ten fingers of his hands—it is the covenant of the tongue. He bound twenty [-two] letters into his tongue, and the Omnipresent revealed to him His secret. He drew them out in water, he burned them with fire, he shook them in the air, he branded them into the seven, he led them into the twelve constellations.

[§62] (1) Air and temperate state and chest; earth, cold and the belly; heavens and heat and the head. This is א מ ש (olef, mem, shin).

(2) Saturn, Sabbath and the mouth; Jupiter, the first day of the week and the right eye; Mars, the second day of the week and the left eye; the Sun, the third day of the week and the right nostril; Venus, the fourth day of the week and the left nostril; Mercury, the fifth day of the week and the right ear; the Moon, the sixth day of the week and the left ear. This is בּג״ד כּפר״ת (beth, gimel, doleth, kof, peh, resh, tow).

(3) Aries, Nisson, the liver; Taurus, Iyyor, the gall; Gemini, Siwon, the spleen; Cancer, Thammuz, the gullet; Leo, Ov, the right kidney; Virgo, Elul, the left kidney; Libra, Tishrhei, the intestines; Scorpio, Marḥeshwon, the stomach; Sagittarius, Kislew, the right hand; Capricorn, Teveth, the left hand; Aquarius, Shevet, the right foot; Pisces, Adhor, the left foot. This is הוזחט״י לנסעצ״ק (hewowzayin, ḥeth, teth, yod, lomed, nun, somekh, ‘ayin, tsodhi, qof).

1 Three are hostile and these are they: the tongue, the liver and the gal.

2 Three love: the heart, the ears and the eyes.

3 Three give life: the two nostrils and the liver of the left side.

4 Three kill: the two lower orifices and the mouth.

5 There are three which are in man’s control: the feet, the hands and the mouth.

6 There are three which are not in man’s control: his two eyes, his ears and his nostrils.

7 Three evil things are heard by the ear: cursing, blasphemy and an evil report.

8 Three good things are heard by the ear: blessing, a good report and praise.

9 Three sights are bad for the eye: adultery, an evil eye and a deceptive look.

10 Three sights are good for the eye: modesty, a good eye, and a trustworthy look.

11 Three things are bad for the tongue: He who speaks in the presence of the slanderer, he who speaks one thing with the mouth but another with the heart, and he who speaks too much.

12 Three things are good for the tongue: silence, reticence, and speaking the truth.

Whoever understands this book and keeps it has the assurance that he is a son of the World that is Coming. This is the book of Abraham our father, peace be upon him, which is called The Book of Formation.

There is no limit to the wisdom of everyone who looks into it. And the mysteries of the upper and lower world will be revealed to everyone who occupies himself with it and studies it and knows its mysteries, and he has the assurance that he is a son of the World that is Coming. This book, which is called The Secret of Intercalation on which the whole world depends, should not be handed over to anyone except he who turns away from evil and fears God and waits and hopes for his Creator, as it is said, steadfast love surrounds him who trusts in YHWH (Psalms 32:10), and it says, Israel is saved by YHWH with an everlasting salvation, you will not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity (Isaiah 45:17).

Better a Thing’s End than Its Beginning

IMG_0957Each act of YHWH has its own end; even the wicked for an evil day (Proverbs 16:4).

“There is no evil that does not contain some good… there is nothing evil in its proper place” (Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, Sod Sha’atnez, 278 [Gottlieb]).

“[Son of Azzai] used to say: Do not scorn any person and do not disdain anything; for there is no person who does not have his hour, and there is no thing that does not have its place” (M Avot 4:3).

“Once Rabbi El’azar was walking on the way, accompanied by Rabbi Ḥizkiyah. They saw a snake, and Rabbi Ḥizkiyah was about to kill it. Rabbi El’azar said to him, ‘Leave it alone, don’t kill it!’ He replied, but it’s an evil thing that kills people.’ He said to him, ‘Ḥizkiyah, look at what is written: Does the snake bite without a whisper? (Ecclesiastes 10:11). A snake does not bite a person until it is whispered to from above and told, Go and kill so-and-so!

And sometimes, just as it does this, so it saves a person from other things, and thereby the blessed Holy One generates a miracle for people. All is in the hands of the blessed Holy One, and all is the work of His hands, needed by the world. If the world did not need them, the blessed Holy One would not have created them. Therefore, one must not disdain anything in the world or the acts of the blessed Holy One'” (Zohar 2:68b, cf. Mekhilta Beshallaḥ 1; BT Shabbat 121b; Berakhot 33a).

“Rabbi Shim’on was walking on the way, accompanied by Rabbi El’azar, Rabbi Abba, Rabbi Yehudah, Rabbi Ḥiyya, and Rabbi Yose. They came to a certain obstructive watercourse [of the sort which people make in their fields (Sullam), see BT Bava Batra 54a], and Rabbi Yose slipped into the water fully clothed. He said, ‘This construction of measured water—I wish that it didn’t exist!’ Rabbi Shim’on said to him, ‘You are forbidden! This serves the world, and one must not treat contemptuously those who are of service to the blessed Holy One, especially since they are fashioned genuinely [i.e., this has a corresponding root above (Sullam)].

He opened, saying, ‘God saw all He had made, and look, it was very good (Genesis 1:31)—existing according to the laws of supernal authority. God saw all that He had made—without qualification: even snakes, scorpions, and mosquitoes, and even that which seems to harm the world. Concerning all of them, it is written and look, it was very good. All of them serve the world, conduct the world, though people do not know [cf. Shemot Rabbah 10:1].’

As they were walking along, they saw a snake leading the way. Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Surely, this one is about to perform a miracle for us!’ That snake slithered quickly in front of them and tangled with a viper diametrically across the road. They fought one another and died. When they reached them, they saw them both lying on the road. Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Blessed is the Compassionate One who has performed a miracle for us! For if anyone looks at this [viper] while it is alive, or is looked upon by it, he is doomed, all the more so if he approaches it.’ He proclaimed over himself, ‘No evil will befall you, nor affliction draw near your tent. For His angels He will command for you, to guard you on all your ways (Psalms 91:10–11). By all things the blessed Holy One fulfills His commission, and we must not treat contemptuously anything He has made. Thus it is written YHWH is good to all, and His compassion is over all His creatures, and similarly: All your creatures, YHWH, acclaim You (ibid. 145:9–10)’ [cf. BT Shabbat 121b: ‘Our Rabbis taught: If one chances upon snakes and scorpions, and he kills them, it is manifest that he had chanced upon them in order to kill them; if he does not kill them, it is manifest that he had chanced upon them that they should kill him, but that a miracle was performed by Heaven on his behalf. ‘Ulla said:—others state, Rabbah son of Son of Hanah said in Rabbi Yoḥanan’s name—That is when they hiss at him’]” (Zohar 3:107a).

“It is related of Naḥum of Gamzu that he was blind in both his eyes, his two hands and legs were amputated—and his whole body was covered with boils and he was lying in a dilapidated house on a bed the feet of which were standing in bowls of water in order to prevent the ants from crawling on to him.

On one occasion his disciples desired to remove the bed and then clear the things out of the house, but he said to them, My children, first clear out the things [from the house] and then remove my bed for I am confident that so long as I am in the house it will not collapse. They first cleared out the things and then they removed his bed and the house [immediately] collapsed. Thereupon his disciples said to him, Rabbi, since you are wholly righteous, why has all this befallen you? And he replied, I have brought it all upon myself. Once I was journeying on the road and was making for the house of my father-in-law and I had with me three donkeys, one laden with food, one with drink and one with all kinds of delicacies, when a poor man met me and stopped me on the road and said to me, Rabbi, give me something to eat. I replied to him, Wait until I have unloaded something from the donkey; I had hardly managed to unload something from the donkey when the man died [from hunger]. I then went and laid myself on him and exclaimed, May my eyes which had no pity upon your eyes become blind, may my hands which had no pity upon your hands be cut off, may my legs which had no pity upon your legs be amputated, and my mind was not at rest until I added, may my whole body be covered with boils.

Thereupon his disciples exclaimed, ‘Alas! that we see you in such a sore plight.’ To this he replied, ‘Woe would it be to me did you not see me in such a sore plight’ [cf. BT Shabbat 33b: (Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai said:) If you did not see me in such a state you would not find me thus (learned)]. Why was he called Naḥum of Gamzu?—because whatever befell him he would declare, גַם זוֹ לְטוֹבַה (gam zo le-tovah), ‘This also is for good.’

Once the Jews desired to send to the Emperor a gift and after discussing who should go they decided that Naḥum of Gamzu should go because he had experienced many miracles. They sent with him a bagfull of precious stones and pearls. He went and spent the night in a certain inn and during the night the people in the inn arose and emptied the bag and filled it up with earth. When he discovered this next morning he exclaimed, This also is for the good. When he arrived at his destination and they undid his bag they found that it was full of earth. The king thereupon desired to put them to death saying, The Jews are mocking me. Naḥum then exclaimed, This also is for good.

Whereupon Elijah appeared in the guise of one of them and remarked, Perhaps this is some of the earth of their father Abraham, and when [he threw] stubble it changed into arrows, for it is written, [Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his feet, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? He gave them as the dust to] his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow (Isaiah 41:2). Now there was one province which [the emperor had hitherto] not been able to conquer but when they tried some of this earth [against it] they were able to conquer it. Then they took him [Naḥum] to the royal treasury and filled his bag with precious stones and pearls and sent him back with great honour. When on his return journey he again spent the night in the same inn he was asked, What did you take [to the king] that they showed you such great honour? He replied, I brought there what I had taken from here. [The innkeepers] thereupon razed the inn to the ground and took of the earth to the king and they said to him, The earth that was brought to you belonged to us. They tested it and it was not found to be [effective] and the innkeepers were thereupon put to death” (BT Ta’anit 21a, cf. Rabbi Menaḥem Azariyah de Fano, Gilgulie Neshamot, 95).

Better a things end than its beginning (Ecclesiastes 7:8).

“Rabbi Akiva walked down the road of a village. He asked for a place to stay, but none was offered. He said, ‘All that the blessed Holy One does is for good.’ He went and slept in a field in which there was a rooster, wine and a lamp. A wind came and blew out the lamp, a cat came and ate the rooster and a lion came and drank the wine. He said, ‘All that the blessed Holy One does is for good.’ That night an army came and took the town captive. Rabbi Akiva said, ‘Didn’t I tell you that all that the blessed Holy One does is for good!’” (BT Berakhot 60b).

“This is the sin of the primordial serpent: he joined below and it separated above. So he caused what he caused to the world. For one should separate below and join above… one should realize that יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (YHWH Elohim) is entirely one, indivisible. יְהוָה (YHWH) is הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim). Once one realizes all is one and does not impose division, even that Other Side will disappear from the world, not be drawn below” (Zohar 1:12b, cf. Guide of the Perplexed 3:10: “The true reality of the act of God in its entirety is the good”).

Healing for the Soul: All the Protection a Doctor Should Provide for One who is Ill

rav_ashlag_640x360“Up to here was written in that book of Dr. Kirtena. Afterward, traced in this verse, was all the protection a doctor should provide for one who is ill, lying in the King’s prison, so that he may serve the Master of the World.

For when a wise doctor goes to him, he finds him in a wilderness land and in tohu, emptiness—the illnesses imposed upon him. He finds him in royal captivity.

Now, you might say, ‘Since the blessed Holy One commanded to seize him, no person should attend to him [cf. BT Berakhot 60a, Bava Qamma 85a-b; Midrash Shemu’el 4:1; Nahmanides on Leviticus 26:11].’ Not so! For David has said, Happy is one who keeps an eye on the helpless; on the day of evil YHWH will deliver him (Psalms 41:2). The helpless—the one lying on his sickbed. And if he is a wise doctor, the blessed Holy One provides him blessings for the one he is attending to.

And that doctor, if he finds him in a wilderness land, lying on his sickbed; and in the emptiness of a howling desert, for that sickness oppresses him—what should he do? יְסֹבְבֶנְהוּ (Yesovevenhu), He will encircle him (Deuteronomy 32:10)—יְסוֹבֵב לֵיהּ סִבּוֹת (yesovev leih sibbot), he should revolve the turn of events for him, and bring about causes, so that those things harming him will be thwarted [cf. Zohar 1:109a, 110a-b, 191b]. He should let and draw out from him bad blood.

Give mind to him (ibid.)—he should examine and understand the origin of that illness, scrutinizing so that it does not intensify; he should diminish it.

Afterward, guard him like the pupil of His eye (ibid.)—so that he will be protected properly with those potions, with those remedies that he needs. And he must not fail to distinguish between them, for if he errs in even one element, the blessed Holy One considers that doctor as if he spilled his blood and killed him. For although that person is in the King’s prison, confined there, the blessed Holy One wants someone to attend to him and help him, to take him out of prison.

[Dr. Kirtena] said as follows: The blessed Holy One renders judgment above upon inhabitants of the world, whether by death, uprooting, confiscation of property, or imprisonment (Ezra 7:26). One who deserves confiscation of property falls onto his sickbed and is not healed until he gives all that was decreed, he is healed and leaves prison [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 55a; Leqaḥ Tov, Deuteronomy 28:59; Zohar 1:227a-b; ZḤ 10d (MhN)]. Therefore, one must attend to him, so that he will pay his penalty and leave.

One who deserves uprooting will be seized and confined in prison until he is uprooted entirely, and sometimes he will be uprooted of his limbs, or of one of them, and afterward he will be released from prison.

One who deserves death, so it is. For if he gives all the ransom and money in the world, he will not be saved.

Even so, there must be a wise doctor to attend to him. If he can provide him with healing of the body, fine; if not, he will provide him with healing for his soul and attend to his soul’s healing. Such is a doctor whom the blessed Holy One will attend to in this world and in the world that is coming.

Rabbi El’azar said, ‘Until now I have never heard of this doctor or this book—except one time when a certain wandering donkey-driver told me that he heard from his father that in his time there was a certain doctor who, when he looked at a person on his sickbed, would say, This one will live, or This one will die. They said of him that he was truly virtuous and sin-fearing, and if anyone could not obtain what he needed, he himself would purchase it, giving of his own. And they said that there was no one in the world as wise as him, and his prayer accomplished more than the work of his hands, and it seems to me that this was the doctor!’

That Jew said, ‘His book is in my hands, because I inherited it from my grandfather. And all the words in that book are all based on mysteries of Torah, and in it I discovered concealed mysteries and many matters of healing, of which he said that it is not proper for anyone to perform them unless he is sin-fearing.

And those were what Balaam used, for he murmured incantations over illness; he spoke with his mouth, and [the person] was instantly healed [cf. M Sanhedrin 10:1; Tosefta Sanhedrin 12:10; JT Sotah 1:4, 16d; Sanhedrin 10:1, 28a-b; Vayiqra Rabbah 9:9; BT Sanhedrin 101a, Shevu’ot 15b; Avot de-Rabbi Natan A, 36; Devarim Rabbah 5:15; Bemidbar Rabbah 9:20].

All of them he clarified in that book, and he said, ‘This is forbidden, and this is permitted for one who is sin-fearing.’ For he mentioned many illnesses who’s cure depends on murmuring of the mouth, deriving from the side of sorcery and some from the side of wizardry. And all those forbidden to be uttered by the mouth and forbidden to be enacted, he discussed. Eventually I found there that for certain illnesses one must say such and such, and expel that illness by banishment and excommunication. That is quite amazing to me!’

Rabbi El’azar rejoiced, and the Companions rejoiced. Rabbi El’azar said, ‘If we had that book, we could see what it really is!’ He replied, ‘I’ll entrust it to you, in order to show it to the Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai].’ And we have learned: Rabbi El’azar said, ‘That book was in my hands twelve months, and in it I discovered many sublime precious lights. When we reached those sealed mysteries concerning Balaam, I was astounded.

One day I was whispering incantations in a certain place, and the letters were ascending and descending, until I saw in a dream, and they said to me, What are you doing entering and enquiring in a domain that is not yours, where you need not be?

I awoke, and I was distressed over those sealed mysteries that were there. I sent for that Jew, who is named Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Yehudah, and I gave him that book. And in the mysteries of Balaam, I found some of those names of angels, sent to him by Balak, though they were not arranged correctly. But in it I found many types of remedies, prepared according to configurations of Torah and her sealed mysteries. And I saw that it depends on kindness, and prayers and please to the blessed Holy One.

Now if you say that he performed healing with verses of Torah—perish the thought! Rather, he would speak mysteries of Torah, and based on that mystery he would produce mysteries of healing, the likes of which I have never seen. I said, Blessed is the Compassionate One who has enlightened human beings by wisdom above.

I grasped some of those matters relating to Balaam, and from them I saw that in the whole world there was no one as wise in sorcery as he. I said, Blessed is the Compassionate One, who has abolished these sorceries from the world, so that human beings will not stray from revering the blessed Holy One [cf. Rashi on BT Pesaḥim 56a; Guide of the Perplexed 3:37]’” (Zohar 3:306a, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 69, 106a).

“Rabbi Abba was traveling to Cappadocia, accompanied by Rabbi Yose. As they were going, they saw a man approaching who had a mark on his face. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Let us turn off the road, for this one’s face testifies to sexual licentiousness of the Torah, on account of which his face is stigmatized. Rabbi Yose said to him, ‘If he has had this mark since childhood, what licentiousness inheres in him? He replied, ‘I see in his face, which testifies to licentiousness of Torah.’

Rabbi Abba called to him, and said, ‘Tell me something. What is this mark on your face?’ He said to them, ‘I beg of you, don’t punish me any more than what my sins have brought upon me!’

Rabbi Abba said, ‘How is that?’ He replied, ‘One day I was travelling on the road—me and my sister. We stayed at an inn and I got drunk, and all that night I embraced my sister. In the morning I got up, and the innkeeper was quarreling with another man. I got between them and they grappled me, one from this side and one from that, and this wound penetrated my forehead [lit., brain]. I was saved by a certain doctor who was staying with us.’

He asked him, ‘Who was that doctor?’ He replied, ‘It was Rabbi Simlai.’ He said, ‘And what cure did he give you?’ He replied, ‘A cure for the soul. From that day on, I have engaged in teshuvah. And every day I look at my face in a mirror and I weep for that sin before the blessed Holy One, and with those tears I wash my face [cf. Zohar 2:12b: There is no gate that those tears cannot enter].

Rabbi Abba said, ‘Were it not for your becoming deprived of teshuvah, I would remove that mark from your face. But I proclaim over you, Your iniquity is removed and your sin purged (Isaiah 6:7). He said to him, ‘Rabbi say it three times!’ He said it three times and the mark disappeared. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Surely your Lord wished to remove it from you, for you were certainly engaged in teshuvah.’ He said to him, ‘I vow that from this day onward I will engage in Torah day and night.’ He asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘אֶלְעָזָר (El’azar)’ He said, ‘Surely, the name was decisive, for אֵל עָזַר (El azar), God has helped, and assisted you [cf. Tanḥuma Ha’azinu 7: One should always be careful to choose for his child a name that denotes righteousness, for at times the name itself can be an influence for good or an influence for bad].’ Rabbi Abba sent him off with a blessing” (Zohar 3:75b-76a).

“The academy of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: וְרַפֹּא יְרַפֵּא (ve-rapo yerape), he shall surely cure him (Exodus 21:19)—authorization was granted to the doctor to cure” (BT Bava Qamma 85a, cf. Ibn Ezra, ad loc).

If you really heed the voice of YHWH your God, and do what is right in His eyes, and hearken to His commands and keep all His statutes, all the sickness that I put upon Egypt I will not put upon you, for I am YHWH your healer (Exodus 15:26).

Rolling Souls

image“It was taught, Rabbi El’azar ha-Qappar said: Let one always pray to be spared this fate [of poverty], for if he does not descend his son will, and if not his son, his grandson, for it is said, בִּגְלַל (bigelal), because for this thing (Deuteronomy 15:10). The Academy of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: It is a גַלגַל (galgal), wheel, that revolves in the world” (BT Shabbat 151b).

“Seeing a גוּלגוֹלֶת (gulgolet), skull, floating on the water, [Hillel] said: ‘Because you drowned others, they drowned you, and those who drowned you will themselves eventually be drowned'” (M Avot 2:7).

“Rabbi Yirmeyah son of Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan, ‘Whoever walks four cubits in the land of Israel is assured to be a son of the world to come.’ Now… aren’t the righteous outside the Land going to be revived?—Rabbi Il’a said, ‘By גִּלְגּוּל (gilgul), rolling.’ Rabbi Abba Sala the Great objected, ‘Rolling will be painful to the righteous!'” (BT Ketubbot 111a, cf. Zohar 1:113b–114b [MhN], 131a).

“And this is the mystery of גִּלְגּוּל (gilgul), rolling: The גַלגַל (galgal), wheel, does not move without the flow of water through the conduit. Likewise, the conduit is the mystery of the letter ו (vav), by which the wheel is turned. And the secret of the matter is that just as the wheel will have no motion without the aqueduct, so too the wheel which is the letter י (yod) will have no rolling, without the aqueduct which is the letter ו (vav)… י (yod) is the point. ו (Vav) is [the conduit] of the wheel. And there is no movement in the wheel at the six spokes [the numerical value of ו (vav)], but only at the point” (Zohar 3:214b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

The Cave is Filled by the Sea, yet the Sea is not Diminished: He Surrounds all Worlds and He Fills all Worlds

IMG_1039And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of YHWH filled the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34).

“Rabbi Yehoshu’a of Sikhnin said in the name of Rabbi Levi: Why was the Tent of Meeting compared to a cave on the seashore? When the sea rises and floods it, the cave is filled by the sea, yet the sea is not diminished. So too, the Tent of Meeting was filled with the splendor of the Shekhinah, as is said, on [Israel’s] יוֹם כַּלֹּת (yom kallot), bridal day, Moses [set up the Tabernacle] (Numbers 7:1)” (Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 1:2, cf. Tanḥuma, Vayakhel, 7; Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 19a).

“Rabbi El’azar said: A certain angel, who stands on the earth and his head reaches to the living beings [of the Chariot]. In a baraita it is taught: His name is Sandalfon; he is higher than his fellows by a five hundred years journey, and he stands behind the Chariot and wreaths crowns for his Maker. But is it so? Behold it is written: Blessed be the glory of YHWH from His place (Ezekiel 3:12). Accordingly, no one knows His place!—he [Sandalfon] pronounces the [divine] Name over the crown, and it goes and rests on His head. Rava said: All that Ezekiel saw Isaiah saw. What does Ezekiel resemble? A villager who saw the king [and prophesied from afar, i.e., exile]. And what does Isaiah resemble? A townsman who saw the king [and prophesied from within the land of Israel]” (BT Ḥagigah 13b).

What is From His place? Because no one knows His place. This is like a king’s daughter who came from afar, and nobody knew where she came from. When they saw that she was אֵשֶׁת חַיִל (eshet ḥayil), a worthy woman, lovely and refined in all that she did, they said: ‘She undoubtedly was taken from the side of the light, for her deeds give light to the world.’ They then asked her: ‘Where are you from?’ She replied: ‘From my place.’ They said: ‘If so, the people of your place must be great! Blessed are you and blessed is your place!’” (Bahir §132).

His disciples said to him: From above to below we know. But from below to above we do not know. He replied: Is it not all one—below to above and above to below? They said: Our Rabbi, ascending is not like descending. One can run while descending, but it is not so while ascending. He replied: Go out and see.

He sat and expounded for them: ‘Shekhinah is below just as Shekhinah is above’ (Seder Rabba de-Vereshit) [see Wertheimer, Battey Midrashot 1:30]. And what is Shekhinah? Say that this is the light emanated from the primordial light, Ḥokhmah. It also turns everything, as is written: The whole earth is filled with His glory (Isaiah 6:3). What is its function here? A parable: A king had seven sons, and he assigned each one his place. He said to them, ‘Sit, this one on the back of that one.’ The lowest one said, ‘I will not dwell below! I will not be so far from you!’ He said to them, ‘I will hereby turn and see you all day long.’ This is The whole earth is filled with His glory. Why is He in their midst? To stand them up and make them endure” (Bahir §171).

“All beings above and below cannot grasp, till finally they declare: Blessed be the glory of YHWH from His place! (Ezekiel 3:12). Those below proclaim that He is above, as is written: Your glory is above the heavens (Psalms 113:4). Those above proclaim that He is below, as is written: Your glory is over all the earth (ibid. 57:12). Finally all of them, above and below, declare: Blessed be the glory of YHWH from His place! For He is unknowable; no one has ever been able to comprehend Him” (Zohar 1:103a).

“What is the difference between them [ס (samekh) and ם (mem)]? Well, when enclosed and hidden within itself, within the supernal point above, She [Binah] assumes the form of the letter ס (samekh), enclosed within and hidden, ascending above. And when She returns and sits רְבִיעָא (revi’a), crouching, over children below to suckle them, She assumes the form of the letter ם (mem) [which is] רְבִיעָא (revi’a), quadrilateral, enclosed in four directions of the world [the first appearance of the letter ס (samekh) in the Torah is in the word הַסֹּבֵב (ha-sovev), surrounds (Genesis 2:11), and its second appearance is in the word וַיִּסְגֹּר (va-yisgor), closed (ibid., 21), see Bereshit Rabbah 17:6]” (Zohar 2:127a, cf. BT Shabbat 104a).

“He surrounds all the worlds, and none but He surrounds them in any direction, up or down or to the four corners of the compass, and no one has escaped outside His realm, for He fills all the worlds and there is no other that fills them. He grants life, and there is no other god above Him to give Him life, as is said: You enliven them all (Nehemiah 9:6), and for Him Daniel said: And all earth’s dwellers are counted as naught, and as He chooses He does with the array of the heavens and the earth’s dwellers, [and there is none who can protest against Him and say to Him, ‘What have You done?’] (Daniel 4:32). He binds and unites kind to its kind above and below, and the four elements would have no proximity except with the blessed Holy One in their midst” (Zohar 3:225a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).