The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism - Daniel Chanan Matt (1996)
Ein Sof and the Sefirot
WATER, LIGHT, AND COLORS
IN THE BEGINNING Ein Sot emanated ten sefirot, which are of its essence, united with it. It and they are entirely one. There is no change or division in the emanator that would justify saying it is divided into parts in these various sefirot. Division and change do not apply to it, only to the external sefirot.
To help you conceive this, imagine water flowing through vessels of different colors: white, red, green, and so forth. As the water spreads through those vessels, it appears to change into the colors of the vessels, although the water is devoid of all color. The change in color does not affect the water itself, just our perception of the water. So it is with the sefirot. They are vessels, known, for example, as Hesed, Gevurah. and Tif’eret. each colored according to its function, white, red, and green, respectively, while the light of the emanator—their essence—is the water, having no color at all. This essence does not change; it only appears to change as it flows through the vessels.
Better yet, imagine a ray of sunlight shining through a stained-glass window of ten different colors. The sunlight possesses no color at all hut appears to change hue as it passes through the different colors of glass. Colored light radiates through the window. The light has not essentially changed, though so it seems to the viewer. Just so with the sefirot. The light that clothes itself in the vessels of the sefirot is the essence, like the ray of sunlight. That essence does not change color at all, neither judgment nor compassion, neither right nor left. Yet by emanating through the sefirot—the variegated stained glass—judgment or compassion prevails.
EIN SOF AND THE SEFIROT
FIRST, YOU should know that the Creator, Ein Sof, is the cause of causes, one without a second, one that cannot he counted. Change and mutability, form and multiplicity, do not apply to it. The word “one” is used metaphorically, since the number one stands on its own and is the beginning of all numbers. Every number is contained within it potentially, while it inheres in every number in actuality.
The Creator is called one from this aspect: Ein Sof is present in all things in actuality, while all things are present in it potentially. It is the beginning and cause of everything. In this way oneness has been ascribed to the Creator; nothing can be added to this oneness or subtracted from it. Ein Sof is necessary being, just as the number one is necessary for all numbers, since without it no number can exist. If the number one were nullified, all numbers would be nullified, whereas if the numbers were nullified, the number one would not. Such is the power of one.
So it is with the Creator of all, the one who acts and sustains existence. If an action were nullified, the actor would not be nullified, since Ein Sof does not need anything. If existence were nullified, Ein Sof would not be nullified, since it does not need space and exists on its own.
Furthermore, you should know that Ein Sof emanated its sefirot, through which its actions are performed. They serve as vessels for the actions deriving from Ein Sof in the world of separation and below. In fact, its existence and essence spread through them.
These qualities possess unerasable names. Keter (Crown) is named Eheyeh; Hokhmah (Wisdom) is named Yah; Binah (Understanding) is named YHVH with the vowels of Elohim; Hesed (Love) is named El; Gevurah (Power) is named Elohim; Tif’eret (Beauty) is named YHVH; Netsah (Eternity) is named Tseva’ot; Yesod (Foundation) is named Shaddai or El Hai; Malkhut (Kingdom) is named Adonai.
These names are the sefirot. It is not that the names are merely ascribed to the sefirot; rather, the names are the sefirot. These sefirotic names are names of Ein Sof, according to its actions.
Ein Sof is not identical with Keter, as many have thought. Rather, Ein Sof is the cause of Keter; Keter is caused by Ein Sof, cause of causes. Ein Sof is the primal cause of all that exists; there is no cause higher than it. Keter is the first to derive from it. From Keter the rest of emanation is drawn forth. This does not contradict the fact that Keter is counted as one of the sefirot. It is reckoned as one of the ten, considered similar to the emanated ones. On account of its loftiness, however, Keter does not reveal itself in the emanated totality of ten. The decade is kept complete by including Da’at (Knowledge) in place of Keter.
It is inappropriate to say of Ein Sof “blessed be he,” “glorified be he,” “praised be he,” or similar expressions, since it cannot be blessed, praised, or glorified by another. Rather, it is the one who blesses, praises, glorifies, and animates from the first point of its emanation to the farthest. Before the formation of the universe, it had no need of emanation. It was concealed in its holy, pure simplicity. No letter, vowel, or image can be applied to it, for even Keter, the beginning of emanation, is devoid of name and image in letter or vowel. How much more so with Ein Sof, whom we cannot depict, of whom we cannot speak, of whom we cannot posit either judgment or compassion, excitement or anger, change or limit, sleep or motion, or any quality whatsoever, either prior to the emanation or now.
At the very beginning, Ein Sof emanated the subtle emanation, namely, ten sefirot—noetic forms—from its essence, uniting with it. It and they together constitute a complete union. These sefirot are souls, which clothe themselves in the ten sefirot called by name, which serve as vessels for the ten essences. Within these ten named sefirot are found judgment and compassion and the aforementioned actions, which we would not ascribe to Ein Sof.
Before these qualities emanated, they were utterly concealed within Ein Sof, utterly united with it. No image can be applied to them—not even a point; rather, they were united with it. Afterward, Ein Sof emanated one point from itself, one emanation. This is Keter, called Ayin, Nothingness, on account of its extreme subtlety, its cleaving to its source, such that being cannot be posited of it. From Keter a second point emanated in a second revelation. This is Hokhmah (Wisdom), called Yesh, Being, for it is the beginning of revelation and existence. It is called yesh me-ayin, “being from nothingness.” Because it is the beginning of being and not being itself, it required a third point to reveal what exists. This is Binah (Understanding).
From these three sefirot emerged the six dimensions of providence, the sefirot from Hesed (Love) and below. First, Hesed from Hokhmah; then Gevurah (Power) emanated from Binah; then Tif’eret (Beauty) emanated from Keter. The revelation of all three of these came about through Binah, but the essential roots of Hesed and Tif’eret derived from Hokhmah and Keter respectively. Hidden within these three were Netsah (Eternity), Hod (Splendor), and Yesod (Foundation). Netsah was revealed from Hesed, Hod from Gevurah, and Yesod from Tif’eret. Malkhut (Kingdom) emanated along with the six dimensions.
The process of emanation can be pictured in three different ways, each of which is true. Either one after the other: Keter, Hokhmah, Binah, Hesed … to Malkhut. Or else Keter, Tif’eret, Yesod, and Malkhut constitute one point, emanating to the end of Malkhut, while Hokhmah, Hesed, and Netsah constitute a second point, emanating until Netsah; and Binah, Gevurah, and Hod constitute a third point, emanating until Hod. Alternatively, Keter, Hokhmah, and Binah, followed by Hesed, Gevurah, and Tif’eret, followed by Netsah, Hod, and Yesod. Malkhut is the entirety.
Among the kabbalists, the most widely accepted depiction of the sefirot is as follows: Keter, Hokhmah, and Binah in the form of a triangle. Beneath them, also in the form of a triangle, Hesed, Gevurah, and Tif’eret, followed by another triangle of Netsah, Hod, and Yesod. Centered beneath them is Malkhut. The upper sefirot need the lower ones, and the lower sefirot need the upper ones. So the power of the lower sefirot is in the upper ones, and the power of the upper sefirot is in the lower ones. All of them need Ein Sof, while it needs none of them.
These sefirot have no specific location, though we depict them in such a way as to make them fathomable. In truth, though, Ein Sof is the location of its sefirot, and Keter is the location of nine sefirot, and Hokhmah is the location of eight, and Binah is the location of seven, and so on. Malkhut is the location of the world of creation, which is the location of the world of formation, which is the location of the world of actualization, until the emanation reaches the earth.
Various channels have been ascribed to these sefirot, signifying the path of the ray of illumination from the first sefirah to its recipient, and the pathway from the recipient back to the emanating sefirah, so that it can receive. The joining of these two aspects of light constitutes a channel. The various types of channels are actually innumerable. Among them are the following:
One from Keter to Hokhmah, one from Keter to Binah, and one from Keter to Tif’eret, totaling three.
One from Hokhmah to Binah, one from Hokhmah to Hesed, one from Hokhmah to Gevurah, and one from Hokhmah to Tif’eret, totaling four.
One from Binah to Hesed, one from Binah to Gevurah, and one from Binah to Tif’eret, totaling three.
One from Hesed to Netsah, one from Hesed to Gevurah, and one from Hesed to Tif’eret, totaling three.
One from Gevurah to Hod, and one from Gevurah to Tif’eret, totaling two.
One from Tif’eret to Netsah, one from Tif’eret to Hod, and one from Tif’eret to Yesod, totaling three.
One from Netsah to Hod, and one from Netsah to Yesod, totaling two.
One from Hod to Yesod, and one from Yesod to Malkhut.
Malkhut receives solely from Yesod, through whom she receives from them all. Without him, she cannot receive from any of them; without her, none of the sefirot can emanate to the lower worlds, for she is the essence of those worlds, conducting them. These are the major channels; their facets are infinite.
The sefirot have the power to perform opposite actions, at times manifesting judgment, at times compassion. They always agree on each action, for each sefirah acts only along with all the others, with their consent, through Malkhut.
Each sefirah is composed of all ten, yet they manifest particular combinations:
Sometimes a combination of three: Hesed, Din, and Rahamim (Love, Judgment, and Compassion).
Sometimes a combination of four: the three already mentioned and one composed of them all.
Sometimes five: Hesed, Gevurah, Tif’eret, Netsah, and Hod.
Sometimes six: the six dimensions.
Sometimes seven: the sefirot from Hesed to Malkhut.
Sometimes eight, including Binah.
Sometimes ten, from Keter on down, or from Hokhmah on down, with Da’at (Knowledge) completing the decade.
These various combinations are not what they seem to be, for the sefirot are never less than ten. Rather, all ten combine in these various modes, revealing themselves in illumination.
The origin of Judgment is on high, in the will of the emanator. However, it is concealed, as all of the qualities are concealed and unified within Keter and Ein Sof, to such an extent that they cannot be considered individual qualities. Similarly, the activity of Judgment is concealed in the first three sefirot, and it is not considered Judgment until its manifestation in Gevurah.
It is improper for the seeker to probe the essence of the first three sefirot, since they constitute the Divine Mind, Wisdom, and Understanding. It is also improper to probe the essence of the hidden substance that creates all that exists. Since it is one with its Will, Wisdom, and Understanding—its essential qualities—it is not proper to probe. However, it is not wrong for us to explore from Hesed and Gevurah on down, for these qualities have been emanated to conduct the beings below. Whoever explores them thoroughly is rewarded for his zeal. Concerning this it is written: “Let the mother go,” referring to Binah (Understanding); “the children you may take,” to search and explore.
The activities of Hesed abound; we will mention here what is apt for the seeker. First, grace—as indicated by its name—benefiting us, being good to us. Also, nullifying the power of the aliens, who accuse and vex us. The effects of this quality are found in all things that partake of whiteness, such as gems whose color is white, whose virtue derives from Hesed. Among its actions is love. Although love is aroused by the left, its essential purpose is on the right. Another of its actions is drawing a person toward wisdom through the power of Hokhmah, above on the right. Another is including Gevurah within itself in order to execute judgment tinged with love.
Among the actions of Gevurah are harsh judgment, as indicated by its name. It is a lash to discipline humanity. From here stem all the aliens that seduce and denounce. Its effects are found in all things that partake of the mystery of redness and heat, such as fire and the power of gems whose color is red, whose virtue is striking terror. Yet, as we have noted, love is also aroused by this quality. Wealth and sustenance, too, emanate from here, with the help of Binah, above. Every time that God listens to a prayer or a cry of distress, it is through this quality, with the help of Binah.
Among the actions of Tif’eret are beauty and splendor, as attested by its name. The reason is that splendor and beauty are composed of white and red, as it is written, “My beloved is white and ruddy.” Within the mystery of this quality are all things compounded of red and white, fire and water, warmth and wetness, judgment and grace. Also derived from here is the color yellow in gems—like the yellow of the yolk of an egg. All of these emanate from this quality, and their virtues derive from its power. The Torah and the study of Torah both depend on Tif’eret. The birth of children depends on the upper sefirot, while its locus is here. The manna descended to Israel from this quality. Souls emanate from here as well, through the mysterious union of this quality with Malkhut. Such union takes place between these two sefirot, as well as between Hokhmah and Binah, but between none of the others.
Hokhmah and Binah are called man and woman, father and mother, just as human sexual union requires the medium of genitalia, so above, these two qualities unite by means of the mystery of primordial Da’at, which mediates between father and mother. This union maintains and renews the sefirot, which are continually revitalized through their root, sunk deep within Binah and Hokhmah. The soul, which derives from Binah, shares in this renewal. However, every union requires an arousal below, and the arousal of Binah stems from Malkhut.
This manner of union may be found in Tif’eret and Malkhut, who are male and female, groom and bride, lower father and mother, son and daughter of the upper couple, king and queen, the Holy One, blessed be he, and Shekhinah. All these are metaphors. Their union, however, requires an arousal from the lower world, from the souls of the righteous.
Foreplay ushers in the union. There is embrace at the hands of Hesed and Gevurah, as intimated in the Song of Songs: “His left hand beneath my head, his right arm embracing me.” This implies that the emanation of Hesed flows into Tif’eret, uniting with it. Then Tif’eret flows into Gevurah, uniting with it. Now the groom is joined with both his arms. Then he receives the bride with his left arm, and Gevurah extends to Malkhut, emanating to her. Then the abundance of Hesed, the right arm, flows to her. Thus the left is below, and the right embraces above.
Accompanying the union is the aspect of the kiss. Undoubtedly, this kiss is the cleaving of spirit to spirit, the mystery of the union of the inner essence of the sefirot, illuminating one another through the mystery of the mouth, Malkhut being in Tif’eret, Tif’eret in Malkhut.
The benefits of this union are immense. From it derive male souls from the male side and female souls from the female side. Accompanying this union are Netsah and Hod, the two testicles of the male, along with Yesod, the mystery of the covenant. Thus the union is enacted.
THERE IS A balance between the two extremes, that is, between Hesed and Din, Love and Judgment. This balance is Rahamim, Compassion. Such extremes appear in three places, each of which includes a balance. The first polarity is between Netsah and Hod, and the harmonizer is Yesod. The second polarity is Hesed and Gevurah, and the harmonizer is Tif’eret. The third polarity is Hokhmah and Binah, and the harmonizer is Tif’eret in the mystery of Da’at. Such harmonization entails mediating between the two extremes.
COLORS ARE ascribed to the various sefirot, according to their actions. Thus white indicates compassion, red indicates judgment, and so on, as is well known. Regarding Keter, some say that it has no color, while others say that the whitest of whites is appropriate for it. Still others construe its color as black. These three colors correspond to its three aspects. First, by virtue of being with the emanator, it is black. Second, in and of itself, since it is not revealed to what is emanated, no color pertains to it. Third, in its aspect of emanating compassion through the other sefirot, it partakes of the mystery of whiteness.
The color of Hokhmah is the first of all the colors, just as this sefirah is the beginning of all activity. The colors commence with Hokhmah, and thus its color is blue, the first color to emerge out of black. Black is opened by blue. Some construe its color as sapphire, which is close to blue.
The color of Binah is green like grass, the reason being that this color includes red and white and their blend, namely, Hesed, Gevurah, and Tif’eret. It also includes the color blue, from Hokhmah. Thus all these qualities blend together in Binah.
YOU SHOULD realize that holy, spiritual entities are unlike lowly, human actions. For when a human being performs an action, the object acted upon acquires the desired form and by necessity loses its previous form and nature. Having been transformed, its previous state of existence is no longer recalled. This is not the case with the sefirot and with everything that develops from them, for their previous mode of existence is not absent. Rather they evolve from one mode of existence to another. For example, when the sefirot were concealed within Keter, all of them were present there, and even after their emanation, they remain existent there. Keter does not lack and does not change. So it is with the emanation of the sefirot from Hokhmah, and on and on. They transform themselves and multiply without end.
THE LIGHT of the sefirot emanates and radiates from above to below in a direct path: Keter, Hokhmah, Binah, Hesed, Gevurah, Tif’eret, Netsah, Hod, Yesod, Malkhut. Having descended to the site of its status, the light is reflected back, from below to above: Keter in Malkhut, Hokhmah in Yesod, Binah in Hod, Hesed in Netsah, Gevurah in Tif’eret, Tif’eret in Gevurah, Netsah in Hesed, Hod in Binah, Yesod in Hokhmah, Malkhut in Keter. Here lies the mystery of the reflection of light from below to above, the mystery of the reversal of light, striking a mirror and returning to its source. Between each two qualities a conduit runs up and down. Within the quality itself, some flows from below to above, some from above to below.
THE EXISTENCE stemming from God, extending to the lowest point, is divided into four divisions. The first is Atsilut, Emanation, namely, the ten emanated sefirot, through which spreads the light of Ein Sof. The second is the realm of the Throne of Glory, called Beri’ah, Creation. The light of the ten sefirot spreads through it—called here the sefirot of Creation. Thus the light of Ein Sof clothes itself in them through the medium of emanated light.
The third realm comprises ten bands of angels and the celestial palaces. The light of the ten sefirot spreads also through them, through the light of the ten sefirot of Creation. This realm is called Yetsirah, Formation, and as the sefirot spread through them, they are called the ten sefirot of Formation. Thus the light of Ein Sof clothes itself through emanated light.
The fourth realm is the heavens and the entire material world. This is called Asiyyah. Actualization, and it includes ten heavens. The light of the sefirot spreads through them, and they are called the ten sefirot of Actualization. Here holiness pervades physical matter.
So these four are called Atsilut, Beri’ah, Yetsirah, Asiyyah; Emanation, Creation, Formation, Actualization. Their acronym is ABiYA. Emanation transcends Creation, Creation transcends Formation, Formation transcends Actualization. All four divisions are found in each one, since the degrees descend from cause to caused.
WHILE THERE are many unerasahle names—the ten divine names of the ten sefirot—there exists one name that comprises all ten sefirot. This is the four-letter name: YHVH. Y symbolizes Hokhmah; H, Binah; V includes six sefirot; the final H, Malkhut. Ein Sof is concealed within Keter, while its light spreads through these four letters, from yod to he, from he to vav, from vav to final he.
THE RIGHTEOUS are capable of becoming a vehicle for the sefirot, through the mystery of the emanation of their souls, their actions in this world, and their inclination toward one side and toward one of the sefirot. Thus Abraham was a man of Hesed, Isaac a man of Gevurah, Jacob master of Tif’eret, Moses master of Netsah, Aaron master of Hod, Joseph master of Yesod, and David master of Malkhut.
ELIJAH OPENED and said, “Master of the worlds! You are one—but not in counting. You are higher than the high, concealed from the concealed. No thought grasps you at all. It is you who generated ten adornments—called by us the ten sefirot—by which concealed, unrevealed worlds are conducted, and revealed worlds. In them you conceal yourself from human beings, while you are the one who binds and unites them. Since you are within, whoever separates one of these ten from another—it is as if he divided you.
“These ten sefirot proceed in order: one long, one short, one between. It is you who conducts them, and no one conducts you—neither above nor below nor in any direction. You have prepared garments for them, from which souls fly to human beings. You have prepared various bodies for them—called bodies in contrast to the garments covering them. These bodies are named according to this arrangement: Hesed, the right arm; Gevurah, the left arm; Tif’eret, the trunk of the body; Netsah and Hod, the two legs; Yesod, completion of the body, sign of the holy covenant; Malkhut, the mouth—we call her oral Torah. Hokhmah is the brain, inner thought. Binah is the heartmind, through which the [human] heartmind understands. The highest crown, Keter Elyon, is the royal crown, the skull, inside of which is: yod he vav he, path of emanation, sap of the tree, spreading through its arms and branches—like water drenching a tree, which then flourishes.
“Master of the worlds! You are the cause of causes, who drenches the tree with that flow—a flow that is like a soul for the body, life for the body. In you there is neither likeness nor image of anything within or without. You created heaven and earth, bringing forth sun, moon, stars, and constellations. And on earth: trees, grass, the Garden of Eden, animals, birds, fish, and human beings. So that the beyond might be known—how above and below conduct themselves and how they become known.
“About you, no one knows anything. Apart from you, there is no union above and below. You are known as Lord of all. Every one of the sefirot has a name that is known, by which the angels are called, but you have no known name, for you pervade all names; you are the fullness of them all. When you disappear from them, all those names are left like a body without a soul.
“You are wise—not with a known wisdom. You understand—not with known understanding. You have no known place—just making known your power and strength to human beings, showing them how the world is conducted by justice and compassion, according to human action. But actually you have no known justice or compassion, nor any quality at all.”
THE CREATION OF GOD
In the beginning
WHEN THE KING conceived ordaining
he engraved engravings in the luster on high.
A blinding spark flashed within the concealed of the concealed
from the mystery of the Infinite,
a cluster of vapor in formlessness, set in a ring,
not white, not black, not red, not green, no color at all.
When a band spanned, it yielded radiant colors.
Deep within the spark gushed a flow, imbuing colors below,
concealed within the concealed of the mystery of the Infinite.
The flow broke through and did not break through its aura.
It was not known at all
until, under the impact of breaking through,
one high and hidden point shone.
Beyond that point, nothing is known.
So it is called Beginning.
“The enlightened will shine like the zohar of the sky,
and those who make the masses righteous
will shine like the stars forever and ever.”
Zohar, concealed of the concealed, struck its aura.
The aura touched and did not touch this point.
Then Beginning emanated, building itself a glorious palace.
There it sowed the seed of holiness
to give birth for the benefit of the universe.
Zohar, sowing a seed of glory
like a seed of fine purple silk.
The silkworm wraps itself within, weaving itself a palace.
This palace is its praise, a benefit to all.
With Beginning, the unknown concealed one created the palace,
a palace called God.
The secret is: “With Beginning, ______ created God.”
THE AROMA OF INFINITY
EIN SOF DOES NOT abide being known,
does not produce end or beginning.
Primordial Nothingness brought forth beginning and end.
Who is beginning?
The highest point, beginning of all,
the concealed one abiding in thought.
It also engenders end, the culmination of the word.
But there, no end.
No desires, no lights, no sparks in that Infinity.
All these lights and sparks are dependent on it but cannot comprehend.
The only one who knows, yet without knowing,
is the highest desire, concealed of all concealed, Nothingness.
And when the highest point and the world that is coming ascend,
they know only the aroma,
as one inhaling an aroma is sweetened.
THE WEDDING CELEBRATION
ON THE DAY that Rabbi Shim’on was to leave the world,
while he was arranging his affairs,
the companions assembled at his house.
Present were Rabbi El’azar, his son, Rabbi Abba, and the other companions.
The house was full.
Rabbi Shim’on raised his eyes and saw that the house was filled.
He cried, and said,
“The other time I was ill, Rabbi Pinhas son of Ya’ir was in my presence.
I was already selecting my place in paradise next to Ahiyah of Shiloh
when they extended my life until now.
When I returned, fire was whirling in front of me;
it has never gone out.
No human has entered without permission.
Now I see it has gone out, and the house is filled.”
While they were sitting
Rabbi Shim’on opened his eyes and saw what he saw;
fire whirled through the house.
Rabbi El’azar, his son, and Rabbi Abba remained;
the other companions sat outside.
Rabbi Shim’on rose and laughed in delight.
He asked, “Where are the companions;”
Rabbi El’azar rose and brought them in.
They sat in front of him.
Rabbi Shim’on raised his hands and prayed a prayer.
Rejoicing, he said,
“Those companions who were present at the threshing house will convene here.”
Rabbi El’azar, his son, Rabbi Abba, Rabbi Judah,
Rabbi Yose, and Rabbi Hiyya remained.
Rabbi Abba sat behind him and Rabbi El’azar in front.
Rabbi Shim’on said, “Now is a time of favor.
I want to enter without shame into the world that is coming.
Holy words, until now unrevealed,
I want to reveal in the presence of Shekhinah,
so it will not be said that I left the world deficiently.
Until now they were hidden in my heart
as a password to the world that is coming.
I will arrange you like this:
Rabbi Abba will write; Rabbi El’azar, my son, will repeat;
the other companions will meditate within.”
Rabbi Abba rose from behind him;
Rabbi El’azar, his son, sat in front.
Rabbi Shim’on said, “Rise, my son, for someone else will sit in that place.”
Rabbi El’azar rose.
Rabbi Shim’on enwrapped himself and sat down.
He opened and said,
“It is so different now than at the threshing house.
There the Blessed Holy One and his chariots convened.
Now he is accompanied by the righteous from the Garden of Eden!
This did not happen before.
The Blessed Holy One wants the righteous to be honored
more than he wants himself to be honored.
So it is written concerning King Jeroboam.
He offered incense to idols and worshiped them;
yet the Blessed Holy One was patient.
But as soon as he stretched out his hand against Ido the prophet,
his hand dried up.
Not because he worshiped idols,
but because he threatened Ido the prophet.
Now the Blessed Holy One wants us to be honored
and all of them are coming with him!
Here is Rav Hamnuna Sava
surrounded by seventy of the righteous adorned with crowns,
each one dazzling with the luster of the Holy Ancient One,
concealed of all concealed.
He is corning to hear in joy these words I am about to speak.”
Rabbi Shim’on was about to sit down, when he exclaimed:
“Look! Here is Rabbi Pinhas son of Ya’ir! Prepare his place!”
The companions trembled;
they got up and moved to the periphery of the house.
Rabbi El’azar and Rabbi Abba remained with Rabbi Shim’on.
Rabbi Shim’on said,
“In the threshing house, we were found to be:
all the companions speaking, I among them.
Now I alone will speak;
all are listening to my words, those above and those below.
Happy is my portion this day!”
Rabbi Shim’on opened and said,
“‘I am my beloved’s, his desire is upon me.’
All the days that I have been bound to this world
I have been bound in a single bond with the Blessed Holy One.
That is why now his desire is upon me.
He and his holy entourage have come to hear in joy concealed words
and praise for the Holy Ancient One, concealed of all concealed.
Separate, separated from all, yet not separate.
For all is joined to it, and it is joined to all.
It is all!
Ancient of all ancients, concealed of all concealed.
Arrayed and not arrayed.
Arrayed to sustain all;
not arrayed, for it is not to be found.
Arrayed, it radiates nine lights,
blazing from it, from its array.
Those lights, sparkling, flashing, emanate in every direction.
“Until now these words were concealed,
for I was scared to reveal;
now they have been revealed!
Yet it is revealed before the Holy Ancient One
that I have not acted for my own honor
nor for the honor of my family
but rather so I will not enter his palace in shame.
Furthermore, I see that the Blessed Holy One
and all these righteous ones approve:
I see all of them rejoicing in this, my wedding celebration!
All of them are invited, in that world, to my wedding celebration.
Happy is my portion!”
Rabbi Abba said,
“When the Holy Spark, the High Spark, finished this word
he raised his hands, cried and laughed.
He wanted to reveal one word.
He said, ‘I have been troubled by this word all my days
and now they are not giving me permission!’
“Summoning up his courage,
he sat and moved his lips and bowed three times.
No one could look at his place, certainly not at him.
He said, ‘Mouth, mouth, you have attained so much!
Your spring has not dried up.
Your spring flows endlessly.
Of you it is written:
“A river issues from Eden.”
“Like a spring whose waters do not fail.”
Now I avow:
All the days I have been alive, I have yearned to see this day.
Now my desire is crowned with success.
This day itself is crowned.
Now I want to reveal words in the presence of the Blessed Holy One;
all those words adorn my head like a crown.
This day will not miss its mark like the other day,
for this whole day is mine.
I have now begun revealing words
so I will not enter shamefully into the world that is coming.
I have begun! I will speak!
‘I have seen that all those sparks flash from the High Spark,
hidden of all hidden.
All are levels of enlightenment.
In the light of each and every level
there is revealed what is revealed.
All those lights are connected:
this light to that light, that light to this light,
one shining into the other,
inseparable, one from the other.
‘The light of each and every spark,
called Adornments of the King, Crowns of the King—
each one shines into, joins onto the light within, within,
not separating without.
So all rises to one level,
all is crowned with one word;
no separating one from the other.
It and its name is one.
‘The light that is revealed is called the Garment of the King.
The light within, within is a concealed light.
In that light dwells the Ineffahle One, the Unrevealed.
All those sparks and all those lights sparkle from the Holy Ancient One,
concealed of all concealed, the High Spark.
all those lights emanating—
there is nothing but the High Spark, hidden and unrevealed.’”
Rabbi Abba said,
“Before the Holy Spark finished, his words subsided.
I was still writing, intending to write more
but I heard nothing.
I did not raise my head:
the light was overwhelming; I could not look.
Then I started trembling.
I heard a voice calling:
‘Length of days and years of life.’
I heard another voice:
‘He asked you for life, and you granted it.’
“All day long, the fire in the house did not go out.
No one reached him; no one could:
light and fire surrounded him.
All day long, I lay on the ground and wailed.
After the fire disappeared
I saw the Holy Spark, Holy of Holies, leaving the world,
enwrapped, lying on his right, his face smiling.
“Rabbi El’azar, his son, rose, took his hands and kissed them.
As for me, I licked the dust from the bottom of his feet.
The companions wanted to cry but could not utter a sound.
Finally they let out a cry,
but Rabbi El’azar, his son, fell three times, unable to open his mouth.
Finally he opened and cried, ‘Father! Father!’”
Rabbi Hiyya rose to his feet and said,
“Until now the Holy Spark has looked after us;
now is the time to engage in honoring him.”
Rabbi El’azar and Rabbi Abba rose.
They carried him on a trundle made out of a gangplank—
Who has seen the companions’ confusion?—
and the whole house was fragrant.
They lifted him onto his bed;
only Rabbi El’azar and Rabbi Abba attended him.
Truculent stingers and shield-bearing warriors from Sepphoris
came and beset them.
The people of Meron banded together and shouted,
for they feared he would not be buried there.
After the bed emerged from the house, it rose into the air;
fire blazed before it.
They heard a voice:
“Come and enter!
Assemble for the wedding celebration of Rabbi Shim’on!
‘He shall enter in peace;
they shall rest on their couches.’”
As he entered the cave, they heard a voice from inside:
“This is the man who shook the earth, who made kingdoms tremble!
His Lord prides himself on him every day.
Happy is his portion above and below!
Many sublime treasures lie in store for him.
‘Go to the end and take your rest;
you will rise for your reward at the end of days.’”
EIN SOF is a place to which forgetting and oblivion pertain. Why? Because concerning all the sefirot, one can search out their reality from the depth of supernal wisdom. From there it is possible to understand one thing from another. However, concerning Ein Sof, there is no aspect anywhere to search or probe; nothing can be known of it, for it is hidden and concealed in the mystery of absolute nothingness. Therefore forgetting pertains to the comprehension of this place. So open your eyes and see this great, awesome secret. Happy is one whose eyes shine from this secret, in this world and the world that is coming!