Sunday, November 27, 2011

Toldot – The Supernal Unions and the Light of Chanukah

There are three Supernal Unions between the Cosmic Woman (Nukva) and the Cosmic Man (Zeir Anpin). The lower one is the union of the six directions of the body, higher than that is the union of the Intellect, and the highest is the union of the Crown, or Will.

The explanation of it is that the Cosmic Woman starts out young and grows. At first, she reaches only the six directions of the body, and that is a relatively light union, which we help achieve in the Amidah prayer said quietly, in whisper. This is the union of the letters of the names of God Havaya (יהוה) and Adonai (אדני). Together their gematria is 26 + 65 = 91.

When she grows up more and comes in contact with the intellect, or the brain of the Cosmic Man, she herself gets the name of Elohim. This is the union of the names of God Elohim (אלהים) and Havaya (יהוה). We help achieve it in the repetition of the Amidah prayer by the one who leads it. Their gematria is 86 + 26 = 112.

Finally, when she grows to the full height of the Cosmic Man, she comes in contact with his Crown, or his Will, and this is the union of the names Havaya (יהוה) and Ehyeh (אהיה) - I will be. Together they constitute 26 + 21 = 47.

The gematria of the three unions together is 250 (91 + 112 + 47. This 250 can also be written as נר, or the letters nun-resh, which means light, or candle, and this is the light of Chanukah. Now there is a rule that Shabbat candles are lighted before the Chanukah candles. As we have seen, on Chanukah the Cosmic Woman grows to her full height through the light of Chanukah. However, on Shabbat she achieves this by herself, being "in the bosom of her husband," and that is why it is better to light the Shabbat candles before the Chanukah ones.

How late can one light the Chanukah candle? While “the foot has not disappeared from the street' – that is, while there are still people passing by who can see the candles. The gematria of the word foot, “regel” (רגל) is 200 + 3 + 30 = 233. This is the same as the two names of God, one of 72, the expansion of yud-hey-vav-hey with letters yud (יוד הי ויו הי), and another of 161, the expansion of Ehyeh (אהיה) with yud (אלפ הי יוד הי), and 233 = 72 + 161. Once the Cosmic Woman reaches that highest union, hinted to by the phrase "until the foot disappears," this means that the lower unions are already in place, and all external influences are subdued.

Art: Godfried Schalcken - A Lady holding a Candle

Friday, November 18, 2011

So who wrote the Zohar?

There are unusual references in the Zohar to Sages who came much later than Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. There are mentions of Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish, who lived a few hundred years later, and even to the Sages called Geonim (geniuses) who lived almost a thousand year after Rabbi Shimon.

Here are some explanations that I've read at 5:30 AM, a very right time for such things, waiting to board the plane back to Houston.

After Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his students died and entered Gan Eden, they kept a running commentary on the Zohar, adding to it as they saw fit. The book was in the possession of a few select Sages, but they kept discovering new things in it. This is no doubt real magic, but why this should not be the case, since they were all wizards during their lifetimes? (Mikdash Melech)

Rabbi Shimon kept revealing secrets to his students after his death. That is the “later composition” as opposed to “first composition” mentioned in the Zohar. The parts about the later Sages were added when these Sages were already living (Sichot HaRan, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov).

Rabbi Abba, who was tasked by Rabbi Shimon with writing down the teaching, lived for 300 years. He transmitted the book to Rav, when Rav traveled to Babylon, where he revealed it to select Sages, and later it came into the hands of the Geonim. They kept adding commentaries into the text, because the nature of the teaching is that it is a living book (some find problems with this explanation, because of the lack of attributions).

The complete Zohar was authored by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, no excuses, but he knew the future and wrote the teaching of the Sages who were to come later. For Rabbi Shimon, there was no difference between the past and the future, and he quoted from both (Rabbi Chaim Vital). (My commentary: it was important for the book to be hidden all this time, because it should not exert undue influence on future events that are described in it.)

These explanation are from the book “Shaarei Zohar” by Rabbi Daniel Frisch, who in his translation of the Zohar called “Matok MiDvash” (Sweeter Than Honey) prefers the practical explanation, and marks stories from later time (such as those of Rabba bar bar Channah) as external additons.

Art: Louis Charles Moeller - Stubborn

Monday, November 14, 2011

Vayera – Bring Joy to Father and Gladden Mother

God appeared to Abraham in the Plains of Mamre...

The only improvement and correction that we need to do in the world is to help the Cosmic Man (Zeir Anpin) and the Cosmic Woman unite – since all of the good influences and our souls themselves come to us from them, and they are our Father and Mother. As Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai explained, “Your father will rejoice and your mother will be glad” is talking about the Holy One Blessed Be He and the Community of Israel.

As Rabbi Shimon warns, we should have no doubt about the unity of God, even when we learn about different spiritual entities, but understand that they are God’s ways of interacting with us, and creating ways for us to reach out to God. Thus, the "Holy One Blessed Be He" refers to that manifestation of God called the Cosmic Man, whereas God himself cannot be determined or grasped at all, and is instead called “Ein Sof” or “No End”.

The Cosmic Man and Woman achieve unity only at specific times and through our efforts, but the Supernal Father and Mother are higher entities who never separate from each other. However, even that is not exactly true. The verse about sending away the mother bird, “You will send away, send away the mother” is in the spiritual sense talking about the Cosmic Woman and the Supernal Mother, and both are at times separated from their male counterparts. Rather, there are two categories of the supernal union, and it is the higher one that never stops. Thus, out task is to make all spiritual entities ready to be united. The essential step of bringing about the supernal union was Abraham’s circumcision, prior to which the union was prevented. That is reflected in the names of Abraham’s confederates. The letters M-N-Z-P-CH represent the judgement that needs to be sweetened, and it was Mamre, whose name has the same gematria, who gave Abraham the advice.

Art: Tivadar Kosztka Csontváry - The Lovers Looking at Each Other

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lech-Lecha – Three Unions

I will make you into a great nation.

Previously we discussed how Abraham was able to create joy in the Universe, and how his name hints at the union of the spiritual Cosmic Man (Zeir Anpin), and Cosmic Woman, which he helped achieve.

With the giving of the Torah, the opportunities for such unions became more readily available. They are achieved, in different fashion, on New Moon, Rosh HaShana, and on Three Holidays. Abraham was able to achieve this in his days, but since his own main characteristic was kindness, it followed that he supplied mostly Kindness to the union, and the Cosmic Man, who benefited from it, grew mostly in his Wisdom, which is connected to Kindness. That is what God told Abraham, “I will make you into a great nation,” emphasizing “you” personally, with your unique qualities.

Isaac, too, was able to achieve this union, and his contribution came from Strength, which was his main part, resulting in the Cosmic Man's growing in Understanding, which is connected to Strength. However, something new happened in the days of Jacob. His quality was that of Balance, which is alternatively called Beauty, Truth, and Completeness. His bed and progeny was complete (twelve tribes), and he was able to reconcile Kindness with Strength. For the Cosmic Man it meant that Knowledge was added to his brain. The balance was greater than the some of its part, because now a complete whole could emerge.

Nevertheless, it was Abraham, who received an extra letter “hey” in his name, and his “hey” hints at Understanding, “Binah,” which is mostly responsible for the Cosmic Man's maturity. Its lower-level manifestation starts in Victory, Glory, and Foundation, which in a human body correspond to the right leg, the left leg, and reproductive organs, and from there the Understanding proceeds to the brain. That is why, after Abraham merited to arouse the Upper Union, he was given the letter “hey” in his name. In truth, Isaac and Jacob did not heed an extra letter manifestly, because they already received this influence from Abraham.

Art: Frederic Bazille - Family Reunion