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All Commandments Texts

Jewish Mysticism
Abraham Abulafia, ’Osar ‘Eden Ganuz (Jerusalem, 2000), p. 285.

Therefore, you must strive to discern the matter of the secret of the covenant of circumcision and the secret of the covenant of the tongue, which are two matters. The covenant of circumcision instructs about the human being who was uncircumcised at birth and by all accounts he must be circumcised. The covenant of the tongue also alludes to the fact that he was uncircumcised and he had to be circumcised. Thus these two covenants comprise Abraham and Moses. The father who brings into being the body is Abraham, from the organ, and the master that produces speech is Moses and this is the name. Accordingly, Abraham our patriarch and Moses our master were both pillars of the world. Analogously, the organ brings us to this world and the tongue will bring us to life in the world-to-come.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Circumcision, Secrecy, and the Veiling of the Veil- Phallomorphic Exposure and Kabbalistic Essotericism.” In The Covenant of Circumcision- New Perspectives on an Ancient Rite, pp. 58-70. Edited by Elizabeth W. Mark. Hanover and London- Brandeis University Press, 2003, from Abraham Abulafia, ’Osar ‘Eden Ganuz (Jerusalem, 2000), p. 285.

Joseph Gikatilla, Sha‘arei ’Orah.

Know that the covenant of circumcision is the secret of Sabbath, in the secret of cutting [the foreskin] (milah) and exposing [the corona] (peri‘ah), in the secret of “Remember (zakhor) the day of Sabbath” (Exod. 20-8) and “Guard (shamor) [the day of Sabbath]” (Deut. 5-12), “remember” for the day and “guard” for the night, corresponding to ’El Hai and ’Adonai. Since the covenant of circumcision comprises the covenant of these two sefirot, Scripture said, “Had it not been for my covenant day and night, I would not have established the laws of heaven and earth” (Jer. 33-25). … Know that the covenant, which is called day and night, is the secret of milah and peri‘ah, zakhor and shamor, ’El Hai and ’Adonai, the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, for they are the laws of heaven and earth, the one corresponding to the other. This is the secret of “Meditate on his Torah day and night” (Ps. 1-2), the day is the Written Torah, the secret of ’El Hai, the secret of zakhor, the secret of milah, and night is the secret of the Oral Torah, the secret of ’Adonai, the secret of shamor, the secret of peri‘ah. Therefore, the Torah is transmitted only to one who received the covenant of the flesh (berit basar), for through the covenant of the flesh one enters the covenant of the tongue (berit ha-lashon), which is the reading of the Torah.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Circumcision, Secrecy, and the Veiling of the Veil- Phallomorphic Exposure and Kabbalistic Essotericism.” In The Covenant of Circumcision- New Perspectives on an Ancient Rite, pp. 58-70. Edited by Elizabeth W. Mark. Hanover and London- Brandeis University Press, 2003, from Joseph Gikatilla, Sha‘arei ’Orah, edited by Joseph Ben-Shlomo (Jerusalem, 1981), 1-116.

Zohar 2-238b

He began his exposition, “This is the teaching regarding the burnt offering. This is the burnt offering” (Lev. 6-2). . . . The burnt offering (olah) is the ascent and the binding of the Community of Israel above, and her conjunction within the world-to-come, so that everything will be one [Cf. Zohar 2-239b]. The burnt offering is called the holy of holies, and therefore she is called olah, for she ascends and she is crowned, so that all will be unified in one joyous bond. On account of the fact that she ascends ever higher, it is written, “This is the teaching regarding the burnt offering,” zo’t torat ha-olah, the secret of male and female as one, the written Torah and the oral Torah. The burnt offering (ha‘olah), for she ascends within the world-to-come, to be bound within that which is verily called the holy of holies, and the burnt offering, too, is the holy of holies.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Fore/giveness on the Way- Nesting in the Womb of Response,” Graven Images- Studies in Culture, Law, and the Sacred 4 (1998)- 153-169.

Joseph Gikatilla, Sha’arei Orah, 2-59-61

On occasion this emanation (Binah) is called jubilee. I have already informed you that all types of freedom and redemption are dependent on this emanation. . . . When the lower emanations hold on to the emanation of the jubilee and draw down the efflux of her blessing below, then all types of freedom and redemption are found in all the emanations and in all things sustained by means of the emanation of Malkhut who receives the overflow of the blessing from them. Know that in a future time the righteous will ascend until they hold on to the emanation of Binah, which is the secret of the world-to-come. Then all types of destruction and all types of calamity will be liberated and redeemed. . . . The secret of Binah is called the jubilee because through it everything is liberated. The reason is that he who merits to be conjoined to her never sees any worry or any deficit . . . and he who is conjoined to the jubilee is redeemed, for there is nothing surrounding the jubilee that can be harmful. . . . And this emanation is called in the language of our rabbis, blessed be their memory, repentance. The reason is that the souls (neshamot) emanate from this place, the spirits (ruhot) from Tif’eret, and the souls (nefashot) from Malkhut, and they are all bound to one another to the point that they merit to be united in the emanation of Binah . . . and this is the secret of repentance. . . . Thus contemplate that repentance is the secret of the world-to-come. And after we have explained to you this great secret, we must again inform you of the order of the gradations of repentance. For everyone of Israel has a way of returning after he has been sold, “redemption shall be his and he will be released in the jubilee” (Lev. 25-31), and it says, “In the year of the jubilee, each man shall return to his holding” (ibid., 13). Through the secret of the emanation of Binah the soul can return and hold on to the place whence it was taken. This is [the meaning of] what is said, “each man shall return to his holding” (tashuvu ish el ahuzzato)—the expression of holding (ahizah).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Fore/giveness on the Way- Nesting in the Womb of Response,” Graven Images- Studies in Culture, Law, and the Sacred 4 (1998)- 153-169.

Joseph Gikatilla, Sha’arei Orah, 64-65

On account of his mercy and lovingkindness the Lord, blessed be he, instituted for Israel one day during the year to purify them from their impurities and to cleanse them, and he called it yom ha-kippurim. The reason it is called yom ha-kippurim in the plural is because these two emanations are united on that very day, the emanation of Binah and the emanation of Malkhut. Thus, the emanation of Binah purifies and cleanses every kind of filth and dirt that Israel bestowed on the emanation of Malkhut. When these two emanations are united to reverse [the judgments] to the merits of Israel and to purify their dirt, they are called accordingly yom ha-kippurim. Thus I will provide an allusion- “If your sins are like crimson, they will be whitened like snow” (Isa. 1-18). The supernal one is called Lebanon, and the lower one is garbed in a garment of crimson. Israel must transform the crimson garment into white, and therefore it is called yom ha-kippurim. . . . Since these two emanations, which correspond to one another in the secret of the supernal mother and the lower mother, are involved on this day in the purification of Israel, sexual intercourse is prohibited on Yom Kippur, even though it is permissible on Sabbaths and Festivals. The secret is known to those who know the esoteric lore. “And besides, she is in truth my sister, my father’s daughter though not my mother’s daughter; and she became my wife” (Gen. 20-12). This is the secret of its being called yom ha-kippurim. Understand this well.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Fore/giveness on the Way- Nesting in the Womb of Response,” Graven Images- Studies in Culture, Law, and the Sacred 4 (1998)- 153-169.

Zohar 1-219a

R. Isaac said- It is written, “as a happy mother of children, Hallelujah” (Ps. 113-9). The mother is known, but who are the children? R. Simeon said- It has been taught that the blessed holy One has two children, one male and the other female . . . and the mother hovers over them to nourish them. Thus it is written, “do not take the mother together with the children” (Deut. 22-6). It has been taught that people should not multiply their sins below for this results in the removal of the mother from her children. It is written, “She is your mother—do not uncover her nakedness” (Lev. 18-7). Wow to one who uncovers the nakedness! When people of the world repent and increase the merits before the blessed holy One, and the mother returns and covers her children, then she is called “repentance” (teshuvah). What is teshuvah? Teshuvah consists of the mother returning to her station, and then it is written, “as a happy mother of children,” the mother of the children most certainly. Therefore a person is not exempt from the obligation to procreate until he begets a son and a daughter.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Fore/giveness on the Way- Nesting in the Womb of Response,” Graven Images- Studies in Culture, Law, and the Sacred 4 (1998)- 153-169.

Zohar 3-15b-16a

R. Yose said- It is written, “The nakedness of your father and the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover” (Lev. 18-7), and it is written, “she is your mother—do not uncover her nakedness” (ibid.). It has been taught that she is certainly your mother. Thus if you uncover her nakedness, you must certainly restore her so that there will be repair. . . . It is written, “do not uncover,” for when the matter is repaired, it is repaired corresponding to the one who uncovers, and this is called teshuvah. R. Isaac said- All the sins of the world are connected to this until the point that the mother is revealed on account of them. When she is revealed all the children are revealed, and it is written, “do not take the mother together with the children” (Deut. 22-6). When the world below is repaired all is repaired until the repair rises to the holy mother, and she is repaired and concealed from that which has been uncovered. Thus it is written, “Happy is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered up” (Ps. 32-1). Then she is called teshuvah, teshuvah certainly, and then she is called yom ha-kippurim, as it is written, “from all your sins you will purified before the Lord” (Lev. 16-30). R. Judah said- When is she called teshuvah? When the mother is concealed and she exists in joy over the children, as it is written, “as a happy mother of children” (Ps. 113-9), and she returns to her position. The one that is closed returns to its place.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Fore/giveness on the Way- Nesting in the Womb of Response,” Graven Images- Studies in Culture, Law, and the Sacred 4 (1998)- 153-169.

Zohar 3-278a (Ra’aya Mehemna)

The one who returns in repentance is as one who restores the blessed holy One and the Shekhinah to their place, and this is the secret of redemption.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Fore/giveness on the Way- Nesting in the Womb of Response,” Graven Images- Studies in Culture, Law, and the Sacred 4 (1998)- 153-169.

Zohar 2-213b

“When one worships his Master in prayer with desire and the intention of the heart, his will cleaves [to the divine] like a flame to coal, to unify those lower heavens on the side of holiness, to crown them with one name below, and from there to unify those inner, supernal heavens, so that all will be one in that supernal heaven that stands over them.”

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Forms of Visionary Ascent and Ecstatic Experience,” in Gershom Scholem’s Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism 50 Years After 209-235. Edited by J. Dan and P. Schafer, Tubingen- J. C. B. Mohr, 1993.

Zohar 2-250a

It is written [“My beloved is like a gazelle or like a young stag; there he stands behind our wall] gazing through the windows” (Cant. 2-9). These exist so that he might see all those worshippers who come first to the Synagogue and are counted amongst the first ten [cf. b. Berakhot 47b]. Then they ascend and are written above for they are called comrades (haverim) in relation to Him, as it is written. “Lovers (haverim) are listening; let me hear your voice” (ibid., 8- 13). Happy are the righteous who know how to set their prayer as is appropriate, for when that prayer began to ascend they ascend by means of that prayer, and they enter all the heavens and all the palaces until the gate of the upper opening [i.e., the Shekhinah] and that prayer enters before the King to be crowned.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Forms of Visionary Ascent and Ecstatic Experience,” in Gershom Scholem’s Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism 50 Years After 209-235. Edited by J. Dan and P. Schafer, Tubingen- J. C. B. Mohr, 1993.

Zohar 2-136a

Souls ascend and souls descend to crown the holy people; on Sabbath eve there is a rotation of souls, some come and others go, some ascend and others descend…

So it goes until the [angelic] announcer rises and proclaims- “Sanctified! Sanctified!” Then rest is found and contentment for all. The wicked in Gehinnom are appeased in their places and they have repose. All the souls are crowned, the ones above and the ones below. Happy are the people who may partake of this!…

At midnight of Sabbath eve the wise are aroused to have their intercourse (mit’arin le shimusha dilhon) [in] the upper spirit in which they were crowned when the day was sanctified. When they are asleep on their beds and their other souls want to ascend to see the glory of the King, then that upper spirit that descended at [the inception of] Sabbath eve takes that soul and elevates it above. That other soul is cleansed by the aromatic fluids of the Garden of Eden, and there it sees what it sees. When it descends to rest in its place at midnight, that soul returns to its place. Those who are wise should say one verse for the arousal of that upper holy soul, the crown of Sabbath, e.g., “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me as a herald of joy to the humble etc.” (Isa. 61-1), “When those moved, these moved; and when those stood still, these stood still; and when these were borne above the earth etc.” (Ezek. 1-22), “Wherever the spirit impelled them to go, they went etc.” (ibid., 20), for they are crowned by that spirit in virtue of their arousal in the joy of intercourse, and the emanation of that upper spirit of Sabbath is in that devotional act of intercourse.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Forms of Visionary Ascent and Ecstatic Experience,” in Gershom Scholem’s Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism 50 Years After 209-235. Edited by J. Dan and P. Schafer, Tubingen- J. C. B. Mohr, 1993.

13th Century Ashkenazic text, “Sha‘are ha-Sod,” 154-155.

When the Temple stood He would show the place of His glory in His holy palace corresponding to the Temple…there is the assembly of angels who ascend and descend within it. And this is the gate of heaven. Thus the cherubim spread their wings above…facing the eyes of the king, for there He shows His glory to the angels. Similarly, the Temple in a state of our destruction is built to hold weapons and prayers. “My eyes and My heart shall ever be there” (1 Kings 9-3), for the angels who are appointed need a holy place, for according to them He decrees what is to be done. In the place that He discloses His glory, there He desires the will of the worshiper to be. Therefore, one must fix a place for one’s prayer. When a person bows down in the place where His glory is, the Creator is in His glory and He governs it according to His will to instruct the prophet about the will of the Creator….Within the image is the Creator who governs it….. In the place where David knew that He was occupied with hearing prayers, he said that the Temple should be built.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Sacred Space and Mental Iconography- Imago Templi and Contemplation in Rhineland Jewish Pietism,” in Ki Baruch Hu- Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Judaic Studies in Honor of Baruch A. Levine, 593-634. Edited by R. Chazan, W. Hallo, and L. H. Schiffman. Winona Lake- Eisenbrauns, 1999. This passage of Eleazar parallels the text attributed to Judah the Pious published in Dan, Studies in Ashkenazi-Hasidic Literature, 83.

Eleazar of Worms, Perushe Siddur ha-Tefillah la-Roqeah, 287.

Why did He command the phylacteries [to be worn] over the heart and between the eyes? This is a reminder of the ark, which is in the middle like the heart, and of the cherubim between whom [speaks] the voice [of God]. The phylacteries between the eyes, the countenance of the human, and this is [the import of] “the Lord’s name is proclaimed over you” (Deut. 28-10). Every person upon whose head are the phylacteries should consider it as if the Shekhinah were upon his head, for just as it is written by the phylacteries, “the Lord’s name is proclaimed over you,” it is written, “[the ark of God] to which the name was attached, the name Lord of Hosts enthroned on the cherubim’ (2 Sam. 6-2). Therefore, the phylacteries are on the head for “such a one shall dwell in the lofty heights” (Isa. 33-16).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Sacred Space and Mental Iconography- Imago Templi and Contemplation in Rhineland Jewish Pietism,” in Ki Baruch Hu- Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Judaic Studies in Honor of Baruch A. Levine, 593-634. Translation reflects a slight modification of the text according to MS Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale héb. 772, fol. 67b

Sefer Hasidim, par. 1585.

When a person prays the Shekhinah is opposite him, as it says, “I have set the Lord always before me” (Ps. 16-8). Even though it is written that the Lord is opposite him, he should not direct [his intention] except above to heaven. Since he does not know where the Temple is, he should think in his heart that through his prayer it is, as if, the glory were opposite him within four cubits, and its height extends above to heaven…even though the Creator is in everything, [the worshiper] must fulfill [the obligation by turning] toward His face, as it says, “Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord” (Lam. 2-19), for the creatures below must lift their souls and their hearts to heaven. Therefore, the heart of the worshiper faces above.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Sacred Space and Mental Iconography- Imago Templi and Contemplation in Rhineland Jewish Pietism,” in Ki Baruch Hu- Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Judaic Studies in Honor of Baruch A. Levine, 593-634.

Zohar 2-92b

“Remember” (zakhor) refers to the secret of the masculine, the secret of the masculine that takes all the limbs of the supernal world; “the Sabbath day” (’et yom ha-shabbat) to include the eve of Sabbath, which is the [attribute of the] night, and this is [the import of] “and keep it holy” (lekaddesho), for it is in need of holiness from the holy nation, and it is crowned through them, as is appropriate. “Remember” (zakhor), the place in which there is no forgetfulness and no forgetfulness exists in it, for there is no forgetfulness in the place of the supernal covenant, and all the more so above. There is forgetfulness below, the place that must be remembered, and concerning this it is written, “May [God] be ever mindful of his father’s iniquity” (Ps. 109-14). There are angels appointed there who recall the merits and sins of people, and there is no forgetfulness before the holy throne, [with respect to] what is before [the throne]. And who is before? [The attribute called] zakhor, and all the more so above, for everything is the mystery of the masculine. The secret of the holy name, YHW, is inscribed there, and [that which is] below needs to be sanctified, and it is sanctified through zakhor, for from that it takes all holiness and all blessings. And this occurs when the eve of Sabbath is crowned upon the holy nation, as is appropriate, through prayers, supplications, and hymns of joy.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Re/membering the Covenant- Memory, Forgetfulness, and History in the Zohar,” in Jewish History and Jewish Memory- Essays in Honor of Joseph Hayim Jerushalmi, 214-246. Edited by E. Carlbach, D. S. Myers, and J. Efron. Hanover and London- Brandeis University Press, 1998.

Moses Hayyim Luzzatto, ’Adir ba-Marom, p. 37

You must know that the essence of a person’s action is to direct his ways and his conduct for the sake of rectifying the Shekhinah…. A person must take upon himself the rectification of the Shekhinah, and this is called in truth the “reapers of the field.” The secret of the matter is that the mystical intent of all the acts of worship (‘avodah) that men perform for the Holy One, blessed be He, is that they constitute the working of the field (‘avodat ha-sadeh), and this is the esoteric significance of “a king is enslaved to the land” (melekh le-sadeh ne‘evad) (Eccles. 5-8), for just as there are many different types of work that pertain to the field, and all are necessary to bring about the improvement (tiqqun) that is required by it, so too the Shekhinah has such a need. These acts of labor are verily the miswot, for they, too, are of varied species. Thus it is written, “Though you take much seed out to the field, you shall gather in little” (Deut. 28-38), and it is also written, “You have been sowing, but have nothing to reap” (Micah 6-15). The secret of this is that the miswot act by way of planting, for the lights are sown in Nuqba’, which is the field. When the [time of] reaping has been reached, that is, to bring out of the Nuqba’ for those that are below, it says, “Sin couches at the door” (Gen. 4-7). Sitra’ ’Ahra’ grows stronger to take this light. If there is no one who knows how to harvest the field properly, the light does not spread forth so as not to be given to Sitra’ ’Ahra’ in the secret of “He has withdrawn His right hand in the presence of the foe” (Lam. 2-3). Yet, he who receives upon himself the matter of the rectification of the Shekhinah, he ascends to take the light from the place that Sitra’ ’Ahra’ does not reach and he brings it below. When it is taken from the man it is guarded, for all of the danger is in the dissemination from Malkhut to the humanity. And this is in truth the matter of the students of the academy of Rashbi, may be peace be upon him, constantly going out on journeys and studying the secrets, for this is verily the true way to perform this rectification. This is a matter that Rashbi taught them.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Tiqqun ha-Shekhinah- Redemption and the Overcoming of Gender Dimorphism in the Messianic Kabbalah of Moses Hayyim Luzzatto,” History of Religions 36 (1997) 289-332.

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