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All Visionary Experience Texts

Jewish Mysticism
Sefer Hasidim, § 978

The essential strength of pietism is that, even though [people] insult him, he does not abandon his piety, and his intention is directed to God and he does not look at women whereas others apart from him do look. Thus he merits the abundant goodness that is hidden and his eyes will be satiated by the splendor of the Presence, ‘when your eyes behold a king in his beauty’ (Isa. 33-17), [that is] whoever does not look at women in their nakedness or at a virgin, as it says, ‘[I have covenanted with my eyes] not to gaze on a maiden’ (Job 31-1)….Every one whose [sexual] impulse does not derive pleasure from lewdness will merit to see the splendor of the Presence in the future.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “The Face of Jacob in the Moon- Mystical Transformations of an Aggadic Myth,” in The Seduction of Myth in Judaism- Challenge and Response, 235-270. Edited by S. Daniel Breslauer. Albany- State University of New York Press, 1997.

Tikkunei Zohar, 1a

And the enlightened will shine like the splendor of the sky” (Dan. 12-3)- “The enlightened are R. Simeon and his colleagues; they were illuminated when they gathered to produce this composition. Permission was given to them and to Elijah who was with them, and to all the Souls of the [celestial] academy to descend amongst them, and to all the angels.

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 2-136b

When R. Hamnuna the Elder would come out of the river on Friday afternoon he would sit one moment, and raising his eyes in joy he would say that he sat there to see the gladness of the supernal angels, some ascending and others descending. Every Friday evening a person dwells in the world of souls (olam ha neshamot). Happy is the one who knows the secrets of his Master.

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.

Moses de Leon, “Sefer ha Mishkal- Text and Study,” Wijnhoven, 59 60

The secret of the splendor of the supernal light, the good that is hidden for the souls of the righteous, “no eye has seen, O God, but You” (Isa. 64-3). We must believe and know that the supernal Garden of Eden is the secret of the bundle of life, and the Holy One, blessed be He, desires that Garden constantly, and the souls of the righteous are bound there, and they enjoy its splendor. The splendor of the supernal Garden of Eden is nothing but the light of the splendor of the river that comes forth from Eden, which enters into it and bestows upon it the light and inner splendor from the secret of the world to come which is the supernal holy of holies of which it says “no eye has seen, O God, but You”.

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.

3th century Ashkenazic text, MS Oxford, Bodleian Library 1566, fols. 45a-b

The prophet sees in a vision all the decrees….”When I spoke concerning the prophets” (Hosea 12-11), it does not say “to the prophets” (’el ha-nevi’im) but “concerning the prophets” (‘al ha-nevi’im), I spoke to the angels so that they will show you everything and they will speak of everything. “For I granted many visions” (Hosea 12-11)…initially the glory speaks to the prophets and afterwards they see visions in order that they will know everything….And this is [the import of] “Words of him who hears God’s speech…and beholds visions [from the Almighty]” (Num. 24-16). By means of this “he obtains knowledge from the Most High” (ibid.), for the Creator manifests and images His thoughts that He wills to accomplish….. And this is [the meaning of] “When I spoke concerning the prophets” and afterward “I granted many visions,” for he knows by means of the visions the supernal mind, and afterward “”and through the prophets I was imaged.”….All that which He shows to the prophets is assimilated by their minds and He shows to their minds His will through speech, in a vision, and by means of angel….He manifests to the prophets the matter of the purpose that He wills to accomplish, “He revealed His design to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3-7).

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.

Eleazar of Worms, Hokhmat ha-Nefesh, 13b-c

The soul has no body, and it sees like an angel when it goes out from the body, and it has no shadow. Even the soul of the righteous sees through prophecy and in a vision since it contemplates all day long like Jacob, [of whom it says] “he had a dream, and behold there was a ladder” (Gen. 28-12). The [word] sullam [“ladder”] is numerically equivalent [to the expression] zeh kisse’ ha-kavod [“this is the throne of glory”] … The [word] sullam is numerically equivalent to [the word] qol [“voice”], for by means of the voice of prayer the angels ascend, and similarly the souls of the righteous rise in the voice of praise that is heard. … With respect to the matter of this world [it says] “When your eyes behold the king in his beauty” (Isa. 33-17), but in the future the righteous man shall see from all his sides like the supernal ones before and behind him … The soul of the righteous is bound beneath the throne of glory, and it delights in the vision of the glory from all the pleasures of the garden.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson, “Martyrdom, Eroticism and Asceticism in Twelfth Century Ashkenazi Piety,” in Jews and Christians in Twelfth Century Europe, 171-220. Edited by J. van Engen and M. Signer, Notre Dame- University of Notre Dame Press, 2001.

Moses de Leon, Shushan ‘Edut, pp. 363-364.

Whenever the rainbow is seen in the cloud, then the sign of the covenant is within her and the judgment vanishes from the world…. The secret is “I will remember My covenant” (Gen. 9-15), for there is no memory (zekhirah) without the sign of the covenant (’ot berit). Therefore they established the blessing [on the rainbow], “Blessed be the one who remembers the covenant” (zokher ha-berit), for then she contains all the colors that are seen within her from [the gradation that is called] the All. Thus, God, blessed be He, has mercy over the creatures and over the earth. Know that the secret of the matter of the rainbow and [that of] the covenant are joined together. Therefore, they established that it is forbidden for a person to look at the rainbow in order not to cause shame to the Shekhinah and not to look within her. Thus the prophet said, “Like the appearance of the bow (kemar’eh ha-keshet) that shines in the clouds on a day of rain, such was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. That was the appearance of the semblance of the glory of the Lord” (Ezek. 1-28).

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.

Simhah Bunem of Przysucha (1765-1827), Qol Simhah to Gen. 1-26 (Jerusalem, 1992), p. 3

[The word] ’adam (man) is derived from ’eddammeh [i.e., I will imagine]. After God made everything beautiful and glorious He wanted to display His actions so that one would see everything. But those who exist, apart from human beings, do not comprehend anything but themselves. God created man and he is the power that is comprised of the upper and lower realities which all can be imagined in the soul of a person. This is the essence of man that he sees, comprehends, and imagines, like no one else. This is [the import of] “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (kidemutenu), by the power of imagination (kaf ha-dimyon).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Heikhalot Rabbati, § 102.

Measure of holiness, measure of might,

an awesome and terrifying measure.

Measure of trembling, measure of shaking,

measure of terror, measure of panic,

of the garment of Zoharariel, the Lord of hosts, God of Israel,

[with which] He is wrapped when He comes to sit upon the throne of His glory.

And all over it is inscribed, outside and inside, YHWH YHWH.

The eyes of no creature can behold it,

neither the eyes of any being of flesh and blood nor the eyes of His servants.

The one who looks upon it, or glimpses or sees it,

his eyeballs are seized by pulsations,

and his eyeballs emit and send forth flames of fire,

and they kindle him and burn him up.

The fire that comes out of the man who looks kindles him and burns him.

Why?

Because of the appearance of the eyes of the garment of Zohrariel YHWH, God of Israel,
who is wrapped when He comes [to sit] on the throne of His glory. Pleasant and sweet is His beauty,
like the appearance of the beauty of the splendor of the glory of the eyes of the holy beasts, as it is said, “Holy, holy, holy,

the Lord of hosts.”

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994, from Schafer, Peter, Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur, Tubingen- J. C. B. Mohr, 1981, § 102.

Heikhalot Rabbati, § 159

Comely countenance, glorious countenance,

countenance of beauty, countenance of flames.

These are the faces of YHWH, God of Israel, when He sits on the throne of His glory…

The one who looks at Him is immediately torn asunder,

and the one who gazes upon His beauty is immediately poured out as if from a pitcher.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994, from Schafer, Peter, Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur, Tubingen- J. C. B. Mohr, 1981, § 159.

Heikhalot Rabbati, § 163

(I swear) by heaven and earth you will be blessed,

those who enter the chariot,

if you will say and declare to my children

what I do in morning prayer,

and in afternoon and evening prayer,

every single day and every single hour,

when Israel says before me “Holy.”

Teach them and say to them, Lift up your eyes to heaven,

which corresponds to your house of prayer,

when you say before me “Holy.”

For nothing else in all my world which I created

gives me such pleasure as that time

when your eyes are lifted towards my eyes,

and my eyes look into your eyes,

at the time when you say before me, “Holy.”

For the sound that issues from your mouth

at that time flows and rises before me like a pleasant scent.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994, from Schafer, Peter, Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur, Tubingen- J. C. B. Mohr, 1981, § 163.

Sefer Levush Malkhut, a text composed in 1566 by Obadiah Hamon, MS Oxford-Bodleian 1597, fols. 93a-b

Thus it seems that they did not ascend in body or soul, God forbid. Rather when they were below in their habitations, within the thoughts of their hearts (morashe levavam) which is the Pardes, they imagined in their minds divine matters until it seemed to them as if all these things were revealed before their eyes so that they saw them with their eyes. Each one in accord with the greatness of his intellect and the breadth of his heart comprehended what he comprehended concerning what is good and what is evil.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Judah Hayyat, commentary on Ma‘arekhet ha-’Elohut (Jerusalem, 1963), 96b

I say this may be the matter of the four who entered Pardes. Even though Rashi, blessed be his memory, explained this literally for they ascended heavenward by the power of the name which they mentioned, according to my humble opinion the Pardes is the thoughts of their hearts for they imagined in their minds divine matters until it seemed to them as if all these things were revealed before their eyes so that they saw them with their eyes.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Sefer Levush Malkhut, a text composed in 1566 by Obadiah Hamon, MS Oxford-Bodleian 1597, fols. 93a-b MS Oxford-Bodleian 1597, fol. 94a

After all this in my search for truth in books I found some things which contradict what is written above. For a person can ascend in body and soul to heaven, from sphere to sphere until the throne of Arabot. This is written according to the Angel the Maggid whose name is Azriel.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

1 Enoch 14-19-25

And I observed and saw inside it a lofty throne–its appearance was like crystal and its wheels like the shining sun… It was difficult to look at it. And the Great Glory was sitting upon it–as for his gown, which was shining more brightly than the sun, it was whiter than snow. None of the angels was able to come in and see the face of the Excellent and Glorious One; and no one of the flesh can see him–the flaming fire was round about him, and a great fire stood before him. No one could come near unto him from among those that surrounded the tens of millions (that stood) before him… Until then I was prostrate on my face covered and trembling. And the Lord called me with his own mouth and said to me, “Come near to me, Enoch, and to my holy Word.” And he lifted me up and brought me near to the gate, but I (continued) to look down with my face”.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

2 Enoch 22-1-4

And on the 10th heaven, Aravoth, I saw the view of the face of the Lord, like iron made burning hot in a fire and brought out, and it emits sparks and is incandescent. Thus even I saw the face of the Lord. But the face of the Lord is not to be talked about, it is so very marvelous and supremely awesome and supremely frightening. And who am I to give an account of the incomprehensible being of the Lord, and of his face, so extremely strange and indescribable?… Who can give an account of his beautiful appearance, never changing and indescribable, and his great glory? And I feel down flat and did obeisance to the Lord.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

2 Enoch 39- 1-6

As for you, you hear my words, out of my lips, a human being created equal to yourselves; but I, I have heard the words from the fiery lips of the Lord. For the lips of the Lord are a furnace of fire, and his words are the fiery flames which come out. You my children, you see my face, a human being created just like yourselves; I, I am one who has seen the face of the Lord, like iron made burning hot by a fire, emitting sparks. For you gaze into my eyes, a human being created just like yourselves; but I have gazed into the eyes of the Lord, like rays of the shining sun and terrifying the eyes of a human being. You my children, you see my right hand beckoning you, a human being created identical to yourselves; but I, I have seen the right hand of the Lord, beckoning me, who fills heaven. You, you see the extent of my body, the same as your own; but I, I have seen the extent of the Lord, without measure and without analogy, who has no end.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shim‘on ben Yohai, ed. J. N. Epstein and E. Z. Melamed (Jerusalem, 1955), p. 81.

Another interpretation- “YHWH is a man of war, YHWH is His name.” Because when the Holy One, blessed be He, was revealed at the sea He appeared as a young man making war. “YHWH is His name-” He appeared to them at Sinai like an old man full of mercy. “As I looked on, thrones were set in place” (Dan. 7-9). So as not to give an opportunity [for one] to say, “There are two powers in heaven.” Rather “YHWH is a man of war.”

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana, 4-4, pp. 65-66

“A man’s wisdom lights up his face” (Eccles. 8-1). R. Yudan said- Great is the power of the prophets who compare the image of the Dynamis above to a human image. “I heard a human voice from the middle of Ulai calling out” (Dan. 8-16). R. Judah ben R. Simeon [said]- There is another verse that is clearer than this- “and on top, upon this semblance of a throne, there was the semblance of a human form” (Ezek. 1-26). “And the strength of his face will change” (Eccles. 8-1). He changes from the attribute of justice to that of mercy with respect to Israel.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Pesiqta Rabbati 33, 155b.

I appeared to them in several images (demuyot). At the sea I appeared to them as a warrior doing battle as it is written “The Lord, the Warrior” (Exod. 15-3). And Sinai I appeared as an elder teaching Torah… At the Tabernacle I appeared to them as a bridegroom entering his chamber. This is [the meaning of] “what can I liken to You.” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel- Did I not appear to the prophets in many images… as it is written “I multiplied great visions and through the prophets I was imaged.”

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

’Aggadat Bereshit, 14, ed. S. Buber (Cracow, 1903), p. 30.

The Holy One, blessed be He, said, Certainly “I spoke to the prophets,” but “I multiplied visions,” for the prophecy of one was not like that of another. Amos saw Me standing… Isaiah saw Me sitting… Moses saw Me as a warrior… Daniel saw Me as an elder… Therefore it says, “through the prophets I was imaged.”

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Pesiqta Rabbati 21, 100b-101a

Another interpretation- “Face to face [the Lord spoke to you]” (Deut. 5-4). R. Levi said- In many images (demuyot) He appeared to them. To one He appeared standing, to another sitting; to one He appeared as a youth, to another as an old man. How is this? When the Holy One, blessed be He, was revealed at the Red Sea to do battle for His children and to punish the Egyptians, He appeared as a youth… When the Holy One, blessed be He, was revealed on Mount Sinai to give the Torah to Israel, He appeared as an elder… And similarly Daniel said, “As I looked on, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took His seat” (Dan. 7-9). R. Hiyya bar Abba said- If the son of a whore should say to you, “There are two gods,” say to him- I am He at the Sea, I am He at Sinai.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shim‘on bar Yohai, pp. 154-55

“And the people saw it” (Exod. 20-15). What did they see? They saw the great Glory (kavod gadol). R. Eliezer said- Whence do we know that the Israelite maidservant saw that which the greatest of prophets did not see? It is written, “And the people saw it.” What did they see? They saw the great Glory.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Wayyikra Rabbah, 20-10, p. 466

R. Tanhuma said- This teaches that they loosened [the covering of] their heads, their hearts became haughty, and their eyes feasted upon the Presence (we-zanu ‘einehem min ha-shekhinah). R. Joshua of Sikhnin said in the name of R. Levi- Moses did not feast his eyes upon the Presence, yet he derived pleasure from the Presence (neheneh min ha-shekhinah). He did not feast his eyes upon the Presence, as it says, “And Moses hid his face” (Exod. 3-6). Yet he derived pleasure from the Presence, as it says, “Moses was not aware that the skin of his face was radiant” (ibid. 34-30).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Tanhuma, ed. Buber, Bemidbar, 20

Thus you find that the whole tribe of Levi is very sparse. Why were they so few in number? For they looked upon the Presence… The Holy One, blessed be He, said- In this world they vanished on account of the fact that they looked at My glory, as it says, “man may not see Me and live.” However, in the world-to-come, when I return My Presence to Zion, I will be revealed in My glory to all of Israel, and they will see Me and will live eternally.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Pirqe Rabbi ’Eli‘ezer (Warsaw, 1852), 32, fol. 73b

R. Simeon said- When Isaac was bound to the altar he lifted his eyes and saw the Presence. But it is written, “man may not see Me and live.” In lieu of death his eyes dimmed when he got older, as it says, “When Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see” (Gen. 27-1). From here you learn that blindness is considered as death.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Bahodesh, 2, p. 211

They [the Israelites] said- Our wish is to see our king; one who hears is not comparable to one who sees. God said to him [Moses]- Give them what they have requested, “For on the third day the Lord will descend in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai” (Exod. 19-11).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Exodus Rabbah 29-3

R. Levi said- Israel asked two things of the Holy One, blessed be He–that they might see His glory (kevodo) and hear His voice. And they did see His Glory and hear His voice, as it is written, “The Lord our God has just shown us His majestic Presence, and we have heard His voice out of the fire” (Deut. 5-21).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Exodus Rabbah 23-15

R. Berechiah said- Observe the greatness of those who went down to the sea. How much did Moses have to beg and prostrate himself before God before he saw the [divine] image (ha-demut), as it says, “Let me behold Your glory” (Exod. 33-18). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him- “You cannot see My face” (ibid. 20). In the end God showed him a token of it, as it says, “as My glory passes by” (ibid., 22). The beasts who carry the throne do not recognize the [divine] image. When the time comes for them to sing their praises, they say- “Where is He? We do not know if He is here or somewhere else. Yet, wherever He may be, “blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place” (Ezek. 3-12).” Each and every one of those who came up from the sea could point with his finger and say- “This is my God, and I will glorify Him” (Exod. 15-2).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Tanhuma, Ha’azinu, 4

Why is it written, “Seek out His countenance continually” (1 Chron. 16-11)? This is to teach that the Holy One, blessed be He, at times is seen and at times not seen, at times heard and at times does not want to hear, at times responds and at times does not want to respond, at times can be sought and at times cannot be sought, at times is found and at times not found, at times is close and at times not close. How is this? He was seen by Moses, as it says, “The Lord spoke to Moses [face to face as one speaks to another]” (Exod. 33-11). Afterwards He was hidden from him, as it says, “Show me Your glory” (ibid. 18). And similarly He was seen by Israel at Sinai, as it says, “And they saw the God of Israel” (ibid. 24-10), and it says, “And the vision of the glory of the Lord” (ibid. 17). Afterwards He was hidden from them, as it says, “For you have seen no image” (Deut. 4-15), and it says, “You heard the sound of the words [but perceived no shape, nothing but a voice]” (ibid. 12).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Shabbetai Donnolo, Sefer Hakhmoni, pp. 6-8

“The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him; to them He makes known His covenant” (Ps. 25-14). It is written, “O Lord, there is none like You! You are great and Your name is great in power” (Jer. 10-6), and it is written, “Who can tell the mighty acts of the Lord” (Ps. 106-2). Who is capable of thinking the slightest bit about the great, mighty and awesome God, to comprehend His image (demuto), for even the beasts under the throne of glory and the seraphs above it, the ministering angels, the [angels called] ’er’ellim, and all the host of heaven cannot comprehend His image… Even the holy ones on earth, the prophets and seers with whom He has spoken did not comprehend or see His image as it is. Moses our master, who was the chief prophet and who spoke to Him mouth to mouth, requested to see the image of His face, but He did not heed him. As it is written, “Show me Your glory” (Exod. 33-18), and [God] responded to him, “You cannot see My face” (ibid., 20), and it says, “And the Lord said, ‘See there is a place near Me. Station yourself on the rock, and, as My glory passes by, etc.'” (ibid., 21)… From these verses we understand that Moses, may he rest in peace, requested from God only to see the image of His face as it is, but his prayer in this regard was not heard. Concerning that which the prophet Isaiah, may he rest in peace, said, “I beheld the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne [and the skirts of His robe filled the Temple] seraphs stood above Him etc. and one would call to the other etc.” (Isa. 6-1-3), even though it says “I beheld the Lord” he did not see the image of His face but he saw the throne. He did not see the glory of the Lord upon the throne but rather the skirts [of His robe] as the skirts of a coat. Thus we have learned that Moses saw the glory of His back standing and Isaiah saw in a vision His glory seated on a throne. From the vision of the throne and the seraphs standing above Him, he understood that [the throne] was that of God. He saw, however, the glory of His skirts which is the glory under His feet. When [the glory] was seen by Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel, [even though it is written, “And they saw the God of Israel], they saw only His glory which is under His feet by means of a sign and symbol (be-’ot we-siman), as it says, “And under His feet was the likeness of a pavement of sapphire” (Exod. 24-10). With respect to Ezekiel the prophet, even though he saw in his vision the beasts and the ophanim which were above the heads of the beasts… the image of God did not appear to him as it is, “for man may not see Him and live” (Exod. 33-20). [God] did not want to show him [the glory] except in the image of man, in an image which he was accustomed to seeing, so that he would not be frightened and startled from the appearance of His image, resulting in his sudden death. Thus [the glory] appeared to Adam, Cain, Abel, Enoch, Noah, the three Patriarchs, and to prophets and seers in the image of man… And to Daniel [the glory] appeared in the vision of the night in the image of man, as it is written, “As I looked on thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days was sitting etc. A river of fire etc.” (Dan. 7-9-10). From all these proofs we know in truth that there is no creature in heaven or earth who can contemplate in their mind the divine image (demut ha-’elohim).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Shabbetai Donnolo, Sefer Hakhmoni, p. 40

From the radiant splendor of His great and awesome light which cannot be fathomed and has no measure, He shines His splendor within the water. From the force of that splendor which He shone in the water a fire emerged, and from that fire He carved and hewed the throne of glory, the ophanim, the seraphs, the holy beasts, the ministering angels, and all the heavenly host.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Tradition attributed to Hai Gaon by Nathan ben Yehiel of Rome in his Talmudic lexicon, Sefer he-‘Arukh Aruch Completum, 1-14

This is explained in Hekhalot Rabbati and Hekhalot Zutarti. They [the mystics] would do certain actions, pray certain prayers in purity, make [theurgic] use of the crown, gaze upon the palaces, see the divisions of angels according to their position and palace after palace… They did not ascend on high but rather in the chamber of their heart they saw and contemplated (ro’in we-sofin be-hadre libban) as a person who sees and contemplates something clearly with his eyes, and they heard and spoke with a seeing eye (‘ein ha-sokheh) by means of the Holy Spirit. This is the explanation of R. Hai Gaon.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Otzar ha-Geonim, ed. B. Lewin, vol. 1- Tractate Berakhot (Jerusalem, 1931), Appendix, p. 3.

The Holy One, blessed be He, makes His glory visible to those who fear Him and His pious ones through an understanding of the heart in the image of an anthropos sitting, as it is written, “I saw the Lord seated upon His throne, with all the host of heaven standing to His right and left” (1 Kings 22-19), and it is written, “I saw God sitting on the high and lofty throne and the skirts of His robe filled the Temple” (Isa. 6-1). [The glory appears] as one that has feet, as it is written, “[They saw the God of Israel] and under His feet there was the likeness of a pavement of sapphire” (Exod. 24-10). It is clear to us that the vision spoken of here is a vision of the heart (re’iyat ha-lev) and not vision of the eye (re’iyat ha-‘ayin). It is impossible to say that an image (demut) of God is seen through a vision of the eye… It is possible to say that one sees through a vision of the heart the image of the glory (demut kavod) but not through an actual vision of the eye, for the verse states explicitly, “When I spoke to the prophets and spoke parables through the prophets,” u-ve-yad ha-nevi’im ’adammeh (Hosea 12-11). This indicates that [God] showed to every prophet an image (dimyon) that he could see.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Otzar ha-Geonim, ed. B. Lewin, vol. 7- Tractate Yevamot (Jerusalem, 1936), p. 314.

All the prophets saw [the glory] within the speculum that does not shine, and it seemed to them that they had seen a visible object. This is like an elderly man whose vision is dim and he sees what is low as if it were high and one [thing] as if it were two, and the like, but it is not so. This is what is written, “and spoke parables through the prophets,” u-ve-yad ha-nevi’im ’adammeh (Hosea 12-11), i.e., the vision that they saw was an image (dimyon) and not an actual [entity] (‘iqqar). Moses gazed upon the glory and the splendor of the Shekhinah through the speculum that shines from behind the Shekhinah. He requested [to see] more but it was not granted to him… The view of all is that no creature has been granted permission to see the splendor and the glory that is greater than the glory of the Shekhinah.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

For a slightly different version see Judah ben Barzillai, Perush Sefer Yesirah, p. 12

Judah ben Barzillai al-Barceloni, Perush Sefer Yesirah, pp. 31-32

The Creator, blessed be He forever, created a light and a great fire for [His] glory which is called the Holy Spirit as well as Shekhinah… no prophet can look at all upon the beginning of that great light… From the end of the light the Creator shows lights and sparks according to His will to His angels, seraphs, and prophets. At times these sparks and lights emerge from the end of the light whether for the angels or the prophets. There are occasions when they see the light in several images (dimyonot), visions or dreams, or a visible image (demut re’iyah) according to what God wills, as it is written, “and spoke parables through the prophets” (Hosea 12-11)… At times when God shows [the glory] He does so in the image of an anthropos [in the form] of fire or of the great light, and under his feet is a fiery and luminous throne… All the prophets knew that all the forms which they saw were created from light… When God gives strength to the prophet in his eyes and heart on account of his abundant sanctity, the Creator allows him to see something of the end of the light or the fire of the splendor of the Shekhinah, or some of the sparks that come out from the end of the light.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Judah ben Barzillai al-Barceloni, Perush Sefer Yesirah, pp. 34-35

Since [the other prophets] did not have the same capacity in their eyes and hearts as did Moses our master, [the glory] appeared to them from within these images (mar’ot), for they see their forms as the form of an anthropos. Sometimes they see them in the form of an elder and sometimes in the form of a youth. All these appearances are for them [mental] images (dimyonot) and not a [physical] vision (re’iyah). Just as there is no person in the mirror or glass [reflecting someone’s image] so there is no form of a person within those lights [that come forth from the created glory]. By means of those great lights which they [the prophets] see there appears to them within these forms a form of an anthropos glorious in power, in the great light and in strength. This comes to them on account of the weakness and feebleness of their eyes and hearts like a person whose vision is weak so that he sees that which is low as if it were high and that which is one as if it were two. Thus it is written, “and spoke parables through the prophets” (Hosea 12-11), for they are [mental] images and not a [physical] vision. But with respect to Moses, whose mind and heart were refined and whose eyes were brighter than all other people, the Holy One, blessed be He, showed him His splendor and His glory, which He created for the honor of His name, for it is greater than all the other lights which the prophets saw. [Moses] looked at the end of the splendor of the Shekhinah, which is the great created light, and he had the visual capacity to see it with an actual vision (re’iyah mamash) and not [through] visions, dreams or images. Therefore he saw, knew and discerned that there is no form of an anthropos there or any other [corporeal] form except the form of the splendor, the light, and the created great fire which is the form of the great light whose beginning no man can see.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Judah ben Barzillai al-Barceloni, Perush Sefer Yesirah, p. 39

The prophets gaze upon the splendor of the Shekhinah and know that all the lights and images that appear to them are created. They see within these visions (mar’ot) as if they saw forms of a man made from fire and the great light. It appears to them in several images (dimyonot) according to the times and the situation in which Israel finds itself. It appeared to Moses from within a thorn-bush for Israel was amongst the thorns, in a time of great distress. It appeared to Moses and Israel upon the [Red] Sea as a youth engaged in warfare, and in the desert during the giving of the Torah it appeared “like the pavement of sapphire” (Exod. 24-10), i.e., in the image of an elder sitting down. Thus it also appeared to Daniel regarding the future redemption in the form of an elder sitting down… The prophets saw these images for they saw the fires and lights created from the splendor of the Shekhinah. From these lights and flames they saw their image which is the image of the anthropomorphic form of the splendor and the great fire… each and every prophet according to his capacity and the capacity of [the people of] Israel who were with him at the time, and in accordance with his period and that of Israel in which they were. All the images of the glory of our Creator [were not seen] with an actual vision (re’iyah mamash), as it is written, “and spoke parables through the prophets” (Hosea 12-11). But Moses our master… saw with an actual vision the great splendor which is the end of the created Shekhinah. He did not see any image (demut) of the glory of our Creator within the light, but rather the end of the form of the great light which our Creator created for His glory. Thus it says concerning him, “the glory of the Lord appeared” (Exod. 24-17). [With (Moses) I speak mouth to mouth] “in a vision and not through riddles” (Num. 12-8). If you say that it is also written concerning all the other prophets, “I make Myself known to him in a vision” (ibid., 6), this vision (mar’eh) involved knowledge (yedi‘ah) and not actual sight (mar’eh mamash). The Creator showed them created lights for their capacity for knowledge and vision was not as refined as that of Moses. Images appeared to them from amidst the lights, but not in an actual vision. Moses our master saw the end of the great light, i.e., an actual vision of the light and not through images, riddles or [figurative] visions.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Judah ben Barzillai al-Barceloni, Perush Sefer Yesirah, p. 67

This vision that Zechariah saw was a visual image (dimyon mar’eh) and not an actual thing (mamash), but it was rather as if the Holy One, blessed be He, gave him power in his eyes and heart to see the measurement of Wisdom, which is the Torah… The Holy One, blessed be He, gave him power to see with his eyes as if he saw with a vision of his eyes and imagined in his heart a scroll 3,200 times greater than the whole world. Thus no human possesses knowledge to conjecture if the Holy One, blessed He, created the place of the Torah above the seven heavens in this measurement. [The Torah scroll] is an entity that is not [materially] real (beriyyah she-’eino mamash) as is the world, but is rather a form with measurements and dimensions in the manner that [the glory] was shown to Isaiah… The created world is an actually existing entity and thus [can be seen] with a vision of the eye (re’iyat ha-‘ayin), whereas the vision of the Torah is not [attained] by means of a physical vision but through a vision of the heart (re’iyat ha-lev).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Judah ha-Levy, Dîwân des Abu-l-Hasân Jehuda ha-Levi, ed. H. Brody (Westmead, England, 1971), 3- 5

In His tent He set His Presence,

and placed the visions for the prophets,

to look upon His image;

there is no form and no plan,

no limit to His understanding,

but only the visions [as they appear] in the eyes of the prophets,

like an exalted and elevated king.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Judah ha-Levy, Dîwân des Abu-l-Hasân Jehuda ha-Levi, ed. H. Brody (Westmead, England, 1971), 3- 6 (poem no. 5)

To behold Him the eye fails,

But from my flesh He is revealed to my heart.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Judah ha-Levy, Dîwân des Abu-l-Hasân Jehuda ha-Levi, ed. H. Brody (Westmead, England, 1971), 4- 145

Bless the Lord, O my soul [Ps. 103-1, and elsewhere], and join with the angels… Give her passage [Cf. Zech. 3-7] amongst the angels–in the dwelling of His servants and in the station of His angels, the servants of His kingdom, the messengers of His angelhood, and those who do His work… Gaze upon the Rock from which you have been hewn [Cf. Isa. 51-1] … Lift your eyes and turn your face to the pure candelabrum [Cf. Exod. 31-8, 39-37, Lev. 24-4] which is before the Lord, from whose light you will be illuminated… And the Lord will shine His countenace upon you [Cf. Num. 6-25] and spread His wings over you [Cf. Ezek. 16-8]… Then you will behold the resplendent light [Cf. Job 37-21] which darkness cannot dim.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

MS JTSA Mic. 1727, fols. 18a-b.

“And there in a cloud appeared the Presence of the Lord” (Exod. 16-10), in order that the glory that is within it would not be seen, as it says, “He made darkness His screen” (Ps. 18-12), “a cloud and thick darkness are around Him” (ibid. 97-2), i.e., surrounding the Holy One, blessed be He, there is a cloud and thick darkness. This is to say, the inner glory that is within it is not seen, even by his servants and messengers who are sent before Him, but the thick darkness itself is the transparent and translucent light, as the sages, blessed be their memory, said in the prayer, “[You appeared to them] in bright clouds,” and these are the sefirot. Their light in relation to His light is like the light of the candle in relation to the sun, and they are like a clear glass that shines and illuminates, showing to the eye what is within it. The tenth sefirah is the speculum that does not shine, and it is like a glass mirror, and the one who looks at it sees His image within it, and that which is within it is not seen outside it… Therefore this sefirah is called the cloud of glory, for the glory is concealed in it. The rabbis, blessed be their memory, called it the speculum that does not shine because of the glory that is hidden within it. When the Holy One, blessed be He, wills to talk to His prophets, this sefirah becomes filled from the inner glory, according to their level, and they hear the word, but the one who speaks is not seen by them for He is hidden within it.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Zohar 1-110b

When the lower splendor, Adonai [i.e., the tenth gradation or Shekhinah] joins with the supernal splendor, YHWH [i.e., the sixth gradation or Tif’eret] the hidden name [YAHDWNHY, i.e., the combination of the two names] is produced which the true prophets know and [by means of which] they [visually] contemplate the supernal splendor.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Zohar 1-103b

Zohar commenting on Prov. 31- 23, “her husband is known in the gates” (noda‘ ba-she‘arim ba‘lah)-
This refers to the Holy One, blessed be He, who is known and comprehended according to what one imagines in one’s heart (lefum mah di-mesha‘er be-libbeih), each one according to what one can comprehend through the spirit of wisdom, and according to what one imagines in one’s heart, so [God] is known in one’s heart. Therefore, [He] is known in the gates, in these imaginings, but no one can comprehend and know Him as He is.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

From the Geronese circle of Ezra and Azriel, 13th century. MS JTSA Mic. 8558, fol. 8b.

Neither something nor nothing is said about Him. Not something because He certainly is! And not nothing because the prophets saw Him as an elder and sometimes as a youth. At other times they saw only the glory… This is a wondrous form that no eye has seen. Even though the angels are created without matter and are emanated, He is hidden from them… But the sefirot that are proximate [to the divine] see Him… We know that everything is contained in Him, i.e., the sefirot are emanated and no separation is appropriate.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Isaac the Blind, translated from Scholem, Appendix to The Kabbalah in Provence, p. 5-6.

[T]he vision is the subtle and pure splendor [seen in accordance with] the comprehension of the one who receives… “their appearance was like lightning this refers to the subtlety and purity of the comprehension of the one who receives… the attribute [or measure] is that which is received by the separate realities [nifradim, i.e., the ontic realm beneath the sefirot], for the prophets saw the attributes in accordance with their comprehension and by means of their ability to receive they expanded their thought… for from that which he comprehends he can recognize that which he cannot comprehend. Therefore the potencies (middot) arose, for language can comprehend only that which comes out from Him, since a man cannot comprehend the potency of the [divine] speech and the letters (middat ha-dibbur we-ha-’otiyyot) but only the potency [of language] itself (middatah be-‘asmah). There is no potency outside the letters. All the sublime potencies are given to be meditated upon (le-hitbonen), for each potency receives from the potency above it, and they are given to Israel, to contemplate from the attribute seen in the heart, to contemplate to the Infinite.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Azriel of Gerona, cited from Scholem, “The Concept of Kavvanah,” pp. 172-173, with some slight modifications.

Whoever fixes a thing in his mind with complete firmness, that thing becomes for him the principal thing. Thus, when you pray and recite benedictions, or (otherwise) wish to direct the intention to something in a true manner, then imagine (dimmah) that you are light and all about you is light, from every direction and every side, and in midst of the light a stream of light, and upon it a brilliant light, and opposite it a throne and upon it a good light… Turn to the right and you will find pure light, to the left and you will find an aura which is the radiant light, between them and above the light of glory, and around it the light of life. Above it is the crown of light that crowns the objects of thoughts, illumines the paths of ideas, and brightens the splendor of visions. This illumination is inexhaustible and unending, and out of its perfect glory come grace and blessing, peace and life for those who keep the path of its unity.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Iyyun Circle, 13th century. MS Munich 54, fol. 288a.

What is the essence of the Creator? He is a living essence that is compared to the appearance of the image of the soul and its form, i.e., the shape of the anthropos but it is spiritual like the brain or ether that is a form and not a body. The Holy One, blessed be He, is similar to this, He may be compared and yet He is incomparable. Heaven forfend, He has no image or form, but rather the image of His intellect is like a soul that is imagined (mesuyeret) in the shape of a body (binyan ha- guf); thus He takes shape in the sefirot. The one who wishes to understand this should think about the subtlety and the essence (ha-daqut we-ha-mahut), but not (corporeal) substance (ha-mamashut). Further, the Holy One, blessed be He, overflows to all the sefirot, and all the sefirot draw from His power, and He is seen through the intermediaries, but He is elevated and exalted above them, for there is no limit to His exaltation. This is [the import of] “there was the semblance of a human form” (Ezek. 1-26), and not an actual human.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Ezra ben Solomon, Kitve Ramban, 2-487.

Israel gazed (mistakkelin) upon the Presence like one who imagines (medammeh) his friend and says, “This is the one.” In that manner Israel gazed upon the Presence, and imaged (mar’im) her, saying, “This is my God, and I will glorify Him” (Exod. 15-2).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Zohar 3-280b

This vision [i.e., Shekhinah] is comprised of the ten sefirot … she has several visions (hezyonot), images (dimyonot) and forms (mar’ot ), and everything is known by the intellectual eye of the heart (‘ein ha-sekhel de-libba’), concerning which it is said, “the heart knows, the heart understands.” Concerning that which is said, “and through the prophets I was imaged,” the image (dimyon) is in the intellect of the heart (sekhel de-libba’) and not an image of the eye (dimyon de-‘eina’).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Abraham Abulafia, MS JTSA Mic. 1737, fol. 33b.

And so there are angels when an individual mentions their names he must focus on them by means of the imaginative faculty, and imagine them in the form of human beings, their faces are faces of flame, and their whole bodies a raging fire, some are white fire, some green fire, and some red fire, it is all according to the imagination from which they derive. Similarly, in mentioning some of the names [of God] one must intend certain known intentions. There is a name concerning which one must concentrate that its letters are written before him in red fire or green or white, or in the likeness of gold or silver, and there are some letters that were infinitely enlarged. Each one is in accordance with what is needed in that particular matter, and according to the attribute which is drawn from it. Permission has not been given to write all this explicitly, lest it come to someone who is not worthy and he will destroy the world.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Eleazar ben Moses Azikri (1533-1600), Milei de-Shemaya by Rabbi Elazar Azikri, ed. M. Pachter (Tel-Aviv, 1991), p. 103.

You should constantly see your Creator with the eye of your intellect, for “the Lord looks down from heaven on mankind to find a man of understanding (maskil), a man mindful of God” (Ps. 14-2). That is, with the eyes of his intellect he seeks Him, and when he sees Him it makes an impression, as in the case of the ostrich, for by means of looking well at her egg the ostrich is formed and takes shape within it, and [the egg] breaks open and [the ostrich] comes out. So too with respect to God when He looks at you He causes all kinds of bountifulness and blessings to flow upon you. Thus it says, “all your males shall appear” (Deut. 16-16). The [rabbis] interpreted [the word] yera’eh [appear] as yir’eh [will see], for just as a man comes to be seen (lera’ot) so he comes to see (lir’ot). For the masses of people this occurs on the three festivals of the year in the time of the Temple, but for the enlightened ones (maskilim) [this occurs] on a regular basis, every day, at any time, in every place. When you look heavenward with the intention of the heart the arousal of the will of every will will be stirred, blessed be He and blessed be His name forever and ever.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Hayyim Vital, Sha‘are Qedushah (Jerusalem, 1983), pt. 3, ch. 5, pp. 89-90.

The Holy Spirit (ruah ha-qodesh) rests on a person when he is awake, when the soul is in his body and does not leave it [as in sleep]. But [the prophetic state involves] the matter of separation [of the soul from the body], for he removes [from his mind] all [mundane] thoughts entirely. And the imaginative faculty in him, which is a faculty that derives from the elementary animal soul, prevents him from imagining or thinking about any matter pertaining to this world as if his soul left him. Then his imaginative faculty transforms his thoughts such that he imagines that he ascends to the upper worlds to the roots of his soul… and the forms of all the lights will be inscribed in his thought as if he imagined and saw them as is the way of the imaginative faculty to imagine in his mind things of this world even though he does not [actually] see them… The [divine] light and influx reaches the rational soul that is in his body, and from there it reaches the vital soul and the imaginative faculty that is within it. And there these [spiritual] matters assume a corporeal form in the imaginative faculty so that [the prophet] can comprehend them as if he actually saw them with the [physical] eye (we-sham yistayyeru ha-‘inyanim ha-hem siyyur gashmi be-khoho ha-medammeh we-’az yevinem ke-’illu ro’eh ’otan be-‘ayin mamash).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Judah the Pious, a commentary on the prayer ‘Aleynu.

The Creator places in the heart of the prophet a vision (hezyon), and the Creator governs that image (dimyon)… Within the image the Creator directs the image according to what He wills to do so that the prophet will know the supernal Mind (da‘at ‘elyon) and bow down to Him and believe in Him. Thus he is bowing down to the Creator. It is written, “And they saw the God of Israel and under His feet etc.” (Exod. 24-10). The Creator is in that very image, and governs the image in accordance with what He wills… and that image is not separate from the Creator, blessed be He.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Eleazar of Worms, Sefer ha-Shem, MS British Museum 737, fol. 320b

The Creator is outside the images (mar’ot) and within them.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Eleazar of Worms, Hilkhot ha-Kavod, MS Oxford-Bodleian 2575, fol. 3a

Since it is written ‘For I fill both heaven and earth’ (Jer. 23-24), why does one need to pray in a Synagogue or in the Temple? Yet, there is a place in which the Holy One, blessed be He, shows the created glory to the prophet according to the need of the hour. One might ask- how can one bow down to something created? And consider these verses- It is written, ‘For I granted many visions, and through the prophets was imaged’ (Hosea 12-11). How could it be said, ‘Yet my own eyes have beheld the King Lord of Hosts’ (Isa. 6-5) when it is written ‘no man shall see Me and live’ (Exod. 33-20)? Rather the [vision] is nothing but a wonderful image (dimyon) and it appears as if he actually saw but it is nothing but a strong image. It is written, ‘upon this semblance of a throne there was the semblance of a human form’ (Ezek. 1-26); so too here [in the case of Isaiah] it is only an image.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Eleazar of Worms, MS Paris BN 772, fol. 90a.

A person should not think only about the glory that appears opposite the exalted throne but rather about the the Creator of all who manifests His glory to those who are righteous in their hearts, for He is one and nothing resembles Him, blessed be He, and thus He ‘is near to all who call Him’ (Ps., 145-18). Therefore they established [in the formulation of blessings] ‘Blessed are You, Lord,’ like he who speaks mouth to mouth to one standing opposite him, as it says, ‘I have placed the Lord before me always’ (Ps., 16-8).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Anonymous text from the German Pietists, MS JTSA Mic. 1878, fol. 108b

The essence of intention is in the first three blessings [of the eighteen benedictions] for they are the praise of the Creator, blessed be He. When a person says, “Blessed are You, Lord,” he should not think about the glory seen by the prophets as it appears on the throne, but rather about the Lord who is God in the heavens above, without limit, whose place is hidden and concealed. For with respect to the visible glory (ha-kavod ha-nir’eh) the throne of glory is created to indicate to the prophets that there is a God. But with respect to Him there is no sitting and no image at all. It seems to me that one should also not pray to the hiding-place of his glory (hevyon ‘oz), but rather to the great light (ha-’or ha-gadol), concerning which it is written, “for no man shall see Me and live” (Exod. 33-20), and within it are comprised the glory and strength, “God is the Lord,” blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Eleazar of Worms, MS Paris, BN 772, fol. 49a

Commenting on the passage in the morning liturgy, “David blessed the Lord in front of all the assemblage; David said, Blessed are Yo

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