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Joseph Gikatilla, Sha‘arei ’Orah II

Jewish Mysticism
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.

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