All Creation Texts


From Azriel of Gerona, The Path of Faith and the Path of Heresy

If a person asks you, “What is the Creator?” you should respond to him, “He who is not deficient.” If he asks you, “Is there anything outside of Him?” you should say, “There is nothing outside of him.” If he asks you, “How did He bring forth something from nothing? Is there not a great difference between something and nothing?” you should say, “I have already told you that the one who brings forth something from nothing is not deficient, and that the something is in the nothing in the manner of the nothing, and the nothing is in the something in the manner of the something. Of this it has been said [in the book sefer yetzirah] “He made is-not is,” and they did not say, “He made something from nothing,” in order to teach you that the nothing is the something and the something is the nothing… For the something is not from the nothing alone, but rather the something and the nothing. The something and the nothing are together, and the something is none other than the nothing, and everything is one in a complete equivalence… If someone asks you if the Creator, may He be blessed, is equivalent to all, you should reply to him, “more than all, for that that which is primordial does not come before Him, for he brought something forth from nothing, and He is equivalent to all for there is nothing outside of him, not in something and not in nothing, since the Creator is the root that is equivalent to all. The path of faith and the path of heresy are equivalent at the point of the connection of is-not to is.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 1-15a

At the beginning of the will of the King, He engraved engravings in the supernal luster, a hardened flame, and there went forth from the concealed of concealed, from the head of the endless (ein sof), bundled in vapor, set in a ring, not white, not black, not red, not green, no color at all. When He measured the span, He created colors to shine within. Within the flame, there went forth one flow from which colors were imbued below. Concealed with all concealment of the secret of ein sof, His light broke and did not break through its aura. It was not known at all until, from within the force of its bursting through, there shone forth a single concealed supernal point. Beyond this point, nothing is known, and because of this, it is called “beginning,” the first utterance of all.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 3-80b

R. Isaac said- When the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world and wanted to reveal the depth out of the hiddenness and the light from within the darkness, they were contained within one another. Therefore out of darkness emerged the light and out of the hiddenness emerged and was revealed the depth. One emerged from the other. . . . And all things were contained one with another, the good inclination and the evil inclination, right and left, Israel and the nations, white and black. All things were dependent on one another.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Light Through Darkness- The Ideal of Human Perfection in the Zohar,” Harvard Theological Review 81 (1988)- 73-95.

Zohar 2-20a

Rabbi Shimon said, woe to those creatures who do not take heed and do not know that at the time when it arose in thought before the Holy One, blessed be He, to create His world, all of the worlds arose in a single thought, and with this thought they were all created, thus it is written, “[How great are your works, oh Lord], you have created them all with wisdom…” (Psalms, 104-24). And with this thought, which is wisdom, was created this world and the world above. He cast forth His right hand and created the world above. He cast forth his left hand and created this world. Thus it is written, “Even my hands have established the earth, and my right had has stretched forth the heavens; when I call to them, they stand together” (Isaiah, 48-13). All of them were created at one moment. And He created this world to correspond to the world above, and everything that is above, such is its image below.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Eleazar.of Worms, Sode Razzaya, 19

“The throne of His glory is in heaven above.” Therefore, we direct our hearts to our Father in heaven. If the world had not been created, the throne would not have been possible nor would the presence of His strength in the exalted heights have been possible. Without human beings there would be no throne, for the throne of glory has a circumference and boundary, but the Creator, blessed be He, has no boundary or limit, and the throne has a surrounding limit. Since He desired to create human beings, it was necessary to create the world, and since it was necessary to create the world the heaven was necessary and upon it was His throne of glory, that is, so that they would bow down toward heaven. The Creator is in one place just as He is another. He is below just as He is above…. If this is so, then why should one direct one’s heart to heaven? In order to show His creatures to where their hearts should be directed, when He created the world it was necessary to set up a throne in heaven.

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.

Shabbetai Donnolo, Sefer Hakhmoni, pp. 32-33

We have learnt that two thousand years before the creation of the world the Holy One, blessed be He, played around with the twenty-two letters of the Torah and He combined and rotated them and made from all of them one word. He rotated [the word] frontwards and backwards through all the twenty-two letters. … All this the Holy One, blessed be He, undertook for He wanted to create the world by means of His word and the epithet of the great name.

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

13th century, MS JTSA Mic. 2469, fol. 146a.

The secret of “it arose in [His] thought to create”- it is alluded to here in the beginning of the Torah and the outset of the order of letters that the word create (bara’) connotes image (siyyur)… this is not to say that it is in something real or in nothing, but rather it is something that comes forth from nothing but has not yet attained [a state of] being, like an image on the wall. Thus it is the way of people to say, “I have formed an image of something in my thought.”

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

Zohar 1-246b

Come and See. Thought is the beginning of all. And since it is thought, it is within, concealed, and not known. When this thought spreads forth more, it comes to the place where spirit dwells, and when it arrives at that place, it is called binah [understanding], and then it is not as concealed as before. And even though it is concealed, this spirit spreads out and brings forth a voice, comprised of fire, water, and spirit, and these are North, South, and East, and this voice is the principle of all other powers. And this voice articulates into speech, and this gives a word [milah, also read as ‘thing’] in adornment, since the voice is sent from the place of spirit, and it comes to speak a word, and to bring forth words of joy. And when one looks into the levels, He is thought, He is understanding, He is the voice, He is the speech, and all is one. And that very thought is the beginning of all, and there is no separation, but rather, all is one, and one connection. And that thought is really [mammash] connected to the nothing [ayin], and they are never separated. Thus it is written, “On that day the Lord will be one and His name one” (Zechariah, 14-9).

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Hayim Vital, Liqqutim Hadashim, pp. 17-18.

In this manner was the contraction of the light that gathered above as the place remained vacant. Then all the coarseness and thickness of the judgment that was in the light of Ein-Sof as a drop in the great ocean is clarified and separated, and it descends and is gathered in that vacated space, and an amorphous mass (golem) is made from the coarseness and thickness of the aforementioned power of judgment. This amorphous mass is surrounded by the light of Ein-Sof from above, below, and the four sides, and from this amorphous mass there emanated the four worlds. In his simple will to actualize his intention, the supernal emanator returned and caused a little of the light, which he withdrew at first, to go down upon the amorphous mass, but not all of it. Thus only a small portion of it went down, and this is the yod, in the manner of the shell preceding the kernel. The reference to the shell is explicable in terms of what Rashbi said that this is the core in relation to that and this is the shell in relation to that. That is, from the thickness and density of the power of judgment the mass is produced and from that the vessels are made afterward, and this is the secret of the land of Edom.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Divine Suffering and the Hermeneutics of Reading- Philosophical Reflections on Lurianic Mythology,” in Suffering Religion, 101-162, Edited by R. Gibbs and E. R. Wolfson. New York and London- Routledge, 2002.

Zohar 1-16b

“And the Lord said ‘let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1-3). From here is the beginning for finding hidden things, how the world was created in particular. For until this point, it [the text] was [speaking] only in general terms, and it then returns to speaking in general terms [after this passage] so that it will be general, specific, general. Until this point everything was suspended in the air from the secret of ein sof. Once its strength spread forth into the upper palace, the secret of Elohim, ‘utterance’ is written, “And God [Elohim] said,” for above utterance is not written in particular, even though “In the beginning” is an utterance, it does not say, “and He said.” This, “and He said,” is susceptible to questioning and knowledge. “And He said,” a power that raised and lifted up silently, from the mystery of ein sof, in the mystery of thought. “And the Lord said,” now the palace gives birth, of that which she conceived from the holy seed, and she gives birth silently, and that which was born was heard from without, and the one giving birth gave birth silently and was not heard at all; once that which went forth from it went forth, a voice was made that was heard from without. “Let there be light.” Everything that emerged went forth from this secret. “Let there be,” in accordance with the secret of the Father and Mother, Yah, and then after, it returned to the primordial point, in order to be the beginning to spread forth to something else; light. “[And the Lord said ‘Let there be] light,’ and there was light,” light that already was. This light is a concealed secret, an emanation spreading forth and rupturing [‘itbaka] from the mystery of the concealment of the supernal concealed aura. It ruptured in the beginning, and it brought forth one concealed point from His mystery, for ein sof ruptured His aura, and revealed this point, yod. And once this yod spread forth, what remained, light [or], was substantiated from that secret of that concealed aura [avir]. Once there was substantiated from it the primordial point, yod was revealed. After, it touched it and did not touch it. Once it was emanated, it went forth, and this is the light [or] that remains from the aura [avir], and thus, the light that already was. And thus it endured and went forth and ascended and was hidden, and there remained one point from it, in order to reach it continuously in a concealed way. It touches and does not touch that point. It illuminates it by way of the primordial point that went forth from it, and because of this, everything is united with everything else, illuminating one another. When all ascends, [all things] ascend and are united in it, and it reaches and is hidden in the place of ein sof, and everything is made one; that point of light is light. And there emanated and shone forth within it seven letters of the aleph bet, and they were liquid and not hardened. Darkness went forth after, and there emerged forth within it seven more letters of the aleph bet, and they were liquid and not hardened. There went forth a firmament that distinguished a contradiction [mahloket] of two sides, and there went forth within it eight more letters, rendering twenty two. From within the seven letters of this side and the seven letters of that side, they were all inscribed in that firmament, and they were fluid. The firmament hardened, and the letters were hardened and formed in their forms, and the Torah was engraved there to shine outward. “Let there be light,” for he is a great God [el gadol], the mystery that emerged from the primordial aura. “Let there be,” the mystery of darkness which is called Elohim, the light that combines left in right. And thus, from the mystery of God [El] there arose Elohim, combining right in left, and left in right. “And the Lord saw that the light was good” (Gen. 1-4), this is the central pillar, “that is was good,” shining above and below, and all the rest of the directions in the mystery of YHWH, the name that unites all sides. “And the Lord separated,” He distinguished a contradiction to make everything complete.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 2-226a

Even though everything exists in the light of the thought that is not known, this light of the thought that is not known struck the light that splits, and they shone as one, and nine courtyards were made. And [the] courtyards are not lights and not spirits and not souls, and there is none who can withstand them. The desire of all nine of the existent lights is for thought, for it is one of their number, and all of them run after it at the hour when they exist in thought, and they do not adhere and they are not known, they do not exist in will or in the upper thought. They are grasped and not grasped. In these exist all of the mysteries of faith, and all of these lights are from the mystery of the supernal thought. Below, they are all called ein sof. Until here the lights reach, and they do not reach and they are not known. This is not thought and not desire. When thought shines, it is not known from where it shines, and thus, it garbs itself and conceals itself within binah and shines to wherever it shines, and this ascends into that until everything is included as one, and thus it has been established… Thus, everything exists in the ascension of thought, crowned in ein sof, the light that shines from the supernal thought is called ein sof. Once forces shine and spread forth from it, that thought is concealed and hidden and not known, and from there spread forth emanation [peshitutah] to all sides, and there spreads forth from it one emanation that is the mystery of the upper world, and this exists as a question, and it is a supernal utterance, and it is established that it is called mi [who], as it is written, “Lift your eyes upward and see who created these” (Isaiah 40-26). This is the question that created them. After this, there spread forth and was made the ocean, end of all levels, for it is below, and from there [He] began to build below. And everything is made really [mamash] in that manner which it is above, this according to that, and this in the manner of that. Because of this, the guardianship of everything is from above and below. And this is the emanation of thought, which is the upper world.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 1-156a-b

Come and see. When the Holy One, blessed be He, desired to create the world, He brought forth one concealed light, and from that light, there went forth lights, all those lights that are revealed. And from that light there went forth and were emanated and were made the rest of the lights, and it is the upper world. Then, this upper light emanated and made an artisan, a light that does not shine, making the lower world. And since this light does not shine, it desires to be connected above, it desires to be connected below, and with the connection of that which is below, it was connected to shine by means of the connection above. This light that does not shine, by means of the connection above, brought forth all of the hosts and camps of many kinds, as it is written, “how manifold are your works, oh God” (Ps. 104-27). Everything that is on the earth, so too is it above. And not even the smallest thing in this world is not dependant upon another supernal thing which is appointed over it above, for when this thing below is aroused, that which is appointed over it above also becomes aroused, because everything is united this with that.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 1-18a

“And the Lord said, ‘Let the waters be gathered [under the heavens unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so]’” (Gen. 1-9), in the manner of a line, in order to be in a straight path. for from the mystery of that primordial point, all went forth in concealment, until it reached and was gathered in the supernal courtyard, and from there it went forth in a straight line to the rest of the levels, until it reached that single place that gathers all in general, male and female. Who is it? The Eternally Living One [hai almin]. The waters go forth from the upper letter he [of the Tetragrammaton]. “Under the heavens,” the small [letter] vav, and of this, vav [spelled out in Hebrew with two vav’s] one vav is the heavens and one is beneath the heavens. And thus, “and let the dry land appear,” this is the lower he [final letter of the Tetragrammaton] this is revealed, and all the rest is concealed. And from this last [letter] is perceived with understanding that which is concealed. “[U]nto one place,” for this is the connection of the unity of the upper world. “The Lord is one and His name is one” (Zechariah, 14-9) . Two unities, one of the upper world to be united in its level, and one of the lower world to be united in its level, it is a connection of unity of the upper world until here, the Eternally Living One; there the supernal world is connected in its unity, and because of this it is called “one place.” All levels and all members are gathered there, and they are all within it as one, with no separation at all, and there is no level that unites there with a single unity other than this one, and there everything is concealed in a secret manner with one desire. At this level the concealed world unites in the revealed world. The revealed world also unites below, and the world that is revealed is the world below.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 3-204b

The first light that the Holy One, blessed be He, created, shone to the point that the worlds were not able to withstand it. What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He made a light for his light, to garb this within that. And thus he did also for all the rest of the lights, until the worlds were able to exist and withstand. And because of this there spread forth levels and lights were garbed, and these are called the supernal wings, until they arrived at the morning of Joseph (in reference to Gen 44-3), and it gathers all of the upper lights, and from within all of the upper lights its splendor is dependent. It went from one end of the world above to the other, until the worlds below were not able to withstand. Then came David, and he adorned for this flame a canopy for this morning of Joseph, to contain it and cause the lower worlds to exist, in the order of this flame, and concerning this it is written, “In the morning I will plead before you, and I will wait” (Psalms, 5-4), as it is said, “and he overlaid it with pure gold” (Exodus, 37-2), and it is because of that flame of David, and He dwells in it. He said that it should be a canopy for this morning.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

“And the Lord is in his holy temple; the entire world is silent [has] before Him” (Hab. 2-20). When the holy one desired to create the world, He gazed into thought, the mystery of the Torah, and engraved engravings, and it could not come into existence until he created repentance, for it is the inner, supernal courtyard, and a concealed mystery. And there, letters were formed and engraved in their appearance. Once this was created, He looked into this courtyard and engraved in it the forms of the entire world, as it is written, “the entire world was silent before him.” He engraved engravings and forms of the entire world. When He desired to create the heavens, what did he do? He gazed into the primordial light and wrapped Himself in it and created the heavens, as it is written, “Who dons light like a garment” (Ps. 104-2), and then after that, “who spreads forth the heaves like a curtain.” When He sought to create the lower world, He made another courtyard, and He entered into it, and from it he gazed and inscribed before Him all of the worlds below, and he created them, as it is written, “And the Lord is in his holy temple; the entire world is silent [has] before Him” (Hab. 2-20). The entire world has [is silent] before Him, has [the letters he, samekh]. He inscribed before Him all of the points of the world, which is sixty five, like the sum of [the numerical value of the letters of the word] hass, they are sixty and they are five, and all of them were inscribed before Him when He created the world. Because of this, the Glory of God is only with those who know his paths and walk in them in a true and proper manner.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 2-23b-24a

“And I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob by [the name] God Almighty [el shaddai], and my name YHWH I did not make known to them” (Ex. 6-3). Rabbi Hezekiah opened “Happy is the Man whom the Lord imputes no inequity…” (Ps. 32-2). How foolish are those people who do not know and do regard what the world sustains itself upon, for when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world, He created man in His image, and He adorned him with His adornments so that he would occupy himself with the Torah and walk in his ways. For when He created man, He adorned him with the dust of the lower Temple, and the four sides of the world [i.e. the dimensions of space] are combined in that place which is called Temple. And these four sides of the world are combined in the four aspects of the elements of the lower world, fire, air, water and earth. And these four aspects were combined with the four sides of the world and the Holy One, blessed be He, prepared from it a single body [adorned in] supernal adornments. This body was combined in two worlds, in this lower world and in the world above. Rabbi Simon said, come and see. These four initial ones are the mystery of faith, and they are the fathers of all the worlds, and the mystery of the supernal holy chariot. And these four elements, fire, air, water and earth, these are the supernal mystery, and from these go forth Gold, Silver, Copper and Iron, and from these, other metals that resemble them. Come and see, fire, water, air and earth, these are the origins and roots of above and below, and the lower things and upper things depend upon them. And they are four, for the four sides of the world, and they are sustained in these four, North, South, East and West. These are the four sides of the world and they are sustained by these four; fire in the north, air in the east, water in the south, since the south is warm and dry, water is cold and wet. Earth in the west. And these four are crowned by these four, and everything is one. And these make four metals, which are Gold, Silver, Copper and Iron, and these are twelve, and everything is one [had =12].

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 1-89a

Rabbi Elazar Said, “When the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world, it was conditional, ‘for when Israel comes, if they will accept the Torah, fine, and if not, I will return everything to chaos.’ And the world was not established until Israel stood on Mt. Sinai and received the Torah, and thus the world was established. And from that day forward, the Holy One, blessed be He, creates worlds. And what are these worlds? Human couples. For from that time forward, the Holy One brings couples together, saying, “this the daughter of so-and-so for that so-and-so,” and these are the worlds that He creates.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

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