Jewish Mysticism
Meir ibn Gabbai, ‘Avodat ha-Qodesh.

It is known to sages of truth that the Written Torah is comprised of the right and the left, for the name of the Lord is the mystery of Tif’eret Yisrae’l, which is in the middle comprised of right and left, and this is the reason that it comprises positive commandments and negative commandments. … The Torah is the principle of the great supernal Adam, and thus it comprises 248 positive commandments and 365 negative commandments like the number of limbs and sinews of the lower and the supernal Adam. An allusion to this is [found in the verse] “This is my name forever and this is my appellation [for all eternity]” (Exod. 3-15), “my name” (shemi) together with [the first two letters of the Tetragrammaton] yod-he’ equals 365, “my appellation” (zikhri) together with [the last two letters of the Tetragrammaton] waw-he’ equals 248. Thus the unique name (shem ha-meyuhad) is the principle of all the Torah, and the Torah is woven from the name YHWH, and it is verily the name. Since the Torah is the form of Adam, it is appropriate for the human (’adam), and through it the human is human and in the end he will be conjoined to the [divine] Adam.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson, “Beyond Good and Evil- Hypernomianism, Transmorality, and Kabbalistic Ethics.” In, Crossing Boundaries- Ethics, Antinomianism and the History of Mysticism, pp. 103-56. Edited by J. J. Kripal and W. Barnard. New York and London- Seven Bridges Press, 2002, from Meir ibn Gabbai, ‘Avodat ha-Qodesh, (Jerusalem, 1992), Heleq ha-Yihud, ch. 21, p. 48.

Moses de Leon, She’elot u Teshuvot le R. Mosheh de Le’on be ‘Inyene Kabbalah.

Those very stories [in the Bible] are the secret of God, and they are included in the wisdom of His thought, the secret of His name. When a person removes the mask of blindness from his face, then he will find in that very story and literal sense (ha ma’aseh) a hill of spices [Cf. Song of Songs 8-14] and frankincense [Cf. ibid., 4-6]. Then his blind eyes will be opened [Cf. Isa. 35-5] and his thoughts will gladden, and he will say, ‘Whoever you are, O great mountain” (Zech. 4-7), exalted, “where you hid on the day of the incident” (1 Sam. 20-19), as I explained in the book that I composed called Pardes. I called it by the name Pardes in virtue of the matter that is known, for I composed it in accordance with the secret of the four ways [of interpretation], according to its very name [as alluded to in the saying] “Four entered the Pardes [b. Hagigah l4b and parallels],” in other words, peshat, remez, derashah, sod, this is the matter of Pardes. I explained there these matters pertaining to the secret of the narrative and literal sense written in the Torah, to show that everything is the eternal life and the true Torah, and there is nothing in all the Torah that is not contained in the secret of His name, may He be elevated.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in- “Beautiful Maiden Without Eyes- Peshat and Sod in Zoharic Hermeneutics.” In The Midrashic imagination – Jewish exegesis, thought, and history. Edited by Michael Fishbane, Albany – State University of New York Press, 1993, pp. 155-203, from Moses de Leon, She’elot u Teshuvot le R. Mosheh de Le’on be ‘Inyene Kabbalah, in I. Tishby, Studies in the Kabbalah and Its Branches [Hebrew] (Jerusalem, 1982), 56, 64. Cf. Sefer ha Mishkal, ed. J. Wijnhoven (Ph.D., Brandeis University, 1964), 49, 105.

Moses Cordevero, Or Yaqar to Ra’aya Mehemna (Jerusalem, 1987), 15-87.

A person must remove the garments from the Torah and break her shells in order to comprehend her depth and her hidden spirituality. . . . They must without doubt strip the Torah from all of her shells . . . then they will understand without any external garment. This is the secret of the Torah that the Holy One, blessed be He, will create in the future. . . . All her shells will be broken and the inner core of the Torah will be comprehended. . . . The kabbalistic secret is clothed in the literal sense for one cannot know how to expound it except by way of the literal sense, as if one said Abraham was a merciful man [i.e., from the attribute of Hesed or mercy], and his going to Egypt [symbolizes] his descent to the shells. . . . In this manner one cannot speak of kabbalah without it being mixed with the secret of the literal sense and corporeality.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in- “Beautiful Maiden Without Eyes- Peshat and Sod in Zoharic Hermeneutics.” In The Midrashic imagination – Jewish exegesis, thought, and history. Edited by Michael Fishbane, Albany – State University of New York Press, 1993, pp. 155-203.

Moses Hayyim Ephraim of Sudlikov (c. 1737 1800), grandson of Israel ben Eliezer, Ba’al Shem Tov (1700 1760), Degel Mahaneh Efrayim (Brooklyn, N.Y., 1984), 87b

The secret of teki’ah, teru’ah, teki’ah is [to be explained] by [the rabbinic idiom] “a verse should not lose its literal sense.” That is, initially a person must study and comprehend the literal sense. Afterwards he should expand to [the comprehension of] the various lights and secrets of the Torah. And after that from the power of interpretation he should return and come [to an understanding of] the true literal sense (ha peshat ha ‘emet). This is [the significance] of teki’ah, teru’ah, teki’ah. At first there is the teki’ah which instructs about the literal sense (ha peshat), i.e., a straight sound (kol pashut) [Cf. b. Rosh Hashanah]. Afterwards there is a teru’ah, which contains the letters torah ayin, i.e., the [Torah] is interpreted in seventy [the numerical value of ‘ayin] ways. And afterwards a teki’ah, to return to the true literal sense.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in- “Beautiful Maiden Without Eyes- Peshat and Sod in Zoharic Hermeneutics.” In The Midrashic imagination – Jewish exegesis, thought, and history. Edited by Michael Fishbane, Albany – State University of New York Press, 1993, pp. 155-203.

Zohar 3-265a

R. Shim’on said- If people only knew the words of Torah then they would comprehend that there is no word or letter in the Torah that does not contain supernal, precious secrets. Come and see- it is written, “Moses spoke and God answered him with a voice” (Exod. 19-19). It has been taught [b. Berakhot 45a ]- what is [the meaning of] “with a voice”? With the voice of Moses. This is correct, the voice of Moses precisely (dayka), the voice to which he was attached and through which he was superior to all other prophets.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in- “Beautiful Maiden Without Eyes- Peshat and Sod in Zoharic Hermeneutics.” In The Midrashic imagination – Jewish exegesis, thought, and history. Edited by Michael Fishbane, Albany – State University of New York Press, 1993, pp. 155-203.

Zohar, 2-57b

Why is it written, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness” (Prov. 3-17)? [R. Eleazar] said to [R. Hiyya]- How foolish are people of the world, for they do not know how to consider words of Torah, for the words of Torah are the way to merit that pleasantness of God, as it is written, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness.” The ways of pleasantness (no’am) indeed! What is this pleasantness? As it is written, “To gaze upon the beauty (no’am) of the Lord.” It has been taught that the Torah and its ways derive from that Beauty. . . Thus, it is written, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peaceful.”

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in- “Beautiful Maiden Without Eyes- Peshat and Sod in Zoharic Hermeneutics.” In The Midrashic imagination – Jewish exegesis, thought, and history. Edited by Michael Fishbane, Albany – State University of New York Press, 1993, pp. 155-203.

Zohar 2-60a b

What is [the meaning of what is] written, “So he [Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood (etz)” (Exod. 15-25)? The word etz is nothing but the Torah [b. Arakhin 15b], as it is written, “She is a tree of life (etz hayyim) to those who grasp her” (Prov. 3-18). And the [word] Torah is nothing but the Holy One, blessed be He. R. Abba said- the [word] tree is nothing but the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written, “For man [is] the tree of the field” (Num. 20-19, the tree of the field (etz ha sadeh) indeed (vada’y), i.e., the tree of the field of holy apples.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in- “Beautiful Maiden Without Eyes- Peshat and Sod in Zoharic Hermeneutics.” In The Midrashic imagination – Jewish exegesis, thought, and history. Edited by Michael Fishbane, Albany – State University of New York Press, 1993, pp. 155-203.

Zohar 3-179b

“The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying- This is the ritual law that the Lord has commanded” (Num. 19-1 2). R. Yose began to expound- “This is the Torah that Moses set before the Israelites” (Deut. 4-44). Come and see- the words of Torah are holy, supernal, and sweet…. For he who is involved in [the study of] Torah it is as if he stands each day on Mount Sinai and receives the Torah. . . . The comrades have thus taught- Here it is written “this is the ritual law” (zo’t hukkat ha torah) and [in the other case] it is written “and this is the Torah” (ve zo’t ha torah). What is the difference between these two? This concerns a supernal mystery and thus have I learnt- “This is the Torah” to show everything in one unity, to contain the Community of Israel [Shekhinah] within the Holy One, blessed be He [Tif’eret] so that everything will be found as one. Therefore [it is written] “and this is the Torah.” Why is there the additional vav [in the word ve zo’t]? As it has been said, to show that everything is one without any separation. [The word] ve zo’t [signifies] the principle (kelal) and the exception (perat) as one, the masculine and feminine. Thus [it is written] “And this is the Torah” indeed (vada’y)! But the word zo’t without the additional vav [signifies] “the ritual law” (hukkat ha torah) indeed (vada’y), and not the Torah, i.e., the law of the Torah and the decree of the Torah. . . . Thus [it is written] “and this is the Torah” literally (mamash), [signifying] one complete unity, the containment of the masculine and feminine, the vav and the heh [the word] [signifies] the heh alone, and thus [it is written] “this is the ritual law.”

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in- “Beautiful Maiden Without Eyes- Peshat and Sod in Zoharic Hermeneutics.” In The Midrashic imagination – Jewish exegesis, thought, and history. Edited by Michael Fishbane, Albany – State University of New York Press, 1993, pp. 155-203.

Hayyim Vital (1543 1620), Sha’ar Ma’amerei RaZa’L (Jerusalem, 1898), 8d.

This too [the attribution of physical characteristics such as wings to the angels] will be a wonder in the eyes of the literalists, and they will think that in this too there is form, and the matter is not [to be taken] according to its literal meaning. They do not understand that the literal sense (peshat) and the symbolic (remez) are one thing like the soul and the body, for the one is the image and likeness of the other. If the soul would change its limbs from the limbs of the body, of necessity the former could not be clothed in the latter. A small vessel cannot contain a larger one; and if the latter goes inside the former, it cannot go inside with all its parts. In this manner the literal meaning of Scripture (peshatei ha torah) must be like the soul of the Torah and its inwardness (nishmat ha torah u penimiyutah) for the body is the image of the soul. It is also necessary that the inwardness be something spiritual, for if not it would have no need to be clothed, as [it follows from] the way of the literalists who explain the beginning of the Torah.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in- “Beautiful Maiden Without Eyes- Peshat and Sod in Zoharic Hermeneutics.” In The Midrashic imagination – Jewish exegesis, thought, and history. Edited by Michael Fishbane, Albany – State University of New York Press, 1993, pp. 155-203.

R. Shneur Zalman of Lyady (1745 1813), Likkutei Torah (Brooklyn, 1984), Va Yikra, 5b c

Thus [Scripture] is called mikra, for one reads (kore) and draws down the revelation of the light of the Infinite (Ein Sof) by means of the letters even if one does not understand anything. . . . This is not the case with respect to the Oral Torah which is clothed in wisdom, and therefore if one does not understand one does not draw down [the light]. With respect to the Written Torah, however, one draws down [the light] even if one does not understand … since the source of the emanation (mekor ha hamshakhah) is above wisdom. . . . Thus the Written Torah is called mikra, for they read and draw down [the emanation] by means of the letters. . . . Included in the study of Scripture is also the study of aggadot, for most of the aggadot are on verses [in Scripture] and few are homiletical. Moreover, they are not comprehended and are thus considered to be in the category of Scripture. Included in Scripture is also the study of the inwardness of Torah (penimiyut ha torah), for the midrash of Zohar is one the verses of Torah. Moreover, in the study of the secrets of Torah one only comprehends the reality (ha metzi’ut) [of the divine] from the chain [of emanation] and not from the essence [or substance] (ha mahut) [of God]. Therefore it is not the same as Mishnah or Talmud through which one comprehends the essence of His wisdom (mahut hokhmato).

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in- “Beautiful Maiden Without Eyes- Peshat and Sod in Zoharic Hermeneutics.” In The Midrashic imagination – Jewish exegesis, thought, and history. Edited by Michael Fishbane, Albany – State University of New York Press, 1993, pp. 155-203.

R. Shneur Zalman of Lyady (1745 1813), Likkutei Torah, Wa Ethanan, 12c

Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day” (Deut. 6-6). This is the Written Torah, mikra, from the verse “They shall serve you to summon (le mikra) the community” (Num. 10-2), said with respect to the trumpets, for this is the expression of calling (keri’ah) and gathering (asefah). Thus all the Torah is the names of the Holy One, blessed be He. By means of this [Scripture] one reads and draws down the light of the Infinite from above to below.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in- “Beautiful Maiden Without Eyes- Peshat and Sod in Zoharic Hermeneutics.” In The Midrashic imagination – Jewish exegesis, thought, and history. Edited by Michael Fishbane, Albany – State University of New York Press, 1993, pp. 155-203.

Todros ben Joseph Abulafia, Sha‘ar ha-Razim.

It is clear and known to every enlightened man (ish maskil) to whom God has given a heart to hear and eyes to see that King David, peace be upon him, and all the others who speak through the holy spirit, and how more so the righteous prophets who prophecy in the nation … most of their words are in parables and riddles, and they have inner aspects (panim penimiyyim), all that see them will not discern them and will not attend to them except for the elite (yehidim) whose hearts have been touched by God. Perhaps the external in them, which is good and beautiful, is fixed and received by the masses, and concerning this King Solomon, peace be upon him, said “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Prov. 25-11). And how marvelously did the perfect sage, our master Moses, may his memory be for a blessing, explain this image, comparing the external to refined and polished silver and the inner to pure gold whose value is greater than all other metals, as is known from his words in his well-known and honorable book, the Guide.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in- “Beneath the Wings of the Great Eagle- Maimonides and Thirteenth Century Kabbalah,” in Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) – His Religious, Scientific, and Philosophical Wirkensgeschichte in Different Cultural Contexts, edited by George K. Hasselhoff and Otfreid Fraisse, (Wurzburg- Ergon, 2004) 209-237, from Todros ben Joseph Abulafia, Sha‘ar ha-Razim, Edited from the manuscripts with Introduction and Annotations by Michal Kushnir-Oron (Jerusalem- Bialik Institute, 1989), p. 46.

Zohar Hadash 28b

R. Judah taught- Whoever is occupied with [the study of] Torah as much as is required, his soul is elevated above when he is asleep, and he is taught from the depths of Torah … R. Isaac taught- Whoever is occupied with Torah for its own sake, when he is asleep at night his soul rises and he is shown those matters that will be in the world in the future.

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 2-209a

At midnight R. Abba and the rest of the comrades rose to be occupied in [the study of] Torah. R. Abba said- from here on let us say words to crown the righteous in the Garden of Eden, for now is the time that the Holy One, blessed be He, and the righteous in the Garden of Eden listen for the voices of the righteous who are on earth.

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 1-82b

Each and every night the souls of the righteous ascend, and at midnight the Holy One, blessed be He, comes to the Garden of Eden to take delight in them. In whom? R. Yose said- In all of them, those who are in their habitations in that world and those who sit in their habitations in this world; the Holy One, blessed be He, takes delight in them at midnight. Come and see- The world above needs the arousal of the world below. When the souls of the righteous depart from this world and ascend above, they are clothed in the supernal light in a glorious image, and in them the Holy One, blessed be He, takes delight and desires them for they are the fruit of His actions … R. Yose said- [The Holy One, blessed He, delights in] even those in this world. How is this so? He said to him- At midnight all the truly righteous rise to study Torah and to hear the praises of Torah. It is said that the Holy One, blessed He, and all the righteous that are with Him in the Garden of Eden come to hear their voices. A thread of mercy extends to them during the day, as it says, “By day may the Lord vouchsafe His faithful care, so that at night a song to Him may be with me” (Ps. 42-9). It follows that the praises that rise before Him at night are a complete praise.

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 3-21b 22a

The souls of people ascend, each one as is appropriate … Happy is the lot of the righteous for their souls ascend upward and they are not obstructed in another place that is not necessary. At midnight the herald stands and calls out, and the opening is opened. Then the wind of the north side is stirred, and it strikes the harp of David which plays by itself … Happy is the lot of the one who wakes at that time and is occupied with Torah. Whoever rises at that time and is occupied with Torah is called a partner of the Holy One, blessed be He, and the Community of Israel.

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 3-12b 13a

R. Hizqiyah was sitting before R. Isaac. They rose at midnight to study Torah. R. Isaac began to expound, saying- “Now bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord [who stand nightly in the house of the Lord]” (Ps. 134-1). This verse has been established by the comrades. But this praise relates to all those who are faithful (benei mehemanuta). Who are the faithful? Those who study Torah and know how to unify the Holy Name as is appropriate. The praise of those faithful is that they rise at midnight to study Torah and cleave by means of it to the Community of Israel [Shekhinah], to praise her before the Holy One, blessed be He, in words of Torah. Come and see- When a person rises at midnight to study Torah and the north wind stirs at midnight, the doe [Shekhinah] rises and praises the Holy One, blessed be He. When she rises several thousand and tens of thousands rise with her, and they all begin to praise the Holy King. The Holy One, blessed be He, listens to the one who is righteous and rises at midnight to study Torah … as it is written “O you who linger in the garden, lovers are listening; let me hear your voice” (Cant. 8-13) … You are the glory of the Holy King, You are the crown of the King. That doe is crowned by those people and she stands before the King and says- See with which son I have come before You, by which son I have been aroused in relation to You, they who are the most praiseworthy of all before the King! He answered and said- “Those who stand nightly in the house of the Lord,” these are the servants of the Lord who are worthy to bless the Holy King, and their blessing is a blessing, as it says, “Lift your hands toward the sanctuary and bless the Lord” (Ps. 134-2).

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 3-260a

“Come and see- When the north wind stirs at midnight … those who belong to the supernal palace rise to be involved with the praise of Torah, and they join the Community of Israel until the day shines; when morning comes she and all those who belong to the palace come before the Holy King, and they are called sons of the King and Matrona … At night they were occupied with the Matrona, now they come with the Matrona to unite her with the King.”

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 2-46a

At midnight the Holy One, blessed be He, enters the Garden of Eden to take delight with the righteous. At that time one must rise to study Torah. Thus it is said that the Holy One, blessed be He, and all the righteous in the Garden of Eden listen to their voice, as it is written, “O you who finger in the garden, lovers are listening; let me hear your voice” (Cant. 8-13). The one who lingers in the garden, i.e., the Community of Israel, for she praises him before the Holy One, blessed be He, by virtue of the praise of Torah at night. Happy is the lot of one who joins her to praise the Holy One, blessed be He, by means of the praise of Torah. When morning comes the Community of Israel comes and takes delight with the Holy One, blessed be He, and he extends to her the scepter of mercy [i.e., the sefirah of Yesod which corresponds to the phallus]. She does not enter alone but together with those who join her. Thus is it written, “By day may the lord vouchsafe His faithful care, so that at night [a song to Him may be with me, a prayer to the God of my life]” (Ps. 42-9).

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 1-92a b

R. Hizkiyah said- Whoever is occupied with Torah at that hour certainly has a constant portion in the world to come. R. Yose said- What is the meaning of constant? He said to him- Thus I have learnt that every midnight when the Holy One, blessed be He, is aroused in the Garden of Eden all those plants of the Garden are irrigated more from that river, which is called the “raging torrent [Judges 5-21],” the “refreshing stream [Cf. Ps. 36-9],” whose waters never cease. For the one who rises and studies Torah it is as if that river pours forth upon his head and waters him from those plants of the Garden of Eden.

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.

Eleazar of Worms, MS Paris, BN 772, fols. 157b-158a.

The word of God is like white fire in a black and dark cloud … thus it was revealed in a cloud that surrounds the glory…”Upon Your holy nation,” at that time [at Sinai] Israel were holy, as it is written, “a holy nation” (Exod. 19-6), for they separated from their wives for three days and were like the ministering angels. Therefore His glory was revealed in order to speak to them. The word that goes out from the mouth of God is a fire brighter in its whiteness than any other fire in the world, and the brightness blinds the eyes like one who looks at the sun when it is in its strength. Therefore the glory, the will of His word, is fire, the form of a cloud and darkness surround it. According to the needs of the hour the word goes out, for the Holy One, blessed be He, places the Presence of His throne of glory between the dark waters, and the Presence is in the clouds.

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. 110a.

When Israel blesses the name of His glory, the glory is increased, as it is written, “Your faithful ones shall bless you, they shall talk of the majesty of Your kingship, and speak of Your might” (Ps. 145-10-11). “The glorious majesty [of Your splendor]” (ibid., 5). And this is [the meaning of] “Blessed is His glorious name” (ibid. 72-19), for the name is glorified in a bright cloud. Know that [the expression] “to place His name there” is written in the Torah fifty-two times and there are fifty-two times in the Torah that the [word] cloud [is mentioned. That is to say, there is a cloud for each name … It is written, “Your glorious name” (1 Chron. 29-13), for [the name] is clothed and glorified in splendor. [The expression] Your glorious name [le-shem tif’artekha] is numerically equivalent to “the four letters” [’arba‘ah ’otiyyot] which is the Tetragrammaton [YWHH]. When Israel mentioned the name in the Temple, then “His glory filled the whole world, amen and amen” (Ps. 72-19).

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

Sefer Hasidim § 637

There is no throne without the Torah, and this is [the import of the poem] “At the time before creation He established the Torah and the throne.” Therefore the Torah is read on Sabbath. And there occurs seven times in Scripture [the expression] “enthroned on the cherubim” (yoshev ha-keruvim). Therefore, [on Sabbath] seven [sections in the Torah] are read, and it is as if the Shekhinah were placed on the throne of the cherubim.

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, Sode Razayya, p. 19.

The fire of the throne serves the supernal ones and the fire before the throne of glory serves the lower ones, for just as the Torah was given in fire, so the sacrifice is burnt in fire, and before the soul that ascends enters beneath the throne the angel purifies it by the fire that is before the throne… and they place it under the thone and there one sees the secrets and mysteries of Torah… The tablets are from the throne; [the word] luhot [tablets, written in a defective form without a waw] through a”t ba”sh is kisse’ [throne], for the tablets and the Torah were in the throne.

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

Nahmanides’ commentary to Exod. 20-2

[The Torah] was given to Moses in seven voices [i.e., the seven sefirot], which he heard and comprehended. But with respect to Israel, they heard it in one voice [i.e., the Shekhinah], as it says, “a loud voice and no more” (Deut. 5-19). And it says, “You heard the sound of words but perceived no shape–nothing but a [single] voice” (ibid. 4-12). And here too [Scripture] alludes [to this]- “And all the people saw the voices” (Exod. 20-15), the word qolot (voices) is [written] without a waw [signifying the plural form], for they [Israel] saw all the voices as one [i.e., the Shekhinah].

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

Zohar 2-82b

It has been taught- when God revealed himself on Mount Sinai all of Israel saw as one who sees from a light in a crystal. From that light each one saw that which Ezekiel the prophet did not see. Why? For those upper voices were revealed [or, according to a variant reading, inscribed] in one, as it is written, “And all the people saw the voices.” By Ezekiel, however, the Presence was revealed in her chariot and no more. Ezekiel saw as one who sees from behind many walls.

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

Zohar 2-93b-94a

The ten words of the Torah [i.e., the Decalogue] contain all the [613] commandments, comprehending what is above and below, the principle of the ten words of creation … These [ten words] were carved on the tablets of stone, and all that was hidden in them was visible to their [the Israelites’] eyes, for they all knew and considered the secret of the 613 commandments of the Torah contained in them. All was visible to them, all was understood in the minds of Israel and all was revealed to their eyes. In that time all the secrets of Torah, above and below, were not removed from them, for they saw with their eyes the splendor of the glory of their Master. Since the day when God created the world there was nothing like His revealing His glory on Sinai.

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

Zohar 1-94b

Thus it was that on that day the colleagues (havrayya’) saw the face of the Shekhinah and they were encompassed by fire. The face of R. Abba was burning like a flame from the joy of Torah. It has been taught- that whole day none of them left the house and the house was bounded by smoke. Amongst themselves they were innovating words of Torah as if on that very day they had received the Torah on Mount Sinai.

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

Zohar 1-15b-16a

“And the enlightened will shine like the splendor of the firmament” refers to the pillars and supports of that palanquin. “The enlightened” (ha-maskilim) are the upper pillars and supports [i.e., the kabbalists] who contemplate (mistakkelei) with their understanding the palanquin [Shekhinah] to the extent that it is necessary… “They will shine,” for if they did not shine and were not illuminated, they would not be able to gaze upon and contemplate that palanquin to the extent that is necessary… “The splendor” (zohar)–that which illuminates the Torah. “The splendor” which shines upon the heads of that beast [i.e., Shekhinah] and these heads are the enlightened who shine perpetually and who contemplate that firmament and the light that emerges from there which is the light of Torah that shines constantly without pause.

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

Zohar 3-61a

It has been taught- the images of all those who are occupied with [the study of Torah] during the night are engraved above before the Holy One, blessed be He, and the Holy One, blessed be He, takes delight in them all day and looks at them. That voice [of one engaged in Torah-study] rises and breaks through all the firmaments until it ascends before the Holy One, blessed be He… Now the Holy One, blessed be He, engraves the image of R. Simeon above, and his voice ascends and is crowned by the holy crown until the Holy One, blessed be He, is crowned by it in all the worlds and is glorified by it.

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

Zohar 3-59b

It has been taught- R. Jose said, One time the world needed rain. R. Yeisa, R. Hizqiyah, and the rest of the comrades went before R. Simeon. They found that he and his son, R. Eleazar, were going to see R. Pinheas ben Yair. When [R. Simeon] saw then, he opened up and said, “A Song of ascents. Of David. How good and and how pleasant it is that brothers dwell together.” What is the meaning of “that brothers dwell together?” As it is said [of the cherubim], “they shall face each other” (Exod. 25-20, 37-9). When they are gazing at each other face-to-face, it is written, “how good and how pleasant,” but when the male turns his face from the female, wow to the world … Another interpretation- “How good and how pleasant etc.” These are the comrades at the time that they sit as one and are not separated from one another. At first they appear as warriors engaged in battle who want to kill one another. Afterwards they are transformed by the love of comradeship. What does the Holy One, blessed be He, say? How good and how pleasant it is that brothers dwell together.” [The word] gam [in the expression gam yahad, “together”] signifies the inclusion of the Shekhinah with them. Furthermore, the Holy One, blessed be, listens to their words and it is pleasing to Him for He takes joy in them.

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

Zohar 3-268b

“The wise shall obtain honor” (Prov. 3-35)- Whoever is engaged in the [study of] Torah merits to inherit the supernal portion in the glory of the holy, supernal King… And who is that? That which is called the glory of the Lord who does not ever depart from them.

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

Zohar 2-200a

Whoever is engaged in Torah it is as if he is engaged in the palace of the Holy One, blessed be He, for the supernal palace of the Holy One, blessed be He, is the Torah.

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

Zohar Hadash, 29a

Come and see- When a person draws close to the Torah, which is called good, as it is written, “the teaching of your mouth (torat pikha) is good to me” (Ps. 119-72), he draws close to the Holy One, blessed be He, who is called good, as it is written, “The Lord is good to all” (ibid. 145-9), and he then comes close to being righteous, as it says, “Happy is the just man for he is good” (Isa. 3-9). When he is righteous the Shekhinah rests upon him and teaches him the highest secrets of Torah, for the Shekhinah is joined only to one who is good, for the Righteous [masculine Saddiq] and Righteousness [feminine Seddeq] go together as one.

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

Moses de Leon, Mishkan ha-Edut, MS Berlin Or. Quat. 833, fol. 1b.

Our holy Torah is a perfect Torah, “all the glory of the royal princess is inward” (Ps. 45-14). But because of our great and evil sins today “her dress is embroidered with golden mountings” (ibid.)… Thus God, blessed be He, laid a “covering of dolphin skin over it” (Num. 4-6) with the visible things [of this world]. Who can see and contemplate the great and awesome light hidden in the Torah except for the supernal and holy ancient ones? They entered her sanctuary and the great light was revealed to them… They removed the mask from her.

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

Joseph of Hamadan, Sefer Ta‘amey ha-Mizwoth, (Meier), p. 58.

Therefore the Torah is called by this name for it instructs [us] about the pattern of the Holy One, blessed be He… the Torah, as it were, is the shadow of the Holy One, blessed be He … and inasmuch as the Torah is the form of God He commanded us to study it so that we may know the pattern of the upper form. As some kabbalists said concerning the verse, “Cursed be he who does not raise up the words of this Torah” (Deut. 27-26), is there a Torah that falls? This is rather a warning to the cantor to show the writing of the Torah scroll to the community so that they will see the pattern of the upper form. How much more so [is it incumbent] to study the Torah so that one may see the supernal mysteries and see the actual glory of the Holy One, blessed be He. All the time that one studies the Torah one is actually sitting in the shadow of the Holy One, 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.

Zohar Hadash, 105a (Matnitin)

Who are the enlightened? Those who know how to contemplate (le-’istakkala’) the glory of their Master and know the secret of Wisdom, to enter without shame into the world-to-come. These shine like the upper splendor. And it says “the enlightened” (ha-maskilim) rather than “the knowers” (ha-yode‘im) for these verily are they who contemplate (mistakla’an) the inner, hidden secrets which are not disclosed or transmitted to every person. He who is worthy of contemplating them with his understanding is illuminated and shines with the crown of the splendor which is supernal to all. There is no splendor that shines like this, there is no splendor that shines upon this world like that splendor. This is the splendor of Torah, the splendor of the masters of wisdom who inherit this world over everything. They exit and enter into all the treasures of their Master and there is no one to prevent them.

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

Zohar 2-98b

The Holy One, blessed be He, enters all the hidden things that He has made into the holy Torah, and everything is found in the Torah. The Torah reveals that hidden thing and then it is immediately clothed in another garment where it is hidden and not revealed. And even though that thing is hidden in its garment the sages, who are full of eyes, see it from within its garment. When that thing is revealed, before it enters into a garment, they cast an open eye upon it, and even though [the thing] is immediately concealed, it does not depart from their eyes.

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

Zohar 3-22a

Come and see the secret of the matter. The Community of Israel [Shekhinah] does not stand before the King [Tif’eret] except by means of the Torah. Whenever earthly Israel are engaged in [the study of] Torah the Communtiy of Israel dwells with them… Thus, when the Community of Israel is aroused before the King by means of Torah, her forces are strengthened and the Holy King is glad to receive her. However, when the Community of Israel comes before the King and Torah is not found with her, her strength, as it were, is weakened.

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

Zohar Hadash, 105c.

“And the enlightened will shine like the splendor of the sky.” This refers to those who are engaged in [the study of] Torah and contemplate words of Torah with intention and meditation of the heart. The enlightened contemplate [words of Torah] but they do not contemplate the word alone. Rather, they contemplate the place upon which the word is dependent, for there is no word that is not dependent on another supernal mystery. He finds in this word another matter of the supernal mystery. From the speculum that does not shine a person can find and see the secret of the speculum that shines… This is [the import of] “like the splendor of the sky,” that is the sky which is known [that stands] upon the creatures below, for from within that sky one can contemplate that splendor that shines, the splendor of the supernal splendors, the splendor that comes forth from the supernal point, shining and sparkling with the radiance of the other lights to every side.

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