Jewish Mysticism
Abraham Abulafia, ’Osar ‘Eden Ganuz.

Thus it was appropriate to decree for us the covenant of circumcision (berit milah) whose secret is the four beasts (’arba‘ hayyot), for our essence is from them, and the covenant is decreed in the form of the warp and woof (sheti wa-‘erev). The law is to cut this physical penis (ha-berit ha-gufanit) and to cleave to the spiritual (ruhanit) from it, which is knowledge of the name (yedi‘at ha-shem), for it is not possible for the name to be revealed until they appropriate his ways in the warp and woof, and this is “they made the covenant” (berit ‘asu), that is, if a man does not know the act of God, he does not know him. How does one know him? Through the covenant of the sacred language.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Circumcision, Secrecy, and the Veiling of the Veil- Phallomorphic Exposure and Kabbalistic Essotericism.” In The Covenant of Circumcision- New Perspectives on an Ancient Rite, pp. 58-70. Edited by Elizabeth W. Mark. Hanover and London- Brandeis University Press, 2003, from Abraham Abulafia, ’Osar ‘Eden Ganuz (Jerusalem, 2000), p. 286.

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

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

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

Joseph Gikatilla, Sha’arei Orah, 64-65

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

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

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.

MS Paris, Bibliothéque Nationale 824, fol. 108a.

“For the one who merits this wisdom these awesome entities are inscribed upon his heart and they increase upon him all day; these entities are joyous in his heart and all the secrets of Torah are revealed to him.”

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, from MS Paris, Bibliothéque Nationale 824, fol. 108a, 14th ca. century. Concerning this text see Gershom Scholem, “Index of Commentaries on the Ten Sefirot,” Kiryat Sefer 10 (1933 1934)- 499, n. 7 and 508, n. 95 (Hebrew). The language of this text resembles Menahem Recanati’s paraphrase of Ezra of Gerona in his Commentary on the Torah (Jerusalem, 1961), fol. 37d.

Zohar 1-44a. Cf. Zohar 2-176a, 179a (Sifra’ di Tzeni’uta); ZH, 2b (Sitrei Otiyyot) and 6c (Sitrei Otiyyot)

“Happy is the lot of one who cleaves to his Master, who enters and exits.”

Zohar 2-213b

Happy is the lot of one who enters and exits and who knows how to contemplate the secrets of his Master to cleave to Him, for by means of these secrets a person can cleave to his Master and know the perfection of wisdom in the supernal mystery.

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 1-41a

R. Simeon said- Who is the one who knows how to arrange the prayer of his Master like Moses who when he needed it arranged a long prayer and when he needed it arranged a short prayer? R. Simeon said- I have found in the books of the ancients the order of the secret of secrets in one bond, the times when it is necessary to arrange one’s prayer as is appropriate, and to bind the knots to ameliorate [the judgments of] the Master as is appropriate, and to know how to unify the perfect unity, to rend the heavens and to open the gates and doors so that no one will stay his hand. Happy are the righteous who know how to appease their Master, to annul the decrees, to cause the Presence to dwell in the world, to draw down blessings.

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 2-213b

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

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

Zohar 2-250a

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

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

Zohar 2-136b

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.

Zohar 1-43a

“The one who knows the secrets and achieves perfection cleaves to his Master and abolishes all harsh decrees, and he crowns his Master and draws down blessings on the whole world, and this is the person who is called the righteous, pillar of the world [Cf. Prov. 10- 25; b. Yoma 38b]. His prayer does not return empty, and his portion is in the world-to come, and he is counted amongst those of faith (benei mehemanuta).”

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 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 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 2-56b 57a

“Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power” (Exod. 15- 6). R. Simeon said- When the morning shines and the doe rises, she is filled from every side, and she enters hundreds of palaces of the King. When the north wind stirs and the desire of the doe is to be aroused in the world, the one who at midnight is involved in [the study of] Torah comes with her before the King. When the morning shines the thread of mercy is drawn upon him. He looks heavenward and the light of understanding of the holy gnosis rests upon him, and he is crowned by it, and everyone is afraid of him. At that point that person is called a son of the Holy One, blessed be He, a son of the palace of the King. He enters all the [heavenly] gates and no one obstructs him. When he calls to the palace of the King, concerning him it is written, “The Lord is near to all who call Him, to all who call Him in truth” (Ps. 145-18). What is truth? As it has been established, “You will give truth to Jacob” (Micah 7-20), for he knows how to unify the holy name in his prayer as is appropriate. And this is the worship of the Holy 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.

MS Vatican, ebr. 456, fol. 3b

These names illustrate and attest to the essence of his divinity, his being, his unity, and the simple essence that is God, blessed be he, for through them and their commentaries the thought of the believer is perfected to ascend to the limit of faith from above to below and from below to above in order to unite the sefirot in ’ein sof and ’ein sof in the ten sefirot. Thus it is the limit of the believer to ascend to unify [the potencies] from keter ‘elyon to ‘atarah and from ‘atarah to keter ‘elyon, for there are the lights, paths, and springs … that come from faith to faith and from there to the faith of the physical heart which is in its pattern. … And what we said from ‘atarah to keter ‘elyon, that is, the ascents and descents of thought that rises from ‘atarah to keter ‘elyon as in the secret of “and angels of God were going up and down on it” (Gen. 28-12). Through this thought is the perfect unity and the perfect faith to ascend to his limit and to descend to his limit.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Megillat ‘Emet we-‘Emunah- Contemplative Visualization and Mystical Unknowing,” Kabbalah- A Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 5 (2000)- 55-110.

Heikhalot Rabbati, § 94

R. Ishmael said,

What is the recitation of the songs that a person must sing

when he enters the chariot?

He begins by reciting the introductory song-

Beginning of praise and the first song,

beginning of rejoicing and the first exultation,

the archons, who serve each day, sing

before YHWH, the God of Israel,

they exalt the wheel of His throne of glory, (singing)-

Rejoice, rejoice, throne of glory!

Exult, exult, supernal dwelling!

Shout, shout for joy, precious vessel

Made marvelously, and a marvel!

Gladden the king who (sits) upon you,

As the joy of the bridegroom in his nuptial chamber.

Let all the descendants of Jacob rejoice and exult

when they come to take refuge under your wings,

like the joy of a heart that rejoices in you.

For your conversation is with the conversation of your King,

and with your Creator do you speak,

as it is said, ‘Holy, holy, holy (is the Lord of hosts,

all the earth is filled with His glory)’ (Isa. 6-3).

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, § 94.

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.

3 Enoch 9-1-5.

R. Ishmael said- Metatron, Prince of the Divine Presence, said to Me- In addition to all these qualities, the Holy One, blessed be He, laid his hand on me and blessed me with 1,365,000 blessings. I was enlarged and increased in size till I matched the world in length and breadth. He made to grow on me 72 wings, 36 on one side and 36 on the other, and each single wing covered the entire world. He fixed in me 365,000 eyes and each eye was like the Great Light. There was no sort of splendor, brilliance, brightness, or beauty in the luminaries of the world that he failed to fix in me.

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

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.

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.

Joseph ben Hayyim, MS Paris, BN 843, fol. 37a. See also MS JTSA Mic. 1885, fols. 74b-75a

Therefore I will explain the ten sefirot, the divine principles, according to the kabbalah, so that one may cleave to them, as it is written, “This is my God and I will glorify Him” (Exod. 15-2), [the word we-’anvehu, “I will glorify Him,” can be read as] I and He (’ani we-hu’). When one cleaves to them [the sefirot], the divine Holy Spirit enters into him, in all his sensations and all his movements.

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

Anonymous commentary on the sefirot, written in all probability in Castile in the latter part of the thirteenth century, cited from Scholem, “Index to the Commentaries on the Ten Sefirot,” p. 18.

I will enlighten you and lead you in this way, to inform you of the mystery of unity (sod ha-yihud) through which the King is unified and the knowledge of His truth through which He is elevated, to show you the force of His comprehension, the wealth of the glory of His splendor and His kingdom, and the majesty of the splendor of His greatness in all the places of His dominion. I will show you the splendor to secure you in the Supernal Crown [first sefirah], to cover you in the splendor of the faithful Wisdom [second sefirah], to open for you the gates of Understanding [third sefirah], to cleave to the attributes of Mercy, Strength and Beauty [fourth-sixth sefirot], to take delight in Eternity, Majesty, the Foundation and the Crown [seventh-tenth sefirot]. Then your soul will don the garment of splendor and beauty, grace and love, and you will be crowned with the resplendent light that surrounds the Presence, and this is the secret in which is contained the mystery of the upper and lower knowledge.

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, Cited by Ezra ben Solomon of Gerona in his Commentary on Canticles, in Kitve Ramban, 2- 522

The Pious one, our teacher, blessed be his memory said- The essence of the worship of the enlightened (maskilim) and those who meditate on His name (hoshve shemo) is “and cleave to Him” (Deut. 13-5). This is a cardinal principal in the Torah with respect to prayer and blessings, that one must harmonize one’s thought and one’s faith as if it cleaved above, to unify the name in its letters and to comprise within it the ten emanations (sefirot) like a flame bound to the coal. With his mouth he mentions it according to is appellation [Adonai], but in his heart he unites it in accordance with its structure and how it is written [YHWH].

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, Commentary on Talmudic Aggadoth, p. 40

Insofar as [the prophet] was sitting and studying, and would cleave his thought above, the wondrous entities [i.e., the sefirot] were engraved upon his heart, and by means of this emanation and this cleaving of thought the entities were increased and expanded, and from the joy they were revealed to him. In this manner was the drawing down of prophecy (hamshakhat ha-nevu’ah), for the prophet would concentrate [his mind] (mitboded) and intend his heart and cleave his thought above. And in accordance with the cleaving of prophecy (devequt ha-nevu’ah) the prophet would see and know what would occur in the future.

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

Nahmanides, Kitve Ramban, 2-299

For the people of that world will attain the level of Moses, our rabbi, whose soul rose above his body until his physical faculties were annihilated, and he was clothed in the Holy Spirit every moment as if his sight and hearing were only through the eye of the soul (‘ein ha-nefesh)… The body is annihilated and the soul separates from its faculties when the Holy Spirit emanates upon a person and he sees by means of vision itself when he sees Michael and Gabriel, and this is true vision and the proper hearing… Thus we have come to deal with the mysteries of prophecy (sodot ha-nevu’ah) and visions of the pious (re’iyot ha-hasidim) who see angels.

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.

Eleazar of Worms, MS Paris, BN 850 fols. 58a-b.

Whoever is occupied [with the study of] the chariot (ha-‘oseq ba-merkavah) or the glorious name (shem ha-nikhbad) [i.e., the Tetragrammaton], he and his students, to whom he wants to transmit this, should go and bathe in water, and cover their whole bodies in water, and their clothes should be soaked in water… they should immerse themselves and get dressed in white clothes and stand in water up to their thighs. And the rabbi should begin [to cite the blessing], with fear and trembling, with [proper] intention in mind, looking at the water… “Blessed are You, O Lord, our God, king of the universe, God of Israel, You are one and Your name is one, and You have commanded us to conceal Your great name, for Your name is awesome. Blessed are You, Lord, and blessed is the name of Your glory forever, the glorious and awesome name, Lord, our God. “The voice of the Lord is over the waters” (Ps. 29-3). “Blessed are You, Lord, the one who reveals His secret to those who fear Him, the One who knows all secrets.

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 British Museum 737, fols. 165b-166a. Cf. MSS Paris 825, fol. 193a, Munich 92, fol. 1a.

YHWH–His unique, glorious and awesome name. We will explain its meaning according to the capacity to speak and to know about the glory of the supernal name of the Lord and His fear… The [name] is transmitted only to the meek who do not get angry, and to the God-fearing who perform the commandments of their Creator. It is only transmitted over water, as it is written, “The voice of the Lord is over the waters” (Ps. 29-3). Before the master teaches his disciples they should bathe in water and immerse themselves in [the ritual bath that measures] forty se’ah. They should don white clothes and fast on the day that he will teach them [the name], and they should stand in the water up to their ankles. Then the master opens his mouth in fear and says- “Blessed are You, O Lord, our God, king of the universe, Lord, God of Israel, You are one and Your name is one, and You have commanded us to conceal Your great name, for Your name is awesome. Blessed are You, Lord, who reveals His secret to those who fear Him, the One who knows all secrets.” The master and his disciples should look at the water and say “The ocean sounds, O Lord, the ocean sounds its thunder, the ocean sounds its pounding, more majestic than the breakers of the sea is the Lord, majestic on high” (Ps. 93-3-4). “The voice of the Lord is over the waters, the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over the mighty waters” (ibid. 29-3). “The waters saw You, O God, the waters saw You and were convulsed; the very deep quaked as well” (ibid. 77-17). “Your way was through the sea, Your path, through the mighty waters; Your tracks could not be seen” (ibid., 20). Afterwards they should go near the water or to a synagogue or study-house where there is water in a pure vessel, and the master should say- “Blessed are You, Lord, our God, king of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us and separated us from the nations and revealed to us His secrets and instructed us in the knowledge of His great and awesome name.

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

MS Oxford-Bodleian 1566, fol. 225a

[The word] merahefet has six crownlets [corresponding to] the six voices written in the chariot, excluding [the verse] “And I heard the voice of someone speaking” (Ezek. 1-28)… Thus it is written “like the sound of mighty waters” (ibid., 24). When were the waters mighty? I would say at the time of creation. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, decreed to unite His spirit over the prophets. “A spirit passed by me” (Job. 4-15). “And the spirit of God was over the waters.” The one who makes his heart like water will contemplate the faces of the two cherubim.

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

Geronese kabbalistic text, early 13th century, MS Oxford 2456 (Christ Church 198), fol. 15b.

As a consequence of our mentioning the glorious name (shem ha-kavod), He is unified with us, and is blessed in His blessing. The meaning of the name is known to the enlightened, according to the matter, “Behold the name of the Lord comes from afar” (Isa. 30-27). And the meaning of the glory of the Lord is as it is written “the appearance of the glory of the Lord” (Exod. 24-17), and it is written “you shall behold the glory of the Lord” (ibid., 16-7), and it is written “The Lord our God has shown us His glory” (Deut. 5-21), and many more such as these.

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

Anonymous 13th century kabbalistic text, MS Florence 44.13, fol. 23a

A person closes his eyes and places his hands over them, and appears as someone who has died, i.e., he is like someone without hands, eyes, or feet, and all of his actions are abandoned for the Lord… There is another hidden secret- at the moment one prays [the prayer of the eighteen benedictions] in his worship he intends the true unity, and the action that a person does below causes an act above, resulting in the copulation and union above. A person must hide out of shame for his Master and close his eyes in order not to look at the moment of copulation. Even though it is impossible to see above, “for no man shall see Me and live” (Exod. 33-20), nevertheless the knowledge of the sages constitutes their vision. On account of this they said that it is forbidden to look at the fingers of the priests when they spread out their hands, for the Presence rests on their hands at that moment, and it is forbidden to look at the Presence. Even though it is impossible to see, as we said, he must hide eyes.

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 2-258b-59b

The seventh chamber. This chamber is the innermost of all chambers. This chamber is concealed, having no image within it, really [mammash], and there is no body at all. Here is the concealed within the mystery of mysteries. This is the mystery that is the place to enter into, within the supernal passageways, spirit of all spirits, desire of all desires, to connect everything as one, the spirit of life in this one, so that everything will be one adornment. This chamber is called the House of the Holy of Holies, a place corresponding to the supernal soul, which is called that to arouse the world to come toward it. This world [alma] is called world [olam]. World, the ascension that ascends the lower world up to the upper world, and secrets it within it, and it is concealed within it, the revealed within the paradox [stirah]. World, ascending with all those who are drawn near to it, and they are concealed within the upper concealment [stiru]. The upper world ascends and is concealed within the upper will, within the concealed of all concealed, which is not known at all, and is not revealed, and there is no one who knows it… Within the curtain there is a concealed, secret and hidden place, to gather within itself the flow of the upper greatness, the spirit of life, by way of the river that flows and goes forth, and that river is called the Spring of the Well that never ceases. And when this enters and flows, all of that upper greatness from above, from the place of the Holy of Holies, the flow descends and comes into those passageways. This is filled from there, like a female that is impregnated and filled from a male. So too here, this chamber is always adorned to receive it, like a female that receives from a male, a reception that receives all of those holy spirits and souls, and they descend to the world and they are impregnated there. They are withheld as long as necessary, until the King Messiah comes and satiates all of those souls, and they come and cause the world to rejoice the world as in the beginning. Thus, the Holy One, blessed be He, rejoices as in the beginning, as it is said “The Lord will rejoice in his works” (Psalms 104-31). In this chamber there are delights and pleasures of the spirits, and the musings that the Holy One, blessed be He, muses in the Garden of Eden. Here He is the desire of all and the pleasure of all, to connect everything as one, so that everything will be one, the connection of everything, in one union, here it exists. When all of the limbs are connected with the upper limbs, each one as is appropriate for it, they have no pleasure and they have no delight other than in the unification of this chamber upon which everything depends. When this connection is united in one unification, then all the light of the limbs and all the light of the countenances and all pleasures shine and rejoice. Meritorious is the lot of the one who knows how to set things in order, and to adorn the adornments of completion as is appropriate. The mercy of the Holy One, blessed be He, is in this world and the world to come, and thus all judgments and all harsh decrees are annulled and removed from the world. This chamber is the chamber of delight, the chamber that amuses itself with the upper entities and lower entities as one, and receives all, the light of the supernal flame that shines to all, to unite all as is appropriate in a complete unification. And concerning this, this chamber exists in concealment of all, hidden from all. Even though they are all concealed, this is more concealed and hidden, in order that the covenant will sustain all as one, male and female, in order that it should be complete. This chamber is called the Ark of the Covenant, which is the Lord of all the Earth, because it is the place from which went forth all of the souls of the world, to unite a unification below, and to draw forth the unification of the Holy One, blessed be He, from above to below to give to the Righteous One, since they come forth from the Righteous One and enter into the Righteous One, and afterwards they go forth from the Righteous One and enter into the place from which they went forth… Come and See. The spring of the well is never separated from the well, and because of this, this place is the encompassment of all, the sustenance of all bodies, in order to be completed in all, as is appropriate. Here is the union and connection like one, in order that above and below should be one, in one connection, so that the limbs will not be separated from one another, in order that everything will be found face to face… Meritorious is the lot of one who knows how to connect connections and unite unification in prayer with the desire of the heart as is appropriate, in order to adhere limb to limb, spirit to spirit, all in one comprehension, so that everything will be one as is appropriate. Come and see. This chamber, when those holy spirits and all of those chambers and chariots are all united as one and found in one connection, then, this upper spirit of everything, which is one point, is sealed within it and is not revealed, then a sealed spirit is made above. It is comparable to a nut, united in the connection of all, as we have said, to connect this with that so that everything will be complete in completion, male and female as one. And thus we have established regarding this that the sacrifice ascends to unite each and every thing as is appropriate for it, from that offering that ascends. The priest, which is the right in the connection of the unification of desire. And the Levite, with song encompasses this within that, chamber within chamber, spirit in spirit, until limb with limb is connected in its place, so that everything will be encompassed as one as is appropriate, and thus we have established that when everything is completed as one, the upper limbs with the lower ones, thus the Supernal Soul of all is aroused and enters into everything and shines to all, and everything is blessed, above and below, as well as that one who is not known, and does not fall within the counting, the desire that is never grasped, in this way everything ascends to ein sof, and everything is connected with one connection, and that desire is scented, within, within, in secret. The light of the Supernal Soul shines and ascends within, within, and shines to all, within this light. It ascends into the Concealment of Thought, which encompasses all, and within, within, in that desire of thought, it shines and gives scent and grasps and does not grasp and ascends within the desire of thought to comprehend it. And when it ascends, the lower light grasps it. And thus everything is connected and filled and blessed all as one, as is appropriate. And thus everything is connected this with that, as we have rightly said, chambers within chambers, the lower entities in the upper entities, the mystery of male and female as one, the upper brightness and the light that is even more concealed and hidden within it, and that which is hidden is encompassed within that which is more hidden within it, until one finds that everything is as it should be, in a single unification.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

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.

Tiqqune Zohar, Introduction.

“And the enlightened will shine like the splendor of the sky.” The enlightened are R. Simeon and his colleagues; they will shine when they gather to produce this composition. Permission is given to them and to Elijah who is 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 Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

Zohar 2-142b

When the spirit ascends to be crowned within the supernal soul above, the breath is bound within the spirit and is illuminated from it like the moon when it is illuminated by the sun. The spirit is bound within the soul, and the soul is bound within the End of Thought, which is the mystery of the supernal soul. The breath is bound within the supernal spirit, and the spirit is connected within the supernal soul, and the soul is connected in ein sof, and thus, it is the comfort of all and the bond of all above and below, all in one mystery and one manner.

Translated by Hartley Lachter