Jewish Mysticism
Zohar 1-82b

R. Isaac said- It is written, “A river issues from Eden to water the garden” (Gen. 2-10). This is the pillar upon which the world stands, and it waters the garden and the garden is irrigated by it. By means of it she produces fruits and all the fruits disseminate in the world, and they are the pillar of the world, the pillar of Torah. Who are they? The souls of the righteous for they are the fruit of the actions of the Holy One, blessed be he. Thus 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 which ones? R. Yose said- In all of them, those whose dwelling is in that world and those who reside in their dwelling in this world. At midnight the Holy One, blessed be he, takes delight in all of them.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Eunuchs who Keep the Sabbath- Becoming Male and the Ascetic Ideal in Thirteenth Century Jewish Mysticism,” in Becoming Male in the Middle Ages, 151-185. Edited by J. J. Cohen and B. Wheeler. New York- Garland, 1997.

Zohar 1-90a-b

R. Simeon said- It is written, “This is the book of the generations of man” [zeh sefer toledot ’adam] (Gen. 5-1). Did he have a book? Rather it has been established that the blessed holy One showed to primal Adam each generation and its interpreters. How did he show it to him? If you say that he saw by means of the holy spirit that in the future they would come to the world like one who sees through wisdom what will come about in the world, it is not so; rather he saw everything with the eye, and that image that in the future will exist in the world he saw with the eye. What is the explanation? From the day the world was created all the souls that in the future would exist in people (benei nasha’) stood before the blessed holy One in that very image with which they would be in the world. In this manner, after all of the righteous ones depart from this world, all of the souls ascend, and the blessed holy One prepares for them a new image in the pattern of that world in which they will be garbed. Thus they all exist before him, and primal Adam saw them with the eye. You might say that after he has seen them they no longer exist in their reality. Come and see- All the words of the blessed holy One actually exist, and they stand before him until they descend into the world. In this manner, it is written “but both with those who are standing here with us [this day before the Lord our God and with those who are not with us here this day]” (Deut. 29-14). It has been established that all of the people (benei nasha’) that would in the future be in the world were found there [i.e., at Sinai].

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Ontology, Alterity and Ethics in Kabbalistc Anthropology,” Exemplaria (2000)- 129-155.

Zohar 3-135a

“And upon the image of the throne was the image like the appearance of a man upon it from above” (Ezek. 1-26). “Like the appearance of a man,” which encompasses all images. “Like the appearance of a man,” which encompasses all names. “Like the appearance of a man,” in which is concealed all worlds above and below. “Like the appearance of a man,” encompassing all mysteries that were spoken and adorned before the world was created, even though they did not exist.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Moses Hayyim Luzzatto, TQT”W Tefillot, § 515, p. 419.

Everything goes to one place in the four letters of Your holy name that rules, and this is what is revealed in Your world in the time of which it is said, “The glory of the Lord shall appear [and all flesh as one shall behold]” (Isa. 40-5). In that time, “the Lord shall be king [over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Lord with one name]” (Zech. 14-9), for by means of this secret He created Adam in His image, and through it “God made Adam upright” (Eccles. 7-29). [The word] ’adam is [numerically equivalent to the Tetragrammaton spelled out as] YO”D H”A WA”W H”A, which comprises all of Your gradations as is appropriate for all of them are contained under Your unity, to make through it one [entity], “I found only one human being in a thousand” (ibid. 7-28), and the Shekhinah rests on his head for she is the crown on the head of every righteous person.

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in “Tiqqun ha-Shekhinah- Redemption and the Overcoming of Gender Dimorphism in the Messianic Kabbalah of Moses Hayyim Luzzatto,” History of Religions 36 (1997) 289-332.

Zohar Hadash, 38b-c.

“The likeness of the four beasts” (Ezek. 1-5). The likeness of what? The likeness of the supernal beasts, for from those that are visible those that are hidden and invisble are seen. Thus it is called likeness (demut) and it is called image (selem)… Here is a supernal secret- when the river comes forth from Eden all the souls that are the fruit of the Holy One, blessed be He, come out from it, and the one that takes them does so at the time that they come out before the Holy One, blessed be He. Each one enters into an image, to assume form in that place that is called likeness (demut), and they are the four beasts. Each one is formed there in the image that is appropriate to it. From there all these images are formed according to their form like one that enters a mould to be formed.

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

Ma‘arekhet ha-’Elohut, ch. 10, 144a

Know that a person’s physical form is made in the [likeness of the] supernal image (demut ‘elyon), and the supernal image is the [sefirotic] edifice… Now that you know the human form (surat ha-’adam), if you have received through oral transmission, you can comprehend the truth of the prophetic vision seen by the prophets. The rabbis, blessed be their memory, called this vision the measure of the stature (Shi‘ur Qomah).… Concerning it is said in Scripture, “Let us make man in our image and in our likeness” (Gen. 1-26), and regarding the vision it is said, “and through the prophets I was imaged” (Hosea 12-11). R. Isaac [ben Todros] said that [this is alluded to] by the sign, the [word] temunah [image] numerically equals [the expression] parsuf ’adam [human countenace]. I have also found this in the words of R. Eleazar of Worms.

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

Sefer Hasidim, § 1514, pp. 369-370.

It is written “I will make all My goodness pass before you” (Exod. 33-19). The word “all” (kol) [in the expression “all My goodness,” kol tuvi] numerically equals fifty [which corresponds to the fifty] gates of understanding. Upon each and every gate there is appointed an angel. The expression “all My goodness” (kol tuvi) numerically equals [the word] mazzal, [zodiacal sign], for [God] showed Moses the sign of their souls… This is the meaning of “all My goodness before you.” It should have been written “all My goodness before your eyes.” Rather [the use of the expression “before you,” ‘al panekha] alludes to the fact that the face of Moses is above when He passes above over that very form, the angel comes down upon him and informs him… Thus it says, “And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him” (Gen. 1-27)- one [image] above and one [image] below.

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, Hokhmat ha-Nefesh, ch. 48, p. 80

Every angel who is an archon of the zodiacal sign (sar mazzal) of a person when it is sent below has the image of the person who is under it… And this is the meaning of “And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him” (Gen. 1-27). Why is [it written] twice, “in His image” and “in the image”? One image refers to the image of man and the other to the image of the angel of the zodiacal sign which is in the image of the man.

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

Sefer ha-Temunah (Lemberg, 1892), 25a.

Thus everything is found in the tradition of the kabbalists who comprehend everything by means of the prophets from the verses that indicate the matter in verses that are known to those who comprehend. These [scriptural verses] are called ‘chapter headings’ for they are the limbs of the body, and the sefirot are in a human image, for man is a microcosmos, as it says, ‘Let us make man in our image and in our likeness’ (Gen. 1-26).

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, Sefer ha-Mishqal, p. 130.

You should know that the Holy One, blessed be He, created man with wisdom and made him an admixture of all of the spiritual things above and all of the physical things below, and he is the secret of the paradigm of God [sod dugmat elohim], in that he is in the paradigm of above and below, and they are all in man in a concealed manner, and they are known to the finders of favor… We find that man is in the secret of the concealed and the revealed. Revealed from the secret of this world, and concealed from the secret of the world above, and therefore man encompasses all of the worlds.

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

Zohar 1-130b

Come and see. When the Holy One, blessed be He, created man, He took his dust from the place of the Temple, and He built his body from the four sides of the world, for all of them gave him strength. Then, He endowed him with the spirit of life, as it is said, “and He breathed into his nostrils a living soul” (Gen. 2-7). Then, he stood and realized that he is [composed] of above and below, and therefore he cleaves to and knows the supernal Wisdom. In this manner all men in the world are integrated above and below, and all those who know how to become sanctified in this world as is appropriate, when they give birth to a son, they draw down upon him a holy spirit from the place where all holy things come forth, and these are called the sons of the Holy One, blessed be He, since the body is made in holiness as is appropriate, so too they give him a spirit from a supernal holy place as is appropriate, and in this manner it is stated.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 2-140b

“And you shall bring me an offering” (Ex. 25-2). And you shall bring for me and an offering is not written, in order to show that everything is one with no separation. The workmanship of the mishkan is in a supernal manner, this according to that, in order to include the shekhinah in all aspects, above and below, here, in this world. The workmanship [of the mishkan] is like the creation of the body, to encompass the spirit within it, and this is the shekhinah, which is encompassed above and below, and this is the Holy Spirit, which always flows and ascends within the mystery of the body to cause the kernel to dwell within the husk, all as is appropriate. This spirit of holiness is made within the body in order to encompass within it another supernal, pure and brilliant spirit, and everything is united and encompassed this within that, and ascends this within that and is united with this world, which is the final external husk.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 1-26a

“And the Lord God formed the man” (Gen. 2-7), this is Israel. At that time the Holy One, blessed be He, formed them in the forms of this world and the world to come. “And [the Lord God] formed,” at that time the Holy One, blessed be He, elevated them into His name, in the form of two yods, Y, Y, with a vav between them, for this equals the numerical value of [the tetragrammaton] YHVH [26], and they became formed with His face, in their face with two yods, in their seal [circumcision] with the letter vav. And on account of this scripture states, “From the tops of the rocks [tzurim] I see him” (Num. 23-9), these are the forms [tziyyurim] of the holy name, and they become formed in their faces with two precious tablets, which are [the letter yod] Y, Y, and he is the vav inscribed upon them. And moreover, He created each generation with its nuptial counterpart above, that is yah, and they are the vav, the unity of both of them. And He formed them with this, for the supernal form that is Israel is the central pillar, encompassing the upper and lower shekhinah, which is the recitation of the evening and morning shema prayer, and of this it is said, “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2-23). And immediately at that time He planted Israel in the holy Garden of Eden, thus it is written “And the Lord God planted” (Gen. 2-8), mother and father, “a garden,” this is the lower shekhinah, “Eden,” this is the Upper Mother, “the adam,” this is the central pillar, he is His planting, His nuptial counterpart, and he will not depart from Him for ever, and he will be His delight. And Israel, the Holy One, blessed be He, planted them at that time as a holy planting in the world, as it is said, ”[And your people are all righteous, the will inherit the land for ever], shoot of my planting, work of my hands, that I may be glorified” (Isaiah, 60-21).

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 1-83a-b

“With my breath [I have longed for you at night],” in order to pursue after you and not to be tempted astray by any foreign kind. Come and see. “My breath,” this is the breath that has dominion at night to pursue after its level. The spirit [has dominion] during the day, as it is written, “with my soul I have desired you at night,” this is the soul that has dominion at night, “with my spirit within me I seek you,” this is the spirit which has dominion during the day. And if you think that these are two levels separated from one another, it is not so, for they are one level, and they are two in one combination, and there is another supernal one that has dominion over them and cleaves to them and they are within it, and it is called soul [neshamah], and all of these levels ascend into the secret of wisdom, for when one gazes into these levels, such a man gazes into the supernal wisdom. And this soul ascends into them and they cleave to it, and when it has dominion, then such a man is called “holy,” “completed of all,” a single desire towards the Holy One, Blessed be He. Breath [nefesh] is the lower arousal, as it is coextensive with the body and it nourishes it, and the body is united with it, and it is united with the body. Afterwards, a throne is adorned and made for the spirit to dwell upon in the arousal of this breath that is united with the body, as it is written, “until He pours forth a spirit upon us from on high” (Isaiah 32-15). And after both [the breath and the spirit] are adorned, they are ready to receive the soul, for the spirit is made to be a throne for the soul to dwell upon, and this soul is hidden, supernal above all, concealed of all concealed. There is a throne for a throne, and a throne for that which is elevated above it, and when one gazes into the levels, one finds the mystery of wisdom in this matter [milah], and all is wisdom, to cleave in this manner to concealed matters. Come and see. Breath is the lower arousal that cleaves to the body. [This can be understood] in the manner of the flame of a candle, for the lower flame, which is black, adheres to the wick, and it does not separate from it and it is adorned only in it. When it is adorned in the wick, it becomes a throne for the white light above it which dwells upon the black light. Then, when both of them are adorned, the white light becomes a throne for a concealed light that is not seen and not known which dwells upon the white light; and thus, a complete light. Such it is with man, for he is perfected of all, and for this reason he is called Holy, as it is said “to the holy ones that are upon the earth…” (Ps. 16-3). In this manner is the upper mystery.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 1-205b-206a

Rabbi Isaac and Rabbi Yehudah were sitting one night studying Torah. Rabbi Isaac said to Rabbi Yehudah, thus it is taught, that when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world, He created the lower world corresponding to the upper world, and everything is this according to that, and His glory is above and below. Rabbi Yehudah said, thus it is indeed, and He created man over all, as it is written, “I have created the earth, and I have created man upon it” (Isaiah 45-12), “I have created the world” indeed, and for what reason [does it say] “I have created the world?” Because “I have created man upon it,” for he is the sustenance of the world, in order that everything can be in one perfection. He opened and said, “Thus says God the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who established the earth and that which comes forth from it, who gives soul to the people upon it, and spirit to those who walk upon it” (Isaiah 42-5). This passage is established, but “thus says God the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out,” this is the Holy One, blessed be He, above, above, for he creates the heavens and adorns them always at every instant. “Who established the earth and that which comes forth from it,” this is the holy land, the bundle of life. “Who gives soul to the people upon it,” Rabbi Isaac said, all is above, because from there issues forth the soul of life to this land. And the land takes the soul to give it to all, since that river that flows and goes forth gives and ascends souls to this land, and it gathers them and gives them to all. Come and see. When the Holy One, blessed be He, created Man, he gathered his dust from the four sides of the world, and made him in the place of the lower Temple, and He drew down upon him a living soul from the supernal Temple. And the soul encompasses three levels, and because of this the soul has three names in the manner of the upper mystery, breath, spirit, and soul. Breath, as it has already been established, is the lowest of all. Spirit is the sustenance that rules over breath, and it is the gradation above it, to be sustained above it as is appropriate. Soul is the sustenance that is above all, and it rules over every supernal holy gradation. These three gradations are encompassed within the human beings, within those who merit the worship of their master. In the beginning he has breath, and this is a holy adornment to be adorned within a human being. Once a human being comes to be adorned with this gradation, he is prepared to be crowned with the spirit, which is the holy gradation that dwells upon breath, to crown a human being who merits this. Once he ascends to breath and spirit, and he ascends and is adorned in the worship of his master as is appropriate, then the soul dwells upon him, a holy supernal gradation that rules over all, in order to be crowned in the supernal holy gradation. Thus, he is completed of all, complete in all sides, meriting the world to come, and he is the merciful one of the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is said, “That I [God] may bequeath substance [yeish] to those who love Me” (Prov., 8-21). Who are “those who love Me?” These are those who have a holy soul within them. Rabbi Yehudah said, if this is so, then why is it written, “all that had the soul of living spirit in its nostrils, [of all that lived upon dry land, died]?” (Gen., 7-22) He said to him, this is indeed the case, for there did not remain among those [that died in the flood] any that had a holy soul, like Enoch or Jared, or any of the righteous ones, to protect the world, and [since they were no longer alive at the time of the flood] the world was not saved for their sake. Thus it is written, “all that had the soul of living spirit in its nostrils, of all that lived upon dry land, died” (Gen., 7-22). They had already died and ascended from the world, and there did not remain any of them to protect the world at that time. Come and see. All of these gradations are one above the other, breath, spirit and soul, gradation above gradation. Breath comes first, and it is the lowest level, as has been said. Spirit comes next and it dwells upon breath and is sustained upon it. Soul is the gradation that ascends over all, as it is established. Breath, this is the breath of David, and this is that which is sustained from the breath that it receives from the river that flows continuously. Spirit, this is the spirit that dwells upon the Breath, and there is no sustenance for the Breath other than the spirit, and this is the spirit that dwells between fire and water, and from this it sustains the breath. Spirit subsists by the sustenance of another supernal gradation called soul, and from there come forth breath and spirit. From there the spirit is nourished, and when it [the soul] takes the spirit, it also therefore takes the breath, and thus All is one, and they draw near one anther, the breath draws close to the spirit, and the spirit draws close to the soul, and all is one. Come and see. “And then Yehudah drew near to him [Jacob]…” (Gen. 40-18). This is the drawing near of one world to another, in order to unite this with that, so that everything will be one. Since Judah is a king and Joseph is a king, they drew near one another and united with one another.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 2-229b

Come and see. The soul does not ascend to appear before the Holy King until it merits to be garbed in supernal garments and to appear there. And thus, in this manner, he does not descend below until he is garbed in the garments of this world. In this manner [also] the holy angels above, of whom it is written, “He makes the winds His messengers, lapping flames His ministers” (Ps. 104-4). When they perform a mission in this world, they do not descend below until they are garbed in the garments of this world, and everything is [garbed] in accordance with the place where it ventures. And in this manner it has been established that the soul does not ascend except in a garment that shines. Come and see. The first adam was garbed in this manner in the Garden of Eden. He was garbed in the garments in the manner of above, and that is a garment of supernal light. Once he was driven out from the Garden of Eden, and he required the aspects of this world, what is written? “And the Lord God made garments of skin (‘or) for Adam and his wife, and clothed them” (Gen. 3-20). At first they were garments of light (or), the light of that supernal light that He communed in [de-shimesh bei] in the Garden of Eden, because the Garden of Eden is supernal light that shines, communing in Him. Because of this, when the Holy One, blessed be He, elevated the first adam into the Garden of Eden, He garbed him in the garment of that light and He ascended him there. Where he not garbed at first in that light, he would not ascend there. Once he was driven out from there, he required another garment, and thus, “and the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife…” Everything is according to necessity… for the good deeds that a man performs in this world, these are made into skins of light from the supernal radiance, a garment to adorn him in that world and to appear before the Holy One, blessed be He. In that garment that he wears, he is delighted by and sees into the speculum that shines, as it is said, “to gaze at the pleasure of God and to dwell in His courtyards” (Ps. 27-7). In this way, the soul is garbed in two worlds, so that it will be completed in all, in this world below and in the world above, and of this it is written, “righteous men shall praise Your Name, the upright shall dwell in your presence” (Ps. 140-14). “The righteous shall praise Your Name,” in this world, “the upright shall dwell in your presence,” in that world.

Translated by Hartley Lachter

Zohar 1-245a

Come and see. There are three souls, and they ascend to known upper gradations, and since these are three, they are four. One is the supernal soul that is not grasped, and the treasurer of the upper house does not arouse it, much less below. This is the soul of all souls, and it is concealed and never revealed, and it is not known, and everything depends upon it. And it wraps itself within the splendor of the precious gem, within the brightness, and pearls suspend from it drop by drop, and they are all connected as one, like the connections of the members of a single body. And He enters into them and reveals His works through them. They and He are one, there is no separation between them. This supernal soul is the Concealed of All. There is another female soul, concealed within her power, and she is a soul for them, and with them the body is united, to show action through them to the whole world, like the body which is a utensil for the soul to perform action. And these are like those concealed connections above. Another soul is the souls of the righteous below. The souls of the righteous come from those souls above, from the soul of the feminine and the soul of the masculine. And because of this, the souls of the righteous are superior to all of the forces and camps above.

Translated by Hartley Lachter