THEN began Rabbi Simeon to discourse on the secret doctrine. "In the beginning created God" (Gen. i. 1). These words are included in the first commandment which is known as "the fear of the Lord," the first step in the acquiring of true wisdom and knowledge. It is also called the beginning because it is the true gate through which we enter into the higher mysteries of the divine life. and is the foundation upon which the world exists. There are three kinds of fear, two of which are of no avail in the search after truth, and have no reference except to bodily or physical enjoyment and delight, and the preservation of wealth, and therefore are altogether unmeritorious. True fear is that affection which arises from a feeling of reverence toward the Holy One as being all powerful, the rootless root of all life and existence and in whose eyes the illimitable universe with all its inhabitants are as nothing. This the fear which when exercised tends to bring nearer the time when the divine will shall universally prevail throughout the world.
In uttering these words Rabbi Simeon was affected to tears and said: Woe unto me whether I speak or keep silence! For if I speak, sinners will know how to worship and serve the Lord, and refraining therefrom will thus add to their guilt, and if I keep silent then I keep back knowledge that ought to be imparted to you. The man whose fear springs from a dread of affliction that may assail him, falls under the power and influence of evil that becomes his tormentor. The only right fear is that described by
scripture, as "The beginning of wisdom and knowledge."11b-12a Whoever begins the divine life with it, begins well and observes all the other precepts which are included in it. On the contrary, whoever exercises it not breaks and violates them, and to him may be applied the words of scripture: "And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the great deep, and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters" (Gen. i. 2). In this verse are designated the four kinds of punishments inflicted upon the ungodly: Tohu (without form), the punishment of strangulation referred to by the prophet Isaiah (Ch. xxxiv. 11) as the cord of Tohu. Bohu (void), which ejected great stones by which criminals are stoned, is the second kind of punishment. The third is darkness (choshek) or death by fire, as it is written: "When ye heard his voice out of the midst of the darkness, for the mountain did burn with fire" (Deuter. v. 23). The words: "And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters," refer to the fourth mode of punishment, viz., death by beheading with a sword. It is written: "And he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, cherubim and a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life" (Gen. iii. 24). This flaming sword bears the name of "Spirit" and symbolizes the infliction of death meted out to transgressors of the commandments of the law.
Having described the first precept, viz., the fear of the Lord, come we now to the second which is intimately associated with it and never separated from it; that is, perfect love which everyone should cherish and entertain towards their Creator. If it he asked, what is perfect love, it is love of perfection, the one great love, as it is written: "Walk before me and be thou perfect" (Gen. xvii. 1). Furthermore, the scripture says: "And God said let there be Light" (Gen. i. 3). By the word Light is meant perfect love.
Then spake Rabbi Eleazar and said: My father, I have heard a definition of it which has just been given unto me. Rabbi Simeon said:
Then let Rabbi Pinchus hear it, now that he is here present. Said Rabbi Eleazar: Perfect love is that which manifests itself in two different ways or aspects and merits only to be called such. There are those who love God if he grants them wealth, length of days. offspring, worldly prosperity and success in their business enterprises, but hate and disregard him if the wheel of destiny or the good law brings them misfortune and suffering.
[paragraph continues] Perfect love is that which changes not, but continues and abides the same in all circumstances, be they joyous or adverse. We should therefore love God even if he takes from us life, health, yea everything we hold dear.
When Rabbi Eleazar had ceased speaking, Rabbi Simeon, his father, embraced him, and Rabbi Pinchus thanked him and said: Truly the Holy One has brought me hither in order to behold the great Pearl whose radiant light will ere long illuminate the world.
Rabbi Eleazar began speaking again: The fear of the Lord is inseparable from his commandments, especially that of perfect love, and happy the man in whose life and conduct they are manifested and conjoined, as it is written: "Happy is the man that feareth alway" (Prov. xxviii. 14), for his fear and love are so associated that even if misfortunes assail and overwhelm, it matters not. He is unmoved and his heart becomes not hardened so that he falls into sin.
Again Rabbi Simeon spake and said: The third precept is that which teaches there is an all powerful Being who is Lord of the Universe, and also to proclaim his unity by the repetition12a of the six words of the Shema, which correspond to the six directions in space, with a fixed intention to do his will. The word One in the Shema should be equal in the duration of its pronunciation to the six words. This is the reason why the scripture saith: "Let the waters be gathered together in one place" (Gen. i. 9), that is, that the waters of the rivers running into the ocean may testify of the unity of the six directions. Stress should be laid also upon the letter "d" in the word echad (one), the numerical of it being equal to four and indicating the four directions of the rivers. For this reason this letter in the word echad occurring in this verse is always written larger than the others. The attestation of the six points or directions having been made, should be confirmed by six other words: "Blessed be his glorious name forever." In recognizing this unity symbolized by the letter d, man walks on dry land that brings forth trees and fruits. This also is why God called the dry land, earth, which is twice mentioned, land and earth being one and the same. "And God saw that it was good," symbolizing the unity above and the unity below. When this took place the earth was able to bring forth fruits and flowers.
The fourth precept teaches that Jehovah is Lord, as it is written: "Know therefore this day and consider it in thine heart,
that the Lord he is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else" (Deuter. iv. 39). The word Alhim is in the divine name to show that they are one and the same, and12a-12b without distinction in nature or essence as implied in the words: "Let there be Meoroth (lights) in the firmament of heaven" (Gen. i. 14). This word is written without a V, being singular in its form to show that they, Jehovah and Alhim, are a unity, and not a duality. This is also symbolized by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night going before Israel in the desert, representing the divine Being who giveth light and guidance to all the world. In this consisted the sin of the serpent; he acknowledged the divine unity below but promulgated a multiplication above, a doctrine which has wrought great mischief and strife in the world. Man ought to acknowledge distinction below but unity on high, that is, distinction of the divine Being from the world, but unity of essence and nature which when recognized and universally acknowledged, then will the demon of evil and strife disappear from amongst mankind and have no longer power and influence in the world. This is also the occult meaning of "Let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven" (Gen. i, 15). The word A U R (light) is also a symbol of the divine unity as its letters are in alphabetical sequence. A first, then U, followed by R. This, however, is not the case with the word Muth (death) in which the letters are found inverted. M being the thirteenth letter of the Alphabet, U the sixth and Th the twenty-second. Now Meoroth is compounded of the two words A U R and Muth. If or be taken from it, Muth remains the symbol of death and separation. It was by these letters that Eve became the cause of evil in the world as the scripture saith: "And then the woman saw the tree was good" (Gen. iii. 6), she took the letters M V from Meoroth and with Th thus formed Muth, death, which then first entered into the world.
Then said Rabbi Eleazar: My father, we have learned that when the letter M was left, V, the symbol of life, took its departure. Eve then took the letter Th and added it to M as it is said: "And she took and gave to her husband" (Gen. iii. 6), and thus formed Muth (death). In order however to counteract its effects it is necessary to add further to it the letter A, whose numerical value is unity and symbol of the divine Being. Muth then becomes Ameth (truth), by which the world is saved. Said Rabbi Simeon: Happy art thou my son for the same explanation of the word has also been imparted to me.
The fifth precept. It is written: "Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that have life" (Gen. i. 20). In these words are included three commands, having reference to the study of the secret doctrine, the multiplication of the human species and circumcision on the eighth day after the birth of a male child. He who addicts and gives himself up to the study and acquisition of esoteric science becomes eventually united to his higher self and equal to angels.12b-13a Thus it is said: "Oh ye his angels, bless ye the Lord" (Ps. cxi. 20), signifying students of the secret doctrine who are called his angels upon earth as intimated in: the words, "and fowl that may fly above the earth" (Gen. i. 20), (also in Is. xl. 31): "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles" and so he able to go throughout the world as teachers and exponents of the truth that saves and purifies the souls and enlightens the minds of men. Thus the words, "fowl that may fly above the earth" refer to students of esoteric teaching called in scripture "waters." They are able to mount up to the great fountain of divine truth and partake of its living waters. That it might be so with him, David prayed: "Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me" (Ps. li. 10), that is, incline and open my heart for the study of the mysteries and occult meanings of thy word, and renew me with a right spirit, or, in other words, let my higher and lower nature become purified and unified.
With reference to the sixth precept contained in the words "Increase and multiply," he who conforms thereto increases the waters of the celestial river of life which never become dried up, but rather augmented by the birth of children. Every human soul, when it descends on to the earth plane, is accompanied by two attendant angels, one on the right side of it, the other on the left, as it is said: "He shall give his angels charge concerning thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." If, however, a man does wrong, they become his accusers.
Said Rabbi Pinchus: There really are three protecting angels to a good man as we read: "If there be a messenger or angel with him, or an interpreter, one among a thousand to plead his uprightness."Job 33:23 "If there be an angel," refers to the first; "An interpreter," to the second; "One among a thousand," the third.
Rabbi Simeon replied and said: As a matter of fact there are five guardian angels to each person, for the scripture further
proceeds: "He will be gracious unto him and will say." "He will be gracious," specifies the fourth; whilst "he will say," denotes the fifth.
Then said Rabbi Pinchus: Thy words are not altogether exact, for as much as "He will be gracious" refers to the Holy One, since compassion and graciousness belong only to Him. Thou speakest truly, replied Rabbi Simeon, for whoever ignores the precept "Increase and multiply" obstructs the flow or course of the celestial river of life and thus violates and profanes the holy covenant. Of such it is written: "They shall go forth and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me."Is. 66:24 "Against me," because this is a sin against God. The souls of such men will never enter unto the palace of the King, but be cast forth to live and dwell in the darkness and error of earth life.
The seventh precept has reference to the circumcision of male children on the eighth day of birth, by which, bodily impurity is taken away. Of the celestial regions whither souls come forth to be incarnated on earth, one of them, the eighth in order, is termed Haya (living). This is the reason why circumcision is performed on the eighth day of birth. In the ancient book of Enoch, the course of the celestial river of life is described as resembling the letter Yod (י) which enters into the composition of the seventy-two divine names imprinted on the body of a child at time of birth, and denotes its purity. The words: "And fowl that shall fly above the earth" allude to Elijah, who is present whenever the rite of circumcision is performed, when a throne or seat is formed and set specially for him by pronouncing the words: "This is Elijah's throne." If this is neglected, he does not attend. Furthermore, we read: "And God created great whales or fishes," alluding to the two great fishes called Leviathan, symbolizing the male and female principle that manifests itself in every part of the creation. The words: "and every living creature" refer to the sacred name imprinted on the bodies of all incarnated souls coming from the celestial region called Haya. "Which the waters brought forth abundantly," denotes the letter Yod (י) with which, as a sign, the angels above are distinguished from demons and also the children of Israel from other nations of the earth, viz., the impure and idolatrous. Blessed is the lot of Israel!
The eighth precept is that relating to the kindness to be shown to the proselyte who consents to be circumcised in order to
enjoy the protection of the sheltering wings of the Schekina, or13a-13b divine Presence, that guards and defends all those who, forsaking the worship of demons, give themselves up to the service of the true God. Thus it is written: "Let the earth bring forth, the living creature after its kind." The esoteric or mystical meaning of the words "after its kind," which are repeated twice in this verse of scripture, is as follows. The wings of the Schekina denote two celestial regions with many separate divisions or localities, whither the souls of proselytes return after separation from the body. The region included under the right wing contains two divisions through which pass the souls of the children of Israel, when after death they ascend to the celestial locality called Haya. The left wing with its two divisions is reserved for the nations of Ammon and Moab. All souls, however, whether they come forth from Haya, or Ammon and Moab, are living creatures differing in their kind, being those of Israel or those of proselytes who, as stated, ascend to the regions under the right wing of the Schekina. A further allusion to this mystery occurs in the words: "And ye shall be a delightful land."Mal 3:12 For this reason Israel is called ben yaqir (a dear son), because the Lord has given him a better portion than that of the proselytes. The children of Israel are also called "those whom I carry in my bosom," viz., the beautiful land to which, having ascended after death, they shall go out no more. The scriptures proceed further, "cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth after his kind," teaching us that animals differ in their natures and forms, though animated with the same breath and life, so human souls, though differing the one from the other, nevertheless derive their origin from the same divine source.
The ninth precept has reference to the poor and indigent, ministering to their necessities as it is written: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." "Let us make man." Here the plural form of expression is used in order to point out that the creation of man was effected by the two divine essences symbolized as the male and female. "In our image," betokens the rich, corresponding to the male, "after our likeness," the poor, corresponding to the female. Now just as the two divine essences form a single whole, so amongst men ought these two classes, the rich and poor, symbols of the male and female principles in the divine nature, to form one mutually co-operative whole or community. "And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and
every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth," the mystical13b meaning of which is given and explained in an occult work by King Solomon thus: "Whose has compassion on the poor, from his face and countenance will never fade away the reflection and glory of the divine likeness borne by the first man, by which he ruled and dominated the whole animal creation." As it is said: "And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, the fowl of the air, every creeping thing and the fish in the sea, etc." All these tremble and fear before the presence of man, because of the divine image imprinted thereon and is the only law of the creator enjoined upon the animal world that instills them with fear because of this image, first born by Adam. As long as man entertains and cherishes compassion and sympathy for the poor, he will continue to bear it. While he exercises charity he is truly human; when he ceases and refrains therefrom, he becomes and continues merely an animal. How can this be substantiated? From the life of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian monarch, whose dream of his own downfall was never realized whilst succoring the poor. Immediately he ceased from deeds of charity and compassion and suffered himself to become filled with pride of heart and vainglory, then was heard the voice of the heavenly watcher: "The Kingdom is departed from thee," that is, the seal and stamp of the divine born by Adam, vanished from him and he ceased to be human. "His heart became changed and a beast's heart was given him and he was driven out from amongst men and dwelt with the beasts of the field." For this reason the scripture in order to express the creation of man, makes use of the words: "Let us make man," to indicate that to preserve the divine image, we should be charitable and compassionate, as was the rich and affluent Boaz to Ruth.
The tenth precept concerns the fixing and girding of the phylacteries. Said Rabbi Simeon; "Thy head upon thee is like Carmel (Garden)."Cant. 7:5 These words have already been commented upon, but they have another and deeper meaning. "Thy head upon thee" refers to the phylactery of the head which represents the divine head, or, in other words, the divine name IHVH of which each of the letters stands for a verse of scripture which placed within the four sections of spaces of the phylactery of the head, correspond to the letters of the divine name. This is why we are taught by tradition that the words of scripture, "And all the people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord and they shall be afraid of thee,"Deut. 28:10 refers only to this
phylactery.13b-14a The first space or compartment contains the verse "Sanctify unto me all the first born whatsoever openeth the womb."Ex. 13:2 Connoting the first letter of the Tetragrammaton, viz., I (י) symbol of the first of all divine origins. This letter opens as it were the womb of the second, H, whereby it becomes fruitful. In the second space is enclosed the words: "and it shall be when the Lord shall bring forth into the land,"Ex. 13:5 referring to the second letter, H, whose womb as just stated is opened by Yod. In the Sepher Yetsirah we read, by fifty gates or openings of the celestial and concealed temple, the Yod enters and penetrates into H, that the sound of the schophar or trumpet may be heard. The schophar is securely closed until Yod comes and opens it and makes its sound heard, typifying freedom and the enfranchisement of the slaves and bondmen. It was by the sound of the schophar that the children of Israel marched out of Egypt, so will it always he, hereafter, the herald of freedom and deliverance. Such is the esoteric explanation of the letter H. The third space or section contains the Shema. "Hear Oh Israel, the Lord our God is one God,"Deut 6:4 and is a commentary on the letter V (vau) which proceeds from the two letters before it and unities them. The fourth space contains words of blessingsDeut. 11:13-21 and menaces to the congregation of Israel, by the observance of which they should become the happiest and most powerful amongst the nations of the world. It connotes the final, H, fourth letter of the divine name and is formed from and includes in it the other three preceding letters. From these observations we may gather the occult meaning of the phylacteries. They are really explanations of the letters of the Tetragrammaton or divine name and therefore the scripture saith: "Thy head upon thee is as Carmel," and also: "The hair of thy head is like purple." Now the word used for hair in this verse is not the ordinary term Saar, but daleth, which comes from the root word dal, signifying poverty denoted by the phylactery of the arm, as that of the head denotes riches or wealth, and it is further added: "the King is held in its plaits or tresses," meaning that the divine name of God is in the four compartments of the phylactery. Whoever wears the phylacteries bears the divine likeness, for as the divine essence is expressed in the Tetragrammaton, so man becomes hearer of his image. Furthermore, it is said: "Male and female created he them," thus the phylacteries also symbolize the male and female, and taken together forth one unit or whole. Such is the symbolism of the phylacteries.
The eleventh precept has reference to the levying and giving of tithes on corn, and the product of fruit trees. Regarding the first, scripture states: "And God said, behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth,"14a and of the fruit trees: "behold I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance,"Num. 18:12 and also: "All the tenth of the corn and of fruit trees are the Lord's and consecrated to him."Lev. 27:30
The twelfth precept concerns the tithes on fruit trees, as it is written: "every tree in which is the fruit of a tree, to you it shall be for food," or, in other words, though it is unlawful to keep what is consecrated to me I permit you to eat of the tenth of the products of the earth, whether of corn or trees, in order that they may serve as food to you and not to future generations.
The thirteenth precept relates to the redemption or purchase of the first born and thus making its life assured, for there are two angels, one of which is the lord of life, the other the lord of death, always hovering near and about at the time of birth. When a man redeems his child from the power of the latter then has it no power or influence over the life of his offspring. This is the esoteric meaning of the words: "And God saw every thing that he had made and behold it was very good." The word good designates the angel lord of life, the word very the angel lord of death. By redemption, the one is strengthened, the other enfeebled and has, as we have just said, no longer power over the child.
The fourteenth precept has respect to resting and ceasing from work on the sabbath day, as then God rested from the work of creation. This precept is subdivided into two others: one enjoining rest on this day, the other teaching us to keep it holy.
Concerning resting on the sabbath we have already said it was ordained, because the divine Being rested from his work which he then finished. When, however, the sabbath commenced, there were certain creatures who had not received bodies in which to incarnate. The question may here arise could not the Holy One have retarded the approach of the sabbath and thus have provided them with physical sheaths or bodies? The truth is, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil had excited them to revolt even before embodiment, through their great desire to descend into the world, or on to the earth, and make themselves lords and masters thereof. The Holy One then divided these into two classes of which he placed one, the good, by the tree of life, and
the other, the had, by the tree, of knowledge of good and evil. Whilst intent upon providing for the former with bodily forms, the sabbath day dawned, and thus the work was interrupted and suspended.
If these rebellious and ambitious spirits had acquired bodies, the world would not have continued to exist even for a moment. The Holy One had, however, provided a remedy against this prospective catastrophe by hastening the coming of the sabbath and therefore the world exists and continues. What those wicked spirits thought of doing by the procreation of and filling the world with their offspring was accomplished by those good spirits by the tree of life who from the night of the first sabbath discharged this duty. 14a-14b This is why the wise and they who understand, restrict their connubial relationships to the day of the sabbath so that the wicked spirits may recognize how inferior they are to those who, whilst incarnated, are able to discharge marital duties. It is these wicked spirits who go forth in their hordes throughout the world with the hope of surprising anyone who violates and infringes the esoteric injunction respecting the conjugal act, the offspring of which becomes afflicted with epilepsy through becoming obsessed by Lilith, the great mother of the demons, who kills and destroys the child.
As soon as, however, the Sabbath day begins, and whilst it endures, these wicked spirits becoming filled with terror, fly quickly away and hide themselves, with the exception of one of them named Assimon who, with his attendants, is authorized to go through the world in order to seek and find out transgressors of the law relating to conjugal practice. When the night however has passed, he is obliged to go and hide himself in the great abyss of darkness. The sabbath ended, hosts of demons reappear in the world, and therefore to ward off and be proof against their evil influence and nullify their power, the reading of the ninety-first Psalm has been enjoined. As soon as the demons observe the children of Israel engaged in prayer, and the reading of it and holding in their hands a cup of wine, they hurriedly rush away and disappear in deserts and solitary places in which they make their dens and hiding places. May the Holy One ever keep and preserve us from their noxious power and influence!
Our masters and great teachers (their names and memories be ever blessed) admonish us that there are three different ways by which a man may incur guilt and attract evil: either by invoking curses upon himself, by wastefully casting bread or crumbs
upon the ground, be they ever so small, and also at the conclusion14b of the sabbath by lighting a candle before first reading or reciting the psalm or liturgy of "separation" and by thus doing, causing the fires of Gehenna to be lighted before their time. There is in Gehenna a place reserved for those who break and profane the sabbath and who enjoy a respite from its fiery punishment whilst the sabbath endures and vent their maledictions and curses on them who light a candle before the prescribed time, saying: "May God hurl theeIs. 22:17 in his fury and bring thee hither and thus be tossed about as a ball so that thou becomest an object of shame and reprobation to thy kith and kindred."
The sanctity of the sabbath as long as it lasts imposes absolute rest both in the higher and lower worlds, during which, the punishments of the wicked cease and their overlookers remain inactive until the children of Israel have finished reciting the words: "Blessed art thou oh Lord who separateth the holy from the unholy." On him, however, who lights not his candle they invoke benedictions. Gen. 27:28
Ps. 14:1"God give thee of the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth and plenty of corn and wine. Blessed be thou in the city and blessed be thou in the field, etc." "Blessed is the man that considereth the poor, the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble." Why does the scripture use the words "in time of trouble," in place of "the evil day?" Because the evil spirit then is able to obtain the mastery over the soul of a man, and then it is the Lord will deliver him. By the word dal (poor) is meant the humble sin-sick soul who repents of his sins against the Holy One. Another and further interpretation of the words: "The Lord shall deliver him in time of trouble" is that they allude to the last or judgment day.
The end of the Introduction.