Sacred Texts  Judaism  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 145

NOW the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made" (Gen. iii. 1). "Beast of the field" signifies the idolatrous nations who are the offspring and progeny of the old serpent who tempted and seduced Eve to do evil by exciting selfishness and other animal propensities within her. Under their influence she conceived and brought forth Cain, who killed28b Abel his brother, the shepherd of whom the scripture terms "beschagam," "because he is flesh." This word also is used of Moses, who killed the Egyptian. Moses may also be regarded as the eldest son of Adam. When the children went up out of Egypt, a great multitude of strangers went with them and became intermingled with them. Also, during their sojourn in the wilderness and on their journey to the promised land, strangers belonging to another nation, such as the Kenites of whom Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, was the head, flung in their lot with and dwelt amongst the Israelites. These strangers or aliens Moses wished to convert and make one with the children of Israel. The Holy One who counts a good intention as a good action, said unto him: "Thou desirest what is impossible. Through them thy descendants will suffer. It was such as they who caused Adam to sin and disobey after it had been said unto him: 'From the tree of knowledge of good and evil shalt thou not eat,' and it will be they who will cause the children of Israel

p. 146

to go into captivity, and also through them thou wilt not be able28b to enter into the promised land."

The failure of Moses to enter along with the Israelites into the Holy land was owing to the murmurings and cries of these strangers causing him, in a moment of anger, to strike the rock with the rod God had given him, instead of speaking to the rock as he had been commanded (Nunn. xx. 8). Like Adam, in his disobedience, so Moses too had to suffer the penalty for his act of disobedience. But as the Holy One rewards the good intention equally as the good deed, therefore He said to Moses: "I will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they" (Num. xiv. 12). The Holy One said: "Whoso hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book" (Ex. xxxii. 33), which words apply to the descendants of Amalek, of whom it is written: "Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek, for they it was that caused the tables of the law to be broken."

"And their eyes were opened and they saw they were naked" (Gen. iii. 7) refers to Israel when they were living amidst the mud and clay of Egypt and had no knowledge of the secret doctrine. Therefore spake the prophet concerning them: "Thou art naked and bare" (Ezek. xvi. 7). This is also why Job repeated the word "naked." "Naked came I out of my mother's womb and naked shall I return thither" (Job i. 21.). He used the word shameh (thither), which has the same letters as Moseh (Moses), to show that he, Moses, wished to convert the strangers and that hereafter he will reincarnate and appear again to Israel in order to proclaim and make known the Schekina. These words of Job also refer to the time when Israel in captivity would perceive they were naked or devoid of the secret doctrine, and therefore said: "Jehovah hath given, Jehovah hath taken away, may the name of Jehovah be blessed."

And they sewed figleaves together and made themselves aprons" (Gen. iii. 7). The meaning of these words is, that man will cloak himself with the frail coverings of his own sinful propensities when he perceives himself naked and has nothing to hide and cover what should be hidden. The garment with which Israel covers himself is the legal robe with its fringes and borders and also the phylacteries and sandals, and therefore scripture saith: "And the Lord God made unto Adam and his wife coats of skins and clothed them" (Gen. iii. 21). The hagoroth (coats or coverings) is here used in order to distinguish the

p. 147

legal robe, and therefore it is written "hagor." "Gird thy sword upon thy thigh and make thy glory and majesty appear" (Ps. xlv. 3), referring to the Shema repeated when each one is arrayed in the legal robe when "the high praises of God are in their mouth and a two-edged sword in their hand" (Ps. cxlix. 6).

"And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden" (Gen. iii. 8). These words allude to the voice of God heard by Israel when at Mount Sinai, and as scripture saith: "Did ever a people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire?" (Deuter. iv. 33). On hearing this voice the strangers or aliens (Ereb. Rah) in Israel perished, for they it was who said: "Let not God speak with us lest we die" (Ex. xx. 19). After their death the law was given. The ignorant of the present time who know not and recognize no other law than that of selfishness, are incarnations of these strangers and are indicated by the words: "Cursed is he that lieth with any manner of beast" (Deuter. xxvii. 21), because they derive their origin from the serpent to whom it was said:28b-29a "Cursed art thou above all cattle and above every beast of the field" (Gen. iii. 14).

Many impurities exist in Israel and are as dangerous and noxious as snakes and serpents. There are those that originated at first from the tempter, also those of idolators who resemble the wild animals and savage beasts of the field. There is also the impurity arising from wrongdoing in daily life and still more, the impurity of the evil-minded. All these are found afflicting Israel, yet is there no greater impurity than that of Amalek or that personified evil called and known as "The God of this world." It is that "which poisons all within and hardens all the feeling." It causes the death of the soul and transforms it into an idolater, a worshipper of the world and its golden image of wealth. Its occult name is Samael, "The poison God." Though Samael was the name of the serpent that tempted and seduced Adam and Eve, yet are they one and the same and are both cursed alike.

"And the Lord God called the man and said 'Where art thou?'" (aicha). In this verse God showed to Adam the destruction of the temple or holy place, causing great sorrow and anguish of heart, as alluded to in the verse of scripture beginning with this word "aicha." "How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people" (Lam. i. 1). In both these passages of scripture this word "aicha" is as a mournful note in a bar of music. It will not, however, always be so. The time will arrive

p. 148

when the Holy One shall banish and destroy all evil in the world as it is written: "Death is swallowed up forever and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces and the rebuke of his people (humanity) shall be taken away from off all the earth"29a (Is. xxv. 8), and in that day Jehovah shall be One and His name One.Zech. 14:9

We are taught by tradition that all which Solomon wrote in the "Song of Songs" has reference to the King of Peace who, though he rules below, yet has his kingdom on high and thus is king of both worlds. This is occultly signified by the letter B, whose numerical value is two, placed at the beginning of the word hochma in the Scripture, "be-hochma, by wisdom is the house built" (Prov. xxiv. 3), and also in the verse "King Solomon made himself a sedan of the wood of Lebanon" (Cant. iii. 9). By the word sedan (thequna) is meant the renovation of the lower world by the action, and influence of the higher world, the action of the Higher Self on the lower nature. Before the creation the existence of the Divine Being was unknown and his attributes nameless and unrecognized, and, as there was no speech or tongue to express his glory and being, His name was hidden and concealed in Himself. When the Holy One created the universe He impressed upon it marks of design and formed worlds which did not endure, but perished and passed away. Then the Divine, Ain Soph (the boundless One) surrounded or enveloped Himself with a garment of light of transcendent brilliance, from which emanated and came forth the great and lofty trees of Lebanon, and the twenty-two letters became the sedan or chariot of God. The law by which the world was created (the ten words) was established and confirmed so that it changeth not. This is the meaning of the above verse, as also of the words "The trees of the field together with the cedars of Lebanon which the Lord hath planted, are full of sap" (Ps. civ. 16), for they have been planted by the King of Peace for his glory in order that every one may know and recognize that He is One and His name is One--that His name is Jehovah the most High above all the earth.

By this manifestation of the Divine a way of access has been opened and the light thereof has become visible throughout the universe and is the light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world. It is circumambient as the air and, like the ocean, rolls all round the world. From it hath proceeded all things and unto it all things shall return as it is written: "All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full--unto the place

p. 149

whence the rivers come, thither shall they return again" (Eccles. i. 7). The light divine attracts and draws all other lights, so that they become at last blended and unified with it. This final consummation is alluded to in the words "I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley" (Cant. ii. 1), the word Sharon signifying field or rather the ocean that absorbs all the rivers) of the world which proceed from and return into it again.

Be-hochma, "by wisdom the house has been built." The letter Beth or B, whose numerical value, as we have stated, is two, signifies the two kingdoms, celestial and terrestrial, of heaven and earth (the lower and Higher Self). It is by the establishment of the celestial on the terrestrial, or of heaven upon earth, that the house of the King (humanity) will become united and the King will rejoice thereat, for then the two kingdoms will become one and then the new and living way will become opened to those who make themselves susceptible and receptive of the Higher and Diviner life. Therefore is it written "Brashith, bra Alhim" (Gen. i. 1). The two kingdoms created by Alhim (B--two, rashit--kingdoms) for the kingdom is called reshith (beginning) according to the words "Reshith Hochma." Before the manifestation of Alhim, the celestial or primal light resembled a great frozen ocean and rivers could not flow into it, as they like it were frozen also. It was this great congealed29a-29b ocean to which Job referred: "Out of whose womb came the ice?" (Job xxxviii. 29). As long as the ocean remained frozen, so long was it of no benefit to man, and the rivers ceased running their courses into it. When the north sea is frozen it continues so until the advent of the south wind with its heat and warmth. The rivers and streams then begin to flow again towards the south and from their waters, the beasts of the field, as scripture saith, do quench their thirst.

Thus will it be when the Higher Self of humanity rules over its lower nature. The ice will dissolve and melt away, the waters of divine life will flow continuously, and every voice shall sing and give thanks to heaven for its deliverance from Self. This glorious consummation is symbolized by the sounding of the shophar or trumpet, the prelude of the great deliverance. There is a further allusion to this union of the higher and lower kingdoms (the human with the divine life) in the words "As long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the earth" (I. Sam. xx. 31), for divine life upon the earth is only possible through the Messiah, the son of Jesse. He it is who is master and lord over all, and

p. 150

from him the earth (humanity and individual life) receiveth its nourishment and sustenance.

This is why the scripture says, ve-ath haaretz (and the earth).29b-30a The letter V joined to ath designates the nourishment of the world which comes from Alhim. The ath, composed of the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, denotes also the Alhim who dwelleth in the heavens as it is written "Go forth ye daughters of Sion and behold King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him on the day of his marriage" (Cant. iii. 11). As Alhim, by the operation of the two supreme sephiroth, the one male and the other female, descended below, therefore is he lord of the heaven and earth by conjoining and making them one, He it was who, attracted heaven to earth whilst the King on high attracts the earth to heaven, each of which has its own special way or path, that of the earth being broad and wide and referred to in scripture as "The path of the just is as the shining light" (Prov. iv. 18), whilst that leading to the Kingdom of heaven (the higher life) is referred to in the words "There is a path which no fowl knoweth and which the vulture's eye haft not seen, the lion's whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it" (Job xxviii. 7, 8).

The mystery of these two different ways is expressed thus: "Who maketh a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters (Is. xliii. 16), and also by the Psalmist: "Thy way is in the sea and thy path in the great waters" (Ps. lxxvii. 19). When these two worlds become united and blended together they are symbolized by the union of the male and female, the one being then the complement of the other. It is also written: "Lift up your eyes on high and behold! Mi (who) hath created aleh (these)" (Is. xl. 26). In these words is expressed the whole work of creation, for by Mi above and Aleh below everything has been formed and made. And this is why at the very beginning of the book of Genesis, the letter B is repeated twice, as also the letter A in the consecutive words "Brashith Bra, Alhim, Ath;" B representing the female and A the male principle. It is from these two letters that all the other letters have proceeded, the total of which is denoted by the Hashamayim (the heavens). The letter V prefixed to the word ve-ath haaretz (and the earth) shows that the H gives birth to heaven, and a way to it, whilst V gives birth to earth, and provides it with nourishment and everything that

p. 151

it needs to sustain it. The word ve-ath also indicates that the V30a takes the A and Th, symbolical of the beginning and end, and by their conjunction the earth is fed and supported. The occult mystery of this is expressed in the words "All the rivers run into the sea" (Eccles. i. 7).

There is no effect without a cause, is a truth that cannot be denied. Yet our judgments concerning effects are often erroneous. For instance, the sound we hear when an anvil is struck by a hammer does not proceed from the anvil, as imagined, but is the result of their concussion which causes vibration in the air. Also volcanic flames are not due to the earth from which they come forth, but to the fire in the interior of it. When scripture saith: "And Mount Sinai was enveloped in smoke, because the Lord descended thereon in the midst of the fire" (Ex. xix., 18), it signifies the conjunction of heaven and earth, the bringing together and union of the spiritual and material. Everything that takes place on earth has its cause in the invisible and noumenal world, which in scripture is described as, and said to be, the right hand of God, while the earth or world of effects is described as the left hand. "Mine hand also hath laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens. I will call them and they shall stand up before me" (Is. xlviii. 13), the heavens representing the male principle on the right hand, earth the female principle, on the left hand, both of them found together before Him.

Such is also the meaning of the words "Lift up your eyes and behold Mi (who) hath made Aleh (these)," Mi and Aleh being the complement of each other. Before creation it was impossible to form any conception of the creator, as hochma (wisdom) was hidden and unrevealed as the Primal Being. Only after the apparition of the Divine light in the universe and its rays beamed forth and became visible, could its existence be cognized and perceptible, its nature and quality being transcendently bright and pellucid. When, however, its apperception began, then the question arose Mi (who or what is it?) Without this Mi or Who? Aleh (these or that) could not have come into existence. The mystery of the origin of all things is adverted to in the words, already quoted, "Out of whose womb came the ice?" or rather "Out of the womb of Mi came the ice?" that is the world. Mi therefore is the progenitor of the earth and impregnated it with life and vitality. It was therefore only after the creation that Mi became the subject of thought.

p. 152

Again, the word Brashith, what does it signify? Does it mean that "by two words," that is, by K equal to "two" and rashith equal to "words," Alhim created, or by the word Alhim created, taking Brashith as a single word? The real meaning is that before the creation of the world there was no distinction between the Supreme Principle and the Creative Logos or Word, they being one and the same, and only after creation became they distinguished the one from the other. It is written "While the King sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof" (Cant. i. 12). The King signifies the Supreme or First Principle, the spikenard sending forth its odor, denotes the creative Word or Logos who is King below having formed the world30a-30b on the model or pattern of the world on high and "the smell thereof" is the divine light. There were two creations, viz., the heavens and the earth, and they were concomitant in time with each other; the creation of the former was effected by the right, that of the latter by the left hand, and extended over six celestial days as it is written: "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth" (Ex. xxxi. 17). These six days correspond to the six outlets through which the waters of life flowed into the world and also the six channels by which they return again on high. Through the six outlets it is that peace cometh into the world.

"And the earth was Tohu and Bohu, without form and void." The constituents of the primal matter of the earth at first were impure and shapeless and without form and continued in this state until, becoming impressed with the Divine name of forty-two letters, they took upon them different forms, qualities; and separated into the four elements of fire, air, earth and water. After their purification and combination in different proportions, these contributed to the formation of the physical and natural world, the four cardinal points, and to the infinite variety of forms and colors, existent therein and all on the pattern of the higher world. Ere this was accomplished and before the Divine name of forty-two letters had been impressed upon the primal matter of the earth when in a state of chaos, the great serpent alone and his demon hosts of elemental beings, leaving the chaotic world of Tohu and Bohu penetrated into the higher world to the height of 1,500 cubits, but were eventually expelled and hurled headlong into the abysmal darkness where they abode until the primal heavenly light shone upon the earth and dispelled

p. 153

the obscurity in which it was enshrouded, therefore is it written: "He discovereth deep things out of darkness and bringeth out to light the shadow of death" (Job xii. 22).

Before the advent of the light, universal darkness prevailed and the waters were congealed so that the earth was without rivers or streams. On the appearance of light, however, they were liquefied by its rays and became fluidic and the arid earth refreshed by them was rendered fertile and adapted for vegetable and animal life. The celestial light of which scripture speaks existed from all eternity. As soon as it dawned its splendor was visible from one extremity of the world to the other, but foreseeing that it would he unappreciated and unregarded by mankind in general, the Divine Being concealed it, so that it should be accessible only to those who walk in the straight and narrow path leading to its discovery and enjoyment. Happy they who find it, for then they become sons of God and children of the Light.

"And God saw the light, that it was good." It has been handed down from our forefathers that dreams in connection with a good object are presages of peace and blessings, especially when letters composing words are seen by the dreamer in their right order and sequence. For instance, the letters T, O, bh of the word Tobh seen in their order denote good, so that he who30b sees the initial letter T may take it as a favorable sigma or token, and as a synonym of Tab, signifying peace. The numerical value of T, initial letter of the word T-v-b, is nine and symbolizes the ninth Sephira Malcuth, which receives its light from the first Sephira Kether (crown). The letter V is a symbol of the light proceeding from the first two sephiroth and B is the symbol of the first sephira and therefore it is the first letter with which scripture commences, Brashith. Thus each of the letters in this word T-v-b are symbols of the three highest sephiroth and designate the just and upright in the world who unite in themselves the heaven and the earth, therefore it is written: "Say unto the righteous it is good" (Is. iii. 10), as the divine light and life dwelleth within them, manifesting as goodness from above and mercy and compassion or unselfishness from below as saith scripture: "The lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all his works" (Ps. cxlv. 9). In the words "to all" is expressed the prophecy that the day will dawn upon the world when every man's eyes shall be opened and the light he seen by

p. 154

all. Such is the mystic meaning of these words. "Brashith bra Alhim," in the beginning.

The occult meaning of these first words of scripture is adverted to in the verse: "When ye come into the land whither bring you, it shall be when ye eat of the fruit of the land, ye shall offer up as a sheave-offering to the Lord your first fruits" (Num. xv. 19, 20). The first fruits are a symbol of Hochma, the divine wisdom, the first sephira or manifestation of the Divine Being on the earth plane, and thus may be considered the first fruits. Brashith signifies then, "by the first fruits," and B, its initial letter, denotes the world watered and refreshed by the mystic river mentioned in the verse: "And a river went out of Eden to water the garden" (Gen. ii. 10). This river, proceeding out of the secret place of the Most High, never ceases to flow down upon the world or the garden, as it is termed. This secret place of its origin or fount is symbolized by B, the first letter in the book of Genesis. It includes in itself all the other letters and symbolizes also the river which gives life to all things. The secret place resembles a narrow path most difficult to discover and walk therein, yet bestudded with many priceless gems. From it proceed two great life forces, indicated by the word ha-shamayim (the two heavens) and used in scripture to denote the source of this mystic river. The words that follow after, viz., "veath haaretzs" (and the earth) possess a mystical meaning, implying that the mystic river flowing down from the heavens on to the earth will bring with its waters peace and salvation to mankind, which will in their realization be the first fruits when heaven and earth become united and blended together.

At the time of creation there was no distinction, no dark deep gulf or rent between heaven and the earth.30a-31b When, however, they became separated, the earth fell into the state of chaos and confusion (Tohu and Bohu) and only by the action and silent operation of the heavenly light can they again become united. When the light from the right hand of God fell upon the earth, darkness from the left hand also went forth and encompassed it. Thus they became blended together, the light being hidden within the darkness. In order, however, that the earth might be blessed and become fertile and fruitbearing, God divided and separated them, only to unite them again eventually as they are the complement of each other and from the evening and the morning shall be an eternal day. There is no day without night

p. 155

and no night without day in this world, and this sequence of the31a great law of the universe (growth and decay, life and death) will endure until the accomplishment and realization of the Psalmist's prophecy: "The darkness and the light shall be both alike" (Ps. cxxxix. 12).

Next: Chapter XIV. A Kabbalistic Symposium by Rabbi Simeon's Students