NdM p. 174-9 omitted in SoncinoSAID Rabbi Simeon: It is a tradition from the most ancient times that when the Holy One created the world he engraved and impressed on it in letters of brilliant light, the law by which it is sustained and governed. Above, below and on every side of it, it is engraved on every atom that man, by research and discovery, might become wise and conform himself to it as the rule of his life. The world below is, in shape and form, the reflection and copy of the world on high, so that there may be no discontinuity between them, but reciprocally act and react upon each other. This being so, we purpose to show that the same principle or law that operated in the creation of the physical world, operated also in the origin of man, and that both alike are manifestations of one and the same law. That this great fact may be more fully perceived, let us first consider the esoteric meaning of the words, "But they, like Adam, have transgressed the covenant, there have they dealt treacherously against me" (Hos. vi. 7).
When the Holy One created man he invested him with a form so transcendently glorious and perfect in its proportions, and with mental endowments so great, that all other creatures trembled and stood in awe at his presence amongst them; for on his visage he bore the imprint or reflection of the Divine, their
creator. Furthermore, the Holy One placed him in the garden of Eden, that there he might enjoy the pleasures and delights of angelic existence. In this beautiful abode, angels came round about him and made obeisance to him and revealed unto him their occult knowledge respecting the Divine Being, whom they regarded and worshiped as The Lord God of the universe, in order that he might unite and join them in His worship and service. Instructed in and taught the most profound celestial secrets, man became initiated in the mystery of wisdom (hochma), the first of the Sephiroth, in order that he might become imbued with an adequate idea and conception of the honor and glory due unto his maker.
In the invisible world, (or heaven, Devachan), there are seven spheres or states of existence, in which operate all those principles of life and existence which can only be matters of faith to the generality of mankind as at present constituted. Corresponding to them there are seven spheres or states, appertaining to and surrounding the lower world of humanity. Of these seven spheres, six can be apprehended by the human mind and only by those initiated into the highest mysteries. As the lower spheres belonging to the terrestrial world are formed after the pattern of those of the celestial world, the highest of the terrestrial spheres which comes between them is that which was at first designed by The Holy One as the abode and dwelling place of man in his primeval state of purity and sinlessness. After his expulsion from this Edenic sphere of existence, it became reserved by His Creator for the souls of the righteous in which they might enjoy the happiness of the beatific vision, or divine presence, and take on them the form and appearance of Adam before his fall.
THE FIRST, of these seven lower terrestrial spheres, is that from which proceeds an influence that prepares and qualifies dwellers on the earth plane to acquire a state of perfection, approximate and similar to that which distinguishes angelic beings. In it are found gathered together students of the Good Law, engaged in the study of that secret wisdom and doctrine that is never imparted except to just, upright and unselfish souls, who are admitted therein that they may enjoy a knowledge both of heaven and earth, and thus be better able to meditate on Divine mysteries and become receptive of heavenly delights and enjoyments. It is altogether invisible to ordinary human perception and the way of access to it unknown and undiscoverable save to
those who, amidst the afflictions and distress attendant on earth life, render a faithful obedience to the Divine law.
It is written, "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband" (Prow. xii. 4), in which words there is an occult reference to this sphere which as stated is a subject of faith and not of sight. A man ought therefore always to cleave unto and be faithful unto the Divine within him or his Higher Self and never deviate either to the right or left from its dictates and injunctions through menace or fear which in scripture is termed "the adulterous woman or a woman of fornications." Therefore is it written: "Say unto Wisdom, thou art my sister, and call understanding (binah) thy kinswoman, that they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words" (Prow. vii. 4, 5). In this sphere also are gathered the souls of those who have commenced on the upward track or path to the Higher Life, for when they quit and go out of earth life, they rest and abide in it for a period more or lese prolonged, and necessary to prepare them for ascension into the higher or celestial Eden.
In each of the lower spheres are found souls in various and different states of progression each arrayed in garments and vestments corresponding thereto in brightness and color which they continue to wear until they attain unto the angelic state of existence, when they are discarded and thrown away. Ere this however takes place they enjoy the privilege of beholding the denizens of the higher celestial spheres and contemplating the glory of their Lord. Here are found those who, though heathen by birth, embraced and conformed their lives to the good law and from them emanates an aura, so bright that when they ascend, they become invisible to beholders. This sphere is more splendid and glittering than gold or precious stones. Through an opening on one side of it glimpses are obtained of the miserable state and unhappy condition of the inmates of Gehenna or Avitchi, into which they have been hurled by destroying angels, because in earth life they were rebels and disobedient to the good law. Through this same opening, a beam of celestial light penetrates into their dark abode three times daily, when for a short period they enjoy an assuagement of their misery and pain. Again, in this first sphere are upright proselytes such as Obadiah and Onkelos, who are held in honor above others. When any inmate is judged worthy to ascend into a higher sphere he retains the rank that distinguished him from his fellows.
THE SECOND SPHERE is more interior than the first and is the abode and resting place of the fathers of humanity. It is illuminated by a light of many variegated colored rays descending from on high and its effulgence is far beyond that emitted by the most glittering diamonds. In it dwell those who were tormented and afflicted in the world yet renounced they not their worship of and trust in The Divine, nor ceased in their service to humanity. There too are those who, at all times and with all their power and strength, hallowed the divine Name, their daily prayer being, "Let His great name be blessed forever and ever." These, dwelling more in the centre of his sphere, are more recipient of the light by which it is illuminated and are better able to catch glimpses of higher and more supernal rays of light which, singly or in combination, flash down from the next higher sphere where abides the Messiah, who occasionally descends in their midst in order to direct and guide them in the path of ascension.
THE THIRD SPHERE; in it are assembled those who in earth life were subjects of great suffering and grievous trials, also those who died in early childhood. Here also are those who mourned and sorrowed over the destruction of the Holy Temple and are consoled and strengthened by the Messiah, so that eventually they ascend into the glory and Light of
THE FOURTH SPHERE, which includes those who mourned over the destruction of Jerusalem and were slain by idolatrous nations. When beholding them, and thinking over the miseries they endured, the Messiah weeps sympathetic tears so that the chiefs of the house of David gather round him in order to share in and thus mitigate his sorrow. In it the Messiah abides and dwells and in the time of the new moon his cry ceases not until it is responded to by the voice divine from on high. When he descends and visits the lower spheres, he is girded with garments of dazzling light, the sheen of which radiates in all directions, imparting renewed vigor and energy to those who died and suffered grievously for his sake. Ere he ascends again he arrays himself in a purple robe into which are woven the names of those who were slaughtered by idolaters for and which, after he ascends, are transcribed and impressed on the purple robe of the great king; and there cometh a time, when the Holy One will envelop Himself with it and judge the nations as it is written: "He shall judge amongst the heathen" (Ps. ex. 6). Ere, however, this comes to pass, the Messiah with an aureole of light, and
accompanied with hosts of angels in their chariots, visits his martyrs to console and comfort there. Within this same sphere live and dwell the ten famed Rabbis of Israel, Rabbi Akiba and his associates together with others who all acquire here the faculty of beholding the reflection of that transcendently Divine light that no mortal can approach unto, of which it is written: "No eye but thine, oh God, has seen it" (Is. lxiv. 3).
THE FIFTH SPHERE includes all those souls who in earth life repented of their evil ways and attained a state of purity, and with them are those who sacrificed their lives for the glory and honor of God. At its entrance sits Manasseh. the king of Judah, whose repentance The Holy One graciously accepted and restored unto him His divine favor. Here also are they who deeply regretted their deeds of selfishness and evil ere they died, and now enjoy along with the rest, its joys and delights. There comes a time when the celestial light descends from the sphere above, filling every one with that degree of happiness of which he is receptive. It is a sphere of joy so exalted and great, that even the souls of just men made perfect are unable, through its intensity, to enter and abide therein, those servants of the Divine who had attained to the unitive stage in the Higher Life being only admitted into it and occupy the highest rank.
THE SIXTH SPHERE is the peculiar abode of these latter and of the most exalted of divine and holy men and women whose love for their Lord proved itself true and lasting. At its entrance are all those who proclaimed the word of the Lord and when the time of ascending higher comes they are the first. At another entry, Abraham, the right hand of the Holy One, is found, and there too is Isaac who was hound upon the altar as a perfect offering unto the Most High. At the third entry is Jacob, surrounded by the chiefs of the twelve tribes each with the halo of the divine Shekina encircling their heads. When the children of Israel suffer affliction, all these patriarchs are likewise afflicted and implore the Shekina to protect them, which then descends and places a crown over Israel that defends them from all trials and troubles. All these six spheres are variously connected with each other.
THE SEVENTH SPHERE is the complement of all the others and, being the most central, its existence is a subject of faith and not of knowledge to human beings. In this most secret and most interior of the spheres is a most magnificent column of light of many colors, green, white, red and black predominating. Each
soul, at the end of each incarnation on earth ascends for a moment into this sphere, and, according to the color that he first beholds, so is he located in the sphere corresponding to it. The mystery of these six spheres is expressed in the word Sheth (six) and occultly alluded to in the first word of holy scripture, Brashith, bra, shith, He created six lower spheres and their corresponding higher antetypes, both being included in this word Brashith.
Said Rabbi Jehuda: There were two temples, the first and the second; one above and one below and one the type of the other, so in the Divine name I H V H there are two H's. The letter Beth (B) hath this peculiarity. It represents a house, which is its meaning, with a door or way of entrance that in whatever way it is turned, remains open, therefore, is this letter the gate to the scriptures and in a mystical sense symbolizes Him who is janua vitae, the gate of life.
Said Rabbi Isaac: It has been said by Rabbi Eliezar that Brashith synthesises the universe and everything contained in it, and as such is referred to in scripture. "This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord" (Ez. I. 28). It was the likeness in which was contained that of six others. The word Brashith may thus be interpreted and rendered, bra, shith, that is to say, after the form of brashith, God created six other worlds or spheres of existence.
Rabbi Jose spake and said: It is written: "The flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the turtle dove is heard in our land" (Cant. ii. 12). The occult meaning of the word flowers, refers to the six higher and lower spheres; "appear on the earth," refer to their representatives, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jachin, Boaz, and Joseph; "the time of the singing of birds," denotes the worship and glory rendered by man to the Divine Being after attaining to a knowledge of these spheres, as scripture saith, "that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent" (Ps. xxx. 12); therefore is it that the Psalm containing these words, is termed mizmor (a song), which term is applied only to those psalms that David composed under the direct inspiration of the Divine Shekina.