SAID Rabbi Abbi: "The higher or celestial world with its accompanying spheres, though invisible to mortal sight, has its reflection and analogue, namely, the lower world with its circumambient spheres, according to the saying, 'As above, so below.' The works of the Holy One in the celestial world are the type of those in the terrestrial world. The meaning of the words,45a Brashith, bara Alhim is this: brasahith, i.e., the celestial world, gave rise or origin to Alhim, the visible divine name that then first became known. Thus Alhim was associated with the creation of the world, as Brashith was connected with the creation of the celestial or invisible world, that being the type, thus the antetype, or in other words, one was the reflection and analogue of the other, and therefore it is written, 'Ath hashamayim, veath ha-aretzs' (the heavens and the earth). The heaven on high produced and gave rise to the earth below."
It is written, "And the earth was without form and void" (Tohu va Bohu). The signification of these words has already been given. The word aretzs here refers to the earth in its primal state when void of light. By the word "was," scripture teaches that it existed at its creation in a state of chaos and confusion. It is also said "and darkness," which was the deprivation of the light emanating from the antetypal world, owing to the matter of the earth becoming condensed and thus less receptive
of its reflection. NdM p. 181-197 omitted from Soncino These words, Tohu, Bohu and darkness, together with a fourth, "wind," represent the four elements composing the substance of the earth. Another version gives "ve-ath ha-aretzs," referring to this world and its several divisions that are altogether different from those of the celestial world and which are as follows: Aretzs, Gia, Nesia, Zia, Arga and Thebel, which latter is greater than all the others as it is written: "And He shall judge the world (Thebel) in righteousness" (Ps. x. 9).
Rabbi Jose having asked the question: "What kind of world is that which is called Zia?" Rabbi Simeon replied:
"It is the place of Gehenna or Hell, 'a land of draught and of the shadow of death' (Jer. ii, 1). It is mystically referred to in the words, 'and darkness was upon the face of the deep' (Gen. i, 2), alluding to Zia, the abode of Hell and of the Angel of death, and is so called because the faces of those who are banished there become blackened on account of their wicked lives when on earth. The earth of Nesia is that the inhabitants of which become oblivious of the past; whereas, in that of Bohu, the faculty of memory is vivid and active."
Said Rabbi Hiya: "The word Bohu denotes the earth, Gia, whilst the words, 'and the spirit of Alhim moved upon the face of the waters,' designate that of Thebel, which is nourished and sustained by the spirit of Alhim, as is also Aretzs, our own abode of earthly existence, which is circumscribed and surrounded by seven spheres analogous to those of the celestial world, all of them being under the domination and control of their particular lords and guardians. The seven spheres of the celestial world are prototypes of those that surround our world and are inhabited by angelic beings who sing the praises of the Holy One, and use their own individual forms of worship. Their rank and order are indicated by the sphere they occupy.
"The first of these higher or celestial spheres and nearest to the earth, is altogether void of light and is the abode of angels who are like tempestuous winds, never seen, but felt, and are always invisible as they are void of light and darkness and undistinguished by any color. They are wholly without self-consciousness and without form or shape. Its chief and ruler is an angel named Tahariel, who has under him seventy subordinates. Their motion is manifested by the glittering of fiery sparks, the appearance and disappearance of which constitute day and night.
"The second celestial sphere is distinguished from the first by the possession of a modicum of light, and is inhabited by angels appointed to watch over humanity and guide it into the path of uprightness whenever there is danger of its falling into error and wrong doing. When righteousness prevails in the world, they are filled with joy and delight. Their chief and ruler is called Qadmiel. When Israel commences its worship of the Holy One, they then manifest and make themselves visible in forms of intense brightness, and three times daily they bless and hallow the divine name. When they observe Israel studying and meditating on the law or secret doctrine, they ascend on high before the Holy One, who takes account of what they have seen and heard.
"The third celestial sphere is pervaded and filled with fire and flames. In it the fiery river Nahar dinur takes its rise and flows into Gehenna, overwhelming and engulphing in its course those mortals whose lives on earth were given up and addicted to evil and wrongdoing. Over these are placed destroying and tormenting angels, also accusing angels who, however, have no power or influence over Israel when it repents and does what is just and right. The abode of their chief is on the left side of this sphere in which darkness prevails, as it is written, 'and darkness was upon the face of the waters.' It is also the abode of Samael, the angel of darkness, the great transgressor.
"The Fourth celestial region is splendidly luminous, being the abode of angelic beings of great honor and dignity who, unlike those of the first sphere, begin and finish their worship of the Holy One without interruption. They are not subject to any change or declension, being angels of mercy and compassion of whom scripture speaks 'Who maketh his angels as the wind, and his messengers as flames of fire' (Ps. civ. 4). Their great mission work is on the plane of human existence and are invisible save in visions of the night, or on extraordinary occasions according to the degree of intelligence of those to whom they manifest themselves. Their great chief is named Padiel by whose orders they hold the key and open the gates of mercy through which pass the prayers and supplications of those who sincerely repent and live the Higher and Diviner life.
"The Fifth celestial sphere is one of still greater and more intense light. Therein are angels, some of them ruling over fire, others over water, and are messengers either of mercy or judgment, and as such become manifested as heralds of light or
darkness. Their worship of the Holy One takes place at midnight. They are under the control of a chief named Qadashiel. When at midnight the north wind begins to blow, the Holy One, blessed be He! enters the garden of Eden and holds converse with the righteous. Then begin they their service of praise which resounds throughout the whole of this sphere and lasts during the night until daybreak and the sun appears. At that moment these angels join in a grand and glorious song of thanksgiving that peals also from all the hosts of heaven, from angels and archangels, seraphim, cherubim, above and below all uniting in the ascription of blessing and honor, glory and power to Jehovah, the Lord of Hosts that liveth forever and ever; as it is written, 'When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy' (Job. xxxviii. 7). This their great anthem ceases not until Israel begins its song of praise.
"The Sixth celestial Sphere is nearer to the Kingdom of heaven. In it are seas covered with ships, also rivers and lakes abounding in fish. Its denizens are under the rule of presidents, the chief of whom is named Uriel, who enter on their official duties at certain fixed times. When the time arrives for the ships to go south, Michael is their ruler; and when they go north, Gabriel assumes authority and direction; as these two archangels occupy the right and left sides of the Mercaba, or celestial chariot. When, however, the ships go eastward, Raphael rules, and Uriel when they sail westward.
"The Seventh Celestial Sphere is the highest and accessible only to souls of the greatest purity and thus qualified to enter into its joys and delights. None other are found there. In it are laid up treasures of peace, blessings and benefits.
"All these seven spheres are inhabited and filled with beings like in their form to man, who cease not to worship and give thanks to the holy One. None of them, however, are so conversant with the glory of the Holy One as the inhabitants of the sphere of Thebel, who are perfectly pure in body, mind and soul. In the seventh celestial sphere there are those who have attained to the highest degree of holiness as in the seventh sphere belonging to earth below, are found the just with purified bodies. Moreover, above and beyond all these spheres there are seven others the existence of which is a subject of faith and not of experience, and in each of them are spiritual beings of the highest order.
"The first of these mysterious spheres is inhabited by a
lofty angel named Rachmiel, who has the charge over those who have forsaken idolatry to become worshippers of the Holy One. By him they are prepared to look in the Luminous Mirror, or Beatific Vision.
"In the second higher sphere dwells Ahinael, who receives under his care all who died ere being initiated in the secret doctrine, and instructs them in its teachings.
"The third is that where abides Adrahinael, a spirit under whose care and guardianship are those who in earth life had resolved to change their evil habits, but being suddenly overtaken by death, were unable to do as they had willed. Such souls find themselves cast first into Gehenna, out of which, however, they are taken by this spirit and prepared for the enjoyment of the divine light emanating from their Lord and Creator, the Holy One. The joys of such souls are inferior to those of others. They are known as 'children of the flesh,' and of them it is written, 'From one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord' (Is. lxvi. 23).
"The fourth of the spheres is inhabited by a spirit named Gadrihael, presiding over all those who were slain by idolaters. His office is to guide them unto the palace of the king clothed in robes of purple, in which their names are inwoven and where they abide until the day when the Holy One shall avenge their sufferings, as it is written: 'Hs shall judge amongst the heathen. He shall fill the places with dead bodies and shall wound the heads of many' (Ps. cx. G.).
"Adiriel is the presiding spirit in the fifth higher sphere and is in charge of those souls who through their lifelong penitence, attained to a high degree of holiness and purity in which they surpass all others, even as their abode excels all others in grandeur and glory.
"All the aforenamed presidents are under the rule and authority of the archangel Michael, captain of the myriad hosts of heaven, whose office it, is to fill with joy and delight the souls of the faithful and true servants of the Lord, by causing them to view and behold the light, clear as crystal, that marks the course of the river of the water of life flowing into the world to come." 1
184:1 The conclusion of this discourse is wanting."