APPENDIX I Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 133b-136a:
At the time when Israel is proclaiming the unity-the mystery contained in the Shema-with a perfect intention, a light comes forth from the hidden supernal world, which divides into seventy lights, and those seventy lights into the seventy luminous branches of the Tree of Life. Then the Tree and all the other trees of the Garden of Eden emit sweet odours and praise their Lord, for at that time the Matrona prepares Herself to enter under the shade of the canopy, there to unite herself with her Spouse; and all the supernal potencies unite in one longing and one will to be united in perfect union, without any separation soever. Then the Spouse makes ready likewise to enter the Canopy in order to unite Himself with the Matrona. Therefore we proclaim loudly: "Hear, O Israel; prepare thyself, for thy Husband has come to receive thee." And also we say: "The Lord our God, the Lord is one", which signifies that the two are united as one, in a perfect and glorious union, without any flaw of separation to mar it.
As soon as the Israelites say, "The Lord is One", to arouse the six aspects, these six unite each with each and ascend in one ardour of love and desire. The symbol of this is the letter Vau (because its numerical value is six) when it stands alone without being joined to any other letter. Then the Matrona makes herself ready with joy, and adorns herself with delight, and Her attendants accompany Her, and in hushed silence She encounters her Spouse; and Her handmaids proclaim, "Blessed be the Name of the Glory of His Kingdom for ever and ever." These words are said in a whisper, for so she must be introduced to her Spouse. Blessed is the people which perceives these things, ordering its prayers in accordance with this mystery of the Faith! At the time when the Spouse is united with the Matrona a herald comes forth from the south, crying: "Awaken, O ye supernal hosts, and unfurl the banners of love in honour of your Lord!"
Then one of the leaders of the celestial array-he whose name is Boel (God is in him)- stands forth, and in his hands are four keys which he obtained one from each of the four corners of the earth. One key has upon it the sign of the letter Yod engraved; the second the letter He; and the third the letter Vau; and these three keys he lays beneath the boughs of the Tree of Life. Then these three become one. Then the fourth and last key, which bears upon it the second letter He, joins the three which have become one. And all the angelic hosts enter by means of those keys into the Garden of Eden, where with one voice they proclaim the Divine unity at the selfsame moment as it is proclaimed here below. Then the Shekinah, the Bride, is conducted to the Palace of the King, Her Bridegroom, for now He stands complete in all His supernal goodness and can supply Her with all that She needs. Thus her attendants bring Her in unto Him in silence. Why in silence? In order that no "stranger" (evil potencies) should participate in her joy. As He united Himself above according to six aspects, so also She unites Herself below according to six other aspects, so that the oneness may be completed, both above and below, as it is written: "The Lord will be One, and his Name One" (Zech. XIV, 9): Six words above-Shema Israel TETRAGRAMMATON Elohenu TETRAGRAMMATON ehad, corresponding to the six aspects, and six words below-baruk shem kebod malkuto le'olam waed (Blessed be the Name, etc.)-corresponding to the six other aspects. The Lord is one above; and His Name is One below.
We say this reponse silently, although it is a triumphant expression of the Oneness, because of the "evil eye", which still has power under the present dispensation; but in the future (Messianic Age) when the "evil eye" will have ceased to exist and will have no dominion whatsoever over this world, then we shall proclaim the Divine Unity and its full accomplishment openly and in a loud voice. At present, as the "other side" still cleaves to the Shekinah, She is not entirely One, and therefore, although even in this present time we proclaim the unity, we do so silently, symbolizing it by the letters of the word wa'ed (ever), which are equivalent by certain permutations to those of the word ehad (one). But in the time that is to be, when that other side shall be removed from the Shekinah and pass away from the world, then shall that unity be proclaimed openly. When She enters the canopy and is united with the Supernal King, then we awaken the joy of the Right and of the Left, as it is written: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart", etc. -that is, without any fear or foreboding, because the "other side" comes not near and has no power here. But whilst Her servants are bringing Her to the King they must keep a great and solemn silence.
Of this Jacob is symbolic. Before his death, when he was about to speak of the "end of days" (and the Shekinah left him) he said to his sons: "Perchance some stain is attached to me or to my seed?" But they replied: "Nay, there is no such stain, nor is any fault found. Thine own heart is possessed only by the One, and as for us-we have no contact with the other side or any of its evil minions; on the contrary we, like thyself, are united with the King alone, since all our will and intent has been to separate from the other side." Then Jacob said: "Blessed be the Name of the glory of His Kingdom for ever and ever." In that hour Jacob and his sons became for a space, as it were, living portraits here on earth of the Shekinah Herself. Jacob symbolized the six sides of the supernal world as a single whole, and his sons were shaped to the likeness of the six aspects as manifested in the lower world. Now he desired to reveal to them a certain "end", for, as we have pointed out elsewhere, [Tr. note: Zohar, Genesis, 62b] there is one "end of days" (kez ha-yamin), which refers to the Holy Kingdom, the mystery of Faith, the mystery of the King of Heaven; and another "end of days" (kez ha- yamim), which is the mystery of the Guilty King, the "other King", ruler of the powers of darkness, and that end is called "the end of all flesh". Now when Jacob perceived that the Shekinah was withdrawing from him, he questioned his sons, as we have pointed out. And as Jacob and his sons proclaimed the union of the world above and the world below, so also must we.
Blessed is he who concentrates his mind and will, with true humility and longing, upon this mystery. Blessed is he in this world and blessed shall he be in the world to come! Said R. Hamnuna the Ancient: This stirring up of the unity has indeed been rightly and justly expounded, and that which we have just now heard is indeed very true; and in the future time these word's which we have now uttered will He then began to expound this passage as follows. "They shall take Me a heave offering." Here we have displayed an inclusive union of the above with the below, for it does not say "They shall take a heave offering", but "They shall take Me a heave offering", which denotes a fusion of the upper with the lower spheres. [Tr. note: i.e. Tifereth with Malkuth.] "
On the part of everyone whose heart is willing ye should take my heave offering." The words "on the part of" seem at first sight to be superfluous, but in reality they contain a deep lesson for the masters of the esoteric lore. Blessed are the righteous who have learnt how to centre all their thoughts and desires on the Heavenly King, and whose aspirations are directed, not towards the vain and foolish toys of this world and its lusts, but to attaching themselves wholeheartedly to the world above in order to draw down the favour of the Lord Himself from heaven to earth. What is the place whence they receive this favour? It is a holy supernal region, whence emanate all holy wills and desires. This is known as "every man", who is identical with the "Righteous", the Lord of the House, whose love is always directed towards the Matrona, like a husband who loves his wife always. "Whose heart is willing": that is, His heart goes out to Her, and Her heart to Him. And although their mutual love is so great that they never separate, yet "ye shall take from Him My heave offering", meaning, "ye should take the Shekinah to dwell with you". The Holy One, blessed be He, unlike a human husband, who would protest violently should anyone take from him the wife whom he so dearly loves, is greatly pleased when the Shekinah, whom He so loves, is "taken" from the supernal sphere, the abode of Love, to dwell below in the midst of Israel. Happy is the lot of Israel and happy that of all those who are worthy of this.
In that case, it might be asked, why does it say, "which ye should take from them" instead of "from Me"? Because the "from them" refers to these two Divine names or grades. Rabbi Yeba the Ancient suggested that meitam (from them) signifies meet M, from the sphere designated by the letter M; the mysterious sphere, the abode of the Righteous One, from whence He draws life to distribute to all the worlds. It is all one mystery, which has been entrusted to the wise. Happy is their lot! However, although they "take" Her (the Shekinah), they may do so only when her Spouse specially grants permission, and only in accordance with His will, in order that He may be worshipped in love. This is realized daily in the corporate liturgical services of Israel. Or "from them", again, can refer to the six supernal grades; or to the Seasons and Sabbaths. It amounts all to the same thing.
From all of these we take "the heave offering of the Lord"[Tr. note: Malkuth.] on each of these special seasons, in order that it may rest upon us: on Passover by means of the paschal lamb, on Tabernacles by means of the tabernacle, and so forth. The six Days are but a preparation for her. As they are united above in "One", so she is unified below in the mystery of "one", to correspond to them above. The Holy One, blessed be He, who is One above, does not take His seat upon the Throne of Glory, until She has entered within the mystery of the One in accordance with His very essence of Oneness, to be the One in One. This, as we have said, is the significance of the words: "The Lord is One, and His Name is One." It is the mystery of the Sabbath, which is united with the mystery of the One so that it may be the organ of this Oneness.
In the prayer before the entrance of the Sabbath the Throne of Glory is prepared for the Holy Heavenly King. And when the Sabbath arrives the Shekinah is in perfect union with Him and is separated from the "other side", and all the potencies of severe judgement are severed from Her, She being in closest union with the Holy Light and crowned with many crowns by the Holy King, and all the principalities of severity and all the lords of judgement flee from Her, and no other domination reigns in any of the worlds, and her countenance is illumined by the supernal light, and she is crowned here below by the Holy People, all of whom are invested with new souls. Then is the time for the commencement of prayer, when the worshippers bless Her with joy and gladness, saying, "Bless ye the Lord, the Blessed One!" (the beginning proper of the Sabbath Eve prayer). For the holy people cannot be allowed at this moment to begin with a verse that suggests judgement, as on weekdays, when "Bless ye" is preceded by "And He being merciful, forgiveth iniquity and destroyeth not", because the Shekinah is then entirely severed from the mystery of the "other side" and all the lords of judgement have separated themselves and passed away from Her, and he who rouses judgement in the lower spheres causes vibrations of doom and severity also in the celestial regions, and while this disturbing element is in evidence the Holy Throne cannot crown itself with the crown of holiness.
Then the lords of judgement who have severed themselves for the time being from the rest of creation, hiding themselves away from all eyes in a deep and secret recess at the bottom of the sea, are roused to return to the celestial habitations, and they come back with violence and fury, so that the Holy Sphere, which requires above all rest and peace for the entrance of the Sabbath, is hard pressed by these potencies of judgement. So it is evident that we should not imagine that She (the Shekinah) is independent of our "rousings", for there is no vibration above of any sort but is caused by those which take place in the midst of Israel below, as we have already pointed out in connection with the expression "in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day"; it is not merely a feast day, but our feast day; that is to say, we effect a movement in the higher spheres by our prayers.
Therefore the holy people, who are crowned with holy crowns of souls in order to awaken rest and peace above, may not order judgement there, but, on the contrary, must all consciously and with exceeding great love awaken blessings both above and below. The congregation respond: "Blessed is the Lord who is blessed for ever and ever." The expression "who is blessed" indicates the streaming of blessings from the source of life to the place whence issue nourishment and bounty for all creatures. And why do we call this source "blessed"? Because it sustains and waters olam va'ed (lit. for ever and ever), which is the Sabbath eve. In this way blessings are transmitted to this olam va'ed from the highest world, so that it attains its full perfection. Thus in this benediction, "blessed" represents the ultimate source whence all blessings emanate ; [Tr. note: Hohmah.] "the Lord" is the centre[Tr. note: Tifereth.] of all the supernal sides; "who is blessed" represents the peace of the house, the fountain of the cistern, [Tr. note: Yesod]. providing completion and nourishment for all, while "for ever and ever" refers to the world below, [Tr. note: Malkuth.] which needs these blessings: the "good oil" of "blessed", "the Lord", and "the Blessed One" is all for this olam va'ed.
Therefore the whole congregation has to recite this every day; but on Sabbath eve it must be recited with special devotion and gladness, in order that the Sabbath may be fitly blessed by the holy people. When they begin to recite this benediction a voice is heard in all the heavens that are sanctified by the entrance of the Sabbath: "Blessed are ye, holy people, for that ye bless and sanctify on earth below, that thereby many supernal holy hosts may be blessed and sanctified above." Blessed are they in this world and blessed are they in the world to come. The Israelites do not recite this benediction until they are crowned with the crowns of holy souls, as we have said before. Blessed is the people who is worthy of them in this world, so that it may merit them in the world to come. This, to the pious, is the night of conjugal unions, when they are thus crowned with new souls and new additional holy spirits, for, being in a state of supernal holy tranquillity, they may then beget holy children.