Last update: July 21, 2004
In this section, we continue our analysis of verse 14:1, primarily focusing on the
deeper aspects of "Mount Zion" and its association with the Sefirah of Yesod.
1b ... standing on Mount Zion ...
MOUNT ZION, REDEMPTION AND SHALOM
As mentioned earlier in this study, the three sets of (seven) judgments reflect a
rectification of the three worlds of;
- Beriah ("Creation," the world of the "Throne" of God)
- Yetzirah ("Formation," the world of angels and souls)
- Asiyyah ("Making," the physical world - which also includes a spiritual
At this point in John's vision we are concluding the second set of judgments, placing
us at the "end" of Yetzirah. This can also be viewed as Yesod (Foundation) the
"lowest" of the six Sefirot usually associated with the realm of Yetzirah (also
called Zer Anpin - see
previous study). Yesod may be considered "at the end" of Yetzirah as it is
the ninth Sefirah that "connects" the Sefirot of the upper worlds with the
Sefirah of Malkut, which is closely linked to the physical realm.
What "remains" in the grand scheme of Israel's redemption (the
"unification of the Name of God" - i.e., Zechariah 14:9) is the coming together
of the bride with the groom (or daughter with the son, as seen in the book of Songs of
Songs [Song of Solomon] in the Tenakh). This coupling is seen as occurring when Jerusalem
below (Malkut) is permanently united with Mount Zion above (Yesod).
The "location" of this part of John's vision is "on Mount Zion"
which of course is not in the physical world (of Asiyyah). In Kabbalah, "Mount
Zion" (Tziyon) is associated with Yetzirah, specifically the Sefirah of Yesod.
As stated in the classic work, Sha'are Oreh ("Gates of Light"):
Know that the word HaR (mountain) means many things in the Torah, and you
must know which is the proper nuance when you come across the words HaR or HaRim (mountains)
in the Torah. ... Know that HaR TZiYoN (Mount Zion) is always the attribute
YeSOD, which is the essence of El Chay (Living God), because HaR TZiYoN is the
place from where the first attribute for the world's creation came, as it was said:
"From TZiYoN, perfect in beauty, ELoHIM appeared." (Psalm 50:2) 1
In the same text we also find Mount Zion closely associated with the concept of
Know that at times this attribute (Yesod) is known as GoAL (redeemer). The
essence is to know that when EL CHaY (Living God/Yesod) connects with ADoNaY
(Shekinah/Malkut) which is the essence of redemption and the eighteen benedictions,
then ADoNaY is filled with the everflow of redemption, for then also the
attribute ADoNaY is activated as an emissary of EL CHaY and saves the righteous and
redeems them from all harm and sickness and from all kinds of destruction and punishment. 2
There are (what we perceive to be) "negative" and "positive"
aspects to this time of redemption. (Perhaps a hidden meaning to Song of Songs 2:7, 3:5
and 8:4, which repeats the peculiar warning, "Do not stir up nor awaken love until it
Before the coming of Messiah, the nations of the world who have rejected God's Torah
and who have persecuted physical Israel, face harsh judgment. The first stages of all such
judgments are against the "principalities and powers" of these kingdoms, and
this is accomplished in the first two sets of judgments (in Beriah and Yetzirah). The
final set of judgments, seen in the chapters ahead, will be directly against mankind in
the physical realm - similar to what fell upn Egypt in the book of Exodus.
As shown in Sha'are Oreh:
Know and understand that the nations and the ministers who are called ELoHIM come
before YHVH, may He be Blessed, on Rosh Hashana to be judged. If the nations have not
behaved appropriately, then their ministers punish them, and the bounty that YHVH has
given them will be diminished. When the minister of the nation is smitten, then the nation
falls. Thus the Prophet warned: YHVH will visit the heavenly hosts in have and the kings
of the earth on earth. (Isaiah 24:21) 3
When studying a time of God's "judgment," as we have in the book of
Revelation, we must always keep in mind that what we see as God showing anger is actually
an act of mercy. A withholding of His anger will lead to complete destruction. Every event
that transpires in the world, including the harsh judgments of Revelation, are bringing us
closer to a "positive event" - the completion of His plan - "the
unification of His Name."
The completing of God's plan is expressed in the Hebrew word for peace - shalom -
which is derived from the root shalem, meaning "whole" or
"complete." True shalom is an active force rather than a
passive absence of war. Anything that disturbs and destroys the state of true shalom must
be removed in order for true shalom to exist.
For example, looking in the Torah, we see how Pinchas, through
his zealous act (killing two people who were publicly violating Torah), created peace.
Deuteronomy 25:11-12 - Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son
of Aharon the Priest, has turned away My anger from the children of Israel, by being
zealous for My vengeance amongst them; and [thus] I did not destroy the children of Israel
in My vengeance. Therefore, I say, behold I give to him My Covenant of Peace.
In the same way Pinchas stopped the plague against the Jewish
people and through a violent act brought peace, so do the terrible events of the last days
bring true peace.
Shalom is directly associated with the Tzaddik (righteous person)
and the Sefirah of Yesod. When the tzaddik brings shalom, he unifies the Name of God above
(i.e., YHVH-Tiferet-Groom) and below (i.e., Adonay-Malkut-Bride). Thus, he brings
"completeness" ( "Shalom" is another partzufim
("expression") of the Sefirah of Yesod.
As explained in Sha'are Oreh:
When the TZaDIK awakens penance in the world or he repairs that which is ruined,
then this attribute called SHaLoM mediates effectively between YHVH (Tiferet, the
groom) and ADoNaY (Malkut, the bride) and it is the one which makes peace
between them and brings them to dwell together without separation and mutilation in the
world and when this happens YHVH will be one. You should know and believe that it is
impossible to bring blessing to the world except through this attribute called SHaLoM. ...
The attribute SHaLoM empties life into the attribute ADoNay when they are infused as one.
For great is the power of peace, since even the upper worlds need it, as it is written:
"He who makes SHaLoM in the heavens ..." (Job 25:2). When one latches on to
Torah and other commandments, it is as if he brings SHaLoM to the heavenly household which
is the essential meaning of the verse; "When he holds fast to my refuge, He makes
SHaLoM for me, SHaLoM he makes for me." (Isaiah 27:5). 4
MOUNT ZION, MOUNT MORIAH AND THE MOUNTAIN OF ESAU
Perhaps the most dynamic relationship between any two of the Sefirot is that found
between Malkut and Yesod. The reason is that this is the "connecting point"
between the physical world of man and "all" the spiritual realm above.
Everything in the spiritual realm must "filter through" Yesod to get to Malkut.
This is seen in the diagram of the single Tree of Life (with 10 Sefirot) where Yesod is
the only Sefirah directly connected to Malkut.
The term "all" (Hebrew: "kol") is a common designation for the
Sefirah of Yesod. (As spoken by Yeshua, "Seek first the Kingdom (Malkut) and
'all' (i.e., Yesod, etc.) else will be added ...") As such, the "Lamb"
is associated with one who unites the physical and spiritual worlds. This is the great
Tzaddik (mentioned in the citation from Derech Hashem in the previous study) and
also spoken of in Sha'are Oreh:
Now come and see what the power is of the TZaDIKim who hold fast to the Torah and
its commandments. They have the power to connect all the emanations making peace between
and within the upper and lower worlds. When the true pure man joins the attributes TZeDeK
(i.e., Malkut) with TZaDIK (i.e., Yesod) it is then know as YHWH is One (i.e.,
Zechariah 14:9), thus creating peace between the upper heavenly court and the lower
one. The heavens and the earth are united by this person. "How fortunate his portion,
how fortunate is she who bore you," and about him it is written:
Your father and mother will rejoice, She who bore you will exult." (Proverbs 23:25)
And it is written: YHVH will be pleased with his doing (Psalm 104:31) 5
Two bold text phrases above, describing the tzaddik, sound similar to verses New
Testament describing Yeshua:
Luke 11:27 - And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a
certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb
that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!"
Luke 3:22 - And the Ruach haKodesh descended in bodily form like a
dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in
You I am well pleased."
Traditionally, "one who unites above and below" is also the definition of a
"prophet" and thus the idea of "prophecy" underlies what is going on
regarding both the "Lamb" and "the righteous" in Revelation (i.e.,
Rev. 19:10 - "For the testimony of Yeshua is the spirit of prophecy.") As
mentioned before, the story of Revelation is all about "unifying the Name of
God" in fulfillment of Zechariah 14:9.
(See our notes for parsha Lech Lecha at http://www.yashanet.com/shabbat/parsha/lech_lechah.htm
regarding Abraham and Sarah as prophets.)
The following text from the Zohar speaks of the Tzaddik through whom God's blessings
flow except in times of darkness. At that point, divine blessing is restricted and evil
befalls the earth's inhabitants save those who remain mindful of God's Torah. What is
especially interesting is the statement that God will not enter heavenly Jerusalem until
Israel enters the earthly one:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 231a - I have made
a covenant with my chosen., This covenant is the secret of faith. Or we may
interpret the chosen one of the Zaddik from whom issue blessings to all the
lower creation, all the holy Hayyoth being blessed from the stream which flows forth to
the lower world. I have sworn unto David my servant, to wit, that he will
always be established in this Zaddik, the foundation of the world, save in the time of
galuth, when the flow of blessing is cut off, and faith is defective, and all joy is
banished. During this period, at nightfall, joy no longer enters before the King. Yet,
though rejoicings do not enter, angels stand outside and chant hymns, and at midnight when
the impulse from below arrives on high, God arouses all the hosts of the heaven for
lamentation and strikes the firmament, causing upper and lower worlds to quake; nor is
there any respite save when those below commence to study the Torah. Then God and all
those with Him listen with joy to that voice, and relief is felt. For on the day on which
the Sanctuary below was destroyed, God swore that He would not enter the celestial
Jerusalem until Israel should enter the earthly Jerusalem. Now all those singers stand
outside and chant hymns in the three watches of the night and intone praises, and all the
hosts of the heavens sing at night and Israel by day, nor is the sanctification recited
above until it is recited by Israel below, and only then do all the hosts of heaven
sanctify the holy name together. Hence, Israel are holy and are sanctified by upper and
lower angels, since the sanctification of the holy name is complete only when uttered
above and below together.
The Talmud goes further than the Zohar stating that God will not enter Jerusalem above
until He Himself enters Jerusalem below:
Talmud, Ta'anith 5a - The Holy One, blessed be He, said, I
will not enter the heavenly Jerusalem until I can enter the earthly Jerusalem
In the following excerpt from Sha'are Oreh, we find the Sefirah of Yesod
associated with El Chay (Living God) and Mount Zion, as well as the Sefirah of Malkut
linked to Adonay, Mount Moriah and Jerusalem. Note the critical role played by Yesod in
the grand scheme of things:
All of ADoNaY's actions are drawn from the attribute EL CHaY; so it is with HaR
TZiYon which is the essence of EL CHaI and HaR MoRiYaH which is the essence of ADoNaY and
the essence of Jerusalem. The Holy One Blessed be He (i.e., Tiferet) does not radiate the
everflow and dwell in Jerusalem except by the virtue of TZiYon, as it is written:
"Blessed is God from TZiYoN who dwells in Jerusalem" (Psalm 135:21). The
interpretation of this verse is that from TZiYoN and by virtue of TZiYon He dwells in
Jerusalem. For no blessing comes to the world save by virtue of TZiYoN when it empties its
blessings on Jerusalem. As it is written; "Like the due of Hermon that falls on
HaRReI TZiYoN. There the Lord ordained blessing and everlasting life" Psalm 133:3 ...
HaR ESaV is the accuser from the outside (of the spheres - i.e., Sefirot) who resides on
the left This is the essence of the verse; "The war of God against AMaLeK every
generation" (Exodus 17:16). This is what will continue to hold back the building of
HaR TZiYoN, and the building of the altar on HaR MoRiYaH until the time has come for EDoM
to be punished and receive its revenge. When will this be? When the HaRReI TZiYon will
wear the garments of vengeance which are the names YHVH TZVAOT and ELoHIM TZVAOT, and then
dwell on HaR TZiYoN. Those are the names which are known as liberators, YHVH, ELoHIM and
TZVAOT, the essence of which is proved in the verse: "And the liberators went up from
HaR TZiYoN to judge HaR ESaV" (Obadiah 1:21). 6
Combining the lessons of the Zohar and Sha'are Oreh above, we see that
although God does not enter the heavenly (Jerusalem) until He enters the earthly
(Jerusalem), none of this occurs if the heavenly (Yesod/Tziyon) is detached from the
earthly (Malkut/Moriah). Thus, the time of the redemption is affected by people either
following or not following His Torah. (i.e., the timing of the redemption in not
"set," as Yeshua taught in Matthew 24:36.)
An interesting point in the above text has to do with the Sefirot of Netzah and Hod,
which Rabbi Gikatilla (author of Sha'are Orah) calls the "garments of
vengeance" (YHVH TZVAOT and ELoHIM TZVAOT). These two Sefirot are called
"the liberators" based on the text from Obadiah. As discussed in our
chapter 11 notes the "two witnesses" are directly associated with the Netzah
and Hod regarding prophecy and judgment.
Another critical detail in the above text may be found in the phrase: "The
Holy One Blessed be He (i.e., Tiferet) does not radiate the everflow and dwell in
Jerusalem except by the virtue of TZiYon (i.e., Yesod) ..."
Here we have the positive result going hand in hand with the judgment and victory over
Esau as seen in the quote from Obadiah; "And the liberators went up from HaR
TZiYoN to judge HaR ESaV." Further, we see that Tiferet needs Yesod to
accomplish this victory. Recall in our previous studies that the Sefirah of Tiferet
("the Holy One Blessed be He") is associated with Jacob, the brother of Esau,
and the Sefirah of Yesod ("Tziyon") is associated with Joseph.
Thus, we see Jacob and Joseph together with regard to the defeat of Esau:
Obadiah 1:18 - And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the
house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them.
(READ ENTIRE TEXT
OF OVADIAH 1)
A highly insightful teaching regarding this important relationship between Jacob,
Joseph and Esau, may be found at: www.aish.com/torahportion/mayanot/Whats_In_A_Name.asp
This defeat of Esau, at the hands of Jacob and Joseph is linked to the coming of
Midrash Rabbah - Deuteronomy I:20 - R. Samuel b. Nahman said: When
Esau and Jacob met, the former said, Jacob, my brother, let us two walk together in
this world as one. Jacob replied: Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before
his servant (Gen. XXXIII, 14). What is the meaning of ' Let... pass over ? Do
you enjoy your world first. What is the meaning of, And I will journey on gently,
according to the pace of the cattle that are before me... and according to the pace of the
children (ib.). Jacob said to Esau: ' I have yet to raise up Hananiah, Mishael, and
Azariah, of whom Scripture says, Children in whom was no blemish (Dan.I, 4). Another
explanation: He said to him: I have yet to raise up the Messiah, of whom it is
written, For a child is born to us (Isa. IX, 5). Until I come unto my Lord unto Seir (Gen.
XXXIII, I4). R. Samuel b. Nahman said: We have searched all the Scriptures and we have
nowhere found [it stated] that Jacob ever came together with Esau at Seir. What then is
the meaning of, ' Unto Seir ? Jacob [meant] to say to him: ' I have yet to raise up
judges and saviours to exact punishment from you. Whence this? For it is said, And
saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau (Obad. I, 21). Israel
asked God: Master of the Universe, how long shall we remain subjected to him? ' He
replied: ' Until the day comes of which it is written, There shall step forth a star out
of Jacob and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel (Num. XXIV, 17); when a star shall step
forth from Jacob and devour the stubble of Esau. (Whence this? For it is said, And
the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau
for stubble, and they shall kindle in them and devour them; and there shall not be any
remaining of the house of Esau (Obad. I, 18).) God said: At that time I will cause
my kingdom to shine forth and I will reign over them, as it is said, And saviours
shall come up on Mount Zion, to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the
Lord's (ib. 21).
The following section of the Zohar sums up a number of the concepts discussed so far
quite nicely. Jacob's possession is the spiritual realm and Esau's is the physical. This
continues until the coming of Messiah, when Jacob inherits everything:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 143b - Observe that as
soon as Jacob and Esau commenced to avail themselves of their blessings, the former
possessed himself of his portion on high, and the latter of his portion here below. R.
Jose the son of R. Simeon, the son of Laqunia, once said to R. Eleazar: Have you
ever heard from your father how it comes about that the blessings given by Isaac to Jacob
have not been fulfilled, while those given to Esau have all been fulfilled in their
entirety? R. Eleazar replied: All the blessings are to be fulfilled, including
other blessings with which God blessed Jacob. For the time being, however, Jacob took his
portion above and Esau here below. But in aftertime, when the Messiah will arise, Jacob
will take both above and below and Esau will lose all, being left with no portion of
inheritance or remembrance whatever. So Scripture says: And the house of Jacob shall
be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, etc.
(Obad. I, 18), so that Esau will perish entirely, whilst Jacob will inherit both worlds,
this world and the world to come. Of that time it is further written: And saviours
shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the
Lord's (Ibid. I, 21), that is to say, the kingdom which Esau has taken in this world
shall revert to God. For although God rules both above and below, yet for the time being
He has given to all the peoples each a portion and an inheritance in this world; but at
that time He will take away dominion from all of them, so that all will be His, as it is
written, And the kingdom shall be the Lord's. It will be the Lord's alone, as
it is further written, And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day
shall the Lord be One, and his name One (Zech. XIV, 9).
Another interesting portion of Sha'are Orah is concerned with Yesod as a
"preventative measure" and how the separation of Yesod from Malkut (and ensuing
evil that befalls the world) is expressed:
This attribute (Yesod) is responsible for the prevention of tribulation in
the world ... It is known that at the moment TZaDIK (Yesod) separates from TZeDeK
("righteousness," another term for the Sefirah of Malkut), the
attribute of TZeDeK remains empty; then it rises to plunder and kill, to uproot and
annihilate, bringing to the world several kinds of death: natural death, death from
epidemic plagues, death from bizarre circumstances and other forms of death ... If heaven
forbid, humanity defiles itself, distancing itself from the Torah and the commandments
(i.e., Revelation 14:12) choosing instead iniquity, wickedness and deceit, the
attribute TZaDIK (Yesod) stands, observing their deeds. When it sees humanity
defiling itself, disdaining the Torah and its commandments while performing iniquities and
deceits, the attribute TZaDIK collects itself and soars far above, thereby ceasing the ebb
and flow of the channels. Then the attribute Adonay (Malkut) is left like a
barren land, desolate and empty of all that is good. 7
The above depiction is reminiscent of a couple of sections from the Bible. First, in
the New Testament, there is a mysterious allusion to something that will be"taken
away" (i.e, Yesod) in order for the final great evil to descend upon the earth:
2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 - And now you know what is restraining, that
he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already
at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And
then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His
mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
Secondly, the above text from Sha'are Orah speaks of the final Sefirah of
Malkut (i.e., the Shekinah) bringing all kinds of death upon the earth. As we will see, a
direct comparison with the plagues of Egypt may be made regarding this.
Looking at another Kabbalistic text, the Bahir describes the separation of
Malkut from Zer Anpin (i.e., Yesod) in terms of strict judgment -- versus the
"mitigated" judgment found when they are in union. The dimensional (spatial)
aspect of Zer Anpin (made up of six Sefirot) plays a key role.8
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan offers the following interesting comments on the Bahir's viewpoint:
There are two modes through which God judges the world, the Attribute of Judgment
(Midat HaDin) and the Attribute of Mercy (Midat haRachamim). The Attribute of Judgment
demands a single, fixed, unmitigated response for any wrong, while the Attribute of Mercy
admits a number of mitigated responses. Therefore, Judgment comes from the Female, which
is derived from a single Sefirah, Malkhut-Kingship, and therefore has just one single
response. Zer Anpin, on the other hand, is constructed from six Sefirot, and therefore
allows an infinite blend of responses. It is therefore the source of the Attribute of
Mercy. Actually, however, all providence ultimately comes from the Sefirah of
Malkhut-Kingship, this being the definition of the word. But in order for Malkhut-Kingship
to act in a mode Mercy, it must be bound to Zer Anpin, this being the concept of the
Supernal Union. This Union, however, takes place through Yesod-Foundation ... 9
In the Bahir as well, judgment is directly associated with man's behavior:
Another important teaching of the Kabbalistic philosophers is that all of man's
reward and punishment is the result of his deeds. Therefore, since man is the
counterpart of Zer Anpin, each individual has a portion there, and each individual's deeds
have an effect on the "body" of Zer Anpin. Conversely, Zer Anpin is directly
linked to man, overseeing and guiding the providence that effects him. Through Zer Anpin,
man's deeds have an important bearing on providence. It is for this reason that Zer
Anpin is called "judgment." The author therefore concludes by stating that when
a person repents, he also elevates the seven. Everything that takes place in Zer Anpin is
a result of man's activities. 10
1. Sha'are Orah ("Gates of Light"),
Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, translated by Avi Weinstein, Altamira Press, 1994, p. 95. Sha'are Orah (written in the 13th century) is most notable for
associating various terms found throughout the Tenakh with the ten Sefirot and their
associated Names of God, thus "linking" many portions of the Tenakh at the Sod
2. ibid, p. 74.
3. ibid, pp. 96-97.
4. ibid, p. 67.
5. ibid, p. 63.
6. ibid. p. 96.
7. ibid. pp. 58-62.
8. The six Sefirot of Zer Anpin are associated with the spatial
dimensions of up-down (Netzah-Hod), east-west (Tiferet-Yesod) and north-south
(Gevurah-Hesed). Time is associated with past-future (Chokhmah-Binah) and the moral
dimension (good-evil) with Keter-Malkut. With the addition of the 11th
"quasi-Sefirah" of Da'at it may be possible to draw a parallel to the theory of
"eleven dimensions" held by modern physicists.
9. The Bahir, translation by Aryeh Kaplan, Samuel Weiser Inc., York
Beach Maine, 1979, p. 137.
10. ibid, p. 132.