Last update: August 27, 2006
YICHUD HASHEM, SHABBAT AND MASHIACH
The central message of the Bible, and specifically the book of Revelation, is the "unification of the Name of God," ("Yichud Hashem," based on Zechariah 14:9) symbolic of the tikkun (repair) of the world, arrival of the Messiah and ushering in of the Messianic Kingdom. This time of unification is known as the "Shabbat haGadol" (the Great Sabbath), the beginning of the "7th millennium which is associated with the Sefirah of Malkut as discussed in our earlier studies.
The Name of God said to be made "One" is the four letter Name of God:
The Ineffable Name of God, which at this time of history is too holy to be pronounced as it is spelled: yud-hei-vav-hei, is actually made up of two parts, yud-hei and vav-hei. The unified Name represents periods of history when God's Presence is revealed and known, and the divided Name represents periods of time when God's Presence is hidden. This is why the prophet said of the Days of Mashiach: "On that day, He will be One, and His Name will be One." (Zachariah 14:9) 1
We further discuss this unification of the "supernal" and "lower" in verses 4 and 5 below.
The following section of the Zohar discusses how the Great Shabbat (Malkut, the seventh millennium, etc.) must come before the Lord "takes His seat" on the heavenly Throne and His Name "becomes One." Each of the Lord's feast days is symbolic of this:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, 135a - 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.
Just as God's Name is "made one" the Sabbath itself becomes "unified" at this time. The following section of the Zohar describes the "female" and "male" aspects to the Sabbath in terms of the evening portion and the daylight portion:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, 138a - This psalm of praise was therefore ordered to be chanted on the Sabbath by the "one people", namely the children of Israel. (Psalm 92): "A song. A psalm for (to) the sabbath day. It is good to praise the Lord, to sing unto thy name, O most high. To proclaim thy lovingkindness in the morning and thy faithfulness in the nights." It has been established by the Companions that this hymn of praise was sung by the first man (Adam) after he had been driven out of the Garden of Eden, when the Sabbath drew nigh unto the Holy One and interceded for the created being. Then he sang this hymn in honour of the Sabbath which had delivered him. It is a hymn of praise sung by the world below to the world above, to a world which is altogether "Sabbath", the sphere of the "King whose is the peace". It is a hymn of the sabbath below unto the Sabbath above: the sabbath below, which is like night, sings to the Sabbath above, which is like day. In fact, whenever "Sabbath" is mentioned it refers to the "eve of the Sabbath" (i.e. the Shekinah), but when it says "the Sabbath day", it denotes the Supernal Sabbath (i.e. Tifereth). The former is symbolized by the Female, the latter by the Male. Thus "And the children of Israel should keep the Sabbath" (Exekiel 31:16) alludes to the Female, which is the night (layla), and "remember the Sabbath day" (Ibid. 20:8) alludes to the Male. Thus the sabbath here below sings a hymn to the Sabbath above.
The day (male) aspect of the Sabbath is referred to as the "morning star" in the New Testament. Peter reminds his brethren to rely on the Word of God to sustain them until this time:
2 Peter 1:19 - And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
Earlier in Revelation, Yeshua described the reward for those who persevere as such:
Revelation 2:26-28 - And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations. He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potters vessels as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.
In the book of Hebrews, the reward for those who persevere "to the end" is expressed in terms of the "rest" of the Sabbath:
Hebrews 3:14 - For we have become partakers of Messiah if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end ...
Hebrews 4:1-10 - Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest', although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: And God rested on the seventh day from all His works; and again in this place: They shall not enter My rest. Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, Today, after such a long time, as it has been said: Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts. For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
Yeshua describes Himself as being this "morning star," also making the connection to David, who is associated with the Sefirah of Malkut which is the Shabbat:
Revelation 22:16 - I, Yeshua, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the assemblies. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.
The liturgical service for Orthodox Shabbat (Sabbath) services contain many of the same "end time" themes as found in this chapter of Revelation.
A few of the many examles that may be found are:
... For the sovereignty is Hashem's and He rules over nations. The saviors will ascend Mount Zion to judge Esau's mountain, and the Kingdom will be Hashem's. Then Hashem will be King over all the world., on that day Hashem will be One and His Name will be One. (compare to verse 6)
... The soul of very living being shall bless Your Name, Hashem our God, the spirit of all flesh shall always glorify and exalt your remembrance, Our King. (compare to verse 5)
... God of all creatures, Master of all generations, Who is extolled through a multitude of praises ... To You alone we give thanks. (compare to verses 1 and 6)
... O God, in the omnipotence of Your strength, great in the glory of Your Name, mighty forever and awesome through Your awesome deeds. (compare to verse 1)
... O King enthroned upon a high and lofty throne. (compare to verse 4) 2
1 After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!
These attributes (salvation, glory, honor, power) said to now belong to God may be seen as representing the unification of His Name (The 4-letter Name of Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey). This unification, as spoken of in Zechariah 14:9, is the main theme of all of Scripture and specifically this chapter of Revelation. (See citation on the four letter name in the introductory comments above.)
The Zohar also speaks of this voice from heaven coming at the time of unification, assembling the saints beneath (i.e., verse 5) and beings above (i.e., verse 4):Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, 197b-198a -Observe this. When the hour arrives at which it pleases the Holy One, blessed be He, to unify the Supernal Chariot, [Tr. note: "to combine the Supernal Chariot with the Lower Chariot"] a voice issues from that divine supernal region called Heaven to assemble all the saints beneath and all the holy chiefs and supernal legions, so that they should all be in readiness together.
As seen earlier in Revelation, such accolades for God are specifically tied to His being the Creator:
Revelation 4:11 - 'Worthy art Thou, O Lord, to receive the glory, and the honour, and the power, because Thou -- Thou didst create the all things, and because of Thy will are they, and they were created.
2 For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.
God's vengence, brought on by the shed blood of His servants, is a major theme of the last days:
May He, before our eyes, exact retribution for the spilled blood of His servants. as it is written in the Torah of Moses, the man of God: "O nations, sing the praise of His people for He will avenge the blood of His servants and He will bring retribution upon His foes; and He will appease His land and His people." And by Your servants, the prophets, is written saying: "Though I cleanse (the enemy) - their bloodshed I will not cleanse when Hashem dwells in Zion." And in the Holy Writings it is said: "Why should the nations say, 'Where is their God?' Let there be known among the nations, before our eyes, revenge for Your servants' spilled blood." And it says: "For the Avenger of blood has remembered them; He has not forgotten the cry of the humble." 3
Psalm 72 speaks of the messiah in the context of the blood of his servants:
Psalm 72:14 - He will redeem their life from oppression and violence; And precious shall be their blood in His sight.
The Zohar makes the direct connection between Psalm 72 and the Messiah:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, 107b - For whilst the Holy One is taking vengeance on the idolatrous nations, He will make a man more precious than gold, to wit, the Messiah, who will be raised and glorified above all mankind, and to whom all mankind will pay homage and bow down, as it is written, Before him those that dwell in the wilderness will bow down ... the Kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall render tribute (Psalm 72:9-10).
As does Midrash on Genesis:
Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 1:4 - The name of Messiah was contemplated, for it is written, His name existeth ere the sun. (Psalm 72:17).
The Zohar describes the vengeance of God, brought through His Messiah as being in place since before the time of Creation:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, 239b,240a - He hath washed his garments in wine, even from the time of the Creation the reference being to the coming of the Messiah on earth. Wine indicates the left side, and the blood of grapes the left side below. The Messiah is destined to rule above over all the forces of the idolatrous nations and to break their power above and below. We may also explain that as wine brings joyfulness and yet typifies judgement, so the Messiah will bring gladness to Israel, but judgement to the Gentiles. The spirit of God which hovered over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2) is the spirit of the Messiah, and from the time of the Creation he washed his garments in celestial wine.
As has been previously mentioned, according to Talmud, the "name" (role/authority) of Messiah is one of seven things pre-existing the physical world:
Talmud, Pesachim 54a - Surely it was taught: Seven things were created before the world was created, and these are they: The Torah, repentance, the Garden of Eden, Gehenna, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, and the name of the Messiah. The Torah, for it is written, The Lord made me [sc. the Torah] as the beginning of his way. Repentance, for it is written, Before the mountains were brought forth, and it is written, Thou turnest man to contrition, and sayest, Repent, ye children of men. The Garden of Eden, as it is written, And the Lord planted a garden in Eden from aforetime. The Gehenna, for it is written, For Tophet [i.e., Gehenna] is ordered of old. The Throne of Glory and the Temple, for it is written, Thou throne of glory, on high from the beginning, Thou place of our sanctuary. The name of the Messiah, as it is written, His [sc. the Messiah's] name shall endure for ever, and has exited before the sun!
See previous chapter notes to verse 18:20 on the subject of God's vengeance.
3 Again they said, Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!
4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, Amen! Alleluia!
Both the heavenly and earthly Temples/Thrones have an arrangement of entities surrounding them:
Every man shall encamp by his own standard, with the sign of their fathers house. (Numbers 2:2) Each standard was to have a colored cloth hanging in it, the color of one being unlike the color of another. The color of each standard corresponded to that of the stone fixed in the breastplate [of the High Priest, on which the name of that scribe was engraved], and by this method everyone would recognize his standard. [Rashi] But Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra commented: "There were signs on each of the [four main] standards. Thus the ancients sages said that on Reuben's standard there was a figure of a man decorated with mandrakes, and on Judah's standard there was the form of a lion, to which Jacob had compared him, and on Ephraim's standard was the figure of an ox, based upon [the expression that Moses used in speaking of that tribe], "the firstborn of his ox", and on Dan's standard was the figure of an eagle. Thus [the four signs on the four main standards] were similar to the four figures that the prophet Ezekiel saw [in the Divine Charriot]." The Tent of Meeting was in the exact center, with the camps of the Levites surrounding it in the midst of the camps [of the other tribes], as is mentioned in Sefer Yetzirah: "And the Holy Temple is placed exactly in the middle." I have furthermore seen in the Midrash [the following text]: "And just as the Holy One, blessed be He, created four directions in the universe, so He surrounded His Throne with four "living creatures", and high above them all is the Throne of Glory. The Holy One, blessed be He, told Moses to arrange the standards in a manner corresponding to these directions. There [in Bamidbar Rabba] the Rabbis also interpret [the division of the tribes of Israel] according to four standards as] corresponding to the four groups of angels [surrounding the celestial Throne]. The Midrash also explains there that [the division of the tribes was not arbitrary but] it was all in wisdom, [showing] honor and greatness to Israel, and that therefore Scripture mentions everything in detail. 4
The Zohar offers the following insight into the order of things:Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, 197b-198a - According to another exposition: "Who hath ascended up into heaven?" refers to the Holy One, blessed be He, the allusion being contained in the word Mi (Who?), as explained elsewhere. Here in this passage is contained the mystery of the Divine Chariot, consisting of the four directions of the world which are the four primordial elements, all of which depend on that supernal region called Mi (Who?), as already said. Observe this. When the hour arrives at which it pleases the Holy One, blessed be He, to unify the Supernal Chariot, [Tr. note: Al. "to combine the Supernal Chariot with the Lower Chariot".] a voice issues from that divine supernal region called Heaven to assemble all the saints beneath and all the holy chiefs and supernal legions, so that they should all be in readiness together. Thus Scripture says, "And Moses assembled", "Moses" being an allusion to Heaven; while the words "all the congregation of the children of Israel" allude to the twelve supernal holy legions. The next words, "and said unto them... This is the thing... Take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord", means, "prepare yourselves, all of you, to take and to bear upon you the glory of the Divine Throne so as to raise it aloft to the divine heights; appoint from among you those supernal glorified chiefs who shall take up that offering containing the mystery of the Divine Throne, in order to bring about a union with the "patriarchs", [Tr. note: Al. "with her spouse."] for the Matrona (i.e. the Shekinah) may not come to her Spouse except those youthful bridesmaids follow in her train until she is brought to Him, as it says, "The virgins her companions in her train being brought unto thee" (Psalm 45:15), to wit, that she may join her Spouse. The next words, "Whosoever is of a noble heart", are an allusion to the four superior legions that contain within themselves all the other legions; it is these who issue forth with the exalted patriarchs called "nobles", as in the passage, "which the nobles of the people delved" (Numbers 21:18), indicating the patriarchs. The verse continues, "let him bring it". The singular, "him", where we should expect "them", indicates the merging of them all into a unity. In the next words, "the Lord's offering", the accusative particle eth indicates the inclusion of all the other supernal legions which were to be integrated into one unity; their number is twelve, symbolized by "gold, and silver, and brass; and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goat's hair; and rams skins dyed red, and sealskins, and acacia-wood; and oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense". These are the twelve supernal legions, which are all comprised under the four sacred Hayoth mentioned before. All these ascend towards the Divine Throne, so as to take her up on high that she may join her Spouse, and that He should be with Her in surpassing glory. The Most High King then seats Himself on the Divine Throne in perfect unison with His Spouse, and joy is thus diffused through the universe. (Observe that Scripture here mentions gold before silver, the reason being that this is the scale of values here below; but when it enumerates according to the scale of values in the Heavenly Chariot, Scripture commences from the right and proceeds to the left. So we find it written: "Mine is the silver, and Mine the gold" (Haggai 2:8), first silver and then gold, but here below the left comes first and then the right, as it is written, "gold, and silver, and brass".)
5 Then a voice came from the throne saying, Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!
The idea of God "sitting" and a being in a "throne" are anthropomorphisms (attributes of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior) applied to God to enable us to understand a concept. God of course does not have physical attributes, nor can we "assign Him" to being located in one place.
As expressed in a modern Parsha commentary:
Hashem has no defined place. He is everyplace. However, we know that there is also a notion connecting the presence of Hashem to a throne, and to the throne of Glory. We cannot imagine a throne without assuming that in fact the throne is limited and defines a place, as opposed to Hashem who is unlimited and fills every place. When Hashem sits on the Throne, so to speak, there is an aspect of His presence that is similar to a physical limit. ... We can perceive things only partially and it will seem to us that Hashem has a place. Sometimes in heaven and sometimes on earth and on very special times both in heaven and on earth at the same time. ... We see Hashem clearly, but not completely. 5
The "Throne of Heaven" is representative of the Sefirah of Binah (Understanding) and the World of Beriah (Creation - the "upper" spiritual realm). The image of God sitting in this Throne shows the unification of the Yod (God/Atzilut) and the first Hey (Throne/Beriah). Kabbalistically, the Yod and the first Hey are never separated in the higher worlds, but appear to be so in the lower ones. (See introdution above and comments to verse 7 below.)
As Rabbi Pinchas Winston states:
Furthermore, one of the special paragraphs said in advance of a mitzvah, to focus us on the purpose of the mitzvah (found in most prayer books) is: [I hereby do this mitzvah] for the sake of the unification of The Holy One, Blessed is He, and His Divine Presence, in fear and in love, to unify the Name of yud-h'eh with vav h'eh in completion, in the name of the entire Jewish people. 6
Another insight on this theme, this one from Chabad, says:
"On that day", however, with the advent of Moshiach, the Vav and Hay, the letters of G-d's name that condense and cloak the Light of Divinity, will no longer obscure, because the world will have been refined to the extent that it can receive, and openly manifest G-dliness. At that time, the Vav and Hay will serve to reveal G-dliness just as do the Yud and Hay. In other words, the Yud - Hay - Vav - Hay will function in a manner of Yud - Hay -Yud - Hay to reveal G-d's countenance openly. 7
The (future) unity of all Creation is expressed in the Zohar in this fashion:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, 234b - And observe that all these measurements prescribed for this world had for their object the establishment of this world after the pattern of the upper world, so that the two should be knit together into one mystery. At the destined time, when the Holy One, blessed be He, will bestir Himself to renew the world, all the world will be found to express one mystery, and the glory of the Almighty will then be over all, in fulfilment of the verse, "In that day shall the Lord be one, and his name one" (Zechariah 14:9). R. Judah followed with a discourse on the verse: "The counsel (sod) of the Lord is with them that fear him; and his covenant to make them know it" (Psalm 25:14). "The counsel" (sod), he said, alludes to the sublime mystical knowledge which remains hidden and undisclosed save for those that fear the Lord continuously and thus prove themselves worthy of these secrets and able to keep them.
6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!
7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.
The book in the Bible that perhaps holds more insight into this "marriage" is Song of Songs.
"In the day of his espousals" (Song of Songs 3:11) - this refers to the days of the Messiah, for (then) the Holy One blessed be He, will be like a bridegroom. 8
The "marriage" of the Lamb (the "Son," representative of Yetzirah) and the "wife" (the Bride/Shekinah/Israel representative of Asiyah) shows the unification of the Vav and second Hey. Taken in conjunction with the reference in verse five (to the Yod and first Hey being together) we see the total "unification of the Name" (Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey) representative of the end of days as forecast by the prophet Zechariah:
Zechariah 14:9 - And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be, The LORD is one, And His name one.
SHEMA AND THE UNIFICATION OF THE NAME
As dicussed in earlier studies, the central meaning of the Shema (the preeminent prayer of Judaism) is that of unification of the Name of God. It is expressed in the Zohar in terms of the wedding between the Malkut (Shekinah/Israel) and the King:Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, 160b-161b - The word Shema consists of shem (name) and ain (seventy), indicating the combination of this Name and the other seventy from whence it derives blessing. At the recitation of the Shema, therefore, one must concentrate attention on this union of all the Divine names. For these seventy Names constitute the mystery of the supernal Chariot from whence that Name receives blessing and in which it is contained. Then comes the word Israel, referring, as we have learnt, to "Ancient Israel" (Tifereth), so that this emanation may also be included. So "Hear, O Israel," signifies the union of the Spouse with her Husband (i.e. Malkuth with Tifereth), so that all is in all, and all is one ... "The Lord our God, the Lord", the mystery of the Unity in three aspects (lit. "in three sides") has often been referred to by the Holy Lamp (R. Simeon), and we are not permitted to enlarge upon what he has said. However, certain it is, that upon the head of the man who unifies the Name of the Holy One above and below, the Shekinah descends to rest, and to bless him with seven blessings, and to proclaim concerning him: "Thou art my servant, Israel, in whom I am glorified" (Isaiah 49:3).Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, 215b-217b - The term SH e M a (hear) is esoterically analysed into SHeM (name) and the letter Ain (= 70), that is, one Name comprising seventy names whilst remaining a unity. "Israel" here signifies "Ancient Israel", in contrast to "Little Israel", of whom it is written: "When Israel was a child, then I loved him" (Hosea 11:1). "Ancient Israel" symbolizes the union of the Shekinah with her Spouse, and in pronouncing that name we have to concentrate our mind on the principle of unity, on the union of the two habitations; we have to put all our being, all the members of our body, our complete devotion, into that thought so as to rise and attach ourselves to the En-sof (Infinite), and thus achieve the oneness of the upper and the lower worlds. The words, "the Lord our God" are to reunite all the Members to the place from which they issued, which is the innermost Sanctuary. The same thought is continued in the words, "the Lord is one", in the recital of which we have to make our thoughts range throughout all the grades up to the Infinite (En-sof) in love and fear ...
This same section of the Zohar links everything together and mentioned Ezekiel's Chariot (the "four living creatures mentioned in verse 3 above) as being a representation of this unification:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, 217b ... As we have learnt, "one" alludes to above, below, and the four quarters of the universe, these being the supernal Chariot, so that all are embraced in a single unity reaching out to the En-sof (Infinite).
(For additional information on the Shema and Yichud Hashem see our background study on the Shema.)
This marriage ushers in the long awaited time of perfect peace throughout creation, from the loftiest levels of heaven "down to" the depths of Gehenna:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, 51b - At last comes the moment when a voice proclaims throughout all the spheres: "Sanctified! Sanctified!" Then there is peace everywhere, perfect peace, even to the wicked in Gehenna, and all the souls crown themselves, some above, and some below.
(In the next section [on the subject of "crowns"] we will review the role of Messiah in bringing such a sweeping rectification of Creation.)
8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
The reference to linen is allusion to the Cohen Gadol and Mishkan (Hight Priest and Tabernacle) as found in the Tenakh. The text shows that our "spiritual garments" are made of our "physical good works."
9 Then he said to me, Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! And he said to me, These are the true sayings of God.
Note how verse 8 is in the singular and verse 9 in the plural (showing the unity of the bride, i.e., the Shekinah and all of Israel) as explained in Zohar 197b-198a shown in verse 4 above.
1. From http://www.kabbalaonline.org/Society/currentevents/Great_Walls_Will_Fall.asp
2. From The Complete Artscroll Siddur, Shacharis for Sabbath and Festivals, Mesorah Publications, Ltd..Brooklyn, 1994.
4. From http://www.kabbalaonline.org/WeeklyTorah/MysticalClassics/Standards_of_Celestial_Conduct.asp "Standards of Celestial Conduct," commentary on Parsha Bamidbar (Numbers 1:1-4:20).
5. From http://www.yhol.org.il/parsha/5762/yitro62.htm - Commentary on Parsha Yitro by Rabbi Chaim Brovender.
6. From http://www.torah.org/learning/perceptions/5760/vaeschanan.html - Parshas Vaeschanan/Nachamu, Pleading in Comfort, by Rabbi Pinchas Winston.
8. From Yalqut Shim'oni, Songs, no. 988, as cited in The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1979, p. 238.
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