UNIVERSAL TESHUVAH AND UNIFICATION OF THE NAME OF GOD
Beginning with this chapter (through chapter 16), we are told of a series of three sets of judgments, commonly referred to as the "seal," "trumpet" and "bowl" judgments. With regard to these events, most Revelation studies are typically concerned with the effect these judgments have upon the earth and mankind. In this study we offer an alternative view, that being that these judgments are part of a process that effects teshuvah (return/repentance) to the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyyah.
Key to understanding this sequence of judgments is a comprehension of the Unification of the Name of God (a process called Yichud Hashem), and the ushering in of the Messianic Kingdom. Among other Scriptures, the book of Hebrews states that Messiah is heir of all things within creation. This includes not only the physical earth, but those things in the spiritual realms of Beriah and Yetzirah:
Modern Orthodox Kabbalists make a link between Messiah and Metatron, (called by the Hebrew acronym MemTet in the following text), of whom it is said will come in the flesh and rule over all of creation:
MemTet rules over G-ds entire universe, not just here on planet earth. Thus when Melekh HaMashiah comes, he will be MemTet incarnate. As such, he will serve as G-ds regent over the entire universe and not just king here on earth. Mashiah will be to HaShem what Yosef was to Pharaoh in Egypt. Thus, we see that the role and authority of Mashiah is not merely limited to this world. 1
As discussed in our background studies on the Four Worlds, the three worlds within "creation" (beginning with Genesis 1:1), those being Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyyah, all exhibit some form of "evil" within them. (Only the world of Atzilut is purely Divine and free from any evil, as within it there is no division or change.) We have also explained how the Shekinah itself is attached to the evil realm (the "sitra atra"), until the time it is set free and reunited with the Godhead.
As stated by Rabbi Moshe Luzzatto, in his classic work, Derech Hashem ("The Way of God"):
What must take place before all things are given to the Messiah (and God's Name is unified), is a purging of evil from the worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyyah. This is considered to be their "return" (teshuvah) to God.
As explained by Rabbi Luzzatto:
The Zohar mentions the following with regard to the idea of celestial cleansing:
As what occurs in any one of these worlds has effect on the others, when evil is purged from the world of Beriah the impact is felt on the earth. The same goes for when evil is abolished from Yetzirah. Finally, when evil is driven from Asiyyah (the physical world) into Gehenna (which exists "beyond" Asiyyah), all worlds are ready for unification, the great wedding feast, and Messianic kingdom. (Also see section on "Evil" below.)
As stated by Kabbalistic teacher, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, all of creation will undergo teshuvah at the end of days:
What we are "seeing" in John's accounts of the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments, is primarily the effect upon the earth of the three worlds being rectified. What is not so explicit is that which the physical eye cannot see in the spiritual realms.
A recent Chassidic commentary offers these insights on the teachings of the Torah, which may well be applied to what is depicted in the book of Revelation:
Another way of looking at this process is examining the extended Tree of Life, and considering all that lies between mankind (located at the Malkut of Asiyyah), and the heavenly Temple (in the upper realm of Beriah). Picture that same Temple being on the earth (as it will be in the Millennial Kingdom, i.e., Ezekiel chapters 40-48), with the Sephirot between those two extremes no longer being "present."
Rabbi Pinchas Winston comments on this idea, that leads to the Millennial Kingdom:
The Sefiros work in a similar fashion. They are a system that G-d employs to translate HIS will into OUR reality, so that creation can interact with us, and we, with it, and through it all, earn our portion in the World-to-Come. And depending on the command of G-d, a certain sefirah is activated to provide a certain effect at precisely a certain time in a precise way. Just as with the computer, there can be a chain of command where one signal triggers another, and so on until the intention of the typist is executed. So too, does one sefirah give light over to another, until the light reaches its Divinely intended and final destination. The more conductors the electrical current has to pass through a computer, the weaker the signal. The more sefiros the light passes through, the weaker, the more physical the light. In Moshiach's time, may it be soon in our time, the lower sefiros begin to move in the opposite direction from whence they originally came, upward, and with them, human reality. Therefore, the light that will sustain us will have less sefiros through which to travel, and therefore, it will be less filtered. That is why evil will and must cease to exist, just as darkness is banished with the introduction of light. 6
Winston also expresses the same idea in terms of God's "light" reversing its direction at some predestined point in history:
The Zohar reminds us that Rosh haShana ("New Year's Day") marks the beginning of this time ("the Day of the Lord"), where God judges each "sphere" of creation:
Following the Day of the Lord, all of creation from the heavenly Jerusalem to the physical world of earthly Jerusalem, will have undergone teshuvah. When the earthly Jerusalem is thus "ready," the final stages of Yichud Hashem will be enabled.
The Talmud expresses this idea as follows:
This time of unification, (the seventh Millennium), is also known as the Great Sabbath, which as we have shown in our background studies, is closely associated to the Shekinah itself. At this time, the Shekinah will be freed from any connection to the sitra atra (evil realm), which is presently not the case. Only with evil being "put aside" as such, does the unification process go forward.
The Zohar speaks of the weekly Sabbath giving us a picture of what is to come:
As also mentioned earlier in our study, both the Shekinah as well as faithful Israel (and those gentiles who cleave to her), are considered the "bride" (Malkut). Thus Israel's enemies must also, once and for, all be vanquished prior to Yichud Hashem:
The above theme is reflected in Rabbi Chayim Henoch's book on the great 13th century kabbalist, Nachmanides, which relates the function of the divine World of Atzilut in purging evil from the world in terms of the spiritual power of the nations decreasing and that of Israel increasing -- a key topic to the book of Revelation:
Scripture tells us that the final redemption of Israel and the ingathering of the exiles to the Land of Israel is directly tied to the ultimate sanctification (unification) of the Name of God:
1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying, as it were a voice of thunder, `Come and behold!'
Beginning with this verse, numerous metaphors are used to represent spiritual concepts, including; Messiah as a "Lamb," a scroll with seals, horses, horsemen, stars, the heavens as a scroll, mountains, islands, dens and rocks. These will be discussed as they are encountered in the text.
As mentioned in the previous chapter, the setting for the initial set of events is Beriah, the world of the "Throne" of God. As we will see, the second set of trumpet judgments are mainly concerned with the world of Yetzirah, and the last (bowl judgments), with Asiyyah, the physical world.
This initial set of judgments begins with four that are carried out by "horsemen" who go from Beriah to afflict the earth. As mentioned, the language here is metaphorical -- these are not literal men on flesh and blood horses that will be riding around the globe. Keep in mind that in the world of Beriah we are dealing things at the archetypal level of creation, which is a world of higher spiritual concepts or forces, outside of the realm of physical experience. Everything is Beriah however, is connected to that which we experience in the physical world of Asiyyah.
As stated by Rabbi Moshe Luzzatto:
The concept of "evil" is important to understand at this point, as there is exists more than one "kind" of evil. For instance, evil is found when human beings, knowing both good and evil, choose to do the latter. There is also "evil" in terms of spiritual forces, or beings, who simply exist as such. There is also evil in the existence of a place such as Gehenna, which the sages say, is one of the seven things that pre-existed the physical world. In Isaiah 45:7, God states that He creates evil - a verse that troubles those who don't understand the role God has given these forces and forms.
The four horsemen of Revelation may be considered "evil" in terms of their function, but it is important to realize that all created beings, even "evil ones" exist to serve God's purpose.
As described in the work, Derech Hashem:
The book of Enoch speaks of angels of Satan in terms of their accomplishing God's will:
The "left side" of the Tree of Life is said to be the side from which evil emanates, but this too must be seen in terms of God's justice and severity that act in order to correct what is wrong, especially in the physical world of Asiyyah - where free will exists. 11
The Zohar associates the sitra atra with being the counterpart to the "holy side" of the Kingdom of Heaven:
As stated by Rabbi Luzzatto:
This concept is also reflected in the colors of these horses. The first three are said to be white, red and black. The last is rendered as "pale" in most translations, however, the Greek word used to describe this, (chloros - Strongs #5514) denotes a pale green. These four colors - white, red, black and green, mimic the divine colors, as mentioned previously. (Also see comments at end of this study section.)
We give yet one more reference to this from the Zohar, commenting on these colors of the "expanse of heaven above the lower Paradise," (i.e., Beriah, above Yetzirah):
The following passage from the Zohar shows that the connection between the physical and spiritual realms, includes both a good and evil side:
An especially interesting concept is that evil is necessary for "true good' to come about:
2 and I saw, and lo, a white horse, and he who is sitting upon it is having a bow, and there was given to him a crown, and he went forth overcoming, and that he may overcome.
We know from other Scriptures and Hebraic writings that the world will be overcome by a great deception in the last days, one that will precede a time of awesome calamity. The text concerning the first of the four "horsemen" seems to support this idea, particularly the idea of the crown, a symbol of authority. Yeshua warned of a false Messiah that would come in his own "name" (i.e., "authority") who would be accepted by many (John 5:43).The concept of "bow" also has allusions to Nimrod, who was a mighty hunter as well as the force behind Babel, a precursor to Babylon. This also is consistent with the rest of Revelation, as a modern "system of Babylon" will overcome the earth.
What follows in the next several verses is a picture of war, famine and other disasters, all brought about via the remaining "horsemen." As mentioned, these horsemen are spiritual entities who serve God, and bring what we consider "evil" to the earth, but with the purpose of giving mankind the opportunity for teshuvah (i.e., Revelation 9:20; 16:9).
The relationship of horsemen to "evil" spiritual entities (called "fishes"), is mentioned in this text from the Zohar:
- R. Isaac said: Dan is compared to a serpent lying in wait in the way. But there is also a reference to another serpent above, lying in wait in ways and paths, from whom issue those who lie in wait for the sons of men on account of the sins which they cast behind their backs. R. Hiya said: The primeval serpent above, before he is appeased with gladdening wine, is "a serpent by the way". As there is a "way" above, so there is a "way" below, and the sea is divided into various paths on every side. There is one path which has abundance of water and breeds many kinds of evil fishes, just as the waters below breed good and bad fishes. When they escape from the path of the sea, they appear like riders on horseback, and were it not that this serpent who is the rearward of all the tents lies in wait at the end of the path and drives them back, they would destroy the world. It is from the side of these that sorcerers come forth. In the hollow of the great abyss, which is on the north side, there are many demons endowed with power to do mischief in the world. A comparison may be made between the seal judgments of Revelation and events prophecied in Matthew 24, Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 16. 13 3 And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, `Come and behold!' 4 and there went forth another horse -- red, and to him who is sitting upon it, there was given to him to take the peace from the land, and that one another they may slay, and there was given to him a great sword. 5 And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, `Come and behold!' and I saw, and lo, a black horse, and he who is sitting upon it is having a balance in his hand, 6 and I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, `A measure of wheat for a denary, and three measures of barley for a denary,' and `The oil and the wine thou mayest not injure.'
As forecast throughout Hebraic writings, the days leading up to the coming of the Messiah will be filled with war and famine.
The Talmud parallels the book of Revelation regarding a seven year period of trials:
BREAD, OIL AND WINE
The reference to wheat and barley (both used to make bread) in verse six, selling for a "denary" indicates an "inflated cost" and thus scarcity. Though this may in fact depict a physical famine, there is also a deeper meaning, related to a scarcity of "spiritual bread," that being Torah, at this time.
This is refected in the end-time prophecies of the prophet Amos:
Note in the Talmudic reference above how the reference to physical famine is linked to the idea of spiritual famine, where Torah is lacking. When Torah "returns," it is said that the people will again "eat and drink." This may be compared to Yeshua's words regarding following Torah, which He expressed using similar metaphorical language:
- Then Yeshua said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.
God's sustenance will continue in the very last days, but not in great abundance. This is based on the principle that as long as there is at least one righteous person on the earth, that person acts in the role of God's tzaddik (see studies on Yesod being the channel of heavenly provision). In the case of this seven year tribulation, there will be 144,000 tzaddikim serving God and man as such. They will bring the gospel (Torah) to the world, and then the end will come (i.e., Matthew 24:14).
Several sections of the Zohar (shown below), address the subjects of "oil and wine" in close proximity, and lend to the idea of God's spiritual provision. This first section shows how oil and wine represent the right and left sides of the Godhead and how oil must be present on the "table below" in order for blessings to come from above (Thus the instruction in Revelation to not "harm" the "oil" or "wine" below.):
The following section links wine to both Torah, Messiah and the "spirit of Messiah" present at the creation of the world. The subject of bread is linked closely to wine and oil in terms of God's spiritual provision for the world:
This next section again speaks of the right and left sides of the Godhead, and the association of water, oil and wine to the priesthood. Note that in chapter 7 of Revelation, there are 144,000 members of the "royal priesthood" bringing witness ("oil" and "wine") to the world. (Thus, "oil and wine" in the context of Revelation 6:6 could speak of the witness, or the witnesses, or both.) There is also mention of a "bad wine," which corresponds to the wine of Babylon discussed later in Revelation:
Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3 Page 39a - "Wine rejoiceth the heart of man" (Ps. CIV, 15). 'If', he said, the priest requires to be glad and smiling more than other men, why is he forbidden wine, which creates joy and smiles? The truth is that wine rejoices at first and saddens afterwards, and the priest must be glad throughout. Also wine is of the side of the Levites, but the side of the priests is pure and clear water.' R. Jose said: 'Each lends to the other, and therefore wine gladdens at first because it contains water, but afterwards it reverts to its own nature and brings gloom.' R. Abba said: 'Wine, oil and water issue from the same place. Water and oil, which are on the right, are taken by the priests, especially oil, which is joy first and last, as it is written: "Like the goodly oil upon the head that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard" (Ps. CXXXIII, 2). Wine, which is on the left, is inherited by the Levites, that they may raise their voices in song and not be silent, for wine is never silent, but oil is always noiseless. The difference between them is this. Oil comes from the side of Thought, which is always silent and unheard, whereas wine, which is for raising the voice, comes from the side of the Mother. Therefore the priest, when he entered the Sanctuary to perform divine service, was forbidden to drink wine, because his service is carried out quietly.'R. Judah and R. Isaac were once going from Be Merunia to Sepphoris, and with them was a youth leading an ass, on which was a jar of honey. Said R. Judah: 'Let us discourse on the Torah as we go.' R. Isaac began by quoting the verse: "And thy palate is like the best wine that goeth down smoothly for my beloved" (S.S. VII, 9). 'This wine', he said, 'is the wine of the Torah, which is in truth good, because there is another wine which is not good. But the wine of the Torah is good for all-good for this world and good for the world to come. This, too, is the wine that pleases the Holy One, blessed be He, more than all, and therefore he who quaffs deeply of the wine of the Torah will wake in the world to come and will come to life when God shall raise the righteous.' Said R. Judah: 'We have learnt that even in that world he will be able to study the Torah, as it is written, "He causeth to mutter the lips of the sleepers" (Ibid.).' The youth hereupon remarked: 'If it had been written, "thy palate is from the best wine", your explanation would have been correct, but it is written "like the best wine".' They looked at him, and R. Judah said: 'Speak on, for your remark is a good one.' He continued: 'I have heard that if a man who studies the Torah diligently allows his expositions to be heard and does not merely whisper them. This next text links the oil and wine to "the world to come" (Olam Haba) and to "repentance," both of which are associated with the Sephirah of Binah (understanding), the source of spiritual provision for the lower seven Sephirot and the world. (Binah is the "Supernal Mother" mentioned in the Zohar, Shemoth, Page 184b reference in verse 1 above):
This final reference ties the concept of supernal wine back to the idea of God's left and right hands "working together," as discussed at the beginning of chapter five's notes. Again we encounter the concept of having something present below (in this case bread), to assure blessing from above:
- Rab Hamnuna the Elder would not allow anyone else to take the cup of blessing, but he himself took it in his two hands and said the blessing. We have affirmed that the cup should be taken in the right hand, and not in the left. It is called "cup of salvations" (Ps. CXVI, 13), because through it blessings are drawn from the supernal salvations, and in it is collected the supernal wine. Also, the table over which the blessing is said should not be devoid of both bread and wine. The Community of Israel is called "cup of blessing", and therefore the cup should be raised both by the right hand and the left hand, so as to be set between. It should be filled with wine, because of the wine of the Torah which issues from the future world. There is a mystic allusion in this cup of blessing to the holy chariot. The right and left hands correspond to the north and south, between which is "the couch of Solomon". He who says the blessing should fix his eye upon the cup to bless it with four blessings. Thus the cup contains the emblem of faith, north, south, east, and west, and so the holy chariot. There should be bread on the table in order that the lower bread may be blessed, and the "bread of poverty" may become the "bread of luxury". In this way the Community of Israel will be blessed in all four directions, above and below-above by the bread of blessing and the cup of blessing through which King David is joined to the patriarchs, and below, that bread should never be lacking from the Israelite's table. 7 And when he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, `Come and behold!' 8 and I saw, and lo, a pale green horse, and he who is sitting upon him -- his name is Death, and Hades doth follow with him, and there was given to them authority to kill, (over the fourth part of the land,) with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and by the beasts of the land.
In summation, we can make the following comparison between the colors of the Sephirot and those of the Horsemen:
Note also, that as Tipheret is said to be the
synthesis of the other Sephirot, so is the fourth green Horse a synthesis of all four, as
it contains the authority of the first, the sword (war) of the second, the hunger of the
third, and its own forms of death.
1. Identifying Shiloh - The Secret Soul of the Mashiah, Parashat Vayehi, 5762, www.koshertorah.com/vayehi.html 2. Derech Hashem (The Way of God), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, translated and annotated by Aryeh Kaplan, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1997, p. 207. 3. ibid, p. 275. 4. A Kabbalistic Universe, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc. York Beach Maine, 1977, p. 199. 5. In the Garden of Torah: Parshat Mikeitz, An End and a Beginning, December 13, 2001, www.chabadonline.com 6. Perceptions On The Parsha, Parshas Ki Saitzai, "Out & Up," Rabbi Pinchas Winston, http://www.torah.org/learning/perceptions/5761/kiseitzei.html 7. Perceptions On The Parsha - Parashas Shoftim: Judging by the Situation, Rabbi Pinchas Winston, http://www.torah.org/learning/perceptions/5761/shoftim.html 8. Ramban, Philosopher and Kabbalist, Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson Inc. Jerusalem, 1998, p. 261. 9. Derech Hashem (The Way of God), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, translated and annotated by Aryeh Kaplan, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1997, pp. 78-79. 10. ibid, p. 87. 11. See A Kabbalistic Universe, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc. York Beach Maine, 1977, p. 92 12. Derech Hashem (The Way of God), Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, translated and annotated by Aryeh Kaplan, Feldheim Publishers, Jerusalem, 1997, p. 207.
13. See Seven Seals, Seven Thunders, James Trimm, Society for the Advancement of Nazarene Judaism, Hurst Texas, 2000, pp. 5-6.
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