MESSIAH - PART 4
ATONEMENT/SALVATION THROUGH TIME
(Last updated 12/7/01)
LESSONS FROM ABRAHAM AND THE
The concept of God "providing His own salvation," (see previous citation from
Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 56a), ties back to the Akeidah, Abraham's
binding of his son Isaac upon the altar. (The Akeidah (Genesis 22) is read every year at
the Feast of Rosh haShana. Jewish history says the Akeidah itself took place on
In this section of the Zohar, Abraham comments that there was a future sacrifice yet to
occur, that being God's own sacrifice. As we will discuss in the next section, this is the
"Lamb of God" who takes away the sins of the world:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 120a - ON THE THIRD DAY
ABRAHAM LIFTED UP HIS EYES, AND SAW THE PLACE AFAR OFF. As we have already been told that
Abraham went to the place, all this seems superfluous. But the truth is that the
third day means the third generation, i.e. Jacob, and the words he saw the
place from afar are parallel to the expression from afar the Lord appeared
unto me (Jer. XXXI, 3). Or again, the place alludes to Jacob, of whom it
is written, and he took one of the stones of the place (Gen. XXVIII, 11). For
Abraham scrutinized the third day, which is the third grade, and he
beheld Jacob, who was destined to descend from him. Afar off, to wit, at some
distant time, and not soon. R. Eleazar said to R. Judah: What credit is herein
ascribed to Abraham, if whilst about to bind Isaac he saw that Jacob was destined to
descend from him? R. Judah replied: Indeed Abraham did see Jacob, since even
before that Abraham was endowed with the higher Wisdom; and now he scrutinized the third
day, which is the third grade, in order to make sure. And indeed he did see him, but now
only from afar, for the reason that he was going to bind Isaac, and he did not
wish to question the ways of the Holy One. Afar off, that is, he saw him
through a dim glass only, and therefore only partially; for if the clear
glass had been resting upon the dim glass, Abraham would have seen him
The clear glass did not function on this occasion, because this
is the grade of Jacob, who, not yet being born, had not reached that grade; and
also in order that Abraham's reward might be all the greater. AND THEY CAME TO THE PLACE
WHICH GOD HAD TOLD HIM OF, ETC. Here it is intimated that although Abraham had some vision
of Jacob, yet he said to himself, Assuredly the Holy One knows another way
which will serve. Forthwith, therefore, ABRAHAM BUILT THE ALTAR THERE.
Before this it is written: AND ISAAC SPOKE UNTO ABRAHAM HIS FATHER, AND SAID, MY FATHER.
As explained elsewhere, the reason why Abraham did not respond to him immediately was
because the normal compassion of a father towards a son left him, and hence he simply
said: Here I am, my son, implying that the quality of mercy in him had been
transmuted into rigour. AND ABRAHAM SAID. It is not written: and his father
said, which shows again that he was regarding him not as his father but as his
adversary. GOD WILL PROVIDE FOR HIMSELF THE LAMB FOR A BURNT OFFERING, MY SON. He should
have said: provide for us, but what he meant was, God will
provide for Himself when necessary, but for the present it is going to be my son and
The above text includes several deep concepts, including Abraham "looking into the
future, upon the "third day," (also called the "third
grade," which is the third Sephirah of Binah-Understanding). The Sephirah of
Binah is associated with several subjects including; Jubilee, New Jerusalem, Yom Kippur
and establishment of God's kingdom on earth - all Messianic themes - as well as the
"future" with regard to time.
We have already established the link between Jacob and Yeshua, via their relationship
to Tipheret. This is also indicated in the above text as "the clear glass,"
(the "lucid mirror"), one of the names given to Tipheret. Abraham can be said to
have seen the day of Messiah. Abraham only saw into the future by way of the "dim
glass" which is associated with either Yesod or Malkut. Recall that in Exodus 6:2,
God tells Moses that He revealed Himself to Abraham only as Shaddai (Yesod) and not YHWH
Yeshua mentioned Abraham's vision in a verse where He placed Himself on a par with
John 8:56-58 - Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he
saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and
hast thou seen Abraham? Yeshua said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before
Abraham was, I am.
In as much as the above portion of the Zohar speaks
of Abraham looking "forward" to the day of Messiah, the following portion, also
involving the Akeidah, looks "back." Here, the ram that Abraham
sacrificed at a particular point "in time," is said to have been pre-ordained
and manifested itself in time and space at the time Abraham needed it. (Judaism teaches
that God often provides the solution before the problem even manifests itself.)
Again, we refer to the idea mentioned earlier, that if the element of
sacrifice pre-existed since the foundation of the world, the actual work of
sacrifice/atonement did as well. (i.e., Yeshua being the "lamb slain since the
foundation of the world." - Revelation 13:8.)
The text mentions, "the angel of His presence" (here seen as the
Shekinah, though having association with Metatron), having determined in advance to
partake of the suffering of Israel. The passage goes on to say that God (the Holy One
blessed be He - i.e., Tipheret) will proclaim to the world the salvation of God:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 120b - Straightway,
however, ABRAHAM LIFTED UP HIS EYES AND LOOKED AND BEHELD BEHIND HIM A RAM, ETC. We have
been taught that that ram was created at twilight (on the sixth day of Creation), and he
was of the first year, as it is written, one he-lamb of the first year (Num.
VII, 63), thus being according to requirement. But if so, how could he have been created
at twilight? The truth is that from that time it was pre-ordained that that ram
should be at hand at the moment when Abraham should require it. The same applies
to all those things said to have come into being at twilight, which in reality
means that they were then predestined to appear at the requisite moment. R. Judah further
discoursed on the verse: In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his
presence saved them (Is. LXIII, 9). He said: This is the translation of the k'ri,
hut according to the k'thib we should translate, He was not afflicted. The
lesson to be derived from this variation is that Israel's affliction reaches the Holy One
even in the place above which is beyond affliction or perturbation.
And the angel of his presence saved them. If He is
together with them in their affliction, how can it be said that He saves them? Observe,
however, that it is not written, He saves them, but he saved them,
that is, He determined in advance to partake in their sufferings. For
whenever Israel is in exile the Shekinah accompanies them, as it is written, Then
the Lord thy God will return (v-shab) with thy captivity (Deut. XXX, 3).
According to another explanation, The angel of his presence signifies the
Shekinah, which accompanies them in exile. Hence in the Scripture the words and I
have remembered my covenant (Ex. VI, 5) are immediately followed by and now,
behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me; moreover, I have seen
(Ex. III, 9). It is also written, And God remembered his covenant (Ibid. II,
24), referring to the Shekinah, with Abraham (Ibid.), symbolic of South-west,
with Isaac (Ibid.), symbolic of North-west, and with Jacob
(Ibid.), symbolising the complete and perfect union. The Holy One, blessed be He,
will one day send forth a voice to proclaim to the world the words, For he said,
Surely, they are my people, children that will not deal falsely; so he was their
saviour (Is. LXIII, 8). Blessed be the Lord for evermore, Amen and Amen.
As mentioned, in addition to being called
"grades," the Sephirot are also known as "gates" or "doors,"
as it is through them that we approach God in order to be conformed to His image and grow
in intimacy with Him.
The following section of the Zohar, gives additional
insight into the Sephirah of Yesod (known as Shaddai), being the door that leads
to the other Supernal doors, and how Abraham was able to gain insight through this door:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 103a - The "gates"
mentioned in this passage (Prov. 31:23) are the same as the gates in the passage,
"Lift up your heads, O ye gates" (Ps. XXIV, 7), and refer to the supernal grades
by and through which alone a knowledge of the Almighty is possible to man, and but for
which man could not commune with God. Similarly, man's soul cannot be known directly, save
through the members of the body, which are the grades forming the instruments of the soul.
The soul is thus known and unknown. So it is with the Holy One, blessed be He, since He is
the Soul of souls, the Spirit of spirits, covered and veiled from anyone; nevertheless,
through those gates, which are doors for the soul, the Holy One makes Himself known. For
there is door within door, grade behind grade, through which the glory of the Holy One is
made known. Hence here "the tent door" is the door of righteousness,
referred to in the words, "Open to me the gates of righteousness" (Ps. CXVIII,
19), and this is the first entrance door: through this door a view is opened to all the
other supernal doors. He who succeeds in entering this door is privileged to know both it
and all the other doors, since they all repose on this one.
At the present time this door remains unknown
because Israel is in exile; and therefore all the other doors are removed from them, so
that they cannot know or commune; but when Israel return from exile, all the
supernal grades are destined to rest harmoniously upon this one. Then men will
obtain a knowledge of the precious supernal wisdom of which hitherto they wist not, as it
is written, "And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and
understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of
the Lord" (Is. XI, 2). All these are destined to rest on this lower door which is the
"tent door"; all too will rest upon the Messiah in order that
he may judge the world, as it is written, "But with righteousness shall he judge the
poor, etc." (Ibid. 4). Thus when the good tidings were brought to
Abraham, it was that grade which brought them, as we have deduced from the fact
that the word vayomer (and he said) is used without a specific subject in the passage
"And he said, I will certainly return unto thee when the season cometh round."
We learn the following from this above
- The Sephirot, also called gates or grades, are provided by the
infinite Eyn Sof as a means for finite man to understand Him.
- Man's body (which he can understand) is to his soul (which he
cannot comprehend) as the gates are to the Eyn Sof.
- These grades are presented not so much in a "linear
fashion," but as one within the next, such as a circle within a circle (i.e.,
Ezekiel's vision of a "wheel within a wheel").
- The gate of righteousness (Yesod) is the entrance way to
other gates/grades, leading to God.
- Israel is blind to this gate to righteousness in its
current exile. (Romans 11:25)
- When Israel returns from exile (i.e. Romans 11:26) there will be a
unification of all God's creation, including the various grades (gates) of the heavenly
- At that time, all of these grades will "rest upon" this
single gate of righteousness, which is the tent door (facing "east," the
direction of Tipheret and the other Sephirot).
- All these grades will also rest upon the Messiah, showing Him to
be intimately linked to the gate of righteousness, the Sephirah of Yesod.
- The "good tidings" were brought to Abraham by this
single grade. These "good tidings" are the "gospel," which we have
already discussed is associated with the Sephirah of Binah and the Jubilee
Release, which is "Messiah's Day."
- As Messiah is Himself linked to this grade, this explains how
Yeshua could have brought the gospel to Abraham, including revelation of "His
day" (John 8:56).
THE SEPHIROT THROUGH
In a Pesakh (Passover) commentary for this year (5761/2001), Rabbi Yisroel
Ciner, speaking of how the element of "time" restricts our view of reality and
God (and how God is not restricted by this), gives the following example:
The physical world is bound by time and place. These parameters do not exist in the
spiritual realm and they, of course, do not bind Hashem, in the least. We can, to a
certain degree, understand that Hashem is not bound by space since mankind, to a certain
degree, has overcome the parameters of space. We live in a world of CNN's global village.
We can, in real time, observe events that are occurring on the other side of the globe. As
such, we can somewhat understand that Hashem is not bound by that parameter. Existing
beyond time, on the other hand, being that we are totally bound by it, is most difficult
to understand. We remember the past, surmise about the future and exist in the
split-second known as the present. However, the true reality for those not bound by this
parameter is that the past, present and future all exist simultaneously! Rav Dessler
offers an illuminating understanding of this idea. He explains that it can be compared to
a map of the world covered by a large paper with a small 'window' cut out. This window is
only large enough to reveal one city of this world map. By moving the paper, the city that
had been revealed becomes covered as the next city comes into view. The cities that were
in view, the city that is in view and the cities that will come into view all exist
simultaneously. They are only hidden from us. Time is the cloak that inexorably moves over
the map of our lives, relegating the past to our memory while revealing the present and
concealing the future. This time-cloak of concealment only obscures the physical realm. No
such cloak exists in the spiritual domain. 1
As discussed earlier, God has revealed Himself in stages through history.
To Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He revealed Himself at the level of Shaddai (Yesod). Only
with Moses, was He revealed at the level of YHWH (Tipheret):
Exodus: 6:2 - And God speaketh unto Moses, and saith
unto him, `I am YHWH, and I appear unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto
Jacob, as El Shaddai; as to My name YHWH, I have not been known to them;
The key point here, is that although God was revealed as "Shaddai" to
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He still "existed" as YHWH at that time. Later, when
He reveals Himself as YHWH to Moses, He does not cease "being" Shaddai. All of
these emanations of God existed (and continue to exist) together, and each contains
aspects of the other(s). (I.e., "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father"
- John 14:9). Partly, due to the restrictions of time in our physical universe, we
"see" God in different ways at different times in history. (See above example
quoted by Rabbi Ciner.)
As all of the Sephirot are emanations of the same God and thus share characteristics,
they nonetheless represent distinct aspects and perform different "functions" of
God. As Scripture, and other Hebrew writings, show that the Sephirot are revealed at
different times in history, it can be said that God, making Himself known to man in
different forms, causes His plan of atonement/salvation to "play out" in history
one step at a time.
Just as our own spiritual journey begins with the Malkut (i.e., "Seek ye first the
Kingdom ..."), and ascends "up the pillar" through Yesod, toward Tipheret
and ultimately Keter, God's revelation of Himself "descends" through the
Sephirot, beginning with Keter and descending "down the pillar" to Malkut.
Author Yehuda Liebes, in his book, Studies in the Zohar, explains the concept
of spiritual history in terms of a journey through the Sephirot:
"The Zohar describes the unfolding of the generations as a descent through the
body of the Holy One, at the End of Days the process will reach his feet [Malkut]
and the Messiah will arrive." 2
Prior to this "arrival" at Malkut (see above), this "unfolding of
generations" through the kabbalistic Tree of Life must pass through Yesod. (This role of Yesod was discussed in a previous section.) We will now
associate this aspect of Yesod (which as discussed is identified with "Tzaddik"
- the righteous one), with God's salvation plan through time.
Yehuda Liebes (who is a teacher of Jewish mysticism at Hebrew University of Jerusalem),
writes of a Messianic figure who is "not exactly" Messiah. In the opening
paragraphs of his classic work, Studies in the Zohar, he mentions:
"... a messianic figure who is actively engaged in the process of the world's
tikkun [restoration]. While he is not the Messiah himself -- the latter will come only
after the tikkun -- it is he who paves the way for redemption and makes it possible."
The Zohar speaks to great lengths of Simeon bar Yohai, a second century rabbi
who is said to have been the only righteous man of his day. Although many
"messianic" attributes are associated with Rabbi bar Yohai, he is seen in the
limited role of one who, "absolves the world of judgment until the advent of
According to Liebes, Rabbi bar Yohai also taught at length about;
"... the mystery of the Godhead and on the sefirot during history and exiles
of the Jewish people, and finally, from an examination of the letters of the
Tetragrammaton in combination with other calculations, determines the date of the End of
Days. The End would occur in several stages." 5
According to Liebes, the second century gathering and teachings of bar Yohai and his
followers, called the Idra, is considered in the Zohar, as a singular event,
greater even than the assembly of the Israelites at Mt. Sinai for the giving of the Torah.
The Idra did not represent the advent of Messiah, but a "stage preparatory to
it." (This will be discussed in more detail later in this study). 6
Another aspect that Liebes brings forth, is that of the "mysterious aspect"
of the Tzaddik, who not only does not reveal secrets, but he himself is called a secret
and is guarded in secrecy. The Tzaddik is the "concealed aspect of the
Godhead." (As opposed to Malkut - the revealed aspect.) 7
This "concealed aspect of Tzaddik" is reflected in several themes. This
includes Yesod as the phallus image, which modesty dictates is kept hidden. Another is
shown in a story of the letters of the Torah who vied to be first letter of the Torah. The
letter Tsadde asked to be first, as it is associated with the foundation of the
world. God responded by saying, "Tsadde, you are tsadi and you are tsaddik
(righteous), but you must be concealed; you may not be so exposed." 8
Liebes mentions how the letter tsadde is formed of the letters yod
and nun, which are male and female joined back to back. (As mentioned earlier,
Yesod has both male and female characteristics.)
What is especially interesting is this observation of Liebes':
This "back to back" form represents a defect, and the tsadde is thus not
to be revealed until that defect is corrected. 9
Elsewhere, Liebes writes of the "two aspects" of the pillar of called Tzaddik
- one of a "terrestrial person" and the other of a "cosmic or divine
force." He mentions that the talmudic statement regarding the "Righteous being
the foundation of the world," is not clear as to whether it is referring to a cosmic
pillar or righteous human being. Liebes points out that in the Zohar, Rabbi Simeon bar
Yohai is considered to be this pillar upon whose righteousness the world was maintained
during his generation.10
Liebes cites the following passage from the Bahir (120) that speaks of "the
righteous, the everlasting foundation," as being both a divine pillar and a
terrestrial person: 11
There is one pillar from the earth to the firmament and Righteousness is its name,
after the righteous ones, and when there are righteous persons in the world it gains
strength, and when there are not it is weakened, and it bears the burden of all the world,
as it is written, "Righteousness is the foundation of the world," and if it is
weak the world cannot exist. Therefore even if there is only one righteous man in the
world, he upholds the world.
What is perhaps most interesting is that Liebes presents the idea, found in the
kabbalistic school of Rabbi Todros, who taught that Messiah is "an incarnation of
the sefirah of Yesod," thus bringing a definite Divine aspect to the Messiah:
The Messiah's symbolic rung, according to this kabbalistic circle, was the Sefira
of Yesod. Especially relevant in this context is a statement by Todros Abulafia:
"None of the commentators I have seen say what is the name of the Messiah [who is
mentioned in the Talmud among the things that were created before the creation of the
world], but I tell you by the true way [i.e, Kabbala] that his name is Righteous (Zaddik),
for it is written: "He is righteous and redeemed" (Zech. 9:9); "Righteous,
foundation of the world"; and "The righteous shall live by his faith (Hab. 2:4).
Rabbi Todros is not claiming that the Messiah's name had not been stated explicitly before
him, for several names -- Menahem [comforter], for example -- are mentioned in
the Midrash, and several others were added in Rabbi Todros' Kabbalistic circle. We even
find the name Righteous in the Midrash as a name of the Messiah. What had not been stated
explicitly before Rabbi Todros was able to do so on the basis of Kabbala is the name of
the Messiah who was created before he world. The implications here -- and it is not merely
on a symbolic level, for he is speaking, as we shall see, of total identity -- is that the
Messiah is an incarnation of the sefira of Yesod. 12
OUR VIEW OF GOD THROUGH
TIME AND THE HEAVENS
Author Aryeh Kaplan, in his book, Ramban, Philosopher and Kabbalist, expands
on the same ideas presented by Yehuda Liebes, by showing how God's work, through the
Sephirot, did not end at the time of creation, but continues "within time" in
history as we experience it:
The early kabbalists established a principle, in that the activity of the sefiroth
of the Divine Atziluth, neither ended with their emanation at the time of Creation nor
with the later developmental phases. ... Another rule states that each sefirah
represents a certain attribute in the array of forces of the hidden divinity of Ein Sof,
corresponding to His revelation in the world of Atziluth. Moreover, each sefirah includes
all the others, arranged around her, with her being at the center as a kind of auxiliary
Rabbi Pinchas Winston also supports the idea of the relationship between history and
... the Ten Sefiros that act as spiritual filters for G-d's light to make reality
and ultimately, our lives possible, also contain the "data" for distinct periods
of time in history. Thus, the sefirah of Chesed governed the first one thousand years of
history, Gevurah the second, and so forth until the sixth millennium, which is rooted in
the sefirah of Yesod. 14
Our "spiritual distance" (in the "lowest heaven," near Malkut and
away from Keter/Eyn Sof), causes us to see God, those things associated with Him and His
plan, in a very "fractured" way. There is one God, yet we see various emanations
of Him via the Sephirot. We also view His Feasts (Passover, Shavuot, Rosh haShana, Yom
Kippur, Succot) as being very distinct, yet (as we shall discuss in detail further on),
they are part of one plan and are unified in the heavenly realm.
Rabbi Moshe Miller, in his commentary on the Zohar, explains how our view of God is
affected by which of the "four worlds" we are viewing Him in:
"... the higher the world or plane of reality, the greater the
unity and infinity of God that is revealed or manifest there. Nevertheless, since all
worlds are the result of a constriction and lessening of the Infinite Light (the Eyn Sof),
they are all, in one sense or another, limited and defined. That is to say, the revelation
of God is less or more limited, depending on which world is referred to. Therefore the
word for "world" in Hebrew, "olam," is etymologically related to the
word "he'elem," meaning hiddeness, or concealment -- referring to the
concealment of God's Infinite Light, so that in the higher worlds the Infinite Light is
more revealed, and in the lower worlds the Infinite Light is less revealed. 15
The Book of Enoch 16 is an interesting resource that gives insight
into the various "views" of God from our point of view. Enoch
mentions four entities, Son of Man, Elect One, Lord of Spirits
and Ancient of Days, within his vision of the heavenlies.
In the Book of Enoch, the four titles are quite
interchangeable. This would reflect the more unified view of God that he experienced when
he received his vision.
- Of the Son of Man it says that He accompanied the Ancient of Days, and
to Him righteousness belongs. The Son of Man will overthrow kings and the
powerful and break in pieces the teeth of sinners. He will overthrow those who do not
exalt Him, thereby establishing Himself to be God. He does these things to those who do
not exalt the name of the Lord of Spirits, thus equating Himself with that entity
The name of this Son of Man was invoked before the sun, stars and signs of
heaven were formed. He is the hope of those who are troubled. All who dwell on the earth
will fall down and worship him, and bless and glorify him. The Elect and "Concealed
One" existed in his presence before the world was created. He reveals to the
saints and the righteous the wisdom of the Lord of Spirits. In his name will the
righteous be preserved, and they will dwell with him forever. (Enoch 48:3-7; 61:12,17).
This Son of Man existed "in secret" since the beginning. He is also
called "son of woman." The elect will stand before him one day (Enoch
61:9-11). People will pray to him and petition him for mercy (Enoch 61:13). He is equated
with the Lord of Spirits (Enoch 61:15-18). He or his name live with the Lord
of Spirits (Enoch 69:1) He is equated with the Messiah (Enoch 48:11).
- Of the Elect One it says that He will sit upon the Throne of Glory. Either the
Elect One, or the one speaking this prophecy to Enoch, will dwell in the midst of
them, and change, bless and illuminate the face of heaven forever. He will also change the
face of the earth, bless it, and cause those whom He has elected to dwell upon it.
(Enoch 45:3-5; 50:3, 54:5). Wisdom comes out of his mouth. The Lord of Spirits has
gifted and glorified him (Enoch 50:3). He will be exalted at the end of days (Enoch 50:5).
He is equated with the Messiah (Enoch 51:2-5). He will appear in the presence of
the Lord of Spirits at the end of days (Enoch 51:10). He is also equated with the
Lord of Spirits (Enoch 60:7-16)
- Of the Lord of Spirits it says that those who believe in His name will be
declared righteous and be saved (Enoch 43:2; 49:3). Sinners who deny His Name will face
his punishment (Enoch 45:2; 53:7) Those who do not repent before him will perish (Enoch
49:3). The prayers of the righteous (at the end of days - i.e., Revelation 8:4), are said
to ascend to Him (Enoch 47:1) He sits upon the throne of glory. Before him the saints will
be judged in righteousness (Enoch 61:2-5). He will issue new garments to the righteous
- Of the Ancient of Days it says his head was like white wool and his robe
indescribable (Enoch 46:1; 70:12). He is the one who flooded the earth, promised to not do
this again and gave the rainbow (Enoch 54:1-3). He calls himself the Lord of spirits
Enoch also establishes three of these entities as separate from each other in one
Enoch 48:2 - In that hour was this Son of man invoked before the
Lord of spirits, and his name in the presence of the Ancient of days.
Author Daniel C. Matt makes a statement that would reflect well upon
what is seen in Enoch:
At the deepest levels of divinity, all opposites and distinctions
vanish, overwhelmed by oneness. 17
THE PLAN THOUGH TIME
The Zohar connects the Sephirot of Chokhmah, Tipheret and Yesod as bringing God's
blessings (via the mystical "River of Eden"), to the
world (i.e., Malkut). These blessings descend throughout history and culminate in the
eternal Shabbat when they are no longer "intermittent."
The following passage transcends time and ties together; the Sephirot, God's blessings
through history and the future blessings of the Olam Haba (World to Come). Note also the
close relationship between Tipheret and Yesod (as mentioned earlier) within this context.
Both are "the Lord," but they are viewed in different roles. This is discussed
further on in this section:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 135b - 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.
We know that the blessings that stem from the "waters of Eden" are for
Zechariah 13:1 - In that day there shall be a fountain opened to
the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
This water is associated with God's "grace." One of many examples of this is
from the Zohar:
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2,Page 64b - R. Abba further said:
We know that water everywhere symbolizes God's kindness,
God's grace in turn, is related to salvation, which comes by "faith":
Ephesians 2:8 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Habakkuk 2:4 - Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright
in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
This "faith" connects back to the River of Eden:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 141a -
"And thou shalt be like a watered garden" (Is. LVIII, 11), that is, like the
celestial garden whose supernal waters never fail, but flow on for ever and ever;
"and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not" (Ibid.), alluding to the
river that issues from Eden and flows on for all eternity. Observe that the "well of
living waters" is a symbol within a symbol for guiding faith. There is the well which
is the very source of the waters [Yesod], and there is the well which is fed by
that source of water [Malkut]. There are thus two grades, which are, however,
really one with two aspects, male and female, in fitting union. The well and the issue of
waters are one, designated by the name of "well", it being at once the supernal
never-ceasing fountain and the well that is filled by it. And whoever gazes at
that well gazes at the true object of faith. This is the symbol which the
patriarchs transmitted in digging the well, in such a way as to indicate that the source
and the well are indissoluble.
In the above passage, note that the "well" is associated with Yesod (the
Divine Tzaddik), and is called, "the true object of faith."
Paul states that this well (also called the rock), was Messiah, his true "object
1 Corinthians 10:4 - And did all drink the same spiritual drink:
for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Messiah.
As mentioned, another place we find time transcended involves the Feasts of the Lord.
From our perspective (within space and time) we view these as a series of very different
events and practices, scattered throughout the year. This is not the case in the heavenly
As author David Ariel states, the Feasts have a unified purpose:
Every ritual aspect of the Jewish liturgical year is related to the unification of
Tiferet and Malkhut and to the restoration of divine harmony. 19
The Zohar states that all the feasts, though separate and distinct within time, are
united with one purpose in the heavenly realm, associating them with the Sabbath and the Shema,
which speaks of the (coming) unification of the Name of God (as discussed earlier in out
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 135b - The
six [Feast] Days are but a preparation for her [the great Sabbath]. 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.
Judaism recognizes a seven thousand year timetable of history. This is divided into
2,000 years of "chaos," (Adam to Abraham), followed by 2,000 of strict Torah,
then 2,000 of the "days of Messiah," leading to His appearance and the final
1,000 year Shabbat.
The mysterious part of this equation concerns the "marker" that appears after
the 4,000th year, (when Yeshua happened to be on the scene). If the Messiah did not appear
at that time, then what happened to launch this "era of Messiah" which is in
preparation for Him? The answer is the Divine Tzaddik, who is also the Messiah, though not
revealed to us in His full capacity "at this time."
This idea of Messiah existing in one role, only to be completely revealed as the
Messiah at a later time is not foreign to Hebraic thinking:
Nahmanides clearly distinguishes between the one who was born and in the future
will be the Messiah, and the Messiah's actual revelation due to the fulfillment of his
mission, which would make him the actual Messiah. This idea is also expressed by (Rabbi
Abraham) Abulafia when he says: "And he said that the Messiah will arrive immediately
for he is already born." We may conclude that Abulafia also conceived of two stages
in the career of the Messiah: his birth, when he apparently has been destined to be a
Messiah, and his arrival. His birth makes him the Messiah "in potentia" and his
arrival makes him the actual Messiah. 20
This dual role of the Messiah, first coming as the suffering/atoning Tzaddik, and then
later the victorious Messiah, is how Yeshua explained Himself:
Mark 9:12 - Then He answered and told them, "Indeed, Elijah
is coming first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man,
that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt?
Luke 17:24-25 - For as the lightning that flashes
out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man
will be in His day. But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by
Luke 24:44-47 - Then He said to them, "These are
the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be
fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms
concerning Me." And He opened their understanding, that they might
comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was
necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and
that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations,
beginning at Jerusalem.
(Interestingly, the Sephirah of "Binah" is alluded to in multiple places in
the above text, i.e., "understanding," "the third day,"
We conclude with the following insightful commentary on the subject of
"time," from the Chabad-Lubavitch:
We are accustomed to regarding time as a string of segments second
follows second, hour follows hour, Monday follows Sunday. Special days--Shabbat, Rosh
Hashanah, Passover--each have their place in the sequence of days and months portrayed by
our calendar, preceded and followed by the "ordinary" days that separate them.
This, however, is a most perfunctory perception of time, just as a description of the
human body in purely physical terms--hair, skin, bone, blood, flesh, sinew and brain
tissue classified solely by their spatial juxtaposition to each other--is a most
superficial vision of man. Time is a complex organism whose various organs and faculties
interact with each other, each fulfilling its individual function and imparting its effect
upon the whole. G-d created the whole of time--every age, millennium, century, year and
second of it--as a single, multifaceted body. It is only that we, finite and temporal
creatures that we are, encounter its "limbs," "organs" and
"cells" one at a time, regarding the past as passed because we have passed
through it, and the future as yet to be because we have yet to experience it. Just as
time, as a whole, consitutes a integral organism, so it is with the various
time-bodies--the day, the week, the month, the year, etc.--designed by the Creator of time
as distinct components of the universal time-body. Each of these has its own
"head," a neurological center which generates, processes and controls the
stimuli and experiences of its "body." So if we learn to be sensitive to the
structure of time, we can transcend the "sequential" timeline of our lives. If,
upon entering the "head" of a particular time-body, we imbue it with a certain
quality and stimulate its potential in a certain way, we can profoundly affect the days
and experiences of that entire time-body, whether they lie in our "future" or
our "past." 21
1. Parsha-Insights - Pesach, Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, (Torah.org), 2001.
2. Studies in the Zohar, Yehuda Liebes, SUNY Press, Albany, 1993, p.
164, citing Zohar II 9a-b, II 258a.
3. ibid, pp. 1-2.
4. ibid, p. 10.
5. ibid, p. 8.
6. ibid, p. 51.
7. ibid, p. 27.
8. ibid, p. 28.
9. ibid, p. 174.
10. ibid. p. 13. The similarities between Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai in the Zohar,
and Yeshua of the "New Testament" are many. These include his teaching the
aspect of mercy regarding the Torah, commanding his disciples to "love one
another," being the "only righteous man of his time," and the departure of
his soul bringing tikkun to the upper worlds.
11. ibid, p. 14.
12. ibid, pp. 18-19.
13. Ramban, Philosopher and Kabbalist, Chayim J. Henoch, Jason Aronson
Inc, Jerusalem, 1998, p. 359.
14. Perceptions on the Parsha: Parshas Shoftim, Judging by the Situation, Rabbi
Pinchas Winston, http://www.torah.org/learning/perceptions/5761/shoftim.html.
15. Zohar: Selections translated and annotated by Moshe
Miller, Moshe L. Miller, Fiftieth Gate Publications and Seminars, Morristown, NJ,
16. The Book of Enoch The Prophet, translated by Richard
Laurence, Wizards Bookshelf, San Diego, 1995.
17. The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, Daniel
C. Matt, HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1996, p.167.
18. See Waters of Eden, The Mystery of the Mikvah,
Aryeh Kaplan, NCSY/Orthodox Union, 1976, for a detailed study of this subject.
19. The Mystic Quest, An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism, David S.
Ariel, Jason Aronson publishers, London, 1988, p. 162.
20. Messianic Mystics, Moshe Idel, Yale Univesity Press, London, 1998,
p. 61. Interestingly, Nahmanides used this argument in his debate against Christian claims
concerning "Jesus." For an insightful look at this debate, we recommend the
video, "The Disputation," as described on the YashanNet Reading List.
21. From www.jewishnewyear.com/holidays/tishrei/4763,
The Neurology Of Time, Chabad-Lubavitch.