WRIST (World Research Institute for Science and Technology)
Essays on Kabbalah
With Significant Dreams, Experiences and Revelations
Kabbalah Through My Dreams. 2
Such Things Happen. 3
An Awesome Dream.. 5
Giving and Receiving. 7
Meditation Before and After Prayer 8
Will the Real Tree of Life Please Stand Up?. 10
The Book Bahir, The Sexual Fall and the Sabbath. 12
Tikkun Olam and the Almightiness of God. 13
The Holy Marriage of Jesus. 15
Kabbalah Needs to Go Through a Modern Day De-baloneyfication. 18
A Good Story / A Good Result. 20
Kabbalah Through My Dreams
Kabbalah is the oral tradition of Judaism, yet it is being written down these days and taught widely. I was introduced to the subject around 1994 through Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s translation of “The Sefer Yetzirah” [Book of Creation] and have discovered that I am a natural. I have rabbis from the great beyond teaching me Hebrew, demonstrating the power of the spoken word, and giving me dreams at night with themes from kabbalah.
Kabbalah advances belief in God, spirit world, angels, aliens, astrology, prayer, meditation, focusing one’s intention, spiritual growth, spiritual experiences, miracles, and world peace, known as Tikkun Olam.
Kabbalah, as you will discover, is one of those theories of everything that explores the inner dimensions of consciousness and conscience, and the dynamics of the God-centered mind in union with the God-centered body and universe.
Since much of God’s communications with people in the Bible is through dreams, significant dreams that we remember for more than three years with clear inspiring themes should be taken very seriously. I would like to share such a dream that I had in high school, which, after reading Kaplan’s book, I have come to see is a dream about the Tree of Life in the form of Jacob’s Ladder. (In Genesis 28, Jacob dreamed about a ladder connecting heaven and earth with angels using it to ascend and descend.):
The dream began with ten golden bars vertically arranged like the rungs of a ladder. They represented levels of purpose, from the smallest individual purpose to the largest public purpose. I was shown that if I focused on the one at the bottom, it would take 100% of my effort to do my homework. However, if I focused on the next level, it would only take 50% of my effort, and so forth up the ladder. Then I was shown a golden point about the size of a quarter, which moved down clockwise and back up, forming a golden ring about six inches in diameter. The dreamed ended that way.
In the “The Sefer Yetzirah,” Kaplan’s commentary strikes a correspondence between Jacob’s Ladder and the Tree of Life. Jacob’s Ladder is one of the representations of the ten holy emanations of the Tree of Life. In the process of creation, God’s creative powers emerged as ten holy emanations that collectively form “the womb of God.” The interactions between them when arranged in a three-column Tree of Life format represent the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the beginning and the end of which are the Aleph and the Tav, or the Alpha and Omega in Greek.
The beginning and end of a circle are the same point. Kaplan’s commentary makes this very point with respect to the first and tenth holy emanations, which are the beginning and end of the Tree of Life. God gives out to His creation which is able to receive from Him, growing to perfection and returning a good result. Recall that in the Bible, Isaiah quotes God as saying that His Word will not return to Him void:
Isa 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
Isa 55:11 so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Isa 55:12 “For you shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
I and Kabbalah will leave you now with a mystery. The first holy emanation is known in Hebrew as Keter [crown] and represents the power to make unity out of duality. Keter is known also as Righteousness and as Nothingness. The ten emanations are usually diagrammed in three columns, with three positioned on each of the outer columns and four in the central column. Keter is the top of the central, or Will, column. The fourth and last position in the Will column is the tenth holy emanation, Malchut [kingdom], which is also known as the bride and the Sabbath. The digits of 10 add across as 1 + 0 = 1. Therefore, 10 has the same meaning as 1 in the numerology of kabbalah known as gematria.
So this sheds light on what Jesus meant when he said, “Seek first God’s kingdom [Malchut] and God’s righteousness [Keter] and then you will have all the smaller things that you need in daily life as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
Such Things Happen
Some unusual experiences simply cannot be believed unless they would happen to you. One such experience was what I call my “A-DaM” experience. It happened on a Monday or Tuesday at about 9 or 10 in the evening. It was dark and beginning to rain. I had packed up my signs, buckets and miscellaneous stuff into the back seat of my yellow ’72 Volkswagen Super Beetle and headed on down the highway. It was late summer 1985 in the “Show Me” State of Missouri.
The rain became extremely heavy, a textbook case if ever there was one of raining cats and dogs. I began to notice what I perceived as a pressure building at the back of my neck at the base of my skull. It occurred to me that this was developing into a potentially dangerous situation with the heavy rain, poor visibility and strange physical feeling. I decided to stop at the Kentucky Fried Chicken coming up along the strip of highway, eat dinner, drink a cup of coffee and wait for the rain to let up. By then maybe I would be feeling better as well.
I pulled over into the gravel parking lot, opened the door and stood up to exit the vehicle. As I did so, a spring protruding through the edge of the driver’s seat ripped the back right leg of my pants, a good three inch tear. “Angry I was”, as Yoda (from Star Wars) would say. This was the third pair of pants that had met the same fate. I suddenly boiled with anger at myself for not having put my navy blue safari jacket over the seat to prevent this from happening. The jacket, made from a heavy weave canvas-like material was at that moment on the floor of the small space behind the back seat, underneath my stuff. It was unreachable, unless I were to unpack all the contents of the back seat and get soaking wet in the process. I was so angry that I was tempted to get it anyway, but the combination of the rain and the strange feeling at the back of my neck caused me to decide against it.
Frustrated, I slammed the driver’s side door with my left hand, pounded the empty air with my right clenched fist, stomped the ground with my right foot, and punctuated the sound of the rain with a loud “Damn”. Simultaneously I was thinking, “I wish I had put that jacket over the front seat!” Letting go of this situation, I turned decidedly and strode into the Chicken Palace.
After dinner and a cup of coffee, the rain indeed had almost stopped. I returned to my car and, upon opening the door, what should I find but my safari jacket neatly covering the front seat as though I had put it there myself. Nothing in the back was out of place. It was still full of stuff and the back compartment was still unreachable. How had this happened!? Was it God, or an angel who had done it?
In Aryeh Kaplan’s commentary on the Sefer Yetzirah, which all aspiring Kabbalists should get a copy of, he explains that meditation on the top of the Will column in the Tree of Life can be approached by thinking about the back of the head. It is the position of Keter (crown) and represents Nothingness. As the first it is also represented by the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet which is the Aleph. This is one of the Three Mother Letters and represents Air, which mediates between the Fire and Water columns and rows in The Tree of Life. It is silent in meditation and represents the neutral origin. This is the Keter Sephira (holy emanation.). This was the pressure at the back of my head.
Two letter combinations in Kabbalah represent gates. Spoken one way opens the gate. Spoken the other way closes the gate. The combination of Daleth and Mem (D+M) was the sound of “Damn” that I spoke. This issued from my mouth, which is in the head. The head represents Father God. The hands represent Mankind. The feet represent Mother Nature. The three stages of The Tree of Life were all activated in this experience. God worked through me as Lord of Creation and moved my jacket from the back seat to the front seat. I am convinced of it.
I still have that old safari jacket, made in Thailand – land of the Buddhists. It has no special vibration or aura that I can sense. It came into my possession when I picked it out of a pile of unclaimed lost and found in the basement of a house in Piscataway, NJ in 1976, the year of America’s Bicentennial. There is a special USA quarter dollar that was minted that year with the revolutionary soldiers playing the fife and drum. The marching band played some good drums at the Memorial Day parade last Monday.
An Awesome Dream
I was standing in a small rowboat in the middle of a large swamp. The sky was covered with a blanket of gray clouds. As I looked up, high above, a small circle of blue sky appeared. I could see something descending from the center of the circle. As it drew closer I could see that it was a white grape, followed by others, slowly descending to and fro, in single file in the pattern of a sine wave.
An awesome process taking place in the heavens was steadily expanding the borders of cloudlessness until the sky was totally blue and cloud-free. At the same time the heat of the sun that had begun shining from behind me, ripened the last white grape, transforming it into a wrinkled black raisin, bringing this Merkava category dream from my high school years to its denouement.
The clouds, the circle, the awesome blue sky, the ten or twelve single white grapes, the black raisin – what could these all mean?
Important? Yes. We need to have our own neat mystical, prophetic experiences! We need to have our own foundational experiences that we can base our world view on! Well, let me tell you from personal experience that prophetic and mystical states are neat and have nothing to do with drugs, and everything to do with learning how to meditate and pray.
One has to of course understand that there are various reasons why we find ourselves in this state of ignorance – of not already knowing, of our culture not having discovered or transmitted the details of walking the more fundamental path of life in a simple way. Yes there are barriers and difficulties. One has to prepare, knowing that others have succeeded, and to read about their experiences. But to what degree have others succeeded?
Others have also searched and failed in their quest. They might have come face to face with what they were looking for, but failed to recognize it, or even were not ready to take up the task at hand of the next higher stage of responsibility. One has to really want to know and to take responsibility for what they find. It really has to develop there.
The prophetic state in Kabbalah is associated with a “Divine Chariot” [merkava] that carried Elijah into heaven and that opens Ezekial’s book of prophecy. Above the chariot in Ezekial’s vision is the sapphire [blue] throne of glory. On the throne surrounded by rainbow radiance is the figure like that of a man, and the voice of God begins to speak[Ezek. 1:28].
Ezek. 1:28 Like the appearance of the rainbow that is in the cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the radiance round about. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
In the New Testament Book of Revelation we also find the rainbow surrounding the throne:
Rev 4:2 At once I was in the Spirit, and lo, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne!
Rev 4:3 And he who sat there appeared like jasper and carnelian, and round the throne was a rainbow that looked like an emerald.
In Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s discussion of section 5 of the Sefer Yetzirah [Book of Creation], he explains simply that negating our egos and making ourselves as though we do not exist is important in attaining significant mystical experiences. Considering eternal and infinite things that appear vast and profound can help us in negating our egos. In negating our individual purpose, we create a vacuum force that attracts God, Master of the Purpose of the Whole, and in our minds and hearts we create a space, or build a house in which God can dwell.
In Moses’ last words [Deut: 33: 26-27] we see God referred to as “The Rider of the Heavens”:
Deut 33:26 “There is none like the God of Jesh’urun [“upright”, a name referring to Israel] the Rider of the Heavens is your Helper, His pride is in the skies.
Deut 33:27 The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the Arms of the Universe. He drives out the enemy before you, and said, “Destroy!”
This Biblical quote appears also in Kaplan’s commentary and analysis of the twelve elemental letters of the Hebrew alphabet that are discussed in section 5 of the Sefer Yetzirah. These correspond to the boundaries or Arms of the Universe and to the boundaries of Thought. The twelve elementals are often represented as the edges of a cube and represent the twelve diagonal lines connecting the three stages of the Tree of Life. These also correspond to the twelve unique permutations of the Tetragrammaton, the four-letter Most Holy Name of God [YHVH]. Thought corresponds to the third position in the Tree of Life, which is Binah in Hebrew and Understanding in English. Binah is the Upper Shekinah [Holy Spirit] and is associated with the color blue, as in the infinite blue sky.
Thought also corresponds to the third level down the Tree of Life, which is associated with the Nefesh, the level of soul that is in the blood. This Nefesh is what needs to be reborn, re-created, or saved. It corresponds to the physical body which is in need of redemption due to the Fall of Man, for which purpose we await the Messiah.
The storm wind from the north in Ezekial’s vision and also clouds, as when God’s voice is heard by the three disciples after Jesus’ meeting with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration are also associated with mystical experiences.
A Jewish lady named Sarah Witt, recently deceased, told me her testimony of how she was standing in her kitchen. It became full of mist and disappeared. She found herself standing in a crowd of people who were watching the crucifixion of Jesus, and said, “He’s our brother! Why are we killing him?” after which the mist disappeared and she was again in her kitchen.
I’ll never forget my blue, cloudless sky dream. It’s a forever dream that always inspires me whenever I remember it. Why? Because of the sense of awe that it evokes, considering the infinite height in the center of the small circle of blue sky that expanded to drive away the clouds.
Giving and Receiving
In the teaching of the Kabbalah Learning Center of Rabbi Berg, whose free introductory lecture I had the chance to attend at their new center in Manhattan a few years ago, and whose house in Forrest Hills I used to live one block from, there is a concept presented known as the “Bread of Shame”. It arises when we find ourselves in a position of having received, but of having nothing to give in return. The concept of the “Bread of Shame” therefore serves as an introduction to the pathways of giving and receiving, which are essential to relationships that connect all things, and in particular the ten holy emanations of the Tree of Life, which represents the human being as the Temple of God – in which one can meet God as Father and Mother. This is a very helpful concept in that it arouses the innate sense of our responsibility to fulfill the purpose of our lives, which were not self-created, but without exception, came from God.
How do we move out of the position of eating the “Bread of Shame?” We do this by developing an offering that we hope will be acceptable to God. In this way we can fulfill the golden commandment expressed by Moses in Deuteronomy Chapter 6:
Deut 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD;
Deut 6:5 and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Deut 6:6 And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart;
Deut 6:7 and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Deut 6:8 And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
Deut 6:9 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
And reiterated by Jesus in Matthew Chapter 22:
Matt 22:36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Matt 22:37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
Matt 22:38 This is the great and first commandment.
Matt 22:39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Matt 22:40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
Thus we have the process of returning to God being mediated by offerings such as those of Cain and Abel, Noah’s Ark and the sacrificial lamb, but also the obedience, faith, love and creativity expressed as living offerings in the course of our lives in which we can follow the dictates of our conscience, which has the purpose of directing us toward goodness, and God as the central point of goodness.
The mechanics of giving and receiving are inherent in physical processes as well. My favorite example to illustrate this is the action of throwing a ball up and catching it, which begins with the ball in one’s hand. [In Hebrew the hand is “yad” which is numerically equivalent to the “yod” that is the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The 10 represents the Tree of Life and the Ten Commandments and Return to God.] The action of throwing the ball up in the air – or up into heaven, is the action of giving. Catching the ball upon its return is the action of receiving. Giving and receiving is by nature a quantum process in that no more impulse power can be given to the ball until it completes the cycle and returns to the hand.
Applied to verbal communication this principle means that if I say hello to someone and they don’t respond, then that ball has not returned to my hand and I cannot invest anymore in that direction. If my greeting is responded to then the hand which did the giving must now be ready to receive when the ball returns, or as before it will drop on the ground.
Applied to our relationship with God, we know that He receives well prepared offerings – God wants to catch the balls thrown to Him by His children. We just have to throw them right.
Meditation Before and After Prayer
Besides the meditative and practical aspects of Kabbalah, there is also theoretical Kabbalah in which a theory of analysis is put forth. About ten years ago an interesting Kabbalistic experience came to me at the end of my forty minute meditation. I am going to take a stab at deciphering the elements of this experience using Tree Of Life Theory from Kabbalah.
But first I will mention my mode and method of meditation. One first has to come into a space internally in which one prepares to approach the Holy One, for “Hear O Israel, the Lord Your God is One”. To do that I put on the back burner for the moment all democratic concerns about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and prepare to gain a glimpse of what God is concerned about – I want to feel God’s heart, with the understanding that God’s great Will for the world has an individual aspect that applies to me as well – e pluribus unum.
If understanding is in short supply, one does not know where to begin to pray. One therefore prepares through meditation, gradually building up their foundation of sincerity about the particular issue, prays about it, and then meditates about what one has received through their prayer. There I was meditating and praying and meditating some more about how to connect Heaven and Earth. At the very end as I watched the timer’s second hand tick off the last few seconds, a face flashed in front of me, there was an electric blue lightning flash, and I heard the words, “Blue, Diamond, Ceramic, Thought, Clay,” a revelation of some sort, which I wrote down on the back of an envelope. (This really happened!)
The brief analysis in light of The Tree of Life paradigm of Kabbalah is as follows:
1) Mankind in the image of God was created to mediate between Heaven and Earth.
2) The Tree of Life is a symbol of a perfect human being and represents the highest messianic ideals of Judaism, Christianity and in fact of all major religions.
3) We have in the five words of the phrase, “Blue, Diamond, Ceramic, Thought, Clay” (accompanied by a blue flash of lightning), another rendition of The Tree of Life that closely correlates with symbols, letters/numbers from Hebrew Kabbalistic theory.
How so and why is it important? Notice that by arranging the words in a vertical column, we see that the three middle words each consist of seven letters that begin and end with double letters – letters so named because of their hard and soft sounds (DiamonD – CeramiC – ThoughT). These three middle words consist of a total of seven syllables. In Hebrew there are seven double letters that are assigned to the seven vertical lines in The Tree of Life. The third one down the middle column of the Tree in fact is the “Tav”, whose soft and hard sounds exactly correlate with the “th” and the “ht”, respectively in the English word, “thought”, the third word of the middle three. When there is a numerical or letter correspondence in Kabbalah, it is taken as a similarity or underlying unity of purpose of the things so correlated. For example, the mouth is the seventh hole in the head and therefore corresponds to the Sabbath in Judeo/Christianity. In fact some Kabbalists list it as “the main meaning of Sabbath in Kabbalah”, thus the emphasis on the letters as instruments of God in creating the world.
The two words at the beginning and end represent Heaven (Blue) and Earth (Clay). The first word, “Blue”, is a symbol of the Mother aspect of God in both Kabbalah (the Shekinah) and Hinduism (the Shakti).The Hebrew letter “Bet” is like the English letter “B” and is the first letter of the Torah. The Hebrew letter “Lamed” is like the English “L” and is the last letter of the Torah. The letters “Bet” and “Lamed” are the consonants of the Hebrew word for “heart” and have the numerical value of “2” and “30” respectively, which add to 32 and represent the 22 paths of The Tree of Life added to the 10 Holy Emanations (the Sefirot in Hebrew), which they interconnect. In both Hebrew and English these two letters are the second and twelfth letters of the respective alphabets. When we see these associations, we understand that the beginning word, “Blue”, can represent the fact that God created the world and human beings with “heart”, and that it is the central aspect of the Will of God since it is at the top of the Will column.
The blue lightning flash consisted of three lines in the form of the Hebrew letter “Lamed” – a line from the top to the left side, then a line through the middle from left to right, and then a line from the right side to the bottom middle. These in fact connect the four points of a “diamond” shape in a deck of playing cards. So the formless energy of creation, the Mother aspect of God, takes on the quality of the form of a diamond as it begins to manifest from the infinite to the finite. It begins to step down the ladder of The Tree of Life. The diamond is the shape aspect of the blue lightning flash.
The fact of there being five words (Blue, Diamond, Ceramic, Thought, Clay) represents the letter “Heh” in Hebrew, which appears twice in the four letter Most Holy Name of God, known as The Tetragrammaton. These “Heh’s” represent the feminine aspects of mother and daughter. The five words also represent the five fingers, “Blue” being the thumb and “Clay” being the weaker little finger.
If I would continue drawing parallels in the manner of the Kabbalists we’d be here all day and night. Therefore in conclusion, the combined audio/visual qualities of the “blue diamond ceramic thought clay” lightning flash, constitute an experience of “The Living Word” that is constantly developing and responding to different times and circumstances, and manifesting universal truth, not only in Hebrew, but other languages as well.
Will the Real Tree of Life Please Stand Up?
There are various versions of the Tree of Life in Kabbalah, two of which are presented as diagrams in Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s (1934-1983) translation of The Sefer Yetzirah [The Book of Creation]. One is that popularized by Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572) that is in accordance with the Zohar and taught today in Lurianic Kabbalah. The other is a version of the Natural Array Tree of Life of Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna (1720-1797). There are others as well. Which one is correct and why does it matter? It matters because unless a clear teaching is presented without conflicting stories, then it leads to confusion and a weakening of what could otherwise be presented as a powerful clear truth.
It also matters because there is the meditative Kabbalah with the aim of spiritual growth, as well as the practical Kabbalah with the aim of calling up the main menu of the universe to access and operate special application programs – abracadabra stuff, Harry Potter stuff, and science of the magi stuff. Along these lines we are told by the rabbis that the holy scriptures are not in order, because if they were, anybody would be able to understand how to do miracles. When something is jumbled on purpose, then the tracks must be covered and transitions smoothed out so that the undiscerning won’t notice what’s up. Everything in there happened, but not in the order presented. Christian Bible scholars noticed that something was up and have identified different narratives in the Old Testament as being from different sources, not generally realizing that they were jumbled on purpose.
One of those jumbled places is in the First Book of Samuel in which it can be discerned that there are two versions of the first seven days of the reign of King Saul, the first King of Israel. There is the happy successful version in chapter 11 in which Samuel tells Saul at the ceremony on Mt. Gilgal that Saul did a great job, and then there is the miserable failure version that begins in chapter 13 in which Samuel tells Saul on Mt. Gilgal that he blew it by not waiting for Samuel to help him make his offering. I am going to assume that the version in Chapter 13 is what really happened.
By unjumbling we see a major parallel emerge between the two offerings of Abraham and the two offerings of Saul, the first offering of each being flawed and the second offering in which each is about to kill his son of promise, namely Isaac the son of Abraham and Jonathan the son of Saul. Abraham and Isaac followed through by offering the ram caught in the thicket, whereas Saul and Jonathan did not follow through by not killing the cattle of the Amalekites, not to mention the king of the Amalekites, which they were commanded to do by God speaking through Samuel, prophet and last judge of Israel. God responded to this development with Saul and Jonathan by having Samuel anoint David as the next king of Israel instead of Jonathan; God changed the lineage that the Messiah would be born in from that of Saul to that of David.
Next we notice regarding Abraham’s first offering of the five animals that all but the doves were cut in two. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan in his translation of The Sefer Yetzirah comments that the four halves of the two doves would have filled the four positions of the central column of the Tree of Life, which is the air or will column and is assigned the color white. Kaplan points out a little later that the famous Kabbalist Abraham Abulafia (1240 ~1291) correlated the three lines separating these four positions with three parts of the body that correspond to three types of circumcision: circumcision of the tongue, circumcision of the heart, and circumcision of the sexual organ. The three separating lines in turn correlate to the Three Mother Letters: the Shin – the letter representing Fire and Heaven, the Aleph – the letter representing Air, and the Mem – the letter representing Water and Earth.
In mentioning the uncut doves in this fashion it might be surmised that Kaplan is rather weakly suggesting that Abraham made a mistake by not cutting the doves, since this amounts to not establishing the lines of circumcision, especially the Brit Milah or circumcision of the flesh that becomes the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham. After this offering we further notice in the Biblical narrative (Gen. 15:11-15) that birds of prey came to eat the offering, and as the sun went down a deep sleep fell over Abraham in which he learned in a dream that his descendants would suffer in a land not theirs for four hundred years. Is God balancing his big blessing to Abraham by giving a big opportunity for suffering as well? Even circumcision of the flesh involves the shedding of blood and seemingly innocent suffering on the part of the infant.
Comparing similar events at important beginnings in the lives of Biblical central figures such as Abraham and King Saul, allows us to see that we must have strong faith, determination and clear understanding in order to accomplish God’s will at the beginning. Therefore we must take the beginnings very seriously as this will contribute to the development and appearance of a proper result in the end. Can this be part of the magic that was hidden by the rabbi’s jumbling of the scriptures?
Beyond the matter of the differing geometric arrays of the different versions of the Tree of Life is the matter of different number and letter schemes assigned to the points and lines of the array. The spoken combinations and permutations of these letters constitute various magic words of practical Kabbalah. Rather surprisingly Kaplan’s commentary in The Sefer Yetzirah reveals very much of this tradition, or rather, of the different versions of that tradition. Which one is the correct version, or are they all correct?
We can now put forth a possible explanation for the existence of different versions of the Tree of Life – they were jumbled on purpose such that only those who had a legitimate reason to know the deeper truth encoded therein would be able to have access to it. In the same way that new revelations in the various fields of science are accompanied by ever greater responsibility for creative control of nature, so too are clarifications of formerly secret and hidden religious truths. Rabbi Kaplan was originally a physicist before embarking on the religious path. It is especially clear in his book, “The Sefer Yetzirah”, that he was very interested in unifying science and religion, but that he was also well aware of the danger of irresponsible use of the information that might be revealed in the process.
The Book Bahir, The Sexual Fall and the Sabbath
The Bahir is recognized as the most important Kabbalistic text prior to the appearance of the Zohar. Gershom Scholem, the famous scholar of Kabbalah who was largely responsible for the subject of Kabbalah becoming established as an academic discipline, published a translation and commentary of the Bahir in 1923 as his doctoral dissertation. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan wrote the first English translation and commentary of The Bahir, which was published in 1979. The word “bahir” in Hebrew means “brilliant” or “bright”. The last two sections 199-200 of The Bahir explain that the Fall of Man took place in the following manner.
The angel Samael became jealous of Adam because God had given Adam authority to rule the fish of the sea and the flying things of heaven, which were not birds but angels. Motivated by jealousy Samael formulated a plan to cause Adam and Eve to be cast out from before God by sinning. He hung out with Eve and interfered with her spiritual growth by undermining her confidence in God’s commandment not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge – he confused her, and in her confused state he convinced her to have sexual intercourse with him.
The Bahir continues to explain that Eve saw the Angel of Death approaching and perceived that she would die and that God would make another woman for Adam. She became jealous of this other woman and of Adam’s unfallen state and determined to cause Adam to eat the forbidden fruit as well, such that they would share the same fate.
In Rabbi Kaplan’s commentary on section 158 of The Bahir he explains the following:
“He [Adam] did not attain his main aspect of soul, however, until the first Sabbath and therefore, he would have been permitted to eat of the Tree of Knowledge on the Sabbath. His main sin was the fact that he did not wait, but ate of it on the sixth day.”
We know that the Sabbath is understood to be a day of rest in commemoration of the fact that God rested from his work of creation on the seventh day. The fourth of The Ten Commandments tells us to “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.” In his comment above, Kaplan is recognizing the Sabbath as a stage at which a person can be considered spiritually and physically mature. In Kaplan’s view, therefore, we can see that there is the further work of reaching spiritual maturity that is left to the individual man and woman before they can have the privilege of resting or of eating of the Tree of Knowledge. The Bahir in fact speaks of masculine and feminine aspects of the Sabbath that commune together to embody the primordial unified Sabbath of God. These are embodied in the Tree of Life as the Yesod [Foundation of the World] and the Malkhut [Kingdom, Sabbath, Bride]. The Yesod position in the tree is the masculine Sabbath, and the Malkhut is the feminine Sabbath. In Kabbalah these represent the Most Holy Place, the masculine and feminine sexual organs, respectively. Their coming together is the Omega point at which God’s hope for His children is fulfilled and He can rest, because his children have grown up and married with His approval. His work is then done, as is the work of spiritual growth of the children.
In my last column I mentioned that there were various versions of The Tree of Life Diagram. The one that brings out true family values most convincingly is The Natural Array version of the Gaon of Vilna. The Gaon of Vilna version numbers the Yesod position as number nine, but Gershom Scholem points out that the older numbering of this position assigned by the Bahir is number seven. This also conveniently brings it into correspondence with the seventh of The Ten Commandments, “Do not commit adultery.” This is an extremely important distinction to make because it is Adam as head of the family who is primarily responsible for the commandment of God given in the Garden of Eden, since it was spoken to Adam before Eve was created.
Gen 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden;
Gen 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
Gen 2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
The Bahir increases our understanding that the original commandment given by God in the Garden of Eden to our first human ancestors meant that mankind should not use our Most Holy Places prematurely or illicitly, and that the fact that Adam and Eve did so, constitutes the Fall of Man according to Kabbalah.
In preparing this column along with the works of Scholem and Kaplan, I also consulted “The Sabbath in Classical Kabbalah”, a book written by Professor Elliot K. Ginsburg and published as part of the SUNY Series in Judaica. Readers will find my online diagrams helpful in visualizing the Natural Array Tree of Life. These can be seen at:
Tikkun Olam and the Almightiness of God
El Shaddai means Almighty God and is one of the Holy Names of God. In Kabbalah Tree of Life theory it is the name associated with the Foundation [Yesod] Sephira, which is the third from the top in the central column. This makes it the third stage of Keter [Crown], which is the top of the central column. The Ten Sephirot of The Tree of Life are also often diagrammed as ten concentric circles in which the inner circles emanate from the outer. Similarly we can view the lower positions in each of the three columns as emanating from those above them.
The central column is associated with the mystical element of Air and represents the aspect of Will, which belongs to the classical triad of Intellect, Will and Emotion. These in turn are associated with the colors red, white and blue, which might be the reason for their prevalence as colors in many national flags from Judeo-Christian countries. [Sephira in Hebrew is the singular, and Sephirot is the plural for what in English are commonly refered to as Holy Emanations.]
Yesod in Hebrew translates as “Foundation” or “Foundation of the World” and is the source of Living Waters. Living Waters in turn represents semen. In light of this, it might be shocking to many Christians to realize the connotation of Jesus’ words to the woman at the well [John 4:10] to whom he first openly declared himself to be the Messiah [John 4: 25-26].
John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
John 4:25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things.”
John 4:26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
In John 4:15-19 the woman asks Jesus to give her the water, claiming that she has no husband, which Jesus confronts her about, at which she recognizes him as a prophet.
John 4:15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
John 4:16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
John 4:17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’;
John 4:18 for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly.”
John 4:19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
This again is a clear indication that the Messianic mission is to be accomplished by a man and a woman together as a couple, since the Fall of Man involved Adam and Eve together, not just Adam alone, or Eve alone.
We might assume based on the association with Living Waters that Yesod would be considered a masculine Sephira. In one respect it is, but in another respect it is considered to be the daughter of the Sephira beneath it in the central column. It is also one of the five lower Sephirot, which are associated with the fingers of the left hand and with the Divine Feminine Aspect of God, known as the Shekinah. The Shekinah is the Hebrew equivalent of the Holy Spirit in Christianity from which it was derived. The Holy Spirit of Christianity is therefore properly from its Jewish roots (Jesus was Jewish) to be considered feminine. The Shekinah, also known as Malchut (Kingdom), is the Omega Point to the Keter (Crown) as the Alpha Point. These are the beginning and end of the central column of the Tree of Life, which represent the Primary Will of God and Divine Purpose of Creation.
As the beginning of God’s Will at the top of the central column, the Keter (Crown) position is also known in English as Goodness, which in English we can see is closely related if not identical to Righteousness. The Yesod position is also known as Righteousness and is associated with the fact that in the Bible Joseph resisted the temptation to allow himself to be seduced by Potiphar’s wife [Gen. 39:1-20]. We also see the fact that in Gershom Scholem’s account in his book, “On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead”[Chapter 2 p70], the Yesod position by itself is known as “The Tree of Life”, and the Malchut position by itself is known as “The Tree of Knowledge [in which good and evil are united]” or as mentioned in God’s commandment to Adam, The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Malchut’s further associations are Kingdom, Bride and Feminine Sabbath.
Therefore we must know that Jesus’ famous words to “Seek first God’s Kingdom and God’s Righteousness” [Matt. 6:33] can easily be construed as the essence of Jewish teaching in Kabbalah, which centers on correcting the fallen lineage of mankind, thereby making world peace and unification, and repairing the face of God. This is the Restoration/Repair of the World, which in Hebrew is known as Tikkun Olam and is the essence of the Messianic Mission and the central purpose for the existence of Israel as a nation and of both Judaism and Christianity as religions. The Messiah and His Bride, therefore, come as the True Parents of Mankind to restore the lineage from that of the Fallen Lineage to that of the True Lineage of True Parents and True Children of the True God. This might sound extremely fundamental and this is because it is.
The Holy Marriage of Jesus
“Woman what have you to do with me, for my time has not come yet,” replied Jesus.
This was at the marriage at Cana to which Jesus and his disciples were invited and the wine had run out. Mary, Jesus’ mother came to him for help, knowing that from childhood her son could do miracles. Why?
Jesus began to do miracles in his family as he was growing up, because he thought it would make his family members love him. It didn’t work, but instead distanced him from the common man who couldn’t do miracles. Jesus ended up unmarried at age thirty. An unmarried Jew with no children has no place in the hereafter and must return to the earth to fulfill his divinely appointed destiny.
Certainly therefore, Jesus wanted to get married and have children. This can be read into his reply to his mother – “my time [for marriage] has not come yet.” As well by being extremely disrespectful to his mother by calling her “woman” rather than “mother” in the presence of his disciples, there is the insinuation of Jesus’ grievance that his mother should have done more to help arrange his marriage. Amazingly, his mother seems to understand why her son is mad at her and simply instructs the servants to “do as he says” to assist in the miraculously produced wine process.
John 2:1 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there;
John 2:2 Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples.
John 2:3 When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”
John 2:4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what have you to do with me? My time has not yet come.”
John 2.5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
It seems normal from this perspective to believe that Jesus, who promised to come again, will be reborn as a man on the earth in order to grow up, get married and have children. The psychologist Carl Jung in his book “Answer to Job,” suggests that the prophecy in The Book of Revelation, chapter 12:1-5 is referring to this manner of return:
Rev 12:1 Then a great and mysterious sight appeared in the sky. There was a woman, whose dress was the sun and who had the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.
Rev 12:2 She was soon to give birth, and the pains and suffering of childbirth made her cry out.
Rev 12:3 Another mysterious sight appeared in the sky. There was a huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and a crown on each of his heads.
Rev 12:4 With his tail he dragged a third of the stars out of the sky and threw them down to the earth. He stood in front of the woman, in order to eat her child as soon as it was born.
Rev 12:5 Then she gave birth to a son, who will rule over all nations with an iron rod. But the child was snatched away and taken to God and his throne.
Jung, who studied Kabbalah with Dr. James Kirsch, pointed out the obvious [p78]:
“This strange duplication of the characteristic events in Christ’s life gave rise to the conjecture that a second Messiah is to be expected at the end of the world. What is meant here cannot be the return of Christ himself, for we are told that he will come ‘in the clouds of heaven, but not be born a second time, and certainly not from a sun-moon conjunction.”
Just how important is marriage in Judaism? To put it mildly, it’s everything. This might come as a shock to many, but the Most Holy Place in the Second Temple of the time of Jesus contained a golden statue of a male and female couple (cherubim) in a “sexual embrace.” In Hebrew scholar Raphael Patai’s book, “The Jewish Mind,” we read [p55]:
“Copies of these statues [cherubim] were placed in the Second Temple, although at a certain date their configuration was altered and they were given the form of a winged man and a winged woman in sexual embrace, to symbolize, according to Talmudic rabbis, the love of God and Israel. ”
The Most Holy Place (or the holy of holies) is called the Bridal-Chamber in the Nag Hammadi Gospel of Philip and figures prominently in the Christian rebirth (or enlightenment?) experience described therein:
“There had been three vestibules for places of giving offering in Jerusalem — one open to the west called the holy, another open to the south called the holy of the holiness, the third open to the east called the holy of the holinesses where the high priest alone was to enter. The Baptism is the holy vestibule, [the Atonement] is the holy of the holiness, the holy of the holinesses is the Bridal-Chamber. The Baptism has the resurrection [with] the Atonement entering into the BridalChamber. Yet the Bridal-Chamber is more exalted than those. Thou will find nothing that [compares with it].
Thus wrote Moses ben Nahman [1194-1270 AD] in his “Letter on Holiness”:
“The sexual relationship is in reality a thing of great exaltation when it is appropriate and harmonious. This great secret is the same secret of those cherubim who copulate with each other in the image of male and female…. Keep this secret and do not reveal it to anyone unworthy, for here is where you glimpse the secret of the loftiness of an appropriate sexual relationship…. When the sexual relation points to the Name, there is nothing more righteous and more holy than it. ”
Finally in an excerpt from “The Holy Kabbalah” by A.E. Waite (1857-1942) writing in the chapter, “The Mystery of Sex” p390, we read:
“There are forty-nine gates of compassion which connect with the mystery of the perfect man, composed of male and female and with the Mystery of Faith. These are the Gates of Understanding (Binah) wherein dwells the Transcendent Spouse, who is Shekinah [Holy Spirit in Christianity]; but there is a fiftieth gate which Moses did not open, according to the legend. This Gate is the Mystery of Espousals in the Divine World.”
…and on p391:
‘There is a kingdom to come after that which is symbolically the end of the world; it is a sacred region, and this also is said to constitute the Mystery of Faith; but we have heard otherwise that the advent of the Messiah means perfect conformity in the nuptial state, above as well as below. ”
In brief we can assume that Jesus, as a Jew, and as a prospective Jewish Messiah did not want to die an unmarried man, but that since he did, at his return he will be concerned with opening this fiftieth gate to the true God-centered marriage and consequent family tradition.
Kabbalah Needs to Go Through a Modern Day De-baloneyfication
Kabbalah needs to go through a modern day de-baloneyfication process in order to sift the wheat from the chaff. I am not a world renowned Kabbalah scholar, just an ordinary Joe with the usual amount of common sense, and this is even apparent to me. What exactly needs to be de-baloneyfied?
Let me set the stage for de-baloneyfication for my answer by mentioning a recent book, “Why the Jews Rejected Jesus”, by the Jewish columnist David Klinghoffer, published in March of 2005 in the wake of Mel Gibson’s move, “The Passion of Christ”. In the aforementioned book Klinghoffer basically agrees with the commonly held Christian premise of Gibson’s movie, that the crucifixion of Jesus was an indispensable act in the will of God. He sets forth his premise on p10 as, “Ours is a world the Jews made by rejecting Jesus, an act dictated by their conscience and, I hope to show, by their God.”
But if Klinghoffer and Gibson are in agreement, what then would be the point of writing his book? The big difference in viewpoint between Gibson and Klinghoffer of course is that Gibson toes the doctrinal line of Christianity in viewing Jesus as the Messiah, and Klinghoffer toes the doctrinal line of Judaism in not viewing Jesus as the Messiah. And since Gibson spent a bunch of money touting his viewpoint, Klinghoffer obviously felt that he as a Jewish columnist should take the opportunity to say thank you to Mel Gibson for giving credit to the Jews for doing God’s will by rejecting Jesus as a false Messiah. But seriously, the de-baloneyfication process needs to be applied to both viewpoints.
The essence of the debaloneyfication process lies in discerning what in each viewpoint is true, not just a little bit true, but absolutely true, and what in each viewpoint is false, not just a little bit false, but absolutely false.
Klinghoffer offers his conclusion, which is not substantially different than his premise, on the last page of his 220 page book:
“The Jewish rejection of Christ made possible the sublime culture of Europe in which Felix Mendelsohn flourished, as well as the sublime politics of America whose blessings we enjoy. This act initiated in 30 CE, which goes on and is reaffirmed daily by millions of Jews who live among fellow citizens who would be ecstatic to see them join the church, makes possible our lives as we know them. For that, thank the Jews.”
De-baloneyfication step 1: Both the Christian viewpoint of Gibson, and Klinghoffer’s attempt to debunk it by presenting the standard Jewish viewpoint, fail to admit the possibility of what would have happened if Jesus had been accepted as the Jewish Messiah in his lifetime.
One might surmise that then Jesus would have elevated the peoples of the world into a higher understanding of God, the universe and the purpose of life. He probably would’ve made world peace and gotten married and had children. If this had happened 2000 years ago, we probably would all be related to Jesus as a common ancestor and find ourselves speaking Hebrew by now.
In a sense the Jewish viewpoint (and Klinghoffer) is saying, “If Jesus were the Messiah, we think we wouldn’t have been able to kill him. We think what we did was correct. Anyway, there’s no world peace or visceral redemption that we can feel in our bones has taken place, and we Jews are mainly responsible for the glorious world that has developed since then, as we await the coming of the real Jewish Messiah.”
The Christian viewpoint should be replying, “Even though you killed him, he was the man sent by God to become the Jewish Messiah, but could only become so through Israel having faith in him, and by loving and serving him. But since you killed him, we’re going to have faith in him and love and serve him anyway, since this is the way of dutiful children. He partook of divinity in the sense that Kabbalah attributes this to the Tree of Life. The sad history of the world continued for 2000 years longer than it needed to, and Americans live in the midst of rampant social problems such as crime, drugs, pornography, family breakdown, a world with wars, world terrorism, starvation, disease, poverty….and 20,000 to 25,000 victims of suicide per year in America alone. When the Messiah comes again, let’s not reject him.”
A Good Story / A Good Result
God is working through us many times in ways that we don’t understand. Also we are standing on the foundation of others, which similarly, it is very difficult to gain a complete comprehension of. Others lived and died for me whose lives I am unaware of; but nevertheless we and I are benefiting from.
This short story is simply a recollection of how a certain quote from a Jewish Kabbalah book came to be in World Scripture 2. Hyung Jin Nim had announced that he was going to have a meditation retreat at Barrytown a few years ago and that we were to bring a book to read during the free time after meditation.
The book I chose was by Gershom Scholem entitled, “On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in Kabbalah.” As I was reading pp 214-215, I was shocked to see the story of David, Bathsheba, Uriah and Nathan, retold and interpreted fundamentally the same as Father explains it the speech, “Change of Blood Lineage; The Real Experience of Salvation by the Messiah” (October 13, 1970, Seoul, Korea):
“Actually, the mother of King Solomon was Bathsheba, originally the wife of Uriah before King David stole her. Then how could the child from that union become King Solomon? Bathsheba was in the providential position of Eve in the Garden of Eden, before the fall. David was in the position of Adam, and Uriah was in the position of the archangel. The archangel distracted the spouse of Adam with love and stole her away, making her fall. A reversal course is needed in order to indemnify that; therefore a person in the position of the archangel’s wife had to be restored to the position of Eve. Therefore, the child who was born on the foundation of that reversal could be born as a child of heavenly love, a child of glory. Solomon was such a child of glory.”
The meditation retreat participants shared rooms and I was by chance assigned to be Dr. Andrew Wilson’s roommate. When we returned to the room in the evening, I showed Dr. Wilson what I had discovered. He said (paraphrased), “By golly, I’m going to put this in World Scripture 2!”, and by golly he did!.
Some people might be thinking that it’s not good to point out that God revealed things to his prophets prior to Father- things that we thought previously that only Father knew and revealed for the first time, but actually Father likes to give credit where credit is due.
By pointing out the Jewish Kabbalah teaching that agrees with Father’s teaching, we can more easily increase the understanding of both Jews and Christians about “Change of Blood Lineage; The Real Experience of Salvation by the Messiah.”
It can be seen from Gershom Scholem’s comments prior to the story on p214, that as one of the preeminent Jewish Kabbalah scholars, even he himself did not understand this interpretation of the rabbi from the 8th century, but to his credit and our benefit, he included this story in his book on basic concepts of Kabbalah.
The fact of this providentially correct interpretation of a Biblical story existing as part of the oral tradition of Judaism reminds me of the fact that Jesus was astonished that Nicodemus was a teacher of Israel and didn’t know that he needed to go through the process of rebirth.
Click on the link and search inside the book on “Bathsheba” to read the story of David, Bathsheba, Uriah and Nathan as retold by the rabbi from the late Middle Ages.
Fundamentally, their story of rebirth is also our story.