I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Zohar Bereshit: A Hebrew Catholic Reflection


Zohar Bereshit

The Zohar commentary on Parashat Bereshit opens with a discussion of the inner workings of the Godhead from a mystical perspective. In deep mystical and poetic language the Zohar (1: 15a) seeks to explain the relationship between the three lights that are the One essence of the Divine King who is Ain Sof (Infinite Light/Without End). This is the Divine Will, which is the essence of the Deity. In the eternity of the Godhead Ain Sof is the invisible Deity – the Father. The Divine Will engraved engravings in the Luster on High. This Luster on High is the Divine Will as Crown (Keter) of the Divine Attributes (sefirot). It is seen as a dark lightning or spark that flashed with the infinite light of the concealed of the concealed. This Lighting Flash of the Divine Man is perceived as darkness as its light is so bright it appears as darkness. This spark or lamp is also called Menorah Khashukhah (a dark lamp) or ‘the hardened spark” linking this second sparkling light with the concept of Yesod, Brit and Tzadik.

The ‘Luster on High’ is this concealed of the concealed – the dark light that blazes or flashes forth within the the concealed Godhead, perceived as a vapour coming forth in a ring (circle) as a form in formlessness. This is God’s form – the Adam Kadmon, Yosher or Shiur Komah – the Divine Man or Son of Man. This ring represents Keter –the Crown of Divine Will. The statement: “It split and did not split its avira (aura/ether)” is an attempt to explain the difference of the two lights who are still one light. This Light is seen as a divine Point (the point of khokhmah). It is only through this Point that the Ain Sof is known. This Divine Point is also called Reshit (beginning). This is an attempt in a veiled way to describe the eternal begetting of the Son by the Father. The Son is perceived both as the Divine Phallus and the Divine Seed (zera) of the Father. The imagery is sexual but is not carnal but spiritual – this is a Jewish Zoharic “Theology of the Body”. The Divine Form called the spark or lamp gushes forth a flow of colours representing the 10 sefirot as the Holy Spirit. This is the concealed Son as the Divine Seed (zera) begotten of the Concealed Father through the Holy Spirit within the Godhead. This word Reshit (beginning) is also Khokhmah (wisdom) and Bera (son). This is the first command which includes all the commands. This is the keter of Divine Will (ratzon) which is the Divine Word and Son. This is the One (ekhad) and Continuous Act of God (ratzuf maaseh Elohim).

The ‘Zohar’ next meditates on the third light which is the Holy Spirit called Radiance (Zohar). The Son is the Form of God and the Radiance is the soul or spirit of God who activates the sefirot of the Son as the Head of Potency or the Divine Potential. These three lights are the Concealed Father, the Lightning Flash and the Radiance. The Holy Spirit who is Radiance is the soul of the Divine Form. “With this beginning (reshit), the unknown concealed One created the Palace. This palace is called elohim.” (Zohar Bereshit 1:15a). The Beginning (the Son) and the Radiance (the Holy Spirit) are creating or building a palace worthy of glorious praise as the kavod (glory) who is a reflection or mirror of the Divine Seed. This is the Glory Cloud, which is also perceived as a Palace of glorious praise enveloping the Form (the Son). Reshit sows this seed of his attributes (sefirot/midot) in she who will give birth from Eternity to the Universes of Beriyah, Yetzirah and Assiyah and in time to the Divine Seed of Khokhmah (wisdom) and Holiness himself. She, united in and with and through the Holy Spirit, is the Palace; she is the space or place (makom); she is the vacuum called Night, Darkness and Dark Waters. This is a deep mystery of the first concept of a separate one. “The mystery is: ‘Her stock is seed of holiness”. Who is this ‘she’? It is the Celestial Imma, she is this Palace or House called Glory. She is the mystery of the Mem called Imma and Em Elohim. Her Son the Lighting Flash is also called the ‘kav’ or ray of Infinite Light, which is also called ‘Morning’. The word kav is hidden in the middle of the word makom which is the mystery of the double mem. This makom or Palace is called elohim because she is Em Elohim the Mother who understands fully with her heart the Divinity. All is made in the mystery or concept of this feminine Wisdom or Understanding (Binah) who is the spouse of the Spirit of God (Ruakh Elohim). As Wisdom 7:26 states: “She is the radiance of Eternal Light, an immaculate mirror of Elohim’s glory and an image of his goodness.” She is the sister spouse of the Holy Spirit, the mother of the son and the daughter of the Father. She is the Isha (Woman/Spouse) of Genesis 3:15. “Though she is only one she can do all things, and while remaining in herself she renews all things” (Wisdom 7:27).

The Zohar meditates on the first three words of Genesis – ‘With Beginning created elohim’ in a hyperliteral fashion. This hyperliteral level doesn’t invalidate other levels of meaning such as ‘In the beginning God created’ or ‘With the beginning God created’ or ‘with the Primordial Son Elohim’ and so on. In fact the whole of Tikuney Zohar (made up of 70 chapters) is a meditation on the first word Bereshit, according to Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Daniel Matt states that the Elohim here signifies the Divine Mother – Binah. This is Miriam (Mary) in Eternity united to her spouse the Ruakh Elohim.. In a sense she is Geveret or Em Elohim or Mrs Elohim. It is in the world of Beriyah (the Hidden or Concealed Son) that she is conceived in Eternity as the perfect created mirror of the Attributes (Sefirot) of Elohim. She is the type or Blueprint of the Creation and Universe. Bara is at the level of the Concealed Divine Son in the world of Beriyah. This is why the Zohar reflects that the human being (Adam) is created in His image. Beriyah is the world of forms or prototypes. The 10 decrees or commands of Creation are connected to this created elohim who is Miriam in Eternity. She, who is a created image of the form of the Son and the likeness of the Holy Spirit.

“Zohar sowing seed for its glory, like the seed of fine purple silk wrapping itself within, weaving itself a palace, constituting its praise, availing all”. This alludes to the mystery of Mary (Miriam) as the palace or House of the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit is so united in a synergy with Her that it is like a person/king in his house/palace. The term Zohar (Radiance or Brightness) speaks of this relationship between the Holy Spirit and his Bride. This is why the Zohar refers to her as ‘kavod’ (glory) and elleh (goddess). This means she is God-like, not of the essence of Divinity. The whole of creation is made in her image and likeness – as she is the created image and likeness of the Godhead. There is a difference of opinion in Judaism about whether the sefirot are created lights (Rambam’s opinion) or are lights of emanation that are of one essence with the Deity (Ramban’s opinion). They are both right. The sefirot of the Divine Son are of the one essence of the Deity and in his Mother they are created lights that mirror the uncreated lights of the Son. This understanding of Mary is also that of St Maximilian Kolbe. Hugh Owen states: “St Maximilian Kolbe conceived of a special participation by Mary in the activity of the Most Holy Trinity – a participation that extended to the entire divine activity.”

The Zohar uses the Divine Name ‘Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh’ (I AM WHO I AM or I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE or I AM WHO I WILL BE) to describe this role of the Mother in Eternity in her relationship with the Son. It speaks of this mystery or secret of the created Radiance (Zohar) who is in time called Miriam. At this Marian level of reading the Name ehyeh represents Elohim as the name connected with the Ark of the Covenant who is Miriam as crowned Queen (atarah) the one who fully understands Elohim. Her will (ratzon) lives or dwells totally in the Will of elohim – the Eternal I AM. This ehyeh also represents the Yehi (fiat) of Creation.

At this Marian Level the Asher (Who/ Which) reveals the union of the two hearts (lebb) of Yeshua and Miriam. The word reshit’s first three letters makes the word Rosh (head) – this represents Yeshua as the Head of the Beginning, Head of Creation and Head of the Church. The word be-reshit represents this mystery of the two hearts. ‘Be’ represents ‘bayit’ (house) and ‘reshit’ represents ‘rosh’ (head). Miriam haKedosha is the House or Palace of God and her Son is the Head of the House of God (the Church). The Zohar explains this mystery of ‘two hearts that beat as one’ occurs at the level of Beriyah in the Mind of God in Eternity but in time (the lower world) that House was not inhabited yet until a fullness of time would elapse. The Zohar reveals that the phrase ‘et hashamayim’ also alludes to this mystery. The letters of the Hebrew alphabet are perceived as the Seed coming forth from the Son (point of Hokhmah). Miriam as Em Elohim united in Eternity with her Son enters into a relationship with the Trinity represented by the three vowel points of kholem, shuruk and khirek – these three merge to become one. Asher also represents the Yehi (fiat) of Redemption or Salvation.

The uncreated Voice of the Divine Will as the divine Song (Rinah) is the Divine Word. With the uncreated Divine Voice comes its Queen Consort Miriam the created voice who sings the Divine Song that is the Divine Will. She is the created ‘et’ [aleph and tav] as the perfect mirror of the Divine uncreated ‘et’ (the Alpha and Omega) who is the Divine Word. This concept of voice is the final ehyeh (I will be) associated with the Yehi (fiat) of Sanctification which is dwelling (shekhen) in Divine Will.


The original Sefirot display with 13 triangular mems

The Zohar then gives an alternate understanding of the opening line of Genesis connected to the mystery of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh as the three mentions of Elohim, in regards to the three Heads of the Divine Will represented by the three arks in one of the Ark of the Covenant. The Zohar at its core is the revelation of the mysteries of the Ark, Tabernacle and Temple which represent the dwelling vessel of the Mother who encompasses and nurtures the uncreated Divine Presence himself.

The role of the Mother in Eternity is cenral to the Zohar. For the Catholic an understanding of the teachings of St Maximillian Kolbe open up a deeper reading of the Zohar. However I came to very similiar insights into Mary before I had read St Maximillian and was so ecstatic to find them confirmed in the teachings of this great Polish saint who died in the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz. Father Manteau-Bonamy discusses the Marian insights of St Maximilliam Kolbe: "If Mary, as a humble daughter of Adam, came into existence only after...generations of human beings, she was already present in God's own mind, outside of time, in the Holy Spirit himself. In God's eternal Now where she exists forever, she lives and reigns as the Sovereign Mother, above all other creatures, cooperating in God's divine task of governing the world, embracing the entire scope of Creation, before her and after her. That is why Father Kolbe does not hesitate to identify Mary with Wisdom, "the artificer of all"(Wisdom 7:22)." [Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit by Fr. H M Manteau-Bonamy O.P.] This understanding of the Celestial Mother accords with the mystical teachings of the Zohar. The Zohar is, I believe, in its hidden genesis a Jewish Catholic mystical book revealing to the enlightened Chaverim the mysteries of the Celestial Mother. The Holy Spirit is the uncreated Zohar (Radiance) and Our Lady Miriam haKedosha is the created Zohar. Within the essence of the Godhead the Holy Spirit is the Zohar alone, but in the lower worlds of Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Assiyah the Zohar is Miriam united to and in the Holy Spirit. The mystery of the Incarnation is also the mystery of the Creation. The creation is made in the image of the Incarnation. In time the Incarnation comes second, in eternity it is first.

Zohar 1:15b reveals that the the created feminine Zohar is the manifestation of the created Mystical Rainbow in all its colours. These colours are the lights of the Sefirot mirrored in her in perfection. She in this way reveals and gives Glory to the mystery of the Triune God YHVH Elohaynu YHVH (Deut. 6:4). "Zohar! Comprising all colours in this way till here YHVH, our God YHVH - three rungs, corresponding to the Divine Mystery." The Zohar then links these three mentions of God to the first three words of Genesis "Bereshit bara Elohim". Bereshit represents the first YHVH who is the Primordial Mystery of the Father. Bara is the concealed mystery who is Bera (son)the form from which all expands and is the second YHVH. The Holy Spirit is Elohim (elohaynu)- the mystery who sustains all. This reveals the first three words of Genesis as a trinitarian and Marian mystery. The next two Hebrew words of Genesis (et hashamayim)reveals the Incarnational and Redemptive Mystery of the 'two hearts that beat as one' also called in Judaism the 'concept of the Heart'. Of course Yeshua is the uncreated Alef and Tav (Alpha and Omega)- the 'et', however here in the Zohar it reveals that Miriam haKedosha is the created perfect mirror of the uncreated Alef and Tav, she is the created Alef and Tav (et). As 'et' she is procaimed in the Jewish tradition as the Shekhinah. This is why Wisdom 7:22 calls her the 'artificer of all' and she is united with her Son who is Shamayim (heavens). the 'ha' represents the Holy Spirit who unites these two ['et' and 'shamayim']who are female and male as one. This is a mystical oneness of the unity of wills. Her will living in His Will.