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1) “Ask for a letter from the Lord your God; ask either in the depth, or raise it above.” What is the difference between the first generations and the last generations? The first generations knew and observed the high wisdom; they knew how to put together the letters that Moses was given in Sinai. Even the wicked ones in Israel, such as Ahaz, were proficient in the letters of the upper wisdom, as the prophet told him, “Ask for a letter.” If he did not know the upper wisdom in the letters, the prophet would not tell him. And we know that in the upper letters that extend from Bina, and in the lower letters that extend from Malchut, it is wise to conduct actions in this world.
2) Because each letter that was given to Moses was crowned and rose over to the heads of the upper holy animals—the upper Merkava [chariot/assembly], HGTM—all the animals were crowned in the letters, including these animals of the lower Merkava in Malchut. They were flying in the Avir [air] of YESHSUT, which descends from the upper, thin air that is not known, which is in upper AVI.
The letters are the Kelim and the Mochin, and originate from Bina, from YESHSUT, from which all the Mochin de [of] ZON and BYA come. Each letter that was given to Moses, meaning the Kelim and Mochin that were given to ZA, called “Moses,” was crowned and rose to the heads of the upper, holy animals, HGTM de ZA from the Chazeh and above, which are called upper, holy animals, the upper Merkava, which Bina rides. And those HGTM de ZA were receiving the Mochin and those Kelim from Bina, and all the animals were crowned in the letters, even the animals of the lower Merkava in Malchut.
Also, they were flying in the air, meaning that the exit of the Mochin is considered flying in the air, which implies the Yod that comes out of the Avir [air], leaving Ohr [light] from the Avir of YESHSUT, in which the Yod comes out of the Avir. However, they come out of upper AVI, in which the Yod does not come out of the Avir. Additionally, Hochma is not known in them because the Avir de YESHSUT, which is known in Hochma, descends from the Avir of the thin upper AVI, in which there is no Hochma because the Yod in them does not come out of the Avir.
3) Small and big letters rise and fall. The big letters descend from the upper hall that is covered from everyone, meaning Bina, and small letters descend from another, lower hall, Malchut, and both were given to Moses in Sinai.
4) And letters combine in concealment in each letter, such as the Aleph, which is a single letter, but two letters combine with it in concealment—Lamed and Peh—in the pronunciation. Also, Yod and Tav join in the pronunciation of Bet, and all were given to Moses in Sinai, and all are with the friends, happy are they.
5) “Ask for a letter,” a real letter, since they were all negotiating in the letters. Also, what is written about Rahab? “And give me a true token [also “letter” in Hebrew].” This is the letter Vav, which is called, “A true token” [or a true letter]. But are the rest of the letters not true? It is not so, but this letter is called by that name, “A true letter,” and the rest of the letters are not called that. This is so because Vav implies ZA, who is called “truth,” as it is written, “You will give truth to Jacob.”
6) “Ask either in the depth” is the bottom Hey of the Holy Name HaVaYaH. “Or raise it above” is the letter Yod, the Rosh [head] in the Holy Name HaVaYaH. This is the meaning of what is written, “Ask for a letter from the Lord your God,” a letter from the Holy Name, from HaVaYaH, which is the Holy Name blessed be He, one letter in It. And the tabernacle, Malchut, called “Your God,” is what the letter stands on, since the Malchut receives from ZA, HaVaYaH. This is why it is written, “From the Lord your God.”
7) When the cloud rose over the tabernacle and was on it, all those Merkavot [plural of Merkava] and all those Kelim of the upper tabernacle, Malchut, were inside the cloud. It is written about that, “Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it.” It is also written, “And Moses entered the midst of the cloud … and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” If Moses could not come to the tabernacle because of the cloud that was on it, why did he enter the cloud and sit in the mountain all of those forty days?
8) Indeed, there were two clouds: The first was the cloud that Moses entered and in which he sat in the mountain forty days and forty nights. This cloud is from Malchut. The second was the cloud that was on the tabernacle, which extends from the left line of Bina and in which Moses could not come.
It is written, “The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” It does not write, “filled” with a Hirik under the Mem, but a full Mem with a Kamatz. This means that wholeness was made above in Bina and below in Malchut by the clothing of the cloud in the tabernacle below, since a hidden correction, called “cloud,” descended from the left line to Bina, below to Divinity, which is called “tabernacle” and “tent of meeting,” and Divinity was corrected.
9) Four sides of camps of angels in Malchut—called “lower Merkava”—were hidden by the cloud that descended upon the tabernacle, which is Malchut. The first correction of this cloud was on the first shift of those four camps of Divinity before everything was corrected. The Rosh on the right side is Tzadkiel, the superior appointee, superior to the camps, which are under the governance of Michael. And with him, all those camps were corrected under his hand.
10) One appointee was established on the four times three, which are four sides below, each of which consists of three. And when all those upper camps come down below, their names change into other names. And when they are above, their name never changes. And that appointee, Tzadkiel, stands over them inside. A letter sparkles over their heads, and it is a small Aleph. When this letter sparkles, everyone goes to that place where the sparkle is sparkling.
The Zohar explains the matter of, “He called unto Moses.” Certainly, this calling has no resemblance to a corporeal call, but as it is written, “The Torah speaks as the language of people.” Hence, we should understand the inner meaning of this calling. This is, “Ask for a letter from the Lord your God,” a real letter, from the letters of the name HaVaYaH. “Ask either in the depth” is the bottom Hey de [of] HaVaYaH, Malchut; “Or raise it above” is the letter Yod de HaVaYaH, Hesed. Thus, the letters are Kelim of the ten Sefirot, in which the lights expand. The speech and the reading above emanated from these letters and their combinations, as corporeal reading comes out of corporeal combinations of letters.
It is written, “When the cloud rose on the tabernacle and was on it, all those Merkavot and all those Kelim of the upper tabernacle, Malchut, were inside the cloud and Moses could not come inside the tent of meeting because the cloud was on it. Because the cloud covered all the Merkavot and Kelim in Malchut, called “tent of meeting,” Moses could not come to the tent of meeting. The cloud that was covering Malchut and all the Merkavot in her is the two letters Kof–Reish in the word VaYikra [And (the Lord) called], since the Kof of VaYikra is Gevura, which is Dinim [judgments] that extend from the left line, and the Reish of VaYikra is Tifferet, meaning Dinim that extend from the middle line. Their combination is the words Kof–Reish, as it is written, “The terrible ice,” since Dinim of the left are “ice,” and Dinim of the middle line are “terrible.”
And those two letters, Kof–Reish, covered all the Hassadim in the letter Yod of VaYikra, which is Hesed, and froze all lights in the letter Aleph of VaYikra, which is Malchut. For this reason, all the Merkavot and Kelim in Malchut were covered and Moses could not come to the tent of meeting.
Of these two letters, Kof–Reish—which are the letters that stand in the middle of the word VaYikra—one covers the letter Aleph of VaYikra, and one covers the letter Yod of VaYikra. This darkness and cloud continue until the letter Vav de HaVaYaH shone, meaning the middle line, ZA, and united the two lines—Hesed and Gevura—in one another. Then the Dinim in Gevura and Tifferet de Malchut—which are the two letters, Kof–Reish—were mitigated and no longer covered the lights and the Merkavot in Malchut. And then Moses could come to the tent of meeting.
Then the combination of VaYikra was made, since the four letters, Yod–Kof–Reish–Aleph [of VaYikra] are HG TM in the right Merkava of Malchut, being the angel Michael. Before they were established with the Vav de HaVaYaH, the letters Kof–Reish in them were covering the lights in the letters Yod–Aleph in them. At that time, Moses could not come to the tent of meeting. But now that the Vav has been added to them he could come to the tent of meeting; hence this combination of letters, VaYikra, as a whole, is regarded as a calling and invitation for Moses to come to the tent of meeting.
And since The Zohar wishes to interpret the matter of the cloud that covered the Merkavot in Malchut—what it is and in which place it rules—it presents the issue of the lower Merkava, the four angels—Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael. Each of them consists of three lines, HGT, and three times four is twelve, corresponding to the twelve combinations of HaVaYaH in the upper Merkava. However, they are mingled in one another; hence there are twelve in each of those four angels, and in each of them there are four sides, HG TM. Also, in each side there is HGT, which together are twelve.
Thus, there are four sides, HG TM, and in each there are three lines, HGT, in Michael. On the west, which is Malchut, there are three angels, which are the HGT that are there—Michael, Tzadkiel, and another angel that was not mentioned by name—and the letter Aleph sparkles over them. On the east, Tifferet, there are three angels, HGT, which are Michael, Raziel, and Romiel, and the letter Reish sparkles over them. To the north is Gevura, having three angels—Michael, Yofiel, and Hachmiel—and the letter Kof sparkles over them. To the south is Hesed, having three angels—Michael, Kedumiel, and Uriel—and the letter Yod sparkles over them. And two sides, Gevura and Tifferet, which are the letters Kof–Reish, cover the two letters Yod–Aleph, and Moses could not come to the tent of meeting until the Vav shone upon it.
It is written that the four sides of the camps of angels in Malchut, called “the lower Merkava,” were concealed by the cloud that descended on the tabernacle, Malchut. These are four sides of Michael that prior to their correction, were ruled by the letters Kof–Reish and covered everything.
The first correction of this cloud was on the first shift of those four camps of Divinity, which is the Malchut side in them before everything was corrected in the middle line. This is the Rosh that is to the right side, Tzadkiel, the superior appointee, superior to all the camps that are under the governance of Michael. With him, all those camps were corrected under his hand. And one appointee was established over four times three, meaning three angels on the side of Malchut of the four sides of Michael, on which the small letter Aleph of VaYikra sparkles.
11) From within, from the side of Malchut, which is Tifferet, Raziel is the superior appointee, superior to all the camps and stands within under the governance of Michael, Hesed, and with him are all the camps under his hands. And one appointee, called Romiel, stands atop them at the gate, surrounded by twelve appointees—three, three, four times.
For itself, Tifferet from the side of Tifferet consists of twelve. This is because there are three angels on this side—Michael is Hesed de Tifferet, Raziel is Gevura de Tifferet, and Romiel is Tifferet de Tifferet. And within Tifferet de Tifferet there are twelve, as well, like the rest of Michael’s four sides. Raziel, the superior appointee, stands over all of them and his name is not changed. One letter sparkles over the heads of all those camps—the letter Reish. When it sparkles, everyone travels to the side of that sparkling. This letter is poised to punish those who reveal secrets, and your sign is “Poverty [also Reish in Hebrew] and shame,” where the name “poverty” [Reish] indicates Dinim.
12) Within the side of Tifferet is Gevura. Yofiel is the superior appointee and is appointed over the camps under the governance of Michael. All those camps that were under his hand were corrected along with him. Here the camps were not revealed in the count, which is illumination of Hochma that applies in the left line, which is Gevura, since they were not completed here until they came to the Eternal House, the Temple that Solomon had made, where they were all completed and the camps grew to completeness.
And what we said here about the tabernacle before they were completed means that all those camps that were under the hands of Yofiel were given at that time to enter with him. And one appointee stands atop them, whose name is Hachmiel, and twelve appointees surround him, three on each side. It turns out that there are three angels on the side of Gevura, as well, Michael, Yofiel, and Hachmiel, which are HGT of the side of Gevura. And Hachmiel, Tifferet of Gevura, comprises twelve within him like the whole, since Tifferet is always inclusive. And Yofiel, the superior appointee stands atop them all, for his name was not changed.
13) The letter Kof sparks on the side of Gevura over the heads of all those camps. When she sparkles, everyone travels to the side of the sparkling. This letter Kof hangs in the air and the Dinim in her surrender three times a day through illumination of the three upper lines of ZA, which is called “day.” However, before she is mitigated by the three lines, she rises and falls, meaning the Hochma in her is drawn down and then she is in Dinim. At that time, of these two letters, Kof-Reish, the letters that stand in the middle of the word, VaYikra, one covers the letter Aleph of VaYikra and one covers the letter Yod of VaYikra, after the letter Kof, when you begin from Malchut, which is Aleph.
14) From within the side of Gevura it is Hesed, Kedumiel, who is the superior appointee over all the camps under the governance of Michael. With him, all those camps under his hand are corrected and one appointee stands over them at the gate, whose name is Ariel, which is surrounded by twelve appointees, three, three on each of the four sides. Also, there are three angels on this side of Hesed—Michael is Hesed de Hesed, Kedumiel is Gevura de Hesed, and Ariel is Tifferet de Hesed. Within it, Ariel consists of twelve, like the whole, and the appointee Kedumiel—whose name never changes—stands over them. The letter Yod stands over their heads and when it sparkles, everyone travels to that sparkling that it sparkles. The letter Kof covers the letter Yod and the Reish covers the Aleph of VaYikra.
15) At the very insides, in the holy place, in Bina, the letter Vav sparkles in hiding and concealment. This is the middle line, and the origin of its exit rises and determines between the two lines—right and left—of Bina. This letter Vav sparkles in sparkling over all the letters, meaning deciding between right and left of all the letters in ZA and in Malchut.
A voice comes out from the midst of those letters, which is the Vav, called “voice.” It is unheard in Bina, but here in the letters of ZA and Malchut, a voice that is heard comes out. Then it mitigates the letters Kof-Reish and the letters Yikra are opened from their blocking. Then the sparkling of the Vav strikes the sparkling of the letter Yod, and this sparkling of the Vav that emerged from the holy place, Bina, strikes the sparkling that the letter Yod opens from its blocking and it shines.
16) Then the sparkling of the letter Yod strikes the sparkling of the letter Kof, and sparkling of the letter Kof comes out and strikes the sparkling of the letter Reish. And all those sparkles come out and unite inside the sparkling of the standing letter, Aleph, meaning Malchut, which receives everything that is in the Yekar, in HGT. Then a voice comes out and strikes all those sparkles of letters together, to join them together into reading—the sparkling of the letter Vav in Yod, sparkling of the Yod in Kof, sparkling of the Kof in Reish, and sparkling of the Reish in Aleph. Then engravings, sparkles of the letters, conjoin and go off to their actions, since after the sparkles unite, a voice comes out from them and joins in the combination of “And called unto Moses.” And Moses was observing all those days and did not enter the tent of meeting, which is Malchut.
After the sparkling of the Vav, which is the middle line, arrived from Ima and united the two lines of the letters Yod and Kof, the blocking of the letters Kof-Reish was opened. And not only did the lights from the letters Yod and Aleph not interfere, they even imparted their lights to the Yod and Aleph, and they all illuminated together in the combination of VaYikra. Vav imparted to Yod, Yod to Kof, Kof to Reish, and Reish to Aleph.
And when all the lights that sparkle over these four letters opened and the four Merkavot [plural of Merkava, assembly] of the right side of Malchut, which is Michael, received their illumination, Moses could promptly come to the tent of meeting. And the opening of the lights of the four letters Yod-Kof-Reish-Aleph [Yikra, “will call”] is considered a calling and an invitation for Moses to come to the tent of meeting.
And Moses, who was observing all those days when he did not enter the tent of meeting, observed the difference—that before the Vav imparted, there was governance to the Dinim in the letters Kof-Reish, which covered all the lights in the Yod and Aleph, as well as the illumination of the letters Kof and Reish themselves. This is why Moses could not come to the tent of meeting. But now, after the Vav illuminated, meaning the middle line, when all four lights in the letters Yod-Kof-Reish-Aleph were opened, he could come to the tent of meeting. By observing this distinction, he understood the calling and the invitation to come to the tent of meeting.
17) Afterwards the letters returned and were rolling in their engravings in the letter-combination that was given to Adam ha Rishon in the Garden of Eden. Aleph, Malchut, went inside the concealment to the place called “holiness,” Ima, and the Vav came out and gave room for the Aleph at the beginning of the word. Then the Aleph joined with the Vav, after which they are Kof–Reish, with the Yod, Hesed, entering between the Kof and the Reish, making it Kof–Yod–Reish. Then they were carved and sparkled as in the beginning, and the voice, middle line, came out from among them and the sparkles of the letters conjoined, came out, and appeared to all the camps that were going with those letters, which are the camps of the four Merkavot of Michael.
And when the sparkles of the letters unite in the combination, a voice strikes among them and their engravings are seen to all the Merkavot in the combination, Aleph–Vav–Kof–Yod–Reish [pronounced, Okir, “I will cherish”]. Then the voice returns from them and calls among the Merkavot, “I will make man more rare than gold, and mankind than the pure gold of Ophir.”
After all the lights of HGT in the combination, VaYikra, imparted to the small Aleph of VaYikra, the Aleph, Malchut, was filled with blessings and illuminated in the illumination of Hochma in her and rose to Ima. Then the Malchut of VaYikra became more important than ZA, as it is written, “A virtuous woman is her husband’s crown.” It turns out that the Aleph, Hochma, rose before the Vav, ZA, Hassadim, and the combination Aleph–Vav was created. The Kof, too, which is Gevura and left line, illuminated in the Hochma in her and ruled, and hence put herself before the Yod, Hesed, meaning Kof–Yod. This inverted the combination of VaYikra into the combination Okir, as in, “I will make man more rare than gold,” as this combination indicates the domination of the light of Hochma.
18) Happy is Moses for seeing all that. But Moses did not see the combination, Okir, but the first combination, VaYikra. This combination was not revealed to him because a person’s praise is not told in his presence. Your sign is what is written, “You three come out.” It is also written, “And He called Aaron and Miriam,” and what is written, “With him I speak mouth to mouth,” and also, “Not so, with My servant Moses.” He said all that only to Aaron and to Miriam but not to Moses, since man’s merit is not told in his presence. This means that the Creator does not reveal the merit of a degree to the one who attains it until that degree has gone and he has been rewarded with a new degree. Then He reveals before him the praise and wholeness of the first. Thus, the Creator does not reveal the praise of the degree to its face, while it still exists.
19) The letters rose and returned in all the camps in the combination, Okir. The voice came out and said, “I will make man more rare than gold.” Afterwards the letters extended and were sparkling over the heads of all those Merkavot, and they were appeased until they were corrected in their places.
20) The head to the left side, Malchut, Hazkiel, is the superior appointee. He is superior to all the camps, all those that stand at the gate of the tabernacle, Malchut, under the governance of Gabriel. This is so because Michael governs the right of Malchut, Gabriel governs her left, and with him all those camps under his hand are corrected. And one appointee was established on the gate from the outside, and his name is Gazriel. With him, there are twelve appointees surrounding him—three, three to each side, on four sides.
The general Merkava is twelve—Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael—in each of which are three lines, HGT, which are twelve. Individually, each contains twelve. Also, the four letters, Yod–Kof–Reish–Aleph, sparkle on the twelve of Michael. Here he explains the twelve in Gabriel, HG TM, where in each there is HGT, as in Michael. First, he explains the Malchut in Gabriel, in which there are three angels—Gabriel, Hazkiel, and Gazriel. Gazriel alone, who is Tifferet on the side of Malchut, contains twelve, as well.
21) It is written that they are the ones in whose hands the sword that turned every way is turning (Beresheet Bet, Item 118). This appointee, Hazkiel, stands over them high above, inside. A single letter sparkles on their heads, the letter Aleph, the side of Malchut in Gabriel, for those camps do not stand and do not travel except in the letter Aleph, on the right, in Malchut that comes out in Hassadim, right. This is because the left of Gabriel travels only on the right, by clothing in Hassadim, and the right travels always on the left, in the inclusion of the left. Also, Aleph is the letter that sparkles and emerges from the right, meaning Malchut from the side of Hassadim in her. Then all the camps travel to that place that sparkles that sparkling.
22) Within the side of Malchut, on the side of Tifferet, it is the appointee, Rahatiel. He is superior to the camps and stands inside, under the governance of Gabriel. And with him are all the camps under his hand. And one appointee stands over them at the gate, whose name is Kadoshiel, surrounded by twelve appointees, three, three, four times. And that appointee, Rahatiel, stands over all of them, for his name does not change.
Here, too, there are three angels, HGT, on the side of Tifferet—Gabriel, Rahatiel, and Kadoshiel. One letter sparkles over the heads of all the camps, and this letter is the letter Zayin, the side of Tifferet in Gabriel. In the correction of the tabernacle, it is replaced by the letter, Lamed, meaning it is mitigated in Bina, which is Lamed, the tower that floats in the air. And this is replaced, as it is written, “Water will flow from his buckets,” since the Bina is the bucket of Tifferet. The Zayin is replaced in the engravings of the letters, and it is called “replacing of the Lamed.” When this letter sparkles over the heads of all those camps, everyone travels to the side of that sparkling.
23) Within the side of Tifferet, on the side of Gevura, it is Kaftziel, the superior appointee, superior to all the camps under the governance of Gabriel. With him, all those camps under his hand are corrected, that is, those that were given to him at that time. And one appointee stands above them whose name is Azael, and twelve appointees surround him, three, three, to each side. Here, too, there are three angels, HGT, on the side of Gevura of Gabriel—Gabriel, Kaftziel, and Azael. Azael himself, who is Tifferet, contains twelve. And Kaftziel, the superior appointee, stands over all of them. Also, one letter sparkles over the heads of all those camps, which is the letter Dalet, the side of Gevura in Gabriel. Also, they all travel to the sparkling of that letter. That letter hangs in the air on two other letters—Aleph and Lamed.
24) Within the side of Gevura in Gabriel, on the side of his Hesed, Shamiel is the superior appointee. This is replaced into four names because it cannot withstand its engravings. At times it is to the right, at times it is to the left, at times to the east, and at times to the west. He is named according to his service. And with him are twelve appointees that surround him, three to each side. Ragashiel is the superior appointee over those twelve appointees, under that other appointee, Shamiel. It turns out that here, too, on the side of Hesed de Gabriel, there are three angels, HGT—Gabriel, Shamiel, and Ragashiel.
Also, Ragashiel contains twelve in and of himself. And a single letter sparkles on their heads above, the letter Hey. It hangs in the air over all the other letters, Aleph, Lamed. As we said concerning the letter Dalet, those two letters, Dalet, Hey, rise above all the others because they are Hesed and Gevura, GAR, and everyone travels to that sparking, which depends on that letter, Hey.
25) And inside it all, in a place called “holiness,” in Bina, one letter sparkles in the concealment of holiness. This is the letter “blocked Mem” [a.k.a. final Mem]. The letter, blocked Mem, always shines on the left side of Bina. It sparkles in a sparkling over all the letters, Aleph, Lamed, Dalet, Hey, and a voice comes out from among the letters. Then the sparkling of this letter, blocked Mem, strikes and takes two other letters, which are sparkles that hang in the air, which are Dalet and Hey, leaving Aleph and Lamed, and they unite in those other ones on the right, which are Vav–Yod–Kof–Reish–Aleph [VaYikra]. They strike one another and the first letters, VaYikra, sparkle once more as before, coming out of the Malchut unto Moses. Then “And … called unto Moses,” meaning that the calling and the invitation for Moses to come into the tent of meeting came out of these combinations.
This is so because the letters Dalet and Hey are Gevura and Hesed in Gabriel, GAR of the left, and the letters Aleph and Lamed are Malchut and Tifferet in Gabriel, VAK of the left. Also, it is known that the illumination of Hochma that shines in the left is only VAK de Hochma, but the GAR de Hochma have disappeared and do not shine. It is written that then the sparkling of this letter strikes, meaning the letter, blocked Mem, and takes two letters, Dalet and Hey, leaving Aleph and Lamed because the letters Dalet and Hey are GAR that do not shine.
This is why the blocked Mem concealed them, leaving only Aleph Lamed, VAK, which are the letters of VaYikra on the right, Michael, and the letters EL on the left, which are Gabriel, from which the calling and invitation of Moses came out (see above Item 10). The reason why The Zohar does not bring the other two angels, Uriel and Raphael, which are TM in the lower Merkava, is that in the two lines—right and left—the primary operators are Michael and Gabriel, and TM, meaning Uriel and Raphael, only receive from them. There are no innovations in them, hence it did not bring them.
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