The Year of Jubilee



Chapter Five:

The Hidden Time


But thought’s the slave of life, and life Time’s fool,

And Time, that takes survèy of all the world,

Must have a stop.

                        William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I, Act V, scene iv


The time is out of joint.  Oh cursèd spite

That ever I was born to set it right!

                        William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, scene v


When we left off at the end of Chapter Four, we were considering the Biblical image of the “parting of waters”.  Since this is a motif that shows up at several critical junctures in both the Torah and the New Testament, it’s meaning warrants some careful scrutiny.  When Moses wielded his hallowed rod to part the waters of the Red Sea, he opened a path leading to the Theophany on Mount Sinai, an event described in the rabbinical commentaries as a “wedding” of God to His/Her Chosen People.[1] When Joshua led the Twelve Tribes across the Jordan into the Promised Land for the first time, the waters of the river parted before them at Gilgal, where the miraculous crossing was memorialized by a circle of twelve stones.[2]

As we discussed at the beginning of this book, the Hebrew word gilgal relates to the peculiar sort of Time which characterizes visionary experience.  It’s a two-dimensional time-frame, a non-linear mode in which Time is cyclical.  Thus, the prophet Ezekiel hears the word gilgal used to summon the “wheels within wheels” embodying the spirit of the four Chayyot, or “Living Creatures”.[3]   The four Chayyot represent the fourth level of the human Soul, the “Living Soul” or Chayah — the collective Soul restored to the full Symmetry of the World to Come.  Within this higher level of Symmetry, a “hidden” second dimension of Time — the Olam — reveals itself.

Since the term Olam has no exact equivalent in the English tongue (or, I daresay, any other language beside Hebrew), it is typically translated in the Scriptures as “forever” or “everlasting”.  For example, when Joshua explains to his people the purpose of the circle of twelve stones at Gilgal, the King James translation renders his words as:  “… these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.”[4]   But a translation truer to the original Hebrew would describe Gilgal as “a memorial unto the Hidden Time (Olam)”.   In other words, the circle of twelve stones taken from the Jordan riverbed were meant to be a mystical symbol of a concealed temporal dimension that the Israelites were able to access, thereby enabling them to “pass over [the river] on dry ground”.  They were able to do this because the waters actually stopped flowing when the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant stepped into the river.[5]


The River of Time

The flow of a body of water is a common metaphor for the passage of ordinary Time — which I’ll refer to hereafter as “mundane Time”.  We can infer, therefore, that all this Biblical imagery of rivers and seas that have stopped flowing relates somehow to a cessation in the “flow of Time”. And so it’s no coincidence that, not long after the river crossing at Gilgal, we find Joshua commanding the Sun and Moon to stand still in the sky during the battle of Gibeon.[6]   As we discovered in the last chapter, mankind’s return from our long spiritual Exile requires that we, like Moses and Joshua, “part the waters” of Time.  We have this on the authority of the prophecy of Isaiah and the Revelation of St. John,[7] both of which envision a “dry shod” crossing of the Euphrates River as the symbolic act that will bring mundane Time to an end.  In Genesis the Euphrates represents the fourth branch of the “river of Souls” flowing out of Eden.[8]  Accordingly, it corresponds to the fourth level of the Soul — the Chayah — where the full Symmetry of Time is restored and the Hidden Time Olam is revealed.  The Kabbalah teaches that the crossing of the Euphrates requires an understanding of the deepest meaning of the Torah, “the innermost kernel, the marrow whence flows the seed of life, which … discovers and develops ever new mysteries”.[9]

Based on our discussion thus far, it appears obvious that this crossing will also demand of us a profound insight into the nature of Time — both the mundane and the visionary variety.  Let’s put aside the latter for the time being and concentrate on what we know about mundane Time.  Ever since Einstein propounded his theory of General Relativity, scientists have viewed Time as a fourth physical dimension, of the same fundamental nature as the three spatial dimensions.  Considered from this perspective, however, mundane Time is, as Prince Hamlet put it, “out of joint”.  If Time is a physical dimension, then it appears to be an incomplete and defective one.

The most obvious defect of mundane Time is its asymmetry.  Unlike the three spatial dimensions, Time has a preferred “direction”.  While we are free to go backward and forward, up and down, in and out in Space, we are compelled to only move forward in Time from past to future.  Physicists have endeavored to explain the so-called “arrow of Time” as a consequence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which stipulates that the “entropy” of a system has a very high probability of increasing from one point in Time to another.  Entropy measures the amount of “disorder” in a physical configuration.  The more possible arrangements there are within a given configuration, the more entropy it has.  If we break out a brand new deck of 52 playing cards, for example, it has only one possible arrangement; hence, its entropy is very low.  On the other hand, a shuffled deck has very high entropy, since there are about 8 × 1067 possible arrangements.  Entropy also indicates the amount of information that a configuration can yield.  If, instead of playing cards, we have a deck of 26 alphabet cards, each depicting one letter, then we can compose only a few words with an ordered deck, but a great many words with various shuffled arrangements.

Hence one can argue that mundane Time is not reversible because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  All the King’s men and horses can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again:  broken eggs don’t reassemble themselves and spilt milk doesn’t pour itself back into the container.  But at least one eminent physicist has pointed out that this explanation of the “arrow of Time” is flawed, because the law of increasing entropy applies equally to both directions in Time.  That is, if we have a whole egg today, the Second Law of Thermodynamics says not only that it’s more likely to be a broken egg tomorrow, but also that it was more likely to have been a broken egg yesterday.   So entropy’s “arrow of Time” turns out to be a Janus-like double-headed one, pointing forward and back.[10]

The only was to salvage this argument is to build into it the hypothesis that the initial state of the physical Universe — on the eve of the Big Bang, so to speak — was one of minimal entropy.[11]  This ultra-orderly and super-symmetrical initial condition would then have biased the “arrow of Time” in the forward direction from the outset.   Which means that the one-dimensional, unidirectional Time that we experience in our everyday lives is actually a vestige of the breakup of a condition of total Symmetry which obtained “in the Beginning” of the Universe.  Extrapolating from the physical to the metaphysical, this traumatic primordial event of “Symmetry-breaking” corresponds to the supernal event described in the Kabbalah as the “shattering of Vessels” or Shevirah.

All that happens in the lower World of manifestation is but a reflection of transformations in the upper World of eternal forms (aka archetypes).  Thus, the disintegration of the World Soul (Pleroma) in the upper World — as mythically portrayed in the Fall of the Angels — has its counterpart in the breakdown of the primordial Symmetry of the physical Universe, which generated the “Big Bang” and propelled us down this one-way street of mundane Time.  It stands to reason, then, that the work of restoration of the Pleroma necessarily involves a transcendence of strait-jacket of one-dimensional Time.  It requires a “rectification” — Tikkun in Hebrew — of the defect in Time that was introduced by the Shevirah.  As Shakespeare correctly observes, this labor of Tikkun to “set it right” is the reason why each of us was born.

Again, we must be mindful of the ineluctable linkage between the physical and metaphysical realms.  If mundane Time is incomplete, it’s because our individual Souls are likewise incomplete.  And the converse is also true:  we cannot hope to restore the wholeness of the collective human Soul unless we also restore the Symmetry of Time.  As we’ve said before, the restoration of the Pleroma crucially depends upon the unobstructed flow of Souls out of the supernal Treasury of Souls (the Sefirah of Binah) into incarnation through the Womb (the Sefirah of Malkut).  This flow of Souls is described in Genesis as a “river that goes out of Eden [Binah] to water the Garden [Malkut]”.[12]  And, according to the visions of Isaiah and St. John, it is the fourth and final branch of that river — allegorically designated as the Euphrates — that we are to cross to complete the Tikkun and usher in the reign of the Messiah.

Now, the principle of upper-lower correspondence tells us that the flow of Souls into incarnation has a cognate physical process, which is the flow of Time.  When the original Symmetry of the Universe was broken, the most sublime portion of the divine Light — the Quintessence which was Elohim’s first creation — was withdrawn.  The incarnation of righteous Souls then became the exclusive channel through which this Light was reintroduced into the World.  But the Shevirah’s shattering of Symmetry also generated a host of empty Worlds wherein scattered sparks of that Light became trapped.  Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word for “Worlds”, which encompasses these empty Worlds as well as our own, is Olamim — the plural of Olam.  This suggests that the Hidden Time is the dimension that connects all of the Worlds — the “parallel universes” of modern cosmology — with our own.  In that sense, the Olam is the great axis of Symmetry, the “bolt that passes from extremity to extremity”,[13] uniting the upper and lower Worlds.  It corresponds to the Middle Pillar of the Tree of Life.[14]

Since all Light manifests itself on the mental plane as Consciousness, the sparks trapped in the empty Worlds became the energy source of a negative Consciousness, which we have referred to as the Qlippot.  The Qlippot have a virtual existence below the threshold of Reality in a realm known as the Other Side, or Sitra Ahra in Hebrew.  When Eve and Adam prematurely tasted the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, they gained access to the Olamim before having effected the Tikkun needed to neutralize the negative energy of the Qlippot.[15]  Consequently, human Consciousness became infected and our metaphysical identity contracted into the shell of the ego-persona, as personified by Eve’s firstborn Cain.   It now became necessary to “quarantine” this fallen Consciousness and stop it from inhabiting the empty Worlds and thereby strengthening the Other Side to such an extent that it could effectively resist and thwart the Tikkun.  To prevent that, the “Lord God” (Adonai Elohim) expelled Man from the Garden and set up the Cherubim with a flaming sword to keep him from the Tree of Life, “lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live in the Olam”.[16]


The Sea of Reeds  

All of this provides us with the background we will need to penetrate the story of the Red Sea crossing on its deepest level of meaning — the level that Jewish mystics call sod.   To start with, we note that the body of water which Moses parts in the Torah is actually called Suphah — which means “Sea of Reeds”, not “Red Sea”.  Correcting this mistranslation is important for several reasons.  The Hebrew word for reed qaneh is derived from the verb qanah, which means “to erect” or “to get”.  Used in the latter sense, the verb qanah serves in Genesis as a pun on the name Cain (Qayin in Hebrew), when Eve says:  “I have gotten a male child with the help of Adonai.”[17]  As we’ve just discussed, Cain is a personification of the tainted egocentric Consciousness associated with the Qlippot and the Sitra Ahra/Other Side.   We also know that the Olam is the concealed aspect of Time that communicates with the Sitra Ahra and links its many empty Worlds with our World.  So it follows that the Sea of Reeds represents a “node”, a metaphysical junction of sorts, at which mundane Time and the Olam meet and connect with one another.

  The qanah reed also has other connotations that bear upon the mystical import of the Sea of Reeds.  An ancient symbol of royalty in the Eastern Mediterranean, the reed was carried by the Egyptian Pharaoh as a scepter.  The Egyptians also used the qanah reed to make the shafts of arrows, which symbolized the rays of the Sun and hence the glory of Pharaoh as a living Sun-god.[18]  It goes without saying that such idolatrous self-deification is a hallmark of the Sitra Ahra, which is why the prophet Ezekiel depicts Pharaoh as a Leviathan, the living embodiment of the Other Side.[19]  Similarly, when the Romans — who also worshipped their ruler as a god — sought to humiliate Jesus with the mock trappings of an earthly monarch, they dressed him in a scarlet robe, crowned him with thorns, and put a royal qanah reed in his right hand.[20]

The qanah reed was also an ancient symbol for the number twelve and was associated with the twelfth month of the lunar calendar.[21]   In this sense, it is linked to the sacred cycle of two-dimensional Time represented by the twelve stones of Gilgal and the twelve signs of the Zodiac.  It’s noteworthy that the dodecahedron a twelve-sided polyhedron which is one of the five perfectly Symmetrical solids — has long been considered to be the fundamental form of the Cosmos as a whole and/or of the Quintessence.[22]  Each of the twelve faces of a dodecahedron is a pentagon, the proportions of which are based on the infinitely self-replicating Golden Ratio φ.  The dodecahedron is thus an ideal image of the five-tiered fractal structure of the collective Soul reintegrated into the twelve-fold Symmetry of the Neshamah.  The Neshamah is the third level of the Soul and the highest that can be achieved in this World.

An interesting example of the dodecahedron as a blueprint of the Neshamah’s mystical Symmetry appears in Salvador Dali’s painting “The Sacrament of the Last Supper”. (See Figure 3)  Here Dali depicts Jesus and the twelve Apostles enclosed in a transparent dodecahedron surmounted by a large human torso. With outstretched arms, the dodecahedron-torso appears to subsume the twelve Apostles within one Body.  Thus, Dali sees the effect of the Eucharistic feast as transcending the individual human Soul — which is Ruach, the Soul’s second level — and restoring the twelve-fold unity of the collective Neshamah.  This was also the effect of the Theophany on Mount Sinai, where the Twelve Tribes of Israel merged into one Soul and spoke with one voice in expressing their acceptance of the Torah.[23]

While the Neshamah is a collective Soul, it retains the uniqueness of each individual Soul within its fractal pattern, where the whole is not merely the sum of its parts but replicates the form of each of its parts.  Again, the structure of the dodecahedron illustrates this principle.  Its pentagon faces stand for the five levels of the Soul transmitting their eternal forms downward into the material Universe through the mathematical self-replication of the Golden Ratio.  If we connect the vertices of a pentagon with diagonals — in effect, inscribing a pentagram within it — we form another smaller pentagon inside the pentagram. (See Figure 4)   The ratio of the length of each diagonal to the length of each of the pentagon’s sides is φ.  Each diagonal is also divided into segments exhibiting the Golden Ratio:  a:b = (a+b):a = φ .   Furthermore, each of the isosceles triangles surrounding the interior pentagon is a “golden triangle”, with the ratio of longer to shorter sides equal to φ.   Theoretically we can repeat this process of replicating the pentagon on a smaller and smaller scale indefinitely — at least until we get to the quantum limit, a topic we’ll revisit later in this chapter.

Finally, the qanah reed has a dimensional connotation as well, since it was commonly used as a measuring rod in Biblical times.[24]  Accordingly, a “Sea of Reeds” can be envisioned as a vast horizontal marsh bristling at every point with a vertical reed/rod.  In the “string theory” of modern physics, hidden dimensions are conceptualized exactly the same way — projecting orthogonally from each and every point in three-dimensional Space.[25]

Pulling all this together, the Sea of Reeds appears to be a dimensional uplink from mundane Time to the Olam.  Concealed among its reeds is the “bolt that passes from extremity to extremity”, linking the twelve-fold Symmetry of the Neshamah on high with the sub-real domain of the Sitra Ahra below.  It’s quite appropriate; therefore, that this should be the place Moses and Pharaoah part company in the parting of the waters.  The word for “waters” or “water” in Hebrew is mayim, which is spelled מים — an open mem, a yud and a final closed mem.  We note how symmetrical the word mayim is, with a mem on either side of the central yud.  In terms of its physical properties, water is the epitome of Symmetry, since it can be divided along any number of planes.

Futhermore, the word mayim is recursive, which is to say that it contains itself.  That’s because, as we mentioned in the Introduction of this book, the letter mem itself denotes “water”.  Hence, the word “waters” is composed of “waters”, i.e., two letters mem.   So we can expand “waters” מים to read:  water י water, or מיםימים, which in turn can be expanded to מיםימיםימיםימים, and so ad infinitum.  We’ve encountered this kind of recursive Symmetry before and can recognize it as the basis of fractal patterns, in which the subunits endlessly replicate the structure of the whole pattern on an ever smaller scale.

Getting back to the word mayim מים, we can now see that the “parting of the waters” takes place at the letter yud.  Since rabbinical scholars treat yud י as if it were a dimensionless point, it makes the perfect symbol for the Olam, the hidden orthogonal Time axis which intersects every point of our mundane Space-Time but manifests no duration within our World.  Recalling the Sea of Reeds, we can imagine the surface of the water as a two-dimensional horizontal plane and the reeds as one-dimensional vertical lines.  To a flat fish swimming in the Sea, the reeds are completely invisible, because the point where each one penetrates the water is dimensionless.  But if our fish (perhaps after studying the Kabbalah?) were to become aware of the reeds and could reorient his thinking to view things from their vantage point, the whole Sea would appear frozen in Time.  It follows that if we (whose mystical aptitudes are hopefully superior to those of fish!) were able to shift the reference frame of our Consciousness into the “dimensionless” Olam, then we could “part the waters” like Moses and stop the flow of mundane Time.

Zeno, a Greek philosopher of the 5th Century BC, proposed a number of logical paradoxes, one of which involved the flight of an arrow.  While Zeno may not have been aware of the symbolic interplay of arrows and reeds, his paradox is still very relevant to our inquiry regarding the flow of Time.  Zeno noted that, at any given instant in Time, it would be impossible to determine if an arrow were moving or at rest.  Therefore, he concluded, all motion is impossible and our perception of motion is illusory.   Aristotle in his Physics takes the opposite tack, arguing that everything is in motion and stillness is an illusion.  According to Aristotle, Zeno’s Paradox of the Arrow is premised on his false assumption that Time consists of discrete moments, instead of being continuous.  In other words, Aristotle contended that it was meaningless to speak of a point in Time — a “now” — because Time can only be measured in intervals.

Obviously, Zeno and Aristotle had radically different concepts of what Time is.  If we allow for two Time dimensions, however, their seemingly antagonistic views can be reconciled.  From the standpoint of mundane Time, Aristotle is right:  There is no present instant, no “now”, but only the interval between “now” and “then”.  From the standpoint of the Hidden Time, however, Zeno is correct:  Everything — past, present and future — is happening “now”.  From the Olam perspective, nothing really changes, nothing really “moves”, except our Consciousness of what is.  It’s like the Zen riddle about the flag fluttering in the wind.  From the standpoint of the flag, it’s at rest and the wind is moving, but from the wind’s perspective, it’s the other way around.  Which one is right?  “Not the flag, not the wind,” the Zen koan concludes, “Mind is moving.”

From the Aristotelian view, Time is a continuous flow, just like a river.  We can speak of a certain “place” on the riverbank — or even in the riverbed, the source of Gilgal’s stones — but we really can’t fix a location in the river itself.  There’s the old joke about two fishermen who find a place where the fish are practically jumping into their boat.  The first fisherman tells the second to make sure he marks this spot so they can come back to it again.  Later, when they’re done fishing and are taking the boat out of the water, the first fisherman sees a big red X painted on the keel asks his friend how it got there.  “You told me to mark the spot!” the second fisherman replies.

If we accept the premise that Time flows like a river, however, we encounter another paradox that exposes the incompleteness of mundane Time standing alone.  A flow can only be measured from a stationary reference point.  Unless there’s a bridge, who can say how much water has gone under the bridge?  Or if the bridge is on pontoons floating down the stream, that doesn’t help us much either.  Again, when we try to apply the concepts of spatial dimensions to mundane Time, they just don’t fit.  Motion in Space is measured by distance traveled during a given interval of Time.  We speak of velocity in terms of miles-per-hour, meters-per-second, etc.  But how can we measure motion in Time? There’s simply no way to use a yardstick to measure itself. We can’t very well have “hours-per-hour” or “seconds-per-second”.    Unless, of course, there’s another Time axis, orthogonal to the first, against which to measure the passage of mundane Time.

This difficulty in defining the “flow” of mundane Time becomes even thornier when we introduce the four-dimensional Space-Time paradigm of Einstein’s General Relativity.  In that formulation, all things can be represented as paths drawn through four-dimensional “Minkowski Space”.  These paths are known as “World lines”, which is interesting in light of the fact that Olam also means “World”, as in Olam HaBa, “the World to Come”.  Could some of Einstein’s more profound insights have been inspired by the Kabbalah?  Perhaps not consciously, but his portrayal of Space-Time certainly bears a striking resemblance to the “static Universe” as seen from the Hidden Time.  In Minkowksi Space, each of us is part of a “World line” that has no beginning and no end.  Even though I am sitting at my computer as I write these words, my World line is extending through Space-Time at the speed of Light![26]

In Minkowksi Space, mundane Time does not “flow” anymore than the three spatial dimensions do.   Neither do World lines — the primary physical Reality of things — really move:  they simply are what they are.  While we can speak of a “velocity” associated with the movement of my current position along my World line, mundane Time cannot be used to measure this “velocity”.  That’s because mundane Time — which physicists denote by the letter t — is one of the four components of my change of position in four-dimensional Space-Time.  We’re back to the problem of trying to use a yardstick to measure itself.

Another characteristic of mundane Time that disqualifies it as a suitable “metronome” in Minkowski Space is its lack of universality.  According to Einstein’s Special Relativity theory, different observers will disagree on what t is at any given point.  As a matter of fact, under Einstein’s formulation, mundane Time is purely personal and local.  I perceive that I am writing this book during the administration of President George Bush II, but to an observer in another galaxy, I could be writing this during the reign of the King George III … or during some future regime of Emperor George Bush III![27]  (I can only pray that the extra-galactic observer will avert his/her eyes so that I may be spared the latter indignity.)

Since mundane Time t won’t do the do the job as a temporal framework in four-dimensional Space-Time, physicists have contrived a “universal Time” — represented by the Greek letter tau τ — to define movement along a World line.[28]   This represents an implicit, albeit backhanded, acknowledgment that motion in Minkowski Space inherently demands a second Time dimension.  For the sake of convenience, we’ll adopt the physicists’ notation for the two different dimensions of Time, using t for mundane Time and τ for the Hidden Time.



Let There Be Light

Now that we’ve “stepped into the water”, in a manner of speaking, we observe that there are two different forms of the letter mem in the Hebrew word for water/waters mayim מים.  The first mem is written in the “open” form מ, while the second one is the “closed” form ם that is used when the letter appears at the end of a word.  The closed form of mem has acquired a special mystical meaning stemming from Isaiah 9:5-6,[29] in which it anomalously pops up in the middle of a word.  The passage in question appears in a familiar chorus from Handel’s Messiah:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder… Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.


This last phrase of this passage is another example of the translation of Olam as “forever”.  A more accurate and meaningful rendering would be “… with justice from now unto Olam.”  We note the close connection here between the concept of “now” and the Olam.  Isaiah is clearly alluding to the advent of the Messiah, and Christians interpret these verses as a prophecy of the birth of Christ.  As is often the case in Isaiah, the formulation follows the pattern of the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life. (See Figure 1)  We have the Prince of Peace, who corresponds to Zer Anpin and the Sefirah Tipheret.  Then we have the Kingdom, which is the Sefirah Malkut.  Lastly we have Justice or Righteousness, which is represented by the Sefirah Yesod.  All of these three Sephirot lie along the central axis of the Tree of Life, the axis of Symmetry which corresponds in temporal terms to the Olam.  Consequently, Yesod forges the link between the “now” of our World — which is absent in mundane Time but present in our Consciousness — and the Eternity of the many Worlds.

We’ll have more to say about the role of Yesod and its nexus with the Olam as we proceed in this chapter, but for now let’s focus on the meaning of the closed mem in this passage and in the word mayim.  According to the Talmud, the closed mem in Isaiah 9:6 signifies that the “end of days” — i.e., the end of mundane Time — is “hidden”.[30]   Similarly, the Zohar says that this mem was closed when the second Temple was destroyed and will be reopened when the Messiah appears.[31]  So the closed mem definitely has a temporal connotation.   It augers the “hidden” date when one-dimensional mundane Time will “end”, in the sense that it will merge with the heretofore “hidden” second Time dimension.  It   also augers the end of humanity’s Exile from Eden, which is paralleled in history by the exile of the Jews from the Holy Land after the destruction of the Temple.

As interpreted by the Bahir, the closed mem represents the Womb of Time, which is Malkut.  As we discussed earlier in this book, the rotundity of the Womb is a metaphor for two-dimensional cyclical Time.  The Bahir goes on to say that the shape of the Womb is like that of the Hebrew letter tet ט .[32]  With its opening oriented to the upper Worlds, womb-like tet makes an excellent symbol for the Olam.  Being the ninth letter, tet is closely associated with two Sephirot of the Tree of Life (see Figure 1).  The Tree can be viewed from the perspective of either the upper or lower Worlds.  From the former standpoint, the ninth Sephirah is Yesod, which we have just explained is the “node” connecting mundane Time with the Olam.  On the other hand, looking upward from our vantage point at the Tree’s base, the ninth Sephirah is Chochmah.  We recall that Chochmah represents a state of pure temporal Symmetry in which past, present and future merge.

For these reasons, tet ט can be taken as shorthand for the Olam.  Because the Latin alphabet has only one “t-sounding” letter, we are obliged to borrow the Greek tau τ to designate a second Time dimension.  But, as if by design, Hebrew has two “t-sounding” letters:  the ninth letter tet ט and the last (22nd) letter tav ת.  From this we might infer that, since tet stands for the Hidden Time, then the letter tav should make a fitting symbol for mundane Time.  Tav appears in the word ‘eth עת for ordinary Time.  Its form is also the opposite of tet, insofar as tav ת is boxy and closed off at the top — suggesting a one-dimensional linearity cut off from the higher Worlds.  Interestingly, there is a tradition recorded both in the Talmud and in early Christian writings to the effect that the letter tav originally had the shape of a cross.[33]  Since the cross depicts a two-dimensional grid, this tradition seems to hark back to the temporal Symmetry “before the Fall”, when mundane Time was paired with its now-hidden orthogonal counterpart.

In our Kabbalistic algebra, therefore, we can state that tav ת = t (mundane Time) and tet ט = τ (Olam).   Having explored some of the infirmities of mundane Time, let’s turn our attention now to the nature of the Hidden Time.  In our initial exploration of the Olam, we’ll use the letter tet as our guide.  This letter appears for the first time in the Torah in the word “good” tov:

            And Elohim said, “Let there be Light”, and there was Light.

            And Elohim saw that the Light was good[34]


The word tov טוֹב consists of the three letters tet, vav and bet, with a cholem vowel marking over the vav.   Tet we know stands for the absolute Symmetry of Chochmah that prevailed before the Creation of the material Universe — the same condition that modern physics envisions as preceding the Big Bang.  As we’ve discussed before, the sixth Hebrew letter vav is a symbol of Symmetry, as displayed in the six Symmetrical branches of the Menorah, three on either side of the central sconce.  In fact, the word Olam itself illustrates the symmetrical role of vav.  Olam עוֹלָם is divided in the middle by vav, with the numerical value (gematria) of the letters on either side of it amounting to 70, a number associated with Equilibrium.  In the previous two chapters, we’ve repeatedly encountered the number 70 in connection with the allotted time-frame for the reunion of the upper and lower Worlds that were divided with the Fall of Man.  And, not coincidentally, these two sets of Worlds are represented by bet, the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the final letter of tov.

It’s important to understand the nature of the “good” Light that was Elohim’s first creation, because it’s quite different from the ordinary light that illuminates the physical Universe.  According to rabbinical tradition, Adam was able to see by the supernal Light from one end of the World to the other in one glance.[35]  This necessarily implies that the sublime Light (Quintessence) travels with an infinite velocity.  Because mundane Light has a finite velocity (300,000 kilometers per second), we cannot see all parts of the Universe simultaneously.  In fact, there are remote galaxies in the Universe that we have never seen because the Light from them is still traveling toward us.

In order to propagate instantaneously, Quintessence must be indivisible — that is, it cannot be comprised of subunits.[36]  This means that it cannot be composed of “quanta” in the same way as ordinary Light consists of photons.  Infinite velocity also demands infinite energy, a quality we will find to be essential to the realization of a temporal present “now”.[37]  Not only did this divine Light brighten the entire Universe “all at once”, but it also simultaneously revealed past, present and future Time.  Indeed, it illuminated not only the World of actual events, but also the myriad Worlds of unrealized potentials — the entire spectrum of Olamim.

Remarkably, Torah scholars are able to derive all of this simply from the particular Hebrew verb forms used in the statement, “Let there be Light, and there was Light.”  In Hebrew the words are Yehi aor, vayehi aor.  Yehi is the imperfect tense of the verb “to be”.  This imperfect tense can be translated either as the future — “There shall be Light” — or the jussive — “Let there be Light”.  In the second part of the statement, va-yehi is the imperfect yehi again preceded by the “and” conjunction vav.  But because the vav has the vowel qames attached to it וָ , it can “flip” the imperfect yehi over to the past tense.  Thus the phrase, “and there was Light” relates not just to a past occurrence, but to the whole temporal procession by which an event develops from a “future” potential to a “present” experience and then to a “past” remembrance.

But because the Torah uses the multi-faceted imperfect tense yehi, it also conveys the sense that all events — regardless of whether they are perceived as past, present or future — retain the uncertain character of mere potentials.  Although we can intuitively grasp this concept as applied to future events, which we regard as being in the realm of probability, it is quite enigmatic as applied to the present — and positively baffling as applied to the past.  Believe it or not, however, this temporal paradigm has been largely confirmed by the findings of modern quantum theory.

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle tells us that we cannot know whether what we perceive in the “here and now” is exactly “here” or precisely “now”.  The primary Reality, as the quantum theorists see it, is Schrödinger’s Equation, which describes only a set of probable outcomes.  So, while we only experience one of these outcomes, all of the other alternatives are nonetheless Real.  Even more disconcerting to our conventional world view is the extension of this quantum theorizing into the field of cosmology.  This has led to the hypothesis that our Universe is but one of a myriad of potential Universes described by Schrödinger’s Equation.  We’ll explore the metaphysical implications of this “quantum cosmology” later in this chapter.


The Moving Finger

So the idea of a fixed and certain present goes out the window whether you are a dreamy-eyed mystic Kabbalist or a hard-nosed quantum scientist.  But what about the past?  Surely past events that have already “come and gone” cannot be subject to vague probabilities.  Something that has already happened can’t change.  No one expects to wake up tomorrow and read in the morning headlines that the Confederacy won the Battle of Gettysburg.  We are reminded of the compelling lines of the poet Omar Khayyam:

  The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

  Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit

  Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

  Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.[38]


The Moving Finger does indeed write and move on.  But until a Daniel appears on the scene to interpret the writing,[39] it could signify any number of things.   Getting back to the subject of Light, we can take a flashlight and shine it on a something called a “diffraction grating”, which consists of a series of parallel opaque lines inscribed on a transparent medium.  When the Light emerges from the diffraction grating, it produces an alternating pattern of bright and dark bands called a “diffraction pattern”.  If we capture one of the particles of Light, called “photons”, we can try to figure out which of the transparent slits of the diffraction grating it passed through.  What we discover, however, is that, in order to produce the diffraction pattern we observe, each photon has to act as if it had passed through all of the slits of the grating!  So, while we look at the diffraction pattern and think we are seeing one outcome, one set of past events, all we are really seeing is the sum of a number of potential paths the photons may have taken.  The perception of a fixed and determinate past proves in this case to be an illusion.

What we’ve just described is not just some weird anomaly that happens with diffraction gratings; it actually represents a universal paradigm of physics.  Nobel laureate Richard Feynman has developed a quantum methodology called “sum over paths” or “sum over histories” which basically explains why we see just one past event among all the potentials outcomes.  According to Feynman, if an object — let’s say a baseball — follows a trajectory from point A to point B, the path that we observe it to take is actually the sum of the contributions of all the paths it potentially can take.[40]  In other words, things that “don’t happen” contribute to things that “do happen”.  If we take away the non-events, there are no events.  Even for occurrences that are in the past, “what might have been” remains very much operative and viable.  General Lee’s decision at Gettysburg to call off Pickett’s Charge — though it never actually “happened” — is one of the alternate threads that still contribute to history’s fabric.   

When we talk about the “alternate threads” of Reality, what we’re talking about are the Olamim.  All of these “threads” may be thought of as strands of hair growing out of one head — that “head” being Keter, the Crown of the Tree of Life.  In the lower World of Malkut, these strands merge to present a unitary experience.  This is the hidden meaning of David’s Psalm, which is typically translated as “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.”[41]  But with the literal Hebrew restored, it reads:  “Your Malkut is a Malkut of all Olamim.”  In other words, King David — the preeminent Kabbalist of his day — recognized that experience (Malkut) is the product of all the potential outcomes (Olamim).   He also recognizes that this “sum over histories” approach is just as applicable to the past as to the present.  In another Psalm, he writes:  “I have contemplated days out of the Before-Time, years of Olamim.”[42]

As it turns out, Feynman’s “sum over histories” theory is the key to restoring the lost Symmetry of Time.  It dispels the conventional notion that the past is “set in concrete” and the future is “up for grabs”.  The truth is that, as a matter of physical Reality, the past is no less uncertain than the future.  If there is an asymmetry between past and future, therefore, that asymmetry reflects a defect in our perception of Time.  In other words, our perception of Time is partial — we are blind to one of its two dimensions.  Just as the Norse god Wotan traded one of his eyes for a drink from the Well of Knowledge, so we humans have forfeited one of our eyes for a taste of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.  But the lesson of Feynman’s theory — which strikingly confirms the insights of the Kabbalah — is that this loss is not without remedy.  Time is not irreversible.  The work of rectification, of Tikkun, can and must extend to the past as well as the future.

In our partial blindness, we are no longer able to see by the divine Light by which Adam was able to gaze from one end of the Universe to the other.  This Light was withdrawn from Adam when he was exiled from Eden, but it was later restored to Moses on Mt. Sinai.[43]  That’s because the Theophany on Mt. Sinai forged the Twelve Tribes of Israel into one Soul — the Neshamah — so that they thought with one Mind and spoke with one voice.  The Midrashim tell us that there 600,000 souls present on Mt. Sinai, including the souls of all of the dead and the yet-to-be-born.[44]  So the ability to perceive the quintessential Light is an attribute of Collective Consciousness.

Limited to “one eye”, like the doomed god Wotan or the foolish giant Cyclops, we see only one outcome of events.  Like blind Samson, we are bound to the Wheel of Fate, enslaved to a cruel, whimsical and indifferent goddess of Fortune — who is herself depicted as blindfolded.   While speaking about the concept of Equilibrium earlier in this book, we used the metaphor of our two eyes producing a single vision.  In order to do this, the eyes must turn inward and “face each other”, so to speak, so that their images can be superimposed.  The eyes of a human — unlike the eyes of many animals, such as birds and rodents — are set in the front of the face so that they can operate in this fashion “face-to-face”.  This distinguishing feature of our facial anatomy was critical in our ascent from animal awareness to human Consciousness.

The principle of Equilibrium that’s at work when we superimpose the separate images of our two eyes to make one image is the same principle that allows us to superimpose the many potential paths of a ball in flight and come up with one path.  So Feynman’s “sum over paths” methodology is really just an extension of the concept of Equilibrium.  And just as the two eyes interact “face-to-face” to produce a unitary vision, so must the two poles of Consciousness — the feminine Objective and the masculine Subjective — face each other and perform in unison to compose a unified experience.

“But,” I can hear some of my readers objecting, “isn’t that experience the same regardless of how our Consciousness deals with it?”  In other words, if the slugger Barry Bonds hits the ball and it lands in a kayak in McCovey’s Cove, don’t all the potential paths of that baseball have to add up to that destination, regardless of what we think about it?   Well, yes and no.  Quantum physics teaches us that the Observer (i.e., the Subjective pole) and the Observed (i.e., the Objective pole) are inextricably entangled with each other.  So the event of the ball meeting Barry’s bat at just the right spot to propel it into the kayak doesn’t consist simply of leather meeting wood, but rather it’s composed of leather, wood, air, stadium, San Francisco Bay, etc., all meeting Mind.  There is just no sense in which we can validly say that any event is independent of and external to Consciousness.  The belief in an objective existence external to the Mind is the hallmark of defective perception and the source of all idolatry.

All that being said, we must still suspect that the thoughts of all the people in the ballpark are not going to change the path of Bonds’ homerun in the slightest.  Those thoughts are like 50,000 arrows all pointing pretty randomly in different directions, so they add up to nothing.  But in the instant the ball hits the bat, the crowd spontaneously lets out a great roar, which is heard by the fellow in the kayak, who now starts paddling faster toward the stadium, and — lo and behold — the ball drops into his lap instead of hitting the water six feet further out.  So what goes on in the minds of all the fans in the park — as diffuse and unfocused as they are — nevertheless contributes to the ultimate path of Barry’s dinger.  In fact, all of their observations of the event go into the “sum over paths” calculation that determines where the ball will land.

Consciousness that is not aware of itself, however, is necessarily passive.  As we’ve said before, active human Consciousness differs from passive animal Consciousness because it can “look at itself”.  But there are entire domains of our Consciousness of which we remain unaware, and one of these pertains to what we’re now discussing.  Because of our reflexive belief in the externality of the World, we are not aware of the role our Consciousness plays in shaping Reality.  This inherently idolatrous belief is characteristic of the ego-persona.  The ego regards only the Objective pole as capable of influencing what happens.  To the extent the ego exerts its will to affect events, it regards itself as an object interacting with other objects.

Therefore, all that the ego perceives is rendered a purely objective phenomenon — an externality.  That’s why ego-perception is innately idolatrous.  The Godhead encompasses both the Male and Female principles, both the Subjective and Objective poles of Consciousness.  So the perception of God as someone or something having a purely objective existence is idolatry, regardless of whether we conceive Him as a gray-bearded Father in the clouds or as a statue made of stone.  Since perception is an integral part of Reality, moreover, this externalized conception of the Deity produces a dysfunction in the Godhead itself.  It follows then that the Godhead itself requires the reformation of Tikkun.  Our task in this life involves not only fixing ourselves, but fixing God as well.  God needs us to do something He/She can’t do for Him/Herself.  If you think about it, why else would She/He have created us?


Looking Face-to-Face     

In Wagner’s opera Die Walküre, the gods of Valhalla have become dysfunctional, quarrelsome and mendacious.  The eldest of the immortals, the Earth goddess Erda, has prophesied the decline and fall of Valhalla, the “twilight of the gods”.  The principal Male and Female gods, Wotan and Frika, act at cross-purposes toward the human race.  Frika sees unbending obedience to her conventions as the only path for mankind, and demands unmerciful retribution against any man or woman who offends her.  In this regard, she represents the wrathful severity of the Objective pole of consciousness when it is divorced from its Subjective counterpart.  We have seen this syndrome described in the Kabbalah in terms of the schism between two Sephirot:  the feminine Gevurah, which demands Judgment, and the masculine Chesed, which dispenses Mercy.

As for Wotan, he debases himself in his pursuit of self-aggrandizement, which leads him to betray the universal Soul embodied in the gold of the Rhine maidens.  To this extent, he reflects the classic syndrome of the atomized Male principle which has forfeited its collective character.  Unable to avoid the looming dissolution of Valhalla through his own actions, Wotan realizes that he must rely on Man to restore the Rhinegold.  Moreover, he sees that Man must do this without direction or support from the gods.  To the contrary, Wotan’s human son Siegmund must be not even be protected from the vindictive rage of Frika.  The rectification needed to save the gods of Valhalla must be carried out by a human hero on his own initiative and out of his own free will.  “The free man must create himself,” Wotan declares.

Throughout this book, we’ve been nibbling at the edges of the difficult question of Free Will, but now perhaps we’re finally prepared to meet it head on.  We’ve already established what it’s not.  It’s not some elaborate game set up by God to test Man’s obedience.  That’s the perspective of the implacable goddess Frika, rigidly imposing the pointless exactions of a dissociated Objective consciousness.  To endow humans with Free Will and then punish them for exercising it is the mark of a cruel and sadistic deity.   It reflects the unmitigated fury of an unbalanced force, of one part of the Godhead detached from the whole.  This is the denial of Equilibrium, the negation of Balance.  It amounts to nullifying all the potential paths, all of the various “World lines” of Reality, and decreeing that only one path is the “right one”.

No, Man is not given Free Will so that he might be better trained to be a slave.  Quite the opposite, God needs an independent agent to correct the defects which afflict both Creation and the Creator (for the two cannot be separated).  This is the whole point of the Exodus story.  The crossing of the Red Sea marks a “sea change” in the status of God’s people from slaves to freemen, from God’s creatures to God’s collaborators.  The Exodus signifies the end of humanity’s spiritual bondage, the end of carrying out commands without understanding their ultimate objective.  That’s why it was necessary for Moses and the Twelve Tribes to meet Elohim on Mt. Sinai “face-to-face”, to communicate directly with the Godhead.

It’s not enough that Man unwittingly does the work of Tikkun.  It won’t suffice to have humanity coerced and cajoled to the task by rewards and punishments.  If that were all God needed, He/She could have stopped the process of evolution after it produced dogs and horses.  Rectification can’t be carried out unless its human agents are totally aware of what they are doing and why.  Nor, indeed, can Tikkun be accomplished by Man unless it’s his own idea.  Wagner’s Wotan hit the nail on the head:  The Free Man must create himself.       

It’s axiomatic, however, that our freedom cannot exceed the scope of our awareness.  That which we do not comprehend controls us and circumscribes our liberty.  But as long as our awareness remains tied to the ego-persona and the one-dimensional Time within which it functions, its reach must be severely restricted.  There are limits to what the ego will allow itself to know, limits imposed by the need to maintain the illusion of its insular existence.  There are also limits to what the ego should be allowed to know.  Because ego-perception is tainted, it taints all that it touches.

When Eve ate the fruit of the Tree which allowed her to experience the Hidden Time and its alternate Worlds, she did so with the hope of making herself a goddess, a ruler of universes.  In other words, she sought the apotheosis of herself as an individual.  The ultimate desire of the ego-persona is, always has been, and always will be its own apotheosis.  The ego’s every action can be traced to its unquenchable thirst for immortality, its obsessive denial of Death, which is the inevitable consequence of a Consciousness restricted to mundane Time.  It follows therefore that Eve had already fallen into ego-consciousness when she lifted the forbidden fruit to her lips, and that her experience of the Olam was ego-experience.

Ego-perception is frequently referred to in the Zohar as the “evil eye”.[45]   As the baleful gaze of the Medusa turns everything it beholds to stone, so the eye of the ego transforms all it sees into it lifeless objects.  Such experience takes in only the surface of Reality, never penetrating the shell to reach the kernel.  When, after tasting the fruit, Eve peered into the many Worlds, what she saw there were not the potentials that underpin manifest Reality, but rather objective phenomena — “things”, if you will.  By biting the apple, she overturned the metaphysical applecart, insofar as she transposed negative and positive existence.  While the Olamim are benign when they function as the background of manifest Reality — what we described in the Chapter Four as “negative existence” — they become malevolent when experienced as “things” having an existence in mundane Time.

The objectification of the Olamim transmuted its many Worlds into the Other Side, the diabolic Sitra Ahra, which is the source of all the evil inclinations that beset fallen Man.   Hence the necessity for the Flaming Sword to foreclose further experience of the Hidden Time so long as the ego dominates human Consciousness.  But the Flaming Sword was only “damage control”.  It did not address the metaphysical dislocation caused by Eve’s transgression.  The non-manifestation of the empty Worlds is the necessary conjugate of the manifestation of our World.   Eve’s perception of the many Worlds introduced a contamination — the Sitra Ahra — into the World of manifestation that did not belong there and could not be permitted to remain. 

The purpose of human history is to achieve the rectification of this primeval transgression.  As we shall discuss presently, this cannot be done by destroying the Other Side.  This would destroy our World as well, since the World of the manifest is supported by the many Worlds.  Rather, the Tikkun must be accomplished by restoring the Sitra Ahra to its proper sphere, that being the Hidden Time.   For any occurrence, all potential outcomes eventuate, but only one becomes manifest — that is to say, apprehended by Self-aware Consciousness.  The other outcomes proceed in the Olam, which constitutes an orthogonal axis of parallel Worlds.  Without all the other potential outcomes, the experienced outcome cannot exist.  Yet, somewhat paradoxically, neither can the experienced outcome exist if any of the other outcomes are experienced.  This explains why the dislocation of the Other Side caused by Eve’s transgression cannot simply be ignored or “forgiven”.  Its continuation threatens the metaphysical foundation (Yesod) of existence.  If not rectified, this flaw ultimately dictates that our World will become one of the empty Worlds, and that, consequently, another World of manifestation will succeed our own.

Thus the urgency of the Tikkun.  But if we are to rectify not only our own World, but also the upper Worlds and, indeed, the Godhead itself, where are we to begin?  And how are we to know where the principal defect lies?

These vital questions were addressed by a gathering of Jewish sages (Tannaim) described in the Zohar as the Idra Rabba, the “Great Assembly”.[46]   At the outset of the Great Assembly, the great Tanna Simeon ben Yochai asks:  “How long will we abide in a state of existence supported by one pillar alone?”  It should be pretty clear from what we’ve just been discussing that the “state of existence” Rabbi Simeon is referring to here is ego-experience.  It’s an incomplete mono-reality which shuts out all alternative realities.  This defective state of Consciousness excludes negative existence and thus ignores the myriad potential paths whose sum yields manifest Reality.  In a rectified condition, the World of manifestation must rest upon the foundation of the many Worlds.  But in the defective status which Rabbi Simeon laments, our World is supported solely by the one thread of Reality that registers in our conscious experience.

Such a condition is inherently unstable and unsustainable.  It’s like an edifice that rests upon an incomplete foundation.  The phenomenon that we perceive with our senses is only the outward shell of Reality.  Within the shell of the phenomenon lie the noumena, the “alternate threads” of Reality.  The noumena comprise the kernel that embodies the nourishing content of experience and gives meaning to the phenomenon.  As we’ve mentioned, narrowly phenomenal perception is at the root of idolatry, because it nullifies the inner dimension of the World where true divinity resides.  Rabbi Simeon confirms this in the Idra Rabba, insofar as he follows his denunciation of the “one pillar” mono-reality with a curse upon those who worship graven images.

As an alternate mindset to the phenomenal idolatry he decries, Rabbi Simeon offers the model of the Greater Assembly, of which he declares:  “We are the sum of all.”  His formula of the “sum of all” is of the same tenor as Feynman’s “sum over histories” and represents yet another remarkable instance of how the Kabbalah anticipates the concepts of modern physics.  In this instance, Simeon ben Yochai not only anticipates Feynman’s theory, he goes beyond it.  When he speaks about the “sum of all”, he is also referring to the Sephira of Yesod, which is called “all” because it conveys all the divine Light that enters this World.[47]   The Hebrew word for “all” is kol ֹלכּ, for which the gematria is 50 — the number of the Jubilee Cycle which epitomizes the non-linear Time of the Olam.


Yesod of Olam

Yesod is considered to be the Foundation on which the World (Malkut) rests.  It follows that when Rabbi Simeon in the Idra Rabba alludes to the defective condition of “one pillar”, he is actually referring to a dysfunction of Yesod.  To understand the consequences of this dysfunction, we must first comprehend the nature of Yesod.  Earlier in this chapter, we observed that Yesod is the metaphysical axis that connects the World of manifestation with the many Worlds, aka the Olamim.  In his Proverbs, Solomon defines the role of Yesod:

As the whirlwind passeth, so the wicked is no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation.[48]


  From our discussions in Chapter Four, we recall that the whirlwind is a metaphor for the closing off of mundane Time from the orthogonal “imaginary” Time dimension that links it with Eternity.  In other words, it’s the process by which the Olam is hidden and concealed from our perception.  What’s particularly interesting is that the Hebrew word for whirlwind suphah also signifies the Sea of Reeds, or Red Sea.  This tends to confirm our thesis that the crossing of the Red Sea represents a crucial step in the Tikkun — one which essentially overcomes and reverses the effect of the “whirlwind” and restores the Symmetry of the higher dimensions.  Thus, the Red Sea crossing is a necessary prelude to the coalescence of the Twelve Tribes as one collective Soul on Mt. Sinai.  In order for the Neshamah to unfold, it must have access to the matrix of two-dimensional Time, to the rotund Womb of Malchut.

Yesod is the archetypal phallus that penetrates the Womb of Time.  It “parts of the waters”, in the sense of opening the closed mem of mayim מים.  It’s the same mystical principle that enables the “rod” of Moses to access the orthogonal Time dimension concealed in the “reeds” of the Red Sea.  With access to the Olam thus restored, the phenomena of “evil” disappears — or, as Solomon puts it, “the wicked is no more”.  This is because evil is incidental to the impaired perception sustained by just “one pillar”.  Accordingly, when Pharaoh’s army menaces the Israelites on the shore of the Red Sea, Moses assures his people:  “the Egyptians you have seen today, ye shall see not see them again unto Olam”.[49]   In other words, the restoration of the Olam as a component of Time dissolves the superficial phenomenal existence outside of which wickedness cannot appear.

Getting back to Solomon’s Proverb, the part about the Righteous being an everlasting Foundation requires some Hebrew restoration before we can extract its full meaning.  The Hebrew version reads:  “The Tzaddik is a Yesod of Olam.”   In other words, the Consciousness that characterizes the Righteous Tzaddik is grounded in more than the “one pillar” of ego-centered perception.  It is instead sustained by “Yesod of Olam”, the multiple centers of constellated Consciousness.  The Tzaddik is one who perceives not just the phenomenon of experience — the outcome of Feynman’s “sum over paths” — but also the unrealized potentials that contribute to that “sum”.  The latter we have called the noumena, which reside in the Hidden Time and constitute the source of all meaning.

When the noumena are reintegrated with our experience, our Consciousness is no longer infected with the “evil inclination”, which is the legacy of Eve’s transgression.  No longer is the illumination that flows down to Malkut from the upper Worlds constrained to pass through the narrow one-dimensional “reed” of Mundane Time.   Now Yesod, the channel of supernal Light, is opened to the many Worlds of the Olam, opened to the full Symmetry of the higher dimensions.  The symbol of this reconstituted Symmetry is water, and the noumena which are its essence comprise “living water”.  With the flow of “living water” through Yesod restored, our experience of this World again becomes the experience of Eden.  Ironically, from the standpoint of Objective Reality, the World does not change a whit in this process.  But our perception of the World is entirely transformed.  It is as the poet William Blake observed:  “The Eye altering alters All.”[50]        

If we had any lingering doubts that Blake was a student of the Kabbalah, his allusion to “All” in the latter quote should dispel them.  We have just learned that “All” is a Kabbalist byword for Yesod.  More particularly, “All” connotes Yesod reinvested with its full functionality, in which it integrates “all” of the many Worlds, the “full spectrum” of the paths that go into the “sum over paths”.   Indeed, Yesod’s quality of displaying the “full spectrum” of noumena is the reason it’s frequently called the Rainbow, Qeshet — a metaphor we’ll revisit later in this chapter.

We might say that Yesod is a sort of “spinal chord” connecting the physiological “brain” in mundane Time to the Mind in the Olam.  According to the Bahir, this aspect of Yesod is represented by the shape of the letter nun נ , with its “head” inclining to the left (Binah/Understanding) and its base bending orthogonally to the center (Yesod/Foundation).[51]  When Yesod operates in this fashion, it produces a Consciousness which meshes with the fractal fabric of universal Consciousness.  We can discern a pattern by which Consciousness emerges out of the Olam and ultimately returns there.  We shall see that the same pattern holds true for the physical Universe, which is continuously reverting, through its “black holes”, to the total Symmetry of the many Worlds from which it emerged in the Big Bang.  Therefore, this pattern underpins and links the Objective and Subjective poles of Consciousness and provides the mode by which they may operate “face-to-face”.

Again I can hear my reader grumbling:  “If it were as simple as all this, we’d all have achieved Tzaddik Consciousness a long time ago, wouldn’t we?”  As a matter of fact, I must admit that even the fellow writing this book is not a Tzaddik — so what’s the problem?  Alas, there are, as always, complications.  The Tikkun needed to unveil the Traddik latent within each of us has yet to be completed.  As to nature of that Tikkun, the following story from the Zohar is instructive.[52]

  Rabbi Hamnuna the Venerable was discoursing on the opening words of the Torah:  “In the beginning God created the … ” , Bereshit bara Elohim et …  He noted that here the order of the letters of the alphabet is reversed, since the first two words begin with the second letter bet, while the next two words begin with the first letter aleph.  Rab Hamnuna then went on to explain the reason for this.  Before the Holy One created the World of manifestation, He spent two thousand years contemplating the letters of the alphabet.[53]  As He was preparing to begin, all the letters presented themselves before Him, one by one, in reverse order.  Each letter argued, in turn, that it should have the honor of appearing first in the Creation of the World.  Thus, tav ת (i.e., mundane Time), being the last letter, presented itself before the Holy One and urged Him to place it first in Creation because tav is the concluding letter of Truth Emet.  But the Holy One rejected tav for the premier role because it is also the concluding letter of Death Mavet.  (Interpretation:  Mundane Time is the ultimate arbiter of Truth, since it is the arena in which all potential events are actualized or not.  But, standing alone, the “arrow” of mundane Time must have a terminus, which is Death.)

This process continued, with the Holy One finding one reason or another to deny the leading role to each letter.  The fifth letter to present itself was tzaddi צ , which argued that it was fit to create the World since it is the sign of the Righteous Tzaddikim.  But the Holy One again demurred, declaring that tzaddi must remain concealed lest it reveal the mystery of the creation of the first man Adam.  This mystery is implicit in the very structure of tzaddi צ, which consists of the letter nun נ surmounted by the letter yud י.  The problem is that the two letters are joined in such a way that the nun נ is bent downward to the left, while the yud י is slanted upward to the right.  Being oppositely oriented, the two letters are joined “back-to-back” instead of “face-to-face”.   Therefore, the Holy One concluded, tzaddi צ in its current form is incomplete and hence cannot be the basis of Creation.  He vowed that in the future He would separate the two components of tzaddi and rejoin them face-to-face so that it would then be complete.  He added, however, that the reformed tzaddi of the future was too sublime to be revealed at this juncture.

It’s worth the effort to spend some time parsing out the symbolism of the foregoing story.  Some of it is already familiar to us.  First of all, we know that tzaddi and Tzaddik are attributes of Yesod.  Harking back to Solomon’s Proverb, the Tzaddik is characterized by multi-centered (as opposed to egocentric) Consciousness.  Such constellated Consciousness cannot be supported by a one-dimensional reed-like Yesod, but instead must rest upon a “Yesod of Olam” — which conveys the full spectrum of the many Worlds.  We’ve seen that one of the components of “Yesod of Olam” is represented by the letter nun נ, the “spinal chord” that connects the metaphysical Mind in Binah with the physiological brain in Malkut.  The other component is obviously the Olam itself, the source of Consciousness which connects with the “spinal chord” of nun.  Earlier in this chapter, we learned that the letter yud י , insofar as it resembles a dimensionless point, is a symbol of the Olam in its concealed mode — dissociated from mundane Time.

This dissociated condition of nun and yud is depicted allegorically in the Zohar story by the letters being joined “back-to-back”, rather than “face-to-face”.  In this state, Tzaddi/Yesod is described as being “incomplete”.  Since Yesod is the metaphysical template of Consciousness, it follows that the Consciousness produced by this dissociated condition is likewise incomplete.  It’s incomplete in the sense of having a “blind spot”, a lacuna of sorts.  And that lacuna corresponds to the present “moment”, which disappears like one-dimensional yud from the view of temporal awareness.  In “back-to-back” perception, Time is like the two faces of the Roman calendar god Janus, looking back to the past and forward to the future, but never inward to the present.

This hiatus in temporal perception gives rise to a correlative set of physical phenomena.  In other words, the “gaps” in the Subjective pole of Consciousness are mirrored by “gaps” in the Objective pole — “gaps” which modern physics ascribes to the “quantum limit”.  Quantum theory sets lower bounds — called the “Planck time” and the “Planck distance” — on how minutely Time and Space can be divided.  Therefore, the intervals below the Planck scale constitute “gaps” in the fabric of Space-Time.

The absence of the present moment in dissociated Consciousness translates into the impossibility of a present moment in what that dissociated Consciousness perceives to be “objective Reality”.  In the quantized version of objective Reality, there are no points in Time, only intervals of Time.  As the intervals of Time become smaller, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle demands proportionally higher levels of energy to sustain them.  In order to define a precise moment “now” — in which the temporal interval shrinks to zero — the energy associated with that moment must be infinite.  Since infinite energy is never observed in mundane Time, empirical science considers it impossible, thereby making “now” impossible as well.

Thus, to the eye of ego-perception, the present moment becomes yud diminished to a dimensionless black dot with no interior.  The Zohar addresses this syndrome in its interpretation of a passage from Solomon’s Song of Songs:

I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem … Look not upon me, because I am black.[54]


According to rabbinical tradition, the speaker of these words is the Shechinah, who is the Female aspect of the Godhead present within Creation. Abiding in the eternal “now”, which is absent from one-dimensional mundane Time, the Sheckinah is identified with the collective Soul Neshamah.[55]    The Zohar explains that “I am black,” refers to the letter yud י , because there is no white inside it as there is with other letters.  We know that in this regard yud represents the closing of Time’s interior dimension by egocentric Consciousness, which is the source of all of mankind’s evil inclinations.  It follows that the Shechinah cannot expose Herself to ego-perception.  Hence, the Zohar teaches that “when the wicked appear she envelopes herself and makes herself small, until only a point can be seen of her whole image”.  After the Righteous Tzaddikim appear and accomplish the Tikkun, however, the divine Word will be repaired, and Shechinah will be restored to Her full beauty in the image of the letter heh ה .[56]

We recall that the Shechinah functions as the final heh in the Tetragrammaton יהוה, the “divine Word” which reveals the mystical structure of the Godhead. Once the Shechinah recaptures the fullness of her image as heh, She is prepared for Her marriage with the Bridegroom Zer Anpin, represented by the letter vav ו in the Tetragrammaton.  It is this mystical wedding which reintegrates the Male and Female poles of the Godhead and reestablishes the unity of the divine Name. Therefore, when the Zohar says that the Tikkun must restore the Shechinah to her original form, it is talking about nothing less than the rectification of the Godhead Itself.  This is the great task which God cannot perform directly for Him/Herself, but which requires the work of a Self-conscious being who is free to act independently of God.  The ultimate agent of this work is the Tzaddik, who must emerge out of Creation through his/her own initiative and, in effect, create him/herself.  That’s why the Zohar links the restoration of the Shechinah with the appearance of the Righteous.  The Tzaddik must rectify him/herself in the process of rectifying the Godhead.


Noah the Tzaddik

The Tzaddik’s rectification brings us back to the Zohar’s story about how the letter tzaddi צ will ultimately be reconfigured so that its two elements — nun נ and yud י — are no longer dissociated “back-to-back”, but become integrated “face-to-face”.   As we’ve just learned, we must begin this Tikkun process by restoring the temporal “now” which is the abode of Shechinah.  This is accomplished symbolically by transmuting the letter yud to the letter heh, within which Time’s interior dimension Olam can be accommodated.  Once the full beauty Shechinah is reconstituted in the image of heh, She is reunified with Her Male complement in the image of vav, so that the composite is vav-heh וה .   Next, we must reverse the order of the letters comprising tzaddi so that nun faces vav-heh.  In symbolic terms, this means that the “spinal chord” of nun is oriented toward the Olam — the “dimension of Mind” which is the source of constellated Consciousness.  Moreover, since the letter vav is also the Hebrew conjunction “and”, it serves as the “glue” to rejoin nun with heh.  When we’ve recombined these elements, what we have is נוה , spelling navah, which means both “rest” and “beauty”.

   Drawing upon our prior discussions, we recognize “rest” as the principle of Equilibrium and “beauty” as the complementary principle of Symmetry.  From this, we can infer that the rectification of the Tzaddi/Tzaddik signifies the reassertion of:  (a) the supernal Symmetry of the second Time dimension, and (b) the noumenous content of experience inherent in the “sum over histories”.  This tells us quite a bit, but there’s more to it than that.  The Hebrew word navah is a variant of the root from which the name of Noah is derived.[57]   In fact, the meaning of Noah’s name has frequently been explained by Scriptural commentators in terms of one of the two alternate meanings of navah — “rest” and “beauty”.[58]

Regarding Noah, the Zohar depicts him as the paradigm of Righteousness and, referring to Proverbs 10:25, calls him the “foundation of the World”.  The latter, of course, identifies Noah with “Yesod of Olam”, the metaphysical foundation of the World of manifestation and its link to the many Worlds of unrealized potentials.  Even though Noah was the only Tzaddik around at the time of the Deluge, he nevertheless represents the antithesis of dysfunctional condition of “one pillar” associated with ego-perception.  In the Ark, Noah is united with all of the species of the Earth, and his mission implicitly recognizes that the preservation of humanity depends upon the preservation of the lower forms of Life from which Man evolved.

By the way, this is not some kind of Biblical environmentalism.  Rather, it is a pure application of the “sum over paths” principle.  If Man is, as Prince Hamlet observed, the “paragon of animals”, it’s because he represents the branch of evolution in which Self-conscious awareness — the crowning glory of Creation — manifests itself.   But the principle of Equilibrium informs us that the manifest path of any phenomenon must be supported by all of the potential paths (aka noumena) that never become manifest.  So Noah represents the “phenomenon of Man” — to borrow a phrase from Teilhard de Chardin — fully integrated with the “noumena of Man”, in the sense of the alternate branches of the evolutionary Tree of Life.

 The Deluge is the archetypal event in which a vast domain that had previously been accessible to human Consciousness became “submerged” in the Unconscious.  The legendary “giants” of antediluvian times were able to utilize Collective Consciousness on a limited basis.  That’s how they were able to construct the various “Wonders of the Ancient World” without the help of advanced technology.  But they abused this privilege in their unbridled pursuit of power and dominion over the Earth.  In so doing, they engendered a dangerous metaphysical imbalance in which the judgmental aspect of the Godhead — called Din in Hebrew — became excessively potent and dominant.  This threatened to lead to a catastrophic outburst of divine wrath that would entirely consume the World of manifestation and consign it to the barrenness (Bohu) of the empty Worlds.  To avert this disaster, Adonai decreed that the Souls of individual men should thereafter be thereafter restricted to the second level, Ruach, so that their violent avarice could no longer fuel the expansion of Din in the Olam.

And Adonai said, my Ruach in man shall not promote Din in the Olam.[59]


The upshot of this divine decree was that the ego-persona was no longer able to operate on the third level of the Soul, Neshamah. Yet this loss of access to the collective Soul Neshamah had to be reversible, or else the Tikkun of the World and the Godhead would have become impossible.   So the broken Symmetry of the higher Soul dimension had to be somehow “encoded” in the World of manifestation so that it could someday be recovered and reconstituted.  And this was the purpose of the Deluge and Noah’s Ark.

The Deluge was an unleashing of Chaos (Tohu), which is the only mechanism by which a higher dimensional order can be “folded up” into a lower dimensional Reality.  This “folding” process involves the principle of self-similarity.  When you take a square handkerchief and fold it up in quarters, each of the quarters has the same form as the overall handkerchief.  If the handkerchief were two-dimensional — i.e., it had no thickness, like perfect gossamer — you could go on folding into eighths, sixteenths, thirty-seconds, etc., with each of the folded parts still duplicating the square shape.  After an infinite number of folds, you would reduce the handkerchief to a zero-dimensional “point”, but that point would contain an infinite stack of squares within squares. Such patterns-within-patterns illustrate the principle of self-similarity.  As we’ve mentioned before, a chaotic process is characterized by a special type of self-similar pattern called a fractal.

As an example of how self-similar patterns can “map” a higher dimensional structure into a lower one, imagine trying to flatten a cubical box so that it becomes two-dimensional.  Let’s pretend that the box is made of an elastic material so that its walls can readily expand as you compress the box.  As you push down on the top of the box, its four sides will splay outward and the bottom will expand until you have something that resembles Figure 5a.  The box top will now appear as a square within a larger square formed by the bottom of the box.  Thus, when we compress a three dimensional cube into two dimensions, we produce a simple self-similar pattern of a “square within a square”.   

Actually, from the three-dimensional standpoint, there are five “squares” within the larger square of Figure 5a, because each of the four trapezoids around the center square is really a square that has been deformed in the process of flattening the box.  From the perspective of the two-dimensional observer in Flatland, however, this would appear to be impossible, and the meaning of Figure 5a would remain inscrutable.  But if a two-dimensional observer in Flatlands could briefly ascend a “watchtower” into the third dimension, he/she would then recognize that the trapezoids are really squares and, when he/she returned to Flatlands, would understand what Figure 5a signifies.   

Although it’s a bit more difficult to imagine, we obtain a similar result if we take a four-dimensional “hypercube” and “flatten” it into a three-dimensional space.  Again we’ll pretend that the material of the hypercube is readily expandable.  As you push down on the top cube of the hypercube, its six cubical sides will splay outward and its bottom cube will expand until you get an object that looks like Figure 5b (bearing in mind that this is a two-dimensional rendering of a three-dimensional object).  The top cube that you pushed down on now appears as smaller cube encased within a larger cube, which is the expanded bottom of the hypercube.  Consequently, when we compress a four-dimensional hypercube into three dimensions, we get another simple self-similar pattern — this time a “cube within a cube”.

From the four-dimensional vantage point, there are actually seven cubes within the large cube of Figure 5b.  The observer in the Olam would recognize that each of the six three-dimensional trapezoids surrounding the central cube is really a cube that has been deformed in the process of “flattening” the hypercube.  We three-dimensional beings, like our cousins the Flatlanders, cannot conceive of what this self-similar pattern represents unless we likewise ascend the watchtower into the orthogonal hidden dimension.  Like the Flatlander, however, we will never climb the tower if we limit ourselves to the realm of what appears “possible” to our limited perception.


Shadows of Chaos

In both of the foregoing cases, the “flattened” structure retains all the information needed to reconstruct the original higher dimensional object.  If we pull up on the top of our flattened cube or hypercube, its elastic material will reform into its original shape.  As illustrated in Figures 5a and 5b, the “flattened” forms of the cube and hypercube can also be thought of as “shadows” of the original structure.  With respect to the higher dimensional information of the original object, shadows can be either transparent or opaque.  From the information contained in any number of ordinary shadows of a person cast on the wall, it’s not possible to reconstruct his/her three-dimensional body.  That’s because the body is opaque to commonplace Light.  On the other hand, complete information sufficient to recreate the human anatomy can be derived from a series of x-ray photographs, because the body is transparent to x-rays.

The Chaos of the World in which we live — the Chaos wrought by the Flood of Noah — is like the self-similar patterns of the crushed cube and hypercube we’ve been discussing.   Until we attain the visionary perspective of the watchtower, the “shadows” cast by the unseen higher dimensions appear inscrutably complex.  They are opaque and impenetrable to egocentric Consciousness.   But when the iron grip of the ego over the psyche slips, the “shadows” become transparent, and the path back to the upper Worlds becomes visible.  Unfortunately, such slippages are, in “normal” people, necessarily quite brief, and hence the experience of the Olam is fleeting.  In order for this experience to persist — which would amount to the restoration of Eden — there must be a Collective Consciousness to sustain it.

In the dominant society of our World, Collective Consciousness is dissociated, which means that, while our individual minds are all united in One Mind, we are totally unaware of that Reality.  Under these circumstances, the individual mind that experiences the Olam over an extended period must itself become pathologically dissociated with respect to the societal norm.  Even Moses as an individual could not have ascended Mt. Sinai and communed with Elohim in the Olam for forty days without the support of the collective Mind of the 600,000 souls that accompanied him.  Once the collective psychic unity was broken by the idolatry of the Golden Calf, Moses had to descend from the mountaintop, and the Tablets of his original revelation were shattered.         

The same can be said of our archetypal Tzaddik Noah.  When the Deluge came, he and his noumenous menagerie could only survive by entering into the Ark, which must be thought of as a four-dimensional “hyper-Ark” compressed into three dimensions.  In fact, in the original Sumerian version of the Flood myth, the Ark has a perfectly cubical shape, so that it precisely replicates a “flattened” hypercube.  The cubical structure of this — excuse the pun — “Ark-type” is associated in mythology with the pagan god Saturn.

As the chief deity of the race of Titans that perished in the Deluge, Saturn symbolizes the higher level of Symmetry that was “submerged” by the chaotic floodwaters.  In the aftermath of the Flood, Saturn was reduced to the image of the aged keeper of mundane Time, carrying his hourglass and the sickle with which he castrated his father Uranus, the god of Chaos.   This same symbolism relates to the cubical Ka’aba stone of Mecca, which in pre-Islamic times was dedicated to Hubal, a god closely identified with Saturn.  According to Islamic lore, the Ka’aba was originally was transparent but became black due to human wickedness.  In a similar vein, Jewish legends link the Noah’s Ark with the “foundation stone” upon which the World is supported.[60]

We recognize the “foundation” as Yesod, the “phallus” that connects our World with the Olamim, the many Worlds of the Hidden Time.  But, as a result of the Deluge, the extra temporal dimension that Yesod embodies must be “folded up” into four-dimensional Space-Time, in the same way a hypercube is flattened into a cube.  When the Tzaddik approaches the task of Tikkun, he/she must find a way to reverse the effect of the Deluge and restore this hidden dimension to Consciousness.  To achieve this, however, the Tzaddik must be able to view and decipher the fractal pattern by which Chaos has inscribed the two-dimensional structure of the Olam onto the one-dimensional “arrow” of mundane Time.

In this endeavor the Tzaddik faces the resistance of the Other Side/Sitra Ahra, which strives through the ego to obscure the supernal fractal pattern.  In effect, the Sitra Ahra acts to render the fractal “shadow” of Chaos opaque.  The effect of ego-perception is to reduce experience to a phenomenal “shell” that renders the Chaotic encryption of the Hidden Time within Yesod inscrutable.  Since stone is the exemplar of opacity, the “foundation stone” is a metaphor for this obscured state of Yesod.  Hence the connection between the cubical stone and Saturn.  When Saturn wields his scythe to emasculate Uranus, he symbolically severs the “phallus” of Yesod and its chaotic linkage to the upper Worlds.  What remains is mundane Time cut off from Eternity — an isolated line of Time that must have an end.  Accordingly, in the wake of the Flood the mythical Saturn of the Golden Age reemerges as the malignant hooded figure of Father Time, aka Death.     

Another example of this same mythic motif is the story of the Titan Prometheus, who was punished for stealing sacred fire from the gods.  Prometheus’ name, meaning “forethought”, alludes to the type of Consciousness that precedes the experience of an event.  He is the personification of an expanded awareness that encompasses all of the noumenous components which make up the “sum over paths”, i.e., the observed phenomenon.  In esoteric tradition, this type of awareness was associated with the liver, which was thought to secrete a “sanguine humour” that maintained sensory Equilibrium.  We have referred to this variety of perception as constellated Consciousness.  The divine fire that enables such super-Consciousness is the infinite energy we’ve referred to as Quintessence — by whose Light Adam saw through the entire Universe.  In the quintessential Light, every stone is transparent, and Chaos’ fractal convolutions are lucid and comprehensible.  Since its energy is limitless, the supernal Light reveals the “now” — the “parting of waters” when the flow of mundane Time halts.

The fate of fabled Prometheus symbolically reflects that of human Consciousness after the Deluge.   The Titan is chained down to a pillar of rock and an eagle continually consumes his liver.   In other words, the active intellect of “forethought” is “chained down” and thus rendered passive.  It is now bound to the shallow phenomenal experience of ego-perception, such that the metaphysical foundation of the World (Yesod) becomes opaque.  A stone is opaque, because the ego-self sees it only as an external object.  When Moses struck the stone with his rod in the desert of Massah, however, it released water,[61]  revealing the living noumenous interior beneath the opaque exterior of phenomenal Reality.  But Prometheus’ capacity to strip away the opacity of Yesod is constantly eaten away by the Qlippot, represented by the eagle that devours his liver.

These mythic underpinnings of the story of Noah suggest that the Tikkun of Yesod essentially involves removal of its opacity.  Regrettably, that’s not achievable by the Light of this World.  The stone becomes transparent only when we restore its lost Symmetry, its higher dimensionality.  But the Symmetry of mundane Light is flawed, because such Light — like all observable matter and energy in the physical Universe — is broken down into discrete quanta and hence is not infinitely divisible.  Thus, the “quantum limit” corresponds to something William Blake called the “limit of opacity”, which restricts the ambit of ego-perception by limiting the range of its illumination.

As we’ve said before, ego-perception is the “evil eye” through which the Qlippot attach themselves to the things of this World and render them opaque.  Thanks to the “limit of opacity”, however, the innermost cores of everyday things are concealed from the “evil eye” and can retain their transparency.  Because the quantum limit requires that there be “gaps” between the smallest allowable intervals of mundane Space-Time, ordinary things are continually flitting back and forth between the manifest World and the “Implicate Order” of many Worlds spanned by the Olam.   During the instants that things spend in the quantum “gaps”, they remain hidden from the “evil eye”.  As Blake expressed it:

There is a Moment in each Day that Satan cannot find

Nor can his Watch Fiends find it, but the Industrious find

This Moment & it multiply. & when it once is found

It renovates every Moment of the Day if rightly placed.[62]


The only medium capable of affording complete transparency is the Quintessence.  Because the divine Light is absolutely integral and not reducible to quantum subunits, it is infinitely divisible (albeit, at the same time, indivisible) and hence perfectly symmetrical.  For that reason, the quintessential Light passes “below the radar screen”, so to speak, of the quantum limit.   This characteristic allows the Quintessence to illuminate the infinite detail of the fractal pattern by which the Olam is “mapped” onto our World.  All forms of observable matter in our Universe are totally transparent to the Quintessence, which means that this ideal Light does not interact in the slightest with the physical things of our World.   It’s intriguing to note that this trait of non-interaction also characterizes the unseen “dark energy” which, in the view of modern cosmology, pervades the Universe and accounts for some 75% of its physical content.[63]


The Light Concealed  

It would appear, then, that the Quintessence is the very instrument we need to dispel the opacity of Chaos and restore the full dimensionality of Yesod.  The quintessential Light literally fits the bill for this task “to the t”, since — thanks to its infinite velocity — it alone can illuminate the present moment, the junction where the Olam meets mundane Time.  Due to its finite speed, ordinary Light can only reveal to us the past, never the present.  If right now I were to look up at the Sun, for example, what I would really see is the image of the Sun as it was about eight minutes ago, because it takes ordinary Light about that long to travel 93 million miles to the Earth.  For the same reason, when we gaze at the distant stars, we’re actually peering millions of years into the past.

Intuitively, however, we know that we do experience the present moment “now”.  This necessarily implies that, somewhere within us, we retain the ability to perceive the supernal Light.  That capacity can not be found in our ego-personas, which would instantly render the divine Light opaque.  Instead, it’s located in the transparent core — or Heart — of our Soul, of which we spoke in Chapter Two.  Each of us, therefore, has this “hidden talent” of insight, enabling us to discern the structure of the higher Worlds — and, indeed, of the Godhead itself — from the chaotic fractal patterns of our World.  The consummate Kabbalist King Solomon tells us as much:

He has also put the Olam in their Hearts, so that Man does not have to figure out the work that Elohim has done from beginning to end.[64]


When Jesus of Nazareth speaks in parables about coins buried in the ground and candles concealed under bushel baskets,[65] he’s really talking about the same “hidden talent” that Solomon is referring to here.   As we’ve discussed before, a chaotic process cannot be “figured out” analytically “from beginning to end”, unless one has infinite time in which to do it.  Consequently, the only way that the fractal pattern of the higher dimensions can become “transparent” to our understanding is if our understanding is illuminated by the supernal Light.  That Light is associated with the Sephirah of Binah, which embodies transcendent Understanding and represents the higher aspect of the Shechinah — the lower being Malkut.   Binah is the source of the supernal Light that flows through Yesod into Malkut, where the Light becomes incarnate as “living Souls”. 

The key element of the Tikkun needed to uncover the concealed Light lies in the process of elevating Malkut to the level of Binah.  Since Binah is the eighth Sephirah upward from Malkut, this process corresponds to the Covenant of Circumcision, which is observed on the eighth day after the birth of a male child.  Symbolically, the ritual of Circumcision removes the covering that obscures the divine Light and thus removes the impediment to its flow into our World through the incarnation of living Souls.  As we’ve discussed, the Qlippot of the Other Side seek to block this flow by attaching themselves to the source of the divine Light which enters Malkut — that source being the archetypal “phallus” Yesod.

According to the Zohar, until the Covenant of Circumcision was introduced, the World of manifestation was dominated by Chaos (Tohu), which was its only foundation.[66]   In other words, the fractal depiction of the Olam in our World remained opaque and inscrutable until the Covenant unveiled the quintessential Light.  The Zohar bases this conclusion on the following passage from Genesis:

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.[67]


The final phase “when they were created” is translated from the Hebrew behibar’am, which is an anagram of beAbraham, “through Abraham”.  We recall that Abraham was the one who received the Covenant of Circumcision from Adonai and, in the process, had his original name Abram expanded by the addition of the letter heh.  The letter heh is equivalent to the number five, which bespeaks the five levels of the World Soul, or Pleroma.

As a matter of fact, the Zohar notes that the word behibar’am can also be rendered as beheh beraam, meaning: “He created them by means of heh.”  Since heh ה stands for both Binah and Malkut — as the second and fourth letters of the Tetragrammaton יהוה — the Zohar is again associating the Covenant of Circumcision with the process of lifting Malkut up to the level of Binah.  This process allows Malkut to be “sweetened” by the attribute of Mercy inherent in Binah, just as the bitter waters of Marah were sweetened by this upper branch from the Tree of Life.[68]  The Covenant thus mitigates the harsh judgmental tendency of the Female in exile from her Male counterpart.[69]

From all this we can infer that the Covenant of Circumcision is intimately tied to the Tikkun of the Godhead in the sense of the reintegration of its Male and Female poles.  The Zohar teaches that the foreskin represents the Qlippot which separate the Holy One from His Shechinah.[70]   It follows that the crucial step in the reintegration of the Godhead is the return of the Shechinah from her Exile in this World.  This return is allegorically portrayed in the Exodus story, in which the Shekinah appears as the Knesset Yisrael, the Community of Israel, taken as a collective Body.  When, under the stewardship of Moses, the Knesset Yisrael coalesced into a state of One Mind, the Shechinah emanated from it as a pillar of fire by day and a pillar of cloud by night.  According to the Midrashim, however, the Community of Israel was not able to leave Egypt until the body of Joseph was located and his bones carried with them out of Exile.[71]

We devoted quite a bit of attention to Joseph in the previous chapter.  Since his name is virtually synonymous in the Torah with Righteousness, Joseph is closely identified with the Sephirah Yesod.  Yesod, in turn, is tied to the Covenant of Circumcision, which is the indispensable key to ending the Shechinah’s Exile.  With his “coat of many colors”, Joseph represents Yesod in its Qeshet “Rainbow” mode, encompassing the full spectrum of the many Worlds/Olamim.   Not coincidentally, the Rainbow is also a mystical attribute of the Shechinah, insofar as the full spectrum of its Light includes even the Quintessence.   The Zohar expresses it this way:

Like the firmament it [the Rainbow] is a supernal resplendent glory, a sight of all sights, resembling the hidden one [Shechinah], containing colors undisclosed and unrevealable [i.e., the Quintessence].  Hence it is not permitted to gaze at the Rainbow when it appears in the heavens, as that would be disrespectful to the Shechinah, the hues of the Rainbow here below being a replica of the vision of the supernal Splendor, which is not for man’s gaze.[72]


When the Zohar stipulates that the supernal Light is “not for man’s gaze”, it is referring to the “evil eye” of ego-perception.   Since the Quintessence is not quantized like observable matter and energy, it is not shielded from the petrifying gaze of the ego’s “evil eye” by the limit of opacity.  Once this Light emerges from the Olam into the manifest World, there are no quantum “gaps” into which it can withdraw from view as ordinary Light does.  Accordingly, before the divine Light can enter this World, its portal — the “phallus” of Yesod — must be cleansed of the Qlippot that could otherwise totally obscure it.   Through the Covenant of Circumcision, the Soul’s portal ascends to the level of Binah, where the forces of externality are driven away.   These forces of the Sitra Ahra are able to penetrate the World of manifestation from the Olamim thanks to the atomization of the collective Male principle.  Therefore, the Covenant of Circumcision is designed to undo this atomization so that the Male becomes fit for union with the collective Female, whose emanation is the Shechinah.

The foreskin represents the opaque “covering” of the ego-self that eclipses the Light of the inner Self.  Without the removal of this covering, Man can only relate to the Shechinah as something alien to himself — an externality to be worshipped as an idol.  When She is apprehended as an idol, however, the Shechinah is transformed into a merciless wrathful Fury — the mode in which She descended upon the city of Sodom and immolated it.  This points to the great danger attendant upon the exposure of the divine Light to the profane view of the ego.

As the Zohar states, the supernal Splendor is “not for man’s gaze”.  When the Rainbow appears in the sky and is visible to ego-perception, it augers an impending outburst of divine wrath, such as occurred in the Deluge.[73]    That’s why Elohim chose the Rainbow as the token of Her Covenant with Noah after the Flood.

This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living soul that is with you, for the ages of Olam.[74]


In the phrase, “ages of Olam”, the Hebrew word for “ages” is dorot, which connotes cyclical time.  Elohim sets Her Bow in the obscuring cloud because the complete spectrum of Light, which includes the Quintessence, must be concealed from idolatrous ego-consciousness.  On the other hand, the Zohar teaches that when the Messiah comes, “the Rainbow will appear decked out in resplendent colors which will illuminate the World”.  In other words, the Collective Consciousness embodied in the Messiah will be able to behold the quintessential Light without regarding it as an externality.  At that time, the fractal pattern woven into the chaotic fabric of our World will become transparent to humanity’s expanded Understanding.  By viewing that Rainbow pattern, we will attain knowledge of our whole Selfhood and of the portion of our Soul extending into the higher dimension that is invisible to ego-perception.  Thus it is written:

I will look upon it [the Rainbow] that I may remember the Covenant of Olam[75]


Interpreting this passage, the Zohar says:

This means that God’s desire is constantly for the Bow, and that he who is not visible therein will not enter into the presence of his Master.[76]


But until the Messiah appears, the Rainbow must remain partially hidden among the clouds.  The same mystical metaphor informs the Jewish rituals and taboos surrounding Circumcision and the concealment of the male member.  According to the Zohar and the Midrash, Noah was born circumcised from his mother’s womb.[77]  It’s no accident that the story of the Covenant of the Bow in Genesis is immediately followed the tale of how Noah’s son Canaan was cursed for seeing the naked body of his drunken father.   The latter tale is an allegory indicating that the rectified “phallus” Yesod, through which the supernal Light enter this World, must be protected from the profane view which would expose it to the Other Side.

Hence the taboo against uncovering the male penis, lest Qlippot attach themselves to it.  Such attachment signifies the corruption of the sacred inner dimension, reducing it to an externality and dimming its Light.  If the ego-persona were allowed to peer into this inner realm, which is not protected by the quantum limit, all of the divine Light entering this World would be rendered opaque.  The blockage of this Light would foreclose the conception of Righteous Souls and thus bar mankind’s path into the Olam HaBa, the World to Come.  Without the protection afforded by the Covenant of Circumcision, therefore, the flow of Souls into mundane Time would cease and the restoration of the Pleroma would become impossible.


The Life of the Worlds

Back in Chapter Two, we spent some time dissecting a passage from Ezekiel in which he describes the transparent core of our Being as chashmal, or “amber”.  This is where the supernal Splendor enters our Soul and where the Shechinah takes up her abode within us.  It’s also the seat of “hidden talent” — our visionary capacity, the Chariot on which we can soar to the heights of the Olam and look down on our World.  In the same passage, the prophet relates that he saw a “brightness” nogah in the Chashmal:

As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about.  This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.[78]


The “glory” kavod of Adonai can also be translated as the Presence of the Lord, which is the Shechinah.  And the “brightness” nogah that Ezekiel sees is certainly the quintessential Light, since only that Light can illuminate the Shechinah.  Based on what we’ve discussed thus far, it’s also obvious that the Bow in this vision is Yesod in its “full spectrum” mode, extending beyond the range of mundane Light to encompass the resplendent colors of the Quintessence.  In its analysis of this passage, the Zohar refers to the Rainbow manifestation of Yesod as the “Life of the Worlds”, Chai Olamim.  Let’s try to figure out what this phrase means.

When the “foundation stone” Yesod is based on only “one pillar”, it is tied to one-dimensional mundane Time.  It’s axiomatic that the one-dimensional “arrow” of Time must have an end-point.  As Shakespeare wrote, “Time must have a stop.”  The Bard put these words into the mouth of the dying warrior Henry “Hotspur” Percy for a very good reason:  mundane Time must always terminate in Death.  Ben Franklin’s adage about the certainty of Death and Taxes also comes to mind in this regard.  The terminus of Death is inevitable for all the things of our World … and for the World itself.  Our Earth, so Science tells us, will be swallowed up by the Sun a few billion years into the future.  Some billions of years beyond that, the whole physical Universe will evaporate.

The implacable morbidity of mundane Time has given rise to major problems in the emerging field of “quantum cosmology”, which we mentioned a while back.  Recall that, when we spoke earlier about the four-dimensional “Minkowski Space” envisioned by Einstein’s General Relativity theory, we said that all entities can be described by “World-lines” that have no beginning and no end.  According to quantum theory, however, all things have many potential “World-lines”, each of which has a probability associated with it, as determined by Schrödinger’s Equation.   For the past few decades, physicists have been trying to build a theoretical bridge between quantum theory and General Relativity and make them consistent with each other.  One of the ways of doing this is to apply Feynman’s “sum over histories” methodology to the entire Universe, by integrating the Universe’s myriad potential paths into one manifest “World-line”.   But this is where the terminal quality of one-dimensional Time presents difficult obstacles.

 Any kind of a path or curve can be described by a mathematical function.  If the function is “well behaved” (believe it or not, that’s the mathematical terminology), then the curve it generates is “continuous”, which is to say it has no sharp bends or breaks in it.  All of the points on a continuous curve are “regular points”.  When one integrates over a continuous path, one gets a finite result.  On the other hand, if the function defining a path is not well behaved, the path is not continuous, and some of its points are not regular.  Such points are called “singularities”.  When one integrates over a path with singularities, one gets an infinite result.

The beginning or endpoint of a path is a singularity.  Therefore, when physicists try to compute Feynman’s path integral over universal histories based on one-dimensional Time, the singularities associated with the endpoints generate infinities.  “What’s wrong with an infinite result?” my reader may be asking.  “After all, haven’t we talked about a Quintessence with infinite velocity and a ‘now’ based on infinite energy?”  Well, yes.  But while infinite energy and velocity may contradict what we observe in our Universe, they are not mathematical absurdities.  What’s being calculated by Feynman’s path integral, however, is a probability.  The maximum probability that can be associated with any potential path is one.  If an outcome occurs with a probability of one, it’s an absolute certainty.  An infinite probability has no meaning.   It follows that when a Feynman “sum over histories” calculation yields an infinite result, something is fundamentally wrong.

It turns out that the way out of this dilemma involves introducing a second Time dimension, which Stephen Hawking calls “imaginary Time”.[79]   From our discussion of imaginary numbers in Chapter Four (see Figure 2), we can recognize that the axis of “imaginary Time” must be at right angles (i.e., orthogonal) to the axis of “real Time”.  Clearly, Hawking’s “imaginary Time” is exactly what we’ve been calling the Hidden Time, or Olam, and his “real Time” is what we’ve termed mundane Time.   Hawking notes that the introduction of a second temporal dimension cures the asymmetry that afflicts mundane Time standing alone.  In other words, while “real Time” is a one-way street into the future, one can move either forward or backward in “imaginary Time”. 

Looking at Figure 2, we observe that when we move in either direction — up or down — along the imaginary Time axis, we are standing still on the real Time axis.  This corresponds to what we’ve learned about the Olam.  In the Hidden Time, the temporal flow stops, as in the parting of the Red Sea waters.  The Olam represents a state of perfect Equilibrium, the eternal “now” in which all motion ceases.  It is the condition of rest that is observed on the Sabbath Day, in the Sabbath/Shmittah Year, and ultimately in the Year of Jubilee.  From Figure 2 we can also see that each point on the imaginary axis cuts across every point on the real axis.  This means that every instant in the Olam encompasses every moment in mundane Time — past, present and future, all rolled up into one.

It follows that the imaginary axis — the Hidden Time — is the path over which we can integrate all the potential “World-lines” of mundane Time.  Again referring to Figure 2, we can envision these World-lines as the horizontal lines running parallel to the real Time axis, like so many “parallel universes”.  Insofar as the vertical imaginary axis cuts across all these “parallel universes”, it affords the ideal path over which to perform Feynman’s “sum over histories”.  Like the Rainbow of Noah — whose name derives from the Olam’s attribute of “rest” — the orthogonal Time axis integrates the full spectrum of potential realities, embracing both the phenomenon and its many noumena.  

All well and good, but how does the introduction of a second temporal dimension eliminate the infinite probabilities generated by Feynman’s “sum over histories” as applied to the Universe?   When we graft the Hidden Time back onto mundane Time, we no longer have a one-dimensional temporal arrow, but rather a two-dimensional surface.  While the arrow must have a beginning and an end — “singularities” that generate infinities — a surface can be of the “closed” variety, which has no boundaries.  An example of such a “closed” surface is the surface of the Earth.  There are no beginning or end points on the surface of the Earth, and hence all points on the surface are “regular”, which is to say there are no singularities.

Using the Earth’s surface as a model of two-dimensional Time, we can imagine the latitude lines as representing real or mundane Time and the longitude lines as representing the imaginary or Hidden Time.  Longitude lines emerge from a point at the North Pole, expand as larger and larger circles until they reach the Equator, then shrink again until they disappear into a point at the South Pole.  Similarly, mundane  Space-Time can be seen as beginning from the Big Bang (like the North Pole) and expanding from there to its current state (like the Earth’s Equator) then contracting again to its endpoint in a Black Hole (like the South Pole).  Notice that the evolution of the Universe proceeds in a longitudinal direction, that is, along the axis of the Hidden/imaginary Time.  Thus, all manifest Reality (including thought) emerges out of the Olam and ultimately returns there.  The form the observable Universe displays at any given time is simply a function of its progression through the Hidden Time.

Note that in this model, the beginning and end points of mundane Time at the Earth’s poles are still “regular points”, not singularities.  Since the poles are where all the lines of longitude meet, they contain all of the many Worlds of the Hidden Time in one spot.  Rather than representing a terminus or “death”, as they would in one-dimensional Time, these poles are just the opposite.  They encompass the entire manifest history of the Universe, as well as the potential histories that “sum up” to the manifestation.  They embody what may truly be called the “Life of the Worlds” Chai Olamim, the numenous Rainbow of Ezekiel’s vision.  Upon the unobscured appearance of that Rainbow — which will herald the advent of the Messiah — there will be a new Reality, based on a new Consciousness, in which Death no longer plays a part.


A Moon for the Misbegotten

The Rainbow in its full splendor corresponds to rectified Yesod.  In this mode, Yesod reveals its higher dimensional content and perfectly transmits the quintessential Light of the World to Come.  Metaphorically speaking, we can say that the rectified “foundation stone” becomes transparent.  The Zohar relates this to Ezekiel’s vision of the Chashmal and the Bow, which we have just been discussing with respect to the “Life of the Worlds”.[80]  After describing a firmament above the heads of the four Living Creatures Chayyot, Ezekiel goes on to report:

And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone[81]


Sapphire is a blue gem prized for its pure transparency.  The “sapphire stone” is an apparent reference the Theophany on Mt. Sinai, when Moses, Aaron and the 70 elders of Israel actually ascended the mountain and saw Elohim:

… and there was under his feet the likeness of a pavement of sapphire stone, which was like the very heavens in clearness.[82]


In Hebrew, the phase “a pavement of sapphire stone” is livnat hassaphir, which can also be read “a Moon of sapphire”.   In a commonplace sense, a “blue Moon” occurs when there are two full Moons in a single month.  So the meaning of this unusual image apparently has something to do with the fullness of the Moon.  More imaginatively, we can think of the Moon becoming transparent like a sapphire, in which case it would shine by its own Light rather than by the reflected Light of the Sun.  In interpreting this image, we should also bear in mind that the lower Shechinah (Malkut) is like the Moon, insofar as She shines only by the reflected Light She receives from Yesod and has no Light of Her own.  In the Torah, the Moon is primarily a symbol of the collective Soul of God’s people, which we’ve referred to as the Knesset Yisrael or the Neshamah.[83] 

According to stories related in the Zohar and various Midrashim, the Moon was originally created on an equal footing the Sun, with whom She was united as his Bride.  This primeval unity of the Sun and Moon is a metaphor for the union of the Male and Female principles in the original Symmetry of the World Soul, or Pleroma.  In the beginning, both the Sun and Moon shone by their own Light, which was of the same magnitude.[84]   With the breakup of the Pleroma, however, the Light of the Moon was diminished.  There were several explanations for this.  The Light of the Moon represents the Light that is revealed in God’s Creation, as opposed to the transcendent Light of the Sun.[85]  The fragmentation of the World Soul during the Shevirah (the “Shattering of Vessels”) was reflected on the material plane by the shattering of the primordial Symmetry of the physical Universe.   The ensuing fissure between the Male and Female poles of the Godhead in the upper Worlds was mirrored by the dissociation of mundane Time and the Olam in the lower World.  While mundane Time became associated with the Sun and the solar calendar, the Moon and the lunar calendar became the basis of the sacred festivals (Moedim) of cyclical Time.  The dimming or masking of the Moon’s full Light symbolically relates to the concealed character of the Hidden Time.

The pace of mundane Time is set by the finite velocity of ordinary Light, while the Hidden Time is driven by the infinitely swift Quintessence.  The diminution of the Moon’s Light therefore signifies withdrawal of the Quintessence from the World of manifestation.  Because (as we explained in Chapter Two) the Shevirah also engendered ego-consciousness, the supernal Light had to be hidden from the “evil eye” of ego perception, which would otherwise render it opaque.

Another consequence of the Shattering of Vessels was that a whole host of empty Worlds — devoid of Self-aware Consciousness — emerged as a background of “negative existence” to the foreground of the manifest World.  In these empty Worlds, sparks of the divine Light were trapped and became the energy source for a negative Consciousness, the “evil inclination”.  By finding and extracting these sparks, humanity performs the Tikkun of restoring the full Light of the Moon and of elevating Malkut to the level of Binah.  But this rectification of the Godhead must be performed by Man as a free and independent agent, of his own choice and through his own endeavor.  Since the Moon’s Light is displayed in Creation, however, uncovering the full intensity of that Light would totally reveal the Holy One and thereby preempt mankind’s autonomous effort to formulate His/Her Divinity.[86]

Another way of saying all this is that the World progresses upward the union with the Godhead by a process of trial and error.  At its highest level, the Sephirah Keter, the Tree of Life is like a great generator of random outcomes — the metaphysical equivalent of Schrödinger’s Equation.  When these random outcomes sift down to the level of pure Thought in Chochmah, they include both valid and invalid ideas.  But the differentiation between the two — the proof, that is, of the validity of the ideas — doesn’t come until the corresponding outcomes either eventuate or not in the manifest World.  Total falsehood can’t actualize on its own; manifestation requires at least some element of Truth.  That’s why Jewish folk tales about the creation of golems (artificial men) specify that the last step in activating the golem is to inscribe the word Emet (Truth) on his forehead.[87]

When the invalid outcomes generated by Keter arrive at the level of Reality in Malkut, they fall into the empty Worlds.  The latter are “virtual” universes containing things that fail to break through the surface of Reality into the manifest World because they are never experienced by a Self-aware being.   Human Consciousness, therefore, is final arbiter of Truth and Falsehood.  Through this process of “purging” or Catharsis, Man performs the Tikkun of the Godhead by cleansing Thought of error.[88]  Thus, the work of Creation is a two-way street in which the Creator interacts with Creation and each shapes the other.  In a very real sense, the process of Creation is the process of creating God — a process in which Man plays an indispensable part.     

Consequently, the notion that God creates the World like a watch-maker by “intelligent design”, besides being bad Science, is also bad theology.  Such a deity would have to differentiate between Truth and Falsehood, between valid and invalid outcomes, before Thought ever emerged into Reality.  Hence, the lower branches of the Tree of Life would not even function as part of the Godhead.  There would be a set of “plans” drawn up on high which would dictate in advance all the details of the manifest World.  In this scenario, human Consciousness is reduced to a totally passive receptor of a divinely shaped “objective reality”.  Since it depicts a godhead that is completely external to and independent of human Consciousness, this “fundamentalist” formulation is fundamentally idolatrous.

The “designer god” would be absolutely immutable, not amenable to Tikkun, and explicitly revealed in his Creation.  Man’s relationship with such a god would always be on the level of child-to-parent, of pupil-to-teacher.  Under the reign of such a god, mankind would never cross the Red Sea, never rise to the role of a collaborator in Creation, never advance to the collective unity of the Neshamah, never step beneath the bridal canopy with the divine Bridegroom.

There is indeed a “divine plan”, and that plan calls for Man’s ultimate communion with God on an equal basis.  When the Israelites on Mt. Sinai spoke with one Mind and Spirit, they merged into the collective Soul of Knesset Yisrael (aka Neshamah) and became worthy to become the Bride of the Holy One.  While humanity remains under the pall of ego-consciousness, the Light of the Moon — which is a symbol of the Neshamah — is diminished.  The darkness of the Moon represents the components of our Consciousness which are consigned to the shadows of our Unconscious.  Since our access to the Olam falls within these shadows, our lives our circumscribed by the termini of one-dimensional Time, and we experience Death, in the same way that the Moon passes through its phases to the oblivion of total darkness.     

 With the completion of the Catharsis of Error and the restoration of constellated Consciousness, however, the Moon is symbolically restored to its original luminosity.  Accordingly, the Zohar teaches that the Moon’s defect was removed when the Twelve Tribes merged into the Neshamah on Mt. Sinai, but reverted back when they fell into the worship of the Golden Calf.[89]  While they were encompassed by the Neshamah, the Israelites were immune from the Angel of Death.[90]  This explains why the prophetic promises of the Moon’s restitution are linked to mankind’s ultimate liberation from Death.   At the end of mundane Time, these prophecies foresee the night shining with the brightness of day.[91]  In the words of Isaiah:

And the Light of the Moon shall be as the Light of the Sun, and the Light of the Sun shall be sevenfold, as the Light of the Seven Days, in the Day that Adonai binds up the breach of his people and heals their wound.[92]


On that same eternal Day, the prophet proclaims:

He will destroy on this mountain the covering cast over the faces of all the people, and the veil that is spread over all Nations.

He will swallow up Death in Victory.[93]


The word translated as “Victory” in this passage is actually the Hebrew Netzach, which is the seventh Sephirah of the Tree of Life (See Figure 1).  As we’ve said before, the number seven represents completion, rest and Equilibrium.  Many of the Moedim, or festivals, of the Jewish sacred calendar are based on recurring sevenfold cycles, such as the Sabbath, the Shmittah or Sabbath Year, and the Jubilee Year.   Of course, the weekly cycle of seven days itself is based on the interval of the lunar phases, thus linking Netzach with the theme of the Moon’s end-Time restoration.  This is consistent with the various alternate meanings of Netzach, which include “splendor”, “eminence” and “enduring Life”.   Netzach comes from the verb root natsach, which signifies “to shine brilliantly so as to be visible from afar”.  It is the brightness of the ultimate goal — the “Omega Point” — toward which the human Soul is drawn.  It is the junction of Man and God, where the wholeness of the Pleroma embraces the Oneness of the divine Name Hashem:

On that Day, Hashem shall be One and His Name shall be One.[94]

The restoration of the Moon to its original fullness therefore symbolizes not just the reintegration of human Consciousness, but also the reunion of the Male/Subjective and Female/Objective poles of the Godhead, as represented by the names Adonai and Elohim, repectively.   When these two names merge in the One Name Hashem, then the Tikkun of the Godhead is accomplished.


Curses and Sparks 

Once the Light of the Moon was dimmed, it became subject to the “terminal points” or “singularities” of mundane Time.  The Moon’s infinite aspect had to be covered so that it would appear finite.  Isaiah is talking about the same thing when he envisions God removing the “covering cast over the faces of all the people” in the process of destroying Death.  In both instances, the “covering” corresponds to the Qlippot — the scattered sparks of divine Light trapped in the empty Worlds after the breakup of the Pleroma.

According to the Zohar, the emergence of the Qlippot is a symptom of the diminishment of spiritual Light in the material World (Malkut) associated with the decline of the Moon.[95]   When Elohim created the Moon, She did so by saying:  “Let there be lights me’orot in the firmament of heaven …”[96]   But the defect in the Moon was already revealed in these words by the fact that “lights” me’orot was written “defectively” — that is, without the letter vav with which it is normally spelled.  When written defectively, me’orot  מארת  can also be read as me’erot, meaning “curses”.   Since the Hebrew letter vav represents Symmetry, its deletion from “lights” me’orot signifies the loss of the primeval Symmetry of two-dimensional Time.  Asymmetrical Time provided an opening through which the “curses” — aka Qlippot — could enter the World of manifestation from the empty Worlds into which they fell after the Shevirah.

Humanity’s chief task in the Tikkun is not to destroy the Qlippot, but to rectify them and recover their Light.  Metaphorically speaking, this amounts to curing the Moon’s defect by correcting the defective spelling of “lights” me’orot.  We do this by reinserting the letter vav — which is to say, by restoring the lost Symmetry of the Hidden Time.  When the Qlippot are returned to their natural setting in the Olam, they cease to be malevolent and resume their proper role as the “background” of manifest Reality.  This sounds simple enough, but how exactly do we go about it?

In their efforts to understand the origins of the physical Universe, scientists face a similar problem.  They need to reconstruct the 10-dimensional structure of what existed before the Big Bang based on the meager shreds of information that have survived in our four-dimensional Space-Time.  In doing this, they’ve sifted for clues in something known as the “Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation” — the ghostly remnant of the energy unleashed in the Big Bang.  By analyzing this background radiation, they have had some success in tracing the elements of physical Symmetry back to their original state of unity.  It stands to reason that, in our effort to reconstruct the metaphysical Symmetry that obtained before the Shevirah, we must take a parallel track to that pursued by our scientific colleagues.

The obvious cognate of the Cosmic Microwave Background in the metaphysical sphere is the “negative existence” which constitutes the background of the manifest World.  This is the realm of the Sitra Ahra, or Other Side, which is the abode of the Qlippot.  That’s why Isaiah says that the resting place of Lilith — the Queen of the Qlippot — is Edom, which represents the empty Worlds.[97]  Hence, the “ghost” of the shattered Pleroma is to be found in the sparks of Quintessence that energize the Qlippot.  If we annihilate the Qlippot, therefore, we would eliminate our only hope of reconstructing the World Soul and returning to Eden.  Our Exile would then become permanent and our Earthly condition a perpetual Hell.

Ironically, “fundamentalist” religious fanatics of all flavors — the Christian and Islamic varieties being the most active in our times — who seek to eradicate “evil” are actually pursuing the path of self-destruction.  Because they are idolators, they perceive “evil” as something external to themselves, something they can wage war against and destroy.  They are like Melville’s Captain Ahab, whose obsession with killing the Leviathan stems from his hatred of a part of himself — the “evil” Shadow of his own ego.

Melville’s choice of the Leviathan as the embodiment of the Other Side is firmly grounded in the symbolism of the Bible and the Midrashim.  In Genesis we read of Elohim creating the “great sea monsters” of the Fifth Day.   By now we should recognize the number five as a token of the five levels of the World Soul (Pleroma) and of its fractal structure, as epitomized in the five-sided pentagon.  Thus, Genesis quotes Elohim’s command on the Fifth Day that the waters bring forth “swarms of Living Souls”.[98]  This refers to the collective Soul of Adam, which becomes a “Living Soul” after God breathes into his nostrils the “Neshamah of Life”.[99]

As interpreted by the Zohar, these passages establish a correspondence between the “upper waters” of perfect Symmetry, in which the Souls of the Righteous “swim” like fish, and the “lower waters” of Chaos which is home to the great Leviathan.[100]   While the waters of Chaos can be destructive and malevolent, they incorporate the fractal code which we must decipher in order to reinstate the Symmetry of the “upper waters”.  In this sense, the Fish is an image of the collective Soul restored to its natural element, completely immersed in the spiritual waters which are the source of its Life.  As we mentioned in the Introduction of this book, the Fish is an emblem of the letter nun, which has the numerical value of 50 — the Soul-number five raised to the next level.  Through the number 50, nun is linked to the Jubilee Cycle of 50 years, which is an attribute of the Sephirah Binah.  We’ve also learned in this chapter that nun represents the component of Yesod that connects it with Binah and enables it to convey the supernal Light into our World.       

The Fifth Day also relates to the fifth letter heh, which represents the upper and lower aspects of the Shechinah — the Sephirot Binah and Malchut, respectively.  We’ve learned that the reintegration of the Pleroma requires the Tikkun of the Godhead by elevating Malchut to the level of Binah.  Before this can be done, however, the lower Shechinah must be freed of Her entanglements with the Sitra Ahra.

In the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai tells an expanded version of the story of the Leviathan’s creation on the Fifth Day.[101]  From the fact that the text of Genesis recites that God created the “great sea monsters”, in the plural, Rabbi Shimon infers that a both a Male and a Female Leviathan were made.  But he also notes that the Hebrew plural of “monsters” is written “defectively” as התנינם , without the normal yud י before the final closed mem ם .  From our earlier discussion about the word for “waters” mayim מים , we know that the closed mem alludes to the concealment of  the total Symmetry of the “upper waters” in the “lower water” of the manifest World.  This concealment is necessary so that the Oneness of the Godhead is not exposed to the “evil eye” of ego-perception.

Rabbi Shimon explains that the Male and Female Leviathan are called “great” because they represent the utmost degree of holiness, in which the Oneness of the Godhead is restored in the union of its Male and Female poles.  This union is realized in the Wedding between humanity’s collective Soul — the Neshamah — and the Bridegroom Zer Anpin who personifies divine Symmetry.  The emergence of the Neshamah depends upon Man transcending ego-consciousness through his own efforts — through the Catharsis of Error.  In this trial-and-error process, Man cannot shun the Other Side, as Job did, but rather must engage it and come to know it intimately.  That’s why Moses had to become a member of the household of Pharaoh before he could lead Knesset Yisrael out of exile.  The Pharaoh is the Ahra Sitra incarnate and is actually described as a Leviathan by the prophet Ezekiel.[102]

In Rabbi Shimon’s tale, the Holy One “kills” the Female Leviathan, in the sense that He withdraws her from the World of manifestation.  The Holy One does this for the same reason that He diminishes the Light of the Moon.   The Oneness of the Godhead which the Male and Female Leviathan together would expose cannot be revealed in the World except through the rectified Consciousness of Man.  It’s a revelation that must come from within the human Mind in communion with the Mind of God.  If this Oneness were unveiled in the form of an “objective fact”, like the paired Leviathans, it would be experienced as something external to human Consciousness, an object of idolatry.   (By the way, this explains why scientists have never found empirical evidence of God’s existence, and never will.)

Rabbi Shimon teaches that, before the Female Leviathan was “killed”, the Earth was still among the empty Worlds, the Worlds of Bohu generated by the Shevirah.  In other words, the Female Leviathan had to be withdrawn to the inward dimension of Mind — the Olam — in order to establish the conditions for an independent Self-aware Consciousness to develop on the Earth.  Accordingly, after the Female Leviathan is withdrawn from manifestation, the World of Bohu is said to be transformed into the World of bo hu — literally “it is within” — which signifies the interior presence, or immanence, of divine Symmetry/Oneness in our World.

The lesson that Rabbi Shimon draws from this story is that deepest secrets of the Torah can only be uncovered in the domain of the Leviathan, in the profoundest depths of the waters of Chaos.  He expresses this figuratively by saying that the World of manifestation “hangs from the fins of the Leviathan”.[103]  Manifest Reality cannot exist except through the experience of a Self-conscious being.  Such experience separates the random outcomes generated by Keter into Truth and Falsehood, thereby generating Knowledge.  But, in order for Consciousness to extract Knowledge from an experience, it must get “outside” the experience.  A dog on a very hot day simply experiences the heat.  It doesn’t get outside the experience and extract the information:  “Today is a very hot day.”  This requires Self-awareness.  Because Self-aware Consciousness is absent from all the many Worlds of the Olamim, they are all empty Worlds, containing naught but the vanities of the Other Side.  But, as the tale of the Male and Female Leviathan instructs us, the existence of these Worlds is the necessary predicate of Self-aware Consciousness in our World.  Hence, our Reality “hangs from the fins of the Leviathan”.

The raw material of Reality consists of the entire array of unactualized potentials that make up the fabric of the Hidden Time τ.  This raw material is processed, though the Catharsis of Error, by Self-aware Consciousness and becomes Knowledge revealed in mundane Time t.  The processing of experience involves the synergy of the Mind, which is a metaphysical τ-based system, and the physical neuronal network known as the brain, a t-based system.  As quantum physics teaches, the Truth which emerges from this process remains forever entangled with the Consciousness that extracted it from the myriad possibilities of Schrödinger’s Equation.  To the extent that Self-aware Consciousness extends through the Mind into the Olam, therefore, so does the Knowledge which that Consciousness generates.

It follows that Knowledge does not dissolve with the death of the physical body and brain and will not dissolve even with the end of mundane Time.  Ultimately, the operation of weaving the tapestry of Reality which began in the Olam will return there.  As our Consciousness processes our experience of the earthly Jerusalem, we are actually constructing the heavenly Jerusalem as well.  And when our Consciousness is ready to ascend above the bounds of mundane Time, the heavenly Jerusalem will descend to meet us, just as St. John envisioned it.  At that juncture, the hidden interior dimension — the realm of the Female Leviathan — will unfold, like the petals of the Rose in Dante’s vision of Paradise.  Isaiah’s prophecy about Tyre — yet another moniker for the Sitra Ahra — gives us an important insight regarding this apocalyptic scenario:

And it shall come to pass in that day that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years … And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre … And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord:  it shall not be treasured or laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for ancient covering.[104]


       The seventy years of which Isaiah speaks are the seventy Jubilee Cycles which were ordained to transpire from the entry of God’s people into the Promised Land to their ascent to a higher plane of Being.   But this can occur only after all of the contents of the Other Side — the merchandise of Tyre and the flesh of the Leviathan — have been digested by Self-aware Consciousness and used to fill in the background of manifest Reality.  In the Talmud’s interpretation of this passage, the “ancient covering” recovered from the merchandise of Tyre refers to the secret mystical meanings of the Torah which the reclamation of the Sitra Ahra will disclose.  The deepest secrets of the Torah relate to the restoration of primeval Symmetry, which is why water — the epitome of Symmetry — is viewed as a symbol of the Torah in the Zohar.[105]

According to the Oral Tradition of the Midrashim,[106] the first set of Torah tablets given to Moses on Mt. Sinai were made of sapphire stone.  From our earlier discussions, we recognize in the sapphire stone the model of rectified Yesod, which perfectly transmits the celestial Light from above.  As a consequence of the Golden Calf idolatry, the lettering disappeared from the sapphire tablets and they were shattered.  In their place Moses received tablets of opaque stone.  The transparency of the Truth revealed in the original tablets was now obscured, shrouded in mysteries, and couched in terms of commandments and prohibitions.[107]  Therefore, the central task of the Tikkun before us is the rectification of the Torah itself through the rediscovery of its hidden content.  Metaphorically speaking, we must recover the fragments of the sapphire tablets and recreate their obliterated text.

The track we must follow to accomplish this Tikkun of the Torah is the pathless path of the Leviathan.  We need to submerge ourselves like the Fish in the “lower waters” so that we can discern the fractal pattern which reveals the Symmetry of the “higher waters”.  In doing so, let us follow the steps of the consummate Tzaddik, Joseph the Dreamer, through the 50 gates of the Unconscious.  Our next voyage, in Chapter Six, will take us in the ship of our Imagination from the shoals of mundane Time to the Sea of Jubilee.







[1]  Louis Ginzberg, op. cit., vol. 3, p.92

[2]  Joshua, chapters 3-4

[3]  Ezekiel 10:13

[4]  Joshua 4:6-7

[5]  Joshua 4:16

[6]  Joshua 10:11-12

[7]  Isaiah 11:11-16; Revelation 16:12

[8]  Genesis 2:14

[9]  Gershom Scholem, On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, p. 58 (Schocken, NY 1965)

[10]  Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos, p. 151-162 (Knopf, NY 2004)

[11]  Id., p. 168-171

[12]  Genesis 2:10

[13]  Exodus 26:28

[14]  Zohar I, 1b.  Unless otherwise noted, all references to the Zohar are based on the Soncino 1984 edition.

[15]  According to the Talmud and the Midrashim, the Serpent tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit by telling her that it would empower her to create other worlds.  See Ginzberg, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 72-73

[16]  Genesis 3:22-24

[17]  Genesis 4:1

[18]  Robert Graves, The White Goddess, p. 184-185 (Noonday, NY 1995)

[19]  Ezekiel 32:2

[20]  Matthew 27:28-30

[21]  Robert Graves, loc. cit.

[22]  Plato, Timaeus;  Johannes Kepler, Harmonice Mundi and Misterium Cosmographicum; Nature (Oct. 9,2003)

[23]  Ginzberg, op. cit., vol. 6, p. 40, vol. p. 78-79, 96-98

[24]  See, e.g., Ezekiel 42:16-18; Revelation 21:15-16

[25]  Brian Greene, op. cit., p. 365-371; The Elegant Universe, p. 191-208 (Vintage, NY 2003)

[26]  Michio Kaku, Hyperspace, p. 237-243 (Oxford University, NY 1994)

[27]  Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos, p. 132-139

[28]  Id., p. 505-506

[29]  Isaiah 9:6-7 in the King James version

[30]  Sanhedrin 94a

[31]  Zohar III, 156b

[32]  Bahir 84

[33] Yehuda Liebes, Studies in the Zohar, p. 235-236 (SUNY 1993)

[34]  Genesis 1:3-4

[35]  Ginzberg, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 8, 86;  Zohar I, Bereshit, 31b-32a

[36]  See Chapter One, “Light and Darkness”, and my book Apokalypso, p.219 (AuthorHouse, 2004)

[37]  The scientifically inclined reader may be interested in the following explanation of these propositions. The propagation velocity of any form of electromagnetic energy is equal to the product of its wavelength and its frequency,   c = λν .   If the propagation velocity is infinite, therefore, the frequency of the wave is infinite and its wavelength is zero, which means it’s indivisible (or infinitely divisible, depending on the way you look at it).  The quantum energy of the wave is the product of Planck’s Constant and its frequency,  E = hν .  Hence, an infinite frequency requires infinite energy. 

[38]  Omar Khayyam, Rubaiyat, tr. Edward FitzGerald

[39]  Daniel 5

[40]  Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos, p. 177-184.  For very small objects, like electrons, the contribution of alternate paths is much greater than for macroscopic objects, like baseballs.

[41] Psalms 145:13

[42] Psalm 77:6 (Tanakh), 77:5 (King James)

[43]  Zohar I, 31b

[44]  Ginzberg, op. cit, vol. 3, p. 97, 313; Zohar I, 2a-2b.  The number 600,000 is symbolic.  It is 5 x 12 x 10,000, where 5 are the levels of the Soul, 12 are the components of the Neshamah, and 10,000 is a “myriad”, signifying an indefinitely large number.

[45]  See, e.g., Zohar III, 134a

[46]  Zohar III, 127b-145a

[47]  Bahir 22

[48]  Proverbs 10:25

[49]  Exodus 14:13

[50]  William Blake, “The Mental Traveller”

[51]  Bahir 83

[52]  Zohar I, 2b

[53]  Since one day of the Holy One is one thousand mundane years, two thousand of his years is about three-quarters of a billion mundane years.

[54]  Song of Songs 1:5-6

[55]  Scholem, op. cit., p. 106

[56]  Isaiah Tisby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, vol. I, p. 219-220 (Littman, 1989)

[57]  Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 25:2

[58]  See, e.g., Ginzberg, op. cit., vol. 5, p. 168

[59]  Genesis 6:3

[60]  Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend, Hamlet’s Mill, p. 219-221 (Godine, 1977)

[61]  Exodus 17:1-7

[62]  William Blake, Milton, Book the Second, 35:42-45

[63]  Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos, p. 300-301

[64]  Ecclesiates 3:11; my own translation from the Hebrew.

[65]  Matthew 25:14-30; 5:14-16

[66]  Zohar I, 3b, 24b-25a

[67]  Genesis 2:4

[68]  Exodus 15:22-25

[69]  The Zohar, Rabbi Michael Berg ed., Beresheet A, 216-219

[70]  Id., 434

[71]  Exodus 13:19; Ginzberg, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 181-184

[72]  Zohar I, 71b

[73]  Berg , op. cit., Prologue, 5

[74]  Genesis 9:12

[75]  Genesis 9:16

[76]  Zohar I, 72b

[77]  Zohar I, 59b; Ginzberg, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 146-147

[78]  Ezekiel 1:28

[79]  The discussion that follows is derived from Hawking’s book, The Universe in a Nutshell (Bantam, 2001)

[80]  Zohar I, 71b

[81]  Ezekiel 1:26

[82]  Exodus 24:10

[83]  Rabbi Moshe Miller, Zohar, p. 91 (Fiftieth Gate, Morristown, NJ, 2000)

[84]  Zohar I, 20a; Ginzberg, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 23-24

[85]  Miller, op. cit., p. 102-104

[86]  Id.

[87]  Ginzberg, op.cit., vol. 6, p. 402

[88]  Liebes, op.cit., p. 134-135

[89]  Zohar I, 52a-53a

[90]  Ginzberg, op.cit., vol. 6, p. 44 (fn. 238); Berg, op.cit., Beresheet A, 478

[91]  Psalms 139:12; Revelation 22:5

[92]  Isaiah 30:26

[93]  Isaiah 25:7-8

[94]  Zechariah 14:9

[95]  Berg, op.cit., Beresheet A, 390-394

[96]  Genesis 1:14

[97]  Isaiah 34:14

[98]  Genesis 1:20

[99]  Genesis 2:7

[100]  Miller, op.cit., p. 106

[101]  Id., p. 109-110

[102]  Ezekiel 29:3 and 32:2

[103]  Liebes, op. cit., p. 15-16

[104]  Isaiah 23:15-18;  Liebes, op. cit., p. 122 and 216 (fn. 215)

[105]  Miller, op.cit., p. 100

[106]  Ginzberg, op.cit., vol. 3, p. 118-119

[107]  Scholem, op.cit., p. 68-69