[This teaching from Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai starts with the words "Come and see" which can be interpreted as an instruction to visualize the Tree of Life" or Tree of the Sefirot at the same time as you are learning. This helps you to understand the relationship between the various parts of the spirit as they are being explained in the text. A representation of the tree of the sefirot is on the home page of our website.]

Come and see. "And he [Pharaoh] had him [Joseph] ride in his second chariot; and they called before him, 'Avrech' [literally, 'Bow the knee']; and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt." What is avrech?

Having explained that the second chariot implies that Joseph, the Tzadik rides, or hovers, like a second vehicle above the vehicle of malchut, Rabbi Shimon now shows how the two are joined by focusing on the word "avrech" and analyses some of its meanings. The knee is the hinge on which the whole body bows to the king…

"Avrech" means connection, implying the connection by which the sun and the moon are joined together.

The sum total of the rays of light sent out by the sun are analogous to the sefira of yesod that collects and focuses these rays and faithfully delivers them to the moon.

The word "avrech" implies the joint in the legs called the "berech", or knee. The knee is the hinge on which the whole body bows to the king. Note the connection between bowing and kingdom, or "Reich", and the word "breeches" for short trousers that are fastened just below the knees. All of the body is made to connect in the proper way to a king, by bowing, bending the knees and lowering the head and body, to indicate subservience to him. In the Mishna Kilayim 7:1 the word is used to describe bending over a branch of a grapevine and planting it in the soil - bending and connecting - causing the flow from the main source to be renewed in the new growth. The sun represents the active aspect of divinity called Zeir Anpin. This aspect is reflected in the moon, the passive, receptive aspect of divinity called Malchut, or Kingdom. In meditative prayer this is represented by the combination of the letters of Havayah and Ado-nai.

All bow in order to receive this place.

The very act of bowing lowers the body over the reproductive organs called yesod.

People express humility by bowing to the source of their sustenance ("the king"), symbolically nullifying their own essence to the one who can sustain them. Another form from the root of the word "avrech" is "beracha", meaning "blessing" or "pool". Here the concept is that bowing nullifies the worshiper making it possible to receive blessing from the "pool" of blessing above. Bowing causes the abundance to flow from the pool to the worshipper.

And he [Joseph] was placed over all the world, and all give thanks to him [for the abundance they receive].

The sefira of yesod "rules over" everything because the essence of every sefira is channeled through it to the sefira of malchut. Malchut therefore reflects only that which it receives from yesod, which is why it can be said that yesod rules malchut.

The example of this was Joseph who collected all the bounty of Egypt and delivered it to the kingdom that distributed it to the famine stricken country in time of need. All gave thanks to him for this.

Therefore everything [that you see in this world] is a [reflection] of a higher secret. Come and see: The Holy One Blessed be He, made the [functioning] of the Kingdom in the [physical] world like that of the heavenly [spiritual] Kingdom. Furthermore everything that is done in the [physical] world stands [in its spiritual form] before the Holy One Blessed be He before it happens [physically]. Our…mundane existence is full of the highest spiritual secrets…

This classic statement is one of the fundamental teachings of the Zohar. This world and the spiritual world are intimately connected. Every act here has repercussions in the spiritual realms and those in turn influence future events. Our everyday life and mundane existence is full of the highest spiritual secrets and hints at how the entire universe is governed. One of the meanings of the root of the word "kabbala" in Hebrew is "parallel", hinting that what we do physically affects the spiritual realms. The logical result from this teaching is that we can cause changes in the spiritual realm that will in turn bring changes in the physical. This is the reasoning behind praying for specific results and doing acts in this world to influence the decision in the spiritual realms regarding the outcome of our prayers.

Come and see; The Holy Kingdom did not receive full dominion [in the physical world] until it was connected through the Forefathers. After the fall…mankind was left with the diminished consciousness of good and evil

After the fall of Adam and Eve from their high level of consciousness of Divine Truth mankind was left with the diminished consciousness of "good and evil" instead of the One Living G‑d. This caused the divine influence to be removed from the world - since what happens below influences above. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, by their single-minded clinging to consciousness of the One G‑d reconnected that level of spirituality to the reality of this world. They are therefore called a vehicle for the Divine. In the language of "sefirotuality", each rectified a particular sefira through which the Divine became increasingly tangible in the physical world - whether by way of miraculous events or through the fabric of their lives as recounted in the various episodes that are recorded in the Torah. This is the reason why their acts and the events surrounding their lives are of such importance in understanding the functioning of the Divine in the physical world.

[This is] because the Holy One Blessed be He made His higher [spiritual] kingdom shine in the secret of the Forefathers.

The secret of the forefathers is that their lives were each an archetype for one of the sefirot through which the Divine can be experienced in a contracted manner. Abraham was chesed, Isaac gevura, Jacob tiferet and Joseph was yesod. Studying their life stories and actions therefore reveals the way in which these sefirot operate and raise the spiritual consciousness of the student to enable him to glimpse at the working of the spiritual worlds as reflected in every day reality.

Zohar, Parashat Miketz p. 197a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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