"In the beginning" Rabbi Eliezer opened [his discourse and said]: "Lift up your eyes on high and see who created these" (Isaiah 40:10)- "Lift up your eyes…" - to what place?

If the verse had just meant to look at the physical, it should have said, "Lift up to the heavens your eyes". Therefore, "on high" here refers to the spiritual realms above. The Zohar therefore asks, "To what place?"

To the place that all eyes are dependent [meaning to where people look to receive their sustenance from].

And what is it? The "opening of the eyes" [malchut].

Malchut is so called because of its being the opening for us to look into the spiritual worlds. We find this idea of malchut being an opening expressed in the verse "This is the gate [in Hebrew, "shaar"] to G‑d, the righteous shall enter." (Psalms 118:20)

The word "shaar" is made of the letters which spell the word "eser", meaning "ten". This is because malchut is the tenth attribute, or sefira, through which one enters to look at and grasp the other nine.

And there you shall know that this Ancient Hidden One [Atik Yomin] stands for inquiry, i.e. "Who" [in Hebrew, 'mi'] created all these?"

In an expansive mode, one is open to feeling the deeper root….

Here the Zohar is referring to bina in its expanded state, when it receives from the partzuf of keter, which is called, the "Ancient Concealed One" (the reason for this name will be explained later). Unlike the partzufim above it, which are too aloof and removed to even begin to ask about, Atik Yomin can be inquired about. In a constricted state of consciousness, people tend to take things for granted, and leave them unquestioned. In an expansive mode, one is open to feeling the deeper root, which doesn't at first meet the eye. This prompts a probing for the depths through inquiry.

The word "these" refers to the plurality of the world of diversity in front of our eyes. This comes from the six directions, which come from the six sefirot of chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, hod, and yesod. The numerical value of the Hebrew word for "these", "eleh", is 36, which is 6 x 6, representing the concept of separation to the fullest extent possible. the spreading out of separation on all sides to the fullest.

And who is this ["mi" - "who"]?

The numerical value of "mi" is 50, hinting to the 50 Gates of Bina. This term of question is from bina, the first sefira that it is possible to ask about.

The one that is called "the end of the heavens" above, that all endures within His jurisdiction.

The "heavens" represent the six sefirot of Zeir Anpin. They are 3 varied pairs of loving-kindness and judgment. The Hebrew word for "heavens", "shamayim", is made up of the words "aish" and "mayim", "fire" and "water"; fire corresponds to judgment and water to loving-kindness (therefore the term "shamayim" is the fusion of fire and water, used to represent Zeir Anpin).

The "edge of the heavens" refers to what is right above Zeir Anpin - bina. All of G‑d's rulership of the world in providence is transmitted through this level.

And since it stands for inquiry, and it is in a hidden path that is not revealed, it is therefore called "mi" ["who"].

The light of bina is concealed within Zeir Anpin, therefore is it called "mi" ("who"), like someone who asks his friend, "who is this one that you spoke about," not having seen or known him.

And there is another below that is called "ma" [Hebrew for "what"].

Opposite the "edge of heaven" above (bina), is the "edge of heaven" below, referring to malchut. Malchut is so called by way of a borrowed term.

Zeir Anpin is the supernal spiritual archetype that man is modeled after….

The six sefirot of Zeir Anpin, who is called "ma" that are clothed in it. Zeir Anpin is called "ma" because the numerical value of "ma" is 45, which equals the word for "man", "adam"; Zeir Anpin is the supernal spiritual archetype that man is modeled after.

But the first one, which is concealed and called "mi", stands for inquiring. And once a person asks and searches…

I.e. he seeks to understand the "upper edge of heaven", bina, and he starts to seek to understand from the lowest level, "ma" - malchut.

…to contemplate [the six sefirot of Zeir Anpin clothed in malchut] and to know [probing deeper to fathom how the six sefirot of Zeir Anpin are themselves just clothing on the six sefirot of bina within them] from level to level till the end of all levels, [he then comes to the realization to say to himself,] "What do you know, what have you contemplated, what have you searched for - for it is all concealed as at first.

One keeps delving deeper and deeper in the worlds above till he reaches malchut of Atzilut. Of course, this level itself is only a beginning and introduction to the worlds above it. But it is called the end of all levels relative to these below it. It is treated as a major cut-off point, because it is the dividing line between the world of Divinity and the worlds of Separation.

The more one really knows, the more he grasps how much infinitely more he doesn't know….

The higher up you go the more you see how each level has concealed within it more and more rungs above. Thus, a person knows that he doesn't understand just as when he first started to learn. This itself is the great kabbalistic principle that the end of all knowledge is to not know, which means simply, that the more one really knows, the more he grasps how much infinitely more he doesn't know.

A parable for this: imagine someone taking a rocket ship to the sun. The closer he gets, the more he sees the sun that much bigger before his eyes (and therefore he realized that it is much more impossible to be contained within his eyes vision).

If so, what do we gain by trying to understand? The more we try to understand, and from this reach a broader knowledge of how we don't understand - the closer we are to G‑d. As in the parable of the rocket ship to the sun. Just like the greatness of the sun is perceived by getting closer to it, so is the greatness of G‑d perceived by drawing closer to Him.

And here lies the test of ego. If a person's seeking of wisdom is for pride, as he learns more and discovers more his ignorance, he will be frustrated and relinquish the quest. But if his motive is pure, this will deepen his humility and draw closer to G‑d. And this is the point of it all, as it says: "The beginning of wisdom is fear of G‑d." (Psalms 111:1)

And concerning this secret, it is written "With what ['mah'] shall I bear witness to you, and to what ['mah'] shall I compare you […oh daughter of Jerusalem]." (Lamentations 2:13) When the Temple was destroyed a voice went out and said: "What ['mah'] shall I bear witness to you?"

When the Temple stood, the light of the six sefirot shined to all in a revealed way. But with its destruction, those lights were taken away.

The above question illustrates that a voice was sent from Zeir Anpin through malchut (mah) warning the people to repent.

Every single day I [the Divine Presence] have born witness to you from days of yore, as it is written, "I set to bear witness for you the heaven and the earth." (Deut. 4:26)

Before the Holy Temple was destroyed, G‑d warned the people to change their ways, lest they cause the receiving of their divine flow to cease.

G‑d…really does want to always give us full blessing and bounty….

Heaven and earth come from Zeir Anpin and malchut. They were brought to witness, because sins caused the divine flow to be withheld from them. G‑d goes out of His way to point this out to us to show that He really does want to always give us full blessing and bounty. Only our own deeds prevent it.

"To what ['mah'] shall I compare you" - in that way have I actually crowned you with holy crowns.

And further says this divine voice to Jerusalem, "and to what [and to 'mah'] shall I compare you" - meaning that when the Holy Temple stood, Jerusalem was a living parable for malchut, and was so called "mah" (as above). Just like malchut above is "crowned" with the six sefirot of Zeir Anpin, thus did G‑d bring down their light to shine down upon and crown the Jerusalem below.

I have made your rulership upon the world.

Through these six crowns shining to you, you were given kingship over the world which exists within six directions.

This is as it is written, "Is this the city Jerusalem of which they said it has all inclusive beauty, the joy of the whole earth?" (Lamentations 2:15)

Jerusalem was world renowned for this special praise. It is indicative of the all-inclusive lights of the six sefirot, that shown upon her. They are so called because all of the world's beauty comes from them. (Being too tenuous, the beauty of the upper three sefirot are generally beyond manifestation).

They call you "Jerusalem built up. Like a city that is attached to her." (Psalms 122:3)

When she is built, she is aligned and attached to malchut, and the supernal lights shine upon her. This gives her all the beauty.

"To what shall I compare you" means that in the same state that you are settled [below], thus is it, as it were, above.

G‑d…leaves the upper spiritual counterpart incomplete as long as we are lacking below….

Out of His great love for humankind, G‑d attached the Jerusalem above to the one below. And as long as the Jerusalem below is in a state of destruction, so is the one above. (Taanit 5)

The Jerusalem above corresponds to malchut. "Lying in ruins" refers to her being estranged from the sefira of tiferet, her sustainer.

Just like now, the Holy Nation in holy hosts does not come to you, [in that on three annual holidays all the Jews came to the Temple, and in exile we can not], thus have I sworn to you that I will not enter [into the Jerusalem] above, until [the Jewish People] enter into Jerusalem [below].

The verse says, "In all their suffering He is suffering." G‑d created man to relate to him, even to the extent that He is there with man at his time of pain. This expresses itself by G‑d not bringing His Presence into the upper Jerusalem until His people enter into their Jerusalem below.

And this is your comfort, since in this way I make you equal in everything. But now, where you are here [in a state of exile - about this can be said,] "Great like waves of the sea is your breakage." (Lamentations 2:13)

The "mah", which is malchut, G‑d makes equal to us below. He leaves the upper spiritual counterpart incomplete as long as we are lacking below. This itself is our greatest comfort, to know that all the worlds above depend upon and are attached to us. G‑d recognizes our problem and comforts us Himself.

And if you say that you don't have endurance and healing - "…who ['mi'] will heal you" (Lamentations 2:13) most certainly.

The light of bina will shine down and heal you.

That hidden supernal level…will heal you and stand you up.

The upper 3 sefirot. In their exalted highness, are mostly concealed. Their lowest member - bina is clothed in tiferet, and tiferet in malchut. Thus all the powers are included in malchut. Even if there are sometimes judgments in malchut, bina can sweeten them. From this comes healing.

"Who" ["mi"] refers to the "edge of heaven above".

"What" ["mah"] - refers to "the edge of heaven below".

Now the Zohar explains how bina is able to sweeten the judgments of malchut. "Mi"-the edge of heaven above - the light of bina, shines into "mah" - the edge of heaven below, malchut. The power of judgment is sourced in a spiritual energy of constriction that conceals light. The manifestation of judgment is as a degree of darkness that malchut's own light cannot dispel. When a greater light graces malchut, the darkness departs and judgment is nullified.

And this was inherited by Jacob [identified with tiferet], who stretches from end to end [i.e. the intermediate six sefirot] - from the first end, which is called "who" ["mi"], to the last "end", which is called "what" ["mah"]. [Why did Jacob inherit this?] Because he stands in the middle.

Being rooted in tiferet, which is between bina and malchut, he inherits these lights from above, and passes them on to below.

And concerning this "who" ["mi"] - bina - created "these" ["eleh"]

As already mentioned, "these" refer to the six sefirot of Zeir Anpin, the intermediate sefirot, which are born from the mother figure, bina.

This ends our series on The Rose, thus far. This series became the basis for the recently compiled "Zohar - translation and commentary" by Peretz Auerbach. Part One is now available as an e-book.]