Friday, January 05, 2007

Shalshelet HaKabbalah, The Filled Nine

ואין חכמה אלא ברכה שנאמר ויברך אלהים את שלמה וכתיב וה' נתן חכמה לשלמה
Sefer HaBahir, verse 3 excerpt

Traditional interpretation: Wisdom is a blessing. It is thus written, "And G-d blessed Shlomah." It is furthernore written (I Kings 5:26), "And G-d gave Wisdom to Shlomah."

The missing 9-letter space of parashah Vayechi:

The purpose of creation and of our being in it is to integrate the worlds of tohu and tikun into a third order of existence much greater than either tohu or tikun of itself. [13]

Then this stone which I have set up as a pillar.
Bereshit 29:22

The Talmud (Yoma 53b) and Zohar tell us that this stone is the foundation of creation, and the stone from which the Holy of Holies and the Temple in Jerusalem are built. Buried in the great abyss, it is called even ha-shetiyah, the foundation stone.

The meaning of the word shetiyah in the phrase even ha-shetiyah is of both Hebrew and Aramaic origin. The Hebrew verb root [1] shin-vav-tav (שות) to place, and the Aramaic word shetiyah [2], to weave, contribute to our understanding of this stone, traditionally representing the foundation of our active existence in the world. Given its importance, what is it telling us to do?

A simple question, of course, begs a complex answer. Parashat Vayeitzei, is in Sefer Bereshit. This sefer is mystically understood to contain the secret of esoteric Torah transmission. This mystical tradition is called shalshelet ha-kabbalah. [3] Shalshelet- [4] is a rare Torah trope (musical cantillation) of which there are only 4 in the entire written Torah. Three of the 4 are in Sefer Bereshit and 1 of the 4 is in Sefer Vayikra. In other words, there is a "set of 3" of this rare trope in Sefer Bereshit, the book of creation, and 1 shalshelet stands alone in Sefer Vayikra. Note that a set of 3 moves to 1 - this will be important later.

Ibn Ezra [5] tells us that truth can be discerned from analyzing "sets of 3" in the story of creation. For example, sheker (falsehood, shin-kuf-reish,שקר) has a digit sum [6] of 6. Emet (truth, alef-mem-tav, אמת) has a digit sum of 9. Similarly, other sets of 3 can be gematrically reduced and analyzed for alignment with falsehood and truth. We will use this tool to analyze Malchitzedek, the first righteous king-priest and the shetiyah of both kehunah and kingship, to discern a truth with which to weave new understanding.

Malchitzedek is found in Torah [7] with the name-unit v'Malchitzedek in the form-structure vav-hey (VH-וה). VH is half the Divine Name YH-VH (יה-וה) and is a kabbalistic reference to the mashiach [8] or mystically, to messianic consciousness. The "vav" of v'Malchitzedek is the V (vav, ו) and "Malchitzedek" is the H (hey, ה) of the VH of YH-VH.

The name-unit has a total gematria of 300. Three-hundred is the value of the first letter (shin, ש) of the word sheker (falsehood). A lie cannot endure without some kernel of truth supporting it. [9] That kernel of truth is the shetiyah of all falsehood in malchut (this world). Here, in this "place", truth may be separated out (recovered) from falsehood. This is a kabbalistic secret of separating challah, the mitzvah of a woman.

Traditionally, the mitzvah of challah is understood to be the tikun (rectification) of the world of chaos (tohu). [10] Vav represents the world of tikun [11], while hey represents the world of tohu [12]. The name-unit v'Malchitzedek, therefore, represents a point-synthesis where integration of both worlds may occur.

The purpose of creation and of our being in it is to integrate the worlds of tohu and tikun into a third order of existence much greater than either tohu or tikun of itself. [13]

As VH, Malchitzedek acts toward this integration by giving Avraham (vav) bread (lower hey) and wine (upper hey) - these foodstuffs pertaining to active understanding [14] of the Torah and its secrets. Malchitzedek is acting (from the world of chaos, hey) as a point of bifurcation (the kernel of truth from the letter shin with a value of 300). This point is each "place" or shetiyah in life where one must pivotally decide whether to walk the path of emet or the path of sheker. In chaos theory, a bifurcation [15] is a point of radical divergence with the potential to reshape the entire world.

Continuing on toward weaving a new world, the digit sum of the name-unit v'Malchitzedek is 3. Three is a factor of both 6 and 9, and the common root of both falsehood and truth. Six, the value of the Hebrew letter vav, represents the Torah of Tiferet [16] (as experienced by a particular level of human consciousness) in the world of tikun. The 3-letter Hebrew root [17] of the word tiferet is tav-pey-reish (תפר), meaning to sew or to connect together in a manner of sewing. Sewing does not necessarily create a seamless unity, although it does create a garment for the divine. Even though a garment is good, it does serve to conceal the divine (hester panim) Seams are also "places" of weakness within a garment where that joined together may become separated or disunified (as Am Yisrael was disunified). Consequently, the Divine Name can become disunified in the Torah of Tiferet and in the world of tikun.

Nine, the value of the Hebrew letter tet (ט), represents the 9th sefirah yesod (יסוד meaning foundation). [18] Yesod is a secret (סוד sod - the Hebrew word for secret) beginning with the Hebrew letter yod (י). Yod has the value of 10. Consequently, the letter tet (with an ordinal value of 9) is really "the secret of a hidden 10". Tradition tells us that the secret of the number 10 is seamless unity among the sefirot "as befits a G-D who is One". [19] Thus, the hidden 10 of tet represents this seamless unity and, importantly, represents wholeness of the Divine Name.

Moreover, while vav represents the Torah of Tiferet, tet represents Torah Temimut (again, as experienced by a particular level of human consciousness), seamlessly whole and complete. The Torah of Tiferet uses the 4th shalshelet which stands alone as 1 in Sefer Vayikra to "sharply focus" the yetzers hara and hatov "for transformation" into the yetzer temimut. [20] The Divine Name becomes reunified in the process of this transformation. In consequence to reunification of the Divine Name, Torah Temimut becomes revealed. The word [21] upon which "the one" shalshelet in Sefer Vayikra rests comes from the 3-letter Hebrew root [22] shin-chet-tet (שחט), meaning to focus sharply for change and transformation. The shalshelet focuses particularly over the letter chet (ח with a chatoteret [23] for unification). The subsequent letter acts as the receiving vessel of that focused. That letter is tet, the letter of seamless truth.

Now, we can understand that while vav is the shetiyah of this world (olam hazeh), tet is the shetiyah to re-creating the world (olam haba), to unifying the Divine Name and to revealing Torah Temimut. The digit sum of the 3 Hebrew letters (mem-mem-alef, ממא) over which each shalshelet of Sefer Bereshit rests is 9 - all of them leading to ONE. One is actualized by weaving together both tohu and tikun, thereby creating the shetiyah of a new world. This is what the even ha-shetiyah is telling us to do.


1. R. Elie Munk, The Call Of Torah, on Bereshit 28:22
2. Yerushalmi, Pesahim 4:1; Ta'anit 1:6; Bavli, Sanhedrin 26b. Psalms 1:3. J. Caro, Shulkhan Arukh: Orah Haim 551:8
rare tropes
5. on Shemot 3:14
integral reduced value
7. Bereshit 14:18
8. Moshe Idel, Studies In Ecstatic Kabbalah, chapter 3
9. Rashi on Bamidbar 13:27
the mitzvah of challah
vav as tikun
hey as chaos
13. Adin Steinsaltz, In The Beginning, Discourses On Chasidic Thought
14. see #10
bifurcation in chaos theory
17. Matityahu Clark, Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew
why 10
The Importance Of Being Earnest
yetzer temimut
22. see #17

main text reposted from January 8, 2005 entry

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