Rabbi Yehuda was in the presence of Rebbe Shimon and asked him, "From what place do Israel receive blessing?"

The Mikdash Melech, commenting on this question, says that "Israel" is the combination of two Hebrew words, "li"meaning "to me", and "rosh", meaning "head", inferring that the People of Israel are the head to G‑d, the first to receive blessing from the level of Atzilut. Israel is a complete spiritual entity…

Furthermore, he points out that the numerical value of "Israel" is 541, the same as the first letters of each of the sefirot. This implies that Israel is a complete spiritual entity. Rabbi Yehuda is asking from which corresponding sefira in Atzilut is blessing generated towards Israel.

Rebbe Shimon answered him, saying, "Woe to the people of the world that are not aware [to take care to perform the mitzvot and learn Torah, which brings blessing to all the world]. People don't see the glory of the King on high.

Modern day science looks at the external reality of this world and tries to explain how it works. This focus on the external leaves a gaping hole in our understanding of reality because it doesn't answer why the world is as it is. This understanding of the internal working of reality is the subject which the Zohar addresses. Being aware of the spiritual makeup of the world means that one becomes aware of the glory of the Creator as reflected in His works. This enables Israel to draw down blessing from within the worlds of Atzilut and Beriya. Rebbe Shimon is bemoaning the misguided focus that people have on reality, which results in them not even seeing it, let alone bringing blessing to it.

Come and see. At the time when Israel were found worthy before the Holy One blessed be He and were found with Him, bound to the higher, holy tree that the sustenance of all comes from, they were blessed from that place that gathers all blessing in it.

The word "worthy" (in Hebrew, "zakain") implies merit. It is a spiritual level that results from proper performance of the mitzvot that causes the soul to be refined to the level where it perceives spiritual light. The People of Israel…bring spiritual light and life giving sustenance to all the lower worlds…

The "holy tree" refers to the tree of the sefirot and, specifically, is the sefira of yesod of Zeir Anpin, which is connected to tiferet, called the "higher holy tree". Binding to this tree, through Torah and mitzvot, connects one to this sefira of tiferet, that gathers into itself the abundance from all of the sefirot of Atzilut. When connected properly by the People of Israel through the yesod of Atzilut, they bring spiritual light and life-giving sustenance to all the lower worlds of Beriya, Yetzira and Asiya.

Then they were blessed from that which gathers all blessing in it [the yesod of Imma]. It is the place where [the yesod of Zeir Anpin] is planted and has its roots.

Looking up the tree from the yesod of Zeir Anpin, you can see that it connects the middle line of the sefirot to daat. This in turn connects with the daat of the partzufim of Abba and Imma. The souls have "merit" if they are sufficiently refined to connect with this light, which is the source of blessing.

Then Israel below was blessed from that place from which all those blessings issue forth and are not held back. This is the meaning of the verse, "G‑d will bless you from Zion". (Psalms 128:5)

The inner meaning of this verse is that G‑d, known as His name Havayah, associated the sefira of tiferet, will bless you, the sefira of yesod, called "Zion".

And it is also written, "Like the dew of Mt. Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there G‑d has commanded [in Hebrew, "tziva"]the blessing, life for evermore." (Ps. 133: 3) Like the dew of Mt. Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion…

Dew, in Hebrew "tal", is a metaphor for divine beneficence. This verse is therefore a further confirmation that blessing comes from tiferet/Havayah and descends to the "mountains of Zion", which are the sefirot of netzach and hod - and from there to Zion/yesod. Netzach and hod are associated with G‑d's name "Tziva-ot" because they carry out the will of G‑d. They are above yesod in the tree of sefirot and so are called "mountains".

In describing how dew, in Hebrew "tal", represents divine flow from above, the Zohar explains that the first three letters of the name of G‑d have the numerical value of 39 when they are spelled in full with the letter alef. The divine flow descends in a gentle and vivifying manner, like dew, upon the final letter hei of the name of G‑d when it is properly unified with these higher levels.

Yud = yud, vav, dalet = 10 + 6 + 4 = 20

Hei = hei, alef = 5+1 = 6

Vav = vav + alef + vav = 6+1+6 = 13

Total = 39

Tal = tet, lamed = 9 + 30 = 39

This corresponding gematria is an important secret to meditate on and is learned as part of the "Petach Eliyahu" discourse from page 17a of the introduction to Tikunei Zohar, used to introduce the morning and afternoon prayers in the Sephardi tradition.

"Life for evermore" refers to the abundance flowing from yesod to malchut, called "Olam", meaning both "world" and "evermore".

And that [the sefira of yesod] is what shines into the world [malchut]. This is as written, "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, Elo-him appears." (Psalms 50:2). Peace be within your walls and prosperity within your palaces…

In this next proof text, Zion, related to yesod, is called the perfection of beauty (tiferet). This echoes the statement about Joseph the Tzadik, who is described as handsome and good looking and who represents the sefira of yesod when it properly contains the abundance from tiferet above. Malchut is associated with judgment, as specified by the name Elo-him. Thus the text can be reread as saying "Yesod, containing all the abundance of tiferet, shines into malchut".

The word "appears" in the text means to shine [and is translated as such in English translations of this verse], as is written, "G‑d came from Sinai and rose up from Seir to them; He shone forth from Mount Paran." (Deut. 33:2) And that light, when it shines, lights up all the worlds [of Beriya, Yetzira and Asiya]. And when the light flows from that place [from yesod to malchut] all [the partzufim] are bound together and all are bound in love. All are complete. Then there is completion in each of them - completion and peace above and below, as is written, "Peace be within your walls [above, in Atzilut] and prosperity within your palaces [the three lower worlds]". (Psalms 122:7)


Zohar parashat  Bamidbar, p.118a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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