by
Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain, Founder & Spiritual Director
DONMEH WEST


In my other writings I frequently refer to the "two Torahs" of Jewish Kabbalah -- Torah D'Atziluth (the spiritual "Torah of Emanations") and the Torah D'Beriah (the worldly "Torah of Re-Making," or what we now know as the "Old Testament" -- the second of which was given by God as a replacement for the first which he "took back" because of the Sin of the Golden Calf. These play an essential role in Neo-Sabbatian Kabbalah, according to Gershom Scholem, who I will quote presently. But first, let me review the two Torahs themselves.


INTRODUCTION

The Bible actually describes two distinct Torah revelations on Mt. Sinai: the first, described in Exodus 31:18 was literally "inscribed by the finger of God," while the second, in Exodus 34:1-28, was written by the hand of Moses. I'll describe each of these separately in the following paragraphs.

       Torah D'Atziluth. The "first" Torah, (the "Torah of the Emanations") was written directly by the "finger of God" and is described in the passage of Scripture:

"When [Yahweh] had finished speaking with Moses on the mountain of Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God." (Exodus 31:18)

These were the "Tablets of the Testimony" that Moses destroyed when he descended from Mt. Sinai to find the Israelites, and the Egyptian "mixed multitude" with them, engaged in the Sin of the Golden Calf: Because they were written "by the finger of God" they are said to have come from the Kabbalistic realm of Atziluth "supreme emanations" and were intended for the Children of Israel -- now cleansed of the sin of Adam by their refinement in "the iron furnace of Egypt" -- as a manual, so to speak, for their re-entry into Eden -- which is to say, the Kingdom of God.

       Torah D'Beriah. The "second" Torah (the "Torah of Re-Making") was given as a replacement for the first, which God deemed Israel not fully prepared for:

"Moses made his way back down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, tablets inscribed on the front and on the back. These tablets were the work of God, and the writing on them was God's writing . . . . As he approached the camp and saw the calf and the groups [of Israelites and the Egyptian 'Mixed Multitude'] dancing, Moses' anger blazed. He threw down the tablets he was holding and broke them at the foot of the mountain." (Exodus 32:15)

However, after the Israelites repented and Moses prayed, he was given a second revelation from God, but this one written by his own hand:

"Yahweh said to Moses, '[You] put these words in writing, for they are the terms of the covenant I am making with you and with Israel.' [Moses] stayed there with Yahweh for forty days and forty nights, eating and drinking nothing. He [Moses] inscribed on the tablets the words of the covenant." (Exodus 34:27)

The principle difference (as one can find from a study of the scriptures attendant on each) between the first and second Torahs is that sexual prohibitions (including those against incest, male homosexuality, etc.) were not included in the first, but added to the second -- this, of course, because the Sin of the Golden Calf was sexual as well as idolatrous. Some scholars, such as Columbia University's Morton Smith, speculate indirectly that this was the reason Jesus, according to the early "Libertine" (or "Liberated") Christians, not only permitted but actually mandated the performance of those sexual activities (including male homosexuality) that had been forbidden in the Old Testament. (For resources on this, see those pages under "libertines" in Morton Smith's book Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel 0f Mark, Harvard University Press, 1973.)


THE TWO TORAHS OF JUDAISM IN CHRISTIANITY

"Through the [new] Law [of Christ] I am dead to the [old] Law [of Moses], so that now I can live for God." (Galatians 2:19)

The doctrine that mankind becomes "dead to the Law" through the arrived Messiah (i.e. "Christ") by his bringing of a "new" Torah to replace the "old" one previously received by Moses, is generally thought to be a Christian innovation introduced by the Apostle Paul in various of his teachings and writings. (For example, see Acts 6:14, 10:28, 13:39, 15:1-20, 21:20-25; Galatians 2:3-9, 4:30; 2 Corinthians 3:7-14; Romans 7:1-6, 10:3, 4; Ephesians 2:15; Romans 7:16; Hebrews 7:5-9, 8:4-13, 9:8-24, 10:3-9; Colossians 2:14-23; etc.)

But the fact is that this belief is yet one more instance of the Gentile misunderstanding (as well as outright rejection) of the Jewish origins of their Christian faith -- since Paul was doing nothing more than teaching in "Christianity" what had been taught in esoteric Judaism (i.e., Kabbalah, etc.) for countless Jewish generations before him. Take, for example, the ancient, pre-Christian Midrash:

And the Holy One, blessed be He, will expound to [all the Pious] the meanings of a new Torah which He will give them through the Messiah." (Aleph-Bait diR. Akiba, BhM 3:27-29)

and also:

"R. Hizqiya in the name of R. Simon bar Zibdi said: 'The whole Torah which you learn in This World is vanity compared to the Torah of the World to Come." (Eccl. Rab. 11:1)

as well as:

"The Messiah will sit in the supernal House of Study and all those who walk on earth will come and sit before him to hear a new Torah and new Commandments." (Yemenite Midrash pp. 349-50)

and:

"Zerubbabel and Elijah will come in the Messianic age and explain and expound all the secrets of Torah and all that which is crooked and distorted [in its present form]." (Halakhot G'dolot p. 223)

Thus, we see once again how a pre-Christian Judaic teaching becomes lost in and misinterpreted by the later teachings of the Gentile Church Fathers who sought to distance Christianity from its Jewish origins, partly because they were ignorant of them, and partly because they sought to de-Judaize their new religion. Moreover, this presumably "Christian" (but actually Judaic) teaching is clearly related to the "Two Torahs" of Kabbalah -- the "spiritual" Torah D'Atziluth ("Torah of Divine Emanations") which was written directly by the "finger of God" (Exodus 31:18) to prepare the Children of Israel for their return to Paradise, and the second "worldly" Torah D'Beriah ("Torah of Re-Making," or what is now called the "Old Testament") written this time not by God, but by the "hand of Moses" (Exodus 34:1-28) to replace the first "spiritual" Torah rescinded by God because the Israelites, through the sin of the Golden Calf, showed themselves to be unworthy of receiving it.

Finally, without going into too much detail here, there are important implications for our understanding of Islam in the Midrash, quoted earlier, "Zerubbabel and Elijah will come in the Messianic age and explain and expound all the secrets of Torah and all that which is crooked and distorted [in its present form]." This helps to explain passages in the Qur'an which state, for example, "The Jews . . . . change the words [of the Torah] from their right places" (Qur'an, Surah 5:41) Such may well be nothing more than a misunderstanding, by Mohammed and his followers, of Jewish Oral Scripture (e.g., the Talmud, Midrash, etc.) which religious Jews then, as well as now, believed "goes back to the Revelation on Sinai, if not in detail at least in principle" (Abraham Cohen, Everyman's Talmud, p. 146).


SABBATAI ZEVI AND THE TORAH D'ATZILUTH

According to Post-Lurianic Kabbalah, the Messiah, upon his advent, will abrogate the worldly Torah D'Beriah (now called the "Old Testament") and, in its place, reinstate the spiritual Torah D'Atziluth. (Quite probably this is what the Apostle Paul meant when he repeatedly wrote, "we are dead to the Torah-Law through Messiah Jesus.") Likewise, even before his apostasy to Islam, Sabbatai Zevi symbolically did the same by reciting a benediction over heleb (the forbidden fat of the lamb's kidney) -- Baruch atah Adonai, Elohainu Melech ha-olam, matir issurim, "Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who makes the forbidden things permissible" -- and caused ten Israelites to ritually eat it, a practice which remains in force among the Turkish Sabbatians to this day. Thus, the Torah D'Atziluth played, and continues to play, an important role in Sabbatian Kabbalah, about which Scholem writes:

"In the terminology of Lurianic kabbalah, the ultimate manifestation will take place when the configuration called Rachel (which is associated here with the mystery of Sabbatai Zevi) will become filled with the supernal knowledge of the Holy King (namely, Ze'ir 'anpin). Then only will the new Torah [D'Atziluth] of the messiah be revealed. Like the manna in the wilderness, or the dew that descends from the 'Holy Ancient One,' the 'mystery of our Holy Torah, the Torah of Atziluth -- the Torah corresponding to the supernal world of Emanation -- will be given as a reward to those who have believed in perfect faith.

"Without saying so explicitly, Israel Hazzan [a prominent Sabbatian] seems to suggest that the Torah of the 'wilderness' [Torah D'Beriah] is that of the 'Holy One, Blessed Be He' (the 'God of Israel,' corresponding to Tif'ereth in the sefirotic system), whereas the new Torah [D'Atziluth] would be that of the 'Holy Ancient One' [Sefirah Keter, the Primal Cause, from which Sefirah Tif'ereth, the God of Israel, comes forth]. This doctrine is stated explicitly in the [Turkish] Donmeh hymns. Israel Hazzan also identifies the 'true supernal faith' with the 'faith of the supernal Holy Ancient One' and explains that when God leads Israel out of the wilderness, that is, out of the Law of Moses [Torah D'Beriah], he will reveal the Torah D'Atziluth which the messiah would teach them and with which the dead can be resurrected.

"At any rate it is evident that the term 'Torah D'Atziluth' does not refer to an extant Sabbatian doctrine as taught by Sabbatai or Nathan (though this is how the concept was interpreted later by the [Turkish] Donmeh), but to a thoroughly new revelation to be given at the 'ultimate manifestation,' rather like the evangelum aeternum of the Christian spirituals . . . . In his use of the concept of Atziluth, Israel Hazzan is clearly indebted to his teacher Nathan of Gaza." (Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah, Princeton University Press, 1973, pp. 869-870)

Thus, we see not only the scriptural antinomianism of Sabbatian Kabbalah reflected in the "two Torahs" but the radical idea -- later taken up and expanded upon by Yakov Leib (Jacob) Frank -- that Yahweh, the "God of Israel," was not the First Cause, but a product of it -- a concept very similar to that of Christian Gnosticism in which Yahweh, the creator of the world, is said to have been born to Sophia "outside" the Monad (or First Cause), from which he is merely an offspring.


LISTEN TO MY VOICE

       "[The Serpent] had feet but they were cut off." -- Rashi (Genesis 1:14)

Jewish Oral Scripture tells us that Gan Ayden (the Garden of Eden) was populated by far more humanity than only Adam and Eve, as we are accustomed to thinking. It had at least five original inhabitants rather than merely two. These were the first Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:27); the second Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:7, 21); and the Beasts of the Field -- or two-legged, man-like animals (possibly Pithecanthropus Erectus), ruled by a leader named Nachash ("Serpent") who, according to Oral Scripture, "walked on two feet" (Rashi 1:14) until he was cursed by God to "crawl on his belly" (Genesis 3:14) and who was, furthermore, "the most intelligent of the Beasts of the Field Yahweh God had created" (Genesis 3:1). Now we know from Oral Scripture that the Torah existed even before all this was created. For example, we read in Pirke D'Rebbe Eliezer:

"Seven things were created before the world was created. They are: The Torah, Gehinnom, The Garden of Eden, the Throne of Glory, the Temple, Repentance, and the Name of the Messiah." (PDRIII.2B.ii)

From this, we can deduce two things:

  • First, there was a "Torah" by which the original inhabitants of Gan Ayden were governed, and this Torah D'Gan Ayden, as it can be called, actually preceded the first "spiritual" Torah D'Atziluth -- written by the "finger of God" (Exodus 31:18) to return the Israelites, and all those who accompanied them, to that state of Grace wherein they could once again practice the original Torah D'Gan Ayden -- and the second "worldly" Torah D'Beriah (what is called now the "Old Testament") written this time by the "hand of Moses" (Exodus 34:1-28) in order to perfect mankind enough to be able to receive the Spiritual Torah that would, in turn, perfect them enough to receive the first and original Torah D'Gan Ayden, or "Torah of Paradise."
  • Second, we can further deduce from the Oral Scripture of Pirke D'Rebbe Eliezer, quoted above, that since Gehinnom ("hell"), "repentance," and the "name of the Messiah" were created by God prior to His creation of the world and everything in it, He knew in advance that mankind would sin, fall from grace and need to be redeemed by the advent of the Messiah who -- after abrogating the existing Torah D'Beriah and replacing it, for a time, with the Torah D'Atziluth -- would eventually restore the Torah D'Gan Ayden by which all creation was governed in Paradise. But the question then arises, "What were the laws contained in this 'Torah of Paradise,' and how -- if at all -- can we know them?"

There are far-reaching implications to these considerations which I will discuss next, as well as in my weekday-morning Kabbalah Shiur, to which you are all invited.


*   *   *   *

"When [Yahweh] had finished speaking with Moses....he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God....These tablets were the work of God, and the writing on them was God's writing." (Ex. 31:18, 32:16)

I have been discussing the Bible's two distinct Torah revelations on Mt. Sinai: the first, in Exodus 31:18, was literally "inscribed by the finger of God," while the second, in Exodus 34:1-28, was written by the hand of Moses. Now, we know the contents of the second revelation, the Torah D'Beriah, since it comes down to us in what is commonly called the "Old Testament." But the question remains, What was the content of the first, "Spiritual Torah," the Torah D'Atziluth, intended to put the finishing touches to the Community of Israel for their re-entry into God's Kingdom (Eden) for which their sufferings in the Land of Egypt had been an initiation?


BIBLICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE TWO TORAHS OF KABBALAH

Before looking for clues in the Scriptures to answer this question, however, allow me to summarize what we have written so far about the Biblical evidence for each of these two Torahs.

       Torah D'Atziluth. The "first" Torah, (the "Torah of the Emanations") was written directly by the "finger of God" and is described in the passage of Scripture:

"When [Yahweh] had finished speaking with Moses on the mountain of Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God." (Ex. 31:18)

These were the "Tablets of the Testimony" that Moses destroyed when he descended from Mt. Sinai to find the Israelites, and the Egyptian "mixed multitude" with them, engaged in the Sin of the Golden Calf: Because they were written "by the finger of God" they are said to have come from the Kabbalistic realm of Atziluth "supreme emanations" (i.e. the Sefiroth Keter, Hochmah and Binah) and were intended for the Children of Israel -- now cleansed of the sin of Adam by their purging in "the iron furnace of Egypt" -- as a manual, so to speak, for their re-entry into Eden -- which is to say, the Kingdom of God.

       Torah D'Beriah. The "second" Torah (the "Torah of Re-Forming") was given as a replacement for the first, which God deemed Israel not fully prepared for:

"Moses made his way back down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, tablets inscribed on the front and on the back. These tablets were the work of God, and the writing on them was God's writing . . . . As he approached the camp and saw the calf and the groups [of Israelites and the Egyptian 'Mixed Multitude'] dancing, Moses' anger blazed. He threw down the tablets he was holding and broke them at the foot of the mountain." (Exodus 32:15)

However, after the Israelites repented and Moses prayed, he was given a second revelation from God, but this one written by his own hand:

"Yahweh said to Moses, '[You] put these words in writing, for they are the terms of the covenant I am making with you and with Israel.' [Moses] stayed there with Yahweh for forty days and forty nights, eating and drinking nothing. He [Moses] inscribed on the tablets the words of the covenant." (Exodus 34:27)

So we see that the first set of Commandments (which, incidentally, are not identified by any number) are the "work of God . . . .written by his own hand," while the second set (which, we are told, numbered ten) were inscribed not by the "finger of God," but Moses himself. With this in mind, we now turn to an analysis of Scripture to answer our opening question, What was the content of the first, "Spiritual Torah" intended to put the finishing touches to the Community of Israel for their re-entry into God's Kingdom (Eden) for which their sufferings in the Land of Egypt had been an initiation?


THE MESSAGE OF TORAH D'ATZILUTH REVEALED

"When I [first] brought your ancestors out of the Land of Egypt, I said nothing to them, gave them no orders, about [rituals] and sacrifice. These were my only commandments: Listen to my voice, then I shall be your God and you shall be my people." (Jeremiah 7:22)

Thus, the Torah D'Atziluth, God's first divine revelation to the Community of Israel, consisted entirely of "orders" (i.e., Commandments) dealing with how to "listen to [His] voice." For this reason, it is called the Torah of "Supernal Emanations." An analysis of the contents of the Decalogue ("Ten Commandments") reveals exactly what they were.

Ten Commandments in Two Parts

A careful analysis of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1) reveals that they are divided into two sets of five commandments each, as follows:


  1. Thou shall have no gods except me
  2. Thou shall not make carved images
  3. Thou shall not speak the name YHVH your God
  4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy
  5. Honor your [supernal] father and mother [Sefiroth Abba and Imma] so that you may have a long life in the land that Yahweh your God has given you
  6. Thou shall not murder
  7. Thou shall not commit adultery
  8. Thou shall not steal
  9. Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor
  10. Thou shall not covet they neighbor's property


Notice that the first five of these Commandments are "spiritual" and deal with mankind's relationship to God (i.e., the Torah D'Atziluth) while the second five are "mundane" and deal with their relationship to the world. (i.e., the Torah D'Beriah). Moreover, the first five are set apart from the second by the phrase ". . . . so that you may have a long life in the land that Yahweh your God has given you." At the p'shat ("simple") level of interpretation, this phrase deals with the physical "Land of Israel," the literal piece of real estate that the Israelites were about to enter. But in its deeper, Kabbalistic meaning, the "land that Yahweh their God had given them" -- the "Land" they were about to re-enter -- was the Kingdom of Heaven, the "Garden of Eden," from which their ancestors, Adam and Eve, had been expelled and to which, after generations of purification culminating in the "Iron Furnace of Egypt," they were now returning.


THE SPIRITUAL TORAH D'ATZILUTH RESTORED

"When I [first] brought your ancestors out of the Land of Egypt, I said nothing to them, gave them no orders, about [rituals] and sacrifice. These were my only commandments: Listen to my voice, then I shall be your God and you shall be my people." (Jeremiah 7:22)

Thus, the Spiritual Torah -- the Torah D'Atziluth -- which God had given to the Israelites to guide them back to Him after they had been "perfected" in the Iron Furnace of Egypt -- the First Torah which they then showed themselves unworthy to receive by falling into the Sin of the Golden Calf, and which was replaced on the spot by the Second Torah (what is now called the "Old Testament") -- that First Torah, according to the word of God himself, through the Prophet Jeremiah, consisted of one commandment and one commandment only: "Listen to my voice, then I shall be your God and you shall be my people." (Jeremiah 7:22)

All the commandments of the Second Torah, Torah D'Beriah (the "Torah of Remaking"), were subsequently added to the first in order to make the Israelites -- and the "Mixed Multitude" of Egyptians who along with them constituted the total "Community of Israel" -- in order to "remake" them into the perfected spiritual beings they had fallen short of becoming through their purging experience in Egypt so that they may, at a later time, the time of the Messiah, have the Spiritual Torah D'Atziluth restored to them. For this reason, we see in the sacred writings of the Rabbis, the Midrashim, statements such as:

"And the Holy One, blessed be He, will expound to [all the Pious] the meanings of a new Torah which He will give them through the Messiah." (Aleph-Bait diR. Akiba, BhM 3:27-29)

and also:

"R. Hizqiya in the name of R. Simon bar Zibdi said: 'The whole Torah which you learn in This World is vanity compared to the Torah of the World to Come." (Eccl. Rab. 11:1)

as well as:

"The Messiah will sit in the supernal House of Study and all those who walk on earth will come and sit before him to hear a new Torah and new Commandments." (Yemenite Midrash pp. 349-50)

and:

"Zerubbabel and Elijah will come in the Messianic age and explain and expound all the secrets of Torah and all that which is crooked and distorted [in its present form]." (Halakhot G'dolot p. 223 top)

This, according to his prophet, Nathan of Gaza, was the mission and achievement of Sabbatai Zevi: to set mankind free from the confines of the Torah D'Beriah -- the "Old Testament" -- and, by embodying the Talmudic dictum of Mitzvah ha-bah b'avairah, or "fulfilling the Torah by breaking it" -- release from it the Nitzotzot (Holy Sparks) of the Torah D'Atziluth it surrounded, just as a shell surrounds an almond, or a pomegranate its fruit. For this reason Jacob (Yakov Leib) Frank, Sabbatai's spiritual heir and leader of the 18th century Donmeh, would declare:

"Everything that has been done till this day has been done so the seed of the Jews be maintained, and that the Name of Israel not be forgotten. But now there is no more need for following the Torah Commandments or for prayers, but only to listen and do and go on until we come to a certain Hidden Place." (Sayings of Yakov Frank, trans. by Harris Lenowitz, Tree Publications, 1978, p. 20)

So we who follow him and the One who came before him, listen and do and go on towards that Secret Place to which they lead us.




BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES:
| Sabbatai Zevi | Jacob Frank | Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain |
| A Critical Re-Assessment of Sabbatai Zevi |
| Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain's Professions of a Holy Sinner |
AUDIO LECTURES ON NEO-SABBATIAN KABBALAH BY REB YAKOV LEIB HAKOHAIN:
| The Zohar | Vedanta & Kabbalah | The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas |
| The Sponataneous Jesus Lectures | The Holy Qur'an |
| Special Topics |
ESSENTIAL PRINCIPLES OF "YALHAKIAN" NEO-SABBATIAN KABBALAH:
| Knowing the Unknowable |
| A Brief Note on Enlightenment |
| A Neo-Sabbatian Discourse on the Son of God |
| A Primer of "Yalhakian" Neo-Sabbatian Kabbalah |
| Participating in the Continuing Incarnation of God |
| Sabbatai Zevi's 'God of the Faith' | Evolution of the Ego |
| Two Torahs of Kabbalah: Torah D'Atziluth & Torah D'Beriah |
| On the Limits of Antinomianism | The Transformation of God |
| Commentary on the 13th Century "Treatise on the Left Emanation" |
| A Selection of Neo-Sabbatian Quotations Culled from Various Sources |
KABBALISTIC WRITINGS OF REB YAKOV LEIB HAKOHAIN:
| Commentaries on Rabbi Azriel of Gerona's 12th Century Text, "Explanation of the Ten Sefirot" |
| Kabbalistic Genetics of the Holy Seed & Reclaiming the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel |
| A Commentary on the Book of Job | Kabbalah and the Interpretation of Dreams |
| To Die for the People: A Kabbalistic Reinterpretation of the Crucifixion of Jesus |
| The Shemot Shel Katzar Tikkunim: Revealing the Concealed Names of God |
| The Christian Myth of Melchizedek vs. Hereditary Jewish Priesthood |
| The Apocrypha of Jacob Frank | The Tikkun of Raising Animals |
| Appointment in Smyrna: A Neo-Sabbatian Odyssey |
| Sabbatai Zevi and the Mystery of the Red Heifer |
| The Kabbalah of the Hindu Mantra "OM" |
| The Mystery of the Middle Column |
| The Hidden Structures of Water |
| Exegesis on the Rod of Aaron |
| Book of Silence |
POETRY OF REB YAKOV LEIB HAKOHAIN:
|YaLHaK's Garden of Neo-Sabbatian Verses|
ROADMAPS TO GOD:
| Ten Sefirot of Jewish Kabbalah | Sufi Lion of Bektashi Islam |
| Mandala of Tibetian Buddhism | Seven Chakras of Tantric Hinduism |
| Ox-Herding Pictures of Zen Buddhism | Rosarium Pictures of Christian Alchemy |
GENERAL INFORMATION:
| Donmeh West Home Page |
| Schedule of Live Online Classes | Links |
| Join Donmeh West |

 
All original material on this website is ©2004 Donmeh West and may not be reproduced in any manner without written permission.