Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain, Founder & Spiritual Director
As Originally Published in the Jungian Anthology
Modern Jew in Search of a Soul
J. Marvin Spiegelman, ed.
Falcon Press, 1986
C. G. Jung's attitudes toward Kabbalah were extremely favorable. One finds frequent references to its symbols in the Collected Works. (For example, Volumes 9i and 9ii, as well as Volumes 10 through 15, inclusive.) Moreover, he often expressed his admiration for Jewish mysticism in private correspondence with my mentor, James Kirsch, to whom he confided the opinion in private that Kabbalah and Alchemy were approaching the same goals, but from different directions. He gave tangible expression to this admiration, particularly for Lurianic Kabbalah (which I will describe later), in two letters, one to Kirsch and the other to Reverend Erastus Evans. In the first, dated 16 February 1954, he wrote:
"By this I mean the Lurianic stage of the Kabbalah, the breaking of the vessels and man's help in restoring them. Here the thought emerges for the first time that man must help God to repair the damage wrought by the Creation. For the first time man's cosmic responsibility is acknowledged." (Collected Letters, Vol. 2, p. 155)
and on the next day, 17 February 1954, he expressed the same opinion to Rev. Evans by writing:
"In a tract of the Lurianic Kabbalah, the remarkable idea is developed that man is destined to become God's helper in the attempt to restore the vessels which were broken when God thought to create the world. Only a few weeks ago I came across this impressive doctrine which gives meaning to man's status exalted by the incarnation." (Ibid, p. 157)
Given these antecedents it seems appropriate to explore, at least in a primary way, the appearance and meaning of Kabbalistic symbols in the dreams of ordinary Jewish and Non-Jewish men and women to whom I have been privileged to give spiritual direction. Certainly this can be no more than an introductory effort at such an endeavor, given the immensity of the subject matter and the limitations of my capacity. Nevertheless, that is what I propose to do, following a review of some basic Kabbalistic considerations.
The origins of Kabbalah are shrouded in mystery. Its meaning, in Hebrew, is "tradition," and its intention is to contact the Psyche through various spiritual practices as well as an intuitive understanding of the "hidden meaning" of Jewish Written and Oral Scripture. One tradition holds that Kabbalah came out of Egypt with the Israelites at the time of the Exodus:
"The sons of Israel did as Moses had told them and asked the Egyptians for silver ornaments and gold, and for clothing. Yahweh gave the [Israelite] people such prestige in the eyes of the Egyptians, that they gave them what they asked. So they plundered the Egyptians" (Ex. 12:35-36)
The tradition here is that the "plunder" the Israelites took from Egypt was its esoteric wisdom -- represented by the alchemical symbols of "silver and gold" and "clothing" -- originally learned by them from the missionary Sons of Abraham through his Egyptian concubine, Keturah, to whom he gave "gifts", which the Talmud identifies as occult knowledge. Another tradition holds that Abraham was initiated into Kabbalah by the King of Salem, Melchizedek, who was both Noah's son Shem and an inhabitant of the supernal world. (Zev Ben Shimon Halevi, Kabbalah, p. 32).
Yet a third point of view links Hermes Trismegistus to Moses and the so-called "Table of Emerald" (Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism, p. 153). Robert Graves and Raphael Patai cite the belief that Solomon gained his Kabbalistic wisdom from the "Book of Raziel," a collection of astrological secrets cut into sapphire tablets, which was written, according to belief, by God himself and given by the Angel Raziel to Adam at the time of the latter's expulsion from Eden; from Adam it descended to Noah and from him to Abraham to Jacob to Levi to Moses to Joshua and, finally to Solomon. (Graves and Patai, Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis, p. 53). Another belief, recorded by A.E. Waite, is that Kabbalah was created even before the world itself, and that the latter was brought into existence by God joining it to the former. (Waite, The Holy Kabbalah, p. 18). This is confirmed by the 1st century Midrash Pirke D'Rebbe Eliezar as well as other Midrashim. Lastly, Jung considered the Kabbalah a link between the Jewish and Christian consciousness. In a letter to Kirsch he wrote:
"I can call your attention to the extraordinary developments in the Kabbalah. I am rather certain that the sefiroth tree contains the whole symbolism of Jewish development parallel to the Christian idea." (Letters, Vol. 2, p. 155)
Thus, except for what he called the "characteristic difference" between Jewish and Christian positions on the issue of the Incarnation, Jung viewed Kabbalah, and particularly the Ten Sefiroth, as a bridge between the two great polarities of the Judeo-Christian axis. (Incidentally, this "characteristic difference," which undoubtedly existed, may have been reconciled for all time by Jung's monumental exegesis of Christ's Incarnation and Crucifixion in his book, Answer to Job.) In the next section of this Introduction I will review some seminal texts of the Kabbalah and their relationship to our concerns in this essay.
The major works of Kabbalah are too complex and esoteric to discuss thoroughly in this context. However, a brief inventory of them is essential for our later Kabbalistic analysis of dreams. According to Scholem, one of the earliest examples of Jewish mysticism is the fragment of a larger document (probably thirteenth century) written by the Kabbalist Isaac the Blind. It begins:
"In God's right hand were engraved all the engravings (innermost forms) that were destined some day to rise from potency to act. From the emanation of all higher sefiroth they were graven, scratched and molded into the sefira of Grace (Chesed) which is also called God's right hand, and this was done in an inward, inconceivably subtle way." (Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, fn 5, pp. 48-49)
The reference in this ancient work of Kabbalah is to the Ten Sephiroth, about which we will have a separate discussion later. The important point here, however, is the prominence given to the Sephiroth from the very beginning of recorded Jewish Mysticism. This prominence is evident in an even older text, the Sefer Yetzirah, or "Book of Creation," which dates somewhere between the third and sixth centuries. Traditionally, the "Book of Creation" is attributed to the Patriarch Abraham who, having had his revelation, recorded it for posterity. This little book contains only six chapters, the very first of which deals entirely with the Ten Sephiroth. In part, it declares:
"The Sefiroth alone: they are measured by ten without end; the depth of the first and the depth of the last, the depth of good and the depth of evil, the depth above and the depth below, the depth of the east and the depth of the west, the depth of the north and the depth of the south. One Lord, God the Faithful King, rules them all from His Holy dwelling for all eternity . . . Their appearance is like a flash of lightning and their destination is beyond bounds. His words is in them when they go out and when they return. At his command they rush like a whirlwind and bow down before His throne . . . their end is linked to their beginning and their beginning to their end, as the flame is linked to the burning coal. Know, think, and visualize that the Lord is one without second . . . restrain your mouth from speaking and your heart from thinking. And if your mouth races to speak and your heart to think, return to the place about which it is written: ‘And the living creatures rushed out and returned'." (Sefer Yetzirah, Irving Friedman, Trans., 1977)
Another early Kabbalistic text is the Sefer Bahir, or "Book of Brilliance," attributed to Rabbi Nehunia ben Hakana. Like the others mentioned here, it devotes considerable attention to the Ten Sephiroth, but also to such issues as metempsychosis (reincarnation) and the feminine principle of God, as well as to the arcane meaning of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Of all these texts, however, the single most important work of Kabbalah is undoubtedly the Sefer ha-Zohar, or "Book of Splendor." Most probably redacted in the 13th century by the Spanish Kabbalist, R. Moshe de Leon from the earlier oral traditions of its putative author, R. Shimon bar Yochai, the Zohar has the distinction of being the only Kabbalistic text ever adopted into the Jewish canon, in fact ranking even above the Talmud until the mid-17th century when it was believed to have been the cause of the Sabbatian heresy and circumscribed by the rabbis. Among the Kabbalists whom it deeply influenced was the 16th-century Jewish mystic and cosmologist, R. Isaac Luria who used it as the principle foundation for his doctrines of Tzimtzum, Sheviret HaKelim, and Tikkun.
Any discussion of Kabbalah and its use in the interpretation of dreams must be preceded by a description of En-Sof, the Deus Absconditus of Creation. That is exceptionally difficult, since it can only be described by what it is not, except to say that it symbolizes the primordial unity of the cosmos before time and the world began. Yet it is much more; it is the God of Kabbalah, but a God without qualities, without intentionality, without boundaries. En-Sof is not the God to whom one prays. He (and, actually, "It" is a better pronoun) neither hears, nor cares, nor cares to hear. At most one can experience En-Sof in a state of mystic ecstasy (or in dreams), even "cleave" to It through devout practice ("Devequt" in Hebrew), but one can never know It (since there is no-thing to be Known), or commune with It (since there is no-thing to commune with. Gershom Scholem describes En-Sof as follows:
"The God who is hidden in His own self, can only be named in a metaphysical sense and with the help of words which, mystically speaking, are not real names at all. [NOTE: see our lectures on the Unspeakable Name of God.] The favorite formulae of the early Spanish Kabbalists are speculative paraphrases like "Root of all Roots," "Great Reality," "Indifferent Unity," and above all, *En-Sof*. The latter designation reveals the impersonal character of this aspect of the hidden God from the standpoint of man as clearly as, and perhaps even more clearly than, others. It signifies "the infinite" as such; not as has been frequently suggested, "He who is infinite" but "that [i.e., It] which is infinite." (Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, p. 4)
This notion of the infinite, impersonal God-Without-Form is certainly not unique to Kabbalah. One sees it in the Upanishads of Vedanta as "Brahman" (The Upanishads: Vol. 1, pp. 25-106, Swami Nikhilananda, trans., 1977) and in Oriental philosophy as "Tao" (The Tao Teh Ching of Lao Tzu, St. Johns University, 1961). Gnostics describe it as the "Monad" and the Native American Religion calls it the "Great Spirit" (Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions, 1972).
What is unique about the Kabbalistic conception of the Deus Absconditus is the vehicle by which it, as En-Sof, is said to move from formlessness to form, from impersonality to personality, from indifference to caring -- in short, from a state of what is called in physics "quasi-stationary equilibrium" to that of "disequilibrium." That vehicle, of course, is the Tree of the Ten Sefiroth. It represents En-Sof's extrusion into itself as a framework for creation. It is only at this point, when En-Sof manifests itself by emanating through the Ten Sefiroth into consciousness, that "he" or "it" becomes "You" or "Thou."
It is clear from the preceding summary of Kabbalistic works that the central metaphor of Jewish mysticism (as Jung himself recognized) is the Tree of the Ten Sefiroth. Of it, the Book Bahir says:
"What is this tree that you speak of? All the Divine powers are arranged in a series of layers like a Tree, and as a tree brings forth fruit when watered, so do the Divine Powers when charged with the water of God." (In Z'ev ben Shimon HaLevi, Kabbalah, fn 15, p. 8)
And the Babylonian Pirke Hekalot of the sixth century contains the following passage:
"Rabbi Ishmael said: All the Chaverim liken [the Tree] to a man who has a ladder in the midst of his house whereby he can ascend and descend without anyone to prevent him. Blessed art Thou Lord God, who knowest all secrets and art the Lord of hidden things." (ibid, p. 4)
Thus, the immense importance of the Sefiroth in Kabbalah cannot be overstated. Indeed, the Occult Kabbalist, Charles Ponce, writes:
"No matter how much one Kabbalist may differ from another in his theoretical speculations, he will agree that without the concepts of En-Sof and the Sefiroth there is no Kabbalism. He might even add that with these two concepts the whole of Kabbalism may be understood without further commentary. Comprehend En-Sof and you comprehend the meaning of divine being. Comprehend the system of the Sefiroth and you understand the meaning of Being in general. I cannot think of any aspect of Jewish mysticism that does not have as its foundation-stone at least one of these two concepts." (Charles Ponce, Kabbalah, p. 93)
It is not my intention to conduct a comprehensive discussion of the Ten Sephiroth in this section. My purpose in what follows is twofold: First, to convey the immense complexity of the symbols of the Ten Sefiroth; and second, to introduce the reader to them so that he or she will have a basis for understanding their significance in the dreams I will analyze and interpret later.
As might be expected, each of the Ten Sefiroth is an enigma shrouded in a mystery. Almost every student approaching the Tree for the first time feels a vague uneasiness and an inability to grasp what seems to both obvious and elusive at the same moment. In this regard, attempting to understand the Sefiroth produces much the same psychological response as trying to understand a Zen Koan -- that is, what might be called a state of "paradoxical disequilibrium." It is this very state of uneasy consciousness, I contend, that constitutes the first stage of transformation initiated by the Tree and is, therefore, intentional in its frustrating ambiguity.
Briefly, the Tree of the Ten Sefiroth is an imprint of the ten "emanations" of En-Sof -- the formless Monad I have already discussed earlier -- and the thirty-two paths by which it and the Soul descend and ascend into and from the created world of matter. For the Kabbalist, it is not a drawing, it is not a diagram; it is the very *body* of God himself filling every corner of the Universe, including the individual Psyche. In fact, it is often depicted as the primordial man, Adam Kadmon, the Anthropos, with a head, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, heart, phallus, legs and feet. (These are described quite literally in the classic work of Kabbalah, "Shiur Komah," or Measure of the Body.)
The name given to each Sefirah (singular of the plural, Sefiroth) seems vague at first and difficult to grasp. However, their meanings become clearer as one works with them in dreams -- as we shall do later in this essay. At this point, however, I will simply relate their standard descriptions as they are said to emerge from En-Sof in the zig-zag "lightning-bolt" schema:
First, Kether and then, consecutively, Chokmah, Binah, Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Nezach, Hod, Yesod and, finally, Malkuth. This order, in itself, is charged with meaning. Kabbalists use such words as "union" and "birth" to describe the complexities of This Sefirah merging with That Sefirah to produce yet a Third Sefirah. Words like "Mother" and "Father," under certain circumstances, describe specific Sefiroth.
Of immediate interest to our concern with dreams is that the left-hand Sefiroth (Binah, Gevurah and Hod) are identified as "feminine" (as in the "Yin" of Tao), while the right-hand triad (Chokmah, Chesed, and Netzach) are said to be "masculine" (as in the "Yang"). In addition, the Sefiroth of the Center Column of the Tree, for the most part, alternate between the masculine and feminine principles, beginning with "Kether" (masculine) and ending with "Malkuth" (feminine). I will now turn to a discussion of each Sefirah separately.
In a later section of this essay, I will discuss how the Ten Sefiroth relate to C.G. Jung's notion of the "continuing incarnation of God," particularly as it relates to the Christ figure as a symbol of the Archetype of the Redemptive Jew. In what follows, however, I will briefly describe each of the Ten Sefiroth in the order of their emanation from the limitless En-Sof. [NOTE: For a more complete discussion, see Part 1 of my series of lectures, "The Mystery of Zeir Anpin in the Ten Sefiroth."]
(1) KETHER: The "Crown" is the first and highest emanation of En-Sof. It represents the personal God of Creation rather than the impersonal God of Deus Absconditus. It also symbolizes the emergence of the Divine for the first time into the world of matter. Other significant names by which it is identified are: Long Suffering, The Long Face, The Larger Countenance, The Old One, The Ancient One, The Primordial Point, The Ancient of Ancients, The Smooth One, The White Head, The Inscrutable Height, and the Vast Countenance (or Macroprosopus). Interestingly, this Sefirah corresponds to the first Hexagram of the I Ching, "Ch'ien" or "The Creative Principle" which is described as "the source of All, co-extensive with the heavens." (I Ching, John Blofeld, trans., p. 85)
(2) CHOKMAH: The second Sefirah, "Wisdom" is "masculine" (in the sense of being "Yang") and has the attribute of "the Supernal Father." Because it is a conduit of the First Sefirah's divine Will-To-Create it is also called "The Wisdom-Gushing Fountain." According to the Zohar:
"The source of the sea is *one* (Kether) and the current which issues forth from it to [Chokmah], which was formed as a vessel as small as the letter Yod, was called "The Wisdom-Gushing Fountain. Kether, whose eye 'seeth every precious thing,' then cuts out a channel in the earth into which the waters of "The Wisdom-Gushing Fountain" flow and fill up. This channel, or large vessel, He then called "Sea," the third Sefirah, Binah, or 'Understanding.' He finally smites it 'into seven streams'(Isaiah 11:15), the seven remaining Sefiroth." (Zohar: Book of Splendor, Gershom Scholem, Trans. pp. 77-81)
In other words, it is out of the interior relationships of the first three Sefiroth -- the Supernal World of "Atziluth" -- that the remaining seven are created.
(3) BINAH: The third and last Sefirah in the first triad of the Sefirotic Tree (which collectively form the Realm of Atziluth, or the Divine Archetypes) is called "Understanding." Just as Chokmah is "masculine" and the "Supernal Father," Binah is "feminine" and the "Supernal Mother." According to the Kabbalist Ponce, "This Triad of Crown, Wisdom and Understanding symbolizes the three aspects of knowledge. The first Sefirah, the Crown, is 'knowledge;" the second, Wisdom, is the 'knower;' and the third, Understanding, is 'that which is known. In effect, these [first] three Sefiroth might be thought of as one thing, or rather the operation of one thing -- [Divine] Knowledge." (Charles Ponce, Kabbalah, fn. 29, p. 122)
Before anything was, En-Sof is everywhere and in everything. [For a fuller discussion of what follows, see my three online lecture series: 1. "Origin, Theory and Practice of Tikkun;" 2) "Sabbatianism, Tikkun & the Big Bang Theory;" and 3) "Shikrur Elohim: The Liberation of God."] Therefore, to create the world, God must make a space within himself by contracting into and away from himself. This contraction Luria called the "TzimTzum." After it, an "essence" or "fragrance" of En-Sof called "Reshimu" -- that part of itself that holds back from the act of creation -- lingers within the primordial space and sinks to its bottom. En-Sof, in the form of a shaft of light, re-enters the primordial space in an action called, "Hitpashtut." This shaft of light begins creating the Sefiroth, now called "Holy Vessels," which will become containers for the En-Sof to follow. The upper and middle triads are able to contain the light of En-Sof; but the bottom triad, because its vessels are mixed with the negative Reshimu, is less substantial than those above them, and the Sefiroth cannot contain the Light.
At this point, a catastrophe occurs: Luria calls it the "Shevirit HaKelim," or Shattering of the Vessels. That is, the bottom Sefiroth shatter, spewing Holy Sparks of En-Sof (the "Nitzotzot") in all directions. Some return to the Source, but many more fall into the lower depths of the Primordial Space where they become covered over with, and trapped in, the "Evil Shells" or Kelippoth made up of the anti-matter of Reshimu. The imprisoned Nitzotzot are plunged even further down by the added weight of the Kelippoth where they create and enter into all "things," including mankind, in the World of Forms.
Thus, the premundane unity of God, En-Sof, is destroyed by the act of creation. Its fragments, the Holy Sparks are now scattered everywhere and in everything, yearning to return to their former condition of wholeness, but unable to do so because they are trapped in the Evil Shells of the Kelippoth.
Luria now defines Redemption as the consequence of returning En Sof (God) to its former state of unity by reuniting it with its dispersed Sparks, the Nitzotzot. Surprisingly, the leading actor in this drama of repair, or Tikkun, is not God himself, but His creation, mankind. God is among the casualties of the Shevirit HaKelim and, therefore, cannot repair himself. It now falls to mankind to perform the sacramental act of restoring God and, therefore, the universe, to its former state of unity by liberating the Holy Sparks, raising them up, and thereby returning them to En-Sof and its wholeness. It is this remarkable doctrine to which Jung was referring in his letters to Kirsch and Evans quoted at the beginning of this essay. We will now explore the presence of these archetypal, Kabbalistic images in the dreams of modern man. In the paragraphs to follow I will describe each of the remaining seven Sefiroth which "fall," as it were, from out of this first all-important triad -- which the perceptive reader has already intuited bears a striking resemblance to the "Divine Trinity" of Christianity.
"Question the Master of the Dream." -- Reb Abraham Rovigo (1677)
At the beginning of this series I quoted two letters from Jung in which he expresses unconcealed admiration for the doctrines of Lurianic Kabbalah which he had only recently, at the time, come across. Jung was making reference here to Rabbi Isaac Luria and his doctrine of Tikkun (or "Mystical Repair") which is marked with the same signs of profound originality as Jung's own thesis of the "continuing incarnation."
Isaac Luria was the leader of the now-legendary group of 16th-century Kabbalists in Safed, Palestine. Like his colleagues in what has been called "practical" Kabbalah (as distinguished from "speculative" Kabbalah), Luria's overriding concern was with Messianism, the use of Kabbalistic practices for precipitating the Messianic era. Unlike his colleagues, however, whose approach was to catalyze the end of history through theurgic manipulation of future events, Luria directed his efforts in the opposite direction, to the beginnings of the Cosmos rather than to its end. He was convinced that by discovering the laws of the physical universe -- as revealed in the Old Testament and Kabbalah -- and by setting them into mystical practice, one could bring about the redemption of the world. Armed only with the tools of Kabbalah and what he called "mystical meditation" (quite probably a form of what Einstein and modern physics call "thought experiments" and Jung calls "active imagination") Luria believed he had discovered such laws and translated them into the doctrine I shall now discuss, called "Tikkun."
Dreams have long been considered a legitimate form of divine revelation, particularly in Jewish Mysticism. The Zohar frequently says as much, and in Pirke de Rabbi Eliezar it states, "In the sleep of night a man lies down and sleeps, and his spirit wanders over all the earth and tells him in a dream whatever happens, as it is said, ‘In a dream in a vision of the night. . . then He [God] opens the ears of men.'" (PDR 43.bii)
Moreover, in a letter to R. Abraham Rovigo dated 12 September 1677, R. Meir Rofe writes of the troubling news of Sabbatai Zevi's death: "Let thy heart not be faint, and in another letter I shall write to you more about this matter. Meanwhile, you should ask a question by means of a prophetic dream how [Sabbatai's] words may come true after this [death], and why and for what reason this has happened, and whether it is a real death. Search this matter diligently, and question the Master of the Dream [Hebrew = Baal Chalom] to tell you the truth, wheat without chaff, and let me know [what he tells you]." (Quoted in Gershom Scholem, SS:TMM, pages 918-919).
Thus, the dreams of Avatars -- if they can be found -- provide us with a remarkable window into the inner mysteries of the Divine Mind. We are fortunate to have available for such analysis several dreams of the 18th century Jewish messiah and heir to Sabbatai Zevi's Donmeh, Yakov Leib Frank (a.k.a. Jacob Frank), as translated by our Chaver Prof. Harris Lenowitz in his monograph, Sayings of Yakov Frank (Tree, Number 6, 1978), to which we now turn.
Frank's dreams, at least for his followers, had the force of divine prophecy. They were not taken figuratively by him or by them, but as literal experiences of his spirit, in the words of Rabbi Eliezar, "wandering all over the earth" as well as the celestial spheres, and returning to instruct them with what it had seen there. I'll conduct this analysis of one of Frank's more spectacular dreams in two sections: first, the dream itself; and second, an image by image interpretation of it from a Kabbalistic perspective.
The Dream Verbatim
"I heard a voice call, 'Go and lead Jacob the Wise to the Chambers. And when you bring him to the First Chamber, I warn you that the command is upon you to open all the windows and doors before him.'
"So there I was, flying in the wind. And on my right and left were two Virgins, the like of whose beauty has never been seen. In those Chambers I saw mostly women and Virgins. In a few of them there were groups of teachers and students. And when I had heard just one word of their discourse, I immediately understood everything they intended to say.
"And there were very many of these Chambers. And in the last, I saw the First (I mean Sabbatai Zevi) seated as well [cross-legged on the floor] like a teacher, with his students, wearing the clothes of a Turk. And he turned to me and asked,‘Are you this Jacob the Wise? I have heard about you, that you're a hero and have soul. I, too, went to the place you're going, but I don't have the strength to continue. If you want to do it, be strong! And YHVH will help you. Many Fathers have taken on this burden and failed.'
"And there he showed me through the window a depth like the Black Sea, covered in a fearsome dark. And to the side of the depth I saw a great mountain reaching up into the heart of the sky, and I called out: COME WHAT MAY! I'M GOING! GOD HELP ME!"
In what follows, I'll attempt to do a line-by-line interpretation of the key motifs in Frank's dream.
These "chambers" were undoubtedly the Sefiroth of the Aytz Chaim, or "Tree of Life" -- the Ten Divine Emanations and 32 Pathways connecting them, by which God created and entered the world from Above to Below, and by which mankind returns to Him from Below to Above. Notice that the disembodied voice (i.e., God) commands that all the "windows and doors" of these Chambers should be "opened before him," meaning Frank. This is to say that all the Secrets of the Celestial Spheres, from lowest to highest, were revealed to him. As he says, "And when I had heard just one word of their discourse, I immediately understood everything they intended to say."
Here Frank is ascending ("flying") up the "Center Column" of the Aytz Chiam, from the lowest ("Malkuth") to the highest ("Keter") of its Ten Sefiroth. To the "right" and "left" of this Center Column are, indeed, "Virgins," which are the Sefirot themselves.
Thus, in the dream, Frank ascends from Sefirah 10 (the lower Feminine Principle) to reunite it with S. 9 (the lower Masculine Principle) thereby becoming S. 6 (The Androgynous Messiah) who rises to join S. 1 (The Ancient Holy One) who, as we see, is none other than Sabbatai Zevi:
The "place" where Frank is going is, in fact, the "depth like the Black Sea, covered in a fearsome dark" which Sabbatai later points out to him through a "window." This "depth," of course, is the "formless void" covered by "darkness" before the creation of Light. (Genesis 1:1) Thus, Sabbatai commissions Frank to become the "Light of the world," the Messiah, who will return order to chaos and restore the Unity of God. And Frank accepts, declaring: "Come what may! I'm going! God help me!"
Thus, this dream provides us with a remarkable glimpse into the inner workings and mysteries of the Divine Mind, unfettered by the mundane Kelippoth of the world. It also tells us much about the dynamics of the Jewish Messianic succession, a clue to which is contained in Sabbatai Zevi's statement to Frank:
The final sentence here is operative for understanding Sabbatai Zevi's advent, and indeed the very nature of the Jewish messianic succession itself (starting even with Yehoshua HaNotzri) -- all as revealed in a dream and, therefore, delivered with the force of divine prophecy.
If, as Kabbalah (and, indeed, even Jung) suggest, many dreams are prophetic -- and if, as we have been discussing it, Yakov Leib Frank's dream of Sabbatai Zevi is among such prophetic events -- and if, as I submit, we should take that dream seriously as a revelation of the Divine Mine of God -- then, surely, Sabbatai's statement therein to Jacob Frank -- "I, too, went to the place you're going, but I don't have the strength to continue. If you want to do it, be strong! And YHVH will help you. Many Fathers have taken on this burden and failed" -- is a clear description of what I call the hypothesis of an "Evolving Messiah" in Neo-Sabbatian Kabbalah. Let's analyze that statement, and its implications for such an hypothesis, sentence by sentence:
Here Sabbatai reveals that his Messianic advent was incomplete, and he does not have the psychic power to continue it.
Sabbatai further declares that the Messianic commission can be passed on from one incarnation of it to another.
Taken in the context of those preceding it, this final sentence clearly suggests that the Messianic advent is an evolving one, in which a series of incarnations are to be expected, each incarnation perfecting and building upon those preceding it -- which further suggests the collective, rather than individual nature of the Messiah: no single individual, given the innate imperfection of the human form, can provide a perfect vessel for the continuing incarnation of deity. As in all things, the "Messiah," to borrow from the language of Gestalt psychology, "is the whole that is greater than the sum of its parts."
We see suggestions of this collective, self-correcting Messianic advent in the Jewish tradition of the two messiahs ("two" being a metaphor for "many") discussed in my previous lectures on that subject; and also in the Christian notion of the Paraclete:
"I must tell you [Jesus says], it is for your own good that I am going because unless I go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I do go, I will send him to you. And when . . . the Spirit of truth comes he will lead [each of you] to the complete truth, since he will not be speaking from himself but will say only what he has learned; and he will tell you of the things to come. He will glorify me, since all he tells you will be taken from what is mine." (John 16:4-15)
If we hear this statement not as one being spoken by the natural man Jesus, but by the supernatural Messianic Personality speaking from within him (as it would later speak from Sabbatai Zevi, Yakov Leib Frank, the Baal Shem Tov, and other so-called "avatars" in the Judaic and Non-Judaic transmissions) we can reword it to read as follows:
"I, the Messianic Personality, have done all that I can do from this incarnation in the man, Jesus. But I will return in future incarnations which, one after the other, will COMPLETE my perfection (or, "Truth"), not because of but despite those imperfect vessels in whom I choose to plant my perfect personality."
Jung alludes to this where he writes:
"At first, God incarnated his good side in order, as we may suppose, to create the most durable basis for a later assimilation of the other [evil] side. From the promise of the Paraclete we may conclude that God wants to become wholly man; in other words, to reproduce himself in his own dark creature -- i.e., man not redeemed from original sin. (Answer to Job, paragraph 741)
Possibly for this reason we see an inverse relationship between the order of the Messianic advents and the imperfection of the human forms in which they takes place: that is, the later the former, the greater the latter. For example:
Jesus = +
Thus, we see a progressive Tikkun in which increasingly imperfect man is constantly being perfected by the perfect Messianic Personality incarnating from within and, therefore, "correcting" him -- the end result of which will be a return to a the original balance between "good" and "evil" in the world -- which is to say, the Messianic era or "Kingdom of Heaven" wherein ALL of us, collectively, are the "Messiah" rather than one of us alone.
I now continue with a Kabbalistic analysis of several modern dreams and visions that illustrate those brought to me by contemporary men and women during the course of our spiritual work together. Specifically, I'll analyze two visions and two dreams that occurred over approximately a three-month period. The dreamer is a 50 year old Jewish man who had been in Jungian counseling with me for over four years. He is divorced, intensely spiritual with a mystical bent, and is employed in a healing profession, although also artistic by nature. He is, in Jung's terms, an extroverted intuitive-thinking type. He is well educated, holds advanced degrees and possesses a considerable knowledge of esoteric religions, including Kabbalah. Although his dreams up to this point frequently reflected that knowledge, they were not, until he had this particular series, as deeply archetypal and Kabbalistic in content. In other words, this series represents something of a breakthrough in his life at a time of considerable inner crisis. As the dreamer himself describes it:
"This last summer I experienced an intense despair. I was no longer where I had been, but wasn't yet where I wanted to be, and I saw no way of getting there. The Psyche seemed to have closed its Eye to me, and I felt unseen, inert. Then in the center of my inertia, something moved slightly, something fragile and still at a distance, but turning. My despair melted into sorrow -- an ache around my heart -- not for myself or for anyone else, in fact, but for God who suffers by our suffering."
The image of "something fragile and still at a distance" that the dreamer experienced was his first vision in the series to which we now turn.
First Vision: The Face of God
The dreamer described this first vision he had as follows:
"I'm laying face down on the floor with my eyes closed, listening to Russian Orthodox Church music and praying to have a vision of God's face. Just as I'm about to give up, and with the shock of realizing someone else has been in the room watching me, I see a face -- no body, just a face floating in front of me. It is long and narrow and full of intense sorrow. I realize it's God, perhaps even Christ, and I think to myself what it must be like to carry, as God does, all the suffering of the entire world. I feel a pain around my heart and I begin crying in remorse for the suffering we all cause our Father. I become determined to take back and bear my own suffering and let everyone else worry about their own."
One is immediately struck by the image of a "long" and "suffering" disembodied face of God. That is, the first Sefirah, Keter, is also called "Arikh Anpin," the "Long Face" and the "Long Suffering Face." The dreamer describes his vision in almost exactly these same words, suggesting a coming into consciousness of the Macroprospus, the Self, as symbolized by the first Sefirah. There are also suggestions here of an emerging sense of what he call Shikrur Elohim ("The Redemption of God"), in which the Creator is trapped within His creation and yearns to be returned to himself through the intervention of mankind.
Second Vision: The Voice of God
The dreamer's second vision was an auditory, hypnocampic experience occurring one week after the first. Of it, the dreamer says:
"A soft, firm male voice said, 'M., you are my friend.' This woke me with a jolt from my half-sleep. All that day, and since, the despair, the sorrow, the ache around my heart has been gone."
This second vision appears to be a continuation of the approaching Self we saw in the first. A relationship between the ego and the Psyche -- the dreamer and God -- seems to be breaking into consciousness. Indeed, the two dreams to which we now turn make such a possibility plausible.
I'll now turn to a series of two dreams in which the psychic situation, anticipated by the previous two visions, is developed. (For more details about the Kabbalistic symbols used in the following, the reader is referred to the opening sections of this essay.)
First Dream: The Torah and the Tzaddik
A few days after having his second vision, my student reported the following dream:
"I'm in an old-fashioned apartment; it reminds me of the duplex my grandfather owned. A man and woman live there. They are preparing the hours for guests who will arrive soon. I'm not even certain they see me. The man's back is always to me. He is bald, perhaps even naked and always angry. The woman is tall, 'rangy' and beautiful; she reminds me of my friend 'S' who is half Navajo. There is a solid, quiet power and self assurance about her as she moves through the apartment preparing it for the expected guests. The man, on the other hand, does nothing except repeat over and over, in an angry voice, 'Something stinks in here! Something stinks in here!' I, myself, smell nothing out of the ordinary, except the warm, female odor of the woman, who I'm now standing next to. I think to myself that he must be accusing her of the 'stink' but if he is, she is unconcerned about it and simply continues making preparations for their guests.
"Now I feel guilty about the 'stink' myself, as if I'm somehow responsible for it. So I start searching the apartment to find where it might be coming from, even though I smell nothing unusual. In a narrow, long hallway I see a cabinet in the wall with two doors that open out; I open them and find a black object, like a dead rat or a cinder. I think it is quite probably the origin of the 'stink.'
"Then the scene changes, and I'm standing in the living room of the apartment in front of a large picture window overlooking the street. A car pulls up to the door and a young couple emerges from it. These are the guests for which the apartment is being prepared. They are extremely Orthodox Jews and look as if they had just stepped out of a shtetle in Russia or Poland. He is around 32 years old; he wears a "shtrymele", the round black hat trimmed in fur of the Hasid, and has "peyotim", the long curly forelocks worn by Chassidic Jewish men. He carries a black book, possibly the Zohar I think, under his right arm.
"However, the most striking thing about him is the *Tallit*, or prayer-shawl he wears over his clothes. Like those of other extremely Orthodox Jews, this one is made of pure white lamb's wool, with wide black strips and fringes. Unlike the usual Tallit, however, that's simply worn over the shoulders, this one encircles his entire body like a cocoon from his neck to his ankles, and the black stripes are horizontal rather than vertical.
"His young wife, who always walks behind him, is perhaps 21 and very beautiful. She is modest and demure with porcelain-white skin and an innocent face; she wears a babushka, or scarf, over her head which one knows is shaved in the old tradition of the wives of the Kohanim, or hereditary Levitical priests of Judaism. They stand with one of the husband's associates, perhaps his disciple (since the husband is clearly a Tzaddik) outside the apartment door.
"The associate/disciple says to the Tzaddik, 'Are you sure you want to live in there?' -- making an unspoken reference to the presence of the Gentile woman, 'S', and the 'stink' inside the apartment. The Tzaddik nods gravely and says, 'Yes. Yes.' I think to myself that there will be trouble here, since the host is expecting his guest to only 'visit', while this Tzaddik is clearly intending to 'stay'. The associate asks him again, 'Are you sure?' and the Tzaddik again nods gravely and replies, 'Yes. Yes.'
"Now the Tzaddik and his wife ceremoniously, as if in a procession, enter the apartment, he before her. My attention moves from how they are dressed to the black book he carries under his arm and to the atmosphere of profound wisdom that surrounds him."
A number of Kabbalistic themes emerge and interplay in this complex and wonderful first dream -- too many, in fact, to discuss within the limited context of this essay. However, several have particular significance and should be mentioned. I turn now to what they are.
This dream declares its central conflict in the opening sentence: It is Yahweh (the angry, bald man) and his contempt for the feminine, His Shekinah ("Something stinks in here!"). Yahweh's animosity toward Eros is a recurring theme in the Prophets where he warns against the "erecting of poles" and the "eating of sacred meals" on mountaintops. These were rituals held in honor of the Goddess. The consequences of this split between the masculine and feminine components of Yahweh's consciousness has resulted historically in an abuse of the Jewish anima, which is reflected in the dreamer's own troubled relationships with women, as mentioned earlier in this essay.
One of the remarkable images in this dream is the "cabinet" the dreamer discovers in the "long hallway." It symbolizes the Ark of the Covenant which contains the Torah Scrolls in every Synagogue. Therefore, what he finds in it -- the "dead thing" -- symbolizes the condition of Torah in our own time, and what it has become. This is particularly important since the "true", renewed Torah -- the Torah of the Tzaddik, and therefore of the Psyche -- reappears at the end of the dream in the form of the young Tzaddik whose strange outer garment is nothing less than the traditional vestment which always enwraps the Torah Scroll from "head" to "foot."
Moreover, his bride symbolizes the Shekinah. They have, as the dreamer says, come to live in his Psyche -- just as was anticipated in the first two visions described at the beginning of this essay. Furthermore, this is the archetype of the living Torah, the Kabbalistic Torah since its personification is none other than the Tzaddik, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, to whom the dreamer was particularly drawn. One need only see the cover of the biography of Nachman, which the dreamer was reading at the time, to see the association between him and Torah: that is, the cover drawing is an almost perfect facsimile of the appearance of the young Tzaddik in the dream -- a regal Torah Scroll with human "arms" also wrapped in a black-stripped Tallit. (See Arthur Green, Tormented Master: A life of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, Schocken Books, 1981.)
This psychic relationship between Nachman and the dreamer can be further seen in the synchronicity of their respective birth years, which bear the same Gematria, or numerical value. For example, Nachman was born in 1772, and the dreamer in 1934. Thus:
NACHMAN: 1772 = 1 + 7 + 7 + 2 = 17
Interestingly, the numerical value of 17 is also that of the Hebrew word "B'vigdo" which means "by his garment" -- alluding to the "garment" in which the young Tzaddik and, by association, the dreamer are enwrapped in the dream. Thus, using the logic of Kabbalistic analysis, there would appear to be some (as yet unknown) psychic relationship between Nachman and the dreamer.
Second Dream: A Blazing Flame
Before discussing the second dream, an important feature of the dreamer's process should be discussed. The reader will remember the Lurianic doctrine of Tikkun, described earlier in this essay, to which Jung in two letters (both of which I have quoted) reacted so enthusiastically. That is, the Kabbalistic proposition that that man collaborates with God in restoring the universe to its pre-creation state of unity by "lifting the Sparks" of the "Broken Vessels" and returning them to their "Root" or Source. [Note: In another series of online Donmeh lectures, I am further discussing the relationship between this 16th century Kabbalistic cosmogony and the 20th century scientific theory of the "Big Bang."]
Isaac Luria and his disciples engaged in this Tikkun through the practice of Kavannoth, or "mystical meditations," which were quite probably similar to the Jungian process of "active imagination." In our own Neo-Sabbatian work, we have developed a modern version of this Tikkun -- a kind of ongoing active imagination -- which the dreamer had been practicing for a period of at least three months prior to this third dream. Most simply stated, one makes this modern Tikkun by imagining that the Holy Sparks in the food he is eating, for example, are being liberated by his physical contact with them and being returned to their Source. He takes the same attitude throughout the day towards everything with which he comes in contact - everything he sees, smells, touches and tastes. The effect of such an exercise is to produce, even in the most trivial actions, a heightened sense of Meaning, Holiness and the Sacred.
With these considerations in mind, we now turn to the dreamers second and final dream in this series. The dreamer reports:
"I hear a voice in my sleep saying,'The letter H-H is coming like a blazing flame."
The dreamer's immediate association to "the letter H-H" was the Tetragrammaton YHVH, or "Yahweh." This would translate, then, to mean, "Yahweh is coming like a blazing flame." This symbolic association between God and "fire" is not unusual. For example, we read in Deuteronomy, "Yahweh your God is a consuming Fire" (Deut. 4:24) and the Zohar states:
"In the beginning...within the most hidden recess, a dark flame issued from the mystery of En-Sof, the Infinite, like a fog forming in the unformed...Only after this flame began to assume size and dimension, did it produce radiant colors. From the innermost center of the flame sprang forth a well out of which colors issued and spread upon everything beneath, hidden in the mysterious hidden-ness of En Sof...Beyond this point nothing can be known." (Zohar 1:15a-15b)
So in his dream, the image of the "H-H" appears to symbolize the emerging Self "coming like a blazing flame" (as the dreamer puts it), "from the mystery of En-Sof" (as the Zohar describes it). Thus, the symbol of the flame "coming" appears to represent an impending differentiation of numinousity in the dreamer's consciousness.
But a question still remains about "the letter H-H." If it represents Yahweh, then what is its meaning? The following quotation from Scholem removes all question about the "H-H" and clearly defines its intent as an archetypal symbol of Tikkun:
"Tikkun restores the unity of God's name which was destroyed by the original defect [of creation] -- Luria speaks of the letters YH as being 'torn away' from the VH in the name YHVH -- and every true religious act is directed towards the same aim [of reunifying the two parts]." (Gershom Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, fn. 4, p. 275)
Thus, the relationship between Lurianic Kabbalah, the dreamer's practice of Neo-Sabbatian Tikkun, his third dream, and this quotation from Scholem all point the way to his emerging process of individuation, of "encountering God." Moreover, there is an implication here of his having restored the unity of God's name through his practice of Neo-Sabbatian Tikkun; that is, "the letter H-H" (and note the use of the singular "letter" rather than the plural "letters") suggests that the two halves of the Holy Name that were torn away from each other at the "Breaking of the Vessels" are being rejoined in the dreamer's Psyche. The flaw in the God-Imago, in the "Face of God," the split into duality it suffered at the birth of consciousness, is undergoing repair: It is moving once again towards wholeness.
The dreams reported and discussed here, and many others like them, affirm that the Psyche still speaks to mankind in its ancient language of Kabbalah. We dream the same dreams Isaac Luria dreamed, Moses Cordovero dreamed, the Baal Shem Tov dreamed: the same symbols and same Numinosum. Whatever, or Whoever, planted the Tree in Blind Isaac the Kabbalist's eyes, continues planting it in our own. These dreams, these symbols, testify to the continuity of the Psyche, to the durability of the Soul. They are even evidence for some that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus, Sabbatai Zevi and all the other Avatars He sends is neither dead nor distant, but only unheard.
In a way that we can neither prove, nor want to, these dreams testify to the enduring presence of Divinity in the human incarnation. The archaic symbols of Kabbalah in the dreams of modern men and women -- Jew and non-Jew alike -- are a living testimony to the Author's accessibility. They come from the Secret Places and connect us to the legacy of mystery. They perplex us, discomfort us. They are meaningless, yet saturated with meaning; alien, yet totally familiar; disturbing and a consolation.
It is their impenetrability, their strangeness and their compassion; their eagerness to "help," to instruct, to guide, to comfort; their concern for our well-being and their persistence in the face of our avoidance -- it is these qualities of theirs, or of their Author, which add depth, meaning and dimension to our lives. The Troublesome and Inconsequential shrink to proportion in the wake of such profound antiquity washing over us in dreams and, as a result, in our waking life. At the least we are awed; typically we are catalyzed, and at best, transformed.
Confronted with such authentic meaning in ourselves, we cannot help but see ourselves as Vessels of the Sacred. Life, under these circumstances, is risen to the sacramental -- and those of us who live this Myth -- who listen for the Rustling of the Leaves -- having seen or heard them, move with ponderous unsure steps toward our appointment with Whoever or Whatever calls us.