Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain, Founder & Spiritual Director
"Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron, 'If Pharaoh says to you, 'Produce some marvel,' You [Moses] must say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh, and let it turn into a snake." -- Exodus 7:8
We further read in this passage of Scripture:
"Then Moses and Aaron duly went, and they did as Yahweh commanded. Aaron threw down his staff in front of Pharaoh and his court, and it turned into a serpent. Then Pharaoh in his turn called on the sages and sorcerers, and with their witchcraft the magicians of Egypt did the same. Each threw his staff down and these turned into serpents. But Aaron's staff swallowed up the staffs of the magicians." (Exodus 7:10)
How are we to understand this remarkable incident? First, we must keep in mind the injunction of the Holy Zohar:
"Woe to the human being who says that Torah presents mere stories and ordinary words.....All the words of Torah are sublime words, sublime secrets! (Zohar 3:152a)
And if so, then what are the "sublime secrets" this story of Moses and Aaron contains? To begin with, we must understand that this is no "mere story" and Moses and Aaron are no "mere" men:
"[Prior to sending him to Pharaoh] Yahweh said to Moses: 'See, I have made you a God to Pharaoh, and Aaron, your brother, shall be your prophet.' " (Exodus 7:1)
Thus, we see that Moses and Aaron -- prior to and in preparation for the incident of Aaron's Rod -- are transmogrified by God from the status of mortals to the status of divines -- raised up by Him from the mundane realm of Beriah to the supernal realm of Atziluth in the Kabbalistic "Tree of the Ten Sefirot." That is, Moses is "made a God" by Yahweh, and Aaron is appointed to be his "prophet" -- which explains why Aaron and not Moses performs the miracle of the Serpent Staff.
In other words, God implants himself, His "Holy Spirit" ( Hebrew = Ruach HaKodesh) in Moses -- makes him a vessel for his incarnation in the world -- in the same way that C. G. Jung was to say, thousands of years later:
"The indwelling of the Holy [Spirit] . . . in man brings about a Christification of many." (Answer to Job, Par. 758)
By implanting His "Holy Spirit" in Moses, God elevated him to the status of "Messiah" (in Hebrew, Moshiach; in Greek, Christos) the first in a succession of "anointed ones" who were to be vessels for His continuing incarnation in the world culminating in, but not ending with, Sabbatai Zevi (i.e., "Moses") -- who was also known as the "Great Serpent" -- and Nathan of Gaza (i.e., "Aaron") -- who was known as the "Holy Lamp."
An interesting "proof" of God's incarnation in Moses -- in addition to the passage in Exodus 7:1, which we have already quoted -- is the Gematriot connecting the two names in Hebrew: Moshe and Eheyeh Asher Eheyeh. Readers who are unfamiliar with the Kabbalistic method of "Gematria" should look it up by that key word in the Donmeh West Archives. Briefly, it is based on the fact that there are no "numbers," as such, in the Hebrew language, as there are in English, for example. Instead, each and every letter of the Hebrew alphabet is not only a letter, but also a number. Consequently, the Hebrew language is alpha-numeric; that is, every Hebrew word is literally both a word and a number. According to the ancient Kabbalistic method of Gematria, therefore, different words with the same numerical value are said to have an underlying mystical connection with each other. With this brief introduction to Gematria in mind, let us consider how it connects Moses and God as the former being an "incarnation" or "reflection" of the latter.
Moses in Hebrew is spelled with the three letters MEM-SHIN-HEH (Mosheh) which has a Gematria of 345, as follows:
Mosheh = MEM (40) + SHIN (300) + HEH (5) = 345
On the other hand, the Hebrew name by which God first announces Himself to Moses is Eheyeh Asher Eheyeh ("I Am") which has the following Gematria:
Eheyeh Asher Eheyeh = EHEYEH (21) + ASHER (501) + EHEYEH (21) = 543
Thus -- and this is terribly important -- Moses (with a Gematria of "345") is a reflection of God (with a Gematria of "543"). In other words, we see in the sequence 543/345 a "palindrome" in which Moses (345) emerges as a "reflection" of Yahweh (543) -- and it was for this reason that the latter said to the former: "See, I have made you a God." The question is, "What does this have to do with us today, and our own coming to terms with Deity?" I'll give an answer in the following section.
"Aaron threw down his staff in front of Pharaoh and his court, and it turned into a serpent . Then Pharaoh in his turn called on the sages and sorcerers, and with their witchcraft the magicians of Egypt did the same. Each threw his staff down and these turned into serpents. But Aaron's staff swallowed up the staffs of the magicians." (Exodus 7:10)
How are we to understand this? How can one serpent be holy while others are not? Surely God cursed all Serpents when He said to the first of them in Eden, "You are cursed above . . . . every beast of the field." (Genesis 3:14) But notice He curses Nachash (the Serpent) specifically above the "beasts of the field": (in the original Hebrew text, chaiotim hashadeh) and not among the more generic "creatures" (Hebrew = itzirim). Why does this make a difference? Because, according to Kabbalah, Chaiotim ("Beasts of the Field") is a hermeneutic code word for the descendants of the first of two Adams, whom God blessed (Genesis 1:28) but in whom He did not "breathe into his nostrils a breath of life [i.e., soul]" as He did with the second (Genesis 2:7). As the Zohar states:
"Alas for the stupidity and blindness of men who do not perceive the mysteries of the Torah, and do not know that by 'the beasts of the field' are designated the unlearned [i.e., soul-less ones]." (Zohar 1:28a)
Moreover, the Zohar tells us, not only Adam, but also the Serpent -- who, until he was cursed by God to "crawl on his belly," walked on two legs like any other man (Rashi, Genesis 1:14) and "desired the woman" (ibid 3:1) -- had sexual intercourse with Eve:
"The Beasts of the Field are the offspring of the original Serpent who had sexual intercourse with Eve . . . From them came forth Cain who killed Abel. From Cain was descended Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, as it is written, 'And the sons of the Kenite, the father-in-law of Moses' (Jud. 1, 16), and according to tradition he was called Kenite because he originated from Cain." (Zohar 1:28b)
Thus, Yahweh curses the Serpent "above all beasts of the field," meaning the descendants of Cain who carry the "seed of the Serpent." And it was from the descendants of Cain's mixed seed that Ham was born; and Ham was cursed by God, as had been his forefather, the Serpent of Eden, before him (Genesis 9:25); and among Ham's sons was Mitzraim (Genesis 10:6), the founder of the Land of Egypt which is called in Hebrew, Eretz Mitzraim, whose King, the Pharaoh, wore a Crown of Serpents upon his head to denote his descent from Nachash, the Serpent of Eden who had intercourse with Eve.
So it was that Aaron's Rod "turned into a Serpent" that "swallowed up the serpents" of Pharaoh's magicians. Aaron's rod was a new rod, given to him by Yahweh (Exodus 7:9), but Pharaoh's rod was the old rod, given to him by Nachash, the Serpent of Eden, whom Pharaoh wore for a crown on his head.
This second rod, the Rod of Aaron, by which the Rod of Pharaoh was defeated, is that to which Scripture refers when it states, "Thy rod and staff they comfort me." (Psalms 23:4); it is the Rod referred to by the Prophet Isaiah when he proclaimed: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse" (Isaiah 11:1); which is to say, it is the Moshiach (Messiah), the Anointed One of Israel -- the Rod who is also a Serpent (remembering that the Hebrew words "Messiah" and "Serpent" have the same Gematria) -- the Rod that is also the rod on which Moses erected a "Serpent" in the desert upon which all who "looked" were "healed" (Numbers 21:8).
And just as this "Serpent-Rod" of Aaron -- the Messiah -- entered the Court of Pharaoh to "swallow up" the Serpent-Rods of the Egyptians, so too Moshiach Sabbatai Zevi "entered the Court of Pharaoh" (i.e., Islam) five thousand years later to "swallow up" its own Serpent-Rods (i.e., the Holy Sparks) and reunite them with their Source. Just as Aaron's Rod reunited the "Serpent of Israel" with the "Serpents of Egypt," so too did Sabbatai Zevi. And so, too, will anyone who follows in his footsteps. Not by force of arms, but by Force of the Holy Spirit; not completely, but at least in part. In the words of the Talmud:
"The day is short; the task is great; the workmen are lazy; the reward is large and the Master insistent . . . . You are not called upon to complete the work, yet neither are you free to evade it." (Pirke Avoth 2:21)