Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash
by Rav Itamar Eldar
Yeshivat Har Etzion
Shabbat – Kegavna (II)
our previous lecture, we started to analyze the wonderful words of the Zohar on
parashat Teruma that are recited on Friday night between Kabbalat
Shabbat and Ma'ariv – the Kegavna passage. For the
sake of convenience, we will cite that passage once again:
As they are
united above in One, so she is unified below in the mystery of One, to
correspond to them above. The Holy One, blessed be He, who is One above, does
not take His seat upon the Throne of Glory, until She has entered within the
mystery of the One in accordance with His very essence of Oneness, to be the
One in One. This, as we have said, is the significance of the words: "The
Lord is One, and His Name is One."
It is the
mystery of Shabbat, which is united with the mystery of the One so that
it may be the organ of this Oneness. In the prayer before the entrance of Shabbat
the Throne of Glory is prepared for the Holy Heavenly King. And when Shabbat
arrives the Shekhina is in perfect union with Him and is separated from
the "other side," and all the potencies of severe judgment are
severed from Her, She being in closest union with the Holy Light and crowned
with many crowns by the Holy King, and all the principalities of severity and
all the lords of judgment flee from Her, and no other domination reigns in any
of the worlds.
countenance is illumined by the supernal light, and she is crowned here below
by the holy people, all of whom are invested with new souls. Then is the time
for the commencement of prayer, when the worshippers bless Her with joy and an
illumined countenance. (Zohar, Teruma)
the previous lecture we dealt with the first section that speaks of the mystery
of God is One and His Name is One. We saw that the unity created by Shabbat
brings to unity up above, and therefore, God, as it were, anxiously waits for
unity to rest upon the lower worlds through the power of Shabbat, so
that it may rest upon the upper worlds as well.
the next section, the Zohar relates to another aspect, stating as follows: When
Shabbat is united with the mystery of the One (as we saw in the previous
lecture), it merits at the time of the prayer before the entrance of Shabbat
that the mystery of the One - which is the mystery of the Throne of Glory -
should rest upon it, and then Shabbat is prepared that the Holy Heavenly
King should rest upon it. At this time, when Shabbat enters, the Shekhina
is separated from "the other side" (sitra achra) and from
all the severe judgments surrounding it, and it unites with the Holy Light, and
is adorned with many adornments by the Holy King.
upon initial analysis, we are impressed by the fact that the images used in
this passage are images taken from the world of a bride and groom. The union with the Holy King, upon
whose arrival the Shabbat adorns itself, and for whose sake it separates
from all others – "the other side" – creates an image of a wedding
night, the time when the bride enters the bridal chamber. This is the moment of
the prayer of the entrance of Shabbat in which the bride is invited into
the bridal chamber: "Come, o bride, come o bride, the Shabbat queen."
order to understand this matter, we must bring another important concept into
the discussion: the sefira of Malkhut.
The sefira of Malkhut is the tenth sefira,
the last of the ten sefirot, the sefira which
"receives" the other nine higher sefirot. It is said about
this sefira: "It has nothing of itself" – it is nothing but
what it receives from others. This is the "feminine" aspect, which
when connected to the "masculine" aspect is the receiver, while the
masculine aspect gives and bestows.
Shabbat enters on Friday afternoon it is the sefira of Malkhut
which receives from the Holy One, blessed be He, the Holy King.
For on Shabbat
eve, the Shekhina is called a bride, as it says: "Come, my beloved,
to meet the bride." And from there it begins to rise to the sefira
of Malkhut until the Musaf service, the aspect of Keter.
Therefore, we say in the Kedusha of the Musaf service: "From
His abode may He turn with compassion." Understand this. (Tif'eret
Shelomo al ha-Mo'adim – Rimzei Purim)
emphasis in the Zohar and in the words of R. Shelomo of Radomsk is on Shabbat
eve: in the Zohar – "in the prayer before the entrance of Shabbat,"
"and when Shabbat arrives"; and in the Tif'eret Shelomo
– "on Shabbat eve." This is because on the day of Shabbat
itself, Shabbat assumes another aspect, one of bestower and giver, as we
will see below.
this time when Shabbat enters, at the very moment that the world stops
moving, when all of a sudden a person desists from all his activities, from all
his preparations, when he separates himself from "the other things"
referred to in this context as "the other side" – a great vacuum is
created which for both the individual and the entire world gives rise to a
feeling of anticipation and waiting for something; something that we have
prepared for, something for which we have ceased all our activities. This is
the feeling that accompanies us at the moment that Shabbat enters,
during the prayer through which we usher Shabbat in – Kabbalat
Shabbat. At this moment Shabbat waits for the Holy King so that He
may rest within it.
rabbi of Apta explains the piyyut that we recite on Shabbat morning
after El Adon:
Now there is no
mitzva that is performed through repair in the upper worlds without
stirring from below, except for the mitzva of Shabbat which
involves no doing. The entire mitzva involves sitting back and doing nothing,
like all thirty-nine forbidden labors, which neither they nor their offshoots
may be performed on Shabbat. The entire positive precept of "And on
the seventh day you shall rest" is also sitting back and doing nothing.
This indicates that the repair and union of the upper worlds is performed by
His essence, blessed be He, with no help or assistance from below… This is the
meaning of: "The seventh day itself utters praise, saying: 'A song of the Shabbat
day, etc.' Therefore, let all God's creatures glorify." At first glance,
the word "therefore" is incomprehensible. But according to our
approach, it can be properly explained. For "the seventh day utters
praises, saying" means that the seventh day itself without any stirring from
below performs the repair and union in the holy upper worlds. And because of
this, all of His creatures can easily glorify their Creator. For even one who
is not at the level to connect and unite with His essence, blessed be He…,
nevertheless through the mystery of Shabbat and its high level, that the
all the worlds rise then on their own and unite with His essence, blessed be
He, he too can be included among them to efface himself and unite with His
essence, blessed be He. This is what is written in the Holy Zohar: "It is
the mystery of Shabbat, which" by itself, without any stirring from
below, "is united with the mystery of the One," that is, with His
essence, blessed be He. (Ohev Yisra'el, Shabbat)
author of Ohev Yisra'el explains that the uniqueness of Shabbat
lies in the fact that it rises up without any stirring from below, and that
merely through desisting from work on Shabbat, sitting back and doing
nothing, the worlds are repaired and perfect unity is achieved.
emphasis placed on "sitting back and doing nothing" on Shabbat
is connected to its mida of Malkhut that allows the King to rest
upon it and constitutes a gate to His essence. Malkhut is the gate to
the King's Keter, and Shabbat eve is the gate in as much as it
"sits back and does nothing," and thus clears space for awaits the
resting of the Shekhina.
concludes with a description of Shabbat adorning itself with the Holy
King. Since Shabbat is void of any action, in as much as "it has
nothing of itself," all of its adornments, all of its praises, all of its
contents lie in what fills it, namely, the Holy King that rests upon it.
The content of
Shabbat does not stem from human action, but rather from man desisting
from activity, and from his readiness to receive something from above. Shabbat
is Divine lovingkindness that rests the extra soul of Shabbat upon
the world, and it is precisely the rest from work, the Malkhut, that
allows that Divine light to shine. To the extent that a person succeeds in
severing himself from his active life, in forgetting all mundane matters, and
in desisting both physically and spiritually from his work, so will more room
be cleared for God to rest on that person's Shabbat.
To the extent
that Shabbat succeeds to separate from "the other side," to
sever itself from all the judgments that surround it, to reach the bridal
chamber clean and pure, so will the union between it and its groom be enhanced.
When a bride goes to her bridal chamber, it is customary for her to remove all
her adornments, for her groom is her adornment. So too, says the Zohar, when Shabbat
enters, when it separates from all mundane existence, it is left without
adornments, and then it can adorn itself with the Holy King. At that time,
"all the principalities of severity and all the lords of judgment flee
from Her, and no other domination reigns in any of the worlds." The Sefat
Emet explains the matter as follows:
On these days,
purity and holiness descend from heaven, as it is written: "And let them
wash their clothes" (Shemot 19:10) – this is the garment. For the
body is the soul's garment. Since during the giving of the Torah, a new soul
and vitality descend upon each man of Israel,
they must first wash their clothes and purify their bodies. And in the midrash
on Nasa regarding "And they put them outside the camp" (Bamidbar
5:4) - "Take away the dross from the silver" (Mishlei 25:4).
The camp represents the two hundred and forty eight organs in the person
himself. In accordance with the removal of the dross, so too the Lord your God
walks among you. As it is the case with the community, when the people of
Israel gather as one and are called a "camp," then it is within their
power to send out every leper and person with an issue. And similarly regarding
the holy Shabbat, "which is united with the mystery of the One… and
is separated from the "other side." And similarly was the preparation
at Mount Sinai like one man. And so too
regarding an individual himself, when he gathers himself in one will directed
to God, blessed be He, he merits purity. (Sefat Emet, Shavu'ot,
Emet notes a most fundamental point that repeats itself throughout God's
governance relating to Israel
and the world. When the world is disjoined, all types of negative forces can
take control. It is well known that thieves and robbers exploit times of
disorder and chaos to further their own goals. Unity and association for the
sake of realizing common ideals and objectives create an atmosphere in which
the forces of evil are cast out, or else they are carried away by the flow of
the movement toward the desired ideal. The Sefat Emet explains: When all
gathered at Sinai, the dross found in each and every person was removed from
the assembly. When the entire nation gathered in one camp, all those suffering
with leprosy and or having an issue were sent out. And similarly when all
actions are gathered together on Shabbat in total unity, all judgments
and all negative modes of governance are severed from it. The Sefat Emet
adds that the same is true of the individual; when he gathers himself in one
will directed to God, the impure spirit leaves him and he merits purity.
When the days
of the week are disjoined, as we saw in the words of R. Nachman of Breslov in
the previous lecture, the world is ruled by impulses, lusts, and other bad
things that exploit the world of disjunction in order to rule and provide
everything with false external meaning. This is a world in which the golem
rises up against his creator. In a world of disjunction, a paycheck is liable
to be seen as the most important thing in the world, and the question whether
or not my neighbor parked in my parking spot may be viewed as a matter of
survival. This is the place where the "other side," the
principalities of severity and the lords of judgment rule.
In a world of
unity, in a world of Shabbat, when a person unites his will toward God,
when all his yearnings are directed toward seeking the resting of the Shekhina,
when a person turns into a bride who removes her ornaments and steps forward
toward her groom, all the principalities of severity and all the lords of
judgment disappear on their own.
This is the
way to understand the rest of the psalm of Shabbat, the beginning of
which we analyzed in the previous lecture. After we have merited to see the entire
world in its unified mode and to thank God for all His works, in a manner that
"a brutish man does not know, nor does a fool understand this," the
When the wicked
spring like grass, and when all the workers of iniquity flourish; it is that
they shall be destroyed forever. But You, Lord, are most high for evermore.
For, lo, Your enemies, O Lord, for lo, Your enemies shall perish; all the
workers of iniquity shall be scattered. (Tehilim 92:8-10)
perishing of God's enemies and the scattering of all the workers of iniquity
directly follow from the communion which we merit on Shabbat. This is
the royal resting that causes the removal of all the principalities of severity
that had ruled over us while we lived in the world of disjunction, the place
that they control. When we merit the union of Shabbat with its groom -
the Holy One, blessed be He – all the workers of iniquity are removed from us,
"and no other domination reigns in any of the worlds."
beloved, to meet the bride
third section of the Zohar passage contains the amazing words that follow:
countenance is illumined by the supernal light, and she is crowned here below
by the holy people, all of whom are invested with new souls. Then is the time
for the commencement of prayer, when the worshippers bless Her with joy and
illumined countenance. (Zohar, Teruma)
far, we have seen how Shabbat adorns itself with the Holy King, and how
it constitutes the aspect of Malkhut with respect to the Holy One, blessed
be He, who rests within it and illumines it with Divine light. In these lines,
the Zohar describes another "adornment" which Shabbat merits,
so that now it is directed not only upwards as we have seen thus far, but also
downwards, towards the holy nation of Israel.
Directing the face of Shabbat downwards has two ramifications: On the
one hand, Shabbat merits to be adorned with a holy nation, while on the
other hand, it allows Israel
to be adorned with new souls and joy and an illumined countenance.
these words, the three-fold picture is complete: the Holy King, the holy Shabbat,
and the holy people.
For the essence
is the holiness of Shabbat, when Keneset Israel joins with its
beloved, which is the aspect of "Come, my beloved, to meet the bride."
Then all three points are joined together, and the aspect of man is perfected
to sit on the throne, as stated above. (Likutei Halakhot, Shabbat
refrain of the wonderful piyyut which we sing every Friday night creates
the triad that R. Natan, the disciple of R. Nachman of Breslov, is talking
about: "Come, my beloved, to meet the bride; let us welcome Shabbat."
kabbalist, R. Shelomo Alkabetz, author of this piyyut, refers to Shabbat
with an appropriate designation: "bride." But who is inviting the
beloved to meet the bride? And who is the beloved?
to what we have seen in the Zohar, the face of the bride/Shabbat is
directed both toward the beloved – the Holy One, blessed be He, and toward His
love – the people of Israel.
The joint walking of God toward Shabbat like a groom toward his bride,
and of Israel toward Shabbat
as one who seeks out the bride, constitutes the bridge that will eventually
connect the beloved to His love, God to Israel.
Only in order
to understand the manner of communion and comprehension, for surely the
Creator, blessed be he, has no end or limit, and man has a limit and an end.
How, then, can these two opposite draw close to each other? Therefore, the
Creator, blessed be He, gave Shabbat to Israel,
it being midway between Israel
and their Father in heaven, uniting and connecting them to the Creator, blessed
be He. This is because it has two parts and is similar to both Israel
and the Holy One, blessed be He. As it is known that anything that is midway
between two opposites must be similar to both aspects. For well-known are the
words of the Zohar that Shabbat, the name of the Holy One, blessed be
He, is perfect from all sides, for Shabbat is the vitality of the upper
world and the vitality of this world. (Me'or Einayim, Ki Tetze)
R. Menachem Nachum of Czernobel, disciple of the
Besht and the Maggid, explains how Shabbat, by way of its being akin to
both the Holy One, blessed be He, and to Israel,
bridges the abyss between the infinite God and finite, limited, material man.
amazingly and incomprehensibly brings together the material and spiritual in a
harmonious and non-contradictory manner. Shabbat relates in its entirety
to the world of spirit and to the extra soul by way of communion with the
hidden, in a manner similar to the world-to-come. On the other hand, the
primary mitzva of Shabbat is material eating. Thus writes R.
Natan on the matter of eating on Shabbat:
For the primary
grasp of good and evil is through the different actions, as stated above. This
is the aspect of death. For the primary vitality is through the revelation of
simple unity… But when the different actions grow in strength and the aspect of
simple unity is not revealed, God forbid, this is the aspect of death, God
forbid. Therefore, we must recite a blessing over each and every thing, so that
the food be included in the simple One, blessed be He, through the blessing, in
order that it be revealed through this food that He is the vitality of man, the
aspect of simple unity out of different actions, as stated above. This is the
aspect of eating on Shabbat, for through the holiness of Shabbat
the simple unity is revealed out of the different actions, as stated above.
Therefore, it is then a great mitzva to eat, and the primary honor of Shabbat
is eating, for through the eating of the holy Shabbat, which is an
eating of holiness, having the aspect of "Then you shall delight in
God" - through that the simple unity is revealed out of the different
actions, as stated above. Therefore, we must always eat, even on weekdays, in
honor of Shabbat, as our Rabbis, of blessed memory, have said, for the
primary revelation of the simple unity, etc. is through drawing the holiness of
Shabbat to the days of the week, as stated above. Therefore, we must eat
on weekdays in honor of Shabbat, for through eating, the aspect of the
simple unity out of different actions is revealed, for eating is the vitality
of man, the connection between the soul and the body, as stated above. (Likutei
Halakhot, Hilkhot Shutafim be-Karka, 2)
Natan, following his master, R. Nachman of Breslov, speaks of the unity that Shabbat
bestows upon the "different actions" of the weekdays (as we saw
in the previous lecture). Here, however, R. Natan focuses not only on retrospective
understanding, but also on the consciousness that must accompany man in all his
according to R. Natan, is the bridge that connects the material and spiritual
worlds. Were Shabbat itself and its mitzvot absolutely spiritual,
it would be impossible to draw their sanctity to the days of the week. The
eating of Shabbat pours of its sanctity onto the material world, and it
is also the bridge which allows us to touch the material world during the days
of the week and gather its "different actions" to the One. When a
person recites a blessing over his eating so that the eating is accompanied by
spiritual consciousness, the eating and all that surrounds it are gathered into
the "one will" to serve God and rise up to Him, and thus the unity
spreads throughout the week.
according to this, is the meeting point between the finite and the Infinite,
between the people of Israel
and God, between the loved and the beloved. It shines its face, which is in the
mystery of the One, to the holy people, by coming down to them in eating,
drinking, and delight. Through this encounter Israel
merits to receive new souls. Thus writes R. Shelomo of Radomsk:
the children of Israel shall keep Shabbat throughout their
generations" (Shabbat 31:16) In the holy Zohar, parashat Teruma
136b: "R. Hamnuna Saba when he would come out of the river… and every
Friday afternoon a person sits in the world of the souls." It is well
known that the primary service of the righteous in this world is through Torah
and mitzvot, except for the wonderful yichuddim that they perform
in the upper worlds and bring down good bounty into this world. But they also
bring down new souls into the world. As we say: "To make new souls and
spirits" (Azamer bi-Shevachin, song for Friday night). From the
time of the creation of the world, it was His will, blessed be His name, that
the righteous man of the generation should be the foundation of the world, and
he should be the conduit of bounty, as it is written (Tehilim 112:4):
"Gracious, merciful, and righteous." And so too the righteous man in
all generations. Therefore, every man of understanding must have in mind during
the Kiddush of Shabbat eve during the "bore peri ha-gefen"
blessing to bring down new souls, for the souls of the people of Israel
are called "fruit of the vine"; see the holy Zohar (I, Vayechi,
238). And the root of the souls of the people of Israel
is from the world of understanding (bina), as it is written (Iyyov
32:8): "The breath (nishmat) of the Almighty gives them
understanding (tevinem)." Understand this. And the souls that come
into this world on the holy Shabbat eve are very elevated, above the
world of understanding. (Tif'eret Shelomo, Rimzei Purim).
Shelomo of Radomsk argues that the time of kiddush on Friday night is a
propitious hour for new souls. Thus, if the six days of the week are
characterized by creativity in the material world, Shabbat is a time of
creativity in the spiritual world. It is the most fertile time to bring down
new souls into the world.
is also possible, however, to understand the matter of "new souls" in
the sense of a renewal of the souls of the people of Israel.
encounter with the Holy One, blessed be He, on Shabbat leads to a renewal
of their souls. To understand this idea it may be helpful to consider the
wonderful piyyut that was composed for the time of rising in the morning
and reciting the morning blessings:
I thank God who
searches the heart…
to the soul…
Hewn from the
Throne of Glory,
To live in a
Wake up, for
Your soul rises
To give an
accounting of its actions,
To the Creator
of night and day.
He finds it
sullied from sin and addition,
Each and every morning.
He finds it
adorned in a talit and tefilin,
Like an adorned
Each and every
He who is
faithful regarding His deposit
Will return it
to him as He pleases,
The man has not
died on account of his sin.
And it was
night and it was day.
supernal soul hewn out of the Throne of Glory which is the root of all the
souls of Israel
comes "to live in dry land." The fact that it is found in this world
and cast in a body that deals with the world of matter will lead to its being
sullied "by sins and addition like a maidservant" who is subject to
the body and its needs. And then it will be found "adorned with talit
and tefilin like an adorned bride." This is the lot of the soul who
is bound by the chains of this world, when it goes up and then comes back down.
Back and forth between cleanliness and filth, between conjunction and distance,
between unity and disjunction.
renews the soul over and beyond the ordinary renewal that takes place every
day. On Shabbat, the soul is liberated from its chains – the chains of
this world. It ceases to be a maidservant, and in a moment it turns into a
queen, a bride. The release from the chains of this world, the liberation from
the pressure of the workdays, which a person merits with the entry of Shabbat,
allow the soul once again to blossom, to rise up and to be renewed. When a
person feels that all of his obligations in this world – the world of action
and the world of matter - have been removed from him, he suddenly reveals
the intensity of life concealed within him, which was waiting from the moment
of liberation when it could burst forth, renew itself, live and make an
appearance – this is the renewal of the soul which Israel merit at the moment
that Shabbat enters, which has joy and an illumined countenance. This
illumined countenance testifies to the renewal of the soul. At that moment, a
person turns from receiver to giver, from the recipient of bounty to the
provider thereof, and thus he illuminates Shabbat with his shining
Zohar compares the process that Shabbat undergoes when it enters -
"at the time of prayer" – with respect to God, to the process that
the people of Israel
undergo at that very same time – at the time of "the beginning of
prayer" – with respect to Shabbat. At dusk, the time of the
beginning of prayer, the time when the day becomes sanctified, Shabbat shines
its double countenance, toward God and toward Israel,
and with this shining countenance Shabbat effects others and is effected
effects God, as it were, with its unity that spreads through all the
worlds, which allows God to sit on His throne in the mystery of One. And it
effects the people of Israel
in that they receive through it new souls.
a bride, Shabbat is effected by God in that it adorns itself with the
adornments of the Holy King and wraps itself in His Shekhina. And it is
effected by the people of Israel
in that it adorns itself with their adornments, with the splendor of their
faces, with joy and with shining countenance.
complete this three-fold connection between the Holy One, blessed be He, Shabbat
and Israel, during the third Shabbat meal, in whose prayer – the Mincha
service, we say: "You are One, and Your Name is One, and who is like
Your people, Israel, a unique nation on earth."
are One" – "The Holy One, blessed be He, who is One."
Your Name is One" – "Until She has entered within the mystery of the
One in accordance with His very essence of Oneness, to be the One in One. This,
as we have said, is the significance of the words: 'The Lord is One, and His
Name is One.'"
who is like Your people, Israel,
a unique nation on earth" – "And her countenance is illumined by the
supernal light, and she is crowned here below by the holy people."
unity of the Holy One, blessed be He, the unity of Shabbat, and the
unity of Israel, are intertwined, and all the wonderful light – the light of
the mystery of the One – that illuminates the faces of Israel, of Shabbat
and of the Throne of Glory, each and every Shabbat, lifts up the entire
world and causes a new light to shine upon Zion.
 We have divided the passage
into sections in order to make it easier for the reader to identify the portion
 Similarly, the blessing
recited at the time of betrothal deals not only with the union of bride and
groom, but also with their separation and withdrawal from others: "Who has
disallowed unto us those that are betrothed to us, but has sanctioned unto us
such as are wedded to us by the rite of the nuptial canopy and the sacred
covenant of wedlock." The decision to marry involves not only the
selection of one, but the negation of all others. The union of Shabbat involves
the selection of the Holy King, and at the same time separation from all
 Anyone who is interested in a
deeper understanding of the the sefira of Malkhut is advised to
consult the lecture series, "Introduction to the Ten Sefirot,"
that was published on this web-site.
 The wording of the blessing
found in the Amida prayer of Shabbat alludes to this idea. The
blessing recited on Friday night reads: "yanuchu va," whereas
the blessing recited on Shabbat morning reads: "yanuchu vo,"
the Shabbat undergoing a change from the feminine-receiver to the
 As is well-known, special
importance is attached to marital relations conducted on Friday night.
 The Acharonim write
that on Shabbat a person must feel that all his affairs are done and
 Anyone who is interested in
achieving a deeper understanding of these matters from the kabbalistic
perspective is invited to consult the lecture series, "Introduction to the
Ten Sefirot," published on this web-site, lectures 7-8, which deal
with the sefira of Yesod and Shabbat.
(Translated by David Strauss)