The Verbs of Creation: Bara, Tsar, Assa
Pronounced according to the different vowel points, the
same word, Sepher or Saphar, means code. It is the root of the
word chifre in French. This tallies with the fact that this
scripture is written in code: that is to say, that the letters
serve not only as codes, but that the codes have as much meaning as the language.
In a still larger meaning "Sepher" makes "an orb," and, in the figurative sense, embraces a wide range of knowledge, as well as a field of action or influence (sphere). Here, it is the field of Yetsira, translated as "formation," to which "structuration" can be added without further explanation. As The Sepher Yetsira is a commentary on Genesis it is necessary to read Genesis carefully from the beginning in order to understand the root of the word Yetser, seeing it in a particular context.
We are making it clear that in chapter one of Genesis the verbs which play an important part during the 6 "days" - crowned by the 7th - are Bara (Bayt-Raysh-Aleph: 2.200.1) and Aassah (Ayn-Seen'-Hay: 70.300.5), which are translated as "to create" and "to do."
Not until chapter two, after the appearance of Ad engendered by Eretz, does YHWH-Elohim Yitser "form" Adam- Aafar-Men-Ha'Adamah.2 This verb returns in the following verse (11,8), where it is said that YHWH-Elohim places in Eden the Name (Schem) of Adam whom he has formed (Yatsar), and to verse 11,19 where it is said that "all the animals of the field" are formed (Yitser) from Adamah.
The three verbs, Bara (to create), Yaass (to do) and Tsar (to structure), must be compared.
Tsar has so great a content and value that it is only after a profound study of Genesis and The Sepher Yetsira that its meaning becomes consistent. Let us concentrate on the fact that this Sepher is about the structuration of man and his environment, and proceed to see how Adam is envisaged in the Bible.
The idea of "making Adam" appears in Genesis 1,26. The number 26 is the total of Yod, Hay, Waw, Hay. Although YHWH appears only in Genesis 11, the "idea" of that equation appears simultaneously with the "idea" of the equation Adam. Verse 1,26 is translated: " . . . and God said: let us make man in our image." The actual words are Elohim Yomer. The verb Yomer, translated "said" (Yod-Aleph-Mem-Raysh), is a pro- jection or emanation, of Yod and Aleph upon substance, Mem. This emanation "projects" - in the true sense of the word - a potential act of "making" (Naasseh) Adam Betsalmenou- Kidmothnou.
But in the following verse, Elohim "Ivra" (created) Adam Betsalmeno only. Kidmothnou and Aassa are missing. The verb Bara is conjugated three times and Iselem twice: "And Elohim created Eth-Ha-Adam-Betsalmo: Betselem Elohim Bara Oto (with Tselem Elohim created him) Zakar Ve-Nekiva (male and female) Bara Otam (created them).
Next (1,28) he Yevarekh (blesses) them. The verb Barekh, to bless, (Bayt-Raysh-Khaf) differs from Bara, to create, only by the substitution of the Aleph final for a Khaf (20 or 500).
At Yom, 7 completes everything that Elohim has Aassa (made). Day 7 is blessed and sanctified.
The strange verse of Genesis II,4 announces: These are the generations of Schamaim and of Eretz when they were "created" in the day that Yod-Yod-Elohim made Eretz and Schamaim.
Finally we come to the verse mentioned before (11,7: note the 7), where Adam is "formed."
The prophet Isaiah distinguishes the three verbs in question (XLIII.1): Thus now speaks YHWH who has "created" you, O Jacob, and he who has "formed" you, O Israel. In the same chapter, verse 7: . . . all those who witness to my Name, all those I have "created" for my glory, I have "formed" and also (Ef) (with greater reason) have I made. Further on we shall see how these 3 verbs correspond to 3 spheres of the Tree of Life.
Karppe (op cit., p. 252) notes that Ibn Gabirol has emphasised this verse of Isaiah and that Ibn Ezra, quoting Ibn Gabirol, has said on the subject of the three verbs: Therein lies the mystery of the universe.
We think that the mystery of the universe is impenetrable by the human spirit, but we are in it, we are it, and we have the capacity to study its structure outside and inside ourselves, and therefore to partake of its flow of life, as it is said that Abraham did.
The mystery therefore does not lie in Isaiah. Neither Genesis nor The Sepher Yetsira are so absurd as to pretend to "explain" it, but a careful study of the Autiot, the verbs and the names in the text allow us "to see, to consider, to go into it deeply, to understand" the interplay of the different aspects of integral life and ourselves to engage in this game.
Our contemporary scientific research is already tending to think of the Revived Qabala in the terms in which I am introducing it, free of its religious myths and laws. So far only a few scientists are aware of it, but I have reason to believe that in a not too distant future the Autiot will be used as symbols in different disciplines, such as physics, biology, and others, instead of our conventional, lifeless, letters.
A new sphere of thought is being opened up, and it is left to us to make our own discoveries. The joy of discovery is part of the game, and there is an infinite number of profound combinations to be thought out. The verbs Bara, Aassa, and Tsar open up unlimited perceptions.
Here are some free commentaries on the 3 fundamental verbs and on a few important words necessary for the understanding of The Sepher Yetsira.
Bara. Let us recall the field of thought which, straightaway, from the first Autiot of Genesis (Bara: Bayt-Raysh-Aleph), projects us into the mystery of Aleph. This mystery is the first two Autiot of Aleph: Aleph-Lammed and AL have become a divinity in the Mosaic tradition. In fact, they are the equation of the broken balance (1,30) which distinguishes an organism from an aggregate, 30 being an organic movement born in Phay (80), undifferentiated matter, completing the schema Aleph.
The Sepher Yetsira asserts (II,6) that Aleph and Bayt combine with everything and that everything combines with them. In other words, infinite life is everywhere and everything is in Bayt, a "container" in the very largest meaning of the word: form, vibration, undulation, a physical prop.
Aleph cannot be seen, it cannot be directly proved, but its action can be seen and verified. This is shown in the alphabet by the letter Sheen (300). Sheen is one of the principle themes of The Sepher Yetsira. It often appears either directly or in the schemas Rouahh Elohim (the breath), whose letters make a total of 300.
This "breath" is traditionally attributed to Elohim. Since Elohim is being constantly deified, commentators tend to forget that Sheen is introduced into the alphabet by Raysh (200), the twentieth letter of the alphabet, whose meaning is 2 X 100: the cosmic "house" or container of Aleph. Sheen comes only as the twenty-first letter. In other words, "the breath" is be- gotten of the universe itself as a "container" (200).
A first development of Bara shows nine Autiot: Bayt 2.10.400 - Raysh: 200.10.300 - Aleph: 1.30.80. It is a series of equations that reveal, when properly combined, many complexities, such as a joint action of two Yods in an organic process, a flow of life from Tav through Sheen meeting in Phay Aleph's action through Lammed, etc. A second development shows a combination of nineteen elements. The developments have no end. We then see how meaningless is the vernacular "to create."
Tsar, Yetsira. Note at once the preponderating role of the letter Tsadde (90) in everything concerning the structuration (Yetsira) of energy. This letter whose number is 90 (9 X 10) expresses the fertilised feminine who has evolved from the primordial stage (9) of the cell to a "formative-form" in actual process of growth.
The role of the development of the feminine is one of the principle elements in the whole of Hebraic-Christian mythology (see "The Cosmic Marriage" of Ain-Sof, numerous gnostic writings, etc.). We have seen it represented by Ischah in Eden, by Mary of Magdala and we find it again in other myths, for example, under the name of Psyche.
Tsadde is in Yotser (to structure), in Tselem (making Adam according to our Tselem "says" Elohim), in Tselaa (the mythical extraction from "the side" of Adam), in Ets (the tree whose fruit plays such an important part), in Erets, etc. Now we will go back to verse 1,26, where Elohim "purposes" to "make" an Adam according to Tselem and Kidmot.
Tselem, as root (Tsadde-Lammed-Mem) expresses the fact that the structured and structurating feminine (90) engender an organic movement (Lammed, 30) in "the primordial waters" of Mem.
But this action is not sufficient for "making" an Adam. Again, the greatest possible resistance to life must be met. And this is just what the root Dallet-Mem-Tav (4.40.400) of Kidmothnou expresses. (Khaf is a prefix and Waw and Noun have a grammatical character.)
Beyond the fact that it expresses, with Dallet-Mem, Dam (blood) and with Mem-Tav (death) the whole process of animal existence, this equation is a violent assertion of 4 on all levels. We saw it transfixed by the cosmic Aleph of Cain when Cain withdrew Qidmath Eden (translated "to the east of Eden"). We know that this powerful mobilisation of 4 is the indispensable counterpart to the highest kind of life that this planet can produce, corresponding to Cain, the incarnation of YHWH, perfected man, possessed of an unconditioned conscience.
In verse 1,26, "making" man, etc., must not be seen as a conscious or unconscious completion. All completion has to take place in a period of time. In spite of the evolution that this "intention to make" seems to indicate when wrongly read, we must grasp what The Sefiher Yetsira says about the Sephirot (I,7): their end is in the beginning and their beginning is in their end.
This "end" is laid down in verse 1,26 of Genesis, by the number 26, which makes us aware that the completion of YHWH is present from the beginning of human evolution, although it was not apparent at the beginning, nor is it even now, alas, in the present condition of humanity.
Aassa, Genesis 11,3, must be clarified. It says that Elohim Ebarekh (blesses) the seventh day Ve-Yegadesch (hallowed it) because he Schavath (Sheen-Vayt-Tav: untranslatable: this verb has been replaced by the misleading "reposed") from all Melaktou (his work) that Elohim Bara (created) Leaasoth (in order to "make").
The question is: to make what? Exactly, for Aass (Ayn- Seen, is 70.300, in its lowest root), that is to,,say, to confer on Seen the 70 of all the possible possibilities. And Aassa (Ayn- Seen-Hay) adds the Hay (5) of life to Aass.
Remember the meaning of Bara: the presence, face to face of Bayt and Raysh. That is, in full power, Bayt-Yod-Tav and Raysh-Yod-Sheen, where the Tav (400) and the Sheen (300) confront each other as an opposition to be resolved. This opposition, this clash between the static universal Tav and the dynamic universal Sheen causes Aleph to rise, in the form of an equation that needs to be understood.
We have seen that Sheen is engendered, not by a divinity acting upon its world, but by "the house," the container, the 200 which expresses energy at a dead end.
The equation is resolved when the Elohim process results in 70, which opens all possibilities to Raysh. At this moment "creation" is absolutely self-governing because it is animated by the movement of 70, which is full release. In Schavath, Sheen and Vayt live in symbiosis from the fact that Bayt (house) is between Sheen and Tav, the co-existing, reconciled opposites.
In other words - and the story that the Autiot, the Sephirot, the Yom, the equations, the ciphers, the numbers tell is always the same - the Elohim process by which Aleph manifests it- self, operates from the interior of the extant universe: Raysh.
This is how it works: from Raysh (200), "cosmic house," rises a vital movement, which is the return shock of the move- ment fertilising everything that is static. This "breath of breath" seen in the second Sephira surges back to its source through the medium of consciousness.
This fertilisation consists of the following postulate: the universe in general and human consciousness in particular possess the Baraka of the seventh number. It confers self- government upon them. The source is within. The source of unity is within us, and we have the power to evoke it. This is Aassa, "the making."
Aassa re-unites making, creating and structuring into a single cluster. The three are one.
In the next chapter we will grapple with the text of The Sepher Yetsira, in Hebrew and English, while reminding readers that Hebrew is a degenerate form of the Autiot language. We have said enough about the powerlessness of our languages to penetrate linguistics. Therefore we have little choice: we will transcribe in English the equations necessary for the general understanding of the verses, and into Hebrew the words that their traditional English homologues only misrepresent. Afterwards we will re-read the significant equations in terms of the Autiot, or of the figures which constitute them.
Our intention is to sift from this text the things which directly concern people whose minds are uncluttered by mythology, and who are interested in the essential question that conscience asks regarding the universe and itself.
It is certainly true that the best informed cabalists have all, without exception, borne witness to different branches of belief in a personal god, in one form or another. But is this divinity mentioned by The Sepher Yetsira anything else than an often transparent veil? The vital movement that the Autiot cast into the mind has an image-less intensity, and man is invited to work out his own revelation for himself, so that, ob- jectively, the notion of "God," so indispensable to translators, is fundamentally wrong.
The cabalist can slip through the mesh. He can annihilate the person of "God," but for the translator of profane language this is impossible. If, to forbid the pronunciation of YHWH the tradition transforms it into Lord, The Sepher Yetsira, far from compelling us to do so, tells us to put "the formator" (the Yotser) in place of it (I,4) after cogitating on it intelligently, scrutinising it and going into it deeply.
It is worth stating again that this book, which for so many centuries has been taken to be obscure and unfathomable, is plain to any reader with an open mind.
Bara and Aassa appear with Elohim in the first chapter of Genesis.
Bara, Bayt-Raysh-Aleph, are the very first three letters of the first verse of Genesis (Bereschyit). They cause Aleph to rise from Bayt and Raysh.
In the first verse Bara is joined to Schamaim and Erets, while upon its first appearance (in verse 7) Aassa is associated with Raqia, which is between "the waters above" and "the waters below."
Aassa (Ayn-Seen-Hay: 70.300.5) comprises all the possible possibilities with the 70, and with 300 the movement of every existing thing, in order to produce 5, life, conferred on everything extant.
Bara and Aassa operate successively and sometimes jointly to produce or to maintain the kind of life that Genesis calls Nefesch Hhaya or Hhayath ha-Erets (the breath of the living or the life of the earth).
Yetser appears with YHWH-Elohim in the second chapter, after the completion of the. seven "days." By its presence YHWH joins its action to Elohim's. Its immanence compels recognition and is translated in the Yod (10) of Yetser (10.90.200). By the intervention of Tsadde (90) - the fertilised and therefore supporting feminine - this Yod causes 200 to rise anew, to receive a new breath, called Nischmath Hhavim.
Nischmath (Noun-Sheen-Mem-Tav) shows Sheen-Mem (Schem) between Noun (50), individual life; and Tav (400), cosmic resistance which allows life to manifest in lavish variety.
Note Yetser well: 10+90+200=300=Sheen-Rouahh-Elohim. It can be said that YHWH-Elohim operates with Rouahh-Elohim through Yetser.
Again, note well that the word Yod or Yad, the hand, euphemism for the phallus, often goes with Aassa, which leads one to think that Aassa connects either with what is handled or with what is engendered.
The three verbs Bara, Aassa and Tsar have given rise to the idea of an earlier "emanation" that would cause the three methods of functioning just mentioned. The first emanation is indicated by the word Atsiloth, meaning literally, "nobility, aristocracy." These four hierarchical differentiations of the same evolutionary process have been called the four worlds of the Qabala.
Consequently a sephirotic, geometrical tree can be made of the four worlds. The design will be given in chapter 6.
|Carlo Suares: The Sepher Yetsira, 1976, p.44-50|
|Bara | Yetsira | Four Worlds|