MESSIAH - PART 1
(Last updated 10/5/01)
These final section of our Revelation background
study are focused on the concept of "Messiah," including the "divinity of
Messiah" as understood within and supported by historical Jewish writings. There
has never been one conclusive definition of the characteristics of Messiah within the
Messianic teachings of Judaism. As we will discuss in this section, the figure of Messiah
is seen as everything from a suffering Tzaddik to atoning Priest to triumphant King.
Opinions of his origins range from a simple man born in time, to a mystical figure said to
have existed prior to the foundation of the world.
The wealth of names associated with Messiah indicate the extent of
ideas that surround him. These names include; Messiah ben Joseph, Messiah ben David,
Messiah ben Ephraim, the Leprous Messiah, Head of Days, Son of Man, Tzemah (Shoot),
Menachem (Comforter), Nehora (Light), Shalom (Peace), Tzaddik (Righteous), Adonai (Lord),
Yinnon (Continued), Tzidqenu (Our Justice), Pele (Miracle), Yo'etz (Counselor), El (God),
Gibbor (Hero), Avi 'Ad Shalom (Eternal Father of Peace), Fragrance, David, Shiloh, Elijah.
This study also seeks to address some of the
traditional arguments made against the Messiahship of Yeshua, including the idea that of
the "sure signs" that the Messiah has come (all based on Scripture), none
Some of these signs are:
- Universal peace and freedom are established
- The righteous are resurrected
- The "lost tribes" of Israel are all brought back to the land
- The Torah will go forth from Jerusalem.
- The "millennial Temple" (Ezekiel chapters 40-48) becomes reality
- Animal sacrifices are resumed in the Temple (Ezekiel)
- All nations will come to the land of Israel to observe Sukkot
The standard response to these arguments, is that these things would be
accomplished at Yeshua's "second coming." To this comes the reply, "Where
in Scripture does it speak of two comings of Messiah?" The answer to this question is
typically that the second coming was not revealed to the prophets -- to which the
Scriptural response is, "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his
secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7)
If Yeshua is the Messiah, then what is called "a second coming," must be
part of God's revelation through His prophets, as this is no small matter.
As we have shown throughout this study, there are several levels of interpretation
of the Scriptures within Judaism. It is at the "deepest" level (the Sod level),
that the mysteries of Torah, including that of salvation through a Divine Messiah, are
found. This is not at all the same as saying that the prophets were "not shown"
these things. They indeed were. However, we have been distanced for centuries from the
knowledge required for this level of understanding.
This Revelation study aims to rectify this problem and offer an appropriate
explanation to the mysteries of the Messiah that is within the context of Hebraic
MESSIAH AS TZADDIK
Jewish sages throughout history have struggled with different, some times
contradictory, aspects of the Messiah. On the one hand Messiah suffers and dies, on the
other He is triumphant and reigns supreme. One of the ideas promoted to resolve this
problem, is that of their being two Messiahs.
The first of these is called Messiah ben Joseph, the other Messiah ben
David. According to tradition, Messiah ben Joseph is a tzaddik who according to some
sources is destined to suffer and die for his people. Despite what some claim today, the
"suffering servant" found in the chapters of Isaiah is considered in ancient
Jewish commentary, to be Messiah ben Joseph as well as representing Israel.2
As Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh
states, prior to the establishment of the Kingdom of God, Messiah ben Joseph, "will rectify certain aspects of reality in
preparation for the advent of Messiah ben David." 3
Exactly what things he will rectify are not completely clear in Jewish literature. We
do know that the role of this tzaddik (as with every earthly tzaddik), is to bring tikkun
(restoration) to the world and the Godhead. Because of this, the Midrash Rabbah
does say that Messiah ben Joseph receives the kingdom before Messiah ben David does.4
Returning to the personage of Joseph, we find a connection between the Tzaddik and
Messiah. Looking into the life of Joseph himself may help make some connections. As
previously shown, Kabbalisticly, Joseph is linked to the Sephirah of Yesod,
which, as we have discussed, is both the foundation of the world and divine Tzaddik. In
the "New Testament." these concepts are associated with Yeshua as well. There
are other parallels that can be made between these two.
For instance, the idea that his own brethren did not recognize him when he saved them
from death. This has some interesting Kabbalistic aspects.
As stated byYitzchak Ginsburgh:
Joseph, the speaker of the verse "take for yourselves seed," corresponds
to the sefirah of yesod, whose function is to express self in the form of giving seed, as
explained in Kabbalah. When Joseph first gave grain to his brothers, they were unable to
recognize him, similar to the dalet in relation to the gimlet. Upon his revelation to his
brothers (and thereby to all of Egypt), his giving became that of the hei. Instead of
grain he now gave seed. 5
The above theme of increase blessings surrounding Israel, at the time they recognized
their "long lost brother," has a type of parallel in one of Paul's letters:
Romans 11:12 - Now if their fall is riches for the
world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness.
Another thing to consider is one of Joseph's dreams where his father, mother and
brothers would all one day bow down to him. What is also interesting about this is his
father, Jacob's response.
Jacob took the "long view" to what was being said.
- Genesis 37:9-11 - And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his
brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon
and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his
brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast
dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee
to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.
(Note: We will offer additional comment to Jacob's response in a subsequent section of
The "sudden recognition" of Joseph by his bothers (when they are all in
Egypt), is paralleled in Scripture regarding the mourning experienced by Israel when they
finally recognize the one who was "pierced":
Zechariah 12:10 - And I will pour upon the house of David, and
upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they
shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth
for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his
Again, contrary to what some teach today, there is a clear history of translating
Zechariah 12:10 according as "the one pierced" (or "thrust through"),
as well as interpreting this as being the Messiah. For instance, the Talmud
interprets this future time of mourning, as being for Messiah ben Joseph:
Talmud - Mas. Sukkah 52a - What is the cause of the mourning
[mentioned in the last cited verse]? R. Dosa and the Rabbis differ on the point.
One explained, The cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph, and
the other explained, The cause is the slaying of the Evil Inclination. It is well
according to him who explains that the cause is the slaying of Messiah the son of Joseph,
since that well agrees with the Scriptural verse, And they shall look upon me because they
have thrust him through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son;
but according to him who explains the cause to be the slaying of the Evil Inclination, is
this [it may be objected] an occasion for mourning? Is it not rather an occasion for
rejoicing? Why then should they weep? [The explanation is] as R. Judah expounded:
In the time to come the Holy One, blessed be He, will bring the Evil Inclination and slay
it in the presence of the righteous and the wicked.
AS JACOB'S LADDER
Re-examining the subject
of Jacob's dream of the ladder ascending to heaven (Genesis 28:12), we find that Jacob
described the ladder in terms that relate to the Sephirot, particularly that of Yesod.
Note the Zohar's account of the descriptive words he uses, including; covenant, promotion
of fecundity (abundance), receiving blessing from all the bodily organs (the other
Sephirot), "the gate of the Body, the gate assuredly through which pass the blessings
As we have seen in the previous study section, these terms
are all associated with the Sephirah of Yesod-Tzaddik:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 150b - Jacob then said:
THIS IS NONE OTHER THAN THE HOUSE OF GOD , implying: This is not to remain idle; its
covenant is not meant to exist in isolation. It is in sooth a godly abode, to be used for
the promotion of fecundity and for receiving blessing from all the bodily organs. For
indeed this is THE GATE OF HEAVEN, or, in other words, the gate of the Body, the gate
assuredly through which pass the blessings downwards, so that it is attached both on high
and below: on high, as being the gate of heaven, and below, as being none other than the
house of God."
(Note the reference to Yesod being the "gate" as compared to Matthew 7:13-14,
and also Luke 13:24, where Yeshua says that many will try to enter this gate but will
The ladder seen by Jacob, is a view of the Sephirotic Tree of Life, particularly the
"middle pillar," which the Zohar calls, "the essential unity of the
object of faith." (This alludes to the "Shema" -
see the previous study on this subject.) Jacob saw a representation of the Sephirot,
extending from Malkut at the bottom, to Tipheret at the top, with the "ladder"
(i.e., "path," "foundation") connecting "below" to
The image of God that Jacob sees at the top includes the Sephirot of Hesed-Mercy and
Gevurah-Judgment (represented by Abraham and Isaac), on each side and would thus indicate
Tipheret. As discussed
earlier in the study, Tipheret brings these two sides into harmony.
This is explained as follows:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 150a - AND BEHOLD, THE
LORD STOOD (nitsab) UPON IT, ETC. Here Jacob discerned the essential unity of the object
of faith. This is implied in the term nitsab (firmly knit), which implies that Jacob saw
all grades stationed as one on that ladder so as to be knit into one whole. And inasmuch
as that ladder is situated between two sides, God said to him: I AM THE LORD, THE GOD OF
ABRAHAM THY FATHER, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, these two being respectively of
the two sides, one of the right and the other of the left.
The angels moving up and down the ladder in Jacob's vision, represent the "Hosts
of Elohim" (on the side of Hod), and the "Hosts of YHWH" (on the side of
Netzach) - (see previous study on the Overview of the Sephirot.)
TZADDIK-YESOD AS SON, NEIGHBOR
In the Jewish mystical writings, the middle pillar of this Godhead, is also linked with
the "Son of Yah." Incidently, the term "Yah" is a name of God
generally associated with the Sephirah of Chokhmah-Wisdom, also called "Father."
However, only the first letter of this name (the Yud) designates Wisdom. The second letter
(the Heh) designates Understanding, the feminine principle, or "Mother." The two
are not separated at the higher levels.6
One version of the Zohar refers to this Son, as a "neighbor":
Zohar, vol. 2, p. 115, (Amsterdam Edition) - Better is a neighbor
that is near, than a brother far off. This neighbor is the Middle Pillar in the G-dhead,
which is the Son of Yah.
To better understand the
connection between these things, we return to comments by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh,
where he discusses the relationship between Messiah, the "neighbor" (mentioned
in the Zohar passage just above), and God's salvation:
The wicked Bila'am
"distances" the coming of the Mashiach when he says, "I behold it, but not
in the near future." In contrast, the prophet Isaiah draws the Mashiach nearer when
he says, "for my salvation is near to come" (Isaiah 56:1). In his commentary on
the Torah entitled Heichal Ha'bracho, the Komarnar Rebbe explains Bila'am's words as
follows: 'Nearness' indicates a close neighbor who is the Tzadik, the foundation
of the world. Similarly, the holy prophet (Isaiah) said, 'my salvation is near'
(Isaiah 56:1). But this wicked one said, 'but not in the near future.' In truth it is
near; for the redemption is experienced every day and in each hour by one with a sensitive
heart. Now, it is truly close; its 'appointed time' is here. Yet, this is not exact, since
even the 'appointed time' will be 'hastened' (before its time; see commentaries on Isaiah
60:22). Our master, the holy Ari, noted that the 'appointed time' had actually started in
his day: "I am certain of this every day that I yearn and wait for the final
Ginsburgh continues in the same commentary, by recounting
that the "appointed time," traditionally refers to the time of Messiah:
Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar (who passed away in 5503), author of
the commentary Or HaChaim, explains our verse as referring in its entirety to the
Mashiach. He explains that the Mashiach's coming will be hastened, if the Jewish
People merit it, and if not, then he will come "in its appointed time." This
is the meaning of the quote "in its appointed time, I will hasten it" (Isaiah
60:22), as interpreted by our sages. In accordance with this understanding, the quote
"I behold it, but not now" (not immediately now, but very soon) refers to a
state in which the Jewish People are worthy, whereas "I behold it, but not in the
near future" refers to a state in which they are not. So too, if the Jewish People
are worthy, then the Mashiach will come in a manner from above to below
as pictured in the phrase, "a star will go forth from Jacob" and as it is said
"he will come via the clouds of the heavens"--in the merit of the service of the
majority of the souls of Israel, the average ones amongst the Jewish People, the rank and
file--who may be labeled "Jacobs." Whereas, if they are not worthy, then the
Mashiach will come in a manner from below to above, "and a staff shall arise in
Israel" and as "a poor man, riding on a donkey"--in the merit of the
service of the minority of the souls of Israel, the Tzadikim of the generation, who are
We notice that the first Mashiach--King David--according to
the Rambam's interpretation, parallels the Mashiach at the level of "if they
'I will hasten it'" according to the Or Hachaim's explanation. In
addition, the final Mashiach, a descendent of King David (called by the Sages
"Caesar" in contrast to King David who is called "half-Caesar,"
according to the Rambam)--parallels the Mashiach at the level of "if they are not
worthy--'in its appointed time'" according to the Or Hachaim's commentary. 8
DISTINCTION OF TZADDIK-YESOD
AMONG THE LOWER SEVEN SEPHIROT
The Zohar also helps to explain the relationship between the lower seven Sephirot
(i.e., the "Pillars" mentioned in Proverbs 9:1 as we have discussed), and the
Tzaddik. Although the world rests upon several "pillars," it is also said to
rest upon one specifically, that being Tzaddik/Yesod:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 82b - Said R
Judah, Is it not a dictum of the Rabbis that the world rests on seven supports, as
it is written, Wisdom hath hewn out her seven pillars (Prov. IX, 1)? R.
Jose replied: That is so, but those others depend on one who is the real support of
the world. This is the Zaddik who waters and refreshes the world and feedeth all, and of
whom it is written, Say of the Zaddik that he is good, for (through him) they eat of
the fruit of their works (Is. III, 10), and again, The Lord is good to all and
his tender mercies are over all his works (Ps. CXLV, 9).
Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Page 69a - R. Isaac here asked
R. Simeon to explain how it is that some say the world is founded on seven pillars and
some on one pillar, to wit, the Zaddik [Yesod]. He replied: It is all the
same. There are seven, but among these is one called Zaddik on which the rest are
supported. Hence it is written: The righteous one (Zaddik) is the foundation of the
world (Prov. x, 25). This handmaid, resumed R. Simeon, will one day rule
over the holy land below as the Matrona [Shekinah-Malkut] once ruled over it, but
the Holy One, blessed be He [Tipheret], will one day restore the Matrona to her
place, and then who shall rejoice like the King and the Matrona? - the King, because he
has returned to her and parted from the handmaid, and the Matrona because she will be once
more united to the King. Hence it is written: Rejoice exceedingly, O daughter of
Zion, etc. Observe now that it is written, This shall be to you a statute for
ever (Lev. XVI, 29). This promise is a decree of the King, fixed and sealed.
The above passage calls Malkut-Kingdom, the daughter of Zion. The next Zohar
section identifies Yesod-Tzaddik with as being Zion:
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 186a R. Judah discoursed
here on the text: The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High gave forth his
voice; hailstones and coals of fire (Ps. XVIII, 14). When God, he said,
created the world, He constructed for it seven pillars by which it was to be upheld.
So Scripture says: Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven
pillars (Prov. IX, 1). These in turn are upheld by one grade from among them called
the Righteous One, the everlasting foundation (Ibid. x, 25). Further, when the
world was created, it was started from that spot which is the culmination and perfection
of the world, the central point of the universe, which is identical with Zion, as it is
written: A psalm of Asaph. God, God the Lord hath spoken and called the earth from
the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God hath shined forth (Ps. L, 2). That is to say, God started the earth from Zion,
from the spot where faith culminates in its full perfection. Zion is thus the citadel and
central point of the universe, from which it began to be fashioned and from which the
whole world is nourished.
The following section associates the foundation stone with the stone the builders
despised (which is used in the "New Testament" in referring to Yeshua).
This stone is said to be, "compounded of fire, water, and air." Kabbalistically,
these three elements are associated with the three pillars of the Tree of Life, or the
three "Worlds" that exist above our physical world. (These concepts will be
discussed in detail further in this study):
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 231b - R. Jose
discoursed on the verse: Whereupon were the foundations thereof fastened ? (Job XXXVIII,
6). He said: When God created the world, He established it on seven pillars, but
upon what those pillars rest no one may know, since it is a recondite and inscrutable
mystery. The world did not come into being until God took a certain stone, which is called
the foundation stone, and cast it into the abyss so that it held fast there,
and from it the world was planted. This is the central point of the universe, and on this
point stands the holy of holies. This is the stone referred to in the verses, Who
laid the corner-stone thereof (Ibid. 6), the stone of testing, the precious
corner-stone (Is. XXVIII, 16), and the stone that the builders despise became
the head of the corner (Ps. CXVIII, 22). This stone is compounded of fire, water,
and air, and rests on the abyss. Sometimes water flows from it and fills the deep. This
stone is set as a sign in the centre of the world. It is referred to in the words,
And Jacob took a stone and set it as a pillar (Gen. XXXI, 45). Not that he
took this stone, which was created from the beginning, but he established it above and
below, by making there a house of God. This stone has on it seven eyes, as it
is written, On one stone seven eyes (Zech. III, 9), and it is ca11ed
foundation stone, for one thing because the world was planted from it, and for
another because God set it as a source of blessing to the world.
METATRON AS THE DIVINE TZADDIK
The Zohar makes clear in the following section, that this righteous pillar upon which
the world was founded, and upon which the lower seven Sephirot rest (all mentioned above),
is none other than Metatron. Note that in addition to the three pillars of the
Tree of life being associated with the elements of fire, water and air (as
mentioned above), they are also associated with the colors red, white and green.
As we discuss in our text analysis, these colors are significant, they also being
associated with the aspects of judgment, mercy and balance, and are linked to Metatron as
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 164a - Then he began to
expound to them this verse: A song of degrees for Solomon (li-shelomoh). Except the Lord
build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord guard the city, the
watchman waketh but in vain (Ps. CXXVII, 1-2). Said he: Was it Solomon who composed
this Psalm when he built the Temple? (for li-shelomoh could be understood to mean of
Solomon). Not so. It was King David who composed it, about his son Solomon, when
Nathan came to him (David) and told him that Solomon would build the Temple. Then King
David showed unto his son Solomon, as a model, the celestial prototype of the Temple, and
David himself, when he saw it and all the activities connected with it, as set forth in
the celestial idea of it, sang this psalm concerning his son Solomon. There is also yet
another interpretation, namely, that for Solomon (li-shelomoh) refers to Him
whose is the peace (shalom), and this psalm is a hymn above all hymns, which
ascends higher than all. Except the Lord build the house: King David saw all
the seven pillars upon which that house, the Universe, stands-for they stand row upon
row-and above them all is the Master of the House, who advances with them, giving them
power and strength, to each in turn. It is concerning this that King David said:
Except the King, whose is the peace, and who is the Master of the House, build the
house, they labour in vain that build it-that is to say, the pillars. Except the
Lord-the King, whose is the peace-guard the city, the watchman waketh but in
vain. This is the pillar upon which the Universe stands, namely the
Righteous who keeps waking guard over the City. The Tabernacle which
Moses constructed had Joshua for its wakeful and constant guard; for he alone guarded it
who is called the young man, namely Joshua, of whom it says: Joshua, the
son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the Tent (Ex. XXXIII, 11). Later in its
history it was another young man who guarded it, namely Samuel (I Sam. 1l,
I8), for the Tabernacle could be guarded only by a youth. The Temple, however, was guarded
by the Holy One Himself, as it is written, Except the Lord guard the City, the
watchman waketh but in vain. And who is the watchman? The young
man, Metatron. And you, holy saints, ye are not guarded as the Tabernacle
was guarded, but as the Temple was guarded, namely, by the Holy One Himself; for, whenever
the righteous are on a journey the Holy One guards them continually, as it is written:
The I,ord shall keep thy going out and thy coming in from now and forever (Ps.
CXXI, 9). Then they accompanied him on his journey for a distance of three miles,
and, parting from him, returned to their own way, and they were moved to quote these words
concerning him. For he shall give his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all
thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands (Ps. XCI, 11, I2); and Thy
father shall be glad and thy mother rejoice (Prov. XXIII, 25).
Yeridah Tzorech Aliya - "DESCENDING TO ASCEND"
One of the more mysterious concepts regarding the Tzaddik is that he must
first be humbled in order to later be exalted and raise up his brethren with him. This is
known as Yeridah Tzorech Aliya, "the descent of the Tzaddik."
The concept here is where the righteous one must "fall" in order to attain
his true goal. (Also called "the descent for the sake of ascent.") 10
The concept of the Tzaddik lowering Himself is reflected in one of Paul's letters,
concerning Yeshua's chosen path: 11
Philippians 2:5-7 - Let this mind be in you, which was also in
Messiah Yeshua: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with
God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,
The term halikhah is used to describe the Tzaddik that descends from His grade
to another in order to rebuke and instruct others, to lead them to repent. 12
A modern commentary for the parshat read at Passover (Tzav), relates how the priest
would begin his day with the most humbling of tasks of a servant, before delving into the
holier activities that would benefit the people:
Of all the complex and esoteric services done throughout the day by the kohanim who
serve in the Bais HaMikdash, the one that starts the day is perhaps the most mundane. It
is called terumas hadeshen, removal of the ash and tidying the altar. At first it was a
volunteer job -- anyone who wanted to participate in this seemingly meaningful task could
do so -- but as the requests grew, a lottery was formed, each of the kohanim vying for the
coveted task. In fact, according to the Tosefot (Yoma 20a) even the Kohen Gadol, the High
Priest, would sweep the ashes at midnight of Yom Kippur. Why does the foremost mitzvah for
the kohain entail sweeping ash? Why shouldn't the day begin with a holier act? Why can't
sweeping ashes take place at the end of the day?
... Rav Simcha Bunim of P'shischa explains that the first order of the kohen's day
is to depart from the assumed holy rituals of the Bais HaMikdash and delve into the ash.
In order to raise the level of the nation they were meant to serve, the kohanim had to
stoop to the level of the simplest worker and clean the altar, a seemingly menial task,
that encompassed a variety of spiritual ramifications. Because in order to reach the level
of high and holy, one must start out down and dirty. 13
The idea of the Tzaddik being lowered in order to be raised up again can be seen in the
life of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his own brothers, only to be exalted in
Egypt, which in turn enabled him to save the lives of those same brothers who had rejected
him. This theme is mirrored in the life of Yeshua the Tzaddik, whose example we are to
This concept is mentioned in Paul's letters:
2 Corinthians 8:9 - For ye know the grace of our Lord Yeshua
haMashiach, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through
his poverty might be rich.
Paul goes as far as saying that Yeshua became sin for us, even though He knew no sin:
2 Corinthians 5:21 - For he hath made him to be sin for us, who
knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
The idea of Yeshua being made sin for us (above), can be compared to what a modern
kabbalah author states, concerning the Tzaddik taking on impurity for the sake of others:
The Tzaddik is called pure, but on some occasion some impurity may be found in him
so that he may join the impure to elevate them to a state of purity. 14
According to the renowned kabbalist, Gershom Scholem, the Tzaddik is; "one who
gives freely and generously. By lifting up his brethren, he himself is raised."
This is reflected in the Philippians passage quoted
earlier. Paul writes of the Messiah lowering himself to assist His brethren, and by doing
so, was lifted up to a position of complete authority by God:
Philippians 2:5-8 - Let this mind be in you, which was also in
Messiah Yeshua: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with
God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was
made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and
became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly
exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Yeshua
every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the
earth; And that every tongue should confess that Yeshua haMashiach is Lord, to the glory
of God the Father.
In Gershom Scholem's classic work, "On the
Mystical Shape of the Godhead," he speaks of the Tzaddik who, like a magnet,
operates like, "a 'loadstone' that pulls things to itself while it is above, and
that which it lifts is below." 16
This time it is John's words that support this
kabbalistic principle. In his gospel, he speaks of Yeshua "drawing men unto
him," upon his own ascent (following his descent from the spiritual realm):
John 12:23-32 - And Yeshua answered them, saying, The hour is
come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a
corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth
forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in
this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and
where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father
honour. Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but
for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice
from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people
therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel
spake to him. Yeshua answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your
sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And
I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
The concept of a Tzaddik bringing atonement to his entire generation, and even to all
generations, will be discussed in the next section of this study.
1. The Messiah Texts, Raphael Patai, Wayne State
University Press, Detroit, 1979, pp. 17-22.
2. ibid. See p. xxiii, where the author states,
"... the Aggada, the Talmudic legend, unhesitatingly identifies him with the Messiah,
and understands especially the descriptions of his sufferings as referring to Messiah ben
3. Glossary of Kabbalah and Chassidut, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, "Mashiach,"
4. Midrash Rabbah - Genesis XCV
5. The Mystical Signficance of the Hebrew Letters: Hei, Expression --
Thought, Speech, Action , Rabbi Yitzchak
6. Sefer Yetzirah, The Book of Creation, In Theory and
Practice, Aryeh Kaplan, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach, Maine, 1990, p.15.
7. Kabbalah and Modern Life - Living with the Times: A
Torah Message for the Month of Shevat; And a Staff Shall Arise in Israel, Rabbi
Yitzchak Ginsburgh, http://www.inner.org/times/shevat/shevat59.htm
9. For more on this concept see "Going Up?" Commentary on
Parsha Bo, Rabbi Pinchas WInston at http://www.torah.org/learning/perceptions/5766/bo.html
10. On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah, Gershom
Scholem, Schocken Books, New York, 1991, pp. 138-139. Interestingly, the
idea of Messiah having to "decend in order to ascend," was used to explain the
"falling away" of the false Messiah, Sabbatai Zevi, in the seventeenth century
when he converted to Islam.
11. In this section of our study, we quote multiple kabbalistic concepts from
several of Paul's letters. As we are told in Scripture, Paul studied under Rabbi Gamliel.
What is not revealed, is that Rabbi Gamliel was a leading kabbalist of his day. (See The
Way of Kabbalah, Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi, Samuel Weiser, Inc. York Beach, Maine, 1976,
p. 95.) The fact that Paul often taught at this level himself, helps explains Peter's
comment that "Paul is at times hard to understand." (2 Peter 3:15-16). Peter was
a very intelligent man himself and very knowledgeable in Torah, as seen by his leading the
way in bringing the message of Yeshua to the Jewish populace. As we have seen earlier in
this study, Peter was aware of kabbalistic principles (though not as advanced as Paul),
and made use of them in his own epistle.
12. Along the Path: Studies in Kabbalistic Myth, Symbolism, and
Hermeneutics, Elliot R. Wolfson, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1995, p.
13. Drasha - Parshas Tzav -- Down and Dirty, Rabbi Mordechai
Kamenetzky, 5761/2001, www.torah.org
14. Along the Path: Studies in Kabbalistic Myth, Symbolism, and
Hermeneutics, Elliot R. Wolfson, State University of New York Press, Albany, 1995, p.
15. On the Mystical Shape of the Godhead: Basic Concepts in the Kabbalah, Gershom
Scholem, Schocken Books, New York, 1991, p. 139
16. idib, p. 104, quotation from Rabbi Joseph Gilkatilla.