"Dwellings of the Supreme"
By Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto
"There is a river whose streams bring joy to the city of God, the holy place of the dwellings of the Supreme (Mishkney Elyon)" (Psalms 46:5).
"Rabbi Yochanan said: The Holy One blessed-be-He declared: 'I will not enter the heavenly Jerusalem until I enter the earthly Jerusalem.' Is there then a heavenly Jerusalem? Yes, as it is written (Psalms 122:3): 'Jerusalem will be built like the city that is joined to it together'" (Taanit 5a).
My purpose in this work is to discuss the subject of the Heavenly Temple mentioned by our sages, to explain its form and structure in all their various details, and to show how the structure and dimensions of the earthly Temple are in direct alignment with those of the Heavenly Temple.
And you, dear, pleasant reader: Apply yourself with all your mental powers. Pay full attention, and I will teach you wondrous wisdom the like of which you have never heard. Then you will know how the King of the kings of kings watches over His creatures and conducts His universe in an ordered manner. He instituted the order of the universe so as to set it on a firm foundation and bring it to perfection in truth and faith.
These deep matters are way beyond the grasp of the human mind. No man has ever succeeded in fathoming the wisdom of his Creator and traveling the path of truth and justice in order to grasp and understand the works of God. But now I will lay these matters before you in a single, all-inclusive introductory work that will enable you to understand the way the world is run and how God gives each day's portion of food and sustenance to all His creatures, each in its proper time.
When the Creator willed the creation of this world, He included everything in ten great lights [the ten Sefirot] from which all the different creatures emerged like branches extending from the trunk of the tree. There is nothing in the whole of existence that does not have its place in the supreme Chariot.
The last of these ten lights [Malchut] is called Shechinah [the Indwelling Presence]. It is here that all existing beings are rooted. Understand this well. For besides the roots that all existing beings have in the other higher lights, they also all have a root in the Shechinah, which is therefore called "the mother of children". Everything comes forth from her hands, and for this reason all things are rooted in her.
Understand that there is a special place known to her where all these roots come together. [This is the Heavenly Temple.] In that place is the root of all things, both those that depend on her and those that depend on the other higher lights. In that place are the roots of the earth and all it contains, the heavens, the heavens of the heavens and all their hosts without exception.
In the middle of the place where all these roots come together, there is a single "stone". [This is in the Holy of Holies of the Heavenly Temple.] This stone is most precious. It possesses every kind of beauty and charm. It is called the Foundation Stone (Even Shetiyah). There is a corresponding stone in this world - the lower world - in the place of the Holy of Holies, as will be explained later.
Stretching out in all directions from this stone are channels and pathways leading to all things. At their start these channels are great highways governing and regulating all the different orders and species of created beings, all of which have a deep inner knowledge of their root paths. From here they all receive their share of the constant sustenance given to them by the King.
Branching off from these highways are countless smaller pathways containing the individual roots of every single being in creation from the biggest to the smallest. Each one has its own unique pathway.
All these channels and pathways start in the place I mentioned at the outset. From the point where they all join together in the stone in the middle of this place, the Creator watches over them and scans them all with a single glance. This is the secret of the verse: "He forms their hearts together, He understands all their works" (Psalms 33:15). For this stone stands at the heart of the universe, and there all things are gathered in and joined together and scanned in a single glance by the King.
In this place that I mentioned there is a single great path surrounding the stone. This path is like a vast land containing great fortified cities the like of whose beauty and splendor has never been seen. This entire path emerged from the light emanating in full beauty and splendor from the very essence of the luminary of which I am speaking [Shechinah]. For this reason this place is very holy. The earth there is holy earth. And from it emanated in the world below the land that God watches with special care, the Land of Israel.
Around this land are numerous other paths extending from one end of the world to the other, some inclining to the right (Chesed, Kindness) and others to the left (Din, Judgment). These roads were designed to produce many different lands. These are all the countries of the world. They are all under the supervision of great and powerful ministers [the Sarim, Angels of the seventy nations]. For this reason all the other countries in the world should also have been pure like the Land of Israel, and this also applies to the ministers appointed over them.
However, when humanity became corrupt, everything was thrown into turmoil and the world was spoiled. Even the ministers were drawn into impurity. This is why all the other countries became impure. Impurity took hold on every level, dividing these lands up among the impure ministers, and for this reason they remained impure.
However, this was not so when they stood in their proper order in the beginning. Nor will it be so when they are set right in the future. Eventually the other countries will also be pure, though not with the same degree of holiness as in the good land that God has given eternally to His people
Understand this well. For I am revealing to you great and awesome secrets that are rooted in the deepest wisdom. Use your intelligence and be resolute in the pursuit of wisdom and understanding in order to know something of the greatness of our God, at least a drop in the ocean. For one who reaches this level of understanding will have attained a good measure of what lies within the power of the human mind to grasp of God's greatness and mystery. And now, listen carefully and hear, and I will tell you an awesome, wondrous secret.
When the last of the ten lights [Shechinah] was complete with all its lights shining and everything fixed and functioning properly, there appeared at the end a certain place that is most awesome [the Holy of Holies of the Heavenly Temple]. This is the place of great desire, the place of love and peace. This place is hidden and secret. Only the King may come there. No one may enter except for Him. This place contains all the beauty of this light and all its radiance and perfection. In it are found all pleasantness and delight. When the King enters, who can express His great beauty and goodness? None can compare to Him in all His glory and holiness. Being so hidden, the light is all the greater and more intense.
It was from this holy place that the other place of which I was speaking previously [i.e. the rest of the Heavenly Temple] emanated, and the Foundation Stone (Even Shetiyah) has its firm place within it.
Therefore understand: This hidden and concealed place contains all the beauty of this light [i.e. of Malchut], while the second place contains all the sources and roots of all created beings. The first place is the Holy of Holies, where the Ark and the Testimony are situated, and where the Foundation Stone stands in all its power. The second place is the rest of the Temple structure, which emerged from this stone as I will explain later.
See now: When the light called Malchut (royal power) joined with the Melech (King), the resulting state of blissful tranquility (Menuchah) gave rise to this House in all its details with all its various courtyards and chambers, interior and exterior. All the different dimensions of the Temple correspond to the related lights, whether few or many.
For in this House are the great highways that stretch out to all the different orders and species of created beings, as mentioned earlier. These highways have glorious names full of strength and power. It is from these highways that the pathways I mentioned branch out. Each pathway has its own special name. Everything is arranged with the greatest wisdom. It is from here that all things receive their power. It is to these names that they attach themselves when they ascend from the lower realm to the upper. When they reach these highways they take cover under the great names I mentioned, so that nothing can be seen of the individual pathways. It is only when they emerge, each one in its own place, that they take on their own particular names. For this reason in the House itself only the highways have names but not the pathways. Understand this well.
Since the House emerges with such blissful tranquility, it is called Menuchah. Once this House was built, it was never again concealed. This holy House was created before the universe. For it is from this House that all created beings receive their power and sustenance. When the flow of blessing and sustenance reaches the House from the King, all its courtyards and chambers are seen to be full of power and strength to give to all who draw near, each according to his level.
For this reason the flow of blessing and sustenance to this House has never ever ceased. If it were to be interrupted for even a moment, all created beings would immediately cease to exist. The King never turns His eyes away from His palace. If you counter that it was only of the upper levels [Abba and Imma] that they said "they never separate" but not of the lower levels [Zeir Anpin and Nukva], this is not a valid objection. You have not plumbed the depths of wisdom and you have not found its roots.
You must understand that pairing and union (Zivug) on the one hand and connection (Chibur) on the other are two distinct phenomena. We speak of connection (Chibur) when two lights shine towards each other from their respective places without drawing closer to one another. For this reason the further the light is from its source, the weaker it becomes. The sages called this "separation" (Pirud), although there is no actual separation between the lights, God forbid. It is just that when they are not close to each other it is called "separation". This is the idea of "uprooting the plants".
This flaw is only possible in the lower realms and cannot reach the upper plane. Thus the two lights of Yud and Heh (the first two letters of the Tetragrammaton) are always perfectly connected, with the cusp of the Yud above them. All three [the cusp of the Yud, alluding to Keter, the Crown, the Yud itself, alluding to Chochmah, Wisdom, and the Heh, alluding to Binah, Understanding] are bound together with a strong, firm bond. But in the lower realms we do find separation as a result of men's sins. The Yud separates from the Heh, the Heh from the Vav, and the Vav from the [second] Heh.
On the other hand, pairing and union (Zivug) occurs when the lights draw close to each other. When they join together in this way, who can express the great beauty of their holiness and the power of their radiance? Like a raging fire they flash passionately to each other and become tightly bound together in great unity. The resulting power and delight bring joy to all the lights, one after the other, right up to the perfect, unified source, the Infinite One [Eyn Sof] blessed-be-He. And because of this great joy, a flow of abundant blessings comes forth from Him and descends to every level.
This pairing and union [Zivug] is absent in the lower realms. For this reason the sages said: "The Holy One blessed-be-He, said: I will not enter the heavenly Jerusalem until I enter the earthly Jerusalem" (Taanit 5a). For until the earthly Jerusalem is firmly established as the praise of all the earth, the King will not fully enter the heavenly Jerusalem. But as the repair of the lights brings them to greater and greater perfection, their power will spread with great force and the Holy Temple will be built in the lower world. But in the absence of this state of repair as a result of sin, the earthly House is destroyed.
Nevertheless, the Heavenly Temple never ceased to exist. If it did, the entire universe would be destroyed in a moment, as I said earlier. It is just that its original brilliance has grown dim and it lacks the intense joy it radiated when it was the glorious residence and resting place of the King. But when the sinners are removed from the earth, things will return to the way they were at first; the light will be brighter and the flow of blessing will pour forth in abundance. For this reason, the Temple will indeed be rebuilt in the lower world and its glory will be greater than that of the first two Temples, as I will discuss more fully later on.
I will now begin to explain the design of the Temple in detail, area by area, corner by corner. [First, a number of general principles governing the overall design.] The entire design of the Temple is based on a great secret that stands at the very summit of the universe. I have already told you how this House emerged from the intensity of blissful tranquility that came about when the two great lights [Tiferet and Malchut] were joined as one. It was then that there appeared in the lower light [Malchut] the Sanctuary [Heichal] and its chambers and the other glorious buildings from which all the King's servants and officers receive their portions, each in his proper place with no disorder and no exceptions.
The Temple consists of three main areas after the emergence of the channels and highways extending from the great stone that I mentioned at the beginning. These three areas are the places of the three orders of created beings that exist in the world. The first order includes all the "external" creations, the creatures of this world, from the largest to the smallest without exception. The second consists of all the angels at their appointed posts ready to carry out the service of the King. The third consists of the souls of the Children of Israel, the holy seed, a unique people on earth.
The corresponding places in the Temple are: (1) the main Sanctuary building (Heichal) together with the Holy of Holies (Dvir) and Vestibule (Ulam): this is the innermost part of the Temple [the place of the souls]; (2) The Temple Courtyards, i.e. the Upper [or Inner] Courtyard and the Lower [or Outer] Courtyard [the place of the angels]; (3) the rest of the Temple Mount [the place of the creatures of this world].
You must understand that the angels require two kinds of sustenance, one for their own subsistence and a second to hand on to the creatures over which they are appointed. For if they did not receive, what would they have to give? If you are familiar with the ways of wisdom you will see that even though I have divided these areas into three, they are actually four: (1) The main Temple building (Heichal); (2) the Upper [Inner] Courtyard; (3) the Lower [Outer] Courtyard; (4) the Temple Mount.
These are the places of the inhabitants of the four worlds, Atzilut [Emanation], Beriyah [Creation], Yetzirah [Formation] and Asiyah [Action]. [The Temple building, place of the souls, corresponds to Atzilut; the Inner Courtyard, place of the captains of the angels, corresponds to Beriyah; the Outer Courtyard, place of the angelic hosts, corresponds to Yetzirah, while the rest of Temple Mount corresponds to Asiyah.] In addition, the Temple building (Heichal) is divided into two. For within the Heichal proper is the Holy of Holies (Dvir) corresponding to the cusp of the Yud, which is always connected to the Yud and never moves from it.
These places have the greatest, choicest names. They are general names. In the face of these names, all the other powerful, awesome names are hidden away as if they never existed. Because of the great holiness of these names, their power is limitless. All existence is bound to them from beginning to end. These are the four "expansions" [Miluim] of the Tetragrammaton known to the sages: the expansion of 72 [in which the four "simple" letters of the Name are spelled out in full and where possible "filled" with Yud's: יוד הי ויו הי]; that of 63 [where the Vav is "filled" with an Aleph: יוד הי ואו הי]; that of 45 [where the letters are "filled" with Aleph's: יוד הא ואו הא]; and that of 52 [where the Heh's are "filled" with Heh's: יוד הה וו הה]. This is why I said in the Introduction that in these places no other name is seen besides these four. All the other names emerge from these four names and have dominion in their own particular places, but they cannot hold sway in the place where their roots are so powerful.
Now I will explain to you why the future Temple will be different from the first and second. This is no empty matter. Pay careful attention and make every effort to follow. There are certain important points that you must understand first.
It is written: "In the beginning [Bereishit] God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). The sages commented that the letter Beit in the word Bereishit also has the connotation of "two", this being the numerical value of the letter Beit. The word Bereishit thus indicates two beginnings. You must grasp this great fundamental in order to understand things clearly and know the meaning of the idea of the rectification (Tikun) of the world.
When the Creator blessed-be-He decided to create this world, He set the lights in their proper places and the guards at their posts, arranging all the different orders of creation in His Wisdom. This Wisdom (Chochmah) was exalted above all His other works, and upon this Wisdom everything depends. This Wisdom is signified by the Yud of His glorious, awesome Name.
But above Wisdom is found another beginning (Keter, the Crown) that is wholly concealed: "Deep, deep, who can find it?" (Ecclesiastes 7:24). This is what gives Wisdom its power and strength. Because of its intense holiness, this higher beginning is totally hidden within Wisdom and completely invisible from outside. When all the ministers and officers who receive from the King see that they all receive from Wisdom, they say, "Surely this is the beginning (Reishit) of everything, this is the source that never ceases." For this reason Wisdom is called "the beginning".
But included within Wisdom is this other, higher "beginning" [Keter]. There is no separation between the two. Everything brought about by Wisdom derives from this higher beginning, and it is from here that Wisdom receives its orders. There is nothing in the world that Wisdom brings about that does not derive from this other beginning, signified by the cusp of the Yud. You will find that the cusp is never separated from the Yud nor the Yud from the cusp. Thus all things have a beginning, and, in addition, there is the beginning of the beginning. This is the concept of the two beginnings (Be-reishit) of which I spoke above.
Why did scripture use an expression that bears two meanings? The reason is that since the day the world was created until the present time the world has not attained perfection. Everything depends on man's deeds. Had man not sinned, the universe would have come to perfection. Because of his sin, it was not perfected. So far the creation has only come to the level of rectification corresponding to Wisdom. But there is a far greater, higher level that is still to be attained. For when the hidden beginning (Keter) is revealed in all its power and glory, all the lights will come to a far greater, higher level, after which there will be no more decline. The lights have not yet attained this level, but in time to come they will indeed attain it. And then abundant good will come into the world. Peace and tranquility will reign everywhere, and sadness and sighing will be banished. Of those days it is said: "On that day YHVH will be one and His Name one".
If I were to expand on this matter, it would lead into very extensive discussions that would take me way beyond the bounds of my subject. It is humanly impossible to grasp every single detail to the very end. Accordingly I will not stray far from the path. I will simply set before you a number of introductory explanations. Examine them carefully and you will gain an understanding of hidden secrets that are sealed up and reserved for the remnants whom God calls, secrets that serve as the garb of the Ancient One (cf. Isaiah 23:18 as explained in Pesachim 118a).
What you must know is that until now all the lights and all the levels have been based only on Wisdom (Chochmah), whereas in the future the concealed beginning [Keter] will be revealed and all things will ascend to the greatest, most precious levels.
Know too that the sin of Adam spoiled everything and caused all perfection to become concealed, with the result that the world was not even able to return to its previous state [i.e. the level of Wisdom] except in the days of Solomon, when the Temple was first built. Thus it is written: "And God gave wisdom to Solomon" (I Kings 5:26). For then Wisdom was revealed in all its beauty and radiant glory, enabling all the lights to shine with great strength and joy. In those days, on every level in all the worlds there was only holy power and delight the like of which had never been seen. Even so, because everything was based only on Wisdom and did not reach the ultimate goal [of Keter], this peace and tranquility came to an end and the Temple was destroyed.
But in time to come, when the hidden beginning I mentioned [Keter] is revealed, the happiness will be far, far greater, and it will never cease. All things emanate from their source. Likewise, all the rules governing the lights and their functioning, whether in motion or at rest, follow their source. Any change in the source from which the lights receive affects the whole world. For this reason, in time to come the world will undergo many changes, and the Holy Temple will certainly be different since this is the place from which life is channeled to all the creatures in all the worlds.
The First Temple, then, corresponds to Chochmah, the Wisdom that was given to Solomon and with which he built the Temple, as I have explained, while the future Temple corresponds to the hidden beginning [Keter] that has yet to be revealed.
Nevertheless, there is certainly nothing new under the sun. All the changes and developments that have taken place and continue to take place every single day for the six thousand years of creation were decreed at the very outset. Even so, in time to come, when the boundaries of Chochmah are surpassed, the world will enter a new state of joy. This is a great fundamental, though I will not discuss it at length now. Let me just say briefly that initially God made all things the way they are now on the basis of Chochmah alone, yet they contain within them the power to be ordered according to the supreme beginning [Keter]. And when this beginning is revealed, everything will be drawn after it through the original power already planted within them at the outset. The entire creation will then be renewed as if it was born at that moment. That is why Isaiah spoke of: "The new heavens and the new earth" (Isaiah 66:22).
And now I will reveal a very great secret, so apply your intelligence resolutely in order to descend to the depths of the matter. Know that this future Temple is the one that Ezekiel the Prophet saw immediately after the destruction of the First Temple. You have already heard that the Temple above never ceased to exist even though the Temple below was destroyed. For the Temple in this world could only be built through the great power of the lights [the Sefirot], which radiated from level to level until they reached this world, producing the Temple. In the absence of this power the Temple could not remain in this world. But this did not mean that the Heavenly Temple had to be destroyed. It simply became darkened and did not shine as at first.
However, those familiar with the paths of wisdom know a great secret: had those who lived when Solomon built the First Temple not fallen into sin but held firm to the path of purity, they would have ascended from level to level until everything was perfected. The world would then simply have changed directly from one state to another, and what was to have been revealed would have been revealed.
But the influence of evil and the proliferation of sinners caused the destruction of the First Temple that was built according to the initial design. When this happened, the Heavenly Temple no longer stood in its original form. In a single moment it disappeared and was rebuilt in a different form and structure: that of the future Temple. One building disappeared and the other appeared without so much as a hairsbreadth between them. However the new structure was not revealed in the lower world. Only in the future will it be revealed. But in the upper world, from that day on, so it was and so it is.
That is why Ezekiel saw it, for it was already built and standing. Had the Jewish People only been worthy, the redemption in the time of Ezra should have been like the redemption from
Since the people failed to improve their ways, the redemption in the time of Ezra was a quiet affair and they did not have the strength to build the Temple according to the plan of the future Temple. On the instructions of the prophets among them they built it partly like the First Temple and partly like the future Temple which already existed above. But the time was not ripe for them to build it entirely like the future Temple.
Thus in the time of Solomon the two Temples - in this world and the higher world - were in perfect alignment, and accordingly the Shechinah found a resting-place and dwelled in the earthly Temple. But the Second Temple was not similar to the Heavenly Temple and the Shechinah did not dwell in it.
However, in time to come, not only will the two Temples be similar, but the Upper House will extend until it reaches the lower world. This is the meaning of the saying of our Rabbis that the Third Temple will be the work of the hands of God. For the Heavenly Temple will not be uprooted from its place. Rather, it will extend until it reaches the lower world, and then around it will be built a physical structure as fitting in this material world, and the two structures will be joined and become one and will never again separate. God's glory will be fully revealed there, as it is written: "And the glory of God will be revealed, and all flesh will see" (Isaiah 40:5). Then there will be complete peace and happiness forever.
There is an allusion to this secret in the verse: ". the Sanctuary, ADNY, that Your hands established [Konenu כננו]" (Exodus 15:17). The beauty of the limbs and ornaments of the Shechinah is revealed according to the way she receives. When the light of this beginning will shine, the glory of Her crown [Keter] will be greatly exalted. Thus the Sanctuary will be built on the foundation of Keter, and the numerical value of the letters of the word KoNeNU, כננו (126) is equivalent to that of א' א"ד אד"נ אדנ"י which shines in this Crown. All these matters are very deep and far more rooted in wisdom than might appear.
". And behold, there was a man whose appearance was like brass with a linen cord in his hand and a measuring rod. And the man said to me: 'Son of man, see with your eyes and hear with your ears and set your heart on all that I will show you.'" (Ezekiel 40:3-4).
Note that all the dimensions of this House were measured with a "measuring rod" [Kney Hamidah, קנה המדה] (see Ezekiel 40:3). This great secret relates to my discussion about how this building is constructed in accordance with the lights of Keter. No matter where the lights spread out, every single one of them has within it the appropriate measure as it emerges from the source. It is this measure that keeps each individual light within its proper boundaries. Therefore, as this House is built in its proper form, the correct measure of every single part is fixed, and everything stands in the proper order.
Let me explain this. All the various chambers, courtyards and other places are built by one "builder": this is the ninth light [Yesod, Foundation], called by the sages "the life of the worlds", since it is the source of life for all. This light is called "a rod", and now indeed it is the "measuring rod", since it includes the quality of strict measure in order to set limits to the various buildings and structures that emerge from it.
It is really the "linen cord" [פתיל] that signifies the quality of strict measure, for linen is rooted in Gevurah, strength, strict judgment and limitation. The "cord" consists of ten very powerful lights drawn from Gevurah to set limits to all things and keep each creature within its proper boundaries. These ten lights are ten names of YHVH all expanded with Heh's [the "expansion" of 52] as known to the sages. [52 x 10 = 520, numerical value of the letters of פתיל.] These are the names of Gevurah which give measure and limits to all. It is from this cord that the light I mentioned [i.e. Yesod, the "rod"] receives its quality of strict measure. It is then called the "measuring rod", and all its buildings therefore emerge from it with their proper measurements.
Know that six hundred and twenty great and powerful lights emerge from the first light, the hidden beginning [Keter] that I mentioned earlier. They are rooted in two great names filled with power and strength: El El [א"ל א"ל]. For as these two names display their great power and glory, each one spreads into three hundred and ten worlds. [The numerical value of א"ל is 31; 31 x 10 = 310.] Twice three hundred and ten is six hundred and twenty, the numerical value of KeTeR, the Crown. For these two names are set in a most exalted, awesome crown. Three hundred and ten of these lights remained in their place, while the other three hundred and ten were given from Keter to Chochmah and Binah. They were divided between them so that each received one hundred and fifty-five (numerical value of the word KaNeH, "a rod"). This is the secret of the verse, "Acquire [kneh] wisdom [Chochmah], acquire [kneh] understanding [Binah]" (Proverbs 4:5).
It is Binah that sets limits and measures, for she is their source. When the quality of strict measure reaches Yesod it takes on her name and is called "the measuring rod". See how all this results from the revelation of that "beginning", for it is the source of these two rods. The left rod [the 155 lights, or KaNeH, taken by Binah] is for measuring, as I have said. The length of the rod is six cubits. Each cubit is six handbreadths. See, therefore, how all the lights are bound together in this light, which is called "All," since all are contained within it. There are six directions [the six ketzavot, alluding to the six sefirot from Chesed to Yesod, all of which are included in Yesod], and when they are all connected to one another, they make thirty-six, corresponding to the length of this rod [36 handbreadths].
Until now I have spoken in general terms and set forth a comprehensive introduction to the subject. Now I will turn to specifics and with the help of Heaven I will provide a clear, detailed explanation of the form and structure of the Temple in detail. I will follow the path of the flow of sustenance and blessing [Shefa] as it emerges from the source and spreads forth on all sides. I begin therefore with the place from which the flow emerges, and I will tell you in which directions it travels after leaving there, and which path it takes at the beginning and which path it takes at the end.
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by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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