Trumah: Chapter 96

"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand"


Rabbi Elazar says here that water is Chesed. Rabbi Shimon then replies that water is Binah, but that they are the same thing. He next explains the meanings in "and meted out heaven with the span," "and comprehended the dust of the earth as a measure," "and weighed the mountains in scales," and "and the hills in a balance." Rabbi Elazar then summarizes by saying that it is implied that Jacob, who is Tiferet, emerges from harsh Judgment because Isaac had harsh Judgment in his portion. Rabbi Shimon extends this argument by adding that Isaac (Gvurah) emerged from Chesed, therefore in all the levels Judgment emerges from Mercy and Mercy from Judgment: it is recognized that it is all one and that they all come from one. Rabbi Elazar, we find, thinks that it appears there is no perfection unless one is attached to the other, so that the Central Column, Mercy, unites Chesed and Judgment. He next says we have learned that it is not considered such a great distance between Chesed and Judgment, except from our viewpoint. Rabbi Yehuda then concludes by saying that all the candles illuminate from one, from Ein Sof (Infinity); all the candles are one, and we must not distinguish between them, for one who separates them is in turn separated from eternal life himself.


In this section, we read that God's judgment is achieved through understanding, measurement, and weighing and balancing, with the exercise of loving kindness and mercy. Spiritually, we are being taught that Light is an endless, infinite Force whose sole essence is goodness. This Light never stands in judgment of us. Nor does this boundless Force execute punishment. Good fortune and reward, judgment and punishment, are the result of the manner in which we knowingly or unknowingly interact with the Light that permeates all existence.

As a model, the force of electricity can bring great light and benefit to a city, comfort and security to a community. Or it can bring destruction if our fingers carelessly touch raw current. In the case of the latter, it is meaningless to say electricity punished us. The Zohar is providing us with the schematic of the cosmos, the blueprint of the soul.

It is our behavior, the blend and balance of judgment and mercy, that we extend to others that determines how much judgment and mercy the cosmos reflects back to us. Thus, we learn that a man offers compassion because he will one day need it. And a man bestows mercy for the times when he seeks it. Jacob, as the Central Column force, embodies the wisdom of balance, the perfection of sharing and receiving, judgment and mercy. Jacob creates a circuit of Light through the union of opposite forces, much like the filament in a bulb that unites, through resistance, the positive and negative poles to produce ordinary light. The wisdom and will to embody such balanced behavior is bequeathed to us through Jacob. The entire world is herewith measured, balanced, unified, and illuminated by the supernal candle, the Creator of the cosmos. And because mercy now grows in our heart, this is all achieved with boundless benevolence.