The Sea Monsters

“Come unto Pharaoh.” It should have said, “Go unto Pharaoh.” But He allowed Moses into rooms within rooms, to one high sea monster, from which several degrees descend.

And Moses feared and did not approach, except to those Niles that are his degrees. But he feared the monster itself and did not come near because he saw it rooted in the upper roots.

Since the Creator saw that Moses was afraid and no other appointed emissaries above could approach it, the Creator said, “Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great monster that lies in the midst of his rivers.” The Creator needed to wage war against him, and no other, as it is written, “I, and no emissary.” And they explained the wisdom of the monster that lies in the midst of his Niles to those “who travel on the road,” who know the secret of their Master.

Zohar for All, Bo [Come], Items 36-38


The Book of Zohar speaks about us. It tells us about what happens within us and only within us—albeit in a very peculiar way that often seems like a fairytale story or a history book. We have lungs, kidneys, spleen, and other organs. But in addition, in our feelings, there are many desires, qualities, thoughts, and drives. In other words, besides the physical body, there also exists the human in us.

Who is the human in us? If we open our souls up and examine them, we will find what the authors of The Zohar write about. In the human in us there are qualities known as “Moses,” “Pharaoh,” “monsters,” “Niles,” etc.. We must try to find them within.

What does searching for them within give us? In truth, it gives us nothing. However, by trying to find these qualities within we draw upon ourselves “the light that reforms,” and this is what we are meant to want. There is no danger of misunderstanding. Even if we understand everything backwards, it will make no difference. What counts is the effort.

Let us assume that a person walks out at the end of a Zohar lesson and thinks, “I did well today! I felt that I really understood what Moses and what Pharaoh mean within me.” Yet, this is completely meaningless. It may well be that next time, that same person will feel, “I didn’t get any of it today; it’s all dry. Except for a minute or two, I couldn’t even concentrate.” However, those few minutes are exactly what that person gained.

It is with good reason that Baal HaSulam wrote in the “Introduction to The Study of the Ten Sefirot” that the states of concealment are the states in which one can toil. One who strains during the darkness and feels that it is pointless should understand that states in which one is made to labor without receiving something to refresh the ego, pride, understanding, the mind, and the feeling are very good for one’s spiritual progress. We must welcome states that feel bland, since it is through them that we grow.


“And God created the great sea-monsters,” which is the whale and its female partner. The word “monster” [in Hebrew] is written without a Yod, since he killed the female, and the Creator elevated her to the righteous. Hence, only one great monster remained. Also, know that a whale is a pure fish.

The whale and his female partner are of a very high root. This is because the sea is Malchut from the discernment of Hochma, and the most important of all sea creatures is the whale. Thus, he is the whole of the Hochma in the sea, although he does not extend from Hochma herself, but from Bina that returned to Hochma, the left line in her, called, “the point of Shuruk.” This is why it is written about them, “And God created the great sea-monsters,” since Bina is called Beria.

And yet, his place was not determined as the sea itself, which is Malchut de [of] Atzilut. Rather, a place was prepared in the world of Beria, outside of Atzilut, below Malchut deAtzilut, which are the ten Niles.

Zohar for All, Bo [Come], Item 39


What does that depiction give us if we do not understand it and do not know how to connect it to us? Baal HaSulam could have explained the words of The Zohar in a little more emotional style, a little closer to us, in addition to the explanation of the language of Kabbalah. Yet, he leaves us room for effort, for searching for its meaning, what it is for, and where it is happening within us.

We are in Ein Sof, and there are 125 concealments from our current sensation to Ein Sof. We must try to feel our real state more and more vividly to “regain consciousness.” We are given this story specifically so we will begin to search. The search will yield within us new qualities and discernments with which we will begin to feel what we currently can’t. Otherwise, the ability to sense spirituality will not develop in us.

There must be an effort on our part here, as it is written, “The reward is according to the effort.” There is nothing else but effort here, which is why it was said, “You labored and found, believe.” When will finding come? When the upper light affects us sufficiently and the spiritual sense is complemented within us at its first degree.

Knowing has no significance here, only wanting. We must want to feel what is really happening here, and not the words. “Spiritual attainment,” as the Hazon Ish [1] said, “Is a subtle leaning of the fineness of the soul.” It is impossible to acquire it with the intellect, but only with the will of the heart.

It is with good reason that The Book of Zohar is abstruse. When we open that closed gate, we enter spirituality. Time and time again, day after day, without understanding what is happening, we will advance toward a state where all of a sudden, we will begin to feel something. At that point, internal responses to the words will awaken in us. And thus, we will naturally feel how a reality is formed within us and how a new world is being structured within.



[1] Rabbi Abraham Isaiah Karlitz (1878-1953), Faith and Confidence

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