Zohar, Page 149b; translation and commentary
by Simcha Treister
and see: It is written "And he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold,
there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to
heaven; and he saw angels of Elo-him ascending and descending on it."
(Gen. 28:12) Now could it be that the holy Jacob, who represents the
perfection of the forefathers, only merited to have the Holy One blessed
be He appear to him in a dream? Furthermore he was at the site of the
future Temple on Mount Moriah yet only perceived G-d in a dream! But
Jacob was not yet married at that time and was therefore incomplete
and not worthy of perceiving the spiritual at the level of prophecy.
The tzadik of the generation, his father Isaac, was also still
alive at that time and therefore the primary source of divine revelation
still appeared through him.
Now you might say that even after he was married, it is
written that Jacob "saw in a dream" (Gen. 31:10) the striped
spotted and speckled rams, but that was outside Israel, which is the
Holy Land, where the level of prophecy can be attained, and also then
Isaac was alive. It was only later, when Jacob returned to the Holy
Land with his sons, the Tribes, accompanied by Rachel and Leah and the
holy Shechina which dwelled with them, as it is written "the mother
of sons is happy" (Psalms 113:9), that Jacob reached the level
of seeing a vision. Of this time it is written, "Elo-him
appeared to Jacob" (Gen. 35:9), and "Elo-him said to
Jacob in a night time vision" (Gen. 46:2). It is not written that
Jacob "dreamed" during this period because he was at a different
and higher spiritual level.
Come and see, dreams are facilitated through the angel
Gabriel, who is six levels below the level of prophecy.
Prophecy is associated with the sefirot of netzach
and hod of Atzilut. From hod count six sefirot,
yesod, malchut, chochma, bina, chesed
- to arrive at gevura of the world of Beriya, from which
dreams emanate. Gabriel constricts the burst of abundance received by
the dreamer, or prophet, from the Infinite Light.
[There is another type of revelation called "A reflection
of prophecy" or] "Mareh" [, which is a vision
seen as if in a mirror, in Hebrew, "mareh". This revelation]
is through the level which is the Life Force that rules in the night.
If you say [that this level is also associated with Gabriel, as Daniel
says, "And I heard a man's voice resounding between the banks of
the river Ulai, and he called and said,] 'Gabriel, make this man understand
the vision'" (Daniel 8:16), it is correct that Gabriel is associated
with both these levels of dreams and visions, although more so with
a "Mareh" because a vision is even harder to decipher.
A dream is more readily understandable, and more clearly decipherable,
than that which would be seen in a reflection of prophecy [a "Mareh"].
Gabriel is specifically appointed to explain the subject
matter of the reflected prophecy because it is more hidden.
The names used to describe G-d's appearance in the visions
of "Vayaira" (Gen. 35:9) and "Vaeira"
(Ex. 6:3), are similar to the word "Mareh", meaning
"mirror". [Thus it is said that the forefathers saw] a vision
of El Shadai which was in fact a reflection of the level of malchut
of Atzilut. This vision encompasses all other symbols and shapes
of the higher worlds, but is only like a mirror that reflects back that
which is in front of it, and not what stands behind it.
[In a vision, the spiritual content of the lower world
is revealed so that its higher source can be grasped.]
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Shmuel-Simcha Treister is a lawyer from New Zealand who made aliya
to Safed with his family in 1993 to study Zohar. He continues doing
so to this day. He also works in the Ascent multi-media center.