II.3 The Head in the House
This is illustrated by the first word of the book of Genesis: Breshit – translated as “in the beginning”. The question poses itself: The beginning of what? And the Torah continues: of the creation of Heaven and Earth. The next question to ask ourselves is: Created out of what? The source of the word “Breshit” and the second word of the sentence bara, are only used, when the Torah speaks about creation ex nihilo – out of nothing. And here we find ourselves again in accordance with modern Astrophysics – Before the Big bang there was – nothing. After it everything we know came into being.
The spelling of the Hebrew word puts us in front of one of the quandaries the Bible is so fond of. As we can see it is made out of six letters, bet, resh, aleph, shin, jod, tav. Here we come to a seemingly paradox: the first letter of this word which implies creation is bet, which, however, is only the second letter of the alphabet and not, as we would expect, first. Since ancient times, scholars have asked themselves why the Torah does not begin with the first letter of the alphabet, the aleph ? which also has the numerical value of 1.
As the Torah is supposed to be the blueprint of creation, the choice of the second letter of the alphabet implies that there existed something before the physical creation, as we know it. This is exactly what is claimed by the kabbalah: Before our universe there existed light. According to quantum theory, light has a very interesting characteristic: It is made out of both waves and particles. The wave however is nothing but a probability, until it is being measured, observed or named. Only observation causes fixation or, to use a term of quantum physics: “It causes the wave to collapse.” Only after the collapse of the wave function, does light become particle and for us, reality. This explains why it is not bet, but aleph which is the first letter of the creation. Aleph, the first letter of the alphabet, is identical with a wave function or probability. As long as it is not named or fixed by a vowel, it is nothing. It doesn’t exist – the ayn of the kabbalah. Its graphic form ? fits also with this theory: One armlet of the letter points to the past, the other one to the future. One points to the earth and the other one to heaven. Heaven and earth are thus bound and separated at the same time, a problem we’ll discuss in details later on in the text.
We now come to the letter bet ?, the first letter of the Torah and the second of the alphabet (see annex II). Its form is very significant too. As Hebrew is written from right to left, the form of the letter bet shows: After creation has occurred, all potential directions but one are closed. The only one left open is the direction of the script itself. One can also say that it is only open to the future, not to the past. Once the unmanifest becomes manifest, once the potential has been realized, once one way is chosen, there is no way back. This fits in very well with the view of quantum physics: As we now know, before creation is perceived as such, light and by implication anything else is at the same time a wave and a particle. We also know that a wave has no fixed form, that it has the potential to become everything.
The letter bet has two more important aspects, both significant to our discussion. The first is that the numerical value of the letter is two – symbolizing the duality mentioned previously. Of more importance, however, is the name of the letter. As “bet” in Hebrew means “house” or “container” , this letter-word thus implies the existence of a duality, as a container is necessary only, when there is something to be contained. Could that be the reason that in the text of the Torah this specific letter bet is bigger than all the other ones? Could that possibly emphasize the importance of a house? Its prime importance.
Let us now consider what that might mean. According to an ancient tradition, God was holding the Torah in his hand and consulted it before creating the world. This tradition seems to us totally incredible, but maybe it is trying to teach us something about the creation of the world. In a previous chapter, we have already discussed the possibility that the world did not “just happen” and was not created in a haphazard way by a blind interaction of forces. As we have seen, it is more than probable that our world was created by an intelligence we called “the programmer” – which can also be designated as “divine”. The former view is the one which is now widely accepted. This, however, was not always true. Bible scholars of the past referred to the verse in Proverbs “JHVH has created me at the beginning of His way before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning before ever the earth was.” The Bible uses here the Hebrew word rosh which also means “head” for the word “beginning”. To an additional meaning of this word we’ll return later. The word “I” in this verse designates the Torah. Thus the word reshit (translated as “beginning”) also designates the Torah. Seen that way, the Torah existed before creation or even before Elohim, since the Torah speaks here about JHVH and not about Elohim. Breshit thus means “inside the Torah” and in the Torah Elohim was created. It’s also but logical that the Torah must have existed before Elohim, since He used it as a blueprint for creation.
If we accept the premise that the world was created by a cosmic or divine intelligence, it is more than probable that IT followed the four steps which we follow when we want to create something: vision, planning and design (the creation of a blueprint), production and trying out the product.
This postulate would fit in with the old hermetic principle: As above, so below. It would also fit in with the biblical notion that man was created in the image of God.
No real creation is possible without a vision. No creative process can start, before it has been visualized by its creator. That by itself is, however, not enough. In order for a vision to become reality, it has to go through the other three steps. To become that which we call reality, it has to be realized, materialized. Or, to go back to the language of the Torah, each creation, big or small, contains the vision of its creator, and nothing can be created without the containment of the vision. It would always remain a vision – a phantasm. Let’s use an analogy of daily modern life: In the engine of a motor-car, matter is changed into energy. If this wouldn’t happen inside a cylinder – a container – the energy would disperse. The Kabbalah uses a similar schema, but talks of four worlds: Aziluth or vision, something which comes out of the nothing, but has not yet left it. The first step in the direction of manifestation is Beriah, the creation of a blueprint, also called creation ex nihilo; then comes Jetzirah, the manifestation or production itself and finally Assiah, the trying out of the product.
That this is really what the Torah wants us to understand becomes clearer, if we look at the whole word, Breshit (fig.2).
As shown previously, it consists of six letters. The three letters coming after the bet – reish, alef, shin – together constitute the Hebrew word for head, rosh, the place where visions originate. But “head” in Hebrew also means “the beginning”, the most important part of something. The last two letters of the word Breshit are jod and tav. If we add these two letters to the first one, bet, we now get the complete word bajit (container). Looking at all the letters we realize that the word for “head” is bracketed – contained – by the word for “container“. The real meaning, therefore, of this first word of the Torah is not “in the beginning”, but “there was a vision which was contained” – or literally: “the head in the house”. Thus duality comes into being and the first step towards the materialization, the realization of the vision, is taken. Creation has begun!
Prof. Dr. Eli Lasch