The Forgotten Language of Creation

Kathy Bernstein

Table of Contents
Before Creation
The Shattering
The Separation
The mysterious third thing
Works Cited

This paper examines two stories of creation, an English translation of the Torah, and one part of the Kabbalah story of creation, "The breaking of the vessels." I weave a numerological understanding of the numbers one, two, three and zero through these stories. The Torah's enumeration of certain events on specific numbered days gives further understanding and insight into the creation story. I compare the similarities of the Kabbalah story and the Torah's story of the first three days of creation, examining the numbers that are presented in these stories. The analysis of the creation process is in four parts: the Void (0), the Shattering (1), Relationship/Separation (2) and the Creation of the New "Third" thing (3). Throughout this analysis I attempt to bring out the implications for healing practice and personal growth that I have drawn from this project.


My History with Numbers

I have been studying numbers for over twenty years. My fascination with numbers began when I was five years old. While walking along a railroad track, I saw the number 37 on the head of a tack on a railroad tie and knew at that moment that numbers held more than a mathematical significance. This sparked my curiosity about what this earthly life is all about. In the 1970's I came across my first book on numbers and felt like a duck finding a pond for the first time. I had always been looking for a link to God and numbers felt like that link. My thinking was: if numbers represented sequence (and what could be more primal than sequence?) then, as I went back as far as I could in understanding that sequence, I would have to find God.

As a Numerologist I use a person's name from their birth certificate, and their birthdate and create a Numerology chart based on this information. From the chart I could perceive the kind of energy they embodied. This approach is (very roughly) similar to that of the Kabbalah. David Sheinkin, M.D. in The Path of the Kabbalah (58) writes about the letters that make up Hebrew words:

Each Hebrew word - with its particular combination of letters - is seen as a genetic-like code for the word. He uses an example: "Take the Hebrew word for "dog." By truly understanding the interrelation of the three letters of this word, Kabbalists insist, we know the very essence of a dog's nature - its "dogginess."

Looking at a person's chart has been a great neutralizer for me, in that looking at their "dogginess" as seen in a numerology chart tends to melt away prejudices I might have had about that person. If I had preconceived ideas as to their strengths and weaknesses, their assets and liabilities, looking at a chart would help me put these into perspective. I become more objective and less inclined to want to judge or "fix" them. In my mind's eye, I have always seen life as a Numerological cosmic energetic blueprint, weaving itself in and through God's creations. I have tried to make sense out of life by looking at it through this lens as it expands and contracts, but I didn't feel any closer to answering my life long question, "What is this all about?" About five years ago I realized that there was another aspect of numbers that I had not yet explored. I had spent 20 years looking at the apparent "dualistic" nature of numbers in looking at their seemingly "good" and "bad" aspects. I now have a glimpse of a unified wholeness of numbers. I previously called it the Higher Aspect of the number but never quite felt that was the word I was searching for. The shift to understanding the unified wholeness of numbers is about being with the wholeness and the fullness of the I in I-AM, of the "Who-am-I?" There is no separation of numbers here, yet there is a need in me to look at the pieces of the Whole.

Explanation of Terms

Torah, Kabbalah. As part of my presentation I will be discussing the Kabbalistic interpretation of the Torah, specifically the first book of Moses, called Genesis. The Torah consists of the first five books of the Old Testament, ascribed to Moses. Daniel C. Matt (1) explains the Kabbalah:

The Hebrew word Kabbalah means "receiving" or "that which has been received." On the one hand, Kabbalah refers to tradition, ancient wisdom received and treasured from the past. On the other hand, if one is truly receptive, wisdom appears spontaneously, unprecedented, taking you by surprise. The Jewish mystical tradition combines both of these elements. Its vocabulary teems with what the Zohar - the canonical text of the Kabbalah - calls "new-ancient words." Many of its formulations derive from traditional sources - the Bible and rabbinic literature - but with a twist.

Ain Sof. The Kabbalistic story of creation refers to Ain Sof, who in a sense is God. Regarding Ain Sof David Sheinkin (191) says:

Ain Sof. God or the "Infinite", from which all forms in the universe are created. Kabbalists teach that Ain Sof created the Ten Sefiroth as a link from man to him.

Sefiroth. I will also be talking about the Sefiroth, which according to the Kabbalah are ten states of being that create the universe. David Sheinkin (194) describes the Sefiroth as, "The ten energy essences that are said to be in constant interplay and underlie all of the universe." This project will make connections between the Torah story of creation, ideas from the Kabbalah, and the approach of Numerology. The Sefiroth have a basic numerological make-up explained here by Matt (4-5):

The account of Exekiel's chariot formed one major branch of early Jewish mysticism. The other branch was ma'aseh bereshit, the account of creation, or cosmology. The most important text concerning these secrets was Sefer Yetsirah, The Book of Creation, composed apparently in Palestine sometime between the third and sixth centuries. Here we are told how God created the world by means of twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the ten sefiroth - a term that appears for the first time in Hebrew literature. Genesis and Psalms had already indicated that divine speech was the tool of creation. "God said, "Let there be light, and there was light." By the word of God the Heavens were made; by the breath of his mouth, all their hosts" (Genesis I:I, Psalms 33.6). What is new in Sefer Yetsirah is the detailed speculation on how God combined the individual letters, as well as the idea of the Sefiroth, which in this text are numerical entities, living beings embodying the numbers one through ten, ciphers, metaphysical potencies through which creation unfolds. The notion that numbers are essential to the structure of the cosmos derives from Pythagorean mysticism. Gradually, however, the Sefiroth evolved into something more, becoming the central symbol system of Kabbalah.

This establishes the basis for connecting Numerology with the stories of the Torah and Kabbalah.

About the paper

According to Marie-Louise Von Franz (18), "Jung has called number the most primitive expression of the spirit." My project will explore this statement by looking at numbers in relationship to the days of creation. I will examine numbers as they are expressed in the accounts of creation found in the Torah and the Kabbalah. I will attempt to overlay the Torah's depiction of the first three days of creation with the Kabbalistic story of "the breaking of the vessels," and look at how a numerological understanding of numbers supports this integration. I will look at the Torah creation story and its images of pre-creation and the first three days of creation to deepen my understanding of each number. Held within this understanding is the realization that creation didn't just happen once, and is now finished, but that it is continually underway second by second. There is no separation in the days of creation; they work in unison. We separate them out for our own understanding.

The account of the Kabbalah given here is vastly oversimplified. My intent is to draw attention to the broad parallels I see between the Torah's text, some of the most basic ideas found in the Kabbalah, and some of my experience as a Numerologist with these numbers. I have tried to distinguish clearly between my interpretations, the interpretations of others, and the various sources.

Much of my work as a Numerologist has been focussed on interpreting numbers according to their apparent "dualistic" nature, in the sense of analyzing out the seemingly "good" and "bad" (or, "healthy" and "unhealthy") aspects of each number. However, each day of creation conveys a story about what "happened" on that day, and these stories provide a more unified understanding of the energy of each number. I will also look at the Trinity, which is the unified nature of the series of the numbers 0, 1, 2, and 3. I will look at my experience of these numbers along with various writings which relate to the stories of the numbered days of creation. Drawing on the descriptions in Torah's account of the first three days of creation, and the Kabbalistic story of creation, I will examine the unified nature of the series of numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, i.e. the Trinity, as this sequence reveals the connection between the Creator and Creation. I will attempt to answer the question, "How do numbers express Spirit and lead us back to the Divine?"

The 16th century German theologian and mystic Jacob Boehme taught that all existence is ruled by seven qualities or energies that create the cosmos and operate simultaneously. Boehme wrote (qtd. in Nicolescu 5):

The seven creations are in everything; no one is first, or second, or third, or last; but all seven are simultaneously first, second, third, and last. However, in ordinary language, it is necessary to speak of them as being placed one after another, otherwise one would not understand what is being said. For divinity is like a wheel composed of seven wheels, one inside another, where one can see neither beginning nor end.