The Healing of Body and Soul

Kabbalah and Healing: The Healing of Body and Soul – Part 37 – Further Allusions to Wolf, Lion and Snake

Just as the two-letter root of the word for "wolf" (ze'ev) is "flow" (zav), so the two-letter root of the word for "lion" (ari) is ar, which means either "to collect" or "to gather" (arah)–appearing in the Torah in the sense of "gathering" or "harvesting" vegetables, fruit, or fragrant spices–or "light" (or). As the word "light" is also used in the Torah to mean "vegetable," the integrated meaning of the root ar is understood to allude to the power to gather–"harvest"–potent or viable sparks ("lights," which, as in the physical process of photosynthesis, produce food–carbohydrates).

The power to gather holy sparks, referred to in Kabbalah as the power to clarify reality, is the power of the heart, the power of the lion. The lion pounces on his prey, a symbol in Kabbalah for identifying and redeeming fallen sparks which, in the consumption of his prey, he elevates to their source in holiness.

The heart in the body is continuously in a state of war. So we find stated in Sefer Yetzirah: "the heart in the living body is as a king at war." The lion is the king of the animal kingdom. He is continuously in a state of war to capture the sparks entrapped in his enemy and elevate them to their source. This is the holy lion. The profane lion, the focus of fear of the lion-syndrome described above, captures human sparks and in consuming them pulls them down to a lower level of reality.

The root of the word for "snake" (nachash) means "to guess." This is a forbidden practice, according to the Torah, a form of witchcraft. "Guessing" is a distortion of the mind, as explained above with regard to the venom of the snake that goes directly to the mind.

The holy snake, the holy "guesser," is the possessor of the holy spirit to ever intuit in truth. And so says Joseph the righteous of himself: "For a man as myself shall surely guess [correctly]."

As explained above, the snake-image returns to that of the wolf insofar as both manifest sexual impulse. Joseph the righteous epitomizes in the Torah the rectification of the sexual drive. He is the holy snake, and thus the holy guesser.

A further line of thought: we saw above that the wolf relates to the time of "evening" (and "morning"). Similarly, the lion, whose name is cognate to "light," relates to the time of day (as in the beginning of creation: "God called the light day"). The two-letter root of "snake" (nachash) is chash, also the root of the word for "darkness" (choshech). Thus, the snake alludes to the time of night ("…and the darkness He called night"). Here, we see again how the wolf links the lion to the snake; the two transitional "twilight zones" of morning and evening bridge and link the day to the night.

The fear of the lion, the fear of murder, is a day-like fear. The fear of the snake, the fear of insanity (lunacy, a moon-related phenomenon), is a fear of night. The fear of the wolf, the fear of rape, is a fear of twilight.

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