Chapter Twenty

 

BALARAM AND BALAM

 

DEVOTEE: Rabbi, in the Vedas, Lord Balaräma is known as the first expansion of God. In the Jewish teachings do you know of any names corresponding to this?
RABBI: This name can be found in the name of the founder of the Kabbalist movement, the Rabbi Balsham Tov. Balsham means the "master of the Holy Name." On examination of Balsham, we find the name Bal that is a shortened form of Balam, the second expansion of God's personal energy. and Sham, which means all of God's Names are one. The personality or aspect of God represented by the name Va (in YHVH) is the same as God's second expansion, Balam. Balam is also the source of binah or understanding that knowledge by which God reveals Himself and His spiritual creation.
DEVOTEE: Rabbi, can you further explain the Jewish meaning of Balam?
RABBI: This word occurs only once in scripture in the verse, "He stretches the north on Chaos, He hangs the Earth on Nothingness." [Job 26:7] According to many commentaries, the word Beli, meaning without, and mah, meaning what or anything. The word Beli-mah would then mean without anything, or nothingness. Other sources state that Belimah comes from the root Balam, meaning to bridle. Similarly, the Biblical verse, "He hangs the earth on the ineffable", would mean that the forces that uphold creation cannot be described. A leading Kabbalist, Rabbi Issac of Acco (1250-1340) points out that belimah has a numerical value of 87 whereas God's name Elohim has a value of 86. Belimah therefore represents the stage immediately following the pure essence of the Divine. [Sefer Yetzirah 1:2]
DEVOTEE: According to the Vedas, Lord Balaräma, in His expansion of Ananta Çeña, holds up all of the planets of the universe. Generally planetary positions are attributed to the laws of gravity. But it is actually all made possible by an expansion of Lord Balaräma's energy. Additionally, Lord Balaräma is known as the original guru or giver of knowledge, and Lord Brahmä (the first created person in the universe) is the original recipient of knowledge from God in the material world. Is there a similar first person in Jewish history?
RABBI: As I understand, Brahmä is said to have four heads. There is an obscure reference to a four-headed angel in the Talmud. It is said, "Angels are supposed to have no back and four faces, so always to be able to behold God."[Talmud, cf. Ezek i. 6] Also, many rabbis say that an ancient Abraham, with secondary creative power like Brahmä is being referred to when speaking of Brahmä. * Ref. Verse Abraham from Zohar
DEVOTEE: In the Bhagavad-géta, Lord Krsna states, "Of letters I am the letter A, and among compound words I am the dual compound. I am also inexhaustible time, and of creators I am Brahma."[Bg. 10.33] In the Jewish teachings, is there anywhere that God is represented by the letter A?
RABBI: According to the Kabbalist, the letter Aleph denotes Keter (crown), the highest of the Sefirot. The Kabbalists call Keter the level of Nothingness (Ayin-). It is on this level that the laws of nature cease to exist, and can therefore be altered. [Sefer Yetzirah 1.1]
DEVOTEE: Rabbi, in the First Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, there is a long description of how Lord Brahmä created the planets, stars, and bodies of all living entities within this universe. Until he executed the creative process, there was no order, only chaos.
The material energy existed but was unmanifest. Can you tell me more about the original Abraham and how he may be connected with the creation?
RABBI: Yes. The original Abraham has practically the same function and the same name as Lord Brahmä. For example, in Hebrew, Abraham is pronounced A-brahma-m. Furthermore, there is a description of how the universe was in chaos until Abraham appeared. It is said, "Over the whole, there hovered Tohu (chaos) and as long as Tohu dominated, the whole world was not in being or existence. When did that key open the gates and make the world fruitful? It was when Abraham appeared." [Genesis II 4]

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