Kabbalah is the secret meaning of the Torah and as such it employs a unique method of interpretation. A classic Kabbalah text, Sefer ha-Bahir, composes clarifications and reflections on different quotes from the Torah along with sayings by ancient sages. Gimatria, the numerical value of the Hebrew alphabet, is another famous method of extracting or investing meaning; the very nature of Hebrew calls for wordplay. Above all, according to Kabbalistic tradition, God created the world with the Hebrew letters that thus gained for them an ontological status.
Following this tradition, the Bahir interprets biblical verses to create new ideas and symbols that will eventually become part and parcel of the Kabbalistic lore.
Although seemingly unsystematic, the Bahir follows its own logic of association and improvisation.
For instance, a discussion of God’s attributes, “Holy Forms” of mercy and restraint (judgment), leads to the comparison of these traits with gold and silver and next to the reflection on gold:
“Why is [gold] called ZaHaB? Because it includes three attributes. “
The Bahir elaborates on the three letters Z, H and B (pronounced V.)
The letter Z in Hebrew is the first letter of the word male (Zachar), and the Bahir refers to the male attribute of the first six lower sefirot.
The letter Heh is the fifth letter, whose value is five. Here the Bahir brings up the five names of the soul:
“Nefesh (Soul), Ruach (Wind-Spirit), Neshama (Breath), Chaya (Vitality), Yechida (Uniqueness).”
Finally, Bet is the sustenance of the entire creation. Bet, the second letter of the alphabet, is the first letter of the Torah. It represents the Sefira of Chokhma (Wisdom), that links God and his creation.
In the following passage, the Bahir takes those three elements and recombines them into a new constellation. As a result, the male is now God, the Bet stands for creation, and the soul is the window that allows us to glimpse our creator.
Another example is when the Bahir discusses the Divine Presence that is manifested through the seven lower Sefirot: