The Colors of the Eye - Part 1
In Kabbalah we are taught that the eye is a miniature mirror that reflects the entire man as created in the image of God, both body and soul.
The eye possesses four colors that correspond both to the four letters of God's essential Name Havayah, as well as to the four legs of the Divine
throne and chariot.
The white of the eye reflects the yud of the Name Havayah and corresponds to the power of wisdom--Divine insight--and its emotive derivative (along
the right axis of the sefirotic tree of life), the power of lovingkindness. These are the spiritual attributes of our first forefather, Abraham.
Around and penetrating into the white "sea" (of wisdom) of the eye are tiny but visible red blood vessels. In Jacob's blessing to his son Judah, he
blesses his eyes to become red from good wine. From this we understand that wine--which itself is red and is even referred to in the Torah as the
"blood of grapes"--brings out the red in the eyes. The red in the eyes reflects the hei of the Name Havayah and corresponds to the power of
understanding (the left intellectual power)--the ability of the soul to meditate on the Divine (the spiritual service referred to in the Torah,
metaphorically, as "drinking wine")--and its emotive derivative, the power of might (together with its inner property, the power of awe). These are
the spiritual attributes of our second forefather, Isaac.
In general, when we speak of the color of the eye--which distinguishes one individual from another--we refer to the color of the iris. Here, one is
either blue-eyed, brown-eyed, or green-eyed, with various shades in between. In the terminology of the Torah, all of these colors are
considered to be shades of a general color referred to as "yellow-green" (yarok).
The particular color of each individual's eyes reflects the vav of the Name Havayah and corresponds to the central power of the mind, knowledge
(da'at). Our sages teach that it is each individual's da'at that distinguishes his personality from another's: "Just as each individual's
face is unlike another's, so is each individual's da'at unlike another's." Here, the particular color of the eye varies from individual to individual.
Da'at is referred to as the "key" that opens all of the chambers of the
heart, the six emotive powers from chesed ("lovingkindness") to yesod ("truth," "faithfulness,"
and "devotion"). These in turn correspond to the full spectrum of the colors of the rainbow. With respect to the particular colors of the eye,
the various shades of blue correspond to the heart's right axis, chesed ("lovingkindness") and netzach ("victory," "confidence"); the various
shades of brown correspond to the heart's left axis, gevurah ("might," "awe") and hod ("thanksgiving," "glory"); the various shades of
yellow-green correspond to the heart's middle axis, tiferet ("beauty," "mercy")and yesod.
Though da'at opens all the chambers of the heart, its major derivative--its primary manifestation in the emotions--is the power of tiferet (yellow) and
the latter's immediate and direct derivative, the power of yesod (green). Yellow is the color of the sun and green is the color of vegetation
nourished by the sun's light rays (by the process of photosynthesis). We thus understand why, in the terminology of the Torah, yellow-green is
chosen to represent the all-inclusive color (whose shades vary from person to person).
Tiferet means "beauty," defined in Kabbalah and Chassidut to be the harmonious blending of many colors together. The beauty of the eye is in
its individual color, which in a certain sense reflects or suggests the full spectrum of the rainbow.
The spiritual attributes corresponding to the eye's individual color, da'at and tiferet, are those of our third forefather, Jacob. Of Jacob it is said
that "his bed is complete," with twelve holy sons, the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel. Each tribe possessed its own color, the color of
its precious stone in the breastplate of the high priest and that displayed on its flag (which marked its campsite in the desert).
Finally, we come to the pupil of the eye, whose color --or better, absence of color--is black. The pupil of the eye is referred to in the Torah as the
"daughter" of the eye. In Kabbalah the "daughter" figure is always associated with the power of malchut ("kingdom"), the last of the sefirot,
which, "possessing nothing of its own" (only that which it receives from above), corresponds to black (the experience of existential lowliness and
distance from God, the inner property of malchut).
This is the property of King David, who said, "and I shall [always] be lowly in my own eyes," most clearly alluding to the intrinsic state of
lowliness within the eye, its black pupil.
The power of sight emanates from the inner point of the pupil of the eye. As in the beginning of creation, light shines out of the
darkness--"darkness precedes light." The prophet states, "from afar God appears to me," from the innermost point of the existential state of
feeling "afar" from God (the inner point of the pupil) does God's light shine to the eyes of man.
The Colors of the Eye - Part 2
According to Kabbalah's analysis of Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones, the four constituent components of the human body--bones, blood vessels, flesh,
and skin--correspond to the four letters of the Name Havayah. The fifth, spiritual level that gives life to the body, the spirit ("From four
directions, come, O spirit, and blow into these corpses, that they may live"), corresponds to the fifth, transcendent level of the Name Havayah,
the upper tip of the yud.
Similarly, with regard to the eye--the entire physical body and spirit of life is encapsulated in the eye--its four colors correspond to the four
letters of the Name Havayah as do the four general constituent components of the human body: the white of the eye to the bones and the yud; the red
to the blood vessels and the first hei; the color of the iris to the flesh and the vav; and the black pupil to the skin and the second hei. The eyes'
power of sight corresponds to the life-giving spirit of the body and to the fifth, transcendent level of the Name Havayah, the upper tip of the yud.
Here, the upper tip of the yud appears in the inner point of the second hei, in the secret of "the end is enwedged in the beginning, and the
beginning in the end."
Our sages establish the correspondence of the spirit of life to the sight of the eye, as well as that of the father (chochmah) to the color white and
the mother (binah) to the color red in the following description of the formation of man:
There are three partners in [the formation of] man: the Holy One, blessed be He, the father, and the mother. The father contributes the whiteness,
which becomes the bones, the sinews, the nails, the brain in the head, and the white of the eye. The mother contributes the redness, which becomes the
blood, the skin, the flesh, the hair, and the black of the eye. And the Holy One, blessed be He, contributes the spirit [of life], the soul, the
form of the face, the sight of the eyes, the hearing of the ears, the speech of the mouth, the raising of the hands, the walking of the legs,
understanding, and intellect.
To summarize (with regard to the eye):
God's Name----Sefirah----Aspect of eye----Archetype
upper tip of yud--keter--power of sight--Divinity
hei--binah--red (blood vessels)--Isaac
vav--da'at and the midot--color of iris--Jacob
In the Zohar, the secret of the eye, the secret of sight, is seen to relate to the holy day of Shabbat. In Hebrew, the word for Shabbat is composed of
three letters: shin, beit, and tav.
The letter shin is formed of three lines (three vavs, each with a head, a yud, at its top) rising out of a common base. These three lines allude to
the three patriarchs of the Jewish people, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and so the letter shin is referred to as "the letter of the patriarchs."
The two remaining letters of the word Shabbat, the beit and the tav, spell the word bat, "daughter." The shin of Shabbat thus alludes to the three
colors of the eye around the pupil, while the beit and tav of Shabbat allude to the pupil itself.
On Shabbat, the day that alludes to the revelation of the world to come, the rectified eye of man--which reflects all three patriarchs together with
King David--merits to envision the Divine light of Shabbat, alluded to in the word Shabbat (which in the Zohar is taken to be a Name of God), which,
when seen as a whole, manifests light that infinitely transcends that of its component letters.
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