It is written: 'The enlightened will shine like the radiance (zohar) of the firmament...' (Daniel 12:3). These are Rabbi Shim'on and his colleagues: Rabbi El'azar his son, Rabbi Abba, Rabbi Yose, Rabbi Hiyya, Rabbi Isaac, and the rest of his colleagues, who shone above like the radiance of the firmament. What does 'like the radiance' (kezohar) mean? [It means] only that when they composed that work, it was decreed above that it be called Sefer HaZohar. 'And those who lead the many to righteousness' (Daniel 12:3) whose souls are in it, are 'like the stars forever and ever' (Daniel 12:3), [i.e.] that their light will never become darkened forever and ever.
At the moment that that work was composed, permission was given to Elijah to confer with them on it, to all the heads of the academies above and below, and [to] all the hosts of supernal angels and the supernal souls, to be present in agreement and good will, as one [body].
Elijah began and said: Ruler of the worlds, You are One, but not numbered. You are higher than the highest, more mysterious than all mysteries. No thought can comprehend You at all. It is You who produced the ten perfections that we call the ten sefirot, by means of which You control the hidden worlds which have not been revealed and the worlds that have been revealed, and by means of them You conceal Yourself from humankind. You are the one who binds them together and unites them, and because You are in them, anyone who separates any one of these ten sefirot from the others is considered to have made a separation in You.
These are the ten sefirot, which follow this order: one long, one short, and one medium. It is You who control them, but no one controls You, neither above, nor below, nor on any side. You have prepared garments for them, from which souls fly into human beings. And You have prepared many bodies for them, which we call bodies in relation to the garments by which they are covered.
And they are known in this order: Hesed (=loving kindness) the right hand, Gevurah (=Power) the left hand, Tiferet (=Beauty) the body, Netzach (=Victory) and Hod (=Splendour) the two legs, Yesod (=Foundation) the extremity of the body, the sign of the holy covenant, Malchut (=Sovereignty) the mouth--we call it the Oral Torah, Hochmah (=Wisdom) the brain, i.e. the inner thoughts, Binah (=Understanding) is the heart, and of it (we say:) 'the heart understands' (mayvin), and of these two it is written: 'The secret things belong to the Lord our God,' (Deuteronomy 29:28). The supernal Keter (=Crown) is the Crown of Sovereignty (keter malchut), of which it has been said: 'Declaring the end from the beginning' (Isaiah 46:10). It is the skull of the tefillin, and within it are the [letters] yod, hay, vav, hay which is the way of emanation. It provides water for the tree, through its arms and branches, like the water which, when given to a tree, makes it grow.
Ruler of the worlds, You are the cause of causes and the prime mover, who waters the tree by means of a spring. And that spring is like the soul to the body, i.e. it is life to the body. In You there is no image or likeness of anything inside or outside. You created heaven and earth, and from them You produced the sun, the moon, the stars, and the constellations of the Zodiac, and on the earth, [You produced] trees and grass, the garden of Eden, plants and animals, birds and fish, and people, in order that through them the upper worlds might become known, and through them how the upper and lower worlds are controlled, and how the upper and lower worlds can be known. But no one can know You at all.
Apart from You, there is no unity in the upper and lower worlds, and You are known as the Lord of All. And as for the sefirot, each of them has a known name by which the angels are called. But You have no known name, for You fill all names, and You are the perfection of them all. When You remove Yourself from them, all names remain as a body without a soul.
You are wise, but not with known wisdom. You understand, but not with known understanding. You have no known place, except to make Your power and strength known to people, and to show them how the universe is controlled by judgment (din) and mercy (rachamim), i.e. righteousness (tzedek) and justice (mishpat), according to the deeds of human beings. Judgment is Power (Gevurah), justice is the middle pillar, righteousness is holy Sovereignty (Malchut), the just measures (moznei tzedek) are the pillars of truth, and the just hin (hin tzedek) is the sign of the covenant. All of it is to show how the universe is controlled. However, it does not mean that You have a known righteousness which is judgment, nor a known justice which is mercy, nor any of these attributes at all.
Rabbi Shim'on arose [and said], Matters have been renewed through you, for permission has been given to you to reveal hidden secrets through you, [permission] which has not been given to any human being until now.