ומאי בהו אלא תהו היתה וחזרה
Sefer HaBahir, verse 2 excerpt

Traditional interpretation: “What is bohu (desolation)? It is something that has substance.”

Liorah’s interpretation: “And what is bohu, but tohu sent out and returning?”

ומאי and what is

בהו bohu

אלא but

תהו tohu

היתה sent out (projected out)

וחזרה and returning

In other words, tohu and bohu, whatever they are discovered to actually be in terms of substance, are MADE OF THE SAME ESSENCE, for bohu is nothing more than tohu which has been “projected out” and is now “returning to its source”. In other words, tohu is like aur yashar, while bohu is like aur chozer.

Interestingly, tohu is usually considered feminine, and aur yashar masculine. Similarly, bohu is usually considered masculine and aur chozer feminine. There is an interesting gender mix here.

As with tohu and bohu, another interesting “same essence” connection flowing through my translation is with Purim, where we are commanded to drink wine until we can’t distinguish between ‘cursed be Hamen’ and ‘blessed be Mordechai’.

Purim celebrates metamorphosis, the transformation of anguish to joy. Sukkot is the “season of our joy“. Tonight for shabbat and sukkot, this is my Purim Torah!


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