The Nut Garden

Gleanings of Zohar

How Can a Person Grasp His Own Way?

hqdefaultFrom YHWH are the steps of a man, and how can a person grasp his own way? (Proverbs 20:24)

“Come and see: All events of the world depend on numerous suzerains, yet all inhabitants of the world neither know nor consider the foundation of their existence. Even Solomon, who was wiser than anyone in the world, could not comprehend them.

He opened saying, ‘He has made everything right in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Come and see: Happy are those who engage in Torah and know how to contemplate with the spirit of wisdom! He has made everything right in its time. Every action performed by the blessed Holy One in the world, each and every one, has a rung appointed over it, whether for good or for evil, some rungs to the right, some to the left. If a person goes to the right, performing an action, there is a rung appointed over to that side, offering him assistance; how many assist him! If a person goes to the left and commits his acts, the act he commits is appointed to that side, accusing him, conducting him to that side, leading him astray.

So, an act performed fittingly by a person is facilitated by the power appointed on the right. This is in its timeright in its time, for that action links with its time fittingly.

He has also set the world in their heart. The entire world and all its activity depend solely upon the desire of the heart, as it arises in the will of a human being [cf. Deuteronomy 4:39: And you shall know today and take to your heart]. Happy are the righteous who attract good deeds, benefiting themselves and the whole world [cf. BT Qiddushin 40b; Sotah 3b]! Woe to those who do not know the time of that action and do not care about performing their actions in the world according to the remedy needed by the world, aligning the action with its appropriate rung. Why? Because they do not know.

So, all is given to human רְעוּתְהוֹן (re’uthon), will, as it is written: yet a human cannot discover what God has done… (Ecclesiastes 3:11). And since those actions are not performed to be aligned fittingly with their rungs—that this act might be integrated in this rung, perfectly arranged—but rather according to human desire, what is written next? I know that there is nothing good in them but to be happy and do good in their life (ibid., 12). I know that there is nothing good in them—in those actions performed improperly. But to be happy with whatever befalls him and to offer thanks to the blessed Holy One and do good in his life. For look, if that action brings evil upon him through the rung appointed over it, he should rejoice in this and offer thanks since he brought it upon himself, going unknowingly like a bird into a snare.

How do we know all this? As is written: For a human does not know his time. Like fish caught in a cruel net, like birds seized in a snare, so humans are trapped in a time of calamity, when it falls upon them suddenly (ibid. 9:12). For a human does not know his time. What is his time? The time of that action that he performs, as has been said: He has made everything right in its time. So they are like birds seized in a snare. So, happy are those engaged in Torah, who know its ways and paths, so as to walk the way of truth” (Zohar 1:195b, cf. ibid. 2:134b).

“Rabbi Yehudah opened, ‘Happy is the people who know the shout of joy; O YHWH, they walk in the light of Your presence (Psalms 89:16). How essential for people to walk in the ways of the blessed Holy One and observe the commandments of Torah, so that thereby they may attain the world that is coming and be delivered from all accusations above and below! For just as there are accusers in the world below, so there are accusers above, looming over human beings [cf. M Avot 4:11].

Those who enact the commandments of Torah and walk a straight path, revering their Lord, how many advocates stand poised above them [cf. BT Shabbat 32a; ZḤ 14c (MhN)]! As is said: If he has an angel over him, one advocate among a thousand, to vouch for his uprightness, then He is gracious to him and says, ‘Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom’ (Job 33:23-24). So, happy is one who observes the commandments of Torah.

Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘If so, why is an angel required to be an advocate for that person? Look at what is written: For YHWH will be your confidence; He will keep your foot from the snare (Proverbs 3:26), and similarly: YHWH will guard you from all evil (Psalms 121:7)!

For the blessed Holy One sees everything that a person does in this world, whether good or evil, as is said: ‘If one hides in secret places, do I not see him? declares YHWH (Jeremiah 23:24). Rabbi Yehudah replied, ‘All is certainly so, but see what is written: Stretch out Your hand and touch his bone and his flesh…. YHWH said to Satan, [‘Here, he is in your hand, but spare his life’] (Job 2:5-6), and similarly: You incited Me against him to destroy him without cause (ibid., 3)—demonstrating that authorization is granted to the Other Side, authorization over matters of the world being given to one who, it should not be given. All these ways are concealed before the blessed Holy One, and we must not pursue them, for they are laws of the blessed Holy One, and human beings are not permitted to scrutinize them—except for the truly virtuous who know the secrets of Torah and walk in the way of wisdom, discovering those hidden elements of Torah’” (Zohar 2:32b).

For a Song of Desire God Created Heaven and Earth

2270261b“The frog is saying, ‘Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever’ (BT Pesaḥim 56a)” (Pereq Shirah 4).

“Our rabbis, of blessed memory, said, when King David completed the book of Psalms he became proud. He said before the blessed Holy One ‘Is there any creature You have created in Your world that utters more songs and praises than me?’ At the moment a frog appeared, saying, ‘David! Do not become proud, for I recite more songs and praises than you and every song I utter contains three thousand proverbs, as it says, And he spoke three thousand proverbs, and his poems came to five thousand (1 Kings 5:12) [צְפַרְדֵעַ (tsefarde’a), frog, is numerically equivalent to שְׁלֹמֹה בֶן דָּוִד (Shelomo ben David), Solomon son of David (Rabbi Ya’aqov Emden)]. I am also busy with a great mitsvah, and this is the mitsvah with which I am busy: There is a certain creature by the edge of the sea whose sustenance is entirely from the water and when it is hungry it takes me and eats me, such that I fulfill if your foe is hungry, feed him bread, and if he thirsts, give hime water, for you would heap live coals on his head, and YHWH will pay you back (Proverbs 25:21-22)—do not read יְשַׁלֶּם לָךְ (yishalem lakh), will pay you back, but יַשְׁלִימֵהוּ (yishlimehu), will make him at peace with you” (Yalkut Shimoni 150).

“Come and hear: Thaddeus of Rome taught: What [reason] did Ḥananyah, Mishael and Azariyah see that they delivered themselves, for the sanctification of the Name, to the fiery furnace [of Nebuchadnezzar]? They argued a minori to themselves: if frogs, which are not commanded concerning the sanctification of the Name, yet it is written of them, [And the Nile will swarm with frogsand they will come up and come into your house… and into your ovens and into your kneading pans (Exodus 7:28). Now, when are kneading pans to be found near the oven? When the oven is hot. We, who are commanded concerning the sanctification of the Name, how much the more so” (BT Pesaḥim 53b).

“What is the path to love and fear Him? When a person contemplates His wondrous and great deeds and appreciates His infinite wisdom that surpasses all comparison, he will immediately love, praise, and glorify [Him]—yearning with tremendous desire to know the Great Name, as David said: My soul thirsts for God, the Living God (Psalms 42:3)” (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah 2:2).

בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), In the beginning (Genesis 1:1). Rabbi El’azar opened, ‘שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת (shir ha-ma’alot), A song of degrees. In my distress I cried to YHWH, and He answered me (Psalms 120:1). The blessed Holy One created songs of desire at the creation of heaven and earth, so as to praise and glorify Him as the Creator of All. The heavens utter song in His presence, as is said: The heavens declare the glory of God (ibid. 19:2); and the earth utters song, as is said: Sing to YHWH all the earth (ibid. 96:1).

Furthermore, the entire world desires and delights to glorify their Creator, when they gaze upon His wonders in the heavens and on the earth. This is בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), In the beginning: contemplate the letters and you will see שִׁיר תָּאֵב (shir ta’ev), a song of desire; in other words, for a song of desire, God created heaven and earth—that every person will desire to utter song about His wonders in the heavens and the earth.’

What are those degrees that King David (peace be upon him) used to recite? They are the songs of those degrees comprising the heavens, as is said: Who constructs His degrees in heaven (Amos 9:6). David desired them and uttered them, and this is שִׁיר תָּאֵב (shir ta’ev), he desired song.

Rabbi El’azar also said, ‘It is written: When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7). Who are the sons of God? They are the angels who every night chant song in the presence of the Creator of the Beginning, corresponding to the three watches of the night. In every single watch, each of the companies chants song. In the last watch, at night’s end just before morning, all the stars and constellations, and the angels called sons of God utter song, as is said: When the morning stars sang together; each company according to its degree, teaching that height upon height keeps guard (Ecclesiastes 5:7), for they arranged by degrees, one above the other. Therefore it is said: A song of degrees (Psalms 120:1)—of the degrees of the angels who utter song. This is בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), In the beginning—שִׁיר תָּאֵב (shir ta’ev), for desired song, God created heaven and earth” (Zohar Ḥadash 5d-6a [MhN], Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 24b, 51).

Vitality of the World

Add. 27006“The rabbis taught: The creation of the world was like the creation of humanity, for everything that God created in the world, God created in man. The heavens; a head. The sun and the moon; eyes. And the stars are the hair on the head” (Otsar ha-Midrashim, Olam Qatan, 406).

 “Every single smooth member in the human body corresponds to a creature in the world” (Zohar 1:34b).

“Certainly the body and the two arms correspond to the three patriarchs and the head to אָדָם קַדְמָאָה (Adam Qadma’ah), Primordial Adam—the right arm corresponds to Abraham and the left arm corresponds to Isaac, the body corresponds to Jacob. Within the body, the liver is to the right, the spleen to the left—Esau and Ishmael. The heart is Jacob in the center [cf. Zohar 2:57b; Berit Menuḥa, Third Way on Isaiah 19:24]. The lungs and kidneys correspond to Abraham and Isaac—the lungs, water [Ḥesed], which draws in all sorts of elixirs; the kidneys, fire [Gevurah], cooking the seed that descends from the brain.

And since Abraham is water he places his offspring in the exile of Edom. This is why the liver and the gall that is in the liver are to the right of Abraham. [Edom’s] sword is the מְרֵרָה (mererah), gall, of which it is said: But in the end she’s as מָרָה (marah), bitter, as wormwood [sharp as a double-edged sword] (Proverbs 5:4, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 20b). And if the liabilities become greater in number among the children of Abraham, who are placed in the exile of Edom, and the מַרְעֵיהּ (mareih), bile, spreads over them from the side of the liver, they must be smitten and blood has to be drawn from the right arm. And ‘Whoever has his money taken is as though his blood was spilled’ (BT Babba Metsi’a 58b), for he remains poor, and a poor man is considered as dead [cf. BT Shabbat 129a-b; Gittin 70a; Zohar 3:227a (RM)].

But if the liabilities become greater in number among the children of Isaac they are exiled among Ishmael [cf. Zohar 2:17a (MhN)]. The bile spreads from the side of the spleen, on the left. And blood has to be drawn from the left arm, and not from any other.

And if liabilities become greater in number amongst the children of Jacob, who are scattered among the children of Esau and Ishmael, then the bile spreads over the body and blood has to be drawn from both arms [cf. Zohar 3:246a]. But if all three of them are afflicted as one, the bile then rises to the head and blood must be drawn from veins of the head. And these three became a chariot for Primordial Adam and the patriarchs, and acquire from them strength to suffer torments and protect the generation throughout the four winds of the world.

Woe to the generation that causes the patriarchs and Primordial Adam to be struck, for this includes also the righteous men amongst them, for there is no difference between Primordial Adam and the righteous and the patriarchs and Primordial Adam. This is because those are their נִשְׁמָתִין (nishmatin), souls, and their distress, pain, and anguish reach the patriarchs and Adam. Just as when a number of rivers flow out of the sea and return to it murky and dirty, and the sea removes their murkiness and dirtiness. And because of the sea’s valor, for it is strong, it does not suffer from their filth, but expels it, and the rivers remain clear and pure, without that filth.

Just as a mother cleans dirt from her little ones. Indeed the patriarchs remove the liabilities and the filth from their sons, Israel, when there are people of righteous deeds among them who are strong enough to suffer torments for the sake of the generation. At that time there is no difference between them [namely, the righteous of the generation and the patriarchs]. They all came and greeted him [Moses the Faithful Shepherd] and said to him: ‘Sinai, Sinai, through whose mouth the blessed Holy One, and His Shekhinah speak, who is able to confront Him in anything? Happy is our portion that we have merited to renew matters in this first part of the compilation [of Zohar] through you, so that the Shekhinah may give light in exile.’

He said to them: Rabbis of every generation, those who have been [or will be] during their time, and how much more so the Holy Lamp whose wisdom will shine in all the generations that come after him: do not give the blessed Holy One, quiet in Torah until the Holy Spirit is poured out on us…

None but you [Moses, Faithful Shepherd,] may use the great מְטַטְרוֹן שַׂר הַפָּנִים (Metatron Sar ha-Panim), Metatron Prince of the Countenance, since your name [מֹשֶׁה‎ (Moshe), Moses] is intimated in the initials of his [moniker].

And now there is need of a doctor to know by how many degrees the pulse of the patient, Israel, has increased in the exile of Edom, for it is said about him I am in a fever of love (Song of Songs 5:8). For a number of doctors gathered over him to consider the pulse in order to know when his illness would come to an end, but not one of them could understand them, for no doctor is competent to read the pulse of this particular patient, for there are beats of Teqiah Shevarim Teru’ah Teqiah, Teqiah Shevarim Teqiah, Teqiah Teru’ah Teqiah, as the prophet said about them: Like a woman with child, that draws near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and cries out in her pangs (Isaiah 26:17).

And all the ten shofar blasts are included in three תְּקִיעָה שְׁבָרִים תְּרוּעָה (Teqiah Shevarim Teru’ah). תְּקִיעָה (Teqiah)—the length of the exile. שְׁבָרִים (Shevarim), Moaning—the proximity of the exile. תְּרוּעָה (Teru’ah), Wailing Alarm—the coming redemption; teaching of the duress after duress with no respite between them [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 33b-34a]. And clearly, since the other nations make Israel’s exile more difficult, it is the duress that they exert that brings redemption closer. And so too in our case of the patient’s pulse: beats come faster, one after the other, with no space between them, and the man’s נַפְשָׁא (nafsha), soul, leaves him.

קשרק קש”ק קר”ק (Teqiah Shevarim Teru’ah, Teqiah Teqiah Shevarim, Teqiah Teqiah Teru’ah, Teqiah)—קֶשֶׁר (qesher), conspiracy, to remove שֶׁקֶר (sheqer), falsehood, from the world [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 16b]. Concerning this was the oath: מִלְחָמָה לַיהוָה בַּעֲמָלֵק (milḥamah la-Adonai ba-Amaleq), War for YHWH against Amalek for all time [the intial letters of which are numerically equivalent to ע”ב (seventy-two), cf. TZ 67a; TZḤ 115a] (Exodus 17:16). A simple, double, triple and quadruple song will arise in the world, where the letters [יהוה (YHWH)] will ascend: י יה יהו יהוה (Y YH YHW YHWH) [numerically equivalent to seventy-two, cf. ibn Ezra on Genesis 4:19]. At that time [the prayer] will be answered: ‘וּבְכֵן (U-vekhen), and therefore, the righteous shall see and be glad, the upright exult and the pious rejoice in song’ (Amidah for the Days of Awe). This additional “ו (six) [of ‘וּבְכֵן (U-vekhen)’ alludes to]the Sixth Millennium. The Second Temple was destroyed קע”ב (one hundred and seventy-two) years before [the Sixth Millennium]. And following the completion of רע”ב (two hundred and seventy-two), as in the verse, At עֶרֶב (erev), evening, you shall know that it was YHWH who brought you out [of the land of Egypt] (Exodus 16.6). Also, For your servant became עָרַב (arev), pledge, for the lad (Genesis 44:32) [you should know that all these dates mentioned in the Zohar refer to an arousal from above, which occur at these times for redemption, however, certainly it depends on the people’s actions and repentance (Sullam)]” (Zohar 3:218a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

Vitality of the World (Daniel 12:7).

Different Earth shall be Taken and the House Plastered

image“Rabbi Simlai expounded: What does an embryo resemble when it is in the belly of its mother? Folded writing tablets. Its hands rest on its two temples, its two elbows on its two legs and its two heels against its buttocks. Its head lies between its knees, its mouth is closed and its navel is open, and it eats what its mother eats and drinks what its mother drinks, but produces no excrement because otherwise it might kill its mother. However, as soon as it emerges into the atmosphere the closed organ opens and the open one closes, for if that had not happened the embryo could not live even one single hour.

A lamp burns above its head and it looks and sees from one end of the world to the other, as it is said, when He shined His lamp over my head, by its light I walked in darkness (Job 29:3). And do not be astonished at this, for a person sleeping here [in Babylon] might see a dream in Spain. And you have no days in which a human dwells in more happiness than in these days, for it is said, Would that I were as in moons of yore, as the days when God watched over me (ibid. 29:2); now which are the days that have moons but do not have years? These are the moons [i.e., months] of bearing [i.e., pregnancy].

It is also taught the entire Torah, for it is said, And he taught me and said to me: ‘Let your heart hold on to my words. Keep my commandments and live (Proverbs 4:4), and it is also said, [as I was in the days of my prime]—God an intimate of my tent (Job 29:4). Why the addition of ‘and it is also said?’—in case you might say that it was only the prophet who said that [so that it does not apply to other men], come and hear: God an intimate of my tent.

As soon as it emerges into the atmosphere an angel approaches, slaps it on its mouth and causes it to forget the entire Torah, as it is said, at the tent flap sin crouches (Genesis 4:7) [cf. BT Sanhderin 91b; Plato, Meno 80a-86c]. It does not emerge from there before it is made to take an oath, as it is said, That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear (Isaiah 45:23). That unto Me every knee shall bow—the day of dying of which it is said Before Him will kneel all who go down to the dust whose life is undone (Psalms 22:30); Every tongue shall swear—the day of birth of which it is said, the clean of hands and the pure of heart, who has given no oath in a lie and has sworn not in deceit (Psalms 24:4).

What is the nature of the oath that it is made to take? Be righteous, and never be wicked; and even if all the world tells you, ‘You are righteous,’ be in your eyes like a wicked person. Know that the blessed Holy One is pure, that His attendants are pure and that the נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul, He gave you is pure; if you preserve it in purity, well and good, but if not, I will take it away from you [cf. BT Berakhot 60b].

The school of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: This may be compared to the case of a priest who handed over some תְּרוּמָה (terumah), donation, to an ignorant peasant and told him, ‘If you preserve it under conditions of cleanness, well and good, but if not, I will burn it in your presence.’

Rabbi El’azar observed: What is the Scriptural proof [that an oath is taken on the day of one’s birth]? From my mother’s womb גוֹזִי (gozi) (Psalms 71:6). What is the proof that גוֹזִי (gozi) implies swearing?—because it is written, גָּזִּי נִזְרֵךְ (Gazi Nizrekh), swear your naziriteship, and cast it away [lit., cut off your hair and cast it away] (Jeremiah 7:29)” (BT Niddah 30b-31a).

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘If a person obtains a recycled soul and fails to have it rectified within him, it is as though he falsifies the truth of the King; and I apply to him this verse: or if he finds something lost and denies it and swears falsely (Leviticus 5:22). And denies it—better for him if he had never been created [cf. BT Niddah 30b; Zohar 3:13a]!

We have learned: ‘A completely righteous person is not thrust aside; an incompletely righteous person is.’ Who is completely righteous, and who is incompletely righteous? Could it be that one whose deeds are flawed is called righteous? [cf. BT Berakhot 7a-b, Megillah 6b, Bava Metsi’a 71a, Avodah Zarah 4a].’

‘Well, a completely righteous person is clearly recognized, for he has not taken tortuous convolutions; and with his inheritance he builds a structure, erects walls, hews out wells, and plants trees.

An incompletely righteous person is one who builds a structure with another’s inheritance—digging into it, restoring the foundation stones as before, toiling over it; yet he does not know if it will remain his. Furthermore, regarding himself, he is considered good and righteous; but regarding that inheritance, not so.

This may be compared to a person who builds a beautiful and attractive building. But when he examines the foundation, he sees that it is sinking and distorted in all directions. The building is incomplete until he demolishes it and rebuilds it anew. Regarding his building itself, it was fine and beautiful; but regarding the foundation, it was bad and distorted. So it is not called a complete project; it is not called a complete building. Consequently, ‘an incompletely righteous person is thrust aside [at the revival of the dead].’ Thus, while the wicked swallows up the one more righteous than he (Habakuk 1:13, cf. BT Berakhot 7b, Megillah 6b, Bava Metsi’a 71a)” (Zohar 3:213a-b).

“The Faithful Shepherd [Moses] said… In order that the bailiff [of Sheol] not recognize a person it is necessary to perform for him a change of place, a change of name, and a change of deed. As it was with Abraham, it was said: Go forth from your land and your birthplace and your father’s house (Genesis 12:1)—a change of place. And no longer shall your name be called Abram but your name shall be Abraham (ibid. 17:5)—a change of name. And there is also the change of deed, for he reformed his initial bad behavior, to performing good deeds. A similar thing happens with the spirit of a man who dies childless, for likewise the blessed Holy One does to the man in banishing him from that world and bringing him to this world. And this has already been discussed [see Zohar 3:97a-111a (RM)].

You change his face and send him away (Job 14:20). It is said the spirit עָבְרָה (avrah), passes by him (Psalms 103:16)—one of the evil messengers [called] עֶבְרָה (evrah), anger (Psalms 78:49). And when he encounters him and sees that he is changed the prince of destruction investigates, asking the bailiff ‘Is this your offender?’ and he answers ‘He is not.’ 

When he is banished from his place and planted elsewhere, it is said about him: And his place will no longer know him (Psalms 103:16), for different earth shall be taken and the house plastered (Leviticus 14:42). And this is the secret of he shall raze the house, its stones, and its timbers (Leviticus 14:45)—those bones, sinews, and flesh that he had returned to the dust. What is written about it? And עָפָר (afar), dust, shall be the serpent’s food (Isaiah 65:25)—since he was afflicted. Later: And different עָפָר (afar), earth, shall be taken and the house plastered—to build for himself bones and sinews, as an old house is renovated, he is certainly renewed.

What about And his place will no longer know him? This is [his] spirit, for his little spirit is engulfed in supernal spirit. This is similar to a tree that is not producing fruit. They take his branches and graft onto a superior tree which produces fruit, combining both into each other. Of this time it is said, And his place will no longer know him.

And so it is with a man who lives in a city where bad people dwell, and he is unable to keep the decrees of Torah and is not successful in Torah. He should change his place of residence and move from there, and settle somewhere with good people, Masters of Torah, who keep the decrees [cf. M Avot 6:9]. This is because Torah is called a Tree, as it is written: A tree of life is she to those who grasp her (Proverbs 3:18). Man, too, is a tree, as it is written: Like the tree of the field is a human (Deuteronomy 20:19), and the decrees of Torah are like fruits. And what is written about it? Only a tree that you know is not a tree for eating, it you may destroy and cut down (Deuteronomy 20:20), that is to say, you shall destroy it from this world and cut it down from the next world. This is why he must uproot from the place and plant elsewhere, among righteous people.

As the childless man is called עָקָר (aqar), ‘barren,’ and his wife ‘barren,’ so too Torah without decrees is barren. On this we have learned: ‘Not learning but doing is the עִקָר (iqar), main thing’ (M Avot 1:17). The Companions came and prostrated themselves in front of him and said: We have certainly learned something new here—how one רוּחַ (ruaḥ), spirit, can be incorporated in another. We are as one who perceives with his own eyes and it is revealed to him. Originally we had only a tradition but now it has been elucidated” (Zohar 3:217b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

The Great Chain of Being and the Desire to Receive

Evolution-neanderthal-manThe eyes of all look in hope to You and You give them their food in its season, פּוֹתֵחַ אֶת-יָדֶךָ וּמַשְׂבִּיעַ לְכָל חַי רָצוֹן (poteaḥ et-Yadekha u-masbiah le-khal ḥai ratson), opening Your hand and sating to their pleasure all living things (Psalms 145:15-16).

“It seems very peculiar that for man, whose worth is but a wisp compared to the reality before us in this world, much less compared to the upper, spiritual worlds, the Creator would go to all the trouble of creating all that for him. And even more peculiar is what would man need all these vast spiritual worlds for?

And you must know that any contentment of our Maker from giving abundantly to His creatures depends on the extent that the creatures feel Him—that He is the giver, and that He is the One who delights them. For then He takes great pleasure in them, as a father playing with his beloved son, to the extent that the son feels and recognizes the greatness and exaltedness of his father, and his father shows him all the treasures he had prepared for him, as it is written: ‘Is Ephraim My precious son? Is he a child of delights? For since I spoke against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore My insides yearn for him; I will surely have compassion upon him,’ says YHWH (Jeremiah 31:19).

Observe these words carefully and you may come to know the great delights of the Name, may He be blessed, with those perfect ones that have been granted feeling Him and recognizing His greatness in all those manners He has prepared for them, until they are like a father with his precious son, the delight of his parents. And we need not continue on that, for it is enough for us to know that for this contentment and delight in those perfect ones, it was worth His while to create all the worlds, high and low alike.

To prepare His creatures to attain this exalted rung, the blessed Holy One desired to act on them in a sequence of four rungs, one הַמִתְפַּתֵחַוֹת (hamitpateḥot), evolving, from the other, called דוֹמֵם צוֹמֵחַ חַי מִדָּבָר (domem, tsomeaḥ, ḥai, midavar), mineral, vegetable, animal, human [lit., dumb, growing, living, speaking]. These are, in fact, the four phases of the רָצוֹן לְקַבֵּל (ratson le-qabel), desire to receive, by which the upper worlds are divided. For although the majority of the desire is in the fourth phase of the desire to receive, it is impossible for the fourth phase to appear at once, but by its preceding three phases, in which, and through which, it gradually מִתְפַּתֵחַת (mitpateḥat), unfurls, and appears, until it is fully completed in the form of phase four [cf. Rabbi Yosef Albo, Sefer ha-Iqqarim 3:1-6].

In the first phase of the desire to receive, called דוֹמֵם (domem), mineral, the initial manifestation of the desire to receive, in this corporeal world, there is but a general capacity for movement for the whole of the mineral category. But no motion is apparent in its particular elements. This is because the desire to receive, generates needs, and the needs generate movements sufficient to satisfy the needs. And since there is but a minimal desire to receive, its effect is only apparent as causing a general movement, but its effect over the particular elements is indistinguishable.

The צוֹמֵחַ (tsomeaḥ), vegetable, is added to it, which is the second phase of the desire to receive. Its measure is greater than in the mineral, and its desire to receive, dominates each and every element, because each element has its own capacity for movement, expanding through its length and breadth, and moving towards the sun. The matter of eating, drinking, and secretion of waste is apparent in each element too. However, the sensation of freedom and individuality is still absent in them.

Atop that comes the חַי (ḥai), animal, category, which is the third phase of the desire to receive. Its measure is already completed to a great extent, for this desire to receive already generates in each element a sensation of freedom and individuality, which is the life that is unique to each particular element. Yet, they still lack the sensation of others; they have no capacity for their companion’s distress or happiness and so forth.

Above all is the אָדָם (adam), human, the fourth phase of the desire to receive. It is the complete and final measure and its desire to receive includes the sensation of others as well. And if you wish to know the precise difference between the third phase of the desire to receive, which is in the animal, and the fourth phase of the desire to receive, in the human, I shall tell you that it is like the worth of a single creature compared to the whole of reality.

This is because the desire to receive, in the animal, which lacks the sensation of others, can only generate needs and desires to the extent that they are embedded in that creature alone. But man, who can feel others, too, becomes needy of everything that others have, too, and is thus filled with jealousy to acquire everything that others have. When he has a hundred, he wants two hundred, and so his needs forever multiply until he wishes to devour the whole world.

Now we have shown that the Creator’s desired goal for all of creation is to benefit His creatures, so they know His truthfulness and greatness, and receive all the delight and pleasure He has prepared for them, in the measure described in the verse: ‘Is Ephraim My precious son? Is he a child of delights?’ (Jeremiah 31:19). Thus, you clearly find that this purpose does not apply to the mineral and the great spheres, such as the earth, the moon, or the sun, however luminous they may be, and not to the vegetable or animal, for they lack the sensation of others, even from among their own species. Therefore, how can the sensation of the Divine and His bestowal apply to them?

Humanity alone, having been prepared with the sensation of others of the same species, who are similar to them, after delving in Torah and mitsvot, when they invert their desire to receive, to a  רָצוֹן לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ (ratson le-hashpia), desire to give, and come to equivalence of form with their Maker, they receive all the rungs that have been prepared for them in the upper worlds, called nefesh, ruaḥ, neshamah, ḥaya, yeḥida (being, spirit, soul, living, unique). By that they become qualified to receive the purpose of the thought of Creation. After all, the purpose of creation of all the worlds was for humanity alone.

And I know that it is completely unaccepted in the eyes of some philosophers. They cannot agree that man, which they think of as low and worthless, is the center of the magnificent Creation. But they are like a worm that is born inside a radish. It lives there and thinks that the world of the Creator is as bitter, as dark, and small as the radish it was born in. But as soon as it breaks the skin of the radish and peeps out, it claims in bewilderment: “I thought the whole world was the size of the radish I was born in, but now I see a grand, beautiful, and wondrous world before me!”

So, too, are those who are immersed in the shell of the desire to receive, they were born with, and did not try to take the unique antidote [lit., spice], which is practical Torah and mitsvot, which can break this hard shell and turn it into a desire to give contentment to the Maker. It is certain that they must determine their worthlessness and emptiness, as they truly are, and cannot comprehend that this magnificent reality had been created only for them.

Indeed, had they delved in Torah and mitsvot to give contentment to their Maker, with all the required purity, and would try to break the shell of the desire to receive, they were born with and assume the desire to give, their eyes would immediately open to see and attain for themselves all the rungs of wisdom, intelligence and a clear mind, that have been prepared for them in the spiritual worlds. Then they would themselves say what our sages said, “What does a good guest say? ‘Everything the host has done, he has done for me alone’” (BT Berakhot 58a).

Yet there still remains to clarify why man would need all the upper worlds the Creator had created for him? What use has he of them? Bear in mind that the reality of all the worlds is generally divided into five worlds, called: Adam Qadmon (Primordial Man), Atsilut (Emanation), Beri’ah (Creation), Yetsirah (Formation), and Assiyah (Actualization). In each of them are innumerable elements, which are the five sefirot KḤBTM (Keter, Ḥokhmah, Binah, Tif’eret, and Malkhut). The world of Primordial Man is Keter; the world of Emanation is Ḥokhmah; the world of Creation is Binah; the world of Formation is Tif’eret; and the world Actualization is Malkhut.

And the lights clothed in those five worlds are called YḤNRN. The light of yeḥidah shines in the world of Primordial Man; the light of ḥaya in the world of Emanation; the light of neshamah in the world of Creation; the light of ruaḥ in the world of Formation; and the light of nefesh in the world of Actualization.

All these worlds and everything in them are included in the Holy Name, YHWH, and the apex of י (yod). We have no perception in the first world, Primordial Man. Hence, it is only implied in the apex of י (yod) of the Name. This is why we do not speak of it and always mention only the four worlds ABiYA. י (Yod)—the world of Emanation; ה (he)—the world of Creation; ו (vav)—the world of Formation; the final ה (he)—the world of Actualization.

We have now explained the five worlds that include the entire spiritual reality that extends from Infinity to this world. However, they are included in one another, and in each of the worlds there are the five worlds, the five sefirot KḤBTM, in which the five lights nefesh, ruaḥ, neshamah, ḥaya, yeḥida are enclothed, corresponding to the five worlds.

And besides the five sefirot, KḤBTM in each world, there are the four spiritual categories—mineral, vegetable, animal, and human. In it, man’s soul is regarded as the human, the animal is regarded as the angels in that world, the vegetable category is called לְבוּשׁים (levushim), garments, and the mineral category is called הֵיכָלוֹת (hekhalot), chambers. And they all enclothe one another: the human category, the souls of people, enclothes the five sefirot KḤBTM, which is the godliness in that world. The animal category, which are the angels, enclothes the souls; the vegetable, the garments, enclothe the angels; and the mineral, which are chambers, revolve around them all.

The enclothing means that they serve one another and evolve from one another, as we have clarified with the corporeal mineral, vegetable, animal, and human in this world: the three categories—mineral, vegetable, and animal—did not extend for themselves, but only so the fourth category, which is the human, might develop and rise by them. Therefore, their role is only to serve man and be useful to him.

So it is in all the spiritual worlds. The three categories—mineral, vegetable, and animal—appeared there only to serve and be useful to the human category, which is man’s soul. Therefore, it is considered that they all enclothe man’s soul, meaning serve him (Ba’al ha-Sullam, Rav Yehudah Ashlag, Introduction to the Book of Zohar, 33-42).

He shall Shoot Up in His Place

043-plantingBehold the man whose name is צֶמַח (Tsemaḥ), Shoot; and he shall shoot up in his place, and he shall build the temple of YHWH (Zechariah 6:12).

“The sages said, ‘If the King Messiah comes from among the living, David will be his name; if he comes from among the dead, it will be David himself.’ Said Rabbi Tanḥuma, ‘I say that the scriptural basis for this teaching is, And keeping faith, with His anointed, to David (Psalms 18:51).’

Rabbi Yehoshua said son of Levi said, ‘צֶמַח (Tsemaḥ), Shoot, is his name.’ Rabbi Yudan son of Rabbi Ayybo said, ‘מְנַחֵם (Menaḥem), Comforter, is his name.’ Said Hananiah son of Rabbi Abahu, ‘They do not disagree. The numerical value of the letters of one name equals the numerical value of the other. צֶמַח (Tsemaḥ) is equal to מְנַחֵם (Menaḥem)’ [cf. Zohar 3:16a].

And this supports the view of Rabbi Yudan son of Rabbi Ayybo. Once a Jew was plowing and his ox snorted once before him. An Arab who was passing and heard the sound said to him, ‘O son of Judah, O son of Judah. Loosen your ox, and loosen your plow. For today your Temple was destroyed.’ The ox snorted again. He said to him, ‘O son of Judah, O son of Judah. Bind your ox, and bind your plow. For today the King Messiah was born.’ He said to him, ‘What is his name?’ [The Arab replied,] ‘Menaḥem.’ He said to him, ‘And what is his father’s name?’ He said to him, ‘Hezekiah.’ He said to him, ‘Where is he from?’ He said to him, ‘From the royal capital of Bethlehem in Judea.’ He went and sold his ox and sold his plow. And he became a peddler of infants’ clothes. And he went from place to place until he came to that very city. All of the women bought from him. But Menaḥem’s mother did not buy from him. He heard the women saying, ‘O Mother of Menaḥem, O Mother of Menaḥem, come buy for your child.’ She said, ‘I want to choke this enemy of Israel. For on the day he was born the Temple was destroyed.’ He said to her, ‘We are sure that on this day it was destroyed, and on this day it will be rebuilt.’ She said to him, ‘I have no money.’ He said to her, ‘It is of no matter to me. Come and buy for him and if you have no money, pay me when I return.’ After a while he returned. He went up to that place. He said to her, ‘What happened to the infant?’ She said to him, ‘Since the time you saw him a wind came and whisked him away from me.’

Said Rabbi Bun, ‘Why must we learn this from an Arab? Do we not have explicit scriptural evidence for it? And Lebanon with its mighty shall fall (Isaiah 10:34). And what follows this? And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1)’” (JT Berakhot 2:3, 5a cf. Eikhah Rabbah 1:51; Zohar 1:82b).

“שִׂיחַ (Shiaḥ), plant, of the field (Genesis 2:5)—the first מָשִׁיחַ (Mashiaḥ), Messiah, who was not yet on earth. עֵשֶׂב (Esev), shrub, of the field (ibid.)—the second Messiah. Why were they not on the earth? Because Moses was not there with them to serve the Shekhinah [called Earth]. Of him, it is written: and there was no human to till the soil (ibid.). The secret is given in: The scepter shall not pass from Judah (Genesis 49:10)—Messiah son of David. Nor the mace from between his legs (ibid)—Messiah son of Joseph. Until Shiloh comes (ibid.)—Moses, since מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses, is numerically equivalent to שִׁילֹה (Shiloh), Shiloh. וְלוֹ יִקְהַת (Ve-lo yiqehat), and to him the submission, of peoples (ibid.)—the letters [of]: וְלֵוִי קְהָת (ve-Levi qehat), and Levi Kohath [i.e., reaching from Moses, to Kohath and Levi, his ancestors]” (Zohar 1:25b, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai: If Israel kept two Sabbaths according to the halakhah, they would be redeemed immediately” (BT Shabbat 118b, cf. JT Ta’anit 1:1)—מִיָד (miyad), immediately, an acrostic: מָשִׁיחַ (mashiaḥ), messiah (alt., מֹשֶׁה [Moshe], Moses), יוֹסֵף (Yosef), Joseph, דָוִד (David), David.

A Sojourner have I been in a Foreign Land: A Prisoner cannot Free Himself from Jail

20150502-crime-compensaIn his day you shall give his wages (Deuteronomy 24:15). The Faithful Shepherd opened ‘The following decree is to give a hired slave his hire in time. This is the meaning of, In his day you shall give his wages, and the sun shall not set on him (ibid.). Listen, heads of the Academy high and low. Metatron is the hire of the hired slave, a messenger from the eighteen worlds [Yesodto receive the eighteen blessings of the Amidah prayer [for Malkhut] every day, three times a day. For that reason, In his day you shall give his wages—the Shaḥarit service; and the sun shall not set on himMinḥa service, for if the day is past, the offering is no longer valid. For he is poor (ibid.)—surely he is poor in exile and has nothing but what he is given in prayer [see Zohar 1:179b: (Metatron) the youth who is a poor child, possessing nothing at all of his own]. For that reason his prayer is, A תְּפִלָּה (tefillah), prayer, for the lowly when יַעֲטֹף (ya’atof), he is faint (Psalms 102:1), namely the יַעֲטֹף (ya’atof), wrap, of the tsitsit and the hand תְפִלִין (tefillin) [playing with two senses of the root עטף (‘tf), which can mean both ‘to be faint’ and ‘to cover oneself, wrap,’ as in ‘wrapping oneself in a tallit’ before donning tefillincf. Zohar 3:113b, TZ 6, 22a-b, 11, 26b; 21, 55b].

And his heart counts on it (Deuteronomy 24:15)—the Arvit (evening) service, which [corresponds to] the parts of the sacrifice and the fatty parts that are left from the offerings of the day [prayer replaces sacrifice, see BT Berakhot 6b on Psalms 141:2, cf. Psalms 69:31-32; Hosea 14:3]. They are like single grapes of the vineyard and the edge of your field (Leviticus 19:9) of which we learned leaving things [over for the poor] is a mitsvah and hinders [divine] punishment. For the poor [Shekhinah and Metatron] and for the sojourner [Tif’eretyou shall leave them (ibid. 10). For the middle pillar, when he is outside his place is called a sojourner. For that reason, I [Moses the Faithful Shepherd, my rung being of the middle pillar], called myself a sojourner in the first exile. This is the meaning of, A sojourner have I been in a foreign land (Exodus 2:22), for He [Ze’eir Anpin] lies in exile for Her sake.’

The Masters of Mishnah asked him, ‘Faithful Shepherd, yet Israel performed this decree in the land of Israel? He said to them, this is in order to invoke compassion on those driven away from their place. For a man outside his place is called a sojourner, and all the more so the נִשְׁמָתִין (nishmatin), souls, that walk naked from that world and come into this world. Of them the verse says, Like a bird wandering from its nest is a man wandering from his place (Proverbs 27:8). The soul from, which the Shekhinah does not move, is a man (ibid.), of whom it says, YHWH is a man of war (Exodus 15:3), wandering from his place (Proverbs 27:8), roaming and roving from His place, which is the World that is Coming, Binah. And He wanders after her in this world, until the days that the soul needs to go outside her place are completed. He guards her until He returns her to her place and swears He shall not return to His place before He returns her to her own. [Therefore] whoever repents is as if he returned the blessed Holy One, and His Shekhinah to His place. This is the mystery of redemption as it said, If you would only heed His voice! (Psalms 95:7)” (Zohar 3:278a-b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetze).

If you should lend money to My people, to the pauper among you, you shall not be to him like a creditor, you shall not impose interest on him. If you should indeed take in pledge your fellow man’s cloak, before the sun comes down you shall return it to him. For it is his sole covering, it is his cloak for his skin—in what can he lie? (Exodus 22:24-26).

“Woe to the sons of man who imprison the blessed Holy One with them in exile. The Shekhinah is imprisoned with them too, as it says, ‘A prisoner cannot free himself from jail’ (BT Berakhot 5b). Release is תְּשׁוּבָה (Teshuvah), Repentance [lit., Returning], supernal Mother [Binah], which does depend on them. The fifty gates of freedom are with Her [cf. Leviticus 25:54], for the fifty times going out of Egypt is mentioned in the Torah [see Zohar 3:262a]. This is: and he turned כֹּה וָכֹה (koh va-khoh), this way and that way (Exodus 2:12). Through these fifty letters one unifies twice every day in the recital of Shema which has כ”ה וכ”ה (twenty-five and twenty-five) letters. And saw that no man was about (ibid.)—to awaken Her inside of them.

She watches from the windows, it says about them And now, I pray you, beseech אֵל (El), God, that He will be gracious to us (Malachi 1:9)—to Her. About Her it is said, אֵל (El), God, pray, heal her, pray (Numbers 12:13), and the healing is through His hands, which is the spread hand to receive the penitents. And saw that no man was about—this is: through the window she looked out, and moaned (Judges 5:28), like teru’ah [of the ram’s horn], which is moaning. As it says, Noah opened the window of the ark he had made (Genesis 8:6)—on the day of Atonement, because the ark of Noah is supernal Mother, its window was the middle pillar, through it came the light, and Torah is light, and it is אוֹר הַגָּנוּז (or ha-ganuz), the hidden light.

And he turned this way and that way (Exodus 2:12). Peeping through the crannies (Song of Songs 2:9)—the ten days of repentance. And saw that no man was about (Exodus ibid.). Furthermore: Peering through the windows (Song of Songs ibid.)—the windows of the house of assembly. Father [Abba] and son [Ze’eir Anpin] are in the house of prisoners, and every day He [Arikh Anpin] watches over them and gives them sustenance.

And he turned this way and that way—if there might be someone who stirred to return and break his prison. As it is written, That You may say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves (Isaiah 49:9). And he turned this way and that way and saw that no man was about (Exodus 2:12). We have turned everyone to his own way (Isaiah 53:6); they all look to their own way, everyone for his gain, from his own quarter (ibid. 56:11). To gain more in this world, to inherit this world, and they are not from that place of which it says, God-fearing men, truthful men, haters of bribes (Exodus 18:21). Rather all were howling in prayers on the day of Atonement like dogs. ‘Give! Give! Money, forgiveness, atonement, and life. Seal us for life!’ And these are the greedy, like dogs [cf. Isaiah 56:1; Proverbs 30:15]. They are the nations of the world, that moan for themselves, and they are not shamefaced [see BT Sotah 49b: ‘In the heels of Messiah, חוּצפָּה (ḥutspah), impudence, will increase… The face of the generation is like the face of a dog]. There are none who call to Him in repentance, to return the Shekhinah to the blessed Holy One, who is far from Him, to return Her to Him. They resemble dogs, as it says, And they mingled with the nations and learned their deeds (Psalms 106:35). These are the motley throng. Every good deed they do is only to benefit themselves [cf. BT Shabbat 33b; BT Bava Batra 10b].

Furthermore, they [only] ask for food, clothing, and time, which is time for coupling, as it says, he should not stint for this one her flesh, כְּסוּתָהּ (kesutah), her wardrobe, and her conjugal rights (Exodus 21:10, cf. BT Qetubbot 48a). There is nobody who asks for food of Torah, clothing of the Shekhinah, upper Mother [Binah], as it says, And do not forsake your mother’s teaching (Proverbs 1:8). ‘Clothing’ is the covering of tsitsit, and its cloak, and the tefillin of the hand as it says, A prayer for the lowly when he covers (Psalms 102:1). ‘And time’ is recital of Shema in its proper time. With these three they did not act for the Shekhinah, [And if he does not do these three for her,] she shall go free without payment, with no כֶּסֶף (kasef), money (Exodus 21:11)—they have no כִּסּוּפָא (kissufa), shame, for the Shekhinah [who is like a pauper], they are brazen. Furthermore: with no כָּסֶף (kasef), money—they will not have any portion in the כִּסּוּפָא (kissufa), hidden, world that is coming [cf. Zohar 2:97a (SdM)].

Look, all this God performs twice or thrice with a גָּבֶר (gever), man [to bring back his being from the Pit, to glow in the light of life] (Job 33:29). Because of this: for it is his sole כְסוּתֹה (khesutoh), covering (Exodus 22:26)—the first גִלְגּוּלָא (gilgula), [life] cycle. It is his cloak for his skin (ibid.)—his second cycle. In what can he lie? (ibid.)—his third cycle. These are the three garments, the three coverings of the three colors of the eye, which are garments for the pupil of the eye which is the נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 22a-b).

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