The Nut Garden

Gleanings of Zohar

Who Hardens his Heart will Fall into Harm

image“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: What is, Happy the man who fears at all times, but who hardens his heart will fall into harm? (Proverbs 28:14). The destruction of Jerusalem came through קַמְצָא וּבָּר קַמְצָא (Qamtsa u-bar Qamtsa), Locust and Son of Locust; the destruction of Tur Malka came through a cock and a hen [cf. Judges 4:6]; the destruction of Bethar came through the shaft of a leather.

The destruction of Jerusalem came through a Qamtsa and a Son of Qamtsa in this way. A certain man had a friend Qamtsa and an enemy, Son of Qamtsa. He once made a party and said to his servant, Go and bring Qamtsa. The man went and brought Son of Qamtsa. He [the host] found him sitting [at the banquet]. He said, ‘Since that one [you] are the enemy of that man [me], what are you doing here? Get up and leave.’ He said to him, ‘Since I am here, let me be, and I will pay you for what I eat and drink.’

He said to him, ‘No.’ He said to him, ‘I will pay for half the banquet.’ He said to him, ‘No.’ He said to him, ‘I will pay for the whole banquet.’ He said to him, ‘No.’ He grabbed him by the hand and put him out. He [Son of Qamtsa] said, ‘Since the rabbis were sitting and did not intervene, I will go and inform against them, at the king’s palace.’ He went and said to the emperor, ‘The Jews are rebelling against you.’ He said, ‘How can I tell?’ He said to him, ‘Send them a sacrifice and see if they offer it [on the altar].’ He sent with him a fine calf. While on the way he made a blemish on its upper lip, or as some say on the white of its eye, in a place where we [Jews] count it a blemish but they do not. The rabbis were inclined to offer it for the sake of peace with the kingdom. Said Rabbi Zekhariyah son of Avqulos to them, ‘Should they say that blemished animals are offered on the altar.’ They then proposed to kill [Son of Qamtsa] so that he should not go and tell him [the emperor]. Rabbi Zekhariyah son of Avqulos said to them, ‘Should they say that one who causes a blemish [on consecrated animals] be put to death?’ Rabbi Yoḥanan said, ‘The scrupulousness [or: meekness (Rashi)] of Rabbi Zekhariyah son of Avqulos destroyed our Temple and burnt our Sanctuary and exiled us from our Land” (BT Gittin 55b-56a, cf. Josephus, Wars II:17:2).

“Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because of three things which prevailed there: idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed… But why was the Second Temple destroyed, seeing that in its time they were occupying themselves with Torah, decrees, and the practice of tsedaqah? Because therein prevailed hatred without cause. That teaches you that שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם (sinat ḥinam), groundless hatred, is considered as of equal weight with the three sins of idolatry, immorality, and bloodshed together. And [during the time of] the First Temple did no groundless hatred prevail? Surely it is written: Cry and wail, son of man: for it shall be upon my people, [it shall be upon all the princes of Israel: terrors by reason of the sword shall be upon my people: strike therefore upon your thigh] (Ezekiel 21:17). El’azar said: This refers to people who eat and drink together and then thrust each other through with the daggers of their tongue!—that [passage] speaks of the princes in Israel, for it is written, Cry and wail, son of man: for it is upon my people. One might have assumed [it is upon] all [Israel], therefore it goes on, Upon all the princes of Israel” (BT Yoma 9b).

“Long ago, as Rabban Gamaliel, Rabbi El’azar son of Azariyah, Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva were walking on the road, they heard the noise of the crowds at Rome [on travelling] from Puteoli, twenty miles away. They all fell weeping, but Rabbi Akiva seemed merry. They said to him: Why are you merry? He said to them: Why are you weeping? They said: These heathens who bow down to images and burn incense to idols live in safety and ease, whereas our Temple, the ‘Footstool’ of our God is burnt down by fire, and should we then not weep? He replied: Therefore, I am merry. If they that offend Him fare thus, how much better shall they fare that do obey Him! Once again they were coming up to Jerusalem together, and just as they came to Mount Scopus they saw a fox emerging from the Holy of Holies. They fell weeping and Rabbi Akiva seemed merry. They said to him, why are you merry? He said: Why are you weeping? They said to him: A place of which it was once said, but the stranger that comes near shall be put to death (Numbers 1:51), has now become the haunt of foxes, and should we not weep? He said to them: Therefore I am merry; for it is written, And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah (Isaiah 8:3).

Now what connection has this Uriah the priest with Zechariah? Uriah lived during the times of the First Temple, while [the other,] Zechariah lived [and prophesied] during the Second Temple; but the holy-writ linked the [later] prophecy of Zechariah with the [earlier] prophecy of Uriah, In the [earlier] prophecy [in the days] of Uriah it is written, Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed like a field, [and Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the house like the high places of the forest] (Micah 3:12; Jeremiah 26:18-20). In Zechariah it is written, Thus says YHWH of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the broad places of Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:4), so long as Uriah’s [threatening] prophecy had not had its fulfilment, I had misgivings lest Zechariah’s prophecy might not be fulfilled; now that Uriah’s prophecy has been [literally] fulfilled, it is quite certain that Zechariah’s prophecy also is to find its literal fulfilment. They said to him: Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva, you have comforted us!” (BT Maqqot 24b, cf. JT Berakhot 2:4, 5a).

The Graves of Lust

phourni003b.jpgWhy is this place called תַּבְעֵרָה (Taverah), Taberah [lit., Burning] (Numbers 11:3)? Because each and every light that reaches there is burned immediately on account of its great זַכּוּת (zakut), purity [alt., זְכוּת (zekhut), merit]. They said in The Mystery of Souls that one light is drawn out from the blessed Holy One, coupling is performed, and the נְשָׁמוֹת (neshamot), souls, sparkle and mate with this light. This light extends to Taberah, called צְבָאוֹת (Tseva’ot), Hosts, and there the souls remain. As long as we have this wondrous wisdom we can understand what is written: And at Taberah and at Massah and at Kibroth-Hatta’avah [you infuriated YHWH] (Deuteronomy 9:22)—Ḥokhmah is found there along the entire way. The blessed Holy One said in His Torah, and at Taberah and at Massah and at Kibroth-Hatta’avahthe place from which human beings desire and תַאֲוָה (ta’avah), crave, to attain good and to attain evil. Israel, seeing the greatness of these three places were intent to know who their leader was, who it is that bestows upon them. They began to say ‘From the מָקוֹם (Maqom), Omnipresent [lit., Place], descends the good and the evil.’ For this is the site of a great degree, yet without a ruler in it, since the גֵּאוּת (ge’ut), majesty [lit., flux], of the blessed Holy One does not oversee all His creatures. Rather He left three to act in His place as they please. Hence, [Israel] tried the blessed Holy One in all matters.

The sages say three seraphs [alt., princes] whose degrees are אֵין סוֹף (ein sof), without end, receive from those three places. From Taberah descends the brilliance of Ḥokhmah to the place, נַחַל אַרְנוֹן (Naḥal Arnon), River Arnon [lit., Ringing River, see, Numbers 21:28. Cf. BT Berakhot 54a]. Its name is deep: אַדִירִירוֹן (Adiriron) [from a root meaning, “mighty,” see, Margaliot, Mal’akhe Elyon (Jerusalem, 1964), p. 2; Sefer Temunah 17b-18a] the place of רִנָּה (rinnah), glad song, מוֹפֵת (mofet), portent, and wisdom. It is the organ which sustains the entire body.

When the host on high see Ḥokhmah shining they begin to sing, as it says, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7) [cf. ZḤ 5b-6a (MhN)]. Ḥokhmah reaches them and they rise, certainly receiving from there Ḥokhmah and Gevurah and Gedullah. Ḥokhmah reaches from the River Arnon to נַחַל הָעֲבָרִים (Naḥal ha-Avarim), the River Abarim [alt., נַחַל הָעָבְרִים (Naḥal ha-Averim), the River of Crossings], and from there returns to its place again [cf. Numbers 33:47-48].

The thirty-two paths grow stronger, rising and covering all the spheres and all the degrees and the worlds and all the abysses but next to the brilliance of Ḥokhmah appear as if they were non-existent. Visible to those who are the distance of a bowshot of 600,000 [measures] away they appear like the shadow of a single hollow [or: bowl, dish]. The thirty-two paths grow stronger rising and covering all the spheres and all their places. They say Ḥokhmah is supernal man, known as עֶצְיֹן גָּבֶר (Etsyon Gaver), Ezion Geber, as I said before [see, Numbers 33:35-36; Deuteronomy 2:8; 1 Kings 9:26; Targum Yonatan: כְּרַך תַּרְנְגוֹלָא (Kerakh Tarnegola), City of the Rooster, i.e., rooster-shaped city)].

The River Abarim, which we already mentioned, is מִשַׁבֵּצוֹת (mishbetsot), slots (known in combination with the four letter Name as I will interpret in the vocalization of this matter). We said of this expansive matter—the River Abarim—that in it certain sages erred tremendously, such as Elisha the Other [see BT Ḥagigah 14b; Zohar 3:222b (RM); עֲבָרִים (Avarim), or: עָבְרִים (Averim), Crossings, alludes to עֲבֵרָה (averah), offence]. However, the relic of the great and mighty sages of Israel, heads of the generations, standing in venerable places, took to restore what was lost and to save the sons of man.

Behold the chapter headings of this wondrous wisdom: Three times a day the wisdom increases higher and higher: at the first hour, at the sixth hour, and at the last hour [cf. ZḤ 5b-6a (MhN); Zohar 2:21b]. In these hours everyone of the thirty-two paths is rooted in the first letter of יהוה (YHWH)—in the lower tip [of י (yod)] looking downwards. Since it looks down so too does Ḥokhmah, great in strength and compassion. But if She looks upwards even the angels and sons of man cannot attain Ḥokhmah and are as beasts of the field. Therefore She looks downwards and Ḥokhmah is received by creatures and as She saw, for She is vastly higher above all the degrees and none are higher than Her, She directs Her face to three places. First towards the north, the place of Gevurah, lowering Her pride She remains bowed down in great trembling. This place is a place of יִראָה (yirah), awe, it is Taberah, [the angel] אגלא (AGLA) [i.e., אַתָה גִבּוֹר לְעוֹלָם אֲדֹנָי (Atah Gibor le-olam Adonai), You are eternally mighty Lord], included in Torah. It performs actions for the enlightened without purification with the lins of יִראָה (yirah), awe. The second place is a place of עֲנָוָה (anavah), humility, and its name is called מְנוּחָה (Menuḥa), Rest, it is יְחִדרִיאֵל (Yeḥidriel), אֱלֹהִי יִשְׂרָאֵל (Elohi Yisra’el), God of Israel. The third place is a place of שִׂמְחָה (simḥa), joy, and its name is called מפרישמיה (MPRISMYH) [cf. Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital, Sha’arei Qedushah, 4:1].

Whoever desires to learn wisdom should cleave to these three degrees: יִראָה (yirah), awe, עֲנָוָה (anavah), humility, and שִׂמְחָה (simḥa), joy [cf. Deuteronomy 28:47]—he יִראָה (yirah), fears, sin is עָנָו (anav), humble, and שַׂמֵחַ (sameaḥ), happy, with his lot. When he attains the discernment of these three degrees he attains Ḥokhmah (Wisdom) [cf. M Avot 3:11; 4:1; 5:19]. These three places are bound to each other, and one is no different than the other; they are all one [cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 5b]. And the angels who receive from these three places are הוֹרִיאֵל (Horiel) [alt., יהויאל (YHWYAL)], גַּבִּיאֵל (Gabiel), and גַּבְרִיאֵל (Gavriel), Gabriel [cf. Margaliot, Mal’akhe Elyon (Jerusalem, 1964), p. 42]. Names which bless and curse without need of purification and without need of permission from הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim), God, but act however they please. Yet they are names of goodness, for they are without inquiry and without limit. The first of these three places is called יכאה (YKAH), it is תַּבְעֵרָה שֶׂכֶל (Taverah Sekhel), Burning Intellect [cf. Numbers 11:3: And (Moses) he called the name of that place Taberah, for YHWH’s fire had burned against them]. The lights are fearful when they ascend lest it burn them with its great holiness. However, he who cleaves to the degree of awe escapes burning.

The second [degree] is humility [called:] מַסָּה (Massah), Trial (Deuteronomy 9:22). Without limit to its holiness and strength this place is very great. For when all the lights and all the lofty host pass through this place it is known who conducts himself faithfully or not, thus it is called מַסָּה (Massah), Trial. The third [degree] is joy, the site of קִבְרוֹת הַתַּאֲוָה (Kivrot Hatta’avah), the Graves of Lust (Numbers 11:34). Whoever does not reach the place of rest, [called] the Graves of Lust, does not see light and does not attain Ḥokhmah.

There is one place, מָעוֹן (Ma’on), Dwelling [see, BT Ḥagigah 12b], in the heavens and there is אֵין סוֹף (ein sof), no end, to its discernment and its place is hidden because of the puniness of [our] intellect as was said before. And when the great luminaries grow, ascending, and see the banner standing in the middle of the chamber they say this is the place מְנוּחָה (Menuḥah), Rest. They stand hoping to glimpse its glorious brilliance. When this hidden light increases abundantly, expanding, and emanates its brilliance outside the chamber then they incline to see more and they ascend and reach the place of חֶשְׁבּוֹן (Ḥeshbon), Reckoning [see, Numbers 21:27; Ecclesiastes 7:27; Song of Songs 7:5]. But when they reach its border they are burned immediately by the purity [or: merit] of this great light—they are all burned standing in it and none of them ever emerge, for this place is called, in the language of parable, the Graves of Lust. Most of them that desired to know the essence were consumed in holiness and were not seen again.

Numerous lights and princes, brave and powerful, were consumed in this place called the Graves of Lust, an expression of the essence of יהוה (YHWH) [alt., יהו (YHW)]. But let me tell you the angels and the lights which were consumed in this place since the time of the Formation [of the world] were numerous great, strong, and perfect in their degrees. Big and mighty angels were consumed by this great luminary, those from the camp of שָׂרָפִים (serafim), seraphs, and from the camp of תַּרְשִׁישִׁים‎‎ (tarshishim) [two classes of angels] since it arose in their minds to strenghten themselves and ascend until this place but there they were consumed, as is written of them, For there the people buried the ones who had been craving (Numbers 11:34). But do not let evil arise in your mind and think that words of Torah only accord with their plain meaning, you are forbidden from believing this. Happy is the man who delves to know, to attain Ḥokhmah in this place called the Graves of Lust” (Berit MenuḥaFirst Way: the Way of Wisdom).

My Fathers Pray on My Behalf: Were it not for our Supplications on Behalf of the Living they would not Survive for even Half a Day!

76157_129532000435332_100001355978667_158503_2959196_nAnd they went up through the Negeb and he came to Hebron (Number 13:22)—it should read and they came!—Rabba said: It teaches that Caleb held aloof from the plan of the spies and went and prostrated himself upon the graves of the patriarchs, saying to them, ‘My fathers, pray on my behalf that I may be delivered from the plan of the spies.’ As for Joshua, Moses had already prayed on his behalf; as it is said: And Moses called Hosea the son of Nun יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshu’a), Joshua (ibid. 16), [meaning], יָהּ יוֹשִׁיעַךָ (Yah yoshi’akha), May Yah save you, from the spies’ plan. That is the intention of what is written: But My servant Caleb, inasmuch as there was another spirit with him (ibid. 14:24)” (BT Sotah 34b).

“Why do they go to the cemetery?—with regard to this there is a difference of opinion between Rabbi Levi son of Ḥama [alt., Rabbi Levi son of Laḥma] and Rabbi Ḥanina. One says: [To signify thereby], We are as the dead before You; and the other says: In order that the dead should intercede for mercy on our behalf. What is the difference between them?—the difference is with regard to going to the cemetery of star worshipers” (BT Ta’anit 16a).

“The sons of Rabbi Ḥiyya went to the villages to cultivate their property, and they began to forget their learning. They tried very hard to recall it. One said to the other: Does our father know of our trouble? How should he know, replied the other, seeing that it is written, If sons grow great, he will not notice them (Job 14:21). The other said to him: But does he not know? Is it not written: But the flesh upon him will ache, נַפְשׁוֹ (nafsho), his own being, will mourn for him (Job 14:22). And Rabbi Yitsḥaq said [commenting on this]: The worm is as painful to the dead as a needle in the flesh of the living? [He replied]: It is explained that they know their own pain, they do not know the pain of others.

Is that so? Has it not been taught: It is related that a certain devout man gave a denar to a poor man on the eve of Rosh HaShanah in a year of drought, and his wife scolded him, and he went and passed the night in the cemetery, and he heard two רוּחוֹת (ruḥot), spirits, conversing with one another. One said to her companion: My dear, come and let us wander about the world and let us hear from behind the curtain what suffering is coming on the world [in the divine judgment pronounced on Rosh Hashanah]. Her companion said to her: I am not able, because I am buried in a matting of reeds [and not in a linen shroud]. But do go, and whatever you hear tell me.

So the other went and wandered about and returned. Her companion said to her: My dear, what have you heard from behind the curtain? She replied: I heard that whoever sows after the first rainfall [about the seventeenth of Heshvan (Rashi)] will have his crop destroyed by hail. So the man went and did not sow till after the second rainfall [which would be about six days after the first], with the result that everyone else’s crop was destroyed but his was not destroyed [not being sufficiently grown yet].

The next year he again went and passed the night in the cemetery, and heard the two spirits conversing with one another. One said to her companion: Come and let us wander about the world and hear from behind the curtain what punishment is coming upon the world. The other said to her: My dear, did I not tell you that I am not able because I am buried in a matting of reeds? But you go, and whatever you hear, come and tell me. So the other one went and wandered about the world and returned. She said to her: My dear, what have you heard from behind the curtain? She replied: I heard that whoever sows after the later rain will have his crop struck with blight. So the man went and sowed after the first rain with the result that everyone else’s crop was blighted but his was not blighted [being by now strong enough to resist]. His wife said to him: How is it that last year everyone else’s crop was destroyed but yours was not destroyed, and this year everyone else’s crop is blighted and yours is not blighted? So he related to her all his experiences.

The story goes that shortly afterwards a quarrel broke out between the wife of that devout man and the mother of the child [whose ruaḥ, spirit, the devout man had heard conversing], and the former said to the latter, Come and I will show you your daughter buried in a matting of reeds. The next year the man again went and spent the night in the cemetery and heard those conversing together. One said: My dear, come and let us wander about the world and hear from behind the curtain what suffering is coming upon the world. Said the other: My dear, leave me alone; our conversation has already been heard among the living. This would prove that they know?—perhaps some other man after his death went and told them.

Come and hear: for Ze’iri deposited some money with his landlady, and while he was away visiting Rav she died. So he went after her to the court of death and said to her, Where is my money? She replied to him: Go and take it from under the ground, in the hole of the doorpost, in such and such a place, and tell my mother to send me my comb and my tube of eye-paint by the hand of so-and-so who is coming here tomorrow. Does not this show that they know?—perhaps דוּמָה (Dumah) [lit., Silence, the angel presiding over the dead] announces to them beforehand [that so-and-so will die, but they know nothing else].

Come and hear: The father of Shemu’el had some money belonging to orphans deposited with him. When he died, Shemu’el was not with him, and they called him, ‘The son who consumes the money of orphans.’ So he went after his father to the cemetery, and said to them [the dead]. I am looking for Abba. They said to him: There are many of that name here. I want Abba son of Abba, he said. They replied: There are also several Abbas son of Abba here. He then said to them: I want Abba son of Abba the father of Shemu’el; where is he? They replied: He has gone up to the מְתִיבְתָּא רָקִיעַא (metivta raqia), celestial academy.

Meanwhile he saw Levi sitting outside. He said to him: Why are you sitting outside? Why have you not gone up? He replied: Because they said to me: For as many years as you did not go up to the academy of Rav Efes and hurt his feelings [see BT Qetubot 13b], we will not let you go up to the celestial academy. Meanwhile his father came. Shemu’el observed that he was both weeping and laughing. He said to him: Why are you weeping? He replied: Because you are coming here soon. And why are you laughing? Because you are highly esteemed in this world. He thereupon said to him: If I am esteemed, let them take up Levi; and they did take up Levi. He then said to him: Where is the money of the orphans? He replied: Go and you will find it in the case of the millstones. The money at the top and the bottom is mine, that in the middle is the orphans’ He said to him: Why did you do like that? He replied: So that if thieves came, they should take mine, and if the earth destroyed any, it should destroy mine. Does not this show that they know?—perhaps Shemu’el was exceptional: as he was esteemed, they proclaimed beforehand, Make way [for him]!

Rabbi Yonatan also retracted his opinion. For Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan: Whence do we know that the dead converse with one another? Because it says: And YHWH said to him, ‘This is the land that I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, [To your seed I will give it’] (Deuteronomy 34:4). What is the meaning of לֵאמֹר (lemor), saying? The blessed Holy One said to Moses: Say to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: The oath which I swore to you I have already carried out for your descendants.

Now if you maintain that the dead do not know, what would be the use of his telling them?—you infer then that they do know. In that case, why should he need to tell them?—so that they might be grateful to Moses. Rabbi Yitsḥaq said: If one makes remarks about the dead, it is like making remarks about a stone. Some say [the reason is that] they do not know, others that they know but do not care. Can that be so? Has not Rav Papa said: A certain man made derogatory remarks about Mar Shemu’el and a log fell from the roof and broke his skull?—a disciple of wisdom is different, because the blessed Holy One avenges his honor” (BT Sanhedrin 18b-19a).

“Rabbi Yehudah son of Shalom was walking on the way, and Rabbi Abba was with him. They entered a certain אַתְרָא (atra), place and lodged there [alt., אִדְרָא (iddera), threshing floor, from the Greek ἕδρᾱ (hedra), seat, implying a sacred site (see Meroz, ‘The Story in the Zohar about the Grieving Dead’)]. They ate. When they wished to lie down, they lay their heads on a mound of earth—where there was a grave. Before they fell asleep, a voice called out from the grave, saying, ‘A seed is earthbound. For twelve years I have not awakened, except now; I have just seen the countenance of my son!’

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Who are you?’ He replied, ‘I am a Jew and I sit reproached; I do not want to enter on account of my son’s sorrow, for a gentile kidnapped him when he was young, and he beats him every day. His sorrow prevents me from entering my site, and I have not awakened in this place until now.’ He said to him, ‘Are you aware of the sorrows of the living? He replied, ‘[By the life of] the denizens of the graves! Were it not for our supplications on behalf of the living, they would not survive for even half a day! Now I have awakened here, for today I was told that presently my son would be coming here, though I know not whether dead or alive [cf. BT Sanhedrin 104a].’

Rabbi Yehudah said to him, ‘What is your business in that world?’ The grave rumbled and said, ‘Arise, be gone! For now they are beating my son.’ They were stunned and fled from there about half a mile. They sat until the morning shone. They rose to walk on. They saw a person running and fleeing, his shoulders dripping blood. They grabbed him and he told them what had happened. They said to him, ‘What is your name?’

He replied, ‘Laḥma son of Levai.’ They said, ‘Was not that dead man Levai son of Laḥma?! We are afraid to speak with him anymore [cf. BT Ta’anit 16a]! They did not return. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Concerning what they said: that the prayers of the dead protect the living—how do we know? As is written: They went up through the Negeb, and he came as far as Hebron (Numbers 13:22) [cf. BT Sotah 34b]'” (Zohar 2:16a-b, Midrash ha-Ne’lam).

“Inhabitants of the world will one day cry out, and no one will care about them. They will turn their heads in every direction and turn back without a remedy. But one remedy I have found in the world and no more. In a place where there exist those who toil in Torah, if there exists among them a Torah scroll free of falsification—when they take this out, for its sake upper and lower beings arouse, especially if the Holy Name is written therein properly. We have already learned this matter.

Woe to the generation among whom the Torah scroll is exiled, yet beings above and below fail to arouse! Who will arouse for it when the world is in greater trouble and the Torah scroll must be exiled further because of the world’s distress? For when the world suffers and people pray for mercy at the graves, all the dead arouse for them. נֶפֶשׁ (Nefesh) hastens to inform רוּחַ (ruaḥ) that the Torah scroll is in exile—exiled because of the world’s distress—and the living are coming and pleading for mercy. Then ruaḥ informs נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), and neshamah informs the blessed Holy One. Then the blessed Holy One arouses and has compassion upon the upper world—all because the Torah scroll was exiled from its place and the living come to pray for mercy at the graves of the dead. Woe to the generation if the Torah scroll must be exiled from place to place—even from synagogue to synagogue—for they lack anything to stimulate caring for them!

… We have learned: For twelve months nefesh is bound to the body in the grave and they are judged as one, except for nefesh of the righteous, as we have established. She is present in the grave, aware of its suffering and of the suffering of the living, but she does not exert herself for them. After twelve months, she clothes herself in a certain garment and goes roaming through the world. She discovers from ruaḥ what she discovers and exerts herself for the suffering of the living.

Who arouses all this? A virtuous person—when there is one—who informs them fittingly; that virtuous one is recognized by them. Come and see: When a virtuous person endures, he is known among the living and among the dead, for every day he is proclaimed among them. When suffering intensifies in the world and he cannot protect the generation, he informs them of the world’s suffering. When there is no virtuous person to be proclaimed among them, when no one can be found to arouse them for the suffering of the world except for the Torah scroll, then upper and lower beings arouse over it. At that time, all must engage in teshuvah; if they do not, masters of judgment arouse against them—even ruḥot, spirits, in the Garden of Eden arouse against them.

I will lie down with my fathers (Genesis 47:30)—in body, nefeshruaḥneshamah, in a single chariot, on a supernal rung.

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘How utterly stopped up are inhabitants of the world, neither knowing nor hearing nor contemplating matters of the world, and how the blessed Holy One hovers over them compassionately, constantly. No one is aware!

Three times a day, one spirit enters the cave of Machpelah and wafts upon the graves of the patriarchs; bones heal and stand vitally erect. That spirit draws down dew from above—from the head of the King, site of supernal patriarchs—and when that dew arrives from them, the patriarchs below awaken.

Come and see: That dew descends by certain levels, level after level, reaching the lower Garden of Eden, where it is infused by the spices of the Garden. One spirit arouses—composed of two others—rising, drifting among the spices, entering the opening of the cave. Then the patriarchs awaken, they and their spouses, and plead for mercy for their children.

When the world is in distress because they are asleep on account of the sins of the world, that dew does not flow or appear until a Torah scroll arouses fittingly in the world. Then nefesh informs ruaḥ, and ruaḥ neshamah, and neshamah the blessed Holy One. The King then sits on the throne of mercy, and there issues from the supernal Ancient One a flow of טַלָּא דִּבְדוֹלְחָא (talla di-vdulḥa), crystal dew, reaching the head of the King, and the patriarchs are blessed, and that dew flows to those sleepers, who then all conjoin, and the blessed Holy One has compassion upon the world.

Come and see: The blessed Holy One does not have compassion upon the world until He has informed the patriarchs, and for their sake the world is blessed” (Zohar 1:225a-b).

“Those [Egyptian] sorcerers would go to cemeteries and perform their sorcery and make an image of a human and slaughter before it one goat. Afterward they put that goat in a certain grave, break that image into four quarters, and place them in the four corners of the grave. Then they perform their sorcery, and an assemblage of those evil species gathers and brings that soul, which enters the grave and speaks to them.

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Happy are the righteous in this world and in the world that is coming, for they are holy! Their body is holy, their nefesh is holy, their ruaḥ is holy, their neshamah is holy of holies—three rungs, corresponding to the pattern above. For it has been taught: Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘It is written Let the earth bring forth נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה (nefesh ḥayyah), a living soul (Genesis 1:24)—supernal soul of supernal Adam.

Come and see: There are three rungs, joining as one—nefesh, ruaḥ, neshamah—and highest of them is neshamah. For Rabbi Yose has said, ‘All people have nefesh, though one nefesh is superior to another. If a person proves worthy of this nefesh, a certain crown is infused in him, called ruaḥ, as is written: until רוּחַ (ruaḥ), is poured upon us from on high (Isaiah 32:15). Then the person is aroused by another sublime arousal to contemplate the ways of the Holy King. If the person proves worthy of that ruaḥ, he is adorned with a supernal holy crown encompassing all, called neshamah—called נִּשְׁמַת אֱלוֹהַּ (nishmat Eloah), soul of God (Job 4:9)…

One should not go there without teshuvah and without fasting, to plead before them. Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Without three fasts.’ Rabbi Yose said, ‘Even one, on that day—but only if the world is plunged in great suffering. Then [the souls of the righteous] all join to plead for mercy over the world.’

… Rabbi Yeisa said, ‘When the world is in need, why do we go to the dead? Is it not written or inquires of the dead (Deuteronomy 18:11)? So it is forbidden! He [Rabbi Ḥizkiyah] replied, ‘You have not seen the wings of the Bird of Eden [i.e., Shekhinah]. Or inquires of the dead—precisely, who are the wicked of the world, of the other nations, who are always dead. But as for Israel, who are truly righteous, Solomon declared over them, the dead, who have already died (Ecclesiastes 4:2)—another time, not now. Who have already died—and now they are alive.

Furthermore, when other nations visit their dead, they come with sorcery to arouse evil species [cf. Leqaḥ Tov on Deuteronomy 34:6]. But when the people of Israel does so, they come in great teshuvah before the blessed Holy One, with a broken heart, with fasting—and all so that those holy souls will plead before the blessed Holy One for mercy upon them.

Consequently we have learned: Even though a righteous person has departed from this world, he has not disappeared or vanished from all the worlds, since he exists in all those worlds more than in his lifetime [cf. Freud, Totem and Taboo]. During his life he exists only in this world; afterward he exists in three worlds and is welcome there, as is written: Therefore, maidens, love you (Song of Songs 1:3)—do not read עֲלָמוֹת (alamot), maidens, but rather עוֹלָמוֹת (olamot), worlds. Happy is their share!”(Zohar 3:70a-71b, cf. BT Bava Metsi’a 85b; Qohelet Rabbah on 10:10; Sefer Ḥasidim [ed. Margaliot] 450, 452).

This is the Table that is before YHWH

sabbath“Faithful Shepherd, prepare a table for your Master, for Him and His Matronita, with all sorts of delicacies, to fulfill in it: This is the table that is before YHWH (Ezekiel 41:22). For until now, everyone was enjoying from the King’s table, as it says: Come, partake of my bread, [and drink the wine I have mixed] (Proverbs 9:5). Bread—Written Torah [Ze’eir Anpin]. Wine—Oral Torah [Malkhut], in which there are many savories, flavors of Torah, from all the adornments and delicacies in the world and of the King.

The Faithful Shepherd rose and began to speak: Aaron the priest, rise from your sleep to slaughter oxen and sheep and goats and lambs and fowl, and all varieties needed for the King’s feast. לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים (Leḥem ha-Panim), bread of the Presence (Exodus 25:30), corresponding to the two tablets of Torah, written on both their sides [lit., מִזֶּה וּמִזֶּה הֵם כְּתֻבִים (mizeh u-mizeh hem ketuvim), from this and from this they were written] (Exodus 32:15). זֶּה (Zeh), this—twelve faces, which are [the twelve letters of יהוה (YHWH) written three times]: יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה (yivarekha Adonai), YHWH bless you… יָאֵר יְהוָה (ya’er Adonai), YHWH light up… יִשָּׂא יְהוָה (yisa Adonai), YHWH lift up (Numbers 6:24-25). The second זֶּה (zeh), this, is: אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)—twelve living beings, of which it says, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and the four had the face of an ox on the left side; the four also had the face of an eagle (Ezekiel 1:10). And it says of them: And each one had four faces (ibid. 6). That is, in each of the three beings there are four faces: lion, ox, eagle, and man, and three times four amounts to twelve living beings. That is the meaning of, And זֶה אֶל זֶה (zeh el zeh), one unto another, cried and said, [Holy, holy, holy, is YHWH of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory] (Isaiah 6:3). They also correspond to the twenty-four books of Torah. And this is: זֶה (Zeh), This, is the table, that is before YHWH (Ezekiel 41:22). Utensils on the King’s table are Masters of Mishnah—masters of prayer arranged to correspond to the sacrifices.

He opened and said: and you shall make a table of acacia wood (Exodus 25:23). Come and see: those present at the King’s meal had goodly and fine customs to show they were members of the King’s table. First the eldest would wash his hands. When they entered to sit for the meal, the oldest would sit at the head of the table. The second would be below him, and the third below the second. These are called the ‘three beds,’ corresponding to the three Patriarchs, and to the priests, the Levites and Israel. From here on, they had no order, rather whoever came first was seated.

Second, the master of the house breaks bread so that he may apportion it generously. He first completes [the blessing] and then breaks it. The Rabbis of the Mishnah have arranged it so that none of those reclining at the feast table are permitted to taste until the giver of the blessing has tasted first. The one who apportions is not permitted to taste until all present have finished saying ‘amen.’ And if he wishes to delegate honor [by inviting another to break bread] he may do so. In addition, it is said that the guest blessed [the meal after it was eaten] so that he bless the master of the house. And the mystery of the matter: The master of the house apportions—the middle pillar, קַו הָאֶמְצָעִי (qav ha-emtsa’i), the cord of measure. And on the Sabbath, he must apportion from two cuts: ה ה (he, he). The master of the house is ו (vav) in the middle. In order not to appear a glutton, he may apportion to each one a piece the size of an egg. What is the size of an egg? It is י (yod) and י (yod) which are the vocalizations of the Holy Name [יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNWY)] called ‘crumbs the size of an olive’ [see M Berakhot 7:1-2; Kil’ayim 8:5; Terumot 7:3; Ḥallah 1:2; Shabbat 10:5]. These correspond to drops of seed. And whoever belittles and disposes these crumbs in an inappropriate place, poverty chases him and he will constantly wander. As it is written: he wanders for bread—where is it? (Job 15:23). Bread—Torah; he cries out, looking for someone who will have compassion on him, but will find no one.

Crumbs the size of an olive belong to the Righteous One [Yesod], who presses these olives [Netsaḥ and Hod]. The אוֹרֵחַ (oreaḥ), guest, blesses, as is written: But אֹרַח (oraḥ), the path, of the righteous is like light’s radiance (Proverbs 4:18). Blessings on the righteous man’s head (Proverbs 10:6)—Vitality of the Worlds [Yesod]. Therefore, the guest makes the blessing.

As he was speaking, the Holy Lamp came to him, and said: Faithful Shepherd, one day I went along with the Companions to an inn. There was a child there who rose and by himself prepared for us a lamp and a table, as if he were twenty years old. Yet he was only a five year old boy. He set that table with different dishes and drinks and said, ‘The Rabbis have decreed that the master of the house breaks bread and the guest makes the blessing. Yet, I am young in years, and you are aged. Therefore was I awed and feared to speak my mind to you (Job 32:6) until I obtain permission from you.’ They said to him: Speak up my son, angel of God [for more on this יַנוּקָא (yanuqa), child, a wunderkind-and-enfant-terrible who amazes and teases, challenges and stumps the rabbis, see Zohar 3:186a-192a].

He said to us: ‘Do you desire indulgences without battle, or bread with battle?’ [the child may be playing on לֶחֶם (leḥem), bread, and לָחֶם (laḥem), war (see Judges 5:8)]. The Rabbis of the Mishnah decreed that mealtime is a time of war. If you desire to battle over it let no one eat and he who has won the battle shall eat first and apportion to the rest. The Companions said to him: You are still small, my son, and you have yet to learn how mighty men wage battle with sword, in waving the sword, with lance, with bow and arrows, and with slingstones.

He said to us: Let not the buckler of armor boast like the unfastner (1 Kings 20:11). It has been explained that whoever reads the recitation of Shema at his bedside is as if he holds a double-edged sword, as it is written: Exultations of God in their throat and a double-edged sword [lit., a sword of mouths] in their hand (Psalms 149:6) [cf. BT Berakhot 5a; Song of Songs 3:7-8 (included in the recitation of Shema): Look, Solomon’s bed—sixty warriors round it of the warriors of Israel. All of them wielding the sword trained in battle, each with his sword on his thigh out of terror in the nights]. The waving of the sword must be done in the six directions, as was explained, in order to make Him reign over the heavens, the earth, and the four corners of the world. ו (Vav)—body of the sword; י (yod)—head of the sword; הה (he, he)—two edges [lit., mouths]; אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)—sheath of the sword [cf. Leviticus 26:33; Tiqqnuei ha-Zohar 8b].

The רֹמַח (romaḥ), lance, is the 248 words in the recitation of Shema, and together with the six words in the unification [בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד (Barukh shem kevod malkhuto le-olam va-ed), Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever], they total רוֹמַח (romaḥ), lance [spelled fully with ו (vav), numerically equivalent to 254]. The מָגֵן (magen), shield, is with sword: מִיכָאֵל גַּבְרִיאֵל נוּרִיאֵל (Mikhael, Gavriel, Nuriel), Michael, Gabriel and Nuriel. They serve the three Patriarchs [Ḥesed, Gevurah and Tif’eret]. The bow [Yesod] shoots arrows, but ‘Any seed that does not shoot forth like an arrow does not beget offspring’ (BT Ḥagigah 15a; Niddah 43a). The sling is the recitation of Shema Yisra’el, and the five slingstones—שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה (Shema Yisra’el Adonai Elohenu Adonai), Hear, Israel, YHWH our God, YHWH (Deuteronomy 6:4) [Ḥesed, Gevurah, Tif’eret, Netsaḥ, Hod]—correspond to David [Malkhut]: and he chose five smooth stones from the creek [and put them in the shepherd’s pouch he had, in the satchel, and his slingshot was in his hand, and he came forward toward the Philistine] (1 Samuel 17:40). When he placed them into the sling, the שָׂפָה (safah), lip, Shekhinah, all five turned into one stone and killed the Philistine [שָׂפָה (safah), lip, and שְׁכִינָה (Shekhinah) are numerically equivalent].

And until now, I have been זָרִיקְנָא (zariqna), throwing, the stone at Samael, a stone of siege [alluding to the musical intonation זַרְקָא (zarqa), thrown. On the image of prayer shot from a sling, see Bahir §89-91, §178; Zohar 1:23a-24b (TZ); cf. Judges 20:16]. I have ruined his siege and lowered him down. Therefore, I said to you, Let not the buckler of armor boast like the unfastner. Now it is clear to you that, indeed, I do know how mighty men wage battle with swords, with lances, with bows and with slings. We were astonished and could not speak. He said to us: Rabbis let us now see who will get נַהֲמָא (nahama), bread, the לֶחֶם הַמּוֹצִיא (leḥem ha-motsi), bread of ‘[who] brings forth’ (Grace after Meals).

He opened, saying: When it happens that you eat of the bread of the land, you shall תָּרִימוּ (tarimu), present, a donation to YHWH (Numbers 15:19). How is the Shekhinah אַתְרִימָת (atrimat), raised, who is the ה (he) of ‘הַמּוֹצִיא (ha-motsi),’ regarding which the Masters of Mishnah have decreed that whoever breaks the bread of הַמּוֹצִיא (ha-motsi) must be precise in pronouncing the ה (he)? Surely it has been decreed by the Masters of Mishnah that, ‘Chaff and straw are exempt from tithing’ (Zohar 2:120b [RM], cf. ibid. 2:272a; TZ 17, 31a; 69, 114a; TZḤ 113c). When She is in the chaff and straw She is in prison, and the ה (he) does not have permission to rise to the מ (mem) [Ze’eir Anpin] to become, with it, מַה (Mah), What [numerically equivalent to the full spelling of יהוה (YHWH): יוד הא ואו הא (Yod, He, Vav, He)]. This is the meaning of תְרוּמָה (terumah), raise, which is the “ה (five) of the five books of Torah, in which it says: and Moses was on the mountain forty days… (Exodus 24:18) [תְרוּמָה (terumah) can be read as: “תּוֹרָה מ (Torah forty)].

Our Rabbis referred to the chaff and straw of the wheat, when they said that the tree of which Adam ate was wheat [see BT Berakhot 40a]. For by eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, he drew ח”ט (ḥet, tet), chaff and straw [alluding to חֵטְא (ḥet), offence], near the ה (he) [Shekhinah]. “י (Ten) was gone from it, its tithing, therefore, when She is in straw and chaff which correspond to the removal of the foreskin and the uncovering of the male organ it is exempt from tithing [two layers of skin cover the penis, one of which is cut off and the other is cut open in פּרִיעָה (peri’ah), uncovering, at a ritual circumcision]. For י (yod) has no permission to join ה (he), which are man and woman. And this is the mystery of י (yod) in אִישׁ וְאִשָּׁה (ish ve-ishah), man and woman [cf. BT Sotah 17a]. Therefore, whoever breaks the bread must be precise pronouncing ה (he) and must break the bread where it is nicely baked, because ripening is the completion of fruit.

Ten things one should perform for the meal: first is washing hands; second is preparation of the two loaves for Sabbath; third is to eat of three meals and add from weekdays to holiness; fourth is to light a candle on the table, as was explained, that a table should be to the north side, and the candle on the south, and to recline, as was explained that if they recline together, one makes the blessing for everyone.

And with Sabbath, one should add from the secular to the holy in everything he does, with his food and drink, his clothing and his reclining [cf. Mekhilta, Baḥodesh 7; JT Berakhot 4:1, 7c, 13d; BT Berakhot 27a. Cf. Bereshit Rabbah 11:7; Zohar 2:47b]. He must prepare a fine sofa with many pillows and embroidered cushions from all that he has in his house, as when preparing the marriage canopy for the bride, because Sabbath is both a queen and a bride. And for this reason the Masters of Mishnah used to hasten to come out on Sabbath eve to welcome Her on the way. And they used to say: ‘בֹּאִי כַּלָּה בֹּאִי כַּלָּה (Boi kalah, Boi kalah), Come, O bride! Come, O bride!’ [see BT Shabbat 119a: ‘Rabbi Ḥanina robed himself and stood at sunset of Sabbath eve [and] exclaimed, Come and let us go forth to welcome the queen Sabbath. Rabbi Yannai donned his robes, on Sabbath eve and exclaimed, Come, O bride, Come, O bride!’]. Thus, one should arouse song and gladness for Her on that table.

There is yet another secret: just as one should receive a lady by lighting many lamps [so too] for the Sabbath, and with many delights, fine clothes, a house arrayed with many adornments, and with a beautiful sofa arranged for everyone. For gladness and preparation cause the evil slavegirl to remain in the dark in hunger, in weeping, in mourning, and in black dress like a widow. When this one is filled, this one is parched.

The good impulse is the Holy Matronita. The holy מַלְכוּת (Malkhut), Kingdom, that descends on Sabbath, comprised of ten sefirot. She is decorated with seven names that are not erased, with many chariots of living beings, and with many armies and camps. The King goes out to Her with many camps, and the evil impulse, which is the [wicked] slavegirl remains in the dark, like a widow without her husband, without [any] chariots.

It was said of those who sacrifice and burn incense to the queen of the heavens and the constellations, which I did not command (Deuteronomy 17:3), worship the slavegirl that rules on the eve of Sabbath and the eve of the fourth day. What do they do? They wear black clothes, extinguish their lights, and lament on Sabbath nights to join with her, because One against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14) [cf. Zohar 2:275a; Ibn Ezra, Perush ha-Torah on Exodus 20:14; Idel, Saturn’s Jews, p. 31-2, n. 120].

After Israel sinned and the Temple was destroyed, it is said regarding the Shekhinah, Holy Mother: How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How has she become like a widow! (Lamentations 1:1). People extinguish lamps and candles on the ninth of Av, and sit like mourners to join in the sorrow of the Shekhinah, because they caused Her all this calamity [but not on the Sabbath].

Fifth is the כּוֹס (kos), cup, for saying, וַיְכֻלּוּ (vayekhulu), then they were completed (Genesis 2:1). Sixth is to speak words of Torah at the table. Seventh is to extend the meal and allow the poor to come to the table. Eighth is washing hands with finger-bowl water. Ninth is the blessing after the meal. Tenth is the cup for the blessing [after the meal]. It is necessary to repeat [these ten things] and to order them in accordance with the holy mystery, for She is comprised of ten sefirot. She is the table of the blessed Holy One from the side of Gevurah. Hence, the Rabbis have explained that the table should face the north.

First, washing of hands: the Rabbis of the Mishnah explained ‘Filthy hands are unfit for blessing, because they are twice removed from uncleanness’ (BT Berakhot 53b). Unclean hands are the cause of defilement, being once removed from uncleanness. Clean hands are twice removed from uncleanness and are fit to bless, because blessing rests only on purity, since blessing rests on a priest, who is a pure man, a man of Ḥesed. This is: Like goodly oil on the head (Psalms 133:2). Therefore, Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus shall you bless the Israelites’ (Numbers 6:23). It was explained that every priest who blesses is blessed, and if he does not bless he is not blessed. The Masters of Mishnah have further explained that any blessing that does not have a recitation of the Name and Malkhut, is not considered a blessing, since Malkhut is Adonai.

In addition, hands should be washed up to the joint because it was decreed [to wash] י”ד (fourteen) joints. At that time, the יַד (yad), hand, of YHWH rests on him. It is the hand of blessing from the side of Ḥesed, wherein Ḥokhmah lies in the right hand. It is the hand of holiness from the side of Gevurah that prevails in Judgment. It is also the hand of unification from the aspect of Tif’eret. This rests on the fourteen joints of the body, because there are twelve joints in the two arms and in the two legs, three joints in each for a sum of six and together they are twelve. Together with the two in the body and the genital organ, they amount to fourteen.

Three times fourteen equals forty-two; ייי (yod, yod, yod) of יַד (yad), יַד (yad), יַד (yad), alludes to יְבָרֶכְךָ (yivarekha), bless you… יָאֵר (ya’er), light up… יִשָּׂא (yisa), lift up (Numbers 6:24-25) from יְהוָה יְהוָה יְהוָה (YHWH, YHWH, YHWH). דדד (Dalet, dalet, dalet) of יַד (yad), יַד (yad), יַד (yad) are implied in אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai). Of them the prophet said: The temple of YHWH, the temple of YHWH, the temple of YHWH, are these (Jeremiah 7:4) [הֵיכַל (heikhal), temple, is numerically equivalent to אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)]. Thus is established the washing of hands [comprised of י”ד (fourteen) joints].

Every side is comprised of three faces of the living beings which are יְהוָה יְהוָה יְהוָה (YHWH, YHWH, YHWH), and the three wings of the living beings are דדד (dalet, dalet, dalet). They must all derive from the power of man: יוֹד וָאו דָּלֶת הֵא אָלֶף וָאו אָלֶף וָאו הֵא אָלֶף (Yod, Vav, Dalet, He, Alef, Vav, Alef, Vav, He, Alef) [כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, is numerically equivalent to twenty-eight, the number of letters in this doubly full spelling of יהוה (YHWH), and the number of joints in the human hands. Furthermore, אָדָם (adam), human, corresponds to the simple full spelling of יהוה (YHWH): יוד הא ואו הא (Yod, He, Vav, He), since each are numerically equivalent to forty-five]. The Matronita does not dwell in his power until all the filth of the wicked, unfit slavegirl, wife to the unfit, is removed. Therefore, the Masters of Mishnah explained that ‘Filthy hands are unfit to make a blessing’ (BT Berakhot 53b).

This water is for cleansing the hand upon which the hand of YHWH rests. The hand of YHWH is water of Torah. The ignorant people are considered like unclean reptiles [see BT Pesaḥim 49b]. What good will immersing in water do them, holding in their hand that reptile, which is the wicked slavegirl, stolen goods in their possession, the stolen blessings they stole from the blessed Holy One. They do not know what a blessing is, or what filth is.

Immediately after the Companions and I heard these words, we could not bear to wait for him to finish each of these ten matters of blessings. We bowed before him, saying ‘Certainly, there is no one who could speak these matters except for you, since you are comparable to the four divisions of the Garden of Eden [see Genesis 2:10]. If a person enters the children’s section, he becomes a child; in the youth’s section he becomes a youth; in the young men’s section, he becomes a young man, and in the elder’s section, he becomes an elder. Therefore, it is written of you: מִמְּכוֹן שִׁבְתּוֹ הִשְׁגִּיחַ אֶל כָּל יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ (mimkhon shivto hishegiḥa el kal yoshvei ha-arets), from his firm throne he surveyed all who dwell on the earth (Psalms 33:14). Also, it is about you that it says: בְּשַׁגַּם (beshagam), for, he is but flesh. [Let his days be a hundred and twenty years] (Genesis 6:3) [בְּשַׁגַּם (beshagam), in as much, is numerically equivalent to מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses, see BT Ḥullin 139b]. For you were present in the generation of the Tower of Babel, and in every generation [you return] by rolling like a wheel that turns round in many ways, yet you revealed yourself only at that generation when Torah was given at your hands [cf. BT Yoma 38b; BT Ḥagigah 13b-14a; Bahir §195].

As soon as you departed from the world you became like the sun that shines in every generation [cf. Zohar 1:147a]. Even when the sun is gathered at night, it illuminates the moon and 600,000 stars [cf. BT Bava Batra 75a: ‘The face of Moses was like that of the sun, the face of Joshua like that of the moon;’ BT Pesaḥim 94a-b]. So are you who shine on the 600,000 people in each and every generation. That is what Qohelet indicated in the verse: A generation goes and a generation comes (Ecclesiastes 1:4). The Rabbis have explained that a generation does not consist of less than 600,000 people [cf. Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 4:2]. He [namely, Rabbi Akiva] also explained the generation that passes away is the one that comes [see Bahir §121-22]. This fulfills: מַה שֶּׁהָיָה הוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה (mah shehayah hu sheyihyeh), that which was is that, which will be [and that which was done is that which will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun] (Ecclesiastes 1:9) [מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses]. From here on, complete the ten matters of the Sabbath table openly. The Faithful Shepherd said: ‘Holy Lamp, blessed is your lot that the blessed Holy One revealed to you what He has not revealed to any prophet or seer’ [cf. BT Bava Batra 12a].

Second is to break bread over two loaves of bread on Sabbath, which are alluded to in the two tablets of Torah that were given on the Sabbath in pairs. On the third day they descended [from the Heavens, i.e., Tif’eret], on which it was said טוֹב (tov), good, twice [since it comprises right and left]. On the Sabbath Torah was given, in which there are two females, which correspond to twice טוֹב (tov), good. Though it was explained that demons are assigned to [harm] pairs as has been explained [one must not eat] two eggs or two nuts, yet if this is so, why are two loaves of bread used on Sabbath, seeing they are a pair? [see BT Pesaḥim 110b]. He responds, it is a halakhah from Moses at Sinai that those sent on pious missions will meet no evil [see BT Qiddushin 39b; cf. Pesaḥim 8a; Yoma 11a].

You may wonder why we learned that one should not begin anything on the second day or finish on the fourth day because they are pairs, which applies to matters of decrees as well, even though those sent on pious missions meet no evil. [He answers,] this is when with the motley throng, who are never sent on pious missions, because they have not converted for Heaven’s sake. [Then it is] forbidden to begin on the second day or the fourth day. However, the righteous, who have no connection with the motley throng may start on the second day and the fourth day for the sake of performing a decree, because those sent on a pious mission shall come to no harm. Therefore, after they were gone from the world [i.e., after the sin of the golden calf] the blessed Holy One commanded to take two stone tablets like the first ones (Exodus 34:1), saying: and I shall write on the tablets the words which were on the first tablets (ibid.) [and He did not mind the pairs].

Two loaves of bread on Sabbath indicate the יוֹדִין (yodin), two yods [in] יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNHY). For אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) [Malkhut] is alone without Her husband during the six weekdays. On Sabbath He descends to אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) and the combination יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNHY) is formed. Hence, all nishmatin, ruaḥin, and nafshin leave and come down in pairs on Sabbath, and no adversary or harmer, has power on the Sabbath day. Even Hell has no power and does not burn on the Sabbath. Therefore, you shall not kindle a fire in all your dwelling places on the sabbath day (Exodus 35:3). That refers to strange fire, but the fire of sacrifice is a fire of holiness. There is no need to speak at length on their apportioning as it was already explained.

Third is to eat three meals on Sabbath, as was explained by the Masters of Mishnah. One of them [Rabbi Yose] said: ‘May my portion be of those who eat three meals on the Sabbath’ (BT Shabbat 118b) [cf. BT Gittin 7a; Bava Batra 10a; Bava Metsi’a 85a; Nedarim 40a; Berakhot 15b; Pesaḥim 118a; Shabbat 118a], which complete the seven blessings in the Amidah by bringing them to a total of ten. The secret of עֹנֶג (oneg), delight, is: וְנָהָר יֹצֵא מֵעֵדֶן לְהַשְׁקוֹת אֶת הַגָּן (ve-nahar ma-eden le-hashqot et ha-gan), now a river runs out of Eden to water the garden (Genesis 2:10). Whoever can but does not observe them, for him the עֹנֶג (oneg), delight, turns into a נֶגַע צָרַעַת (nega tsara’at), skin blanch. In order that he should not come to this, the blessed Holy One says: Borrow on Me and I will pay, Then shall תִּתְעַנַּג (tit’anag), you delight yourself, upon YHWH (Isaiah 58:14).

Fourth is to light the table with a candelabra, as was decreed by the ancients, that a table should be at the north and the candelabra at the south, for the table of the blessed Holy One [Malkhut], should be set in this manner. Fifth is the wine cup of וַיְכֻלּוּ (vayekhulu), then they were completed (Genesis 2:1). The sum of כּוֹס (kos), cup, is that of אֱלֹהִים (Elohim). וַיְכֻלּוּ (Vayekhulu)—[numerically equivalent to] seventy-two which the holy Bride includes. The כּוֹס (kos), cup, is filled with the wine of Torah which must bear testimony to the Work of Creation.

Sixth is to have words of Torah at one’s table, because that is how the Masters of Mishnah decreed ‘Three who eat at one table, and do not speak words of Torah, [they are as if they had eaten of sacrifices of dead idols]’ (M Avot 3:4). The secret is that they have decreed that the table should be to the north and that Torah was given from the right. In order to join the right, which is Compassion, with the left, which is Judgment. Torah is YHWH [Ze’eir Anpin] which was given from the right, and the table is אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) [Malkhut] which is from the left [i.e., north]. One must join them, since that table is at the left side, the Masters of Mishnah have explained that a person’s sustenance is as difficult to obtain as the splitting of the Reed Sea [see BT Pesaḥim 118b (in the name of Rabbi El’azar son of Azariyah); Bereshit Rabbah 97:3 (in the name of Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi); Zohar 1:207b; 2:52b, 170a; 3:292b (IZ); ZḤ 86d (MhN, Rut)]. Therefore, one should invite for himself a Torah scholar, who will study Torah.

Seventh is to stay a long time at the table for the lowly. Whoever stays long at the table will have his days and years extended. For that reason: righteousness saves from death (Proverbs 10:2). Since a poor man is like a dead man whom he revives the blessed Holy One also revives him.

Furthermore, a secret explanation: All the poor originate from the aspect of ד (dalet), about which it is said: דַּלּוֹתִי (Daloti), I plunged down, but He did rescue me (Psalms 116:6). The pronunciation of ד (dalet) in אֶחָד (eḥad), one (Deuteronomy 6:4), should be prolonged. That is meant by the verse: in order that he may long endure in his kingship (Deuteronomy 17:20). Therefore, it is incumbent on one to stay long at the table, which is ד (dalet), because it has ד״ (four) legs. In honor of ד (dalet), one should stay long at the table for the sake of the lowly.

In relation to it the Rabbis explained that the blessed Holy One sought a beautiful quality for Israel, and found only the quality of דַלּוּת (dalut), poverty [see Tanna devei Eliyyahu Zuta 5]. A difficulty was raised here, since the ancients explained that the number of different deaths is equivalent to the sum of תֹּצָאוֹת (totsaot), ways out (Psalms 68:21), and that an empty pocket is the most difficult. How could it be said He found no better quality for Israel than poverty?

It is only because about each people and tongue, [And they shall pass through it, hardpressed and hungry:] and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall be enraged, and curse their king and their god, and look upward (Isaiah 8:21). However, the children of Israel are in a covenant with the blessed Holy One, also with this quality [poverty] and do not deny His existence. Hence they shall be redeemed by this quality. This is: a lowly people You rescue (2 Samuel 22:28). עָנִי (Ani), lowly, is derived from עִנּוּי (inui), suffering, since even when one has wealth but suffers from illnesses and afflictions, he is considered lowly. Or he is distressed [due to his wealth] and is afflicted every day. This is surely true for one who is lowlier than him, and must wander from place to place.

Another [kind of] עָנִי (ani), lowly one, who lost his mind like Job, about whom, it is said: Job speaks without דַעַת (da’at), knowledge (Job 34:35). So too is ד (dalet), which is the Shekhinah. When א”ח (alef, ḥet) [of אֶחָד (eḥad), one] were gone from Her, which is the middle pillar called דַּעַת (Da’at), Knowledge. And one [who is without knowledge] does not incur guilt with [improper] speech. Furthermore, א”ח (alef, ḥet) is Torah which is comprised of the 613 decrees. This is the meaning of: That is My name forever and thus am I invoked in all ages (Exodus 3:15). שְּׁמִי (Shemi), My name, plus יָהּ (Yah) is 365, and זִכְרִי (Zikhri), am I invoked, plus ו”ה (vav, he) is 248. Therefore it has been explained that one is lowly only in Torah and mitsvot. This is because the other lowly people suffer [but are not poor]. ד (Dalet) of אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), is also lowly without יְהֹוָה (YHWH).

Eighth is the finger bowl water that was instituted due to the salt of Sodom that is blinding to the eyes. Why is it considered obligatory? According to the secret of the matter, deadly poison rests on filthy hands, with which one makes a blessing, and on a cup, over which one makes a blessing without cleanliness, and it is considered defiled. Just as a cup from which people drank is considered unclean for a blessing until it is cleansed by rinsing it inside and out, the hands all the more so. Hence fingerbowl water is obligatory. The mystery is: And you shall sanctify yourselves (Leviticus 20:7)—washing of hands before the meal. And you shall become holy (ibid.)—fingerbowl water. For I am Holy—fragrant ointment. [These three things] correspond to Holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6:3). And you shall sanctify yourselves—so that it shall be known that you are children of the blessed Holy One. That is what is meant by: You are children to YHWH your God (Deuteronomy 14:1).

Ninth is the cup of blessing. As has been explained by the Masters of Mishnah, ten things were said about this cup of blessing, which are: decorating, wrapping, washing, rinsing, unmixed wine, full cup, receiving it with both hands and leaving it with the right, raising it from the surface a handbreadth, looking at it [cf. Zohar 1:250a], and sending it as a gift to the members of his household. Now we have only four, which are washing, rinsing, unmixed wine, and a full cup. Some say the wine should be taken unmixed from the cask, and water may be added to it in the cup. Some say that חַי (ḥai), unmixed [lit., vitality], wine means the cup should be whole [i.e., undiluted] because its breaking is its death [on mixed and unmixed wine, see Isaiah 1:22; 65:11; Proverbs 9:2, 5; 23:30; BT Berakhot 50b; Sanhedrin 70a; 2 Maccabees 15:39].

כּוֹס (Kos), cup, according to the way of wisdom: אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) is מָלֵא (male), full, with יָהּ (Yah), God [when not full, Malkhut is אִלֵם (ilem), mute. Cf. Zohar 1:36b; 3:221a (RM)], and they are whole. However, כּוֹס (kos), cup, without ו (vav) is כֵּס (kes), throne, instead of כִּסֵּא (kisse), throne, deficient and lacking without א (alef). It is lacking without ו (vav), and is deficient. הַכִּסֵּא (Ha-Kisse), the Throne, is numerically equivalent to כּוֹס (kos), cup.

כּוֹס (Kos), cup, is “ה (five) [reckoned according to its reduced numerical value] and ten things are needed, parallel to י (yod) [in order to draw the fifty gates of Binah], and they are: crowning—סוֹד הָעַטָרָה (sod ha-atarah), mystery of the corona, the עֲטֶרֶת תִּפְאֶרֶת (Ataret Tif’eret), Crown of Beauty [Malkhut of יְסוֹד (Yesod)]. And this is the mystery of coronation with which our Patriarchs, of blessed memory, would crown disciples, and She is the עֲטֶרֶת הַבְּרִית (Ataret ha-Berit), Crown of the Covenant [i.e., the covenant of circumcision]. עִטּוּף (Ituf), wrapping: A prayer for the lowly when יַעֲטֹף (ya’atof), he covers (Psalms 102:1)—all of these blessings and prayers are covered together until the prayer of the lowly rises.

Washing and rinsing, these are like: and cleanse it and consecrate it (Leviticus 16:19). Cleansing is from the right—Ḥesed. Consecrating is from the left—Gevurah. The cup of blessing [Malkhut] is from the aspect of Binah called אֱלֹהִים (Elohim). עֲטָרָה (Atarah), diadem, is from the aspect of כֶּתֶר (Keter), Crown. Unmixed [lit., חַי (ḥai), vitality] is from the aspect of Yesod [חֵי עָלְמִין (Ḥei Almin), Vitality of the Worlds], called Peace, as is written: neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, says YHWH that has mercy on you (Isaiah 54:10) [rather, it will live forever, and thus Malkhut is called Living from this aspect]. Full is from the aspect of Tif’eret. Receiving with two hands is הה (he, he) [of יהוה (YHWH)].

Leaving is with the right hand. Upper ה (he)—Ḥesed; lower ה (he)—Gevurah. Lifting off the surface a handbreadth is the mystery of י (yod), since ה (he) is raised by י (yod) [meaning that one should raise the five sefirot of Malkhut from Her place, which is the mystery of the surface, multiply Her by “י (ten), and meditate on Her receiving the fifty gates of Binah]. Looking with the eyes is the mystery of יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNHY) since יהוה (YHWH) shines in the pupil of the eye [אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)]. יהוה (YHWH) is white, red and green, [Ḥesed, Gevurah and Tif’eret of Ze’eir Anpin]. Adonai shines in the two eyelids, as well as the two pupils [of the eye and the hair of the eyelashes (Sullam)]. Sending a gift to the members of the household is Binah, of which it is written: ‘Let Moses rejoice in the gift of his portion’ (Sabbath Morning Liturgy) [since Moses merited Binah and one must attach the cup, which is Malkhut, to the lights of Binah].

Tenth is blessing after the meal. It was explained by the Rabbis: with three כּוֹס (kos), a cup, is needed [at the dining table, i.e., God, must be present when three, or more, people eat together at one table; כּוֹס (kos), cup, and אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), God, are numerically equivalent; cf. M Avot 3:4]. And the mystery of the matter: אַהֲבַת כְּלוּלֹתָיִךְ (ahavat kelulotayikh), the love of your betrothals (Jeremiah 2:2)—[read: לְאַבוֹתָיִךְ הַכֹּל (le-avotayikh ha-kol), to your fathers: all] the Patriarchs: בַּכֹּל (bakol), in all (Genesis 24:1), מִכֹּל (mikol), of all (ibid 27:33, cf. ibid. 25:5), כֹל (khol), all (ibid. 33:11). But we should not speak at length of it.

How do we know that grace after meals is from the Torah? Because it is written: And you will eat and be sated and bless YHWH your God [on the goodly land He has given you] (Deuteronomy 8:10). And we learned in a barraita: and blessfeeds. YHWH your Godgrace after meals. On the land—blessing on the land. The goodly—builds Jerusalem. Thus, it says, this goodly high country, and the Lebanon (Deuteronomy 3:25). But this is only after [the meal], where is [proof of the requirement to recite a blessing] before [the meal]? It is said: He has given you—from the time it is given to you [i.e., even before eating] you must bless Him [cf. JT Berakhot 7:1, 5a-o; BT Berakhot 35a].

The sages, of blessed memory, have interpreted that Moses instituted for the Israelites the blessing ‘(who) feeds’ when manna descended on them. Joshua instituted for them blessing the land in the time of the rallying for the land. David and Solomon instituted the blessing for the building of Jerusalem. Moreover, an allusion to grace after meals is found in the portion Manna, in the manna itself: ‘in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, and you shall know that I am YHWH your God’ (Exodus 16:12).

Rabbi Shim’on said: The mystery of these seven זַיְינִין (zayinin) that are inscribed on the tefillin, is that the ז (zayin) in the ש (shin) allude to the seven lobes in man’s lung, by which he draws air and exhales with it a fiery spark from his mouth [since air is composed of fire, water, and air]. They also allude to the seven days and the weeks from Passover to Shavuot. Also, they allude to the seven branches of the candelabra, on which there are seven holy lamps. They also allude to the seven stars that shine in the firmament and they allude to the seven rungs by which the world is maintained, which are the foundation, root and essence of everything [i.e., the seven planets and seven lower sefirot]. The Companions said about these that whoever wishes to put on the head tefillin has to examine these two שִׁינִין (shinin) hinted in the seven זַיְינִין (zayinin), for hinted in them are hidden mysteries and deep allusions” (Zohar 3:272a-74b, Ra’aya Meheimna Eqev).

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 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. 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 (yashlimehu), 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], cf. 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 Man—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 Man 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 Man to be struck, for this includes also the righteous men amongst them, for there is no difference between Primordial Man and the righteous and the patriarchs and Primordial Man. This is because those are their נִשְׁמָתִין (nishmatin), souls, and their distress, pain, and anguish reach the patriarchs and Man. 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.

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).

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