The Nut Garden

Gleanings of Zohar

Bread of Shame

“One who eats the bread of his friend is ashamed to look at his face” (JT Orlah 1:3 [6a]).

“I have the following tradition from my grandfather’s family: At all times shall one [rather] hire himself out to עֲבוֹדָה זַרָה [avodah zarah] idol-worship, than be in need [of the help] of [his fellow] creatures. He thought that עֲבוֹדָה זַרָה [avodah zarah] (meant) actual [idol worship], but it is not so, [the meaning being,] ‘work which is strange to him;’ as Rav said to Rabbi Kahana: Flay a carcass in the street and earn a wage, and say not, ‘I am a great man and the work is degrading to me’ [BT Pesaḥim 113a]” (BT Baba Batra 110a).

“The man who is self-sufficient is greater than the one who fears Heaven” (BT Berakhot 8a).

If a man deposits produce with his neighbor, even if it is suffering loss, he must not touch it. Rabbi Shimon son of Gamaliel said: He must sell it by order of the court, because it is like returning lost property to its owner [Mishnah]—what is the reason? Said Rabbi Kahana: A man prefers a measure of his own to nine of his neighbour’s” (BT Baba Metsi’a 38a).

“Rabbi Nathan son of Abba further said in the name of Rav: He who is dependent on another’s table, the world is dark to him, for it is said: He wanders for bread—where is it? He knows that the dark day awaits him [Job 15:23]. Rabbi Ḥisda says: Also his life is no life” (BT Beitṣah 32b).

“The words of the Torah are not to be found in the arrogant or haughty, but only in he who is contrite and lowly in spirit, who sits in the dust at the feet of the wise and banishes from his heart lusts and temporal delights, works a little daily, just enough to provide for his needs, if he would otherwise have nothing to eat, and devotes the rest of the day and night to the study of Torah. [But] one who makes up his mind to involve himself with Torah and not to work, and to support himself from charity, has profaned God’s Name and brought the Torah into contempt, extinguished the light of religion, brought evil upon himself and has taken away his life from the world that is coming, for it is forbidden to benefit in this world from the words of Torah” (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilḥot Talmud Torah 3:9-10).

“This matter is like a rich man who took a man from the market and fed him and gave him gold and silver and all desirables every day. And each day he showered him with more gifts than the day before. Finally, the rich man asked, ‘Do tell me, have all your wishes been fulfilled?’ And he replied, ‘Not all of my wishes have been fulfilled, for how good and how pleasant it would be if all those possessions and precious things came to me through my own work, as they have come to you, and I would not be receiving the charity of your hand.’ Then the rich man told him: ‘In this case, there has never been born a person who could fulfill your wishes.’

It is a natural thing, since on the one hand, he experiences greater and greater pleasure, the more he showers presents upon him, but on the other, it is hard for him to tolerate the shame for the excessive goodness that the rich bestows upon him. This is because there is a natural law that the receiver feels shame and impatience upon receiving gifts from the giver out of compassion and pity” (Rav Judah Ashlag, Matan Torah 8, cf. Rav Moses Ḥayyim Luzzatto, Derekh HaShem 1:2).

Like a Weaned Babe

originalAnd the manna was like coriander seed and its color like the color of bdellium. The people would go about and gather it and… make it into cakes. And its taste was like the לְשַׁד [leshad] creaminess, of oil. [Numbers 11:7-8]—the taste of it was as the taste of a לְשַׁד [leshad] cake baked with oil. Rabbi Abbuha said: Just as the infant finds very many a flavour in the שָׁד [shad] breast, so also did Israel find many a taste in the manna as long as they were eating it. There are some who say: A שֵׁד [shed] demon; even as the demon changes into many colours, so did the manna change into many tastes” (BT Yoma 75a, cf. Avot de-Rabbi Nathan §37: Two people eat from the same bowl, but each one tastes according to his deeds).

“שְׁנֵי שָׁדַיִךְ [shenei shadaikh] Your two breasts, are two fawns [Song of Songs 4:5]. For in this chamber there is the spirit… [of love], and this living being issued two lights, one included in the other and unified, called, אֵל שַׁדָּי El Shaddai. These two lights are called שַׁדָּי Shaddai, and together with אֵל El, of the chamber below, זְכוּת אֵל Zekhut El, they join each other and intermingle to be called אֵל שַׁדָּי El Shaddai, for they issued from the שָּׁדָיִם [shadaim] breasts.

… Here lies the beginning of Abraham, who is of the right, called אַהֲבָה רַבָּא [Ahavah Rabba] Great Love, as we said. And he received the chamber called אַהֲבָה [Ahavah] Love. Then, Your שָׁדַיִם [shadaimbreasts, were firm [Ezekiel 16:7], and filled with goodness to sustain and nourish all from here. And when the breasts were firm and filled by the רְחִימוּ עִלָּאָה [reḥimu ilaah] supernal love, then this chamber was called אֵל שַׁדָּי El Shaddai, as we said. And by this the world found supply when it was created, because when the world was created, it could not exist, and did not endure, until this chamber was revealed, that Abraham took. When Abraham was seen in this chamber, the world said דַי [dai] enough, for there is supply to sustain and nourish the world. It was therefore called אֵל שַׁדָּי El Shaddai, God in whom there is enough.

The blessed Holy One will fill and repair it in the future, as it is written, That you may nurse, and be satisfied מִשֹּׁד [mishod] from the breasts, of her consolations; that you may drink deeply, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory [Isaiah 66:11]. מִשֹּׁד [mishod] From the breasts, of her consolations and the abundance of her glory are all in this chamber. Then, at that time, it is written, Who would have uttered to Abraham—‘Sarah is הֵינִיקָה [heiniqah] suckling, sons!’ [Genesis 21:7], for יְנִיקָא [yeniqa] sucking, depends upon Abraham” (Zohar Pequdei, Heikhalot).

“But I have calmed and contented myself like a גָּמֻ֖ל [gamul] weaned, babe on its mother—like a weaned babe I am with myself” (Psalms 131:2).




Those Who Fear Sin are Treated like Dogs

197581_1011318490228_5126_n“Elijah, rise and begin speaking with me about the precepts, since you are my help in everything. About you [and your root soul], it was first mentioned, Phinehas son of Eleazar son of Aaron the priest (Numbers 25:11). Son of Aaron assuredly is his brother, as [At all times a companion is loving], and a brother was born for [the hour of] trouble (Proverbs 17:17).

He opened the discussion saying, It is a commandment to discuss the laws of a suspected wife, as written: Then a spirit of jealousy may come over him and he will be jealous (Numbers 5:14). Surely, a spirit of uncleanness exists on both sides, one false and one true. Therefore, in the spirit of falseness, he will be jealous about his wife, she not being defiled (ibid.), and the second: Then a spirit of jealousy may come over him… with her being defiled (ibid.).

Could there possibly be any truth in a spirit of uncleanness? It is because in a man, who stems from the Tree of Good and Evil, there exists the evil impulse, the serpent. When a man has a beautiful wife [which is his soul] in all her good deeds, it is said, A virtuous woman is a crown for her husband (Proverbs 12:4). The evil impulse is jealous, as we have found that [the serpent] was jealous of Adam because of his wife, so it seduced her and caused her to die. Sometimes it dominates her through sins and defiles her, and she becomes a carcass.

The evil impulse on its right side, is the rank of Ishmael and, is called serpent. From the left side, which is the rank of Esau, who is Samael, it is called dog. Appointed over Hell [cf. Cerberus]—it barks—הַב הַב hav hav, as written: The leech has two daughters, הַב הַב [hav hav] ‘give’ and ‘give’ (ibid. 30:15). It wishes to burn the soul that was made unclean with its fire in Hell. That is what is meant by: Then a spirit of jealousy may come over him and he will be jealous—truthfully; with her being defiled.

And for her, it was said, should a priest’s daughter—Michael [who denotes Ḥesed, the soul is his daughter]. When she degrades herself whoring, she has degraded her father, in fire shall she be burned (Leviticus 21:9). There the filth is destroyed and she purifies herself of it, just as silver that purifies in fire and lead, which is the refuse, is burnt, becomes ash and is lost.

It is the same with the children of Israel. When they desecrate Torah, the blessed Holy One sends them into exile among the children of Esau and the children of Ishmael under their servitude, whose rank is of the dog and a serpent, and they are punished there. Through them, they become cleared and purified and refined like the refinement of silver and the trying of gold. This is what is said: And I will refine them as silver is refined, and will test them as gold is tested (Zechariah 13:9) until it will hold true of them: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).

It is written of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: And YHWH showed him a tree, and he flung it into the water, and the water turned sweet [Exodus 15:25]. Since the children of Israel were with the motley throng, they were all of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Therefore, it is half sweet from the right and half bitter from the left. When the motley throng caused the children of Israel to sin, it was as if all were on the Other Side. Consequently, the waters returned to their bitter state like the tree in the water. This is what is meant by and they came to Marah, and could not drink water from Marah, for it was bitter [Exodus 15:23]. The bitter tree was similar to the test of a סוֹטָה [sotah] suspected wife. If she indeed strayed from her husband, the waters which she was made to drink turned bitter, and because of them her belly will swell, and her thigh sag [Numbers 5:27]. If she did not stray, it is written she will be cleared, and sown with seed [ibid.28] and give birth to a son. Here too, the waters were made sweet.

In the same manner, Israel will be tested in the last redemption. Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white [Daniel 12:10]—those who are from the good side and who pass the test. But the wicked shall do wickedly [ibid.]—because they are from the Other Side and by them shall be fulfilled: Neither shall they enter into the Land of Israel [Ezekiel 13:9], and He kills them.

But the wise shall understand [Daniel 12:10], since they are from the side of Binah, understanding, which is the Tree of Life. For them, it was said they who are wise shall shine like the Zohar, brightness, in the firmament [ibid. 3] with your composition [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai] which is the book of Zohar, from the light of Supernal Mother [called] Repentance [lit., Returning]. They do not require a test and, because the children of Israel in the future will taste from the Tree of Life, which is this book of Zohar, they will leave the exile with Compassion. It will hold true about them YHWH alone did lead him, no alien God by His side [Deuteronomy 32:12].

The Tree of the Knowledge, good and evil, prohibition or permission, purity or impurity, will no longer apply to the children of Israel, since our sustenance will be solely from the side of the Tree of Life, where there are no contradictions stemming from the Other Side, nor any strife nor difference stemming from the unclean spirit, as is written And also I will cause… the unclean spirit to pass out of the land [Zechariah 13:2].

The Torah scholars will not need to be sustained by the ignorant, just from the good side by eating of the clean, kosher and permissible. They will not need to get it from the motley throng, who eat the unclean, unfit and prohibited, and who are themselves defiled by defiling themselves with a woman in menstruation, a slave-girl, a gentile woman or a prostitute. They are the children of Lilith, who is a menstruant, a slave-girl, a gentile woman and a prostitute, and they return to their roots. About them, it is written: For out of the serpent’s root shall come forth an adder (Isaiah 14:29).

During the period that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil dominates, which pertains to the purity and impurity of worldly things, these sages—who are similar to the Sabbaths and holidays in that they have only what is given to them by the worldly—are like the Sabbath which has nothing except what was prepared for it during the weekdays.

During the time that the Tree of Life dominates, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is subdued. Commoners will not have anything except for what Torah scholars hand out to them and they will become subdued like never before.

Thus, prohibition and permission, purity and impurity will not pass away from the commoners. From their aspect, there will be no apparent difference between the exile and the days of Messiah, except for the oppression of Israel by other kingdoms alone [BT Berakhot 34b], because they will not taste from the Tree of Life and they will need to learn [Mishnah] about what is prohibited and permissible, what is unclean and clean. They will be shamed in front of a Torah scholar like darkness before light, since the motley throng are like beasts, who are ignorant, who are darkness and were not even called Israel, just slaves sold to Israel, as was already explained.

Israel are called אָדָם [adam] human. How do we know that the children of [Israel] are composed of both beast and man? It is written: And you My flock, the flock of My pasture, are אָדָם [adam] men (Ezekiel 34:31). And you My flock, the flock of My pasture—those who are ignorant of Torah but are good and stem from the good side. Are אָדָם [adam] man—Torah scholars.

It is also alluded to in, If My people would but heed Me, if Israel would go in My ways (Psalms 81:14). After mentioning My people, why say Israel? Because My people refers to commoners and Israel alludes to Torah scholars. For them, it is mentioned: The sons of Israel going out with a high hand (Exodus 14:8).

As the blessed Holy One divided them at Mount Sinai, so He will differentiate them at the last redemption, because it says of Israel: And the sons of Israel went up חֲמֻשִׁים [ḥamushim] armed, from the land of Egypt (Exodus 13:18). חֲמֻשִׁים [ḥamushim] armed—from the side of the Tree of Life [Ze’eir Anpin] which are the חֲמִישִׁים [ḥamishim] fifty, years of Jubilee [Binah]. About them, it says, Whosoever touches the mountain (Exodus 19:13); And the messenger of God that was going before the camp of Israel moved and went behind them (Exodus 14:19). And, I bore you on the wings of eagles (Exodus 19:4)—clouds of glory, and brought you to Me (ibid.).  The sons of Israel going out with a high hand (Exodus 14:8)—so He will bring out the Torah scholars with all that honor.

It is mentioned by those who are ignorant of Torah yet are of the good side: And they stationed themselves at the bottom of [lit., under] the mountain (Exodus 19:17)—so will they be at the last redemption, under Torah scholars, like a slave that follows along the horse’s footsteps of his lord. Just as it was called out to them under the mountain: ‘If you accept Torah, it is better, but if not, there will be your burial place [BT Shabbat 88a],’ so He will tell them at the last redemption, ‘If you will accept upon yourselves a Torah scholar during the redemption from the exile, like a horse rider with his attendant servant, it is best, and if not, there in exile shall be your burial.

The motley throng are as it is written of them: And the people saw and they drew back and stood at a distance (Exodus 20:18). They will be far from the redemption and they will watch the Torah scholars and the holy nation in all this glory, but they will be far from them. If they wish to join with them, it is written: No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or be shot (Exodus 19:13). During that period, it will come true for Israel: YHWH alone did lead him, no alien God by His side (Deuteronomy 32:12). It was already explained that no new converts will be accepted during the days of Messiah. [The steps of His faithful He watches,] and the wicked in darkness turn dumb (1 Samuel 2:9)—the motley throng. Therefore, the prophet proclaimed about them: Neither shall they enter into the land of Israel (Ezekiel 13:9).

Elijah said: Faithful Shepherd [Moses], it is time to rise up. You intone a solemn oath. For your sake, I wish to rise, since the blessed Holy One, gave me permission to reveal myself to you in your prison, in your place of burial, and do you good because you are desecrated through the sins of the people, and this is the meaning of: But he was wounded for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5).

The Faithful Shepherd [Moses] said to him: I intone on you solemnly the name of יהוה that you will do your utmost not to delay since I am in great distress: And he turned this way and that and saw that there was no man about (Exodus 2:12)—to help me, to take me out of this distress, from this grave, since it says about me, And he made his grave with the wicked (Isaiah 53:9). They do not recognize me but regard me as one of the evil motley throng, like a dead dog that has caused a stench among them. The wisdom of the scribes shall become vapid among them in each and every city [see BT Sotah 49], and in all places where Israel are scattered throughout their kingdoms. The motley throng become the shepherds of Israel, who are the flock of the blessed Holy One, as it is said about them: And you My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, [and I am your God, says YHWH God] (Ezekiel 34:31). And they have no ability to do good with Torah scholars.

Courageous and sin-fearing men go about from one city to another and find no grace, and the motley throng excommunicate them from among them. In many places, they are only given a meager sum so they are unable to rise from their fall, even temporarily. All the sages, able men and those who fear sin in distress and gloom and are treated like dogs [cf. BT Sotah 49b]. The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter! (Lamentations 4:2), in the streets, unable to find accommodation among them. Meanwhile the motley throng are wealthy, live in peace, in happiness, without pain, without any sorrow, robbers, bribe takers, who are the judges, the elite of their people, for the earth is filled with outrage by them (Genesis 6:13). About them, it is written: Her adversaries have become the chief (Lamentations 1:5). [The Faithful Shepherd, Moses, said to Elijah:] With a solemn oath on you, the second time, upon the life, and name, of YHWH of Hosts, the God of Israel, who is enthroned upon the cherubs, that all these words will not fail from your mouth; with all your might, tell them before the blessed Holy One to show their distress” (Zohar 3:124b, Ra’aya Meheimna Naso).


The Seventy-two Letter Name


Tomorrow is the שַׁבָּת שִׁירָה (Shabbat Shirah) Sabbath of Song, when the Israelites, after the splitting of the Reed Sea, sang the Song of the Sea.

Originally posted on The Nut Garden:

Sefer Ha-Zohar p.176-7“What is the meaning of May יהוה bless you and guard you. May יהוה light up His face to you and grant grace to you; May יהוה lift up His face to you and give you peace [Numbers 6:24-6]. This is the explicit Name of the blessed Holy One. It is the name containing twelve letters, as it is written יהוה יהוה יהוה. This teaches us that God’s names consist of three troops. Each troop resembles the other, and each one’s name is like those named. All of them are sealed with יהוה. And how? יהוה can be permuted twenty-four different ways, forming one troop. This is May יהוה … In a similar manner, the second one May יהוה light up His face… These are twenty-four names of the blessed Holy One. In a similar manner, the third one, May יהוה lift up His face…  These are the twenty-four names…

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A Cure for the Soul: All a Wise Physician Needs to Care for the Sick

rav_ashlag_640x360He found him in the wilderness land, in the waste [Deuteronomy 32:10]. Such was written in the book of a physician called Qartana, and he used to write under this verse all the care a wise physician needs to take care of the sick in their bed which is like a prison of the King in which they [cannot] worship the Master of the Universe.

Since illnesses rest on him, he is placed in the King’s prison. You may say that since the blessed Holy One ordered to detain him in prison, one must not try for his sake [to cause him to repent]. This is not so, as David said, Happy who looks to the poor [Psalms 41:2]—that one who lies on his bed is poor. If he is a wise physician, the blessed Holy One blesses whoever strives for his sake.

He found him in the wilderness land—namely lying on his sickbed; in the waste of the howling desert—beset by illnesses. What should he do? He encircled him [ibid.]—to bring about reasons [and excuses] to withhold from him what is harmful to him, to let and take out of him the evil blood; gave mind to him [ibid.]—he should observe and understand the origin of the disease, and make sure the disease will not spread but diminish. Then, watched him like the apple of His eye [ibid.], so that he will be properly kept in regard to the elixirs and medicines he needs, and not get confused between them. For if he confuses even one thing the blessed the Holy One considers that doctor as if he shed blood and killed him.

For the blessed Holy One wishes it that although that person is in the King’s prison and is imprisoned there someone will make an effort for him and help him get out of prison. And he used to say: The blessed Holy One above sentences people in the world either to death, to be uprooted from the root, to be punished in property, or to be put in prison. Whoever is sentenced to a punishment regarding his property falls ill and is not healed until he pays whatever he was sentenced to. After being punished in his money and having given whatever he was sentenced to, he is healed and leaves prison. This is why one must persuade him to serve his penalty and leave prison.

Whoever is sentenced to uprooting, he is seized and put in prison until he is uprooted in every sense [until he and his children die]. Sometimes he is uprooted in limbs or in one of them. Whoever is sentenced to death, it so happens that he dies. And even if he gives as ransom all the money in the world, he cannot be saved.

A wise physician is therefore needed to make efforts for him. If he can administer bodily medicine, it is well. Otherwise, he should give him a cure for his soul, and strive for healing of the soul. The blessed Holy One will strive [to bless] such a physician in this world and in the world that is coming [until here the words of the book of the physician Qartana].

Rabbi El’azar said, ‘I have never heard until now of this doctor Qartana, and of this book, except once when a merchant told me he heard from his father that there used to be a doctor in his time, who, when he would look at a person in his bed, he would pronounce, this one shall live, that one shall die. They say about him that he was truly righteous and feared sin. Whatever the patient had to get but could not afford, he used to buy and give of his own. They say there was none as wise in the world as he. He used to do more in his prayer than what he would do with his hands. It seems to us it is the same doctor Qartana.’

That merchant said, ‘Surely his book is in my possession. I inherited it from my father’s father. All the subjects of that book were based on secrets of Torah. I have found in it hidden mysteries and many medical instructions, [of which] he said one may not use unless he is sin–fearing.

They come from what Balaam used to do. He used to whisper incantations over the disease and utter with his mouth, and he would be instantly healed. They are all explained in that book. He said that this one is forbidden for whoever fears sin and that one is permitted. For there are many diseases, he said, which medicine derives from whispering with the mouth. Some come from the aspect of enchantment and others from the aspect of divination. He stated all those it is forbidden to utter and forbidden to act. I even found what should be said in cases of certain diseases to eradicate the diseases, and this amazed us greatly.’

Rabbi El’azar rejoiced and so did the friends. Rabbi El’azar said, ‘If we have that book we will know what it says. And I shall deliver it, to show it to [my father] the Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on].’ We learned that Rabbi El’azar said, ‘That book was in my possession twelve months, and I have found in it supernal precious mysteries. When I reached the mysteries that came from Balaam I was amazed.

One day I made an incantation in a certain place and the letters went up and down, until I saw him in my dream telling me, It is not your business going into a field that is not your own; you do not need it. And I woke up. It was difficult for me, because it contained hidden mysteries. I sent it to that Jew, Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Yehudah by name, and gave him that book.

In the mysteries of Balaam I found some of the names of the angels Balak sent to him, but they were not properly arranged. But I have found different kinds of medicines in it based on the structures of Torah and its hidden mysteries, and saw they are founded on piety, prayers and petitions to the blessed Holy One. If you argue that he used to practice medicine using words of Torah or secrets of Torah, perish the thought, because it is forbidden to do so. But he would speak secrets of Torah, and based on that secret he would invent medical secrets such as I have never seen and I said, blessed is the Merciful Who made people wise with supernal wisdom.

From the words of Balaam I received, and saw from them that there was no one in the world as knowledgeable in witchcraft as he. I said, blessed is the Merciful, Who abolished witchcraft, so they will not mislead and remove people from fearing the blessed Holy One may His Name be exalted and blessed, amen. Blessed is YHWH forever amen and amen. May YHWH reign forever, amen and amen” (Zohar 3:145a-b).

“Rabbi Abba was traveling to Cappadocia, accompanied by Rabbi Yose. As they were going, they saw a man approaching who had a mark on his face. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Let us turn off the road, for this one’s face testifies to sexual licentiousness of the Torah, on account of which his face is stigmatized. Rabbi Yose said to him, ‘If he has had this mark since childhood, what licentiousness inheres in him? He replied, ‘I see in his face, which testifies to licentiousness of Torah. Rabbi Abba called to him, and said, ‘Tell me something. What is this mark on your face?’ He said to them, ‘I beg of you, don’t punish me any more than what my sins have brought upon me!’ Rabbi Abba said, ‘How is that?’ He replied, ‘One day I was travelling on the road—me and my sister. We stayed at an inn and I got drunk, and all that night I embraced my sister. In the morning I got up, and the innkeeper was quarreling with another man. I got between them and they grappled me, one from this side and one from that, and this wound penetrated my forehead [lit., brain]. I was saved by a certain doctor who was staying with us.’ He asked him, ‘Who was that doctor?’ He replied, ‘It was Rabbi Simlai.’ He said, ‘And what cure did he give you?’ He replied, ‘A cure for the soul. From that day on, I have engaged in teshuvah. And every day I look at my face in a mirror and I weep for that sin before the blessed Holy One, and with those tears I was my face [cf. Zohar 2:12b: There is no gate that those tears cannot enter].

Rabbi Abba said, ‘Were it not for your becoming deprived of teshuvah, I would remove that mark from your face. But I proclaim over you, Your iniquity is removed and your sin purged [Isaiah 6:7]. He said to him, ‘Rabbi say it three times!’ He said it three times and the mark disappeared. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Surely your Lord wished to remove it from you, for you were certainly engaged in teshuvah.’ He said to him, ‘I vow that from this day onward I will engage in Torah day and night.’ He asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘אֶלְעָזָר El’azar.’ He said, ‘Surely, the name was decisive, for אֵל עָזַר [El azar] God has helped, and assisted you [cf. Tanḥuma Ha’azinu 7: One should always be careful to choose for his child a name that denotes righteousness, for at times the name itself can be an influence for good or an influence for bad].’ Rabbi Abba sent him off with a blessing” (Zohar 3:75b-76a).

The Name Determines Destiny Entirely

Anthony Weiner

“The name determines destiny entirely” (Zohar 1:60a).

“From where do we know that a name proves decisive? Rabbi El’azar said, ‘For Scripture states: Go, gaze upon the acts of YHWH, Who has brought שַׁמּוֹת [shammot] desolations, on earth [Psalms 46:9]—do not read שַׁמּוֹת [shammot] desolations, but שֵׁמּוֹת [shemot] names’” (BT Berakhot 7b).

“Rabbi Yitsḥak said, ‘Four things tear up a person’s verdict: charity, crying out, change of name, and change of conduct” (BT Rosh ha-Shanah 16b).

“Names… with which people may be adorned and with which they may perform action in the world” (Zohar 2:223a).

“The name proves decisive, and the combination of letters with one another causes a phenomenon, either for good or for evil. Based upon this mystery is the permutation of letters of holy names, and letters themselves cause holy mysteries to appear—like the Holy Name, whose letters themselves cause holy mysteries to appear within them” (Zohar 2:179b-180a).

“We have said that everything that the blessed Holy One brought into His world is a name from עִנְיָינוֹ its concept. Concerning this it is written, And whatever the human called a living creature, that was its name [Genesis 2:19]. That is to say its body was so. And how do we know that its name is its body? As it is written: The memory of the righteous is for a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot [Proverbs 10:7] – what rots, his name or his body!? Here too, its body. What is an example of this? שׁוֹרֶשׁ [shoresh] root – the letter ש [shin] looks like the roots of a tree, and the root of every tree is bent [thus the ר (reish) is bent]” (Bahir §80-1).

“Concerning former ones it is said: The memory of the righteous is for a blessing [Proverbs 10:7], with regard to Ben Kamzar and his like it is said: But the name of the wicked will rot [ibid.]—Rabbi El’azar said: Rottenness enters their names, none name their children after them.

Rabina raised an objection: The story of דֹּאֵג Doeg [lit., worry], son of Joseph whom his father left to his mother when he was a young child [this Doeg was named so in spite of Doeg the Edomite who was responsible for the deaths of a large number of priests, see 1 Samuel 21-22, cf. Psalms 52]: Every day his mother would measure him by handbreadths and would give his [extra] weight in gold to the Sanctuary. But when the enemy prevailed, she slaughtered him and ate him [cf. Leviticus 26:29], and concerning her Jeremiah lamented: Shall the women eat their fruit, the children of their tender care? [Lamentations 2:20, cf. ibid. 4:10]. Whereupon the Holy Spirit replied: Shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of YHWH? [ibid.]—see what happened to him! [normally, none would name their child after a wicked person, because of a bad omen, or because one should help the name of the wicked to rot by being forgotten; look what this deviation from custom brought upon the child]” (BT Yoma 38b).

“Once Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Judah and Rabbi Yose were on a journey together. Now Rabbi Meir deduced from names but Rabbi Judah and Rabbi Yose did not deduce from names. They came to a certain place and looked for lodging, and as they were given it, they said to him [the innkeeper]: What is your name?—He replied: Kidor. Then he [Rabbi Meir] said: From this it is evident that he is a wicked man, for it is said: כִּי דוֹר תַּהְפֻּכֹת [kidor tahpukhotfor a wayward brood are they, (children with no trust in them) [Deuteronomy 32:20]. Rabbi Judah and Rabbi Yose entrusted their purses to him [since the Sabbath was approaching]; Rabbi Meir did not entrust his purse to him, but went and placed it on the grave of that man’s father. Thereupon the man had a vision in his dream [saying]: Go, take the purse lying at the head of this man! In the morning he [the innkeeper] told them about it, saying: This is what appeared to me in my dream. They replied to him: There is no substance in the dream of the Sabbath night. Rabbi Meir went, waited there all day, and then took the purse with him. In the morning they [the rabbis] said to him: ‘Give us our purses.’ He said: There never was such a thing! Rabbi Meir then said to them: Why don’t you deduce from names? They said: Why have you not told this [before]. He answered: consider this but a suspicion. I would not consider that a definite presumption!

Thereupon they took him [the innkeeper] into a shop and gave him wine to drink. Then they saw lentils on his moustache. They went to his wife and gave her that as a sign, and thus obtained their purses and took them back [telling her that her husband had sent them for the purses and giving her as a proof the fact that lentils had been the last meal in her house]. Whereupon he went and killed his wife… At the end they, too, paid close attention to people’s names. And when they called to a house whose [owner’s] name was בָּלָה Balah, they would not enter, saying: He seems to be a wicked man, as it is written: Then said I לַבָּלָה [la-balah] to her, that was old in adulteries, (Will they now commit prostitutions with her, and she with them?) [Ezekiel 23:43]” (BT Yoma 83b).

Holding in Their Hand that Reptile

e629095fe779d8fd0314b47f4ab37df8“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Woe to human beings who do not know, consider, or see! They are all obtuse, unaware how full the world is of strange, invisible creatures, of hidden things. If the eye were empowered to see, humans would be amazed how they themselves can endure.

Come and see: This Na’amah was mother of demons. From her side issue all those inflamed by human beings, absorbing their spirit of lust, titillating them, turning them into casualties of ejaculation. Since such a casualty derives from the side of impure spirit, he must bathe to purify himself, as established by the Companions” (Zohar 1:55a, cf. Deuteronomy 23:11, BT Berakhot 6a).

“Rabbi Yitsḥak was in the presence of Rabbi Shim’on. He asked him: This verse, And the earth was corrupt before God [Genesis 6:11]—given that humans sinned, but how did the earth [do so]? He replied: Since it is written, for all flesh had corrupted their way (upon earth) [ibid., 12], as has been said. Similarly, The earth was defiled, and I inflicted her punishment upon her [Leviticus 18:25]. It was human beings who sinned. But if you ask, ‘How did earth [sin]?’ the answer is: Human beings constitute the essence of earth—they ruin earth, and it is ruined. The verse proves it, as is written: God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth [Genesis, ibid.].

Come and see: All sins of a human being are entirely his ruination, yet are susceptible to return [i.e., may be atoned by repentance]; but the sin of spilling seed, wasting his way, emitting seed upon earth, ruining both himself and the earth—of this is written: stained is your iniquity before Me [Jeremiah 2:22]. Similarly, You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil cannot abide with you [Psalms 5:5], except through great returning. Similarly, Er, firstborn of Judah, was evil in the eyes of YHWH; and YHWH slew him [Genesis 38:7]. This has already been explained.

Rabbi Yehudah asked: Why did the blessed Holy One punish the world with water, and not with fire or some other element? He [Rabbi Shim’on] replied: It is a mystery! For they wasted their ways, so that the upper waters and lower waters failed to unite fittingly [in the flood, where the upper and lower waters united joined together and destroyed the world]; so did they ruin their ways, male and female waters. So they were punished by water, just like they sinned. The water was boiling, peeling off their skin, just as they wasted their ways with boiling water. A fitting punishment, as is written: All the springs of the great abyss burst forth [ibid. 8:2]—lower waters; and the sluices of heaven opened [ibid.]—upper waters. Upper and lower waters” (Zohar 1:61b-62a).

What he did was evil in the eyes of YHWH [Genesis 38:10]. Rabbi Ḥiyya opened, In the morning sow your seed… [Ecclesiastes 11:6]. Come and see how greatly a person should beware his sins and be heedful in his actions before the blessed Holy One! For numerous messengers and officials populate the world, roaming around, observing human actions and testifying about them, all recorded in a book [see M Avot 2:1].

Come and see: Of all the sins by which a person is defiled in this world, this is the sin by which he is defiled both in this world and the world that is coming: spilling one’s seed fruitlessly [cf. BT Niddah 13a-b]—emitting seed in vain by hand or foot, and becoming defiled, as is written: For You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil cannot abide with You [Psalms 5:5]. He does not enter the curtain nor gaze upon the Countenance of Days, as we have learned, for it is written: Evil cannot abide with You, and similarly: Er, Judah’s firstborn,was evil [Genesis 38:7]. Therefore, Your hands are full of blood [Isaiah 1:15]. Happy is the share of a person in awe of his Lord, guarded from the evil path, purifying himself to persevere in the awe of his Lord!

Come and see: In the morning sow your seed. This verse has been established: in the morning—when a man is in his prime, in his youth; then he should strive to engender children, as is written: sow your seed. Then is the time, as is written: Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth [Psalms 127:4], since he can teach them the ways of the blessed Holy One and obtain a fine reward in the world that is coming, as is written: Happy is the man who fills his quiver with them; they will not be put to shame… [ibid.,5]—in that world, when masters of judgment come to accuse him; for you cannot find a better reward in that world than one who has taught his child the awe of his Lord and the ways of Torah.

Come and see from Abraham, of whom is written For I have known him, so that he will instruct his children… [Genesis 18:19]. So the merit stands him well in that world against all masters of judgment; therefore, In the morning sow your seed. And at evening—even in old age, a time when a person wanes, what is written? Do not hold back your hand—one should not forsake engendering in this world. Why? For you do not know which will prosper… [Ecclesiastes, ibid.], so that they can stand up for him in that world. Therefore, Children are the heritage of YHWH [Psalms 127:3]. Who is heritage of YHWH? Bundle of the soul [Shekhinah], aspect of the world that is coming. As for this heritage, who entitles one to enter the heritage of YHWH? Children—those children entitle him to the heritage of YHWH. So, happy is the person who attains them and teaches them the ways of Torah, as has been said ” (Zohar 1:188a).

“It happened once that Rabbi Shim’on son of Gamliel was standing on a step on the Temple mount and saw a very beautiful Gentile woman. He exclaimed, ‘How great are Your works, O YHWH!’ [Psalms 104:24]” (BT Avodah Zarah 20a).

“And we have learned: A man is forbidden to gaze at the beauty of a woman, so that he not have evil fantasies and be uprooted to something else.

This is how Rabbi Shim’on acted when he was walking through town, followed by the Companions, and they saw beautiful women. He would lower his eyes and say to the Companions, ‘Do not turn to idols [Leviticus 19:4].’ For whoever gazes at a woman’s beauty during the day will have fantasies at night; and if they overwhelm him, he transgresses Do not make molten gods for yourselves [ibid.]. Furthermore, if he has intercourse with his wife while those evil imaginings arise within him, the children they engender are called molten gods.

Do not turn to idols. Rabbi abba said, ‘A person is forbidden to look at idols of the nations or to derive benefit from them—all the more so, to look at a place that should not be seen” (Zohar 3:83b-84a).

“The secret of secrets: From the strength of the noon-flame of Isaac, from the dregs of wine, a naked shoot came forth, comprising together male and female, red like a lily, and they spread out on several sides, down several paths. The male is called Samael, and his female is always included with him. Just as on the side of holiness there are male and female, so on the other side there are male and female, included one with the other. The female of Samael is called ‘serpent,’ ‘a wife of harlotry,’ ‘the end of all flesh,’ ‘the end of days.’

Two evil spirits are attached to one another. The male spirit is fine, the female spirit spreads out down several ways and paths, and is attached to the male spirit. She dresses herself in finery like an abominable harlot and stands at the corners of streets and highways in order to attract men. When a fool approaches her, she embraces him and kisses him, and mixes her dregs of wine with snake poison for him. Once he has drunk, he turns aside after her. When she sees that he has turned aside after her from the way of truth, she takes off all the finery that she had put on for the sake of this fool. This is the finery that she uses to seduce mankind: her hair is long, red like a lily; her face is white and pink; six pendants hang at her ears; her bed is made of Egyptian flax; all the ornaments of the East encircle her neck; her mouth is shaped like a tiny door, beautified with cosmetic; her tongue is sharp like a sword; her words smooth as oil; her lips beautiful, red as a lily, sweetened with all the sweetnesses in the world; she is dressed in purple, and attired in thirty-nine items of finery.

This fool turns aside after her, and drinks from the cup of wine, and commits harlotry with her, completely enamored of her. What does she do? She leaves him asleep on the bed and ascends to the realms above, accuses him, obtains authority, and descends. The fool wakes up, thinking to sport with her as before, but she takes off her finery, and turns into a fierce warrior, facing him in a garment of flaming fire, a vision of dread, terrifying both body and soul, full of horrific eyes, a sharpened sword in his hand with drops of poison suspended and dripping from it. He kills the fool, and throws him into Hell” (Zohar  1:148a-b, Sitrei Torah, cf. Zohar 2:163a-b; 3:19a, 76b-77a).

“The Queen does not dwell in one’s כֹּחַ [koaḥ] power, the twenty-eight finger joints, until all the filth of the wicked, unfit slave-girl, wife to the unfit, is removed. Therefore, the sages of Mishnah explained that ‘dirty hands are unfit to make a blessing’ [cf. BT Berakhot 53b]. This water is for cleansing the hand upon which the hand of YHWH rests. The hand of YHWH is the 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 slave-girl, 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” (Ra’aya Meheimna Eqev).


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