The Nut Garden

Gleanings of Zohar

Ten White Radiancies, Ten Sefirot: These Above Those

Add. 27006“Ten סְפִירוּת בְּלִי מָה (sefirot belimah), numerals of nothingness. Their measure is ten, yet infinite” (Sefer Yetsirah 1:1).

You shall surely tithe all the yield of your seed that comes out in the field year after year (Deuteronomy 14:22)—at all times you must reckon each of the rungs, ‘Ten and not nine, ten and not eleven’ (Sefer Yetsirah 1:4). Another explanation: עַשֵּׂר תְּעַשֵּׂר (Aser ta’aser), You shall surely tithe [lit., tithe you will tithe]. Why two times? Because here there is a deep and hidden mystery which the mouth cannot speak nor the ear hear. You already know that tithe alludes to ten lower [sefirot]. Until here I have permission to explain. If you are one of the enlightened, you will understand this great mystery with your fullest intellectual capacity and will surely not let it out of your mouth: Here below we give our tithes according to the supernal model—so that man imitate his Creator” (Rabbi David ben Yehudah ha-Ḥasid, The Book of Mirrors, 236:29-237:3, adapted from Matt, Sefer Mar’ot Ha-Zove’ot, p. 26, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 31a-b).

The things hidden are for YHWH our God and things revealed for us and for our children forever (Deuteronomy 29:28). Understand this verse by its inner sense, deep and sealed though it may be. From YHWH—the Cause of Causes, for all proclaim that they are His; each of the עֶשֶׂר צַחְצָחוֹת (eser tsaḥtsaḥot), ten white radiancies, that comprise אֲרִיך אַנְפִּין (Arikh Anpin), Elongated Countenance, form ten inner rungs. And for our children—ten that parallel ten rungs within supernal Keter who are not revealed but remain concealed and hidden, imperceptible to the inquirer. For they belong to the Cause of Causes, blessed be the glory of His name and His majesty forever. Therefore, the enlightened will understand and will remain silent for God, and he alone will see wonders from the holy Torah He gave us from His very own treasury” (Rabbi David ben Yehudah ha-Ḥasid, The Book of Mirrors, 252, adapted from Idel, “The Image of Man Above the Sefirot: R. David ben Yehuda he-Ḥasid’s theosophy of ten supernal ‘ṣaḥṣaḥot’ and its reverberations.” Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 20 [2009] p. 181-212).

“Come and see: How many hidden causes are enclothed and conveyed by the sefirot! The sefirot are but chariots to them, for they are concealed from human thought. Of them is written: For he who is high has a higher one watching him, and still higher ones over them (Ecclesiastes 5:7)—נְהוֹרִין מְצוּחְצָחִין (nehorin metsuḥtsaḥin), glaring white lights, these above those, but those that are receptacles are darkness compared to the others above them. And their is no light that can exist before עִלַּת הָעִלּוֹת (Illat ha-Illot), the Cause of Causes, all lights are darkened before Him” (Zohar 1:23a, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

Your wonder known in the darkness, Your bounty in the land of נְשִׁיָּה (neshiyah), oblivion (Psalms 88:13).

“בֶּן-מְנַשֶּׁה (Ben Menasheh), son of Manasseh (Numbers 27:1)—the Cause of Causes who is called מְנַשֶּׁה (Menasheh), Forgetting. Why is the Cause of Causes called Forgetting? Because He is a place to which forgetting and נִשָׁיוֹן (nishayon), oblivion, pertain, as in the expression כִּי-נַשַּׁנִי אֱלֹהִים (ki nashani Elohim), For God has made me forget (Genesis 41:51).

Why? Because concerning all the rungs and causes one should search for their reality from the depth of supernal Ḥokhmah. From there it is possible to understand one thing from another. However, concerning the Cause of Causes there are no sides anywhere to search, to probe; nothing can be known of Him; for He is hidden and concealed in the mystery of הַאַיִן וְהַאֶפֶס (ha-Ayin ve-ha-Efes), Nothingness and Naught.

Therefore forgetting pertains to Him, as regards comprehension of this place. So open your eyes and see this great and awesome mystery. Happy is he whose eyes shine from this mystery, in this world and the world that is coming” (Rabbi David ben Yehudah ha-Ḥasid, The Book of Mirrors, 227:15-23, translated in Matt, Sefer Mar’ot Ha-Zove’ot, p. 21-22).

He is Sleeping Among His People: The Blessed Holy One did not Exile Israel among the Peoples except that Converts be Added to Them

And Haman said to King Ahasuerus: ‘There is a certain people scattered and separate from the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom, and their rules are different from every people’s and they do not observe the king’s rules, and it does not pay for the king to leave them in peace. If it please the king, let it be written to wipe them out, and ten thousand talents of silver will I measure out to the court overseers to bring into the king’s treasury.’ And the king removed his ring from his hand and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, foe of the Jews (Esther 3:8-9, cf. Exodus 1:8).

“Just as oil will not mix with other liquids, so Israel do not mix with the other peoples of the world, as is written, You shall not intermarry with them (Deuteronomy 7:3)” (Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 1:21).

“[However,] Rabbi El’azar said: The blessed Holy One did not scatter Israel among the peoples except that converts be added to them, for it is said: And I will sow her [Israel] for Myself in the earth (Hosea 2:25); surely a man sows a se’ah in order to harvest many korin! And from this Rabbi Yoḥanan said: and I will have compassion upon her that had not obtained compassion [and I will say to them who were not My people, you are My people; and they shall say, You are my God] (ibid.)” (BT Pesaḥim 87b).

And Haman said to King Aheshurues: יֶשְׁנוֹ עַם-אֶחָד (Yeshno am ead), there is one people (Esther 3:8), the very same of whom it is said, [Hear, O Israel! YHWH our God, YHWH is] אֶחָד (ead), One (Deuteronomy 6:4)—יָשֵׁן לוֹ מֵעַמּוֹ (yashen lo me-amo), He is sleeping despite [or: among] His people” (Ester Rabbah 7:12, cf. BT Megillah 15b; Abba Guryon 5; Leqaḥ Tov 3:11, 5:14; Aggadat Ester 4:1, 17).

That night the king could not sleep [lit., the sleep of the king was shaken] (Esther 6:1). The heavens, the throne of the King of the King of Kings, the blessed Holy One, were shaken when He saw Israel in such distress. But is there sleep before הַמָּקוֹם (ha-maqom), the Omnipresent?! Is it not said, Behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalms 121:4)? Rather, in a time when Israel is in distress and the peoples of the world are at peace, it says, Awake, why sleep, O Master! (Psalms 44:24) [cf. BT Ḥullin 139b]. King Ahasuerus’ sleep was also disturbed, because he saw in a dream Haman seizing a sword to kill him, and he awoke in terror from his sleep and told his scribes to bring [the royal annals] the Book of Acts to see what events had occurred, and they opened the book and found how Mordecai had informed against Bigthan and Teresh. So when they said to the king, Look, Haman is standing in the court (Esther 6:5), the king said: ‘What I saw in my dream is true; he has only come at this time of day to kill me'” (Ester Rabbah 10:1).

“[Preparing to impale Mordecai] Haman went about looking for a stake fifty cubits long, but could not find any, save that was in his house, which Parshandatha his son had brought from Kedronia, which is Kerdos. Because Haman’s son was ruler there; and there he saw the stake, which was from Noah’s ark. And Haman uprooted it from his house, so that the curse of Darius might be fulfilled in him, as is written, [Also I have made a decree, that] whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be impaled (Ezra 6:11). And this word found favor with Haman, and he prepared a gallows for himself; he erected it and perfected it. A heavenly voice called out saying, ‘How proper and fitting is this gallows for you.’

That night [the king could not sleep…] (Esther 6:1): On that night sleep [deserted] the carpenters who were preparing the gallows for Haman. On that night sleep deserted the smiths who were preparing the nails to be set in the gallows. On that night sleep deserted the King of Kings. Were in not written, one would dare not say it, as is written: Awake, why sleep, O Master! (Psalms 44:24); And the Master awoke as one sleeping, [like a warrior shaking off wine] (Psalms 78:65). On that very night the blessed Holy One was revealed. [And they impaled Haman on the stake that he had readied for Mordecai, and the king’s wrath subsided (Esther 7:10). On the contrary, it was the Jews who dominated their foes (ibid. 9:1)]” (Targum Esther, see Kasher and Klein, New Fragments of Targum to Esther, p. 154-55).

“Secrecy within secrecy was prepared and arranged in a single skull filled with crystalline dew. Membrane of air, purified and sealed; those strands of clean fleece hanging evenly. Will of Wills is revealed through prayer of those below. Open-eyed watching, never sleeping, ever vigilant; supervision below by supervision of radiance above. Two nostrils of an official arousing breath for all [as a nose supervising commandingly]” (Zohar 2:176b, Sifra di-Tsni’uta).

“Eyes of the White Head are different from other eyes. There is no lid over the eye, nor any eyebrows. Why? Because it is written: Behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps, the Guardian of Israel (Psalms 121:4)—Israel above. And it is written: that Your eyes may be open (1 Kings 8:52). And it has been taught: Whatever comes in Compassion has no lid over the eye, nor any eyebrows. All the more so, the White Head, which has no need.

Rabbi Shim’on said to Abba, ‘To what does this allude?’ He replied, ‘To fish, fish of the sea, whose eyes have neither lids nor brows, and they do not sleep and need no protection for the eye. All the more so, the Ancient of Ancients—who needs no protection; and all the more so, since He watches over all, and all is nourished by Him, and He does not sleep, as is written: Behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps, the Guardian of Israel—Israel above.

It is written: Behold, the eye of YHWH is upon those who revere Him (Psalms 33:18), and it is written: The eyes of YHWH range over the whole earth (Zechariah 4:10). There is no contradiction. One refers to זְעֵיר אַנפִּין (Ze’eir Anpin), Small Countenance, and the other to אֲרִיך אַנְפִּין (Arikh Anpin), Elongated Countenance. Nevertheless, there are two eyes, turning into one. This eye is white within white, and a white including all whites” (Zohar 3:129b, Idra Rabba, cf. Zohar 3:137b-138a, Idra Rabba).

He who Pronounces the Name shall be Doomed to Die

Should your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or your daughter or the wife of your bosom or your companion who is like your own self incite you in secret, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” that you did not know, neither you nor your fathers… you shall not spare him and you shall not pity him and shall not shield him. But you shall surely kill him (Deuteronomy 13:7-10).

“On the eve of the Passover Jesus the Nazarene was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!—Ulla retorted: ‘Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defence could be made? Was he not an enticer concerning whom Scripture says, you shall not pity him and shall not shield him? (Deuteronomy 13:9). With Jesus however it was different, for he was connected with the government'” (BT Sanhedrin 43a, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 69, 97a).

“Our Rabbis taught: Let the left hand repulse but the right hand always invite back… What of Rabbi Yehoshua son of Peraḥiah?—When King Yannai [Hyrcanus] slew our Rabbis, Rabbi Yehoshua son of Peraḥiah and Jesus fled to Alexandria of Egypt. On the resumption of peace, Shim’on son of Shetaḥ sent to him: ‘From me, [Jerusalem] the holy city, to you, Alexandria of Egypt [my sister]. My husband dwells within you and I am desolate.’ He arose, went, and found himself in a certain inn, where great honour was shown him. ‘How beautiful is this אַכְסַנִיָא (aḥsania)!’ [the word denotes both ‘inn’ and ‘innkeeper.’ Rabbi Yehoshua used it in the first sense; the answer assumes the second to be meant]. Thereupon [Jesus] observed, ‘Rabbi, her eyes are narrow.’ ‘Wretch this is how you engage yourself?’ He sounded four hundred trumpets and excommunicated him. He came before him many times pleading, ‘Receive me!’ But he would pay no heed to him. One day he was reciting the Shema, when Jesus came before him. He intended to receive him and made a sign to him [cf. M Berakhot 5:1: ‘Even if a snake is wound round his heel he should not interrupt’]. He [Jesus] thinking that it was to repel him, went, put up a brick, and worshipped it. ‘Repent,’ he said to him. He replied, ‘I have thus learned from you: He who sins and causes others to sin is not afforded the means of repentance.’ And a master has said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene practised magic and led Israel astray'” (BT Sanhedrin 107b).

“Ten kabs of witchcraft descended to the world: nine were taken by Egypt and one by the rest of the world” (BT Qiddushin 49b).

“The son of Stada brought forth witchcraft from Egypt by means of scratches [in the form of charms] upon his flesh… Was he then the son of Stada: surely he was the son of Pandira?—Rav Ḥisda said: The husband was Stada, the lover was Pandira. But the husband was Pappos son of Yehudah?—His mother was סְטָדָא (Stadtha). But his mother was Miriam the hairdresser?—it is as we say in Pumbedita: This one has סָטָת דָּא (satath da), veered, from her husband” (BT Shabbat 104b, cf. BT Sanhedrin 67a).

“Rabbi Shim’on the Devout said: ‘There are 974 generations who pressed themselves forward to be created before the world was created, but were not created: the blessed Holy One arose and planted them in each and every generation, and it is they who are the impudent of the generation” (BT Ḥagigah 13b).

And the son of an Israelite woman, he being the son of an Egyptian man, went out among the Children of Israel, and the son of the Israelite woman and a certain Israelite man brawled in the camp [and the son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name, vilifying it… וְנֹקֵב שֵׁם-יְהוָה מוֹת יוּמָת And he who pronounces YHWH’s name shall be doomed to dieיֵשׁוּ (Yeshu), Jesus] (Leviticus 24:10-11; 16).

[And the son of an Israelite woman…] went out. Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘He went out from the sphere of all, he went out from the sphere of faith, and he went out from the sphere of the share of Israel. ‘Brawled in the camp—from here we learn: Whoever comes from polluted seed eventually exposes if before all. What causes this? Filth of the evil portion within him, for he has no share in the entire sphere of Israel.

Rabbi Ḥiyya opened, ‘It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, the glory of kings, to probe a matter (Proverbs 25:2). It is the glory of God to conceal a matter—for a human is not permitted to divulge hidden matters not intended to be revealed, things covered by the Ancient of Days, as is said: that they may eat their fill and cover themselves elegantly (Isaiah 23:18). That they may eat their fill—until that place permitted to you, no farther. Nevertheless, and cover themselves עָתִיק (athiq), elegantly—and cover עָתִּיק (attiq), the Ancient One, surely!

Alternatively, that they may eat their fill—the Companions who know ways and paths, to walk in the way of faith fittingly, such as the generation in which Rabbi Shim’on dwells. And cover the Ancient One—from other generations, for none of them are worthy to eat their fill and to have matters revealed among them. Rather, cover the Ancient One—as is said: Do not let your mouth make your flesh sin (Ecclesiastes 5:5). In the days of Rabbi Shim’on, a person would say to his fellow, ‘Open your mouth and let your words shine!’ After he passed away, they would say, ‘Do not let your mouth make your flesh sin.’ In his days, to eat their fill; and after he passed away, and cover the Ancient One—for the Companions stammer and cannot comprehend.

Alternatively, to eat their fill—of those matters that are revealed. And cover the Ancient One—those matters that are covered.

The son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name (Leviticus 24:11). What is meant by וַיִּקֹּב (va-yiqqov), pronounced? Rabbi Abba said, ‘Va-yiqqov, Pierced, surely—as is said: וַיִּקֹּב (Va-yiqqov), He pierced, a hole in its door (2 Kings 12:10)—piercing what had been closed up.’

His mother’s name was Shelomith daughter of Dibri (Leviticus 24:11). Until here, Scripture concealed his mother’s name; once it is written וַיִּקֹּב (va-yiqqov), pierced, Scripture נָקִיב (neqeiv), designated, his mother’s name [as if to say, ‘נָקַב (naqav), Cursed, be the one who bore and raised a son such as this’]. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Were it not that the Holy Lamp exists in the world, I would not be permitted to reveal. From here on, this word is conveyed only to the Companions, who are among the Reapers of the Field. Contrarily, any who seek to reveal to those who do not know—may their spirit expire!

Come and see: It is written and the son of the Israelite woman and a certain Israelite man brawled in the camp (Leviticus 24:10). This verse has already been established; but this is the son of another wife of his father, husband of Shelomith. When that Egyptian copulated with [Shelomith] in the middle of the night, and [her husband] returned home and realized what had happened, he separated from her and no longer cohabited with her. He took another wife and engendered this one, called a certain Israelite man, whereas the other one is the son of the Israelite woman [cf. Vayiqra Rabbah 32:4: ‘He was definitely a bastard‘; Zohar 2:90b: ‘Rabbi Yitsḥak said, Honor your father—your father (Exodus 20:12), precisely, for look, one who covets a woman and engenders a child, that child will honor another who is not his father!’]. If they brawled with one another, what need is there here for the Holy Name, and why did he curse the Holy Name? Well, in the midst of fighting, that certain Israelite man said something about [the other one’s] mother. Immediately, וַיִּקּוֹב בֶּן הָאִשָּׁה הַיִּשְׂרְאֵלִית (va-yiqqov ben ha-ishah ha-yisre’elit), the son of the Israelite woman pierced—as is said: (Va-yiqqov), He pierced, a hole in its door (2 Kings 12:10). Mystery of the matter: He took the ה״ (he) of the Holy Name [יהוה (YHWH)] and cursed, to defend his mother. This is piercing, for he pierced the Holy Name. This is uttered for the Reapers of the Field. Mystery of the matter: Such is the way of an adulteress: [she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wrong’] (Proverbs 30:20). Happy is the share of the righteous, who know the matter and conceal it! Thus it is said Have your quarrel with your neighbor, but another’s secret do not reveal (ibid 25:9).

The final ה״ (he) [of יהוה (YHWH)] was the Female, suckling on two sides. Consequently, She took the weapons of the King to wreak Her vengeance. Take out the one who cursed (Leviticus 24:14). Thus it is written Every man shall revere his mother and his father (ibid. 19:3), reverence for one’s mother preceding that of one’s father. Happy are Israel in this world and in the world that is coming!

Alternatively… Rabbi Yitsḥak said, ‘They brawled with one another and he said something about [the other one’s] mother, and that his father was the one killed by the Holy Name—as has been established: It is written הַלְהָרְגֵנִי אַתָּה אֹמֵר (Ha-lehargeni attah omer), Do you speak to kill me [as you killed the Egyptian]? (Exodus 2:14), for Moses killed him by the Holy Name. So he extended a word toward him. This is why it is written The son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name, cursing it, and he was brought to Moses. Why? Because it pertained to Moses, since he had killed [the man’s] father by the Holy Name. Therefore, he was brought to Moses. Once Moses perceived, immediately, he was put under guard… (Leviticus 24:12); so father and son fell into Moses’ hands” (Zohar 3:105b-106b).

He is Unclean, He shall Dwell Apart: Yet it was Our Sickness He was Bearing

“Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi met Elijah at the opening of the cave of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai. He asked him: ‘Have I a portion in the world to come?’ He said, ‘If this lord desires.’ Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi said, ‘I saw two, but heard the voice of a third [the Shekhinah (Rashi)].’ He then asked him, ‘When will the Messiah come?’—‘Go and ask him himself,’ was his reply. ‘Where is he sitting?’—‘At the portal of the city [of Rome (Gra)].’ And by what sign may I recognize him?’—‘He is sitting among the ill, poor, and suffering: everyone of them untie all at once and rebandage them together, whereas he unties and rebandages each separately [before treating the next], thinking, should I be wanted, I must not be delayed [by having to bandage a number of sores].’ So he went to him and greeted him, saying, ‘Peace be upon you, Rabbi and Teacher.’ ‘Peace be upon you son of Levi,’ he replied. ‘When will you come Master?’ he asked, ‘Today,’ was his answer. On his returning to Elijah, he asked, ‘What did he say to you?’—‘Peace be upon you son of Levi,’ he answered. Thereupon he [Elijah] observed, ‘He thereby assured you and your father of [a portion in] the world to come.’ ‘He spoke a lie to me, saying that he would come today, but has not.’ He [Elijah] answered him, ‘This is what he said to you, Today, if you would only heed His voice!’ (Psalms 95:7)” (BT Sanhedrin 98a).

“The Rabbis said: [The Messiah,] his name is חִיוְורָא (Ḥivra), White, of the House of Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi], as is written, Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our pains that he endured—though we considered him plagued, stricken by God and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4) [i.e., the Messiah is as הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one afflicted with skin blanch—he is called unclean and dwells outside the camp (Rashi)]” (BT Sanhedrin 98b).

And the person afflicted with skin blanch, in whom the affliction is, his clothes shall be torn and his hair disheveled, and his moustache he shall cover, and he shall call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” All the days that the affliction is on him he shall remain unclean. He is unclean. He shall dwell apart. Outside the camp shall his dwelling be (Leviticus 13:45-46).

Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our pains that he endured—though we considered him plagued, stricken by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquities, he bore the chastisement that made us whole, and by his wound we were healed (Isaiah 53:4-5).

This shall be the teaching concerning הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one afflicted with skin blanch—הַמוֹצִיא רָע (ha-motsi ra), the one who utters evil. Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘If anyone produces evil speech, all his limbs are defiled and he deserves to be confined, for that evil word rises and arouses an impure spirit upon him, defiling him” (Zohar 3:53a).

“And he who [continually] declares [others] unclean is [himself] unclean and never speaks in praise [of people]. And Shemu’el said: With his own blemish he stigmatizes [others] as unclean” (BT Qiddushin 70a).

“When [the souls in the Garden of Eden below roam on every new moon and Sabbath] they tell the Messiah about the suffering of Israel in exile and about the wicked among them who do not seek to know their Lord, he weeps aloud over the wicked, as is written: But he was wounded for our sins, crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). Those souls return and stand in their places.

In the Garden of Eden there is one chamber called the Chamber of the Ill. The Messiah then enters that chamber and calls for all the illnesses, all the pains, and all the sufferings of Israel to come upon him, and they all do so. And if he did not ease them off of Israel, taking them upon himself, no one could endure the sufferings of Israel from the punishments of Torah, as is written: Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing (Isaiah 53:4). Similarly, Rabbi El’azar on earth [see BT Bava Metsi’a 83b-84b].

For innumerable are the sufferings looming over a person every day, all of which descended into the world at the time when Torah was given. When the people of Israel were in the Holy Land, they eliminated all those illnesses and sufferings from the world through rituals and sacrifices. Now, the Messiah removes them from inhabitants of the world, until a person departs from this world and receives punishment, as has been said. Except for the extremely wicked, who are sent deep within Hell, into those other compartments, where they are punished severely for the extreme filth of the soul; then intense fire is kindled to consume that filth. Woe to the soul who suffers that punishment! Furthermore, angels of destruction harass them with rods of fire to shake out that filth. Woe to the soul who suffers that punishment! Happy are those who keep the commandments of Torah!” (Zohar 2:212a).

For this command which I charge you today is not too wondrous for you nor is it distant. It is not in the heavens, to say, “Who will go up for us to the heavens and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?” And it is not beyond the sea, to say, “Who will cross over for us beyond the sea and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?” But the word is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).

You are good and do good. Teach me Your statutes. The arrogant plaster me with lies—I with whole heart keep Your decrees. Their heart grows dull like fat—as for me, in Your teaching I delight. It was good for me that I was afflicted, so that I might learn Your statutes. Better for me Your mouth’s teaching than thousands of pieces of silver and gold (Psalms 119:68-72).

“Rabbi Abba said, ‘Yose, my son, I will tell you what happened to me with the Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai]. One day we were walking in the valley of Ono, delving into Torah that whole day. Due to the intensity of the sun, we sat ourselves down in the cleft of a certain rock [this recalls the cleft of the rock where God revealed His back to Moses (Exodus 33:22-23). Similarly, here, a profound mystery is revealed: the suffering of the righteous]. I said to him, ‘How is it that whenever the wicked proliferate in the world, the righteous among them are smitten on their account? For we have learned as follows: ‘For a generation’s חוֹבָא (ḥova), sin [lit., debt], the righteous are seized.’ Why? If because they do not reprimand the world for their deeds, well, there are many who do reprimand but are not heeded, and the righteous are overwhelmed by them. And if it is so that there will be no one to protect the world, then let them not die and not be seized for the sins [of the world], since the righteous find joy in the destruction [of the wicked].’

He replied, ‘For a generation’s sin, the righteous are surely seized, and we have established these matters. But when the righteous are seized with illness or afflictions, it is in order to atone for the world; then all sins of the generation are purged. How do we know this? From all members of the body. When all the members are in distress—grave illness prevailing over them—one member must suffer so that all of them may be healed. Which one is it? The arm. The arm is struck and blood is drawn from it, and then all members of the body are healed.

Similarly, inhabitants of the world are bodily members, interlinked. When the blessed Holy One wishes to grant healing to the world, He strikes one righteous person [Israel] among them, and through him provides healing to all. How do we know this? As is written: But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquities, and by his wound we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). And by his wound—bloodletting, like someone letting blood from his arm. By that wound we are healed—healing comes to us, to all members of the body.

Never is a righteous person smitten except to provide healing to the generation and to atone for them. This is the mystery of ‘a righteous one who suffers,’ for the Other Side prefers most of all that Judgment should overwhelm a righteous one—for then he does not care about the whole world and ignores them because of the joy of dominating him [cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 1a-b]. Yet that righteous person attains supreme dominion in this world and in the world that is coming. As for ‘a righteous one who prospers,’ this is because the blessed Holy One does not care to atone for the world’” (Zohar 3:217b-18b).

Long-nosed

For the sake of My name אַאֲרִיךְ אַפִּי (a’arikh appi), I lengthen My nose, and for My praise אֶחֱטָם (eḥetom), restrain it, for you, so as not to cut you off (Isaiah 48:9).

“Secrecy within secrecy was prepared and arranged in a single skull filled with crystalline dew. Membrane of air, purified and sealed; those strands of clean fleece hanging evenly. Will of Wills is revealed through צְלוֹתָא (tselota), prayer [lit., roast sacrifice], of those below. Open-eyed watching, never sleeping, ever vigilant; supervision below by supervision of radiance above. Two nostrils of an official arousing breath for all [as a nose supervising commandingly]” (Zohar 2:176b, Sifra di-Tsni’uta).

“It has been taught: This nose is small, and when smoke begins to emerge, it comes out hurriedly and Judgment is executed. Who prevents this nose from spewing smoke? The nose of the Holy Ancient One, Who is called אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם (Erekh Appayim), Long-nosed, Long-suffering, of all… When the Holy Ancient One is revealed to Ze’eir Anpin, all appear in Compassion; the nose is assuaged, and no smoke emerges, as we have learned, for it is written: For My praise אֶחֱטָם (eḥetom), I restrain the nose, for you… (Isaiah 48:9)… Thus it is written YHWH smelled the pleasing aroma (Genesis 8:21), for all depends on the nose—that this nose may smell the smoke and red fire, whereby the offering is accepted with favor. This corresponds to what is written: The nose of YHWH will flare against you (Deuteronomy 11:17); My nose will flare (Exodus 22:23); lest the nose of YHWH flare (Deuteronomy 6:15)—all referring to Ze’eir Anpin” (Zohar 3:137b-138a, Idra Rabba).

“וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (Va-yippaḥ be-appaiv nishmat ḥayyim)And He blew into his nostrils the soul of life (Genesis 2:7)—חוֹתָם (ḥotam), stamp, signet ring, seal [חוֹתָם (ḥotam) puns on חוֹטֶם (ḥotem), nose]” (Ba’al ha-Turim).

The Locks of Your Head are Purple

Tefillin3.jpg“Rabbi Avin son of Rabbi Adda said in the name of Rabbi Yitsḥaq, ‘How do we know that the blessed Holy One puts on tefillin? For it is said: YHWH has sworn by His right hand and by the arm of His strength (Isaiah 62:8). By His right hand—this is Torah, as is said: From His right hand was a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2). And by the arm of His strength—this is tefillin, as is said: YHWH will give strength unto His people (Psalms 29:11). How do we know that tefillin are a strength to Israel? For it is written: And all the peoples of the earth will see that the name of YHWH is called over you and they will fear you (Deuteronomy 28:10), and it has been taught: Rabbi Eli’ezer the Great says, ‘This refers to tefillin of the head.’ Rabbi Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq asked Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Avin, ‘These tefillin of the Master of the World—what is written in them? He replied, ‘Who is like Your people Israel, a unique nation on earth’ (1 Chronicles 17:2)” (BT Berakhot 6a).

I will take away My palm and you will see My back (Exodus 33:23). Rav Ḥana son of Bizna said in the name of Rabbi Shim’on the Ḥasid, ‘This teaches us that the blessed Holy One showed Moses the knot of tefillin [at the back of God’s head]’” (BT Berakhot 7a).

“[Shekhinah] Her hair, called ‘stars of a scepter,’ precisely: masters of measure, masters of balance, masters of severity, masters of reaping—all called ‘purple hair’” (Zohar 1:223b, cf. Otsar ha-Midrashim, Olam Qatan, 406).

“בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), In the beginning (Genesis 1:1)—אַשְׁרֵי (Ashrei). This is אַשְׁרֵי (ashrei), happy, the man (Psalms 1:1); and אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה (Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh), I-Will-Be-What-I-Will-Be (Exodus 3:14)—Head of all heads [Keter], about it is said Your head upon you like כַּרְמֶל (Karmel), Carmel (Song of Songs 7:6)—tefillin of the head; and the locks of your head are אַרְגָּמָן (argaman), purple (ibid.)—tefillin of the hand, and through it they praise the בַּת (Bat), Daughter  [Shekhinah], with this אַשְׁרֵי (Ashrei) [prayer], as is written, And בְּאָשְׁרִי (be-ashri), what good fortune! For girls have acclaimed me fortunate (Genesis 30:13)” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 27a-b).

“בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit)—בַּת רָאשֵׁי (Bat Rashei), First Daughter: אֵלֶּה (Elleh), these, are the רָאשֵׁי (rashei), first, of their fathers’ houses (Exodus 6:14). Concerning a daughter the Masters of Mishnah have said: ‘[If a] daughter [is born] first—a good sign’ (BT Bava Batra 141a). She is the י (yod) of the Name אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), a precious stone which includes all the colors [on אֵלֶה (elleh), these, as an appellation of Shekhinah, see Zohar 1:9a-10a. On רָאשֵׁי (rashei) as ‘first,’ and ‘heads,’ see Zohar 3:248a: ‘On the רָאשֵׁי (rashei), heads, of your new moon (Numbers 28:11). Now, how many heads does the moon have?…’]” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 10a).

“Therefore the blessed Holy One is the King bound in bonds. He is bound with them through the tefillin of the head, which is beauty of the head, because tefillin of the head are in the place of the bond of the brain. This is: [A king is] caught in the tangle (Song of Songs 7:6)—He is bound to them through the tefillin of the hand in the knot of the hand. This is as written, Bind the turban of your head upon you (Ezekiel 24:17). Because He is bound to them in the exile it says, ‘A prisoner cannot free himself from jail’ (BT Berakhot 5b). The Shekhinah is His jail—because of Her love He is bound to Her—and the mystery of the matter: A sachet of myrrh is my lover to me, all night between my breasts (Song of Songs 1:13)” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 21b).

Whoever Goes to that World without this Knowledge, Even if He has Many Good Deeds, He will be Ejected from All Its Gates

ello-b484c786-ffb8-4fa9-b913-5241ad85bb79Tell me, whom I love so, where you pasture your flock at noon, lest I go straying after the flocks of your companions—If you do not know, O fairest of women, go out in the tracks of the sheep (Song of Songs 1:7-8).

“Happy are those engaged with Torah in order to learn the wisdom of their Master, knowing and contemplating transcendent secrets! For when a person departs this world, that lore causes all forms of judgments against him to vanish. Not only this, but thirteen gates of mysteries of pure balsam, from which the Supernal Wisdom is suspended, are opened for him. Not only this, but the blessed Holy One delights with him in the Garden of Eden, and he inherits two worlds: this world and the world that is coming.

The wisdom one must know: First, to learn how to complete the mystery of his Master.

Second, to understand his body, to become aware of who he is. How was he created? Where did he come from? Where is he headed? Perfection of the body—how is that achieved? How will he be summoned to judgment before the Sovereign of All?

Third, to know and contemplate mysteries of his soul. What is it, this soul within him? Where did it come from? Why did it enter this body—fetid drop!—here today, tomorrow in the grave?

Fourth, to contemplate this world in which he finds himself. How can it be perfected? Afterward, with supernal mysteries from the world above, to know his Master. All this, one should contemplate within mysteries of Torah.

Come and see: whoever goes to that world without this knowledge, even if he has many good deeds, he will be ejected from all its gates. Go out, look at what is written here: ‘Tell me (Song of Songs 1:7)—speak to me of mysteries of wisdom! How do you pasture and conduct that world? Teach me mysteries of wisdom, of that supernal Wisdom, those that I have neither known nor contemplated before, so that I will not be disgraced among those upper rungs that I shall enter. For until now, I have not contemplated them.’

Come and see what is written: If you do not know (ibid. 8). If you arrive without knowledge, without having contemplated wisdom before entering here, and you do not know mysteries of the upper world, go forth (ibid.)! You are unworthy to enter here without knowledge. Gain awareness בְּעִקְבֵי (be-iqvei), in the tracks of, the sheep (ibid.), among those people who are trampled בְּעָקֵב (be-eqev), underfoot. They know supreme mysteries of their Master, and from them you will learn how to perceive” (Zohar Ḥadash 70d, cf. BT Ḥagigah 27a).