The Nut Garden

Gleanings of Zohar

All who are Compassionate to the Cruel in the end become Cruel to the Compassionate

And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, מְצַחֵק (mestaeq), laughing. And she said to Abraham, “Drive out this slavegirl and her son, for the slavegirl’s son shall not inherit with my son, with Isaac.” And the thing seemed evil in Abraham’s eyes because of his son. And God said to Abraham, “Let it not seem evil in your eyes on account of the lad and on account of your slavegirl. Whatever ever Sarah says to you, listen to her voice, for through Isaac shall your seed be acclaimed. But the slavegirl’s son, too, I will make a nation, for he is your seed” (Genesis 21:9-13, cf. the Code of Hammurabi 146).

“Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai said, ‘Rabbi Akiva used to offer four explanations, and mine follows from his. Rabbi Akiva said that the מְצַחֵק (mestaeq) refers solely to idolatry, as in And the people came back from eating and drinking and they rose up לְצַחֵק (letsaḥeq), to play. [And YHWH said to Moses, ‘Quick, go down, for your people that I brought up from Egypt has acted ruinously] (Exodus 32:6). From this we learn that Sarah saw Ishmael building idolatrous altars, catching locusts, and sacrificing them.

Rabbi Eli’ezer, son of Rabbi Yose of Galilee, said מְצַחֵק (mestaeq) was none other than illicit sexual relations. Sarah saw Ishmael molesting and assaulting the women [cf. Genesis 26:8; there was Isaac מְצַחֵק (mestaeq), playing, with Rebekah his wife; ibid. 39:17: The Hebrew slave came into me, whom you bought us, לְצַחֶק (letsaeq), to play, with me].

Rabbi Ishmael said מְצַחֵק (mestaeq) refers to bloodshed, as it is written: And Abner said to Joab, ‘Pray, let the lads arise and ישַׂחֲקוּ (yisaḥaqu), play, before us.’… And they arose and crossed over—twelve in number… And each man grasped the head of the other with his sword at the side of the other, and they fell together  (2 Samuel 2:14-16). From this we learn that Sarah saw Ishmael taking his bow and arrow and shooting towards Isaac, as it is written Like a lunatic shooting deadly firebrands is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘Why, I was joking’ (Proverbs 26:18-19).

But I say, perish the thought such a person be in the house of so righteous a man! How could there be idolatry, sexual licentiousness and bloodshed in the home of him, of whom it is said, For I have embraced him so that he will charge his sons [and his household after him to keep the way of YHWH to do righteousness and justice, that YHWH may bring upon Abraham all that He spoke concerning him’]  (Genesis 18:19). Therefore מְצַחֵק (mestaeq) here can refer only to the matter of inheritance; for when Isaac was born to Abraham, everyone rejoiced, saying, ‘Abraham has had a son, a son who shall inherit the world and take a double portion!’ So Ishmael מְצַחֵק (mestaeq), sneered, to himself, saying, ‘Fools I am the firstborn, and I shall take a double portion.’ Indeed, we may infer this from Sarah’s response: for the slavegirl’s son shall not inherit with my son. My interpretation is more sound than that of Rabbi Akiva” (Tosefta Sotah 6:6, cf. Bereshit Rabbah 53:11).

“Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Since the day Isaac was born, as long as Ishmael remained in Abraham’s house he did not attain a name. Wherever gold is found, scoria goes unmentioned. So, the son of Hagar the Egyptian, a male unworthy of being mentioned in the presence of Isaac.

Rabbi El’azar said, ‘Sarah saw. She saw him through a contemptuous eye, eyeing him not as the son of Abraham but as the son of Hagar the Egyptian. So, Sarah saw. Sarah saw him with that eye—not Abraham, since in relation to Abraham it is not written: son of Hagar the Egyptian, but rather: his son

Now, would you ever imagine that Sarah was jealous of her [namely, Hagar] or her son [Ishmael]? If so, the blessed Holy One would not have consented to her, as is written: Whatever Sarah tells you, hearken to her voice. Rather, because she saw him engaging in idolatry and because his mother taught him idolatrous customs, Sarah said, ‘For the son of this maidservant will not inherit! I know he will never inherit the share of faith, nor will he share a portion with my son—neither in this world nor in the world that is coming.’ Therefore the blessed Holy One consented” (Zohar 1:118b).

“Come and see! It is written: The people saw that Moses lagged [in coming down from the mountain, and the people assembled against Aaron and said to him, ‘Rise up, make us gods that will go before us, for this man Moses who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what happened to him] (Exodus 32:1). Who are the people? The עֵרֶב רַב (erev rav), mixed multitude [see Exodus 12:38; 32:7]. Who are the עֵרֶב רַב (erev rav), mixed multitude? Were they Lydians, Ethiopians, Cretans or Togarmans, that they are called עֵרֶב רַב (erev rav), ‘mixed multitude’? Were they not Egyptians, journeying from Egypt? If they were a mixture of many nations, it should have been written A mixed multitude ּעַלו (alu), went up, with them, corresponding to their mixture. Rather, A mixed multitude עָלָה (alah), went up, with them [written with the collective singular verb] (Exodus 12:38)—they were one nation, with one language, but consisting of all the sorcerers of Egypt and all its soothsayers, of whom is written and they too, the soothsayers of Egypt, did [thus with their spells] (Exodus 7:11), wanting to confront the wonders of the blessed Holy One. Once they saw the miracles and wonders that Moses performed in Egypt, they returned to Moses. The blessed Holy One said to Moses, ‘Do not accept them!’

Moses said, ‘Master of the Universe! Now that they have seen Your power, they want to convert. Let them see Your power every day and they will know that there is no God but You.’ And Moses accepted them [cf. Exodus 32:11: And Moses implored the presence of YHWH his God and said, “Why, O YHWH, should Your wrath flare against Your people that You brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a strong hand?BT Pesaim 87b: The blessed Holy One scattered Israel amongst the heathens only so that they may accumulate converts]” (Zohar 2:191a, cf. Zohar 2:45b; 191a; 195a).

“All the exile and the destruction of the Temple and all the suffering, all of it came through Moses’ acceptance of the עֵרֶב רַב (erev rav), motley throng, and all wicked people and evildoers in every generation come from them, and this is what is referred to: [Once Shabbatai son of Marinus came to Babylon and entreated them to provide him with facilities for trading and they refused this to him; neither did they give him any food. He said:] ‘These are the descendants of the motley throng’ (BT Beitza 32b)” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 97a).

Everything has a season, and a time for every matter under the heavens. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to rip down and a time to build. A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to fling stones and a time to gather stones in. A time to embrace and a time to pull back from embracing. A time to seek and a time to lose. A time to keep and a time to fling away. A time to tear and a time to sew. A time to keep silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

“[And Saul came up to the city of Amalek] and lay in wait it the ravine. [And Saul said to the Kenite, ‘Go, turn away, come down from amidst the Amalekite, lest I sweep you away together with him, for you did kindness to all the Israelites when they came up from Egypt] (1 Samuel 15:5).

Rabbi Mani said: Because of what happens in the ravine: When the blessed Holy One said to Saul: ‘Now, go and strike down Amalek, [and put under the ban everything that he has, you shall not spare him, and you shall put to death man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey’] (ibid. 3), [Saul] said: If on account of one person Torah said: Perform the ceremony of the heifer whose neck is to be broken [see Deuteronomy 21:1-9: … do not put innocent blood in the midst of Your people Israel], how much more [ought consideration to be given] to all these persons! And if human beings sinned, what has the cattle committed; and if the adults have sinned, what have the little ones done?

A divine voice came forth and said: do not be over-righteous (Ecclesiastes 7:16). And when Saul said to Doeg: ‘You, then, turn round [and stab the priests.’ … and he struck down Nob the priests’ town with the edge of the sword, man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and donkey and sheep, all by the edge of the sword (1 Samuel 22:18), a divine voice came forth to say: don’t be over-wicked (Ecclesiastes ibid. 17)” (BT Yoma 22b, cf. Mekhilta, Beshalla 1; Guide of the Perplexed 3:39).

“All who are compassionate to the cruel in the end become cruel to the compassionate” (Qohelet Rabbah on 7:16, cf. Midrash Zuta; Tanḥuma, Mezora 1; Yalkut Shimoni, 1 Samuel, 121).

“Rav Yehudah said in Shmuel’s name: When Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter, she brought him a thousand musical instruments and said to him, Thus we do in honour of that idol, thus in honour of that idol, yet he did not forbid her.

Rav Yehudah said in Shmuel’s name: When Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter, Gabriel descended and planted a reed in the sea, and it gathered a bank around it, on which the great city of Rome was built [i.e., Solomon’s unfaithfulness laid the seeds for the dissolution of the Jewish State]. In a Baraita it was taught: On the day that Jeroboam brought the two golden calves, one into Bethel and the other into Dan, a hut was built, and this developed into Magna Graecia (Greek Italy) [i.e., Rome]” (BT Shabbat 56b, cf. Sanhedrin 21b; Shir HaShirim Rabbah 1, 1:10).

Who Causes the Tail to Rise Above, Dominate, and Strike?

Snake & his Tail“Rabbi El’azar wept. He opened, saying, ‘Her sound will move like a snake… (Jeremiah 46:22). Now that Israel is in exile, She surely moves like a snake. When a snake bends its head to the dust and raises its tail, the tail dominates and strikes anyone in front of it. Who causes the tail to rise above, dominate, and strike? The head, which is bent low. Nevertheless, who controls the tail, and who propels its movements? The head—although it is bent to the dust, it conducts [the tail’s] movements. Therefore, now the other nations—who are attached to the tail—rise above, dominate, and strike, while the head is bent to the dust, as is said: Fallen, not to rise again, [is Virgin Israel] (Amos 5:2). Nevertheless, this head controls the tail and preserves it, as is said: They made me keeper of the vineyards (Song of Songs 1:6)—the other nations, who are the tail.

Rabbi Yehudah came and kissed his hands, and said, ‘If I had asked nothing in the world except for this, and gained it, it would be enough for me! For now I know how the other nations and their dominion are controlled. Happy is the share of Israel, of whom is written For Yah has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel as His treasure (Psalms 135:4)’” (Zohar 3:119b).

“How fortunate are you, O Israel. When you act according to the will of YHWH no nation or tongue can dominate you. But when you do not act in accordance with the will of YHWH you are delivered into the hands of a lowly people, and not only a lowly people but into the power of the beasts of a lowly people” (BT Ketubot 66b).

The Binding

V10p022001And it happened after these things that הָאֱלֹהִים tested Abraham. And He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ and he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Take, pray, your son, your only one, whom you love, Isaac, and go forth to the land of Moriah and offer him up as a burnt offering, on one of the mountains which I shall say to you.’ And Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey and took his two lads with him, and Isaac his son, and he split wood for the offering, and rose and went to the place that God had said to him (Genesis 22:1-3).

And He said to him, ‘Abraham! Take, pray, your son (Genesis 22:2). And Abraham, having pity upon Isaac, said before Him: Master of all Worlds concerning which son do You decree upon me? Is it concerning the son lacking circumcision, or the son born for circumcision? He answered him: Your only one. He rejoined: This one is the only son of his mother, and the other son is the only son of his mother. He said to him: whom you love. He said to Him: I love both of them. He said to him: Isaac” (Bereshit Rabbah 31:38).

“If someone should say, ‘He gives riches to whomever He wishes, and He impoverishes whomever He wishes, and whomever He wishes He makes king, and so too as to Abraham, when He wanted, He made him rich, and when He wanted, He made him king [and all this without justice], you may reply to him, saying, ‘Can you do what Abraham did?’ Abraham was a hundred years old when Isaac, his son, was born to him (Genesis 21:5). And after all the anguish, it was stated to him, Take your son (Genesis 22:2). And he did not demur.

Rabbi Yonathan said, ‘A potter does not test a weak utensil, for if he hits it just once, he will break it’… Said Rabbi Yose son of Ḥaninah, ‘When a flax maker knows that the flax is in good shape, then the more he beats it, the more it will improve and glisten’ … Said Rabbi El’azar, ‘The matter may be compared to a householder who has two heifers, one strong, one weak. On whom does he place the yoke? So the blessed Holy One does not try the wicked but the righteous: YHWH probes the righteous (Psalms 11:5)…

One said, ‘I am more beloved than you, for I was circumcised when I was thirteen years old.’ The other said, ‘I am more beloved than you, for I was circumcised sooner, namely, on the eighth day.’ Ishmael said to him, ‘I am more beloved than you, because I could have objected but didn’t.’ At that moment Isaac said, ‘Would the blessed Holy One appear to me and tell me to cut off one of my limbs I would not object.’ Said the blessed Holy One to him, ‘If I should tell you to offer yourself up to me, you would not refuse’” (Bereshit Rabbah 55:2-4).

“[The adversary said to Abraham on his way to Mount Moriah] Look, you reproved many, and slack hands you strengthened. The stumbler your words lifted up, and bended knees you bolstered. But now it comes to you and you cannot stand it, it reaches you and you are dismayed (Job 4:2-5). He replied, I will walk in my wholeness (Psalms 26:2). ‘But,’ said [the adversary] to him, Is not your reverence your safety? (Job 4:6). ‘Remember,’ he retorted, What innocent man has died? (Job 4:6). Seeing that he [Abraham] would not listen, he said to him, And to me came a word in secret (Job 4:12) thus have I heard from behind the curtain, ‘the lamb will be for a burnt-offering, while Isaac will not be the burnt-offering.’ He [Abraham] replied, ‘It is the penalty of a liar, that should he even tell the truth, he is not listened to’” (Sanhedrin 89b, cf. Midrash Vayyosha 1:36).

“Son honors his father—Isaac to Abraham. When did he honor him? When he bound him on the altar, intending to offer him up as a sacrifice. Isaac was thirty-seven years old, while Abraham was an old man, so if he had kicked with one foot he could not have withstood him. Yet he honored his father, allowing himself to be bound like a lamb to fulfill his father’s will” (Zohar 1:103a).

“Isaac said to Abraham his father, My father!… Why didn’t he answer him at all? Because he had withdrawn from a father’s mercy for his son, so it is written: Here I am my son. Here I am—mercy [i.e., Abraham] has vanished, transformed into judgement [i.e., Isaac]. Abraham said, and it is not written: His father said, for he did not appear as a father but rather as an adversary” (Zohar 1:120a).

King David: כְּלִי-זֶמֶר (kli-zemer) Vessel of Song

980“Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi said: The Book of Psalms was uttered with ten synonyms of שֶׁבַח (sheva), praise, namely: נִיצוּחַ (nitsua) [Netsaḥ], נִגוּן (niggun) [Ḥesed], מַשְׂכִּיל‎ (maskil) [Binah], מִזְמוֹר (mizmor) [Gevurah], שִׁיר (shir) [Ḥokhmah], אַשְׁרֵי (ashrei) [Keter], תְהִלָּה (tehillah) [Malkhut], תְּפִלָּה (tefillah) [Yesod], הוֹדָאָה (hoda’ah) [Hod], and הַלְלוּיָהּ (halleluyah) [Tif’eret]. The greatest of all is halleluyah because it embraces the Name [יָהּ (Yah)] and שֶׁבַח (sheva), praise, simultaneously.

Rav Yehudah said in Shmuel’s name: the Song in Torah was uttered by Moses and Israel when they ascended from the Sea [see Exodus 15:1-18]. And who recited this הַלְל (hallel), praise? The prophets among them ordained that Israel should recite it at every important epoch and at every misfortune—may it not come upon them! And when they are redeemed they recite [in gratitude] for their redemption.

Our Rabbis taught: As for all the songs and praises to which David gave utterance in the Book of Psalms, Rabbi Yehoshua said: He spoke them in reference to himself; Rabbi Yehoshua said: He spoke them with reference to the community; while the Sages maintain: Some of them refer to the community, while others refer to himself. [Thus:] those which are couched in the singular bear upon himself, while those which are couched in the plural allude to the community. נִיצוּחַ (Nitsua), conducting, and נִגוּן (niggun), melody, [introduce psalms] relating to the future; מַשְׂכִּיל‎ (maskil) [indicates that it was spoken] through an interpreter [since it shares a root with שָׂכַל (sakhal), instructive]; [the superscription] לְדָוִד מִזְמוֹר (Le-David mizmor), David psalm, intimates that the Shekhinah rested upon him and then he uttered [that] song; מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד (mizmor le-David), a David psalm, intimates that he [first] uttered [that particular] song and then the Shekhinah rested upon him. This teaches you that the Shekhinah rests [upon man] neither in indolence nor in gloom nor in frivolity nor in levity, nor in vain pursuits, but only in the joy of a mitsvah, for it is said, But now, fetch me a lyre-player.” And it happened, as the lyre-player played, the hand of YHWH was upon him (2 Kings 3:15)” (BT Pesaim 117a, cf. Rebbe Naḥman of Bratslav, Tiqqun ha-Kelali).

“Rise, Rabbi Shim’on, and let us hear new matters from you on this verse [For the lead player, on shushan-edut, a David mitam]. First: לַמְנַצֵּחַ (la-menatseaḥ), For the lead player (Psalms 60:1), contains נֵצַח (Netsaḥ), Victory—נִגוּן צַח (niggun tsaḥ), pure melody, and by it YHWH is called a Man of War towards the nations of the world, but of Compassion and Justice towards Israel. And the mystery of the matter is contained in: and when the wicked perish—רִנָּה (rinah), glad song (Proverbs 11:10) [thus when the blessed Holy One is מְנַצֵחַ (menatseaḥ), victorious, over the wicked there is נִגוּן צַח (niggun tsaḥ), pure melody]. מ (Mem) and ל (lamed) are the secret of the seventy names that He has. Together with Netsaḥ and Hod they amount to seventy-two, which is numerically equivalent to חֶסֶד (Ḥesed). And the mystery of the matter: delights in Your right hand נֶצַח (netsaḥ), forever (Psalms 16:11).

הוֹד (Hod): הוֹדוּ לַיהוָה (Hodu l’Adonai), Give thanks to YHWH (1 Chronicles 16:8). צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq), Righteous One [Yesod], it is written: רַנְּנוּ צַדִּיקִים, בַּיהוָה (ranenu tsaddiqim ba-YHWH), sing gladly, O righteous, of YHWH (Psalms 33:1), and also: רָנּוּ לְיַעֲקֹב שִׂמְחָה (ranu l’Ya’aqov simḥah), sing with gladness [Malkhut] for Jacob [Tif’eret] (Jeremiah 31:6). תִּפְאֶרֶת (Tif’eret): הַלְלוּ אֵל (Hallelu El) הַלְלוּיָהּ (Halleluyah) הַלְלוּ יָהּ (Hallelu Yah), Praise God (Psalms 150:1)—the Name of יְדֹוָד (YHWH). In נִגוּן (niggun), melody, and in זֶמֶר (zemer), plucked song [cf. Song of Songs. 2:12]—Ḥesed and Gevurah. In שִׁיר (shir), song, and בְרָכָה (berakhah), blessing—Ḥokhmah and Binah. In אַשְׁרֵי (ashrei), happy—Keter. In תְהִלָּה (tehillah), praise—Malkhut.

מִזְמוֹר (Mizmor), a psalm [Gevurah], that has in it: רָז (raz), secret, and מוּם (moom), blemish, from the side of the זֶמֶר דְּאוֹרַיְיתָא (zemer de-orayita), song of Torah, and זֶמֶר דִּצְלוֹתָא (zemer de-tselota), the song of prayer [cf. BT Sanhedrin 98b]. A זֶמֶר (zemer), song, of the Other Side contains: זָר מוּם (zar moom), foreign blemish—‘זֶמֶר (zemer), song, in the house is destruction in the house’ (BT Sotah 48a). A menstruate, a slavegirl, a daughter of star and constellation worshipers, a prostitute—these are the letters of מִזְמוֹר (mizmor), a psalm [alluding to the offspring of any of these relations, namely, מַמזֵר (mamzer), bastard]. נִגוּן (Niggun), melody [Ḥesed]—containing גַן (gan), garden [Malkhut]. And such is the beauty of the נִגוּן (niggun), melody, which has in it הַלֵל (hallel), praise, like: it is הוּא-הַלַּיְלָה (hu-halaylah), a night of watch, to YHWH, for His taking them out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:42) [in other words, not the whole melody is Loving-kindness but only the beauty of the melody tends towards it, which is the mystery of Hallel of the Exodus from Egypt]. אַשְׁרֵי (Ashrei), happy—with which everyone begins to offer praises [אַשְׁרֵי (Ashrei), happy, is Keter, since like Keter, it is the beginning of the sefirot]. אַשְׁרֵי (Ashrei), happy, the people who has it thus (Psalms 144:15). Of בְּרָכָה (berakhah), blessing, it is as in, אֲבָרְכָה (avrekhah), let me bless, YHWH at all times (Psalms 34:2) [בְּרָכָה (berakhah), blessing, is Binah, since the emanation of Binah is unceasing as blessings should be, see Zohar 3:290b (IR): The world that is coming (Binah), constantly coming, never ceasing]. תְהִלָה (Tehillah), praise: Always תְּהִלָּתוֹ (tehillato), His praise, in my mouth [Malkhut] (ibid.).

[For the lead player] עַל שׁוּשַׁן עֵדוּת (Al shushan-edut), on shushan-edut (Psalms 60:1)—Hod, which is a שׁוּשַׁן (shoshan), rose, in which the red dominates the white, while with Netsaḥ the white dominates the red. But what is עֵדוּת (edut), testimony? The Righteous One [Yesod]—the covenant held by the heavens [Tif’eret/Ze’eir Anpin] and the earth [Malkhut]. As it is written: הַעִידֹתִי (Ha-eidoti), I have called to witness, against you this day the heavens and the earth (Deuteronomy 4:26). What is מִכְתָּם (mikhtam), writ (Psalms 60:1)? It forms two words מָך (makh), humble, and תָם (tam), simple [alt., complete/consummate]. Humble—the Righteous One [Yesod]. Simple—the middle pillar [Tif’eret] on the rung of and Jacob was a אִישׁ תָּם (ish tam), simple (Genesis 25:27). We consider the body and the covenant [Tif’eret and Yesod] to be one [which is why מָך (makh) and תָם (tam) are written as one word: מִכְתָּם (mikhtam), writ]. לְלַמֵד (Le-lamed), to teach—Ḥesed and Gevurah, for from there Torah was given ‘לִלמוֹד (Lilmod), to study, and לְלַמֵד (le-lamed), to teach’ (M Avot 4:5).

[Moses the Faithful Shepherd] said to him: What you say is all very well, however: To the lead player, הַשְּׁמִינִית (ha-sheminit), the eight-stringed (Psalms 12:1)—Netsaḥ should not move from Hod, which is the eighth sefirah, and that is why he says: לַמְנַצֵּחַ (la-menatseaḥ), To the lead player, the eight-stringed [rather than To the lead player on shushan-edut as you have it]. The Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai] responded: If that is so [i.e., if you want to be pedantic, one can ask an even more profound question]. Your rung is that of Binah; why, then, was it taught that ‘He gave Hod to Moses, as it is written: And you shall set something of מֵהוֹדְךָ (me-hodekha), your grandeur, upon him (Numbers 27:20)?’

That is a good question that you have asked. The letter ה (he) ascends by the י (yod), five times ten, the fifty gates of Binah, expanding from esed to Hod. Indeed in each sefirah there are ten making fifty. Therefore, just one expansion from Binah to Hod [in other words Binah is included in Hod]. Subsequently the Righteous One [Yesod] comes and by himself takes all fifty gates, it being equivalent to all five [sefirot]. And it is called כֹּל (Kol), All [numerically equivalent to fifty], because it takes all fifty gates. And so too the כַּלָה (kalah), bride [Malkhut], takes all of them [כֹּל (Kol), All, with the addition of ה (he) is feminine, i.e., כַּלָה (kalah), bride]. He said ‘Now surely everything is falling into place.’

Moreover, לַמְנַצֵּחַ (la-menatseaḥ) can be rearranged as מַל עִם נֶצַח (mal im Netsaḥ), sputter within Netsaḥ. And that מַלְ (mal), sputter, is from חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber, from ח ש (ḥet, shin) [which are the first and last letters of חַיּוֹת אֵשׁ (ḥayot esh), living beings of fire]. And these are Hod and Netsaḥ, which correspond to two lips. Therefore lips are called חֵיוָן אֶשָּׁא מְמַלְּלָ (ḥeyvan esha memal’la), sputtering living beings of fire. And in Ḥagigah [12a-13b] the question is asked: ‘Until where is the Work of the Chariot?’ And the answer was given: From וָאֵרֶא (va-ere), and I looked (Ezekiel 1:4) until חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber (Ezekiel 1:27, cf. the Septuagint ἠλέκτρου ‘elektron,’ and the Arabic עַנבָּר ‘anbar’). [חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber, is an acronym for:] חַיּוֹת אֵשׁ מִמַלוֹת (ḥayot esh mimalot), sputtering living beings of fire. For from the side of Gevurah, they are called חֵיוָן אֶשָּׁא (ḥeyvan esha), living beings of fire, and the river that flows from the perspiration/humidity of these living beings is Yesod. All three of them [Netsaḥ, Hod, and Yesod] form a chariot for the תִפְאֶרֶת אָדָם (Tif’eret Adam), Beauty of Man [Ze’eir Anpin]…

David removed [the shell called whirlwind] from his heart-mind and killed it, as it is written: And my heart is חָלַל (ḥalal), pierced, within me (Psalms 109:22). And for this reason, he was privileged that a north wind should blow on his lyre [Malkhut], and about it is said: ‘Thus says YHWH God; Come from the four winds, O breath, [and breathe upon these slain, that they may live] (Ezekiel 37:9). And he used to play through it four kinds of melody on his lyre: a simple song, which is the secret of י (yod); a double song, which is the secret of יָהּ (Yah); a triple song, יהו (yod, he, vav); and, a quadruple song, יהוה (YHWH) ” (Zohar 3:222b-227a Ra’aya Meheimna Pinas).

And as you come into town there, you shall encounter a band of prophets coming down from the high place, preceded by harp and drum and flute and lyre, and they will be speaking in ecstasy. And the spirit of YHWH shall seize you, and you shall go into ecstasy with them and you shall turn into another man (1 Samuel 10:5).

And so, when the spirit of God was upon Saul, David would take up the lyre and play, and Saul would find relief, and it would be well with him, and the evil spirit would turn away from him (1 Samuel 16:23)

Just as Big Fish Swallow Up Small Fish

Talmud Teacher“We learned that fish and locusts do not require [ritual] slaughter [in order to be eaten, rather, it is their gathering which makes them permissible, see BT Ḥullin 27b]. Such are the masters of Mishnah. They are consumed without slaughter [by the Angel of Death]. It says of them, And was gathered to his kinfolk (Genesis 49:33). Like fish of the sea live in the sea, so do the pupils of sages and masters of Mishnah live in the sea—if they are separated from Torah they immediately die. תַּנִּינָא דְּמַתְנִיתִין (Tanina de-Matnitin), Rehearser of Mishnah, wherein proliferate תַנִינֵי יַמָּא (taninei yama), sea monsters. If those [beasts] who live on dry land [i.e., those without Torah and mitsvot] fall into the water but cannot swim they die. However, [only] the masters of Kabbalah who are above all are אָדָם (adam), human [and know how to tread deep water, i.e., the sea of Torah and Her hidden depths]. Of them it says Hold sway over the fish of the sea and the fowl of the heavens (Genesis 1:26), who are מָארֵי מַתְנִיתִין תַּנִּינָיָּא (mare Matnitin taninaya), masters of Mishnah—sea monsters [who prey on small fish]. הַתַּנִּינִם הַגָּדוֹל (Ha-taninim ha-gadol), the great sea monster (Genesis 1:21), is the נָחָשׁ בָּרִחַ (naḥash bariaḥ), fleeing serpent (Isaiah 27:1), corresponding to: וְהַבְּרִיחַ (ve-ha-beriaḥ), and the crossbar, in the middle board [shall מַבְרִחַ (maberiaḥ), shoot through, from end to end] (Exodus 26:28).

When תַּנִּינִם (taninim), sea monsters [punning on תַּנָּאִים (Tannaim), Rehearsers]—the masters of Mishnah—have a disagreement among them, asking each other difficult questions, [one then] swallows his colleague [as large fish swallow small fish]. This concerns a young pupil who has not reached the rank of teaching yet teaches, which is punishable by death. But if they are matched [both being big fish] and have an argument or difficulty, it says of them in the end, וָהֵב בְּסוּפָה (waheb be-sufah), against Waheb in a whirlwind (Numbers 21:14), which has been interpreted: אַהֲבָה בְּסוֹפָהּ (ahava be-sofa), love at its end (BT Qiddushin 30b, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 6a).

In the meantime a נוּנָא רַבָּא (nuna raba), great fish, came [namely, Rav Hamnuna Saba], saying, ‘[Moses] Faithful Shepherd, אֵיתָן (Etan), Staunch, is your settlement, and set in the rock your nest (Numbers 24:21). [The תַּנָּאִים (Tannaim), Rehearsers, say] תַּנְיָ (tanya), ‘it was taught‘ [and this] assists you because the fish have their nest in the Rock [Malkhut]. אֵיתָן (Etan), staunch, is [the letters of] תַּנְיָ (tanya), ‘it was taught,’ rearranged; אֵתָנִים (Etanim), Mighty (Job 12:19), is [the letters of] תַּנָּאִים (Tannaim), Rehearsers, rearranged. Beware of them, because you are heavy-mouthed and heavy-tongued (Exodus 4:10). And whoever wishes to attack the fish of the sea in the Rock—masters of Mishnah, the תַּנָּאִים (Tannaim)—needs to be fierce and of a sharp and polished tongue to bore to the great abyss which lies there.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end he shall speak, and not lie: [though he tarries, wait for him; because he will surely come, he will not delay] (Habakkuk 2:3). It has been explained that this verse pierces and descends to the great abyss. Who is it that shall descend to the great abyss to find that time [of the End] but You, of whom it says, Your justice like the unending mountains, Your judgment, the great abyss (Psalms 36:7). Many masters of Mishnah wanted to penetrate the depth of הֲלָכָה (halakhah), [religious] performance, to find there the time of the coming of redemption, but went down and did not come up [הֲלָכָה (halakhah), conduct, alludes to הַכַּלָה (ha-kalah), the bride, i.e., Malkhut/Shekhinah]. Though their tongue was Like a hammer that shatters the rock in pieces (Jeremiah 23:29), their hammer was too weak and could not penetrate that Rock [to discover the End]. Whoever penetrates that Rock without permission, a serpent will come to bite him; others bore into Her until they reach the great abyss but do not come up from there [cf. Ecclesiastes 10:8: He who digs a pit will fall in it, and he breaches a wall, a snake will bite him]…’ 

And you [Moses, Faithful Shepherd] aid yourself by תַּנְיָא (tanya), ‘it was taught,’ more than all of them, since you are the Leviathan of the sea of Torah. For the master of all fishes is called לִוְיָתָן (Livyatan), Leviathan, named after Torah, of which it says, For they are a לִוְיַת (livyat), garland of grace, on your head (Proverbs 1:9). Because of you Man and beast YHWH rescues (Psalms 36:7). Man—of him it has been said [The Torah (is maintained by)] a man who dies in a tent (Numbers 19:14), and the masters of Mishnah have taught that the Torah does not remain except for one who kills himself for Her, and death is only poverty [cf. M Avot 6:4; BT Tamid 32a: What shall a man do to live? Let him kill himself. What should a man do to kill himself? Let him keep himself alive]. Beast—the ignorant, who are submissive like horses and mules to the masters of Mishnah” (Zohar 3:278a-80b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetze).

I Endow those who Love Me with Three Hundred and Ten Worlds

“Rabbi Yehudah, son of Rabbi Shim’on, expounded: He who blackens his face for the sake of Torah study in this world, the blessed Holy One will make his lustre shine in the next, as it is written: Like Lebanon he is choice as the cedars (Song of Songs 5:15—לְּבָנוֹן [Levanon], Lebanon, is cognate with לָבָן (lavan), white). Rabbi Tanḥuma son of Rabbi said: He who starves himself for the sake of Torah study in this world, the blessed Holy One will fully satisfy him in the next, as it is written: They take their fill from the fare of Your house and from Your stream of delights You give them drink (Psalms 36:9).

When Rabbi Dimi came, he said: The blessed Holy One will give every righteous man His heap [of reward], for it is written: Blessed be the Master day after day. God heaps upon us our rescue. Selah (Psalms 68:20). Abayye demurred: But is it possible to say so? Is it not written: Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and measured out heaven with the span? [how then can man receive such a vast reward?] (Isaiah 40:12)—he replied, ‘Why are you not found familiar with the aggadah [the nonlegal contents of the Talmud and Midrash]?’ For it was said in the West, [i.e., the Land of Israel] in the name of Rabbah son of Mari: the blessed Holy One will give to every righteous man three hundred and ten worlds, as it is written, So I may endow those who love Me with יֵשׁ (yesh), substance, and fill their treasuries (Proverbs 8:21)—now the numerical value ofׁ יש (yesh), substance, is 310 [thus man’s receptive capacity will be enormously increased]” (BT Sanhedrin 100a, cf. M Uqtzin 3:12).

“[Son of Rav Safra] opened, saying, ‘For a mitsvah is a lamp and Torah is light, and reproofs of discipline are the way to life (Proverbs 6:23). For mitsvah is a lamp—Mishnah, as is said: the Torah and the mitsvah (Exodus 24:12); the Torah is Written Torah, and the mitsvah is Mishnah, which is a lamp, a lamp ready to be kindled.

A lamp—why is She called a lamp? When She receives, between two arms, 248 supernal members, and She opens Her two arms toward them, then those two arms are included with them and She is called נֵר (ner), lamp [which is numerically equivalent to 250].

And Torah is light—illumining that lamp, which is kindled by it from the side of primordial light, as is written: from His right hand, a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2)—given from the right side, although the left was included in it, for thus is perfection of all.

This light is absorbed by 207 worlds, which are hidden away on the side of that light, and it spreads through them all. Beneath the supernal concealed Throne dwell those worlds on that right side. There are 310: 207 on the right side and 103 on the left side, totalling 310. These are the ones that the blessed Holy One constantly prepares, and from these spread countless precious treasures all stored away for delighting the righteous in the world that is coming. Of these is written So I may endow those who love Me with יֵשׁ (yesh), substance, and fill their treasuries (Proverbs 8:21). Of these is written No eye has seen, O God, but You, what You will do for one who awaits You (Isaiah 64:3).

יֵשׁ (Yesh), substance—310 worlds treasured away beneath the World that is Coming. אוֹר (Or), light, primordial light, is named after those 207 on the right side, because even light of the left is called light, but primordial light is destined to generate offspring in the world that is coming. Now, you might say, ‘In the World that is Coming, and no more!’ But even every single day, because if not for this light, the world could not exist, as is written: I declare, ‘The world is built by חֶסֶד (ḥesed), love (Psalms 89:3).

This light was sown by the blessed Holy One in the garden of His delight, and He arranged it in rows by the hand of the Righteous One, who is the gardener of the Garden. He took this light and sowed it as seed of truth, arranging it row by row in the Garden, and it sprouted and grew and yielded fruit, by which the world is nourished, as is written: Light is sown for the righteous… (Psalms 97:11)” (Zohar 2:166b).

“What is יֵשׁ (yesh), substance? חָכְמָה מֵאַיִן (Ḥokhmah me-ayin), Wisdom from Nothing (Keter) [cf. Sefer Yetsirah 2:6: He formed מַמָשׁ (mamash), something, from תוֹהוּ (tohu), nothing]. For in the place of the upper Shekhinah [Binah] there is Ḥokhmah, as it is said: So I may endow those who love Me with יֵשׁ (yesh), substance, and fill their treasuries (Proverbs 8:21); And doing חֶסֶד (ḥesed), kindness, to the thousandth generation for those who love Me and for those who keep My commands (Exodus 20:5)—from the side of חֶסֶד (Ḥesed), Loving-kindness, and this substance, which is חָכמָה (Ḥokhmah), Wisdom, is on the right as has been taught: One who desires to become wise should turn to the south [which is at the right hand of one facing east] (BT Bava Batra 25b). And that is why it is written: So I may endow those who love Me with יֵשׁ (yesh), substance, and fill their treasuries (Proverbs 8:21)” (Ra’aya Meheimna Pinḥas).

Into this Skull Trickles Dew from the White Head

Emilio-Garcia-Skull-Brain-2“Secrecy within secrecy was prepared and arranged in a single skull filled with טַלָּא דִּבְדוֹלְחָא (talla di-vdulḥa), crystalline dew [cf. Rashi on Numbers 11:7; ibn Ezra Genesis 2:12]. 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 פַרְדַּשְׂכָא (pardashka), official, arousing breath for all [as a nose supervising commandingly]” (Zohar 2:176b, Sifra di-Tsni’uta, cf. Zohar 3:137b-138a Idra Rabba).

“It has been taught: When an impulse arose in the will of the White Head to enhance His glory, He arranged, prepared, and generated from the Lamp of Adamantine Darkness a single spark. He breathed upon it and it flamed; His will arose and it scattered in 370 directions. Then the spark stood still, and pure air began to issue, whirling and expanding, and a single mighty skull emanated in four directions.

Within this pure air, the spark was absorbed, grasped, and enveloped. Would you ever imagine ‘within it’? Rather, concealed within it, and so this skull expanded in its directions, while this air is secreted in the secrecies of the Ancient of Days, in the breath that is treasured away.

In this skull fire spread on one side and air on the other, with pure air presiding over this side and pure fire presiding over the other. What is fire doing here? Well, it is not fire, but rather this spark enveloped in the pure air, illuminating 270 worlds, and from its side stems Judgment. Therefore this skull is called, ‘the mighty skull.’ In this skull dwell 90,000,000 worlds, moving with it, supported by it. Into this skull trickles dew from the White Head, filling it constantly, and from this dew the dead are destined to be revived.

That dew comprises two colors. From the aspect of the White Head, its color is white, including all whites, entirely white; but when it settles in this head of the זְעֵיר אַנפִּין (Ze’eir Anpin), Short-Tempered One, red appears in it—like crystal, which is white, yet the color red appears within the color white.

Therefore it is written: Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake—these to eternal life, those to shame and eternal contempt (Daniel 12:2). To eternal life—because they deserve that white, coming from the aspect of the עַתִּיק יוֹמִין (Atiq Yomin), Ancient of Days, אֲרִיכָא דְּאַנְפִּין (Arikha de-Anpin), Elongated Countenance. To shame and eternal contempt—because they deserve that red of the זְעֵיר אַנפִּין (Ze’eir Anpin), Small Countenance. All is included in the dew, as is written: For Your dew is a dew of lights (Isaiah 26:19)—two! And that dew drips every day to the Apple Orchard, colored white and red” (Zohar 3:135b, Idra Rabba).

“Rise Rabbi Shim’on and fashion new words with your hands, because permission has been granted you to reveal hidden mysteries which have not been revealed by another until now. Rabbi Shim’on opened saying, ‘Yours, O YHWH, is the greatness, and the strength (1 Chronicles 29:11).

Supernal ones, sleepers of Hevron, listen. Faithful Shepherd awake from your sleep. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust (Isaiah 26:19). These are those righteous ones who are from the aspect of, I was asleep but my heart was awake (Song of Songs 5:2). They are not dead, thus it says, Awake and sing. Awake, Faithful Shepherd you and the patriarchs, awaken the Shekhinah asleep in the exile. Until now all the righteous sleep, asleep in their youth.’

Immediately the Shekhinah aroused three voices for the Faithful Shepherd, saying to him, ‘Rise Faithful Shepherd, of whom it is said, Hark! my lover knocks (Song of Songs 5:2)—with His four letters. Saying, Open for me, my sister, my friend, my dove, תַמָּתִי (tamati), my perfect one [lit., my complete one] (Songs of Songs 5:2). Because, תַּם (Tam), Complete, is the punishment of your iniquity, O daughter of Zion; He will no more carry you away into exile (Lamentations 4:22).’

For my head is filled with dew (Song of Songs 5:2). What is filled with dew? Rather, the blessed Holy One says, ‘Do you imagine that from the day the Holy Temple was destroyed I have entered My house, or I have entered My dwelling place? Not so! I have not entered at all since the time of your exile. Behold here is your sign: For my head is filled with טַל (tal), dew.’ הא [of the Holy Name spelled with ten letters] is Shekhinah in the exile [separated from Her lover יוד הא ואו, the blessed Holy One]. Her completion and Her life is טַל (tal), dew, and this is יוד הא ואו [which shares a numerical value of thirty-nine with טַל (tal), dew]. הא is the Shekhinah which is not of the טַל (tal), dew. But יוד הא ואו equals ל״ט thirty-nine. He fills the Shekhinah from the flowing of all the supernal sources. Immediately the Faithful Shepherd rose, and the holy patriarchs along with him. Until here the mystery of unification” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 17b).

For Your dew is a dew of lights (Isaiah 26:19)—him who makes use of the light of Torah will the light of Torah revive, but him who makes no use of the light of Torah the light of Torah will not revive” (BT Ketubbot 111b).


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