The Nut Garden

Gleanings of Zohar

A Jealous Fire: One Who Writes Down Halakhot is as One Who Burns the Torah

burnttorah“Rabbi El’azar said,… ‘You, cleaving to YHWH your God, are alive everyone of you today [Deuteronomy 4:4]. Now is it possible to cleave to Shekhinah, of whom it is written: YHWH your God is a devouring fire [ibid. 24]? Rather the meaning is: whoever marries his daughter to a disciple of the wise, conducts business on their behalf, or benefits them from his assets is regarded by scripture as if he cleaves to Shekhinah” (BT Ketubbot 111b, cf. BT Sotah 14a, where Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥanina explains that one can approach and withstand the consuming fire of Shekhinah by imitating the divine, e.g., by clothing the naked, visiting the sick, comforting mourners, and burying the dead).

“Rabbi Huna son of Rabbi Joshua would not walk four cubits bareheaded, saying: The שְׁכִינָה [Shekhinah] Divine Presence, is above my head” (BT Qiddushin 31b).

“The General Agrippa asked Rabban Gamaliel, ‘It is written in your Torah, For YHWH your God is a devouring אֵשׁ [esh] fire, a קַנָּא [qana] jealous, God [Deuteronomy 4:24]. Is a wise man jealous of any but a wise man, a warrior of any but a warrior, a rich man of any but a rich man?’ He replied, ‘I will give you a parable: To what is the matter like? To a man who marries an additional wife. If the second wife is her superior, the first will not be jealous of her, but if she is her inferior, the first wife will be jealous of her’” (BT Avodah Zarah 55a).

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘A word lingers here with us.’ He opened, saying, ‘Two verses are written: YHWH your God is a devouring fire [Deuteronomy 4:24], and You, cleaving to YHWH your God, are alive every one of you today [ibid., 4]. We have established these verses in various places, and the Companions have been aroused by them.

Come and see: For YHWH your God is a devouring fire. The word has been discussed among the Companions: There is a fire devouring fire, devouring and consuming it, for there is fire fiercer than fire, as they have established [see BT Yoma 21b]. But come and see: Whoever desires to penetrate the wisdom of holy unification should contemplate the flame ascending from a glowing ember or a burning candle. For flame ascends only when grasped by course substance” (Zohar 1:50b-51a).

“The blue [light of a flame] is the Shekhinah, the Judgment that devours sacrifices and burnt offerings. If She finds men to be as dry wood, like dry wicks without oil, which is Torah and Compassion, [She] is a fire to them and burns them” (Ra’aya Meheimna Tzav, cf. Zohar 2:166a).

“Rabbi Abba son of Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan [son of Nappaha]: One who writes down halakhot is as one who burns the Torah, and he who learns from them does not receive reward… Rabbi Yehudah the son of Nahum, the declaimer of Resh Lakish expounded: One may not recite oral teachings from a written document and one may not recite written teachings from memory. The school of Rabbi Ishmael taught: ‘Write for yourself these words’ [Exodus 34:27]. These words [i.e. the Written Torah] you may write, but you may not write halakhot” (BT Temurah 14b, cf. Gittin 60a-b; Guide of the Perplexed, 1:71).

“The Companions saw the face of Shekhinah and were encompassed by fire. Rabbi Abba’s face blazed in fire from rapture of Torah. It has been taught: All that day, none of them left the house, and the house was swathed in smoke. Words among them were fresh and ecstatic as if they were receiving Torah that very day from Mount Sinai! When they departed they did not know if it was day or night” (Zohar 1:94b, cf. Vayiqra Rabbah 16:4; Avot de-Rabbi Natan B, 13).

“As to what the rabbis have said: ‘Now is it possible for one to cleave to Shekhinah?—it certainly is!… Know and believe that there is a special quality to the essence of the purity of limbs that allows for man to hold fast to the Shekhinah even if She is a consuming fire” (Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, Sha’arei Orah, 166).

Better a Thing’s End than Its Beginning

IMG_0545.JPG“There is no evil that does not contain some good… there is nothing evil in its proper place” (Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, Secret of the Serpent).

“[Ben Azzai] used to say: Do not scorn any person and do not disdain anything; for there is no person who does not have his hour, and there is no thing that does not have its place” (M Avot 4:3).

“Rabbi Shim’on was walking on the way, accompanied by Rabbi El’azar, Rabbi Abba, Rabbi Yehudah, Rabbi Ḥiyya, and Rabbi Yose. They came to a certain obstructive watercourse [which people make in their fields (Sullam)], and Rabbi Yose slipped into the water fully clothed. He said, ‘This construction of measured water—I wish that it didn’t exist!’ Rabbi Shim’on said to him, ‘You are forbidden! This serves the world, and one must not treat contemptusly those who are of service to the blessed Holy One, especially since they are fashioned genuinely [according to the laws of celestial providence; this action has a root above (Sullam)].

He opened, saying, ‘God saw all He had made, and look, it was very good [Genesis 1:31]—existing according to the laws of supernal authority. God saw all that He had made—without qualification: even snakes, scorpions, and mosquitoes, and even that which seems to harm the world. Concerning all of them, it is written and look, it was very good. All of them serve the world, conduct the world, though people do not know [cf. Shemot Rabbah 10:1].’

As they were walking along, they saw a snake leading the way. Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Surely, this one is about to perform a miracle for us!’ That snake slithered quickly in front of them and tangled with a viper diametrically across the road. They fought one another and died. When they reached them, they saw them both lying on the road. Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Blessed is the Compassionate One who has performed a miracle for us! For if anyone looks at this [viper] while it is alive, or is looked upon by it, he is doomed, all the more so if he approaches it.’ He proclaimed over himself, ‘No evil will befall you, nor affliction draw near your tent. For His angels He will command for you, to guard you on all your ways [Psalms 91:10-11]. By all things the blessed Holy One fulfills His commission, and we must not treat contemptuously anything He has made. Thus it is written YHWH is good to all, and His compassion is over all His creatures, and similarly: All your creatures, YHWH, acclaim You [ibid.145:9-10]'” (Zohar 3:107a).

“It is related of Naḥum of Gamzu that he was blind in both his eyes, his two hands and legs were amputated—and his whole body was covered with boils and he was lying in a dilapidated house on a bed the feet of which were standing in bowls of water in order to prevent the ants from crawling on to him. On one occasion his disciples desired to remove the bed and then clear the things out of the house, but he said to them, My children, first clear out the things [from the house] and then remove my bed for I am confident that so long as I am in the house it will not collapse. They first cleared out the things and then they removed his bed and the house [immediately] collapsed. Thereupon his disciples said to him, Master, since you are wholly righteous, why has all this befallen you? and he replied, I have brought it all upon myself. Once I was journeying on the road and was making for the house of my father-in-law and I had with me three donkeys, one laden with food, one with drink and one with all kinds of dainties, when a poor man met me and stopped me on the road and said to me, Master, give me something to eat. I replied to him, Wait until I have unloaded something from the donkey; I had hardly managed to unload something from the donkey when the man died [from hunger]. I then went and laid myself on him and exclaimed, May my eyes which had no pity upon your eyes become blind, may my hands which had no pity upon your hands be cut off, may my legs which had no pity upon your legs be amputated, and my mind was not at rest until I added, may my whole body be covered with boils. Thereupon his pupils exclaimed, ‘Alas! that we see you in such a sore plight’. To this he replied, ‘Woe would it be to me did you not see me in such a sore plight’ [cf. BT Shabbat 33b: (Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai said:) If you did not see me in such a state you would not find me thus (learned)]. Why was he called Naḥum of Gamzu?—Because whatever befell him he would declare, גַם זוֹ לְטוֹבַה [gam zo le-tovah] This also is for good.

Once the Jews desired to send to the Emperor a gift and after discussing who should go they decided that Naḥum of Gamzu should go because he had experienced many miracles. They sent with him a bagfull of precious stones and pearls. He went and spent the night in a certain inn and during the night the people in the inn arose and emptied the bag and filled it up with earth. When he discovered this next morning he exclaimed, This also is for the good. When he arrived at his destination and they undid his bag they found that it was full of earth. The king thereupon desired to put them to death saying, The Jews are mocking me. Naḥum then exclaimed, This also is for good.

Whereupon Elijah appeared in the guise of one of them and remarked, Perhaps this is some of the earth of their father Abraham, and when [he threw] stubble it changed into arrows, for it is written, [Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his feet, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? He gave them as the dust to] his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow [Isaiah 41:2]. Now there was one province which [the emperor had hitherto] not been able to conquer but when they tried some of this earth [against it] they were able to conquer it. Then they took him [Naḥum] to the royal treasury and filled his bag with precious stones and pearls and sent him back with great honour. When on his return journey he again spent the night in the same inn he was asked, What did you take [to the king] that they showed you such great honour? He replied, I brought there what I had taken from here. [The innkeepers] thereupon razed the inn to the ground and took of the earth to the king and they said to him, The earth that was brought to you belonged to us. They tested it and it was not found to be [effective] and the innkeepers were thereupon put to death (BT Ta’anit 21a).

Better a things end than its beginning (Ecclesiastes 7:8).

“Rabbi Akiva walked down the road of a village. He asked for a place to stay, but none was offered. He said, ‘All that the blessed Holy One does is for good.’ He went and slept in a field in which there was a rooster, wine and a lamp. A wind came and blew out the lamp, a cat came and ate the rooster and a lion came and drank the wine. He said, ‘All that the blessed Holy One does is for the good.’ That night an army came and took the town captive. Rabbi Akiva said, ‘Didn’t I tell you that all that the blessed Holy One does is for good!’” (BT Berakhot 60b).

“This is the sin of the primordial serpent: he joined below and it separated above. So he caused what he caused to the world. For one should separate below and join above… one should realize that יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים is entirely one, indivisible. יְהוָה is הָאֱלֹהִים. Once one realizes all is one and does not impose division, even that Other Side will disappear from the world, not be drawn below” (Zohar 1:12b, cf. Guide of the Perplexed 3:10: The true reality of the act of God in its entirety is the good).

Bread of Shame

image“The hater of gifts shall live” (Proverbs 15:27).

“One who eats from his friend’s food is ashamed to look at him” (JT Orlah 1:5, 61b).

“Before souls come to the world, they resemble one who eats the bread of the King without serving Him…. Souls feel ashamed to eat the bread of the King without serving Him, and therefore they yearn to come to the world…. so as to leave that shame; they seek to come to this world, to engage in Torah and mitsvot…. so that they may eat bread without shame” (Rabbi Joseph Karo, Maggid Meisharim, Bereshit, cf. Zohar 2:87a Sava de-Mishpatim: The blessed Holy One says, ‘From the day you were created, for this were you created: to be in that world.’ Once the soul sees this she descends unwillingly and enters there).

“Rabbi Yehudah opened, ‘Is it not to share your bread with the hungry? [Isaiah 58:7]. Come and see: Happy is one’s portion when he encounters a poor person! For a poor person is a gift that the blessed Holy One has sent to him. Happy is the share of one who receives that gift cheerfully!…’ Is it not to share your bread with the hungry? What is פָרֹס [paros] to share? לְמִפְרַס [Le-miphras] to spread, a tablecloth with bread and food to eat. Alternatively, Is it not פָרֹס [parosto share?—as is said: פְּרֵס פְּרִיסַת [Pereis perisat], פְּרֵס [pereis]—has been divided [Daniel 5:28], for one should לְמִפְרַס פְּרִיסִין [le-miphras perisin] break pieces, of bread before him so that he will not feel ashamed, and one should break it before him generously” (Zohar 2:198a).

“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 Baba Batra 110a).

“Our Rabbis taught: It once happened that a man’s wife died and left behind a nursing child, and the man could not afford to pay a wet-nurse. A miracle happened to him and his breasts opened like a woman’s breasts and he nursed his son. Rabbi Yosef said, ‘Come and see how great was this man, that such a miracle was performed on his account!’ Abayye said to him, ‘Just the opposite: how terrible was this man, that his body was changed!’ Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Come and see how difficult it is to attain food for a person—so much so that his body was changed!’ Rabbi Naḥman said: Know that miracles do occur, but food is not simply created” (BT Shabbat 53b).

“A person should not embolden himself to say: ‘The blessed Holy One will save me,’ or ‘He will do this for me.’ Rather, he should place his strength in the blessed Holy One, to help him fulfill the commandments of Torah and walk in the way of truth, for as soon as one comes to purify himself, he is certainly assisted [cf. BT Shabbat 104a]. So should one fortify himself in the blessed Holy One – in order that He may help him – holding fast to Him, not placing his strength in another. So, whose strength is in You [Psalms 84:5]” (Zohar 1:142a).

“Happy all who fear YHWH, who walk in His ways. When you eat of the toil of your hands, happy are you, and it is good for you” (Psalms 128:2).

“One who supports himself from his own labor is greater than 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 neighbor’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).

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).


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