Israel: Heart of the Whole World
“And look, it is well known that all members of the body absorb everything, while the heart cannot absorb even a thread of a strand of hair!” (Zohar 2:108a).
“There are three rulers above, through whom the blessed Holy One is known, and they are His precious mystery: מוֹחָא (moḥa), the brain, לִבָּא (libba), the heart, and כַבְדָּא (khavdda), the liver [—מֶלֶך (melekh), King]. They act the opposite of this world. Above, the brain receives first, and then gives to the heart; the heart receives and gives to the liver, and then the liver gives a portion to all those sources below, every single one fittingly. Below, the liver receives first, and then brings all near the heart, and the heart receives. Once it has received and been invigorated, from the very vigor and delight that it received, it gives to the brain, stimulating it. Then, the liver resumes distributing to all sources of the body” (Zohar 2:152b–153a, cf. ibid. 1:139a [MhN]).
“If Assembly of Israel did not initiate arousal, the one above would not be aroused toward Her. By desire below, all is consummated” (Zohar 1:35a).
“[Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said:] Scripture says: [Away, away, flee from the land of the north, said YHWH,] for like the four winds of the heavens did I spread you out, said YHWH (Zechariah 2:10). What did He say to them? Should you say that the blessed Holy One said to Israel as follows: I have spread you out to the four winds [i.e., directions] of the world, if so, why did He say like the four [winds]? He should have said to the four [winds]! Rather, this is what He meant: Just as the world cannot endure without winds, so too the world cannot exist without Israel” (BT Ta’anit 3b, cf. Zohar 2:5b [MhN]).
“Surely we are closer to the supernal King than all other nations! Surely it is so, for the blessed Holy One made Israel the heart of the whole world. So is Israel among the other nations: the heart among the limbs of the body. All inhabitants of the world are the limbs, while Israel is the heart in their midst; and if Israel did not exist in the world, no nations could endure for even a moment—like limbs without a heart. Therefore they are in the middle of the whole world—the heart within the limbs.
Israel conducts herself among the other nations like the heart among the limbs. The heart is tender and weak, yet it is the vitality of all the limbs. None of the limbs knows pain, distress, and agony at all, only the heart, containing vitality and intelligence. [Pain] comes nowhere near the other limbs, since they have no vitality and know nothing. None of the other limbs come near the king—who is intelligence and wisdom located in the brain—only the heart. The other limbs are far from him and know nothing about him. Similarly, Israel is close to the Holy King, whereas the other nations are far from Him [cf. Kuzari 2:25–44; Tanḥuma, Qedoshim 10]….
Israel eats no animal that has not been slaughtered properly or is diseased or defective, or the dirty filth of detestable and creeping things, as do other nations…. For, in fact, the heart—which is tender and weak, yet king and vitality of all the other limbs—takes for its nourishment only the purest and clearest of all blood, so its food is cleanest and most refined of all, whereas the remaining refuse it leaves for all the other limbs. These other limbs do not care about this; rather, they take the refuse and the worst and most foul of all—and they are fittingly strong [cf. Kuzari 2:41].
Consequently, among the other limbs there are blisters, inflammation, rash, and scaly affliction; whereas for the heart, none of these at all. Rather, it is cleanest and purest of all, with no blemish whatsoever. Concerning this it is written: You are wholly beautiful, my love; there is no blemish in you (Song of Songs 4:7).
Rabbi Yose came and kissed his hands. He said, ‘If I have come into the world just to hear this, it is enough!'” (Zohar 3:221a–b, cf. BT Yoma 39a; Zohar 2:125b; 3:41b–42a, 75b).
“The Faithful Shepherd said, ‘Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai], it is certain that אִצְטוֹמְכָא (itstomkha), the rumen [or: אִסְטוֹמְכָא (istomkha), see BT Ḥullin 50b], takes everything up to six hours and bakes [cf. Zohar 2:125b]. For the rumen is a baker. And the lung is a cupbearer. The heart is king, and these two are certainly the baker and the cupbearer who give to the king of the choicest of food and drinks, for he is the head of them all and the choicest of them all. And this is the meaning of what is written: I have gathered my myrrh with my perfume, I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey, I have drunk my wine with my milk (Song of Songs 5:1). Eat, friends, and drink, be drunk with loving (ibid.)—the other parts of the body [i.e., the Companions], the armies and camps of the king who distribute food to them by means of the chief baker while drink is by means of the chief cupbearer [i.e., the lung. On the chief baker and the chief cupbearer see Genesis 40, cf. Zohar 1:192a]….
And in the primary composition of the first part [Zohar 3:235b], the Faithful Shepherd [Moses] opened, saying, ‘Woe to those people whose hearts are closed and whose eyes are unseeing, who do not know the organs of their own body and according to what they are arranged. For the trachea is composed of three forces: הֶבֶל (hevel), vapor, לַהַב אֵשׁ (lahav esh), a flash of fire—issuing from the heart and split into seven vapors as said by Qohelet [there are seven iterations of הֶבֶל (hevel) in Ecclesiastes 1:2, see BT Bava Batra 100b]—and air, entering from outside. Water of the lobes of the lung which are attached to the trachea. And from these three—water, air, and fire—Voice is assisted, and each one is split into seven, and they are seven flashes, seven climates, and seven streams [see Zohar 2:30b; 3:10a].
And when the flashes of the heart meet with the rain clouds, which are the wings of the lung, by way of the trachea of the lung, the result is: And His might’s thunder who can grasp? (Job 26:14). For therein the heart understands with Binah, which is in the heart on the left, Gevurah. And Ḥesed is to the right, the water of the wings of the lung, and Ḥokhmah, which is brain, is there [Ḥesed and Gevurah ascend becoming Ḥokhmah and Binah (Sullam)]. And from it comes a garden spring, a garden of fresh water and streams from לְבָנוֹן (Levanon), Lebanon (Song of Songs 4:15)—לִּבּוּנָא (libbuna), whiteness, of the brain that trickles through the trachea of the lung, after the clouds of Binah have ascended to the brain [cf. Zohar 3:135b (IR)].
And the mystery of the matter is in: Who is this coming up from the desert like a pillar of smoke [perfumed with myrrh and frankincense from all the merchant’s powders?] (Song of Songs 3:6). For this is smoke of the arrangement on the altar that rises from the heart to the brain, which cannot be moved from its place by all the breaths of the world. חָכְמָה (Ḥokhmah), Wisdom—כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, [of] מ״ה (forty-five) [i.e., יוד הא ואו הא (YHWH) numerically equivalent to forty-five]: כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, in the heart and מָה (mah), What, in the brain. The trachea is Tif’eret and incorporates six sefirot which are the six rungs to the Throne, Mother, so that Ḥokhmah from the brain will rest on the heart, for with it the heart understands. For this reason: קְנֵה חָכְמָה קְנֵה בִינָה (Qeneh Ḥokhmah, qeneh Vinah), Get wisdom, get understanding (Proverbs 4:5). Father descends with Her; Father ascends with Her. And this is a ladder on which two ascend and two descend” (Zohar 3:234b–235a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).