The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Mountains Hanging by a Hair, Baked Bread, the Bride and Her Royal Tailors

“The הֲלָכוֹת (halakhot), ways of conduct, concerning the Sabbath, Festal-offerings and acts of trespass are as mountains hanging by a hair, for they have scant Scriptural basis but many halakhot” (BT Ḥagigah 10a, cf. Deuteronomy 30:12; BT Bava Metsi’a 59b).

“What is the difference between Scripture and Mishnah [i.e., the Written Torah and the Oral Torah]? They told a parable. To what may this be compared? To a king of flesh and blood who had two servants, whom he loved completely. He gave each of them a measure of wheat and a bundle of flax. The wise one of them—what did he do? He took the flax and wove it into cloth. He took the wheat and made it into flour. He sifted it, grounded, needed, and baked it, and then set it on the table and spread the cloth over it. He left it until the king arrived. The foolish of the two did nothing at all.

After sometime, the king came to his palace and said to them, ‘my children, bring me what I gave to you.’ One brought out the [bread baked with] fine flour on the table covered with cloth, and the other brought wheat in a box with the bundle of flax on top. Woe for that shame! Woe for that disgrace! You must admit: which of them is more beloved? Obviously, he who laid out the table with the [bread baked of] fine flour on it…. When the blessed Holy One gave the Torah to Israel, he gave it to them as wheat from which to produce fine flour, and as flax from which to produce both” (Seder Eliyyahu Zuta 2, cf. Zohar 2:176a–b).

“Rabbi Shim’on opened, saying, ‘Oh, Let him kiss me with his mouth’s kisses (Song of Songs 1:2). Oral Torah said this to Written Torah—pursuing His sweetness, uniting with one another through those kisses.

When She is in the midst of her maidens’ dispute regarding Her adornment, all of them striving to be ornaments for Written Torah, She joins and is embraced by the Written Torah in bliss—in a single bond—and He kisses Her amorously. Then, invigorated by Him, She says to Him with affection, ‘How much more precious are Your caresses than Your wine! Your love has seized me, intoxicating me with the wine of love, securing Me to You!’

Oral Torah receives magnificent adornment from Her maidens, uniting with Written Torah. Mishnah—crown of the head, mystery of fitting adornment. Baraita—mystery of embellishment of thighs and feet. Body—maidens approach with the fitting array, coming close to decorate Her. One says, ‘מוּתָר (Mutar), Permissible,’ and one says, אָסוּר (Asur), Forbidden’—this is ornamenting the bride, as they adorn Her. One says, ‘This jewel goes like so,’ and the other responds, ‘No, not like that. Surely, regarding the adornment for the head, the headdress is אָסוּר (asur), tied, and the headdress is fastened like this.’ And the other one says, ‘The headdress is מוּתָר (mutar), loosened, on this side—and אָסוּר (asur), tied, and fastened on this side.’ ‘This golden brooch on the body’s garment—it is פָּסוּל (pasul), unfit, to have this ornament there.’ This one says, ‘It is כָּשֵׁר (kasher), fit, and appropriate to dislay this one together with that one’—all enhancement and adornment of the bride [in speaking of קִשׁוּט (qishut), ornament, an allusion to קֶשׁוֹט (qeshot), truth, may be intended, hinting at the significance of the rabbinic rivalries (Hecker)].

In any event, as long as they beautify, flinging disputes about ornaments, She is enhanced in power, beauty, color, and refinement by them—sitting gloriously among them, feeling beautified by more than a hundred-fold [cf. BT agigah 9b in the name of Hillel]. After She has been adorned by them, they all take hold of Her by Her ornaments and beautiful embellishments, bringing Her to the King—Written Torah. When Matronita sits with the King, refined in Her beauty, and the King sees Her exquisitely adorned, that ornament proclaims that the King should kiss Her—for that is the cleaving of love, being enfolded in one another.

Who initiates those kisses and that love? Those maidens who adorned Her. When She and the King wish to bestow goodness upon the maidens—gifts for them all—they are given to them all at once. Even though they have contended with one another about the ornaments, the King and Matronita bestow gifts and presents with goodwill and affections, endowing them with an inheritance of a thousand worlds of longing for the World that is Coming. All the more so for those who know mysteries of wisdom, adorning embellishments, for there is no measure of their inherited legacy. Of them is written So I may endow my lovers with substance, and fill their storehouses (Proverbs 8:21)'” (Zohar Ḥadash 64a).

“There are likewise a number of verses where the Masters of Mishnah expand or restrict, according to [the principles] of amplification and diminution, and there are also cases [in which a letter is] added, as is said: ‘Do not read מַה (mah), what, but מֵאָה (me’ah), one hundred’ (BT Menaḥot 43b)…. Certain words that are written in the abbreviated spelling [are expounded] as though written out in full, and other [words] that are written out in full are as though written out in abbreviated form. About these and about all sorts of explanations that can be made to embellish the bride in Her ornaments, the blessed Holy One commanded us to do as they say, and to trust them, as is written: According to the teaching that they instruct you [and according to the judgment that they say to you, you shall do, you shall not swerve from the word that they tell you right or left] (Deuteronomy 17:11).

[This is like] a tailor who has cut cloth in order to make royal garments, and has made many pieces from them. Those who know the places where those pieces are missing [and are familiar with] the pieces which remain will be able to make the garments, for the pieces that have been collected together are placed where they are missing, and pieces that are too small are added to. And this is the true meaning of: According to the teaching that they instruct you. And you might well ask that, if this is so, what about the case where one of them occasionally errs and says, ‘I recant.’ Before issuing instructions concerning that matter about which there is a difference of opinion, the one who poses the difficulty can say, ‘I withdraw.’ For not all of those who make the parts of a bride’s ornaments know where each piece goes, until the ruling is made [and prior to when] resolutions to the arguments of the הֲלָכוֹת (halakhot), ways of conduct, have been given [הֲלָכָה (Halakhah) alludes to the many ornaments made for הַכַּלָה (ha-Kalah), the Bride, Oral Torah, Shekhinah]” (Zohar 3:254b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

A Crown, Throne, and Footstool

the-praying-jew

A virtuous woman is a crown for her husband (Proverbs 12:4).

“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 Devout, ‘This teaches us that the blessed Holy One showed Moses the knot of tefillin [at the back of His head]’” (BT Berakhot 7a).

He flung from the heavens to earth the beauty of Israel (Lamentations 2:1)…. A parable: A king had a lovely diadem upon his head and a lovely mantle upon his shoulder. An evil rumor came to him and he flung the diadem from upon his head and the mantle from before him [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 75:4]” (Bahir §§32–33).

“What was the King’s daughter? י (Yod) over הוה (HWH), included with the patriarchs. ה (He)—first with Abraham; he—second with Isaac; ו (vav)—with Jacob. Now, yod was head over them, as is said, The crown of our head has fallen (Lamentations 5:16). And the Rabbis compared this to a king who had a diadem on his head and a lovely mantle before him. An evil rumor came to him, [and] he flung the diadem from his head. And what was י (yod) over יהוה (YHWH)? Yod above became, הוהי (HWHY)—yod below. Thus David said, The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone (Psalms 118:22)” (Zohar 2:79b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

“[Rabbi Akiva’s] disciples asked him: Why is ד (dalet) wide [open], at the side? He said to them: The segol which is פַּתָּח הַקָּטָן (pataḥ ha-qatan), the small pataḥ, as it says, [Lift up your heads, O gates, and rise up] פִּתְחֵי (pitḥei), portals, of the world, [that the king of glory may enter] (Psalms 24:7). He set ַ   (pataḥ) above and ֶ   (segol) below, and [thus] she came [to be] wide [open]. What is pataḥ? פֶּתַח (Petaḥ), an opening. Which opening? The north wind, open to all the world—the gate from which Evil emerges and Good emerges. And what is Good? He mocked them: Didn’t I tell you פֶּתַח קָטָן (petaḥ qatan), a small opening? They said to him: We have forgotten, repeat it for us. He said to them: A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king had a throne. Sometimes he takes it in his arm, and sometimes on his head. They asked him: Why? [He said to them:] Because it was lovely and it was a pity to sit on it. They said to him: And where does he set it on the head? He said to them: On the open מ (mem), as is said: Truth from the earth will spring up, as justice from the heavens looks down (Psalms 85:12)” (Bahir §37).

Your deed, in the midst of years revive it (Habakkuk 3:2). A parable: To what can this be compared? To a king had a goodly pearl, beloved of his kingdom. In his time of joy, he would embrace it and kiss it, place it on his head and would love it. Habakkuk said to him: Even though the kings are with you, this pearl is the beloved of your world. Therefore, Your deed, in the midst of years revive it. What is years? As is written, And God said, ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3). Light—none other than day, as is written, The great light for dominion of day and the small light for dominion of night (Genesis 1:16). Years are [made up of] days, as is written, Your deed, in the midst of years revive it. In the midst of—this pearl that gives birth to years.

And [so] it is written, From the east I will bring your seed (Isaiah 43:5). The sun rises in the east yet you say that the pearl is day! [He replied,] I did not say [anything] except and it was evening and it was morning, first day (Genesis 1:5), as is written, On the day YHWH Elohim made earth and heavens (Genesis 2:4)” (Bahir §§72–73).

“’Israel are crowned with three crowns: the crown of priesthood, the crown of kingship, and the crown of Torah which is higher than both’ (M Avot 4:13). Indeed, there is a crown of priesthood, a crown of kingship, and the crown of Torah is above them both. To what may this be compared? To a king who had a lovely and fragrant vessel which he adored. Sometimes he puts it on his head—tefillin of the head. Sometimes he carried it in his hand—the knot of the tefillin of the hand. Sometimes he lends it to his son to sit with him. Sometimes it is called כִּסְאוֹ (kiso), ‘his throne,’ for he takes it in his hand as an amulet—like the appearance of כָּסָא (kasa), a cup [cf. Zohar 1:1a; Zohar 2:43a (RM)]” (Bahir §152).

“’On the heads of your new moons, [you shall present an ascent offering to YHWH] (Numbers 28:11). Now, how many heads does the moon have?’ (Zohar 3:248a)—there are two points, like so: ֶ  (segol)—Moon is the lower point. The two heads above are two points of segol over Her. First she was כֶּתֶר (keter), a crown, on two kings, like so:  ֒ (segolta). And following this was said, ‘Can two kings possibly wear one crown?’ (BT Ḥullin 60b). The blessed Holy One said, ‘Go, diminish yourself!’ (ibid.). She settled under the two kings’ feet. Like so: ֶ  (segol). What had been  ֒ (segolta) became ֶ  (segol)….

Consequently, ‘”Bring an atonement עָלַי (ali), for Me [because I diminished the moon]”‘ (BT Ḥullin 60b)—for Moon was surely כֶּתֶר (keter), a crown, ‘ali, over Me.’ Like so: ֹ  (ḥolem). And afterwards She was diminished and [came to] settle under His feet, like so: ֶ  (segol). And at the time of ‘bring an atonement for Me,’ it is said of Her, הִוא הָעֹלָה (hi ha-olah), she is the ascent offering (Leviticus 6:3). For She rises from [under] His feet, as is said, And the earth is My footstool (Isaiah 66:1), [that] it may be said of Her, The heavens are My throne (ibid.). And this is the mystery of [He who rules men,] צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq), the Righteous One, who rules in the fear of Elohim (2 Samuel 23:3). For He overturns Judgment for Compassion [see BT Yevamot 64a]. And the mystery of the matter, The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone (Psalms 118:22)” (Zohar 3:248a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

A Flame Bound to a Burning Coal

20091216212726_match_and_flame

“Ten סְפִירוּת בְּלִימָה (sefirot belimah), ciphers of emptiness. Their measure is ten, yet infinite. Their end is embedded in their beginning, their beginning in their end, like a flame bound to a burning coal. Know, contemplate, and visualize that the Maker is one, without a second. Before one what can you count?” (Sefer Yetsirah §6 [MS A]).

“Come and see! In a flame ascending are two lights: one white light, radiant: the other, a light tinged with black or blue. The white light is above, ascending, unswervingly, while beneath it is the blue or black light, a throne for the white, which rests upon it, each embracing the other, becoming one. This black light colored blue, below, is a throne of glory for the white—here lies the mystery of the thread of blue. This blue-black throne is grasped by another substance below, so it can flame, arousing it to embrace the white light. Sometimes this blue-black turns red, while the white light above never wavers, constantly white. This blue one, though, changes color: sometimes blue or black, sometimes red [sometimes green]. This is grasped in two directions: above, by that white light; below, by what lies beneath, by which it is fuelled, primed to glow. This constantly consumes and devours what is placed beneath it, for the blue light consumes anything cleaving below, anything it rests upon, since by nature it consumes and devours. On it depends destruction and death of all… Above the white light hovers a concealed light, encompassing it. Here abides supernal mystery. You will discover all in the ascending flame, wisdoms of the highest” (Zohar 1:51a).

“House of Shammai say that a נְהוֹרָא (nehora), light, is comprised only of one nehora, light, while House of Hillel say that there are several. They also taught: House of Hillel said to House of Shammai: There are several מְאוֹרוֹת (me’orot), lights, in אוֹר (or), light (Isaiah 45:7)” (BT Berakhot 52b).

“Come and see: נֶפֶשׁ (Nefesh), Soul—lower arousal, cleaving to the body like the light of a candle. The lower light, which is black, cleaves to the wick, never parting from it, arrayed by it alone. Once arrayed by the wick, it becomes a throne for the white light settling upon the black light. When both are arrayed, the white light becomes a throne for a concealed light—invisible, unknowable—settling upon the white light. Then the light is perfect” (Zohar 1:83b).

“Wood whose light does not ascend—let them strike it, and it will flash. A body in which the light of the soul does not ascend—let them strike it, and the radiance of the soul will ascend; they will unite with one another, shining” (Zohar 3:168a).

“Every wise person has his eyes and his words on his head, focused on [Shekhinah] who is resting right there. With his eyes there he knows that the light kindled on his head needs oil. For the human body is a wick, and a light is kindled above. King Solomon cried out: Let… your head not lack oil (Ecclesiastes 9:8)—the light on one’s head needs oil, the oil of good deeds!” (Zohar 3:187a).

“Come and see: One flame, slender, burning—[from it] all the world is filled. Regard: A thin piece of wood is kindling for a thick one” (Zohar 3:240b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Like a lamp from which many lamps are lit while retaining its vitality” (Zohar 2:86b).

“Once the light of a lamp clings to the wick, that light is never still, but rather sways back and forth, never staying still. Similarly with Israel, whose souls derive from that light of the Lamp. As soon as they cling to words of Torah, the light is kindled—they cannot keep still; they sway back and forth and in all directions like the light of a lamp, for it is written: The soul of a human is the נֵר (ner), lamp, of YHWH (Proverbs 20:27)” (Zohar 3:219a, cf. Ba’al ha-Turim on Exodus 20:15; Kuzari 2:79).

“What is נֵר (ner), candle? נְשָׁמָה (Neshamah), soul, רוּחַ (ruaḥ), spirit” (Zohar 2:99b).