The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Send Off the Mother: Let Understanding Go

Rav Raḥmai said: What is You shall surely send off the mother, and the children you may take for yourself? (Deuteronomy 22:7). Why does it not say, You shall surely send off the father? But it says, You shall surely send off the mother in honor of the one who is called Mother of the World, as is written, For you will call בִּינָה (binah), understanding, ‘Mother’ (Proverbs 2:3)” (Bahir §§104–105).

“Ten fingers of the hands, corresponding to ten sefirot by which the heavens and earth were sealed. And these ten correspond to the Ten Utterances [or: Commandments], and within these ten all 613 mitsvot are included: If you count the number of letters of the Ten Utterances you will find that there are 613 letters, comprising all twenty-two letters, except for ט (tet) which is absent. What is the reason? To teach that ט (tet) is the בֶּטֶן (beten), belly [Binah or Malkhut], and is not [reckoned with] the sefirot” (Bahir §124, cf. ibid. §84).

And the offspring you may take for yourself (Deuteronomy 22:7)…. This is a sign of compassion? Whoever says this has spoken folly! Someone with pity would have left the mother and children, and continued on his way!” (Zohar Ḥadash 77b, cf. TZ 23a).

“Mother crouches over them, suckling them, and of this is written Do not take the mother above the children (Deuteronomy 22:6). And we have learned: One should not increase his sins below, causing Mother to withdraw from the children. It is also written: She is your mother—do not expose her nakedness (Leviticus 18:7). Woe to one who exposes Her nakedness!” (Zohar 1:219a).

“The blessed Holy One conveys a flow of seven rungs below into that rung united with those seven. Now, you might say, ‘But there are six, and no more!’ Well, Mother is then sitting upon the fledglings, crouching over them, and we get Her to fly away, and we take those six children along with this rung below—fulling the verse that is written: Surely send off the mother, and the children you may take for yourself (Deuteronomy 22:7).

Rav Hamnuna Sava said, ‘On this day [Shavu’ot], Israel takes only five children, who are the five books of Torah.’

Now, you might say, ‘There are six!’ Well, really, there are seven, counting one bird found between the wings of Mother.

The people of Israel know how to hunt for great and precious game. What do they do? They draw out that bird [Shekhinah] from beneath the wings of Mother by murmuring of the mouth, whispering toward Her again and again. And that bird loves those murmurings and those sounds that they whisper to Her. Although She is beneath the wings of Her Mother, She raises Her head, gazes toward that whispering sound, and flies to them, emerging from beneath Her Mother’s wings.

As soon as the people of Israel receive Her, they hold Her tight, whispering to Her, binding Her in a bind so that She will not fly away. They immediately grasp that bond, and She tries to fly off but cannot get away. While that bond is in their hands, they whisper with their voices and She chirps along with them, flying up and descending.

When all those Sons beneath the wings of their Mother hear the chirping of their Sister—that bird—and that whispering sound, they immediately emerge from beneath their Mother’s wings and fly toward that bird, and the people of Israel take them and grasp them. Were it not for that bird whom they grasp at first, [the Sons] would never fly to them and they could not grasp them.

How do they capture this holy bird? They prepare precious food for Her joyously with all sorts of delights, entering the synagogue and house of study—chirping to Her, whispering to Her softly, fittingly. And She, concealed beneath Her Mother’s wings, raises Her head and sees prepared tables, with chirping toward Her fittingly; She emerges and flies to them, as has been said, with all those Sons grasping Her.

They send off the Mother who is crouching over them, and She goes away. Because from the seventh heaven and above—’What is concealed from you, do not explore or search.’ Send it off, for you will not be able to comprehend. Of this is written Surely send off the mother, and the children you may take for yourself, so that it may go well with you and you will prolong your days (Deuteronomy 22:7)” (Zohar 3:254b).

Nothing but Soul!

“Rav Ami said: There is no death without sin, and there is no suffering without crime. There is no death without sin, as is written, The soul that sins, she shall die. The son shall not bear the crime of the father, neither shall the father bear the crime of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him (Ezekiel 18:20). There is no suffering without crime, as is written, I will requite their crime with the rod, and with plagues, their wrongdoing (Psalms 89:33)” (BT Shabbat 55a).

“Rava (some say, Rav Ḥisda) says: If a man sees that painful sufferings have befallen him, let him examine his deeds. For it is said: Let us search and examine our ways, and turn again to YHWH (Lamentations 3:40). If he examines and finds nothing [objectionable], let him attribute it to the neglect of Torah. For it is said: Happy the man whom Yah chastises, and whom from His teaching He instructs (Psalms 94:12). If he did attribute it [thus], and still did not find [this to be the cause], let him be sure that these are chastenings of love [see Zohar 1:180b, 181a]. For it is said: For whom YHWH loves He rebukes (Proverbs 3:12).

Rava, in the name of Rav Seḥora, in the name of Rav Huna, says: If the blessed Holy One is pleased with a man, he crushes him with painful sufferings. For it is said: YHWH delights in crushing him by disease (Isaiah 53:10). Now, you might think that this is so even if he did not accept them with love. Therefore it is said: to see if his soul would offer itself as a trespass-offering (ibid.). Even as the trespass-offering must be brought by consent, so also the sufferings must be endured with consent. And if he did accept them, what is his reward? He shall see his seed, He shall prolong his days (ibid.). And more than that, his learning will endure, as is said: and the will of YHWH shall prosper in his hand (ibid.)” (BT Berakhot 5a).

“When the blessed Holy One delights in the righteous, what is written? YHWH delights in crushing him by disease (Isaiah 53:10). This has been established, but the reason is that the delight of the blessed Holy One focuses only on soul, not on body; for soul resembles soul, while body is incapable of uniting above—even though the body’s image abides in supernal mystery” (Zohar 1:140b).

“When the human was created, what is written? You clothed me in skin and flesh (Job 10:11). What then is the human if not skin and flesh, and bones and sinews? But surely the human being is nothing but soul! And these that we have mentioned—skin, flesh, bones, and sinews are all merely a garment; they are a person’s clothing not the human. And when a person departs, he is stripped of those garments that he is wearing” (Zohar 2:76a).