The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Night Vision

Starry_Night_Over_the_Rhone“There is a visionary mirror reflecting supernal colors, envisioned in that visionary mirror [Shekhinah]; there is vision within vision, and vision within vision, one above the other, all poised on specific rungs, presiding, called night vision (Daniel 2:19). Through them spread all dreams of the world, these resembling those above” (Zohar 1:196a).

“Come and see: All prophets of the world absorb from a single facet, through two known rungs [Netsaḥ and Hod which are considered a single field of prophetic vision]. Those rungs appeared through a dim glass, as is written: בַּמַּרְאָה (ba-mar’ah), in a vision, I make Myself known to him (Numbers 12:6). Who is ba-mar’ah? As has been said: a mirror in which all colors appear; this is the dim glass” (Zohar 1:183a, cf. ibid. 2:82b).

“[Moses the Faithful Shepherd] said ‘[Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai,] Holy Lamp, this vision is at times preceded by the letter ה (he), as in, And it was according to the appearance of הַמַּרְאֶה (ha-mar’eh), the vision [which I saw] (Ezekiel 43:3) and at times by the letter ב (bet), as in, I make Myself known to him בַּמַּרְאָה (ba-mar’ah), in a vision (Numbers 12:6); at times by מ (mem), as in, מִמַּרְאֵה (mi-mar’eh), from the appearance, of his waist and downward (Ezekiel 1:27), at times with כ (kaf), as in, כְּמַרְאֵה (ke-mar’eh), as the appearance, of a man upon it (ibid., 26); sometimes by ו (vav), as in, וּמַרְאֵה (u-mar’eh), And the sight, of the glory of YHWH (Exodus 24:17), and ל (lamed), as in, as soon as she לְמַרְאֵה (le-mar’eh), saw, them with her eyes (Ezekiel 23:16). Yet it did not need an additional letter at all except ב (bet) of בַּמַּרְאָה (ba-mar’ah). But surely this mirror [Shekhinah] comprehends ten sefirot, and each letter indicates its sefirah, namely כְּמַרְאֵה (ke-mar’ah) with כ (kaf), indicates כֶּתֶר (keter), Crown, and so on; the rest of the letters each indicates its own sefirah. And there is no need to speak here at length, a hint is sufficient for the wise….’

דִּמְיוֹנוֹת וְחֶזְיוֹנוֹת (Dimyonot ve-ḥezyonot), images and visions, are like discerning one thing from another; likening one thing to another, but a vision that is in the mind’s eye is like a light that shines on the pupil of the eye since the pupil [Shekhinah] is black, as is written, I am black but desirable (Song of Songs 1:5), with the white light in the eye that shines. This pupil of the eye is called the mitsvah is a lamp (Proverbs 6:23), and the light that shines within it from inside is, and Torah a light (ibid.)….

The dream is with the eyes shut for which reason it is called the dim glass. Prophecy is a vision with open eyes, since the three colors of the eye correspond to the three patriarchs [Ḥesed, GevurahTif’eret] in which the only Daughter [בַּת עֵינָא (bat eina), daughter of the eye, i.e., the pupil of the eye] shines. The two sides of the eyes are Netsaḥ and Hod, and the vision [of prophecy] is seen only through them. When they are open it is a waking vision and when they are shut it is a vision in a dream” (Zohar 3:280b–81a, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

Who Does Not Taste a Dish?

“Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] said: A person can learn only from a place which his heart desires, as is said, But YHWH’s teaching is his desire (Psalms 1:2).

Levi and Rabbi Shim’on son of Rabbi were once sitting before Rabbi and were expounding a part of Scripture. When the book was concluded, Levi said: Let them bring us Proverbs. Rabbi Shim’on son of Rabbi said: Let them bring us Psalms; [he] pushed Levi and Psalms were brought. When they came to But YHWH’s teaching is his desire, Rabbi said: A person can only learn from a place which his heart desires. Levi said: Rabbi, you have given permission to rise [and leave, since my heart desires Proverbs and not Psalms]” (BT Avodah Zarah 19a, cf. ZḤ 107a [Tiq]).

Taste and see that YHWH is good (Psalms 34:8).

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Well, there are many verses in Torah that seem as if they need not have been written, yet we see that all of them are sublime mysteries.’ Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘As for this verse, whoever sees it and does not contemplate it is like someone who does not taste a dish” (Zohar 2:217b).

“This may be compared to a man who dwelled among the cliffs and knew nothing of those dwelling in the town. He sowed wheat, and ate the wheat in its natural condition [i.e., פְּשָׁט (peshat), plain]. One day he went into town and was offered fine bread [i.e., דְּרַשׁ (derash), enquiry]. The man asked: What’s this for? They replied: It’s bread, to eat! He asked: And what’s it made of? They replied: Of wheat. Afterwards they brought him cakes kneaded with oil [i.e., רֶמֶז (remez), hint]. He tasted them, and asked: And what are these made of? They replied: Of wheat. Later they brought him royal pastry kneaded with honey and oil [i.e., סוֹד (sod), secret]. He asked: And what are these made of? They replied: Of wheat. He said: Surely I am master of all these, since I eat the essence of all of these! And because of that view, he knew nothing of the delights of the world, which were lost to him. So it is with one who grasps the principle but is unaware of all those delectable delights deriving, diverging from that principle [פַּרדֵס (Pardes), Orchard, is the acronym for four levels of interpreting Torah; cf. BT Shabbat 63a: ‘(Rav Kahana said:) A verse cannot depart from its plain meaning’]” (Zohar 2:176a–b, cf. BT Berakhot 64a).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: There is a difference of opinion between Rabbi Shim’on son of Gamaliel and the Rabbis. One said that a well-read scholar is superior and the other said that the keen dialectician is superior. Rabbi Yosef was a well-read scholar [lit., סִינָי (Sinai), a Sinai]; Rabbah was a keen dialectician [lit., עוֹקֵר הָרִים (oqer harim), uprooter of mountains]. An enquiry was sent up to the land of Israel: Who of these should take precedence? They sent them word in reply: ‘A well-read scholar is to take precedence;’ for the Master said, ‘All are dependent on the owner of the wheat’” (BT Horayot 14a, cf. BT Berakhot 64a).

“What is meant by [Her profit and fee shall be consecrated to YHWH. They shall not be treasured or stored; rather shall her profit go to those who abide before YHWH, that they may eat their fill and] לִמְכַסֶּה עָתִיק (limkhasseh athiq), cover themselves elegantly? (Isaiah 23:18). This refers to one who מְכַסֶּה (mekhasseh), conceals, things that עָתִּיק (attiq), the Ancient of, Days concealed. What are those? Secrets of Torah. And some say: This refers to one who reveals things that עָתִּיק (attiq), the Ancient of, Days concealed. What are those? Flavors of Torah” (BT Pesaḥim 119a).

Through All Your Ways Know Him: The Evil Impulse is Very Good

The ways of YHWH are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall stumble in them (Hosea 14:10).

Through all your ways know Him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:6). Rava said: Even in the matter of עֲבִירָה (avirah), a transgression” (BT Berakhot 63a).

“Now, you might say, ‘How can a person love the blessed Holy One with יֵצֶר הָרָע (yetser ha-ra), the evil impulse? For look, the evil impulse is hostile, preventing a person from serving the blessed Holy One! How can he love Him with it? Well, this is a greater service of the blessed Holy One, when the evil impulse is overturned by the love that one feels for the blessed Holy One. For when the evil impulse is overturned and broken by a person, this is true love of the blessed Holy One, since he knows how to draw that evil impulse to His service. Here is a mystery for masters of qualities: Everything that the blessed Holy One has made, above and below, is all intended to manifest His glory, and all is for His service. Now, who has ever seen a servant denouncing his master, opposing everything that his master wishes?

It is the will of the blessed Holy One that humans should serve Him constantly, walking in the path of truth, thereby becoming worthy of many benefits. Since this is His will, how can an evil servant come and oppose, by his Master’s will—luring people to an evil path, distancing them from the good path, and causing them to disobey the will of their Lord? But actually, he is doing the will of his Master! This may be compared to a king who had an only son, whom he loved exceedingly. He commanded him, in love, not to approach an evil woman, for whoever approached her would be unworthy of entering the king’s palace. The son consented to do his father’s will in love. In the king’s abode, outside, was a harlot, comely in appearance and beautiful in form. Some days later, the king said, ‘I want to see my son’s devotion to me.’ He called for that harlot and said to her, ‘Go and seduce my son,’ to see his son’s devotion to him. That harlot, what did she do? She went after his son and began embracing him, kissing him, seducing him with all kinds of enticements.

If that son is worthy and obeys his father’s command, he rebukes her, pays no heed to her, and thrusts her away from him. Then the father rejoices in his son and brings him into his palace, giving him gifts and presents and great honor. Who caused all this honor for that son? You must admit, that harlot! And that harlot, does she deserve praise for this or not? Surely she does, from every aspect. First, because she carried out the king’s command; and second, because she brought upon the son all this honor, all this goodness, all this love of the king toward him. Therefore, it is written: and look, it was very good (Genesis 1:31). And look, it was good—this is the Angel of Life; very is the Angel of Death, who is surely very good for whoever heeds his Lord’s command.

Come and See: Were it not for this accuser, the righteous would not inherit those supernal treasures reserved for them in the world that is coming. Happy are they who have encountered this accuser, and happy are they who have not encountered him! Happy are they who have encountered him, for through him they inherit all that goodness, all that bliss, all those delights of the world that is coming, of which is written No eye has seen, O God, but You, what You will do for one who awaits You (Isaiah 64:3). Happy are they who have not encountered him, for through him they inherit Hell and are banished from the land of the living—the wicked who do not heed their Lord and are drawn after him. Therefore, the righteous should be grateful to him, for through him they inherit all that goodness, bliss, and delight in the world that is coming. What is the benefit for this accuser when the wicked obey him? Well, even though he has no benefit, he fulfills the command of his Master.

Furthermore, he is strengthened because of this; since he is evil, he becomes stronger when perpetrating evil. A wicked person is strengthened only after he has killed someone. Once he has killed people, he is emboldened, empowered potently, and feels pleasure. Similarly, that accuser grows in power only after he has lured people, accused them, and killed them. Then he is pleased, strengthened, and potently empowered. Just as the side of life is strengthened when people are good and walk on the straight path, so too this accuser is strengthened and empowered when the wicked heed him and are dominated by him—may the Compassionate One save us! Happy are they who are worthy of defeating him and overturning him, earning the world that is coming because of him! One should be strengthened by the blessed Holy One constantly. Of this is said Happy is the human whose strength is in You—highways in their heart (Psalms 84:6). Happy are they in this world, and happy are they in the world that is coming!” (Zohar 2:163a–b).

And you shall remember all the way on which YHWH your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to afflict you, to test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commands or not (Deuteronomy 8:2).

“Our Rabbis taught: וְשַׂמְתֶּם (ve-samtem), And you shall set (Deuteronomy 11:18)—סַם תָם (sam tam), a complete remedy. This may be compared to a man who struck his son a strong blow, and then put a plaster on his wound, saying to him, ‘My son! As long as this plaster is on your wound you can eat and drink at will, and bathe in hot or cold water, without fear. But if you remove it, it will break out into sores.’ Even so did the blessed Holy One speak to Israel: ‘My children! I created the evil impulse but I [also] created Torah, as its תַבלִין (tavlin), antidote [lit., spice]; if you occupy yourselves with Torah, you will not be delivered into his hand, for it is said: For whether you offer well, or whether you do not (Genesis 4:7). But if you do not occupy yourselves with Torah, you will be delivered into his hand, for it is written, at the tent flap sin crouches (ibid.). Moreover, he is altogether preoccupied with you [to make you sin], for it is said, and for you is his longing (ibid.). Yet if you will, you can rule over him, for it is said, and you will rule over him (ibid.)” (BT Qiddushin 30b).

“A parable: A king had sons and bought slaves for them saying, ‘Behold: They are to belong to you all equally.’ But one son said, ‘I do not want to share with you, for I am able to rob you of everything.’ The king said, ‘Because of this, you shall have no share among them at all, and you shall perform only what you are capable of!’ He went and lay in wait for them and showed them gold and jewels and armies, saying to them, ‘Come over to me.’ What did the king do? He lined up his armies and those of all his sons and showed them to the slaves, saying to them, ‘Do not deceive yourselves, mistaking his army [as] greater than my army. Here are my armies, but that son is the deceiver and plans to seize you. Do not listen to him, for at first he will speak smoothly in order to trap you in his nets, and afterwards יִצְחַק (yitsḥaq), he will laugh. But you are my slaves and I will do [good] for you if you turn away from him. For he is the שָׂר עַל תֹּהוּ (sar al tohu), prince of mere emptiness,’ as is said, And swerve not after הַתֹּהוּ (ha-tohu), mere emptiness (1 Samuel 12:21)—he will be of no avail, nor will he save, for he is mere emptiness, yet he is harmful, and I counsel you: If you really heed the voice of YHWH your God, and do what is right in His eyes, and hearken to His commands—keeping all His statutes—all the sickness that I put upon Egypt I will not put upon you (Exodus 15:26). Why all of this? Only to shut every door to him, so that he not find you at times soft and at times hard. When you keep all His statutes: all the sickness that I put upon Egypt­—by My hand—I will not put upon you. What is for I am YHWH your healer (ibid.)? And when He comes and strikes a blow—I am YHWH your healer” (Bahir §167).