The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Bribing the Other Side: Save from the Sword My Soul, from the Cur’s Power My Person

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“Come and see: Had [Job] given a portion to all, the Accuser could not have prevailed against him later. Now, you might ask, ‘Why did the blessed Holy One harm him?’ Well, because he caused the light to be covered and concealed, and did not bring another offering, sustaining others—only an ascent offering, rising above. Therefore it is written: This Job did continually (Job 1:5). For if the Other Side had been nourished with a portion, he would have been removed from the Temple and withdrawn, and the side of Holiness would have ascended higher and higher. But he did not want another to be nourished by his offering, so he removed himself from him. How do we know? As is written: and shunning evil (Job 1:1). Therefore he always brought an ascent offering, from which the Other Side never derives pleasure; so everything that he later took was his to take. Thus Job caused foreskin to cover the sealed covenant, from which it did not depart; and consequently the blessed Holy One aroused that Accuser, as is written: Have you noticed My servant Job? (Job 1:8).

Come and see: When the blessed Holy One wished to unite with Israel, the time was not ripe because foreskin covered the light—until that Accuser took what was his from Job. Therefore the blessed Holy One commanded that it be eaten in haste, for that Other Side was engaged with Job, and He commanded them to remove foreskin. Then the blessed Holy One united with Israel, and that Other Side separated from holiness, engaging with Job and taking what was his. Then, It is a passover offering to YHWH (Exodus 12:11). For until now, it was not a passover offering to YHWH. Happy are they who unify their Lord fittingly!…

Come and see: The goat that Israel sends to the dessert is in order to give a portion to that Other Side, with which to be occupied. Now, you might say, ‘Why two goats here—one for YHWH and one for that Other Side? Granted, that goat of the Other Side, but why for YHWH? ‘Well, this may be compared to a king who sat in judgement over his son. He summoned the bailiff, who regularly administers punishment, so that he would prepare to punish his son. That bailiff was glad, and entered the king’s palace to eat there. When his son saw, he said to himself, ‘Surely, this bailiff has come into my father’s palace only because the king is angry with me.’ What did he do? He went and reconciled with him. Once he had done so, the king ordered that the bailiff should not know of it. Afterward, the bailiff entered. The king said to himself, ‘Now if this one knows about the meal that I have prepared for myself and my son, the table will be disrupted.

What did he do? He summoned the butler and told him, ‘Prepare something and place it in front of me and in front of that bailiff, so that he thinks he is dining from my food in my presence, and he won’t know about that precious joyous feast for me and my son; he will take that portion and leave, and withdraw from the joy of our feast.’ If the king had not done so, that bailiff would not have departed from the king’s palace. Therefore the blessed Holy One said, ‘Prepare two goats, one for Me and one for that Denouncer, so that he will think that he is eating from My meal and be unaware of our other joyous feast, and he will take that portion and go on his way and depart from My house” (Zohar 2:181b–185a).

“There is a saying: ‘To the contemptible one in the royal palace—give him a little wine and he will praise you before the king. Otherwise, he will speak evil; and sometimes superiors of the palace convey those words, on account of which the king imposes punishment.’

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘This may be compared to a fool who stands before the king. Give him some wine and then tell him and show him all those deviancies you have committed and all those bad deeds, and he will come and praise you, saying that there is no one in the world like you.

Here, too, the Denouncer is standing constantly before the King. The people of Israel present him this gift, in which is a list of all the bad deeds, all the deviancies, and all the sins that they have committed; and he comes and praises Israel and becomes their Defender. And the blessed Holy One transfers everything onto the head of his people, since it is written For you are heaping live coals on his head, and YHWH will reward you (Proverbs 25:22)” (Zohar 3:101b–102a).

“Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani in the name of Rabbi Yonatan said: Every mitsvah that one performs in this world precedes him and walks in front of him in the world to come, as is said: And your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of YHWH shall be your rear guard (Isaiah 58:8). Likewise, every transgression that one commits מְלֻפַּפְתּוֹ (melupafto), clasps round him, and leads him on the day of judgment, as is said, יִלָּפְתוּ (Yillaftu), they clasp round him, the path of their way (Job 6:18). Rabbi El’azar said: It is attached to him like a dog, as is said, And he would not listen to her, to lie by her, to be with her (Genesis 39:10). To lie by her—in this world; to be with her—in the world to come” (BT Avodah Zarah 5a).

“As the saying goes, ‘Throw a dog a bone and he’ll lick the dust off your feet.’ Son of Zoma was asked, ‘Is it permitted to castrate a dog?’ [see BT Ḥagigah 14b, cf. M Avot 4:1; Zohar 2:89a]? He replied, ‘[And anything with crushed or smashed or torn-off or cut-off testes you shall not bring forward to YHWH, and] in your land you shall not do it (Leviticus 22:24)—to all that is in your land you shall not do it.’ Just as the world needs this, the world needs that! Concerning this is said: and behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31)—the Angel of Death. It must not be eliminated from the world [see BT Sanhedrin 64a]; the world needs it! Even though it is written concerning them: The dogs are fiercely ravenous, [they never know satiety] (Isaiah 56:11), they should not be abolished from the world. All is required—good and bad! Accordingly, on this day we must throw the dog a bone [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 46: ‘They gave him a bribe on Yom Kippur so that he would not nullify Israel’s sacrifice’]. While he is dragging it, the one who enters the hall of the King enters, with no one to hinder him. Afterward, he wags his tail!” (Zohar 3:63b, Piqqudin).

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my rescue are the words that I roar. My God, I call out by day and You do not answer, by night—no stillness for me…. For the curs came all around me, a pack of the evil encircled me, like a lion at my hands and my feet (Psalms 22:2–3, 17).

I considered till morning, that, as a lion, so will He break all my bones: from day even to night will You make an end of me (Isaiah 38:13).

“There is there [in the afterlife] a certain path, and in that path a certain attribute like a dog. When the soul enters any one of those pathways, the dog sees her and immediately he barks. When the demons and angels of destruction hear his voice, they know that a soul is there. Immediately they come and seize the soul and sling her, as is written, The נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), soul, of your enemies He will sling from the hollow of a sling (1 Samuel 25:29), until they cast her into Hell. King David, peace upon him, pleaded before the blessed Holy One to save him from that dog, as is said: Save נַפְשִׁי (nafshi), my soul, from the sword, my only one from the clutches of a dog (Psalms 22:21). Now, was David, king of Israel, afraid of a single dog?! Rather, of that attribute called ‘dog.’

They said further: The souls of Israel do not enter that place of those pathways, and that dog does them no harm, as is said: But against any of the Children of Israel, no dog will snarl (Exodus 11:7)” (Midrash ha-Ne’lamAddendum 2 [Qeta Lo Yadu’a 82–83]).

“Likewise, when a man dies, if he has been meritorious, the image of a lion descends to welcome his נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), soul, but if he has not, an image of a dog descends, of which David said: Save from the sword my soul, from the cur’s hand my person (Psalms 22:21). And since the blessed Holy One desired to save the bodies of Israel from them, and their soul too, He commanded that sacrifices be offered of beasts and bodies in their stead. This is according to: If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. [For you shall heap coals of fire upon his head, and YHWH shall reward you] (Proverbs 25:21–22). But the blessed Holy One takes nothing except the desire of the heart and remorse of the heart, as is written: Elohim’s sacrifices—a broken רוּחַ (ruaḥ)spirit. A broken, crushed heart Elohim spurns not (Psalms 51:19). They are like earthenware vessels, about which it is said: ‘After they are broken, they become pure’ (BT Shabbat 16a)….

A hungry dog: whoever does not want to be bitten by it gives it meat or bread to eat and water to drink. And the secret of the matter is: If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink (Proverbs 25:21–22). He thereby becomes friendly towards the person, and not only does he not bite him, with a number of troubles, but he becomes an advocate for him and loves him” (Zohar 3:247b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

The Innocent Who Suffer, the Guilty Who Prosper

There are righteous to whom it befalls as though they did wickedly, and there are wicked to whom it befalls as though they did righteously (Ecclesiastes 8:14).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yose: Moses sought three things before the blessed Holy One and they were granted to him. He asked that Shekhinah should rest upon Israel, and it was granted to him, as is said: [And how, then, will it be known that I have found favor in Your eyes, I and Your people?] Will it not be by Your going with us (Exodus 33:16).

He asked that Shekhinah should not rest upon the nations, and it was granted to him, as is said: That I and Your people may be distinguished [from every people that is on the face of the earth?] (ibid.).

He asked to know the ways of the blessed Holy One and it was granted to him, as is said: Let me know, pray, Your ways (ibid., 13). He said before Him, ‘Master of the Universe: Why is it there are innocent who prosper and innocent who suffer? And there are guilty who prosper and guilty who suffer?’ He said, ‘Moses, the innocent who prosper are innocent born of innocent; the innocent who suffer are innocent born of guilty. The guilty who prosper are guilty born of innocent; the guilty who suffer are guilty born of guilty.

The Master said: ‘The innocent who prosper are innocent born of innocent; the innocent who suffer are innocent born of guilty’—it is not so, as is written: Reckoning the crime of fathers with sons [and sons of sons, to the third generation and the fourth] (ibid. 34:7), and it is written: [Fathers shall not be put to death over sons,] and sons shall not be put to death over fathers. [Each man shall be put to death for his own offense] (Deuteronomy 24:16)—the verses contradict each other! This is not difficult. This [verse refers to] when they adhere to the deeds of their fathers as their own; that [verse refers to] when they do not adhere to the deeds of their fathers as their own, [as is written, Reckoning the crime of fathers with sons, with the third generation and with the fourth, for My foes, and doing kindness to the thousandth generation for My friends and for those who keep My commands (Exodus 20:5)].

Rather, He said to [Moses]: The innocent who prosper are completely innocent; the innocent who suffer are not completely innocent. The guilty who prosper are not completely guilty; the guilty who suffer are completely guilty. But this [saying of Rabbi Yoḥanan that all three requests of Moses were granted] departs from Rabbi Me’ir. For Rabbi Me’ir said: Two were granted to him, and one was not granted to him. As is said: And I shall grant grace to whom I grant grace (ibid. 33:19)—even though he is not worthy. And have compassion for whom I have compassion—even though he is not worthy” (BT Berakhot 7a).

As the proverb of the ancient says, “From wicked men does wickedness come forth” (1 Samuel 24:14).

“Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai [said]: It is permitted to confront the wicked in this world, as is said, Those who forsake teaching praise the wicked, but those who keep the teaching confront them (Proverbs 28:4). That was also taught by Rabbi Dostai son of Rabbi Mattun, who says: It is permitted to confront the wicked in this world, as is said, Those who forsake teaching praise the wicked. Should somebody whisper to you: But is it not written Do not be incensed by evildoers. Do not envy those who do wrong (Psalms 37:1)? Then you may tell him: Only one whose heart strikes him [with regret over his wrong doing] says so. Rather, Do not be incensed by evildoers—to be like them; Do not envy those who do wrong—to be like them. And so it is said, Let your heart not envy offenders, but in fear of YHWH all day long. [For if you keep it, there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off] (Proverbs 23:17). But this is not so! For Rabbi Yitsḥaq said: If you see a wicked man upon whom the hour is smiling, do not confront him, as is said, His ways come to pass in every hour (Psalms 10:5). And not only that, he is victorious in the court of judgment, as is said, Your judgments are high up above him (ibid.). And not only that, he sees his enemies’ [downfall], as is said, All his foes he enflames (ibid.). There is no difficulty. The one speaks of his private matters, the other one speaks of matters of Heaven.

Or if you wish, say that both speak of matters of Heaven, and still there is no difficulty. The one speaks of a wicked man upon whom the hour is smiling, the other one speaks of a wicked man upon whom the hour is not smiling. Or if you wish, say that both speak of a wicked man upon whom the hour is smiling, and still there is no difficulty. The one speaks of the completely righteous one, the other of one who is not completely righteous. For Rav Huna said: What is Why do You look upon traitors and stay silent, when the wicked destroy one more righteous than he? (Habakkuk 1:13)—can the wicked destroy one more righteous than he? Is it not written, [The wicked spies out the just man and seeks to put him to death.] YHWH will not forsake him in his hands [and will not condemn him when he is judged] (Psalms 37:32–33)? And it is written, No wrong will befall the righteous, [but the wicked are filled with harm] (Proverbs 12:21) Rather, he destroys the one who is only more righteous than he, but he cannot destroy the completely righteous one. And if you wish, say: It is different when the hour is smiling upon him” (BT Berakhot 7b).

“Rabbi El’azar son of Rabbi Zadoq said: To what are the righteous compared in this world? To a tree standing entirely in a place of purity, but its branches overhang to a place of impurity; when the branches are cut off, it stands entirely in a place of purity. Thus the blessed Holy One brings suffering upon the righteous in this world, in order that they may inherit the world that is coming, as is said, Then your beginning would seem a trifle and your latter day very grand (Job 8:7).

And to what are the wicked compared in this world? To a tree standing entirely in a place of impurity, but its branches overhang a place of purity: when the branches are cut off, it stands entirely in a place of impurity. Thus the blessed Holy One bestows good upon the wicked in this world, in order to destroy them and banish them to the lowest rung, as is said, There may be a straight way before man, but his end is the ways of death (Proverbs 14:12)” (BT Qiddushin 40b).

“Sons, life and sustenance do not depend on merit but מַזָּלא (mazzala), the flux of destiny. For [take] Rabbah and Rav Ḥisda. Both were righteous; one master prayed for rain and it came, the other master prayed for rain and it came. Rav Ḥisda lived to the age of ninety-two, Rabbah lived to the age of forty. In Rav Ḥisda’s house sixty marriage feasts were held, at Rabbah’s house there were sixty bereavements. At Rav Ḥisda’s house there was the purest wheaten bread for dogs, and it was not wanted; at Rabbah’s house there was barley bread for human beings and that not to be had” (BT Mo’ed Qatan 28a).

For there is no man righteous on earth who does good and will not offend (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

“Rabbi Yishma’el and Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Yishma’el says, ‘Since the righteous perform the Torah, which was given from the mountains of God, the blessed Holy One acts justly with them like the mountains of God. But since the wicked do not perform the Torah, which was given from the mountains of God, the blessed Holy One is exacting with them, even unto the great deep.’ Rabbi Akiva says, ‘The blessed Holy One is as exacting with these as with those: from the righteous He collects in this world for a few wicked deeds which they have done, in order to render them full payment in the world to come; while He gives ease to the wicked and pays them in this world for the few good deeds that they have done, in order to punish them in the world to come” (Tanḥuma [Buber], Emor 5).

“According to his merits and liabilities. As we have explained, he who does one mitsvah is treated well. He who is average, is a person whose merits and liabilities are balanced, the half of merits is below and the half of debts below. This is the secret of What is your petition, and it shall be granted to you, and what is your request? Up to half the kingdom, and it shall be done! (Esther 5:6). In the case of a completely righteous man, all his merits are above and his liabilities below. For a completely wicked man, his liabilities are above and his merits are below” (Zohar 3:111a, Ra’aya Meheimna Behar).

“If his offenses are many and his mitsvot few, then he receives his reward in this world, [and this] is a wicked man who prospers…. The Masters of Mishnah taught: Woe to him for whom the hour smiles, for he receives his reward during his lifetime” (Zohar 3:230b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

When the wicked spring up as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed forever (Psalms 92:8).