The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

The Other Side Always Precedes: Growing, Developing, Protecting the Fruit and Once it has Grown, it is Cast Aside

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Yes, YHWH’s portion is His people [Jacob the parcel of His estate] (Deuteronomy 32:9)—a parable: A king had a field which he leased to land tenants. When they began to steal from it, he took it away from them and leased it to their children. When the children began to act worse than the first, he took it away from them and gave it to their grandchildren. Now a son was born to him and he said to them, ‘Leave my property. You may not stay there. Give me back my portion, so that I may repossess it.’ Thus when our father Abraham came into the world, פְּסוֹלֶת (pesolet), refuse, issued from him—Ishmael and the sons of Keturah. Our father Isaac came into the world, [and] refuse issued from him—Esau and all the princes of Edom who became worse than the first. When Jacob came into the world, refuse did not issue from him, but rather, all his sons were worthy, as is said, And Jacob was a simple man, a dweller in tents (Genesis 25:27)” (Sifrei, Deuteronomy 312).

“The powers of impurity emanate before the powers of purity, for at first the refuse is purified, and afterwards the powers of purity emerge. As is said, Remove the dross from silver, and for the refiner the vessel comes out (Proverbs 25:4). So it is with Cain and Abel, Cain came out first from the refuse which is on the left side, and afterwards Abel who is from the side of Ḥesed, Kindness. And similarly with Esau and Jacob. And it says: Esau came out from the dross of gold. Therefore, Isaac loved Esau for he came from his dregs….

And what is said, that ‘He kept building worlds and destroying them [until He created these]’ (Bereshit Rabbah 3:7, 9:2), hints to the powers of impurity which emanated first and were nullified. And of this is written, Who are shriveled before their time, their foundation pours out like a river (Job 22:16) [see BT Ḥagigah 13b–14a ad loc.; cf. BT Shabbat 88b; Bahir §195]” (MS Paris 859, 16a, 42a–43a).

And YHWH said to Samuel, “Look not to his appearance and to his lofty stature, for I have cast him aside. For not as man sees does God see. For man sees with the eyes and YHWH sees with the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

“As for the seed of David, the appearance of colors is reversed. Therefore Samuel erred, as is written: Look not at his appearance (1 Samuel 16:7), for the Other Side was in Eliab, which was not so in David” (Zohar 2:74a).

“At first, Er, firstborn of Judah, was evil (Genesis 38:7) similarly, Mahlon, but not as much. But by these, evil was consumed and good eventually emerged—the one of whom is written goodly to look on, and YHWH is with him (1 Samuel 16:12, 18)” (Zohar 2:103b).

“For Rabbi Abba has said, ‘How many wicked there are in the world who engender more virtuous children than the righteous!” (Zohar 2:12b).

“Here is a mystery. In all actions performed by the blessed Holy One, He begins with the external, and then the kernel within…. The Other Side always precedes: growing, developing, protecting the fruit. Once it has grown, it is cast aside; What the wicked will prepare, the righteous will wear (Job 27:17)—that קְלִפָּה (qelipah), shell, is thrown away and the Righteous One of the world is blessed [cf. BT Pesaḥim 49b]….

Israel is the kernel of the world; Israel arose in thought. Other nations, who are the shell, preceded, as is written: These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the Children of Israel (Genesis 36:31)” (Zohar 2:108b, Sava de-Mishpatim).

He Crossed His Hands

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He was limping on his thigh (Genesis 32:32), נֵצַח יִשְׂרָאֵל (Netsaḥ Yisra’el), Eternity of Israel (1 Samuel 15:29). It is written: his thigh; not: his thighs. This is the fourth rung, from which no human prophesied until Samuel arrived, and of which is written: Moreover, נֵצַח יִשְׂרָאֵל (Netsaḥ Yisra’el), the Eternal One of Israel, does not Lie or change His mind (ibid.). Then this rung was mended, for it had been week ever since Jacob was endangered by the Prince of Esau. 

He touched the socket of his thigh (Genesis 32:26). When he reached Jacob, he seized power from that turning of the evening [cf. Genesis 24:63] in severe judgment. Jacob had merged with it, so he could not prevail against him. When he saw that he could not prevail against him, he touched the socket of his thigh—he seized the power of judgment from there, for the thigh is outside the torso. Jacob was the torso, comprising mystery of two rungs, mystery called אָדָם (adam), human. Once he seized power outside the torso, immediately the socket of Jacob’s thigh was wrenched (ibid.), and no human prophesied from there until Samuel arrived.

So concerning נֵצַח יִשְׂרָאֵל (Netsaḥ Yisra’el), the Eternal One of Israel, it is written: For He is not human (1 Samuel, ibid.). Joshua prophesied from the הוֹד (Hod), Splendor, of Moses, as is written: Confer מֵהוֹדְךָ (me-hodekha), of your splendor, upon him (Numbers 27:20). This is the fifth rung, נֵצַח (Netsaḥ), Eternity, left thigh of Jacob. So David came and combined it with the right, as is written: Delights in Your right hand נֶצַח (netsaḥ), for eternity (Psalms 16:11)—not Your right hand, but in Your right hand” (Zohar 1:21b, cf. ibid. 3:136b, [IR]).

“Spreading of goodness is הוֹדָאָה (hoda’ah), thanksgiving, which is called Ḥesed, and so it consists of ‘We thank you’ for such-and-such miracles and signs performed from the side of goodness. Now, you might say, ‘Look at what is written: delights in Your right hand for נֶצַח (netsaḥ), eternity (Psalms 16:11)—so it is on the right side!’ Not so! Rather, every single one indicates the place from which it emerged. And if you say, ‘Netsaḥ is on the right,’ look at what is written: נְעִמוֹת (ne’imot), delights, and it is written: נְעִים (ne’im), sweet, singer of Israel (2 Samuel 23:1)! This is left, and every left is included in mystery of right; but הוֹדָאָה (hoda’ah), thanksgiving, indicates the right, showing that it emerged from there, and this is spreading of goodness, spreading into Land of Living” (Zohar 2:168b–69a, cf. Rabbi Yehudah Ḥayyat, Minḥat Yehudah, on Ma’arekhet ha-Elohut, 103).

And Joseph took the two of them, Ephraim with his right hand to Israel’s left and Manasseh with his left hand to Israel’s right, and brought them near him. And Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, yet he was younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head—he crossed his hands—though Manasseh was the firstborn… And Joseph saw that his father had placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, and it was wrong in his eyes, and he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And his father refused and he said, ‘I know, my son. I know (Genesis 48:13–17).

“From the right of Abraham, whose rung is Ḥesed, He takes vengeance on Ishmael and his prince, and from the left of Isaac, whose rung is פַּחַד (paḥad), Terror, He takes vengeance on Esau and his appointed prince by means of two Messiahs, one of whom, Messiah son of David, is from the right, while the other, Messiah son of Joseph, is from the left. And the rung of Jacob that corresponds to them, in the mystery of changing his hands (Genesis 48:14) [cf. BT Yoma 53b]—the lion, to the left, and the ox to the right, to Ishmael. And since Judah was exiled in Esau, it follows that the right of holiness is with the left of Esau, and likewise the left of holiness is with the impure right of Ishmael. Until שִׁילֹה (Shiloh), come (Genesis 49:10) [cf. BT Sanhedrin 98b]—Shiloh, who is [Moses] the Faithful Shepherd [since the numerical valueof שִׁילֹה (Shiloh), is equal to מֹשֶׁה (moshe), Moses], whose rung is Tif’eret Israel [the middle pillar]. He will take vengeance from the motley throng. In these three rungs כֹּהֲנִים לְוִיִּם וְיִשְׂרְאֵלִים (kohanimlevi’imve-yisraelim), Priests, Levites, and Israelites, will be recalled from the Exile, and with them [His כְּלִי (keli), weapon] He takes vengeance upon Esau, Ishmael, and the motley throng. Just as the motley throng is intermingled with Esau and Ishmael, so Jacob is composed of Abraham and Isaac for he is a mixture of the two of them. So too, Shiloh [Moses the Faithful Shepherd] is intermingled with Messiah son of David and Messiah son of Joseph and he will be the link between the two of them, as at the time that Bilaam saw in his prophecy [see Genesis 49:10]. For thus the two Messiahs are connected with the Faithful Shepherd, like the three patriarchs, in the final exile” (Zohar 3:245a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

Inversion

Reversals“The Torah was given in black fire upon white fire, to include right in left—and left turning into right, as is written: From His right hand, a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2)” (Zohar 2:84a).

“Rabbi Ḥaninah said: the blessed Holy One says: in the eyes you possess there is white and black and you cannot see with the white but only with the black” (Bemidbar Rabbah 15:7).

Should I say, “Yes, darkness will swathe me, and the night will be light for me,” darkness itself will not darken for You, and the night will light up like the day, the dark and the light will be one (Psalms 139:11–12).

Torah was given in fiery flashes, all in aspect of fire, written in white fire upon black fire, letters flying and rising through the air” (Zohar 2:226b).

Revolving from Below to Above

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“Revolving from below to above; her braided chariots whirling” (Zohar 1:233b).