The Nut Garden

Gleanings of Zohar

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You Created My Innermost Parts

timeline_computers_1986.ibmpcrt.jpgFrom behind and in front You shaped me, and You set your palm upon me… For You created my innermost parts… My frame was not hidden from You… גָּלְמִי (galmi), My unformed shape, Your eyes did see, and in Your book all was written down… As for me, how weighty are Your thoughts, O God, how numerous their sum. Should I count them, they would be more than the sand. I awake, and am still with You (Psalms 139:5; 13-18).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Ḥanina said: The day consisted of twelve hours. In the first hour, his dust was gathered; in the second, it was made into גּוֹלֶם (golem), a lifeless clump. In the third, his limbs were extended; in the fourth, a נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul, was cast into him; in the fifth, he rose and stood on his feet; in the sixth, he gave [the animals] their names; in the seventh, Eve became his mate; in the eighth, they ascended to bed as two and descended as four [i.e., Cain and his twin sister were born]; in the ninth, he was commanded not to eat of the tree, in the tenth, he sinned; in the eleventh, he was tried, and in the twelfth he was expelled and departed, as is written, Man will not rest in splendor (Psalms 49:13)” (BT Sanhedrin 38b).

“Rabbi El’azar said in the name of Rabbi Yose son of Zimra, ‘If all the nations assembled to create a single mosquito, they could not cast a soul into it!” (Bereshit Rabbah 39:14).

“Rava said: If the righteous desired it, they could create a world, as is written, But your iniquities have separated [between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear] (Isaiah 59:2). Rava created a man and sent him to Rav Zeira [cf. Zohar 1:7b; 2:179b]. He spoke to him, but he would not answer. He said to him: ‘You of the חַבְרַיָּא (ḥavrayya), Companions [or: magicians], return to your dust!’

Rav Ḥanina and Rav Oshaya would sit every Sabbath eve and engage in the סֵפֶר יְצִירָה (sefer yetsirah), Book of Formation, and make for themselves a third-grown calf and eat it [i.e., a calf that has reached one third of its full growth; others interpret: in its third year; third born, fat]” (BT Sanhedrin 65b).

“What [magic] is entirely permitted? Like Rav Ḥanina and Rav Oshaya, who would sit every Sabbath eve and engage in the הֲלָכוֹת יְצִירָה (halakhot yetsirah), laws of formation, and make for themselves a third-grown calf and eat it” (BT Sanhedrin 67b, cf. Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, Ner Elohim, 10, 172b).

“’Rava said: If the righteous desired it, they could create a world, as is written, But your iniquities have separated (Isaiah 59:2)’ (BT Sanhedrin 65b). If not for your sins, there would not be any separation between you and Him. We thus see that Rava created a גֶּבֶר (gever), man, and sent it to Rav Zeira. He spoke to him but he did not answer. But if not for his sins, he would have answered. And from what would it have answered? His soul. But does a human being have a soul to place in him? Yes, as is written, [YHWH Elohim fashioned the human, humus from the soil,] and He blew into his nostrils the נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (nishmat ḥayyim), breath of life (Genesis 2:7) [cf. Ba’al ha-Turim ad loc]—thus a human being has the נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (nishmat ḥayyim)soul of life [with which he might confer language], were it not for sins, through which the soul ceases to be pure. This is the difference between you and Him, as is written, And You made him little less than אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) (Psalms 8:6). Why a little less? Since he sins, while the blessed Holy One does not. Blessed be He and blessed be His Name forever and ever; He has no sins” (Bahir §196).

And You made him little less than אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) (Psalms 8:6)—this is Jacob, as is said, [And Jacob took himself moist rods of poplar and almond and plane-tree, and peeled white strips in them, laying bare the white on the rods. And he stood the rods he had peeled in the troughs, in the water channels from which the flocks came to drink—opposite the flocks… when they came to drink.] And the flocks went into heat at the rods (Genesis 30:39). Rabbi Hoshaya: He would carve a form, and just as he carved, the water became seed within them and thus they gave birth. This teaches that he lacked only [the power] to give them נֶפֶשׁוֹת (nefeshot), life-breath” (Bereshit Rabbati, Va-Yetse 129, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 24a; Zohar 1:161a-b).

“The prophet Jeremiah was engaging with the Book of Formation alone when a heavenly voice went forth and said: Take a companion [cf. M Ḥagigah 2a]. He went to his son Sira, and they studied the book together for three years. Afterward, they set about combining the alphabets in accordance with the laws of combination, grouping, and word formation, and a man was created to them, on whose forehead stood the letters, יהוה אלהים אמת (Adonai Elohim Emet), YHWH God is Truth [cf. BT Shabbat 55a]. But this newly created man had a knife in his hand, with which he erased the letter א (alef) from the word אֶמֶת (emet), truth; there remained the word מֵת (met), dead.

Jeremiah tore his garments [in mourning over the blasphemy now implied in the inscription], and said: Why have you erased the א (alef) from אֶמֶת (emet), truth? He replied: I will tell you a parable. An architect built many houses, cities, and squares, but no one could copy his art and compete with him in knowledge and skill until two men persuaded him to teach them the secret of the art [cf. BT Sanhedrin 37a]. When they had learned how to do everything in the right way, they began to anger him with words. Finally, they broke with him and became architects on their own, except that what he charged a dollar for, they did for pennies. When people noticed this, they ceased to honor the artisan and came to them and honored them and gave them commissions when they required to have something built.

So God has made you in His image and in His shape and form. But now that you have created a man like Him, people will say: There is no God in the world beside these two! Then Jeremiah said: What solution is there? He said: Write the alphabets backward on the earth you have scattered with intense concentration. Only do not meditate in the sense of building up, as you did before, but the other way around. So they did, and the man became dust and ashes before their eyes. Jeremiah said: Truly, one should study these matters only in order to know the power and omnipotence of the Creator of this world, but not to in order to practice them” (Attributed to Yehudah ben Batira, MS Halberstam 444, 7b).

“Among the Polish Jews the golem does all kinds of housework” (Christoph Arnold, Sota hoc est Liber Mischnicus de uxore adulterii suspecta, p. 1198-99 [Altdorf, 1674]).

“[Son of Zoma said:] What labours the first man had to carry out before he obtained bread to eat! He ploughed, he sowed, he reaped, he bound [the sheaves], he threshed and winnowed and selected the ears, he ground [them], and sifted [the flour], he kneaded and baked, and then at last he ate; whereas I get up, and find all these things done for me. And how many labours the first man had to carry out before he obtained a garment to wear! He had to shear, wash [the wool], comb it, spin it and weave it, and then at last he obtained a garment to wear; whereas I get up and find all these things done for me. All kinds of people come early to the door of my house, and I rise in the morning and find all these before me” (BT Berakhot 58a).

The Spirit within Me Seeks You at Dawn

1487086622788-SnoringWhileSingle.jpeg“Rabbi Shim’on was walking on the way together with his son Rabbi El’azar, Rabbi Abba, and Rabbi Yehudah. As they were walking, Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘I am amazed how people of the world do not care to know the words of Torah and the foundation of their existence!

He opened, saying, ‘My soul desires You in the night, the spirit within me seeks You at dawn’ (Isaiah 26:9). They have established this verse and so have we, but come and see: When a person climbs into bed, his soul leaves him and ascends on high. Now, if you say that they all ascend, not everyone sees the face of the King. Rather, the soul departs, and in the body remains nothing but a trace of a pint of the heart’s vitality. The soul proceeds, seeking to ascend, countless rungs upon rungs to climb. Flying, she encounters those hooded, hunchbacked, dazzling demons of defilement. Is she is pure, not having been defiled during the day, she ascends; if not, she is defiled among them, clings to them, ascends no higher. There they divulge information to her, and she grasps what is imminent [since demons possess limited foreknowledge. See Naḥmanides on Leviticus 17:7; Zohar 1:130a, 200a; 2:251b (Heikh)]. Sometimes they toy with her, disseminating deceptions [see BT Berakhot 55b; Zohar 1:183a]. She drifts this way all night long until the person awakes and she returns to her place. Woe to those sinners of the world who defile themselves and their souls!

Come and see: When those who have not defiled themselves climb into bed, the soul ascends, first entering all those rungs, ascending, not climbing to them. Then she moves on, soaring above on her own path. The soul worthy of ascending appears before the Countenance of Days, cleaving to the desire to appear in sublime longing, to gaze upon the loveliness of the King and contemplate in His palace [see Psalms 27:4]. Such a person shares constantly in the world that is coming. Such a soul yearns constantly for the blessed Holy One, yearns for Him while ascending; she does not cling to those other species of dazzling demons, but pursues the holy species—the realm from which she issued. So it is written: My soul desires You in the night, pursuing You, not being seduced by another, alien species” (Zohar 1:183a, cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 34; Midrash Tehillim 11:6; Zohar 1:83a, 92a, 121b, 130a, 200a; 3:121b).

It is as Difficult to Match them as the Splitting of the Reed Sea

old-couples-having-fun-13__605.jpg“Our Rabbis taught: Has built a new house… has planted a vineyard… has betrothed a woman (Deuteronomy 20:5). The Torah has taught worldly advice: that a man should build a house, plant a vineyard, and then marry a wife” (BT Sotah 44a).

“Rav Shemu’el son of Rav Yitsḥaq said, When Resh Lakish began to teach about the unfaithful wife, he would say as follows: ‘A man is paired with a woman only according to his deeds; as is said: For the rod of wickedness will not rest on the portion of the righteous (Psalms 125:3). Rabbah son of Son of Ḥana said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan: It is as difficult to match them as the splitting of the Reed Sea; as is said: אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) brings the lonely back to their homes, sets free captives in jubilation (Psalms 68:7) [the verse is interpreted as comparing matchmaking to the release of prisoners, thus, the two are declared identical as regards difficulty, cf. Exodus 20:2: I am YHWH your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves]. But is that really so? After all, Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav, ‘Forty days before the formation of an embryo, a heavenly echo issues and proclaims, Daughter of so-and-so is for so-and-so! The house of so-and-so is for so-and-so! The field of so-and-so is for so-and-so!—there is no contradiction. The latter [their proclamation above] refers to the original couple [who are predestined for one another]; the former [that their union depends on good deeds], to a later couple [a second marriage]” (BT Sotah 2a, cf. BT Sanhedrin 22a).

“Rabbi Yehudah [son of Simon] opened: אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) brings the lonely back to their homes, sets free captives in jubilation (Psalms 68:7). A matron asked Rabbi Yose [son of Ḥalafta]: ‘In how many days did the blessed Holy One create His world?’ He replied, ‘In six days.’ ‘Since then what has he been doing?’ He replied, ‘He sits and matches couples: this man for that woman, this woman for that man.’ She said, ‘If that seems difficult, I can do it!’ She went and matched [her slaves], giving this woman to that man, and this man to that woman. After a while, those who had been matched started beating one another. This woman said, ‘I don’t want that man!’ This man said, ‘I don’t want that woman!’ He [Rabbi Yose] said to her [the matron], ‘If it seems easy to you, it is as difficult before the blessed Holy One as splitting the Reed Sea!’” (Bereshit Rabbah 68:4, cf. Vayikra Rabbah 8:1; Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 2:4).

“Come and see: All those images of souls destined for the world stand before Him in couples. Later, when they arrive in this world, the blessed Holy One matches couples.

Rabbi Yossi said, ‘The blessed Holy One matches couples, proclaiming: The daughter of so-and-so for so-so!’ Rabbi Yose said, ‘How can you make such an assertion? Look at what is written: There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9)!’

Rabbi Yehudah replied, ‘The verse reads: under the sun. It is different above!’ Rabbi Yose said, ‘Why a proclamation here? Didn’t Rabbi Ḥizkiyah say in the name of Rabbi Ḥiyya: ‘At the very moment a human being issues into the world, his mate is destined for him’?

Rabbi Abba said, ‘Happy are the righteous whose souls are hidden away with the Holy King before they come into the world! For so we have learned: At the moment the blessed Holy One brings forth souls into the world, all those spirits and souls comprise male and female joined as one. They are transmitted into the hands of the emissary appointed over human conception [this angel is named לַיְלָה (Lailah), Night, see BT Niddah 16b in the name of Rabbi Ḥanina son of Papa. Cf. Job 3:3; Zohar 2:11a-b]. As they descend and are entrusted to him, they separate—sometimes one preceding the other—and he deposits them in human beings. When the time of their coupling arrives, the blessed Holy One, who know those spirits and souls, unites them as at first and issues a proclamation. When they unite they become a single body, a single soul, right and left, fittingly. So, There is nothing new under the sun.

Now, you might say ‘But we have learned: Coupling accords only with a person’s conduct. So it is! For if he is virtuous and his actions seemly, then he attains his—uniting as when issuing.

Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Where should one whose acts are seemly search for his mate?’ He replied, ‘We have learned; A man should always sell everything he owns and marry the daughter of a scholar,’ for in the hands of a scholar are deposited treasures of his Lord [cf. BT Pesaḥim 49a].’

It has been taught in the mystery of the Mishnah: ‘All those arriving through cycling souls can anticipate their mates by supplication.’ Concerning this our Companions aroused: Lest another anticipate him by supplication [see BT Mo’ed Qatan 18b]’

Well spoken: ‘another,’ precisely! So coupling is difficult for the blessed Holy One [since the recycled soul replaces the originally intended husband. In order to reunite the latter with his soul mate, God has to eliminate the interloper. See Zohar 1:73b], but still, the ways of YHWH are right… (Hosea 14:10).

Rabbi Yehudah sent a question to Rabbi El’azar: ‘I know the mystery of the matter, but those who arrive through cycling souls—where do they find their mates? He sent back to him: ‘It is written: How can we provide wives for those who remain? (Judges 21:7). And then: Seize for yourselves… (ibid., 21). The episode of the Benjaminites demonstrates this. Therefore we have learned: lest another anticipate him by supplication.’

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Now truly, coupling is difficult for the blessed Holy One! Happy is the share of Israel, whom Torah teaches the ways of the blessed Holy One and all the treasures hidden away with Him! Truly it is written: The Torah of YHWH is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of YHWH are sure, making wise the simple… (Psalms 19:8). Happy is the share of one who engages in Torah, not parting from her, for whoever parts from Torah for a moment is like one who parts from eternal life, as is written: She is your life and the length of your days (Deuteronomy 30:20), and similarly: They will bestow on you length of days, years of life and peace (Proverbs 3:2)” (Zohar 1:91b).

“When men become worthy, they are given a wife according to their deeds. All is revealed before the blessed Holy One, and according to virtuous deeds He matches couples. Sometimes they balanced on scales, but if that man perverts his way, his mate is transferred to another until he rectifies his deeds. When he rectifies his deeds, or when his time arrives, one man is thrust out in favor of another, and this one comes to obtain what is his. This is the most difficult of all for the blessed Holy One: to thrust out a person in favor of another.

Therefore, it is the blessed Holy One who gives a man his wife, and from him couplings come. So, [House and wealth are inherited from fathers, butan insightful wife is from YHWH (Proverbs 19:14). The blessed Holy One provides a person with everything.

Now, you might say ‘An insightful wife, but not any other.’ Come and see: Even though the blessed Holy One prepares goodness to give to a person, if he deviates from the blessed Holy One toward the Other Side, then from that Other Side to which he clings comes one who brings all sorts of accusations and ills. These do not come to him from the blessed Holy One, but rather from that evil side to which he clung through those bad deeds he committed. Therefore, of a wife who is not insightful, Solomon exclaimed I find the woman more bitter than death (Ecclesiastes 7:26)—for through his sins a man draws this upon himself, through those deeds he has committed. Consequently, when the blessed Holy One delights in a man because of his worthy deeds, He designates for him a woman who is insightful and redeems him from the Other Side (Zohar 1:229a).

”Couplings are as difficult before the blessed Holy One as splitting the Reed Sea. Just as splitting the Reed Sea killed those on that side and saved these on this side, so too of couplings is written He lead out captives בַּכּוֹשָׁרוֹת (ba-kosharot), in jubilation (Psalms 68:7), and we have learned: בְּכִי וְשִׁירוֹת (bekhi ve-shirot), weeping and singing—one dies and He gives his wife to another, who is wicked and yet ends up with a fine wife. This is not just! But it is entirely concealed mysteries and all is just, and what the Companions have educed is certainly so” (Zohar 2:170b).

If he was husband to a wife (Exodus 21:3), having married and endeavored with his wife but unsuccessfully, such a man is not banished like the other [who did not even marry a wife]: he does not enter alone and does not leave alone. Rather, if he was husband to a wife, the blessed Holy One does not withhold the reward of any creature, even if they failed. What is written? His wife shall go out with him (ibid.)—both of them transmigrate, succeeding in joining as one, as before [in general, a woman soul does not undergo transmigration, see Zohar 3:216a (RM) on Job 33:29]. This man does not marry a divorcée, but rather the one with whom he endeavored at first and failed. Now they will succeed together, if they refine their deeds. Thus, his wife shall go out with him

Gives him a wife (Exodus 21:4)—from here we learn that it is not in one’s power to take a wife; rather, all is to be weighed on scales (Psalms 62:10). Gives him a wife—for it does not lie in his power. And who is she? One who is not his and was not intended for for him. Who is she? One who was designated for another, yet this man anticipates him by supplication and marries her [cf. BT Mo’ed Qatan 18b]. This one, whom he did not deserve, is given to him. The blessed Holy One sees from afar and foresees that this woman is ready to generate offspring in the world. This man anticipates by supplication, and she is given to him; and he generates fruit and sows seed in a garden not his. Therefore, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself (Exodus 21:4). O poor unfortunate one! How he exerted himself in vain, toiling and striving to bring forth fruit in a garden not his and emerging empty-handed!” (Zohar 2:106a-109a, Sava de-Mishpatim).

How Many Wicked there are in the World who Engender more Virtuous Children than the Righteous!

“[David said:] There are three signs by which this people [Israel are recognized]: [They are] compassionate, bashful, and generous. ‘Compassionate,’ as is written, And give you compassion, and be compassionate to you and make you multiply… (Deuteronomy 13:18). ‘Bashful [or: shamefaced],’ as is written, That His fear be upon your faces, [so that you do not offend] (Exodus 20:20). ‘Generous [lit., render kindnesses],’ as is written, That he will charge his sons and his household after him [to keep the way of YHWH to do righteousness and justice…] (Genesis 18:19). Anyone with these three signs is worthy of cleaving to this people” (BT Yevamot 79a, cf. BT Pesaḥim 113b: “Three the blessed Holy One loves: he who does not get angry, he who does not get drunk, and he who does not insist on his rights”).

“Ten different genealogical classes went up from Babylon [to the Land of Israel in the days of Ezra]: Priests, Levites, Israelites, [priests who became] profaned, converts, the emancipated, bastards, Gibeonites, children of unknown paternity, and foundlings. Priests, Levites and Israelites may intermarry with one another. Levites, Israelites, [priests who became] profaned, converts and emancipated slaves may intermarry with one another. Converts, the emancipated, bastards, Gibeonites, children of unknown paternity, and foundlings are permitted to intermarry with one another. That daughters of priests, however, [may be married to priests who became] profaned was not mentioned [therefore, apparently they are forbidden to each other]” (BT Yevamot 85a, cf. M Qiddushin 4:1; BT Qiddushin 69a).

“A priest takes precedence over a Levite, a Levite over an Israelite, an Israelite over a bastard, a bastard over a descendant of Gibeonites, a descendant of Gibeonites over a convert, and a convert over an emancipated slave. When is this so? When they are all equal. However, if the bastard is a scholar and the High Priest an ignoramus—the bastard scholar takes precedence over the ignorant High Priest” (M Horayot 3:8).

“Ze’iri was evading Rabbi Yoḥanan, who was urging him, ‘Marry my daughter’ [however, Ze’iri being a Babylonian, and Rabbi Yoḥanan being of the Land of Israel, he did not wish to marry his daughter, since the Babylonians are of purer birth]. One day they were winding down the road, when they came to a pool of water. He lifted Rabbi Yoḥanan on his shoulders and carried him across. He said to him: ‘Our teaching is fit but our daughters are not fit? What is your opinion? If we say the reason is because we learned, ‘Ten different genealogical classes went up from Babylon: Priests, Levites…’ (M Qiddushin 4:1)? Is that to say all of the priests, Levites and Israelites went up? Just as some of these were left, so were some of those left [in Babylon, so that both are equal].’ [However, Rabbi Yoḥanan] overlooked what Rabbi El’azar said: Ezra did not go up from Babylon until he made it like pure fine flour: then he went up [accordingly, the people who remained in Babylon were all of untainted lineage].

‘Ulla visited Rav Yehudah in Pumbedita. Seeing that Rav Yitsḥaq, the son of Rav Yehudah, was grown up, yet unmarried, he asked him, ‘Why have you not taken a wife for your son?’ ‘Do I know where to take one?’ he replied [i.e., ‘I desire a wife for my son with untainted lineage’]. He said, ‘What do we know? Perhaps [we are] from those of whom is written: They ravished the women in Zion, and the young women in the cities of Judah (Lamentations 5:11). And should you answer: If a heathen or slave has intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite, the issue is fit—then perhaps [we are descended] from those of whom is written, [youthat lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch yourselves upon your couches (Amos 6:4). Now, Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Ḥanina said: This refers to people who urinate before their beds naked [since they are bereft of any sense of modesty]. But Rabbi Abbahu ridiculed this: If so, see what is written: Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, [and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed] (ibid., 7)—because they urinate before their beds naked they shall go captive with the first that go captive! Rabbi Abbahu said, But this refers to people who eat and drink together, join their beds, exchange their wives and make their beds foul with semen that is not theirs.’ Rav Yehudah said, ‘What shall we do [i.e., how can I discern which families are of untainted lineage]?’ ‘Go after the silence,’ [Ulla] replied. As the children of the West [in the Land of Israel] make a test: When two quarrel with each other, they see which becomes silent first, and say: This one is of superior birth [cf. M Avot 3:17: ‘Rabbi Akiva said: silence is a fence for wisdom’].

Rav said: Silence in Babylon, is [the sign of] pure birth. But is it so? For Rav visited the house of a vinegar strainer and examined them; surely that means as to their genealogy?—no, by silence. He said this to them: Examine whether they become silent or not. Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: If you see two families [continually] feuding, there is a blemish of unfitness in one of them, and they are prevented [by Heaven] from cleaving to each other.

… Our Rabbis taught: Bastards and Gibeonites will become pure in the future: this is Rabbi Yose’s view. Rabbi Meir said: They will not become pure. Rabbi Yose said to him: But was it not already stated: Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean (Ezekiel 36:25)? Rabbi Meir replied, When it says further, from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you (ibid.) [it implies] but not from bastard status. Rabbi Yose said to him: When it is said, Then will I sprinkle clean water… you must say: From bastard status too” (BT Qiddushin 71b-72b).

“Rabbah son of Son of Ḥana said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan: All agree that where a slave or a heathen had intercourse with a daughter of an Israelite the child is a bastard. Who is meant by ‘All agree’?—Shim’on the Temanite. For although Shim’on the Temanite said that the offspring of forbidden intercourse under the penalty of flogging is not a bastard, his statement applies only to the offspring of forbidden intercourse under the penalty of flogging, since the betrothal in such a case is valid [cf. BT Yevamot 23a] but here, in the case of a heathen and a slave, since betrothal in their case is invalid [see BT Qiddushin 68b], they are like those whose intercourse is subject to the penalty of כָּרֵת (karet), excommunication [lit., cutting off].

An objection was raised: If a slave or a heathen had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite the child is a bastard. Rabbi Shim’on son of Yehudah said: A bastard is only he who [is the offspring of intercourse which] is forbidden as incest and is punishable by excommunication [now this Tanna, whose view is exactly the same as that of Shim’on the Temanite, indicates quite clearly that the offspring of intercourse with a heathen or slave is not a bastard!]—rather, Rabbi Yosef said, who [is referred to by] ‘All agree’? It is Rabbi [Yehudah the Prince]. Although Rabbi said, ‘[Cohabitation with a deceased brother’s wife after חֲלִיצָה (ḥalitsah), Loosening, with her rival has not the force of marriage and no divorce is required. The child from such intercourse would consequently be deemed a bastard] these words are applicable only according to the view of Rabbi Akiva who regards a חֲלוּצָה (ḥalutsah), released woman, as a forbidden relative’ [see BT Yevamot 52b], while he himself does not share the same view [but maintains that the child of such intercourse is no bastard], he agrees [with Rabbi Akiva; and the child is consequently a bastard] in the case of a heathen and a slave. For when Rav Dimi came [from the Land of Israel to Babylon] he said in the name of Rav Yitsḥaq son of Avudimi in the name of our Master, ‘If a heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite the child [born from such intercourse] is a bastard.’

Rabbi Aḥa, the officer of the city, and Rabbi Tanḥum son of Rabbi Ḥiyya of Acco village once redeemed some captives who were brought from Armon to Tiberias, [among these] was one who had become pregnant from a heathen. When they came before Rabbi Ammi he told them: It was Rabbi Yoḥanan and Rabbi El’azar and Rabbi Ḥanina who stated that if a heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite the child born is a bastard.

Rabbi Yosef said: Is it a great thing to enumerate men? [i.e., just as a string of names could be quoted in support of the view that the child is a bastard, an equally imposing number could be quoted in opposition]. Surely it was Rav and Shemu’el in Babylon and Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi and Son of Qappara in the Land of Israel—and some say to remove Son of Qappara and insert the Elders of the South—who said that if a heathen or a slave had intercourse with a daughter of an Israelite, the child born is fit!—rather, Rabbi Yosef said, it is [the opinion of] Rabbi [and it is Rabbi’s fame and position, and not the number of comparatively minor authorities that imparted the force of law to this view]. For when Rav Dimi came he said in the name of Rav Yitsḥaq son of Avudimi that it was reported in the name of our Masters that if a heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite the child [born from such intercourse] is a bastard.

Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi said: The child is tainted. In respect of what? If it be suggested in respect of entry into the community, surely Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi said that the child was fit! Then it must be in respect of the priesthood; for all Amoraim who declare the child fit admit that he is ineligible for the priesthood. This is inferred by deduction from the case of a widow a fortiori. If in the case of a widow who was married to a High priest, whose prohibition is not equally applicable to all, her son is tainted, how much more should the son of this woman be tainted whose prohibition is equally applicable to all [since the daughters of priests, of Levites and of Israelites are all equally forbidden to marry a heathen or a slave]. The case of a widow who was married to a High Priest may be different, since she herself becomes profaned!—Here also, as soon as cohabitation occurred the woman is disqualified; for Rabbi Yoḥanan stated in the name of Rabbi Shim’on [alt., Rabbi Yishma’el]: From where is it inferred that if a heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of a priest, of a Levite or of an Israelite, he disqualified her? [From eating sacred donations if she is the daughter of a priest. If the daughter of a Levite or an Israelite who was married to a priest and left with children after her husband’s death, she loses her right to the eating of sacred donations (to which she was entitled by virtue of her children) and, of course, becomes ineligible to marry a priest, as soon as intercourse with the heathen or slave had taken place]. It was stated And should a priest’s daughter be married to an outsider, [she shall not eat of the levy of the sacred donations] (Leviticus 22:13); Only in the case of a man in relation to whom widowhood or divorce is applicable; a heathen and a slave are consequently excluded since in relation to them no widowhood or divorce is applicable.

Abayye said to him: What reason do you see for relying upon Rav Dimi? Rely rather on Ravin! For when Ravin came [from the Land of Israel to Babylon] he reported that Rabbi Natan and Rabbi Yehudah the Prince ruled that such a child is fit; and Rabbi Yehudah the Prince is, of course, Rabbi!

And Rav also ruled that the child is legitimate. For once a man appeared before Rav and asked him, ‘A heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite—what is he?’ He said: ‘The child is fit.’ He said, ‘[Then] give me your daughter.’ ‘I will not give [her] to you.’ Shimi son of Ḥiyya said to Rav, ‘People say that in Media [i.e., in foreign lands where wonders occur,] a camel can dance on a [mere] qav; here is the qav, here is the camel and here is Media, but there is no dancing!’ [i.e., Rav had displayed originality and marvelous courage by his ruling, and yet stops short of carrying it into practice]. ‘Had he been equal to Joshua son of Nun I would not have given him my daughter,’ the Master replied. He said, ‘Had he been like Joshua son of Nun others would have given him their daughters, if the Master had not given him his; but with this man, if the Master will not give him, others also will not give him’ [since they would regard the Master’s refusal as an indication that the man is actually unfit]. He would not go away, [thus Rav] fixed his eyes upon him and he died” (BT Yevamot 44b-45b).

“Our Rabbis taught: Let a man always sell all he has and marry the daughter of a disciple of a sage. If he does not find the daughter of a disciple of a sage, let him marry the daughter of [one of] the great men of the generation. If he does not find the daughter of [one of] the great men of the generation, let him marry the daughter of the head of the congregation. If he does not find the daughter of the head of congregation, let him marry the daughter of a charity treasurer. If he does not find the daughter of a charity treasurer, let him marry the daughter of a schoolteacher, but let him not marry the daughter of עַם הָאָרֶץ (‘am ha-arets), people of the land [i.e., ignorant country folk], because they are detestable and their wives are vermin, and of their daughters it is said, Cursed be he who lies with any beast (Deuteronomy 27:21)…

Rabbi El’azar said [of the] ignorant country folk: It is permitted to stab him [even] on the Day of Atonement which falls on the Sabbath. His disciples said to him, Master, say to slaughter him [ritually]? He replied: This [ritual slaughter] requires a blessing, whereas that [stabbing] does not require a blessing. Rabbi El’azar said: One must not join company with ignorant country folk on the road, because it is said, for it [Torah] is your life and your length of days (Deuteronomy 30:20): [seeing that] he has no care for his own life [in that he forsakes Torah], how much the more for the life of his companions! Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said in Rabbi Yoḥanan’s name: One may tear ignorant country folk like a fish! Said Rabbi Shemu’el son of Yitsḥaq: And [this means] along his back.

It was taught, Rabbi Akiva said: When I was of the ignorant country folk I said: If I only had a disciple of a sage [before me], and I would maul him like a donkey. His disciples said to him, Rabbi, say like a dog! The former bites and breaks the bones, while the latter bites but does not break the bones, he answered them.

It was taught, Rabbi Meir used to say: Whoever marries his daughter to ignorant country folk, is as though he bound and laid her before a lion: just as a lion tears [his prey] and devours it and has no shame, so ignorant country folk strike and cohabit and have no shame.

It was taught, Rabbi Eli’ezer said: Only that we are necessary to them for trade, [otherwise] they would kill us! Rabbi Ḥiyya taught: Whoever delves in Torah in front of ignorant country folk, is as though he coupled with his betrothed in his presence [so great is the affront which they feel when Torah is studied in their presence (Rashi)], for it is said, A teaching did Moses charge us, a heritage for Jacob’s assembly! (Deuteronomy 33:4): do not read מוֹרָשָׁה (morashah), heritage, but מְאוֹרָסָה (me’orasah), the betrothed.

Greater is the hatred of ignorant country folk for the disciples of the sages than the hatred of heathens for Israel, and their wives [hate even] more than they. It was taught: He who has studied and then abandoned [Torah] [hates the disciples of the sages] more than all of them. Our Rabbis taught: Six things were said of ignorant country folk: We do not commit testimony to them; we do not accept testimony from them; we do not reveal a secret to them; we do not appoint them as guardians for orphans; we do not appoint them stewards over charity funds; and we must not join their company on the road. Some say, We do not announce their lost articles [he who finds lost property is obligated to announce it; if the owner is of the ignorant country folk, he is not obligated to announce it]. But the first Tanna [why does he omit this]?—virtuous seed may sometimes issue from him, and they will enjoy it, as is said, What the wicked will prepare, the righteous will wear (Job 27:17)” (BT Pesaḥim 49b).

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

Do not plant Asherah or any-tree-like object beside the altar that you make for YHWH your God

“Come and see: When a woman is joined with her husband, she is called by his name: אִישׁ אִשָּׁה (ish ishah), man, woman; צַדִּיק צֶדֶק (tsaddiq tsedeq), righteous, righteousness [cf. Zohar 1:132b]. He is עוֹפֶר (ofer), fawn, and she is עָפָר (afar), dust. Then he is צְבִי (tsevi), hart, and she is צְבִיָּה (tseviyyah), doe; צְבִי (tsevi), fairest, of all lands (Ezekiel 20:6).

It is written: Do not plant אֲשֵׁרָה (asherahor any-tree-like object beside the altar that you make for YHWH your God (Deuteronomy 16:21). Beside the altar—Is it permitted above the altar or anywhere else? Rather, we have established: אֲשֶׁר (Asher) is her husband, and she is named after him: אֲשֵׁרָה (Asherah). So it is written: For Baal and Asherah (2 Kings 23:4). So, Do not plant אֲשֵׁרָה (asherah)… beside the altar that you make for YHWH your God—over against the altar of YHWH, for the altar of YHWH is based on this, so do not plant another Asherah over against Her. 

Come and see: All those sun-worshippers are always called worshippers of Baal, and those who worship the moon are called worshippers of Asherah, so for Baal and Asherah, Asherah being named after her husband, Asher. If so, why was this name displaced? Because Asherah derives from the verse בְּאָשְׁרִי (Be-oshri), Happy am I! For daughters will deem me happy (Genesis 30:13), while the other nations did not deem Her happy, substituting another in Her place. Further it is written: All who honored her despise her (Lamentations 1:8). So this name was displaced in order that those worshipped by other nations not be empowered. We call Her altar made of earth, as is written: altar of earth… (Exodus 20:22). So, dust of the earth” (Zohar 1:49a).

Ten White Radiancies, Ten Sefirot: These Above Those

Add. 27006“Ten סְפִירוּת בְּלִי-מָה (sefirot belimah), numerals of nothingness. Their measure is ten, yet infinite” (Sefer Yetsirah 1:1).

You shall surely tithe all the yield of your seed that comes out in the field year after year (Deuteronomy 14:22)—at all times you must reckon each of the rungs, ‘Ten and not nine, ten and not eleven’ (Sefer Yetsirah 1:4). Another explanation: עַשֵּׂר תְּעַשֵּׂר (Aser ta’aser), You shall surely tithe [lit., tithe you will tithe]. Why two times? Because here there is a deep and hidden mystery which the mouth cannot speak nor the ear hear. You already know that tithe alludes to ten lower [sefirot]. Until here I have permission to explain. If you are one of the enlightened, you will understand this great mystery with your fullest intellectual capacity and will surely not let it out of your mouth: Here below we give our tithes according to the supernal model—so that man imitate his Creator” (Rabbi David ben Yehudah ha-Ḥasid, The Book of Mirrors, 236:29-237:3, adapted from Matt, Sefer Mar’ot Ha-Zove’ot, p. 26, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 31a-b).

The things hidden are for YHWH our God and things revealed for us and for our children forever (Deuteronomy 29:28). Understand this verse by its inner sense, deep and sealed though it may be. For YHWH—the Cause of Causes, for all proclaim that they are His; each of the עֶשֶׂר צַחְצָחוֹת (eser tsaḥtsaḥot), ten white radiancies, that comprise אֲרִיך אַנְפִּין (Arikh Anpin), Elongated Countenance, form ten inner rungs. And for our children—ten that parallel ten rungs within supernal Keter who are not revealed but remain concealed and hidden, imperceptible to the inquirer. For they belong to the Cause of Causes, blessed be the glory of His name and His majesty forever. Therefore, the enlightened will understand and will remain silent for God, and he alone will see wonders from the holy Torah He gave us from His very own treasury” (Rabbi David ben Yehudah ha-Ḥasid, The Book of Mirrors, 252, adapted from Idel, “The Image of Man Above the Sefirot: R. David ben Yehuda he-Ḥasid’s theosophy of ten supernal ‘ṣaḥṣaḥot’ and its reverberations.” Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 20 [2009] p. 181-212).

“Come and see: How many hidden causes are enclothed and conveyed by the sefirot! The sefirot are but chariots to them, for they are concealed from human thought. Of them is written: For he who is high has a higher one watching him, and still higher ones over them (Ecclesiastes 5:7)—נְהוֹרִין מְצוּחְצָחִין (nehorin metsuḥtsaḥin), glaring white lights, these above those, but those that are receptacles are darkness compared to the others above them. And their is no light that can exist before עִלַּת הָעִלּוֹת (Illat ha-Illot), the Cause of Causes, all lights are darkened before Him” (Zohar 1:23a, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

Your wonder known in the darkness, Your bounty in the land of נְשִׁיָּה (neshiyah), oblivion (Psalms 88:13).

“בֶּן-מְנַשֶּׁה (Ben Menasheh), son of Manasseh (Numbers 27:1)—the Cause of Causes who is called מְנַשֶּׁה (Menasheh), Forgetting. Why is the Cause of Causes called Forgetting? Because He is a place to which forgetting and נִשָׁיוֹן (nishayon), oblivion, pertain, as in the expression כִּי-נַשַּׁנִי אֱלֹהִים (ki nashani Elohim), For God has made me forget (Genesis 41:51).

Why? Because concerning all the rungs and causes one should search for their reality from the depth of supernal Ḥokhmah. From there it is possible to understand one thing from another. However, concerning the Cause of Causes there are no sides anywhere to search, to probe; nothing can be known of Him; for He is hidden and concealed in the mystery of הַאַיִן וְהַאֶפֶס (ha-Ayin ve-ha-Efes), Nothingness and Naught.

Therefore forgetting pertains to Him, as regards comprehension of this place. So open your eyes and see this great and awesome mystery. Happy is he whose eyes shine from this mystery, in this world and the world that is coming” (Rabbi David ben Yehudah ha-Ḥasid, The Book of Mirrors, 227:15-23, translated in Matt, Sefer Mar’ot Ha-Zove’ot, p. 21-22).

He is Sleeping Among His People

And Haman said to King Ahasuerus: ‘There is a certain people scattered and separate from the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom, and their rules are different from every people’s and they do not observe the king’s rules, and it does not pay for the king to leave them in peace. If it please the king, let it be written to wipe them out, and ten thousand talents of silver will I measure out to the court overseers to bring into the king’s treasury.’ And the king removed his ring from his hand and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, foe of the Jews (Esther 3:8-9, cf. Exodus 1:8).

“Just as oil will not mix with other liquids, so Israel do not mix with the other peoples of the world, as is written, You shall not intermarry with them (Deuteronomy 7:3)” (Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 1:21).

“[However,] Rabbi El’azar said: The blessed Holy One did not scatter Israel among the peoples except that converts be added to them, for it is said: And I will sow her [Israel] for Myself in the earth (Hosea 2:25); surely a man sows a se’ah in order to harvest many korin! And from this Rabbi Yoḥanan said: and I will have compassion upon her that had not obtained compassion [and I will say to them who were not My people, you are My people; and they shall say, You are my God] (ibid.)” (BT Pesaḥim 87b).

And Haman said to King Aheshurues: יֶשְׁנוֹ עַם-אֶחָד (Yeshno am ead), there is one people (Esther 3:8), the very same of whom it is said, [Hear, O Israel! YHWH our God, YHWH is] אֶחָד (ead), One (Deuteronomy 6:4)—יָשֵׁן לוֹ מֵעַמּוֹ (yashen lo me-amo), He is sleeping despite [or: among] His people” (Ester Rabbah 7:12, cf. BT Megillah 15b; Abba Guryon 5; Leqaḥ Tov 3:11, 5:14; Aggadat Ester 4:1, 17).

That night the king could not sleep [lit., the sleep of the king was shaken] (Esther 6:1). The heavens, the throne of the King of the King of Kings, the blessed Holy One, were shaken when He saw Israel in such distress. But is there sleep before הַמָּקוֹם (ha-maqom), the Omnipresent?! Is it not said, Behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalms 121:4)? Rather, in a time when Israel is in distress and the peoples of the world are at peace, it says, Awake, why sleep, O Master! (Psalms 44:24) [cf. BT Ḥullin 139b]. King Ahasuerus’ sleep was also disturbed, because he saw in a dream Haman seizing a sword to kill him, and he awoke in terror from his sleep and told his scribes to bring [the royal annals] the Book of Acts to see what events had occurred, and they opened the book and found how Mordecai had informed against Bigthan and Teresh. So when they said to the king, Look, Haman is standing in the court (Esther 6:5), the king said: ‘What I saw in my dream is true; he has only come at this time of day to kill me'” (Ester Rabbah 10:1).

“[Preparing to impale Mordecai] Haman went about looking for a stake fifty cubits long, but could not find any, save that was in his house, which Parshandatha his son had brought from Kedronia, which is Kerdos. Because Haman’s son was ruler there; and there he saw the stake, which was from Noah’s ark. And Haman uprooted it from his house, so that the curse of Darius might be fulfilled in him, as is written, [Also I have made a decree, that] whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be impaled (Ezra 6:11). And this word found favor with Haman, and he prepared a gallows for himself; he erected it and perfected it. A heavenly voice called out saying, ‘How proper and fitting is this gallows for you.’

That night [the king could not sleep…] (Esther 6:1): On that night sleep [deserted] the carpenters who were preparing the gallows for Haman. On that night sleep deserted the smiths who were preparing the nails to be set in the gallows. On that night sleep deserted the King of Kings. Were in not written, one would dare not say it, as is written: Awake, why sleep, O Master! (Psalms 44:24); And the Master awoke as one sleeping, [like a warrior shaking off wine] (Psalms 78:65). On that very night the blessed Holy One was revealed. [And they impaled Haman on the stake that he had readied for Mordecai, and the king’s wrath subsided (Esther 7:10). On the contrary, it was the Jews who dominated their foes (ibid. 9:1)]” (Targum Ester, see Kasher and Klein, New Fragments of Targum to Esther, p. 154-55).

“Secrecy within secrecy was prepared and arranged in a single skull filled with crystalline dew. Membrane of air, purified and sealed; those strands of clean fleece hanging evenly. Will of Wills is revealed through prayer of those below. Open-eyed watching, never sleeping, ever vigilant; supervision below by supervision of radiance above. Two nostrils of an official arousing breath for all [as a nose supervising commandingly]” (Zohar 2:176b, Sifra di-Tsni’uta).

“Eyes of the White Head are different from other eyes. There is no lid over the eye, nor any eyebrows. Why? Because it is written: Behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps, the Guardian of Israel (Psalms 121:4)—Israel above. And it is written: that Your eyes may be open (1 Kings 8:52). And it has been taught: Whatever comes in Compassion has no lid over the eye, nor any eyebrows. All the more so, the White Head, which has no need.

Rabbi Shim’on said to Abba, ‘To what does this allude?’ He replied, ‘To fish, fish of the sea, whose eyes have neither lids nor brows, and they do not sleep and need no protection for the eye. All the more so, the Ancient of Ancients—who needs no protection; and all the more so, since He watches over all, and all is nourished by Him, and He does not sleep, as is written: Behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps, the Guardian of Israel—Israel above.

It is written: Behold, the eye of YHWH is upon those who revere Him (Psalms 33:18), and it is written: The eyes of YHWH range over the whole earth (Zechariah 4:10). There is no contradiction. One refers to זְעֵיר אַנפִּין (Ze’eir Anpin), Small Countenance, and the other to אֲרִיך אַנְפִּין (Arikh Anpin), Elongated Countenance. Nevertheless, there are two eyes, turning into one. This eye is white within white, and a white including all whites” (Zohar 3:129b, Idra Rabba, cf. Zohar 3:137b-138a, Idra Rabba).