The Nut Garden

Gleanings of Zohar

Tag: אֶתְרוֹג

The Bird has Found a Home

ad68b51709542856c238222f560acefb“Rabbi Shim’on said to his son, Rabbi El’azar, ‘El’azar, when King Messiah arouses, countless other signs, and miracles will arise in the whole world. Come and see: In the Garden of Eden below, there is a single place hidden, concealed, unknown—embroidered with many colors; within are hidden a thousand palaces of yearning. No one enters them except Messiah, who abides constantly in the Garden of Eden.

The entire Garden is encompassed by many crowns of the righteous, and Messiah stands over countless forces and camps of souls of the righteous. On festivals and Sabbaths, Messiah enters that place and delights in all those palaces.

Within, within those palaces is another place—concealed and hidden, completely unknown, called Eden. No one is capable of knowing it [cf. Isaiah 64:4]. Messiah is hidden outside, around that place, until a place called קֵן צִפּוֹר (Qen Tsipor), Bird’s Nest, is revealed to him—a place proclaimed by that bird who arouses in the Garden every day.

In that place are embroidered images of all other nations who have gathered against Israel to harm them. He enters that place, raises his eyes, and sees the patriarchs entering the ruins of the House of God, until he sees Rachel, tears on her face, and the blessed Holy One comforting her—but she does not want to be comforted, as is said: She refuses to be comforted for her children (Jeremiah 31:15). Then Messiah raises his voice and weeps, and the whole Garden of Eden trembles and all those righteous ones there scream and weep. He screams and weeps a second time, and the heavens above the Garden tremble, along with 1,500 myriads of supernal camps, until reaching the supernal Throne. Then the blessed Holy One beckons to that bird, who enters her nest and sits by Messiah, crying what she cries, arousing what is aroused.

From within the holy Throne, that Bird’s Nest and Messiah are summoned. All elevate them above, and the blessed Holy One swears to them to eliminate the wicked kingdom from the world by the hand of Messiah and to avenge Israel—and all the goodness that the blessed Holy One intends to do for His people. Then the Bird’s Nest, with Messiah in it, returns to its place, Messiah slipping into its hiding place as before…’

A voice will burst in the branches of the trees of the Garden, calling potently: ‘Awaken, high holy ones! Rise before the Messiah! Behold, the time has come for the Doe to unite with Her Husband. And Her Husband wishes to avenge Her in the world and raise Her from the dust.’

Then they will all rise and gird him with his weapons as before, Abraham on his right, Isaac on his left, Jacob in front of him, Moses the Faithful Shepherd above all the righteous, dancing along in the Garden.

Once the Messiah is arrayed by the righteous in the Garden of Eden, he will enter that place called Bird’s Nest, as previously, and see the image of the destruction of the Temple and the many righteous who were killed there. Then he takes from there ten garments, called ‘garments of zeal,’ and hides himself there for forty days, totally unrevealed.

At the end of forty days a single voice arouses, and from the supernal Throne the Bird’s Nest is summoned along with the King Messiah hidden within. Then he is raised above, and when the blessed Holy One sees King Messiah dressed in garments of vengeance, girded with his weapons, He takes him and kisses him on the head…

He enters into one palace there and sees all the supernal angels called Mourners of Zion—those who weep over the destruction of the Temple, weeping constantly—and they give him a purple robe to wreak vengeance. Then the blessed Holy One hides him away in the Bird’s Nest, where he is concealed for thirty days [cf. Rut Rabbah 5:6]. After ward, within that bird’s nest, he will descend from above to below, arrayed in all those adornments, surrounded by countless holy camps. The whole world will see a radiance hovering between heaven and earth, persisting for seven days, and all inhabitants of the world will be astonished and confounded, totally unable to comprehend—except for the wise, who know these mysteries; happy is their share!

… On that day the whole world will tremble as before, from one end of heaven to the other, and then the whole world will know that King Messiah has been revealed in the land of Galilee. All those who study Torah assiduously will gather round him—though they are few in the world [see BT Sanhedrin 97a]—and through the merit of schoolchildren his strength will be vitalized, overpowering. This is the mystery of fledglings (Deuteronomy 22:6). And if these are not to be found, then infants sitting in their mother’s potent bosom, suckling, as is said: [Whom will he teach knowledge? To whom will he explain a message?] Those weaned from milk, taken from the breast (Isaiah 28:9)—namely, or eggs (Deuteronomy ibid.)—because for their sake Shekhinah dwells with Israel in exile, since as for the wise, few will be found at that time. Thus, and the mother crouching over עַל (al), for the sake of, the fledglings or for the sake of the eggs (ibid.).

Do not take the mother together with the children (ibid.). For the matter does not depend on him—to deliver Her from exile—but rather on the supernal King. Once these children and sucklings empower King Messiah, then supernal Mother, crouching over them, arouses toward Her Husband. For twelve more months, it will be delayed; then Her Husband will come and raise Her from the dust, as is said: I will raise the fallen booth of David (Amos 9:11)” (Zohar 2:8a-9a).

“Men of mysteries offer a pearl to their disciples, and if they do not understand the hint, it is explained to them in jest. For example, a man says that a single egg overthrew sixty villages, because the egg was dropped by a bird in the air and struck the villages. The jesters said that this is not what he meant, but that a man wrote [on a piece of paper] ‘sixty villages’ and the egg dropped by the bird erased ‘sixty villages.’ But perish the thought that the Masters of Torah should say jocular or trivial things in Torah [cf. BT Beḥorot 57b]!

And they taught: Fledglings—Masters of Mishnah. Or eggs—Masters of Scripture. And just as נָפַל (nafal), falling, from that נִפּוֹל (nipol), young bird, He is called, בַּר נַפְלֵי (Bar Nafli), Son of the Fallen [alluding to נֵפֶל (nefel), stillborn (Psalms 58:9; Job 3:16)]. For the the egg [Malkhut] falls, which is like a אֶתְרוֹג (etrog), citron, as it is the same size as an egg, and of Her it is said: I will raise הַנֹּפֶלֶת (ha-nofelet), the fallen, booth of David (Amos 9:11). And with Her fell sixty queens [i.e., the six lower sefirot each of which contains ten (Sullam)] (Song of Songs 6:8), since they are כְּרִיכִין (krikhin), bound, with Her. It has the same sense as in, ‘How they did כּוֹרְכִין (korkhin), bind, the Shema [i.e., recitation of Shema without pausing between phrases]’ (BT Pesaḥim 56a), and these correspond to the sixty tractates [of Mishnah]. And young women beyond number (ibid.); maidens in train, her companions (Psalms 45:15), which are הֲלָכוֹת (halakhot), rulings, without number.

And that נִיפּוֹל (nipol), young bird, is the בֶּן יָהּ (Ben Yah), Son of God [Ze’eir Anpin] Who is within the Fifty Gates of בִינָה (Binah), Understanding, namely יָהּ (Yah), God—”י (ten) times “ה (five) [cf. BT Nedarim 38a]. ו (Vav) is a נִיפּוֹל (nipol), young bird, because He fell, as it is said: How are you fallen from the heavens, O bright star, son of the dawn! (Isaiah 14:12). He is called נִיפּוֹל (nipol), ‘young bird,’ but not נָפַל (nafal), falling, and not נוֹפֵל (nofel), falls [since it is not Him who falls but Malkhut who falls from Him]. י ו (Yod, vav)—He descends through them [in order to raise] ה ה (he, he) [upper and lower] Malkhut, of whom it is said: And the two of them went (Ruth 1:19). It is also written: You shall surely send off [lit., sending off, you shall send off] (Deuteronomy 22:7)—the first [sending off] is the First Temple. The second [you shall send off] the Second Temple, in order to raise them up, as is written: יִשְׂמְחוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְתָגֵל הָאָרֶץ (Yismeḥu ha-shamayim ve-tagel ha-arets)Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exalt [יהוה (YHWH)] (Psalms 96:11)” (Zohar 3:215a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“The Faithful Shepherd said: How obscure these matters are for one who does not know them, and how transparent for one who does! Certainly that bird is the Shekhinah and Her nest is the Temple. And Israel are the fledglings, upon whom the mother [Shekhinah] sits. And the mother is crouched over the fledglings (Deuteronomy 22:6)—Masters of Mishnah, who fly with Her decrees. Or eggs (ibid.)—Masters of Scripture.

But when Israel sinned, and the Temple was destroyed, what is written? You shall surely send off the mother (ibid. 7), as is written: And for your transgressions is your mother put away (Isaiah 50:1). And about the masters of the six orders of Mishnah, it is written: And the sons you may take for yourself (ibid.)—six [orders], from the aspect of six sons [i.e., the six lower sefirot], which are under upper Mother [Binah], and which are alluded to in the six words of the recitation of Shema Yisra’el, or in the six orders of Mishnah. It is all the same, whether [one offers] much or little, if only he directs his mind towards Heaven [Tif’eret], and binds it with the knot of the tefillin on the head and on the hand…

And for this reason, fledglings are from the aspect of ו (vav) which includes the six orders of Mishnah [the six lower sefirot]. Or eggs—Masters of Scripture. And it is said of them: At “ה (five) years old, one is fit for the study of Five [namely, the Five Books of Moses], and this is Malkhut, [which is] ה (he). Sons—aspect of the Son of יָהּ (Yah), God, and these are the Masters of Kabbalah, of whom it is said: You shall not take the mother together with the sons (Deuteronomy 22:6)” (Zohar 3:254b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

I Will Climb into the Palm Tree and Take Hold of its Branches

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Make me know the path of life. Joys overflow in Your presence, delights in Your right hand forever (Psalms 16:11).

Israel said before the blessed Holy One: ‘Master of the Universe! Teach me the path of life [חַיִּים (ḥayyim), life, is numerically equivalent to לוּלָב (lulav), palm branch]!’ He said to them, ‘Here are the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: שֹׂבַע שְׂמָחוֹת (sova’a semaot), joys overflow, in Your presence—read not thus, but rather: שֶׁבַע שְׂמָחוֹת (sheva semaot), these are the sevenmitsvot of the festival, and what are they? The four species, plus סֻכָּה (sukkah), hut, the Ḥagigah (festal) offering, and rejoicing. What is delights in Your right hand נֶצַח (netsaḥ), forever? Rabbi Abin said, ‘This is the palm branch, like one who is מְנַצֵחַ (menatseaḥ), victorious, holds a wand. What is this like? Two who entered before the judge, but we do not know who won, unless we see one of them holding a wand in his hand and then we know that he won. Similarly, Israel and the nations of the world go in and contend with the blessed Holy One on Rosh Hashanah, and we do not know who won, but when Israel depart from His presence with their לֻלַּבּין (lulabin), palm branches, and אֶתְרוֹגִין (etrogin), citrons, in their hands, we know that Israel came out victorious [cf. BT Sukkah 55b]” (Vayiqrah Rabbah 30:2).

“And all the holy forms oversee all the nations. But Israel is holy [of Holies], taking the body of the אִילָן (illan), tree, and its heart. The heart is the stately fruit of the body. Similarly, Israel takes fruit of a stately tree (Leviticus 23:40). The date palm is surrounded by its branches all around it and has its sprout in the middle. Similarly, Israel takes the body of this tree, which is its heart. And paralleling the body is the spinal cord, which is the main part of the body. What is the לוּלָב (lulav), palm branch? לוֹ לֵב (Lo lev), heart to it. The heart is also given over to it. And what is this לֵב (lev), heart? It is the ל״ב (thirty-two) hidden paths of Wisdom that are hidden in it. In each of their paths there is also a form watching over it. Therefore it is written, To guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24)” (Bahir §98, cf. Zohar 3:104a).

Rabbi Beraḥiah sat and expounded: What is the לוּלָב (lulav), palm branch, that we discussed? It is the ל״ו (thirty-six), given over to ל״ב (thirty-two). And how? He replied: There are three princes, the תְלִי (Theli) [alt., תָּלִי (Tali)], the Wheel, and the Heart. Each one is twelve, and the three therefore constitute a sum of thirty-six, through which the world is sustained [see BT Sanhedrin 97b; Sukkah 45b]. Therefore it is written: The Righteous One is foundation of the world (Proverbs 10:25)” (Bahir §101).

A king had an idea to plant ten male trees in a garden. All of them were date palms. He said, ‘Since they are all the same kind, it is impossible for them to endure.’ What did he do? He planted a אֶתְרוֹג (etrog), citron, among them. This was one of those which he had intended to be male. And why is the citron, female? Because it is written, The fruit of a stately tree, fronds of palm trees, [and a branch of a leafy tree and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before YHWH your god seven days] (Leviticus 23:40). What is the פְּרִי עֵץ הָדָר (pri ets hadar), fruit of a stately tree? The Targum renders this, פֵּרֵי אִילָנָא אֶתְרוֹגִין וְלֻלַּבּין וַהֲדַסִּין וְעַרְבִין (pri illana etrogin ve-lulabin va-hadassin ve-arvin), Fruit of the citron tree, palm branches, [myrtles and willows]” (Bahir §172).

What is this that is holy? It is the אֶתְרוֹג (etrog), citron, which is the stateliness of them all. Why is it called stately? Do not read הָדָר (hadar), stately, but הַדַר ­(ha-dar), the guest [from the root לָדוּר (la-dur), to dwell, sojourn]. This refers to the אֶתְרוֹג (etrog), citron, which is not bound together with the לוּלָב (lulav), palm branch. [Yet] without it the mitsvah of לוּלָב (lulav), palm branch, cannot be fulfilled. It is also bound with them all. It is with each one of them, and is unified with them all.

What does the לוּלָב (lulav), palm branch, parallel? It is the spine. Therefore it is written, [Fronds of palm trees,] and a branch of a leafy tree and willows of the brook (Leviticus 23:40). The branches must cover the majority [of the bunch]. If its branches do not cover its majority, it is invalid. Why? What is this like? A man has arms, and with them he protects his head. He has two arms, and his head makes three: a branch of a leafy tree. A branch is to the left, and the leaves are to the right. It then comes out that the tree is in the centre. And why is it called a tree? Because it is the root of the Tree.

What are willows of the brook (Leviticus 23:40)? There are two [willow branches in the לוּלָב (lulav), palm branch], and these parallel the two legs in man. Why are they called עַרְבֵי-נָחַל (arvei naḥal), willows of the brook? Because the greater of the two is inclined toward the מַעֲרֵב (ma’arev), west, and draws its power from there. The one to the north is smaller than it by a journey of five hundred years. It is on the northwest side, through which it functions. It is named after it, since they are both עֲרָבִים (aravim), mixed” (Bahir §175-77).

Why was she called תָמָר (Tamar), Date Palm, and not any other name? Because she was female. Can we then say that she was female [i.e., was this something extraordinary]? But it is because she included both male and female. For every date palm includes both male and female. How is this? The לוּלָב (lulav), palm branch, is male. The fruit is male on the outside and female on the inside. And how so? The pit of a date is cracked like a woman. Parallel to it is the power of the moon above” (Bahir §198).

“A אַמָּה (ammah), cubit [lit., arm], is the measure of the body in four directions and up and down, making six cubits. And each arm has three joints, making eighteen joints in the six cubits, being the secret of the eighteen wavings with the lulav in six directions, three in each direction. Of them it is said: קוֹמָתֵךְ (Qomatekh), Your stature, is like a palm tree (Song of Songs 7:8). And this is the שִׁיעוּר קוֹמָה (shi’ur qomah), measure of the stature, the מִקְוֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל (Miqveh Yisra’el), Gathering of Israel (Jeremiah 14:8) in Shekhinah” (Zohar 3:228a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“She [Malkhut] is raised with the four species up to Thought [Ḥokhmah], as is written: I thought: אֶעֱלֶה (e’eleh), I will climb, the palm, [I will grasp its stalks] (Song of Songs 7:9). אֶעֱלֶה (E’eleh), I will climb, is a sign: אֶתְרוֹג (etrog), citron, עֲרָבָה (arabah), willow, לוּלָב (lulav), palm branch, and הֲדָס (hadas), myrtle” (Zohar 3:283b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetze, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 29b).

A Shelter for Them as a Mother Over Her Children

IMG_0440.JPGAnd on the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall have a sacred assembly, no task of work shall you do, and you shall celebrate a festival to YHWH seven days (Numbers 29:12). And on the fifteenth day—from the side of יָהּ (Yah) [which is numerically equivalent to fifteen]. And you shall celebrate a festival—the letter ו (vav), which is the middle pillar (Ze’eir Anpin). Seven days—בַּת-שֶׁבַע (Bathsheva) [lit., the Daughter of Seven], Malkhut [the final ה (he) of יהוה (YHWH)]. The patriarchs [Ḥesed, Gevurah, and Tif’eret] and the Faithful Shepherd [Netsaḥ], and Aaron [Hod], and David [Malkhut], and שְׁלֹמֹה (Shelomoh), Solomon [alluding to שָׁלוֹם (Shalom), Peace, an appellation of Yesod] are seven, corresponding to seven sefirot. I want to construct for you a סֻכָּה (Sukkah), Hut, which is supernal Mother [Binah], who will provide a shelter over them as Mother over children.

And on account of the seven sefirot, it is said: I made the Israelites dwell in huts when I brought them out of the land of Egypt (Leviticus 23:43), namely, with seven clouds of glory. סוּכָּה (Sukkah), Hut, [spelled] with a letter ו (vav), is in the mystery of the two children [whom Binah provides a shelter, namely], יְהוָה (YHWH) and אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), for the numerical value of סוּכָּה (Sukkah), Hut, amounts to יְאֲהדֹוָנָהי (YAHDWNHY) [mystery of]: The cherubim shall spread their wings above, סֹכְכִים (sokh’khim), shielding, the cover with their wings, and their faces toward each other (Exodus 25:20).

And the cherubs are ten handbreadths from bottom to top [namely, ten sefirot of reflected light], from their feet to their heads, [and ten sefirot of direct light] from their heads to their feet, and they rest on a handbreadth, which is י (yod). Ten from top to bottom and ten from bottom to top, and this is יוֹד (yod) [numerically equivalent to twenty]. And this is why the rabbis ruled that the size of a hut should not be less than ten and not more than twenty. A Hut that is built in the shape of a kiln is from the side of Mother [i.e., Judgment] about which it is said: And Mount Sinai was all in smoke because YHWH had come down on it in fire, and its smoke went up like smoke from a kiln [and the whole mountain trembled greatly] (Exodus 19:18), and it is all one. 

And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime [from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and from rain] (Isaiah 4:6). This is because a roof is required, and this casts a shadow, about which it is said: בְּצֵל (be-tsel), In the shadow, of Shaddai, he lies at night (Psalms 91:1). And the meaning is not of the shadow cast by an ordinary hut that shields the body from the sun, but to the shadow that casts a shield over the נִשְׁמְתָא (neshama), soul: In בְּצִלּוֹ (be-tsillo), His shadow, I delighted to sit (Song of Songs 2:3), and of Whom we said: Under בְּצִלּוֹ (be-tsillo), His shadow, we shall live among the nations (Lamentations 4:20). The word צֵל (tsel) with a final letter ם (mem) added to it forms צֶלֶם (tselem), image [where צֵל (tsel) shadow, alludes to the thatching], and it is said: With צֶלֶם (tselem), an image, a man goes about (Psalms 39:7). Closed ם (mem) has four sides to it [alluding to the four walls of the hut].

And with regard to the teaching: Two according to the regulations, and a third of even a handbreadth; and of him who says three according to the regulations, and a fourth of even a handbreadth: that is because [of the three measurements:] two, three, four, which together make nine. And the handbreadth [that they mentioned with the two or with the three] is the tenth, Malkhut, that makes up every shortage. And this is why the size of a hut is not less than ten, referring to Malkhut, which is the tenth of every sefirot, and not more than twenty, which is כ (kaf), upper כֶּתֶר (Keter), Crown, which is further than the eye can see. This is that upper glory, about which Moses said: Show me, pray, Your glory (Exodus 33:18), to which the blessed Holy One, responded: You shall not be able to see My face (ibid. 20), and there is no כָּבוֹד (kavod), glory, without כ (kaf).

And for this reason the Masters of Mishnah viewed as corresponding to them: a hut made like an alleyway, which is from the side of the letter ב (bet), and in the shape of a right angle, which is from the side of the letter ג (gimel), and like a hut which is from the side of the letter ד (dalet). And these seven letters [which are doubled with the addition of a dagesh allude to the seven sefirot and the seven invalid huts:] ב (bet), ג (gimel), ד (dalet), כ (kaf), פ (peh), ר (resh), and ת (tav): כ (Kaf): כִּבְשָׁן (kivshan), kiln. ב (Bet): בּוּרְגָנִין (burganin), wayside station, and to the remaining [invalid] huts, all of which are referred to by the masters of Mishnah and there is no need to prolong the discussion on them [see BT Sukkah 8a-b].

And corresponding to them are the seven planets, and they are male and female [for when these seven letters are weak they are of the male and when they are strong they are of the female]. And they are therefore called “the seven doubles” (Sefer Yetsirah) and are like the seven candles of the candelabrum and it is said of this: Seven times a daily I praised You (Psalms 119:164). And so: and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon its top (Zechariah 4:2), and likewise, the seven sefirot are double. And so, too, are the seven days of creation below and the seven above: and there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

The palm branch is the Righteous One [Yesod] for the palm branch is like the spinal chord that contains eighteen vertebrae, corresponding to the eighteen shakings with the palm branch. And they correspond to the eighteen blessings of the Amidah, and they correspond to the eighteen mentions [of YHWH] in Grant to YHWH, O sons of God (Psalms 29:1), and the eighteen holy remembrances in the recital of the Shema. And the palm branch is shaken in six directions which makes six, and it is shaken three times in each direction for a total of eighteen.

The palm branch [is taken] in the right [hand], and is comprised of six, namely three myrtle branches: Gedullah, Gevurah, and Tif’eret, and they are like the three colors found in the eye [i.e., white, red, and green]. And the two willow twigs are Netsaḥ and Hod, and they are similar to the two lips. The palm branch Yesod and it is like the spinal cord that supports all the bones and of which David said: All my bones say, ‘YHWH, who is like You?’ (Psalms 35:10). And the citron is Malkhut and is like the heart, in which are thoughts.

And the shakings of the Hallel are common to the shakings of the taking up of the palm branch, and there are eighteen: we beseech You, YHWH, pray, rescue (Psalms 118:25)—eighteen each at the first and last Acclaim [YHWH] (ibid., 1, 29), and eighteen at the taking up of the palm branch, making a total of seventy-two. And this is why לוּלָב (lulav), palm branch, is numerically equivalent to sixty-eight, together with the four species and this is חֶסֶד (Ḥesed) [numerically equivalent to seventy-two], which is the right side. And this is why it was decreed that the palm branch be taken in the right hand, which is the side of Ḥesed, and the citron to the side of Gevurah, to the left—the heart. And this is why it was decreed that the citron, which is like the heart, be held in the left hand, as it has been taught: palm branch in the right hand and citron in the left, corresponding to Remember and Keep. And who is the one taking both? The middle pillar. The palm branch is His right, the citron is His left” (Zohar 3:255b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Come and see: When man sits in this Hut which is the shadow of Faith, the Shekhinah spreads Her wings over him from above and Abraham and five other righteous fix their dwelling with him. This is the meaning of, In huts you shall dwell seven days (Leviticus 23:42). It is written, seven days, rather than, in seven days. Similarly it is written, Six days did YHWH make: the heavens [Tif’eret] and the earth [Malkhut] (Exodus 31:17). One should rejoice every day with a joyful countenance in those אוּשְׁפִּיזִין (ushpizin), guests, that dwell with him” (Zohar 3:103b, Ra’aya Meheimna Emor).

You May Say that Esther has a Bad Reputation yet She was Worthy that the Holy Spirit be Clothed by Her

??????????“Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yehotsadaq: By a majority vote, it was resolved in the upper chambers of the house of Nitza in Lydda that in every law of Torah, if a man is commanded: ‘Transgress and do not suffer death’ he may transgress and not suffer death, except for idolatry, incest [including adultery], and murder… But did not Esther transgress publicly?—Abbaye answered: Esther was merely soil [i.e., only the passive object of the king’s embraces]. But their personal pleasure is different; so here too [the king made Esther transgress for his personal pleasure, not because he desired her to violate her religion]” (BT Sanhedrin 74a-b).

“Rabbi Zera said: Why was Esther compared to a doe [see BT Megillah 15b]? To tell you that just as a doe has a narrow womb and is desirable to her mate at all times as at the first time, so was Esther precious to King Ahasuerus at all times as at the first time” (BT Yoma 29b).

The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she won his grace and favor more than all the other virgins (Esther 2:17). Rav said, ‘If he wished to taste the flavor of a virgin he tasted it; the flavor of a married woman, he tasted it'” (BT Megillah 13a, cf. Zohar 3:58b).

[The Faithful Shepherd said:] ‘Rabbis: We are commanded to punish whoever defames someone’s character, as is written, And they shall fine him a hundred weights of silver and give it to the young woman’s father, for he put out a bad name for a virgin in Israel (Deuteronomy 22:19). This applies to after the wedding, since he says, ‘I found no signs of virginity for your daughter’ (ibid. 17). Not all bad names are alike, since the scouts who put out a bad name on the land were punished for it by dying and not meriting her, and a woman is as earth like the explanation that Esther was [merely] earth.

You may say that Esther has a bad reputation, that she was defiled with Ahasuerus, yet she was worthy that the Holy Spirit be clothed by her, as is written, Esther donned מַלְכוּת (Malkhut), royal, garb (Esther 5:1). Yet the blessed Holy One said, I am YHWH: that is My Name: and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images (Isaiah 42:8). [And yet,] the Holy Spirit is the Shekhinah, a name that was clothed by Esther.’

… The Masters of Mishnah say: It is said of the Matronita: and מַלְכוּתוֹ (malkhuto), His kingdom, rules over all (Psalms 103:19). After Esther donned [royal garb, i.e., Shekhinah/Malkhut] she ruled over Ahasuerus and his people, and it is said of them, [And the rest of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces assembled and defended their lives and had respite from their enemies] and killed of foes, [seventy-five thousand, but they did not lay hands on the spoils] (Esther 9:16). If you say that [Ahasuerus] coupled with her, perish the thought, though they were in the same house. Rather it was like Joseph [and the wife of Potiphar] of whom it says, and she laid out his garment by her (Genesis 39:16). בִּגְדוֹ (Bigdo), his garment—similarly treacherous dealers have dealt very בָּגָדוּ (bagadu), treacherously (Isaiah 24:16) [on the numerous parallels between the stories of Joseph and Esther, see BT Megillah 13b;  Midrash Abba Guryon 11b; Panim Aherot B, 64, 66, 72; Ester Rabbah 7:7].

There is a great secret here, which is why אֶסְתֵּר (Ester), Esther, is derived from סֵתֶר (seter), secret, as is written, You are סֵתֶר (seter), a hiding place, for me (Psalms 32:7)[cf. BT Ḥullin 139b], since the Shekhinah hid her from Ahasuerus and gave him a demoness instead while she returned to Mordecai’s arm. And Mordecai, who knew the explicit Name and the seventy tongues, did all this with wisdom [on having the knowledge of seventy languages, see BT Megillah 13b; Sanhedrin 17a]. And thus the Masters of Mishnah said a man must coo with his wife before he unites with her, for perhaps she has been swapped with a demonness [see BT Nedarim 20b]” (Zohar 3:276a-b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse, cf. Zohar 2:277a).

“יוֹם הַכִּפֻּרִים (Yom ha-Kippurim), the Day of Atonements (Leviticus 23:27)—in the future we will delight in that day and transform it from suffering to delight [i.e., יוֹם כִּפּוּר (Yom Kippur), the Day of Atonement, will become יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים (yom ha-ki-Purim), the day like Purim (a joyous holiday)]… and just as on that day [the priest (Ḥesed)] adorns himself with the garments of atonement so too, regarding Esther it is written, she donned royal garb (Esther 5:1). Just as with these [white garments of the priest] he enters the innermost sanctuary [hoping to obtain atonement for Israel], so too, she stood in the inner court of the king’s house… and she found favor in his eyes (ibid. 2) [cf. Zohar 3:67a; ibid. 109a: ‘And with each and every mere (mention of), הַמֶּלֶךְ (ha-melekh), the king (in the Book of Esther), this is the blessed Holy One’].

Now, what caused the Shekhinah to suffer exile? The mystery of the matter: And so, I shall come to the king not according to rule (Esther 4:16). Because she came without her husband, of whom it says, at His right hand was a fiery law (Deuteronomy 33:2). They abandoned Torah and this caused the destruction of the First Temple and the Second Temple, as is written, and if I perish, I perish! [alluding to two destructions] (Esther 4:16).

Nevertheless, even though she entered without her husband, [namely] words of Torah, she still entered with the [merit of the] patriarchs [who are]: three days, night and day (ibid.), for which she fasted. They were witnesses that the young woman went before the king, as it says, and in this fashion would the young woman come to the king (ibid. 2:13). She who went in to the king indeed remained a virgin young woman, for no man knew her other than her husband.

… Regarding this it is written, and he became guardian to Hadassah (Esther 2:7) [cf. BT Megillah 13a]—[Mordecai] was faithful to her, and she was faithful to him, as is written: and Esther did what Mordecai said, for she was under his guardianship (ibid. 2:20)” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 21, 57b).