The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: אתערוּתא דּלתתּא

They Searched and Found One Flask of Oil Laying Undisturbed with the Seal of the High Priest: Blessings from Above Manifest Only at a Site of Substance, not Emptiness

tumblr_inline_nxrdmyLDHu1sfjjkp_1280.jpgAnd you shall make a lamp stand of pure gold…. Take you clear oil of beaten olives for the light, to kindle a lamp perpetually (Exodus 25:31, 27:20).

“What is Ḥanukkah? The Rabbis taught: On the twenty-fifth of Kislev the eight days of Ḥanukkah begin on which a lamentation for the dead and fasting are forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple they defiled all the oils that were in the Temple, yet when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they searched and found one flask of oil laying undisturbed with the seal of the High Priest. However, there was enough for only one day’s lighting. A miracle occurred and they lit from it eight days. The following year these [days] were appointed a Festival with Hallel and thanksgiving” (BT Shabbat 21b).

“Come and see how the character of the blessed Holy One differs from that of flesh and blood. In the case of flesh and blood, an empty vessel holds [more], but not a full one. However, the blessed Holy One is not so: a full vessel holds [more], but not an empty one” (BT Berakhot 40a).

And a certain woman from the wives of the acolyte prophets had cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant, my husband, died. And you know that your servant was a YHWH fearer. And the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing at all in the house except a flask of oil.” And he said, “Go, borrow vessels for yourself from outside, from all your neighbors—empty vessels, and not just a few. And you shall come and close the door behind you and behind your sons, and you shall pour into these vessels, and the full ones you shall set aside.” And she went from him and closed the door behind her and behind her sons. They were bringing the vessels to her and she was pouring. And it happened when the vessels were full that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel,” and he said to her, “There are no more vessels.” And the oil stopped. And she came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons will live off what is left (2 Kings 4:1–7).

Tell me, what do you have in the house? (2 Kings 4:2)… for supernal blessings settle only upon a place that is complete [i.e., full and not empty]. This is the mystery of In the heart of all who are wise-hearted I have set wisdom (Exodus 31:6), and similarly, He gives wisdom to the wise (Daniel 2:21) [cf. BT Berakhot 55a in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan. On blessing not appearing in an empty place, see BT Sanhedrin 92a, in the name of Rabbi El’azar; Naḥmaindes on Exodus 25:24; Zohar 1:88a–b, 240a, 250a; 2:63b, 67a, 87b–88a, 154b–155a, 157b; 3:34a]” (Zohar 2:157b).

“Every wise person has his eyes and his words on his head, focused on Who is resting right there. With his eyes there he knows that the light kindled on his head needs oil. For the human body is a wick, and a light is kindled above. King Solomon cried out: Let… your head not lack oil (Ecclesiastes 9:8)—the light on one’s head needs oil, the oil of good deeds!” (Zohar 3:187a).

“Why is Israel compared to an olive? To teach that just as the olive does not produce its oil until it is crushed, so too Israel does not return except through suffering” (BT Menakhot 53b).

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Bread of Shame

imageThe hater of gifts shall live (Proverbs 15:27).

“One who eats from his friend’s food is ashamed to look at him” (JT Orlah 1:5, 61b).

“Two people eat from the same bowl, but each one tastes according to his deeds” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan §37).

“Son of Azzai said: By your name you will be called, to your place you will be restored and from what belongs to you will you be given. No man can touch what is prepared for his fellow and ‘One kingdom does not interfere with the other even to the extent of one hair’s breadth’ (BT Berakhot 48b)” (BT Yoma 38a–b).

“Before souls come to the world, they resemble one who eats the bread of the King without serving Him. And this is why the sages say that it is good for man to have been created [see BT Eruvin 13b]…. Souls feel ashamed to eat the bread of the King without serving Him, and therefore they yearn to come to the world… so as to leave that shame; they seek to come to this world, to engage in Torah and mitsvot, to till it and watch it (Genesis 2:15) so that they may eat bread without shame” (Rabbi Yosef Karo, Maggid Meisharim, Bereshit, cf. Zohar 2:87a, Sava de-Mishpatim: “The blessed Holy One says, ‘From the day you were created, for this were you created: to be in that world.’ Once the soul sees this she descends unwillingly and enters there”).

“Rabbi Yehudah opened, ‘Is it not to share your bread with the hungry? (Isaiah 58:7). Come and see: Happy is one’s portion when he encounters a poor person! For a poor person is a gift that the blessed Holy One has sent to him. Happy is the share of one who receives that gift cheerfully!…’ Is it not to share your bread with the hungry? What is פָרֹס (paros), to share? לְמִפְרַס (Le-miphras), to spread, a tablecloth with bread and food to eat. Alternatively, Is it not פָרֹס (paros), to share?—as is said: פְּרֵס פְּרִיסַת (Peres perisat), פְּרֵס (peres)—has been divided (Daniel 5:28), for one should לְמִפְרַס פְּרִיסִין (le-miphras perisin), break pieces, of bread before him so that he will not feel ashamed, and one should break it before him generously” (Zohar 2:198a).

“I have the following tradition from my grandfather’s family: At all times shall one [rather] hire himself out to עֲבוֹדָה זַרָה (avodah zarah), idol-worship [lit., foreign worship], than be in need [of the help] of [his fellow] creatures. He thought that עֲבוֹדָה זַרָה (avodah zarah), [meant] actual [idol worship], but it is not so, [the meaning being,] ‘work which is foreign to him;’ as Rav said to Rabbi Kahana: Flay a carcass in the street and earn a wage, and say not, ‘I am a great man and the work is degrading to me’” (BT Bava Batra 110a).

“Tanna debe Eliyyahu [taught]: Though Rabbi Akiva said, ‘Treat your Sabbath like a weekday rather than be dependent on men,’ yet one must prepare something small at home [as a gesture in honor of the Sabbath]. What is it? Rav Papa said: Fried fish [thus even the poorest must make an effort to honour the Sabbath]. As we learned, Rabbi Yehudah son of Teima said: ‘Be as bold as a leopard, swift as an eagle, fleet as a gazelle, and as mighty as a lion, to do the will of your Father in Heaven’ (M Avot 5:24)” (BT Pesaḥim 112a).

“Please, LORD our God, do not make us dependent on the gifts or loans of other people, but only on Your full, open, holy and generous hand so that we may suffer neither shame nor humiliation for ever and all time” (Birkat ha-Mazon).

“Our Rabbis taught: It once happened that a man’s wife died and left behind a nursing child, and the man could not afford to pay a wet-nurse. A miracle happened to him and his breasts opened like a woman’s breasts and he nursed his son. Rabbi Yosef said, ‘Come and see how great was this man, that such a miracle was performed on his account!’ Abbaye said to him, ‘Just the opposite: how terrible was this man, that his body was changed!’ Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Come and see how difficult it is to attain food for a person—so much so that his body was changed!’ Rabbi Naḥman said: Know that miracles do occur, but food is not simply created” (BT Shabbat 53b).

“A person should not embolden himself to say: ‘The blessed Holy One will save me,’ or ‘He will do this for me.’ Rather, he should place his strength in the blessed Holy One, to help him fulfill the commandments of Torah and walk in the way of truth, for as soon as one comes to purify himself, he is certainly assisted [cf. BT Shabbat 104a]. So should one fortify himself in the blessed Holy One—in order that He may help him—holding fast to Him, not placing his strength in another. So, whose strength is in You (Psalms 84:5)” (Zohar 1:142a).

Happy all who fear YHWH, who walk in His ways. When you eat of the toil of your hands, happy are you, and it is good for you (Psalms 128:2).

“One who supports himself from his own labor is greater than one who fears Heaven” (BT Berakhot 8a).

“’If a man deposits produce with his neighbor, even if it is suffering loss, he must not touch it. Rabbi Shim’on son of Gamaliel said: He must sell it by order of the court, because it is like returning lost property to its owner’ (Mishnah)—what is the reason? Rabbi Kahana said: A man prefers a measure of his own to nine of his neighbor’s” (BT Bava Metsi’a 38a).

“Rabbi Natan son of Abba further said in the name of Rav: He who is dependent on another’s table, the world is dark to him, for it is said: He wanders for bread—where is it? He knows that the dark day awaits him (Job 15:23). Rabbi Ḥisda says: Also, his life is no life” (BT Beitsah 32b).

The Three Oaths

Image“Rabbi Zera was evading Rav Yehudah because he desired to go up to the Land of Israel while Rav Yehudah had said, ‘Whoever goes up from Babylon to the Land of Israel transgresses a positive commandment, for it is said, They shall be carried to Babylon, and there shall they be until the day that I visit them, says YHWH; then will I bring them up, and restore them to this place (Jeremiah 27:22).’ And Rabbi Zera? [how could he act against this text?]—this refers to the vessels of ministry. And Rav Yehudah?—it is also written: I make you swear, O daughters of Jerusalem by the deer or the gazelles of the field… (Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5).

And Rabbi Zera?—this implies that Israel shall not go up [all together as if surrounded] by a wall [alter., ‘like a wall’]. And Rav Yehudah?—another swear to Me is written in Scripture. And Rabbi Zera?—this is required for [an exposition] like that of Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Ḥanina who said: ‘What was the purpose of those three adjurations [cf. Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5; 5:8]?—one, that Israel shall not go up [altogether as if surrounded] by a wall; the second, that whereby the blessed Holy One adjured Israel that they shall not rebel against the nations of the world; and the third is that whereby the blessed Holy One adjured the idolaters that they shall not oppress Israel too much.’

And Rav Yehudah?—it is written that you will not rouse not stir love until it is ripe (Song of Songs 2:7). And Rabbi Zera?—that text is required for [an exposition] like that of Rabbi Levi who stated: ‘What was the purpose of those six adjurations [each of the three adjurations is repeated]?—three for the purposes just mentioned and the others, that [the prophets] shall not make known the end, that [the people] shall not delay the end [by their misdeeds], and that they shall not reveal the secret to the idolaters.’ By the deer or the gazelles of the field—Rabbi El’azar explained: The blessed Holy One said to Israel, ‘If you will keep the adjuration, well and good; but if not, I will permit your flesh [to be a prey] like [that of] the deer or the gazelles of the field’” (BT Ketubbot 110b–111a).

“Resh Lakish was swimming in the Jordan. Thereupon Rabbah son of Son of Ḥana came and gave him the hand: If she is a wall, we will build on her a silver turret. If she is a door, we will besiege her with cedar boards (Song of Songs 8:9). Had you [Assembly of Israel] made yourself like a wall and had all come up in the days of Ezra, you would have been compared to silver, which no rottenness can ever affect. Now that you have come up like doors, you are like cedar boards, which rottenness prevails over” (BT Yoma 9b).

“Rabbi Yose said to him, ‘All this is longer than the Companions have established, namely, one day of exile for Assembly of Israel, no more, as is written: He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13).’ He replied, ‘So I learned from father in the mysteries of letters of the Holy Name, the duration of the world and the days of Creation—all a single mystery” (Zohar 1:116a–18b).

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq opened, ‘Before the day breathes and the shadows flee (Song of Songs 4:6). Before the day breathes—the exile of Israel; that they would be subjugated in exile until the day when rule of the peoples is ended.’ For we have learned that Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘The dominion of all peoples together over Israel would last one thousand years. There is no אוּמָה (ummah), people, that would not subjugate them. ‘One day’ corresponds to: But it shall be one day which shall be known to YHWH, [not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light] (Zechariah 14:7).

Another explanation: Before the day שֶׁיָּפוּחַ (sheyafuaḥ), breathes—before that day the peoples יָפוּחַ (yafuaḥ), expire. And the shadows flee—princes ruling over them. I will hurry to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense (Song of Songs 4:6). Said the blessed Holy One ‘I will betake Myself to shake the peoples from Jerusalem, the הַר הַמּוֹר (har ha-mor), the mountain of myrrh,’ as is written, Jerusalem on הַר הַמּוֹרִיָּה (har ha-moriyah), mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1). And to the hill of frankincense—the Temple that is in Zion, as it is written, Lovely in heights, all the earth’s joy, Mount Zion (Psalms 48:3). And it is written, To seize the earth’s corners, that the wicked be shaken from it (Job 38:13)—as one holds a garment to shake all the filth from it.’

Rabbi Yose said, ‘The blessed Holy One will eventually be revealed in earthly Jerusalem, and purify it from the filth of the peoples, before the day of the peoples is complete [cf. BT Ta’anit 5a].’ For Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Dominion over Israel lasts only one day, and that is a day of the blessed Holy One which is one thousand years [cf. BT Sanhderin 97a; Bahir §5: Each day of the blessed Holy One is a thousand years, as it is written, For a thousand years in Your eyes are like yesterday gone (Psalms 90:4)]. This is what is written, He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13)—one day, and no more.’

Rabbi Yose said, ‘If they are subjugated more than one thousand years, it is not because of the King’s decree, but rather because they do not wish to return before Him [in repentance to the Land of Israel]. And it is written, And it shall be, when all these things come upon you, [the blessing and the curse that I have set before you, that your heart shall turn back among all the nations to which YHWH your God will make you to stray] (Deuteronomy 30:1–2), and, Should your strayed one be at the edge of the heavens, from there shall YHWH your God gather you (ibid., 4)’” (Zohar 2:17a, Midrash ha-Ne’lam).

“He opened, saying, ‘Look, the day is still long; it is not time to gather in the herd. Water the sheep and go and let them graze (Genesis 29:7). This verse has already been established, for when the people of Israel arouse teshuvah before the blessed Holy One, by the merit of Torah they will return to the Holy Land and be gathered from exile. For surely the exile of Israel will be for one day and no more, as is written: He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13).

If they do not engage in teshuvah, the blessed Holy One says, Look, the day is still long; it is not time to gather in the herd—without merit, without worthy deeds. But there is one remedy for you: Go, water the sheep—delve into Torah and be watered by it—and go and let them graze in a restful place, in the fine, desirable place of your inheritance.’

Alternatively, He said, ‘Look, the day is still long…‘—the day called a day of tumult and din and confusion (Isaiah 22:5), on which the Temple was destroyed and Israel fell into exile. In the face of evil deeds, that day is prolonged and extended, as is written: The day is still long; it is not time to gather in the herd—because they are prolonging that day. Water the sheep—as has been said, with words of Torah, for by the merit of Torah Israel will come out of exile” (Zohar 3:270a–b).

Open for me, my sister, my friend, my dove, תַמָּתִי (tammati), my perfect one (Songs of Songs 5:2). Because, תַּם (tam), Complete, is the punishment of your offence, O daughter of Zion; He will no more carry you away into exile (Lamentations 4:22).

For my head is filled with dew (Song of Songs 5:2). Filled with dew? Rather, the blessed Holy One says, ‘Do you then imagine that from the day the Holy Temple was destroyed I have entered My house, or entered My dwelling place? Not so! I have not entered at all since the time of your exile. Behold you have a sign: For my head is filled with dew.

הא (He)—Shekhinah in exile [separated from יוה (Yod He Vav)]. Her perfection and Her life is טַל (tal), dew, and this is: יוד הא ואו (Yod He Vav). הא (Heis Shekhinah which is not of the dew. But יוד הא ואו (Yod He Vav) is numerically equivalent to ל״ט (thirty-nine) [and טַל (tal), dew]. He fills the Shekhinah from the flowing of all supernal sources (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 17b).

The Serpent and the Messiah

Image“And the human called his woman’s name חַוָּה (Ḥavva), Eve, for she was the mother of all that lives (Genesis 3:20)—she was given to him for an adviser, but she played the eavesdropper like the serpent. He showed her how many generations she had destroyed. Rabbi Aha interpreted: The serpent was your serpent [i.e., seducer], and you are Adam’s חִוְיָא (ḥivya), serpent” (Bereshit Rabbah 20:11).

And she bore a son and called his name Seth, as to say, ‘God has granted me other seed in place of Abel, for Cain has killed him’ (Genesis 4:25). Rabbi Tanḥuma said in the name of Shemu’el Kozit: [She hinted at] seed which would arise from another source, namely the King Messiah [i.e., not from Hebrew stock]” (Bereshit Rabbah 23:5).

And this is the lineage of Perez. Perez begat Hezron. And Hezron begat Ram and Ram begat Aminadab. And Aminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmah. And Salmah begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed. And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David (Ruth 4:18–22).

“Rabbi Abba son of Qahana opened, רִגְזוּ (Rigzu), quake, and do not offend (Psalms 4:5). David said to the blessed Holy One ‘How long will מִתְרַגְּזִים (mitraggezim), they rage against, me and say, Is he not of tainted descent? Is he not a descendant of Ruth the Moabite? Speak in your hearts on your beds (ibid.). You also, are you not descended from two sisters [namely, Rachel and Leah who married the same man]? Look upon your own genealogy and be still (ibid.). And Tamar who married your ancestor Judah—is it not a tainted descent? She was but a descendant of Shem the son of Noah [who married his sister, see Jubilees 4:11]. Have you then an honorable descent?’

[Quake and do not offend] Rabbi Ya’aqov son of Ahiyah said: Fight against your impulse and sin not. The Rabbis explain: Anger your impulse and sin not.

וְאֵלֶּה (Ve-elleh), And these, are the lineage of Perez (Ruth 4:18). Rabbi Abba said: Wherever אֵלֶּה (elleh), these, occurs, it invalidates the preceding; וְאֵלֶּה (ve-elleh), and these, adds to the preceding.

And Hezron begat Ram (ibid., 19). But was not Jerahmeel the elder son, as is written, The sons also of Hezron, that were born unto him; Jerahmeel, and Ram, and Chelubai (1 Chronicles 2:9)? [Jerahmeel is omitted] because he married a Canaanite woman in order to adorn himself with her, as is written, Jerahmeel had also another wife, whose name was עֲטָרָה (Atarah)Diadem, Adornment (ibid. 2:26).

And Ram begat Aminadab. And Aminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmah (Ruth 4:19–20). [Why is he called שַׂלְמָה (Salmah)?] Because up to him they formed סוּלָמוֹת (sulamot), ladders, of princes, from him onwards they formed ladders of kings.

Rabbi Yitsḥaq opened, Then did I think: Look, I come (Psalms 40:8). I ought to have sung a song that I have come, since the word אָז (az), then, refers to song, as is said, אָז (az), then, did Moses sing (Exodus 15:1). I was included in the verse No Ammonite nor Moabite shall come into YHWH’s assembly. [Even his tenth generation shall not come into YHWH’s assembly ever] (Deuteronomy 23:4), but I have come with the scroll of the book written for me (Psalms 40:8). With the scroll—referring to: whom You did command that they should not enter into Your assembly (Lamentations 1:10). The book—as is said, No Ammonite nor Moabite shall come into YHWH’s assembly. And not only have I been allowed to enter, but in the scroll of the book it is written concerning me. In the scroll—Perez, Hezron, Ram, Aminadab, Nahshon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David; the bookAnd YHWH said, ‘Arise, anoint him, for this is the one’ (1 Samuel 16:12).

Rav Huna said: It is written [And she bore a son and called his name Seth, as to say,] ‘God has granted me other seed [in place of Abel, for Cain has killed him’] (Genesis 4:25)—seed from another place, referring to the Messiah [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 23:5; 51:8]. Rabbi Berekiyah and Rabbi Shim’on said: We may illustrate with a parable: A king who was travelling from one place to another, when a precious pearl fell from his head. So the king and all his retinue stopped there. All the passers-by asked, ‘What are the king and his retinue doing here?’ They discerned the reason and said, ‘A pearl has fallen from his head.’ What did he do? He gathered all the soil into heaps and brought brooms [alt., sieves]. He had one heap swept, but did not find it; a second heap, and he did not find it; but in the third, he found it, and they announced ‘The king has found his pearl!’ So the blessed Holy One said to Abraham, Go forth [lit., Go to yourself] (Genesis 12:1). It was to you that I looked forward. What need had I to record the lineage of Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, and Terah? (1 Chronicles 1:24–26). Only on account of you, Abram; the same is Abraham (ibid.); And found his heart faithful before You (Nehemiah 9:8). So said the blessed Holy One to David, ‘What need had I to record the lineage of Perez, Hezron, Ram, Aminadab, Nahshon, Salmah, Boaz, Obed, and Jesse? Only on account of you; I found David My servant (Psalms 89:21)” (Rut Rabbah 8a).

“Come and see: Tamar was the daughter of a priest. Now, would you ever imagine that she set out to whore with her father-in-law, given that she was inherently modest? Rather, she was righteous and did this out of wisdom. She offered herself to him only because she possessed knowledge and contemplated wisdom. So she approached him to act kindly and faithfully; that is why she came to him and engaged in this affair.

Come and see: Because she possessed knowledge and exerted herself in this affair, the blessed Holy One offered assistance in that very act and she immediately conceived. All issued from Him.

Now, you might ask: ‘Why didn’t the blessed Holy One bring those sons through some other woman? Why through this one? But precisely she, and no other woman, was needed for this act.

There were two women through whom the seed of Judah was established, from whom issued King David, King Solomon, and King Messiah. These two women correspond to one another: Tamar and Ruth, whose husbands died first, who exerted themselves in this action.

Tamar enticed her father-in-law, who was next of kin to his sons who had died. Why did she entice him? As is written: for she saw that Shelah had grown up and she had not been given to him as wife (Genesis 38:14). That is why she engaged in this act with her father-in-law.

As for Ruth, her husband died and then she engaged in this act with Boaz, as is written: She uncovered his feet and lay down (Ruth 3:7). Engaging with him, she later gave birth to Obed. Now, you might ask ‘Why didn’t Obed issue from another woman?’ But precisely she was needed, no one else.

From these two, the seed of Judah was established and consummated. Both of them acted properly, acting kindly toward the dead so that the world would later be enhanced. This corresponds to what was said: I praise the dead, who have already died (Ecclesiastes 4:2), because when they were first alive, they were not praiseworthy, but later they were. Both of them exerted themselves to act kindly and faithfully toward the dead, and the blessed Holy One assisted in that act. All was fitting!

… It is written: Look, there were twins in her womb! (Genesis 38:27)—they were twins; previously they were brothers [Er and Onan].

Rabbi Ḥizkiyah said, ‘That’s not the implication! Rather, other sons were born.’ Rabbi Abba said, ‘This is why she exerted herself: to recover what had been lost.’

Come and see what is written: As he was drawing back his hand, look, out came his brother, and she said, ‘What a breach you have breached for yourself!—alluding here to the original, licentious breach that he breached, because of which he died. This is implied by the phrase you have breached for yourself—for yourself you have breached a breach, since you had to trouble your Lord; consequently, you will make a breach in other nations. So, he named him פָּרֶץ (Perets), Breach.

After the entire incident of Judah has been told—how he sold Joseph and brought all of this about: for if Judah had said, ‘Let’s return him to our father,’ his brothers would have done so; consequently, his brothers demoted him from dominion over them. After he was banished from his brothers and all this came upon him, Scripture speaks of Joseph: Joseph was brought down to Egypt. Why was brought down? Because the blessed Holy One approved that act, to fulfill the decree that He had issued: Know well that your seed will be strangers… (Genesis 15:13)” (Zohar 1:188a–b, cf. Bahir §197–§198).

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

“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).

“Seed of David… In his anger he is calm, immediately appeased; but he retains enmity like a serpent in the end, for that side provokes this, surrounding on all sides. However, the kernel within the shell and the heart are upright and firm” (Zohar 2:74b).

Like Water Face to Face thus the Heart of Man to Man

For He draws down drops of water, they are distilled in the rain of His wetness, as the skies drip moisture, shower on abounding humankind (Job 36:27–28).

“Why had He not rained (Genesis 2:5)? Because no arrayal welled up from earth. So from earth below action is aroused above. Come and see: Vapor ascends from the earth at first, a cloud is aroused, and then all conjoins. Similarly, smoke of sacrifice… If Assembly of Israel did not initiate arousal, the one above would not be aroused toward Her. By desire below, all is consummated” (Zohar 1:35a).

“And the secret of the matter is as they said in Ta’anit [25b]: Not one drop descends from above without two drops coming up to meet it. And they are in this mystery: their hint corresponds to three minds [lit., brains]: the mind of memory, the mind of thought, and the mind of imagination. Imagination and memory ascend from the heart [which is the seat of conscience], thoughts rest above them, the heart receiving them as a king [cf. Bahir §88–§91]. Because this man, which is thought, mounts and controls the third living being, descending on it to the two living beings that open their wings to receive it, just as a ֹ  [חֹלֶם (Ḥolam)] placed over a ֵ  [צֵרֵי (Tserei)] becomes a  ֒  [סְגוֹלְתָּא (Segolta)]. And this is upper Keter over Ḥokhmah and Binah” (Zohar 3:247a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

Like water face to face thus the heart of man to man (Proverbs 27:19).

A Crown, Throne, and Footstool

the-praying-jewA virtuous woman is a crown for her husband (Proverbs 12:4)

“Rabbi Avin son of Rabbi Adda said in the name of Rabbi Yitsḥaq, ‘How do we know that the blessed Holy One puts on tefillin? For it is said: YHWH has sworn by His right hand and by the arm of His strength (Isaiah 62:8). By His right hand—this is Torah, as is said: From His right hand was a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2). And by the arm of His strength—this is tefillin, as is said: YHWH will give strength unto His people (Psalms 29:11). How do we know that tefillin are a strength to Israel? For it is written: And all the peoples of the earth will see that the name of YHWH is called over you and they will fear you (Deuteronomy 28:10), and it has been taught: Rabbi Eli’ezer the Great says, ‘This refers to tefillin of the head.’ Rabbi Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq asked Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Avin, ‘These tefillin of the Master of the Universe—what is written in them? He replied, ‘Who is like Your people Israel, a unique nation on earth’ (1 Chronicles 17:2)” (BT Berakhot 6a).

I will take away My palm and you will see My back (Exodus 33:23). Rav Ḥana son of Bizna said in the name of Rabbi Shim’on the Devout, ‘This teaches us that the blessed Holy One showed Moses the knot of tefillin [at the back of His head]’” (BT Berakhot 7a).

“A parable: A king had a throne. Sometimes he carried it on his arm, and sometimes on his head. ‘Why?’ they asked. ‘Because it was beautiful and he was hesitant to sit on it.’ They asked: ‘And where did he place it on his head?’ He replied: ‘In the open מ (mem), as is written, Truth from the earth will spring up, as justice from the heavens looks down (Psalms 85:12)’” (Bahir §37).

“’Israel are crowned with three crowns: the crown of priesthood, the crown of kingship, and the crown of Torah which is higher than both’ (M Avot 4:13). To what may this be compared? To a king who had a beautiful and fragrant vessel that he loved greatly. Sometimes he puts it on his head—tefillin of the head. Sometimes he carried it in his hand—the knot of the tefillin of the hand. Sometimes he lends it to his son to sit with him. Sometimes it is called his throne, because in his hand he carries it like an amulet, a kind of throne [alt., cup, see Zohar 1:1a]” (Bahir §152, cf. BT Berakhot 6a; Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 17a).

“Levi is aroused with His finery; and this animal is aroused, diminishing Herself out of love of song. How does She diminish Herself out of love of song? She diminishes Herself little by little until She becomes a single point. Once She has diminished Herself in song, of then is written A man went from the house of Levi [Ze’eir Anpin] and took a daughter of Levi [Malkhut] (Exodus 2:1)—surely, from the left side. How does He grasp Her? He extends the left hand under Her head, out of love [cf. Song of Songs 8:3: His left hand beneath my head, His right hand holding me close].

Now, you might ask, ‘Since She is a single point, how can He grasp such a tiny point? Well, regarding what is above, the smaller something is, the more praiseworthy—this is its virtue, its sublime greatness [cf. BT Megillah 31a: ‘Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Wherever you find the might of the blessed Holy One you find His meekness’].

Immediately, the High Priest [Ḥesed of Ze’eir Anpin] is aroused and grasps and embraces Her. If She were large, She could not be grasped at all; but since She diminished Herself, becoming a single point, She is grasped and raised on high. Once She is raised and sits between these two sides, that column standing in the centre unites with Her—with loving kisses, in a single passionate bind. Then, Jacob kissed Rachel (Genesis 29:11)—with passionate kisses, cleaving to one another inseparably, until She receives Her soul blissfully, as is fitting.

When She receives Her soul of delights and wishes to attend to Her cohorts, they all gather and call Her from the holy palace: ‘Glory, Glory in the holy palace!’ Father and Mother open, saying, ‘Sanctified’ [i.e., sanctification of the new moon, see M Rosh ha-Shanah 2:7]….

Whereas She was a single point, as She descends, She expands little by little and fills out, becoming full in every direction, fittingly adorned” (Zohar 3:250b).

“When She ascends it is written of Her, The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone (Psalms 118:22). When She rises up to the Head of Heads the angels ask ‘Where is the place of His glory to admire Him?’ And when She rises She becomes Keter, a crown on the head of אֹ (alef). When She descends, a point beneath [וִ (vav)]. So when She ascends She is called a crown according to the mystery of the musical intonations, and when She descends, She is called נְקוּדָה (nequdah), Point” (Zohar 1:24b, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

“She appears like this ·☽, like a crescent moon, with a point in the center, that point absorbing light from the Sun to illuminate the entire body.

This is the mystery of the point that inheres in part of the eye—everything exists in the point located in the center, for it absorbs all the light to illuminate the whole eye. Similarly, Moon is illuminated only from one point that abides and is concealed in the center, even though it cannot be seen in Moon.

Come and see: Every circle in the world is formed from the midst of the single point standing in its center. Consequently, the circle of the Moon is from a single point concealed within Her in the center, fashioning all. The point located in the center absorbs all light, shining upon Her body, illuminating all” (Zohar Ḥadash 5b, Sitrei Otiyyot).

“The moon would be shaped sometimes with her beams [or: horns] facing upwards, and sometimes facing downwards, sometimes to the east, and sometimes to the west, sometimes to the south and sometimes to the north. And this is its facing in six directions for Tif’eret, which is the large ו (vav), encompassing them, [namely:] Gedulah, Gevurah, Tif’eret, Netsaḥ, Hod, and Yesod. The point that is drawn [in Moon], from the inside, is Ḥokhmah, and the line that is around Moon is Keter. That point, is sometimes a crown, and sometimes a throne to sit upon, and yet at other times a footstool for His feet” (Zohar 3:248a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

A Flame Bound to a Burning Coal

20091216212726_match_and_flame“Ten סְפִירוּת בְּלִי-מָה (sefirot belimah), numerals of nothingness. Their measure is ten, yet infinite. Their end is embedded in their beginning, their beginning in their end, like a flame bound to a burning coal. Know, contemplate, and visualize that the Maker is one, without a second. Before one what can you count?” (Sefer Yetsirah §6 [MS A]).

“Come and see! In a flame ascending are two lights: one white light, radiant: the other, a light tinged with black or blue. The white light is above, ascending, unswervingly, while beneath it is the blue or black light, a throne for the white, which rests upon it, each embracing the other, becoming one. This black light colored blue, below, is a throne of glory for the white—here lies the mystery of the thread of blue. This blue-black throne is grasped by another substance below, so it can flame, arousing it to embrace the white light. Sometimes this blue-black turns red, while the white light above never wavers, constantly white. This blue one, though, changes color: sometimes blue or black, sometimes red [sometimes green]. This is grasped in two directions: above, by that white light; below, by what lies beneath, by which it is fuelled, primed to glow. This constantly consumes and devours what is placed beneath it, for the blue light consumes anything cleaving below, anything it rests upon, since by nature it consumes and devours. On it depends destruction and death of all… Above the white light hovers a concealed light, encompassing it. Here abides supernal mystery. You will discover all in the ascending flame, wisdoms of the highest” (Zohar 1:51a–52a).

“Come and see: נֶפֶשׁ (Nefesh), Soul—lower arousal, cleaving to the body like the light of a candle. The lower light, which is black, cleaves to the wick, never parting from it, arrayed by it alone. Once arrayed by the wick, it becomes a throne for the white light settling upon the black light. When both are arrayed, the white light becomes a throne for a concealed light—invisible, unknowable—settling upon the white light. Then the light is perfect” (Zohar 1:83b).

“Wood whose light does not ascend—let them strike it, and it will flash. A body in which the light of the soul does not ascend—let them strike it, and the radiance of the soul will ascend; they will unite with one another, shining” (Zohar 3:168a).

“Every wise person has his eyes and his words on his head, focused on [Shekhinah] who is resting right there. With his eyes there he knows that the light kindled on his head needs oil. For the human body is a wick, and a light is kindled above. King Solomon cried out: Let… your head not lack oil (Ecclesiastes 9:8)—the light on one’s head needs oil, the oil of good deeds!” (Zohar 3:187a).

“Come and see: One flame, slender, burning—[from it] all the world is filled. Regard: A thin piece of wood is kindling for a thick one” (Zohar 3:240b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Like a lamp from which many lamps are lit while retaining its vitality” (Zohar 2:86b).

“Once the light of a lamp clings to the wick, that light is never still, but rather sways back and forth, never staying still. Similarly with Israel, whose souls derive from that light of the Lamp. As soon as they cling to words of Torah, the light is kindled—they cannot keep still; they sway back and forth and in all directions like the light of a lamp, for it is written: The soul of a human is the נֵר (ner), lamp, of YHWH (Proverbs 20:27)” (Zohar 3:219a, cf. Ba’al ha-Turim on Exodus 20:15; Kuzari 2:79).

“What is נֵר (ner), candle? נְשָׁמָה (Neshamah), soul, רוּחַ (ruaḥ), spirit” (Zohar 2:99b).