The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: בִּינָה

A Shelter for Them as a Mother Over Her Children

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And 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) [numerically equivalent to fifteen]. And you shall celebrate a festival—ו (vav), 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 [Moses] the Faithful Shepherd [Netsaḥ], and Aaron [Hod], and David [Malkhut], and שְׁלֹמֹה (Shelomoh), Solomon [alluding to שָׁלוֹם (Shalom), Peace, an epithet of Yesod] are seven, corresponding to seven sefirot. I want to construct for you a סֻכָּה (Sukkah), Hut—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 [cf. BT Sukkah 11b]. סוּכָּה (Sukkah), Hut, [spelled] with a letter ו (vav), in the mystery of the two children [whom Binah provides a shelter for, 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) [on cherubim as children, see BT Ḥagigah 13b; Sukkah 5b].

And the cherubs are ten handbreadths from bottom to top [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 sukkah, 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] of whom 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 hut 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, of which 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 (nishmeta), 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 [i.e., 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 types of invalid hut:] 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 §37) and are like the seven candles of the candelabrum and it is said of this: Seven times 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 cord 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 ones make 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 and the earth (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).

The Maids Who Grind Grow Idle, for They are Now Few

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“This קְלִפָּה (qelipah), shell… is thin and corresponds to the bran of  wheat, for here it sticks to the wheat and cannot be separated from there without grinding it in the mill-stones, which are correspond to the grinding molar in a man’s jaw, with which matters of Torah have to be ground until they are as fine flour. And in a sieve, which is the lips, the waste matter, which is the bran of Torah, is sorted out until the Halakhah is as pure fine flour. At that time, the heart and the brain and all those parts of the body through which the soul spreads, take that and the soul lives on it just as the body lives on things from this world. One against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14)—just as food for the body, so food for the soul, as is written: Come, partake of my bread (Proverbs 9:5).

And this shell, is like the shell that sticks to the kernel of the nut, for when the nut is soft the shell separates from the kernel without difficulty, but when the nut is dry, it is difficult for man to remove it from there, and the difficult problem still remains. For this reason the blessed Holy One commanded man to return [in repentance] during his youth, before the evil impulse makes him old, as is written: Before a gray head you shall rise (Leviticus 19:32)—before your own old age. And this shell, is fire, about which is written: [And after the fire,] a sound of minute stillness (1 Kings 19:12). [Another shell: darkness over the] deep (Genesis 1:2)—the space that is in the nut about which is written: [And after the fire,] a sound of minute stillness (1 Kings 19:12), for this is where the King comes: [And I saw, and, look, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud,] and fire flashing, and radiance all round it, and from within it like the appearance of חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber, from within the fire (Ezekiel 1:4)….

And all the people of the world on the outside know not how they eat nor do they know their secret, but the sages that are inside do know and they take from them. For the esophagus cannot be examined from the outside, for they do not know, but on the inside they do know and take until it enters the mill and is pulverized and cooked [cf. BT Behorot 45a; Berakhot 61a]. And the liver takes everything, as we had learnt, but from those offerings by fire issue forth stages that take before the liver. And what are they? They are the molar which eat and grind the sacrifices. Therefore, on the destruction of the Temple, it is written: And the maids who grind grow idle, for they are now few (Ecclesiastes 12:3). These are the first to grind….

Netsaḥ and Hod are the two halves of a body, like two twins, which is why they are called skies (Psalms 78:23). The two of them together are וו (vav, vav) of וֵשֶׁט (veshet), esophagus, from the left side, and they are the two molar teeth from the right side [cf. Exodus 30:36: And שָׁחַקְתָ (shaḥaqta), you shall pound it to fine powder. שְׁחָקִים (Sheḥaqim), skies, and שָׁחַקְתָ (shaḥaqta), you shall pound it to fine powder, share the root שָׁחַקְ (shaḥaq) ‘(to) powder’]….

And from the side of וֵשֶׁט (veshet), esophagus [before which there is grinding in the teeth it is said]: The people would שָׁטוּ (shatu), go about, and gather it (Numbers 11:8). It—the collection of decisions in Mishnah. שָׁטוּ (Shatu), go about [is an anagram of וֵשֶׁט (veshet), esophagus]. And grind it between millstones or pound it in a pestle and cook it in a cauldron and make it into cakes (ibid.). It follows that whoever brings out words of Torah, must grind them in his teeth in order to express words that are called שָׁלֵם (shalem), complete. But as for the others that are scorned, these words are swallowed when eaten greedily, without being ground in their molars and their teeth about them it is written: The meat was still between their teeth, it had not yet been chewed, when the wrath of YHWH flared against the people [i.e., the motley throng] (Numbers 11:33). From the root of him who said: Let me gulp down some of this red red stuff, for I am famished (Genesis 25:30) [עָיֵף (ayef), famished, is numerically equivalent to קַיִן (Qayin), Cain, who is the root of Esau]” (Zohar 3:226b–235a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

The Blessed Holy One Placed More Understanding in Women Than in Men

And YHWH Elohim cast a deep slumber on the human, and he slept… And YHWH Elohim built the rib He had taken from the human into a woman (Genesis 2:21).

“A [Roman] Matronita asked Rabbi Yose: ‘Why [was woman created] by theft? He replied, ‘Imagine a man depositing an ounce of silver with you in secret, and you return him a litra [twelve ounces] of gold openly; is that theft!’ ‘Yet why in secret?’ she replied. ‘At first He created her for him and he saw her full of discharge and blood; thereupon He removed her from him and created her a second time.’ ‘I can corroborate your words,’ she said. ‘It had been arranged that I should be married to my mother’s brother, but because I was brought up with him in the same home I became plain in his eyes and he went and married another woman, who was not as beautiful as I.’

It once happened that a devout man was married to a devout woman, and they did not produce children. They said, ‘We are of no use to the blessed Holy One,’ whereupon they arose and divorced each other. The former went and married a wicked woman, and she made him wicked, while the latter went and married a wicked man, and made him righteous. This proves that all depends on the woman….

[Rabbi Yehoshu’a asked:] ‘And why is a man easily appeased, but not a woman?’ ‘Man was created from the earth,’ he answered, and when you pour a drop of water on it, it absorbs it immediately; but Eve was created from bone which even if you soak many days in water does not become saturated” (Bereshit Rabbah 17:7–8).

And YHWH God יִּבֶן (yiven), built, the rib He had taken from the human into a woman (Genesis 2:21)—the blessed Holy One placed more בִּינָה (binah), understanding, in women than in men” (BT Niddah 45b).

“נָבוֹן (Navon), understanding, one thing שֶׁמֵבִין (she-mevin), from, another” (BT Sanhedrin 93b).

“Wherever a distinction is drawn [the feminine noun] דְּרָכִים (derakhim), ways, is taught. Wherever there is no distinction [the masculine noun], דְּבָרִים (devarim), things, is taught’” (BT Qiddushin 3a).

“He [Moses] searched throughout Israel and could not find understanding ones, as is written: I took the heads of your tribes, wise and knowledgeable men (Deuteronomy 1:15), whereas it is not written בִּינָה (binah), understanding. Now, if you say that בִּינָה (binah), understanding, is a higher rung than wise—certainly so!” (Zohar 2:201a, cf. BT Eruvin 100b).

Send Off the Mother: Let Understanding Go

Rav Raḥmai said: What is You shall surely send off the mother, and the children you may take for yourself? (Deuteronomy 22:7). Why does it not say, You shall surely send off the father? But it says, You shall surely send off the mother in honor of the one who is called Mother of the World, as is written, For you will call בִּינָה (binah), understanding, ‘Mother’ (Proverbs 2:3)” (Bahir §§104–105).

“Ten fingers of the hands, corresponding to ten sefirot by which the heavens and earth were sealed. And these ten correspond to the Ten Utterances [or: Commandments], and within these ten all 613 mitsvot are included: If you count the number of letters of the Ten Utterances you will find that there are 613 letters, comprising all twenty-two letters, except for ט (tet) which is absent. What is the reason? To teach that ט (tet) is the בֶּטֶן (beten), belly [Binah or Malkhut], and is not [reckoned with] the sefirot” (Bahir §124, cf. ibid. §84).

And the offspring you may take for yourself (Deuteronomy 22:7)…. This is a sign of compassion? Whoever says this has spoken folly! Someone with pity would have left the mother and children, and continued on his way!” (Zohar Ḥadash 77b, cf. TZ 23a).

“Mother crouches over them, suckling them, and of this is written Do not take the mother above the children (Deuteronomy 22:6). And we have learned: One should not increase his sins below, causing Mother to withdraw from the children. It is also written: She is your mother—do not expose her nakedness (Leviticus 18:7). Woe to one who exposes Her nakedness!” (Zohar 1:219a).

“The blessed Holy One conveys a flow of seven rungs below into that rung united with those seven. Now, you might say, ‘But there are six, and no more!’ Well, Mother is then sitting upon the fledglings, crouching over them, and we get Her to fly away, and we take those six children along with this rung below—fulling the verse that is written: Surely send off the mother, and the children you may take for yourself (Deuteronomy 22:7).

Rav Hamnuna Sava said, ‘On this day [Shavu’ot], Israel takes only five children, who are the five books of Torah.’

Now, you might say, ‘There are six!’ Well, really, there are seven, counting one bird found between the wings of Mother.

The people of Israel know how to hunt for great and precious game. What do they do? They draw out that bird [Shekhinah] from beneath the wings of Mother by murmuring of the mouth, whispering toward Her again and again. And that bird loves those murmurings and those sounds that they whisper to Her. Although She is beneath the wings of Her Mother, She raises Her head, gazes toward that whispering sound, and flies to them, emerging from beneath Her Mother’s wings.

As soon as the people of Israel receive Her, they hold Her tight, whispering to Her, binding Her in a bind so that She will not fly away. They immediately grasp that bond, and She tries to fly off but cannot get away. While that bond is in their hands, they whisper with their voices and She chirps along with them, flying up and descending.

When all those Sons beneath the wings of their Mother hear the chirping of their Sister—that bird—and that whispering sound, they immediately emerge from beneath their Mother’s wings and fly toward that bird, and the people of Israel take them and grasp them. Were it not for that bird whom they grasp at first, [the Sons] would never fly to them and they could not grasp them.

How do they capture this holy bird? They prepare precious food for Her joyously with all sorts of delights, entering the synagogue and house of study—chirping to Her, whispering to Her softly, fittingly. And She, concealed beneath Her Mother’s wings, raises Her head and sees prepared tables, with chirping toward Her fittingly; She emerges and flies to them, as has been said, with all those Sons grasping Her.

They send off the Mother who is crouching over them, and She goes away. Because from the seventh heaven and above—’What is concealed from you, do not explore or search.’ Send it off, for you will not be able to comprehend. Of this is written Surely send off the mother, and the children you may take for yourself, so that it may go well with you and you will prolong your days (Deuteronomy 22:7)” (Zohar 3:254b).