The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: בֶּן זוֹמָא

Bribing the Other Side: Save from the Sword My Soul, from the Cur’s Power My Person

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“Come and see: Had [Job] given a portion to all, the Accuser could not have prevailed against him later. Now, you might ask, ‘Why did the blessed Holy One harm him?’ Well, because he caused the light to be covered and concealed, and did not bring another offering, sustaining others—only an ascent offering, rising above. Therefore it is written: This Job did continually (Job 1:5). For if the Other Side had been nourished with a portion, he would have been removed from the Temple and withdrawn, and the side of Holiness would have ascended higher and higher. But he did not want another to be nourished by his offering, so he removed himself from him. How do we know? As is written: and shunning evil (Job 1:1). Therefore he always brought an ascent offering, from which the Other Side never derives pleasure; so everything that he later took was his to take. Thus Job caused foreskin to cover the sealed covenant, from which it did not depart; and consequently the blessed Holy One aroused that Accuser, as is written: Have you noticed My servant Job? (Job 1:8).

Come and see: When the blessed Holy One wished to unite with Israel, the time was not ripe because foreskin covered the light—until that Accuser took what was his from Job. Therefore the blessed Holy One commanded that it be eaten in haste, for that Other Side was engaged with Job, and He commanded them to remove foreskin. Then the blessed Holy One united with Israel, and that Other Side separated from holiness, engaging with Job and taking what was his. Then, It is a passover offering to YHWH (Exodus 12:11). For until now, it was not a passover offering to YHWH. Happy are they who unify their Lord fittingly!…

Come and see: The goat that Israel sends to the dessert is in order to give a portion to that Other Side, with which to be occupied. Now, you might say, ‘Why two goats here—one for YHWH and one for that Other Side? Granted, that goat of the Other Side, but why for YHWH? ‘Well, this may be compared to a king who sat in judgement over his son. He summoned the bailiff, who regularly administers punishment, so that he would prepare to punish his son. That bailiff was glad, and entered the king’s palace to eat there. When his son saw, he said to himself, ‘Surely, this bailiff has come into my father’s palace only because the king is angry with me.’ What did he do? He went and reconciled with him. Once he had done so, the king ordered that the bailiff should not know of it. Afterward, the bailiff entered. The king said to himself, ‘Now if this one knows about the meal that I have prepared for myself and my son, the table will be disrupted.

What did he do? He summoned the butler and told him, ‘Prepare something and place it in front of me and in front of that bailiff, so that he thinks he is dining from my food in my presence, and he won’t know about that precious joyous feast for me and my son; he will take that portion and leave, and withdraw from the joy of our feast.’ If the king had not done so, that bailiff would not have departed from the king’s palace. Therefore the blessed Holy One said, ‘Prepare two goats, one for Me and one for that Denouncer, so that he will think that he is eating from My meal and be unaware of our other joyous feast, and he will take that portion and go on his way and depart from My house” (Zohar 2:181b–185a).

“There is a saying: ‘To the contemptible one in the royal palace—give him a little wine and he will praise you before the king. Otherwise, he will speak evil; and sometimes superiors of the palace convey those words, on account of which the king imposes punishment.’

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘This may be compared to a fool who stands before the king. Give him some wine and then tell him and show him all those deviancies you have committed and all those bad deeds, and he will come and praise you, saying that there is no one in the world like you.

Here, too, the Denouncer is standing constantly before the King. The people of Israel present him this gift, in which is a list of all the bad deeds, all the deviancies, and all the sins that they have committed; and he comes and praises Israel and becomes their Defender. And the blessed Holy One transfers everything onto the head of his people, since it is written For you are heaping live coals on his head, and YHWH will reward you (Proverbs 25:22)” (Zohar 3:101b–102a).

“Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani in the name of Rabbi Yonatan said: Every mitsvah that one performs in this world precedes him and walks in front of him in the world to come, as is said: And your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of YHWH shall be your rear guard (Isaiah 58:8). Likewise, every transgression that one commits מְלֻפַּפְתּוֹ (melupafto), clasps round him, and leads him on the day of judgment, as is said, יִלָּפְתוּ (Yillaftu), they clasp round him, the path of their way (Job 6:18). Rabbi El’azar said: It is attached to him like a dog, as is said, And he would not listen to her, to lie by her, to be with her (Genesis 39:10). To lie by her—in this world; to be with her—in the world to come” (BT Avodah Zarah 5a).

“As the saying goes, ‘Throw a dog a bone and he’ll lick the dust off your feet.’ Son of Zoma was asked, ‘Is it permitted to castrate a dog?’ [see BT Ḥagigah 14b, cf. M Avot 4:1; Zohar 2:89a]? He replied, ‘[And anything with crushed or smashed or torn-off or cut-off testes you shall not bring forward to YHWH, and] in your land you shall not do it (Leviticus 22:24)—to all that is in your land you shall not do it.’ Just as the world needs this, the world needs that! Concerning this is said: and behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31)—the Angel of Death. It must not be eliminated from the world [see BT Sanhedrin 64a]; the world needs it! Even though it is written concerning them: The dogs are fiercely ravenous, [they never know satiety] (Isaiah 56:11), they should not be abolished from the world. All is required—good and bad! Accordingly, on this day we must throw the dog a bone [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 46: ‘They gave him a bribe on Yom Kippur so that he would not nullify Israel’s sacrifice’]. While he is dragging it, the one who enters the hall of the King enters, with no one to hinder him. Afterward, he wags his tail!” (Zohar 3:63b, Piqqudin).

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my rescue are the words that I roar. My God, I call out by day and You do not answer, by night—no stillness for me…. For the curs came all around me, a pack of the evil encircled me, like a lion at my hands and my feet (Psalms 22:2–3, 17).

I considered till morning, that, as a lion, so will He break all my bones: from day even to night will You make an end of me (Isaiah 38:13).

“There is there [in the afterlife] a certain path, and in that path a certain attribute like a dog. When the soul enters any one of those pathways, the dog sees her and immediately he barks. When the demons and angels of destruction hear his voice, they know that a soul is there. Immediately they come and seize the soul and sling her, as is written, The נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), soul, of your enemies He will sling from the hollow of a sling (1 Samuel 25:29), until they cast her into Hell. King David, peace upon him, pleaded before the blessed Holy One to save him from that dog, as is said: Save נַפְשִׁי (nafshi), my soul, from the sword, my only one from the clutches of a dog (Psalms 22:21). Now, was David, king of Israel, afraid of a single dog?! Rather, of that attribute called ‘dog.’

They said further: The souls of Israel do not enter that place of those pathways, and that dog does them no harm, as is said: But against any of the Children of Israel, no dog will snarl (Exodus 11:7)” (Midrash ha-Ne’lamAddendum 2 [Qeta Lo Yadu’a 82–83]).

“Likewise, when a man dies, if he has been meritorious, the image of a lion descends to welcome his נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), soul, but if he has not, an image of a dog descends, of which David said: Save from the sword my soul, from the cur’s hand my person (Psalms 22:21). And since the blessed Holy One desired to save the bodies of Israel from them, and their soul too, He commanded that sacrifices be offered of beasts and bodies in their stead. This is according to: If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. [For you shall heap coals of fire upon his head, and YHWH shall reward you] (Proverbs 25:21–22). But the blessed Holy One takes nothing except the desire of the heart and remorse of the heart, as is written: Elohim’s sacrifices—a broken רוּחַ (ruaḥ)spirit. A broken, crushed heart Elohim spurns not (Psalms 51:19). They are like earthenware vessels, about which it is said: ‘After they are broken, they become pure’ (BT Shabbat 16a)….

A hungry dog: whoever does not want to be bitten by it gives it meat or bread to eat and water to drink. And the secret of the matter is: If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink (Proverbs 25:21–22). He thereby becomes friendly towards the person, and not only does he not bite him, with a number of troubles, but he becomes an advocate for him and loves him” (Zohar 3:247b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

Stoic Like a Lion Until Morning

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Three things stride handsomely and four things handsomely walk: the lion, mightiest of beasts, who does not turn back from anything, the rooster and the he-goat, and the king against whom none can stand (Proverbs 30:29–31).

“The lion is saying, YHWH sallies forth as a warrior, as a man of war He stirs up fury. He raises the battle cry, even bellows, over His enemies (Isaiah 42:13)” (Pereq Shirah).

“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).

“Who is strong? One who turns an enemy into a friend” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan 23:1).

“Son of Zoma said: Who is strong? One who masters his [evil] impulse, as is written, Better patience than a warrior, and he who governs his spirit, than a conqueror of towns (Proverbs 16:32)” (M Avot 4:1).

“Abba Ḥanan said: Who is like You, powerful Yah? (Psalms 89:9). Who is like You, powerful—indurate, that You hear the blaspheming and insults of that wicked man and keep silent? In the academy of Rabbi Yishma’el it was taught: Who is like You among אֵלִם (elim), the gods? (Exodus 15:11). Who is like you among the אִלֵּמִים (illemim), mute” (BT Gittin 56b, cf. Ginnat Egoz 11c; 13d; Zohar 1:36b; 3:221a [RM]; Shemot Rabbah 34:1).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The blessed Holy One—wherever you find His strength you find His meekness” (BT Megillah 31a).

“Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said: Why were they called men of the Great Assembly? Because they restored the Crown of Glory. [For] Moses had come and said: The great and mighty and fearsome God (Deuteronomy 10:17).

Then Jeremiah came and said: Foreigners carousing in His Palace! Where is His fearsomeness? It does not say fearsome [see Jeremiah 32:17: Ah YHWH God! behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great might and outstretched arm, and there is nothing too hard for You].

Daniel came and said: Foreigners are enslaving His sons. Where are His mighty deeds? It does not say mighty [see Daniel 9:4: O Master, great and fearsome God].

But [the men of the Great Assembly] came and said: On the contrary! Therein lies His Might, since He subdues His impulse and He extends patience to the wicked. Therein lies His fearsomeness: For but for the fear of Him, how could one [single] nation persist among the [many] nations! But how could [the earlier] Rabbis [namely, Jeremiah and Daniel] abolish something established by Moses? Rabbi El’azar said: Since they knew that the blessed Holy One insists on Truth, they would not ascribe false [things] to Him [since to them the circumstances indicated that He wished to subdue His mighty or fearsome deeds]” (BT Yoma 69b).

As the lion growls, the manned beast over its prey, when a shepherd’s band gathers against it, it fears not their voice, nor is cowed by their clamor (Isaiah 31:4).

I make myself stoic, like a lion until morning (Isaiah 38:13).

And he shall call out, [like] a lion on lookout: “My Lord I stand perpetually by day and on my watch I am stationed all through the nights (Isaiah 21:8).

Should we accept only good from God and not accept evil? (Job 2:10).

“My God, guard my tongue from evil and my lips from deceitful speech. To those who curse me, may my soul be silent; may my soul be to all like the dust” (BT Berakhot 17a).

“Over evil a blessing is said similar to that over good and over good a blessing is said similar to that over evil” (BT Berakhot 54a).

“There is nothing good higher than עֹנֶג (oneg), pleasure, there is nothing evil lower than נֶגַע (nega), plague” (Sefer Yetsirah 2:2).

Only doing justice and loving kindness and walking humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). What is walking humbly with your God? To escort the dead to the grave and lead the bride to the bridal chamber [both with equanimity]” (BT Sukkah 49b).