“Jonah, descending into the ship, is the human soul descending into this world to enter a human body. Why is she called יוֹנָה (Yonah), Jonah? Because as soon as she joins the body, she is יֹנַה (yonah), cheated, in this world, as is said: וְלֹא תוֹנוּ (Ve-lo tonu), You shall not cheat, one another (Leviticus 25:17). Then a person moves through this world like a ship in the great ocean about to break up, as is said: The ship threatened to break up (Jonah 1:4).
“Rabbi Shim’on was sitting delving into this portion [Pineḥas] when his son, Rabbi El’azar, came and asked him, ‘What do Nadab and Abihu have to do with Phinehas? If we say that Phinehas didn’t exist in the world when they died and only later came into the world, restoring their place—not so, for, in fact, Phinehas was in the world, serving as deputy high priest, his soul enduring vitally within him!’
He replied, ‘My son, there is a sublime mystery here, as follows: When [Nadab and Abihu] departed from the world, they were not concealed beneath the wings of the holy Rock [Shekhinah]. Why? Because it is written and they had no children (Numbers 3:4)—for they diminished the image of the King, despite being worthy of the high priesthood [cf. BT Yevamot 63a–b; Bereshit Rabbah 34:14, in the name of Son of Azzai: ‘Whoever abstains from procreation is as though he spilled blood and diminished the image’].
When Phinehas acted zealously for the holy covenant—entering amidst the multitudes and hoisting the adulterers on a spear in the sight of all Israel, with all the hordes of the tribe of Simeon coming at him—his soul flew away from him. Two souls that were naked [stripped of children], placeless, approached her, and they merged as one; and נִשְׁמָתֵיהּ (nishmateh), his soul, returned intermingled—כְּלִילָא רוּחָא דְּאִתְכְלִיל בִּתְרֵין רוּחִין (keliyla ruḥa de-itkelil bitrein ruḥin), a spirit mingled with two spirits, invigorated within him. Then he attained their place, to become high priest, which he did not deserve previously.
So he was נָקִי (naqi), innocent (Job 4:7), not perishing at that moment—his spirit did not perish when it flew away from him.
And where were the upright obliterated? (ibid.)—the sons of Aaron [Nadab and Abihu], for what was lost in their lifetime returned to the world. Thus of Phinehas is written son of, son of (Numbers 25:11), twice’” (Zohar 3:217a).
“And this was why Moses said: וַיִּתְעַבֵּר (va-yit’abber), and [YHWH] wasangry,with me for your sakes (Deuteronomy 3:26)—the mystery of עִבּוּר (ibbur), impregnation. The Faithful Shepherd saved 600,000 certain times by rolling [into each generation, see Bereshit Rabbah 56:7: ‘There is no generation which does not contain men like Abraham, and there is no generation which does not contain men like Jacob, Moses, and Samuel.’ Cf. Rabbi Yitsḥaq of Akko, Me’irat Einayim 134a]. For this reason the blessed Holy One ascribed to him the merit of all of them, and this is why the Rabbis taught: ‘One woman in Egypt brought forth in one womb 600,000 at one birth’ [see Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 4:2]. And although the Rabbis expounded this verse with regard to other matters ‘Torah has seventy faces’ (Bemidbar Rabbah 3:15) [on the Rabbis’ interpretation of Deuteronomy 3:26, see BT Berakhot 32b; Sotah 13b]” (Zohar 3:215a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).
הֶבֶל (Hevel), mere breath, all humankind (Psalms 39:12).
“Come and see: When actions prove worthy below, and a person contemplates the service of the Holy King, the act he performs turns into a breath above. And there is no breath without a voice—rising, crowned above, becoming an advocate before the blessed Holy One. Every action in which a person engages that is not in the service of the blessed Holy One turns into breath that goes drifting through the world. And when the person’s soul departs, that breath whirls through the world like a stone in a sling, as is written: The soul of your enemies He will sling from the hollow of a sling (1 Samuel 25:29). Who will sling? That breath conducting it around the world. So, everything done under the sun that is not in the service of the blessed Holy One turns into a breath—but it is breaking of spirit, for it breaks the spirit, rising and falling in the world, as is written: breath and shattering of spirit (Ecclesiastes 1:14)” (Zohar 2:59a).
“A spirit leaving this world who has not grown or spread in this world undergoes rolling and finds no rest, comes revolving into the world like a stone in a sling until it finds a redeemer to redeem it…. The spirit that he left, adhering to that vessel, is not lost—for nothing in the world, be it ever so small, lacks a place in which to be hidden and absorbed; it is never lost” (Zohar 2:99b).
“Should brothers dwell together and one of them die and have no son…her brother-in-law shall come to bed with her and take her to him as wife (Deuteronomy 25:5). This decree is to marry one’s brother’s widow, since a brother’s widow is the ד (dalet) in אֶחָד (eḥad), one, and together with אָח (aḥ), brother, of [the word] אֶחָד (eḥad) it is one. And if, perish the thought, he does not with a [whole] heart wish to bring his אָח (aḥ), brother, to ד (dalet), being the wife and mate of his [deceased] brother [but focuses on his own pleasure] he creates a separation and brings Samael, another god, in between. It says of him, he would waste his seed on the ground (Genesis 38:9). [Consequently] the tip vanishes from the letter ד (dalet), of אֶחָד (eḥad) [becoming] ר (resh); [thus] אֶחָד (eḥad), one, [becomes] אַחֵר (aḥer), other [cf. BT Sotah 20a]. This is why when he would come to bed with his brother’s wife he would waste his seed on the ground so to give no seed to his brother (ibid.). Spilling seed in vain withholds many blessings from one, and [causes] separation. This is why, Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the eyes of YHWH, and YHWH put him to death (ibid., 7).
Uniting the אָח (aḥ), brother, with ד (dalet) is done by means of the righteous, like בֹּעַז (Boaz), Boaz, who over came his impulse—בּוֹ עוֹז (bo oz), strength in him, namely, he has a strong impulse…. And thus it was in former times in Israel concerning redemption and concerning exchange to fulfill every condition: a man would remove his sandal and give it to his fellow man(Ruth 4:7).
This alludes to changing the Name, which here is מצפץ (MTsPTs) [a permutation of the Name יהוה (YHWH) according to the method of atbash]. אֶהְיֶה (Eheyeh), I-Will-Be [Who-I-Will-Be] (Exodus 3:14)—’אַיֵּה (Ayyeh), where, is the place of His glory to adore Him?’ (Keter Yitenu Lekha) [a piyut (liturgical hymn) used for Qedushah le-Musaf on Sabbaths and Festivals according to Sephardic custom. Cf. Rabbi Leone Modena, MS A 36a, 21–22]. יהו (YHW) is אֶהְיֶה (eheyeh), I will be—a change of place. אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) is א (alef), and אֶהְיֶה (eheyeh)—a change in deed; י (yod) is יֱהֹוִה (YHWH), and both change with אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) [on a change of name etc., see BT Rosh ha-Shanah 16b: ‘Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Four things tear up a person’s verdict: charity, crying out, a change of name, and change of deeds… and some say a change of place’].
וְזֹאת (Ve-zot), And this, was הַתְּעוּדָה (ha-te’udah), the practice, in Israel (Ruth 4:7) [one of the many appellations of Shekhinah is זֶה (zeh), ‘this’ (feminine pronoun), or זֹאת (zot), ‘this’ (masculine pronoun), perhaps because as the Divine Presence She is constantly right here, see Zohar 1:49b; 2:11b–12a; 3:8b]. הַתְּעוּדָה (Ha-te’udah), the testimony, is supernal Mother: Bind up the תְּעוּדָה (te’udah), testimony, seal Torah among My disciples (Isaiah 8:16) [צוֹר (Tsor), bind, is Binah, and since it is written bind up the testimony we derive from this that תְּעוּדָה (te’udah), testimony, is Binah (Sullam), cf. Zohar 1:4b; 3:35a], which is the חוֹתָם (ḥotam), seal, of the world, namely the seal of the Heavens and Earth [Ze’eir Anpin and Malkhut]. תְּמוּרָה (Temurah), exchanging [alluding to letter permutation]—lower Shekhinah [associated with speech and language, since שְׁכִינָה (Shekhinah) and שָׂפָה (safah), language (lit., lip), are numerically equivalent. Cf. Zohar 1:36b, 74b, 246a; 3:221a, 228a (both RM)]. Where did She hide? In her עוּלֵימָא (uleima), lad, Metatron, and יִשְׁנֶה (yishnah), he changed Her [cf. Zohar 3:277b (RM): ‘The נַעַר (na’ar), lad, youth, is called נַעֲרָה (na’arah), young woman’; Zohar 1:232a: ‘This angel is sometimes male and sometimes female. When providing blessings, it is male and called Male—like a male providing blessings for a female, so He provides blessings for the world. And when it stands in judgment over the world, it is called Female—like a female who is pregnant, so She is filled with judgment and is then called Female… all one mystery…. Correspondingly, it is written: flame of the whirling sword (Genesis 3:24)’]. There She is מְשַׁנָּה (mishnah), Mishnah. And of man, of whom it says, According to the תִפְאֶרֶת אָדָם (tif’eret adam), beauty of a man; that he may remain in the house (Isaiah 44:13)—You change his face and send him away (Job 14:20).
This is why the Masters of Mishnah have explained that ‘The way I am spelled is not the way I am pronounced in this world’; spelled יֱהֹוִה (YHWH), but pronounced אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) [see BT Qiddushin 71a: ‘Rabbi Avina raised a contradiction: It is written: That is My name; but it is also written: and thus am I invoked?—the blessed Holy One said: I am not called as I am written: I am written with יוֹד הֵא (yod, he), but I am read, אָלְף דָּלֶת (alef, dalet)’]. Yet it is written, I am YHWH, I do not change (Malachi 3:6)! He is not changed in spelling but is changed in pronunciation since writing [indicates] He does not change in His place, but in reading [which is the rung of Malkhut, called דִבּוּר (dibbur), Speech (Sullam)], when He is outside His place, He does change. Watch yourself with him and heed his voice, do not defy him… for My name is within him (Exodus 23:21)—since the female slave’s name is Adonai, her name is like the name מַטְרוֹנִיתָא (Matronita) [i.e., מְטַטְרוֹן (Metatron)]. And the blessed Holy One is changed in him, because he is a youth. In him is the mystery of, he’d return to the days of his youth (Job 33:25).
But the Shekhinah, when with the blessed Holy One does not change, nor does the blessed Holy One change when with Her. This is the meaning of, I am YHWH, I do not change. I—Shekhinah; יהוה (YHWH)—the middle pillar;[And thus it was in former times in Israel concerning redemption and concerning exchange to fulfill every condition:] a man would remove נַעֲלוֹ (na’alo), his shoe [and give it to his fellow man. And this was the practice in Israel. And the redeemer said, ‘You—acquire it,’ and he removed his shoe] (Ruth 4:7)—סַנְדַּלְפוֹן (Sandalfon), who is a סַנְדָּל (sandal), sandal, for the blessed Holy One and a נַעַל (na’al), shoe, for the Shekhinah [on performing ḥalitsah with a shoe or sandal, see BT Yevamot 102a]. But Tif’eret, who includes six sefirot, is a body for the Name יְהֹוָה (YHWH), and Malkhut is a body for the Shekhinah that is אֲדֹנָי (Adonai).
[And the elders of his town shall call to and speak to him, and if he stands and says, ‘I do not want to wed her,’] his sister in law shall approach before the eyes of the elders and slip his sandal from his foot and spit in his face and speak out and say, ‘So shall be done to the man who will not build his brothers house’ (Deuteronomy 25:8–9). It is a decree to perform חֲלִיצָה (ḥalitsah), Loosening, of the spirit from that body to which [the dead man’s soul] must join as a brother; he releases him from the brother’s bond [and the widow requires him no longer].
That spirit goes away and wanders until it is redeemed. This is what is meant by: Or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him or any of his own close kin from his clan may redeem him (Leviticus 25:49). However, if his hand [does not] attain the means [to be] redeemed (ibid.), he is like a guest going from place to place or like a slave walking with a chain around his neck until he achieves redemption from his Master from his iniquities. Woe to him who did not leave a son who will redeem him.
Elijah and heads of the Academy: It is indicated here that a prisoner cannot release himself from prison. For He is tied by the knot of the hand tefillin and bound by the head tefillin, when He has no son who will redeem him, from the aspect of בֶּן יָהּ (ben Yah), Son of God. With that knot the blessed Holy One, is a tied and bound אָח (aḥ), brother, who has no permission to redeem himself, he is ד (dalet), which is עַצְמוֹ (atsmo), itself, the אָח (aḥ), brother, called עֶצֶם מֵעֲצָמַי (etsem me-atsamai), bone of my bones (Genesis 2:23), in the skull where the head tefillin is put, and called it flesh of my flesh (ibid.), from the side of the heart” (Zohar 3:281a, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse, cf. ZḤ 38d).
“And there is a further secret, he will later come back in a גִלְגּוּלָא, (gilggula), [life] cycle, and be renewed as formerly, as is written: [And should a priest’s daughter] become a widow or divorced (Leviticus 22:13), as [his soul] being driven out of the Garden of Eden. Hence she is called גְרוּשָׁה (gerushah), divorcee, as in: וַיְגָרֶשׁ (va-yegaresh), and he drove out, the human (Genesis 3:24). And what is the reason for this? It is because she [the soul] having no seed [has] come back to her father’s house as in her youth (ibid.), that is, returns to this world, to the son of the Levirate Marriage…. And after she has been privileged to have offspring, of her father’s bread she may eat, but no outsider shall eat of it (ibid.). [This is what is written:] the wife of the dead man shall not become wife outside to a stranger (Deuteronomy 25:5)” (Zohar 3:244b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).
“Rabbi Shesheth stated in the name of Rabbi El’azar who stated it in the name of Rabbi El’azar son of Azariyah: From where is it proved that a sister-in-law, who falls to the lot of one afflicted with boils, is not muzzled? You shall not muzzle an ox when it threshes (Deuteronomy 25:4)” (BT Yevamot 4a).
For I am YHWH, your God, Israel’s Holy One, your Rescuer. I have made Egypt your ransom, Nubia and Saba in your stead. As you are precious in My eyes, you are honored, and I love you. And I put people in your stead and nations instead of your life (Isaiah 43:3–4).
Elohimwill ransom my life, from the grip of Sheol He will take me. selah (Psalms 49:16).
“Every womb-breach for all flesh… and the firstborn of unclean beasts you shallredeem (Numbers 18:15). This decree is to redeem the firstborn of a donkey, to redeem for the world that is coming. If prior to going to that world he does not redeem his nafsha and ruḥa and nishmeta, with Torah, he is destined to return to this world as before: he’d return to the days of his youth (Job 33:25), and receive nafsha and ruḥa and nishmeta [on a person’s donkey-like behavior, see BT Pesaḥim 49b in the name of Rabbi Akiva, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 30a–31a].
It is written: Look, all this God performs twice or thrice with aman [to bring back his being from the Pit, to glow in the light of life] (Job 33:29)—Israel. Because ransom was taken without [merit accrued from] Torah, which is hidden silver [Ḥesed] of the World that is Coming [Binah], they returned to exile three times. [However, since they are destined to be] released [from the prison of exile] through Torah they will never return to exile for ever [cf. Tiqqunie ha-Zohar 22b]. The Rabbis came and gave him their blessings, saying, ‘Faithful Shepherd, the blessed Holy One will redeem you, and He will redeem all of Israel through your hand, and you will be renewed with them and they with you….
[Shekhinah’s] ransom is dependent on the blessed Holy One which Israel accrue to Her by the knot of the tefillin, with the sign of the Sabbath, with the marking of the festival days, with the mark of circumcision, with Torah, and with many פִּקוּדִין (piqudin), decrees [alluding to פִּיקָדוֹנוֹת (piqadonot), deposits, installments]. Since Her ransom is dependent on the blessed Holy One this is what it says, but I acted for My Name’s sake [that She should not be polluted before the nations, among whom they were, in whose sight I made Myself known to them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt] (Ezekiel 20:9), and for Her: Yet even זֹאת (zot), this, [too—when they are in the land of their enemies I will not reject them…] (Leviticus 26:44) [on Shekhinah as zot, see Zohar 1:49b, 72a, 93b, 176b, 200b, 228a; 2:12a, 37b, 39b, 50b–51a, 54b, 57a, 126b; 3:31a, 41a, 179b]. In this manner, people perform many decrees in order to receive reward. Each decree has a [certain] value in that world. However, the punishment for someone who transgresses them has no value [itself]” (Zohar 3:178a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Qoraḥ).
“יְהוּ (Yod, he, vav): Look, all this God performs twice or thrice with aman (Job 33:29). Regarding the wicked, it is said: And so I have seen the wicked brought to the grave, and from a holy place they went forth (Ecclesiastes 8:10). Causing These are your gods, O Israel (Exodus 32:4), and of them is said: Thus says YHWH; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away his punishment (Amos 2:6). After they have corrupted themselves three times and they have not merited יהו (yod, he, vav), of which is said: The place where the tree falls, יְהוּא (yehu), there it will lie (Ecclesiastes 11:3). And for four, I will not turn away his punishment—he will be judged in Hell by destruction, anger, and wrath.
And the garments of these three letters [יהו (yod, he, vav)] are known from the rainbow, namely white, red, and green. One in his first time is white [Ḥesed]; in the second he is red [Gevurah]; and in the third he is green [Tif’eret]. And since these letters are included in Jacob, and the tree takes root, grows, and gives good fruits: Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale (Isaiah 29:22). So that his chariot should not journey with the evil impulse, which is the serpent, nor with any other type of evil beasts. For this reason: And he strove with an angel, and prevailed (Hosea 12:5), and because man is called אִילָנָא (ilana), Tree, he is, in this mystery, a tree planted in a place where he does not bear fruit [cf. Psalms 1:3]. What can he do about it? He removes him and replants him elsewhere. This is why the Masters of Mishnah taught that one is not considered barren until he be replanted in the land of Israel and tries to make a woman conceive there [see BT Yevamot 65b–66a].
So also, a righteous man who wanders from place to place, from house to house, is like one who goes through many [life] cycles. That is what is meant by And doing kindness to the thousandth generation for those who love Me, and for those who keep My commands (Exodus 20:6), until he achieves perfection in the world that is coming. But the guilty are not allowed more than three times. If he repents, however, we have learnt that ‘Exile atones for transgression’ (BT Sanhedrin 37b). This is why the Masters of Mishnah taught: ‘The righteous do not return to their dust’ (BT Sanhedrin 92a).
But [concerning the wicked] it says: And different earth shall be taken and the house plastered (Leviticus 14:42); Man to the dust would return (Job 34:15); And dust returns to the earth as it was [and the life-breath returns to God who gave it] (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Since he who is afflicted has but a bad wife—the evil impulse—of which we have learned, ‘A bad woman is like skin blanch to her husband’ (BT Yevamot 63b). What remedy does he have? ‘Let him divorce her and be healed’ (ibid.). For she was the cause of: וַיְגָרֶשׁ אֶת הָאָדָם (va-yigaresh et ha-adam), And He drove out theman (Genesis 3:24). הָאָדָם (Ha-adam), the man—nishmeta. אֶת (Et)—mate of the man: Like a bird wandering from its nest is a man wandering from his place (Proverbs 27:8) [the souls of women do not generally undergo new life-cycles, as is written, Look, all this God performs twice or thrice with a גָּבֶר (gaver), man (Job 33:29)—one who fails to become a אִישׁ (ish), husband, to a wife and father to children. Cf.Zohar 2:106a–109a (SdM)].
And that is why: Even the bird has found a home (Psalms 84:4)—the deceased brother’s wife. And the swallow a nest for herself (ibid.)—the redeemer [who marries the deceased brother’s widow and finds himself a nest in her]. Where she puts her fledglings (ibid.)—[they beget] a son and a daughter. Happy is he who makes a nest, And redeem what his brother sold (Leviticus 25:25)—[for she] is considered as though sold to him, for she is not his” (Zohar 3:216a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).
And the human knew Eve his woman and she conceived and bore קַיִן (qayin),Cain, and she said, “I have got me, a man with YHWH.” And she bore as well his brother הֶבֶל (hevel), Abel, and Abel became a herder of sheep while Cain was a tiller of the soil. And it happened in the course of time that Cain brought from the fruit of the soil an offering to YHWH. And Able too had brought from the choice firstlings of his flock, and YHWH regarded Abel and his offering but He did not regard Cain and his offering, and Cain was very incensed, and his face fell…. And Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field Cain rose against Abel his brother and killed him. And YHWH said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said,“I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” And He said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cry out to me from the soil. And so, cursed shall you be by the soil that gaped with its mouth to take your brother’s blood from your hand.” And Cain said to YHWH, “My punishment is too great to bear” (Genesis 4:1–11).
“And Cain said to Abel his brother, ‘Let us go out to the field’ (Genesis 4:8). And it was when the two of them had gone out to the field, Cain said to Abel, ‘There is no judgment, and there is no judge, and there is no other world, and there is no reward for the righteous, and there is no punishment for the wicked. And the world was not created in compassion and it is not governed with compassion. For what reason was your offering accepted from you with favor, but from me it was not accepted with favor?!’ Abel said to him, ‘There is judgment and there is a Judge and there is another world, and there is a reward for the righteous, and punishment for the wicked. The world was created in compassion and it is governed with compassion. Because the fruits of [my] good deeds were better than yours, my offering was accepted from me with favor but from you it was not accepted with favor.’ And the two of them were arguing in the field and Cainrose againstAbel his brother and killed him (ibid.)” (Fragment Targum).
“From the filth [injected into Eve by the primordial serpent] Cain came forth and killed Abel the shepherd, of whom it is written: For he is but flesh (Genesis 6:3). בְּשַׁגַּם (Beshagam), for (ibid.), is Abel, and he killed him, as is known. However, בְּשַׁגַּם (beshagam), for, [he is but flesh. Let his days be a hundred and twenty years] is certainly [a hint to] Moses and he was firstborn of the [primordial] human [בְּשַׁגַּם (beshagam), for, is numerically equivalent to מֹשֶׁה (moshe), Moses, see BT Ḥullin 139b].
And with all this, for the sake of covering the nakedness of his father, Moses took the daughter of Jethro to be his wife. Of Jethro, it is written: And the sons of the Kenite, the father-in-law of Moses (Judges 1:16)—this has already been explained [see Sifrei Bemidbar, Be-Ha’alotekha, 78; Shemot Rabbah 27:7; Mekhilta Yitro, Amaleq, 1; Tanḥuma, Shemot, 11; cf. BT Bava Batra 109b; Zohar 3:215b (RM)]. Why was Jethro called Kenite? Because he detached himself from Cain, as is written: And Heber הַקֵּינִי (ha-qeni), the Kenite, had separated from קַיִן (qayin), Cain (Judges 4:11) [on Jethro’s seven names, see Mekhilta de-Rabbi Yishma’el, Amaleq, 3]” (Zohar 1:28b, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).
“And they taught about Jethro: Why is his name called ‘Kenite?’ Because הַקֵּינִי (ha-qeni), the Kenite, had separated from קַיִן (qayin), Cain (Judges 4:11). The Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai] rose and said: Therefore it is said: קָנִיתִי (Qaniti), I have got me, a man with YHWH (Genesis 4:1), for [Eve] saw through the Holy Spirit that in the future [Jethro’s] sons would sit in the Chamber of Hewn Stone [meeting place of the Sanhedrin, see BT Sotah 11a]” (Zohar 3:215b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).
“He who sheds human blood by humans [his blood will be shed] (Genesis 9:6)—that very man himself. The one slain will kill the one who killed him, according to ‘Because you drowned [them], they drowned you…’ (M Avot 2:7). Thus Abel killed Cain in the days of Moses, and the death of Korah by swallowing, measure for measure, is known. Like Korah, test and demand with warp and woof and you will find a wondrous secret [i.e., comb the fabric of the text (Numbers 16:1) lengthwise and breadthwise. Cf. M Kil’ayim 9:8; BT Sanhedrin 110a]” (Rabbi Menaḥem Tsiyyoni, Sefer Tsiyyoni, Qoraḥ, 82):
וַיִּקַּח קֹרַח בֶּן יִצְהָר בֶּן קְהָת בֶּן לֵוִי (Va-yiqaḥ qoraḥ ben yitshar ben qehat ben levi), and Korah son of Izhar son of Kohath son of Levi, and Datham and Abiram sons of Eliab and On son of Peleth sons of Reuben, took up, and they rose before Moses, and two hundred fifty men of the Israelites, community chieftains, persons called up to meeting, men of renown. And they assembled against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have too much! For all the community, they are all holy, and in their midst is YHWH, and why should you raise yourselves up over YHWH’s assembly?” And Moses heard andfell on his face…. The ground that was under them split apart, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households and every human being that was Korah’s, and all his possessions (Numbers 16:1–4, 32)—קַיִן (qayin), Cain; הֶבֶל (hevel), Abel.
“‘Rabbi Akiva said: The company of Korah has no share in the world that is coming. Rabbi Eli’ezer said: YHWH kills and gives life, brings down to Sheol and raises up (1 Samuel 2:6)’ (M Sanhedrin 10:3). Our Rabbis taught: for it is said, And the earth covered over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly (Numbers 16:33)—this is Rabbi Akiva’s view. Rabbi Yehudah son of Batira said: They are as a lost article, which is sought, for it is said, I have wandered like a lost sheep. Seek Your servant, for Your commands I did not forget (Psalms 119:176).
Korah took (Numbers 16:1). Resh Laqish said: He took a bad bargain [or: purchase] for himself, being plucked out of Israel [קֵרֵחַ (qereaḥ), baldness, puns on קֹרַח (qoraḥ), Korah]. Son of יִצְהָר (yitshar), Izhar (ibid.)—a son who incensed the whole world with himself as the [heat of] צֹהַרִים (tsoharim), noon. Son of קְהָת (qehat), Kohath (ibid.)—a son who קֵהֶה (qeheh), set on edge, the teeth of his progenitors [i.e., who disgraced his parents]. Son of לֵוִי (levi), Levi (ibid.)—a son who joined the לְוָיָה (levayah), retinue, of Hell. Then why not say too ‘son of יַעֲקֹב (ya’aqov), Jacob,’ [implying] a son who עַקָב (eqev), marched, himself into Hell?—Rabbi Shemu’el son of Rabbi Yitsḥaq answered: Jacob supplicated for himself [not to be counted amongst Korah’s ancestors], as is written, In their council let me never set foot, their assembly my presence shun (Genesis 49:6): In their council let me never set foot—the spies [in no case is the genealogy of the spies traced to Jacob (Rashi)]; their assembly my presence shun—to the company of Korah. דָתָן (Datan), Datham [Korah’s ally], (ibid.)—stepped over the דָת (dat), law, of God; אֲבִירָם (Aviram), Abiram (ibid.)—stoutly refused to repent; אוֹן (on), On(ibid.)—he sat in אֹנינוֹת (oninot), lamentations; פֶּלֶת (pelet), Peleth (ibid.)—פֶּלֶאוֹת (pele’ot), wonders, were done for him [since he abandoned the conspiracy, and was miraculously saved from its fate]; son of רְאוּבֵן (reuven), Reuben—a son who רֵאָה (re’ah), saw, and הַבִין (havin), understood.
Rav said: On son of Peleth was saved by his wife. She said to him, ‘What does it matter to you? Whether the one [Moses] remains master or the other [Korah] becomes master, you are but a disciple.’ He replied, ‘But what can I do? I have taken part in their counsel, and they have sworn me [to be] with them.’ She said, ‘I know that they are all a holy community, as is written, For all the community, they are all holy (Numbers 16:3). Sit here, and I will save you.’ She gave him wine to drink, intoxicated him and laid him down within [the tent]. Then she sat down there at the entrance and loosened her hair. Whoever came [to summon him] saw her and retreated.
Meanwhile, Korah’s wife joined [the rebels] and said to him [Korah], ‘See what Moses has done. He himself has become king; his brother he appointed High Priest; his brother’s sons he has made the vice High Priests. If terumah is brought, he decrees, Let it be for the priest; if the tithe is brought, which belongs to you [being a Levite], he orders, Give a tenth part thereof to the priest. Moreover, he has had your hair cut off [in accordance with the purification rites of the Levites (see Numbers 8:7)], and makes sport of you as though you were dirt; for he cast his eyes on your hair [i.e., he is envious].’
He said to her, ‘But he has done likewise!’ She replied, ‘Since all the greatness was his, he said also, Let me die with the Philistines! (Judges 16:30) [this was used proverbially to denote readiness to suffer, so that others might suffer too—Moses, retaining all the greatness himself, did not mind shaving his own hair off, seeing that he had caused all the rest to do so, thus depriving them of their beauty]. Moreover, he has commanded you, Set [fringes] of indigo wool [in the corners of your garments (see Numbers 15:38)]; but if there is virtue in indigo wool, then bring forth indigo wool, and clothe your entire academy with it.’
Thus is written, Every wise woman has built her house (Proverbs 14:1)—wife of On son of Peleth; and Folly with her own hands destroys it (ibid.)—Korah’s wife” (BT Sanhedrin 109b–110a).
“Come and see: The Levites, who come from the side of Judgment, are not purified until their hair is removed, as is written: Thus you shall do to them to purify them: sprinkle on them expiation water and have them pass a razor over all their flesh (Numbers 8:7). And in order for them to be further assuaged, the priest, who comes from the side of Ḥesed, must elevate them, as is written: Aaron shall make of the Levites an elevation offering before YHWH (ibid., 11)….
Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘The greatest of all Levites was Korah, whom the blessed holy One made below corresponding to the pattern above, calling him קֹרַח (qoraḥ), Korah…. He is קֵרֵחַ (qereaḥ), bald (Leviticus 13:40). When Korah saw his head hairless and saw Aaron bedecked with royal adornments, he felt belittled and was jealous of Aaron [cf. Tanḥuma, Qoraḥ 3; Tanḥuma (Buber), Qoraḥ 6; Bemibar Rabbah 18:4]. The blessed Holy One said to him, ‘I made you corresponding to the pattern above. You do not wish to ascend among those above? Go down and be among those below!—as is written: and they go down alive to Sheol (Numbers 16:30). What is Sheol? Hell, where the wicked cry out and no one has compassion on them. Yet they are destined to ascend and be revived when the blessed Holy One awakens His people and revives them, as is written: YHWH kills and gives life, brings down to Sheol and raises up (1 Samuel 2:6)” (Zohar 3:49a).
“Every conflict that is for the sake of heaven is destined to endure, while any conflict not for the sake of heaven is not destined to endure. Which conflict is for the sake of heaven? The conflict between Hillel and Shammai. Which conflict is not for the sake of heaven? The conflict of Korah and his entire band” (M Avot 5:17, cf. Liqqutei Moharan 64:4).
“Rabbi Abba said in the name of Shemu’el: For three years there was a conflict between the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel. These said, ‘The Halakhah accords with us.’ And the those said, ‘The Halakhah accords with us.’ Then an echo went forth announcing, ‘Both are the words of אֱלֹהִים חַיִּים (Elohim ḥayyim), the living God, but the Halakhah is in accord with the rulings of the House of Hillel.’ Since, however, both are the words of the living God, what was it that entitled the House of Hillel to have the Halakhah fixed in accord with their rulings? Because they were kindly and modest, they studied their own rulings and those of the House of Shammai [see for example BT Berakhot 10b], and were even so [humble] as to mention the words of the House of Shammai before theirs” (BT Eruvin 13b).
“[Rabbi Shim’on ha-Amsoni said:] Just as I received reward for the exposition, so I will receive reward for the retraction [to be defeated by the truth is a defeat which is also a victory]” (BT Pesaḥim 22b).
“Doubts make sages of men” (Midrash Shemu’el on M Avot 5:27).
“In the act of Creation a conflict arose between left and right, and in that conflict aroused by the left, Hell emerged, clinging there. The central pillar, who is the third day, entered between them, mediating the conflict, reconciling the two sides. Hell descended, left merged in right, and peace prevailed over all [cf. Zohar 1:87a].
Similarly the conflict between Korah and Aaron was left against right. Moses, contemplating the act of Creation, said, ‘It is fitting that I mediate the conflict between left and right.’ He endeavored to reconcile them, but the left was unwilling, and Korah stiffened his resistance. He [Moses] said, ‘Hell must certainly join in the heat of the conflict of the left. Since he does not want to join above, merging in the right, he will certainly descend below by the intensity of his rage.’ Korah did not want this conflict to be harmonized by Moses because it was not for the sake of heaven; he cared nothing about the supernal glory and denied the act of Creation. As soon as Moses saw that he had denied the act of Creation and been thrust outside, Moses became very angry (Numbers 16:5). Moses became very angry because they had denied the act of Creation. Korah denied everything above and below, as is written: who strove against Moses and Aaron as part of Korah’s band when they strove against YHWH (ibid. 26:9), below and above. So he joined what befitted him [i.e., Hell, Sheol].
A conflict arrayed as above, ascending, not descending, established rightly, is the conflict of Hillel and Shammai. The blessed holy One mediated between them, harmonizing them. This was a conflict for the sake of heaven, so Heaven [Tif’eret] mediated the conflict, and upon this conflict the world was established. This resembled the act of Creation, whereas Korah totally denied the act of Creation, disputing heaven, seeking to deny the words of Torah. He certainly adhered to Hell, so there he clung. This secret appears in The Book of Adam. When darkness aroused, it aroused intensely, thereby creating Hell, clinging to it in that conflict. As seething fury subsided, conflict of a different type arose: a conflict of love. There were two conflicts: one, beginning; one, ending. This is the way of the righteous: beginning harshly, ending gently [cf. BT Qiddushin 30b]. Korah was the beginning of the conflict: seething in wrath, he was compelled to cling to Hell. Shammai was the end of the conflict, when wrath subsides and one must arouse the conflict of love and be reconciled by heaven” (Zohar 1:17a–b).
“Rabbi Berekhiyah said: What is The words of the wise are כַּדָּרְבֹנוֹת (ka-darvonot), like goads… [given from one shepherd] (Ecclesiastes 12:11)? כַּדוּר שֶׁל בָּנוֹת (Kadur shel banot), a girls’ ball—one tosses it here, and the other tosses it there. So too the Sages, who delve into Talmud and engage in Torah: one gives his reasoning and the other his, one puts forward one account and the other another, but the words of all are from Moses, the shepherd, who received from the Singular One of the world. Since one gives one account and the other another, perhaps their words merely fly about. Therefore it is written, like nails driven in (ibid.)” (Pesiqta Rabbati 3:1).
“Composers of collections (Ecclesiastes 12:11)—those who enter and sit assembled in assemblies, declaring what is impure [to be] impure, and what is pure [to be] pure; what is impure in its place, and what is pure in its place.
Should a man think to himself, ‘Since the House of Shammai declare impure and the House of Hillel declare pure, so-and-so forbids, and so-and-so permits, how then shall I learn Torah? Therefore it says [And God spoke] all these words (Exodus 20:1).
Given from one shepherd (Ecclesiastes 12:11)—one God created them. One Leader gave them. The blessed Master of Deeds spoke them. Therefore make of your heart chambers and chambers and bring into it the words of the House of Shammai and the words of the House of Hillel, the words of those who declare impure and the words of those who declare pure” (ToseftaSotah 7:12, cf. Job 22:22; BT Ḥagigah 3b; Bemidbar Rabbah 14:4).
“One who sees a crowd says, ‘Blessed is He who knows secrets. Just as their faces are different one from the other, so are their opinions different one from the other” (JT Berakhot 9:1, 13b).
“Within Torah is power of the right, as is said: from His right hand, a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2), and left is included in right. Whoever makes right left, and left right, is as if he destroys the world.
Come and see: Aaron is right; Levites are left. Korah sought to change right into left, so he was punished. Furthermore, he possessed the לָשׁוֹן הָרַע (lashon ha-ra), evil tongue, and he was punished entirely.
Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Left is always included in right. Korah sought to change the arrangement of above and below, so he was eliminated from above and below.
Korah took (Numbers 16:1). What is meant by took? He took evil counsel for himself. If anyone chases after something that is not his, it escapes him; and what is more, he loses what he has. Korah pursued that which was not his; he lost his own without attaining the other [cf. Tosefta Sotah 4:19; BT Sotah 9b; Bereshit Rabbah 20:5; Mishnat Rabbi Eli’ezer 18, p. 334].
Come and see: The world exists only by peace. When the blessed Holy One created the world, it could not endure until peace came and settled upon all. What is it? Sabbath, which is peace of those above and below. Then the world endured. And whoever quarrels with it will be eliminated from the world [cf. M Avot 1:18]” (Zohar 3:176a).
“YHWH, God of the spirits for all flesh (Numbers 27:16)—the verse tells us that all spirits go out only from Him. Rabbi Eli’ezer son of Rabbi Yose the Galilean says: Let this sign always be in your hand, that all during a man’s given life span נַפְשׁוֺ (nafsho), his life, is held in the hand of his Maker, as is written, In whose hand is נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), the breath, of each living thing, [and רוּחַ (ruaḥ), the spirit, of all human flesh] (Job 12:10). When he dies, it is given to the אוֹצָר (otsar), treasury, as is written, My lord’s soul will be bound in צְרוֹר הַחַיִּים (tseror ha-ḥayyim), the bundle of the living (1 Samuel 25:29) [see Targum Yonatan ad loc.: My lord’s soul will be bound in the גְּנַז חַיֵי (genaz ḥayei), treasury of the living; tseror ha-ḥayyim may be rendered as purse of the living, see for example Genesis 42:35; Proverbs 7:20]. I might think both the righteous and the wicked, thus it is written, The souls of your enemies He will sling from the hollow of a sling (ibid.).
Appoint a man over the community (Numbers 27:16)—Joshua [for whom the manna descended over and against all of Israel], as is written, [And He charged the skies above, and the doors of the heavens He opened, and rained on them manna to eat and the grain of the heavens He gave to them.] Princely bread a man did eat, provisions He sent them to sate them (Psalms 78:25) [cf. BT Ḥagigah 12b ad loc.]. And why did Scripture not specify [Joshua]? So as not to stir up controversy [over the appointment of Joshua] among [Moses’s] sons and the sons of his brother.
Who will go out before them and come in before them [and who will lead them in and out on the march so that YHWH’s community will not be like a flock that has no shepherd] (Numbers 27:16)—not in the manner of others who send troops [to the vanguard] while they come out towards the end [i.e., escape to the rear]. Rather as Moses did: And YHWH said to Moses, ‘Do not fear him, for into your hand I have given him (Numbers 21:34). And as Joshua did: And Joshua went toward him and said to him, Are you ours or our foes’? (Joshua 5:13). And as Phinehas did: And Moses sent them out, a thousand for the tribe to the army—them and Phinehas (ibid. 31:6).
Who will go out before them and come in before them—as chief: [And David said, ‘Whoever strikes down the Jebusite first shall be chief and commander.’] And Joab son of Zeruiah went up first and became chief (1 Chronicles 11:6). Who will go out before them—in a troop; and come in before them—in a troop. Who will go out before them—on the way; and come in before them—on the way. Who will go out before them—with his merits; and come in before them—with his merits. Who will go out before them—in counting; and come in before them—in counting, as is written, And they said to Moses, ‘Your servants have counted the heads of the men of war who are in our hands, and not a man of them is missing. [And we would offer up YHWH’s offering, each man what he found of gold ornaments, armband and bracelet, ring, earring, and pendant, to atone for our lives before YHWH] (Numbers 31:49). Now, why did they need atonement? Because they feasted their eyes on nakedness [i.e., on the Midianite women, see ibid., 16].
So that YHWH’s community will not be like a flock that has no shepherd (ibid. 27:17). Concerning this, [see] the interpretation of קַבָּלָה (qabbalah), tradition: Tell me, whom I love so, [where you pasture your flock at noon, lest I be כְּעֹטְיָה (ke’oteyah), as one that covers up, by the flocks of your companions] (Song of Songs 1:7)—corresponding to what is said, [And he shall set fire to the houses of the gods of Egypt, and he shall burn them and take them captive] and wrap round the land of Egypt as a shepherd יַעְטֶה (ya’eteh), wraps himself, in his garment (Jeremiah 43:12). By the flocks of your companions (Song of Songs ibid.)—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Go out and see: The blessed Holy One answers, Loveliest of women, if you lose your way, go follow in the עִקְבֵי (iqvei),tracks, of the sheep (Song of Songs 1:8)—what I am destined to do for them in עֲקֵבִים (aqevim), the end. And graze your goats by the shepherd’s shelters (ibid.)—how is it you say that YHWH showed Moses all the leaders who were destined to serve Israel from the day they left the wilderness until the revival of the dead? As is said, Go follow in thetracks of the sheep” (Sifrei Numbers 139).
“Our Rabbis taught: The spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7)—give it back to Him as He gave it to you, in a state of purity. This may be compared to a mortal king who distributed royal robes to his slaves. The wise among them folded them up and put them away in a chest, while the fools among them went and worked in them. After some time, the king wanted his garments. The wise returned them clean, while the fools returned them soiled. The king was pleased with the wise; but he was angry with the fools. Concerning the wise he said, ‘Let the garments be returned to אוֹצָר (otsar), the storehouse, and they return to their homes in peace.’ Concerning the fools he said, ‘Let the garments be given to the laundry, while they be confined in jail.’ Similarly, the blessed Holy One. Concerning the bodies of the righteous He says, Yet he shall come in peace, they shall rest on their couches(Isaiah 57:2), and concerning their souls He says, My lord’s soul will be bound in the bundle of the living(1 Samuel 25:29). Concerning the bodies of the wicked He says, There is no well-being, said YHWH, for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22), and concerning their souls He says, The souls of your enemies He will sling from the hollow of the sling (1 Samuel 25:29).
It was taught, Rabbi Eli’ezer said: The souls of the righteous are treasured away under the כִּסֵּא (kisse), Throne, of Glory, as is said, My lord’s soul will be bound inthe purse of the living (ibid.) [see BT Sanhedrin 97a: ‘Son of David will not come until the (last) coin goes out from כִּיס (kis), the purse’]. But those of the wicked continue to be bound, while one angel stands at one end of the world and a second stands at the other end, and they sling their souls to each other, as is said, The souls of Your enemies he will sling from the hollow of a sling” (BT Shabbat 152b).
They will perish and You will yet stand. They will all wear away like a garment. Like clothing You change them, and they pass away. But You—Your years never end (Psalms 102:26–27).
“Rabbi Me’ir said: YHWH shall reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations (Psalm 146:10)—what is for all generations? Rabbi Papias said: A generation goes and a generation comes (Ecclesiastes 1:4). Rabbi Akiva said: The generation already came.
A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king had slaves, and clothed them in garments of silk and embroidery in accordance with his wealth. They went astray, so he stripped them of their garments, andflung them from him. They went on their way. He took the garments and washed them well, until no stain remained, and he kept them with him, ready. He then bought other slaves and dressed them in those garments. Not knowing whether these slaves were good or not, they were worthy of garments that had already come into the world, and that others had worn before them. [A generation goes and a generation comes.] But the earth endures forever (Ecclesiastes 1:4)—the same as And dust returns to the earth as it was, and the רוּחַ (ruaḥ), life-breath, returns toGod who gave it (ibid. 12:6)” (Bahir §§121–122).
“[Of the ten sefirot] seventh is east of the world, whence comes the seed of Israel. For the spinal cord draws from the brain of man and reaches to the ‘middle finger’ whence comes seed, as is written, From the east I will bringyour seed (Isaiah 43:5) [cf. BT Bava Batra 25a: ‘Rabbi Abbahu said, Shekhinah (receives) in the west’]. When Israel is good before the Omnipresent: I will bring your seed and you will have new seed. But when Israel is bad, the seed is from that which has already come into the world, as is written, A generation goes and a generation comes (Ecclesiastes 1:4)—teaching it has already come” (Bahir§155).
“He is All, and in His hand is אוֹצַר הַנְּשָׁמוֹת (otsar ha-neshamot), the Treasury of Souls. And when Israel is good, souls are worthy to go out and come in (Deuteronomy 31:2)—to this world. But if they are not good, they do not go out. Therefore, we say, ‘Son of David will not come until all souls in the body have been consumed’ (BT Yevamot 62a)—they will be worthy that new ones go out. And then Son of David succeeds in being born. How so? Since his soul will go out anew with all the others.
A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king had an army. He sent them an abundance of food and bread, [but] they were sluggardly and did not eat it they did not even keep it—the bread became moldy and went to waste. [Now, the king] came to inquire andto take a census whether they had enough to eat. He found moldy bread and that they were ashamed to ask [of him] other bread, to say: We did not keep it, now we must ask for another. The king became angry, took the moldy bread and ordered that it be dried and improved as much as possible and swore, ‘I will not give these people any other bread until they have consumed all of this moldy bread.’ He sent it to them anew. What did they do? They settled to apportion it. Each one divided and took on his share. The nimble one put his share out in the air, kept it and ate well. The [sluggardly] one took and fed from it greedily, but left the rest and neglected to keep it. Now it became even worse and so moldy he could not eat of it at all—until he starved to death.
The crime of his body was counted against him [at the court on high]. [They said to him,] ‘Why did you kill yourself, was it not enough that you ruined the bread before? I returned it improved for you, you apportioned it, but you ruined your share and neglected to keep it, and not only that you killed yourself!’ And he replied, ‘My lords what was I to do?’ They answered him, ‘It was for you to keep. And if you say you could not it was for you to watch your companions and your neighbors who shared the bread with you. And you would have seen what they did with it, how they kept it, and tried to keep like them.’ And they questioned him further, ‘Why did you kill yourself, was it not enough that you ruined the bread? But in addition you destroyed חוֹמֶר גּוּפְךָ (ḥomer gufkha), your body of clay [cf. Jeremiah 18:6; Zohar 1:178a], and shortened your days, or [at least] you caused [it unintentionally]. And perhaps a flawless building was to result from you and rescue you and your ruin and others and their ruin [see BT Sanhedrin 104a; Ibn Ezra on Genesis 16:2. Cf. The Tanna and the Restless Dead (Zohar Ḥadash 49a–b)]. Therefore, judgment will overtake you from all sides.’
He became frightened and answered, ‘But what was I to do after there was no bread for me, what could I have lived on?’ They said to him, ‘If you had toiled and strained in Torah you would not answer foolishly and impudently like this. [Indeed,] from the words of your answer it is evident that you did not toil and strain in Torah. And is it not written in Torah, [And He afflicted you and made you hunger and fed you the manna, which you did not know nor did your fathers know, in order to make you know that] not on bread alone does the human live but on all going out from YHVH’s mouth does the human live (Deuteronomy 8:3). Now how is it you [dare] ask and inquire and probe what it is on which man lives?’
And what is all motsa, going out, from YHVH’s mouth (Deuteronomy 8:3)? It was said: He will live by Torah—every motsa, utterance, of YHVH’s mouth. Therefore, they said, ‘An ignoramus cannot be devout’ (M Avot 2:5). And if a person does not act with חֶסֶד (ḥesed), kindness, toward himself, he cannot be called חָסִיד (ḥasid), devout [on not disparaging bread, see BT Pesaḥim 111b; Ḥullin 105b; Zohar 1:14b; 3:244b–245b, 273a–b (both RM). Cf. BT Berakhot 52b]. How can one act with kindness towards his Maker? Torah study. All Torah study renders kindness toward one’s Maker, as is written, Riding through heavens with your help (Deuteronomy 33:26)—’Alas, when you study Torah for her own sake, then you help Me and I ride through heavens.’ Then, In His triumph through the skies (ibid.) [cf. BT Ḥagigah 12b–13a; BT Avodah Zarah 3b; Rabbi El’azar of Worms, Sodei Razaya 89]. And what is שְׁחָקִים (sheḥaqim), skies? Say בְּחַדְרֵי חֲדָרִים (be-ḥadrei ḥadarim), in chambers of chambers, as the Targum renders it: His command בִּשְׁמֵי שְׁמַיָּא (bi-shemei shemayya), in heavens of heavens. Therefore, Not on bread alone does the human live but on all going out from YHVH’s mouth does the human live. Yet, a fool answers impudently (Proverbs 18:23)—abandon impudence, do not answer in this manner! Therefore, he is punished. And what is his punishment? I have already explained” (Bahir §§184–185).
There are righteous to whom it befalls as though they did wickedly, and there are wicked to whom it befalls as though they did righteously (Ecclesiastes 8:14).
“Why are there wicked to whom there is good and righteous to whom there is evil? Because the righteous was already wicked and is now punished [cf. BT Mo’ed Qatan 28a]. But [is there] punishment for [one’s] days of youth? Rabbi Simon said there is no punishment until the age of twenty and up. I am not speaking about the [same] life, I am saying that he already was in the past. His companions said to him, ‘How much longer will you conceal your words?’ He replied, ‘Go and see. This is like a person who has planted a vineyard in his garden to bring forth grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes. He saw that he was not succeeding, so he replanted it, placed a fence around it, repaired the breaches, pruned the wild grapes, and planted it a second time. He saw that he was not succeeding—he again fenced it off, and again replanted it after pruning.’ How many times? He said to them, ‘Until a thousand generations, as is written: The word He ordained for a thousand generations (Psalms 105:8).’ It is in relation to this that they said: 974 generations were lacking [since the Torah was not given until the twenty-sixth generation]. ‘The blessed Holy One stood up and planted them in each generation’ (BT Ḥagigah 14a)” (Bahir §195).
“Inflicting the guilt of the fathers upon sons, upon the third and fourth generation (Exodus 20:5)—a single tree, planted once, twice, three times, and four times, and punished for its initial sins. Father, son, third, and fourth are one—when not mended and not caring to be mended [i.e., for My foes (ibid.)]. Correspondingly, the opposite of this, for a tree restored fittingly and standing firm” (Zohar 2:91b).
And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, that bears its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither—and in all that he does he prospers (Psalms 1:3).
“Since we have begun to reveal, now is the time to reveal all. Souls, issue from a grand and mighty tree of that river issuing from Eden, and all spirits issue from another, small tree. נְשָׁמָה (Neshamah), soul, from above; רוּחַ (ruaḥ), spirit, from below—joining as one, like male and female…. When joining as one, they shine supernal radiance, and in the joining of the two of them, they are called, נֵר (ner), lamp, of YHWH (Proverbs 20:27)” (Zohar 2:99b).
“For the pauper will not cease from the midst of the land (Deuteronomy 15:11)—it was taught, Rabbi El’azar ha-Qappar says: Always will a man seek mercy over this measure, since if he does not come [to poverty] his son comes [to poverty]. And if his son does not come [to poverty], the son of his son comes [to poverty], as is said, בִּגְלַל (Bigelal), because for this thing (ibid., 10). The House of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: It is a גַּלְגָּל (galggal), wheel, that חוֹזֵר (ḥozer), turns, in the world” (BT Shabbat 151b).
“Seeing a גּוּלְגּוֹלֶת (gulggolet), skull, floating on the water, [Hillel] said: ‘Because you drowned others, they drowned you, and those who drowned you will themselves eventually be drowned’ [in גָּלוּת (galut), exile]” (M Avot 2:7).
“Rabbi Yirmeyah son of Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan, ‘Whoever walks four cubits in the land of Israel is assured to be a son of the world to come.’ Now… aren’t the righteous outside the Land going to be revived? Rabbi Il’a said, ‘By גִּלְגּוּל (gilggul), rolling.’ Rabbi Abba Sala the Great objected, ‘Rolling will be painful to the righteous!’” (BT Ketubbot 111a, cf. Zohar 1:113b–114b [MhN], 131a).
“Now this is the mystery of גִּלְגּוּל (gilggul), rolling: גַּלְגָּל (Galggal), a wheel, does not תְּנוּעָה (tenu’ah), move, without אַמַּת הַמַּיִם (ammat ha-mayim), an aqueduct. So too, an aqueduct is the mystery of the letter ו (vav), by means of which the wheel rolls. And the secret of the matter: No wheel has motion without an aqueduct, so too a wheel, which is י (yod), has no movement without an aqueduct which is ו (vav)….
And moreover י (yod) is נְקֻדָּה (nequddah), a point; ו (vav) גַּלְגַּל (galggal), a wheel. And there is no movement in the wheel at the six spokes [lit., סִטְרִין (sitrin), sides]—reckoning ו׳ (six)—only at the point” (Zohar 3:215b, 223b Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).
“For the pauper will not cease from the midst of the land (Deuteronomy 15:11)—it was taught, Rabbi El’azar ha-Qappar says: A man will always seek mercy over this measure, since if he does not come [to poverty] his son comes [to poverty]. And if his son does not come [to poverty], the son of his son comes [to poverty], as is said, בִּגְלַל (Bigelal), because for this thing (ibid., 10). The House of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: It is a גַּלְגָּל (galggal), wheel, that turns in the world. Rabbi Yosef said: We hold that a disciple of the academy will not suffer poverty. But we see that he does suffer poverty? Even if he suffers poverty, he [nevertheless] does not engage in begging.
Rabbi Ḥiyya said to his wife: When a poor man comes, be quick to offer him bread, so that others may be quick to offer it to your children. ‘You curse them?!’ She exclaimed. ‘A verse is written,’ he replied: בִּגְלַל (bigelal), because for this thing, whereon the Academy of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: It is a wheel that rotates in the world. It was taught Rabbi Gamliel son of Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] said: that YHWH may turn from the fierceness of His anger and show you mercy, and have compassion upon you, and multiply you (ibid. 13:17). He who is merciful to others, mercy is shown to him by Heaven, while he who is not merciful to others, mercy is not shown to him by Heaven” (BT Shabbat 151b).
“גַּםלִיגַם לָךְ (Gam-li gam-lakh), neither mine nor yours (1 Kings 3:26)—the mystery of the גַּלְגָּל (galggal), wheel (Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, Ginnat Egoz 411).
“Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said: What is meant by, צְרוֹר הַמֹּר (Tseror ha-mor), a sachet of myrrh, is my lover to me, all night between my breasts (Song of Songs 1:13)? The Assembly of Israel said before the blessed Holy One, ‘Master of the Universe! Though my lover מֵּיצַר וּמֵימַר (metsar u-memar), distresses and embitters, me [casting me into exile, He remains] all night between my breasts.’
אֶשְׁכֹּל הַכֹּפֶר דּוֹדִי לִי בְּכַרְמֵי עֵין גֶּדִי (Eshkol ha-kofer dodi li be-kharmei ein gedi),a cluster of henna, my lover to me, in the vineyards of Ein Gedi (ibid., 14)—מִי שֶׁהַכֹּל שֶׁלּוֹ מְכַפֵּר לִי עַל עֲוֹן גְּדִי שֶׁכָּרַמְתִי לִי (mi she-ha-kol shelo me-khaper li al on gedi she-karamti li), He to whom everything belongs shall make atonement for me over the עֲוֹן גְּדִי (on gedi), guilt of the kid [i.e., Golden Calf; alt., the goat of Azazel], which כָּרַמְתִי (karamti), ‘I stored up,’ for myself. Where do we learn that בְּכַרְמֵי (be-kharmei), in vineyards, is an expression of gathering? Mar Zutra son of Rav Naḥman: As we learned: ‘A launderer’s stool on which linen is כּוֹרְמִים (kormim), heaped up’ (M Kelim 23:4) [cf. Sanskrit: कर्म (kárman), action, work, deed; कर्मवश (kármavaza), fate, being in the power of, or subject to former actions]” (BT Shabbat 88b).
“[Suffering] came to Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] because of an incident. What was it? A calf was being lead to slaughter, [when] he went and hung his head on the corner of the Rabbi [‘s garment], and moaned. He said to him, ‘Go, you were made for this!’ They said [in the heavenly court], ‘Since he has no mercy, let suffering overtake him.’
And [suffering] departed because of [another] incident. How so? One day Rabbi’s maidservant was sweeping the house. [Seeing] some young weasels lying there, she went to sweep them away. He said to her, ‘Let them be. It is written, His mercy is over all His works (Psalms 145:9).’ They said, ‘Since he has mercy, let us be merciful to him’” (BT Bava Metsi’a 85a, cf. Ḥakham Yosef Ḥayyim of Baghdad, Ben Yehoyada).
“Let me give you a great key. Why did God, may He be blessed, see fit to issue a commandment in the Torah to slaughter animals for man’s food? Is it not written, YHWH is good to all and His mercy is over all His works (Psalms 145:9). If He is indeed merciful, how could He command to slaughter this animal for man’s food? Where is His mercy? But the mystery of this verse comes in its first clause, which says, YHWH is good to all—good, indeed, and therefore, His mercy is over all His works. This is the explanation: In the Workings of Creation, it was predetermined that this particular animal was to be slaughtered and the animal said ‘good.’ What is the reason for this? The animal does not have a supernal נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul [but only a נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), life-breath, see Genesis 1:24, cf. Leviticus 17:11] that could grasp God and His mighty works.
So God decreed during the creation of the world that all of the animals should be brought before Him, and He said, ‘Do you wish to be slaughtered and eaten by man so that you will rise from the rung of an animal, knowing nothing, to the rung of a human who knows and recognizes YHWH, may He be blessed?’ And the animals responded, ‘Good, and mercy will be upon us.’ For when man eats from a part of the animal, he becomes a part of man. Thus, animal becomes human and his slaughter is merciful, for he has left the rung of animal and entered the rung of human. In this way, a man’s death is life for him, for he ascends to the rung of the angels. And this is the mystery of YHWH saves man and beast (Psalms 36:7). If this is so, understand the essence of slaughtering animals, as it is all from His abundant mercy and graciousness upon all His creatures. For this reason, consider that which the Rabbis said: ‘An ignoramus is forbidden to eat meat [for it is said, This is the תּוֹרַת (torat), teaching, about beast and bird (Leviticus 11:46)]’ (BT Pesaḥim 49b) [cf. Sefer ha-Qanah 120r], since He commanded in the Torah that only he who knows the teaching concerning domesticated beasts, wild animals, and fowl may slaughter [animals]. He who is engaged in Torah is permitted to eat meat and he who is not engaged in Torah is forbidden to eat meat. Therefore, an ignoramus may not eat meat for he is like an animal, without a neshamah, soul, and He did not command that an animal should be slaughtered to be eaten by another animal” (Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, Sha’arei Orah, Sha’ar ha-Shishi, Sefirah ha-Ḥamishit).
“Before Adam sinned, what was written? God said, ‘Look, I have given you every [seed-bearing] plant…’ (Genesis 1:29), and to you it shall be for food (ibid.), but nothing more. After he sinned and the evil impulse had been absorbed into his body and that of his descendants, He executed judgment upon them.
Afterward, Noah came and perceived that the body was built upon the pervasive evil impulse. He offered a sacrifice just as Adam did. What is written? YHWH smelled the pleasing aroma… since the devisings of the human heart are evil from youth (Genesis 8:21). The blessed Holy One said, ‘From now on, since his body has been imbued with the evil impulse, let the body enjoy as much as a person sees fit—let him eat meat [cf. Deuteronomy 12:20: when your appetite craves eating meat, wherever your appetite’s craving may be, you shall eat meat].
Like the green plants, I have given all to you (ibid. 9:3). When he eats meat, his own flesh delights from that flesh, and they intermingle. His body swells as a result; and on account of the pleasure the body sins copiously. Thus, the blessed Holy One said, atonement for the body—with flesh. Meat that a person eats produces blood for the body. Blood remaining from that meat—drained—is designated for atonement for blood, manufactured from its own flesh. This is as is written: it is the blood that gains atonement through the soul (Leviticus 17:1)” (Zohar 1:89b, Sitrei Torah, cf. BT Sanhedrin 59b in the name of Rav Yehudah).
“Flesh is garment of the human, as is written everywhere: flesh of a human (Exodus 30:32)—human, within; flesh, garment of the human, it’s body.
Specters below, melted in the smelting of this spirit, were figured into figures clothed in another garment, such as figures of pure animals: ox, sheep, goat, deer, gazelle, roebuck, wild goat, ibex, antelope, and mountain sheep (Deuteronomy 14:4–5), who desire to be interwoven in the garment of the human, flesh of the human” (Zohar 1:20b).
“And the reason for Split hooves…bringing up the cud (Leviticus 11:3) is according to the plain sense. These signs are the reason for [them being] clean or unclean [or: pure or impure]…. And there are [those among] the latest kabbalists [such as Rabbi ‘Yosef who came from the city of Shushan’ (i.e., from Hamadan in Persia)] who believe in גִּלְגּוּל הַבְּהֵמוֹת (gilggul ha-behemot), ‘the rolling of beasts.’ And they say that if a man committed a certain heinous transgression beyond [what] his merits [can protect him from, his nefesh, life-breath] will roll into an unclean beast, this is as is said, And they do not bring upthe cud, they are unclean for you (ibid., 26)—he who has no ‘cud,’ beyond his merits. And if he [does] ‘bring up the cud,’ over his merits [i.e., preserves his merits and pays the price of punishment] he will roll into a clean beast. Only, if the offence [be] idolatry, forbidden sexual relations, [or] spilling blood, with these three even if ‘he brings up the cud’ he will roll into uncleanness—if he does not return in repentance. This is the mystery of hare, camel, pig:
The mystery of שָׁפָן (shafan), hare, is ‘שֶׁפָּנָה (she-panah), that he turned’—to idolatry. גָּמָל (Gamal), camel, comes regarding forbidden sexual relations, as is said, חָסֶד (Ḥased), a vile, man, גֹּמֵל (gomel), does for, himself, [and a cruel man blights his own flesh] (Proverbs 11:17). And of forbidden sexual relations, is written, [And a man who takes his sister…] it is חֶסֶד (ḥesed), vileness, and they shall be cut off (Leviticus 20:17) [the incest laws are found together with prohibitions on homosexuality, bestiality, and child sacrifice, see Leviticus 18]. Of the mystery of חֲזִיר (ḥazir), pig, is said, חֲזִיר (Ḥazir), the boar, from the forest has gnawed it, [and the swarm of the field fed upon it] (Psalms 80:14)—הַמַּחֲזִיר (ha-maḥazir), the one who ‘returns [i.e., spills], blood,’ on the ground [cf. BT Niddah 13a–b; Zohar 1:188a, 219b]. With these three even if his merits are greater than his crimes, which are ‘brought up cud,’ with more mitsvot than transgressions, or they are in between—mystery of מַפְרִיסֵי פַּרְסָה (mafrisei parsah), split hoof (Leviticus 11:4), from the expression פְּרָס (peras), reward, they roll into uncleanness. Recall what is said: But this you shall not eat from those that bring up the cud or have hooves (Leviticus 11:4) [see BT Bekhorot 6a–b ad loc.]. And therefore they said of the Torah [prohibitions] that any food from them is as if [derived from] the flesh of his companion who was defiled by transgressions, blessed is he who knows truth [cf. Rabbi Yosef of Hamadan, Sefer Tashak, 92]. And already you know what our Rabbis, of blessed memory, expounded: ‘Why did he call its name חֲזִיר (ḥazir), pig? Because the blessed Holy One is destined לְהַחֲזִירוֹ (le-ha-ḥaziro), to return it, to us’ [see Rabbi Yom Tov ben Avraham Ishbili on BT Qiddushin 49b; cf. Midrash Tehillim 146:4]” (Rabbi Menaḥem Recanati, Perush al ha-Torah, Parashat Shemini, cf. Sa’adia Gaon, Kitāb al-Amanāt wal-I‘Tiqadāt, 6:8).
“It was said that fish and locusts do not require slaughter, but rather, their gathering makes them permitted [and fit to eat, see BT Ḥullin 27b]. Such are Masters of Mishnah, they do not need slaughter, but rather, it is said of them, And was gathered to his kinfolk (Genesis 49:33). Fish of the sea live in the sea. Disciples of the Sages and Masters of Mishnah live in Torah. And if they are separated from her they die immediately” (Zohar 3:278b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse, cf. TZ 21, 59a).