The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: הַקָזַת דָם

Chosen to Become for Him a Treasured People: Why was the Torah Given to Israel?

Hear this word that YHWH has spoken concerning you, O Israelites, concerning the entire clan that I brought up from Egypt, saying: Only with you was I intimate of all the clans of the earth. Therefore will I make a reckoning with you for all your crimes (Amos 3:1–2).

“A Tanna taught in the name of Rabbi Me’ir: Why was the Torah given to Israel? Because they are עֹזִין (ozin), impudent [like עִזִּין (izzin), she-goats]. The academy of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: [YHWH from Sinai came and from Seir He dawned upon them, He shone from Mount Paran and appeared from Ribeboth-Kodesh,from His right hand was a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2); the blessed Holy One said: These are worthy to be given a law of fire [cf. Exodus 32:9: And YHWH said to Moses, ‘I see this people and, look, it is a stiff-necked people’]. Some say: The laws of these are like fire, for had not Torah been given to Israel no people or tongue could withstand them. And this is what Rabbi Shim’on son of Laqish said: There are three impudent ones: Israel among the peoples, the dog among animals, [and] the cock among birds. Some say: Also the goat among small cattle. And some say: Also the caper-bush among trees [because of its rapid growing, for as soon as it is plucked it grows again, see BT Shabbat 30b]” (BT Beitsah 25b).

Not because you are more numerous than all the peoples did YHWH desire you and choose you [for you are the fewest of all peoples] (Deuteronomy 7:7). The blessed Holy One said to Israel, I love you because even when I bestow greatness upon you, you humble yourselves before Me. I bestowed greatness upon Abraham, yet he said to Me, I am but dust and ashes (Genesis 18:27); Upon Moses and Aaron, yet they said: And what are we? [i.e., we are nothing!] (Exodus 16:8); upon David, yet he said: But I am a worm and no man (Psalm 22:7). But with the nations it is not so. I bestowed greatness upon Nimrod, and he said: Come, let us build us a city [and a tower with its top in the heavens, that we may make us a name…] (Genesis 11:4); upon Pharaoh, and he said: Who is YHWH, [that I should heed His voice? …] (Exodus 5:2). Upon Sennacherib, and he said: Who is there of all the gods of the lands [that saved their land from my hand…] (2 Kings 18:35); upon Nebuchadnezzar, and he said: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; [I will be like the most High] (Isaiah 14:14); upon Hiram king of Tyre, and he said: I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas (Ezekiel 28:2)” (BT Ḥullin 89a).

“כִּי יַעֲקֹב בָּחַר לוֹ יָהּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לִסְגֻלָּתוֹ (Ki Ya’aqov baḥar lo Yah, Yisra’el lisgullato), For Jacob, chose for himself Yah, Israel as his own treasure (Psalms 135:4).

Come and see: Ki Ya’aqov baḥar lo Yah, For Jacob, chose for himself Yah. So far, we don’t know who chose whom: if the blessed Holy One chose Jacob, or Jacob chose the blessed Holy One! However, from what a verse reveals, we know that the blessed Holy selected Jacob for His share, as is written: for YHWH’s share is His people, Jacob His allotted inheritance (Deuteronomy 32:9). Come and see: Similarly, Jacob selected his allotted portion as his share, ascending above all rungs” (Zohar 1:161b, cf. Sifrei Devarim 312).

“Rabbi Ḥiyya opened, ‘For Yah has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel as His own treasure (Psalms 135:4). How beloved are Israel to the blessed Holy One, who desires them and wants to cleave to them and be joined with them! He made them a unique nation in the world, as is written Who is like Your people Israel, a nation unique on earth? (2 Samuel 7:23). And they desired Him and linked themselves with Him as is written: For Jacob has chosen Yah for himself. And it is written: For YHWH’s share is His people (Deuteronomy 32:9)—He entrusted other nations to princely rulers appointed over them, while for His own share He took Israel (Zohar 2:126a–b).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said, ‘Why are the people of the princes protected, while the people of the blessed Holy One are not?’ Rabbi Yitsḥaq replied, ‘The poor man is not like the wealthy man. The poor man must guard what is his; the wealthy man does not guard what is his! All the more so since Israel hail from a King who loves truth and justice, and the first judgment He renders is on the members of His household, for He wishes them to be protected from sin more than anyone else, as is written: You alone have I known of all the families of the earth—that is why I call you to account for all your iniquities (Amos 3:2) [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 4a ad loc.]” (Zohar 2:17b [MhN]).

“The blessed Holy One invited the other nations to receive the Torah. Now, was it not revealed before Him that they did not want it? However, so that they would have no excuse: if only He had given them the Torah, they would have kept it” (Zohar 3:20a).

“Rabbi Ḥiyya opened, ‘YHWH, when You came forth from Seir, when You strode from the field of Edom, the earth trembled, the heavens poured… (Judges 5:4). Come and see: Happy are Israel in this world and in the world that is coming, for the blessed Holy One delights in them and they cleave to Him and are called holy, Nation of YHWH. He has even elevated them to a supernal rung called Holiness, as is written: Holiness is Israel to YHWH (Jeremiah 2:3), as we have established. For from the eighth day the people of Israel cleave to His Name and are His, inscribed with His Name below, as is written: Who is like your people Israel, a unique nation on earth? (1 Chronicles 17:21). All the other nations do not cleave to Him nor follow His laws, and the holy insignia is lacking from them, so they cleave to the unholy Other Side.

Come and see: When the blessed Holy One wished to give the Torah to Israel, He summoned the people of Esau and said to them, ‘Do you want to receive the Torah? At that moment, the Holy Land quaked and sought to enter the Hollow of the Great Abyss. She said before Him, ‘Joyous splendor, two thousand years before the world was created—will I be snatched away to the uncircumcised who are not inscribed with Your covenant?’

The blessed Holy One replied, ‘O throne, throne, may a thousand such nations perish, yet the covenant of holy Torah will not be presented to them!’ As is written: YHWH, when You came forth from Seir, when You strode from the field of Edom, the earth trembled—surely, for Torah, who is the holy covenant, is given only to one who bears the holy covenant. And whoever conveys Torah and the covenant of Righteous One and Assembly of Israel, for Torah is given to this place and to no other.’

Rabbi Abba said, ‘He betrays three supernal places—betraying Torah, betraying the Prophets, and betraying the Writings. He betrays Torah, as is written: This is the Torah that Moses set before the Children of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:44). He betrays the Prophets, as is written: All your sons are disciples of YHWH (Isaiah 54:13)—they are disciples of YHWH, not others. And it is written: Seal Torah among My disciples (ibid., 8:16)—among them, not among others. He betrays the Writings, as is written: He established a testimony in Jacob, and ordained a teaching in Israel, which He commanded to our fathers to make them known to their children (Psalms 78:5). And it is written: Surely the righteous will acclaim Your name (ibid., 140:14). Who are the righteous? Righteous One and Assembly of Israel. For whoever is not circumcised and has not entered their covenant must not acclaim His Holy Name, which is Torah [cf. Deuteronomy 30:6: And YHWH your God shall circumcise your heart].

Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Once the blessed Holy One revealed Himself on Mount Sinai to give Torah to Israel, the earth turned calm and tranquil again, as is written: The earth feared, and was still (Psalms 76:9)” (Zohar 3:91a–b).

“Come and see: It is written O YHWH, when You came forth from Seir, when You strode from the field of Edom, the earth trembled, the very heavens dripped, the clouds, O they dripped water (Judges 5:4). When the blessed Holy One wished to give the Torah to Israel, He went and invited the children of Esau, and they did not accept it—as is said: YHWH from Sinai came and He shone from Seir upon them (Deuteronomy 33:2), and they refused to accept it. He went to the children of Ishmael, and they refused to accept it, as is written: He radiated from Mount Paran (ibid.). Since they refused, He returned to Israel; so we have learned.

Now a question should be raised—and we have already learned that it is no sin when a person scrutinizes the details of Torah and asks his questions to elucidate its words. This verse is unsettled, and one should ask: When the blessed Holy one came to Seir, to which of their prophets did He appear? If you say that He revealed Himself to all of their people, we never find this except for Israel alone and through Moses. And, as has already been said, the verse should read as follows: YHWH to Sinai came and He shone to Seir upon them; He radiated to Mount Paran. Why from Seir upon them, and why from Mount Paran? All must be known and examined. I have already asked and have not heard and do not know.

When Rabbi Shim’on came, [Rabbi Yose] approached and asked about the matter as before. He replied, ‘This question has already been discussed. YHWH from Sinai came—as is said: Look, I am coming to you in the utmost cloud (Exodus 19:9), and from Sinai He came and revealed Himself to them. And He shone from Seir upon them—from what the children of Seir said, refusing to accept it; from this He illumined Israel, lavishing them with light and great love. Similarly, He radiated and illuminated from Mount Paran—from what the children of Paran said, refusing to accept it. From this, Israel gained greater love and radiance fittingly.

As for your asking ‘Through whom did He reveal Himself to them?’—come and see: it is a sublime mystery, and through you the matter is revealed. Torah issued from the supernal mystery of the head of the concealed King. When it reached the left arm, the blessed Holy One saw bad blood accumulating in that arm. He said, ‘I must purge and cleanse this arm; if that bad blood does not diminish, it will damage all. Surely, every defect must be eliminated from here.’

What did He do? He summoned Samael, who then came before Him. He said to him, ‘Do you want My Torah?’ He asked, ‘What’s written in it?’ He replied, ‘You shall not murder (Exodus 20:13).’ The blessed Holy One skipped to the necessary place. He said, ‘Heaven forbid! This Torah is Yours, and Yours it will remain. I don’t want this Torah.’

He went on pleading before Him, saying, ‘Master of the Universe, if You give it to me, my whole dominion will vanish, for look, my dominion is over killing—and there will be no wars—and my dominion is over the planet Mars. If so, all this will be abolished from the world! Master of the Universe, take Your Torah, and let me have no share or portion in it! But, if it pleases You, here is the people descended from Jacob—for them it is fitting.’ And he thought he was uttering slander against them.

This is He shone from Seir upon themfrom Seir, precisely, light radiated to Israel. Samael thought, ‘Surely, if Jacob’s children accept this, they will vanish from the world and never gain dominion! [Samael] responded to Him several times similarly. [The blessed Holy One] said to him, ‘You are the firstborn, and for you it is fitting.’ He replied, ‘Look, my birthright is his! It was sold to him, and I consented [see Genesis 25:29–34].’ He said to him, ‘Since you want no share in it, remove yourself from it entirely’ [even from the seven Noahide commandments, see BT Bava Qamma 38a, Avodah Zarah 2b–3a]. He replied, ‘Fine.’ He said to him, ‘Since it is so, give Me advice about what I should do, so that Jacob’s children will accept it, as you say.’ He replied, ‘Master of the Universe, they must be bribed. Take some light from the radiance of the powers of heaven and bestow it upon them, and thereby they will accept it—and here, mine will be first.’

He stripped off the radiance covering him and gave it to Him to give to Israel, as is written: He shone מִשֵּׂעִיר (mi-se’ir), from Seir, upon themfrom Seir, precisely, namely Samael, as is written: הַשָּׂעִיר (Ha-sa’ir), The goat, shall bear upon it [all their iniquities] (Leviticus 16:22). Upon them—upon Israel. Once He eliminated this, removing the bad blood from the left arm, He turned to the right arm and saw that it was similar. He said, ‘This arm, too, must be cleansed of bad blood.’ He summoned Rahab, and said to him, ‘Do you want My Torah?’ [Rahab, the sea monster, is sometimes used as a poetic epithet for Egypt (see Psalms 87:4), and here the prince of Ishmael, cf. Zohar 2:170b; 3:246b (RM); ZḤ 30d]. He replied, ‘What’s written in it?’ He skipped ahead and said, ‘You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:13).’ He replied, ‘Woe, if the blessed Holy One transmits this legacy to me—an evil legacy, which will eliminate my whole dominion; for I have obtained a blessing of waters, a blessing of the fish of the sea, as is written: פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ (Peru urvu), Be fruitful and multiply [and fill the water in the seas] (Genesis 1:22), and similarly: He will be פֶּרֶא (pere), a wild ass, of a man (ibid. 16:12).’

He began to plead before Him, saying, ‘Master of the Universe, we issued as two sons from Abraham! Here are the children of Isaac; give it to them, for whom it is fitting.’ He replied, ‘I cannot, for you are the first born, and for you it is fitting.’ He began to plead, saying, ‘Master of the Universe, my birthright will be his; and this light that I have thereby inherited, take and give to them.’ And so He did, as is written: הוֹפִיעַ (Hofi’a), He radiated, from Mount Paran.

Why is it written concerning Samael, וְזָרַח (Ve-zaraḥ), and He shone, whereas concerning Rahab it is written differently: Hofi’aHe appeared? Well, with the light that Samael stripped from himself, He took the sword and the killing [cf. Genesis 27:40: By your sword shall you live]—to kill by judicial sentencing, to kill properly—as is written: your triumphant sword (Deuteronomy 33:29) [cf. ZḤ 14a (MhN)], although it was not yours. And with the blessing that Rahab stripped from himself, He took a little, like someone to whom a little of his blessing appears, to enable [Israel] to be fruitful and multiply. Thus, hofi’aHe appeared, from Mount Paran, and it is not written ve-zaraḥ, and He shone. Once He had obtained these gifts for Israel from those ruling princes, He came and summoned all the myriads of holy ones (Deuteronomy 33:2), appointed over the other nations. They replied to Him similarly, and from all of them He received and obtained gifts to bestow upon Israel.

This may be compared to a doctor who had one vial full of vivifying drug, which he kept for his son. He wanted to give his son that vivifying ointment. The doctor was wise, and he said, ‘There are bad servants in my house. If they know that I am giving this present to my son, it will be evil in their eyes, and they will seek to kill him.’ What did he do? He took a little bit of deadly poison and put it on the opening of the vial. Then he called his servants and said to them, You are faithful to me; would you like this drug?

They said, Let’s see what it is. They took a bit to taste, and before even smelling it, they felt that they were about to die. They said to themselves, If he gives this drug to his son, he will die, and we will inherit our master. They said to him, Our master, this drug is fitting only for your son. Here are the wages of our labor; we leave them for you—give them to him as a bribe so that he will take this drug.

Similarly, the blessed Holy One is a wise doctor. He knew that if He gave the Torah to Israel before informing [the heavenly princes], they would pursue Israel every day on account of it and kill them. But He did this, and they gave Him gifts and presents so that [Israel] would accept it. All of these Moses received to give to Israel, as is written: You ascended the heights, you seized captives, you took gifts for humans (Psalms 68:19). Consequently, Israel inherited the Torah without any challenge or any accusation at all. Blessed is He and blessed is His name forever and forever!” (Zohar 3:192a–193a).

He is Unclean, He shall Dwell Apart: Yet it was Our Sickness He was Bearing!

“Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi met Elijah at the opening of the cave of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai [cf. 1 Kings 19:8–9]. He asked him: ‘Do I have a portion in the world to come?’ He said, ‘If this lord desires.’ Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said, ‘I saw two, but heard the voice of a third [i.e., the Shekhinah (Rashi)].’ He then asked him, ‘When will the Messiah come?’ ‘Go and ask him himself,’ he replied. ‘Where is he sitting?’ He said, ‘At the portal of the city of Rome.’ ‘And by what sign may I recognize him?’ He said, ‘He is sitting among the ill, poor, and suffering: everyone of them untie all at once and rebandage them together, whereas he unties and rebandages each separately [before treating the next], thinking, should I be wanted, I must not be delayed [by having to bandage a number of sores].’ So he went to him and greeted him, saying, ‘Peace be upon you, Rabbi and Teacher.’ ‘Peace be upon you son of Levi,’ he replied. ‘When will you come Master?’ he asked, ‘Today,’ he replied. On his returning to Elijah, he asked, ‘What did he say to you?’ ‘Peace be upon you Son of Levi,’ he replied. [Elijah] said, ‘He thereby assured you and your father of [a portion in] the world to come.’ ‘He spoke a lie to me, saying that he would come today, but has not.’ [Elijah] answered him, ‘This is what he said to you, Today, if you would only heed His voice!’ (Psalms 95:7)” (BT Sanhedrin 98a).

“The Rabbis said: [The Messiah,] his name is חִיוְורָא (ḥivvra), White, of the House of Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi], as is written, Indeed, he has borne our illness, and our sorrows he has carried. But we had reckoned him plagued, God-stricken and tormented (Isaiah 53:4) [i.e., the Messiah is as הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one afflicted with skin blanch—he is called unclean and dwells outside the camp (Rashi)]” (BT Sanhedrin 98b).

And the person afflicted with skin blanch, in whom the affliction is, his clothes shall be torn and his hair disheveled, and his moustache he shall cover, and he shall call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” All the days that the affliction is on him he shall remain unclean. He is unclean. He shall dwell apart. Outside the camp shall his dwelling be (Leviticus 13:45–46).

Indeed, he has borne our illness, and our sorrows he has carried. But we had reckoned him plagued, God-stricken and tormented. Yet he was wounded for our crimes, crushed for our transgressions. The chastisement that restored our well-being he bore, and through his bruising we were healed (Isaiah 53:4–5).

This shall be the teaching concerning הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one afflicted with skin blanch—הַמוֹצִיא רָע (ha-motsi ra), the one who utters evil. Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘If anyone produces evil speech, all his limbs are defiled and he deserves to be confined, for that evil word rises and arouses an impure spirit upon him, defiling him” (Zohar 3:53a).

“Yet he who [continually] declares [others] unclean is [himself] unclean and never speaks in praise [of people]. And Shemu’el said: With his own blemish he stigmatizes [others] as unclean” (BT Qiddushin 70a).

“When [the souls in the Garden of Eden below roam on every new moon and Sabbath] they tell the Messiah about the suffering of Israel in exile and about the wicked among them who do not seek to know their Lord, he weeps aloud over the wicked, as is written: But he was wounded for our sins, crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). Those souls return and stand in their places.

In the Garden of Eden there is one chamber called the Chamber of the Ill. The Messiah then enters that chamber and calls for all the illnesses, all the pains, and all the sufferings of Israel to come upon him, and they all do so. And if he did not ease them off of Israel, taking them upon himself, no one could endure the sufferings of Israel from the punishments of Torah, as is written: Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing (Isaiah 53:4). Similarly, Rabbi El’azar on earth [see BT Bava Metsi’a 83b–84b].

For innumerable are the sufferings looming over a person every day, all of which descended into the world at the time when Torah was given. When the people of Israel were in the Holy Land, they eliminated all those illnesses and sufferings from the world through rituals and sacrifices. Now, the Messiah removes them from inhabitants of the world, until a person departs from this world and receives punishment, as has been said. Except for the extremely wicked, who are sent deep within Hell, into those other compartments, where they are punished severely for the extreme filth of the soul; then intense fire is kindled to consume that filth. Woe to the soul who suffers that punishment! Furthermore, angels of destruction harass them with rods of fire to shake out that filth. Woe to the soul who suffers that punishment! Happy are those who keep the commandments of Torah!” (Zohar 2:212a, cf. Zohar Ḥadash 56c).

For this command which I charge you today is not too wondrous for you nor is it distant. It is not in the heavens, to say, “Who will go up for us to the heavens and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?” And it is not beyond the sea, to say, “Who will cross over for us beyond the sea and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?” But the word is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it (Deuteronomy 30:11–14).

You are good and do good. Teach me Your statutes. The arrogant plaster me with lies—I with whole heart keep Your decrees. Their heart grows dull like fat—as for me, in Your teaching I delight. It was good for me that I was afflicted, so that I might learn Your statutes. Better for me Your mouth’s teaching than thousands of pieces of silver and gold (Psalms 119:68–72).

“Rabbi Abba said, ‘Yose, my son, I will tell you what happened to me with the Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai]. One day we were walking in the valley of Ono, delving into Torah that whole day. Due to the intensity of the sun, we sat ourselves down in the cleft of a certain rock [this recalls the cleft of the rock where God revealed His back to Moses (Exodus 33:22–23). Similarly, here, a profound mystery is revealed: the suffering of the righteous]. I said to him, ‘How is it that whenever the wicked proliferate in the world, the righteous among them are smitten on their account? For we have learned as follows: ‘For a generation’s חוֹבָא (ḥova), sin [lit., liability, debt], the righteous are seized.’ Why? If because they do not reprimand the world for their deeds, well, there are many who do reprimand but are not heeded, and the righteous are overwhelmed by them. And if it is so that there will be no one to protect the world, then let them not die and not be seized for the sins [of the world], since the righteous find joy in the destruction [of the wicked].’

He replied, ‘For a generation’s sin, the righteous are surely seized, and we have established these matters. But when the righteous are seized with illness or afflictions, it is in order to atone for the world; then all sins of the generation are purged. How do we know this? From all members of the body. When all the members are in distress—grave illness prevailing over them—one member must suffer so that all of them may be healed. Which one is it? The arm. The arm is struck and blood is drawn from it, and then all members of the body are healed.

Similarly, inhabitants of the world are bodily members, interlinked. When the blessed Holy One wishes to grant healing to the world, He strikes one righteous person among them, and through him provides healing to all. How do we know this? As is written: But he was wounded for our sins, crushed for our iniquities, and by his wound we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). And by his wound—bloodletting, like someone letting blood from his arm. By that wound we are healed—healing comes to us, to all members of the body.

Never is a righteous person smitten except to provide healing to the generation and to atone for them. This is the mystery of ‘a righteous one who suffers,’ for the Other Side prefers most of all that Judgment should overwhelm a righteous one—for then he does not care about the whole world and ignores them because of the joy of dominating him [cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 1a–b]. Yet that righteous person attains supreme dominion in this world and in the world that is coming. As for ‘a righteous one who prospers,’ this is because the blessed Holy One does not care to atone for the world’” (Zohar 3:217b–18b).

Vitality of the World

Add. 27006

“Rabbi Me’ir said, ‘When a person is in distress, what expression does the Shekhinah say? As it were: My head is lighter, my arm is lighter [a euphemism for feeling heaviness and pain].’

If so for the Omnipresent in distress on account of the blood of the wicked when it is shed, how much more so on account of the blood of the righteous!” (M Sanhedrin 6:5).

“We learned in the primary compisition: ‘The Other Side prefers most of all that Judgment should overwhelm a righteous one—for then he does not care about the [debts owed him by the] whole world and ignores them’ (Zohar 3:218a) [cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 1a–b]. While [the Companions] were still discussing, a shade [the spirit of Rabbi Pinḥas son of Ya’ir] came upon them and asked: ‘How do we know? We know from Job. For the blessed Holy One, saw that generation was deserving of annihilation, and when the adversary came to denounce, the blessed Holy One said to him: Have you paid heed to My servant Job, for there is none like him on earth (Job 1:8) in order to save the whole generation through him. The matter can be likened to a shepherd when a wolf comes to devour his flock and destroy them. Being wise, what does the shepherd do? He gives the wolf a lamb that is stronger, fatter, and larger than the others, the leader of the flock, and the wolf, out of his desire to have control over the lamb, forgets about the rest of the flock. What does the shepherd do next? While the wolf is preoccupied with that lamb, he flees with the flock and brings them to safety. Later, he returns to the lamb and saves it from the wolf.

This is exactly what the blessed Holy One, did with the generation. He offered the righteous one for indictment in order to save the generation on his account. And if, like Jacob, he is strong, the verse says of him: and a man wrestled with him (Genesis 32:25). This is even more the case when he overcomes, until he says: Let me go (ibid., 27).’ He said: ‘O Shade! O Shade! It certainly must be so. Happy is the portion of that righteous man who is strong in suffering afflictions, and how much more so the one who, by means of his [afflictions], manages to overcome his denouncer who has his control over the whole generation, and it is accounted to him as though he had rescued them, and the blessed Holy One, appoints him as shepherd over them in place [of the adversary]. This was how the Faithful Shepherd [Moses] came to be the shepherd over Israel, and not only that, but he will lead them in the next world. And this was because he saved them that they should not be lost, for he guided them in Torah and mitsvot.’

While they were yet talking, the Faithful Shepherd himself came and said to them: ‘And why was the right arm afflicted? The way of all physicians is to draw blood initially from the right arm. Since the left arm is the one that is nearer the heart, why is blood not let from it [i.e., why is it that one righteous man is afflicted and not another (Sullam), cf. BT Mo’ed Qatan 28a]?’ He answered: ‘Because the blessed Holy One, does not wish overly to strike, and one suffices. But if the bile is serious and spreads throughout the members of the body, blood is drawn from the left arm [too].’

He said to him: ‘If the two of them were not [afflicted] at the same time, that would be fine, but what about the case of the two righteous men, one of whom suffers from diseases and troubles, while the other is treated with kindness? Why is it that if the bile spread, blood is not drawn from both of them who are the two arms, so that healing may be given to all members. And in the case where the bile does not become more serious, and does not spread throughout the members of the body, why is more blood let from the right arm than from the left?’ He said to him: ‘Why don’t you give the answer?’

‘Certainly the body and the two arms correspond to the three Patriarchs and the head to אָדָם קַדְמָאָה (adam qadma’ah), Primordial Man—the right arm corresponds to Abraham and the left arm corresponds to Isaac, the body corresponds to Jacob. Within the body, the liver is to the right, the spleen to the left—Esau and Ishmael. The heart is Jacob in the center. The lungs and kidneys correspond to Abraham and Isaac. Lungs—water—draw in all sorts of elixirs; kidneys—fire—cook the seed that descends from the brain.

And since Abraham [Ḥesed] is ‘water’ he places his children in the exile of Edom. This is why the liver and the gall that is in the liver are to the right of Abraham. [Edom’s] sword is the מְרֵרָה (mererah), gall, of which it is said: But in the end she’s as מָרָה (marah), bitter, as wormwood [sharp as a double-edged sword] (Proverbs 5:4) [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 20b]. And if the liabilities become greater in number among the children of Abraham, who are placed in the exile of Edom, and the מַרְעֵיהּ (mareih), bile, spreads over them from the side of the liver, they must be smitten and blood has to be drawn from the right arm. And ‘Whoever has his money taken is as though his blood was spilled’ (BT Bava Metsi’a 58b), for he remains poor, and a poor man is considered as dead [see BT Shabbat 129a–b; Gittin 70a. Cf. Zohar 3:227a (RM)].

But if the liabilities become greater in number among the children of Isaac they are exiled among Ishmael [see Zohar 2:17a (MhN)]. The bile spreads from the side of the spleen, on the left. And blood has to be drawn from the left arm, and not from any other.

And if liabilities become greater in number amongst the children of Jacob, who are scattered among the children of Esau and Ishmael, then the bile spreads over the body and blood has to be drawn from both arms [cf. Zohar 3:246a]. But if all three of them are afflicted as one, the bile then rises to the head and blood must be drawn from veins of the head. And these three became a chariot for Primordial Man and the Patriarchs, and acquire from them strength to suffer torments and protect the generation throughout the four directions of the world.

Woe to the generation that causes the Patriarchs and Primordial Man to be struck, for this includes also the righteous amongst them, for there is no difference between Primordial Man and the Righteous One and the Patriarchs and Primordial Man. This is because these are their נִשְׁמָתִין (nishmatin), souls, and their illnesses, pains, and sufferings reach the Patriarchs and Man. Just as when a number of rivers flow out from the Sea and return to Her murky and dirty, but the Sea removes their murkiness and dirtiness. And because of the Sea’s valor, for She is strong, She does not suffer from their filth, but expels it, and the rivers remain clear and pure, without that filth. Just as a mother cleans dirt from her little ones. Indeed, the Patriarchs remove the liabilities and the filth from their children, Israel, when there are people of righteous deeds among them who are strong enough to suffer torments for the sake of the generation [on the merit of the Patriarchs, see BT Shabbat 55a; BT Rosh ha-Shanah 11a. On the expending of an individual’s merits, see BT Shabbat 32a; Ta’anit 20b]. At that time there is no difference between them [namely, the righteous of the generation and the Patriarchs].’ They all came and greeted him [Moses the Faithful Shepherd] and said to him: ‘Sinai! Sinai! Through whose mouth the blessed Holy One and His Shekhinah speak. Who is able to challenge Him in anything? Happy is our portion that we have merited to renew matters in the primary compostion [of Zohar] through you, so that the Shekhinah may give light in exile.’

He said to them: ‘Rabbis of every generation, those who have been [or will be] during their time, and how much more so the Holy Lamp whose wisdom will shine in all the generations that come after him: do not give the blessed Holy One, quiet in Torah until the Holy Spirit is poured out on us.’ …

None but you [Moses, Faithful Shepherd,] may employ great מְטַטְרוֹן שַׂר הַפָּנִים (Metatron Sar ha-Panim), Metatron, Prince of the Countenance, since your name [מֹשֶׁה‎ (Moshe), Moses] is intimated in the initials of his.

And now there is need of a physician to know by how many degrees the pulse of the patient, Israel, has increased in the exile of Edom, for it is said of him I am in a fever of love (Song of Songs 5:8). For a number of physicians gathered over him to check the pulse in order to know when his illness would come to an end, but not one of them could understand them, for no physician is competent to read the pulse of this particular patient, for there are beats of Teqiah Shevarim Teru’ah Teqiah, Teqiah Shevarim Teqiah, Teqiah Teru’ah Teqiah, as the prophet said of them: Like a woman with child, that draws near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and cries out in her pangs (Isaiah 26:17).

And all the ten shofar blasts are included in three תְּקִיעָה שְׁבָרִים תְּרוּעָה (Teqiah Shevarim Teru’ah). תְּקִיעָה (Teqiah)—the length of the exile. שְׁבָרִים (Shevarim), Moaning—the proximity of the exile. תְּרוּעָה (Teru’ah), Wailing Alarm—the coming redemption; teaching of the duress after duress with no respite between them [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 33b–34a]. And clearly, since the other nations make Israel’s exile more difficult, it is the duress that they exert that brings redemption closer. And so too in our case of the patient’s pulse: beats come faster, one after the other, with no space between them, and the man’s נַפְשָׁא (nafsha), soul [or: breath], leaves him.

קשר״ק קש״ק קר״ק (Teqiah Shevarim Teru’ah, Teqiah Teqiah Shevarim, Teqiah Teqiah Teru’ah, Teqiah)—קֶשֶׁר (qesher), conspiracy, to remove שֶׁקֶר (sheqer), falsehood, from the world [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 16b]. Concerning this was the oath: מִלְחָמָה לַיהוָה בַּעֲמָלֵק (milḥamah la-Adonai ba-Amaleq), War for YHWH against Amalek for all time [the intial letters of which are numerically equivalent to ע״ב (seventy-two), cf. TZ 67a; TZḤ 115a] (Exodus 17:16). A simple, double, triple and quadruple song will arise in the world, where the letters [יהוה (YHWH)] will ascend: י יה יהו יהוה (Y YH YHW YHWH) [numerically equivalent to seventy-two, cf. Ibn Ezra on Genesis 4:19]. At that time [the prayer] will be answered: ‘וּבְכֵן (U-vekhen), and therefore, the righteous shall see and be glad, the upright exult and the pious rejoice in song’ (Amidah for the Days of Awe). This additional ו״ (six) [of ‘וּבְכֵן (U-vekhen)’ alludes to]the Sixth Millennium. The Second Temple was destroyed קע״ב (one hundred and seventy-two) years before [the Sixth Millennium]. And following the completion of רע״ב (two hundred and seventy-two), as in the verse, At עֶרֶב (erev), evening, you shall know that it was YHWH who brought you out [of the land of Egypt] (Exodus 16.6). Also, For your servant became עָרַב (arev), pledge, for the lad (Genesis 44:32) [‘you should know that all these dates mentioned in the Zohar refer to an arousal from above, which occur at these times for redemption, however, certainly it depends on the people’s actions and repentance’ (Sullam)]” (Zohar 3:219a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“צוּר עוֹלָמִים (Tsur olamim), Everlasting Rock (Isaiah 26:4), חַי הָעוֹלָם (Ḥai ha-olam), Vitality of the World (Daniel 12:7), יוֹצֵר בְּרֵאשִׁית (yotser bereshit), Fashioner of the Beginning, Reviver of the Dead, who is our life and our sustained existence, our merit, our help, and our drawing near, to praise Your name. Blessed are You Lord, God of praises” (JT Berakhot 1:5, 10b).

Israel: Heart of the Whole World


“And look, it is well known that all members of the body absorb everything, while the heart cannot absorb even a thread of a strand of hair!” (Zohar 2:108a).

“There are three rulers above, through whom the blessed Holy One is known, and they are His precious mystery: מוֹחָא (moḥa), the brain, לִבָּא (libba), the heart, and כַבְדָּא (khavdda), the liver [—מֶלֶך (melekh), King]. They act the opposite of this world. Above, the brain receives first, and then gives to the heart; the heart receives and gives to the liver, and then the liver gives a portion to all those sources below, every single one fittingly. Below, the liver receives first, and then brings all near the heart, and the heart receives. Once it has received and been invigorated, from the very vigor and delight that it received, it gives to the brain, stimulating it. Then, the liver resumes distributing to all sources of the body” (Zohar 2:152b–153a, cf. ibid. 1:139a [MhN]).

“If Assembly of Israel did not initiate arousal, the one above would not be aroused toward Her. By desire below, all is consummated” (Zohar 1:35a).

“[Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said:] Scripture says: [Away, away, flee from the land of the north, said YHWH,] for like the four winds of the heavens did I spread you out, said YHWH (Zechariah 2:10). What did He say to them? Should you say that the blessed Holy One said to Israel as follows: I have spread you out to the four winds [i.e., directions] of the world, if so, why did He say like the four [winds]? He should have said to the four [winds]! Rather, this is what He meant: Just as the world cannot endure without winds, so too the world cannot exist without Israel” (BT Ta’anit 3b, cf. Zohar 2:5b [MhN]).

“Surely we are closer to the supernal King than all other nations! Surely it is so, for the blessed Holy One made Israel the heart of the whole world. So is Israel among the other nations: the heart among the limbs of the body. All inhabitants of the world are the limbs, while Israel is the heart in their midst; and if Israel did not exist in the world, no nations could endure for even a moment—like limbs without a heart. Therefore they are in the middle of the whole world—the heart within the limbs.

Israel conducts herself among the other nations like the heart among the limbs. The heart is tender and weak, yet it is the vitality of all the limbs. None of the limbs knows pain, distress, and agony at all, only the heart, containing vitality and intelligence. [Pain] comes nowhere near the other limbs, since they have no vitality and know nothing. None of the other limbs come near the king—who is intelligence and wisdom located in the brain—only the heart. The other limbs are far from him and know nothing about him. Similarly, Israel is close to the Holy King, whereas the other nations are far from Him [cf. Kuzari 2:25–44; Tanḥuma, Qedoshim 10]….

Israel eats no animal that has not been slaughtered properly or is diseased or defective, or the dirty filth of detestable and creeping things, as do other nations…. For, in fact, the heart—which is tender and weak, yet king and vitality of all the other limbs—takes for its nourishment only the purest and clearest of all blood, so its food is cleanest and most refined of all, whereas the remaining refuse it leaves for all the other limbs. These other limbs do not care about this; rather, they take the refuse and the worst and most foul of all—and they are fittingly strong [cf. Kuzari 2:41].

Consequently, among the other limbs there are blisters, inflammation, rash, and scaly affliction; whereas for the heart, none of these at all. Rather, it is cleanest and purest of all, with no blemish whatsoever. Concerning this it is written: You are wholly beautiful, my love; there is no blemish in you (Song of Songs 4:7).

Rabbi Yose came and kissed his hands. He said, ‘If I have come into the world just to hear this, it is enough!'” (Zohar 3:221a–b, cf. BT Yoma 39a; Zohar 2:125b; 3:41b–42a, 75b).

“The Faithful Shepherd said, ‘Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai], it is certain that אִצְטוֹמְכָא (itstomkha), the rumen [or: אִסְטוֹמְכָא (istomkha), see BT Ḥullin 50b], takes everything up to six hours and bakes [cf. Zohar 2:125b]. For the rumen is a baker. And the lung is a cupbearer. The heart is king, and these two are certainly the baker and the cupbearer who give to the king of the choicest of food and drinks, for he is the head of them all and the choicest of them all. And this is the meaning of what is written: I have gathered my myrrh with my perfume, I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey, I have drunk my wine with my milk (Song of Songs 5:1). Eat, friends, and drink, be drunk with loving (ibid.)—the other parts of the body [i.e., the Companions], the armies and camps of the king who distribute food to them by means of the chief baker while drink is by means of the chief cupbearer [i.e., the lung. On the chief baker and the chief cupbearer see Genesis 40, cf. Zohar 1:192a]….

And in the primary composition of the first part [Zohar 3:235b], the Faithful Shepherd [Moses] opened, saying, ‘Woe to those people whose hearts are closed and whose eyes are unseeing, who do not know the organs of their own body and according to what they are arranged. For the trachea is composed of three forces: הֶבֶל (hevel), vapor, לַהַב אֵשׁ (lahav esh), a flash of fire—issuing from the heart and split into seven vapors as said by Qohelet [there are seven iterations of הֶבֶל (hevel) in Ecclesiastes 1:2, see BT Bava Batra 100b]—and air, entering from outside. Water of the lobes of the lung which are attached to the trachea. And from these three—water, air, and fire—Voice is assisted, and each one is split into seven, and they are seven flashes, seven climates, and seven streams [see Zohar 2:30b; 3:10a].

And when the flashes of the heart meet with the rain clouds, which are the wings of the lung, by way of the trachea of the lung, the result is: And His might’s thunder who can grasp? (Job 26:14). For therein the heart understands with Binah, which is in the heart on the left, Gevurah. And Ḥesed is to the right, the water of the wings of the lung, and Ḥokhmah, which is brain, is there [Ḥesed and Gevurah ascend becoming Ḥokhmah and Binah (Sullam)]. And from it comes a garden spring, a garden of fresh water and streams from לְבָנוֹן (Levanon), Lebanon (Song of Songs 4:15)—לִּבּוּנָא (libbuna), whiteness, of the brain that trickles through the trachea of the lung, after the clouds of Binah have ascended to the brain [cf. Zohar 3:135b (IR)].

And the mystery of the matter is in: Who is this coming up from the desert like a pillar of smoke [perfumed with myrrh and frankincense from all the merchant’s powders?] (Song of Songs 3:6). For this is smoke of the arrangement on the altar that rises from the heart to the brain, which cannot be moved from its place by all the breaths of the world. חָכְמָה (Ḥokhmah), Wisdom—כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, [of] מ״ה (forty-five) [i.e., יוד הא ואו הא (YHWH) numerically equivalent to forty-five]: כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, in the heart and מָה (mah), What, in the brain. The trachea is Tif’eret and incorporates six sefirot which are the six rungs to the Throne, Mother, so that Ḥokhmah from the brain will rest on the heart, for with it the heart understands. For this reason: קְנֵה חָכְמָה קְנֵה בִינָה (Qeneh Ḥokhmah, qeneh Vinah), Get wisdom, get understanding (Proverbs 4:5). Father descends with Her; Father ascends with Her. And this is a ladder on which two ascend and two descend” (Zohar 3:234b–235a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).