The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: זְעֵיר זְעֵיר

Land of the Living

IMG_0683A land that YHWH your God seeks out perpetually, the eyes of YHWH your God are upon it from the year’s beginning to the year’s end (Deuteronomy 11:12).

“The blessed Holy One rolled up the whole land of Israel and placed it beneath our father Jacob, so that it would be easily conquered by his descendants” (BT Ḥullin 91b).

I am YHWH, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie, [to you will I give it and to your seed] (Genesis 28:13)—we have learned: ‘This implies that the land of Israel was rolled up for him.’ Now, the land of Israel is four hundred parasangs by four hundred parasangs—how was it uprooted from its place and set beneath him?

Well, the blessed Holy One has another holy supernal land, called ‘the land of Israel,’ which is beneath the rung of Jacob, who stands upon it. He bestowed it to Israel out of His love for them, to abide with them, lead them, and protect them from all. It is called Land of the Living” (Zohar 3:84b, cf. Bereshit Rabbah 69:4; Zohar 1:72a, 156a; ZḤ 28d).

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Truth from the Earth Will Spring Up

043-planting“Rabbi Shim’on said: When the blessed Holy One came to create the human, the ministering angels formed themselves into groups and parties, some of them saying, ‘Let him be created,’ whilst others urged, ‘Let him not be created.’ As is written, Kindness and truth have met, justice and peace have kissed (Psalms 85:10). Kindness said, ‘Let him be created, because he will render acts of kindness’; Truth said, ‘Let him not be created, because he is compounded of falsehood’; Justice said, ‘Let him be created, because he will perform just deeds’; Peace said, ‘Let him not be created, because he is full of strife.’ What did the blessed Holy One do? He took Truth and cast it to the earth. The ministering angels said before the blessed Holy One ‘Master of the Universe! Why do You despise Your seal [cf. BT Shabbat 55a: ‘Truth is the seal of the blessed Holy One’]? Let Truth arise from the earth!’ As is written, Truth from the earth תִּצְמָח (titsemaḥ), will spring up (Psalms 85:12) (Bereshit Rabbah 8:6).

Behold the man whose name is צֶמַח (tsemaḥ), Shoot; and יִצְמָח (yitsemaḥ), he shall shoot up, in his place, and he shall build the temple of YHWH (Zechariah 6:12).

“The sages said, ‘If the King Messiah comes from among the living, David will be his name; if he comes from among the dead, it will be David himself.’ Rabbi Tanḥuma said, ‘I say that the basis for this teaching is, And keeping faith, with His anointed, to David (Psalms 18:51).’

Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said, ‘צֶמַח (tsemaḥ), Shoot, is his name.’ Rabbi Yudan son of Rabbi Ayybo said, ‘מְנַחֵם (menaḥem), Comforter, is his name.’ Ḥananiah son of Rabbi Abahu said, ‘They do not disagree. The numerical value of the letters of one name equals the numerical value of the other—צֶמַח (Tsemaḥ) is equal to מְנַחֵם (Menaḥem)’ [cf. Zohar 3:16a].

And this supports the view of Rabbi Yudan son of Rabbi Ayybo. Once a Jew was plowing and his ox snorted once before him. An Arab who was passing and heard the sound said to him, ‘O son of Judah, O son of Judah. Loosen your ox, and loosen your plow. For today your Temple was destroyed.’ The ox snorted again. He said to him, ‘O son of Judah, O son of Judah. Bind your ox, and bind your plow. For today the King Messiah was born.’ He said to him, ‘What is his name?’ [The Arab replied,] ‘Menaḥem.’ He said to him, ‘And what is his father’s name?’ He said to him, ‘Ḥizqiyah.’ He said to him, ‘Where is he from?’ He said to him, ‘From the royal capital of Bethlehem in Judea.’ He went and sold his ox and sold his plow. And he became a peddler of infants’ clothes. And he went from place to place until he came to that very city. All of the women bought from him. But Menaḥem’s mother did not buy from him. He heard the women saying, ‘O Mother of Menaḥem, O Mother of Menaḥem, come buy for your child.’ She said, ‘I want to choke this enemy of Israel. For on the day he was born the Temple was destroyed.’ He said to her, ‘We are sure that on this day it was destroyed, and on this day it will be rebuilt.’ She said to him, ‘I have no money.’ He said to her, ‘It is of no matter to me. Come and buy for him and if you have no money, pay me when I return.’ After a while he returned. He went up to that place. He said to her, ‘What happened to the infant?’ She said to him, ‘Since the time you saw him a wind came and whisked him away from me.’

Rabbi Bun said, ‘Why must we learn this from an Arab? Do we not have evidence for it? And Lebanon with its mighty shall fall (Isaiah 10:34). And what follows this? And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1)’” (JT Berakhot 2:3, 5a cf. Eikhah Rabbah 1:51; Zohar 1:82b).

“Rav [Yehudah ha-Nasi, a descendant of David] said: The world was created only on David’s account. Shemu’el [of the tribe of Levi] said: On Moses’ account; Rabbi Yoḥanan said: For the sake of the Messiah. What is his name?—the House of Rabbi Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is written, until שִׁילֹה (Shiloh) comes (Genesis 49:10). The House of Rabbi Yannai said: His name is Yinnon for it is written, May his name be forever. As long as the sun may his name יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17) [cf. Bahir §61, §86]. The House of Rabbi Ḥaninah said: His name is Ḥaninah, as is written, [Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that you know not, neither you nor your fathers; and there shall you serve other gods day and night;where I will not show you חֲנִינָה (ḥaninah), favor (Jeremiah 16:13). Others say: His name is Menaḥem the son of Ḥizqiyah, as is written, Because the מְנַחֵם (menaem), comforter, that would relieve my life is far from me (Lamentations 1:16) [the initial letters of these names are an acronym for מָשִׁיחַ (mashiaḥ), Messiah, see Abarbanel, Yeshu’ot Meshiḥo, 2:3].

The Rabbis said: His name is חִיוְורָא (ḥivvra), White, of the House of Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi], as is written, Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our pains that he endured—though we considered him plagued, stricken by God and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4) [i.e., a מְצוֹרָע (metsora), skin blanched one (Rashi), see Leviticus 13:45–6; BT Qiddushin 70a]. Rav Naḥman said: If he is of those living [to day], he might be one like myself, as is written, And their nobles shall be from themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them (Jeremiah 30:21) [this description fits Rav Naḥman, who, as the son-in-law of the Resh Galuta, enjoyed great power and prestige]. Rav said: If he is of the living, it would be our holy Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi]; if of the dead, it would have been Daniel the most beloved man. Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: The blessed Holy One will raise up another David for them, as is written, But they shall serve YHWH their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them (ibid., 9): not הַקִים (haqim), I raised up, but אָקִים (aqim), I will raise up, is said. Rav Papa said to Abbaye: But it is written, And my servant David shall be their נָשִׂיא (nasi), prince, for ever (Ezekiel 37:25) [and prince is a lower title than king!]—such as caesar and little caesar [i.e., the second David will be the king, and the former David will be his viceroy]” (BT Sanhedrin 98b).

Until שִׁילֹה (Shiloh) comes (Genesis 49:10)—until שַׁי לוֹ (shai lo), tribute to him, come, as is written: All round Him to bring שַׁי (shai), tribute, to the Fearsome One (Psalms 76:12) [cf. Isaiah 18:7]” (Rashi).

“שִׂיחַ (Shiaḥ), plant, of the field (Genesis 2:5)—the first מָשִׁיחַ (mashiaḥ), Messiah, who was not yet on earth. Shrub, of the field (ibid.)—the second Messiah. Why were they not on the earth? Because Moses was not there with them to serve the Shekhinah [called Earth]. Of him, it is written: And there was no human to till the soil (ibid.). The secret is given in: The scepter shall not pass from Judah (Genesis 49:10)—Messiah son of David; Nor the mace from between his legs (ibid.)—Messiah son of Joseph. Until Shiloh comes (ibid.)—Moses, since מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses, is numerically equivalent to שִׁילֹה (Shiloh), Shiloh. וְלוֹ יִקְהַת (Ve-lo yiqehat), and to him the submission, of peoples (ibid.)—the letters [of]: וְלֵוִי קְהָת (ve-Levi qehat), and Levi Kohath [i.e., reaching from Moses, to Kohath and Levi, his ancestors]” (Zohar 1:25b, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai: If Israel kept two Sabbaths according to her halakhot, they would be redeemed immediately [מִיָד (miyad), ‘immediately’ can be read as an acrostic: מָשִׁיחַ (mashiaḥ), Messiah, or: מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses, and יוֹסֵף (Yosef), Joseph, and דָוִד (David), David], as is said, Thus says YHWH of the eunuch that keep My Sabbaths (Isaiah 56:4), which is followed by, even them will I bring to My holy mountain (ibid., 7)” (BT Shabbat 118b, cf. JT Ta’anit 1:1; 64:1).

“[Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Zakkai used to say,] ‘If you have a sapling in your hand, and it is said to you, ‘Behold, there is the Messiah’—go on with your planting, and afterward go out and receive him” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan B, 31).

The Footsteps of Messiah

follow-in-his-footsteps-38691“[Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Zakkai used to say,] ‘If you have a sapling in your hand, and it is said to you, ‘Behold, there is the Messiah’—go on with your planting, and afterward go out and receive him” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan B, 31).

“Rabbi Naḥman said to Rabbi Yitsḥaq: ‘Have you heard when בַּר נַפְלֵי (bar nafli), Son of the Fallen, will come?’ ‘Who is Bar Nafli?’ he asked. ‘Messiah,’ he answered. ‘Do you call Messiah Bar Nafli?’ [בַּר נַפְלֵי (bar nafli), Stillborn (lit., Son of the Fallen), is numerically equivalent to בֵּן יִשָׁי (ben yishai), Son of Jesse, cf. Zohar 3:215a (RM)]—‘Even so,’ he said, ‘as is written, In that day will I raise up the booth of David הַנֹּפֶלֶת (ha-nofelet), that is fallen (Amos 9:11). He replied, ‘Thus has Rabbi Yoḥanan said: in the generation when the son of David will come, scholars will be few in number, and as for the rest, their eyes will fail through sorrow and grief. Multitudes of trouble and evil decrees will be promulgated anew, each new evil coming with haste before the other has ended.’

Our Rabbis taught: the seventh [i.e., שְׁמִטָה (shemittah), year of release] at the end of which the son of David comes—in the first year, this verse will be fulfilled: And I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city (Amos 4:7), in the second, the arrows of hunger will be sent forth; in the third, a great famine, in the course of which men, women, and children, devout men and men on whose behalf miracles occur will die, and Torah will be forgotten by its students; in the fourth, plenty and no plenty; in the fifth, great plenty, when men will eat, drink and rejoice, and Torah will return to its disciples; in the sixth, קוֹלוֹת (qolot), sounds [either heavenly voices announcing the advent of Messiah, or the blasts of the great shofar, see Isaiah 27:13]; in the seventh, wars; and at the conclusion of the seventh Son of David will come. Rabbi Yosef said: But so many sevenths have passed, yet has he not come!—Abbaye said: Were there then sounds in the sixth and wars in the seventh! Moreover, have they transpired in this order!

As Your enemies reviled Your anointed one’s footsteps (Psalms 89:52). It has been taught, Rabbi Yehudah said: in the generation when the Son of David comes, the house of assembly will be for whores, Galilee in ruins, Gavlan [i.e., Bashan] lie desolate, the border inhabitants wander about from city to city, receiving no hospitality, the wisdom of scribes will stink, sin-fearing men despised, the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog, and truth entirely lacking, as is written, Yea, truth fails; and he that departs from evil has stripped himself (Isaiah 59:15). What is yea, truth נֶעְדֶּרֶת (ne’ederet), fails?—the academy of Rav said: This teaches that it will be like עֳדָרִים (adarim), flocks, and depart. What is and he that departs from evil מִשְׁתּוֹלֵל (mishtolel), has stripped himself—the academy of Rav Shila said: He who departs from evil will be מִשְׁתּוֹלֵל (mishtolel), made barefoot, by the people [i.e., deemed insane, cf. Micah 1:8: Therefore I will lament and wail, I will go שׁוֹלָל (sholal), stripped, and naked: I will make a wailing like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches].

Rava said: At first I would say that there is no truth in the world. Whereupon one of the Rabbis, Rav Tavut is his name—others say, by name of Rav Tavyomei— who, even if he were given all the treasures of the world, would not lie, told me that he once came to a place called קוּשְׁטָא (qushta), Truth, in which no one ever told lies, and where no man ever died before his time. Now, he married one of their women, by whom he had two sons. One day his wife was sitting and washing her hair, when a neighbour came and knocked at the door. Thinking to himself that it would not be proper [to tell her that his wife was washing herself], he called out, ‘She is not here.’ [As a punishment for this] his two sons died. Then people of that town came to him and questioned him, ‘What is the cause of this?’ So he told them what had happened. They said to him, ‘Leave, pray, this town, and do not incite Death against these men [i.e., us].’

It has been taught: Rabbi Nehorai said: in the generation when Messiah comes, young men will insult the old, and old men will stand before the young; daughters will rise up against their mothers, and daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law. The face of the generation will be like the face of a dog, and a son will not be humble in his father’s presence.

It has been taught, Rabbi Neḥemiyah said: in the generation of Messiah’s coming impudence will increase, and the cost will corrupt, the vine yield its fruit, yet wine will be costly [i.e., everyone will be drunk, so that in spite of the abundant yield, there will be a scarcity], and the Kingdom will be converted to the heresy with none to rebuke them [a prediciton of the conversion of Rome to Christianity under Constantine the Great in 313 C.E.]. This supports Rabbi Yitsḥaq, who said: Son of David will not come until the whole world is converted to heresy. Rava said: What is the verse? If the skin blanch has covered his whole body, he shall declare the affliction clean (Leviticus 13:13) [when all are heretics, it is a sign that the world is about to be made clean by the advent of Messiah].

Our Rabbis taught: Yes, YHWH champions His people, for His servants He shows change of heart when He sees that power is gone, no ruler or helper remains (Deuteronomy 32:36):  Son of David will not come until denunciators are in abundance [Israel will be at the mercy of informers]. Another interpretation: until disciples of the wise are few. Another interpretation: until the [last] perutah has gone from the purse. Yet another interpretation: until the redemption is despaired of, as is written, no ruler or helper remains, as—were it possible [to say so]—Israel had neither Supporter nor Helper. Even as Rabbi Zera, who, whenever he chanced upon rabbis engaging [in calculating the time of the Messiah’s coming], would say to them: I beg of you, do not postpone it, for it has been taught: Three come unawares: Messiah, a found article, and a scorpion.

Rav Qattina said: The world is six thousand years, and one is desolate, as is written, And YHWH alone shall be exalted in that day (Isaiah 2:11). Abbaye said: It is desolate two, as is said, After two days will He revive us: on the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight (Hosea 6:2) [see Rabbi David ben Yehudah ha-Ḥasid, Sefer Mar’ot Ha-Zove’ot, 106:13].

It has been taught in accordance with Rav Qattina: Just as the seventh year is one year of release in seven, so is the world: one thousand years out of seven shall be fallow, as is written, And YHWH alone shall be exalted in that day, and it is further said, A psalm, a song for the Sabbath day (Psalms 92:1)—the day that is altogether Sabbath. It is also said, For a thousand years in Your eyes are like yesterday gone (Psalms 90:4).

The Tanna debe Eliyyahu teaches: The world is six thousand years. Two thousand תֹהוּ (tohu), chaos; two thousand תוֹרָה (torah), Law; two thousand years the days of Messiah.

Elijah said to Rav Yehudah, the brother of Rav Salia the Devout: ‘The world is not less than eighty-five jubilees, and in the last jubilee the son of David will come.’ He asked him, ‘At the beginning or at the end?’—he replied, ‘I do not know.’ ‘Shall [this period] be completed or not?’—‘I do not know,’ he answered. Rav Ashi said: He said this to him, ‘Before that, do not expect him; afterwards you may await him.’

Rav Ḥanan son of Taḥlifa sent [word] to Rabbi Yosef: I once met a man who possessed a scroll written in Hebrew in Assyrian characters. I said to him: ‘How did this come to you?’ He replied, ‘I hired myself as a mercenary in the Roman army, and found it amongst the Roman archives. In it is stated that 4,291 years after Creation the world will be orphaned. [As to the years following,] some of them will be spent in the war of the great sea monsters, and some in the war of Gog and Magog, and the remaining [period] will be the era of Messiah, whilst the blessed Holy One, will renew His world only after seven thousand years.’ Rabbi Abba the son of Rabba said: The statement was after five thousand years.

It has been taught; Rabbi Natan said: This verse pierces and descends to the very abyss: For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay (Habakkuk 2:3). Not as our Rabbis, who interpreted, for a season, a season, and a half-season (Daniel 7:25) [i.e., two and a half years]; nor as Rabbi Simlai who expounded, You fed them bread of tears and made them drink triple measure of tears (Psalms 80:6); nor as Rabbi Akiva who expounded, Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, [and the sea, and the dry land] (Haggai 2:6): but the first dynasty [namely, the Hasmonean] shall last seventy years, the second [the Herodian], fifty two, and the reign of Bar Koziva two and a half years [the verses cited from Daniel, Psalms, and Haggai were interpreted so as to give a definite date for the advent of the Messiah. Rabbi Natan however, on the authority of Habakkuk 2:3, asserts that all such calculations are false. The three verses refer to the Hasmonean, Herodian, and Bar Koziba’s reign, but the advent of Messiah is unknowable (Rashi)].

What is meant by, [For the vision is yet for an appointed time,] וְיָפֵחַ (veyafe’aḥ)but it shall speak, at the end, and not lie (Habakkuk 2:3)?—Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan: תִּיפָּח (Tippaḥ), blasted, be the bones of those who calculate the end [cf. Rabbi Hillel Rivlin of Shklov in the name of the Gaon of Vilna, Qol ha-Tor 4:2]. For they would say, since the predetermined time has arrived, and yet he has not come, he will never come. But [even so], wait for him, as is written, Though he tarry, wait for him (ibid.). Should you say, ‘We look forward [to his coming] but He does not’: therefore Scripture says, And therefore will YHWH wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: [for YHWH is a God of justice] (Isaiah 30:18). But since we look forward to it, and He does likewise, what delays [his coming]?—the quality of Justice delays it [because we are not yet worthy]. But since the quality of Justice delays it, why do we await it?—to be rewarded [for hoping], as is written, blessed are all they that wait for Him (Isaiah 30:18)

Abbaye said: The world must contain not less than thirty-six righteous men in each generation who receive the Shekhinah’s countenance, as is written, Blessed are all they that wait for Him (Isaiah 30:18); לוֹ (lo), for Him, is numerically equivalent to thirty-six. But that is not so, for did not Rava say: The row [of righteous men immediately] before the blessed Holy One consists of eighteen thousand parasangs, as is written, eighteen thousand all around (Ezekiel 48:35)?—that is no difficulty: the former number [thirty-six] refers to those who see Him through a speculum that shines, the latter to those who contemplate him through speculum that does not shine [cf. BT Yevamot 49b; Zohar 1:33b, 49b, 183a; 2:23b]. But are there as many? Did not Ḥizkiyyah say in the name of Rabbi Yirmeyah on the authority of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai: I have seen the supernal sons, and they are but few; if there are a thousand, I and my son are included; if a hundred, I and my son are included; and if only two, they are myself and my son?—there is no difficulty: the former number [thirty-six] refers to those who enter [within to see the Shekhinah] with permission; the latter [uncertain number] to those who may enter without permission.

Rav said: All the ends [i.e., predestined dates for redemption] have passed, and the matter [now] depends only on repentance and good deeds. But Shemu’el said: it is sufficient for a mourner to keep his mourning [Israel’s sufferings in the exile in themselves sufficiently warrant their redemption, regardless of repentance]. This matter is disputed by Tanna’im: Rabbi Eli’ezer said: if Israel repent, they will be redeemed; if not, they will not be redeemed. Rabbi Yehoshu’a said to him, If they do not repent, will they not be redeemed! But the blessed Holy One will set up a king over them, whose decrees shall be as cruel as Haman’s, whereby Israel shall engage in repentance, and He will thus bring them back to the right path. Another [baraita] taught: Rabbi Eli’ezer said: if Israel repent, they will be redeemed, as is written, Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings (Jeremiah 3:22) [cf. Zohar 1:178a]. Rabbi Yehoshu’a said to him, But is it not written, You have sold yourselves for nothing; and you shall be redeemed without money (Isaiah 52:3)? You have sold yourselves for nothing—for idolatry; and you shall be redeemed without money—without repentance and good deeds. Rabbi Eli’ezer said to Rabbi Yehoshu’a, But is it not written, Return to Me, and I will return to you (Malachi 3:7). Rabbi Yehoshu’a said—but is it not written, [Turn, O backsliding children, says YHWH;] for I am Husband to you: and I will take you one from a city, and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion (Jeremiah 3:14)? Rabbi Eli’ezer replied, But it is written, In returning and rest shall you be saved (Isaiah 30:15). Rabbi Yehoshu’a replied, But is it not written, Thus says YHWH, Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship (ibid. 49:7). Rabbi Eli’ezer said, But is it not written, If you will return, O Israel, says YHWH, return to Me (Jeremiah 4:1)? Rabbi Yehoshu’a answered, But it is elsewhere written, [Until when is the wondrous end?] And I heard the man dressed in linen, who was over the water of the river, and he raised his right hand, and his left was toward the heavens, and he swore by the One who lives forever that at the appointed time of times and a half and at the end of the shattering of the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished (Daniel 12:7). At this Rabbi Eli’ezer remained silent.

Rabbi Abba also said: You have no more explicit [sign of] end than this, as is written, But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to My people of Israel; [for they are soon to come] (Ezekiel 36:8). Rabbi El’azar said: Than this too, as is written, For before these days there were no wages for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the strait: [for I set all men every one against his fellow] (Zechariah 8:10) [cf. Psalms 118:5].  What is, neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the strait?—Rav said: Even for disciples of the sages, concerning whom peace is written: Great well-being to the lovers of Your teaching (Psalms 119:165), ‘There will be no peace on account of the strait.’ Shemu’el said, ‘Until all הַשַׁעַרִים (ha-sha’arim), prices, are equal [(Rashi), cf. Maharsha who reads neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in (Zechariah 8:10), with he that enters in by the way of the north שַׁעַר (sha’ar), gate, to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate… he shall not return by the way of the gate by which he came in, but shall go out opposite it (Ezekiel 46:9)—until all gates are alike, i.e., all people, whether entering or leaving the Temple—an idiom denoting ‘without exception’—will suffer].’

Rabbi Ḥanina said: Son of David will not come until a fish is sought for an invalid and cannot be procured, as is written, Then will I make their waters deep, and cause their rivers to run like oil (Ezekiel 32:14), whilst it is written, in that day will I cause the horn of the house of Israel to spring forth (ibid. 29:21).

Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥanina said: Son of David will not come until even the הַזָלָה (hazalah), pettiest, kingdom ceases from Israel, as is written, [For before the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower,] He shall both cut off הַזַּלְזַלִּים (hazalzallim), the sprigs, with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches (Isaiah 18:5); and this is followed by, In that time shall a present be brought to YHWH of Armies from a people scattered and peeled (ibid., 7).

Ze’iri said in Rabbi Ḥanina’s name: Son of David will not come until there are no conceited men in Israel, as is written, For then I will take away out of the midst of you those that rejoice in your pride (Zephaniah 3:11), which is followed by, I will also leave in the midst of you a humble and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of YHWH (ibid., 12).

Rabbi Simlai said in the name of Rabbi El’azar, son of Rabbi Shim’on: Son of David will not come until all judges and officers are gone from Israel, as is written, And I will turn My hand upon you, and thoroughly purge away your dross and take away all your alloy: And I will restore your judges as at the first (Isaiah 1:25–26).

‘Ulla said: Jerusalem shall be redeemed only by צְּדָקָה (tsedaqah), charity, as is written, Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her converts with צְּדָקָה (tsedaqah), righteousness (ibid., 27).

Rav Papa said: When the haughty cease to exist [in Israel] the magi shall cease [among the Persians]; when the judges cease to exist [in Israel], the royal officers shall cease likewise. Now, ‘when the haughty cease to exist, the magi shall also cease,’ as is written, And I will turn My hand upon you, and thoroughly purge away your dross and take away all your alloy. ‘When the judges cease to exist, the royal officials shall cease likewise, as is written, YHWH has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy (Zephaniah 3:15).

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: When you see a generation ever dwindling, hope for him, as is written, A lowly people You rescue (2 Samuel 22:28). Rabbi Yoḥanan said: When you see a generation overwhelmed by many troubles as by a river, await him, as is written, When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of YHWH shall lift up a banner against him (Isaiah 59:19); which is followed by, And a Redeemer shall come to Zion (ibid., 20).

Rabbi Yoḥanan also said: Son of David will come only in a generation that is either altogether righteous or altogether wicked. ‘in a generation that is altogether righteous’— as is written, Your people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land forever (Isaiah 60:21).  ‘Or altogether wicked,’—as is written, And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor (ibid. 59:16); and it is [elsewhere] written, For My own sake, even for My own sake, will I do it (ibid. 48:11).

Rabbi Alexandri said: Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi pointed out a contradiction. It is written, In his time (Isaiah 60:22), whilst it is also written, I, YHWH, will hasten him (ibid.)— if they are worthy, I will hasten him: if not, In his time [cf. Zohar 1:116b]. Rabbi Alexandri said: Rabbi Yehoshu’a opposed two verses: it is written, And, look, with the clouds of the heavens one like a human being [was coming] (Daniel 7:13) whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [Look, your King comes to you…] lowly, and riding upon a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)—if they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven [i.e., swiftly (Rashi)]; if not, lowly, and riding upon a donkey. King Shapur said to Shemu’el, ‘You say Messiah will come upon a donkey: I will rather send him a white horse of mine’ [perhaps an overt invitation to the Jews to help Shapur in his struggle with the Romans]. He replied, ‘Do you have a multi-colored one?’

Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi met Elijah at the opening of the cave of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai. He asked him: ‘Have I 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 [the Shekhinah (Rashi)].’ He then asked him, ‘When will the Messiah come?’—‘Go and ask him himself,’ was his reply. ‘Where is he sitting?’—‘At the portal of the city [of Rome (Gra)].’ And by what sign may I recognize him?’—‘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,’ was his answer. On his returning to Elijah, he asked, ‘What did he say to you?’—‘Peace be upon you son of Levi,’ he answered. Thereupon he [Elijah] observed, ‘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.’ He [Elijah] answered him, ‘This is what he said to you, Today, if you would only heed His voice!’ (Psalms 95:7).

The disciples of Rabbi Yose son of Qisma asked him, ‘When will Messiah come?’—he answered, ‘I fear lest you demand a sign of me.’ They assured him, ‘We will demand no sign of you.’ So he answered them, ‘When this gate falls down, is rebuilt, falls again, and is again rebuilt, and then falls a third time, before it can be rebuilt Son of David will come’ [the gate of Caesarea Philippi, the home of Rabbi Yose. Its fall would be a symbol of the destruction of the Roman power by the Parthians]. They said to him, ‘Rabbi, give us a sign.’ He protested, ‘Did you not assure me that ye would not demand a sign?’ They replied, ‘Nevertheless.’ He said to them, ‘If so, let the waters of the cave of Paneas turn into blood;’ and they turned into blood. When he lay dying he said to them, ‘Place my coffin deep [in the earth], for there is not one palm-tree in Babylon to which a Persian horse will not be tethered, nor one coffin in the land of Israel out of which a Median horse will not eat straw’ [this was a forecast of the future. Babylon and the land of Israel would be overrun with Persians, Medes and Parthians and their horses would dig up the dead, whose coffins would serve as cribs].

Rav said: Son of David will not come until the [Roman] kingdom spreads over Israel for nine months, as is written, Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she who travails has brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return to the children of Israel (Micah 5:2).

‘Ulla said; Let him come, but let me not see him. Rabbah said likewise: Let him come, but let me not see him. Rav Yosef said: Let him come, and may I be worthy of sitting in the shadow of his donkey’s dung. Abbaye enquired of Rabbah: ‘What is your reason? Shall we say, because of the birth pangs of Messiah? But it has been taught, Rabbi El’azar’s disciples asked him: ‘What must a man do to be spared the pangs of the Messiah?’ ‘Let him engage in Torah and rendering kindness; and you Master do both.’ He replied: ‘Lest an offence cause it, in accordance with [the teaching of] Rabbi Ya’aqov son of Idi, who opposed [two verses:] And, look, I am with you and I will guard you wherever you go (Genesis 28:15): but it is written, And Jacob was greatly afraid, and he was distressed (ibid. 32:7)—he was afraid that offence might cause [the nullification of the promise]. Even as it was taught, Till Your people crossed over, O YHWH (Exodus 15:16). This refers to the first entry [into the land of Israel]; till the people you made Yours crossed over (ibid.)—their second entry. Hence you may reason: The Israelites were as worthy of a miracle being performed for them at the second entry as at the first, but that offence caused it [not to happen].

Rabbi Yoḥanan said likewise: Let him come, and let me not see him. Resh Laqish said to him: Why so? Shall we say, because it is written, As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him (Amos 5:19)? But come, and I will show you its like even in this world. When one goes out into the field and meets a bailiff, it is as though he had met a lion. When he enters the town, and is accosted by a tax-collector, it is as though he had met a bear. On entering his house and finding his sons and daughters in the throes of hunger, it is as though he were bitten by a serpent!—but it is because it is written, Ask you now, and see whether כָל גֶּבֶר (khal gever), every man, does travail with child? why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? (Jeremiah 30:6). What is see whether every man?—Rava son of Yitsḥaq said in Rav’s name: it refers to Him whom כֹּל גְבוּרָה (kol gevurah), all might, belongs. And what is the meaning of and all faces are turned into paleness?—Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The familia on high and the familia below [i.e., Israel,] when the blessed Holy One says, These [the Gentiles] are my handiwork, and so are these [the Jews]; how shall I destroy the former on account of the latter? Rav Papa said: Thus men say, ‘When the ox runs and falls, the horse is put into his stall’ [since the horse is made to replace it, but when the ox recovers, it is difficult to remove the horse. So the Israelites, having fallen, were replaced in power by the Gentiles: but on their recovery, it will be difficult to remove the Gentiles from their position without inflicting much suffering].

Rav Giddal said in Rav’s name: The Jews are destined to eat [their fill] in the years of Messiah. Rav Yosef said: is this not obvious; who else then should eat—Ḥillaq and Billaq? [i.e., shall these years of plenty be enjoyed indiscriminately by anyone?]—this was said in opposition to Rabbi Hillel, who maintained that there will be no Messiah for Israel, since they have already enjoyed him during the reign of Hezekiah.

Rav [Yehudah ha-Nasi, a descendant of David] said: The world was created only on David’s account. Shemu’el [of the tribe of Levi] said: On Moses’ account; Rabbi Yoḥanan said: For the sake of the Messiah. What is his name?—the House of Rabbi Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is written, until שִׁילֹה (Shiloh) comes (Genesis 49:10). The House of Rabbi Yannai said: His name is Yinnon for it is written, May his name be forever. As long as the sun may his name יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17) [cf. Bahir §61, §86]. The House of Rabbi Ḥaninah said: His name is Ḥaninah, as is written, [Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that you know not, neither you nor your fathers; and there shall you serve other gods day and night;where I will not show you חֲנִינָה (ḥaninah), favor (Jeremiah 16:13). Others say: His name is Menaḥem the son of Ḥizqiyah, for it is written, Because the מְנַחֵם (menaem), comforter, that would relieve my life is far from me (Lamentations 1:16) [cf. Abarbanel, Yeshu’ot Meshio, 2:3: the initial letters of these names are an acronym for מָשִׁיחַ (mashiaḥ), Messiah].

The Rabbis said: His name is חִיוְורָא (ḥivvra), White, of the House of Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi], as is written, Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our pains that he endured—though we considered him plagued, stricken by God and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4) [i.e., מְצוֹרָע (metsora), skin blanched one (Rashi), see Leviticus 13:45-6; BT Qiddushin 70a]. Rav Naḥman said: if he is of those living [to day], he might be one like myself, as is written, And their nobles shall be from themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them (Jeremiah 30:21) [this description fits Rav Naḥman, who, as the son-in-law of the Resh Galuta, enjoyed great power and prestige]. Rav said: if he is of the living, it would be our holy Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi]; if of the dead, it would have been Daniel the most beloved man. Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: The blessed Holy One will raise up another David for them, as is written, But they shall serve YHWH their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them (ibid., 9): not הַקִים (haqim), I raised up, but אָקִים (aqim), I will raise up, is said. Rav Papa said to Abbaye: But it is written, And my servant David shall be their נָשִׂיא (nasi), prince, for ever (Ezekiel 37:25) [and prince is a lower title than king!]—such as caesar and little caesar [i.e., the second David will be the king, and the former David will be his viceroy].

Rabbi Simlai expounded: What is meant by, Woe unto you that desire the day of YHWH! to what end is it for you? the day of YHWH is darkness, and not light (Amos 5:18)? This may be compared to a rooster and a bat who were hopefully waiting for the light [i.e., dawn]. The rooster said to the bat, ‘I look forward to the light, because I have sight; but of what use is the light to you?’

And thus a sectarian said to Rabbi Abbahu: ‘When will Messiah come?’ He replied, ‘When darkness covers those people.’ ‘You curse me?’ he said. He replied, ‘It is but a verse: For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but YHWH shall arise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you (Isaiah 60:2).

It has been taught: Rabbi Eli’ezer said: The days of the Messiah will last forty years, as is written, Forty years I loathed a generation (Psalms 95:10). Rabbi El’azar son Azariyah said: Seventy years, as is written, And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: [after the end of seventy years it shall happen to Tyre as in the song of a whore] (Isaiah 23:15). Now, who is the one king? Messiah, of course. Rabbi said: Three generations; for it is written, May they fear You as long as the sun and as long as the moon, generations untold (Psalms 72:5).

Rabbi Hillel [a brother of Yehudah II] said: There shall be no Messiah for Israel, because they already consumed him in the days of Hezekiah. Rav Yosef said: May the Master forgive him. Now, when did Hezekiah flourish? During the First Temple. Yet Zechariah, prophesying in the days of the Second Temple, proclaimed, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes to you: he is just, and having rescue; lowly, and riding upon a donkey, and upon a colt the foal of a donkey (Zechariah (9:9).

Another [baraita] taught: Rabbi Eli’ezer said: The days of Messiah will be forty years, as is written, And He afflicted you and made you hunger and fed you the manna (Deuteronomy 8:3); whilst elsewhere it is written, Give us joy as the days You afflicted us (Psalms 90:15). Rav Dosa said: Four hundred years. It is here written, Enslaved and afflicted four hundred years (Genesis 15:13); whilst elsewhere it is written, Give us joy as the days You afflicted us. Rabbi said: Three hundred and sixty-five years, even as the days of the solar year, as is written, For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come (Isaiah 63:4). What is the day of vengeance is in My heart?—Rabbi Yoḥanan said: I have [so to speak] revealed it to My heart, but not to My limbs. Avimi son of Rabbi Abbahu learned: The days of the Messiah for Israel will be seven thousand years, as is written, As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (Isaiah 62:5) [the bridegroom’s rejoicing is seven days, and God’s day is a thousand years. Cf. Psalms 90:4: For a thousand years in Your eyes as like yesterday gone]. Rav Yehudah said in Shemu’el’s name: The days of Messiah shall endure as long as from the creation of the world until now, as is written, [So that your days be many, and the days of your sons, on the soil that YHWH swore to your fathers to give them,] as the days of the heavens over the earth (Deuteronomy 11:21). Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq said: As long as from Noah’s days until our own, as is written, For this is as the waters of Noah unto Me: for as I have sworn [that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you] (Isaiah 54:9).

Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Abba said in Rabbi Yoḥanan’s name: All the prophets prophesied [all the good things] only in respect of the days of Messiah; but as for the world that is coming [For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear,] neither has the eye seen, O God, besides You, what He has prepared for him that waits for Him (Isaiah 64:3). Now, he disagrees with Shemu’el, who said: This world differs from the days of Messiah only in servitude to [foreign] kingdoms” (BT Sanhedrin 96b–99a).

“Rabbi El’azar son of Rabbi Avina said: When you see the powers fighting each other, look for the footsteps of the King Messiah. The proof is that in the days of Abraham, because these powers fought against each other, greatness came to Abraham” (Bereshit Rabbah 42:4).

“Rabbi Yannai said: If you see one generation after another cursing [those engaged in Torah and mitsvot] and blaspheming [saying ‘Since the predetermined time has arrived, and yet he has not come, he will never come’ (BT Sanhedrin 97b)], look out for the coming of the Messiah, as it says, Your enemies reviled Your anointed one’s עִקְּבוֹת (iqqvot), steps (Psalms 89:52)” (Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 2:13, 4).

“In the עִקְּבוֹת מְשִׁיחָא (iqqvot meshiḥa), heels of Messiah, impudence [or: brazenness] will increase; prices will rise; grapes will be abundant but wine will be costly; the government will turn into heresy; and there will be no reproach. The meeting place [of scholars] will become a bordello; the Galilee will be destroyed; the highland will lie desolate; the border people will wander from city to city and none will show them compassion; the wisdom of scribes will stink; sin‑fearing people will be detested; truth will be missing; young men will humiliate the elderly; the elderly will stand while the young sit; sons will revile their fathers; daughters will strike their mothers, brides will strike their mothers‑in‑law; and a man’s enemies will take over his house. The face of the generation is like the face of a dog! Sons have no shame in front of their fathers; and on whom can one depend? Only upon our Father in Heaven” (BT Sotah 49b)—like the dead skin of a ticklish heel, so too our generation is insensitive to suffering while the most frivolous matters delight us, cf. BT Shabbat 13b: “The dead flesh in a living person does not feel the scalpel.”

“Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai recounts: Rabbi Akiva would expound דָּרַךְ כּוֹכָב (darakh kokhav), a star steps forth, out of Jacob (Numbers 24:17): דָּרַךְ בָּר כּוֹכבָא (darakh Bar Kokhva), Bar Kokhba steps forth, out of Jacob. When Akiva would see this בַּר כָּזָב (bar kazav), son of a lie, he would say: ‘This is the King Messiah.’ Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Torta would tell him: ‘Akiva, grass shall grow from your jaws before he will appear’” (JT Ta’anit 4:8, 68d).

“About Israel, it is written, And they mingled with the nations and learned their deeds (Psalms 106:35)—until they are trampled under their feet in the exile, they can not be sorted out from them. About them, David of blessed memory said, Why should I fear in evil days, when crime comes round me at עֲקֵבַי (aqevai), my heels? (Psalms 49:6). About them Solomon said, Loveliest of women, if you lose your way, follow in the עִקְבֵי (iqvei), tracks, of the sheep (Song of Songs 1:8)—of יַעֲקֹב (Ya’aqov), Jacob. About him is written concerning the primordial serpent who seduced Eve, He will boot your head and you will bite his עָקֵב (aqev)heel (Genesis 3:15). [But] after leaving exile, they are compared to apples and all matters of fragrance, as when they departed Egypt, as it says, Under the apple tree I awakened you (Song of Songs 8:5)” (Zohar 2:120b, Ra’aya Meheimna Mishpatim).

Little by Little

IMG_1037The path of the righteous is like light’s radiance, ever brighter till day has come. The way of the wicked is like darkness. They know not on what they stumble (Proverbs 4:18).

“Yehoshua son of Levi asked: ‘What is the meaning of: And this is the teaching which Moses שָׂם (sam), set, before the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:44)?’—If he is meritorious it becomes for him סַם (sam), medicine, of life, if not, a סַם (sam), poison, of death” (BT Yoma 72b, cf. BT Ta’anit 7a).

If you find honey, eat just what you need, lest you have your fill of it and throw it up (Proverbs 25:16).

“What was the beginning of Rabbi Akiva? They say that he was forty years old and had not learned a thing. Once, he was standing at the mouth of a well. He said, ‘Who carved this stone?’ They said to him, ‘The water that drips on it every day.’ They said to him, ‘Akiva, did you not read Water wears away stones (Job 14:19)?’ Immediately Akiva reasoned, ‘Just as the soft sculpts the hard, all the more so words of Torah, which are as hard as iron, can penetrate my heart, which is but flesh and blood! Immediately he returned to learn Torah.

He then went together with his son and they appeared before an elementary teacher. Akiva said to him: ‘Master, teach me Torah.’ Akiva took one end of the tablet, and his son the other end of the tablet. The teacher wrote down the aleph bet for him and he learned it; aleph tav, and he learned it; the book of Leviticus, and he learned it. He went on studying until he learned the whole Torah. Then he went and appeared before Rabbi Eli’ezer and Rabbi Yehoshua. ‘My masters,’ he said to them, ‘reveal the justification of Mishnah to me.’ When they told him one halakhah he went off to be by himself. ‘This aleph,’ he wondered, ‘why was it written? This bet, why was it written? This thing, why was it said?’ He came back and asked them, and reduced them to silence…

Rabbi Tarfon said to him: ‘Akiva, of you it says the wellsprings of rivers he blocked. What was hidden he brought out to light (Job 28:11).’ What was hidden—from men, you Rabbi Akiva brought out to light” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, A6).

“Rabba expounded in the name of Rabbi Sehora who had it from Rabbi Huna: What is: Wealth can be less than הֶבֶל (hevel), mere breath, but who gathers bit by bit makes it grow (Proverbs 13:11)? If a man makes his Torah חֲבִילוֹת חֲבִילוֹת (ḥavilot ḥavilot), bundles of bundles, his learning decreases, and if he does not do so but gathers bit by bit he makes it grow. Rabba remarked: The Rabbis are well aware of this matter and yet disregard it. Rabbi Naḥman son of Yistḥaq said: I acted on this advice and my study remained with me” (BT Eruvin 54b, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 19a).

He said, ‘Let me go, for dawn has risen! (Genesis 32:27). Rabbi Yehudah opened, Who is this looking forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun…? (Song of Songs 6:10). This verse has been established and explained, but Who is this looking forth?—Israel, when the blessed Holy One will raise them, bringing them out of exile. He will then open for them a tiny crack of light, then another opening, wider, until the blessed Holy One opens for them supernal gates facing four directions of the world. So with all the blessed Holy One does for Israel and for the righteous among them—always so, never all at once. This can be compared to a person thrown into darkness, dwelling in darkness constantly. When they want to illumine him, they must open the light to him like the eye of a needle, then wider, always gradually, until he is illumined with all the light fittingly. Similarly with Israel, as is said: מְעַט מְעַט (m’at m’at), little by little, I will drive them out before you (Exodus 23:30). And so with one who is being cured: not all at once, but זְעֵיר זְעֵיר (ze’eir ze’eir), little by little, until he is fortified.

But with Esau, not so! Rather, he is illumined all at once and deprived little by little, until Israel are fortified and eliminate him entirely from this world and from the world that is coming. Since he blazed all at once, he is annihilated completely, whereas Israel’s light increases little by little until they are invigorated and the blessed Holy One illumines them forever. Everyone asks, Who is this looking forth like the dawn?—at first a subtle glow; then fair as the moon, then bright as the sun, then awesome as bannered hosts (Song of Songs, ibid.)—Beaming powerfully, intensely, fittingly” (Zohar 1:170a).

“Come and see! This is the way of Torah: At first, when she begins to reveal herself to a person, she beckons him momentarily with a hint. If he perceives, good; if not, she sends for him, calling him ‘simple’: ‘Tell that simple one to come closer, so I can talk with him.’ As is written: Whoever is simple, let him turn here, he who lacks understanding (Proverbs 9:4). As he approaches, she begins to speak with him from behind a curtain she has drawn, words suitable for him, until he reflects זְעֵיר זְעֵיר (ze’eir ze’eir), little by little. This is derasha [homiletical interpretation]. Then, she converses with him from behind a delicate sheet, words of riddle, and this is haggadah [allegorical tales].

Once he has grown accustomed to her, she reveals herself to him face-to-face, and tells him all her hidden secrets and all the hidden ways, concealed in her heart since primordial days. Then he is a complete man, husband of Torah, master of the house, for all her secrets she has revealed to him, concealing nothing” (Zohar 2:99a–b).

I will Hasten it in its Time

Brown_Turkey“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: ‘What is the meaning of He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit? (Proverbs 27:18). Why is the Torah compared to a fruit tree?’ Figs on a tree do not ripen all at once, but a little each day. Therefore, the longer one searches in the tree, the more figs he finds. So too with Torah: The more one studies, the more knowledge and wisdom one finds” (BT Eruvin 54a).

Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard (Genesis 9:20). Rabbi Yehudah and Rabbi Yose. One said, ‘It was banished from the Garden of Eden, and he planted it here.’ The other said, ‘It was in the earth and he uprooted it, then transplanted it. That same day it yielded fruit, blossoming into grapes; he squeezed them, drank of the wine and became drunk.’

Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘There is a mystery here in this verse. When he sought to probe the sin probed by Adamnot to cling but to know, to mend the worldhe was incapable. He squeezed grapes to probe that vineyard [Shekinah], but as soon as he arrived, he became drunk and exposed himself (ibid., 21), and was powerless to rise. So, he exposed himself, exposing the breach of the world that had been closed [when, after his sin, Adam returned to God]. Inside אָהֳלֹה (ahaloh), his tent (ibid.)spelled with a ה (he) [rather than the normal masculine possessive suffix ו (vav), thus we read]: Inside אֹהֱלָה (ohelah)her tent, the tent of that vineyard” (Zohar 1:73a).

I make you swear, O daughters of Jerusalem by the deer or the gazelles of the field, that you shall not rouse not stir love until it is ripe (Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5). For although Solomon in his great wisdom understood how to vocalize יהוה (YHWH), he swore in the name of all the holy people not to ponder it until the day God bestows compassion on His people and their land, and open before them the gates of light. And now the gates of wisdom have begun to open, and therefore, one may study and gain great wisdom” (Berit Menuḥa, The Second Way: The Way of Love, Ninth Vowel).

“In the six hundredth year of the sixth [millennium], springs of wisdom will open above, springs of wisdom below, and the whole world will prepare to enter the seventh [millennium], just like a person preparing on the sixth day, as the sun is about to set, to enter Sabbath. Your mnemonic: In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life… all the springs of the great abyss burst and the sluices of heaven were opened (Genesis 7:11)’… [Yet] the blessed Holy One makes everything depend upon returning—if they prove worthy or not—as that verse has been explained: I, YHWH, will hasten it in its time (Isaiah 60:22)—if they are worthy, I will hasten; if not, in its time [see BT Sanhedrin 98a]… Rabbi Shim’on said to them, ‘The blessed Holy One does not want this to be revealed openly to the world. But verging on the days of the Messiah, even children of the world are destined to find hidden treasures of wisdom, thereby discovering calculations of the end. At that time it will be revealed to all, as is written: For then (Zephaniah 3:9). What does then mean? When Assembly of Israel rises from the dust, raised by the blessed Holy One. Then I will transform the language of the peoples into a pure one, so they may all call upon the name of YHWH and serve Him shoulder to shoulder (ibid.)” (Zohar 1:116a–118b).

Acacia

0049744.002I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the cypress tree, and the pine, and the box tree together (Isaiah 41:19).

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth from the house of YHWH, and shall water the Valley of Acacias (Joel 4:18, cf. Ezekiel 47:1–12).

“Jacob our father planted at the time he descended to Egypt. He said, ‘My sons, eventually you will be redeemed from this place, and the blessed Holy One will say to you: ‘You will be redeemed,’ so that you may build a sanctuary for Him. Therefore, go plant acacia trees now so that when He commands you to erect a sanctuary for Him, beams of acacia will be available. Immediately they arose and planted as he had commanded them to do” (Tanḥuma 1:9, cf. Bereshit Rabbah 94:4; Ibn Ezra on Exodus 25:5).

For a tree has hope: though cut down, it can still be removed, and it’s shoots will not cease (Job 14:7).

This Doe has a Narrow Womb

ImageDo you observe the calving of does? (Job 39:1). This doe has a narrow womb. When she crouches to give birth, I prepare a serpent which bites the genitalia and she is loosened of her offspring. If it comes one second too soon or one second too late, she immediately dies” (BT Bava Batra 16b, cf. Zohar 2:111b; Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 43a).

At the tent flap sin crouches (Genesis 4:7). The serpent which bites the genitalia is the secret of ‘קַבֵּל רִנַּת עַמְּךָ שַׂגְּבֵנוּ טַהֲרֵנוּ נוֹרָא (Qabel rinnat Amekha saggvenu taharenu nora), accept Your people’s prayer. Strengthen us, purify us, You who are revered’ (Anna be-Khoaḥ)—קֶרַע שָׂטָן (qera satan), tear [of the] adversary” (Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital, Sefer ha-Liqqutim).

“נָחָשׁ (Naḥash), serpent, [שָׂטָן (satan), adversary,] and מָשִׁיחַ (Mashiaḥ), Messiah, are numerically equivalent” (Rabbi Yitsḥaq ben Ya’aqov ha-Kohen, Madda’ei ha-Yahadut, 2 [1927] 273, cf. Psalms 140:4: כְּמוֹ נָחָשׁ [kemo naḥash], like a serpent, and מָשִׁיחַ בֵּן דָּוִד [Mashiaḥ ben David], Messiah son of David, are numerically equivalent).

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘There is one אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), doe, on earth, and the blessed Holy One does so much for her. When she cries out, the blessed Holy One hearkens to her anguish. And when the world is in need of mercy, for water, she cries aloud and the blessed Holy One listens and then feels compassion for the world, as is written As a hind longs for streams of water (Psalms 42:2). When she needs to give birth, she is totally constricted; then she puts her head between her knees, crying out and screaming, and the blessed Holy One feels compassion for her and provides her with a serpent who bites her genitalia, opening and tearing that place, and immediately she gives birth.’ Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Concerning this matter, do not ask and do not test את יהוה (et YHWH)—so it is precisely!’” (Zohar 2:52b)

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).

“In the first month (Numbers 28:16). Rabbi Abba opened, ‘As a hart craves for streams of water, so my soul craves for You, O God (Psalms 42:2). This verse has been established. But it is written אַיָּל (ayyal), hart, and it is written אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), hind (Psalms 22:1); and all is one, for there is male and female. Even though there is male and female, this אַיָּל (ayyal), hart, is called ‘male’ and is called ‘female,’ as is written: כְּאַיָּל תַּעֲרֹג (ke-ayyal ta’arog), as a hart craves, and it is not written יַעֲרוֹג (ya’arog), [he] craves.

And it is written אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), the hind of, dawn (Psalms 22:1). What is the hind of dawn? Well, this is a certain compassionate animal, more compassionate than any in the world—for when She needs food, She goes afar on a distant journey and brings back food, and does not want to eat until She returns to her place. Why? So that the other animals may gather by Her and She can share that food with them. When She comes, all the other animals gather by Her, and She stands in the middle, distributing to each one [and the sign is in: She gets up while it is still night and provides nourishment for her house and a portion for her young women (Proverbs 31:15) (Sullam)]. By when She distributes, She is satisfied, as if She had eaten more than all [cf. BT Pesaḥim 112a, in the name of Rabbi Akiva: ‘More than the calf wants to suck, the cow wants to suckle’].

When does She distribute to them? When morning is about to come—while it is still night, and darkness lifts, lightening [as is written: She gets up while it is still night and provides nourishment for her house (Proverbs 31:15)]. Once morning shines, they are all sated with Her food.

Then a voice is aroused in the middle of the sky, proclaiming aloud: ‘You who are near, enter your places; you who are far, depart! Let each one be gathered to his appropriate place.’

As soon as the sun shines, each one is gathered to his place, as is written: When the sun rises, they gather [and in their dens they crouch] (Psalms 104:22). She goes in the day, is revealed at night, and distributes in the morning; so She is called אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), the hind of, dawn. Afterward, She is invigorated like a warrior and goes—and is called אַיָּל (ayyal), a hart.

Where does She go? She goes sixty phrasings from the place that She left, and enters the Mountains of Darkness, where She catches the scent of food. She proceeds into that Mountain of Darkness, and a certain tortuous serpent catches the scent of Her foot and follows Her; and She climbs from there toward the Mountain of Light. Once She arrives there, the blessed Holy One summons for Her another serpent, who emerges and attacks the other one, and She is saved. From there She takes food, and returns to Her place at midnight, She begins to distribute until the darkness of morning lifts. Once the day dawns, She goes and is no longer seen, as has been said.

When the world needs rain, all the other animals gather toward Her, and She ascends to the top of a high mountain, and, wrapping Her head between Her knees, She lets out one low after another. And the blessed Holy One hears Her voice, and is filled with mercy, and takes pity on the world. She descends from the top of the mountain, and runs and hides Herself, and all the other animals run after Her, but do not find Her—as is written: As a hart craves for streams of water. What is meant by for streams of water? For those that have dried up, and the world is thirsting for water; so she craves.

When She is pregnant, She is stopped up. When the time comes for Her to give birth, She lows and cries out, cry after cry—up to seventy cries, equaling the number of words in May YHWH answer you on the day of distress (Psalms 20:2), which is the song for a pregnant woman. The blessed Holy One hears Her and is ready for Her: He brings forth a great serpent from the Mountains of Darkness, and it comes through the mountains, its mouth licking the dust. It reaches this hart and comes and bites Her twice in that place [cf. BT Gittin 69b].

The first time, blood comes out, and it licks it up. The second time, water comes out, and all those animals of the mountains drink, and She is opened and gives birth. Your mnemonic is: He struck the rock with his staff twice: and it is written and the community, with its beasts, drank (Numbers 20:11, cf. Shemot Rabbah 3:13).

At the moment when the blessed Holy One takes pity on Her—through the act of this serpent—what is written? The voice o YHWH brings on the birth pangs of hinds… (Psalms 29:9). The voice of YHWH brings on the birth pangs of hinds—those pangs and pains, arousing those seventy cries. Immediately, and strips the forests bare (ibid.)—to remove that serpent, exposing it among them to go away” (Zohar 3:249a–b, cf. ibid. 2:219b–220a; 3:68b [RM]).

“One might suggest that after seventy [years] She will feel [birth-pangs], and in two years She will give birth one thousand and two hundred years after [the destruction of the Second Temple, that is to say, after the end of the Fifth Millennium, which is all destruction, and a further two hundred years into the Sixth Millennium, and seventy years for the birth-pangs, and two years for the birth itself] coming to the year 272 [of the Sixth Millennium]. But it is written: Before she travailed, she brought forth; [before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child] (Isaiah 66:7). And the secret of the matter is contained in the verse: And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear (Isaiah 65:24). And what is the meaning of before? Before the completion of the seventy years and the two years following the passing of one thousand and two hundred years, the birth-pangs, two Messiahs will be revealed to the world. And at that time: And in His palace all says glory (Psalms 29:9). And it has already been taught: The wise inherit כָּבוֹד (kavod)glory (Proverbs 3:35).

And at that time, those Torah sages will be respected, those who suffered pangs and travails as a woman in labor, and who were despised by the ignorant; they will be honored. And immediately: YHWH was enthroned at the flood (Psalms 29:10) on account of the wicked. Flood—judgments of the flood, when All the wellsprings of the great deep burst [and the casements of the heavens were opened] (Genesis 7:11), at the time of the flood. So, too, judgments will rise over them above and below, with no end. And every contempt and disgrace shown by the idolatrous nations of the world towards YHWH and His people and the many insults that Israel suffered from them for the sake of YHWH’s Name—for all of them the blessed Holy One will exact vengeance, and therefore, as far as they are concerned, [God is jealous, and YHWH avenges;YHWH avenges, and is furious; [YHWH will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies] (Nahum 1:2).

In the first month (Numbers 28:16). What is the first month? It is Nisan, which is when that animal gave birth, in accord with the teaching of the Masters of Mishnah: ‘In the month of Nisan they were redeemed, and in the month of Nisan they will be redeemed'[נִיסָן (Nisan) is the month of נִסִים (nisim), miracles] (BT Rosh ha-Shanah 11a). And this is with His יָד (yad), hand [which is numerically equivalent to fourteen, according to the secret of the verse:] And he said, ‘For יָד (yad), hand, upon Yah’s throne: [War for YHWH against Amalek from all time] (Exodus 17:16), when He swore to remove the seed of Esau, Amalek, from the world. At that time: Draw out and take yourselves sheep according to your clans and slaughter the Passover offering (Exodus 12:21), [where the meaning of] מִשְׁכוּ (mishkhu)draw out, is as in the verse: מָשַׁךְ יָדוֹ (mashak yado)he stretched out his hand, with scoffers (Hosea 7:5).

At that time, thus said YHWH: ‘To the rulers who transgressed against Me: neither shall they enter into the land of Israel (Ezekiel 13:9)—the shepherds of the flock, the supporters of the generation. Wherefore it is said about them: Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably to her (Hosea 2:16). And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I enter into judgment with you face to face. Like I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I enter into judgment with you, says YHWH God (Ezekiel 20:35–36), [namely] whom He killed in the plague of darkness” (Zohar 3:249a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineas).

“A voice issued… O low, sleeping ones, closed-eyed, awake! Who among you turns darkness into light, bitter into sweet before arriving here? Who among you awaits each day the light that shines when the King visits the doe and is glorified…? Whoever does not await this each day… has no portion here” (Zohar 1:4a).

“Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] says: The rising column of the moon is different from that of the sun. The light column of the moon rises straight like a stick, the light column of the sun [the dawn] irradiates in all directions… Just as the antlers of the doe branch off this way and that way, so the light of the dawn is scattered in all directions—Rabbi Zera said: Why was Esther compared to a אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), doe [BT Megillah 15b]? To tell you that just as a doe has a narrow womb and is desirable to her mate at all times as at the first time, so was Esther precious to King Ahasuerus at all times as at the first time. Rabbi Assi said: Why was Esther compared to the dawn [see BT Eruvin 54b]? To tell you that just as the dawn is the end of the whole night, so is the story of Esther the end of all the miracles. But there is Ḥanukkah?—we refer to those included in Scripture” (BT Yoma 28b–29b).