The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: זִוּוּג

Enjoyment & Pleasure: It is Torah and I Must Learn It

“Three things are a glimpse of the world to come: שַׁבָּת שֶׁמֶשׁ וְתַשְׁמִישׁ (Shabbat shemesh ve-tashmish), Sabbath, sun, and ‘service‘” (BT Berakhot 57b).

“Rabbi Ḥizqiyah said in the name of Rav: Man will one day give reckoning for everything his eye saw which, although permissible, he did not enjoy” (JT Qiddushin 4:12, 66d).

“Rav Kahana entered and lay down beneath the bed of Rav [Abba]. He heard that he was talking and laughing and having sexual intercourse. He said, ‘The mouth of Abba appears as if he never tasted this dish.’ He said to him, ‘Qahana, get out; this is not proper behavior!’ He said to him, ‘It is Torah, and I must learn it” (BT Ḥagigah 5b).

Shekhinah abides neither through gloom nor laziness nor frivolity nor levity nor talk nor idle chatter [or: vain pursuits], but only through the joy of mitsvah” (BT Shabbat 30b, cf. Zohar 1:50a).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Dahavai said: The ministering angels told me four things: People are born lame because they overturned their table; dumb, because they kiss ‘that place;’ deaf, because they converse during cohabitation; blind, because they look at ‘that place.’ But this contradicts the following: Imma Shalom [wife of Rabbi Eli’ezer son of Hyrkanos, and sister to Rabban Gamaliel of Yavneh] was asked: Why are your children so exceedingly beautiful? She replied: [Because my husband]  ‘converses’ with me neither at the beginning nor at the end of the night, but at midnight; and when he ‘converses,’ he uncovers a hand breadth and covers a hand breadth, and is as though he were compelled by a שֵׁד (shed), demon [alt., שָׁד (shad), breast]. And when I asked him, What is the reason for this, he replied, ‘So that I may not think of another woman, lest my children be as bastards’—there is no difficulty: this refers to conjugal matters; the other refers to other matters.

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The above is the view of Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Dehavai; but our Sages said: The Halakhah is not as Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Dehavai, but a man may do whatever he pleases with his wife [with her consent]: A parable; Meat which comes from the butcher, may be eaten salted, roasted, cooked or boiled; so with fish from the fishmonger. Amemar said: Who are the ‘ministering angels?’ The Rabbis. For should you maintain it literally, why did Rabbi Yoḥanan say that the Halakhah is not as Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Dehavai, seeing that the angels know more about the formation of the fetus than we? And why are they designated ‘ministering angels?’—because they are as distinguished as they.

A woman once came before Rabbi and said, ‘Rabbi! I set a table before my husband, but he overturned it.’ Rabbi replied: ‘My daughter! Torah has permitted you to him—what then can I do for you?’ A woman once came before Rav and complained. ‘Rabbi! I set a table before my husband, but he overturned it.’ Rav replied; Wherein does it differ from a fish?

And you shall not stray after your own heart (Numbers 15:39). [Deducing] from this Rabbi taught: One may not drink out of one goblet and think of another. Ravina said: This is necessary only when both are his wives” (BT Nedarim 20a–b).

She Reveals Herself to No One but Her Lover

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“A bride who lives in the house of her father. So long as her eyes are beautiful her body needs no examination” (BT Ta’anit 24a).

She says: We are a bride adorned and crowned, and all the mitsvot are included within [us]. She is Treasury of the Torah and the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, as is written, ‘Torah did Moses charge us, a heritage for Jacob’s assembly! (Deuteronomy 33:4). Do not read מוֹרָשָׁה (morashah), a heritage, but rather מְאוֹרָסָה (me’orasah), the betrothed‘ (BT Berakhot 57a; Pesaḥim 49b) [cf. M Avot 2:17; Bemidbar Rabbah 8:2]. How is this so? When the people of Israel study Torah for her own sake, then she is the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, then she is the heritage of Israel. How is this so? When Israel engages in Torah for Her own sake, then She is the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, then She is the heritage of Israel” (Bahir §196).

“Who is a beautiful maiden without eyes, her body concealed and revealed, she emerges in the morning and is concealed by day, adorning herself with adornments which are not?… Torah [who] emerges from her sheath, is seen for a moment, then quickly hides away—certainly so, but when she reveals herself from her sheath and quickly hides, she does so only for those who know her and recognize her. This may be compared to a beloved, beautiful in form and appearance, concealed secretly in her palace. She has a single lover unknown to anyone—except to her, concealedly. Out of the love that he feels for her, this lover passes by her gate constantly, lifting his eyes to every side. Knowing that her lover hovers about her gate constantly, what does she do? She opens a little window in her hidden palace, revealing her face to her lover, then swiftly withdraws, concealing herself. No one near him sees or reflects, only the lover, and his heart and his soul and everything within him flow out to her. He knows that out of love for him she revealed herself for that one moment to awaken love in him. So it is with a word of Torah: she reveals herself to no one but her lover” (Zohar 2:94b–95a, 99a, cf. Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 4b; Rabbi Moshe de Léon, Sheqel ha-Qodesh 113).

“He מְסַפֵּר (mesaper), ‘relates,’ with me neither at the beginning nor at the end of the night, but at midnight; and when he ‘converses,’ he uncovers a hand breadth and covers a hand breadth, and is as though he were compelled by a שֵׁד (shed), demon [alt., שָׁד (shad), breast]” (BT Nedarim 20b).