The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: זֶרַע

Threads of the Mind: Any Time that You Make Your Way Through them Peace will be Upon You

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Yah YHWH of Armies, God of Israel, Living God, El Shaddai. Lofty and high One, who dwells forever and holy His Name (Isaiah 57:15) engraved thirty-two wondrous paths with wisdom. He created His world with three סֶפָרִים (sefarim), ciphers: בְסֶפֶר וּסְפָר וְסִפֻּר (ve-sefer u-sefar we-sipur), with a scroll, and a count, and a recounting” (Sefer Yetsirah §1).

“What are these thirty-two [wondrous paths of wisdom]?… A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king ‘[residing] within the innermost chambers’ (BT Berakhot 10a), thirty-two in all. Now, each of the chambers has a path. Is it fitting for this king that everyone enter his chambers by way of his paths? You would say: No. Is it fitting for him not to display his pearls, his hidden treasures, his precious objects, and his filigree? You would say: No. What then does he do? He must touch the daughter, and include all the paths in her and in her garments. Whoever wishes to enter, let him look here” (Bahir §63).

“What is the reason that we [tie] blue wool in the tsitsit? And what is the reason there are thirty-two threads? A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king had a lovely garden with thirty-two paths. He placed a guard over them and made those paths known to him alone, saying to him, ‘Guard them and go on them each day, and any time that you make your way through them peace [will be upon] you.What did the guard do? He said, ‘If I am alone on these paths is it possible for one guard to maintain [all of] these paths? And what’s more, the world will say, “כִּי לוֹ (Ki lo), since [these paths are] his, he [must be] king of this [garden], and he guards this [garden] [alt., And what’s more, the world will say this king is כִּילַי (kilai), a churl, and he guards this (garden)].”’ Therefore, this guard put other guards over the paths—thirty-two paths.

And what is the reason for the blue? The guard said, ‘Perhaps these [other] guards will say the garden belongs to me.’ He gave them a sign and said to them, ‘See, this is the king’s sign, that this garden belongs to him. And these are the paths he maintains, they are not mine [see Heikhalot Rabbati §§244–45]. And, look: His seal.’ A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king and his daughter had servants. They sought to go to a faraway land [but] they were terrified by the king’s dread (Proverbs 20:2). The king gave them his sign [of goodwill]. They were terrified of the daughter and she gave them a sign. She said, ‘From now on, with these two signs YHWH guards you from all harm, He guards your life (Psalms 121:7)’” (Bahir §§92–93).

“What is the earth from which the heavens were hewn? The Throne of the blessed Holy One. It is the אֶבֶן יְקָרָה (even yeqarah), precious Stone, and the sea of Wisdom, corresponding to the blue in the tsitsit. Rabbi Me’ir thus said: Why is blue chosen above all other colours? [‘Whoever fulfills the mitsvah of tsitsit is as though he greeted the face of Shekhinah,] for the blue resembles the sea, and the sea resembles the vault of the heavens, and the vault of the heavens resembles the Throne of Glory’ (Sifrei, Numbers 115) [cf. BT Menaḥot 43b: ‘(Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai taught:) Whoever is diligent with this mitsvah merits receiving the face of Shekhinah’]. Therefore it is written And they saw the God of Israel, and beneath His feet was like a fashioning of סַפִּיר (sappir), [blue] sapphire, pavement and like the very heavens for pureness (Exodus 24:10). It is furthermore written [And above the firmament that was over their heads was] the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of אֶבֶן סַפִּיר (even sappir), a [blue] sapphire stone: [and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it] (Ezekiel 1:26)” (Bahir §96).

Ḥokhmah—expanding in thirty-two directions and issuing from the Concealed Brain, from the radiance within. That which the Holy Ancient One shines into Ḥokhmah is the beginning of what is revealed. It becomes three heads, with one head encompassing them. These three expand in Ze’eir Anpin, and from these all shine” (Zohar 3:289b, Idra Zuta).

“חוּטֵי הַשֵּׂכֶל (Ḥutei ha-sekhel), threads of the mind [i.e., tsitsit], spread from the blessed Holy One, each one emanating to watch over Israel” (Berit Menuḥa: Sixth Way, Way of the Intellect, cf. BT Menaḥot 43b).

“And what [purpose does] ן (nun) [in אֹזֶן (ozen), ear, serve]? To teach you that the brain is the root of the חוּט הַשִׁדרָה (ḥut ha-shidrah), spinal cord, and from there it drinks תָּמִיד (tamid), perpetually (Exodus 27:20; Leviticus 24:2). If not for the spinal cord, the brain would not exist, for the entire trunk is for the sake of the brain, and if the entire trunk were not to exist, the brain would not exist. The spinal cord is the channel from the brain to the entire body, and this is the bent נ (nun). But this ן (nun) [in אֹזֶן (ozen), ear] is long. The long nun always comes at the end of a word to teach you that the long nun comprises the bent and the long, but the bent is the foundation. This teaches you that the long nun comprises male and female” (Bahir §83).

“[Of the ten sefirot] seventh is east of the world, whence comes the seed of Israel. For the spinal cord draws from the brain of man and reaches to the ‘middle finger’ whence comes seed [i.e., the phallus], as is written, From מִזְרָח (mizraḥ), the east, I will bring זַרְעֶךָ (zarekha)your seed (Isaiah 43:5) [cf. Bahir §73, §155, §159; BT Bava Batra 25a: ‘Rabbi Abbahu said, Shekhinah (receives) in the west’]. When Israel is good before the Omnipresent: I will bring your seed and you will have new seed. But when Israel is bad, the seed is from that which has already come into the world, as is written: A generation goes and a generation comes (Ecclesiastes 1:4)—teaching it has already come” (Bahir §155).

Wisdoms cry aloud outside, in the squares she lifts her voice (Proverbs 1:20)? This verse is difficult: first it is written Wisdoms cry aloud outside, and then, in the squares she lifts her voice—its beginning does not match the end, nor its end the beginning! However, Wisdoms cry out in the the streets—when it flows from the concealed brain of Arikh Anpin to the brain of Ze’eir Anpin through those strands, it is as if two brains join outside, becoming one brain. And when there is flow from one to the other, it is written she lifts her voice—in the singular.

Because of the flow from brain to brain through those strands, they are not coarse. Why? Because if they were coarse, nothing could flow through them to the brain. Thus, no wisdom emerges from a person who is coarse and angry, as is written: Words of the wise said gently are heard (Ecclesiastes 9:17). From here we learn that if the hair on a person’s head is coarse, wisdom does not settle within him [see BT Pesaḥim 66b: ‘Regarding any person who becomes angry, if he is a sage, his wisdom departs from him; if he is a prophet, his prophecy departs from him’].

Consequently, they are long, to bring benefit to all. What is meant by ‘all’? To enter חוּטָא דְּשִׁדְרָה (ḥuta de-shidrah), the spinal cord, which drinks from the brain. Therefore the hair of the head does not overhang the hair of the beard; for the hair of the head hangs and rises over the ears, behind, not overhanging the beard, because one must not mingle with the other, since each branches out on its own path” (Zohar 3:131b, Idra Rabba).

Come My Lover, Let Us Go Out to the Field

“Rabbi Yose [son of Beivah] said: The blessed Holy One appears to peoples of the world only in the hour when people generally take leave of each other, as it says, And to me came a word in secret… in musings from nighttime’s visions when slumber falls upon men (Job 4:12). Rabbi El’azar son of Menaḥem said: YHWH is far from the wicked (Proverbs 15:29)—the prophets of other nations; but the prayer of the righteous He hears (ibid.)—the prophets of Israel. And Elohim appears to the nations only like one who comes from afar, as you read, They have come from a far country unto me (Isaiah 39:3). But in connection with the prophets of Israel we read [And YHWH] appeared to him (Genesis 18:1), And He called (Leviticus 1:1)—implying, from the immediate vicinity.

What is the difference between the prophets of Israel and the prophets of other nations? Rabbi Ḥanina [son of Papa] said: A parable: A king was with his friend in a chamber but separated by a curtain; whenever he desired to speak to his friend, he folded up the curtain and spoke with him. However, He speaks to the prophets of other nations without folding the curtain back, rather from behind it. The Rabbis compared it to a king who has a wife and a concubine; to his wife he goes openly, but to his slavegirl he goes in stealth [cf. Ecclesiastes 2:7]. Similarly, the blessed Holy One appears to the nations only at night, as it says, And Elohim came to Balaam in the night (Numbers 22:20); And Elohim came to Laban the Aramean in a night-dream (Genesis 31:24); And Elohim came to Abimelech in a night-dream (ibid. 20:3)” (Bereshit Rabbah 52:3, cf. Tiqqunei Zohar 11b).

“Rabbi Abba son of Qahana opened, רִגְזוּ (Rigzu), quake, and do not offend (Psalms 4:5). David said to the blessed Holy One ‘How long will מִתְרַגְּזִים (mitraggezim), they rage against, me and say, Is he not of tainted descent? Is he not a descendant of Ruth the Moabite? Speak in your hearts on your beds (ibid.). You also, are you not descended from two sisters [namely, Rachel and Leah who married the same man]? Look upon your own genealogy and be still (ibid.). And Tamar who married your ancestor Judah—is it not a tainted descent? She was but a descendant of Shem the son of Noah [who married his sister, see Jubilees 4:11]. Do you then have an honorable descent?’…

Rav Huna said: It is written, ‘God has granted me other seed’ (Genesis 4:25)—seed from another place, referring to the Messiah.

Rabbi Berekhiah and Rabbi Shim’on said: We may illustrate with a parable: A king who was travelling from one place to another, when a precious pearl fell from his head. So the king and all his retinue stopped there. All the passers-by asked, ‘What are the king and his retinue doing here?’ They discerned the reason and said, ‘A pearl has fallen from his head.’ What did he do? He gathered all the soil into heaps and brought brooms [alt., sieves]. He had one heap swept, but did not find it; a second heap, and he did not find it; but in the third, he found it, and they announced ‘The king has found his pearl!’ So the blessed Holy One said to Abraham, Go forth (Genesis 12:1). It was to you that I looked forward. What need had I to record the lineage of Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, and Terah (1 Chronicles 1:24–26)? Only on account of you, Abram; the same is Abraham (ibid.); And found his heart faithful before You (Nehemiah 9:8). So said the blessed Holy One to David, ‘What need had I to record the lineage of Perez, Hezron, Ram, Aminadab, Nahshon, Salmah, Boaz, Obed, and Jesse? Only on account of you; I found David My servant (Psalms 89:21)” (Rut Rabbah 8a, cf. Bereshit Rabbah 23:5, 51:8).

“The Messiah, what is his name?… 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)” (BT Sanhedrin 98b).

“The name of Messiah was contemplated [before the creation of the world], as is written, As long as the sun may his name יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17)” (Bereshit Rabbah 1:4).

“They asked [Rabbi Berekhiah], ‘What is the letter צ (tsadi)?’ He said: יוֹ״ד (yod) נוּן (nun); tsadi—coupling of yod nun. As is written, צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq), the Righteous One, is a lasting foundation (Proverbs 10:25)” (Bahir §61).

“Why should the נ (nun) have two forms, bent and long? Because it is written, As long as the sun may his name יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17)—from נוּניִן (nunin), two nuns, the bent נ (nun) and the long ן (nun), and [the Messiah] must be [conceived] through a man and a woman” (Bahir §86).

“They asked [Rabbi Berekhiah]: And he took him to the Lookouts’ field [… and YHWH chanced upon Balaam and put a word in his mouth(Numbers 23:14–16). What is Lookouts’ field? As is written, Come my lover, let us go out to the field, [spend the night in the henna. There will I give my love to you] (Song of Songs 7:12). Do not read הַשָּׂדֶה (ha-sadeh), the field, but הַשִׁדָּה (ha-shiddah), the concubine [see Ecclesiastes 2:8]. And why the concubine? The blessed Holy One’s Heart said to Him, ‘Come my lover, let us go out to the concubine for a stroll and not always lie in one place.’

And what is His Heart? He said to him: If Son of Zoma is outside you are with him [see BT Ḥagigah 14b–16a]! The לֵב (lev) Heart, is ל״ב (thirty-two). These are sealed and with them the world was created [i.e., with the thirty-two iterations of אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) in the Account of Creation (Genesis 1), see Zohar 3:82b, 256b–257a (all RM), cf. Zohar 2:123a]. What are these thirty-two? He said: These are thirty-two paths [see Sefer Yetsirah §§1–2].

A parable: a king residing within the innermost chambers, thirty-two in all, each with its own path. Now, is it fitting for this king that everyone enter his chambers by his paths? Certainly not! But is it fitting for him not to display his pearls, his brocades, his hidden treasures, and his precious objects? Certainly not! What did he do? He designated [lit., נֶגַע (nega), touched] the daughter and included all the paths in her and in her garments. Whoever wishes to enter, let him gaze here! He married her to a king, and also gave her to him as a gift. Because of his love for her, he sometimes calls her ‘My sister,’ since they come from a single place. Sometimes he calls her ‘My daughter,’ for she is his daughter; and sometimes he calls her ‘My mother’ [cf. Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah on 3:11]” (Bahir §§62–63).

“[Rabbi Yose] opened, saying, ‘The abundance of the earth is in all, a king for a cultivated field (Ecclesiastes 5:8). The abundance of the earth is in all, indeed, since from there issue spirits, souls, and benefit for the world. A king for a cultivated field. Who is a king? The blessed Holy One. For a cultivated field—when properly tilled. A king—Supernal King, who unites with the field when it is cultivated. Who is the field? The field blessed by YHWH, as is written: like the fragrance of a field blessed by YHWH (Genesis 27:27), for when it is completely cultivated and tilled, the Supernal King unites with it.’

Rabbi El’azar said, ‘A king for a cultivated field. How many nuances of supernal mystery are embedded here! A kingShekhinah, who does not inhabit a house, establishing Herself there, unless a man is married, coupling with her to engender and yield fruit. Then She generates souls to dwell therein. So, לְשָׂדֶה נֶעֱבָד (le-sadeh ne-evad), for a cultivated field, for none other.

Alternatively, A king—a woman in awe of YHWH, as is written: A woman in awe of YHWH is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30).

Le-sadeh ne-evadEnslaved to a field—a strange woman, as is said: to protect you from a strange woman (Proverbs 7:5). For there is a field, and then, there is a field! There is a field planted with all kinds of blessing and holiness, as is written: like the fragrance of a field blessed by YHWH. Then, there is a field planted with all kinds of destruction, defilement, desolation, killing, and war. Sometimes this king is enslaved to this field, and then this verse applies: At three things the earth trembles: … at a slave who becomes king… and a slavegirl supplanting her mistress (Proverbs 30:21–23). 

The light of this king is concealed—darkened—until he is purified, uniting above. Therefore, the goat of the new moon, for that field is isolated, lacking the king’s blessings. When he is enslaved to a field, then this applies: For in the field he found her; the engaged girl screamed… (Deuteronomy 22:27). For in the field, as has been said” (Zohar 1:122a–b).

Reuben went out during the days of the wheat harvest (Genesis 30:14). We have learned: Cup of Blessing receives blessing only from this side; so as long as the right is aroused toward Cup of Blessing, the left provides no support. For the right finds warrant in that cup to arouse it toward the upper world.

This secret: Out went Reuben—south side; thus, his banner is in the south. For he is head of the twelve boundaries, and his desire—to find a means, an offering—for Matronita, to bless Her. What is written? [Hefound mandrakes in the field. He went searching amid all Her treasures and found, in this field, mandrakes. Of them is written The mandrakes give forth fragrance… (Song of Songs 7:14)—two cherubim, Her embellishments awakening arousal above. For among all those adornments, none arouse besides cherubim.

South side—when does He arouse toward Her, seeking cause to bless Her? During the days of the wheat harvest (Genesis 30:14)—when She distributes shares of fortune to Her legions and all the reapers of the field. At once, [hebrought them to Leah his mother—their fragrance and arousal wafted upward, toward Upper World, concealed world, arousing blessings for the Lower World.

Once She is blessed, those mandrakes collect, then bestow upon all worlds, as is written: the mandrakes give forth fragrance, at our doors all delicacies (Song of Songs 7:14). When they exude their aroma, south side absorbs it, arousing toward the Upper World. At once, at our doors all delicacies—no beneficence lacking from the world. Lower world does not arouse toward Upper World without the cherubim wafting fragrance toward the right. After they bestow aroma to the right, and the right arouses toward Upper World, at once Lower World arouses to petition for its needs. What is written? Rachel said to Leah, ‘Please give me’ (Genesis 30:14). Give me blessings from the arousal of mandrakes, aroused for you by the right side.

Then, Upper World joyfully, playfully, responded to her, saying, ‘Is your taking my husband a small thing?‘ (ibid. 30:15)—like a mother to her daughter. If so, the Husband of the Upper World must be Jacob! Not so! Yearning of the Father is always exclusively for his Daughter. His love is directed toward Her because She is the only daughter, among six sons [sefirot]. He doles out provisions, largesse, and gifts to each of those six sons—but He allocates nothing for Her, nor does She inherit anything. On account of all this, He watches over Her with greater fondness and love than all the rest.

Out of love for Her, He called Her ‘Daughter’ [cf. BT Bava Batra 16b]. This did not satisfy Him, so He called Her ‘Sister’ [cf. Genesis 20:1; Proverbs 7:4]. This did not satisfy Him, so He called Her ‘Mother,’ in the name of His Mother [cf. Proverbs 2:3; BT Berakhot 57a]. This did not satisfy Him, so He called Her by His name, as is written: But הַחָכְמָה (ḥokhmah), Wisdom, found from אַיִן (ayin), Nothing (Job 28:12)—Ḥokhmah, actually! This is why Upper World said to Her, ‘Is your taking my husband a small thing’—for all of His love is drawn toward You” (Zohar 1:156a–b, Sitrei Torah, cf. Zohar 2:100b).

Holding in Their Hand that Reptile

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Woe to human beings who do not know, consider, or see! They are all obtuse, unaware how full the world is of strange, invisible creatures, of hidden things. If the eye were empowered to see, humans would be amazed how they themselves can endure. Come and see: This Na’amah was mother of demons. From her side issue all those inflamed by human beings, absorbing their spirit of lust, titillating them, turning them into casualties of ejaculation. Since such a casualty derives from the side of impure spirit, he must bathe to purify himself, as established by the Companions” (Zohar 1:55a, cf. Deuteronomy 23:11; BT Berakhot 6a).

“Come and see: All generations in the days of Noah exposed their sins to the world brazenly, in sight of all. One day Rabbi Shim’on was walking through the gates of Tiberias when he saw some men drawing the bow taut with the shaft of a centaur. He exclaimed, ‘What! Such brazen sin, provoking their Lord?’ He cast his eyes upon them; they were hurled into the sea and drowned” (Zohar 1:58a).

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq was in the presence of Rabbi Shim’on. He asked him: This verse, And the earth was corrupt before God (Genesis 6:11)—given that humans sinned, but how did the earth [do so]? He replied: Since it is written, for all flesh had corrupted their way [upon earth] (ibid., 12), as has been said. Similarly, The earth was defiled, and I inflicted her punishment upon her (Leviticus 18:25). It was human beings who sinned. But if you ask, ‘How did earth [sin]?’ the answer is: Human beings constitute the essence of earth—they ruin earth, and it is ruined. The verse proves it, as is written: God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth (Genesis, ibid.).

Come and see: All sins of a human being are entirely his ruination, yet are susceptible to return [i.e., may be atoned by repentance]; but the sin of spilling seed, wasting his way, emitting seed upon earth, ruining both himself and the earth—of this is written: stained is your iniquity before Me (Jeremiah 2:22). Similarly, You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil cannot abide with you (Psalms 5:5), except through great returning. Similarly, Er, firstborn of Judah, was evil in the eyes of YHWH; and YHWH slew him (Genesis 38:7). This has already been explained.

Rabbi Yehudah asked: Why did the blessed Holy One punish the world with water, and not with fire or some other element? He [Rabbi Shim’on] replied: It is a mystery! For they wasted their ways, so that the upper waters and lower waters failed to unite fittingly; so did they ruin their ways, male and female waters. So they were punished by water, just like they sinned. The water was boiling, peeling off their skin, just as they wasted their ways with boiling water [cf. BT Sanhedrin 108b]. A fitting punishment, as is written: All the springs of the great abyss burst forth (ibid. 8:2)—lower waters; and the sluices of heaven opened (ibid.)—upper waters. Upper and lower waters” (Zohar 1:61b–62a).

What he did was evil in the eyes of YHWH (Genesis 38:10). Rabbi Ḥiyya opened, In the morning sow your seed… (Ecclesiastes 11:6). Come and see how greatly a person should beware his sins and be heedful in his actions before the blessed Holy One! For numerous messengers and officials populate the world, roaming around, observing human actions and testifying about them, all recorded in a book [see M Avot 2:1].

Come and see: Of all the sins by which a person is defiled in this world, this is the sin by which he is defiled both in this world and the world that is coming: spilling one’s seed fruitlessly [cf. BT Niddah 13a–b]—emitting seed in vain by hand or foot, and becoming defiled, as is written: For You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil cannot abide with You (Psalms 5:5). He does not enter the curtain nor gaze upon the Countenance of Days, as we have learned, for it is written: Evil cannot abide with You, and similarly: Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil (Genesis 38:7). Therefore, Your hands are full of blood (Isaiah 1:15). Happy is the share of a person in awe of his Lord, guarded from the evil path, purifying himself to persevere in the awe of his Lord!

Come and see: In the morning sow your seed. This verse has been established: in the morning—when a man is in his prime, in his youth; then he should strive to engender children, as is written: sow your seed. Then is the time, as is written: Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth (Psalms 127:4), since he can teach them the ways of the blessed Holy One and obtain a fine reward in the world that is coming, as is written: Happy is the man who fills his quiver with them; they will not be put to shame… (ibid., 5)—in that world, when masters of judgment come to accuse him; for you cannot find a better reward in that world than one who has taught his child the awe of his Lord and the ways of Torah.

Come and see from Abraham, of whom is written For I have known him, so that he will instruct his children… (Genesis 18:19). So the merit stands him well in that world against all masters of judgment; therefore, In the morning sow your seed. And at evening—even in old age, a time when a person wanes, what is written? Do not hold back your hand—one should not forsake engendering in this world. Why? For you do not know which will prosper… (Ecclesiastes, ibid.), so that they can stand up for him in that world. Therefore, Children are the heritage of YHWH (Psalms 127:3). Who is heritage of YHWH? Bundle of the soul [Shekhinah], aspect of the world that is coming. As for this heritage, who entitles one to enter the heritage of YHWH? Children—those children entitle him to the heritage of YHWH. So, happy is the person who attains them and teaches them the ways of Torah, as has been said” (Zohar 1:188a).

“Whoever emits his seed fruitlessly is called evil and does not see the face of Shekhinah, as is written: You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil cannot abide with You (Psalms 5:5), and similarly: Er, firstborn of Judah, was evil in the eyes of YHWH (Genesis 38:7). Here too, Woe to the wicked! Evil!—woe to that wicked one, who is evil, who made himself evil. For what his hands have perpetrated will be requited to him—to include one who fornicates with his hands, emitting seed fruitlessly; this one is tormented in that world more than all.

Come and see! For it is written: Woe to the wicked! Evil! Since it is written Woe to the wicked, why evil? But as I have said: He made himself evil. And it is written: Evil cannot abide with You. All of them ascend, whereas this one does not. Now, you might ask, ‘What about other sinners who have killed people? Come and see: All of them ascend, but he does not. Why? Because they have killed other human beings, whereas he has killed his children—his very own children!—spilling much blood.

Come and see: Of other sinners of the world is not written It was evil in the eyes of YHWH, where as here is written What he did was evil in the eyes of YHWH (ibid., 10). Why? Because he wasted on the ground (ibid., 9).

We have learned: Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘There is nothing in the world for which one cannot repent, except for this [cf. Zohar 1:61b–62a]. There is no sinner who cannot see the face of Shekhinah, except for this one, as is written: Evil cannot abide with You—at all!” (Zohar 1:219b).

“Woe to him for that punishment, woe to him for tainting the sign of the holy covenant! Woe to him for that shame, for eternal vengeance will be wreaked upon him—vengeance of this world and vengeance for that taint. This is the mystery of what is written: For the rod of wickedness shall not rest on the portion of the righteous (Psalms 125:3)…. This pertains if one has not turned back completely in repentance, a turning capable of covering his deeds” (Zohar 2:214b).

“And we have learned: A man is forbidden to gaze at the beauty of a woman, so that he not have evil fantasies and be uprooted to something else. This is how Rabbi Shim’on acted when he was walking through town, followed by the Companions, and they saw beautiful women. He would lower his eyes and say to the Companions, ‘Do not turn to idols (Leviticus 19:4).’ For whoever gazes at a woman’s beauty during the day will have fantasies at night; and if they overwhelm him, he transgresses Do not make molten gods for yourselves (ibid.). Furthermore, if he has intercourse with his wife while those evil imaginings arise within him, the children they engender are called molten gods. Do not turn to idols. Rabbi Abba said, ‘A person is forbidden to look at idols of the nations or to derive benefit from them—all the more so, to look at a place that should not be seen” (Zohar 3:83b–84a).

You shall show them no grace. [You shall not intermarry with them. You shall not give your daughter to his son, nor shall you take his daughter for your son. For he will make your son swerve from following Me…] (Deuteronomy 7:2–4). For Rav said: One is forbidden to say, ‘How beautiful is this idolatress!’ The following objection was raised: It happened that Rabban Shim’on son of Gamaliel, while standing on a step on the Temple-mount, saw a heathen woman who was particularly beautiful, and he exclaimed: ‘How great are Your works, O YHWH!’ (Psalms 104:24). Likewise, when Rabbi Akiva saw the wife of the wicked Tyranus Rufus [Governor of Judea], he spat, then laughed, and then wept. ‘Spat’—because of her originating only from a fetid drop [see M Avot 3:1]; ‘laughed’—because he foresaw that she would become a convert and that he would take her to wife; ‘wept,’ that such beauty should [ultimately] decay in the dust.

What then about Rav’s ruling? [who holds that one must not admire the beauty of a genitle woman]. [He might say that] each of these rabbis merely offered thanksgiving. For a Master has said: He who beholds goodly creatures should say, ‘Blessed be He who has created such in His world’ [cf. BT Berakhot 58b]. But is even mere looking permitted? The following can surely be raised as an objection: [When you sally forth in a camp against your enemy,you shall keep yourself from every evil thing (Deuteronomy 23:10), that one should not look intently at a beautiful woman, even if she be unmarried, or at a married woman even if she be ugly, nor at a woman’s attractive dress, nor at male and female donkeys, or a pig and a sow, or at fowls when they are mating; even if one is all eyes like the Angel of Death!

It has been said of the Angel of Death that he is completely full of eyes. When a sick person is about to die, he stands above the head of the bed. In his hand is a drawn sword with a bitter drop suspended. When the sick person sees him, he is terrified and opens his mouth. The angel flings the drop inside [cf. Job 20:14: vipers’ bile in his gut]. From this drop he dies; from this drop he turns putrid; from this drop his face turns green [therefore the Angel of Death is called סָמָאֵל (sama’el), the Venom of God].

[What may have happened in the aforementioned case of Rabban Shim’on son of Gamaliel was that] the woman turned round a corner [and her face thus met his eyes unexpectedly]” (BT Avodah Zarah 20a).

“Our Rabbis taught: If a man counts out money from his hand into the hand of a woman so as to have the opportunity of gazing at her, even if he can vie in Torah and good deeds like Moses our teacher, he shall not escape the punishment of Hell, as it says, Hand to hand the evil will not go scot-free (Proverbs 11:21), he shall not escape from the punishment of Hell” (BT Berakhot 61a).

“Rabbi Meir used to mock עוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵירָה (overei aveirah), transgressors. One day Satan appeared to him in the guise of a woman on the opposite bank of the river. As there was no ferry, he seized the ‘rope’ and עֶבֶר (ever), crossed. When he had reached half way along the ‘rope,’ he let him go saying: ‘Had they not proclaimed in Heaven, ‘Take heed of Rabbi Meir and his learning,’ I would have valued your blood [i.e., life] at two ma’ahs.’ Rabbi Akiva used to mock transgressors. One day Satan appeared to him as a woman on the top of a palm tree. Grasping the tree, he went climbing up: but when he reached half-way up the tree he let him go, saying: ‘Had they not proclaimed in Heaven, ‘Take heed of Rabbi Akiva and his learning,’ I would have valued your blood at two ma’ahs.’

Peleimo used to say every day, ‘An arrow in the Adversary’s eyes!’ One day—it was the eve of Yom Kippur—he disguised himself as a poor man and went and called out at his door; so bread was taken out to him. He said, ‘On such a day, when everyone is within, shall I be without?’ He was taken in and bread was offered him. He said, ‘On a day like this, when everyone sits at the table, shall I sit alone!’ He was led and sat down at the table. As he sat, his body was covered with sores and puss, and he was behaving repulsively. ‘Sit properly,’ he rebuked him. He said, ‘Give me a cup,’ and one was given him. He coughed and spat his phlegm into it. They scolded him, he fainted and died. Then they [the household] heard people crying out, ‘Peleimo has killed a man, Peleimo has killed a man!’ Fleeing, he hid in a toilet; he followed him, and he fell before him. Seeing how he was suffering, he disclosed his identity and said to him, why have you spoken this way [provoking me by saying: An arrow in the Adversary’s eyes]? What then should I say? You should say: ‘The Compassionate rebuke Satan’ [cf. Zechariah 3:2: YHWH rebuke You, הַשָּׂטָן (ha-satan), the Accuser]” (BT Qiddushin 81a–b).

“Rav Yoḥanan said: Man has a small member—when he starves it, it is satisfied, and when he satisfies it, it is starving” (BT Sukkot 52b).

And I saw among the dupes, discerned among the young men a witless lad, passing through the streets, by the corner, on the way to her house he strides, at twilight, as evening descends, in pitch-black night and darkness. And, look, a woman to meet him, whore’s attire and hidden intent. Bustling she is and wayward, in her house her feet do not stay. Now outside, now in the square, and by every corner she lurks.

She seizes him and kisses him, impudently says to him: “I had to make well-being offerings, today I’ve fulfilled my vows. And so I’ve come out to meet you, to seek you, and I’ve found you. With coverlets I’ve spread my couch, dyed cloths of Egyptian linen. I’ve sprinkled my bed with myrrh, with aloes and cinnamon. Come, let us drink deep of loving till morn, let us revel in love’s delights….” She sways him with all her talk, with her smooth speech she leads him astray. He goes after her in a trice, as an ox goes off to the slaughter, as a stag prances into a halter. Till an arrow pierces his liver, as a bird hastens to the snare, not knowing the cost is his life.

And now, sons, listen to me, and attend to my mouth’s sayings. Let your heart not veer to her ways, and do not go astray on her paths. For many the victims she has felled, innumerable all whom she has killed. Through her house are the ways to Sheol, going down to the chambers of Death (Proverbs 7:7–18, 21–27).

“The secret of secrets: From the strength of the noon-flame of Isaac, from the dregs of wine, a naked shoot came forth, comprising together male and female, red like a lily, and they spread out on several sides, down several paths. The male is called Samael and his female is always included with him. Just as on the side of holiness there are male and female, so on the other side there are male and female, included one with the other. The female of Samael is called ‘serpent,’ ‘a wife of harlotry,’ ‘the end of all flesh,’ ‘the end of days.’

Two evil spirits are attached to one another. The male spirit is fine, the female spirit spreads out down several ways and paths, and is attached to the male spirit. She dresses herself in finery like an abominable harlot and stands at the corners of streets and highways in order to attract men. When a fool approaches her, she embraces him and kisses him, and mixes her dregs of wine with snake poison for him. Once he has drunk, אַסְטֵי (astei), he turns aside, after her. When she sees that he has turned aside after her from the way of truth, she takes off all the finery that she had put on for the sake of this fool [cf. Bahir §164].

This is the finery that she uses to seduce mankind: her hair is long, red like a lily; her face is white and pink; six pendants hang at her ears; her bed is made of Egyptian flax; all the ornaments of the East encircle her neck; her mouth is shaped like a tiny door, beautified with cosmetic; her tongue is sharp like a sword; her words smooth as oil; her lips beautiful, red as a lily, sweetened with all the sweetnesses in the world; she is dressed in purple, and attired in thirty-nine items of finery. This fool turns aside after her, and drinks from the cup of wine, and commits harlotry with her, completely enamored of her. What does she do? She leaves him asleep on the bed and ascends to the realms above, accuses him, obtains authority, and descends. The fool wakes up, thinking to sport with her as before, but she takes off her finery, and turns into a fierce warrior, facing him in a garment of flaming fire, a vision of dread, terrifying both body and soul, full of horrific eyes, a sharpened sword in his hand with drops of poison suspended and dripping from it. He kills the fool, and throws him into Hell” (Zohar 1:148a–b, Sitrei Torah, cf. Zohar 1:190a–b; 2:163a–b; 3:19a, 76b–77a).

“The Queen does not dwell in one’s כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, [namely] the כ״ח (twenty-eight) finger joints, until all the filth of the wicked, unfit slavegirl, wife to the unfit, is removed. Therefore, the Masters of Mishnah explained that ‘filthy hands are unfit to make a blessing’ (BT Berakhot 53b). This water is for cleansing the hand upon which the hand of YHWH rests. The hand of YHWH is the water of Torah. The ignorant people are considered as unclean reptiles [see BT Pesaḥim 49b]. What good will immersing in water do them, holding in their hand that reptile, which is the wicked slavegirl, stolen goods in their possession, the stolen blessings they stole from the blessed Holy One. They do not know what a blessing is, or what filth is” (Zohar 3:273b, Ra’aya Meheimna Eqev).

The Serpent and the Messiah

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“And the human called his woman’s name חַוָּה (Ḥavvah), Eve, for she was the mother of all that lives (Genesis 3:20)—she was given to him for an adviser, but she played the eavesdropper like the serpent. He showed her how many generations she had destroyed. Rabbi Aha interpreted: The serpent was your serpent [i.e., seducer], and you are Adam’s חִוְיָא (ḥivya), serpent” (Bereshit Rabbah 20:11, cf. ZḤ 19b).

And she bore a son and called his name Seth, as to say, ‘God has granted me other seed in place of Abel, for Cain has killed him’ (Genesis 4:25). Rabbi Tanḥuma said in the name of Shemu’el Kozit: [She hinted at] seed which would arise from another source, namely King Messiah [i.e., not from Hebrew stock]” (Bereshit Rabbah 23:5).

And this is the lineage of Perez. Perez begat Hezron. And Hezron begat Ram and Ram begat Aminadab. And Aminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmah. And Salmah begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed. And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David (Ruth 4:18–22).

“Rabbi Abba son of Qahana opened, רִגְזוּ (Rigzu), quake, and do not offend (Psalms 4:5). David said to the blessed Holy One ‘How long will מִתְרַגְּזִים (mitraggezim), they rage against, me and say, Is he not of tainted descent? Is he not a descendant of Ruth the Moabite? Speak in your hearts on your beds (ibid.). You also, are you not descended from two sisters [namely, Rachel and Leah who married the same man]? Look upon your own genealogy and be still (ibid.). And Tamar who married your ancestor Judah—is it not a tainted descent? She was but a descendant of Shem the son of Noah [who married his sister, see Jubilees 4:11]. Do you then have an honorable descent?’

[Quake and do not offend.] Rabbi Ya’aqov son of Ahiyah said: Fight against your impulse and do not offend. The Rabbis explain: Anger your impulse and do not offend.

וְאֵלֶּה (Ve-elleh), And these, are the lineage of Perez (Ruth 4:18). Rabbi Abba said: Wherever אֵלֶּה (elleh), these, occurs, it invalidates the preceding; וְאֵלֶּה (ve-elleh), and these, adds to the preceding.

And Hezron begat Ram (ibid., 19). But was not Jerahmeel the elder son, as is written, The sons also of Hezron, that were born unto him; Jerahmeel, and Ram, and Chelubai (1 Chronicles 2:9)? [Jerahmeel is omitted] because he married a Canaanite woman in order to adorn himself with her, as is written, Jerahmeel had also another wife, whose name was עֲטָרָה (Atarah)Diadem, Adornment (ibid. 2:26).

And Ram begat Aminadab. And Aminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmah (Ruth 4:19–20). [Why is he called שַׂלְמָה (Salmah)?] Because up to him they formed סוּלָמוֹת (sulamot), ladders, of princes, from him onwards they formed ladders of kings.

Rabbi Yitsḥaq opened, Then did I think: Look, I come (Psalms 40:8). I ought to have sung a song that I have come, since the word אָז (az), then, refers to song, as is said, אָז (az), then, did Moses sing (Exodus 15:1). I was included in the verse No Ammonite nor Moabite shall come into YHWH’s assembly. [Even his tenth generation shall not come into YHWH’s assembly ever] (Deuteronomy 23:4), but I have come with the scroll of the book written for me (Psalms 40:8). With the scroll—referring to: whom You did command that they should not enter into Your assembly (Lamentations 1:10). The book—as is said, No Ammonite nor Moabite shall come into YHWH’s assembly. And not only have I been allowed to enter, but in the scroll of the book it is written concerning me. In the scroll—Perez, Hezron, Ram, Aminadab, Nahshon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David; the bookAnd YHWH said, ‘Arise, anoint him, for this is the one’ (1 Samuel 16:12).

Rav Huna said: It is written [And she bore a son and called his name Seth, as to say,] ‘God has granted me other seed [in place of Abel, for Cain has killed him’] (Genesis 4:25)—seed from another place, referring to the Messiah [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 23:5; 51:8]. Rabbi Berekhiyah and Rabbi Shim’on said: We may illustrate with a parable: A king who was travelling from one place to another, when a precious pearl fell from his head. So the king and all his retinue stopped there. All the passers-by asked, ‘What are the king and his retinue doing here?’ They discerned the reason and said, ‘A pearl has fallen from his head.’ What did he do? He gathered all the soil into heaps and brought brooms [alt., sieves]. He had one heap swept, but did not find it; a second heap, and he did not find it; but in the third, he found it, and they announced ‘The king has found his pearl!’ So the blessed Holy One said to Abraham, Go forth [lit., Go to yourself] (Genesis 12:1). It was to you that I looked forward. What need had I to record the lineage of Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, and Terah? (1 Chronicles 1:24–26). Only on account of you, Abram; the same is Abraham (ibid.); And found his heart faithful before You (Nehemiah 9:8). So said the blessed Holy One to David, ‘What need had I to record the lineage of Perez, Hezron, Ram, Aminadab, Nahshon, Salmah, Boaz, Obed, and Jesse? Only on account of you; I found David My servant (Psalms 89:21)” (Rut Rabbah 8a).

“Come and see: Tamar was the daughter of a priest. Now, would you ever imagine that she set out to whore with her father-in-law, given that she was inherently modest? Rather, she was righteous and did this out of wisdom. She offered herself to him only because she possessed knowledge and contemplated wisdom. So she approached him to act kindly and faithfully; that is why she came to him and engaged in this affair.

Come and see: Because she possessed knowledge and exerted herself in this affair, the blessed Holy One offered assistance in that very act and she immediately conceived. All issued from Him.

Now, you might ask: ‘Why didn’t the blessed Holy One bring those sons through some other woman? Why through this one? But precisely she, and no other woman, was needed for this act.

There were two women through whom the seed of Judah was established, from whom issued King David, King Solomon, and King Messiah. These two women correspond to one another: Tamar and Ruth, whose husbands died first, who exerted themselves in this action.

Tamar enticed her father-in-law, who was next of kin to his sons who had died. Why did she entice him? As is written: for she saw that Shelah had grown up and she had not been given to him as wife (Genesis 38:14). That is why she engaged in this act with her father-in-law.

As for Ruth, her husband died and then she engaged in this act with Boaz, as is written: She uncovered his feet and lay down (Ruth 3:7). Engaging with him, she later gave birth to Obed. Now, you might ask ‘Why didn’t Obed issue from another woman?’ But precisely she was needed, no one else.

From these two, the seed of Judah was established and consummated. Both of them acted properly, acting kindly toward the dead so that the world would later be enhanced. This corresponds to what was said: I praise the dead, who have already died (Ecclesiastes 4:2), because when they were first alive, they were not praiseworthy, but later they were. Both of them exerted themselves to act kindly and faithfully toward the dead, and the blessed Holy One assisted in that act. All was fitting!…

It is written: Look, there were twins in her womb! (Genesis 38:27)—they were twins; previously they were brothers [Er and Onan].

Rabbi Ḥizkiyah said, ‘That’s not the implication! Rather, other sons were born.’ Rabbi Abba said, ‘This is why she exerted herself: to recover what had been lost.’

Come and see what is written: As he was drawing back his hand, look, out came his brother, and she said, ‘What a breach you have breached for yourself!—alluding here to the original, licentious breach that he breached, because of which he died. This is implied by the phrase you have breached for yourself—for yourself you have breached a breach, since you had to trouble your Lord; consequently, you will make a breach in other nations. So, he named him פָּרֶץ (Perets), Breach.

After the entire incident of Judah has been told—how he sold Joseph and brought all of this about: for if Judah had said, ‘Let’s return him to our father,’ his brothers would have done so; consequently, his brothers demoted him from dominion over them. After he was banished from his brothers and all this came upon him, Scripture speaks of Joseph: Joseph was brought down to Egypt. Why was brought down? Because the blessed Holy One approved that act, to fulfill the decree that He had issued: Know well that your seed will be strangers… (Genesis 15:13)” (Zohar 1:188a–b, cf. Bahir §§197–198).

“For Rabbi Abba has said, ‘How many wicked there are in the world who engender more virtuous children than the righteous!’” (Zohar 2:12b).

“Evil was consumed and good eventually emerged—the one of whom is written: goodly to look on, and YHWH is with him (1 Samuel 16:12, 18)” (Zohar 2:103b).

“Seed of David…. In his anger he is calm, immediately appeased; but he retains enmity like a serpent in the end, for that side provokes this, surrounding on all sides. However, the kernel within the shell and the heart are upright and firm” (Zohar 2:74b).

A Generation Goes and a Generation Comes

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YHWH, God of the spirits for all flesh (Numbers 27:16)—the verse tells us that all spirits go out only from Him. Rabbi Eli’ezer son of Rabbi Yose the Galilean says: Let this sign always be in your hand, that all during a man’s given life span נַפְשׁוֺ (nafsho), his life, is held in the hand of his Maker, as is written, In whose hand is נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), the breath, of each living thing, [and רוּחַ (ruaḥ), the spirit, of all human flesh] (Job 12:10). When he dies, it is given to the אוֹצָר (otsar), treasury, as is written, My lord’s soul will be bound in צְרוֹר הַחַיִּים (tseror ha-ḥayyim), the bundle of the living (1 Samuel 25:29) [see Targum Yonatan ad loc.: My lord’s soul will be bound in the גְּנַז חַיֵי (genaz ḥayei), treasury of the livingtseror ha-ḥayyim may be rendered as purse of the living, see for example Genesis 42:35; Proverbs 7:20]. I might think both the righteous and the wicked, thus it is written, The souls of your enemies He will sling from the hollow of a sling (ibid.).

Appoint a man over the community (Numbers 27:16)—Joshua [for whom the manna descended over and against all of Israel], as is written, [And He charged the skies above, and the doors of the heavens He opened, and rained on them manna to eat and the grain of the heavens He gave to them.Princely bread a man did eat, provisions He sent them to sate them (Psalms 78:25) [cf. BT Ḥagigah 12b ad loc.]. And why did Scripture not specify [Joshua]? So as not to stir up controversy [over the appointment of Joshua] among [Moses’s] sons and the sons of his brother.

Who will go out before them and come in before them [and who will lead them in and out on the march so that YHWH’s community will not be like a flock that has no shepherd] (Numbers 27:16)—not in the manner of others who send troops [to the vanguard] while they come out towards the end [i.e., escape to the rear]. Rather as Moses did: And YHWH said to Moses, ‘Do not fear him, for into your hand I have given him (Numbers 21:34). And as Joshua did: And Joshua went toward him and said to him, Are you ours or our foes’? (Joshua 5:13). And as Phinehas did: And Moses sent them out, a thousand for the tribe to the army—them and Phinehas (ibid. 31:6).

Who will go out before them and come in before them—as chief: [And David said, ‘Whoever strikes down the Jebusite first shall be chief and commander.’] And Joab son of Zeruiah went up first and became chief (1 Chronicles 11:6). Who will go out before them—in a troop; and come in before them—in a troop. Who will go out before them—on the way; and come in before them—on the way. Who will go out before them—with his merits; and come in before them—with his merits. Who will go out before them—in counting; and come in before them—in counting, as is written, And they said to Moses, ‘Your servants have counted the heads of the men of war who are in our hands, and not a man of them is missing. [And we would offer up YHWH’s offering, each man what he found of gold ornaments, armband and bracelet, ring, earring, and pendant, to atone for our lives before YHWH] (Numbers 31:49). Now, why did they need atonement? Because they feasted their eyes on nakedness [i.e., on the Midianite women, see ibid., 16].

So that YHWH’s community will not be like a flock that has no shepherd (ibid. 27:17). Concerning this, [see] the interpretation of קַבָּלָה (qabbalah), tradition: Tell me, whom I love so, [where you pasture your flock at noon, lest I be כְּעֹטְיָה (ke’oteyah), as one that covers up, by the flocks of your companions] (Song of Songs 1:7)—corresponding to what is said, [And he shall set fire to the houses of the gods of Egypt, and he shall burn them and take them captive] and wrap round the land of Egypt as a shepherd יַעְטֶה (ya’eteh), wraps himself, in his garment (Jeremiah 43:12). By the flocks of your companions (Song of Songs ibid.)—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Go out and see: The blessed Holy One answers, Loveliest of women, if you lose your way, go follow in the עִקְבֵי (iqvei), tracks, of the sheep (Song of Songs 1:8)—what I am destined to do for them in עֲקֵבִים (aqevim), the end. And graze your goats by the shepherd’s shelters (ibid.)—how is it you say that YHWH showed Moses all the leaders who were destined to serve Israel from the day they left the wilderness until the revival of the dead? As is said, Go follow in the tracks of the sheep” (Sifrei Numbers 139).

“Our Rabbis taught: The spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7)—give it back to Him as He gave it to you, in a state of purity. This may be compared to a mortal king who distributed royal robes to his slaves. The wise among them folded them up and put them away in a chest, while the fools among them went and worked in them. After some time, the king wanted his garments. The wise returned them clean, while the fools returned them soiled. The king was pleased with the wise; but he was angry with the fools. Concerning the wise he said, ‘Let the garments be returned to אוֹצָר (otsar), the storehouse, and they return to their homes in peace.’ Concerning the fools he said, ‘Let the garments be given to the laundry, while they be confined in jail.’ Similarly, the blessed Holy One. Concerning the bodies of the righteous He says, Yet he shall come in peace, they shall rest on their couches (Isaiah 57:2), and concerning their souls He says, My lord’s soul will be bound in the bundle of the living (1 Samuel 25:29). Concerning the bodies of the wicked He says, There is no well-being, said YHWH, for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22), and concerning their souls He says, The souls of your enemies He will sling from the hollow of the sling (1 Samuel 25:29).

It was taught, Rabbi Eli’ezer said: The souls of the righteous are treasured away under the כִּסֵּא (kisse), Throne, of Glory, as is said, My lord’s soul will be bound in the purse of the living (ibid.) [see BT Sanhedrin 97a: ‘Son of David will not come until the (last) coin goes out from כִּיס (kis), the purse’]. But those of the wicked continue to be bound, while one angel stands at one end of the world and a second stands at the other end, and they sling their souls to each other, as is said, The souls of Your enemies he will sling from the hollow of a sling” (BT Shabbat 152b).

They will perish and You will yet stand. They will all wear away like a garment. Like clothing You change them, and they pass away. But You—Your years never end (Psalms 102:26–27).

Rabbi Me’ir said: YHWH shall reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations (Psalm 146:10)—what is for all generations? Rabbi Papias said: A generation goes and a generation comes (Ecclesiastes 1:4). Rabbi Akiva said: The generation already came.

A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king had slaves, and clothed them in garments of silk and embroidery in accordance with his wealth. They went astray, so he stripped them of their garments, and flung them from him. They went on their way. He took the garments and washed them well, until no stain remained, and he kept them with him, ready. He then bought other slaves and dressed them in those garments. Not knowing whether these slaves were good or not, they were worthy of garments that had already come into the world, and that others had worn before them. [A generation goes and a generation comes.] But the earth endures forever (Ecclesiastes 1:4)—the same as And dust returns to the earth as it was, and the רוּחַ (ruaḥ), life-breath, returns to God who gave it (ibid. 12:6)” (Bahir §§121–122).

“[Of the ten sefirot] seventh is east of the world, whence comes the seed of Israel. For the spinal cord draws from the brain of man and reaches to the ‘middle finger’ whence comes seed, as is written, From the east I will bring your seed (Isaiah 43:5) [cf. BT Bava Batra 25a: ‘Rabbi Abbahu said, Shekhinah (receives) in the west’]. When Israel is good before the Omnipresent: I will bring your seed and you will have new seed. But when Israel is bad, the seed is from that which has already come into the world, as is written, A generation goes and a generation comes (Ecclesiastes 1:4)—teaching it has already come” (Bahir §155).

“He is All, and in His hand is אוֹצַר הַנְּשָׁמוֹת (otsar ha-neshamot), the Treasury of Souls. And when Israel is good, souls are worthy to go out and come in (Deuteronomy 31:2)—to this world. But if they are not good, they do not go out. Therefore, we say, ‘Son of David will not come until all souls in the body have been consumed’ (BT Yevamot 62a)—they will be worthy that new ones go out. And then Son of David succeeds in being born. How so? Since his soul will go out anew with all the others. 

A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king had an army. He sent them an abundance of food and bread, [but] they were sluggardly and did not eat it they did not even keep it—the bread became moldy and went to waste. [Now, the king] came to inquire and to take a census whether they had enough to eat. He found moldy bread and that they were ashamed to ask [of him] other bread, to say: We did not keep it, now we must ask for another. The king became angry, took the moldy bread and ordered that it be dried and improved as much as possible and swore, ‘I will not give these people any other bread until they have consumed all of this moldy bread.’ He sent it to them anew. What did they do? They settled to apportion it. Each one divided and took on his share. The nimble one put his share out in the air, kept it and ate well. The [sluggardly] one took and fed from it greedily, but left the rest and neglected to keep it. Now it became even worse and so moldy he could not eat of it at all—until he starved to death. 

The crime of his body was counted against him [at the court on high]. [They said to him,] ‘Why did you kill yourself, was it not enough that you ruined the bread before? I returned it improved for you, you apportioned it, but you ruined your share and neglected to keep it, and not only that you killed yourself!’ And he replied, ‘My lords what was I to do?’ They answered him, ‘It was for you to keep. And if you say you could not it was for you to watch your companions and your neighbors who shared the bread with you. And you would have seen what they did with it, how they kept it, and tried to keep like them.’ And they questioned him further, ‘Why did you kill yourself, was it not enough that you ruined the bread? But in addition you destroyed חוֹמֶר גּוּפְךָ (ḥomer gufkha), your body of clay [cf. Jeremiah 18:6; Zohar 1:178a], and shortened your days, or [at least] you caused [it unintentionally]. And perhaps a flawless building was to result from you and rescue you and your ruin and others and their ruin. Therefore, judgment will overtake you from all sides.’ 

He became frightened and answered, ‘But what was I to do after there was no bread for me, what could I have lived on?’ They said to him, ‘If you had toiled and strained in Torah you would not answer foolishly and impudently like this. [Indeed,] from the words of your answer it is evident that you did not toil and strain in Torah. And is it not written in Torah, [And He afflicted you and made you hunger and fed you the manna, which you did not know nor did your fathers know, in order to make you know that] not on bread alone does the human live but on all going out from YHVH’s mouth does the human live (Deuteronomy 8:3). Now how is it you [dare] ask and inquire and probe what it is on which man lives?’ 

And what is all motsa, going out, from YHVH’s mouth (Deuteronomy 8:3)? It was said: He will live by Torah—every motsa, utterance, of YHVH’s mouth. Therefore, they said, ‘An ignoramus cannot be devout’ (M Avot 2:5). And if a person does not act with חֶסֶד (ḥesed), kindness, toward himself, he cannot be called חָסִיד (ḥasid), devout [on not disparaging bread, see BT Pesaḥim 111b; Ḥullin 105b; Zohar 1:14b; 3:244b–245b, 273a–b (both RM). Cf. BT Berakhot 52b]. How can one act with kindness towards his Maker? Torah study. All Torah study renders kindness toward one’s Maker, as is written, Riding through heavens with your help (Deuteronomy 33:26)—’Alas, when you study Torah for her own sake, then you help Me and I ride through heavens.’ Then, In His triumph through the skies (ibid.) [cf. BT Ḥagigah 12b–13aBT Avodah Zarah 3b; Rabbi El’azar of Worms, Sodei Razaya 89]. And what is שְׁחָקִים (sheḥaqim), skies? Say בְּחַדְרֵי חֲדָרִים (be-ḥadrei ḥadarim), in chambers of chambers, as the Targum renders it: His command בִּשְׁמֵי שְׁמַיָּא (bi-shemei shemayya), in heavens of heavens. Therefore, Not on bread alone does the human live but on all going out from YHVH’s mouth does the human live. Yet, a fool answers impudently (Proverbs 18:23)—abandon impudence, do not answer in this manner! Therefore, he is punished. And what is his punishment? I have already explained” (Bahir §§184–185).

There are righteous to whom it befalls as though they did wickedly, and there are wicked to whom it befalls as though they did righteously (Ecclesiastes 8:14).

Why are there wicked to whom there is good and righteous to whom there is evil? Because the righteous was already wicked and is now punished [cf. BT Mo’ed Qatan 28a]. But [is there] punishment for [one’s] days of youth? Rabbi Simon said there is no punishment until the age of twenty and up. I am not speaking about the [same] life, I am saying that he already was in the past. His companions said to him, ‘How much longer will you conceal your words?’ He replied, ‘Go and see. This is like a person who has planted a vineyard in his garden to bring forth grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes. He saw that he was not succeeding, so he replanted it, placed a fence around it, repaired the breaches, pruned the wild grapes, and planted it a second time. He saw that he was not succeeding—he again fenced it off, and again replanted it after pruning.’ How many times? He said to them, ‘Until a thousand generations, as is written: The word He ordained for a thousand generations (Psalms 105:8).’ It is in relation to this that they said: 974 generations were lacking [since the Torah was not given until the twenty-sixth generation]. ‘The blessed Holy One stood up and planted them in each generation’ (BT Ḥagigah 14a)” (Bahir §195).

Inflicting the guilt of the fathers upon sons, upon the third and fourth generation (Exodus 20:5)—a single tree, planted once, twice, three times, and four times, and punished for its initial sins. Father, son, third, and fourth are one—when not mended and not caring to be mended [i.e., for My foes (ibid.)]. Correspondingly, the opposite of this, for a tree restored fittingly and standing firm” (Zohar 2:91b).

And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, that bears its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither—and in all that he does he prospers (Psalms 1:3).

“Since we have begun to reveal, now is the time to reveal all. Souls, issue from a grand and mighty tree of that river issuing from Eden, and all spirits issue from another, small tree. נְשָׁמָה (Neshamah), soul, from above; רוּחַ (ruaḥ), spirit, from below—joining as one, like male and female…. When joining as one, they shine supernal radiance, and in the joining of the two of them, they are called, נֵר (ner), lamp, of YHWH (Proverbs 20:27)” (Zohar 2:99b).