The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: חַוָּה

Do Not Make the Fence Excessive Lest it Collapse and Severe the Saplings

IMG_1063

“The Men of the Great Assembly said three things: Be careful in judgment; raise up many disciples; and make a fence for the Torah” (M Avot 1:1).

“Rabbi Akiva said: Mocking and frivolity lead to immorality. The oral tradition is a fence for Torah; tithes are a fence for wealth; vows are a fence for abstinence. The fence for wisdom is silence” (M Avot 3:17).

“‘Make a fence for the Torah.’ And make a fence for your words, in the way that the blessed Holy One made a fence for His words, and the first human made a fence for his words. Torah made a fence for her words. Moses made a fence for his words. So too, Job as well as the Prophets, the Writings, and the sages—all of them made a fence for their words [on Job’s ‘fence,’ see Job 31:1]” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan A, 1).

He who breaches a fence, a snake will bite him (Ecclesiastes 10:8).

Now the serpent was most cunning (Genesis 3:1).

For in much wisdom is much worry, and he who adds wisdom adds pain (Ecclesiastes 1:18): Because man increases his wisdom he increases worry against himself, and because he increases his knowledge he adds to his pain. Solomon said: Because I increased my wisdom I increased my worry, and because I increased my knowledge I increased my pain. Did you ever hear anybody say: ‘This donkey went out and caught the sun, or caught a fever? And where is suffering prevalent? With human beings. Rabbi said: A תַּלְמִיד חָכָם (talmid ḥakham), disciple of the wise, does not require a warning [cf. BT Sanhedrin 8b]. Rabbi Yoḥanan said: It is like the fine linen garments which come from Bet Shean: if they are even slightly blackened they are ruined; but as for the [coarse] linen garments which come from Arbel, what is their value altogether?

Rabbi Yishma’el taught: According to the camel so is its load. It often happens that two people enter a tavern; one orders, ‘Bring me roast meat, white bread, and good wine,’ while the other orders, ‘Bring me bread and beets’: the former eats and suffers afterwards, while the latter eats and does not suffer. Thus human ills weigh heavily upon the one but not upon the other.

It was taught in Rabbi Me’ir’s name: According to the greatness of the serpent so was his downfall: because he was most cunning, he was [most] cursed of all (Genesis 3:14). Now the serpent was most cunning of all the beasts of the field. Rabbi Hoshaya the Elder said: He stood out distinguished like a reed, and he had feet. Rabbi Yirmeyah son of El’azar said: He was an אֶפִּיקוֹרֶס (epiqores), unbeliever. Rabbi Shim’on son of El’azar said: He was like a camel. He deprived the world of much good, for had this not happened, one could have sent goods through him, and he would have gone and returned [cf. BT Sanhedrin 59b]….

But from the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden God has said, “You shall not eat from it and you shall not touch it, lest you die” (Genesis 3:3). Thus it is written, Add nothing to His words, lest He rebuke you and you be given the lie (Proverbs 30:6) [cf. Deuteronomy 4:2: You shall not add… neither shall you take away from it]. Rabbi Ḥiyya taught: Do not make the fence excessive [lit., more than the main thing], lest it collapse and יִקְצֹץ הַנְּטִיעוֹת (yiqtsots ha-neti’ot), severe the saplings. Thus, the blessed Holy One had said, For on the day you eat from it, you are doomed to die (Genesis 2:17); whereas she did not say so, but rather, God has said, “You shall not eat from it and you shall not touch it, lest you die”; when he [the serpent] saw her lying so, he took and thrust her against it. ‘Have you then died?’ he said to her; ‘just as you were not stricken through touching it, so will you not die when you eat it, For God knows that on the day you eat of it [your eyes will be opened and you will become as gods knowing good and evil] (ibid., 5).

Rabbi Tanḥuma said: I was asked this question in Antioch. I answered: It is not written, יוֹדְעִים אֱלֹהִים (yod’im elohim), knowing gods, but rather, יֹדֵעַ אֱלֹהִים (yode’a Elohim), God knows. Rabbi Yehoshu’a of Sikhnin said in Rabbi Levi’s name: He [the serpent] began speaking לָשׁוֹן הָרַע (lashon ha-ra), slander, of his Creator, saying, ‘Of this tree did He eat and then create the world; hence He orders you, You shall not eat from it, so that you may not create other worlds, for every person hates his fellow craftsmen.’ Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabbi Simon said: He argued: ‘Whatever was created after its companion dominates it. Thus: the heavens were created on the first day and the firmament on the second: does it not bear its weight? The firmament was created on the second and herbs on the third: do they not interrupt its waters? Herbs were created on the third day and the luminaries on the fourth [and through the heat of the sun plant life matures and ripens]; the luminaries on the fourth and the birds on the fifth. Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabbi Simon said: The זִיז (ziz) is a clean bird, and when it flies it obscures the orb of the sun [thus it dominates the sun, as it were]. Now you were created after everything in order to rule over everything; make haste and eat before He creates other worlds which will rule over you. Hence it is written, And the woman saw that the tree was good [for eating and that it was lust to the eyes and the tree was lovely to look at, and she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave to her man, and he ate…] (Genesis 3:6): she saw [how plausible were] the words of the serpent” (Bereshit Rabbah 19:1, 3–4).

“Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥman said, ‘The serpent was asked, Why are you generally to be found among fences?’ He replied, ‘Because I made a breach in the fence of the world.’ Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai taught: The serpent was the first to make a breach in the world’s fence, and so he has become the executioner of all who make breaches in fences” (Vayiqra Rabbah 26:2).

“Rabbi Levitas the visionary opened, ‘Enmity I will set between you and the woman, between your seed and hers (Genesis 3:15)—abundant hatred from the day the world was created, on account of the incitement of the serpent. From the moment it was cursed, driven out from the gate of the King, it lies in ambush constantly amid fences in the world, amid those fences of the Torah, biting all who trample those fences underfoot [see BT Avodah Zarah 18a (in the name of Rabbi Shim’on son of Laqish); Tanḥuma, Eqev 1; Zohar 1:198a–b]. Woe to one who is caught! Woe to one who is bitten! Woe for the persistence of the vile enmity, for the snake’s wicked hatred for Her, the one called woman of valor (Proverbs 31:10). Malevolent animus it nursed for Her from the day the world was created until it ravaged Her, pulverizing Her until She lay in the dust (Zohar Ḥadash 91c [MhN]).

“Four died through the incitement of the serpent, namely: Benjamin the son of Jacob, Amram the father of Moses, Jesse the father of David, and Chileab the son of David” (BT Shabbat 55b).

“On the eve of the Passover Jesus the Nazarene was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and incited [or: enticed] Israel. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!—Ulla said: ‘Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not an enticer concerning whom Scripture says, you shall not pity him and shall not shield him (Deuteronomy 13:9)? With Jesus however it was different, for he was connected with the government‘” (BT Sanhedrin 43a).

“What is different about an inciter [that the court does not seek to deem him innocent]? Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥaninah says: I heard at the lecture of Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Abba: An inciter is different, as the Compassionate One says, [Should your brother, your mother’s son… incite you in secret, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’ that you did not know, neither you nor your fathers…] you shall not spare him and you shall not pity him and shall not shield him. [But you shall surely kill him] (Deuteronomy 13:7–10).

Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥman said in Rabbi Yonatan’s name: Whence do we know that we do not plead on behalf of a inciter? From the primordial serpent. For Rabbi Simlai said: The serpent had many pleas to put forward but did not do so. Then why did the blessed Holy One not plead on its behalf? Because it offered none itself. What could it have said? ‘The words of the master or those of the disciple, whose words should be listened to? Surely the master’s!’

Ḥizqiyyah said: How do we know that whoever increases, decreases? From, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it and you shall not touch it [lest you die’] (Genesis 3:3).

Rav Mesharshiyya said: From: אַמָּתַיִם (ammatayim), two, and a half cubits its length (Exodus 25:10) [if אַמָּתַיִם (ammatayim), two, were spelled without א (alef) it would read מָתַיִם (matayim), two hundred. Thus by adding א (alef) the number is reduced]. Rav Ashi said: From: עַשְׁתֵּי עֶשְׂרֵה (ashtei esreh), eleven, curtains (ibid. 26:7) [if עַשְׁתֵּי עֶשְׂרֵה (ashtei esreh), eleven, were spelled without ע (ayin) it would read שְׁתֵּי עֶשְׂרֵה (shetei esreh)twelve. Thus by adding ע (ayin) the number is reduced]” (BT Sanhedrin 29a, cf. Zohar 2:233b).

“נִשְׁמַת נְקֵבָה (Nishmat neqevah), female inspiration, is from the Female, and נִשְׁמַת זָכָר (nishmat zakhar), male inspiration, is from the Male. This is the reason the serpent followed Eve [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 20:11]. He said, ‘Her inspiration is drawn from the north, and so I will soon seduce her.’ And how did he seduce her? By mounting her.

The wicked Samael conspired with the entire army on high against his Master. This was because the blessed Holy One said, To hold sway over the fish of the sea and the winged creature of the heavens (Genesis 1:26) [cf. Deuteronomy 14:20]. He said, ‘How can we cause him to offend and be driven from before His presence?’ He descended with all his army, and sought a suitable mate on earth. At last he found the serpent, which looked like a camel, and he rode on it [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 19:1; Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 13; Zohar 1:228a]. He then went to the woman and said to her, ‘Though God said, you shall not eat from any tree of the garden…(Genesis 3:1)—I, however, will seek more, I will add in order that she detract [see BT Sanhedrin 29a: ‘Whoever increases, decreases’].’ She replied, ‘From the fruit of the garden’s trees we may eat. He did not prevent us, other than: the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden God has said, You shall not eat from it and you shall not touch it, lest you die‘ (Genesis 3:2).

She added two things: the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden—He only said, From the tree (Genesis 2:17); and you shall not touch it, lest you die [while He only spoke of eating]. What did Samael do? He went and touched the tree. The tree cried out and said, ‘Wicked one, do not touch me!’ Therefore it is written: Let no haughty foot overtake me, nor the hand of the wicked repel me. There did the doers of mischief fall. They were toppled and could not rise (Psalms 36:12–13).’

He then said to the woman, ‘See, I touched the tree and did not die. You too can touch and not die.’ The woman went and touched the tree. She saw the Angel of Death approaching her and said, ‘Woe! Now I will die and the blessed Holy One will make another woman and give her to Adam. I will therefore cause him to eat with me. If we die, we will both die, and if we live, we will both live.’ She took the fruit of the tree and ate it, and she also gave to her husband. Their eyes opened and their teeth were set on edge. He said, ‘What is this that you have given me to eat? Just as my teeth were set on edge, so will the teeth of all generations be set on edge’ [cf. Jeremiah 31:29: The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge].

He sat in true judgement, as is written, For You upheld my justice, my right, You sat on the throne of the righteous judge (Psalm 9:5). He called to Adam, and said ‘Why do you hide from Me?’ He replied, ‘I heard Your sound in the garden (Genesis 3:10). I heard Your sound in the garden—and my bones trembled. And I was afraid, for I was naked, and I hid—I was naked of works, I was naked of mitsvot, and I was naked of actions.’ Therefore it is written: and I was afraid, for I was naked, and I hid.

What was Adam’s clothing? A skin of nail [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 14]. However, when he ate of the fruits of the tree, his skin of nail was stripped from him, and he saw himself naked, as is written, Who told you that you were naked? (Genesis 3:11). Adam said before the blessed Holy One, ‘Master of the World: When I was alone did I offend You? But the woman that You gave me, she drove me from your words,’ as is written, The woman whom you gave me, [she gave me from the tree, and I ate] (Genesis 3:12). The blessed Holy One said to her, ‘Was it not enough for you to offend, but you also caused Adam to offend?’ She said before Him, ‘Master of the World: The serpent [beguiled me so] that I offend You.’ He summoned all three and sentenced upon them nine curses and death and cast down the wicked Samael and his band from their holy place in the heavens. He cut off the feet of the serpent and cursed it more than any living creature and more than any beast, decreeing that it be stripped of its skin every seven years in great pain [see BT Bekhorot 8a].

Let me hear gladness and joy, [let the bones that You crushed exult] (Psalms 51:10″ (Bahir §199–§200).

And She Took of Its Fruit: A Decree was Ordained Beforehand

20140711-121156-43916671.jpg

“‘[Rabbi El’azar son of ha-Qappar said:] Envy, lust, and seeking honor, drive a man out of the world’ (M Avot 4:21).

The ministering angels said before the blessed Holy One, ‘Master of all Worlds: What is a human creature that You should know him? (Psalms 144:3). The human is like unto breath (ibid., 4)—אֵין עַל עָפָר מָשְׁלוֹ (ein al afar mashlo), he has no match on earth [alt., his rule is not over dust] (Job 41:25).’ He said to them, ‘Just as you praise Me above, he shall proclaim My unity below. And moreover, are you able to stand up and give names to all the creatures?’ They stood up but could not. Immediately Adam stood up and gave names to all the creatures, as is said, And the human called names to all the cattle… (Genesis 2:20).

When the ministering angels saw, they said, ‘If we do not come upon Adam with counsel that he might offend before his Creator, we cannot overcome him.’ Now Samael was the great prince in Heaven—the living beings have four wings and the seraphs have six wings, while Samael has twelve wings. He took his band and descended and saw all the creatures which the blessed Holy One had created in His world, and he found among them none so skilled to do evil as the serpent, as is said, Now the serpent was most cunning of all the beasts of the field that YHWH God had made (Genesis 3:1). And his look was like that of a camel, and he mounted and rode upon him. The Torah cried out, saying, ‘Samael, just now the world was created, is it the time to rebel against the Omnipresent? Is it the time to lift yourself on high? The Master of Worlds scoffs at the horse and its rider (Job 39:18).’

A parable: to what can the matter be compared? A man who has an evil spirit within him. And all the deeds that he does, from his own mind does he do them? And all of the words that he speaks, from his own mind does he speak? Is it not that he only does [them] from the mind of the evil spirit which is upon him? So [was it with] the serpent: all the deeds that he performed and all the words that he spoke, he only spoke and only did them by the will of Samael. And of him it says, in his evil the wicked is driven off (Proverbs 14:32).

A parable. To what can the matter be compared? To a king who married a woman and made her supreme over all that he had—precious stones and pearls. He said to her: All that I have shall be in your hands, except this cask, which is full of scorpions. A certain old man visited her; he asks, for instance, for vinegar. He said to her: Will you argue that he deals kindly with you? ‘He deals with me (thus): over all that he possesses has he made me supreme. Thus he said to her: Behold, all that I have is given into your hands except this cask, which is full of scorpions. [The old man] said to her: Is not all the jewelry of the king indeed in this cask? But he wishes to marry another woman, and to give them to her—the king is the first man [Adam], the woman is Eve, and the one who asked for vinegar is the serpent; of them is said, There did the doers of mischief fall. They were toppled and could not rise (Psalms 36:13).

The serpent argued with himself, saying: If I go and speak to Adam, I know that he will not listen to me, for a man is always hard, as is said, [the woman had a good mind and lovely looks,but the man was hard and evil in deeds (1 Samuel 25:3) [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 17:8]; and, look, I will speak to Eve, for I know that she will listen to me; for women listen to all creatures, as is said, [The foolish woman bustles about.Gullibility!—and she knows nothing of it (Proverbs 9:13). The serpent went and spoke to the woman: Is it [true that] you also have been commanded concerning the fruit of the tree? She said: Yes, as is said, [“From the fruit of the garden’s trees we may eat,but from the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden [Elohim has said, ‘You shall not eat from it and you shall not touch it, lest you die’”] (Genesis 3:3). And when the serpent heard the words of Eve, he found an opening through which he could enter, so he said to her: This command is nothing else except the evil eye, for in the hour when you eat, you will be like אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), gods—a Creator. Just as He creates worlds and destroys worlds, so will you be able to create worlds and to destroy worlds. Just as He kills and brings to life, so also will you be able to kill and to bring to life, as is said, For God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened [and you will become as gods knowing good and evil] (ibid., 5).

The serpent went and touched the tree, which commenced to cry out, saying: Wicked One! do not touch me! as it is said, Let no haughty foot overtake me, nor the hand of the wicked repel me. There did the doers of mischief fall. [They were toppled and could not rise] (Ps. 36:11–13). The serpent went and said to the woman: Behold, I touched it, but I did not die; you too may touch it, and you will not die. The woman went and touched the tree, and she saw the angel of death coming towards her; she said: Woe is me! I will die now, and the blessed Holy One will make another woman and give her to Adam, but behold I will cause him to eat with me; if we die, we will both die, and if we live, we will both live. And she took of the fruits of the tree, and ate, and also gave to her husband, so that he should eat with her, as is said, “and she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave to her man, [and he ate] (Genesis 3:6). When Adam had eaten of the fruit of the tree, he saw that he was naked, and his eyes were opened, and his teeth were blunted. He said to her: What is this that you have given me to eat, that my eyes should be opened and my teeth blunted? Just as my teeth were blunted, so shall the teeth of all generations be blunted [cf. Jeremiah 31:29: The fathers ate unripe fruit and the sons’ teeth were blunted]….

He sat in judgment and He judged with judgment. He said to him: Why did you flee before Me? He answered Him: I heard Your sound and my bones trembled,’ as is said, I heard Your sound in the garden and I was afraid, for I was naked, and I hid (Genesis 3:10).

What was the garment of the first man? A skin of nail and a cloud of glory covered him. But when he ate of the fruits of the tree, his skin of nail was stripped off him and he saw himself naked, and the cloud of glory departed from him, as is said, And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? From the tree I commanded you not to eat have you eaten?’ (ibid., 11). Man said before the blessed Holy One: Master of all Worlds! When I was alone, I did not offend against You. But the woman whom You have brought to me enticed me away from Your words, as is said, The woman whom you gave by me, [she gave me from the tree, and I ate] (ibid., 12).

The blessed Holy One called to Eve, and said to her: Was it not enough for you that you yourself offended? But [also] that you should make Adam offend? She said before Him: Master of all Worlds! The serpent enticed my mind to offend before You, as is said, The serpent beguiled me and I ate (ibid., 13).

He brought the three of them and passed sentence of judgment upon them, consisting of nine curses and death. He cast down Samael and his band from their holy place in the heavens, and cut off the feet of the serpent. And He cursed him more than all living beasts and all cattle, and decreed that he should shed his skin and suffer pain once in seven years in great pain, and cursed him that he should drag himself by his belly, and his food is turned in his innards into dust and viper’s bile (Job 20:14), and death is in his mouth, and He put hatred between him and the children of the woman, so that they should bruise his head, and after all these death.

He gave the woman nine curses and death [see BT Eruvin 100b]: the afflictions arising from menstruation and the tokens of virginity; the affliction of conception in the womb; and the affliction of childbirth; and the affliction of bringing up children; and her head is covered like a mourner, and it is not shaved except on account of immorality, and her ear is pierced like perpetual slaves; and like a slavegirl she waits upon her husband; and she is not believed in [a matter of] testimony; and after all these death [see BT Sotah 12a].

He extended retribution to Adam [as to a part of the] nine curses and death. He reduced his power, and He reduced his stature because of the impurity connected with issues and with pollution; as well as the [ritual] impurity arising from sexual intercourse; he was to sow wheat and to reap thistles, and his food was to be the grass of the earth, like that of the beast; and [he was to earn] his bread in anxiety, and his food by the sweat [of his brow]; and after all these death.

He extended pardon to Adam [as to a part of the] nine curses and death. He reduced his power and He reduced his stature because of the impurity of issues and of pollution [see BT Sanhedrin 38b]; as well as the impurity arising from sexual intercourse; he was to sow wheat and to reap thistles, and his food was to be the grass of the earth, like that of the beast; and [he was to earn] his bread in anxiety, and his food by the sweat [of his brow]; and after all these: death. If Adam offended, what was the offence of the earth, that it should be cursed? Because it did not speak against the [evil] deed [see Targum Yerushalmi (fag.) on Genesis 3:17], therefore it was cursed; for in the hour when the sons of man miss the mark in graver transgressions He sends a plague to the sons of man; and in the hour when the sons of man miss the mark in less vital transgressions, He smites the fruits of the earth, because of [the offenses of] the sons of man, as is said, Cursed be the soil for your sake, [with pangs shall you eat from it all the days of your life] (ibid., 17)” (Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 13–14).

“נִשְׁמַת נְקֵבָה (Nishmat neqevah), female inspiration, is from the Female, and נִשְׁמַת זָכָר (nishmat zakhar), male inspiration, is from the Male. This is the reason the serpent went after Eve [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 20:11]. He said, ‘Her soul comes from the north, and so I will soon seduce her.’ And how did he seduce her? By mounting her.

His disciples asked: Tell us how this happened? He replied: The wicked Samael conspired with the entire army on high against his Master, since the blessed Holy One said To hold sway over the fish of the sea and the winged creature of the heavens (Genesis 1:26) [cf. Deuteronomy 14:20]. He said: How can we cause him to offend and be driven from before His presence? He descended with all his army, and sought a suitable companion on earth. At last he found the serpent, which looked like a camel, and he rode on him [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 19:1; Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 13; Zohar 1:228a]. He then went to the woman, saying to her: Though Elohim said, you shall not eat from any tree of the garden… (ibid. 3:1)—however, I will seek more, I will add in order that she detract. She replied: From the fruit of the garden’s trees we may eat (ibid., 2)—He did not prevent us, except for the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden Elohim has said, “You shall not eat from it and you shall not touch it lest you die” (ibid., 2–3). She added two things: the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden—He only said, from the tree (ibid. 2:17); and you shall not touch it, lest you die. What did Samael do? He went and touched the tree. The tree cried out, saying, “Wicked one! Do not touch me!” Therefore, it is written: Let no haughty foot overtake me, nor the hand of the wicked repel me. There did the doers of mischief fall. They were toppled and could not rise (Psalms 36:12–13).

He then said to the woman: See, I touched the tree and did not die. You too can touch and not die. The woman went and touched the tree. She saw the Angel of Death approaching her and said: ‘Oy! Now I will die and the blessed Holy One will make another woman and give her to Adam! I will therefore cause him to eat with me. If we die, we will both die, and if we live, we will both live. She took the fruit of the tree and ate it, and she also gave to her husband. Their eyes opened, their teeth were blunted (Jeremiah 31:29). He said: What is this that you have given me to eat? Just as my teeth were blunted, so will the teeth of all generations be blunted. He sat in true judgment, as is written, For You upheld my justice, my right, You sat on the throne of the righteous judge (Psalms 9:5). He called to Adam, saying: Why do you hide from Me? He replied: I heard Your sound in the garden (Genesis 3:10). I heard Your sound in the garden—and my bones trembled; And I was afraid, for I was naked, and I hid. I was naked—of works; I was naked—of mitsvot; and I was naked—of actions. Therefore, it is written: and I was afraid, for I was naked, and I hid.

What was Adam’s clothing? A skin of nail. However, when he ate of the fruits of the tree, his skin of nail was stripped from him and he saw himself naked, as is written, Who told you that you were naked? (ibid., 11). Adam said before the blessed Holy One: Master of the World: When I was alone did I offend You? But the woman whom You gave me, she drove me away from Your words, as is written, The woman whom You gave me, [she gave me from the tree, and I ate] (ibid., 12). The blessed Holy One said to her: Was it not enough for you to offend, but you also caused Adam to offend? She said before Him: Master of the World: The serpent [beguiled me so] that I offend You. He summoned all three of them and sentenced nine curses upon them and death, and cast down the wicked Samael and his band from their holy place in the heavens. He severed the serpent’s feet and cursed him more than any living creature, more than any beast, and decreed that he be stripped of his skin every seven years, in great pain [see BT Bekhorot 8a]. 

Therefore, Let me hear gladness and joy, [let the bones that You crushed exult] (Psalms 51:10)” (Bahir §§199–200).

“The letter מ (mem) was the original sign for Adam, establishing death upon the world, because this letter was flying over Adam’s head when, as is written: She took מִפִּרְיוֹ (mi-piryo), of its fruit (Genesis 3:6)—מ פִּרְיוֹ (mem, piryo)—and it was waiting for ו ת (vavtav). When, as is written, וַתֹּאכַל וַתִּתֵּן (va-tokhal va-titten), and she ate, and she gave, וַתִּפָּקַחְנָה (va-tippaqaḥnah), And [the eyes of the two] were opened (ibid., 6–7), then מָוֶת (mavet), death, was established upon the world” (Zohar 3:237a, cf. ibid. 1:12b).

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘A decree was ordained beforehand that Adam should die since he was taken from the ground. As implied by what is written: on the day you eat from it [you will surely die] (Genesis 2:17)—teaching that had he not sinned, he would have had a long life [cf. BT Shabbat 55a–b]. As soon as he sinned, the punishment was that his days be shortened—and that he die on that very day. After he repented, the blessed Holy One granted him His day—which is one thousand years [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 8:2].

This proves that the decree that he die was prior. For were it not so, when he repented He should have rescinded the decree!

Rabbi Shim’on explained, ‘He repented and He rescinded the decree ordained for him—on the day you eat from it (ibid.); He lengthened his days, granting him His day” (Zohar Ḥadash 18c).

The Serpent and the Messiah

IMG_1222

“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).

“Rabbi Tanḥum said: Son of Qappara expounded in Sepphoris: These six shares of barley he gave me (Ruth 3:17)—what six shares of barley? Shall we say six shares of barley literally? But was it the way of Boaz to give six shares of barley? Rather six se’ahs. But is it the way of a woman to take hold of six [weighty] se’ahs? Rather, he hinted to her that six sons were destined to issue from her, who should each be blessed with six blessings. And these are: David and Messiah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

David, as is written, And one of the lads answered and said, Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, skilled in playing, a valiant fellow, a warrior, prudent in speech, a good-looking man, and YHVH is with him’ (1 Samuel 16:18)…. Messiah, as is written, [And a shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, a branch shall bloom from his roots.] And the spirit of YHWH shall rest on him, a spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and valor, a spirit of knowledge and fear of YHWH (Isaiah 11:2)…” (BT Sanhedrin 93a–b).

“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).

The Blessed Holy One Placed More Understanding in Women Than in Men

And YHWH Elohim cast a deep slumber on the human, and he slept… And YHWH Elohim built the rib He had taken from the human into a woman (Genesis 2:21).

“A [Roman] Matronita asked Rabbi Yose: ‘Why [was woman created] by theft? He replied, ‘Imagine a man depositing an ounce of silver with you in secret, and you return him a litra [twelve ounces] of gold openly; is that theft!’ ‘Yet why in secret?’ she replied. ‘At first He created her for him and he saw her full of discharge and blood; thereupon He removed her from him and created her a second time.’ ‘I can corroborate your words,’ she said. ‘It had been arranged that I should be married to my mother’s brother, but because I was brought up with him in the same home I became plain in his eyes and he went and married another woman, who was not as beautiful as I.’

It once happened that a devout man was married to a devout woman, and they did not produce children. They said, ‘We are of no use to the blessed Holy One,’ whereupon they arose and divorced each other. The former went and married a wicked woman, and she made him wicked, while the latter went and married a wicked man, and made him righteous. This proves that all depends on the woman….

[Rabbi Yehoshu’a asked:] ‘And why is a man easily appeased, but not a woman?’ ‘Man was created from the earth,’ he answered, and when you pour a drop of water on it, it absorbs it immediately; but Eve was created from bone which even if you soak many days in water does not become saturated” (Bereshit Rabbah 17:7–8).

And YHWH God יִּבֶן (yiven), built, the rib He had taken from the human into a woman (Genesis 2:21)—the blessed Holy One placed more בִּינָה (binah), understanding, in women than in men” (BT Niddah 45b).

“נָבוֹן (Navon), understanding, one thing שֶׁמֵבִין (she-mevin), from, another” (BT Sanhedrin 93b).

“Wherever a distinction is drawn [the feminine noun] דְּרָכִים (derakhim), ways, is taught. Wherever there is no distinction [the masculine noun], דְּבָרִים (devarim), things, is taught’” (BT Qiddushin 3a).

“He [Moses] searched throughout Israel and could not find understanding ones, as is written: I took the heads of your tribes, wise and knowledgeable men (Deuteronomy 1:15), whereas it is not written בִּינָה (binah), understanding. Now, if you say that בִּינָה (binah), understanding, is a higher rung than wise—certainly so!” (Zohar 2:201a, cf. BT Eruvin 100b).