The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: יְסוֹד עוֹלָם

A Mighty Tree: its Top Reaches the Heavens and its Branches to the End of all the Earth

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There is a tree in the earth and its height is great. The tree grew and became mighty, and its top reaches the heavens and its branches to the end of all the earth. Its foliage is lovely and its fruit great, and there is food for all in it. Beneath it the beasts of the field are shaded, and in its branches the birds of the heavens dwell, and all flesh is nourished from it (Daniel 4:7–9).

“It was taught: The Tree of Life extends over a journeying distance of five hundred years. Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabbi Il’ai said, ‘[This is] not the end of the thing, but rather even its branches and its trunk [must be taken into account].’ And all the waters of Creation branch off beneath it. And what is the reason? 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). It was taught: The Tree of Life is one sixtieth of the garden. The garden is one sixtieth of Eden. Now a river runs out of Eden to water the garden [and from there splits off into four streams] (Genesis 2:10)—the runoff of a kor waters two kabs” (JT Berakhot 1:1, 2c, cf. Zohar 1:76b, Sitrei Torah).

“I am the one who planted this tree for all the world to delight in. With him I spanned the All, calling him All, for all תָּלוּי (talui), hang, on him, all issues from him, all need him, all lookout for him and await him. From there souls blossom in joy. Alone I was when I made him. When I spread out My earth, in which I planted and rooted this tree—giving them joy in one another, rejoicing along with them—who was with Me (Isaiah 44:24)? To whom could I reveal this secret of Mine?” (Bahir §22, cf. Ibn Ezra on Genesis 1:26).

“There are five hundred years to which the Tree of Life clings, generating verdure and offspring for the world. All the waters of Creation, drawn and flowing from the beginning, branch beneath it, through it” (Zohar 1:18a).

“This Tree has its roots in the Lebanon, which is the Throne of Glory, blessed be He, and the Lebanon corresponds to the supernal Lebanon, and its roots are seventy-two roots” (Seder Gan Eden).

“What is [that which we recite in the Qedushah:] Holy, holy, holy, and then, YHWH of Armies. The fullness of all the earth is His glory (Isaiah 6:3)? Holy—supernal Crown [Keter]; holy—root of the Tree [Ḥokhmah]; holyclinging, yet separate from them all [Binah or Malkhut]. YHWH of Armies. The fullness of all the earth is His glory.

What is: ‘holy—clinging, yet separate’? A parable: A king had sons whose sons had sons. When the sons do his will, he enters their midst, making all endure, satisfying all, causing goodness to flow upon them, so that both fathers and sons are sated. When the children do not do his will, he only gives the fathers as much as they need [and no more. Cf. Bahir §113. On Binah, or Malkhut, as separate from the sefirot, see Bahir §§104–105, 124, 175. Cf. Zohar 3:288a (IZ). On the ‘world of separation,’ see Zohar 3:159b. On son clinging to father, see Zohar 2:147a]” (Bahir §§128–129).

“They asked [Rabbi Berekhiah], ‘What is the letter צ (tsadi)?’ He said: יוֹ״ד (yod) נוּן (nun); tsadi—coupling of yod nun [alluding to יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17), see Bahir §86]. As is written, צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq), the Righteous One, is a יְסוֹד עוֹלָם (yesod olam), lasting foundation (Proverbs 10:25)” (Bahir §61).

One pillar extends from earth to the firmament. His name is צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq)Righteous One, named for the righteous. When there are righteous people in the world, the pillar is invigorated; if not, he is sapped. He upholds the entire world, as is written, The Righteous One is the יְסוֹד עוֹלָם (yesod olam), foundation of the world (Proverbs 10:25). If he weakens, the world cannot endure. So if the world contains just one righteous person, that person sustains the world [cf. BT Yoma 38b]” (Bahir §102).

What is ש (shin)? It is root of the Tree—[say, rather] ש (shin) looks like the root of the Tree.

And what is [this] Tree you speak of? He said to him: The powers of the blessed Holy One—this one on the back of that one [cf. Sefer Yetsirah §48b: ‘One atop three, and three atop seven, and seven atop twelve. And they all hold fast to each other’]. Just as a tree produces fruit by means of water, so too the blessed Holy One multiplies the powers of the Tree by means of water. And what is water of the blessed Holy One? חָכמָה (Ḥokhmah), Wisdomנִשְׁמַת הַצַּדִּיקִים (nishmat ha-tsaddiqim), soul of the righteous, פּוֹרְחִין (porḥin), gushing, from the spring to the great channel, ascending and cleaving with the Tree. What causes them to פּוֹרֵחַ (poreaḥ), bloom? When Israel are righteous and good Shekhinah abides among them [cf. M Avot 3:6], saturating their deeds, in the blessed Holy One’s lap, and [He] makes them fruitful and multiplies [them]” (Bahir §§118–119).

The blessed Holy One possesses a single Tree and in him are ‘twelve diagonal borders: a north-eastern border, a south-eastern border—an upper eastern border, a lower eastern border; a north-western border, a south-western border—an upper western border, a lower western border; an upper northern border, a lower northern border; an upper southern border, a lower southern border; deepening and expanding until evermore, זְרֹעֹת (zero’ot), arms, of the world (Deuteronomy 33:27)’ (Sefer Yetsirah §47)—within them is the Tree. 

To all of these diagonals there are corresponding overseers (Genesis 41:34), twelve of them, and within the Wheel [are] twelve overseers too—[reckoning] thirty-six overseers with the diagonals, [since] for each one there is [another] one, as is written, For he who is high has a higher one watching him (Ecclesiastes 5:7). It is found that to the east wind are nine, to the west wind are nine, to the south wind are nine, and to the north wind are nine. And these are twelve, twelve, and twelve—thirty-six ‘overseers in Teli, Wheel, and Heart’ (Sefer Yetsirah §59a). Now all of them [reckon] thirty-six of thirty-six since the power of one is [also] in its companion. Even though there are twelve in each of the three, ‘they all hold fast to each other’ (Sefer Yetsirah §§48b, 55). All thirty-six powers are in the first one, which is the Teli. And if you seek them in the Wheel, you find the very same ones. And if you seek them in the Heart, you find the very same ones. That is why to each one are twelve, [yet] they are found to be thirty-six since there are three, and ‘חוֹזְרוֹת חֲלִילָה (ḥozrot ḥalilah), they rotate’ (Sefer Yetsirah §19b) [cf. BT Bava Batra 25a]. And the power of each one is found in its companion, so that every one [is] thirty-six, yet all of them together are not more than thirty-six צוּרוֹת (tsurot), forms, and they are all completed by [the] לֵ״ב (lev), Heart. Thirty-two are added to thirty-two, and there are four left [of the aforementioned thirty-six], and they [reckon] sixty-four forms [cf. Targum Yonatan to Ezekiel 1:6]. 

And how is it known to us that ‘thirty-two are added to thirty-two’? As is written, For he who is high has a higher one watching him. If so there are [only] sixty-four. Yet eight are lacking from the seventy-two names of the blessed Holy One, and this is [alluded to by], And still higher ones over them (Ecclesiastes ibid.)—the seven days of the week. But one is [still] lacking, and that is [alluded to by] And the gain of the earth is בַּכֹּל (ba-kol), in all—a king [opposite a field] (ibid., 8). 

What is יִתְרוֹן (yitron), the gain? The Place from which the earth was hewn [cf. Tanḥuma, Pequdei 3; Shemot Rabbah 15:22], and He yitron, surpasses, what was [cf. Ecclesiastes 2:13: And I saw that wisdom yitron, surpasses, folly as light surpasses darkness]. And what are they yitron, profited? Every thing in the world: when inhabitants of the world are able to take from its splendor then it is a yitron, gain [cf. Qohelet Rabbah on 5:8]” (Bahir §95).

“There are three princes: Teli, Wheel, and Heart. Each one is twelve, and the three therefore [reckon] thirty-six, by which the world is sustained [see BT Sanhedrin 97bSukkah 45b], as is written: The Righteous One is the foundation of the world (Proverbs 10:25)” (Bahir §101).

“Rabbi Berekhiah sat and expounded: What is the תְּלִי (Teli)? This is the likeness that is before the blessed Holy One, as is written, His locks are תַּלְתַּלִּים (taltallim), curled (Song of Songs 5:11) [the Teli is like a serpentine spine which twists the heavens, i.e., Draco, Axis Mundi, see Baraita de-Shemu’el, 1: ‘The elusive Serpent (Job 26:13) is the Teli’; Sefer Yetsirah §59a: ‘The Teli in the world is like a king on his throne.’ On the resemblance of the spine to a serpent, see BT Bava Qamma 16a]. What is the גַלגַל (galgal), Wheel? It is the בֶּטֶן (beten), Belly [‘Mother of the World,’ Binah, see Bahir §104. On the Wheel, see BT Shabbat 151a]. What is the לֵב (lev), Heart? Heart of the heavens (Deuteronomy 4:11). In it are the ל״ב (thirty-two) paths of Wisdom” (Bahir §106).

“Rav Raḥmai said: The righteous and devout in Israel who lift Me up over the whole world through their merits, from them the Heart is sustained, and the Heart sustains them [cf. JT Terumot 8:4, 46b]” (Bahir §97, cf. ibid., §185).

“Why is it called קָרְבָּן (qarbban), sacrifice? Because it מְקָרֵב (meqarev), draws near, the holy powers, as is written, וְקָרַב (ve-qarav), and join, them one to another, into one Tree; and they shall become one in your hand (Ezekiel 37:17)” (Bahir §109).

This is the Explicit Name that was written on Aaron’s forehead. The Explicit Name containing seventy-two letters and the Explicit Name containing twelve letters were handed over by the blessed Holy One to the [angel] מסמריה (MSMRYH) who stands before the Curtain. He gave them to Elijah on Mount Carmel, and with them he ascended and did not taste the taste of death. These are the explicit, the precious, and the magnificent names [cf. BT Qiddushin 72b]. There are twelve names, one for each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel:

אַהְצִי צְיַהְרוֹן אַבְרוֹחְיַהְרוֹן וּשבוּבַ נְומַקְרוֹן דַמוֹרַטְרוֹן צְפצַפְשִיתְרוֹן יֶהוֹֹדְמֵירוֹן וּחַייַהְרוֹן בְרַקיַהְאוֹן עַרשְיַהְ גְאוֹן כֵסֵאיַהְ מְנַגמהְוֹן הוּהוּ יַהְ הֶיוֹ יַה אַהְ אַהְוהְ דְמַהְדִירוֹן

All of them are encompassed by the Heart of the heavens, and are divided into four names, male and female, overseen by Teli, Wheel, and Heart—they are מַעְיָנוֹת הַחָכְמָה (ma’ayanot ha-ḥokhmah), the Wellsprings of Wisdom” (Bahir §112).

Vitality of the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And all the ten shofar blasts are included in three תְּקִיעָה שְׁבָרִים תְּרוּעָה (Teqiah Shevarim Teru’ah). תְּקִיעָה (Teqiah)—the length of the exile. שְׁבָרִים (Shevarim), Moaning—the proximity of the exile. תְּרוּעָה (Teru’ah), Wailing Alarm—the coming redemption; teaching of the strain after strain with no relief between them [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 33b–34a; BT Sanhedrin 96b]. And clearly, since the other nations make Israel’s exile more difficult, it is the strain that they exert that brings redemption closer. And so too in our case of the patient’s pulse: beats come faster, one after the other, with no space between them, and the man’s נַפְשָׁא (nafsha), soul [or: breath], leaves him.

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

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