The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: לָשׁוֹן הָרַע

He who Pronounces the Name shall be Doomed to Die

Should your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or your daughter or the wife of your bosom or your companion who is like your own self 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).

“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 practised sorcery and 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 defence 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, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 69, 97a).

“Our Rabbis taught: Always let the left hand repulse but the right hand draw near unlike Elisha, who pushed away Gehazi with his two hands, and unlike Yehoshua son of Peraḥya, who pushed away Jesus the Nazarene with his two hands.

… What of Rabbi Yehoshua son of Peraḥya?—when King Yannai [Hyrcanus] was slaughtering the rabbis, Rabbi Yehoshua son of Peraḥya and Jesus fled to Alexandria of Egypt. When there was peace, Shim’on son of Shetaḥ sent to him: ‘From me, Jerusalem the holy city, to you, Alexandria of Egypt my sister. My husband dwells within you and I am desolate.’ He arose, went, and found himself in a certain inn, where great honour was shown him. ‘How beautiful is this אַכְסַנִיָא (aḥsaniya)!’ [the word denotes both ‘inn’ and ‘innkeeper.’ Rabbi Yehoshua used it in the first sense; the answer assumes the second to be meant]. Thereupon [Jesus] said to him, ‘Rabbi, her eyes are narrow.’ ‘Wicked one! This is how you engage yourself?’ He sounded four hundred ram’s horns and excommunicated him. He came before him many times pleading, ‘Receive me!’ But he would take no notice of him. One day he was reciting the Shema, when Jesus came before him. He intended to receive him and gestured to him with his hand [cf. M Berakhot 5:1: ‘Even if a snake is wound round his heel he should not interrupt’]. [Jesus] thinking that it was to shoo him away, went, put up a brick, and worshipped it. ‘Repent,’ he said to him. He replied, ‘[But] I have received from you: He who offends and causes others to offend is not given the opportunity to repent.’ And a master has said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene practised magic and led Israel astray'” (BT Sanhedrin 107b).

“Ten kavs of witchcraft descended to the world: nine were taken by Egypt and one by the rest of the world” (BT Qiddushin 49b).

“Son of Stada brought forth witchcraft from Egypt by means of scratches [in the form of charms] upon his flesh… Was he then the son of Stada: surely he was the son of Pandira?—Rav Ḥisda said: The husband was Stada, the lover was Pandira. But the husband was Pappos son of Yehudah?—his mother was סְטָדָא (Stadtha). But his mother was Miriam the hairdresser?—it is as we say in Pumbedita: This one has סָטָת דָּא (satath da), veered, from her husband” (BT Shabbat 104b, cf. BT Sanhedrin 67a).

“Rabbi Shim’on the Devout said: ‘There are 974 generations who pressed themselves forward to be created before the world was created, but were not created: the blessed Holy One arose and planted them in each and every generation, and it is they who are the impudent of the generation” (BT Ḥagigah 13b).

And the son of an Israelite woman, he being the son of an Egyptian man, went out among the Children of Israel, and the son of the Israelite woman and a certain Israelite man brawled in the camp [and the son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name, vilifying it… וְנֹקֵב שֵׁם יְהוָה מוֹת יוּמָת (ve-noqev shem Adonai mot yumat)And he who pronounces YHWH’s name shall be doomed to dieיֵשׁוּ (yeshu), Jesus] (Leviticus 24:10–11; 16).

[And the son of an Israelite woman…] went out. Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘He went out from the sphere of all, he went out from the sphere of faith, and he went out from the sphere of the share of Israel. ‘Brawled in the camp—from here we learn: Whoever comes from polluted seed eventually exposes if before all. What causes this? Filth of the evil portion within him, for he has no share in the entire sphere of Israel.

Rabbi Ḥiyya opened, ‘It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, the glory of kings, to probe a matter (Proverbs 25:2). It is the glory of God to conceal a matter—for a human is not permitted to divulge hidden matters not intended to be revealed, things covered by the Ancient of Days, as is said: that they may eat their fill and cover themselves elegantly (Isaiah 23:18). That they may eat their fill—until that place permitted to you, no farther. Nevertheless, and cover themselves עָתִיק (athiq), elegantly—and cover עָתִּיק (attiq), the Ancient One, surely!

Alternatively, that they may eat their fill—the Companions who know ways and paths, to walk in the way of faith fittingly, such as the generation in which Rabbi Shim’on dwells. And cover the Ancient One—from other generations, for none of them are worthy to eat their fill and to have matters revealed among them. Rather, cover the Ancient One—as is said: Do not let your mouth make your flesh sin (Ecclesiastes 5:5). In the days of Rabbi Shim’on, a person would say to his fellow, ‘Open your mouth and let your words shine!’ After he passed away, they would say, ‘Do not let your mouth make your flesh sin.’ In his days, to eat their fill; and after he passed away, and cover the Ancient One—for the Companions stammer and cannot comprehend.

Alternatively, to eat their fill—of those matters that are revealed. And cover the Ancient One—those matters that are covered.

The son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name (Leviticus 24:11). What is meant by וַיִּקֹּב (va-yiqqov), pronounced? Rabbi Abba said, ‘Va-yiqqov, Pierced, surely—as is said: וַיִּקֹּב (Va-yiqqov), He pierced, a hole in its door (2 Kings 12:10)—piercing what had been closed up.’

His mother’s name was Shelomith daughter of Dibri (Leviticus 24:11). Until here, Scripture concealed his mother’s name; once it is written וַיִּקֹּב (va-yiqqov), pierced, Scripture נָקִיב (neqeiv), designated, his mother’s name [as if to say, ‘נָקַב (naqav), Cursed, be the one who bore and raised a son such as this’]. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Were it not that the Holy Lamp exists in the world, I would not be permitted to reveal. From here on, this word is conveyed only to the Companions, who are among the Reapers of the Field. Contrarily, any who seek to reveal to those who do not know—may their spirit expire!

Come and see: It is written and the son of the Israelite woman and a certain Israelite man brawled in the camp (Leviticus 24:10). This verse has already been established; but this is the son of another wife of his father, husband of Shelomith. When that Egyptian copulated with [Shelomith] in the middle of the night, and [her husband] returned home and realized what had happened, he separated from her and no longer cohabited with her. He took another wife and engendered this one, called a certain Israelite man, whereas the other one is the son of the Israelite woman [cf. Vayiqra Rabbah 32:4: ‘He was definitely a bastard’; Zohar 2:90b: ‘Rabbi Yitsḥak said, Honor your father—your father (Exodus 20:12), precisely, for look, one who covets a woman and engenders a child, that child will honor another who is not his father!’]. If they brawled with one another, what need is there here for the Holy Name, and why did he curse the Holy Name? Well, in the midst of fighting, that certain Israelite man said something about [the other one’s] mother. Immediately, וַיִּקּוֹב בֶּן הָאִשָּׁה הַיִּשְׂרְאֵלִית (va-yiqqov ben ha-ishah ha-yisre’elit), the son of the Israelite woman pierced—as is said: (Va-yiqqov), He pierced, a hole in its door (2 Kings 12:10). Mystery of the matter: He took the ה״ (he) of the Holy Name [יהוה (YHWH)] and cursed, to defend his mother. This is piercing, for he pierced the Holy Name. This is uttered for the Reapers of the Field. Mystery of the matter: Such is the way of an adulteress: [she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wrong’] (Proverbs 30:20). Happy is the share of the righteous, who know the matter and conceal it! Thus it is said Have your quarrel with your neighbor, but another’s secret do not reveal (ibid. 25:9).

The final ה״ (he) [of יהוה (YHWH)] was the Female, suckling on two sides. Consequently, She took the weapons of the King to wreak Her vengeance. Take out the one who cursed (Leviticus 24:14). Thus it is written Every man shall revere his mother and his father (ibid. 19:3), reverence for one’s mother preceding that of one’s father. Happy are Israel in this world and in the world that is coming!

Alternatively… Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘They brawled with one another and he said something about [the other one’s] mother, and that his father was the one killed by the Holy Name—as has been established: It is written הַלְהָרְגֵנִי אַתָּה אֹמֵר (Ha-lehargeni attah omer), Do you speak to kill me [as you killed the Egyptian]? (Exodus 2:14), for Moses killed him by the Holy Name. So he extended a word toward him. This is why it is written The son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name, cursing it, and he was brought to Moses. Why? Because it pertained to Moses, since he had killed [the man’s] father by the Holy Name. Therefore, he was brought to Moses. Once Moses perceived, immediately, he was put under guard… (Leviticus 24:12); so father and son fell into Moses’ hands” (Zohar 3:105b–106b).

He is Unclean, He shall Dwell Apart: Yet it was Our Sickness He was Bearing

“Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi met Elijah at the opening of the cave of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai [cf. 1 Kings 19:8-9]. He asked him: ‘Do I have a portion in the world to come?’ He said, ‘If this lord desires.’ Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi said, ‘I saw two, but heard the voice of a third [the Shekhinah (Rashi)].’ He then asked him, ‘When will the Messiah come?’—‘Go and ask him himself,’ was his reply. ‘Where is he sitting?’—‘At the portal of the city [of Rome (Gra)].’ And by what sign may I recognize him?’—‘He is sitting among the ill, poor, and suffering: everyone of them untie all at once and rebandage them together, whereas he unties and rebandages each separately [before treating the next], thinking, should I be wanted, I must not be delayed [by having to bandage a number of sores].’ So he went to him and greeted him, saying, ‘Peace be upon you, Rabbi and Teacher.’ ‘Peace be upon you son of Levi,’ he replied. ‘When will you come Master?’ he asked, ‘Today,’ was his answer. On his returning to Elijah, he asked, ‘What did he say to you?’—‘Peace be upon you son of Levi,’ he answered. Thereupon he [Elijah] observed, ‘He thereby assured you and your father of [a portion in] the world to come.’ ‘He spoke a lie to me, saying that he would come today, but has not.’ He [Elijah] answered him, ‘This is what he said to you, Today, if you would only heed His voice!’ (Psalms 95:7)” (BT Sanhedrin 98a).

“The Rabbis said: [The Messiah,] his name is חִיוְורָא (Ḥivvra), White, of the House of Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi], as is written, Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our pains that he endured—though we considered him plagued, stricken by God and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4) [i.e., the Messiah is as הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one afflicted with skin blanch—he is called unclean and dwells outside the camp (Rashi)]” (BT Sanhedrin 98b).

And the person afflicted with skin blanch, in whom the affliction is, his clothes shall be torn and his hair disheveled, and his moustache he shall cover, and he shall call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” All the days that the affliction is on him he shall remain unclean. He is unclean. He shall dwell apart. Outside the camp shall his dwelling be (Leviticus 13:45-46).

Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our pains that he endured—though we considered him plagued, stricken by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquities, he bore the chastisement that made us whole, and by his wound we were healed (Isaiah 53:4-5).

This shall be the teaching concerning הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one afflicted with skin blanch—הַמוֹצִיא רָע (ha-motsi ra), the one who utters evil. Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘If anyone produces evil speech, all his limbs are defiled and he deserves to be confined, for that evil word rises and arouses an impure spirit upon him, defiling him” (Zohar 3:53a).

“And he who [continually] declares [others] unclean is [himself] unclean and never speaks in praise [of people]. And Shemu’el said: With his own blemish he stigmatizes [others] as unclean” (BT Qiddushin 70a).

“When [the souls in the Garden of Eden below roam on every new moon and Sabbath] they tell the Messiah about the suffering of Israel in exile and about the wicked among them who do not seek to know their Lord, he weeps aloud over the wicked, as is written: But he was wounded for our sins, crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). Those souls return and stand in their places.

In the Garden of Eden there is one chamber called the Chamber of the Ill. The Messiah then enters that chamber and calls for all the illnesses, all the pains, and all the sufferings of Israel to come upon him, and they all do so. And if he did not ease them off of Israel, taking them upon himself, no one could endure the sufferings of Israel from the punishments of Torah, as is written: Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing (Isaiah 53:4). Similarly, Rabbi El’azar on earth [see BT Bava Metsi’a 83b-84b].

For innumerable are the sufferings looming over a person every day, all of which descended into the world at the time when Torah was given. When the people of Israel were in the Holy Land, they eliminated all those illnesses and sufferings from the world through rituals and sacrifices. Now, the Messiah removes them from inhabitants of the world, until a person departs from this world and receives punishment, as has been said. Except for the extremely wicked, who are sent deep within Hell, into those other compartments, where they are punished severely for the extreme filth of the soul; then intense fire is kindled to consume that filth. Woe to the soul who suffers that punishment! Furthermore, angels of destruction harass them with rods of fire to shake out that filth. Woe to the soul who suffers that punishment! Happy are those who keep the commandments of Torah!” (Zohar 2:212a, cf. Zohar Ḥadash 56c).

For this command which I charge you today is not too wondrous for you nor is it distant. It is not in the heavens, to say, “Who will go up for us to the heavens and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?” And it is not beyond the sea, to say, “Who will cross over for us beyond the sea and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?” But the word is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).

You are good and do good. Teach me Your statutes. The arrogant plaster me with lies—I with whole heart keep Your decrees. Their heart grows dull like fat—as for me, in Your teaching I delight. It was good for me that I was afflicted, so that I might learn Your statutes. Better for me Your mouth’s teaching than thousands of pieces of silver and gold (Psalms 119:68-72).

“Rabbi Abba said, ‘Yose, my son, I will tell you what happened to me with the Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai]. One day we were walking in the valley of Ono, delving into Torah that whole day. Due to the intensity of the sun, we sat ourselves down in the cleft of a certain rock [this recalls the cleft of the rock where God revealed His back to Moses (Exodus 33:22-23). Similarly, here, a profound mystery is revealed: the suffering of the righteous]. I said to him, ‘How is it that whenever the wicked proliferate in the world, the righteous among them are smitten on their account? For we have learned as follows: ‘For a generation’s חוֹבָא (ḥova), sin [lit., liability, debt], the righteous are seized.’ Why? If because they do not reprimand the world for their deeds, well, there are many who do reprimand but are not heeded, and the righteous are overwhelmed by them. And if it is so that there will be no one to protect the world, then let them not die and not be seized for the sins [of the world], since the righteous find joy in the destruction [of the wicked].’

He replied, ‘For a generation’s sin, the righteous are surely seized, and we have established these matters. But when the righteous are seized with illness or afflictions, it is in order to atone for the world; then all sins of the generation are purged. How do we know this? From all members of the body. When all the members are in distress—grave illness prevailing over them—one member must suffer so that all of them may be healed. Which one is it? The arm. The arm is struck and blood is drawn from it, and then all members of the body are healed.

Similarly, inhabitants of the world are bodily members, interlinked. When the blessed Holy One wishes to grant healing to the world, He strikes one righteous person [Israel] among them, and through him provides healing to all. How do we know this? As is written: But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquities, and by his wound we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). And by his wound—bloodletting, like someone letting blood from his arm. By that wound we are healed—healing comes to us, to all members of the body.

Never is a righteous person smitten except to provide healing to the generation and to atone for them. This is the mystery of ‘a righteous one who suffers,’ for the Other Side prefers most of all that Judgment should overwhelm a righteous one—for then he does not care about the whole world and ignores them because of the joy of dominating him [cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 1a-b]. Yet that righteous person attains supreme dominion in this world and in the world that is coming. As for ‘a righteous one who prospers,’ this is because the blessed Holy One does not care to atone for the world’” (Zohar 3:217b-18b).

You May Say that Esther has a Bad Reputation yet She was Worthy that the Holy Spirit be Clothed by Her

??????????“Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yehotsadaq: By a majority vote, it was resolved in the upper chambers of the house of Nitza in Lydda that in every law of Torah, if a man is commanded: ‘Transgress and do not suffer death’ he may transgress and not suffer death, except for idolatry, incest [including adultery], and murder… But did not Esther transgress publicly?—Abbaye answered: Esther was merely soil [i.e., only the passive object of the king’s embraces]. But their personal pleasure is different; so here too [the king made Esther transgress for his personal pleasure, not because he desired her to violate her religion]” (BT Sanhedrin 74a-b).

“Rabbi Zera said: Why was Esther compared to a doe [see BT Megillah 15b]? To tell you that just as a doe has a narrow womb and is desirable to her mate at all times as at the first time, so was Esther precious to King Ahasuerus at all times as at the first time” (BT Yoma 29b).

The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she won his grace and favor more than all the other virgins (Esther 2:17). Rav said, ‘If he wished to taste the flavor of a virgin he tasted it; the flavor of a married woman, he tasted it'” (BT Megillah 13a, cf. Zohar 3:58b).

[The Faithful Shepherd said:] ‘Rabbis: We are commanded to punish whoever defames someone’s character, as is written, And they shall fine him a hundred weights of silver and give it to the young woman’s father, for he put out a bad name for a virgin in Israel (Deuteronomy 22:19). This applies to after the wedding, since he says, ‘I found no signs of virginity for your daughter’ (ibid. 17). Not all bad names are alike, since the scouts who put out a bad name on the land were punished for it by dying and not meriting her, and a woman is as earth like the explanation that Esther was [merely] earth.

You may say that Esther has a bad reputation, that she was defiled with Ahasuerus, yet she was worthy that the Holy Spirit be clothed by her, as is written, Esther donned מַלְכוּת (Malkhut), royal, garb (Esther 5:1). Yet the blessed Holy One said, I am YHWH: that is My Name: and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images (Isaiah 42:8). [And yet,] the Holy Spirit is the Shekhinah, a name that was clothed by Esther.’

… The Masters of Mishnah say: It is said of the Matronita: and מַלְכוּתוֹ (malkhuto), His kingdom, rules over all (Psalms 103:19). After Esther donned [royal garb, i.e., Shekhinah/Malkhut] she ruled over Ahasuerus and his people, and it is said of them, [And the rest of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces assembled and defended their lives and had respite from their enemies] and killed of foes, [seventy-five thousand, but they did not lay hands on the spoils] (Esther 9:16). If you say that [Ahasuerus] coupled with her, perish the thought, though they were in the same house. Rather it was like Joseph [and the wife of Potiphar] of whom it says, and she laid out his garment by her (Genesis 39:16). בִּגְדוֹ (Bigdo), his garment—similarly treacherous dealers have dealt very בָּגָדוּ (bagadu), treacherously (Isaiah 24:16) [on the numerous parallels between the stories of Joseph and Esther, see BT Megillah 13b;  Midrash Abba Guryon 11b; Panim Aherot B, 64, 66, 72; Ester Rabbah 7:7].

There is a great סִתְרָא (sitra), mystery, here, which is why אֶסְתֵּר (Ester), Esther, is derived from סֵתֶר (seter), secret, as is written, You are סֵתֶר (seter), a hiding place, for me (Psalms 32:7)[cf. BT Ḥullin 139b], since the Shekhinah hid her from Ahasuerus and gave him a demoness instead while she returned to Mordecai’s arm. And Mordecai, who knew the explicit Name and the seventy tongues, did all this with wisdom [on having the knowledge of seventy languages, see BT Megillah 13b; Sanhedrin 17a]. And thus the Masters of Mishnah said a man must coo with his wife before he unites with her, for perhaps she has been swapped with a demonness [see BT Nedarim 20b]” (Zohar 3:276a-b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse, cf. Zohar 2:277a).

“יוֹם הַכִּפֻּרִים (Yom ha-Kippurim), the Day of Atonements (Leviticus 23:27)—in the future we will delight in that day and transform it from suffering to delight [i.e., יוֹם כִּפּוּר (Yom Kippur), the Day of Atonement, will become יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים (yom ha-ki-Purim), the day like Purim (a joyous holiday)]… and just as on that day [the priest (Ḥesed)] adorns himself with the garments of atonement so too, regarding Esther it is written, she donned royal garb (Esther 5:1). Just as with these [white garments of the priest] he enters the innermost sanctuary [hoping to obtain atonement for Israel], so too, she stood in the inner court of the king’s house… and she found favor in his eyes (ibid. 2) [cf. Zohar 3:67a; ibid. 109a: ‘And with each and every mere (mention of), הַמֶּלֶךְ (ha-melekh), the king (in the Book of Esther), this is the blessed Holy One’].

Now, what caused the Shekhinah to suffer exile? The mystery of the matter: And so, I shall come to the king not according to rule (Esther 4:16). Because she came without her husband, of whom it says, at His right hand was a fiery law (Deuteronomy 33:2). They abandoned Torah and this caused the destruction of the First Temple and the Second Temple, as is written, and if I perish, I perish! [alluding to two destructions] (Esther 4:16).

Nevertheless, even though she entered without her husband, [namely] words of Torah, she still entered with the [merit of the] patriarchs [who are]: three days, night and day (ibid.), for which she fasted. They were witnesses that the young woman went before the king, as it says, and in this fashion would the young woman come to the king (ibid. 2:13). She who went in to the king indeed remained a virgin young woman, for no man knew her other than her husband.

… Regarding this it is written, and he became guardian to Hadassah (Esther 2:7) [cf. BT Megillah 13a]—[Mordecai] was faithful to her, and she was faithful to him, as is written: and Esther did what Mordecai said, for she was under his guardianship (ibid. 2:20)” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 21, 57b).

A Slanderer Separates an Intimate

“The sin of the primordial serpent: he joined below and it separated above. So he caused what he caused to the world. For one should separate below and join above… one should realize that יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (YHWH Elohim) is entirely one, indivisible. יְהוָה (YHWH) is הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim). Once one realizes all is one and does not impose division, even that Other Side will disappear from the world, not be drawn below” (Zohar 1:12b).

“One might ask: Why do we pray to the blessed Holy One on several rungs? Sometimes one prays through a certain sefirah or quality, sometimes one’s prayer is to the right, as it says: ‘He who desires to become wise should turn to the south’ (BT Bava Batra 25b). Sometimes to the left: ‘He who desires to become rich [in Knowledge and Understanding] should turn to the north’ (ibid.). Sometimes to the middle pillar, sometimes to the Righteous One. Every prayer goes up to a certain rung but יהוה (YHWH) is truly in every sefirah” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar Ḥadash 109a).

“You might suggest that we have a problem here, since it is written that all the sacrifices are to יהוה (YHWH), and ask how, therefore, it can be said that there is a separation of the letters. This is said about those stages that were created and called by His name and not that they are He Himself, as is written: Everyone that is called by My name: for My glory I have created him, I have formed him; yea, I have made him (Isaiah 43:7). And there are the four letters of יהוה (YHWH) of אֲצִילוּת (Atsilut), Emanation, containing no separation nor cessation, for they are as fountains watering trees. And regarding those that were created they are likened, the י (yod) to a head, the ו (vav) to a body, while the ה ה (hehe) to ten fingers. But the Cause of Causes, Who is over everything is called יהוה (YHWH), of Him is said: To whom then will you liken Me, that I should be equal? says the Holy One (Isaiah 40:25). To whom then will you liken God or what likeness will you compare to Him? (Isaiah 40:18) For I am יְהוָה (YHWH) I do not change (Malachi 3:6). The sins of the creatures do not touch Him, nor separate in Him the י (yod) from the ה (he), nor the ו (vav) from the ה (he). For there is no separation in Him and it is said of Him: nor shall evil dwell with You (Psalms 5:5). He rules over all and there is none who rules over Him. He comprehends all and there is none who comprehends Him. And He is not called by יהוה (YHWH) nor by all the other names, but is known by His light that spreads over them. And when He departs from them, He has, of Himself, no name at all: deep deep, who can find Him? (Ecclesiastes 7:24)” (Zohar 3:224a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“The Holy Ancient One, concealed of all concealed. Separate, separated from all, yet not separate; for all are joined to it, and it is joined to all. It itself is all! … The light of each and every spark, called Adornments of the King, Crowns of the King—each one shines into, joins onto the light within, within, no separating without. So all rises to one level, all is crowned with one word; no separating one from the other. It and Its name is one” (Zohar 3:288a, 296b Idra Zuta).

The Earth Opened its Mouth and Swallowed Them Measure for Measure

url-1And the human knew Eve his woman and she conceived and bore קַיִן (qayin), Cain, and she said, I have got me, a man with YHWH. And she bore as well his brother הֶבֶל (hevel), Abel, and Abel became a herder of sheep while Cain was a tiller of the soil. And it happened in the course of time that Cain brought from the fruit of the soil an offering to YHWH. And Able too had brought from the choice firstlings of his flock, and YHWH regarded Abel and his offering but He did not regard Cain and his offering, and Cain was very incensed, and his face fell… And Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field Cain rose against Abel his brother and killed him. And YHWH said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said,“I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” And He said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cry out to me from the soil. And so, cursed shall you be by the soil that gaped with its mouth to take your brother’s blood from your hand.” And Cain said to YHWH, “My punishment is too great to bear” (Genesis 4:1-11).

“From the filth [injected into Eve by the primordial serpent] Cain came forth and killed Abel the shepherd, of whom it is written: For he is but flesh (Genesis 6:3). בְּשַׁגַּם (Beshagam), for (ibid.), is Abel, and he killed him, as is known. However, בְּשַׁגַּם (beshagam), for, [he is but flesh. Let his days be a hundred and twenty years] is certainly [a hint to] Moses and he was firstborn of the [primordial] human [בְּשַׁגַּם (beshagam), for, is numerically equivalent to מֹשֶׁה (moshe), Moses, see BT Ḥullin 139b].

And with all this, for the sake of covering the nakedness of his father, Moses took the daughter of Jethro to be his wife. Of Jethro, it is written: And the sons of the Kenite, the father-in-law of Moses (Judges 1:16)—this has already been explained [see Sifrei Bemidbar, Be-Ha’alotekha, 78; Shemot Rabbah 27:7; Mekhilta Yitro, Amaleq, 1; Tanḥuma, Shemot, 11; cf. BT Baba Batra 109b; Zohar 3:215b (RM)]. Why was Jethro called Kenite? Because he detached himself from Cain, as is written: And Heber הַקֵּינִי (ha-qeni), the Kenite, had separated from קַיִן (qayin), Cain (Judges 4:11)” (Zohar 1:28b, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

“And they taught about Jethro: Why is his name called ‘Kenite?’ Because הַקֵּינִי (ha-qeni), the Kenite, had separated from קַיִן (qayin), Cain (Judges 4:11). The Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai] rose and said: Therefore it is said: קָנִיתִי (Qaniti)I have got me, a man with YHWH (Genesis 4:1), for [Eve] saw through the Holy Spirit that in the future [Jethro’s] sons would sit in the Chamber of Hewn Stone [meeting place of the Sanhedrin, see BT Sotah 11a]” (Zohar 3:215b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

He who sheds human blood by humans [his blood will be shed] (Genesis 9:6)—that very man himself. The one slain will kill the one who killed him, according to ‘Because you drowned [them], they drowned you…’ (M Avot 2:7). Thus Abel killed Cain in the days of Moses, and the death of Korah by swallowing, measure for measure, is known. Like Korah, test and demand with warp and woof and you will find a wondrous secret [i.e., comb the fabric of the text (Numbers 16:1) lengthwise and breadthwise]” (Rabbi Menaḥem Tsiyyoni, Sefer Tsiyyoni, 82, Qoraḥ):

וַיִּקַּח קֹרַח בֶּן יִצְהָר בֶּן קְהָת בֶּן לֵוִי (Va-yiqaḥ qoraḥ ben yitshar ben qehat ben levi), and Korah son of Izhar son of Kohath son of Levi, and Datham and Abiram sons of Eliab and On son of Peleth sons of Reuben, took up, and they rose before Moses, and two hundred fifty men of the Israelites, community chieftains, persons called up to meeting, men of renown. And they assembled against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have too much! For all the community, they are all holy, and in their midst is YHWH, and why should you raise yourselves up over YHWH’s assembly?” And Moses heard and fell on his face… The ground that was under them split apart, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households and every human being that was Korah’s, and all his possessions (Numbers 16:1-4; ibid., 32)—קַיִן (qayin), Cainהֶבֶל (hevel), Abel.

“‘Rabbi Akiva said: The company of Korah has no share in the world that is coming. Rabbi Eli’ezer said: YHWH kills and gives life, brings down to Sheol and raises up (1 Samuel 2:6)’ (M Sanhedrin 10:3). Our Rabbis taught: for it is said, And the earth covered over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly (Numbers 16:33)—this is Rabbi Akiva’s view. Rabbi Yehudah son of Batira said: They are as a lost article, which is sought, for it is said, I have wandered like a lost sheep. Seek Your servant, for Your commands I did not forget (Psalms 119:176).

Korah took (Numbers 16:1). Resh Lakish said: He took a bad bargain [or: purchase] for himself, being plucked out of Israel [קֹרַח (qora), Korah, puns on קֵרֵחַ (qerea), baldness]. Son of יִצְהָר (yitshar), Izhar (ibid.)—a son who incensed the whole world with himself as the [heat of] צֹהַרִים (tsoharim), noon. Son of קְהָת (qehat)Kohath (ibid.)—a son who קֵהֶה (qeheh), set on edge, the teeth of his progenitors [i.e., who disgraced his parents]. Son of לֵוִי (levi), Levi (ibid.)—a son who joined the לְוָיָה (levayah), retinue, of Hell. Then why not say too ‘son of יַעֲקֹב (ya’aqov), Jacob,’ [implying] a son who עַקָב (eqev), marched, himself into Hell?—Rabbi Shemu’el son of Rabbi Yitsḥaq answered: Jacob supplicated for himself [not to be counted amongst Korah’s ancestors], as is written, In their council let me never set foot, their assembly my presence shun (Genesis 49:6): In their council let me never set foot—the spies [in no case is the genealogy of the spies traced to Jacob (Rashi)]; their assembly my presence shun—to the company of Korah. דָתָן (Datan), Datham [Korah’s ally], (ibid.)—stepped over the דָת (dat), law, of God; אֲבִירָם (Aviram), Abiram (ibid.)—stoutly refused to repent; אוֹן (on), On (ibid.)—he sat in אֹנינוֹת (oninot), lamentations; פֶּלֶת (pelet), Peleth (ibid.)—פֶּלֶאוֹת (peleot), wonders, were done for him [since he abandoned the conspiracy, and was miraculously saved from its fate]; son of רְאוּבֵן (reuven), Reuben—a son who רֵאָה (re’ah), saw, and הַבִין (havin), understood.

Rav said: On son of Peleth was saved by his wife. She said to him, ‘What does it matter to you? Whether the one [Moses] remains master or the other [Korah] becomes master, you are but a disciple.’ He replied, ‘But what can I do? I have taken part in their counsel, and they have sworn me [to be] with them.’ She said, ‘I know that they are all a holy community, as is written, For all the community, they are all holy (Numbers 16:3). Sit here, and I will save you.’ She gave him wine to drink, intoxicated him and laid him down within [the tent]. Then she sat down there at the entrance and loosened her hair. Whoever came [to summon him] saw her and retreated.

Meanwhile, Korah’s wife joined [the rebels] and said to him [Korah], ‘See what Moses has done. He himself has become king; his brother he appointed High Priest; his brother’s sons he has made the vice High Priests. If terumah is brought, he decrees, Let it be for the priest; if the tithe is brought, which belongs to you [being a Levite], he orders, Give a tenth part thereof to the priest. Moreover, he has had your hair cut off [in accordance with the purification rites of the Levites (see Numbers 8:7)], and makes sport of you as though you were dirt; for he cast his eyes on your hair [i.e., he is envious].’

He said to her, ‘But he has done likewise!’ She replied, ‘Since all the greatness was his, he said also, Let me die with the Philistines! (Judges 16:30) [this was used proverbially to denote readiness to suffer, so that others might suffer too—Moses, retaining all the greatness himself, did not mind shaving his own hair off, seeing that he had caused all the rest to do so, thus depriving them of their beauty]. Moreover, he has commanded you, Set [fringes] of indigo wool [in the corners of your garments (see Numbers 15:38)]; but if there is virtue in indigo wool, then bring forth indigo wool, and clothe your entire academy with it.’

Thus it is written, Every wise woman has built her house (Proverbs 14:1)—wife of On son of Peleth; and Folly with her own hands destroys it (ibid.)—Korah’s wife” (BT Sanhedrin 109b-110a).

“Come and see: The Levites, who come from the side of Judgment, are not purified until their hair is removed, as is written: Thus you shall do to them to purify them: sprinkle on them expiation water and have them pass a razor over all their flesh (Numbers 8:7). And in order for them to be further assuaged, the priest, who comes from the side of Ḥesed, must elevate them, as is written: Aaron shall make of the Levites an elevation offering before YHWH (ibid., 11)…

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘The greatest of all Levites was Korah, whom the blessed holy One made below corresponding to the pattern above, calling him קֹרַח (qoraḥ), Korah… He is קֵרֵחַ (qereaḥ), bald (Leviticus 13:40). When Korah saw his head hairless and saw Aaron bedecked with royal adornments, he felt belittled and was jealous of Aaron [cf. TanḥumaQora 3; Tanḥuma (Buber), Qoraḥ 6; Bemibar Rabbah 18:4]. The blessed Holy One said to him, ‘I made you corresponding to the pattern above. You do not wish to ascend among those above? Go down and be among those below!—as is written: and they go down alive to Sheol (Numbers 16:30). What is Sheol? Hell, where the wicked cry out and no one has compassion on them. Yet they are destined to ascend and be revived when the blessed Holy One awakens His people and revives them, as is written: YHWH kills and gives life, brings down to Sheol and raises up (1 Samuel 2:6)” (Zohar 3:49a).

“Every conflict that is for the sake of heaven is destined to endure, while any conflict not for the sake of heaven is not destined to endure. Which conflict is for the sake of heaven? The conflict between Hillel and Shammai. Which conflict is not for the sake of heaven? The conflict of Korah and his entire band” (M Avot 5:17, cf. Liqqutei Moharan 64:4).

“In the act of Creation a conflict arose between left and right, and in that conflict aroused by the left, Hell emerged, clinging there. The central pillar, who is the third day, entered between them, mediating the conflict, reconciling the two sides. Hell descended, left merged in right, and peace prevailed over all.

Similarly the conflict between Korah and Aaron was left against right. Moses, contemplating the act of Creation, said, ‘It is fitting that I mediate the conflict between left and right.’ He endeavored to reconcile them, but the left was unwilling, and Korah stiffened his resistance. He [Moses] said, ‘Hell must certainly join in the heat of the conflict of the left. Since he does not want to join above, merging in the right, he will certainly descend below by the intensity of his rage.’ Korah did not want this conflict to be harmonized by Moses because it was not for the sake of heaven; he cared nothing about the supernal glory and denied the act of Creation. As soon as Moses saw that he had denied the act of Creation and been thrust outside, Moses became very angry (Numbers 16:5). Moses became very angry because they had denied the act of Creation. Korah denied everything above and below, as is written: who strove against Moses and Aaron as part of Korah’s band when they strove against YHWH (ibid., 26:9), below and above. So he joined what befitted him [i.e., Hell, Sheol].

A conflict arrayed as above, ascending, not descending, established rightly, is the conflict of Hillel and Shammai. The blessed holy One mediated between them, harmonizing them. This was a conflict for the sake of heaven, so Heaven [Tif’eret] mediated the conflict, and upon this conflict the world was established. This resembled the act of Creation, whereas Korah totally denied the act of Creation, disputing heaven, seeking to deny the words of Torah. He certainly adhered to Hell, so there he clung. This secret appears in The Book of Adam. When darkness aroused, it aroused intensely, thereby creating Hell, clinging to it in that conflict. As seething fury subsided, conflict of a different type arose: a conflict of love. There were two conflicts: one, beginning; one, ending. This is the way of the righteous: beginning harshly, ending gently [cf. BT Qiddushin 30b]. Korah was the beginning of the conflict: seething in wrath, he was compelled to cling to Hell. Shammai was the end of the conflict, when wrath subsides and one must arouse the conflict of love and be reconciled by heaven” (Zohar 1:17a-b).

“Within Torah is power of the right, as is said: from His right hand, a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2), and left is included in right. Whoever makes right left, and left right, is as if he destroys the world.

Come and see: Aaron is right; Levites are left. Korah sought to change right into left, so he was punished. Furthermore, he possessed the לָשׁוֹן הָרַע (lashon ha-ra), evil tongue, and he was punished entirely.

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Left is always included in right. Korah sought to change the arrangement of above and below, so he was eliminated from above and below.

Korah took (Numbers 16:1). What is meant by took? He took evil counsel for himself. If anyone chases after something that is not his, it escapes him; and what is more, he loses what he has. Korah pursued that which was not his; he lost his own without attaining the other [cf. Tosefta Sotah 4:19; BT Sotah 9b; Bereshit Rabbah 20:5; Mishnat Rabbi Eli’ezer 18, p . 334].

Come and see: The world exists only by peace. When the blessed Holy One created the world, it could not endure until peace came and settled upon all. What is it? Sabbath, which is peace of those above and below. Then the world endured. And whoever quarrels with it will be eliminated from the world [cf. M Avot 1:18]” (Zohar 3:176a).

“One who sees a crowd says, ‘Blessed is He who knows the secrets. Just as their faces are different one from the other, so are their opinions different one from the other” (JT Berakhot 9:1).

Whoever the Man Desiring Life Keep Your Tongue from Evil and Your Lips from Speaking Deceit

527143_10152004016750160_587940265_nA lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a smooth mouth pushes one down (Proverbs 26:28).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yose son of Zimra: What is: What can it give you, what can it add, a tongue of deceit? (Psalms 120:3). The blessed Holy One said to the tongue: All members of the human body are standing, you are lying; all members of the human body are outside, you are guarded inside; not only that, but I surrounded you with two walls, one of bone and one of flesh; What can it give you, what can it add, a tongue of deceit! And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yose son of Zimra: One who bears evil tales almost denies the Root, as is said: Those who said, ‘Let us make our tongue great, our own lips are with us—who is master to us?’—further did Rabbi Yoḥanan say in the name of Rabbi Yose son of Zimra: Any one who bears evil tales will be visited by the plague of skin blanch, as is said: Who defames in secret his fellow, him אַצְמִית (atsmit), shall I destroy (Psalms 101:5). And there it is said: לַצְּמִיתֻת (La-tsemitut), irreversibly (Leviticus 25:30) which we translate as: לַחֲלוּטִין (la-ḥalutin), absolutely, and we learnt: one afflicted with skin blanch that is shut up differs from one afflicted with skin blanch that is certified unclean only in respect of unkempt hair and torn garments [cf. BT Megillah 8b]. Resh Laqish said: What is the meaning of: This shall be the teaching concerning הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one struck with skin blanch (Leviticus 14:2)? This shall be the teaching concerning מּוֹצִיא שֵׁם רַע (motsi shem ra), one who brings out an evil name. Resh Laqish said further: What is the meaning of: If a snake bites with no snake-charm, there is no advantage for the expert of incantations (Ecclesiastes 10:11)?—at some future time all the animals will assemble and come to the serpent and say: The lion attacks and devours; the wolf tears and consumes; but what profit do you have? And he will answer: What benefit has he who uses his tongue? Resh Laqish said further: Whoever speaks with an evil tongue, his guilt reaches the heavens, as is said: They put their mouth up to the heavens, and their tongue goes over the earth (Psalms 73:9).

Rav Ḥisda said in the name of Mar ‘Uqba: One who speaks with an evil tongue deserves to be stoned with stones. It is written here: Him אַצְמִית (atsmit), shall I destroy (Psalms 101:5), and it is written there: צָמְתוּ (Tsametu) They have cut off, my life in the dungeon, and cast stones upon me (Lamentations 3:53). Rav Ḥisda said further in the name of Mar ‘Uqba: Of him who speaks with an evil tongue, the blessed Holy One says: He and I cannot live together in the world, as is said: Who defames in secret his fellow, him shall I destroy. The haughty of eyes and the proud of heart, him shall I not suffer (Psalms 101:5). Do not read: אֹתוֹ (otho), [himshall I not suffer, but אִתּוֹ (itto) [with him] can I not suffer. Some refer this to the arrogant.

Rav Ḥisda said further in the name of Mar ‘Uqba: One who speaks with an evil tongue, the blessed Holy One says to the prince of Hell: I will be against him from above, you be against him from below, and we will condemn him, as is said: A warrior’s honed arrows with broom-wood coals (ibid. 120:4). Arrows means nothing else but the evil tongue, as is said: Their tongue is a sharpened arrow; it speaks deceit: [one speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, but in his heart he lies in wait] (Jeremiah 9:7); and warrior means only the blessed Holy One, as is said: YHWH shall go forth as a mighty man (Isaiah 42:13); and broom-wood coals is Hell. Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥanina said: What is the remedy for those who speak with an evil tongue? If he be a disciple of the wise, let him engage in Torah, as is said: Healing speech is a tree of life (Proverbs 15:4), and לָשׁוֹן (lashon), speech, here means לָשׁוֹן הָרַע (lashon ha-ra), the evil tongue, as is said: Their tongue is a sharpened חֵץ (ḥets), arrow (Jeremiah 9:7), and עֵץ (ets), tree, means only Torah, as is said: עֵץ חַיִּים (ets ḥayyim), a tree of life, is she to those who grasp her, [and those who hold her are deemed happy—מְאֻשָּׁר (me’ushar), happy, is numerically equivalent to יִשְׂרָאֵל (yisra’el), Israel (Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, Ḥayyei ha-Olam ha-Ba, 6b)] (Proverbs 3:18)—but if he be an ignorant person, let him become humble, as is said: But perverse speech breaks the spirit (Proverbs 15:4). Rabbi Aḥa son of Rabbi Ḥanina said: If he has slandered already, there is no remedy for him, for King David, in his holy spirit, has cut him off already, as is said: YHWH will cut off all smooth-talking lips, the tongue that speaks of big things (Psalms 12:4). Nevertheless, what shall be his remedy so that he may not come to [use] an evil tongue? If he be a disciple of the wise, let him engage in Torah, and if he be an ignorant person, let him humble himself, as is said: But perverse speech breaks the spirit.

The academy of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: Whoever speaks with an evil tongue increases his guilt even up to [the degree of] the three [cardinal] transgressions: idolatry, incest [including adultery], and the shedding of blood. It is said here: the tongue that speaks of גְּדֹלוֹת (gidolot), big things (Psalms 12:4), and it is written of idolatry: This people has committed a גְדֹלָה (gedolah), great, offense [they have made themselves gods of gold] (Exodus 32:31). Of incest is written: How could I do this great evil? (Genesis 39:9). And of the shedding of blood it is written: My punishment is too great to bear (ibid. 4:13). Perhaps גְּדֹלוֹת (gidolot), big things, refers to two [transgression of the three]? Which of them would you exclude?

In the West [i.e., the Land of Israel] they say: Talk about third [persons] kills three: him who tells [the slander], him who accepts it, and him about whom it is told. Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥanina said: What is the meaning of: Death and life are in the hand of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21)? Has the tongue ‘a hand’? It tells you that just as the hand can kill, so can the tongue. One might say that just as the hand can kill only one near it, thus also the tongue can kill only one near it, therefore it says: Their tongue is a sharpened arrow (Jeremiah 19:7). Then one might assume that just as an arrow kills only within forty or fifty cubits, thus also the tongue kills only up to forty or fifty cubits, therefore it says: They put their mouth up to the heavens, and their tongue goes over the earth (Psalms 73:9). But since it is written already: They put their mouth up to the heavens, why was it necessary to say also: Their tongue is a sharpened arrow (Jeremiah 19:7)?—this is what we are informed: That [the tongue] kills as an arrow. But once it is written: Their tongue is a sharpened arrow, why was it necessary to state: Death and life are in the hand of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21)?—it is in accord with Rava; for Rava said: He who wants to live [can find life] through the tongue [by murmuring Torah (Rashi)]; he who wants to die [can find death] through the tongue. What constitutes an evil tongue?—Rabbah said: For example [to say] there is fire in the house of So-and-so. Abayye said: What did he do? He just gave information?—rather, when he utters that in slanderous fashion: ‘Where else should there be fire if not in the house of So-and-so? [It implies] there is always meat and fish [available].’ Rabbah said: Whatsoever is said in the presence of the person concerned is not considered an evil tongue. Abayye said to him: But then all the more so it is impudence and an evil tongue!—he replied: I hold with Rabbi Yose, for Rabbi Yose said: I have never said a word and looked behind my back.

Rabbah son of Rav Ḥuna said: Whatsoever is said before three is not considered an evil tongue. Why? Your friend has a friend, and your friend’s friend has a friend [i.e., making his statement before three he expects their spreading it in his name, as something that will become known]. When Rav Dimi came [from the Land of Israel] he said: What is the meaning of: Who greets [lit., blesses], his neighbor in a loud voice first thing in the morning, it is reckoned to him a curse (Proverbs 27:14). It refers, for example, to the case of one who happened to stay in a house where they laboured much on his behalf, and next morning he goes out into the street and says: May the Compassionate bless So-and-so, who laboured so much on my behalf. Whereupon people will hear it and come and plunder him.

Rav Dimi, brother of Rav Safra, learnt: Let no man ever talk in praise of his fellow, for through [talking in] his praise he will come to disparage him [i.e., he will say: ‘He is a mensch with the exception of this or that bad habit’]. Some there are who say: Rav Dimi, brother of Rav Safra, was ill. Rav Safra entered to inquire about his state of health. He said, May it come [home] to me that I have kept whatever the Rabbis have enjoined. He said to him: Have you also kept [their command]: Let no man ever talk in praise of his fellow, for through talking in his praise he will come to disparage him? He answered: I have not heard it, for had I heard it, would have kept it” (BT Arakhin 15b).

Place, O YHWH, a watch on my mouth, a guard at the door of my lips (Psalms 141:3).

“Rabbi Ḥiyya opened with the following verse: You shall not curse the deaf… (Leviticus 19:14)—according to its literal meaning, but from this entire portion we learn other matters, and all are interdependent. Come and see: Whoever curses his fellow in his presence, humiliating him, is as though he spills blood, as we have established [see BT Bava Metsi’a 58b]. This verse, however, refers to when one’s fellow is not with him and he curses him—that word ascends. ‘There is not a single word issuing from one’s mouth that lacks a voice. This voice ascends and is joined by many quaestors, until it rises and arouses the place of the Great Abyss, as has been established. How many are roused against this person!

Woe to one from whose mouth issues an evil word, as has been established. Before the blind you shall not put a stumbling block (ibid.)—according to its literal meaning; and they have established it as referring to one who causes another to sin [see BT Pesaḥim 22b], and also to one who strikes his grown son [see BT Mo’ed Qatan 17a]. Before the blind you shall not put a stumbling block—referring to one who has not attained the qualification to render legal decisions and yet does so, as we have learned [see BT Sotah 22a, cf. Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Talmud Torah 5:4], for it is written for many the victims she has felled… (Proverbs 7:26). This one transgresses and before the blind you shall not put a stumbling block, for he causes his fellow to stumble in the world that is coming [cf. BT Gittin 43a: This stumbling block is in your hands (Isaiah 3:6). One does not understand words of Torah unless one has stumbled over them]” (Zohar 3:84b–85b).

Whoever the man desiring life, who loves long days to see good, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit (Psalms 34:13–14, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 19b).

“Do not read You are עַמִּי (ammi), My people (Jeremiah 30:3), but rather You are עִמִּי (immi), with Me, becoming My partner! Just as I made heaven and earth by speaking, as is said: By the word of YHWH, the heavens were made (Psalms 33:6), so do you. Happy are those engaged in Torah!” (Zohar 1:5a).

Speaking Deceit

1508654364And he shall call, “Unclean! Unclean!” (Leviticus 13:45).

“All the afflictions man sees, outside his own affliction” (M Nega’im 2:5).

“He who declares ‘unfit’ is unfit and never speaks in praise. And Shemu’el said: With his own blemish he [stigmatizes others as] unfit” (BT Qiddushin 70a).

“It has been taught: The people of Israel are called holiness, and since they are holiness, one is forbidden to call his fellow a shameful name or to invent a nickname for him. The punishment for this is severe, all the more for other words. It has been taught: It is written, Keep your tongue from evil… [and your lips from speaking deceit] (Psalms 34:14). What does מֵרָע (me-ra), from evil, mean? That because of evil speech, מַרְעִין (mar’in), disease, descends to the world. Rabbi Yose said, ‘Whoever calls his fellow something he is not, or insults him, will be punished for something he did not do. For Rabbi Ḥiyya said in the name of Rabbi Ḥizqiyah, ‘Whoever calls his fellow wicked is cast down into Hell and struck on his jaws—except for those who are impudent toward Torah, whom one is permitted to call wicked.’

A certain man cursed his fellow. Rabbi Yeisa passed by and said to him, ‘You have acted like the wicked!’ [The man] brought him before Rabbi Yehudah. [Rabbi Yeisa] said to him, ‘I didn’t say ‘wicked,’ but ‘like the wicked,’ exhibiting behavior like the wicked; but I didn’t say that he was wicked! Rabbi Yehudah came and put the case before Rabbi El’azar, who said, ‘Surely, he is not guilty! How do we know? As is written: YHWH was like an enemy (Lamentations 2:5)—like an enemy, and not an enemy. For otherwise, not a stump of Israel would have remained in the world. Similarly, She has become like a widow (ibid. 1:1)—and not a widow; like a widow, [like a woman] whose husband has journeyed across the ocean and she waits for him. Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘From here it is proven—the essence of all—as is written: upon the image of the throne, an image like the appearance of a human (Ezekiel 1:26)—like the appearance of a human, and not the appearance of a human.’ Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘It is written: Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men (Song of Songs 2:3)—like an apple, and not an apple; like an apple, variegated in its colors, and in colors unified.’ Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘If I have come here just to hear these words, it is enough for me!” (Zohar 2:122a, cf. ibid. 3:84b–85b).