The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: מִשְׁנָה‎

Just as Big Fish Swallow Up Small Fish

Talmud Teacher

Tanna’im and Amora’im, you come from the aspect of the qualities of the blessed Holy One. You have labored much to purify my daughter the Halakhah [Malkhut] from the husks of the mixed multitude, which are the evil questions that cannot be interpreted or explained away. Of them it says: The crooked cannot תְקֹן (teqon), turn, straight nor can the lack be counted (Ecclesiastes 1:15). But תִּיקוּ (tiqu), ‘It is undecided,’ applies to them [a phrase employed in the Gemara and interpreted as an acronym: תִּשְׁבִּי יְתָרֵץ קֻשְׁיוֹת וְאִבַּעְיוֹת (Tishbi yetarets qushyot ve-iba’eyot), the Tishbite (i.e., Elijah) will resolve difficult questions and problems]. Anything undecided concerning a prohibition is handled as a stricture. It is a תִּיקּוּן (tiqqun), correction, without final ן (nun), [indicating] it can not be corrected, since it lacks final ן (nun), which is the World that is Coming [namely, Binah and Her ן״ (fifty) gates]. For תִּיקוּ (tiqu), undecided, in the World that is Coming is שְׁתִיקָה (shetiqah), silence, as in ‘שְׁתוֹק (shetoq), Silence! For so it arose in thought.’

There are questions that are the garments of the Halakhah of which it says filigree of gold—as is written: All the princess’s treasure is pearls, filigree of gold her raiment. [In embroidered stuff she is led to the king, maidens in train, her companions] (Psalms 45:14). You [Amorai’m], cut into several legal sentences and later fix and explain them away using various arguments.

If one chapter of the Mishnah is missing, and it has been maintained that something is missing from the Mishnah, you מְתַקְּנִין (me-taqqnin), repair it. [For example, where it is stated in the Gemara: ‘A clause has been omitted, for this is the way we have learned it’] such is a lack that can be counted. If a simpleton comes and spreads an evil report of the craftsman that cuts the garments, saying: The Torah is lacking, yet, it is written: The תּוֹרַת (torat), teaching, of YHWH is perfect (Psalms 19:8). Perfect—in all the members of the body, the 248 positive decrees, as is written: You are all beautiful, my love, and there is no flaw in you (Song of Songs 4:7); perfect—in Her garments. How can anything be lacking in the Mishnah?

Say to him: Look carefully and find the [missing] piece. You may find it mixed with other verses and Mishnahyot [meaning, it is the custom of Torah to be lacking in one place and abundant in another], for it is the way of the craftsman to cut garments into several pieces [and that which is missing in one place is filled out in another]. The disciples, inexperienced in connecting the Halakhah to those pieces confuse the sentences and questions, and cannot explain the dilemmas until the craftsman comes and explains all the doubts they have. At that time, Halakhah, the princess [Malkhut], rises before the King, perfect in everything, in body, garments and jewelry. And in it is fulfilled: And I will see it, to remember the everlasting covenant (Genesis 9:16). Sometimes the craftsman has an experienced disciple whom he sends to correct them.

They all rose and said: Faithful Shepherd, surely you are the craftsman, for it says of you, ‘Moses received the Torah at Sinai’ (M Avot 1:1). From that time onward, everyone is your disciple, from Joshua to the end of all generations. This is what we learned, that he ‘handed it on to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets; [and the prophets handed it on to the men of the Great Assembly]’ to the end of all (ibid.). And who is your skilled disciple? We see that it has been said to let everything wait until Elijah comes” (Zohar 3:27b, Ra’aya Meheimna Tsav).

“We learned that fish and locusts do not require [ritual] slaughter [in order to be eaten, rather, it is their gathering which makes them permissible, see BT Ḥullin 27b]. Such are the Masters of Mishnah. They are consumed without slaughter [by the Angel of Death]. It says of them, And was gathered to his kinfolk (Genesis 49:33). Like fish of the sea live in the sea, so do the disciples of sages and Masters of Mishnah live in the sea—if they are separated from Torah they immediately die. תַּנִּינָא דְּמַתְנִיתִין (Tannina de-matnitin), Rehearser of Mishnah, wherein proliferate תַנִינֵי יַמָּא (taninei yamma), sea monsters. If those [beasts] who live on dry land [i.e., those without Torah and mitsvot] fall into the water but cannot swim they die. However, [only] the Masters of Kabbalah who are above all are אָדָם (adam), human [and know how to tread deep water, i.e., the sea of Torah and Her hidden depths, cf. BT Bava Metsi’a 114b; Keritot 6b]. Of them it says Hold sway over the fish of the sea and the fowl of the heavens (Genesis 1:26), who are מָארֵי מַתְנִיתִין תַּנִּינָיָּא (marei Matnitin tanninayya), Masters of Mishnah—sea monsters [who prey on small fish]. הַתַּנִּינִם הַגָּדוֹל (Ha-tanninim ha-gadol), the great sea monster (Genesis 1:21), is the נָחָשׁ בָּרִחַ (naḥash bariaḥ), fleeing serpent (Isaiah 27:1), corresponding to: וְהַבְּרִיחַ (ve-ha-beriaḥ), and the crossbar, in the middle board [shall מַבְרִחַ (maberiaḥ), shoot through, from end to end] (Exodus 26:28).

When תַּנִּינִם (tanninim), sea monsters [punning on תַּנָּאִים (tanna’im), Rehearsers]—the Masters of Mishnah—have a disagreement among them, asking each other difficult questions, [one then] swallows his colleague [as large fish swallow small fish]. This refers to a disciple unqualified to teach who teaches, which is punishable by death [cf. BT Sotah 22a: ‘Rav said, What is the meaning of the verse Many are those she has struck dead, numerous are her slain (Proverbs 7:26)? Many are those she has struck dead—this refers to a disciple unqualified to teach [to decide questions of law] who teaches. Numerous are her slain—this refers to a disciple qualified to teach who does not’; Zohar 1:5a; 3:84b–85b]. But if they are matched [both being big fish] and have an argument or difficulty, it says of them in the end, וָהֵב בְּסוּפָה (waheb be-sufah), against Waheb in a whirlwind (Numbers 21:14), which has been interpreted: אַהֲבָה בְּסוֹפָהּ (ahava be-sofah), love at its end (BT Qiddushin 30b) [cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 6a].

In the meantime a נוּנָא רַבָּא (nuna rabba), great fish, came [namely, Rav Hamnuna Saba], saying, ‘[Moses] Faithful Shepherd, אֵיתָן (etan), Staunch, is your settlement, and set in the rock your nest (Numbers 24:21). [The תַּנָּאִים (tanna’im), Rehearsers, say] תַּנְיָ (tanya), ‘It was taught‘ [and this] assists you because the fish have their nest in the Rock [Malkhut]. אֵיתָן (Eitan), staunch, is [the letters of] תַּנְיָ (tanya), ‘It was taught,’ rearranged; אֵתָנִים (etanim), Mighty (Job 12:19), is [the letters of] תַּנָּאִים (tanna’im), Rehearsers, rearranged. Beware of them, because you are heavy-mouthed and heavy-tongued (Exodus 4:10). And whoever wishes to attack the fish of the sea in the Rock—Masters of Mishnah, the תַּנָּאִים (Tanna’im)—needs to be fierce and of a sharp and polished tongue to bore to the great abyss which lies there.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end he shall speak, and not lie: [though he tarries, wait for him; because he will surely come, he will not delay] (Habakkuk 2:3). It has been explained ‘This verse pierces and descends to the very abyss’ (BT Sanhedrin 97b). Who is it that shall descend to the great abyss to find that time [of the End] but You, of whom it says, Your justice like the unending mountains, Your judgment, the great abyss (Psalms 36:7). Many Masters of Mishnah wanted to penetrate the depth of Halakhah to find there the time of the coming of redemption, but went down and did not come up [הֲלָכָה (halakhah), ‘ways of conduct,’ alludes to הַכַּלָה (ha-kalah), the Bride, i.e., Malkhut, Shekhinah]. Though their tongue was Like a hammer that shatters the rock in pieces (Jeremiah 23:29), their hammer was too weak and could not penetrate that Rock [to discover the End]. Whoever penetrates that Rock without permission, a serpent will come to bite him; others bore into Her until they reach the great abyss but do not come up from there [cf. Ecclesiastes 10:8: He who digs a pit will fall in it, and he who breaches a wall, a snake will bite him].’ …

And you [Moses, Faithful Shepherd] aid yourself by תַּנְיָא (tanya), ‘it was taught,’ more than all of them, since you are the Leviathan of the sea of Torah. For the master of all fishes is called לִוְיָתָן (Livyatan), Leviathan, named after Torah, of which it says, For they are a לִוְיַת (livyat), garland of grace, on your head (Proverbs 1:9). Because of you Man and beast YHWH rescues (Psalms 36:7). Man—of him it has been said [The Torah (is maintained by)] a man who dies in a tent (Numbers 19:14), and the Masters of Mishnah have taught that Torah does not remain except for one who kills himself for Her, and death is only poverty [cf. M Avot 6:4; BT Tamid 32a: ‘What shall a man do to live? Let him kill himself. What should a man do to kill himself? Let him keep himself alive’]. Beast—the ignorant, who are submissive like horses and mules to the Masters of Mishnah” (Zohar 3:278a–80b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

Second in Command

roman-vishniac“From forty–nine facets [of pure] and forty–nine facets [of impure] shine the Masters of מִשְׁנָה‎ (mishnah), Rehearsing, which is second to Halakhah, Her slavegirl [cf. Midrash Tehillim 12:4]. For Mordecai the Jew was מִשְׁנֶה (mishneh), second, to King Ahasuerus (Esther 10:3), like this Mishnah is second to the King. From him shine the Masters of Mishnah: like the splendour of the sky (Daniel 12:3)Halakhah, and She is a tradition to Moses from Sinai. She has very many young women, and they are the laws which have been decided. As it says, עֲלָמוֹת (alamot), young women, beyond number (Song of Songs 6:8). And She [Halakhah] is above all of them, this is what is written, [Many daughters have done worthy things,] but you—you surpass all of them (Proverbs 31:29). And She is with everyone, as we have said, ‘Halakhah as the many’ [see BT Bava Metsi’a 59b: ‘After the majority must one incline,’ cf. Exodus 23:2; BT Ḥulin 11a; Sanhedrin 2a; Qiddushin 40b; Zohar 1:53a].

And those who guide the many to be righteous (Daniel 12:3)—they are like the stars, forever and ever (ibid.). Certainly like stars beyond number, each and every star is called its own world and this is young women beyond number. These young women do not call them עֲלָמוֹת (alamot), young women, but rather עוֹלָמוֹת (olamot), worlds. The righteous are the stars and each one has a star, as the ancients said, ‘Each and every righteous person has their own world’ [see BT Sanhedrin 100a: ‘The blessed Holy One will give to every righteous person three hundred and ten worlds’], and anyone who merits one Halakhah merits one world, certainly one who merits one tractate [of Mishnah] or two, or sixty as it says, Sixty are there queens and eighty concubines (Song of Songs 6:8).

Each tractate is a matronita unto herself, praiseworthy is he who merits her in this world, because the הֲלָכָה (halakhah), way of conduct, is the escort of the Matronita, which is קַבָּלָה (qabbalah), Kabbalah. Praiseworthy is he who is occupied with the Shekhinah, because She is greater than all of Halakhah. To take Her out of exile as it says, And for your transgressions is your mother put away (Isaiah 50:1)—to escort Her to Her husband, so She will be מְקוּבָּל (mequbbal), received, in His arms, to fulfill His left hand beneath my head, his right hand embracing me (Song of Songs 2:6).

In exile the Mishnah, which is the angel מְטַּטְרוֹן (Metatron), rules [cf. Zohar 1:223b]. He is second to the King. As viceroy he sits on the side of the מַטְרוֹנִיתָא (Matronita) [Shekhinah], and this is, A slavegirl who dispossesses her mistress (Proverbs 30:23). In the days of Moses never did the slavegirl rule, only the גְּבִרְתָּהּ (gevirtah), Mistress [cf. BT Menaḥot 59b; Zohar 1:232a]. Since Moses died and Joshua inherited, who is the נָעַר (na’ar), Youth [Metatron], the slave rules in the place of kingship [Malkhut], as is said, For I am the commander of YHWH’s army. Now have I come (Joshua 5:14) [cf. Genesis 23:21; BT Yevamot 16b; Arakhin 32b; Sanhedrin 107a]” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 14a–b, cf. Zohar 2:65b).

Woe to you, land, whose king is נָעַר (na’ar), a lackey [or: youth] (Ecclesiastes 10:16).

“Masters of Mishnah, awaken your souls and spirits, each of you! Remove שֵׁנָה (shenah), sleep, from yourself, for certainly this is מִשְׁנָה (mishnah), Mishnah, the simple way of this world. I only rouse you with supernal mysteries of the World that is Coming, for you are engaged in them, as is written: Look, he does not slumber nor does he sleep, Israel’s guard (Psalms 121:4) [תִקּוּן חֲצוֹת (tiqqun ḥatsot), midnight vigil: Kabbalists are expected to rise at midnight and adorn Shekhinah with words of Torah in preparation for Her union with Tif’eret. Cf. Zohar 1:92b; 3:119a; BT Berakhot 3b; Ḥagigah 12b; Tamid 32b; JT Berakhot 1:1, 2d]” (Zohar 3:244b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

Who Does Not Taste a Dish?

“Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] said: A person can learn only from a place which his heart desires, as is said, But YHWH’s teaching is his desire (Psalms 1:2).

Levi and Rabbi Shim’on son of Rabbi were once sitting before Rabbi and were expounding a part of Scripture. When the book was concluded, Levi said: Let them bring us Proverbs. Rabbi Shim’on son of Rabbi said: Let them bring us Psalms; [he] pushed Levi and Psalms were brought. When they came to But YHWH’s teaching is his desire, Rabbi said: A person can only learn from a place which his heart desires. Levi said: Rabbi, you have given permission to rise [and leave, since my heart desires Proverbs and not Psalms]” (BT Avodah Zarah 19a, cf. ZḤ 107a [Tiq]).

Taste and see that YHWH is good (Psalms 34:8).

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Well, there are many verses in Torah that seem as if they need not have been written, yet we see that all of them are sublime mysteries.’ Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘As for this verse, whoever sees it and does not contemplate it is like someone who does not taste a dish” (Zohar 2:217b).

“This may be compared to a man who dwelled among the cliffs and knew nothing of those dwelling in the town. He sowed wheat, and ate the wheat in its natural condition [i.e., פְּשָׁט (peshat), plain]. One day he went into town and was offered fine bread [i.e., דְּרַשׁ (derash), enquiry]. The man asked: What’s this for? They replied: It’s bread, to eat! He asked: And what’s it made of? They replied: Of wheat. Afterwards they brought him cakes kneaded with oil [i.e., רֶמֶז (remez), hint]. He tasted them, and asked: And what are these made of? They replied: Of wheat. Later they brought him royal pastry kneaded with honey and oil [i.e., סוֹד (sod), secret]. He asked: And what are these made of? They replied: Of wheat. He said: Surely I am master of all these, since I eat the essence of all of these! And because of that view, he knew nothing of the delights of the world, which were lost to him. So it is with one who grasps the principle but is unaware of all those delectable delights deriving, diverging from that principle [פַּרדֵס (Pardes), Orchard, is the acronym for four levels of interpreting Torah; cf. BT Shabbat 63a: ‘(Rav Kahana said:) A verse cannot depart from its plain meaning’]” (Zohar 2:176a–b, cf. BT Berakhot 64a).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: There is a difference of opinion between Rabbi Shim’on son of Gamaliel and the Rabbis. One said that a well-read scholar is superior and the other said that the keen dialectician is superior. Rabbi Yosef was a well-read scholar [lit., סִינָי (Sinai), a Sinai]; Rabbah was a keen dialectician [lit., עוֹקֵר הָרִים (oqer harim), uprooter of mountains]. An enquiry was sent up to the land of Israel: Who of these should take precedence? They sent them word in reply: ‘A well-read scholar is to take precedence;’ for the Master said, ‘All are dependent on the owner of the wheat’” (BT Horayot 14a, cf. BT Berakhot 64a).

“What is meant by [Her profit and fee shall be consecrated to YHWH. They shall not be treasured or stored; rather shall her profit go to those who abide before YHWH, that they may eat their fill and] לִמְכַסֶּה עָתִיק (limkhasseh athiq), cover themselves elegantly? (Isaiah 23:18). This refers to one who מְכַסֶּה (mekhasseh), conceals, things that עָתִּיק (attiq), the Ancient of, Days concealed. What are those? Secrets of Torah. And some say: This refers to one who reveals things that עָתִּיק (attiq), the Ancient of, Days concealed. What are those? Flavors of Torah” (BT Pesaḥim 119a).

Mountains Hanging by a Hair, Baked Bread, the Bride and Her Royal Tailors

“The הֲלָכוֹת (halakhot), ways of conduct, concerning the Sabbath, Festal-offerings and acts of trespass are as mountains hanging by a hair, for they have scant Scriptural basis but many halakhot” (BT Ḥagigah 10a, cf. Deuteronomy 30:12; BT Bava Metsi’a 59b).

“What is the difference between Scripture and Mishnah [i.e., the Written Torah and the Oral Torah]? They told a parable. To what may this be compared? To a king of flesh and blood who had two servants, whom he loved completely. He gave each of them a measure of wheat and a bundle of flax. The wise one of them—what did he do? He took the flax and wove it into cloth. He took the wheat and made it into flour. He sifted it, grounded, needed, and baked it, and then set it on the table and spread the cloth over it. He left it until the king arrived. The foolish of the two did nothing at all.

After sometime, the king came to his palace and said to them, ‘my children, bring me what I gave to you.’ One brought out the [bread baked with] fine flour on the table covered with cloth, and the other brought wheat in a box with the bundle of flax on top. Woe for that shame! Woe for that disgrace! You must admit: which of them is more beloved? Obviously, he who laid out the table with the [bread baked of] fine flour on it…. When the blessed Holy One gave the Torah to Israel, he gave it to them as wheat from which to produce fine flour, and as flax from which to produce both” (Seder Eliyyahu Zuta 2, cf. Zohar 2:176a–b).

“Rabbi Shim’on opened, saying, ‘Oh, Let him kiss me with his mouth’s kisses (Song of Songs 1:2). Oral Torah said this to Written Torah—pursuing His sweetness, uniting with one another through those kisses.

When She is in the midst of her maidens’ dispute regarding Her adornment, all of them striving to be ornaments for Written Torah, She joins and is embraced by the Written Torah in bliss—in a single bond—and He kisses Her amorously. Then, invigorated by Him, She says to Him with affection, ‘How much more precious are Your caresses than Your wine! Your love has seized me, intoxicating me with the wine of love, securing Me to You!’

Oral Torah receives magnificent adornment from Her maidens, uniting with Written Torah. Mishnah—crown of the head, mystery of fitting adornment. Baraita—mystery of embellishment of thighs and feet. Body—maidens approach with the fitting array, coming close to decorate Her. One says, ‘מוּתָר (Mutar), Permissible,’ and one says, אָסוּר (Asur), Forbidden’—this is ornamenting the bride, as they adorn Her. One says, ‘This jewel goes like so,’ and the other responds, ‘No, not like that. Surely, regarding the adornment for the head, the headdress is אָסוּר (asur), tied, and the headdress is fastened like this.’ And the other one says, ‘The headdress is מוּתָר (mutar), loosened, on this side—and אָסוּר (asur), tied, and fastened on this side.’ ‘This golden brooch on the body’s garment—it is פָּסוּל (pasul), unfit, to have this ornament there.’ This one says, ‘It is כָּשֵׁר (kasher), fit, and appropriate to dislay this one together with that one’—all enhancement and adornment of the bride [in speaking of קִשׁוּט (qishut), ornament, an allusion to קֶשׁוֹט (qeshot), truth, may be intended, hinting at the significance of the rabbinic rivalries (Hecker)].

In any event, as long as they beautify, flinging disputes about ornaments, She is enhanced in power, beauty, color, and refinement by them—sitting gloriously among them, feeling beautified by more than a hundred-fold [cf. BT agigah 9b in the name of Hillel]. After She has been adorned by them, they all take hold of Her by Her ornaments and beautiful embellishments, bringing Her to the King—Written Torah. When Matronita sits with the King, refined in Her beauty, and the King sees Her exquisitely adorned, that ornament proclaims that the King should kiss Her—for that is the cleaving of love, being enfolded in one another.

Who initiates those kisses and that love? Those maidens who adorned Her. When She and the King wish to bestow goodness upon the maidens—gifts for them all—they are given to them all at once. Even though they have contended with one another about the ornaments, the King and Matronita bestow gifts and presents with goodwill and affections, endowing them with an inheritance of a thousand worlds of longing for the World that is Coming. All the more so for those who know mysteries of wisdom, adorning embellishments, for there is no measure of their inherited legacy. Of them is written So I may endow my lovers with substance, and fill their storehouses (Proverbs 8:21)'” (Zohar Ḥadash 64a).

“There are likewise a number of verses where the Masters of Mishnah expand or restrict, according to [the principles] of amplification and diminution, and there are also cases [in which a letter is] added, as is said: ‘Do not read מַה (mah), what, but מֵאָה (me’ah), one hundred’ (BT Menaḥot 43b)…. Certain words that are written in the abbreviated spelling [are expounded] as though written out in full, and other [words] that are written out in full are as though written out in abbreviated form. About these and about all sorts of explanations that can be made to embellish the bride in Her ornaments, the blessed Holy One commanded us to do as they say, and to trust them, as is written: According to the teaching that they instruct you [and according to the judgment that they say to you, you shall do, you shall not swerve from the word that they tell you right or left] (Deuteronomy 17:11).

[This is like] a tailor who has cut cloth in order to make royal garments, and has made many pieces from them. Those who know the places where those pieces are missing [and are familiar with] the pieces which remain will be able to make the garments, for the pieces that have been collected together are placed where they are missing, and pieces that are too small are added to. And this is the true meaning of: According to the teaching that they instruct you. And you might well ask that, if this is so, what about the case where one of them occasionally errs and says, ‘I recant.’ Before issuing instructions concerning that matter about which there is a difference of opinion, the one who poses the difficulty can say, ‘I withdraw.’ For not all of those who make the parts of a bride’s ornaments know where each piece goes, until the ruling is made [and prior to when] resolutions to the arguments of the הֲלָכוֹת (halakhot), ways of conduct, have been given [הֲלָכָה (Halakhah) alludes to the many ornaments made for הַכַּלָה (ha-Kalah), the Bride, Oral Torah, Shekhinah]” (Zohar 3:254b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).