The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: מַּזַּל

There is No Flux of Destiny to Israel

csm_beit_alpha_israel_synagogue_zodiac_557286d76d“And why was Torah given [in Sivan] and not in the rest of the moons [i.e., months]? What is this matter like? A king who was arranging the festivities for his daughter’s wedding. And a man, one of the royal dignitaries, said: ‘It would be seemly for the princess, after she is seated in the palanquin, to have her ride on an elephant and so raise her among all the nobles of the kingdom.’ Another answered and said: ‘An elephant stands high, but is without splendor or beauty [alt., an elephant stands high, and so the princess will not appear impressive]. And since the princess is lovely, it would be more seemly to have her mount a horse and thus show her loveliness among all the nobles of the kingdom.’ Then a man spoke up and said: ‘An elephant stands high, and a horse is comely; but neither has a mouth to speak with, hands to clap together, nor feet to dance with. Hence it is fitting for me to extol the princess, for I have a mouth to speak with, hands to clap together, and feet to dance with; and so I would have her mount on my shoulders to display her loveliness.’ Even so the blessed Holy One, did not give the Torah in Nisan nor in Iyyar, because the מַּזַּל (mazal), constellation, of Nisan is Aries, and the constellation of Iyyar is Taurus, and it is not fitting for them to extol and praise [the Torah]. Hence the blessed Holy One gave the Torah in Sivan, because the constellation of Sivan is תְּאוֹמִים (Te’omim), Gemini, and Twins are human, and being human have mouths to speak with, and hands to clap together, and feet to dance with.

… Why did the blessed Holy One create His world in Nisan and not create it in Iyyar? Because at the time that the blessed Holy One wished to create His world He said to the prince of darkness: ‘Leave My presence, for I desire the world’s creation to begin with light,’ the prince of darkness being as black as a bull. At once the prince of darkness replied to the blessed Holy One: ‘Why do You wish to put something ahead of me in the creation? [i.e., Aries, a white lamb (Nisan) before a black bull, Taurus (Iyyar)]. The blessed Holy One said to the prince of darkness: ‘Leave My presence. If you will not leave My presence, I will rebuke you—I desire to begin creating the world with light.’ ‘And after the darkness, what will You create?’ ‘תְּאוֹמִים (Te’omim), Gemeni.’ ‘And why will you create תְּאוֹמִים (te’omim), twins?’ ‘Because the human will be able to see both in daylight and in darkness—מַּזַּל תְּאוֹמִים (mazal Te’omim), constellation of Gemini [Sivan].’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘סַרְטָן (Sartan), Cancer [Tammuz]: Because like a crab man scrabbles together his possessions out of holes and cracks.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘אַרְיֵה (Aryeh), Leo [Av].’ ‘Since after man in crab-fashion scrabbles together his possessions out of holes and cracks, he then thinks he is as strong as a lion.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘בְּתוּלָה (Betulah), Virgo [Elul]. For man is meant to rejoice in a virgin [alt., to grow as plump as a virgin].’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘מֹאזְנַיִם (Moznayim), Libra [Tishrei], for man’s deeds will be weighed in the balance.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘עַקְרָב (Aqrav), Scorpio [Marḥeshvan]. When a man is weighed and crimes discovered in him, he is made to go down to Hell.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘קַשָּׁת (Qashat), Sagittarius [Kislev]. Perhaps you will say that once a man is plunged into Hell, there will be no coming up for him. When mercy is besought in his behalf, however, he is shot up from Hell as an arrow from the קַשָּׁת (qashat), bow.’ ‘And after that what will You create? ‘גְּדִי (Gedi), Capricorn [Tevet]. You might think that when man comes up out of Hell, his countenance will be gloomy. The truth is that as he comes up, he will romp like a גְּדִי (gedi), kid.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘דְּלִי (Deli), Aquarius [Shevat], the pitcher from which I splash pure water on man to purify him of his sins.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘דָּגִים (Dagim), Pisces [Adar]. Because Israel are exempt from the forces that rule the world, and the [evil] eye or מַּזַּל גּוֹרֵם (mazal gorem), planetary influence, can no more prevail over them [than it can over דָּגִים (dagim), fish, under water. Cf. BT Berakhot 20a; Bereshit Rabbah 97:2]: only the [planet of the] hour [at birth] influences [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi-Eli’ezer, 6].’

And why did the blessed Holy One in the beginning create the sun as the only source of light?’ Because the world, all of it, was intended to be lighted by one luminary, the same by night as by day. And after the creation of the sun, [the prince of darkness asked], ‘what will You create?’ ‘כּוֹכָב (Kokhav), Mercury, and נוֹגַה (Nogah), Venus [two-in-one, i.e., a hermaphroditic planet].’ But because the blessed Holy One foresaw the generation of the flood take to whoring, He—just as soon as He foresaw that—made Mercury and Venus dwell apart from each other. Nevertheless, the generation of the flood rose up and confounded one sex with the other.

Mercury is אִישׁ (ish), man, and Venus אִשּׁה (ishah), woman [cf. BT Sotah 17a]. Now why create Mercury at all? Because Mercury—the male principal—represents our father Abraham who in wisdom gives guidance to all the world, every part of it.’

‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘The לְבָנָה (Levanah), Moon—for the children of Israel, every one of them, are destined to reflect the light of Abraham as the moon reflects the light of the sun.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘שַׁבְתַאִי (Shabbtai), Saturn—for the peoples of the world will rule over Israel.’ ‘And after that what will You create?’ ‘צֶדֶק (Tsedeq), Jupiter—for the blessed Holy One לְהַצְדִּיק (le-ha-tseddiq), will deal justly, with them. And you may mistakenly think that the peoples will be saved from the judgment. But the blessed Holy One created מַאְדִים (Ma’adim), Mars, [אָדוֹם (adom), red]—Hell into which they will fall” (Pesiqta Rabbati 20:1–2).

“[Length of] life, sons, and sustenance depend not on merit but on מַזָּל (mazal), flux of destiny” (BT Mo’ed Qatan 28a).

“It was recorded in Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi’s notebook: He who [is born] on the first day of the week [Sunday] shall be a man without one in him—what does ‘without one in him’ mean? Shall we say, without one good quality? Surely Rabbi Ashi said: I was born on the first day of the week! So it must be, ‘Without one bad quality.’ But didn’t Rabbi Ashi said: I and Dimi son of Qaquzeta were born on the first day of the week: I am king [head of the academy] and he is a captain of thieves!—rather it means either all good or all bad. What is the reason? Because light and darkness were created on that day. He who is born on the second day of the week will be contentious—what is the reason? Because the waters were divided thereon. He who is born on the third day of the week will be wealthy and promiscuous. What is the reason? Because herbs were created that day. He who is born on the fourth day of the week will be wise and radiant [cf. Ecclesiastes 8:1: a man’s wisdom lights up his face]. What is the reason? Because the luminaries were hung [on that day]—he who is born on the fifth day of the week will render kindnesses. What is the reason? Because the fishes and birds were created that day. He who is born on the eve of the Sabbath will be a חַזְרָן (ḥazran), seeker. Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq commented: חַזְרָן (ḥazran), assiduous, in mitsvot. He who is born on the Sabbath will die on the Sabbath, because the great day of the Sabbath was desecrated on his account. Rava son of Rav Shila observed: But he shall be called great and holy.

Rabbi Ḥanina said to [his disciples]: Go and tell the son of Levi, it is not the מַזָּל (mazal), constellation, of the day that is the influence but the constellation of the hour that is the influence [cf. BT Shabbat 129b: ‘the planet Mars rules at even-numbered hours of the day’; Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 5]. He who is born under the sun will be a man outstanding [lit., of radiant appearance]: he will eat and drink of his own but his secrets will be revealed; if a thief, he will not succeed. He who is born under Venus will be a wealthy and promiscuous man. What is the reason? Because fire burns in it. He who is born under Mercury will be radiant and wise. What is the reason? Because it is the sun’s scribe. He who is born under the Moon will be a man to suffer evil, he will build and raze, raze and build, eating and drinking what is not his but his secrets will remain concealed: if a thief, he will be successful. He who is born under Saturn will be a man whose plans will be frustrated [since שַׁבְתַאִי (Shabbtai), Saturn, alludes to שׁבָּת (shabbat), cessation]. Others say: All designs against him will be frustrated. He who is born under צֶדֶק (Tsedeq), Jupiter, will be a man צַדְקָן (tsadqan), who does justly. Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq observed: who does righteousness in mitsvot. He who is born under Mars will be a man who spills blood. Rabbi Ashi said: Either a surgeon, a thief, a [ritual] slaughterer, or a circumciser. Rabbah said: I was born under Mars [yet am none of these]. Abayye said: The master has also punished and killed [see BT Megillah 7b: ‘Rabbah and Rabbi Zera joined together in a Purim feast. They became drunk, and Rabbah arose and cut Rabbi Zera’s throat. On the next day he prayed on his behalf and revived him. Next year he said, Will your honor come and we will have the Purim feast together? He replied: A miracle does not take place on every occasion’].

It was stated. Rabbi Ḥanina says: The מַזָּל (mazal), constellation, gives wisdom, the constellation gives wealth, and there is a מַזָּל (mazal), flux of destiny, to Israel. Rabbi Yoḥanan says: There is no flux of destiny to Israel. Now, Rabbi Yoḥanan is consistent with his view, for Rabbi Yoḥanan said: How do we know that there is no flux of destiny to Israel? Because it is said, Thus says YHWH, Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the nations are dismayed at them (Jeremiah 10:2). They are dismayed but not Israel. Rav too holds that there is no flux of destiny to Israel. For Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: How do we know that there is no flux of destiny to Israel? Because it is said, וַיּוֹצֵא (Va-yotse)And He took [him] outside (Genesis 15:5). Abraham said before the blessed Holy One ‘Master of the Universe! [Look, to me you have given no seed, and] a member of my household is to be my heir (ibid., 3).’ He said to him: ‘Not so, [This one will not be your heir,] but he who issues from your loins will be your heir’ (ibid., 4). He said before Him, ‘I have gazed at my horoscope, and I am not fated to engender a son.’ ‘Leave, your astrological speculations! For there is no מַזָּל (mazal), constellation, to Israel. What do you suppose? Since צֶדֶק (Tsedeq), Jupiter, stands in the West I will turn it back and place it in the East’ [cf. Job 37:12; Zohar 1:110a; Bereshit Rabbah 44:10]. As it is written, Who raised up צֶדֶק (Tsedeq), Jupiter, from the east, He has summoned it for his sake (Isaiah 41:2). From Shemu’el too [we learn] that there is no מַזָּל (mazal), constellation, to Israel. For Shemu’el and Avlet were sitting, while certain people were going to a lake [to cut reeds]. Avlet said to Shemu’el: ‘That man is going but will not return, [for] a snake will bite him and he will die.’ Shemu’el said, ‘If he is an son of Israel he will go and return.’ While they were sitting he went and returned. [Thereupon] Avlet arose and threw off [the man’s] knapsack [of reeds], [and] found a snake in it cut up and lying in two pieces—Shemu’el said to him, ‘What did you do?’ ‘Every day we pooled our bread and ate it; but today one of us had no bread, and he was ashamed. I said to them, I will go and collect [the bread]. When I came to him, I pretended to take from him, so that he should not be ashamed.’ ‘You have done a מִצְוָה (mitsvah), commandment’ he said to him [cf. JT Orlah 1:5, 61b: ‘One who eats from his friend’s food is ashamed to look at him’]. Then Shemu’el went out and expounded: but righteousness saves from death (Proverbs 10:2); and [this does not mean] from an unnatural death, but from death itself.

From Rabbi Akiva too [we learn that] there is no מַזָּל (mazal), flux of destiny, to Israel. For Rabbi Akiva had a daughter. Now, Chaldeans told him, On the day she enters her bridal chamber a snake will bite her and she will die. He was very worried about this. On that day [of her marriage] she took a brooch [and] stuck it into the wall and it penetrated the eye of a snake. The following morning, when she took it out, the snake came trailing after it. ‘What did you do?’ her father asked her. She said to him ‘A poor man came to our door in the evening and everybody was busy at the banquet, and there was none to attend to him. So I took the portion which was given to me and gave it to him.’ ‘You have done a מִצְוָה (mitsvah), commandment’ he said to her. Then Rabbi Akiva went out and expounded: but righteousness saves from death: and not [merely] from an unnatural death, but from death itself. From Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq too [we learn that] there is no מַזָּל (mazal), flux of destiny, to Israel. The mother of Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq was told by Chaldeans, ‘Your son will be a thief.’ [Thus] she did not let him [go] bareheaded, saying to him, ‘Cover your head so that the fear of heaven may be upon you, and pray’—now, he did not know why she spoke that to him. One day he was sitting and studying under a palm tree, the evil impulse overcame him, he climbed up and bit off a cluster with his teeth” (BT Shabbat 156a–b).

“Just as there are twelve constellations from the side of good so there are twelve constellations from the side of evil. This is what is meant by, [These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names in their habitations and their encampments,] twelve chieftains according to their tribes (Genesis 25:16), since, [On the day of good luck, enjoy the good, and on the day of evil, see:] one against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14)” (Zohar 3:283a, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

 

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ספר יצירה (Sefer Yetsirah) The Book of Formation (MS K)

et-si-nous-parlions-de-la-typographie-hebraique.jpg[§1] By means of thirty-two wondrous paths of wisdom Yah YHWH of armies, God of Israel, the Living God, Almighty, high and exalted, dwelling for ever, and Holy is His Name (Isaiah 57:15), carved out. He created His world with three סֶפָרִים (sefarim), ciphers: with ספר ,ספר and ספר.

[§2] The ten סְפִירוֹת בְּלִימָה (sefiroth belimah), numerals of nothingness, are the basis and the twenty-two letters are the foundation: three mothers, seven doubles, and twelve simple [letters].

[§3] The ten sefiroth belimah are the basis—like the number of the ten fingers, five opposite five and the covenant of the singular One is exactly in the middle in the covenant of the tongue and the circumcision of the flesh.

[§4] The ten sefiroth belimah are the basis—ten and not nine, ten and not eleven. Understand with wisdom, and be wise with understanding. Test them and investigate them, and get the thing clearly worked out and restore the Creator to His place.

[§5] The ten sefiroth belimah are the basis: restrain your mouth from speaking, restrain your heart from thinking. And if your heart races return to the place, thus it is written: running and returning (Ezekiel 1:14). And concerning this the Covenant was made.

[§6] The ten sefiroth belimah are the basis. Their end is embedded in their beginning like a flame bound to a burning coal. For the Lord is singular, and He has none second to Him; and before one, what can you count?

[§7] The ten sefiroth belimah are the basis; their measure is ten yet they have no limit: depth of beginning and depth of end, depth of good and depth of evil, depth of above and depth of below, depth of east and depth of west, depth of north and depth of south. And the singular Lord, a trustworthy divine king, rules over them all from His holy abode to eternities of eternity.

[§8] The ten sefiroth belimah are the basis. Their appearance is like the sight of lightning, and their end?—they have no limit. And His word is in them as though running and returning (Ezekiel 1:14), and they pursue His command like the storm wind, and before His throne they bow down.

[§9] The twenty-two letters are the foundation: three mothers, seven doubles, and twelve simple [letters].

[§10] Ten sefiroth, that is to say: One—רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים חַיִּים (rhuaḥ Elohim ḥayyim), Breath of the Living God. Twice blessed is the name of the חֵי הַעוֹלָמִים (ḥei ha-olamim), Vitality of the Worlds. Voice, and breath, and word—this is רוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ (rhuaḥ ha-qodesh), the Holy Spirit.

[§12] Two—air from Breath: He carved and hewed in it the twenty-two basic letters—three mothers, and seven doubles, and twelve simple [letters]. And the Breath is one of them.

[§13] Three—water from air: He carved and hewed in it תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ (thohu wah-vohu), welter and waste (Genesis 1:1), רֶפֶשׁ וָטִיט (rhefesh wah-tit), mud and mire (Isaiah 57:20). He carved them like a sort of garden-bed. He erected them like a sort of wall, and he wove them like a sort of roof [or: ceiling].

[§14] Four—fire from water: He carved them and hewed in it the throne of glory, and the ofanim and the serafim, and the holy living beings, and the ministering angels. And from the three of them He founded His abode, as it is said: He makes His messengers the winds, His ministers, glowing fire (Psalms 104:4).

[§15] Five—He sealed above. He chose three simple letters and embedded them in His great Name. And He sealed with them the six borders [of the world], and He turned upwards and scaled it. Seven—He sealed the east, and He turned downwards [in front] and sealed it. Eight—He sealed the west, and He turned behind and sealed it. Nine—He sealed the south, and He turned to his right and sealed it. Ten—He sealed the north, and He turned to His left and sealed it.

[§16] These ten sefiroth belimah are the basis: the Breath of the Living God; and air, water, fire; above, below, east, west, north and south.

[§17a] The twenty-two letters: they are hewn out in the air, carved out by voice, embedded in the mouth in five positions: אחה״ע בומ״ף גיכ״ק דטלנ״ת זסשר״ץ (alef ḥeth he ‘ayin, beth waw mem peh, gimel yod khaf qof, daleth teth lamed nun taw, zayin samekh shin resh tsadhi) [קְדוּשָׁה (qedhushah), Holiness].

[§18] The twenty-two letters are their foundation. It is embedded on a wheel with 231 gates. The wheel rotates backwards and forwards. And this is the sign: if for good, above—עֹנֶג (oneg), delight; if for evil, below—נֶגַע (nega), affliction.

[§19] Twenty-two letters: He carved them out, He hewed them, He weighed them, He exchanged them, He combined them and formed with them the נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), Soul, of all creation and the נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), life-breath [or: vital spirit], of all that would be formed [cf. M Sanhedrin 4:5]. How did He weigh and exchange them? א (Alef) with them all, and all of them with א (alef); ב (beth) with them all, and all of them with ב (beth). And they all rotate in turn. The result is that [they go out] by two hundred and thirty-one [gates]; the result is that all creation and all speech go out by one name.

[§20] He formed מַמָשׁ (mamash), something, from תֹהוּ (thohu), nothing, and He made them its existence, and He hewed out great columns from אֲוִיר (awir), intangible air [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 1:5]. This is the sign:

[§21 (Cordovero)] אל בת גש דר הק וצ זפ חע טס ינ כמ אב גת דש הר וק זצ חפ טע יס כנ למ אג דת הש ור זק חצ טפ יע כס לנ במ אד בג הת וש זר חק טצ יפ כע לס מנ אה בד ות זש חר טק יצ כפ לע מס גנ או בה גד זת חש טר יק כצ לפ מע נס אז בו גה חת טש יר כק לצ מפ נע דס אח בז גו דה טת יש כר לק מצ נפ סע אט בח גז דו ית כש לר מק נצ ספ הע אי בט גח דז הו כת לש מר נק סצ עפ אכ בי גט דח הז לת מש נר סק עצ ופ אל בכ גי דט הח וז מת נש סר עק פצ אמ בל גכ די הט וח נת סש ער פק זצ אנ במ גל דכ הי וט זח סת עש פר צק אס בנ גמ דל הכ וי זט עת פש צר חק אע בס גנ דמ הל וכ זי חט פת צש קר אפ בע גס דנ המ ול זכ חי צת קש טר אצ בפ גע דס הנ ומ זל חכ טי קת רש אק בצ גפ דע הס ונ זמ חל טכ רת יש אר בק גצ דפ הע וס זנ חמ טל יכ שת אש בר גק דצ הפ וע זס חנ טמ יל כת את בש גר דק הצ ופ זע חס טנ ימ כל

[§22] He looks and exchanges; He makes all creation and all speech one name. And a sign for the matter: twenty-two objects and one body.

[§23] Three mothers: א מ ש (alef, mem, shin). Their basis is the scale of acquittal and the scale of guilt, and the tongue of law holds the balance between them.

[§24] Three mothers: א מ ש (alef, mem, shin)—a great mystery, hidden and ineffable, and sealed with six seals. And from it goes out fire, and water and air, and it is divided into male and female.

[§25] Three—fire, water and air; fire above, water below, and air is between them. And this is a sign for the matter that fire evaporates water.

[§26] Three mothers: א מ ש (alef, mem, shin). מ (Mem) lifts up, and ש (shin) hisses, and א (alef) is the balancing item.

[§27] Three mothers: א מ ש (alef, mem, shin). And from them were born three fathers from whom everything was created.

[§28] Three mothers: א מ ש (alef, mem, shin)—in the world: air, and water and fire. Heavens were created first from fire, and earth was created from water, and light [air] was created from the רוּחַ (rhuaḥ), breath, holding the balance between them.

[§29] Three mothers א מ ש (alef, mem, shin)—in the year: fire, and water and air. Heat was created from fire, and cold was created from water, and humidity from air holding the balance between them.

[§30] Three mothers א מ ש (alef, mem, shin)—in a נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), person. The head was created from fire, the belly from water, and the chest from air holding the balance between them.

[§31] Three mothers א מ ש (alef, mem, shin). He carved them, hewed them, combined them and formed with them the three mother [letters] in the world, and the three mother [letters] in the year, and the three mother [letters] in a person—male and female.

[§32] He made א (alef) rule over רוּחַ (rhuaḥ), breath, and bound to it a crown, and combined them with each other, and sealed with them אֲוִיר (awir), atmosphere, in the world, humidity in the year, and the chest in a person—male with א מ ש (alef, mem, shin) and female with ש מ א (shin, mem, alef).

[§33] He made מ (mem) rule over מַיִּם (mayyim), water, and bound to it a crown, and sealed with it earth in the world, cold in the year, and the fruit of the belly in a person; male with מ ש א (mem, shin, alef), and female with מ א ש (mem, alef, shin).

[§34] He made ש (shin) rule over אֵשׁ (esh), fire, and bound to it a crown, and combined them with each other, and sealed with it heavens in the world, heat in the year, and the head in a person, male with ש מ א (shin, mem, alef), and female with ש א מ (shin, alef, mem).

[§35] How did he combine them? אמש אשם מאש משא שמא שאם (Alef mem shin, alef shin mem, mem alef shin, mem shin alef, shin mem alef, shin alef mem)—heavens/fire, air/breath, earth/water. Man’s head is fire, his belly water, his heart breath/air.

[§36] Three mothers: א מ ש (alef, mem, shin). There was formed with א (alef): breath, air, humidity, chest, law, and tongue. There was formed with מ (mem): earth, cold, belly, and the scale of acquittal. There was formed with ש (shin): heavens, heat, head, and the scale of guilt. This is א מ ש (alef, mem, shin). The end.

[§37] Seven doubles: בּג״ד כּפר״ת (beth, gimel, daleth, kaf, peh, resh, taw). They are pronounced with the tongue in two different positions. Their basis is life and peace, wisdom, wealth, prosperity, beauty and mastery. They are pronounced with the tongue in two different positions: ב (beth, veth), ג (gimel, ghimel), ד (daleth, dhaleth), כ (kaf, khaf), פ (peh, feh), ר (resh, rhesh), ת (taw, thaw)—דָּגֵּשׁ (dagesh), and רָפֵה (rafeh), soft and hard, a paradigm of strong and weak. They are doubles because they are opposites. The opposite of life is death; the opposite of peace is war [lit., evil]; the opposite of wisdom is folly; the opposite of wealth is poverty; the opposite of prosperity is desolation; the opposite of beauty is ugliness; and the opposite of mastery is slavery.

[§38] Seven doubles: בּג״ד כּפר״ת (beth, gimel, daleth, kaf, peh, resh, taw), corresponding to seven קָצֶווֹת (qatse’ot), borders [or: edges]: a place of borders and a holy place; one—a place set within a place; two—the upper border, three—the lower border, four—the eastern border, five—the western border, six—the northern border, seven, the eternal border, and the holy Temple set in the middle and it supports them all.

[§39] Seven doubles: בּג״ד כּפר״ת (beth, gimel, daleth, kaf, peh, resh, taw). He carved and hewed them, He combined them, and formed with them the planets in the world, the days in the year, and the gates in a person by sevens.

[§40] How did he combine them? Two stones build two houses; three build six; four build twenty-four; five build one hundred and twenty; six build seven hundred and twenty; seven build five thousand and forty [i.e., factorials]. From here on go out and ponder what the mouth cannot speak, and what the ear cannot hear.

[§42] And with them were carved out seven firmaments, seven earths, seven hours and seven times. Therefore He loved the seventh under the heavens.

[§43a] These are the seven planets in the world: חַמָה (ḥamah), Sun, נוֹגַה (noghah), Venus, כּוֹכָב (kokhav), Mercury, לְבָנָה (levanah), Moon, שַׁבְתַאִי (shabbethai), Saturn, צֶדֶק (tsedheq), Jupiter, מַאְדִים (ma’adhim), Mars. And the days in the year: the seven days of creation. And the seven gates in a person: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and the mouth [cf. Deuteronomy 16:18: Judges and overseers you shall set for yourself within all your gates].

[§45] Twelve simple letters: הוזחט״י לנסעצ״ק (he waw zayin ḥeth teth yod, lamed nun samekh ’ayin tsadhi qof). Their basis is seeing, hearing, smelling, conversing, tasting, mating, doing, walking, raging, laughing, contemplating, sleeping.

[§47] Their measure is twelve גְבוּלֵי אֲלַכְסוֹן (gevulei alakhson), diagonal borders [or: edges, lines]: the north-eastern border, the south-eastern border, the upper eastern border, the lower eastern border, the lower northern border, the north-western border, the upper northern border, the lower western border, the south-western border, the upper western border, the lower southern border, the upper southern border. Deepening and expanding until evermore—זְרֹעֹת עוֹלָם (zero’ot olam), arms everlasting [alt., arms of the world] (Deuteronomy 33:27).

[§48a] He made them a sort of lawsuit, He arranged them in battle array, One opposite the other God made them (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

[§48b] Three—each one stands by itself; seven are at loggerheads—three against three, and one is the law which holds the balance between them. Twelve stand in battle array: three love but three hate; three give life but three kill. And the divine, trustworthy King rules over them all—one on top of three, and three on top of seven, and seven on top of twelve. And they all cling to each other.

[§49a] Twelve simple letters: הוזחט״י לנסעצ״ק (he waw zayin ḥeth teth yod, lamed nun samekh ’ayin tsadhi qof). He carved them and hewed them out, He weighed them and exchanged them, and formed with them the twelve constellations in the world, twelve months in the year, and the twelve principal organs in a person.

These [§49b] are the twelve constellations in the world: טָלֶה (taleh), Aries, שׁוֹר (shor), Taurus, תְּאוֹמִים (te’omim), Gemini, סַרְטָן (sartan), Cancer, אַרְיֵה (aryeh), Leo, בְּתוּלָה (bethulah), Virgo, מֹאזְנַיִם (moznayim), Libra, עַקְרָב (‘aqrav), Scorpio, קַשָּׁת (qashath), Sagittarius, גְּדִי (gedhi), Capricorn, דְּלִי (deli), Aquarius, דָּגִים (daghim), Pisces. And these are the twelve months: נִיסָּן (Nissan), אִייָר (Iyyar), סִיוָן (Siwan), תַמוּז (Thammuz), אָב (Av), אֱלוּל (Elul), תִּשְׁרֵי (Tishrhei), מַרְחֶשְׁוָן (Marḥeshwan), כִּסְלֵו (Kislew), טֵבֵת (Teveth), שֵׁבֶט (Shevet), אֲדָר (Adhar). And these are the twelve principal organs in a person: the right hand, the left hand, the right foot, the left foot, two kidneys, the liver, the gall, the spleen, the gullet, the stomach, and the intestines. 

[§50] Three mothers, and seven doubles, and twelve simple [letters].

[§56] These are the twenty-two letters [on which] Yah YHWH of Armies, God of Israel, the Living God, Almighty, high and exalted, dwelling for ever, and Holy is His Name [founded the world] (Isaiah 57:15).

[§58] Three fathers and their generations, and seven dominant ones and their hosts, and the twelve diagonal borders [or: edges]. And a proof for the matter—trustworthy witnesses: the world, the year and a person.

[§59a] There is a law of ten, three, seven and twelve. They are officials over the תָּלִי (Tali) [alt., תְלִי (Theli)], the Wheel, and the Heart.

[§59b] The Tali in the world is like a king on his throne; the Wheel in the year is like a king in a province; the Heart in a person is like a king at war.

[§60b] One opposite the other God made them (Ecclesiastes 7:14): good opposite evil—good from good and evil from evil. Good brings evil to light and evil brings good to light. Good is stored up for the good and evil is kept for the evil.

[§61] When Abraham our father observed, and looked, and saw, and investigated, and understood, and carved, and hewed, and combined, and formed, and succeeded, the Lord of all was revealed to him. And He made him sit in his lap, and kissed him upon his head. He called him His friend and named him His son, and made a covenant with him and his seed for ever. And he trusted in YHWH, and He reckoned it to his merit (Genesis 15:6). He made with him a covenant between the ten toes of his feet—it is the covenant of circumcision. He made with him a covenant between the ten fingers of his hands—it is the covenant of the tongue. He bound twenty [-two] letters into his tongue, and the Omnipresent revealed to him His secret. He drew them out in water, he burned them with fire, he shook them in the air, he branded them into the seven, he led them into the twelve constellations.

[§62] (1) Air and temperate state and chest; earth, cold and the belly; heavens and heat and the head. This is א מ ש (alef, mem, shin).

(2) Saturn, Sabbath and the mouth; Jupiter, the first day of the week and the right eye; Mars, the second day of the week and the left eye; the Sun, the third day of the week and the right nostril; Venus, the fourth day of the week and the left nostril; Mercury, the fifth day of the week and the right ear; the Moon, the sixth day of the week and the left ear. This is בּג״ד כּפר״ת (beth, gimel, daleth, kaf, peh, resh, taw).

(3) Aries, Nisan, the liver; Taurus, Iyyar, the gall; Gemini, Siwan, the spleen; Cancer, Thammuz, the gullet; Leo, Av, the right kidney; Virgo, Elul, the left kidney; Libra, Tishrhei, the intestines; Scorpio, Marḥeshwan, the stomach; Sagittarius, Kislew, the right hand; Capricorn, Teveth, the left hand; Aquarius, Shevet, the right foot; Pisces, Adhar, the left foot. This is הוזחט״י לנסעצ״ק (hewawzayin, ḥeth, teth, yod, lamed, nun, samekh, ‘ayin, tsadhi, qof).

1 Three are hostile and these are they: the tongue, the liver and the gal.

2 Three love: the heart, the ears and the eyes.

3 Three give life: the two nostrils and the liver of the left side.

4 Three kill: the two lower orifices and the mouth.

5 There are three which are in man’s control: the feet, the hands and the mouth.

6 There are three which are not in man’s control: his two eyes, his ears and his nostrils.

7 Three evil things are heard by the ear: cursing, blasphemy and an evil report.

8 Three good things are heard by the ear: blessing, a good report and praise.

9 Three sights are bad for the eye: adultery, an evil eye and a deceptive look.

10 Three sights are good for the eye: modesty, a good eye, and a trustworthy look.

11 Three things are bad for the tongue: He who speaks in the presence of the slanderer, he who speaks one thing with the mouth but another with the heart, and he who speaks too much.

12 Three things are good for the tongue: silence, reticence, and speaking the truth.

Whoever understands this book and keeps it has the assurance that he is a son of the World that is Coming. This is the book of Abraham our father, peace be upon him, which is called The Book of Formation.

There is no limit to the wisdom of everyone who looks into it. And the mysteries of the upper and lower world will be revealed to everyone who occupies himself with it and studies it and knows its mysteries, and he has the assurance that he is a son of the World that is Coming. This book, which is called The Secret of Intercalation on which the whole world depends, should not be handed over to anyone except he who turns away from evil and fears God and waits and hopes for his Creator, as it is said, steadfast love surrounds him who trusts in YHWH (Psalms 32:10), and it says, Israel is saved by YHWH with an everlasting salvation, you will not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity (Isaiah 45:17).

The Abomination of Egypt

7263192520_c9ce485603_z“Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Why is the Passover offering a lamb?’ Well, because it is written If we sacrifice the abomination of Egypt (Exodus 8:22). What is meant by the abomination of Egypt? Now, could it be that because they despise it the verse reads the abomination of Egypt? Rather, the Egyptians’ deity and god is called the abomination of Egypt. Thus it is written like the abominations of those nations (Deuteronomy 18:9)—the gods of the other nations.’

Come and see the wisdom of Joseph, as is written: From among all his brothers he took five men (Genesis 47:2), and he taught them to say Your servants are shepherds, we and our fathers as well (ibid., 3). Now, would a king ruling over the whole land and a father to the king do such a thing, making his brothers despicable and disreputable to them [for every shepherd is abhorrent to Egypt (Genesis 46:34)]? But surely, the abomination of Egypt is what their deity and god was called. Thus it is written If we sacrifice the abomination of Egypt…

Joseph said, ‘The best of the land is the land of Rameses, and that land they have set aside for their gods, to graze and wander to their hearts’ delight; and all the Egyptians esteem those who shepherd their gods as their very gods. I will enable my brothers to inherit that land, so the Egyptians will bow down to them and esteem them fittingly.’ This accords with what is written: For every shepherd is an abomination to Egypt (Genesis 46:34)—they esteem them as their gods.’

Rabbi Yose said, ‘But we have learned: Just as the blessed Holy One will punish idolators, so will He punish the idols themselves [cf. JT Ḥagigah 2:1, 77a; Bereshit Rabbah 96:5; Vayiqra Rabbah 26:7; Midrash Shemu’el 24:5; Tanḥuma, Vayḥi 3, Emor 2; Tanḥuma (Buber), Vayḥi 5; Emor; 4 BT Avodah Zarah 54b]. Now, did Joseph make his brothers into idols?’

He replied, ‘Joseph didn’t make his brothers into idols, but rather into rulers over the Egyptians’ idols, subduing their gods, chastising them with a rod. Joseph said, ‘If my brothers rule over their gods, they will certainly rule over the Egyptians themselves!’ That is why he settled them in the best of the land, giving them control over all the land.

So, why is the Passover offering a lamb? Well, because the lamb was the deity and god of Egypt. The blessed Holy One said, ‘From the tenth of the month, take the Egyptians’ deity and seize it, and let it be bound and held in your custody for one, two, three days. And on the fourth day, bring it out to be judged and assemble against it.’

When the Egyptians heard the voice of their deity, held in Israel’s custody, and they could not rescue it, they wept, and it was as hard on them as if they themselves had been bound for slaughter. The blessed Holy One said, ‘Let it be held in your possession day after day for four days, so that they will see it captured; and on the forth day bring it out to the field forum to be killed, and let the Egyptians see how you execute judgment on it.’ This was harder on them than all the plagues that the blessed Holy One had inflicted upon them—those judgements that they executed on their deities.

Afterward, they punished it with fire, for it is written: The images of their gods you shall burn in fire (Deuteronomy 7:25). The blessed Holy One said, Do not eat of it raw (Exodus 12:9)—so that [the Egyptians] will not say, ‘Out of craving for our deity, they are eating it like this.’ Nor cooked (ibid.)—for if it is cooked, it will be concealed, and [the Egyptians] will not see it. Rather, it should be prepared so that they see it being burned in fire, so that its odor will spread.

Furthermore, its head bent over its shank—so that [the Egyptians] will not say that it is a different animal or something else; rather, they will recognize it as their deity. Further, they should not eat it ravenously, but rather on a full stomach, showing disgrace and contempt.

Further, No bone shall you break in it (Exodus 12:46)—rather, [the Egyptians] should see its bone cast into the street and be unable to save it. Thus it is written [Upon all the gods of Egypt I will execute] judgments (Exodus 12:12)—many judgements.

Further, your staff in your hand (Exodus 12:11)—and not a sword or spear or any other weapon of war.

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘It has already has been established that the Egyptians worshiped the constellation Aries, and that is why they worshipped a sheep.’

Rabbi Yose said, ‘If so, they should have worshipped a lamb and not a sheep’ [טָלֶה (taleh), lamb, is numerically equivalent to דָם (dam), blood, which alludes to מַאְדִים (Ma’adim), Mars]. He replied, ‘They worship them all. Actually, the constellation Aries descends and ascends, as a lamb and a sheep; so they worship them all.’ He said to him, ‘I have heard as follows: that all cattle were their deity, and so the blessed Holy One killed all the firstborn of the cattle (Exodus 12:29). As has been said, these are rungs on high, who are called so'” (Zohar 3:250b–51a).

Seven Crowns, Seven Firmaments, and Seven Planets: These Corresponding to those in Concealment of Words

ImageHe counts the number of stars, to all of them gives names (Psalms 147:4).

“Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘The blessed Holy One is called שָׁמַיִם (shamayim), Heavens. And because He is called Heavens, all those firmaments included in this name number seven, and when they join as one they are called Heavens, and are called the Name of the blessed Holy One. Who are those firmaments? As we have learned: וִילוֹן (vilon), Curtain, רָקִיעַ (raqi’a), Firmament, שׁחָקִים (sheḥaqim), Skies, זְבֻל (zevul), Loft, מָעוֹן (ma’on), Dwelling, מָכוֹן (makhon), Site, and עֲרָבוֹת (aravot), Clouds. So we have learned in the Aggadta of the House of Rav Sava [cf. BT Ḥagigah 12b].

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘These are barraitas of the House of Rav Sava, and there are many such treating all these aspects, as we have learned.’

Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘I have learned an outside barraita—that corresponding to all these seven crowns [sefirot] of the King are found seven firmaments and seven planets running back and forth. They are called by names for their names although all those thrones of firmaments and seven planets are equivalent. שַׁבְתַאִי (Shabbtai), Saturn; צֶדֶק (tsedeq), Jupiter; מַאְדִים (ma’adim), Mars; חַמָה (ḥamah), Sun; נוֹגַה (nogah), Venus; כּוֹכָב (kokhav); Mercury, לְבָנָה (levanah), Moon. These are equivalent to those, in concealment of words, regarding those of whom is written Let them stand and save you—the astrologers, the stargazers (Isaiah 47:13). All those matters are concealed, although these are not ways of Torah.

As for us, we follow ways of Torah, as is written: He gave them names like the names his father had called them (Genesis 26:18). We follow what the blessed Holy One spoke; and we follow Him, as is written: Walk in His ways (Deuteronomy 28:9).

Rabbi Yose said, ‘Matters are simple for the Companions and well known, although concealed.’

He said to him, ‘We have learned as follows—as Rabbi Yehudah said in the name of Rabbi Ḥiyya in our presence, and as they taught from those barraitas—’In the days of King Solomon, the moon assumed fullness.’ In many places, the words of those barraitas are well known’ [cf. Zohar 1:243b; Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 5:12; Shemot Rabbah 15:26; Berit Menuḥa, The Second Way: The Way of Love, Eight Vowel].

Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘I raise my hands in prayer to the supernal Holy One, that these matters may be revealed by me in that world as they were concealed in my heart. We do not follow the ways of those barraitas; the ways of Torah we grasp!’

It has been taught: Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Who can you find as great in wisdom as King David and King Solomon, within this crown known in those barraitas? The moon King David called Righteousness, since it is his, as is written: Open for me the gates of righteousness (Psalms 118:19). So too, King Solomon. It is called Righteousness, and the sun—who is called My Covenant—is called Justice; and they are Thrones of Glory for the King, as is written: Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne (ibid. 89:15). Righteous One and Righteousness, similarly, are on a single rung.’

It has been taught: Seven crowns, as established, are called nine; and even in those barraitas those seven firmaments are nine.

Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘How long will the Companions read these words? Look, we follow the blessed Holy One, and we know matters; through us has been revealed what was not revealed to the ancient ones! 

From here on, all these words and all these barraitas—put them aside for those who have not entered and emerged. Thereby, they will come to inquire; and when they inquire, the Companions will say, Woe to the generation from which Rabbi Shim’on has departed! But come and see: From here on, there will be no generation like this—nor Torah being revealed to the Companions’” (Zohar 3:287a–b).

“The Faithful Shepherd began by saying: It is written: ‘Though our lips were full of praise like the expansive firmament’ [Morning Service for Sabbath and Festivals]. And the firmaments are seven in number. וִילוֹן (Vilon), Curtain (Isaiah 40:22); רָקִיעַ (raqi’a), Firmament (Genesis 1:8); שׁחָקִים (sheḥaqim), Skies (Psalms 78:23), are so called because therein the millstones grind the mannah for the righteous in the world that is coming [Binah]. And the basis for the name שׁחָקִים (sheḥaqim), Skies, is: וְשָׁחַקְתָּ (ve-shaḥaqta), and you shall pound it, to fine powder (Exodus 30:36). And they are Netsaḥ and Hod, about which it is said: And let the שְׁחָקִים (sheḥaqim), skies, pour down righteousness (Isaiah 45:8), which is the lower Shekhinah.

Curtain—for it pours in the evening, and brings out in the morning. FirmamentYesod, for in it the sun [Tif’eret] and the moon [Malkhut] give light, for they are the middle pillar and the lower Shekhinah, as is written: And אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), set them in the firmament of the heavens to light up the earth (Genesis 1:17). And the Righteous One [Yesod] is a לְאוֹת (leot), sign (Exodus 13:16) when uniting Netsaḥ and Hod, and עֵדוּת (edut), testimony (Psalms 60:1) when uniting Tif’eret and Malkhut.

Netsaḥ and Hod are the two halves of a body, like תְּאוֹמִים (te’omim), twins [alluding to מַּזַּל תְּאוֹמִים (mazal te’omim), constellation of Twins (Gemini). Cf. Exodus 31:18; Song of Songs 4:5, 5:2], which is why they are called שׁחָקִים (sheḥaqim), Skies. The two of them together are ו ו (vav, vav) of וֶשֶׁט (veshet), esophagus [וֶשֶׁט (veshet) according to its expanded spelling contains two of the letter ו (vav)], from the left side, and they are the two molar teeth from the right side” (Zohar 3:235b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“The King’s Daughter [Malkhut] is bound by ropes in the prison of Her exile. She is a nest to Samael among the stars and the blessed Holy One swears Though you exalt yourself as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there will I bring you down, says YHWH (Obadiah 1:4). And Shekhinah is נוֹגַה (nogah), Venus: The fire was נוֹגַה (nogah), bright (Ezekiel 1:13). Hence the בֵּית כְּנֶסֶת (beit kenesset), house of assembly, is called אֵשׁנוֹגַה (eshnogah), bright fire [in a foreign tongue, i.e., synagogue].

The fire of מַאְדִים (ma’adim), Mars, derives from אוֹדֶם (odem), redness: A row of אוֹדֶם (odem), ruby, topaz, and malachite, the first row (Exodus 28:17). נוֹגַה (Nogah), Venus, is a white fire, and both are the face of the sun [Tif’eret], and the face of the moon [Malkhut]. Netsaḥ and Hod receive the whiteness from esed and the אוֹדֶם (odem), redness, from Gevurah; Aaron and David came from there; one received Compassion and the other received Judgment. David came from the left side: and he was ruddy (1 Samuel 16:12). Aaron is a man of esed, and the two true prophets [Netsaḥ and Hod] are from them. The face of Moses shines with prophecy from Binah, which is the supernal חַמָה (ḥamah), Sun, whence his prophecy came.

In them are Esau the wicked, [who is the] the servant אֱדוֹם (edom), Edom, and his female מַאְדִים (ma’adim), Mars, which is שְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים (shefikhut damim), bloodshed, in Israel. She caused it to be fulfilled in the MatronitaHe has made me desolate and faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13). הוֹד (Hod), turned דָּוָה (davah), faint [הוֹד (Hod), read backwards is דָּוָה (davah), faint], and they [שֹׁמֵמָה (shomemah), desolate, and דָּוָה (davah), faint] correspond to Netsaḥ and Hod. Jachin and Boaz on both of which the House is supported, since a house of assembly is named after them אֵשׁנוֹגַה (eshnogah), bright fire, as we said” (Zohar 3:282b, Raaya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

Fear of the King

509px-Chisinau_jew“The mother of Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq was told by Chaldeans [i.e., astrologers], ‘Your son will be a thief.’ [Thus] she did not let him [go] bareheaded, saying to him, ‘Cover your head so that the fear of heaven may be upon you, and pray’—now, he did not know why she spoke that to him. One day he was sitting and studying under a palm tree, the evil impulse overcame him, he climbed up and bit off a cluster with his teeth” (BT Shabbat 156b).

The wise has his eyes in his head, and the fool walks in darkness (Ecclesiastes 2:14). Now, where are a person’s eyes if not in his head? Perhaps in the trunk of his body or in his arms? Does this distinguish the wise one from all inhabitants of the world? Ah, but the verse surely means as follows. For we have learned: A person should not walk four cubits with his head uncovered. Why? Because Shekhinah rests upon his head. Every wise person has his eyes and his words בְּרֹאשׁוֹ (be-rosho), on his head—focused on the one who is resting and appearing on his head. When his eyes are there, he know that the light kindled on his head needs oil. For the human body is a wick, and a light is kindled above, and King Solomon exclaimed: Let oil on your head not be lacking (Ecclesiastes 9:8); for the light on one’s head needs oil, namely good deeds. Thus, the wise one has his eyes on his head—and nowhere else!” (Zohar 3:187a).

Only בְּצֶלֶם (be-tselem), with an imagedoes a man goes about (Psalms 39:7) [cf. Zohar 1:218a; 3:43a-b]. Because [צֶלֶם (tselem), an image (i.e., Shekhinah)] is over a man’s head, man is prohibited to walk four cubits with his head uncovered. If She departs from over his head, his life is immediately gone” (Zohar 3:121b, Ra’aya Meheimna Naso).

“Because the Shekhinah is over his head the Masters of Mishnah taught: A scholar of the Law is forbidden to walk four cubits with his head uncovered [cf. BT Qiddushin 31a] because, the whole earth is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3). And even more so to go with uncovered head during a blessing or the mention of the Holy Name! [And the reason for the prohibition of going with an uncovered head:] י (yod) of יהוה (YHWH) is enveloped in אוֹר (or), light, and becomes אֲוִיר (avir), atmosphere [lit., air], since י (yod), which is Ḥokhmah, is in the אֲוִיר (avir), atmosphere [cf. BT Baba Batra 158b; Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 5]. And this is the light with which He enveloped himself when He created the world, as it is written: Wrapped in light like a cloak, stretching out heavens like a tent-cloth (Psalms 104:2). Thus Let there be אוֹר (or), light (Genesis 1:1) is, Let there be אֲוִיר (avir), atmosphere. And the Masters of the Secrets of Torah taught: Before anything else was formed, הָהַוָיוֹת (ha-havayot), the existences, were formed. Thus: Let there be light, and there was light—that had existed previously” (Zohar 3:245a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 37b).

You shall not Divine, nor Interpret Omens

wondercd151You shall not divine, nor interpret omens (Leviticus 19:26).

When you come into the land that YHWH your God is about to give you, you shall not learn to do like the abhorrent things of these nations. There shall not be found among you one who passes his son or his daughter through fire, a speller of charms, a soothsayer, or a diviner or a sorcerer, or a chanter of incantations or an inquirer of ghost or familiar spirit or one who seeks out the dead. For whosoever does these is YHWH’s abhorrence, and because of these abhorrent things YHWH your God is about to dispossess them before you. You shall be wholehearted with YHWH your God. For these nations which you are about to dispossess heed soothsayers and spellers of charms, but you, YHWH your God has not given such (Deuteronomy 18:10–14).

There shall not be found among you—so caution the court to be vigilant about it!…

קֹסֵם קְסָמִים (Qosem qesamim), a speller of charms—all the same is one who spells many charms and the speller of a few—he is held liable for each and every spell. Who is קוֹסֵם (qosem), a diviner? One who grabs his staff and says: shall I depart or not depart? [cf. M Shabbat 7:4: ‘Amorite custom’]. And in this vein, a verse says: My people consult their wood, and their staff advises them! (Hosea 4:12).

Another word: [he infers the portent of] a fox that passes on his right or his left.

Another word: one who passes his son or his daughter through fire—this refers to one who mounts a Aramean woman, and then raises with her a son, who becomes an enemy of the Omnipresent. We have heard the punishment [for this], but we haven’t heard the warning [against it]! The Law states: there shall not be found among you one who passes his son or his daughter through fire—[this is certainly sufficient warning]! Rabbi Yehudah says: This refers to one who passes his son or daughter through [the rite of] a foreign cult, and cuts a covenant with it. As it is said: When they cut the calf in two, and passed between its parts (Jeremiah 34:18) [cf. Genesis 15:9–19].

מְעוֹנֵן (Me’onen), a soothsayer—Rabbi Yishma’el says: This one passes his hand over his עַיִן (ayin), eye, before responding [cf. M Shabbat 7:14]. Rabbi Akiva says: These declare the times [i.e., which will be an auspicious עוֹנָה (onah), season; alt., one who reads עֲנָנָה (ananah), clouds]. For example, they might say: I sense that before the Sabbatical year the wheat harvest will be exceptional, but [trade in] uprooted beans will be bad. And sages say: These deceive the eyes [through apparitions].

Or מְנַחֵשׁ (me-naḥesh), diviner. What is diviner? For example, one of them might say: my bread has fallen from my mouth [and it’s not a good omen]! Or: my staff has fallen from my hand! Or: a נָחָשׁ (naḥash), snake, is passing to my right, or a fox to my left, or a deer is blocking my way! Or: don’t start with me—it’s too early in the morning! Or, it’s the New Moon today! Or, the Sabbath is over [cf. M Shabbat 7:13].

Or מְכַשֵּׁף (me-khashef), a sorcerer. This is one who tricks, but not by deceiving the eyes [through apparitions]. Rabbi Akiva says in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua: Two [sorcerers] are gathering squash—one gathers [the entire field] and is exempt [from suspicion of using sorcery,] while the other gathers [the entire field] and is liable. [Now why is this so?] The one actually performing the trick is liable, but the one who only deceives the eyes is exempt! [cf. M Sanhedrin 7:11].

חֹבֵר חָבֶר (Ḥover ḥaver), a chanter of incantations. Whether a חוֹבֵר (ḥover), collector, of snakes or scorpions.

שֹׁאֵל אוֹב (Sho’el ‘ov), an inquirer of ghost—a ventriloquist who produces speach from his armpit.

יִדְּעֹנִי (Yid’oni), familiar spirit—the speach is from his own mouth. They themselves are sentenced to stoning, and those who consult them are forewarned [cf. M Sanhedrin 7:7].

דֹרֵשׁ אֶל-הַמֵּתִים (Doresh el ha-metim), one who seeks out the dead—whether he raises [a spirit] with his member or consults a skull. What is the difference between the first and the second? When one raises with his member, it does not rise naturally, and is not consulted on the Sabbath. When he consults a skull, it rises naturally and is consulted on the Sabbath… one who starves himself and goes and sleeps in the cemetery so that a spirit of impurity rest on him. And when Rabbi Akiva came to this verse, he said: ‘Woe unto us! If a spirit of impurity rests on one who cleaves to uncleanliness, how much more so should the Holy Spirit rest upon one who cleaves to the Shekhinah! What brought this about? But your crimes have separated between you and your God, [and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear] (Isaiah 59:2).

And because of these abhorrent things YHWH your God is about to dispossess them before you. Rabbi Shim’on said: This teaches that the Canaanites were forewarned about all these practices—for they do not punish a person unless he has also been forewarned [cf. M Avodah Zarah 8:6]. When Rabbi Eli’ezer would reach this verse, he would say: More’s the pity! Just as a person who cleaves to uncleanliness—the stench of uncleanliness hovers over him, doesn’t reason demand that one who cleaves to the Shekhinah—the aroma of the spirit of the blessed Holy One hover over him? So what happened? But your crimes have separated between you and your God” (Sifre, Devarim 171–173).

“A woman once attempted to take earth from under Rabbi Ḥanina’s feet [in order to cast a spell over him]. He said to her, ‘Try as you will, you will not succeed in your attempts, for it is written: אֵין עוֹד מִלְּבַדּוֹ (ein od milvado), there is none besides Him (Deuteronomy 4:35). However, has not Rabbi Yoḥanan declared: Why is it called כְּשָׁפִים (keshafim), sorcery? Because [it is short for:] כָּחַשׁ פָמַלִיָא מַעְלָה (kaḥash famaliya ma’alah), deceives the council on high—Rabbi Ḥanina was in a different category, owing to his abundant merit” (BT Ḥullin 7b).

“[Rav said:] Every נָחָשׁ (naḥash), divination, which is not of the sort pronounced by Eli’ezer, Abraham’s servant, or by Jonathan the son of Saul, is not considered a divination!.. Rav used to regard a ferry-boat [as a sign]. Shemu’el a [passage in a] book, and Rabbi Yoḥanan [a verse quoted] by a child” (BT Ḥullin 95b).

[Eli’ezer, Abraham’s servant, said:] “Let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Pray, tip down your jug that I may drink,’ if she says, ‘Drink, and your camels, too, I shall water,’ she it is whom You have marked for Your servant, for Isaac, and by this I shall know that You have done kindness with my master.” He had barely finished speaking when, look, Rebekah was coming out… (Genesis 24:14, cf. Zohar 1:182a).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: If one rises early and a verse falls into his mouth, behold: this is a minor prophecy” (BT Berakhot 55b).

“Rabbi Yehoshua said: He who sees ט (tet) in a dream [may regard it as] a good סִימָן (siman), omen, for himself. Why so? If because it is the initial letter of טוּב (tov), good, written in Scripture, why not say [on the contrary that it is also]: And I will sweep it with the besom of טֵאטֵאתִיהָ (teiteitiha), destruction (Isaiah 14:23)?—we are speaking [here of where he saw in a dream only] one ט (tet) [whereas טֵאטֵאתִיהָ (teiteitihadestruction, contains two such letters]. But still why not say [that it might have referred to the verse] Her טֻמְאָתָהּ (tumatah), filthiness, is in her skirts (Lamentations 1:9)?—we are speaking of [where he saw in a dream the letters] ט (tet) and ב (bet). But again why not say [that it might have referred to the verse], Her gates were טָבְעוּ (tavu), sunk, into the ground (ibid. 2:9)?—the real reason is that Scripture used this letter on the very first occasion to express something good, for from the beginning of Genesis until And God saw the light, [that it was good] (Genesis 1:4) no ט (tet) occurs. Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi similarly said: He who sees [the word] הֶספֵּד (hesfed), eulogy, in a dream [may take it as a sign that] compassion has been exercised towards him in Heaven, and that he will be released [from trouble] provided, however, [he saw it] in script” (BT Baba Qamma 55a).

“Said Rav Ammi: ‘When one wishes to know whether he will survive the coming year or not, let him take a burning lamp during the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and place it in a house where there is no draft; if the lamp burns out to the end, he will know that he will survive the year. And if one is about to engage in business and wishes to know whether he will succeed or not, let him get a rooster and feed it; if it grows fat and handsome, he will know that he will succeed. When one is about to go on a journey and wishes to know whether he will return home, let him enter a darkened room [alt., the house of his neighbour]; if he can perceive the reflection of his shadow, he will know that he will return home. But it is not the proper thing [to make these tests], for one might be discouraged and mar his מַזָּל (mazal), fortune. Abayye said: Since you hold that symbols are meaningful, every man should make it a habit to eat on New Year pumpkin, fenugreek, leek, beet and dates [since these are regarded as symbols of fertility, abundance and quick growth]” (BT Keritot 6a).

Above the Stars

image“And those who do not know the mystery [of cycling souls] say: ‘Sons, life and sustenance do not depend on merit but מַזָּלא (mazzala), the flux of destiny’ (BT Mo’ed Qatan 28a). Take the case of Abram, who saw that he was not destined to have a son, and the blessed Holy One took him outside, as it is written: And He took him outside and He said, ‘Look… (Genesis 15:5). And it has been taught that He said to him: ‘Leave your astrology!’ (Bereshit Rabbah 44:12) [cf. BT Shabbat 156b]. And He took him above the stars and said to him: Look up to the heavens and count the stars, if you can count them (Genesis 15:5). So much for the words of the rabbis, for they must be interpreted in the way of what is hidden!

Come and see: All creatures in the world, before the Torah was given to Israel, were dependent on מַזָּלא (mazzala), destiny, even ‘sons, life and sustenance.’ But after the Torah was given to Israel, He removed Israel from the influence of the stars and constellations [Thus says YHWH, ‘Learn not the way of the nations, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the nations are dismayed at them’ (Jeremiah 10:2)]. This we have learned from Abraham, since his children were destined to receive from אַבְרָהָם (Avraham), Abraham: ה (he)—ה״ (five) books of Torah, as is said: ‘These are the generations of heaven and earth בְּהִבָּרְאָם (be-hibbare’am), when they were created (Genesis 2:4). Do not read בְּהִבָּרְאָם (be-hibbare’am), when they were created, but rather בְּה‘ בְּרָאָם (be-he bera’am), with ה (heHe created them(BT Menaḥot 29b) [cf. ZḤ 2d. On the especially small ה (he) of Genesis 2:4, see Bereshit Rabbah 12:9; Zohar 1:91b, 93a, 105b, 128b, 154b, 230b; 3:117a]. He said to Abraham ‘Because of that ה (he) which was added to your name, the heavens below you and all the stars and constellations that shine in ה (he) [Shekhinah] will be subservient to your will.’

Moreover, it is written: הֵא (he), look… here is seed for you, and sow the land (Genesis 47:23)—with ה (he). That is, For through Isaac shall your seed be acclaimed (Genesis 21:12). For this reason, everyone who engages in Torah is released from the influence of the stars and constellations. By learning Torah with the intention of keeping her commandments. If not, then he is as one who does not engage in Torah, and the stars and constellations do hold sway over him. Even more so the common people, who are likened to animals, about which it has been taught; Cursed be he who lies with any beast (Deuteronomy 27:21). The jurisdiction of the stars and constellations over them is certainly not annulled [cf. Maimonides’ teaching that Divine Providence delivers one from ‘the sea of chance’ Guide of the Perplexed 3:51]” (Zohar 3:215b-17a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Surely Jacob cleaved to truth. If so, then why did he act this way with Laban [using stratagems to increase the number of dark-colored sheep and white-spotted goats, see Genesis 30:32-43]? Because Jacob was examining the hour of his מַזָּלא (mazzala), zodiacal constellation, for one is permitted to examine his hour before returning to his country. If his constellation rises in accord with his undertaking, fine; if not, he should not take a step until it ascends favorably” (Zohar 1:161a).

“Why are worshipers of stars lustful? Because they did not stand at Mount Sinai. For when the serpent came upon Eve he injected filth into her: [as for] the Israelites who stood at Mount Sinai, their lustfulness departed; the worshipers of stars, who did not stand at Mount Sinai, their lustfulness did not depart. Rabbi Aha son of Rabbah asked Rabbi Ashi. What about converts? Though they were not present, their guiding stars were present, as it is written, [Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oathbut with him that stands here with us this day before YHWH our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day (Deuteronomy 29:15). Now he differs from Rabbi Abba son of Qahana, for Rabbi Abba son of Qahana said: Until three generations the filth did not disappear from our Patriarchs: Abraham begat Ishmael, Isaac begat Esau, [but] Jacob begat the twelve tribes in whom there was no taint whatsoever” (BT Shabbat 145b-46a, cf. Yevamot 103b; Avodah Zarah 22b).