The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: צִמצוּם

The Image of the Seal Through which He is Known

image“Nothing existed until there arose within the will of thought actualizing all by impress of the סָמִיטְרָא (samitra), signet, creating the world” (Zohar 1:15b).

You will be transformed like clay of a stamp (Job 38:14).

“וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (Va-yippaḥ be-appaiv nishmat ḥayyim)And He blew into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7)—חוֹתָם (ḥotam), signet ring, stamp, seal [cf. חוֹטֶם (ḥotem), nose; Isaiah 48:9]” (Ba’al ha-Turim).

“For if a man strikes many coins from one stamp they all resemble one another, but the King of the Kings of Kings, the blessed Holy One, טָבַע (tava), stamps, every man בְּחוֹתָמוֹ (be-ḥotamo), with His signet, of the first man, and yet not one of them resembles his fellow. Therefore every single person is obliged to say: ‘The world was created for my sake’” (BT Sanhedrin 37a).

What is the reason that we [tie] blue wool in צִיצִית (tsitsit), tassels? And what is the reason there are thirty-two threads? A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king had a lovely garden with thirty-two paths. He placed a guard over them and made those paths known to him alone, saying to him, ‘Guard them and go on them each day, and any time that you make your way through them peace [will be upon] you.’ What did the guard do? He said, ‘If I am alone on these paths is it possible for one guard to maintain [all of] these paths? And what’s more, the world will say, “Since [these paths are] his he [must be] king of this [garden], and he guards this [garden].”’ Therefore, this guard put other guards over the paths—thirty-two paths.

And what is the reason for the blue? The guard said, ‘Perhaps these [other] guards will say the garden belongs to me.” He gave them a sign and said to them, “See, this is the king’s sign, that this garden belongs to him. And these are the paths he maintains, they are not mine. And, look: His seal.’ A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king and his daughter had slaves [or: servants]. They sought to go a distance being terrified by the king’s dread. The king gave them his sign [of goodwill]. They were terrified of the daughter and she gave them a sign. She said, ‘From now on, with these two signs YHWH guards you from all harm, He guards your life (Psalms 121:7)’” (Bahir §96).

“בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), in the beginning (Genesis 1:1)—ב׳ רֵאשִׁית (bet reshit), bet is beginning. This is the gate of YHWH—the just will enter it (Psalms 118:20). This is the gate for the just [or: righteous] who have permission to enter there; others who are not just are driven out from there. In Her are impressed, rendered, and engraved the upper and lower images. The form of a man is impressed there, and this is דְּמוּת (demut), the likeness, of Man. The impression of a lion is there to the right, the impression of an ox to the left, and the impression of an eagle in the middle….

The four letters of the holy name, YHWH, shine upon them. The king of all the beasts is אָדָם (adam), man, which is the sum of יוֹד הֵא וָאו הֵא (Yod He Vav He), YHWH. The likeness of Man, is the holy Shekhinah, for She is His image; She is His seal, and of Her is said, Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm (Song of Songs 8:6). Thus the Shekhinah says, ‘Even though You withdraw above, Your image is not removed from me, like the seal that is in the place to which clings an impression of the seal’s owner.’ The image of the seal through which He is known is not removed from Her…. The seal of the blessed Holy One is certainly the Shekhinah” (Tiqqunei Zohar 1, 18a).

“There is no place empty of Him” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 57, 91b).

“Like a king that sends a document with his seal, and the likeness of the king is embossed in the wax of the seal. The sefirot of אֲצִילוּת (atsilut), Emanation, are precisely the likeness of the King. The sefirot of בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), Creation, are the seal of the king, and the sefirot of יְצִירָה (yetsirah), Formation, are the angels which are the living beings, and they are the form of the seal in wax” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 3b).

“Truth is the seal of the blessed Holy One” (BT Shabbat 55a).

Guardian of the Doors of Israel

mezuzah--061101-a“King Ardavan IV of Parthia sent a pearl of purest radiance to Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] and requested: Send me something equally precious in return. Rabbi sent him a mezuzah. The king sent back word: I sent you something beyond price, and you sent me something that sells for a debased coin of no value! Rabbi replied: My desirable things and your desirable things are not to be compared. You sent me something that I have to guard; I sent you something that guards while you lie asleep, as is said: [Keep, my son, your father’s command, and do not abandon your mother’s teaching. Bind them on your heart at all times, garland them round your neck.When you walk about, it will guide you, when you lie down, it will guard you, [when you wake, it will converse with you] (Proverbs 6:22)” (JT Peah 1:1, 15d).

“[When] Onqelos the son of Qalonymus became a convert, the Emperor sent a contingent of Roman [guards] after him but he enticed them with scriptural verses and they became converted…. So they took hold of him; and as they were walking on he saw the mezuzah which was fixed on the doorpost and he placed his hand on it saying to them: ‘What is this?’ and they replied: ‘You tell us.’ He said, ‘According to the way of the world, a king of flesh and blood dwells within, and his servants keep guard on him without; but the blessed Holy One, it is His servants who dwell within while He keeps guard on them from without; as is said: YHWH guards your going and coming, now and for evermore (Psalms 121:8). Then they, too, were converted. [The Emperor] sent for him no more” (BT Avodah Zarah 11a).

שַׁדָּי (Shaddai)—שׁוֹמֶר דְלָתוֹת יִשְׂרָאֶל (Shomer delatot yisra’el), Guardian of the doors of Israel” (Kol Bo 90, 101:4).

He who dwells in the Most High’s shelter, in the shadow of שַׁדַּי (Shaddailies at night—I say of YHWH, “My refuge and bastion, my God in whom I trust.” For He will save you from the fowler’s snare, from disastrous plague. With His pinion He shelters you, and beneath His wings you take refuge, a shield and a buckler, His truth. You shall not fear from the terror of the night nor from the arrow that flies by day, from the plague that stalks in darkness nor from the scourge that rages at noon. Though a thousand fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, you it will not reach…. No harm will befall you, nor affliction near your tent (Psalms 91:1–7, 10).

Afflictions of the children of Adam (2 Samuel 7:14). These lure human beings at doorways, wells, and toilets. Therefore, if a person places the Holy Name at his doorway—if שַׁדָּי (Shaddai) is inscribed in its supernal crowns—they all flee far away from him, corresponding to what is written: No affliction will draw near your tent (Psalms 91:10). What is affliction? Afflictions of the children of Adam” (Zohar 3:76b).

“שַׁדָּי (Shaddai) of the מְזוּזָה (mezuzah), doorpost, chases away the שֵׁדִים (shedim), demons, and מַזִּיקִים (mazziqim), destroyers, at the gate” (Zohar 3:251b).

She is the gate by which one must enter all wisdom, and every [divine] appellation, and הֲוָיָה (Havayah), to enter each and every sefirah. She is the knowledge of everything, and without Her no creature has permission to ponder any knowledge in the world. Of Her it is said: זֶה (Zeh), This, is the gate of YHWH (Psalms 118:20)…. 

Shekhinah is the gate onto which the mezuzah is affixed [one of the many appellations of Shekhinah is זֶה (zeh), ‘This’ (masculine pronoun), or זֹאת (zot), ‘This’ (feminine pronoun), perhaps because as the Divine Presence She is constantly right here, see Zohar 1:49b; 2:11b–12a; 3:8b]” (Zohar 3:256b, 258a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Rava said, The proper performance of the mitsvah is to fix it in the handbreadth nearest to the street. Why?—the Rabbis say, So that one should יִפְגַּע (yifgga’), encounter, a mitsvah immediately [on one’s return home, cf. Genesis 32:1: And Jacob had gone on his way, and messengers of God יִּפְגְּעוּ (yifggu)accosted him]; Rabbi Ḥanina of Sura says, So that it should protect him [and his entire house from מַזִּיקִין (mazziqin), destroyers (Rashi)]. Rabbi Ḥanina said, Come and see how the way of the blessed Holy One differs from that of flesh and blood. According to the way of flesh and blood, the king dwells within, and his servants keep guard on him from without; but with the blessed Holy One it is not so, for it is His servants that dwell within and He keeps guard over them from without; as is said, [Look, He does not slumber nor does He sleep, Israel’s guardYHWH is your guard, YHWH is your shade at your right hand (Psalms 121:4–5)” (BT Menakhot 33b).

“Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabbi Yose said, ‘A doorway that bears a mezuzah: no demon—neither accuser nor evil spirit—can approach, because the blessed Holy One watches the doorway. Even when the destroying angel has permission to harm, he lifts his gaze and sees the name of the Omnipresent poised over the doorway, as it were—and He will not allow the Destroyer to enter your houses to strike (Exodus 12:23). Therefore, one should always be [enveloped] by a mezuzah….

From where do we know this? From its written form—מְּזוּזֹת (mezuzot), doorposts. Its letters demonstrate: זָז מָוֶת (zaz mavet), Death slinks off, for he is not given permission to attack, and he slinks away from the opening” (Zohar Ḥadash 84d–85a [MhN], cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 25a, 66a).

“Our Rabbis taught: If one rents a house to another, the tenant must provide a mezuzah. But when he leaves, he must not take it with him, except [if he rented] from a gentile, [then] he must remove it when he leaves. And it once happened that a man took it away with him, and he buried his wife and two children” (BT Bava Metsi’a 102a).

“Our Rabbis taught: Children die as a punishment for [unfulfilled] vows….

[However,] Rabbi Me’ir and Rabbi Yehudah disagree: One maintains, It is for the neglect of mezuzah, while the other holds that it is for the neglect of tsitsit. Now, as for the view that it is for the neglect of mezuzah, it is well, as is written, And you shall write them on the מְזוּזוֹת (mezuzot), doorposts, of your house and in your gates, which is followed by, so that your days may be many, and the days of your children (Deuteronomy 11:20). But what is the reason of the view that it is for the neglect of tsitsit?—Rav Kahana, others say Shila Mari: because it is written, Also on your skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents (Jeremiah 2:34). Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq said, The view that it is for the neglect of mezuzah is also [learnt] from this: Did I not find them tunneling in? (ibid.) [cf. Exodus 22:1: If while tunneling, a thief should be found and is struck down and dies, there is no bloodguilt for him]—they made their entrances like [nothing more than] caves [without doorposts]” (BT Shabbat 32b).

The Cave is Filled by the Sea, yet the Sea is not Diminished

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And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of YHWH filled the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34).

“Rabbi Yehoshu’a of Sikhnin said in the name of Rabbi Levi: Why was the Tent of Meeting compared to a cave on the seashore? When the sea rises and floods it, the cave is filled by the sea, yet the sea is not diminished. So too, the Tent of Meeting was filled with the splendor of the Shekhinah, as is said, on [Israel’s] יוֹם כַּלֹּת (yom kallot), bridal day, Moses [set up the Tabernacle] (Numbers 7:1)” (Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 1:2, cf. Tanḥuma, Vayakhel, 7; Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 19a).

As I beheld the living beings, behold, one wheel on the earth alongside the living beings (Ezekiel 1:15). Rabbi El’azar said, ‘This is a certain angel who stands on earth and whose head extends close to the living beings.’ In a matnita [tannaitic tradition] it is taught: His name is Sandalfon, who is taller than his companion by a journeying distance of five hundred years. He stands behind the Chariot, binding crowns for his Maker. But is it so? Behold it is written: Blessed be the glory of YHWH from His place (Ezekiel 3:12) accordingly, none knows His place!—he pronounces the Name over the crown, and it goes and rests on His head.

Rava said: All that Ezekiel saw Isaiah saw. What does Ezekiel resemble? A villager who saw the king [and prophesied from afar, i.e., exile]. And what does Isaiah [who said: The fullness of all the land is His glory (Isaiah 6:3)] resemble? A townsman who saw the king [and prophesied from within the land of Israel]” (BT Ḥagigah 13b).

“Rabbi Dosa says: Behold, it says, You shall not be able to see My face, for no human can see Me and live (Exodus 33:20). While they are living, they do not see, but in the hour of their death, they do see. Thus it says, Before Him will kneel all who go down to the dust whose life is undone (Psalms 22:30). Rabbi Akiva says: For no human can see Me and liveeven the living beings that carry the Throne cannot see the Glory! Son of Azzai said: I do not mean to repudiate my master’s words, but to add to his words: For no human can see Me and liveeven the ministering angels, whose life is the life of eternity, do not see the Glory!” (Sifra, Vayiqra, dibbura dindavah 2:12, 4a).

What is From His place (Ezekiel 3:12)? Because no one knows His place. This is like a king’s daughter who came from afar, and nobody knew where she came from. When they saw that she was אֵשֶׁת חַיִל (eshet ḥayil), a worthy woman, lovely and refined in all that she did, they said: ‘She undoubtedly was taken from the side of the light, for her deeds give light to the world.’ They then asked her: ‘Where are you from?’ She replied: ‘From my place.’ They said: ‘If so, the people of your place must be great! Blessed are you and blessed is your place!’” (Bahir §132).

His disciples said to him: From above to below we know. But from below to above we do not know. He replied: Is it not all one—below to above and above to below? They said: Our Rabbi, ascending is not like descending. One can run while descending, but it is not so while ascending. He replied: Go out and see.

He sat and expounded for them: ‘Shekhinah is below just as Shekhinah is above’ (Seder Rabba de-Vereshit) [see Wertheimer, Battey Midrashot 1:30]. And what is Shekhinah? Say that this is the light emanated from the primordial light, Ḥokhmah. It also surrounds everything, as is written: The fullness of all the land is His glory (Isaiah 6:3). What is its function here? A parable: A king had seven sons, and he assigned each one his place. He said to them, ‘Sit, this one on the back of that one.’ The lowest one said, ‘I will not dwell below! I will not be so far from you!’ He said to them, ‘I will hereby turn and see you all day long.’ This is The fullness of all the land is His glory. Why is He in their midst? To stand them up and make them endure” (Bahir §171).

“All beings above and below cannot grasp, till finally they declare: Blessed be the glory of YHWH from His place! (Ezekiel 3:12). Those below proclaim that He is above, as is written: Your glory is above the heavens (Psalms 113:4). Those above proclaim that He is below, as is written: Your glory is over all the earth (ibid. 57:12). Finally all of them, above and below, declare: Blessed be the glory of YHWH from His place! For He is unknowable; no one has ever been able to comprehend Him” (Zohar 1:103a).

His majesty covers the heavens, and His splendor fills the earth (Habakkuk 3:3).

“What is the difference between them [ס (samekh) and ם (mem)]? Well, when enclosed and hidden within itself, within the supernal point above, She [Binah] assumes the form of the letter ס (samekh), enclosed within and hidden, ascending above. And when She returns and sits רְבִיעָא (revi’a), crouching, over children below to suckle them, She assumes the form of the letter ם (mem) [which is] רְבִיעָא (revi’a), quadrilateral, enclosed in four directions of the world [the first appearance of the letter ס (samekh) in the Torah is in the word הַסֹּבֵב (ha-sovev), surrounds (Genesis 2:11), and its second appearance is in the word וַיִּסְגֹּר (va-yisggor), closed (ibid., 21), see Bereshit Rabbah 17:6]” (Zohar 2:127a, cf. BT Shabbat 104a).

“He surrounds all the worlds, and none but He surrounds them in any direction, up or down or to the four corners of the compass, and no one has escaped outside His realm, for He fills all the worlds and there is no other that fills them [cf. BT Berakhot 10a]. He grants life, and there is no other god above Him to give Him life, as is said: You enliven them all (Nehemiah 9:6), and for Him Daniel said: And all earth’s dwellers are counted as naught, and as He chooses He does with the array of the heavens and the earth’s dwellers, [and there is none who can protest against Him and say to Him, ‘What have You done?’] (Daniel 4:32). He binds and unites kind to its kind above and below, and the four elements would have no proximity except with the blessed Holy One in their midst” (Zohar 3:225a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

A Spark of Impenetrable Darkness

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“At the head of potency of the King. He engraved engravings in luster on high. A spark of impenetrable darkness flashed within the concealed of the concealed, from the head of Infinity—a cluster of vapor forming in formlessness, thrust in a ring, not white, not black, not red, not green, no color at all. As a cord surveyed, it yielded radiant colors. Deep within the spark gushed a flow, splaying colors below, concealed within the concealed of the mystery of אֵין סוֹף (Ein Sof). It split and did not split its aura, was not known at all, until under the impact of splitting, a single, concealed, supernal point shone. Beyond that point, nothing is known, so it is called רֵאשִׁית (Reshit), Beginning, first command of all…. Zohar, Radiance! Sowing seed for its glory, like the seed of fine purple silk wrapping itself within, weaving itself a palace, constituting its praise, availing all.

With this beginning, the unknown concealed one created the palace. This palace is called אֱלֹהִים (Elohim). The secret is: בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים (Bereshit bara Elohim), With beginning, _____ created Elohim (Genesis 1:1) [cf. Bahir §10]” (Zohar 1:15a).

At the head of potency of the King… a spark of impenetrable darkness (Zohar 1:15a)when it surveyed its drawing out, there came forth from this point a hidden קָו (qav), cord. The thought was like so: ם (mem). First it was closed ם (mem). When the cord, ו (vav), extended from the מִדָּה (middah), measure, it opened and was made into ב (bet). This is בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), In the beginning (Genesis 1:1)—the רֵאשִׁית (Reshit), Beginning, in the בּ (bet). When it is closed mem, it is the great mem as in, לםרבה (le-marbeh), of the increase of, dominion (Isaiah 9:6) and it was made into a ring [cf. BT Shabbat 104a; ZḤ 72b–c]. Therefore, all say, ‘You are betrothed to me with this טַבַּעַת (taba’at), ring’—ם (mem). Of this it says a cluster of vapor forming in formlessness, thrust in a עִזְקָא (izqa), ring, not white, not black, not red, not green, no color at all (Zohar 1:15a).

When it extended to shine, a cord surveyed, it yielded radiant colors…. within (ibid.). And this is the secret of Wrapped in light like a cloak, [stretching out heavens like a tent-cloth] (Psalms 104:2). For this is the cloaked light that does not spread, hidden. The אֲוִיר (avir), atmosphere [lit., air], is called אוֹר (or), light, and with the addition of the י (yod), the point in the palace, for when one takes the yod out of avir, atmosphere, one reveals or, light. And this is And God said, Let there be light (Genesis 1:3)” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 4, 19a–20b).

“At the head of potency of the King… a spark of impenetrable darkness…. not white, not black, not red, not green, no color at all (Zohar 1:15a). This spark is the קָו מִדָּה (qav middah), cord of measure, which is clothed in the אֲוִיר (avir), atmosphere, and when it is in the atmosphere, it is closed and not seen at all. When it extends itself to be revealed, there comes out from this אֲוִיר (avir), intangible air, one point. What remains is light, the primordial light of the work of creation. As it says And God said, יְהִי אוֹר (Yehi or), ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:2)—let there be י (yod) plus אֲוִיר (avir), atmosphere, and this secret is handed to the wise of heart.

This point, after it extends from that light is clothed in four colors from the upper palace, and this is called ב (bet) so it says Through wisdom a house is built (Proverbs 24:3) and this point measures out five colors, as it says Who measured at the rising of the water (Isaiah 40:12)” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 18, 37b).

He Traced a Circle on the Face of the Deep

IMG_0951The carpenter stretches a line, marks the outline with a stylus, he makes it with a plane, marks the outline with a compass, and makes it in the form of man, human splendor to set in a temple (Isaiah 44:13).

When He traced a circle on the face of the deep… when He set to the sea its limit (Proverbs 8:27–9).

“Come and see: Every circle in the world is formed from the midst of the single point standing in its center” (Zohar Ḥadash 5b, Sitrei Otiyyot).

“From a single point you can extend the dimensions of all things. Similarly, when the concealed arouses itself to exist, at first it brings into being something the size of the point of a needle, from there it generates everything” (Rabbi Moshe de León, Sheqel ha-Qodesh, 23–26, translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 69).

“When enclosed and hidden within itself, within the supernal point above, She [Binah] assumes the form of the letter ס (samekh), enclosed within and hidden, ascending above. And when She returns and sits רְבִיעָא (revi’a), crouching, over children below to suckle them, She assumes the form of the letter ם (mem), רְבִיעָא (revi’a), quadrilateral, enclosed in four directions of the world [the first appearance of the letter ס (samekh) in the Torah is in the word הַסֹּבֵב (ha-sovev), surrounds (Genesis 2:11), and its second appearance is in the word וַיִּסְגֹּר (va-yisgor), closed (ibid., 21), see Bereshit Rabbah 17:6]” (Zohar 2:127a).

Ripples

IMG_1217“Ten sefirot of emptiness—bridle, your mouth from speaking, bridle your heart from conceiving. And if your heart races return to the Place, as is written, Racing back and forth [like the appearance of sparks (or: lightening)] (Ezekiel 1:14)—concerning this a pact was sealed” (Sefer Yetsirah §5).

“But sometimes truth flashes out to us so that we think that it is day, and then matter and habit in their various forms conceal it so that we find ourselves again in an obscure night, almost as we were at first. We are like someone in a very dark night over whom the lightning flashes time and time again” (Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 4b, cf. BT Sanhedrin 98b).

“Like pondering a thought: the light of that thought suddenly darkens, vanishes; then it returns and shines—and vanishes again. No one can understand the content of that light. It is like the light that appears when water ripples in a bowl: shining here, suddenly disappearing—then reappearing somewhere else. You think that you have grasped the light, when suddenly it escapes, radiating elsewhere. You pursue it, hoping to catch it—but you cannot. Yet you cannot bring yourself to leave. You keep pursuing it” (Rabbi Moshe de León, Sheqel ha-Qodesh 113 translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 114).

“[In the center of the fire the likeness of the חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber (Ezekiel 1:4)]. It has been established that חֵיוָן אֶשָּׁא מְמַלְּלָן (ḥeivan esha memall’lan), fiery beings speaking, are the splendor that shines, it goes up and down, the fire that is burning. It exists and does not exist, for there is no one who can understand it in one place. No eyes or vision can master it. It is and it is not, in one place and then in another place. It goes up and down. In this appearance is hidden that which is hidden and that which is concealed. This is the mystery called חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber. Prophets must see, know, and contemplate within this with the vision of the heart and eye more than anything else.… All that they contemplate to see and to know is the speculum that does not shine. No prophet merited to contemplate the speculum that shines but Moses, the faithful prophet, for all the keys of the house were placed in his hand. When all the other prophets reached this amber to contemplate with their eyes, their thoughts were confused and the heart was not settled, and because of it they abandoned all corporeal images. Consequently, they saw within what they saw in silence” (Zohar Ḥadash 38b, adapted from Wolfson, Through a Speculum that Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, cf. Zohar 2:82a).

“In a barraita it is taught: [חַשְׁמַל (Ḥashmal)] עִתִּים חֲשׁוֹת עִתִּים מְמַלְּלוֹת (ittim ḥashot ittim mimallot), at times they are silent, at times they speak—when the utterance emanates from the mouth of the blessed Holy One they are silent, and when the utterance does not emanates from the mouth of the blessed Holy One they speak” (BT Ḥagigah 13b).

Stoic Like a Lion Until Morning

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Three things stride handsomely and four things handsomely walk: the lion, mightiest of beasts, who does not turn back from anything, the rooster and the he-goat, and the king against whom none can stand (Proverbs 30:29–31).

“The lion is saying, YHWH sallies forth as a warrior, as a man of war He stirs up fury. He raises the battle cry, even bellows, over His enemies (Isaiah 42:13)” (Pereq Shirah).

“Yehudah son of Teima said: Be as bold as a leopard, swift as an eagle, fleet as a gazelle, and as mighty as a lion, to do the will of your Father in Heaven” (M Avot 5:24).

“Who is strong? One who turns an enemy into a friend” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan 23:1).

“Son of Zoma said: Who is strong? One who masters his [evil] impulse, as is written, Better patience than a warrior, and he who governs his spirit, than a conqueror of towns (Proverbs 16:32)” (M Avot 4:1).

“Abba Ḥanan said: Who is like You, powerful Yah? (Psalms 89:9). Who is like You, powerful—indurate, that You hear the blaspheming and insults of that wicked man and keep silent? In the academy of Rabbi Yishma’el it was taught: Who is like You among אֵלִם (elim), the gods? (Exodus 15:11). Who is like you among the אִלֵּמִים (illemim), mute” (BT Gittin 56b, cf. Ginnat Egoz 11c; 13d; Zohar 1:36b; 3:221a [RM]; Shemot Rabbah 34:1).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The blessed Holy One—wherever you find His strength you find His meekness” (BT Megillah 31a).

“Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said: Why were they called men of the Great Assembly? Because they restored the Crown of Glory. [For] Moses had come and said: The great and mighty and fearsome God (Deuteronomy 10:17).

Then Jeremiah came and said: Foreigners carousing in His Palace! Where is His fearsomeness? It does not say fearsome [see Jeremiah 32:17: Ah YHWH God! behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great might and outstretched arm, and there is nothing too hard for You].

Daniel came and said: Foreigners are enslaving His sons. Where are His mighty deeds? It does not say mighty [see Daniel 9:4: O Master, great and fearsome God].

But [the men of the Great Assembly] came and said: On the contrary! Therein lies His Might, since He subdues His impulse and He extends patience to the wicked. Therein lies His fearsomeness: For but for the fear of Him, how could one [single] nation persist among the [many] nations! But how could [the earlier] Rabbis [namely, Jeremiah and Daniel] abolish something established by Moses? Rabbi El’azar said: Since they knew that the blessed Holy One insists on Truth, they would not ascribe false [things] to Him [since to them the circumstances indicated that He wished to subdue His mighty or fearsome deeds]” (BT Yoma 69b).

As the lion growls, the manned beast over its prey, when a shepherd’s band gathers against it, it fears not their voice, nor is cowed by their clamor (Isaiah 31:4).

I make myself stoic, like a lion until morning (Isaiah 38:13).

And he shall call out, [like] a lion on lookout: “My Lord I stand perpetually by day and on my watch I am stationed all through the nights (Isaiah 21:8).

Should we accept only good from God and not accept evil? (Job 2:10).

“My God, guard my tongue from evil and my lips from deceitful speech. To those who curse me, may my soul be silent; may my soul be to all like the dust” (BT Berakhot 17a).

“Over evil a blessing is said similar to that over good and over good a blessing is said similar to that over evil” (BT Berakhot 54a).

“There is nothing good higher than עֹנֶג (oneg), pleasure, there is nothing evil lower than נֶגַע (nega), plague” (Sefer Yetsirah 2:2).

Only doing justice and loving kindness and walking humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). What is walking humbly with your God? To escort the dead to the grave and lead the bride to the bridal chamber [both with equanimity]” (BT Sukkah 49b).

Words of Torah Only Remain with Him Who Makes Himself Like One Who is as Nothing

Tisha bAv“[Alexander of Macedonia asked the Sages of the Negev:] What shall a man do to live? They replied: Let him kill himself. What should a man do to kill himself? They replied: Let him keep himself alive” (BT Tamid 32a).

“As for the mystery of equanimity, Rabbi Avner told me the following: ‘A lover of wisdom came to one who secluded himself in meditation and asked to be accepted as one of them. The master of meditation replied, ‘My son, may you be blessed from heaven, for your intention is good. But let me know: Have you attained equanimity or not?’ He responded, ‘Master, clarify your words.’ He explained, ‘My son if one person honors you and another humiliates you, are the two equal in your eyes or not?’ He answered, ‘By the life of your soul, my master! I do feel pleasure and satisfaction from the one who honors me and pain from the one who humiliates me—but I am not vengeful nor do I bear a grudge.’ The master said, ‘My son, go away in peace. For as long as you have not attained equanimity and still feel humiliation from something done to you, you are not ready for your thought to be linked on high. You are not ready to come and seclude yourself in meditation. But go and humble your heart further, genuinely, until you attain equanimity. Then you can experience aloneness” (Rabbi Yitsḥaq of Akko, Me’irat Einayim, translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 118).

“Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Ḥanina said: Words of Torah only remain with him who renders himself naked on their behalf; as it is said: I, Wisdom, dwell in shrewdness [lit., nakedness] (Proverbs 8:12). Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Words of Torah only remain with him who makes himself like one who is as אַיִן (ayin), nothing, as it is said: מֵאַיִן (me-ayin), from nothing, comes Wisdom (Job 28:12)” (BT Sotah 21b).

“This is alluded to in that the letters of אֲנִי (Ani), I, are the same as אַיִן (ayin), nothing” (Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, Sha’arei Orah).

The fear of YHWH is His treasury (Isaiah 33:6)—a man must first fear Heaven, then he can learn Torah. This is like someone who comes to buy date honey but does not bring a vessel in which to carry it” (Bahir §186).

“Rabbi El’azar opened, Lift your eyes on high and see: Who created these? (Isaiah 40:26). Lift your eyes on high. To which site? The site toward which all eyes gaze. Which is that? Opening of the eyes [Shekhinah] (Genesis 38:14) [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 85:7]. There you will discover that the concealed ancient one, susceptible to questioning, created these. Who is that? מִי (Mi), Who [Binah]. The one called End of Heaven above, whose domain extends over everything. Since it can be questioned, yet remains concealed and unrevealed, it is called Who. Beyond, there is no question.

This end of heaven is called Who. There is another below, called What [Shekhinah]. What distinguishes the two? The first, concealed one—called Who—can be questioned. Once a human being questions and searches [cf. Bahir §194], contemplating and knowing rung after rung to the very last rung—once one reaches there: What? What do you know? What have you contemplated? For what have you searched? All is concealed, as before….

Your ruin is as vast as the ocean (Lamentations 2:13). Yet if you say you cannot endure or be healed, then מִי (Mi), Who, will heal you (ibid.), really! That concealed, high rung in which all exists will heal you and raise you up” (Zohar 1:1b).

Night Vision

Starry_Night_Over_the_Rhone“There is a visionary mirror reflecting supernal colors, envisioned in that visionary mirror [Shekhinah]; there is vision within vision, and vision within vision, one above the other, all poised on specific rungs, presiding, called night vision (Daniel 2:19). Through them spread all dreams of the world, these resembling those above” (Zohar 1:196a).

“Come and see: All prophets of the world absorb from a single facet, through two known rungs [Netsaḥ and Hod which are considered a single field of prophetic vision]. Those rungs appeared through a dim glass, as is written: בַּמַּרְאָה (ba-mar’ah), in a vision, I make Myself known to him (Numbers 12:6). Who is ba-mar’ah? As has been said: a mirror in which all colors appear; this is the dim glass” (Zohar 1:183a, cf. ibid. 2:82b).

“[Moses the Faithful Shepherd] said ‘[Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai,] Holy Lamp, this vision is at times preceded by the letter ה (he), as in, And it was according to the appearance of הַמַּרְאֶה (ha-mar’eh), the vision [which I saw] (Ezekiel 43:3) and at times by the letter ב (bet), as in, I make Myself known to him בַּמַּרְאָה (ba-mar’ah), in a vision (Numbers 12:6); at times by מ (mem), as in, מִמַּרְאֵה (mi-mar’eh), from the appearance, of his waist and downward (Ezekiel 1:27), at times with כ (kaf), as in, כְּמַרְאֵה (ke-mar’eh), as the appearance, of a man upon it (ibid., 26); sometimes by ו (vav), as in, וּמַרְאֵה (u-mar’eh), And the sight, of the glory of YHWH (Exodus 24:17), and ל (lamed), as in, as soon as she לְמַרְאֵה (le-mar’eh), saw, them with her eyes (Ezekiel 23:16). Yet it did not need an additional letter at all except ב (bet) of בַּמַּרְאָה (ba-mar’ah). But surely this mirror [Shekhinah] comprehends ten sefirot, and each letter indicates its sefirah, namely כְּמַרְאֵה (ke-mar’ah) with כ (kaf), indicates כֶּתֶר (keter), Crown, and so on; the rest of the letters each indicates its own sefirah. And there is no need to speak here at length, a hint is sufficient for the wise….’

דִּמְיוֹנוֹת וְחֶזְיוֹנוֹת (Dimyonot ve-ḥezyonot), images and visions, are like discerning one thing from another; likening one thing to another, but a vision that is in the mind’s eye is like a light that shines on the pupil of the eye since the pupil [Shekhinah] is black, as is written, I am black but desirable (Song of Songs 1:5), with the white light in the eye that shines. This pupil of the eye is called the mitsvah is a lamp (Proverbs 6:23), and the light that shines within it from inside is, and Torah a light (ibid.)….

The dream is with the eyes shut for which reason it is called the dim glass. Prophecy is a vision with open eyes, since the three colors of the eye correspond to the three patriarchs [Ḥesed, GevurahTif’eret] in which the only Daughter [בַּת עֵינָא (bat eina), daughter of the eye, i.e., the pupil of the eye] shines. The two sides of the eyes are Netsaḥ and Hod, and the vision [of prophecy] is seen only through them. When they are open it is a waking vision and when they are shut it is a vision in a dream” (Zohar 3:280b–81a, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

Pearls, Drop by Drop, All Linking as One

“Come and see: There are three souls, ascending by certain rungs, and as for their being three, they are four. One: transcendent soul that cannot be grasped. The supreme royal treasurer is unaware of it, let alone the lower one. This is soul of all souls, concealed, eternally unrevealed, unknowable—and all of them depend upon it. This envelops itself in a wrapping of crystal radiance within radiancy, and drips pearls, drop by drop, all linking as one, like joints of limbs of one body—one. It enters them, displaying through them its activity; this and they are one, inseparable. This supernal soul is hidden to all. Another soul: female concealing herself within her forces. She is their soul, and out of them a body is woven, to display activity through them to the whole world—like the body, which is an instrument for the soul to convey action. These correspond to those hidden joints above” (Zohar 1:245b).

“This Holy Spirit becomes like a body so that another spirit may be continued within it—supernal, subtle, luminous. So all is embraced and contained, one in another, entering one another, until finally embraced within this world, the last external shell. The hard shell is within the shell of this world—like a nut, whose outer shell is not hard but whose inner shell is. So too above: the hard shell is the other spirit ruling the body; within it is a thin shell, and within that the kernel” (Zohar 2:141a).

“Three courts are four; four courts above, four below, as is written: You shall not commit perversion in justicein measure, in weight, or in capacity (Leviticus 19:35). Harsh judgment, judgment that is not harsh; balanced judgment, judgement that is not balanced; mild judgement, judgment not even this or that” (Zohar 2:179a, Sifra di-Tsni’uta).

Come and see: How many hidden causes are clothed and conveyed by the sefirot! The sefirot are but chariots to them, for they are concealed from human thought. Of them is written: [If you see the oppression of the poor and the perversion of justice and right in the province, be not amazed at the matter,for he who is high has a higher one watching him, and still higher ones over them (Ecclesiastes 5:7)—נְהוֹרִין מְצוּחְצָחִין (nehorin metsuḥtsaḥin), glaring white lights, these above those, but those that are receptacles are darkness compared to the others above them. And their is no light that can exist before the עִלַּת הָעִלּוֹת (illat ha-illot), Cause of Causes, all lights are darkened before Him” (Zohar 1:23a, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

“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!” (Zohar 3:288a, Idra Zuta).