The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: קֶבֶר

The Graves of Lust

These are the journeyings of the Israelites who came out of the land of Egypt by their battalions, in the hand of Moses and Aaron. And Moses wrote down their departure points for their journeyings by the mouth of YHWH, and these are their journeyings by their departure points (Numbers 33:1–2).

Why is this place called תַּבְעֵרָה (taverah), Burning (Numbers 11:3)? Because each and every light that reaches there is burned immediately on account of its great purity. However, they said in The Mystery of Souls, ‘One light is drawn out from the blessed Holy One, and when coupling is performed, and the souls sparkle and mate with this light, and this light extends until תַּבְעֵרָה (taverah), Burning, its name is צְבָאוֹת (tseva’ot), Armies.’ Therefore I say that the souls in Burning remain. But as long as we have this wondrous wisdom we can understand what is written: And at Taberah and at Massah and at Kibroth-Hatta’avah [you infuriated YHWH] (Deuteronomy 9:22)—Ḥokhmah (Wisdom) is found there along the entire way. The blessed Holy One said in His Torah, And at Taberah and at Massah and at Kibroth-Hatta’avahthe place from which human beings desire and תַאֲוָה (ta’avah), crave, to attain good and to attain evil. Israel, seeing the greatness of these three places, were intent to know the Shepherd who sates them. They began to say ‘From the Omnipresent descends [both] the good and the evil. For this is the site of a great rung, yet without a ruler in it, since the majesty of the blessed Holy One does not oversee all His creatures. Rather He left three to act in His place as they please.’ Hence, [Israel] tried the blessed Holy One in every matter [cf. Zohar 2:64b].

The sages say three seraphs [alt., princes] whose rungs are without end receive from those three places. From Burning descends the brilliance of Ḥokhmah to the place, נַחַל אַרְנוֹן (naḥal arnon), River Arnon [lit., Ringing River. On Arnon, see Numbers 21:14, cf. Zohar 2:56a]. Its name is deep: אַדִירִירוֹן (Adiriron) the place of רִנָּה (rinnah), glad song, portent, and wisdom. It is the organ which sustains the entire body [אַדִירִירוֹן (adiriron): from a root meaning, ‘mighty,’ see Margaliot, Mal’akhe Elyon (Jerusalem, 1964)].

When the host on high see Ḥokhmah shining they begin to sing, as it says, When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7) [cf. ZḤ 5b–6a (MhN)]. Ḥokhmah reaches them and they rise, certainly receiving from there Ḥokhmah and Gevurah and Gedullah. Ḥokhmah reaches from River Arnon to נַחַל עֲבָרִים (naḥal avarim), River Abarim, and from there returns to its place again [on Mount Abarim, see Numbers 27:12, 33:47–48; Deuteronomy 32:48–52].

The thirty-two paths grow stronger, rising and covering all the spheres and all the rungs and the worlds and all the abysses but near the brilliance of Ḥokhmah appear as naught. And above, the distance of a bow-shot of 600,000 [spans], they appear as a bowl [cf. Bemidbar Rabbah 13:14: ‘One silver bowl (Numbers 7:13)—the world He made is like a (mere) ball thrown from hand to hand’]. The thirty-two paths grow stronger rising and covering all the spheres and all their places.

They say Ḥokhmah is supernal man, known as Ezion Geber [see Numbers 33:35–36; Deuteronomy 2:8], as I said before. The River Abarim, which we already mentioned, is called מִשְׁבְּצוֹת (mishbetsot), Brocade [of gold and silver, i.e., Judgment and Kindness] (known by the permutation of the four letter Name, as I will explain with the vocalization of this matter) [on Brocade (or: Filigree), see Exodus 28:13; Psalms 45:14; Bahir §54, §63]. We said of this expansive matter—the River Abarim—that in it certain sages erred grievously, such as Elisha the Other [see BT Ḥagigah 14b; Zohar 1:26b (TZ); 3:222b (RM); Berit Menuḥa: Eight Vowel. עֲבָרִים (Avarim), Abarim, alludes to עָבְרִים (averim), crossings, and עֲבֵרָה (averah), transgression]. However, the relic of the great and mighty sages of Israel, heads of the generations, standing in venerable places, took to restore what was lost and to save the sons of man.

Behold the chapter headings of this wondrous wisdom: Three times a day the wisdom increases higher and higher: at the first hour, at the sixth hour, and at the last hour [cf. Zohar 2:21b; ZḤ 5b–6a (MhN)]. In these hours everyone of the thirty-two paths is rooted in the first letter of יהוה (YHWH)—in the lower tip [of י (yod)] looking downwards. Since it looks down so too does Ḥokhmah (Wisdom), great in Gevurah (Strength) and Raamim (Compassion). But if it looks upwards even the angels and sons of man cannot attain Ḥokhmah and are as beasts of the field. Therefore it looks downwards and Ḥokhmah is received by creatures and as it saw, for it is vastly higher above all the rungs and none are higher than it, it directs its face to three places. First towards the north, the place of Gevurah, lowering its pride it remains bowed down in great trembling [cf. Zohar 3:229a (RM): ‘(Shekhinah) stands before Him always, and bows before Him and falls on Her face at His feet to ask compassion from Him for Her children. She is humble before Him and She is modest before Him’]. This place is a place of awe, it is Burning, [the angel] אגלא (AGLA) [i.e., אַתָה גִבּוֹר לְעוֹלָם אֲדֹנָי (atah gibbor le-olam Adonai), You are eternally mighty Lord], included in Torah. It performs actions for the enlightened without purification with the line of awe. The second place is a place of humility, and its name is called מְנוּחָה (menuḥa), Rest, it is יְחִדרִיאֵל (Yeḥidri’el), אֱלֹהִי יִשְׂרָאֵל (Elohi Yisra’el), God of Israel. The third place is a place of שִׂמְחָה (simḥah), joy, and its name is called מפרישמיה (MPRISMYH) [see Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital, Sha’arei Qedushah, 4:1].

Whoever desires to learn wisdom should cleave to these three rungs: יִראָה (yirah), awe, עֲנָוָה (anavah), humility, and שִׂמְחָה (simḥah), joy—he יִראָה (yirah), fears, sin is עָנָו (anav), humble, and שַׂמֵחַ (sameaḥ), happy, with his lot [cf. Deuteronomy 28:47]. When he attains the discernment of these three rungs he attains Ḥokhmah [cf. M Avot 3:11; 4:1; 5:19]. These three places are bound to each other, and one is no different than the other; they are all one [cf. M Sotah 9:15; BT Avodah Zarah 20b; Zohar 3:145a; Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 5b]. And the angels who receive from these three places are הוֹרִיאֵל (Hori’el), גַּבִּיאֵל (Gabbi’el), and גַּבְרִיאֵל (Gavri’el), Gabriel [see Margaliot, Mal’akhe Elyon (Jerusalem, 1964), p. 42]. Names which bless and curse without need of purification and without need of permission from הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim), the Judge, but act however they please. Yet they are names of goodness, for they are without inquiry and without limit. The first of these three places is daunting, it’s name is תַּבְעֵרָה שֶׂכֶל (taverah sekhel), Burning Intellect. The lights are fearful when they ascend lest it burn them with its great holiness. However, he who cleaves to the rung of awe escapes burning [cf. Numbers 11:3: And (Moses) he called the name of that place Taberah, for YHWH’s fire had burned against them].

The second [rung] is humility [called:] מַסָּה (massah), Trial (Deuteronomy 9:22). Without limit to its holiness and strength this place is very great. For when all the lights and all the lofty host pass through this place it is known who conducts himself faithfully or not, thus it is called Trial.

The third [rung] is joy, the site of קִבְרוֹת הַתַּאֲוָה (kivrot hatta’avah), the Graves of Lust (Numbers 11:34). Whoever does not reach this resting place, the Graves of Lust, does not see light and does not attain Ḥokhmah.

There is one place dwelling in the heavens [beyond the heavens…] (1 Kings 8:27), and there is אֵין סוֹף (ein sof), no end, to its discernment but its place is hidden because of the קַטנוּת (qatnut), puniness, of [our] intellect [see Bahir §10, cf. BT Eruvin 53a]. And when the great luminaries grow, ascending, and see the banner standing in the middle of the palace-chamber they declare this place מְנוּחָה (menuḥah), Rest. They stand hoping to glimpse its glorious brilliance. When this hidden light increases abundantly, expanding, and emanates its brilliance outside the palace-chamber then they incline to see more and they ascend and reach the place of חֶשְׁבּוֹן (ḥeshbon), Reckoning [see Numbers 21:27; Ecclesiastes 7:27; Song of Songs 7:5]. But when they reach its border they are burned immediately by the purity of this great light—they are all burned standing in it and none of them ever emerge, for this place is called, in the language of parable, the Graves of Lust. Most of them that desired to know the essence were consumed in holiness and were not seen again.

Numerous lights and princes, brave and powerful, were consumed in this place called the Graves of Lust, an expression of the essence of יהוה (YHWH). But let me tell you the angels and the lights which were consumed in this place since the time of the Formation [of the world] were numerous, great, strong, and perfect in their degrees. Big and mighty angels were consumed by this great luminary, those from the camp of שָׂרָפִים (serafim) and from the camp of תַּרְשִׁישִׁים‎‎ (tarshishim) [two classes of angels] since it arose in their minds to strengthen themselves and ascend until this place but there they were consumed, as is written of them, For there the people buried the ones who had been craving (Numbers 11:34). Do not let evil arise in your mind, however, and think that words of Torah only accord with their plain meaning, you are forbidden from believing this. Happy is the man who delves to know, to attain Ḥokhmah in this place called the Graves of Lust” (Berit MenuḥaFirst Way: The Way of Wisdom).

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My Fathers Pray on My Behalf: Were it not for our Supplications on Behalf of the Living they would not Survive for even Half a Day!

76157_129532000435332_100001355978667_158503_2959196_nAnd they went up through the Negeb and he came to Hebron (Number 13:22)—it should read and they came!—Rabba said: It teaches that Caleb held aloof from the plan of the spies and went and prostrated himself upon the graves of the patriarchs, saying to them, ‘My fathers, pray on my behalf that I may be delivered from the plan of the spies.’ As for Joshua, Moses had already prayed on his behalf; as it is said: And Moses called Hosea the son of Nun יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshu’a), Joshua (ibid., 16), [meaning], יָהּ יוֹשִׁיעַךָ (Yah yoshi’akha), May Yah save you, from the spies’ plan. That is the intention of what is written: But My servant Caleb, inasmuch as there was another spirit with him (ibid. 14:24)” (BT Sotah 34b).

“Why do they go to the cemetery?—with regard to this there is a difference of opinion between Rabbi Levi son of Ḥama [alt., Rabbi Levi son of Laḥma] and Rabbi Ḥanina. One says: [To signify thereby], We are as the dead before You; and the other says: In order that the dead should intercede for mercy on our behalf. What is the difference between them?—the difference is with regard to going to the cemetery of the nations” (BT Ta’anit 16a).

“The sons of Rabbi Ḥiyya went to the villages to cultivate their property, and they began to forget their learning. They tried very hard to recall it. One said to the other: Does our father know of our trouble? How should he know, replied the other, seeing that it is written, If sons grow great, he will not notice them (Job 14:21). The other said to him: But does he not know? Is it not written: But the flesh upon him will ache, נַפְשׁוֹ (nafsho), his own being, will mourn for him (Job 14:22). And Rabbi Yitsḥaq said [commenting on this]: The worm is as painful to the dead as a needle in the flesh of the living? [He replied]: It is explained that they know their own pain, they do not know the pain of others.

Is that so? Has it not been taught: It is related that a certain devout man gave a denar to a poor man on the eve of Rosh HaShanah in a year of drought, and his wife scolded him, and he went and passed the night in the cemetery, and he heard two רוּחוֹת (ruḥot), spirits, conversing with one another. One said to her companion: My dear, come and let us wander about the world and let us hear from behind the curtain what suffering is coming on the world [in the divine judgment pronounced on Rosh Hashanah]. Her companion said to her: I am not able, because I am buried in a matting of reeds [and not in a linen shroud]. But do go, and whatever you hear tell me.

So the other went and wandered about and returned. Her companion said to her: My dear, what have you heard from behind the curtain? She replied: I heard that whoever sows after the first rainfall [about the seventeenth of Heshvan (Rashi)] will have his crop destroyed by hail. So the man went and did not sow till after the second rainfall [which would be about six days after the first], with the result that everyone else’s crop was destroyed but his was not destroyed [not being sufficiently grown yet].

The next year he again went and passed the night in the cemetery, and heard the two spirits conversing with one another. One said to her companion: Come and let us wander about the world and hear from behind the curtain what punishment is coming upon the world. The other said to her: My dear, did I not tell you that I am not able because I am buried in a matting of reeds? But you go, and whatever you hear, come and tell me. So the other one went and wandered about the world and returned. She said to her: My dear, what have you heard from behind the curtain? She replied: I heard that whoever sows after the later rain will have his crop struck with blight. So the man went and sowed after the first rain with the result that everyone else’s crop was blighted but his was not blighted [being by now strong enough to resist]. His wife said to him: How is it that last year everyone else’s crop was destroyed but yours was not destroyed, and this year everyone else’s crop is blighted and yours is not blighted? So he related to her all his experiences.

The story goes that shortly afterwards a quarrel broke out between the wife of that devout man and the mother of the child [whose ruaḥ, spirit, the devout man had heard conversing], and the former said to the latter, Come and I will show you your daughter buried in a matting of reeds. The next year the man again went and spent the night in the cemetery and heard those conversing together. One said: My dear, come and let us wander about the world and hear from behind the curtain what suffering is coming upon the world. Said the other: My dear, leave me alone; our conversation has already been heard among the living. This would prove that they know?—perhaps some other man after his death went and told them.

Come and hear: for Ze’iri deposited some money with his landlady, and while he was away visiting Rav she died. So he went after her to the court of death and said to her, Where is my money? She replied to him: Go and take it from under the ground, in the hole of the doorpost, in such and such a place, and tell my mother to send me my comb and my tube of eye-paint by the hand of so-and-so who is coming here tomorrow. Does not this show that they know?—perhaps דוּמָה (Dumah) [lit., Silence, the angel presiding over the dead] announces to them beforehand [that so-and-so will die, but they know nothing else].

Come and hear: The father of Shemu’el had some money belonging to orphans deposited with him. When he died, Shemu’el was not with him, and they called him, ‘The son who consumes the money of orphans.’ So he went after his father to the cemetery, and said to them [the dead]. I am looking for Abba. They said to him: There are many of that name here. I want Abba son of Abba, he said. They replied: There are also several Abbas son of Abba here. He then said to them: I want Abba son of Abba the father of Shemu’el; where is he? They replied: He has gone up to the מְתִיבְתָּא רָקִיעַא (metivta raqia), celestial academy.

Meanwhile he saw Levi sitting outside. He said to him: Why are you sitting outside? Why have you not gone up? He replied: Because they said to me: For as many years as you did not go up to the academy of Rav Efes and hurt his feelings [see BT Qetubot 13b], we will not let you go up to the celestial academy. Meanwhile his father came. Shemu’el observed that he was both weeping and laughing. He said to him: Why are you weeping? He replied: Because you are coming here soon. And why are you laughing? Because you are highly esteemed in this world. He thereupon said to him: If I am esteemed, let them take up Levi; and they did take up Levi. He then said to him: Where is the money of the orphans? He replied: Go and you will find it in the case of the millstones. The money at the top and the bottom is mine, that in the middle is the orphans’ He said to him: Why did you do like that? He replied: So that if thieves came, they should take mine, and if the earth destroyed any, it should destroy mine. Does not this show that they know?—perhaps Shemu’el was exceptional: as he was esteemed, they proclaimed beforehand, Make way [for him]!

Rabbi Yonatan also retracted his opinion. For Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan: Whence do we know that the dead converse with one another? Because it says: And YHWH said to him, ‘This is the land that I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, [To your seed I will give it’] (Deuteronomy 34:4). What is the meaning of לֵאמֹר (lemor), saying? The blessed Holy One said to Moses: Say to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: The oath which I swore to you I have already carried out for your descendants.

Now if you maintain that the dead do not know, what would be the use of his telling them?—you infer then that they do know. In that case, why should he need to tell them?—so that they might be grateful to Moses. Rabbi Yitsḥaq said: If one makes remarks about the dead, it is like making remarks about a stone. Some say [the reason is that] they do not know, others that they know but do not care. Can that be so? Has not Rav Papa said: A certain man made derogatory remarks about Mar Shemu’el and a log fell from the roof and broke his skull?—a disciple of wisdom is different, because the blessed Holy One avenges his honor” (BT Sanhedrin 18b–19a).

“Rabbi Ḥiyya prostrated himself on the ground, kissing the dust and weeping. He cried out, ‘Dust, dust, how stubborn you are, how impudent! All delights of the eye decay in you. All pillars of light in the world you consume and pulverize. How insolent you are! The Holy Lamp who has illumined the world, majestic ruler, prince, whose merit sustains the world, decays in you. O Rabbi Shim’on, radiance of the lamp, radiance of the worlds, you decompose in the dust, yet you subsist and guide the world!’

For a moment he was shocked, and then exclaimed, ‘Dust, dust, do not boast! The pillars of the world will not be surrendered to you. Rabbi Shim’on has not decayed in you! [since the bodies of the righteous do not decay, see BT Bava Metsi’a 84b]” (Zohar 1:4b).

“Rabbi Yehudah son of Shalom was walking on the way, and Rabbi Abba was with him. They entered a certain אַתְרָא (atra), place and lodged there [alt., אִדְּרָא (iddera), threshing floor, from the Greek ἕδρᾱ (hedra), seat, implying a sacred site (see Meroz, ‘The Story in the Zohar about the Grieving Dead’)]. They ate. When they wished to lie down, they lay their heads on a mound of earth—where there was a grave. Before they fell asleep, a voice called out from the grave, saying, ‘A seed is earthbound. For twelve years I have not awakened, except now; I have just seen the countenance of my son!’

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Who are you?’ He replied, ‘I am a Jew and I sit reproached; I do not want to enter on account of my son’s sorrow, for a gentile kidnapped him when he was young, and he beats him every day. His sorrow prevents me from entering my site, and I have not awakened in this place until now.’ He said to him, ‘Are you aware of the sorrows of the living? He replied, ‘[By the life of] the denizens of the graves! Were it not for our supplications on behalf of the living, they would not survive for even half a day! Now I have awakened here, for today I was told that presently my son would be coming here, though I know not whether dead or alive [cf. BT Sanhedrin 104a].’

Rabbi Yehudah said to him, ‘What is your business in that world?’ The grave rumbled and said, ‘Arise, be gone! For now they are beating my son.’ They were stunned and fled from there about half a mile. They sat until the morning shone. They rose to walk on. They saw a person running and fleeing, his shoulders dripping blood. They grabbed him and he told them what had happened. They said to him, ‘What is your name?’

He replied, ‘Laḥma son of Levai.’ They said, ‘Was not that dead man Levai son of Laḥma?! We are afraid to speak with him anymore [cf. BT Ta’anit 16a]! They did not return. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Concerning what they said: that the prayers of the dead protect the living—how do we know? As is written: They went up through the Negeb, and he came as far as Hebron (Numbers 13:22) [cf. BT Sotah 34b]'” (Zohar 2:16a–b, Midrash ha-Ne’lam).

“Inhabitants of the world will one day cry out, and no one will care about them. They will turn their heads in every direction and turn back without a remedy. But one remedy I have found in the world and no more. In a place where there exist those who toil in Torah, if there exists among them a Torah scroll free of falsification—when they take this out, for its sake upper and lower beings arouse, especially if the Holy Name is written therein properly. We have already learned this matter.

Woe to the generation among whom the Torah scroll is exiled, yet beings above and below fail to arouse! Who will arouse for it when the world is in greater trouble and the Torah scroll must be exiled further because of the world’s distress? For when the world suffers and people pray for mercy at the graves, all the dead arouse for them. נֶפֶשׁ (Nefesh) hastens to inform רוּחַ (ruaḥ) that the Torah scroll is in exile—exiled because of the world’s distress—and the living are coming and pleading for mercy. Then ruaḥ informs נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), and neshamah informs the blessed Holy One. Then the blessed Holy One arouses and has compassion upon the upper world—all because the Torah scroll was exiled from its place and the living come to pray for mercy at the graves of the dead. Woe to the generation if the Torah scroll must be exiled from place to place—even from synagogue to synagogue—for they lack anything to stimulate caring for them!

… We have learned: For twelve months nefesh is bound to the body in the grave and they are judged as one, except for nefesh of the righteous, as we have established. She is present in the grave, aware of its suffering and of the suffering of the living, but she does not exert herself for them. After twelve months, she clothes herself in a certain garment and goes roaming through the world. She discovers from ruaḥ what she discovers and exerts herself for the suffering of the living.

Who arouses all this? A virtuous person—when there is one—who informs them fittingly; that virtuous one is recognized by them. Come and see: When a virtuous person endures, he is known among the living and among the dead, for every day he is proclaimed among them. When suffering intensifies in the world and he cannot protect the generation, he informs them of the world’s suffering. When there is no virtuous person to be proclaimed among them, when no one can be found to arouse them for the suffering of the world except for the Torah scroll, then upper and lower beings arouse over it. At that time, all must engage in teshuvah; if they do not, masters of judgment arouse against them—even ruḥot, spirits, in the Garden of Eden arouse against them.

I will lie down with my fathers (Genesis 47:30)—in body, nefeshruaḥneshamah, in a single chariot, on a supernal rung.

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘How utterly stopped up are inhabitants of the world, neither knowing nor hearing nor contemplating matters of the world, and how the blessed Holy One hovers over them compassionately, constantly. No one is aware!

Three times a day, one spirit enters the cave of Machpelah and wafts upon the graves of the patriarchs; bones heal and stand vitally erect. That spirit draws down dew from above—from the head of the King, site of supernal patriarchs—and when that dew arrives from them, the patriarchs below awaken.

Come and see: That dew descends by certain levels, level after level, reaching the lower Garden of Eden, where it is infused by the spices of the Garden. One spirit arouses—composed of two others—rising, drifting among the spices, entering the opening of the cave. Then the patriarchs awaken, they and their spouses, and plead for mercy for their children.

When the world is in distress because they are asleep on account of the sins of the world, that dew does not flow or appear until a Torah scroll arouses fittingly in the world. Then nefesh informs ruaḥ, and ruaḥ neshamah, and neshamah the blessed Holy One. The King then sits on the throne of mercy, and there issues from the supernal Ancient One a flow of טַלָּא דִּבְדוֹלְחָא (talla di-vdulḥa), crystal dew, reaching the head of the King, and the patriarchs are blessed, and that dew flows to those sleepers, who then all conjoin, and the blessed Holy One has compassion upon the world.

Come and see: The blessed Holy One does not have compassion upon the world until He has informed the patriarchs, and for their sake the world is blessed” (Zohar 1:225a–b).

“Those [Egyptian] sorcerers would go to cemeteries and perform their sorcery and make an image of a human and slaughter before it one goat. Afterward they put that goat in a certain grave, break that image into four quarters, and place them in the four corners of the grave. Then they perform their sorcery, and an assemblage of those evil species gathers and brings that soul, which enters the grave and speaks to them.

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Happy are the righteous in this world and in the world that is coming, for they are holy! Their body is holy, their nefesh is holy, their ruaḥ is holy, their neshamah is holy of holies—three rungs, corresponding to the pattern above. For it has been taught: Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘It is written Let the earth bring forth נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה (nefesh ḥayyah), a living soul (Genesis 1:24)—supernal soul of supernal Adam.

Come and see: There are three rungs, joining as one—nefesh, ruaḥ, neshamah—and highest of them is neshamah. For Rabbi Yose has said, ‘All people have nefesh, though one nefesh is superior to another. If a person proves worthy of this nefesh, a certain crown is infused in him, called ruaḥ, as is written: until רוּחַ (ruaḥ), is poured upon us from on high (Isaiah 32:15). Then the person is aroused by another sublime arousal to contemplate the ways of the Holy King. If the person proves worthy of that ruaḥ, he is adorned with a supernal holy crown encompassing all, called neshamah—called נִּשְׁמַת אֱלוֹהַּ (nishmat Eloah), soul of God (Job 4:9)…

One should not go there without teshuvah and without fasting, to plead before them. Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Without three fasts.’ Rabbi Yose said, ‘Even one, on that day—but only if the world is plunged in great suffering. Then [the souls of the righteous] all join to plead for mercy over the world.’

… Rabbi Yeisa said, ‘When the world is in need, why do we go to the dead? Is it not written or inquires of the dead (Deuteronomy 18:11)? So it is forbidden! He [Rabbi Ḥizkiyah] replied, ‘You have not seen the wings of the Bird of Eden [i.e., Shekhinah]. Or inquires of the dead—precisely, who are the wicked of the world, of the other nations, who are always dead. But as for Israel, who are truly righteous, Solomon declared over them, the dead, who have already died (Ecclesiastes 4:2)—another time, not now. Who have already died—and now they are alive.

Furthermore, when other nations visit their dead, they come with sorcery to arouse evil species [cf. Leqaḥ Tov on Deuteronomy 34:6]. But when the people of Israel does so, they come in great teshuvah before the blessed Holy One, with a broken heart, with fasting—and all so that those holy souls will plead before the blessed Holy One for mercy upon them.

Consequently we have learned: Even though a righteous person has departed from this world, he has not disappeared or vanished from all the worlds, since he exists in all those worlds more than in his lifetime [cf. Freud, Totem and Taboo]. During his life he exists only in this world; afterward he exists in three worlds and is welcome there, as is written: Therefore, maidens, love you (Song of Songs 1:3)—do not read עֲלָמוֹת (alamot), maidens, but rather עוֹלָמוֹת (olamot), worlds. Happy is their share!”(Zohar 3:70a–71b, cf. BT Bava Metsi’a 85b; Qohelet Rabbah on 10:10; Sefer Ḥasidim [ed. Margaliot] 450, 452).

This Doe has a Narrow Womb

ImageDo you observe the calving of does? (Job 39:1). This doe has a narrow womb. When she crouches to give birth, I prepare a serpent which bites the genitalia and she is loosened of her offspring. If it comes one second too soon or one second too late, she immediately dies” (BT Bava Batra 16b, cf. Zohar 2:111b; Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 43a).

At the tent flap sin crouches (Genesis 4:7). The serpent which bites the genitalia is the secret of ‘קַבֵּל רִנַּת עַמְּךָ שַׂגְּבֵנוּ טַהֲרֵנוּ נוֹרָא (Qabel rinnat Amekha saggvenu taharenu nora), accept Your people’s prayer. Strengthen us, purify us, You who are revered’ (Anna be-Khoaḥ)—קֶרַע שָׂטָן (qera satan), tear [of the] adversary” (Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital, Sefer ha-Liqqutim).

“נָחָשׁ (Naḥash), serpent, [שָׂטָן (satan), adversary,] and מָשִׁיחַ (Mashiaḥ), Messiah, are numerically equivalent” (Rabbi Yitsḥaq ben Ya’aqov ha-Kohen, Madda’ei ha-Yahadut, 2 [1927] 273, cf. Psalms 140:4: כְּמוֹ-נָחָשׁ [kemo naḥash], like a serpent, and מָשִׁיחַ בֵּן דָּוִד [Mashiaḥ ben David], Messiah son of David, are numerically equivalent).

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘There is one אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), doe, on earth, and the blessed Holy One does so much for her. When she cries out, the blessed Holy One hearkens to her anguish. And when the world is in need of mercy, for water, she cries aloud and the blessed Holy One listens and then feels compassion for the world, as is written As a hind longs for streams of water (Psalms 42:2). When she needs to give birth, she is totally constricted; then she puts her head between her knees, crying out and screaming, and the blessed Holy One feels compassion for her and provides her with a serpent who bites her genitalia, opening and tearing that place, and immediately she gives birth.’ Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Concerning this matter, do not ask and do not test את יהוה (et YHWH)—so it is precisely!’” (Zohar 2:52b)

Like a woman with child, that draws near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and cries out in her pangs (Isaiah 26:17).

“In the first month (Numbers 28:16). Rabbi Abba opened, ‘As a hart craves for streams of water, so my soul craves for You, O God (Psalms 42:2). This verse has been established. But it is written אַיָּל (ayyal), hart, and it is written אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), hind (Psalms 22:1); and all is one, for there is male and female. Even though there is male and female, this אַיָּל (ayyal), hart, is called ‘male’ and is called ‘female,’ as is written: כְּאַיָּל תַּעֲרֹג (ke-ayyal ta’arog), as a hart craves, and it is not written יַעֲרוֹג (ya’arog), [he] craves.

And it is written אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), the hind of, dawn (Psalms 22:1). What is the hind of dawn? Well, this is a certain compassionate animal, more compassionate than any in the world—for when She needs food, She goes afar on a distant journey and brings back food, and does not want to eat until She returns to her place. Why? So that the other animals may gather by Her and She can share that food with them. When She comes, all the other animals gather by Her, and She stands in the middle, distributing to each one [and the sign is in: She gets up while it is still night and provides nourishment for her house and a portion for her young women (Proverbs 31:15) (Sullam)]. By what She distributes, She is satisfied, as if She had eaten more than all [cf. BT Pesaḥim 112a, in the name of Rabbi Akiva: ‘More than the calf wants to suck, the cow wants to suckle’].

When does She distribute to them? When morning is about to come—while it is still night, and darkness lifts, lightening [as is written: She gets up while it is still night and provides nourishment for her house (Proverbs 31:15)]. Once morning shines, they are all sated with Her food.

Then a voice is aroused in the middle of the sky, proclaiming aloud: ‘You who are near, enter your places; you who are far, depart! Let each one be gathered to his appropriate place.’

As soon as the sun shines, each one is gathered to his place, as is written: When the sun rises, they gather [and in their dens they crouch] (Psalms 104:22). She goes in the day, is revealed at night, and distributes in the morning; so She is called אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), the hind of, dawn. Afterward, She is invigorated like a warrior and goes—and is called אַיָּל (ayyal), a hart.

Where does She go? She goes sixty phrasings from the place that She left, and enters the Mountains of Darkness, where She catches the scent of food. She proceeds into that Mountain of Darkness, and a certain tortuous serpent catches the scent of Her foot and follows Her; and She climbs from there toward the Mountain of Light. Once She arrives there, the blessed Holy One summons for Her another serpent, who emerges and attacks the other one, and She is saved. From there She takes food, and returns to Her place at midnight, She begins to distribute until the darkness of morning lifts. Once the day dawns, She goes and is no longer seen, as has been said.

When the world needs rain, all the other animals gather toward Her, and She ascends to the top of a high mountain, and, wrapping Her head between Her knees, She lets out one low after another. And the blessed Holy One hears Her voice, and is filled with mercy, and takes pity on the world. She descends from the top of the mountain, and runs and hides Herself, and all the other animals run after Her, but do not find Her—as is written: As a hart craves for streams of water. What is meant by for streams of water? For those that have dried up, and the world is thirsting for water; so she craves.

When She is pregnant, She is stopped up. When the time comes for Her to give birth, She lows and cries out, cry after cry—up to seventy cries, equaling the number of words in May YHWH answer you on the day of distress (Psalms 20:2), which is the song for a pregnant woman. The blessed Holy One hears Her and is ready for Her: He brings forth a great serpent from the Mountains of Darkness, and it comes through the mountains, its mouth licking the dust. It reaches this hart and comes and bites Her twice in that place [cf. BT Gittin 69b].

The first time, blood comes out, and it licks it up. The second time, water comes out, and all those animals of the mountains drink, and She is opened and gives birth. Your mnemonic is: He struck the rock with his staff twice: and it is written and the community, with its beasts, drank (Numbers 20:11, cf. Shemot Rabbah 3:13).

At the moment when the blessed Holy One takes pity on Her—through the act of this serpent—what is written? The voice o YHWH brings on the birth pangs of hinds… (Psalms 29:9). The voice of YHWH brings on the birth pangs of hinds—those pangs and pains, arousing those seventy cries. Immediately, and strips the forests bare (ibid.)—to remove that serpent, exposing it among them to go away” (Zohar 3:249a-b, cf. ibid. 2:219b-220a; 3:68b [RM]).

“One might suggest that after seventy [years] She will feel [birth-pangs], and in two years She will give birth one thousand and two hundred years after [the destruction of the Second Temple, that is to say, after the end of the Fifth Millennium, which is all destruction, and a further two hundred years into the Sixth Millennium, and seventy years for the birth-pangs, and two years for the birth itself] coming to the year 272 [of the Sixth Millennium]. But it is written: Before she travailed, she brought forth; [before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child] (Isaiah 66:7). And the secret of the matter is contained in the verse: And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear (Isaiah 65:24). And what is the meaning of before? Before the completion of the seventy years and the two years following the passing of one thousand and two hundred years, the birth-pangs, two Messiahs will be revealed to the world. And at that time: And in His palace all says glory (Psalms 29:9). And it has already been taught: The wise inherit כָּבוֹד (kavod)glory (Proverbs 3:35).

And at that time, those Torah sages will be respected, those who suffered pangs and travails as a woman in labor, and who were despised by the ignorant; they will be honored. And immediately: YHWH was enthroned at the flood (Psalms 29:10) on account of the wicked. Flood—judgments of the flood, when All the wellsprings of the great deep burst [and the casements of the heavens were opened] (Genesis 7:11), at the time of the flood. So, too, judgments will rise over them above and below, with no end. And every contempt and disgrace shown by the idolatrous nations of the world towards YHWH and His people and the many insults that Israel suffered from them for the sake of YHWH’s Name—for all of them the blessed Holy One will exact vengeance, and therefore, as far as they are concerned, [God is jealous, and YHWH avenges;YHWH avenges, and is furious; [YHWH will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies] (Nahum 1:2).

In the first month (Numbers 28:16). What is the first month? It is Nisan, which is when that animal gave birth, in accord with the teaching of the Masters of Mishnah: ‘In the month of Nisan they were redeemed, and in the month of Nisan they will be redeemed'[נִיסָן (Nisan) is the month of נִסִים (nisim), miracles] (BT Rosh ha-Shanah 11a). And this is with His יָד (yad), hand [which is numerically equivalent to fourteen, according to the secret of the verse:] And he said, ‘For יָד (yad), hand, upon Yah’s throne: [War for YHWH against Amalek from all time] (Exodus 17:16), when He swore to remove the seed of Esau, Amalek, from the world. At that time: Draw out and take yourselves sheep according to your clans and slaughter the Passover offering (Exodus 12:21), [where the meaning of] מִשְׁכוּ (mishkhu)draw out, is as in the verse: מָשַׁךְ יָדוֹ (mashak yado)he stretched out his hand, with scoffers (Hosea 7:5).

At that time, thus said YHWH: ‘To the rulers who transgressed against Me: neither shall they enter into the land of Israel (Ezekiel 13:9)—the shepherds of the flock, the supporters of the generation. Wherefore it is said about them: Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably to her (Hosea 2:16). And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I enter into judgment with you face to face. Like I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I enter into judgment with you, says YHWH God (Ezekiel 20:35-36), [namely] whom He killed in the plague of darkness” (Zohar 3:249a-b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineas).

“A voice issued… O low, sleeping ones, closed-eyed, awake! Who among you turns darkness into light, bitter into sweet before arriving here? Who among you awaits each day the light that shines when the King visits the doe and is glorified…? Whoever does not await this each day… has no portion here” (Zohar 1:4a).

“Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] says: The rising column of the moon is different from that of the sun. The light column of the moon rises straight like a stick, the light column of the sun [the dawn] irradiates in all directions… Just as the antlers of the doe branch off this way and that way, so the light of the dawn is scattered in all directions—Rabbi Zera said: Why was Esther compared to a אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), doe [BT Megillah 15b]? To tell you that just as a doe has a narrow womb and is desirable to her mate at all times as at the first time, so was Esther precious to King Ahasuerus at all times as at the first time. Rabbi Assi said: Why was Esther compared to the dawn [see BT Eruvin 54b]? To tell you that just as the dawn is the end of the whole night, so is the story of Esther the end of all the miracles. But there is Ḥanukkah?—we refer to those included in Scripture” (BT Yoma 28b-29b).

The Ship Threatened to Break Up

Image“Jonah, descending into the ship, is the human soul descending into this world to enter a human body. Why is she called יוֹנָה (Yonah), Jonah? Because as soon as she joins the body, she is יֹנַה (yonah), cheated, in this world, as is said: וְלֹא תוֹנוּ (Ve-lo tonu), You shall not cheat, one another (Leviticus 25:17). Then a person moves through this world like a ship in the great ocean about to break up, as is said: The ship threatened to break up (Jonah 1:4).

When a person is in this world he sins, and thinks that he can flee from the presence of the Lord, who pays no attention to this world [cf. Zohar 3:136b (IR): ‘Scrutinizing providence, not revealed except when the wicked must be called to account and their deeds examined’]. Then the blessed Holy One casts a mighty windstorm—the Decree of Judgment, which stands constantly before the blessed Holy One, demanding a person’s punishment. This is what torments the ship, calling attention to the person’s sins, to seize him.

Once the person is seized by that tempest, in his sick bed, what is written? Jonah went down into the hold of the ship, and he lay down and fell asleep (Jonah 1:5). Even though a person is lying in his sickbed, the soul is not aroused to return to his Lord to redeem his sins.

What is written? The captain approached him (Jonah 1:6). Who is the captain? The good impulse, who guides all. And said to him, ‘What are you doing sound asleep?…’ (ibid.)—this is no time to sleep, for you are being brought to judgment for all that you have done in this world. Repent of your sins!

Reflect on these things and return to your Lord. What is your work (Jonah 1:8), in which you engaged in this world? Confess it before your Lord. Where do you come from? (ibid.)—reflect on where you come from: from a putrid drop, and you will not be arrogant before Him. What is your country (ibid.)—reflect that from earth you were created and to earth you will return. And of what people are you? (ibid.)—reflect whether you have ancestral merit to protect you [cf. M Avot 3:1].

Once he is brought to heavenly judgement, that tempest—which is the Decree of Judgement raging against a person—demands from the King to punish those royal prisoners, and they all come before Him one by one. At that moment, the members of the court approach. Some pleas in his defense, others against him, and the Decree of Judgement demands punishment.

If that person is not found innocent, what is written? The men rowed hard to regain the shore, but they could not (Jonah 1:13)—those who pleaded for his innocence strive to restore him in this world, but they could not. Why? For the sea was growing stormier (ibid.)—the Decree of Judgement grows stormier from the person’s sins and overwhelms them.

Then three appointed messengers descend upon him: one who inscribes all the good deeds and misdeeds that the person performed in this world; one who produces a reckoning of his days; and one who was with him in his mother’s womb, as we have established and the Decree of Judgement does not subside until the time that is described: They picked Jonah up (Jonah 1:15). They picked up—when they carry him from his house to the cemetery… If he is wicked, the proclamation is: ‘Woe to so-and-so! Better for him if he had never been created!’

Then what is written? They threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased its raging (Jonah 1:15)—when they place him in his grave, the place of judgment, then the Decree of Judgement, that was storming, subsides from its raging. And the fish that swallowed him is the grave.

What is written? Jonah was in the מְעֵי (m’ei), bowels, of the fish (Jonah 2:1). The bowels of the fish is the belly of Sheol. How do we know? As is written: מִבֶּטֶן (mi-beten), from the belly, of Sheol I cried out (ibid., 3)—he was in the bowels of the fish and called it the belly of Sheol.

Three days and three nights (Jonah 2:1)—the three days that a person lies in the grave, when his belly bursts… Afterward, the soul ascends, while the body decomposes in the dust, until the time when the blessed Holy One arouses the dead… Of then, it is written: YHWH spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land (Jonah 2:11).

After that voice is aroused among the graves, every single grave will spew out the corpse it contains, as is written: The earth will cast forth spirits of the dead (Isaiah 26:19)” (Zohar 2:199a).

Rolling Souls

image“It was taught, Rabbi El’azar ha-Qappar said: Let one always pray to be spared this fate [of poverty], for if he does not descend his son will, and if not his son, his grandson, for it is said, בִּגְלַל (bigelal), because for this thing (Deuteronomy 15:10). The School of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: It is a גַלגַל (galgal), wheel, that revolves in the world” (BT Shabbat 151a).

“Seeing a גוּלגוֹלֶת (gulgolet), skull, floating on the water, [Hillel] said: ‘Because you drowned others, they drowned you, and those who drowned you will themselves eventually be drowned'” (M Avot 2:7).

“Rabbi Yirmeyah son of Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan, ‘Whoever walks four cubits in the land of Israel is assured to be a son of the world to come.’ Now… aren’t the righteous outside the Land going to be revived?—Rabbi Il’a said, ‘By גִּלְגּוּל (gilgul), rolling.’ Rabbi Abba Sala the Great objected, ‘Rolling will be painful to the righteous!'” (BT Ketubbot 111a, cf. Zohar 1:113b-114b [MhN], 131a).

“And this is the mystery of גִּלְגּוּל (gilgul), rolling: The גַלגַל (galgal), wheel, does not move without the flow of water through the conduit. Likewise, the conduit is the mystery of the letter ו (vav), by which the wheel is turned. And the secret of the matter is that just as the wheel will have no motion without the aqueduct, so too the wheel which is the letter י (yod) will have no rolling, without the aqueduct which is the letter ו (vav)… י (yod) is the point. ו (Vav) is [the conduit] of the wheel. And there is no movement in the wheel at the six spokes [the numerical value of ו (vav)], but only at the point” (Zohar 3:214b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

Tail in the Head

2235_127246100159_9430_nThat which was already has been, and what is to be already has been, and הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim), God, seeks out the pursued (Ecclesiastes 3:15, cf. Zohar 3:61b).

Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done (Isaiah 46:10).

“Ten sefirot belimah (numerals of nothingness). Their measure is ten, yet infinite. There end is embedded in their beginning, their beginning in there end, like a flame joined to a burning coal” (Sefer Yetsirah 1:1-8).

“Gravings of engravings, like the appearance of a long serpent, extending here and theretail in the head, head behind the shoulders, enraged and furious, guarded and hidden” (Zohar 2:176b).

“תָּלִי (Tali)—a spark rendered as an illusory serpent. Its tail clinging to orbs, surrounding them. In its might it darkens the seven planets” (Berit Menuḥa: The Second Way, The Way of Love, Eight Vowel).

The Gate of Tears

imageThus says YHWH: A voice is heard in Ramah—wailing, bitter weeping—Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more (Jeremiah 31:15).

“Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Everything in the world depends upon repentance and upon the prayer that one offers to the blessed Holy One—especially one who sheds tears in his prayer, for there is no gate that those tears cannot enter. What is written? She opened it and saw the child (Exodus 2:6). She openedShekhinah, who stands over Israel like a mother over her children, and She always opens in their defense. As soon as She opened she saw the child—a child of delight (Jeremiah 31:20), Israel, who sin before their King in everything and immediately turn back in repentance, crying before Him like a son before his father. What is written? And look, a boy crying! (Exodus 2:6)—once he cries, all evil decrees of the world are annulled. What is written? She had compassion on him—aroused in mercy for him, taking pity on him. She said, ‘This is one of the children of the Hebrews’ (ibid.)—not one of the children of the other nations, who are stiff-necked and hard-hearted. One of the children of the Hebrews—tender-hearted from their fathers and mothers, to return to their Lord. She called the child’s mother (Exodus 2:8)—who was weeping, as is written: A voice is heard on a height—wailing, bitter weeping—Rachel weeping for her children… (Jeremiah 31:15). He is crying, and the child’s mother is crying. Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Of the time to come, what is written? With weeping they will come, and with consolations I will guide them (ibid., 9). What does this mean: With weeping they will come? By virtue of the weeping of the child’s mother, who is Rachel, they will come and be gathered in from exile” (Zohar 2:12b).

God’s sacrifices—a broken spirit. A broken crushed heart, God, spurns not (Psalms 51:19).

“Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Until the day that Shekhinah returns to that site together with the exiles of Israel, as is said: There is no hope for your future, declares YHWH: children will return to their land (Jeremiah 31:17). The blessed Holy One swore this oath to her, and as they return from exile, Israel are destined to stand by Rachel’s grave and weep there, just as she wept over Israel’s exile. So it is written: With weeping they will come (ibid., 9), and: There is reward for your labor (ibid., 16). At that moment, Rachel—who is by the road—is destined to rejoice along with Israel and Shekhinah, as the Companions have established” (Zohar 1:175a–b, cf. Bereshit Rabbah 82:10; Mekhilta, Pisḥa 14; BT Megillah 29a; Zohar 1:203a).