The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: שׁוֹפָר

A Slavegirl that is Heir to Her Mistress and The Messiah’s Shofar by Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag (Ba’al ha-Sullam)

Ba'al ha-Sullam Portrait

A Slavegirl that is Heir to Her Mistress: The reason for hiding Kabbalah

Now you can understand the issue of the concealment of the hidden wisdom from the eyes of the outer ones, as well as what the Sages said, “A gentile must not be taught Torah” (BT Sanhedrin 59a). There seems to be a contradiction between this and the saying, “Even a gentile, even a slave, and even a slavegirl who sit and learn Torah, the Shekhinah is with them” (Tanna debei Eliyyahu, 9). Thus, why did the Sages prohibit teaching Torah to gentiles?

Teaching Torah to gentiles

Indeed, the Tanna debei Eliyyahu relates to a converted gentile, or at least to one who retired from idol worshipping, from superstition. Our sages, conversely, referred to one who did not retire from idol worshipping and wanted to know Israel’s law and wisdom in order to strengthen and fortify his idolatry. And you might say, “Why should we care if this gentile has become more devout in his idol worshipping because of our Torah? If it does not help, what harm will it do?” [see Maimonides on BT Sanhedrin 58b: ‘Resh Laqish said: A gentile who keeps the Sabbath, deserves death, as is written, And day and night shall not cease (Genesis 8:22), and a master has said: Their prohibition is their death sentence’—one is not permitted to make innovations in religion or to create new commandments. He has the privilege to become a true convert by accepting the whole Law’ (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Melakhim, 10, 9). On the prohibition against teaching Torah to gentiles (or the uncircumcised), see BT Ḥagigah 13a; Tanḥuma, Mishpatim 5; Tanḥuma (Buber), Mishpatim 3; Shemot Rabbah 30:12; Zohar 2:111b; 3:73a].

Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai’s weeping

Indeed, this is what Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai cried for before he explained an important secret in the hidden wisdom, as is written, “Rabbi Shim’on wept, ‘Woe if I say it! Woe if I do not say it! If I say it, sinners will know how to worship their Lord. If I do not say it, the Companions will be deprived of this word’” (Zohar 1:11b) [cf. ibid. 3:74b].

He was afraid lest this secret would come into the hands of idol worshipers and they would perform their idolatry with the power of this holy mind. This is what prolongs our exile and brings upon us all the afflictions and the ruins, as we now see before us, since the sages of the nations of the world studied all the books of the Children of Israel and turned them into delicacies to strengthen their faith, meaning their wisdom, called “theology” [cf. Zohar 3:14b].

The Messiah’s Shofar: Redemption only through the power of the Kabbalah

Know that this is what it means that the Children of Israel are redeemed only after the hidden wisdom is revealed to a great degree, as is written in the Zohar: “Because the Children of Israel are destined to taste of this Tree of Life, namely this סֵפֶר הַזֹּהַר (sefer ha-zohar), Book of Radiance, they will thereby come forth from exile through compassion” (Zohar 3:124b [RM]). This is because at that time there was hope of redemption with the composition of the Zohar, which began in the days of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai, during the days when Bar-Kokhba appeared. Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai’s master, said of him: “דָּרַךְ בָּר כּוֹכבָאדָּרַךְ כּוֹכָב (Darakh kokhav), a star steps forth, out of Jacob (Numbers 24:17)—(darakh bar kokhva), Bar Kokhba steps forth, out of Jacob” (JT Ta’anit 4:8, 68d). Thus, after the ruin of Beitar there was great hope [see JT, Ta’anit 4:5, 24a; BT Gittin 57b; Eikha Rabbah 2:5].

Composing the Zohar and hiding it

And because of that, Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai permitted himself and revealed the hidden wisdom in his books, the Zohar and Tiqqunei ha-Zohar (Embellishments of the Zohar). However, it was with great care, since he only permitted Rabbi Abba, who was able to reveal so only the sages of the Children of Israel would understand, and the sages of the nations would not understand, for fear lest the wicked know how to serve their Lord [see Zohar 1:11b, cf. ibid. 3:74b]. Therefore, as soon as they realized that the time was not ripe for Israel’s redemption, they hid it. For we find much that the Savora’im, who wrote matters within the Zohar as is known [Savora’im (Opiners): Babylonian scholars of the fifth and sixth centuries C.E.].

Revealing the Kabbalah is the will of the blessed Holy One

Indeed, it was the blessed Holy One’s will that it would appear. This is why it found its way to the widow of Rabbi Moshe de León. She inherited the manuscript from her husband, and he probably told her nothing of the prohibition to reveal it, and she, by chance, put it up for sale.

Israel’s troubles are because of revealing the Kabbalah

Indeed, to this day, this was the cause of many a ruin in the house of Israel for the aforementioned reasons [cf. Rabbi Yeshayahu Bassan, Iggerot Shadal, 29].

Good from revealing the Kabbalah

However, there is no bad without good. And therefore, the predominance which the nations have acquired by stealing Secrets of Torah, caused great momentum in the expansion of holiness. And in my opinion, we are in a generation that is actually standing on the verge of redemption, if we only knew how to spread the hidden wisdom among the masses.

First benefit

Apart from the simple reason of Goods he swallowed he will vomit (Job 20:15), this will reveal “the difference between my son [Jacob] and the son of my father-in-law [Esau]” (BT Berakhot 7b), and the difference between the essence of the kernel and the outermost shell, from which all the sages of the nations of the world peeled. This is because all the camps of Israel that have denied the Torah are sure to return to the blessed Holy One and to His service.

Second benefit

There is another reason for it. We have accepted that there is a precondition for the redemption: all the nations of the world will know Israel’s Torah, as is written, For the earth shall be filled with knowledge [of the glory of YHWH, as the waters cover the sea] (Habakkuk 2:14), as with the exodus from Egypt, where there was a must that Pharaoh, too, know the true God and His commandments, and allow them to leave.

Redemption through divulging Kabbalah to the nations of the world

This is why it is written that each of the nations will take hold of a Jewish man and lead him to the Holy Land [see Zechariah 8:23: Thus says YHWH of Armies; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of every language of the nations, even shall take hold of the robe of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you]. And it was not enough that they leave by themselves. You must understand how the nations of the world would come by such a desire or notion. Know that this is through the dissemination of the true wisdom, so they will evidently see the true God and the true law [cf. BT Pesaḥim 87b].

Dissemination of the wisdom of Kabbalah the world over

And the dissemination of the wisdom among the masses is called a שׁוֹפָר (shofar), ram’s horn. Like the shofar, whose voice travels a great distance, the reverberation of the wisdom will spread the world over, so that even the nations will hear and know that there is divine wisdom in Israel.

The revelation of Kabbalah to all the nations is the revelation of Elijah

And this task was said about Elijah the prophet, since revealing Secrets of Torah is always referred to as “the revelation of Elijah.” It is as they have said, “set it aside until Elijah comes” [see M Sheqalim 2:5: “Rabbi Me’ir said, the excess funds for a specific dead person is set aside until Elijah comes”] and also, “תִּשְׁבִּי יְתָרֵץ קֻשְׁיוֹת וְאִבַּעְיוֹת (Tishbi yetarets qushyot ve-iba’eyot), the Tishbite [namely, Elijah] will resolve difficult questions and problems” [תִּיקוּ (tiqu), “It is undecided,” is taken as an acronym for the aforementioned saying, and is often employed in the Talmud. Cf. Zohar 3:27b (RM)]. For this reason, they said that three days (a wellknown hint) prior to the coming of the Messiah, Elijah would walk upon the hilltops and sound a great shofar, and so forth.

Revealing Kabbalah to all the nations is a necessity for the final redemption

You must understand these allusions: The matter of the shofar is only revealing the hidden wisdom to great masses, which is a necessity that must be fulfilled prior to the complete redemption.

And the books that have already been revealed through me in this wisdom testify to it, that matters of the greatest importance have been spread out like a gown for all to see. This is a true witness that we are already on the verge of redemption, and that the voice of the great shofar has already been heard, though not in the distance, for it still sounds very softly.

But indeed, any greatness requires prior smallness, and there is no great voice if it is not preceded by a soft sound, for this is the way of the shofar, that it grows progressively. And who better than I knows that I am not at all worthy of being even a messenger or a scribe for revealing such secrets, much less to thoroughly understand them. And why has the blessed Holy One done so for me? It is only because the generation is worthy of it, since it is the final generation, which stands on the verge of complete redemption. And for this reason, [the generation] is worthy of beginning to hear the voice of Messiah’s shofar, which is the revealing of secrets, as has been explained.

Prayer Should be Elevated Just as One Aims the Stone in a Sling


“Rabbi Pinḥas said in the name of Rabbi Me’ir, and Rabbi Yirmeyah said in the name of Rabbi Abba, ‘When Israel prays, you do not find them all praying as one, but rather each assembly prays on its own, one after the other. When they have all finished, the angel appointed over prayers gathers all the prayers offered in all the synagogues and fashions them into עֲטָרוֹת (atarot), diadems, which he places on the head of the blessed Holy One” (Shemot Rabbah 21:4, cf. Zohar 2:201b).

Rabbi Shim’on opened, saying: Listen, all supernal ones. Gather, all mortals, masters of the academy above and below. Elijah [i.e., Sandalfon], upon an oath, ask permission from the blessed Holy One to descend here because a great battle awaits you. Come down, Enoch [i.e., Metatron], you and all the masters of the academy under your supervision. Not for my glory, but for the glory of Shekhinah.

He opened as before, expounding זַרְקָא (zarqa), מַקָּף (maqqaf), and so forth, saying: Certainly by the musical intonation, זַרְקָא (zarqa), the prayer should be raised to that known site, like one aims the stone in a sling [cf. Bahir §§89–91, 178]. Just as one aims the stone carefully, so as not to miss the target, so should thought be raised with prayer to that תַּגָּא (tagga), coronet, set and adorned. Of this stone they said, ‘[In uttering the tefillah, when one bows, one should bow at בָּרוּך (barukh), “blessed,”] and stand upright with [the mention of] the Name’ (BT Berakhot 12a).

And when he raises Her from that site conducting Her to Her husband [one should not interrupt his prayer] even if a serpent is wound around his feet, and even though: and you shall bite his heel (Genesis 3:15) [cf. Psalms 91:13; BT Berakhot 30b: ‘Even if a king greets him he should not answer him. And even if a serpent is wound round his heel he should not break off’]. Nevertheless, the stone is hinted at by the י (yod) of יַעֲקֹב (Ya’aqov), which is composed of י (yod) and עָקֵב (aqev), heel, as is written: Through the name of the Shepherd and Israel’s Stone (Genesis 49:24)—he does not stop and must raise Her to אֵין סוֹף (Ein Sof) [cf. Zohar 1:65a: ‘Come and see: All transpires in the mystery of faith, so that one is satisfied by the other (i.e., so that the lower is satisfied by the higher, and vice versa), so that the one who must, ascends to Ein Sof ‘]. ‘When one bows, one should bow at בָּרוּך (barukh), “blessed”’ (BT Berakhot 12a)—he must draw Her down ceaselessly without causing any separation between Her above or below.

Sometimes He is Her husband ו (vav), the Righteous One [Yesod] who includes the six joints of two legs. Then She descends toward Him for the purpose of coupling according to the mystery of two legs [Netsaḥ and Hod]. But at other times, He is Her husband ו (vav) [Tif’eret] which includes the six joints of the two arms: beginning, middle and end. Then She grows and ascends to the two arms [Ḥesed and Gevurah]. At other times He [Ze’eir Anpin] is Her husband and stands between Father [Ḥokhmah] and Mother [Binah]. This is when He is called בֵּן יָהּ (Ben Yah), Son of God, and She should be elevated there to Him for coupling. At other times, Her husband is Keter with ו (vav) inserted between י י (yod, yod) like so: א (alef). Then She should be elevated to Him, as She grows with Him and reaches exactly the same rung as He does. When She ascends to Keter, it is written of Her: the stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone (Psalms 118:22).

When She rises up to the Head of all Heads the angels ask ‘Where is the place of His glory to admire Him?’ And when She rises She becomes just like a תַּגָּא (tagga), coronet, on the head of א (alef)—כֶּתֶר (Keter), Crown. When She descends: a point underneath [like so: וִ]. So when She ascends She is called עֲטָרָה (atarah), Diadem, in the mystery of musical intonations, and when She descends, She is called נְקוּדָה (nequdah), Point. When She mates She is like so: וּ. When She is a coronet on His head She is called the letter ז (zayin). The sign of the covenant consists of this because it is the seventh letter in all. Indeed, this Stone is בִּנְיָינָא (binyyana), building, of all the worlds [cf. BT Niddah 45b: ‘And YHWH God יִּבֶן (yi-ven), built, the rib He had taken from the human into a woman (Genesis 2:21)—the blessed Holy One placed more בִּינָה (binah), understanding, in women than in men’; Sanhedrin 93b: ‘בִּינָה (Binah), understanding, one thing from another’; ibid., 110a: ‘The wise woman has built her house (Proverbs 14:1)—wife of On son of Peleth; and Folly with her own hands destroys it (ibid.)—Korah’s wife’]. Because of this: a whole and honest weight-stone you shall have (Deuteronomy 25:15). She is the quantity בֵּין (bein), between, each and every sefirah, and every sefirah amounts with Her to ten. Her stature is ו (vav). Through Her every cubit between each and every sefirah becomes ten cubits. And the secret of the matter: ten cubits the length of the board (Exodus 26:16), and She is between them all. She is ten between every sefirah and ten multiplied by ten totals one hundred; when מֵאָה (me’ah), one hundred, is reversed [you have:] אַמָּה (ammah), cubit.

Each and every quantity [that Malkhut measures] is called a world [a quantity of its own]. These are י (yod) and ו (vav)—שִׁעוּר וּמִדָּה (shiur u-middah), height and width [or: stature and quantity]. ו (Vav) is the שֶׁקֶל (sheqel), weight [of the light (Sullam)]; י (yod) is the מִדָּה (middah), width. And the measurement of the quantity is five cubits long and five cubits wide. This corresponds to the measurement of every firmament, which is five-hundred parasangs long and five-hundred parasangs wide. This is the mystery of ה ה (he, he) [in יהוה (YHWH)]; the first ה (he) alludes to width and the lower ה (he) to length, as explained elsewhere.

So here you have the שִׁיעוּר קוֹמָה (shi’ur qomah), measure of the stature, of Him [Ze’eir Anpin] in יהוה (YHWH), because ו (vav) alludes to firmament of the heavens [Tif’eret of Ze’eir Anpin (Sullam)]. Its five firmaments, namely the last ה (he) of יהוה (YHWH), is called Five Heavens. This is the additional יהוה (YHWH) that indicates the five firmaments included in the heavens. The upper five firmaments are called Heavens of the Heavens. These are ה ה (he, he) of יהוה (YHWH). The ו (vav) is their sixth firmament. י (Yod) of יהוה (YHWH) is the mystery of Malkhut [the seventh firmament and seven plus seven equals fourteen]. Here are those lands, seven upon seven lands that cover each other like onion rings, which surround each other on all sides. They are all alluded to in the two eyes, and the three colors in the eye: white, red and green. Its white color is Ḥesed, its red color, which are red streaks, are Gevurah and its green color is Tif’eret. The two eyelids are Netsaḥ and Hod, the eye itself is Yesod and the black point is Malkhut.

The י (yod) in the Name יהוה (YHWH) is called a small, or short, world. The ו (vav) in יהוה (YHWH), which is Tif’eret, is the long world. Whomever wishes that his desires be fulfilled by the long world should pray at length, and whoever prays to the short world should pray quickly. Therefore, it has been explained that in a place where they are told to make it short a person should not pray at length [cf. Exodus 14:15]. To pray quickly is like the prayer of Moses, who recited the following short prayer, אֵל (El), pray, heal her, pray (Numbers 12:13) [see Sifrei, Numbers 105 ad loc.], as he addressed the [infinitesimal] point of י (yod) [which is the small, or short, world].

[The place where it was recommended that one should pray at length during times when one is not allowed to curtail the prayer stems from an aspect of ו (vav), as in] וּלְהִתְנַפֵּל (ul-hitnapel), to fall down, [as Moses did:] וָאֶתְנַפַּל (va-etnapal), And I threw myself, before יְהוָה (YHWH) (Deuteronomy 9:18)—פ (peh) because forty days and forty nights (ibid.), reckons eighty, which is the sum of פ״ (forty) [all this relates to the mystery of the letters פ (peh) and ו (vav), which appear in the word וָאֶתְנַפַּל (va-etnapal)]. Everything appears in the two מ (mem) one open מ (mem) and one closed final ם (mem) [cf. BT Shabbat 104a], with the י (yod) as a point in the middle, which forms the word מַיִם (mayim), water. From the aspect of Ḥesed, one should pray at length.

In the Holy Name יהוה (YHWH) rises by the fourth tune of the musical intonations. And one should prolong this intonation, which is fourth over the Name of יהוה (YHWH), the mystery of the תְקִיעָה (teqi’ah). The place to make it short is from the aspect of Gevurah, the intonations of שְׁבָרִים (shevarim). This is called the תְּבִיר (tevir), break, of the musical intonations. The middle, which is neither prolonged nor shortened, is the mystery of תְרוּעָה (teru’ah). This is the middle pillar and is the mystery of the musical intonations called שַׁלשֶׁלֶת (shalshelet), Chain, as it interlinks them [i.e., the right and left pillars] according to the mystery of the שֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ (sheqel ha-qodesh), consecrated coin [שֶׁקֶל (sheqel), coin, is numerically equivalent to נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), person].

Corresponding to the רְבִיעַ (revi’i), fourth, [musical intonation] which rises there, is חוֹלָם (olam) among the vowels, which is also Ḥesed. The שְׁבָרִים (shevarim) [or the תְּבִיר (tevir), break, of the musical intonations] corresponds, to שְׁבָא (sheva). In pronouncing this fourth one should raise his voice and in pronouncing the other [referring to the תְּבִיר (tevir), which is Gevurah], one should lower his voice. Because of this, it is called שְׁבָרִים (shevarim) [cognate with: שֶׁבֶר (shever), break] as the voice should be lowered [lit., שָׁבוּר (shavoor), broken]. This is done in secret, as is written of the lower Shekhinah: And Her voice not heard (1 Samuel 1:13). תְּרוּעָה (Teruah) is mystery of the middle pillar, called שַׁלְשֶׁלֶת (shalshelet), Chain [this is also the mystery of the י (yod), located between the two ם (mem) of אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם וְאַרְבָּעִים לַיְלָה (arba’im yom ve-arba’im lailah), forty days and forty nights. This is the mystery of segolta among the intonations (Sullam)].

The fourth of the musical intonations is for raising the voice, the tevir of the musical intonations is for lowering the pitch. Chain holds to the two pillars as a chain joining them to each other. It is like the רְבִיעִי (revi’i) with which one prolongs the word with melody. It is a vowel like the Ḥolam. There is no vowel among the points that does not have a corresponding musical intonation [see Bahir §§36–44]. For example, the vowel Segol corresponds to the musical intonation segolta, the vowel sheva corresponds to the musical intonation zaqef gadol. There is always a vowel corresponding to a musical intonation for all those who know the hidden mysteries.

Rabbi Shim’on opened saying: zarqa, maqqaf, shofar holekh, segolta. The vowel to the right is יְהוָה מֶלֶךְ (Adonai melekh), YHWH reigns (Psalms 96:10). The vowel to the left, shuruq is יְהוָה מָלָךְ (Adonai malakh), YHWH reigned (Psalms 93:1). The vowel [iriq] in the middle, Tif’eret, is יְהוָה יִמְלֹךְ (Adonai yimlokh), YHWH shall reign (Exodus 15:18). Rabbi Aḥa said: YHWH reigns—the supernal world; YHWH shall reignTif’eret; YHWH reigned—the Ark of the Covenant” (Zohar 1:23a–24b, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).