The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: שׁוּעַ

All the Time, Constantly, Chastening Them Little by Little

Hen

“Rava said: What is written, אִם בְּפִידוֹ לָהֶן שִׁוֵּ֑עַ (Im befido lahen shivea’), but one would not reach out against a heap of ruins if in his disaster he screamed (Job 30:24)?—the blessed Holy One said to Israel, ‘When I judge Israel, I do not judge them as I do the nations, as is written, I will overturn, overturn, overturn it (Ezekiel 21:32) but I only exact payment from them as the hen does her כְּפִיד (kefid), picking’ [playing on בְּפִידוֹ (befido), in his disaster].

Another interpretation: Even if Israel does before Me but few mitsvot, like hens picking in a rubbish heap, I will make it accumulate לְחֶשְׁבּוֹן (le-ḥeshbon), to a (large) sum, as is said, If כְּפִידוּ (kefidu), they pick, לָהֶן שׁוּעַ (lahen shu’a), they are rescued (Job 30:24)….

Rabbi Abbahu would praise Rav Safra to the sectarian heretics as a great man, and he was exempted by them from paying taxes for thirteen years. One day they found him and they said to him; ‘It is written: [Hear this word that YHWH has spoken concerning you, O Israelites, concerning the entire clan that I brought up from Egypt, saying:Only with you was I intimate of all the clans of the earth. Therefore will I make a reckoning with you for all your crimes (Amos 3:1–2). If one is in anger does one vent it on one’s friend?’ But he was silent and could give them no answer; so they wound a scarf round his neck and tormented him. When Rabbi Abbahu came and found him he said to them, Why do you torment him? They said, ‘Have you not told us that he is a great man? But he did not [even] know [how] to tell us the explanation of this verse!’ He said, ‘I told you [that he was learned] in the Tanna’im; did I tell you [he was learned] in Scripture?’ They said: ‘How is it then that you know it?’ He said: ‘We who are frequently with you, set ourselves the task of studying it thoroughly, but others do not study it as carefully.’ They said, ‘Will you then tell us the meaning?’ He said: ‘I will administer a parable: To what can the matter be compared? To a man who is lends money to two people, one of them a friend, the other an enemy; of his friend he will accept payment little by little, whereas of his enemy he will exact payment in one sum!’” (BT Avodah Zarah 4a).

“Rabbi Eli’ezer said: It is like a king who became angry at his son, and who had in his hand a sword. The king swore he would pass the sword on his son because he angered him. But later the king said, If I do so, my son will no longer live. But also, he could not nullify the royal decree. What did the king do? He placed the sword into its sheath and passed the sword on his son’s head.

Rabbi Ḥanina said: It is like a king who became angry with his son. He had in front of him a boulder and swore that he would heave it at him. But later the king said: If I heave it at him he will no longer live. What did he do? He crushed the boulder into pebbles and tossed them at his son one at a time. It turned out that he neither hurt his son nor nullified his royal decree” (Midrash Tehillim 6:3).

“Rav Hamnuna the First, ‘Distress and affliction of Israel bring them many benefits and advantages. The ease of other nations brings them many evils. דְּחִיקוּ (Deḥiqu), distress, and affliction of Israel brings them benefit and advantage. What is that? כָּלָּה (Kallah), Bride—כֹּלָּא דָּחִיק (kolla daḥiq), all pointed [i.e., vocalized with vowels]. רִפְיוֹן (Rifyon), ease, of the other nations brings them rifyon, weakness, and evil. What is that? כָלָה (Khalah), complete destruction (Jeremiah 46:28). This is just what they deserve, for all the rifyon, ease—without deḥiqu, distress—that they had in this world causes them rifyon, weakness, afterward, without deḥiqu, pointing: כָלָה (khalah), complete destruction; For כָלָה וְנֶחֱרָצָה (khalah ve-neḥeratsah), a decreed destruction, I have heard (Isaiah 28:22); For I will make כָלָה (khalah), a complete destruction, all in rifyon, weakness. But for Israel, who had deḥiqu, distress, and affliction—כַּלָּה (Kallah), A bride, will adorn herself with her ornaments (ibid. 61:10). Who are her ornaments? Israel, who are the ornaments of this Bride.

For Israel, who endured distress and affliction, I will raise the fallen booth of David (Amos 9:11)—the booth of peace. For the other nations, who had rifyon, ease—torment, trouble and torment (Isaiah 30:6); כָלָה (khalah)complete destruction, in rifyon, weakness, as they had before. So, For I will make כָלָה (khalah)an end, of all the nations… but of you I will not make khalah, an end—since you were already deḥiqu, distressed, and כַּלָּה (Kallah), the Bride, will be deḥiqu, pointed [cf. BT Berakhot 6b, in the name of Abbaye; Zohar 3:239a (RM); TZ 12, 27a; ZḤ 118c (Tiq)].

I will chasten you לַמִּשְׁפָּט (la-mishpat), for justice (Jeremiah 46:28). This verse should be read I will chasten you בַמִּשְׁפָּט (va-mishpat), in justice—for when are chastenings? At the time of judgment. Yet here, not so; rather I will chasten you la-mishpat, for justice. However, it is written: YHWH will enter בְּמִשְׁפָּט (be-mishpat), into judgment, against the elders of His people (Isaiah 3:14). On that day, the blessed Holy One will provide a remedy for Israel in advance, before they appear for judgment, so that they will be able to endure. What is that? All the time, constantly, He chastens them little by little, so that when they appear for judgment, it will not prevail over them.

And I will surely not leave you unpunished (Jeremiah 46:28). What is meant by that? Well, when the people of Israel are by themselves—not appearing for judgment with the other nations—the blessed Holy One deals with them beyond the line of strict justice, atoning for them. When they appear for judgment among the other nations, what does He do? The blessed Holy One knows that Samael, the guardian [of the other nations], will come to call attention to Israel’s sins, all of which he has accumulated for himself for the Day of Judgment. So He provides a remedy for them in advance, and for every single sin He strikes them with chastening little by little. When they appear for judgment, Samael comes with many lists against them. The blessed Holy One takes out lists of the chastenings that Israel has endured for every single sin, and all the sins are expunged—without His showing them any leniency at all. Then [Samael’s] power and strength fade, and he cannot prevail against them” (Zohar 3:199a–b).

The Blessed Holy One Hides Him Away in the Bird’s Nest

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“Rabbi Shim’on raised his hands and wept. He said, ‘Woe to one who is present at that time, and happy is one who is present at that time! Woe to one who is present at that time, because when the blessed Holy One comes to visit the Doe, He will observe who is standing by Her—all those present with Her—examining all the actions of each and every one, and no virtuous one will be found, as is written: I looked and there was no helper (Isaiah 63:5). How many troubles upon troubles for Israel!

Happy is one who is present at that time, because whoever maintains faith will attain that radiant joy of the King. Of that time is written I will refine them as one refines silver, I will test them as one tests gold… (Zechariah 13:9).

After those troubles flare upon Israel and all kings of the nations conspire as one against them and countless evil decrees arouse—all designed alike against them—and trouble upon trouble befalls them, the later erasing all memory of the earlier [cf. BT Sanhedrin 96b], then a single column of fire will appear for forty days, poised from above to below, seen by all nations of the world.

On that day King Messiah will arouse, emerging from the Garden of Eden, from the place called Bird’s Nest, and he will arouse in the land of Galilee. On the day that he emerges there, the whole world will tremble—all inhabitants of the world hiding in caves and crevices, afraid they will not survive. Of that time is written They will enter caves in the rocks and clefts of the rocks, from fear of YHWH and the glory of His majesty, when He rises to terrify the earth (Isaiah 2:19).

From fear of YHWH—trembling of the whole world.

And the glory of His majesty—Messiah.

When He rises to terrify the earth—when he rises and reveals himself in the land of Galilee. For that was the first place in the Holy Land to be destroyed; therefore he will be revealed there first of all, and from there he will arouse wars throughout the world.

After forty days of the column standing from earth to heaven in the eyes of the whole world and the Messiah revealing himself, a single star will rise from the side of the east, flaming in all colors—and seven other stars surrounding that star, waging war with it on all sides, three times a day for seventy days, seen by all inhabitants of the world. That star will battle them with flaming missiles—flashing, sparkling in every direction—striking them; swallowing them every single evening, discharging them by day, when they wage war before the eyes of the whole world. And so on every day, for seventy days. After seventy days, that star will be hidden and Messiah will be hidden for twelve months; the column will return as before—Messiah hidden within, that column invisible.

After twelve months Messiah will be elevated within that column to heaven, where he will receive power and the crown of Kingdom. When he descends, that column of fire will be seen as before in the eyes of the whole world. Then Messiah will reveal himself, and many nations will gather round him, and he will arouse wars throughout the world. At that time the blessed Holy One will arouse His power before all nations of the world, and King Messiah will be known throughout the world, and all kings of the world will arouse to join together, waging war against him. And numerous bands of unbridled Jews will defect to their side, accompanying them to battle against King Messiah. Then the whole world will darken for fifteen days, and many of the people of Israel will die in that darkness.

He opened, saying, ‘If a bird’s nest happens to be before you on the way, in any tree or on the ground—fledglings or eggs—and the mother crouching over the fledglings or over the eggs, do not take the mother together with the children. Surely send off the mother… (Deuteronomy 22:6–7). We have established this verse [see Bahir §§104–105], and it is one of the hidden commandments of Torah [see Devarim Rabbah 6:7]. Within bellies of Torah, we possess hidden treasures—paths and ways known to the Companions, among those thirty-two paths of Torah.’

Rabbi Shim’on said to his son, Rabbi El’azar, ‘El’azar, when King Messiah arouses, countless other signs, and miracles will arise in the whole world. Come and see: In the Garden of Eden below, there is a single place hidden, concealed, unknown—embroidered with many colors; within are hidden a thousand palaces of yearning. No one enters them except Messiah, who abides constantly in the Garden of Eden.

The entire Garden is encompassed by many crowns of the righteous, and Messiah stands over countless forces and camps of souls of the righteous. On festivals and Sabbaths, Messiah enters that place and delights in all those palaces.

Within, within those palaces is another place—concealed and hidden, completely unknown, called Eden. No one is capable of knowing it [cf. Isaiah 64:4]. Messiah is hidden outside, around that place, until a place called קֵן צִפּוֹר (qen tsipor), Bird’s Nest, is revealed to him—a place proclaimed by that bird who arouses in the Garden every day.

In that place are embroidered images of all other nations who have gathered against Israel to harm them. He enters that place, raises his eyes, and sees the patriarchs entering the ruins of the House of God, until he sees Rachel, tears on her face, and the blessed Holy One comforting her—but she does not want to be comforted, as is said: She refuses to be comforted for her children (Jeremiah 31:15). Then Messiah raises his voice and weeps, and the whole Garden of Eden trembles and all those righteous ones there scream and weep [cf. Pesiqta Rabbati 36:4–6]. He screams and weeps a second time, and the heavens above the Garden tremble, along with 1,500 myriads of supernal camps, until reaching the supernal Throne. Then the blessed Holy One beckons to that bird, who enters her nest and sits by Messiah, crying what she cries, arousing what is aroused.

From within the holy Throne, that Bird’s Nest and Messiah are summoned. All elevate them above, and the blessed Holy One swears to them to eliminate the wicked kingdom from the world by the hand of Messiah and to avenge Israel—and all the goodness that the blessed Holy One intends to do for His people. Then the Bird’s Nest, with Messiah in it, returns to its place, Messiah slipping into its hiding place as before….’

A voice will burst in the branches of the trees of the Garden, calling potently: ‘Awaken, high holy ones! Rise before the Messiah! Behold, the time has come for the Doe to unite with Her Husband. And Her Husband wishes to avenge Her in the world and raise Her from the dust.’

Then they will all rise and gird him with his weapons as before, Abraham on his right, Isaac on his left, Jacob in front of him, Moses the Faithful Shepherd above all the righteous, dancing along in the Garden.

Once the Messiah is arrayed by the righteous in the Garden of Eden, he will enter that place called Bird’s Nest, as previously, and see the image of the destruction of the Temple and the many righteous who were killed there. Then he takes from there ten garments, called ‘garments of zeal,’ and hides himself there for forty days, totally unrevealed.

At the end of forty days a single voice arouses, and from the supernal Throne the Bird’s Nest is summoned along with the King Messiah hidden within. Then he is raised above, and when the blessed Holy One sees King Messiah dressed in garments of vengeance, girded with his weapons, He takes him and kisses him on the head.

Then 390 firmaments tremble. The blessed Holy One summons one of the firmaments that had been treasured away since the six days of Creation, and from one palace in that firmament He takes out a crown, engraved with holy names. With that crown the blessed Holy One was adorned when Israel crossed the sea, to take revenge on all of Pharaoh’s chariots and horsemen, and with it He crowns King Messiah. Once he is crowned and arrayed in all these adornments, the blessed Holy One takes him and kisses him as before. Who has seen holy chariots and supernal camps surrounding him, offering him so many presents and gifts, all adorning him?

He enters into one palace there and sees all the supernal angels called Mourners of Zion—those who weep over the destruction of the Temple, weeping constantly—and they give him a purple robe to wreak vengeance. Then the blessed Holy One hides him away in the Bird’s Nest, where he is concealed for thirty days [cf. Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 5:8; Rut Rabbah 5:6]. Afterward, within that bird’s nest, he will descend from above to below, arrayed in all those adornments, surrounded by countless holy camps. The whole world will see a radiance hovering between heaven and earth, persisting for seven days, and all inhabitants of the world will be astonished and confounded, totally unable to comprehend—except for the wise, who know these mysteries; happy is their share!

All those seven days, he will be adorned on earth in that bird’s nest. Where? On the way (Deuteronomy 22:6)—Rachel’s grave, for she stands at the crossroads, and he will gladden her and comfort her. Then she will let herself be comforted, and will rise and kiss him. Afterward that radiance will ascend from that place and settle upon Jericho, city of trees. In any tree (ibid.)—Jericho. Or on הָאָרֶץ (ha-arets), the land (ibid.)—Jerusalem. For twelve months he will be hidden in the radiance of the Bird’s Nest. After twelve months that radiance will extend between heaven and earth, settling upon the land of Galilee, where Israel’s exile began. There he will reveal himself from the radiance of the Bird’s Nest, which will return to its place.

On that day the whole world will tremble as before, from one end of heaven to the other, and then the whole world will know that King Messiah has been revealed in the land of Galilee. All those who study Torah assiduously will gather round him—though they are few in the world [see BT Sanhedrin 97a]—and through the merit of schoolchildren his strength will be vitalized, overpowering. This is the mystery of fledglings (Deuteronomy 22:6). And if these are not to be found, then infants sitting in their mother’s potent bosom, suckling, as is said: [Whom will he teach knowledge? To whom will he explain a message?] Those weaned from milk, taken from the breast (Isaiah 28:9)—namely, or eggs (Deuteronomy ibid.)—because for their sake Shekhinah dwells with Israel in exile, since as for the wise, few will be found at that time. Thus, and the mother crouching over עַל (al), for the sake of, the fledglings or for the sake of the eggs (ibid.).

Do not take the mother together with the children (ibid.). For the matter does not depend on him—to deliver Her from exile—but rather on the supernal King. Once these children and sucklings empower King Messiah, then supernal Mother, crouching over them, arouses toward Her Husband. For twelve more months, it will be delayed; then Her Husband will come and raise Her from the dust, as is said: I will raise the fallen booth of David (Amos 9:11)” (Zohar 2:7b–9a).

“Men of mysteries offer a pearl to their disciples, and if they do not understand the hint, it is explained to them in jest. For example, a man says that a single egg overthrew sixty villages, because the egg was dropped by a bird in the air and struck the villages. The jesters said that this is not what he meant, but that a man wrote [a note saying] ‘sixty villages’ and the egg dropped by the bird effaced ‘sixty villages.’ But perish the thought that Masters of Torah should say jocular or trivial things in Torah [see BT Bekhorot 57b: ‘Once the egg of a bar yokhani fell and its contents swamped sixteen cities and destroyed three hundred cedar trees. But does it actually cast the egg? Is it not written: The ostrich’s wing joyously beats (Job 39:13)?—the egg was a rotten one’]!

And they taught: Fledglings—Masters of Mishnah. Or eggs—Masters of Scripture. And just as נָפַל (nafal), falling, from that נִפּוֹל (nipol), young bird, He is called, בַּר נַפְלֵי (Bar Nafli), Son of the Fallen [alluding to נֵפֶל (nefel), stillborn (Psalms 58:9; Job 3:16)]. For the the egg [Malkhut] falls, which is like a אֶתְרוֹג (etrog), citron, as it is the same size as an egg, and of Her it is said: I will raise הַנֹּפֶלֶת (ha-nofelet), the fallen, booth of David (Amos 9:11). And with Her fell sixty queens [i.e., the six lower sefirot each of which contains ten (Sullam)] (Song of Songs 6:8), since they are כְּרִיכִין (kerikhin), bound, with Her. It has the same sense as in, ‘How they did כּוֹרְכִין (korkhin), bind, the Shema [i.e., recitation of Shema without pausing between phrases]’ (BT Pesaḥim 56a), and these correspond to the sixty tractates [of Mishnah]. And young women beyond number (ibid.); maidens in train, her companions (Psalms 45:15), which are הֲלָכוֹת (halakhot), rulings, without number.

And that נִיפּוֹל (nipol), young bird, is the בֶּן יָהּ (Ben Yah), Son of God [Ze’eir Anpin], he is within the Fifty Gates of בִינָה (Binah), Understanding, namely יָהּ (Yah), God—י״ (ten) times ה״ (five) [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 38b; Nedarim 38a]. ו (Vav) is a נִיפּוֹל (nipol), young bird, because He fell, as it is said: How are you fallen from the heavens, O bright star, son of the dawn! (Isaiah 14:12). He is called נִיפּוֹל (nipol), ‘young bird,’ but not נָפַל (nafal), falling, and not נוֹפֵל (nofel), falls [since it is not Him who falls but Malkhut who falls from Him]. י ו (Yod, vav)—He descends through them [in order to raise] ה ה (he, he) [upper and lower] Malkhut, of whom it is said: And the two of them went (Ruth 1:19). It is also written: You shall surely send off [lit., sending off, you shall send off] (Deuteronomy 22:7)—the first [sending off] is the First Temple. The second [you shall send off] the Second Temple, in order to raise them up, as is written: יִשְׂמְחוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְתָגֵל הָאָרֶץ (Yismeḥu ha-shamayim ve-tagel ha-arets)Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exalt [יהוה (YHWH)] (Psalms 96:11)” (Zohar 3:215a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“The Faithful Shepherd said: How obscure these matters are for one who does not know them, and how transparent for one who does! Certainly that bird is the Shekhinah and Her nest is the Temple. And Israel are the fledglings, upon whom the mother [Shekhinah] sits. And the mother is crouched over the fledglings (Deuteronomy 22:6)—Masters of Mishnah, who fly with Her decrees. Or eggs (ibid.)—Masters of Scripture.

But when Israel sinned, and the Temple was destroyed, what is written? You shall surely send off the mother (ibid., 7), as is written: And for your transgressions is your mother put away (Isaiah 50:1). And about the masters of the six orders of Mishnah, it is written: And the sons you may take for yourself (ibid.)—six [orders], from the aspect of six sons [i.e., the six lower sefirot], which are under upper Mother [Binah], and which are alluded to in the six words of the recitation of Shema Yisra’el, or in the six orders of Mishnah. It is all the same, whether [one offers] much or little, if only he directs his mind towards Heaven [Tif’eret], and binds it with the knot of the tefillin on the head and on the hand….

And for this reason, fledglings are from the aspect of ו (vav) which includes the six orders of Mishnah [the six lower sefirot]. Or eggs—Masters of Scripture. And it is said of them: At ה״ (five) years old, one is fit for the study of Five [namely, the Five Books of Moses], and this is Malkhut, [which is] ה (he). Sons—aspect of the Son of יָהּ (Yah), God, and these are the Masters of Kabbalah, of whom it is said: You shall not take the mother together with the sons (Deuteronomy 22:6)” (Zohar 3:254b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).