The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: תְּשׁוּבָה

I will Betroth You to Myself with Faithfulness

72343_636x945-cb1381332520.jpg“בְּתוּלָה (Betulah), Virgo, Elul, the left kidney [Hod (Zohar 2:123b)]” (Sefer Yetsirah §59b).

“The Rabbis taught: The kidneys advise [i.e., they are thought to be the seat of conscience]” (BT Berakhot 61a, cf. Psalms 7:10).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Why is there no נ (nun) in the אַשְׁרֵי (Ashrei) prayer [composed mostly of Psalms 145, which is arranged alphabetically, save that the verse beginning with the letter נ (nun) is missing]? Because the fall of Israel’s enemies [euphemistic for Israel Herself] begins with it. For it is written: נָפְלָה לֹא תוֹסִיף קוּם בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל נִטְּשָׁה עַל-אַדְמָתָהּ אֵין מְקִימָהּ (Nafelah lo tosif qum Betulat Yisra’el), Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel (Amos 5:2). In the West [i.e., Palestine] this verse is interpreted: נָפְלָה וְלֹא תוֹסִיף לִנְפּוֹל עוֹד—קוּם בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל (Nafelah [ve-]lo tosif [linpol od]. Qum, Betulat Yisra’el), She is fallen [—but] She will not [fall] again. Rise, O Virgin Israel!” (BT Berakhot 4b).

“Rabbi Aḥa was walking on the road, accompanied by Rabbi Yehudah. While they were going, Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘As for what we have learned: בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל (Betulat Yisra’el), Virgin Israel, who is blessed by seven and is called בַּת שֶׁבַע (Bat Sheva), Bathsheba, Daughter of Seven, as we have established in many places, and a virgin inherits seven blessings [under the wedding canopy, see Zohar 2:102b, 169a-b, 255b (Heikh); 3:44b, 124a, 266b; ZḤ 88d–89a (MhNRut)]—look at what is written: And you, O son of man, raise a lament for Virgin Israel, which is surely utter for Her, for Assembly of Israel! And this is most difficult of all: Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel (Amos 5:2). Now, that which the Companions have said concerning this statement is fine [see BT Berakhot 4b]. [However, this radical rereading is not convincing because] if the passage had been spoken by way of consolation, we would agree; yet here lamentation and dirge are uttered, as demonstrated by the verse! [cf. Rabbi Naḥman of Bratslav, Liqqutei Moharan 1:247].’

He replied, ‘Certainly so! This matter troubled me greatly, and I came before Rabbi Shim’on with a darkened face. He said to me, ‘From the look on your face, your heart is revealed!’ I said to him, ‘Surely, for my heart and my face are equivalent [cf. M Terumot 3:8].’ He said to me, ‘Utter your word!’

I said, ‘It is written: Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel. One who is angry with his wife, and she leaves him—she will never return. If so, woe to the children who have been cast out with her!’ He said to me, Are you not satisfied with what all the Companions have said? I said, They render the words compassionate, but it does not correspond. He said, Whatever the Companions say is fine and fitting, but woe to the generation when shepherds are nowhere to be found and the flock wanders, not knowing whether to go to the right or to the left! Surely this verse needs to be known, and all is revealed to those who see!

Come and see: In all the exiles suffered by Israel, He set a time and termination; and in all of them, Israel turned back to the blessed Holy One and Virgin Israel returned to Her place at the time decreed. Yet now, in this last exile, it is not so, for She has not returned as on the other occasions—as demonstrated by this verse, for it is written Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel. It is not written Fallen, and I will not raise Virgin Israel.

This may be compared to a king who became angry with the matrona and cast her out of his palace for a certain time. When that time arrived, the matrona immediately returned and came before the king. And so it happened once, twice, and thrice. Finally, she went far away from the king’s palace and was cast out for a distant time. He said, ‘This time is not like the other times, that she should come before me; rather, I myself will go with my retinue to woo her.’

When he reached her and saw her lying on the ground—who has seen the glory of the matrona at that time and the king pleading to her? Eventually, he grasped her in his hands and raised her and brought her to his palace, swearing to her that he would never part from her or be distant.

Similarly, with the blessed Holy One. All those times when Assembly of Israel was in exile, when the time arrived She returned and came before the King. Yet now, in this exile, it is not so; rather, the blessed Holy One will grasp Her hand and raise Her and reconcile with Her and return Her to His palace.

Come and see that it is so, for it is written Fallen, not to rise again, as in other times; but I myself will raise Her—I, YHWH, will raise Her booth; I will raise the fallen booth of David (Amos 9:11), Virgin Israel. The fallen—as is written: Fallen, [not to rise again]. This is the glory of Virgin Israel and Her praise. This I learned at that time.

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘You have surely spoken to my heart, and now it is tranquil. This is lucidity of the word, and it accords with a word that I recently gained. Rabbi Yose said, The blessed Holy One will one day proclaim over Assembly of Israel, Shake off the dust, arise; sit enthroned, O Jerusalem! (Isaiah 52:2)—like someone grasping his friend’s hand and saying, Shake yourself free and rise! So will the blessed Holy One grasp Her and say, Shake yourself free, arise!

Rabbi Aḥa said to him, ‘Happy are all those members of the royal palace, who open with this expression, as is written: Arise, shine, for your light has come! (Isaiah 60:1)—see, the King is surely here! Then is the glory and joy of all, when the King reconciles with Her.

It is written: Bathsheba came to the king in his chamber (1 Kings 1:15). Similarly, all those times She came to the King and stood before Him, as is written: She came before the king and stood before the king (ibid., 28). But this time, not so; rather, the King comes to Her to reconcile with Her, as is written: See, your king is coming to you! (Zechariah 9:9)—precisely, not You to Him. Is coming to you—to mollify You. Is coming to you—to raise You. Is coming to you—to restore You completely. Is coming to you—to bring You into His palace and unite with You eternally, as is said: I will betroth you to Myself with faithfulness; I will betroth you forever (Hosea 2:22, 21)'” (Zohar 3:6a–b).

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A Sojourner have I been in a Foreign Land: A Prisoner cannot Free Himself from Jail

20150502-crime-compensaIn his day you shall give his wages (Deuteronomy 24:15). The Faithful Shepherd opened ‘The following decree is to give a hired worker his hire in time. This is the meaning of, In his day you shall give his wages, and the sun shall not set on him (ibid.). Listen, heads of the Academy high and low. Metatron is the hire of the hired worker, a messenger from the eighteen worlds [Yesodto receive the eighteen blessings of the Amidah prayer [for Malkhut] every day, three times a day. For that reason, In his day you shall give his wages—the Shaḥarit service; and the sun shall not set on himMinḥa service, for if the day is past, the offering is no longer valid. For he is poor (ibid.)—surely he is poor in exile and has nothing but what he is given in prayer [see Zohar 1:179b: ‘(Metatron) the youth who is a poor child, possessing nothing at all of his own’]. For that reason his prayer is, A תְּפִלָּה (tefillah), prayer, for the lowly when יַעֲטֹף (ya’atof), he is faint (Psalms 102:1), namely the יַעֲטֹף (ya’atof), wrap, of the tsitsit and the hand tefillin [playing with two senses of the root עטף (‘tf), which can mean both ‘to be faint’ and ‘to cover oneself, wrap,’ as in ‘wrapping oneself in a tallit’ before binding tefillin, cf. Zohar 3:113b, TZ 6, 22a-b, 11, 26b; 21, 55b].

And his heart counts on it (Deuteronomy 24:15)—the Arvit (evening) service, which [corresponds to] the parts of the sacrifice and the fatty parts that are left from the offerings of the day [prayer replaces sacrifice, see BT Berakhot 6b on Psalms 141:2, cf. Psalms 69:31-32; Hosea 14:3]. They are like single grapes of the vineyard and the edge of your field (Leviticus 19:9) of which we learned leaving things [over for the poor] is a mitsvah and hinders [divine] punishment. For the poor [Shekhinah and Metatron] and for the sojourner you shall leave them (ibid. 10). For the middle pillar [Tif’eret], when He is outside His place is called a sojourner. For that reason, I [Moses the Faithful Shepherd, my rung being of the middle pillar], called myself a sojourner in the first exile. This is the meaning of, A sojourner have I been in a foreign land (Exodus 2:22), for He [Ze’eir Anpin] lies in exile for Her sake.’

The Masters of Mishnah asked him, ‘Faithful Shepherd, yet Israel performed this decree in the land of Israel? He said to them, this is in order to invoke compassion on those driven away from their place. For a man outside his place is called a sojourner, and all the more so the נִשְׁמָתִין (nishmatin), souls, that walk naked from that world and come into this world. Of them the verse says, Like a bird wandering from its nest is a man wandering from his place (Proverbs 27:8). The soul from, which the Shekhinah does not move, is a man (ibid.), of whom it says, YHWH is a man of war (Exodus 15:3), wandering from his place (Proverbs 27:8), roaming and roving from His place, which is the World that is Coming, Binah. And He wanders after her in this world, until the days that the soul needs to go outside her place are completed. He guards her until He returns her to her place and swears He shall not return to His place before He returns her to her own. [Therefore] whoever repents is as if he returned the blessed Holy One, and His Shekhinah to His place. This is the mystery of redemption as it said, If you would only heed His voice! (Psalms 95:7)” (Zohar 3:278a-b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

If you should lend money to My people, to the pauper among you, you shall not be to him like a creditor, you shall not impose interest on him. If you should indeed take in pledge your fellow man’s cloak, before the sun comes down you shall return it to him. For it is his sole covering, it is his cloak for his skin—in what can he lie? (Exodus 22:24-26).

“Woe to the sons of man who imprison the blessed Holy One with them in exile. The Shekhinah is imprisoned with them too, as it says, ‘A prisoner cannot free himself from jail’ (BT Berakhot 5b). Release is תְּשׁוּבָה (teshuvah), Repentance [lit., Returning], supernal Mother [Binah], which does depend on them. The fifty gates of freedom are with Her [cf. Leviticus 25:54], for the fifty times going out of Egypt is mentioned in the Torah [see Zohar 3:262a]. This is: and he turned כֹּה וָכֹה (koh va-khoh), this way and that way (Exodus 2:12). Through these fifty letters one unifies twice every day in the recitation of Shema which has כ״ה וכ״ה (twenty-five and twenty-five) letters. And saw that no man was about (ibid.)—to awaken Her inside of them.

She watches from the windows, it says about them And now, I pray you, beseech אֵל (El), God, that He will be gracious to us (Malachi 1:9)—to Her. About Her it is said, אֵל (El), God, pray, heal her, pray (Numbers 12:13), and the healing is through His hands, which is the spread hand to receive the penitents. And saw that no man was about—this is: through the window she looked out, and moaned (Judges 5:28), like teru’ah [of the ram’s horn], which is moaning. As it says, Noah opened the window of the ark he had made (Genesis 8:6)—on the day of Atonement, because the ark of Noah is supernal Mother, its window was the middle pillar, through it came the light, and Torah is light, and it is אוֹר הַגָּנוּז (or ha-ganuz), the hidden light.

And he turned this way and that way (Exodus 2:12). Peeping through the crannies (Song of Songs 2:9)—the ten days of repentance. And saw that no man was about (Exodus ibid.). Furthermore: Peering through the windows (Song of Songs ibid.)—the windows of the house of assembly. Father [Abba] and son [Ze’eir Anpin] are in the house of prisoners, and every day He [Arikh Anpin] watches over them and gives them sustenance.

And he turned this way and that way—if there might be someone who stirred to return and break his prison. As it is written, That You may say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves (Isaiah 49:9). And he turned this way and that way and saw that no man was about (Exodus 2:12). We have turned everyone to his own way (Isaiah 53:6); they all look to their own way, everyone for his gain, from his own quarter (ibid. 56:11). To gain more in this world, to inherit this world, and they are not from that place of which it says, God-fearing men, truthful men, haters of bribes (Exodus 18:21). Rather all were howling in prayers on the day of Atonement like dogs. ‘Give! Give! Money, forgiveness, atonement, and life. Seal us for life!’ And these are the greedy, like dogs [cf. Isaiah 56:1; Proverbs 30:15]. They are the nations of the world, that moan for themselves, and they are not shamefaced [see BT Sotah 49b: ‘In the heels of Messiah, חוּצפָּה (ḥutspah), impudence, will increase… The face of the generation is like the face of a dog]. There are none who call to Him in repentance, to return the Shekhinah to the blessed Holy One, who is far from Him, to return Her to Him. They resemble dogs, as it says, And they mingled with the nations and learned their deeds (Psalms 106:35). These are the motley throng. Every good deed they do is only to benefit themselves [cf. BT Shabbat 33b; Bava Batra 10b].

Furthermore, they [only] ask for food, clothing, and time, which is time for coupling, as it says, he should not stint for this one her flesh, כְּסוּתָהּ (kesutah), her wardrobe, and her conjugal rights (Exodus 21:10) [cf. BT Ketubbot 48a]. There is nobody who asks for food of Torah, clothing of the Shekhinah, upper Mother [Binah], as it says, And do not forsake your mother’s teaching (Proverbs 1:8). ‘Clothing’ is the covering of tsitsit, and its cloak, and the tefillin of the hand as it says, A prayer for the lowly when he covers (Psalms 102:1). ‘And time’ is recitation of Shema in its proper time. With these three they did not act for the Shekhinah, [And if he does not do these three for her,] she shall go free without payment, with no כֶּסֶף (kesef), money (Exodus 21:11)—they have no כִּסּוּפָא (kissufa), shame, for the Shekhinah [who is like a pauper], they are brazen. Furthermore: with no כָּסֶף (kesef), money—they will not have any portion in the כִּסּוּפָא (kissufa), hidden, world that is coming [cf. Zohar 2:97a (SdM)].

Look, all this God performs twice or thrice with a גָּבֶר (gaver), man [to bring back his being from the Pit, to glow in the light of life] (Job 33:29). Because of this: for it is his sole כְסוּתֹה (khesutoh), covering (Exodus 22:26)—the first [life] cycle. It is his cloak for his skin (ibid.)—his second [life] cycle. In what can he lie? (ibid.)—his third [life] cycle. These are the three garments, the three coverings of the three colors of the eye, which are garments for the pupil of the eye which is the נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 22a-b).

Wherever the Preparation of the Incense is Uttered with Intention and Heartfelt Devotion No One can be Harmed

Jerusalem-Incense“Rabbi Zutra son of Tobiah said in the name of Rav: From where do we learn that a blessing should be said over sweet aromas? Because it says, Let all that has breath praise Yah (Psalms 150:6). What is that which gives enjoyment to the soul and not to the body?—you must say that this is fragrance” (BT Berakhot 43b).

“Three things restore a man’s good spirits: [beautiful] sounds, sights, and smells” (BT Berakhot 57b).

“Whoever smelled the smoke, as a column rose from the smoke-raiser [in the Temple], became cleansed of heart, refined in radiant joy to serve his Lord. The filth of the evil impulse disappeared from him, leaving him with only one heart toward his Father in heaven [cf. M Berakhot 9:5]; for incense actually disintegrates the evil impulse in all aspects… nothing in the world breaks the Other Side except incense.

Come and see what is written: Take the fire-pan and place fire upon it from the altar and put in incense. Why? For the fury has gone forth from before YHWH, the plague has begun! (Numbers 17:11). For look, nothing breaks that side except incense, since nothing is as beloved to the blessed Holy One as incense! Consequently, it can eliminate sorcery and evil elements from the home. If the fragrance and smoke of incense prepared by people for that purpose has the power to eliminate, All the more so [holy] incense.

This matter is an established decree before the blessed Holy One: Whoever contemplates and reads every day פִּטּוּם הַקְּטֹרֶת (Pitum ha-Qetoret), Preparation of the Incense, will be saved from all elements of sorcery in the world, from all mishaps, evil fantasies, and pestilence. He will not be harmed that entire day, for the Other Side has no power over him—but he must focus his intention on it.

Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘If human beings knew how exalted the Preparation of the Incense was in the eyes of the blessed Holy One, they would take every single word and raise it as a crown upon their heads, like a crown of gold. Whoever engages in the Preparation of the Incense and concentrates upon it every day has a share in this world and in the world that is coming. Pestilence will disappear from him and from the world, and he will be delivered from all judgments and all evil aspects of this world, from the judgment of the alien kingdom, and even from the judgment of Hell…

The Preparation of the Incense is more beloved than all rituals and devotions in the world. Even though prayer is most exalted of all [the commandments], the Preparation of the Incense is precious and beloved to the blessed Holy One.

Come and see: What is the difference between prayer and the Preparation of the Incense? Prayer was instituted to replace the sacrifices that Israel used to offer [in the time when the Temple stood], and none of those sacrifices that they offered was as important as the incense. Furthermore, what is the difference between this and that? Well, prayer is restoration, restoring as needed. Incense does more: restoring, forging links, and producing radiance greater than all. What is that? Removing filth and purifying the Dwelling—all is illumined, restored, and linked as one. Therefore we must remove filth from the world, thereby restoring all, every single day—like that beloved offering, in which the blessed Holy One delighted” (Zohar 2:218b-19a).

And YHWH said to Moses, “Take you the סַמִּים (samim), fragrances, balsam and onycha and galbanum, fragrances, and clear frankincense, equal part for part shall it be. And you shall make of it incense, a perfume compound, perfumer’s work, tinctured with salt, pure, sacred. And you shall pound it to fine powder and place some of it before the Ark of the Covenant in the Tent of Meeting where I shall meet you. Holy of holies it shall be to you (Exodus 30:34-38).

And Aaron shall burn upon it the aromatic incense morning after morning, when he tends the lamps he shall burn it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before YHWH for your generations. You shall not offer up on it strange incense (Exodus 30:7-8).

“The rabbis taught: How was the incense prepared? It weighed 368 manehs, 365 corresponding to the number of days in a solar year, a maneh for each day, half to be offered in the morning and half in the afternoon, and three additional manehs from which the High Priest took handfuls on Yom Kippur. These were put back into the mortar on the day before Yom Kippur and ground again very thoroughly so as to be extremely fine. The incense contained eleven kinds of spices [אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), Lord, times eleven equals הַקְטֹרֶת (ha-qetoret), the incense]: balsam, onycha, galbanum and frankincense, each weighing seventy manehs; myrrh, cassia, spikenard and saffron, each weighing sixteen manehs; twelve manehs of costus, three of aromatic bark; nine of cinnamon; nine kabs of Carsina lye; three seahs and three kabs of Cyprus wine. If Cyprus wine was not available, old white wine might be used. A quarter of a kab of Sodom salt, and a minute amount of smoke-raising herb. Rabbi Nathan the Babylonian says: also a minute amount of Jordan amber. If one added honey to the mixture, he rendered it unfit for sacred use. If he omitted any one of its ingredients, he is guilty of a capital offence.

Rabban Shim’on son of Gamliel says: ‘Balsam’ refers to the sap that drips from the balsam tree. The Carsina lye was used for bleaching the onycha to improve it. The Cyprus wine was used to soak the onycha in it to make it pungent. Though urine is suitable for this purpose, it is not brought into the Temple out of respect.

It was taught, Rabbi Nathan says: While it was being ground, another would say הָדֵק הֵיטֵב הֵיטֵב הָדֵק (hadeq heitev, heitev hadeq), ‘Grind well, well grind,’ because the [rhythmic] sound is good for [those who grind] spices. If it was mixed in half-quantities, it is fit for use, but we have not heard whether this applies to a third or a quarter. Rabbi Yehudah said: The general rule is that if it was made in the correct proportions, it is fit for use even if made in half-quantity, but if he omitted any one of its ingredients, he is guilty of a capital offence (BT Karetot 6a).

“It was taught, Bar Qappara says: Once every sixty or seventy years, the accumulated surpluses amounted to half the yearly quantity. Bar Qappara also taught: If a minute quantity of honey had been mixed into the incense, no one could have resisted the scent. Why did they not put honey into it? Because Torah says, For you shall not turn to smoke any leaven nor any honey from it as a fire offering to YHWH (Leviticus 2:11)” (JT Yoma 4:5).

And Moses said to Aaron, “Take the fire-pan and place fire upon it from the altar and put in incense and carry it quickly to the community and atone for them, for the furry has gone out from before YHWH, the scourge has begun.” And Aaron took as Moses had spoken, and he ran into the midst of the assembly, and, look, the scourge had begun against the people, and he put in incense and atoned for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living, and the scourge was held back (Numbers 17:11-13).

“The Angel of Death confided his secret to him [Moses], for it is said, and he put in incense and atoned for the people (Numbers 17:11); and it is said, And he stood between the dead and the living, [and the scourge was held back] (ibid. 13). Had he not told it to him, where had he known it? [Since this act of intervention to save the people is not dictated by God but is a device Moses on his own initiative orders Aaron to implement]” (BT Shabbat 89a).

Take the fire-pan… and put in incense (Numbers 17:11)—a specific fire-pan [since the noun has the definite article]. [However,] it does not say and put in the incense. The intelligent will understand [i.e., the burning of incense was a sanitary technique used to drive off the plague]” (Ibn Ezra, Perush al ha-Torah).

“What atonement is there which obtains evenly for oneself, his household, his brethren, the priests, and the whole assembly of the house of Israel? It is the smoking of the incense. But does the incense obtain atonement?—indeed, for Rabbi Ḥananiah cited: We learn that the incense obtains atonement for what was said: And he put in incense and atoned for the people (Numbers 17:12). And the school of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: Why does incense obtain atonement for evil speech? Let that which is in secret [i.e. since none but the high priest may enter the Holy of Holies] come and obtain atonement for what is committed in secret!” (BT Yoma 44a).

“Rabbi Aḥa traveled to כְפַר טַרְשָׁא (Kefar Tarsha), Clod Village; he arrived at his inn. All the town’s residences spoke in hushed tones about him, saying, ‘A great man has arrived here. Let us go to him. They went to him. They said to him, ‘Is the master’s heart anguished by the destruction?’ He said to them, ‘What do you mean?’ They said to him, ‘For seven days, a plague has been hovering over the town. Each day it grows stronger and does not desist.’ He said to them, ‘Let us go to the synagogue and implore mercy from the blessed Holy One.’

While they were walking, [some people] arrived and said, ‘So-and-so and so-and-so have died, and so-and-so and so-and-so are about to die.’ Rabbi Aḥa said to them, ‘Now is not the time to stand by—the hour is pressing! Rather, set aside forty of the most righteous people, in four groups of ten, and I with you; ten for one corner of the town, ten for another corner of the town, so on for the four corners of the town; and recite with soulful devotion the passages of the aromatic incense that the blessed Holy One gave Moses, accompanied by the passages of the sacrifices [cf. BT Shabbat 89a].’

They did so three times—and passed through all four directions of the town, reciting accordingly [cf. Zohar 2:219a: It is forbidden to burn incense anywhere else except in the fire-pan (of the Temple)]. Afterward, he said to them, ‘Let us go to those verging on death. Set aside [other righteous people] for their houses and let them recite in a similar fashion. When you finish, recite these verses loudly three times: Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take the fire-pan and place fire upon it…’ (Numbers 17:11); Aaron took… (ibid., 12); He stood between the dead… (ibid., 13).’

They did so and the plagued ceased. They heard a voice saying, ‘Secret striker, primal striker, wait on high; the judgment of heaven does not hover here, for they know how to nullify it.’

Rabbi Aḥa’s heart was faint. He fell asleep. He heard that they were telling him, ‘Just as you accomplished that, accomplish this! Go and tell them to return in teshuvah, for they are wicked before Me.’

He arose and returned them in complete teshuvah, and they accepted upon themselves never to desist from Torah; and they changed the name of the city to מָאתָא מַחְסֵיָא (Mata Meḥseya), Town of Compassion [cf. BT Ketubbot 4a; Horayot 12a; Zohar 1:72a, 94b]” (Zohar 1:100b-101b, Midrash ha-Ne’lam).

May my prayer stand as incense before You (Psalms 141:2).

“Come and see: Incense binds bonds, spreading joy from above and below. This eliminates death, accusation, and wrath, which cannot prevail in the world” (Zohar 1:230a, cf. Bahir §109).

“And when the highest point and the world that is coming ascend, they know only the aroma, as one inhaling an aroma is sweetened” (Zohar 3:26b).

Healing for the Soul: All the Protection a Doctor Should Provide for One who is Ill

rav_ashlag_640x360“Up to here was written in that book of Dr. Kirtena. Afterward, traced in this verse, was all the protection a doctor should provide for one who is ill, lying in the King’s prison, so that he may serve the Master of the World.

For when a wise doctor goes to him, he finds him in a wilderness land and in tohu, emptiness—the illnesses imposed upon him. He finds him in royal captivity.

Now, you might say, ‘Since the blessed Holy One commanded to seize him, no person should attend to him [cf. BT Berakhot 60a, Bava Qamma 85a-b; Midrash Shemu’el 4:1; Nahmanides on Leviticus 26:11].’ Not so! For David has said, Happy is one who keeps an eye on the helpless; on the day of evil YHWH will deliver him (Psalms 41:2). The helpless—the one lying on his sickbed. And if he is a wise doctor, the blessed Holy One provides him blessings for the one he is attending to.

And that doctor, if he finds him in a wilderness land, lying on his sickbed; and in the emptiness of a howling desert, for that sickness oppresses him—what should he do? יְסֹבְבֶנְהוּ (Yesovevenhu), He will encircle him (Deuteronomy 32:10)—יְסוֹבֵב לֵיהּ סִבּוֹת (yesovev leih sibbot), he should revolve the turn of events for him, and bring about causes, so that those things harming him will be thwarted [cf. Zohar 1:109a, 110a-b, 191b]. He should let and draw out from him bad blood.

Give mind to him (ibid.)—he should examine and understand the origin of that illness, scrutinizing so that it does not intensify; he should diminish it.

Afterward, guard him like the pupil of His eye (ibid.)—so that he will be protected properly with those potions, with those remedies that he needs. And he must not fail to distinguish between them, for if he errs in even one element, the blessed Holy One considers that doctor as if he spilled his blood and killed him. For although that person is in the King’s prison, confined there, the blessed Holy One wants someone to attend to him and help him, to take him out of prison.

[Dr. Kirtena] said as follows: The blessed Holy One renders judgment above upon inhabitants of the world, whether by death, uprooting, confiscation of property, or imprisonment (Ezra 7:26). One who deserves confiscation of property falls onto his sickbed and is not healed until he gives all that was decreed, he is healed and leaves prison [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 55a; Leqaḥ Tov, Deuteronomy 28:59; Zohar 1:227a-b; ZḤ 10d (MhN)]. Therefore, one must attend to him, so that he will pay his penalty and leave.

One who deserves uprooting will be seized and confined in prison until he is uprooted entirely, and sometimes he will be uprooted of his limbs, or of one of them, and afterward he will be released from prison.

One who deserves death, so it is. For if he gives all the ransom and money in the world, he will not be saved.

Even so, there must be a wise doctor to attend to him. If he can provide him with healing of the body, fine; if not, he will provide him with healing for his soul and attend to his soul’s healing. Such is a doctor whom the blessed Holy One will attend to in this world and in the world that is coming.

Rabbi El’azar said, ‘Until now I have never heard of this doctor or this book—except one time when a certain wandering donkey-driver told me that he heard from his father that in his time there was a certain doctor who, when he looked at a person on his sickbed, would say, This one will live, or This one will die. They said of him that he was truly virtuous and sin-fearing, and if anyone could not obtain what he needed, he himself would purchase it, giving of his own. And they said that there was no one in the world as wise as him, and his prayer accomplished more than the work of his hands, and it seems to me that this was the doctor!’

That Jew said, ‘His book is in my hands, because I inherited it from my grandfather. And all the words in that book are all based on mysteries of Torah, and in it I discovered concealed mysteries and many matters of healing, of which he said that it is not proper for anyone to perform them unless he is sin-fearing.

And those were what Balaam used, for he murmured incantations over illness; he spoke with his mouth, and [the person] was instantly healed [cf. M Sanhedrin 10:1; Tosefta Sanhedrin 12:10; JT Sotah 1:4, 16d; Sanhedrin 10:1, 28a-b; Vayiqra Rabbah 9:9; BT Sanhedrin 101a, Shevu’ot 15b; Avot de-Rabbi Natan A, 36; Devarim Rabbah 5:15; Bemidbar Rabbah 9:20].

All of them he clarified in that book, and he said, ‘This is forbidden, and this is permitted for one who is sin-fearing.’ For he mentioned many illnesses who’s cure depends on murmuring of the mouth, deriving from the side of sorcery and some from the side of wizardry. And all those forbidden to be uttered by the mouth and forbidden to be enacted, he discussed. Eventually I found there that for certain illnesses one must say such and such, and expel that illness by banishment and excommunication. That is quite amazing to me!’

Rabbi El’azar rejoiced, and the Companions rejoiced. Rabbi El’azar said, ‘If we had that book, we could see what it really is!’ He replied, ‘I’ll entrust it to you, in order to show it to the Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai].’ And we have learned: Rabbi El’azar said, ‘That book was in my hands twelve months, and in it I discovered many sublime precious lights. When we reached those sealed mysteries concerning Balaam, I was astounded.

One day I was whispering incantations in a certain place, and the letters were ascending and descending, until I saw in a dream, and they said to me, What are you doing entering and enquiring in a domain that is not yours, where you need not be?

I awoke, and I was distressed over those sealed mysteries that were there. I sent for that Jew, who is named Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Yehudah, and I gave him that book. And in the mysteries of Balaam, I found some of those names of angels, sent to him by Balak, though they were not arranged correctly. But in it I found many types of remedies, prepared according to configurations of Torah and her sealed mysteries. And I saw that it depends on kindness, and prayers and please to the blessed Holy One.

Now if you say that he performed healing with verses of Torah—perish the thought! Rather, he would speak mysteries of Torah, and based on that mystery he would produce mysteries of healing, the likes of which I have never seen. I said, Blessed is the Compassionate One who has enlightened human beings by wisdom above.

I grasped some of those matters relating to Balaam, and from them I saw that in the whole world there was no one as wise in sorcery as he. I said, Blessed is the Compassionate One, who has abolished these sorceries from the world, so that human beings will not stray from revering the blessed Holy One [cf. Rashi on BT Pesaḥim 56a; Guide of the Perplexed 3:37]’” (Zohar 3:306a, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 69, 106a).

“Rabbi Abba was traveling to Cappadocia, accompanied by Rabbi Yose. As they were going, they saw a man approaching who had a mark on his face. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Let us turn off the road, for this one’s face testifies to sexual licentiousness of the Torah, on account of which his face is stigmatized. Rabbi Yose said to him, ‘If he has had this mark since childhood, what licentiousness inheres in him? He replied, ‘I see in his face, which testifies to licentiousness of Torah.’

Rabbi Abba called to him, and said, ‘Tell me something. What is this mark on your face?’ He said to them, ‘I beg of you, don’t punish me any more than what my sins have brought upon me!’

Rabbi Abba said, ‘How is that?’ He replied, ‘One day I was travelling on the road—me and my sister. We stayed at an inn and I got drunk, and all that night I embraced my sister. In the morning I got up, and the innkeeper was quarreling with another man. I got between them and they grappled me, one from this side and one from that, and this wound penetrated my forehead [lit., brain]. I was saved by a certain doctor who was staying with us.’

He asked him, ‘Who was that doctor?’ He replied, ‘It was Rabbi Simlai.’ He said, ‘And what cure did he give you?’ He replied, ‘A cure for the soul. From that day on, I have engaged in teshuvah. And every day I look at my face in a mirror and I weep for that sin before the blessed Holy One, and with those tears I wash my face [cf. Zohar 2:12b: There is no gate that those tears cannot enter].

Rabbi Abba said, ‘Were it not for your becoming deprived of teshuvah, I would remove that mark from your face. But I proclaim over you, Your iniquity is removed and your sin purged (Isaiah 6:7). He said to him, ‘Rabbi say it three times!’ He said it three times and the mark disappeared. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Surely your Lord wished to remove it from you, for you were certainly engaged in teshuvah.’ He said to him, ‘I vow that from this day onward I will engage in Torah day and night.’ He asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘אֶלְעָזָר (El’azar)’ He said, ‘Surely, the name was decisive, for אֵל עָזַר (El azar), God has helped, and assisted you [cf. Tanḥuma Ha’azinu 7: One should always be careful to choose for his child a name that denotes righteousness, for at times the name itself can be an influence for good or an influence for bad].’ Rabbi Abba sent him off with a blessing” (Zohar 3:75b-76a).

“The academy of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: וְרַפֹּא יְרַפֵּא (ve-rapo yerape), he shall surely cure him (Exodus 21:19)—authorization was granted to the doctor to cure” (BT Bava Qamma 85a, cf. Ibn Ezra, ad loc).

If you really heed the voice of YHWH your God, and do what is right in His eyes, and hearken to His commands and keep all His statutes, all the sickness that I put upon Egypt I will not put upon you, for I am YHWH your healer (Exodus 15:26).

Israel Make Merry

IMG_0427.JPG“Come and see: There are times in the year when favor is found, and times in the year when Judgment looms. There are times in the month when favor is found, and times in the month when judgments loom over all. There are times in the week when favor is found, and times in the week when judgments appear in the world. There are times in the day when favor is found and the world is fragrant, and times in the day when judgments loom—and even in the hour. Thus it is written: [For everything there is a season,] and a time for every matter (Ecclesiastes 3:1), and similarly: [As for me, may my prayer to You, O YHWH, come] at a time of favor… (Psalms 69:14), and similarly: Why, YHWH, do You stand far off, and hide in times of trouble? (Psalms 10:1), and similarly: From afar, YHWH appeared to me (Jeremiah 31:3). And times when He is near, as is written: Seek YHWH when He may be found, call to Him when He is near (Isaiah 55:6); YHWH is near to all who call Him (Psalms 145:18). Therefore, that he not enter at all times into the sanctuary (Leviticus 16:2)” (Zohar 3:58a–b).

“Rabbi Ḥelbo said in the name of Rav Huna: A man should always be conscientious [or: careful] about the afternoon prayer, since Elijah was answered only during this prayer, as is said: And it happened at the hour of the afternoon offering that Elijah the prophet approached and said… Answer me, YHWH, answer me (1 Kings 18:36–37). Answer me—that the fire may descend from heaven; answer me—that they may not say it is the work of sorcery [cf. Zohar 2:191b]” (BT Berakhot 6b).

“In the ninth [month, Sivan,] Israel was answered by the Sea. And the ninth [seasonal] hour is the time of merriment, blessing, and joy [‘when He is feeding the whole world, from the horned ox to the brood of vermin’ (BT Avodah Zarah 3b)]. It is the hour of the [small] afternoon prayer in which Elijah was answered, as is written: And it happened at the hour of the afternoon offering that Elijah the prophet approached (1 Kings 18:36) [on the time of the small afternoon prayer, see BT Berakhot 26b]. It is received tradition for you that the ninth year of the jubilee is the most auspicious year [see Leviticus 25:20–22], the ninth month is a month of favor, and it is the most auspicious of months. The ninth day of the month is the most auspicious day of the month, and the ninth hour of the day is the most auspicious hour of hours. And the same occurs above, among the highest ones—the ninth is most auspicious” (Berit Menuḥa: Second Way: The Way of Love, Ninth Vowel).

“From the beginning of the month [of Tishrei] books are opened and judges sit in judgment. Every single day courts are empowered to open proceedings, until the day called ‘ninth of the month.’ On that day judgments all ascend to the Master of Judgment, and a supernal holy throne is prepared for the King. On that day Israel below should rejoice before their Lord, who is ready to sit over them on the holy Throne of Mercy, the Throne of Leniency… Consequently, eating and drinking on the ninth more than on any other day ” (Zohar 3:67a, 69b).

“[Rabbi Shim’on son of Gamliel taught:] No days were as festive in Israel as Yom Kippur” (M Ta’anit 4:8).

“On this day two radiances shine as one—Supernal Mother illumines Lower Mother. Thus it is written יוֹם הַכִּפֻּרִים (Yom ha-Kippurim), the Day of Atonements (Leviticus 23:27), as has been said…

There is one day a year to examine and inspect them, and when this day comes to pass, Supernal Mother—in whose hand is all freedom—appears, to observe Israel. And they gird themselves on this day with many rituals, prayers, and self-afflictions—all of them virtuous… Then She couples with the King in radiance, in joy, in perfection, in rapture, for She has raised children fittingly for the supernal King” (Zohar 3:102a–b).

“On Rosh Hashanah, the left arm is aroused to welcome the Matronita. The whole world is then in fear of Judgment, and the whole world has to be in complete repentance before the blessed Holy One. Later, on the ninth of the month [of Tishrei], the Matronita comes and the palace retinue, Israel, make merry and immerse themselves in the river to purify themselves for the mating of the Matronita, on the next day [Yom Kippur]. For Her mating is accomplished by His placing His left hand under Her head, in accordance with, His left hand beneath my head, [his right hand embracing me] (Song of Songs 2:6).

Then, on the tenth day Israel fast for their sins and are forgiven. For the supernal Mother [Binah] looks kindly on Malkhut in the coupling and makes atonement for all of the retinue of the Temple, Israel, since the left welcomes Her on this day, for the head of Malkhut rests on the left [hand]” (Zohar 3:213b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

The Three Oaths

Image“Rabbi Zera was evading Rav Yehudah because he desired to go up to the Land of Israel while Rav Yehudah had said, ‘Whoever goes up from Babylon to the Land of Israel transgresses a positive commandment, for it is said, They shall be carried to Babylon, and there shall they be until the day that I visit them, says YHWH; then will I bring them up, and restore them to this place (Jeremiah 27:22).’ And Rabbi Zera? [how could he act against this text?]—this refers to the vessels of ministry. And Rav Yehudah?—it is also written: I make you swear, O daughters of Jerusalem by the deer or the gazelles of the field… (Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5).

And Rabbi Zera?—this implies that Israel shall not go up [all together as if surrounded] by a wall [alter., ‘like a wall’]. And Rav Yehudah?—another swear to Me is written in Scripture. And Rabbi Zera?—this is required for [an exposition] like that of Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Ḥanina who said: ‘What was the purpose of those three adjurations [cf. Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5; 5:8]?—one, that Israel shall not go up [altogether as if surrounded] by a wall; the second, that whereby the blessed Holy One adjured Israel that they shall not rebel against the nations of the world; and the third is that whereby the blessed Holy One adjured the idolaters that they shall not oppress Israel too much.’

And Rav Yehudah?—it is written that you will not rouse not stir love until it is ripe (Song of Songs 2:7). And Rabbi Zera?—that text is required for [an exposition] like that of Rabbi Levi who stated: ‘What was the purpose of those six adjurations [each of the three adjurations is repeated]?—three for the purposes just mentioned and the others, that [the prophets] shall not make known the end, that [the people] shall not delay the end [by their misdeeds], and that they shall not reveal the secret to the idolaters.’ By the deer or the gazelles of the field—Rabbi El’azar explained: The blessed Holy One said to Israel, ‘If you will keep the adjuration, well and good; but if not, I will permit your flesh [to be a prey] like [that of] the deer or the gazelles of the field’” (BT Ketubbot 110b-11a).

“Resh Lakish was swimming in the Jordan. Thereupon Rabbah son of Son of Ḥana came and gave him the hand: If she is a wall, we will build on her a silver turret. If she is a door, we will besiege her with cedar boards (Song of Songs 8:9). Had you [Assembly of Israel] made yourself like a wall and had all come up in the days of Ezra, you would have been compared to silver, which no rottenness can ever affect. Now that you have come up like doors, you are like cedar boards, which rottenness prevails over” (BT Yoma 9b).

“Rabbi Yose said to him, ‘All this is longer than the Companions have established, namely, one day of exile for Assembly of Israel, no more, as is written: He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13).’ He replied, ‘So I learned from father in the mysteries of letters of the Holy Name, the duration of the world and the days of Creation—all a single mystery” (Zohar 1:116a-18b).

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq opened, ‘Before the day breathes and the shadows flee (Song of Songs 4:6). Before the day breathes—the exile of Israel; that they would be subjugated in exile until the day when rule of the peoples is ended.’ For we have learned that Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘The dominion of all peoples together over Israel would last one thousand years. There is no אוּמָה (ummah), people, that would not subjugate them. ‘One day’ corresponds to: But it shall be one day which shall be known to YHWH, [not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light] (Zechariah 14:7).

Another explanation: Before the day שֶׁיָּפוּחַ (sheyafuaḥ), breathes—before that day the peoples יָפוּחַ (yafuaḥ), expire. And the shadows flee—princes ruling over them. I will hurry to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense (Song of Songs 4:6). Said the blessed Holy One ‘I will betake Myself to shake the peoples from Jerusalem, the הַר הַמּוֹר (har ha-mor), the mountain of myrrh,’ as is written, Jerusalem on הַר הַמּוֹרִיָּה (har ha-moriyah), mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1). And to the hill of frankincense—the Temple that is in Zion, as it is written, Lovely in heights, all the earth’s joy, Mount Zion (Psalms 48:3). And it is written, To seize the earth’s corners, that the wicked be shaken from it (Job 38:13)—as one holds a garment to shake all the filth from it.’

Rabbi Yose said, ‘The blessed Holy One will eventually be revealed in earthly Jerusalem, and purify it from the filth of the peoples, before the day of the peoples is complete [cf. BT Ta’anit 5a].’ For Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Dominion over Israel lasts only one day, and that is a day of the blessed Holy One which is one thousand years [cf. BT Sanhderin 97a; Bahir §5: Each day of the blessed Holy One is a thousand years, as it is written, For a thousand years in Your eyes are like yesterday gone (Psalms 90:4)]. This is what is written, He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13)—one day, and no more.’

Rabbi Yose said, ‘If they are subjugated more than one thousand years, it is not because of the King’s decree, but rather because they do not wish to return before Him [in repentance to the Land of Israel]. And it is written, And it shall be, when all these things come upon you, [the blessing and the curse that I have set before you, that your heart shall turn back among all the nations to which YHWH your God will make you to stray] (Deuteronomy 30:1-2), and, Should your strayed one be at the edge of the heavens, from there shall YHWH your God gather you (ibid., 4)’” (Zohar 2:17a, Midrash ha-Ne’lam).

“He opened, saying, ‘Look, the day is still long; it is not time to gather in the herd. Water the sheep and go and let them graze (Genesis 29:7). This verse has already been established, for when the people of Israel arouse teshuvah before the blessed Holy One, by the merit of Torah they will return to the Holy Land and be gathered from exile. For surely the exile of Israel will be for one day and no more, as is written: He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13).

If they do not engage in teshuvah, the blessed Holy One says, Look, the day is still long; it is not time to gather in the herd—without merit, without worthy deeds. But there is one remedy for you: Go, water the sheep—delve into Torah and be watered by it—and go and let them graze in a restful place, in the fine, desirable place of your inheritance.’

Alternatively, He said, ‘Look, the day is still long…‘—the day called a day of tumult and din and confusion (Isaiah 22:5), on which the Temple was destroyed and Israel fell into exile. In the face of evil deeds, that day is prolonged and extended, as is written: The day is still long; it is not time to gather in the herd—because they are prolonging that day. Water the sheep—as has been said, with words of Torah, for by the merit of Torah Israel will come out of exile” (Zohar 3:270a-b).

Open for me, my sister, my friend, my dove, תַמָּתִי (tammati), my perfect one (Songs of Songs 5:2). Because, תַּם (tam), Complete, is the punishment of your offence, O daughter of Zion; He will no more carry you away into exile (Lamentations 4:22).

For my head is filled with dew (Song of Songs 5:2). Filled with dew? Rather, the blessed Holy One says, ‘Do you then imagine that from the day the Holy Temple was destroyed I have entered My house, or entered My dwelling place? Not so! I have not entered at all since the time of your exile. Behold you have a sign: For my head is filled with dew.

הא (He)—Shekhinah in exile [separated from יוה (Yod He Vav)]. Her perfection and Her life is טַל (tal), dew, and this is: יוד הא ואו (Yod He Vav). הא (Heis Shekhinah which is not of the dew. But יוד הא ואו (Yod He Vav) is numerically equivalent to ל״ט (thirty-nine) [and טַל (tal), dew]. He fills the Shekhinah from the flowing of all supernal sources (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 17b).

The Olive does not Produce Oil Until it is Crushed

olive-pickles-4A leafy olive tree beautiful with shapely fruit; amid the sound of great commotion He has set fire to it and its branches were broken (Jeremiah 11:16). Yehoshua son of Levi said: Just as the olive tree’s leaves do not fall neither in winter or summer so too Israel will always remain in this and the world to come” (BT Menakhot 53b, cf. Zohar 1:116a).

“Why is Israel compared to an olive? To teach that just as the olive does not produce its oil until it is crushed, so too Israel does not return except through suffering” (BT Menakhot 53b).

“Rabbi Shim’on son of Laqish said: Covenant is mentioned with regards to salt, and covenant is said with regard to suffering: covenant is said with regards to salt, as is written: And every offering of your grain you shall season with salt (Leviticus 2:13). Covenant is said with regard suffering, as is written: [And it shall be, if you do not heed the voice of YHWH your God to keep to do all His commands and His statutes that I charge you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you… (Deuteronomy 28:15)] These are the words of the Covenant (ibid., 69). Just as the covenant said with regard to salt, the salt sweetens meat, so too the covenant mentioned with regard to suffering, the suffering washes away all the crimes of man.

It has been taught: Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai says: The blessed Holy One gave Israel three precious gifts, and all of them were given only through suffering: The Torah, the Land of Israel and the World that is Coming. How do we know this of the Torah? As is said: Happy the man who Yah chastises, and whom מִתּוֹרָתְךָ (mitoratekha), from His teaching, He instructs (Psalms 94:12). The Land of Israel—as is written: As a man chastises his son YHWH your God chastises you (Deuteronomy 8:5), and after that it is written: For YHWH your God is about to bring you to a goodly land (ibid.). The World that is Coming—as is written: For a מִצְוָה (mitsvah), command, is a lamp and a teaching a light, and the way of life—stern rebukes (Proverbs 6:23)” (BT Berakhot 5a).