The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: bitter

Bitter Almonds: One Can Sweeten Them in the Fire!

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“Why are large [bitter] almonds fit for [tithing]? Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Because one can sweeten them in the fire!” (BT Ḥullin 25b).

You are stationed here today [all of you before YHWH your God, your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your overseers, every man of Israel] (Deuteronomy 29:9:) This is what is said in the verse: הָפוֹךְ (Hafokh), overturn, the wicked and they are gone, but the house of the righteous will stand (Proverbs 12:7)—every time that the blessed Holy One looks at the works of the wicked and מְהַפֵּךְ (mehapek), turns [them] over, they do not remain standing [cf. Zohar 3:136a (IR): ‘Scrutinizing providence, not revealed except when the wicked must be called to account and their deeds examined’]. He looked over the works of the generation of the Flood, and there was no withstanding [it] for them, as is said: And He wiped out all existing things [from the face of the earth, from humans to cattle to crawling things to the fowl of the heavens, they were wiped out from the earth] (Genesis 7:23).

He looked over the works of the Sodomites, and there was no withstanding [it] for them, as is said: And He overthrew all those cities [and all the plain and all the inhabitants of the cities and what grew in the soil] (ibid. 19:25).

He looked over the works of the Egyptians, and there was no withstanding [it] for them, as said, not a single one of them remained (Exodus 14:28).

He looked over the works of Babylon, and there was no withstanding [it] for them, as is said: [And I will rise against them, says YHWH of Armies,] and I will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, kith and kin (Isaiah 14:22).

Of them all David said, There did the doers of mischief fall. They were toppled and could not rise (Psalms 36:13). But Israel falls and stands, as is said: Rejoice not, O my enemy. Though I fall, I will arise. [Though I sit in darkness, YHWH is a light for me] (Micah 7:8)—For I am YHWH, I have not changed [and you, sons of Jacob, have not come to an end] (Malachi 3:6).

Rabbi Ḥanina son of Pappa said: The blessed Holy One said, ‘I have never struck a people repeatedly [i.e., never have a people fallen and risen again], but you, sons of Jacob, have not כְלִיתֶם (kelitem), come to an end, as is said: [I will sweep down evils upon them,] My arrows אֲכַלֶּה (akhalleh), spending, against them [wasted with famine, withered by blight and bitter scourge, and the fang of beasts will I send against them, with the venom of creepers in the dust] (Deuteronomy 32:23–24). My arrows כָּלִין (kalin), are spent, yet [Israel] does not כָּלִים (kalim), come to an end. And so Assembly of Israel said: He bent His bow and stood me up as a target for the arrow. [He drove into my innards the shafts of His quiver] (Lamentations 3:12–13).

A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A man who stood a beam up and shot his arrows at it. The arrows are spent, but the beam stands. Thus with Israel: any time that sufferings overtook them the sufferings ended, and they were [left] standing in their place. As is said, Overturn the wicked and they are gone, [but the house of the righteous will stand].

Hezekiah the son of Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Why is this portion [Nitsavim (Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20)] next to the portion about curses [i.e., Ki Tavo (ibid. 27:11–28:69)]? Because Israel heard a hundred curses less two in this portion, apart from the forty-nine which are mentioned in the priestly Torah [Leviticus]. Immediately their faces turned pale and they said, ‘Who is able to withstand these [curses]?’ Immediately Moses called to them and pacified them: What is written above? And Moses called to all Israel [and said to them, ‘You have seen all that YHWH did before your own eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land….] The great trials [that your own eyes have seen, those great signs and portents….] And you came to this place, [and Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of the Bashan sallied forth to meet us in battle, and we struck them down] (Deuteronomy 29:1–2, 6). And you did not heed My voice, and you spoke words before Me for which you deserved destruction. Still I did not wreak destruction upon you, when it is said: Our fathers in Egypt did not grasp Your wonders. [They did not call to mind Your many kindnesses and rebelled by the sea, at the Sea of Reeds] (Psalms 106:7). And not only that, but they said of the calf, These are your gods, O Israel, [who brought you up from the land of Egypt] (Exodus 32:4).

Now if you should say, ‘Why did the nations deserve destruction, while we remain standing?’ Because when sufferings overtake them, they thwart them and do not recall the name of the blessed Holy One, as is said, Pour out Your wrath on the nations that did not know You [and on the kingdoms that did not call on Your name] (Psalms 79:6). But Israel, when sufferings overtake them, surrender and מִתְפַּלְּלִין (mitpallelin), they pray [lit., make themselves the object of divine intervention], as is said, [The cords of death encircled me— and the straits of Sheol found me]—distress and sorrow did I find. And in the name of YHWH I called. [YHWH, pray, save my life] (ibid. 116:3–4) [cf. Bereishit Rabbah 92:1: ‘Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said: All sufferings that overcome a man and prevent him from words of Torah are sufferings of rebuke, but sufferings that overcome a man and do not prevent him from words of Torah are sufferings of love. As is written: For whom YHWH loves He rebukes, [and like a father his son, regards him kindly] (Proverbs 3:12)’].

Therefore the blessed Holy One said, ‘Even though these curses overtake you, they stand you up [or: they are your endurance].’ And so He said: [Who feeds you manna in the wilderness, which your fathers did not know,] in order to afflict you and in order to try you, [to make it go well with you in your later time?] (Deuteronomy 8:16). So Moses said to Israel: Even though sufferings overtake you, you have the עֲמִידָה (amidah), Standing Prayer. As is said, You are stationed here today all of you [before YHWH your God] (ibid. 29:9)….

Another interpretation: You are stationed here today—why the day sometimes darkens and sometimes lightens, so it is with you. Although you have darkness, the blessed Holy One is going to shine on you with everlasting light, as said, [No more shall the sun be your light by day, nor the moon’s radiance shine for you,] but YHWH shall be your everlasting light [and your God become your splendor] (Isaiah 60:19). When? When you all become a single אֲגֻדָּה (aguddah), band [or: faction, bunch, bundle], as said, [But you, the ones clinging to YHWH your God,] are all of you alive today (Deuteronomy 4:4). According to the way of the world, if a person takes aguddah, a bunch, of reeds, will he be able to break them in a single stroke? But if he takes them one by one, even a child can break them! And so you find that Israel was not redeemed until they became one bunch, as is said, [In those days and in that time, said YHWH, the Israelites and the Judahites shall come together, [weeping as they walk shall they go, and YHWH their God they shall seek] (Jeremiah 50:4)—when they are united they welcome the face of Shekhinah” (Tanuma, Nitsavim 1).

You shall not תִתְגֹּדְדוּ (titgodedu), gash yourselves (Deuteronomy 14:1)—do not form אֲגֻדּוֹת (aguddot), factions. Rather, be a single אֲגֻדָּה (aguddah), band. And, similarly, He says: He has founded אֲגֻדָּתוֹ (aguddato), His vault, upon earth (Amos 9:6)” (SifreDevarim 96).

“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… 

Inasmuch as you will not have served YHWH your God in joy and with a good heart out of an abundance of all things, you will serve your enemies whom YHWH will send against you in hunger and in thirst and in nakedness and in the lack of all things, and he will put an iron yoke on your neck until you are destroyed…

And YHWH will bring you back to Egypt in ships, on the way that I said to you, ‘You shall not see it again,’ and you will put yourselves up for sale there to your enemies as male slaves and slavegirls, and there will be no buyer” (Deuteronomy 28:15, 47–48, 68).

Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai fled to the wilderness of Lydda and hid in a cave—he and his son, Rabbi El’azar. A miracle occurred for them—a carob tree sprouted and a spring of water gushed forth. They ate from the carob tree and drank from the waters. Elijah, of blessed memory, visited them twice daily and taught them, without anyone knowing about it.

One day, the sages were in the beit midrash, questioning and debating: ‘The curses of Leviticus allude to the First Temple, while the curses of Deuteronomy allude to the Second Temple. The curses of Leviticus contain promises and the blessed Holy One’s affection for Israel, as is written: I will remember My covenant with Jacob (Leviticus 26:42), and Yet even this, too—when they are in the land of their enemies, [I will not reject them] (ibid., 44). The curses of Deuteronomy contain no promises nor any consolation at all such as are found in the first curses.’ And none of them could explain it.

Rabbi Yehudah son of Il’ai rose, saying, ‘Woe for the absence of Son of Yoḥai! No on knows his whereabouts; and even if they did, they could not divulge.’

Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Yehudah arose one morning and saw birds flying—a turtledove trailing them. He stood up, saying, ‘Turtledove! Faithful Turtledove! Since the days of the flood, the form of the holy people has suited you and graced you [because the dove is distinctive among birds in that it does not mate with another bird, should its mate disappear during the season, cf. BT Berakhot 53b]. Go, serve as my messenger to Son of Yoḥai, wherever he is.’ The dove circled around and came before him. He wrote a note, recording what he had said. The dove arose and took it in its mouth, traveling to Rabbi Shim’on, carrying it under her wing [cf. Zohar 1:11b].

Rabbi Shim’on looked at the note and cried—he along with his son Rabbi El’azar. He said, ‘I weep because of our separation from the Companions; and I weep regarding these matters that have not been revealed to them! What will later generations do when they consider this!

Just then, Elijah, of blessed memory, arrived. He saw him weeping, and said, ‘I was ready for a different mission, but the blessed Holy One dispatched me to dry your tears. Oh, Rabbi, Rabbi! Now was not the time to reveal these matters to the righteous, but here is what the blessed Holy One explained. The first curses contain thirty-two verses, all corresponding to the paths of Torah. The latter curses contain fifty-three verses, corresponding to the parashot and routes of the Torah. In the first exile, from the First Temple, Israel passed along those concealed, secret paths. Their sins were revealed and their end was revealed, along with consolation and promises for them. In the latter exile—after the Second Temple—the people of Israel transgressed against fifty-three portions, revealed paths. Their sins were concealed and their ends were concealed—neither promises nor consolation were written [cf. BT Yoma  9b].’

Just then, a wind gusted by, separating them, sweeping Elijah up in a wheel of fire. Rabbi Shim’on remained, weeping. He fell asleep at the opening of the cave. Suddenly Elijah, of blessed memory, came saying, ‘Arise, Rabbi Shim’on! Wake up from your slumber. Happy is your portion, for the blessed Holy One is concerned for your honor! All the promises and consolations of Israel are written in these curses.

Go, see how a king loves his son, and even though he curses and lashes him, his deep love endures. When he displays severe wrath, his compassion for him prevails. Similarly, with the blessed Holy One—even though He curses, His words come from love. In their revealed form they appear to be curses, but they are great boons, because the curses came from love. This contrasts with the first ones, which all derived from harsh judgment. In these there is judgment and love—like a father who loves his son while gripping in his hand a switch for flogging. The child shrieks mightily, creating a din; but the lashes are lessened with love [cf. BT Berakhot 5a].

Most severe of all these curses—What’s more, every illness and every plague that is not mentioned in this Scroll of Torah YHWH will hide from you, that would have caused you to be wiped out (Deuteronomy 28:61). Here are promises of great love from father to son! It is not written יַעֲלֶה (ya’aleh), will bring [upon you], but rather יַעְלֵם (ya’lem), will hide [from you]. He will subdue them and nullify them in a pit—their place—so that they cannot venture forth; rather, they will be subdued and covered in their pit.

Until you are wiped out (ibid.)—which will never, ever happen, for the blessed Holy One took an oath that He would never destroy Israel, and that their memory will endure forever. This is as is written: so shall your seed and your name stand (Isaiah 66:22), and As I live, if the heavens above could be measured… (Jeremiah 31:37). Since it has been sworn by oath that Israel will never, ever be wiped out, it is fitting that plagues and illnesses should be concealed and covered, never emerging to harm them to the extent of annihilation—that will never, ever happen.

The end and conclusion of them all is YHWH will bring you back to Egypt in ships, by a route that I told you, ‘You shall not see it again.’ There you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male slaves and slavegirls, but there will be no buyer (Deuteronomy 28:68)—promises and consolations that the blessed Holy One provides to Israel at the end of days! YHWH will bring you back to Egypt in ships—a promise to return them, and to perform miracles and signs that the blessed Holy One had enacted in Egypt in days of yore. This is as is said: As in the days of your coming out of the land of Egypt, I will show him wonders (Micah 7:15).

בָּאֳנִיּוֹת (Bo-oniyyot), In ships—but here its meaning is as you have said, expounding it as בַּעֲנִיּוּת (ba-aniyyut), in poverty, without a coin in one’s purse [cf. BT Sanhedrin 97a: ‘The (Messiah,) son of David, will not come until… the (last) coin has gone from the purse’]. Everyone in the world is poised to pounce upon Israel, aboard seafaring vessels, intending to annihilate them, but they will all drown in the sea just as was done in olden days, and joy abounded. Here it is written בָּאֳנִיּוֹת רִנָּתָם (bo-oniyyot rinnatam), raising their voice in ships (Isaiah 43:14)—just as joy is there, so is there joy here [cf. Ester Rabbah, Petiḥta 3].

By a route which I told you—since the day that the world was created the might of the blessed Holy One has not been seen in the world, nor the time of favor, other than on that route. For as you see the Egyptians today (Exodus 14:13)—on that same route, in that very manner, so shall He do for you.

Further, they will gather afterward from all sides against Israel, and the people of Israel will think then that they will be eliminated—sold to their foes—as is written: There you shall offer yourselves for sale. It is not written you shall be sold, but rather you shall offer yourselves for sale—in your hearts you will imagine that you have been sold. But this will not occur—it is written: none will buy. And there will be none who shall rule over them.

All this will occur at the end of days; and it is all dependent upon teshuvah. But it is all concealed, as is written: in order that you may prosper in all that you do (Deuteronomy 29:8)—one who has a heart should contemplate and will know to return to his Lord [on teshuvah as a prerequisite for redemption, see JT Ta’anit 1:1, 63d; BT Sanhedrin 97b; Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 43; Tanḥuma, Beḥuqqotai 3; Tanḥuma (Buber), Beḥuqqotai 5; Zohar 1:117b; 2:188b–189a; ZḤ 8a, 23c (both MhN)].

Rabbi Shim’on asked, ‘Where is Israel’s redemption revealed among these curses?’

Elijah replied, ‘Examine carefully and see the most horrific instance of them all—that is where it appears.’ He examined carefully, and found the verse Your life will dangle before you, and you will be terrified night and day and will have no faith in your life (Deuteronomy 28:66). Even though there are those who know that time, life dangles before them, and they are uncertain—even though this is the essence, and the words endure.

In the evening, Rabbi Shim’on wrote a note and placed it in the mouth of the turtledove, which journeyed back to Rabbi Yose—who had stayed put, his eyes expectant. Upon spotting [the dove], he said, ‘Turtledove, Turtledove, you are the most faithful bird in the skies!’ He proclaimed of it: the dove came back to him at eventide; and look, a plucked off olive leaf was in its bill (Genesis 8:11). He took the note and went to the Companions. He showed it to them, and they were astonished.

Rabbi Yehudah wept, saying, ‘Alas! Even though we do not know his whereabouts, the place where the tree falls, there it will be (Ecclesiastes 11:3) [cf. BT Bekhorot 57b; Eikhah Rabbah 1:37]. Where Son of Yoḥai is found, his companions are there with him, awakened by him, learning from him. Happy is the soul of Son of Yoḥai, for the blessed Holy One has performed miracles with him; he has decreed, and the blessed Holy One has fulfilled! [cf. BT Mo’ed Qatan 16b; Zohar 3:15a]. In the future, he will be the head of the righteous ones who sit in the Garden of Eden; he will receive the face of the Shekhinah and will see the blessed Holy One. Delighting with the righteous ones, he will call to them: Come, let us bow down kneel; let us bend the knee before YHWH our Maker (Psalms 95:6)” (Zohar Ḥadash 59c–60a).

Vitality of the World

Add. 27006

“Rabbi Me’ir said, ‘When a person is in distress, what expression does the Shekhinah say? As it were: My head is lighter, my arm is lighter [a euphemism for feeling heaviness and pain].’

If so for the Omnipresent in distress on account of the blood of the wicked when it is shed, how much more so on account of the blood of the righteous!” (M Sanhedrin 6:5).

“We learned in the primary compisition: ‘The Other Side prefers most of all that Judgment should overwhelm a righteous one—for then he does not care about the [debts owed him by the] whole world and ignores them’ (Zohar 3:218a) [cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 1a–b]. While [the Companions] were still discussing, a shade [the spirit of Rabbi Pinḥas son of Ya’ir] came upon them and asked: ‘How do we know? We know from Job. For the blessed Holy One, saw that generation was deserving of annihilation, and when the adversary came to denounce, the blessed Holy One said to him: Have you paid heed to My servant Job, for there is none like him on earth (Job 1:8) in order to save the whole generation through him. The matter can be likened to a shepherd when a wolf comes to devour his flock and destroy them. Being wise, what does the shepherd do? He gives the wolf a lamb that is stronger, fatter, and larger than the others, the leader of the flock, and the wolf, out of his desire to have control over the lamb, forgets about the rest of the flock. What does the shepherd do next? While the wolf is preoccupied with that lamb, he flees with the flock and brings them to safety. Later, he returns to the lamb and saves it from the wolf.

This is exactly what the blessed Holy One, did with the generation. He offered the righteous one for indictment in order to save the generation on his account. And if, like Jacob, he is strong, the verse says of him: and a man wrestled with him (Genesis 32:25). This is even more the case when he overcomes, until he says: Let me go (ibid., 27).’ He said: ‘O Shade! O Shade! It certainly must be so. Happy is the portion of that righteous man who is strong in suffering afflictions, and how much more so the one who, by means of his [afflictions], manages to overcome his denouncer who has his control over the whole generation, and it is accounted to him as though he had rescued them, and the blessed Holy One, appoints him as shepherd over them in place [of the adversary]. This was how the Faithful Shepherd [Moses] came to be the shepherd over Israel, and not only that, but he will lead them in the next world. And this was because he saved them that they should not be lost, for he guided them in Torah and mitsvot.’

While they were yet talking, the Faithful Shepherd himself came and said to them: ‘And why was the right arm afflicted? The way of all physicians is to draw blood initially from the right arm. Since the left arm is the one that is nearer the heart, why is blood not let from it [i.e., why is it that one righteous man is afflicted and not another (Sullam), cf. BT Mo’ed Qatan 28a]?’ He answered: ‘Because the blessed Holy One, does not wish overly to strike, and one suffices. But if the bile is serious and spreads throughout the members of the body, blood is drawn from the left arm [too].’

He said to him: ‘If the two of them were not [afflicted] at the same time, that would be fine, but what about the case of the two righteous men, one of whom suffers from diseases and troubles, while the other is treated with kindness? Why is it that if the bile spread, blood is not drawn from both of them who are the two arms, so that healing may be given to all members. And in the case where the bile does not become more serious, and does not spread throughout the members of the body, why is more blood let from the right arm than from the left?’ He said to him: ‘Why don’t you give the answer?’

‘Certainly the body and the two arms correspond to the three Patriarchs and the head to אָדָם קַדְמָאָה (adam qadma’ah), Primordial Man—the right arm corresponds to Abraham and the left arm corresponds to Isaac, the body corresponds to Jacob. Within the body, the liver is to the right, the spleen to the left—Esau and Ishmael. The heart is Jacob in the center. The lungs and kidneys correspond to Abraham and Isaac. Lungs—water—draw in all sorts of elixirs; kidneys—fire—cook the seed that descends from the brain.

And since Abraham [Ḥesed] is ‘water’ he places his children in the exile of Edom. This is why the liver and the gall that is in the liver are to the right of Abraham. [Edom’s] sword is the מְרֵרָה (mererah), gall, of which it is said: But in the end she’s as מָרָה (marah), bitter, as wormwood [sharp as a double-edged sword] (Proverbs 5:4) [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 20b]. And if the liabilities become greater in number among the children of Abraham, who are placed in the exile of Edom, and the מַרְעֵיהּ (mareih), bile, spreads over them from the side of the liver, they must be smitten and blood has to be drawn from the right arm. And ‘Whoever has his money taken is as though his blood was spilled’ (BT Bava Metsi’a 58b), for he remains poor, and a poor man is considered as dead [see BT Shabbat 129a–b; Gittin 70a. Cf. Zohar 3:227a (RM)].

But if the liabilities become greater in number among the children of Isaac they are exiled among Ishmael [see Zohar 2:17a (MhN)]. The bile spreads from the side of the spleen, on the left. And blood has to be drawn from the left arm, and not from any other.

And if liabilities become greater in number amongst the children of Jacob, who are scattered among the children of Esau and Ishmael, then the bile spreads over the body and blood has to be drawn from both arms [cf. Zohar 3:246a]. But if all three of them are afflicted as one, the bile then rises to the head and blood must be drawn from veins of the head. And these three became a chariot for Primordial Man and the Patriarchs, and acquire from them strength to suffer torments and protect the generation throughout the four directions of the world.

Woe to the generation that causes the Patriarchs and Primordial Man to be struck, for this includes also the righteous amongst them, for there is no difference between Primordial Man and the Righteous One and the Patriarchs and Primordial Man. This is because these are their נִשְׁמָתִין (nishmatin), souls, and their illnesses, pains, and sufferings reach the Patriarchs and Man. Just as when a number of rivers flow out from the Sea and return to Her murky and dirty, but the Sea removes their murkiness and dirtiness. And because of the Sea’s valor, for She is strong, She does not suffer from their filth, but expels it, and the rivers remain clear and pure, without that filth. Just as a mother cleans dirt from her little ones. Indeed, the Patriarchs remove the liabilities and the filth from their children, Israel, when there are people of righteous deeds among them who are strong enough to suffer torments for the sake of the generation [on the merit of the Patriarchs, see BT Shabbat 55a; BT Rosh ha-Shanah 11a. On the expending of an individual’s merits, see BT Shabbat 32a; Ta’anit 20b]. At that time there is no difference between them [namely, the righteous of the generation and the Patriarchs].’ They all came and greeted him [Moses the Faithful Shepherd] and said to him: ‘Sinai! Sinai! Through whose mouth the blessed Holy One and His Shekhinah speak. Who is able to challenge Him in anything? Happy is our portion that we have merited to renew matters in the primary compostion [of Zohar] through you, so that the Shekhinah may give light in exile.’

He said to them: ‘Rabbis of every generation, those who have been [or will be] during their time, and how much more so the Holy Lamp whose wisdom will shine in all the generations that come after him: do not give the blessed Holy One, quiet in Torah until the Holy Spirit is poured out on us.’ …

None but you [Moses, Faithful Shepherd,] may employ great מְטַטְרוֹן שַׂר הַפָּנִים (Metatron Sar ha-Panim), Metatron, Prince of the Countenance, since your name [מֹשֶׁה‎ (Moshe), Moses] is intimated in the initials of his.

And now there is need of a physician to know by how many degrees the pulse of the patient, Israel, has increased in the exile of Edom, for it is said of him I am in a fever of love (Song of Songs 5:8). For a number of physicians gathered over him to check the pulse in order to know when his illness would come to an end, but not one of them could understand them, for no physician is competent to read the pulse of this particular patient, for there are beats of Teqiah Shevarim Teru’ah Teqiah, Teqiah Shevarim Teqiah, Teqiah Teru’ah Teqiah, as the prophet said of them: Like a woman with child, that draws near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and cries out in her pangs (Isaiah 26:17).

And all the ten shofar blasts are included in three תְּקִיעָה שְׁבָרִים תְּרוּעָה (Teqiah Shevarim Teru’ah). תְּקִיעָה (Teqiah)—the length of the exile. שְׁבָרִים (Shevarim), Moaning—the proximity of the exile. תְּרוּעָה (Teru’ah), Wailing Alarm—the coming redemption; teaching of the duress after duress with no respite between them [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 33b–34a]. And clearly, since the other nations make Israel’s exile more difficult, it is the duress that they exert that brings redemption closer. And so too in our case of the patient’s pulse: beats come faster, one after the other, with no space between them, and the man’s נַפְשָׁא (nafsha), soul [or: breath], leaves him.

קשר״ק קש״ק קר״ק (Teqiah Shevarim Teru’ah, Teqiah Teqiah Shevarim, Teqiah Teqiah Teru’ah, Teqiah)—קֶשֶׁר (qesher), conspiracy, to remove שֶׁקֶר (sheqer), falsehood, from the world [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 16b]. Concerning this was the oath: מִלְחָמָה לַיהוָה בַּעֲמָלֵק (milḥamah la-Adonai ba-Amaleq), War for YHWH against Amalek for all time [the intial letters of which are numerically equivalent to ע״ב (seventy-two), cf. TZ 67a; TZḤ 115a] (Exodus 17:16). A simple, double, triple and quadruple song will arise in the world, where the letters [יהוה (YHWH)] will ascend: י יה יהו יהוה (Y YH YHW YHWH) [numerically equivalent to seventy-two, cf. Ibn Ezra on Genesis 4:19]. At that time [the prayer] will be answered: ‘וּבְכֵן (U-vekhen), and therefore, the righteous shall see and be glad, the upright exult and the pious rejoice in song’ (Amidah for the Days of Awe). This additional ו״ (six) [of ‘וּבְכֵן (U-vekhen)’ alludes to]the Sixth Millennium. The Second Temple was destroyed קע״ב (one hundred and seventy-two) years before [the Sixth Millennium]. And following the completion of רע״ב (two hundred and seventy-two), as in the verse, At עֶרֶב (erev), evening, you shall know that it was YHWH who brought you out [of the land of Egypt] (Exodus 16.6). Also, For your servant became עָרַב (arev), pledge, for the lad (Genesis 44:32) [‘you should know that all these dates mentioned in the Zohar refer to an arousal from above, which occur at these times for redemption, however, certainly it depends on the people’s actions and repentance’ (Sullam)]” (Zohar 3:219a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“צוּר עוֹלָמִים (Tsur olamim), Everlasting Rock (Isaiah 26:4), חַי הָעוֹלָם (Ḥai ha-olam), Vitality of the World (Daniel 12:7), יוֹצֵר בְּרֵאשִׁית (yotser bereshit), Fashioner of the Beginning, Reviver of the Dead, who is our life and our sustained existence, our merit, our help, and our drawing near, to praise Your name. Blessed are You Lord, God of praises” (JT Berakhot 1:5, 10b).

Better a Thing’s End than Its Beginning

IMG_0957Each act of YHWH has its own end; even the wicked for an evil day (Proverbs 16:4).

“There is no evil that does not contain some good… there is nothing evil in its proper place” (Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, Sod Sha’atnez, 278 [Gottlieb]).

“[Son of Azzai] used to say: Do not scorn any person and do not disdain anything; for there is no person who does not have his hour, and there is no thing that does not have its place” (M Avot 4:3).

And the gain of the land is in everything (Ecclesiastes 5:8). Rabbi Yehudah said: [Even] obscure things which you see are a benefit in the world, [indeed] they are needed for the world’s existence” (Qohelet Rabbah on 5:8).

“Once Rabbi El’azar was walking on the way, accompanied by Rabbi Ḥizkiyah. They saw a snake, and Rabbi Ḥizkiyah was about to kill it. Rabbi El’azar said to him, ‘Leave it alone, don’t kill it!’ He replied, but it’s an evil thing that kills people.’ He said to him, ‘Ḥizkiyah, look at what is written: Does the snake bite without a whisper? (Ecclesiastes 10:11). A snake does not bite a person until it is whispered to from above and told, Go and kill so-and-so!

And sometimes, just as it does this, so it saves a person from other things, and thereby the blessed Holy One generates a miracle for people. All is in the hands of the blessed Holy One, and all is the work of His hands, needed by the world. If the world did not need them, the blessed Holy One would not have created them. Therefore, one must not disdain anything in the world or the acts of the blessed Holy One’” (Zohar 2:68b, cf. Mekhilta Beshallaḥ 1; BT Shabbat 121b; Berakhot 33a).

“Rabbi Shim’on was walking on the way, accompanied by Rabbi El’azar, Rabbi Abba, Rabbi Yehudah, Rabbi Ḥiyya, and Rabbi Yose. They came to a certain obstructive watercourse [of the sort which people make in their fields (Sullam), see BT Bava Batra 54a], and Rabbi Yose slipped into the water fully clothed. He said, ‘This construction of measured water—I wish that it didn’t exist!’ Rabbi Shim’on said to him, ‘You are forbidden! This serves the world, and one must not treat contemptuously those who are of service to the blessed Holy One, especially since they are fashioned genuinely [i.e., this has a corresponding root above (Sullam)].

He opened, saying, ‘God saw all He had made, and look, it was very good (Genesis 1:31)—existing according to the laws of supernal authority. God saw all that He had made—without qualification: even snakes, scorpions, and mosquitoes, and even that which seems to harm the world. Concerning all of them, it is written and look, it was very good. All of them serve the world, conduct the world, though people do not know [cf. Shemot Rabbah 10:1].’

As they were walking along, they saw a snake leading the way. Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Surely, this one is about to perform a miracle for us!’ That snake slithered quickly in front of them and tangled with a viper diametrically across the road. They fought one another and died. When they reached them, they saw them both lying on the road. Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Blessed is the Compassionate One who has performed a miracle for us! For if anyone looks at this [viper] while it is alive, or is looked upon by it, he is doomed, all the more so if he approaches it.’ He proclaimed over himself, ‘No evil will befall you, nor affliction draw near your tent. For His angels He will command for you, to guard you on all your ways (Psalms 91:10–11). By all things the blessed Holy One fulfills His commission, and we must not treat contemptuously anything He has made. Thus it is written YHWH is good to all, and His compassion is over all His creatures, and similarly: All your creatures, YHWH, acclaim You (ibid. 145:9–10)’ [cf. BT Shabbat 121b: ‘Our Rabbis taught: If one chances upon snakes and scorpions, and he kills them, it is manifest that he had chanced upon them in order to kill them; if he does not kill them, it is manifest that he had chanced upon them that they should kill him, but that a miracle was performed by Heaven on his behalf. ‘Ulla said:—others state, Rabbah son of Son of Hanah said in Rabbi Yoḥanan’s name—That is when they hiss at him’]” (Zohar 3:107a).

“It is related of Naḥum of Gamzu that he was blind in both his eyes, his two hands and legs were amputated—and his whole body was covered with boils and he was lying in a dilapidated house on a bed the feet of which were standing in bowls of water in order to prevent the ants from crawling on to him.

On one occasion his disciples desired to remove the bed and then clear the things out of the house, but he said to them, My children, first clear out the things [from the house] and then remove my bed for I am confident that so long as I am in the house it will not collapse. They first cleared out the things and then they removed his bed and the house [immediately] collapsed. Thereupon his disciples said to him, Rabbi, since you are wholly righteous, why has all this befallen you? And he replied, I have brought it all upon myself. Once I was journeying on the road and was making for the house of my father-in-law and I had with me three donkeys, one laden with food, one with drink and one with all kinds of delicacies, when a poor man met me and stopped me on the road and said to me, Rabbi, give me something to eat. I replied to him, Wait until I have unloaded something from the donkey; I had hardly managed to unload something from the donkey when the man died [from hunger]. I then went and laid myself on him and exclaimed, May my eyes which had no pity upon your eyes become blind, may my hands which had no pity upon your hands be cut off, may my legs which had no pity upon your legs be amputated, and my mind was not at rest until I added, may my whole body be covered with boils.

Thereupon his disciples exclaimed, ‘Alas! that we see you in such a sore plight.’ To this he replied, ‘Woe would it be to me did you not see me in such a sore plight’ [cf. BT Shabbat 33b: (Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai said:) If you did not see me in such a state you would not find me thus (learned)]. Why was he called Naḥum of Gamzu? Because whatever befell him he would declare, גַם זוֹ לְטוֹבַה (gam zo le-tovah), ‘This also is for the best.’

Once the Jews desired to send to the Emperor a gift and after discussing who should go they decided that Naḥum of Gamzu should go because he had experienced many miracles. They sent with him a bagful of precious stones and pearls. He went and spent the night in a certain inn and during the night the people in the inn arose and emptied the bag and filled it up with earth. When he discovered this next morning he exclaimed, This also is for the best. When he arrived at his destination and they undid his bag they found that it was full of earth. The king thereupon desired to put them to death saying, The Jews are mocking me. Naḥum then exclaimed, This also is for the best.

Whereupon Elijah appeared in the guise of one of them and remarked, Perhaps this is some of the earth of their father Abraham, and when [he threw] stubble it changed into arrows, for it is written, [Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his feet, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? He gave them as the dust to] his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow (Isaiah 41:2). Now there was one province which [the emperor had hitherto] not been able to conquer but when they tried some of this earth [against it] they were able to conquer it. Then they took him [Naḥum] to the royal treasury and filled his bag with precious stones and pearls and sent him back with great honour. When on his return journey he again spent the night in the same inn he was asked, What did you take [to the king] that they showed you such great honour? He replied, I brought there what I had taken from here. [The innkeepers] thereupon razed the inn to the ground and took of the earth to the king and they said to him, The earth that was brought to you belonged to us. They tested it and it was not found to be [effective] and the innkeepers were thereupon put to death” (BT Ta’anit 21a, cf. Rabbi Menaḥem Azariyah de Fano, Gilgulie Neshamot, 95).

Better a things end than its beginning (Ecclesiastes 7:8).

“Rabbi Akiva walked down the road of a village. He asked for a place to stay, but none was offered. He said, ‘All that the Merciful does is for the best.’ He went and slept in a field in which there was a rooster, wine, and a lamp. A wind came and blew out the lamp, a cat came and ate the rooster and a lion came and drank the wine. He said, ‘All that the Merciful does is for the best.’ That night an army came and took the town captive. Rabbi Akiva said, ‘Didn’t I tell you that all that the blessed Holy One does is for the best!’” (BT Berakhot 60b).

“This is the sin of the primordial serpent: he joined below and it separated above. So he caused what he caused to the world. For one should separate below and join above… one should realize that יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (YHWH Elohim) is entirely one, indivisible. יְהוָה (YHWH) is הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim). Once one realizes all is one and does not impose division, even that Other Side will disappear from the world, not be drawn below” (Zohar 1:12b, cf. Guide of the Perplexed 3:10: “The true reality of the act of God in its entirety is good”).

Those Who Fear Sin are Treated like Dogs

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In the footsteps of Messiah impudence will swell; prices will surge; the vine will give its fruit but wine will be costly [or: scarce]; the kingdom will turn to sectarianism; and there will be no rebuke. The meeting place [of the Sages] will become a whorehouse; the Galilee will be destroyed; the highland will be desolate; the border people will wander from city to city and none will show them mercy; the wisdom of scribes will stink; sin‑fearing people will be detested; truth will be missing; young men will humiliate the elderly; the elderly will stand while the young sit; the son reviles the father, the daughter rises against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies are the people of his household (Micah 7:6); The face of the generation is like the face of a dog; sons have no shame in front of their fathers; and on what can one depend? Our Father in Heaven” (M Sotah 9:15; BT Sotah 49b, cf. Plato, The Republic 562b).

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of YHWH (Malachi 4:5).

“Elijah, rise and begin speaking with me about the decrees, since you are my help in everything. About you it was first said, Phinehas son of El’azar son of Aaron the priest (Numbers 25:11). Son of Aaron assuredly is his brother, as [At all times a companion is loving], and a brother was born for [the hour of] trouble (Proverbs 17:17).

He opened saying, It is a decree to discuss the laws of a suspected wife, as is written: Then a spirit of jealousy may come over him and he will be jealous (Numbers 5:14). Surely, a spirit of uncleanness exists on both sides, one false and one true. Therefore, in the spirit of falseness, he will be jealous about his wife, she not being defiled (ibid.), and the second: Then a spirit of jealousy may come over him… with her being defiled (ibid.).

Could there possibly be any truth in a spirit of uncleanness? It is because in a man, who stems from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, there exists the evil impulse, the serpent. When a man has a beautiful wife in all her good deeds, it is said, A virtuous woman is a crown for her husband (Proverbs 12:4). The evil impulse is jealous, as we have found it was jealous of Adam because of his wife, so it seduced her and caused her to die. Sometimes it dominates her through sins and defiles her, and she becomes a carcass.

The evil impulse on its right side, is the rank of Ishmael and is called serpent. From the left side, which is the rank of Esau, who is Samael, it is called dog. Appointed over Hell it barks הַב הַב (hav hav), as is written: The leech has two daughters, הַב הַב (hav hav), ‘give’ and ‘give’ (ibid. 30:15) [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 17a, ad loc.]. It wants to burn the soul made unclean with its fire in Hell. That is what is meant by: Then a spirit of jealousy may come over him and he will be jealous—truthfully; with her being defiled [on the dog Cerberus, see ZḤ 75b (MhN, Rut); Qeta Lo Yaru’a 83; TZ 12a; Idel, Absorbing Perfections p. 307].

And for her, it was said, should a priest’s daughter… (Leviticus 21:9)—Michael. When she degrades herself whoring, she has degraded her father, in fire shall she be burned (ibid.). There the filth is destroyed and she purifies herself of it, just as silver that purifies in fire and lead, which is the refuse, is burnt, becomes ash and is lost.

It is the same with the children of Israel. When they desecrate Torah, the blessed Holy One sends them into exile among the children of Esau and the children of Ishmael under their servitude, whose rank is of dog and serpent, and they are punished there. Through them, they become cleared and purified and refined like the refinement of silver and the trying of gold. This is what is said: And I will refine them as silver is refined, and will test them as gold is tested (Zechariah 13:9), until it will hold true of them: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18).

It is written of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: And YHWH showed him a tree, and he flung it into the water, and the water turned sweet (Exodus 15:25). Since the children of Israel were with the motley throng [or: mixed multitude], they were all of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Therefore, it is half sweet from the right and half bitter from the left. When the motley throng caused the children of Israel to transgress, it was as if all were on the side of evil. Consequently, the waters returned to their bitter state like the tree in the water. This is what is meant by and they came to Marah, and could not drink water from Marah, for it was bitter (Exodus 15:23). The bitter tree was similar to the test of a סוֹטָה (sotah), suspected wife [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 44a]. If she indeed strayed from her husband, the waters which she was made to drink turned bitter, and because of them her belly will swell, and her thigh sag (Numbers 5:27). If she did not stray, it is written: she will be cleared, and sown with seed (ibid., 28), and give birth to a son. Here too, the waters were made sweet.

In the same manner, Israel will be tested in the final redemption. Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white (Daniel 12:10)—those who are from the good side and who pass the test. But the wicked shall do wickedly (ibid.)—because they are from the Other Side and by them shall be fulfilled: Neither shall they enter into the Land of Israel (Ezekiel 13:9), and he kills them.

But the wise shall understand (Daniel 12:10), since they are from the aspect of בִּינָה (binah), Understanding, which is the Tree of Life. For them, it was said, they who are wise shall shine like the זֹהַר (zohar), brightness, in the firmament (ibid., 3), with your composition [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai] which is The Book of Zohar, from the light of supernal Mother, Repentance [Binah]. They do not require a test, and because the children of Israel in the future will taste from the Tree of Life, סֵפֶר הַזֹּהַר (sefer ha-zohar), The Book of Radiance, they will leave the exile with Compassion [Tif’eret]. It will hold true about them: YHWH alone did lead him, no alien god by His side (Deuteronomy 32:12).

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, prohibition or permission, purity or impurity, will no longer apply to the children of Israel, since our sustenance will be solely from the aspect of the Tree of Life, where there are no contradictions stemming from the Other Side [cf. Sefer ha-Temunah 3, 61b], nor any strife nor difference stemming from the unclean spirit, as is written: And also I will cause… the unclean spirit to pass out of the land (Zechariah 13:2).

Disciples of the Sages will not need to be sustained by the ignorant, just from the good side by eating of the clean, kosher and permissible. They will not need to get it from the motley throng, who eat the unclean, unfit and prohibited, and who are themselves defiled by defiling themselves with a menstruate, a slavegirl, a gentile woman, or a whore. They are the children of Lilit, who is a menstruate, a slavegirl, a gentile woman, and a whore, and they return to their roots. About them, it is written: For out of the serpent’s root shall come forth an adder (Isaiah 14:29).

During the period that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil dominates, which pertains to the purity and impurity of worldly things, these sages are like the Sabbath which has nothing except what was prepared for it during the weekdays.

During the time that the Tree of Life dominates, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is subdued. Commoners will not have anything except for what disciples of the Sages hand out to them and they will become subdued like never before.

Thus, prohibition and permission, purity and impurity will not pass away from the commoners. From their aspect, there will be no apparent difference between the exile and the days of Messiah, except for the oppression of Israel by other kingdoms alone [cf. BT Berakhot 34b], because they will not taste from the Tree of Life and they will have to learn [Mishnah] about what is prohibited and permissible, what is unclean and clean. They will be shamed in front of scholars like darkness before light, since the motley throng are like beasts, who are ignorant, who are darkness and were not even called Israel, just slaves sold to Israel, as was already explained.

[Only] Israel are called human [see BT Bava Metsi’a 114b]. How do we know that they are composed of both beast and human? It is written: And you My flock, the flock of My pasture, are human (Ezekiel 34:31). And you My flock, the flock of My pasture—those who are ignorant of Torah but are good and stem from the good side. Are human—disciples of the Sages [cf. Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag, Panim Meirot u-MasbirotHaqdamah, 3: ‘Mineral, vegetable, animal, human, corresponding to the masses, the affluent, heroes, and sages.’ On Israel being composed of both beast and human, see BT Sotah 22a on Jeremiah 31:27].

It is also alluded to in, If My people would but heed Me, if Israel would go in My ways (Psalms 81:14). After mentioning My people, why say Israel? Because My people refers to commoners and Israel to scholars, disciples of the Sages. For them, it is mentioned: The sons of Israel going out with a high hand (Exodus 14:8).

As the blessed Holy One divided them at Mount Sinai, so He will differentiate them at the final redemption, because it says of Israel: And the sons of Israel went up armed from the land of Egypt (Exodus 13:18). חֲמֻשִׁים (amushim), armed—from the aspect of the Tree of Life which is חֲמִישִׁים (ḥamishim), fifty, years of Jubilee [Binah]. Of them, it says, Whosoever touches the mountain (Exodus 19:13); And the messenger of God that was going before the camp of Israel moved and went behind them (Exodus 14:19); I bore you on the wings of eagles (Exodus 19:4)—clouds of glory, and brought you to Me (ibid.). The sons of Israel going out with a high hand (Exodus 14:8)—so He will bring out disciples of the Sages with all that honor.

It is said of those who are ignorant of Torah yet are of the good side: And they stationed themselves under the mountain (Exodus 19:17)—so will they be at the final redemption, under scholars, like a servant that follows along the footsteps of his master’s horse. Just as it was called out to them under the mountain: ‘If you accept Torah, it is better, but if not, there will be your burial place’ (BT Shabbat 88a), so He will tell them at the final redemption, ‘If you will accept upon yourselves the scholars, disciples of the Sages during the redemption from the exile, like a horse rider with his servant, it is best, and if not, there in exile shall be your burial.’

The motley throng are as is written of them: And the people saw and they drew back and stood at a distance (Exodus 20:18). They will be far from the redemption and they will watch the disciples of the Sages and the holy nation in all this glory, but they will be far from them. If they wish to join with them, it is written: No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or be shot (Exodus 19:13). During that period, it will be fulfilled for Israel: YHWH alone did lead him, no alien god by His side (Deuteronomy 32:12). It was already explained that no new converts will be accepted during the days of Messiah [see BT Yevamot 24b]. [The steps of His faithful He watches,] and the wicked in darkness turn dumb (1 Samuel 2:9)—the motley throng. Therefore, the prophet proclaimed about them: Neither shall they enter into the land of Israel (Ezekiel 13:9).

Elijah said: Faithful Shepherd [Moses], it is time to rise up. Intone a solemn oath. For your sake, I wish to rise, since the blessed Holy One gave me permission to reveal myself to you in your prison, in your place of burial, and do you good because you are desecrated through the sins of the people, and this is the meaning of: But he was pierced for our sins (Isaiah 53:5).

The Faithful Shepherd [Moses] said to him: I intone on you solemnly the name of YHWH that you will do your utmost not to delay since I am in great distress: And he turned this way and that and saw that there was no man about (Exodus 2:12)—to help me, to take me out of this distress, from this grave, since it says about me, And he made his grave with the wicked (Isaiah 53:9). They do not recognize me but regard me as one of the evil motley throng, like a dead dog that has caused a stench among them. The wisdom of the scribes will stink among them in each and every city [see BT Sotah 49b], and in all places where Israel are scattered throughout their kingdoms. The motley throng become the shepherds of Israel, who are the flock of the blessed Holy One, as is said of them: And you My flock, the flock of My pasture, are human, [and I am your God, says YHWH God] (Ezekiel 34:31). And they have no ability to do good with the disciples of the Sages.

Courageous and sin-fearing men go about from one city to another and find no grace, and the motley throng excommunicate them from among them. In many places, they are only given a meager sum so they are unable to rise from their fall, even temporarily. All the Sages, able men and those who fear sin in distress and gloom, are treated like dogs [see BT Sotah 49b, cf. Isaiah 3:5: the child shall behave insolently against the aged, and the base against the honorable]. The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter! (Lamentations 4:2), in the streets, unable to find accommodation among them. Meanwhile the motley throng are wealthy, live in peace, in happiness, without pain, without any sorrow, robbers, bribe takers, who are the judges, the elite of their people, for the earth is filled with outrage by them (Genesis 6:13) [cf. BT Pesaḥim 50a]. About them, it is written: Her adversaries have become the chief (Lamentations 1:5). [The Faithful Shepherd, Moses, said to Elijah:] With a solemn oath on you, the second time, upon the life, and name, of YHWH of Armies, the God of Israel, who is enthroned upon the cherubs, that all these words will not fail from your mouth; with all your might, tell them before the blessed Holy One to show their distress” (Zohar 3:124b–25b, Ra’aya Meheimna Naso).

One does not Know the Taste of Sweet until He Tastes Bitter

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“It is written of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: And YHWH showed him a tree, and he flung it into the water, and the water turned sweet (Exodus 15:25). Since the children of Israel were with the mixed multitude, they were of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Therefore, it is half sweet from the right and half bitter from the left. When the mixed multitude caused the children of Israel to sin, it was as if all were on the Other Side. Consequently, the waters returned to their bitter state like the tree in the water. This is what is meant by and they came to Marah, and could not drink water from Marah, for it was bitter (ibid., 23). The bitter tree was similar to the test of a סוֹטָה (sotah), suspected wife. If she indeed strayed from her husband, the waters which she was made to drink turned bitter, and because of them her belly will swell, and her thigh sag (Numbers 5:27). If she did not stray, it is written she will be cleared, and sown with seed (ibid., 28), and give birth to a son. Here too, the waters were made sweet….

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, forbidden and permitted, pure and impure, will no longer apply to the children of Israel, since our sustenance will be solely from the side of the Tree of Life, where there are no contradictions stemming from the Other Side, nor any strife nor difference stemming from the unclean spirit, as is written And also I will cause… the unclean spirit to pass out of the land (Zechariah 13:2)” (Zohar 3:125a, Ra’aya Meheimna Naso).

“It has been taught: It is incumbent upon a person who studies wisdom to study some foolishness and now it, because thereby wisdom derives benefit—just as light derives some benefit from darkness, for were it not for darkness, light would not be recognized and the world would gain no benefit from it…. This may be compared to sweet with bitter, for a person does not know the taste of sweet until he tastes bitter. What makes this sweet? You must admit, bitter. This corresponds to what is written: One against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14)” (Zohar 3:47b, cf. Ecclesiastes 2:13).

“Why are large [bitter] almonds fit for [tithing]? Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Because one can sweeten them in the fire!” (BT Ḥullin 25b).

Wise & Foolish

Matejko_Stańczyk

“Rabbi Giddal said in Rav’s name: Any disciple of the wise who sits before his Rav and his lips do not drip bitterness [from dread (Rashi)] they shall be burnt, as is said, his lips are lilies dripping myrrh (Song of Songs 5:13). Do not read מוֹר עֹבֵר (mor over), dripping myrrh, but rather מַר עֹבֵר (mar over), dripping bitterness; do not read שׁוֹשַׁנִּים (shoshanim), lillies, but rather שֶׁשּׁוֹנִים (she-shonim), that repeat [i.e., the lips of those who repeat drip bitterness]? There is no difficulty: This [applies] to a Rav, and that to a disciple. And if you wish, say both refer to a Rav, yet there is no difficulty: The one [means] before he starts; the other, after he starts. Like Rabbah, who before he opened [his lesson] for the Rabbis used to say something humorous and the Rabbis were amused. After that he sat in dread and opened with the import [of his lesson]” (BT Shabbat 30b).

“It has been taught: It is incumbent upon a person who studies wisdom to study some foolishness and know it, because thereby wisdom derives benefitjust as light derives some benefit from darkness, for were it not for darkness, light would not be recognized and the world would gain no benefit from it…. This may be compared to sweet with bitter, for a person does not know the taste of sweet until he tastes bitter. What makes this sweet? You must admit, bitter. This corresponds to what is written: One against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14)” (Zohar 3:47b).

“There is no worship of the blessed Holy One except from darkness [i.e., doubt], and there is no good except from evil” (Zohar 2:184a).