The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: black

Dark and Desirable

66And Miriam, and Aaron with her, spoke against Moses concerning the Cushite wife he had taken, for he had taken a Cushite wife (Numbers 12:1).

“Moses’ wife was called the Cushite, because of her beauty, as a man would call his handsome son ‘Cushite’ to negate the power of the evil eye [כֻּשִׁית (Cushit), Cushite, and יְפַת מַרְאֶה (yefat mar’eh), beautiful in appearance (Genesis 29:17) are numerically equivalent (Rashi). On employing a euphemism with regard to one’s wife, cf. Genesis 20:2: And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, ‘She is my sister’]” (TanḥumaTsav, 13, cf. Midrash Tehillim 7:18).

“This is customary: a black person may be called white, employing a euphemism; and sometimes white is called black, as is written: for he had taken a Cushite wife (Numbers 12:1); Are you not as children of the Cushites to Me, [O children of Israel? says YHWH] (Amos 9:7)” (Zohar 2:130a).

And Miriam, and Aaron with her, spoke against Moses concerning the Cushite wife he had taken, for he had taken a Cushite wife (Numbers 12:1). Was she a Cushite? Was not her name Zipporah? But as a Cushite woman is distinguishable by her skin so was also Zipporah distinguished by her deeds. In like manner you explain: Now Ebed-Melek the Cushite… heard (Jeremiah 39:16). Now was his name Cushite? Was not his name Zedekiah? But as the Cushite is distinguishable by his skin so was Zedekiah distinguished by his deeds. In like manner you explain: Are you not as children of the Cushites to Me? (Amos 9:7). Now is their name [children of] Cushites? Was not their name [children of] Israel? The truth is that as the Cushite is distinguishable by his skin, so are Israel distinguished by their ways from all other nations” (BT Mo’ed Qatan 16b).

I am dark but desirable, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like Solomon’s curtains. Do not look on me for being dark [as a peasant], for the sun has glared on me (Song of Songs 1:5–6).

I am dark but desirable (Song of Songs 1:5), the speculum that does not shine [Shekhinah], but Father and Mother adorned Her so that Her husband [Tif’eret] be pleased with Her” (Zohar 1:49b).

“Your joy shall be like His joy when He will come to redeem the Shekhinah, and He like a bride groom from His canopy comes (Psalms 19:6). For Her garments in exile are dark, and when She wears them She says, Do not look on me for being dark (Song of Songs 1:6)” (Zohar 3:279b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

Through these Three Adam Attained a Change of Name, a Change of Place, and a Change of Deed

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Four things tear up a person’s verdict: charity, crying out, a change of name, and change of deeds. צְדָקָה (Tsedaqah), charity, as is written, But צְדָקָה (tsedaqah), righteousness, saves from death (Proverbs 10:2). Crying out, as is written, And they cry to YHWH from their straits from their distress He brings them out. [He turns the storm into silence, and its waves are stilled, and they rejoice that these have grown quiet, and He leads them to the realm of their desire] (Psalms 107:28). Change of name, as is written, Sarai your wife shall no longer call her name Sarai, for Sarah is her name (Genesis 17:15); and it continues, And I will bless her and I will also give you from her a son (ibid., 16). Change of deeds, as is written, And God saw their acts, that they had turned back from their evil way, and God relented from the evil that He said to do to them, and he did not do it (Jonah 3:10). And some say a change of place, as is written, And YHWH said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your land [and your birthplace and your father’s house to the land I will show you] (Genesis 12:1), and afterwards, And I will make you a great nation [and I will bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing] (ibid., 2). And the other [namely, Rabbi Yitsḥaq, why does he not include this]?—in that case it was the merit of the Land of Israel which helped him” (BT Rosh ha-Shanah 16b).

And you shall hold them in estate for your children after you to inherit a holding forever (Leviticus 25:46). It is a command to have a Canaanite slave as a servant, as is written: A holding forever. They come from the side of Ham, who uncovered nakedness [of Noah], of whom it says, Cursed be Canaan, the lowliest slave shall he be to his brothers (Genesis 9:25). Why the lowliest slave? Because he is a slave to a slave עוֹלָם (olam), forever, which is the עוֹלָם (olam), world, of Jubilee [even at the Jubilee he will not be set free like other slaves]. It may be said that as he is a brother to Shem and Japheth, why should he not be like them? Also, seeing Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, was the descendant of Ham, why was he not like him but instead righteous? [Because] the blessed Holy One approved of the blessing Laban gave him [see Genesis 24:31].

Surely this pertains to the mystery גִלְגּוּלָא (gilggula), rolling: ‘Who גּוֹלֵל (golel), rolls away, light from before darkness’ (Evening Service)—Abraham’s servant who came out of darkness, the issue of Ham. It suffices for the servant to be like his master, Abraham, who came from Terah the idol worshiper! ‘And darkness from before the light’ (ibid.)—Ishmael who came out from Abraham, and Esau from Isaac.

The mystery is that this is caused by the mixture of drops in a place it does not belong. This is he who mingles his drop with a maid, Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael or a daughter of a strange god who are evil and darkness, while his drop is goodness and light [in the secret of the verse:] And God saw the light, that it was good (Genesis 1:4). He who mingles good with evil transgresses the words of his Master, who said, but from the tree of knowledge, good and evil, you shall not eat (Genesis 2:17).

The blessed Holy One rolls that which the man mingled together with him so as to receive punishment. If he repents, learns Torah and separates good from evil, forbidden from permitted, impure from pure, unfit from fit, that evil is separated from good, it says of him ‘A creation for good and a creation for evil’ [cf. BT Berakhot 61a: ‘וַיִּיצֶר (va-yetser), and formed (Genesis 2:7)—spelled with two letters י (yod) to show that God created two impulses, one good and the other evil’]. And through Torah he separates them, and the blessed Holy One bequeaths him a נִשְׁמְתָא (nishmata), soul, from Him, so he will rule them both, the one which is light, the World that is Coming, and the other, which is darkness, this world. Hence, it is written: And blew into his nostrils the נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (ayyim nishmat), breath of life (Genesis 2:7).

According to his merits and liabilities. As we have explained, ‘He who does one mitsvah is treated well. He who is average, is a person whose merits and liabilities are balanced, the half of merits is below and the half of liabilities below’ [see BT Qiddushin 40b; Sotah 3b]. This is the secret of What is your petition? and it shall be granted you, and what is your request? Up to half the kingdom, and it will be done! (Esther 5:6). In the case of a completely righteous man, all his merits are above and his liabilities below. For a completely evil man, his liabilities are above and his merits are down below.

The man who sins in public is of two grades. If he does penance in public [then he is seated] among the righteous [of that world], who are familiar with the laws of the blessed Holy One and refrain from sinning; [if] secretly [then] among the wicked men [who envy him his repentance] so that the eyes of the wicked will pine (Job 11:20) is fulfilled.

Adam’s sin was therefore against, And YHWH God commanded (Genesis 2:16)—we explained commanded referrers to idolatry since he sinned in idolatry. He formed him in תֶרַח (Teraḥ), Terah’s, drop of semen, in which he [the soul of Adam] רָתַח (rataḥ), enraged, the blessed Holy One by transgressing in idolatry. He did penance and smashed the images of idols and all the victuals. He mended the sins and smashed the sin and the evil structure he built. And he made the blessed Holy One and His Shekhinah rule over the whole world.

By sanctifying His Name in public, and by going into the fire to be burned, so that the words would be fulfilled the images of their gods you shall burn in fire (Deuteronomy 7:25). Furthermore, he caused his father, Terah, to repent and brought him, his mother, and all the rulers of that age to the Garden of Eden [cf. Zohar 1:77b]. He was thus purified as silver by fire [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 38:13: ‘When Abraham descended into the fiery furnace (of Nimrod he) was saved’], like the king’s coin forged with a mixture of lead. He was therefore put in fire, and the lead came out, which is Ishmael. Ishmael therefore was mocking and worshipped idols, while Adam remained purified by fire. This is the change of name. For when Adam was rolled he had to undergo a change of name, change of place, and change of deed.

Then came Isaac, and he became stronger through him, the second transgression of which it says, the human (Genesis 2:16), which refers to bloodshed. This brought the trial of Isaac by the cleaver [see Genesis 22:10]. He was cleansed by him, as food is picked from refuse. And the dross came out, which is Esau who sheds blood.

Then came Jacob who formed it to Laban and became his servant. Hence it says, I will serve seven years for Rachel your younger daughter (Genesis 29:18). Since he exchanged her with her sister, he served an additional seven years, in order to remove the two drops Adam spilt in a foreign place [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 20:11: ‘Throughout the entire one hundred and thirty years during which Adam held aloof from Eve the male demons were made ardent by her and she bore, while the female demons (Lilit and Naamah) were inflamed by Adam and they bore, as is written, so should he do wrong, I will chastise him with the rod men use and with the afflictions of humankind (2 Samuel 7:14)—Adam, which means, the children of the first man’]. This is incest, alluded to by saying, [‘From every fruit of the garden you may surely eat. But from the tree of knowledge, good and evil, you shall not eat, for on the day you eat from it, you are doomed to die’] (Genesis 2:16). He took them out of Laban the Aramean, the serpent.

Through these three Adam attained a change of name, a change of place, and a change of deed [the Patriarchs repaired the three cardinal sins: idolatry, murder, and sexual immorality]. He obtained a change of name through Abraham, a change of place through Isaac, and a change of deed through Jacob. And if it was said of him: Then He saw and recounted it [set it firm and probed it, too…] (Job 28:27–8), that if He accepted his repentance, all the more so that of others [who are not as great].

Therefore, for a good servant, the place brings it about, and for an evil servant, also, but as for other servants, a holding forever (Leviticus 25:46). The heads of the academy rose and said Happy the people who has it thus (Psalms 144:15). שֶׁכָּכָה (Shekakhah), has it thus, is [numerically equivalent] as that of מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses. The Faithful Shepherd rose and said, ‘Happy the people whose God is YHWH’ (ibid.)” (Zohar 3:97a–111a, Ra’aya Meheimna Behar, cf. ibid. 3:217b).

I have rolled away from you the shame of Egypt (Joshua 5:9).

Night Vision

Starry_Night_Over_the_Rhone“There is a visionary mirror reflecting supernal colors, envisioned in that visionary mirror [Shekhinah]; there is vision within vision, and vision within vision, one above the other, all poised on specific rungs, presiding, called night vision (Daniel 2:19). Through them spread all dreams of the world, these resembling those above” (Zohar 1:196a).

“Come and see: All prophets of the world absorb from a single facet, through two known rungs [Netsaḥ and Hod which are considered a single field of prophetic vision]. Those rungs appeared through a dim glass, as is written: בַּמַּרְאָה (ba-mar’ah), in a vision, I make Myself known to him (Numbers 12:6). Who is ba-mar’ah? As has been said: a mirror in which all colors appear; this is the dim glass” (Zohar 1:183a, cf. ibid. 2:82b).

“[Moses the Faithful Shepherd] said ‘[Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai,] Holy Lamp, this vision is at times preceded by the letter ה (he), as in, And it was according to the appearance of הַמַּרְאֶה (ha-mar’eh), the vision [which I saw] (Ezekiel 43:3) and at times by the letter ב (bet), as in, I make Myself known to him בַּמַּרְאָה (ba-mar’ah), in a vision (Numbers 12:6); at times by מ (mem), as in, מִמַּרְאֵה (mi-mar’eh), from the appearance, of his waist and downward (Ezekiel 1:27), at times with כ (kaf), as in, כְּמַרְאֵה (ke-mar’eh), as the appearance, of a man upon it (ibid., 26); sometimes by ו (vav), as in, וּמַרְאֵה (u-mar’eh), And the sight, of the glory of YHWH (Exodus 24:17), and ל (lamed), as in, as soon as she לְמַרְאֵה (le-mar’eh), saw, them with her eyes (Ezekiel 23:16). Yet it did not need an additional letter at all except ב (bet) of בַּמַּרְאָה (ba-mar’ah). But surely this mirror [Shekhinah] comprehends ten sefirot, and each letter indicates its sefirah, namely כְּמַרְאֵה (ke-mar’ah) with כ (kaf), indicates כֶּתֶר (keter), Crown, and so on; the rest of the letters each indicates its own sefirah. And there is no need to speak here at length, a hint is sufficient for the wise….’

דִּמְיוֹנוֹת וְחֶזְיוֹנוֹת (Dimyonot ve-ḥezyonot), images and visions, are like discerning one thing from another; likening one thing to another, but a vision that is in the mind’s eye is like a light that shines on the pupil of the eye since the pupil [Shekhinah] is black, as is written, I am black but desirable (Song of Songs 1:5), with the white light in the eye that shines. This pupil of the eye is called the mitsvah is a lamp (Proverbs 6:23), and the light that shines within it from inside is, and Torah a light (ibid.)….

The dream is with the eyes shut for which reason it is called the dim glass. Prophecy is a vision with open eyes, since the three colors of the eye correspond to the three patriarchs [Ḥesed, GevurahTif’eret] in which the only Daughter [בַּת עֵינָא (bat eina), daughter of the eye, i.e., the pupil of the eye] shines. The two sides of the eyes are Netsaḥ and Hod, and the vision [of prophecy] is seen only through them. When they are open it is a waking vision and when they are shut it is a vision in a dream” (Zohar 3:280b–81a, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).