The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: body

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).

You Clothed Me in Skin and Flesh

“The Rabbis taught: The kidneys advise [Psalms 7:10; Proverbs 23:16], the heart considers [Deuteronomy 6:5; Proverbs 2:2, 10], the tongue articulates, the mouth finishes [Proverbs 37:30], the esophagus brings in all kinds of food, the windpipe gives sound, the lungs absorb all kinds of fluids, the liver causes anger, the gallbladder secretes a drop into it and calms it, the spleen laughs, the gizzard grinds, the stomach [causes] sleep, the nose [causes] wakefulness” (BT Berakhot 61a).

“Ten things serve הַנֶּפֶשׁ (ha-nefesh), the person: The esophagus for food, the windpipe for sound, the liver for anger, the lungs for drink, the gizzard to grind, the spleen for laughter, the stomach for sleep, the gallbladder for jealousy, the kidneys for thoughts, while the heart [the seat of intelligence] finishes. Now ha-nefesh, the life-breath, is above them all. The blessed Holy One says, ‘I made you to be above them all but you go out and rob, do violence, and offend!” (Vayiqra Rabbah 4:4).  

“Twelve simple [letters]: הו זח טי לנ סע צק (he vav zayin ḥet tet yod, lamed nun samekh ‘ayin tsadi qof). He engraved them, He transposed them, He hewed them, He weighed them and permuted [or: exchanged] them, and fashioned with them the constellations, the months, and the conductors: two revelers, two babblers, two that are fearsome [alt., two advisors] and two that are gleeful. They are the internal organs, and the two hands and feet. He made them a sort of rivalry, arranging them in battle [array], One opposite the other God made them (Ecclesiastes 7:14)….

1 Three hate and these are they: the tongue, the liver, and the gal.

2 Three love: the heart, the ears, and the eyes.

3 Three give life: the two nostrils and the liver of the left side.

4 Three kill: the two lower orifices and the mouth.

5 Three are in man’s control: the feet, the hands, and the mouth.

6 Three are not in man’s control: his two eyes, his ears, and his nostrils [on the voluntary and involuntary organs, see Bereshit Rabbah 67:3].

7 Three are bad tidings for the ear: cursing, blasphemy, and an evil rumor [or: bad news, see Jeremiah 49:23; Psalms 112:7].

8 Three are good tidings for the ear: blessing, a good report [or: good news, see Proverbs 25:25], and praise.

9 Three sights are bad for the eye: adultery, an evil eye, and a deceptive look.

10 Three sights are good for the eye: modesty, a good eye, and a trustworthy look.

11 Three are bad for the tongue: He who speaks in the presence of the slanderer, he who speaks one thing with the mouth but another with the heart, and he who speaks more than enough.

12 Three are good for the tongue: silence, holding the tongue, and speaking truth [cf. Sefer Yetsirah §5; M Avot 1:17]” (Sefer Yetsirah §§48a [MS A], 63).

“When the human was created, what is written? You clothed me in skin and flesh (Job 10:11). What then is the human if not skin and flesh, and bones and sinews? But surely the human being is nothing but soul! And these that we have mentioned—skin, flesh, bones, and sinews are all merely a garment; they are a person’s clothing not the human. And when a person departs, he is stripped of those garments that he is wearing” (Zohar 2:75b–76a).

An Almond which Becomes like Curdled Cheese

imageHe guards all his bones, one of them is not broken (Psalms 34:21).

“Hadrian (whose bones may they be ground, and his name blotted out) once asked Rabbi Yehoshua son of Ḥanania, ‘From what shall the human frame be reconstructed when it rises again?’ He answered ‘From the לוּז (luz), almond [Aramaic for the os coccyx, the ‘nut’ of the spinal column].’ ‘Prove this to me,’ said Hadrian. Then the Rabbi took the Luz and immersed it in water, but it was not softened; he put it into the fire, but it was not consumed; he put it into a mill, but it could not be pounded; he placed it upon an anvil and struck it with a hammer, but the anvil split and the hammer was broken” (Qohelet Rabbah 114:3).

“For a single bone surviving in a human being underground will become like leaven in dough, upon which the blessed Holy One will build an entire body” (Zohar 1:69a).

“The body beneath the dust, possessing endurance to rise from the dust” (Zohar 1:181b).

“Rabbi Pinḥas [son of Ya’ir] said, ‘I observed that תְּחִיַת הַמֵּתִים (teḥiyat ha-metim), revival of the dead, would be performed by the blessed Holy One, in one way, and that what is now first to leave will be the last. How do we know this? From those bones, the ones into which the blessed Holy One breathed life at the hands of Ezekiel. At the beginning it is written: And the bones came together, bone to its bone (Ezekiel 37:7), and then: And as I beheld, and, lo, there were sinews upon them, and flesh came up. And skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them (ibid., 8). From here, too, we can learn that what is removed first will be the last to be put on again [at revival of the dead]. Initially, man is stripped of spirit, and then his skin [rots], followed by the flesh [and then sinews], and finally the bones.

Rabbi Shim’on [son of Yoḥai] said: ‘The earlier teachers had difficulties with this passage [cf. BT Shabbat 13b], but the truth is that the blessed Holy One performed strange miracles and signs with these bones into which He breathed life.

Come and see: Recall, pray, that like clay You worked me, and to the dust You will make me return. Why, you pour me out like milk and like cheese you curdle me (Job 10:9). And then, in the following verses: With skin and flesh You cloth me, with bones and sinews entwine me (ibid., 10–11). When a person has rotted in the dust, and the time of the revival of the dead has arrived, the blessed Holy One will remake him from the remaining [Luz] bone, make it like dough and as cheese from milk and as flowing as a stream of pure clear milk. For the bone will be refined and polished as milk, curdled, and fashioned into a shape, like cheese. After this structure is done He will create anew the skin, veins and bones. Hence… all the verbs are in fact future tense. Not ‘You poured me out…’ this is because the reference throughout is to a future time” (Zohar 3:220b–21a).

“Rise Rabbi Shim’on and fashion new words with your hands, because permission has been granted you to reveal hidden mysteries which have not been revealed by another until now. Rabbi Shim’on opened saying, ‘Yours, O YHWH, is the greatness, and the strength, [and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O YHWH, and You are exalted as head above all]’ (1 Chronicles 29:11). Supernal ones listen, sleepers of Hebron. Faithful Shepherd awake from your sleep [see Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 36, cf. BT Eruvin 53a; Zohar 1:127a]. Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust: [for Your dew is like the dew of lights, and the earth shall cast out the dead] (Isaiah 26:19). These are those righteous ones who are from the aspect of, I was asleep but my heart was awake (Song of Songs 5:2). They are not dead, thus it says, Awake and sing. Awake, Faithful Shepherd you and the patriarchs, awaken the Shekhinah asleep in the exile. Until now all the righteous sleep, asleep in their youth.

Immediately the Shekhinah aroused three voices for the Faithful Shepherd, saying to him, ‘Rise Faithful Shepherd, of whom it is said, Hark! my lover knocks (Song of Songs 5:2)—with His four letters. Saying, Open for me, my sister, my friend, my dove, תַמָּתִי (tamati), my perfect one [lit., my complete one] (Songs of Songs 5:2). Because, תַּם (Tam), Complete, is the punishment of your iniquity, 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). What is filled with dew? Rather, the blessed Holy One says, ‘Do you imagine that from the day the Holy Temple was destroyed I have entered My house, or I have 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 טַל (tal), dew.’ הא (He, alef) [of the Holy Name spelled with ten letters] is Shekhinah in the exile [separated from Her lover the blessed Holy One]. Her completion and Her life is טַל (tal), dew, and this is יוד הא ואו (Yod, He, Vav) [which shares a numerical value of thirty-nine with טַל (tal), dew]. הא (He, alef) is the Shekhinah which is not of the טַל (tal), dew. But יוד הא ואו (Yod, He, Vav) equals ל״ט (thirty-nine). He fills the Shekhinah from the flowing of all the supernal sources. Immediately the Faithful Shepherd rose, and the holy patriarchs along with him. Until here the mystery of unification” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 17b).

Nothing but Soul!

“Rav Ami said: There is no death without sin, and there is no suffering without crime. There is no death without sin, as is written, The soul that sins, she shall die. The son shall not bear the crime of the father, neither shall the father bear the crime of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him (Ezekiel 18:20). There is no suffering without crime, as is written, I will requite their crime with the rod, and with plagues, their wrongdoing (Psalms 89:33)” (BT Shabbat 55a).

“Rava (some say, Rav Ḥisda) says: If a man sees that painful sufferings have befallen him, let him examine his deeds. For it is said: Let us search and examine our ways, and turn again to YHWH (Lamentations 3:40). If he examines and finds nothing [objectionable], let him attribute it to the neglect of Torah. For it is said: Happy the man whom Yah chastises, and whom from His teaching He instructs (Psalms 94:12). If he did attribute it [thus], and still did not find [this to be the cause], let him be sure that these are chastenings of love [see Zohar 1:180b, 181a]. For it is said: For whom YHWH loves He rebukes (Proverbs 3:12).

Rava, in the name of Rav Seḥora, in the name of Rav Huna, says: If the blessed Holy One is pleased with a man, he crushes him with painful sufferings. For it is said: YHWH delights in crushing him by disease (Isaiah 53:10). Now, you might think that this is so even if he did not accept them with love. Therefore it is said: to see if his soul would offer itself as a trespass-offering (ibid.). Even as the trespass-offering must be brought by consent, so also the sufferings must be endured with consent. And if he did accept them, what is his reward? He shall see his seed, He shall prolong his days (ibid.). And more than that, his learning will endure, as is said: and the will of YHWH shall prosper in his hand (ibid.)” (BT Berakhot 5a).

“When the blessed Holy One delights in the righteous, what is written? YHWH delights in crushing him by disease (Isaiah 53:10). This has been established, but the reason is that the delight of the blessed Holy One focuses only on soul, not on body; for soul resembles soul, while body is incapable of uniting above—even though the body’s image abides in supernal mystery” (Zohar 1:140b).

“When the human was created, what is written? You clothed me in skin and flesh (Job 10:11). What then is the human if not skin and flesh, and bones and sinews? But surely the human being is nothing but soul! And these that we have mentioned—skin, flesh, bones, and sinews are all merely a garment; they are a person’s clothing not the human. And when a person departs, he is stripped of those garments that he is wearing” (Zohar 2:76a).