The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: bread

Bread of Shame

imageThe hater of gifts shall live (Proverbs 15:27).

“Before souls come to the world, they resemble one who eats the bread of the King without serving Him. And this is why the Sages say that it is good for man to have been created [see BT Eruvin 13b]…. Souls feel ashamed to eat the bread of the King without serving Him, and therefore they yearn to come to the world… so as to leave that shame; they seek to come to this world, to engage in Torah and mitsvot, to till it and watch it (Genesis 2:15) so that they may eat bread without shame” (Rabbi Yosef Karo, Maggid Meisharim, Bereshit; cf. Zohar 2:87a, Sava de-Mishpatim).

“One who eats from his friend’s food is ashamed to look at him” (JT Orlah 1:5, 61b).

“Two people eat from the same bowl, but each one tastes according to his deeds” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan §37).

“Rabbi Natan son of Abba further said in the name of Rav: He who is dependent on another’s table, the world is dark to him, as is said: He wanders for bread—where is it? He knows that the dark day awaits him (Job 15:23). Rabbi Ḥisda says: Also, his life is no life” (BT Beitsah 32b).

“I have the following tradition from my grandfather’s family: At all times shall one [rather] hire himself out to עֲבוֹדָה זַרָה (avodah zarah), idol-worship [lit., foreign worship], than be in need of [his fellow] creatures. He thought that עֲבוֹדָה זַרָה (avodah zarah), [meant] actual [idol worship], but it is not so, [the meaning being,] ‘work which is foreign to him;’ as Rav said to Rabbi Kahana: Flay a carcass in the street and earn a wage, and say not, ‘I am a great man and the work is degrading to me’” (BT Bava Batra 110a).

“One who supports himself from his own labor is greater than one who fears Heaven” (BT Berakhot 8a).

“Tanna debe Eliyyahu [taught]: Though Rabbi Akiva said, ‘Treat your Sabbath like a weekday rather than be dependent on men,’ yet one must prepare something small at home [in honor of Sabbath]. What is that [which even the poorest must prepare]? Rav Papa said: Fried fish. As we learned: Rabbi Yehudah son of Teima said, ‘Be as bold as a leopard, swift as an eagle, fleet as a gazelle, and as mighty as a lion, to do the will of your Father in Heaven’ (M Avot 5:24)” (BT Pesaḥim 112a).

“Rabbi Yehudah opened, ‘Is it not to share your bread with the hungry? (Isaiah 58:7). Come and see: Happy is one’s portion when he encounters a poor person! For a poor person is a gift that the blessed Holy One has sent to him. Happy is the share of one who receives that gift cheerfully!…’ Is it not to share your bread with the hungry? What is פָרֹס (paros), to share? לְמִפְרַס (Le-miphras), to spread, a tablecloth with bread and food to eat. Alternatively, Is it not פָרֹס (paros), to share?—as is said: פְּרֵס פְּרִיסַת (Peres perisat), פְּרֵס (peres)—has been divided (Daniel 5:28), for one should לְמִפְרַס פְּרִיסִין (le-miphras perisin), break pieces, of bread before him so that he will not feel ashamed, and one should break it before him generously” (Zohar 2:198a).

“Please, LORD our God, do not make us dependent on the gifts or loans of other people, but only on Your full, open, holy and generous hand so that we may suffer neither shame nor humiliation for ever and all time” (Birkat ha-Mazon).

“The Rabbis taught: It happened once that a man’s wife died and she left behind a child to nurse, and he did not have the wages [to pay] a wet-nurse. A miracle was performed for him and his breasts opened like a woman’s breasts and he nursed his child. Rav Yosef said, ‘Come and see how great a man this is that such a miracle was performed for him!’ Abbaye said to him, ‘On the other hand, how deficient a man this is that סִדְרֵי בְרֵאשִׁית (sidrei ve-reshit), the laws of nature, were changed for him! [if he was worthy he might have come into money, therefore, a miracle was really performed for the child].’ Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Come and see how difficult [providing] a person’s food [is]: the laws of nature were changed for him!’ Rabbi Naḥman said: Know that miracles are evoked, but food is not created [from nothing; on blessing not appearing in an empty place, see BT Sanhedrin 92a, in the name of Rabbi El’azar; Naḥmaindes on Exodus 25:24; Zohar 1:88a–b, 240a, 250a; 2:63b, 67a, 87b–88a, 154b–155a, 157b; 3:34a]” (BT Shabbat 53b).

“A person should not embolden himself to say: ‘The blessed Holy One will save me,’ or ‘He will do this for me.’ Rather, he should place his strength in the blessed Holy One, to help him fulfill the commandments of Torah and walk in the way of truth, for as soon as one comes to purify himself, he is certainly assisted [cf. BT Shabbat 104a]. So should one fortify himself in the blessed Holy One—in order that He may help him—holding fast to Him, not placing his strength in another. So, whose strength is in You (Psalms 84:5)” (Zohar 1:142a).

Happy all who fear YHWH, who walk in His ways. When you eat of the toil of your hands, happy are you, and it is good for you (Psalms 128:2).

The Maids Who Grind Grow Idle, for They are Now Few

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“This קְלִפָּה (qelipah), shell… is thin and corresponds to the bran of  wheat, for here it sticks to the wheat and cannot be separated from there without grinding it in the mill-stones, which are correspond to the grinding molar in a man’s jaw, with which matters of Torah have to be ground until they are as fine flour. And in a sieve, which is the lips, the waste matter, which is the bran of Torah, is sorted out until the Halakhah is as pure fine flour. At that time, the heart and the brain and all those parts of the body through which the soul spreads, take that and the soul lives on it just as the body lives on things from this world. One against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14)—just as food for the body, so food for the soul, as is written: Come, partake of my bread (Proverbs 9:5).

And this shell, is like the shell that sticks to the kernel of the nut, for when the nut is soft the shell separates from the kernel without difficulty, but when the nut is dry, it is difficult for man to remove it from there, and the difficult problem still remains. For this reason the blessed Holy One commanded man to return [in repentance] during his youth, before the evil impulse makes him old, as is written: Before a gray head you shall rise (Leviticus 19:32)—before your own old age. And this shell, is fire, about which is written: [And after the fire,] a sound of minute stillness (1 Kings 19:12). [Another shell: darkness over the] deep (Genesis 1:2)—the space that is in the nut about which is written: [And after the fire,] a sound of minute stillness (1 Kings 19:12), for this is where the King comes: [And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud,] and a fire engulfing itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of its midst as the color of חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber, out of the midst of the fire (Ezekiel 1:4)….

And all the people of the world on the outside know not how they eat nor do they know their secret, but the sages that are inside do know and they take from them. For the esophagus cannot be examined from the outside, for they do not know, but on the inside they do know and take until it enters the mill and is pulverized and cooked [cf. BT Behorot 45a; Berakhot 61a]. And the liver takes everything, as we had learnt, but from those offerings by fire issue forth stages that take before the liver. And what are they? They are the molar which eat and grind the sacrifices. Therefore, on the destruction of the Temple, it is written: And the maids who grind grow idle, for they are now few (Ecclesiastes 12:3). These are the first to grind….

Netsaḥ and Hod are the two halves of a body, like two twins, which is why they are called skies (Psalms 78:23). The two of them together are וו (vav, vav) of וֵשֶׁט (veshet), esophagus, from the left side, and they are the two molar teeth from the right side [cf. Exodus 30:36: And שָׁחַקְתָ (shaḥaqta), you shall pound it to fine powder. שְׁחָקִים (Sheḥaqim), skies, and שָׁחַקְתָ (shaḥaqta), you shall pound it to fine powder, share the root שָׁחַקְ (shaḥaq) ‘(to) powder’]….

And from the side of וֵשֶׁט (veshet), esophagus [before which there is grinding in the teeth it is said]: The people would שָׁטוּ (shatu), go about, and gather it (Numbers 11:8). It—the collection of decisions in Mishnah. שָׁטוּ (Shatu), go about [is an anagram of וֵשֶׁט (veshet), esophagus]. And grind it between millstones or pound it in a pestle and cook it in a cauldron and make it into cakes (ibid.). It follows that whoever brings out words of Torah, must grind them in his teeth in order to express words that are called שָׁלֵם (shalem), complete. But as for the others that are scorned, these words are swallowed when eaten greedily, without being ground in their molars and their teeth about them it is written: The meat was still between their teeth, it had not yet been chewed, when the wrath of YHWH flared against the people [i.e., the motley throng] (Numbers 11:33). From the root of him who said: Let me gulp down some of this red red stuff, for I am famished (Genesis 25:30) [עָיֵף (ayef), famished, is numerically equivalent to קַיִן (Qayin), Cain, who is the root of Esau]” (Zohar 3:226b–235a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

Soul Food

“You can mend the cosmos by anything you doeven eating…. So when you are about to eat bread, say הַמּוֹצִיא (ha-motsi), ‘who brings forth’: ‘Blessed are you, YHWH our God, sovereign of the world, who brings forth bread from the earth.’ Then by eating, you bring forth sparks that cleave to your soul” (Kavvanah, a spiritual “intention,” of Rabbi Yitsḥaq Luria, recorded by Rabbi Yosef Don Don, ca. 1570, translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 149).

The righteous man eats for the sating of נַפְשׁוֹ (nafsho), his gullet [or: his soul], but the belly of the wicked will want (Proverbs 13:25).

“When a person eats he must direct his thought so that it roam (2 Chronicles 16:9) with the blessed Holy One over each and every bite, as is written, And they beheld God and ate and drank (Exodus 24:11)” (Rabbenu Baḥya ben Asher, Shulḥan shel Arba).

“Whoever wants bread, let him eat by the mouth of the sword” (Zohar 3:188b).

Evil Bread

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And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? From the tree [I commanded you not to eat have you eaten?’] (Genesis 3:11). Rabbi Levi said: [A parable: To what can the matter be compared?] A woman borrowing חָמֵץ (ḥamets), yeast [alt., חֹמֶץ (ḥomets), vinegar], who went in to the wife of a snake-charmer and asked her, ‘How does your husband treat you?’ She said, ‘He treats me with every kindness, only he does not permit me to approach this jar which is full of serpents and scorpions. She said, ‘It contains all his finery. He wishes to marry another woman and give it to her.’ What did she do? She reached her hand into it, and they began biting her. When her husband came he heard her crying out. He said, ‘Have you touched that jar?’ Similarly, ‘From the tree I commanded you not to eat have you eaten?’” (Bereshit Rabbah 19:10).

“[Rabbi Tanḥum said:] May it be Your will, YHWH my God and God of my fathers, that You break and destroy the yoke of the evil impulse from our heart. For You created us to do Your will, and we must do Your will; You desire it and we desire it. So who prevents it? The leaven in the dough [i.e., the עֵרֶב רַב (erev rav), mixed multitude, motley throng, cf. BT Qiddushin 71b: ‘Rabbi El’azar said: Ezra did not go up from Babylon until he made it like pure sifted flour: then he went up (to the land of Israel)’]” (JT Berakhot 4:2, 7d).

“When Israel went out of Egypt, they left their domain—alien domain, the domain called חָמֵץ (ḥamets), evil bread. That is why idolatry is called so, and that is mystery of the evil impulse, alien worship, also called שְׂאוֹר (se’or), leaven. This is the evil impulse, for so it functions in the person, like leaven in dough: entering ones innards little by little and then increasing, until the whole body is permeated by it. This is idolatry, of which it is written there shall be no alien god in you (Psalms 81:10)—literally!” (Zohar 2:182a).

“Come and see: In Egypt [Lilit, that beast of the reed (Psalms 68:31)] reigned, and from her issued many kinds of dominion, all in the mystery of חָמֵץ (ḥamets), leavened stuff. Once the blessed Holy One broke her, He removed חָמֵץ (ḥamets) and brought in מַצָּה (matsah). How? By the thinnest thread of all, He broke the ח (ḥet) of this חַיָּה (ḥayyah), beast, and those letters turned into מַצָּה (matsah). Actually, He broke the ח (ḥet) of this חַיָּה (ḥayyah), beast, who is called חָמֵץ (ḥamets). So she is called חַיַּת (ḥayyat)beast, of the reed, for she is easy to break as a reed. How was she broken? By a thread as thin as a hair, He broke the ח (ḥet); it was displaced becoming מַצָּה (matsah). Thus it is written Rebuke חַיַּת (ḥayyat), the beast of, the reed—the blessed Holy One rebuked her, and the ח (ḥet) was broken, turning into ה (he)” (Zohar 3:252a).

Mountains Hanging by a Hair, Baked Bread, the Bride and Her Royal Tailors

“The הֲלָכוֹת (halakhot), ways of conduct, concerning the Sabbath, Festal-offerings and acts of trespass are as mountains hanging by a hair, for they have scant Scriptural basis but many halakhot” (BT Ḥagigah 10a, cf. Deuteronomy 30:12; BT Bava Metsi’a 59b).

“What is the difference between Scripture and Mishnah [i.e., the Written Torah and the Oral Torah]? They told a parable. To what may this be compared? To a king of flesh and blood who had two servants, whom he loved completely. He gave each of them a measure of wheat and a bundle of flax. The wise one of them—what did he do? He took the flax and wove it into cloth. He took the wheat and made it into flour. He sifted it, grounded, needed, and baked it, and then set it on the table and spread the cloth over it. He left it until the king arrived. The foolish of the two did nothing at all.

After sometime, the king came to his palace and said to them, ‘my children, bring me what I gave to you.’ One brought out the [bread baked with] fine flour on the table covered with cloth, and the other brought wheat in a box with the bundle of flax on top. Woe for that shame! Woe for that disgrace! You must admit: which of them is more beloved? Obviously, he who laid out the table with the [bread baked of] fine flour on it…. When the blessed Holy One gave the Torah to Israel, he gave it to them as wheat from which to produce fine flour, and as flax from which to produce both” (Seder Eliyyahu Zuta 2, cf. Zohar 2:176a–b).

“Rabbi Shim’on opened, saying, ‘Oh, Let him kiss me with his mouth’s kisses (Song of Songs 1:2). Oral Torah said this to Written Torah—pursuing His sweetness, uniting with one another through those kisses.

When She is in the midst of her maidens’ dispute regarding Her adornment, all of them striving to be ornaments for Written Torah, She joins and is embraced by the Written Torah in bliss—in a single bond—and He kisses Her amorously. Then, invigorated by Him, She says to Him with affection, ‘How much more precious are Your caresses than Your wine! Your love has seized me, intoxicating me with the wine of love, securing Me to You!’

Oral Torah receives magnificent adornment from Her maidens, uniting with Written Torah. Mishnah—crown of the head, mystery of fitting adornment. Baraita—mystery of embellishment of thighs and feet. Body—maidens approach with the fitting array, coming close to decorate Her. One says, ‘מוּתָר (Mutar), Permissible,’ and one says, אָסוּר (Asur), Forbidden’—this is ornamenting the bride, as they adorn Her. One says, ‘This jewel goes like so,’ and the other responds, ‘No, not like that. Surely, regarding the adornment for the head, the headdress is אָסוּר (asur), tied, and the headdress is fastened like this.’ And the other one says, ‘The headdress is מוּתָר (mutar), loosened, on this side—and אָסוּר (asur), tied, and fastened on this side.’ ‘This golden brooch on the body’s garment—it is פָּסוּל (pasul), unfit, to have this ornament there.’ This one says, ‘It is כָּשֵׁר (kasher), fit, and appropriate to dislay this one together with that one’—all enhancement and adornment of the bride [in speaking of קִשׁוּט (qishut), ornament, an allusion to קֶשׁוֹט (qeshot), truth, may be intended, hinting at the significance of the rabbinic rivalries (Hecker)].

In any event, as long as they beautify, flinging disputes about ornaments, She is enhanced in power, beauty, color, and refinement by them—sitting gloriously among them, feeling beautified by more than a hundred-fold [cf. BT agigah 9b in the name of Hillel]. After She has been adorned by them, they all take hold of Her by Her ornaments and beautiful embellishments, bringing Her to the King—Written Torah. When Matronita sits with the King, refined in Her beauty, and the King sees Her exquisitely adorned, that ornament proclaims that the King should kiss Her—for that is the cleaving of love, being enfolded in one another.

Who initiates those kisses and that love? Those maidens who adorned Her. When She and the King wish to bestow goodness upon the maidens—gifts for them all—they are given to them all at once. Even though they have contended with one another about the ornaments, the King and Matronita bestow gifts and presents with goodwill and affections, endowing them with an inheritance of a thousand worlds of longing for the World that is Coming. All the more so for those who know mysteries of wisdom, adorning embellishments, for there is no measure of their inherited legacy. Of them is written So I may endow my lovers with substance, and fill their storehouses (Proverbs 8:21)'” (Zohar Ḥadash 64a).

“There are likewise a number of verses where the Masters of Mishnah expand or restrict, according to [the principles] of amplification and diminution, and there are also cases [in which a letter is] added, as is said: ‘Do not read מַה (mah), what, but מֵאָה (me’ah), one hundred’ (BT Menaḥot 43b)…. Certain words that are written in the abbreviated spelling [are expounded] as though written out in full, and other [words] that are written out in full are as though written out in abbreviated form. About these and about all sorts of explanations that can be made to embellish the bride in Her ornaments, the blessed Holy One commanded us to do as they say, and to trust them, as is written: According to the teaching that they instruct you [and according to the judgment that they say to you, you shall do, you shall not swerve from the word that they tell you right or left] (Deuteronomy 17:11).

[This is like] a tailor who has cut cloth in order to make royal garments, and has made many pieces from them. Those who know the places where those pieces are missing [and are familiar with] the pieces which remain will be able to make the garments, for the pieces that have been collected together are placed where they are missing, and pieces that are too small are added to. And this is the true meaning of: According to the teaching that they instruct you. And you might well ask that, if this is so, what about the case where one of them occasionally errs and says, ‘I recant.’ Before issuing instructions concerning that matter about which there is a difference of opinion, the one who poses the difficulty can say, ‘I withdraw.’ For not all of those who make the parts of a bride’s ornaments know where each piece goes, until the ruling is made [and prior to when] resolutions to the arguments of the הֲלָכוֹת (halakhot), ways of conduct, have been given [הֲלָכָה (Halakhah) alludes to the many ornaments made for הַכַּלָה (ha-Kalah), the Bride, Oral Torah, Shekhinah]” (Zohar 3:254b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).