The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: breath

The Breath of Life

“To whom did David refer in these five verses beginning with ‘בָּרְכִי נַפְשִׁי (Barekhi nafshi), bless, O my being, YHWH‘? [see Psalms 103:1, 2, 22; 104:1, 35]. He was alluding only to the blessed Holy One and to the soul. Just as the blessed Holy One fills the whole world, so the soul fills the body. Just as the blessed Holy One, sees, but is not seen, so the soul sees but is not itself seen. Just as the blessed Holy One feeds the whole world, so the soul feeds the whole body. Just as the blessed Holy One is pure, so the soul is pure. Just as the blessed Holy One abides in the innermost chambers, so the soul abides in the innermost chambers. Let that which has these five things come and praise Him who has these five things” (BT Berakhot 10a).

“נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (Nishmat ḥayyim), the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). She has five names: nefesh, ruaḥ, neshamah, ḥayyah, yeḥidah. Nefesh—blood, as is written, the blood is הַנָּפֶשׁ (ha-nafesh), the life (Deuteronomy 12:23). Ruaḥ—she ascends and descends [like the רוּחַ (ruaḥ), wind]: as is written, Who knows whether man’s רוּחַ (ruaḥ), spirit, goes upward and the beast’s spirit goes down to earth (Ecclesiastes 3:21). Neshamah—הָאוֹפִיָּא (ha-ofiyya), the breath [or: temperament. Cf. אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם (erekh appayim), Long-suffering (lit., Long-nosed)]; as people say, ‘His temperament is good.’ Ḥayyah—all the limbs are lifeless, yet she is חַיָּה (ḥayyah), vitality, in the body. Yeḥidah—all the limbs [or: organs] are two by two (Genesis 7:9), yet she is יְחִידָה (yeḥidah), unique, in the body’ [cf. Psalms 22:21: Save from the sword נַפְשִׁי (nafshi), my life, from the cur’s power יְחִידָתִי (yeḥidati), my person].

It is written, Should He set His mind on man, if He would gather to Him רוּחוֹ וְנִשְׁמָתוֹ (ruḥo ve-nismato), his spirit and his breath, all flesh would expire together, man to the dust would return (Job 34:14–15). Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Rabbi Neḥemiah and the Rabbis discussed this. Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Rabbi Neḥemiah interpreted it: ‘Should God set His mind on this man—רוּחוֹ (ruḥo), his spirit, was already in His hand [i.e., when man sleeps at night]’; ‘If He would gather to him his breath, into his body, all humanity would expire together‘ [i.e., if He concentrated man’s soul in one part of his body instead of permitting her to pervade all his limbs]; but when man is sleeping the neshamah warms the body so that it should not shiver and die. Rabbi Bisni, Rabbi Aḥa, and Rabbi Yoḥanan in Rabbi Me’ir’s name said: The neshamah fills the body, and when man sleeps she ascends and draws life for him from above. Rabbi Levi said in Rabbi Ḥanina’s name: She repeatedly ascends. For every breath which a man takes he must give praise to the blessed Holy One. What is the reason? Let every הַנְּשָׁמָה (ha-neshamah), soul, praise Yah (Psalms 150:6)—let every הַנְּשִׁימָה (ha-neshimah), breath, praise Yah….

Rabbi Shemu’el, the son-in-law of Rabbi Ḥanina, the companion of the Rabbis, said: Here [Genesis 2:7] neshamah is identified with nesfesh, whereas in another text the neshamah is equated with ruaḥ [ibid. 7:22: all that had the נִשְׁמַת רוּחַ חַיִּים (nishmat ruaḥ ḥayyim), quickening breath of life, in its nostrils]. How do we know that the statement of the one text is applicable to that of the other and vice versa? Because ḥayyim (life) is written in both texts, proving that they are analogous [hence the neshamah is both nefesh and ruaḥ]” (Bereshit Rabbah 14:9).

“Why is it called זָהָב (zahav), gold? Because in it three qualities are wedded. זָכָר (Zakhar) male—ז (zayin). הַנְּשָׁמָה (Ha-neshamah), the soul [נְקֵבָה (neqevah), female]—ה (he), for ה״ (five) names of the soul: nefesh, ruaḥ, neshamah, ḥayyah, yeḥidah. What is the function of ה (he)? It is a כִּסֵּא (kisse), throne, for ז (zayin), as is written, For he who is high has a higher one watching him (Ecclesiastes 5:7). ב (Bet) is sustenance, as is said: בְּרֵאשִׁית בָרָא (Bereshit vara), in the beginning fatten (Genesis 1:1) [cf. 1 Samuel 2:29: לְהַבְרִיאֲכֶם מֵרֵאשִׁית (le-havriakhem me-reshit), to make yourselves fat from the first portions].

What is its purpose here? A parable: A king once had a daughter who was good, sweet, lovely, and perfect. He married her to a royal prince, and clothed, crowned, and bejeweled her, giving her much wealth. Is it possible for the king to ever leave his daughter? You will agree that it is not. Is it possible for him to be with her constantly? You will also agree that it is not. What then must he do? He places a חַלּוֹן (ḥallon), screen, between the two, and whenever the father needs his daughter, or the daughter needs her father, they can come together through this screen [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 74:7]. Therefore it is written, All the princess’s treasure is inward, filigree of זָהָב (zahav), gold, her raiment (Psalms 45:14)” (Bahir §53–§54).

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Long-nosed

For the sake of My name אַאֲרִיךְ אַפִּי (a’arikh appi), I lengthen My nose, and for My praise אֶחֱטָם (eḥetom), restrain it, for you, so as not to cut you off (Isaiah 48:9, cf. Bahir §5 ad loc.).

“Secrecy within secrecy was prepared and arranged in a single skull filled with crystalline dew. Membrane of air, purified and sealed; those strands of clean fleece hanging evenly. Will of Wills is revealed through צְלוֹתָא (tselota), prayer [lit., roast sacrifice], of those below. Open-eyed watching, never sleeping, ever vigilant; supervision below by supervision of radiance above. Two nostrils of an official arousing breath for all [as a nose supervising commandingly]” (Zohar 2:176b, Sifra di-Tsni’uta).

“It has been taught: This nose is small, and when smoke begins to emerge, it comes out hurriedly and Judgment is executed. Who prevents this nose from spewing smoke? The nose of the Holy Ancient One, Who is called אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם (Erekh Appayim), Long-nosed, Long-suffering, of all…. When the Holy Ancient One is revealed to Ze’eir Anpin, all appear in Compassion; the nose is assuaged, and no smoke emerges, as we have learned, for it is written: For My praise אֶחֱטָם (eḥetom), I restrain the nose, for you… (Isaiah 48:9)…. Thus it is written YHWH smelled the pleasing aroma (Genesis 8:21), for all depends on the nose—that this nose may smell the smoke and red fire, whereby the offering is accepted with favor. This corresponds to what is written: The nose of YHWH will flare against you (Deuteronomy 11:17); My nose will flare (Exodus 22:23); lest the nose of YHWH flare (Deuteronomy 6:15)—all referring to Ze’eir Anpin” (Zohar 3:137b–138a, Idra Rabba).

“וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (Va-yippaḥ be-appaiv nishmat ḥayyim)And He blew into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7)—חוֹתָם (ḥotam), stamp, signet ring, seal [חוֹתָם (ḥotam) puns on חוֹטֶם (ḥotem), nose]” (Ba’al ha-Turim).

ספר יצירה (Sefer Yetsirah) The Book of Formation (MS K)

et-si-nous-parlions-de-la-typographie-hebraique
[§1] By means of thirty-two wondrous paths of wisdom
Yah YHWH of armies, God of Israel, the Living God, Almighty, high and exalted, dwelling for ever, and Holy is His Name (Isaiah 57:15), engraved. He created His world with three סֶפָרִים (sefarim), books [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 16b]: בְסֵפֶר וּסְפָר וְסִיפּוּר (ve-sefer u-sefar we-sippur), book, census, and recounting [MS Z].

[§2] Ten סְפִירוֹת בְּלִימָה (sefiroth belimah), ciphers of emptiness [cf. Avot 5:1], are the basis and the twenty-two letters are the foundation: three mothers, seven doubles, and twelve simple [letters].

[§3] Ten sefiroth belimah are the basis—like the number of the ten fingers, five opposite five and the covenant of the singular One is precisely in the middle in the covenant of the tongue and the circumcision of the flesh.

[§4] Ten sefiroth belimah are the basis—ten and not nine, ten and not eleven. Understand in wisdom, be wise in understanding. Examine them, explore them. Establish the matter thoroughly, and restore the יוֹצֵר (Yotser), Creator, to His dwelling.

[§5] Ten sefiroth belimah are the basis: restrain your mouth from speaking, restrain your heart from thinking. And if your heart races return to the place, as is written, running and returning (Ezekiel 1:14). And concerning this the Covenant was made.

[§6] Ten sefiroth belimah are the basis. Their end is embedded in their beginning like a flame bound to a burning coal. For the אֲדוֺן (Adon), Lord, is singular, and He has none second to Him; and before one, what can you count?

[§7] Ten sefiroth belimah are the basis; their measure is ten yet they have no limit: depth of beginning and depth of end, depth of good and depth of evil, depth of above and depth of below, depth of east and depth of west, depth of north and depth of south. And the singular Lord, a trustworthy divine king, rules over them all from His holy dwelling for ever and ever.

[§8] Ten sefiroth belimah are the basis. Their appearance is like the sight of lightning, and their end?—they have no limit. And His word is in them as though running and returning (Ezekiel 1:14), and they pursue His command like the storm wind, and before His throne they bow down.

[§9] The twenty-two letters are the foundation: three mothers, seven doubles, and twelve simple [letters].

[§10] Ten sefiroth, that is to say: One—רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים חַיִּים (rhuaḥ Elohim ḥayyim), Breath of the Living God. Twice blessed is the name of the חֵי הַעוֹלָמִים (ḥei ha-olamim), Vitality of the Worlds. Voice, breath, word—this is רוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ (rhuaḥ ha-qodesh), the Holy Spirit.

[§12] Two—breath from Breath: He engraved and hewed in it the twenty-two basic letters—three mothers, and seven doubles, and twelve simple [letters]. And Breath is one of them.

[§13] Three—water from rhuaḥ, wind: He engraved and hewed in it תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ (thohu wa-vohu), welter and waste (Genesis 1:1), mud and mire (Isaiah 57:20). He engraved them like a sort of garden-bed. He erected them like a sort of wall, and he wove them like a sort of roof.

[§14] Four—fire from water: He engraved them and hewed in it the Throne of Glory, and the ofanim and the serafim, and the holy living beings, and the ministering angels. And from the three of them He founded His dwelling, as is said: He makes His messengers the winds, His ministers, glowing fire (Psalms 104:4).

[§15] Five—He sealed above. He chose three simple letters and embedded them in His great Name. And He sealed with them six קָצֶווֹת (qatse’ot), ends, and He turned upwards and scaled it. Seven—He sealed the east, and He turned downwards [in front] and sealed it. Eight—He sealed the west, and He turned behind and sealed it. Nine—He sealed the south, and He turned to His right and sealed it. Ten—He sealed the north, and He turned to His left and sealed it.

[§16] Ten sefiroth belimah are the basis: רוּחַ אֱלֹהִים חַיִּים (rhuaḥ Elohim ḥayyim), Breath of the Living God; and rhuaḥwind, water, fire; above, below, east, west, north and south.

[§17a] The twenty-two letters: they are engraved by voice, hewn by breath, embedded in the mouth in five positions: אחה״ע בומ״ף גיכ״ק דטלנ״ת זסשר״ץ (alef ḥeth he ‘ayin, beth waw mem peh, gimel yod khaf qof, daleth teth lamed nun taw, zayin samekh shin resh tsadhi) [קְדוּשָׁה (qedhushah), Holiness].

[§18] The twenty-two letters are their foundation. Embedded in the תְּלִי (Teli), in a wheel with 231 gates. The wheel turns forward and backward. And this is the sign: if for good, above—עֹנֶג (‘oneg), delight; if for evil, below—נֶגַע (nega’), affliction.

[§19a] Twenty-two letters: He engraved them, hewed them, weighed them, permuted them, and transposed them, forming with them the נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), life-breath, of everything formed, and the nefesh, soul, of everything destined to be formed [cf. M Sanhedrin 4:5].

[§19b] How did He weigh and permute them? א (Alef) with them all, and all of them with alef; ב (beth) with them all, and all of them with beth. And they rotate in turn. Found through 231 gates, from which All was created; all speech and everything formed is found emerging from one name.

[§20] Out of תֹהוּ (thohu), nothing, He formed מַמָשׁ (mamash), something, making them its existence [alt., making what is not into what is (MS Z)]. He hewed enormous pillars out of אֲוִיר (awir), air, that cannot be grasped [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 1:5]. This is the sign:

[§21 (according to Pardes Rimonim, 30:5)] 

אל בת גש דר הק וץ זף חע טס ין כם אב גת דש הר וק זץ חף חע יס כן לם אג דת הש ור זק חץ טף יע כס לן בם אד בג הת וש זר חק טץ יף כע לס מן אה בר ות זש חר טק ין כף לע מס גן או בה גד זת חש טג יק כץ לף מע נס אז בו גה חת טש יד כק לץ חף נע דס אח בז גו דה טת יש כר לק מץ נף סע אט בח גז דו ית כש לר מק נץ סף הע אי בט גח דז הו כת לש מר נק סץ עף אב בי גט דח הז לת מש נר סק עץ יף אל בך גי דט הח וז מת נש סר עק פץ אמ בל גס די הט זה צת סש ער פק זן אג בם גך דק הי וט זח סת עש פר צק אס בג גמ דל הס וי זט עת פש צר חק אע בס גנ דמ הל וכ זי חט פת צש קר אף בע גס דנ המ ול זכ חי צת קש טר אץ בף גע דס הג ומ זל חס טי קת רש אק בץ גף דע הס וג זם חל טב רת יש אר בק גץ דף הע וס זג חמ טל יב שת אש בר גק דן הף וע זס חג טמ יל כת את בש גר דק הץ וף זע חס טן ימ כל

[§22] He looks and exchanges; making all that is formed and all speech one name. And a sign for the matter: twenty-two objects and one body.

[§23] Three mothers: א מ ש (alef, mem, shin). Their basis is the scale of acquittal and the scale of guilt, and the tongue of law holds the balance between them.

[§24] Three mothers: alef, mem, shin—a great mystery, hidden and ineffable, and sealed with six seals. And from it goes out fire, and water and wind, and it is divided into male and female.

[§25] Three—fire, water and wind; fire above, water below, and wind is between them. And this is a sign for the matter that fire evaporates water.

[§26] Three mothers: alef, mem, shin. Mem lifts up, and shin hisses, and alef is the balancing item.

[§27] Three mothers: alef, mem, shin. And from them were born three fathers from whom everything was created.

[§28] Three mothers: alef, mem, shin—in the world: wind and water and fire. Heavens were created first from fire, and earth was created from water, and אוֹר (or), light [alt.,אֲוִיר (awir), air] was created from רוּחַ (rhuaḥ), spirit, holding the balance between them.

[§29] Three mothers alef, mem, shin—in the year: fire, and water and wind. Heat was created from fire, and cold was created from water, and humidity from wind holding the balance between them.

[§30] Three mothers alef, mem, shin—in a nefesh, person. The head was created from fire, the belly from water, and the chest from rhuaḥbreath, holding the balance between them.

[§31] Three mothers alef, mem, shin. He engraved them, hewed them, transposed them, forming with them the three mother [letters] in the world, and the three mother [letters] in the year, and the three mother [letters] in a person—male and female.

[§32] He made alef rule over breath, and bound to it a crown, and transposed them with each other, sealing with them אֲוִיר (awir), atmosphere, in the world, humidity in the year, and the chest in a person—male with alef, mem, shin and female with shin, memalef.

[§33] He made מ (mem) rule over מַיִם (mayim), water, and bound to it a crown, and sealed with it earth in the world, cold in the year, and the fruit of the belly in a person; male with מ ש א (mem, shinalef), and female with מ א ש (memalef, shin).

[§34] He made ש (shin) rule over אֵשׁ (esh), fire, and bound to it a crown, and transposed them with each other, sealing with it heavens in the world, heat in the year, and the head in a person, male with shin, memalef, and female with shinalef, mem.

[§35 (MS A)] How did he transpose them? אמש אשם מאש משא שמא שאם (Alef mem shin, alef shin mem, mem alef shin, mem shin alef, shin mem alef, shin alef mem)—heavens, fire; air, breath; earth, water. Man’s head: fire; his belly: water; his heart: breath.

[§36 (MS A)] Three mothers: alef, mem, shin. There was formed with alef: breath, air, humidity, chest, law, and tongue. There was formed with mem: earth, cold, belly, and the scale of acquittal. There was formed with ש (shin): heavens, heat, head, and the scale of guilt. This is alef, mem, shin. The end.

[§37] Seven doubles: בג״ד כפר״ת (beth, gimel, daleth, kaf, peh, resh, taw). They are pronounced with the tongue in two different positions. Their basis is life and peace, wisdom, wealth, prosperity, beauty and mastery. They are pronounced with the tongue in two different positions: ב (beth, veth), ג (gimel, ghimel), ד (daleth, dhaleth), כ (kaf, khaf), פ (peh, feh), ר (resh, rhesh), ת (taw, thaw)—דָּגֵּשׁ (dagesh), and רָפֵה (rhafeh), soft and hard, a paradigm of strong and weak. They are doubles because they are opposites. The opposite of life is death; the opposite of peace is war [lit., evil]; the opposite of wisdom is folly; the opposite of wealth is poverty; the opposite of prosperity is desolation; the opposite of beauty is ugliness; and the opposite of mastery is slavery.

[§38] Seven doubles: beth, gimel, daleth, kaf, peh, resh, taw, corresponding to seven קָצֶווֹת (qatse’ot), ends [or: extremities, see Bahir §82]: a place of ends and a holy place; one—a place set within a place; two—the upper extremity, three—the lower extremity, four—the eastern extremity, five—the western extremity, six—the northern extremity, seven, the everlasting extremity, and the holy Temple set in the middle and it supports them all.

[§39] Seven doubles: beth, gimel, daleth, kaf, peh, resh, taw. He engraved and hewed them, He transposed them, forming with them the planets in the world, the days in the year, and the gates in a person by sevens [cf. Deuteronomy 16:18].

[§40] How did he transpose them? Two stones build two houses; three build six; four build twenty-four; five build one hundred and twenty; six build seven hundred and twenty; seven build five thousand and forty [i.e., factorials]. From here on go out and ponder what the mouth cannot speak, and what the ear cannot hear.

[§42] And with them were engraved out seven firmaments, seven earths, seven hours and seven times. Therefore He loved the seventh under the heavens.

[§43a] These are the seven planets in the world: חַמָה (ḥamah), Sun, נוֹגַה (noghah), Venus, כּוֹכָב (kokhav), Mercury, לְבָנָה (levanah), Moon, שַׁבְּתַאִי (shabbethai), Saturn, צֶדֶק (tsedheq), Jupiter, מַאְדִים (ma’adhim), Mars. And the days in the year: the seven days of creation. And the seven gates in a person: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and the mouth.

[§45] Twelve simple letters: הוזחט״י לנסעצ״ק (he waw zayin ḥeth teth yod, lamed nun samekh ’ayin tsadhi qof). Their basis is seeing, hearing, smelling, conversing, tasting, mating, doing, walking, impatience, laughing, contemplating, sleeping.

[§47] Their measure is twelve גְבוּלֵי אֲלַכְסוֹן (gevulei alakhson), diagonal borders [or: edges, lines]: the north-eastern border, the south-eastern border, the upper eastern border, the lower eastern border, the lower northern border, the north-western border, the upper northern border, the lower western border, the south-western border, the upper western border, the lower southern border, the upper southern border. Deepening and expanding until evermore—זְרֹעֹת עוֹלָם (zero’oth olam), arms of the world (Deuteronomy 33:27) [alluding to צוּרוֹת (tsurot), forms, cf. BT Ḥagigah 12b ad loc.; Bahir §95].

[§48a] He made them a sort of lawsuit, He arranged them in battle array, One opposite the other God made them (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

[§48b] Three—each one stands by itself; seven are at loggerheads—three against three, and one is the law which holds the balance between them. Twelve stand in battle array: three love but three hate; three give life but three kill. And the divine, trustworthy King rules over them all—one on top of three, and three on top of seven, and seven on top of twelve. And they all cling to each other.

[§49a] Twelve simple letters: הוזחט״י לנסעצ״ק (he waw zayin ḥeth teth yod, lamed nun samekh ’ayin tsadhi qof). He engraved them and hewed them, He weighed them and permuted them, forming with them the twelve constellations in the world, twelve months in the year, and the twelve principal organs in a person.

These [§49b] are the twelve constellations in the world: טָלֶה (taleh), Aries, שׁוֹר (shor), Taurus, תְּאוֹמִים (te’omim), Gemini, סַרְטָן (sartan), Cancer, אַרְיֵה (arhyeh), Leo, בְּתוּלָה (bethulah), Virgo, מֹאזְנַיִם (moznayim), Libra, עַקְרָב (‘aqrhav), Scorpio, קַשָּׁת (qashath), Sagittarius, גְּדִי (gedhi), Capricorn, דְּלִי (deli), Aquarius, דָּגִים (daghim), Pisces. And these are the twelve months: נִיסָּן (Nissan), אִייָר (Iyyar), סִיוָן (Siwan), תַמוּז (Thammuz), אָב (Av), אֱלוּל (Elul), תִּשְׁרֵי (Tishrhei), מַרְחֶשְׁוָן (Marḥeshwan), כִּסְלֵו (Kislew), טֵבֵת (Teveth), שֵׁבֶט (Shevet), אֲדָר (Adhar). And these are the twelve principal organs in a person: the right hand, the left hand, the right foot, the left foot, two kidneys, the liver, the gall, the spleen, the gullet, the stomach, and the intestines. 

[§50] Three mothers, and seven doubles, and twelve simple [letters].

[§56] These are the twenty-two letters [on which] Yah YHWH of armies, God of Israel, the Living God, Almighty, high and exalted, dwelling for ever, and Holy is His Name [founded the world] (Isaiah 57:15).

[§58] Three fathers and their generations, and seven dominant ones and their hosts, and the twelve diagonal borders. And a proof for the matter—trustworthy witnesses: the world, the year and a person.

[§59a] There is a law of ten, three, seven and twelve. They are officials over the Teli, the Wheel, and the Heart.

[§59b] The Teli in the world is like a king on his throne; the Wheel in the year is like a king in a province; the Heart in a person is like a king at war.

[§60b] One opposite the other God made them (Ecclesiastes 7:14): good opposite evil—good from good and evil from evil. Good brings evil to light and evil brings good to light. Good is stored up for the good and evil is kept for the evil.

[§61] When Abraham our father gazed—looking, seeing, probing, understanding, engraving, hewing, permuting, and forming—he succeeded. Immediately the Lord of All was revealed to him, making him sit in His lap, kissing him upon the head, and calling him My lover (Isaiah 41:8), naming him His son, and making a covenant with him and his seed for ever. And he trusted in YHWH, and He reckoned it to his merit (Genesis 15:6). [And He invoked upon him the glory of YHWH, as is written, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you (Jeremiah 1:5) (MS A)]. He made with him a covenant between the ten toes of his feet—it is the covenant of circumcision. He made with him a covenant between the ten fingers of his hands—it is the covenant of the tongue. He bound twenty [-two] letters into his tongue, and the Omnipresent revealed to him His secret. He drew them out in water, he burned them with fire, he shook them in the breath, he branded them into the seven, he led them into the twelve constellations.

[§62] (1) Air and temperate state and chest; earth, cold and belly; heavens and heat and the head. This is א מ ש (alef, mem, shin).

(2) Saturn, Sabbath and the mouth; Jupiter, the first day of the week and the right eye; Mars, the second day of the week and the left eye; the Sun, the third day of the week and the right nostril; Venus, the fourth day of the week and the left nostril; Mercury, the fifth day of the week and the right ear; the Moon, the sixth day of the week and the left ear. This is בג״ד כפר״ת (beth, gimel, daleth, kaf, peh, resh, taw).

(3) Aries, Nissan, the liver; Taurus, Iyyar, the gall; Gemini, Siwan, the spleen; Cancer, Thammuz, the gullet; Leo, Av, the right kidney; Virgo, Elul, the left kidney; Libra, Tishrhei, the intestines; Scorpio, Marḥeshwan, the stomach; Sagittarius, Kislew, the right hand; Capricorn, Teveth, the left hand; Aquarius, Shevet, the right foot; Pisces, Adhar, the left foot. This is הוזחט״י לנסעצ״ק (hewawzayin, ḥeth, teth, yod, lamed, nun, samekh, ‘ayin, tsadhi, qof).

1 Three are hostile 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 There are three which are in man’s control: the feet, the hands and the mouth.

6 There are three which are not in man’s control: his two eyes, his ears and his nostrils.

7 Three evil things are heard by the ear: cursing, blasphemy and an evil report.

8 Three good things are heard by the ear: blessing, a good report 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 things 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 too much.

12 Three things are good for the tongue: silence, reticence, and speaking the truth.

Whoever understands this book and keeps it has the assurance that he is a son of the World that is Coming. This is the book of Abraham our father, peace be upon him, which is called The Book of Formation.

There is no limit to the wisdom of everyone who looks into it. And the mysteries of the upper and lower world will be revealed to everyone who occupies himself with it and studies it and knows its mysteries, and he has the assurance that he is a son of the World that is Coming. This book, which is called The Secret of Intercalation on which the whole world depends, should not be handed over to anyone except he who turns away from evil and fears אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), God, and waits and hopes for his Maker, as is said, steadfast love surrounds him who trusts in YHWH (Psalms 32:10), and it says, Israel is rescued by YHWH with an everlasting rescue, you will not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity (Isaiah 45:17).

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

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

“Three things restore one’s mind: sounds, sights, and smells” (BT Berakhot 57b).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to Your Soul

76549074“Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai: Every mitsvah which the blessed Holy One gave to Israel, He gave to them publicly, except the Sabbath which He bestowed upon them in secret, for it is said: ‘Between Me and the Israelites it is a sign for all time’ [the word לְעֹלָם (le-olam), for all time, is written defectively as if derived from, לְעֱלָם (le-elam), to conceal] (Exodus 31:17). If so, idolaters should not be punished on its account [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 2b]!—the Sabbath He indeed made known to them but its reward He did not make known to them. Or you can say: Its reward too He made known to them, the additional soul He did not make known to them; for Rabbi Shim’on son of Laqish said: On the eve of the Sabbath the blessed Holy One gives to man an additional soul and at the close of the Sabbath He withdraws it from him, for it says: He ceased וַיִּנָּפַשׁ (vayinafash), and caught His breath (Exodus 31:17)—once it [the Sabbath] has ceased וֹי אָבֵדה נֶפֶשׁ (oy avdah nefesh), woe that the soul is lost! [since וַיִּנָּפַשׁ (yenafash), and caught His breath, is numerically equivalent to מָוֶת (mavet), death (Rabbi Levi Isaac Krakovsky)]” (BT Beitsah 16a, cf. BT Ta’anit 27a).

“His students asked: What is [the vowel] חוֹלֶם (ḥolem)? He replied: It is the נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul—its name is חוֹלֶם (ḥolem). If you תִּשְׁמַע (tishema), listen, your body will be תַּחְלִים (taḥlim), reinvigorated, in the future of its builder [cf. BT Berakhot 60b]. But if you rebel against it, there will be חוֹלֶה (ḥoleh), illness, on your head, and חוֹלִים (ḥolim), illnesses, on its head” (Bahir §40).

“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).

All Blessings Above and Below Depend upon the Seventh Day

Mughal Jaisalmer India“It was taught: They related concerning Shammai, the Elder [that] all his life he ate in honor of the Sabbath. [Thus] if he found a well-favored animal he said, ‘Let this be for the Sabbath.’ [If afterwards] he found one better favoured he put aside the second [for the Sabbath] and ate the first. But Hillel the Elder had a different trait, for all his works were for the sake of heaven, for it is said: Blessed be the Master day after day (Psalms 68:20). It was likewise taught: House of Shammai says: מחד שביך לשבתיך (meḥad shabakh le’shabatikh), From the first day of the week [prepare] for your Sabbath [in Aramaic the saying sort of rhymes and is a cue to prompt people to think of the coming Sabbath]; but House of Hillel says: Blessed be the Master day after day (Psalms 68:20)” (BT Beitsah 16a).

“And on the seventh day, He ceased and breathed (Exodus 31:17). What is יִּנָּפַשׁ (yinafash), breathed? To teach you that the Sabbath sustains all הַנֶפֶשׁוֹת (ha-nefeshot), the souls [of Israel]. It is therefore written וַיִּנָּפַשׁ (vayinafash)and breathed [cf. Exodus 23:12; Psalms 19:8]” (Bahir §57).

“What is this שְׁבִיתָה (shevitah), rest? It is the absence of work. It is a cessation which is called שַׁבָּת (shabbat), Sabbath. What is this like? A king had seven gardens, and the middle one contained a fountain, welling up from a living source. Three are at its right, and three are at its left. When it performed its function and overflowed, they all rejoiced, saying, ‘It overflowed for our sake.’ It waters them and makes them grow, while they wait and rest.

Do we then say that it waters the seven? But it is written, From the east I bring your seed (Isaiah 43:5). This indicates that one of them waters it. We must therefore say that it waters the Heart, and the Heart then waters them all” (Bahir §159).

You are a fountain in the garden, a well of living waters that stream from Lebanon (Song of Songs 4:15).

“Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Every single day the world is blessed by that supernal day, for all six days are blessed by the seventh day. And every single day conveys the blessing it has received through the day inherent in it. Therefore Moses said, Let no one leave any of it over until morning (Exodus 16:19). Why? Because one day does not give or add to its fellow. Rather, every single one reigns alone in its own time, no day ruling on its fellow’s day’” (Zohar 2:63b).

“Rabbi Ammi said, ‘Rabbi Yoḥanan disputed [this practice of saying the Sabbath Eve Prayer while it is yet day].’ But he had no cause to dispute this. Why? For we are permitted to take [time] from the profane [weekdays] and add it to the holy [Sabbath]” (JT Berakhot 4:1, 13d).

“All blessings above and below depend upon the seventh day. And it has been taught: Why did manna not appear on the seventh day? Because from that day all six supernal days are blessed, and every single one conveys nourishment, each on its day, from the blessing bestowed upon it on the seventh day.

Therefore, whoever attains the rung of faith should arrange his table on the eve of Sabbath, so that his table may be blessed through out those six days [which is why House of Hillel say: Blessed be the Master day after day]. For at that time blessing is prepared for all six days of the week, and no blessing appears on an empty table. Consequently, one should arrange his table on Sabbath eve with bread and food.

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Even on the Sabbath day too!’” (Zohar 2:88a–b).

“בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), In the beginning (Genesis 1:1)—יְרֵא שַׁבָּת (yere shabbat), fear of Sabbath, which is the Shekhinah, of this it says, Those who profane it are doomed to die [for whosoever does a task on it, that person shall be cut off from the midst of his people] (Exodus 31:14)” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 24b).

Merest Breath said Qohelet, Merest Breath, All is Merest Breath

howard-sochurek-william-patterson-champion-de-ronds-de-fumc3a9e-1950.jpgהֶבֶל (Hevel), mere breath, all humankind (Psalms 39:12).

“Come and see: When actions prove worthy below, and a person contemplates the service of the Holy King, the act he performs turns into a breath above. And there is no breath without a voice—rising, crowned above, becoming an advocate before the blessed Holy One. Every action in which a person engages that is not in the service of the blessed Holy One turns into breath that goes drifting through the world. And when the person’s soul departs, that breath whirls through the world like a stone in a sling, as is written: The soul of your enemies He will sling from the hollow of a sling (1 Samuel 25:29). Who will sling? That breath conducting it around the world. So, everything done under the sun that is not in the service of the blessed Holy One turns into a breath—but it is breaking of spirit, for it breaks the spirit, rising and falling in the world, as is written: breath and shattering of spirit (Ecclesiastes 1:14)” (Zohar 2:59a).

“A spirit leaving this world who has not grown or spread in this world undergoes rolling and finds no rest, comes revolving into the world like a stone in a sling until it finds a redeemer to redeem it…. The spirit that he left, adhering to that vessel, is not lost—for nothing in the world, be it ever so small, lacks a place in which to be hidden and absorbed; it is never lost” (Zohar 2:99b).