The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: bride

All the Time, Constantly, Chastening Them Little by Little

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“Rava said: What is written, אִם בְּפִידוֹ לָהֶן שִׁוֵּ֑עַ (Im befido lahen shivea’), but one would not reach out against a heap of ruins if in his disaster he screamed (Job 30:24)?—the blessed Holy One said to Israel, ‘When I judge Israel, I do not judge them as I do the nations, as is written, I will overturn, overturn, overturn it (Ezekiel 21:32) but I only exact payment from them as the hen does her כְּפִיד (kefid), picking’ [playing on בְּפִידוֹ (befido), in his disaster].

Another interpretation: Even if Israel does before Me but few mitsvot, like hens picking in a rubbish heap, I will make it accumulate לְחֶשְׁבּוֹן (le-ḥeshbon), to a (large) sum, as is said, If כְּפִידוּ (kefidu), they pick, לָהֶן שׁוּעַ (lahen shu’a), they are rescued (Job 30:24)….

Rabbi Abbahu would praise Rav Safra to the sectarian heretics as a great man, and he was exempted by them from paying taxes for thirteen years. One day they found him and they said to him; ‘It is written: [Hear this word that YHWH has spoken concerning you, O Israelites, concerning the entire clan that I brought up from Egypt, saying:Only with you was I intimate of all the clans of the earth. Therefore will I make a reckoning with you for all your crimes (Amos 3:1–2). If one is in anger does one vent it on one’s friend?’ But he was silent and could give them no answer; so they wound a scarf round his neck and tormented him. When Rabbi Abbahu came and found him he said to them, Why do you torment him? They said, ‘Have you not told us that he is a great man? But he did not [even] know [how] to tell us the explanation of this verse!’ He said, ‘I told you [that he was learned] in the Tanna’im; did I tell you [he was learned] in Scripture?’ They said: ‘How is it then that you know it?’ He said: ‘We who are frequently with you, set ourselves the task of studying it thoroughly, but others do not study it as carefully.’ They said, ‘Will you then tell us the meaning?’ He said: ‘I will administer a parable: To what can the matter be compared? To a man who is lends money to two people, one of them a friend, the other an enemy; of his friend he will accept payment little by little, whereas of his enemy he will exact payment in one sum!’” (BT Avodah Zarah 4a).

“Rabbi Eli’ezer said: It is like a king who became angry at his son, and who had in his hand a sword. The king swore he would pass the sword on his son because he angered him. But later the king said, If I do so, my son will no longer live. But also, he could not nullify the royal decree. What did the king do? He placed the sword into its sheath and passed the sword on his son’s head.

Rabbi Ḥanina said: It is like a king who became angry with his son. He had in front of him a boulder and swore that he would heave it at him. But later the king said: If I heave it at him he will no longer live. What did he do? He crushed the boulder into pebbles and tossed them at his son one at a time. It turned out that he neither hurt his son nor nullified his royal decree” (Midrash Tehillim 6:3).

“Rav Hamnuna the First, ‘Distress and affliction of Israel bring them many benefits and advantages. The ease of other nations brings them many evils. דְּחִיקוּ (Deḥiqu), distress, and affliction of Israel brings them benefit and advantage. What is that? כָּלָּה (Kallah), Bride—כֹּלָּא דָּחִיק (kolla daḥiq), all pointed [i.e., vocalized with vowels]. רִפְיוֹן (Rifyon), ease, of the other nations brings them rifyon, weakness, and evil. What is that? כָלָה (Khalah), complete destruction (Jeremiah 46:28). This is just what they deserve, for all the rifyon, ease—without deḥiqu, distress—that they had in this world causes them rifyon, weakness, afterward, without deḥiqu, pointing: כָלָה (khalah), complete destruction; For כָלָה וְנֶחֱרָצָה (khalah ve-neḥeratsah), a decreed destruction, I have heard (Isaiah 28:22); For I will make כָלָה (khalah), a complete destruction, all in rifyon, weakness. But for Israel, who had deḥiqu, distress, and affliction—כַּלָּה (Kallah), A bride, will adorn herself with her ornaments (ibid. 61:10). Who are her ornaments? Israel, who are the ornaments of this Bride.

For Israel, who endured distress and affliction, I will raise the fallen booth of David (Amos 9:11)—the booth of peace. For the other nations, who had rifyon, ease—torment, trouble and torment (Isaiah 30:6); כָלָה (khalah)complete destruction, in rifyon, weakness, as they had before. So, For I will make כָלָה (khalah)an end, of all the nations… but of you I will not make khalah, an end—since you were already deḥiqu, distressed, and כַּלָּה (Kallah), the Bride, will be deḥiqu, pointed [cf. BT Berakhot 6b, in the name of Abbaye; Zohar 3:239a (RM); TZ 12, 27a; ZḤ 118c (Tiq)].

I will chasten you לַמִּשְׁפָּט (la-mishpat), for justice (Jeremiah 46:28). This verse should be read I will chasten you בַמִּשְׁפָּט (va-mishpat), in justice—for when are chastenings? At the time of judgment. Yet here, not so; rather I will chasten you la-mishpat, for justice. However, it is written: YHWH will enter בְּמִשְׁפָּט (be-mishpat), into judgment, against the elders of His people (Isaiah 3:14). On that day, the blessed Holy One will provide a remedy for Israel in advance, before they appear for judgment, so that they will be able to endure. What is that? All the time, constantly, He chastens them little by little, so that when they appear for judgment, it will not prevail over them.

And I will surely not leave you unpunished (Jeremiah 46:28). What is meant by that? Well, when the people of Israel are by themselves—not appearing for judgment with the other nations—the blessed Holy One deals with them beyond the line of strict justice, atoning for them. When they appear for judgment among the other nations, what does He do? The blessed Holy One knows that Samael, the guardian [of the other nations], will come to call attention to Israel’s sins, all of which he has accumulated for himself for the Day of Judgment. So He provides a remedy for them in advance, and for every single sin He strikes them with chastening little by little. When they appear for judgment, Samael comes with many lists against them. The blessed Holy One takes out lists of the chastenings that Israel has endured for every single sin, and all the sins are expunged—without His showing them any leniency at all. Then [Samael’s] power and strength fade, and he cannot prevail against them” (Zohar 3:199a–b).

And She Shall Count for Herself Seven Days

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“Rabbi Abba and Rabbi Ḥiyya were walking along the way. Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘It is written: And you shall count you from the morrow of the sabbath, from the day you bring the elevation sheaf, [seven complete weeks shall they be] (Leviticus 23:15). What does this indicate?’

He replied, ‘The Companions have established this but come and see: When the people of Israel were in Egypt, they were under alien domination and were gripped by impurity, like a woman sitting in days of impurity. After they were circumcised, they entered the holy portion called Covenant. Once they were joined to this, their impurity ceased, as when a woman’s blood of impurity ceases. After [the blood] ceases, what is written? [When she becomes purified from her flux,] she shall count for herself seven days [and after shall be clean] (Leviticus 15:28). Similarly here, once they entered the holy portion, their impurity ceased, and the blessed Holy One said, ‘From now on, a counting for purity.’ You shall count for yourselvesyourselves, precisely, as said: She shall count for herself, for her own self. Here, too, for yourselves—for your own selves. Why? To be purified by supernal holy waters, and afterward to come join the King and receive His Torah.

It is written: She shall count for herself seven days (Leviticus 15:28); here, too, seven weeks. Why seven weeks? To attain being purified by waters of the flowing, gushing river, called ‘living waters’ [Binah]. From that river issue seven weeks—so seven weeks surely, to attain it.

‘Just as a woman’s purity takes effect at night [after immersing herself in a miqveh], to join conjugally with her husband, so it is written When the dew would descend on the camp at night (Numbers 11:9). It is written on the camp, and not, When the dew would descend at night. And when did this dew descend? When Israel approached Mount Sinai—then that dew descended perfectly and they were purified, their filth ceasing, and they joined the King and received the Torah and Assembly of Israel, as we have established. At that time surely, All the streams flow into the Sea (Ecclesiastes 1:7)—to be purified and washed—and all are sanctified and joined with the Holy King.’

‘Come and see: if anyone does not reckon this count—those seven weeks—to attain this purity, he is not called ‘pure’ and is not in the category of pure, nor is he worthy of having a share in Torah. But if one arrives pure on this day and has not lost count, when he reaches this night he should delve into Torah and join her, preserving the supernal purity that comes upon him on that night, purifying him” (Zohar 3:97a–b, cf. BT Menaot 65b–66a).

“Certainly, in your prayer and in your recital of the Shema, the Shekhinah is renewed before the blessed Holy One and this is why it is said: [Until the morrow of the seventh sabbath you shall count fifty days] and you shall bring forward a new grain offering to YHWH (Leviticus 23:16). By the prayers which are instead of the sacrifices. But in which sacrifices, [namely] prayers, is She renewed? In your Festival of Weeks (Numbers 28:26), namely Shavuoth, which is when Torah was given, and which is called fifty days of the counting of the Omer, and which comprises seven weeks, from the side of the one about whom it is said: Seven times daily I praise You (Psalms 119:164), which is Malkhut, who is כַּלָה (kalah), bride, and is composed of the seven sefirot and is composed of Binah; and it spreads out in five sefirot of fifty.

Yesod [which is called] כֹּל (Kol), All (1 Chronicles 29:11) is composed of these fifty, [namely Ḥesed, Gevurah, Tif’eret, Netsaḥ, and Hod, each of which is composed of ten. Malkhut is called כַּלָה (kalah), bride, [the letters of which can also be read]: כֹּל ה (kol he) [numerically equivalent to fifty and five, namely] five [sefirot] composed of fifty. Each of them is enclosed within the fifty. Ḥokhmah, which is upper י (yod) is enclosed within the fifty, for ה״ (five) times י״ (ten). ה (He) is Binah and י (yod) is Ḥokhmah, [and there are י (yod) and ה (he) in Ḥokhmah, which when multiplied by each other, make fifty, and there are י (yod) and ה (he) in Binah; and when] י״ (ten) is [multiplied] by ה״ (five), the result is fifty, and this is the sum of כֹּל (Kol), All, and the numerical value of יָם (Yam), Sea [for Binah is called Sea, whose sum is fifty]. And the reference is to the Sea of Torah [where from Binah, which is called ‘Sea,’ emerges Torah, which is Ze’eir Anpin]. Its origin is Keter, which is infinite. The remaining sefirot are named after it: Seven Seas. And Malkhut [is] the יָם סוּף (Yam Suf), Sea of Reeds, the סוֹף דְּכָל יָמִים (sof de-khal yamim), end of all seas.

And because [each one of the] the seven weeks is fifty: And their grain offering… three-tenths for the single bull, two-tenths for the single ram (Numbers 28:28), making altogether five [tenths] which are five times ten. And their grain offering mixed with oil, three-tenths for the single bull, two-tenths for the single ram. A tenth for every single lamb of the seven lambs (Numbers 29:9). Seven lambsseven whole Sabbaths shall they be (Leviticus 23:15) and each one has six days [sefirot] with it” (Zohar 3:255a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

To the Daughter’s Father Fifty Weights of Silver

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“What is this Torah? She says: We are a bride adorned and crowned, and all the mitsvot are included within [us]. She is Treasury of the Torah and the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, as is written, ‘Torah did Moses charge us, a heritage for Jacob’s assembly! (Deuteronomy 33:4). Do not read מוֹרָשָׁה (morashah), a heritage, but rather מְאוֹרָסָה (me’orasah), the betrothed‘ (BT Berakhot 57a; Pesaḥim 49b) [cf. Avot 2:17; Bemidbar Rabbah 8:2]. How is this so? When the people of Israel study Torah for her own sake, then she is the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, then she is the heritage of Israel” (Bahir §196).

“When Torah was given, Her tablets, likened to virginity, were broken. And the blessed Holy One again gave Her to Israel to keep Her [as] Oral Torah called הֲלָכָה (Halakhah) [alluding to הַכַּלָה (ha-kalah), the Bride] given to Moses on Sinai. And the groom of Torah broke Her virginity. Whoever speaks ill of Her since Her tablets were broken, the blessed Holy One, who is the girl’s Father—that daughter who is in בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit) [i.e., בַּת רָאשֵׁי (bat rashei), ‘first daughter,’ or: בַּת רֹאשִׁי (bat roshi), ‘daughter of My head,’ see TZ 5, 10a] the King’s daughter—spoke: My daughter I gave to this man as wife, and he hated her. And look, he has imputed misconduct, saying, ‘I found no signs of virginity for your daughter,’ but these are the signs of My daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread out the garment before the elders of the town (Deuteronomy 22:17), and the parchment of Torah scroll unfolds, and they shall see written inside, Carve you two stone tablets like the first ones, and I shall write on the tablets the words which were on the first tablets that you smashed (Exodus 34:1).

Immediately Elijah rose with all the heads of the academy and they blessed him. And He said, ‘Sinai, Sinai, it would have been worthy for us to listen to your words and be silent, yet with permission from the blessed Holy One and His Shekhinah, I wish to say something to you, in your honor.’ He said to him, ‘Speak.’

[Elijah] opened, saying [Moses] Faithful Shepherd, ‘The blessed Holy One gave this Bride of yours to Abraham to bring up for you. And since he kept Her She is called his daughter. This is what is meant by the saying that Abraham had a daughter whose name was בַּכֹּל (Bakol) [see BT Bava Batra 16b]. By Her he observed the whole Torah even to the עֵירוּבֵי תַּבְשִׁילִין (eruvei tavshilin), Mixing of Dishes [an action allowing one to cook on a holiday for Sabbath. On the Patriarchs keeping the whole Torah even before it was given, see M Qiddushin 4:14 on Genesis 26:5, cf. Vayiqra Rabbah 2:10]. This is the meaning of [Abraham has listened בְּקֹלִי (be-qoli), to My voice] and has kept My charge [My commandments, My statutes, and My teachings] (Genesis 26:5). And he brought Her up, as written, And he became a guardian to Hadassah (Esther 2:7). And the blessed Holy One blessed him for Her sake, as written, YHWH had blessed Abraham in בַּכֹּל (ba-kol), all things (Genesis 24:1) [cf. Bava Batra 16b]. He brought Her up with every good quality and was kind to Her. He raised her to greatness, with the quality of חֶסֶד (ḥesed), Kindness, of Abraham. His house was, for Her sake, wide open to do kindness to all the people of the world….’

Should a man find a virgin young woman who is not betrothed… (Deuteronomy 22:28). The decree is to punish the seducer with fifty shekels of silver. Should a man find a virgin young woman who is not betrothed—these are Israel, who, from the aspect of the Shekhinah are called ‘Daughter.’ And take hold of her and lie with her, and they be found, the man lying with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty weights of silver, and she shall be his wife inasmuch as he abused her. He shall not be able to send her away all his days (ibid., 28-29). The Sages and all the members of the academy say: a man—this is Israel from the aspect of the blessed Holy One [Tif’eret]. And take hold of her—with the knot of tefillin and with tsitsit. Who is not betrothed—an only daughter, who is the נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), life-breath. And lie with her—with the prayer of lying down, namely הַשְׁכִּיבֵנוּ (hashkivenu), ‘Cause us to lie down.’ Shall give to the young woman’s father fifty weights of silver—these are the twenty-five and twenty-five letters of the unification [i.e., the recital of Shema]….

In relation to Secrets of Torah we must employ an allegory. There is a נִשְׁמְתָא (nishmeta), soul, that is the Matronita, and there is a soul that is a slavegirl, such as in: And should a man sell his daughter as a slavegirl (Exodus 21:7). And there is a soul that is a common slavegirl—so are most of the sons of men. There is he who is a slave to the soul. Sometimes the soul goes in the mystery of cycling: but the יּוֹנָה (yonah), dove, found no resting place for the sole of her foot (Genesis 8:9) [יּוֹנָה (yonah), dove, and גִּלְגּוּל (gilgul), life-cycle, are numerically equivalent]. And the evil impulse chases her to enter that body, a slavegirl to the evil impulse. He is a שֵׁד יְהוּדִי (shed yehudi), Jewish demon, and the soul is י (yod), the Hebrew slave [see Exodus 21:2–6; cf. BT Qiddushin 16a. On Jewish demons, see BT Pesaḥim 110a; Yevamot 122a and Rashi; Zohar 3:253a (RM); ZḤ 47 (MhN, Rut), 48d; cf. BT Gittin 66a] in which this שֵׁד (shed), demon, becomes שַׁדַּי (Shaddai) because it kept guard of the soul and repented through her, and with her blessed the blessed Holy One daily with ‘בָרוּך (Barukh), blessed…’ and with it sanctifies the blessed Holy One with ‘Holy, holy, holy,’ (Qedushah) and with it declares the unity of the blessed Holy One with the recital of Shema.

What used to be a demon turns into her angel—Metatron turns into Shaddai, since מְטַטְרוֹן (Metatron) is the sum of שַׁדַּי (Shaddai) [see BT Sanhderin 38b]. Immediately there is fulfilled in her And she shall be his wife, he shall not be able to send her away ever (Deuteronomy 22:19). But if he does not repent she is enslaved in him through the offences he committed and it shall be fulfilled in him, the wife and her children shall be her master’s (Exodus 21:4) [cf. Zohar 2:106a (SdM)], and it says of the demon which is her debtor: and he shall go out by himself (ibid.). That demon is like Moses’ staff that turns from a staff into a snake and from a snake into a staff [see Exodus 4:2]. So does this demon turn from a demon into an angel and from an angel into a demon, according to human deeds” (Zohar 3:277a, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

He Crossed His Hands

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He was limping on his thigh (Genesis 32:32), נֵצַח יִשְׂרָאֵל (Netsaḥ Yisra’el), Eternity of Israel (1 Samuel 15:29). It is written: his thigh; not: his thighs. This is the fourth rung, from which no human prophesied until Samuel arrived, and of which is written: Moreover, נֵצַח יִשְׂרָאֵל (Netsaḥ Yisra’el), the Eternal One of Israel, does not Lie or change His mind (ibid.). Then this rung was mended, for it had been week ever since Jacob was endangered by the Prince of Esau. 

He touched the socket of his thigh (Genesis 32:26). When he reached Jacob, he seized power from that turning of the evening [cf. Genesis 24:63] in severe judgment. Jacob had merged with it, so he could not prevail against him. When he saw that he could not prevail against him, he touched the socket of his thigh—he seized the power of judgment from there, for the thigh is outside the torso. Jacob was the torso, comprising mystery of two rungs, mystery called אָדָם (adam), human. Once he seized power outside the torso, immediately the socket of Jacob’s thigh was wrenched (ibid.), and no human prophesied from there until Samuel arrived.

So concerning נֵצַח יִשְׂרָאֵל (Netsaḥ Yisra’el), the Eternal One of Israel, it is written: For He is not human (1 Samuel, ibid.). Joshua prophesied from the הוֹד (Hod), Splendor, of Moses, as is written: Confer מֵהוֹדְךָ (me-hodekha), of your splendor, upon him (Numbers 27:20). This is the fifth rung, נֵצַח (Netsaḥ), Eternity, left thigh of Jacob. So David came and combined it with the right, as is written: Delights in Your right hand נֶצַח (netsaḥ), for eternity (Psalms 16:11)—not Your right hand, but in Your right hand” (Zohar 1:21b, cf. ibid. 3:136b, [IR]).

“Spreading of goodness is הוֹדָאָה (hoda’ah), thanksgiving, which is called Ḥesed, and so it consists of ‘We thank you’ for such-and-such miracles and signs performed from the side of goodness. Now, you might say, ‘Look at what is written: delights in Your right hand for נֶצַח (netsaḥ), eternity (Psalms 16:11)—so it is on the right side!’ Not so! Rather, every single one indicates the place from which it emerged. And if you say, ‘Netsaḥ is on the right,’ look at what is written: נְעִמוֹת (ne’imot), delights, and it is written: נְעִים (ne’im), sweet, singer of Israel (2 Samuel 23:1)! This is left, and every left is included in mystery of right; but הוֹדָאָה (hoda’ah), thanksgiving, indicates the right, showing that it emerged from there, and this is spreading of goodness, spreading into Land of Living” (Zohar 2:168b–69a, cf. Rabbi Yehudah Ḥayyat, Minḥat Yehudah, on Ma’arekhet ha-Elohut, 103).

And Joseph took the two of them, Ephraim with his right hand to Israel’s left and Manasseh with his left hand to Israel’s right, and brought them near him. And Israel stretched out his right hand and placed it on Ephraim’s head, yet he was younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head—he crossed his hands—though Manasseh was the firstborn… And Joseph saw that his father had placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, and it was wrong in his eyes, and he took hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. And his father refused and he said, ‘I know, my son. I know (Genesis 48:13–17).

“From the right of Abraham, whose rung is Ḥesed, He takes vengeance on Ishmael and his prince, and from the left of Isaac, whose rung is פַּחַד (paḥad), Terror, He takes vengeance on Esau and his appointed prince by means of two Messiahs, one of whom, Messiah son of David, is from the right, while the other, Messiah son of Joseph, is from the left. And the rung of Jacob that corresponds to them, in the mystery of changing his hands (Genesis 48:14) [cf. BT Yoma 53b]—the lion, to the left, and the ox to the right, to Ishmael. And since Judah was exiled in Esau, it follows that the right of holiness is with the left of Esau, and likewise the left of holiness is with the impure right of Ishmael. Until שִׁילֹה (Shiloh), come (Genesis 49:10) [cf. BT Sanhedrin 98b]—Shiloh, who is [Moses] the Faithful Shepherd [since the numerical valueof שִׁילֹה (Shiloh), is equal to מֹשֶׁה (moshe), Moses], whose rung is Tif’eret Israel [the middle pillar]. He will take vengeance from the motley throng. In these three rungs כֹּהֲנִים לְוִיִּם וְיִשְׂרְאֵלִים (kohanimlevi’imve-yisraelim), Priests, Levites, and Israelites, will be recalled from the Exile, and with them [His כְּלִי (keli), weapon] He takes vengeance upon Esau, Ishmael, and the motley throng. Just as the motley throng is intermingled with Esau and Ishmael, so Jacob is composed of Abraham and Isaac for he is a mixture of the two of them. So too, Shiloh [Moses the Faithful Shepherd] is intermingled with Messiah son of David and Messiah son of Joseph and he will be the link between the two of them, as at the time that Bilaam saw in his prophecy [see Genesis 49:10]. For thus the two Messiahs are connected with the Faithful Shepherd, like the three patriarchs, in the final exile” (Zohar 3:245a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

She Reveals Herself to No One but Her Lover

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“A bride who lives in the house of her father. So long as her eyes are beautiful her body needs no examination” (BT Ta’anit 24a).

She says: We are a bride adorned and crowned, and all the mitsvot are included within [us]. She is Treasury of the Torah and the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, as is written, ‘Torah did Moses charge us, a heritage for Jacob’s assembly! (Deuteronomy 33:4). Do not read מוֹרָשָׁה (morashah), a heritage, but rather מְאוֹרָסָה (me’orasah), the betrothed‘ (BT Berakhot 57a; Pesaḥim 49b) [cf. M Avot 2:17; Bemidbar Rabbah 8:2]. How is this so? When the people of Israel study Torah for her own sake, then she is the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, then she is the heritage of Israel. How is this so? When Israel engages in Torah for Her own sake, then She is the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, then She is the heritage of Israel” (Bahir §196).

“Who is a beautiful maiden without eyes, her body concealed and revealed, she emerges in the morning and is concealed by day, adorning herself with adornments which are not?… Torah [who] emerges from her sheath, is seen for a moment, then quickly hides away—certainly so, but when she reveals herself from her sheath and quickly hides, she does so only for those who know her and recognize her. This may be compared to a beloved, beautiful in form and appearance, concealed secretly in her palace. She has a single lover unknown to anyone—except to her, concealedly. Out of the love that he feels for her, this lover passes by her gate constantly, lifting his eyes to every side. Knowing that her lover hovers about her gate constantly, what does she do? She opens a little window in her hidden palace, revealing her face to her lover, then swiftly withdraws, concealing herself. No one near him sees or reflects, only the lover, and his heart and his soul and everything within him flow out to her. He knows that out of love for him she revealed herself for that one moment to awaken love in him. So it is with a word of Torah: she reveals herself to no one but her lover” (Zohar 2:94b–95a, 99a, cf. Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 4b; Rabbi Moshe de Léon, Sheqel ha-Qodesh 113).

“He מְסַפֵּר (mesaper), ‘relates,’ with me neither at the beginning nor at the end of the night, but at midnight; and when he ‘converses,’ he uncovers a hand breadth and covers a hand breadth, and is as though he were compelled by a שֵׁד (shed), demon [alt., שָׁד (shad), breast]” (BT Nedarim 20b).

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).