The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: dark

Dark and Desirable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wise & Foolish


“Rabbi Giddal said in Rav’s name: Any disciple of the wise who sits before his Rav and his lips do not drip bitterness [from dread (Rashi)] they shall be burnt, as is said, his lips are lilies dripping myrrh (Song of Songs 5:13). Do not read מוֹר עֹבֵר (mor over), dripping myrrh, but rather מַר עֹבֵר (mar over), dripping bitterness; do not read שׁוֹשַׁנִּים (shoshanim), lillies, but rather שֶׁשּׁוֹנִים (she-shonim), that repeat [i.e., the lips of those who repeat drip bitterness]? There is no difficulty: This [applies] to a Rav, and that to a disciple. And if you wish, say both refer to a Rav, yet there is no difficulty: The one [means] before he starts; the other, after he starts. Like Rabbah, who before he opened [his lesson] for the Rabbis used to say something humorous and the Rabbis were amused. After that he sat in dread and opened with the import [of his lesson]” (BT Shabbat 30b).

“It has been taught: It is incumbent upon a person who studies wisdom to study some foolishness and know it, because thereby wisdom derives benefitjust as light derives some benefit from darkness, for were it not for darkness, light would not be recognized and the world would gain no benefit from it…. This may be compared to sweet with bitter, for a person does not know the taste of sweet until he tastes bitter. What makes this sweet? You must admit, bitter. This corresponds to what is written: One against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14)” (Zohar 3:47b).

“There is no worship of the blessed Holy One except from darkness [i.e., doubt], and there is no good except from evil” (Zohar 2:184a).