The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: dawn

Serpentine Sorcery: Whoever is Drawn Near Becomes Defiled

“Resh Laqish said, ‘… If one comes to defile himself, he is provided an opening; if one comes to purify himself, he is assisted” (BT Shabbat 104a).

“Come and see: In the middle of the sky, a lustrous path is woven—Celestial Serpent—all gossamer stars clustered with mounds upon mounds, encharged with requiting the deeds of inhabitants of the world. Similarly, numerous bands of dazzling demons issue from this supernal, primordial serpent—by whom Adam was seduced—and they are all encharged with requiting deeds of the world.

So if a person comes to purify himself, he is assisted from above; his Lord’s assistance encircles him, and he is protected, called ‘holy.’ If a person comes to defile himself, numerous bands of dazzling demons lie in wait for him; they all hover over him, surrounding him, defiling him, and he is called ‘impure.’ They all go in front of him, proclaiming, ‘Impure! Impure!—as is said: He shall call out, ‘Impure! Impure!’ (Leviticus 13:45). All of them are linked with that primordial serpent, requiting countless deeds of the world.

Rabbi Yitsḥaq and Rabbi Yose were walking from Tiberias to Lydda. Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘I am amazed at that wicked Balaam, all of whose actions stemmed from the side of impurity! Here we learn a mystery: All species of נְחָשַׁיָּא (neḥshayya), sorcery, throughout the world are linked with, and issue from, that primordial נָחָשׁ (naḥash), serpent—slimy spirit of impurity. So all witchcraft of the world is named accordingly: נְחָשִׁים (neḥashim), serpentine sorcery, all issuing from this side. Whoever is drawn here becomes defiled. Furthermore, he must defile himself in order to draw upon himself that side of impure spirit. For we have learned: As one arouses, so he draws upon himself supernal holiness from above—and is sanctified. If one arouses the side of impurity, he draws upon himself a spirit of impurity—and is defiled. As already mentioned, we have learned that if a person comes to defile himself, he is defiled.

So in order to draw upon himself impure spirit from that supernal serpent, that wicked Balaam defiled himself every night with his donkey, engaging with her conjugally [see BT Sanhedrin 105a–b; Zohar 3:207a], in order to become defiled and draw upon himself impure spirit; then he enacted his sorcery.

To begin with, he would take one of those snakes and offer up incense before it. Then he split its head, extracted its tongue, took certain herbs, and burned everything—concocting incense. Next he took the snake’s head, split it in four, and concocted another incense. He traced a circle, recited a formula, and performed further rites—until he had drawn upon himself impure spirits, who revealed to him what he needed. Through them he accomplished his acts, by their knowledge derived from that celestial serpent. He continued his acts of sorcery until he had drawn upon himself a spirit from that primordial serpent. This is how he discovered and grasped knowledge of sorcery and divination; so it is written: He did not go, as time after time, to encounter נְחָשִׁים (neḥashim), serpentine sorceries (Numbers 24:1)—neḥashim, serpents, literally! The essential root lies in impurity, as has been said; subsequently all begins solely in this….

‘All these practices, all of Balaam’s knowledge—where did he learn it? He replied, ‘From his father. But in those mountains of the East, land of the East, he mastered all kinds of sorcery and divination—for in those mountains reside Uzza and Azael, whom the blessed Holy One had cast down from heaven. Bound in iron chains, they divulge sorcery to human beings; so from there Balaam knew, as is said: From Aram, Balak led me; Moab’s king, from mountains of the East (ibid. 23:7)” (Zohar 1:125a–126a, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 69, 97a).

This Doe has a Narrow Womb

Do you observe the calving of does? (Job 39:1)—this doe has a narrow vagina. When she crouches to give birth, I prepare a serpent which bites the vagina and she is loosened of her offspring. If it comes one second too soon or one second too late, she immediately dies” (BT Bava Batra 16b, cf. Zohar 2:111b; Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 43a).

At the tent flap sin crouches (Genesis 4:7). The serpent which bites the genitalia is the secret of ‘קַבֵּל רִנַּת עַמְּךָ שַׂגְּבֵנוּ טַהֲרֵנוּ נוֹרָא (Qabel rinnat Amekha saggvenu taharenu nora), accept Your people’s prayer. Strengthen us, purify us, You who are revered’ (Anna be-Khoaḥ)—קֶרַע שָׂטָן (qera satan), tear [of the] adversary” (Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital, Sefer ha-Liqqutim).

“נָחָשׁ (Naḥash), serpent, [שָׂטָן (satan), adversary,] and מָשִׁיחַ (mashiaḥ), Messiah, are numerically equivalent” (Rabbi Yitsḥaq ben Ya’aqov ha-Kohen, Madda’ei ha-Yahadut, 2 [1927] 273).

כְּמוֹ נָחָשׁ (Kemo naḥash), like a serpent (Psalms 140:4), and מָשִׁיחַ בֵּן דָּוִד (mashiaḥ ben david), Messiah son of David, are numerically equivalent.

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘There is one אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), doe, on earth, and the blessed Holy One does so much for her. When she cries out, the blessed Holy One hearkens to her anguish. And when the world is in need of mercy, for water, she cries aloud and the blessed Holy One listens and then feels compassion for the world, as is written As a hind longs for streams of water (Psalms 42:2). When she needs to give birth, she is totally constricted; then she puts her head between her knees, crying out and screaming, and the blessed Holy One feels compassion for her and provides her with a serpent who bites her genitalia, opening and tearing that place, and immediately she gives birth.’ Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Concerning this matter, do not ask and do not test את יהוה (et YHWH)—so it is precisely!’” (Zohar 2:52b)

As a woman with child draws near to give birth, she shudders, she shakes in her pangs, so we were before You, O YHWH (Isaiah 26:17).

“In the first month (Numbers 28:16). Rabbi Abba opened, ‘As a hart craves for streams of water, so my soul craves for You, O God (Psalms 42:2). This verse has been established. But it is written אַיָּל (ayyal), hart, and it is written אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), hind (Psalms 22:1); and all is one, for there is male and female. Even though there is male and female, this אַיָּל (ayyal), hart, is called ‘male’ and is called ‘female,’ as is written: כְּאַיָּל תַּעֲרֹג (ke-ayyal ta’arog), as a hart craves, and it is not written יַעֲרוֹג (ya’arog), [he] craves.

And it is written אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), the hind of, dawn (Psalms 22:1). What is the hind of dawn? Well, this is a certain compassionate animal, more compassionate than any in the world—for when She needs food, She goes afar on a distant journey and brings back food, and does not want to eat until She returns to her place. Why? So that the other animals may gather by Her and She can share that food with them. When She comes, all the other animals gather by Her, and She stands in the middle, distributing to each one [and the sign is in: She gets up while it is still night and provides nourishment for her house and a portion for her young women (Proverbs 31:15) (Sullam)]. By when She distributes, She is satisfied, as if She had eaten more than all [cf. BT Pesaḥim 112a, in the name of Rabbi Akiva: ‘More than the calf wants to suck, the cow wants to suckle’].

When does She distribute to them? When morning is about to come—while it is still night, and darkness lifts, lightening [as is written: She gets up while it is still night and provides nourishment for her house (Proverbs 31:15)]. Once morning shines, they are all sated with Her food.

Then a voice is aroused in the middle of the sky, proclaiming aloud: ‘You who are near, enter your places; you who are far, depart! Let each one be gathered to his appropriate place.’

As soon as the sun shines, each one is gathered to his place, as is written: When the sun rises, they gather [and in their dens they crouch] (Psalms 104:22). She goes in the day, is revealed at night, and distributes in the morning; so She is called אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), the hind of, dawn. Afterward, She is invigorated like a warrior and goes—and is called אַיָּל (ayyal), a hart.

Where does She go? She goes sixty phrasings from the place that She left, and enters the Mountains of Darkness, where She catches the scent of food. She proceeds into that Mountain of Darkness, and a certain tortuous serpent catches the scent of Her foot and follows Her; and She climbs from there toward the Mountain of Light. Once She arrives there, the blessed Holy One summons for Her another serpent, who emerges and attacks the other one, and She is saved. From there She takes food, and returns to Her place at midnight, She begins to distribute until the darkness of morning lifts. Once the day dawns, She goes and is no longer seen, as has been said.

When the world needs rain, all the other animals gather toward Her, and She ascends to the top of a high mountain, and, wrapping Her head between Her knees, She lets out one low after another. And the blessed Holy One hears Her voice, and is filled with mercy, and takes pity on the world. She descends from the top of the mountain, and runs and hides Herself, and all the other animals run after Her, but do not find Her—as is written: As a hart craves for streams of water. What is meant by for streams of water? For those that have dried up, and the world is thirsting for water; so she craves.

When She is pregnant, She is stopped up. When the time comes for Her to give birth, She lows and cries out, cry after cry—up to seventy cries, equaling the number of words in May YHWH answer you on the day of distress (Psalms 20:2), which is the song for a pregnant woman. The blessed Holy One hears Her and is ready for Her: He brings forth a great serpent from the Mountains of Darkness, and it comes through the mountains, its mouth licking the dust. It reaches this hart and comes and bites Her twice in that place [cf. BT Gittin 69b].

The first time, blood comes out, and it licks it up. The second time, water comes out, and all those animals of the mountains drink, and She is opened and gives birth. Your mnemonic is: He struck the rock with his staff twice: and it is written and the community, with its beasts, drank (Numbers 20:11) [cf. Shemot Rabbah 3:13].

At the moment when the blessed Holy One takes pity on Her—through the act of this serpent—what is written? The voice of YHWH brings on the birth pangs of hinds… (Psalms 29:9). The voice of YHWH brings on the birth pangs of hinds—those pangs and pains, arousing those seventy cries. Immediately, and strips the forests bare (ibid.)—to remove that serpent, exposing it among them to go away” (Zohar 3:249a–b, cf. ibid. 2:219b–220a; 3:68b [RM]).

“One might suggest that after seventy [years] She will feel [birth-pangs], and in two years She will give birth one thousand and two hundred years after [the destruction of the Second Temple, that is to say, after the end of the Fifth Millennium, which is all destruction, and a further two hundred years into the Sixth Millennium, and seventy years for the birth-pangs, and two years for the birth itself] coming to the year 272 [of the Sixth Millennium]. But it is written: Before she travailed, she brought forth; [before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child] (Isaiah 66:7). And the secret of the matter is contained in the verse: And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear (ibid. 65:24). And what is the meaning of before? Before the completion of the seventy years and the two years following the passing of one thousand and two hundred years, the birth-pangs, two Messiahs will be revealed to the world. And at that time: And in His palace all says glory (Psalms 29:9). And it has already been taught: The wise inherit כָּבוֹד (kavod)glory (Proverbs 3:35).

And at that time, those Torah sages will be respected, those who suffered pangs and travails as a woman in labor, and who were despised by the ignorant; they will be honored. And immediately: YHWH was enthroned at the flood (Psalms 29:10) on account of the wicked. Flood—judgments of the flood, when All the wellsprings of the great deep burst [and the casements of the heavens were opened] (Genesis 7:11), at the time of the flood. So, too, judgments will rise over them above and below, with no end. And every contempt and disgrace shown by the idolatrous nations of the world towards YHWH and His people and the many insults that Israel suffered from them for the sake of YHWH’s Name—for all of them the blessed Holy One will exact vengeance, and therefore, as far as they are concerned, [God is jealous, and YHWH avenges;YHWH avenges, and is furious; [YHWH will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies] (Nahum 1:2).

In the first month (Numbers 28:16). What is the first month? It is Nisan, which is when that animal gave birth, in accord with the teaching of the Masters of Mishnah: ‘In the month of Nisan they were redeemed, and in the month of Nisan they will be redeemed'[נִיסָן (Nisan) is the month of נִסִים (nisim), miracles] (BT Rosh ha-Shanah 11a). And this is with His יָד (yad), hand [which is numerically equivalent to fourteen, according to the secret of the verse:] And he said, ‘For יָד (yad), hand, upon Yah’s throne: [War for YHWH against Amalek from all time] (Exodus 17:16), when He swore to remove the seed of Esau, Amalek, from the world. At that time: Draw out and take yourselves sheep according to your clans and slaughter the Passover offering (Exodus 12:21), [where the meaning of] מִשְׁכוּ (mishkhu)draw out, is as in the verse: מָשַׁךְ יָדוֹ (mashak yado)he stretched out his hand, with scoffers (Hosea 7:5).

At that time, thus said YHWH: ‘To the rulers who transgressed against Me: neither shall they enter into the land of Israel (Ezekiel 13:9)—the shepherds of the flock, the supporters of the generation. Wherefore it is said about them: Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably to her (Hosea 2:16). And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I enter into judgment with you face to face. Like I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I enter into judgment with you, says YHWH God (Ezekiel 20:35–36), [namely] whom He killed in the plague of darkness” (Zohar 3:249a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineas).

“A voice issued… O low, sleeping ones, closed-eyed, awake! Who among you turns darkness into light, bitter into sweet before arriving here? Who among you awaits each day the light that shines when the King visits the doe and is glorified…? Whoever does not await this each day… has no portion here” (Zohar 1:4a).

“Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] says: The rising column of the moon is different from that of the sun. The light column of the moon rises straight like a stick, the light column of the sun [the dawn] irradiates in all directions… Just as the antlers of the doe branch off this way and that way, so the light of the dawn is scattered in all directions—Rabbi Zera said: Why was Esther compared to a אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), doe [BT Megillah 15b]? To tell you that just as a doe has a narrow womb and is desirable to her mate at all times as at the first time, so was Esther precious to King Ahasuerus at all times as at the first time. Rabbi Assi said: Why was Esther compared to the dawn [see BT Eruvin 54b]? To tell you that just as the dawn is the end of the whole night, so is the story of Esther the end of all the miracles. But there is Ḥanukkah?—we refer to those included in Scripture” (BT Yoma 28b–29b).

Leave Your Father’s House, Go to Yourself!

Image“[Abraham] already knew and tested all those rulers conducting the entire inhabited world; he already balanced and tested those who ruled throughout the world, conducting stars and constellations—who overpowered whom. He had succeeded in balancing the entire inhabited world, but when he reached this site [the land of Canaan] he saw an unbearable, impenetrable potency of depths.

Once the blessed Holy One saw his arousal and desire, He immediately revealed Himself to him, saying Go to yourself (Genesis 12:1), to know yourself to refine yourself. From your land—from that habitation to which you clung. From your birthplace—from that wisdom through which you envision and gauge your birth, the precise moment you were born, under which star and constellation. From your father’s house—do not consider your father’s house, whether you are rooted in your father’s house to succeed in the world. So, Go you forth!—from this wisdom, this speculation” (Zohar 1:78a).

“The emperor said to Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Ḥananiah, ‘I wish to behold your God.’ … He went and placed the emperor facing the sun during the summer solstice. He said to him, ‘Look at it.’ He replied, ‘I cannot.’ Rabbi Yehoshu’a said, ‘If at the sun—which is but one of the ministering servants of the blessed Holy One—you admit you cannot look, how much more so the Shekhinah” (BT Ḥullin 59b–60a).

“Rabbi Ya’aqov of the village of Naburaya in Tyre expounded: To You silence is praise, God, in Zion (Psalms 65:1)—silence sums it all up, as regarding a priceless pearl, all who attempt to praise it [merely] diminish its value’” (JT Berakhot 9:1, 4f).

“Rabbi Yose and Rabbi iyya were traveling on the road. As they were going along, night dusked; they sat down. While they were sitting, the day lightened. They said, ‘Let us rise and go on.’ They rose and went on; morning began to glow.

Rabbi iyya said, ‘Look at the face of the east, how it shines! Now all those children of the East, of mountains of light, are bowing to this light and worshiping it before the sun comes out. For once the sun comes out, how many there are who worship the sun! But these are those who worship this light, calling this light—which shines in the zone of the sun before it emerges—‘God of the shining pearl,’ and their oath is by ‘God of the shining pearl.’

‘Now, you might say, ‘This worship is in vain.’ But since ancient, primeval days they have thereby known wisdom. When the sun lightens, before emerging, the prince appointed over the sun emerges, with holy letters of the supernal holy Name inscribed above the head of the sun. By the powers of those letters, he opens all the windows of heaven, striking them and passing. That prince enters the radiance shining around the sun, and there he remains until the sun comes forth, spreading through the world. That prince is in charge of gold and all rubies, and they worship that image there. With points and signs inherited from the ancients, from primeval days, they come to know the points of the sun, enabling them to find the location of gold and gems.’

Rabbi Yose said, ‘How long will all these rites persist in the world! Surely falsehood has no pillars on which to stand [cf. BT Shabbat, 104a]!’

The other one opened, saying, ‘The lip of truth will be established forever, but the tongue of falsehood lasts only a moment (Proverbs 12:19). Come and see: If all inhabitants of the world worshiped falsehood, it would be so. But the light and shining radiance are surely true; stars aloft in the sky are true. If out of stupidity and deficiency, they call them ‘God,’ the blessed Holy One does not wish to destroy His own creation. Even in the time to come, the stars and luminaries of the world will not be destroyed. But who will be destroyed? Those who worship them [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 54b]” (Zohar 2:188a).