The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: demon

Like a Weaned Babe

original“Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai: What is the meaning of the verse, She opens her mouth in wisdom, teaching of kindness is on her tongue (Proverbs 31:26). To whom was Solomon alluding in this verse? He was alluding only to his father David who dwelt in five worlds and composed a psalm [for each of them]. He dwelt in his mother’s womb, and broke into song, as it says, Bless, O my being, YHWH, and everything in me, His holy name (Psalms 103:1). He emerged into the atmosphere of the world and looked upon the stars and constellations and broke into song, as it says, Bless YHWH, O His messengers, valiant in power, performing His word, to heed the sound of His word. Bless YHWH, all His armies… (Psalms 103:20–21). יֹנֵק מִשְּׁדֵי אִמּוֹ (Yoneq mi-shedei immo), he sucked from his mother’s breast, and looked on her bosom and broke into song, as it says, Bless, O my being, YHWH, and do not forget all His generous acts (ibid., 2) [connecting גְּמוּלָיו (gemulav), all His generous acts, with גְּמוּלֵי מֵחָלָב (gemulei me-ḥalav), weaned from milk (Isaiah 28:9)]. What is גְּמוּלָיו (gemulav), all His generous acts?—Rabbi Abbahu said: That He placed her breasts at the source of understanding [i.e., the heart, the seat of understanding, see Deuteronomy 6:5; Proverbs 2:2, 10; Sefer Yetsirah §59b].

For what reason is this?—Rav Yehudah said: So that he should not look upon the place of nakedness; Rav Mattena said: So that he should not suck from a place that is foul. He saw the downfall of the wicked and broke into song, as it says, Let offences vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. Bless, O my being, YHWH, Hallelujah! (Psalms 104:35). He looked upon the day of death and broke into song, as it says, Bless, O my being, YHWH! YHWH, my God, You are very great. Grandeur and glory You don (ibid., 1). How does this verse refer to the day of death?—Rabbah son of Rav Shila said: We learn it from the end of the passage, where it is written: When You hide Your face, they panic, You withdraw their breath and they perish… (ibid., 29)” (BT Berakhot 10a).

Taste and see that YHWH is good (Psalms 34:8).

And the manna was like coriander seed and its color like the color of bdellium. The people would go about and gather it and… make it into cakes. And its taste was like the לְשַׁד (leshad), creaminess, of oil (Numbers 11:7–8)—the taste of it was as the taste of a לְשַׁד (leshad), cake baked with oil. Rabbi Abbuha said: Just as the infant finds very many a flavor in the שָׁד (shad), breast, so also did Israel find many a taste in the manna as long as they were eating it. There are some who say: A שֵׁד (shed), demon; even as the demon changes into many colors, so did the manna change into many tastes [cf. Avot de-Rabbi Natan §37: ‘Two people eat from the same bowl, but each one tastes according to his deeds’]” (BT Yoma 75a).

“שְׁנֵי שָׁדַיִךְ (Shenei shadaikh), Your two breasts, are two fawns (Song of Songs 4:5). For in this chamber there is the spirit… [of love], and this living being issued two lights, one included in the other and unified, called, אֵל שַׁדָּי (El Shaddai). These two lights are called שַׁדָּי (Shaddai), and together with אֵל (El), of the chamber below, זְכוּת אֵל (Zekhut El), they join each other and intermingle to be called אֵל שַׁדָּי (El Shaddai), for they issued from the שָּׁדָיִם (shadaim), breasts….

Here lies the beginning of Abraham, who is of the right, called אַהֲבָה רַבָּא (ahavah rabba), Great Love, as we said. And he received the chamber called אַהֲבָה (ahavah), Love. Then, Your שָׁדַיִם (shadaim), breasts, were firm (Ezekiel 16:7), and filled with goodness to sustain and nourish all from here. And when the breasts were firm and filled by the רְחִימוּ עִלָּאָה (reḥimu illaah), supernal love, then this chamber was called אֵל שַׁדָּי (El Shaddai), as we said. And by this the world found supply when it was created, because when the world was created, it could not exist, and did not endure, until this chamber was revealed, that Abraham took. When Abraham was seen in this chamber, the world said דַי (dai), enough, for there is supply to sustain and nourish the world. It was therefore called אֵל שַׁדָּי (El Shaddai) [in whom there is] enough.

The blessed Holy One will fill and repair it in the future, as is written, That you may nurse, and be satisfied מִשֹּׁד (mishod), from the breasts, of her consolations; that you may drink deeply, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory (Isaiah 66:11). מִשֹּׁד (Mishod), from the breasts, of her consolations and the abundance of her glory are all in this chamber. Then, at that time, it is written, Who would have uttered to Abraham—‘Sarah is הֵינִיקָה (heiniqah), suckling, sons!’ (Genesis 21:7), for יְנִיקָא (yeniqa), sucking, depends upon Abraham” (Zohar 2:252b, Heikhalot).

But I have calmed and contented myself like a גָּמֻל (gamul), weaned, babe on its mother—like a weaned babe I am with myself (Psalms 131:2).

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).