The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: Eliezer

Through these Three Adam Attained a Change of Name, a Change of Place, and a Change of Deed

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Four things tear up a person’s verdict: charity, crying out, a change of name, and change of deeds. צְדָקָה (Tsedaqah), charity, as is written, But צְדָקָה (tsedaqah), righteousness, saves from death (Proverbs 10:2). Crying out, as is written, And they cry to YHWH from their straits from their distress He brings them out. [He turns the storm into silence, and its waves are stilled, and they rejoice that these have grown quiet, and He leads them to the realm of their desire] (Psalms 107:28). Change of name, as is written, Sarai your wife shall no longer call her name Sarai, for Sarah is her name (Genesis 17:15); and it continues, And I will bless her and I will also give you from her a son (ibid., 16). Change of deeds, as is written, And God saw their acts, that they had turned back from their evil way, and God relented from the evil that He said to do to them, and he did not do it (Jonah 3:10). And some say a change of place, as is written, And YHWH said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your land [and your birthplace and your father’s house to the land I will show you] (Genesis 12:1), and afterwards, And I will make you a great nation [and I will bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing] (ibid., 2). And the other [namely, Rabbi Yitsḥaq, why does he not include this]?—in that case it was the merit of the Land of Israel which helped him” (BT Rosh ha-Shanah 16b).

And you shall hold them in estate for your children after you to inherit a holding forever (Leviticus 25:46). It is a command to have a Canaanite slave as a servant, as is written: A holding forever. They come from the side of Ham, who uncovered nakedness [of Noah], of whom it says, Cursed be Canaan, the lowliest slave shall he be to his brothers (Genesis 9:25). Why the lowliest slave? Because he is a slave to a slave עוֹלָם (olam), forever, which is the olam, world, of Jubilee [even at the Jubilee he will not be set free like other slaves (Sullam)]. It may be said that as he is a brother to Shem and Japheth, why should he not be like them? Also, seeing Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, was the descendant of Ham, why was he not like him but instead righteous? [Because] the blessed Holy One approved of the blessing Laban gave him [see Genesis 24:31].

Surely this pertains to the mystery גִלְגּוּלָא (gilggula), rolling: ‘Who גּוֹלֵל (golel), rolls away, light from before darkness’ (Evening Service)—Abraham’s servant who came out of darkness, the issue of Ham. It suffices for the servant to be like his master, Abraham, who came from Terah the idol worshiper! ‘And darkness from before the light’ (ibid.)—Ishmael who came out from Abraham, and Esau from Isaac.

The mystery is that this is caused by the mixture of drops in a place it does not belong. This is he who mingles his drop with a maid, Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael or a daughter of a strange god who are evil and darkness, while his drop is goodness and light: And God saw the light, that it was good (Genesis 1:4). He who mingles good with evil transgresses the words of his Master, who said, but from the tree of knowledge, good and evil, you shall not eat (Genesis 2:17).

The blessed Holy One rolls that which the man mingled together with him so as to receive punishment. If he repents, learns Torah and separates good from evil, forbidden from permitted, impure from pure, unfit from fit, that evil is separated from good, it says of him ‘A creation for good and a creation for evil’ [cf. BT Berakhot 61a: ‘וַיִּיצֶר (va-yetser), and formed (Genesis 2:7)—spelled with two letters י (yod) to show that God created two impulses, one good and the other evil’]. And through Torah he separates them, and the blessed Holy One bequeaths him a נִשְׁמְתָא (nishmata), soul, from Him, so he will rule them both, the one which is light, the World that is Coming, and the other, which is darkness, this world. Hence, it is written: And blew into his nostrils the נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (ayyim nishmat), breath of life (Genesis 2:7).

According to his merits and liabilities. As we have explained, ‘He who does one mitsvah is treated well. He who is average, is a person whose merits and liabilities are balanced, the half of merits is below and the half of liabilities below’ [see BT Qiddushin 40b; Sotah 3b]. This is the secret of What is your petition? and it shall be granted you, and what is your request? Up to half the kingdom, and it will be done! (Esther 5:6). In the case of a completely righteous man, all his merits are above and his liabilities below. For a completely evil man, his liabilities are above and his merits are down below.

The man who sins in public is of two grades. If he does penance in public [then he is seated] among the righteous [of that world], who are familiar with the laws of the blessed Holy One and refrain from sinning; [if] secretly [then] among the wicked men [who envy him his repentance] so that the eyes of the wicked will pine (Job 11:20) is fulfilled.

Adam’s sin was therefore against, And YHWH God commanded (Genesis 2:16)—we explained commanded referrers to idolatry since he sinned in idolatry. He formed him in תֶרַח (Teraḥ), Terah’s, drop of semen, in which he [the soul of Adam] רָתַח (rataḥ), enraged, the blessed Holy One by transgressing in idolatry. He did penance and smashed the images of idols and all the victuals. He mended the sins and smashed the sin and the evil structure he built. And he made the blessed Holy One and His Shekhinah rule over the whole world.

By sanctifying His Name in public, and by going into the fire to be burned, so that the words would be fulfilled the images of their gods you shall burn in fire (Deuteronomy 7:25). Furthermore, he caused his father, Terah, to repent and brought him, his mother, and all the rulers of that age to the Garden of Eden [cf. Zohar 1:77b]. He was thus purified as silver by fire [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 38:13: ‘When Abraham descended into the fiery furnace (of Nimrod he) was saved’], like the king’s coin forged with a mixture of lead. He was therefore put in fire, and the lead came out, which is Ishmael. Ishmael therefore was mocking and worshipped idols, while Adam remained purified by fire. This is the change of name. For when Adam was rolled he had to undergo a change of name, change of place, and change of deed.

Then came Isaac, and he became stronger through him, the second transgression of which it says, the human (Genesis 2:16), which refers to bloodshed. This brought the trial of Isaac by the cleaver [see Genesis 22:10]. He was cleansed by him, as food is picked from refuse. And the dross came out, which is Esau who sheds blood.

Then came Jacob who formed it to Laban and became his servant. Hence it says, I will serve seven years for Rachel your younger daughter (Genesis 29:18). Since he exchanged her with her sister, he served an additional seven years, in order to remove the two drops Adam spilt in a foreign place [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 20:11: ‘Throughout the entire one hundred and thirty years during which Adam held aloof from Eve the male demons were made ardent by her and she bore, while the female demons (Lilit and Naamah) were inflamed by Adam and they bore, as is written, so should he do wrong, I will chastise him with the rod men use and with the afflictions of humankind (2 Samuel 7:14)—Adam, which means, the children of the first man’]. This is incest, alluded to by saying, [‘From every fruit of the garden you may surely eat. But from the tree of knowledge, good and evil, you shall not eat, for on the day you eat from it, you are doomed to die’] (Genesis 2:16). He took them out of Laban the Aramean, the serpent.

Through these three Adam attained a change of name, a change of place, and a change of deed [the Patriarchs repaired the three cardinal sins: idolatry, murder, and sexual immorality]. He obtained a change of name through Abraham, a change of place through Isaac, and a change of deed through Jacob. And if it was said of him: Then He saw and recounted it [set it firm and probed it, too…] (Job 28:27–8), that if He accepted his repentance, all the more so that of others [who are not as great].

Therefore, for a good servant, the place brings it about, and for an evil servant, also, but as for other servants, a holding forever (Leviticus 25:46). The heads of the academy rose and said Happy the people who has it thus (Psalms 144:15). שֶׁכָּכָה (Shekakhah), has it thus, is [numerically equivalent] as that of מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses. The Faithful Shepherd rose and said, ‘Happy the people whose God is YHWH’ (ibid.)” (Zohar 3:97a–111a, Ra’aya Meheimna Behar, cf. ibid. 3:217b).

I have rolled away from you the shame of Egypt (Joshua 5:9).

You shall not Divine, nor Interpret Omens


You shall not divine, nor interpret omens (Leviticus 19:26).

When you come into the land that YHWH your God is about to give you, you shall not learn to do like the abhorrent things of these nations. There shall not be found among you one who passes his son or his daughter through fire, a speller of charms, a soothsayer, or a diviner or a sorcerer, or a chanter of incantations or an inquirer of ghost or familiar spirit or one who seeks out the dead. For whosoever does these is YHWH’s abhorrence, and because of these abhorrent things YHWH your God is about to dispossess them before you. You shall be wholehearted with YHWH your God. For these nations which you are about to dispossess heed soothsayers and spellers of charms, but you, YHWH your God has not given such (Deuteronomy 18:10–14).

There shall not be found among you—so caution the court to be vigilant about it!…

קֹסֵם קְסָמִים (Qosem qesamim), a speller of charms—all the same is one who spells many charms and the speller of a few—he is held liable for each and every spell. Who is קוֹסֵם (qosem), a diviner? One who grabs his staff and says: shall I depart or not depart? [cf. M Shabbat 7:4: ‘Amorite custom’]. And in this vein, a verse says: My people consult their wood, and their staff advises them! (Hosea 4:12).

Another word: [he infers the portent of] a fox that passes on his right or his left.

Another word: one who passes his son or his daughter through fire—this refers to one who mounts a Aramean woman, and then raises with her a son, who becomes an enemy of the Omnipresent. We have heard the punishment [for this], but we haven’t heard the warning [against it]! The Law states: there shall not be found among you one who passes his son or his daughter through fire—[this is certainly sufficient warning]! Rabbi Yehudah says: This refers to one who passes his son or daughter through [the rite of] a foreign cult, and cuts a covenant with it. As it is said: When they cut the calf in two, and passed between its parts (Jeremiah 34:18) [cf. Genesis 15:9–19].

מְעוֹנֵן (Me’onen), a soothsayer—Rabbi Yishma’el says: This one passes his hand over his עַיִן (ayin), eye, before responding [cf. M Shabbat 7:14]. Rabbi Akiva says: These declare the times [i.e., which will be an auspicious עוֹנָה (onah), season; alt., one who reads עֲנָנָה (ananah), clouds]. For example, they might say: I sense that before the Sabbatical year the wheat harvest will be exceptional, but [trade in] uprooted beans will be bad. And sages say: These deceive the eyes [through apparitions].

Or מְנַחֵשׁ (me-naḥesh), diviner. What is diviner? For example, one of them might say: my bread has fallen from my mouth [and it’s not a good omen]! Or: my staff has fallen from my hand! Or: a נָחָשׁ (naḥash), snake, is passing to my right, or a fox to my left, or a deer is blocking my way! Or: don’t start with me—it’s too early in the morning! Or, it’s the New Moon today! Or, the Sabbath is over [cf. M Shabbat 7:13].

Or מְכַשֵּׁף (me-khashef), a sorcerer. This is one who tricks, but not by deceiving the eyes [through apparitions]. Rabbi Akiva says in the name of Rabbi Yehoshu’a: Two [sorcerers] are gathering squash—one gathers [the entire field] and is exempt [from suspicion of using sorcery,] while the other gathers [the entire field] and is liable. [Now why is this so?] The one actually performing the trick is liable, but the one who only deceives the eyes is exempt! [cf. M Sanhedrin 7:11].

חֹבֵר חָבֶר (Ḥover ḥaver), a chanter of incantations. Whether a חוֹבֵר (ḥover), collector, of snakes or scorpions.

שֹׁאֵל אוֹב (Sho’el ‘ov), an inquirer of ghost—a ventriloquist who produces speach from his armpit.

יִדְּעֹנִי (Yid’oni), familiar spirit—the speach is from his own mouth. They themselves are sentenced to stoning, and those who consult them are forewarned [cf. M Sanhedrin 7:7].

דֹרֵשׁ אֶל-הַמֵּתִים (Doresh el ha-metim), one who seeks out the dead—whether he raises [a spirit] with his member or consults a skull. What is the difference between the first and the second? When one raises with his member, it does not rise naturally, and is not consulted on the Sabbath. When he consults a skull, it rises naturally and is consulted on the Sabbath… one who starves himself and goes and sleeps in the cemetery so that a spirit of impurity rest on him. And when Rabbi Akiva came to this verse, he said: ‘Woe unto us! If a spirit of impurity rests on one who cleaves to uncleanliness, how much more so should the Holy Spirit rest upon one who cleaves to the Shekhinah! What brought this about? But your crimes have separated between you and your God, [and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear] (Isaiah 59:2).

And because of these abhorrent things YHWH your God is about to dispossess them before you. Rabbi Shim’on said: This teaches that the Canaanites were forewarned about all these practices—for they do not punish a person unless he has also been forewarned [cf. M Avodah Zarah 8:6]. When Rabbi Eli’ezer would reach this verse, he would say: More’s the pity! Just as a person who cleaves to uncleanliness—the stench of uncleanliness hovers over him, doesn’t reason demand that one who cleaves to the Shekhinah—the aroma of the spirit of the blessed Holy One hover over him? So what happened? But your crimes have separated between you and your God” (Sifre, Deuteronomy 171–173).

“[You yourself were shown to know that YHWH is the Elohim,] there is none besides Him (Deuteronomy 4:35)—Rabbi Ḥanina said: Even sorcery. A woman once attempted to take earth from under Rabbi Ḥanina’s feet [in order to cast a spell on him]. He said to her: Try as you will, you will not succeed, as is written: There is none besides Him. However, has not Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Why is it called כְּשָׁפִים (keshafim), sorcery? Because [it is short for:] מַכְּחִישִׁין פָמַלְיָא מַעְלָה (makḥishin famalya ma’alah), ‘weakening the council on high [or: denying the council on high].’ Rabbi Ḥanina was different, owing to his great merit” (BT Ḥullin 7b).

“אֵין עוֹד מִלְּבַדּוֹ (Ein od millvado), there is none besides Him (Deuteronomy 4:35)—[He is] without separation and without שִׁתּוּף (shittuf), partnership, at all” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 55, 88a).

“[Rav said:] Every נָחָשׁ (naḥash), divination, which is not of the sort pronounced by Eli’ezer, Abraham’s servant, or by Jonathan the son of Saul, is not considered a divination! … Rav used to regard a ferry-boat [as a sign]. Shemu’el a [passage in a] book, and Rabbi Yoḥanan [a verse quoted] by a child” (BT Ḥullin 95b).

[Eli’ezer, Abraham’s servant, said:] “Let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Pray, tip down your jug that I may drink,’ if she says, ‘Drink, and your camels, too, I shall water,’ she it is whom You have marked for Your servant, for Isaac, and by this I shall know that You have done kindness with my master.” He had barely finished speaking when, look, Rebekah was coming out… (Genesis 24:14, cf. Zohar 1:182a).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: If one rises early and a verse falls into his mouth, behold: this is a minor prophecy” (BT Berakhot 55b).

“Rabbi Yehoshu’a said: He who sees ט (tet) in a dream [may regard it as] a good סִימָן (siman), omen, for himself. Why so? If because it is the initial letter of טוּב (tov), good, written in Scripture, why not say [on the contrary that it is also]: And I will sweep it with the besom of טֵאטֵאתִיהָ (teiteitiha), destruction (Isaiah 14:23)?—we are speaking [here of where he saw in a dream only] one ט (tet) [whereas טֵאטֵאתִיהָ (teiteitihadestruction, contains two such letters]. But still why not say [that it might have referred to the verse] Her טֻמְאָתָהּ (tumatah), filthiness, is in her skirts (Lamentations 1:9)?—we are speaking of [where he saw in a dream the letters] ט (tet) and ב (bet). But again why not say [that it might have referred to the verse], Her gates were טָבְעוּ (tavu), sunk, into the ground (ibid. 2:9)?—the real reason is that Scripture used this letter on the very first occasion to express something good, for from the beginning of Genesis until And God saw the light, [that it was good] (Genesis 1:4) no ט (tet) occurs. Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi similarly said: He who sees [the word] הֶספֵּד (hesfed), eulogy, in a dream [may take it as a sign that] compassion has been exercised towards him in Heaven, and that he will be released [from trouble] provided, however, [he saw it] in script” (BT Baba Qamma 55a).

“Said Rav Ammi: ‘When one wishes to know whether he will survive the coming year or not, let him take a burning lamp during the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and place it in a house where there is no draft; if the lamp burns out to the end, he will know that he will survive the year. And if one is about to engage in business and wishes to know whether he will succeed or not, let him get a rooster and feed it; if it grows fat and handsome, he will know that he will succeed. When one is about to go on a journey and wishes to know whether he will return home, let him enter a darkened room [alt., the house of his neighbour]; if he can perceive the reflection of his shadow, he will know that he will return home. But it is not the proper thing [to make these tests], for one might be discouraged and mar his מַזָּל (mazal), fortune. Abayye said: Since you hold that symbols are meaningful, every man should make it a habit to eat on New Year pumpkin, fenugreek, leek, beet and dates [since these are regarded as symbols of fertility, abundance and quick growth]” (BT Keritot 6a).