The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: equanimity

Stoic Like a Lion Until Morning

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Three things stride handsomely and four things handsomely walk: the lion, mightiest of beasts, who does not turn back from anything, the rooster and the he-goat, and the king against whom none can stand (Proverbs 30:29–31).

“The lion is saying, YHWH sallies forth as a warrior, as a man of war He stirs up fury. He raises the battle cry, even bellows, over His enemies (Isaiah 42:13)” (Pereq Shirah).

“Yehudah son of Teima said: Be as bold as a leopard, swift as an eagle, fleet as a gazelle, and as mighty as a lion, to do the will of your Father in Heaven” (M Avot 5:24).

“Who is strong? One who turns an enemy into a friend” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan 23:1).

“Son of Zoma said: Who is strong? One who masters his [evil] impulse, as is written, Better patience than a warrior, and he who governs his spirit, than a conqueror of towns (Proverbs 16:32)” (M Avot 4:1).

“Abba Ḥanan said: Who is like You, powerful Yah? (Psalms 89:9). Who is like You, powerful—indurate, that You hear the blaspheming and insults of that wicked man and keep silent? In the academy of Rabbi Yishma’el it was taught: Who is like You among אֵלִם (elim), the gods? (Exodus 15:11). Who is like you among the אִלֵּמִים (illemim), mute” (BT Gittin 56b, cf. Ginnat Egoz 11c; 13d; Zohar 1:36b; 3:221a [RM]; Shemot Rabbah 34:1).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The blessed Holy One—wherever you find His strength you find His meekness” (BT Megillah 31a).

“Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said: Why were they called men of the Great Assembly? Because they restored the Crown of Glory. [For] Moses had come and said: The great and mighty and fearsome God (Deuteronomy 10:17).

Then Jeremiah came and said: Foreigners carousing in His Palace! Where is His fearsomeness? It does not say fearsome [see Jeremiah 32:17: Ah YHWH God! behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great might and outstretched arm, and there is nothing too hard for You].

Daniel came and said: Foreigners are enslaving His sons. Where are His mighty deeds? It does not say mighty [see Daniel 9:4: O Master, great and fearsome God].

But [the men of the Great Assembly] came and said: On the contrary! Therein lies His Might, since He subdues His impulse and He extends patience to the wicked. Therein lies His fearsomeness: For but for the fear of Him, how could one [single] nation persist among the [many] nations! But how could [the earlier] Rabbis [namely, Jeremiah and Daniel] abolish something established by Moses? Rabbi El’azar said: Since they knew that the blessed Holy One insists on Truth, they would not ascribe false [things] to Him [since to them the circumstances indicated that He wished to subdue His mighty or fearsome deeds]” (BT Yoma 69b).

As the lion growls, the manned beast over its prey, when a shepherd’s band gathers against it, it fears not their voice, nor is cowed by their clamor (Isaiah 31:4).

I make myself stoic, like a lion until morning (Isaiah 38:13).

And he shall call out, [like] a lion on lookout: “My Lord I stand perpetually by day and on my watch I am stationed all through the nights (Isaiah 21:8).

Should we accept only good from God and not accept evil? (Job 2:10).

“My God, guard my tongue from evil and my lips from deceitful speech. To those who curse me, may my soul be silent; may my soul be to all like the dust” (BT Berakhot 17a).

“Over evil a blessing is said similar to that over good and over good a blessing is said similar to that over evil” (BT Berakhot 54a).

“There is nothing good higher than עֹנֶג (oneg), pleasure, there is nothing evil lower than נֶגַע (nega), plague” (Sefer Yetsirah 2:2).

Only doing justice and loving kindness and walking humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). What is walking humbly with your God? To escort the dead to the grave and lead the bride to the bridal chamber [both with equanimity]” (BT Sukkah 49b).

Words of Torah Only Remain with Him Who Makes Himself Like One Who is as Nothing

Tisha bAv“[Alexander of Macedonia asked the Sages of the Negev:] What shall a man do to live? They replied: Let him kill himself. What should a man do to kill himself? They replied: Let him keep himself alive” (BT Tamid 32a).

“As for the mystery of equanimity, Rabbi Avner told me the following: ‘A lover of wisdom came to one who secluded himself in meditation and asked to be accepted as one of them. The master of meditation replied, ‘My son, may you be blessed from heaven, for your intention is good. But let me know: Have you attained equanimity or not?’ He responded, ‘Master, clarify your words.’ He explained, ‘My son if one person honors you and another humiliates you, are the two equal in your eyes or not?’ He answered, ‘By the life of your soul, my master! I do feel pleasure and satisfaction from the one who honors me and pain from the one who humiliates me—but I am not vengeful nor do I bear a grudge.’ The master said, ‘My son, go away in peace. For as long as you have not attained equanimity and still feel humiliation from something done to you, you are not ready for your thought to be linked on high. You are not ready to come and seclude yourself in meditation. But go and humble your heart further, genuinely, until you attain equanimity. Then you can experience aloneness” (Rabbi Yitsḥaq of Akko, Me’irat Einayim, translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 118).

“Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Ḥanina said: Words of Torah only remain with him who renders himself naked on their behalf; as it is said: I, Wisdom, dwell in shrewdness [lit., nakedness] (Proverbs 8:12). Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Words of Torah only remain with him who makes himself like one who is as אַיִן (ayin), nothing, as it is said: מֵאַיִן (me-ayin), from nothing, comes Wisdom (Job 28:12)” (BT Sotah 21b).

“This is alluded to in that the letters of אֲנִי (Ani), I, are the same as אַיִן (ayin), nothing” (Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, Sha’arei Orah).

The fear of YHWH is His treasury (Isaiah 33:6)—a man must first fear Heaven, then he can learn Torah. This is like someone who comes to buy date honey but does not bring a vessel in which to carry it” (Bahir §186).

“Rabbi El’azar opened, Lift your eyes on high and see: Who created these? (Isaiah 40:26). Lift your eyes on high. To which site? The site toward which all eyes gaze. Which is that? Opening of the eyes [Shekhinah] (Genesis 38:14) [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 85:7]. There you will discover that the concealed ancient one, susceptible to questioning, created these. Who is that? מִי (Mi), Who [Binah]. The one called End of Heaven above, whose domain extends over everything. Since it can be questioned, yet remains concealed and unrevealed, it is called Who. Beyond, there is no question.

This end of heaven is called Who. There is another below, called What [Shekhinah]. What distinguishes the two? The first, concealed one—called Who—can be questioned. Once a human being questions and searches [cf. Bahir §194], contemplating and knowing rung after rung to the very last rung—once one reaches there: What? What do you know? What have you contemplated? For what have you searched? All is concealed, as before….

Your ruin is as vast as the ocean (Lamentations 2:13). Yet if you say you cannot endure or be healed, then מִי (Mi), Who, will heal you (ibid.), really! That concealed, high rung in which all exists will heal you and raise you up” (Zohar 1:1b).