The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: exile

Falling into the Hands of the Nations and being Ruled by Them

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I know that for my sake this great storm is upon you (Jonah 1:12).

“’What is the meaning of the verse Through you all families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3)?… Even the other families who live on the earth are blessed solely on account of Israel… even the ships that go from Gaul to Spain are blessed solely on account of Israel.’… Rabbi El’azar son of Avina said, ‘Punishment comes into the world solely on account of Israel, as is said, I have cut off nations, their corner-towers are devastated. I have destroyed their streets (Zephaniah 3:6): and it is written [after]: I said, ‘If you but fear Me, if you accept My reproof, [her abode will not be cut off, all that I had summoned against her] (ibid., 7)” (BT Yevamot 63a).

“[Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said:] Scripture says: [Away, away, flee from the land of the north, said YHWH,] for like the four winds of the heavens did I spread you out, said YHWH (Zechariah 2:10). What did He say to them? Should you say that the blessed Holy One said to Israel as follows: I have spread you out to the four winds of the world, if so, why did He say like the four [winds]? He should have said to the four [winds]! Rather, this is what He meant: Just as the world cannot endure without winds, so too the world cannot exist without Israel” (BT Ta’anit 3b, cf. Zohar 2:5b [MhN]).

“בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), In the beginning (Genesis 1:1)—first saying of all, it includes the Ten Utterances, and it is the בְּרִית אֵשׁ (berit esh), covenant of fire. From the left side it was given—Gevurah, red fire. Therefore it says, in a flame of fire (Exodus 3:2). And Moses was from the side of Levi [i.e., the left side].

Why was it made known from the bush (Exodus 3:2)? To teach She is caught between the thorns but not consumed because the roses, which are Her children [the Assembly of Israel], in the future would be exiled among the nations which are thorns [cf. Rashi, ad loc.]. This is the secret of [As for you, do not fear, My servant Jacob— said YHWH— for I am with you.] I will make an end of all the nations where I have dispersed you, but of you I will not make an end, [yet I will chastise you in justice, will surely not leave you unblamed] (Jeremiah 46:28)” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 27a).

Many are the wicked’s pains, but he who trusts in YHWH kindness surrounds him (Psalms 32:10).

“Rabbi Abba said, ‘What is the meaning of the verse Is YHWH among us or אָיִן (ayin), not? (Exodus 17:7). Now, were the Israelites stupid, not knowing this? They saw Shekhinah in front of them, and clouds of glory above, surrounding them—and yet they said, Is YHWH among us or not? People who saw the radiant glory of their King at the sea—and we have learned: A maidservant at the sea saw what the eyes of the prophet Ezekiel never saw—would they be so stupid as to say, Is YHWH among us or not?

Rather, Rabbi Shim’on said as follows: They wanted to discern between the Ancient One—concealed of all concealed, called אָיִן (Ayin), Nothingness—and the Short-Tempered One. Therefore it is not written Is YHWH among us or לֹא (lo), not?—corresponding to what is written: whether they will follow My teaching or לֹא (lo), not (Exodus 16:4)—but rather, Is YHWH among us or אָיִן (Ayin), Nothingness?

If so, why were they punished? Well, because they caused a separation and acted by testing, as is written: and for their testing YHWH (Exodus 17:7). They said, ‘If it is this, we will ask in one way; if it is that, we will ask in another way.’ Immediately, Amalek came… (ibid., 8)‘” (Zohar 2:64b).

Amalek came [and did battle with Israel at Rephidim] (Exodus 17:8)—Rabbi Yehoshu’a and Rabbi El’azar Ḥisma say: this verse is to be explained according to Job: Will papyrus sprout with no marsh, reeds grow grand without water? (Job 8:11). Is it possible for papyrus to grow with no marsh, or is it possible for the reeds to exist without water? So also is it impossible for Israel to exist unless they busy themselves with the words of Torah. And because they separated themselves from Torah the enemy came upon them. For the enemy comes only because of sin and offence. In this sense it is said: And Amalek came [עֲמָלֵק (Amalek) and סָפֵק (safeq), doubt, are numerically equivalent, see Fragment Targum on Genesis 4:8: ‘(Cain said to his brother Abel:) There is no judgment, and there is no judge’; סִיטְרָא אַחְרָא (Sitra Aḥra), the Other Side, is numerically equivalent to עֲמָלֵקִי (Amaleqi), Amalekite, in its full spelling (עַיִן מֵם לָמֶד קוֹף יוֹד)]….

Others say: רְפִידִים (Rephidim) means only רִפיוֹן יָדַיִם (riphyon yadaim), slack hands [cf. 2 Samuel 17:2; רְפִידִים (Rephidim) and שְׁמָד (shemad), annihilation, are numerically equivalent]—because Israel relaxed their hold on words of Torah the enemy came upon them. For the enemy comes only because of slack hands in upholding Torah, as is said: And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of YHWH, and all Israel with him (2 Chronicles 12:1). And what was the punishment for this thing? And it happened in the fifth year of Rehoboam’s reign that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem. And he took the treasures of the house of YHWH and the treasures of the house of the king, and everything did he take, and he took all the gold bucklers that Solomon made (1 Kings 14:25–26)” (Mekhilta de-Rabbi Yishma’el, Amaleq 1).

“Come and see: When the truly virtuous engage in Torah, all those potencies of other nations and all their forces are overturned and no longer rule the world…. But if not, the donkey causes Israel to go into exile, falling into the hands of the nations and being ruled by them” (Zohar 1:243a, cf. BT Ketubbot 66b).

Happy the People that Know the Shofar’s Blast

holocaust_shofarHappy the people who know the תְרוּעָה (teru’ah), blast. O YHWH, they walk in the light of Your presence (Psalms 89:16). Happy the people who know—and it is not written who hear. Who know the blast: by virtue of the wise, who know through the air of the Holy Land [cf. BT Bava Batra 158b], they know teru’ahthe blast—mystery of teru’ah, as is written: תְּרֹעֵם (Tero’em), You will smash them, with a rod of iron (Psalms 2:9). What nation is like Israel, who know supernal mysteries of their Lord—to come before Him and draw near to Him? All those who know the mystery of teru’ah may draw near, to walk in the light of the countenance of the blessed Holy One. This is the primordial light that the blessed Holy One has treasured away for the righteous. So one should know it” (Zohar 3:231b, cf. ibid. 3:100b).

“But now there is need of a doctor to know by how many degrees the pulse of the patient, Israel, has increased in the exile of Edom, for it is said of him, I am in a fever of love (Song of Songs 5:8). For a number of doctors gathered over him to consider the pulse in order to know when his illness would come to an end, but not one of them could understand them, for no doctor is competent to read the pulse of this particular patient, for there are beats of Teqiah Shevarim Teru’ah Teqiah, Teqiah Shevarim Teqiah, Teqiah Teru’ah Teqiah, as the prophet said of them, Like a woman with child, that draws near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and cries out in her pangs (Isaiah 26:17).

And all the ten shofar blasts are included in three תְּקִיעָה שְׁבָרִים תְּרוּעָה (Teqi’ah Shevarim Teru’ah). תְּקִיעָה (Teqiah), Blast—the length of exile. שְׁבָרִים (Shevarim), Moaning—the proximity of exile. תְּרוּעָה (Teru’ah), Wailing Alarm—the coming redemption; teaching of the duress after duress with no respite between them [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 33b–34a]. And clearly, since the other nations make Israel’s exile more difficult, it is the duress that they exert which brings the redemption closer. And so too the patient’s pulse: beats come faster, one after the other, with no space between them, and the man’s soul-breath leaves him.

קשר״ק קש״ק קר״ק (Teqi’ah Shevarim Teru’ah, Teqi’ah Teqi’ah Shevarim, Teqi’ah Teqi’ah Teru’ah, Teqi’ah) [mystery of the heart’s beating]—קֶשֶׁר (qesher), conspiracy, by which שֶׁקֶר (sheqer), falsehood, is removed from the world [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 16b]. Concerning this was the oath: מִלְחָמָה לַיהוָה בַּעֲמָלֵק (milḥamah la-Adonai ba-Amaleq), War for YHWH against Amalek for all time [the intial letters of which are numerically equivalent to ע״ב (seventy-two), cf. TZ 67a; TZḤ 115a] (Exodus 17:16). A simple, double, triple and quadruple song will arise in the world, where the letters [יהוה (YHWH)] will ascend: י יה יהו יהוה (Y YH YHW YHWH) [numerically equivalent to seventy-two, cf. Ibn Ezra on Genesis 4:19]. At that time [the prayer] will be answered: ‘וּבְכֵן (U-vekhen), and therefore, the righteous shall see and be glad, the upright exult and the pious rejoice in song’ (Amidah for the Days of Awe). This additional ו״ (six) [of ‘וּבְכֵן (U-vekhen)’ alludes to]the Sixth Millennium. The Second Temple was destroyed קע״ב (one hundred and seventy-two) years before [the Sixth Millennium]. And following the completion of רע״ב (two hundred and seventy-two), as in the verse, At עֶרֶב (erev), evening, you shall know that it was YHWH who brought you out [of the land of Egypt] (Exodus 16.6). Also, For your servant became עָרַב (arev), pledge, for the lad (Genesis 44:32) [you should know that all these dates mentioned in the Zohar refer to an arousal from above, which occur at these times for redemption, however, certainly it depends on the people’s actions and repentance (Sullam)]” (Zohar 3:218a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“The Faithful Shepherd said: Certainly, since the limbs and the arteries of the לֵב (lev), heart, which are likened to Israel, are in trouble, they have to awaken in the trachea pipe, the windpipe connected to the lung, mystery of the shofar. Since the lobes of the lung are unable to quiet the anger of the gall, which overcomes the arteries of the heart and all the arteries in the limbs of the body, that breath that blows in them, rises in the trachea, the shofar, namely the World that is Coming. And so it has been taught: The esophagus is like this world, [which has] eating and drinking in it. The trachea is likened to the World that is Coming, for [in it] there is no eating nor drinking [see BT Berakhot 17a]” (Zohar 3:231b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).