The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: flame

A Jealous Fire

burnttorah

“Rabbi El’azar said,… ‘You, cleaving to YHWH your God, are alive everyone of you today (Deuteronomy 4:4). Now is it possible to cleave to Shekhinah, of whom it is written: YHWH your God is a devouring fire (ibid., 24)? Rather the meaning is: whoever marries his daughter to a disciple of the Sages, conducts business on their behalf, or benefits them from his assets is regarded by Scripture as if he cleaves to Shekhinah [cf. BT Sotah 14a, where Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥanina explains that one can approach and withstand the consuming fire of Shekhinah by imitating the divine, e.g., by clothing the naked, visiting the sick, comforting mourners, and burying the dead]” (BT Ketubbot 111b).

“The General Agrippa asked Rabban Gamaliel, ‘It is written in your Torah, For YHWH your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24). Is a wise man jealous of any but a wise man, a warrior of any but a warrior, a rich man of any but a rich man?’ He replied, ‘I will give you a parable: To what can the matter be compared? A man who marries an additional wife. If the second wife is her superior, the first will not be jealous of her, but if she is her inferior, the first wife will be jealous of her’” (BT Avodah Zarah 55a).

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘A word lingers here with us.’ He opened, saying, ‘Two verses are written: YHWH your God is a devouring fire (Deuteronomy 4:24), and You, cleaving to YHWH your God, are alive every one of you today (ibid., 4). We have established these verses in various places, and the Companions have been aroused by them.

Come and see: For YHWH your God is a devouring fire. The word has been discussed among the Companions: There is a fire devouring fire, devouring and consuming it, for there is fire fiercer than fire, as they have established [see BT Yoma 21b]. But come and see: Whoever desires to penetrate the wisdom of holy unification should contemplate the flame ascending from a glowing ember or a burning candle. For flame ascends only when grasped by course substance” (Zohar 1:50b–51a).

“The blue [light of a flame corresponds to] Shekhinah, the Judgment that devours sacrifices and burnt offerings. If She finds men to be as dry wood, like dry wicks without oil, which is Torah and Compassion, [She] is a fire to them and burns them” (Zohar 3:33a, Ra’aya Meheimna Tsav, cf. Zohar 2:166a).

“Rabbi Abba son of Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan [son of Nappaḥa]: One who writes down הֲלַכוֹת (halakhot), ways of conduct, is as one who burns the Torah, and he who learns from them does not receive reward…. Rabbi Yehudah son of Naḥmani, the translator of Resh Laqish expounded: One may not recite oral teachings from a written document and one may not recite written teachings from memory. The house of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: ‘Write for yourself these words’ (Exodus 34:27). These words [i.e., the Written Torah] you may write, but you may not write halakhot” (BT Temurah 14b, cf. Gittin 60a–b; Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 1:71).

“The Companions saw the face of Shekhinah and were encompassed by fire. Rabbi Abba’s face blazed in fire from rapture of Torah. It has been taught: All that day, none of them left the house, and the house was swathed in smoke. Words among them were fresh and ecstatic as if they were receiving Torah that very day from Mount Sinai! When they departed they did not know if it was day or night” (Zohar 1:94b, cf. Vayiqra Rabbah 16:4; Avot de-Rabbi Natan B, 13).

“As to what the Rabbis have said: ‘Now is it possible for one to cleave to Shekhinah?—it certainly is!… Know and believe that there is a special quality to the essence of the purity of limbs that allows for man to hold fast to the Shekhinah even if She is a consuming fire” (Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, Sha’arei Orah 166).

Like a Lamp from which Many Lamps are Lit while Retaining its Vitality

Hanuca_2010-1“A candle from which hundreds of millions of other candles are kindled. Though some shine brighter than others, compared to the first light they are all the same, all deriving from that one source. The first light and all the others are, in effect, incomparable. Nor can their priority compare with its, for it surpasses them; their energy emanates from it. No change takes place in it—the energy of emanation simply manifests through differentiation” (Rabbi Azriel of Gerona, Commentary on the Ten Sefirot, in Rabbi Me’ir ibn Gabbai, Derekh Emunah, 2b–c, 3a–d, translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 29–30).

“Come and see: A single flame, slender, burning—all the world is filled. Regard: A thin piece of wood is kindling for a thick one” (Zohar 3:240b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Like a lamp from which many lamps are lit while retaining its vitality” (Zohar 2:86b).

“You will discover all in the ascending flame, wisdoms of the highest” (Zohar 1:51a–52a).

“Come and see: Nefesh—lower arousal, cleaving to the body like the light of a candle. The lower light, which is black, cleaves to the wick, never parting from it, arrayed by it alone. Once arrayed by the wick, it becomes a throne for the white light settling upon the black light. When both are arrayed, the white light becomes a throne for a concealed light—invisible, unknowable—settling upon the white light. Then the light is perfect” (Zohar 1:83b).

“Every wise person has his eyes and his words on his head, focused on Who is resting right there. With his eyes there he knows that the light kindled on his head needs oil. For the human body is a wick, and a light is kindled above. King Solomon cried out: Let… your head not lack oil (Ecclesiastes 9:8)—the light on one’s head needs oil, the oil of good deeds!” (Zohar 3:187a).

“Why is Israel compared to an olive? To teach that just as the olive does not produce its oil until it is crushed, so too Israel does not return except through suffering” (BT Menakhot 53b).

“Once the light of a lamp clings to the wick, that light is never still, but rather sways back and forth, never staying still. Similarly with Israel, whose souls derive from that light of the Lamp. As soon as they cling to words of Torah, the light is kindled—they cannot keep still; they sway back and forth and in all directions like the light of a lamp, for it is written: The soul of a human is the נֵר (ner), lamp, of YHWH (Proverbs 20:27)” (Zohar 3:219a, cf. Ba’al ha-Turim on Exodus 20:15; Kuzari 2:79).

“What is נֵר (ner), candle? נְשָׁמָה (Neshamah), soul, רוּחַ (ruaḥ), spirit” (Zohar 2:99b).

Tail in the Head: The Elusive Serpent

2235_127246100159_9430_nWho tells from the first the last, and from old what is not yet done (Isaiah 46:10).

“Ten sefiroth belimah—their end is embedded in their beginning like a flame bound to a burning coal. For the Lord is singular, He has none second to Him. Before one, what do you count?

Ten sefiroth belimah—their measure is ten yet they have no end: depth of first and depth of last; depth of good and depth of evil; depth of above and depth of below; depth of east and depth of west; depth of north and depth of south. And a singular Lord—God, steadfast King—reigning over them all from His holy dwelling for ever and ever” (Sefer Yetsirah §§6–7).

There is a thing of which one would say, “See this, it is new.” It already has been in the eons that were before us (Ecclesiastes 1:10).

That which was already has been, and what is to be already has been, and ha-Elohim seeks out the pursued (Ecclesiastes 3:15).

“Rabbi Ḥiyya opened, saying, ‘That which is has already been called by name, and what is to be [… already has been] (Ecclesiastes 3:15, 6:10). That which is has already [been]—corresponding to what we have learned: Before the blessed Holy One created this world, He created worlds and destroyed them, until the blessed Holy One entertained the desire to create this world, and He consulted the Torah. Then He was arrayed in His adornments and adorned with His crowns, and He created the world. All that exists in this world was already in His presence, rising before Him, arranged before Him (Zohar 3:61a–b).

“Gravings of engravings, like the appearance of a long serpent, extending here and theretail in the head, head behind the shoulders, pregnant and furious, guarded and hidden” (Zohar 2:176b, Sifra di Tsni’uta).

“תְּלִי (Teli)—a spark rendered as an illusory serpent. His tail clasping orbs, surrounding them. In his might he darkens the seven planets” (Berit Menuḥa: The Second Way, The Way of Love, Eighth Vowel).

The elusive Serpent (Job 26:13).

A Flame Bound to a Burning Coal

20091216212726_match_and_flame

“Ten סְפִירוּת בְּלִימָה (sefirot belimah), ciphers of emptiness. Their measure is ten, yet infinite. Their end is embedded in their beginning, their beginning in their end, like a flame bound to a burning coal. Know, contemplate, and visualize that the Maker is one, without a second. Before one what can you count?” (Sefer Yetsirah §6 [MS A]).

“Come and see! In a flame ascending are two lights: one white light, radiant: the other, a light tinged with black or blue. The white light is above, ascending, unswervingly, while beneath it is the blue or black light, a throne for the white, which rests upon it, each embracing the other, becoming one. This black light colored blue, below, is a throne of glory for the white—here lies the mystery of the thread of blue. This blue-black throne is grasped by another substance below, so it can flame, arousing it to embrace the white light. Sometimes this blue-black turns red, while the white light above never wavers, constantly white. This blue one, though, changes color: sometimes blue or black, sometimes red [sometimes green]. This is grasped in two directions: above, by that white light; below, by what lies beneath, by which it is fuelled, primed to glow. This constantly consumes and devours what is placed beneath it, for the blue light consumes anything cleaving below, anything it rests upon, since by nature it consumes and devours. On it depends destruction and death of all… Above the white light hovers a concealed light, encompassing it. Here abides supernal mystery. You will discover all in the ascending flame, wisdoms of the highest” (Zohar 1:51a).

“House of Shammai say that נְהוֹרָא (nehora), a light, is comprised only of one nehora, light, while House of Hillel say that there are several. They also taught: House of Hillel said to House of Shammai: There are several מְאוֹרוֹת (me’orot), lights, in אוֹר (or), light (Isaiah 45:7)” (BT Berakhot 52b).

“Come and see: נֶפֶשׁ (Nefesh), Soul—lower arousal, cleaving to the body like the light of a candle. The lower light, which is black, cleaves to the wick, never parting from it, arrayed by it alone. Once arrayed by the wick, it becomes a throne for the white light settling upon the black light. When both are arrayed, the white light becomes a throne for a concealed light—invisible, unknowable—settling upon the white light. Then the light is perfect” (Zohar 1:83b).

“Wood whose light does not ascend—let them strike it, and it will flash. A body in which the light of the soul does not ascend—let them strike it, and the radiance of the soul will ascend; they will unite with one another, shining” (Zohar 3:168a).

“Every wise person has his eyes and his words on his head, focused on [Shekhinah] who is resting right there. With his eyes there he knows that the light kindled on his head needs oil. For the human body is a wick, and a light is kindled above. King Solomon cried out: Let… your head not lack oil (Ecclesiastes 9:8)—the light on one’s head needs oil, the oil of good deeds!” (Zohar 3:187a).

“Come and see: One flame, slender, burning—[from it] all the world is filled. Regard: A thin piece of wood is kindling for a thick one” (Zohar 3:240b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Like a lamp from which many lamps are lit while retaining its vitality” (Zohar 2:86b).

“Once the light of a lamp clings to the wick, that light is never still, but rather sways back and forth, never staying still. Similarly with Israel, whose souls derive from that light of the Lamp. As soon as they cling to words of Torah, the light is kindled—they cannot keep still; they sway back and forth and in all directions like the light of a lamp, for it is written: The soul of a human is the נֵר (ner), lamp, of YHWH (Proverbs 20:27)” (Zohar 3:219a, cf. Ba’al ha-Turim on Exodus 20:15; Kuzari 2:79).

“What is נֵר (ner), candle? נְשָׁמָה (Neshamah), soul, רוּחַ (ruaḥ), spirit” (Zohar 2:99b).