The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: hand

A Man’s Table Atones for Him

“As long as the Temple stood, the altar atoned for Israel; now a man’s table atones for him” (BT Berakhot 55a; Menaḥot 97a).

“Faithful Shepherd, prepare a table for your Master, for Him and His Matronita, with all sorts of delicacies, to fulfill in it: This is the table that is before YHWH (Ezekiel 41:22) [cf. Zohar 2:153b–155a]. For until now, everyone was enjoying from the King’s table, as it says: Come, partake of my bread, [and drink the wine I have mixed] (Proverbs 9:5). Bread—Written Torah [Ze’eir Anpin]. Wine—Oral Torah [Malkhut], in which there are many savories, flavors of Torah, from all the adornments and delicacies in the world and of the King.

The Faithful Shepherd rose and began to speak: Aaron the priest, rise from your sleep to slaughter oxen and sheep and goats and lambs and fowl, and all varieties needed for the King’s feast. לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים (Leḥem ha-panim), bread of the Presence (Exodus 25:30), corresponding to the two tablets of Torah, written on both their sides [lit., מִזֶּה וּמִזֶּה הֵם כְּתֻבִים (mizeh u-mizeh hem ketuvim), from this and from this they were written] (Exodus 32:15). זֶּה (Zeh), this—twelve faces, which are [the twelve letters of יהוה (YHWH) written three times]: יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה (yivarekha Adonai), YHWH bless you… יָאֵר יְהוָה (ya’er Adonai), YHWH light up… יִשָּׂא יְהוָה (yisa Adonai), YHWH lift up (Numbers 6:24–25). The second זֶּה (zeh), this, is: אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)—twelve living beings, of which it says, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and the four had the face of an ox on the left side; the four also had the face of an eagle (Ezekiel 1:10). And it says of them: And each one had four faces (ibid., 6). That is, in each of the three beings there are four faces: lion, ox, eagle, and man, and three times four amounts to twelve living beings. That is the meaning of, And זֶה אֶל זֶה (zeh el zeh), one unto another, cried and said, [Holy, holy, holy, is YHWH of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory] (Isaiah 6:3). They also correspond to the twenty-four books of Torah. And this is: זֶה (zeh), This, is the table, that is before YHWH (Ezekiel 41:22). Utensils on the King’s table are Masters of Mishnah—masters of prayer arranged to correspond to the sacrifices.

He opened and said: and you shall make a table of acacia wood (Exodus 25:23). Come and see: those present at the King’s meal had goodly and fine customs to show they were members of the King’s table. First the eldest would wash his hands. When they entered to sit for the meal, the oldest would sit at the head of the table. The second would be below him, and the third below the second. These are called the ‘three beds,’ corresponding to the three Patriarchs, and to the priests, the Levites and Israel. From here on, they had no order, rather whoever came first was seated.

Second, the master of the house breaks bread so that he may apportion it generously [lit., with a good eye]. He first completes [the blessing] and then breaks it. The Rabbis of the Mishnah have arranged it so that none of those reclining at the feast table are permitted to taste until the giver of the blessing has tasted first. The one who apportions is not permitted to taste until all present have finished saying ‘amen.’ And if he wishes to delegate honor [by inviting another to break bread] he may do so. In addition, it is said that the guest blessed [the meal after it was eaten] so that he bless the master of the house [see BT Berakhot 58a]. And the mystery of the matter: The master of the house breaks—the middle pillar, קָו הָאֶמְצָעִי (qav ha-emtsa’i), the middle cord. And on the Sabbath, he must break from two cuts: הה (he, he). The master of the house is ו (vav) in the middle. In order not to appear a glutton, he may apportion to each one a piece the size of an egg. What is the size of an egg? It is י (yod) and י (yod) which are the vocalizations of the Holy Name [יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNWY)] called ‘crumbs the size of an olive’ [see M Berakhot 7:1–2; Kil’ayim 8:5; Terumot 7:3; Ḥallah 1:2; Shabbat 10:5]. These correspond to drops of seed. And whoever disparages these crumbs, throwing them out in an inappropriate place, poverty chases him and he will constantly wander [cf. BT Pesaḥim 111b; Ḥullin 105b], as is written, he wanders for bread—where is it? (Job 15:23). Bread—Torah; he cries out, looking for someone who will have compassion on him, but will find no one.

Crumbs the size of an olive belong to the Righteous One [Yesod], who presses these olives [Netsaḥ and Hod. Cf. BT Berakhot 52b; Zohar 1:14b]. The אוֹרֵחַ (oreaḥ), guest, blesses, as is written: But אֹרַח (oraḥ), the path, of the righteous is like light’s radiance (Proverbs 4:18). Blessings on the righteous man’s head (Proverbs 10:6)—Vitality of the Worlds [Yesod]. Therefore, the guest makes the blessing.

As he was speaking, the Holy Lamp came to him, and said: Faithful Shepherd, one day I went along with the Companions to an inn. There was a child there who rose and by himself prepared for us a lamp and a table, as if he were twenty years old. Yet he was only a five year old boy. He set that table with different dishes and drinks and said, ‘The Rabbis have decreed that the master of the house breaks bread and the guest makes the blessing. Yet, I am young in years, and you are aged. Therefore was I awed and feared to speak my mind to you (Job 32:6) until I obtain permission from you.’ They said to him: Speak up my son, angel of God [for more on this יַנוּקָא (yanuqa), child, a wunderkind-and-enfant-terrible who amazes and teases, challenges and stumps the rabbis, see Zohar 3:186a–192a, cf. M Avot 5:26–27: ‘Rabbi Yose son of Yehudah of Bavli village said: When you learn from the young, what is it like? Like eating unripe grapes or drinking wine straight from the vat. When you learn from the old, what is it like? Like eating ripe grapes and drinking old wine. Rabbi Me’ir said: Do not look at the flask but at what it contains, for a new flask may contain old wine, and an old flask may not contain anything, even new wine’].

He said to us: ‘Do you desire indulgences without battle, or bread of battle?’ [the child may be playing on לֶחֶם (leḥem), bread, and לָחֶם (laḥem), war (see Judges 5:8); cf. Zohar 3:188b: ‘Whoever wants bread, let him eat by the mouth of the sword’; Proverbs 13:25: The righteous man eats for the sating of his gullet, but the belly of the wicked will want]. The Rabbis of the Mishnah decreed that mealtime is a time of war. If you desire to battle over it let no one eat and he who has won the battle shall eat first and apportion to the rest. The Companions said to him: You are still small, my son, and you have yet to learn how mighty men wage battle with sword, in waving the sword, with lance, with bow and arrows, and with slingstones.

He said to us: Let not the buckler of armor boast like the unfastner (1 Kings 20:11) [one shouldn’t boast of his prowess before the battle, but only after winning]. It has been explained that whoever reads the recitation of Shema at his bedside is as if he holds a double-edged sword, as is written: Exultations of God in their throat and a double-edged sword [lit., a sword of mouths] in their hand (Psalms 149:6) [cf. BT Berakhot 5a; Song of Songs 3:7–8 (included in the recitation of Shema): Look, Solomon’s bed—sixty warriors round it of the warriors of Israel. All of them wielding the sword trained in battle, each with his sword on his thigh out of terror in the nights]. The waving of the sword must be done in the six directions, as was explained, in order to make Him reign over the heavens, the earth, and the four corners of the world. ו (Vav)—body of the sword; י (yod)—head of the sword; הה (he, he)—two edges [lit., mouths]; אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)—sheath of the sword [cf. Leviticus 26:33; Tiqqnuei ha-Zohar 8b].

The רֹמַח (romaḥ), lance, is the 248 words in the recitation of Shema, and together with the six words in the unification [בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד (Barukh shem kevod malkhuto le-olam va-ed), Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever], they total רוֹמַח (romaḥ), lance [spelled fully with ו (vav), numerically equivalent to 254]. The מָגֵן (magen), shield, is with sword: מִיכָאֵל גַּבְרִיאֵל נוּרִיאֵל (Mikhael, Gavriel, Nuriel), Michael, Gabriel and Nuriel. They serve the three Patriarchs [Ḥesed, Gevurah and Tif’eret]. The bow [Yesod] shoots arrows, but ‘Any seed that does not shoot forth like an arrow does not beget offspring’ (BT Ḥagigah 15a; Niddah 43a). The sling is the recitation of Shema Yisra’el, and the five slingstones—שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה (Shema Yisra’el Adonai Elohenu Adonai), Hear, O Israel, YHWH our God, YHWH (Deuteronomy 6:4) [Ḥesed, Gevurah, Tif’eret, Netsaḥ, Hod]—correspond to David [Malkhut]: and he chose five smooth stones from the creek [and put them in the shepherd’s pouch he had, in the satchel, and his slingshot was in his hand, and he came forward toward the Philistine] (1 Samuel 17:40). When he placed them into the sling, the lip, Shekhinah, all five turned into one stone and killed the Philistine [שָׂפָה (safah), lip, and שְׁכִינָה (Shekhinah) are numerically equivalent].

And until now, I have been זָרִיקְנָא (zariqna), throwing, the stone at Samael, a stone of siege [alluding to the musical intonation זַרְקָא (zarqa), thrown. On the image of prayer shot from a sling, see Bahir §89–§91, §178; Zohar 1:23a–24b (TZ); cf. Judges 20:16]. I have ruined his siege and lowered him down. Therefore, I said to you, Let not the buckler of armor boast like the unfastner. Now it is clear to you that, indeed, I do know how mighty men wage battle with swords, with lances, with bows and with slings. We were astonished and could not speak before him. He said to us: Rabbis let us now see who will get נַהֲמָא (nahama), bread, the לֶחֶם הַמּוֹצִיא (leḥem ha-motsi), bread of ‘[Who] brings forth’ (Grace after Meals).

He opened, saying: When it happens that you eat of the bread of the land, you shall תָּרִימוּ (tarimu), present, a donation to YHWH (Numbers 15:19). How is the Shekhinah אַתְרִימָת (atrimat), raised, who is the ה (he) of ‘הַמּוֹצִיא (ha-motsi),’ regarding which the Masters of Mishnah have decreed that whoever breaks the bread of הַמּוֹצִיא (ha-motsi) must be precise in pronouncing the ה (he)? [cf. BT Berakhot 38b; ZḤ 87b]. Surely it has been decreed by the Masters of Mishnah that, ‘Chaff and straw are exempt from tithing’ [see, Zohar 2:120b (RM), cf. ibid. 2:272a; TZ 17, 31a; 69, 114a; TZḤ 113c]. When She is in the chaff and straw She is in prison, and the ה (he) does not have permission to rise to the מ (mem) [Ze’eir Anpin] to become, with it, מַה (Mah), What [numerically equivalent to the full spelling of יהוה (YHWH): יוד הא ואו הא (Yod, He, Vav, He)]. This is the meaning of תְרוּמָה (terumah), raise, which is the ה״ (five) of the five books of Torah, in which it says: and Moses was on the mountain forty days… (Exodus 24:18) [תְרוּמָה (terumah) can be read as: תּוֹרָה מ״ (Torah arba’im), Law forty].

Our Rabbis referred to the chaff and straw of the wheat, when they said that the tree of which Adam ate was wheat [see BT Berakhot 40a]. For by eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, he drew ח״ט (ḥet, tet), chaff and straw [alluding to חֵטְא (ḥet), offence], near the ה (he) [Shekhinah]. י״ (Ten) was gone from it, its tithing, therefore, when She is in straw and chaff which correspond to the removal of the foreskin and the uncovering of the male organ it is exempt from tithing [two layers of skin cover the penis, one of which is cut off and the other is cut open in פּרִיעָה (peri’ah), uncovering, at a ritual circumcision]. For י (yod) has no permission to join ה (he), which are man and woman. And this is the mystery of י (yod) in אִישׁ וְאִשָּׁה (ish ve-ishah), man and woman [cf. BT Sotah 17a]. Therefore, whoever breaks the bread must be precise pronouncing ה (he) and must break the bread where it is nicely baked, because ripening is the completion of fruit.

Ten things one should perform for the meal: first is washing hands; second is preparation of the two loaves for Sabbath [see BT Berakhot 39b; Shabbat 117b]; third is to eat of three meals and add from weekdays to holiness; fourth is to light a candle on the table, as was explained, that a table should be to the north side, and the candle on the south, and to recline, as was explained that if they recline together, one makes the blessing for everyone.

And with Sabbath, one should add from the secular to the holy in everything he does, with his food and drink, his clothing and his reclining [cf. Mekhilta, Baḥodesh 7; JT Berakhot 4:1, 7c, 13d; BT Berakhot 27a. Cf. Bereshit Rabbah 11:7; Zohar 2:47b]. He must prepare a fine sofa with many pillows and embroidered cushions from all that he has in his house, as when preparing the marriage canopy for the bride, because Sabbath is both a queen and a bride. And for this reason the Masters of Mishnah used to hasten to come out on Sabbath eve to welcome Her on the way. And they used to say: ‘בֹּאִי כַּלָּה בֹּאִי כַּלָּה (Boi kalah, Boi kalah), Come, O bride! Come, O bride!’ [see BT Shabbat 119a: ‘Rabbi Ḥanina robed himself and stood at sunset of Sabbath eve (and) exclaimed, Come and let us go forth to welcome the queen Sabbath. Rabbi Yannai donned his robes, on Sabbath eve and exclaimed, Come, O bride, Come, O bride!’]. Thus, one should arouse song and gladness for Her on that table.

There is yet another secret: just as one should receive a lady by lighting many lamps [so too] for the Sabbath, and with many delights, fine clothes, a house arrayed with many adornments, and with a beautiful sofa arranged for everyone. For gladness and preparation cause the evil slavegirl to remain in the dark in hunger, in weeping, in mourning, and in black dress like a widow. When this one is filled, this one is parched.

The good impulse is the Holy Matronita. The holy מַלְכוּת (Malkhut), Kingdom, that descends on Sabbath, comprised of ten sefirot. She is decorated with seven names that are not erased, with many chariots of living beings, and with many armies and camps. The King goes out to Her with many camps, and the evil impulse, which is the [wicked] slavegirl remains in the dark, like a widow without her husband, without [any] chariots.

It was said of those who sacrifice and burn incense to the queen of the heavens and the constellations, which I did not command (Deuteronomy 17:3), worship the slavegirl that rules on the eve of Sabbath and the eve of the fourth day. What do they do? They wear black clothes, extinguish their lights, and lament on Sabbath nights to join with her, because One against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14) [cf. Zohar 2:275a; Ibn Ezra, Perush ha-Torah on Exodus 20:14; Idel, Saturn’s Jews, p. 31–2, n. 120].

After Israel sinned and the Temple was destroyed, it is said regarding the Shekhinah, Holy Mother: How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How has she become like a widow! (Lamentations 1:1). People extinguish lamps and candles on the ninth of Av, and sit like mourners to join in the sorrow of the Shekhinah, because they caused Her all this calamity [but not on the Sabbath].

Fifth is the כּוֹס (kos), cup, for saying, וַיְכֻלּוּ (vayekhullu), then they were completed (Genesis 2:1). Sixth is to speak words of Torah at the table. Seventh is to extend the meal and allow the poor to come to the table. Eighth is washing hands with finger bowl water. Ninth is the blessing after the meal. Tenth is the cup for the blessing [after the meal]. It is necessary to repeat [these ten things] and to order them in accordance with the holy mystery, for She is comprised of ten sefirot. She is the table of the blessed Holy One from the side of Gevurah. Hence, the Rabbis have explained that the table should face the north [see Exodus 26:35, 40:22; BT Yoma 21b, 33b].

First, washing of hands: the Rabbis of the Mishnah explained ‘Filthy hands are unfit for blessing, because they are twice removed from uncleanness’ (BT Berakhot 53b). Unclean hands are the cause of defilement, being once removed from uncleanness. Clean hands are twice removed from uncleanness and are fit to bless, because blessing rests only on purity, since blessing rests on a priest, who is a pure man, a man of Ḥesed. This is: Like goodly oil on the head (Psalms 133:2). Therefore, Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus shall you bless the Israelites’ (Numbers 6:23). It was explained that every priest who blesses is blessed, and if he does not bless he is not blessed. The Masters of Mishnah have further explained that any blessing that does not have a recitation of the Name and Malkhut, is not considered a blessing, since Malkhut is Adonai.

In addition, hands should be washed up to the joint because it was decreed [to wash] י״ד (fourteen) joints. At that time, the יַד (yad), hand, of YHWH rests on him. It is the hand of blessing from the side of Ḥesed, wherein Ḥokhmah lies in the right hand. It is the hand of holiness from the side of Gevurah that prevails in Judgment. It is also the hand of unification from the aspect of Tif’eret. This rests on the fourteen joints of the body, because there are twelve joints in the two arms and in the two legs, three joints in each for a sum of six and together they are twelve. Together with the two in the body and the genital organ, they amount to fourteen.

Three times fourteen equals forty-two; ייי (yod, yod, yod) of יַד (yad), יַד (yad), יַד (yad), alludes to יְבָרֶכְךָ (yivarekha), bless you… יָאֵר (ya’er), light up… יִשָּׂא (yisa), lift up (Numbers 6:24–25) from יְהוָה יְהוָה יְהוָה (YHWH, YHWH, YHWH). דדד (Dalet, dalet, dalet) of יַד (yad), יַד (yad), יַד (yad) are implied in אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai). Of them the prophet said: The temple of YHWH, the temple of YHWH, the temple of YHWH, are these (Jeremiah 7:4) [הֵיכַל (heikhal), temple, is numerically equivalent to אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)]. Thus is established the washing of hands [comprised of י״ד (fourteen) joints].

Every side is comprised of three faces of the living beings which are יְהוָה יְהוָה יְהוָה (YHWH, YHWH, YHWH), and the three wings of the living beings are דדד (dalet, dalet, dalet). They must all derive from the power of man: יוֹד וָאו דָּלֶת הֵא אָלֶף וָאו אָלֶף וָאו הֵא אָלֶף (Yod, Vav, Dalet, He, Alef, Vav, Alef, Vav, He, Alef) [כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, is numerically equivalent to twenty-eight, the number of letters in this doubly full spelling of יהוה (YHWH), and the number of joints in the human hands. Furthermore, אָדָם (adam), human, corresponds to the simple full spelling of יהוה (YHWH): יוד הא ואו הא (Yod, He, Vav, He), since each are numerically equivalent to forty-five]. The Matronita does not dwell in his power until all the filth of the wicked, unfit slavegirl, wife to the unfit, is removed. Therefore, the Masters of Mishnah explained that ‘Filthy hands are unfit to make a blessing’ (BT Berakhot 53b).

This water is for cleansing the hand upon which the hand of YHWH rests. The hand of YHWH is water of Torah. The ignorant people are considered like unclean reptiles [see BT Pesaḥim 49b]. What good will immersing in water do them, holding in their hand that reptile, which is the wicked slavegirl, stolen goods in their possession, the stolen blessings they stole from the blessed Holy One. They do not know what a blessing is, or what filth is.

Immediately after the Companions and I heard these words, we could not bear to wait for him to finish each of these ten matters of blessings. We bowed before him, saying ‘Certainly, there is no one who could speak these matters except for you, since you are comparable to the four divisions of the Garden of Eden [see Genesis 2:10]. If a person enters the children’s section, he becomes a child; in the youth’s section he becomes a youth; in the young men’s section, he becomes a young man, and in the elder’s section, he becomes an elder. Therefore, it is written of you: מִמְּכוֹן שִׁבְתּוֹ הִשְׁגִּיחַ אֶל כָּל יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ (mimkhon shivto hishegiḥa el kal yoshvei ha-arets), from his firm throne he surveyed all who dwell on the earth (Psalms 33:14). Also, it is about you that it says: for he is but flesh. [Let his days be a hundred and twenty years] (Genesis 6:3) [בְּשַׁגַּם (beshagam), for, in as much, is numerically equivalent to מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses, see BT Ḥullin 139b]. For you were present in the generation of the dispersion, and in every generation [you return] by rolling like a wheel that turns round in many ways, yet you revealed yourself only at that generation when Torah was given at your hands [cf. BT Yoma 38b; BT Ḥagigah 13b–14a; Bahir §195].

As soon as you departed from the world you became like the sun that shines in every generation [cf. Zohar 1:147a]. Even when the sun is gathered at night, it illuminates the moon and 600,000 stars [cf. BT Bava Batra 75a: ‘The face of Moses was like that of the sun, the face of Joshua like that of the moon;’ BT Pesaḥim 94a–b]. So are you who shine on the 600,000 people in each and every generation. That is what Qohelet indicated in the verse: A generation goes and a generation comes (Ecclesiastes 1:4). The Rabbis have explained that a generation does not consist of less than 600,000 people [cf. Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 4:2]. He [namely, Rabbi Akiva] also explained the generation that passes away is the one that comes [see Bahir §121–§122]. This fulfills: מַה שֶּׁהָיָה הוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה (mah shehayah hu sheyihyeh), that which was is that, which will be [and that which was done is that which will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun] (Ecclesiastes 1:9) [מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses]. From here on, complete the ten matters of the Sabbath table openly. The Faithful Shepherd said: ‘Holy Lamp, blessed is your lot that the blessed Holy One revealed to you what He has not revealed to any prophet or seer’ [cf. BT Bava Batra 12a].

Second is to break bread over two loaves of bread on Sabbath, which are alluded to in the two tablets of Torah that were given on the Sabbath in pairs. On the third day they descended [from the Heavens, i.e., Tif’eret], on which it was said טוֹב (tov), good, twice [since it comprises right and left]. On the Sabbath Torah was given, in which there are two females, which correspond to twice טוֹב (tov), good. Though it was explained that demons are assigned to [harm] pairs as has been explained [one must not eat] two eggs or two nuts, yet if this is so, why are two loaves of bread used on Sabbath, seeing they are a pair? [see BT Pesaḥim 110b]. He responds, it is a halakhah from Moses at Sinai that those sent on pious missions will meet no evil [see BT Qiddushin 39b; cf. Pesaḥim 8a; Yoma 11a].

You may wonder why we learned that one should not begin anything on the second day or finish on the fourth day because they are pairs, which applies to matters of decrees as well, even though those sent on pious missions meet no evil. [He answers,] this is when with the motley throng, who are never sent on pious missions, because they have not converted for Heaven’s sake. [Then it is] forbidden to begin on the second day or the fourth day. However, the righteous, who have no connection with the motley throng may start on the second day and the fourth day for the sake of performing a decree, because those sent on a pious mission shall come to no harm. Therefore, after they were gone from the world [i.e., after the sin of the golden calf] the blessed Holy One commanded to take two stone tablets like the first ones (Exodus 34:1), saying: and I shall write on the tablets the words which were on the first tablets (ibid.) [and He did not mind the pairs].

Two loaves of bread on Sabbath indicate the יוֹדִין (yodin), two yods [in] יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNHY). For אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) [Malkhut] is alone without Her husband during the six weekdays. On Sabbath He descends to אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) and the combination יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNHY) is formed. Hence, all nishmatin, ruaḥin, and nafshin leave and come down in pairs on Sabbath, and no adversary or harmer, has power on the Sabbath day. Even Hell has no power and does not burn on the Sabbath. Therefore, you shall not kindle a fire in all your dwelling places on the sabbath day (Exodus 35:3). That refers to strange fire, but the fire of sacrifice is a fire of holiness. There is no need to speak at length on their apportioning as it was already explained.

Third is to eat three meals on Sabbath, as was explained by the Masters of Mishnah. One of them [Rabbi Yose] said: ‘May my portion be of those who eat three meals on the Sabbath’ (BT Shabbat 118b) [cf. BT Gittin 7a; Bava Batra 10a; Bava Metsi’a 85a; Nedarim 40a; Berakhot 15b; Pesaḥim 118a; Shabbat 118a], which complete the seven blessings in the Amidah by bringing them to a total of ten. The secret of עֹנֶג (oneg), delight, is: וְנָהָר יֹצֵא מֵעֵדֶן לְהַשְׁקוֹת אֶת הַגָּן (ve-nahar ma-eden le-hashqot et ha-gan), now a river runs out of Eden to water the garden (Genesis 2:10). Whoever can but does not observe them, for him the עֹנֶג (oneg), delight, turns into scaly נֶגַע (nega), affliction. In order that he should not come to this, the blessed Holy One says: Borrow on Me and I will pay, Then shall תִּתְעַנַּג (tit’annag), you delight yourself, upon YHWH (Isaiah 58:14).

Fourth is to light the table with a candelabra, as was decreed by the ancients, that a table should be at the north and the candelabra at the south, for the table of the blessed Holy One [Malkhut], should be set in this manner. Fifth is the wine cup of וַיְכֻלּוּ (vayekhullu), then they were completed (Genesis 2:1). The sum of כּוֹס (kos), cup, is that of אֱלֹהִים (Elohim). וַיְכֻלּוּ (Vayekhullu)—[numerically equivalent to] seventy-two which the Holy Bride comprises [i.e., the number of words said over the cup at the sanctification of the Sabbath is likewise seventy-two, as is the numerical value of מְלֹא (melo), fullness]. The כּוֹס (kos), cup, is filled with the wine of Torah which must bear testimony to the Work of Creation.

Sixth is to have words of Torah at one’s table, because that is how the Masters of Mishnah decreed ‘Three who eat at one table, and do not speak words of Torah, [they are as if they had eaten of sacrifices of dead idols]’ (M Avot 3:4). The secret is that they have decreed that the table should be to the north and that Torah was given from the right. In order to join the right, which is Compassion, with the left, which is Judgment. Torah is YHWH [Ze’eir Anpin] which was given from the right, and the table is אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) [Malkhut] which is from the left [i.e., north]. One must join them, since that table is at the left side, the Masters of Mishnah have explained that a person’s sustenance is as difficult to obtain as the splitting of the Reed Sea [see BT Pesaḥim 118b (in the name of Rabbi El’azar son of Azariyah); Bereshit Rabbah 97:3 (in the name of Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi); Zohar 1:207b; 2:52b, 170a; 3:292b (IZ); ZḤ 86d (MhN, Rut)]. Therefore, one should invite for himself a Torah scholar, who will study Torah.

Seventh is to stay a long time at the table for the lowly. Whoever stays long at the table will have his days and years extended. For that reason: righteousness saves from death (Proverbs 10:2). Since a poor man is like a dead man whom he revives the blessed Holy One also revives him [BT Berakhot 54b–55a: ‘Rav Yehudah said, There are three matters which, if one prolongs their duration, extend a person’s days and years: … one who prolongs his mealtime…. Regarding prolonging one’s mealtime, perhaps a poor person will come and he will give him’; ZḤ 86d].

Furthermore, a secret explanation: All the poor originate from the aspect of ד (dalet), about which it is said: דַּלּוֹתִי (Dalloti), I plunged down, but He did rescue me (Psalms 116:6). The pronunciation of ד (dalet) in אֶחָד (eḥad), one (Deuteronomy 6:4), should be prolonged. That is meant by the verse: in order that he may long endure in his kingship (Deuteronomy 17:20). Therefore, it is incumbent on one to stay long at the table, which is ד (dalet), because it has ד״ (four) legs. In honor of ד (dalet), one should stay long at the table for the sake of the lowly.

In relation to it the Rabbis explained that the blessed Holy One sought a beautiful quality for Israel, and found only the quality of דַלּוּת (dallut), poverty [see Tanna devei Eliyyahu Zuta 5]. A difficulty was raised here, since the ancients explained that the number of different deaths is equivalent to the sum of תֹּצָאוֹת (totsaot), ways out (Psalms 68:21), and that an empty pocket is the most difficult. How could it be said He found no better quality for Israel than poverty?

It is only because about each people and tongue, [And they shall pass through it, hardpressed and hungry:] and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall be enraged, and curse their king and their god, and look upward (Isaiah 8:21). However, the children of Israel are in a covenant with the blessed Holy One, also with this quality [poverty] and do not deny His existence. Hence they shall be redeemed by this quality. This is: a lowly people You rescue (2 Samuel 22:28). עָנִי (Ani), lowly, is derived from עִנּוּי (innui), suffering, since even when one has wealth but suffers from illnesses and afflictions, he is considered lowly. Or he is distressed [due to his wealth] and is afflicted every day. This is surely true for one who is lowlier than him, and must wander from place to place.

Another [kind of] עָנִי (ani), lowly one, who lost his mind like Job, about whom, it is said: Job speaks without דַעַת (da’at), knowledge (Job 34:35). So too is ד (dalet), which is the Shekhinah. When א״ח (alef, ḥet) [of אֶחָד (eḥad), one] were gone from Her, which is the middle pillar called דַּעַת (Da’at), Knowledge. And one [who is without knowledge] does not incur guilt with [improper] speech. Furthermore, א״ח (alef, ḥet) is Torah which is comprised of the 613 decrees. This is the meaning of: That is My name forever and thus am I invoked in all ages (Exodus 3:15). שְּׁמִי (Shemi), My name, plus יָהּ (Yah) is 365, and זִכְרִי (Zikhri), am I invoked, plus ו״ה (vav, he) is 248. Therefore it has been explained that one is lowly only in Torah and mitsvot. This is because the other lowly people suffer [but are not poor]. ד (Dalet) of אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), is also lowly without יְהֹוָה (YHWH).

Eighth is the finger bowl water that was instituted due to the salt of Sodom that is blinding to the eyes [see BT Ḥullin 105b: ‘Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabbi Ḥiyya said: Why did they say that it is obligatory to wash the hands after the meal? Because of a certain salt of Sodom which makes the eyes blind’]. Why is it considered obligatory? According to the mystery of the matter, deadly poison rests on filthy hands, with which one makes a blessing, and on a cup, over which one makes a blessing without cleanliness, and it is considered defiled. Just as a cup from which people drank is considered unclean for a blessing until it is cleansed by rinsing it inside and out, the hands all the more so. Hence finger bowl water is obligatory. The mystery is: And you shall sanctify yourselves (Leviticus 20:7)—washing of hands before the meal. And you shall become holy (ibid.)—finger bowl water. For I am Holy—fragrant ointment. [These three things] correspond to Holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6:3). And you shall sanctify yourselves—so that it shall be known that you are children of the blessed Holy One. That is what is meant by: You are children to YHWH your God (Deuteronomy 14:1).

Ninth is the cup of blessing. As has been explained by the Masters of Mishnah, ten things were said about this cup of blessing, which are: decorating, wrapping, washing, rinsing, unmixed wine, full cup, receiving it with both hands and leaving it with the right, raising it from the surface a handbreadth, looking at it, and sending it as a gift to the members of his household [cf. BT Berakhot 51a; Zohar 1:1a, 156a (ST), 240a, 250a; 2:138b, 143b, 157b; 3:245a–b (RM)]. Now we have only four, which are washing, rinsing, unmixed wine, and a full cup. Some say the wine should be taken unmixed from the cask, and water may be added to it in the cup. Some say that unmixed wine means the cup should be whole [i.e., undiluted] because its breaking is its death [on mixed and unmixed wine, see Isaiah 1:22; 65:11; Proverbs 9:2, 5; 23:30–32; BT Berakhot 50b; Sanhedrin 70a; 2 Maccabees 15:39].

כּוֹס (Kos), cup, according to the way of wisdom: אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) is מָלֵּא (malle), full, with יָהּ (Yah) [Malkhut is אִלֵּם (illem), mute, when in a state of קַטנוּת (qatnut), constriction, empty of יָהּ (Yah), cf. BT Gittin 56b; Ginnat Egoz 11c; 13d; Zohar 1:36b; 3:221a (RM)], and they are whole. However, כּוֹס (kos), cup, without ו (vav) is כֵּס (kes), throne, instead of כִּסֵּא (kisse), throne, deficient and lacking without א (alef). It is lacking without ו (vav), and is deficient. הַכִּסֵּא (Ha-kisse), the Throne, is numerically equivalent to כּוֹס (kos), cup.

כּוֹס (Kos), cup, is ה״ (five) [reckoned according to its reduced numerical value] and ten things are needed, parallel to י (yod) [in order to draw the fifty gates of Binah, see BT Rosh ha-Shanah 21b; Nedarim 38a: ‘Fifty gates of Binah were created in the world, and all were given to Moses save one, as it says, And You made him little less than אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) (Psalms 8:6)’], and they are: crowning—סוֹד הָעַטָרָה (sod ha-atarah), secret of the corona, the עֲטֶרֶת תִּפְאֶרֶת (ateret tif’eret), Diadem of Beauty [Malkhut of יְסוֹד (Yesod)]. And this is the mystery of coronation with which our patriarchs, of blessed memory, would crown disciples, and She is the עֲטֶרֶת הַבְּרִית (ateret ha-berit), Diadem of the Covenant [i.e., the covenant of circumcision]. עִטּוּף (Ittuf), wrapping: A prayer for the lowly when יַעֲטֹף (ya’atof), he covers (Psalms 102:1)—all of these blessings and prayers are covered together until the prayer of the lowly rises.

Washing and rinsing, these are like: and cleanse it and consecrate it (Leviticus 16:19). Cleansing is from the right—Ḥesed. Consecrating is from the left—Gevurah. The cup of blessing [Malkhut] is from the aspect of Binah called אֱלֹהִים (Elohim). עֲטָרָה (Atarah), corona, is from the aspect of כֶּתֶר (keter), Crown. חַי (Ḥai), unmixed, is from the aspect of Yesod [חֵי עָלְמִין (ḥei almin), Vitality of Worlds], called Peace, as is written: neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, says YHWH that has mercy on you (Isaiah 54:10) [rather, it will live forever, and thus Malkhut is called חַי (Ḥai), Living, from this aspect]. Full is from the aspect of Tif’eret. Receiving with two hands is הה (he, he) [of יהוה (YHWH)].

Leaving is with the right hand. Upper ה (he)—Ḥesed; lower ה (he)—Gevurah. Lifting off the surface a handbreadth is the mystery of י (yod), since ה (he) is raised by י (yod) [meaning that one should raise the five sefirot of Malkhut from Her place, which is the mystery of the surface, multiply Her by י״ (ten), and meditate on Her receiving the fifty gates of Binah]. Looking with the eyes is the mystery of יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNHY) since יהוה (YHWH) shines in the pupil of the eye [אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)]. יהוה (YHWH) is white, red and green, [Ḥesed, Gevurah and Tif’eret of Ze’eir Anpin (Sullam)]. Adonai shines in the two eyelids, as well as the two pupils [of the eye and hair of the eyelashes (ibid.)]. Sending a gift to the members of the household is Binah, of which is written: ‘Let Moses rejoice in the gift of his portion’ (Sabbath Morning Liturgy) [since Moses merited Binah and one must attach the cup, which is Malkhut, to the lights of Binah (ibid.)].

Tenth is blessing after the meal. It was explained by the Rabbis: with three כּוֹס (kos), a cup, is needed [at the dining table, i.e., God, must be present when three, or more, people eat together at one table, see M Avot 3:4; כּוֹס (kos), cup, and אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), God, are numerically equivalent]. And the mystery of the matter: אַהֲבַת כְּלוּלֹתָיִךְ (ahavat kelulotayikh), the love of your betrothals (Jeremiah 2:2)—[read: לְאַבוֹתָיִךְ הַכֹּל (le-avotayikh ha-kol), to your fathers: all] the Patriarchs: בַּכֹּל (bakol), in all (Genesis 24:1), מִכֹּל (mikol), of all (ibid. 27:33, cf. ibid. 25:5), כֹל (khol), all (ibid. 33:11). But we should not speak at length of it.

How do we know that grace after meals is from the Torah? Because it is written: And you will eat and be sated and bless YHWH your God [on the goodly land He has given you] (Deuteronomy 8:10). And we learned in a barraita: and blessfeeds. YHWH your Godgrace after meals. On the land—blessing on the land. The goodly—builds Jerusalem. Thus, it says, this goodly high country, and the Lebanon (Deuteronomy 3:25). But this is only after [the meal], where is [proof of the requirement to recite a blessing] before [the meal]? It is said: He has given you—from the time it is given to you [i.e., even before eating] you must bless Him [cf. JT Berakhot 7:1, 5a–b; BT Berakhot 35a].

The sages, of blessed memory, have interpreted that Moses instituted for the Israelites the blessing ‘[who] feeds’ when manna descended on them. Joshua instituted for them blessing the land in the time of the rallying for the land. David and Solomon instituted the blessing for the building of Jerusalem. Moreover, an allusion to grace after meals is found in the portion Manna, in the manna itself: ‘In the morning you shall have your fill of bread, and you shall know that I am YHWH your God’ (Exodus 16:12).

Rabbi Shim’on said: The mystery of these seven זַיְינִין (zayinin) that are inscribed on the tefillin, is that the ז (zayin) in the ש (shin) allude to the seven lobes in man’s lung, by which he draws air and exhales with it a fiery spark from his mouth [since a breath is composed of fire, water, and air, see Sefer Yetsirah §10–§14]. They also allude to the seven days and the weeks from Passover to Shavuot. Also, they allude to the seven branches of the candelabra, on which there are seven holy lamps. They also allude to the seven stars that shine in the firmament and they allude to the seven rungs by which the world is maintained, which are the foundation, root and essence of everything [i.e., the seven planets and seven lower sefirot]. The Companions said about these that whoever wishes to put on the head tefillin has to examine these two שִׁינִין (shinin) hinted in the seven זַיְינִין (zayinin), for hinted in them are hidden mysteries and deep allusions” (Zohar 3:272a–74b, Ra’aya Meheimna Eqev [for various additional customs pertaining to the Sabbath, see Zohar 2:206b–209a; 3:244b (RM)]).

Holding in Their Hand that Reptile

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Woe to human beings who do not know, consider, or see! They are all obtuse, unaware how full the world is of strange, invisible creatures, of hidden things. If the eye were empowered to see, humans would be amazed how they themselves can endure. Come and see: This Na’amah was mother of demons. From her side issue all those inflamed by human beings, absorbing their spirit of lust, titillating them, turning them into casualties of ejaculation. Since such a casualty derives from the side of impure spirit, he must bathe to purify himself, as established by the Companions” (Zohar 1:55a, cf. Deuteronomy 23:11; BT Berakhot 6a).

“Come and see: All generations in the days of Noah exposed their sins to the world brazenly, in sight of all. One day Rabbi Shim’on was walking through the gates of Tiberias when he saw some men drawing the bow taut with the shaft of a centaur. He exclaimed, ‘What! Such brazen sin, provoking their Lord?’ He cast his eyes upon them; they were hurled into the sea and drowned” (Zohar 1:58a).

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq was in the presence of Rabbi Shim’on. He asked him: This verse, And the earth was corrupt before God (Genesis 6:11)—given that humans sinned, but how did the earth [do so]? He replied: Since it is written, for all flesh had corrupted their way [upon earth] (ibid., 12), as has been said. Similarly, The earth was defiled, and I inflicted her punishment upon her (Leviticus 18:25). It was human beings who sinned. But if you ask, ‘How did earth [sin]?’ the answer is: Human beings constitute the essence of earth—they ruin earth, and it is ruined. The verse proves it, as is written: God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth (Genesis, ibid.).

Come and see: All sins of a human being are entirely his ruination, yet are susceptible to return [i.e., may be atoned by repentance]; but the sin of spilling seed, wasting his way, emitting seed upon earth, ruining both himself and the earth—of this is written: stained is your iniquity before Me (Jeremiah 2:22). Similarly, You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil cannot abide with you (Psalms 5:5), except through great returning. Similarly, Er, firstborn of Judah, was evil in the eyes of YHWH; and YHWH slew him (Genesis 38:7). This has already been explained.

Rabbi Yehudah asked: Why did the blessed Holy One punish the world with water, and not with fire or some other element? He [Rabbi Shim’on] replied: It is a mystery! For they wasted their ways, so that the upper waters and lower waters failed to unite fittingly; so did they ruin their ways, male and female waters. So they were punished by water, just like they sinned. The water was boiling, peeling off their skin, just as they wasted their ways with boiling water [cf. BT Sanhedrin 108b]. A fitting punishment, as is written: All the springs of the great abyss burst forth (ibid. 8:2)—lower waters; and the sluices of heaven opened (ibid.)—upper waters. Upper and lower waters” (Zohar 1:61b–62a).

What he did was evil in the eyes of YHWH (Genesis 38:10). Rabbi Ḥiyya opened, In the morning sow your seed… (Ecclesiastes 11:6). Come and see how greatly a person should beware his sins and be heedful in his actions before the blessed Holy One! For numerous messengers and officials populate the world, roaming around, observing human actions and testifying about them, all recorded in a book [see M Avot 2:1].

Come and see: Of all the sins by which a person is defiled in this world, this is the sin by which he is defiled both in this world and the world that is coming: spilling one’s seed fruitlessly [cf. BT Niddah 13a–b]—emitting seed in vain by hand or foot, and becoming defiled, as is written: For You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil cannot abide with You (Psalms 5:5). He does not enter the curtain nor gaze upon the Countenance of Days, as we have learned, for it is written: Evil cannot abide with You, and similarly: Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil (Genesis 38:7). Therefore, Your hands are full of blood (Isaiah 1:15). Happy is the share of a person in awe of his Lord, guarded from the evil path, purifying himself to persevere in the awe of his Lord!

Come and see: In the morning sow your seed. This verse has been established: in the morning—when a man is in his prime, in his youth; then he should strive to engender children, as is written: sow your seed. Then is the time, as is written: Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth (Psalms 127:4), since he can teach them the ways of the blessed Holy One and obtain a fine reward in the world that is coming, as is written: Happy is the man who fills his quiver with them; they will not be put to shame… (ibid., 5)—in that world, when masters of judgment come to accuse him; for you cannot find a better reward in that world than one who has taught his child the awe of his Lord and the ways of Torah.

Come and see from Abraham, of whom is written For I have known him, so that he will instruct his children… (Genesis 18:19). So the merit stands him well in that world against all masters of judgment; therefore, In the morning sow your seed. And at evening—even in old age, a time when a person wanes, what is written? Do not hold back your hand—one should not forsake engendering in this world. Why? For you do not know which will prosper… (Ecclesiastes, ibid.), so that they can stand up for him in that world. Therefore, Children are the heritage of YHWH (Psalms 127:3). Who is heritage of YHWH? Bundle of the soul [Shekhinah], aspect of the world that is coming. As for this heritage, who entitles one to enter the heritage of YHWH? Children—those children entitle him to the heritage of YHWH. So, happy is the person who attains them and teaches them the ways of Torah, as has been said” (Zohar 1:188a).

“Whoever emits his seed fruitlessly is called evil and does not see the face of Shekhinah, as is written: You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil cannot abide with You (Psalms 5:5), and similarly: Er, firstborn of Judah, was evil in the eyes of YHWH (Genesis 38:7). Here too, Woe to the wicked! Evil!—woe to that wicked one, who is evil, who made himself evil. For what his hands have perpetrated will be requited to him—to include one who fornicates with his hands, emitting seed fruitlessly; this one is tormented in that world more than all.

Come and see! For it is written: Woe to the wicked! Evil! Since it is written Woe to the wicked, why evil? But as I have said: He made himself evil. And it is written: Evil cannot abide with You. All of them ascend, whereas this one does not. Now, you might ask, ‘What about other sinners who have killed people? Come and see: All of them ascend, but he does not. Why? Because they have killed other human beings, whereas he has killed his children—his very own children!—spilling much blood.

Come and see: Of other sinners of the world is not written It was evil in the eyes of YHWH, where as here is written What he did was evil in the eyes of YHWH (ibid., 10). Why? Because he wasted on the ground (ibid., 9).

We have learned: Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘There is nothing in the world for which one cannot repent, except for this [cf. Zohar 1:61b–62a]. There is no sinner who cannot see the face of Shekhinah, except for this one, as is written: Evil cannot abide with You—at all!” (Zohar 1:219b).

“Woe to him for that punishment, woe to him for tainting the sign of the holy covenant! Woe to him for that shame, for eternal vengeance will be wreaked upon him—vengeance of this world and vengeance for that taint. This is the mystery of what is written: For the rod of wickedness shall not rest on the portion of the righteous (Psalms 125:3)…. This pertains if one has not turned back completely in repentance, a turning capable of covering his deeds” (Zohar 2:214b).

“And we have learned: A man is forbidden to gaze at the beauty of a woman, so that he not have evil fantasies and be uprooted to something else. This is how Rabbi Shim’on acted when he was walking through town, followed by the Companions, and they saw beautiful women. He would lower his eyes and say to the Companions, ‘Do not turn to idols (Leviticus 19:4).’ For whoever gazes at a woman’s beauty during the day will have fantasies at night; and if they overwhelm him, he transgresses Do not make molten gods for yourselves (ibid.). Furthermore, if he has intercourse with his wife while those evil imaginings arise within him, the children they engender are called molten gods. Do not turn to idols. Rabbi Abba said, ‘A person is forbidden to look at idols of the nations or to derive benefit from them—all the more so, to look at a place that should not be seen” (Zohar 3:83b–84a).

You shall show them no grace. [You shall not intermarry with them. You shall not give your daughter to his son, nor shall you take his daughter for your son. For he will make your son swerve from following Me…] (Deuteronomy 7:2–4). For Rav said: One is forbidden to say, ‘How beautiful is this idolatress!’ The following objection was raised: It happened that Rabban Shim’on son of Gamaliel, while standing on a step on the Temple-mount, saw a heathen woman who was particularly beautiful, and he exclaimed: ‘How great are Your works, O YHWH!’ (Psalms 104:24). Likewise, when Rabbi Akiva saw the wife of the wicked Tyranus Rufus [Governor of Judea], he spat, then laughed, and then wept. ‘Spat’—because of her originating only from a fetid drop [see M Avot 3:1]; ‘laughed’—because he foresaw that she would become a convert and that he would take her to wife; ‘wept,’ that such beauty should [ultimately] decay in the dust.

What then about Rav’s ruling? [who holds that one must not admire the beauty of a genitle woman]. [He might say that] each of these rabbis merely offered thanksgiving. For a Master has said: He who beholds goodly creatures should say, ‘Blessed be He who has created such in His world’ [cf. BT Berakhot 58b]. But is even mere looking permitted? The following can surely be raised as an objection: [When you sally forth in a camp against your enemy,you shall keep yourself from every evil thing (Deuteronomy 23:10), that one should not look intently at a beautiful woman, even if she be unmarried, or at a married woman even if she be ugly, nor at a woman’s attractive dress, nor at male and female donkeys, or a pig and a sow, or at fowls when they are mating; even if one is all eyes like the Angel of Death!

It has been said of the Angel of Death that he is completely full of eyes. When a sick person is about to die, he stands above the head of the bed. In his hand is a drawn sword with a bitter drop suspended. When the sick person sees him, he is terrified and opens his mouth. The angel flings the drop inside [cf. Job 20:14: vipers’ bile in his gut]. From this drop he dies; from this drop he turns putrid; from this drop his face turns green [therefore the Angel of Death is called סָמָאֵל (sama’el), the Venom of God].

[What may have happened in the aforementioned case of Rabban Shim’on son of Gamaliel was that] the woman turned round a corner [and her face thus met his eyes unexpectedly]” (BT Avodah Zarah 20a).

“Our Rabbis taught: If a man counts out money from his hand into the hand of a woman so as to have the opportunity of gazing at her, even if he can vie in Torah and good deeds like Moses our teacher, he shall not escape the punishment of Hell, as it says, Hand to hand the evil will not go scot-free (Proverbs 11:21), he shall not escape from the punishment of Hell” (BT Berakhot 61a).

“Rabbi Meir used to mock עוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵירָה (overei aveirah), transgressors. One day Satan appeared to him in the guise of a woman on the opposite bank of the river. As there was no ferry, he seized the ‘rope’ and עֶבֶר (ever), crossed. When he had reached half way along the ‘rope,’ he let him go saying: ‘Had they not proclaimed in Heaven, ‘Take heed of Rabbi Meir and his learning,’ I would have valued your blood [i.e., life] at two ma’ahs.’ Rabbi Akiva used to mock transgressors. One day Satan appeared to him as a woman on the top of a palm tree. Grasping the tree, he went climbing up: but when he reached half-way up the tree he let him go, saying: ‘Had they not proclaimed in Heaven, ‘Take heed of Rabbi Akiva and his learning,’ I would have valued your blood at two ma’ahs.’

Peleimo used to say every day, ‘An arrow in the Adversary’s eyes!’ One day—it was the eve of Yom Kippur—he disguised himself as a poor man and went and called out at his door; so bread was taken out to him. He said, ‘On such a day, when everyone is within, shall I be without?’ He was taken in and bread was offered him. He said, ‘On a day like this, when everyone sits at the table, shall I sit alone!’ He was led and sat down at the table. As he sat, his body was covered with sores and puss, and he was behaving repulsively. ‘Sit properly,’ he rebuked him. He said, ‘Give me a cup,’ and one was given him. He coughed and spat his phlegm into it. They scolded him, he fainted and died. Then they [the household] heard people crying out, ‘Peleimo has killed a man, Peleimo has killed a man!’ Fleeing, he hid in a toilet; he followed him, and he fell before him. Seeing how he was suffering, he disclosed his identity and said to him, why have you spoken this way [provoking me by saying: An arrow in the Adversary’s eyes]? What then should I say? You should say: ‘The Compassionate rebuke Satan’ [cf. Zechariah 3:2: YHWH rebuke You, הַשָּׂטָן (ha-satan), the Accuser]” (BT Qiddushin 81a–b).

“Rav Yoḥanan said: Man has a small member—when he starves it, it is satisfied, and when he satisfies it, it is starving” (BT Sukkot 52b).

And I saw among the dupes, discerned among the young men a witless lad, passing through the streets, by the corner, on the way to her house he strides, at twilight, as evening descends, in pitch-black night and darkness. And, look, a woman to meet him, whore’s attire and hidden intent. Bustling she is and wayward, in her house her feet do not stay. Now outside, now in the square, and by every corner she lurks.

She seizes him and kisses him, impudently says to him: “I had to make well-being offerings, today I’ve fulfilled my vows. And so I’ve come out to meet you, to seek you, and I’ve found you. With coverlets I’ve spread my couch, dyed cloths of Egyptian linen. I’ve sprinkled my bed with myrrh, with aloes and cinnamon. Come, let us drink deep of loving till morn, let us revel in love’s delights….” She sways him with all her talk, with her smooth speech she leads him astray. He goes after her in a trice, as an ox goes off to the slaughter, as a stag prances into a halter. Till an arrow pierces his liver, as a bird hastens to the snare, not knowing the cost is his life.

And now, sons, listen to me, and attend to my mouth’s sayings. Let your heart not veer to her ways, and do not go astray on her paths. For many the victims she has felled, innumerable all whom she has killed. Through her house are the ways to Sheol, going down to the chambers of Death (Proverbs 7:7–18, 21–27).

“The secret of secrets: From the strength of the noon-flame of Isaac, from the dregs of wine, a naked shoot came forth, comprising together male and female, red like a lily, and they spread out on several sides, down several paths. The male is called Samael and his female is always included with him. Just as on the side of holiness there are male and female, so on the other side there are male and female, included one with the other. The female of Samael is called ‘serpent,’ ‘a wife of harlotry,’ ‘the end of all flesh,’ ‘the end of days.’

Two evil spirits are attached to one another. The male spirit is fine, the female spirit spreads out down several ways and paths, and is attached to the male spirit. She dresses herself in finery like an abominable harlot and stands at the corners of streets and highways in order to attract men. When a fool approaches her, she embraces him and kisses him, and mixes her dregs of wine with snake poison for him. Once he has drunk, אַסְטֵי (astei), he turns aside, after her. When she sees that he has turned aside after her from the way of truth, she takes off all the finery that she had put on for the sake of this fool [cf. Bahir §164].

This is the finery that she uses to seduce mankind: her hair is long, red like a lily; her face is white and pink; six pendants hang at her ears; her bed is made of Egyptian flax; all the ornaments of the East encircle her neck; her mouth is shaped like a tiny door, beautified with cosmetic; her tongue is sharp like a sword; her words smooth as oil; her lips beautiful, red as a lily, sweetened with all the sweetnesses in the world; she is dressed in purple, and attired in thirty-nine items of finery. This fool turns aside after her, and drinks from the cup of wine, and commits harlotry with her, completely enamored of her. What does she do? She leaves him asleep on the bed and ascends to the realms above, accuses him, obtains authority, and descends. The fool wakes up, thinking to sport with her as before, but she takes off her finery, and turns into a fierce warrior, facing him in a garment of flaming fire, a vision of dread, terrifying both body and soul, full of horrific eyes, a sharpened sword in his hand with drops of poison suspended and dripping from it. He kills the fool, and throws him into Hell” (Zohar 1:148a–b, Sitrei Torah, cf. Zohar 1:190a–b; 2:163a–b; 3:19a, 76b–77a).

“The Queen does not dwell in one’s כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, [namely] the כ״ח (twenty-eight) finger joints, until all the filth of the wicked, unfit slavegirl, wife to the unfit, is removed. Therefore, the Masters of Mishnah explained that ‘filthy hands are unfit to make a blessing’ (BT Berakhot 53b). This water is for cleansing the hand upon which the hand of YHWH rests. The hand of YHWH is the water of Torah. The ignorant people are considered as unclean reptiles [see BT Pesaḥim 49b]. What good will immersing in water do them, holding in their hand that reptile, which is the wicked slavegirl, stolen goods in their possession, the stolen blessings they stole from the blessed Holy One. They do not know what a blessing is, or what filth is” (Zohar 3:273b, Ra’aya Meheimna Eqev).

The Power is in our Hands

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“Our Rabbis taught: Rabbi Akiva  was once confined in a prison-house and Rabbi Yehoshu’a the grits-maker was attending on him. Every day, a certain quantity of water was brought in to him. On one occasion he was met by the prison keeper who said to him, ‘Your water today is rather much; do you perhaps require it for undermining the prison?’ He poured out a half of it and handed to him the other half. When he came to Rabbi Akiva the latter said to him, ‘Yehoshu’a, do you not know that I am an old man and my life depends on yours?’ When he told him all that had happened [Rabbi Akiva] said to him, ‘Give me some water to wash my hands.’ ‘It will not suffice for drinking, will it suffice for washing your hands?’ ‘What can I do when one is liable to death? It is better that I should die my own death than neglect the knowledge of my Companions [who ordained the washing of hands before meals].’ It was related that he tasted nothing until the other had brought him water and he washed his hands. When the Sages heard of this incident they remarked: ‘If he was so in his old age how much more must he have been so in his youth; and if he was so in a prison-house how much more when not in a prison-house’” (BT Eruvin 21b).

“There is one who fears without knowing what he fears, because of sins that he did not recognize as sin, that he did not consider. It is he who fears days of evil (Psalms 49:6)—those days designated for the evil one. And who are they? This is the evil impulse, called evil one, who has certain days on which he is authorized in the world to lead astray all those who defile their ways, for one who comes to defile himself, they defile. So these are called days of evil, and they are assigned to those sins people trample underfoot [i.e., the iniquity of my heels (ibid.)].

Come and see: All those who defile their ways encounter bands of dazzling demons, defiling them. On the path one wishes to take, on precisely that path he is conducted. If a person comes to purify himself, how many are those who assist him [see BT Makkot 10b]!

We have learned that when a person rises in the morning, he should wash his hands from a receptacle of water—a vessel for pouring water—by means of someone who has already washed his hands, as has been established. Come and see: On account of this receptacle, we have established this matter [of ‘sins that people trample under foot’ i.e., seemingly insignificant misdeeds, peccadilloes, see BT Avodah Zarah 18a (in the name of Rabbi Shim’on son of Laqish); Tanḥuma, Eqev 1].

Further, a person should wash the right hand with the left; this is the purpose of washing. So one who washes his hands should wash right with left, so as not to provide any opening for the evil impulse to dominate, as we have established” (Zohar 1:198a–b).

“Water is from the right and it is joy. It immediately gives to the left, where that water cleaves, bringing joy. Then it is included in the right and arouses the Female with that joy. Your sign: one who takes water in a vessel with his right hand; the first to pour water is the left—and not from left to right, since water is received from the right by the left. Therefore, water is found only on the left….

After a person has eaten and enjoyed himself, he should give part of the remnants to that side. What is that? Fingerbowl water—that filth of the hands—for one must give that side the portion that he needs…. Consequently, one should not bless at all, for there is no blessing on that side” (Zohar 2:154b).

Afflictions of the children of Adam (2 Samuel 7:14). These lure human beings at doorways, wells, and toilets. Therefore, if a person places the Holy Name at his doorway—if שַׁדַּי (Shaddai) is inscribed in its supernal crowns—they all flee far away from him, corresponding to what is written: No affliction will draw near your tent (Psalms 91:10). What is affliction? Afflictions of the children of Adam” (Zohar 3:76b).

“To wash the hands to the extent that the Sages decreed, namely five knots, which contain fourteen joints. Similarly there are fourteen joints in the left [יָד (yad), hand, is numerically equivalent to י״ד (fourteen)], making twenty-eight joints. And against these כ״ח (twenty-eight) ‘the כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, of YHWH,’ and these are the twenty-eight letters of the first verse in the Works of Creation [see Genesis 1:1], and of them is written: And so, let the Lord’s כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, pray, be great (Numbers 14:17). The ten fingers correspond to the ten acts of speech at the creation of the world [וַיֹּאמֶר (va’yomer), and He said, is counted ten times in Genesis 1, see M Avot 5:1]: For this reason, the Masters of Mishnah taught: ‘Whoever is careless over washing hands is uprooted from the world’ (BT Sotah 4b). Why is this? It is because the ten fingers of the hands and the twenty-eight joints of the fingers contain the mystery of the ten acts of speech and the twenty-eight letters with which the world was created” (Zohar 3:244b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Rabbi Pinḥas son of Ya’ir said: Study leads to precision, precision leads to zeal, zeal leads to cleanliness, cleanliness leads to restraint, restraint leads to purity, purity leads to holiness, holiness leads to meekness, meekness leads to fear of sin, fear of sin leads to saintliness, saintliness leads to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit leads to revival of the dead” (BT Avodah Zarah 20b).