The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: heart

Bribing the Other Side: Save from the Sword My Soul, from the Cur’s Power My Person

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“Come and see: Had [Job] given a portion to all, the Accuser could not have prevailed against him later. Now, you might ask, ‘Why did the blessed Holy One harm him?’ Well, because he caused the light to be covered and concealed, and did not bring another offering, sustaining others—only an ascent offering, rising above. Therefore it is written: This Job did continually (Job 1:5). For if the Other Side had been nourished with a portion, he would have been removed from the Temple and withdrawn, and the side of Holiness would have ascended higher and higher. But he did not want another to be nourished by his offering, so he removed himself from him. How do we know? As is written: and shunning evil (Job 1:1). Therefore he always brought an ascent offering, from which the Other Side never derives pleasure; so everything that he later took was his to take. Thus Job caused foreskin to cover the sealed covenant, from which it did not depart; and consequently the blessed Holy One aroused that Accuser, as is written: Have you noticed My servant Job? (Job 1:8).

Come and see: When the blessed Holy One wished to unite with Israel, the time was not ripe because foreskin covered the light—until that Accuser took what was his from Job. Therefore the blessed Holy One commanded that it be eaten in haste, for that Other Side was engaged with Job, and He commanded them to remove foreskin. Then the blessed Holy One united with Israel, and that Other Side separated from holiness, engaging with Job and taking what was his. Then, It is a passover offering to YHWH (Exodus 12:11). For until now, it was not a passover offering to YHWH. Happy are they who unify their Lord fittingly!…

Come and see: The goat that Israel sends to the dessert is in order to give a portion to that Other Side, with which to be occupied. Now, you might say, ‘Why two goats here—one for YHWH and one for that Other Side? Granted, that goat of the Other Side, but why for YHWH? ‘Well, this may be compared to a king who sat in judgement over his son. He summoned the bailiff, who regularly administers punishment, so that he would prepare to punish his son. That bailiff was glad, and entered the king’s palace to eat there. When his son saw, he said to himself, ‘Surely, this bailiff has come into my father’s palace only because the king is angry with me.’ What did he do? He went and reconciled with him. Once he had done so, the king ordered that the bailiff should not know of it. Afterward, the bailiff entered. The king said to himself, ‘Now if this one knows about the meal that I have prepared for myself and my son, the table will be disrupted.

What did he do? He summoned the butler and told him, ‘Prepare something and place it in front of me and in front of that bailiff, so that he thinks he is dining from my food in my presence, and he won’t know about that precious joyous feast for me and my son; he will take that portion and leave, and withdraw from the joy of our feast.’ If the king had not done so, that bailiff would not have departed from the king’s palace. Therefore the blessed Holy One said, ‘Prepare two goats, one for Me and one for that Denouncer, so that he will think that he is eating from My meal and be unaware of our other joyous feast, and he will take that portion and go on his way and depart from My house” (Zohar 2:181b–185a).

“There is a saying: ‘To the contemptible one in the royal palace—give him a little wine and he will praise you before the king. Otherwise, he will speak evil; and sometimes superiors of the palace convey those words, on account of which the king imposes punishment.’

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘This may be compared to a fool who stands before the king. Give him some wine and then tell him and show him all those deviancies you have committed and all those bad deeds, and he will come and praise you, saying that there is no one in the world like you.

Here, too, the Denouncer is standing constantly before the King. The people of Israel present him this gift, in which is a list of all the bad deeds, all the deviancies, and all the sins that they have committed; and he comes and praises Israel and becomes their Defender. And the blessed Holy One transfers everything onto the head of his people, since it is written For you are heaping live coals on his head, and YHWH will reward you (Proverbs 25:22)” (Zohar 3:101b–102a).

“Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani in the name of Rabbi Yonatan said: Every mitsvah that one performs in this world precedes him and walks in front of him in the world to come, as is said: And your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of YHWH shall be your rear guard (Isaiah 58:8). Likewise, every transgression that one commits מְלֻפַּפְתּוֹ (melupafto), clasps round him, and leads him on the day of judgment, as is said, יִלָּפְתוּ (Yillaftu), they clasp round him, the path of their way (Job 6:18). Rabbi El’azar said: It is attached to him like a dog, as is said, And he would not listen to her, to lie by her, to be with her (Genesis 39:10). To lie by her—in this world; to be with her—in the world to come” (BT Avodah Zarah 5a).

“As the saying goes, ‘Throw a dog a bone and he’ll lick the dust off your feet.’ Son of Zoma was asked, ‘Is it permitted to castrate a dog?’ [see BT Ḥagigah 14b, cf. M Avot 4:1; Zohar 2:89a]? He replied, ‘[And anything with crushed or smashed or torn-off or cut-off testes you shall not bring forward to YHWH, and] in your land you shall not do it (Leviticus 22:24)—to all that is in your land you shall not do it.’ Just as the world needs this, the world needs that! Concerning this is said: and behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31)—the Angel of Death. It must not be eliminated from the world [see BT Sanhedrin 64a]; the world needs it! Even though it is written concerning them: The dogs are fiercely ravenous, [they never know satiety] (Isaiah 56:11), they should not be abolished from the world. All is required—good and bad! Accordingly, on this day we must throw the dog a bone [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 46: ‘They gave him a bribe on Yom Kippur so that he would not nullify Israel’s sacrifice’]. While he is dragging it, the one who enters the hall of the King enters, with no one to hinder him. Afterward, he wags his tail!” (Zohar 3:63b, Piqqudin).

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my rescue are the words that I roar. My God, I call out by day and You do not answer, by night—no stillness for me…. For the curs came all around me, a pack of the evil encircled me, like a lion at my hands and my feet (Psalms 22:2–3, 17).

I considered till morning, that, as a lion, so will He break all my bones: from day even to night will You make an end of me (Isaiah 38:13).

“There is there [in the afterlife] a certain path, and in that path a certain attribute like a dog. When the soul enters any one of those pathways, the dog sees her and immediately he barks. When the demons and angels of destruction hear his voice, they know that a soul is there. Immediately they come and seize the soul and sling her, as is written, The נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), soul, of your enemies He will sling from the hollow of a sling (1 Samuel 25:29), until they cast her into Hell. King David, peace upon him, pleaded before the blessed Holy One to save him from that dog, as is said: Save נַפְשִׁי (nafshi), my soul, from the sword, my only one from the clutches of a dog (Psalms 22:21). Now, was David, king of Israel, afraid of a single dog?! Rather, of that attribute called ‘dog.’

They said further: The souls of Israel do not enter that place of those pathways, and that dog does them no harm, as is said: But against any of the Children of Israel, no dog will snarl (Exodus 11:7)” (Midrash ha-Ne’lamAddendum 2 [Qeta Lo Yadu’a 82–83]).

“Likewise, when a man dies, if he has been meritorious, the image of a lion descends to welcome his נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), soul, but if he has not, an image of a dog descends, of which David said: Save from the sword my soul, from the cur’s hand my person (Psalms 22:21). And since the blessed Holy One desired to save the bodies of Israel from them, and their soul too, He commanded that sacrifices be offered of beasts and bodies in their stead. This is according to: If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. [For you shall heap coals of fire upon his head, and YHWH shall reward you] (Proverbs 25:21–22). But the blessed Holy One takes nothing except the desire of the heart and remorse of the heart, as is written: Elohim’s sacrifices—a broken רוּחַ (ruaḥ)spirit. A broken, crushed heart Elohim spurns not (Psalms 51:19). They are like earthenware vessels, about which it is said: ‘After they are broken, they become pure’ (BT Shabbat 16a)….

A hungry dog: whoever does not want to be bitten by it gives it meat or bread to eat and water to drink. And the secret of the matter is: If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink (Proverbs 25:21–22). He thereby becomes friendly towards the person, and not only does he not bite him, with a number of troubles, but he becomes an advocate for him and loves him” (Zohar 3:247b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

Israel: Heart of the Whole World

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“And look, it is well known that all members of the body absorb everything, while the heart cannot absorb even a thread of a strand of hair!” (Zohar 2:108a).

“There are three rulers above, through whom the blessed Holy One is known, and they are His precious mystery: מוֹחָא (moḥa), the brain, לִבָּא (libba), the heart, and כַבְדָּא (khavdda), the liver [—מֶלֶך (melekh), King]. They act the opposite of this world. Above, the brain receives first, and then gives to the heart; the heart receives and gives to the liver, and then the liver gives a portion to all those sources below, every single one fittingly. Below, the liver receives first, and then brings all near the heart, and the heart receives. Once it has received and been invigorated, from the very vigor and delight that it received, it gives to the brain, stimulating it. Then, the liver resumes distributing to all sources of the body” (Zohar 2:152b–153a, cf. ibid. 1:139a [MhN]).

“If Assembly of Israel did not initiate arousal, the one above would not be aroused toward Her. By desire below, all is consummated” (Zohar 1:35a).

“[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 [i.e., directions] 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]).

“Surely we are closer to the supernal King than all other nations! Surely it is so, for the blessed Holy One made Israel the heart of the whole world. So is Israel among the other nations: the heart among the limbs of the body. All inhabitants of the world are the limbs, while Israel is the heart in their midst; and if Israel did not exist in the world, no nations could endure for even a moment—like limbs without a heart. Therefore they are in the middle of the whole world—the heart within the limbs.

Israel conducts herself among the other nations like the heart among the limbs. The heart is tender and weak, yet it is the vitality of all the limbs. None of the limbs knows pain, distress, and agony at all, only the heart, containing vitality and intelligence. [Pain] comes nowhere near the other limbs, since they have no vitality and know nothing. None of the other limbs come near the king—who is intelligence and wisdom located in the brain—only the heart. The other limbs are far from him and know nothing about him. Similarly, Israel is close to the Holy King, whereas the other nations are far from Him [cf. Kuzari 2:25–44; Tanḥuma, Qedoshim 10]….

Israel eats no animal that has not been slaughtered properly or is diseased or defective, or the dirty filth of detestable and creeping things, as do other nations…. For, in fact, the heart—which is tender and weak, yet king and vitality of all the other limbs—takes for its nourishment only the purest and clearest of all blood, so its food is cleanest and most refined of all, whereas the remaining refuse it leaves for all the other limbs. These other limbs do not care about this; rather, they take the refuse and the worst and most foul of all—and they are fittingly strong [cf. Kuzari 2:41].

Consequently, among the other limbs there are blisters, inflammation, rash, and scaly affliction; whereas for the heart, none of these at all. Rather, it is cleanest and purest of all, with no blemish whatsoever. Concerning this it is written: You are wholly beautiful, my love; there is no blemish in you (Song of Songs 4:7).

Rabbi Yose came and kissed his hands. He said, ‘If I have come into the world just to hear this, it is enough!'” (Zohar 3:221a–b, cf. BT Yoma 39a; Zohar 2:125b; 3:41b–42a, 75b).

“The Faithful Shepherd said, ‘Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai], it is certain that אִצְטוֹמְכָא (itstomkha), the rumen [or: אִסְטוֹמְכָא (istomkha), see BT Ḥullin 50b], takes everything up to six hours and bakes [cf. Zohar 2:125b]. For the rumen is a baker. And the lung is a cupbearer. The heart is king, and these two are certainly the baker and the cupbearer who give to the king of the choicest of food and drinks, for he is the head of them all and the choicest of them all. And this is the meaning of what is written: I have gathered my myrrh with my perfume, I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey, I have drunk my wine with my milk (Song of Songs 5:1). Eat, friends, and drink, be drunk with loving (ibid.)—the other parts of the body [i.e., the Companions], the armies and camps of the king who distribute food to them by means of the chief baker while drink is by means of the chief cupbearer [i.e., the lung. On the chief baker and the chief cupbearer see Genesis 40, cf. Zohar 1:192a]….

And in the primary composition of the first part [Zohar 3:235b], the Faithful Shepherd [Moses] opened, saying, ‘Woe to those people whose hearts are closed and whose eyes are unseeing, who do not know the organs of their own body and according to what they are arranged. For the trachea is composed of three forces: הֶבֶל (hevel), vapor, לַהַב אֵשׁ (lahav esh), a flash of fire—issuing from the heart and split into seven vapors as said by Qohelet [there are seven iterations of הֶבֶל (hevel) in Ecclesiastes 1:2, see BT Bava Batra 100b]—and air, entering from outside. Water of the lobes of the lung which are attached to the trachea. And from these three—water, air, and fire—Voice is assisted, and each one is split into seven, and they are seven flashes, seven climates, and seven streams [see Zohar 2:30b; 3:10a].

And when the flashes of the heart meet with the rain clouds, which are the wings of the lung, by way of the trachea of the lung, the result is: And His might’s thunder who can grasp? (Job 26:14). For therein the heart understands with Binah, which is in the heart on the left, Gevurah. And Ḥesed is to the right, the water of the wings of the lung, and Ḥokhmah, which is brain, is there [Ḥesed and Gevurah ascend becoming Ḥokhmah and Binah (Sullam)]. And from it comes a garden spring, a garden of fresh water and streams from לְבָנוֹן (Levanon), Lebanon (Song of Songs 4:15)—לִּבּוּנָא (libbuna), whiteness, of the brain that trickles through the trachea of the lung, after the clouds of Binah have ascended to the brain [cf. Zohar 3:135b (IR)].

And the mystery of the matter is in: Who is this coming up from the desert like a pillar of smoke [perfumed with myrrh and frankincense from all the merchant’s powders?] (Song of Songs 3:6). For this is smoke of the arrangement on the altar that rises from the heart to the brain, which cannot be moved from its place by all the breaths of the world. חָכְמָה (Ḥokhmah), Wisdom—כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, [of] מ״ה (forty-five) [i.e., יוד הא ואו הא (YHWH) numerically equivalent to forty-five]: כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, in the heart and מָה (mah), What, in the brain. The trachea is Tif’eret and incorporates six sefirot which are the six rungs to the Throne, Mother, so that Ḥokhmah from the brain will rest on the heart, for with it the heart understands. For this reason: קְנֵה חָכְמָה קְנֵה בִינָה (Qeneh Ḥokhmah, qeneh Vinah), Get wisdom, get understanding (Proverbs 4:5). Father descends with Her; Father ascends with Her. And this is a ladder on which two ascend and two descend” (Zohar 3:234b–235a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).