The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: I

אָנֹכִי (Anokhi)

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I [am YHWH your God] (Exodus 20:2)—this is an acronym: אֲנָא נַפְשִׁי כְּתִיבַתְּ יְהָבִית (ana nafshi ketivat yehavit), I give Myself in writing [cf. Zohar 3:73a: ‘There are three rungs, interlinked—the blessed Holy One, Torah, and Israel.’].

The Rabbis interpreted: אֲמִירַה נָעִימָה כְּתִיבָה יֶהִיבַּה (amirah ne’imah ketivah yehibbah), Sweet speech, a writing, a gift. Others say, אָנֹכִי (anokhi), I, reversed is: יָהִיבַּה כְּתִיבָה נֶאֱמָנִין אֲמָרֵיהָ (yahibbah ketivah ne’emanin amareiah), Scripture was given, steadfast are its words” (BT Shabbat 105a).

“Rabbi Neḥemiah said: What is אָנֹכִי (Anokhi) (Exodus 20:2)? It is the Egyptian language. Why did He use such a word? Like a king of flesh and blood whose son was captured: imprisoned, he labored many days until the king emerged in vengeance to free his son. He brought him back, speaking with him in the captor’s language. So it was with the blessed Holy One; Israel labored all those years in Egypt where they learned the Egyptian language. When the blessed Holy One came to give them the Torah they could not understand. Thus the blessed Holy One spoke to them in the Egyptian language, saying: Behold, I am מָשִׁיחַ (mashiaḥ), He who draws out [cf. Genesis 37:28; Exodus 2:10].

אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I—אֲנוֹךְ (anokh), ‘Who stand here’ [cf. Amos 7:7; Ibn Ezra on Exodus 3:11]. Thus the blessed Holy One opened with the expression ‘אָנֹכִי (anokhi), I, am YHWH your God….

Rabbi Ḥanina son of Papa said: The blessed Holy One appeared to Israel with an angry face, with an impartial face, with a welcoming face, with a playful face…. The blessed Holy One said to them: ‘Though you see Me in all these guises: אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I, am YHWH your God [who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves] (Exodus 20:2). Rabbi Levi said: The blessed Holy One appeared to them like an icon with a face [that could be seen] from any angle—a thousand people gaze at Her and She gazes at all of them.…

David said: YHWH’s voice in power (Psalms 29:4). It is not written YHWH’s voice in His power, but rather YHWH’s voice in power—[according to the capacity] of each and every one. The blessed Holy One said: Even though you hear many voices, know that I am He: אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I, am YHWH your God” (Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 12:24–25).

“Rabbi Yose said, ‘אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I, am YHWH your God (Exodus 20:2). I—Shekhinah, as is written: אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I, Myself will go down with you to Egypt (Genesis 46:4)” (Zohar 2:85a).

“אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I (Exodus 20:2)—Secret of secrets for those who know wisdom: The moment these letters came forth, secretly circling as one, a spark flashed out to engrave. A flowing measure extended ten cubits on this side, and out shot comets inside comets, seventy-one [the numbers correspond to the numerical value of אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I]. Sparks burst out into flashes, up high, beyond, beyond. The flow measured out ten cubits on the other side, and comets shot out in colors as before. And so on every side.

The spark expanded, whirling round and round. Sparks burst into flashes and rose high above. The heavens blazed with all their powers; everything flashed, sparkled as one. Then the spark turned from the side of the south and outlined a curve from the side of the south and outlined a curve from there to the east and from east to north until it circled back to the south as before. Then the spark swirled, disappearing; comets and flashes dimmed” (Zohar Ḥadash 41b).

“אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I—mystery of two thrones: אֲנִי (ani), כ (kaf) of another throne” (Zohar 2:91a).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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