The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: Israel

My Son, My Firstborn, My Servant Israel: Clinging to the King Clingingly Comes Through His Son

“The first commandment: the primary beginning of all the commandments is to know the blessed Holy One in general. What is meant by ‘in general’? To know that there is a supreme power who is Master of the Universe, and created all worlds—heaven and earth and all their forces. This is the meaning of ‘in general.’ The end of all—’in particular’; to know Him in particular.

General and particular are beginning and end, mystery of male and female as one. Consequently, the human being in this world comprises general and particular; the restoration of this world is general and particular. So, the beginning of all is to know that there is a ruler and judge over the world, and that He is Master of all worlds, and created the human being from dust, and blew into his nostrils the soul-breath of life. This is the meaning of ‘in general terms.’

When Israel left Egypt, they did not know the blessed Holy One [cf. Zohar 1:157b; 2:161a, 198b]. When Moses came to them, the first commandment that he taught them was as is written: and you shall know that I am YHWH your God—who takes you out… (Exodus 6:7). Were it not for this commandment, Israel would not have believed in all those miracles and mighty deeds that He performed for them in Egypt. As soon as they knew this commandment in general terms, miracles and mighty deeds were performed for them.

At the end of forty years, during which they engaged in all those commandments of Torah that Moses taught them—both those performed in the land and those performed outside the land—he then taught them in particular terms, as is written: Know today and take to your heart (Deuteronomy 4:39)—today precisely, what they were not permitted beforehand; that יְהוָה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים (Adonai hu ha-Elohim), YHWH is the God (ibid.)—in particular terms. Countless mysteries and secrets inhere in this statement! This and the one preceding are entirely a single matter—that in general, this is particular [in rabbinic literature, the two names represent the divine qualities of compassion and justice, respectively. See Sifrei, Deuteronomy 26; Bereshit Rabbah 12:15; 33:3; and 13:3, where יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (YHWH Elohim) is called ‘a complete name.’ Cf. Zohar 1:12a, 91a; 2:26b, 161a–b; 3:65a; Z 70d (ShS)].

Now, you might say, ‘But look at what is written: The awe of YHWH is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7)!’ This refers to in particular terms: to know who awe of YHWH is [Malkhut]. And even though a person must be in awe of Him before he knows, nevertheless here is written beginning of knowledge—to know Him; for this is the beginning of knowing Him in particular terms [cf. Zohar 1:11b–12a].

So, the first commandment is to know the blessed Holy One in general and in particular, beginning and end. This is the mystery of I am the fist and I am the last (Isaiah 44:6). I am the first—in general; and I am the last—in particular. All a single totality, one mystery.

Once one knows this in general, he should perfect all his limbs. What are they? The 248 commandments, which are the 248 limbs of the human being! Once perfected thus in general, he should know in particular terms—total healing—knowing all the days of the year, which unite to bestow healing to all the limbs.

Now, you might say, ‘How do all the days of the year bestow healing to all the limbs?’ Certainly it is so, above and below! The year and its days bestow healing to all the limbs above. When the limbs pour down blessings to the days of the year, healing and life loom above them on high, and they are filled with all. Who brings this about? The days of the year! Similarly below: when a person perfects his body through mitsvot of Torah, you cannot find a single day that does not come to be blessed through him; and when they are blessed through him, life and healing loom above him on high. Who brings this about? Those days of the year! Just as the days of the year are blessed from on high from the mystery of the human being, so are they blessed form below from the mystery of the human being.

Happy are Israel in this world through these mitsvot of Torah, for they are called ‘human,’ as is written: you are human (Ezekiel 34:31)! You are called human, but the other nations are not called human. And because Israel are called human they must engage in the mitsvot of Torah, so that all will be one in the mystery of the human [see BT Yevamot 60b–61a; Bava Metsi’a 114b; Karetot 6b].

When the blessed Holy One gave the Torah to Israel upon Mount Sinai, the first utterance was אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I am (Exodus 20:2). Anokhi engenders many mysteries. Here it pertains to the mystery of the first commandment—to know him in general [cf. Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 12:24]. For it is written: AnokhiI am—intimating that there is a god, a supreme power of the world—the first commandment, in general. In particular—for it is written: YHWH your God (ibid.)—particular. I am—general; YHWH your God—particular; general and particular. The first commandment: one must know beginning and end, as we have established” (Zohar 2:25a–b, Piqqudin).

“The second commandment: to serve with all kinds of service in the Temple, and outside the Temple with all the rites called ‘service’—with prayer, striving after the commandments of Torah, for all is called ‘service’—like a servant striving after his master’s needs.

For Israel are called ‘servants,’ as is written: For Mine are the Children of Israel as servants, they are My servants (Leviticus 25:55). Why are they servants? For it is written: whom I brought out of the land of Egypt (ibid.). Accordingly, in the ten utterances, after I am YHWH your God (Exodus 20:2), it is written: who brought you out of the land of Egypt (ibid.)—to serve Him like a servant serving his master, who redeemed him from death, redeeming him from all the evils of the world [cf. Rashi on Numbers 15:41; Mekhilta, Baḥodesh 5; Zohar 2:40a. On the ransom paid to death, the Other Side, see Zohar 3:178a-b, Ra’aya Meheimna Qoraḥ].

By these two [designations] are Israel called by the blessed Holy One: they are called ‘servants,’ as is written, they are My servants (Leviticus 25:55); and they are called ‘sons,’ as is written, You are sons of YHWH your God (Deuteronomy 14:1). When a person knows the blessed Holy One in general terms, he is called ‘servant,’ for he carries out his Master’s command—but he is not permitted to search among His treasures or the mysteries of His house. When a person knows the blessed Holy One in particular terms he is called ‘son,’ His beloved—like a son who searches among His treasures, among all the mysteries of His house.

Even though he is called ‘son,’ firstborn of the blessed Holy One, as is said, My son, My firstborn, is Israel (Exodus 4:22), he must not remove himself from the category of ‘servant’—serving his Father with all the rites that are the honor due his Father [תִפאֶרֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל (tif’eret yisra’el), Beauty of Israel, the heavenly Israel, son of Ḥokhmah and Binah. See Zohar 1:95b, 124b, 219a, 223b, 233b; 2:79a, 85b, 197a; 3:74a]. So is required by every person: to be a son to his Father, searching among His treasures, to know the mysteries of His house, striving after them; and to be a servant to his Father.

Mystery of the matter: there are two rungs above with which a person must be adorned; they are a mystery of faith, and they are one: One—mystery of servant; the other—mystery of son. This servant is called lord of all the earth (Joshua 3:11); the son, as we have established, My son, My firstborn, is Israel; all is a single mystery of faith. A person must be adorned with these rungs, to be enveloped in the mystery of faith.

As servant—to serve with all kinds of service, with prayer called ‘service,’ like this Servant—supernal mystery—never ever resting, but praising and singing always. This applies to other acts of service, for She performs and administers all the services and affairs of the worlds; and for this reason She is called lord—for She is a servant to serve, called lord of all the earth. A person who is adorned with this mystery—becoming a servant to serve the service of his Lord—ascends and is crowned, attaining this rung, and is also called ‘lord of all the earth’; for he effectuates blessings to this world through all those acts of service, sustaining it, and he is called ‘lord of all the earth’ accordingly.

Happy is the share of the son, striving to fathom his Father’s treasures and all the mysteries of His house; like an only child granted dominion by his father over all his treasures—honored, for he is in command of all! One who delves into wisdom to fathom the blessed Holy One and His treasures is called a son of the blessed Holy One. Among all the heavenly forces none hinders him whenever he needs to enter to his Father. Happy is his share in all worlds! Accordingly, when he strives to fathom Him in particular terms—in the mystery of wisdom—he is called ‘son.’

In the service rendered by a person to the blessed Holy One, there is an act of service in which a person must incorporate both—being servant and son, to be adorned by the blessed Holy One. What is that? The service of prayer, in which a person must be servant and son, to be embraced by these supernal rungs: serving a and arraying prayer in the mystery of the servant, performing the service of the restoration of worlds; and attaching his will to mysteries of wisdom, cleaving to his Lord through supernal mysteries in the mystery of the son; and all in a single totality. Happy is the share of the person who knows to adorn himself with supernal mysteries, as is fitting!

A son cleaves to his Father always, without any separation at all; none hinders him. A servant performs the service of his Master, arranging arrangements of the world. He who possesses both in one totality, in a single nexus, is the person who arrays the mystery of all faith in one entirety—without any separation at all, uniting all as one. This is the person about whom the blessed Holy One proclaims among all the legions and camps of all worlds, throughout all firmaments, ‘Show care for so-and-so, trustee of the palace! The mystery of the palace and the treasures of his Lord are in his hand!’ Happy is he in this world, and happy is he in the world that is coming!

From that day on, that person is recognized and recorded in all worlds. Whenever he requires, all supernal legions and camps are mindful to be with him; and the blessed Holy One desires none but him alone. A voice arouses, ‘It is fitting for the Unique to be with the unique; Unique engaging with unique! [cf. BT Pesaḥim 118a; Midrash Tehillim 117:3].

We have found the mystery of these two rungs in one verse, as is written: he said to me, ‘You are My servant, Israel, in whom I glory‘ (Isaiah 49:3). He said to me, ‘You are My servant—servant; Israel—son; for when they are a single totality, then is written in whom I glory” (Zohar 3:111b–112a, Piqqudin).

“As one says: Clinging to the King clingingly comes through His Son” (Zohar 2:147a).

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He is Unclean, He shall Dwell Apart: Yet it was Our Sickness He was Bearing

“Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi met Elijah at the opening of the cave of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai [cf. 1 Kings 19:8–9]. He asked him: ‘Do I have a portion in the world to come?’ He said, ‘If this lord desires.’ Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi said, ‘I saw two, but heard the voice of a third [the Shekhinah (Rashi)].’ He then asked him, ‘When will the Messiah come?’—‘Go and ask him himself,’ was his reply. ‘Where is he sitting?’—‘At the portal of the city [of Rome (Gra)].’ And by what sign may I recognize him?’—‘He is sitting among the ill, poor, and suffering: everyone of them untie all at once and rebandage them together, whereas he unties and rebandages each separately [before treating the next], thinking, should I be wanted, I must not be delayed [by having to bandage a number of sores].’ So he went to him and greeted him, saying, ‘Peace be upon you, Rabbi and Teacher.’ ‘Peace be upon you son of Levi,’ he replied. ‘When will you come Master?’ he asked, ‘Today,’ was his answer. On his returning to Elijah, he asked, ‘What did he say to you?’—‘Peace be upon you son of Levi,’ he answered. Thereupon he [Elijah] observed, ‘He thereby assured you and your father of [a portion in] the world to come.’ ‘He spoke a lie to me, saying that he would come today, but has not.’ He [Elijah] answered him, ‘This is what he said to you, Today, if you would only heed His voice!’ (Psalms 95:7)” (BT Sanhedrin 98a).

“The Rabbis said: [The Messiah,] his name is חִיוְורָא (Ḥivvra), White, of the House of Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi], as is written, Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our pains that he endured—though we considered him plagued, stricken by God and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4) [i.e., the Messiah is as הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one afflicted with skin blanch—he is called unclean and dwells outside the camp (Rashi)]” (BT Sanhedrin 98b).

And the person afflicted with skin blanch, in whom the affliction is, his clothes shall be torn and his hair disheveled, and his moustache he shall cover, and he shall call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” All the days that the affliction is on him he shall remain unclean. He is unclean. He shall dwell apart. Outside the camp shall his dwelling be (Leviticus 13:45–46).

Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our pains that he endured—though we considered him plagued, stricken by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquities, he bore the chastisement that made us whole, and by his wound we were healed (Isaiah 53:4–5).

This shall be the teaching concerning הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one afflicted with skin blanch—הַמוֹצִיא רָע (ha-motsi ra), the one who utters evil. Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘If anyone produces evil speech, all his limbs are defiled and he deserves to be confined, for that evil word rises and arouses an impure spirit upon him, defiling him” (Zohar 3:53a).

“And he who [continually] declares [others] unclean is [himself] unclean and never speaks in praise [of people]. And Shemu’el said: With his own blemish he stigmatizes [others] as unclean” (BT Qiddushin 70a).

“When [the souls in the Garden of Eden below roam on every new moon and Sabbath] they tell the Messiah about the suffering of Israel in exile and about the wicked among them who do not seek to know their Lord, he weeps aloud over the wicked, as is written: But he was wounded for our sins, crushed for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). Those souls return and stand in their places.

In the Garden of Eden there is one chamber called the Chamber of the Ill. The Messiah then enters that chamber and calls for all the illnesses, all the pains, and all the sufferings of Israel to come upon him, and they all do so. And if he did not ease them off of Israel, taking them upon himself, no one could endure the sufferings of Israel from the punishments of Torah, as is written: Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing (Isaiah 53:4). Similarly, Rabbi El’azar on earth [see BT Bava Metsi’a 83b–84b].

For innumerable are the sufferings looming over a person every day, all of which descended into the world at the time when Torah was given. When the people of Israel were in the Holy Land, they eliminated all those illnesses and sufferings from the world through rituals and sacrifices. Now, the Messiah removes them from inhabitants of the world, until a person departs from this world and receives punishment, as has been said. Except for the extremely wicked, who are sent deep within Hell, into those other compartments, where they are punished severely for the extreme filth of the soul; then intense fire is kindled to consume that filth. Woe to the soul who suffers that punishment! Furthermore, angels of destruction harass them with rods of fire to shake out that filth. Woe to the soul who suffers that punishment! Happy are those who keep the commandments of Torah!” (Zohar 2:212a, cf. Zohar Ḥadash 56c).

For this command which I charge you today is not too wondrous for you nor is it distant. It is not in the heavens, to say, “Who will go up for us to the heavens and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?” And it is not beyond the sea, to say, “Who will cross over for us beyond the sea and take it for us and let us hear it, that we may do it?” But the word is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it (Deuteronomy 30:11–14).

You are good and do good. Teach me Your statutes. The arrogant plaster me with lies—I with whole heart keep Your decrees. Their heart grows dull like fat—as for me, in Your teaching I delight. It was good for me that I was afflicted, so that I might learn Your statutes. Better for me Your mouth’s teaching than thousands of pieces of silver and gold (Psalms 119:68–72).

“Rabbi Abba said, ‘Yose, my son, I will tell you what happened to me with the Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai]. One day we were walking in the valley of Ono, delving into Torah that whole day. Due to the intensity of the sun, we sat ourselves down in the cleft of a certain rock [this recalls the cleft of the rock where God revealed His back to Moses (Exodus 33:22–23). Similarly, here, a profound mystery is revealed: the suffering of the righteous]. I said to him, ‘How is it that whenever the wicked proliferate in the world, the righteous among them are smitten on their account? For we have learned as follows: ‘For a generation’s חוֹבָא (ḥova), sin [lit., liability, debt], the righteous are seized.’ Why? If because they do not reprimand the world for their deeds, well, there are many who do reprimand but are not heeded, and the righteous are overwhelmed by them. And if it is so that there will be no one to protect the world, then let them not die and not be seized for the sins [of the world], since the righteous find joy in the destruction [of the wicked].’

He replied, ‘For a generation’s sin, the righteous are surely seized, and we have established these matters. But when the righteous are seized with illness or afflictions, it is in order to atone for the world; then all sins of the generation are purged. How do we know this? From all members of the body. When all the members are in distress—grave illness prevailing over them—one member must suffer so that all of them may be healed. Which one is it? The arm. The arm is struck and blood is drawn from it, and then all members of the body are healed.

Similarly, inhabitants of the world are bodily members, interlinked. When the blessed Holy One wishes to grant healing to the world, He strikes one righteous person [Israel] among them, and through him provides healing to all. How do we know this? As is written: But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquities, and by his wound we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). And by his wound—bloodletting, like someone letting blood from his arm. By that wound we are healed—healing comes to us, to all members of the body.

Never is a righteous person smitten except to provide healing to the generation and to atone for them. This is the mystery of ‘a righteous one who suffers,’ for the Other Side prefers most of all that Judgment should overwhelm a righteous one—for then he does not care about the whole world and ignores them because of the joy of dominating him [cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 1a–b]. Yet that righteous person attains supreme dominion in this world and in the world that is coming. As for ‘a righteous one who prospers,’ this is because the blessed Holy One does not care to atone for the world’” (Zohar 3:217b–18b).

Who Causes the Tail to Rise Above, Dominate, and Strike?

Snake & his TailAnd now, if you will truly heed My voice and keep My covenant, you will become for Me a treasure among all the peoples, for Mine is all the earth. And as for you, you will become for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5).

And it shall be, if you do not heed the voice of YHWH your God to keep and to do all His commands and His statutes that I charge you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you… The sojourner who is in your midst will rise up high above you and you will go down far below. He will put you in debt and you will not put him in debt. He will become the head and you will become the tail. And all these curses will come upon you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed. For you will not have heeded the voice of YHWH your God to keep His command and His statutes which He charged you (Deuteronomy 28:43–45, cf. ZḤ [Ki Tavo] 59b–60a).

“How fortunate are you, O Israel. When you act according to the will of YHWH no nation or tongue can dominate you. But when you do not act in accordance with the will of YHWH you are delivered into the hands of a lowly people, and not only a lowly people but into the power of the beasts of a lowly people” (BT Ketubbot 66b).

“Rabbi El’azar wept. He opened, saying, ‘Her sound will move like a snake… (Jeremiah 46:22). Now that Israel is in exile, She surely moves like a snake. When a snake bends its head to the dust and raises its tail, the tail dominates and strikes anyone in front of it. Who causes the tail to rise above, dominate, and strike? The head, which is bent low. Nevertheless, who controls the tail, and who propels its movements? The head—although it is bent to the dust, it conducts [the tail’s] movements. Therefore, now the other nations—who are attached to the tail—rise above, dominate, and strike, while the head is bent to the dust, as is said: Fallen, not to rise again, [is Virgin Israel] (Amos 5:2) [cf. BT Berakhot 4b]. Nevertheless, this head controls the tail and preserves it, as is said: They made me keeper of the vineyards (Song of Songs 1:6)—the other nations, who are the tail.

Rabbi Yehudah came and kissed his hands, and said, ‘If I had asked nothing in the world except for this, and gained it, it would be enough for me! For now I know how the other nations and their dominion are controlled. Happy is the share of Israel, of whom is written For Yah has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel as His treasure (Psalms 135:4)’” (Zohar 3:119b).

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘All the princes of the nations ascend or descend because of this one [Metatron]. When he ascends, the princes of the nations descend. When he descends, they ascend. All depends on the children of Jacob!’

Rabbi Yehudah son of Shalom said, ‘Good or evil comes to the world solely on account of the children of Jacob!’

A certain [Roman] hegmon came to Rabbi Abbahu and said, ‘The entire world should assemble against you as against this locust—to obliterate you from the world in a single instant! For if this nation does not worship its Lord, it is written: He will shut the heavens so that there will be no rain, and the earth will not yield her fruit (Deuteronomy 11:17). If she strays, the entire world is destroyed on her account!’

He replied, ‘But it is you who cause her to stray and not to follow the proper path!’ He said to him, ‘It is your sins that rouse us!’ Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘The hegmon spoke well'” (Zohar Ḥadash 28c, cf. BT Berakhot 17a).

God’s Honor is to Hide a Word, the Honor of Kings, to Probe a Word

Torah-Scroll-text-silver-yad“Six things preceded the creation of the world; some of them were actually created, while the creation of others was already contemplated. Torah and the Throne of Glory were created. Torah, as is written, [In remote eons I was shaped, at the start of the first things of earth.I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth was (Proverbs 8:22–3). The Throne of Glory, as is written, Your throne stands firm from old (Psalms 93:2).

… Israel arose in thought, as is written, Remember Your cohort You took up of old (Psalms 74:2).

… Rav Huna, reporting Rabbi Yirmeyahu in the name of Rabbi Shemu’el son of Rabbi Yitsḥaq, said: The thought to create Israel preceded everything else. This is like: A king who was married to a certain lady, and had no son by her. On one occasion the king was found going through the marketplace and giving orders: ‘Take this ink, inkwell, and pen for my son,’ at which people remarked: ‘He has no son: what does he want with ink and pen? Strange indeed!’ Subsequently they concluded: ‘The king is an astrologer, and has actually foreseen that he is destined to beget a son!’ Thus, had not the blessed Holy One foreseen that after twenty-six generations Israel would receive the Torah, He would not have written therein, Charge the Israelites (Numbers 28:2)” (Bereshit Rabbah 1:4).

“Israel is the kernel of the world; Israel arose in thought. Other nations, who are the shell, preceded, as is written: These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the Children of Israel (Genesis 36:31)” (Zohar 2:108b, Sifra di-Tsni’uta).

וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאָם וַיְכַל אֱלֹהִים בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת

And it was evening and it was morning the sixth day. Then the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their array. And God completed on the seventh day the task He had done, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the task He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, for on it He had ceased from all His task that He had created to do (Genesis 1:31–2:3)—יִשְׂרָאֵל (yisra’el), Israel.

“Resh Laqish said, ‘Why is it written: There was evening and there was morning, יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי (yom ha-shishi), the sixth day (Genesis 1:31)? Why the extra letter ה (he)? [the definite article ה (he) appears only in connection with the sixth day]. This teaches that the blessed Holy One stipulated a condition with the works of Creation, saying to them: ‘If Israel accepts Torah [given at Mount Sinai on the sixth day of Sivan], you will endure. If not, I will return you to welter and waste (Genesis 1:2)’” (BT Shabbat 88a, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 2b–3b; Zohar 1:47a; 2:63b).

“Rabbi Shim‘on said, ‘Whatever the blessed Holy One does is intended to revolve revolutions to fulfill the covenant of existence’” (Zohar 1:196a).

Speaking Deceit

1508654364And he shall call, “Unclean! Unclean!” (Leviticus 13:45).

“All the afflictions man sees, outside his own affliction” (M Nega’im 2:5).

“He who declares ‘unfit’ is unfit and never speaks in praise. And Shemu’el said: With his own blemish he [stigmatizes others as] unfit” (BT Qiddushin 70a).

“It has been taught: The people of Israel are called holiness, and since they are holiness, one is forbidden to call his fellow a shameful name or to invent a nickname for him [see BT Bava Metsi’a 58b–59a]. The punishment for this is severe, all the more for other words. It has been taught: It is written, Keep your tongue from evil… [and your lips from speaking deceit] (Psalms 34:14). What does מֵרָע (me-ra), from evil, mean? That because of evil speech, מַרְעִין (mar’in), disease, descends to the world. Rabbi Yose said, ‘Whoever calls his fellow something he is not, or insults him, will be punished for something he did not do. For Rabbi Ḥiyya said in the name of Rabbi Ḥizqiyah, ‘Whoever calls his fellow wicked is cast down into Hell and struck on his jaws—except for those who are impudent toward Torah, whom one is permitted to call wicked.’

A certain man cursed his fellow. Rabbi Yeisa passed by and said to him, ‘You have acted like the wicked!’ [The man] brought him before Rabbi Yehudah. [Rabbi Yeisa] said to him, ‘I didn’t say ‘wicked,’ but ‘like the wicked,’ exhibiting behavior like the wicked; but I didn’t say that he was wicked! Rabbi Yehudah came and put the case before Rabbi El’azar, who said, ‘Surely, he is not guilty! How do we know? As is written: YHWH was like an enemy (Lamentations 2:5)—like an enemy, and not an enemy. For otherwise, not a stump of Israel would have remained in the world. Similarly, She has become like a widow (ibid. 1:1)—and not a widow; like a widow, [like a woman] whose husband has journeyed across the ocean and she waits for him. Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘From here it is proven—the essence of all—as is written: upon the image of the throne, an image like the appearance of a human (Ezekiel 1:26)—like the appearance of a human, and not the appearance of a human.’ Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘It is written: Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men (Song of Songs 2:3)—like an apple, and not an apple; like an apple, variegated in its colors, and in colors unified.’ Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘If I have come here just to hear these words, it is enough for me!” (Zohar 2:122a, cf. ibid. 3:84b–85b).

Send Off the Mother: Let Understanding Go

“Rabbi Raḥumai said: What is the meaning of the verse, You shall surely send off the mother, and the children you may take for yourself? (Deuteronomy 22:7). Why does it not say, You shall surely send off the father? But it says, You shall surely send off the mother in honor of the one who is called Mother of the World. Therefore it is written For you will call בִּינָה (binah), understanding, ‘Mother’ (Proverbs 2:3)” (Bahir §104–§105).

“The בֶּטֶן (beten), belly, is not [reckoned among] the sefirot” (Bahir §124).

“Mother crouches over them, suckling them, and of this is written Do not take the mother above the children (Deuteronomy 22:6). And we have learned: One should not increase his sins below, causing Mother to withdraw from the children. It is also written: She is your mother—do not expose her nakedness (Leviticus 18:7). Woe to one who exposes Her nakedness!” (Zohar 1:219a).

“The blessed Holy One conveys a flow of seven rungs below into that rung united with those seven. Now, you might say, ‘But there are six, and no more!’ Well, Mother is then sitting upon the fledglings, crouching over them, and we get Her to fly away, and we take those six children along with this rung below—fulling the verse that is written: Surely send off the mother, and the children you may take for yourself (Deuteronomy 22:7).

Rav Hamnuna Sava said, ‘On this day [Shavu’ot], Israel takes only five children, who are the five books of Torah.’

Now, you might say, ‘There are six!’ Well, really, there are seven, counting one bird found between the wings of Mother.

The people of Israel know how to hunt for great and precious game. What do they do? They draw out that bird [Shekhinah] from beneath the wings of Mother by murmuring of the mouth, whispering toward Her again and again. And that bird loves those murmurings and those sounds that they whisper to Her. Although She is beneath the wings of Her Mother, She raises Her head, gazes toward that whispering sound, and flies to them, emerging from beneath Her Mother’s wings.

As soon as the people of Israel receive Her, they hold Her tight, whispering to Her, binding Her in a bind so that She will not fly away. They immediately grasp that bond, and She tries to fly off but cannot get away. While that bond is in their hands, they whisper with their voices and She chirps along with them, flying up and descending.

When all those Sons beneath the wings of their Mother hear the chirping of their Sister—that bird—and that whispering sound, they immediately emerge from beneath their Mother’s wings and fly toward that bird, and the people of Israel take them and grasp them. Were it not for that bird whom they grasp at first, [the Sons] would never fly to them and they could not grasp them.

How do they capture this holy bird? They prepare precious food for Her joyously with all sorts of delights, entering the synagogue and house of study—chirping to Her, whispering to Her softly, fittingly. And She, concealed beneath Her Mother’s wings, raises Her head and sees prepared tables, with chirping toward Her fittingly; She emerges and flies to them, as has been said, with all those Sons grasping Her.

They send off the Mother who is crouching over them, and She goes away. Because from the seventh heaven and above—’What is concealed from you, do not explore or search.’ Send it off, for you will not be able to comprehend. Of this is written Surely send off the mother, and the children you may take for yourself, so that it may go well with you and you will prolong your days (Deuteronomy 22:7)” (Zohar 3:254b).

A Worm Whose Only Power and Strength Lies in its Mouth

image“Do not fear, O worm Jacob, O men of Israel! I myself will help you,” declares YHWH. “Your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 41:14).

“Come and see: All nations of the world have been rendered to certain ruling archons, as has been said, and they follow their false gods, as is written: [For all the nations] will walk each in the name of its god (Micah 4:5)—all shedding blood, waging war, stealing, robbing, fornicating, mingling with numerous evildoings. They intensify their power to harass, while Israel has no power to overcome them except through its mouth—like a worm whose only power and strength lies in its mouth, by its mouth penetrating all. So Israel is called worm” (Zohar 1:178a).