The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: Jesus

Do Not Make the Fence Excessive Lest it Collapse and Severe the Saplings

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“The Men of the Great Assembly said three things: Be careful in judgment; raise up many disciples; and make a fence for the Torah” (M Avot 1:1).

“Rabbi Akiva said: Mocking and frivolity lead to immorality. The oral tradition is a fence for Torah; tithes are a fence for wealth; vows are a fence for abstinence. The fence for wisdom is silence” (M Avot 3:17).

“‘Make a fence for the Torah.’ And make a fence for your words, in the way that the blessed Holy One made a fence for His words, and the first human made a fence for his words. Torah made a fence for her words. Moses made a fence for his words. So too, Job as well as the Prophets, the Writings, and the sages—all of them made a fence for their words [on Job’s ‘fence,’ see Job 31:1]” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan A, 1).

He who breaches a fence, a snake will bite him (Ecclesiastes 10:8).

Now the serpent was most cunning (Genesis 3:1).

For in much wisdom is much worry, and he who adds wisdom adds pain (Ecclesiastes 1:18): Because man increases his wisdom he increases worry against himself, and because he increases his knowledge he adds to his pain. Solomon said: Because I increased my wisdom I increased my worry, and because I increased my knowledge I increased my pain. Did you ever hear anybody say: ‘This donkey went out and caught the sun, or caught a fever? And where is suffering prevalent? With human beings. Rabbi said: A תַּלְמִיד חָכָם (talmid ḥakham), disciple of the wise, does not require a warning [cf. BT Sanhedrin 8b]. Rabbi Yoḥanan said: It is like the fine linen garments which come from Bet Shean: if they are even slightly blackened they are ruined; but as for the [coarse] linen garments which come from Arbel, what is their value altogether?

Rabbi Yishma’el taught: According to the camel so is its load. It often happens that two people enter a tavern; one orders, ‘Bring me roast meat, white bread, and good wine,’ while the other orders, ‘Bring me bread and beets’: the former eats and suffers afterwards, while the latter eats and does not suffer. Thus human ills weigh heavily upon the one but not upon the other.

It was taught in Rabbi Me’ir’s name: According to the greatness of the serpent so was his downfall: because he was most cunning, he was [most] cursed of all (Genesis 3:14). Now the serpent was most cunning of all the beasts of the field. Rabbi Hoshaya the Elder said: He stood out distinguished like a reed, and he had feet. Rabbi Yirmeyah son of El’azar said: He was an אֶפִּיקוֹרֶס (epiqores), unbeliever. Rabbi Shim’on son of El’azar said: He was like a camel. He deprived the world of much good, for had this not happened, one could have sent goods through him, and he would have gone and returned [cf. BT Sanhedrin 59b]….

But from the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden God has said, “You shall not eat from it and you shall not touch it, lest you die” (Genesis 3:3). Thus it is written, Add nothing to His words, lest He rebuke you and you be given the lie (Proverbs 30:6) [cf. Deuteronomy 4:2: You shall not add… neither shall you take away from it]. Rabbi Ḥiyya taught: Do not make the fence excessive [lit., more than the main thing], lest it collapse and יִקְצֹץ הַנְּטִיעוֹת (yiqtsots ha-neti’ot), severe the saplings. Thus, the blessed Holy One had said, For on the day you eat from it, you are doomed to die (Genesis 2:17); whereas she did not say so, but rather, God has said, “You shall not eat from it and you shall not touch it, lest you die”; when he [the serpent] saw her lying so, he took and thrust her against it. ‘Have you then died?’ he said to her; ‘just as you were not stricken through touching it, so will you not die when you eat it, For God knows that on the day you eat of it [your eyes will be opened and you will become as gods knowing good and evil] (ibid., 5).

Rabbi Tanḥuma said: I was asked this question in Antioch. I answered: It is not written, יוֹדְעִים אֱלֹהִים (yod’im elohim), knowing gods, but rather, יֹדֵעַ אֱלֹהִים (yode’a Elohim), God knows. Rabbi Yehoshu’a of Sikhnin said in Rabbi Levi’s name: He [the serpent] began speaking לָשׁוֹן הָרַע (lashon ha-ra), slander, of his Creator, saying, ‘Of this tree did He eat and then create the world; hence He orders you, You shall not eat from it, so that you may not create other worlds, for every person hates his fellow craftsmen.’ Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabbi Simon said: He argued: ‘Whatever was created after its companion dominates it. Thus: the heavens were created on the first day and the firmament on the second: does it not bear its weight? The firmament was created on the second and herbs on the third: do they not interrupt its waters? Herbs were created on the third day and the luminaries on the fourth [and through the heat of the sun plant life matures and ripens]; the luminaries on the fourth and the birds on the fifth. Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabbi Simon said: The זִיז (ziz) is a clean bird, and when it flies it obscures the orb of the sun [thus it dominates the sun, as it were]. Now you were created after everything in order to rule over everything; make haste and eat before He creates other worlds which will rule over you. Hence it is written, And the woman saw that the tree was good [for eating and that it was lust to the eyes and the tree was lovely to look at, and she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave to her man, and he ate…] (Genesis 3:6): she saw [how plausible were] the words of the serpent” (Bereshit Rabbah 19:1, 3–4).

“Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥman said, ‘The serpent was asked, Why are you generally to be found among fences?’ He replied, ‘Because I made a breach in the fence of the world.’ Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai taught: The serpent was the first to make a breach in the world’s fence, and so he has become the executioner of all who make breaches in fences” (Vayiqra Rabbah 26:2).

“Rabbi Levitas the visionary opened, ‘Enmity I will set between you and the woman, between your seed and hers (Genesis 3:15)—abundant hatred from the day the world was created, on account of the incitement of the serpent. From the moment it was cursed, driven out from the gate of the King, it lies in ambush constantly amid fences in the world, amid those fences of the Torah, biting all who trample those fences underfoot [see BT Avodah Zarah 18a (in the name of Rabbi Shim’on son of Laqish); Tanḥuma, Eqev 1; Zohar 1:198a–b]. Woe to one who is caught! Woe to one who is bitten! Woe for the persistence of the vile enmity, for the snake’s wicked hatred for Her, the one called woman of valor (Proverbs 31:10). Malevolent animus it nursed for Her from the day the world was created until it ravaged Her, pulverizing Her until She lay in the dust (Zohar Ḥadash 91c [MhN]).

“Four died through the incitement of the serpent, namely: Benjamin the son of Jacob, Amram the father of Moses, Jesse the father of David, and Chileab the son of David” (BT Shabbat 55b).

“On the eve of the Passover Jesus the Nazarene was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and incited [or: enticed] Israel. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!—Ulla said: ‘Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not an enticer concerning whom Scripture says, you shall not pity him and shall not shield him (Deuteronomy 13:9)? With Jesus however it was different, for he was connected with the government‘” (BT Sanhedrin 43a).

“What is different about an inciter [that the court does not seek to deem him innocent]? Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥaninah says: I heard at the lecture of Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Abba: An inciter is different, as the Compassionate One says, [Should your brother, your mother’s son… incite you in secret, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’ that you did not know, neither you nor your fathers…] you shall not spare him and you shall not pity him and shall not shield him. [But you shall surely kill him] (Deuteronomy 13:7–10).

Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥman said in Rabbi Yonatan’s name: Whence do we know that we do not plead on behalf of a inciter? From the primordial serpent. For Rabbi Simlai said: The serpent had many pleas to put forward but did not do so. Then why did the blessed Holy One not plead on its behalf? Because it offered none itself. What could it have said? ‘The words of the master or those of the disciple, whose words should be listened to? Surely the master’s!’

Ḥizqiyyah said: How do we know that whoever increases, decreases? From, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it and you shall not touch it [lest you die’] (Genesis 3:3).

Rav Mesharshiyya said: From: אַמָּתַיִם (ammatayim), two, and a half cubits its length (Exodus 25:10) [if אַמָּתַיִם (ammatayim), two, were spelled without א (alef) it would read מָתַיִם (matayim), two hundred. Thus by adding א (alef) the number is reduced]. Rav Ashi said: From: עַשְׁתֵּי עֶשְׂרֵה (ashtei esreh), eleven, curtains (ibid. 26:7) [if עַשְׁתֵּי עֶשְׂרֵה (ashtei esreh), eleven, were spelled without ע (ayin) it would read שְׁתֵּי עֶשְׂרֵה (shetei esreh)twelve. Thus by adding ע (ayin) the number is reduced]” (BT Sanhedrin 29a, cf. Zohar 2:233b).

“נִשְׁמַת נְקֵבָה (Nishmat neqevah), female inspiration, is from the Female, and נִשְׁמַת זָכָר (nishmat zakhar), male inspiration, is from the Male. This is the reason the serpent followed Eve [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 20:11]. He said, ‘Her inspiration is drawn from the north, and so I will soon seduce her.’ And how did he seduce her? By mounting her.

The wicked Samael conspired with the entire army on high against his Master. This was because the blessed Holy One said, To hold sway over the fish of the sea and the winged creature of the heavens (Genesis 1:26) [cf. Deuteronomy 14:20]. He said, ‘How can we cause him to offend and be driven from before His presence?’ He descended with all his army, and sought a suitable mate on earth. At last he found the serpent, which looked like a camel, and he rode on it [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 19:1; Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 13; Zohar 1:228a]. He then went to the woman and said to her, ‘Though God said, you shall not eat from any tree of the garden…(Genesis 3:1)—I, however, will seek more, I will add in order that she detract [see BT Sanhedrin 29a: ‘Whoever increases, decreases’].’ She replied, ‘From the fruit of the garden’s trees we may eat. He did not prevent us, other than: the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden God has said, You shall not eat from it and you shall not touch it, lest you die‘ (Genesis 3:2).

She added two things: the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden—He only said, From the tree (Genesis 2:17); and you shall not touch it, lest you die [while He only spoke of eating]. What did Samael do? He went and touched the tree. The tree cried out and said, ‘Wicked one, do not touch me!’ Therefore it is written: Let no haughty foot overtake me, nor the hand of the wicked repel me. There did the doers of mischief fall. They were toppled and could not rise (Psalms 36:12–13).’

He then said to the woman, ‘See, I touched the tree and did not die. You too can touch and not die.’ The woman went and touched the tree. She saw the Angel of Death approaching her and said, ‘Woe! Now I will die and the blessed Holy One will make another woman and give her to Adam. I will therefore cause him to eat with me. If we die, we will both die, and if we live, we will both live.’ She took the fruit of the tree and ate it, and she also gave to her husband. Their eyes opened and their teeth were set on edge. He said, ‘What is this that you have given me to eat? Just as my teeth were set on edge, so will the teeth of all generations be set on edge’ [cf. Jeremiah 31:29: The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge].

He sat in true judgement, as is written, For You upheld my justice, my right, You sat on the throne of the righteous judge (Psalm 9:5). He called to Adam, and said ‘Why do you hide from Me?’ He replied, ‘I heard Your sound in the garden (Genesis 3:10). I heard Your sound in the garden—and my bones trembled. And I was afraid, for I was naked, and I hid—I was naked of works, I was naked of mitsvot, and I was naked of actions.’ Therefore it is written: and I was afraid, for I was naked, and I hid.

What was Adam’s clothing? A skin of nail [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 14]. However, when he ate of the fruits of the tree, his skin of nail was stripped from him, and he saw himself naked, as is written, Who told you that you were naked? (Genesis 3:11). Adam said before the blessed Holy One, ‘Master of the World: When I was alone did I offend You? But the woman that You gave me, she drove me from your words,’ as is written, The woman whom you gave me, [she gave me from the tree, and I ate] (Genesis 3:12). The blessed Holy One said to her, ‘Was it not enough for you to offend, but you also caused Adam to offend?’ She said before Him, ‘Master of the World: The serpent [beguiled me so] that I offend You.’ He summoned all three and sentenced upon them nine curses and death and cast down the wicked Samael and his band from their holy place in the heavens. He cut off the feet of the serpent and cursed it more than any living creature and more than any beast, decreeing that it be stripped of its skin every seven years in great pain [see BT Bekhorot 8a].

Let me hear gladness and joy, [let the bones that You crushed exult] (Psalms 51:10″ (Bahir §199–§200).

Serpentine Sorcery: Whoever is Drawn Near Becomes Defiled

“Resh Laqish said, ‘… If one comes to defile himself, he is provided an opening; if one comes to purify himself, he is assisted” (BT Shabbat 104a).

“Come and see: In the middle of the sky, a lustrous path is woven—Celestial Serpent—all gossamer stars clustered with mounds upon mounds, encharged with requiting the deeds of inhabitants of the world. Similarly, numerous bands of dazzling demons issue from this supernal, primordial serpent—by whom Adam was seduced—and they are all encharged with requiting deeds of the world.

So if a person comes to purify himself, he is assisted from above; his Lord’s assistance encircles him, and he is protected, called ‘holy.’ If a person comes to defile himself, numerous bands of dazzling demons lie in wait for him; they all hover over him, surrounding him, defiling him, and he is called ‘impure.’ They all go in front of him, proclaiming, ‘Impure! Impure!—as is said: He shall call out, ‘Impure! Impure!’ (Leviticus 13:45). All of them are linked with that primordial serpent, requiting countless deeds of the world.

Rabbi Yitsḥaq and Rabbi Yose were walking from Tiberias to Lydda. Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘I am amazed at that wicked Balaam, all of whose actions stemmed from the side of impurity! Here we learn a mystery: All species of נְחָשַׁיָּא (neḥshayya), sorcery, throughout the world are linked with, and issue from, that primordial נָחָשׁ (naḥash), serpent—slimy spirit of impurity. So all witchcraft of the world is named accordingly: נְחָשִׁים (neḥashim), serpentine sorcery, all issuing from this side. Whoever is drawn here becomes defiled. Furthermore, he must defile himself in order to draw upon himself that side of impure spirit. For we have learned: As one arouses, so he draws upon himself supernal holiness from above—and is sanctified. If one arouses the side of impurity, he draws upon himself a spirit of impurity—and is defiled. As already mentioned, we have learned that if a person comes to defile himself, he is defiled.

So in order to draw upon himself impure spirit from that supernal serpent, that wicked Balaam defiled himself every night with his donkey, engaging with her conjugally [see BT Sanhedrin 105a–b; Zohar 3:207a], in order to become defiled and draw upon himself impure spirit; then he enacted his sorcery.

To begin with, he would take one of those snakes and offer up incense before it. Then he split its head, extracted its tongue, took certain herbs, and burned everything—concocting incense. Next he took the snake’s head, split it in four, and concocted another incense. He traced a circle, recited a formula, and performed further rites—until he had drawn upon himself impure spirits, who revealed to him what he needed. Through them he accomplished his acts, by their knowledge derived from that celestial serpent. He continued his acts of sorcery until he had drawn upon himself a spirit from that primordial serpent. This is how he discovered and grasped knowledge of sorcery and divination; so it is written: He did not go, as time after time, to encounter נְחָשִׁים (neḥashim), serpentine sorceries (Numbers 24:1)—neḥashim, serpents, literally! The essential root lies in impurity, as has been said; subsequently all begins solely in this….

‘All these practices, all of Balaam’s knowledge—where did he learn it? He replied, ‘From his father. But in those mountains of the East, land of the East, he mastered all kinds of sorcery and divination—for in those mountains reside Uzza and Azael, whom the blessed Holy One had cast down from heaven. Bound in iron chains, they divulge sorcery to human beings; so from there Balaam knew, as is said: From Aram, Balak led me; Moab’s king, from mountains of the East (ibid. 23:7)” (Zohar 1:125a–126a, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 69, 97a).

תולדות ישו (Toledot Yeshu), The Genealogy of Jesus

Salvator Mundi attributed to Leonardo da Vinci

“Rav Naḥman said: All mockery is forbidden except for mockery of idolatry, which is permitted, as is written, Bel has knelt, Nebo has cowered. [Their images you bore aloft become burdens for beasts and animals loaded to exhaustion] (Isaiah 46:1) and it says, They cowered, they knelt together, could not free the burden, [and they themselves went into captivity] (ibid., 2). Rabbi Yannai said so from here: The calf of Beth-Aven they fear, the dwellers of Samaria. For his people mourns for it, and his priests for it. They wail over their glory, for it has departed from them (Hosea 10:5). Do not read כְּבוֹדוֹ (kevodo), their glory, but כְּבֵידוֹ (keveido), its burden [meaning that the calf of Beth-Aven is unable to restrain itself from defecating].

Rav Huna son of Manoaḥ said in the name of Rav Aḥa, son of Rav Iqa: It is permitted for an Israelite to say to a gentile, ‘Take your idol and shove it up your שִׁין תָּיו (shin tav)! [i.e., שֵׁת (shet), ass (Isaiah 20:4); cf. Genesis 31:34–35]’” (BT Megillah 25b).

“Whatever you find [written] about [the carpenter’s son], expound upon it [to his shame]” (BT Sanhedrin 106b).

“A certain apostate disputed, ‘Until יָבֹא שִׁילֹה וְלוֹ (yavo shilo ve-lo), he comes to Shiloh and to him…’ (Genesis 49:10)—look here, a hint to יֵשׁוּ (Yeshu), Jesus, in the initial letters [of the verset]!’ His answer is at its side, here is the hint: לֹא יֵשׁ מוּם רַע כִּיֵשׁוּ (lo yesh moom ra ki-yeshu), ‘there is no defect bad as Jesus’—לֹא יָסוּר שֵׁבֶט מִיהוּדָה וּמְחֹקֵק מִבֵּין רַגְלָיו עַד כִּי יָבֹא שִׁילֹה וְלוֹ (lo yasur shevet mi-yehudah u-meḥoqeq mi-bein raglaiv ad ki yavo shilo ve-lo), the scepter shall not pass from Judah, nor the mace from between his legs, until he comes to Shiloh and to him… (ibid.). 

Another hint to Jesus: יֵשׁוּ יַּתְעֵם (yeshu yatem), ‘Jesus will lead them astray’—יָבֹא שִׁילֹה וְלוֹ יִקְּהַת עַמִּים (yavo shilo ve-lo iqqhat ammim), until he comes to Shiloh and to him the submission of peoples (ibid.)” (Sefer Nitsaḥon Yashan, 28).

The Genealogy of Jesus

In the year 3671 in the days of King Jannaeus, a great misfortune befell Israel, when there arose a certain disreputable man of the tribe of יְהוּדָה (Yehudah), Judah, whose name was Yosef Pandera. He lived at Bethlehem, in Judah.

Near his house dwelt a widow and her lovely and chaste daughter named Miriam. Miriam was betrothed to Yoḥanan, of the royal house of David, a man learned in Torah and God-fearing.

Once at the close of Sabbath, Yosef Pandera, attractive and like a warrior in appearance, having gazed lustfully upon Miriam, knocked upon the door of her room and betrayed her by pretending that he was her betrothed husband, Yoḥanan. Even so, she was amazed at this improper conduct and submitted only against her will [the author may well be poking fun at the Christian genealogies when he (too) highlights the Davidic lineage of Yoḥanan, the man who did not impregnate Miriam].

Thereafter, when Yoḥanan came to her, Miriam expressed astonishment at behavior so foreign to his character. It was thus that they both came to know the crime of Yosef Pandera and the terrible mistake on the part of Miriam. Whereupon Yoḥanan went to Rabban Shim’on son of Shetah and related to him the tragic seduction. Lacking witnesses required for the punishment of Yosef Pandera, and Miriam being with child, Yoḥanan left for Babylonia [alt., Egypt].

Miriam gave birth to a son and named him יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshu’a), Joshua, after her brother. This name later deteriorated to יֵשׁוּ (Yeshu), Jesus [cf. BT Arakhin 32b: “Scripture reproved Joshua, for in all passages it is spelt: יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshu’a), Joshua, but here, יֵשׁוּעַ (Yeshu’a), Joshua (Nehemiah 8:17)”]. On the eighth day he was circumcised. When he was old enough the lad was taken by Miriam to the house of study to be instructed in the [Jewish] tradition.

One day Jesus walked in front of the Sages with his head uncovered, showing shameful disrespect. At this, the discussion arose as to whether this behavior did not truly indicate that Jesus was an illegitimate child and the son of a נִדָּה‬ (niddah), menstruate woman. Moreover, the story tells that while the Rabbis were discussing the tractate Neziqin, he gave his own impudent interpretation of the law and in an ensuing debate he held that Moses could not be the greatest of the prophets if he had to receive counsel from Jethro. This led to further inquiry as to the antecedents of Jesus, and it was discovered through Rabban Shim’on son of Shetah that he was the illegitimate son of Yosef Pandera. Miriam admitted it. After this became known, it was necessary for Jesus to flee to Upper Galilee.

After King Jannaeus and his wife Helene [Salome Alexandra] ruled over all Israel. In the Temple was to be found the Foundation Stone on which were engraved the letters of the Ineffable Name. Whoever learned the secret of the Name and its use would be able to do whatever he wished [cf. BT Sanhedrin 106a: “Rabbi Shim’on son of Laqish said: Woe for whoever מְחַיֶּה (meḥayyeh), invigorates [or: resurrects], himself with the name of אֵל (El), God”]. Therefore, the Sages took measures so that no one should gain this knowledge. Lions of brass were bound to two iron pillars at the gate of the place of burnt offerings. Should anyone enter and learn the Name, when he left the lions would roar at him and immediately the valuable secret would be forgotten.

Jesus came and learned the letters of the Name; he wrote them upon the parchment which he placed in an open cut on his thigh and then drew the flesh over the parchment. As he left, the lions roared and he forgot the secret. But when he came to his house he reopened the cut in his flesh with a knife an lifted out the writing. Then he remembered and obtained the use of the letters.

He gathered about himself three hundred and ten young men of Israel [cf. BT Sanhedrin 100a: “The blessed Holy One will give to every righteous man three hundred and ten worlds, as is written, So I may endow those who love Me with substance, and fill their treasuries (Proverbs 8:21)—now the numerical value ofׁ יש (yesh), substance, is 310”]. He accused those who spoke ill of his birth of being people who desired greatness and power for themselves. Jesus proclaimed, “I am the Messiah; and concerning me Isaiah prophesied and said, A young woman is about to conceive and bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).” He quoted other texts, insisting, “David my ancestor prophesied concerning me: YHWH, He said to me: You are My son. I Myself today did beget you (Psalms 2:7).”

The insurgents with him replied that if Jesus was the Messiah he should give them a convincing sign. They therefore, brought to him a lame man, who had never walked. Jesus spoke over the man the letters of the Ineffable Name, and the one afflicted with skin blanch was healed. Thereupon, they worshipped him as the Messiah, Son of the Highest.

When word of these happenings came to Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin decided to bring about the capture of Jesus. They sent messengers, Annanui and Ahaziah, who, pretending to be his disciples, said that they brought him an invitation from the leaders of Jerusalem to visit them. Jesus consented on condition the members of the Sanhedrin receive him as a lord. He started out toward Jerusalem and, arriving at Knob, acquired a donkey on which he rode into Jerusalem, as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah [see Zechariah 9:9: Greatly exult, Zion’s Daughter, shout for joy, Jerusalem’s Daughter. Look, your king shall come to you, victor and triumphant is he, a lowly man riding on an ass, on a donkey, the foal of a she-ass].

The Sages bound him and led him before Queen Helene, with the accusation: “This man is a sorcerer and entices everyone.” Jesus replied, “The prophets long ago prophesied my coming: And a shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, [a branch shall bloom from his roots] (Isaiah 11:1), and I, I am He (Deuteronomy 32:39); but as for them, Scripture says Happy the man who has not walked in the wicked’s counsel (Psalms 1:1).”

Queen Helene asked the Sages: “What he says, is it in your teaching?” They replied: “It is in our teaching, but it is not applicable to him, for it is in Scripture: But the prophet who willfully speaks a word in My name, which I have not charged him to speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die (Deuteronomy 18:20). He has not fulfilled the signs and conditions of the Messiah.”

Jesus spoke up: “Madam, I am the Messiah and I revive the dead.” A dead body was brought in; he pronounced the letters of the Ineffable Name and the corpse came to life. The Queen was greatly moved and said: “This is a true sign.” She reprimanded the Sages and sent them humiliated from her presence. Jesus’ dissident followers increased and there was controversy in Israel.

Jesus went to Upper Galilee. The Sages came before the Queen, complaining that Jesus practiced sorcery and was leading everyone astray. Therefore she sent Annanui and Ahaziah to fetch him.

They found him in Upper Galilee, proclaiming himself the Son of God. When they tried to take him there was a struggle, but Jesus said to the men of Upper Galilee: “Wage no battle.” He would prove himself by the power which came to him from his Father in Heaven. He spoke the Ineffable Name over the birds of clay and they flew into the air. He spoke the same letters over a millstone that had been placed upon the waters. He sat in it and it floated like a boat. When they saw this the people marveled. At the behest of Jesus, the emissaries departed and reported these wonders to the Queen. She trembled with astonishment.

Then the Sages selected a man named Yehudah Isqarioto and brought him to the Sanctuary where he learned the letters of the Ineffable Name as Jesus had done.

When Jesus was summoned before the Queen, this time there were present also the Sages and Yehudah Isqarioto. Jesus said: “Of me is said, To the heavens will I ascend (Isaiah 14:13).” He lifted his arms like the wings of an eagle and he flew between the heavens and earth, to the amazement of everyone.

The elders asked Isqarioto to do likewise. He did, and flew toward the heavens. Isqarioto attempted to force Jesus down to earth but neither one of the two could prevail against the other for both had the use of the Ineffable Name. However, Isqarioto defiled Jesus, so that they both lost their power and fell down to the earth, and in their condition of defilement the letters of the Ineffable Name escaped from them [according to an Italian manuscript (Leipzig BH 17 1–18): … he performed anal sex on him. Once he soiled him, and his seed went out from him (Leviticus 15:32), both of them fell to the ground. And all of the sages of the nations knew this secret and hid it, and cursed and banned Yehudah Isqarioto. And when they have a quarrel with another person, they say to him, “May what Yehudah Isqarioto did to Jesus be done to you!”]. Because of this deed of Yehudah, Judah, they weep on the eve of the birth of Jesus [the Ninth of Tevet (December 24th C.E.)].

Jesus was seized. His head was covered with a garment and he was smitten with pomegranate twigs; but he could do nothing, for he no longer had the Ineffable Name.

Jesus was taken prisoner to the synagogue of Tiberias, and they bound him to a pillar. To allay his thirst they gave him vinegar to drink. On his head they set a crown of thorns. There was strife and wrangling between the elders and the unrestrained followers of Jesus, as a result of which the followers escaped with Jesus to the region of Antioch [alt., Egypt]; there Jesus remained until the eve of the Passover.

Jesus then resolved to go the Temple to acquire again the secret of the Name. That year the Passover came on a Sabbath day. On the eve of the Passover, Jesus, accompanied by his disciples, came to Jerusalem riding upon an donkey. Many bowed down before him. He entered the Temple with his three hundred and ten followers. One of them, Yehudah Isqarioto apprised the Sages that Jesus was to be found in the Temple, that the disciples had taken a vow by the Ten Commandments not to reveal his identity but that he would point him out by bowing to him. So it was done and Jesus was seized. Asked his name, he replied to the question by several times giving the names Mattai, Nakki, Buni, Netzer, each time with a verse quoted by him and a counter-verse by the Sages [see BT Sanhedrin 43a].

Jesus was put to death on the sixth hour on the eve of the Passover and of the Sabbath. When they tried to hang him on a tree it broke, for when he had possessed the power he had pronounced by the Ineffable Name that no tree should hold him. He had failed to pronounce the prohibition over the cabbage stalk [alt., carob stalk; cf. Teshuva le-Minim], for it was a plant more than a tree, and on it he was hanged until the hour for afternoon prayer, for it is written in Scripture, [And should there be against a man a death-sentence offense and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree,you shall not let his corpse stay the night on the tree [but you shall surely bury it on that day, for a hanged man is God’s curse…] (Deuteronomy 21:23). They buried him outside the city.

On the first day of the week his bold followers came to Queen Helene with the report that he who was slain was truly the Messiah and that he was not in his grave; he had ascended to heaven as he prophesied. Diligent search was made and he was not found in the grave where he had been buried. A gardener had taken him from the grave and had brought him into his garden and buried him in the sand over which the waters flowed into the garden.

Queen Helene demanded, on threat of a severe penalty, that the body of Jesus be shown to her within a period of three days. There was a great distress. When the keeper of the garden saw Rabbi Tanḥuma walking in the field and lamenting over the ultimatum of the Queen, the gardener related what he had done, in order that Jesus’ followers should not steal the body and then claim that he had ascended into heaven. The Sages removed the body, tied it to the tail of a horse and transported it to the Queen, with the words, “This is Jesus who is said to have ascended to heaven.” Realizing that Jesus was a false prophet who enticed the people and led them astray, she mocked the followers but praised the Sages.

The disciples went out among the nations—three went to the mountains of Ararat, three to Armenia, three to Rome and three to the kingdoms by the sea, they deluded the people, but ultimately they were slain.

The erring followers amongst Israel said: “You have slain the Messiah of the Lord.” The Israelites answered: “You have believed in a false prophet.” There was endless strife and discord for thirty years.

The Sages desired to separate from Israel those who continued to claim Jesus as the Messiah, and they called upon a greatly learned man, Shim’on Kefa, for help. Shim’on went to Antioch, main city of the Nazarenes and proclaimed to them: “I am the disciple of Jesus. He has sent me to show you the way. I will give you a sign as Jesus has done.”

Shim’on, having gained the secret of the Ineffable Name, healed one afflicted with skin blanch and a lame man by means of it and thus found acceptance as a true disciple. He told them that Jesus was in heaven, at the right hand of his Father, in fulfillment of YHWH’s utterance to my master: “Sit at My right hand till I make your enemies a stool for your feet” (Psalms 110:1). He added that Jesus desired that they separate themselves from the Jews and no longer follow their practices, as Isaiah had said, Your new moons and your appointed times I utterly despise. [They have become a burden to Me, I cannot bear them] (Isaiah 1:14). They were now to observe the first day of the week instead of the seventh, the Resurrection instead of the Passover, the Ascension into Heaven instead of the Feast of Weeks, the finding of the Cross instead of Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of the Circumcision instead of the Yom Kippur, the New Year instead of Ḥanukkah; they were to be indifferent with regard to circumcision and the dietary laws. Also they were to follow the teaching of turning the right if struck on the left and the meek acceptance of suffering [cf. Lamentations 3:30]. All these new ordinances which Shim’on Kefa—or Paul, as he was known to the Nazarenes (cf. Acts 5:34, 22:3)—taught them were really meant to separate these Nazarenes from the people of Israel and to bring the internal strife to an end.

The Son of an Israelite Woman Pronounced the Name: He who Pronounces the Name shall be Doomed to Die

Should your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or your daughter or the wife of your bosom or your companion who is like your own self incite you in secret, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” that you did not know, neither you nor your fathers… you shall not spare him and you shall not pity him and shall not shield him. But you shall surely kill him (Deuteronomy 13:7–10).

“On the eve of the Passover Jesus the Nazarene was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed [or: incited] Israel. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover! Ulla said: ‘Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not an enticer concerning whom Scripture says, you shall not pity him and shall not shield him (Deuteronomy 13:9)? With Jesus however it was different, for he was connected with the government” (BT Sanhedrin 43a, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 69, 97a).

“Our Rabbis taught: Always let the left hand push away but the right hand draw near unlike Elisha, who pushed away Gehazi with his two hands, and unlike Yehoshu’a son of Peraḥia, who pushed away Jesus the Nazarene with his two hands….

What of Yehoshu’a son of Peraḥia?—when King Yannai [Hyrcanus] was slaughtering the Sages, Yehoshu’a son of Peraḥia and Jesus fled to Alexandria of Egypt. When there was peace, Shim’on son of Shetaḥ sent to him: ‘From me, Jerusalem the holy city, to you, Alexandria of Egypt my sister. My husband dwells within you and I am desolate.’ He arose, went, and found himself in a certain inn, where great honor was shown him. ‘How beautiful is this אַכְסַנִיָא (aḥsaniya)!’ [the word denotes both ‘inn’ and ‘innkeeper.’ Yehoshu’a used it in the first sense; the answer assumes the second to be meant]. Thereupon [Jesus] said to him, ‘Rabbi, her eyes are narrow.’ ‘Wicked one! This is how you engage yourself?’ He sounded four hundred ram’s horns and excommunicated him. He came before him many times pleading, ‘Receive me!’ But he would take no notice of him. One day he was reciting the Shema, when Jesus came before him. He intended to receive him and gestured to him with his hand [cf. M Berakhot 5:1: ‘Even if a snake is wound round his heel he should not interrupt’]. [Jesus] thinking that it was to shoo him away, went, put up a brick, and worshiped it. ‘Repent,’ he said to him. He replied, ‘[But] I have received from you: He who offends and causes others to offend is not given the opportunity to repent.’ And a master has said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene practiced magic and led Israel astray'” (BT Sanhedrin 107b).

“Ten kavs of witchcraft descended to the world: nine were taken by Egypt and one by the rest of the world” (BT Qiddushin 49b).

“Son of Stada brought forth witchcraft from Egypt by means of scratches [in the form of charms] upon his flesh…. Was he then the son of Stada: surely he was the son of Pandera? Rav Ḥisda said: The husband was Stada, the lover was Pandera. But the husband was Pappos son of Yehudah? His mother was סְטָדָא (Stadtha). But his mother was Miriam the hairdresser? It is as we say in Pumbedita: סָטָת דָּא (Satath da), this one veered, from her husband” (BT Shabbat 104b, cf. BT Sanhedrin 67a).

“As the people say [in Aramaic]: [Descended] from governors and rulers, [yet] she ran after גַּבְרִי נַגָּרֵי (gavri naggarei), virile carpenter’s axes [cf. Matthew 13:55: ‘Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary?’]” (BT Sanhedrin 106b).

“Rabbi Shim’on the Devout said: ‘There are 974 generations who pressed themselves forward to be created before the world was created, but were not created: the blessed Holy One arose and planted them in each and every generation, and it is they who are the impudent of the generation” (BT Ḥagigah 13b).

And the son of an Israelite woman, he being the son of an Egyptian man, went out among the Children of Israel, and the son of the Israelite woman and a certain Israelite man brawled in the camp [and the son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name, vilifying it…. וְנֹקֵב שֵׁם יְהוָה מוֹת יוּמָת (ve-noqev shem Adonai mot yumat)And he who pronounces YHWH’s name shall be doomed to dieיֵשׁוּ (yeshu), Jesus] (Leviticus 24:10–11, 16).

[And the son of an Israelite woman…] went out. Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘He went out from the sphere of all, he went out from the sphere of faith, and he went out from the sphere of the share of Israel. ‘Brawled in the camp—from here we learn: Whoever comes from polluted seed eventually exposes if before all. What causes this? Filth of the evil portion within him, for he has no share in the entire sphere of Israel.

Rabbi Ḥiyya opened, ‘It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, the glory of kings, to probe a matter (Proverbs 25:2). It is the glory of God to conceal a matter—for a human is not permitted to divulge hidden matters not intended to be revealed, things covered by the Ancient of Days, as is said: that they may eat their fill and cover themselves elegantly (Isaiah 23:18). That they may eat their fill—until that place permitted to you, no farther. Nevertheless, and cover themselves עָתִיק (athiq), elegantly—and cover עָתִּיק (attiq), the Ancient One, surely!

Alternatively, that they may eat their fill—the Companions who know ways and paths, to walk in the way of faith fittingly, such as the generation in which Rabbi Shim’on dwells. And cover the Ancient One—from other generations, for none of them are worthy to eat their fill and to have matters revealed among them. Rather, cover the Ancient One—as is said: Do not let your mouth make your flesh sin (Ecclesiastes 5:5). In the days of Rabbi Shim’on, a person would say to his fellow, ‘Open your mouth and let your words shine!’ After he passed away, they would say, ‘Do not let your mouth make your flesh sin.’ In his days, to eat their fill; and after he passed away, and cover the Ancient One—for the Companions stammer and cannot comprehend.

Alternatively, to eat their fill—of those matters that are revealed. And cover the Ancient One—those matters that are covered.

The son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name (Leviticus 24:11). What is meant by וַיִּקֹּב (va-yiqqov), pronounced? Rabbi Abba said, ‘Va-yiqqov, Pierced, surely—as is said: וַיִּקֹּב (Va-yiqqov), He pierced, a hole in its door (2 Kings 12:10)—piercing what had been closed up.’

His mother’s name was Shelomith daughter of Dibri (Leviticus 24:11). Until here, Scripture concealed his mother’s name; once it is written וַיִּקֹּב (va-yiqqov), pierced, Scripture נָקִיב (neqeiv), designated, his mother’s name [as if to say, ‘נָקַב (naqav), Cursed, be the one who bore and raised a son such as this’]. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Were it not that the Holy Lamp exists in the world, I would not be permitted to reveal. From here on, this word is conveyed only to the Companions, who are among the Reapers of the Field. Contrarily, any who seek to reveal to those who do not know—may their spirit expire!

Come and see: It is written and the son of the Israelite woman and a certain Israelite man brawled in the camp (Leviticus 24:10). This verse has already been established; but this is the son of another wife of his father, husband of Shelomith. When that Egyptian copulated with [Shelomith] in the middle of the night, and [her husband] returned home and realized what had happened, he separated from her and no longer cohabited with her. He took another wife and engendered this one, called a certain Israelite man, whereas the other one is the son of the Israelite woman [cf. Vayiqra Rabbah 32:4: ‘He was definitely a bastard’; Zohar 2:90b: ‘Rabbi Yitsḥak said, Honor your father—your father (Exodus 20:12), precisely, for look, one who covets a woman and engenders a child, that child will honor another who is not his father!’]. If they brawled with one another, what need is there here for the Holy Name, and why did he curse the Holy Name? Well, in the midst of fighting, that certain Israelite man said something about [the other one’s] mother. Immediately, וַיִּקּוֹב בֶּן הָאִשָּׁה הַיִּשְׂרְאֵלִית (va-yiqqov ben ha-ishah ha-yisre’elit), the son of the Israelite woman pierced—as is said: (Va-yiqqov), He pierced, a hole in its door (2 Kings 12:10). Mystery of the matter: He took the ה״ (he) of the Holy Name [יהוה (YHWH)] and cursed, to defend his mother. This is piercing, for he pierced the Holy Name. This is uttered for the Reapers of the Field. Mystery of the matter: Such is the way of an adulteress: [she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wrong’] (Proverbs 30:20). Happy is the share of the righteous, who know the matter and conceal it! Thus it is said Have your quarrel with your neighbor, but another’s secret do not reveal (ibid. 25:9).

The final ה״ (he) [of יהוה (YHWH)] was the Female, suckling on two sides. Consequently, She took the weapons of the King to wreak Her vengeance. Take out the one who cursed (Leviticus 24:14). Thus it is written Every man shall revere his mother and his father (ibid. 19:3), reverence for one’s mother preceding that of one’s father. Happy are Israel in this world and in the world that is coming!

Alternatively… Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘They brawled with one another and he said something about [the other one’s] mother, and that his father was the one killed by the Holy Name—as has been established: It is written הַלְהָרְגֵנִי אַתָּה אֹמֵר (Ha-lehargeni attah omer), Do you speak to kill me [as you killed the Egyptian]? (Exodus 2:14), for Moses killed him by the Holy Name. So he extended a word toward him. This is why it is written The son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name, cursing it, and he was brought to Moses. Why? Because it pertained to Moses, since he had killed [the man’s] father by the Holy Name. Therefore, he was brought to Moses. Once Moses perceived, immediately, he was put under guard…. (Leviticus 24:12); so father and son fell into Moses’ hands” (Zohar 3:105b–106b).

The Abomination of Egypt

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“Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Why is the Passover offering a lamb?’ Well, because it is written If we sacrifice the abomination of Egypt (Exodus 8:22). What is meant by the abomination of Egypt? Now, could it be that because they despise it the verse reads the abomination of Egypt? Rather, the Egyptians’ deity and god is called the abomination of Egypt. Thus it is written like the abominations of those nations (Deuteronomy 18:9)—the gods of the other nations.’

Come and see the wisdom of Joseph, as is written: From among all his brothers he took five men (Genesis 47:2), and he taught them to say Your servants are shepherds, we and our fathers as well (ibid., 3). Now, would a king ruling over the whole land and a father to the king do such a thing, making his brothers despicable and disreputable to them [for every shepherd is abhorrent to Egypt (Genesis 46:34)]? But surely, the abomination of Egypt is what their deity and god was called. Thus it is written If we sacrifice the abomination of Egypt….

Joseph said, ‘The best of the land is the land of Rameses, and that land they have set aside for their gods, to graze and wander to their hearts’ delight; and all the Egyptians esteem those who shepherd their gods as their very gods. I will enable my brothers to inherit that land, so the Egyptians will bow down to them and esteem them fittingly.’ This accords with what is written: For every shepherd is an abomination to Egypt (Genesis 46:34)—they esteem them as their gods.’

Rabbi Yose said, ‘But we have learned: Just as the blessed Holy One will punish idolators, so will He punish the idols themselves [cf. JT Ḥagigah 2:1, 77a; Bereshit Rabbah 96:5; Vayiqra Rabbah 26:7; Midrash Shemu’el 24:5; Tanḥuma, Vayḥi 3, Emor 2; Tanḥuma (Buber), Vayḥi 5; Emor; 4 BT Avodah Zarah 54b]. Now, did Joseph make his brothers into idols?’

He replied, ‘Joseph didn’t make his brothers into idols, but rather into rulers over the Egyptians’ idols, subduing their gods, chastising them with a rod. Joseph said, ‘If my brothers rule over their gods, they will certainly rule over the Egyptians themselves!’ That is why he settled them in the best of the land, giving them control over all the land.

So, why is the Passover offering a lamb? Well, because the lamb was the deity and god of Egypt. The blessed Holy One said, ‘From the tenth of the month, take the Egyptians’ deity and seize it, and let it be bound and held in your custody for one, two, three days. And on the fourth day, bring it out to be judged and assemble against it.’

When the Egyptians heard the voice of their deity, held in Israel’s custody, and they could not rescue it, they wept, and it was as hard on them as if they themselves had been bound for slaughter [cf. John 1:29–36]. The blessed Holy One said, ‘Let it be held in your possession day after day for four days, so that they will see it captured; and on the forth day bring it out to the field forum to be killed, and let the Egyptians see how you execute judgment on it.’ This was harder on them than all the plagues that the blessed Holy One had inflicted upon them—those judgements that they executed on their deities.

Afterward, they punished it with fire, for it is written: The images of their gods you shall burn in fire (Deuteronomy 7:25). The blessed Holy One said, Do not eat of it raw (Exodus 12:9)—so that [the Egyptians] will not say, ‘Out of craving for our deity, they are eating it like this.’ Nor cooked (ibid.)—for if it is cooked, it will be concealed, and [the Egyptians] will not see it. Rather, it should be prepared so that they see it being burned in fire, so that its odor will spread.

Furthermore, its head bent over its shank—so that [the Egyptians] will not say that it is a different animal or something else; rather, they will recognize it as their deity. Further, they should not eat it ravenously, but rather on a full stomach, showing disgrace and contempt.

Further, No bone shall you break in it (Exodus 12:46)—rather, [the Egyptians] should see its bone cast into the street and be unable to save it. Thus it is written [Upon all the gods of Egypt I will execute] judgments (Exodus 12:12)—many judgements.

Further, your staff in your hand (Exodus 12:11)—and not a sword or spear or any other weapon of war.

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘It has already has been established that the Egyptians worshiped the constellation Aries, and that is why they worshipped a sheep.’

Rabbi Yose said, ‘If so, they should have worshipped a lamb and not a sheep’ [טָלֶה (taleh), lamb, is numerically equivalent to דָם (dam), blood, which alludes to מַאְדִים (Ma’adim), Mars]. He replied, ‘They worship them all. Actually, the constellation Aries descends and ascends, as a lamb and a sheep; so they worship them all.’ He said to him, ‘I have heard as follows: that all cattle were their deity, and so the blessed Holy One killed all the firstborn of the cattle (Exodus 12:29). As has been said, these are rungs on high, who are called so’” (Zohar 3:250b–251a).

A Slanderer Separates an Intimate

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא נְפָשׁוֹת רַבּוֹת עַל כָּל מַה שֶּׁבָּרָא חַי הָעוֹלָמִים Blessed are You, YHWH our God, King of the World, who creates many נְפָשׁוֹת (nefashot), forms of life. Over all He has created Vitality of the Worlds” (Bore Nefashot [Nusaḥ Baladi]).

“What is the reason we say, ‘over all He has created Vitality of the Worlds,’ and we do not say, ‘over all You have created’? Rather, we bless the blessed Holy One [for] He imbues Vitality of the Worlds [with] His wisdom, and He gives all. What is the reason we say, ‘Who made us holy through His mitsvot and commanded us,’ and we do we not say, ‘You made us holy through Your mitsvot, and You commanded us’? To teach that all the mitsvot are comprised in Vitality of the Worlds, and in His compassion for us He gave them to us in order to make us holy through them, that we [might] be worthy. What is the reason? For while we are in this world, we can merit the world to come. He is All, and in His hand is אוֹצָר כָּל הַנְּשָׁמוֹת (otsar kal ha-neshamot), the Treasury of Souls” (Bahir §§183–184).

“And what is The fullness of all the earth is His glory (Isaiah 6:3)? Only all the אָרֶץ (arets), earth, created on the first day, above, parallel to the אֶרֶץ (erets), land, of Israel [below], full of YHWH’s glory. And what is it? Ḥokhmah, Wisdom, as is written, The wise inherit glory (Proverbs 3:35), and it is said, Blessed be YHWH’s glory from His place (Ezekiel 3:12). What is YHWH’s glory? A parable: A king had a Matronita in his chamber, and all his mighty warriors delighted in her. She had children who came each day to see the face of the king and bow to him, asking, ‘Where is our mother?” ‘You cannot see her now,’ he replied. They said, ‘May she be blessed wherever she is!’ 

What is from His place? There is none who know His place. This is like a king’s daughter who came from afar, and nobody knew where she came from. When they saw that she was אֵשֶׁת חַיִל (eshet ḥayil), a mighty woman, lovely and honorable in all her deeds, they said, ‘Undoubtedly she was taken from the side of light, for her deeds give light to the world.’ Then they asked her, ‘Where are you from?’ ‘From my place,’ she replied. They said, ‘If so, the people of your place must be great. Blessed are you and blessed is your place.’ Is not this Glory [just] one among His [vast] armies, לֹא גָּרַע (lo gara), no less [and no more]? Why bless Her? [or: Is not this Glory one among His armies? לֹא גְּרַע (Lo gera), do not cut (Her) off! Why ‘bless’ Her? (i.e., why curse Her?)] A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A man had a lovely garden. Outside the garden, but near to it, there was a lovely piece of שָׂדֶה (sadeh), land [cf. Bahir §62]. He made a lovely garden in it. When he irrigates the garden, the water flows over the whole garden but does [not] reach that piece of land, which is [not] joined, even though all is one. Therefore, he opened a place [to her] and waters her separately.

Rav Raḥmai said: כָּבוֹד (Kavod), Glory, and לֵב (lev), Heart, are one—Glory is called a name corresponding to an action above, while Heart is called a name corresponding to an action below. However, they are one and the same—YHWH’s glory (Ezekiel 3:12) is the Heart of the heavens (Deuteronomy 4:11)” (Bahir §§130–134).

“He opened again, saying, ‘A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates an intimate‘ (Proverbs 16:28). A perverse man spreads—as we have said, the wicked cause a defect above. ‘And a slanderer אַלּוּף (aluf), separates, an intimate‘—he separates אַלּוּפוּ (Alufu), the Chief, of the world, namely the blessed Holy One.

Alternatively, A perverse man יְשַׁלַּח מָדוֹן (yishlaḥ madon), spreads strife. What is יְשַׁלַּח (yishlaḥ)? He drives away those plants. מָדוֹן (Madon)—for they imbibe from the side of דִינַא (Dina), Judgement.

And a slanderer separates an intimate‘—as we have said, they cause a defect above. Separates—for union no longer exists, he separates Matronita from the King, and the King from Matronita. So He is not called One, for He is called One only when they share one coupling. Woe to the wicked who perpetrate this! Happy are the masters of teshuvah who restore everything to its place!” (Zohar 3:16b).

“The sin of the primordial serpent: he joined below and it separated above. So he caused what he caused to the world. For one should separate below and join above… one should realize that יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (YHWH Elohim) is entirely one, indivisible. יְהוָה (YHWH) is הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim). Once one realizes all is one and does not impose division, even that Other Side will disappear from the world, not be drawn below” (Zohar 1:12b).

“One might ask: Why do we pray to the blessed Holy One on several rungs? Sometimes one prays through a certain sefirah or quality, sometimes one’s prayer is to the right, as it says, ‘He who desires to become wise should turn to the south’ (BT Bava Batra 25b). Sometimes to the left, ‘He who desires to become rich should turn to the north’ (ibid.). Sometimes to the middle pillar, sometimes to the Righteous One. Every prayer goes up to a certain rung but יהוה (YHWH) is truly in every sefirah” (Tiqqunei Zohar Ḥadash 109a).

“You might suggest that we have a problem here, since it is written that all the sacrifices are to יהוה (YHWH), and ask how, therefore, it can be said that there is a separation of the letters. This is said about those stages that were created and called by His name and not that they are He Himself, as is written: Everyone that is called by My name: for My glory I have created him, I have formed him; yea, I have made him (Isaiah 43:7). And there are the four letters of יהוה (YHWH) of אֲצִילוּת (Atsilut), Emanation, containing no separation nor cessation, for they are as fountains watering trees. And regarding those that were created they are likened, the י (yod) to a head, the ו (vav) to a body, while the ה ה (hehe) to ten fingers. But the Cause of Causes, Who is over everything is called יהוה (YHWH), of Him is said: To whom then will you liken Me, that I should be equal? says the Holy One (Isaiah 40:25). To whom then will you liken God or what likeness will you compare to Him? (Isaiah 40:18) For I am יְהוָה (YHWH) I do not change (Malachi 3:6). The sins of the creatures do not touch Him, nor separate in Him the י (yod) from the ה (he), nor the ו (vav) from the ה (he). For there is no separation in Him and it is said of Him: nor shall evil dwell with You (Psalms 5:5). He rules over all and there is none who rules over Him. He comprehends all and there is none who comprehends Him. And He is not called by יהוה (YHWH) nor by all the other names, but is known by His light that spreads over them. And when He departs from them, He has, of Himself, no name at all: deep deep, who can find Him? (Ecclesiastes 7:24)” (Zohar 3:224a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“The Holy Ancient One, concealed of all concealed. Separate, separated from all, yet not separate; for all are joined to it, and it is joined to all. It itself is all! … The light of each and every spark, called Adornments of the King, Crowns of the King—each one shines into, joins onto the light within, within, no separating without. So all rises to one level, all is crowned with one word; no separating one from the other. It and Its name is one” (Zohar 3:288a, 296b Idra Zuta).

Choose the Spice of Life

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“Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi asked: ‘What is And this is the teaching which Moses שָׂם (sam), set, before the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:44)?’ If he is worthy it becomes for him סַם (sam), medicine, of life, if not, סַם (sam), poison, of death [cf. pharmakon]” (BT Yoma 72b, cf. BT Ta’anit 7a).

“There is nothing good higher than עֹנֶג (oneg), delight, there is nothing evil lower that נֶגַע (nega), affliction” (Sefer Yetsirah §18).

Inasmuch as you will not have served YHWH your God in joy and with a good heart out of an abundance of all things, you will serve your enemies whom YHWH will send against you… I call to witness for you today the heavens and the earth. Life and death I set before you, the blessing and the curse, and you shall choose life so that you may live, you and your seed (Deuteronomy 28:47; 30:19).

“Our Rabbis taught: וְשַׂמְתֶּם (Ve-samtem), and you shall set [these words on your heart and in your very being…] (Deuteronomy 11:18)—סַם תָּם (sam tam), a complete remedy. Torah is compared to סַם חַיִּים (sam ḥayyim), an elixir of life. A parable: A man who struck his son a strong blow, and [then] put a plaster on his wound, saying to him, ‘My son, as long as this plaster is on your wound eat and drink what you like, and bathe in hot water or cold water, and do not fear. But if you remove it, look, it will rot.’ Thus the blessed Holy One said to Israel: ‘My children! I created the evil impulse but I [also] created Torah, as its תַבלִין (tavlin), antidote [lit., ‘spice’]; if you occupy yourself with Torah, you will not be delivered into his hand, as is said: For if you offer well, will it not be uplifting? (Genesis 4:7). But if you do not occupy yourself with Torah, you will be delivered into his hand, as is written, at the tent flap sin crouches (ibid.). And not only that, but he is entirely occupied with you, as is said, and for you is his longing (ibid.). Yet if you wish, you will rule over him, as is said, and you will rule over him (ibid.)” (BT Qiddushin 30b).

“This may be compared to a doctor who had one vial full of vivifying drug, which he kept for his son. He wanted to give his son that vivifying ointment. The doctor was wise, and he said, ‘There are bad servants in my house. If they know that I am giving this present to my son, it will be evil in their eyes, and they will seek to kill him.’

What did he do? He took a little bit of deadly poison and put it on the opening of the vial. Then he called his servants and said to them, You are faithful to me; would you like this drug?

They said, Let’s see what it is. They took a bit to taste, and before even smelling it, they felt that they were about to die. They said to themselves, If he gives this drug to his son, he will die, and we will inherit our master.

They said to him, Our master, this drug is fitting only for your son. Here are the wages of our labor; we leave them for you—give them to him as a bribe so that he will take this drug.

Similarly, the blessed Holy One is a wise doctor. He knew that if He gave the Torah to Israel before informing [the heavenly princes], they would pursue Israel every day on account of it and kill them. But He did this, and they gave Him gifts and presents so that [Israel] would accept it. All of these Moses received to give to Israel, as is written: You ascended the heights, you seized captives, you took gifts for humans (Psalms 68:19). Consequently, Israel inherited the Torah without any challenge or any accusation at all. Blessed is He and blessed is His name forever and forever!” (Zohar 3:193a, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 2b–3b).

“Even with all [of one’s lifetime of חֵטְא (ḥet), missing the mark] if he turns back in repentance of this it says, Turn back and be healed (Isaiah 6:10). And I will give him his soulmate, as it says, Let her be healing to your navel (Proverbs 3:8)—the form of Torah is סַם (sam), medicine, and she is life, as is written, A tree of life is she to those who grasp her (ibid. 3:18) [cf. BT Qiddushin 30b]. And his wife is in his form, as is written, Enjoy life with a woman whom you love (Ecclesiastes 9:9). Torah is good, as is written, For good learning I have given you, [do not forsake תּוֹרָתִי (torati), My teaching] (Proverbs 4:2). And his wife is in his form, as is written, Who finds a wife, finds a good thing (ibid. 18:22)” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 30a).