The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: Kosher

We Eat anything We Want and We are Strong and Healthy and Our Limbs are Fit

image“Rabbi Pinḥas son of Ya’ir said: Zeal leads to cleanliness, cleanliness leads to purity, purity leads to restraint, restraint leads to holiness, holiness leads to humility, humility leads to fear of sin, fear of sin leads to חֲסִידוּת (ḥasidut), devotion, ḥasidut leads to Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit leads to revival of the dead, revival of the dead comes through Elijah, remembered for good” (M Sotah 9:15, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 20b).

“Abraham observed laws of purity and impurity so vigilantly that an impure person could not even approach” (Zohar 1:102b).

“Resh Laqish said: ‘… If one comes to defile himself, the door is opened to him; if one comes to purify himself, he is assisted.’ … It was taught in the school of Rabbi Yishma’el: ‘Sin dulls [or: obstructs] a person’s heart, as is said: Do not become impure with them, וְנִטְמֵתֶם (ve-nitmetem), becoming impure, through them (Leviticus 11:43). Do not read וְנִטְמֵתֶם (ve-nitmetem), becoming impure, but rather וְנִטַּמְתֶּם (ve-nitamtem), becoming dulled [or: obstructed]’” (BT Yoma 38b).

“It is written: You shall sanctify yourselves and be holy… (Leviticus 11:44). If one comes to defile himself, he is surely defiled. And it is written: וְנִטְמֵתֶם (ve-nitmetem), becoming impure, through them (ibid., 43)—[spelled unconventionally] without an א (alef): totally obstructed impurity, which cannot be purified as can other types of impurity. Furthermore, he is terrified of dangerous beasts, for in their eyes he appears as a kid and he is vulnerable, being divested of the human image [see BT Sanhedrin 38b: ‘Rami son of Ḥama said: A wild beast has no dominion over man unless he appears to it as a brute, as is written, He is likened to beasts that are doomed (Psalms 49:13).’ Cf. BT Shabbat 151b; Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah on 3:7]. Rabbi Yeisa permitted the eating of chicken with dairy cheese [see BT Shabbat 130a]. Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘This is surely forbidden to you! One should not provide an opening for evil species. ‘Go, O Nazarite,’ one says, ‘around; do not approach the vineyard!’ This is surely forbidden to you, since it entails the same stricture as cattle. What is written of one who permits this? You gave the Nazarites wine to drink (Amos 2:12)—permitting this is like permitting that. And it is written: You shall not eat any abhorrent thing (Deuteronomy 14:3)—any includes everything” (Zohar 2:125b).

“Now, you might say, ‘What about the goat, upon which settles an impure spirit? Not so! For if an impure spirit settled upon it, we would be forbidden to eat it. Rather, they pass through them and manifest in front of them, yet do not settle within them; for as they settle, another spirit passes over them and they disengage from their bodies. So they appear in front of them and harass within them, yet do not possess their bodies—which we are therefore permitted to eat. Whether cattle, beasts, birds, or fish of the sea—among all of them appear right and left, Compassion and Judgment. Whatever comes from the side of the right, the side of Compassion, we are permitted to eat; and all those coming from the side of the left, the side of Judgment, we are forbidden to eat [i.e., predators, scavengers, and bottom feeders]—for all their bodies are impure and they all defile; an impure spirit settles within them, dwelling in them. Therefore, the holy spirit of Israel must not mingle with them nor be defiled by them, so that they may remain holy and be recognized above and below. Happy is their share, for the Holy King delights in them and seeks to purify and sanctify them above all, for they are linked to Him!…

Whoever eats of those forbidden foods clings to the Other Side and makes his soul and his body loathsome. An impure spirit settles upon him, and he demonstrates that he has no share in the supernal King and does not come from His side nor cleave to Him. If he departs like this from the world, he is seized by all those linked to the side of impurity, who defile him—punishing him as a person loathed by his Lord, loathed in this world and loathed in the world that is coming. Of this is written וְנִטְמֵתֶם (ve-nitmetem), becoming impure, through them (Leviticus 11:43)—without an א (alef), for there is no remedy for his loathsomeness, and he never emerges from impurity. Woe to them, woe to their souls, for they will never cling to the Bundle of Life because they have been defiled! Woe to their bodies, of which is written For their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be a horror to all flesh (Isaiah 66:24). What is a horror? A stench. Who causes this? That side to which they clung” (Zohar 3:41b).

“Rabbi Abba said, I remember something that I heard from the Holy Lamp, who heard it in the name of Rabbi Eli’ezer [son of Hyrcanus]. One day, a certain clever Gentile came to him and said, Old man, old man… you say that you’re closer to the supernal King than all other nations. Well, one who is close to the King is always happy, free from sorrow and distress; but you are in greater sorrow, distress, and agony than all other nations. As for us, no sorrow, distress, or agony even comes near us. We are close to the supernal King, and you are far from Him, which is why you suffer sorrow and distress, mourning and agony, which we do not!

Furthermore, you don’t eat any animal that has not been slaughtered properly or is diseased or defective, so that you will be healthy and your bodies will be fit. Well, we eat whatever we want, and we are vigorous and healthy, all our limbs enduring firmly; whereas you—who don’t eat—are all weak, sickly, and broken more than all other peoples [cf. Guide of the Perplexed 3:48]. A people hated by your God entirely!

[The Gentile] said, ‘Old man, old man, don’t say anything to me, because I won’t listen to you or accept it! [cf. Proverbs 18:2: A fool does not care for discerning but for exposing his inner thoughts; ibid., 26:4–5: Do not answer a dolt by his folly, lest you, too, be like him. Answer the dolt by his folly, lest he seem wise in his own eyes].’

Rabbi Eli’ezer raised his eyes and gazed at him, and he turned into a heap of bones.

When his wrath subsided, he turned his head and wept. He said, YHWH our Lord, how majestic is Your name throughout the earth! (Psalms 8:2). How mighty is the holy power throughout the earth! There is not a single tiny word appearing in the Torah that has not issued from the mouth of the blessed Holy One. These things asked by that wicked man I asked Elijah one day, and he said that they had been presented in the Heavenly Academy before the blessed Holy One….

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

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

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

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

Rabbi Yose came and kissed his hands. He said, ‘If I have come into the world just to hear this, it is enough!'” (Zohar 3:221a–b).

YHWH Saves both Man and Beast

“Before Adam sinned, what was written? God said, ‘Look, I have given you every [seed-bearingplant…’ (Genesis 1:29), and to you it shall be for food (ibid.), but nothing more. After he sinned and the evil impulse had been absorbed into his body and that of his descendants, He executed judgment upon them.

Afterward, Noah came and perceived that the body was built upon the pervasive evil impulse. He offered a sacrifice just as Adam did. What is written? YHWH smelled the pleasing aroma… since the devisings of the human heart are evil from youth (Genesis 8:21). The blessed Holy One said, ‘From now on, since his body has been imbued with the evil impulse, let the body enjoy as much as a person sees fit—let him eat meat [cf. Deuteronomy 12:20: when your appetite craves eating meat, wherever your appetite’s craving may be, you shall eat meat].

Like the green plants, I have given all to you (ibid. 9:3). When he eats meat, his own flesh delights from that flesh, and they intermingle. His body swells as a result; and on account of the pleasure the body sins copiously. Thus, the blessed Holy One said, atonement for the body—with flesh. Meat that a person eats produces blood for the body. Blood remaining from that meat—drained—is designated for atonement for blood, manufactured from its own flesh. This is as is written: it is the blood that gains atonement through the soul (Leviticus 17:1)” (Zohar 1:89b, Sitrei Torah, cf. BT Sanhedrin 59b).

“[Suffering] came to Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] through a certain incident. What was it?—a calf was being lead to the slaughter, when it broke away, hid his head under Rabbi’s coat tails, and lowed [in terror]. ‘Go,’ he said, ‘for this were you created.’ Thereupon they said [in the heavenly court], ‘Since he has no pity, let us bring suffering upon him.’

And [suffering] departed likewise. How so?—One day Rabbi’s maid servant was sweeping the house; [seeing] some young weasels lying there, she went to sweep them away. ‘Let them be,’ he said to her; ‘It is written, His mercy is over all His works (Psalms 145:9).’ They said, ‘Since he is compassionate, let us be compassionate to him.’ Whereupon suffering departed from him (BT Bava Metsi’a 85a).

“Why did God deem it necessary for man to slaughter animals for his food? Is it not written: YHWH is good to all and His mercy is over all His works (Psalms 145:9). And if He is merciful, how could He command that animals be slaughtered for food? Where is His mercy? The essence of the verse is contained in the first clause: YHWH is good to all—absolutely good! Therefore His Mercy is over all His works.

This is the interpretation: in the Work of Creation it is predetermined if a particular animal is destined to be slaughtered, and the animal says ‘good.’ What is the reason for this? The animal does not have a נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul [but only a נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), life-breath, see Genesis 1:24, cf. Leviticus 17:11], with which to grasp the deeds and might of God, and so God says to them: ‘Do you wish to be slaughtered and eaten by man and by doing so ascend from the rung of an ignorant animal to the rung of a human who knows and recognizes YHWH, may He be blessed?’ The animals answered, ‘good, and mercy will be upon us.’ For when man eats from parts of an animal that animal in turn becomes part of man’s body, so the animal turns into man and it’s slaughter is an act of mercy, for it has left the reality of the animal and entered the reality of the human.

Thus the death of the human is life for the animal, for it ascends to the heights of angels and this is the essence of the verse YHWH saves man and beast (Psalms 36:8). If this is so, understand the essence of [ritual animal] slaughter: it is done as an act of His abundant mercy and compassion upon all His creatures, thus you should contemplate what the Sages have taught in Pesaḥim: ‘An ignoramus is forbidden to eat meat [for it is said, This is the תּוֹרַת (torat), teaching, about beast and bird (Leviticus 11:46); whoever engages in Torah may eat the flesh of beast and bird, but he who does not engage in Torah may not eat the flesh of beast and bird]’ (BT Pesaḥim 49b) [cf. Sefer ha-Qanah 120r]—slaughtering animals is only a commandment for those who know what the Law says regarding domesticated animals, wild animals, and foul.

All who are involved in Torah are permitted to eat meat, and all who are not are forbidden. Therefore a man unlettered is forbidden to eat meat, for he is like a domesticated animal without a נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul. He is not allowed to slaughter an animal for the benefit of another animal, unless it has already become unfit for [ritual] slaughter” (Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, Sha’arei Orah, Sha’ar ha-Shishi, Sefirah ha-Ḥamishit).

“Flesh is garment of the human, as is written everywhere: flesh of a human (Exodus 30:32)—human, within; flesh, garment of the human, it’s body.

Specters below, melted in the smelting of this spirit, were figured into figures clothed in another garment, such as figures of pure animals: ox, sheep, goat, deer, gazelle, roebuck, wild goat, ibex, antelope, and mountain sheep (Deuteronomy 14:4–5), who desire to be interwoven in the garment of the human, flesh of the human” (Zohar 1:20b).

Mountains Hanging by a Hair, Baked Bread, the Bride and Her Royal Tailors

“The הֲלָכוֹת (halakhot), ways of conduct, concerning the Sabbath, Festal-offerings and acts of trespass are as mountains hanging by a hair, for they have scant Scriptural basis but many halakhot” (BT Ḥagigah 10a, cf. Deuteronomy 30:12; BT Bava Metsi’a 59b).

“What is the difference between Scripture and Mishnah [i.e., the Written Torah and the Oral Torah]? They told a parable. To what may this be compared? To a king of flesh and blood who had two servants, whom he loved completely. He gave each of them a measure of wheat and a bundle of flax. The wise one of them—what did he do? He took the flax and wove it into cloth. He took the wheat and made it into flour. He sifted it, grounded, needed, and baked it, and then set it on the table and spread the cloth over it. He left it until the king arrived. The foolish of the two did nothing at all.

After sometime, the king came to his palace and said to them, ‘my children, bring me what I gave to you.’ One brought out the [bread baked with] fine flour on the table covered with cloth, and the other brought wheat in a box with the bundle of flax on top. Woe for that shame! Woe for that disgrace! You must admit: which of them is more beloved? Obviously, he who laid out the table with the [bread baked of] fine flour on it…. When the blessed Holy One gave the Torah to Israel, he gave it to them as wheat from which to produce fine flour, and as flax from which to produce both” (Seder Eliyyahu Zuta 2, cf. Zohar 2:176a–b).

“Rabbi Shim’on opened, saying, ‘Oh, Let him kiss me with his mouth’s kisses (Song of Songs 1:2). Oral Torah said this to Written Torah—pursuing His sweetness, uniting with one another through those kisses.

When She is in the midst of her maidens’ dispute regarding Her adornment, all of them striving to be ornaments for Written Torah, She joins and is embraced by the Written Torah in bliss—in a single bond—and He kisses Her amorously. Then, invigorated by Him, She says to Him with affection, ‘How much more precious are Your caresses than Your wine! Your love has seized me, intoxicating me with the wine of love, securing Me to You!’

Oral Torah receives magnificent adornment from Her maidens, uniting with Written Torah. Mishnah—crown of the head, mystery of fitting adornment. Baraita—mystery of embellishment of thighs and feet. Body—maidens approach with the fitting array, coming close to decorate Her. One says, ‘מוּתָר (Mutar), Permissible,’ and one says, אָסוּר (Asur), Forbidden’—this is ornamenting the bride, as they adorn Her. One says, ‘This jewel goes like so,’ and the other responds, ‘No, not like that. Surely, regarding the adornment for the head, the headdress is אָסוּר (asur), tied, and the headdress is fastened like this.’ And the other one says, ‘The headdress is מוּתָר (mutar), loosened, on this side—and אָסוּר (asur), tied, and fastened on this side.’ ‘This golden brooch on the body’s garment—it is פָּסוּל (pasul), unfit, to have this ornament there.’ This one says, ‘It is כָּשֵׁר (kasher), fit, and appropriate to dislay this one together with that one’—all enhancement and adornment of the bride [in speaking of קִשׁוּט (qishut), ornament, an allusion to קֶשׁוֹט (qeshot), truth, may be intended, hinting at the significance of the rabbinic rivalries (Hecker)].

In any event, as long as they beautify, flinging disputes about ornaments, She is enhanced in power, beauty, color, and refinement by them—sitting gloriously among them, feeling beautified by more than a hundred-fold [cf. BT agigah 9b in the name of Hillel]. After She has been adorned by them, they all take hold of Her by Her ornaments and beautiful embellishments, bringing Her to the King—Written Torah. When Matronita sits with the King, refined in Her beauty, and the King sees Her exquisitely adorned, that ornament proclaims that the King should kiss Her—for that is the cleaving of love, being enfolded in one another.

Who initiates those kisses and that love? Those maidens who adorned Her. When She and the King wish to bestow goodness upon the maidens—gifts for them all—they are given to them all at once. Even though they have contended with one another about the ornaments, the King and Matronita bestow gifts and presents with goodwill and affections, endowing them with an inheritance of a thousand worlds of longing for the World that is Coming. All the more so for those who know mysteries of wisdom, adorning embellishments, for there is no measure of their inherited legacy. Of them is written So I may endow my lovers with substance, and fill their storehouses (Proverbs 8:21)'” (Zohar Ḥadash 64a).

“There are likewise a number of verses where the Masters of Mishnah expand or restrict, according to [the principles] of amplification and diminution, and there are also cases [in which a letter is] added, as is said: ‘Do not read מַה (mah), what, but מֵאָה (me’ah), one hundred’ (BT Menaḥot 43b)…. Certain words that are written in the abbreviated spelling [are expounded] as though written out in full, and other [words] that are written out in full are as though written out in abbreviated form. About these and about all sorts of explanations that can be made to embellish the bride in Her ornaments, the blessed Holy One commanded us to do as they say, and to trust them, as is written: According to the teaching that they instruct you [and according to the judgment that they say to you, you shall do, you shall not swerve from the word that they tell you right or left] (Deuteronomy 17:11).

[This is like] a tailor who has cut cloth in order to make royal garments, and has made many pieces from them. Those who know the places where those pieces are missing [and are familiar with] the pieces which remain will be able to make the garments, for the pieces that have been collected together are placed where they are missing, and pieces that are too small are added to. And this is the true meaning of: According to the teaching that they instruct you. And you might well ask that, if this is so, what about the case where one of them occasionally errs and says, ‘I recant.’ Before issuing instructions concerning that matter about which there is a difference of opinion, the one who poses the difficulty can say, ‘I withdraw.’ For not all of those who make the parts of a bride’s ornaments know where each piece goes, until the ruling is made [and prior to when] resolutions to the arguments of the הֲלָכוֹת (halakhot), ways of conduct, have been given [הֲלָכָה (Halakhah) alludes to the many ornaments made for הַכַּלָה (ha-Kalah), the Bride, Oral Torah, Shekhinah]” (Zohar 3:254b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).