The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: larynx

No Image did You See Except the Sound

“[Rabbi Akiva said:] All the people were seeing the thunderings (Exodus 20:15)…. They were seeing the fiery word issuing from the mouth of Power and being engraved on the tablets” (Mekhilta, Baḥodesh 9).

“[Rabbi Amorai] said: What is written: And all the people were seeing the thunderings, and the flashes (Exodus 20:15)—is thunder, visible? But and all the people were seeing אֶת הַקּוֹלֹת (et ha-qolot), the thunderings, are those קוֹלוֹת (qolot), voicesof which King David spoke:

YHWH’s voice is over the waters. The God of glory thunders (Psalms 29:3). 

YHWH’s voice in power (ibid., 4), and it says, By the power, of My hand I have done it (Isaiah 10:13); Indeed My hand also has laid the foundation of the earth, [and My right hand has spread out the heavens: when I call to them, they stand up together] (ibid. 48:13).

YHWH’s voice in majesty (Psalms 29:4); Glory and grandeur His acts and His bounty stands for all time (ibid. 111:3).

YHWH’s voice breaking cedars (ibid. 29:5)—the bow that breaks cypress trees and cedar trees.

YHWH’s voice hews flames of fire (ibid., 7)—making peace between water and fire, hewing the power of fire and preventing it from evaporating water. Preventing water from extinguishing fire.

YHWH’s voice makes the wilderness shake (ibid., 8), as is said, And doing kindness with His anointed, for David and his seed forever (ibid. 18:51)—more than in the wilderness [when the Israelites were miraculously fed manna].

YHWH’s voice brings on the birth-pangs of does and lays bare the forests. And in His Temple all says glory (Psalms 29:9), as is written, I make you swear, O daughters of Jerusalem by the deer or the gazelles of the field, [that you shall not rouse not stir love until it pleases] (Song of Songs 2:7). To teach you that with seven קוֹלוֹת (qolot), voices, Torah was given. With each of them the Master of the Universe revealed Himself over them, and they saw Him. Thus it is written, And all the people were seeing אֶת הַקּוֹלֹת (et ha-qolot), the sounds.

One verse says: He tilted the heavens, came down, dense mist beneath His feet (2 Samuel 22:10). Another verse says: And YHWH came down on Mount Sinai, to the mountaintop (Exodus 19:20). However, still another verse says, From the heavens I spoke with you (Exodus 20:22). How is this so? And on the earth His great fire (Deuteronomy 4:36)—one voice. The other voices were in the heavens, as is written, From the heavens He made you hear His voice to reprove you, and on the earth He showed you His great fire, and His words you heard, from the midst of the fire (ibid.). But what was it? Great fire. From where did דִבּוּר (dibbur), Speech, emanate? From fire, as is written, and His words you heard, from the midst of the fire

What is but no image did you see except the voice (Deuteronomy 4:12)? As Moses said to Israel: for you saw no whole image [on the day YHWH spoke to you from the midst of the fire, lest you act ruinously and make you a sculpted image of any likeness…] (Deuteronomy 4:15)—an image, but not כָּל תְּמוּנָה (kal temunah), a whole image [cf. Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, 1:3].

A parable: A king stood over his slaves wrapped in a white covering—is this not enough to hold הַמַּלְכוּת (ha-malkhut), the kingship, in awe?—that they gaze upon his garment. Though the king was at a distance they heard his voice [see Exodus 20:19–20; Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 41]. Were they able to see his throat? You must say not. This teaches that they saw an image, but not a whole image. Thus it is written, but no image did you see except the קוֹל (qol), sound [or: voice]. It is also written, קוֹל דְּבָרִים (Qol devarim), the sound of words, you did hear.

One verse says: And all the people were seeing אֶת הַקּוֹלֹת (et ha-qolot), the sounds (Exodus 20:15). However, another verse says: קוֹל דְּבָרִים (Qol devarim), the sound of words, you did hear (Deuteronomy 4:12). How? At first they saw the voices. What did they see? The seven voices spoken of by David. But in the end they heard דִבּוּר (dibbur), Speech, emanating from the midst of them all. But we have learned that there were ten. Our Rabbis taught that they were all uttered with a single word [see Tanḥuma, Yitro 11]. But we have said that there were seven. There were seven voices. Of three of them is written: The sound of words you did hear but no image did you see except the sound (Deuteronomy 4:12). To teach you that they were all uttered with a single word. This is so that Israel should not err and say, ‘Others helped Him. Perhaps one of the angels, since His voice alone could not be so powerful.’ Thus on their account He returned and included them [in a single word].

Another interpretation: It was so that the world should not say that since there were עֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת (asarah ma’amarot), ten sayings, for ten kings it might be that He could not speak for them all through one. He therefore said אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I (Exodus 20:2), which included all ten. What are the ten kings? They are the שֶׁבַע קּוֹלֹת (sheva qolot), seven voices, and שְׁלֹשָׁה אֹמְרִים (sheloshah omrim), three sayings. But what sayings? And YHWH has proclaimed you today [to be to Him a treasured people, as He has spoken to you…] (Deuteronomy 26:18). But what are three? The beginning of wisdom is—get חָכְמָה (ḥokhmah), wisdom, and in all that you get, get בִינָה (binah), discernment (Proverbs 4:7) [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 17–18]. Therefore it is written [Yet it is a spirit in man,] and Shaddai’s breath that grants insight (Job 32:8)—Shaddai’s breath is תְּבִינֵם (tevinem), insight. What is third? As the old man said to the child, ‘Seek not things that are too hard for you, and search not things that are hidden from you. Reflect on the things that have been permitted you; you have no business with mysteries’ (BT Ḥagigah 13a) [see Ben Sira 3:21–22]” (Bahir §§45–49).

“This is the mystery of All the people saw the sounds and the flashes, and the sound of the shofar (Exodus 20:15). The sounds—these are the other letters that emerged from those sounds (as we have said), appearing in the air before the eyes of all, as is written: the sounds. It is not written all the people saw הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), sounds, but rather אֶת הַקּוֹלֹת (et ha-qolot), the sounds, alluding to the [entire sequence of] letters [from א (alef) to ת (tav)] that issued from them” (Zohar Ḥadash 41c).

“[Rabbi Yoḥanan said:] The voice went forth and split into seven voices, and from seven voices into seventy languages, so that all the nations would hear. Each and every nation heard His voice in its own language [see Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, Or ha-Sekhel 7: ‘שִׁבעִים לָשׁוֹנוֹת (Shevi’im lashonot), seventy languages, is numerically equivalent to צֵירוּף הָאוֹתִיּוֹת (tseruf ha-otiyyot), permutation of the letters’]” (TanḥumaShemot 25).

There were thunderings and lighting (Exodus 19:16). Rabbi Abba said, ‘It is spelled קֹלֹת (qolot), thunderings, deficiently [i.e., spelled without a ו (vav)]—two קָלִין (qalin), voices, turning back into one, issuing from one another: air from water, and water from air. It has been taught: Two that are one; one, an entirety encompassing two.

Rabbi Yose said, ‘קֹלֹת (Qolot)—one that is great and mighty, never ceasing. For it has been taught: In four cycles in the year the voice ceases, and then judgments arouse in the world; but this voice, comprising other voices, never ceases and is never deprived of its full existence and potency. This voice is voice of voices, a voice containing other voices.’

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Voice issues only from the aspect of air and water, and voice generates voice, intermingling, and it is spelled קֹלֹת (qolot).’

And lighting (Exodus 19:16). Rabbi Yose said, ‘This corresponds to what is written: He makes lightning for the rain (Psalms 135:7)—a flame in diadems, cluster of compassion, in unsubsiding love. It has been taught: Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Torah was given from the side of Gevurah. Rabbi Yose said, ‘If so, it is on the left side!’ He replied, ‘It returned to the right, as is written: From His right hand, a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2), and it is written Your right hand, O YHWH, glorious in power (Exodus 15:6). We find left turning into right, and right into left; thus Gevurah is on the left.’

And a heavy cloud on the mountain (Exodus 19:16)—a mighty cloud settling in its place, not moving. וְקֹל (Ve-qol), And the voice of, a shofar, very strong (ibid.)—out of this mighty cloud issues that voice, as is said: when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness (Deuteronomy 5:20).

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘There were three types of darkness, as is written: darkness, cloud, and dense fog (ibid. 4:11), and that voice issued as inmost of all.’ Rabbi Yose said, ‘Inmost of all, of which is written a mighty voice, unceasing (ibid. 5:19).

Rabbi Abba said, ‘It is written: All the people were seeing הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), the voices (Exodus 20:15). Were seeing—the verse should read were hearing. However, we have learned as follows: Those קָלִין (qalin), voices, were engraved in that darkness, cloud, and dense fog, and were visible in them as a body is visible, and they saw what they saw and heard what they heard from within that darkness, dense fog, and cloud. From within the vision they saw, they were illumined by the supernal radiance and knew what later generations coming after them would not know. They all saw face-to-face, as is written: Face-to-face YHWH spoke [with you]… (Deuteronomy 5:4).’

What did they see? Rabbi Yose taught, ‘Radiance of those voices—for there was not a single voice that did not shine radiantly, enabling them to gaze upon all hidden, concealed treasures and all generations that will appear until King Messiah. Therefore, All the people were seeing הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), the voices—actually seeing!” (Zohar 2:81a–b).

“When the blessed Holy One revealed Himself on Mount Sinai, when Torah was given to Israel in ten utterances, each and every utterance generated a voice, and that voice branched into seventy voices, all shining and sparkling before the eyes of all Israel, who saw eye-to-eye the splendor of His Glory, as is written: All the people were seeing הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), the voices (Exodus 20:15)—actually seeing!

That voice warned every single Israelite, saying to him, ‘Will you accept me upon yourselves with such-and-such commands of Torah?’ They replied, ‘Yes.’ It returned, circling round his head, and warned him, saying, ‘Will you accept me upon yourselves with such-and-such penalties of Torah?’ Each one said, ‘Yes.’ Afterward, that voice returned and kissed him on the mouth, as is written: O that he would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! (Song of Songs 1:2)” (Zohar 2:146a).

You Clothed Me in Skin and Flesh

“The Rabbis taught: The kidneys advise [Psalms 7:10; Proverbs 23:16], the heart considers [Deuteronomy 6:5; Proverbs 2:2, 10], the tongue articulates, the mouth finishes [Proverbs 37:30], the esophagus brings in all kinds of food, the windpipe gives sound, the lungs absorb all kinds of fluids, the liver causes anger, the gallbladder secretes a drop into it and calms it, the spleen laughs, the gizzard grinds, the stomach [causes] sleep, the nose [causes] wakefulness” (BT Berakhot 61a).

“Ten things serve הַנֶּפֶשׁ (ha-nefesh), the person: The esophagus for food, the windpipe for sound, the liver for anger, the lungs for drink, the gizzard to grind, the spleen for laughter, the stomach for sleep, the gallbladder for jealousy, the kidneys for thoughts, while the heart [the seat of intelligence] finishes. Now ha-nefesh, the life-breath, is above them all. The blessed Holy One says, ‘I made you to be above them all but you go out and rob, do violence, and offend!” (Vayiqra Rabbah 4:4).  

“Twelve simple [letters]: הו זח טי לנ סע צק (he vav zayin ḥet tet yod, lamed nun samekh ‘ayin tsadi qof). He engraved them, He transposed them, He hewed them, He weighed them and permuted [or: exchanged] them, and fashioned with them the constellations, the months, and the conductors: two revelers, two babblers, two that are fearsome [alt., two advisors] and two that are gleeful. They are the internal organs, and the two hands and feet. He made them a sort of rivalry, arranging them in battle [array], One opposite the other God made them (Ecclesiastes 7:14)….

1 Three hate and these are they: the tongue, the liver, and the gal.

2 Three love: the heart, the ears, and the eyes.

3 Three give life: the two nostrils and the liver of the left side.

4 Three kill: the two lower orifices and the mouth.

5 Three are in man’s control: the feet, the hands, and the mouth.

6 Three are not in man’s control: his two eyes, his ears, and his nostrils [on the voluntary and involuntary organs, see Bereshit Rabbah 67:3].

7 Three are bad tidings for the ear: cursing, blasphemy, and an evil rumor [or: bad news, see Jeremiah 49:23; Psalms 112:7].

8 Three are good tidings for the ear: blessing, a good report [or: good news, see Proverbs 25:25], and praise.

9 Three sights are bad for the eye: adultery, an evil eye, and a deceptive look.

10 Three sights are good for the eye: modesty, a good eye, and a trustworthy look.

11 Three are bad for the tongue: He who speaks in the presence of the slanderer, he who speaks one thing with the mouth but another with the heart, and he who speaks more than enough.

12 Three are good for the tongue: silence, holding the tongue, and speaking truth [cf. Sefer Yetsirah §5; M Avot 1:17]” (Sefer Yetsirah §§48a [MS A], 63).

“When the human was created, what is written? You clothed me in skin and flesh (Job 10:11). What then is the human if not skin and flesh, and bones and sinews? But surely the human being is nothing but soul! And these that we have mentioned—skin, flesh, bones, and sinews are all merely a garment; they are a person’s clothing not the human. And when a person departs, he is stripped of those garments that he is wearing” (Zohar 2:75b–76a).

No Voice Without Speech, No Speech Without Voice

“Voice, breath, word—רוּחַ קוֹדֶשׁ (ruaḥ ha-qodesh), Holy Breath [or: Holy Spirit]” (Sefer Yetsirah §10, cf. Psalms 51:13; Isaiah 63:10–11).

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘It is written: I was dumb with silence, stilled, bereft of goodness, my pain aroused (Psalms 39:3). This verse was spoken by Assembly of Israel, who is in exile. Why? Because voice conducts speech. When She is in exile, voice separates from Her, no word is heard, and so: I was dumb with silence. Why? Because I was stilled, bereft of goodness—for voice no longer accompanies Her, and Israel declares: To You, דֻמִיָּה (dumiyah), silence, is praise (ibid. 65:2). Who is silence? Praise, praise of David (Psalms 145:1), who turns silent in exile, voiceless. Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘What does to you mean? Because of You, She is silent, for You abandoned Her” (Zohar 1:36b).

“This is because [Assembly of Israel] sinned in the matter of יָהּ (Yah), God, and God left the body [יָהּ (Yah), as it were, removed Himself from אֱלֹהִים (Elohim)], and [Assembly of Israel] remained אִלֵם (ilem), mute, without sight, hearing, smell, or speech [which are יהוה (YHWH)]. And the mystery of the matter is to be found in: נֶאֱלַמְתִּי דוּמִיָּה (ne’elamtti dumiyah)I was dumb with silence (Psalms 39:3). דוּמִיָּה (Dumiyyah), silence—דּוֹם (dom), silent, יָהּ (Yah), God [cf. Psalms 37:7; BT Gittin 56b]” (Zohar 3:221a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Expanding from the site of concealed thought, unknown, expanding and settling in the larynx, a site continuously gushing in the mystery of the spirit of life. It sought to expand and reveal itself further; thence issued fire, air, and water, merging as one. Jacob emerged, Consummate Man, a single voice issuing audibly. Hence, thought, having been concealed in silence, was heard revealing itself. Thought expanded further revealing itself, and this voice struck against lips. Then speech issued, consummating all, revealing all. It is perceived that all is concealed thought, having been within, and all is one. Once this expansion ripened, generating speech through the potency of that voice, then The House, in its being built (1 Kings 6:7). The verse does not read when it was built, but rather in its being built, every single time” (Zohar 1:74b).

“There is no voice without speech, and there is no speech without voicesurely, general needing particular and particular needing general.…

Come and see: Thought is beginning of all, and being thought, it is within, concealed and unknowable. As this Thought expands further, it approaches the place where spirit dwells, and when it reaches that place it is called Binah, Understanding, for it is not as concealed as at first, although it is concealed…. This voice conducts speech, conveying a word resignedly; for voice is released from the place of spirit and proceeds to conduct a word, issuing true words” (Zohar 1:246a).

Contemplation, is חָכְמָה (Ḥokhmah), Wisdom—a hint to the wise [inspiration is prior to conceptualizing the thought (Sullam), cf. Midrash on Proverbs 22:15: ‘A hint is sufficient for a wise man but a fool needs the fist’]. Ḥokhmah (Wisdom) arose in thought, which is Binah, since thought and contemplation are one, for Ḥokhmah (Wisdom) is known only through Binah (Understanding), and Binah is in the heart [the seat of understanding]. Thus thought is in the heart and contemplation is in the heart [cf. BT Berakhot 61a]” (Zohar 3:229a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

Happy the People that Know the Shofar’s Blast

holocaust_shofarHappy the people who know the תְרוּעָה (teru’ah), blast. O YHWH, they walk in the light of Your presence (Psalms 89:16). Happy the people who know—and it is not written who hear. Who know the blast: by virtue of the wise, who know through the air of the Holy Land [cf. BT Bava Batra 158b], they know teru’ahthe blast—mystery of teru’ah, as is written: תְּרֹעֵם (Tero’em), You will smash them, with a rod of iron (Psalms 2:9). What nation is like Israel, who know supernal mysteries of their Lord—to come before Him and draw near to Him? All those who know the mystery of teru’ah may draw near, to walk in the light of the countenance of the blessed Holy One. This is the primordial light that the blessed Holy One has treasured away for the righteous. So one should know it” (Zohar 3:231b, cf. ibid. 3:100b).

“But now there is need of a doctor to know by how many degrees the pulse of the patient, Israel, has increased in the exile of Edom, for it is said of him, I am in a fever of love (Song of Songs 5:8). For a number of doctors gathered over him to consider the pulse in order to know when his illness would come to an end, but not one of them could understand them, for no doctor is competent to read the pulse of this particular patient, for there are beats of Teqiah Shevarim Teru’ah Teqiah, Teqiah Shevarim Teqiah, Teqiah Teru’ah Teqiah, as the prophet said of them, Like a woman with child, that draws near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and cries out in her pangs (Isaiah 26:17).

And all the ten shofar blasts are included in three תְּקִיעָה שְׁבָרִים תְּרוּעָה (Teqi’ah Shevarim Teru’ah). תְּקִיעָה (Teqiah), Blast—the length of exile. שְׁבָרִים (Shevarim), Moaning—the proximity of exile. תְּרוּעָה (Teru’ah), Wailing Alarm—the coming redemption; teaching of the duress after duress with no respite between them [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 33b–34a]. And clearly, since the other nations make Israel’s exile more difficult, it is the duress that they exert which brings the redemption closer. And so too the patient’s pulse: beats come faster, one after the other, with no space between them, and the man’s soul-breath leaves him.

קשר״ק קש״ק קר״ק (Teqi’ah Shevarim Teru’ah, Teqi’ah Teqi’ah Shevarim, Teqi’ah Teqi’ah Teru’ah, Teqi’ah) [mystery of the heart’s beating]—קֶשֶׁר (qesher), conspiracy, by which שֶׁקֶר (sheqer), falsehood, is removed from the world [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 16b]. Concerning this was the oath: מִלְחָמָה לַיהוָה בַּעֲמָלֵק (milḥamah la-Adonai ba-Amaleq), War for YHWH against Amalek for all time [the intial letters of which are numerically equivalent to ע״ב (seventy-two), cf. TZ 67a; TZḤ 115a] (Exodus 17:16). A simple, double, triple and quadruple song will arise in the world, where the letters [יהוה (YHWH)] will ascend: י יה יהו יהוה (Y YH YHW YHWH) [numerically equivalent to seventy-two, cf. Ibn Ezra on Genesis 4:19]. At that time [the prayer] will be answered: ‘וּבְכֵן (U-vekhen), and therefore, the righteous shall see and be glad, the upright exult and the pious rejoice in song’ (Amidah for the Days of Awe). This additional ו״ (six) [of ‘וּבְכֵן (U-vekhen)’ alludes to]the Sixth Millennium. The Second Temple was destroyed קע״ב (one hundred and seventy-two) years before [the Sixth Millennium]. And following the completion of רע״ב (two hundred and seventy-two), as in the verse, At עֶרֶב (erev), evening, you shall know that it was YHWH who brought you out [of the land of Egypt] (Exodus 16.6). Also, For your servant became עָרַב (arev), pledge, for the lad (Genesis 44:32) [you should know that all these dates mentioned in the Zohar refer to an arousal from above, which occur at these times for redemption, however, certainly it depends on the people’s actions and repentance (Sullam)]” (Zohar 3:218a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“The Faithful Shepherd said: Certainly, since the limbs and the arteries of the לֵב (lev), heart, which are likened to Israel, are in trouble, they have to awaken in the trachea pipe, the windpipe connected to the lung, mystery of the shofar. Since the lobes of the lung are unable to quiet the anger of the gall, which overcomes the arteries of the heart and all the arteries in the limbs of the body, that breath that blows in them, rises in the trachea, the shofar, namely the World that is Coming. And so it has been taught: The esophagus is like this world, [which has] eating and drinking in it. The trachea is likened to the World that is Coming, for [in it] there is no eating nor drinking [see BT Berakhot 17a]” (Zohar 3:231b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).