The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: levirate marriage

His Sister in Law Shall Slip His Sandal from His Foot and Spit in His Face

urlShould brothers dwell together and one of them die and have no son…her brother-in-law shall come to bed with her and take her to him as wife (Deuteronomy 25:5). This decree is to marry one’s brother’s widow, since a brother’s widow is the ד (dalet) in אֶחָד (eḥad), one, and together with אָח (aḥ), brother, of [the word] אֶחָד (eḥad) it is one. And if, perish the thought, he does not with a [whole] heart wish to bring his אָח (aḥ), brother, to ד (dalet), being the wife and mate of his [deceased] brother [but focuses on his own pleasure] he creates a separation and brings Samael, another god, in between. It says of him, he would waste his seed on the ground (Genesis 38:9). [Consequently] the tip vanishes from the letter ד (dalet), of אֶחָד (eḥad) [becoming] ר (resh); [thus] אֶחָד (eḥad), one, [becomes] אַחֵר (aḥer), other [cf. BT Sotah 20a]. This is why when he would come to bed with his brother’s wife he would waste his seed on the ground so to give no seed to his brother (ibid.). Spilling seed in vain withholds many blessings from one, and [causes] separation. This is why, Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the eyes of YHWH, and YHWH put him to death (ibid., 7).

Uniting the אָח (aḥ), brother, with ד (dalet) is done by means of the righteous, like בֹּעַז (Boaz), Boaz, who over came his impulse—בּוֹ עוֹז (bo oz), strength in him, namely, he has a strong impulse…. And thus it was in former times in Israel concerning redemption and concerning exchange to fulfill every condition: a man would remove his sandal and give it to his fellow man (Ruth 4:7).

This alludes to changing the Name, which here is מצפץ (MTsPTs) [a permutation of the Name יהוה (YHWH) according to the method of atbash]. אֶהְיֶה (Eheyeh), I-Will-Be [Who-I-Will-Be] (Exodus 3:14)—’אַיֵּה (Ayyeh), where, is the place of His glory to adore Him?’ (Keter Yitenu Lekha) [a piyut (liturgical hymn) used for Qedushah le-Musaf on Sabbaths and Festivals according to Sephardic custom. Cf. Rabbi Leone Modena, MS A 36a, 21–22]. יהו (YHW) is אֶהְיֶה (eheyeh), I will be—a change of place. אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) is א (alef), and אֶהְיֶה (eheyeh)—a change in deed; י (yod) is יֱהֹוִה (YHWH), and both change with אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) [on a change of name etc., see BT Rosh ha-Shanah 16b: ‘Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Four things tear up a person’s verdict: charity, crying out, a change of name, and change of deeds… and some say a change of place’].

וְזֹאת (Ve-zot), And this, was הַתְּעוּדָה (ha-te’udah), the practice, in Israel (Ruth 4:7) [one of the many appellations of Shekhinah is זֶה (zeh), ‘this’ (feminine pronoun), or זֹאת (zot), ‘this’ (masculine pronoun), perhaps because as the Divine Presence She is constantly right here, see Zohar 1:49b; 2:11b–12a; 3:8b]. הַתְּעוּדָה (Ha-te’udah), the testimony, is supernal Mother: Bind up the תְּעוּדָה (te’udah), testimony, seal Torah among My disciples (Isaiah 8:16) [צוֹר (Tsor), bind, is Binah, and since it is written bind up the testimony we derive from this that תְּעוּדָה (te’udah), testimony, is Binah (Sullam), cf. Zohar 1:4b; 3:35a], which is the חוֹתָם (ḥotam), seal, of the world, namely the seal of the Heavens and Earth [Ze’eir Anpin and Malkhut]. תְּמוּרָה (Temurah), exchanging [alluding to letter permutation]—lower Shekhinah [associated with speech and language, since שְׁכִינָה (Shekhinah) and שָׂפָה (safah), language (lit., lip), are numerically equivalent. Cf. Zohar 1:36b, 74b, 246a; 3:221a, 228a (both RM)]. Where did She hide? In her עוּלֵימָא (uleima), lad, Metatron, and יִשְׁנֶה (yishnah), he changed Her [cf. Zohar 3:277b (RM): ‘The נַעַר (na’ar), lad, youth, is called נַעֲרָה (na’arah), young woman’; Zohar 1:232a: ‘This angel is sometimes male and sometimes female. When providing blessings, it is male and called Male—like a male providing blessings for a female, so He provides blessings for the world. And when it stands in judgment over the world, it is called Female—like a female who is pregnant, so She is filled with judgment and is then called Female… all one mystery…. Correspondingly, it is written: flame of the whirling sword (Genesis 3:24)’]. There She is מְשַׁנָּה (mishnah), Mishnah. And of man, of whom it says, According to the תִפְאֶרֶת אָדָם (tif’eret adam), beauty of a man; that he may remain in the house (Isaiah 44:13)—You change his face and send him away (Job 14:20).

This is why the Masters of Mishnah have explained that ‘The way I am spelled is not the way I am pronounced in this world’; spelled יֱהֹוִה (YHWH), but pronounced אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) [see BT Qiddushin 71a: ‘Rabbi Avina raised a contradiction: It is written: That is My name; but it is also written: and thus am I invoked?—the blessed Holy One said: I am not called as I am written: I am written with יוֹד הֵא (yod, he), but I am read, אָלְף דָּלֶת (alef, dalet)’]. Yet it is written, I am YHWH, I do not change (Malachi 3:6)! He is not changed in spelling but is changed in pronunciation since writing [indicates] He does not change in His place, but in reading [which is the rung of Malkhut, called דִבּוּר (dibbur), Speech (Sullam)], when He is outside His place, He does change. Watch yourself with him and heed his voice, do not defy him… for My name is within him (Exodus 23:21)—since the female slave’s name is Adonai, her name is like the name מַטְרוֹנִיתָא (Matronita) [i.e., מְטַטְרוֹן (Metatron)]. And the blessed Holy One is changed in him, because he is a youth. In him is the mystery of, he’d return to the days of his youth (Job 33:25).

But the Shekhinah, when with the blessed Holy One does not change, nor does the blessed Holy One change when with Her. This is the meaning of, I am YHWH, I do not change. IShekhinah; יהוה (YHWH)—the middle pillar; [And thus it was in former times in Israel concerning redemption and concerning exchange to fulfill every condition:] a man would remove נַעֲלוֹ (na’alo), his shoe [and give it to his fellow man. And this was the practice in Israel. And the redeemer said, ‘You—acquire it,’ and he removed his shoe] (Ruth 4:7)—סַנְדַּלְפוֹן (Sandalfon), who is a סַנְדָּל (sandal), sandal, for the blessed Holy One and a נַעַל (na’al), shoe, for the Shekhinah [on performing ḥalitsah with a shoe or sandal, see BT Yevamot 102a]. But Tif’eret, who includes six sefirot, is a body for the Name יְהֹוָה (YHWH), and Malkhut is a body for the Shekhinah that is אֲדֹנָי (Adonai).

[And the elders of his town shall call to and speak to him, and if he stands and says, ‘I do not want to wed her,’] his sister in law shall approach before the eyes of the elders and slip his sandal from his foot and spit in his face and speak out and say, So shall be done to the man who will not build his brothers house (Deuteronomy 25:89). It is a decree to perform חֲלִיצָה (ḥalitsah), Loosening, of the spirit from that body to which [the dead man’s soul] must join as a brother; he releases him from the brother’s bond [and the widow requires him no longer].

That spirit goes away and wanders until it is redeemed. This is what is meant by: Or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him or any of his own close kin from his clan may redeem him (Leviticus 25:49). However, if his hand [does not] attain the means [to be] redeemed (ibid.), he is like a guest going from place to place or like a slave walking with a chain around his neck until he achieves redemption from his Master from his iniquities. Woe to him who did not leave a son who will redeem him.

Elijah and heads of the Academy: It is indicated here that a prisoner cannot release himself from prison. For He  is tied by the knot of the hand tefillin and bound by the head tefillin, when He has no son who will redeem him, from the aspect of בֶּן יָהּ (ben Yah), Son of God. With that knot the blessed Holy One, is a tied and bound אָח (aḥ), brother, who has no permission to redeem himself, he is ד (dalet), which is עַצְמוֹ (atsmo), itself, the אָח (aḥ), brother, called עֶצֶם מֵעֲצָמַי (etsem me-atsamai), bone of my bones (Genesis 2:23), in the skull where the head tefillin is put, and called it flesh of my flesh (ibid.), from the side of the heart” (Zohar 3:281a, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse, cf. ZḤ 38d).

“And there is a further secret, he will later come back in a גִלְגּוּלָא, (gilggula), [life] cycle, and be renewed as formerly, as is written: [And should a priest’s daughter] become a widow or divorced (Leviticus 22:13), as [his soul] being driven out of the Garden of Eden. Hence she is called גְרוּשָׁה (gerushah), divorcee, as in: וַיְגָרֶשׁ (va-yegaresh), and he drove out, the human (Genesis 3:24). And what is the reason for this? It is because she [the soul] having no seed [has] come back to her father’s house as in her youth (ibid.), that is, returns to this world, to the son of the Levirate Marriage…. And after she has been privileged to have offspring, of her father’s bread she may eat, but no outsider shall eat of it (ibid.). [This is what is written:] the wife of the dead man shall not become wife outside to a stranger (Deuteronomy 25:5)” (Zohar 3:244b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Rabbi Shesheth stated in the name of Rabbi El’azar who stated it in the name of Rabbi El’azar son of Azariyah: From where is it proved that a sister-in-law, who falls to the lot of one afflicted with boils, is not muzzled? You shall not muzzle an ox when it threshes (Deuteronomy 25:4)” (BT Yevamot 4a).

Look, All this God Performs Twice or Thrice with a Man

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For I am YHWH, your God, Israel’s Holy One, your Rescuer. I have made Egypt your ransom, Nubia and Saba in your stead. As you are precious in My eyes, you are honored, and I love you. And I put people in your stead and nations instead of your life (Isaiah 43:3–4).

אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) will ransom my life, from the grip of Sheol He will take me. selah (Psalms 49:16).

Every womb-breach for all flesh… and the firstborn of unclean beasts you shall redeem (Numbers 18:15). This decree is to redeem the firstborn of a donkey, to redeem for the world that is coming. If prior to going to that world he does not redeem his nafsha and ruḥa and nishmeta, with Torah, he is destined to return to this world as before: he’d return to the days of his youth (Job 33:25), and receive nafsha and ruḥa and nishmeta [on a person’s donkey-like behavior, see BT Pesaḥim 49b in the name of Rabbi Akiva, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 30a–31a].

It is written: Look, all this God performs twice or thrice with a man [to bring back his being from the Pit, to glow in the light of life] (Job 33:29)—Israel. Because ransom was taken without [merit accrued from] Torah, which is hidden silver [Ḥesed] of the World that is Coming [Binah], they returned to exile three times. [However, since they are destined to be] released [from the prison of exile] through Torah they will never return to exile for ever [cf. Tiqqunie ha-Zohar 22b]. The Rabbis came and gave him their blessings, saying, ‘Faithful Shepherd, the blessed Holy One will redeem you, and He will redeem all of Israel through your hand, and you will be renewed with them and they with you….

[Shekhinah’s] ransom is dependent on the blessed Holy One which Israel accrue to Her by the knot of the tefillin, with the sign of the Sabbath, with the marking of the festival days, with the mark of circumcision, with Torah, and with many פִּקוּדִין (piqudin), decrees [alluding to פִּיקָדוֹנוֹת (piqadonot), deposits, installments]. Since Her ransom is dependent on the blessed Holy One this is what it says, but I acted for My Name’s sake [that She should not be polluted before the nations, among whom they were, in whose sight I made Myself known to them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt] (Ezekiel 20:9), and for Her: Yet even זֹאת (zot), this, [too—when they are in the land of their enemies I will not reject them…] (Leviticus 26:44) [on Shekhinah as zot, see Zohar 1:49b, 72a, 93b, 176b, 200b, 228a; 2:12a, 37b, 39b, 50b–51a, 54b, 57a, 126b; 3:31a, 41a, 179b]. In this manner, people perform many decrees in order to receive reward. Each decree has a [certain] value in that world. However, the punishment for someone who transgresses them has no value [itself]” (Zohar 3:178a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Qoraḥ).

“יְהוּ (Yod, he, vav)Look, all this God performs twice or thrice with a man (Job 33:29). Regarding the wicked, it is said: And so I have seen the wicked brought to the grave, and from a holy place they went forth (Ecclesiastes 8:10). Causing These are your gods, O Israel (Exodus 32:4), and of them is said: Thus says YHWH; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away his punishment (Amos 2:6). After they have corrupted themselves three times and they have not merited יהו (yod, he, vav), of which is said: The place where the tree falls, יְהוּא (yehu), there it will lie (Ecclesiastes 11:3). And for four, I will not turn away his punishment—he will be judged in Hell by destruction, anger, and wrath.

And the garments of these three letters [יהו (yod, he, vav)] are known from the rainbow, namely white, red, and green. One in his first time is white [Ḥesed]; in the second he is red [Gevurah]; and in the third he is green [Tif’eret]. And since these letters are included in Jacob, and the tree takes root, grows, and gives good fruits: Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale (Isaiah 29:22). So that his chariot should not journey with the evil impulse, which is the serpent, nor with any other type of evil beasts. For this reason: And he strove with an angel, and prevailed (Hosea 12:5), and because man is called אִילָנָא (ilana), Tree, he is, in this mystery, a tree planted in a place where he does not bear fruit [cf. Psalms 1:3]. What can he do about it? He removes him and replants him elsewhere. This is why the Masters of Mishnah taught that one is not considered barren until he be replanted in the land of Israel and tries to make a woman conceive there [see BT Yevamot 65b–66a].

So also, a righteous man who wanders from place to place, from house to house, is like one who goes through many [life] cycles. That is what is meant by And doing kindness to the thousandth generation for those who love Me, and for those who keep My commands (Exodus 20:6), until he achieves perfection in the world that is coming. But the guilty are not allowed more than three times. If he repents, however, we have learnt that ‘Exile atones for transgression’ (BT Sanhedrin 37b). This is why the Masters of Mishnah taught: ‘The righteous do not return to their dust’ (BT Sanhedrin 92a).

But [concerning the wicked] it says: And different earth shall be taken and the house plastered (Leviticus 14:42); Man to the dust would return (Job 34:15); And dust returns to the earth as it was [and the life-breath returns to God who gave it] (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Since he who is afflicted has but a bad wifethe evil impulse—of which we have learned, ‘A bad woman is like skin blanch to her husband’ (BT Yevamot 63b). What remedy does he have? ‘Let him divorce her and be healed’ (ibid.). For she was the cause of: וַיְגָרֶשׁ אֶת הָאָדָם (va-yigaresh et ha-adam), And He drove out the man (Genesis 3:24). הָאָדָם (Ha-adam), the mannishmeta. אֶת (Et)mate of the man: Like a bird wandering from its nest is a man wandering from his place (Proverbs 27:8) [the souls of women do not generally undergo new life-cycles, as is written, Look, all this God performs twice or thrice with a גָּבֶר (gaver), man (Job 33:29)—one who fails to become a אִישׁ (ish), husband, to a wife and father to children. Cf. Zohar 2:106a–109a (SdM)].

And that is why: Even the bird has found a home (Psalms 84:4)—the deceased brother’s wife. And the swallow a nest for herself (ibid.)—the redeemer [who marries the deceased brother’s widow and finds himself a nest in her]. Where she puts her fledglings (ibid.)—[they beget] a son and a daughter. Happy is he who makes a nest, And redeem what his brother sold (Leviticus 25:25)—[for she] is considered as though sold to him, for she is not his” (Zohar 3:216a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).