The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: listen

Listen to Your Soul

76549074“Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai: Every mitsvah which the blessed Holy One gave to Israel, He gave to them publicly, except the Sabbath which He bestowed upon them in secret, for it is said: ‘Between Me and the Israelites it is a sign for all time’ [the word לְעֹלָם (le-olam), for all time, is written defectively as if derived from, לְעֱלָם (le-elam), to conceal] (Exodus 31:17). If so, idolaters should not be punished on its account [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 2b]!—the Sabbath He indeed made known to them but its reward He did not make known to them. Or you can say: Its reward too He made known to them, נְשָׁמָה יְתֵירָה (neshamah yeteirah), luxuriant life-breath, He did not make known to them. For Rabbi Shim’on son of Laqish said: On the eve of the Sabbath the blessed Holy One gives to man abundance of soul and at the close of the Sabbath He withdraws it from him, for it says: He ceased וַיִּנָּפַשׁ (va-yinnafash), and caught His breath (Exodus 31:17)—once [the Sabbath] has ceased, וַוי אֲבֵדָה נֶפֶשׁ (wawi avedah nefesh), woe for that loss of life-breath! [וַיִּנָּפַשׁ (va-yinnafash), and caught His breath, is numerically equivalent to מָוֶת (mavet), death (Rabbi Levi Isaac Krakovsky)]” (BT Beitsah 16a, cf. BT Ta’anit 27a).

His disciples asked: What is חֹלֶם (ḥolem)? He said: נְשָׁמָה (Neshama), soul—if תִּשְׁמַע (tishema), you heed, her, your body will be תַּחְלִים (taḥlim), revived, in the time to come. And should you rebel against her? [Your requital] shall come back—חוֹלִים (ḥolim), diseases—on your head (Obadiah 1:15), and חֶלְיָה (ḥelyah), jewelry [or: illness], on her head” (Bahir §40).

“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 2:76a).

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).

Hear O Israel!

And you shall love YHWH your God (Deuteronomy 6:5). It has been taught: Rabbi Eli’ezer says: If it says with all your being, why should it also say, with all your might? And if it says with all your might, why should it also say with all your being? Should there be a man who values his life more than his money, for him it says; with all your being; and should there be a man who values his money more than his life, for him it says, with all your might. Rabbi Akiva says: With all your being—even if He plucks your being.

Our Rabbis taught: Once the wicked Government issued a decree forbidding the Jews to study and practice Torah. Pappus ben Judah came and found Rabbi Akiva publicly bringing gatherings together and occupying himself with Torah. He said to him: Akiva, are you not afraid of the Government? He replied: I will explain to you with a parable. A fox was once walking alongside of a river, and he saw fishes going in swarms from one place to another. He said to them: From what are you fleeing? They replied: From the nets cast for us by men. He said to them: Would you like to come up on to the dry land so that you and I can live together in the way that my ancestors lived with your ancestors? They replied: Are you the one that they call the cleverest of animals? You are not clever but foolish. If we are afraid in the element in which we live, how much more in the element in which we would die! So it is with us. If such is our condition when we sit and study Torah, of which it is written, your life and your length of days (Deuteronomy 30:20), if we go and neglect it how much worse off we shall be!

It is related that soon afterwards Rabbi Akiva was arrested and thrown into prison, and Pappus son of Yehudah was also arrested and imprisoned next to him. He said to him: Pappus, who brought you here? He replied: Happy are you, Rabbi Akiva, that you have been seized for busying yourself Torah! Alas for Pappus who has been seized for busying himself with idle things! When Rabbi Akiva was taken out for execution, it was the hour for the recital of שֵׁמַע (Shema), and while they combed his flesh with iron combs, he was accepting upon himself the kingship of heaven. His disciples said to him: Our teacher, even to this point? He said to them: All my days I have been troubled by this verse, with all your being, [which I interpret,] ‘even if He plucks your being.’ I said: When shall it come to my hands? Now that I have the opportunity shall I not fulfill it?

He prolonged the word אֶחָד (eḥad), one, until he expired while saying it. An echo went forth and proclaimed: Happy are you, Akiva, that your being has departed with the word eḥad, one! The ministering angels said before the blessed Holy One: Such Torah, and such a reward? [He should have been] by Your hand, from men, from those fleeting of portion in life (Psalms 17:14). He replied to them: Their portion is in life. An echo went forth and proclaimed, Happy are you, Akiva, that you are destined for the life of the World that is Coming!” (BT Berakhot 61b).

“Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav, When Moses ascended on high he found the blessed Holy One engaged in binding כֶּתֶרִים (keterim), crownlets, to the letters. Moses said, ‘Master of the Universe, Who stays Your hand’ [i.e., is there anything wanting in the Torah that these additions are necessary]? He answered, ‘There will arise a man, at the end of many generations, Akiva son of Yosef by name, who will expound upon each tittle mounds and mounds of halakhot.’ He said, ‘Master of the Universe, permit me to see him.’ He replied, ‘Turn around.’ Moses went and sat down behind eight rows [of Rabbi Akiva’s disciples and listened to the discourses upon the halakhah] yet he did not know what they were saying, and his power began to dwindle. But when they came to a certain subject and his disciples said, ‘Rabbi where do you derive [this from]?’ And he replied, ‘This is halakhah [given] to Moses at Sinai,’ and this put his mind at ease. [Moses] returned to the blessed Holy One and said, ‘Master of the Universe, You have such a man yet You give Torah by me!’ He replied, ‘Silence! Thus it arose in thought.’ Then Moses said, ‘Master of the Universe, You have shown me his Torah, show me his reward.’ ‘Turn around,’ He said; and Moses turned round and saw them weighing out his flesh at the market-stalls. ‘Master of the Universe, such Torah, and such a reward!’ He replied, ‘Silence! Thus it arose in thought’” (BT Menaḥot 29b).

“The third commandment: to realize that God exists—vast and controlling the world—and to unify Him fittingly each day in those six supernal directions, unifying them through the six words of שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל (Shema Yisra’el), Hear, O Israel! (Deuteronomy 6:4), directing one’s desire above along with them.

So one should prolong אֶחָד (eḥad), one, to the length of six words, as is written: Let the waters under heaven be gathered to one place (Genesis 1:9)—let the rungs beneath heaven be gathered together to unite with it, to be fittingly complete in six directions. Yet, with that unity one should bind awe, prolonging the ד (dalet) of אֶחָד (eḥad), one, since the dalet of eḥad, one, is large, as is written: Let the dry land appear (ibid.)—let dalet, who is dry land, appear and be bound in that union. After She is bound there above, one should bind Her below with Her forces, in six other directions below: בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד (Barukh shem kevod Malkhuto le-olam va-ed), Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom forever and ever, comprising six other words of unification. Then, what was dry land is transformed into earth, generating fruit, verdure, planting trees. This corresponds to what is written: God called the dry land Earth (ibid. 10)—through that unification below, אַרְעָא (ar’a), Earth, fittingly consummates רַעֲוָא (ra’ava) desire. So, it was good, it was good (ibid. 1:10, 12), twice: one for the unification above, one for the unification below. Once it was unified in both aspects, from then on: Let the earth sprout vegetation (ibid., 11)—arrayed to generate fruit and verdure fittingly” (Zohar 1:12a).

“Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai opened, saying, ‘שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד (Shema Yisra’el Adonai Eloheinu Adonai eḥad), Hear, O Israel! YHWH our God, YHWH is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). A large ע (ayin) and similarly ד (dalet); the mnemonic is עֵד (ed), witness, corresponding to what is written: YHWH is edwitness, against you (1 Samuel 12:5). The letters ש מ (shinmem) remain, with an open מ (mem). Why? Closed ם (mem) is upper King; open mem is lower King. Other letters remain: א ח (alefḥet); God’s honor is to conceal a matter (Proverbs 25:2).

Rav Hamnuna Sava said: Whoever performs this unification every day encounters joy from above, through the mystery of these letters: shinmem from this side, alefḥet from that side. He permutes the letters, beginning in reverse and ending forward; your mnemonic is אֶשְׂמַח (esmaḥ), as is written, As for me, esmaḥ, I will rejoice, in YHWH (Psalms 104:34)—in YHWH, precisely! This is the holy unification, and it is fine. So, too, in the Book of Enoch, which says similarly that whoever performs the unification every day encounters joy from above.

Furthermore, it includes: Shinmem, comprising a large ayin—ע״ (seventy) names of mystery of the holy Patriarchs. יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה (Yisra’el Adonai Eloheinu Adonai), O Israel! YHWH our God, YHWH—four compartments of tefillin, held by א ח (alefḥet), the one who said, Open to me, אֲחֹתִי (aḥoti), my sister, my love (Song of Songs 5:2). Dalet is the knot of tefillin, who is connected to them. A mystery for the wise, not to be revealed.

Rabbi Shim’on fell silent. He wept—and laughed. He said, ‘I shall speak, for favor is found—and there will be no generation such as this until King Messiah comes, when they will be permitted to reveal” (Zohar 3:236b).

Come and Listen, Come and See

“Our Rabbis taught: שְׁמַע (shema), Hear, O Israel! YHWH our God, YHWH is One (Deuteronomy 6:4): this was Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi’s recitation of Shema. Rav said once to Rabbi Ḥiyya: I do not see Rabbi accept upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven. In the moment when he passes his hand over his eyes, he accepts upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of heaven” (BT Berakhot 13b).

שְׂאוּ מָרוֹם עֵינֵיכֶם (Se’u marom eineikhem), lift up your eyes on high, and see, who created these? (Isaiah 40:26).

Unveil my eyes that I may look upon the wonders of Your teaching (Psalms 119:18).

“Rabbi Abba said, ‘It is written: All the people were seeing הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), the thunderings (Exodus 20:15). Were seeing—the verse should read were hearing. However, we have learned as follows: Those הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), 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)” (Zohar 2:81a–b).

“Light Not Existing in Light, engraves, and the Spark of All Sparks bursts forth, striking within the Will of Wills, secreted within it, unknown. When this Will desires to ramify, this Spark—concealed within Will, befitting and not befitting to exist as color—shoots out. When this Will ramifies, this Spark—splaying color and no color—strikes, entering into that extension, splaying forth in its colors. It ascends, becoming actualized through its ascent within Will and its emanation. Will strikes its extension in concealment, unknown—emitting gossamer lights, coalescing as one. When they seek to emerge, that Spark, imbued with colors, strikes the extension and it becomes constricted. On account of the pressure, those diaphanous lights emerge, audible as one” (Zohar Ḥadash 57a).