The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: night

The Spirit within Me Seeks You at Dawn

1487086622788-SnoringWhileSingle.jpeg“Rabbi Shim’on was walking on the way together with his son Rabbi El’azar, Rabbi Abba, and Rabbi Yehudah. As they were walking, Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘I am amazed how people of the world do not care to know the words of Torah and the foundation of their existence!

He opened, saying, ‘My soul desires You in the night, the spirit within me seeks You at dawn’ (Isaiah 26:9). They have established this verse and so have we, but come and see: When a person climbs into bed, his soul leaves him and ascends on high. Now, if you say that they all ascend, not everyone sees the face of the King. Rather, the soul departs, and in the body remains nothing but a trace of a pint of the heart’s vitality. The soul proceeds, seeking to ascend, countless rungs upon rungs to climb. Flying, she encounters those hooded, hunchbacked, dazzling demons of defilement. If she is pure, not having been defiled during the day, she ascends; if not, she is defiled among them, clings to them, ascends no higher. There they divulge information to her, and she grasps what is imminent [since demons possess limited foreknowledge. See Naḥmanides on Leviticus 17:7; Zohar 1:130a, 200a; 2:251b (Heikh)]. Sometimes they toy with her, disseminating deceptions [see BT Berakhot 55b; Zohar 1:183a]. She drifts this way all night long until the person awakes and she returns to her place. Woe to those sinners of the world who defile themselves and their souls!

Come and see: When those who have not defiled themselves climb into bed, the soul ascends, first entering all those rungs, ascending, not climbing to them. Then she moves on, soaring above on her own path. The soul worthy of ascending appears before the Countenance of Days, cleaving to the desire to appear in sublime longing, to gaze upon the loveliness of the King and contemplate in His palace [see Psalms 27:4]. Such a person shares constantly in the world that is coming. Such a soul yearns constantly for the blessed Holy One, yearns for Him while ascending; she does not cling to those other species of dazzling demons, but pursues the holy species—the realm from which she issued. So it is written: My soul desires You in the night, pursuing You, not being seduced by another, alien species” (Zohar 1:183a, cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 34; Midrash Tehillim 11:6; Zohar 1:83a, 92a, 121b, 130a, 200a; 3:121b).

A Prayer of the Lowly When He Joins in Her Sorrow

Tisha bAv

If the prayer is not whole many demons pursue it, as is written: All her persecutors overtook her in her distress (Lamentations 1:3). This is why people pray: Yet He is compassionate… (Psalms 78:38). [He atones for] Crime (ibid.)—Samael, who is the Serpent; and does not destroy (ibid.)—the Angel of Destruction; and abundantly takes back His wrath and does not arouse all His fury (ibid.). And we pray that these four [namely: crime, destruction, wrath, and fury] do not pursue the prayer, as many demons are attached to these. There are seven ministers, who have seventy more attached to them. Those seventy bring allegations in each and every firmament through which the prayer passes and seven-hundred myriad demons are attached to them.

If the prayer ascends whole, with the mitsvah of wrapping tallit and tefillin of the head and of the hand, it is said of them: And all the peoples of the earth will see that the name of YHWH is called over you and they will fear you (Deuteronomy 28:10). The name of YHWH—this has already been explained as tefillin of the head. Whoever sees the name יהוה (YHWH) over the head in prayer, which is the name אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), shall immediately flee, as is written: A thousand fall at Your side (Psalms 91:7).

Because Jacob saw through the Holy Spirit the oppression of the last exile, in the end of days, it is said of him, And Jacob was greatly afraid, and he was distressed (Genesis 32:8). As a result, he divided the holy nation in exile into three parts, as is written: And he placed the slavegirls and their children first (ibid. 33:2). This means at first in the exile of Edom: and Leah and her children after them, and Rachel and Joseph last (ibid.). Because he saw their eventual poverty and suffering, he prayed for them: if… I return safely to my father’s house (ibid. 28:21), so that they may have the merit to be redeemed and return to the Temple. He said in prayer: and give me bread to eat and clothing to wear (ibid.).

Because of this exile, David described Shekhinah as hungry and exhausted and thirsty in the wilderness (2 Samuel 17:29), because he saw Shekhinah desolate and withering and then joined in Her sorrow. After he saw that the children of Israel repented with joy, he composed ten types of psalms [cf. Zohar 3:283a (RM); TZ Haqdamah, 3a–b]. At the end of them all, he said: A prayer of the lowly when he grows faint (Psalms 102:10). This prayer encompasses all other prayers and ascends before all other prayers [see Vayiqra Rabbah 3:2; Zohar 3:195a]. The other prayers, sung with a melody, are delayed in being presented before the King, and do not enter, until the prayer of the poor does.

Which is the prayer of the lowly? It is the evening prayer. Since She is without Her husband She is lowly and faint and may be taken freely by anyone. The Righteous One is withered and lowly under the rule of all peoples of the world, every people enslaves them and rules over them. This is similar to the evening prayer, because it is the aspect of the night of exile.

The prayer of Sabbath is a charity given to the lowly as the Masters of Mishnah explained that the sun during Sabbath is charity given to the poor [see BT Ta’anit 8b: ‘Rabbi Yitsḥaq further said: Sunshine on the Sabbath is an act of kindness towards the poor, as is said, But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and you shall go forth, and grow up like calves of the stall (Malachi 4:2)’]. Therefore, on every weekday a person should make himself a pauper at the gate of the King during the prayer of Amidah for the sake of Shekhinah, that he participate in the sorrow of Shekhinah as did David. He should cover himself with the proper vestments, namely tallit with tassels, as a poor man stands at the gate to the palace of the King, Adonai, because אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) is numerically equivalent to that of הֵיכָל (heikhal), palace. This is why it is said [at the beginning of the Amidah prayer:] Adonai open my lips (Psalms 51:17).

When a person opens his lips during the weekdays at Arvit [the evening prayer], an eagle descends to carry the prayer of the night upon its wings. This eagle is called Nuriel. It is called Uriel from the aspect of Ḥesed and Nuriel from the aspect of Gevurah, which is a burning fire about which is written: A river of fire was flowing and went out before Him (Daniel 7:10) [cf. BT Ḥagigah 13b ad loc.].

During Shaḥarit (Morning Service), the lion descends to receive the prayer with its arms and wings—every living being has four wings—this is the angel Michael. During Minḥah (Afternoon Service), the ox descends to receive the prayer with its horns and wings, and this is the angel Gabriel.

On Sabbath, the blessed Holy One descends with the three Patriarchs [Ḥesed, Gevurah, and Tif’eret] to receive His only Daughter [Shekhinah] through them. This is the secret of the Sabbath which consists of ש (shin) and בַּת (bat), daughter. The three lines of ש (shin) refer to the three Patriarchs. Through them, the blessed Holy One receives the prayer of Sabbath. At that time, the celestial living beings that are called by the name יהוה (YHWH) say, as is written: Lift up your heads, O gates, and lift up, eternal portals, that the King of glory may enter (Psalms 24:9).

At this time, seven הֵיכָלִין (heikhalin), chambers, are opened. The first chamber is the chamber of Love, the second is the chamber of Fear, the third is the chamber of Compassion, the fourth is the chamber of Prophecy from the aspect of the speculum that shines, the fifth is the chamber of Prophecy from the aspect of the dim glass, the sixth is the chamber of Justice and the seventh is in the chamber of Judgment. These chambers correspond to the seven sefirot. The chamber of Love is Ḥesed, Fear is Gevurah, Compassion is Tif’eret, the speculum that shines is Netsaḥ, the dim glass is Hod, Justice is Yesod and Judgment is Malkhut.

Of them is written: בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), In the beginning, which consists of בָּרָא שִׁית (bara shit), created six; אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) is in the seventh chamber. There are seven chambers below, and seven chambers above. The seven voices that correspond to them appear in the psalm, Grant to YHWH (Psalms 29:1), which includes eighteen [iterations of] יהוה (YHWH). By these the blessed Holy One sails through eighteen worlds according to the mystery of: The chariots of Elohim are myriads, thousands of thousands (Psalms 68:18) and there are 18,000 worlds [see BT Avodah Zarah 3b]. Many guardians of the gates stand before the chambers to receive the prayers and no prayer enters without being measured and weighed.

None can stand before the gate of prayers and prevent any prayer from entering. Of such a one is written: [Like arrows in the warrior’s hand, thus are sons born in youth. Happy the man who fills his quiver with them.] They shall not be shamed when they speak with their enemies at the gate (Psalms 127:5). This is the gate of the King. Since the prayer is a mitsvah and Shekhinah and Torah is the blessed Holy One they must not be separated. Torah and the mitsvah should be elevated with Love and Fear.

There are the 248 words in the recitation of Shema that were given in love and fear, and that are contained in the ה (he) of יהוה (YHWH). Therefore, the blessing: ‘He Who chooses His people Israel with love,’ is recited before the recitation of Shema to indicate that we draw solely from the aspect of Love, which is the mystery of the 248 positive mitsvot. These 248 positive mitsvot are included within Abraham [because אַבְרָהָם (Avraham), Abraham, is numerically equivalent to 248, and his is the quality of Loving-kindness]. It is written of him: The seed of Abraham My friend (Isaiah 41:8).

Tefillin are strength, as they were given from the aspect of Fear, which is the left. This is the Terror of Isaac, because all the prosecutors ascend to demand all the Judgments throughout the worlds. Thus, it is written: And by the arm of His strength (Isaiah 62:8). This is why it is written: Love אֶת יְהוָה (et-Adonai), YHWH, all His faithful (Psalms 31:24). But Tif’eret of יהוה (YHWH) comprises all, as it is the middle pillar. Hence it says of Jacob, And, look, YHWH was poised over him (Genesis 28:13). This was not mentioned in relation to Abraham or Isaac, because Jacob is the aspect of Tif’eret, which includes all, since it is the middle pillar. When called by the name Jacob, He includes the quality of Abraham, וה (vav, he), and the 248 positive mitsvot. Later, when he was called Israel, he rose by יוֹד הֵא וְאוֹ הֵא (Yod He Vav He). The mystery of יוֹד הֵא וְאוֹ הֵא (Yod He Vav He) appears in the expression ‘Israel arose in thought’ (Bereshit Rabbah 1:4) to be created because מַחֲשָׁבָה (maḥshavah), thought, consists of: מַה חַשָׁב (mah ḥashav), ‘What thought.’ מַה (Mah)—יוֹד הֵא וְאוֹ הֵא (Yod He Vav He) [numerically equivalent to מַה (mah)], in which the Holy Name lies. Because of Jacob, who is called Israel, it is written: And Elohim created the human in his image (Genesis 1:27) after the likeness of his Master.

Sons, life and sustenance are drawn down to the lower beings only through the aspect of the middle pillar, of which is written: My son, My firstborn is Israel (Exodus 4:22) [on ‘sons, life, and sustenance,’ see BT Mo’ed Qatan 28a]. This is the Tree of Life, as is written: The tree [grew and became mighty, and its top reached the heavens and its branches to the end of all the earth. Its foliage was lovely and its fruit great, and there was] food for all [in it] (Daniel 4:8–9). As for Shekhinah—Israel below are Her life; Torah—Her sustenance; and prayer—an offering which offers Shekhinah for coupling [with Ze’eir Anpin]. During the exile, it is said that Shekhinah said to Her husband: Give me sons, for if You don’t, I am a dead woman! (Genesis 30:1).

Shekhinah is an offering for the blessed Holy One which He receives with both the right and the left arm, and with the body. His coupling with Her is accomplished by the Righteous One [Yesod, called ‘sign’]. This is the sign of the tefillin, of Sabbath and of the holidays. So when prayer [Shekhinah] ascends [to Ze’eir Anpin] She should be joined with Him with all ten sefirot [because there can be no holiness with fewer than ten] which is His own holiness, His blessing and unity. Therefore, when a person wishes his prayer to ascend, he should raise it with all its movement, the musical intonations and the vowels, since the letters are horses, the vowels horsemen, and the musical intonations weapons. If the serpent aims to seize the prayer, one must prepare a sling against it, and the mystery of the matter lies in זַרְקָא (zarqa), מַקַּף (maqqaf), שׁוֹפָר הוֹלֵךְ (shofar holekh), and סְגוֹלְתָּא (segolta)” (Zohar 1:23a, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar, cf. Zohar 2:86b).

This Doe has a Narrow Womb

Do you observe the calving of does? (Job 39:1)—this doe has a narrow vagina. When she crouches to give birth, I prepare a serpent which bites the vagina and she is loosened of her offspring. If it comes one second too soon or one second too late, she immediately dies” (BT Bava Batra 16b, cf. Zohar 2:111b; Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 43a).

At the tent flap sin crouches (Genesis 4:7). The serpent which bites the genitalia is the secret of ‘קַבֵּל רִנַּת עַמְּךָ שַׂגְּבֵנוּ טַהֲרֵנוּ נוֹרָא (Qabel rinnat Amekha saggvenu taharenu nora), accept Your people’s prayer. Strengthen us, purify us, You who are revered’ (Anna be-Khoaḥ)—קֶרַע שָׂטָן (qera satan), tear [of the] adversary” (Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital, Sefer ha-Liqqutim).

“נָחָשׁ (Naḥash), serpent, [שָׂטָן (satan), adversary,] and מָשִׁיחַ (mashiaḥ), Messiah, are numerically equivalent” (Rabbi Yitsḥaq ben Ya’aqov ha-Kohen, Madda’ei ha-Yahadut, 2 [1927] 273).

כְּמוֹ נָחָשׁ (Kemo naḥash), like a serpent (Psalms 140:4), and מָשִׁיחַ בֵּן דָּוִד (mashiaḥ ben david), Messiah son of David, are numerically equivalent.

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘There is one אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), doe, on earth, and the blessed Holy One does so much for her. When she cries out, the blessed Holy One hearkens to her anguish. And when the world is in need of mercy, for water, she cries aloud and the blessed Holy One listens and then feels compassion for the world, as is written As a hind longs for streams of water (Psalms 42:2). When she needs to give birth, she is totally constricted; then she puts her head between her knees, crying out and screaming, and the blessed Holy One feels compassion for her and provides her with a serpent who bites her genitalia, opening and tearing that place, and immediately she gives birth.’ Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Concerning this matter, do not ask and do not test את יהוה (et YHWH)—so it is precisely!’” (Zohar 2:52b)

As a woman with child draws near to give birth, she shudders, she shakes in her pangs, so we were before You, O YHWH (Isaiah 26:17).

“In the first month (Numbers 28:16). Rabbi Abba opened, ‘As a hart craves for streams of water, so my soul craves for You, O God (Psalms 42:2). This verse has been established. But it is written אַיָּל (ayyal), hart, and it is written אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), hind (Psalms 22:1); and all is one, for there is male and female. Even though there is male and female, this אַיָּל (ayyal), hart, is called ‘male’ and is called ‘female,’ as is written: כְּאַיָּל תַּעֲרֹג (ke-ayyal ta’arog), as a hart craves, and it is not written יַעֲרוֹג (ya’arog), [he] craves.

And it is written אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), the hind of, dawn (Psalms 22:1). What is the hind of dawn? Well, this is a certain compassionate animal, more compassionate than any in the world—for when She needs food, She goes afar on a distant journey and brings back food, and does not want to eat until She returns to her place. Why? So that the other animals may gather by Her and She can share that food with them. When She comes, all the other animals gather by Her, and She stands in the middle, distributing to each one [and the sign is in: She gets up while it is still night and provides nourishment for her house and a portion for her young women (Proverbs 31:15) (Sullam)]. By when She distributes, She is satisfied, as if She had eaten more than all [cf. BT Pesaḥim 112a, in the name of Rabbi Akiva: ‘More than the calf wants to suck, the cow wants to suckle’].

When does She distribute to them? When morning is about to come—while it is still night, and darkness lifts, lightening [as is written: She gets up while it is still night and provides nourishment for her house (Proverbs 31:15)]. Once morning shines, they are all sated with Her food.

Then a voice is aroused in the middle of the sky, proclaiming aloud: ‘You who are near, enter your places; you who are far, depart! Let each one be gathered to his appropriate place.’

As soon as the sun shines, each one is gathered to his place, as is written: When the sun rises, they gather [and in their dens they crouch] (Psalms 104:22). She goes in the day, is revealed at night, and distributes in the morning; so She is called אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), the hind of, dawn. Afterward, She is invigorated like a warrior and goes—and is called אַיָּל (ayyal), a hart.

Where does She go? She goes sixty phrasings from the place that She left, and enters the Mountains of Darkness, where She catches the scent of food. She proceeds into that Mountain of Darkness, and a certain tortuous serpent catches the scent of Her foot and follows Her; and She climbs from there toward the Mountain of Light. Once She arrives there, the blessed Holy One summons for Her another serpent, who emerges and attacks the other one, and She is saved. From there She takes food, and returns to Her place at midnight, She begins to distribute until the darkness of morning lifts. Once the day dawns, She goes and is no longer seen, as has been said.

When the world needs rain, all the other animals gather toward Her, and She ascends to the top of a high mountain, and, wrapping Her head between Her knees, She lets out one low after another. And the blessed Holy One hears Her voice, and is filled with mercy, and takes pity on the world. She descends from the top of the mountain, and runs and hides Herself, and all the other animals run after Her, but do not find Her—as is written: As a hart craves for streams of water. What is meant by for streams of water? For those that have dried up, and the world is thirsting for water; so she craves.

When She is pregnant, She is stopped up. When the time comes for Her to give birth, She lows and cries out, cry after cry—up to seventy cries, equaling the number of words in May YHWH answer you on the day of distress (Psalms 20:2), which is the song for a pregnant woman. The blessed Holy One hears Her and is ready for Her: He brings forth a great serpent from the Mountains of Darkness, and it comes through the mountains, its mouth licking the dust. It reaches this hart and comes and bites Her twice in that place [cf. BT Gittin 69b].

The first time, blood comes out, and it licks it up. The second time, water comes out, and all those animals of the mountains drink, and She is opened and gives birth. Your mnemonic is: He struck the rock with his staff twice: and it is written and the community, with its beasts, drank (Numbers 20:11) [cf. Shemot Rabbah 3:13].

At the moment when the blessed Holy One takes pity on Her—through the act of this serpent—what is written? The voice of YHWH brings on the birth pangs of hinds… (Psalms 29:9). The voice of YHWH brings on the birth pangs of hinds—those pangs and pains, arousing those seventy cries. Immediately, and strips the forests bare (ibid.)—to remove that serpent, exposing it among them to go away” (Zohar 3:249a–b, cf. ibid. 2:219b–220a; 3:68b [RM]).

“One might suggest that after seventy [years] She will feel [birth-pangs], and in two years She will give birth one thousand and two hundred years after [the destruction of the Second Temple, that is to say, after the end of the Fifth Millennium, which is all destruction, and a further two hundred years into the Sixth Millennium, and seventy years for the birth-pangs, and two years for the birth itself] coming to the year 272 [of the Sixth Millennium]. But it is written: Before she travailed, she brought forth; [before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child] (Isaiah 66:7). And the secret of the matter is contained in the verse: And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear (ibid. 65:24). And what is the meaning of before? Before the completion of the seventy years and the two years following the passing of one thousand and two hundred years, the birth-pangs, two Messiahs will be revealed to the world. And at that time: And in His palace all says glory (Psalms 29:9). And it has already been taught: The wise inherit כָּבוֹד (kavod)glory (Proverbs 3:35).

And at that time, those Torah sages will be respected, those who suffered pangs and travails as a woman in labor, and who were despised by the ignorant; they will be honored. And immediately: YHWH was enthroned at the flood (Psalms 29:10) on account of the wicked. Flood—judgments of the flood, when All the wellsprings of the great deep burst [and the casements of the heavens were opened] (Genesis 7:11), at the time of the flood. So, too, judgments will rise over them above and below, with no end. And every contempt and disgrace shown by the idolatrous nations of the world towards YHWH and His people and the many insults that Israel suffered from them for the sake of YHWH’s Name—for all of them the blessed Holy One will exact vengeance, and therefore, as far as they are concerned, [God is jealous, and YHWH avenges;YHWH avenges, and is furious; [YHWH will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies] (Nahum 1:2).

In the first month (Numbers 28:16). What is the first month? It is Nisan, which is when that animal gave birth, in accord with the teaching of the Masters of Mishnah: ‘In the month of Nisan they were redeemed, and in the month of Nisan they will be redeemed'[נִיסָן (Nisan) is the month of נִסִים (nisim), miracles] (BT Rosh ha-Shanah 11a). And this is with His יָד (yad), hand [which is numerically equivalent to fourteen, according to the secret of the verse:] And he said, ‘For יָד (yad), hand, upon Yah’s throne: [War for YHWH against Amalek from all time] (Exodus 17:16), when He swore to remove the seed of Esau, Amalek, from the world. At that time: Draw out and take yourselves sheep according to your clans and slaughter the Passover offering (Exodus 12:21), [where the meaning of] מִשְׁכוּ (mishkhu)draw out, is as in the verse: מָשַׁךְ יָדוֹ (mashak yado)he stretched out his hand, with scoffers (Hosea 7:5).

At that time, thus said YHWH: ‘To the rulers who transgressed against Me: neither shall they enter into the land of Israel (Ezekiel 13:9)—the shepherds of the flock, the supporters of the generation. Wherefore it is said about them: Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably to her (Hosea 2:16). And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I enter into judgment with you face to face. Like I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I enter into judgment with you, says YHWH God (Ezekiel 20:35–36), [namely] whom He killed in the plague of darkness” (Zohar 3:249a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineas).

“A voice issued… O low, sleeping ones, closed-eyed, awake! Who among you turns darkness into light, bitter into sweet before arriving here? Who among you awaits each day the light that shines when the King visits the doe and is glorified…? Whoever does not await this each day… has no portion here” (Zohar 1:4a).

“Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] says: The rising column of the moon is different from that of the sun. The light column of the moon rises straight like a stick, the light column of the sun [the dawn] irradiates in all directions… Just as the antlers of the doe branch off this way and that way, so the light of the dawn is scattered in all directions—Rabbi Zera said: Why was Esther compared to a אַיֶּלֶת (ayyelet), doe [BT Megillah 15b]? To tell you that just as a doe has a narrow womb and is desirable to her mate at all times as at the first time, so was Esther precious to King Ahasuerus at all times as at the first time. Rabbi Assi said: Why was Esther compared to the dawn [see BT Eruvin 54b]? To tell you that just as the dawn is the end of the whole night, so is the story of Esther the end of all the miracles. But there is Ḥanukkah?—we refer to those included in Scripture” (BT Yoma 28b–29b).