The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: ox

π: A Line of Thirty Cubits Going all Around

hiram_allas_salomon_temppeli_brazen_sea_574“’Whatever has a circumference of three handspans is one handspan in diameter’ (Mishnah). Is it so? Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The verse says: And he made the cast metal sea ten cubits from edge to edge, circular all around, and five cubits in height and a line of thirty cubits going all around (1 Kings 7:23). But surely there was its brim? Rav Papa replied: Its brim, [was merely] like the petal of a lily, as is written: its thickness was a handspan, and its rim like the design of a cup’s rim, blossom and lily, two thousand bats did it hold (ibid., 26) [the bat is a relatively large unit of liquid measure, but the precise quantity is uncertain]. But there was [still] a fraction at least? When it was reckoned it was that of the inner circumference [this is the only instance where a doubt is raised in the Talmud in connection with a mathematical statement, proving that the Rabbis were well aware of a more exact ratio between the diameter and circumference; the ratio of 1:3 was accepted by the Rabbis simply as a workable number for religious purposes, cf. BT Eruvin 76a; Sukkah 7b]” (BT Eruvin 14a).

“Rabbi Abba opened, saying, ‘He made the sea (1 Kings 7:23), and it is written: Standing upon twelve oxen: three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east, with the sea set upon them above… (ibid., 25), and it is written: the twelve oxen underneath the sea (ibid., 44). Standing upon twelve oxen—certainly so! For this sea [Shekhinah] is arrayed by twelve in two worlds: by twelve above, appointed by chariots; by twelve below, twelve tribes” (Zohar 1:241a).

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).

First Born Ox


“I have ox and donkey (Genesis 32:6). Ox—מָשׁוּחַ מִלחָמָה (mashuaḥ milḥamah), Anointed for War, as is said, His first born ox is His glory (Deuteronomy 33:17). Donkey—מֶלֶך הַמָשִׁיחַ (Melekh ha-Mashia), the King Messiah, as is said, He is lowly and rides a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)” (Bereshit Rabbah 75:6, cf. Tanḥuma [Buber] 1:54, 179).

Rejoice with all your heart, daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your King is coming to you: He is righteous and victorious. He is lowly and rides on a donkey, on a colt, a young pack animal (Zechariah 9:9).

“The Masters of Mishnah taught: ‘Who is mighty? He who conquers his [evil] impulse’ (M Avot 4:1). And there are those for whom it becomes a חֲמוֹר (ḥamor), donkey, that causes no trouble for its rider, and they are the ones who exert themselves in קַל וָחוֹמֶר (qal va-ḥomer), inference from minor to major. And this is why it is written of Abraham: And saddled his donkey (Genesis 22:3). And this is also why it is said about Messiah: He is lowly and rides on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)” (Zohar 3:237b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

He is lowly and rides on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)—עָנִי (ani), lowly, stands for the Mishnah orders of עֵרוּבִין (eruvin), Mixture [i.e., Sabbath borders], נִדָּה (niddah), Separated [i.e., laws of the menstruate] and יְבָמוֹת (yevamot), Levirates [i.e., laws of marriage between a widow and her brother-in-law]. The rest of the orders of the Mishnah are comprised in these but one is not considered a king until he rides on a horse, which is the Assembly of Israel [cf. Song of Songs 1:9: To my mare among Pharaoh’s chariots I likened you, my friend]….

And when the gulf is open, whoever falls there does not come up. And Messiah the Son of David fell there together with Messiah son of Joseph, of whom one is written: He is lowly and rides on a donkey, and the other is, His first born ox (Deuteronomy 33:17). This is the meaning of: If a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or a donkey fall into it (Exodus 21:33). For that reason Messiah is called בַּר נַפְלֵי (bar nafli), Son of the Fallen [see BT Sanhedrin 96b–97a], and She [Shekhinah] fell with them, and of Her it says, Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel (Amos 5:2). And you [Faithful Shepherd], the owner of the pit shall pay silver, shall make good to its owner, and the carcass shall be his (Exodus 21:34). The dead refers to Messiah son of Joseph who in the future will be slain [… censored passage]. Joseph, His first born ox is His glory (Deuteronomy 33:17), of whom it says, And they… cast him into a pit (Genesis 37:24)—the evil female. And the pit was empty (ibid.)—the male which is empty, without Torah, but instead has snakes and scorpions in it. This is the fourth exile [of Esau] which is a wicked generation, full of snakes and scorpions, scoundrels like snakes and who are עַקְרַבִּֽים (aqrabim), scorpions, since they עָקוּר (aqoor), uproot, the words of the Rabbis and give false sentence. Of them it says: Her adversaries have become the chief (Lamentations 1:5)” (Zohar 3:276b–279b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

And the land shall mourn, every clan apart; the clan of the house of David apart, and their wives apart (Zechariah 12:12)…. what is the cause of the mourning?—Rabbi Dosa and the Rabbis disagree. One explained, The cause is the slaying of Messiah son of Joseph [in the war of Gog from the land of Magog prior to the ultimate redemption with the coming of Messiah son of David], and the other explained, The cause is the slaying of the evil impulse. It is well according to him who explains that the cause is the slaying of Messiah son of Joseph, since that well agrees with: And they shall look upon Me because they have thrust him through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for his only son (ibid., 10); but according to him who explains the cause to be the slaying of the evil impulse, is this an occasion for mourning? Is it not rather an occasion for rejoicing? Why then should they weep?—as Rabbi Yehudah expounded: In the time yet to come the blessed Holy One will bring the evil impulse and slay it in the presence of the righteous and the wicked. To the righteous it will have the appearance of a towering hill, and to the wicked it will have the appearance of a hair thread. Both the former and the latter will weep; the righteous will weep saying, ‘How were we able to overcome such a towering hill!’ The wicked also will weep saying, ‘How is it that we were unable to conquer this hair thread!’ And the blessed Holy One will also marvel together with them, as is said, Thus says YHWH of armies; If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, would it also be marvelous in My eyes? says YHWH of armies (ibid. 8:6). 

Rav Assi said, ‘The evil impulse is at first like the thread of a spider, but ultimately becomes like cart ropes, as is said, Woe unto them that draw guilt with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope (Isaiah 5:18).’

Our Rabbis taught, the blessed Holy One will say to the Messiah, Son of David (May he reveal himself speedily in our days), ‘Ask of Me anything, and I will give it to you,’ as is said, Let me tell as is due of YHWH. He said to me: ‘You are My son. I Myself today did beget you. Ask of Me, and I shall give nations as your estate (Psalms 2:7–8). But when he will see that the Messiah son of Joseph is slain, he will say to Him, ‘Master of the World, I ask of You only the gift of life.’ As to life, He would answer him, ‘Your father David has already prophesied this concerning you’, as is said, Life he asked You—You gave him, [length of days for time without end] (Psalms 21:4)” (BT Sukkah 52a).

“And two Messiahs arouse before them. Messiah son of David parallels נֶצַח (Netsaḥ), and is connected with the morning of Abraham [Ḥesed, see Zohar 1:182b on Genesis 22:3] which is: At Your right hand are pleasures for נֶצַח (netsaḥ), evermore (Psalms 16:11). Hod to Gevurah, since to it is attached Messiah Son of Ephraim [synonymous with Messiah son of Joseph]. You [Moses the Faithful Shepherd], are in the middle, and your rung is Tif’eret, for the middle pillar is connected with you, and also Yesod, the Vitality of the Worlds, is on your rung. Ḥokhmah is on the right: ‘Let him who wants to be wise turn south’ (BT Berakhot 30a). Binah is on the left: ‘Let him who wants to be rich turn to the north’ (ibid.)” (Zohar 3:242b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“And after this a king עַז פָּנִים (‘az panim), brazen faced, will arise for three months, and then the wicked kingdom will rule over Israel for nine months, as it says, Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she who travails has brought forth: [then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel] (Micah 5:2). And there shall sprout up for them Messiah Son of Joseph, and he will bring them up to Jerusalem. He will rebuild the Temple and offer sacrifices; fire shall descend from heaven and consume their sacrifices, as is written, The lawless sons of your people shall be raised up to fulfill the vision, but they shall stumble (Daniel 11:14). If they are not worthy, Messiah Son of Ephraim comes [i.e., Messiah Son of Joseph]; but if they are worthy, Messiah Son of David will come.

A wicked king will arise whose name is Armilus: bald, with small eyes and a skin-blanched forehead; his right ear closed up and his left ear open. If a good person should speak to him, he will turn his closed ear toward him, and if a wicked person should speak to him, he will turn his open ear to him. He is the offspring of the שָׂטָן (satan), adversary, and a stone [statue], and he will come up to Jerusalem and incite war with Messiah Son of Ephraim comes [i.e., Messiah Son of Joseph] at the eastern gate, as is written, And they shall look to me whom they have thrust through (Zechariah 12:10)” (Nistarot shel Rabbi Shim’on bar Yoḥai).

“From the right of Abraham, whose rung is Ḥesed, He takes vengeance on Ishmael and his prince, and from the left of Isaac, whose rung is פַּחַד (paḥad), Terror, He takes vengeance on Esau and his appointed prince by means of two Messiahs, one of whom, Messiah son of David, is from the right, while the other, Messiah son of Joseph, is from the left. And the rung of Jacob that corresponds to them, in the mystery of changing his hands (Genesis 48:14)—the lion, to the left, and the ox to the right, to Ishmael. And since Judah was exiled in Esau, it follows that the right of holiness is with the left of Esau, and likewise the left of holiness is with the impure right of Ishmael. Until שִׁילֹה (Shiloh), come (Genesis 49:10) [cf. BT Sanhedrin 98b]—Shiloh, who is [Moses] the Faithful Shepherd [since the numerical value of שִׁילֹה (Shiloh), is equal to מֹשֶׁה (moshe), Moses], whose rung is Tif’eret Israel [the middle pillar]. He will take vengeance from the motley throng. In these three rungs כֹּהֲנִים לְוִיִּם וְיִשְׂרְאֵלִים (kohanimlevi’im, ve-yisraelim), Priests, Levites, and Israelites, will be recalled from the Exile, and with them [His כְּלִי (keli), weapon] He takes vengeance upon Esau, Ishmael, and the motley throng. Just as the motley throng is intermingled with Esau and Ishmael, so Jacob is composed of Abraham and Isaac for he is a mixture of the two of them. So too, Shiloh [Moses the Faithful Shepherd] is intermingled with Messiah son of David and Messiah son of Joseph and he will be the link between the two of them, as at the time that Bilaam saw in his prophecy [see Genesis 49:10]. For thus the two Messiahs are connected with the Faithful Shepherd, like the three patriarchs, in the final exile” (Zohar 3:245a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Since they brought it on you and did good things for you, you have suffered for their sakes many troubles so that Messiah son of Joseph shall not be killed, of whom it says, the face of an ox on the left side (Ezekiel 1:10), who is a descendant of Joseph, of whom it says, His first born ox is His glory (Deuteronomy 33:17). That is because he and his descendants shall not be violated among the heathen nations because of the sin of Jeroboam who worshipped idols [cf. 1 Kings], for which he and his seed were to be violated among the idol worshiping nations. For Jeroboam the son of Nebat is a descendant of Joseph and it is because of him that it says of you: But he was wounded because of our transgressions… and by his injury we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). And since Israel include right and left where Your ה (he) and י (yod) are in a state of completion, it behooves You to unite with Her between them. Because he [Jeroboam] has brought out an evil name upon a virgin of Israel, it says of her, and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days (Deuteronomy 22:19), in exile he may not be away from her all his days….

But the Masters of Mishnah do not know the Faithful Shepherd [Moses]. Elijah, an oath upon you in the Name of YHWH and in the explicit Name, reveal him to all the heads of the Masters of Mishnah so they will recognize him and he shall no more יִתְחַלֵּל (yitḥalal), be violated, And he מְחוֹלָל (meḥolal), was wounded, for our transgressions, (Isaiah 53:5). You do not have to receive permission because I am a messenger from the Master of the World, and I know that if you do that, the blessed Holy One will thank you for it and your descendants shall be exalted for it above and below. Do not tarry in doing it, neither a week nor a month, nor a year, but do it immediately!” (Zohar 3:277a–283a, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

“What is meant by, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie (Habakkuk 2:3)?What is [For there is yet a vision for the appointed time] וְיָפֵחַ (ve-yafe’aḥ), and a witness, for the end who is not false (Habakkuk 2:3)? Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan: תִּיפָּח (Tippaḥ), blasted, be the bones of those who calculate the end [cf. Rabbi Hillel Rivlin of Shklov in the name of the Gaon of Vilna, Qol ha-Tor 4:2]. For they would say, since the predetermined time has arrived, and yet he has not come, he will never come. But [even so], wait for him, as is written, Though he tarries, wait for him (ibid.). Should you say, ‘We await [his coming] but He does not [come]’: therefore Scripture says, And therefore YHWH shall wait to grant you grace, and therefore He shall rise to show you mercy, [for a God of justice is YHWH] (Isaiah 30:18). But since we look forward to it, as does He, what delays [his coming]? The quality of Justice delays it [because we are not yet worthy]. But since the quality of Justice delays it, why do we await it? To be rewarded [for hoping], as is written, Happy all who wait for Him (Isaiah 30:18).” (BT Sanhedrin 97b).