The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: prison

A Prisoner cannot Free Himself from Jail

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In his day you shall give his wages (Deuteronomy 24:15).

The Faithful Shepherd opened, ‘The following decree is to give a hired worker his hire in time. This is, In his day you shall give his wages, and the sun shall not set on him (ibid.). Listen, heads of the Academy high and low: Metatron is the hire of the hired worker, a messenger from the eighteen worlds to receive the eighteen blessings of the Amidah prayer every day, three times a day. For that reason, In his day you shall give his wages—the Shaḥarit service; and the sun shall not set on himMinḥah service, for if the day is past, the offering is no longer valid. For he is poor (ibid.)—surely he is poor in exile and has nothing but what he is given in prayer [see Zohar 1:179b: ‘(Metatron) the youth who is a poor child, possessing nothing at all of his own’]. For that reason his prayer is, prayer for the lowly when יַעֲטֹף (ya’atof), he is faint (Psalms 102:1), namely the יַעֲטוֹף (ya’atof), wrap, of the tsitsit and the hand tefillin [playing on two senses of the root עטף (‘tf), which can mean both ‘to be faint’ and ‘to cover oneself, wrap,’ as in ‘wrapping oneself in a tallit’ before binding tefillin, cf. Zohar 3:113b, TZ 6, 22a–b, 11, 26b; 21, 55b].

And his heart counts on it (Deuteronomy 24:15)—the Arvit (evening) service, which [corresponds to] the parts of the sacrifice and the fatty parts that are left from the offerings of the day [since prayer replaces Temple sacrifice, see BT Berakhot 6b on Psalms 141:2. Cf. Psalms 69:31–32; Hosea 14:3]. They are like single grapes of the vineyard and the edge of your field (Leviticus 19:9) of which we learned leaving things [over for the poor] is a mitsvah and hinders [divine] punishment. For the poor [Shekhinah and Metatron] and for the sojourner you shall leave them (ibid. 10). For the middle pillar [Tif’eret], when He is outside of His place is called a sojourner. For that reason, I [Moses the Faithful Shepherd, my rung being the middle pillar], called myself a sojourner in the first exile. This is, A sojourner have I been in a foreign land (Exodus 2:22), for He [Ze’eir Anpin] lies in exile for Her sake.’

The Masters of Mishnah asked him, ‘Faithful Shepherd, but Israel performed this decree in the land of Israel? He said to them, ‘This is in order to invoke compassion on those driven away from their place. For a man outside his place is called a sojourner, and all the more so the נִשְׁמָתִין (nishmatin), souls, that go naked from that world and come into this world. Of them is said, Like a bird wandering from its nest is a man wandering from his place (Proverbs 27:8). The soul, from which the Shekhinah does not move, is a man (ibid.), of whom it says, YHWH is a man of war (Exodus 15:3); wandering from his place (Proverbs 27:8)—roaming and roving from His place, which is the World that is Coming [Binah]. And He wanders after her in this world, until the days that the soul needs to go outside her place are completed. He guards her until He returns her to her place and swears He shall not return to His place before He returns her to her own. [Therefore] whoever repents is as if he returned the blessed Holy One and His Shekhinah to His place. This is the mystery of redemption, as is said, If you would only heed His voice! (Psalms 95:7)” (Zohar 3:278a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

If you should lend money to My people, to the pauper among you, you shall not be to him like a creditor, you shall not impose interest on him. If you should indeed take in pledge your fellow man’s cloak, before the sun comes down you shall return it to him. For it is his sole covering, it is his cloak for his skin—in what can he lie? (Exodus 22:24–26).

“Woe to the sons of man who imprison the blessed Holy One with them in exile. The Shekhinah is imprisoned with them too, as is said, ‘A prisoner cannot free himself from jail’ (BT Berakhot 5b)—release is תְּשׁוּבָה (teshuvah), Repentance [lit., returning], supernal Mother [Binah], which does depend on them. The fifty gates of freedom are with Her [cf. Leviticus 25:54], for the fifty times going out of Egypt is mentioned in the Torah [see Zohar 3:262a]. This is: and he turned כֹּה וָכֹה (koh va-khoh), this way and that way (Exodus 2:12). Through these fifty letters one unifies twice every day in the recitation of Shema which has כ״ה וכ״ה (twenty-five and twenty-five) letters. And saw that no man was about (ibid.)—to awaken Her inside of them.

She watches from the windows, it says of them: And now, I pray you, beseech אֵל (El), God, that He will be gracious to us (Malachi 1:9)—to Her. Of Her is said, אֵל (El), God, pray, heal her, pray (Numbers 12:13), and the healing is through His hands, which is the spread hand to receive the penitents. And saw that no man was about—this is: through the window she looked out, and moaned (Judges 5:28), like teru’ah [of the ram’s horn], which is moaning. As is said, Noah opened the window of the ark he had made (Genesis 8:6)—on Yom Kippur, because the ark of Noah is supernal Mother. Through Her window, the middle pillar, came the light. And Torah is light—אוֹר הַגָּנוּז (or ha-ganuz), the hidden light.

And he turned this way and that way (Exodus 2:12). 

Peeping through the crannies (Song of Songs 2:9)—the Ten Days of Repentance. And saw that no man was about (Exodus ibid.). Furthermore: Peering through the windows (Song of Songs ibid.)—the windows of the house of assembly. Father [Abba] and Son [Ze’eir Anpin] are in the house of prisoners, and every day He [Arikh Anpin] watches over them and gives them sustenance.

And he turned this way and that way—if there might be someone who stirred to return and break his prison, as is written, That You may say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves (Isaiah 49:9). And he turned this way and that way and saw that no man was about (Exodus 2:12). We have turned everyone to his own way (Isaiah 53:6); they all look to their own way, everyone for his gain, from his own quarter (ibid. 56:11). To gain more in this world, to inherit this world, and they are not from that place of which it says, God-fearing men, truthful men, haters of bribes (Exodus 18:21). Rather, in prayer on Yom Kippur all were howling like dogs. ‘Give! Give! Money, forgiveness, atonement, life. Seal us for life!’ And these are the greedy, likened to dogs [see Isaiah 56:1; Proverbs 30:15]. They are the nations of the world, that moan for themselves, and they are not shamefaced [see BT Sotah 49b: ‘With the footsteps of Messiah braz will increase… the face of the generation is like the face of a dog]. There are none who call to Him in repentance, to return the Shekhinah to the blessed Holy One, who is far from Him, to return Her to Him. They resemble dogs, as it says, And they mingled with the nations and learned their deeds (Psalms 106:35). These are the motley throng. Every good deed they do is only to benefit themselves [cf. BT Shabbat 33b; Bava Batra 10b].

Furthermore, they [only] ask for food, clothing, and time, which is time for coupling, as it says, he should not stint for this one her flesh, כְּסוּתָהּ (kesutah), her wardrobe, and her conjugal rights (Exodus 21:10) [cf. BT Ketubbot 48a]. There is nobody who asks for food of Torah, clothing of the Shekhinah, upper Mother [Binah], as it says, And do not forsake your mother’s teaching (Proverbs 1:8). ‘Clothing’ is the covering of tsitsit, and its cloak, and the tefillin of the hand as it says, A prayer for the lowly when he covers (Psalms 102:1). ‘And time’ is recitation of Shema in its proper time. With these three they did not act for the Shekhinah, [And if he does not do these three for her,] she shall go free without payment, with no כֶּסֶף (kesef), money (Exodus 21:11)—they have no כִּסּוּפָא (kissufa), shame, for the Shekhinah [who is like a pauper], they are brazen. Furthermore: With no כָּסֶף (kesef), money—they will not have any portion in the כִּסּוּפָא (kissufa), hidden, world that is coming [cf. Zohar 2:97a (SdM)].

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). Because of this: for it is his sole כְסוּתֹה (khesutoh), covering (Exodus 22:26)—the first [life] cycle. It is his cloak for his skin (ibid.)—his second [life] cycle. In what can he lie? (ibid.)—his third [life] cycle. These are the three garments, the three coverings of the three colors of the eye, which are garments for the pupil of the eye which is the נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 7, 22a–b).

Healing for the Soul: All the Protection a Doctor Should Provide for One who is Ill

“Up to here was written in that book of Dr. Kirtena. Afterward, traced in this verse, was all the protection a doctor should provide for one who is ill, lying in the King’s prison, so that he may serve the Master of the World.

For when a wise doctor goes to him, he finds him in a wilderness land and in tohu, emptiness—the illnesses imposed upon him. He finds him in royal captivity.

Now, you might say, ‘Since the blessed Holy One commanded to seize him, no person should attend to him [cf. BT Berakhot 60a, Bava Qamma 85a–b; Midrash Shemu’el 4:1; Naḥmanides on Leviticus 26:11].’ Not so! For David has said, Happy is one who keeps an eye on the helpless; on the day of evil YHWH will deliver him (Psalms 41:2). The helpless—the one lying on his sickbed. And if he is a wise doctor, the blessed Holy One provides him blessings for the one he is attending to.

And that doctor, if he finds him in a wilderness land, lying on his sickbed; and in the emptiness of a howling desert, for that sickness oppresses him—what should he do? יְסֹבְבֶנְהוּ (Yesovevenhu), He will encircle him (Deuteronomy 32:10)—יְסוֹבֵב לֵיהּ סִבּוֹת (yesovev leih sibbot), he should revolve the turn of events for him, and bring about causes, so that those things harming him will be thwarted [cf. Zohar 1:109a, 110a–b, 191b]. He should let and draw out from him bad blood.

Give mind to him (ibid.)—he should examine and understand the origin of that illness, scrutinizing so that it does not intensify; he should diminish it.

Afterward, guard him like the pupil of His eye (ibid.)—so that he will be protected properly with those potions, with those remedies that he needs. And he must not fail to distinguish between them, for if he errs in even one element, the blessed Holy One considers that doctor as if he spilled his blood and killed him. For although that person is in the King’s prison, confined there, the blessed Holy One wants someone to attend to him and help him, to take him out of prison.

[Dr. Kirtena] said as follows: The blessed Holy One renders judgment above upon inhabitants of the world, whether by death, uprooting, confiscation of property, or imprisonment (Ezra 7:26). One who deserves confiscation of property falls onto his sickbed and is not healed until he gives all that was decreed, he is healed and leaves prison [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 55a; Leqaḥ Tov, Deuteronomy 28:59; Zohar 1:227a–b; ZḤ 10d (MhN)]. Therefore, one must attend to him, so that he will pay his penalty and leave.

One who deserves uprooting will be seized and confined in prison until he is uprooted entirely, and sometimes he will be uprooted of his limbs, or of one of them, and afterward he will be released from prison.

One who deserves death, so it is. For if he gives all the ransom and money in the world, he will not be saved.

Even so, there must be a wise doctor to attend to him. If he can provide him with healing of the body, fine; if not, he will provide him with healing for his soul and attend to his soul’s healing. Such is a doctor whom the blessed Holy One will attend to in this world and in the world that is coming.

Rabbi El’azar said, ‘Until now I have never heard of this doctor or this book—except one time when a certain wandering donkey-driver told me that he heard from his father that in his time there was a certain doctor who, when he looked at a person on his sickbed, would say, This one will live, or This one will die. They said of him that he was truly virtuous and sin-fearing, and if anyone could not obtain what he needed, he himself would purchase it, giving of his own. And they said that there was no one in the world as wise as him, and his prayer accomplished more than the work of his hands, and it seems to me that this was the doctor!’

That Jew said, ‘His book is in my hands, because I inherited it from my grandfather. And all the words in that book are all based on mysteries of Torah, and in it I discovered concealed mysteries and many matters of healing, of which he said that it is not proper for anyone to perform them unless he is sin-fearing.

And those were what Balaam used, for he murmured incantations over illness; he spoke with his mouth, and [the person] was instantly healed [cf. M Sanhedrin 10:1; Tosefta Sanhedrin 12:10; JT Sotah 1:4, 16d; Sanhedrin 10:1, 28a–b; Vayiqra Rabbah 9:9; BT Sanhedrin 101a, Shevu’ot 15b; Avot de-Rabbi Natan A, 36; Devarim Rabbah 5:15; Bemidbar Rabbah 9:20].

All of them he clarified in that book, and he said, ‘This is forbidden, and this is permitted for one who is sin-fearing.’ For he mentioned many illnesses who’s cure depends on murmuring of the mouth, deriving from the side of sorcery and some from the side of wizardry. And all those forbidden to be uttered by the mouth and forbidden to be enacted, he discussed. Eventually I found there that for certain illnesses one must say such and such, and expel that illness by banishment and excommunication. That is quite amazing to me!’

Rabbi El’azar rejoiced, and the Companions rejoiced. Rabbi El’azar said, ‘If we had that book, we could see what it really is!’ He replied, ‘I’ll entrust it to you, in order to show it to the Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai].’ And we have learned: Rabbi El’azar said, ‘That book was in my hands twelve months, and in it I discovered many sublime precious lights. When we reached those sealed mysteries concerning Balaam, I was astounded.

One day I was whispering incantations in a certain place, and the letters were ascending and descending, until I saw in a dream, and they said to me, What are you doing entering and enquiring in a domain that is not yours, where you need not be?

I awoke, and I was distressed over those sealed mysteries that were there. I sent for that Jew, who is named Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Yehudah, and I gave him that book. And in the mysteries of Balaam, I found some of those names of angels, sent to him by Balak, though they were not arranged correctly. But in it I found many types of remedies, prepared according to configurations of Torah and her sealed mysteries. And I saw that it depends on kindness, and prayers and please to the blessed Holy One.

Now if you say that he performed healing with verses of Torah—perish the thought! Rather, he would speak mysteries of Torah, and based on that mystery he would produce mysteries of healing, the likes of which I have never seen. I said, Blessed is the Compassionate One who has enlightened human beings by wisdom above.

I grasped some of those matters relating to Balaam, and from them I saw that in the whole world there was no one as wise in sorcery as he. I said, Blessed is the Compassionate One, who has abolished these sorceries from the world, so that human beings will not stray from revering the blessed Holy One [cf. Rashi on BT Pesaḥim 56a; Guide of the Perplexed 3:37]’” (Zohar 3:306a, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 69, 106a).

“Rabbi Abba was traveling to Cappadocia, accompanied by Rabbi Yose. As they were going, they saw a man approaching who had a mark on his face. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Let us turn off the road, for this one’s face testifies to sexual licentiousness of the Torah, on account of which his face is stigmatized. Rabbi Yose said to him, ‘If he has had this mark since childhood, what licentiousness inheres in him? He replied, ‘I see in his face, which testifies to licentiousness of Torah.’

Rabbi Abba called to him, and said, ‘Tell me something. What is this mark on your face?’ He said to them, ‘I beg of you, don’t punish me any more than what my sins have brought upon me!’

Rabbi Abba said, ‘How is that?’ He replied, ‘One day I was travelling on the road—me and my sister. We stayed at an inn and I got drunk, and all that night I embraced my sister. In the morning I got up, and the innkeeper was quarreling with another man. I got between them and they grappled me, one from this side and one from that, and this wound penetrated my forehead [lit., brain]. I was saved by a certain doctor who was staying with us.’

He asked him, ‘Who was that doctor?’ He replied, ‘It was Rabbi Simlai.’ He said, ‘And what cure did he give you?’ He replied, ‘A cure for the soul. From that day on, I have engaged in teshuvah. And every day I look at my face in a mirror and I weep for that sin before the blessed Holy One, and with those tears I wash my face [cf. Zohar 2:12b: There is no gate that those tears cannot enter].

Rabbi Abba said, ‘Were it not for your becoming deprived of teshuvah, I would remove that mark from your face. But I proclaim over you, Your iniquity is removed and your sin purged (Isaiah 6:7). He said to him, ‘Rabbi say it three times!’ He said it three times and the mark disappeared. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Surely your Lord wished to remove it from you, for you were certainly engaged in teshuvah.’ He said to him, ‘I vow that from this day onward I will engage in Torah day and night.’ He asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He replied, ‘אֶלְעָזָר (El’azar)’ He said, ‘Surely, the name was decisive, for אֵל עָזַר (El azar), God has helped, and assisted you [cf. Tanḥuma, Ha’azinu 7: ‘One should always be careful to choose for his child a name that denotes righteousness, for at times the name itself can be an influence for good or an influence for bad’].’ Rabbi Abba sent him off with a blessing” (Zohar 3:75b–76a).

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).