The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: Sabbath

Are Your Days Like a Mortal’s Days, Your Years Like the Years of a Man?

Remember the sabbath day to hallow it. Six days you shall work and you shall do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a sabbath to YHWH your God. You shall do no task…. For six days did YHWH make the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in it, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore did YHWH bless the sabbath day and hallow it (Exodus 20:8–11).

When you come into the land that I am about to give you, the land shall keep a sabbath to YHWH. Six years you shall sow your fields and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its yield. And in the seventh year there shall be שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן (shabbat shabbaton), an absolute sabbath, for the land, a sabbath to YHWH…. And you shall count you seven sabbaths of years, seven years seven times, and the days of the seven sabbaths of years shall come to forty-nine years…. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and call a release in the land to all its inhabitants. A jubilee it shall be for you, and you shall go back each man to his holding and each man to his clan, you shall go back (Leviticus 25:2–4, 8–10).

“The song that the Levites would say in the Temple on the first day: They would say, YHWH’s is the earth and its fullness, the world and the dwellers within it (Psalms 24:1). On the second they would say, Great is YHWH and highly praised in our God’s town, His holy mountain (ibid. 48:2). On the third they would say, God takes His stand in the divine assembly, in the midst of the gods He renders judgment (ibid. 82:1). On the fourth they would say, God of vengeance, O YHWH, God of vengeance, shine forth! (ibid. 94:1). On the fifth they would say,  Sing gladly to God our strength, shout out to the God of Jacob (ibid. 81:2). On the sixth they would say, YHWH reigns, in triumph clothed, clothed is YHWH, [in strength He is girded. Yes, the world stands firm, not to be shaken] (ibid. 93:1). On the Sabbath they would say, A psalm, a song for Sabbath day (ibid. 92:1)—a psalm, a song for the time yet to come, for the day that is entirely שַׁבַּת מְנוּחָה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָמִים (shabbat menuḥah le-ḥayye ha-olamim), a cessation of tranquility for the One who lives eternities [or: … for the Vitality of the Worlds]” (M Tamid 7:4).

“Rabbi Eli’ezer son of Hyrcanus [said], ‘… Before the world was created, there existed only the blessed Holy One and His great name. The thought of creating the world arose in His mind. He traced the world, but it did not endure” (Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 3).

“Rabbi Berekhiah said: It is written, And the earth was welter and waste (Genesis 1:2). Was—what does it mean? Welter, already was” (Bahir §2).

And there was evening (Genesis 1:5). Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabbi Shim’on said: It is not written let there be evening, but rather and there was evening: hence we know that an order of time existed before this. Rabbi Abbahu said: The blessed Holy One kept creating worlds and destroying them until He created these [i.e., heavens and earth]. Then He declared, ‘These please Me, those do not.’ Rabbi Pinḥas said: This is Rabbi Abbahu’s reason: And God saw all that He had done, and, look, it was very good (Genesis 1:31): ‘These please Me, those do not’” (Bereshit Rabbah 3:7).

“Rabbi Tanḥuma opened: Everything He has עָשָׂה (asah), done, aptly in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Rabbi Tanḥuma said: The world was created in its time, and the world was not fit to be created earlier. Rabbi Abbahu said: Hence we learn that the blessed Holy One was creating worlds and destroying them, creating worlds and destroying them, until He created these [i.e., the heavens and earth], and then He said: ‘These please Me, those do not.’ Rabbi Pinḥas said: This is Rabbi Abbahu’s reason: And God saw all that He had עָשָׂה (asah), done, and, look, it was very good (Genesis 1:31): ‘These please Me, those do not’ [cf. Zohar 1:24b–25a (TZ): ‘… it does not mean He destroyed His own makings as people might think’; 3:292b (IZ)]” (Bereshit Rabbah 9:2).

“Rav Qattina said: Six thousand years is a world, and one [thousand years that are] desolate, as is written, And YHWH alone shall be raised high on that day (Isaiah 2:11). Abbaye said: Two [thousand years are] desolate, as is said, He will revive us after two days, on the third day raise us up, that we may live in His presence (Hosea 6:2).

It has been taught like Rav Qattina: Just as the seventh is one מְשַׁמֶטֶת שָׁנָה (meshametet shanah), year of release, in seven years, so is a world: one thousand years out of seven shall be מְשַׁמֵּט (meshammet), fallow, as is written, And YHWH alone shall be raised high on that day, and it is further said, A psalm, a song for Sabbath day (Psalms 92:1)—the day that is entirely a cessation [of tranquility]. It is also said, For a thousand years in Your eyes are like yesterday gone (Psalms 90:4).

The Tanna debe Eliyyahu taught: Six thousand years is a world: two thousand תֹּהוּ (tohu), chaos; two thousand תּוֹרָה (torah), Law [and order]; two thousand years the days of Messiah” (BT Sanhedrin 97a).

“Assembly of Israel lies in the dust for one day, no more! Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘So they have declared, but come and see the mystery that I have learned: When Assembly of Israel was exiled from Her realm, letters of the Holy Name separated, as it were—ה (he) separating from ו (vav). Since they separated, it is written: I was dumb, silent (Psalms 39:3), because vav departed from he and voice disappeared, so speech was silenced. She therefore lies in the dust that entire day of he. What is that? Fifth millennium, although She went into exile before the beginning of the fifth millennium—mystery of he. When the sixth millennium arrives—mystery of vavvav will raise he six times ten. Then consummation of vav: ascending to ten, descending to five, fulfilled by the ten six times, becoming sixty, to raise from the dust. Every sixty years of that millennium, he is invigorated, scaling its rungs. In the six hundredth year of the sixth, springs of wisdom will open above, springs of wisdom below, and the whole world will prepare to enter the seventh, just like a person preparing on the sixth day, as the sun is about to set, to enter Sabbath. Your mnemonic: In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life… all the springs of the great abyss burst and the sluices of heaven were opened (Genesis 7:11).

Rabbi Yose said to him, ‘All this is longer than the Companions have established, namely, one day of exile for Assembly of Israel, no more, as is written: He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13) [cf. Zohar 2:17a (MhN); 3:270a–b]. He replied, ‘So I learned from father in the mysteries of letters of the Holy Name, the duration of the world and the days of Creation—all a single mystery.’ …” (Zohar 1:116b–117a).

“ש (Shin)—this letter was of four prongs but now she is [only of] three…. The mystery of the root of unity [is] in her… without gain, or change, as is written, I am YHWH, I have not changed (Malachi 3:6)—from [the aspect of] Atsilut, Emanation, unity remains without joining or change in essence. The power of divinity acts, and His unity in Atsilut… [imbues] the shape [of the four-pronged shin with] a power to unite. For with this power the shape is comprised in Atsilut, [the world of] unity, to unite with Torah, commandments, and statutes, [according to] the need of שְׁמִטָּה (shemittah), the sabbatical year. And her Torah’s nature [is] to unite and to mend her way, with upright commandments unique to the need of healing for souls in exile. 

And in the future [the three-pronged shin] will transform and she will be of a square shape, [according] to the need of the shemittah. She came in her splendor with her Torah and statute in the mystery of unity befitting her in Atsilut and the unique order [of] the shemittah—for she already was, but her Torah passed and [there] came the power of the shape with three prongs in her place [cf. TZ 14a–b on Proverbs 30:23; Zohar 3:124b–25b (RM)]. Now, [according to] the need she gives Torah and statute—according to the quality of the way [of the shemittah]. For every matter and outside power come from her side, such as, You shall make you no carved likeness and no image [of what is in the heavens above or what is on the earth below or what is in the waters beneath the earth] (Exodus 20:4)—[this] quality overcomes [idolatry with her Torah of prohibitions], for all [that] is far [from holiness is] from her side…. Thus at the giving of Torah came ‘you shall do’ and ‘you shall not do’ in the 613 commandments….

Therefore, the letter was missing at the giving of Torah and Shekhinah [was] in her place. As with the creation of the world, Ḥesed, Kindness, [was missing from] the structure [of the six lower sefirot] and Shekhinah [was] with them to complete the structure [on justice as the basis of the world, see M Avot 1:18; Avot de-Rabbi Natan B, 43; Bereshit Rabbah 14:1; Shemot Rabbah 30:13; Zohar 1:180b; 2:22b, 122a; 3:30b, 32a; Rabbi Moshe de León, Sefer ha-Rimmon, 291, 345. Cf. Psalms 89:3: The world shall be built on kindness].

Now, in the days of Noah [it was] a time of grace and light—the quality which already came. He was a righteous and blameless man in his generation [which was totally evil and whose sustained existence was only by the grace and kindness of YHWH, see Genesis 6:5–8; cf. BT Sanhedrin 108b; Zohar 1:58a, 61b–62a]. There the letter was whole, enduring in his place…. And now the shape of [shin is of] three prongs [in] the second, harsh, shemittah [cf. Sefer Yetsirah §34: ‘He made ש (shin) king over אֵשׁ (esh), fire’]. In her is the need of the shemittah to remove every carved likeness and image. And all leavened dough comes from her side [cf. JT Berakhot 4:2, 7d]. And from her we will [ultimately] come to unite, to join with commandments of unity, in His emanation, such as tefillin, tsitsit, sukkah, lulav, and the like. For they [are meant] to unite [all] supernals as one. But הָפַךְ (hafakh), He overturned [the order]—this [shemittah] is not for joining, nor for unifying the singular Power, holy things [serve] the need of the profane [see BT Pesaḥim 50a; cf. Zohar 3:124b–25b (RM)]. For what is forbidden in this is permitted in that [cf. Midrash Tehillim 146:4]. Since from the power of the shape [of the four-pronged shin] we will understand [how] to join holies through the unity of Atsilut, and overturn forbidden [acts], such as eating of an offering…. The [three-pronged] shape of the letter [ש (shin) is] in [the shape of] a root—the [three] Patriarchs [cf. Bahir  §118]. And the Chariot [too is] in their shape, lacking the Shekhinah. Yet, the Shekhinah is with them, [and they are] with Her as one” (Sefer ha-Temunah 3, 61b–62a, cf. Rabbi Yitsḥaq Luria, Sha‘ar Ma’amarei Rashbi 46b).

“According to the way of Kabbalah: יוֹבֵל (Yovel), jubilee—from the language [of], And by יוּבַל (yuval), a stream, it sends forth its roots, [and it shall not see when the heat wave comes, and its leaves shall be lush, and in a drought year it shall have no care and never cease from yielding fruit] (Jeremiah 17:8). And it hints that all the generations יוּבְלוּ (yuvelu), will be led [back], to the First Cause, and therefore Jubilee is called דְּרוֹר (deror), Freedom, since it is Jubilee who set the roots of הַדּוֹרוֹת (ha-dorot), the generations, and all those who are created. For from there they emanate in בְּרִית עוֹלָם (berit olam), an eternal covenant, as is said, בְּרֵאשִׁית (bereshit), in the beginning, God created (Genesis 1:1) [—בְּרִית אֵשׁ (berit esh), covenant of fire; cf. Jeremiah 33:25: Were it not for My covenant day and night, I would not have established the laws of the heavens and earth]. And Her name, [תְּשׁוּבָה (teshuvah), Return, attests to] their return. And understand this, for every single one of the seven [sefirot] acts [on] seven thousand [years]. And, look, they are forty-nine—when forty-nine [shemittot, sabbatical years] are completed the world will be welter and waste (ibid., 2), and all will be restored to Jubilee, just as [all] emanates from there—understand this. And this is the language of: In this jubilee year you shall go back, each man to his holding (Leviticus 25:13). And the probing sages [i.e., philosophers], say in their language: All was from the First Cause, and all returns to the First Cause.

Now, if you understand the secret of הַשְּׁמִטָּה וְהַיּוֹבֵל (ha-shemittah ve-ha-yovel), the sabbatical year and the jubilee, you will not disregard that which was mentioned of the shemittahyour field… your vineyard… your harvest… your untrimmed vine (ibid., 3–5)—in the second person. For after the shemittah has passed Scripture called שַׁבַּת מְנוּחָה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָמִים (shabbat menuḥah le-ḥayye ha-olamim), a cessation of tranquility for the One who lives eternities [or: … for the Vitality of the Worlds; cf. M Tamid 7:4], [and these] will be yours as before. Now, look at the emphasis of the verse, A psalm, a song for Sabbath day (Psalms 92:1), hinting to what will be after the sabbath, as is said, The righteous man springs up like the palm tree (ibid., 13). And it is written, May the righteous man flourish in his days—and abundant peace till the moon is no more (ibid. 72:7)—also hinting at: and they were completed (Genesis 2:1), after which is said, and God blessed the seventh day (ibid., 3) in order to make it known what will be after the seventh day, sealed with the word לַעֲשׂוֹת (la-asot), to do (ibid.), as if to say: acts [still left] to do [after the shemittah] and to call the generations from the beginning. And because of this it says of the mitsvah of shemittahyour field… your vineyard… your harvest… your untrimmed vine—[it says] your, while it did not say so of the jubilee, but rather, its aftergrowths… its untrimmed vines (Leviticus 25:11), accordingly, its and not yours.

And I already mentioned this in order [of the Torah portions] at Mishpatim. And from this is said, [In the jubilee year the field shall revert…to Him who has the holding of the land (ibid. 27:24)—it does not say, [to him whoinherits the land [cf. Exodus 23:30]. For the notion of inheritance is that which a man inherits in due time, yet it says, the holding, which is language mainly instructive of first owners, as is written, [If you see the oppression of the poor and the perversion of justice and right in the province, be not amazed at the matter,for he who is high has a higher one watching him, and still higher ones over them (Ecclesiastes 5:7). Now this is clarified” (Rabbenu Baḥya ben Asher on Leviticus 25:10).

“Said the small Yitsḥaq of Akko [circa 5065/1305 C.E.]: I saw [the need] to write a great secret which is fitting to conceal very well: Know that a day of the blessed Holy One is one thousand years of ours, as is said, For a thousand years in Your eyes are like a day (Psalms 90:4). Now, our year is 365 and a quarter days. If so, a year above is 365,250 years of ours. And two years above are 730,500 years of ours. From now on go out and double, [then] and go out and double [again], until 49,000 years—that each day of the 365,250 above is a thousand years of ours, as is written, [The eyes of human haughtiness are brought down, and men’s righteousness is bowed low,] and YHWH alone shall be raised high on that day (Isaiah 2:11); Who can utter YHWH’s mighty acts, [can make heard all His praise?] (Psalms 106:2). Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom, forever and ever. And all of this is as Scripture said. Surely, its figure—[be it] twice as much, thousands upon thousands of thousands—is not in His eyes reckoned [as even] a moment.

Now, יֹצְרוֹ (yotsro), [the world’s] Fashioner, is צ״ע—צַדִּיק עֶלְיוֹן (tsaddiq elyon), the supernal Righteous One [cf. Proverbs 10:25: The Righteous One is the foundation of the world; JT Berakhot 1:5, 10b. Alt., Now, צִיּוּרוֹ (tsiuro), its figure (i.e., the duration of the world) צ״ע—צָרִיךְ עִיּוּן (tsarikh iyyun), requires speculation]. Surely, with אֵין סוֹף (ein sof), Infinity, it is enough for you to say ein sof, without end [and nothing more], if your wish [is] that your soul endure in her palace [i.e., her body]…. Glimpse at Him and you will be like Son of Azzai [who glimpsed and died]: Precious in the eyes of YHWH is the death of His faithful ones (Psalms 116:15) [see BT Ḥagigah 14b ad loc.; cf. Rabbi Yitsḥaq of Akko, Otsar Ḥayyim 161b]—the blessed Holy One has no desire that you kill [yourself] inasmuch as you were not permitted: You have no business with hidden and wondrous matters [see BT Ḥagigah 13a]. Do not inquire [of Ein Sof, Infinity, but rather] eat and you will be revived [cf. Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, Ḥayyei ha-Olam ha-Ba]. That you should know Him and serve Him, You shall be wholehearted with YHWH your God (Deuteronomy 18:13)—knowledge with intention [to serve Him]. Surely, the thought of your mind will be with Him, clinging perpetually, without imaginary fashionings [that are] not whole, [or] complete [cf. Bahir §47 on Deuteronomy 4:15]. For according to your watching over Him, so will be His watching over you [cf. Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, 3:16–21]…. 

And clear proof concerning the duration of [this] world a great many years, for which the heart will be made weary tallying it, is from what Isaiah the prophet said, peace be upon him, [There shall not be there a tender babe or elder who will not live out his days. For like] a lad he shall die at a hundred, [and who misses a hundred shall be thought accursed] (Isaiah 65:20). Just as we say now of a baby aged three or younger who dies, so will be said in the time yet to come of a man who has lived [only] a hundred years and died, ‘a baby has died.’ For so great will be the human lifespan. And if one of little faith comes to deny this strange notion say to him that it already has been: Methuselah lived thirty [-one] shy of a thousand years [see Genesis 5:27]. For certainly the man who lived a hundred years and died in the days of Methuselah, of him Methuselah [must have] said, ‘A small baby has died.’

And now I will say a thing which needs speculation [or: contemplation], and that is that one hundred years of the blessed Holy One are thirty-six times 150,000 years of ours. And since we said that a year above is 365,250 years… go out and tally to one hundred years and to a thousand years and a man need not speculate further. Behold, our eyes see that the duration of the world is very long, to remove from the hearts of those who say its duration is only 49,000 years [of ours], which are seven שְׁמִטּוֹת (shemittot), sabbatical years” (Rabbi Yitsḥaq of Akko, Otsar Ḥayyim 86b–87b).

Are Your days like a mortal’s days, Your years like the years of a man? (Job 10:5).

A Man’s Table Atones for Him

“As long as the Temple stood, the altar atoned for Israel; now a man’s table atones for him” (BT Berakhot 55a; Menaḥot 97a).

“Faithful Shepherd, prepare a table for your Master, for Him and His Matronita, with all sorts of delicacies, to fulfill in it: This is the table that is before YHWH (Ezekiel 41:22) [cf. Zohar 2:153b–155a]. For until now, everyone was enjoying from the King’s table, as it says: Come, partake of my bread, [and drink the wine I have mixed] (Proverbs 9:5). Bread—Written Torah [Ze’eir Anpin]. Wine—Oral Torah [Malkhut], in which there are many savories, flavors of Torah, from all the adornments and delicacies in the world and of the King.

The Faithful Shepherd rose and began to speak: Aaron the priest, rise from your sleep to slaughter oxen and sheep and goats and lambs and fowl, and all varieties needed for the King’s feast. לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים (Leḥem ha-panim), bread of the Presence (Exodus 25:30), corresponding to the two tablets of Torah, written on both their sides [lit., מִזֶּה וּמִזֶּה הֵם כְּתֻבִים (mizeh u-mizeh hem ketuvim), from this and from this they were written] (Exodus 32:15). זֶּה (Zeh), this—twelve faces, which are [the twelve letters of יהוה (YHWH) written three times]: יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה (yivarekha Adonai), YHWH bless you… יָאֵר יְהוָה (ya’er Adonai), YHWH light up… יִשָּׂא יְהוָה (yisa Adonai), YHWH lift up (Numbers 6:24–25). The second זֶּה (zeh), this, is: אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)—twelve living beings, of which it says, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and the four had the face of an ox on the left side; the four also had the face of an eagle (Ezekiel 1:10). And it says of them: And each one had four faces (ibid., 6). That is, in each of the three beings there are four faces: lion, ox, eagle, and man, and three times four amounts to twelve living beings. That is the meaning of, And זֶה אֶל זֶה (zeh el zeh), one unto another, cried and said, [Holy, holy, holy, is YHWH of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory] (Isaiah 6:3). They also correspond to the twenty-four books of Torah. And this is: זֶה (zeh), This, is the table, that is before YHWH (Ezekiel 41:22). Utensils on the King’s table are Masters of Mishnah—masters of prayer arranged to correspond to the sacrifices.

He opened and said: and you shall make a table of acacia wood (Exodus 25:23). Come and see: those present at the King’s meal had goodly and fine customs to show they were members of the King’s table. First the eldest would wash his hands. When they entered to sit for the meal, the oldest would sit at the head of the table. The second would be below him, and the third below the second. These are called the ‘three beds,’ corresponding to the three Patriarchs, and to the priests, the Levites and Israel. From here on, they had no order, rather whoever came first was seated.

Second, the master of the house breaks bread so that he may apportion it generously [lit., with a good eye]. He first completes [the blessing] and then breaks it. The Rabbis of the Mishnah have arranged it so that none of those reclining at the feast table are permitted to taste until the giver of the blessing has tasted first. The one who apportions is not permitted to taste until all present have finished saying ‘amen.’ And if he wishes to delegate honor [by inviting another to break bread] he may do so. In addition, it is said that the guest blessed [the meal after it was eaten] so that he bless the master of the house [see BT Berakhot 58a]. And the mystery of the matter: The master of the house breaks—the middle pillar, קָו הָאֶמְצָעִי (qav ha-emtsa’i), the middle cord. And on the Sabbath, he must break from two cuts: הה (he, he). The master of the house is ו (vav) in the middle. In order not to appear a glutton, he may apportion to each one a piece the size of an egg. What is the size of an egg? It is י (yod) and י (yod) which are the vocalizations of the Holy Name [יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNWY)] called ‘crumbs the size of an olive’ [see M Berakhot 7:1–2; Kil’ayim 8:5; Terumot 7:3; Ḥallah 1:2; Shabbat 10:5]. These correspond to drops of seed. And whoever disparages these crumbs, throwing them out in an inappropriate place, poverty chases him and he will constantly wander [cf. BT Pesaḥim 111b; Ḥullin 105b], as is written, he wanders for bread—where is it? (Job 15:23). Bread—Torah; he cries out, looking for someone who will have compassion on him, but will find no one.

Crumbs the size of an olive belong to the Righteous One [Yesod], who presses these olives [Netsaḥ and Hod. Cf. BT Berakhot 52b; Zohar 1:14b]. The אוֹרֵחַ (oreaḥ), guest, blesses, as is written: But אֹרַח (oraḥ), the path, of the righteous is like light’s radiance (Proverbs 4:18). Blessings on the righteous man’s head (Proverbs 10:6)—Vitality of the Worlds [Yesod]. Therefore, the guest makes the blessing.

As he was speaking, the Holy Lamp came to him, and said: Faithful Shepherd, one day I went along with the Companions to an inn. There was a child there who rose and by himself prepared for us a lamp and a table, as if he were twenty years old. Yet he was only a five year old boy. He set that table with different dishes and drinks and said, ‘The Rabbis have decreed that the master of the house breaks bread and the guest makes the blessing. Yet, I am young in years, and you are aged. Therefore was I awed and feared to speak my mind to you (Job 32:6) until I obtain permission from you.’ They said to him: Speak up my son, angel of God [for more on this יַנוּקָא (yanuqa), child, a wunderkind-and-enfant-terrible who amazes and teases, challenges and stumps the rabbis, see Zohar 3:186a–192a, cf. M Avot 5:26–27: ‘Rabbi Yose son of Yehudah of Bavli village said: When you learn from the young, what is it like? Like eating unripe grapes or drinking wine straight from the vat. When you learn from the old, what is it like? Like eating ripe grapes and drinking old wine. Rabbi Me’ir said: Do not look at the flask but at what it contains, for a new flask may contain old wine, and an old flask may not contain anything, even new wine’].

He said to us: ‘Do you desire indulgences without battle, or bread of battle?’ [the child may be playing on לֶחֶם (leḥem), bread, and לָחֶם (laḥem), war (see Judges 5:8); cf. Zohar 3:188b: ‘Whoever wants bread, let him eat by the mouth of the sword’; Proverbs 13:25: The righteous man eats for the sating of his gullet, but the belly of the wicked will want]. The Rabbis of the Mishnah decreed that mealtime is a time of war. If you desire to battle over it let no one eat and he who has won the battle shall eat first and apportion to the rest. The Companions said to him: You are still small, my son, and you have yet to learn how mighty men wage battle with sword, in waving the sword, with lance, with bow and arrows, and with slingstones.

He said to us: Let not the buckler of armor boast like the unfastner (1 Kings 20:11) [one shouldn’t boast of his prowess before the battle, but only after winning]. It has been explained that whoever reads the recitation of Shema at his bedside is as if he holds a double-edged sword, as is written: Exultations of God in their throat and a double-edged sword [lit., a sword of mouths] in their hand (Psalms 149:6) [cf. BT Berakhot 5a; Song of Songs 3:7–8 (included in the recitation of Shema): Look, Solomon’s bed—sixty warriors round it of the warriors of Israel. All of them wielding the sword trained in battle, each with his sword on his thigh out of terror in the nights]. The waving of the sword must be done in the six directions, as was explained, in order to make Him reign over the heavens, the earth, and the four corners of the world. ו (Vav)—body of the sword; י (yod)—head of the sword; הה (he, he)—two edges [lit., mouths]; אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)—sheath of the sword [cf. Leviticus 26:33; Tiqqnuei ha-Zohar 8b].

The רֹמַח (romaḥ), lance, is the 248 words in the recitation of Shema, and together with the six words in the unification [בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד (Barukh shem kevod malkhuto le-olam va-ed), Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever], they total רוֹמַח (romaḥ), lance [spelled fully with ו (vav), numerically equivalent to 254]. The מָגֵן (magen), shield, is with sword: מִיכָאֵל גַּבְרִיאֵל נוּרִיאֵל (Mikhael, Gavriel, Nuriel), Michael, Gabriel and Nuriel. They serve the three Patriarchs [Ḥesed, Gevurah and Tif’eret]. The bow [Yesod] shoots arrows, but ‘Any seed that does not shoot forth like an arrow does not beget offspring’ (BT Ḥagigah 15a; Niddah 43a). The sling is the recitation of Shema Yisra’el, and the five slingstones—שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה (Shema Yisra’el Adonai Elohenu Adonai), Hear, O Israel, YHWH our God, YHWH (Deuteronomy 6:4) [Ḥesed, Gevurah, Tif’eret, Netsaḥ, Hod]—correspond to David [Malkhut]: and he chose five smooth stones from the creek [and put them in the shepherd’s pouch he had, in the satchel, and his slingshot was in his hand, and he came forward toward the Philistine] (1 Samuel 17:40). When he placed them into the sling, the lip, Shekhinah, all five turned into one stone and killed the Philistine [שָׂפָה (safah), lip, and שְׁכִינָה (Shekhinah) are numerically equivalent].

And until now, I have been זָרִיקְנָא (zariqna), throwing, the stone at Samael, a stone of siege [alluding to the musical intonation זַרְקָא (zarqa), thrown. On the image of prayer shot from a sling, see Bahir §89–§91, §178; Zohar 1:23a–24b (TZ); cf. Judges 20:16]. I have ruined his siege and lowered him down. Therefore, I said to you, Let not the buckler of armor boast like the unfastner. Now it is clear to you that, indeed, I do know how mighty men wage battle with swords, with lances, with bows and with slings. We were astonished and could not speak before him. He said to us: Rabbis let us now see who will get נַהֲמָא (nahama), bread, the לֶחֶם הַמּוֹצִיא (leḥem ha-motsi), bread of ‘[Who] brings forth’ (Grace after Meals).

He opened, saying: When it happens that you eat of the bread of the land, you shall תָּרִימוּ (tarimu), present, a donation to YHWH (Numbers 15:19). How is the Shekhinah אַתְרִימָת (atrimat), raised, who is the ה (he) of ‘הַמּוֹצִיא (ha-motsi),’ regarding which the Masters of Mishnah have decreed that whoever breaks the bread of הַמּוֹצִיא (ha-motsi) must be precise in pronouncing the ה (he)? [cf. BT Berakhot 38b; ZḤ 87b]. Surely it has been decreed by the Masters of Mishnah that, ‘Chaff and straw are exempt from tithing’ [see, Zohar 2:120b (RM), cf. ibid. 2:272a; TZ 17, 31a; 69, 114a; TZḤ 113c]. When She is in the chaff and straw She is in prison, and the ה (he) does not have permission to rise to the מ (mem) [Ze’eir Anpin] to become, with it, מַה (Mah), What [numerically equivalent to the full spelling of יהוה (YHWH): יוד הא ואו הא (Yod, He, Vav, He)]. This is the meaning of תְרוּמָה (terumah), raise, which is the ה״ (five) of the five books of Torah, in which it says: and Moses was on the mountain forty days… (Exodus 24:18) [תְרוּמָה (terumah) can be read as: תּוֹרָה מ״ (Torah arba’im), Law forty].

Our Rabbis referred to the chaff and straw of the wheat, when they said that the tree of which Adam ate was wheat [see BT Berakhot 40a]. For by eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, he drew ח״ט (ḥet, tet), chaff and straw [alluding to חֵטְא (ḥet), offence], near the ה (he) [Shekhinah]. י״ (Ten) was gone from it, its tithing, therefore, when She is in straw and chaff which correspond to the removal of the foreskin and the uncovering of the male organ it is exempt from tithing [two layers of skin cover the penis, one of which is cut off and the other is cut open in פּרִיעָה (peri’ah), uncovering, at a ritual circumcision]. For י (yod) has no permission to join ה (he), which are man and woman. And this is the mystery of י (yod) in אִישׁ וְאִשָּׁה (ish ve-ishah), man and woman [cf. BT Sotah 17a]. Therefore, whoever breaks the bread must be precise pronouncing ה (he) and must break the bread where it is nicely baked, because ripening is the completion of fruit.

Ten things one should perform for the meal: first is washing hands; second is preparation of the two loaves for Sabbath [see BT Berakhot 39b; Shabbat 117b]; third is to eat of three meals and add from weekdays to holiness; fourth is to light a candle on the table, as was explained, that a table should be to the north side, and the candle on the south, and to recline, as was explained that if they recline together, one makes the blessing for everyone.

And with Sabbath, one should add from the secular to the holy in everything he does, with his food and drink, his clothing and his reclining [cf. Mekhilta, Baḥodesh 7; JT Berakhot 4:1, 7c, 13d; BT Berakhot 27a. Cf. Bereshit Rabbah 11:7; Zohar 2:47b]. He must prepare a fine sofa with many pillows and embroidered cushions from all that he has in his house, as when preparing the marriage canopy for the bride, because Sabbath is both a queen and a bride. And for this reason the Masters of Mishnah used to hasten to come out on Sabbath eve to welcome Her on the way. And they used to say: ‘בֹּאִי כַּלָּה בֹּאִי כַּלָּה (Boi kalah, Boi kalah), Come, O bride! Come, O bride!’ [see BT Shabbat 119a: ‘Rabbi Ḥanina robed himself and stood at sunset of Sabbath eve (and) exclaimed, Come and let us go forth to welcome the queen Sabbath. Rabbi Yannai donned his robes, on Sabbath eve and exclaimed, Come, O bride, Come, O bride!’]. Thus, one should arouse song and gladness for Her on that table.

There is yet another secret: just as one should receive a lady by lighting many lamps [so too] for the Sabbath, and with many delights, fine clothes, a house arrayed with many adornments, and with a beautiful sofa arranged for everyone. For gladness and preparation cause the evil slavegirl to remain in the dark in hunger, in weeping, in mourning, and in black dress like a widow. When this one is filled, this one is parched.

The good impulse is the Holy Matronita. The holy מַלְכוּת (Malkhut), Kingdom, that descends on Sabbath, comprised of ten sefirot. She is decorated with seven names that are not erased, with many chariots of living beings, and with many armies and camps. The King goes out to Her with many camps, and the evil impulse, which is the [wicked] slavegirl remains in the dark, like a widow without her husband, without [any] chariots.

It was said of those who sacrifice and burn incense to the queen of the heavens and the constellations, which I did not command (Deuteronomy 17:3), worship the slavegirl that rules on the eve of Sabbath and the eve of the fourth day. What do they do? They wear black clothes, extinguish their lights, and lament on Sabbath nights to join with her, because One against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14) [cf. Zohar 2:275a; Ibn Ezra, Perush ha-Torah on Exodus 20:14; Idel, Saturn’s Jews, p. 31–2, n. 120].

After Israel sinned and the Temple was destroyed, it is said regarding the Shekhinah, Holy Mother: How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How has she become like a widow! (Lamentations 1:1). People extinguish lamps and candles on the ninth of Av, and sit like mourners to join in the sorrow of the Shekhinah, because they caused Her all this calamity [but not on the Sabbath].

Fifth is the כּוֹס (kos), cup, for saying, וַיְכֻלּוּ (vayekhullu), then they were completed (Genesis 2:1). Sixth is to speak words of Torah at the table. Seventh is to extend the meal and allow the poor to come to the table. Eighth is washing hands with finger bowl water. Ninth is the blessing after the meal. Tenth is the cup for the blessing [after the meal]. It is necessary to repeat [these ten things] and to order them in accordance with the holy mystery, for She is comprised of ten sefirot. She is the table of the blessed Holy One from the side of Gevurah. Hence, the Rabbis have explained that the table should face the north [see Exodus 26:35, 40:22; BT Yoma 21b, 33b].

First, washing of hands: the Rabbis of the Mishnah explained ‘Filthy hands are unfit for blessing, because they are twice removed from uncleanness’ (BT Berakhot 53b). Unclean hands are the cause of defilement, being once removed from uncleanness. Clean hands are twice removed from uncleanness and are fit to bless, because blessing rests only on purity, since blessing rests on a priest, who is a pure man, a man of Ḥesed. This is: Like goodly oil on the head (Psalms 133:2). Therefore, Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus shall you bless the Israelites’ (Numbers 6:23). It was explained that every priest who blesses is blessed, and if he does not bless he is not blessed. The Masters of Mishnah have further explained that any blessing that does not have a recitation of the Name and Malkhut, is not considered a blessing, since Malkhut is Adonai.

In addition, hands should be washed up to the joint because it was decreed [to wash] י״ד (fourteen) joints. At that time, the יַד (yad), hand, of YHWH rests on him. It is the hand of blessing from the side of Ḥesed, wherein Ḥokhmah lies in the right hand. It is the hand of holiness from the side of Gevurah that prevails in Judgment. It is also the hand of unification from the aspect of Tif’eret. This rests on the fourteen joints of the body, because there are twelve joints in the two arms and in the two legs, three joints in each for a sum of six and together they are twelve. Together with the two in the body and the genital organ, they amount to fourteen.

Three times fourteen equals forty-two; ייי (yod, yod, yod) of יַד (yad), יַד (yad), יַד (yad), alludes to יְבָרֶכְךָ (yivarekha), bless you… יָאֵר (ya’er), light up… יִשָּׂא (yisa), lift up (Numbers 6:24–25) from יְהוָה יְהוָה יְהוָה (YHWH, YHWH, YHWH). דדד (Dalet, dalet, dalet) of יַד (yad), יַד (yad), יַד (yad) are implied in אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), אֲדֹנָי (Adonai). Of them the prophet said: The temple of YHWH, the temple of YHWH, the temple of YHWH, are these (Jeremiah 7:4) [הֵיכַל (heikhal), temple, is numerically equivalent to אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)]. Thus is established the washing of hands [comprised of י״ד (fourteen) joints].

Every side is comprised of three faces of the living beings which are יְהוָה יְהוָה יְהוָה (YHWH, YHWH, YHWH), and the three wings of the living beings are דדד (dalet, dalet, dalet). They must all derive from the power of man: יוֹד וָאו דָּלֶת הֵא אָלֶף וָאו אָלֶף וָאו הֵא אָלֶף (Yod, Vav, Dalet, He, Alef, Vav, Alef, Vav, He, Alef) [כֹּחַ (koaḥ), power, is numerically equivalent to twenty-eight, the number of letters in this doubly full spelling of יהוה (YHWH), and the number of joints in the human hands. Furthermore, אָדָם (adam), human, corresponds to the simple full spelling of יהוה (YHWH): יוד הא ואו הא (Yod, He, Vav, He), since each are numerically equivalent to forty-five]. The Matronita does not dwell in his power until all the filth of the wicked, unfit slavegirl, wife to the unfit, is removed. Therefore, the Masters of Mishnah explained that ‘Filthy hands are unfit to make a blessing’ (BT Berakhot 53b).

This water is for cleansing the hand upon which the hand of YHWH rests. The hand of YHWH is water of Torah. The ignorant people are considered like unclean reptiles [see BT Pesaḥim 49b]. What good will immersing in water do them, holding in their hand that reptile, which is the wicked slavegirl, stolen goods in their possession, the stolen blessings they stole from the blessed Holy One. They do not know what a blessing is, or what filth is.

Immediately after the Companions and I heard these words, we could not bear to wait for him to finish each of these ten matters of blessings. We bowed before him, saying ‘Certainly, there is no one who could speak these matters except for you, since you are comparable to the four divisions of the Garden of Eden [see Genesis 2:10]. If a person enters the children’s section, he becomes a child; in the youth’s section he becomes a youth; in the young men’s section, he becomes a young man, and in the elder’s section, he becomes an elder. Therefore, it is written of you: מִמְּכוֹן שִׁבְתּוֹ הִשְׁגִּיחַ אֶל כָּל יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ (mimkhon shivto hishegiḥa el kal yoshvei ha-arets), from his firm throne he surveyed all who dwell on the earth (Psalms 33:14). Also, it is about you that it says: for he is but flesh. [Let his days be a hundred and twenty years] (Genesis 6:3) [בְּשַׁגַּם (beshagam), for, in as much, is numerically equivalent to מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses, see BT Ḥullin 139b]. For you were present in the generation of the dispersion, and in every generation [you return] by rolling like a wheel that turns round in many ways, yet you revealed yourself only at that generation when Torah was given at your hands [cf. BT Yoma 38b; BT Ḥagigah 13b–14a; Bahir §195].

As soon as you departed from the world you became like the sun that shines in every generation [cf. Zohar 1:147a]. Even when the sun is gathered at night, it illuminates the moon and 600,000 stars [cf. BT Bava Batra 75a: ‘The face of Moses was like that of the sun, the face of Joshua like that of the moon;’ BT Pesaḥim 94a–b]. So are you who shine on the 600,000 people in each and every generation. That is what Qohelet indicated in the verse: A generation goes and a generation comes (Ecclesiastes 1:4). The Rabbis have explained that a generation does not consist of less than 600,000 people [cf. Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 4:2]. He [namely, Rabbi Akiva] also explained the generation that passes away is the one that comes [see Bahir §121–§122]. This fulfills: מַה שֶּׁהָיָה הוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה (mah shehayah hu sheyihyeh), that which was is that, which will be [and that which was done is that which will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun] (Ecclesiastes 1:9) [מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses]. From here on, complete the ten matters of the Sabbath table openly. The Faithful Shepherd said: ‘Holy Lamp, blessed is your lot that the blessed Holy One revealed to you what He has not revealed to any prophet or seer’ [cf. BT Bava Batra 12a].

Second is to break bread over two loaves of bread on Sabbath, which are alluded to in the two tablets of Torah that were given on the Sabbath in pairs. On the third day they descended [from the Heavens, i.e., Tif’eret], on which it was said טוֹב (tov), good, twice [since it comprises right and left]. On the Sabbath Torah was given, in which there are two females, which correspond to twice טוֹב (tov), good. Though it was explained that demons are assigned to [harm] pairs as has been explained [one must not eat] two eggs or two nuts, yet if this is so, why are two loaves of bread used on Sabbath, seeing they are a pair? [see BT Pesaḥim 110b]. He responds, it is a halakhah from Moses at Sinai that those sent on pious missions will meet no evil [see BT Qiddushin 39b; cf. Pesaḥim 8a; Yoma 11a].

You may wonder why we learned that one should not begin anything on the second day or finish on the fourth day because they are pairs, which applies to matters of decrees as well, even though those sent on pious missions meet no evil. [He answers,] this is when with the motley throng, who are never sent on pious missions, because they have not converted for Heaven’s sake. [Then it is] forbidden to begin on the second day or the fourth day. However, the righteous, who have no connection with the motley throng may start on the second day and the fourth day for the sake of performing a decree, because those sent on a pious mission shall come to no harm. Therefore, after they were gone from the world [i.e., after the sin of the golden calf] the blessed Holy One commanded to take two stone tablets like the first ones (Exodus 34:1), saying: and I shall write on the tablets the words which were on the first tablets (ibid.) [and He did not mind the pairs].

Two loaves of bread on Sabbath indicate the יוֹדִין (yodin), two yods [in] יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNHY). For אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) [Malkhut] is alone without Her husband during the six weekdays. On Sabbath He descends to אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) and the combination יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNHY) is formed. Hence, all nishmatin, ruaḥin, and nafshin leave and come down in pairs on Sabbath, and no adversary or harmer, has power on the Sabbath day. Even Hell has no power and does not burn on the Sabbath. Therefore, you shall not kindle a fire in all your dwelling places on the sabbath day (Exodus 35:3). That refers to strange fire, but the fire of sacrifice is a fire of holiness. There is no need to speak at length on their apportioning as it was already explained.

Third is to eat three meals on Sabbath, as was explained by the Masters of Mishnah. One of them [Rabbi Yose] said: ‘May my portion be of those who eat three meals on the Sabbath’ (BT Shabbat 118b) [cf. BT Gittin 7a; Bava Batra 10a; Bava Metsi’a 85a; Nedarim 40a; Berakhot 15b; Pesaḥim 118a; Shabbat 118a], which complete the seven blessings in the Amidah by bringing them to a total of ten. The secret of עֹנֶג (oneg), delight, is: וְנָהָר יֹצֵא מֵעֵדֶן לְהַשְׁקוֹת אֶת הַגָּן (ve-nahar ma-eden le-hashqot et ha-gan), now a river runs out of Eden to water the garden (Genesis 2:10). Whoever can but does not observe them, for him the עֹנֶג (oneg), delight, turns into scaly נֶגַע (nega), affliction. In order that he should not come to this, the blessed Holy One says: Borrow on Me and I will pay, Then shall תִּתְעַנַּג (tit’annag), you delight yourself, upon YHWH (Isaiah 58:14).

Fourth is to light the table with a candelabra, as was decreed by the ancients, that a table should be at the north and the candelabra at the south, for the table of the blessed Holy One [Malkhut], should be set in this manner. Fifth is the wine cup of וַיְכֻלּוּ (vayekhullu), then they were completed (Genesis 2:1). The sum of כּוֹס (kos), cup, is that of אֱלֹהִים (Elohim). וַיְכֻלּוּ (Vayekhullu)—[numerically equivalent to] seventy-two which the Holy Bride comprises [i.e., the number of words said over the cup at the sanctification of the Sabbath is likewise seventy-two, as is the numerical value of מְלֹא (melo), fullness]. The כּוֹס (kos), cup, is filled with the wine of Torah which must bear testimony to the Work of Creation.

Sixth is to have words of Torah at one’s table, because that is how the Masters of Mishnah decreed ‘Three who eat at one table, and do not speak words of Torah, [they are as if they had eaten of sacrifices of dead idols]’ (M Avot 3:4). The secret is that they have decreed that the table should be to the north and that Torah was given from the right. In order to join the right, which is Compassion, with the left, which is Judgment. Torah is YHWH [Ze’eir Anpin] which was given from the right, and the table is אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) [Malkhut] which is from the left [i.e., north]. One must join them, since that table is at the left side, the Masters of Mishnah have explained that a person’s sustenance is as difficult to obtain as the splitting of the Reed Sea [see BT Pesaḥim 118b (in the name of Rabbi El’azar son of Azariyah); Bereshit Rabbah 97:3 (in the name of Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi); Zohar 1:207b; 2:52b, 170a; 3:292b (IZ); ZḤ 86d (MhN, Rut)]. Therefore, one should invite for himself a Torah scholar, who will study Torah.

Seventh is to stay a long time at the table for the lowly. Whoever stays long at the table will have his days and years extended. For that reason: righteousness saves from death (Proverbs 10:2). Since a poor man is like a dead man whom he revives the blessed Holy One also revives him [BT Berakhot 54b–55a: ‘Rav Yehudah said, There are three matters which, if one prolongs their duration, extend a person’s days and years: … one who prolongs his mealtime…. Regarding prolonging one’s mealtime, perhaps a poor person will come and he will give him’; ZḤ 86d].

Furthermore, a secret explanation: All the poor originate from the aspect of ד (dalet), about which it is said: דַּלּוֹתִי (Dalloti), I plunged down, but He did rescue me (Psalms 116:6). The pronunciation of ד (dalet) in אֶחָד (eḥad), one (Deuteronomy 6:4), should be prolonged. That is meant by the verse: in order that he may long endure in his kingship (Deuteronomy 17:20). Therefore, it is incumbent on one to stay long at the table, which is ד (dalet), because it has ד״ (four) legs. In honor of ד (dalet), one should stay long at the table for the sake of the lowly.

In relation to it the Rabbis explained that the blessed Holy One sought a beautiful quality for Israel, and found only the quality of דַלּוּת (dallut), poverty [see Tanna devei Eliyyahu Zuta 5]. A difficulty was raised here, since the ancients explained that the number of different deaths is equivalent to the sum of תֹּצָאוֹת (totsaot), ways out (Psalms 68:21), and that an empty pocket is the most difficult. How could it be said He found no better quality for Israel than poverty?

It is only because about each people and tongue, [And they shall pass through it, hardpressed and hungry:] and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall be enraged, and curse their king and their god, and look upward (Isaiah 8:21). However, the children of Israel are in a covenant with the blessed Holy One, also with this quality [poverty] and do not deny His existence. Hence they shall be redeemed by this quality. This is: a lowly people You rescue (2 Samuel 22:28). עָנִי (Ani), lowly, is derived from עִנּוּי (innui), suffering, since even when one has wealth but suffers from illnesses and afflictions, he is considered lowly. Or he is distressed [due to his wealth] and is afflicted every day. This is surely true for one who is lowlier than him, and must wander from place to place.

Another [kind of] עָנִי (ani), lowly one, who lost his mind like Job, about whom, it is said: Job speaks without דַעַת (da’at), knowledge (Job 34:35). So too is ד (dalet), which is the Shekhinah. When א״ח (alef, ḥet) [of אֶחָד (eḥad), one] were gone from Her, which is the middle pillar called דַּעַת (Da’at), Knowledge. And one [who is without knowledge] does not incur guilt with [improper] speech. Furthermore, א״ח (alef, ḥet) is Torah which is comprised of the 613 decrees. This is the meaning of: That is My name forever and thus am I invoked in all ages (Exodus 3:15). שְּׁמִי (Shemi), My name, plus יָהּ (Yah) is 365, and זִכְרִי (Zikhri), am I invoked, plus ו״ה (vav, he) is 248. Therefore it has been explained that one is lowly only in Torah and mitsvot. This is because the other lowly people suffer [but are not poor]. ד (Dalet) of אֲדֹנָי (Adonai), is also lowly without יְהֹוָה (YHWH).

Eighth is the finger bowl water that was instituted due to the salt of Sodom that is blinding to the eyes [see BT Ḥullin 105b: ‘Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabbi Ḥiyya said: Why did they say that it is obligatory to wash the hands after the meal? Because of a certain salt of Sodom which makes the eyes blind’]. Why is it considered obligatory? According to the mystery of the matter, deadly poison rests on filthy hands, with which one makes a blessing, and on a cup, over which one makes a blessing without cleanliness, and it is considered defiled. Just as a cup from which people drank is considered unclean for a blessing until it is cleansed by rinsing it inside and out, the hands all the more so. Hence finger bowl water is obligatory. The mystery is: And you shall sanctify yourselves (Leviticus 20:7)—washing of hands before the meal. And you shall become holy (ibid.)—finger bowl water. For I am Holy—fragrant ointment. [These three things] correspond to Holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6:3). And you shall sanctify yourselves—so that it shall be known that you are children of the blessed Holy One. That is what is meant by: You are children to YHWH your God (Deuteronomy 14:1).

Ninth is the cup of blessing. As has been explained by the Masters of Mishnah, ten things were said about this cup of blessing, which are: decorating, wrapping, washing, rinsing, unmixed wine, full cup, receiving it with both hands and leaving it with the right, raising it from the surface a handbreadth, looking at it, and sending it as a gift to the members of his household [cf. BT Berakhot 51a; Zohar 1:1a, 156a (ST), 240a, 250a; 2:138b, 143b, 157b; 3:245a–b (RM)]. Now we have only four, which are washing, rinsing, unmixed wine, and a full cup. Some say the wine should be taken unmixed from the cask, and water may be added to it in the cup. Some say that unmixed wine means the cup should be whole [i.e., undiluted] because its breaking is its death [on mixed and unmixed wine, see Isaiah 1:22; 65:11; Proverbs 9:2, 5; 23:30–32; BT Berakhot 50b; Sanhedrin 70a; 2 Maccabees 15:39].

כּוֹס (Kos), cup, according to the way of wisdom: אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) is מָלֵּא (malle), full, with יָהּ (Yah) [Malkhut is אִלֵּם (illem), mute, when in a state of קַטנוּת (qatnut), constriction, empty of יָהּ (Yah), cf. BT Gittin 56b; Ginnat Egoz 11c; 13d; Zohar 1:36b; 3:221a (RM)], and they are whole. However, כּוֹס (kos), cup, without ו (vav) is כֵּס (kes), throne, instead of כִּסֵּא (kisse), throne, deficient and lacking without א (alef). It is lacking without ו (vav), and is deficient. הַכִּסֵּא (Ha-kisse), the Throne, is numerically equivalent to כּוֹס (kos), cup.

כּוֹס (Kos), cup, is ה״ (five) [reckoned according to its reduced numerical value] and ten things are needed, parallel to י (yod) [in order to draw the fifty gates of Binah, see BT Rosh ha-Shanah 21b; Nedarim 38a: ‘Fifty gates of Binah were created in the world, and all were given to Moses save one, as it says, And You made him little less than אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) (Psalms 8:6)’], and they are: crowning—סוֹד הָעַטָרָה (sod ha-atarah), secret of the corona, the עֲטֶרֶת תִּפְאֶרֶת (ateret tif’eret), Diadem of Beauty [Malkhut of יְסוֹד (Yesod)]. And this is the mystery of coronation with which our patriarchs, of blessed memory, would crown disciples, and She is the עֲטֶרֶת הַבְּרִית (ateret ha-berit), Diadem of the Covenant [i.e., the covenant of circumcision]. עִטּוּף (Ittuf), wrapping: A prayer for the lowly when יַעֲטֹף (ya’atof), he covers (Psalms 102:1)—all of these blessings and prayers are covered together until the prayer of the lowly rises.

Washing and rinsing, these are like: and cleanse it and consecrate it (Leviticus 16:19). Cleansing is from the right—Ḥesed. Consecrating is from the left—Gevurah. The cup of blessing [Malkhut] is from the aspect of Binah called אֱלֹהִים (Elohim). עֲטָרָה (Atarah), corona, is from the aspect of כֶּתֶר (keter), Crown. חַי (Ḥai), unmixed, is from the aspect of Yesod [חֵי עָלְמִין (ḥei almin), Vitality of Worlds], called Peace, as is written: neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, says YHWH that has mercy on you (Isaiah 54:10) [rather, it will live forever, and thus Malkhut is called חַי (Ḥai), Living, from this aspect]. Full is from the aspect of Tif’eret. Receiving with two hands is הה (he, he) [of יהוה (YHWH)].

Leaving is with the right hand. Upper ה (he)—Ḥesed; lower ה (he)—Gevurah. Lifting off the surface a handbreadth is the mystery of י (yod), since ה (he) is raised by י (yod) [meaning that one should raise the five sefirot of Malkhut from Her place, which is the mystery of the surface, multiply Her by י״ (ten), and meditate on Her receiving the fifty gates of Binah]. Looking with the eyes is the mystery of יְאֲהדֹוָנָהִי (YAHDWNHY) since יהוה (YHWH) shines in the pupil of the eye [אֲדֹנָי (Adonai)]. יהוה (YHWH) is white, red and green, [Ḥesed, Gevurah and Tif’eret of Ze’eir Anpin (Sullam)]. Adonai shines in the two eyelids, as well as the two pupils [of the eye and hair of the eyelashes (ibid.)]. Sending a gift to the members of the household is Binah, of which is written: ‘Let Moses rejoice in the gift of his portion’ (Sabbath Morning Liturgy) [since Moses merited Binah and one must attach the cup, which is Malkhut, to the lights of Binah (ibid.)].

Tenth is blessing after the meal. It was explained by the Rabbis: with three כּוֹס (kos), a cup, is needed [at the dining table, i.e., God, must be present when three, or more, people eat together at one table, see M Avot 3:4; כּוֹס (kos), cup, and אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), God, are numerically equivalent]. And the mystery of the matter: אַהֲבַת כְּלוּלֹתָיִךְ (ahavat kelulotayikh), the love of your betrothals (Jeremiah 2:2)—[read: לְאַבוֹתָיִךְ הַכֹּל (le-avotayikh ha-kol), to your fathers: all] the Patriarchs: בַּכֹּל (bakol), in all (Genesis 24:1), מִכֹּל (mikol), of all (ibid. 27:33, cf. ibid. 25:5), כֹל (khol), all (ibid. 33:11). But we should not speak at length of it.

How do we know that grace after meals is from the Torah? Because it is written: And you will eat and be sated and bless YHWH your God [on the goodly land He has given you] (Deuteronomy 8:10). And we learned in a barraita: and blessfeeds. YHWH your Godgrace after meals. On the land—blessing on the land. The goodly—builds Jerusalem. Thus, it says, this goodly high country, and the Lebanon (Deuteronomy 3:25). But this is only after [the meal], where is [proof of the requirement to recite a blessing] before [the meal]? It is said: He has given you—from the time it is given to you [i.e., even before eating] you must bless Him [cf. JT Berakhot 7:1, 5a–b; BT Berakhot 35a].

The sages, of blessed memory, have interpreted that Moses instituted for the Israelites the blessing ‘[who] feeds’ when manna descended on them. Joshua instituted for them blessing the land in the time of the rallying for the land. David and Solomon instituted the blessing for the building of Jerusalem. Moreover, an allusion to grace after meals is found in the portion Manna, in the manna itself: ‘In the morning you shall have your fill of bread, and you shall know that I am YHWH your God’ (Exodus 16:12).

Rabbi Shim’on said: The mystery of these seven זַיְינִין (zayinin) that are inscribed on the tefillin, is that the ז (zayin) in the ש (shin) allude to the seven lobes in man’s lung, by which he draws air and exhales with it a fiery spark from his mouth [since a breath is composed of fire, water, and air, see Sefer Yetsirah §10–§14]. They also allude to the seven days and the weeks from Passover to Shavuot. Also, they allude to the seven branches of the candelabra, on which there are seven holy lamps. They also allude to the seven stars that shine in the firmament and they allude to the seven rungs by which the world is maintained, which are the foundation, root and essence of everything [i.e., the seven planets and seven lower sefirot]. The Companions said about these that whoever wishes to put on the head tefillin has to examine these two שִׁינִין (shinin) hinted in the seven זַיְינִין (zayinin), for hinted in them are hidden mysteries and deep allusions” (Zohar 3:272a–74b, Ra’aya Meheimna Eqev [for various additional customs pertaining to the Sabbath, see Zohar 2:206b–209a; 3:244b (RM)]).

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).

All Blessings Above and Below Depend upon the Seventh Day

Mughal Jaisalmer India“It was taught: They related concerning Shammai, the Elder [that] all his life he ate in honor of the Sabbath. [Thus] if he found a well-favored animal he said, ‘Let this be for the Sabbath.’ [If afterwards] he found one better favoured he put aside the second [for the Sabbath] and ate the first. But Hillel the Elder had a different trait, for all his works were for the sake of heaven, for it is said: Blessed be the Master day after day (Psalms 68:20). It was likewise taught: House of Shammai says: מחד שביך לשבתיך (meḥad shabakh le’shabatikh), From the first day of the week [prepare] for your Sabbath [in Aramaic the saying sort of rhymes and is a cue to prompt people to think of the coming Sabbath]; but House of Hillel says: Blessed be the Master day after day (Psalms 68:20)” (BT Beitsah 16a).

“And on the seventh day, He ceased and breathed (Exodus 31:17). What is יִּנָּפַשׁ (yinafash), breathed? To teach you that the Sabbath sustains all הַנֶפֶשׁוֹת (ha-nefeshot), the souls [of Israel]. It is therefore written וַיִּנָּפַשׁ (vayinafash)and breathed [cf. Exodus 23:12; Psalms 19:8]” (Bahir §57).

“What is this שְׁבִיתָה (shevitah), rest? It is the absence of work. It is a cessation which is called שַׁבָּת (shabbat), Sabbath. What is this like? A king had seven gardens, and the middle one contained a fountain, welling up from a living source. Three are at its right, and three are at its left. When it performed its function and overflowed, they all rejoiced, saying, ‘It overflowed for our sake.’ It waters them and makes them grow, while they wait and rest.

Do we then say that it waters the seven? But it is written, From the east I bring your seed (Isaiah 43:5). This indicates that one of them waters it. We must therefore say that it waters the Heart, and the Heart then waters them all” (Bahir §159).

You are a fountain in the garden, a well of living waters that stream from Lebanon (Song of Songs 4:15).

“Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Every single day the world is blessed by that supernal day, for all six days are blessed by the seventh day. And every single day conveys the blessing it has received through the day inherent in it. Therefore Moses said, Let no one leave any of it over until morning (Exodus 16:19). Why? Because one day does not give or add to its fellow. Rather, every single one reigns alone in its own time, no day ruling on its fellow’s day’” (Zohar 2:63b).

“Rabbi Ammi said, ‘Rabbi Yoḥanan disputed [this practice of saying the Sabbath Eve Prayer while it is yet day].’ But he had no cause to dispute this. Why? For we are permitted to take [time] from the profane [weekdays] and add it to the holy [Sabbath]” (JT Berakhot 4:1, 13d).

“Yosef who cherishes Sabbaths had in his neighbourhood a certain gentile who owned much property. Chaldeans [i.e., astrologers] told him, ‘Yosef who cherishes Sabbaths will consume all your property—he went, sold all his property, and bought a precious stone, which he set in his turban. As he was crossing a bridge the wind blew it off and cast it into the water, [and] a fish swallowed it. It was hauled up and brought [to market] on the Sabbath eve towards sunset. They said: ‘Who will buy now?’ ‘Go and take them to Yosef who cherishes Sabbaths, as he is accustomed to buy,’ they said. So they took it to him. He bought it, opened it, found the jewel inside, and sold it for thirteen vessels of gold denarii. A certain old man met him [and] said, ‘He who lends to the Sabbath, the Sabbath repays him’” (BT Shabbat 119a).

“All blessings above and below depend upon the seventh day. And it has been taught: Why did manna not appear on the seventh day? Because from that day all six supernal days are blessed, and every single one conveys nourishment, each on its day, from the blessing bestowed upon it on the seventh day.

Therefore, whoever attains the rung of faith should arrange his table on the eve of Sabbath, so that his table may be blessed through out those six days [which is why House of Hillel say: Blessed be the Master day after day]. For at that time blessing is prepared for all six days of the week, and no blessing appears on an empty table. Consequently, one should arrange his table on Sabbath eve with bread and food.

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Even on the Sabbath day too!’” (Zohar 2:88a–b).

“בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), In the beginning (Genesis 1:1)—יְרֵא שַׁבָּת (yere shabbat), fear of Sabbath, which is the Shekhinah, of this it says, Those who profane it are doomed to die [for whosoever does a task on it, that person shall be cut off from the midst of his people] (Exodus 31:14)” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 24b).

The Earth Opened its Mouth and Swallowed Them Measure for Measure

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And the human knew Eve his woman and she conceived and bore קַיִן (qayin), Cain, and she said, “I have got me, a man with YHWH. And she bore as well his brother הֶבֶל (hevel), Abel, and Abel became a herder of sheep while Cain was a tiller of the soil. And it happened in the course of time that Cain brought from the fruit of the soil an offering to YHWH. And Able too had brought from the choice firstlings of his flock, and YHWH regarded Abel and his offering but He did not regard Cain and his offering, and Cain was very incensed, and his face fell…. And Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field Cain rose against Abel his brother and killed him. And YHWH said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said,“I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” And He said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cry out to me from the soil. And so, cursed shall you be by the soil that gaped with its mouth to take your brother’s blood from your hand.” And Cain said to YHWH, “My punishment is too great to bear” (Genesis 4:1–11).

And Cain said to Abel his brother, ‘Let us go out to the field’ (Genesis 4:8). And it was when the two of them had gone out to the field, Cain said to Abel, ‘There is no judgment, and there is no judge, and there is no other world, and there is no gift of good reward for the righteous, and there is no punishment for the wicked. And the world was not created in compassion and it is not governed with compassion. For what reason was your offering accepted from you with favor, but from me it was not accepted with favor?!’ Abel said to him, ‘There is judgment and there is a Judge and there is another world, and there is a gift of good reward for the righteous, and punishment for the wicked. The world was created in compassion and it is governed with compassion. Because the fruits of [my] good deeds were better than yours, my offering was accepted from me with favor but from you it was not accepted with favor.’ And the two of them were arguing in the field and Cain rose against Abel his brother and killed him (ibid.)” (Fragment Targum).

“From the filth [injected into Eve by the primordial serpent] Cain came forth and killed Abel the shepherd, of whom it is written: For he is but flesh (Genesis 6:3). בְּשַׁגַּם (Beshagam), for (ibid.), is Abel, and he killed him, as is known. However, בְּשַׁגַּם (beshagam), for, [he is but flesh. Let his days be a hundred and twenty years] is certainly [a hint to] Moses and he was firstborn of the [primordial] human [בְּשַׁגַּם (beshagam), for, is numerically equivalent to מֹשֶׁה (moshe), Moses, see BT Ḥullin 139b].

And with all this, for the sake of covering the nakedness of his father, Moses took the daughter of Jethro to be his wife. Of Jethro, it is written: And the sons of the Kenite, the father-in-law of Moses (Judges 1:16)—this has already been explained [see Sifrei Bemidbar, Be-Ha’alotekha, 78; Shemot Rabbah 27:7; Mekhilta Yitro, Amaleq, 1; Tanḥuma, Shemot, 11; cf. BT Bava Batra 109b; Zohar 3:215b (RM)]. Why was Jethro called Kenite? Because he detached himself from Cain, as is written: And Heber הַקֵּינִי (ha-qeni), the Kenite, had separated from קַיִן (qayin), Cain (Judges 4:11) [on Jethro’s seven names, see Mekhilta de-Rabbi Yishma’el, Amaleq, 3]” (Zohar 1:28b, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

“And they taught about Jethro: Why is his name called ‘Kenite?’ Because הַקֵּינִי (ha-qeni), the Kenite, had separated from קַיִן (qayin), Cain (Judges 4:11). The Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai] rose and said: Therefore it is said: קָנִיתִי (Qaniti)I have got me, a man with YHWH (Genesis 4:1), for [Eve] saw through the Holy Spirit that in the future [Jethro’s] sons would sit in the Chamber of Hewn Stone [meeting place of the Sanhedrin, see BT Sotah 11a]” (Zohar 3:215b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

He who sheds human blood by humans [his blood will be shed] (Genesis 9:6)—that very man himself. The one slain will kill the one who killed him, according to ‘Because you drowned [them], they drowned you…’ (M Avot 2:7). Thus Abel killed Cain in the days of Moses, and the death of Korah by swallowing, measure for measure, is known. Like Korah, test and demand with warp and woof and you will find a wondrous secret [i.e., comb the fabric of the text (Numbers 16:1) lengthwise and breadthwise. Cf. M Kil’ayim 9:8; BT Sanhedrin 110a]” (Rabbi Menaḥem Tsiyyoni, Sefer Tsiyyoni, Qoraḥ, 82):

וַיִּקַּח קֹרַח בֶּן יִצְהָר בֶּן קְהָת בֶּן לֵוִי (Va-yiqaḥ qoraḥ ben yitshar ben qehat ben levi), and Korah son of Izhar son of Kohath son of Levi, and Datham and Abiram sons of Eliab and On son of Peleth sons of Reuben, took up, and they rose before Moses, and two hundred fifty men of the Israelites, community chieftains, persons called up to meeting, men of renown. And they assembled against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have too much! For all the community, they are all holy, and in their midst is YHWH, and why should you raise yourselves up over YHWH’s assembly?” And Moses heard and fell on his face…. The ground that was under them split apart, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households and every human being that was Korah’s, and all his possessions (Numbers 16:1–4, 32)—קַיִן (qayin), Cainהֶבֶל (hevel), Abel.

“‘Rabbi Akiva said: The company of Korah has no share in the world that is coming. Rabbi Eli’ezer said: YHWH kills and gives life, brings down to Sheol and raises up (1 Samuel 2:6)’ (M Sanhedrin 10:3). Our Rabbis taught: for it is said, And the earth covered over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly (Numbers 16:33)—this is Rabbi Akiva’s view. Rabbi Yehudah son of Batira said: They are as a lost article, which is sought, for it is said, I have wandered like a lost sheep. Seek Your servant, for Your commands I did not forget (Psalms 119:176).

Korah took (Numbers 16:1). Resh Laqish said: He took a bad bargain [or: purchase] for himself, being plucked out of Israel [קֵרֵחַ (qereaḥ), baldness, puns on קֹרַח (qora), Korah]. Son of יִצְהָר (yitshar), Izhar (ibid.)—a son who incensed the whole world with himself as the [heat of] צֹהַרִים (tsoharim), noon. Son of קְהָת (qehat)Kohath (ibid.)—a son who קֵהֶה (qeheh), set on edge, the teeth of his progenitors [i.e., who disgraced his parents]. Son of לֵוִי (levi), Levi (ibid.)—a son who joined the לְוָיָה (levayah), retinue, of Hell. Then why not say too ‘son of יַעֲקֹב (ya’aqov), Jacob,’ [implying] a son who עַקָב (eqev), marched, himself into Hell?—Rabbi Shemu’el son of Rabbi Yitsḥaq answered: Jacob supplicated for himself [not to be counted amongst Korah’s ancestors], as is written, In their council let me never set foot, their assembly my presence shun (Genesis 49:6): In their council let me never set foot—the spies [in no case is the genealogy of the spies traced to Jacob (Rashi)]; their assembly my presence shun—to the company of Korah. דָתָן (Datan), Datham [Korah’s ally], (ibid.)—stepped over the דָת (dat), law, of God; אֲבִירָם (Aviram), Abiram (ibid.)—stoutly refused to repent; אוֹן (on), On (ibid.)—he sat in אֹנינוֹת (oninot), lamentations; פֶּלֶת (pelet), Peleth (ibid.)—פֶּלֶאוֹת (pele’ot), wonders, were done for him [since he abandoned the conspiracy, and was miraculously saved from its fate]; son of רְאוּבֵן (reuven), Reuben—a son who רֵאָה (re’ah), saw, and הַבִין (havin), understood.

Rav said: On son of Peleth was saved by his wife. She said to him, ‘What does it matter to you? Whether the one [Moses] remains master or the other [Korah] becomes master, you are but a disciple.’ He replied, ‘But what can I do? I have taken part in their counsel, and they have sworn me [to be] with them.’ She said, ‘I know that they are all a holy community, as is written, For all the community, they are all holy (Numbers 16:3). Sit here, and I will save you.’ She gave him wine to drink, intoxicated him and laid him down within [the tent]. Then she sat down there at the entrance and loosened her hair. Whoever came [to summon him] saw her and retreated.

Meanwhile, Korah’s wife joined [the rebels] and said to him [Korah], ‘See what Moses has done. He himself has become king; his brother he appointed High Priest; his brother’s sons he has made the vice High Priests. If terumah is brought, he decrees, Let it be for the priest; if the tithe is brought, which belongs to you [being a Levite], he orders, Give a tenth part thereof to the priest. Moreover, he has had your hair cut off [in accordance with the purification rites of the Levites (see Numbers 8:7)], and makes sport of you as though you were dirt; for he cast his eyes on your hair [i.e., he is envious].’

He said to her, ‘But he has done likewise!’ She replied, ‘Since all the greatness was his, he said also, Let me die with the Philistines! (Judges 16:30) [this was used proverbially to denote readiness to suffer, so that others might suffer too—Moses, retaining all the greatness himself, did not mind shaving his own hair off, seeing that he had caused all the rest to do so, thus depriving them of their beauty]. Moreover, he has commanded you, Set [fringes] of indigo wool [in the corners of your garments (see Numbers 15:38)]; but if there is virtue in indigo wool, then bring forth indigo wool, and clothe your entire academy with it.’

Thus is written, Every wise woman has built her house (Proverbs 14:1)—wife of On son of Peleth; and Folly with her own hands destroys it (ibid.)—Korah’s wife” (BT Sanhedrin 109b–110a).

“Come and see: The Levites, who come from the side of Judgment, are not purified until their hair is removed, as is written: Thus you shall do to them to purify them: sprinkle on them expiation water and have them pass a razor over all their flesh (Numbers 8:7). And in order for them to be further assuaged, the priest, who comes from the side of Ḥesed, must elevate them, as is written: Aaron shall make of the Levites an elevation offering before YHWH (ibid., 11)….

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘The greatest of all Levites was Korah, whom the blessed holy One made below corresponding to the pattern above, calling him קֹרַח (qoraḥ), Korah…. He is קֵרֵחַ (qereaḥ), bald (Leviticus 13:40). When Korah saw his head hairless and saw Aaron bedecked with royal adornments, he felt belittled and was jealous of Aaron [cf. Tanḥuma, Qoraḥ 3; Tanḥuma (Buber), Qoraḥ 6; Bemibar Rabbah 18:4]. The blessed Holy One said to him, ‘I made you corresponding to the pattern above. You do not wish to ascend among those above? Go down and be among those below!—as is written: and they go down alive to Sheol (Numbers 16:30). What is Sheol? Hell, where the wicked cry out and no one has compassion on them. Yet they are destined to ascend and be revived when the blessed Holy One awakens His people and revives them, as is written: YHWH kills and gives life, brings down to Sheol and raises up (1 Samuel 2:6)” (Zohar 3:49a).

“Every conflict that is for the sake of heaven is destined to endure, while any conflict not for the sake of heaven is not destined to endure. Which conflict is for the sake of heaven? The conflict between Hillel and Shammai. Which conflict is not for the sake of heaven? The conflict of Korah and his entire band” (M Avot 5:17, cf. Liqqutei Moharan 64:4).

“Rabbi Abba said in the name of Shemu’el: For three years there was a conflict between the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel. These said, ‘The Halakhah accords with us.’ And the those said, ‘The Halakhah accords with us.’ Then an echo went forth announcing, ‘Both are the words of אֱלֹהִים חַיִּים (Elohim ḥayyim), the living God, but the Halakhah is in accord with the rulings of the House of Hillel.’ Since, however, both are the words of the living God, what was it that entitled the House of Hillel to have the Halakhah fixed in accord with their rulings? Because they were kindly and modest, they studied their own rulings and those of the House of Shammai [see for example BT Berakhot 10b], and were even so [humble] as to mention the words of the House of Shammai before theirs” (BT Eruvin 13b).

“[Rabbi Shim’on ha-Amsoni said:] Just as I received reward for the exposition, so I will receive reward for the retraction [to be defeated by the truth is a defeat which is also a victory]” (BT Pesaḥim 22b).

“Doubts make sages of men” (Midrash Shemu’el on M Avot 5:27).

“In the act of Creation a conflict arose between left and right, and in that conflict aroused by the left, Hell emerged, clinging there. The central pillar, who is the third day, entered between them, mediating the conflict, reconciling the two sides. Hell descended, left merged in right, and peace prevailed over all [cf. Zohar 1:87a].

Similarly the conflict between Korah and Aaron was left against right. Moses, contemplating the act of Creation, said, ‘It is fitting that I mediate the conflict between left and right.’ He endeavored to reconcile them, but the left was unwilling, and Korah stiffened his resistance. He [Moses] said, ‘Hell must certainly join in the heat of the conflict of the left. Since he does not want to join above, merging in the right, he will certainly descend below by the intensity of his rage.’ Korah did not want this conflict to be harmonized by Moses because it was not for the sake of heaven; he cared nothing about the supernal glory and denied the act of Creation. As soon as Moses saw that he had denied the act of Creation and been thrust outside, Moses became very angry (Numbers 16:5). Moses became very angry because they had denied the act of Creation. Korah denied everything above and below, as is written: who strove against Moses and Aaron as part of Korah’s band when they strove against YHWH (ibid. 26:9), below and above. So he joined what befitted him [i.e., Hell, Sheol].

A conflict arrayed as above, ascending, not descending, established rightly, is the conflict of Hillel and Shammai. The blessed holy One mediated between them, harmonizing them. This was a conflict for the sake of heaven, so Heaven [Tif’eret] mediated the conflict, and upon this conflict the world was established. This resembled the act of Creation, whereas Korah totally denied the act of Creation, disputing heaven, seeking to deny the words of Torah. He certainly adhered to Hell, so there he clung. This secret appears in The Book of Adam. When darkness aroused, it aroused intensely, thereby creating Hell, clinging to it in that conflict. As seething fury subsided, conflict of a different type arose: a conflict of love. There were two conflicts: one, beginning; one, ending. This is the way of the righteous: beginning harshly, ending gently [cf. BT Qiddushin 30b]. Korah was the beginning of the conflict: seething in wrath, he was compelled to cling to Hell. Shammai was the end of the conflict, when wrath subsides and one must arouse the conflict of love and be reconciled by heaven” (Zohar 1:17a–b).

“Rabbi Berekhiyah said: What is The words of the wise are כַּדָּרְבֹנוֹת (ka-darvonot), like goads… [given from one shepherd] (Ecclesiastes 12:11)? כַּדוּר שֶׁל בָּנוֹת (Kadur shel banot), a girls’ ball—one tosses it here, and the other tosses it there. So too the Sages, who delve into Talmud and engage in Torah: one gives his reasoning and the other his, one puts forward one account and the other another, but the words of all are from Moses, the shepherd, who received from the Singular One of the world. Since one gives one account and the other another, perhaps their words merely fly about. Therefore it is written, like nails driven in (ibid.)” (Pesiqta Rabbati 3:1).

Composers of collections (Ecclesiastes 12:11)—those who enter and sit assembled in assemblies, declaring what is impure [to be] impure, and what is pure [to be] pure; what is impure in its place, and what is pure in its place.

Should a man think to himself, ‘Since the House of Shammai declare impure and the House of Hillel declare pure, so-and-so forbids, and so-and-so permits, how then shall I learn Torah? Therefore it says [And God spoke] all these words (Exodus 20:1).

Given from one shepherd (Ecclesiastes 12:11)—one God created them. One Leader gave them. The blessed Master of Deeds spoke them. Therefore make of your heart chambers and chambers and bring into it the words of the House of Shammai and the words of the House of Hillel, the words of those who declare impure and the words of those who declare pure” (Tosefta Sotah 7:12, cf. Job 22:22; BT Ḥagigah 3b; Bemidbar Rabbah 14:4).

“One who sees a crowd says, ‘Blessed is He who knows secrets. Just as their faces are different one from the other, so are their opinions different one from the other” (JT Berakhot 9:1, 13b).

“Within Torah is power of the right, as is said: from His right hand, a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2), and left is included in right. Whoever makes right left, and left right, is as if he destroys the world.

Come and see: Aaron is right; Levites are left. Korah sought to change right into left, so he was punished. Furthermore, he possessed the לָשׁוֹן הָרַע (lashon ha-ra), evil tongue, and he was punished entirely.

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Left is always included in right. Korah sought to change the arrangement of above and below, so he was eliminated from above and below.

Korah took (Numbers 16:1). What is meant by took? He took evil counsel for himself. If anyone chases after something that is not his, it escapes him; and what is more, he loses what he has. Korah pursued that which was not his; he lost his own without attaining the other [cf. Tosefta Sotah 4:19; BT Sotah 9b; Bereshit Rabbah 20:5; Mishnat Rabbi Eli’ezer 18, p. 334].

Come and see: The world exists only by peace. When the blessed Holy One created the world, it could not endure until peace came and settled upon all. What is it? Sabbath, which is peace of those above and below. Then the world endured. And whoever quarrels with it will be eliminated from the world [cf. M Avot 1:18]” (Zohar 3:176a).

God’s Honor is to Hide a Word, the Honor of Kings, to Probe a Word

Torah-Scroll-text-silver-yad“Six things preceded the creation of the world; some of them were actually created, while the creation of others was already contemplated. Torah and the Throne of Glory were created. Torah, as is written, [In remote eons I was shaped, at the start of the first things of earth.I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth was (Proverbs 8:22–3). The Throne of Glory, as is written, Your throne stands firm from old (Psalms 93:2)….

Israel arose in thought, as is written, Remember Your cohort You took up of old (Psalms 74:2)….

Rav Huna and Rabbi Yirmeya in the name of Rabbi Shemu’el son of Rabbi Yitsḥaq, they said: The thought to create Israel preceded everything else. This is like: A king who was married to a certain lady, and had no son by her. On one occasion the king was found going through the marketplace and giving orders: ‘Take this ink, inkwell, and pen for my son,’ at which people remarked: ‘He has no son: what does he want with ink and pen? Strange indeed!’ Subsequently they concluded: ‘The king is an astrologer, and has actually foreseen that he is destined to beget a son!’ Thus, had not the blessed Holy One foreseen that after twenty-six generations Israel would receive the Torah, He would not have written therein, Charge the Israelites (Numbers 28:2)” (Bereshit Rabbah 1:4).

“Israel is the kernel of the world; Israel arose in thought. Other nations, who are the shell, preceded, as is written: These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the Children of Israel (Genesis 36:31)” (Zohar 2:108b, Sifra di-Tsni’uta).

וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאָם וַיְכַל אֱלֹהִים בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת

And it was evening and it was morning the sixth day. Then the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their array. And God completed on the seventh day the task He had done, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the task He had done. And God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, for on it He had ceased from all His task that He had created to do (Genesis 1:31–2:3)—יִשְׂרָאֵל (yisra’el), Israel.

“Resh Laqish said, ‘Why is it written: There was evening and there was morning, יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי (yom ha-shishi), the sixth day (Genesis 1:31)? Why the extra letter ה (he)? [the definite article ה (he) appears only in connection with the sixth day]. This teaches that the blessed Holy One stipulated a condition with the works of Creation, saying to them: ‘If Israel accepts Torah [given at Mount Sinai on the sixth day of Sivan], you will endure. If not, I will return you to welter and waste (ibid. 1:2)’” (BT Shabbat 88a, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 2b–3b; Zohar 1:47a; 2:63b).

“Rabbi Shim‘on said, ‘Whatever the blessed Holy One does is intended to revolve revolutions to fulfill the covenant of existence’” (Zohar 1:196a).