The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: suffering

The Olive does not Produce Oil Until it is Crushed

olive-pickles-4

A leafy olive tree beautiful with shapely fruit; amid the sound of great commotion He has set fire to it and its branches were broken (Jeremiah 11:16). Yehoshu’a son of Levi said: Just as the olive tree’s leaves do not fall neither in winter or summer so too Israel will always remain in this and the world to come [cf. Zohar 1:116a]….

Why is Israel compared to an olive? To teach that just as the olive does not produce its oil until it is crushed, so too Israel does not return except through suffering” (BT Menakhot 53b).

“Rabbi Shim’on son of Laqish said: Covenant is mentioned with regards to salt, and covenant is said with regard to suffering: Covenant is said with regards to salt, as is written: And every offering of your grain you shall season with salt (Leviticus 2:13). Covenant is said with regard suffering, as is written: [And it shall be, if you do not heed the voice of YHWH your God to keep to do all His commands and His statutes that I charge you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you… (Deuteronomy 28:15).] These are the words of the Covenant (ibid., 69). Just as the covenant said with regard to salt, the salt sweetens meat, so too the covenant mentioned with regard to suffering, the suffering washes away all the crimes of man.

It has been taught: Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai says: The blessed Holy One gave Israel three precious gifts, and all of them were given only through suffering: Torah, the land of Israel, and the World that is Coming. How do we know this of Torah? As is said: Happy the man whom Yah chastises, and whom מִתּוֹרָתְךָ (mitoratekha), from His teaching, He instructs (Psalms 94:12). The land of Israel—as is written: As a man chastises his son YHWH your God chastises you (Deuteronomy 8:5), and after that it is written: For YHWH your God is about to bring you to a goodly land (ibid.). The World that is Coming—as is written: For a mitsvah a lamp and a teaching a light, and the way of life—stern rebukes (Proverbs 6:23)” (BT Berakhot 5a).

Nothing but Soul!

“Rav Ami said: There is no death without sin, and there is no suffering without crime. There is no death without sin, as is written, The soul that sins, she shall die. The son shall not bear the crime of the father, neither shall the father bear the crime of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him (Ezekiel 18:20). There is no suffering without crime, as is written, I will requite their crime with the rod, and with plagues, their wrongdoing (Psalms 89:33)” (BT Shabbat 55a).

“Rava (some say, Rav Ḥisda) says: If a man sees that painful sufferings have befallen him, let him examine his deeds. For it is said: Let us search and examine our ways, and turn again to YHWH (Lamentations 3:40). If he examines and finds nothing [objectionable], let him attribute it to the neglect of Torah. For it is said: Happy the man whom Yah chastises, and whom from His teaching He instructs (Psalms 94:12). If he did attribute it [thus], and still did not find [this to be the cause], let him be sure that these are chastenings of love [see Zohar 1:180b, 181a]. For it is said: For whom YHWH loves He rebukes (Proverbs 3:12).

Rava, in the name of Rav Seḥora, in the name of Rav Huna, says: If the blessed Holy One is pleased with a man, he crushes him with painful sufferings. For it is said: YHWH delights in crushing him by disease (Isaiah 53:10). Now, you might think that this is so even if he did not accept them with love. Therefore it is said: to see if his soul would offer itself as a trespass-offering (ibid.). Even as the trespass-offering must be brought by consent, so also the sufferings must be endured with consent. And if he did accept them, what is his reward? He shall see his seed, He shall prolong his days (ibid.). And more than that, his learning will endure, as is said: and the will of YHWH shall prosper in his hand (ibid.)” (BT Berakhot 5a).

“When the blessed Holy One delights in the righteous, what is written? YHWH delights in crushing him by disease (Isaiah 53:10). This has been established, but the reason is that the delight of the blessed Holy One focuses only on soul, not on body; for soul resembles soul, while body is incapable of uniting above—even though the body’s image abides in supernal mystery” (Zohar 1:140b).

“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).