The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: Talmud

A Jealous Fire

burnttorah

“Rabbi El’azar said,… ‘You, cleaving to YHWH your God, are alive everyone of you today (Deuteronomy 4:4). Now is it possible to cleave to Shekhinah, of whom it is written: YHWH your God is a devouring fire (ibid., 24)? Rather the meaning is: whoever marries his daughter to a disciple of the Sages, conducts business on their behalf, or benefits them from his assets is regarded by Scripture as if he cleaves to Shekhinah [cf. BT Sotah 14a, where Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥanina explains that one can approach and withstand the consuming fire of Shekhinah by imitating the divine, e.g., by clothing the naked, visiting the sick, comforting mourners, and burying the dead]” (BT Ketubbot 111b).

“The General Agrippa asked Rabban Gamaliel, ‘It is written in your Torah, For YHWH your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24). Is a wise man jealous of any but a wise man, a warrior of any but a warrior, a rich man of any but a rich man?’ He replied, ‘I will give you a parable: To what can the matter be compared? A man who marries an additional wife. If the second wife is her superior, the first will not be jealous of her, but if she is her inferior, the first wife will be jealous of her’” (BT Avodah Zarah 55a).

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘A word lingers here with us.’ He opened, saying, ‘Two verses are written: YHWH your God is a devouring fire (Deuteronomy 4:24), and You, cleaving to YHWH your God, are alive every one of you today (ibid., 4). We have established these verses in various places, and the Companions have been aroused by them.

Come and see: For YHWH your God is a devouring fire. The word has been discussed among the Companions: There is a fire devouring fire, devouring and consuming it, for there is fire fiercer than fire, as they have established [see BT Yoma 21b]. But come and see: Whoever desires to penetrate the wisdom of holy unification should contemplate the flame ascending from a glowing ember or a burning candle. For flame ascends only when grasped by course substance” (Zohar 1:50b–51a).

“The blue [light of a flame corresponds to] Shekhinah, the Judgment that devours sacrifices and burnt offerings. If She finds men to be as dry wood, like dry wicks without oil, which is Torah and Compassion, [She] is a fire to them and burns them” (Zohar 3:33a, Ra’aya Meheimna Tsav, cf. Zohar 2:166a).

“Rabbi Abba son of Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan [son of Nappaḥa]: One who writes down הֲלַכוֹת (halakhot), ways of conduct, is as one who burns the Torah, and he who learns from them does not receive reward…. Rabbi Yehudah son of Naḥmani, the translator of Resh Laqish expounded: One may not recite oral teachings from a written document and one may not recite written teachings from memory. The house of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: ‘Write for yourself these words’ (Exodus 34:27). These words [i.e., the Written Torah] you may write, but you may not write halakhot” (BT Temurah 14b, cf. Gittin 60a–b; Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 1:71).

“The Companions saw the face of Shekhinah and were encompassed by fire. Rabbi Abba’s face blazed in fire from rapture of Torah. It has been taught: All that day, none of them left the house, and the house was swathed in smoke. Words among them were fresh and ecstatic as if they were receiving Torah that very day from Mount Sinai! When they departed they did not know if it was day or night” (Zohar 1:94b, cf. Vayiqra Rabbah 16:4; Avot de-Rabbi Natan B, 13).

“As to what the Rabbis have said: ‘Now is it possible for one to cleave to Shekhinah?—it certainly is!… Know and believe that there is a special quality to the essence of the purity of limbs that allows for man to hold fast to the Shekhinah even if She is a consuming fire” (Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, Sha’arei Orah 166).

Second in Command

roman-vishniac“From forty–nine facets [of pure] and forty–nine facets [of impure] shine the Masters of מִשְׁנָה‎ (mishnah), Rehearsing, which is second to Halakhah, Her slavegirl [cf. Midrash Tehillim 12:4]. For Mordecai the Jew was מִשְׁנֶה (mishneh), second, to King Ahasuerus (Esther 10:3), like this Mishnah is second to the King. From him shine the Masters of Mishnah: like the splendour of the sky (Daniel 12:3)Halakhah, and She is a tradition to Moses from Sinai. She has very many young women, and they are the laws which have been decided. As it says, עֲלָמוֹת (alamot), young women, beyond number (Song of Songs 6:8). And She [Halakhah] is above all of them, this is what is written, [Many daughters have done worthy things,] but you—you surpass all of them (Proverbs 31:29). And She is with everyone, as we have said, ‘Halakhah as the many’ [see BT Bava Metsi’a 59b: ‘After the majority must one incline,’ cf. Exodus 23:2; BT Ḥulin 11a; Sanhedrin 2a; Qiddushin 40b; Zohar 1:53a].

And those who guide the many to be righteous (Daniel 12:3)—they are like the stars, forever and ever (ibid.). Certainly like stars beyond number, each and every star is called its own world and this is young women beyond number. These young women do not call them עֲלָמוֹת (alamot), young women, but rather עוֹלָמוֹת (olamot), worlds. The righteous are the stars and each one has a star, as the ancients said, ‘Each and every righteous person has their own world’ [see BT Sanhedrin 100a: ‘The blessed Holy One will give to every righteous person three hundred and ten worlds’], and anyone who merits one Halakhah merits one world, certainly one who merits one tractate [of Mishnah] or two, or sixty as it says, Sixty are there queens and eighty concubines (Song of Songs 6:8).

Each tractate is a matronita unto herself, praiseworthy is he who merits her in this world, because the הֲלָכָה (halakhah), way of conduct, is the escort of the Matronita, which is קַבָּלָה (qabbalah), Kabbalah. Praiseworthy is he who is occupied with the Shekhinah, because She is greater than all of Halakhah. To take Her out of exile as it says, And for your transgressions is your mother put away (Isaiah 50:1)—to escort Her to Her husband, so She will be מְקוּבָּל (mequbbal), received, in His arms, to fulfill His left hand beneath my head, his right hand embracing me (Song of Songs 2:6).

In exile the Mishnah, which is the angel מְטַּטְרוֹן (Metatron), rules [cf. Zohar 1:223b]. He is second to the King. As viceroy he sits on the side of the מַטְרוֹנִיתָא (Matronita) [Shekhinah], and this is, A slavegirl who dispossesses her mistress (Proverbs 30:23). In the days of Moses never did the slavegirl rule, only the גְּבִרְתָּהּ (gevirtah), Mistress [cf. BT Menaḥot 59b; Zohar 1:232a]. Since Moses died and Joshua inherited, who is the נָעַר (na’ar), Youth [Metatron], the slave rules in the place of kingship [Malkhut], as is said, For I am the commander of YHWH’s army. Now have I come (Joshua 5:14) [cf. Genesis 23:21; BT Yevamot 16b; Arakhin 32b; Sanhedrin 107a]” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 14a–b, cf. Zohar 2:65b).

Woe to you, land, whose king is נָעַר (na’ar), a lackey [or: youth] (Ecclesiastes 10:16).

“Masters of Mishnah, awaken your souls and spirits, each of you! Remove שֵׁנָה (shenah), sleep, from yourself, for certainly this is מִשְׁנָה (mishnah), Mishnah, the simple way of this world. I only rouse you with supernal mysteries of the World that is Coming, for you are engaged in them, as is written: Look, he does not slumber nor does he sleep, Israel’s guard (Psalms 121:4) [תִקּוּן חֲצוֹת (tiqqun ḥatsot), midnight vigil: Kabbalists are expected to rise at midnight and adorn Shekhinah with words of Torah in preparation for Her union with Tif’eret. Cf. Zohar 1:92b; 3:119a; BT Berakhot 3b; Ḥagigah 12b; Tamid 32b; JT Berakhot 1:1, 2d]” (Zohar 3:244b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).