The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: taste

One does not Know the Taste of Sweet until He Tastes Bitter

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“It is written of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: And YHWH showed him a tree, and he flung it into the water, and the water turned sweet (Exodus 15:25). Since the children of Israel were with the mixed multitude, they were of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Therefore, it is half sweet from the right and half bitter from the left. When the mixed multitude caused the children of Israel to sin, it was as if all were on the Other Side. Consequently, the waters returned to their bitter state like the tree in the water. This is what is meant by and they came to Marah, and could not drink water from Marah, for it was bitter (ibid., 23). The bitter tree was similar to the test of a סוֹטָה (sotah), suspected wife. If she indeed strayed from her husband, the waters which she was made to drink turned bitter, and because of them her belly will swell, and her thigh sag (Numbers 5:27). If she did not stray, it is written she will be cleared, and sown with seed (ibid., 28), and give birth to a son. Here too, the waters were made sweet….

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, forbidden and permitted, pure and impure, will no longer apply to the children of Israel, since our sustenance will be solely from the side of the Tree of Life, where there are no contradictions stemming from the Other Side, nor any strife nor difference stemming from the unclean spirit, as is written And also I will cause… the unclean spirit to pass out of the land (Zechariah 13:2)” (Zohar 3:125a, Ra’aya Meheimna Naso).

“It has been taught: It is incumbent upon a person who studies wisdom to study some foolishness and now it, because thereby wisdom derives benefit—just as light derives some benefit from darkness, for were it not for darkness, light would not be recognized and the world would gain no benefit from it…. This may be compared to sweet with bitter, for a person does not know the taste of sweet until he tastes bitter. What makes this sweet? You must admit, bitter. This corresponds to what is written: One against the other God has set (Ecclesiastes 7:14)” (Zohar 3:47b, cf. Ecclesiastes 2:13).

“Why are large [bitter] almonds fit for [tithing]? Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Because one can sweeten them in the fire!” (BT Ḥullin 25b).

Enjoyment & Pleasure: It is Torah and I Must Learn It

“Three things are a glimpse of the world to come: שַׁבָּת שֶׁמֶשׁ וְתַשְׁמִישׁ (Shabbat shemesh ve-tashmish), Sabbath, sun, and ‘service‘” (BT Berakhot 57b).

“Rabbi Ḥizqiyah said in the name of Rav: Man will one day give reckoning for everything his eye saw which, although permissible, he did not enjoy” (JT Qiddushin 4:12, 66d).

“Rav Kahana entered and lay down beneath the bed of Rav [Abba]. He heard that he was talking and laughing and having sexual intercourse. He said, ‘The mouth of Abba appears as if he never tasted this dish.’ He said to him, ‘Qahana, get out; this is not proper behavior!’ He said to him, ‘It is Torah, and I must learn it” (BT Ḥagigah 5b).

Shekhinah abides neither through gloom nor laziness nor frivolity nor levity nor talk nor idle chatter [or: vain pursuits], but only through the joy of mitsvah” (BT Shabbat 30b, cf. Zohar 1:50a).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Dahavai said: The ministering angels told me four things: People are born lame because they overturned their table; dumb, because they kiss ‘that place;’ deaf, because they converse during cohabitation; blind, because they look at ‘that place.’ But this contradicts the following: Imma Shalom [wife of Rabbi Eli’ezer son of Hyrkanos, and sister to Rabban Gamaliel of Yavneh] was asked: Why are your children so exceedingly beautiful? She replied: [Because my husband]  ‘converses’ with me neither at the beginning nor at the end of the night, but at midnight; and when he ‘converses,’ he uncovers a hand breadth and covers a hand breadth, and is as though he were compelled by a שֵׁד (shed), demon [alt., שָׁד (shad), breast]. And when I asked him, What is the reason for this, he replied, ‘So that I may not think of another woman, lest my children be as bastards’—there is no difficulty: this refers to conjugal matters; the other refers to other matters.

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The above is the view of Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Dehavai; but our Sages said: The Halakhah is not as Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Dehavai, but a man may do whatever he pleases with his wife [with her consent]: A parable; Meat which comes from the butcher, may be eaten salted, roasted, cooked or boiled; so with fish from the fishmonger. Amemar said: Who are the ‘ministering angels?’ The Rabbis. For should you maintain it literally, why did Rabbi Yoḥanan say that the Halakhah is not as Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Dehavai, seeing that the angels know more about the formation of the fetus than we? And why are they designated ‘ministering angels?’—because they are as distinguished as they.

A woman once came before Rabbi and said, ‘Rabbi! I set a table before my husband, but he overturned it.’ Rabbi replied: ‘My daughter! Torah has permitted you to him—what then can I do for you?’ A woman once came before Rav and complained. ‘Rabbi! I set a table before my husband, but he overturned it.’ Rav replied; Wherein does it differ from a fish?

And you shall not stray after your own heart (Numbers 15:39). [Deducing] from this Rabbi taught: One may not drink out of one goblet and think of another. Ravina said: This is necessary only when both are his wives” (BT Nedarim 20a–b).

Who Does Not Taste a Dish?

“Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] said: A person can learn only from a place which his heart desires, as is said, But YHWH’s teaching is his desire (Psalms 1:2).

Levi and Rabbi Shim’on son of Rabbi were once sitting before Rabbi and were expounding a part of Scripture. When the book was concluded, Levi said: Let them bring us Proverbs. Rabbi Shim’on son of Rabbi said: Let them bring us Psalms; [he] pushed Levi and Psalms were brought. When they came to But YHWH’s teaching is his desire, Rabbi said: A person can only learn from a place which his heart desires. Levi said: Rabbi, you have given permission to rise [and leave, since my heart desires Proverbs and not Psalms]” (BT Avodah Zarah 19a, cf. ZḤ 107a [Tiq]).

Taste and see that YHWH is good (Psalms 34:8).

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Well, there are many verses in Torah that seem as if they need not have been written, yet we see that all of them are sublime mysteries.’ Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘As for this verse, whoever sees it and does not contemplate it is like someone who does not taste a dish” (Zohar 2:217b).

“This may be compared to a man who dwelled among the cliffs and knew nothing of those dwelling in the town. He sowed wheat, and ate the wheat in its natural condition [i.e., פְּשָׁט (peshat), plain]. One day he went into town and was offered fine bread [i.e., דְּרַשׁ (derash), enquiry]. The man asked: What’s this for? They replied: It’s bread, to eat! He asked: And what’s it made of? They replied: Of wheat. Afterwards they brought him cakes kneaded with oil [i.e., רֶמֶז (remez), hint]. He tasted them, and asked: And what are these made of? They replied: Of wheat. Later they brought him royal pastry kneaded with honey and oil [i.e., סוֹד (sod), secret]. He asked: And what are these made of? They replied: Of wheat. He said: Surely I am master of all these, since I eat the essence of all of these! And because of that view, he knew nothing of the delights of the world, which were lost to him. So it is with one who grasps the principle but is unaware of all those delectable delights deriving, diverging from that principle [פַּרדֵס (Pardes), Orchard, is the acronym for four levels of interpreting Torah; cf. BT Shabbat 63a: ‘(Rav Kahana said:) A verse cannot depart from its plain meaning’]” (Zohar 2:176a–b, cf. BT Berakhot 64a).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: There is a difference of opinion between Rabbi Shim’on son of Gamaliel and the Rabbis. One said that a well-read scholar is superior and the other said that the keen dialectician is superior. Rabbi Yosef was a well-read scholar [lit., סִינָי (Sinai), a Sinai]; Rabbah was a keen dialectician [lit., עוֹקֵר הָרִים (oqer harim), uprooter of mountains]. An enquiry was sent up to the land of Israel: Who of these should take precedence? They sent them word in reply: ‘A well-read scholar is to take precedence;’ for the Master said, ‘All are dependent on the owner of the wheat’” (BT Horayot 14a, cf. BT Berakhot 64a).

“What is meant by [Her profit and fee shall be consecrated to YHWH. They shall not be treasured or stored; rather shall her profit go to those who abide before YHWH, that they may eat their fill and] לִמְכַסֶּה עָתִיק (limkhasseh athiq), cover themselves elegantly? (Isaiah 23:18). This refers to one who מְכַסֶּה (mekhasseh), conceals, things that עָתִּיק (attiq), the Ancient of, Days concealed. What are those? Secrets of Torah. And some say: This refers to one who reveals things that עָתִּיק (attiq), the Ancient of, Days concealed. What are those? Flavors of Torah” (BT Pesaḥim 119a).