The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: the field

From Mattanah to Nahaliel and from Nahaliel to Bamoth

 

And from Mattanah to Nahaliel and from Nahaliel to Bamoth. And from Bamoth to the valley that is in the steppes of Moab, by the top of Pisgah looking out over the wasteland (Numbers 21:19–20)? [Rava said:] If a man allows himself to be treated as the wilderness upon which everybody treads, Torah will be given to him as מַתָּנָה (mattanah), a gift; and as soon as it is given to him as a gift, נְחַלוֹ אֵל (neḥalo El), he is ‘the inheritance of God,’ as it says: וּמִמַּתָּנָה נַחֲלִיאֵל (u-mi-mattanah naḥaliel), And from Mattanah to Nahaliel; and as soon as he is ‘the inheritance of God,’ he rises to greatness, as it says: and from Nahaliel to בָּמוֹת (Bamoth), Heights. But if he is arrogant, the blessed Holy One humbles him, as it says: And from Bamoth to the valley. If, however, he repents, the blessed Holy One raises him, as it says: Every valley shall be lifted high (Isaiah 40:4)” (BT Eruvin 54a, cf. M Avot 6:2).

“How do we know that each of the seven qualities is called נָחַל (naḥal), river? Because it is written And from Mattanah to Nahaliel and from Nahaliel to Bamoth (Numbers 21:19). Do not read נַחֲלִיאֵל (naḥaliel), Nahaliel, but נַחֲלֵי אֵל (naḥalei El), ­rivers of God. And all six then go on one way to the Sea. What is this way? The one that holds the balance between them. Therefore it is written: Before Him pestilence goes, and plague comes forth at His feet (Habakkuk 3:5) [cf. BT Megillah 25b; Rabbi Yosef Hamadan, Sefer Tashaq, 267–68]. All of them go to that channel, and from that channel to the Sea. This is: And from מַּתָּנָה (mattanah), Gift, to Nahaliel—a place which is נִתַן (nitan), given, namely from the brain to Nahaliel and from Nahaliel to Bamoth. What is Bamoth? The Targum renders it: רָמָתָא (ramatha), Heights. This is the סְגֻלָּה (segullah), treasure, which follows זַרְקָא֮ (zarqa).

And from Bamoth to the valley that is in the steppes of Moab, by the top of Pisgah looking out over the wasteland (Numbers 21:20). And from Bamoth to the valley—which He prepared. And what is that which was in the steppes of Moab? Do not read מוֹאָב (mo’av), Moab, but מִאָב (mi-av), from father. This is the patriarch of whom is written, Because Abraham has listened to My voice and has kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, [and My teachings] (Genesis 26:5). And what is הַשָּׂדֶה (ha-sadeh), the steppes? It is at the top of Pisgah, also, looking out over the wasteland. יְשִׁימֹן (Yeshimon), the wasteland—the Targum renders this as שְׁמַיָּא (shemayya), heavens.

Of that channel is written: A garden spring, a garden of fresh water and streams from Lebanon (Song of Songs 4:15). What is Lebanon? We say: Ḥokhmah. What are the עַרְבֵי נָחַל (arvei naḥal), willows of the brook? We say: That which gives נַחֲלָה (naḥalah), an inheritance, to Israel—two אוֹפַנִי הַמֶרְכָּבָה (ofani ha-merkavah), wheels of the Chariot” (Bahir §178).

“Rabbi El’azar said, ‘The people of Israel are destined to chant a song from below to above, and from above to below, and to tie the knot of faith—as is written: Then יָשִׁיר יִשְׂרָאֵל (yashir yisra’el), will Israel sing, this song (Numbers 21:17)—it is not written Then שָׁר (shar), did [Israel] sing, but rather Then yashir, will [Israel] sing, and similarly with all of them. This song—from below to above.

Rise, O well! Sing to it! (Numbers ibid.). Rise, O well!—that is, ascend to Your place, to be joined with Your Husband. This is from below to above, afterward from above to below—for until now She is in exile with us.

The well dug by princes (Numbers 21:18)—for Father and Mother engendered Her above. Delved by nobles of the nation (ibid.)—the Patriarchs, who are called nobles of nations (Psalms 47:10). Delved—a place for the King to couple with Her with blessings. And by what is the coupling? With a scepter (Numbers ibid.)—Yesod. With their stavesNetsaḥ and Hod. This is from above to below.

וּמִמִּדְבָּר (U-mi-midbar), And from the desert [alluding to the ascent of Shekhinah, known as divine דִבּוּר (dibbur), ‘speech’], to Mattanah. And from Mattanah to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to Bamoth (Numbers 21:18–19)—here, complete bond, bond of faith, enduring bond wherein is all.

Of that time is written YHWH will be king over all the earth; on that day YHWH will be one and His Name one (Zechariah 14:9). And it is written Then will our mouth fill with laughter and our tongue with glad song. Then they will say among the nations: ‘Great things has YHWH done for these’ (Psalms 126:2–3)” (Zohar 3:286a).

Come My Lover, Let Us Go Out to the Field

“Rabbi Yose [son of Beivah] said: The blessed Holy One appears to peoples of the world only in the hour when people generally take leave of each other, as it says, And to me came a word in secret… in musings from nighttime’s visions when slumber falls upon men (Job 4:12). Rabbi El’azar son of Menaḥem said: YHWH is far from the wicked (Proverbs 15:29)—the prophets of other nations; but the prayer of the righteous He hears (ibid.)—the prophets of Israel. And Elohim appears to the nations only like one who comes from afar, as you read, They have come from a far country unto me (Isaiah 39:3). But in connection with the prophets of Israel we read [And YHWH] appeared to him (Genesis 18:1), And He called (Leviticus 1:1)—implying, from the immediate vicinity.

What is the difference between the prophets of Israel and the prophets of other nations? Rabbi Ḥanina [son of Papa] said: A parable: A king was with his friend in a chamber but separated by a curtain; whenever he desired to speak to his friend, he folded up the curtain and spoke with him. However, He speaks to the prophets of other nations without folding the curtain back, rather from behind it. The Rabbis compared it to a king who has a wife and a concubine; to his wife he goes openly, but to his slavegirl he goes in stealth [cf. Ecclesiastes 2:7]. Similarly, the blessed Holy One appears to the nations only at night, as it says, And Elohim came to Balaam in the night (Numbers 22:20); And Elohim came to Laban the Aramean in a night-dream (Genesis 31:24); And Elohim came to Abimelech in a night-dream (ibid. 20:3)” (Bereshit Rabbah 52:3, cf. Tiqqunei Zohar 11b).

“Rabbi Abba son of Qahana opened, רִגְזוּ (Rigzu), quake, and do not offend (Psalms 4:5). David said to the blessed Holy One ‘How long will מִתְרַגְּזִים (mitraggezim), they rage against, me and say, Is he not of tainted descent? Is he not a descendant of Ruth the Moabite? Speak in your hearts on your beds (ibid.). You also, are you not descended from two sisters [namely, Rachel and Leah who married the same man]? Look upon your own genealogy and be still (ibid.). And Tamar who married your ancestor Judah—is it not a tainted descent? She was but a descendant of Shem the son of Noah [who married his sister, see Jubilees 4:11]. Do you then have an honorable descent?’…

Rav Huna said: It is written, ‘God has granted me other seed’ (Genesis 4:25)—seed from another place, referring to the Messiah.

Rabbi Berekhiah and Rabbi Shim’on said: We may illustrate with a parable: A king who was travelling from one place to another, when a precious pearl fell from his head. So the king and all his retinue stopped there. All the passers-by asked, ‘What are the king and his retinue doing here?’ They discerned the reason and said, ‘A pearl has fallen from his head.’ What did he do? He gathered all the soil into heaps and brought brooms [alt., sieves]. He had one heap swept, but did not find it; a second heap, and he did not find it; but in the third, he found it, and they announced ‘The king has found his pearl!’ So the blessed Holy One said to Abraham, Go forth (Genesis 12:1). It was to you that I looked forward. What need had I to record the lineage of Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, and Terah (1 Chronicles 1:24–26)? Only on account of you, Abram; the same is Abraham (ibid.); And found his heart faithful before You (Nehemiah 9:8). So said the blessed Holy One to David, ‘What need had I to record the lineage of Perez, Hezron, Ram, Aminadab, Nahshon, Salmah, Boaz, Obed, and Jesse? Only on account of you; I found David My servant (Psalms 89:21)” (Rut Rabbah 8a, cf. Bereshit Rabbah 23:5, 51:8).

“The Messiah, what is his name?… The House of Rabbi Yannai said: His name is Yinnon for it is written, May his name be forever. As long as the sun may his name יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17)” (BT Sanhedrin 98b).

“The name of Messiah was contemplated [before the creation of the world], as is written, As long as the sun may his name יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17)” (Bereshit Rabbah 1:4).

“They asked [Rabbi Berekhiah], ‘What is the letter צ (tsadi)?’ He said: יוֹ״ד (yod) נוּן (nun); tsadi—coupling of yod nun. As is written, צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq), the Righteous One, is a lasting foundation (Proverbs 10:25)” (Bahir §61).

“Why should the נ (nun) have two forms, bent and long? Because it is written, As long as the sun may his name יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17)—from נוּניִן (nunin), two nuns, the bent נ (nun) and the long ן (nun), and [the Messiah] must be [conceived] through a man and a woman” (Bahir §86).

“They asked [Rabbi Berekhiah]: And he took him to the Lookouts’ field [… and YHWH chanced upon Balaam and put a word in his mouth(Numbers 23:14–16). What is Lookouts’ field? As is written, Come my lover, let us go out to the field, [spend the night in the henna. There will I give my love to you] (Song of Songs 7:12). Do not read הַשָּׂדֶה (ha-sadeh), the field, but הַשִׁדָּה (ha-shiddah), the concubine [see Ecclesiastes 2:8]. And why the concubine? The blessed Holy One’s Heart said to Him, ‘Come my lover, let us go out to the concubine for a stroll and not always lie in one place.’

And what is His Heart? He said to him: If Son of Zoma is outside you are with him [see BT Ḥagigah 14b–16a]! The לֵב (lev) Heart, is ל״ב (thirty-two). These are sealed and with them the world was created [i.e., with the thirty-two iterations of אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) in the Account of Creation (Genesis 1), see Zohar 3:82b, 256b–257a (all RM), cf. Zohar 2:123a]. What are these thirty-two? He said: These are thirty-two paths [see Sefer Yetsirah §§1–2].

A parable: a king residing within the innermost chambers, thirty-two in all, each with its own path. Now, is it fitting for this king that everyone enter his chambers by his paths? Certainly not! But is it fitting for him not to display his pearls, his brocades, his hidden treasures, and his precious objects? Certainly not! What did he do? He designated [lit., נֶגַע (nega), touched] the daughter and included all the paths in her and in her garments. Whoever wishes to enter, let him gaze here! He married her to a king, and also gave her to him as a gift. Because of his love for her, he sometimes calls her ‘My sister,’ since they come from a single place. Sometimes he calls her ‘My daughter,’ for she is his daughter; and sometimes he calls her ‘My mother’ [cf. Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah on 3:11]” (Bahir §§62–63).

“[Rabbi Yose] opened, saying, ‘The abundance of the earth is in all, a king for a cultivated field (Ecclesiastes 5:8). The abundance of the earth is in all, indeed, since from there issue spirits, souls, and benefit for the world. A king for a cultivated field. Who is a king? The blessed Holy One. For a cultivated field—when properly tilled. A king—Supernal King, who unites with the field when it is cultivated. Who is the field? The field blessed by YHWH, as is written: like the fragrance of a field blessed by YHWH (Genesis 27:27), for when it is completely cultivated and tilled, the Supernal King unites with it.’

Rabbi El’azar said, ‘A king for a cultivated field. How many nuances of supernal mystery are embedded here! A kingShekhinah, who does not inhabit a house, establishing Herself there, unless a man is married, coupling with her to engender and yield fruit. Then She generates souls to dwell therein. So, לְשָׂדֶה נֶעֱבָד (le-sadeh ne-evad), for a cultivated field, for none other.

Alternatively, A king—a woman in awe of YHWH, as is written: A woman in awe of YHWH is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30).

Le-sadeh ne-evadEnslaved to a field—a strange woman, as is said: to protect you from a strange woman (Proverbs 7:5). For there is a field, and then, there is a field! There is a field planted with all kinds of blessing and holiness, as is written: like the fragrance of a field blessed by YHWH. Then, there is a field planted with all kinds of destruction, defilement, desolation, killing, and war. Sometimes this king is enslaved to this field, and then this verse applies: At three things the earth trembles: … at a slave who becomes king… and a slavegirl supplanting her mistress (Proverbs 30:21–23). 

The light of this king is concealed—darkened—until he is purified, uniting above. Therefore, the goat of the new moon, for that field is isolated, lacking the king’s blessings. When he is enslaved to a field, then this applies: For in the field he found her; the engaged girl screamed… (Deuteronomy 22:27). For in the field, as has been said” (Zohar 1:122a–b).

Reuben went out during the days of the wheat harvest (Genesis 30:14). We have learned: Cup of Blessing receives blessing only from this side; so as long as the right is aroused toward Cup of Blessing, the left provides no support. For the right finds warrant in that cup to arouse it toward the upper world.

This secret: Out went Reuben—south side; thus, his banner is in the south. For he is head of the twelve boundaries, and his desire—to find a means, an offering—for Matronita, to bless Her. What is written? [Hefound mandrakes in the field. He went searching amid all Her treasures and found, in this field, mandrakes. Of them is written The mandrakes give forth fragrance… (Song of Songs 7:14)—two cherubim, Her embellishments awakening arousal above. For among all those adornments, none arouse besides cherubim.

South side—when does He arouse toward Her, seeking cause to bless Her? During the days of the wheat harvest (Genesis 30:14)—when She distributes shares of fortune to Her legions and all the reapers of the field. At once, [hebrought them to Leah his mother—their fragrance and arousal wafted upward, toward Upper World, concealed world, arousing blessings for the Lower World.

Once She is blessed, those mandrakes collect, then bestow upon all worlds, as is written: the mandrakes give forth fragrance, at our doors all delicacies (Song of Songs 7:14). When they exude their aroma, south side absorbs it, arousing toward the Upper World. At once, at our doors all delicacies—no beneficence lacking from the world. Lower world does not arouse toward Upper World without the cherubim wafting fragrance toward the right. After they bestow aroma to the right, and the right arouses toward Upper World, at once Lower World arouses to petition for its needs. What is written? Rachel said to Leah, ‘Please give me’ (Genesis 30:14). Give me blessings from the arousal of mandrakes, aroused for you by the right side.

Then, Upper World joyfully, playfully, responded to her, saying, ‘Is your taking my husband a small thing?‘ (ibid. 30:15)—like a mother to her daughter. If so, the Husband of the Upper World must be Jacob! Not so! Yearning of the Father is always exclusively for his Daughter. His love is directed toward Her because She is the only daughter, among six sons [sefirot]. He doles out provisions, largesse, and gifts to each of those six sons—but He allocates nothing for Her, nor does She inherit anything. On account of all this, He watches over Her with greater fondness and love than all the rest.

Out of love for Her, He called Her ‘Daughter’ [cf. BT Bava Batra 16b]. This did not satisfy Him, so He called Her ‘Sister’ [cf. Genesis 20:1; Proverbs 7:4]. This did not satisfy Him, so He called Her ‘Mother,’ in the name of His Mother [cf. Proverbs 2:3; BT Berakhot 57a]. This did not satisfy Him, so He called Her by His name, as is written: But הַחָכְמָה (ḥokhmah), Wisdom, found from אַיִן (ayin), Nothing (Job 28:12)—Ḥokhmah, actually! This is why Upper World said to Her, ‘Is your taking my husband a small thing’—for all of His love is drawn toward You” (Zohar 1:156a–b, Sitrei Torah, cf. Zohar 2:100b).

I will Betroth You to Myself with Faithfulness: She is fallen but She will not fall again. Rise, O Virgin Israel!

72343_636x945-cb1381332520“Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Why is there no נ (nun) in the אַשְׁרֵי (Ashrei) prayer [composed mostly of Psalms 145, which is arranged alphabetically, except that the verse beginning with the letter נ (nun) is missing]? Because the fall of Israel’s enemies [euphemistic for Israel Herself] begins with it. For it is written: נָפְלָה לֹא תוֹסִיף קוּם בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל (Nafelah lo tosif qum Betulat Yisra’el), Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel (Amos 5:2). In the West [i.e., the land of Israel] this verse is interpreted: נָפְלָה וְלֹא תוֹסִיף לִנְפּוֹל עוֹד—קוּם בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל (Nafelah [ve-]lo tosif [linpol od]. Qum, Betulat Yisra’el), She is fallen [—but] She will not [fall] again. Rise, O Virgin Israel!” (BT Berakhot 4b).

“Rabbi Aḥa was walking on the road, accompanied by Rabbi Yehudah. While they were going, Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘As for what we have learned: Virgin Israel, who is blessed by seven and is called בַּת שֶׁבַע (Bat Sheva), Bathsheba, Daughter of Seven, as we have established in many places, and a virgin inherits seven blessings [under the wedding canopy]—look at what is written: And you, O son of man, raise a lament for Virgin Israel, which is surely uttered for Her, for Assembly of Israel! And this is most difficult of all: Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel (Amos 5:2). Now, that which the Companions have said concerning this statement is fine. [However, this radical rereading is not convincing because] if the passage had been spoken by way of consolation, we would agree; yet here lamentation and dirge are uttered, as demonstrated by the verse!

He replied, ‘Certainly so! This matter troubled me greatly, and I came before Rabbi Shim’on with a darkened face. He said to me, ‘From the look on your face, your heart is revealed!’ I said to him, ‘Surely, for my heart and my face are equivalent.’ He said to me, ‘Utter your word!’

I said, ‘It is written: Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel. One who is angry with his wife, and she leaves him—she will never return. If so, woe to the children who have been cast out with her!’ He said to me, Are you not satisfied with what all the Companions have said? I said, They render the words compassionate, but it does not correspond. He said, Whatever the Companions say is fine and fitting, but woe to the generation when shepherds are nowhere to be found and the flock wanders, not knowing whether to go to the right or to the left! Surely this verse needs to be known, and all is revealed to those who see!

Come and see: In all the exiles suffered by Israel, He set a time and termination; and in all of them, Israel turned back to the blessed Holy One and Virgin Israel returned to Her place at the time decreed. Yet now, in this last exile, it is not so, for She has not returned as on the other occasions—as demonstrated by this verse, for it is written Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel. It is not written Fallen, and I will not raise Virgin Israel.

This may be compared to a king who became angry with the matrona and cast her out of his palace for a certain time. When that time arrived, the matrona immediately returned and came before the king. And so it happened once, twice, and thrice. Finally, she went far away from the king’s palace and was cast out for a distant time. He said, ‘This time is not like the other times, that she should come before me; rather, I myself will go with my retinue to woo her.’

When he reached her and saw her lying on the ground—who has seen the glory of the matrona at that time and the king pleading to her? Eventually, he grasped her in his hands and raised her and brought her to his palace, swearing to her that he would never part from her or be distant.

Similarly, with the blessed Holy One. All those times when Assembly of Israel was in exile, when the time arrived She returned and came before the King. Yet now, in this exile, it is not so; rather, the blessed Holy One will grasp Her hand and raise Her and reconcile with Her and return Her to His palace.

Come and see that it is so, for it is written Fallen, not to rise again, as in other times; but I myself will raise Her—I, YHWH, will raise Her booth; I will raise the fallen booth of David (Amos 9:11), Virgin Israel. The fallen—as is written: Fallen, [not to rise again]. This is the glory of Virgin Israel and Her praise. This I learned at that time.

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘You have surely spoken to my heart, and now it is tranquil. This is lucidity of the word, and it accords with a word that I recently gained. Rabbi Yose said, The blessed Holy One will one day proclaim over Assembly of Israel, Shake off the dust, arise; sit enthroned, O Jerusalem! (Isaiah 52:2)—like someone grasping his friend’s hand and saying, Shake yourself free and rise! So will the blessed Holy One grasp Her and say, Shake yourself free, arise!

Rabbi Aḥa said to him, ‘Happy are all those members of the royal palace, who open with this expression, as is written: Arise, shine, for your light has come! (Isaiah 60:1)—see, the King is surely here! Then is the glory and joy of all, when the King reconciles with Her.

It is written: Bathsheba came to the king in his chamber (1 Kings 1:15). Similarly, all those times She came to the King and stood before Him, as is written: She came before the king and stood before the king (ibid., 28). But this time, not so; rather, the King comes to Her to reconcile with Her, as is written: See, your king is coming to you! (Zechariah 9:9)—precisely, not You to Him. Is coming to you—to mollify You. Is coming to you—to raise You. Is coming to you—to restore You completely. Is coming to you—to bring You into His palace and unite with You eternally, as is said: I will betroth you to Myself with faithfulness; I will betroth you forever (Hosea 2:22, 21)’” (Zohar 3:6a–b).

׆ וַיְהִי בִּנְסֹעַ הָאָרֹן וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה קוּמָה יְהוָה וְיָפֻצוּ אֹיְבֶיךָ וְיָנֻסוּ מְשַׂנְאֶיךָ מִפָּנֶיךָ וּבְנֻחֹה יֹאמַר שׁוּבָה יְהוָה רִבְבוֹת אַלְפֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל ׆

And it happened, as the Ark journeyed on, that Moses would say, 

           ‘Rise O YHWH, and Your enemies scatter, and Your foes flee before You!’

and when it came to rest, he would say,

           ‘Come back O YHWH to Israel’s teeming myriads.’ 

“Our Rabbis taught: And it happened, as the Ark journeyed on, that Moses would say… (Numbers 10:35–36): for this section the blessed Holy One provided [inverted letter nuns as] signs above and below, to teach that this is not its place. Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] said: It is not for that, but because it ranks as a separate Book [perhaps a quotation from the mysterious Book of the Battles of YHWH mentioned elsewhere].

With whom does the following saying of Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥman in Rabbi Yonatan’s name agree: Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn her pillars, seven (Proverbs 9:1): this refers to the seven Books of the Law? With whom? With Rabbi.  Who is the Tanna that disagrees with Rabbi? It is Rabban Shim’on son of Gamaliel. For it was taught, Rabban Shim’on son of Gamaliel said: This section is destined to be removed from here and written in its [right] place [following the description of the journeying of the Tent of Meeting in Numbers 2:17]. And why is it written here? In order to provide a break between the first [account of] punishment and the second [account of] punishment. What is the second [account of] punishment? And the people became complainers of evil [in the ears of YHWH…] (Numbers 11:1).  The first [account of] punishment? וַיִּסְעוּ מֵהַר (Va-yise’u me-har), and they journeyed on from the mountain, of YHWH (ibid. 10:33), which Rabbi Ḥama son of Rabbi Ḥanina expounded [as meaning] שֶׁסָּרוּ מֵאַחֲרֵי (she-saru me-aḥarei), they strayed from following, YHWH. And where is its [rightful] place? Rav Ashi said: In [the chapter on] the banners [but in the future, when all evil and its consequent retribution has ceased, this section will be inserted in its right place]” (BT Shabbat 115b–116a).

As the ark journeyed… (Numbers 10:35). Rabbi El’azar said, ‘Here one should examine: נ (Nun) that is inverted, facing backward—why in two places here? If you say, ‘A bent נ (nun)’—well, it is known that a bent nun is female; and a straight one, totality of male and female. They have already established, regarding this place: ‘As the ark journeyed.’ But why is it turned afterward like this: ׆?

Come and see: No נוּן (nun) is mentioned in אַשְׁרֵי (Ashrei), Happy are, those who dwell in Your house (Psalms 84:5), because She is in exile. This has been established by the Companions, for it is written: נָפְלָה (Nafelah), Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel (Amos 5:2). But what is written previously? The Ark of YHWH’s Covenant journeyed before them a three days’ distance to scout out a resting place for them (Numbers 10:33). As soon as the ark journeyed, nun journeyed above it—surely, Shekhinah rests upon the ark.

Come and see: The love of the blessed Holy One is toward Israel; for even though they stray from the straight path, the blessed Holy One does not wish to abandon them, and He constantly turns his face toward them. Otherwise, they could not endure in the world.

Go and see: The ark journeyed before them a distance of three days, and nun remained inseparable from it, accompanying it. Due to the love of Israel, it turned its face toward them, turning away from the ark—like a gazelle who, when going, turns its face back to the place it has left. So, as the ark journeyed, nun turned its face toward Israel and its shoulders toward the ark. Therefore, when it journeyed, Moses said, ‘Arise, O YHWH! (Numbers 10:35)—do not abandon us, turn Your face toward us!’ Then nun turned back toward them, like this: ׆—like someone turning his face toward his beloved. And when the ark and Israel began to rest, nun turned its face from Israel and turned back toward the ark, turning completely.

Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘El’azar, my son, certainly so! But here, it did not turn its face away from Israel. For if so, the nun would have to be the opposite of the other one, above: that one inverted, and this one straight, facing the ark. But surely, it did not turn its face away from them. What did it do? As the ark rested, Moses said, Return, O YHWH (Numbers 10:36). Then the ark rested, and Shekhinah stood on the other side, with Her face toward Israel and toward the ark. So then She encompassed both the ark and Israel. But afterward Israel ruined this, as is written: The people were complaining (Numbers 11:1) [the incriminating word כְּמִתְאֹנְנִים (ke-mit’onenim), complaining, contains two consecutive nuns, shaped normally. Whereas the inverted nuns (preceding and following the biblical couplet)] allude to Shekhinah turning toward Israel, the forward orientation of the nuns in כְּמִתְאֹנְנִים (ke-mit’onenim) indicate that as a result of Israel’s complaints Shekhinah, as it were, stared off into the distance, away from them (Matt)]’” (Zohar 3:155a–b).

If the King has No Army and No Camp, Over What does He Rule?

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“Is the blessed Holy One מִשְׁתַּבַּח (mishtabaḥ), enhanced, בְּשִׁבְחַיְיהוּ (be-shivḥayyehu), through the enhancement, of Israel? Indeed, as is written: YHWH you have proclaimed today to be your God [and to go in His ways and to keep His statutes and His commands and His laws and to heed His voice] (Deuteronomy 26:17). And it is written: And YHWH has proclaimed you today [to be to Him a treasured people, as He has spoken to you, and to keep all His commands, and to set you high above all the nations that He made, for praise and for acclaim and for glory, and for you to be a holy people to YHWH your God, as He has spoken] (ibid., 18)” (BT Berakhot 6a).

“Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai taught: ‘You are My witnesses,’ says YHWH, ‘and I am God’ (Isaiah 43:12)—when you are My witnesses, I am God. When you are not My witnesses, I am not God” (Sifrei, Deuteronomy 346).

“When the blessed Holy One took counsel from the Torah—whose name is Prudence—to create the world, she answered Him: Master of the Worlds: If the king has no army and no camp, over what does he rule? And if there is no people praising the king, what is that king’s glory? The Lord of the World listened and it was pleasing to Him. Torah said: The blessed Holy One took counsel from me to create the world, as is said, Mine is counsel and prudence, [I am Discernment, mine is might. Through me kings reign, and rulers decree righteous laws] (Proverbs 8:14)” (Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 3).