The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: tongue

You Clothed Me in Skin and Flesh

“The Rabbis taught: The kidneys advise [Psalms 7:10; Proverbs 23:16], the heart considers [Deuteronomy 6:5; Proverbs 2:2, 10], the tongue articulates, the mouth finishes [Proverbs 37:30], the esophagus brings in all kinds of food, the windpipe gives sound, the lungs absorb all kinds of fluids, the liver causes anger, the gallbladder secretes a drop into it and calms it, the spleen laughs, the gizzard grinds, the stomach [causes] sleep, the nose [causes] wakefulness” (BT Berakhot 61a).

“Ten things serve הַנֶּפֶשׁ (ha-nefesh), the person: The esophagus for food, the windpipe for sound, the liver for anger, the lungs for drink, the gizzard to grind, the spleen for laughter, the stomach for sleep, the gallbladder for jealousy, the kidneys for thoughts, while the heart [the seat of intelligence] finishes. Now ha-nefesh, the life-breath, is above them all. The blessed Holy One says, ‘I made you to be above them all but you go out and rob, do violence, and offend!” (Vayiqra Rabbah 4:4).  

“Twelve simple [letters]: הו זח טי לנ סע צק (he vav zayin ḥet tet yod, lamed nun samekh ‘ayin tsadi qof). He engraved them, He transposed them, He hewed them, He weighed them and permuted [or: exchanged] them, and fashioned with them the constellations, the months, and the conductors: two revelers, two babblers, two that are fearsome [alt., two advisors] and two that are gleeful. They are the internal organs, and the two hands and feet. He made them a sort of rivalry, arranging them in battle [array], One opposite the other God made them (Ecclesiastes 7:14)….

1 Three hate and these are they: the tongue, the liver, and the gal.

2 Three love: the heart, the ears, and the eyes.

3 Three give life: the two nostrils and the liver of the left side.

4 Three kill: the two lower orifices and the mouth.

5 Three are in man’s control: the feet, the hands, and the mouth.

6 Three are not in man’s control: his two eyes, his ears, and his nostrils [on the voluntary and involuntary organs, see Bereshit Rabbah 67:3].

7 Three are bad tidings for the ear: cursing, blasphemy, and an evil rumor [or: bad news, see Jeremiah 49:23; Psalms 112:7].

8 Three are good tidings for the ear: blessing, a good report [or: good news, see Proverbs 25:25], and praise.

9 Three sights are bad for the eye: adultery, an evil eye, and a deceptive look.

10 Three sights are good for the eye: modesty, a good eye, and a trustworthy look.

11 Three are bad for the tongue: He who speaks in the presence of the slanderer, he who speaks one thing with the mouth but another with the heart, and he who speaks more than enough.

12 Three are good for the tongue: silence, holding the tongue, and speaking truth [cf. Sefer Yetsirah §5; M Avot 1:17]” (Sefer Yetsirah §§48a [MS A], 63).

“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 2:75b–76a).

שיעור קומה (Shi’ur Qomah), Measure of the Stature (MS 10675)

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With the help of the Rock, and His redemption, with the aid of Heaven; with the help of God we will open and we will close. My help is from YHWH, maker of heaven and earth (Psalms 121:2).

I will begin to write שִׁיעוּר קוֹמָה (shi’ur qomah), the measure of the stature. “All Israel has a portion of the world to come, as is said, Your people, all of them righteous, shall forever possess the land, the shoot I have planted, My handiwork in which to glory (Isaiah 60:21)” (M Sanhedrin 10:1).

Rabbi Yishma’el said, ‘I saw the King of kings of kings, the blessed Holy One seated on a high and lofty throne [and the skirts of His robe filled the Temple] (Isaiah 6:1) with His soldiers standing before Him, at His right and at His left (1 Kings 22:19). The Prince of the Countenance מִיטַּטְרוֹן (Mitatron), רוּחַ פִּסְקוֹנִית (Ruaḥ Pisqonit), פסקון (PiSQON), איטמון (‘ITMON) [see BT Sanhedrin 44b], הגאון (ha-GA’ON), אגרון (‘GRON), סגרון (SiGRON), דניגרון (DaNIGRON), מיתון (MITON), מיכון (MIKON), הסתס (HaSTaS), הסקס (HaSQaS), סרתם (SaRTaM), הסכם (HaSKaM), חיקרון (ḤIQRON), זיוא (ZIVA), רבא (RaBA), באנטסזנטף (BANTaSZaNTaF) spoke to me.

Rabbi Yishma’el said, ‘What is shi’ur qomah, the measure of the stature, of the blessed Holy One concealed from all creatures?’ The parasangs of His feet fill the entire world, as is said: The heavens are My throne and the earth is My footstool. [What house would you build for Me and what place for My resting…?] (Isaiah 66:1). The height of His soles is 30 million parasangs. His right sole is called פרסמיה אטרקט שמה (PaRSaMIaH ATRaQaT ShaMaH) and the left אגומץ (AGOMaTs). From His [right] sole to the ankle is 150 million parasangs. Similarly the left. The right ankle is called צגמיה (TsaGMiyah) and the left אסתמץ (ASTaMaTs). From His [right] ankle to the knees is 190,005,200 parasangs. Similarly the left. The right calf is called קנגגו מהדיה טססקם (QaNGaGO MaHaDIaH TaSaSQaM) and the left מנגהווזיא זזיא (MaNGaHOVVaZIYA… ZaZiYA). From His [right] knee to the thigh is 120,001,200 parasangs. And similarly the left. The right knee is called סתמגץ יהמיי (SaTMaGaTs YeHaMiYI) and that of the left is called מגהנוריא (MaGHaNuRiYA). The right thigh is called ששתסתפרניסי (ShaShTaSTaPaRNISiYi) and the left is called תפגניחזיזא (TaFGaNiaZIZA). From His thighs to the neck is 240 million parasangs. His loins are called ‘Astanah…dadiyah. On His heart are placed seventy names: Tsats, TsedeqTsaḥi’el, TsurTseviTsaddiqSa’af, Saḥats, Tseva’otShaddaiElohimZanYah, Yah, YHWH, TsaḥDagulEdomSasas‘A’, Va’a’a, ‘Aya’, ‘Aha, Hav, Yah, Ho, Veḥo, Tsatsats, …faf, Nats, Heh, ḤaiḤai, Ḥai, Hahabav, AravotYav, HeH, VaH, Mamam, …Nan, Havav, YaH, Yahah, ḤafetsKatsets, ‘Ay, Za’, Tsa’a’, Za’, ‘A’a’,… Heh, KesherBozaḥ, Niter, Ya’, Ya’, Yod, HonFa’af, Ra’u, Yayay, …f, Vavav, Vro, Bavav, Bavav, Tatat, Bafaḥ, Palal, Sis, are its letters. Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom forever and ever. Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom forever and ever. Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom forever and ever.

His neck 130,000,800 parasangs. His neck is called סנגיהו יבה תיקץ (SaNGIHU YaVaH TIQaTs). The circumference of His head is 3,000,000,033 and a third parasangs, something the tongue is unable to tell nor the ear hear [cf. Sifre Bemidbar 102; BT Shevu’ot 20b; Rosh ha-Shanah 27a; Sefer Yetsirah §40]. אתר הודריא עטסי (‘ATaR HODaRiYA’ ‘ATaSYa) is its name. His beard is 11,500 parasangs. Its name is הדרק סמיא (HaDRaQ SaMiYA’). The appearance of the cheeks is like the fashioning of the רוּחַ (ruaḥ), breath [or: spirit], and like the fashioning of the נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul. No creature can recognize it [or: no creature is able to gaze upon His Crown]. His body is like aquamarine (Daniel 10:6), the splendor of His glory is luminous, נוֹרָא (nora), awesome [alt., נוּרָא (nura), fire] in the darkness, cloud and dense fog (Psalms 97:2). Surrounding it are the princes of the Countenance and the seraphim pour themselves out before Him as water pouring from a pitcher. We have nothing in our hands but the names that have been revealed to us. The nose is called לגבגצייא (LaGBaGTsiYYA), but גגטפייא (GaGTaFIYA’) is [also] its name. His tongue extends from one end of the world to the other [cf. Teli], as is said: [Great is our Master, abounding in power, His wisdom is beyond number (Psalms 147:5).] He tells His word to Jacob, His statutes and laws to Israel (ibid., 19). אססגיחוואיא (‘ASaSGiU’YA’) is its name. The width of His forehead is [130,000,800 parasangs]. מססגיהו נאייא (MaSaSGIHU NA’YaYA’) is its name. On His forehead are written seventy-two letters:

ייהו היה יוה ויה הא הא הי הי יה הא הה ווה ייהו וה ויהו הה יה י הא יה יהו הו הו ייהיו היה ויה יהו הא הא היה ויה

The black of His right eye 11,500 parasangs, and similarly, the left. The right is called ורק אט טיסום (‘URiQ ‘AT TISUM) and the name of its prince is רחביאל (ReaVI’EL) [alt., רחמיאל (RaMI’EL)]. The left is called מטטגריעמציא (MeTaTGaRI’AMTsIA). The flashes of their lights [extend] to all creatures. The white of His right eye is 20,000, and similarly the left. The  right is called פדרפססיא (PaDRaPaSSiYA) and the left… וקצתיא (U-QTsaTIA’).

From His right shoulder to the left is 160,000,000 parasangs. The right shoulder is called מטטגהיה אנגץ (MeTaTGHI’Ha’ ANGaTs) and the left תתמהנגיא (TaTMaHNaGIA’). It [also] has another name: שלמהינגיא (ShaLMaHINGIA’). From His right arm to the left is 120,000,000. The arms are folded. The right arm is called גברהזזיא עכסי (GeVaRHaZaZIA ’AKhSI) [alt., בגדהוזיא טכסי (BeGaDHUZIA TaKhSI), i.e., ‘order of the alef-bet‘] and the left מטטגהגציקו (MeTaTGaHaGTsIQU). The fingers of [His right] hand are 100,000,000 parasangs each. Similarly the left. [Those] of the right [are called] תתמה (TaTMaH), תץמץ (TaTsMaTs), גגמוה (GaGMUH), גגשמש (GaGShaMaSh)גגשש (GaGShaS) and [those] of the left [are called] תץמץ (TaTsMaTs), תתמה (TaTMaH)אגגמץ (AGaGMaTs), אגגמת (UGMaTs), and שושנס (ShOShNaS). And thus you may count from the big one onwards [i.e., the names mentioned are to be attributed to the fingers in this order beginning with the thumb].

The palm of [His right] hand is 40,000,000 parasangs and similarly the left. The name of the right is זזיא אטגרי (ZaZIA ATGaRiYi) and the left is called שקזזיא (SheQiZaZiYa’). His toes [on the right] are 10,000,000 parasangs. 2,000,000 parasangs for each toe. And similarly the left. [The names of those] on the right is אדמץ (ADoMaTs), אסומת (ASUMaT), דרמנת (DaRMaNaT), כבטא (KaVTA)…, …רמון (…RaMON), and [those] of the left are ישנין (YeShNaYaN), בזנין (BaZNaYan), הצמת (HaTsMaT), אהוז (AHUZ), תהמום (TaHaMUM). From the hands you count onwards. Therefore He is called the great, mighty, and awesome God (Deuteronomy 10:17), as is said: [And you shall knowthat YHWH your God, He is God, the steadfast god keeping the covenant and the faith for those who love Him and keeping His commands to the thousandth generation (ibid. 7:9).

‘But then [Mitatron] told me how to calculate the parasangs. What is their measure? Each parasang is three miles, each mile is 10,000 cubits, each cubit is two spans—measured according to God’s span, which spans the entire world,’ as is said: Who with his hand’s hollow has measured the waters, the heavens has gauged with a span, [and meted earth’s dust with a measure, weighed with a scale the mountains and the hills with a balance?] (Isaiah 40:12).

Rabbi Natan, Rabbi Yishma’el’s discple, says, ‘Even [regarding] the nose he gave me an exact measurement; similarly the lip, and the cheeks. The appearance of the face and the cheeks was like the measure and the fashioning of a soul. No creature can recognize it. Even though he gave me the measurement of the forehead, the width of the forehead is like the height of the neck. Similarly, the shoulder is like the length of the nose, the nose is like the length of the little finger [cf. BT Bekhorot 44a: “One whose nose is excessively large (is unfit for priesthood). A Tanna taught: As (the width of) a small finger”]. The height of the cheeks is [like] half the circumference of the head. Similarly the measure of any person. His lip is like 77,0000. The name of upper lip is גברהטיא (GaVeRHaTIA) [perhaps: גָּבֶר הֲטָיָה (gaver hatayah), bold curve], that of the lower is הזרהגיא (HaZeRHaGIA) [perhaps: חֲזָרָה גָּיְא (ḥazarah gaye), returning valley; alt., הַשָׁרָה גָּיְא (hasharah gaye), a steep valley]. His mouth is a consuming fire, whatever [it] speaks…. סדרסא (SaDRaSa) is its name. What [He] desires, the breath in His mouth speaks. The crown on His head is 500,000 by 500,000; Israel is its name. On the precious stone that is between its horns are engraved ‘Israel, My people, is mine. Israel, My people, is mine.’ My lover is shining white and ruddy… his head is purest gold, his locks are curls… his eyes are like doves by streams of water… his cheeks are like beds of spices… (Song of Songs 5:10–13).’

20,000,000 parasangs. Anyone who does not finish with this verse is deviating [from the correct path]. Sprouting aromatic scents. His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh. His arms are coils of gold inset with ruby. His loins are fine-wrought ivory…. His mouth is sweetest drink, all of him, delight. This is my lover and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem (ibid., 14–16). אנטיה טחון יחון טוב טהור יוד יוד יוד יה יה יה חסין יה (‘ANTiYYAH TaḤUN YaḤUN TOV TiHUR Yod Yod Yod Yah Yah Yah ḤaSIN Yah) in place of Yah YahHoly, holy, holy, is YHWH of Armies. The fullness of all the earth is His glory (Isaiah 6:3). His eyebrows are like the measure of the height of the eye. The right eye is called הדרזולד (HaDRaZOLaD) and the left אפדה צציהו (AFDaH TsaTsiYHU). His sideburns are like the height of the forehead. That of the right is called אצטהייא (ATsTaHiYYA) and the left מטטהוצציא (MeTaTHOTsTsIA). Thus the total measure is 100,000,000,000 parasangs high and 10,000,000,000 parasangs wide.

Rabbi Yishma’el said: When I said this thing before Rabbi Akiva, he said to me: Whoever knows shi’ur qomah, the measure of the stature, of the יוֹצֵר בְּרֵאשִׁית (yotser bereshit), Fashioner of Beginning [cf. 3 Enoch 11:1; JT Berakhot 10b], and the praise of the blessed Holy One is protected from all creatures, secure in being a son of the world to come, and they will lengthen his days. Rabbi Yishma’el said: Akiva and I are guarantors in this matter, but only if one recites this mishnah each day.

Blessed is God forever. Amen and amen.

Whoever the Man Desiring Life Keep Your Tongue from Evil and Your Lips from Speaking Deceit

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A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a smooth mouth pushes one down (Proverbs 26:28).

“Did David know the exact time of midnight [as tradition has it]? Even our teacher Moses did not know! As is written: [And Moses said, ‘Thus said YHWH:“Around midnight I am going out in the midst of Egypt”’ (Exodus 11:4). Why around midnight? If we say that the blessed Holy One said to him: Around midnight, is there doubt before Heaven? Rather He told him at midnight, and he came and said: Around midnight. [Apparently] he was in doubt….

Rabbi Zera said: Moses certainly knew…. Since Moses knew, why did he say around midnight? Lest the astrologers of Pharaoh err [in their calculations] and say Moses was a liar. The Master said: Teach your tongue to say, ‘I don’t know,’ lest you be caught in a lie” (BT Berakhot 4a).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yose son of Zimra: What is: What can it give you, what can it add, a tongue of deceit? (Psalms 120:3). The blessed Holy One said to the tongue: All members of the human body are standing, you are lying; all members of the human body are outside, you are guarded inside; not only that, but I surrounded you with two walls, one of bone and one of flesh; What can it give you, what can it add, a tongue of deceit! And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yose son of Zimra: One who bears evil tales almost denies the Root, as is said: Those who said, ‘Let us make our tongue great, our own lips are with us—who is master to us?’ Further did Rabbi Yoḥanan say in the name of Rabbi Yose son of Zimra: Any one who bears evil tales will be visited by the plague of skin blanch, as is said: Who defames in secret his fellow, him אַצְמִית (atsmit), shall I destroy (Psalms 101:5). And there it is said: לַצְּמִיתֻת (La-tsemitut), irreversibly (Leviticus 25:30) which we translate as: לַחֲלוּטִין (la-ḥalutin), absolutely, and we learnt: one afflicted with skin blanch that is shut up differs from one afflicted with skin blanch that is certified unclean only in respect of unkempt hair and torn garments [cf. BT Megillah 8b]. Resh Laqish said: What is the meaning of: This shall be the teaching concerning הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one struck with skin blanch (Leviticus 14:2)? This shall be the teaching concerning מּוֹצִיא שֵׁם רַע (motsi shem ra), one who brings out an evil name. Resh Laqish said further: What is the meaning of: If a snake bites with no snake-charm, there is no advantage for the expert of incantations (Ecclesiastes 10:11)? At some future time all the animals will assemble and come to the serpent and say: The lion attacks and devours; the wolf tears and consumes; but what profit do you have? And he will answer: What benefit has he who uses his tongue? Resh Laqish said further: Whoever speaks with an evil tongue, his guilt reaches the heavens, as is said: They put their mouth up to the heavens, and their tongue goes over the earth (Psalms 73:9).

Rav Ḥisda said in the name of Mar ‘Uqba: One who speaks with an evil tongue deserves to be stoned with stones. It is written here: Him אַצְמִית (atsmit), shall I destroy (Psalms 101:5), and it is written there: צָמְתוּ (Tsametu) They have cut off, my life in the dungeon, and cast stones upon me (Lamentations 3:53). Rav Ḥisda said further in the name of Mar ‘Uqba: Of him who speaks with an evil tongue, the blessed Holy One says: He and I cannot live together in the world, as is said: Who defames in secret his fellow, him shall I destroy. The haughty of eyes and the proud of heart, him shall I not suffer (Psalms 101:5). Do not read: אֹתוֹ (otho), [himshall I not suffer, but אִתּוֹ (itto) [with him] can I not suffer. Some refer this to the arrogant.

Rav Ḥisda said further in the name of Mar ‘Uqba: One who speaks with an evil tongue, the blessed Holy One says to the prince of Hell: I will be against him from above, you be against him from below, and we will condemn him, as is said: A warrior’s honed arrows with broom-wood coals (ibid. 120:4). Arrows means nothing else but the evil tongue, as is said: Their tongue is a sharpened arrow; it speaks deceit: [one speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, but in his heart he lies in wait] (Jeremiah 9:7); and warrior means only the blessed Holy One, as is said: YHWH shall go forth as a mighty man (Isaiah 42:13); and broom-wood coals is Hell. Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥanina said: What is the remedy for those who speak with an evil tongue? If he be a disciple of the wise, let him engage in Torah, as is said: Healing speech is a tree of life (Proverbs 15:4), and לָשׁוֹן (lashon), speech, here means לָשׁוֹן הָרַע (lashon ha-ra), the evil tongue, as is said: Their tongue is a sharpened חֵץ (ḥets), arrow (Jeremiah 9:7), and עֵץ (ets), tree, means only Torah, as is said: עֵץ חַיִּים (ets ḥayyim), a tree of life, is she to those who grasp her, [and those who hold her are deemed happy—מְאֻשָּׁר (me’ushar), happy, is numerically equivalent to יִשְׂרָאֵל (yisra’el), Israel (Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, Ḥayyei ha-Olam ha-Ba, 6b)] (Proverbs 3:18)—but if he be an ignorant person, let him become humble, as is said: But perverse speech breaks the spirit (Proverbs 15:4). Rabbi Aḥa son of Rabbi Ḥanina said: If he has slandered already, there is no remedy for him, for King David, in his holy spirit, has cut him off already, as is said: YHWH will cut off all smooth-talking lips, the tongue that speaks of big things (Psalms 12:4). Nevertheless, what shall be his remedy so that he may not come to [use] an evil tongue? If he be a disciple of the wise, let him engage in Torah, and if he be an ignorant person, let him humble himself, as is said: But perverse speech breaks the spirit.

The academy of Rabbi Yishma’el taught: Whoever speaks with an evil tongue increases his guilt even up to [the degree of] the three [cardinal] transgressions: idolatry, incest [including adultery], and the shedding of blood. It is said here: the tongue that speaks of גְּדֹלוֹת (gidolot), big things (Psalms 12:4), and it is written of idolatry: This people has committed a גְדֹלָה (gedolah), great, offense [they have made themselves gods of gold] (Exodus 32:31). Of incest is written: How could I do this great evil? (Genesis 39:9). And of the shedding of blood it is written: My punishment is too great to bear (ibid. 4:13). Perhaps גְּדֹלוֹת (gidolot), big things, refers to two [transgression of the three]? Which of them would you exclude?

In the West [i.e., the Land of Israel] they say: Talk about third [persons] kills three: him who tells [the slander], him who accepts it, and him about whom it is told. Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥanina said: What is the meaning of: Death and life are in the hand of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21)? Has the tongue ‘a hand’? It tells you that just as the hand can kill, so can the tongue. One might say that just as the hand can kill only one near it, thus also the tongue can kill only one near it, therefore it says: Their tongue is a sharpened arrow (Jeremiah 19:7). Then one might assume that just as an arrow kills only within forty or fifty cubits, thus also the tongue kills only up to forty or fifty cubits, therefore it says: They put their mouth up to the heavens, and their tongue goes over the earth (Psalms 73:9). But since it is written already: They put their mouth up to the heavens, why was it necessary to say also: Their tongue is a sharpened arrow? This is what we are informed: That [the tongue] kills as an arrow. But once it is written: Their tongue is a sharpened arrow, why was it necessary to state: Death and life are in the hand of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21)? It is in accord with Rava; for Rava said: He who wants to live [can find life] through the tongue [by murmuring Torah (Rashi)]; he who wants to die [can find death] through the tongue. What constitutes an evil tongue? Rabbah said: For example [to say] there is fire in the house of So-and-so. Abayye said: What did he do? He just gave information? Rather, when he utters that in slanderous fashion: ‘Where else should there be fire if not in the house of So-and-so? [It implies] there is always meat and fish [available].’ Rabbah said: Whatsoever is said in the presence of the person concerned is not considered an evil tongue. Abayye said to him: But then all the more so it is impudence and an evil tongue! He replied: I hold with Rabbi Yose, for Rabbi Yose said: I have never said a word and looked behind my back.

Rabbah son of Rav Ḥuna said: Whatsoever is said before three is not considered an evil tongue. Why? Your friend has a friend, and your friend’s friend has a friend [i.e., making his statement before three he expects their spreading it in his name, as something that will become known]. When Rav Dimi came [from the Land of Israel] he said: What is the meaning of: Who greets [lit., blesses], his neighbor in a loud voice first thing in the morning, it is reckoned to him a curse (Proverbs 27:14). It refers, for example, to the case of one who happened to stay in a house where they laboured much on his behalf, and next morning he goes out into the street and says: May the Compassionate bless So-and-so, who laboured so much on my behalf. Whereupon people will hear it and come and plunder him.

Rav Dimi, brother of Rav Safra, learnt: Let no man ever talk in praise of his fellow, for through [talking in] his praise he will come to disparage him [i.e., he will say: ‘He is a mensch with the exception of this or that bad habit’]. Some there are who say: Rav Dimi, brother of Rav Safra, was ill. Rav Safra entered to inquire about his state of health. He said, May it come [home] to me that I have kept whatever the Rabbis have enjoined. He said to him: Have you also kept [their command]: Let no man ever talk in praise of his fellow, for through talking in his praise he will come to disparage him? He answered: I have not heard it, for had I heard it, would have kept it” (BT Arakhin 15b).

Place, O YHWH, a watch on my mouth, a guard at the door of my lips (Psalms 141:3).

“Rabbi Ḥiyya opened with the following verse: You shall not curse the deaf… (Leviticus 19:14)—according to its literal meaning, but from this entire portion we learn other matters, and all are interdependent. Come and see: Whoever curses his fellow in his presence, humiliating him, is as though he spills blood, as we have established [see BT Bava Metsi’a 58b]. This verse, however, refers to when one’s fellow is not with him and he curses him—that word ascends. ‘There is not a single word issuing from one’s mouth that lacks a voice. This voice ascends and is joined by many quaestors, until it rises and arouses the place of the Great Abyss, as has been established. How many are roused against this person!

Woe to one from whose mouth issues an evil word, as has been established. Before the blind you shall not put a stumbling block (ibid.)—according to its literal meaning; and they have established it as referring to one who causes another to sin [see BT Pesaḥim 22b], and also to one who strikes his grown son [see BT Mo’ed Qatan 17a]. Before the blind you shall not put a stumbling block—referring to one who has not attained the qualification to render legal decisions and yet does so, as we have learned [see BT Sotah 22a, cf. Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Talmud Torah 5:4], for it is written for many the victims she has felled… (Proverbs 7:26). This one transgresses and before the blind you shall not put a stumbling block, for he causes his fellow to stumble in the world that is coming [cf. BT Gittin 43a: ‘This stumbling block is in your hands (Isaiah 3:6). One does not understand words of Torah unless one has stumbled over them’]” (Zohar 3:84b–85b).

Whoever the man desiring life, who loves long days to see good, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit (Psalms 34:13–14, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 19b).

“Do not read You are עַמִּי (ammi), My people (Jeremiah 30:3), but rather You are עִמִּי (immi), with Me, becoming My partner! Just as I made heaven and earth by speaking, as is said: By the word of YHWH, the heavens were made (Psalms 33:6), so do you. Happy are those engaged in Torah!” (Zohar 1:5a).