The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: Torah

She Reveals Herself to No One but Her Lover

ritual4b

“A bride who lives in the house of her father. So long as her eyes are beautiful her body needs no examination” (BT Ta’anit 24a).

She says: We are a bride adorned and crowned, and all the mitsvot are included within [us]. She is Treasury of the Torah and the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, as is written, ‘Torah did Moses charge us, a heritage for Jacob’s assembly! (Deuteronomy 33:4). Do not read מוֹרָשָׁה (morashah), a heritage, but rather מְאוֹרָסָה (me’orasah), the betrothed‘ (BT Berakhot 57a; Pesaḥim 49b) [cf. M Avot 2:17; Bemidbar Rabbah 8:2]. How is this so? When the people of Israel study Torah for her own sake, then she is the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, then she is the heritage of Israel. How is this so? When Israel engages in Torah for Her own sake, then She is the betrothed of the blessed Holy One, then She is the heritage of Israel” (Bahir §196).

“Who is a beautiful maiden without eyes, her body concealed and revealed, she emerges in the morning and is concealed by day, adorning herself with adornments which are not?… Torah [who] emerges from her sheath, is seen for a moment, then quickly hides away—certainly so, but when she reveals herself from her sheath and quickly hides, she does so only for those who know her and recognize her. This may be compared to a beloved, beautiful in form and appearance, concealed secretly in her palace. She has a single lover unknown to anyone—except to her, concealedly. Out of the love that he feels for her, this lover passes by her gate constantly, lifting his eyes to every side. Knowing that her lover hovers about her gate constantly, what does she do? She opens a little window in her hidden palace, revealing her face to her lover, then swiftly withdraws, concealing herself. No one near him sees or reflects, only the lover, and his heart and his soul and everything within him flow out to her. He knows that out of love for him she revealed herself for that one moment to awaken love in him. So it is with a word of Torah: she reveals herself to no one but her lover” (Zohar 2:94b–95a, 99a, cf. Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 4b; Rabbi Moshe de Léon, Sheqel ha-Qodesh 113).

“He מְסַפֵּר (mesaper), ‘relates,’ 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]” (BT Nedarim 20b).

The Secret of Torah Must Be Closed Up and Sealed

IMG_1060

YHWH’s secret is for those who fear Him (Psalms 25:14).

“As the thigh is concealed, so are the words of Torah concealed” (BT Mo’ed Qatan 16a–b).

“What is meant by [But her trade and her whore’s pay shall be consecrated to YHWH. It shall not be stocked and shall not be stored, but her trade shall be for those dwelling before YHWH, eating their fill, and] לִמְכַסֶּה עָתִיק (limkhasseh athiq), for covering themselves in rich attire (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 the Ancient of Days concealed. What are those? Reasons of Torah [lit., Flavors of Torah]” (BT Pesaḥim 119a).

“May your feet run to hear the words of the Ancient of Days” (BT Berakhot 17a).

“Rav Huna in the name of Son of Qappara opened: Let lying lips תֵּאָלַמְנָה (te’alamnah), be silent (Psalms 31:19)—let them be bound, made dumb, and silenced. ‘Let them be bound’—as in the verse, And, look, we were מְאַלְּמִים אֲלֻמִּים (me’allemim alummim), binding sheaves, in the field, and, look my sheaf rose (Genesis 37:7); ‘Made dumb’—as you read, Or who makes him אִלֵּם (illem), mute, or deaf, or sighted or blind? Is it not I, YHVH (Exodus 4:11); ‘and silenced’—as understood. That speak עָתָק (ataq), haughty, against the just in arrogance and contempt (Psalms ibid.)—against the Righteous One, חַי הָעוֹלָמִים (ḥai ha-olamim), Vitality of the Worlds, on matters which הֶעְתִּיק (he’ettiq), which He has covered, from His creatures. In arrogance—in order to be arrogant and say, ‘I expound on the Account of Creation.’ And contempt—to hold My glory in contempt! For Rabbi Yose son of Ḥanina said: Whoever honors himself by disgracing his fellow has no share in the World to Come. How much more so the Omnipresent’s glory! And what is written after it? How great Your goodness that You hid for those who fear You (ibid., 20)—Rav said: Let him have nothing of Your great goodness. When a king of flesh and blood builds palaces on a site of sewers, dunghills, and garbage, if one says, ‘This palace is built on a place of sewers, on a place of dunghills, and on a place of decay does he not disgrace it? Thus, whoever comes to say that this world was created out of welter and waste, does he not disgrace [Omnipresent’s glory]! Rav Huna said in Son of Qappara’s name: If the matter were not written, it would be impossible to say it: In the beginning Elohim created (Genesis 1:1); out of what? And the earth was תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ (tohu va-vohu), welter and waste (ibid., 2)” (Bereshit Rabbah 1:5).

Wine that gladdens the heart of man (Psalms 104:15). This is the wine of Torah, for יַיִן (yayin), wine, is numerically equivalent to סוֹד (sod), secret [cf. BT Sanhedrin 38a]. Just as wine has to be kept sealed so that it should not be used in a libation for idol worship, so also must the secret of Torah be closed up and sealed, and not be disclosed other than to those who fear Him. And it is not for nothing that several decrees are performed בַּיַיִן (ba-yayin), with wine, and blessings to the blessed Holy One are said with it. Wine comes in ב״ (two) colors: white and red, which are Judgment and Compassion. And this is why we have the added ב (bet) in בַּיַיִן (ba-yayin), with wine [ב (bet) is numerically equivalent to two and alludes to the two qualities of Judgment and Compassion]. It is like the rose which has in it both white and red, white from the right side, and red from the left side.

Why does it say לְבַב (le-vav), the heart, of man? It should have said לֵב (lev), heart? There is one heart [Binah] hidden within another heart [Shekhinah]. They are ל״ב (thirty-two) [iterations of] אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) in the Work of Creation. And the ב (bet) of בְּרֵאשִׁית (bereshit), in the beginning (Genesis 1:1), and the ל (lamed) of לְעֵינֵי כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל (le-einei kal yisra’el), before the eyes of all Israel (Deuteronomy 34:12) [i.e., the first verse and the last verse of the Five Books of Moses]. Twice לֵב (lev), heart, is sixty-four, which is eight less than seventy-two; [seventy-two is numerically equivalent to:] וַיְכֻלּוּ (va-yekhulu), and were completed (Genesis 2:1). These are the seven days of Creation. What of the eighth [to complete the seventy-two]? The seven days of Creation together with This is the book of the lineage of Adam (Genesis 5:1) [which is also considered to be a day of Creation]. And this seventy-two is also the sum of בַּיַיִן (ba-yayin), ‘with wine’” (Zohar 3:215b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas, cf. Zohar 2:124b).

Words of Torah Only Remain with Him Who Makes Himself Like One Who is as Nothing

Tisha bAv“[Alexander of Macedonia asked the Sages of the Negev:] What shall a man do to live? They replied: Let him kill himself. What should a man do to kill himself? They replied: Let him keep himself alive” (BT Tamid 32a).

“As for the mystery of equanimity, Rabbi Avner told me the following: ‘A lover of wisdom came to one who secluded himself in meditation and asked to be accepted as one of them. The master of meditation replied, ‘My son, may you be blessed from heaven, for your intention is good. But let me know: Have you attained equanimity or not?’ He responded, ‘Master, clarify your words.’ He explained, ‘My son if one person honors you and another humiliates you, are the two equal in your eyes or not?’ He answered, ‘By the life of your soul, my master! I do feel pleasure and satisfaction from the one who honors me and pain from the one who humiliates me—but I am not vengeful nor do I bear a grudge.’ The master said, ‘My son, go away in peace. For as long as you have not attained equanimity and still feel humiliation from something done to you, you are not ready for your thought to be linked on high. You are not ready to come and seclude yourself in meditation. But go and humble your heart further, genuinely, until you attain equanimity. Then you can experience aloneness” (Rabbi Yitsḥaq of Akko, Me’irat Einayim, translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 118).

“Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Ḥanina said: Words of Torah only remain with him who renders himself naked on their behalf; as it is said: I, Wisdom, dwell in shrewdness [lit., nakedness] (Proverbs 8:12). Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Words of Torah only remain with him who makes himself like one who is as אַיִן (ayin), nothing, as it is said: מֵאַיִן (me-ayin), from nothing, comes Wisdom (Job 28:12)” (BT Sotah 21b).

“This is alluded to in that the letters of אֲנִי (Ani), I, are the same as אַיִן (ayin), nothing” (Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, Sha’arei Orah).

The fear of YHWH is His treasury (Isaiah 33:6)—a man must first fear Heaven, then he can learn Torah. This is like someone who comes to buy date honey but does not bring a vessel in which to carry it” (Bahir §186).

“Rabbi El’azar opened, Lift your eyes on high and see: Who created these? (Isaiah 40:26). Lift your eyes on high. To which site? The site toward which all eyes gaze. Which is that? Opening of the eyes [Shekhinah] (Genesis 38:14) [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 85:7]. There you will discover that the concealed ancient one, susceptible to questioning, created these. Who is that? מִי (Mi), Who [Binah]. The one called End of Heaven above, whose domain extends over everything. Since it can be questioned, yet remains concealed and unrevealed, it is called Who. Beyond, there is no question.

This end of heaven is called Who. There is another below, called What [Shekhinah]. What distinguishes the two? The first, concealed one—called Who—can be questioned. Once a human being questions and searches [cf. Bahir §194], contemplating and knowing rung after rung to the very last rung—once one reaches there: What? What do you know? What have you contemplated? For what have you searched? All is concealed, as before….

Your ruin is as vast as the ocean (Lamentations 2:13). Yet if you say you cannot endure or be healed, then מִי (Mi), Who, will heal you (ibid.), really! That concealed, high rung in which all exists will heal you and raise you up” (Zohar 1:1b).

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).