The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: tzimtzum

He Traced a Circle on the Face of the Deep

IMG_0951The carpenter stretches a line, marks the outline with a stylus, he makes it with a plane, marks the outline with a compass, and makes it in the form of man, human splendor to set in a temple (Isaiah 44:13).

When He traced a circle on the face of the deep… when He set to the sea its limit (Proverbs 8:27–9).

“Come and see: Every circle in the world is formed from the midst of the single point standing in its center” (Zohar Ḥadash 5b, Sitrei Otiyyot).

“From a single point you can extend the dimensions of all things. Similarly, when the concealed arouses itself to exist, at first it brings into being something the size of the point of a needle, from there it generates everything” (Rabbi Moshe de León, Sheqel ha-Qodesh, 23–26, translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 69).

“When enclosed and hidden within itself, within the supernal point above, She [Binah] assumes the form of the letter ס (samekh), enclosed within and hidden, ascending above. And when She returns and sits רְבִיעָא (revi’a), crouching, over children below to suckle them, She assumes the form of the letter ם (mem), רְבִיעָא (revi’a), quadrilateral, enclosed in four directions of the world [the first appearance of the letter ס (samekh) in the Torah is in the word הַסֹּבֵב (ha-sovev), surrounds (Genesis 2:11), and its second appearance is in the word וַיִּסְגֹּר (va-yisgor), closed (ibid., 21), see Bereshit Rabbah 17:6]” (Zohar 2:127a).

Ripples

IMG_1217“Ten sefirot of emptiness—bridle, your mouth from speaking, bridle your heart from conceiving. And if your heart races return to the Place, as is written, Racing back and forth [like the appearance of sparks (or: lightening)] (Ezekiel 1:14)—concerning this a pact was sealed” (Sefer Yetsirah §5).

“But sometimes truth flashes out to us so that we think that it is day, and then matter and habit in their various forms conceal it so that we find ourselves again in an obscure night, almost as we were at first. We are like someone in a very dark night over whom the lightning flashes time and time again” (Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 4b, cf. BT Sanhedrin 98b).

“Like pondering a thought: the light of that thought suddenly darkens, vanishes; then it returns and shines—and vanishes again. No one can understand the content of that light. It is like the light that appears when water ripples in a bowl: shining here, suddenly disappearing—then reappearing somewhere else. You think that you have grasped the light, when suddenly it escapes, radiating elsewhere. You pursue it, hoping to catch it—but you cannot. Yet you cannot bring yourself to leave. You keep pursuing it” (Rabbi Moshe de León, Sheqel ha-Qodesh 113 translated in Matt, The Essential Kabbalah: The Heart of Jewish Mysticism, p. 114).

“[In the center of the fire the likeness of the חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber (Ezekiel 1:4)]. It has been established that חֵיוָן אֶשָּׁא מְמַלְּלָן (ḥeivan esha memall’lan), fiery beings speaking, are the splendor that shines, it goes up and down, the fire that is burning. It exists and does not exist, for there is no one who can understand it in one place. No eyes or vision can master it. It is and it is not, in one place and then in another place. It goes up and down. In this appearance is hidden that which is hidden and that which is concealed. This is the mystery called חַשְׁמַל (ḥashmal), amber. Prophets must see, know, and contemplate within this with the vision of the heart and eye more than anything else.… All that they contemplate to see and to know is the speculum that does not shine. No prophet merited to contemplate the speculum that shines but Moses, the faithful prophet, for all the keys of the house were placed in his hand. When all the other prophets reached this amber to contemplate with their eyes, their thoughts were confused and the heart was not settled, and because of it they abandoned all corporeal images. Consequently, they saw within what they saw in silence” (Zohar Ḥadash 38b, adapted from Wolfson, Through a Speculum that Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, cf. Zohar 2:82a).

“In a barraita it is taught: [חַשְׁמַל (Ḥashmal)] עִתִּים חֲשׁוֹת עִתִּים מְמַלְּלוֹת (ittim ḥashot ittim mimallot), at times they are silent, at times they speak—when the utterance emanates from the mouth of the blessed Holy One they are silent, and when the utterance does not emanates from the mouth of the blessed Holy One they speak” (BT Ḥagigah 13b).

Stoic Like a Lion Until Morning

IMG_0959

Three things stride handsomely and four things handsomely walk: the lion, mightiest of beasts, who does not turn back from anything, the rooster and the he-goat, and the king against whom none can stand (Proverbs 30:29–31).

“The lion is saying, YHWH sallies forth as a warrior, as a man of war He stirs up fury. He raises the battle cry, even bellows, over His enemies (Isaiah 42:13)” (Pereq Shirah).

“Yehudah son of Teima said: Be as bold as a leopard, swift as an eagle, fleet as a gazelle, and as mighty as a lion, to do the will of your Father in Heaven” (M Avot 5:24).

“Who is strong? One who turns an enemy into a friend” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan 23:1).

“Son of Zoma said: Who is strong? One who masters his [evil] impulse, as is written, Better patience than a warrior, and he who governs his spirit, than a conqueror of towns (Proverbs 16:32)” (M Avot 4:1).

“Abba Ḥanan said: Who is like You, powerful Yah? (Psalms 89:9). Who is like You, powerful—indurate, that You hear the blaspheming and insults of that wicked man and keep silent? In the academy of Rabbi Yishma’el it was taught: Who is like You among אֵלִם (elim), the gods? (Exodus 15:11). Who is like you among the אִלֵּמִים (illemim), mute” (BT Gittin 56b, cf. Ginnat Egoz 11c; 13d; Zohar 1:36b; 3:221a [RM]; Shemot Rabbah 34:1).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The blessed Holy One—wherever you find His strength you find His meekness” (BT Megillah 31a).

“Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said: Why were they called men of the Great Assembly? Because they restored the Crown of Glory. [For] Moses had come and said: The great and mighty and fearsome God (Deuteronomy 10:17).

Then Jeremiah came and said: Foreigners carousing in His Palace! Where is His fearsomeness? It does not say fearsome [see Jeremiah 32:17: Ah YHWH God! behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great might and outstretched arm, and there is nothing too hard for You].

Daniel came and said: Foreigners are enslaving His sons. Where are His mighty deeds? It does not say mighty [see Daniel 9:4: O Master, great and fearsome God].

But [the men of the Great Assembly] came and said: On the contrary! Therein lies His Might, since He subdues His impulse and He extends patience to the wicked. Therein lies His fearsomeness: For but for the fear of Him, how could one [single] nation persist among the [many] nations! But how could [the earlier] Rabbis [namely, Jeremiah and Daniel] abolish something established by Moses? Rabbi El’azar said: Since they knew that the blessed Holy One insists on Truth, they would not ascribe false [things] to Him [since to them the circumstances indicated that He wished to subdue His mighty or fearsome deeds]” (BT Yoma 69b).

As the lion growls, the manned beast over its prey, when a shepherd’s band gathers against it, it fears not their voice, nor is cowed by their clamor (Isaiah 31:4).

I make myself stoic, like a lion until morning (Isaiah 38:13).

And he shall call out, [like] a lion on lookout: “My Lord I stand perpetually by day and on my watch I am stationed all through the nights (Isaiah 21:8).

Should we accept only good from God and not accept evil? (Job 2:10).

“My God, guard my tongue from evil and my lips from deceitful speech. To those who curse me, may my soul be silent; may my soul be to all like the dust” (BT Berakhot 17a).

“Over evil a blessing is said similar to that over good and over good a blessing is said similar to that over evil” (BT Berakhot 54a).

“There is nothing good higher than עֹנֶג (oneg), delight, there is nothing evil lower than נֶגַע (nega), affliction” (Sefer Yetsirah 2:2).

Only doing justice and loving kindness and walking humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). What is walking humbly with your God? To escort the dead to the grave and lead the bride to the bridal chamber [both with equanimity]” (BT Sukkah 49b).

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).

Night Vision

Starry_Night_Over_the_Rhone“There is a visionary mirror reflecting supernal colors, envisioned in that visionary mirror [Shekhinah]; there is vision within vision, and vision within vision, one above the other, all poised on specific rungs, presiding, called night vision (Daniel 2:19). Through them spread all dreams of the world, these resembling those above” (Zohar 1:196a).

“Come and see: All prophets of the world absorb from a single facet, through two known rungs [Netsaḥ and Hod which are considered a single field of prophetic vision]. Those rungs appeared through a dim glass, as is written: בַּמַּרְאָה (ba-mar’ah), in a vision, I make Myself known to him (Numbers 12:6). Who is ba-mar’ah? As has been said: a mirror in which all colors appear; this is the dim glass” (Zohar 1:183a, cf. ibid. 2:82b).

“[Moses the Faithful Shepherd] said ‘[Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai,] Holy Lamp, this vision is at times preceded by the letter ה (he), as in, And it was according to the appearance of הַמַּרְאֶה (ha-mar’eh), the vision [which I saw] (Ezekiel 43:3) and at times by the letter ב (bet), as in, I make Myself known to him בַּמַּרְאָה (ba-mar’ah), in a vision (Numbers 12:6); at times by מ (mem), as in, מִמַּרְאֵה (mi-mar’eh), from the appearance, of his waist and downward (Ezekiel 1:27), at times with כ (kaf), as in, כְּמַרְאֵה (ke-mar’eh), as the appearance, of a man upon it (ibid., 26); sometimes by ו (vav), as in, וּמַרְאֵה (u-mar’eh), And the sight, of the glory of YHWH (Exodus 24:17), and ל (lamed), as in, as soon as she לְמַרְאֵה (le-mar’eh), saw, them with her eyes (Ezekiel 23:16). Yet it did not need an additional letter at all except ב (bet) of בַּמַּרְאָה (ba-mar’ah). But surely this mirror [Shekhinah] comprehends ten sefirot, and each letter indicates its sefirah, namely כְּמַרְאֵה (ke-mar’ah) with כ (kaf), indicates כֶּתֶר (keter), Crown, and so on; the rest of the letters each indicates its own sefirah. And there is no need to speak here at length, a hint is sufficient for the wise….’

דִּמְיוֹנוֹת וְחֶזְיוֹנוֹת (Dimyonot ve-ḥezyonot), images and visions, are like discerning one thing from another; likening one thing to another, but a vision that is in the mind’s eye is like a light that shines on the pupil of the eye since the pupil [Shekhinah] is black, as is written, I am black but desirable (Song of Songs 1:5), with the white light in the eye that shines. This pupil of the eye is called the mitsvah is a lamp (Proverbs 6:23), and the light that shines within it from inside is, and Torah a light (ibid.)….

The dream is with the eyes shut for which reason it is called the dim glass. Prophecy is a vision with open eyes, since the three colors of the eye correspond to the three patriarchs [Ḥesed, GevurahTif’eret] in which the only Daughter [בַּת עֵינָא (bat eina), daughter of the eye, i.e., the pupil of the eye] shines. The two sides of the eyes are Netsaḥ and Hod, and the vision [of prophecy] is seen only through them. When they are open it is a waking vision and when they are shut it is a vision in a dream” (Zohar 3:280b–81a, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

Pearls, Drop by Drop, All Linking as One

“Come and see: There are three souls, ascending by certain rungs, and as for their being three, they are four. One: transcendent soul that cannot be grasped. The supreme royal treasurer is unaware of it, let alone the lower one. This is soul of all souls, concealed, eternally unrevealed, unknowable—and all of them depend upon it. This envelops itself in a wrapping of crystal radiance within radiancy, and drips pearls, drop by drop, all linking as one, like joints of limbs of one body—one. It enters them, displaying through them its activity; this and they are one, inseparable. This supernal soul is hidden to all. Another soul: female concealing herself within her forces. She is their soul, and out of them a body is woven, to display activity through them to the whole world—like the body, which is an instrument for the soul to convey action. These correspond to those hidden joints above” (Zohar 1:245b).

“This Holy Spirit becomes like a body so that another spirit may be continued within it—supernal, subtle, luminous. So all is embraced and contained, one in another, entering one another, until finally embraced within this world, the last external shell. The hard shell is within the shell of this world—like a nut, whose outer shell is not hard but whose inner shell is. So too above: the hard shell is the other spirit ruling the body; within it is a thin shell, and within that the kernel” (Zohar 2:141a).

“Three courts are four; four courts above, four below, as is written: You shall not commit perversion in justicein measure, in weight, or in capacity (Leviticus 19:35). Harsh judgment, judgment that is not harsh; balanced judgment, judgement that is not balanced; mild judgement, judgment not even this or that” (Zohar 2:179a, Sifra di-Tsni’uta).

Come and see: How many hidden causes are clothed and conveyed by the sefirot! The sefirot are but chariots to them, for they are concealed from human thought. Of them is written: [If you see the oppression of the poor and the perversion of justice and right in the province, be not amazed at the matter,for he who is high has a higher one watching him, and still higher ones over them (Ecclesiastes 5:7)—נְהוֹרִין מְצוּחְצָחִין (nehorin metsuḥtsaḥin), glaring white lights, these above those, but those that are receptacles are darkness compared to the others above them. And their is no light that can exist before the עִלַּת הָעִלּוֹת (illat ha-illot), Cause of Causes, all lights are darkened before Him” (Zohar 1:23a, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

“The Holy Ancient One, concealed of all concealed. Separate, separated from all, yet not separate; for all are joined to it, and it is joined to all. It itself is all!” (Zohar 3:288a, Idra Zuta).