The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: voice

No Image did You See Except the Sound

“[Rabbi Akiva said:] All the people were seeing the thunderings (Exodus 20:15)…. They were seeing the fiery word issuing from the mouth of Power and being engraved on the tablets” (Mekhilta, Baḥodesh 9).

“[Rabbi Amorai] said: What is written: And all the people were seeing the thunderings, and the flashes (Exodus 20:15)—is thunder, visible? But and all the people were seeing אֶת הַקּוֹלֹת (et ha-qolot), the thunderings, are those קוֹלוֹת (qolot), voicesof which King David spoke:

YHWH’s voice is over the waters. The God of glory thunders (Psalms 29:3). 

YHWH’s voice in power (ibid., 4), and it says, By the power, of My hand I have done it (Isaiah 10:13); Indeed My hand also has laid the foundation of the earth, [and My right hand has spread out the heavens: when I call to them, they stand up together] (ibid. 48:13).

YHWH’s voice in majesty (Psalms 29:4); Glory and grandeur His acts and His bounty stands for all time (ibid. 111:3).

YHWH’s voice breaking cedars (ibid. 29:5)—the bow that breaks cypress trees and cedar trees.

YHWH’s voice hews flames of fire (ibid., 7)—making peace between water and fire, hewing the power of fire and preventing it from evaporating water. Preventing water from extinguishing fire.

YHWH’s voice makes the wilderness shake (ibid., 8), as is said, And doing kindness with His anointed, for David and his seed forever (ibid. 18:51)—more than in the wilderness [when the Israelites were miraculously fed manna].

YHWH’s voice brings on the birth-pangs of does and lays bare the forests. And in His Temple all says glory (Psalms 29:9), as is written, I make you swear, O daughters of Jerusalem by the deer or the gazelles of the field, [that you shall not rouse not stir love until it pleases] (Song of Songs 2:7). To teach you that with seven קוֹלוֹת (qolot), voices, Torah was given. With each of them the Master of the Universe revealed Himself over them, and they saw Him. Thus it is written, And all the people were seeing אֶת הַקּוֹלֹת (et ha-qolot), the sounds.

One verse says: He tilted the heavens, came down, dense mist beneath His feet (2 Samuel 22:10). Another verse says: And YHWH came down on Mount Sinai, to the mountaintop (Exodus 19:20). However, still another verse says, From the heavens I spoke with you (Exodus 20:22). How is this so? And on the earth His great fire (Deuteronomy 4:36)—one voice. The other voices were in the heavens, as is written, From the heavens He made you hear His voice to reprove you, and on the earth He showed you His great fire, and His words you heard, from the midst of the fire (ibid.). But what was it? Great fire. From where did דִבּוּר (dibbur), Speech, emanate? From fire, as is written, and His words you heard, from the midst of the fire

What is but no image did you see except the voice (Deuteronomy 4:12)? As Moses said to Israel: for you saw no whole image [on the day YHWH spoke to you from the midst of the fire, lest you act ruinously and make you a sculpted image of any likeness…] (Deuteronomy 4:15)—an image, but not כָּל תְּמוּנָה (kal temunah), a whole image [cf. Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, 1:3].

A parable: A king stood over his slaves wrapped in a white covering—is this not enough to hold הַמַּלְכוּת (ha-malkhut), the kingship, in awe?—that they gaze upon his garment. Though the king was at a distance they heard his voice [see Exodus 20:19–20; Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 41]. Were they able to see his throat? You must say not. This teaches that they saw an image, but not a whole image. Thus it is written, but no image did you see except the קוֹל (qol), sound [or: voice]. It is also written, קוֹל דְּבָרִים (Qol devarim), the sound of words, you did hear.

One verse says: And all the people were seeing אֶת הַקּוֹלֹת (et ha-qolot), the sounds (Exodus 20:15). However, another verse says: קוֹל דְּבָרִים (Qol devarim), the sound of words, you did hear (Deuteronomy 4:12). How? At first they saw the voices. What did they see? The seven voices spoken of by David. But in the end they heard דִבּוּר (dibbur), Speech, emanating from the midst of them all. But we have learned that there were ten. Our Rabbis taught that they were all uttered with a single word [see Tanḥuma, Yitro 11]. But we have said that there were seven. There were seven voices. Of three of them is written: The sound of words you did hear but no image did you see except the sound (Deuteronomy 4:12). To teach you that they were all uttered with a single word. This is so that Israel should not err and say, ‘Others helped Him. Perhaps one of the angels, since His voice alone could not be so powerful.’ Thus on their account He returned and included them [in a single word].

Another interpretation: It was so that the world should not say that since there were עֲשָׂרָה מַאֲמָרוֹת (asarah ma’amarot), ten sayings, for ten kings it might be that He could not speak for them all through one. He therefore said אָנֹכִי (Anokhi), I (Exodus 20:2), which included all ten. What are the ten kings? They are the שֶׁבַע קּוֹלֹת (sheva qolot), seven voices, and שְׁלֹשָׁה אֹמְרִים (sheloshah omrim), three sayings. But what sayings? And YHWH has proclaimed you today [to be to Him a treasured people, as He has spoken to you…] (Deuteronomy 26:18). But what are three? The beginning of wisdom is—get חָכְמָה (ḥokhmah), wisdom, and in all that you get, get בִינָה (binah), discernment (Proverbs 4:7) [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 17–18]. Therefore it is written [Yet it is a spirit in man,] and Shaddai’s breath that grants insight (Job 32:8)—Shaddai’s breath is תְּבִינֵם (tevinem), insight. What is third? As the old man said to the child, ‘Seek not things that are too hard for you, and search not things that are hidden from you. Reflect on the things that have been permitted you; you have no business with mysteries’ (BT Ḥagigah 13a) [see Ben Sira 3:21–22]” (Bahir §§45–49).

“This is the mystery of All the people saw the sounds and the flashes, and the sound of the shofar (Exodus 20:15). The sounds—these are the other letters that emerged from those sounds (as we have said), appearing in the air before the eyes of all, as is written: the sounds. It is not written all the people saw הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), sounds, but rather אֶת הַקּוֹלֹת (et ha-qolot), the sounds, alluding to the [entire sequence of] letters [from א (alef) to ת (tav)] that issued from them” (Zohar Ḥadash 41c).

“[Rabbi Yoḥanan said:] The voice went forth and split into seven voices, and from seven voices into seventy languages, so that all the nations would hear. Each and every nation heard His voice in its own language [see Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, Or ha-Sekhel 7: ‘שִׁבעִים לָשׁוֹנוֹת (Shevi’im lashonot), seventy languages, is numerically equivalent to צֵירוּף הָאוֹתִיּוֹת (tseruf ha-otiyyot), permutation of the letters’]” (TanḥumaShemot 25).

There were thunderings and lighting (Exodus 19:16). Rabbi Abba said, ‘It is spelled קֹלֹת (qolot), thunderings, deficiently [i.e., spelled without a ו (vav)]—two קָלִין (qalin), voices, turning back into one, issuing from one another: air from water, and water from air. It has been taught: Two that are one; one, an entirety encompassing two.

Rabbi Yose said, ‘קֹלֹת (Qolot)—one that is great and mighty, never ceasing. For it has been taught: In four cycles in the year the voice ceases, and then judgments arouse in the world; but this voice, comprising other voices, never ceases and is never deprived of its full existence and potency. This voice is voice of voices, a voice containing other voices.’

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Voice issues only from the aspect of air and water, and voice generates voice, intermingling, and it is spelled קֹלֹת (qolot).’

And lighting (Exodus 19:16). Rabbi Yose said, ‘This corresponds to what is written: He makes lightning for the rain (Psalms 135:7)—a flame in diadems, cluster of compassion, in unsubsiding love. It has been taught: Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Torah was given from the side of Gevurah. Rabbi Yose said, ‘If so, it is on the left side!’ He replied, ‘It returned to the right, as is written: From His right hand, a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2), and it is written Your right hand, O YHWH, glorious in power (Exodus 15:6). We find left turning into right, and right into left; thus Gevurah is on the left.’

And a heavy cloud on the mountain (Exodus 19:16)—a mighty cloud settling in its place, not moving. וְקֹל (Ve-qol), And the voice of, a shofar, very strong (ibid.)—out of this mighty cloud issues that voice, as is said: when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness (Deuteronomy 5:20).

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘There were three types of darkness, as is written: darkness, cloud, and dense fog (ibid. 4:11), and that voice issued as inmost of all.’ Rabbi Yose said, ‘Inmost of all, of which is written a mighty voice, unceasing (ibid. 5:19).

Rabbi Abba said, ‘It is written: All the people were seeing הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), the voices (Exodus 20:15). Were seeing—the verse should read were hearing. However, we have learned as follows: Those קָלִין (qalin), voices, were engraved in that darkness, cloud, and dense fog, and were visible in them as a body is visible, and they saw what they saw and heard what they heard from within that darkness, dense fog, and cloud. From within the vision they saw, they were illumined by the supernal radiance and knew what later generations coming after them would not know. They all saw face-to-face, as is written: Face-to-face YHWH spoke [with you]… (Deuteronomy 5:4).’

What did they see? Rabbi Yose taught, ‘Radiance of those voices—for there was not a single voice that did not shine radiantly, enabling them to gaze upon all hidden, concealed treasures and all generations that will appear until King Messiah. Therefore, All the people were seeing הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), the voices—actually seeing!” (Zohar 2:81a–b).

“When the blessed Holy One revealed Himself on Mount Sinai, when Torah was given to Israel in ten utterances, each and every utterance generated a voice, and that voice branched into seventy voices, all shining and sparkling before the eyes of all Israel, who saw eye-to-eye the splendor of His Glory, as is written: All the people were seeing הַקּוֹלֹת (ha-qolot), the voices (Exodus 20:15)—actually seeing!

That voice warned every single Israelite, saying to him, ‘Will you accept me upon yourselves with such-and-such commands of Torah?’ They replied, ‘Yes.’ It returned, circling round his head, and warned him, saying, ‘Will you accept me upon yourselves with such-and-such penalties of Torah?’ Each one said, ‘Yes.’ Afterward, that voice returned and kissed him on the mouth, as is written: O that he would kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! (Song of Songs 1:2)” (Zohar 2:146a).

The Three Oaths

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“Rabbi Zeira was evading Rav Yehudah because he wanted to go up to the land of Israel while Rav Yehudah had said, ‘Whoever goes up from Babylon to the land of Israel transgresses a positive commandment, for it is said, To Babylonia shall they be brought, and there shall they be until the day I attend to them and bring them up and return them to this place (Jeremiah 27:22).’ But Rabbi Zeira [says this verse refers] to the vessels of ministry [as is written, For thus said YHWH of Armies God of Israel concerning the vessels remaining in the house of YHWH… (ibid., 21)]. And Rav Yehudah?—it is also written: I make you swear, O daughters of Jerusalem by the deer or the gazelles of the field… (Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5).

And Rabbi Zeira?—this implies that Israel shall not go up [all together as if surrounded] by a wall [alt., ‘like a wall’]. And Rav Yehudah?—another swear to Me is written in Scripture. And Rabbi Zeira?—this is required for [an exposition] like that of Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Ḥanina who said: ‘What was the purpose of those three adjurations [see Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5; 5:8]? One, that Israel shall not go up [altogether as if surrounded] by a wall; the second, that whereby the blessed Holy One adjured Israel that they shall not rebel against the nations of the world; and the third is that whereby the blessed Holy One adjured the nations that they shall not oppress Israel יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי (yoter middai), too much’ [cf. Zohar Ḥadash 56c: ‘It will be discovered that they had oppressed excessively by a measure and a half. In response, He demotes them from every realm and branch’].

And Rav Yehudah?—it is written that you will not rouse not stir love until it is ripe (Song of Songs 2:7). And Rabbi Zeira?—that text is required for [an exposition] like that of Rabbi Levi who stated: ‘What was the purpose of those six adjurations [each of the three adjurations is repeated]?—three for the purposes just mentioned and the others, that [the prophets] shall not make known the end, that [the people] shall not delay the end [by their misdeeds], and that they shall not reveal the secret to the nations.’ By the deer or the gazelles of the field—Rabbi El’azar explained: The blessed Holy One said to Israel, ‘If you will keep the adjuration, well and good; but if not, I will permit your flesh [to be a prey] like [that of] the deer or the gazelles of the field’” (BT Ketubbot 110b–111a).

“Resh Laqish was swimming in the Jordan. Thereupon Rabbah son of Son of Ḥana came and gave him the hand: If she is a wall, we will build on her a silver turret. If she is a door, we will besiege her with cedar boards (Song of Songs 8:9). Had you [Assembly of Israel] made yourself like a wall and had all come up in the days of Ezra, you would have been compared to silver, which no rottenness can ever affect. Now that you have come up like doors, you are like cedar boards, over which rottenness prevails” (BT Yoma 9b).

“Rabbi Yose said to him, ‘All this is longer than the Companions have established, namely, one day of exile for Assembly of Israel, no more, as is written: He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13).’ He replied, ‘So I learned from father in the mysteries of letters of the Holy Name, the duration of the world and the days of Creation—all a single mystery” (Zohar 1:116a–18b).

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq opened, ‘Before the day breathes and the shadows flee (Song of Songs 4:6). Before the day breathes—the exile of Israel; that they would be subjugated in exile until the day when rule of the peoples is ended.’ For we have learned that Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘The dominion of all peoples together over Israel would last one thousand years. There is no people that would not subjugate them. ‘One day’ corresponds to: But it shall be one day which shall be known to YHWH, [not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light] (Zechariah 14:7).

Another explanation: Before the day שֶׁיָּפוּחַ (sheyafuaḥ), breathes—before that day the peoples יָפוּחַ (yafuaḥ), expire. And the shadows flee—princes ruling over them. I will hurry to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense (Song of Songs 4:6). Said the blessed Holy One ‘I will betake Myself to shake the peoples from Jerusalem, the הַר הַמּוֹר (har ha-mor), the mountain of myrrh,’ as is written, Jerusalem on הַר הַמּוֹרִיָּה (har ha-moriyah), mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1). And to the hill of frankincense—the Temple that is in Zion, as it is written, Lovely in heights, all the earth’s joy, Mount Zion (Psalms 48:3). And it is written, To seize the earth’s corners, that the wicked be shaken from it (Job 38:13)—as one holds a garment to shake all the filth from it.’

Rabbi Yose said, ‘The blessed Holy One will eventually be revealed in earthly Jerusalem, and purify it from the filth of the peoples, before the day of the peoples is complete [cf. BT Ta’anit 5a].’ For Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Dominion over Israel lasts only one day, and that is a day of the blessed Holy One which is one thousand years [cf. BT Sanhderin 97a; Bahir §5: ‘Each day of the blessed Holy One is a thousand years, as it is written, For a thousand years in Your eyes are like yesterday gone (Psalms 90:4)’]. This is what is written, He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13)—one day, and no more.’

Rabbi Yose said, ‘If they are subjugated more than one thousand years, it is not because of the King’s decree, but rather because they do not wish to return before Him [in repentance to the land of Israel]. And it is written, And it shall be, when all these things come upon you, [the blessing and the curse that I have set before you, that your heart shall turn back among all the nations to which YHWH your God will make you to stray] (Deuteronomy 30:1–2), and, Should your strayed one be at the edge of the heavens, from there shall YHWH your God gather you (ibid., 4)’” (Zohar 2:17a, Midrash ha-Ne’lam).

“He opened, saying, ‘Look, the day is still long; it is not time to gather in the herd. Water the sheep and go and let them graze (Genesis 29:7). This verse has already been established, for when the people of Israel arouse teshuvah before the blessed Holy One, by the merit of Torah they will return to the Holy Land and be gathered from exile. For surely the exile of Israel will be for one day and no more, as is written: He has made me desolate, faint all the day (Lamentations 1:13).

If they do not engage in teshuvah, the blessed Holy One says, Look, the day is still long; it is not time to gather in the herd—without merit, without worthy deeds. But there is one remedy for you: Go, water the sheep—delve into Torah and be watered by it—and go and let them graze in a restful place, in the fine, desirable place of your inheritance.’

Alternatively, He said, ‘Look, the day is still long…‘—the day called a day of tumult and din and confusion (Isaiah 22:5), on which the Temple was destroyed and Israel fell into exile. In the face of evil deeds, that day is prolonged and extended, as is written: The day is still long; it is not time to gather in the herd—because they are prolonging that day. Water the sheep—as has been said, with words of Torah, for by the merit of Torah Israel will come out of exile” (Zohar 3:270a–b).

Open for me, my sister, my friend, my dove, תַמָּתִי (tammati), my perfect one (Songs of Songs 5:2). Because, תַּם (tam), Complete, is the punishment of your offence, O daughter of Zion; He will no more carry you away into exile (Lamentations 4:22).

For my head is filled with dew (Song of Songs 5:2). Filled with dew? Rather, the blessed Holy One says, ‘Do you then imagine that from the day the Holy Temple was destroyed I have entered My house, or entered My dwelling place? Not so! I have not entered at all since the time of your exile. Behold you have a sign: For my head is filled with dew.

הא (He)—Shekhinah in exile [separated from יוה (Yod He Vav)]. Her perfection and Her life is טַל (tal), dew, and this is: יוד הא ואו (Yod He Vav). הא (Heis Shekhinah which is not of the dew. But יוד הא ואו (Yod He Vav) is numerically equivalent to ל״ט (thirty-nine) [and טַל (tal), dew]. He fills Shekhinah from the flowing of all supernal sources (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 17b).

No Voice Without Speech, No Speech Without Voice

“Voice, breath, word—רוּחַ קוֹדֶשׁ (ruaḥ ha-qodesh), Holy Breath [or: Holy Spirit]” (Sefer Yetsirah §10, cf. Psalms 51:13; Isaiah 63:10–11).

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘It is written: I was dumb with silence, stilled, bereft of goodness, my pain aroused (Psalms 39:3). This verse was spoken by Assembly of Israel, who is in exile. Why? Because voice conducts speech. When She is in exile, voice separates from Her, no word is heard, and so: I was dumb with silence. Why? Because I was stilled, bereft of goodness—for voice no longer accompanies Her, and Israel declares: To You, דֻמִיָּה (dumiyah), silence, is praise (ibid. 65:2). Who is silence? Praise, praise of David (Psalms 145:1), who turns silent in exile, voiceless. Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘What does to you mean? Because of You, She is silent, for You abandoned Her” (Zohar 1:36b).

“This is because [Assembly of Israel] sinned in the matter of יָהּ (Yah), God, and God left the body [יָהּ (Yah), as it were, removed Himself from אֱלֹהִים (Elohim)], and [Assembly of Israel] remained אִלֵם (ilem), mute, without sight, hearing, smell, or speech [which are יהוה (YHWH)]. And the mystery of the matter is to be found in: נֶאֱלַמְתִּי דוּמִיָּה (ne’elamtti dumiyah)I was dumb with silence (Psalms 39:3). דוּמִיָּה (Dumiyyah), silence—דּוֹם (dom), silent, יָהּ (Yah), God [cf. Psalms 37:7; BT Gittin 56b]” (Zohar 3:221a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Expanding from the site of concealed thought, unknown, expanding and settling in the larynx, a site continuously gushing in the mystery of the spirit of life. It sought to expand and reveal itself further; thence issued fire, air, and water, merging as one. Jacob emerged, Consummate Man, a single voice issuing audibly. Hence, thought, having been concealed in silence, was heard revealing itself. Thought expanded further revealing itself, and this voice struck against lips. Then speech issued, consummating all, revealing all. It is perceived that all is concealed thought, having been within, and all is one. Once this expansion ripened, generating speech through the potency of that voice, then The House, in its being built (1 Kings 6:7). The verse does not read when it was built, but rather in its being built, every single time” (Zohar 1:74b).

“There is no voice without speech, and there is no speech without voicesurely, general needing particular and particular needing general.…

Come and see: Thought is beginning of all, and being thought, it is within, concealed and unknowable. As this Thought expands further, it approaches the place where spirit dwells, and when it reaches that place it is called Binah, Understanding, for it is not as concealed as at first, although it is concealed…. This voice conducts speech, conveying a word resignedly; for voice is released from the place of spirit and proceeds to conduct a word, issuing true words” (Zohar 1:246a).

Contemplation, is חָכְמָה (Ḥokhmah), Wisdom—a hint to the wise [inspiration is prior to conceptualizing the thought (Sullam), cf. Midrash on Proverbs 22:15: ‘A hint is sufficient for a wise man but a fool needs the fist’]. Ḥokhmah (Wisdom) arose in thought, which is Binah, since thought and contemplation are one, for Ḥokhmah (Wisdom) is known only through Binah (Understanding), and Binah is in the heart [the seat of understanding]. Thus thought is in the heart and contemplation is in the heart [cf. BT Berakhot 61a]” (Zohar 3:229a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

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).

Happy the People that Know the Shofar’s Blast

holocaust_shofarHappy the people who know the תְרוּעָה (teru’ah), blast. O YHWH, they walk in the light of Your presence (Psalms 89:16). Happy the people who know—and it is not written who hear. Who know the blast: by virtue of the wise, who know through the air of the Holy Land [cf. BT Bava Batra 158b], they know teru’ahthe blast—mystery of teru’ah, as is written: תְּרֹעֵם (Tero’em), You will smash them, with a rod of iron (Psalms 2:9). What nation is like Israel, who know supernal mysteries of their Lord—to come before Him and draw near to Him? All those who know the mystery of teru’ah may draw near, to walk in the light of the countenance of the blessed Holy One. This is the primordial light that the blessed Holy One has treasured away for the righteous. So one should know it” (Zohar 3:231b, cf. ibid. 3:100b).

“But now there is need of a doctor to know by how many degrees the pulse of the patient, Israel, has increased in the exile of Edom, for it is said of him, I am in a fever of love (Song of Songs 5:8). For a number of doctors gathered over him to consider the pulse in order to know when his illness would come to an end, but not one of them could understand them, for no doctor is competent to read the pulse of this particular patient, for there are beats of Teqiah Shevarim Teru’ah Teqiah, Teqiah Shevarim Teqiah, Teqiah Teru’ah Teqiah, as the prophet said of them, Like a woman with child, that draws near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and cries out in her pangs (Isaiah 26:17).

And all the ten shofar blasts are included in three תְּקִיעָה שְׁבָרִים תְּרוּעָה (Teqi’ah Shevarim Teru’ah). תְּקִיעָה (Teqiah), Blast—the length of exile. שְׁבָרִים (Shevarim), Moaning—the proximity of exile. תְּרוּעָה (Teru’ah), Wailing Alarm—the coming redemption; teaching of the duress after duress with no respite between them [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 33b–34a]. And clearly, since the other nations make Israel’s exile more difficult, it is the duress that they exert which brings the redemption closer. And so too the patient’s pulse: beats come faster, one after the other, with no space between them, and the man’s soul-breath leaves him.

קשר״ק קש״ק קר״ק (Teqi’ah Shevarim Teru’ah, Teqi’ah Teqi’ah Shevarim, Teqi’ah Teqi’ah Teru’ah, Teqi’ah) [mystery of the heart’s beating]—קֶשֶׁר (qesher), conspiracy, by which שֶׁקֶר (sheqer), falsehood, is removed from the world [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 16b]. Concerning this was the oath: מִלְחָמָה לַיהוָה בַּעֲמָלֵק (milḥamah la-Adonai ba-Amaleq), War for YHWH against Amalek for all time [the intial letters of which are numerically equivalent to ע״ב (seventy-two), cf. TZ 67a; TZḤ 115a] (Exodus 17:16). A simple, double, triple and quadruple song will arise in the world, where the letters [יהוה (YHWH)] will ascend: י יה יהו יהוה (Y YH YHW YHWH) [numerically equivalent to seventy-two, cf. Ibn Ezra on Genesis 4:19]. At that time [the prayer] will be answered: ‘וּבְכֵן (U-vekhen), and therefore, the righteous shall see and be glad, the upright exult and the pious rejoice in song’ (Amidah for the Days of Awe). This additional ו״ (six) [of ‘וּבְכֵן (U-vekhen)’ alludes to]the Sixth Millennium. The Second Temple was destroyed קע״ב (one hundred and seventy-two) years before [the Sixth Millennium]. And following the completion of רע״ב (two hundred and seventy-two), as in the verse, At עֶרֶב (erev), evening, you shall know that it was YHWH who brought you out [of the land of Egypt] (Exodus 16.6). Also, For your servant became עָרַב (arev), pledge, for the lad (Genesis 44:32) [you should know that all these dates mentioned in the Zohar refer to an arousal from above, which occur at these times for redemption, however, certainly it depends on the people’s actions and repentance (Sullam)]” (Zohar 3:218a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“The Faithful Shepherd said: Certainly, since the limbs and the arteries of the לֵב (lev), heart, which are likened to Israel, are in trouble, they have to awaken in the trachea pipe, the windpipe connected to the lung, mystery of the shofar. Since the lobes of the lung are unable to quiet the anger of the gall, which overcomes the arteries of the heart and all the arteries in the limbs of the body, that breath that blows in them, rises in the trachea, the shofar, namely the World that is Coming. And so it has been taught: The esophagus is like this world, [which has] eating and drinking in it. The trachea is likened to the World that is Coming, for [in it] there is no eating nor drinking [see BT Berakhot 17a]” (Zohar 3:231b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).