The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: wisdom

Threads of the Mind: Any Time that You Tread Through them Peace will be Upon You

IMG_1184“By means of thirty-two wondrous paths of wisdom Yah YHWH of armies, God of Israel, the Living God, Almighty, high and exalted, dwelling for ever, and Holy is His Name (Isaiah 57:15), carved out. He created His world with three סֶפָרִים (sefarim), ciphers: with בְסֶפֶר וּסְפַר וְסִיפּור (ve-sefer u-sefar ve-sippur), with book, and census, and recounting” (Sefer Yetsirah §1).

“What are these thirty-two?… A parable: a king residing within the innermost chambers, thirty-two in all, each with its own path. Now, is it fitting for this king that everyone enter his chambers by his paths? Certainly not! But is it fitting for him not to display his pearls, his brocades, his hidden treasures, and his precious objects? Certainly not! What did he do? He designated [lit., נֶגַע (nega), touched] the daughter and included all the paths in her and in her garments. Whoever wishes to enter, let him gaze here!” (Bahir §63).

“What is the reason that we place blue wool in the tsitsit? And why are there thirty-two [tassels, fringes]? A parable: To what can this be compared? To a king who had a lovely garden, and in it were thirty-two paths. He placed a guard over them to make known that all these paths belong to him alone. He said to him, ‘Guard them and traverse them each day, and at any time that you tread through them peace will be upon you.’ What did the guard do? He appointed other guards over them. He said, If I remain alone on these paths, it is impossible for me, a single guard, to maintain them all. And furthermore, the world may say ‘He is king.’ This is why there are other guards guarding all the paths. These are the thirty-two paths.

What is the reason for the blue? The guard said, ‘Perhaps those other guards will say that the garden belongs to us.’ He therefore gave them a sign, and told them, ‘And look this is the king’s sign, making it known that the garden belongs to him. He is the one who made these paths, and they are not mine. This is his seal.’

A parable: A king and his daughter had servants, and they wanted to travel abroad. But [the servants] were afraid, being in terror of the king. He therefore gave them his sign. They were also afraid of the daughter, and she [too] gave them a sign. They said, ‘From now on, with these two signs YHWH guards you from all harm, He guards your life (Psalms 121:7)” (Bahir §92–§93).

“What is the earth from which the heavens were hewn? It is the Throne of the blessed Holy One. It is the אֶבֶן יְקָרָה (even yeqarah), precious Stone, and the sea of Wisdom, corresponding to the blue in the tsitsit. Rabbi Me’ir thus said: Why is blue chosen above all other colours? [‘Whoever fulfills the mitsvah of tsitsit is as though he greeted the face of Shekhinah,] for the blue resembles the sea, and the sea resembles the sky, and the sky resembles the Throne of Glory’ (Sifrei, Numbers 115) [cf. BT Menaḥot 43b: ‘(Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai taught:) Whoever is diligent with this mitsvah merits receiving the face of Shekhinah‘]. Therefore it is written And they saw the God of Israel, and beneath His feet was like a fashioning of סַפִּיר (sappir), [blue] sapphire, pavement and like the very heavens for pureness (Exodus 24:10). It is furthermore written [And above the firmament that was over their heads was] the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of אֶבֶן סַפִּיר (even sappir), a (blue) sapphire stone: [and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it] (Ezekiel 1:26)” (Bahir §96).

Ḥokhmah—expanding in thirty-two directions and issuing from the Concealed Brain, from the radiance within. That which the Holy Ancient One shines into Ḥokhmah is the beginning of what is revealed. It becomes three heads, with one head encompassing them. These three expand in Ze’eir Anpin, and from these all shine” (Zohar 3:289b, Idra Zuta).

“חוּטִי הַשֶׂכֶל (Ḥuti ha-sekhel), threads of the mind [i.e., tsitsit], expand from the blessed Holy One, each one emanating to watch over Israel” (Berit Menuḥa: Sixth Way, Way of the Intellect, cf. BT Menaḥot 43b).

“And what is ן (nun) [in אֹזֶן (ozen), ear]? To teach you that the brain is the root of the חוּט הַשִׁדרָה (ḥut ha-shidrah), spinal cord, and from there it draws constantly. If not for the spinal cord, the brain would not exist, for the entire trunk is for the sake of the brain, and if the entire trunk were not to exist, the brain would not exist. The spinal cord is the channel from the brain to the entire body, and this is the bent נ (nun). But this ן (nun) [in אֹזֶן (ozen), ear] is elongated! The elongated ן (nun) always comes at the end of a word to teach you that the elongated ן (nun) comprises the bent and the elongated, but the bent is the foundation. This teaches you that the elongated ן (nun) comprises male and female” (Bahir §83).

“Seventh is east to עוֹלָם (olam), eternity, whence comes the seed of Israel. For the spinal cord draws from the brain of man and reaches to the אַמָּה (ammah), cubit [i.e., phallus], whence comes seed, as is written, מִמִּזְרָח אָבִיא זַרְעֶךָ (mimizraḥ avia zarekha), From the east I will bring your seed (Isaiah 43:5) [מִזְרָח (mizraḥ), ‘east,’ shares a root with לִזרוֹחַ (lizroaḥ), ‘to shine,’ and sounds like זַרְעֶךָ (zarekha), your seed. Cf. Bahir §73, §155, §159 ad loc.; BT Bava Batra 25a: ‘Rabbi Abbahu said, Shekhinah (receives) in the west’]. When Israel is good before the Omnipresent, I will bring your seed and you will have new seed. But when Israel is bad, the seed is from that which has already come into the world, as is written, A generation goes and a generation comes (Ecclesiastes 1:4), teaching us that it has come already” (Bahir §155).

Wisdoms cry aloud outside, in the squares she lifts her voice (Proverbs 1:20)? This verse is difficult: first it is written Wisdoms cry aloud outside, and then, in the squares she lifts her voice—its beginning does not match the end, nor its end the beginning! However, Wisdoms cry out in the the streets—when it flows from the concealed brain of Arikh Anpin to the brain of Ze’eir Anpin through those strands, it is as if two brains join outside, becoming one brain. And when there is flow from one to the other, it is written she lifts her voice—in the singular.

Because of the flow from brain to brain through those strands, they are not coarse. Why? Because if they were coarse, nothing could flow through them to the brain. Thus, no wisdom emerges from a person who is coarse and angry, as is written: Words of the wise said gently are heard (Ecclesiastes 9:17). From here we learn that if the hair on a person’s head is coarse, wisdom does not settle within him [see BT Pesaḥim 66b: ‘Regarding any person who becomes angry, if he is a sage, his wisdom departs from him; if he is a prophet, his prophecy departs from him’].

Consequently, they are long, to bring benefit to all. What is meant by ‘all’? To enter חוּטָא דְּשִׁדְרָה (ḥuta de-shidrah), the spinal cord, which drinks from the brain. Therefore the hair of the head does not overhang the hair of the beard; for the hair of the head hangs and rises over the ears, behind, not overhanging the beard, because one must not mingle with the other, since each branches out on its own path” (Zohar 3:131b, Idra Rabba).

Advertisements

Come My Lover, Let Us Go Out to the Field

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

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

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

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

A parable: a king residing within the innermost chambers, thirty-two in all, each with its own path. Now, is it fitting for this king that everyone enter his chambers by his paths? Certainly not! But is it fitting for him not to display his pearls, his brocades, his hidden treasures, and his precious objects? Certainly not! What did he do? He designated [lit., נֶגַע (nega), touched] the daughter and included all the paths in her and in her garments. Whoever wishes to enter, let him gaze here! He married her to a king, and also gave her to him as a gift. Because of his love for her, he sometimes calls her ‘My sister,’ since they come from a single place. Sometimes he calls her ‘My daughter,’ for she is his daughter; and sometimes he calls her ‘My mother’ [cf. Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah on 3:11]” (Bahir §61–§63).

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whoever Goes to that World without this Knowledge, Even if He has many Good Deeds, He will be Ejected from all its Gates

ello-b484c786-ffb8-4fa9-b913-5241ad85bb79Tell me, whom I love so, where you pasture your flock at noon, lest I go straying after the flocks of your companions—If you do not know, O fairest of women, go out in the tracks of the sheep (Song of Songs 1:7–8).

“Happy are those engaged with Torah in order to learn the wisdom of their Master, knowing and contemplating transcendent secrets! For when a person departs this world, that lore causes all forms of judgments against him to vanish. Not only this, but thirteen gates of mysteries of pure balsam, from which the Supernal Wisdom is suspended, are opened for him. Not only this, but the blessed Holy One delights with him in the Garden of Eden, and he inherits two worlds: this world and the world that is coming.

The wisdom one must know: First, to learn how to complete the mystery of his Master.

Second, to understand his body, to become aware of who he is. How was he created? Where did he come from? Where is he headed? Perfection of the body—how is that achieved? How will he be summoned to judgment before the Sovereign of All?

Third, to know and contemplate mysteries of his soul. What is it, this soul within him? Where did it come from? Why did it enter this body—fetid drop!—here today, tomorrow in the grave?

Fourth, to contemplate this world in which he finds himself. How can it be perfected? Afterward, with supernal mysteries from the world above, to know his Master. All this, one should contemplate within mysteries of Torah.

Come and see: whoever goes to that world without this knowledge, even if he has many good deeds, he will be ejected from all its gates. Go out, look at what is written here: ‘Tell me (Song of Songs 1:7)—speak to me of mysteries of wisdom! How do you pasture and conduct that world? Teach me mysteries of wisdom, of that supernal Wisdom, those that I have neither known nor contemplated before, so that I will not be disgraced among those upper rungs that I shall enter. For until now, I have not contemplated them.’

Come and see what is written: If you do not know (ibid., 8). If you arrive without knowledge, without having contemplated wisdom before entering here, and you do not know mysteries of the upper world, go forth (ibid.)! You are unworthy to enter here without knowledge. Gain awareness בְּעִקְבֵי (be-iqvei), in the tracks of, the sheep (ibid.), among those people who are trampled בְּעָקֵב (be-eqev), underfoot. They know supreme mysteries of their Master, and from them you will learn how to perceive.

Graze your kids (ibid.)—these are the children, striplings of the study hall learning Torah. By the tents of th shepherds (ibid.)—in the synagogues and study halls where they learn supernal wisdom.  Even though they do not understand, you will gain understanding from the words of wisdom they speak” (Zohar Ḥadash 70d, cf. BT Ḥagigah 27a).

Happy are You, Land, Whose King is a Noble

IMG_1201“May You give Your servant an understanding heart to discern between good and evil, for who can judge this vast people of Yours?” And the thing was good in the eyes of YHWH that Solomon had asked for this thing. And God said to him, “In as much as you have asked for this thing and you did not ask for long life for yourself and did not ask wealth for yourself and did not ask for the life of your enemies, but you asked to discern and understand justice, look, I am doing according to your words. Look, I give you a wise and discerning heart, so that your like there will not have been before you, and after you none like you shall arise….

Then two whore-women did come to the king and stood in his presence. And the one woman said, “I beseech you, my lord. I and this woman live in a single house, and I gave birth alongside her in the house. And it happened on the third day after I gave birth that this woman, too, gave birth, and we were together, no stranger was with us in the house, just the two of us in the house. And this woman’s son died during the night, as she had lain upon him. And she rose in the middle of the night and took my son from by me, your servant being asleep, and she laid him in her lap, and her dead son she laid in my lap. And I rose in the morning to nurse my son, and, look, he was dead, and when I examined him in the morning, look, he was not my son whom I had borne.” And the other woman said, “No, for my son is the living one and your son is dead.” And the other said, “No, for your son is dead and my son is the living one.” And they spoke before the king. And the king said, “This one says, ‘This is my live son and your son is dead,’ and this one says, ‘No, for your son is dead and my son is the living one.’” And the king said, “Fetch me a sword.” And they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one and half to the other.” And the woman whose son was alive said to the king, for her compassion welled up for her son, and she said, “I beseech you, my lord, give her the living newborn but absolutely do not put him to death.” And the other was saying, “Neither mine nor yours shall he be. Cut him apart!” And the king spoke up and said, “Give her the living newborn, and absolutely do not put him to death. She is his mother.” And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had judged, and they held the king in awe, for they saw that God’s wisdom was within him to do justice (1 Kings 3:9–12, 16–28, on King Solomon’s use of physiognomy, see Abarbanel ad loc.; Rabbi David ibn Zimra, Responsa of the Radbaz, № 634).

The look on their countenance does witness against them (Isaiah 3:9).

Woe to you, land, whose king is a youth, and your princes dine in the morning (Ecclesiastes 10:16). It is written, then two whore-women did come (1 Kings 3:16). Who were they? Rabbi Me’ir says: They were female spirits; the Rabbis say: They were yevamot [the widows of men with no male heir, see Deuteronomy 25:5-6]; Rabbi Simon says in the name of Rabbi Yehoshu’a: They were really whores, and Solomon gave his verdict without hearing witnesses and without giving warning [to the litigants, against the seriousness of perjury].

And the one woman said, ‘I beseech you, my lord…. And it happened on the third day after I gave birth… and this woman’s son died during the night’ (ibid., 17)—because she slipped and fell on him. And she rose in the middle of the night… and I rose in the morning to nurse my son… and the other woman said, ‘No, for my son is the living one….’ And the king said, ‘This one says…’ (ibid., 20).

Rabbi Pinḥas and Rabbi Yirmeyahu said in the name of Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Abba and Rav Bibi, and the tradition goes back to the name of Rav Pedat: The procedure of judging a case is as follows: The judge sits and those to be judged stand; the plaintiff states his claim, the defendant replies, and the judge decides between them. Rabbi Simon said: From here we learn that it is necessary for the judge to repeat their pleas. From these verses: And the king said, ‘This one says, “This is my live son and your son is dead,” and this one says, “No, for your son is dead and my son is the living one.”’ And the king said, ‘Fetch me a sword.’… And the woman whose son was alive… (ibid., 24).

Rabbi Yehudah said in the name of Rabbi Ilai: If I had been there I would have wound a rope of wool around his neck, and when he said, ‘Fetch me a sword,’ had she not been filled with compassion for the babe he would already have been strangled; and concerning that time it says, Woe to you, land, whose king is a youth. Then [Solomon] in his wisdom began a concluding argument and said, ‘Was it for nothing that the blessed Holy One created for man two eyes, two ears, two legs, and two hands? The blessed Holy One foresaw that this case was to happen’ [i.e., that the child might be cut in two and a half given to each woman]. So he did not tarry [in keeping the real mother in suspense] but [immediately] said, Give her the living newborn, and absolutely do not put him to death (ibid. 27). Concerning that time it says, Happy are you, land, whose king is a noble, and your princes dine in fit time (Ecclesiastes 10:17)—in the time of the World that is Coming, not in שְּׁתִי (sheti), drunkenness (ibid.): in his strength, and not in תְשִׁישׁוּ (teshishu), his weakness. And the king spoke up and said, ‘Give her the living newborn, and absolutely do not put him to death’; and the Holy Spirit cried out, saying, ‘She is his mother, certainly’” (Qohelet Rabbah 10:15–18).

In the image of God (Genesis 5:1)—in that exact form, as our Master [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai] has established. Further, This is the book of the generations of Adam (ibid.)—for features, in the mysteries of human features, to recognize those generations of a human being. The mysterious features of a human: in hair, in forehead, in eyes, in face, in lips, in ears, in lines of the hands. By these seven, humans are recognized….

Even so, Moses did not need this; rather, what is written? Moses chose men of caliber from all Israel (Exodus 18:25)—because Holy Spirit came to him, through whom he saw all. How do we know? As is written: When they have some matter, he comes to me (Exodus 18:16). It is not written they come to me, but rather he comes—Holy Spirit who came to him, through whom he knew, so he did not need all this examining and inspecting; rather, Moses knew instantly.

Similarly, King Solomon, by the throne—even though the Holy Spirit rested upon him. For whoever approached the throne was overcome with fear and awe, and thereby he judged cases without witnesses—because there were images on the throne, and if anyone approached with a lie, that image would vibrate and Solomon would know he was coming with a lie. So, fear of that throne fell upon all, and they all became virtuous in his presence.

King Messiah, by smell, as is written: His scenting will be by awe of YHWH: not by sight of eyes will he judge… (Isaiah 11:3). These three judged the world without witnesses or warning; the rest of the inhabitants of the world, by word of witnesses, by command of Torah. The wise who recognize those features, providing remedy for people and healing their souls—happy are they in this world and happy are they in the world that is coming!” (Zohar 2:70b; 78a, cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 21b).

π: A Line of Thirty Cubits Going all Around

hiram_allas_salomon_temppeli_brazen_sea_574Whatsoever has a circumference of three handbreadths is one handbreadth in diameter (Mishnah). Is it so?—Rabbi Yoḥanan replied: Scripture stated: And he made the cast metal sea ten cubits from edge to edge, circular all around, and five cubits in height and a line of thirty cubits going all around (1 Kings 7:23). But surely there was its brim?—Rav Papa replied: Of its brim, it is written in Scripture: [a mere] blossom of a lily; as is written: its thickness was a handspan, and its rim like the design of a cup’s rim, blossom and lily, two thousand bats did it hold (ibid., 26) [the bat is a relatively large unit of liquid measure, but the precise quantity is uncertain]. But there was [still] a fraction at least?—when it was reckoned it was that of the inner circumference [this is the only instance where a doubt is raised in the Talmud in connection with a mathematical statement, proving that the rabbis were well aware of the more exact ratio between the diameter and circumference and that the ratio of 1:3 was accepted by them simply as a workable number for religious purposes, cf. BT Eruvin 76a; Sukkah 7b]” (BT Eruvin 14a).

“Rabbi Abba opened, saying, ‘He made the sea (1 Kings 7:23), and it is written: Standing upon twelve oxen: three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east, with the sea set upon them above… (ibid., 25), and it is written: the twelve oxen underneath the sea (ibid., 44). Standing upon twelve oxen—certainly so! For this sea [Shekhinah] is arrayed by twelve in two worlds: by twelve above, appointed by chariots; by twelve below, twelve tribes” (Zohar 1:241a).

Sometimes in those Empty Ones You May Discover Bells of Gold!

vishniac-beggarsA teaching did Moses charge us, a heritage for Jacob’s assembly! (Deuteronomy 33:4).

“Rabbi Parnak said in Rabbi Yoḥanan’s name: He who is himself a scholar, and his son is a scholar, and his son’s son too, Torah will nevermore cease from his seed, as is written, As for me, this is My covenant with them, says YHWH; My spirit that is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your descendants, nor out of the mouth of your descendant’s descendants, says YHWH, from this time forth and forever (Isaiah 59:21). What is meant by says YHWH?—the blessed Holy One, said, ‘I am surety for you in this matter.’ What is the meaning of from this time forth and forever?—Rabbi Yirmeyahu said: ‘From now on Torah seeks its home [i.e., it becomes hereditary in that family]” (BT Bava Metsi’a 85a).

“Rabbi Yose said: Let the property of your fellow be as precious to you as your own. Prepare yourself to study Torah, for it does not come to you as an inheritance. And let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven” (M Avot 2:17).

“If one wants to become a priest or a Levite he cannot because his father was not a priest or a Levite. However, if one wants to become righteous even if he is a gentile he can do so because it is not a family trait, as it says: bless YHWH, those who fear YHWH, bless YHWH (Psalms 135:20)—it does not say the house of those who fear YHWH but those who fear YHWH. It is not a family trait, rather, on their own they chose to fear and love the blessed Holy One. Therefore, the blessed Holy One loves them” (Bemidbar Rabbah 8:2).

“Be heedful of the children of the poor, for from them Torah goes forth, as is written, Water drips מִדָּלְיָו (midalyav), from his branch, [and his root in abundant waters] (Numbers 24:7)—[מִדַּלִּים (mi-dallim), from the poor,] goes forth Torah [likened to water]. And why is it not usual for scholars to give birth to sons who are scholars?—Rabbi Yosef said, ‘That they not say, The Torah is their legacy’ [i.e., others should not complain that it is useless for them to study, or that they themselves should not think study unnecessary]. Rav Sheshet, the son of Rav Idi, said: ‘That they should not be arrogant towards the public.’ Mar Zutra said: ‘Because they act high-handedly against the public.’ Rav Ashi said: ‘Because they call people donkeys.’ Ravina said: Because they do not first utter a blessing over the Torah [as required]. For Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: ‘What is meant by, Who is the wise man, that may understand this? [… for why is the land perished and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passes through?] (Jeremiah 9:11). Now, this question was put to the sages and prophets but they could not answer it until the blessed Holy One Himself did so, as is written, And YHWH says, Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, neither walked in it (ibid., 12): but is not have not obeyed My voice identical with, neither walked in it?—Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: ‘[It means] that they did not first recite a blessing over Torah'” (BT Nedarim 81a).

Like a slice of pomegranate רַקָּתֵךְ (raqatekh), your forehead (Song of Songs 4:3)…. Even רֵיקַנִין (reiqanin), the empty ones, among you are as full of mitsvot as a pomegranate [is full of seeds]” (BT Berakhot 57a).

“That donkey-driver, is he here? For sometimes in those empty ones, you may discover bells of gold! [In rabbinic literature the bell appears as a symbol of revelation and inspiration, see BT Sotah 9b, in the name of Rabbi Neḥemiah: ‘Shekhinah was ringing before him like a bell’]” (Zohar 2:95a).

“Sometimes in a poor man’s undergarment you’ll find a pearl” (Zohar 3:157b, cf. M Avot 4:1).

“Rabbi Yose son of Yehudah of Bavli village said: When you learn from the young, what is it like? Like eating unripe grapes or drinking wine straight from the vat. When you learn from the old, what is it like? Like eating ripe grapes and drinking old wine.

Rabbi Me’ir said: Do not look at the flask but at what it contains, for a new flask may contain old wine, and an old flask may not contain anything, even new wine” (M Avot 5:26–27).

The Graves of Lust: When the Wise Attain this Place They Die with a Kiss

moths_woodcut“[And the people became complainers of evil in the ears of YHWH, and YHWH heard and His wrath flared and YHWH’s fire burned against them and consumed along the edge of the camp…. And he called the name of that place Taberah, for YHWH’s fire had burned against them (Numbers 11:3).] Why is the place called תַּבְעֵרָה (taverah), Burning? Because each and every light that reaches there is burned immediately by virtue of its great purity [or: merit]. However, they said in The Mystery of Souls, ‘One light is drawn out from the blessed Holy One, and when coupling is performed, and the souls sparkle and mate with this light, and this light extends until תַּבְעֵרָה (taverah), Burning, its name is צְבָאוֹת (tseva’ot), Hosts [or: Armies].’ Therefore, I say that the souls in Burning endure. But as long as we have this wondrous wisdom we can understand what is written: And at Taberah and at Massah and at Kibroth-Hatta’avah [you infuriated YHWH] (Deuteronomy 9:22)—Ḥokhmah (Wisdom) is found there along the entire way. The blessed Holy One said in His Torah: And at Burning and at Trial and at Graves of Lust is a place in which human beings desire and תַאֲוָה (ta’avah), crave, to attain good and to attain evil. And Israel, seeing the greatness of these three ascents, in which seals were set to make known Who causes them to exist and Who sates them, began to say, ‘From this place descends [both] the good and the evil. But this site of great ascents, there is no ruler in it, since the majesty of the blessed Holy One does not oversee all. Rather, He left three to act in His place as they please.’ Hence, they tried the blessed Holy One in every matter [cf. Zohar 2:64b].

The Sages say three princes whose ascents are without end receive from those three places. From Burning descends the brilliance of Ḥokhmah to the place, נַחַל אַרְנוֹן (naḥal arnon), Wadi Arnon [lit., Ringing River, see Numbers 21:13–26; Deuteronomy 3:8; Judges 11:18. Cf. Zohar 2:56a]. Its name is deep: אַדִירִירוֹן (Adiriron) the place of רִנָּה (rinnah), glad song, portent, and wisdom. It is the organ which sustains the entire body [adirironfrom a root meaning, ‘mighty,’ see Margaliot, Mal’akhe Elyon (Jerusalem, 1964)].

When the host on high see Ḥokhmah shining they begin to sing, as it says, When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7) [cf. ZḤ 5b–6a (MhN)]. Ḥokhmah reaches them and they rise, certainly receiving from there Ḥokhmah and Gevurah and Gedullah. Ḥokhmah reaches from Wadi Arnon to Wadi Abarim, and from there returns to its place again [on Mount Abarim, see Numbers 27:12–14, 33:47–48; Deuteronomy 32:48–52; Zohar 2:157a].

The thirty-two paths grow stronger, rising and covering all the spheres and all the ascents and the worlds and all the abysses, but next to the brilliance of Ḥokhmah appear as naught. And above, the distance of a bow-shot of 600,000 [spans], they appear as a bowl [cf. Bemidbar Rabbah 13:14: ‘One silver bowl (Numbers 7:13)—the world He made is like a (mere) ball thrown from hand to hand’]. The thirty-two paths grow mighty, rising and covering all the spheres and all of their places.

They say Ḥokhmah is supernal man, known as Ezion Geber as I said before [see Numbers 33:35–36; Deuteronomy 2:8. Cf. Targum Yonatan: כְּרַך תַּרְנְגוֹלָא (kerakh tarnegola), City of the Rooster, i.e., a rooster-shaped city]. The Wadi Abarim, which we already mentioned, is called מִשְׁבְּצוֹת (mishbetsot), Brocade, (known with the permutation of the four letter Name, as I will explain with the vocalization of this matter) [on Brocade (or: Filigree), see Exodus 28:13; Psalms 45:14; Bahir §54, §63]. We said of this expansive matter—the Wadi Abarim—that in it certain sages erred grievously, such as Elisha son of Avuyah [see BT Ḥagigah 14b; Zohar 1:26b (TZ); 3:222b (RM); Berit Menuḥa: Eight Vowel. עֲבָרִים (Avarim), Abarim, alludes to עָבְרִים (averim), crossings, and עֲבֵרָה (averah), transgression]. However, the relic of the great and mighty Sages of Israel, heads of the generations, standing in venerable places, took to restore what was lost and to save the sons of man.

Behold the chapter headings of this wondrous wisdom: Three times a day the wisdom ascends higher and higher: at the first hour, at the sixth hour, and at the last hour [see BT Berakhot 26b. Cf. Zohar 2:21b; 3:196a; ZḤ 5b–6a (MhN)]. In these hours everyone of the thirty-two paths is rooted in the first letter of יהוה (YHWH)—in the lower tip [of י (yod)] looking downwards. Since it looks down so too does Ḥokhmah (Wisdom), great in Gevurah (Strength) and Raamim (Compassion). But if it faces upwards even the angels and sons of man cannot attain Ḥokhmah and are as beasts of the field. Therefore, it faces downwards and Ḥokhmah is received by creatures and as it saw, for it is vastly higher above all degrees and none are higher than it, it turns its face to three places. First towards the north, the place of Gevurah, lowering its pride, it remains bowed down in great trembling. This place is a place of awe, it is Burning. [The angel] אַגּלֹאֹ (Aglo’o) [אַתָה גִבּוֹר לְעוֹלָם אֲדֹנָי (atah gibbor le-olam Adonai), ‘You are eternally mighty Lord,’ see ZḤ 42a], included in Torah, performs actions for the enlightened without purification by the line of awe. The second place is a place of humility, and its name is called מְנוּחָה (menuḥah), Rest, it is יחדריאל (Yeḥidri’el), אֱלֹהִי יִשְׂרָאֵל (Elohi Yisra’el), God of Israel. The third place is a place of שִׂמְחָה (simḥah), joy, and its name is called מַפְרִישְמִיָהְ (Mafrishmiyah) [see Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital, Sha’arei Qedushah, 4:1].

Whoever desires to learn wisdom should cleave to these three rungs: יִראָה (yirah), awe, עֲנָוָה (anavah), humility, and שִׂמְחָה (simḥah), joy—he יִראָה (yirah), fears, sin, is עָנָו (anav), humble, and שַׂמֵחַ (sameaḥ), happy, with his lot [cf. Deuteronomy 28:47]. When he attains the discernment of these three rungs he attains Ḥokhmah [cf. M Avot 3:11; 4:1; 5:19]. These three places are bound to each other, and one is no different than the other; they are all one [cf. M Sotah 9:15; BT Avodah Zarah 20b; Zohar 3:145a; Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 5b]. And the angels who receive from these three places are הויאל (Hoi’el), גביאל (Gabbi’el), and גבריאל (Gavri’el), Gabriel [see Margaliot, Mal’akhe Elyon (Jerusalem, 1964), p. 42]. Names which bless and curse without need of purification and without need of permission from הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim), the Judge, but act however they please. Yet they are names of goodness, for they are without inquiry and without limit. The first of these three places is daunting, it’s name is תַּבְעֵרָה שֶׂכֶל (taverah sekhel), Burning Intellect. The lights are fearful when they ascend lest it burn them with its great holiness. However, he who cleaves to the rung of awe escapes burning.

The second [rung] is humility [called:] מַסָּה (massah), Trial (Deuteronomy 9:22). Without limit to its holiness and strength this place is very great. For when all the lights and all the supernal army passes through this place it is known who conducts himself faithfully or not, thus it is called Trial.

The third [rung] is joy, the site of קִבְרוֹת הַתַּאֲוָה (kivrot-hatta’avah), the Graves of Lust (Numbers 11:34). Whoever does not reach this resting place, the Graves of Lust, does not see light and does not attain Ḥokhmah.

There is one place dwelling in the heavens [beyond the heavens…] (1 Kings 8:27), and there is אֵין סוֹף (ein sof), no end, to its discernment but its place is hidden because of the קַטנוּת (qatnut), puniness, of [our] intellect [cf. BT Eruvin 53aBahir §10]. And when the great lights grow mighty, ascending, and see the banner standing in the middle of the palace-chamber they declare ‘In this place is the power of מְנוּחָה (menuḥah), Rest.’ They endure hoping to glimpse its glorious brilliance. When this hidden light increases abundantly, expanding, and emanates its brilliance outside the palace-chamber then they incline to see more and they ascend and reach the place of חֶשְׁבּוֹן (ḥeshbon), Reckoning [see Numbers 21:27; Ecclesiastes 7:27; Song of Songs 7:5]. But when they reach its edge they are burned immediately by the purity of this great hidden light—they are all burned standing in it and none of them ever emerge, for this place is called, in the language of allegory, the Graves of Lust. Most of them that desired to know the essence were consumed in holiness and were not seen again [like moths to a flame, cf. Attar of Nishapur, Manṭeq al-ṭayr].

Numerous lights and princes, brave and powerful, were consumed in this place called the Graves of Lust, an expression of the essence of יהוה (YHWH). But let me tell you the angels and the lights which were consumed in this place since the time of the Formation [of the world] were numerous, great, strong, and perfect in their degrees. Big and mighty angels were consumed by this great light, those from the camp of שָׂרָפִים (serafim) and from the camp of תַּרְשִׁישִׁים‎‎ (tarshishim) [two classes of angels], since it arose in their minds to strengthen themselves and ascend until this place but there they were consumed, as is written of them, For there the people buried the ones who had been craving (Numbers 11:34). Do not let evil arise in your mind, however, and think that words of Torah only accord with their plain meaning, you are forbidden from believing this. Happy is the man who delves to know, to attain Ḥokhmah in this place called the Graves of Lust” (Berit MenuḥaFirst Way: The Way of Wisdom).

“The fifth נִקּוּד (niqqud), vowel, is the root of the נִקּוּדִים (niqqudim), punctiform lights. Growing mighty in strength and compassion, its din is heard from one end of the earth to the other (Deuteronomy 28:64). Growing mighty, climbing, spreading from its root—the root of the Tree of Life—rising over its rung, above the heads of the living beings, covering all [on the cosmic tree, see Daniel 4:7–9; Bahir §22, §95].

Rising to its place in tumult, utterly destroying various camps and breaking various dominions, the sound of its din is without compare, inconceivable. And in its growing mighty, ascending, it spreads its wings to the east, west, north, and south, above and below, to six קָצֶווֹת (qatse’ot), borders [cf. Sefer Yetsirah §15, §38, §47]. Next to it the upper and lower lights do not compare, as if they were not. [This bears on] the root and the branches too.

There is tumult to the root and to the branches, for it leads them only by its exceedingly great strength, without arms or legs [cf. Zohar 3:278b (RM)]. By beating its wings back and forth all the lights are bundled, tied, and stood up under it. Leading them it is called King even though there are greater, more honored, lights than it. Yet it hastens to perform the matter for those who take refuge in its shadow, for those who know its source which is raised over its companions. And by its exalted radiance and majesty emanate a thousand myriad lights without end to their multitude. None endure its din and none are able to look and gaze at its beauty—there is no intellect, no wisdom to apprehend its greatness, for it is exceedingly magnified.

Emerging it is heeded by all the lights. When they smell its fragrance, a host of spheres ascend קָו הַמִישׁוֹר (qav ha-mishor), the median line, and are invigorated. For from the fragrance they take power, might, radiance, and wisdom according to its exceeding greatness.

Being most strengthened by its surge in pride this light divides into two parts. Upon being divided it is still known that it receives from one place. Next to its source it does not compare, for understanding it heeds words of wisdom; even though they are divided into two heads, both are found clinging to the power of their hidden source. Accordingly, you understand how powerful the source is, that even though they are divided in the supernal way they are both discovered bound, unable to escape from under the power of their source, to go and become mighty such and such, for dominion is not in their hands.

Even though they are conducted toward an honored and awesome power, power comes to them from elsewhere. Upon dividing, one faces upwards and grows mighty, ascending. From it emanate innumerable great lights, called הַצֹּבְאֹת (ha-tsove’ot), the women, who flock to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 38:8). And they are all bound with a sachet of myrrh, for this light facing upwards is called, in the language of allegory, a sachet of myrrh (Song of Songs 1:13).

When it grows mighty, ascending, it faces upwards, spreading its wings, and two lights receive from it. The first is called צְבָאוֹת (tseva’ot), Hosts [or: Armies], and the second is called שַׁדַּי (Shaddai). They [too] grow mighty, ascending, one on its right and one on its left. The song of these כְּנָפַיִם (kenafa’im), wings, can be heard from east to west, as is written, מִכְּנַף (mi-kenaf), from the uttermost part, of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous (Isaiah 24:16). And this שִׁירָה (shirah), song, issuing from between the [throng of] wings reaches unto הַמְצִיאוּת הַנֶעֱלָם (ha-metsiut ha-ne’elam), the hidden reality, סִבָּת הַסִבּוֹת (Sibbat ha-sibbot), the Cause of Causes. And upon arriving, she turns round and undergoes fifteen more מַּעֲלוֹת הַשִׁיר (ma’alot ha-shir), ascents of the song [see Psalms 120–134; cf. TZ 75–76, 27b].

So it was in the Sanctuary: The Levi would ascend the first step and sing the song of the first sphere according to the vocalization I shall make known. And when the host of the first sphere heard their song they would tremble greatly. The priest would burn the Temple incense, the Levi would ascend the second step, sing the song of the second sphere, and so on until the tenth sphere.

When the Levi had ascended the ten steps, step by step, he would pronounce the Name according to its letters and its vocalization which I shall explain. The song was sung according to the movement of the inconceivable light without compare. Thus is the awesome light, and thus was the רִנָּה (rinnah), glad song, which the Levi sang when he stood at the top of the steps, pronouncing the name אֶהְיֶה (Ehyeh), I will be (Exodus 3:14) with awe inspiring expression [see M Sukkah 5:4; BT Sukkah 51a–b]. But if the offering was from a wicked man, resembling the righteous, but who performed his offence in secret—and the offering did not come to atone for such deeds—the smoke would coil up and the priest would tell the Levi to stop singing.

And who can name the strength and radiance and beauty of the light that faces upward? This light ascends to a known place, ascending from one place to another. First it ascends and faces קִבְרוֹת הַתַּאֲוָה (kivrot hatta’avah), the Graves of Lust. Then it faces תַּבְעֵרָה (taverah), Burning, where the channels are invigorated and filled abundantly, overflowing into the Sea Arabah [i.e., the Salt Sea; the Dead Sea] which is the name Tseva’ot, a light emanating from this great light. And from Taberah, Burning, it ascends to Mount Hor [death place of Aaron, see Numbers 20:23–29, cf. ibid. 33:37].

Two מְאוֹרוֹת מוּרכָּבִים (me’orot murkavim), compounded lights, ascend one over the other. When they reach this mountain they are burned entirely—when the wise attains this place he dies with a kiss on account of the great lust [see BT Bava Batra 17a; Mo’ed Qatan 28a; Zohar 2:124b]. From this place the light ascends to Mount Abarim [death place of Moses, see Numbers 27:12–14, 33:47–48; Deuteronomy 32:48–52; 34:1–8; Zohar 2:157a; 3:173b, 183a, 280b. Mount Abarim is probably the mountain range east of the Dead Sea, one of whose prominent peaks is Mount Nebo]. It is the way from which all lights pass when they emanate from the [hidden] reality. There in that place they grow most mighty, and from this place, they ascend to the Sea of Wisdom, lingering there. From there to the outer court (Ezekiel 40:17) and from the outer court to the inner court (1 Kings 6:36) [cf. Ezekiel 46:1; Zohar 1:75b ad loc.; 3:109a (RM); Esther 5:1–2; TZ 21, 57b ad loc.]. From the inner court to the place of the awesome reality, where being embraced she is raised back again to His place where her tent had been before (Genesis 13:3) [cf. BT Arakhin 16b ad loc.; ZḤ 24b (MhN) ad loc.].

From this awesome [hidden] light all lights emanate, endure, and are provided for. Its name: יְיָיִוְאֶשְעַבְיִוַאָיְהוּ. It is the י״ד (fourteen) letter name found in: כִּי יָ״ד עַל כֵּס יָהּ (ki yad al kes Yah), for hand upon Yah’s throne (Exodus 17:16). Happy is the man who knows this name for it acts in purity beyond compare and it issues from the Prietly Blessing, from the initial letters: יְבָרֶכְךָ יָאֵר יִשָּׂא וְשָׂמוּ אֶת שְׁמִי עַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַאֲנִי אֲבָרְכֵם (yevarekhekha ya’er yissa ve-samu et shemi al beni yisra’el), may He bless you… may He light up [His face to you…] and they shall set My name over the Israelites, and I Myself shall bless them (Numbers 6:24–27), and the name יהו (YHW) is affixed at the end. It is apparent from this task, for the light ascends fourteen rungs—the ten sefirot, and four chambers found above the ten sefirot: the chamber אַהֲבָה (ahavah), Love—יהה (YHH); the chamber שָׁלוֹם (shalom), Peace—יוה (YWH); the chamber עֹז (oz), Valor—יהו (YHW); [within] the chamber חֶמְדָּה (ḥemdah), Desire, הֲמְנוּחוֹת (ha-menuḥot), tranquility, endures—ייה (YYH) [cf. Zohar 2:252b (Heik)]. And above the י״ה (fifteenth) step is our God [יָהּ (Yah)]. We are His servants, He is our King, He provides for us and rescues us from the palm of our enemies [as is written, War for YHWH against Amalek from all time (Exodus 17:16)]” (Berit Menuḥa, Second Way: The Way of Love, Fifth Vowel).