The Zohar (circa 1200 CE) Lilith Garbage

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    We come now to the Zohar, which is perhaps the most important of the "founding" texts, for it contains references to Lilith in all of her various guises, including the three which have been illustrated in some of the earlier works of reference. The mentions of Lilith in the Zohar are even more important because, for the first time, Lilith is not simply mentioned incidentally, but, rather, she becomes a character in her own right, whose story is often told in elaborate detail. Some history of the Zohar is necessary before considering Lilith's appearances herein.

    The Zohar translates as "[The Book of] Splendor" or "Brightness," and is itself a collection of several books or sections. Its contents span everything from short midrashic statements to mystical teachings, references to religious terminology, assessment of the problems of the infinite, the divine emanations, and others. The main part of the Zohar is "a kabbalistic Midrash on the Torah, mixed with short statements, long expositions, and narratives concerning Simeon b. Yohai and his companions. Some of it consists also of common legends" (Encylopaedia Judaica 1194).

    Jewish tradition taught that the Zohar was written in Israel by the Tanna Rabbi Simon Bar Yohai in the second century. "Thirteen years in a cave . . . a father and a son alone . . . and the Zohar took form," goes the traditional tale (Luzzatto xxix). It was believed that Yohai was hiding from the Roman armies in a cave in the mountains, alone with his son, for thirteen years. The lore associated with the Zohar stated that the book remained hidden for a thousand years when, at the end of the 13th century, Rabbi Moses Ben Shem Tov de Leon (of Spain) discovered the manuscript and made it known (Gutwirth 22).

    It has since become accepted knowledge that this legend was merely legend. Says Encyclopaedia Judaica: "The Zohar with its various strata was without doubt composed in the years that immediately preceded its publication, since it is impossible to uncover any section that was written before 1270" (1209). The actual author of this work was the Spanish kabbalist Moses b. Shem Tov de Leon, and it is believed that Simon Bar Yohai was simply a pen name taken by Leon in order to make a pretention of antiquity.

    Regardless of its antiquity -- or lack thereof -- the Zohar became the central work in the literature of the Kabbalah and is considered the holiest book of this body of texts. The term "Kabbalah" is used to designate Jewish mystical teachings and derives from a three- letter Hebrew root -- kbl -- meaning "to receive" (Gutwirth 17). This refers to the fact that Cabalistic teachings were considered secret and were communicated only by word of mouth, a practice initiated to ensure that each generation of the chosen would receive the teachings from the foregoing generation.

    Because the Kabbalah -- and, thus, the Zohar also -- is rooted in oral tradition, it is extremely difficult to determine when this mystical Jewish doctrine originated. Although the Zohar was not made public until l290 and, as previously stated, not written until shortly before that time, the stories and teachings contained within had indeed been gestating through oral tradition for centuries.

    The Zohar itself draws on a number of literary sources as well as oral ones, including the Babylonian Talmud, the complete Midrash Rabbah, and a number of smaller Midrashim, including the Alphabet of Ben Sira. While the Zohar attempts to conceal its referral to such real literary sources, it contains a vast fictitious library of pseudo-sources which it emphasizes as the source of its information, likely in order to help establish a false antiquity.

    Lilith appears in the Zohar a number of times incidentally, but there are four passages in which an aspect of Lilith is extensively drawn upon. Her first Zoharic appearance describes her in the guise for which she first became known, that of a strangler and murderer of children, and also ties together her other facets as well. This is recorded at Zohar I, 19b and reads:


    "And God said, Let there be lights . . . " (Genesis 1:14). "Lights" is written defectively, meaning that croup was created for babies. After the illumination of the first light was concealed, a shell was created for the kernal, and this shell spread and produced another shell. When she emerged and ascended and descended, and came to "the tiny countenances," and wished to join herself to them, to take shape within them, and never to leave them. But the Holy One, blessed by He, took her away from there, and brought her down below when He created Adam, in order to regulate this world. When she saw Eve, who was attached to Adam's back, and whose beauty was like that of the realms above, and when she saw her perfect image, she flew from there and wished, as at first, to join herself to "the tiny countenances." The keepers of the celestial gates did not allow her to approach. The Holy One, blessed be He, upbraided her and dispatched her to the depths of the sea, and she dwelt there until Adam and his wife sinned. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, brought her out of the depths of the sea, and she rules over all infants -- "the tiny countenances" of mankind -- who deserve to be punished because of the sins of their fathers. She goes to and fro in the world, and comes to the terrestrial Garden of Eden, and sees the Cherubim guarding the gates of the Garden of Eden, and she dwells there by the flaming sword, because she originated from the side of that flame. When the flame turns she flees and goes through the world, finding infants who ought to be punished, and she smiles at them and kills them. This happens when the moon is on the wane, and the light diminishes. And this is the meaning of me'orot (lights). (The Wisdom of the Zohar 540-541)
    Like much of the Zohar, this passage is rather difficult to follow for one who is not familiar with Cabalistic works. A discussion of some footnotes to the passage may prove helpful. First, the seemingly odd idea that "lights" was written "defectively" in the place of "croup," stems from the fact that "me'orot," or lights, was written in such a way that it could be read as "me'erat," or curse (540, footnote 49). The identification of the "she" with Lilith is inferred because it is she who is said to asphyxiate babies with the croup (540, footnotes 50, 53). These "tiny countenances" are identified as Cherubim, and Lilith's desire to "join herself to them" is related to the idea that "the powers of 'the other side' constantly desire to assume human form" (540, footnote 54).

    The passage "When she saw Eve . . . she flew from there," is elaborated on in commentary as follows: "It was Lilith's intention to associate with Adam, and have intercourse with him, but the sight of Eve's beauty caused her to flee from Adam, and so she tried once more to associated with the Cherubim" (540, footnote 56). In this passage alone, therefore, Lilith is portrayed in all her guises at once: she is a child-slaying demoness, associated with Adam, who wants to seduce him into copulation in order to create demon offspring. This represents the first unification of all the facets of the Lilith legend into one tale.

    Lilith's second appearance in the Zohar is at Zohar I 148a-148b, Sitrei Torah. Here she is the "female of Samael," King of the Demons. She is seductive and beautiful and, after seducing men, she kills them. The passage reads:


    The secret of secrets: From the strength of the noon-flame of Isaac, from the wine lees, a naked shoot came forth, comprising together male and female, red like a lily, and they spread out on several sides, down several paths. The male is called "Samael," and his female is always included with him. Just as on the side of holiness there are male and female, so on 'the other side' there are male and female, included one with the other. The female of Samael is called 'snake,' 'a wife of harlotry,' 'the end of all flesh,' 'the end of days.' Two evil spirits are attached to one another. the male spirit is fine, the female spirit spreads out down several ways and paths, and is attached to the male spirit.
    She dresses herself in finery like an abominable harlot and stands at the corners of streets and highways in order to attract men. When a fool approaches her, she embraces him and kisses him, and mixes her wine lees with snake poison for him. Once he has drunk, he turns aside after her. When she sees that he has turned aside after he from the way of truth, she takes off all the finery that she had put on for the sake of this fool.

    This is the finery that she uses to seduce mankind: her hair is long, red like a lily; her face is white and pink; six pendants hang at her ears; her bed is made of Egyptian flax; all the ornaments of the East encircle her neck; her mouth is shaped like a tiny door, beautified with cosmetic; her tongue is sharp like a sword; her words smooth as oil; her lips beautiful, red as a lily, sweetened with all the sweetnesses in the world; she is dressed in purple, and attired in thirty-nine items of finery.

    This fool turns aside after her, and drinks from the cup of wine, and commits harlotry with her, completely enamored of her. What does she do? She leaves him asleep on the bed and ascends to the realms above, accuses him, obtains authority, and descends. The fool wakes up, thinking to sport with her as before, but she takes off her finery, and turns into a fierce warrior, facing him in a garment of flaming fire, a vision of dread, terrifying both body and soul, full of horrific eyes, a sharpened sword in his hand with drops of poison suspended and dripping from it. He kills the fool, and throws him into Gehinnom. (The Wisdom of the Zohar 538-539)

    While Lilith is not explicitly named in this passage and a modern reader unfamiliar with the Zohar may need to rely on the footnote (35) for this mystery woman's identity, the description makes it clear that Lilith is the obvious reference, and anyone familiar with Cabalistic teachings -- and, therefore, with the Zohar -- would have been able to identify this "female" of Samael (the Devil) as such.

    This passage is particularly important because of its association of Lilith with the snake. The footnote explains: "Samael is like the soul and Lilith like the body. Deeds are wrought by Lilith with the power of Samael" (538, footnote 36). The idea that Lilith and Samael, her "husband," are linked in such a way is a concept familiar to Cabalistic teachings. As a footnote to a different passage, it is explained that "the soul was the product of intercourse between male and female in the sefirot, so that it comprised both male and female, for Adam and Eve were originally created joined together" (539, footnote 43).

    This joining together of Adam and Eve was not seen as some sort of spiritual link, as may be inferred today, but, rather, it was believed that they were actually one androgynous being. This idea, which seems to be in conflict with other facets of the creation story, is explained as follows: "The female was attached to the side of the male until after Adam named all the animals. Then God cast Adam into a deep slumber, and severed the female from Adam's side. God adorned her like a bride, and then brought the woman to Adam" (Koltuv 8). It is touched on further in the Zohar at Zohar I 34b, which states, "I have found it stated in an old book that this female was none other than the original Lilith who was with him and conceived from him" (from Koltuv 8). While this reference at Zohar I 34b definitely introduces a contradiction between whether the androgynous Adam consisted of Adam and Lilith or Adam and Eve, a reconciliation of these passages is not necessary to this study.

    What is necessary is to notice the idea of the male and female being one. This is important in that since "the female of Samael is called 'snake'," and since Samael himself represents the Devil -- Satan -- it makes sense that the snake and Lilith would become combined in both literature and art. This can be seen in a number of artifacts, dating from 1400 onward, where the snake that seduces Eve into eating the forbidden fruit has the face (and hair) of Lilith (see illustrations 4-12). It is highly likely, therefore, that this passage represents the origin of such a unification.

    Lilith's next appearance in the Zohar recounts the story of creation with Lilith arising as the first wife of Adam. Told in Zohar III, 19a, the passage reads:


    Come and see. From the crevice of the great deep, above, there came a certain female, the spirit of all spirits, and we have already explained that her name was Lilith. And at the very beginning she existed with man. When Adam was created, and his body had been completed, a thousand spirits from the left side gathered together around the body, each one wanted to gain entry to it, but they were unable to, and in the end the Holy One, blessed be He, rebuked them. Adam therefore was lying down, a body without a spirit, and he had a green pallor, and all these spirits were hovering round him. At that moment a cloud descended and drove away all these spirits. Concerning this moment it is written 'And God said, Let the earth bring forth a living soul' (Genesis 1:24). We have already explained that the female became pregnant by the male in the soul of Adam and produced the spirit that was comprised of two sides, as was proper, so that it could be breathed into Adam. This is the meaning of 'and He breathed into his nostrils the breath [or soul] of life, and Adam became a living soul' (Genesis 2:7) - a really living soul. Whoever has doubts about this because he does not know whether it refers to the life below or the life called 'Israel,' or whether it is male or female, should notice that it does not say 'the living soul,' but 'a living soul,' without qualification, which signifies everything. When Adam arose his wife was fastened to his side, and the holy soul that was in him spread to this side and to that, and nourished both sides, because it was comprised of both. Subsequently, the Holy One, blessed be He, split Adam, and prepared his female. This is the meaning of 'And the Lord God constructed the side . . . ' (Gen. 2:20 - 'the side' we have explained before, as it is written 'the side of the tabernacle' (Exodus 26:20). 'And He brought her to Adam' (Gen. 2:22) - attired as a bride for the wedding canopy.
    When Lilith saw this she fled, and she is now in the cities of the sea, and she is still intent on injuring mankind. When the Holy One, blessed be He, destroys wicked Rome, and it becomes an eternal desolation, He will bring up Lilith and settle her in the ruins, because it will be desolate forever. This is the meaning of 'Lilith shall repose there, and find her place of rest' (Isaiah 34:14). (The Wisdom of the Zohar 539-540)

    The idea of Adam and Eve being joined is further explained, through footnote, in this section. Footnote 48 reads: "'Side in both quotations is Hebrew zela. In Genesis 2:22 it is usually translated 'rib,' but the point to be made here is that Eve was created by splitting Adam and shearing off a whole side which then became Eve" (540). This helps to substantiate the idea that the female half of Adam was indeed Eve, rather than Lilith.

    A final reference to Lilith is taken from Zohar III, 76b-77a. While the portion from 76b has little, if nothing, to do with Lilith, it is worth quoting if only for its reference to the sexual relationship between Eve and the snake. It reads:


    After the snake had lain with Eve and cast filth upon her, she bore Cain. From here all the generations, the wicked of the world, draw their origin, and to the generation of the demons and the spirits they owe their being with all their characteristics. Therefore the spirits and the demons are half like human beings below and half like angels above. Similarly, when the other spirits were procreated by Adam, they too were of this nature, half from below and half from above. After they had been procreated by Adam, he produced from these spirits daughters who resembled in beauty both the upper and the lower worlds. Therefore it is written, "the sons of God saw the daughters of man that they were fair . . ." (Genesis 6:2), and they all went astray after them.
    There was a certain male, who came into the world from the spirit on the side of Cain, and they called him Tuba-cain. And a certain female emerged with him, and human beings go astray after her, and her name is Naamah. From her other spirits and demons came forth, and they are suspended in the air, giving information to others who are below them. This Tubal-cain brought weapons of war into the world. And Naamah makes a roaring noise and cleaves to her forces, and she still survives. And her dwelling is among the breakers of the great sea, and she goes out to mock at human kind, warming herself on them in dreams with human desire, and cleaving to them. She receives this desire but no more, and she becomes pregnant through this desire and brings other kinds of demons into the world. The sons that she bears to mortal men present themselves to the females among mankind and they become pregnant by them and bear spirits.

    They all go to Lilith first and she rears them. She goes out into the world in search of babies, and when she sees human babies she attaches herself to them, seeking to kill them, and to absorb the spirits of these human babies. She goes off with this spirit, but there are three holy spirits who are gathered there. They fly in front of her and take the spirit from her and present it to the Holy One, blessed be He. And there they teach the babies in His presence.

    It is for this reason that the Torah warns people: "Sanctify yourselves and be holy" (Leviticus 20:7). And it is true that if a man is holy during intercourse he need not be afraid of her, for then the Holy One, blessed be He, will summon the three holy angels that we have mentioned, and they will protect the child and she cannot harm him. This is the meaning of "No evil shall befall you, and no plague shall come near your tent" (Psalm 91:10). Why? Because "He will give His angels charge over you" (Psalm 91:11). And it is written "Because he has loved me, I will deliver him" (Psalm 91:14). But if man is not holy and draws out a spirit from the side of uncleanness, she will come and mock at the child. And if she kills him she will absorb the spirit and will never be separated from it.

    You might object and say that the others whom she kills, but whose spirits are taken by the three holy angels who are assembled before her, cannot have been formed from the side of uncleanness. And, if that is so, by what right did she kill them? In these cases, man has not sanctified himself, but neither did he have the intention of defiling or of becoming defiled. Therefore she has the power to control the body but not the spirit. (The Wisdom of the Zohar 542-543)

    The seemingly insignificant beginning of this passage brings to light a rather odd notion: the idea that "the snake had lain with Eve" and was the father of Cain. While this would make sense in explaining Cain's wicked actions, it raises an important question: is this snake Samael, is it Lilith, or is it an androgynous assimilation of both Samael and Lilith? The footnote answers this question by explaining that "the snake that lay with Eve was Samael, and he was an angel that had fallen from the upper realms [the Devil]" (542, footnote 67). The fact that Lilith as snake is always oriented toward Eve in the art that postdates the Zohar seems to suggest, however, that -- regardless of the intention of this passage -- some believed that it was Lilith as snake who had a relationship with Eve (note especially illustration #12)

    The section of this passage where Lilith is mentioned, however, does not even mention the idea that Lilith was associated with Adam. Instead, it focuses on her malevolence toward infants and her succubae traits, for it explains that if the man is not holy during intercourse, then his child will indeed be taken by Lilith when it is born.

    In conclusion, Lilith appears in the work of the Zohar in all of her guises, sometimes individually, but usually all at once. More importantly, all of the passages which make reference to Lilith allow for the possibility that she is indeed all three of the myths rolled into one. It is this idea which took the firmest hold, perhaps because it offered a way to clear up the discrepancies from having various myths or perhaps because the Zohar itself became more popular than any of the preceding works which dared to mention her at length.

    We come now to the Zohar, which is perhaps the most important of the "founding" texts, for it contains references to Lilith in all of her various guises, including the three which have been illustrated in some of the earlier works of reference. The mentions of Lilith in the Zohar are even more important because, for the first time, Lilith is not simply mentioned incidentally, but, rather, she becomes a character in her own right, whose story is often told in elaborate detail. Some history of the Zohar is necessary before considering Lilith's appearances herein.

    The Zohar translates as "[The Book of] Splendor" or "Brightness," and is itself a collection of several books or sections. Its contents span everything from short midrashic statements to mystical teachings, references to religious terminology, assessment of the problems of the infinite, the divine emanations, and others. The main part of the Zohar is "a kabbalistic Midrash on the Torah, mixed with short statements, long expositions, and narratives concerning Simeon b. Yohai and his companions. Some of it consists also of common legends" (Encylopaedia Judaica 1194).

    Jewish tradition taught that the Zohar was written in Israel by the Tanna Rabbi Simon Bar Yohai in the second century. "Thirteen years in a cave . . . a father and a son alone . . . and the Zohar took form," goes the traditional tale (Luzzatto xxix). It was believed that Yohai was hiding from the Roman armies in a cave in the mountains, alone with his son, for thirteen years. The lore associated with the Zohar stated that the book remained hidden for a thousand years when, at the end of the 13th century, Rabbi Moses Ben Shem Tov de Leon (of Spain) discovered the manuscript and made it known (Gutwirth 22).

    It has since become accepted knowledge that this legend was merely legend. Says Encyclopaedia Judaica: "The Zohar with its various strata was without doubt composed in the years that immediately preceded its publication, since it is impossible to uncover any section that was written before 1270" (1209). The actual author of this work was the Spanish kabbalist Moses b. Shem Tov de Leon, and it is believed that Simon Bar Yohai was simply a pen name taken by Leon in order to make a pretention of antiquity.

    Regardless of its antiquity -- or lack thereof -- the Zohar became the central work in the literature of the Kabbalah and is considered the holiest book of this body of texts. The term "Kabbalah" is used to designate Jewish mystical teachings and derives from a three- letter Hebrew root -- kbl -- meaning "to receive" (Gutwirth 17). This refers to the fact that Cabalistic teachings were considered secret and were communicated only by word of mouth, a practice initiated to ensure that each generation of the chosen would receive the teachings from the foregoing generation.

    Because the Kabbalah -- and, thus, the Zohar also -- is rooted in oral tradition, it is extremely difficult to determine when this mystical Jewish doctrine originated. Although the Zohar was not made public until l290 and, as previously stated, not written until shortly before that time, the stories and teachings contained within had indeed been gestating through oral tradition for centuries.

    The Zohar itself draws on a number of literary sources as well as oral ones, including the Babylonian Talmud, the complete Midrash Rabbah, and a number of smaller Midrashim, including the Alphabet of Ben Sira. While the Zohar attempts to conceal its referral to such real literary sources, it contains a vast fictitious library of pseudo-sources which it emphasizes as the source of its information, likely in order to help establish a false antiquity.

    Lilith appears in the Zohar a number of times incidentally, but there are four passages in which an aspect of Lilith is extensively drawn upon. Her first Zoharic appearance describes her in the guise for which she first became known, that of a strangler and murderer of children, and also ties together her other facets as well. This is recorded at Zohar I, 19b and reads:


    "And God said, Let there be lights . . . " (Genesis 1:14). "Lights" is written defectively, meaning that croup was created for babies. After the illumination of the first light was concealed, a shell was created for the kernal, and this shell spread and produced another shell. When she emerged and ascended and descended, and came to "the tiny countenances," and wished to join herself to them, to take shape within them, and never to leave them. But the Holy One, blessed by He, took her away from there, and brought her down below when He created Adam, in order to regulate this world. When she saw Eve, who was attached to Adam's back, and whose beauty was like that of the realms above, and when she saw her perfect image, she flew from there and wished, as at first, to join herself to "the tiny countenances." The keepers of the celestial gates did not allow her to approach. The Holy One, blessed be He, upbraided her and dispatched her to the depths of the sea, and she dwelt there until Adam and his wife sinned. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, brought her out of the depths of the sea, and she rules over all infants -- "the tiny countenances" of mankind -- who deserve to be punished because of the sins of their fathers. She goes to and fro in the world, and comes to the terrestrial Garden of Eden, and sees the Cherubim guarding the gates of the Garden of Eden, and she dwells there by the flaming sword, because she originated from the side of that flame. When the flame turns she flees and goes through the world, finding infants who ought to be punished, and she smiles at them and kills them. This happens when the moon is on the wane, and the light diminishes. And this is the meaning of me'orot (lights). (The Wisdom of the Zohar 540-541)
    Like much of the Zohar, this passage is rather difficult to follow for one who is not familiar with Cabalistic works. A discussion of some footnotes to the passage may prove helpful. First, the seemingly odd idea that "lights" was written "defectively" in the place of "croup," stems from the fact that "me'orot," or lights, was written in such a way that it could be read as "me'erat," or curse (540, footnote 49). The identification of the "she" with Lilith is inferred because it is she who is said to asphyxiate babies with the croup (540, footnotes 50, 53). These "tiny countenances" are identified as Cherubim, and Lilith's desire to "join herself to them" is related to the idea that "the powers of 'the other side' constantly desire to assume human form" (540, footnote 54).

    The passage "When she saw Eve . . . she flew from there," is elaborated on in commentary as follows: "It was Lilith's intention to associate with Adam, and have intercourse with him, but the sight of Eve's beauty caused her to flee from Adam, and so she tried once more to associated with the Cherubim" (540, footnote 56). In this passage alone, therefore, Lilith is portrayed in all her guises at once: she is a child-slaying demoness, associated with Adam, who wants to seduce him into copulation in order to create demon offspring. This represents the first unification of all the facets of the Lilith legend into one tale.

    Lilith's second appearance in the Zohar is at Zohar I 148a-148b, Sitrei Torah. Here she is the "female of Samael," King of the Demons. She is seductive and beautiful and, after seducing men, she kills them. The passage reads:


    The secret of secrets: From the strength of the noon-flame of Isaac, from the wine lees, a naked shoot came forth, comprising together male and female, red like a lily, and they spread out on several sides, down several paths. The male is called "Samael," and his female is always included with him. Just as on the side of holiness there are male and female, so on 'the other side' there are male and female, included one with the other. The female of Samael is called 'snake,' 'a wife of harlotry,' 'the end of all flesh,' 'the end of days.' Two evil spirits are attached to one another. the male spirit is fine, the female spirit spreads out down several ways and paths, and is attached to the male spirit.
    She dresses herself in finery like an abominable harlot and stands at the corners of streets and highways in order to attract men. When a fool approaches her, she embraces him and kisses him, and mixes her wine lees with snake poison for him. Once he has drunk, he turns aside after her. When she sees that he has turned aside after he from the way of truth, she takes off all the finery that she had put on for the sake of this fool.

    This is the finery that she uses to seduce mankind: her hair is long, red like a lily; her face is white and pink; six pendants hang at her ears; her bed is made of Egyptian flax; all the ornaments of the East encircle her neck; her mouth is shaped like a tiny door, beautified with cosmetic; her tongue is sharp like a sword; her words smooth as oil; her lips beautiful, red as a lily, sweetened with all the sweetnesses in the world; she is dressed in purple, and attired in thirty-nine items of finery.

    This fool turns aside after her, and drinks from the cup of wine, and commits harlotry with her, completely enamored of her. What does she do? She leaves him asleep on the bed and ascends to the realms above, accuses him, obtains authority, and descends. The fool wakes up, thinking to sport with her as before, but she takes off her finery, and turns into a fierce warrior, facing him in a garment of flaming fire, a vision of dread, terrifying both body and soul, full of horrific eyes, a sharpened sword in his hand with drops of poison suspended and dripping from it. He kills the fool, and throws him into Gehinnom. (The Wisdom of the Zohar 538-539)

    While Lilith is not explicitly named in this passage and a modern reader unfamiliar with the Zohar may need to rely on the footnote (35) for this mystery woman's identity, the description makes it clear that Lilith is the obvious reference, and anyone familiar with Cabalistic teachings -- and, therefore, with the Zohar -- would have been able to identify this "female" of Samael (the Devil) as such.

    This passage is particularly important because of its association of Lilith with the snake. The footnote explains: "Samael is like the soul and Lilith like the body. Deeds are wrought by Lilith with the power of Samael" (538, footnote 36). The idea that Lilith and Samael, her "husband," are linked in such a way is a concept familiar to Cabalistic teachings. As a footnote to a different passage, it is explained that "the soul was the product of intercourse between male and female in the sefirot, so that it comprised both male and female, for Adam and Eve were originally created joined together" (539, footnote 43).

    This joining together of Adam and Eve was not seen as some sort of spiritual link, as may be inferred today, but, rather, it was believed that they were actually one androgynous being. This idea, which seems to be in conflict with other facets of the creation story, is explained as follows: "The female was attached to the side of the male until after Adam named all the animals. Then God cast Adam into a deep slumber, and severed the female from Adam's side. God adorned her like a bride, and then brought the woman to Adam" (Koltuv 8). It is touched on further in the Zohar at Zohar I 34b, which states, "I have found it stated in an old book that this female was none other than the original Lilith who was with him and conceived from him" (from Koltuv 8). While this reference at Zohar I 34b definitely introduces a contradiction between whether the androgynous Adam consisted of Adam and Lilith or Adam and Eve, a reconciliation of these passages is not necessary to this study.

    What is necessary is to notice the idea of the male and female being one. This is important in that since "the female of Samael is called 'snake'," and since Samael himself represents the Devil -- Satan -- it makes sense that the snake and Lilith would become combined in both literature and art. This can be seen in a number of artifacts, dating from 1400 onward, where the snake that seduces Eve into eating the forbidden fruit has the face (and hair) of Lilith (see illustrations 4-12). It is highly likely, therefore, that this passage represents the origin of such a unification.

    Lilith's next appearance in the Zohar recounts the story of creation with Lilith arising as the first wife of Adam. Told in Zohar III, 19a, the passage reads:


    Come and see. From the crevice of the great deep, above, there came a certain female, the spirit of all spirits, and we have already explained that her name was Lilith. And at the very beginning she existed with man. When Adam was created, and his body had been completed, a thousand spirits from the left side gathered together around the body, each one wanted to gain entry to it, but they were unable to, and in the end the Holy One, blessed be He, rebuked them. Adam therefore was lying down, a body without a spirit, and he had a green pallor, and all these spirits were hovering round him. At that moment a cloud descended and drove away all these spirits. Concerning this moment it is written 'And God said, Let the earth bring forth a living soul' (Genesis 1:24). We have already explained that the female became pregnant by the male in the soul of Adam and produced the spirit that was comprised of two sides, as was proper, so that it could be breathed into Adam. This is the meaning of 'and He breathed into his nostrils the breath [or soul] of life, and Adam became a living soul' (Genesis 2:7) - a really living soul. Whoever has doubts about this because he does not know whether it refers to the life below or the life called 'Israel,' or whether it is male or female, should notice that it does not say 'the living soul,' but 'a living soul,' without qualification, which signifies everything. When Adam arose his wife was fastened to his side, and the holy soul that was in him spread to this side and to that, and nourished both sides, because it was comprised of both. Subsequently, the Holy One, blessed be He, split Adam, and prepared his female. This is the meaning of 'And the Lord God constructed the side . . . ' (Gen. 2:20 - 'the side' we have explained before, as it is written 'the side of the tabernacle' (Exodus 26:20). 'And He brought her to Adam' (Gen. 2:22) - attired as a bride for the wedding canopy.
    When Lilith saw this she fled, and she is now in the cities of the sea, and she is still intent on injuring mankind. When the Holy One, blessed be He, destroys wicked Rome, and it becomes an eternal desolation, He will bring up Lilith and settle her in the ruins, because it will be desolate forever. This is the meaning of 'Lilith shall repose there, and find her place of rest' (Isaiah 34:14). (The Wisdom of the Zohar 539-540)

    The idea of Adam and Eve being joined is further explained, through footnote, in this section. Footnote 48 reads: "'Side in both quotations is Hebrew zela. In Genesis 2:22 it is usually translated 'rib,' but the point to be made here is that Eve was created by splitting Adam and shearing off a whole side which then became Eve" (540). This helps to substantiate the idea that the female half of Adam was indeed Eve, rather than Lilith.

    A final reference to Lilith is taken from Zohar III, 76b-77a. While the portion from 76b has little, if nothing, to do with Lilith, it is worth quoting if only for its reference to the sexual relationship between Eve and the snake. It reads:


    After the snake had lain with Eve and cast filth upon her, she bore Cain. From here all the generations, the wicked of the world, draw their origin, and to the generation of the demons and the spirits they owe their being with all their characteristics. Therefore the spirits and the demons are half like human beings below and half like angels above. Similarly, when the other spirits were procreated by Adam, they too were of this nature, half from below and half from above. After they had been procreated by Adam, he produced from these spirits daughters who resembled in beauty both the upper and the lower worlds. Therefore it is written, "the sons of God saw the daughters of man that they were fair . . ." (Genesis 6:2), and they all went astray after them.
    There was a certain male, who came into the world from the spirit on the side of Cain, and they called him Tuba-cain. And a certain female emerged with him, and human beings go astray after her, and her name is Naamah. From her other spirits and demons came forth, and they are suspended in the air, giving information to others who are below them. This Tubal-cain brought weapons of war into the world. And Naamah makes a roaring noise and cleaves to her forces, and she still survives. And her dwelling is among the breakers of the great sea, and she goes out to mock at human kind, warming herself on them in dreams with human desire, and cleaving to them. She receives this desire but no more, and she becomes pregnant through this desire and brings other kinds of demons into the world. The sons that she bears to mortal men present themselves to the females among mankind and they become pregnant by them and bear spirits.

    They all go to Lilith first and she rears them. She goes out into the world in search of babies, and when she sees human babies she attaches herself to them, seeking to kill them, and to absorb the spirits of these human babies. She goes off with this spirit, but there are three holy spirits who are gathered there. They fly in front of her and take the spirit from her and present it to the Holy One, blessed be He. And there they teach the babies in His presence.

    It is for this reason that the Torah warns people: "Sanctify yourselves and be holy" (Leviticus 20:7). And it is true that if a man is holy during intercourse he need not be afraid of her, for then the Holy One, blessed be He, will summon the three holy angels that we have mentioned, and they will protect the child and she cannot harm him. This is the meaning of "No evil shall befall you, and no plague shall come near your tent" (Psalm 91:10). Why? Because "He will give His angels charge over you" (Psalm 91:11). And it is written "Because he has loved me, I will deliver him" (Psalm 91:14). But if man is not holy and draws out a spirit from the side of uncleanness, she will come and mock at the child. And if she kills him she will absorb the spirit and will never be separated from it.

    You might object and say that the others whom she kills, but whose spirits are taken by the three holy angels who are assembled before her, cannot have been formed from the side of uncleanness. And, if that is so, by what right did she kill them? In these cases, man has not sanctified himself, but neither did he have the intention of defiling or of becoming defiled. Therefore she has the power to control the body but not the spirit. (The Wisdom of the Zohar 542-543)

    The seemingly insignificant beginning of this passage brings to light a rather odd notion: the idea that "the snake had lain with Eve" and was the father of Cain. While this would make sense in explaining Cain's wicked actions, it raises an important question: is this snake Samael, is it Lilith, or is it an androgynous assimilation of both Samael and Lilith? The footnote answers this question by explaining that "the snake that lay with Eve was Samael, and he was an angel that had fallen from the upper realms [the Devil]" (542, footnote 67). The fact that Lilith as snake is always oriented toward Eve in the art that postdates the Zohar seems to suggest, however, that -- regardless of the intention of this passage -- some believed that it was Lilith as snake who had a relationship with Eve (note especially illustration #12)

    The section of this passage where Lilith is mentioned, however, does not even mention the idea that Lilith was associated with Adam. Instead, it focuses on her malevolence toward infants and her succubae traits, for it explains that if the man is not holy during intercourse, then his child will indeed be taken by Lilith when it is born.

    In conclusion, Lilith appears in the work of the Zohar in all of her guises, sometimes individually, but usually all at once. More importantly, all of the passages which make reference to Lilith allow for the possibility that she is indeed all three of the myths rolled into one. It is this idea which took the firmest hold, perhaps because it offered a way to clear up the discrepancies from having various myths or perhaps because the Zohar itself became more popular than any of the preceding works which dared to mention her at length.

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    The Zohar
    "The chief expression of the Kabbalah is a work know as the Zohar ('Splendor') which was written as a commentary on the Pentateuch. Though it is ascribed to a rabbi of the second century, the work, in the form in which circulated in the last part of the thirteenth century A.D. was composed only a little earlier than then. Since Kabbalism originated in Europe, chiefly in Provence and Spain, the book can probably be ascribed to Moses de Leon, a native of Granada, who died in 1305."
    - Ninian Smart, The Religious Experience of Mankind

    "When Moses of Leon sat down to write the Zohar, he had to do it in Aramaic He was claiming that it was a transcript of an ancient manuscript which he had acquired, so he had to use the language of a much earlier period....He had learnt the ancient traditions in Ladino, a Spanish-type language spoken by the Jews of Spain and Portugal, and had to translate them; as a result, there are many Spanish words in the text, and some from other languages as well."
    - George Sassoon and Rodney Dale, The Manna Machine

    "The Zohar is a mystical novel based on the Torah. Its characters include Rabbi Shim'on and his Comrades, biblical figures, and the sefirot, the various aspects of God's personality."
    "Gershom Scholem...sifted the writings of Kabbalists, critics, and scholars. He examined the Zohar'/s language, terminology, ideas, and symbolism in the context of early Kabbalah and medieval Hebrew thought and literature. He explored the literary structure of the Zohar, its fictional format, and historical allusions. [In 1925] Scholem demonstrated that the peculiar Aramaic was constructed from literary sources, particularly the Babylonian Talmud and Targum Onqelos; it contains grammatical errors and medieval Hebraisms. The mystical theosophy of the work proved to be pure thirteenth-century Kabbalah, which derived from medieval Jewish Neoplatonism and Gnosticism."

    "Parts of the Zohar may have been composed by automatic writing, a technique that is well attested in the history of mystical literature. Joseph Abulafia, an acquaintance of Moses, possessed 'the writing name' (shem ha-kotev), a holy name that focuses meditation and placed one in a trance in which automatic writings were produced."
    "The Zohar's style of commentary embraces the precision of textual analysis and the abandon of contemplative fantasy. Its creativity is motivated both consciously and unconsciously."
    - Arthur Green in the Preface to the Zohar (Daniel Chana Matt Editor)

    "This manuscript, he [Moses of Leon] said, contained the teachings of a well-known Rabbi, Simon bar Yochai, who lived in about +200. Moses of Leon claimed to have edited the manuscript, and to be publishing it for the first time.....The Zohar was an immediate success. Hand-written copies circulated widely until the invention of printing, and many of them still exist.....After Moses' death, his wife admitted that there had been no manuscript; he had invented the whole story as a device to gain publicity for the book."
    "It is clear from the Zohar that Moses of Leon must have been a member of a society known as the Reapers of the Holy Field. there were many such societies, whose purpose was to pass on the secret, traditional knowledge of the Jews, the Oral Law, which was said to have been given by the Lord to Moses on the mountain."
    "Modern Masons, like ancient Reapers, spend much time memorizing details of the Ancient of Days."
    - George Sassoon and Rodney Dale, The Manna Machine

    In the first of the Daniel stories (chapter 7), "Daniel sees four monstrous beasts (four successive kingdoms in Asia), the last of which (Alexander's heirs) is sprouting an eleventh horn (King Antiochus IV). This eleven-horned beast is slain by a deeply significant figure, the 'Ancient of Days', the first passage in scripture [168/7 BC] which envisages God as old and white-haired."
    - Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version

    "The Reapers of the Field are the Comrades, masters of this wisdom, because Malkbut Shekhinab [the feminine Divine Presence], is called the Apple Field, and She grows sprouts of secrets and new flowerings of Torah. Those who constantly create new interpretations of Torah are harvesting Her."
    - Moses Cordovero, Or ha-Hammab

    "Come and see:
    Every single day, dew trickles down from the Holy Ancient One to the Impatient One,
    and the Orchard of Holy Apple Trees is blessed.
    Some of the dew flows to those below;
    holy angels are nourished by it, each according to his diet, as it is written: '
    A human ate angel bread' (Psalms 78:25)
    Israel ate of that food in the desert.

    Rabbi Shim'on said 'Some people are nourished by it even now!
    Who are they?
    The Comrades, who engage Torah day and night.
    Do you think they are nourished by that very food?
    No, by something like that very food; two balancing one."
    - Zohar (Daniel Chana Matt Editor)

    the Orchard of Holy Apple Trees Shekhinah . The apple trees are the sefirot from Hesed to Yesod, which fill Her. The image originates in the Talmud as a midrashic comment on Genesis 27:27: 'as the fragrance of a field that YHVH has blessed'."
    angel bread Hebrew, lebem ahhirim, 'bread of powerful beings'. The verse describes the manna from heaven. In Talmud, Yoma 75b Rabbi Akiva takes the phrase to mean 'bread that the ministering angels eat'. The Zohar adopts this view and sees the manna as a product of divine emanation..."
    The Comrades Aramaic, havrayya, 'companions, colleagues, comrades'; the circle of rabbis who gather around Rabbi Shim'on son of Yohai, the master. They constantly engage Torah, searching for her mystical secrets"
    two balancing one The mystical Comrades, striving to attain wisdom, are nourished from the sefirah of Wisdom, Hokhmah, which is higher than heaven (Tif'eret), the source of manna...The food of the Comrades is twice as holy as manna!".
    - Notes on the Zohar (Daniel Chana Matt Editor)

    "The learned commentators of the Talmud, the Rabbis of the synagogue, explain that the garden of delight, in which those four personages are made to enter, is but that mysterious science, the most terrible of sciences for weak intellects, which it leads to insanity."
    - A. Franck, Kabbalah

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    http://tzion.org/Zohar.htm
    http://www.aishdas.org/hamakor/metahala/zohar.htm


    Translations of the Zohar
    http://www.kheper.net/topics/Kabbalah/t ... -Zohar.htm
    http://www.kheper.net/topics/Kabbalah/translations.htm



    Zohar
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    The Zohar ("Radiance") is the greatest classic of Jewish mysticism. It is a mystical commentary on the Torah, written in Aramaic and Hebrew; it contains a Kabbalistic theosophy, treating of the nature of God, the cosmogony and cosmology of the universe, the soul, sin, redemption, good and evil, etc.

    Origin of the Zohar
    This book first appeared in Spain in the thirteenth century, being made known through the agency of the Jewishwriter Moses ben Shem-Tov de Leon; he ascribed it to the miracle-working Jewish rabbi Simeon ben Yohai, who lived in the second century. It was said that during a time of Roman persecution, Rabbi Shimon hid in a cave for 13 years, studying the Torah (five books of Moses) with his son. During this time he is said to have been inspired by God to write the Zohar.

    The fact that the Zohar was found by such an unreliable sponsor as Moses de Leon, taken together with the circumstance that it refers to historical events of the post-Talmudical period, caused the authenticity of the work to be questioned from the outset. After the death of Moses de Leon, it is related, a rich man of Avila, named Joseph, offered the widow, who had been left without means, a large sum of money for the original from which her husband had made the copy; and she then confessed that her husband himself was the author of the work. She had asked him several times, she said, why he had chosen to credit his own teachings to another, and he had always answered that doctrines put into the mouth of the miracle-working Simeon ben Yohai would be a rich source of profit. Incredible as this story seems — for it is inconceivable that a woman should own that her deceased husband had committed forgery for the sake of profit — it at least proves that shortly after its appearance the work was believed by some to have been written entirely by Moses de Leon.


    Acceptance of authenticity
    Over time, however, the general view in the Jewish community came to be one of acceptance of Moses ben Shem-Tov's claims; the Zohar was held to be an authentic book of mysticism passed down from the second century. The Zohar was quoted by Todros Abulafia, by Menahem Recanati, and even by Isaac of Acco, in whose name the story of the confession of Moses de Leon's widow is related. Isaac evidently ignored the woman's alleged confession in favor of the testimony of Joseph ben Todros and of Jacob, a pupil of Moses de Leon, both of whom assured him on oath that the work was not written by Moses. The only objection worthy of consideration by the believers in the authenticity of the Zohar was the lack of references to the work in Jewish literature; and to this they answered that Simeon ben Yohai did not commit his teachings to writing, but transmitted them orally to his disciples, who in turn confided them to their disciples, and these to their successors, until finally the doctrines were embodied in the Zohar. As to the references in the book to historical events of the post-Talmudic period, it was not deemed surprising that Simeon ben Yohai should have foretold future happenings.


    Rejection of authenticity
    The first attack upon the accepted authorship of the Zohar was made by Elijah Delmedigo. Without expressing any opinion as to the real author of the work, he endeavored to show, in his "Beḥinat ha-Dat," that it could not be attributed to Simeon ben Yohai. The objections advanced by him were as follows: (1) were the Zohar the work of Simeon ben Yohai, it would have been mentioned by the Talmud, as has been the case with the Sifre and other works of the Talmudic period; (2) the Zohar contains names of Talmudists who lived at a later period than that of Simeon; (3) were Simeon ben Yohai the father of the Kabbalah, knowing by divine revelation the hidden meaning of the precepts, his decisions on Jewish law would have been adopted by the Talmud; but this has not been done; (4) were the Kabbalah a revealed doctrine, there would have been no divergence of opinion among the Kabbalists concerning the mystic interpretation of the precepts ("Beḥinat ha-Dat," ed. Vienna, 1833, p. 43).

    These arguments and others of the same kind were used by Leon of Modena in his "Ari Nohem" (pp. 49 et seq., Leipsic, 1840). A work exclusively devoted to the criticism of the Zohar was written, under the title "Miṭpaḥat Sefarim," by Jacob Emden, who, waging war against the remaining adherents of the Shabbethai Tzevi movement, endeavored to show that the book on which the pseudo-Messiah based his doctrines was a forgery. Emden demonstrates that the Zohar misquotes passages of Scripture; misunderstands the Talmud; contains some ritual observances which were ordained by later rabbinical authorities; mentions the crusades against the Muslims (who did not exist in the second century); uses the expression "esnoga", which is a Portuguese corruption of "synagogue," and explains it in a cabalistic manner as a compound of the Hebrew words and ; gives a mystical explanation of the Hebrew vowel-points, which were not introduced until long after the Talmudic period.

    In the mid 20th century the Jewish historian Gershom Scholem offered persuasive evidence that de Leon himself was the most likely author of the Zohar. Among other things, Scholem noticed the Zohar's frequent errors in Aramaic grammar and its suspicious traces of Spanish words and sentence patterns. This finding is still disputed by many Orthodox Jews. Although de Leon apparently wrote the text, the content of the book is not fraudulent. Parts of it may be based on older works, and it was a common practice to ascribe the authorship of a document to an ancient rabbi in order to give the document more weight. No doubt Moshe de Leon truly considered himself inspired to write this text.


    Mysticism in the Zohar
    "Wo unto the man," says Simeon ben Yohai, "who asserts that this Torah intends to relate only commonplace things and secular narratives; for if this were so, then in the present times likewise a Torah might be written with more attractive narratives. In truth, however, the matter is thus: The upper world and the lower are established upon one and the same principle; in the lower world is Israel, in the upper world are the angels. When the angels wish to descend to the lower world, they have to don earthly garments. It this be true of the angels, how much more so of the Torah, for whose sake, indeed, the world and the angels were alike created and exist. The world could simply not have endured to look upon it. Now the narratives of the Torah are its garments. He who thinks that these garments are the Torah itself deserves to perish and have no share in the world to come. Wo unto the fools who look no further when they see an elegant robe! More valuable than the garment is the body which carries it, and more valuable even than that is the soul which animates the body. Fools see only the garment of the Torah, the more intelligent see the body, the wise see the soul, its proper being; and in the Messianic time the 'upper soul' of the Torah will stand revealed"

    "The man," it is said in the "Sifra di Ẓeni'uta," "who is not acquainted with this book is like the savage barbarian who was a stranger to the usages of civilized life. He sowed wheat, but was accustomed to partake of it only in its natural condition. One day this barbarian came into a city, and good bread was placed before him. Finding it very palatable, he inquired of what material it was made, and was informed that it was made of wheat. Afterward one offered to him a fine cake kneaded in oil. He tasted it, and again asked: 'And this, of what is it made?' and he received the same answer, of wheat. Finally, one placed before him the royal pastry, kneaded with oil and honey. He again asked the same question, to which he obtained a like reply. Then he said: 'At my house I am in possession of all these things. I partake daily of them in root, and cultivate the wheat from which they are made.' In this crudeness he remained a stranger to the delights one draws from the wheat, and the pleasures were lost to him. It is the same with those who stop at the general principles of knowledge because they are ignorant of the delights which one may derive from the further investigation and application of these principles."



    Pardes and Biblical exegesis
    The Zohar assumes four kinds of Biblical exegesis: "Peshat" (literal meaning), "Remez" (allusion), "Derash" (anagogical), and "Sod" (mystic). The initial letters of the words "Peshat," "Remez," "Derash," and "Sod" form together the word "PaRDeS" (Paradise), which became the designation for the fourfold meaning of which the mystical sense is the highest part.

    The mystic allegorism is based by the Zohar on the principle that all visible things, the phenomena of nature included, have besides their exoteric reality an esoteric reality also, destined to instruct man in that which is invisible. This principle is the necessary corollary of the fundamental doctrine of the Zohar. The universe being, according to that doctrine, a gradation of emanations, it follows that the human mind may recognize in each effect the supreme mark, and thus ascend to the cause of all causes. This ascension, however, can only be made gradually, after the mind has attained four various stages of knowledge; namely: (1) the knowledge of the exterior aspect of things, or, as the Zohar calls it (ii. 36b), "the vision through the mirror that projects an indirect light"; (2) the knowledge of the essence of things, or "the vision through the mirror that projects a direct light"; (3) the knowledge through intuitive representation; and (4) the knowledge through love, since the Law reveals its secrets to those only who love it (ii. 99b).

    After the knowledge through love comes the ecstatic state which is applied to the most holy visions. To enter the state of ecstasy one had to remain motionless, with the hand between the knees, absorbed in contemplation and murmuring prayers and hymns. There were seven ecstatic stages, each of which was marked by a vision of a different color. At each new stage the contemplative entered a heavenly hall ("hekal") of a different hue, until he reached the seventh, which was colorless, and the appearance of which marked both the end of his contemplation and his lapse into unconsciousness. The Zohar gives the following illustration of an ecstatic state:

    "Once," says R. Simeon ben Yohai, "I was plunged in a contemplative ecstasy, and I beheld a sublime ray of a brilliant light which illumined 325 circles, and amid which something dark was bathing. Then the dark point, becoming bright, began to float toward the deep and sublime sea, where all the splendors were gathering. I then asked the meaning of this vision, and I was answered that it represented the forgiveness of sins."


    Spread of the Zohar
    The Zohar spread among the Jews with remarkable celerity. Scarcely fifty years had passed since its appearance in Spain before it was quoted by many cabalists, among whom was the Italian mystical writer Menahem Recanati. Its authority was so well established in Spain in the fifteenth century that Joseph ibn Shem-Tov drew from it arguments in his attacks against Maimonides. It exercised so great a charm upon the cabalists that they could not believe for an instant that such a book could have been written by any mortal unless he had been inspired from above; and this being the case, it was to be placed on the same level with the Bible.

    Even representatives of non-mysticism oriented Judaism began to regard it as a sacred book and to invoke its authority in the decision of some ritual questions. They were attracted by its glorification of man, its doctrine of immortality, and its ethical principles, which are more in keeping with the spirit of Talmudical Judaism than are those taught by the philosophers. While Maimonides and his followers regarded man as a fragment of the universe whose immortality is dependent upon the degree of development of his active intellect, the Zohar declared him to be the lord of the Creation, whose immortality is solely dependent upon his morality. Indeed, according to the Zohar, the moral perfection of man influences the ideal world of the Sefirot; for although the Sefirot expect everything from the En Sof, the En Sof itself is dependent upon man: he alone can bring about the divine effusion. The dew that vivifies the universe flows from the just. By the practice of virtue and by moral perfection man may increase the outpouring of heavenly grace. Even physical life is subservient to virtue. This, says the Zohar, is indicated in the words "for the Lord God had not caused it to rain" (Gen. ii. 5), which mean that there had not yet been beneficent action in heaven because man had not yet given the impulsion.


    Ethical System
    These and similar teachings appealed to the Talmudists and made them overlook the Zohar's disparities and contrasts and its veiled hostility to the Talmud. The influences of the Zohar on Judaism were both beneficial and deleterious. On the one hand, the Zohar was praiseworthy because it opposed formalism, stimulated the imagination and feelings, and restored prayer (which had gradually become a mere external religious exercise) to the position it had occupied for centuries among the Jews as a means of transcending earthly affairs for a time and placing oneself in union with God; and on the other hand, it was to be censured because it propagated many superstitious beliefs, and produced a host of mystical dreamers, whose over-heated imaginations peopled the world with spirits, demons, and all kinds of good and bad influences.

    Its mystic mode of explaining some commandments was applied by its commentators to all religious observances, and produced a strong tendency to substitute a mystic Judaism for the rabbinical cult. Thus the Sabbath, with all its ceremonies, began to be looked upon as the embodiment of the Divinity in temporal life, and every ceremony performed on that day was considered to have an influence upon the superior world. Zoharic elements even crept into the liturgy of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the religious poets not only used in their compositions the allegorism and symbolism of the Zohar, but even adopted its style, the characteristic features of which were the representation of the highest thoughts by human emblems and human passions, and the use of erotic terminology to illustrate the relations between man and God, religion being identical with love. Thus, in the language of many Jewish poets the beloved one's curls indicate the mysteries of the Deity; sensuous pleasures, and especially intoxication, typify the highest degree of divine love as ecstatic contemplation; while the wine-room represents merely the state through which the human qualities merge or are exalted into those of the Deity.


    Influence on Christian Mysticism
    The enthusiasm felt for the Zohar was shared by many Christian scholars, such as Pico de Mirandola, Reuchlin, Ægidius of Viterbo, etc., all of whom believed that the book contained proofs of the truth of Christianity. They were led to this belief by the analogies existing between some of the teachings of the Zohar and certain of the Christian dogmas, as for instance the fall and redemption of man, and the dogma of the Trinity, which is expressed in the Zohar in the following terms: "The Ancient of Days has three heads. He reveals himself in three archetypes, all three forming but one. He is thus symbolized by the number Three. They are revealed in one another. [These are:] first, secret, hidden 'Wisdom'; above that the Holy Ancient One; and above Him the Unknowable One. None knows what He contains; He is above all conception. He is therefore called for man 'Non-Existing' ["'Ayin"]" (Zohar, iii. 288b). This and also the other doctrines of Christian tendency that are found in the Zohar are now known to be much older than Christianity; but the Christian scholars who were deluded by the similarity of these teachings to certain Christian dogmas deemed it their duty to propagate the Zohar. Shortly after the publication of the work (Mantua and Cremona, 1558) Joseph de Voisin translated extracts from it which deal with the soul. He was followed by many others, among whom was Knorr, Baron von Rosenroth, who rendered into Latin the introduction, the "Sifra di-Ẓeni'uta," the "Idra Rabbah," and the "Idra Zuṭa" ("Kabbala Denudata," Sulzbach, 1677).

    The disastrous effects of the Shabbethai Tzvi movement, which was greatly fostered by the obnoxious influences of the Zohar, damped the enthusiasm that had been felt for the book, and the representatives of Talmudic Judaism began to look upon it with suspicion. Especially was this the case when the Shabbethaian movement had degenerated into religious mysticism and had produced the anti-Talmudic sectaries who styled themselves "Zoharites," and who, under the leadership of Jacob Frank, finished by embracing Christianity. However, the Zohar is still held in great reverence by many Orthodox Jews, especially the Hasidim, who, under its influence, assign the first place in religion not to dogma and ritual, but to the sentiment and the emotion of faith.


    The Zohar contains and elaborates upon much of the material found in other Jewish mystical texts such as the Sefer Yetzirah and the Sefer Bahir, and without question is the Kabbalistic work par excellence.


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    On Ahavas Yisrael
    Heichaltzu - A Chassidic Discourse

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "It Is Stated In The Zohar, Part III..."
    A Maamar of The Rebbe Rayatz
    Chapter 1
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    by Rabbi Shalom DovBer Schneersohn of Lubavitch
    With Appendices by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of Lubavitch
    Translated by Uri Kaploun

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    It is stated[1] in Zohar III, p. 168a: "The Master of the Celestial Academy opened [his discourse and said], 'He who [considers himself] insignificant is eminent; he who [considers himself] eminent is insignificant.... Behold: G-d exalts only the humble; He casts down only those who consider themselves exalted.'" This is in accord with the teaching of our Sages (Eruvin 13b): "He who humbles himself is lifted up by G-d; he who holds himself in high esteem, G-d casts him down." [The Zohar continues:] "Meritorious is he that humbles himself in this world; how greatly exalted is he in that world [i.e., in the spiritual world to come]."
    Herein lies the difference between the holy and the unholy: The holy is [always in a state of] nullification [of self, bittul] and unity [with others, while the unholy is always in an egotistical and discordant state. Concerning holy service] it is written,[2] "And you shall love your fellow as yourself," and the Alter Rebbe notes[3] that to "love your fellow as yourself" is the vessel [through which one may come to fulfill the commandment],[4] "And you shall love G-d your L-rd."

    It is written in Pri Etz Chayim (Shaar Olam HaAsiyah, ch. 1), that before one begins the morning prayer he should undertake [the fulfillment of] the mitzvah to "love your fellow as yourself," with the intention of loving each and every Jew as much as he loves himself.

    For Divine service entails climbing the rungs of prayer from level to level, ultimately attaining the level of Shema Yisrael[5] [wherein it is written, "And you shall love G-d your L-rd"]. Man's service throughout the day in the level of love [for G-d] must be prefaced by the mitzvah to "love your fellow as yourself," for holiness is bittul and unity. Unholiness, on the other hand, consists of egotism and divisiveness.

    This is why Yaakov said,[6] "I have all [that I need]," an expression denoting the commingling [of different aspects into one united whole]. In terms of man's character traits (middos), this expression refers to the trait of contentedness - being happy with one's lot. Esav [by contrast] said,[7] "I have much," an expression denoting egotism, and a multitude of disparate entities. In terms of man's character traits, this represents the haughtiness and boastfulness that result from arrogance and self-satisfaction.

    This is also why Yaakov and his progeny, although consisting of seventy souls, are referred to with the singular[8] "soul," while Esav and his family, although numbering only six, are referred to with the plural[9] "souls,"[10] [for Yaakov represents unity, and Esav, fragmentation.

    This difference between Yaakov and Esav springs from the fact that] Esav and Yaakov represent [the Worlds of] Tohu and Tikkun.[11] The emotional attributes (middos) of Tohu were [disunited] like "spreading branches." They were unable to tolerate one another; the attribute of kindness could not endure the attribute of severity, and the attribute of severity could not condone the attribute of kindness.

    It is for this reason that [concerning each of the kings of Edom, and alluding to each of these attributes] it is written,[12] "He reigned, then he died." "He reigned" alludes to the attitude that "I [alone] shall rule"; i.e., each emotional attribute was in such a state of expansiveness that it left no room for any other attribute. "Then he died" refers to sheviras hakeilim [the "breaking of the vessels," wherein the Divine light contained within the vessels of the middos of Tohu ascended to its source, while the vessels themselves "broke" and underwent a process of spiritual descent]. As is known, the sheviras hakeilim of the middos of Tohu serves as the source for the divisiveness of unholiness, this [attribute of discord] being the very antithesis of the unity of holiness.

    The yeshus of Tohu, its awareness of self, thus served as the [ultimate] cause of the seven evil attributes, which are the evil counterpart of the seven holy attributes. The yeshus of Tohu produced the root cause of the seven evil attributes, this being - in terms of man's character traits - the trait of baseless hatred (sinas chinam), the source and root of all the various manifestations of evil within all these [seven] evil traits.

    Whereas the seven evil traits are specifics, sinas chinam is an all-encompassing evil. Such hatred does not result from a particular cause (e.g., that one was harmed or opposed by another in a particular way), for then the hatred would depend on this, and because of this he would quarrel and bicker with him. Rather, sinas chinam derives solely from the fact that one person cannot tolerate another.

    This explains why sinas chinam can sometimes apply to a person whom one knows not in the slightest and has only heard of his good name, without ever having come in contact with him. In spite of this, he hates him utterly, and is not even able to mention him by name. Moreover, when he hears something good about that person he negates it, and is angered that people should speak highly of him.

    Especially [will this baseless hatred manifest itself] when he knows the individual [whom he hates]. He [then] seeks to find various faults with him and make light of him in order to make it clearly known to all that he cannot live in harmony with him. Such hatred is called sinas chinam, for it has absolutely no basis.

    At times there may be some minor grounds [for the individual's hatred], i.e., he finds some rational explanation for it. But in truth, this reason comes only after the fact. The particular reasons are not the cause of his enmity, but are found or invented later on: they are only a pretext and excuse for whitewashing and justifying his baseless hatred. But [in truth these reasons] are not genuine; he hates the other person only because he cannot tolerate him.

    Summary: Holiness is characterized by bittul and unity; unholiness, by yeshus and divisiveness. The yeshus of Tohu is the cause of the seven evil attributes. It [underlies their source, which] is sinas chinam, whose rationale and ramifications come after the fact.

    http://www.sichosinenglish.org/books/heichaltzu/33.htm
     
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    Eating from the Tree of Life: A Course on the Zohar

    INTRODUCTION


    The Zohar, the Book of Radiance, is revered, even feared, but rarely studied. Yet it is an exhilirating and challenging text, as compelling today as when it became known in thirteenth-century Spain. This course is an invitation to explore the Zohar from a liberal Jewish religious perspective. It includes introductory essays on Zohar study, and a selection of texts translated from the Zohar, with brief commentaries, as well as recommendations for further reading. You are invited to begin with either the introductory material or the texts, and move back and forth between them. There is also a bulletin board for your questions and insights.

    WHAT THE ZOHAR IS

    Reading the Zohar is entering a dream-world where boundaries shift and dissolve, an exploration of the self and of reality itself which can be both disturbing and exhilirating. While advocating a traditional Jewish life of learning and observance, it challenges our most basic assumptions about Judaism or any conventional religion. We will approach the Zohar as a high point of the traditions of Midrash (imaginative Biblical interpretation) and mysticism, and as a resource for our own questing and creativity.

    The Zohar is the central book of Kabbalah, a Jewish mystical tradition which also has Christian and occult offshoots. But it is more than that, and it is possible to be nourished by the Zohar without being interested in Kabbalah or deeply knowledgeable about Judaism.

    The word zohar is Hebrew for "radiance" or "splendour" or perhaps "enlightenment". The Zohar, the book, is a long work -- at least three large volumes, more than a dozen when a commentary is included. It is a kind of midrash, an imaginative commentary on the Torah, in which any verse or word can inspire pages of teachings and stories. It has also been called the first modern novel, because its interpretations of the Torah are placed in the mouths of characters, a circle of rabbis, and interspersed with stories about the rabbis and their travels and adventures.

    The language of the Zohar is not the Hebrew of the Bible and most Jewish books, but a simple form of Aramaic, the language of the Talmud. The grammar is iffy, and the vocabulary is mixed with medieval Hebrew and occasionally Spanish, which have helped academic scholars make their case that the Zohar was written in Spain, where it first became known, in the late 1200s. Traditional Kabbalists, nevertheless, believe that it was written more than a thousand years earlier, by the rabbis mentioned in it, whose names are known from the Mishnah and Talmud.

    Since its first appearance in Spain the Zohar has been associated with a rabbi named Moshe de Leon. Skeptics in his own time, and scholars more recently, have considered him to be the author. A more recent theory, developed by Yehudah Liebes, helps to make sense of the disagreements and divergent points of view found in the Zohar. The theory is that de Leon belonged to a fellowship of Kabbalists, who wrote the Zohar together as a literary version of their own adventures and Torah discussions.

    The Zohar circulated at first in manuscripts, with no fixed order; it was finally arranged according to the weekly portions of the Torah and put into print toward the end of the 1500s. Bit by bit, it had been accepted as a holy work, because it was thought to be ancient and because of the power of its dreamlike images and radical ideas. It became the central text of the Kabbalistic tradition; great Kabbalists such as the Ari (Rabbi Isaac Luria, 16th century) presented their new ideas in the form of commentaries on the Zohar. Christian and occultist students of Kabbalah celebrated it as well. By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Zohar was accepted by many Jews as a holy book on the level of the Bible and the Talmud. Its prestige declined with the wave of rationalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Still, today, the Zohar is revered in many traditional religious communities, especially among Sephardim and Hasidim. In liberal communities, more and more people are discovering the Zohar as a spiritual treasure.

    A LIBERAL PERSPECTIVE

    From a liberal (non-Orthodox) Jewish perspective, in which truth is not easily pinned down, no book, not even the Bible, has absolute authority for us. This course will not claim that the Zohar is true, and you are invited to feel free to disagree with it. At the same time we will try to follow a great principle of all serious study, which I learned from my teacher Rabbi Michael Skobac: you don't have to agree with the text, but you do have to try to understand it.

    Actually, knowing that we do not have to agree with something frees us to truly understand it. We are all attached to our own ideas and outlooks, and it is a great temptation to misread texts, or people, as if they are only telling us what we already believe. Therefore, finding that you disagree with a text is often a good sign that you are understanding it correctly, and not forcing it into your own perspective.

    My teacher Rabbi David Greenstein points out that the communities which revere the Zohar rarely study it in its own terms. In some communities, there is a spiritual practice of chanting the Zohar without attempting to understand its words; in others, it is studied only through the commentaries of later Kabbalists who overlaid it with their own ideas. Paradoxically, since we approach the Zohar with less reverence, with the freedom to disagree, we can try to read it on its own terms, to understand what it actually says.

    At the same time, we want the Zohar to be useful to us, as a resource for our own lives, a model for our own quest. Therefore, we will feel free to reinterpret it, to build ideas on its ideas, to rework its ideas and images to make them meaningful to us. Ideally, understanding the text comes first, then reinterpreting and working with it. In practice, the two processes inevitably go on simultaneously and get mixed up, but it is useful to at least be aware that both are going on. The best moments of study happen, unpredictably, when both come together, when a sound grasp of what the text is actually saying opens new doors for us to go through on our own.




    Kolel's Zohar Course
    http://www.kolel.org/zohar/intro.html
     
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    Moses ben Shem Tov De Leon
    (1240-1305)

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Moses ben Shem Tov De Leon lived in Muslim Spain. Nothing is known of his upbringing, his teachers, or his early studies. Apart from religious study, De Leon was apparently attracted to philosophy; Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed was copied for him in 1264.

    Moses subsequently turned to Kabbalah, and, while wandering among the communities of Castile, he became friendly with the kabbalists there. He immersed himself in Kabbalistic lore.

    Moved by an unusual enthusiasm, combined with the urge to counteract the influence of certain rationalistic trends, Moses composed various writings toward the close of the 1270s. He credited ancient scholars and sages as the authors of these works, probably to give them more authority. They were designed to propagate the doctrine of Kabbalism in the pattern in which it had crystallized in his own mind.

    Completed before 1286 they form the Midrash ha-Ne'elam, or "Mystical Midrash," and are the main substance of the Zohar. (The later stratum in this composite work was written by another kabbalist.)

    The major part of these writings is in Aramaic, but Moses also composed Hebrew pseudepigraphica on ethics and the eschatology of the soul.

    The "Testament of R. Eliezer the Great," also called Orhot Chayyim, is evidence of the author's hesitations in choosing between the tannaim Eliezer b. Hyrcanus and Shimon b. Yochai as the hero of his most famous book, the Zohar. He also intended to compose a new Book of Enoch, parts of which he embodies in his Mishkan ha- Edut.

    For a number of years, during the composition of the Zohar, and at least until 1291, he resided in Guadalajara, circulating from his home the first parts of the Zohar, which included a different version of the Midrash ha-Ne'elam.

    The Hebrew writings which bear his name are based on the same sources as those utilized in the Zohar and they frequently make veiled allusions to it without specifying it by name. These writings and the portions of the Zohar composed by Moses frequently serve to clarify one another; the former can be regarded as the authentic exegesis of the doctrine enshrined in the Zohar.

    In its literary form the Zohar is a collection of several books or sections which include short midrashic statements, longer homilies, and discussions on many topics. Moses De Leon credited Shimon bar Yochai as the author, but there are also long anonymous sections.

    It is not one book in the accepted sense of the term, but a complete body of literature which has been united under an inclusive title.

    In the printed editions the Zohar is composed of five volumes. According to the division in most editions, three of them appear under the name Sefer ha-Zohar al ha-Torah; one volume bears the title Tikkunei ha-Zohar; the fifth, entitled Zohar Chadash, is a collection of sayings and texts found in the manuscripts of the Tzfat kabbalists after the printing of the Zohar.

    The main part of the Zohar is arranged according to the weekly portions of the Torah, up to and including the portion Pinchas, Numbers 29. From Deuteronomy only parts of three Torah portions are included

    Basically it is a Kabbalistic Midrash on the Torah, mixed with short statements, long expositions, and narratives concerning Shimon b. Yochai and his companions.

    Some of it consists also of common legends.

    The number of verses interpreted in each portion is relatively small. Often the exposition digresses to other subjects quite divorced from the actual text of the portion, and some of the interpretations are quite skillfully constructed.

    Many stories act as a framework for the homilies of the companions: conversations while they are on a journey or when they rest for the night.

    The Zohar became a best-seller, the basic groundwork text for all subsequent Kabbalists.

    http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/biogra ... eLeon.html
     

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