Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thoughts of the Day #4/2012: The Zohar (2)

The Zohar

Dear Readers,

today I want to present a passage from one of the most influential books of all times, it is called "The Zohar" (which means: "The Book of Radiance") again. The book amazed its readers ever since it emerged mysteriously in medieval Spain. It was most probably composed in Spain by several authors (I follow here the hypothesis of Prof. Yehuda Liebes and his disciples) in Aramaic during the beginning of the 14 th century and was published for the first time in the years 1558-1560 (Mantua edition) and 1559-1560 (Cremona Edition). 

As Arthur Green writes in his introduction to the marvellous and beautiful translation of the Zohar by Daniel C. Matt: "The Zohar is the great medieval Jewish compendium of mysticism, myth, and esoteric teaching. It may be considered the highest expression of Jewish literary imagination in the Middle Ages. Surely it is one of the most important bodies of religious text of all times and spaces. It is also a lush garden of sacred eros, filled to overflowing with luxurious paintings of love (...) the Zohar's secret universe serves as the basis of kabbalistic faith" (Zohar, Vol. 1, p. XXXI).

The book is the key to a deeper understanding of Kabbala especially the Lurianic Kabbala and all what follows after it. The following passage with its breathtaking beauty and imagination is taken from the introductory section of the Zohar entitled "Haqdamat Sefer ha-Zohar" [Zohar I, 3b]:

Rabbi Hiyya and Rabbi Yose were walking on the way. As they reached the site of a certain field, Rabbi Hiyya said to Rabbi Yose, "What you have said - bara shit - is certainly true, for there are six supernal days in the Torah, not more; the others concealed. But in the Secrets of Creation we have discovered this:

"The holy hidden one engraved an engraving in the innards of a recess, punctuated by a thrust point. He engraved that engraving, hiding it away, like one who locks up everything under a single key, which locks everything within a single palace.

Although everything is hidden away within that palace, the essence of everything lies in that key, which closes and opens. Within that palace lie hidden treasures, one greater than the other. Within the palace stand gates built cryptically, fifty of them. Carved into four sides, they were forty-nine. One gate has no side. No one knows whether it is above or below; it is shut. In those gate is one lock and one precise place for the inserting key, marked only by the impress of the key, known only to the key.

Concerning this mystery it is written: Be-reshit bara Elohim , In the beginning God created. Bereshit is the key enclosing all, closing and opening. Six gates are contained in that key that closes and opens. When it closes those gates, enclosing them within itself, then indeed: Bereshit - a revealed word combined with the concealed word. Bara, Created, is always concealed, closing, not opening"

Thanks for reading my blog !
Have a nice day !
Stay tuned and expect the unexpected !

P.S. The passage is taken from Daniel C. Matt (translation and commentary), The Zohar. Pritzker Edition Volume 1. SUP 2004, p.17-18. The photography I have taken myself. right from my bookshelf. It is the dustcloth from the aforementioned book