Sunday, August 5, 2012

Thoughts of the Day #17/2012: The Zohar (3)

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 a section of the Zohar entitled "Parashat Yitro" [Zohar II, 70b]:

"And we learned a secret: Zeh sefer, This is the book. There is a book, and then there is a book! A book above, a book below. The book below is called Book of Remembrance - book of that remembrance, namely a certain Righteous One, called zeh, this. And in order not to seperate them, since they are constantly as one in a single union, it is written zeh sefer, this is the book - two rungs in one, totality made of male and female, surely !

This is one entirety, for all those souls and spirits flying into inhabitants of the world - totality of all generations - are the generations of adam, surely ! For from that Righteous One that we mentiones, those souls fly forth in one desire. This is watering of the garden, watered by that river issuing from Eden, as is written: A river issues from Eden to water the garden (Gen 2, 10). This is the mystery of adam, as is written: the generations of adam.

"Afterward, on the day of God's creating adam (Gen 5,1) - this is Adam below. For there are two adams recorded in this verse: one, mystery above; one, mystery below. Adam who is mystery above lies in concealment, concealed by the verse as male and female in single mystery, as is written: zeh sefer, this is the book - totality of male and female as one. Once they generated offspring together, they were called adam, as is written: generations of adam. After the matter was revealed from the initial secrecy of the verse, He created adam below, as is written: On the day God's creating adam, a human, in the image of God He created him. In the image - namely, in this visionary mirror in which form appears; those forms do not persist in that mirror enduringly, but rather pass away. Similarly, in the image of God."

"Alternatively,  in the image of God - form of limbs, male and female, in the mystery of behind and before. Behind - in the mystery of observe. And before - in the mystery of remember. On these depend all the commandments of the Torah: 613 commandments of Torah, totality of all. And we have learned: Behind the act of Creation, and before the act of the Chariot. All depends on one another. In the image of God - in that exact form, as our Master has established".

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 IV. SUP 2008. The photography I have taken myself. right from my bookshelf. It is the dustcloth from the aforementioned book.