Sunday, 18 May 2008

Zohar Parshas Bechukosai - Balak and Bilaam - Sorcerers and Magicians!


Matok Midvash

Daf 112a-b Balak and Bilaam
Sorcerers and Magicians who have no Power over the Jewish People!

If you will go in My statutes and guard my commandments and do them. Since words of rebuke are written about in this Parsha, therefore Rabbi Chiya opened, he preceded to explain the verse (Micah 6:5) “My nation, please remember what Balak the king of Moav advised”, as if to say, surely his advice was to destroy you from the world by means of calling Bilaam to curse you at the time of [Divine] anger. And what did Bilaam the son of Beor answer him, “How can I curse when G-d has not cursed?” The language “My nation please remember,” are words of rebuke, and he preceded and said, “Happy is the portion of this nation” – the children of Israel“That their Master rebukes them this way.” “My nation, please remember,” this means, even though you have turned away from My paths, and for this reason you were deserving of the curse of Bilaam, nevertheless you are My nation. I did not want to punish you and do to you in accordance with what should have come about as a result of your deeds. If so, these are words of rebuke through love.

Rabbi Yitzchak said – he argued and said that they are not words of rebuke, but rather words of apology. This means to say, all My desire is to do good for you, and from the mouth of the Supernal One there does not come bad, and it is only your sins that cause these punishments. And this is what he said, “Happy is the portion of this nation” – the nation of the children of Israel, “That their Master said to them,” the previous verse, (Micah 6:3) “My nation, what did I do to you?” – remember how much good I did for you, “And what is the thing that I wearied out for you to make my yoke heavy upon you, testify about Me to say behold in this you have saddened Me?” And it continues to say here, see how much good I have done to you. And this is what is written, “What Balak king of Moav advised,” through various words and actions of different types of magic and sorcery, he, Balak – said to destroy you from the world, and how much magic he awoke against you, but I did not allow him to do bad to you as described later.

Rabbi Yossi said, the Holy One Blessed be He said to the children of Israel, (Michah 6:5) “Please remember,” in the way of remembrance, and we didn’t hear his voice. Therefore: Woe to us that we cry out every day and we moan and cry and say, (Eichah 5:1) “Remember G-d what happened to us.” And we also cry, (Tehillim 137:7) “Remember G-d to the children of Edom,” and He, the Holy One Blessed be He does not want to watch over us, and not G-d forbid that there is forgetfulness by G-d, rather He pays measure for measure, for he said to us “I request of you, please remember.” And “נא” is the expression for “please.” And we did not pay attention to Him. Similarly, measure for measure, we cry out, “Please remember what happened to us! Remember G-d to the children of Edom! (Tehillim 74:2) Remember Your nation whom you acquired from before! (Tehllim 106:4) Remember me G-d when You show Your nation favor!” And G-d does not want to pay attention to us.

Rabbi Yehuda said, “Certainly, the Holy One Blessed be He watches over us continuously and remembers us – to do good to us,” and don’t say like Rabbi Yossi that the Holy One Blessed be He does not want to pay attention to us. For if not that He would watch over Israel and remember them, they would not be able to exist for one day in exile. This is what is written, “And even this also when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not despise them and I will not loathe them to destroy them to nullify my covenant with them, for I am G-d their G-d. The Holy One Blessed be He does not do to us in accordance with our deeds.

Come and see, Balak was wise and the greatest of magicians through the work of his hands, more so than Bilaam. And so we have learned that everything that a person wants to do in this world in the service of the Holy One Blessed be He, he has to awaken through the action of the commandments below, the root of the Mitzvah above. And this action below awakens the root of the action of the Mitzvah above. And this action below needs to be in holiness, and so it has been established. And in a place where there is not the action of the Mitzvah, there is the speech [aspect] of the Mitzvah, and then through the speech of the mouth the action is dependent to awaken the source from above.

And he said that just as we need to awaken the supernal holiness through action or speech, so too those [things] that come about through the side of impurity need to awaken their side in action or speech of the mouth. And even though that Bilaam was a magician – he was the greatest of all magicians in the world, but Balak was a great sorcerer, that means Balak was the greatest of all the sages of sorcery of magic, and Bilaam was great in נחש [another form of magic.] Kesemקסם- and נחשNachash are two degrees [of magic]. Kesem is dependant upon action, (since the root of the soul of Balak was from the dregs and dross of Imma that in her is the root of action, and the essence of action is in Malchus. Therefore Kesem is in Nukvah of the bad of Klipat Nogah.) Nachash is not dependant upon action but rather upon looking with the eyes and speaking with the mouth, (for the root of the soul of Bilaam was from the dregs and dross of Yesod of Abba, that in Abba is the root of speech, and also the root of sight is in Abba, and the essence of speech is in Z”A. Therefore Nachash is in the Dechura [male] of the portion of bad of the Klipat Nogah). And then the spirit of impurity is awoken upon them to enclothe itself in them, and it does what it does to cause harm to people.

And Israel who are holy are not so, but rather all of them are holy, and all their deeds are in order to awaken upon them holy Divine Spirit [רוח הקודש], like it says, (Yeshayahu 32:15) “Until he – the Holy One Blessed be He – pours upon us a spirit from above.” And upon this it is written, (Bamidbar 23:23) “For there is no Nachash in Jacob and no Kesem in Israel,” for they are held on the side of supernal holiness, and their deeds come through holiness, and holiness awakens upon them and they are enclothed in it.

Come and see, Balak was the greatest of all wise men in Kesem and Bilaam was the greatest in Nachash, and therefore at the time that Balak wanted to unite with him – Bilaam, what is written? “And the elders of Moav and the elders of Midyan and “Kesamim” in the hand.” For this was the strength of Balak.

Come and see, through the strength of the magic of the word of the mouth, Bilaam was the greatest of all magicians of the world, and by looking at the Nachash he would know how to direct the moment to know the moment when the Holy One Blessed be He is angry, for when one curses at that moment, the curse will transpire. And therefore Balak wanted to complete the thing with Kesem and the Nachash, and therefore he wanted to unite with Bilaam.

The Holy One Blessed be He said to him – to Bilaam, wicked one, you wish to curse my children, behold my children already preceded you with Mitzvot and good deeds, that through this your curse will not transpire upon them, for the action of the Mitzvah is between them, that through this – all the bad sides and types of bad forces and all magic in the world are not able to come close to them. And further, all of them flee from “it”. And what is “it”? The Tent of Meeting and the holy vessels and the things used for the service of the Holy Temple, and the incense spices that nullify all the anger and fury of the world above and below, and the Olot [daily sacrifices] and the sacrifices that are offered every day, and the two altars to offer and to do the service of the offerings that are fitting for the outside altar, and the incense spices that are fitting for the inner altar, and the Table and the Showbread, and the Basin and it’s stand to wash the hands and the feet of the Kohanim, that through this they nullify all the strengths of the Chitzonim [external forces of unholiness], and further, a number of other utensils to nullify the power of the action of Kesem.

And to nullify the power of the Nachash which is the power of the mouth, the children of Israel have the Ark and the two Tablets of the Torah, that from them the Jewish people learn the Torah with their mouths, and the Ark of the Covenant for atonement upon the nation through the prayers that are in their mouths each day, and through this the Jewish people stand against the Nachash which is the concept of speech of the mouth.

Since that wicked one [Bilaam] saw this, he said, “For there is no Nachash in Jacob and no Kesem in Israel,” that whether Nachash or Kesem – neither are able to harm the Jewish people. And what is the reason? And he said “For, G-d, their G-d is with them,” which is Z”A – the secret of speech is with them in the power of the Mitzvot through speech that they fulfil with their mouths. “And the shouting [crying, trumpet blowing] of the King is with it,” this means the Malchus which is the companion of the king Z”A, and this is the secret of the deed which is also with them through the power of the Mitzvot of action that they fulfil.

And he returns to his first words and said, and therefore the Holy One Blessed be He said to Israel, “My nation, please remember,” which means, “Please I request of you, remember that time that Balak and Bilaam united to destroy you,” but they didn’t, “For I held you like a father holding his son, and does leave him in the hands of another.”


Bold print: Original Zohar
Ordinary text: Matok Midvash
[Square brackets]: ELIYAHU ben PINCHAS

(Round brackets): Either the source being quoted e.g. Proverbs etc., or alternatively used to quote the kabbalistic language as discussed in Matok Midvash. The Matok Midvash formats the Nigleh side of things in an ordinary print, and the Nistar terminology in Rashi script. I’ve therefore put the Rashi script – the Nistar terminology in round brackets.

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