Sunday, 15 June 2008

Zohar - Parshas Shelach Lecha - The Heart of the Body Corresponds to the Heart of the World



Daf 161a

The heart of the body corresponds to the heart of the world

And now may the strength of my Lord be made great, Rabbi Acha and Rabbi Yosi say, “Happy are they – the Jewish people – more than the nations of the world, that the Holy One Blessed be He chose them from all the nations, and joined His Name with them, that He is called “Elokai Yisrael” – the G-d of Israel – and it is written “My first born child Israel.” And he glorifies Himself in them, as it is written, “Israel, that in you I take pride.” (And it is mentioned here these 3 praises of the Jewish people [choosing them, joining His name with them and glorifying Himself in them], parallel the three levels of the soul that G-d gave to them i.e. the Nefesh – [lower animal soul,] the Ruach – [the spirit], and the Neshama, [the highest level of the revealed levels of the soul.]) This world was created only for Israel in order that they would occupy themselves in Torah, since the Jewish people are connected together with the written Torah and with the oral Torah (which is the secret of Zu”N.) And the Jewish people below in this world – as their soul is clothed in a physical body – they are the existence of the entire world, and the existence of all the other nations, for all of them exist through the strength of the Torah and service of the Jewish people that serve the Holy One Blessed be He. When do they cause the existence of the entire world? At the time they do the will of their Master, for then they draw down abundance to the lower worlds and lower beings (by means of causing Ma”N [the lower waters] to ascend through their service to the Holy One Blessed be He.”

Come and see, when the Holy One Blessed be He created man in the world, He established him in a similar fashion to Above, meaning in the image of G-d, and he includes [in himself] the image of all the created beings. And He gave him his strength and his power in the middle of his body. There lies the heart which is the source of power and nourishment to the entire body. And he established the limbs of the body around the heart, and the heart resides in the middle of the body. And all the limbs are nourished from the heart which is the power and strength of all the limbs. And all the limbs depend upon it. And this heart is joined and united in the higher mind that resides above.

(The Zohar now divides the various sections of these encompassing layers – meaning that a smaller level of holiness surrounds a level of holiness greater than it.)

The following [as in the main body of the Zohar text] follows mostly the version of Zohar according to the Gr”A – the Gaon of Vilna, Rabbi Eliyahu Kramer.

Similarly when the Holy One Blessed be He created the world (first encompassment) He arranged the ocean that surrounds the entire dwelling place of the world, (second encompassment) and the dwelling area of all the 70 nations he surrounded around Jerusalem, (third encompassment) and Jerusalem resides and is found in the middle of the entire dwelling area, (fourth encompassment) and it surrounds the Temple Mount, (fifth encompassment) and the Temple Mount surrounds the courtyards. And we have learned that only the kings of the house of David were allowed to sit in the courtyard, (sixth encompassment) and these courtyards surround the Lishkat HaGazit [the office of Hewn Stone], that it is there that the great Sanhedrin sit, (seventh encompassment) And the Lishkat HaGazit surrounds the Ulam [the entrance hall leading to the inner sanctuary], (eighth encompassment) and the Ulam surrounds the Heichal [the inner sanctuary,] (ninth encompassment) and the Heichal surrounds the house of the Holy of Holies, (tenth encompassment) and there the Shechina [the Indwelling Divine Presence] rests, and there is to be found the Kaporet [the covering of the Ark] and the Keruvim [the angel-like figures above the Kaporet] and the Ark.

And here in the Holy of Holies is the heart of the entire world for from there descends the abundance from above, and from there it spreads to the rest of the world. Therefore, from here all the places of the dwelling space – which is the example of the limbs of the body of the world are nourished. And this heart which is the secret of the Shechina is nourished from the mind in the head which is the secret of the supernal Beit HaMikdash [the Temple], meaning Malchut of Atzilut. And they unite with each other. This is what is written, (Shemot 15:17) “The foundation of Your dwelling-place, you G-d have made.” And Rashi explains, the sanctuary below corresponds directly and is opposite to the throne Above – which you have made.


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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