Sunday, 6 July 2008

Zohar - Parshat Balak - The Yenuka! The Genius Child! A Lesson in the Importance of Reciting the Shema


DAF 186a (381 in Matok Midvash)

The Yenuka!

The Genius Child!

A Lesson in the Importance of Reciting the Shema.

[The Yenuka – literally young child, was the son of Rabbi Hamnuna. He was an especially clever child. While being a genius in understanding the esoteric parts of Torah and much more, he was also a very unique soul. One thing he was able to do was to be able to know about people from the way they smelled. This section of the Zohar, known simply as “Yenuka” discusses a number of secrets that the Yenuka revealed concerning various matters. In our section below, the Yenuka speaks about the importance of reciting the Shema in its correct time. While one may recite the Kriat Shema at any time of day, there is a Mitzvah to read it once in the morning and once in the evening. In each case, there are hours that are allocated to saying it in order to fulfil the Mitzvah – in its correct time! The Yenuka points out that whether one fulfils this Mitzvah correctly or not, one actually makes a change to ones soul that can be detected by the sense of smell!]

Rabbi Yitzchak and Rabbi Yehuda were walking along the road. They arrived at that place called the Village of Sichnin. This is where Rav Hamnuna lived. They were hosted for the meal by his wife since Rav Hamnuna had already died – as we will learn later. She had a young son, and every day he would learn in the Beit Sefer [school]. On that day he left the school and came home, for the spirit of G-d notified him that important guests would be coming to his home. He saw these sages. His mother said to him, go on and draw close to those great men, and gain [from them] and receive a blessing from them!

He drew close towards them. Before he arrived, he retreated backwards. He said to his mother, I do not want to draw close to them, because today they did not read the Kriat Shema [the Reading of the Shema] in its correct time! And so it was taught to me, that anybody who does not read Kriat Shema in its [correct] time, he is to be put into excommunication the entire day, because he did away with the 248 רמ"ח words in the Kriat Shema, it is turned around upon him 248 – רמ"ח into חר"ם excommunication – G-d forbid. [The Shema consists of 248 words. When one takes the Hebrew letters corresponding to the numerical value of 248, it can be read as either רמ"ח which refers to the 248 words, or when one switches the letters around – becomes חר"ם – excommunication. The Yenuka was pointing out that because the rabbis – for whatever the reason could be, had not yet recited the Kriat Shema which contains 248 words which protect one, they were now deserving of excommunication. Due to his holiness, and his desire to fulfil the law of every single letter of Torah correctly, he took it upon himself to stay away from them – as if they already were in excommunication.]

They, Rabbi Yitzchak and Rabbi Yehuda, heard these words [that the Yenuka had said to his mother,] and were amazed! They lifted their hands and blessed him. They said, “Certainly it is so, that we didn’t read the Kriat Shema in it’s time today. Today we were busy with the needs of a groom and bride who did not have for themselves their needs, [they didn’t have the necessary money to pay for a wedding.] And they were delaying to get married, and there wasn’t any other person that would occupy themselves with them. And we occupied ourselves with them. And therefore we didn’t read the Kriat Shema in its correct time! And one who is occupied with a Mitzvah, is exempt from a Mitzvah.” (As explained in Tractate Sukka 26a)

They said to him – they asked the child, “My son, how did you know that we didn’t read the Kriat Shema in it’s time?” He said to them, “By the smell of your garments I knew when I approached you.” They were amazed about this! And this means to say that through the smell of the garments of their soul which is made up of Mitzvot. And now there was lacking to them a portion of the garment of the Mitzvah of Kriat Shema.

An alternative explanation: When a person sleeps and his soul leaves his body, there enters into his 248 limbs 248 limbs of the Klipot, husks [evil forces.] And afterwards when a person awakens from his sleep, then even if he occupies himself in Torah and Mitzvot, the husk does not depart from the 248 limbs until he reads the Kriat Shema which has in it 248 words. Since there is a Segula [charm] in the Kriat Shema that every word that he reads empties out the impurity from one of his 248 limbs. And these Tannaim [as the Rabbis of that era were called], even though they occupied themselves in Mitzvot and were exempt from the reading of the Shema, but still that husk had not left their limbs. Therefore the Yenuka smelled the smell of the Klipah which is the garment of their soul.


Bold print: Original Zohar

Ordinary text: Matok Midvash

[Square brackets]: Rabbi Eliyahu Shear

(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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