Sunday, 3 August 2008

Zohar - Parshat Chayei Sara - The Shechina in Exile - Waiting for the Rebuilding of the Temple


Daf 134a With Matok Midvash pp. 134-137


The coming discourse is a continuation of what is discussed before this – that our forefather Abraham subjugated all the forces of the Kelipot (husks) below in order that they would not rule over the seed of Isaac, but rather that Isaac would have dominion over the nations. Regarding this it said – how much evil came to Israel through their sins that the matter was turned around and the nations ruled before the holy and the Temple was destroyed and the impure Chitzonim (external evil forces) rule over and swallow up Israel into themselves, and they get stronger each and every day, and Israel become increasingly weaker under their dominion, and piety and goodness is increasingly diminished. (Ramak)

Rabbi Chizkiya opened and said – to explain what is written (Isaiah 42:24) “Who gave Jacob for looters and Israel for plunders? Surely G-d is He, for we [sic] sinned against Him, and they [sic] did not desire to go in His ways and they [sic] did not listen to His Torah. This means – who was the one that gave over Israel as spoils and as plunder [to the nations of the world]? Surely it was G-d that placed them in the exile, for they sinned against Him, and He paid them their recompense. And it precedes and says, come and see. From the time that the Temple was destroyed, blessings no longer rested in this world and abundance was withheld. So to speak it was withheld from above from the world of Atzilut and from below from the worlds Beriya and Yetzira. And all of the other lower levels of the Chitzonim get stronger and rule over Israel, since they caused this through their sins to destroy the Temple. For until the Temple was destroyed, an abundance of blessing was drawn into the world through the gate of heaven – which is positioned directly opposite the Temple.

And Rabbi Chizkiya said, this verse does not sit nicely with its order of its wording. For it is written, “Who gave Jacob for spoils?” Since it says “Who gave Jacob and Israel for spoils?” which is a hidden language, what does it mean to say, “We sinned against Him?” It should have said, “They sinned against Him.” [also] in a hidden language. [In Hebrew when expressing an action performed by someone we do not know, the Hebrew form of the verb is in the 3rd person past tense i.e. “they” did the action. The verse in Isaiah expresses that we sinned. It should rather have expressed itself in the 3rd person past tense to show that nobody can identify any particular person or people that sinned. In fact the second part of the verse “they did not desire” is written this way. The Zohar is questioning the strange make-up of the grammar used in this verse which begins with 1st person plural and only later continues with 3rd person plural past tense.] And if it said, “We sinned against Him,” if it already spoke in a language speaking about themselves, what does it mean, “They did not desire”? Why is it written again in the hidden language [i.e. 3rd person plural past tense.] It should have written, “And our fathers,” as if speaking about themselves.

But rather, at the time that the Temple was destroyed i.e. when the external walls were destroyed, and afterwards the sanctuary was burned within, and the nation of Israel went into exile, the Shechina [Indwelling Divine Presence] wanted to uproot herself from her place above and to go with them into exile. She said, “I will go first to see my house and my sanctuary, and I will remember the places of the Kohanim and the Levites that served in my house, and I will eulogize and I will cry about the destruction and about those who were killed.

[The question of the Zohar regarding the grammar has still not been answered…]

Rabbi Elazar said, still Rabbi Chizkiya did not complete his words, and Rabbi Elazar interrupted him with an aid and additional explanation and said, “At that moment Knesset Yisrael – the Shechina – looked upwards, and she saw that her husband Z”A was being removed from her and going further and further upwards. Therefore she went down and entered into the Temple and looked around at all the places to see if there remained any place for any aspect of service, that through it she could have any Yichud [joining] to awaken for her side upwards. And she saw that there did not remain any place at all for service. Then immediately her voice lifted up in crying, and her voice was heard crying above to Binah (as is written further, Daf 210a “What is BeRama? [lit ‘above’] This is the world above – the world to come.) And the voice of her crying was heard below, for the place of the Shechina is above and below. This is what is written, (Jeremiah 31:14) “A voice is heard on high, wailing, bitter weeping, Rachel weeps for her children.” For Rachel is the Shechina that cried [cries] because of the destruction of the Temple, and her voice of crying is heard above – which is Binah. Until here the words of Rabbi Elazar.

Now Rabbi Chizkiya returns to answer the difficulty of the language of the verse, and he said, Since the Shechina went down into exile with Israel to save them from the evil of the enemies and to guard them in their exile, she saw the troubles with her nation the children of Israel, and she saw the nations oppressing them [Israel] and treading upon them in exile, between the legs of the other nations. Then she [the Shechina] says, “Who gave Jacob to spoils…?” And they – the children of Jacob say to her, “It was not for nothing that they tread upon us, for surely it is G-d. We sinned against Him, and our sins caused us these stresses and troubles.” And she says, “They did not want to go in His ways and to listen to his Torah.” This means that the Shechina says that these children of exile are good and righteous and endure suffering and are not sinners. For this is the attribute of supernal mercy. That since they accepted upon themselves the judgment, they are considered like complete Tzaddikim [righteous]. It is only their fathers that already died – it is they that did not desire to go in His paths. And it is they that caused the bad and the destruction, and because of them, the children are suffering. To this it does not speak in an opposite manner, ‘You did not desire to go in His ways” but rather “They did not desire.”

And at the time in the future the Holy One Blessed be He will remember His nation Israel to take them out of exile! Then Knesset Yisrael – the Shechinawill return from the exile as in the beginning. And immediately she [the Shechina] will go to the Temple even though it is still destroyed. And the reason she will go there is because the Temple will be built first and she will go there to see it being built. And before its establishment the Holy One Blessed be He will say ‘Arise from the impure dust,’ these are the Chitzonim that you are lying in with the nation of Israel. She will return and answer the Holy One Blessed be He, ‘If the Temple is not built yet, what is there to be established?’ And this is what she says, ‘To which place shall I go if my house is still destroyed and my sanctuary is burned from fire?’ Until the Holy One Blessed be He will first build the Temple and He will repair the Sanctuary and He will build the city of Jerusalem. This means while He is still gathering Israel and comes with them from their exile, it will be found that the Holy One Blessed be He has already built the Temple and repaired the Sanctuary and built the holy city of Jerusalem. And afterwards the Holy One Blessed be He will cause the Shechina to arise from the dust, and a proof for this statement is, this is what is written (Psalms 147:2) “The Builder of Jerusalem is G-d,” which means in the beginning the Holy One Blessed be He will build the holy city of Jerusalem and included in it is the Temple. And afterwards He will gather in the dispersed of Israel i.e. He will say to the Shechina, (Isaiah 52:2) “Shake the dust from yourself,” from the Chitzonim, “Arise and sit Jerusalem…” i.e. the Shechina which is called Jerusalem. And then Israel will be gathered from its exile, and he adds to explain this is what is written, the Builder of Jersualem is G-d – in the beginning the Holy One Blessed be He will build Jerusalem and the Temple, and afterwards He will gather the dispersed of Israel from exile. And then He will heal the broken hearted bodies and will bandage their sadness – this is the resurrection of the dead. And it is written, (Ezekiel 36:27) “And I will place My spirit within you” – I will return the spirit of prophecy to you. “And I will make it that you follow My decrees and my judgments you will guard and do them.” This means I will awaken your hearts to go in My statues and to guard My judgments with a perfect and complete heart.

[May we merit the building of the Temple immediately with the coming of Moshiach and may all those who dwell in the dust arise and awaken. Amen!]


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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