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The Zohar

[from ]
Subject: The Zohar
   "The chief expression of the Kabbalah is a work know as the Zohar
   ('Splendor') which was written as a commentary on the Pentateuch.
   Though it is ascribed to a rabbi of the second century, the work,
   in the form in which circulated in the last part of the
   thirteenth century A.D. was composed only a little earlier than
   then. Since Kabbalism originated in Europe, chiefly in Provence
   and Spain, the book can probably be ascribed to Moses de Leon, a
   native of Granada, who died in 1305."
   - Ninian Smart, The Religious Experience of Mankind
   "When Moses of Leon sat down to write the Zohar, he had to do it
   in Aramaic He was claiming that it was a transcript of an ancient
   manuscript which he had acquired, so he had to use the language
   of a much earlier period....He had learnt the ancient traditions
   in Ladino, a Spanish-type language spoken by the Jews of Spain
   and Portugal, and had to translate them; as a result, there are
   many Spanish words in the text, and some from other languages as
   - George Sassoon and Rodney Dale, The Manna Machine
   "The Zohar is a mystical novel based on the Torah. Its characters
   include Rabbi Shim'on and his Comrades, biblical figures, and the
   sefirot, the various aspects of God's personality."
   "Gershom Scholem...sifted the writings of Kabbalists, critics,
   and scholars. He examined the Zohar'/s language, terminology,
   ideas, and symbolism in the context of early Kabbalah and
   medieval Hebrew thought and literature. He explored the literary
   structure of the Zohar, its fictional format, and historical
   allusions. [In 1925] Scholem demonstrated that the peculiar
   Aramaic was constructed from literary sources, particularly the
   Babylonian Talmud and Targum Onqelos; it contains grammatical
   errors and medieval Hebraisms. The mystical theosophy of the work
   proved to be pure thirteenth-century Kabbalah, which derived from
   medieval Jewish Neoplatonism and Gnosticism."
   "Parts of the Zohar may have been composed by automatic writing,
   a technique that is well attested in the history of mystical
   literature. Joseph Abulafia, an acquaintance of Moses, possessed
   'the writing name' (shem ha-kotev), a holy name that focuses
   meditation and placed one in a trance in which automatic writings
   were produced."
   "The Zohar's style of commentary embraces the precision of
   textual analysis and the abandon of contemplative fantasy. Its
   creativity is motivated both consciously and unconsciously."
   - Arthur Green in the Preface to the Zohar (Daniel Chana Matt
   "This manuscript, he [Moses of Leon] said, contained the
   teachings of a well-known Rabbi, Simon bar Yochai, who lived in
   about +200. Moses of Leon claimed to have edited the manuscript,
   and to be publishing it for the first time.....The Zohar was an
   immediate success. Hand-written copies circulated widely until
   the invention of printing, and many of them still exist.....After
   Moses' death, his wife admitted that there had been no
   manuscript; he had invented the whole story as a device to gain
   publicity for the book."
   "It is clear from the Zohar that Moses of Leon must have been a
   member of a society known as the Reapers of the Holy Field. there
   were many such societies, whose purpose was to pass on the
   secret, traditional knowledge of the Jews, the Oral Law, which
   was said to have been given by the Lord to Moses on the
   "Modern Masons, like ancient Reapers, spend much time memorizing
   details of the Ancient of Days."
   - George Sassoon and Rodney Dale, The Manna Machine
   In the first of the Daniel stories (chapter 7), "Daniel sees four
   monstrous beasts (four successive kingdoms in Asia), the last of
   which (Alexander's heirs) is sprouting an eleventh horn (King
   Antiochus IV). This eleven-horned beast is slain by a deeply
   significant figure, the 'Ancient of Days', the first passage in
   scripture [168/7 BC] which envisages God as old and
   - Robin Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version
     "The Reapers of the Field are the Comrades, masters of this
     wisdom, because Malkbut Shekhinab [the feminine Divine
     Presence], is called the Apple Field, and She grows sprouts of
     secrets and new flowerings of Torah. Those who constantly
     create new interpretations of Torah are harvesting Her."
     - Moses Cordovero, Or ha-Hammab
     "Come and see:
     Every single day, dew trickles down from the Holy Ancient One
     to the Impatient One,
     and the Orchard of Holy Apple Trees is blessed.
     Some of the dew flows to those below;
     holy angels are nourished by it, each according to his diet,
     as it is written: '
     A human ate angel bread' (Psalms 78:25)
     Israel ate of that food in the desert.
     Rabbi Shim'on said 'Some people are nourished by it even now!
     Who are they?
     The Comrades, who engage Torah day and night.
     Do you think they are nourished by that very food?
     No, by something like that very food; two balancing one."
     - Zohar (Daniel Chana Matt Editor)
   the Orchard of Holy Apple Trees Shekbinah. The apple trees are
   the sefirot from Hesed to Yesod, which fill Her. The image
   originates in the Talmud as a midrashic comment on Genesis 27:27:
   'as the fragrance of a field that YHVH has blessed'."
   angel bread Hebrew, lebem ahhirim, 'bread of powerful beings'.
   The verse describes the manna from heaven. In Talmud, Yoma 75b
   Rabbi Akiva takes the phrase to mean 'bread that the ministering
   angels eat'. The Zohar adopts this view and sees the manna as a
   product of divine emanation..."
   The Comrades Aramaic, bavrayya, 'companions, colleagues,
   comrades'; the circle of rabbis who gather around Rabbi Shim'on
   son of Yohai, the master. They constantly engage Torah, searching
   for her mystical secrets"
   two balancing one The mystical Comrades, striving to attain
   wisdom, are nourished from the sefirah of Wisdom, Hokhmah, which
   is higher than heaven (Tif'eret), the source of manna...The food
   of the Comrades is twice as holy as manna!".
   - Notes on the Zohar (Daniel Chana Matt Editor)
   "The learned commentators of the Talmud, the Rabbis of the
   synagogue, explain that the garden of delight, in which those
   four personages are made to enter, is but that mysterious
   science, the most terrible of sciences for weak intellects, which
   it leads to insanity."
   - A. Franck, Kabbalah

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