Rabbi Shimon continued [his discourse], citing the verse: "You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Shabbat day". (Ex. 35:3) What is the reason? So that judgment should not be seen on that day [of Shabbat, for kindling a fire arouses supernal judgment]. You may protest that it arises for heavenly purposes [on the Temple altar on Shabbat, but] it is written "throughout your habitations," and not for supernal [purpose], for that which ascends for heaven[ly purposes arises] to subdue judgment of the Other [Side]. For as we have learned, there is a fire which consumes a fire, and the fire of the altar consumes the other fire [of judgment].

Therefore, Atika Kadisha [where there is no judgment] reveals Himself on that day [Shabbat] more than on any other day. And when He reveals Himself, judgment is not in evidence at all, and all upper and lower beings are in perfect joy, and judgment has no dominion.

We learned from the verse: "For G‑d made six days, heavens and earth" (Ex. 31:17) that it was surely "six days" [the 6 sefirot/extremities of Zeir Anpin: chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, hod, and yesod] Therefore, it is not written, 'in six days' [which would mean that G‑d created the heavens and earth in six days, but the verse indicates that G‑d created the six sefirot]; those [sefirot] are called supernal holy days, days in which the Holy Name is included and they are contained in it [within the vav of 'Havayah']. Worthy is the portion of Israel above all the pagan nations, for of them it is written: "But you that did cleave to G‑d your Elokim are alive, every one of you this day". (Deut. 4:4)

BeRahamim LeHayyim: The Zohar dishes out some strong medicine which may taste bitter to some: on Shabbat we can't light a fire. Period. While some commentaries stress this also means to not get angry on Shabbat—and that is certainly a high explanation—simply it means that if we physically light a fire, either through a match, electricity, or ignition switch of a car—we are arousing judgment above. The Zohar immediately questions this and says, "But wait, did not we use a fire in the Temple for the sacrifices on that day?" To which it answers, "The Torah says we can't light a fire in one's home, dwelling places. This does not mean that we cannot do a Torah-mandated physical sacrifice that produces a spiritual result above."

It seems that without being preachy the Zohar wants us to understand the spiritual significance of physical actions below. Certainly no one would ever intend to arouse wrathful judgment on our day of peace. These words are worth contemplation, and perhaps put into action when on Friday afternoon we prepare everything necessary so we do not "light a fire" during Shabbat.

What does this mean to you, and why is it revealed now?


[Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries]