Among the many topics discussed in this week's Zohar is the aspect of the Holy. This concept is interwoven throughout the Torah and especially important when relating to the Tabernacle. Aaron is told not to come whenever he chooses into the Holy, his clothes are called Holy and the Tabernacle itself is, of course, Holy. Rebbe Shimon asked each one of his group of sages to teach some Torah while they were eating. The first to speak was Rabbi Chizkiya.

Rabbi Chizkiya opened his discourse with the verse:
"The Lord G‑d has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to sustain with a word him who is weary." (Isaiah 50:4) All who are worthy enough to receive the Torah are worthy enough to receive the Holy One…

Blessed are Israel that the Holy One Blessed be He chose them from among the nations [to receive the Torah] and called them "holy" as is written, "Holy are Israel to G‑d" (Jeremiah 2:3). Furthermore, He gave them a part in which to unite with the Holy Name [referring to Havayah, as well as Zeir Anpin]. What was it that gave them the merit to unite with the Holy Name [ Havayah]? It was because they were worthy to receive the Torah [on Mount Sinai and from there to unite with G‑d]. For all who are worthy enough to receive the Torah are worthy enough to receive the Holy One Blessed be He.

Further on, the Zohar (page 73a) teaches that Israel, the Torah and G‑d are all united in one bonding. The concept is that the Torah represents the will of G‑d, and by Israel doing the will of G‑d by fulfilling the Written and Oral Law, we become one with His will, and therefore with Him.

Also, we have learned before our master [Rebbe Shimon] which [partzuf] is called Holy. It is the complete integration of everything that is called Higher Wisdom [Chochma Ilaah]. Wisdom…once attained, influences everything that a person does…

This is the partzuf of Abba that infuses all of the other constellations of sefirot below. Wisdom and, with it, the knowledge of the perfect unity of creation, once attained, influences everything that a person does. In the same way, the partzufim above are all influenced and united by the higher wisdom.

It is from this place [yesod of Abba] that the holy anointing oil [the consciousness of Zeir Anpin from the side of Abba] is drawn down through known paths.

The yesod of Abba is called a path. From it emerges consciousness that flows into Imma/bina.

[It flows] to that place called Higher Understanding/Bina Ilaah [yesod of Imma]. From there issue wellsprings and rivers in every direction until they reach that "zot".

Wellsprings are fountains of knowledge from the side of Abba/chochma, and rivers are the flow of structured consciousness that descends from Imma/bina to all the lower sefirot in their various arrays. This flow influences and unites all the other sefirot, such as chesed and gevura and tiferet, descending down three "known paths" which are the lines joining the sefirot in the diagram of the sefirot. They flow down to reach their destination in the sefira of malchut that is known as "zot" or "This". Pointing at something and calling it "this" signifies that it is a physical reality, seemingly separate from the Divine. The Higher Will descends to influence this level of creation that is called the Shechina when not in conscious union with the Divine.

Now that [level called] "this", when she is blessed from that higher place, [which is called Holy and also called Chochma] is called Ruach HaKodesh [divine inspiration, or, literally, "Spirit of the Holy"]. That means that the spirit from that higher Holy [level], when it issues forth and arouses [the sefira of malchut with] secrets of the Torah, is then called the Holy Tongue [referring to the Hebrew language]. She is the mouthpiece and tongue through which are revealed the secrets…

Rabbi Chizkiya has now connected us back with his opening quote, where the prophet Isaiah refers to the tongue of the learned. Here he is explaining how the sefira of malchut receives the flow of inspiration that is called Holy. She is called the Holy Tongue because she is the mouthpiece and tongue through which are revealed the secrets of the Holy Torah. He next explains how the order of the descent of consciousness into the sefira of malchut collects first in the sefirot of netzach and hod of Zeir Anpin, the place from which prophesy issues. From thence it issues out from yesod to unify with malchut.

At the time when the holy anointing oil [chochma] is drawn down [from the partzuf of Abba] to those two pillars [netzach and hod of Zeir Anpin] that are called "the teaching of G‑d" and "armies", the abundance collects there. From there it issues out into that level which is called yesod [and from there it becomes unified and devolves] to that smaller wisdom [malchut].

Yesod is also known by the name "tzadik", meaning "righteous". The connection to this higher wisdom can only be made properly by one who acts in the way of the righteous through a life bound up in Torah learning, mitzvot and good deeds.

Then this [wisdom in yesod] is called "the tongue of learning".

Yesod is likened to a tongue or intermediary vehicle, upon which the holy wisdom of prophecy is carried as it speaks the teachings of G‑d issuing from netzach and hod.

It issues from there to arouse those higher holy ones [the prophets]. Then it [fulfills the words of the quoted verse] as is written, "The Lord G‑d has given me the tongue of the learned". And why? In order "to know how to sustain with a word [of prophecy] one who is weary". I speak to him mouth to mouth…not in riddles…

The higher wisdom is thus drawn down in a rectified manner in order to sustain with words of divine prophecy those who have become wearied in the darkness of exile. It reconnects the listener to the divine intent behind "the news", giving a glimpse of the higher reality guiding personal and national history. This reconnection with the divine intent is the opposite of exile; it is the light of redemption.

And the Holy One Blessed be He, has given this [tongue of the learned] to the Holy Lamp, Rebbe Shimon [bar Yochai]. Even more, He has lifted him higher and higher [to the sefirot of chochma and bina in Zeir Anpin where he learned secrets not even revealed to the prophets]. That is why all his words of wisdom are spoken in a revealed manner [unlike the allegories and visions of the prophets]. It is about him that it is written, "I speak to him mouth to mouth, manifestly, and not in riddles." (Num. 12:8).

How fortunate are we to learn the teachings of Rebbe Shimon!

Zohar, parashat Acharei Mot, pg.61a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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