The Wisdom of the Zohar

An Anthology of Texts

Isaiah Tishby and nsled David Goldstein

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ISBN: 9781874774280

Publication: September 1, 1991

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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The Zohar is the fundamental work of Jewish mysticism. Isaiah Tishby’s classic and definitive Wisdom of the Zohar makes the world of the Zohar available to the English-speaking reader in all its complexity and poetry. The extended extracts are arranged by topic, each section being prefaced by introductory explanations and accompanied by copious notes. There is also a General Introduction on the complex symbolism of the Zohar and on its historical and literary background. The scholarly value of David Goldstein’s acclaimed translation is enhanced by an index expanded to include references to passages cited in the introduction and notes, and by the addition of a subject index and an index of biblical references. Isaiah Tishby was awarded the Bialik Prize 1972, the Israel Prize 1979, and the Rothschild Prize 1982, mainly for his work on The Wisdom of the Zohar. David Goldstein was awarded the Webber Prize 1987 for this translation.

David Goldstein, late Curator of Hebrew Books and Manuscripts at the British Library, was awarded the Webber Prize 1987 for this translation shortly before he died.

Isaiah Tishby was Emeritus Professor of Philosophical, Mythical, and Ethical Hebrew at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem until his death in 1992. He was awarded the Bialik Prize 1972, the Israel Prize 1979, and the Rothschild Prize 1982, mainly for his work on The Wisdom of the Zohar.

VOLUME I Special Preface to the Translator's Introduction Translator's Introduction Preface to Hebrew Volume I, First Edition Preface to Hebrew Volume II GENERAL INTRODUCTION I The Structure and Literary Form of the Zohar The Various Sections * The Characteristics of the Zohar * The Narrative Framework II The Publication and Influence of the Zohar The Testimony of Rabbi Isaac of Acre * Verification of the Evidence * The Sanctity of the Zohar III The History of Zohar Scholarship Early Criticism * Christian Kabbalah and Rabbi Judah Aryeh Modena * The Sabbatean Movement and Rabbi Jacob Emden * Zohar Scholarship in the Enlightenment Period * Later Studies of the Zohar IV Zohar Criticism Indecisive Arguments * The Foundations of Zohar Criticism * Evidence for the Antiquity of the Zohar V Various Solutions Later Redaction * Composition over a Long Period of Time * Composition in the Thirteenth Century * Unresolved Questions VI Printed Editions, Manuscripts, Translations, and Commentaries Printed Editions of the Zohar * Zohar Manuscripts * Translations of the Zohar * Zohar Commentaries PRELIMINARIES: EVENTS AND PERSONALITIES 1 The Greatness of Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai 2 The Teaching of Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai 3 The Angel of Death Put to Flight 4 Miracles: The Plantation of Rabbi Pinhas ben Yair 5 The Righteous Man of his Time: Annulling the Decrees I 6 The Righteous Man of his Time: Annulling the Decrees II 7 Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai and his Generation I 8 Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai and his Generation II 9 Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai and his Generation III 10 Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai and Rabbi Eleazar in the Cave 11 The Emergence from the Cave 12 The Entry into the Great Assembly 13 The Exit from the Great Assembly 14 The Illness of Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai 15 Revelation of Mysteries before his Departure 16 The Departure of Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai 17 After the Death of Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai 18 In the Celestial Academy 19 Rav Hamnuna Sava 20 The Old Man of Mishpatim 21 The Child 22 Rabbi Eliezer the Great PART I THE GODHEAD Section I En-Sof and the World of Emanation Introduction The Mystery of the Godhead * En-Sof and the Order of the Sefirot * Dualism and Unity * En-Sof and Keter * En-Sof in the Raya Mehemna and the Tikkunei ha-Zohar 1 En-Sof and Ayin (Nothing) 2 Cause above All Causes 3 En-Sof beyond All Perception 4 The Conduct of the World through the Sefirot 5 Soul and Body 6 Essence and Vessels 7 Acts of En-Sof Section II Sefirot Introduction The Nature and Function of the Sefirot * The Process of Emanation * The Paths of Symbolism * An Array of Symbols 1 The Process of Emanation 2 The Chain of the Sefirot 3 Straight Line 4 The Unification of the Sefirot through the Mystery of the Light of the Lamp 5 Colours and Light 6 The Lights of Thought 7 Thought, Voice, and Speech I 8 Thought, Voice, and Speech II 9 Thought and Understanding 10 Gates 11 Mi-Eleh-Elohim 12 The Death of the Kings 13 Atika Kadisha and Ze'ir Anpin 14 The White Head and the Strong Skull 15 The Countenance of the King 16 Father and Mother, Son and Daughter 17 The Letter Yod 18 The Letters Yod, He, Vav 19 Names of God 20 Patriarchs 21 Firmaments 22 Firmaments, Streams, and Sea 23 The Streets of the River 24 The Jubilee and the Year of Release 25 The Hills of the World 26 The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge I 27 The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge II 28 The Written Torah and the Oral Torah 29 Heaven and Earth, Day and Night 30 Zion and Jerusalem 31 The Holy One, Blessed be He, and the Assembly of Israel 32 The Arousal of Love 33 The Mystery of the Kiss 34 Intercourse 35 Love and Jealousy Section III Shekhinah Introduction The Character and Situation of the Shekhinah * Cutting and Separation * The Attribute of Judgment and its Relationship to 'the Other Side' * The Mother of the World and the Assembly of Israel * The Exile of the Shekhinah 1 The House of the World 2 A Lily 3 A Rose and a Lily 4 A Well 5 A Hind 6 A Woman of Worth 7 Zedek (Righteousness) 8 The Agent of the Holy One, Blessed be He 9 Gate 10 The Door of the Tent 11 A Continual Burnt-Offering 12 Moon 13 The Diminution of the Moon 14 The Shape of the Moon 15 States of the Moon 16 The Destruction of the Temple 17 The Casting-down of the Shekhinah 18 The Dismissal of the Queen 19 The Mourning of the Holy One, Blessed be He, and the Angels 20 Separation 21 In Exile 22 Longing 23 The Shekhinah, Above and Below 24 In the Land of Israel and outside the Land 25 The Darkened Light 26 Joy and Sorrow 27 Surety 28 In the Street of the Tanners Section IV Influence and Direction Introduction Dynamic Direction * The Tension and Balancing of Opposites 1 Influence from Atika Kadisha 2 The Upper Mother and the Lower Mother 3 Feeding the Upper and the Lower Worlds 4 Blessing 5 Righteousness 6 Watering 7 The Eyes of the Lord 8 Direction on Weekdays and on the Sabbath 9 Acceptable Time 10 Atonement for Sin 11 The Presence of God in the Worlds 12 The Concealed Light 13 The Primal Light 14 The Renewal of the Work of Creation VOLUME II PART II THE OTHER SIDE Section I The Forces of Uncleanness Introduction Good and Evil * The Dualistic Tendency * Restrictions on Dualism * The Emergence of Evil * The Domain of Husks * Mythological Images 1 The Array of Powers 2 The Sefirot of Uncleanness 3 Seven Breaths 4 Pharaoh's Dreams 5 Tohu and Bohu (Waste and Void) 6 Red and Black 7 Light and Darkness 8 Four Husks 9 Shells and Kingdoms 10 The Shells of the Nut 11 Kernel and Shell 12 The Precedence of the Shell 13 The Rule of the Shells 14 Death and the Shadow of Death 15 Snake 16 Monster 17 Monsters 18 The Ox, the Ass, and the Dog Section II The Activity of 'the Other Side' Introduction 1 The Seduction of the Snake in the Upper Worlds 2 The Four Primary Causes of Injury 3 The Infertility of 'the Other Side' 4 Repulsing 'the Other Side' 5 Accusation 6 Appeasing 'the Other Side' I 7 Appeasing 'the Other Side' II 8 Preliminaries to Action 9 Night 10 The Crevice of the Great Deep 11 Deceiving the Sinners 12 Good Days and Evil Days Section III Demons and Spirits Introduction 1 The Desert 2 The Yemim in the Desert 3 Blemished Creatures I 4 Blemished Creatures II 5 Samael and Lilith 6 Lilith in the Cities of the Sea 7 Lilith, the Infant-slayer 8 Naamah, Mother of Demons 9 Naamah and Lilith 10 The Spirit of Uncleanness 11 The Arousal of the Spirit of Uncleanness 12 The Rout of the Demons PART III CREATION Section I The Account of Creation Introduction The Process of Creation * The System of the Worlds 1 Forty-two Letters 2 The Letters of the Alphabet 3 Fire, Water, and Spirit 4 The Design of the Worlds 5 The Upper World and the Lower World 6 The Pillars of the World 7 The Foundation Stone I 8 The Foundation Stone II 9 Creatio ex Nihilo 10 Potentiality and Actuality 11 Different Kinds 12 Heaven and Earth I 13 Heaven and Earth II 14 Heaven and Earth III 15 Lights 16 Conflict and Division 17 Upper and Lower Worlds 18 Sea and Dry Land 19 The Completion of Creation 20 The Hidden Light 21 The Chain of the Generations Section II The Account of the Chariot Introduction 1 The Halls 2 The Throne of Glory 3 The Angels that Bear the Throne 4 The Creatures of the Chariot 5 Creatures and Wheels 6 Hashmal I 7 Hashmal II 8 Four Rivers Section III Angels Introduction The Role of the Angels * Metatron and the Nefilim 1 The Nature of the Angels 2 The Creation and Destruction of the Angels 3 The Melody of the Cherubim's Wings 4 The Song of the Angels I 5 The Song of the Angels II 6 The Song of the Angels III 7 Messengers I 8 Messengers II 9 Metatron 10 The Tabernacle of Metatron 11 Four Angels 12 Michael and Gabriel 13 Uriel 14 Boel 15 Uzza and Azael Section IV The Natural World Introduction 1 Firmaments and Lands 2 Deeps 3 The Sun I 4 The Sun II 5 The Song of the Stars 6 The Stars and the Control of the World 7 The Activity of the Stars 8 The Seven Planets 9 The Comet 10 The Snake in the Firmament 11 The Rainbow 12 The Sea's Pride 13 Evening and Morning 14 Morning 15 The Hind of the Dawn 16 Trees and Herbs 17 The Mystery of the Echo PART IV THE DOCTRINE OF MAN Section I The Three Souls Introduction The Nature and Status of Man * The Tripartite Soul * The Origin of the Different Parts of the Soul * The Preexistence of the Soul * The Theory of the Soul in Midrash ha-Ne'elam 1 The Storehouse of Souls 2 Neshamah and Nefesh Hayyah 3 The Parts of the Soul and their Function 4 The Unity of Neshamah, Ruah, and Nefesh 5 Neshamah, Ruah, and Nefesh and their Different Levels 6 The Three Parts of the Soul as a Model of the Upper Glory 7 The Birth of the Souls 8 The Life of the Souls in the Upper World 9 The Form of the Souls 10 The Soul's Oath 11 The Descent of the Spirit into the Body from the Garden of Eden 12 The Purpose of the Soul's Descent Section II Body and Soul Introduction The Descent of the Soul * Blemished Souls * Body and Soul and Man's Inclinations * The Theory of the Image 1 The Elements in Man 2 The Origin of the Soul and the Origin of the Body 3 The Movement of the Body through the Power of the Soul 4 The Light of the Soul in the Body 5 Man's Likeness 6 The Images of Man 7 The Liver and the Heart 8 The Brain, the Heart, and the Liver 9 The Structure of the Human Body 10 The Good Inclination and the Evil Inclination 11 The Soul, the Body, and the Evil Inclination 12 The Power of Desire 13 The Wiles of the Evil Inclination 14 The Evil Inclination as God's Agent Section III Sleep and Dreams Introduction 1 Sleep, a Sixtieth Part of Death 2 Entrusting the Soul to the Tree of Death 3 The Ascent of the Soul during Sleep 4 The Soul is Judged during Sleep 5 The Dreams of the Wicked and the Dreams of the Righteous 6 Good and Evil in Dreams 7 Dream and Prophecy 8 The Song of the Souls at Night 9 The Renewal of the Soul in the Morning Section IV Death Introduction 1 This World: the Twinkling of an Eye 2 Remembering the Day of Death 3 Thirty Days before Death 4 Illness and Death 5 There is no Death without Sin 6 The Soul Renders Account at the Time of Death 7 The Departure of the Soul 8 Covering the Eyes of the Dead 9 The Prohibition of Delaying the Burial 10 Death at an Early Age 11 The Death of the Righteous and the Death of the Wicked 12 Death in the Holy Land and Death outside the Holy Land 13 The Spirits of the Dead VOLUME III PART V SACRED WORSHIP Section I The Tabernacle and the Temple Introduction The Mysteries of the Tabernacle and the Temple * The Mystery of the Sacrifices * Sitra Ahra's Share of the Sacrifices * Offerings as Symbols 1 The Building of the Tabernacle 2 The Tabernacle and the Temple 3 The Table and the Showbread 4 The Breastplate and the Ephod 5 The Effect of the Gold Plate 6 The Ritual Performed by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement 7 The Whole-offering 8 Sacrifices and Libations 9 Red and White in Sacrificial Offerings 10 The Altar-fire Destroys Evil 11 Incense 12 Priests Are Prohibited from Drinking Wine 13 The Priests, The Levites, and Israel Section II Prayer and Devotion Introduction 'Worship in the Heart' before the Zohar * The Zohar's Understanding of 'Worship in the Heart' * The Mystical Significance of the Statutory Prayers * Fear of God, Love of God, and Communion 1 The Synagogue 2 The Quorum of Ten: Minyan 3 Morning and Afternoon Prayer 4 The Mystery of Unification through the Recital of the Shema 5 The Eighteen Benedictions 6 The Kedushah 7 Prostration 8 The Reading of the Torah 9 Confession 10 Prayer and Sacrifice 11 Praying Silently 12 From the Depths 13 The Cry of the Heart 14 The Prayer of the Poor 15 The Value of Kavvanah in Prayer 16 The Ascent of the Shekhinah through Prayer 17 The Activity of Prayer and its Reward 18 The Knowledge of God 19 Fear and Love 20 Fear and Joy 21 Gladness and Sorrow 22 Cleaving with Love 23 Servants and Sons Section III Torah Introduction Literal and Hidden Meanings in the Torah * Attitudes toward the Torah in the Raya Mehemna and the Tikkunei ha-Zohar 1 The Torah Sustains the World 2 The Narratives of the Torah 3 The Bodies of the Torah, and the Soul of the Torah 4 Original Interpretations of Torah 5 The Level of Mystical Knowledge 6 Halakhic Studies 7 Studying Torah at Midnight 8 The Study of Torah for its Own Sake 9 Sin Does Not Extinguish Torah 10 Those Who Support the Torah 11 The Scholars and the Unlearned Section IV Commandments: Positive and Introduction 1 The Ten Commandments 2 The Covenant of Circumcision 3 The Observance of Circumcision 4 Zizit 5 Tefillin 6 Mezuzah 7 Charity 8 Oaths and Vows 9 The Taking of God's Name in Vain 10 Forbidden Sexual Relations 11 Driving Away the Shekhinah 12 Mixed Kinds 13 Forbidden Foods 14 Gentile Wine 15 The Value of Deeds Section V Sabbath and Festivals Introduction The Sabbath * The Festivals 1 Importance of the Sabbath 2 Welcoming the Sabbath 3 Sabbath Delight 4 The Sabbath Meals 5 The Additional Soul 6 Havdalah at the Close of the Sabbath 7 The New Year 8 The Day of Atonement 9 Receiving Guests in the Sukkah 10 The Four Species 11 The Passover 12 Narrating the Exodus from Egypt 13 Tikkun Leyl Shavuot 14 Festival Joy and Sabbath Joy 15 Sharing Festival Joy with the Poor PART VI PRACTICAL LIFE Section I Morality Introduction 1 Humility 2 The Modesty of Jewish Women 3 Trust 4 Repaying Evil with Good 5 Hospitality 6 Pride 7 The Arrogance of Rulers 8 Anger 9 Evil Speech 10 Miserliness 11 Drunkenness 12 Wisdom and Folly 13 Delivering a Rebuke Section II Conjugal Life Introduction 1 Male and Female Souls 2 The Commandment of Procreation 3 Assuring One's Livelihood before Marriage 4 The Good Woman and the Evil Woman 5 Conjugal Manners 6 Sexual Intercourse by the Sages on Sabbath Eve 7 The Sanctification of Intercourse 8 Intercourse of the Righteous with the Shekhinah 9 Alien Thoughts during Intercourse 10 Attracting a Soul from Sitra Ahra 11 The Merit of Having Virtuous Children Section III The Righteous and the Wicked Introduction The Terms Zaddik and Rasha before the Zohar * The Righteous and the Wicked in the Main Body of the Zohar * The Righteous and the Wicked in the Raya Mehemna and the Tikkunei ha-Zohar 1 The Righteous, the Wicked, and the Intermediate 2 The Mixed Multitude 3 The Sins of the Rich and the Sins of the Poor 4 The Sins of the Wicked and the Sins of the Righteous 5 Marks of Sin on the Face 6 Defending the Wicked 7 Testing the Righteous and Bearing with the Wicked 8 This World Is for the Wicked, and the Next World is for the Righteous 9 The Element of Fear in the Trust of the Righteous 10 The Suffering of the Righteous 11 The Righteous Suffer to Atone for the Sins of the World 12 The Righteous Die because of the Sins of their Generation Section IV Repentance Introduction 1 The Power of Repentance 2 Repentance through Tears 3 Fasting and Tears 4 Atonement for Sin through Repentance 5 Repairing Damage through Repentance 6 Escaping from Punishment by Repentance 7 Repentance at the Hour of Death 8 The Exalted Status of the Penitent Sinner Bibliography of Works Cited Select Additional Bibliography of Other Works Select Glossary Index of References to the Zohar Index of Scriptural References Index to the Anthology Texts

‘An essential aid for understanding the text of the Zohar, and Goldstein, the Littman Library . . . have done us a great service in making it available in English translation . . . any library which claims to cover Judaism and mysticism will have to have a copy of this book.’
- A. P. Hayman

‘La Littman Library of Jewish Civilization ajoute à sa panoplie d’études juives un des classiques des recherches modernes sur la mystique . . . sera . . . un élément indispensable à la bibliographie de tout étudiant de la mystique . . . la tradition anglaise, aussi érudite qu’élégante . . . cette série prestigieuse.’
- Paul Fenton, Revue des Études Juives

‘. . . extensive and erudite introductions to every section of this magnum opus . . . [Tishby’s] introductory essays, as well as his annotations to the passages in these three volumes, demonstrate his vast erudition and comprehension of Kabbalistic theology and literature and thereby introduce the reader into the realms of Kabbalah hitherto inaccessible except to a coterie of scholars. The comprehensive bibliography, select glossary, an index of references to the Zohar, as well as an index of Scriptural references to the texts of this anthology, enhance our appreciation of this tour de force which deserves to adorn the bookshelf of the intelligent layman and the serious student.’
- S. B. Leperer, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

‘We thought we had understood the Zohar but Tishby showed us the mystical level, and we never read the Zohar the same way again. . . . Now the splendour of the Book of Splendour is available for all to see. The masterful work of Tishby has been complemented by a masterful translation by Goldstein. . . . This work is a solid step into a substantial and new view of what religion is about; it should be a part of every scholarly library, in religion as well as in Jewish studies.’
- David R. Blumenthal, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

‘Its three-volume English translation now, for the first time, puts the Zohar truly at the disposal of students coming from other disciplines concerned with religious mysticism who appreciate the importance of treating the Jewish material seriously. . . . it is a monumental achievement . . . Goldstein’s sensitive English version is a great convenience . . . the service to scholarship of the Littman Library in making it available.’
- Raphael Loewe, L’Eylah

‘For over thirty years, Isaiah Tishby’s study of the Zohar has been hailed as a classic, a landmark in modern Hebrew letters. Beautifully written and deeply learned, it has opened the recondite world of the Zohar to more than a generation of Hebrew readers. Thus, the appearance of the long-awaited English translation is a cause for celebration . . . its mysterious power remains largely intact . . . The Zohar . . . is the richest, most imaginative work in the annals of Jewish mysticism . . . Tishby’s selection of primary sources is exemplary, and the commentaries to them, lucid . . . the unusually fine, exacting translation . . . the English reader remains in Goldstein’s debt. Excellent indices have been provided, as well as an updated bibliography. . . . essential reading for anyone seeking to plumb critically the depths of the Jewish mystical tradition . . . this is a classic about a classic.’
- Elliott Ginsburg, Journal of Religion

‘Makes possible, for the English-speaking reader, the study of a broad selection of texts from the Zohar thematically arranged and set in the context of a systematic exploration of their conceptual background. It is a work greatly to be welcomed . . . there has long been a need for such a work. . . . We should be grateful to David Goldstein for his decade of labour of love and to Louis Littman and the Littman Library for having the courage and commitment to support such a task . . . each passage is well-footnoted, the great achievement of this project being to provide a guide for the uninitiated to the rich symbolism and metaphoric reference of the text . . . There is something immensely rich and fertile about the text and texture of the work which has always been of broad appeal. . . . David Goldstein’s translation reads beautifully. Fortunately, he has added additional explanations, when necessary, to the notes . . . There can be no doubt that The Wisdom of the Zohar affords the English-speaking reader a far deeper entry into the subject than was previously available. . . . This translation . . . must place him among the best translators of our time . . . The Wisdom of the Zohar is therefore evidence that [Louis Littman’s] vision of a Library of Jewish Civilization of a standard of excellence will not be forsaken.’
- Jonathan Wittenberg, Jewish Quarterly

‘This superb addition to the Littman Library of Jewish Civilization comes already garlanded with awards . . . These three volumes deserve, and demand, serious and committed study, equal to the enormous dedication and devotion that went into their production. We must be grateful to all concerned in opening this mysterious Jewish world to a wider audience.’
- Jonathan Magonet, Jewish Chronicle

‘An elegant English translation . . . [Tishby’s] work on Jewish mysticism opened up new paths and helped to establish it as a focus of scholarship.’
- Hyam Maccoby, The Independent (from his obituary of Tishby)

‘An indispensable guide . . . stylishly and accurately translated . . . The bewildering diversity of the Zoharic literature is made manageable by the arrangement of the most important passages as an anthology under subject headings, while the lucid notes and introductions to each section by Isaiah Tishby throw light on even the most obscure passages.’
- Hyam Maccoby, European Judaism

‘In many ways the crowning achievement of the Littman Library.’
- Samuel H. Dresner, Conservative Judaism

‘Excellent English translation . . . We are presented not only with the best available English translation of large sections of the Zohar but with an extensive, informed running commentary . . . a brilliant introduction that situates the Zohar in its historical and theological context . . . with an extensive, informed running commentary that for the first time really makes the arcane, esoteric, Zoharic text available. In addition Tishby has provided an excellent introduction . . . Every library of any size and quality should add this work to its collection.’
- S. P. Katz, Choice

Format: Paperback

Edition: New edition

Size: 235 x 155 x 114 mm

1654 Pages

ISBN: 9781874774280

Publication: September 1, 1991

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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