The original Zohar was written by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and it was revealed to him by Eliyahu HaNavi. The current explanations of Zohar were passed onto us by the Ari HaKadosh (Ari z”l). His student Rav Chaim Vital, wrote down the words of his teacher the Ari
The Holy Rav Yitzchak Luria (Ari z”l אר”י ז”ל , Eloki Rabeinu Yitzchak Luria Asheknazi, 1534-1572), was born in Yerushalayim. He was exposed to the Zohar at the age of seventeen. He was a Rabbi in the city of Tzefat. The Ari taught that by studying “The Zohar” we can actually bring closer the final redemption גאולה of Yisrael.
Many famous Rabbonim have encouraged us to read and learn the Zohar, even without full comprehension! However, one must study from a legitimate Hebrew source such as the מתוק מדבש. There are only a few legitimate books on Kabala that exist in English, such as the ones written by Rav Aryeh Kalpan.
· Rav Moshe ben Mordechai Zacuto (1625-1697), wrote that reading the words of the Zohar, even without full comprehension, has a beneficial spiritual purpose.
· The Chida, Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai חיד”א (1724-1806), wrote that reading the Zohar, even without comprehension, performs a spiritual repair תיקון, for one’s Neshamah.
· Rav Kapil, stated that reading Zohar, even without understanding it, cleanses the Neshama.
· Degel Machane Ephraim (Rav Moshe Chaim Ephraim , grandson Baal Shem Tov, 1748-1800), wrote that by reading Zohar, even without comprehension, one merits a (soul) Neshama.
· Pele Yoetz (Rav Eliezer Papo, 1785-1828) wrote that reading Zohar , even without comprehension, cleanses and purifies the Nefesh.
· Most of the content Rav Chaim Volozin’s (student of Vilna Gaon) teachings were based on the Zohar, including his famous sefer Nefesh HaChaim.
Understanding Kabalistic/ Zohar Terminology
א. G-d gives us “spiritual goodness” in the form of a spiritual light called the Ohr Ein Sof, אור אין סוף. It is manifested as ten lights or Sefiros ספירות . These are the names of the vessels containing the Divine Light.
ב. These are the Ten Sefiros, or the spiritual DNA (alpha helix) of our world:
1) Kesser – כתר
2) Chachma חכמה –
3) Bina – בינה
4) Chesed – חסד
5) Gevurah – גבורה
6) Tiferes – תפארת
7) Nezach – נצח
8) Hod – הוד
9) Yesod – יסוד
10) Malchus – מלכות
These are grouped into 5 faces פרצופים:
1) Erech Anpin – אריך אנפין (א”א) – כתר
2) Abba – חכמה – אבא
3) Ima – אימא (או”א) – בינה
4) Ze’er Anpin – – זעיר אנפין (ז”א) חסד + גבורה (חו”ג) + תפארת (ת”ת) +נצח + הוד + יסוד (ו”ק) = = ששה קצוות חג”ת+נה”י
5) Nukvah – נוקבא דזעיר אנפין- מלכות, נוקבא + זעיר אנפין = (זו”ן)
ג. The Four letters in G-d,’s name י-ה-ו-ה, represent the Ten Sefiros.
1) The tip of Yud – כתר, Erich Anpin
2) The Yud – חכמה, Aba
3) First Heh – בינה, Ima
4) Vav – 6 sefiros, חג”ת נה”י, Ze,er Anpin
5) Last Heh – מלכות, שכינה, Nukava of Ze’er Anpin
ד. Each letter has a spelled out numerical value , unification and expansion:
1) Yud – חכמה , use yuds
יו”ד ה”י וי”ו ה”י = 72 = ע”ב
2) First Heh – בינה
יו”ד ה”י וא”ו ה”י = 63 = ס”ג
3) Vav – ,תפארת use Alef
יו”ד ה”א וא”ו ה”א = 45 = מ”ה
4) Last Heh – מלכות, use Heh
יו”ד ה”ה ו”ו ה”ה = 52 =ב”ן
All four together = (עב + סג + מה + בן (עסמ”ב
ה. The Sefiros Tree is build out of three columns:
· The right column of the Sefiros tree is = Chachma – Chesed – Nezach (חח”ן). With these Sefiros G-d rules with attribute מידה of kindness, Chesed.
· The middle column of the Sefiros tree is = Kesser – )Da’as( – Tiferes – Yisod (כדת”י). With these G-d rules with attribute of mercy .רחמים One who is not worthy of Chesed, G-d has mercy with Rachamim.
· The left column of the Sefiros tree is = Bina – Gevurah – Hod (בג”ה). With these Sefiros G-d rules with Gevurah or strict דין.
ו. The top (Head) three Sefiros ((כתר+חכמה+בינה or מוחין (brains), are so elevated that we cannot comprehend their secrets.
The seven lower Sefiros חג”ת נהי”ם called מידות , we can attempt to comprehend them. Through these Sefiros can attempt to understand the ways of G-d. These can be arranged in the shape of a man.
· Kesser, Chachma, Bina = head and brain.
· Chesed – right arm, good in the world.
· Gevurah – left arm, judgment in the world
· Tiferes- middle balance between Chesed and Gevurah
· Nezech, Hod – two legs, Nezach branch from Chesed; Hod is a branch Gevurah.
· Yesod- bris milah, has influence over five others above it: חג”ת + נ”ה.
· Malchus – the crown of Yesod of Zer Anpin. Here the Shechina is connected.
ז. Each one of the Sefiros, like tree branches, has its own ten Sefiros. In turn each of those Sefiros has its own ten Sefiros etc.
ח. G-d created four worlds .עולמותThese four worlds parallel each letter of G-d’s name as such: אבי”ע = הוי”ה.
1) Atzilus – אצילות — ה The High Level: all holiness not evil, contains the neshamos of the Jewish people which come from the Sefiros Ze’er Anpin of Nukva.
2) Beriyah – בריאה – ו – Angels called Serafim are at this level, mostly good/holy, a little shell קליפה of evil.
3) Yetzirah – יצירה – י – Angels called Chayos HaKodesh on this level. Half good/Holy and half klipa of evil.
4) Assiyah Spiritual- רוחני עשיה – ה- Angels Ophanim. Mostly evil klipa mixed with Holiness.
4a) Assiyah Physical- – עשיה הגשמי הוי”ה אש, רוח, מים, עפר (ארמ”ע) – -Fire, Air, Water, Earth
ט. Five facets of the Neshama were created parallel to the four letters of G-d’s name הוי”ה + the crown of the yud י.
The Neshama נשמה, lowest to highest:
1. Nefesh – נפש
2. Ruach רוח –
3. Neshama נשמה –
4. Chaya חיה –
5. Yechida יחידה –
The lowest three Neshamos are abbreviate as NRN or נר”ן.
י. The reason that G-d sent the Neshamos of Bnei Yisrael to this world, is to separate out the Holy sparks נצוצין which fell between the Klipos Shells (evil) via the sin of Adam HaRishon. When the Jewish Nation performs prayer, Mitzvos, good deeds, we bring out the Holy sparks of goodness from the evil in the world.
First we perform an awakening belowאתערותא דלתתא , via from the Nukvin מיין נוקבין (מ”ן), of Malchus which is the Shechina אדנ-י. The Shechina is found in Eretz Yisrael. An “awakening below” is performing mitzvos in the Land of Israel. Through this action, we unite with the higher Sefiros of the Ze’er Anpin הוי-ה. This unites the two Holy Names of G-d אדנ-י + הוי-ה to form the united Holy Name of G-d: יאהדונה-י .
This spiritual unification in our world below, in Eretz Yisrael, brings down the “goodness” שפע from the higher spiritual level מיין דוכרין (מ”ד). In this manner goodness comes down to the world and specifically the Holy Jewish People. This is only accomplished by fulfilling the 613 commandments (מצוות) Mitzvos of the Torah, to the best of our ability and not transgressing any sins. This is our purpose in the world.
According to the Sifrei, living in Israel and performing our daily mitzvos, is one way to fulfill all of the 613 commandments.
יא. Unification of G-d’s name is another goal of ours (ה’ אחד). One of the unifications is combining the Sefiros of Yesod + Malchus. This is because Yesod includes in it all of the five Sefiros above it חג”ת +נ”ה. Yesod unifies and brings the spirituality of Ze’er Anpin (six Sefiros) down to Malchus. In this manner Yesod performs an improvement or תיקון of Malchus.
יב. Malchus is the Nukva of Ze’er Anpin; which is also the Shechina which exists in Eretz Yisrael in the world below. Malchus brings to reality the six Sefiros branches of Ze’er Anpin. It also brings the spiritual goodness שפע to all the Angels in the worlds of Beriya, Yetzira, Assiya and to all of the lower spiritual beings.
יג. It is crucial to note that G-d has no physical shape or form. Therefore, all of these words and descriptions used in the Zohar, are pure allegory.
יד. There is another manner, in which to understand the spiritual world and to concentrate on our prayers said in the Hebrew language. We should know that every letter and word that we pronounce, sheds light and power to the higher worlds. Words do matter. They have the power to cause damage and to build worlds.
טו. Occasionally, the Zohar may use male attributes for things that are active and affect others. Whereas, the Zohar will use female attributes for concepts that are passive and receive the spiritual goodness שפעfrom G-d.
May we all be blessed to improve the world by serving G-d in the Land of Israel. In this manner we unite the One name of the King of the Universe in the Land of Malchus where the Shechina dwells. In this manner we actually bring the era of Moshiach into reality.