I am going to open this piece with an exposition of the 4 rabbi’s that went into Paradise or PaRDeS and the exegesis of the story. Later, I will return to the intro to the The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, translated with commentary by Daniel C. Matt. Those portions that are not sourced come from the Zohar. Let’s begin.
The version in the Babylonian Talmud, which is the best-known, may be translated:
The Rabbis taught: Four entered the Pardes. They were Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, Acher and Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva said to them, “When you come to the place of pure marble stones, do not say, ‘Water! Water!’ for it is said, ‘He who speaks untruths shall not stand before My eyes’ (Psalms 101:7)”. Ben Azzai gazed and died. Regarding him the verse states, ‘Precious in the eyes of G-d is the death of His pious ones’ (Psalms 116:15). Ben Zoma gazed and was harmed. Regarding him the verse states, ‘Did you find honey? Eat as only much as you need, lest you be overfilled and vomit it’ (Proverbs 25:16). Acher cut down the plantings. Rabbi Akiva entered in peace and left in peace.
In the commentary printed beside the Talmud text, Rashi says that Ben Azzai died from looking at the Divine Presence. Ben Zoma‘s harm was in losing his sanity. Acher‘s “cutting down the plantings” in the orchard refers to becoming a heretic from the experience. Acher means “the other one”, and is the Talmudic term for thesageElisha ben Avuya. Rabbi Akiva, in contrast to the other three, became the leading Rabbinic figure of the era.
“Again and again Rabbi Shim’on waxes eloquent in the praise of those who study Torah, especially those who do so after midnight. They indeed take the place of the priests and Levites of old, ‘who stand in the house of the Lord by night.’ Those who awaken nightly to study the secrets of Torah become the earthly attendants of the divine bride, ushering Her into the chamber where She will unite at dawn with Her heavenly spouse.”
This is interesting to me for a few reasons, the reference to studying Torah at midnight is interesting because it is after midnight that one practices black magick in Voodoo, modern Voodoo is based on the 6th and 7th books of Moses. Voodoo is something you use when you have no resources and you are fighting an enemy with all the resources. This passage portrays the Levites as a kind of Guardian, hyper vigilant to an attack from the enemy, standing in a heightened state of suspicious awareness while everybody else slumbers.
“Torah, in the Zohar is not conceived as a text, as an object, or as material, but as a living divine presence, engaged in a mutual relationship with the person who studies her. More than that, in the zoharic consciousness Torah is compared to a beloved who carries on with her lovers a mutual dynamic courtship.”
Remember if you will my theory that the cult of the Augures who created the philosophy of law, science, and religion in the West were associated with India and the Hebrews. The High Priest of the cult of the Augures meditated on the divine law that infused the universe, he didn’t create the law and he was subject to it. Even the separation of powers of the president is modeled after the Philosophy of the Augure cult. Think of Torah as the divine law that governs events in the universe.
“The beloved in the nexus of this rrelationship is entirely active. She sends signals of her interest to her lover, she intensifies his passionate desire for her by games of revealing and hiding. She discloses secrets that stir his curiosity. She desires to be loved. The beloved is is closed in an erotic progression before her lover out of a desire to reveal secrets that have been forever hidden within her.
…the day when God gave Torah to Israel and proclaimed His love for her in the song of songs.”
a rhetorical tautology of God giving man a soul by giving him philosophy…
“In the Zohar, the true subject matter that the kabbalist finds in every verse is the hieros gamos itself, the mystical union of the divine male and female – the eros that underlies and transforms Torah, making it into a symbolic textbook on the inner erocit life of God.”
I am going to paraphrase a bit, many of the texts that make the Zohar are of the stories of the rabbis under the tutelage of Rabbi Shim’on. They like the apostles of Jesus wander and teach others, in that journey, as they are having this mystical conversation on the nature of reality and remembering their experiences and what they learn, they often encounter people and beings that have more awareness of certain principles that govern the universe and human behavior than they do. This knowledge also enters into their canon.
“The world as first created was a true Garden of Eden because the blessed Holy One and the Sheckinah were fact to face, joined in constant embrace like that of the upper sefirot Hokhmah and Binah. Divine blessing thus coursed through the system without interruption…”
At this point in time the Jewish people didn’t believe in making visual artistic depictions of men or animals because they feared it would lead to idolatry, but here I can trace the rhetorical tautologies and movement of ideas in this fashion.
According to the Dalai Lama, Samantabhadra is the highest form of Buddha. I think he meant this because this form of the Buddha represents God as the Creator in his male and female aspect, if you ponder you realize that in order to create you have to include feminine and masculine. It might interest you to know that Heinrich Zimmer whose work was published and edited posthumously by Joseph Campbell had determined in his investigations that Buddhism was an offshoot of Hinduism as the Buddhas came from India and Nepal.
Here the author makes mention of the myth of Plato which I will expound on for those of you who are not aware of it, and he connects it with the early Jewish myth, which is not only interesting in its implications it is also appropriate in light of my theories.
The Symposium Quotes
“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.”
“…and when one of them meets the other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy and one will not be out of the other’s sight, as I may say, even for a moment…”
When he said this he was using the word Philia, or Brotherly love, or fraternal love, making a reference to a philosophical family, notice the word philosophy has the words philia and sophia in it. The single soul would be Sophia, or Psyche, or Torah. This also has to do with the Philosophy of Greek Astrology if that is interesting, you can read this piece that I wrote. https://thoughtuncommon.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/philosophy-of-astrology/
late 14c. (harmofroditus
), from Latin hermaphroditus
, from Greek Hermaphroditos
), son of Hermes and Aphrodite
, who, in Ovid, was loved by the nymph Salmacis so ardently that she prayed for complete union with him and as a result they were united bodily, combining male and female characteristics
. Also used figuratively in Middle English of “one who improperly occupies two offices.” As a name for the condition, Middle English had hermofrodito
(late 14c.), hermofrodisia
(early 15c.). As an adjective, from c.1600. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=hermaphrodite
“Adam and eve according to the aggadah, were siamese twins, conjoined back to back. This single being is that described in Genesis 1:27: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” …in the following chapter is the separation of this pair, in which they are first turned to face-to-face to one another, … They had to be “sawed apart” so they might be properly united.”
If we wanted to get really esoteric I could trace this idea all the way back to India for you. Do you double dog dare me?
I entered in piece and left in piece so I will leave it to the rest of you to figure out who burns the plants, who drops dead, and who goes insane.