א שׁוּבִי שׁוּבִי הַשּׁוּלַמִּית שׁוּבִי שׁוּבִי וְנֶחֱזֶה בָּךְ מַה תֶּחֱזוּ בַּשּׁוּלַמִּית כִּמְחֹלַת הַמַּחֲנָיִם.
1 Return, return, O perfect one,
Return, return and you we shall see.
What will you see in the perfect one?
Two camps dancing in harmony.
ב מַה יָּפוּ פְעָמַיִךְ בַּנְּעָלִים בַּת נָדִיב חַמּוּקֵי יְרֵכַיִךְ כְּמוֹ חֲלָאִים מַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵי אָמָּן.
2 How beautiful are your steps of ascent,
O daughter of the munificent,
Your rounded thighs are like an ornament,
The work of expert accomplishment.
ג שָׁרְרֵךְ אַגַּן הַסַּהַר אַל יֶחְסַר הַמָּזֶג בִּטְנֵךְ עֲרֵמַת חִטִּים סוּגָה בַּשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים.
3 Your core is cupped like a crescent moon,
May she not lose her fullness,
Your belly is like wheat in a mound,
With roses all around.
ד שְׁנֵי שָׁדַיִךְ כִּשְׁנֵי עֳפָרִים תָּאֳמֵי צְבִיָּה.
4 The Two Tablets of Your Law
Like two baby fawns,
Twins of a hart
[You cannot tell apart].
ה צַוָּארֵךְ כְּמִגְדַּל הַשֵּׁן עֵינַיִךְ בְּרֵכוֹת בְּחֶשְׁבּוֹן עַל שַׁעַר בַּת רַבִּים אַפֵּךְ כְּמִגְדַּל הַלְּבָנוֹן צוֹפֶה פְּנֵי דַמָּשֶׂק.
5 Your neck is like a tower of ivory,
Your eyes are pools of computation;
A gateway for the congregation.
Like a tower of Lebanon is your face,
Gazing out over Damascus
ו רֹאשֵׁךְ עָלַיִךְ כַּכַּרְמֶל וְדַלַּת רֹאשֵׁךְ כָּאַרְגָּמָן מֶלֶךְ אָסוּר בָּרְהָטִים.
6 Your beginning is like kernels fresh and full;
And they are drawn from there like royal purple;
Like a king bound with ropes is the soul.
ז מַה יָּפִית וּמַה נָּעַמְתְּ אַהֲבָה בַּתַּעֲנוּגִים
7 How lovely and how pleasant
Is love with soul-delight.
ח זֹאת קוֹמָתֵךְ דָּמְתָה לְתָמָר וְשָׁדַיִךְ לְאַשְׁכֹּלוֹת.
8 Your stature is like a date-palm
And your breasts are like clusters of dates
ט אָמַרְתִּי אֶעֱלֶה בְתָמָר אֹחֲזָה בְּסַנְסִנָּיו וְיִהְיוּ נָא שָׁדַיִךְ כְּאֶשְׁכְּלוֹת הַגֶּפֶן
וְרֵיחַ אַפֵּךְ כַּתַּפּוּחִים.
9 I said: up the palm-tree I will climb,
I will grasp its petioles.
May your breasts be like clusters of the vine,
And the fragrance of Your presence like apples.
י וְחִכֵּךְ כְּיֵין הַטּוֹב הוֹלֵךְ לְדוֹדִי לְמֵישָׁרִים דּוֹבֵב שִׂפְתֵי יְשֵׁנִים.
10 Like fine wine is Your palate,
Going to my Beloved direct
Whispering on the lips of those asleep.
יא אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְעָלַי תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ.
I am for my Beloved,
And His desire is for me
יב לְכָה דוֹדִי נֵצֵא הַשָּׂדֶה נָלִינָה בַּכְּפָרִים.
Let us go then, my beloved,
To the fields we will go down,
Then we will lodge in the towns.
יג נַשְׁכִּימָה לַכְּרָמִים נִרְאֶה אִם פָּרְחָה הַגֶּפֶן פִּתַּח הַסְּמָדַר הֵנֵצוּ הָרִמּוֹנִים שָׁם אֶתֵּן אֶת דֹּדַי לָךְ.
Let us go early to the vineyards,
Let us see if the vines have budded, whether the buds have opened,
If the pomegranates have blossomed.
There I will give you those devoted to Me.
יד הַדּוּדָאִים נָתְנוּ רֵיחַ וְעַל פְּתָחֵינוּ כָּל מְגָדִים חֲדָשִׁים גַּם יְשָׁנִים דּוֹדִי צָפַנְתִּי לָךְ.
The beloved ones gave forth their perfume,
At our openings are all the delights,
Old and also new,
That my Beloved has hidden for you.
7:1 שׁוּבִי שׁוּבִי הַשּׁוּלַמִּית, שׁוּבִי שׁוּבִי וְנֶחֱזֶה בָּךְ – Return, return, O perfect one, return, return and you we shall see
“For the winter is past” (Shir haShirim 2:11) meaning to say the domination of the angelic guardians of other nations over Israel and “the rain is over and gone” (ibid.) – this is the domination of the erev rav over Israel. The erev rav (“mixed multitude”) was a group of Egyptian slaves from other nations who tagged along with the Israelites when they left Egypt, and who were insincere in their commitment to G‑d and Torah. At that time He will say to her to the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, “return, return, O perfect one.” Why ‘return, return’ twice? To refer to the two Temples, the first Beit HaMikdash (Temple), and the second Beit HaMikdash down below, since they are already built and waiting up above, ready to descend together as the Third Temple as soon as the redemption takes place, as Zohar III, 221a states explicitly. However, there is also an alternative view, that “return, return, O perfect one” refers to the two Temples, the first Beit HaMikdash and the second Beit HaMikdash up above which will descend into the Third Temple below which will be built by Mashiach, and there we will gaze upon you upon the Shechinah, which will be revealed in the Third Beit HaMikdash.
(Tikunei Zohar p.144a)
7:1 מַה תֶּחֱזוּ בַּשּׁוּלַמִּית כִּמְחֹלַת הַמַּחֲנָיִם – What will you see in the perfect one? Two camps dancing in harmony.
The Zohar does not comment here, but the Midrash (Shir HaShirim on the verse) interprets the word כִּמְחֹלַת as referring to dance – מָחוֹל, and הַמַּחֲנָיִם as camps, referring to the camps of the Israelites in the desert and to the Camp of the Shechinah where the Tabernacle stood and where the Ark – upon which the Shechinah was revealed – was kept. Alternatively, it refers to the camps of angels up above, as the Zohar explains on the verse Genesis 32:3: When he saw them [the angels], Jacob said, “This is a Godly camp.” So he named that place Machanayim [‘Camps’]. Similarly, when the Torah was given to the Israelites, the camp of ministering angels descended to take part in the festivities. Thus in the future, when the third Beit HaMikdash is in its place, the Jewish People will rejoice and dance together with the Shechinah and with the angels.
7:2 מַה יָּפוּ פְעָמַיִךְ בַּנְּעָלִים בַּת נָדִיב – How beautiful are your steps of ascent, O daughter of the munificent
In the first section we present below, the Tikunei Zohar is discussing elevating the Shechinah (i.e. malchut) to Ze’ir Anpin, so that their proper yichud (unification) can take place. This is achieved through prayer and also through the mindful performance of mitzvot (the commandments). When a person manages to achieve this, then the supernal chambers are opened for him or her and their prayers are received (and answered). In the following section, the Zohar adds that if someone manages to bring Ze’ir Anpin down to malchut, the Shechinah repays the person (so to speak) by coming out to greet them to accept their prayers.
Because of this effort to unite the Shechinah and Ze’ir Anpin, the verse (Genesis 24:15) states, that even before he Eliezer, the servant of Abraham finished speaking in prayer in the Ineffable Name of G-d about finding a wife for his master’s son, Isaac, Rivkah (Rebecca) came to the well with her jug upon her shoulder. In other Kabbalistic terms, Eliezer was attempting to elevate the Name A-d-o-n-ai to unite it with the Name Havaye (the Ineffable Name). And thus, even before he completed his prayer, the Shechinah as symbolized by Rivkah emerged and came up to him to accept his prayers. And for his sake the Shechinah first descended to the level of his ‘legs’ netzach, hod and yesod of Ze’ir Anpin, where the initial yichud takes place, as the verse (Psalms 85:14) states, “righteousness tzedek, another name for malchut will walk before i.e. approach him – Ze’ir Anpin – and set his footsteps on the way” prepare the yichud with malchut. This is all the yichud achieved by elevating malchut to Ze’ir Anpin.
Now when the Shechinah stands over Israel i.e. the Jewish People, who accepted the duty of uniting the Shechinah and Ze’ir Anpin, due to their sincere prayers and fulfillment of the mitzvot, they are the secret of the ‘legs’ upon which the Shechinah stands i.e. they accepted the yoke of Heaven as a duty, even though they did not yet have an emotional or intellectual appreciation thereof, just as the legs do not appreciate or understand the emotions of the heart or the thoughts in the mind, but merely do what they are told to do. Then the Holy One, blessed is He, praises them saying: “How beautiful are your steps of ascent” – literally “How beautiful are your feet in sandals” – i.e. they have become a support for the Shechinah.
Additionally, “How beautiful are your steps of ascent” when the Jewish People would ascend to Jerusalem for the three ‘foot-festivals’ Passover (celebrating the Exodus from Egypt), Shavuot (celebrating the day when we received the Torah) and Sukkot (Festival of Tabernacles, celebrating the Divine Protection we experienced in the Wilderness). We based our translation on this interpretation.
Additionally, “How beautiful are your steps of ascent” when the Jewish People stood at the foot of Mount Sinai to hear the Ten Commandments, and Moses ascended Mount Sinai (hence, “steps of ascent”) to receive the Torah. Regarding them the Jewish People, the verse (Zechariah 14:4) states “His feet will stand on that day on the Mount of Olives…” – referring to the advent of Mashiach (the Messiah) in the future as the ultimate reward for their steadfast observance of the mitzvot of the Torah.
(Tikunei Zohar p. 34a)
7:2 חַמּוּקֵי יְרֵכַיִךְ כְּמוֹ חֲלָאִים מַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵי אָמָּן – Your rounded thighs are like an ornament, the work of expert accomplishment
In this rather esoteric section, Rabbi Shimon (bar Yochai) is in the process of explaining the concept of ascent, this time through the seven heichalot (chambers) of the World of Beriah by means of yichudim (unifications) in prayer. The Arizal explains that these are the heichalot of Ze’ir Anpin of Beriah. The heichalot proceed in the following order, from bottom to top: 1) Livnat hasapir – corresponding to the sefirah of yesod; 2) Etzem hashamyim l‘tohar – to hod; 3) Nogah – to netzach; 4) Zechut – to gevurah; 5) Ahava – to chesed; 6) Ratzon – to tiferet; 7) Kodesh haKodashim – to chomah, binah and da’at. The soul is elevated through these seven heichalot by means of the praises we utter in our prayers in the section of weekday Shacahrit called Yotzer. Each heichal also has a different aspect of soul-light (‘ruach’) associated with it. Our verse focuses on the second heichal, called ‘Etzem hashamyim l‘tohar,’ corresponding to hod and the soul-light called ‘Zohar.’
Regarding the second heichal chamber – the heichal of hod of Beriah – the verse (Exodus 24:10) states וּכְעֶצֶם הַשָּׁמַיִם לָטֹהַר – u’k’etzem hashamyim l‘tohar – “Like the quintessence of the Heavens in purity.” Here is that level of ruach called Zohar, which always emits a white i.e. clear light that is not mixed with any other colors, unlike the ruach of other chambers. Since it is called etzem, meaning the quintessence, it never changes, unlike the first chamber, where the ruach changes from white to red and back. But this ruach is not revealed sufficiently to shine forth like the light of other levels. Furthermore, this level is as difficult to reveal as the hidden light of the eye. According to Talmudic optics the eye not only receives light, but actually produces light in one sense or another. It is ‘hidden’ because one cannot see this light in a dark room, for example. On the other hand, one cannot see without this light even in broad daylight, as for example with someone who is blind. But when the eye rolls around in its socket, then its inner light shines out. Similarly, the ruach in this chamber will only become revealed through ‘rolling around’ i.e. intermingling with the ruach of the first chamber. This is because when the ruach of the first chamber is elevated by the person’s prayers, to join with the level of ruach in the next level above, this causes the higher level to shine as well, and they bind together like the white of the eyes is bound to the pupil. Thus there are two levels in the ruach called Zohar – a higher level which is very refined and normally remains concealed, and a lower level of Zohar which is somewhat more revealed and becomes suffused with the light of livnat hasapir. This lower aspect of Zohar is lit up by the light of livnat hasapir. And this light of livnat hasapir continues to circulate and illuminate until the higher light of the Zohar also becomes revealed, but this only happens after the lower level of light of the Zohar becomes bound to it. Nevertheless, the light in the second chamber, even the lower level of Zohar, remains unchanging and it retains its state of purity, even though it becomes revealed by way of the circulation of the light of livnat hasapir. Now when this light the lower level of light of etzem hashamyim circulates, it pulls along another light from the left side and they then circulate together. The secret of this is in our verse “Your rounded thighs are like an ornament, the work of expert accomplishment.” ‘Thighs’ here is in the plural to allude to these two levels of ruach in this chamber of hod, from the right and from the left, alluding to the ruach of the sefirah netzach (the right leg) that becomes included in hod, the left leg, just like the ornaments, one of which is silver (netzach, from the side of chesed) and one of which is gold (hod, from the side of gevurah). This is also indicated by the word shamyim, which alludes to two qualities – aish (fire=gold) and mayim (water=silver). And these ornaments are the work of expert accomplishment – the craftsmanship of binah, since binah extends all the way to hod. Fortunate are those who know how to reveal these illuminations by elevating the level of ruach from the first chamber to the second, so that the lights of the second chamber can become revealed.
(Zohar I, p. 42a, Heichalot; Ramak; GRA)
7:3 שָׁרְרֵךְ אַגַּן הַסַּהַר – Your very core is cupped like a crescent moon
“Your very core” literally ‘your navel’ refers to Zion, the Beit HaMikdash (the Temple) which is the ‘navel’ the original core of the world, the point from which the entire world spread forth in all four directions, East, West, North and South. The central point of the Beit HaMikdash itself was the even shetiya – the stone that Jacob set up as a marker for the place where God told him that “the ground upon which you are lying I will give to you and your descendants… Jacob awoke and said, ‘Surely God is in this place, and I did not know.’ He became filled with awe and he said, ‘This is none other than the abode of God and this is the gate of Heaven.’ Jacob arose early in the morning and took the stone… and set it up as a pillar… and he vowed…: ‘This stone… shall become a house of God’” (Genesis 28:13 ff.). According to the Sages, this even shetiya existed prior to Creation, and from it all of Creation emerged, and it was around this stone that the Beit HaMikdash was built. It is therefore compared to a navel, the cup-like remainder of the umbilical cord from which the entire fetus grew in the womb. Furthermore, it is regarded as the very core of creation not only in a physical sense, but also in terms of purpose – the purpose of Creation is to establish the world as a place for the revelation of Godliness. Correspondingly, when Adam was created, his head was to the east, his body to the west, his arms to the south and his legs to the north, and the sign of the covenant in the center, similar to the navel. Since the creation of Adam, i.e. the human prototype, is compared to the very foundation of Creation and the purpose for which it was created, we can transpose that to man too – he was created in order to ensure that the entire world would recognize God and behave appropriately and worship their Creator, as Adam said to all the living creatures, “Come, let us prostrate ourselves and bow, let us kneel before God our Creator” (Psalms 95:6).
The sign of the covenant, i.e. where a male is circumcised, therefore corresponds to the Ark of the Covenant (containing the Tablets of the Ten Commandments and the Torah that Moses wrote), which was placed atop the even shetiya. The sign of the covenant is ‘similar to the navel’ in the sense that it is central, but the navel, like the even shetiya is the place where things merely began, whereas the sign of the covenant, and later the Ark of the Covenant represent much higher levels. Accordingly, the sign of the covenant and the Ark of the Covenant are the higher parallels.
Furthermore, we can say that ‘cupped like a crescent moon’ is indicative of the birth of the sliver of the new moon that looks like the Hebrew letter כ and is also the dot in the first letter of the Torah the letter בּ of בּראשית – “In the beginning”. Perhaps the intention here is to illustrate the two stages mentioned above regarding yesod and the sign of the covenant in regard to malchut as well. The Creation begins as a mere point in the letter bet of the word בּראשית – “In the beginning”, and then becomes a bayit – house, as the Zohar explains elsewhere at length i.e. the world becoming a House of God, as mentioned. This is also illustrated by the letter כ where a point of light becomes the crescent of the new moon, and eventually became the full moon – i.e. the fullness of malchut – when King Solomon built the Temple in that place that Jacob had dedicated. The letter כ may allude to keter, the crown, which expresses the ultimate elevation of malchut. Indeed, the crown of keter always represents malchut, royalty.
(Tikunei Zohar p. 36b)
7:3 אַל יֶחְסַר הַמָּזֶג – May she not lose her fullness
The Zohar does not comment explicitly on this, but it is understood from the previous explanations that this refers to the moon and to malchut which stood in their fullness when King Solomon built the Temple, as mentioned above. This is also the way the Ramak explains it.
7:3 בִּטְנֵךְ עֲרֵמַת חִטִּים סוּגָה בַּשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים – Your belly is like wheat in a mound, with roses all around
The fourth heichal chamber – the heichal of gevurah of Beriah – is different from all the others in that it comprises four sub-chambers, although altogether they form only one heichal. Perhaps this alludes to the parallel four sub-chambers in the Southern Courtyard of the Temple below (the Ezrat Nashim), which were the Lishkat Ha-Etz (Chamber of Wood); Lishkat Ha‑Gulah (Chamber of the Well) Lishkat Ha-Gazit (Chamber of Hewn Stone), which was used to house the Sanhedrin (the rabbinical Supreme Court), Lishkat Cohen Gadol (Chamber of the High Priest). Here is that level of ruach called Zechut merit, for this is where they search for the world’s merits, and this ruach Zechut includes all the others below it.
From it emerge seventy luminaries these are the seventy members of the Sanhedrin housed in the Lishkat Ha-Gazit, as mentioned above, and they sat in judgment on all the issues affected this world. All of them gave off sparks i.e. smaller local rabbinical courts relied upon their rulings, and they all sat in a semi-circle so each judge could see the others. (This is also the way some commentaries explain the ‘cupped like a crescent moon’ phrase above – as referring to the members of the Sanhedrin who sat in a semi-circle). This is unlike those other luminaries that spread their light outward. Instead these lights cleave to one another, and illuminate one another and unite one with the other, just like the members of the Sanhedrin who faced each other, argued with each other for the sake of the truth, thus illuminating each other, and made a final ruling based on a consensus, which united them. All the merits in the world came before these luminaries the seventy members of the Sanhedrin, and so did the shortcomings of the world come before them, but the Zohar does not wish to mention this here. From all of these seventy luminaries, two lights emerge that weighed equally they were of equal importance, and these two included all the others. They remained before them constantly. This refers to the Nassi (the president or prince) of the Sanhedrin (e.g. Rabbi Yehudah haNassi) and to the Av Beit Din (lit. ‘father of the court,’ i.e. chief of the court). The latter two sat facing the other 69 members who were seated in a semicircle around them, as mentioned above. The Nasi and the Av Beit Din correspond to Moses and Aaron (see Numbers 11:16-17). The Av Beit Din was one of the seventy elders, but the Nasi was the 71st and could act as the tie-breaker, so to speak, in a split decision.
Corresponding to these seventy members of the Sanhedrin were seventy guardian angels of the world’s nations, but they stood outside, surrounding the four chambers from the outside, whereas the seventy luminaries and the two extraordinary luminaries who sat before them, were within, on the inside. The Lishkat Ha-Gazit where they sat actually opened up into the inner courtyard of the Temple, although they did not sit there, since this privilege was only granted to the descendants of King David. This is the secret of the verse “Your belly is like wheat in a mound” with the Nasi and Av Beit Din at the top center, surrounded by the other members of the Sanhedrin, with roses all around surrounded by the guardian angels of the nations which surrounded the Temple on the outside.
(Zohar I, p. 43b, Heichalot)
7:4 שְׁנֵי שָׁדַיִךְ כִּשְׁנֵי עֳפָרִים תָּאֳמֵי צְבִיָּה – The Two Tablets of Your Law, like two baby fawns, twins of a hart
The Zohar interprets the literal translation, “Your two breasts are like two fawns twins of a hart” as these are the two Tablets of stone into which the Ten Commandments, the basis of the Torah were carved.
(Tikunei Zohar p. 14a)
Alternatively, the verse (Shir HaShirim 2:6) states, “His left hand is under my head, and his right arm embraces me…” refers to the Written and the Oral Torah: From His right hand, the Written Torah, and from His left hand the Oral Torah. How were they given to us? As the two Tablets, regarding which it states, ““Your two breasts are like two fawns twins of a hart.”
(Tikunei Zohar p. 146a)
7:5 צַוָּארֵךְ כְּמִגְדַּל הַשֵּׁן – Your neck is like a tower of ivory
“Your neck is like a tower of ivory” – this refers to Jerusalem, which is also called ‘the Tower of David’ regarding which it states (Shir HaShirim 4:4), “Like the Tower of David is your neck,” referring to the Jerusalem above, as we note in our commentary there. Her jewelry is the Priests Kohanim, Levites and Israelites who serve or worship in the Beit HaMikdash (the Temple).
Alternatively, “Your neck” is the Torah since it connects the ‘Head’ – the blessed Holy One – with the ‘body’ the Jewish People. Her adornments are the 248 Commandments, while the threading and the beads are the 365 prohibitions that protect her – the Torah.
(Tikunei Zohar p. 145b)
7:5 עֵינַיִךְ בְּרֵכוֹת בְּחֶשְׁבּוֹן עַל שַׁעַר בַּת רַבִּים – Your eyes are pools of calculation, a gateway for the congregation
The Zohar is in the middle of a discussion of the verse (Ecclesiastes 7:27): “See this is what I have found,” said Kohelet, “You add one thing to another to make a calculation (cheshbon).” Commentaries (Ibn Ezra, Metzudot) explain: One cannot come to a well-thought out calculation or conclusion without weighing one thing against another – its opposite. The Zohar then goes on to discuss another verse that uses the same word ‘cheshbon’ (calculation or conclusion) (Ecclesiastes 9:10): “There is no doing nor calculation (cheshbon), nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave…” and explains that numbers are identified with the sefirah of malchut. This is why all the mathematical calculations of the Jewish calendar, which depends on calculating the lunar year and the solar year, and reconciling them – a very complex procedure – also a function of malchut?
Rabbi Abba and Rabbi Yose were sitting in the house of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair after his passing. Rabbi Yose said to Rabbi Abba: The verse (Ecclesiastes 7:27): states, “You add one thing to another to make a calculation (cheshbon).” Now we know that calculations (cheshbon) and numbers (gematriot) are associated with the moon i.e. malchut, but where do they all begin? Although they are expressed in malchut, is that where they all begin? Perhaps this is also asking if the reconciliation of the two cycles is also in malchut. Rabbi Abba didn’t answer at first, and then he said: I heard about this from my teachers, but I don’t remember it. Then that spirit – the soul of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair that was clothed in that spirit – arose and smacked Rabbi Abba on his eyes to remind him that malchut is built from chochmah, which the eyes symbolize. He started to fall forward face down in shock, but before he reached the ground a verse fell into his mouth: It is written in our verse: “Your eyes are pools of calculation, a gateway for the congregation” – these eyes of hers of malchut are branches that extend down from chochmah of Atzilut above. Because of the mitzvah (positive Commandment) to calculate the seasons and the leap-years the ‘eyes’ (chochmah) of malchut of Atzilut become suffused with the outflow of supernal wisdom from chochmah of Atzilut, and become overflowing pools that nourish the lower worlds of Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiyah. From her right the sefirah of chesed of malchut the efflux flows in all directions according to the needs of the recipients, until it achieves the calculations of the leap-months of the moon above and below in our world, as well as the positions of the stars and the constellations which were necessary for guiding travel etc. so that one can make a precise calculation thereby. And this is the meaning of “a gateway for the congregation” – this is the moon below upon which the congregation depends in order to know when to celebrate the festivals etc. because it is then that the blessed Holy One comes to ‘visit’ with them, as the Zohar explains at length elsewhere.
(Zohar III, p. 220b)
7:5 אַפֵּךְ כְּמִגְדַּל הַלְּבָנוֹן צוֹפֶה פְּנֵי דַמָּשֶׂק – Like a tower of Lebanon is your face, gazing out over Damascus
The Zohar does not comment on this part of the verse. However the Midrash comments that this refers to the Temple which is called ‘Levanon’ (Lebanon) because it cleanses (melaben) the sins of Israel, as in the verse (Isaiah 1:18), “Even if your sins are as red as scarlet they will become white as snow.” Other commentaries explain the meaning of ‘Levanon’ as the idea of clarifying the law – libun hilcheta – as the Zohar itself discusses elsewhere.
7:6 רֹאשֵׁךְ עָלַיִךְ כַּכַּרְמֶל וְדַלַּת רֹאשֵׁךְ כָּאַרְגָּמָן מֶלֶךְ אָסוּר בָּרְהָטִים – Your beginning is like kernels fresh and full, and they are drawn from there like royal purple; like a king bound with ropes is the soul.
Rabbi Yehuda asked: “What is the meaning of this our verse in the Song of Songs?” Then he explained that the verse alludes to the soul, for seven things were created before the world was created – the Torah, Repentance, the Garden of Eden, Purgatory, the Throne of Glory, the Beit HaMikdash (the Holy Temple) and the name of the Messiah…. The Throne of Glory, i.e. the sovereignty of the Almighty as the verse (Psalms 93:2) states, “Your Throne is established from before i.e. before the world was created; You are eternal.” And it is also written (Jeremiah 17:12), “like the Throne of Glory, exalted from the outset” implying that is was the first of all of them all the seven elements created prior to the world. And the Holy One, blessed is He, took the pure soul from the Throne of Glory to illuminate the body, as our verse states “Your beginning is like kernels fresh and full” for it the Throne of Glory was the first thing of all. Some explanation is in order: There are two aspects to the ‘likeness of man’ spoken about in the first chapter of Ezekiel. The higher aspect is called Adam haElyon (Supernal Adam), and refers to the Divine revelation that is described by Ezekiel as “upon the likeness of the Throne was the appearance of the likeness of a man upon it, from above” (Ezekiel 1:26). Then there is the root of the soul below, called Adam haTachton, since it was created in the likeness of Adam haElyon. Therefore the soul too was fresh and full, having just been created in the image of the Divine revelation upon the throne of Glory.  Accordingly, and they descend from there like royal purple – this refers to the neshama the soul that is hewn from there from the Throne of Glory and is placed in the body, like a king bound with ropes – this is the body which is trapped in the grave and disintegrates into the dirt, leaving behind nothing more than a jug of putrid compost from which the body will be rebuilt in the future, at the time of Techiyat haMeitim (the Resurrection of the Dead), when the blessed Holy One will grant special providence to the body i.e. He will return the eternal soul to the body, thus enlivening it, just as a man’s seed fertilizes and enlivens an ovum. Elsewhere the Zohar explains the relevance of ארגמן (argaman – translated here as ‘royal purple’) in our context: In Hebrew the word ארגמ”ן can be interpreted as the initial letters of the following angels – Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel, Michael and Nuriel that bear the Merkava aloft (the Divine Chariot, so to speak). During the time of exile the Shechinah (Divine Presence) is only clothed within four angels, and in a lower world (the World of Yetzirah). But after the Temple was built the Merkavah was born aloft by five angels (and in a higher world – Beriah). This is why our verse uses two contradictory terms – דַלַּת (dalat) from the word dal meaning ‘down-trodden and poor’ and אַרְגָּמָן ‘royal purple,’ suggesting majesty and even opulence. The first term דַלַּת is during the time of
exile, while the term אַרְגָּמָן (argaman) refers to the era when the Temple stood.
(Zohar I, p. 113a, Midrash Ne’elam)
Alternatively, the Tikunei Zohar analyzes the very first word of the Torah, בראשית (Bereishit – “In the beginning”) and finds that it bears 70 different permutations, or Tikunim (rectifications), each of which is explained in that work. The thirteenth Tikun of the word בראשי”תis the permutation that spells אשר”י ב”ת (ashrei bat) “happy is the daughter” – which is the soul. Ashrei is the happiness mentioned in the verse (Psalms 1:1) אשרי האיש – “Happy is the Man…” referring to the very loftiest levels, as in the verse (Exodus 3:14) אֶהְיֶה, אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה “I will be what I will be” i.e. the unknowable, eternal One, the beginning of all beginnings. Regarding this our verse states ‘Your beginning is like kernels fresh and full’ which alludes to the tefillin (phylacteries) placed on the head, which declare and emphasize the unity and omnipotence of G-d. ‘And they are drawn from there like royal purple’ which alludes to the tefillin (phylacteries) placed on the arm. With these the daughter the soul is praised with the words “happy is she,” and this is why the verse (Genesis 30:13) states, “Young girls will consider me happy” – referring to Leah’s statement after her handmaid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son whom she name “Asher,” meaning happiness.
(Tikunei Zohar p. 27b)
Alternatively, “Your beginning…” alludes to the verse (Psalms 119:160) ראשׁ דְּבָרְךָ אֱמֶת “Your very first utterance is truth…” “Drawn from there like royal purple” refers to the Shechinah; “king” refers to Abraham; “bound” refers to Isaac when he was bound at the Akeidah – the binding of Isaac, when Abraham was tested to see if he would be willing to give up even the life of his son out of devotion to the Almighty. Of course this was only a test and as soon as Abraham showed that he was willing the action was stopped, so that Isaac was only bound on the altar but was never offered up. (See Genesis ch. 22). This also alludes to binding the tefillin (phylacteries) on the left arm (since Isaac represents the left side, the side of gevurah). And בָּרְהָטִים – translated above as “[bound] with ropes” is now given a different meaning – ‘channels.’ “In the channels” alludes to Jacob and to the four channels of the tefillin that go on the head, since the verse (Genesis 30:38) states בָּרֳהָטִים בְּשִׁקֲתוֹת הַמָּיִם – “near the watering troughs [where the flocks came to drink].”
(Tikunei Zohar p. 144b)
7:7 מַה יָּפִית וּמַה נָּעַמְתְּ אַהֲבָה בַּתַּעֲנוּגִים – How lovely and how pleasant is love with soul-delight
Rabbi Levi said: When the neshama (the soul) is in its pristine state in the Garden of Eden it is nourished by the light from above from the radiance of the Shechinah (the divine Presence) in which it is clothed. And when it returns to the body in the future at the time of Techiyat haMeitim (the Resurrection of the Dead), it will enter into that very same garment of light. Then the body will shine like the radiance of the heavens, as the verse (Daniel 12:3) states, “The wise will shine like the radiance of the firmament…” and man will attain complete knowledge, as the verse (Isaiah 11:9) states, “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-d like the water covers the sea-bed.” Now how do we know this? From the verse (Isaiah 58:11) that states, “Then G-d will guide you always, and He will satiate your soul in times of drought” – this is by way of the light from above. “And He will strengthen your bones” – this is the special providence He will grant to the body at the time of Techiyat haMeitim (the Resurrection of the Dead). In other words, the soul with its great radiance will enter the body. “And you will be like a well-watered garden and like a spring whose waters never fail.” This is knowledge of the blessed Creator which will satiate the soul. Then people the creatures in the original will know that the soul that has entered into them is a living soul, the soul of supernal delight that received its delight from Above and this will constantly invigorate the body, so that everyone will be amazed and will declare, “How lovely and how pleasant is love with soul-delight.” This will be the soul’s activity in the future. Rabbi Yehuda said: Come and see that this is what the soul will do in the future – that it will constantly invigorate the body – as the previous verse states, “like a king bound with ropes is the soul” alluding to the body in the grave. This is then followed by our verse explaining “How lovely and how pleasant is love with soul-delight” when the body will become lovely and pleasant, instead of its former state as a putrid heap.
Rabbi Yehuda said further: at that time in the future the blessed Holy One will rejoice in His world and with His creatures, as the verse (Psalms 104:31) states “G‑d will rejoice in His works,” and then there will be joy throughout the world, which is not the case now, as the verse (Psalms 126:2) states: “Then our mouths will be filled with laughter…” i.e. then, in the future, but not now.
There are three types of love spoken about in the Torah, all mentioned in the verse (Deuteronomy 6:5) “You shall love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with everything you have.” The Zohar notes that these are three very distinct types of love, called ahavat olam, worldly love’ – love prompted by contemplating the wonders of the creation and the gift of life; ahavah rabba, ‘great love’ – love that is embedded within the soul as an inheritance from those great lovers of G-d, the Patriarchs; ahavah b’ta’anugim – ‘love with soul-delight’ is a love and devotion that transcends the person’s entire being. Kabbalistic works explain these as functions of malchut, ze’ir anpin and binah respectively. Chassidic works define ahavat olam as love that is aroused by the intellect, i.e. through contemplation of the G-dliness embedded in Creation. Ahavah rabba is love that that transcends intellect. Its source is in the Will and it is aroused by contemplating the G-dliness that transcends the worlds. Ahavah b’ta’anugim – ‘love with soul-delight’ is the delight a person experiences closeness to G-d in the inner recesses of his or her soul and that delight manifests itself throughout the person’s being.
(Zohar I, p. 114a, Midrash Ne’elam)
7:8 זֹאת קוֹמָתֵךְ דָּמְתָה לְתָמָר – Your stature is like a date-palm
Rabbi Yehuda began: “Your stature is like a date-palm…” How beloved is Knesset Yisrael the Israelite community before the blessed Holy One because they do not detach themselves from Him. This is just like the date-palm, where the male and female components are never apart, and you never find one without the other. The date-palm is dioecious, i.e. having separate male and female plants. Natural pollination requires both plants to grow in close proximity. Furthermore, the fruits are diploid, meaning that they have two sets of chromosomes, one set from each parent (male and female). In the same way Knesset Yisrael is never apart from the blessed Holy One, which is the mystical secret of the unity of ze’ir anpin and malchut. Now although ze’ir anpin and malchut can be found apart from each other, especially during the time of exile, nevertheless, the spiritual structure of malchut is embedded within ze’ir anpin, and likewise ze’ir anpin within malchut – even when they are separated.
(Zohar II, p. 126a)
The following teaching was shared with Rabbi Shimon’s circle by the soul of the Prophet Eliyahu (Elijah) who comes back to earth on occasion to teach the secrets of the Torah.
Eliyahu (Elijah) began his discourse. He prayed: Master of the Universe! May it be Your will that I speak clearly and truthfully, as is proper. May they all – all the secrets I reveal – properly measure and weigh i.e. describe the stature of the Shechinah. He began: What is the meaning of ‘like a date-palm’? Why is the stature of the Shechinah compared specifically to a date-palm? However, this is not the comparison that is meant here. Instead, our verse compares the Shechinah to the one about whom the verse (Psalms 92:13) states, “The righteous Tsaddik will flourish like a palm-tree” when it is in the following state, described in the Torah (Leviticus 23:40) as kapot temarim – also called a lulav – the tightly-bound spear-like palm-leaves at the very top of the tree before they unfold into palm fronds. This is one of the four species mentioned in that verse that is used during the Festival of Succot (Tabernacles). Technically, the Tsaddik and the lulav are both the sefirah of yesod, which communes with malchut by eliciting the power of da’at above to consummate the yichud (communion). ‘Your stature’ the stature of the Shechinah is certainly comparable to the lulav where there is no interruption or separation since the palm-spear is still tightly-bound. In other words, no room is given to impure external forces to cause any separation or interruption between yesod and malchut. Thus is was not for naught that the Sages of the Mishnah taught that if leaves of the lulav have begun to split apart or were torn away from the spine of the lulav then the lulav is invalid for fulfilling the commandment, because this indicates that it is not in a unified (tightly bound) state.
(Tikunei Zohar p. 134b)
7:8 וְשָׁדַיִךְ לְאַשְׁכֹּלוֹת – Your breasts are like clusters of dates
The Zohar does not explain this section of the verse explicitly, but perhaps it relies on the explanations of verse above (4:5) “Your two breasts are like two deer…” where the Zohar (Tikunei Zohar 14a) explained: These are the two Tablets of the Torah upon which the Ten Commandments are written. They are compared to breasts because just like a mother’s breasts are vital to the infant’s nurture, allowing it to grow and flourish, so too, the Tablets were vital for the spiritual growth and flourishing of the Israelites. An alternative explanation (Tikunei Zohar, 146a) compares the breasts to the Written Torah… and the Oral Torah, regarding which the verse there states, “Your two breasts are like two deer, the twins of a gazelle…
7:9 אָמַרְתִּי אֶעֱלֶה בְתָמָר – I said: up the palm-tree I will climb
The Zohar is in the middle of a discussion about the mitzvah (commandment) of taking the four species – the etrog (citron), lulav (palm-branch), hadassim (myrtle branches), aravot (willow branches) during the Festival of Succot (Tabernacles). Each one of these four corresponds to a part of the body: the etrog (citron) corresponds to the heart; the lulav (palm-branch) corresponds to the spine; the three myrtle branches correspond to the body and the two arms and regarding the parallel between the limbs of the body and the sefirot – these are tiferet, chesed and gevurah respectively. The leaves of the myrtle branches correspond to the eyes and the eye-lids and are the representation of the sefirot in the head: tiferet (the eyes), chesed and gevurah the eye-lids of the right and left eyes. All of these are used in the mindful meditation on this mitzvah to ascend “the Tree” (the Tree of Life). Therefore the word אֶעֱלֶה – “I will climb (or ascend)” comprises the initial letters of each of these four species in the following order: א’ אתרוג; ע’ ערבות; ל’ לולב; ה’ הדסים – etrog (citron), aravot (willow branches), lulav (palm-branch), hadassim (myrtle branches). All four of them serve as the four species aspects of the Merkava Divine ‘Chariot’ i.e. vehicle for the revelation of Godliness, upon which He God in His Ineffable Name Havaye rides.
(Tikunei Zohar p. 29b)
7:9 אֹחֲזָה בְּסַנְסִנָּיו – I will grasp its petioles
Petioles are the leaf stems that attach the leaves to the palm-trunk. With time the petioles dry out and break off to form the rough surface of the palm-tree trunk, as we explained in an earlier footnote.
The Zohar does not comment on this part of the verse, but the Arizal explains that the word אֹוחֲזָה (in the plene form, i.e. with a vav) has the numerical value (gematria) of 27 – corresponding to the 27 letters of the Hebrew alphabet (including the 5 end letters מנצפ”ך). He adds that the word סַנְסִנָּיו is actually a Holy Name from which copious light emerges when contemplated properly. All of this suggests that one who knows the secrets can ascend the Tree using the letters in specific permutations and by focusing on Holy Names.
7:9 וְיִהְיוּ נָא שָׁדַיִךְ כְּאֶשְׁכְּלוֹת הַגֶּפֶן – May your breasts be like clusters of the vine
The Zohar does not comment on this part of the verse.
7:9 וְרֵיחַ אַפֵּךְ כַּתַּפּוּחִים – And the fragrance of your presence is like apples
The word אַפֵּךְ can be rendered in a number of ways: it can mean ‘anger’ as in חֲרוֹן אַף (Numbers 25:4; 32:14; Isaiah 13:9; 48:12 etc.); it can mean ‘your nose’; it can mean ‘your face or countenance’ as in וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ אַפַּיִם (Genesis 19:1; 42:6; I Samuel 24:8 etc.); and it can mean ‘your presence’ as in (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7) לֹא יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל פָּנָי – “You shall not acknowledge the gods of others in My presence.”
In the context of the offerings brought onto the Altar the verse (Numbers 28:2) states: “My offerings, a food-offering consumed by fire, a pleasing aroma to Me…” Rabbi Yudai explained: Every fire-offering produces smoke, an aroma and that which is pleasing to God. Each of these words (or phrases) alludes to a different type of person. ‘Smoke’ alludes to those who arouse Divine ire, as the verse (Deuteronomy 29:19) states: “God’s smoking anger will be aroused…” – these are the ones who ‘benefit’ from the smoke. People who are critical and judgmental take as perverse enjoyment in arousing Divine anger against others, for smoke causes anger in the nostrils it arouses the Divine power that is represented by smoking anger which is symbolized (even in modern memes) by smoke coming out of the nostrils. An aroma alludes to those who are called ‘apples.’ This alludes to the pleasing aroma of the offerings rising to the ‘Holy Apple Orchard,’ i.e. the Garden of Eden. Rabbi Abba said: Accordingly the verse does not say they are apples, but rather they are like apples, for the ‘Holy Apple Orchard’ obviously has no actual apples, as our verse states, “And the fragrance of Your presence in the Garden of Eden is like apples.”
(Zohar III, p. 242a)
7:10 וְחִכֵּךְ כְּיֵין הַטּוֹב הוֹלֵךְ לְדוֹדִי לְמֵישָׁרִים – Like fine wine is Your palate, going to my Beloved direct
‘Palate’ is used here metaphorically, signifying that this is the wine of Torah, which is good in ways that will be explained shortly. Therefore ‘palate’ refers to an elevated level above, which the Ramak identifies as chochmah (Divine wisdom). There are several levels of Torah understanding, compared to various types of food that are necessary to sustain human life and make it enjoyable. Torah is sometimes compared to bread and sometimes to water. These two refer to revealed aspects of Torah, the guidelines for daily life, just like bread and water which are necessary to sustain life. The Torah is also compared to wine and is called ‘the wine of Torah’, meaning the secrets of the Torah, just as wine is hidden in the grapes and must be squeezed out (also see above 1:2; 5:16). This level of Torah is reserved for holy endeavors, just as wine is reserved for sanctification and to give enjoyment, as the verse (Psalms 104:15) states: “And wine gladdens the heart of man…” Note that the gematria of the word for “wine” and the word for “secret” are identical. Other types of wine are not good – other types of chochmah (wisdom) purport to bring a person closer to the Almighty, or to reveal mystical secrets, but merely make a person drunk or foolish, whereas the wine of Torah – the secrets of the Torah, expounded in Kabbalah – is good for everyone, and it is good in this world and good in the World to Come. This is the ‘wine’ that pleases the blessed Holy One the most. With the merit of satiating oneself with this wine of Torah, a person will arise in the World to Come, since he will merit eternal life when the blessed Holy One awakens the saintly Tsaddikim – this is the meaning of “going to my Beloved direct,” as will be further explained below.
(Zohar III, p. 39a)
7:10 דּוֹבֵב שִׂפְתֵי יְשֵׁנִים – Whispering on the lips of those asleep
Continuing the above theme, Rabbi Yehuda said: “Whispering on the lips of those asleep” – we learned that even in that world after death they will merit to study Torah. This is the meaning of the verse: “Whispering on the lips of those asleep.” Because they learned the secrets of the Torah, which is called the Tree of Life, even in death their lips will review the secrets of the Torah they learned in this world.
7:10 וְחִכֵּךְ כְּיֵין הַטּוֹב הוֹלֵךְ לְדוֹדִי לְמֵישָׁרִים – Like fine wine is Your palate, going to My beloved in fairness
Note the changes in translation of the verse from the way we translated it above (‘My’ is now capitalized and ‘beloved’ is not; ‘in fairness’ instead of direct). It will soon become clear why this was necessary.
A young lad transporting honey on a donkey joined Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yitzchak who were traveling from Meron to Tzippori. When he heard the above teaching that young lad remarked: If the verse would have said “…is from fine wine” that they will merit whispering words of Torah even in death, then I could say that which you said. But it says instead: “…is like fine wine,” not “from fine wine.” They Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yitzchak mulled over what the young boy had said, and realized that he must know something they didn’t know. Rabbi Yehuda said to the boy: Speak up, you make a good point!
The boy spoke: I heard that someone who makes an effort in Torah study, and he embraces it, those words of Torah should be heard audibly from his mouth, not whispered. If he raises his voice when he learns i.e. he learns out loud, then the Torah will raise his voice, as the verse (Proverbs 1:21) states, “It cries out at the head of noisy throngs,” singing the song of Torah out loud, and not in a whisper. And this is how it is like good wine, because good wine is not silent as it ferments – it bubbles in a lively way – and in the future it will raise its voice. Accordingly, the verse should be understood thus: Your palate – by expressing the words of Torah out loud – is like fine wine. Then, when it leaves this world, “to my Beloved it will go direct” – straight to the Garden of Eden, without deviating to the right or to the left. Instead it ascends directly via the breath that uttered the words of Torah out loud, and nothing will prevent it from ascending. The Ramak explains that when a person learns Torah out loud, his breath creates a ‘ladder’ reaching up to the heavens upon which his soul ascends every night when he sleeps (like the ladder in Jacob’s dream), and also when he falls into the deep sleep of death. The same breath with which he uttered words of Torah will also protect the ascent of the soul – “nothing will prevent it.” And this is the meaning of “going to my Beloved direct” – it orients the soul directly towards her Beloved without deviating right or left and without any obstacles in the way.
But another way of explaining the verse is this: Alternatively, the verse “Like fine wine is Your palate” refers not to Divine wisdom, as in the explanation above, but to Knesset Yisrael the Community of Israel above i.e. malchut and/or the Shechinah, and it is uttered in praise of her. If so, who then is praising her in this manner? If it is the blessed Holy One praising her, what is the meaning of the next section of the verse, “to my Beloved direct?” It should state, “to Me direct!” However, it is certainly the blessed Holy One praising Knesset Yisrael, just as she praises Him, saying (Song of Songs 5:16): “His palate is sweet, and He is all delight,” so too He praises her, saying “Like fine wine is your palate.” ‘Fine wine’ is the wine that is guarded in the grape – i.e. gevurot (severities) that have been rectified and sweetened – and this wine goes to My beloved, to Isaac the paradigm of sweetened gevurot in the Torah who is called ‘beloved’ from the womb, as the verses (Genesis 27:25, 27) state: “…and he [Jacob] brought him [Isaac] wine and he drank… and he [Isaac] blessed him [Jacob].” For when gevurot have been sweetened, they elicit great love and affection (from binah primarily, the sweetened origin of the gevurot).
And this is the meaning of fairness in this latter context, as you say (in Psalms 99:4) “You founded fairness” (meisharim), which indicates the inclusion of the left within the right – this is fairness since it applies the law in a fair way, not in a harsh way. And because of the joy aroused by the good wine when the left is merged into the right, everyone all the supernal clusters of sefirot called the partzufim rejoices, so that all the worlds are in a state of joy due to the unification (yichud) of these two opposite elements and the sweetening of the gevurot, and so they are all aroused to pour out blessings below upon those who brought about the yichud and the sweetening.
Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yitzchak came and kissed the lad on his head and beamed in delight over him. They asked him his name and he replied “Yeisa.” They responded, “Rabbi Yaisa will be your name from now on…”
(Zohar III, p. 39a-b)
7:11 אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְעָלַי תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ – I am for my Beloved, and His desire is for me
Come and see the meaning of the verse “I am for my Beloved, and His desire is for me” – first, “I am for my Beloved” we are the ones who needs to initiate the relationship by devoting ourselves to the One above. Only then, “and His desire is for me” – only after I have initiated the relationship is there a response from above. Practically speaking, what does it mean that we have to initiate the relationship? “I am for my Beloved” by first arranging a space for Him so to speak. Ideally, this was the Tabernacle, regarding which the verse (Exodus 25:8) states, first, “Make for me a Temple” and only then “and His desire is for me” in other words, “and [then] I will dwell among them.”
Alternatively, the Shechinah declares “I am for my beloved” the righteous Tsaddikim, upon whom the Shechinah rests. For we learned that the Shechinah does not rest upon the wicked. But when a person comes to purify himself and become closer to the blessed Holy One, then the Shechinah rests upon him, as the verse states first, “I am for my Beloved,” by striving to purify myself and bring myself closer to Him, and only then “and His desire is for me” as the Sages state (Talmud Shabbat 104a) “One who comes to purify himself is purified.” And similarly, “Open up for Me [even as tiny an opening as] the eye of a needle, and I will open up for you like wide-open barn doors.”
(Zohar I, p. 88b)
An alternative explanation, the polar opposite of the above, is also offered: “I am for my Beloved, and His desire is for me” – what brings about my total devotion to my Beloved? Because, “His desire is for me,” and we the Jewish People respond to His initial overtures, as the verse (Hosea 11:1) states: “Since Israel was a lad I loved him, and since Egypt I have been calling out to My son.”
These two points of view highlight contrasting approaches to one’s Divine service, both of which are valid, and each of which is appropriate for different times and circumstances. One approach is to wait for the arousal from above. This is appropriate at a time of spiritual immaturity, as for example, when the Israelites were in Egypt and were extracted from there and given the Torah in miraculous ways (as in the verse from Hosea quoted above). The other approach is to seek out the Divine Presence by constructing the appropriate space for Him, such as building the Temple, as explained above.
(Zohar III, p. 132b)
The following is a short extract from the beginning of a long discourse – Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai’s last before he passed away – in a very deep and esoteric section called the Idra Zuta.
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi) began his discourse citing our verse: “I am for my Beloved, and His desire is for me” – throughout my life in this world i.e. as a soul within a body I was bound to the blessed Holy One with a single bond. Commentaries explain that not only does this mean that Rabbi Shimon was always in a state of deveikut [i.e. filled with G-d-consciousness so that he communed with G-d at all times], it also means that each and every day he achieved a deeper and more lofty level of deveikut than the previous day. And therefore now, just before his passing, “His desire is for me.” And the proof thereof is that He and all of His holy entourage of souls from the Heavenly Academy (these are the souls of Tsaddikim) have come to listen with joy to the mysteries that Rabbi Shimon was about to reveal, after which he would ascend with them to the Heavenly Academy. The remainder of the discourse is unfortunately beyond the scope of this commentary due to its esoteric nature and depth.
(Zohar III, p. 288b)
7:12 לְכָה דוֹדִי נֵצֵא הַשָּׂדֶה נָלִינָה בַּכְּפָרִים – Let me go then my Beloved, to the fields we will go down, then we will lodge in the towns
There are two very cryptic comments on this verse in the Zohar – one in the Midrash Ne’elam and the other in the Hashmatot (Addenda). The latter is a comment on the Sefer Habahir and seems to be missing some words. Neither of the comments seem to shed much light on the meaning of this verse.
The Arizal, however, comments as follows: The word לְכָה (‘let me go’) is the same letters as כָּלָה kallah (a bride) because every Sabbath eve malchut becomes a kallah – a bride to her groom ze’ir anpin – i.e. there is a yichud, an integration and unification of these sefirot (paralleling the conjugal coupling – called zivug – of a bride and groom on the wedding night, and a husband and wife on Sabbath night). At that time she is in the field – the Garden of Eden – and men of spiritual stature (i.e. those capable of performing this yichud) should go out to the field to greet the bride bring her in to their home. During the time of zivug on Sabbath night, an additional radiance descends and illuminates the level of soul called neshama. On the eve of the Sabbath (with sundown) one receives an extra radiance in nefesh (the lowest level of soul), as the verse (Exodus 31:17) states שָׁבַת וַיִּנָּפַשׁ. Translated literally the verse means: “On the seventh day He [G-d] rested and was refreshed.” But the Arizal delves much deeper into the meaning of the verse – that on the eve of the Sabbath וַיִּנָּפַשׁ – vayinafash – an extra aspect of nefesh is granted to those who are preparing for the Sabbath. Later, in the evening prayers, a higher level of soul – ruach – is drawn down. Later yet, at the time of zivug, and even higher level – neshama – is drawn down. Through zivug this neshama will be born. Accordingly the initial letters of the verse לְכָה דוֹדִי נֵצֵא הַשָּׂדֶה spell out the word נלד”ה – she (the neshama) will be born. And the end letters spell out the Divine Name אהי”ה, since it is from there that the neshama is born. Furthermore, the initials of the next two words of the verseנָלִינָה בַּכְּפָרִים spell out the word ב”ן ben (a son). In other words, through their zivug a child is born to them.
7:13 נַשְׁכִּימָה לַכְּרָמִים נִרְאֶה אִם פָּרְחָה הַגֶּפֶן פִּתַּח הַסְּמָדַר הֵנֵצוּ הָרִמּוֹנִים – Let us go early to the vineyards; let us see if the vines have budded, whether the buds have opened, if the pomegranates have blossomed.
This section of the Tikunei Zohar records a long discussion between Rabbi Shimon (Rashbi) and the souls of several Sages who came down from the Garden of Eden to reveal mysteries of the Torah to Rabbi Shimon and his colleagues. The current discussion regards the final redemption and how it will be different from the previous ones.
The Shechinah is talking here: During each of the previous exiles He Godliness as revealed in the partzuf of ze’ir anpin left me malchut / the Shechinah and I would enquire inquire of every passerby the Tsaddikim who make an effort to reunite ze’ir anpin and malchut or the Shechinah in a lasting yichud as the verse (Song of Songs 3:4) states, “I had just moved on from them when I found the One whom my soul loves” and the yichud endured for some time. However, the time came after the destruction of the Second Temple that I could not find anyone, not even a single Tsaddik, who could tell me anything about Him. The damage caused by the destruction was so great that even Tsaddikim were confused thereby and lost their power of Prophecy and Divine Inspiration. I would make the inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem – alluding to Tsaddikim – swear an oath, as the verse (Song of Songs 5:8) states, “I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem: If you find my Beloved, you should tell Him I am sick with love.” And at other times “Upon my bed at night ‘night’ alludes to the exile I sought the One whom my soul loves; Him I sought but I did not find” as the verse (Song of Songs 3:1) states, but no one could tell me where I could find Him i.e. there was no one who could arouse the yichud from below, until He came of His own accord to be with me – on the Sabbath and the Festival days.
That was all as regards previous exiles. But now, in the last exile, my Beloved has withdrawn Himself in anger, for this final exile has dragged on for centuries (since the destruction of the Second Temple) and we have no idea when it will end. And so I ask for His sake “If you find my Beloved you should tell Him I am sick with love.” But no one could tell me anything i.e. no one could arouse the yichud from below, as we explained. And for this reason I swore an oath that the next time my Beloved appears, with the final redemption, I will grasp Him by the arm so that He cannot leave, as the verse (Song of Songs 3:4) states, “I will grasp Him and not let Him leave” ever again. ‘I will grasp Him by the arm’ refers to the tefillin phylacteries of the arm, corresponding to malchut ‘and not let Him leave’ refers to the tefillin phylacteries of the head corresponding to ze’ir anpin. The implication is that the ordinary man, not only the Tsaddikim, will bring about this yichud (unification) through fulfilling the mitzvot.
Come and see: when her Beloved comes to her, He will say to the two Messiahs the first is the descendant of Joseph, and he will prosecute the war against the forces of evil (and may be killed in the process), and the second the descendant of David – “let us go early to the vineyards” let us bring the redemption earlier, rather than let it take is natural course and perhaps take place only later. ‘The vineyards’ refers to the Israelites, regarding whom the verse (Isaiah 5:7) states, “The vineyard of the Lord, Master of Legions, is the House of Israel” who have kept God’s covenant during the Exile, and have not caused the vineyard to become corrupted. “Let us see if the vines have budded” – this is the Shechinah among them. Let us see if the Shechinah has thrived and grown due to their good deeds. “If the pomegranates have blossomed” – these are the ordinary folk who are as full of mitzvot (the practical commandments) as a pomegranate is full of seeds. And this applies even to those who are referred to as sinners – even they are as full of mitzvot as a pomegranate is full of seeds.
(Tikunei Zohar, p. 144a. GRA, Kisei Melech, Matok Mid’vash)
7:13 שָׁם אֶתֵּן אֶת דֹּדַי לָךְ –There I will give you those devoted to Me
Here the blessed holy One is replying to the Shechinah: There, at the moment of the redemption, ‘I will give you those devoted to Me’ referring to those saintly Tsaddikim who serve Me out of love (not merely out of fear or out of a sense of duty). When the complete redemption arrives, ‘I will give you those saintly Tsaddikim as your chaperone to lead you (the Shechinah) under the wedding canopy (the chuppah) and there the Bride and Groom will marry, so to speak.
(Tikunei Zohar p.144a)
Alternatively, in a discussion of the various heichalot (chambers) above, the Zohar describes and explains the Chamber of Love (Heichal haAhavah), which is under the supervision of a number of angels appointed to specific tasks. This spirit or angel closes the doors of the chamber, withholding the flow from those below, or opens the doors of the chamber, allowing those below to access the flow of love from above. All of the supernal keys are given into his hand so that he can distribute this goodness to those who love God. Three times a day at the three times of daily prayer, all of the lower forces spirits and angels are integrated into him and they come under his auspices, and via him they are sustained. And all the secrets of his Master exist there and he is in charge of distributing them to those who love God. All the outflow of goodness is also in his hands. This spirit is named Ahava love, and for this reason the chamber is called the Chamber of Love. And it is here that the mystical of all the secrets is kept, as the verse states, “There I will give you those devoted to Me” – in other words, from there I will divulge these secrets of the Torah to those devoted to Me.
(Zohar II, p. 253a, Heichalot d’Kedusha)
7:14 הַדּוּדָאִים נָתְנוּ רֵיחַ – The beloved ones gave forth their perfume
Rabbi Yitzchak began: “The beloved ones gave forth their perfume…” Our Rabbis taught that in the future the blessed Holy One will bring the dead back to life, and shake the dust off them. This latter phrase ‘shake the dust off them’ means that they will not be built out of dust any longer – something which does not endure – as they were when they were originally created, as the verse (Genesis 2:7) states, “And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the earth.” But at that time at the time of the Resurrection of the Dead they will be cleansed of that building material our physicality as we know it and we will be established as a structure that will endure, as the verse (Isaiah 52:2) states, “Shake the dust from yourself; arise and seat yourself O Jerusalem.” Their existence will come alive, and they will rise up from the earth to receive their souls in the Land of Israel. At that time the blessed Holy One will pour all types of perfumes from the Garden of Eden upon them, as our verse states, הַדּוּדָאִים נָתְנוּ רֵיחַ – The beloved ones gave forth their perfume. Rabbi Yitzchak said: Don’t read it as הַדּוּדָאִים literally, ‘the mandrakes’ but as הַדּוֹדִים – ‘the beloved ones.’ This refers to the body and the soul together, for they will be beloved friends to each other, instead of arch enemies, where the soul struggles to control the bodily appetites in the service of God.
(Zohar I, p. 134b, Midrash Ne’elam)
Alternatively, this could be interpreted literally, as “the mandrakes gave their perfume.” The Torah relates that one day Reuven (Jacob’s firstborn) went out into the fields and found some mandrakes (traditionally regarded as a cure for infertility or as an aphrodisiac). He brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel asked her sister Leah to sell her the mandrakes (duda’im) for Rachel letting Jacob lie with Leah that night instead of with her (Rachel). It was these – the exchange of the mandrakes – that led to Leah conceiving that night and bringing Yissachar into the world. When he grew up, Yissachar became the paradigm of a Torah scholar, and because of the scent of Torah that rose before the blessed Holy One from Yissachar’s diligent study, the verse states, “the mandrakes gave their perfume.”
(Zohar I, p. 156b)
7:14 וְעַל פְּתָחֵינוּ כָּל מְגָדִים חֲדָשִׁים גַּם יְשָׁנִים דּוֹדִי צָפַנְתִּי לָךְ – At our openings are all the delights, new and also old, that my Beloved has hidden for you
Following the first interpretation of the verse above that this refers to the Resurrection of the Dead, Rabbi Yehuda said: These are the bodies that stand at the opening of their grave to receive their souls. Presumably these would be the bodies of those buried in Israel, since only they will receive their souls immediately, whereas those buried in the Diaspora will have to wait until they are brought (miraculously) to Israel.
(Zohar I, p. 134b, Midrash Ne’elam)
Alternatively, as mentioned earlier, the Tribe of Yissachar produced numerous Torah scholars. They were the ones who brought about the blessing that all delights would be “At our openings” – on our doorsteps. How so? By ensuring that “at our openings” – within the doors of our Synagogues and Houses of Study there will always be delights – delightful insights into and explanations of Torah to satisfy the soul.
“New and also old” – new insights and also the ancient wisdom of Torah was revealed by them that would bring Israel the Jewish People closer to their Father in Heaven, as the verse (I Chronicles 12:33) states, “Men with understanding of the times to know what Israel should do…”
“That my Beloved has hidden for you” – from here we learn that anyone who makes the proper effort in Torah study, and knows how to explain it, and who knows how to derive new insights – these matters rise to the Throne of the King and the doors are opened for Knesset Yisrael and they their words of Torah are stored away there until the time of yichud. When the blessed Holy One enters the Garden of Eden to delight in the souls of the saintly Tsaddikim there, then those words of Torah are brought before Him by the Shechinah, and he examines them and delights in them. Then He is crowned with supernal crowns of Torah, and He delights in the Shechinah, which is the mystery of yichud, as the verse states, “New and also old” – new insights and also the ancient wisdom of Torah, which My beloved the Shechinah has hidden away for her Beloved until the appropriate time.
(Zohar I, p. 243a)
 This last bracketed line “You cannot tell apart” is merely poetic license taken here for the sake of rhyme, although it does make sense in the context of the Zohar’s explanation of this verse.
 Most translate this as “your head is like Mount Carmel.” However, note that the verse does not stateהר הכרמל which is the way it is written in Tanach when referring to the Mountain, but simply כַּכַּרְמֶל. We therefore translate it according to Tractate Menachot 66b and Rashi’s explanation of Leviticus 2:14 and the verse he cites there from II Kings 4:42: וְכַרְמֶל בְּצִקְלוֹנוֹ
 Most translate this as ‘branches’ but this is incorrect, since the palm-tree technically does not grow branches, only leaves. The petiole is the leaf stem that attaches the leaf to the trunk. With time the petioles dry out and break off to form the rough surface of the palm-tree trunk.
 Note that this is usually translated as “the mandrakes gave forth their perfume.” Our translation follows the Zohar’s interpretation of this verse. See below.
 Note that I changed the order of new and old for rhyming purposes.
 See Succah 41a, Rashi and Tosafot; also Bereishit Rabba 2:5; 56:10. Yalkut Shimoni, Devarim 33:956.
 See Yerushalmi Megillah 1:11; Vayikra Rabba 9:6. This is also the ruling of Rambam, Hilchot Melachim ch. 11.
 See also Talmud Taanit 31a regarding the dance the Holy One, blessed is He, will initiate for the righteous in the future – אמר רבי אלעזר עתיד הקדוש ברוך הוא לעשות מחול לצדיקים
 See Bamidbar Rabba 2:4.
 See Talmud Pesachim 68a; Zevachim 116b etc.
 Zohar III, 55b, 226b.
 Shir HaShirim Rabba 4:4(1); Bamidbar Rabba 2:3.
 See Likutei Torah, Shmini Atzeret 86c.
 See Be’er Lechai Ro’i.
 Be’er Lechai Ro’i and other commentaries.
 Sha’ar HaKavanot 18b.
 See Zohar II, 147a.
 See Talmud Yoma 54b, and at length Zohar I, p. 72a ff. et al.
 See Tanya chap. 36.
 See commentaries to Psalms 95:6; Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer 31:14; Tanchuma Tavo 1:1; Bereishit Rabba 56:2.
 See Pardes Rimonim 23:1 (s.v. אגן); 31:8.
 See Zohar I, p. 230b; Zohar III, 36a; Tikunei Zohar 8a, 18b, 21a, etc.
 See Zohar I, p. 150a; 223a; 243a, etc.
 See Esther 1:11; Patach Eliyahu, Intro to Tikunei Zohar כתר עליון איהו כתר מלכות, ועליה אתמר מגיד מראשית אחרית
 Pardes Rimonim 23:1 s.v. אגן
 See Middot 5:4 according to Abba Shaul and Melechet Shlomo (that Lishkat Ha-Etz was not Lishkat Ha-Kohen Gadol). Alternatively, these may have been Lishkat Ha-Etzim; Lishkat HaMetzora’im (to which Lishkat HaGazit was connected; Lishkat Ha-Shemanim (or Ha-Parvah); Lishkat Ha-Nezirim in the Second Temple.
 Talmud Sanhedrin 36b.
 In the Temple era this was a descendant of King David.
 According to the Zohar (Zohar III, 275b), the High Priest (the Kohen Gadol) was the official Av Beit Din.
 See Yoma 25a, Rashi; Rambam, Beit HaBechira 7:6; Rashi Yoma 69b ד”ה אלא
 Ramak, GRA.
 See also Rashi on the verse.
 Commentaries explain that the soul of a Tsaddik does not completely leave the place where he studied and taught Torah. It remains there to aid and instruct those who come there seeking Torah’s wisdom.
 See the explanations of the word פארות in Ezekiel 17:6.
 So that Passover will always be in the spring (see Exodus 12:2 ff); Talmud Rosh Hashanah 20a.
 See Zohar III, p. 93b, 95a, 105a, 114b etc.
 Shir Hashirim Rabba 7:11
 Likutei Torah Ha’azinu, 72d.
 Zohar III, 248b.
 As explained in Tractate Pesachim 54a.
 See Tractate Shabbat 152b. The Talmud there states explicitly that this refers to the souls of the righteous:ר’ אליעזר אומר נשמתן של צדיקים גנוזות תחת כסא הכבוד . Other texts explain that this is the Godly soul (as opposed to the animal soul). See Ma’amarei HaTezemach Tzedek 5615, p. 270; Tanya chap. 2.
 See Rabbi Menachem Azarya diFano in his Asarah Ma’amarot מאמר אם כח חי 2:33; Shelah 3a, 20b where they cites the verse (Isaiah 14:14) אֶדַּמֶּה לְעֶלְיוֹן –“I am like [in the image of] the Most High.”
 Even the world was created in its fullness. See Bereishit Rabba 14:7: עוֹפֶר עוֹלָם עַל מְלֵיאָתוֹ נִבְרָא and how much more so the soul of man that preceded it.
 Matok Midvash.
 See the continuation of this section on p. 113b where the Zohar compares the body to Sarah who was barren until “God granted special providence to Sarah, and… Sarah became pregnant (Genesis 21:1-2)
 Tikunei Zohar 144b.
 This could also be translated as “the head of all heads” but that doesn’t fit in well with the explanation here.
 (דברים ו,ה) וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת ה’ אֱלֹקֶיךָ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ וּבְכָל מְאֹדֶךָ
 Zohar II, p. 162b.
 Me’orei Ohr 1:37.
 Tanya ch. 43; Torah Ohr 47a.
 See Sefer Ha’Arachim Chabad vol. 1 p. 563 ff.
 See Pardes Rimonim chap. 22 s.v. תמר
 Cf. Bereishit Rabba 1:4 נשמות ישראל עלו במחשבה and the fact that we are all endowed with a Godly soul. (See Tanya chap. 2). See also Devarim Rabba 4:4 אמר הקב”ה לאדם נרי בידך ונרך בידי
See also the verse in Numbers 11:21 שש מאות אלף רגלי העם אשר אנכי בקרבו
 Tractate Succah 3:1. The Talmud in that tractate 29b explains at length.
 This is according to Tosafot’s commentary there ד”ה נפרצו
 On the verse regarding the manna (Numbers 11:8):וְהָיָה טַעְמוֹ כְּטַעַם לְשַׁד הַשָּׁמֶן the Sifri on the verse states: מה הדד [=שַׁד] הזה לתינוק עיקר והכל טפילה לו…
 Sha’ar HaYichudim ch. 10; Sha’ar Ruach HaKodesh p. 42b (in the Yosef Da’at version).
 Each letter in the Hebrew alphabet is assigned a numerical value (gematria): Aleph = 1, bet – 2 and so on. When the gematria of two words is identical, this is indicative of a hidden affinity between them.
 In the derivative form of פנים
 Pardes, Sha’ar 23 s.v. חיך
 See Proverbs 9:5 לְכוּ לַחֲמוּ בְלַחֲמִי – “Come and partake of My bread” and Alshich; Talmud Berachot 57a.
 Talmud Ta’anit 7a: “נמשלו דברי תורה למיםף; Talmud Bava Kama 17a.
 See Imrei Binah, Sh’ar HaK’riat Shema p. 52c ff.; Likutei Torah Korach 54d etc.
 See Shir Hashirim Rabba 1:2 (3); Shelah
 See Bamidbar Rabbah 14:4. Cf. also Rashi in his second comment on Song of Songs 1:2. See also Taanit 7a.
. As explained above (fn. 58), when the gematria of two words is identical, this is indicative of a hidden affinity between them. Wine (yayin) is spelt yud = 10, yud = 10, nun = 50. Total = 70. The esoteric dimension of Torah, sod, is spelled samech = 60, vav = 6, dalet = 4. Total = 70. See Eruvin 65a; Zohar II, Shemini 39a.
 Cf. Genesis 9:20; Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-30; Zohar I, 70a; Talmud Chagiga 14b, 15b; Talmud Yerushalmi Chagiga 2:11.
 See Tikunei Zohar, tikun 51 p. 85; Pardes 25:6; Rabbi Chaim Vital’s Intro to Eitz Chaim, where he states this explicitly in more than one place. E.g.כי עון אדה”ר בעץ הדעת טוב ורע הוא שלא בחר להתעסק בעץ החיים שהיא חכמת הקבלה and חכמת האמת (=הקבלה) הנקרא עץ החיים
 In the literal sense of wine. Soon we will see that ‘bubbling’ represents joyfulness.
 See Mikdash Melech.
 שמות כה, ח: וְעָשׂוּ לִי מִקְדָּשׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּי בְּתוֹכָם
 Note that the Sages of the Talmud (Shabbat 104a) put it slightly differently: “One who comes to purify himself is given assistance.”
 See Shir HaShirim Rabba 5:2(2).
 Matok MiDevash.
 Sefer Habahir is an early Kabbalistic work attributed to the 1st-century Rabbinic Sage Nechunya ben HaKanah and preceded the Zohar by some decades.
 As in the verse (Genesis 27:27) “Like the scent of a field…” which the Midrash says is Gan Eden (see Bereishit Rabba 65; Maharzu); Ma’amarim Melukat I p. 270.
 Sefer HaLikutim, Zot HaBeracha 7.
 According to a different version – the final exile before the redemption.
 See Echah Rabba Intro, para. 7.
 Talmud Succah, 52a. There is a disagreement there between the Sages whether Mashiach ben Yosef will be killed in that war or not. The Zohar itself implies that it is not necessarily the case that he will be killed. See Zohar III, Raya Mehemna 279a. Note that Miamonides (end of Hilchot Melachim) does not mention Mashiach ben Yosef at all.
 See Talmud Eruvin, 19a.
 Note that above in the translation of just the verses, I reversed the order of new and old for rhyming purposes. But this is the correct order.