"New-ancient words" and new-ancient worlds.A review of The Zohar: Translation and Commentary, 2 volumes. By Daniel C. Matt. Pritzker edition. Vol. 1, pp. lxxxi + 500. Vol. 2, pp. ix + 460. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Stanford University, at Stanford, Calif.; coeducational; chartered 1885, opened 1891 as Leland Stanford Junior Univ. (still the legal name). The original campus was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. David Starr Jordan was its first president. Press, 2004. Cloth, $45.00 each.
A Guide to the Zohar. By Arthur Green Arthur Green is a prominent scholar of Jewish spirituality and Jewish thought, as well as an innovative leader of rabbinic institutions.
Raised in the Conservative movement, Green studied with Nahum Glatzer and Alexander Altmann at Brandeis University, where he received his . Pp. xiv + 191. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2004. Cloth, $35.00. Paper, $14.95.
Qatpira, qesira, qirta, quspita, qustra--and those are just the 'q's. These strange words, neologisms actually, are sprinkled throughout the Zohar with an intention to perplex the reader, forcing her to read, and read again, to decipher the text's meaning. In undertaking to translate Sefer ha-Zohar--more an anthology of mystical writings than a book proper--Daniel Matt has assumed a heroic task, one that has met with well-deserved accolades. Matt has the necessary poetic and scholarly talents, using traditional and modern commentaries to render the Zohar into an English that reveres the text's mysteries while aiming to clarify them and render them transparent. Over the centuries, Sefer ha-Zohar Sefer ha-zohar
(Hebrew; “Book of Splendour”)
Classical text central to Kabbala that has influenced all mystical movements within Judaism. Many Kabbalists invest it with a sanctity normally accorded only to the Torah and the Talmud. , the Book of Splendor, has assumed many statuses: canonical, sacred, forgery, and heresy. Whatever its ultimate origins, origins that remain in dispute in both scholarly and traditional circles more than 700 years after Moshe de Leon began to circulate pamphlets of a mystical text, the book has had a transformative effect upon Judaism. (1) Mainstreaming Kabbalah kabbalah or cabala (both: kăb`ələ) [Heb.,=reception], esoteric system of interpretation of the Scriptures based upon a tradition claimed to have been handed down orally from Abraham. , by adopting the form of a mystical midrash and the structure of a Bible commentary, its circle(s) of authors fashioned a text that opened up a genre that had been exclusively elitist e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism
1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources. until the thirteenth century. Kabbalah's popularity, even celebrity, has exploded in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries with the hucksterism and mass marketing of Jewish mysticism by the Kabbalah Center, and the fame of some of its Hollywood luminaries, including Madonna, Demi Moore, Britney Spears, and others.
In stark contrast, though part of the same cultural wave of interest in things spiritual, Stanford University Press began in 2004 to make available to the English-speaking world the finest translation of the Zohar into the English language English language, member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages). Spoken by about 470 million people throughout the world, English is the official language of about 45 nations. . In addition to scholarly studies, Daniel Matt, a scholar of Jewish mysticism, had published a number of works designed to make Kabbalah more accessible. Some of these latter works, served as forshpeis for the comprehensive translation now emerging from his workshop. In this review essay, I intend to evaluate this noteworthy project--Matt's translation as well as the companion volume, A Guide to the Zohar by Arthur Green--and to raise the broader question of the possibility of translating a book such as the Zohar.
Before proceeding to my analysis, some introductory words regarding the history and nature of the Zohar are needed. In the early 1280s, Rabbi Moshe de Leon, a prolific author of kabbalistic kab·ba·lis·tic or ca·ba·lis·tic or qa·ba·lis·tic
Of or relating to the Kabbalah.
kab works began to disseminate pamphlets of an esoteric work to friends. Proclaiming them to be selections from a book authored by the enigmatic second-century Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai, the pamphlets aroused immediate attention and began to show an influence on the kabbalistic works of other contemporary kabbalists. These pamphlets continued to pour forth until de Leon's death in 1305, and within a couple of decades, a huge corpus of material began to be assembled under the rubric RUBRIC, civil law. The title or inscription of any law or statute, because the copyists formerly drew and painted the title of laws and statutes rubro colore, in red letters. Ayl. Pand. B. 1, t. 8; Diet. do Juris. h.t. of Sefer ha-Zohar. A variety of authorship theories swirled around but, whatever controversy lingered, the "book" was of such spectacular quality, innovation, and seeming authority, that it quickly took on an aura of prestige making it almost unassailable for centuries as the key text of Kabbalah study, lore, and myth. The root doctrines within the Zohar were not themselves innovative: a theosophy theosophy (thēŏs`əfē) [Gr.,=divine wisdom], philosophical system having affinities with mysticism and claiming insight into the nature of God and the world through direct knowledge, philosophical speculation, or some physical process. entailing ten sefirot-gradations within the divinity; theurgic the·ur·gy
n. pl. the·ur·gies
1. Divine or supernatural intervention in human affairs.
2. The performance of miracles with supernatural assistance.
3. effects of normative ritual--the ability of rituals to have unitive u·ni·tive
Serving to unite; tending to promote unity. and restorative effects upon the Godhead; devequt--the aim of the mystical initiate to attain mystical union with individual sefirot; attaining visions of the divinity; angelification, even apotheosis apotheosis (əpŏth'ēō`sĭs), the act of raising a person who has died to the rank of a god. Historically, it was most important during the later Roman Empire. , of the mystical adept through devequt, mystical cleaving to God. It was the literary quality of the book, outshining all other previous kabbalistic texts that drew attention to its inventiveness over the course of well over a thousand pages, as perhaps the text's most striking feature. (2) Through close readings and interweavings of the Bible, Talmud, and Midrash, as well as of historical, medical, halakhic, and scientific allusions, the text elicits the "deeper," "mystical" layer that "waits" to be uncovered. What emerges is a cascade of midrashic interpretations that reinforce the theosophical the·os·o·phy
n. pl. the·os·o·phies
1. Religious philosophy or speculation about the nature of the soul based on mystical insight into the nature of God.
2. system of sefirot, and images, stories, and interpretations that aimed to fashion a psycho-spiritual style of ritual practice and of contemplative engagement with the Torah. The talent of the authorship is such that its writers seduce the biblical text into yielding its treasured and esoteric meanings.
Indeed, it is this potent application of the erotics of reading that is most important to the zoharic project. Eroticism Eroticism
novel of Alexandrian manners by Pierre Louys. [Fr. Lit.: Benét, 783]
Ovid’s treatise on lovemaking. [Rom. Lit. and its consort are not only features of the Zohar's literary style, but prominent in its narrative framework, as well. One of the Zohar's most frequently cited texts depicts the Torah's lover, a knight of love pursuing a mysterious princess who abides in a tower, beyond view to all except for her most ardent courters. (3) As a reward for the lover's persistence, she slowly allows him greater glimpses of her beauty, eventually inviting him to her innermost chambers for the most intimate knowledge of all. The parable is explained as a paradigm for Torah study that will divulge its secrets: through perseverance, even ardor ar·dor
1. Fiery intensity of feeling. See Synonyms at passion.
2. Strong enthusiasm or devotion; zeal: "The dazzling conquest of Mexico gave a new impulse to the ardor of discovery" , the Torah can be induced into revealing her inner truths. Indeed, the reader is encouraged to participate in the mystical and interpretive practices and experiences depicted in the Zohar. (4)
The last point that deserves attention prior to the analysis of the translation is the question of the Zohar's language. Gershom Scholem's remarks from sixty years ago remain apposite ap·po·site
Strikingly appropriate and relevant. See Synonyms at relevant.
[Latin appositus, past participle of app :
The Aramaic of the Zohar is a purely artificial affair, a literary language employed by a writer who obviously knew no other Aramaic than that of certain Jewish literary documents, and who fashioned his own style in accordance with finite subjective criteria. Throughout these writings, the spirit of medieval Hebrew, specifically the Hebrew of the thirteenth century, is transparent behind the Aramaic facade.... It is true that the style shows a great many variations; it runs all the way from serene beauty to labored tortuousness, from inflated rhetoric to the most paltry simplicity, and from excessive verbosity to laconic and enigmatic brevity,--all depending on the subject and the mood of the author. ... It remains to be added that the author's vocabulary is extremely limited, so that one never escapes a feeling of surprise at his ability to express so much with the aid of so little.... As in the case of every artificial language, a characteristic note is introduced by misunderstandings and grammatical misconstructions. Thus the author in many cases confuses the verb-stems of Kal with those of Pael and Aphel and vice versa. He employs entirely wrong forms of Ethpael, and gives a transitive meaning to verbs in Ethpael. He mixes up finite verb-forms, chiefly in the many cases where the endings of the participle are tacked on the perfect; and his use of prepositions and conjunctions is often quite preposterous. (5)
The first problem that Daniel Matt encountered in laying the groundwork for the project was simply determining the text. As noted already, the zoharic text grew through accretions over the centuries such that the printed text used most commonly today, based on the Vilna edition, which in turn is based on the Mantua Mantua (măn`chə, –tə), Ital. Mantova, city (1991 pop. 53,065), capital of Mantova prov. printing in 1558-1560, is hardly pristine. Moreover, Matt explains, he discerned signs within the manuscripts of an editorial process: "revision, reformulation, and emendation e·men·da·tion
1. The act of emending.
2. An alteration intended to improve: textual emendations made by the editor.
Noun 1. " (p. xvi), concluding that there was an earlier recension re·cen·sion
1. A critical revision of a text incorporating the most plausible elements found in varying sources.
2. A text so revised. which undergoes reworking. His intent, then, has been to provide a "newly constructed, precise text of the Zohar based on original manuscripts" (p. xv). Conceding that he is not restoring "the original text of the Zohar," he is trying "to remove ... accumulated layers of revision, thereby restoring a more original text ... to recover the Zohar's primal texture and cryptic flavor" (p. xviii). By original he means "in both senses: older and [more] creative" (p. xviii). As a further service, Stanford University Press has made available online the Aramaic text upon which the author bases his translation at www.sup.org/zohar. Given that the text that Matt is translating has never existed before, some might feel queasy QUEASY - An early system on the IBM 701.
[Listed in CACM 2(5):16 (May 1959)]. at his claim that this is closer to a "more original text" with some of its "primal texture and cryptic flavor" recovered (p. xviii). (6)
Declaring his aims regarding translation style, Matt says:
Though I wish to make the Zohar accessible, I also want to convey its strangeness, potency, and rich ambiguity.... My style of translation is literal yet poetic. I am convinced that a literal rendering of the Zohar is not only the most accurate but also the most colorful and zestful--the best way to transmit the lyrical energy of the Aramaic (pp. xix-xx).
At times, he notes, that the Zohar invites "creative expression" in translation. Thus, when Rabbi Shimon bar Yoh. ai, the central figure of the zoharic narrative and its putative author, describes the nighttime journey of the soul he says, "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII ASCII or American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a set of codes used to represent letters, numbers, a few symbols, and control characters. Originally designed for teletype operations, it has found wide application in computers. .]" (Zohar 1:83a), Matt translates it as "Flying, she encounters those hooded, hunchbacked, dazzling demons of defilement de·file 1
tr.v. de·filed, de·fil·ing, de·files
1. To make filthy or dirty; pollute: defile a river with sewage.
2. " (p. 30). He has rendered [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] as "hooded, hunchbacked, dazzling demons." (7) In the translator's introduction, he draws attention to this example, noting that previous translations have not been quite as colorful; the English translation of Tishby's Wisdom of the Zohar translates the phrase as "the deceiving lights of uncleanness," (8) the Hebrew version of Tishby's work translates the words into Hebrew: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] which Matt suggests means "vaulted splendors," and lastly, the Sperling-Simon translation offers "certain bright but unclean essences." (9) Echoing his notes to the text, Matt explains his derivations: "Qumrin derives via rabbinic rab·bin·i·cal also rab·bin·ic
Of, relating to, or characteristic of rabbis.
[From obsolete rabbin, rabbi, from French, from Old French rabain, probably from Aramaic usage from the Greek qamara, 'arched cover,' while tehirin is a cognate of the Aramaic tihara, meaning 'brightness, noon.' One class of demons is named tiharei, "noonday demons" (p. x). Forced by the strangeness of the original text Matt embarks adventurously; for the most part, however, while the translation itself is often dazzling, it rarely leaps into the unknown unless provoked. This particular instance of colorful translation is one to which Matt himself draws attention and is exemplary of Matt's creative expression. More will be said about this approach below.
In his After Babel Babel (bā`bəl) [Heb.,=confused], in the Bible, place where Noah's descendants (who spoke one language) tried to build a tower reaching up to heaven to make a name for themselves. : Aspects of Language and Translation, George Steiner delineates four stages of the enterprise of translation, "Initiative trust," "Aggression," "Incorporation," and "Compensation," this last stage being the "crux of the metier and morals of translation." (10) Recognizing that there is aggression and appropriation in the act of translating, he argues that a good translation will compensate the text for this assault. This "compensation" is not to be regarded as an improvement upon the text--that would be hubris Hubris
An arrogance due to excessive pride and an insolence toward others. A classic character flaw of a trader or investor. . Rather it is an attempt to be generous to the text and supply nuance, information, or acuity in the target language. While the second century sage R. Yehudah cautions, "One who translates a verse literally is a liar; one who adds to it is a blasphemer," compensation seeks fidelity and ironic awareness of its distance from the original. (11) Matt offers compensation through two main vehicles: first, through the scintillating scin·til·late
v. scin·til·lat·ed, scin·til·lat·ing, scin·til·lates
1. To throw off sparks; flash.
2. To sparkle or shine. See Synonyms at flash.
3. translation and second, in his notes.
1. LITERAL AND/OR POETIC TRANSLATING
Some examples will elucidate the ways in which the translator's artistry sidesteps a word-for-word translation in favor of an evocation of what the text might actually be saying. When the Zohar adapts the Alpha-Beta de-R. Akiva, which refers to the way in which qof and resh conspire con·spire
v. con·spired, con·spir·ing, con·spires
1. To plan together secretly to commit an illegal or wrongful act or accomplish a legal purpose through illegal action.
2. to implicate im·pli·cate
tr.v. im·pli·cat·ed, im·pli·cat·ing, im·pli·cates
1. To involve or connect intimately or incriminatingly: evidence that implicates others in the plot.
2. shin to construct [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (falsehood), the Zohar writes, "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]"; the Soncino (Sperling-Simon) offers "Kof and Resh draw thee into their midst" which is fairly precise. (12) Evocatively, Matt has "they entangle en·tan·gle
tr.v. en·tan·gled, en·tan·gling, en·tan·gles
1. To twist together or entwine into a confusing mass; snarl.
2. To complicate; confuse.
3. To involve in or as if in a tangle. the letter [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (shin)" (p. 1:12), thus offering an image that animates the original term with a semantically coherent precision. By using the word "entangle," Matt has used the context, a discussion of the formation of falsehood, to brighten the word "took" into something more vivid. This amplified volume and heightened shading convey the text's literal meaning even as the translation does not operate on a word-for-word basis.
Sometimes the choice of words Noun 1. choice of words - the manner in which something is expressed in words; "use concise military verbiage"- G.S.Patton
phraseology, wording, diction, phrasing, verbiage can affect not only the meaning of a line in a passage but even the entire focus; in one instance, translating a mundane term can transform the metaphysics of space into something more resonant for spiritual seekers. Thus, a common term in the Zohar, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], typically rendered as 'sides' in the English translation of Tishby, Matt translates as 'dimensions' in some instances, as 'sides' in others, sometimes as 'directions', and other times as 'aspects'. In one instance where Matt offers 'dimensions' David Goldstein, the English translator of the Tishby, offers 'extremities'. (13) The passage in Matt's version reads as follows
Rabbi Yudai said, 'What is [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (Be-reshit)?' With Wisdom (referring to the second of the ten sefirot). This is the Wisdom on which the world stands--through which one enters hidden, high mysteries. Here were engraved six vast, supernal dimensions (sitrin), from which everything emerges, from which issued six springs and streams, flowing into the immense ocean (p. 17).
In Sefer Ye[??]irah, often called the first kabbalistic text, "extremities" is a term referring to cosmological measurement; here, though, "dimensions" suggests possibilities of awareness or frameworks of being. The imagery of "sides" is spatial, that of "dimensions," psycho-spiritual and/or ontological. Both are plausible renditions but convey quite different emphases.
Matt's particular gift is for finding formulations that are surprising, not for diverging from what the meaning might have been, but for capturing it so perfectly. Thus, when the Zohar has [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], Matt renders it as "The holy hidden one engraved an engraving in the innards of a recess, punctuated by a thrust point" (p. 1:17). What may not be apparent to the casual reader is the polyvalence pol·y·va·lent
1. Acting against or interacting with more than one kind of antigen, antibody, toxin, or microorganism.
a. Having more than one valence.
b. that he has captured in terms of literal punctuation and sexuality. Language and eros are intimately intertwined in zoharic Kabbalah and Matt has delivered that association to the unsuspecting reader. Even the translation of a commonplace term, usually rendered as cornerstone, is given striking new meaning in Matt's reading as he refers to the even shetiyah as a "Rock of Weaving." The hyperliteralism here provides a fully graphic picture of the metaphor (p. 2:8, n. 51).
Another color in Matt's palette is his delivery of alliteration alliteration (əlĭt'ərā`shən), the repetition of the same starting sound in several words of a sentence. Probably the most powerful rhythmic and thematic uses of alliteration are contained in Beowulf, to follow that of the Zohar. One example is his transmuting le-qashra qishrin into "to cluster clusters." Whereas qishrin is conventionally translated as 'knots', "cluster" far surpasses it because of the spiritually pejorative pejorative Medtalk Bad…real bad connotation of knots as opposed to the unifying closeness of the cluster (p. 2:56).
Consider the following passage as translated in Tishby/Goldstein:
Come and see. In the middle of the firmament a resplendent path weaves its way. It is the snake of the firmament with which all the lesser stars are associated, mounds upon mounds of them being supported by it. And they are put in charge of recompensing the deeds of mankind. Similarly, there are many companies of noonday [destroyers] (14) ready for him, and they all accompany him, surrounding him, and defiling him, and he is called 'unclean.' (15)
This is Matt's rendition:
Come and see: In the middle of the sky, a lustrous path is woven--Celestial Serpent--all gossamer ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]) stars clustered within, mounds upon mounds, encharged with requiting the deeds of inhabitants of the world. Similarly, numerous bands of dazzling demons ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]) issue from this supernal, primordial serpent--by whom Adam was seduced--and they are all encharged with requiting deeds of the world (p. 2:215).
Two terms deserve attention here: Matt's use of "gossamer" rather than "lesser" and "dazzling demons" rather than "noonday destroyers"--both emphasize the quality of light inherent in the original images and the alliteration of the latter echoes the Zohar's own alliteration, even when there is none present in the original text. He indicates in his note to "dazzling demons" that "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (Tehirin), from [comes from] the Aramaic root meaning 'brightness, noon.' One class of demons is named [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (tiharei), 'noonday demons.'" (16) As he has done elsewhere, Matt has used a poetic device, alliteration in this instance, to help capture the multi-vocality of the text. (17)
In addition to the poetic translations, the volumes offer other forms of compensation in terms of the layout and physical appearance of the books. The traditional zoharic text as in the Margaliot edition published by the Mossad ha-Rav Kook, appears as a block on the page, undisturbed by the modern niceties of paragraphing and punctuation. Making the text comprehensible by adding such elements is to be expected in a translation, but one of Matt's signal contributions is the use of the exclamation mark. The dialogue of the Zohar's fictional kabbalists is frequently punctuated with expressions of astonishment, delight, and dismay. The addition of this simple device of punctuation accentuates the literary experience of even a fluid reader of the Zohar's dense text. Thus we read, "Rabbi El'azar said, 'A king for a cultivated field.' How many nuances of supernal su·per·nal
1. Celestial; heavenly.
2. Of, coming from, or being in the sky or high above.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin supernus; see uper mystery are embedded here!" (p. 2:206) In another instance we read, "Do not say these are words of a child! These are supernal words, all inscribed in the mystery of wisdom!" (p. 2:339). In his Guide to the Zohar, Green writes that "It is primarily the frequent expressions of enthusiasm and ecstasy with which the text is dotted that serve to indicate how deeply and personally the sefirotic teachings were felt" (p. 78). Another feature of Matt's compensation is the beautifully executed orthographics in the competition of the letters as they jockey for privileged position. In the best example, the letters yod at the top of the x undergo various contortions as the [??]adi struggles to embody the union of masculine and feminine potencies (p. 1:13). (18)
Sometimes Matt's compensations aim for a softening of the text's androcentricity; thus, qudsha brikh hu is rendered as "blessed Holy One" instead of the conventional "Holy One, blessed be He," unless there is a specifically male valence in the text. This is no small change in a text suffused with the masculine viewpoint, transforming theological assumptions by dropping a pronoun. What one gains is a God that is dynamic, ethereal, and impersonal over and against a personal, masculine being. This usage is employed as a rule in the translation.
Another compensation can be seen in the treatment of the redundancy of the Aramaic text, a repetitiveness that would be jarring to English ears if rendered faithfully. Thus, in one instance, where the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (parh. ei) is used twice in two lines, Matt translates it first as "fly" and then as "soar" with no apparent reason other than for poetic benefit (p. 1:45). This is the kind of change that alters the experience of reading: the reader loses ambiguity and identity, but picks up lush precision. Elsewhere, Matt translates [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (le-istakla u-le-minda) as "contemplate and discover" rather than "to gaze and to know" which would be a more literal translation. One loses the visionary aspect and picks up the dynamism of discovery when it is, perhaps, a more placid scene (p. 1:46). In one beautiful passage we read "Who is the sky? The sky embracing sun, moon, stars, and constellations--the Book of Memory" (p. 1:58). A more literal translation would have been "Who is the sky? Within it are the sun, moon, stars, and constellations--the Book of Memory." Here Matt has opened up the metaphor of the sky, considering what it means to have celestial bodies within it, and then expresses it with the term "embrace," bringing in love, the subject of the sun/moon relationship, as explained in note 416.
Sometimes he will yoke two verb phrases together as verb and adverb adverb: see part of speech; adjective. thus tightening their interaction. For example, when Abraham returns to Canaan after his brief sojourn in Egypt, the Zohar says, awhh hyl ylgta akh hyb Myyqtaw hyb laow aora lo aflvd agrd. What might have been translated as "here was revealed to him that rung ruling over the land, and he entered into it and became established there," Matt offers "here was revealed to him that rung ruling over the land, and he entered enduringly" (p. 2:18). Similarly, when the zoharic text reads [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], Matt gives us,
"As soon as Abraham saw that the power appointed over the land had not vitalized it fittingly with holy energy," (p. 2:19) where a word-for-word translation would have yielded "As soon as Abraham saw that the power appointed over the land had not given it strength and holy energy as appropriate." Each of these examples is a complex verb phrase in which the syntax has been tightened, thus increasing the dynamic tension among the words. At the same time it makes one verb a modifier (programming) modifier - An operation that alters the state of an object. Modifiers often have names that begin with "set" and corresponding selector functions whose names begin with "get". of the other, sacrificing the literal translation in favor of a more vigorous rendition.
Other subtle syntactical shifts, similarly, enhance the dynamism of the text. One technique is adjective doubling, for instance, "redheaded red·head·ed
1. Having red hair.
2. Having a red head: a redheaded woodpecker.
Adj. 1. regal jesters" as a translation for [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (p. 2:326). The note explains,
Rufinus is a Roman name derived from the Latin rufus, 'red-haired.' The name is shared by various early Christian saints, a fourth-century Roman minister, and Tineus Rufus, the second-century governor of Palestine ordered by Emperor Hadrian to crush the Jewish rebellion ... In the Zohar, rufinus refers to a royal official ... For the medieval Castilian usage, see Corominas, Diccionario, s.v. rufian. Cf. Aramaic, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (rufila), 'high official' (p. 2:326 n. 45).
In another example, when the Zohar has [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]: Matt writes, "abandoning supernal dominion for the other," switching from the infinitive infinitive: see mood; tense. to the participle par·ti·ci·ple
A form of a verb that in some languages, such as English, can function independently as an adjective, as the past participle baked in We had some baked beans, . Another homily homily (hŏm`əlē), type of oral religious instruction delivered to a church congregation. In the patristic period through the Middle Ages the focus of the homily was on the explanation and application of texts read or sung during the opens as follows:
Rabbi [??]iyya opened, "The wicked are like the banished sea that cannot be still ..." (Isaiah 57:20). Now is there such a thing as "a banished sea"? Yes, for when the sea escapes its normal array, surging out of control ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]), then it is banished, expelled from its site (p. 1:441).
In the Derekh Emet commentary, [??]ayyim Vital explains [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] to mean '[without] a ship captain' while Ye[??]iel Bar-Lev translates it as alb [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]. (19) While the most common translation for [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] might be 'rope', Jastrow also cites the Targum to 2 Sam 8:2 and y. Sotah 8 (end), 23a where the meaning is 'rope measure'. What Matt's translation generates is a sea that resembles a cosmic force, depersonalized, in contrast to the more personalized lack of control conveyed by the sea captain.
Beyond these syntactical shifts, Matt's translation delights with the sparkling quality of his English renditions. These gems abound and a few examples will suffice. When the Zohar writes, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], Matt offers "all bask in peace" (p. 1:264); a pedestrian translation would be "all reside in peace" or "all abide in peace," but basking imagines the vision as these alternatives do not. In another instance, the biblical [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] is translated as "nocturnal mishap" which preserves the biblical text's euphemistic rendition rather than the more common and more revelatory 'nocturnal emission' (p. 2:127). Where the Zohar has [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], one might have been satisfied with "Wine that delights and illuminates the face, causes the eyes to smile and engenders desire"; Matt writes "from the wine that delights and brightens the face, sparkling the eyes, arousing passion" (p. 1:413). In another instance, Matt writes, referring to Eden's serpent: "[that] serpent bites the world, besmirching creatures' faces" as a translation for [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] which might otherwise have been translated as "[that] serpent bites the world, darkening people's faces" (p. 2:211). Sometimes, Matt paints a picture in his translating a preposition preposition, in English, the part of speech embracing a small number of words used before nouns and pronouns to connect them to the preceding material, e.g., of, in, and about. with a verb. Thus when the Zohar offers [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], Matt renders this as "Within Torah abide all supernal, sealed mysteries, ungraspable. Within Torah abide all supernal matters, revealed and unrevealed. Within Torah abide all things above and below." (p. 2:258). The preposition b 'in' is translated as 'abides' by Matt; in Simon/Sperling it is given as 'contained' and only once. Tishby/Goldstein offer "In the Torah are" three times. While the latter is the most literal, it gives no real sense of the relationship between the two. The Simon/Sperling translation imagines the Torah as a storehouse for supernal secrets; Matt, in turn, treats those mysteries as living entities dwelling within the Torah. In this way the author has animated the Zohar, representing the mythical world of the Zohar rather than resting content with translating its words. Lastly, even 'study', the term for the most frequent occupation of the zoharic kabbalists is not left untouched as Matt opts to translate [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] as "to ply Torah." The richness of meaning of 'to ply'--"To use diligently; wield: To engage in diligently; practice; To traverse or sail over regularly; To continue offering something to; ensure that (another) is abundantly served; To assail as·sail
tr.v. as·sailed, as·sail·ing, as·sails
1. To attack with or as if with violent blows; assault.
2. To attack verbally, as with ridicule or censure. See Synonyms at attack.
3. vigorously"--reflects a constellation of meanings that zoharic study undoubtedly intends.
The reader can delight in the various translating modalities that Matt adopts, sometimes more formal, sometimes downright folksy folk·sy
adj. folk·si·er, folk·si·est Informal
1. Simple and unpretentious in behavior.
2. Characterized by informality and affability: a friendly, folksy town.
3. . On the very first page he gives us "For there is a rose, and then there is a rose!" rather than the more word-for-word translation: "there is a rose and there is a rose" (p. 1:1). Make no mistake, Matt does not shy away from Verb 1. shy away from - avoid having to deal with some unpleasant task; "I shy away from this task"
avoid - stay clear from; keep away from; keep out of the way of someone or something; "Her former friends now avoid her" conveying the obscurity of the text. Commenting on Genesis 6:3, "Let his days be a hundred and twenty years TWENTY YEARS. The lapse of twenty years raises a presumption of certain facts, and after such a time, the party against whom the presumption has been raised, will be required to prove a negative to establish his rights.
2. , the Zohar explains, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], "duration of banded diadem diadem, in ancient times, the fillet of silk, wool, or linen tied about the head of a king, queen, or priest as a distinguishing mark. Later, it was a band of gold, which gave rise to the crown. In heraldry, the diadem is one of the arched bars that support the crown. ," signifying a blurring of time and space. In one instance, the translator preserves the Zohar's tortured syntax: "Throughout, Jacob dealt cunningly with Esau because of Esau's cunning rung, so that he could not prevail, would be overturned--so that his house would not be defiled de·file 1
tr.v. de·filed, de·fil·ing, de·files
1. To make filthy or dirty; pollute: defile a river with sewage.
2. , defended by him" (p. 2:274). Instances such as this are a sign of Matt's dedicated fidelity to the text, with an unwillingness to paraphrase, rewrite, or otherwise rationalize what remains, ultimately, a difficult text.
2. INFORMATION IN THE NOTES
Yet another form of compensation that Matt provides is rich historical, scientific, linguistic, and even botanical information that populates the notes. Naturally, one expects references to rabbinic texts, New Testament, Philo, Gnostic literature, medieval biblical commentary, contemporaneous kabbalistic literature, and modern scholarship.
2.1 Textual Problems
As mentioned above, part of the challenge the translator confronted is the difficulty of determining the correct text among the proliferation of textual witnesses. In one passage, the forty-nine gates that are said to be contained within the sefirah Binah are read by some manuscripts as forty, possibly based on a scribal error. The difference hinges on whether the zoharic text reads [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] or [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] whose gematriyah is fifty, thus referring to the forty-nine revealed gates and the one concealed gate as mentioned in the text (p. 1:18 n. 120). In this way Matt invites the reader into recognizing the difficulty of knowing how to read the Zohar. Elsewhere, Matt accounts for the bumpiness with speculation about a more "original" form of the Zohar: "The abrupt beginning of this passage [about Abraham's acquisition of the Cave of Machpelah] suggests that it was originally preceded by a related passage that has been lost." (p. 2:219 n. 128); this kind of detail gives the non-specialized reader an explanation of the bumps in the texture of the book. At the same time, however, methodologically, this kind of comment runs the risk of assuming that there was a text that provided the link, rather than assuming that the Zohar's gapping is a product of the way in which it was cobbled cob·ble 1
1. A cobblestone.
2. Geology A rock fragment between 64 and 256 millimeters in diameter, especially one that has been naturally rounded.
3. cobbles See cob coal.
tr. together from various sources.
Standing in relation to the traditional printing of the Zohar, one that blends the so-called main body of the Zohar with various other components (Raya Mehemna, Sitre Torah, Midrash ha-Necelam, etc.), Matt indicates his exclusion of seven folios of the traditional printing which are part of the Heikhalot section of the Zohar that is conventionally printed in Zohar 1:38a-45b. (20) While his stated intent is to translate only the "main body of the Zohar," in one instance he includes a section from the so-called Tosefta because it is present in most manuscripts (pp. 1:358-363). (21) At times, Matt intentionally misquotes verses in order to follow certain manuscript traditions and to accord with the conclusion in the Zohar's homily. (22)
2.2 Scientific Information
On the very first page of the Zohar's introduction, a rose is compared to the Assembly of Israel, a rose that is colored red and white. The red and white have particular symbolic qualities in the kabbalistic schema but Matt expands upon that layer of meaning with botanical and premodern pre·mod·ern
Existing or coming before a modern period or time: the feudal system of premodern Japan. medical information. Note 3 describes the
Rosa gallica versicolor (also known as Rosa mundi), one of the oldest of the striped roses, whose flowers are crimson splashed on a white background. The striping varies and occasionally flowers revert to the solid pink of their parent, Rosa gallica. The parent was introduced to Europe in the twelfth or thirteenth century by Crusaders returning from Palestine. Both parent and sport were famous for their aromatic and medicinal qualities. Elsewhere (2:20a-b), the Zohar alludes to the process of distilling oil from the petals of the flower to produce rose water, a popular remedy. During this process the color gradually changes from red to white. (23)
Sometimes, Matt indicates that the Zohar's science is faulty. In Matt's translation of Zohar 1:157b we read "While they were walking they saw two Damascene plums, one male and one female." The author notes that these plums are native to Syria and are referred to in rabbinic literature, but also that they are not technically "dioecious di·oe·cious or di·e·cious
Of or relating to organisms, especially plants, having the male and female reproductive organs borne on separate individuals of the same species; sexually distinct. (distinguished as male or female), [but that] certain varieties require pollen from a different variety." (24)
When the Zohar discusses the contemplative foci of gazing at a candle, Matt cites the remark of nineteenth century physicist Michael Faraday faraday /far·a·day/ (F ) (far´ah-da) the electric charge carried by one mole of electrons or one equivalent weight of ions, equal to 9.649 × 104coulombs.
n. in Chemical History of a Candle:
There is not a law under which any part of this universe is governed which does not come into play and is touched upon in these phenomena. There is no better, there is no more open door by which you can enter into the study of natural philosophy, than by considering the physical phenomena of a candle (p. 1:284 n. 1352).
In a related matter, Matt draws attention to the distinction between lamp and candle with a note about the discussion of wax candles in a treatise commissioned by Alfonso X of Castile Alfonso X (November 23, 1221, Toledo, Spain – April 4, 1284, Seville, Spain) was a Spanish monarch who ruled as the King of Galicia, Castile and León from 1252 until his death. He was elected Rex Romanorum'' in 1254. (1252-1284) (p. 2:32 n. 236).
2.3 Linguistic Information
Matt traces the influences of Latin, Greek, Castilian, and Arabic on the Zohar's language, often found in the neologisms that the Zohar is fond of constructing. Thus, in one instance he suggests that the neologism A new word or new meaning for an existing word. The high-tech field routinely creates neologisms, especially new meanings. Years ago, there was no doubt that a "mouse" referred only to a furry, little rodent. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (quzpei) derives from Arabic root qdph 'to throw', related to the neologism [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (quspita) meaning 'hollow of a sling' (p. 1:299 n. 1442). Another time he explains the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] contending that it is "derived from the Greek xestes, a measure about the size of a pint." (25) Some of the most inventive work comes from creative sleuthing Sleuthing
See also Crime Fighting.
detective in Ngaio Marsh’s many mystery stories. [New Zealand Lit.: Harvey, 520]
tough solver of brutal crimes. [Am. Lit. . One passage yields, "Speak, my son! May dazzling topaz [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]] from your mouth resound like a spark!" (p. 2:84). In note 648, Matt writes: "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (tavreqa), a neologism apparently combining [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]), a precious stone, perhaps 'topaz,' and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.](baraq), 'flash of lightning'.... Rabbi Abba is eager to hear the gem of wisdom from the child's mouth." Matt finds the word tav[??]ag in the Targum on Song of Songs 5:14. Interestingly, the word Tavreqa does not appear in the standard edition of the Zohar, nor that of Cordovero or in the Cremona edition of the Zohar. Matt's text of the Zohar diverges from the standard Zohar which reads, "Recount something good, my son, because a word from your mouth is like the voice of the lamp (Rabbi Shimon bar Yo[??]ai)" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]). Where the manuscript that Matt has chosen has [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], the Mantua edition has [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] and the Cremona edition has [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 'chip', offering an alternate of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] 'fragment'. The scope of his project is already so enormous that one can hardly fault the author for not providing the methodological reasons for choosing one reading over another in every instance. However, when one comes upon discrepancies such as this, this reader often wondered whether it was the most 'dazzling' option that was preferred.
The Zohar, including this translation, is not intended to be read fluently from one end to the other but rather is a text that was meant to be studied. As such, Matt has repeated footnotes throughout the text, often because the zoharic text itself returns to the same issues over and over again but also, it appears, because they reflect ideas that the author particularly desires to impart to the reader. Matt has uniquely translated [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] in Hebrew) as "the world that is coming" to indicate that it is ever-present rather than a stage of existence subsequent to this one. He draws attention to this novel reading in several places, explaining that to the medieval mindset mind·set or mind-set
1. A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations.
2. An inclination or a habit. , the reference is to a dimension of existence that is always present for those who have transcended their earthly existence, usually after death. (26) This reader found the new translation of this ubiquitous phrase consistently jarring but the aim to distinguish this eschatological es·cha·tol·o·gy
1. The branch of theology that is concerned with the end of the world or of humankind.
2. A belief or a doctrine concerning the ultimate or final things, such as death, the destiny of humanity, the Second vision from that of a rabbinic perspective is laudable. Another example, this time reflecting recent scholarly boldness, Matt refers to Abraham as "selected by God and confirmed as the incarnation of [??]esed"(pp. 2:29 n. 206; 2:36 n. 277). (27) Quite often it is the Zohar's interaction with other cultures or its parallels to other religions that draws the repeated emphasis. Thus when the Zohar speaks of a soul in a radiant garment, Matt alerts the reader to Islamic, Iranian, and Buddhist parallels. (28) The ritual of nocturnal waking and study, a practice well attested in medieval Christian circles, draws repeated stress as well. (29) This is the kind of detail that marks the author's sensitivity to his desired audience.
3. AN AMERICAN SPIRITUAL EPIC
Who is the intended audience for this work? What are the benefits and limitations that stem from this target group? Perhaps the seminal line in the translator's introduction is the comment that the "frequent dilemmas of interpretation suggest that in exploring the Zohar, linguistic search and spiritual search go hand in hand" (p. xxi). Matt's own spiritual proclivities are in evidence both in the style of translation and in the issues that are emphasized in the notes. The task of the translator involves several spheres of mediation: text, translator, and projected audience. Indeed, the question arises of what it can possibly mean to translate a mystical text such as the Zohar for readers living in such different circumstances and with such different cultural assumptions from its authors of centuries ago. This is, of course, a perennial problem in translation, but it is particularly acute in a text such as the Zohar, and especially when the translator considers the task to entail a spiritual search. Indeed, the Zohar courts the personal involvement of its readers to such an extent that it is extraordinarily difficult to discern where the boundaries between "original intent" and creative interpretation lie.
Who is the intended audience? Matt's interests, as evidenced by the translation style, the kinds of information supplied in the footnotes, as well as by Stanford University Press's investment in this decade-long project, reveal that it is a broad readership that is hoped for. The kabbalah of the Zohar is to be revealed at a pitch-perfect scholarly level but with an intonation that will attract modern spiritual seekers. Matt says, indeed, that he wants the reader to wrestle with the text (p. xxii). Ultimately this question raises the core theoretical issue that confronts every translator: what precisely is one aiming to achieve as one converts words from a source-language to a target-language?
Another question: What kind of reading experience, even mystical experience, does Daniel Matt envision for his readers? The translation and notes emphasize the unitive and transformative aspects of the Zohar. Central themes of zoharic kabbalah receive less attention, especially in the notes, presumably pre·sum·a·ble
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. because of their lesser attractiveness to a spiritually-seeking American readership in the early twenty-first century. Downplayed in this version of the Zohar are elements such as theurgy the·ur·gy
n. pl. the·ur·gies
1. Divine or supernatural intervention in human affairs.
2. The performance of miracles with supernatural assistance.
3. and the androcentrism Androcentrism (Greek ανδρο, andro-, "man, male", χεντρον, kentron, "center") is the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing male human beings or the masculine point of view at the center of one's that pervades the text. Because theurgy depends on some form of dualism in which the initiate works upon the Godhead or upon cosmic powers, it mitigates the tone of seamlessness preferred in contemporary American spirituality. Consider the following small example: the Zohar explains that kabbalistic teachings must remain esoteric because "every word concealed from the eyes attains supernal value ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]), as is written: I have covered you with the shadow of My hand. Why was it covered and hidden from view? For the sake of supernal value (([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]), as is written: to plant heavens and establish earth" (p. 1:27). The word that Matt has translated as "value" can be more accurately translated as 'benefit', that is, the domain of the esoteric is preserved so as to benefit the supernal and terrestrial worlds. Actions in this world help, support, and reconstitute re·con·sti·tute
tr.v. re·con·sti·tut·ed, re·con·sti·tut·ing, re·con·sti·tutes
1. To provide with a new structure: The parks commission has been reconstituted.
2. divinity. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , the value of esotericism es·o·ter·i·cism
1. Esoteric teachings or practices.
2. The quality or condition of being esoteric.
1. is that it affords assistance to the Godhead, rather than affiliating with an abstract merit.
Speaking of Abraham's vision of the light emanating from the Cave of Machpelah, Matt's translation says, "Therefore he asked for it [the cave], since his desire focused constantly on that site (([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.])" (p. 2:221). Sperling and Simon render the sentence as, "Abraham now asked for it, having always longed for it since then." (30) Matt's phrase, "his desire focused constantly," offers a more contemplative version of the event whereas Sperling and Simon's more literal translation of the phrase portrays longing, plain and simple. The author emphasizes contemplation and meditation, again, indicating a spiritualizing bent.
In another sample, more pronounced than the last, Matt's translation has "'Lekh lekha', Go to yourself, to know yourself, to refine yourself" (p. 2:9). In n. 62, Matt offers the comment of the sixteenth century Italian, Moshe Zacuto, to explain the Zohar's modern-sounding words: "Every person must search and discover the root of his soul, so he can fulfill it and restore it to its source, its essence. The more one fulfills himself, the closer he approaches his authentic self." These remarks, sounding so very contemporary, are somewhat misleading. The medieval and early modern notion of a soul-root bears little, if any, similarity to the "know yourself" spirituality that is common today. It refers to the highly technical doctrines of the soul that are developed in sixteenth-century Kabbalah. According to these teachings, all souls are derived from the body of Primordial Adam, a term referring to the first concentration of divine light in the process of emanation emanation, in philosophy
emanation (ĕmənā`shən) [Lat.,=flowing from], cosmological concept that explains the creation of the world by a series of radiations, or emanations, originating in the godhead. . According to this doctrine, it is the ultimate task of each person to discern his soul-root and to restore his soul to that place. As such, the notions of "knowing oneself" and approaching one's "authentic self" refer to the knowledge of a metaphysical entity entirely stripped of the personal markers that construct our personality; in other words, it is a far cry from the therapeutically-styled pop Kabbalah of our time which the reader might infer from the note. In instances such as this, Matt veers dangerously close to the line separating accessible scholarship from self-help spirituality.
My aim here is not to quibble QUIBBLE. A slight difficulty raised without necessity or propriety; a cavil.
2. No justly eminent member of the bar will resort to a quibble in his argument. over a particular choice of words but rather to bring attention to the spiritualizing slant that Matt brings to the act of translating from one cultural idiom to another, and from one spiritual style to another. This translation is written for an American audience that is interested in spirituality, and it is very clear that the author values mystical experience. Moreover, he is interested in demonstrating the value of this text for that purpose. In another example:
Come and see: There is a supernal expanse, concealed, above them--an expanse guiding them, illumining them all. This is unknowable, susceptible to questioning yet unknown, for it is concealed and deep; all are bewildered by it. (p. 2:48)
Matt's note 369 emphasizes ineffability in·ef·fa·ble
1. Incapable of being expressed; indescribable or unutterable. See Synonyms at unspeakable.
2. Not to be uttered; taboo: the ineffable name of God. and mystical negativity:
A spiritual seeker may inquire about Binah, but such questions do not yield ordinary answers. The identity of the divine is discovered only in a realm beyond words. The mystical name "Who" becomes a focus of meditation, as question turns into quest. See Shim'on Lavi, KP [Ketem Paz], 1:91a: "Concerning everything that cannot be grasped, its question constitutes its answer." (31)
The translation is certainly faithful but the note raises the spiritual opportunities that the text treats descriptively. It is in moments like these in which we see the author's hopes for the personal impact the translation might have upon the reader.
Moreover, there are features of Matt's emphases that obscure important aspects of the kabbalist kab·ba·lah or kab·ba·la or ka·ba·la also ca·ba·la or qa·ba·la or qa·ba·lah
1. often Kabbalah discourse and his penchant for the drama of zoharic rhetoric passes over the function of the Zohar's language. One example of this is his translations of "mamash" as 'precisely' and "vadai" as 'really!' or sometimes as 'actual', 'actually', or 'literally'. (32) These are, indeed, precise translations of these terms. However, these words are also technical terms that signal the transparency of the mundane world to the supernal world and, from a hermeneutical perspective "an overlapping of exoteric ex·o·ter·ic
Arising outside the organism; of external origin. and esoteric signification SIGNIFICATION, French law. The notice given of a decree, sentence or other judicial act. ." (33) These passages continue and often make plain that there is a transmuting from the mundane to the sacred (or demonic) realms, but this particular lacuna lacuna /la·cu·na/ (lah-ku´nah) pl. lacu´nae [L.]
1. a small pit or hollow cavity.
2. a defect or gap, as in the field of vision (scotoma). is a missed opportunity to teach about the literary functioning of the zoharic text.
Thematically, there is a relative lack of attention paid to questions of gender and this, too, may reflect the target audience, one that is accustomed to and expects full egalitarianism in its spiritual life. Sexuality is a central (perhaps even the central) trope trope
1. A figure of speech using words in nonliteral ways, such as a metaphor.
2. A word or phrase interpolated as an embellishment in the sung parts of certain medieval liturgies. in zoharic Kabbalah and it is clearly defined by heterosexual norms; gender, however, is a much dicier situation. (34) While Matt has largely adhered to the consensus viewpoint which acknowledges the knotty knot·ty
adj. knot·ti·er, knot·ti·est
1. Tied or snarled in knots.
2. Covered with knots or knobs; gnarled.
3. Difficult to understand or solve. See Synonyms at complex. aspects of the Zohar's approach to gender, he has not articulated it nor developed it in the notes when the topic arises. Perhaps most strikingly is his annotation to a passage that links circumcision circumcision (sûr'kəmsĭzh`ən), operation to remove the foreskin covering the glans of the penis. It dates back to prehistoric times and was widespread throughout the Middle East as a religious rite before it was introduced among the to verbal articulation:
The phrase [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (gezar milah) means 'cutting (or articulating) a word', but also suggests 'cutting milah, circumcision'. A similar play on words appears in Sefer Yetsirah 1:3: ... the single covenant precisely in the middle: in [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (millat), the word, of the tongue; and in [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (milat), circumcision, of genitals. (35)
What is the meaning of this relationship between the phallus and the mouth, a covenant symbolically shared by both? What of the ejaculations (and their restrictions) from each of these organs of creativity? The reader is left on her own. (36) Building on Mopsik's discussion of the "body of procreation PROCREATION. The generation of children; it is an act authorized by the law of nature: one of the principal ends of marriage is the procreation of children. Inst. tit. 2, in pr. " and Wolfson's scholarly attention to the centrality of the male sexual organ, one can easily see how the embodiment of the kabbalist establishes him as a fount of (virile virile /vir·ile/ (vir´il)
2. specifically, having male copulative power.
1. ) creativity and (virile) potency. The impact this has on the construction of masculinity, and by implication femininity, the way in which this complements the racial views of strict avoidance of miscegenation Mixture of races. A term formerly applied to marriage between persons of different races. Statutes prohibiting marriage between persons of different races have been held to be invalid as contrary to the equal protection clause , anxieties about masturbation, and nocturnal mishaps (to use Matt's felicitous fe·lic·i·tous
1. Admirably suited; apt: a felicitous comparison.
2. Exhibiting an agreeably appropriate manner or style: a felicitous writer.
3. translation of bacial qeri) are important questions for a generation so interested in questions of gender, Jewish assimilation, queer theory, and sexual pleasure.
In a similar vein, we read about Abraham: "Because he loved tsedeq, righteousness, he was drawn near (tsedaqah), righteousness." and in note 7: "Because Abraham approached Shekhinah, known as tsedeq, he was drawn near Tif'eret, the blessed Holy One, known as tsedaqah" (p. 2:2). Neglected here is the explanation that through approaching the Shekhinah, Abraham becomes assimilated to Tif[??]eret and this is part of how Abraham is constructed as male. Matt notes that [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], which he translates as 'sculpting a ... word', generically means 'cutting (or articulating) a word', but also suggests 'cutting milah, circumcision' (p. 2:118, n. 16). What is lost is the opportunity to connect the upper and lower sites of ejaculation ejaculation /ejac·u·la·tion/ (e-jak?u-la´shun) forcible, sudden expulsion; especially expulsion of semen from the male urethra. , the link of literary creativity and procreativity, completion of the male as both speaker of Torah and as guardian of the covenant. (37) It is not, of course, crucial that gender sensitivities be attended to at every turn, but Matt seems to shy away from the messiness of the Zohar's androcentrism and phallocentrism and this reticence sanitizes, universalizes, and spiritualizes this beautiful, if not always ethically admirable, text. Greater attention to these matters in future volumes would be an admirable corrective.
And yet, accessibility is not the lone criterion guiding Matt's hand. Indeed, the question may be asked whether an educated reader with no background in Kabbalah can pick up the book and start reading? In the translations of Charles Mopsik and the Kabbalah Center, the text is broken down into units defined by narrative or thematic breaks, each one opening with brief editorial introductions to orient the reader. (38) That approach certainly places the text in closer reach, going far beyond paragraphing and punctuating as a physical intervention in the text. Given that we do not know yet how the Zohar's homilies developed over time, avoiding the sectioning adopted by these other translation is probably prudent.
Lastly, and on a lighter note, there is the inevitable strangeness that comes from translating from one language to another. In one instance unintentional comedy is engendered in translating a section of the Zohar that opens with the interpretation of a verse from Lamentations "What can I take as a witness to you? What can I compare to you? (Lam 2:13) and from Isaiah, "Lift your eyes on high and see: Who created these?" (Isa 40:26). The translation reads: "Who is End of Heaven above; What is End of Heaven below. Jacob inherited this, running from end to end (Exodus 26:28), from first end, Who, to last end, What, for he stands in the middle. So, Who created these. (p. 1:7). Who, indeed, can read this section without inexorably hearing the echoes of Abbott and Costello's famous 'Who's on first' routine?
These critiques certainly have merit and yet, to paraphrase Mordekhai's comments to Esther, "Who knows, perhaps Daniel Matt has attained to royal position for just such a task." Rather than wait another generation for a text to be established that would note all the historical developments of the zoharic text, perhaps it is appropriate for someone of Matt's talents to translate it. (39)
4. ARTHUR GREEN, A GUIDE TO THE ZOHAR
Written as a companion piece to Matt's Zohar translation, Arthur Green's A Guide to the Zohar performs its task with erudition er·u·di·tion
Deep, extensive learning. See Synonyms at knowledge.
Erudition of editors—Hare.
Noun 1. , clarity, and elegance. Green is a scholar of Jewish mystical texts, teacher of Jewish spirituality, and a stylist, all of which combine to make this book eminently readable and useful. His stated aim is to provide "a digest of what the writer considers to be the finest scholarship and deepest insights regarding the Zohar that have been written since Scholem began the era of modern kabbalah scholarship" (p. xiii). The book is an expanded version of the introduction that one finds in the first volume of the translation.
In arresting first remarks, his preface sounds a cautionary tone, expressing reservations about the project of translation:
No reading through the "veil of translation" could do justice to the Zohar's rich and creative appropriation of the nuances of Hebrew and Aramaic speech, its startling transformation of countless biblical verses, and its frequent subtle rereadings of the older rabbinic legacy that together constitute much of the Zohar's charm and genius. (p. xi)
Aware of the limitations of the propaedeutic pro·pae·deu·tic
Providing introductory instruction.
[From Greek propaideuein, to teach beforehand : pro-, before; see format of his book, Green emphasizes the incomplete nature of his treatment:
The emergence of kabbalistic teaching is more complex and obscure than has been described in the preceding paragraphs. The relationship between Kabbalah and certain late forms of midrashic writing is still not entirely clear. The nature and degree of contact between the early Kabbalists and the German hasidic circles ... continues to puzzle scholars. (pp. 26-27). (40)
These apologetic refrains serve, perhaps, to remind the reader that making kabbalistic texts and lore accessible through translation and summary, even scholarly versions that adhere to academic norms as contrasted with the mass popularization pop·u·lar·ize
tr.v. pop·u·lar·ized, pop·u·lar·iz·ing, pop·u·lar·iz·es
1. To make popular: A famous dancer popularized the new hairstyle.
2. and cultural translations that the kabbalah is currently enjoying, still yields limited access. Ultimately, they cannot substitute for study of the original and its accompanying scholarly analysis in depth.
For the purposes of this review, I intend to highlight some of Green's emphases in his short book. One of the primary foci of Green's treatment is his emphasis on experience. Near the outset he offers a helpful caveat, distinguishing between the way in which the term "mysticism" is used primarily to refer to a certain category of religious experience whereas in the Zohar or other similar works we have a tradition of esotericism that does not explicitly privilege experience (p. 5). One of the primary thrusts of Green's reading of the zoharic tradition is his assertion that the Zohar "reflects the experience (emphasis in original) of a kabbalistic circle" (p. 72). This has become a methodological assumption in recent studies of the Zohar, but it remains difficult if not impossible to ascribe a point-to-point correspondence between literary and historical worlds. (41) There is an experiential dimension that Green aims to open up for the reader in her encounter with the text. He puts forth that
To open one's inner eye to the new reality created by that pattern of thinking is to live within the realm of the sefirot themselves. The transformations of language and inner experience go hand in hand with one another; the break through in consciousness to a higher realm of contemplative existence is conveyed through the vehicle of self-expression in sefirotic terms. (pp. 77-78)
Following Melila Hellner-Eshed, he explains that a "main purpose of the Zohar is to arouse within the reader a constant longing for such 'enlightenment' or 'inspiration'" (p. 83). This stance is enabled by a worldview world·view
n. In both senses also called Weltanschauung.
1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.
2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group. in which the kabbalist "inhabits a cosmos of interlocking and interpenetrating realms" (p. 109). This translation between realms becomes so pronounced that Green pushes the envelope of the old Jewish taboo of incarnationalism, suggesting that the human individual is "an earthly embodiment of the divine structure" (p. 113). (42) This incarnational approach finds expression here and in a number of places in Matt's translation. (43) By appearing in the semi-popular format of this Guide and the Zohar translation it has the possibility of bringing this understanding to a much broader audience and shifting a broad understanding of what kinds of theological lines can and cannot be crossed by considering how they have been crossed in the past. (44)
A second emphasis is the special role of language in mysticism in general, and in Jewish mysticism in particular.
In order to communicate a translinguistic or "ineffable" level of insight, the mystic needs to struggle against the barriers of language, perhaps by stretching the ordinary discursive vehicle to new poetic heights, perhaps by discovering within language a previously untapped symbolic stratum, perhaps by speaking in a holier tongue, by recourse to some code, or else by bearing witness to the utter breakdown of language through such phenomena as glossolalia, sacred stammer, or the glorification of silence.... The nature of God's primordial speech, the question of its relationship to Hebrew as we know it, and the interplay between the language of creation and the languages of revelation and interpretation are all the stuff of kabbalistic discourse, treated frequently within the pages of the Zohar. (pp. 7-8)
He suggests that
the Zohar's best readers, both traditional and modern, are those who share its endless fascination with the mystery of words and letters, including both their aural and their graphic (or "spoken" and "written") manifestations. (p. 65)
Green uses two structuring devices in his representation of the history of Jewish mysticisms. He refers to five elements five elements,
n.pl fire, water, earth, wood, and metal; in Chinese medicine, each of these five components is used to organize phenomena for use in clinical applications. Each of the elements corresponds to a specific function (i.e. from the Judaism of the talmudic age--aggadah, halakhah, liturgical tradition, merkavah mysticism, and the speculative-magical tradition that serve as the repositories from which the zoharic authors draw in composing their text (pp. 10-14). Secondly, he draws attention to the theme of brotherhoods or mystical circles in the development of the varying approaches to Jewish mysticism, the German pietists ([??]asidei Ashkenaz) of the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, followed by those in thirteenth century Provence, Catalonia, and finally, Castile. In Castile, it is the Kohen For other meanings, see Cohen (disambiguation).
A kohen (or cohen, Hebrew כּהן, "priest", pl. כּהנִים, kohanim or cohanim brothers with Moshe of Burgos, and the Circle of Contemplation ([??]ug ha-iyyun) that had powerful impacts upon the Zohar.
For several decades, Kabbalah scholarship, particularly in the hands of Moshe Idel, Yehuda Liebes, and Elliot Wolfson, has been tracing the indigenous streams of mythical and mystical thinking that led to the development of the kabbalistic motifs that gain popularity and expression in zoharic Kabbalah. (45) This represented a shift from some of the outward-directed attention that is exemplified in Yi[??][??]ak Baer's treatment of the Raya Mehemna, a late stratum of zoharic literature as drawing on contemporary Christian spirituality. In the last few years, however, some scholars, most notably Arthur Green and Peter Schafer, have again raised the question of the influence of the surrounding societies upon the nascent Kabbalah of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. These two in particular have turned their attention to the rise of the cult of the Virgin Mary in medieval Christian Europe as a possible source for the development of the motif of the Shekhinah, the feminine consort within the kabbalistic Godhead. In this text, then, Green notes that for the Castilian kabbalists, the
degree of linguistic and cultural alienation from their surroundings was significantly less than that of later Jews in Eastern Europe, the lens through which all Jewish diaspora experience is often mistakenly viewed in our time. (p. 88) (46)
He explains the rising mythical orientation as partly due to the "romantic troubador [sic] ethos of the surrounding culture" (p. 26). Green seeks to encourage a broader discussion of, not just the socio-cultural influences of the surroundings, but also of the literary context into which the Zohar might best fit; he suggests that
It might be interesting to place the Zohar into the setting of such works as medieval troubador [sic] romances, Chaucer's fourteenth-century Canterbury Tales, or the Thousand and One Nights. All of these are narrative cycles, frameworks of story into which smaller units (in these cases narrative, in the Zohar's case homiletical) can be fitted. All of them, too, may be seen as precursors of the novel. (p. 74)
In this vein, Green expends greater energy discussing the ways in which the authors of the Zohar interact with Christianity. In a chapter dedicated to the historical context of the Zohar, he suggests that
the Zohar may be viewed as a grand defense of Judaism, a poetic demonstration of the truth and superiority of Jewish faith. Its authors knew a great deal about Christianity, mostly from observing it at close hand but also from reading certain Christian works, including the New Testament, which Dominicans and other eager seekers of converts were only too happy to place in the hands of literate and inquisitive Jews. (p. 88)
He contends that
the Kabbalists could appreciate why Jews were impressed by, and perhaps even attracted to, certain aspects of the Christian story and the religious lives of the large and powerful monastic communities that were so prominent in Christian Spain. The tale of Jesus and his faithful apostles, the passion narrative, and the struggles of the early Church were all powerful and attractive stories of the trinitarian God and the passionate and ever-present devotion to a quasi-divine female figure, made their mark on the kabbalistic imagination. The monastic orders, and especially their commitment to celibacy and poverty, must have been impressive to mystics whose own tradition did not make such demands on them but who shared the medieval otherworldliness that would have highly esteemed such devotion. (p. 90) (47)
Green's own contribution to the issue emerges in his emphasis on the Shekhinah as an adaptation of the cult of the Virgin Mary, which reached its high point in France and Spain during this period (p. 95). As explanation he avers that "it was in part because they were themselves so affected by the attractiveness of Christianity that the authors of the Zohar set out to create a Judaism of renewed mythic power and old-new symbolic forms" (p. 97). (48) He contends that
The great drama of religious life, according to the Kabbalists, is that of protecting Shekhinah from the forces of evil and joining Her to the holy Bridegroom, who ever awaits Her. Here one can see how medieval Jews adapted the values of chivalry--the rescue of the maiden from the clutches of evil--to fit their own spiritual context.... [The kabbalist sees himself as] "a spiritual knight of the Matronita." (pp. 51-52)
As one last instance, Green suggests that the Zohar's fascination with Temple rites and the close linkage of sacrifice and prayer offers "a Jewish alternative, albeit a fantastic one, to the pomp POMP
A drug used in cancer chemotherapy and composed of purinethol (6-mercaptopurine), Oncovin (vincristine sulfate), methotrexate, and prednisone. and ceremony of the medieval Catholic Church" (p. 140). Similarly, he proffers that the Zohar's authors perceive the power ascribed to acts of Christian priesthood and in turn ascribe great mystery and power to birkat kohanim (p. 141). This reader remains unconvinced by a linear connection between the rise of Mary and the rise of the Shekhinah, though the broader matrix of gender construction that lends itself to the idealization idealization /ide·al·iza·tion/ (i-de?il-i-za´shun) a conscious or unconscious mental mechanism in which the individual overestimates an admired aspect or attribute of another person. of a divine feminine, may well undergird these phenomena and the courtly romances as well.
If Daniel Matt's translation strays at times towards spiritual effervescence ef·fer·vesce
intr.v. ef·fer·vesced, ef·fer·vesc·ing, ef·fer·vesc·es
1. To emit small bubbles of gas, as a carbonated or fermenting liquid.
2. To escape from a liquid as bubbles; bubble up.
3. , Green's representation of Kabbalah often features a neo-Hasidic inflection in his emphasis on experience in zoharic Kabbalah. Thus, in one passage, Green writes that "To perform a mitsvah with the proper kabbalistic intent (kavvanah)was actually to abide in the designated sefirotic realm and to experience the flow of divine energy (shefa) that flowed through those sefirot" (p. 129). In a description of the sefirot he relates:
[??]esed represents the God of love, calling forth the response of love in the human soul as well. [??]esed in the mystic's soul is the love of God and of all of God's creatures, the ability to continue this divine flow, passing on to others the gift of divine love. Gevurah represents the God we humans fear, the One before whose power we stand in trembling ... Gevurah is the divine face Isaac sees when bound to that altar confronting the God he believes is about to demand his life. (pp. 43-44).
In this powerful, lyrical treatment, Green emphasizes the dynamic within the soul of the mystic. On the one hand, the dyadic Two. Refers to two components being used.
(programming) dyadic - binary (describing an operator).
Compare monadic. relationship between the qualities of God and the qualities of the mystic are indeed present in the highly compacted symbolism of the Zohar--the human being symbolically stands for the divine referent and yet does not lose its concrete meaning. On the other hand, the kind of experience that Green expounds upon here is rarely made explicit in the Zohar and the emphasis on the relationship between these two different spheres is not overt until the time of the Hasidim. In a similar fashion Green opines:
In balancing their own lives, Israel imitates the God who stands at the center between right and left, balancing all the cosmic forces. That God knows them and sees Himself in them, meaning that the struggle to integrate love and judgment is not only the great human task but a reflection of the cosmic struggle. The inner structure of psychic life is the hidden structure of the universe; it is because of this that humans can come to know God by the path of inward contemplation and true self-knowledge. (p. 47)
To this reader, this kind of formulation is already stepping into the realm of Hasidically-inspired theology rather than a straight reading of Zohar, bearing strong echoes of the author's book on Abraham and the commandments. (49) This emphasis dovetails with a privileging of inner truth over practice or, in other words, of gnosis gno·sis
Intuitive apprehension of spiritual truths, an esoteric form of knowledge sought by the Gnostics.
[Greek gn over nomos. While it is true that the Zohar's kabbalists are most often engaged in the study and discussion of canonical texts, practice is foremost in their mind and at the very core of their Jewish orientation. While Green acknowledges that the performance of rituals has "cosmic effectiveness" (p. 21), his treatment of ritual in the Zohar is secondary. (50)
One blemish blem·ish
A small circumscribed alteration of the skin considered to be unesthetic but insignificant.
blemish on this fine introduction to zoharic kabbalah is the proliferation of typos in the text. Thus we find "inchaote" (p. 13); "kabbalalistic" (p. 68); "troubador" (pp. 26, 74); "heirophants" (p. 92); "correspondeds" (p. 125); "societes" (p. 141); "domininant" (p. 143); and, "homilectical" (p. 161). Even a syntactical error such as "each element of the God" (p. 81) passed the eyes of a proofreader unremarked.
At the beginning of the work, Green declares that "the Zohar is a work of sacred fantasy" (p. 3) and in so doing puts both himself and the reader in a position that is not that of detached reader, but rather engaged traveler on a journey to places fantastic and holy. If at times he strays towards a neo-Hasidic reading of the text, it is in service of a larger goal of opening up a text that has received much fanfare but a fairly narrow readership. Moreover, the pleasure in the prose and the distillation of decades of scholarship is impressive.
If the Zohar's language is effective through its evocativeness, Matt's language is effective through its poetic precision. The charm of the Zohar's language is that it floats allusive al·lu·sive
Containing or characterized by indirect references: an allusive speech.
al·lu balloons skyward sky·ward
adv. & adj.
At or toward the sky.
skywards adv. , challenging the reader to follow their elusive path. In contrast, the beauty of Matt's language is that he paints highly detailed word-images of those evanescent ev·a·nes·cent
Of short duration; passing away quickly. balloons. To use the Zohar's own hermeneutical metaphysics, it is as if the original Zohar communes with Tif[??]eret, the sefirah in which symbols remain ethereal whereas Matt's Zohar plays the role of Shekhinah, refracting the original light and offering a dazzling, if now pinned-down, meaning. If the Matt translation is one instance of the Shekhinah's concretization of the ethereal divinity, I found myself wishing that he would translate the text again, and again, so that the flashing sword which prevents entry to the garden, could yet yield more reflections of the light within. The following quotation addresses the troubling task of the translator:
The translation of poetry may perhaps be compared to the alchemist's attempt to transmute elements. Both are involved in an art form trying to create a new substance in defiance of an hermetic and unique logic holding together the original; the translator, however, is faced with an additional hurdle--for not only must the translated piece appear as autonomous in its own right, it must, at the same time, remain faithful to its origins. Naturally, his task is impossible, and it is being aware of this impossibility which drives the translator forward in his mission. (51)
Matt's Zohar is not merely a translation; rather it is a collection of translations of varying kinds: geographical, temporal, epistemological, and spiritual. He is opening up for a broad readership one of the greatest texts of the Jewish canon with a poetic touch and scholarly acumen. Having now completed the entirety of the Zohar on Bereshit, Matt appears to be on schedule to finish early in the next decade. (52) Ultimately, perhaps the most important contribution of this translation of the Zohar is that it facilitates the study of Zohar in "Classics of Western Literature" courses; as the crown jewel Crown jewel
A particularly profitable or otherwise particularly valuable corporate unit or asset of a firm. Often used in risk arbitrage. The most desirable entities within a diversified corporation as measured by asset value, earning power, and business prospects; in takeover of Jewish mysticism and an outstanding instance of medieval mystical literature, this would mark the creation of a new "world" indeed.
(1) On the dating and origins of the Zohar see G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of : Schocken Books, 1946), pp. 156-204; I. Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, trans. D. Goldstein (reprint, 1949, The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), pp. 30-96; D. Abrams, "When Was the Introduction to the Zohar Written? Variations in the Different Copies of the Introduction in the Mantua Edition," Asufot 8 (1994): 211-226; R. Meroz, "Zoharic Narratives and Their Adaptations," Hispania Judaica Bulletin 3 (2000): 3-63; B. Huss, "The Appearance of 'Sefer Ha-Zohar,'" Tarbiz. 70:3-4 (2001): 507-542; D Abrams, "The Zohar as a Book: On the Assumptions and Expectations of the Kabbalists and Modern Scholarship," Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 12 (2004): 201-232.
(2) 854 folios (1708 pages) in the Margaliot edition. R. Margaliot, ed. rhzh rps (Jerusalem: Mossad ha-Rav Kook, 1970).
(3) Zohar 2:99a-b. See translation in D. C. Matt, Zohar: The Book of Enlightenment (New York: Paulist Press, 1983), pp. 123-125; cf. I. Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, pp. 196-197.
(4) See M. Hellner-Eshed, "A River Issues Forth from Eden": On the Language of Mystical Experience in the Zohar (Tel Aviv: Am Oved Publishers, 2005). In an earlier study, Elliot Wolfson showed how the hermeneutical act was the mystical technique par excellence. E. R. Wolfson, Through a Speculum That Shines: Visionary Experience and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994), pp. 326-392; See also Y. Liebes, "Zohar and Eros," Alpayim--A Multidisciplinary Publication for Contemporary Thought and Literature 9 (1994): 67-119.
(5) G. Scholem, Major Trends, pp. 163-165.
(6) Daniel Abrams has pointed to the difficulty in determining the parameters of the zoharic text. D. Abrams, "The Zohar as a Book."
(7.) Compare Zohar 2:109a where he translates the same phrase as "cloaked dazzlers." Here the reference is more ambi-valent, "heavenly powers, angelic or demonic." Matt refers to the previous usage on 83a where it's malevolent.
(8.) I. Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, p. 818.
(9.) Matt discusses these variations in his preface, p. xx.
(10) G. Steiner, After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation (reprint, 1975; London: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 316.
(11) b. Qidd. 49a.
(12) H. Sperling and M. Simon, trans., The Zohar (London: The Soncino Press, 1933), p. 9.
(13) I. Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, p. 328.
(14) Addition in Tishby/Goldstein.
(15) I. Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar, pp. 666-667.
(16) Page 2:215, n. 99.
(17) See also pp. 2:216, 222.
(18) See also p. 2:125.
(19) Y. Bar-Lev, trans. and commentator, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.], in [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.] (Petah Tiqvah, Israel: Hevrat Yesod 'Olam, 1992-1997), p. 2:106.
(20) See p. 1:241 n. 1062.
(21) See pp. 1:358-359 n. 123.
(22) See, e.g., p. 2:212 n. 70.
(23) Page 1:1 n.3. Matt even uses a Ladino translation of Song of Songs 2:2 to help illuminate the type of flower being referred to; pp. 1:1 n.1; 2:265 n. 56.
(24) Page 2:376 n. 456.
(25) Page 2:205, n. 15.
(26) See, for example, pp. 1:336 n. 1657; 1:339 n. 1; 2:31 n. 222; 2:81 n. 629.
(27) See also below in my discussion of Green's use of this term, p. 425.
(28) For example, pp. 2:25-26 n. 183; 2:71 n. 549.
(29) Pages 2:2-3, n. 13; 2:26, n. 184; 2:80 n. 624; 2:263 n. 44.
(30) H. Sperling and M. Simon, The Zohar, p. 14.
(31) S. Lavi, Ketem Paz (Jerusalem: Ahavat Shalom, 1981).
(32) See, for example, pp. 1:2, 6, 270; 2:70, 83, 96, 232. See, however, p. 203 n. 772. On these terms, see E. R. Wolfson, "Beautiful Maiden Without Eyes: Peshat and Sod in Zoharic Hermeneutics," in The Midrashic Imagination: Jewish Exegesis exegesis
Scholarly interpretation of religious texts, using linguistic, historical, and other methods. In Judaism and Christianity, it has been used extensively in the study of the Bible. Textual criticism tries to establish the accuracy of biblical texts. , Thought, and History, ed. M. Fishbane (Albany: State University of New York Press The State University of New York Press (or SUNY Press), founded in 1966, is a university press that is part of State University of New York system. External link
(33) E. R. Wolfson, "Beautiful Maiden," p. 180.
(34) See, for example, E. R. Wolfson, "Woman--the Feminine as Other in Theosophic the·os·o·phy
n. pl. the·os·o·phies
1. Religious philosophy or speculation about the nature of the soul based on mystical insight into the nature of God.
2. Kabbalah: Some Philosophical Observations on the Divine Androgyne an·dro·gyne
An androgynous individual.
[French, from Old French, from Latin androgynus; see androgynous.]
Noun 1. ," in The Other in Jewish Thought and History, ed. L. Silberstein and R. Cohn (New York: New York University Press New York University Press (or NYU Press), founded in 1916, is a university press that is part of New York University. External link
cherubim, kind of angel. Cherubim were probably thought of in the ancient Middle East as composite creatures like the winged creatures of Assyria. In Jewish tradition, they are described (Ezek. Press, 2005); M. Idel, Kabbalah and Eros (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), pp. 53-103.
(35) Page 2:118, n. 16.
(36) Arthur Green, however, helpfully expands upon the point:
verbal and physical creativity, or what we would call the creative and the procreative processes, are inseparable from one another. The ancient analogy made in Sefer Yetsirah between berit halashon and berit ha-ma'or, the verbal and the sexual covenants inspires the Kabbalist to an understanding that the creative expression coming forth from these two unique and parallel organs, mouth and genitalia, both located in the middle of the human body, represents a single and sublime mystery (A. Green, A Guide to the Zohar, p. 81).
(37) E. R. Wolfson, "Circumcision, Vision of God, and Textual Interpretation: From Midrashic Trope to Mystical Symbol," in Circle in the Square: Studies in the Use of Gender in Kabbalistic Symbolism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986-1987), pp. 41-46.
(38) C. Mopsik, "Le Corpus Zoharique: Ses Titres et Ses Amplifications," in La Formation Des Canons Scripturaires, ed. M. Tardieu (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1993), pp. 75-105; M. Berg, trans. and ed., The Zohar (Tel Aviv: Press of the Yeshivat Kol Yehudah, 1999-2001).
(39) Ronit Meroz will soon publish a critical edition and an electronic synoptic syn·op·tic also syn·op·ti·cal
1. Of or constituting a synopsis; presenting a summary of the principal parts or a general view of the whole.
a. Taking the same point of view.
b. edition of the Zohar on parashat Shemot.
(40) See also A. Green, A Guide to the Zohar, p. 99.
(41) M. Hellner-Eshed, "A River Issues Forth from Eden"; J. Hecker, Mystical Bodies, Mystical Meals: Eating and Embodiment in Medieval Kabbalah (Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Wayne State University, at Detroit, Mich.; state supported; coeducational; established 1956 as a successor to Wayne Univ. (formed 1934 by a merger of five city colleges). Press, 2005), pp. 5-7.
(42) Elsewhere he states, slightly less controversially, that the "human tsaddiq is an earthly embodiment of the ninth sefirah or the tsaddiq figure within God" (A. Green, A Guide to the Zohar, p. 92).
(43) For example, D. Matt, Zohar, p. 1:341.
(44) Polemics against the incarnationalism found in the most extreme expressions of contemporary Lubavitch messianism mes·si·a·nism
1. Belief in a messiah.
2. Belief that a particular cause or movement is destined to triumph or save the world.
3. Zealous devotion to a leader, cause, or movement. should take heed. An extensive theoretical discussion of incarnation in the Jewish mystical tradition can be found most recently in E. R. Wolfson, Language, Eros, Being: Kabbalistic Hermeneutics and Poetic Imagination (New York: Fordham University Press The Fordham University Press is a publishing house, a division of Fordham University, that publishes primarily in the humanities and the social sciences. Fordham University Press was established in 1907 and is headquartered in the Canisius Hall building in the Rose Hill Campus of , 2005), pp. 190-260.
(45) For a representative sample, see M. Idel, "The Concept of the Torah in Heikhalot Literature and Its Metamorphoses in Kabbalah," Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 1 (1981): 23-84; M. Idel, Kabbalah: New Perspectives (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1988), pp. 112-172; M. Idel, "Infinities of Torah in Kabbalah," in Midrash and Literature, ed. G. H. Hartman and S. Budick (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1986), pp. 141-157; Y. Liebes, "'De Natura Dei'; on the Development of the Jewish Myth," in Studies in Jewish Myth and Jewish Messianism, (trans. B. Stein; Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1993), pp. 1-64, 151-169; E. R. Wolfson, "The Image of Jacob Engraved Upon the Throne of Glory: Further Considerations in the Esoteric Theology of Hasidei Ashkenaz," in [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]: Studies in Kabbalistic Literature and Jewish Philosophy, ed. M. Oron and A. Goldreich (Heb.; Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1994); E. R. Wolfson, "Female Imaging of the Torah: From Literary Metaphor to Religious Symbol," in From Ancient Israel to Modern Judaism: Intellect in Quest of Understanding: Essays in Honor of Marvin Fox, ed. J. Neusner and E. S. Frerichs (Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1989), pp. 2:271-307; E. R. Wolfson, "Circumcision, Vision of God, and Textual Interpretation: From Midrashic Trope to Mystical Symbol," History of Religions 27 (1986-1987): 189-215.
(46) This kind of commentary makes plain that Green is not only providing a window onto the Zohar but is standing in the position of religious leader, placing the Zohar within the larger framework of Jewish history as a whole.
(47) On the possible attractiveness of Christian asceticism asceticism (əsĕt`ĭsĭzəm), rejection of bodily pleasures through sustained self-denial and self-mortification, with the objective of strengthening spiritual life. to the kabbalists see J. F. Baer, "The Historical Background of the Raya Mehemna," [??]ion 5:1 (1939): 1-44.
(48) See A. Green, "Shekhinah, the Virgin Mary, and the Song of Songs," AJS AJS American Journal of Sociology
AJS American Judicature Society
AJS American Journal of Surgery
AJS Association for Jewish Studies
AJS Americans for Job Security
AJS Administration of Justice Studies
AJS America-Japan Society
AJS AJ Stevens Review 26:1 (April 2002): 1-52; P. Schafer, Mirror of His Beauty: Feminine Images of God from the Bible to the Early Kabbalah (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2002).
(49) A. Green, Devotion and Commandment: The Faith of Abraham in the Hasidic Imagination (Cincinnati, Ohio: Hebrew Union College The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (also known as HUC, HUC-JIR, and The College-Institute) is the oldest Jewish seminary in the New World and the main seminary for training rabbis, cantors, educators and communal workers in Reform Judaism. Press, 1989).
(50.) See A. Green, A Guide to the Zohar, pp. 129-133, 137-144. Moshe Idel has recently argued for the centrality of praxis in the mystical tradition. See M. Idel, Enchanted en·chant
tr.v. en·chant·ed, en·chant·ing, en·chants
1. To cast a spell over; bewitch.
2. To attract and delight; entrance. See Synonyms at charm. Chains: Techniques and Rituals in Jewish Mysticism (Los Angeles: Cherub Press, 2005), pp. 19-26, 31-41.
(51) H. T. Cohen cohen
(Hebrew: “priest”) Jewish priest descended from Zadok (a descendant of Aaron), priest at the First Temple of Jerusalem. The biblical priesthood was hereditary and male. ; translator's note to a poem by Haviva Pedaya. Online: http://www.archipelago.org/vol7-2/pedaya.htm.
(52) The third volume of the translation came to press too late to be treated adequately for this review.
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC), located in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia, is the only seminary affiliated with Reconstructionist Judaism.