By Nathan Wolski
An advent to the Zohar, the crowning paintings of medieval Kabbalah. contains unique translations and research.
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Additional info for A Journey into the Zohar: An Introduction to the Book of Radiance
Focusing on the opening word of the verse, be-ha’alotekha, which means when you light or ignite, although more literally might be rendered, when you elevate, the rabbis have God remark: “I only told you to kindle lamps in order to elevate you” (15:7). Where the rabbis insist that God has no need for humans to provide Him with light, and that the entire ritual is aimed at facilitating human spiritual elevation, the Zohar adopts a different view entirely. Not only does God need to be ignited, as it were, by human beings, but the elevation referred to in the verse is of a more “real” nature than that intimated by the rabbis.
4:22), and it is written, She will be a cure for your body, a tonic (shikui) for your bones (Prov. 3:8). ” We shall return once again to the Torah’s capacity to arouse mystical consciousness in our exploration of Torah and wine later (see chapter 5). Back to our narrative: In the continuation of his opening exhortation of the Torah, Rabbi El’azar makes explicit the apparent chasm between the stories found in the Torah and the view of the Torah as supernal and holy: In the Mountains of Kurdistan 33 Come and see: A king of flesh and blood—it is not dignified for him to speak of common matters, all the more so to write them.
The Zohar has its own unique cadence and rhythm, a special feel, which one fears is lost in translation. I am reminded of Cervantes’ wonderful observation in Don Quixote, another and in some sense similar Spanish book of journeys, where el caballero andante, the wandering knight, beautifully captures our problem: It seems to me that translating from one language to another . . 21 The difficulties in translating the Zohar are made all the more acute in light of the wonderful English translation that is now emerging, volume by volume, by Daniel C.