The Zohar, or "Splendour," is widely regarded as the preeminent work in the Kabbalah.
Title page of the Zohar, print of 1597

Italian version

The Zohar offers a mystical interpretation of the Torah (the five books of Moses or Pentateuch), written in both medieval Aramaic and Hebrew. The text delves into multifaceted aspects such as the essence of God, the universe’s structure and origin, the nature of the soul, and other related topics. It is not a book per se but an amalgamation of various texts that incorporate scriptural exegesis, theology, and mysticism.

The origins of the Zohar

Gershom Scholem [1] posits that most of the Zohar was composed in a pseudo-epigraphic style of Aramaic, spoken in Israel during the early centuries of the Roman period. Its initial emergence can be traced back to the 13th centu+ry in Spain when it was published by the Jewish author Moses De Leon. However, some scholars contend that certain segments of the Zohar date back to the Talmudic era. De Leon attributes his work to Shimon bar Yoḥai, a rabbi from the 2nd century. According to legend, Rabbi Shimon took refuge in a cave for thirteen years during the Roman persecution. During this time, he studied Torah with his son Elazar and claimed he was inspired to write the Zohar by the prophet Elijah.

Authorship of the Zohar

Over time, the Jewish community came to accept the claims of Moses de Leon regarding the authenticity of the Zohar as an ancient mysticism text from the second century. However, specific Italian communities and small groups have not recognised its validity. One objection raised by those who doubted the authenticity of the Zohar was the absence of references to the work in Jewish literature. Proponents of the text countered this by noting that Shimon b. Yoḥai did not document his teachings in written form but instead transmitted them orally to his disciples, who in turn passed them on to their followers until the doctrines were eventually compiled in the Zohar.

The Zohar in modern Jewish thought

Currently, a significant number of Orthodox Jews and ultra-Orthodox, also known as Haredim, hold the belief that the teachings of Kabbalah have been passed down from teacher to student in an unbroken chain that dates back to the biblical era and culminates in the writing of Shimon bar Yoḥai. They embrace the notion that these teachings are, in essence, God’s revelation to the likes of the patriarch Abraham, Moses, and other ancient figures. The claim is that these teachings were never printed and made public until the time of the medieval redaction of the Zohar. Some proponents of this tradition support the claim that Rabbi Shimon wrote that the Zohar’s cover-up would end precisely 1200 years after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple was destroyed in AD 70, and before revealing the Zohar in 1270, Moses de Leon discovered the manuscripts in a cave in Israel.

Within modern Orthodox Judaism, the aforementioned assertion is deemed to be unsophisticated. While some Orthodox Jews acknowledge that the Zohar was composed in the Middle Ages by Moses de Leon, its reliance on earlier materials implies that it may be deemed authentic but not necessarily authoritative or free of inaccuracies, as others within the Orthodox community may posit.

In non-Orthodox Judaism, there is a general consensus regarding the findings of historical and scholarly studies on the Zohar and other kabbalistic texts. However, the prevailing view about the Zohar remains scepticism, as it is widely regarded as a pseudo-epigraphic and apocryphal work. Nevertheless, certain aspects of the text are considered significant in contemporary Judaism. In recent years, the Orthodox community has shown an increasing interest in non-Orthodox perspectives on the matter.

Topics for later dating

The discovery of the Zohar by Moses de Leon, a single individual, and its references to events of the post-Talmudic era, have sparked inquiries into its authorship. One anecdote recounts that following de Leon’s passing, a wealthy resident of Ávila named Joseph made a generous offer to de Leon’s widow, who was left without financial support, for the original manuscripts. She then admitted that her husband was the author and that she had asked him several times why he had attributed the work to another, to which he replied that ascribing similar doctrines to a man of miracles like Shimon b. Yoḥai would have been a lucrative source of income.

Specific objections have been identified regarding attributing the Zohar to Shimon b. Yoḥai. These objections are presented here for examination:

  1. If Shimon b. Yoḥai had authored the Zohar, it would likely have been referenced within the Talmud, as was the case with other literary works from the Talmudic period.
  2. The Zohar references the names of rabbis who lived after Shimon.
  3. If Shimon b. Yoḥai, possessing divine insight into the meanings of the precepts, was considered the progenitor of the Kabbalah, it would be expected that his rulings on Jewish law would have been incorporated into the Talmud. However, this did not come to pass.
  4. If the Kabbalah were considered a revealed doctrine, it would follow that there would be no discrepancies in interpretation among Kabbalists regarding the mystical explanation of the precepts.

There exist other multiple arguments against the authenticity of the Zohar. Firstly, it has been observed that the text misquotes specific scripture passages. Secondly, there are misunderstandings of the Talmud present within the text. Additionally, ritual ordinances that were issued by rabbinic authorities at a later date are included in the Zohar. Further, the text mentions the crusades against Muslims, which did not exist in the 2nd century. The author also uses the Portuguese term “esnoga” for “synagogue”, which is deemed peculiar. Finally, the Zohar provides a mystical explanation of the vowel points of the Hebrew language that were introduced well after the Talmudic period.

Scholem’s argument regarding the authorship of the Zohar posits that de Leon is the likely author. Scholem cites numerous errors in Aramaic grammar, suspicious traces of Spanish stylistic patterns, and the author’s apparent lack of knowledge of the land of Israel to support this claim. Other scholars have also suggested that de Leon and others may have contributed to the Zohar’s creation as part of a mystical school. Under this theory, the Zohar was born out of the collective efforts of this school rather than solely de Leon’s work. Another perspective on the Zohar’s authorship suggests that it was transmitted orally, much like the Talmud, before being transcribed and adapted to suit changing historical conditions. In this view, Shimon bar Yoḥai did not write the Zohar, but it was a work inspired by his principles.

Arguments for an earlier dating

Some authors reject Scholem’s theses and present counterarguments:

  1. Several statements in Rishonim [2] texts refer to unknown Midrashim [3]. Some have suggested that these are allusions to the Zohar.
  2. It is deemed implausible that Moses de Leon could have authored a work as extensive as the Zohar, comprising 1700 pages, within a mere six-year timeframe, as contended by Scholem.
  3. Notable stylistic differences become apparent upon comparing Zohar with de Leon’s other works. Despite utilising his manuscript of the Zohar, a number of concepts in his other works directly contradict those discussed therein.
  4. The final redaction of numerous Midrash texts is believed to have occurred during the Gaonim period. Specific terminologies used in the Zohar that were anachronistic could be traced back to that period.
  5. Upon examining the Zohar, Scholem identified a limited number of anomalies, including two anachronistic terms and nine instances of ungrammatical word usage. These findings suggest that the majority of the text was composed accurately and that only a tiny portion was added in a later period (namely, during the Gaonim period).
  6. Specific terms that may be difficult to comprehend can be attributed to acronyms or codes. This practice can be observed in a variety of ancient manuscripts.
  7. The borrowing of medieval commentaries can be easily explained. In many cases, a marginal note in a text is later incorporated into the central portion of the text in subsequent copies. The Talmud itself contains additions from the Gaonim period due to this practice.
  8. There exists an ancient manuscript that refers to a book titled Sod Gadol (The Great Secret). It appears that this book may, in fact, be the Zohar itself.

With regards to the absence of any mention of the land of Israel within the Zohar, Scholem suggests that this is due to the text’s numerous references to the city of Kaputkia, which is situated in Turkey rather than Israel. However, Reuvein Margolies [4], a Jewish scholar, puts forth an alternative viewpoint in one of his publications, asserting that an ancient Israeli burial site does actually mention a village by the name of Kaputkia. Furthermore, the Zohar notes explicitly that this village is located a day’s walk away from the city of Lod, which is a factual assertion. This indicates that the author of the Zohar knew about Israel’s geography. Margolies also points out numerous instances in which the views expressed within the text align with those found within the Tannaim [5] literature (such as the Midrashim or the two Talmuds) and quotes several statements made by Maimonides that could only have been derived from a text similar to the Zohar.

Paradise and biblical exegesis

The Zohar postulates the existence of four distinct types of biblical exegesis, namely Peshat (literal sense), Remez (figurative), Derash (explanatory/anagogic), and Sod (esoteric). The initial letters of these terms form the word “Pardes,” which subsequently became synonymous with the fourfold meaning of which the esoteric interpretation is considered the highest.

The mystical allegory of the Zohar is grounded in the fundamental principle that all observable phenomena, including natural occurrences, possess both an exoteric and esoteric reality. This principle is a logical consequence of the Zohar doctrine, which posits that the human intellect can perceive the ultimate significance in every event and thereby ascend to the underlying cause of all causes.

The apparent gap between the mystical-interpretative freedom with which the kabbalistic movement approaches texts considered prophetic and the stability of the written tradition, which in the expression of Jewish orthodoxy refers to divine dictate, is widely debated. However, for the purposes of this discussion, we will limit ourselves to a few key points, and the following consideration effectively eliminates the gap between the two representations: The prophet is not merely a bearer of the message but rather an interpreter. The prophet translates an incomprehensible language, which pre-exists human realisation, into a more generally understandable form. This allows the listener to derive multiple layers of meaning based on their receptive abilities, which is precisely the goal of the speculative mysticism of Kabbalah.

The influence on Christian mysticism

Numerous Christian scholars exhibited a deep interest in the Zohar, including notable figures such as Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola [6], Johann Reuchlin [7], and Egidio da Viterbo [8]. They viewed the book as evidence of the veracity of Christianity, citing certain teachings in the Zohar that bore a resemblance to Christian dogma. Specifically, the fall and redemption of man and the doctrine of the Trinity were expressed in the Zohar as follows:

The Ancient of Days has three heads. He reveals himself through three archetypes, the Three, which are One. He is therefore symbolised by the number three. They manifest themselves from each other: first, Wisdom, secret and hidden; above the Ancient; and above him the Unknowable. Nobody knows what He contains. He is beyond concepts. Man calls it ‘Non-Being’ (Ain).

op. cit., III, 288b

Even though these and similar doctrines existed in the Zohar long before Christianity, Christian scholars were keen to identify similarities and promote the Zohar as evidence of the truth of their faith. In the wake of the publication of the Mantuan code in 1558 and the Cremona’s code in 1590, appendices on the nature of the soul were also translated. Additionally, Knorr von Rosenroth’s [10] translation of the most significant fragments of the Zohar into Latin remains a substantial contribution to this body of work.

The text of the Zohar

The Zohar’s text is a compilation of books that explore various subjects, primarily commentaries on the Torah and writings that delve into the descent of the Absolute into manifestation. Most texts contain the musings of Shimon bar Yoḥai and his disciples, along with some anonymous sections. Rather than being a traditional book, it is a collection of works that share a single title. The original printing consisted of five volumes, which included the following sections:

Zohar (central part)

The Zohar’s central portion comprises chapters organised by the weekly order of the Torah. This section essentially presents a kabbalistic interpretation of the Torah, taking the form of a Midrash.

Sifra di-Ẓeni’uta (The Book of Concealment)

The Sifra di-Ẓeni’uta presents a somewhat enigmatic exposition of Negative Existence (Ain), which serves as the threshold between the infinite and the finite, unity and multiplicity, and so forth.

Idra Rabba (Greater Assembly)

The Idra Rabba contains a divinity disclosure embodied in the form of Adam Kadmon [10], also known as the Primordial Man.

Idra Zuta (Lesser Assembly)

The Idra Zuta recounts the passing of Shimon bar Yoḥai and his final words to his disciples.

Heikhalot (The Palaces)

The Heikhalot text describes the seven palaces of the Garden of Eden, which are believed to be the final destination of pure souls after their physical passing. Additionally, this text includes a detailed discourse on angelology and an exposé on the various abodes of hell. Its extended version provides an in-depth exploration of these topics.

Raza de-Razin (The Secret of Secrets)

Raza de-Razin is an anonymous treatise on physiognomy and palmistry.

Sava de-Mishpatim (Discourse of the Old man)

In Sava de-Mishpatim, a kabbalist who is both elderly and wise disguises himself as a humbled donkey handler and shares his knowledge on the theory of the soul through well-crafted dissertations.

Yanuka (The Child)

A child prodigy imparts profound insights on the significance of meals and hand washing, among other topics, to his peers while at his mother’s home.

Rav Metivta (The head of the Academy)

Rav Metivta chronicles the visionary expedition of Shimon bar Yoḥai and his disciples to the Garden of Eden. There, they gain profound insights into the mysteries of the coming world from the erudite head of the celestial academy.

Kav ha-Middah (The Standard of measure)

Shimon bar Yoḥai’s detailed explanation to his son about divine emanation.

Sitrei Otiyyot (The Secrets of the Letters)

A discourse by Shimon bar Yoḥai concerning the letters comprising the divine Name and the enigmas surrounding the emanations.

Matnitin – Tosefta (Teachings – Additions)

The Matnitin and Tosefta are brief and often ambiguous works that serve to encapsulate the concept of the emanation of the primordial light as well as other teachings found within the Zohar.

Sitrei Torah (The Secrets of the Torah)

Sitrei Torah provides an allegorical elucidation of Torah verses, delving into the mysteries of the soul and exploring the theory of emanation.

Midrash ha-Ne’lam (The Hidden Midrash)

Midrash ha-Ne’lam constitutes a recent supplementation to the corpus of the Zohar, featuring discussions about the topics of creation, soul, world to come, and emanations.

Ta Ḥazei (Come and See)

Ta Ḥazei is an interpretation of Genesis in short commentaries.

Ra’aya Meheimna (The Faithful Shepherd)

During a visionary journey, Shimon bar Yoḥai and his followers encounter Moses, the “faithful shepherd,” who instructs them on the mysteries of the Ten Commandments.

Tikkunei Zohar (Observations on the Zohar)

Tikkunei Zohar is a self-contained text that comprises no less than 70 interpretations of the opening word of Genesis (Bereshit, at the beginning) and includes sections devoted to the mysteries of vowel points and other related topics.


  1. Quote\Unquote: “”The Zohar assumes four types of biblical exegesis: Peshat (literal sense), Remez (figurative), Derash (explanatory/anagogical) and Sod (esoteric). The initial letters of the words (P, R, D, S) form the word Pardes (paradise), which became the designation for the fourfold meaning of which the esoteric is the highest.””

    The Zohar did not have the least bit of a clue how to learn פרדס. To weave a garment requires warp and opposing weft threads. דרוש ופשט a pair linked to Aggadic research. רמז וסוד a pair linked to halachic research in the Talmud. The author of the Zohar did not understand who these two contrasting “threads” wove the “fabric” of the Talmud. Therefore its impossible that Shemone Bar Yochai wrote the Zohar. All the rabbis across the Mishna and Gemara obeyed the kabbala of Rabbi Akiva’s פרדס interpretation of the Oral Torah revealed at Horev, forty days have Israel declared to Aaron, “Moshe has died. Who will teach us the rest of the Torah?”

    1. Thanks for the contribution, but I sincerely don’t understand the connection between my words you quoted and your reply. And besides, what does פרדס mean in this context?

  2. The kabbala of פרדס defines, according to Rabbi Akiva, the k’vanna of the Oral Torah logic system which Moshe the prophet Orally heard at Horev – 40 days after the golden calf, wherein Israel declared to Aaron: Moshe has died, who will teach us the rest of the Torah?! The Zohar with its theory of emanations, an idea that traces back to Plato. Had Shimon Bar Yochai written the Zohar, it would not have followed ancient Greek philosophy, but instead focused upon the פרדס kabbala which every rabbi in the pages of both the Yerushalmi and Bavli followed.

    1. That’s interesting. May I presume then that the authentic Kabbalah only refers to Ma’ase Bereshith and Ma’ase Merkaba, or haggada and halakhah, as you stated? If so, how does Talmudic tradition face the interpretations that emerged in Middle-Age, Lurianic kabbalah, etc.? I’d be glad if you could suggest a few texts (in English) about this topic.

      1. Yom HaDin upon the brit: viewed in the context of history. טוב

        The 13th Century exposed the chaos and moral debauchery of Western European society. Still, a general rule applies to this very day, when a people or nation falls into Civil War, foreign nations jump to intervene. Rabbeinu Yonah, the cousin of the Ramban, led the condemnation which denounced the Rambam code. In 1202 Rabbi Isaac ha-Baḥur spoke direct with the Rambam, 2 years before he died, and denounced that code. The Rambam “redefinition” of the meaning of halacha, caused an outcry which did not limit their denunciation to the Guide for the Perplexed and the Sefer ha-Madda, as many modern revisionist historians suggest.

        Samuel David Luzzatto, (1800 -1865), denounced assimilated Rambam, Ibn Ezra, and Spinoza based upon his opposition to Greek philosophy. He likewise challenged the authenticity of the Zohar because he held that in the era of the Mishna, pilpul scholarship, which studies the grammar of vowels and accents, had yet developed. The Zohar speaks on grammar\pilpul. Nonetheless, Luzzatto did not link Aristotelian philosophy to the Yad HaChazakah. Yet Heinrich Graetz perceived that Luzzatto regarded nearly every word of Maimonides as un-Jewish and heretical, as does this author.

        In 1233 under the direction of Solomon ben Abraham of Montpellier, a ban – issued against the works of the Rambam. Rabbeinu Yonah favored the public burnings of his works in that same year. Jewish refugees could only enforce this action with Church and Government support. In 1242 the Pope and the king of France ordered the destruction of 24 cartloads of Talmudic manuscripts! The Rambam Civil War adversely impacted all Jewish exile communities across Western Europe. The ensuing population transfer of Jewish refugee populations from Western to Eastern Europe came as a direct consequence of Jewish chaos and anarchy.

        In 1282, John Peckham, the Archbishop of Canterbury, closed all synagogues in his diocese. English King Edward I in 1290, issued the Edict of Expulsion. The expulsion edict remained in force for the rest of the Middle Ages. In 1298 came the Rintfleisch massacres, 8 years before the expulsion of all Jews in France. This, the first mass pogrom in Germany following the first Crusade catastrophe.

        During these dark times, Goyim propagated and promoted Blood libels, comparable to flies attracted to fresh manure. The mysterious death of Werner of Oberwesel gave Goyim the excuse to accuse Jews of ritual murder. These barbarians believed that Jews used Xtian blood to make our Pesach matza. The butcher, “Lord Rindtfleisch”, led a bloody series of pogroms which resulted in the destruction of 146 communities, and the violent murder of some 20,000 Yidden. The cities where these pogroms occurred, King Albert I imposed fines upon the refugee survivors, and compelled them to pay for the resultant damages.

        The Rambam’s redefinition of halacha, followed by the victory of his supporters in that tragic Civil War, resulted in spiritual disaster. Jews no longer learned how to da’aven, using the Talmud as their spiritual guide. This set the stage for the mystic kabbala era that immediately ensued following the destruction of the Rashi\Tosafot schools in France and Germany. The Zohar and Ari kabbala produced the false messiah movements, Chassidut, and likewise set the stage for Reform Judaism. All g’lut Jewry ceased to da’aven with k’vanna; prayer replaced tefilla. Yidden lost all knowledge of how to dedicate tohor middot דאורייתא ודרבנן to HaShem. The chosen Cohen nation altogether ceased doing avodat HaShem. Then came the Shoah.

      2. Tiqqun Ha’O’lam. Building the 3rd Temple. The mitzva dedication which defines the k’vanna of the anointing of the bnai brit Cohen nation — as Moshiach.

        Alchemy – a philosophical attempt to rationally understand natural properties found within nature. Also referred to as “natural science”, this study dominated the best minds in countries from China to Europe. According to René Descartes’, a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist, the inventor of analytical geometry. His philosophy classified “reality” into a metaphysical mind–body dualism. He theorized two types of substances, which he called – matter and mind. According to his philosophy, Physical “matter” qualifies as deterministic and natural—and so belongs to natural philosophy. Whereas everything that occurs within the “mind” exists as conscious, personal choices; and therefore non-natural. Consequently Descartes excluded human thought, dreams, and visions – as processes outside the domain of “natural science”.

        Plato, the Stoics, and even later Gnostic speculations favored ‘a Demiurge’; an artisan-like figure responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe. This concept attempts to degrade the monotheistic Biblical Creator of the Universe. The Gnostic idea of ‘the demiurge’, qualifies as an interpretation which postulates the lower status of the Biblical God within the Genesis creation story. This ‘demiurge’, an inferior lesser God, fashioned the universe in obedience to the command of some ‘other’ all powerful God.

        Gnostic ideology reflects an idea, something akin to a bi-polar dualism. It views the material universe as evil, while the non-material world as good. The Gnostic notions about the evil nature of the demiurge, and the Pauline concept of “Original Sin”, both theologies piggyback the need for a some messiac figure to save man-kind from sin. The demiurge creator of the physical world, closely compares to the Xtian mythology of the fallen Angel Satan. The Church leadership during the Dark Ages rejected the Gnostic Gospels, they condemned Gnosticism as a heretical theology of messiah Jesus.

        But both the Pauline ‘fall of Man’ and the Gnostic ‘Demiurge’, qualify as teleological theologies; physico-theological, or argument from design, or intelligent design etc arguments. These postulations, their conjecture rhetoric attempts to interpret the Biblical Creation of the Universe story, and the pressing need of ‘fallen Man’ for some divine savior\redeemer. All the Gospel stories depict the sin-less nature of messiah Jesus. This divine messiah, He saves the human race from the sin of Adam who ate from the Tree of Good and Evil, and consequently brought the curse of death upon all humanity. The sacrifice of sin-less Jesus serves to atone for the inherited sin: the racial humanity of Man. Race, comparable to the multitude of spoken languages, forever divides Man against himself.

        The alchemy expressed in Aristotle’s philosophy, the latter offers 4 explanations which attempt to contain the question “Why” concerning the Creation of the Universe – divided into a so-called Magnum opus: Material, Formal, Efficient, and Final ((Causes)). These 4 “causes” compare, so to speak, to the theory of Gravity, and its influence and impact upon physical matter. The ancient attempts to classify motion compares to debates over evolution in modern day parlance. About as useful as tits on a boar hog; on par with the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial – a lot of highfalutin hogwash which accomplished absolutely nothing.

        Classic alchemy practiced during the dark and middle ages sought to transmute an inferior substance into a valuable substance. This “science” became known as chrysopoeia, the search for the philosopher’s stone – meaning the artificial production of gold. This search for the holy grail\philosopher’s stone also included attempts to discover elixirs of immortality – panacea cures for all diseases.

        Jewish alchemy views mitzvot as something which surpasses the value of gold. Hence the secret פרדס kabbala taught by Rabbi Akiva wherein he explained the revelation of the Oral Torah revelation to Moshe at Horev; the chrysopoeia of rabbinic Judaism seeks to transmute rabbinic mitzvot unto Torah mitzvot. The kabbala taught by virtually all the prophets of Israel centered itself upon defining the k’vanna of tefillah, as expressed through the Shemone Esrei.

        This alchemy, also known as Tiqqun Ha’O’lam seeks to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem – a mitzva which the anoited Moshiach achieves. The alchemy of this esoteric concept of faith, transmutes wood and stone used to build the Temple of Solomon —– unto righteous\tohor halachic rulings which establish the diplomacy of justice among and between the Jewish people within the borders of our homeland. Expressed through lateral common law courtrooms based upon the model of the Great Sanhedrin; how these halachic precedents define the k’vanna of each and every Mishna. To likewise affix, through wisdom, that defined Mishna to a specific blessing within the language of the prophetic Shemone Esrei. This secret wisdom requires knowledge of how to learn the k’vanna of esoteric Aggadita and Midrashic stories – wherein students of the Talmud affix prophetic mussar as the defining k’vanna of halachic mitzvot.

  3. Positive Time Oriented Commandments: The Rif halachic commentary to ראש השנה

    As the blowing of the shofar on Yom HaDin upon the Brit employs 3 basic notes: takeah, truah, and sha’varim, in like as similar manner the תרי”ג commandments have 3 fundamental branches: positive, negative, and positive time oriented commandments. My chief criticism of Talmudic scholarship made by the era of Reshonim, which includes the Zohar, their abysmal failure to address how the Talmud transmutes rabbinic halachot unto positive time oriented Torah Commandments, carried out through the mitzva of tefilla.

    Remember my first year in Yeshiva, when I requested a shiur on the Siddur and the inability of those rabbis and Torah educated members of the Shul to explain the 42 letter Divine Name and other basic fundamentals with any rational comprehension of “Why”? The mystic chassidic works on the Siddur speak in the language of gobbledygook, which compares to me speaking the language of dog – it evokes laughter, but not respect from my family.

    Then came Rabbi Aaron Nemuraskii, he integrated Talmudic scholarship as the basis by which to interpret the k’vanna of the positive time oriented Siddur. Repeatedly he emphasized to me, just as the Gemara stives to interpret the k’vanna of the Mishna, post sealing of the Sha’s Bavli scholarship should study the Talmud to interpret the k’vanna of the Shemone Esrei, the kre’a shma, the relationship between Hallel to the Pesukei dezimra, the inverse order of the Shabbat Musaf tefilla compared to the distinction in k’vanna between saying the kre’a shma in the morning to the evening – learned in turn, from acceptance of the blessings and curses of the Torah. Rabbi Nemuraskii repeated over and again: mitzvot learn from other mitzvot, like metal sharpens metal.

    The Reshon p’shat schools, other than Rashi’s Chumash commentary, tends to isolate subjects rather than integrate their p’shat specific subjects to a comprehensive Big Picture idea. Rav Aaron by sharp contrast he stood Yiddishkeit upon two legs: Bavli & Siddur. Scholarship which failed to unify Talmudic wisdom together with Siddur k’vanna, Rav Aaron questioned the validity of any such “scholarship/research”. Avodat HaShem: first and foremost, accomplished through the mitzva דאורייתא of tefilla. As the commandment of the Red Heifer limits korbanot avodat HaShem, in like and similar vein, tefilla demands the dedication of tohor middot. Rav Aaron did not cry over spilled milk. We don’t have the ashes of the Red Heifer, therefore we all live our lives condemned to tuma. Bunk, complete and utter narishkeit; a losers’ excuse as to why he lost the game!

    Postive time oriented commandments require the dedication unto HaShem of Torah and Talmudic defined tohor middot. Tefilla as a Torah commandment does not depend upon sacred wood and stone in order to worship God. By the terms of the brit faith, the Spirit of HaShem (think blowing the Shofar) lives within our hearts. Transmuting Talmudic halachot as the definition of a given Mishna; affixing that given Mishna to a designated blessing within the Shemone Esrei kabbala, defines the substance and heart of all Talmudic scholarship from Rabbi Akiva to the present day!

    Halachic debates over p’sok halacha, it compares to the frumkeit: up turned nose of holier than thou. Unlike the opinion of Descartes philosophy, the heart and soul of all Yiddishkeit hinges upon the k’vanna of the dedication of tohor middot through the mitzva of tefilla. HaShem. We call to judge the k’vanna of our heartfelt dedications: like as happened in the story of Cain and Abel. If thereafter we happen by chance to accomplish and keep physical halachot – Yofee. But halachic observance of mitzvot, far from the main event in Torah faith. If a Jew presented an external picture of being totally secular, barring murder or making public desecration of the Torah … but in tefilla that “secular Jew” dedicated tohor positive time oriented halachic determinations of the k’vanna of a specific Mishna, joined with Aggadic or Midrashic p’shat of prophetic mussar, then that Jew qualifies as a very righteous Torah observant Yid – no body the wiser other than HaShem alone.

    Not the ritual observance of halachot which makes a Jew faithful and righteous. Rather the dedication of tohor – Torah NaCH Talmud and Midrash defined middot – unto HaShem as a Duty of the Heart wherein HaShem judges the faith of all Yidden on Yom HaDin upon the Brit. Contrast this judgment of all Yiddishkeit with this informative piece of modern scholarship:
    ZOHAR (called also in the earlier literature Midrash ha-Zohar and Midrash de-Rabbi Shim’on ben Yoḥai):
    By: Joseph Jacobs, Isaac Broydé

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