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Cheryl Glover
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 The 72 Names of God

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Zohar - Vol 1-23 (EN, HC)     1 This translation is published by Kabbalah Publishing.

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   English Zohar 23 volumes Domestic US

ISBN  1-57189-239-7

The Zohar is the central book of Kabbalah, a Jewish mystical tradition which also has Christian and occult offshoots. But it is more than that, and it is possible to be nourished by the Zohar without being interested in Kabbalah or deeply knowledgeable about Judaism.

There is a lot of literature on the Zohar and there are many experts.

For example, Kolel, The Adult Centre for  Liberal Jewish Learning states:

http://www.kolel.org/zohar/intro.html

"The word zohar is Hebrew for "radiance" or "splendour" or perhaps "enlightenment". The Zohar, the book, is a long work -- at least three large volumes, more than a dozen when a commentary is included. It is a kind of midrash, an imaginative commentary on the Torah, in which any verse or word can inspire pages of teachings and stories. It has also been called the first modern novel, because its interpretations of the Torah are placed in the mouths of characters, a circle of rabbis, and interspersed with stories about the rabbis and their travels and adventures.

The language of the Zohar is not the Hebrew of the Bible and most Jewish books, but a simple form of Aramaic, the language of the Talmud. The grammar is iffy, and the vocabulary is mixed with medieval Hebrew and occasionally Spanish, which have helped academic scholars make their case that the Zohar was written in Spain, where it first became known, in the late 1200s. Traditional Kabbalists, nevertheless, believe that it was written more than a thousand years earlier, by the rabbis mentioned in it, whose names are known from the Mishnah and Talmud.

Since its first appearance in Spain the Zohar has been associated with a rabbi named Moshe de Leon. Skeptics in his own time, and scholars more recently, have considered him to be the author. A more recent theory, developed by Yehudah Liebes, helps to make sense of the disagreements and divergent points of view found in the Zohar. The theory is that de Leon belonged to a fellowship of Kabbalists, who wrote the Zohar together as a literary version of their own adventures and Torah discussions.

The Zohar circulated at first in manuscripts, with no fixed order; it was finally arranged according to the weekly portions of the Torah and put into print toward the end of the 1500s. Bit by bit, it had been accepted as a holy work, because it was thought to be ancient and because of the power of its dreamlike images and radical ideas. It became the central text of the Kabbalistic tradition; great Kabbalists such as the Ari (Rabbi Isaac Luria, 16th century) presented their new ideas in the form of commentaries on the Zohar. Christian and occultist students of Kabbalah celebrated it as well. By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Zohar was accepted by many Jews as a holy book on the level of the Bible and the Talmud. Its prestige declined with the wave of rationalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Still, today, the Zohar is revered in many traditional religious communities, especially among Sephardim and Hasidim. In liberal communities, more and more people are discovering the Zohar as a spiritual treasure.

The Zohar, the Book of Radiance, is revered, even feared, but rarely studied. Yet it is an exhilarating and challenging text, as compelling today as when it became known in thirteenth-century Spain.

The Kabbalistic commentators on the Zohar approach it as a work to be decoded: its symbolism needs to be translated into theological ideas. The Zohar itself invites this decoding, but, as one of the early commentators, Rabbi Shim'on Lavi, already recognized, the result of a completely successful decoding would be a constant repetition of a few key ideas, which the Zohar returns to over and over again. If the purpose of the Zohar were to teach Kabbalah, it could have been ten pages long, not thousands. Further, completely successful decoding has turned out to be impossible, so that the great commentators offer contradictory interpretations of the same passages, because the Zohar deliberately teases and frustrates the interpreter. At the same time that the Zohar works with Kabbalah, it is also undermining it, in order to take us beyond.

Kabbalah is part of the raw material which the authors of the Zohar were working with. They were steeped in its concepts and built on them. Yet they drew at least as much on the Bible; on midrashic literature; on their own physical lives and experiences. Knowing about early Kabbalah can help us to understand the Zohar, but so can knowing Scripture or, especially, being aware of our own physical and emotional being. In the words of David Greenstein, "the Zohar succeeds in reinventing Kabbalistic consciousness by restoring its connection to lived reality." "

Scanning The Zohar- Move your eyes over the text from right to left:

In Kabbalistic viewpoints everything, especially letters and words have a metaphysical content, and a Holy energy. Even if you cannot read Aramaic (few people can read this dead language which uses Hebrew letters), connecting with the Holy energy and the metaphysical code of the Zohar will bring you closer to the infinite spirit. Connecting with the Divine is the ultimate goal, the ultimate model. 

 Zohar Index, Volume 23 of the English Zohar. For information on the spiritual issues of your life.

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