ARAMAIC STUDIES Vou.l (2006): 35-52 © 2006 Sage Publications (Lxindon, Thousand Oaks, CA, and New Delhi) DOl: 10.1177/14778351060660 34 hnp://as. Hebrew and Aramaic as Languages of the Zohar*

YEHUDA LIEBES (translated by Daphne Freedman and Ada Rapoport-Albert) The Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies, Faculty of Humanities, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Abstract Apart from a few Hebrew sections, most of the Zohar is written in a unique language: an idiosyncratic Aramaic that cannot be classified within the standard division of Aramaic dialects and which was never a spoken language. On these grounds the scholarly literature has labelled it ‘artificial’. The present article challenges this label, arguing that the Aramaic of the Zohar is completely natural. Aramaic was traditionally used for mystical purposes, and the Zohar’s preference for this language as the best vehicle for advancing its own mystical purpose has been vindicated by the work’s quality and lasting effect. Keywords: Hebrew, Aramaic, Zohar, Kabbalah, mysticism *

This is the English version of a Hebrew lecture, delivered to the plenum of the Israeli Academy of the Hebrew Language on 29 November 2004, and adapted from an earlier seminar paper, originally presented by the author to the international Zohar research group of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Jerusalem on 7 May 1999. It is due to be published in the original Hebrew in the Records of the Academy of the Hebrew Language. We are grateful to the author for allowing us to publish the English version of the lecture in advance of its publication in Hebrew.

Aramaic Studies 4.1 (2006) The words of Isaiah, ‘O Lord our God, other Lords but thee have been our masters, but thee alone do we invoke by name’ (Isa. 26.13), were interpreted by the Zohar (II, 9a) to mean that in exile the forces of evil have dominion over the Jewish people and only a remembrance of God remains with them, namely, the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet,’ alluded to by the word thee.’^ Language therefore comprises the whole world of the Zohar and anyone who wishes to understand the Zohar must begin by studying its language in depth. Except for a few Hebrew pages, the Zohar is written in Aramaic.^ According to the previous generation of scholars, this Aramaic is artificial because it was not the author’s natural language or the language spoken in his environment. This language was invented, they believed, in order to create the impression that the Zohar was not written when Aramaic was no longer a living language, in medieval Spain where the author lived, but in Palestine at the time of the tannaim. However, the evident artificiality of his Aramaic seemed to them to prove precisely the opposite, namely, that the language of the Zohar was not part of the organic development of Aramaic and did not conform to its standard classification into Westem and Eastem dialects; rather it was a product of literary sources with a recognizable substrate of medieval Hebrew, including, for example, the language of the Tibonite translators from Arabic, and betrayed the influence of other languages spoken in Europe at that time: Spanish and perhaps also Arabic. I wish to dispute the characterization of the Aramaic of the Zohar as artificial. It is at time that the Zohar was written in medieval Spain, where Aramaic was no longer a living language, and that it is as innovative in its language as in other respects.’ Nevertheless, in my opinion, zoharic Aramaic was formed as part of the natural development of an entire 1. According to the sections of the Zohar known as the Idras, the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet correspond to the restorations of the divine countenances, thirteen restorations of the Ancient of Days and nine restorations of Zeir Anpin. 2. The Hebrew word -p, meaning ^by thee’, has the numerical value of twenty-two. 3. These pages are found in the Midrash Hane’elam on Genesis {Zohar part 1 and Zohar Hadash) and in the Zohar on Exodus, on which see below. 4. See Gershom G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (Jerusalem, 1941), p. 163: ‘The Aramaic of the ZoAor is a purely artificial affair’; Isaiah Tishby, The Wisdom of the Zohar (London, 1994), I, p. 64; ‘Linguistic analysis and a comparison of the language of the Zohar with known Aramaic sources show that this Aramaic is an artificial language drawn from specific literary source material’. 5. On the creativity of the Zohar, in theory and practice, see Yehuda Liebes, ‘Zohar and Eros’, Alpaim 9 (1994), pp. 67-119 (Hebrew).

LIEBES Hebrew and Aramaic as Languages of the Zohar 37 spiritual movement in medieval Judaism.* In the Aramaic of the Zohar V^Q can detect a continuation of certain elements that existed in the spoken language but were not transmitted through normative literary sources, such as those found in the popular verse published by Yahalom and Sokoloff,” for example, the use of the root tkl, ‘to weigh’, in the metaphorical sense of to wed a woman.* It may also be appropriate to mention here the testimony of the earliest dictionary of zoharic Aramaic, attributed in one manuscript to Yehuda ben David the Pious, who was one of the last members of the zoharic movement. The author of the dictionary introduces his explanation of the zoharic term butsina dekardinuta with the words: ‘I heard from a certain Chaldean’.’ As a written language, Aramaic was still alive amongst the Spanish Jews in the Middle Ages. Those who read the Aramaic of the Talmud and the targumim did not refrain from also writing Aramaic. We find this both in their legal works and in their poetry,'” but particularly in their esoteric writings. The use of Aramaic for this purpose did not begin with the Zohar. Numerous compositions and citations from the writings of the earliest Kabbalists have been preserved in Aramaic,” and certain elements and phrases in Aramaic were incorporated into the Hebrew of the Bahir giving it its distinctive character. Magical literature was also written in part in Aramaic, thereby preserving its ancient traditions, as can be seen in the magical writings from the Cairo Genizah published by Schafer and Shaked,’^ or the Great Magical Formulary {Sidrei de Shimusha Raba), published by Scholem, who maintained that it too was written in ‘artificial Aramaic’.’^ 6. See Yehuda Liebes, ‘How the Zohar was Written’, in idem. Studies in the Zohar (Albany, 1993), pp. 85-138. 7. M. Sokoloff and J. Yahalom, Jewish Palestinian Poetry from Late Antiquity (Jerusalem, 2004 [Hebrew]). 8. See Yehuda Liebes, Ars Poetica in Sefer Yetsira (Tel Aviv, 2001 [Hebrew]), p. 316 n. 50. 9. SeeBoazHuss, ‘A Dictionary ofForeign Words in the Zohar’, ATaftZia/a/! 1 (1996), p. 174 (Hebrew). 10. See, e.g., poem 84 in Dov Jarden (ed.). The Secular Poems of Solomon benJudah Ibn Gaft/ra/(Jerusalem, 1975 [Hebrew]), pp. 155-59. 11. See Moshe Idel, “The Beginnings of the Kabbalah in North Africa? A Forgotten Document of Rabbi Yehuda ben Nisim ibn Malka’, Peamim 43 (1990), pp. 4-5 n. 4 (Hebrew). 12. Peter Schafer and Shaul Shaked, Magische Texte aus der Kairoer Geniza (Tubingen, 1994-99). 13. Gersehom Scholem, Demons Spirits and Souls (ed. Esther Liebes; Jerusalem, 2004 [Hebrew]), pp. 116-44. On p. 122 n. 25 Scholem infers that the Aramaic of this 38 A ramaic Studies 4.1 {2006) It is true that the language of the Zohar is not an organic development ofa single Aramaic dialect but absorbed elements from various sources. In this the Zohar joins a long line of illustrious works, such as the epic of Homer whose language was composed of various Greek dialects to form the Homeric dialect. The Aramaic of the Zohar has its own distinctive linguistic traits, its own grammar'” and distinct lexical characteristics.’^ Scholars have noted words that have been absorbed into the zoharic literature through misunderstandings of literary sources, such as NSpin in the sense of ‘lap’,’* xnanx, meaning ‘collection of books’,” as well as Aramaic words whose meaning was influenced by Hebrew, such as the phrase yh-‘O n’^n imsTis, ‘they accompanied him for three miles’, in an extension of the meaning of the Aramaic root =]tN, which concerns the lending of monies.’* Nevertheless, I do not consider this a sign of artificiality. Literature and culture (as well as misunderstandings) are among the sources from which most languages draw, including the most ‘living’ of languages. This is certainly true of modem Hebrew, my mother tongue and that of most of my colleagues (and who would say that we are speaking an artificial language?). Even terms that belong to the grammatical structure of the language are sometimes derived from mistaken interpretations or incorrect spellings as, for example, the modem Hebrew words ^^n, meaning ‘the most’, or m-\Db, ‘in spite of, no less so ordinary words, such as njwsb, ‘to decipher’, ]’hp)i, ‘kit bag’, ••’UO”’:’, ‘robbers’, minx, ‘Athens’, and many more. The naturalness ofa language is apparent from a synchronic description without taking its lineage into account. If a language is fluent and better adapted to the needs of its speakers than any other language, it should be considered completely natural. Everyday conversation is not treatise is not genuine from the fact that the author uses the term sm^iiJT XDV to refer to the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles rather than to Pentecost. However, in my opinion, the author intended to refer to Pentecost. See the editor’s comments and references in the same note. 14. See Menachem Zvi Kadari, A Grammar of Zoharic Aramaic (Jerusalem, 1971 [Hebrew]). 15. See Yehuda Liebes, ‘Sections ofthe Zohar Lexicon’ (PhD thesis, Jerusalem, 1976 [Hebrew]). 16. See Scholem, Major Trends, p. 389 n. 48. 17. See Yehuda Liebes, ‘The Use of Words in the Zohar’, in In Memory ofEphraim Gottlieb (Jerusalem, 1975), pp. 17-18. 18. See Scholem, Major Trends, p. 388 n. 45a. LIEBES Hebrew and Aramaic as Languages of the Zohar 39 the sole purpose of a natural language and it need not be the only vernacular used by the speaker. A natural situation is one in which several languages are used for different levels of education and culture. This was indeed the case in medieval Europe, where the language of culture and religion was Latin, which was not a spoken language, and a similar situation exists in many other cultures. The natural condition is a plurality of languages where culture and religion are conducted in a separate tongue, such as Sanskrit, Classical Arabic, Gez or Hebrew. In the Middle Ages these were living, natural idioms which did not have to be acquired in a conscious and methodical manner. At that time, we do not hear about Hebrew language studies or of any particular praise for those who knew Hebrew, as in the Jewish Diaspora today. The number of languages employed together is not limited to two. One may serve as the language spoken in the home, another as the language of secular culture, yet another as the language of prayer and another as the language of govemment, and so on. The Kabbalists of Spain did not content themselves with Spanish (or Arabic) and Hebrew but also added Aramaic. The Aramaic of the Zohar represents a genuine linguistic need and is not merely camouflage employed to give the illusion of the time and place of Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai. This pretence was unlikely to succeed, not least for the simple reason that in the time ofthe tanna Simeon bar Yohai, Hebrew was the language spoken in Palestine, not Aramaic, and the words of Simeon bar Yohai are quoted in the Mishna and the Talmud in Hebrew, the language ofthe tannaim. In my studies on Simeon bar Yohai and his companions in the Zohar, I attempted to demonstrate that the ‘narrative framework’, as it is customarily called, does not simply serve to transpose the work from its actual time and place but has a profound significance in the spiritual world of the Zohar in its own right.” So too the Aramaic language: the Zohar is written in Aramaic because the nature of the work demands it. Aramaic is the natural idiom oft the Zohar. This can be concluded both from the explicit remarks made by the Kabbalists, which reveal their attitudes to Hebrew and Aramaic, and from the function that Aramaic effectively fulfills in the Zohar. The Aramaic of the Zohar flows naturally and in several places it seems that the words should be spoken out loud to appreciate the profundity of the passage. In Hebrew translation, the Zohar sounds less 19. See Yehuda Liebes, ‘The Messiah ofthe Zohar—On Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai as a Messianic Figure’, in idem. Studies in the Zohar, pp. 1-84. 40 Aramaic Studies 4.1 (2006) assured, less natural, and a comparison of zoharic Aramaic with the Hebrew passages ofthe Zohar does not grant the Hebrew any advantage of naturalness. On the contrary, the Hebrew sounds less fluent and it is difficult and more awkward than the Aramaic, as can be seen, for example, from the unwieldy expression Q”‘2Nn WT^, ‘desiring songs’, meaning creatures that desire to sing.^” The language ofthe Hebrew sections ofthe Zohar does not in the least resemble the Hebrew of Moses de Leon, whom many consider to be the author ofthe Zohar. Nor does the Aramaic of the Zohar give the impression that it is a translation of de Leon’s Hebrew. This can be verified from a section ofthe Zohar which contains an Aramaic version of a passage written in Hebrew by Moses de Leon, which is very different from the Aramaic ofthe Zohar.^^ Aramaic, therefore, is nattiral to the Zohar. In this connection, it is worth remembering the beautiful lines written by Haim Naehman Bialik in his essay, ‘The Hebrew Book’: Even at night, her [Aramaic’s] heart did not sleep nor was her light extinguished. The classic book ofthe Kabbalah, this nocturnal vision ofthe Hebrew nation, was created in her language and her spirit. The wonder of it is that in the days ofthe Zohar the Aramaic language was already completely dead in the speech ofthe Jewish people. Perhaps for this reason it was appropriate for the mysterious, like the pale light ofthe dead moon for the dreamer. ^-^ Bialik’s words complement the Zohar’s, own perception of Aramaic, which continues a long tradition that accords the Aramaic language a dialectical role in relation to Hebrew. Bialik goes on to compare the relation between Hebrew and Aramaic to the bond between Naomi and Ruth the Moabite, who left her foreign gods to follow Naomi and remain with her (Ruth 1.16). Through savants such as Bialik this ‘daughter-inlaw’ continued to accompany even modem Hebrew and influence it with its unique qualities.” Even before the Zohar, Aramaic was accorded an intermediary status between Hebrew, the holy tongue, and all other 20. Zohar Hadash 5d, Midrash Hane’elam on Genesis. On this expression, see Liebes, Ars Poetica, p. 123 nn. 20 and 21, and p. 182 n. 35. 21. See Zohar I, 186b-87a. These pages contain additions printed in brackets whose origin is in the writings of Moses de Leon, e.g.. The Mystery ofLevirate Marriage { -no mn’n), whieh was printed at the end of his The Wise Soul (nosnn :ss]n) (Basel, 1608), § 13, f 1. 22. Haim Nahman Bialik, On Literature (miso nai) (Tel Aviv, 1959), p. 47. Dr Melila Hellner-Eshed directed my attention to this. 23. See Moshe bar Asher, ‘The Role of Aramaic in Modem Hebrew’, in The Development and Renewal ofthe Hebrew Language (Jerusalem, 1996), pp. 14-74 (Hebrew). LIEBES Hebrew and Aramaic as Languages ofthe Zohar 41 languages. Some considered Aramaic to be the first human language after the fall ofthe first man.^” Others noted vital Aramaic elements in the holy tongue.” The wamings ofthe Babylonian Geonim against the tendency to stop using the Aramaic translation ofthe Bible, considered to have been handed down at Sinai,^* which had acquired a ritual status and given its name to the language that from then on was known as ‘the language of the translation’, are well-known. At times, Aramaic was considered holy in the degree that was deemed appropriate for the time of exile, a time when the name of God was incomplete. This view can be found in the works ofthe first Kabbalists and even earlier. In their opinion, the kadish is recited in Aramaic in order to restore the name of God to completion. The honour of the deity is not well served by the fact that its defect is recognised in Hebrew, a language that is known to the angels (on which see below). According to one source, even the Tetragrammaton is at the present time written in Aramaic, since in Aramaic the verb ‘to be’ takes the form mn not T\^T\ as it does in Hebrew,^’ and for this reason it is not revealed and cannot be pronounced^* (I recollect that my teacher, the late Professor Ezekiel Kutscher, interpreted in this way the fact that in biblical Aramaic only in this root was the letter tamed fonnd instead ofthe letter jo J amongst the auxiliary letters used to form the future prefixes). The Hebrew equivalent ofthe Aramaic form ofthe Tetragrammaton is nTi\ This is a complete name whose pronunciation is not forbidden and which will be used in the 24. See b. Sanh. 38b: ‘The first man spoke Aramaic’; Abraham ibn Ezra, Safah Brurah (ed. G.H. Lipman; Fuerth, 1839), p. 2: ‘Many have claimed that the Aramaic language is primordial’. See also Midrash Peliah (Warsaw, 1895), 76b, § 166; Moshe Idel, ‘The Infant Experiment: the Search for the First Language’, in Alison P. Coudert (ed.). The Language of Adam (Wolfenbutteler Forschungen, 84; Wiesbaden, 1999), pp. 59-62; Milka Levy-Rubin ‘The Language of Creation or the Primordial Language: A Case of Cultural Polemics in Antiquity’, JJS 49.2 (1988), pp. 306-33. 25. Particularly Rabbi Yehuda ibn Koreish in his Risala (ed. Dan Becker; Tel Aviv, 1984). 26. Thus, for instance, in Sefer Mitsvot Gadol, positive commandment 19, in the name of Rav Amram and Rav Natronai. This can be compared to Philo’s view ofthe status of the Septuagint. 27. The four-letter name of God is composed ofthe letters used to form the verb ‘to be’ in Hebrew, and the Aramaic form more closely resembles the spelling used in the Tetragrammaton. 28. See Sefer Hapardes, attributed to Rashi (ed. Haim Jehuda Ehrenreich; Budapest, 1924), p. 323. 42 Aramaic Studies 4.1 (2006) messianic fiiture, as it is written in Zech 14.9, ‘On that day the Lord and his name shall be (nTi”) one’.^’ In truth, the views of the Zohar on this question are not unequivocal. There appear to have been rival tendencies or factions within the Zohar circle, one in favour of Hebrew, the other of Aramaic. Evidence for this can be deduced from the testimony of Isaac of Acre in his famous letter on the composition ofthe Zohar that relates the warning he was given not to accept as genuine Hebrew sections of the Zohar since the authentic Zohar was written entirely in Aramaic.^” An echo of this struggle can perhaps be discerned in the words ofthe editors printed in the Zohar at the beginning of pericope vayehi, before a passage whose style attests that it does not belong to the main body ofthe Zohar. Said the editors. It is clear from the language, as light is visible from darkness, that this is not from the Zohar. It is our opinion that this is from the Midrash Hane ‘elam and it was written in the holy tongue, and the devious boasters changed the language of truth and obscured the meaning and intention ofthe author for they did not understand it and did not know how to construe the language properly. {Zohar I, 21 Ib) The movement to and fro between these languages can also be gauged from the Zohar passages which appear in both. This is particularly noticeable in the section on Exodus, written partly in Hebrew and partly in Aramaic, where the relation between the two languages differs in the various printed editions and manuscripts. Some of the passages that are in Aramaic in the standard editions, which follow the Mantua edition (1558- 60), appear in Hebrew in the Cremona edition (1559-60) and in subsequent editions. In these passages, the Hebrew appears to be the original version which was later translated into Aramaic.^’ On the other hand, we also have quite a few Hebrew versions of passages originally written in Aramaic that were translated by members ofthe Zohar circle, such as the writings of David ben Jehuda the Pious and the Zohar passages that were included in Israel al Nakawa’s The Lamp ofthe Tabernacle. ‘^ 29. On the other hand. Rabbi Joseph Caro thinks that the Kadish is recited in Aramaic to show that in friture Aramaic will be equal to Hebrew. Joseph Caro, Maggid Mesharim (Jerusalem, 1960), p. 21. 30. See the letter reprinted in Isaiah Tishby, The Wisdom ofthe Zohar, I (London, 1994), p. 13. 31. This is also the opinion of Ronit Meroz who has devoted a detailed study, as yet unpublished, to this question. 32. Israel al Nakawa (d. 1391), Menorat Hama ‘or (ed. E. Enelow; 4 vols.; New York, 1929-32). LIEBES Hebrew and Aramaic as Languages of tire Zohar 43 All this should be attributed to the dialectical relation that exists between Aramaic and Hebrew, according to religious sensibility of the Zohar. This relation is attested long before the Zohar and emerges from the famous Talmudic statement that features prominently in the Zohar. The ministering angels do not respond to anyone who requests his needs in Aramaie for they do not recognise Aramaic.’^ This statement would appear to negate the mystic status of Aramaic by distancing it from the angels, but this is not the whole truth. Although the angels do not understand Aramaic, the Shekinah, the divine presence, does. This emerges from the continuation of the passage in the Talmud which justifies the actions of one who prays for a sick person in Aramaic: ‘An invalid is different because the divine presence is with him’. What is the difference between the Shekinah and the angels? The angels are apparently formalistic masters of ceremony who only use the official language. However, the Shekinah has a more intimate side for which Aramaic is more appropriate and it is precisely this intimate side that is needed in the case of illness. This we leam from other places in the Talmud, such as the tale about Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai who, it is reported, asked Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa to intercede for him when his son fell ill: ‘His wife said to him. Is Hanina greater than you are? No, he replied, but he is like a servant to the king and I am like a minister to the king. ‘^^ When an intimate servant will be more effective than a minister, it is preferable to use Aramaic. Like the Shekinah, the bat kol, the voice from heaven, is also fond of Aramaic. This can be learnt from a parallel passage in the Talmud {b. Sot. 33a) which sets out the above-mentioned principle that, ‘The ministering angels do not respond to anyone who requests his needs in Aramaic because they do not recognise that language’ {b. Sanh. 99a) and then appears to challenge it: ‘But we have leamed that Rabbi Johanan, the High Priest, heard a heavenly voice issue from the Holy Of Holies announcing, “The young men who went to wage war against Antioch have been victorious”, and it spoke in Aramaic!’ The answer given is, ‘A voice from heaven is different’. The celestial voice differs from the angels in that it also understands Aramaic. 33. See t. Shab. 12b, and see Joseph Yahalom, ‘Angels Don’t Understand Aramaic’, (1996), pp. 33-44. 34. See b. Ber. 43b: non sm K’7N ,ysb -.Th nas ?iaQ b^^^i srin ^DI nnos nan ‘jsi ,i’7Dn •’it 44 Aramaic Studies 4.1 (2006) Elsewhere in the Talmud and in the Hekhalot literature, the voice from heaven speaks in Aramaic, sometimes even with the inclusion of a specific reference to the fact that the words were spoken in Aramaic. On a few occasions, the celestial voice deals with the impending day of judgment, a subject which it is more appropriate to speak about in Aramaic, the language the angels do not understand, since we have leamed, ‘What is meant by “the day of vengeance is in my heart”?” Rabbi Johanan said, I have revealed it to my heart, but not to my extemal limbs. Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish said, I revealed it to my heart but not to the ministering angels’,’* and according to a parallel statement: ‘the heart does not reveal to the mouth’.” The heavenly voice or the Shekinah, which understands Aramaic, is identified, therefore, with God’s heart. It appears that this heart, which does not reveal that which is concealed in its depths, either to the mouth or the limbs, resembles the divine subconscious, a suitable place to nurture feelings of vengeance. The angels, on the other hand, represent the conscious mind, or the limbs, or the mouth and they might object to vengeance on rational grounds,’* or, conversely, rush too precipitately to execute the imprecations. The heavenly voice also speaks Aramaic when it proclaims the abilities ofthe mystic, probably because, in this, man is superior to the angels and may arouse their jealousy, as in Hekhalot Zutarti: Rabbi Akiva said. When I ascended to the Chariot a heavenly voice issued from beneath the Throne of Glory speaking Aramaic. What did it say? Before God created the heavens and the earth, a ladder” was erected to the heavens to ascend and descend.”” Heralds and heavenly voices are often heard in the Zohar, and here too they speak Aramaic. Perhaps these voices also influenced the language of the human speakers, since, in the Zohar, the close association between the heavenly voice and the conscious and even the sub-conscious of the author is evident. For here, the heavenly voice is not only identified with 35. Isa. 63.4. 36. See b. Sanh. 99a: -Di .-n'”:: K”? •’^-avb ,’n”7”: “ab”? :]:nr ’31 in s ?-‘3′?3 Dp: DV -XQ’ ‘^TTbi vh mon ‘DN’^D’? ,”T\’bi ‘•^hb riDS op”? ]3 ji^jan. 37. £cc/.^. §12.10. 38. On the rationality of angels, see Yehuda Liebes, ‘De Natura Dei: On the Development ofthe Jewish Myth’, in Studies in Jewish Myth and Jewish Messianism (Albany, 1993), pp. 1-64. 39. The reading ‘ladder’ is conjectural, based on the editor’s note. See n. 40 below. 40. Hekhalot Zutarti (ed. Rachel Elior; Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought supplement, 1; 1982 [Hebrew]), p. 23. LIEBES Hebrew and Aramaic as Languages ofthe Zohar 45 the Shekinah, but also, to some extent, with the protagonist ofthe Zohar, Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai, both during his life and after his death. In one passage,'” Simeon bar Yohai’s son heard a voice coming from his cave saying: ‘Two young deer gave me pleasure fulfilling my desire’. I have devoted a long and detailed study to this statement, in which I attempted to explain its meaning and as far as possible to determine the identity of the speaker.”^ In another incident, a celestial voice emerged from behind the curtain in the house of Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai and quoted his precise words (also on the subject ofthe gazelles and the harts in the Song of Songs). Interestingly, the words ofthe heavenly voice are in Aramaic while Rabbi Simeon’s statement is in Hebrew:”^ Flee my love, like a gazelle or a hart.”” All the longing of Israel is for the Lord,”’ for Rabbi Simeon said, ‘Israel longs for the Lord neither to leave nor to distance himself but to flee like a gazelle or a hart’. The celestial voice is so comfortable speaking Aramaic that it sometimes rewrites biblical verses in Aramaic, as in a passage in the matnitin (the name given in the Zohar to anonymous passages, full of pathos, sometimes put in the mouths of celestial heralds): ‘Listen to me all who seek justice’.”* However, in a parallel passage spoken by a human, we find: ‘Rabi Eleazar said, “Listen to me all who seek justice”‘,'” in the Hebrew words ofthe verse (Isa. 51.1). In another passage we even find a biblical verse that Aramaic has conquered half of: ‘As it is written, “All the herdsmen used to gather there and roll away the stone”‘. The italicised section of the verse appears in the Zohar in Aramaic”* even though the biblical verse was originally written in Hebrew.'” 41. Zohar III, 55b: ‘^b m^n smrn ^mp nna’ xn’r^sT i^’^nu nn lasi x’^p sinn 42. See Yehuda Liebes ‘ “Two Young Roes ofa Doe”: The Secret Sermon of Isaac Luria Before his Death’, in Yehuda Liebes and Rachel Elior (eds.), Lurianic Kabbalah, Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 10 (1992), pp. 113-69. 43. It is possible that an earlier Hebrew version was integrated into the exegesis in the Zohar (this is the opinion of Ronit Meroz in her study mentioned in n. 31 above). 44. Song 8.14. 45. Zohar II, 14a: biciia^ is’osi NSIOD VD .D^^’KH -ISIJJ’? IS ^i^b -\b nmi n n ma’ pmni2 s”?! ^p^n vh n”3pn nn^’c bicttD” “^E Dnisn n”nNTNn sin -[na SE^^p^3 46. Zohar II, 12b: ‘lran •anp…m!ijp ‘3Tn pra’. 47. Zohar 1,151b: ‘pis ‘am ‘”^s irato nas ita’^s ‘3n’. 48. Zohar II, 13a: ‘psn ns iTom N”na bo pn ‘ODno ID :3”nD sm’. 49. Gen. 29.3: iD’cm ]Xin ns lpom isnn ‘s “^an jnsn ns i*?”?:! D^-{-ivn bz> noE ISDN:I’ ‘napab ^!