Lines of Flight (Zohar)


(Sinisa Babic, Motion Graphics)

I found this description of the revelation at Sinai and the “10 Commandments.” In Hebrew the commandments are referred to as assert ha divrot, or the 10 Utterances.  In the Zohar these ten words are put to flight:

That word flew from above to below, was engraved in the four winds of the world, then ascended and descended. Ascending it was absorbed by mountains of pure balsam and infused with that dew from above. Then it circled around Israel, restoring their souls, then circled and engraved itself in its place in the tablet of stone. And it was with every word. (Zohar 2:83a-b; Pritzker translation)

There’s nothing this kinetic in Bible or Talmud. I like the motility of words up, down, and in circles, impressed into mountains and into stone, one imagines, with great velocity and force.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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1 Response to Lines of Flight (Zohar)

  1. efmooney says:

    The swirl is like whirling dervishes. Or this from Melville:
    There is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.”

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