Zohar Vayikra Section 47 - Women Rule Over the World

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PORTION VAYIKRA - Section 47 - Women Rule Over the World


Rabbi Shimon says that because a woman was the first to sin, women rule over men on the side of severe judgment when men sin before God. These women are the sharp brightness coming from the revolving sword. Rabbi Shimon adds that woe is to the world when women rule over the people.

Pasook 325. of Zohar Commentary on Parasha Vayikra

תָּא חֲזֵי, בְּהַהוּא יוֹמָא אִתְפְּקָדוּ עַל אִילָנָא חַד, וְעָבְרוּ עַל פִּקּוּדָא דְּמָארֵיהוֹן, וּבְגִין דְּאִתְּתָא הִיא חָבַת בְּקַדְמֵיתָא, וְאָתָא עָלָה הַהוּא נָחָשׁ, כְּתִיב, וְהוּא יִמְשׁוֹל בָּךְ. מִכָּאן וּלְהָלְאָה, בְּכָל זִמְנִין דְּגוּבְרִין אִשְׁתְּכָחוּ חַיָּיבִין קָמֵי קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא, הָא אוֹקִימְנָא דְּאִינּוּן נָשִׁים מִסִּטְרָא דְּדִינָא קַשְׁיָא, זְמִינִין לְשַׁלְּטָאָה עֲלֵיהוֹן, מִסִּטְרָא דְּדִינָא קַשְׁיָא, הה"ד עַמִּי נוֹגְשָׂיו מְעוֹלֵל וְנָשִׁים מָשְׁלוּ בוֹ, נָשִׁים מָשְׁלוּ בוֹ וַדַּאי.

On the day THAT ADAM WAS BORN, they were commanded concerning a certain tree, THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL, but they transgressed the commandment of their Master. Since the woman was the first to sin and the serpent came in to her, it is written, "And he shall rule over you" (Beresheet 3:16). From then on, whenever men were guilty before the Holy One, blessed be He, we explained that women, who are on the side of severe Judgment, would rule over them on the side of severe Judgment. Hence, it says, "As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them" (Yeshayah 3:12) and surely women rule over them.

chanoch's Commentary

As one reads the English above one finds it easy to misunderstand the meaning of this pasook. It is not all women who rule over men. First a man must sin, then a women who is from the frame of severe judgment - that is not all women will be put over him. He will choose to marry that women.

Here is an English translation of the Verse from Isaiah 3:12 and also a commentary from Rabbi Azamra helping to relate the historical reference for this prophecy.

Isaiah 3:12

As for My people, a babe is their master, and women rule over them. O My people, they that lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.


"For behold, the Master, HaShem of hosts, will take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff." (v 1). RaDaK (ad loc.) explains: "The previous section spoke of the retribution against the wicked and how they will be destroyed in the days of Melech HaMashiach. The new section tells how He will now [i.e. soon, prior to the days of Mashiach] carry out judgment against the wicked in Jerusalem and Judah , and how all the great people among them will die through hunger or the sword, leaving only the young and foolish. The prophet calls God 'the Master' in order to inform them that He is in control and that it is in His hands to destroy and to build, to give satisfaction or to make people hungry, but the wicked do not think that He is the Master and that He watches over their deeds, for if they did they would not sin and they would not go beyond the bounds of His commandments."

Vv 1-3 depict the coming loss of all the leaders and sages of Judah leaving only fools and jesters to rule over them (v 4) which will destroy all the norms of respect for elders and worthy members of the community (v 5). The dearth of true leaders will cause people to turn to anyone wearing a smart coat appealing to him to lead them (v 6), but he himself will know that he is unworthy: "I will not be a healer for in my house is neither bread nor clothing" (v 7). The Talmud darshens this reply as indicating his admission that he was never a regular student in the Beith Midrash and therefore knows neither Bible nor Mishneh nor Gemara - and therefore lacks all the qualifications for true leadership (Shabbos 120a). [Many feel that Israel today suffers from a terrible dearth of quality leaders and wonder which of the current candidates for leadership could possibly take the nation out of its predicament.]

The collapse of the social fabric and the crisis of leadership are the results of the people's rebellion against HaShem in turning from His Torah (v 8). They do not even deny their sins (v 9). The prophet cries out to them to correct the distortions in their speech whereby "they call evil good and good evil" (see Isaiah 5:20): instead they should declare and affirm that it is the righteous who are good and who will eat the fruits of their works (verse 10 in our present chapter) while the evil of the wicked will wreak vengeance upon them (v 11). But the people have turned everything upside down, allowing children and women to rule over them, making all their pathways crooked (v 12). These ruling women (NASHIM), on whom the prophet elaborates later in this chapter (vv 15ff), may literally be women [as in Israel today, where in the tradition of Golda Meir, the current speaker of the Knesset, the Foreign Minister and even the President of the Supreme Court are all women, in defiance of Torah law, Rambam, Hilchos Melochim 1:5]. Alternatively, these NASHIM are NOSHIM, "those who have slipped" (cf. Gen. 32:32), i.e. men who have fallen from Torah observance (see Rashi and Targum Yonasan ad loc.).

The prophet continues to put forward God's complaints against the corrupt leadership that has consumed the "vineyard" - i.e. the rest of the people, robbing the poor in their very homes (vv 14-15).

His main complaint is that "the daughters of Zion are haughty.", strutting with the utmost immodesty and every kind of affectation in order to allure new partners in their immorality (v 16). Because of this God will smite them on the crown with leprosy (v 17) and remove all their ornaments and fancy clothing (vv 18-24).

According to rabbinic tradition (Midrash Rabbah Shemos 41:5), verses 18-24 enumerate twenty-four kinds of ornaments with which it was customary to bedeck brides, and these twenty-four kinds of ornaments in turn correspond to the twenty-four books of the Bible, which are the "ornaments" of those Torah sages who are fully familiar with them. [The 24 books of the Bible are: the 5 books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Twelve, the 5 Megilloth, Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles.]

The association of the bridal ornaments with the books of Biblical wisdom suggests that the criticism of the prophet against the "daughters of Zion" who used their ornaments for pompous self-aggrandizement are directed against the kind of Torah scholars who use their knowledge and proficiency as a "sword of arrogance" in order to rule over others. These self-seeking scholars cause the corruption of leadership, which in turn brings immorality (see Likutey Moharan II, 5:5-6).

Isaiah prophesies that "on that day" (v 18) - i.e. "in time to come, when the Holy One blessed be He will come to restore Israel to His service" (Rashi ad loc.) God will remove all these ornaments of pride and sweep away this entire false leadership (vv 25ff).

chanoch adds that elsewhere the Zohar explains that the 24 ornaments of the bride is 24 two letter sequences that come from the 24 books of the Torah. A Sefardic Tikune Sefer for Shavuot will have thes 24 two letter sequences for anyone interested. i suggest you use these sequences as part of the meditations taught in the Sefer Yetzirah.

Pasook 326. of Zohar Commentary on Parasha Vayikra

וְאִלֵּין אִקְרוּן לַהַט הַחֶרֶב הַמִּתְהַפֶּכֶת, לָאו דְּאִינּוּן חֶרֶב הַמִּתְהַפֶּכֶת, אֶלָּא לַהַט מֵהַהוּא חֶרֶב, דְּאִקְרֵי חֶרֶב נוֹקֶמֶת נְקַם בְּרִית, חֶרֶב לַיְיָ' מָלְאָה דָם. וְהַהוּא לַהַט הַחֶרֶב מִתְהַפֶּכֶת, לְזִמְנִין גּוּבְרִין וּלְזִמְנִין נוּקְבִין, וְהָא אוֹקִימְנָא.

Those WOMEN are called "the bright blade of a revolving sword" (Beresheet 3:24). It is not that they themselves are the revolving sword, but they are the sharp brightness coming from the sword, called "a sword...that shall avenge My covenant" (Vayikra 26:25) and "the sword of Hashem is filled with blood" (Yeshayah 34:6). The bright blade revolves, so that it is sometimes men and sometimes women, as we have already understood.

Pasook 327. of the Zohar Commentary on Parasha Vayikra

וַוי לְעָלְמָא, כַּד אִינּוּן נָשִׁין שַׁלְטָן בְּעָלְמָא, כַּד חָמָא נְבִיאָה, דְּיִשְׂרָאֵל מֵעֲקְמֵי אָרְחַיְיהוּ, וְאִינּוּן אִשְׁתְּכָחוּ בְּחוֹבִין קָמֵי מָארֵיהוֹן, כְּדֵין אָמַר, נָשִׁים שַׁאֲנַנּוֹת הֵיךְ אַתּוּן שְׁקִיטָאן, הֵיךְ אַתּוּן יַתְבָן דְּלָא לְאִתְּעָרָא בְּעָלְמָא, קוֹמְנָה. וּבְאֲתַר אָחֳרָא אוֹקִימְנָא לְהַאי קְרָא וְהָא אוּקְמוּהָ חַבְרַיָּיא.

Woe to the world when women rule over the world. When a prophet in Yisrael saw Yisrael deviating from their way, and are sinful before their Master, he said "you women that are at ease" (Yeshayah 32:9) how can you be still, how can you sit without stirring in the world? "Rise up" AND RULE OVER MEN. We explained this verse elsewhere, and the friends explained it.

chanoch's Commentary

Here is a full English translation of Isaiah Chapter 32: 9 and also 10.

9.Rise up, ye women that are at ease, and hear my voice; ye confident daughters, give ear unto my speech.

10. After a year and days shall ye be troubled, ye confident women; for the vintage shall fail, the ingathering shall not come

Here is some comments from Azamra.org on chapter 32

A new section of this prophecy begins in verse 9 calling upon the "women that are at ease" and the "complacent daughters" to realize that very hard times lay ahead and to prepare themselves for the horrors of exile and destruction (vv 11-13). RaDaK (on v 10) writes: "It is possible to interpret this prophecy as referring either to the future destruction of the whole of the land of Israel and the destruction of the Temple in the days of Tzedekiah, or to the destruction of the Second Temple, in which case the consolation in v 15, 'until a spirit be poured upon us from on high', refers to the days of Mashiach. Or alternatively, this prophecy could refer to the destruction of the cities of Israel and the exile of the Ten Tribes in the days of Hosea son of Elah, and of the cities of Judah that Sennacherib captured, in which case the consolation would refer to the days of Hezekiah, after the plague in the camp of the Assyrians."

".The fort and the tower shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks" (v 14). Rashi (ad loc.) explains that the wild asses are Ishmael while the pasturing flocks are Edom .

All this will last "until a spirit will be poured upon us from on high" (v 15) - this is the indwelling spirit that will emanate from the Shechinah at the time of the redemption (see Targum on this verse). "Then justice shall dwell in the wilderness and righteousness in the fruitful field" (v 16). The "wilderness" refers to Jerusalem during the time of the exile, while the "fruitful field" is the land of Israel , "which will in those days be like a fruitful field" (Rashi ad loc.).

"And the work of righteousness (TZEDAKAH=charity) will be peace" (v 17). True peace comes not through the machinations of crooked politicians but only by sowing the seeds of righteousness and charity.

"And it shall hail in the downfall of the forest and the city shall descend into the valley" (v 19). Rashi (ad loc.) explains that the Holy One blessed be He will rain down "hail" upon the wicked, who are now built up with full cities thick as a forest. In view of the contemporary world situation, it is noteworthy that Rashi specifically identifies the "city" that "shall descend into the valley" as being the capital of PERSIA (Rashi on v 19).

"Happy are you." - Israel - ".who sow." - i.e. acts of charity - ".over all waters, sending away the foot of the ox and the donkey." The ox is Edom while the donkey is Ishmael (Yalkut Reuveni).

Pasook 328. of the Zohar Commentary on Parasha Vayikra

אֲבָל לָא אִתְּמַר, אֶלָּא כְּמָה דְּאַשְׁכְּחָן בִּדְבוֹרָה. דִּכְתִּיב הִיא שׁוֹפְטָה אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּעֵת הַהִיא. וְעַל דָּא תָּנֵינָן, וַוי לב"נ דְּאִתְּתָא קָא מְבָרְכָא לֵיהּ לְפָתוֹרָא. כַּךְ דְּבוֹרָה, הִיא שׁוֹפְטָה אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּעֵת הַהִיא, וַוי לְדָרָא דְּלָא אִשְׁתְּכַח בְּהוּ מַאן דְּדָאִין לְעַמָּא, אֶלָּא חַד נוּקְבָּא.

They spoke only of instances such as we find in Deborah, as written, "She judged Yisrael at that time" (Shoftim 4:4). We therefore learned that woe is to man, whose wife says grace for him at his table; TO WIT, THAT SHE SPEAKS FOR HER HUSBAND WHEN SAYING GRACE, SINCE HE DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO DO IT. So was Deborah, who judged Yisrael at that time. Woe to the generation in which there is no one to judge the people, but a woman.

chanoch's Commentary

On its surface this section is difficult to relate to as a modern person. In this generation women do judge and they usually do so with strict judgment and little mercy. Yet can it be true that the generation has woe? In my opinion this is a generation that is causing the women to grow to the level of the men not like the generation of Devorah whose husband was an ignoramus (Azamra commentary).

Elsewhere the Zohar explains that a man having relations with his wife causes her judgment to be injected with mercy. Thus it depends on the women, their husband and their view of the world has to the generation being Woe or Praisworthy. Where do you stand?