May 26, 2024
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The Tremendous Importance of Studying the Zohar

(Courtesy of Matok Midvash) In the holy books of the great sages of Israel, we find countless praises for one who immerses in the study of the holy Zohar, and the incredible spiritual power of such study. While the Zohar is usually associated with deeply esoteric and mystical matters, in reality, more than half of its content deals with simple and revealed concepts that can be understood by all, including many powerful words of mussar and chizzuk. These teachings are meant to sanctify and strengthen a person, as well as to help them overcome the yetzer hara that seeks to pull a person away from the Divine path. In our generation, it has become all too common for people to fall into the trap of materialism, focusing on the desires of the body instead of the holy soul. As pointed out by our sages, the Zohar has the ability to save a person from this trap and to illuminate one’s life in this world below, while at the same time opening the door to eternal life in the world to come.

The saintly Chida (Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai), in his Avodat HaKodesh (siman 44), wrote: “The study of the Zohar transcends all other forms of study—even in the secrets that one does not understand—for it is a great rectification for one’s soul.” Meanwhile, we read in Pele Yoetz by Rabbi Eliezer Papo: “The study of the Zohar is a supreme way to purify and sanctify the soul. Even if one often fails to understand it, it is still important before the Holy One, blessed be He.” The Ba’al haTanya (Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi) wrote in his Me’ah Sha’arim that if one’s heart is filled with folly and becomes a “heart of stone,” the best antidote “is the study of the Zohar, for the word zohar means the radiant light that illuminates a dark place…” In other words, the Zohar has the power to illuminate even the darkest heart. Finally, Rabbi Israel Dov Ber of Wiladnik adds in his She’erit Israel that “The words and expressions of the Holy Zohar themselves connect a person to God.”

For these reasons, it is all the more important to take up the study of the Zohar in our difficult days. The Zohar itself tells us that through its study, Israel will merit both great blessing in our present reality, as well as hastening the coming of Mashiach: “Israel is destined in the future to taste from the Tree of Life—which is the Zohar, and in the merit of its study they will be redeemed from their exile.” (Zohar II, 124b) “The Children of Israel below in this world will have sustenance and spiritual rectification through the study of the Holy Zohar… and through this will come our righteous Mashiach and blow the great shofar to herald our freedom!” (Tikkunei Zohar 23b)

The Heavenly Gift That
Our Generation Has Merited

Over the centuries, many profound commentaries have been written on the Zohar. However, most people are unable to penetrate those deeply mystical works. And so, there has always been a desire among our sages for a Zohar commentary that would be simple and easy to understand by all. In his introduction to Damesek Eliezer, Rabbi Eliezer Tzvi of Komarno, zt”l wrote in the name of his father, Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac of Komarno, that it was the greatest wish of the Chozeh of Lublin that someone would be able to compose a peshat commentary on the Zohar. This would allow every Jew to cleave to its holy words, and thereby connect to Hashem, for it is well-known among the mekubalim that the primary way for a person to be linked to Hashem is through the study of the Zohar.

It appears that the wishes of the tzadikim made an impression in the Heavens, and our generation—the generation of the “footsteps of Mashiach”—has merited to receive such a commentary. This is the great and wondrous commentary of Matok MiDvash, written on the entirety of the holy Zohar and elucidated in a clear and simple fashion that is easily accessible and graspable by all. Now, every Jew has an opportunity to truly understand the secrets of Hashem and the mysteries of the holy Torah.

The righteous emissary who merited to complete this holy task, with great siyata d’shmaya, was a saintly man who dedicated his entire life to strengthening the masses, the mekubal Rabbi Daniel Frisch, ztk”l. Building on the holy commentaries of previous mekubalim, Rabbi Frisch devoted many years to produce a new, simplified commentary on the Zohar that could be understood by everyone. His commentary, known universally as Matok MiDvash, has been extraordinarily successful, arousing tremendous interest across the Jewish world, both in the Holy Land and in the diaspora, in synagogues and study halls in all communities. It has been happily received with great appreciation and admiration, and its author has merited exalted words of praise from the Gedolei Israel. Today, the daily study of the Zohar with Matok MiDvash has become widespread around the world.

Spreading the Message Further

The righteous author of Matok MiDvash merited to have his wishes fulfilled in that his children continue walking the holy path that he paved. They have undertaken to further spread the powerful words of the Zohar and the secrets of the Torah as far and wide as possible. With great siyata d’shamaya, they were able to establish the Matok MiDvash Institute, dedicated to disseminating the holy teachings of the Zohar and Matok MiDvash through various means, including the publication of beautiful books and the free distribution of shorter kuntresim. These shorter treatises are compiled from the Zohar and Matok MiDvash on a specific topic, such as working on a certain character trait or understanding a particular concept, and are distributed freely to enlighten people and assist them, to strengthen the masses and bring them boundless merits.

Recently, a new task has been undertaken to translate the Zohar and Matok MiDvash from lashon hakodesh to English, to make it even more accessible so that everyone should have the opportunity to study it, and to merit benefitting from it. It is important to know first that these treatises deal only with the revealed aspects of Torah that are relevant and practical for every Jewish soul, and not with the more esoteric matters of Kabbalah. Second, these treatises have been produced through careful and meticulous translation, from the original Zohar and Matok MiDvash, to be as accurate and clear as possible, with additional helpful footnotes where necessary.

The first treatise, Discourses on the Trait of Anger, is attached here. It relates the Zohar’s incredible teachings about the terrible trait of anger and, more importantly, how one can overcome it and distance from it. The ultimate purpose is to help a person rectify their soul and repair their relationships, both bein adam l’chaveiro and bein adam l’Makom, and, God willing, draw nearer to Hashem.

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