Page:Annotated Edition of the Authorised Daily Prayer Book.djvu/170
Historical and Explanatory Notes.
passage derived from the Zohar (in Section Vayakhel), and is introduced with these words: " When the Scroll is taken out in the assembly to read therein, the gates of the heavens of mercy open and the celestial love awakes. It is then fitting for a man to recite this prayer." Several phrases are mystical in the sense that they imply a direct communion between God and man, and appeal for the gift of light, while laying stress on the desire that man's heart should be opened to receive the Law. This combination of the ideas of direct intuition of God and of receptiveness to the Law is a striking feature in Jewish mysticism. The mystic is essentially a law to himself, the Jewish mystic, however, often contrives to reconcile his own free, individual emotions with obedience to law. He is not in a state of revolt against authority, as the mystic so frequently is, but he finds in authority the goal of his ecstatic devotion.
The Zohar from which the passage comes, is the finest expression of this type of Judaism, mysticism arising out of piety, just as the flower grows from its root. The word Zohar (זֹהַר) means Brightness. The book so named was first produced in Spain, in the thirteenth century, being made known by Moses de Leon, who ascribed it to the famous Rabbi of the second century, Simeon ben Yoḥai. Though the latter ascription is inaccurate, it is equally erroneous to assume that Moses de Leon was more than the compiler. The book represents a growth, and is no doubt the result of a long mystical tradition.Page 144. The thirteen attributes. The passage: the Lord, the Lord is a merciful and gracious God (יְיָ יְיָ אֵל רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן), is a quotation from Exodus xxxiv. 6, 7 and the divine characteristics which the verses contain are reckoned at thirteen. The introduction of the passage at this point (for the Festivals) is modern, and according to Baer is derived from the book Shaare Zion (section iii.). The quotation stops short of the phrase in which the punishment of the guilty is announced (the text continues לֹא יְנַקֶּה, He will by no means clear [the