The Awesome Importance of Studying the Book of the Zohar: More than Just Talmud Torah

Few works have been so important to us Jews during exile as the book of the Zohar. It is the basis of pretty much all Kabbalah we have nowadays and is probably one of the most misunderstood works in Jewish literature due to its terse text.

While some of its content is readily understandable, its depth goes way beyond the Pshat. Anyone who reads it can’t help but be fascinated by how deep the sages’ knowledge went.

So, the question is: should you study the Zohar or just leave it to Mekubalim and other holy people who have “filled their bellies with meat and potatoes”?

Introduction: what is the book of the Zohar?

“Because of this work, the Book of the Zohar, [the Jews] will be redeemed from exile”

The Zohar haKadosh (3, 124b)

The importance of the Zohar cannot be overstated. It has been established by virtually every respected Tzadik that it’s the work of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, written down by Rabbi Abba. It contains many incredible secrets which were later revealed by the holy Arizal through his disciple, Rav Chaim Vital.

The Zohar contains the keys to an awesomely deeper understanding of the entire system of Creation. It tells of stories from the sages, workings of the spiritual worlds, gematriot and a glimpse of Hashem’s involvement in Creation. All the Kabbalah from the Arizal was written based on it.

Interestingly, those that studied Kabbalah in depth can see his explanation of the system of creation didn’t end there but was later clarified by Rabbi Shalom Sharabi, the Rashash HaKadosh. Some like to compare the Zohar to the Mishnayot, the Arizal to the Gemara and the Rashash to the Psak Halacha.

But don’t take my word for it, we only have to see the duo who changed Jewish History forever for the better, namely the holy Arizal and his holy disciple Rav Chaim Vital. Their influence is felt in many, if not the majority of Jewish rituals we have.

My Master the Ari ha Kaddosh said to me that because in one reincarnation of mine I was one of those who did not believe in the wisdom of the Sefer ha Zohar, this is then the main thing that I have to repair in this reincarnation. He also told me that because of that same reason I can not now raise many challenges to what is written in the Zohar until I will learn with him for a period of time known to him, and then I will have permission to challenge and ask questions regarding anything that I wish to clarify and to know in the Zohar ha Kaddosh

Rav Chaim Vital Zt’L in Sha’ar haGilgulim

Basically, one of the great mistakes of Rav Chaim Vital in his previous life is that he didn’t believe in the Zohar. And because of that, he had to come back to rectify it and had permission to ask the Arizal regarding everything he wished to know. In an ideal world, this would’ve been enough, but since many people don’t take their words seriously, we will go over a few more opinions, out of hundreds available online.

The language of the Zohar purifies the soul

Rav Meir Paprish, student of the Arizal, writes that “One who does not merit to understand The Zohar, he should nevertheless learn because the language of the Zohar purifies the soul” (Ohr Tzaddikim siman A, 16)

His other master, Rabbi Yaakov Tzemach writes in his introduction to Sefer Etz Chaim:

“The study of the Zohar haKaddosh in our times is very necessary to protect and save us from all evil. For the revelation of this wisdom in our times, helps to purify and protect us greatly so that we will be able to cling with a complete heart to our Father in Heaven. For the people of prior generations were Tzaddikim and Chassidim and people of great deeds, and thus were saved from the accusers, but now we are far removed from our source, and what will protect us if not our reading this Wisdom?

We also bring the Rabbi Eliezer Papo, in his masterwork, Pele Yoetz, below:

The study of the book of the Zohar is a great help to purify and to bring sanctity to the soul and even if one doesn’t know what he’s saying and makes many mistakes while reading, it is of great importance to the Holy One Blessed Be He. And we see that in regards to the study of the Mishna there are many opinions that say that one must understand what he is studying, but when reading Tehillim (Book of Psalms) or the Zohar even if one doesn’t understand anything at all, it is important and received and desired by The Holy One Blessed Be He…

Pele Yoetz, Zohar

Maybe someone doesn’t hold by the Sephardim. Ok, “not my shita”, I understand. What about the Vilna Gaon?

I asked the Vilna Gaon what is the proper way to fulfill the obligation which our Rabbis spoke about and he told me that I should study the Sefer ha Zohar and Shaare Ora. And the Shaare Orah in order to understand a few of the concepts of the Zohar ha Kaddosh…

Siddur haGra Orchot Chayim 15
the Zohar rectifies worlds

A REMEDY AGAINST HERESY AND EVIL

Many sources state that true Yirat Shamayim is impossible without Kabbalah. This is because Kabbalah is a unification of all the parts of the revealed Torah, what is usually called Chokhmah. And, as Rebbe Nachman and many other rabbis state, Yirat Shamayim and Chokhmah goes together hand in hand, one cannot exist without the other.

In order to properly fear Hashem, we need to understand we are quite literally nothing, we know nothing, and we are infinitely small. This realization can only come once we study how deep Hashem’s Chokhmah goes and how much we are lacking, no matter how long we study it for.

O that my people would listen to me, in this evil generation when heresy increases, It is proper to learn the Zohar and the Tikkunim with children nine years of age so that their fear of Hashem will precede their wisdom and will be maintained.

Notzer Chessed on Massechet Avot, Perek 4

But the Zohar is not just beneficial for us, it also contains many of the rectifications of the Shekhinah, which is what we are mainly trying to achieve in life.

A GREAT CORRECTION TO THE SHECHINA

It is necessary to read in the Sefer ha Zohar even when he does not know what it says, because it is a great correction to the Shechina and to his own soul as it is known for various reasons.

Tikkun Leil Shavuot Le haRamaz (HaRav Moshe Zaccuto) at the end of the Sefer Tov haAretz of the Moharnash

Some more quotes on why the study of the Zohar is more elevated than any other study

The study of the Sefer ha Zohar is more elevated than any other study, even if he doesn’t know what he is saying and even if he makes mistakes. And it is a great Tikkun for the Neshama, because even though the Torah is composed of names of the Holy One Blessed be He, it is nevertheless clothed in many stories, and when the person reads, he understands the stories and puts his mind on the simple meaning of those stories, but the sefer Ha Zohar has the secrets revealed, and the reader knows that they are secrets and the occult parts of the Torah, only that he does not understand because of the depth of the subject and the shortness of his understandingThe Chida, More B’Etzba Siman 44

The study of the Sefer ha Zohar is a Tikkun for the Baal Teshuvah

Shivche haArizal

Simply reading the Sefer ha Zohar and the Tikkunim is a holy and elevated matter for all the words are like holy flames of fire to kindle the soul and to purify it and to sanctify it

Rav Aharon Roth, Taharat haKodesh 26b

And in the merit of those who study and occupy themselves with the Zohar ha Kaddosh, Mashiach will come, for the Land will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem…

Rabbi Yehuda Chayyat, Sefer Minchat Yehuda
crashing constellation waves 2 t20 Bl7NPY

Not all study is created equal. The Arizal explains that Mikrah has its source in the Olam HaAssya, Mishnayot in the Olam HaYetzirah, Gemara in the Olam HaBeriyah and Kabbalah in the Olam HaAtzilut.

What is 1 hour of the Zohar equivalent to?

Our Holy Master Rabbi Chayim Vital, may his merit shield us, in the introduction to the book Etz Chayim, warned the students of the Torah, those who listen to the Word of G-d, the great obligation they have to study the hidden Torah [Kabbalah], and the great punishment for neglecting its study, because one hour of this study does the same as thirty days of the study of Pshat (plain meaning of the Torah).

Kise Melech on Tikune Zohar 30, 73b

The study of Zohar is extremely beneficial. Through studying the Zohar, you can attain enthusiasm for all your sacred studies. The very language of the Zohar is so holy, it can motivate you to serve G-d. The Zohar uses most forceful expressions in speaking about our duty toward G-d. When speaking of a person who does good, the Zohar says ‘Zakah …Worthy is he!’ On the other hand, it cries out against a sinner, ‘Vai!… Woe! Woe is to him! Woe is to the soul who strays from serving G-d!’ Reading such expressions can greatly influence you to serve G-d. When he used it in the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai made the Aramaic Targum Language so holy that even other things written in this language have the power to arouse a person toward G-d.

Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom 108-109

A man can not come to a minute understanding of the greatness and loftiness of the Creator Blessed be he from all our studies, as he can through the study of the wisdom of the Kabbalah, and in particular the study of the Sefer ha Zohar and the Tikkunim..

Yesod ve Shoresh ha Avoda Shaar Vav, 83

Not only that, but there’s a clear difference between studying something and learning Chiddushim, which is much more valuable. But, don’t take my word for it. Here are some more quotes:

For when they are occupied with its study, they renew the new light that was originated with this work, and the Shechina shines and illuminates from that light as it was at the beginning of the new light and all those who occupy themselves [With The Zohar ha Kaddosh] again awaken the great benefit and the light that revealed Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his companions when he composed this work.

Sefer Or Yakar Shaar Alef Siman He

As I heard from my grandfather ZTKL that the Sefer ha Zohar has a different interpretation every single day

Degel Machane Ephraim

The study of the Zohar brings blessings and hastens the Geulah

And when we do not study this wisdom, the redemption is delayed

Magid Doresh Tzion P 65

The purpose of this Work [The Zohar ha Kaddosh] was to anticipate the remedy to the disease, to help Israel in the Galut through the unifications and the things that are done through them in order to increase the strength of the Keddusha and so that the generation would learn the secrets of the Torah…and so that they would know how to awaken mercy and to be saved from evil decrees

Sefer Or Yakar Shaar Alef Siman He

The Arizal explains that the Klipot cannot understand Hebrew and therefore they can’t derive sustenance from it. However they can understand other languages such as Aramaic. That’s one of the reasons, he explains in Sha’ar HaKavanot, why the Kaddish is written in Aramaic; so that the Klipot will understand and be subdued to its tremendous holiness.

In a similar vein, the Zohar was also written in Aramaic in order for the Klipot to be broken. They can, as we know, be inside a person as well as outside. So everyone wins.

If he has merit, he should study the Zohar ha Kaddosh after midnight for through the merit of the Zohar ha Kaddosh will Israel go out of exile, which resembles the night

Or Tzaddikim Siman Alef Saif 15

I heard from my Master [R Hillel mi Poritz] that the Baal Shem Tov said: Three things are an exception to the rule of: “One who increases and one who diminishes as long as his heart is focused on Heaven” but on the contrary these three things should be increased whether one has the proper intention or not. One of them is the study of the Zohar ha kaddosh for anyway it purifies the Neshama

Migdal Oz 424

Through the study of the Sefer ha Zohar the merit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his companions will protect him

Sefer Zechira la Chayyim 14

Studying the secrets of the Torah is a great help for the understanding of the revealed part of the Torah

Rabbi Avraham miSlonim Sefer Torat Avot

Want to sleep well? Here’s some valuable advice from the Ba’al Shem Tov:

Learn one passage of Tikkune Zohar every night before going to sleep and then you will not fear and will sleep securely and with the help of Hashem He will implant in our hearts the love and the fear due to Him.

Sefer Keter Shem Tov

We live in dark times, when the Klipot are gaining strength with each passing day. But this is ultimately to bring its final, majestic downfall. In this vein…

But mainly you should know that the reason for the revelation of this study in these times is because evil is gaining great strength and Knesset Israel is falling and with this study the soul is purified and when the person is engaged in studying the secrets of the Torah and in particular the Zohar ha Kaddosh and the Tikkunim the soul is illuminated and the Shechina rests over you and Ha Kaddosh Baruch Hu shines upon you, only you have to be truly humble, and through this study you will merit to be like dust and ashes, and to accept all sufferingsReb Yitzchok Eizik Safrin of Komarna Sefer Notzer Chesed Shevil haYichud Alef

To study every day the Zohar ha kaddosh and Shaare OraHanhagot Rabbi Yosef Zundel miSalant, Letter 11

Tell the Avrechim that if they want to say some Zohar before the Tefillah that they should say Zohar chadash that from this they can be Chassidim as well

Divre Aharon in the name of Rabbi Asher mi Stolin

Here we present a list of Rabbanim that wholeheartedly support the study of the Zohar (in no particular order).

Keep in mind we are not including many other great Sephardi Mekubalim like Rabbi Shalom Sharabi (the Rashash), his students, the Ashkenazi Mekubalim, the Chassidishe Rebbeim, and many others who base their entire Torah on the Arizal, who himself base his entire Torah on the Zohar as well.

The list below is far from complete, but it servers to give us an idea of those that support studying the Zohar.

ZECHER TZADDIKIM VE KEDOSHIM LIBRACHA

Rabbi Shimon Bar YochaiBaal Meor Enaim
The Holy Arizal, Rabbi Yitzchak LuriaBaal Yesod ve Shoresh ha Avoda
Rabbi Chayim VitalRabbi Yaakov Abuchatzira
Rabbi Moshe CordoveroRabbi Yehuda Chayyat, Sefer Minchat Yehuda
Rabbi Eliyahu Vidas, Baal Reshit ChochmaBaal Likute Torah Tchernobyl
Rav Meir Papirash a student of the Ari ha KadoshBaal Mikdash Melech
Rabbi Avraham AzulaiBaal Ateret Tzvi
Rabbi Chayim Yosef David Azulai (The Chida)Rav Yitzchak Yerucham, son of R’ Yehoshua Leib Diskin
The Vilna GaonBaal Nefesh Chayim
The Baal Shem TovRabbi Shalom Dov Ber Mi Lubavitch
Rabbi Moshe Chayyim LuzzatoBaal Kisse Melech
Rabbi Nachman mi BresslovRabbi Avraham Tcharik
The Alter RebbeBaal Sefer Atze Eden
Baal Sefer Keter Shem TovBaal Magid Doresh Tzion
Rabbi Chayim mi VolozhinBaal Mate Ephraim
Rabbi Yaakov TzemachBaal Rachame ha Av
Rabbi Eliezer Pappo Baal Pele YoetzBaal Kol ha Tor
Baal Migdal OzBaal Nofet Tzufim
Rabbi Eliyahu ha Kohen Baal Shevet MussarBaal Maayan Ganim
Rav Naftali KatzBaal Heichal ha Beracha
The Ben Ish ChaiRabbi Chayim ha Kohen
Rabbi Shlomo EliaschivBaal Notzer Chessed
The Rebbe mi ZidhitchovBaal Midrash Pinchas
Baal Kav ha YasharBaal Shulchan ha Tahor
Rabbi Chayim PallagiRabbi Avraham miSlonim Sefer Torat Avot
Rabbi Israel mi StolinRabbi Moshe Zachuta
Rabbi Asher mi StolinBaal Degel Machane Ephraim
Rav Meir Schwartz mi FaidhotzBaal Sefer Tzvi LaTzaddik
The Steipler RavBaal Maor va Shemesh
Baal Minchat AniBaal Sefer Tzvi LaTzaddik
Baal Totzaot ChayimBaal Sefer Kisse Eliyahu
Baal Shomer EmunimBaal Sefer Zechira la Chayyim
Baal Noam ha levavot Baal Kehillot Yaakov Erech Sod
Rabbi Shabtai RoshkobedBaal Sefer Avraham BeMachaze Baal Hadarat Melech
Baal Imre PinchasRabbi Moshe Basula
Rabbi Yaakov mi LissaBaal Sherit Israel
Rabbi Yosef Zundel mi SalantBaal Shivche ha Arizal
Baal Beit Aharon Rabbi Avraham miSlonim Sefer Torat Avot

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Chaim Apsan

Chaim is a teacher and Kabbalah enthusiast. He loves helping Jews connect with true Torah teaching and enhancing their spiritual growth. With a focus on meditation, he guides individuals on transformative journeys of prayer, contemplation, and connection with Hashem. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and kids, and is committed to sharing the wisdom and power of Kabbalah in a genuine way.

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