Shemot: Chapter 53

"My beloved is mine, and I am his, he feeds among the lilies"


Rabbi Shimon first discourses on the creation of the upper and lower worlds. He explains that God created both worlds at the same moment by one thought. He chose the angels to be His servants in the upper realm and He chose Yisrael to be His children in the lower realm. The phrase, "My beloved is mine, and I am His," signifies the reciprocation of this filial relationship between God and Yisrael.

Rabbi Shimon then interprets the symbolic meaning of, "He feeds among the roses." This, we're told, signifies that God leads this world from the attribute of Judgment, alluded to by the red color of the rose, to the attribute of Mercy, alluded to by the white color of the nectar. Rabbi Aba then expounds upon the spiritual significance of the scent of the rose, and explaining that this is why we smell the myrtle at the end of Shabbat.

Another explanation of the title verse interprets it as an allusion to the sinner, who is called 'red,' who puts a sacrificial offering into the fire, which is also red, and then sprinkles the blood around the altar. The white smoke that rises from the burnt offering alludes to the conversion of the attribute of Justice into the attribute of Compassion. The burning of incense involves the same principle, since both the offering and the scent of the offering is red and white. Rabbi Yosi then explains that this also applies to the individual, who must offer red and white in order to obtain atonement. Since the destruction of the Temple, man must sacrifice his own fat (white) and blood (red) by fasting. The fasting causes the body to weaken and burn, symbolizing the sacrificial fire, and the scent that rises from his mouth is then an altar of atonement.

The section concludes with alternative explanations of the title verse, one of which points out that just as roses could not exist without thorns, the Righteous would not be recognizable without the wicked.


The essential purpose behind our creation was for the Creator to bestow endless joy upon His created beings. Thus, God created an infinite Desire to Receive all that He could share. This Desire to Receive is man's essential feature and core being. In fact, this entire universe, known as Malchut, is comprised of this great Desire.

The Light corresponds to the Creator's Will to Share. This infinite sharing aspect is embodied by the Upper World, known as Zeir Anpin. When Malchut (our world) is joined with Zeir Anpin (the Upper World), the Divine act of sharing can now manifest. Our world and our souls receive infinite Light.

This section, notably verse 359, unites Zeir Anpin with Malchut, the Light of the Creator with our souls. Untold pleasure and serenity fills our lives.

Later in this passage, the Zohar's poetic references to the red rose and its white nectar ignite the forces of mercy and compassion, so that judgment and evil may be purged from our world. The traits that compel us to sin cease to exist, as the scent of Light emanating from this passage eradicates them.

We summon forth the power of the ancient sacrifices to cleanse away our iniquities. As we meditate upon this action, we must acknowledge and sacrifice our own self-indulgent qualities, which correspond to the fat burned upon the altar. Our remorseful reading becomes our personal atonement for all of our iniquities. We also share this energy with the world, causing humanity to atone for its collective sins throughout history.