“Introduction of The Book of Zohar,” Article “The Seventh Commandment,” Item 225: In the Merkava [chariot/structure] of the throne, the face of a lion is on the right and the face of the ox is on the left. The ox is called “a whole [Tam] ox” since in the Merkava of the throne there is an inscription of the covenant.
Question: Is it possible to create a dictionary of spiritual terms appropriate for our level, which would explain the different words from The Zohar, like “ox,” “structure” “(Merkava),” “lion,” “serpent,” and so on? This would help to replace the words that remind us of physical images with spiritual forces according to their definition while reading. Is this a correct approach to studying The Zohar?
Answer: Everything depends upon the way we agree to speak between us. When we have a common perception, we speak according to this sensation. When we do not perceive the events in the same way but understand them (a lower level than perception), we, let us say, speak using scientific terms and formulas.
This excerpt of The Zohar uses words like “ox,” “donkey,” “throne,” and so on. If we were to replace them with forces, we would need to specify the kind of force it is, from which Sefira or property it comes. While here, one word is used to refer to the same force, for example, “ox” or “whole ox.” This language is more concise because it relies on your understanding to what it refers.
This only refers to the Lights and Kelim (desires) because we have nothing else about which to speak. How can I convey to you the connection of the Lights and Kelim in a specific form? Should I draw it for you in a graph? Play a tune? Give you a formula? Describe the image of this world that results from their connection? How can I explain to you the exact spiritual state, the combination of the Light and the Kli, about which I am speaking?
This is why Kabbalists have found four languages to describe the upper system of governance of our world: the language of Tanach, Hagaddot (Legends), Kabbalah, and Halachot (Talmud), and they use them to convey their attainments to us. These languages are mixed in The Zohar.
The Zohar itself is mainly written with the language of the Talmud (Midrash), even though it also uses a little of the language of the Tanach or the Legends, and Baal HaSulam adds the language of Kabbalah to it. And when they are parallel, you can more or less keep the correct direction of thought.
But how can languages help you if you do not have spiritual attainment and you do not perceive to what the text is referring? Nothing can help you! You only need to think about receiving more influence in order to begin to perceive.
It works the same way in our world: You can tell me anything you want, but if I have never experienced it, whatever you are telling me is dead to me, or in the best case scenario, I might be able to imagine it through an analogy to something with which I am already familiar.
But if I do not know anything about the spiritual world, there are no tales that can help me. For this reason, our entire study comes down to striving to perceive these spiritual notions, to want our eyes to open.
From the 2nd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 2/17/2011, “Introduction of The Book of Zohar”