Another explanation for "Issachar is a strong donkey": (Gen. 49:14) He opened by saying: "To David. G‑d is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? G‑d is the stronghold of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalms 27:1) How dear are the words of the Torah, how beloved those who study the Torah before G‑d. He who studies the Torah need not be afraid of the evildoers in the world, for he is protected Above and protected Below. Moreover, he subdues the demons in the world and pushes them down into the great abyss. [This is how G‑d protects all those who study.]

Come and see: when night falls, the gates [of the upper Palaces that direct and extend to the world] are closed [so the external forces may not connect to them], and dogs and donkeys dwell and roam about the world [during the first two watches of the night]. Permission is given to the evildoers to destroy, and the inhabitants of the world sleep in their beds. The souls of the righteous ascend to take pleasure Above [in the Garden of Eden]. When the north wind stirs at midnight, there is holy awakening in the world, as has been explained in several places.

Happy is the portion of the man who rises from his bed at that time, to study the Torah. When he studies the Torah, he puts all the evil demons into the holes of the great abyss and subdues the donkey and brings it down into the holes underneath the ground, into the filth of the refuse and the dung [of the kelipot].

Hence Issachar, who studied the Torah, subdued the [kelipa called] donkey, and brought it down from that level it had risen to in order to harm the world, and was brought into its place between the sheepfolds, the filth of those kelipot that control the dust of the ground.

Come and see: It is written: "And he saw that rest was good and the land that it was pleasant and became a servant to tribute." "And he saw that rest was good" is the Written Law [which gives light to the world, as it says, "And G‑d saw the light, and it was good"], while "and the land that it was pleasant" is the Oral Law. "And he bowed his shoulder to bear" the yoke of the Torah, and cleave to it days and nights, "and became a servant to tribute" to serve G‑d and cling to Him, thus weakening himself through it.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida pick this passage, and what are they trying to teach us?

This is the last Zohar we will learn for the Book of Genesis. And we end as we began, by praising what you dear readers are doing right this moment. Learning Torah. We are told to learn for the Torah's own sake; but if we have ulterior motives, we still pursue it!!!

Who can fathom the power of this learning? How many souls are being redeemed, how many holy sparks rectified, how many blemishes cleansed, how much negativity subdued, how better we are right now?!!!

Hinei Mah Tov umaNaim: How good and pleasant for us to learn the Written Torah (the various passages interpreted by the Zohar) and the Oral Torah (the mystical commentary)!

Shevet Ahim Gam Yahad. As we sit cyberspacely and learn as brothers/sisters together. Hazak Hazak Hazak = Moses.

May we be zocheh/fortunate to continue this project for the remaining 4 Books of this awesome Torah!

What does this mean to you, and why are you reading it now?

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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