According to Kabbalistic tradition, the Almighty handed the Zohar to Moses at Mount Sinai, and it remained in an oral state until in the second century. It was at that time that Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai transformed it from the oral state into its written state. Many scholars believe that the Spanish Kabbalist Moshe de Leon, some 1,100 years later, actually wrote the Zohar and then back-credited the work to Shimon be Yochai. If this is true, then we might call the Zohar a “plagiarism in reverse.”
According to Kabbalistic tradition, not everyone can study the Zohar. The mystics tell us that its readers are to be married men over the age of 40. To add to its mystic, these men are to study the Zohar only late at night. Despite these prohibitions, and the fact that translation is extremely difficult, many modern bookstores sell the Zohar, or parts of it. Perhaps because reading the Zohar takes one into another dimension of the mind, the book is popular with both Hollywood stars and New Age thinkers.
The Zohar (even in English translation) is a book that leads its reader into a spiritual world, filled with deep insights into the nature of humanity and the universe. We might call the Zohar an intellectual and spiritual travel log. The book “tells” the story of wandering mystics whose journeys (throughout the land of Israel) take us to new psychological dimensions. In it, we meet the interaction between two worlds: the tangible and the intangible, between reality and perceived reality. Among the “places” the journey takes us is to the nature of man, the relationships between the spiritual human and the physical human, to a world filled with sins and fears, rituals and Divine attributes. Throughout the journey we are in a world of perpetual exile that touches upon reality’s absurdities.