What Is Tikunei Zohar?

Tikunei haZohar, also known as the Tikunim (תקונים), is a main text of the Kabbalah. It is a separate appendix to the Zohar consisting of seventy commentaries on the opening word of the Torah, Bereishit (בראשית), in a style of Kabbalistic Midrash. Containing deep secret teachings of Torah, stirring dialogues and fervent prayers, the explicit and apparent theme and intention of Tikunei haZohar is to repair and support the Shekhinah or Malkhut — hence its name, “Repairs of the Zohar” — and to bring on the Redemption and conclude the Exile.

Tikunei haZohar is almost entirely in Aramaic, except for quotations from Tanakh that are used in building the lessons. The Aramaic of Tikunei haZohar differs somewhat from the Aramaic of the Talmud, and from the Aramaic of the rest of the Zohar.

By Tikunei haZohar’s own account, the book was composed by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Rabbi Elazar (see the story of their hiding in the cave, below), with contribution from the soul of Ra`aya Meheimna (The Faithful Shepherd, i.e. Moshe) and from Eliyahu, of blessed memory; and with help from the souls of Tzadikim, headed by the soul of Adam haRishon and several Sabbas (“Elders”) who came from Gan Eden to reveal new secrets of the Torah to Rabbi Shimon and his “Chevraya Kadisha” (“Holy Friends”). This accords with the text of Tikunei haZohar having a somewhat different a dialect from—and much less stylistic variation than—the rest of the Zohar, which according to tradition was compiled by Rabbi Shimon but includes earlier sources and contains additions by later generations.

The Zohar Chadash (parashat ki tavo, daf 73a) states that because no human knew the hiding place of Rabbi Shimon and his son, the Chevraya Kadisha would send notes to Rabbi Shimon with their questions by means of a dove, and he would reply to them the same way, via the dove. Rabbi Shimon was distressed that there was nobody to reveal the secrets of the Torah to the Chevraya Kadisha, and therefore when he went out from the cave he began to reveal secrets of the Torah to them, part of which is the book Tikunei haZohar.