Introduction to Gershom Scholem's "Milon HaZohar" Card Index
The Index consists of thousands of cards arranged in alphabetical order. Each card deals with a word from the Zohar, providing Scholem's explication (and often German translation), references to the various places in the Zohar where the word appears, parallels in other Kabbalistic texts and even references to relevant scholarly works. Following the regular card entries there are numerous addenda which are divided by topics, including names of people, places and books, abbreviations and numbers etc. Some of the addenda are not references to the Zohar, but rather to the Kabbalistic school known as the "Circle of Contemplation".
Today words that appear in the Zohar can be easily located be completed by means of computerized databases, the Index remains an irreplaceable tool for Kabbalah scholars because it reflects the opinions of Gershom Scholem, the greatest Kabbalah scholar of the twentieth century.
A scholar who wishes to clarify a term from the Zohar, or a scholar of Zohar Aramaic, simply must consult Scholem's Index in the course of his research. Only after taking Scholem's opinion into consideration can he pursue his own line of investigation.
I would like to thank Prof. Daniel Abrams for his contribution to this project.
Notes on Using the Card Index
1. Note that the numbers that appear on the cards 1-137 are not Scholem's. They were added later.
2. Scholem sometimes wrote only on the front of the card, but ordinarily he wrote on both sides (recto and verso).
3. The Index was written over many years and it is almost impossible to date the individual entries. Later additions (from the 1970s) can be identified because they are written in ballpoint rather than fountain pen, sometimes in blue ink.
4. An "average" card features:
a. The entry itself, in alphabetical order. Usually on one card, sometimes on several cards numbered by Scholem.
b. A basic definition in Hebrew. Sometimes several definitions or sense of the word. Sometimes Scholem provides no definition.
c. Aramaic-Hebrew translation based on root forms, including different words derived from the same root.
d. Examples of places where the word appears in the Zohar and explanatory editions of the Zohar, by page and volume (as per the usual practice of reference to the Zohar)
e. References to other works that feature the word, mainly 13th century
Kabbalistic texts such as the writing of R. Moshe de Leon (to whom Scholem ascribed authorship of the Zohar) and R. Yosef Gikatilla. There are also later references to Kabbalah such as R. Yeshayahu Horowitz.
f. References to articles by Scholem
g. Notes in German and Hebrew