The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:45 pm

Part 5 of 6

AND WERE FINISHED: implying that all the work which was to be done, both above and below, was finished. THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH: above and below. R. Simeon said: 'These words designate the general fabric of the Written Law, and the general fabric of the Oral Law. The words AND ALL THEIR HOSTS designate the details of the Torah, the seventy alternative explanations of the Torah; while the words AND THEY WERE COMPLETED imply that the two Torahs are complementary to one another. Or again, "heaven and earth" may be interpreted as the general and the particular, and "all their hosts" as the inner meanings of the Torah, its rules concerning clean and unclean, etc. AND GOD FINISHED BY MEANS OF THE SEVENTH DAY: this is the Oral Law, which is the "seventh day", and through which the world was completed and the whole is preserved. HIS WORK WHICH HE HAD MADE, but not the whole of His work, because it was the Written Torah which produced the Whole through the power of the Writing which issued from Wisdom. The words "on the seventh day" are used here three times, viz. "and God finished on the seventh day", "and he rested on the seventh day", and "and God blessed the seventh day". The "seventh day" in the first of these quotations is the Oral Torah, because with this seventh day the world was completed, as we have said. "And he rested on the seventh day" refers to the "Foundation of the world". In the book of R. Yeba the Elder it says that this is the Jubilee, and hence it is written here "from the whole of his work" because the Whole issues from it. We, however, interpret it of the Foundation, because this is the chief source of rest and contentment. And "God blessed the seventh day" refers to the High Priest, who blesses all, and who always takes the first share, as we have learnt: "The High Priest takes the first share, and blessings open with him, and he is called seventh." R. Yesa the Elder says: These two mentions of the "seventh day" refer one to the Foundation of the world and one to the Column of the centre. AND HE SANCTIFIED IT: the word otho (it) means also "his sign" (cf. II Sam. xv, 25), and so refers to the place in which the sign of the covenant is fixed. This is the abode of all the celestial sanctifications, and from it they descend upon the community of Israel to bestow upon it all kinds of luxuries and dainties. This may be illustrated from the verse "From Asher his bread is fat, and he shall give the dainties of a king" (Gen. XLIX, 20). "Asher" we interpret as the perfect covenant. "His bread is fat" means that what was bread of affliction has been converted into bread of luxury. The "king" is the community of Israel, to whom it gives all the luxuries in the world. FOR ON IT HE RESTED: in it all find rest and contentment, upper and lower, and in it is the Sabbath for rest. WHICH GOD CREATED TO MAKE: As "remembering" finds its fulfilment in "keeping", so here "creating" is implemented by "making", to establish firmly the work of the world; "to make" indicates the world's artificer, through whom the whole is carried on.' R. Simeon further explained the verse as follows. He said: 'It is written, Who keepeth the covenant and the kindness (Deut. v, 10). "Who keepeth" indicates the community of Israel; "the covenant" indicates the Foundation of the world; "kindness" indicates Abraham. The community of Israel is that which keeps the covenant and the kindness, and it is called "keeper of Israel", and guards the gate of the Whole, and on it depend all the works of the world. This it is which "God created to make", i.e. to perfect and finish off the whole, and to bring forth spirits and souls and even spirits and demons. Do not think that these also are not for the good of the world, for they serve for the punishment of the wicked, whom they find out and admonish; for he who proceeds towards the left becomes entangled in the left side, and is set upon by them. Hence they are of use.

'We read that God said with regard to Solomon, "I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the plagues of the children of men" (II Sam. VII, 14). These "plagues of the children of men" are the demons. They were created just at the moment when the Sabbath was sanctified. [22] and they were left spirit without body. These are the creatures which were not [48a] finished; they are from the left, dross of gold, and because they were not finished and remained defective, the holy name is not mentioned in connection with them, and they do not cleave to it, and are in great terror of it. The holy name does not rest upon anything defective. Hence a man who departs from life defective through not having left a son behind him cannot attach himself to the holy name. and is not admitted within the curtain, because he is defective. and a tree which has been uprooted must be planted over again; for the holy name is perfect on every side, and no defect can attach to it. Those creatures we have mentioned are rejected both above and below, and therefore they have no sure place either above or below. It is these which are meant by the words" which God created to make", i.e. they were not made into finished beings either above or below. You may ask, seeing that they are spirits, why were not these beings finished off above? The answer is that they were not finished below on the earth, and therefore they were not finished above. They all have their origin in the side of the left; they are invisible to men and hover round them to do them mischief. They have three features in common with the angels and three in common with human beings, as has been laid down elsewhere. After they had been created, they were left behind the millstones of the chasm of the great abyss during the night and the day of Sabbath. When the sanctity of the day expired, they came out into the world in their unfinished state and commenced flying about in all directions. They became a great danger to the world, because with them the whole of the left side roused itself and the fire of Gehinnom began to flash, and all the denizens of the left side commenced to roam about the world. They sought to clothe themselves in bodies, but were not able. Hence we require protection against them, and therefore the recital of the "hymn of accidents" (Ps. XCI) has been prescribed for every occasion when danger is threatened from them. For when the Sabbath is sanctified on Friday evening, a tabernacle of peace descends from heaven and is spread over the world. This tabernacle of peace is the Sabbath, and when it comes down, all evil spirits and demons and all the creatures which defile hide themselves within the orifice of the millstones of the chasm of the great abyss. For when sanctity spreads over the world, the spirit of uncleanliness remains inactive, since the two shun one another. Hence the world is under special protection (on the Sabbath eve), and we do not require to say the prayer "who keepeth his people Israel for ever, amen". This prayer has been prescribed for week-days, when protection is needed. But on Sabbath a tabernacle of peace is spread over the world, which is thus sheltered on all sides. Even the sinners in Gehinnom are protected, and all beings are at peace, both in the upper and lower spheres, and therefore we conclude our prayer this day with the words "who spreads a tabernacle of peace over us and over all his people Israel and over Jerusalem". (The reason why Jerusalem is mentioned is because it is the abode of the tabernacle.) Thus it behoves us to invite that tabernacle to spread itself over us and to rest upon us and to shield us as a mother shields her children, so that we should feel secure on every side. See now, when Israel by reciting this blessing invite this tabernacle of peace to their homes as a holy guest, a divine sanctity comes down and spreads its wings over Israel like a mother encompassing her children. Then all evil spirits disappear from the world, and Israel are at rest under the sheltering sanctity of their Master. Further, this tabernacle of peace imparts new souls to her children. For souls have their abode in her and issue from her, and so when she comes down and spreads her wings over her children, it sheds a new soul on each one of them.' R. Simeon said further: 'It is on this account that, as we have learnt, Sabbath is a mirror of the future world. For this same reason, too, the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee mirror one another. This additional soul descends from the mystic force implied in the word zachor (remember) upon the tabernacle of peace, being taken [48b] from the future world. and the tabernacle gives it to the holy people. who are gladdened by it and enabled to forget all worldly matters and all their troubles and sorrows. thus realising the words of the prophet, "on the day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow. and from thy trouble. and from the hard service, etc." (Is. XIV, 3). Therefore on Friday night a man should have a full-course meal, to show that this tabernacle of peace has been formed by a union of all principles. provided only that he leaves himself enough for one meal the next day, or, according to others (and this is more correct), for two meals. All the more so. of course. if he has more than enough left for the next day. For children two dishes are enough; [23] and so the colleagues agreed. The function of lighting the Sabbath light has been entrusted to the women of the holy people: as the colleagues put it. "woman put out the light of the world and brought darkness, etc."; and so we agree. There is, however. a more esoteric reason. This tabernacle of peace is the Matron of the world. and the souls which are the celestial lamp abide in her. Hence it behoves the matron to kindle the light, because thereby she is attaching herself to her rightful place and performing her rightful function. A woman should kindle the Sabbath light with zest and gladness. because it is a great honour for her, and, further, she qualifies herself thereby to become the mother of holy offspring who will grow to be shining lights of learning and piety and will spread peace in the world. and she also procures long life for her husband. Hence she should be very careful to observe this ceremony. Observe that the words "remember" and "keep" in the commandment of the Sabbath (Ex. XX, 8. and Deut. v. 12). Both apply equally to the day and to the night; nevertheless "remember" has a more special application to the man and "keep" to the woman, whose chief observance is at night.'

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AND THE LORD GOD BUILT (vayiven) THE SIDE WHICH HE HAD TAKEN FROM THE MAN. ETC. Said R. Simeon: 'It is written. God understandeth the way thereof and he knoweth the place thereof (Job XXVIII, 23). This verse may be taken in many ways. One is that the word "understood" (hevin) has the same sense as vayiven in the second chapter of Genesis. Hence the "side" here is the Oral Law, which forms a "way", as it is written, "who maketh a way in the sea" (Is. XLIII, 16). Similarly, "place" here can be interpreted as the Written Law, which is a source of knowledge. The double name "Lord God" is used to show that it was completed in all details, Hence it is called both Hokmah (wisdom) and Binah (understanding). "The side" (zela') is the unclear mirror, as it is written, "they rejoiced at my halting (be-zal'i) and gathered together" (Ps. XXXV, 15). "Which he took from the man": because the Oral Law issued from the Written Torah. INTO A WOMAN: to be linked with the flame of the left side, because the Torah was given from the side of Geburah. Further, ishah (woman) may be analysed into esh he (fire of he), signifying the union of the two. AND HE BR0UGHT HER TO THE MAN: as much as to say that the Oral Torah must not be studied by itself, but in conjunction with the Written Torah, which then nourishes and supports it and provides all its needs. (We have similarly explained the words "and the earth".) We learn from this passage that when a man gives his daughter in marriage, up to the time of the wedding the father and mother are responsible for her upkeep, but once she is married the husband has to support her and provide all her necessaries. For it first says here that the Lord God built up the side, i.e. that the Father and Mother provided for her, but afterwards "he brought her to the man", that they might be closely united to one another, and the man might thenceforth provide all her requirements. [49a] According to another explanation this verse has a deep esoteric meaning, viz. that the primal point is unknowable save to God, who "understands its way", i.e. the future world, while "He", i.e. the great inscrutable called hu (he) "knows its place".'

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AND THE LORD GOD FORMED THE MAN. At this point he was completely formed so as to partake both of the Right and of the Left. We laid down before that he was wholly under the aegis of the good inclination: now God formed him with both good and evil inclination -- with the good inclination for himself, and the evil inclination to turn towards the female. Esoterically speaking, we learn from here that the North is always attracted to the female and attaches itself to her, and therefore she is called isha (i.e. esh he, fire of he). Observe this. The good inclination and the evil inclination are in harmony only because they share the female, who is attached to both, in this way: first the evil inclination sues for her and they unite with one another, and when they are united the good inclination, which is joy, rouses itself and draws her to itself, and so she is shared by both and reconciles them. Hence it is written, "and the Lord God formed man", the double name being made responsible both for the good and the evil inclination. THE MAN: as we have explained, male and female, together and not separated, so as to turn face to face. Hence it is written DUST FROM THE GROUND. The use of the word "ground" (adamah) here must be explained. When the wife is joined with the husband she is called by the name of the husband; thus the correlatives ish (man) and ishah, zaddik (righteous one), and zedek, 'ofer (buck) and 'efar, zebi (hart), and zibia. So, too, with the words asher (which) and asherah. It says, 'Thou shalt not plant thee an Asherah (grove) of any kind of tree beside the altar of the Lord thy God which (asher) thou shalt make thee.' Are we to suppose that anywhere else it is permitted? The truth is that the He is called Asherah, after the name of its spouse, Asher, and the meaning of the verse is therefore: 'thou shalt not plant another asherah by the side of the altar which is established upon this.' Observe that throughout the Scriptures the worshippers of the sun are called servants of Baal and the worshippers of the moon servants of Asherah; hence the combination 'to Baal and Asherah.' If this is so (that Asherah is the name of the He), why is it not used as a sacred name? The reason is that this name brings to mind the words of Leah, 'happy am I, for the daughters will call me happy (ishruni)', but this one is not 'called happy' by other nations, and another is set up in its place; nay more, it is written, 'all that honoured her despise her' (Lam. I, 8). But the real altar is one that is made of earth, as it is written, 'An altar of earth thou shalt make for me.' Hence 'dust from the earth'. AND HE BREATHED INTO HIS NOSTRILS THE BREATH OF LIFE. The breath of life was enclosed in the earth, which was made pregnant with it like a female impregnated by the male. So the dust and the breath were joined, and the dust became full of spirits and souls. AND THE MAN BECAME A LIVING SOUL. At this point he attained his proper form, and became a man to support and nourish the living soul.

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AND THE LORD GOD BUILT. Here also the full name of the Deity is used, indicating that the father and mother provided for her until she came to her husband. THE SIDE: 'black but comely'; she was the 'unclear mirror', but the father and mother tricked her out so as to make her acceptable to her husband. AND BROUGHT HER TO THE MAN. From this we learn that it is incumbent on the father and mother of the bride to transfer her to the charge of the bridegroom; so we read 'my daughter I have given to this man' (Deut. XXII, 16). From that point the husband is to come to her, since the house is hers; so it is written 'and he came to her' (Gen. XXIX, 23), 'and he came in to Rachel' (Ibid.). Of the father and mother it is written that they 'brought', but of the husband that he 'came', to show that he must obtain her permission. We make a similar reflection on the verse, 'And he prayed in the place and tarried there' (Gen. XXVIII, II), viz. that Jacob sought permission first. From this we learn that a man who desires his wife's society [49b] must first entreat and coax her; and if he cannot persuade her, he must not stay with her, for their companionship must be loving and unconstrained. It says further of Jacob that 'he tarried there because the sun had set', which shows that sexual intercourse is forbidden during the day. Further it says that 'he took of the stones of the place and put it under his head'. From this we learn that even a king who has a bed of gold with precious coverings, if his wife prepares for him a bed of stones, must leave his own bed and sleep on the one which she prepares, as it is written, 'and he lay down in that place'. Observe that it says here AND THE MAN SAID, THIS TIME, ETC., to show that he spoke to her lovingly so as to draw her to him and to win her affections. See how tender and coaxing is his language -- 'bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh' -- to prove to her that they were one and inseparable. Then he began to sing her praises: THIS SHALL BE CALLED WOMAN, this is the peerless and incomparable one; this is the pride of the house, who surpasses all other women as a human being surpasses an ape. This one is perfect in all points, and alone merits the title of woman. Every word is inspired by love, like the verse 'Many daughters have done valiantly, but thou excellest them all' (Prov. XXXI, 29) THEREFORE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND HIS MOTHER AND CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE, AND THEY SHALL BE ONE FLESH: all this, too, was to win her affection and to draw her closer.

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AND THE SERPENT WAS SUBTLE. After the man had addressed all these words to the woman, the evil inclination awoke, prompting him to seek to unite with her in carnal desire, and to entice her to things in which the evil inclination takes delight, until at last THE WOMAN SAW THAT THE TREE WAS GOOD FOR FOOD, AND THAT IT WAS A DELIGHT FOR THE EYES AND SHE TOOK OF THE FRUIT THEREOF AND ATE -- giving ready admission to the evil inclination -- AND GAVE ALSO UNTO HER HUSBAND WITH HER: it was she now who sought to awaken desire in him, so as to win his love and affection. This account shows the proceedings of human beings after the model of those above. Said R. Eleazar, 'If so, what are we to make of the evil inclination seizing the female above ?' He said: 'It has already been observed that one set (Left and Right) is above and one set below, viz. the good inclination and the evil inclination; the good inclination on the right and the evil inclination on the left. The Left above seizes the female to join with her in the body, as it is written, "his left hand under my head, etc." (S. S. II, 6). In this way the passage can be interpreted as applying both above and below. The rest of the points are not at all recondite, and a child almost could elucidate them; and the colleagues have noted them.'

R. Simeon was once going to Tiberias accompanied by R. Jose and R. Judah and R. Hiya. On the way they saw R. Phineas coming towards them. When they met, they dismounted and sat down under a large tree. Said R. Phineas, 'Now that I am sitting here, I should like to hear some of those wonderful ideas to which you daily give utterance.' R. Simeon thereupon opened a discourse with the text, And he went on his journeys from the South even unto Bethel, unto the place where his tent was at first, between Bethel and Ai (Gen. XIII, 3). He said: 'The word "journeys" is used here where we might have expected "journey", to indicate that the Shekinah was journeying with him. It is incumbent on a man to be ever "male and female", in order that his faith may be firm, and that the Shekinah may never depart from him. What, then, you will say, of a man who goes on a journey and, being absent from his wife, is no longer "male and female"? His remedy is to pray to God before he starts his journey, while he is still "male and female", in order to draw to himself the presence of his Master. When he has offered his prayer and thanksgiving and the Shekinah rests on him. then he can depart, for through his union with the Shekillah he has become "male and female" in the country as he was "male and female" in the town, as it is written: "Righteousness (zedek, the female of zaddik) shall go before him and shall place his footsteps on the way" (Ps. LXXXV, 14.). Observe this. All [50a] the time that a man is on his travels he should be very careful of his actions, in order that the celestial partner may not desert him and leave him defective. through lacking the union with the female. If this was necessary when his wife was with him, how much more so is it necessary when a heavenly partner is attached to him? All the more so since this heavenly partner guards him on the way all the time until he returns home. When he does reach home again, it is his duty to give his wife some pleasure, because it is she who procured for him this heavenly partner. It is his duty to do this for two reasons. One is that this pleasure is a religious pleasure, and one which gives joy to the Shekinah also, and what is more, by its means he spreads peace in the world, as it is written, "thou shalt know that thy tent is in peace, and thou shalt visit thy fold and not sin" (Job. V, 24). (Is it a sin, it may be asked, if he does not visit his wife? The answer is that it is so because he thereby derogates from the honour of the celestial partner who was joined with him on account of his wife.) The other is, that if his wife becomes pregnant, the celestial partner imparts. to the child a holy soul, for this covenant is called the covenant of the Holy One, blessed be He. Therefore he should be as diligent to procure this gladness as to procure the gladness of the Sabbath, which is the partner of the Sages. Hence "thou shalt know that thy tent is in peace", since the Shekinah comes with thee and abides in thy house, and therefore "thou shalt visit thy house and not sin", by performing with gladness the religious duty of conjugal intercourse in the presence of the Shekinah. In this way the students of the Torah who separate from their wives during the six days of the week in order to devote themselves to study are accompanied by a heavenly partner in order that they may continue to be "male and female". When Sabbath comes, it is incumbent on them to gladden their wives for the sake of the honour of the heavenly partner, and to seek to perform the will of their Master, as has been said. Similarly again, if a man's wife is observing the days of her separation, during all those days that he waits for her the heavenly partner is associated with him, so that he is still "male and female". When his wife is purified, it is his duty to gladden her through the glad performance of a religious precept. All the reasons we have mentioned above apply to this ease also. The esoteric doctrine is that men of true faith should concentrate their whole thought and purpose on this one (the Shekinah). You may object that, according to what has been said, a man enjoys greater dignity when he is on a journey than when he is at home, on account of the heavenly partner who is then associated with him. This is not so. For when a man is at home, the foundation of his house is the wife, for it is on account of her that the Shekinah departs not from the house. So our teachers have understood the verse, "and he brought her to the tent of his mother Sarah" (Gen. XXIV, 67), to indicate that with Rebecca the Shekinah came to Isaac's house. Esoterically speaking, the supernal Mother is found in company with the male only at the time when the house is prepared, and the male and female are joined. Then the supernal Mother pours forth blessings for them. Similarly the lower Mother is not found in company with the male save when the house is prepared and the male visits the female and they join together; then the lower Mother pours forth blessings for them. Hence the man in his house is to be encompassed by two females, like the Male above. There is an allusion to this in the verse "Unto ('ad) the desire of the everlasting hills" (Gen. XLIX, 26). This 'ad is the object of the desire of the "everlasting hills", viz. the supreme female, who is to prepare for him and beatify and bless him, and the secondary female, who is to be conjoined with him and to be supported by him. Similarly below, when the man is married the desire of the "everlasting hills" is towards him, and he is beatified by two females, one of the upper and one of the lower world -- the upper one to pour blessings upon him, and the lower one to be supported by him and to be conjoined with him. So much for the man in his house. When, however, he goes forth on a journey, while the celestial Mother still accompanies him, the lower wife is left behind: so when he comes back he has to take measures to encompass himself with two females, as we have said.' Said R. Phineas: 'Even the angels above would not dare to open [50b] their mouths before thee.'

R. Simeon proceeded: 'In the same way the Torah is situated between two houses, one recondite and on high, and the other more accessible. The one on high is the "Great Voice" referred to in the verse, "a great voice which did no' cease" (Deut. V, 19). This Voice is in the recesses and is not heard or revealed, and when it issues from the throat it utters the aspirate without sound and it flows on without ceasing, though it is so tenuous as to be inaudible. From this issues the Torah, which is the voice of Jacob. The audible voice issues from the inaudible. In due course speech is attached to it, and through the force of that speech it emerges into the open. The voice of Jacob, which is the Torah, is thus attached to two females, to this inner voice which is inaudible, and to this outer voice which is heard. Strictly speaking, there are two which are inaudible and two which are heard. The two which are not heard are, first, the supernal Wisdom which is located in the Thought and is not disclosed or heard; and secondly the same Wisdom when it issues and discloses itself a little in a whisper which cannot be heard, being then called the "Great Voice", which is very tenuous and issues in a whisper. The two which are heard are those which issue from this source -- the voice of Jacob and the articulation which accompanies it. This "Great Voice" which cannot be heard is a "house" to the supernal Wisdom (the female is always called "house"), and the articulation we have mentioned is a "house" to the Voice of Jacob, which is the Torah, and therefore the Torah commences with the letter beth, which is, as it were, a "house" to it.' R. Simeon here drew a parallel between the creation of heaven and earth and of woman. ' "In the beginning God created",' he said. 'corresponds to "And the Lord God built the side"; "the heavens" corresponds to "and he brought her to the man"; "and the earth" corresponds to "bone from my bone", since this one assuredly is "the land of the living".'

R. Simeon further gave an exposition of the verse: The Lord said unto my lord, Sit at my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool (Ps. ex, I). "The Lord saith unto my lord": 'to wit, the upper grade said to the lower, "sit at my right hand", in order that the West should be linked with the South and the Left with the Right so as to break the power of the Gentiles. Or again, "The Lord" is (the celestial) Jacob, and "to my lord" is "the ark of the covenant, the lord of all the earth" (Josh. III, II). According to another explanation, "the Lord" refers to the Jubilee and "my lord" to the Sabbatical Year (cf. Ex. XXI, 5, "I love my lord"). The words "sit at my right hand" are appropriate, because the Right is located in the Jubilee, and the Sabbatical Year craves to be linked with the Right. When it first came into being, the Sabbatical Year was not linked securely (to the supreme power) through either the Right or the Left. So when it sought to secure itself, the supreme power stretched forth its right arm to meet it and created this world. It is because it is from the side of the Left that it has no sure basis till the time of the seventh millennium, when at length it will be linked through the Right. Then the Sabbatical Year, between the Right and the Left, will be securely based, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and it will not depart from there for ever. According to this explanation, we must take the words "sit at my right hand" to refer only to a specified period, viz. "till I make thine enemies thy footstool", but not in perpetuity; for when that event has come to pass, it will not depart from there for ever, as it is written, "for thou shalt spread abroad on the right hand and on the left" (Is. LIV, 3), all being united. Similarly we can interpret the text "the heavens and the earth" to mean that the higher Shekinah and the lower Shekinah will be joined in the union of male and female; this has already been explained, as the colleagues have noted.'

They now rose to depart, but R. Simeon said: 'I have still one thing more to tell you. It says in one place "For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire" (Deut. IV, 24), and in another place "Ye that clave to the Lord your God are all of you alive this day" (Deut. IV, 4). The apparent contradiction between these texts has already been discussed among the colleagues, but here is another explanation. It has already been established among the colleagues that there is a fire which consumes fire and destroys it, because there is one sort .of fire stronger than another. Pursuing this idea, we may say that he who desires to penetrate to the mystery of the holy unity should contemplate the flame which rises from a burning coal or candle. The flame cannot rise save [51a] from some concrete body. Further, in the flame itself there are two lights: one white and luminous, and the other black, or blue. The white light is the higher of the two and rises steadily. The black or blue light is underneath the other, which rests on it as on a pedestal. The two are inseparably connected, the white resting and being enthroned upon the black. (Herein is the inner significance of the fringe of blue.) This blue or black base is in turn attached to something beneath it which keeps it in flame and impels it to cling to the white light above. This blue or black light sometimes turns red, but the white light above never changes its colour. The lower light, which is sometimes black, sometimes blue, and sometimes red, is a connecting link between the white light to which it is attached above and to the concrete body to which it is attached below, and which keeps it alight. This light always consumes anything which is under it or which is brought in contact with it, for such is its nature, to be a source of destruction and death. But the white light which is above it never consumes or destroys and never changes. Therefore Moses said, "For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire", literally consuming all that is beneath him; that is why he said "thy God" and not "our God", because Moses was in that white light above which does not consume or destroy. Now observe. The impulse through which this blue light is set aflame and attaches itself to the white light comes only from Israel, who cleave to it from below. Further, although it is the nature of this blue or black light to consume everything that is in contact with it beneath, yet Israel are able to cleave to it from below and still exist; so it is written, "and ye that cleave to the Lord your God are all of you alive this day" . Your God and not our God: to wit, that blue or black flame which consumes and destroys all that cleaves to it from below; yet you cleave and are still alive. Above the white light and surrounding it is still another light scarcely perceptible, symbolical of the supreme essence. Thus the ascending flame symbolises the highest mysteries of wisdom.'

R. Phineas approached and kissed him, saying, 'Blessed be God who led my steps here.' They then accompanied R. Phineas on his way for three miles. When they came back, R. Simeon said: 'What I told you before furnishes a symbol of the sacred unification. The second hi of the holy name is the blue or black light which is attached to Yod, He, Vau, which are the white shining light. Sometimes this blue light is not he but daleth; that is to say, when Israel do not cleave to it from below so as to make it bum and cling to the white light, it is daleth, but when they give it the impulse to cling to the white light, it is he. For where male and female are not found together, hi is eliminated and only daleth is left (hence in Deut. XXII, 15, the word na'ar is used for "maiden" instead of na'arah, because she is not united with the male). But when the chain is complete, the hi cleaves to the white light and Israel cleave to it and feed its light without being destroyed. This is the secret of the sacrifice. The ascending smoke kindles the blue light, which then attaches itself [51b] to the white light, so that the whole candle is completely alight. Since it is the nature of this blue light to destroy and consume everything which is in contact with it underneath, when the sacrifice is pleasing and the candle is completely alight, then, as in the case of Elijah, "the fire of the Lord descends and consumes the burnt-offering" (I Kings XVIII, 38), this being a manifestation that the chain is complete, the blue light both cleaving to the white light and consuming the fat and flesh of the burnt-offering beneath it, for it does not consume what is beneath it save when it ascends and attaches itself to the white light. Then there is peace in all worlds, and the whole forms a unity. When the blue light has consumed all that is beneath it, the priests, the Levites, and the laity assemble at its foot with chanting, with meditation, and with prayer, the lamp burns above them, the lights are welded into one, worlds are illumined, and both those above and those below are blessed. Hence it is that "ye, even while cleaving to the Lord your God, are all alive this day". The word athem (you) here is preceded by the letter vau (and), to show that whereas the fat and the flesh which cleave to the flame are destroyed by it, you cleave to it and are still alive.'

All colours seen in a dream are of good presage, except blue; this is ever consuming and destroying, being the tree in which death is located. It spreads over the lower world, and because all things are situated beneath it, therefore they are perishable. It is true that it also pervades the heaven, and there are many objects there which are imperishable. These, however, are constituted of this blue light, whereas the lower ones are of coarser material, and constitute a lower world on which the upper one rests. Hence the blue light consumes and destroys them.' [24] [52a]

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AND THEY HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LORD GOD WALKING IN THE GARDEN. (Note the form mithalech (walking) instead of the usual mehalech.) Until he sinned, man was gifted with the wisdom of celestial illumination, and he did not for an instant quit the Tree of Life. But when he was seduced by his desire to know what was below, he weakly followed it until he became separated from the Tree of Life, and knew evil and forsook good: hence the Scripture says 'for thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, [52b] evil shall not sojourn with thee' (Ps. V. 5). He who is drawn after evil may not abide with the Tree of Life. Before they sinned, the human pair used to hear a voice from above, and were endowed with the higher wisdom; they stood erect with heavenly radiance, and knew no fear. When they sinned, they were not able to stand up even before an earthly voice. A similar thing happened later with the Israelites. When Israel stood before Mount Sinai, the impurity of the serpent was removed from them, so that carnal passion was suppressed among them, and in consequence they were able to attach themselves to the Tree of Life, and their thoughts were turned to higher things and not to lower. Hence they were vouchsafed heavenly illuminations and knowledge which filled them with joy and gladness. Further, God girt them with cinctures of the letters of the Holy Name, which prevented the serpent from gaining power over them or defiling them as before. When they sinned by worshipping the calf, they were degraded from their high estate and lost their illumination, they were deprived of the protective girdle of the Holy Name and became exposed to the attacks of the evil serpent as before, and so brought death into the world. After their sin, it is related that 'Aaron and the children of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come nigh him' (Ex. XXXIV, 30). Before that, however, we are told that 'Israel saw the great hand' (Ibid. XIV, 31) on the Red Sea, and that at Mount Sinai they all saw celestial lights and were illumined with the vision of clear prophecy, as it is written, 'And all the people saw the voices' (Ibid. XX, 18), and by the Red Sea they saw God and did not fear, as it is written, 'This is my God and I will praise him' (Ibid. XV, 2). But after they sinned, they were not able to look even on the face of the deputy (Moses). How was this? Because 'the children of Israel were deprived of their ornament from Mount Sinai', to wit, of the armour with which they were girt on Mount Sinai in order that the evil serpent should not have power over them. After this had been stripped from them we read that 'Moses took the tent and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp' (Ibid. XXXIII, 7). R. Eleazar explained the connection thus: 'When Moses perceived that Israel had been deprived of their heavenly armour, he said, "Of a surety the evil serpent will now come to dwell among them, and if the sanctuary remains here among them it will be defiled", and he therefore took the tent and pitched it outside, far from the camp.' 'And he called it the tent of meeting.' It had been such before, but had been called the 'tent', simply. The epithet 'of meeting' was now given to it, according to R. Eleazar, in compliment, according to R. Abba, in disparagement. R. Eleazar defended his view on the ground that moed (meeting, appointed time) is the word used of the day when the moon is in full career, when its holiness is increased and it is free from defect; so here, Moses gave the tent this name to show that it had been removed from the contagion of the people. R. Abba argued that the simple name 'tent' has the same implication as in the verse 'a tent that shall not be removed, the stakes of which shall never be plucked up' (Is. XXXIII, 20), i.e. that it designates something which confers eternity on the world and saves it from death, whereas the epithet 'meeting' is used in the same sense as in the phrase 'a house of meeting for all flesh' (i.e. the grave, Job xxx, 23), and indicates that now the life which it conferred was only for a limited period. At first it was unimpaired, but now it was impaired; at first the sun and the moon were in continuous union, but now their union was only from season to season (moed); hence the name 'tent of season' (moed).

R. Simeon was one night studying the Torah in company with R. Judah, R. Isaac, and R. Jose. Said R. Judah to him: 'We read that "the Israelites took off their ornament from Mount Horeb", and we go on to assert that they thereby brought death upon themselves, and once more placed themselves in the power of the evil serpent from whose clutches they had previously escaped. This may be true of the Israelites; but what of Joshua, who had not sinned? Are we to say that he was deprived of the armour which he received with them, or not? [53a] If not, why did he die like other people? If you say he was deprived, what was the reason, seeing that he had not sinned, as he was with Moses when the people sinned ? And if you say that he did not receive the same crown on Mount Sinai as the rest of the people, again, what was the reason ?' R. Simeon in reply quoted the text: For the Lord is righteous, he loveth righteousness, he is upright, men shall behold his face (Ps. XI, 7). He said: 'This verse has been variously explained by our colleagues, but it may be taken in this way. "For the Lord is righteous": to wit, He is righteous and His name is Righteous (Zaddik) and therefore He loves righteous deeds. He is also upright, as it is written, "righteous and upright is he" (Deut. XXXII, 4); and therefore all the inhabitants of the world behold His face, that they may amend their ways and walk in the straight path. For when God judges the world, He passes sentence only according to the conduct of the majority. Now when Adam sinned by eating of the forbidden tree, he caused that tree to become a source of death to all the world. He also caused imperfection by separating the Wife from her Husband. This imperfection was exhibited in the moon, until the time when Israel stood before Mount Sinai, when the moon was freed from its defect, and was in a position to shine continually. When Israel sinned by making the calf, the moon reverted to its former imperfection, and the evil serpent was able to seize her and draw her to him. When Moses saw that Israel had sinned and that they had been deprived of their holy armour, he knew full well that the serpent had seized the moon to draw her to him, and that she had become defective, and he therefore took her outside. Thus she has reverted to the defective state into which she was brought by the sin of Adam, and therefore no man can live permanently save Moses, who controls her, and whose death was due to a different cause. Hence she had not power to bestead permanently even Joshua, although he retained his holy armour; and it was therefore that Moses called her "tent of appointed time" (moed), to wit, the tent in which is an appointed time for all living. To speak more esoterically: there is a Right above and there is a Right below; there is a Left above and there is a Left below. There is a Right above in the realm of supernal holiness, and there is a Right below located in the "other side". There is a Left above in the realm of supernal holiness to procure indulgence for the moon, so as to link her to the holy place and enable her to shine. There is a Left below which estranges the upper realm from her and prevents her from reflecting the sun's light and drawing near to him. This is the side of the evil serpent, who, when this Left of the lower realm bestirs itself, draws the moon to himself and separates her from the upper world, so that her light is darkened. She then causes death to descend like a stream on all that is below; she cleaves to the serpent and departs from the Tree of Life, and so brings death on all the world. At such time the sanctuary is defiled till an appointed time when the moon is repaired and shines again. Hence the name "tent of appointed time" (moed), and hence it is that Joshua died only through the instigation of the serpent, which came up to the tent and rendered it imperfect as at first. This is the inner meaning of the verse, "And Joshua the son of Nun, a lad (naar), departed not from out the tent" (Ex. XXXIII, II). Although he was a "lad" (i.e. attendant) beneath qualified to receive the (celestial) light, he did not depart from out the tent: he shared in its imperfection; although he still had the holy armour, yet when the moon became imperfect, he also was not delivered from the same power which caused that imperfection. Similarly when Adam sinned, God took from him the armour of the bright and holy letters with which he had been encompassed, and then he and his wife were afraid, perceiving that they had been stripped; so it says AND THEY KNEW THAT THEY WERE NAKED. At first they had been invested with those glorious crowns which gave them protection and exemption from death. When they sinned, they were stripped of them, and then they knew that death was calling them, that they had been deprived of their exemption, and that they had brought death on themselves and on all the world.' [53b]

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AND THEY SEWED FIG LEAVES TOGETHER. This means, as explained elsewhere, that they learnt all kinds of enchantments and magic, and clung to worldly knowledge, as has been said. At that moment the stature of man was diminished by a hundred cubits. Thus a separation took place (of man from God), man was brought to judgement, and the earth was cursed, all as we have explained.

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AND HE DROVE OUT THE MAN. R. Eleazar said: 'We naturally suppose that "he" is the subject and "man" the object. The truth is, however, that "man" is the subject and the object is the accusative particle eth, so that we render "and the man drove out eth". Hence it is written, "And God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden", for the reason that he had divorced eth, as we have explained. AND HE PLACED: the subject is still "man"; it was he who fixed the Cherubim in this place, who closed the path to Paradise, who subjected the world to chastisement, and drew upon it curses from that day onward. THE FLAME OF A SWORD WHICH TURNED EVERY WAY: this refers to those beings who are ever in readiness to chastise the world, and who take all manner of shapes, being sometimes male, sometimes female, sometimes flaming fire and sometimes irresistible winds. All this is TO KEEP THE WAY OF THE TREE OF LIFE, so that man should not do any more mischief there. The "flaming sword" denotes those punitive spirits who heap fire on the heads of the wicked and sinners (in hell). They take various forms according to the offences of those who are punished. The word "flaming" (lahat) here has its analogy in the verse, "the day that cometh shall bum them up" (ve-lihat, Mal. III, 19). The "sword" is that mentioned in the verse, "The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, etc." (Is. XXXIV, 6).' R. Judah said: 'All those punitive spirits that we have mentioned, that assume so many various forms, are charged to maltreat and harry in this world the sinners who deliberately transgress the precepts of their Master. For when a man sins, he draws towards himself numbers of evil spirits and emissaries of punishment, before whom he quails in fear. Solomon was conversant with the mysteries of Wisdom, and God set upon his head the crown of royalty, and the whole world feared him. When, however, he sinned, he drew towards himself numbers of evil and punitive spirits, of whom he was much frightened, so that they were able to maltreat him and to take away his (precious) possessions. In truth, a man by his actions is always drawing to himself some emissary from the other world, good or evil according to the path which he treads. So Adam drew to himself an emissary of defilement who defiled him and all mankind after him. This was the evil serpent who is himself unclean and defiled the world. Our Sages have taught that when he draws the soul out of a man, there is left an unclean body which renders the whole house unclean, and all those that touch it, as it is written, "He that touches a dead body, etc." (Num. XIX, II). The reason is that when he takes the soul and renders the body unclean, permission is given to all the unclean spirits, which are akin to the evil serpent, to rest upon it, and so the whole place where the evil serpent is present becomes defiled. Further, when men sleep on their beds at night-time and night spreads her wings over the world, they are having a foretaste of death, and in consequence the unclean spirit is let loose in the world, carrying pollution. In particular it rests upon a man's hands and defiles them, so that when he wakes up and his soul is restored to him, everything which he touches with his hands is rendered unclean. Hence a man should be careful when dressing not to take his garments from a person who has not washed his hands, because in this way he draws upon himself the unclean spirit and becomes defiled. This spirit is authorised to settle in every place where there is the merest trace of the side from which it issues. Hence a man should not let water be poured over his hands by one who has not yet washed his own hands, because in. this way he draws on himself the unclean spirit, from contact with the one who pours water over him. [54a] Therefore a man should be on his guard on every side against the side of this evil serpent, which otherwise will gain the better of him. God has promised one day to remove it from this world, as it is written, "I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land" (Zech. XIII, 2), and also "He will swallow up death for ever" (Is. XXV, 8).'

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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

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Part 6 of 6

AND THE MAN KNEW EVE HIS WIFE. R. Abba discoursed in connection with this verse on the text: Who knoweth the spirit of man which goeth upwards, and the spirit of the beast which goeth downward to the earth? (Eccl. III, 21). He said: 'This verse can bear many constructions, and so it is with all the words of the Torah: they can all bear several meanings, and all good, and the whole Torah can be expounded in seventy ways, corresponding to seventy sides and seventy wings. We will, however, expound thus. When a man walks in the path of truth, he goes towards the right and attracts to himself a holy spirit from above, which in turn ascends with holy intent to attach itself to the upper world and to cleave to the supernal holiness. When, however, a man walks in the path of evil, he draws to himself an unclean spirit belonging to the left side, which renders him impure; so it· is written, "ye shall not make yourselves unclean with them that ye should be defiled thereby" (Lev. XI, 43), i.e. he that first defiles himself is led further into defilement. Further, when a man walks in the right path and attracts to himself a spirit of holiness from above and cleaves to it, he also draws a spirit of holiness on to the son whom he bears into the world, so that he is like to be endowed with the sanctity of his Master (as it is written, "if ye sanctify yourselves, ye shall be holy" (Lev. XI, 44)). Contrariwise, when the man goes to the side of the left and draws to himself the impure spirit and clings to it, he also draws a spirit of uncleanliness on the son that issues from him, so that he is like to be defiled by the impurity of the left side. This is what is meant by the words, "Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, namely that one which ascends on high, etc." When a man cleaves to the right, the spirit mounts aloft, but when he cleaves to the left, the side of the left, which is the spirit of uncleanliness, descends from above and fixes its abode in a man's body, and the son whom he begets in that state of impurity is his son from that unclean spirit. Now Adam clave to that unclean spirit, and his wife clung to it at first and received defilement from it. Hence when Adam begat a son, that son was the son of the impure spirit. Thus there were two sons -- one from the unclean spirit, and one after Adam had repented. Thus one was from the pure side and one from the impure.' R. Eleazar said: 'When the serpent injected his impurity into Eve, she absorbed it, and so when Adam had intercourse with her she bore two sons -- one from the impure side and one from the side of Adam; and Abel bore a resemblance to the higher form and Cain to the lower. Hence it was that their ways in life were different. It was natural, too, that Cain, coming from the side of the angel of death, should kill his brother. He also adhered to his own side, and from him originate all the evil habitations and demons and goblins and evil spirits in the world.' R. Jose said: 'Cain was the nest (Qina) of the evil habitations which came into the world from the impure side. Afterwards both Cain and Abel brought sacrifices, each from his appropriate side; hence it is written, AND IT CAME TO PASS AT THE END OF DAYS THAT CAIN BROUGHT OF THE FRUIT OF THE GROUND, ETC.' R. Simeon said: 'This "end of days" is the same as "the end of all flesh" (Gen. VI, 13), who is also the angel of death. Cain brought his offering from this "end of days" ; this is indicated by the expression in the text "from the end" (mi-ketz). [54b] CAIN BROUGHT OF THE FRUIT OF THE GR0UND: this is parallel to "of the fruit of the tree" in God's words to Adam.' R. Eleazar said: 'We can apply to Cain the verse, "Woe to the wicked, it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be done to him" (Is. III, II). "The reward of his hands" refers to the angel of death, who is drawn towards them and clings to them so as to slay or defile them. Thus Cain offered from the side appropriate to him. AND ABEL ALSO BROUGHT OF THE FIRSTLINGS: to amplify the higher side which comes from the side of holiness. Hence THE LORD HAD RESPECT UNTO ABEL AND TO HIS OFFERING, BUT TO CAIN AND TO HIS OFFERING HE HAD NOT RESPECT, i.e. God did not accept it, and therefore CAIN WAS VERY WROTH AND HIS COUNTENANCE (presence) FELL, because his presence was not received, being from the side of the left. On the other hand, God received Abel, and therefore it is written, AND IT CAME TO PASS WHEN THEY WERE IN THE FIELD, ETC. "Field" is here a designation for woman; Cain was jealous of the twin sister that was born with Abel (according to the interpretation placed by us on the words "and she bore in addition", IV, 2).' IF THOU DOEST WELL, SHALL THERE NOT BE UPLIFTING? This has already been explained, viz. the word se' eth (uplifting) means, according to R. Abba, 'thou shalt mount above and shalt not descend below'. R. Jose said: 'We accept this explanation, which is a good one, but I have also heard another, viz. "this attachment of the impure spirit shall depart (lit. be lifted) from thee and leave thee". If not, then SIN COUCHETH AT THE DOOR. By "door" is meant the heavenly tribunal which is the door through which all enter, as it is written, "open to me the doors of righteousness" (Ps. CXVIII, 19). By "sin coucheth" is meant that the side which clung to thee and was drawn towards thee is lying in watch for thee to exact punishment from thee.' Said R. Isaac: 'When Cain wanted to kill Abel, he did not know how to make him give up the ghost, and he bit him like a snake, as our colleagues have explained. God then cursed him, and he wandered about the world without being able to find any resting-place until, clapping his hands on his head, he repented before his Master. Then the earth found a place for him in one of its lower levels.' R. Jose said: 'The earth allowed him to stay on its surface, as it is written, "And the Lord set upon Cain a sign".' R. Isaac said: 'That is not so. The earth found a place for him in a certain lower level, as it is written, "Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the ground", implying that he was banished from the surface but not from underground. The level on which he found a resting-place was Arka, of the denizens of which it is written, "these shall perish from the earth and from beneath the heavens" (Jer. X, II). There was fixed his habitation, and this is what is meant by the words, AND HE DWELT IN THE LAND OF NOD ON THE EAST OF EDEN.' Said R. Isaac further: 'From the time that Cain killed Abel Adam separated from his wife. Two female spirits then used to come and have intercourse with him, and he bore from them spirits and demons that flit about the world. This need cause no surprise, because now also when a man dreams in his sleep, female spirits often come and disport with him, and so conceive from him and subsequently give birth. The creatures thus produced are called "plagues of mankind"; they appear always under the form of human beings, but they have no hair on their heads. It is they who are referred to in the verse, "and I shall chastise him with the rod of men and with the plagues of the sons of men" (II Sam. VII, 14). In the same way male spirits visit womenfolk and make them pregnant, so that they bring forth spirits which are also called "plagues of the sons of men".

After a hundred and thirty years, Adam again felt drawn [55a] with desire towards his wife, and he begat from her a son whom he called Seth. This name syrnbolises an end, being composed of the two last letters of the alphabet in regular order.' R. Judah said: 'This name symbolised the reincarnation of the spirit which had been lost, being of the same letters as the word shath (set) in the sentence "God hath replaced (shath) for me another seed instead of Abel" '. R. Judah further said: 'The words AND HE BEGAT IN HIS OWN LIKENESS AFTER HIS IMAGE indicate that his other sons were not fully after his likeness, but that this one reproduced his qualities both of body and soul. This accords with what R. Simeon said in the name of R. Yeba, the Elder, that his other sons were engendered in defilement through the attachment of the serpent and of its rider, Samael, and therefore they were not a complete reproduction of Adam. We said before, it is true, that Abel was not from the same side as Cain; nevertheless, both were alike in this, that they were not endowed with the full human figure.' R. Jose said: 'This view is borne out by the language of the text, which in regard to the birth of Cain says, "And Adam knew his wife and she conceived and she bore Cain", and so of Abel, "and she again bore his brother Abel", but of Seth it says, "and he bore in his likeness after his image".' R. Simeon said: 'For a hundred and thirty years Adam separated from his wife, and during that time he begat many spirits and demons, through the force of the impurity which he had absorbed. When that impurity was exhausted, he turned once more to his wife and begat from her a son, of whom it is written, "he begat in his own likeness after his image". For when a man goes to the side of the left and walks in impurity, he draws to himself all kinds of impure spirits, and an unclean spirit clings to him and refuses to leave him, since these spirits cling only to those that cling to them first. Happy the righteous who walk in the straight path, they being the truly righteous; their children are also blessed, and of them it is written, "for the upright shall dwell in the earth" (Prov. II, 21).'

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AND THE SISTER OF TUBAL CAIN WAS NAAMAH. R. Hiya said: 'Why does the Scripture particularly mention Naamah ? The reason is that she was the great seducer not only of men, but also of spirits and demons.' R. Isaac said: 'The "sons of God" mentioned in the Scripture (Gen. VI, 4), who were Uzza and Azael, were seduced by her.' R. Simeon said: 'She was the mother of the demons, being of the side of Cain, and it is she who in company with Lilith brings epilepsy on children.' Said R. Abba to him: 'Did you not say before that her function is to seduce men ? ' He replied: 'That is so; she disports herself with men, and sometimes bears spirits from them. And she still exists to seduce men.' Said R. Abba to him: 'But do these demons not die like human beings? How then comes she to exist to the present day? ' He replied: 'It is so. Lilith and Naamah and Iggereth, the daughter of Mahlath, who originated from their side, will all continue to exist until the Holy One, blessed be He, sweeps away the unclean spirit, as it is written, "I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land" (Zech. XIII, 2).' Said R. Simeon: 'Alas for the blindness of the sons of men, all unaware as they are how full the earth is of strange and invisible beings and hidden dangers, which could they but see, they would marvel how they themselves can exist on the earth. This Naamah was the mother of the demons, and from her originate all those evil spirits which mix with men and arouse in them concupiscence, which leads them to defilement. It is because such a hap comes from the side of the unclean spirit that it entails the need of purification by ablution, as our colleagues have explained.'

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THIS IS THE BOOK OF THE GENERATIONS OF ADAM, i.e. those who inherited his likeness. Said R. Isaac: 'God showed Adam the visages of all future generations, of all the wise men and all the kings that were destined to rule over Israel. When he saw David, who was destined to die as soon as he was born, he said, "I will lend him seventy years from my life", and so it came to pass. It was to this that David referred when he said: "For Thou, 0 Lord, hast made me glad [55b] through thy work, I will triumph in the works of thy hands" (Ps. XCII, 5), the expression "work" and "works of thy hands" in this passage referring to Adam, who was made by God and not by flesh and blood. Hence Adam's days fell short by seventy years of the thousand which he ought by right to have lived. God also showed him the wise men of each generation. When he came to R. Akiba and saw his great learning, he rejoiced, but when he saw his martyrdom he was sorely grieved. Nevertheless, he exclaimed: "How precious in mine eyes are thy companions, O.God, how mighty are the chiefs of them" (Ps. CXXXIX, 17). "This is the book" : literally so, as we have explained, viz. that when Adam was in the Garden of Eden, God sent down to him a book by the hand of Raziel, the angel in charge of the holy mysteries. In this book were supernal inscriptions containing the sacred wisdom, and seventy-two branches of wisdom expounded so as to show the formation of six hundred and seventy inscriptions of higher mysteries. In the middle of the book was a secret writing explaining the thousand and five hundred keys which were not revealed even to the holy angels, and all of which were locked up in this book until it came into the hands of Adam. When Adam obtained it, all the holy angels gathered round him to hear him read it. and when he began they exclaimed: "Be thou exalted, O Lord, above the heavens, let thy glory be above all the earth" (Ps. LVII, 12). Thereupon the holy angel Hadarniel was secretly sent to say to him: "Adam, Adam, reveal not the glory of the Master, for to thee alone and not to the angels is the privilege given to know the glory of thy Master." Therefore he kept it by him secretly until he left the Garden of Eden. While he was there he studied it diligently, and utilised constantly the gift of his Master until he discovered sublime mysteries which were not known even to the celestial ministers. When, however, he transgressed the command of his Master, the book flew away from him. Adam then beat his breast and wept, and entered the river Gihon up to his neck, so that his body became all wrinkled and his face haggard. God thereupon made a sign to Raphael to return to him the book, which he then studied for the rest of his life. Adam left it to his son Seth, who transmitted it in turn to his posterity, and so on until it came to Abraham, who learnt from it how to discern the glory of his Master, as has been said. Similarly Enoch possessed a book through which he learnt to discern the divine glory.'

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MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM. R. Simeon said: 'Profound mysteries are revealed in these two verses. [25] The words "male and female he created them" make known the high dignity of man, the mystic doctrine of his creation. Assuredly in the way in which heaven and earth were created man was also created; for of heaven and earth it is written, "these are the generations of the heaven and the earth", and of man it is written, "these are the generations of man"; of heaven and earth it is written, "when they were created", and of man it is written, "on the day when they were created": "Male and female he created them." From this we learn that every figure which does not comprise male and female elements is not a true and proper figure, and so we have laid down in the esoteric teaching of our Mishnah. Observe this. God does not place His abode in any place where male and female are not found together, nor are blessings found save in such a place, as it is written, AND HE BLESSED THEM AND CALLED THEIR NAME MAN ON THE DAY THAT THEY WERE CREATED: note that it says them and their name, and not him and his name. The male is not even called man till he is united with the female.' R. Judah said: 'Since the destruction of the Temple, blessings have not reached the world, but they go astray every day, as it is written, "The righteous loses", to wit, the blessings which used to rest upon him, as it is written, "blessings on the head of the righteous". AND CALLED HIS NAME SETH. It is to Seth that all the generations which have survived in the world and all the truly righteous of the world trace their descent.' R. Jose said: 'The two last letters of the alphabet were left in their order after the others had been reversed [56a] through Adam's transgression, and therefore when he repented he grasped at these two and called the son who was born in his likeness Seth, a name formed of the last two letters of the alphabet in proper order. Nevertheless, the other letters of the alphabet remained in the inverse order, and not till Israel stood before Mount Sinai did they recover their proper order as on the day when the heaven and earth were created, and the earth was once more securely established.' R. Abba said: 'On the day that Adam transgressed the command of his Master, heaven and earth were like to have been uprooted from their place, being based as they are only on the covenant, as it is written, "But for my covenant day and night, I had not set the statutes of heaven and earth" (Jer. XXXIII, 25), and Adam broke the covenant, as it is written, "And they like Adam transgressed the covenant" (Hos. VI, 7). And had not God foreseen that Israel would one day stand before Mount Sinai to confirm this covenant, the world would not have been preserved.' R. Hizkiah said: 'Whoever confesses his sin thereby procures forgiveness from God. See now, when God created the world, He made this covenant and established the world upon it, as it is written bereshith, which we interpret as bara shith, "he created the foundation", to wit, the covenant on which the world rests, and which is also called shith, because it is a trough from which blessings flow forth to the world. Adam broke this covenant and removed it from its place. This covenant is symbolised by the small letter Yod, the root and foundation of the world. When Adam begat a son, he confessed his guilt and called the child Seth; he did not venture to insert a Yod and call him "Shith", because he had broken the covenant so symbolised. In recompense, God propagated mankind from Seth, and made him the forefather of all the righteous who have lived since. Note also this. When Israel stood before Mount Sinai, there entered between these two letters (shin and tau) a symbol of the covenant, to wit, the letter beth, and God gave to Israel the word formed of all three letters, which is SaBbaTH, as it is said: "And the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath throughout their generations a perpetual covenant." In this way these two letters finally obtained their original potency, which had remained in suspense until the world was brought into its complete state and the holy covenant entered between them.' R. Jose said: 'These two letters were indeed fully reinstated through the letter beth, but all the letters commenced to return to their proper order with the birth of Seth, and so in every generation until Israel stood before Mount Sinai, when they were finally restored.' R. Judah said: 'They had already been restored below, and in every generation the world was held together by the letters though they were not yet properly settled in their places; but when the Torah was given to Israel, then everything was put right.'

R. Eleazar said: 'In the time of Enosh, men were skilled in magic and divination, and in the art of controlling the heavenly forces. Adam had brought with him from the Garden of Eden the knowledge of "the leaves of the tree", but he and his wife and their children did not practise it. When Enosh came, however, he saw the advantage of these arts and how the heavenly courses could be altered by them, and he and his contemporaries studied them and practised magic and divination. From them these arts descended to the generation of the Flood and were practised for evil purposes by all the men of that time. Relying upon these arts, they defied Noah, saying that divine justice could never be executed upon them, since they knew a way to avert it. The practice of these arts commenced with Enosh, and hence it is said of his time, THEN WAS THE NAME OF THE LORD CALLED UPON PROFANELY. R. Isaac said: 'All the righteous men that were among them sought to restrain them, such as Jered, Methuselah, and Enoch, but without success, and the world became full of sinners who rebelled against their Master saying, "What is the Almighty that we should serve him?" (Job XXI, 15). This is not so foolish as it sounds, for they knew all the arts we have mentioned and all the ruling chieftains in charge of the world, and on this knowledge they relied, until at length God disabused them by restoring the earth to its primitive state [56b] and covering it with water. Later, He again restored it and made it productive, since He looked upon it with mercy, as it is written, "The Lord sat at the Flood" -- "the Lord" signifying the attribute of mercy. In the days of Enoch even children were acquainted with these mysterious arts.' Said R. Yesa: 'If so, how could they be so blind as not to know that God intended to bring the Flood upon them and destroy them ?' R. Isaac replied: 'They did know, but they thought they were safe because they were acquainted with the angel in charge of fire and the angel in charge of water, and had means of preventing them from executing judgement on them. What they did not know was that God rules the world and that punishment proceeds from Him. They only saw that the world was entrusted to those chieftains and that everything was done through them, and therefore they took no heed of God and His works until the time came for the earth to be destroyed and the Holy Spirit proclaimed every day, "Let sinners be consumed out of the earth and let the wicked be no more" (Ps. CIV,35). God gave them a respite all the time that the righteous men Jered, Methuselah, and Enoch were alive; but when they departed from the world, God let punishment descend upon them and they perished, as it says, "and they were blotted out from the earth" (Gen. VII, 23).'

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AND ENOCH WALKED WITH GOD, AND HE WAS NOT, FOR GOD HAD TAKEN HIM. R. Jose illustrated this verse from the passage: While the king was still with his company at table, my spikenard sent forth its fragrance (S. S. I, 12). 'This verse', he said, 'can be expounded as referring to the ways of God. When God sees that a man who cleaves to Him and with whom He abides will one day degenerate, He takes him from the world prematurely, culling, as it were, the odour while it is still sweet; hence it is written, "while the King was with his company, my spikenard gave up its scent." The King is God; the company is the good man who cleaves to Him and walks in His ways; the spikenard indicates the good deeds on account of which he is removed from the world before his time. Of such a case did King Solomon say: "There is a vanity which is done upon the earth, that there be righteous men unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked, etc." (Eccl. VIII, 14). How there are "righteous men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked" we have just explained, viz. that because their deeds are good, God removes them from the world before their time and before they become liable to punishment. The rest of the verse, "there be wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous", means that God gives them a respite and is long-suffering with them. Thus the good die early in order that they may not degenerate, and the wicked live on in order that they may have a chance to repent, or in order that a virtuous progeny may issue from them. See now, Enoch was virtuous, but God saw that he would degenerate, and therefore gathered him in in time, as one "gathers lilies" (S. S. VI, 2) because of their good scent. "And he was not, for God had taken him." This means that he did not live to a great age like his contemporaries, because God took him before his time.' R. Eleazar said: 'God removed Enoch from the earth, and took him up to the highest heavens, and there presented to him wonderful treasures, including forty-five mystical key-combinations of graven letters which are used by the highest ranks of angels, as has been explained elsewhere.'

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AND THE LORD SAW THAT THE WICKEDNESS OF MAN WAS VERY GREAT IN THE EARTH, AND THAT EVERY IMAGINATION OF THE THOUGHTS OF HIS HEART WAS ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY. R. Judah quoted in this connection the verse: For thou art not a God who hath pleasure in wickedness, evil shall not sojourn with thee (Ps. V, 5). He said: 'One lesson that may be derived from this verse is that if a man cleaves to the evil imagination and follows after it, not only does he defile himself thereby, but he is led further into defilement, as has already been stated. The men of the time of the Flood committed all kinds of sin, but the measure of their guilt was not full until they wasted their blood (i.e. seed) upon the ground. We know this from the fact that the word ra' (evil) is used here, [57a] and also in the verse, "and Er the son of Judah was evil (ra') in the sight of the Lord" (Gen. XXXVIII, 7).' Said R. Jose: 'Is not evil (ra') the same as "wickedness" (resha')?' He said: 'No. A man is called "wicked" (rasha') if he merely lifts his hand against his neighbour without doing him any harm, as it is written, "And he said to the wicked one (rasha'), why wilt thou smite thy neighbour?", the future tense (wilt smite) implying that he had not yet done anything to him. But only he is called "evil" (ra') who corrupts his way and defiles himself and the earth, and so lends force to the unclean spirit which is called ra' (whence it is said that "all their thoughts were for evil", ra'). Such a one will never enter the heavenly palace nor gaze upon the Shekinah, for by this sin the Shekinah is repelled from the world. We know this from Jacob, who, when the She~inah departed from him, concluded that there was some stain attaching to his offspring, on account of which the unclean spirit had acquired strength and the light of the moon had been impaired: for this sin defiles the sanctuary. If on this account the Shekinah departed from Jacob, how much more certain is it that it will depart from one who corrupts his way and defiles himself, so giving power to the unclean spirit. Hence when a man defiles himself he is called ra'. Further, when a man defiles himself, he is not favoured with visitation (in dreams) from the Holy One, blessed be He, but on the contrary he is subject at all times to the visits of the spirit called ra'. as it is written, "he who sleeps sated (i.e. without evil passion) will not be visited by evil" (Prov. XIX, 23) (as much as to say that when he walks in the right path he will not be visited by Ra'.) Hence it is said of the men of the Flood that their thoughts were only evil, and the Psalmist said, "evil shall not sojourn with thee". Those who commit this sin are called ra' and not rasha'. Hence, too, it is written, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will not fear evil (ra'). for thou art with me".'

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AND IT REPENTED THE LORD THAT HE HAD MADE MAN UPON THE EARTH, AND IT GRIEVED HIM AT HIS HEART. R. Jose illustrated from the verse: Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope (Is. V, 18). He said: 'Those who "draw iniquity" are the men who sin before their Master every day, and in whose eyes the sins they commit are like gossamer threads, which are of no account and are not noticed by God. And so they go on until they make their guilt as strong as a cart rope which cannot be broken. See now, when the time comes for God to pass sentence on sinners, although they have provoked Him every day, He is yet unwilling to destroy them, and though He sees their deeds, He is yet indulgent towards them because they are the work of His hands, and therefore He gives them a respite. When at last He does come to execute judgement upon them, He is, as it were, grieved, since they are the work of His hands, although it is written, "Honour and majesty are before him, strength and joy are in his place" (Ps. XCVI, 6).' R. Jose said: 'Observe that it says, "He was grieved to his heart". The seat of the grief was the heart and no other place, "heart" having here the same sense as in the verse, "according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind" (I Sam. II, 35).' R. Isaac said: 'The word "repented" here has the same sense as in the sentence, "And the Lord repented of the evil which he had said he would do unto his people" (Ex. XXXII, 14). R. Yesa says that the word niham, used of God, means "repent", as has been remarked, implying that God bethinks Himself that the sinners are the work of His hands, and therefore pities them and is grieved because they sin before Him. R. Hizkiah says that it means "is consoled", implying that when God resolves to destroy the wicked, He comforts Himself for their loss like one who resigns himself to the loss of some article, and once He has done so, justice takes its course and repentance no longer avails; for up to that point the decision may still be reversed. No only so, but judgement is executed with additional rigour, until the sinners are utterly destroyed. The text tells us as much; for the words "the Lord was comforted" indicate that God resigned Himself, and the words "he was grieved to his heart" that He allowed justice to take its course without mercy.' R. Hiya said: 'The words "God was comforted because he had made man" refer to the time when man was first created on the earth, in the supernal image, and God rejoiced because the angels praised Him saying, [57b] "Thou hast made him (man) little lower than God, and crownest him with glory and honour" (Ps. VIII, 6). But afterwards when man sinned, then God "was grieved", because now the angels could say that they had been right in protesting against his creation, saying: "What is man that thou art mindful of him and the son of man that thou visitest him ?" (Ibid. 5).' R. Judah said: 'God was grieved because the execution of judgement is always displeasing to Him. Thus we read that Jehoshaphat when going out to war "appointed those that should sing.... Give thanks unto the Lord, for his mercy endureth for ever" (II Chron. XX, 21), and R. Isaac has explained that the reason why the words "for he is good" do not appear in this chant, as in other passages when; it is given, is because He was about to destroy the works of His hands before Israel. Similarly, at the time when Israel crossed the Red Sea, when the angels came as usual to chant their praises before God on that night, God said to them: "The works of my hands are drowning in the sea, and will you chant praises?"; hence it says, "and this (angel) drew not near to that one all the night" (Ex. XIV, 20). Thus whenever destruction of the wicked takes place, there is grief for them above.' R. Abba said: 'God had already been grieved when Adam sinned before Him and transgressed His commandment. He said to him: "Woe to thee that thou hast weakened the heavenly power, for at this moment thou hast quenched a light"; and forthwith He banished him from the Garden of Eden, saying: "I put thee in the garden to bring offerings, but thou hast impaired the altar so that offerings cannot henceforth be brought on it; henceforth therefore it is thy doom to labour at the ground."'

God also decreed that he should die. Taking pity on him, however, God allowed him when he died to be buried near the Garden of Eden. For Adam had made a cave near the Garden, and had hidden himself there with his wife. He knew it was near the Garden, because he saw a faint ray of light enter it from there, and therefore he desired to be buried in it; and there he was buried, close to the gate of the Garden of Eden. So it is that when a man is about to depart from life, Adam, the first man, appears to him and asks him why and in what state he leaves the world. He says: "Woe to thee that through thee I have to die." To which Adam replies: "My son, I transgressed one commandment and was punished for so doing; see how many commandments of your Master, negative and positive, you have transgressed".' R. Hiya said: 'Adam exists to this day, and twice a day he sees the patriarchs and confesses his sins, and shows them the place where once he abode in heavenly glory. He also goes and looks at all the pious and righteous among his descendants who have attained to celestial glory in the Garden of Eden. All the patriarchs then praise God, saying: "How precious is thy lovingkindness, O God, and the children of men take refuge under the shadow of thy wings" (Ps. XXXVI, 8).' R. Yesa said: 'Adam appears to every man at the moment of his departure from life to testify that the man is dying on account of his own sins and not the sin of Adam, according to the dictum, "there is no death without sin". There are only three exceptions, namely, Amram, Levi, and Benjamin, who were deprived of life through the prompting of the primeval serpent; some add also, Jesse. These did not sin, and no ground could be' assigned for their death save the prompting of the serpent, as we have said.

'All the generations contemporary with Noah committed their sins openly, in the sight of all. R. Simeon was one day walking through the gate of Tiberias when he saw some men drawing the bow tight over earthenware pots. He cried: "What! do these miscreants dare to provoke their Master thus openly?" He scowled at them, and they were thrown into the sea and drowned. Take note that every sin which is committed openly repels the Shekinah and causes her to remove her abode from this world. The contemporaries of Noah committed their sins openly and defiantly, and so they drove the Shekinah away from the world, in punishment for which God removed them from the world, in accordance with the maxim, "Take away the dross from the silver, and there cometh forth a vessel for the finer; take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness" (Prov. xxv, 4 and 5).'

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AND THE LORD SAID, My SPIRIT SHALL NOT STRIVE WITH MAN FOR EVER, FOR THAT HE ALSO IS FLESH. R. Eleazar said: 'When God created the universe, He ordained that this world should be served [58a] from the world above. Hence when mankind are virtuous and walk in the right path, God puts in motion the spirit of life from above until it comes to the place where Jacob abides. From there the life descends further until the spirit reaches the world in which David is located; and from there blessings descend on all here below, who through the streaming of the spirit from above are able to maintain their existence. Now, however, that men sinned, the streaming ceased, so that the spirit of life no longer descended on this world for the benefit of its denizens. "For that he also is flesh": i.e. in order that, through being shed over this world, the spirit might not benefit the serpent, the lowest of the grades, which might also have grasped hold of it; and the holy spirit ought not to mix with the unclean spirit. The reference in "he also" is to the primeval serpent, as in the verse, "the end of all flesh comes before me" (Gen. VI, 13), which R. Simeon explains to mean the angel of death. HIS DAYS SHALL BE A HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS: a period of grace for the continued union (of body and soul). THE NEFILIM WERE IN THE EARTH. R. Jose says, following a tradition, that these were Uzza and Azael, whom, as already mentioned, God deprived of their supernal sanctity. How, it may be asked, can they exist in this world? R. Hiya answers, that they were of the class of spirits referred to in the words "And birds which fly on the earth" (Gen. I, 20), and these, as we have said, appear to men in the form of human beings. If it is asked, how can they transform themselves? The answer is, as has been said, that they do in fact transform themselves into all kinds of shapes, because when they come down from heaven they become as concrete as air and take human shape. These are Uzza and Azael, who rebelled in heaven, and were cast down by God, and became corporeal on the earth and remained on it, not being able to divest themselves of their earthly form. Subsequently they went astray after women, and up to this day they exist and teach men the arts of magic. They begat children whom they called Anakim (giants), while the Nefilim themselves were called "sons of God", as has been elsewhere explained.

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AND THE LORD SAID, I WILL DESTROY MAN WHOM I HAVE CREATED FROM THE FACE OF THE GROUND. R. Jose quoted in this connection the verse, For my thoughts are not your thoughts (Is. LV, 8). He said: 'When a man wants to take vengeance on another, he keeps his counsel and says nothing, for fear that, if he discloses his intention, the other will be on his guard and escape him. Not so God. Before punishing the world, God proclaims His intention once, twice, and three times, because there is none who can stay His hand and say to Him, "what doest Thou ?", and in vain would one attempt to guard against Him. So now God said, co I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the earth"; He proclaimed His intention to them by the hand of Noah, and warned them several times, but they would not listen. Then at last He executed judgement on them and exterminated them.

***

AND HE CALLED HIS NAME NOAH SAYING, THIS SHALL COMFORT US, ETC. How did Noah's father know this? In this way. When God cursed the earth, Adam said to Him, [58b] "Sovereign of the Universe, how long shall the earth be subject to this curse ?" God replied: "Until a descendant of yours shall be born circumcised, like yourself." So they waited until at last a child was born circumcised and marked with the holy sign. When his father saw this, and observed the Shekinah hovering over him, he called him Noah, [26] in anticipation of his future career. For up to his time men did not know the proper way to sow or reap or plough, and they used to work the ground with their hands. But when Noah came, he taught them the arts of husbandry, and devised for them the necessary implements. Hence it is written: "This one shall comfort us for our work and for the toil of our hands." It was indeed Noah who liberated the earth from its curse; for up to his time they used to sow wheat and reap thorns and thistles; hence Noah is called "a man of the ground" (Gen. IX, 20).' R. Judah said: 'The word ish (man) is applied to him because he was righteous, and through the sacrifice which he brought he liberated the earth from its curse. We see, then, how he received his name in anticipation of the future.' R. Judah once expounded the text: Come, behold the works of the Lord, [27] who hath made desolations in the earth (Ps. XLVI, 9). 'If,' he said, 'it had been the works of YHVH, then they would have brought more life into the world, but being the works of Elohim, they made desolation in the world.' Said R. Hiya to him: 'As you have raised this point, I take leave to differ from you. In my opinion, whichever name is used the result is beneficial; and in this verse we should, as our colleagues have pointed out, read not shammoth (desolations), but shemoth (names).' R. Isaac said: 'You are both right. As R. Hiya says, if the world had been created through the name which connotes mercy (YHVH), it would have been indestructible; but since it has been created through the name which connotes justice (Elohim), "desolations have been placed in the earth", and rightly so, since otherwise the world would not be able to endure the sins of mankind. Consider also this. When Noah was born, they gave him a name which connoted consolation, in the hope that it would work out its own fulfilment for them. His relation to God, however, is expressed by the same letters in the reverse order, viz. HeN (favour), as it is written, "and Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord".' Said R. Jose: 'The names of the righteous influence their destiny for good, and those of the wicked for evil. Thus the anagram of Noah's name is hen (favour), and we find it written of him, "and Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord"; whereas the anagram of the name of Er the (wicked) son of Judah is rat (evil), and of him it is written, "and Er was evil in the sight of the Lord" (Gen. XXXVIII, 7). When Noah grew up, and saw how mankind were sinning before God, he withdrew himself from their society and sought to serve his Master, so as not to be led astray by them. He was especially diligent in the study of the book of Adam and the book of Enoch which we have mentioned, and from them he learnt the proper forms in which to worship God. This explains how it is that he knew it was incumbent upon him to bring an offering; it was these books which revealed to him the basis on which the existence of the world depends, to wit, the sacrifices, without which neither the higher nor the lower world can endure.'

R. Simeon was once travelling in company with his son R. Eleazar and R. Jose and R. Hiya. As they were going along steadily, R. Eleazar said, 'This is a favourable opportunity for hearing some explanation of the Torah.' R. Simeon thereupon commenced a discourse on the text: Also when the fool walketh by the way, his understanding faileth him, etc. (Eccl. X, 3). He said: 'If a man desires that his journey should be agreeable in the sight of God, he should, before he starts, take counsel of God and offer the appropriate prayer, according to the Rabbinical dictum based on the verse, "When righteousness goeth before him, then he shall set his feet on the way" (Ps. LXXXV, 14), for then the Shekinah is not parted from him. But of him who does not believe in his Master it is written, [59a] "Also when the fool walketh in the way, his understanding (lit. heart) faileth him." By "heart" is here designated the Holy One, blessed be He, who will not accompany him on the way nor lend him His support, because he is a man who does not believe in his Master and did not seek His support before starting on the journey. Likewise on the journey itself he does not busy his thoughts with the Torah, and for this reason also it is said that "his heart faileth him", because he does not walk with his Master and is not found in His path. Further, "he saith to all, it is folly" : that is, when he does hear a word of true doctrine, he says it is folly to pay attention to it; like the man who was asked about the sign of the covenant imprinted on the flesh, and replied that it was no article of faith, whereupon R. Yeba the Elder frowned on him and he became a heap of bones. We, therefore, being on this journey with the support of the Almighty, are beholden to discuss some point of Torah.' He thereupon took the text: Teach me thy way, O Lord, I will walk in thy truth, unite my heart to fear thy name (Ps. LXXXVI, 11). He said: 'This verse seems to conflict with the Rabbinical dictum that a man's whole career is in the hands of heaven, save his choice of virtue or vice. If this is so, how could David make such a request as this of God? What David really asked, however, was only that God should teach him His ways, that is, open his eyes to know the right and proper way; then he would himself be able to walk in the way of truth without turning aside right or left. As for the expression "my heart", this has the same significance as in the verse "the rock of my heart and my portion" (Ps. LXXIII, 26). All this I entreat, he said, in order to fear Thy name, to cleave to Thy fear and to keep to the straight path. The words "to fear thy name" refer to David's allotted place in which the fear of God is located. Consider this. Every man who fears God is secure in his faith, since he is whole-hearted in the service of his Master. But he who does not constantly fear his Master is not truly possessed of faith, nor is he accounted worthy of 'a share in the future world.' R. Simeon further discoursed on the text: But the path of the righteous is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day (Prov. IV, 18). He said: 'Happy are the righteous in this world and the world to come, since God desires to glorify them. For their path is as "the shining light", that is to say, that radiant light which God created at the beginning of things, and which He set aside for the righteous in the future world. This "shineth more and more", for its brightness continually augments. Rut of the wicked it is written, "The way of the wicked is as darkness, they know not at what they stumble" (ibid. 19). In truth they do know; but they walk in a crooked path, and will not stop to reflect that one day God will judge them in the future world, and chastise them with the punishments of Gehinnom. Then they will bewail themselves every day, saying, "Woe to us that we did not incline our ears and listen." But as for the righteous, God will illumine them in the future world and will give them their due reward in a place which eye has never beheld, as it is written, "Eye hath not seen beside thee, O God, what thou wilt do for him that waits for thee" (Is. LXIV, 3). Also, "And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me" (Is. LXVI, 24); and again, "And ye shall tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet" (Mal. III, 21). Happy are the righteous in this world and in the world to come; of them it is written, "the righteous shall for ever inherit the earth" (Is. LX, 21), and also, "verily the righteous shall praise thy name, the upright shall dwell in thy presence" (Ps. CXL, 14). Blessed is the Lord for ever, Amen and Amen.'

_______________

Notes:

1. al. 'darkness'; al. 'measurement'.

2. al. 'vapour'.

3. i.e. between the two Ehyeh's. v. Ex. III, 14.

4. v. p. 110.

5. i.e. according to the Rabbinical system of hermeneutics, the 'general' (heaven-and-earth) is of the same nature as the 'particular' (days), being like them the product of a 'saying'.

6. al 'shoulder' : in either case a designation of the grade H esed (kindness).

7. i.e. in the original Hebrew.

8. v. p. 79.

9. If the Hebrew alphabet is inverted, M=Y, Z=H, P=V.

10. Ex.xxxiv, 6.

11. Here in the text follows a passage (up to behai' alma, p. 22a) dealing with the prophetic grades of Moses and Jacob as typified respectively by the 'Jubilee' and the 'Shemitah'. It has been omitted from the translation as being both highly technical and in the nature of a digression.

12. The commentator, Derekh Emeth, remarks that from here to 29a (bereshith teninan) is obviously, from its style, not an intrinsic part of the Zohar. It seems, however, to fill a gap in the Zoharic exposition, and therefore most of it has been translated.

13. From here to razin t'mirin on 24b is a dissertation on the relation of prayer to the various Sefiroth, involving much manipulation of Hebrew letters and vowel-points, and therefore unsuitable for translation.

14. Here follows a digression (up to abathreh, p. 27a) on a saying of R. Akiba about the esoteric study, too technical for translation into English.

15. Here follow some lines on the inner significance of the letters of the word tob, viz. teth, representing the ninth grade (from the end, i.e. Wisdom) vau, the heavens, and beth, the two worlds.

16. There seems to be here a lacuna in the text.

17. Here follows a highly allusive passage identifying Enoch with "the lad" (v. Prov. XXII, 6), i.e. Metatron.

18. Here closes the second exposition of the section Bereshith. A third commences on the fifth line of p. 39b, goes on to the eighth line of p. 40a, and is then interrupted and resumed towards the end of p. 45b. Pp. 38a-39b and 40a-45b contain a dissertation, or rather three allied dissertations, on the abodes of the righteous in Paradise, and of the angels (Hekaloth and Medorin), and on the halls of prayer (also called Hekaloth). These really constitute a separate work called Hekaloth, and therefore have not been included in this translation.

19. Gen. I, I.

20. v. p. 131.

21. The letters Yod, He, Vau, of the sacred name.

22. v. p. 59.

23. al. Two dishes should be the minimum.

24. From this point to 52a ad fin. is a Cabbalistic interpolation on the origin of the Serpent.

25. i.e. this one and Gen. I, 27.

26. lit. 'rest'.

27. So our texts (Yhvh). But it is obvious from what follows that the Zohar read Elohim (God).
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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:47 pm

Part 1 of 4

NOAH

Gen. VI, 9-XI, 32

THESE ARE THE GENERATIONS OF NOAH. R. Hiya opened with the text: And thy people are all righteous, they will inherit the land for ever ,. the branch of my planting, the work of my hands wherein I glory (Is. LX, 21). He said: 'Happy are the people of Israel, who occupy themselves with the Torah and are familiar with its paths, through following which they will merit the world to come. For all Israelites have a portion in the world to come, for the reason that they observe the covenant on which the world is established, and of which it is said: "If my covenant be not (observed) day and night, it were as if I had not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth" (Jer. XXXIII, 25). Hence Israel, who have accepted the covenant and observe it, have a portion in the world to come. Furthermore, they are therefore called righteous. We learn this from Joseph, who, by reason of his having observed the covenant, is known as "Joseph the righteous".'

R. Eleazar said: 'The term "These are", as we have learnt, always implies that something spoken of before in the text is now of no account. Now it is written above in the account of the Creation [1] that "A river went out from Eden to water the garden and from thence it was parted, etc." (Gen. II, 10). That stream which flows perennially entered the Garden to water it from the supernal waters, and brought gladness to it, making it produce fruit and seed for the universal content; and so the stream gladdened the Garden, as it is written, "And he rested on the seventh day" (Ibid. 3). Thus the words "these are the generations" imply that this brought forth products and no other. So it was with Noah in the lower world. Noah was the sacred covenant below corresponding to that above, and hence is called "Man of the earth". The inner meaning which we learn from this is that Noah had need of an ark with which to become united in order thereby to preserve the seed of all species, as it is written, "To preserve seed". This ark is the Ark of the Covenant, and Noah with the ark below corresponded to a similar union above. The word "covenant" is used in connection with Noah, as it is written, "And I will establish my covenant with thee", and before the covenant was established with him he did not enter the ark, as it is written, "And I will establish my covenant with thee and thou shalt come into the ark." Thus his ark represented the Ark of the Covenant, and Noah and the ark together were a symbol of the supernal pattern. And since this covenant above brought forth products, so Noah below also bore generations. Hence it says, "These are the generations of Noah."

***

NOAH WAS A RIGHTEOUS MAN. Assuredly so, after the supernal pattern. It is written, "The Righteous one is the foundation of the world" (Prov. X, 25), and the earth is established thereon, for this is the pillar that upholds the world. So Noah was called Zaddik (righteous) below. All this is implied in the words NOAH WALKED WITH GOD, meaning that he never separated himself from Him, and acted so as to be a true copy of the supernal ideal, a "Zaddik the foundation of the world", an embodiment of the world's covenant of peace. And it is thus that NOAH FOUND FAVOUR IN THE EYES OF GOD. PERFECT HE WAS IN HIS GENERATIONS: this refers to his descendants; he perfected them all, and he was more virtuous than all of them. Again, the words "He was perfect" indicate that he was born circumcised (cf. of Abraham, "Walk before me and be perfect, i.e. circumcised" Gen. XVII, I). IN HIS GENERATIONS: and not in those of his contemporaries, for all future generations issued from him only. Consider this. From the day that the world was created, Noah was the first man fitted to be joined in union with the ark and to enter it, and until they were joined the world had not yet reached a stable condition. But once this had happened we read "From these all the earth was overspread" (Gen. X, 32). These words are analogous to the expression "And from thence the river parted" (Ibid. II, 10), of the Garden of Eden, which indicate that from this point there was a parting and diffusion of progeny into all quarters of the world. The two cases are analogous in every way. Hence it says: "These are the generations"; assuredly "these", as it was he who was the foundation of the world that brought forth [60a] generations to abide on the earth.' R. Abba then 3pproached and kissed him, saying: 'The lion in his might has pierced through the rock and broken it asunder. Your exposition is certainly the right one, as can also be deduced from the measurements of the ark.'

***

THESE ARE THE GENERATIONS OF NOAH. R. Judah discoursed on the text: The good man is gracious and lendeth, he ordereth his affairs according to justice (Ps. CXII, 5). '"The good man" refers to the Holy One, Blessed be He, since He is called "good" (as well as "Man"), as it is written, "The Lord is good to all" (Ibid. CXLV, 9), as well as "The Lord is a man of war" (Exod. xv, 3). Thus God is gracious and lends to that quarter which has no possession of its own, but derives its sustenance from Him. This idea is further developed in the sentence "He ordereth his affairs according to justice", indicating that that quarter is granted sustenance only according to justice, as it is written, "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of thy throne" (Ps. LXXXIX,15). According to another explanation, the "good man" refers to the Righteous one (Zaddik), as it is written, "Say ye of the righteous one that he is good" (Is. III, 10). R. Jose said that it refers to Noah, as it is written, "Noah was a righteous man." R. Isaac said that it refers to the Sabbath, since the psalm in praise of the Sabbath commences with the words "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord" (Ps. XCII,2).' R. Hiya said: 'It is the Zaddik who produces offspring in the world. Who constitute this offspring? The souls of the righteous, these being the fruit of the handiwork of the Holy One, blessed be He.' R. Simeon said: 'When the Holy One, blessed be He, puts on his crowns, he receives them from above and from below: above, from the region of absolute remoteness; below, he is crowned by the souls of the righteous. The result is an increment of life-energy from above and below, embracing the place of the sanctuary on all sides, and causing the cisterns to become full and the sea to be replenished, and providing sufficiency for all. It is written: "Drink water out of thine own cistern, and running water out of thine own well" (Prov. V, 15). Why speak first of a cistern (bor), which is naturally waterless, and then of a well (beer), which is a fountain bubbling with water? In truth, both are one: this first refers to a certain region which is beset by poverty, and is thus called "cistern", as not possessing anything of its own save what is given to it: that region is called daleth (poverty, also the fourth letter of the alphabet). In time, however, it becomes a well, filled on all sides with bubbling water; it then typifies the letter he, being filled from on high [60b] and bubbling up from below. It is filled from above in the way already explained, while its bubbling from below is from the souls of the righteous. (According to another interpretation, "drink water out of thine own cistern" refers to King David, who said, "Oh that one would give me water to drink of the cistern of Bethlehem" (II Sam. XXIII, 15); and "running waters" refers to Abraham; "out of the midst" refers to Jacob, he representing the centre; "thine own well" signifies Isaac, who is called "well of living waters". Thus in this verse is a reference to the sacred and honoured team of the three patriarchs with King David associated with them.) As the desire of the female towards the male only awakes when a certain spirit enters into her and the flow ascends to meet that of the male, so the congregation of Israel only conceives a longing for the Holy One, blessed be He, when it is permeated with the spirit of the righteous. It is then that its energy rises from below to meet the energy from above so as to form a perfect union. There flows from this a universal content, and it is then that the Holy One, blessed be He, walks familiarly among the souls of the righteous. See now, all the offspring of the Garden of Eden did not issue from the Righteous one until he entered into that ark of which we have spoken and became one with it -- that ark which contained all in embryo. Similarly Noah the righteous man did not beget offspring to populate the world until he entered the ark in which all (life) was gathered and safely stored and from which it afterwards emerged to multiply in the world and to have an abiding existence on earth. Had not these creatures been through the ark they would not have endured in the world. And all this was planned after the supernal pattern. As they emerged from the Ark there on high, so they emerged from the ark here below. And thus the world then obtained the character of permanency which it had not possessed before. Hence the expression "And running waters out of the midst of thy well", which is echoed by the verse "And Noah begat three sons."'

***

AND THE EARTH WAS CORRUPTED BEFORE GOD. Said R. Judah: 'What does the phrase "before God" signify?' It signifies that they perpetrated their crimes openly in the eyes of all.' Said R. Jose: 'I interpret it in a reverse sense, namely, that at first "the earth was corrupted before God", that is, that they committed their sins secretly, so as to be known only to God but not to man. They finished, however, by coming out into the open, as it is written, AND THE EARTH WAS FILLED WITH VIOLENCE, indicating that there was not a place in the whole earth which did not witness their sins.' R. Abba said: 'From the time that Adam transgressed the command of his Master, all the succeeding generations were called "sons of Adam" in a derogatory sense, as much as to say, "the sons of the man who transgressed his Master's commands". But when Noah appeared, mankind were called by his name, to wit, "the generations of Noah", in an honourable sense, since he secured for them permanent existence in the world, and not "the generations of Adam", since he had caused them to be driven from the world and brought death to all.' Said R. Jose to him: 'But in a later passage (Gen. XI, 5) it is written, "and the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the children of Adam had built" -- Adam and not Noah.' R. Abba replied: 'It was because he was the first sinner. Better had it been for him that he should not have been created, so as not to be mentioned in this verse. See now, it is written: "A wise son causeth his father to rejoice" (Prov. X, I). When a son is good, people mention his father's name with praise; but if he is bad, they mention his father with reproach. So it was with Adam. He transgressed the command of his Master, and therefore when later men arose who rebelled against their Master, they were designated by the Scripture "the sons of Adam", that is, the sons of the first man who rebelled against his Master and transgressed His commands. Hence "these are the generations of Noah" -- these and not the former ones; these who entered into and emerged from the ark and brought forth generations to people the world; but they are not the generations of Adam, who emerged from the Garden of Eden without bringing any progeny forth from thence. For indeed, if Adam had brought offspring with him out of the Garden of Eden, these would never have been destroyed, the light of the moon would never have been darkened, and all would have lived for ever; and not even the angels would have equalled them in illumination and wisdom, as we read, "In the image of God he created him" (Gen. I, 27). But since, [61a] through his sin, he left the Garden by himself and bore offspring outside it, these did not endure in the world, and this ideal was, therefore, not realised.' Said R. Hizkiah: 'How could they have begotten children there, seeing that, had the evil inclination not enticed him to sin, Adam would have dwelt for ever in the world by himself and would not have begotten children? In the same way, if Israel had not sinned by making the golden calf, they would not have borne children and no new generations would have come into the world.' R. Abba replied: 'If Adam had not sinned, he would not have begotten children from the side of the evil inclination, but he would have borne offspring from the side of the holy spirit. But now, since all the children of men are born from the side of the evil inclination, they have no permanence and are but short-lived, because there is in them an element of the "other side". But if Adam had not sinned and had not been driven from the Garden of Eden, he would have begotten progeny from the side of the holy spirit -- a progeny holy as the celestial' angels, who would have endured to eternity, after the supernal pattern. Since, however, he sinned and begat children outside the Garden of Eden, these did not take root, even in this world, until Noah arose, who was a righteous man and entered the ark, so that from the ark there went forth all the future generations of mankind, who spread thence into the four quarters of the earth.'

***

AND GOD SAW THE EARTH AND BEHOLD IT WAS CORRUPT. It was corrupt because "all flesh had corrupted its way", in the sense we have explained. R. Hiya adduced the following text: And God saw their works that they turned from their evil way (Jonah III, 10). 'See now,' he said, 'when the sons of men are righteous and observe the commands of the Torah, the earth becomes invigorated, and a fullness of joy pervades it, because then the Shekinah rests upon the earth, and there is thus gladness above as well as below. But when mankind corrupt their way and do not observe the commands of the Torah, and sin before their Master, they, as it were, thrust the Shekinah out of the world, and the earth is thus left in a corrupt state. For the Shekinah being thrust out, another spirit comes and hovers over the world, bringing with it corruption. It is in this sense" that we say that Israel "gives strength unto Elohim", that is, to the Shekinah, and thereby makes the world more secure. Should, however, Israel -- God forbid -- prove sinful, then, in the words of the Scripture, "God withdraws himself above the heavens" (Ps. LVII, 6). Why? Because "they have prepared a net for my footsteps, my soul is bent down", through their violence and causeless hatreds, "they have digged a pit before me" (Ibid. 7). The same thing happened with the generation of the Flood, whose violent acts led to mutual hatred and contention among them. We might think that the same applies to the Land of Israel. Our teachers, however, have laid down that no other spirit rests upon the Land of Israel, nor has it any guardian angel save God alone. There was, however, one occasion when another spirit did rest upon it in order to destroy the people. That was in the time of David, when, as it is written, "David saw the angel of the Lord ... having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem" (I Chron. XXI,16), and thus destruction came upon the land: R. Eleazar said: 'Even then it was the Holy One, blessed be He, Himself, the term "angel" here having the same meaning, as in the passages "the angel who redeemed me" (Gen. XLVIII, 16), and "the angel of God removed" (Ex. XIV, 19). Be it for good or for ill, the Holy One, blessed be He, always has sway over it personally. For good, so that it should not be delivered into the hands of the "higher chieftains", and so that all the inhabitants of the world should be ashamed of their wicked deeds; for ill, so that the nations should not have the gratification of ruling over it. It is true, the Scripture says in one place, "For she hath seen that the heathen are entered into her sanctuary" (Lam. I, 10), and have destroyed the House, from which it may be inferred that if those alien chiefs had not had sway, the Temple would not have been destroyed. This, however, must not be stressed; for the Scripture also says, "For thou hast done it" (Ibid. I, 21), and "The Lord hath done what he hath devised" (Ibid. II, 17).' R. Hiya continued: 'It is written here, in connection with Noah, "And God saw the earth and behold it was corrupt." Contrast with this the verse "And God saw their deeds, and they had repented of their evil ways" (Jonah III, 10). There the earth called to God, reaching out towards heaven, and beautifying her face, as it were, like a woman trying to please her husband; so the earth tried to please God by raising up for Him righteous children. But here, when the generation of the Flood did not repent of their sins, it is written, "And God saw the earth, and behold it was corrupt", like a faithless wife who hides her face from before her husband. But when mankind committed sin upon sin openly and flagrantly, then the earth became brazen-faced like an abandoned female without any sense of shame, as it is said on another occasion, "And the earth was defiled under its inhabitants" (Is. XXIV, 5). Hence this is the connection here: "God saw that the earth was corrupted", why? "Because all [61b] flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth".'

R. Eleazar went to see R. Jose, the son of R. Simeon, the son of Lakunia, his father-in-law. The latter, as soon as he saw him, spread out for him a carpet under a canopy, on which they sat down. He asked his son-in-law, 'Did you happen to hear from your father the interpretation of the verse: The Lord hath done that which he devised, he hath performed his word that he commanded in the days of old (Lam. II, 17)?' He answered, 'Our colleagues have interpreted it thus. They take the words bitza imratho ("He hath performed his word") to mean "He rent his purple cloak" -- that cloak which "he commanded from days of old", that is, which He had appointed from the beginning of things. On the day the Temple was destroyed He rent that purple cloak which was His glory and ornament.' Said R. Jose: 'What of the words "the Lord hath done that which he (had already) devised"? Does a king devise evil against his sons before they sin?' R. Eleazar replied: 'Imagine a king who possessed a precious vase, and who, being constantly apprehensive lest it should be broken, had it ever under his eyes, and never lost sight of it for a moment. One day his son came and provoked him to anger, so that in his rage he took up the vase and broke it in pieces. In this way the Lord "hath done that which he had already devised". From the day when the Temple was built, the Holy One, blessed be He, used to contemplate it fondly, and every time He came to the sanctuary, He used to put on the purple cloak we have mentioned. But when Israel sinned, and provoked their King, the Temple was destroyed, and the mantle was rent. Only on that occasion did God mourn the destruction of the wicked, but at any other time the Holy One, blessed be He, takes joy in nothing so much as in the destruction of the world's sinners, and of those who have provoked Him to anger, as it is written, "And when the wicked perish there is joy" (Prov. XI, 10). So throughout the generations, whenever justice is executed on sinners, there is joy and thanksgiving before the Holy One, blessed be He. But, you may say, is there not a dictum of the Rabbis that the Holy One, blessed be He, does not rejoice when he executes judgement on sinners? The truth is that He does take joy in the destruction of the wicked, but only when He has been longsuffering with them and they have still remained unrepentant. But if He exacts punishment from them before that time, before the measure of their sins has been completed (cf. "For the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full", Gen. XV, 16), then there is no joy before Him, but, on the contrary, He is grieved at their destruction. Another difficulty here arises: if their time has not come, why should punishment be at all inflicted on them? But, indeed, they themselves are to blame for this. For the Holy One, blessed be He, never inflicts punishment on the wicked before the full time, except when they interfere with Israel in order to do them harm. It is then that He inflicts punishment upon them before the full time, and it is then that their destruction grieves Him. It was for this reason that He drowned the Egyptians in the Red Sea, and destroyed the enemies of Israel in the days of Jehoshaphat, and inflicted punishment on others; they were all destroyed before the full time on account of Israel. But if the time of respite expires without their showing any sign of repentance, then their destruction is a cause of joy and glory before Him. Nevertheless, it was not so with the destruction of the Temple; for on that occasion, although Israel had filled up the cup of provocation, there was no joy before Him, and since that time there has been no joy, neither above nor below.'

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FOR YET SEVEN DAYS, AND I WILL CAUSE IT TO RAIN UPON THE EARTH FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS. R. Judah said: 'What is the point of mentioning the exact period? The answer is that forty is the appropriate number for the punishment of sinners, in accordance with the ordinance, "Forty stripes he may give him, he shall not exceed" (Deut. XXV, 3). Further, this number corresponds to the four quarters of the world, so that there were ten for each quarter. For since man was created from the four quarters of the world, and the decree went forth, "And I will blot out every living substance that I have made from the face of the earth", forty were required for this purpose.' R. Isaac studied regularly with R. Simeon. One day he asked him: 'With reference to the passage "And the earth was corrupt", [62a] if men sinned, why should the earth be called corrupt ?' R. Simeon replied: 'We find a parallel in the passage, "And the land was defiled, therefore I did visit the iniquity thereof upon it" (Lev. XVIII, 25), where the same problem arises. The explanation is that mankind constitute the essence of the earth, so that they infect the earth with their own corruption. This is made clear by the language of the Scripture in the passage, "And God saw the earth, and behold it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth." For indeed all the other sins of man, involving but his own corruption, admit of repentance. But the sin of onanism is one by which man corrupts both himself and the earth; and of such a one it is written, "The stain of thine iniquity remains before me" (Jer. II, 22), also "For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, evil shall not sojourn with thee" (Ps. v, 5), and it is further written, "And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord slew him" (Gen. XXXVIII, 7), as explained elsewhere.' R. Judah further asked, "Why did the Holy One, blessed be He, punish the world with water, and not with fire or any other element?' R. Simeon replied: 'There is a mystical reason, based on the fact that they "corrupted their ways". As their sin consisted in not allowing the upper and lower waters to meet in conjunction, as they ought, so were they punished with water. Further, the waters of the Deluge were burning hot, and caused their skins to peel off, this being a meet punishment for the sin they committed in wasting the warm fluid. It was all measure for measure. The words in the text, "All the fountains of the great deep were broken open" refer to the lower waters, and the words "And the windows of Heaven were opened" refer to the upper waters. Thus were the two waters combined as a fit punishment for their sins.'

R. Hiya and R. Judah, while once going on their travels, came to some huge mountains, in the ravines of which they found human bones left over from the generation of the Flood. They measured a bone and found to their amazement that it was three hundred paces long. They said: 'This bears out what our colleagues have said, that the men of the time of the Flood did not fear the vengeance of the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written, "They said unto God, Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways" (Job XXI, 14), and that one of the things they did was to stop up with their feet the fountains of the deep, until the waters which bubbled up became too hot for them to endure, so that they finally succumbed and fell to the ground and died.'

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AND NOAH BEGAT THREE SONS. [2] Said R. Hiya to R. Judah: 'Let me tell you what I have heard regarding this text. A man once entered the recesses of a cavern, and there issued two or three children together, who differed from one another in their character and conduct: one was virtuous, a second vicious, and a third average. Similarly we find three strands of spirit which flit about and are taken up into three different worlds. The neshamah (spiritual soul) emerges and enters between the gorges of the mountains, where it is joined by the ruah (intellectual spirit). It descends then below where the nefesh (vital spirit) joins the ruah, and all three form a unity.' R. Judah said: 'The nefesh and the ruah are intertwined together, whereas the neshamah resides in a man's character-an abode which cannot be discovered or located. Should a man strive towards purity of life, he is aided thereto by a holy neshamah, whereby he is purified and sanctified and attains the title of "saint". But should he not strive for righteousness and purity of life, he is animated only by the two grades, nefesh and ruah, and is devoid of a holy neshamah. What is more, he who commences to defile himself is led further into defilement, and heavenly help is withdrawn from him. Thus each is led along the path which he chooses.' [62b]

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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

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Part 2 of 4

AND GOD SAID TO NOAH, THE END OF ALL FLESH IS COME BEFORE ME. R. Judah illustrated this passage from the verse: Lord, make me know mine end, and tire measure of my days 'What it is,. let me know how short lived I am (Ps. XXXIX, 5). He said: 'David said before the Holy One, blessed be He, "There are two 'ends', one on the right and one on the left, these being the two paths by which men proceed towards the other world." The end on the right is referred to in the words "at the end of the right" (Daniel XII, 13); and the end on the left in the words "He setteth an end to darkness, and the ending of all things does he search out" (Job XXVIII,3). "End" here is the angel of destruction, who is also the serpent, and who is called "End of all flesh". When the doom of destruction is hanging over the world, this "searches out" and explores every avenue through which it can bring accusations against the world so as to reduce men to despair. [63a] The term "end of the right", as already said, is based on the phrase "at the end of the right" in the book of Daniel. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Daniel. "Thou shalt go towards the end. and wilt rest" (Dan. XII. 13). Daniel asked: "Rest in this world or in the next world?" "Rest in the next world". was the answer (cf. "They will rest in their beds", Is. LVII. 2). "and thou shalt stand up to thy lot at the end of days". Daniel asked. "Shall I be among the resurrected or not?" God answered, "And thou wilt stand up." Daniel then said. "I know full well that the dead will rise up in various classes. some righteous and some wicked, but I do not know among whom I shall be found." God answered. "To thy lot." Daniel then said. "As there is a right end and a left end. I do not know whether I shall go to the right end (l'qets hayamin) or to the end of days (l'qets hayamim)." The answer was. "To the end of the right (l'qets hayamin)." Similarly. David said to the Holy One, blessed be He, "make me to know my end", that is. he wished to know to which end he was allotted. and his mind was not at rest till the good tidings reached him. "Sit at my right hand" (Ps. ex, I). So to Noah also the Holy One. blessed be He, said, "The end of all flesh is come before me." The term "end", as we have seen. alludes to the angel of death, who reduces men to despair. and who is indeed the end of all flesh. "Is come before me": from this we learn that though the wicked go half-way to meet him and draw him to themselves, yet only after he receives authorisation does he take a man's soul: he cannot take it before. Hence we read "is come before me", to wit, to obtain permission to darken the faces of mankind, and so "I will destroy them with the earth". Hence the command given to Noah, MAKE THEE AN ARK OF GOPHER WOOD, to save thyself therein and so that he should not have power over thee. There was also another reason. We have a dictum that when death rages in a town or in the world at large, no man should show himself in the street, because the destroying angel is then authorised to kill indiscriminately. Hence the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Noah, "It behoves thee to take heed to thyself and not show thyself before the destroyer, so that he may have no power over thee." You may perhaps say that there was not here any destroying angel, but only the onrush of the overwhelming waters. This is not so; no doom is ever executed on the world, whether of annihilation or any other chastisement, but the destroying angel is in the midst of the visitation. So here there was indeed a flood, but this was only an embodiment of the destroyer who assumed its name. Hence the command given to Noah to hide himself and not to show himself abroad. But, you may object further, the ark was exposed to full view in the midst of the world through which the destroyer was roaming. The answer is that this made no difference, since, as long as the face of a man is not seen by the destroyer, he has no power over him. We learn this from the precept given at the time of the Exodus, "and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning" (Ex. XII, 22), the reason being that the destroyer was then abroad with power to destroy anyone who showed himself. For the same reason Noah withdrew himself and all under his charge into the ark, so that the destroyer had no power over him.'

R. Hiya and R. Jose in the course of their travels came to the mountains of Kurdistan, and observed there some deep ravines which had been left from the Flood. Said R. Hiya: 'These ravines are vestiges of the days of the Flood, and the Holy One, blessed be He, has left them throughout the generations so that the sins of the wicked should not be blotted out from before Him. For just as God causes the memory of those who do His will to endure on high and here below from generation to generation, so He ordains that the evil memory of the sins of the wicked who have not obeyed Him shall not pass away but remain for all generations, as it is written, "The stain of thine iniquity remains before me" (Jer. II, 22).'

R. Jose discoursed on the text: Cry thou with a shrill voice, oh daughter of Gallim! Hearken, oh Laish! Oh thou poor Anathoth! (Is. X, 30). He said: 'Our companions have already interpreted this verse in their own way, but in truth it refers to the Community of Israel, called "the daughter of springs" (Gallim), on the analogy of the expression, "A spring (gal) shut up" (S. S. IV, 12). The term "spring" has special reference to those streams that converge and flow into the Garden, as it is written, "Thy shoots are a garden (pardes) of pomegranates" (Ibid. 13). The term laisha is akin to the term laish in "the lion (laish) perisheth for lack of prey" (Job IV, II). Why is the Community of Israel called "lion" ? It might be in allusion to "the lion which is mighty among beasts" (Prov. XXX, 30), or again to "the lion perisheth for lack of prey". But indeed, the two aspects are combined in it. At one time it is laish (he lion), filled with the lower-world energy emanating from the higher-world energy; and then again it is reduced to the state of "a lion perishing for lack of prey", when the rivers dry up and do not come to replenish her, at which time she is rather called laisha (lioness). [63b] The name laisha is further explained by the words which immediately follow, aniah anathoth, which properly mean 'poorest of the poor". The word anathoth is found with a similar meaning in the passage "of the priests that were in Anathoth" (Jer. I, I). Another example of the word used in this sense is in the verse "Anathoth, get thee unto thine own fields" (I Kings 11, 26). The meaning of this verse is as follows. So long as King David was alive, Abiathar was wealthy and prosperous; but after David died, Solomon ordered him to get to his own fields, calling him "Anathoth". Why did he give him this name? It cannot be because this was the name of the town he came from, since it is written, "and one of the sons of Ahimelech the-son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped" (I Sam. XXII, 20), which proves that he belonged to Nob, the city of the priests. Some, indeed, are of opinion that Anathoth and Nob are two names of the same place, the name "Anathoth" having been given to it on account of the poverty and destitution to which it had been reduced by Saul through the slaughter of all its priestly inhabitants. This, however, is incorrect, as Anathoth was distinct from Nob. The real reason why Solomon called Abiathar "Anathoth" is to be found in the words "and because thou wasr afflicted (hithanitha) in all wherein my father was afflicted" (I Kings II, 26); thus the name "Anathoth" alludes to the poverty and affliction which he underwent in the time of David.'

R. Hiya said: 'The world was in a state of poverty and misery from the time Adam transgressed the command of the Almighty until Noah came and offered up a sacrifice, when its prosperity returned.' R. Jose said: 'The world was not properly settled, nor was the earth purged from the defilement of the serpent, until Israel stood before Mount Sinai, where they laid fast hold of the Tree of Life, and so established the world firmly. Had not Israel backslided and sinned before the Holy One, blessed be He, they would never have died, since the scum of the serpent had been purged out of them. But as soon as they sinned, the first tablets of the Law were broken -- those tablets which spelt complete freedom, freedom from the serpent who is the "end of all flesh". When the Levites rose up to slay the guilty, the evil serpent went in front of them, but he had no power over Israel, because they were girt with a certain armour which protected them against his attacks. When, however, God said to Moses, "Therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee" (Ex. XXXIII, 5), this was the signal that they were placed in the power of the serpent (this is indicated by the form vayithnaselu, which shows that they were stripped by the hand of another). The ornaments referred to are those which they received at Mount Horeb at the time when the Torah was given to Israel.' R. Hiva said: 'Why did not Noah, being a righteous man, cause death to vanish from the world ? The reason is that the scum of the serpent had not yet been removed from the world, and further, that his generation did not believe in the Holy One, blessed be He, and all of them clung to the "lower leaves of the tree", and were clothed with an unclean spirit. Furthermore, they persisted in their sins, and followed their evil inclination as before, and the holy Torah, which is the Tree of Life, had not yet been brought down to the earth. Moreover, Noah himself drew death into the world, through his own sin, of which it is written, "And he drank of the wine and was drunken, and he was uncovered within his tent" (Gen. IX, 21), as elsewhere explained.'

As they were going along they saw a man coming towards them. Said R. Jose: 'This man is a Jew.' When he came up to them they asked him who he was. He said: 'I am on a religious errand from the village of Ramin, where I live. As it is near the Feast of Tabernacles, we require a palm branch with its accessories. I am therefore on my way to pluck them.' They all then walked on together. The Judean said to them: 'In regard to these four plants which we take in order to propitiate the Almighty, have you heard why we require them precisely on the Feast of Tabernacles ?' Said R. Jose to him: 'Our colleagues have already discussed this question. But if you have any explanation of your own, tell us.' He replied: 'The place where we live is indeed only a little hamlet, but all its inhabitants diligently study the Torah under the guidance of a learned teacher, R. Isaac the son of Jose by name, of Mehozah, who every day gives us some fresh explanation of points in the Torah. Regarding this festival, he explained that this is the fitting period for Israel to obtain dominion over the chiefs who have charge of the nations of the Gentiles, and who are called by them "the proud waters" (Ps. CXXIV, 6). In order to obtain dominion over them, we come with a symbolic representation of the Divine name by means of the four plants, which we also take for the purpose of placating the Almighty [64a] so as to procure for ourselves a plenitude of sacred waters with which to pour a libation on the altar. He further told us that on the New Year there is in the world "a first stirring". What is meant by "a first stirring"? This is the lower-world tribunal which bestirs itself to bring the world to judgement, as God then sits in judgement over the world. This tribunal continues in session until the Day of Atonement, when the face of the moon is bright, and the slanderous serpent leaves the world alone, being occupied with the he-goat which has been offered to him -- an appropriate offering, as the goat is from the "impure region". Being occupied with that goat, he does not come near the sanctuary. This goat performs the same function as the goat offered up on the New Moon, with which also the serpent occupies himself, allowing the moon to grow bright. In consequence, all Israel find favour in the eyes of the Almighty, and their guilt is removed. He further discoursed to us on another mystery which it is not permitted to disclose save to those of excelling wisdom, saintliness, and piety.' 'What is it?' asked R. Jose. 'I cannot say unless I first test you,' replied the Jew. They then proceeded on their way, and after a time he said: 'When the moon approaches the sun, the Holy One, blessed be He, stirs up the northern side, and it grasps the moon lovingly and draws her towards itself. Then the South awakens from the other side, and the moon rises and joins the East. She thus draws sustenance from two sides, and noiselessly receives blessings; and thus it is that the moon is blessed and attains her fullness. Now as there is a symbolical attribution of members to the (supernal) Adam, so there is to the (supernal) Female, and so, too, there is the symbolism of another Adam under the moon, and also of a Female. As the Left Arm above grasps the Female and lovingly draws her to him, so below the serpent, which is the left arm of the unclean spirit, and joined with it he that rides on it, draw near to the moon and draw her tightly to them, 80 that she becomes defiled. Israel, therefore, here below offer up a goat, to which the serpent is drawn away. The moon then purges herself, ascends on high, and unites herself to the higher sphere to receive blessing, and her lower face, which was darkened, becomes bright. So here on the Day of Atonement, since the evil serpent is occupied with the he-goat, the moon breaks loose from him, and earnestly pleads the cause of Israel, and watches over them like a mother over her children, so that the Holy One, blessed be He, blesses them from above and forgives their sins. Afterwards, when Israel celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, the "right side" is awakened on high, so that the moon may attach herself to it and her face may become completely bright. She then shares out blessings to all those presiding chiefs of the lower world, so that they may be fully occupied with their own portions, and not attempt to draw sustenance from the side from which Israel obtained their portion. The same thing happens here below. When all the other nations receive their blessings, they are fully occupied with their own portions, and so do not come and meddle with Israel or covet the portion of their heritage. Israel for this reason cause blessings to flow to all those presiding chiefs, in order that they may be absorbed with their own portions and not meddle with that of Israel. And when the moon obtains her due fill of blessings, Israel come and draw sustenance from her all by themselves; and of this it is written, "on the eighth day there shall be to you a solemn gathering" (atsereth, Num. XXIX, 35). This "gathering" indicates the gathering of all the blessings from above, from which no other nation draws sustenance save Israel; hence "there shall be to you a gathering", to you, and not to the other nations and presiding chiefs. And for this reason Israel entreats Heaven to grant a plenitude of rain, so as to accord the nations their share of blessings, that they may be fully occupied therewith, and not meddle in the festivity of Israel, who imbibe the superior blessings. Concerning this day it is written, "My beloved is mine and I am his" (S. S. II, 16), and there is no third one with us. The following parable will make this clearer. A king once invited his favourite to a special feast on an appointed day, thus making known to him [64b] that he stood high in the favour of the king. The king, however, was apprehensive lest in the midst of the feast all the governors of his provinces might put in an appearance, sit down to table, and partake of the repast intended for his beloved friend. What did he do ? He first treated his governors and ministers to a repast of meat and vegetables. Afterwards he sat down with his favourite to that special banquet where all the finest delicacies of the world were spread before them ; and whilst alone with the king the favourite laid before him all his petitions and requests, which the king granted. Thus the king enjoyed the company of his friend alone and undisturbed. So it is with Israel in their relation to the Holy One, blessed be He, and hence it is written, "the eighth day shall be to you a gathering".' Said R Hiya and R Jose: 'The Holy One, blessed be He, has led our footsteps in the right path. Happy those who occupy themselves with the Torah.' With these words they came up to him and embraced him. R. Jose applied to him the verse, "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children" (Is. LIV, 13).

When they came to a certain field, the stranger discoursed thus. 'In the account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah it is written, "And the Lord (YHVH) caused to rain, etc." (Gen. XIX, 24), whereas throughout the narrative of the Flood the term Elohim (God) is used exclusively. What is the reason for this difference? We have been taught that the term V-YHVH (and the Lord), wherever written indicates the Deity presiding over his Court of Justice, whereas the term Elohim (God) is used when the Deity judges alone. Now the destruction of Sodom was limited to one locality, and did not involve the whole world, hence it was decreed in open court, as indicated by the term V-YHVH (and the Lord); whereas the Flood overwhelmed the whole world, and therefore had to be decreed by the Deity alone, in concealment, as it were; hence the term Elohim. (As for Noah and his companions, they were only saved through being carefully concealed from sight.) In this light we explain the verse "The Lord sat at the Flood" (Ps. XXIX,10), that is, He sat as it were all by Himself, on the analogy of the expression "He shall sit alone" (Lev. XIII, 46). Now it is because Noah was completely hidden from sight that, after the world had suffered its doom and the wrath of the Deity had been appeased, we read AND GOD (ELOHIM) REMEMBERED NOAH, for Noah having been so long out of sight had to be specially brought to mind. From this passage we derive the mystical doctrine that the Holy One, blessed be He, is sometimes discoverable and sometimes undiscoverable. He is discoverable when presiding over the lower Court. He remains undiscoverable in the spot whence all blessings flow. Hence those possessions of a man which are hidden from sight are receptive of the heavenly blessing; whereas things which are exposed to view attract the notice of the accuser, and are subject to the influence of him who is named "Evil of eye". There is a deep mystery which connects all this with the supernal pattern.' R. Jose, with tears in his eyes, said: 'Happy is the generation in which R. Simeon flourishes, for it is through his merit that we have been privileged to hear so sublime a discourse as this.' R. Jose said further, 'God must have sent that man on this road to impart to us these ideas.' When they came to R. Simeon and repeated to him all they had heard, he said, 'Of a truth he spoke well.'

R. Eleazar, studying one day with his father, R. Simeon, asked him, 'Did the "End of all flesh" derive nourishment from the sacrifices which Israel used to offer on the altar?' His father replied: 'All alike derived sustenance from them, both above and below. Consider this. The priests, the Levites, and the Israelites are called Adam (Man), through the unison of the holy liturgies which proceed from them. Whenever a sheep or a lamb, or any animal, was brought as an offering, it was required of those who brought it, before it was offered on the altar, to recite over it all sins and evil intentions and thoughts, and to make confession of them, and it is thus that the creature is designated a b'hemah (animal) throughout, in that it carries these sins and evil thoughts. As in the case of the Azazel (scapegoat) offering it is written, "And he shall confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, etc." (Lev. XVI, 21), so it is here: the one offering brought on the altar bears a twofold burden. Consequently each part goes to its fitting place, the one qua "man" and the other qua "beast", as we read, "Man and beast thou dost save, O Lord" (Ps. XXXVI, 7). Baked meal-offering or other meal offerings are the means of invoking the Holy Spirit on the service of the priests, the song of the Levites, and the prayer of the Israelites; and from the smoke that rises up from the oil and the flour all the accusers replenish themselves, [65a] so that they are powerless to pursue the indictment which has been delivered into their hands. Thus we see that things have been so arranged in the mystery of faith that the adversary should have his share in the holy things, and that the requisite portion should ascend even to the Limitless.'

R. Simeon said: 'When praying, I raise my hand on high, that when my mind is concentrated on the highest, there is higher still that which can never be known or grasped, the starting-point that is absolutely concealed, that produced what it produced while remaining unknowable, and irradiated what it irradiated while remaining undisclosed. It is the desire of the upward-striving thought to pursue after this and to be illumined by it. In the process a certain fragment is detached, and from that fragment, through the pursuit of the upward-striving thought, which reaches and yet does not reach it, there is a certain illumination. The upward-striving thought is thus illumined by a light undisclosed and unknowable even to that thought. That unknowable light of Thought impinges on the light of the detached fragment which radiates from the unknowable and undisclosed, so that they are fused into one light, from which are formed nine Palaces (Hekaloth). These Palaces are neither lights nor spirits nor souls, neither is there anyone who can grasp them. The longing of the nine illuminations which are all centred in the Thought -- the latter being indeed counted as one of them -- is to pursue these Palaces at the time when they are stationed in the thought, though they are not (even then) grasped or known, nor are they attained by the highest effort of the mind or the thought. All the mysteries of faith are contained in those Palaces, and all those lights which proceed from the mystic supreme Thought are called EN-SOF (Limitless). Up to this point the lights reach and yet do not reach: this is beyond the attainment of mind and thought. When Thought illumines, though from what source is not known, it is clothed and enveloped in Binah (understanding), and then further lights appear and one is embraced with the other until all are intertwined. The symbolism of the sacrifices consists, then, in this. When the whole ascends one part is knit with the other and its elements shine through one another, so that all ascend and the thought is embraced in the limitless. The light from which the upward-striving thought is illumined is called En-Sof, and from it all radiation proceeds and on it is based the whole of existence. Happy the portion of the righteous in this world and in the world to come. In regard, then, to the "end of all flesh", just as there is unison above with joy (at the time of the sacrifice), so also below there is joy and appeasement. There is thus satisfaction both above and below, and the Mother of Israel watches lovingly over her children. Consider this. At every New Moon the "End of all flesh" is given a portion over and above that of the daily offering, so as to divert his attention from Israel, who are thus left entirely to themselves and in full freedom to commune with their King. This extra portion comes from the he-goat (sa'ir), being the portion of Esau, who is also called sa'ir, as it is written, "Behold Esau my brother is a hairy (sa'ir) man" (Gen. XXVII, II). Esau thus has his portion and Israel their portion. Hence it is written, "For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his own treasure" (Ps. CXXXV, 4). Consider this point. The whole desire of this "End of all flesh" is for flesh only, and the tendency of flesh is ever towards him; it is for this reason that he is called "End of all flesh". Such power, however, as he does obtain is only over the body and not over the soul. The soul ascends to her place, and the body is given over to its place, in the same way as in an offering the devotion of him who offers ascends to one place, and the flesh to another. Hence the righteous man is, of a truth, himself an offering of atonement. But he who is not righteous is disqualified as an offering, for the reason that he suffers from a blemish, and is therefore like the defective animals of which it is written, "they shall not be accepted for you" (Lev. XXII, 25). Hence it is that the righteous are an atonement and a sacrifice for the world.' [65b]

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AND NOAH WAS SIX HUNDRED YEARS OLD. Why is Noah's age specified here? The reason is that if he had not reached this age, he would not yet have been qualified to enter the ark and become united with it. Hence, after the measure of the world's sins had been completed, God respited them until Noah, having lived to the age of six hundred years, reached his full development and attained the condition of "a man righteous and perfect". Then it was that he entered the ark, and reproduced the supernal pattern.

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AND I, BEHOLD I DO BRING THE FLOOD OF WATERS. Note the repetition of the term "behold I" after "I". The explanation is as follows: Wherever the term ani (I) is used of the Deity, it signifies, as it were, the relation of a body to a soul which inspires it. For this reason it is figuratively called "the sign of the covenant" in the passage "I (ani) behold (am) my covenant with thee" (Gen. XVII,4), i.e. "I" who am manifest and in course of becoming known; "I" the throne to the Essence on high; "I" who exact vengeance from generation to generation. The word va'ani (and I) embodies male and female in conjunction; afterwards the male is noted separately, as being held in readiness to execute judgement, in the word "behold I" (hineni). I DO BRING THE FLOOD OF WATERS. If "flood", why also "waters" ? The truth is that the term "flood" here indicates the angel of death, who was the chief agent of destruction, although he used the waters as his instrument. With reference to the word ani, our teachers have explained that the expression "I am (ani) the Lord" is equivalent to "I am faithful to recompense the righteous and to punish the wicked"; hence Scripture always uses the term ani (I) in recording God's promise to the righteous to reward them and His threat to the wicked to punish them in the world to come. To DESTROY ALL FLESH: to wit, through the world's destroying angel, as already explained; the same that is referred to in the verse "And he will not suffer the destroyer to come into your houses to smite you" (Ex. XII, 23). Hence "to destroy all flesh" means, from the side of "the end of all flesh". For as soon as the time of grace expired which God granted them till Noah should reach the age of six hundred years, then the moment arrived to "destroy all flesh".

R. Simeon discoursed on the text: I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord in the land of the living,. I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world (Is. XXXVIII, II). 'How obtuse: he said, 'are the sons of men who do not know nor pay heed to the words of the Torah, but think only of worldly matters, so that the spirit of wisdom is forgotten of them. For when a man departs from this world, and goes to give an account to his Master of all his actions in this world while body and soul were still joined together, he sees many strange things on his way, and at length meets Adam, the first man, sitting at the gate of the Garden of Eden, ready to welcome with joy all those who have observed the commands of their Master. Round him are many righteous men, those who in this life have kept clear of the path to Gehinnom and followed the path to the Garden of Eden. It is these who are here called "inhabitants of the world'. The word used for "world" here is not the usual holed, but hadel. The reason is that holed is akin to huldah (mole), a creature whose characteristic it is laboriously to heap up provision and leave it to it knows not whom. The term hodel, on the other hand, is derived from a root signifying "avoidance", and thus is a description of the righteous who avoid and keep far from the ways of Gehinnom and cling to those leading to the Garden of Eden. According to another interpretation, the expression "inhabitants of hodel" designates penitents who have resolutely kept clear of their former sins, and since Adam was the first penitent, he was given charge of all penitents, those who are called "sons of hodel" (avoidance), and he therefore sits at the gate of the Garden of Eden, welcoming with joy and gladness the righteous who take the path to the Garden of Eden. It says further in the same passage: "I will not see God". Naturally one cannot see God, but the expression is explained by the concluding words, "God in the land of the living". When souls ascend to the place of the "bundle of life" (v. I Sam. XXV, 29), they feast their eyes on the beams of the "refulgent mirror" which radiates [66a] from the most sublime region. And were the soul not clothed in the resplendency of another (i.e. nonfleshly) garment, it would not be able to approach that effulgence. The esoteric doctrine is that in the same way as the soul has to be clothed in a bodily garment in order to exist in this world, so is she given an ethereal supernal garment wherewith to exist in the other world, and to be enabled to gaze at the effulgence of life radiating from that "land of the living". Hence it is that Moses was not able to draw near to the place of God and to fix his gaze on what was to be seen there until he was first enveloped in another garment, as we read: "And Moses entered into the midst of the cloud, and went up into the mount" (Ex. XXIV, I 8), that is, he enveloped himself in the cloud, as in a garment, and then he "drew near into the thick darkness where God was" (Ex. XX, 18), and "was in the mount forty days and forty nights" (Ibid. XXIV, 18), and was able to see what he did see. In similar fashion the souls of the righteous in the other world clothe themselves in garments belonging to that world, so that they can endure to gaze on the light which is diffused in that "land of the living". This is what Hezekiah meant when he said "God, God in the land of the living" (Is. XXXVIII, II). He was afraid that he would be found unworthy to gaze on that light because he had allowed the life-giving stream to cease with him, through not begetting children. In his further words, "I shall behold Adam no more" (Ibid.), there is a reference to Adam the first man, as has already been explained. He spoke in this strain because the prophet had told him, "for thou shalt die and not live" (Ibid. I), "die", that is, in this world, and "not live" in the other world. For he who does not beget children in this world is denied all the blissfulness we have mentioned, and he is not privileged to contemplate the glorious effulgence. If this was the case with Hezekiah, who came of pious ancestors, and was himself worthy, righteous and pious, how much more so must it be the case with one who has no such ancestral merit to support him, and has himself sinned before his Master? That garment of which we have spoken is the same which the companions call "the robe of the sages", with which they are clothed in the other world. Happy the portion of the righteous, for whom the Holy One, blessed be He, has treasured up blessings and delights in the other world! Of them it is written, "Eye hath not seen besides thee, O God, what thou shalt do for him that waiteth for thee" (Is. LXIV, 3).'

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AND I, BEHOLD I, DO BRING THE FLOOD OF WATERS UPON THE EARTH. R. Judah discoursed on the text: These are the waters of strife, wherein the children of Israel strove with the Lord and he was sanctified in them (Num. XX, 13). He said: 'As this was not the only occasion when the children of Israel strove with the Lord, why is the epithet of "strife" attached to these waters in particular? The reason is that these waters gave added strength and confidence to the accusers. For there are sweet waters and bitter waters, clear waters and turbid waters, waters of peace and waters of strife. These were waters of strife, because through them Israel drew upon themselves the unwelcome visitor through whom they became defiled; this is indicated in the word vayiqadesh.' Said R. Hizkiah: 'If this is so, we should have the plural vayiqadeshu (and they were defiled). The truth is that the singular refers not to the Israelites but to the moon, and the word vayiqadesh is not used here in a good sense.' R. Jose said: 'Woe to the wicked who will not repent of their sins before the Almighty while they are still in this world. For when a man repents of his sins and feels remorse for them, the Holy One, blessed be He, forgives them. But those who cling to their sins and refuse to repent of them will in the end descend to Gehinnom and never come up again. Thus because the generation of Noah were stubborn of heart and flaunted their sins openly and defiantly, the Holy One, blessed be He, punished them as here described.' Said R. Isaac: 'When a man sins in secret, if he repents, the Holy One, blessed be He, being merciful, relents and forgives him; but if not, He then publishes his sins before the world. We learn this from the treatment of the faithless wife (Sotah). [3] Similarly here, the wicked were exterminated in sight of all. The manner of their death was as follows: scalding water spurted up from the abyss, and as it reached them it first burnt the skin from the flesh, and then the flesh from the bones; the bones then came asunder, no two remaining together, and thus they were completely blotted out.' R. Isaac said: 'The words "they were blotted out from the earth" is analogous to the expression "let them be blotted out of the book of the living" (Ps. LXIX, 29), thus indicating that they will not participate in the resurrection and will not rise in the Day of Judgement.' [66b]

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AND I WILL ESTABLISH MY COVENANT WITH THEE, R. Eleazar said: 'From this we learn that there is an establishment of the covenant on high co-ordinate with the establishment of the covenant here below. This we deduce from the expression "with thee".' R. Eleazar further said: 'We also learn from here that when there are righteous men in this world, the universe is more firmly established both above and below.' R. Simeon said: 'A recondite principle is here enshrined. As the desire of the male towards the female is intensified by jealousy, so is the desire of the Most High towards the Shekinah. Thus, when there is a righteous man in the world, the Shekinah attaches herself to him and never leaves him. This creates, as it were, jealousy on high, which provokes love towards her in the same way as the male is incited to love the female through jealousy; this is implied in the expression "And I will establish my covenant with thee", as much as to say: "Desire hath awakened through you." The same idea is contained in the words "but my covenant will I establish with Isaac" (Gen. XVII, 21). AND I WILL ESTABLISH MY COVENANT WITH THEE: in other words: "Thou shalt be the embodiment of my covenant in the world." and then: AND THOU SHALT COME INT0 THE ARK. For had not Noah been righteous, he could not have entered the ark, as only the Righteous one (Zaddik) can become united with the ark, as has been explained.' R. Eleazar said: 'As long as men remain attached to that ark and do not loosen their hold of it, there is no nation or language in the world that can harm them. Noah too kept fast hold of the covenant and observed it, and therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, preserved him; but all his contemporaries who did not keep the covenant were destroyed.' As has already been stated, the manner of their destruction corresponded exactly to the character of their crimes.

R. Judah studied regularly with R. Simeon. On one occasion they discussed the verse: And he repaired (lit. healed) the altar of the Lord that was thrown down (I Kings XVIII, 30). 'What', they asked, 'is meant by the term vayrappe (and he healed) ?' 'The answer is this. In the days of Elijah, all Israel forsook the Holy One, blessed be He, and neglected the holy covenant. When Elijah became aware that the children of Israel had entirely neglected the covenant, he set himself to rectify the evil and to restore the covenant to its former vogue. Hence the expression, "And he healed the altar of the Lord that was thrown down", to wit, the established covenant that was utterly neglected. It is further written: "And Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob" (this being the appropriate means of repairing the altar of the Lord), "unto whom the word of the Lord came saying, Israel shall be thy name" (Ibid. 31), implying that Israel was to be the name by which he could ascend on high and restore the covenant in its place. It is for this reason that Elijah said expressly, "for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant" (Ibid. XIX, 10), and, as a consequence, "thrown down thine altars" (Ibid.). Take note that as long as Israel observe the holy covenant, they thereby effect the stabilisation of the world above and below, as it is written: "If my covenant be not (observed) day and night, the ordinances of heaven and earth were as if I had not appointed them." (Jer. XXXIII, 25). The repairing, then, of the shattered altar was truly a healing, as it had for its purpose the reintegration of the spot to which faith attaches itself. Similarly with Phineas at the time when he was filled with zeal to punish the crime of Zimri: he also re-established the covenant in its place, and hence God said to him, "Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace" (Num. XXV, 12). This does not mean that the covenant was on account of Phineas, or that he was in conflict with the covenant, but that now it was firmly attached to its place. This is shown by the combination of the words "covenant" and "peace", as if to say, "Behold I give to him the peaceful confirmation of the covenant in its place", from which it had been tom by the transgressors. Hence, too, "and it shall be unto him and to his seed after him the covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was jealous for his God".' (Ibid. 13). R. Simeon said: 'There is no sin in the world which so much provokes the anger of the Almighty as the sin of neglecting the covenant, as we read, "a sword that shall execute the vengeance of the covenant" (Lev. XXVI, 25). The proof is that in the generation of the Flood the measure of sin was not filled up until mankind became (sexually) perverted and destroyed their seed. And although they defrauded each other, as it is written, [67a] "And the earth was filled with violence'', [4] and again "for the earth is filled with violence through them", yet it was because "the earth was corrupt before God" that the doom was finally pronounced, "behold I will destroy (lit. corrupt) them". Thus they suffered measure for measure: they were doomed to corruption for having corrupted and perverted their ways. According to another view, it was the sin of violence which finally completed the measure of their guilt, as they used to overreach one another and were thus wicked both towards Heaven and towards their fellow men. For many are the guardians on high charged to lend ear to those who cry out for justice against their oppressors. Hence the words FOR THE EARTH IS FILLED WITH VIOLENCE THROUGH THEM are immediately followed by the words AND BEHOLD I WILL DESTROY THEM WITH THE EARTH.

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AND THE LORD SAID UNTO NOAH, COME THOU AND ALL THY HOUSE. Said R. Simeon: 'How is it that throughout this passage God is always designated Elohim save in this place, where we find the name Jehovah, significant of the attribute of mercy? There is here an inner meaning which is at the same time a lesson. The lesson is that a woman should not admit a guest into her house without the consent of her husband. So here, when Noah wished to enter the ark, and to become united with her, it was not becoming for her to admit him before her Master gave his permission to enter and said: "Come thou and all thy house into the ark." Hence the name Jehovah is used here, to designate what we call the husband of the ark. Similarly we learn that neither may the guest enter the house save with the consent of the husband, who is the master of the house, and hence it was only later that NOAH WENT IN. Note again the words: FOR THEE I HAVE SEEN RIGHTEOUS BEFORE ME IN THIS GENERATION. We learn from this the lesson that a man should not admit into his house any guest whom he suspects of wrong-doing, but only such a one as is above all suspicion in his eyes. It was in accordance with this principle that God said unto Noah, "Come thou and all thy house into the ark, for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation." We further learn that special permission must be obtained for the guest's household, as it is written: "Come thou and thy house".'

R. Judah discoursed on the verse: Of David a psalm. The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof (Ps. XXIV, I). He said: 'We have been taught that the heading "Of David a psalm" in the Book of Psalms implies that David began to compose of himself and thereby induced the Holy Spirit to rest on him, whereas the heading "A psalm of David" implies the opposite, viz. that the Holy Spirit rested on him first, and under its inspiration he was moved to song. "The earth" here refers to the holy land of Israel, and by the words "and the fulness thereof" is meant the Shekinah, which is associated with fulness in the verses "for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord" (I Kings VIII, 2), and again, "and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Ex. XL, 35). This last passage means literally "the glory of the Lord was full" (male), i.e. full to overflowing, full from all sides both from the sun and the moon like a storehouse filled with all kinds of good things. Similar is the sense of the words "and the fulness thereof" here. The words "the world and they that dwell therein" refer to the rest of the world. According to another view, the words "the earth and the fulness thereof" refer to the supernal Holy Land in which is the delight of the Holy One, blessed be He, and the words "the fulness thereof" refer to the souls of the righteous who fill this earth. What is meant by "the righteous filling the earth" is this. When the righteous multiply in the world, then the earth is truly productive and filled with goodness. But when the wicked multiply in the world, then it may be said that "the waters cease from the sea, and the river is drained dry" (Job XIV, II), the "sea" being the Holy Land, which is watered by the supernal stream.'

R. Judah further said: 'When the sinners were destroyed in the time of Noah, God was very anxious for the preservation of the world, but could see no one who might save it from His wrath; for the whole efforts of Noah were required to save himself and to repeople the world. So it is written: FOR THEE HAVE I SEEN RIGHTEOUS BEFORE ME IN THIS GENERATION, i.e. he was righteous only by comparison with his contemporaries.' R. Jose said: [67b] 'The words "in this generation" are a tribute to Noah, as much as to say, surrounded as he was by that wicked generation, he yet remained as righteous and perfect a man as if he had lived in the generation of Moses. But he could not save the world, for the reason that there were not to be found ten righteous men in it (similarly we read of Sodom, "peradventure ten shall be found there", Gen. XVIII, 32), but only Noah and his three sons with their womenfolk.' R. Eleazar asked R. Simeon, his father: 'We have been taught that when the world becomes full of sin and is doomed to destruction, woe is then to the righteous man who is found in it, for he is first made answerable for its sins. How, then, was Noah able to escape the general doom ?' His father replied: 'It has already been said that the Holy One, blessed be He, desired to people the world anew through him when he should issue from the ark. And further, the general doom could not reach him because he was securely stored away in the ark and concealed from sight, thus fulfilling the verse, "Seek righteousness, seek humility, it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger" (Zeph. II, 3). Because Noah sought righteousness, he was permitted to enter the ark, and thus "was hid in the day of the Lord's anger", and was placed beyond the reach of the Adversary.' The word vayimahu (and they were blotted out) contains a hint to the "saints of the Most High" [5] of the secret power of the sacred letters of the alphabet, and their destructive potency when used in the reverse order.

R. Isaac expounded here the verse: He who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, that divided the water before him to make himself an everlasting name (Is. LXIII, 12). 'In these words', he said, 'is a reference to the merit of Abraham, which was the "right hand" and the "glory" of Moses and divided the water before him, in order that he might "make himself an everlasting name". Observe the difference between Moses and other men. When God said to Moses, "now therefore let me alone ... and I will make of thee a great nation, etc." (Ex. XXXII, 10), Moses said immediately, "Shall I abandon Israel for my own advantage? The world will say that I killed Israel and did to them as Noah did to his generation. For when God bade Noah save himself and his household in the ark from the universal destruction at the time of the Flood, he did not intercede on behalf of his generation, but let them perish." It is for this reason that the waters of the Flood are named after him, as it is written, "for this is as the waters of Noah unto me" (Is. LIV, 9). Moses thus said: "Everyone will think that I killed them because the Lord promised to make me a great nation. It is therefore better that I should die and that Israel should not be destroyed." Immediately, therefore, he besought mercy for his people, and mercy was indeed vouchsafed to them.' R. Isaac said further: 'How come Moses to begin his intercession with the words, "Why, O Lord, doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people?" (Ex. XXXII, II) How could Moses ask such a question, knowing as he did that they had worshipped a strange god, as we read "they have made them a molten calf and have worshipped it, etc." (Ibid. 8)? In truth we are taught here that when endeavouring to appease a man who is angry with his neighbour for an offence committed against him, one should not magnify the offence, but, on the contrary, should seek to minimise it: whereas subsequently, when speaking to the offending person himself, one should emphasise the enormity of the offence, as Moses did when he said to Israel, "Ye have sinned a great sin" (Ibid. 30). Moses went so far in his intercession as to offer his own life, as it is written, "and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written" (Ibid. 32), with the result that the Holy One, blessed be He, forgave them, as it is written, "and the Lord repented of the evil" (Ibid. 14). But Noah did not do so, but was intent on saving himself only, leaving the world to its fate. Thus, whenever the world is called to strict account, the Holy One, blessed be He, says, "Alas that there is no one to be found like Moses, as it is written, 'and his people remember ... the days of Moses; where is he that brought us up out of the sea, etc.?'" (Is. LXIII, II). Moses is called "he that brought them up out of the sea" because their deliverance at that time was due to his prayer, as we read, "and the Lord said to Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me ?" (Ex. XIV, 15). So, too, the words which follow, "where is he that put his holy spirit in the midst of them ?" refer to Moses who planted [68a] the Shekinah in the midst of Israel. So, too, the words, "Who led them through the deeps", when the waters were cleft, and they went through the deeps on dry land. The whole achievement is ascribed to Moses because he risked his life for Israel.'

Said R. Judah: 'Although Noah was a righteous man, he was not so pious that God should think fit to save the world for his sake. Observe that Moses pleaded not his own merit, but that of the ancient patriarchs. Noah, however, did not possess this resource. Nevertheless, after God had said to him "and I will establish my covenant with thee", he should have entreated mercy for his fellow men, and should then have offered up the sacrifice which he brought later, in order to appease God's anger against the world.' Said R. Judah: 'What could he do ? He was in fear for his own life, lest he should perish along with the wicked, whose iniquities and provocations he had observed for so long.' R. Isaac said: 'When the wicked spread, it is the righteous man in their midst who first suffers for their sins, as it is written, "and from my sanctuary ye should commence" (Ez. IX, 6), where the word mimiqdashi (my sanctuary) may be read -- so tradition tells us -- as mimqudashai (my saintly ones). How is it, then, that God saved Noah from the midst of the sinners? It was in order to people the world anew through him, as he was a righteous man, meet for this purpose; and further, he daily warned the people, who, however, disregarded his warning, so that to him may be applied the words, "yet if thou warn the wicked ... but thou hast delivered thy soul" (Ezek. III, 19). From this we learn that he who warns the wicked, even if his warning is disregarded, saves himself and is not involved in the punishment which befalls them. If it is asked, how long should one go on warning, the answer is, till he is peremptorily forbidden. This is the point fixed by the colleagues.'

When R. Jose was studying regularly with R. Simeon, he one day said to him: 'What was the motive of the Almighty in extirpating all the animals of the field and the birds of the air along with the wicked among men? If men sinned, what wrong had the animals and birds and other creatures committed?' R. Simeon answered: 'The reason is given in the words, "For all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth." This indicates that the whole of the animal world had become corrupted and had confounded their species. Observe that it was the wicked among mankind who brought about the unnatural intercourse in the animal world, and who sought thereby to undo the work of creation: they made the rest of creation pervert their ways in imitation of themselves. Said God to them: "You seek to undo the work of my hands; your wish shall be fully granted, for every living thing that I have made will I blot out from the face of the earth. I will reduce the world to water, to its primitive state, and then I will form other creatures more worthy to endure."'

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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:48 pm

Part 3 of 4

AND NOAH WENT IN AND HIS SONS AND HIS WIFE AND HIS SONS' WIVES WITH HIM. R. Hiya quoted in this connection the verse: Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord (Jer. XXIII, 24). 'How blind and obtuse are the sons of men who regard not and know not the honour of their Master, of whom it is written, "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" (Ibid.). And yet men imagine that they can hide their sins, saying, "Who seeth us? And who knoweth us?" (Is. XXIX, 15). Where, indeed, can they hide themselves? There was once a king who built a palace and constructed underneath it secret subterranean chambers. One day the courtiers rose in revolt against the king, who thereupon laid siege to the palace with his army. The rebels sought safety by hiding in the subterranean passages and chambers. Said the king: "It is I who constructed these secret places, and do you think to escape from me by hiding there?" So God says to the wicked, "Can anyone hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him?" As much as to say, "I have created all chasms and caverns, I have made darkness and light; how, then, can you think to hide yourselves from Me?" Observe this. When a man sins before his Master and uses all devices to conceal himself, the Holy One, blessed be He, chastises him openly. Should, however, the man purify himself of his sins, God will then shield him so that he shall not be visible in the day of the fierce wrath of the Lord. For assuredly a man should take care [68b] not to make himself visible to the destroying angel when he swoops down upon the world, and not to attract his notice, since he is authorised to destroy whosoever comes within his view. This accords with a remark of R. Simeon, that a man possessed of an evil eye carries with him the eye of the destroying angel; hence he is called " destroyer of the world", and people should be on their guard against him and not come near him, so that they should not be injured by him; it is actually forbidden to come near him in the open. If, therefore, it is necessary to beware of a man with an evil eye, how much more should one beware of the angel of death ? An example of a man with an evil eye was Balaam, of whom it is written, "thus saith the man whose eye is closed" [6] (Num. XXIV, 3); this means that he was possessed of an evil eye, and on whatsoever he fixed his gaze he drew thereon the destroying spirit. Knowing this, he sought to fix his gaze on Israel, in order that he might destroy everything upon which his look should fall. Thus it is written, "And Balaam lifted up his eye" (Ibid. 2), indicating that he raised one eye and lowered the other, so that his evil eye should fall upon Israel. Israel, however, were immune; for it is written, "and he saw Israel dwelling tribe by tribe" (Ibid.), that is, he saw the Shekinah hovering over them and kept in position by the twelve tribes beneath, and his eye had no more power over them. "How," he said, "can I prevail against them, seeing that the holy spirit from on high rests on them and shields them with her wings ?" This is indicated in the words, "He couched, he lay down as a lion, who shall rouse him up ?" (Ibid. 9); that is, who shall raise Him from over them so that they shall be exposed to the influence of the evil eye ? In the same manner the Holy One, blessed be He, sought to shield Noah, and to hide him from the evil eye, so that the impure spirit should have no power over him, and do him no harm.'

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AND NOAH WENT IN, as has already been said, to hide himself from all eyes, BECAUSE OF THE WATERS OF THE FLOOD, which were already pressing him hard. Said R. Jose: He saw the angel of death coming, and so he went into hiding for a twelvemonth.' Why for a twelvemonth? On this point R. Isaac and R. Judah differed. One said it was because a twelvemonth is the fixed term of punishment in Gehinnom for the guilty. The other said that it was in order that the righteous Noah might complete his twelve degrees and the other degrees which it was fitting that he should bring with him out of the ark. R. Judah asked: 'Seeing that for six months the wicked (in Gehinnom) are punished by water and another six. months by fire, why did the waters prevail for twelve months?' R. Jose answered: 'The punishments of Gehinnom, water and fire, were here let loose together. Rain descended upon them from above, and at the same time scalding waters, hot as fire, gushed up from below. Their punishment was thus the same as that in Gehinnom, which consists of fire and water, and it continued until they were utterly destroyed. Meanwhile Noah was hidden in the ark, concealed from sight, so that the destroyer could not come near him, while the ark floated on the face of the waters, as we read: AND THEY BORE UP THE ARK, AND IT WAS LIFTED ABOVE THE EARTH. For forty days they suffered punishment, as it is written, AND THE FLOOD WAS FORTY DAYS UPON THE EARTH, and for the rest of the time they were gradually being exterminated, as it is written, AND THEY WERE BLOTTED OUT FROM THE EARTH. Woe to those sinners, since they will not rise from the dead on the day of the last judgement. This is indicated by the expression "and they were blotted out", which contains the same idea as the verse "Thou hast blotted out their name for ever and ever" (Ps. IX, 6).'

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AND THEY BORE UP THE ARK, AND IT WAS LIFTED UP ABOVE THE EARTH. R. Abba connected this text with the verse: Be thou raised above the heavens, O Elohim, thy glory be above all the earth (Ps. LVII, 6). 'Woe,' he said, 'to the sinners who daily provoke their Master, and through their sins repel the Shekinah and cause it to disappear from the world, wherefore the Scripture says: "Be thou raised above the heavens, O Elohim" (the Shekinah being called Elohim). So here, the words, "and they bore up the ark" indicate that they thrust her forth, and the words, "it was lifted up above the earth", that she found no more rest in the world, and so departed altogether from it. And in the absence of the Shekinah there is no one to take thought for the world, with the result that divine justice is exercised upon it with rigour. But when the wicked are blotted out and removed from the world, the Shekinah again takes up her abode therein.' R. Jose put to R. Abba the question: 'Why, after the sinners in the land of Israel were wiped out, did the Shekinah not return to her former habitation?' R. Abba replied: 'It is because the remnant of the righteous did not remain there, for wherever these went the Shekinah descended and made [69a] her habitation with them. We thus see that in a strange land she does not separate from them; how much more would she cling to them had they remained in the Holy Land! All sins of mankind repel the Shekinah, particularly the sin of him who corrupts his way upon the earth. Therefore such a one will not see the face of the Shekinah, and will not gain entrance to the celestial Palace. For when the day comes on which the Holy One, blessed be He, will raise the dead to life, He will physically re-create all those dead who have been buried in strange lands. For if but one bone of them is left in the earth, this will be like the lump of leaven which causes the dough to rise, and on it the Holy One, blessed be He, will build up the whole body. But God will not restore their souls [7] to them save in the land of Israel, as it is written, "Behold I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, I my people, and I will bring you into the land of Israel" (to which they will roll through subterranean passages), and then "I will put my spirit in you and you shall live" (Ezek. XXXVII, 12, 14). We see thus that only in the land of Israel will souls be provided for the resurrected. But those will be excluded who defile themselves and defile the earth, and of them it is written, "and they were blotted out of the earth". The word "earth" we take to mean here "the land of the living" (although some of the ancient sages question this), and the whole expression is analogous to the verse, "let them be blotted out of the book of the living" (Ps. LXIX, 29).' R. Simeon said to him: 'Undoubtedly they will have no portion in the world to come, since the expression "and they were blotted out of the earth" is the exact opposite of the expression "they shall inherit the land for ever" (Is. LX, 21); but they will be called up for judgement, as it is with reference to them that the Scripture says, "and many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence" (Dan. XII, 2).'

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AND HE BLOTTED OUT EVERY (eth-kol) LIVING SUBSTANCE WHICH WAS UPON THE FACE OF THE EARTH. Said R. Abba: 'The particle eth signifies the inclusion of all those higher chieftains who control and superintend the earth: these are "the substance which was upon the face of the earth". For whenever the Holy One, blessed be He, executes judgement on the earth, those higher chieftains are brought to justice first, and only in the next place those who abide beneath the shelter of their wings. This is illustrated in the passage, " the Lord will punish the host of the high heavens on high", and then "and the kings of the earth upon the earth" (Is. XXIV, 21). The punishment of these chieftains is, to be driven through burning fire, as it is written, "for the Lord thy God is a devouring fire, a jealous God" (Deut. IV, 24); that is, fire consuming fire. The "living substance" of the upper regions were thus passed through fire, and those under their control through water; and so, first, HE BLOTTED OUT EVERY LIVING SUBSTANCE WHICH WAS UPON THE FACE OF THE GROUND, and then, BOTH MAN AND CATTLE AND FOWL OF THE HEAVEN, AND THEY WERE BLOTTED OUT FROM THE EARTH -- to wit, all those beneath. AND NOAH ONLY WAS LEFT; the particle ach (only) shows that absolutely nothing was left save what was in the ark'. R. Jose said: 'It indicates that even Noah was not left intact, as he was injured by a blow from a lion, as elsewhere explained.'

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AND GOD REMEMBERED NOAH AND EVERY LIVING THING AND ALL THE CATTLE THAT WERE WITH HIM IN THE ARK. R. Hiya quoted in this connection the verse: A prudent man seeth evil and hideth himself (Prov. XXII, 3). 'This verse,' he said, 'refers to Noah, who went into the ark. and hid himself there, not, however, before the waters forced him in. It has already been said that before he entered the ark he caught sight of the angel of death going among the people and encircling them. As soon- as he espied him, he went into the ark and hid himself there. Thus, "the prudent man saw evil and hid himself", i.e. Noah saw the angel of death and hid himself from him, going into the ark, as the Scripture says, "because of the waters of the flood".' R. Jose said that the reference of the verse is to what has been said above, viz. that when death is raging in the world the prudent man goes into hiding and does not venture abroad, so as not to be seen by the destroying angel, who, once he has obtained leave, will destroy whomsoever he meets at large, and whoever passes before him in the open, as the latter part of the verse expresses it, "but the thoughtless pass on and are punished". According to another interpretation, the word abroo (pass on) means here "transgress", i.e. they transgress the precept of self-preservation and are therefore punished. According to yet another interpretation, while the first half of the verse refers to Noah, the second half refers to his contemporaries. When he had remained a sufficient time under cover, [69b] the Scripture says that GOD REMEMBERED NOAH. Said R. Simeon: 'Observe that all the time that judgement was being executed there was no remembering. but only after the chastisement had been completed and the wicked had been exterminated do we find mention of remembering. For as long as judgement hangs over the world. there is no communion of man with God, and the destroying angel is rampant. But as soon as judgement has run its course and wrath has been allayed, everything returns to its previous state. Hence we read "and God remembered Noah", remembrance being centred in him since he was entitled "righteous".'

It is written: [8] Thou rulest the proud swelling of the sea, when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them (Ps. LXXXIX, 10). When the stormy waves of the sea mount on high, and beneath them yawn the chasms of the deep, the Holy One, blessed be He, sends down a thread from the "right side" which in some mysterious way restrains the mounting waves and calms the rage of the sea. How is it that when Jonah was cast into the sea, and had been swallowed by a fish, his soul did not at once leave his body? The reason is that the Holy One, blessed be He, has dominion over the swelling of the sea, which is a certain thread from the "left" that causes the sea to heave, and rises with it. And if not for the thread of the "right side" it would never be removed, for as soon as this thread descends into the sea, and is fairly grasped by it, then the waves of the sea are stirred up, and begin to roar for prey, until the Holy One, blessed be He, thrusts them back to their own place, as it says ,"when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them". (According to another interpretation, the term teshabhem (thou stillest them), is related to the word shabah (praise), and signifies here, "thou praisest them", because they mount to the top in their eagerness to see the outer world. The lesson to be learnt from this is that he who manifests an eagerness to examine things and to acquire new knowledge, although he lacks talent, merits praise and receives praise from all around him.) R. Judah said: 'While Noah was in the Ark, he was apprehensive lest God should never more remember him. He was, however, wrong, for after judgement had been executed, and the wicked had perished from the world, the Scripture tells us that GOD REMEMBERED NOAH.' Said R. Eleazar: 'When the world is being called to account, it is not advisable that a man should have his name mentioned on high, for the mention of his name will be a reminder of his sins, and will cause him to be brought under scrutiny. This we learn from the words of the Shunammitess. It was on New Year's day, when God sits in judgement on the world, that Elisha asked her, "Wouldst thou be spoken for to the king ?" (II Kings IV, 13), i.e. to the Holy One, blessed be He, for on that day He is, in a special sense, King, Holy King, King of Judgement. She answered, "I dwell among my own people" (Ibid.), as much as to say, "I do not wish to be remembered and to have attention drawn to me, save among my own people." He who keeps himself in the midst of his own people does not draw attention upon himself, and so escapes criticism. In the same way, as long as the heavenly wrath was raging in the world. Noah was not remembered; but as soon as judgement had been executed, then, as we read, "God remembered Noah".'

R. Hizkiah was going from Cappadocia to Lud, when R. Yesa met him. Said the latter to him, 'I am surprised at your walking all alone, seeing that we have been taught that no man should proceed on a journey unaccompanied.' R. Hizkiah replied, 'There is a youth accompanying me, and he IS following on.' Said R. Yesa, 'I am still more surprised to find that you have for a companion one with whom you could not discuss points of the Torah, since we have been taught that he who makes a journey unaccompanied by discussions on the Torah exposes himself to danger.' R. Hizkiah replied, 'It is certainly so.' Meanwhile the youth came up with them. Said R. Yesa to him, 'My son, where do you come from?' The lad answered, 'From the town of Lud, and when I heard that this learned man was proceeding thither, I offered him my service and company.' 'My son,' said R. Yesa, 'do you know any Torah-exposition?' 'I do,' was the reply, 'as my father used to teach me the section of the sacrifices, and I also used to listen attentively to the expositions he gave to my elder brother.' At the invitation of R. Yesa, he then commenced to discourse as follows.

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AND NOAH BUILDED AN ALTAR UNTO THE LORD; AND TOOK OF EVERY CLEAN BEAST, AND OF EVERY CLEAN FOWL, AND OFFERED BURNT OFFERINGS ON THE ALTAR. The altar that Noah made was the very same on which Adam, the first man, offered up sacrifice. Why did Noah bring burnt offerings, [70a] seeing that a burnt offering is brought only to counteract wrongful thoughts? Was, then, Noah guilty of such? In truth, Noah did harbour wrongful thoughts, since he said to himself, "Behold, the Holy One. blessed be He, has decreed the destruction of the world, and who knows but that through my being saved I have used up all the merit which I had accumulated?" He therefore hastened to build an altar unto the Lord. The altar was the very same on which Adam, the first man, offered up sacrifice, but as the wicked had wrenched it from its place, Noah had to rebuild it. AND OFFERED BURNT OFFERINGS. It is written olath (burnt offering) defectively, which would indicate only one. This is explained by reference to the verse, "it is a burnt offering, a fire offering for sweet savour to the Lord" (Lev. I, 17). A burnt offering has to be male, not female, as it says: "he shall offer it a male, without blemish" (Lev. I, 3). The word "fire offering" (isheh) seems to be superfluous, as we know there was fire on the altar. We should therefore read ishah (lit. woman), and we learn from this that the female element must not be parted from the male, which is offered through it, so that the two are united. It was right for Noah to bring a burnt offering, since God had set him in the place of a male in relation to the ark. "The burnt offering is isheh", to wit, esh he (fire of he), indicating that the Left is joined with the Female (since the female is from the left and the male from the right) through the clinging of one to the other. Hence the female is called isheh, indicating the bond of love in which the Left is joined to her, so as to mount with her on high and be united with her there. Hence the words "a burnt offering, a fire offering", indicate the bond of the male and female.

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'AND THE LORD SMELLED THE SAVOUR OF APPEASEMENT. It is also written "a fire offering, a savour of appeasement" (Lev. I, 13). With reference to the term "fire offering" we have heard the following. Fire and smoke are joined together, there being no smoke without fire, as it is written: "Now Mount Sinai was altogether on smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire" (Ex. XIX,18). It is in this way. Fire, being very tenuous, issues from an inmost part, and then takes hold of some substance outside which is less tenuous, and by the junction of the two smoke is engendered: the reason being that fire has taken hold of something catching. An example is the warm breath that issues from the nostrils. Hence it is written, "They shall put incense in thy nose" (Deut. XXXIII, 10), i.e. they shall act so as to cause the fire to recede to its place, since through the smell of the incense the nose contracts inwardly, till the whole odour is drawn in and brought near to the thought, producing a pleasing sensation. Hence there results "a savour of appeasement", when the anger is appeased and calm is restored, since the smoke has been gathered in and condensed in the fire, and the fire has seized the smoke and both have been drawn further and further back until the anger is assuaged and a reunion is formed, called "appeasement": an appeasement of the spirit, a universal rejoicing, a radiance of lamps, a brightening of faces, and thus, AND THE LORD SMELT THE SAVOUR OF APPEASEMENT as one who smells and draws in the savour to the innermost spot.'

R. Yesa then approached the lad and kissed him, saying, 'To think that all these precious goods were in thy possession and I was unaware of it.' He further said, 'I will go out of my way to remain in thy company.' Whilst they proceeded R. Hizkiah said, 'On this road we are accompanied by the Shekinah. Let us, then, go forward confidently, since no harm can befall us on the way.' He then took hold of the lad's hand and they went along. They then said to him, 'Repeat to us one of those Scriptural expositions you have heard from your father.' The lad then began a discourse on the text: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth (S. S. I, 2). 'This,' he said, 'is a more burning desire, in which affection issues from the mouth with a fire unlike that which issues from the nostrils. For when mouth is joined with mouth to kiss, fire issues from the strength of affection, accompanied by radiance of the countenance, by rejoicing on both sides and by gladsome union. "For thy love is better than wine" (Ibid.), to wit, than that wine which exhilarates and brightens the countenance, which makes the eyes sparkle and induces good feeling; not the wine that intoxicates, induces rage, beclouds the countenance, and inflames the eyes, the wine of rage. It is because this wine is exhilarating and cheering and induces love and affection that a libation of it is offered every day on the altar, of just such a quantity [70b] as would induce in him who drinks it a cheerful mood and a spirit of contentment, as it is written, "And the drink offering thereof shall be a fourth part of a hin" (Num. XXVIII, 7). "For thy love is better than wine" alludes thus to the wine that induces love and desire. And as here below, so is love awakened on high. For there are two lamps, and when the light of the one on high is extinguished, by the smoke that rises from the one below it is relit.' Said R. Hizkiah: 'Assuredly it is so, the lower and the upper world are interdependent; and since the destruction of the Temple there are no blessings, either on high or below, which proves their interdependence.' R. Jose said: 'Not only are there no blessings, but there are everywhere curses, as the supply of sustenance is now drawn from the "sinister side". Why so? Because Israel do not dwell now in the land, and thus do not perform the holy service which is required for lighting the (celestial) lamps and so obtaining blessings. Hence they are to be found neither on high nor here below, and the world is out of gear.' I WILL NOT AGAIN CURSE THE GROUND ANY MORE FOR MAN'S SAKE. R. Hizkiah asked, 'What does this verse mean ?' R. Yesa replied: 'I have heard from R. Simeon the following. So long as the supernal fire is gathering force, the smoke, which is the execution of judgement here below, rages more and more fiercely and is more and more destructive; for once the fire starts, there is no keeping it back until the judgement has been fully executed. But when punishment below is not intensified by punishment from above, it bums itself out without bringing the world to ruin. Hence it is written, lo osif (I will not add) as much as to say, "I will not lend any additional force and volume to the punishment below".'

Said the young lad, 'I have heard that the expression "for man's sake" alludes to the utterance, "cursed is the ground for thy sake" (Gen. III, 17). For at the time when the earth was cursed for the sin of Adam, full dominion over her was granted to that evil serpent, the destroyer and exterminator of the world and its inhabitants. From the day, however, that Noah offered up sacrifices, and the Holy One, blessed be He, smelt their sweet savour, the earth was liberated from the dominion of the serpent and threw off his defilement. It is for this same reason that Israel bring offerings, so as to keep bright the countenance of the earth.' Said R. Hizkiah, 'This is correct, but nevertheless this liberation remained in suspense until Israel stood at Mount Sinai.' R. Yesa said: 'The Holy One, blessed be He, had already diminished the moon and allowed the serpent to obtain sway, but on account of the sin of Adam she was actually cursed in order that the whole world might be cursed. But on that day the earth was freed of that curse, whilst the moon remained in her diminished state, save during the time when offerings are brought and Israel dwell in their own land.' R. Yesa asked the child, 'What is your name ?' He replied, 'Abba'. He said to him, 'Abba (= father, chief) you shall be in everything, in wisdom and in years.' He further applied to him the verse. "Thy father and thy mother will be glad, and she that bore thee will rejoice" (Prov. XXIII, 25). R. Hizkiah said: 'The Holy One, blessed be He, will one day sweep away the unclean spirit, as it is written, "And the unclean spirit I will cause to pass out of the land" (Zech. XIII, 2), and further, "He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people will he take away from off all the earth, for the Lord hath spoken it" (Is. XXV, 8). The Holy One, blessed be He, will also one day restore the moon to its full light, and dissipate the darkness brought on her by the evil serpent, as it is written, "And the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of the seven days" (Ibid. XXX, 26), the reference here being to the primordial light which the Holy One, blessed be He, stored away during the period of the creation.'

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AND GOD (Elohim) BLESSED NOAH AND HIS SONS, AND SAID UNTO THEM: BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY, ETC. R. Abba began his discourse with the text: The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and no pain shall be added thereto (Prov. X, 22). '"The blessing of the Lord" is bound up with the Shekinah, as she is in charge of the blessings of the world, and from her flow blessings for all. Observe that at first (Gen. VII, I) it was written, AND YHVH SAID TO NOAH, COME THOU AND ALL THY HOUSE INTO THE ARK, which conforms with what was said before, that the master of the house gave him permission to enter; whereas afterwards it was the wife who speeded him out of the ark, as it is written, AND ELOHIM (= Shekinah) SPOKE UNTO NOAH, SAYING: Go FORTH FROM THE ARK. From here we learn that it is the master [71a] of the house that takes in the guest and it is the wife that speeds him forth, but that she may not herself bid him enter. We learn further from here that it is proper for the guest on departing to leave presents for the mistress of the house, as she is always in the house and supervises it. It is fitting to give her those presents, not in her own hand directly, but through the agency of her husband, so as to enhance their mutual affection. This we deduce from the text: AND HE TOOK OF EVERY CLEAN BEAST AND HE OFFERED BURNT OFFERINGS ON THE ALTAR. These were the presents for her which he gave, as it were, into the hands of the husband in order to enhance his love for his consort. Noah then received a blessing, as it is written, "And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, etc." All this is illustrated by the text, "The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich." As for the words "and no pain shall be added thereto", these allude to the pain mentioned in the passage "in pain shalt thou eat of it" (Gen. III, 17), that is, in pain and perturbation, with sad and gloomy looks, since the moon was darkened, and so blessings were no more. Again "in pain" refers to the side of the impure spirit who kept back blessings from the world. But now "No pain will be added thereto"; the word "add" (yosif) here shows the inner meaning of the words, "I will not again (osif, lit. add) curse the earth any more."

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AND THE FEAR OF YOU AND THE DREAD OF YOU SHALL BE UPON EVERY BEAST OF THE EARTH: as much as to say, "Henceforward you will assume the facial impress of man"; for up to that time their facial impress was not that of human beings. For at first: "in the image of God created he him" (Gen. I, 27), also "in the likeness of God made he him" (Ibid. V, I); but when they sinned, their facial impress was changed from the supernal prototype, and through this transformation they became afraid of the beasts of the field. Whereas formerly all the creatures of the world, when looking up towards man, encountered the supernal sacred impress and thus were filled with fear and trembling, now after they sinned their appearances were transformed, and it was men who feared and dreaded the rest of the animal world. Thus it is that all who are mindful of their Master, who keep themselves from sin and do not transgress the precepts of the Torah, retain their visage unaltered from the supernal prototype, and hence all the creatures of the world fear them and tremble before them. But when men transgress the precepts of the Torah, their visages change, and they fear the other creatures and tremble before them; the beasts of the field obtain dominion over men because they do not see any more in them the true supernal image. Hence, now that the world was reinstated in its former position, He bestowed on them His blessing and granted them dominion over all the creatures, as we read: AND UPON ALL THE FISHES OF THE SEA: INTO YOUR HAND ARE THEY DELIVERED; that is, all. even to the fishes of the sea.' R. Hiya said: ' It is written "into your hand were they delivered" (nithanu), i.e. originally, for when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world, He delivered all in man's hand, as it is written, "and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, etc." (Gen. I, 28).' In reference to the words "And God blessed Noah", R. Hizkiah discoursed on the text: Of David, Maskil. Happy is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (Ps. XXXII, I). He said: 'This verse contains deep mysteries of wisdom. For we have been taught that David, in offering praise to the Holy One, blessed be He. made use of ten varieties of praise, one of which was Maskil. which is one of the ten grades (of illumination), and the word here implies that David qualified himself to attain that grade. The verse proceeds: "Happy is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." The words nesui pesha mean literally "whose transgression is uplifted". That is to say, when the Holy One, blessed be He, weighs the sins and the merits of men in the balance, happy then is he whose sins rise and mount in the one scale whilst his merits sink down in the other. "Whose sin is covered": i.e. when the world is being chastised, that man will be concealed so that the destroyer will have no power over him, in the same way that Noah was concealed by the Holy One, blessed be He, so that he escaped the consequences that Adam's sin drew upon the world. For that sin transferred dominion from man to the other creatures, making him fear them, and thus reversing the true order of things. Therefore when Noah went forth from the ark, the Holy One, blessed be He, blessed him, as it is written, "And God blessed Noah and his sons, etc."

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AND YOU, BE YE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY. The women do not seem to have been included in this blessing, as it was only addressed to Noah and his sons. R. Simeon, however, said that the term ve-athem (and you) includes both male [71b] and female. And further, the particle eth preceding "his sons" signifies the inclusion of their spouses. It is because the women were included that God said: "Do you be fruitful and multiply", to propagate your kind. On this occasion the Holy One, blessed be He, gave them seven precepts of the Torah-to them and to all their successors, until Israel stood at Mount Sinai, when they received all the precepts of the Torah in one code.'

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AND GOD SAID TO NOAH ... THIS IS THE TOKEN OF THE COVENANT WHICH I MAKE BETWEEN ME AND YOU ... I HAVE SET MY RAINBOW IN THE CLOUD. The past tense "I have set" shows that the bow had already been there. In connection with this passage R. Simeon discoursed on the verse: And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone (Ezek. I, 26). 'Before this verse,' he said, 'we find the words, "And when they went I heard the noise of their wings like the noise of great waters, like the voice of the Almighty" (Ibid. 24). These are the four sacred and mighty beings called Hayyoth (animals), by whom the firmament is upheld, and whose wings are usually joined together to cover their bodies. When, however, they spread out their wings, a volume of sound swells forth, and they break out into songs of praise, "as the voice of the Almighty". which never becomes silent. as it is written. "so that my glory may sing praise to thee. and not be silent" (Ps. XXX. 13). The tenour of their praises is. "The Lord hath made known his salvation. his righteousness hath he revealed in the sight of the nations" (Ps. XCVIII, 2). It says further: "A noise of tumult like the noise of a host" (Ezek. I. 2.4). i.e. like the sound of the holy camps when all the supernal armies assemble on high. What is it they declaim? "Holy. holy. holy. is the Lord of Hosts. the whole earth is full of his glory" (Is. VI. 3). They turn to the south and say "holy". they turn to the north and say "holy". they turn to the east and say "holy". they turn to the west and say "blessed". And that firmament rests upon their heads. and in whatever direction it turns. their faces turn also. They turn their faces to the four cardinal points. and all revolve in a circle. The firmament is imprinted. at the four comers of a square. with four figures. of a lion. an eagle. an ox. and a man; and the face of a man is traced in all of them. so that the face of Lion is of Man. the face of Eagle is of Man. and the face of Ox is of Man, all being comprehended in him. Hence it is written: "As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man" (Ezek. I, 10). Further. the firmament with its enclosed square contains the gamut of all the colours. Outstanding are four colours, each engraved with four translucent signs. both higher and lower. These when decomposed become twelve. They are green. red. white. and sapphire. which is made up of all these colours. Hence it is written. "As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain. so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord" (Ibid. I, 28): containing, that is to say, all shades of all colours. The same is referred to in the text I HAVE SET MY BOW IN THE CLOUD. The "bow" here has a parallel in the text. "But his bow abode firm" (Gen. XLIX. 24). i.e. the covenant of Joseph, because he was a righteous man. had for its symbol the bow, since the bow is linked with the covenant. and the covenant and the righteous are integral in one another. And because Noah was righteous, the sign of his covenant was the bow. (The word vayophozu, mentioned in connection with Joseph, is akin to the term paz (fine gold) in the passage, "More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold" (Ps. XIX, 11), and it means that his arms shone with the lustre of the most desirable substance, they shone with the light supernal, since he had observed the covenant; hence he is named "Joseph the righteous".) And the rainbow is therefore called "covenant" because they embrace one another. Like the firmament it is a supernal resplendent glory, a sight of all sights, resembling the hidden one (the Shekinah), containing colours undisclosed and unrevealable. Hence it is not permitted to gaze at the rainbow when it appears in the heavens, as that would be disrespectful to the Shekinah, the hues of the rainbow here below being a replica of the vision of the supernal splendour, which is not for man's gaze. Hence when the earth saw the rainbow as a holy covenant, it was once more firmly established, and therefore God said, AND IT SHALL BE FOR A TOKEN OF A COVENANT BETWEEN GOD, ETC. The three primary colours and the one compounded of them, which we mentioned before, are all one symbol, and they all show themselves in the cloud. "And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone" (Ezek. I, 26). This alludes to the "foundation stone" (eben shethiah), which is the central point of the universe and on which stands the Holy of Holies. "The likeness of a throne", i.e. the supernal holy throne, possessing four supports, and which is symbolic of the Oral Law. "And upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above" (Ibid.); this symbolises the Written Law. From here we learn that copies of the Written Law should rest [72a] on copies of the Oral Law (and not vice versa), because the latter is the throne to the former. "As the appearance of a man" refers to the image of Jacob, who sits on it.'

R. Judah one night, whilst staying at an inn in Matha-Mehasia, rose at midnight to study the Torah. At the time there happened to be there a certain Judean traveller who had with him two sacks of clothes. R. Judah began to expound the verse, "And this stone which I have set up for a pillar shall be God's house" (Gen. XXVIII, 22). 'That stone', he said, 'was the foundation stone out of which the world evolved, and on which the Temple was built.' The Judean raised his head and said, 'How is this possible? This foundation stone was created before the world, to be the point from which the world evolved, and yet you say that it is referred to in the verse, "and this stone which I have set up for a pillar" , which indicates that Jacob put it there, this being the same stone of which it is said, "and he took the stone that he had put under his head" (Ibid. 18). A further difficulty is that Jacob was in Bethel, whereas the foundation stone is in Jerusalem.' R. Judah, without turning his head, recited the verse, "Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel" (Amos IV, 12), and also "Be attentive and hearken, O Israel" (Deut. XXVII, 9). 'We learn from here, he said, 'that the study of the Torah must be approached with proper preparation, not only of the mind but also of the body.' The Judean then arose and put on his garments, and seating himself beside R. Judah, said, 'Happy are ye righteous who give yourselves up to the study of the Torah day and night.' Said R. Judah to him, 'Now that you have properly attired yourself, say what you have to say, so that we may join together, as the study of the Torah requires a seemly garb as well as an attentive mind. Otherwise I could just as well lie in my bed and meditate. But we have been taught that even a single person who sits and studies the Torah has for his companion the Shekinah; and how could the Shekinah be here whilst I am in bed? Furthermore, the words of the Torah must be clearly articulated. Moreover, when a man gets up to study at midnight, at the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, comes to disport Himself with the righteous in the Garden of Eden, He and all the righteous in the Garden are listening to the words that issue from his mouth. Since that is so, that the Holy One, blessed be He, and all the righteous feel delight in listening to the words of the Torah at this time, should I remain lying in bed?' He then said to him, 'Now say what you have to say.'

The Judean then said, 'Regarding your remark that Jacob's stone was the foundation stone, I have asked you, first, how can that be, seeing that the foundation stone preceded the creation of the world, and was the one from which the world evolved, whereas Jacob's stone was put by him in its place, as it is written, "and the stone which I have put", also, "And he took the stone that he had put under his head." And secondly, how can the two be identified, seeing that Jacob was in Bethel and that the stone was in Jerusalem?'

R. Judah answered, 'The whole land of Israel was folded up beneath him, so that that stone was underneath him.' The Judean repeated his question, quoting again the expressions 'that he put' -- 'the stone which I had put'. Said R. Judah to him, 'If you know a better answer, say it: The Judean then discoursed as follows.

'It is written, As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness (Ps. XVII, 15). King David felt great affection and attachment for this stone: it was of it that he said, "The stone which the builders rejected is become the comer stone" (Ibid. CXVIII, 22). And whenever he desired to gaze at the reflection of the glory of his Master, he first took that stone in his hand and then he entered, as whoever wishes to appear before his Master can only do so through that stone, as it is written, "Herewith shall Aaron come into the holy place" (Lev. XVI, 3). It was David's boast that "As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness", and he exerted himself in every way to appear before Him on high in proper guise by means of that stone. Now, Abraham instituted morning prayer and taught the world the character of his Master, and made that hour a propitious one for prayer. Isaac instituted afternoon prayer (minhah) and taught the world that there is a supreme Judge who can either pardon or condemn the world. Jacob instituted evening prayer. And it was in reference to this prayer, which he instituted for the first time as a proper method of propitiation, that he said in his own praise, [72b] "And this stone which I had put for a pillar", as up to that time no one had erected one like it. This is implied in the expression, "and he put it as a matsebah" (erection, upstanding), implying that he set up again something which had been prostrate. He also "poured oil on its head", thus doing more than anyone else to restore it:

R. Judah thereupon embraced the Judean, saying, 'You have all this knowledge, and yet you occupy yourself with commerce and neglect that which gives life eternal!' He answered, 'Times are pressing, and I have two sons at school, and I have to work to provide their food and payment for their tuition, so that they may continue diligently to study the Torah.' He then resumed his discourse, taking the text: "And Solomon sat upon the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was established firmly" (I Kings II, 12). He said: 'What great achievement, it may be asked, is here ascribed to Solomon ? The truth is that he prepared the foundation stone and set over it the Holy of Holies, and for this his kingdom was established firmly.'

The stranger further said: 'It is written: "And I will look upon it (the rainbow) that I may remember the everlasting covenant." This means that God's desire is constantly for the bow, and that he who is not visible therein will not enter into the presence of his Master. The inner meaning of the words, "And I will look upon it", is to be found in the words, "and set a mark upon the foreheads, etc." (Ezek. IX, 4), so as to be clearly visible.' (According to others, the mark was symbolic of the holy mark in the flesh.) R. Judah said, 'This is assuredly so, but the rainbow that appears in the sky has a profound mystic significance, and when Israel will go forth from exile that rainbow is destined to be decked out in all the finery of its colours, like a bride who adorns herself for her husband.' The Judean said to him, 'This is what my father said to me when he was on the point of departing this world: "Do not expect the coming of the Messiah until the rainbow will appear decked out in resplendent colours which will illumine the world. Only then expect the Messiah." We learn this from the words, "And I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant" (Gen. IX, 16). That is, at present the bow appears in dull colours, since it is only designed as a reminder that there shall be no return of the Flood; but at that time it will appear in its full panoply of colours as a bride does for her husband, and that will be "to remember the everlasting covenant". The Holy One, blessed be He, will remember the covenant which is in exile and He will raise her from the dust, as it is written, "and they will seek the Lord their God and David their king" (Hos. III, 4); also, "But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise unto them" (Jer. XXX, 9), i.e. raise from the dust, in accordance with the text: "I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen" (Amos IX, 11). The "everlasting covenant" will thus be remembered to be raised from the dust. My father also said that it is for that reason that in Scripture the redemption of Israel and the remembrance of the rainbow are mentioned together, as it is written: "For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee" (Is. LIV, 9).'

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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:49 pm

Part 4 of 4

AND THE SONS OF NOAH THAT WENT FORTH FROM THE ARK WERE SHEM, AND HAM, AND JAPHETH. R. Eleazar asked why the Scripture inserts the words "who went forth from the ark". Did, then, Noah have other sons who did not go forth from the ark? R. Abba said : "Yes: the children whom his sons bore afterwards; and the Scripture points out that these did not go forth from the ark.' R. Simeon said: 'Had I been alive when the Holy One, blessed be He, gave mankind the book of Enoch and the book of Adam, I would have endeavoured to prevent their dissemination, because not all wise men read them with proper attention, and thus extract from them perverted ideas, such as lead men astray from the Most High to the worship of strange powers. Now, however, the wise who understand these things keep them secret, and thereby fortify themselves in the service of their Master.' [73a] Of the three sons of Noah that went forth from the ark, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, Shem is symbolic of the right side, Ham of the left side, whilst Japheth represents the "purple", which is a mixture of the two. AND HAM WAS THE FATHER OF CANAAN. Ham represents the refuse and dross of the gold, the stirring and rousing of the unclean spirit of the ancient serpent. It is for that reason that he is designated the "father of Canaan", namely, of Canaan who brought curses on the world, of Canaan who was cursed, of Canaan who darkened the faces of mankind. For this reason, too, Ham is given a special mention in the words, "Ham, the father of Canaan", that is, the notorious world-darkener, whereas we are not told that Shem was the father of such-a-one, or that Japheth was the father of such-a-one. No sooner is Ham mentioned, than he is pointed to as the father of Canaan. Hence when Abraham came on the scene, it is written, "And Abraham passed through the land" (Gen. XII, 6), for this was before the establishment of the patriarchs and before the seed of Israel existed in the world, so that the land could not yet be designated by this honoured and holy name. Observe that when Israel were virtuous the land was called by their name, the Land of Israel; but when they were not worthy it was called by another name, to wit, the Land of Canaan. Hence it is written: AND HE SAID, CURSED BE CANAAN, A SERVANT OF SERVANTS SHALL HE BE UNTO HIS BRETHREN, for the reason that he brought curses on the world, in the same way as the serpent, against whom was pronounced the doom, "Cursed art thou among all cattle" (Gen. III, 14).

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THESE THREE WERE THE SONS OF NOAH. By these was established the whole world, and also the higher symbolism. AND OF THESE WAS THE WHOLE EARTH OVERSPREAD. Herein is a mystical allusion to the three supernal colours. For when that river that flows perennially watered the Garden by the power of those three supernal influences, there spread forth those terrestrial colours here below, each combined with the others, which show that the glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, extends through all the heights and the depths, and that He is one above and below. R. Eleazar said: 'These three colours are themselves displayed in all those who issue from the side of holiness, and their reflection falls upon all those who issue from the side of the other spirit. And if you ponder the mystery of grades, you will find how the colours radiate to all sides until they enter the lower sphere through those twenty-seven mystic channels which are the sides of the doors that stop up the abyss. All this is known to the adepts in mystic lore. Happy the portion of the righteous whom the Holy One delights to honour and to whom He reveals the sublime mysteries of wisdom. Of them it is written: "The counsel of the Lord is with them that fear Him" (Ps. XXV, 14.).' R. Eleazar here quoted the verse: "O Lord, thou art my God, I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name, for thou hast done wonderful things, even counsels of old, in faithfulness and truth" (Is. XXV, I). 'How greatly', he said, 'it behoves men to reflect on the glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, and to offer up songs of praise to His glory, for when one knows how to offer praise to his Master in the manner appropriate, the Holy One, blessed be He, accomplishes his will. Such a man, furthermore, causes an increase of blessings on high and below. He, therefore, who knows how to offer praise to his Master and to proclaim His unity is held in affection on high and is beloved below; the Holy One, blessed be He, is proud of him, and of him it is written: "And he said unto me, thou art my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified" (Is. XLIX, 3).'

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AND NOAH THE HUSBANDMAN BEGAN AND PLANTED A VINEYARD. R. Judah and R. Jose differed as to the origin of this vine. One said that it came from the Garden of Eden and Noah now planted it here. The other said that it had been on the earth before the Flood and Noah had plucked it and now replanted it. On the same day it blossomed, ripened, and brought forth grapes. Noah then pressed out from them wine, drank of it and became drunken. R. Simeon said: 'There is a mystical allusion in this verse. When Noah began to probe into the sin of Adam, not for purpose of practising it but in order to understand it, and so warn the world against it, he pressed grapes in order to make researches into that vineyard. But when he reached that point he was "drunken and uncovered" -- he lost his (mental) balance and uncovered the breach of the world which hitherto had been closed up. WITHIN HIS TENT. It is written oholoh (lit. her tent), an allusion to the idea contained in the passage, "And come not [73b] nigh the door of her house" (Prov. V, 8), "her tent" implying the tent of that vineyard. The same explanation applies to the case of the sons of Aaron, who, we have been taught, were drunk from wine (when they sinned). Who then, gave them wine at that place to drink? And is it conceivable that they would dare to get drunk at such a time? But in reality the wine which made them drunk was this same wine of Noah, as it is written, "and they offered strange fire before the Lord" (Lev. X, I), an analogous term to which is found in the passage, "That they may keep thee from the strange woman" (Prov. VII, 5): all these terms allude to one and the same thing. The same sense, then, underlies the verse, "And he drank of the wine and was drunken, and he was uncovered within his tent." This, as explained, was observed by Ham, the father of Canaan, and Canaan seized the opportunity to work his will by removing from that righteous man the mystical symbol of the covenant; for this, according to tradition, is what he did. Therefore Noah said, CURSED BE CANAAN, since through him the curse returned to the world. A SLAVE OF SLAVES HE SHALL BE: these words correspond to those addressed to the serpent: "cursed art thou from all cattle, etc." (Gen. III, 14). Hence, while all others will be saved in the world to come, he will not be saved; all others will obtain their freedom, but not he. This is a mystery known to the adepts in the ways and paths of the Torah.'

R. Simeon further discoursed, beginning with the verse: For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me (Ps. LI, 5). He said: 'How much must a man be on his guard against sinning before the Holy One, blessed be He, for each sin committed by man is recorded on high, and is not blotted out save by much repentance, as it is said, "For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me" (Jer. II, 22). For when a man commits a sin once before God, it leaves a mark, and when he repeats the same sin that mark is deepened, and after a third time it becomes a stain spreading from one side to the other, as expressed in the words, "thine iniquity is become a stain before me" (Ibid.). When David committed his great sin in taking Bath-Sheba, he thought that it would leave its mark forever, but the message came to him, "The Lord also hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die" (II Sam. XII, 13); i.e. the stain has been removed.' R. Abba put this question to R. Simeon: 'Since we have been taught that Bath-Sheba was destined for King David from the day of the creation, how comes it that the Holy One, blessed be He, first gave her to Uriah the Hittite?' R. Simeon replied: 'Such is the way of the Holy One, blessed be He; although a woman is destined for a certain man, He first allows her to be the wife of another man until his time arrives. As soon as that time arrives, he departs from the world to make way for the other, although the Holy One, blessed be He, is loth to remove him from the world to make way for the other man before his time arrives. This is the inner reason why Bath-Sheba was given to Uriah first. Now reflect and you will find the reason for the Holy Land having been given to Canaan before Israel carne there. You will find that the inner reason underlying the two is the same. Observe, further, that David, although he confessed his sin and repented, could not obliterate from his heart and mind the memory of the sins that he had committed, especially of that concerning Bath-Sheba, and was always apprehensive lest one of them would prove a stumbling-block to him in the hour of danger. Hence he never removed them from his thoughts. According to another interpretation, the words "For I know my transgressions" indicate his knowledge of the diverse grades to which the various sins of men are to be referred, while the words "and my sin" (hatathi = my failing) refer to the defect of the moon, which did not emerge from her impurity until the time of Solomon, when her light once more became whole, so that the world became firmly established and Israel dwelt secure, as it is written: "And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree" (I Kings V, 5). Nevertheless, as David said, "My deficiency is ever before me", and that will not be obliterated from the world until the Messiah will come, as it is said: "And the unclean spirit I will cause to pass out from the earth" (Zech. XIII, 2).'

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HE WAS A MIGHTY HUNTER BEFORE THE LORD; WHEREFORE IT IS SAID: LIKE NIMROD A MIGHTY HUNTER BEFORE THE LORD. Truly he was a man of might, because he was clad in the garments of Adam, and was able by means of them to lay snares for mankind and beguile them. R. Eleazar said: 'Nimrod used to entice people into idolatrous worship by means of those garments, which enabled him to conquer the world and proclaim himself its ruler, so that mankind offered him worship. He was called "Nimrod", for the reason that he rebelled (marad = rebel) against the most high King above, against the higher angels and against the lower angels.' [74a] R. Simeon said: 'Our colleagues are acquainted with a profound mystery concerning these garments.'

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AND THE WHOLE EARTH WAS OF ONE LANGUAGE AND OF ONE SPEECH. R. Simeon began his discourse with the verse: And the house in its being built, was built of stone made ready at the quarry; and there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house in its being built (I Kings VI, 7). He said: The phrase "in its being built" (behibbonotho) implies self-building, as though without the hands of artisans. Were not, then, Solomon with all his workpeople engaged in the work of building? It was here as with the candlestick, in regard to which we read, "And thou shalt make ... of beaten work will the candlestick be made" (Ex. XXV, 31). If the candlestick was to be made of itself, why say "thou shalt make it"? In reality it was made of itself, by a miracle. So soon as the artisans set their hands to the work, it showed them how to proceed in a manner quite novel to them, the reason being that the blessing of the Almighty rested on their hands; and similarly here, in the building of the Sanctuary. It was built of its own accord, though seemingly by the hands of the labourers; it showed the workers a design which guided their hands and· from which they did not turn their eyes until the whole building of the house was completed. Further it says: "Of stone made ready at the quarry" (I Kings VI, 7). The word sh'lemah (made ready, complete) is written defectively, as though sh'lomoh (Solomon), for truly it was of Solomon; while massa (lit. transporting) implies that the hands of the workers were moved involuntarily, so that they did they knew not what. "And there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house in its being built" (Ibid.), because the shamir (stone-cutting insect) performed all the splitting without any sound being heard. No cutting-tools were thus required, the whole work being accomplished by a miracle.' Said R. Simeon, 'How precious are the words of the Torah! Happy is the portion of him who occupies himself with them and knows how to follow the path of truth! The Scripture says, "And the house in its being built." When the Holy One, blessed be He, wills that His glory should be glorified, there issues from His thought a determination that it should spread forth; whereupon it spreads from the undiscoverable region of thought until it rests in garon (throat), a spot through which perennially flows the mystic force of the "spirit of life". When the thought, after its expansion, comes to rest in that place, it is called Elohim hayyim (living God). It then seeks to spread and disclose itself still further, and there issue from that spot fire, air, and water, all compounded together. There also emerges "Jacob, the perfect man", symbolic of a certain voice that issues and becomes audible. Thus the thought that was hitherto undisclosed and withdrawn in itself is now revealed through sound. In the further extension and disclosure of the thought, the voice strikes against the lips, and thus comes forth speech which is the culmination of the whole and in which the thought is completely disclosed. It is thus clear that all is composed of that undisclosed thought which was withdrawn into itself, and that the whole is one essence. When the expansion has reached that stage, and speech has been generated by the force of that voice, then "the house in its being built", i.e. throughout the whole process of its construction, "is of complete stones", as has been explained. The word "transported" means that the thought issues from within and commences to transport itself outside; it issues from above and commences to transport itself below. "And there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron": this alludes to the lower grades, which all depend upon the Thought, and which are not heard or admitted inside when the Thought ascends on high to draw fresh sustenance. When she does so, all of them rejoice and draw sustenance and are filled with blessings. At that time all worlds are sustained as one unity without any division whatever. After they have taken their several portions they all disperse, each to its side and to its assigned function. [74b] Hence it says: "And the whole earth was of one language", and afterwards, "and it came to pass as they journeyed miquedem" (lit. from before), i.e. from that which is the starting-point of the world, "that they found a valley in the land of Shin'ar", for from there they spread out in all directions, and that spot is the starting-point of differentiation. It may be objected that differentiation started later, as we read, "a river went forth from Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted". The truth is that when they move from the first spot there is separation, and when they gather together to draw sustenance there is no separation, and when they journey again there is separation. Hence it is written, "And it came to pass when they journeyed from the East that they found a valley", as has been explained.'

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AND THE WHOLE EARTH WAS OF ONE LANGUAGE AND ONE SPEECH, i.e. the world was still a unity with one single faith in the Holy One, blessed be He. BUT AFTERWARDS THEY JOURNEYED AWAY miquedem (lit. from before), that is, from the One who is before all, from the foot of the world, who was the object of universal faith. AND THEY FOUND A PLAIN, that is, they made a discovery, by means of which they shook off their faith in the Most High. So it is written of Nimrod: AND THE BEGINNING OF HIS KINGDOM WAS BABEL, this being the starting-point from which he commenced to attach himself to other powers. Similarly here, "they found a plain in the land of Shin'ar", a place in which they conceived the idea of forsaking the Supernal Power for another power.

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AND THEY SAID: COME, LET US BUILD US A CITY, AND A TOWER, WITH ITS TOP IN HEAVEN, AND LET US MAKE US A NAME. R. Hiya began his discourse with the text: And the wicked are like the driven sea (Is. LVII, 20). 'When can the sea be said to be "driven"? When it becomes violently disturbed and sways this way and that and is driven from its bed; it is then like a drunken man, reeling and staggering and heaving up and down. "For it cannot rest, and its waters cast up mire and dirt" (Ibid.), i.e. it throws up all the dirt and foul matter of the sea on to the shore. So it is with the wicked who leave the straight path and reel and stagger in the crooked roads they have taken, like a man drunk with wine. And what is more, with every word which they utter in their rage there issues from their mouth filth and abomination so that they are utterly defiled. [75a] See now, they said: "Come let us build a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven." Underlying these words there was a plan of rebellion against the Holy One, blessed be He. It was a foolish scheme, born out of the stupidity of their heart.' R. Abba said, 'Foolish they certainly were, but at the same time they had a crafty design to rid themselves of the Supreme Power and to transfer His glory to another. Throughout, there is an allusion to the mysteries of religion. Thus, the words' "Come, let us build a city and a tower" mean that when they reached that plain, which signifies the "strange power", and there was revealed to them the place of its dominion, which extends particularly over "the fishes of the sea", they said, "Here is a place where the beings of the lower world can abide in comfort." At once they said: "Come, let us build a city, and a tower, and let us make us a name." This place, they said, shall be to us a centre of worship, and no other; so "let us build a city and a tower"; what need is there for us to go up to the regions on high where we cannot derive any enjoyment ? Behold, here is a place all made ready for us. Further they said: AND LET US MAKE A NAME, that is, an object of worship, LEST WE BE SCATTERED ABROAD, i.e. to other grades and different quarters of the world.

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AND THE LORD CAME DOWN TO SEE THE CITY AND THE TOWER. This is one of the ten occasions on which the Shekinah descended to earth. "To see" here means "to consider methods of punishment", as in the verse, "May the Lord see and judge" (Gen. XVI, S). It is not written, "to see the people", but "to see the city and the tower". Why so? Because when the Holy One, blessed be He, sets out to execute judgement, He first surveys the upper ranks and then the lower ranks, and since this action of mankind affected also the regions on high, the first consideration was directed to those on high. This is implied in the words, "to see the city and the tower which the sons of man (Adam) built". Mankind are here called "sons of Adam", because it was Adam, the first man, who rebelled against his Master and brought death into the world. R. Simeon began his discourse with the verse: Thus [75b] saith the Lord God : The gate of the inner court that looketh towards the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath day it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened (Ezek. XLVI, I). He said: 'If this verse is attentively considered, it is found to contain an allusion with which we are familiar. The reason why the gate is to be shut on the six working days is in order that the profane should not make use of the sacred; "but on the Sabbath day it shall be opened and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened", since in this case the sacred makes use of the sacred, and so the moon comes then to form a junction with the sun. The reason why that gate is not to be opened on the six working days is because from them this lower world draws sustenance, and they have control of the whole world with the exception of the Land of Israel: that land cannot be touched by them because the gate is shut. But on the Sabbath day and on the day of the new moon they are removed from control because the gate is open, and the world is in festivity and derives its sustenance from there, and is not under any other power. But think not that the six days have the sole dominion, even when they are in control, for we are told that that gate "looketh towards the east", i.e. the Eternal; for the Eternal, even before they assumed control, had the world under His observation, only the gate is not to be opened, so that the world should not receive sustenance from the sacred source save on Sabbath and new moons. Indeed, all the days are attached to the Sabbath day, from which they draw their sustenance,. and on which all the gates are opened, and rest is vouchsafed to all on high and below. Similarly here, THE LORD CAME DOWN TO SEE, i.e. He descended from the sacred to the profane, in order to survey what they had built and what steps they had taken to establish an idolatrous worship.'

R. Isaac was once studying with R. Simeon and put to him the question: 'How could these people have been so foolish as to raise a rebellion against the Holy One, blessed be He, and what is more, with such unanimity?' R. Simeon replied: 'That has already been explained, and the answer is indicated in the words, "And it carne to pass when they journeyed miqedem" (from the Eternal), which means that they proceeded downwards, from above to below, from the Land of Israel to Babel. They said that that was just the right place to which to attach themselves, since there the divine chastisement could be successfully resisted. There, too, the whole world could obtain nourishment in abundance, for from the higher realm sustenance could only be procured with difficulty. And furthermore, they said, we will ascend into heaven and make war against it so as to prevent it bringing a flood on the world as before.'

***

AND THE LORD SAID: BEHOLD, THEY ARE ONE PEOPLE, AND THEY HAVE ALL ONE LANGUAGE, i.e. being united they may indeed succeed in their undertaking. Let, therefore, all the grades be dispersed, each in its own direction, and in this way mankind below will also be dispersed. Hence it it written: AND THE LORD SCATTERED THEM ABROAD FROM THENCE. Why was their language confounded ? Because they all spoke the holy tongue, and this was of help to them. For in the utterance of prayer, it is Hebrew words which fully express the purpose of the heart, and thus help to the attainment of the desired goal; hence their tongue was confounded in order that they might not be able to express their desires in the holy tongue. Since the angels on high do not understand any language save the sacred language, therefore as soon as the language of the rebels was confounded they lost the source of their power. For whatever men utter below in the holy tongue all the hosts of heaven understand and take heed of, but any other language they do not understand. Hence as soon as the language of the builders was confounded THEY LEFT OFF TO BUILD THE CITY, since their strength was broken and they were unable to achieve their purpose. We read, "Blessed be the name of God from everlasting even unto everlasting; for wisdom and might are his" (Dan. II, 20). Truly His: for whenever the Holy One, blessed be He, allowed the deep mysteries of wisdom to be brought down into the world, mankind were corrupted by them and attempted to declare war on God. He gave supernal wisdom to Adam, but Adam utilised the wisdom disclosed to him [76a] to familiarise himself with the lower grades also, until in the end he attached himself to the yetzer-hara (evil tempter), and the fountains of wisdom were closed to him. After he repented before his Master, parts of that wisdom were again revealed to him, in that same book, but through that same knowledge people came later on to provoke God. He gave wisdom to Noah, who, indeed, worshipped by means of it the Holy One, blessed be He, but afterwards "he drank of the wine and was drunken and uncovered", as already explained. He gave wisdom to Abraham, who by means of it served the Holy One, blessed be He, but then he gave birth to Ishmael, who provoked the Holy One, blessed be He. The same with Isaac, from whom Esau was born. As for Jacob, he married two sisters. He gave wisdom to Moses, of whom it is written: "Be is trusted in all my house" (Num. XII, 7). There was none like Moses, a faithful servant, who was cognisant of all the grades, but whose heart was not seduced by anyone of them from firm faith in the highest. He gave profound wisdom to Solomon, who called himself l'ithiel, l'ithiel v'ukhal (Prov. XXX, I), as much as to say: "God is with me, and since wisdom is His, v'ukhal, I am able to do my own will." But afterwards "the Lord raised up an adversary for Solomon" (I Kings XI, 14). Thus we see that in virtue of the fragments which those people retained from that wisdom of the ancients, they provoked the Holy One, blessed be He, built a tower, and did various kinds of mischief, until they were scattered over the face of the earth, and there was no wisdom left with them for any purpose at all. But in the future the Holy One, blessed be He, will cause wisdom to be disseminated in the world, and the peoples will worship Him, as it is written: "And I will set my spirit within you" (Ezek. XXXVI, 27), but-in contrast with the generations of old, who used it for the ruin of the world -- "I will cause you", the verse continues, "to walk in my statutes and ye shall keep mine ordinances, and do them" (Ibid.).

As R. Jose and R. Hiya were once walking together, R. Jose said: 'Let us begin some discourse on the Torah, and evolve some new idea.' R. Jose thereupon began with the verse: For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee,. therefore shall thy camp be holy, that he see no unseemly thing in thee, and tuna .away from thee (Deut. XXIII, 15). He said: 'The term for "walketh" is here mithhalekh, as in the passage, "walking (mithhalekh) in the garden towards the cool of the day" (Gen. Ill, 8) (in connection with Adam's eating of the forbidden tree). Mithhalekh is the term for the female, and .corresponding to it for the male is the term mehalech. This is the same power that went in front of Israel whilst they were going through the wilderness, as it is written: "And the Lord went before them by day" (Ex. XIII, 21). It is this same power that goes in front of a man when he is on a journey, as it is written: "Righteousness shall go before him, and shall make his footsteps a way" (Ps. LXXXV, 14). It walks in front of a man when he is virtuous in order "to deliver thee and to give up thine enemies before thee", to wit, to rescue a man when journeying from the power of "the other one". Hence -it is incumbent on a man to guard himself against sin and to purify himself. How purify himself? In the manner indicated in the words, "therefore shall thy camp be holy". The word qadosh (holy) here is singular, which shows that by the word "camp" we may understand the members of which the body IS composed; these are "thy camp" which is to be "holy". By the term "unseemly thing" is indicated indecency, which is a thing most hateful to the Holy One, blessed be He. Further, the term dabar (thing, lit. word) alludes to the obscene word by which sinners besmirch and befoul themselves. Why all this ? Because "He walketh before thee". If thou be remiss in regard to this, He will immediately "turn away from thee". Now, since we are walking along before Him in the road, let us occupy ourselves with words of the Torah. For when the Torah forms a crown over a man's head, the Shekinah does not depart from him.'

R. Hiya then discoursed as follows: 'It is written: "And the Lord said: Behold they are one people, and they have all one language." After this we read: "And it came to pass as they journeyed miqedem." The term miqedem signifies "away from the Ancient One (qadmon) of the world". "That they found." We should have expected "saw"; but the word "found" is used to indicate that they found remnants of the secret wisdom that had been left there by the generation of the Flood, and with that they made their attempt to provoke the Holy One, blessed be He. As they said, [76b] so they did. Note what is written, "Behold, they are one people and they have all one language." Being of one mind, of one will, and speaking one language, "nothing will be withholden from them which they purpose to do". But, said God, I know what to do; I will confound for them the grades on high and their language below, and thus their work will stop. Now, seeing that, because they were all of one mind and one will and spoke the holy tongue, it is written of them "nothing will be withholden from them which they purpose to do", and the supernal judgement was powerless against them, how much more must this apply to us or any other of the companions who are occupied in the study of the Torah !' R. Jose said: 'From here we learn that quarrelsome folk soon come to grief. For we see here that as long as the peoples of the world lived in harmony, being of one mind and one will, although they rebelled against the Holy One, blessed be He, the supernal judgement could not touch them; but as soon as they were divided, "the Lord scattered them abroad". Of the world to come, however, it is written: "For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent" (Zeph. III, 9); also: "And the Lord shall be King over all the earth; in that day shall the Lord be one, and his name one" (Zech. XIV, 9). Blessed be the Lord forever. Amen and Amen!'

_______________

Notes:

1. Where also we find the expression 'these are the generations' (Gen. 11, 4).

2. This paragraph is out of place. It should properly follow 'begat three sons', on p. 196.

3. v. Numbers v.

4. lit, 'fraud', 'overreaching',

5. v. Daniel VII, 18.

6. So the Rabbinical interpretation of the word sh'thum.

7. The neshamah (v. pp. 203, 278).

8. Here, apparently, there should be a text-heading: AND GOD MADE A WIND PASS OVER THE EARTH, AND THE WATERS WERE ASSUAGE
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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:50 pm

Part 1 of 4

LECH LECHA

Gen. XII, I-XVII, 27 R. Abba introduced this portion with a discourse on the text: Hearken to me, ye obstinate of heart who are far from righteousness (Is. XLVI, 12). He said: 'How obstinate is the heart of sinners who see the paths and ways of the Torah and pay no heed to them, but harden their hearts and do not return in repentance to their Master, wherefore they are called "obstinate of heart". Also "far from righteousness", because they keep themselves far from the Torah. R. Hizkiah says, that it is because they keep themselves far from God; they refuse to draw near to God and therefore they are far from righteousness. And because they are far from righteousness, therefore they are far from peace, and they have no peace, as it is written. "There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked" (Is. XLVIII, 22). The reason is that they are far from righteousness. See now, Abraham sought to draw near to God, and he succeeded. So it is written, "Thou didst love righteouness and hate wickedness" (Ps. XLV, 8), and it is further written, "Abraham who loves me" (Is. XLI, 8), i.e. Abram is said to have "loved God" because he loved righteousness; this was Abram's love of God, in which he excelled [77a] all his contemporaries, who were obstinate of heart and far from righteousness, as has been said.'

R. Jose opened with the text :How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts (Ps. LXXXIV, 2). He said: 'It behoves men to consider well the importance of the service of the Holy One, blessed be He. For the mass of mankind do not know or reflect what it is that keeps the world or themselves in existence. For when God created the world, He made the heavens of fire and water mingled together but not compact, and afterwards they were made compact and firm by a divine spirit. From there God planted forth the world to rest upon supports, which themselves are kept up only by that spirit. When that spirit departs they all quiver and shake and the world trembles, as it is written, "Who shaketh the earth out of her place and the pillars thereof tremble" (Job IX, 6). The whole is based upon the Torah. Thus when Israel devotes itself to the Torah the world is firmly established and they are secure and the supports are firmly fixed in their places. See now, at the moment when midnight arrives and the Holy One, blessed be He, enters the Garden of Eden to disport Himself with the righteous, all the trees in the Garden sing praises before Him, as it is written, "Then sing the trees of the wood for joy before the Lord" (I Chron. XVI, 33). A herald proclaimeth lustily: "To you we speak, exalted holy ones; who is there among you whose ears are quick to hear and whose eyes are open to see and whose heart is alert to perceive, what time the spirit of all spirits culls the sweet effluence of the inner soul, and a voice goes forth from there saying, Disperse, ye hosts, to the four corners of the world?" Then

1. One mounts to one side.
2. One descends on that side.
3. One enters between the two.
4. Two crown themselves with a third.
5. Three enter into one.
6. One produces various colours.
7. Six of them descend on one side and six of them on the other.
8. Six enter into twelve.
9. Twelve bestir themselves to form twenty-two.
10. Six are comprised in ten.
11. Ten are fixed in one.

Woe to those that sleep with eyes fast closed and do .not know or consider how they will arise in the Day of Judgement; for reckoning is exacted [77b] when the body is defiled, and the soul flits over the face of the transparent ether, now up and now down, and if the gates are not opened it is tossed about like a stone from the sling. Woe to them! Who shall plead for them? For they shall not be admitted to this joyaunce, among the delightful habitations of the righteous their places shall be missing, they shall be delivered into the hands of Duma, they shall descend and not ascend. Of them it is written, "As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away, so he that goeth down to Sheol shall come up no more" (Job VII, 9)' At that moment a certain flash springs forth from the side of the North and strikes the four quarters of the world and comes down and alights between the wings of the cock, which is thereby awakened and begins to crow. But none are stirred save those truly pious ones who rise and remain awake and study the Torah, and then the Holy One, blessed be He, and all the righteous in the Garden of Eden listen to their voices, as it is written, "Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken for thy voice, cause me to hear it" (S. S. VIII, 13).

***

AND THE LORD SAID TO ABRAM. Just before this it is written, "And Haran died in the presence of Terah his father" (Gen. XI, 28). The connection is as follows. Up to that time no one had ever died in the lifetime of his father. Haran, however, was killed at the time when Abram was cast into the furnace. Then it says, "And Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, etc .... and they went forth with them from Dr of the Chaldees." We should expect "and they went forth with him", referring to Terah; why, then, does it say "with them" ? The reason is that Terah and Lot went forth with Abram and Sara, who led the way in departing from that sinful district; for when Terah saw that Abram was rescued from the fire, he began to be guided by Abram, and therefore we read, "and they went forth with them", i.e. Terah and Lot with Abram and Sara. Also it was "to go into the land of Canaan", where they wanted to go. We learn further from this text that whoever makes an effort to purify himself receives assistance from above. For no sooner is it written, "to go to the land of Canaan" than we read "and God said to Abram, Get thee forth"; this message was not given to him until he made the first move himself. For the upper world is not stirred to act until an impulse is given from the lower world. The prototype of this process is that the blackish light is not caught up by the white light until it has first itself begun to mount; [1] but when it does so, forthwith the white light rests upon it, and therefore it is written, "O Lord, keep not thou silence, hold not thy peace and be not still, O God" (Ps. LXXXIII, 2), in order that the white light may never be withheld from the world. So, too, it says, "Ye that are the Lord's remembrancers, keep not silence" (Is. LXII, 6), in order to give the impulse from below for the influence to descend from the upper world. Similarly the prophetic spirit rests upon man only when he has first bestirred himself to receive it. So here, too, when once Abram and his family had left Ur of the Chaldees, then God said to him, "Get thee forth"; the word "thee" here, says R. Eleazar, means "for thine own advantage, to prepare thyself, to perfect thy degree". "Get thee forth": that is, it is not fitting for thee to remain here among these sinners. The real truth of the matter is this. [78a] God inspired Abram with a spirit of wisdom so that he was able to discover by means of certain tests the characters of all the inhabited countries of the world. He surveyed them and weighed them in the balance, and discovered the (heavenly) powers to which each is entrusted. When he came to the central point of the inhabited world he tried to weigh it, but obtained no response. He tried to find the power to which it was entrusted, but could not grasp it, though he weighed again and again. He noted that from that point the whole world was planted out, and he once more tested and weighed and found that the upper power in charge of it was one which could not be gauged, that it was recondite and hidden, and not like the (powers in charge of) the outlying parts of the inhabited world. He once more reflected, and came to the conclusion that as the whole world had been planted out in all directions from that point in the centre, so the power in charge of it was the one from which issued all the powers in charge of the other quarters of the world and to which they were all attached: hence "they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees to go to the land of Canaan". He then once more reflected and weighed in the balance and tested to find out the real truth about that place, but he could not get to the root of it. He felt himself baffled by the obscurity which surrounded it, and therefore "they came to Haran and abode there". The reason, as we have seen, is that Abraham was able to test all the upper powers that rule the world in all the quarters of the inhabited :section, and did actually test them and find out which of the guiding powers among the stars and constellations had sway over which, and he weighed successfully all the inhabited parts of the globe. But when he came to this place he was met with a baffling obscurity which he could not penetrate. When God, however, perceived his efforts and his desire, He straightway revealed Himself to him and said: GET THEE FORTH, so as to know thyself and prepare thyself, FROM THY LAND: from that side of the inhabited world to which thou wast hitherto attached, AND FROM THY KINDRED, from that wisdom wherewith thou didst cast thy horoscope, noting the hour and second of thy birth and the star that was then in the ascendant, AND FROM THY FATHER'S HOUSE, that thou shouldst not heed thy father's house, even if thou couldst hope in virtue of thy father's house for some prosperity in this world; therefore get thee gone from this wisdom and from this consideration. That this explanation is right may be proved thus. They had left Ur of the Chaldees and were in Haran. Why, then, should God say to Abram, "Get thee forth from thy land and from thy kindred"? It must therefore be as we have explained. TO THE LAND WHICH I SHALL SHOW THEE: i.e. I shall show thee that which thou wast not able to discover; the power of that land so recondite and obscure.

***

AND I SHALL MAKE THEE A GREAT NATION, ETC. "I shall make thee", in compensation for I "get thee gone"; AND I SHALL BLESS THEE, in compensation for "from my land"; AND I WILL MAKE GREAT THY NAME, in compensation for "and from thy kindred"; AND BE A BLESSING, in compensation for "and from thy father's house". R. Simeon said: "I shall make thee a great nation"; from the side of the Right; "and I shall bless thee", from the side of the Left; "and I shall make great thy name", from the realm of the Centre; "and be thou a blessing", from the side of the Land of Israel. Here we have an allusion to the throne resting on four supports, all of which were comprised in Abram. From this point blessings are transmitted to others also. who are sustained from here. as it is written. I SHALL BLESS THEM THAT BLESS THEE. [78b] AND CURSE THEM THAT CURSE THEE. AND ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED IN THEE. R. Eleazar was sitting one day before his father. R. Simeon, and with him were R. Judah and R. Isaac and R. Hizkiah. Said R. Eleazar to R. Simeon: In reference to this verse, GET THEE FORTH FROM THY LAND AND FROM THY KINDRED, since they all went forth, why was not Abram told that they should go? For though Terah was an idolater, yet since he had the good impulse to go forth with Abram. and since, as we know, God delights in the repentance of sinners, and Terah actually began the journey, why is it not written "get ye forth"? Why was it said to Abram. alone "get thee forth" ? R. Simeon replied: If you think that Terah left Dr of the Chaldees in order to repent of his past life. you are mistaken. The truth is that he was running away for his life, as his fellow-countrymen wanted to kill him. For when they saw that Abram was delivered (from the fiery furnace) they said to Terah. "It is you who misled us with those idols of yours". and it was through fear of them that Terah left. When he reached Haran he did not go any further, as it is written. "And Abram went as the Lord had said to him, and Lot went with him". but Terah is not mentioned. R. Simeon expounded in this connection the text. "And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm is broken" (Job XXXVIII, 15). The words "and from the wicked their light is withholden", he said, can be referred to Nimrod and his contemporaries. from whom Abram, who was their light, departed. Or we may refer them to Terah and his household, whose light was Abram. It does not say "light". but "their light", viz. the light that was with them. "The high arm is broken" refers to Nimrod, who led astray the whole of mankind. Therefore it is written lech lecha (lit. go for thyself), to give light to thyself and to all that shall follow thee from now onwards. R. Simeon further discoursed on the text. "Now they see not the light; it is bright in the skies. and a wind passeth and cleanseth them" (Job XXXVII, 21). "Now they see not the light", i.e. Abram's family saw not the light when God said to Abram, "Get thee forth from thy land and from thy kindred and from thy father's house". "It is bright in the skies" means that God willed to make Abram cleave to that supernal light and to shine there. "A wind passeth and c1eanseth them": because subsequently Terah and all his household repented, as it is said, "and the souls which they had saved (lit. made) in Haran", referring to Terah's household, and further, "and thou shalt come to thy fathers in peace" (Gen. XV, 15), which shows that Terah joined Abram.

***

So ABRAM WENT AS THE LORD HAD SPOKEN TO HIM, ETC. Said R. Eleazar: 'It is not written "and Abram went forth", but simply "Abram went"; the first step was "going forth", as it is written, "and they went forth (vayez'u) from Ur of the Chaldees" (Gen. XI, 31), but the second step was "going", corresponding to God's command "Go (fech) thou" (Ibid. XII, I). As THE LORD HAD SPOKEN TO HIM: i.e. because he had received all those promises. AND LOT WENT WITH HIM: i.e. he attached himself to him to learn his ways, and in spite of this he did not learn them too well.' Said R. Eleazar: 'Happy are the righteous who learn the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He, to walk in them and to go in fear of that Day of Judgement when man will be called to account before God.' To illustrate this, R. Eleazar expounded the text: "By his hand every man sealeth, that all men may acknowledge their works" (Job. XXXVII, 7). He said: [79a] 'On the day when man's time arrives to depart from the world, when the body is broken and the soul seeks to leave it, on that day man is privileged to see things that he was not permitted to see before, when the body was in full vigour. Three messengers stand over him and take an account of his life and of all that he has done in this world, and he admits all with his mouth and signs the account with his hand as it is written, "every man sealeth with his hand": the whole account is signed with his hand so that he should be judged in the next world for all his actions, former and later, old and new, not one of them is forgotten (as it is written, "that every man should acknowledge his works"); and for all the deeds which he committed with his body and his spirit in this world he gives an account with hi. body and spirit before he leaves the world. For just as sinners are stiff-necked in this world, so they are stiff· necked even at the moment when they are on the point of departing from the world. Happy, therefore, is the man who learns in this world the ways of God to walk in them. But sinners, even though they observe the righteous, are too stiff· necked to learn from them. Therefore it behoves the righteous to importune them and, even though the sinner be stiffnecked, not to relax his hold of him, for if he let him go, he may depart and destroy the world. We see this from the case of Gehazi when driven out by Elisha. So, too, with Lot: as long as Abram was with him, he did not associate with the wicked, but as soon as he left him, what do we find? "So Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan"; and further, "and he moved his tent as far as Sodom", the inhabitants of which "were wicked and sinners against the Lord exceedingly". Said R. Abba to R. Eleazar, 'With reference to your observation that the text says "Abraham went", and not "went forth", what do you make of the end of the verse which says "when he went forth from Haran"?' Said R. Eleazar: 'The words "from Haran" are important; the journey was in the first instance a "going forth" from the land of his kindred. AND ABRAM TOOK SARAI HIS WIFE. The word "took" signifies that he pleaded with her and persuaded her. For a man is not permitted to take his wife with him to another country without her consent. The word "take" is used in a similar sense in the texts "Take Aaron" (Num. XX, 25), and "Take the Levites" (Ibid. III, 45). So Abram spoke persuasively to Sarai, pointing out to her how wicked were the ways of their contemporaries. Further, Abram took LOT HIS BROTHER'S SON. Abram's reason for taking Lot with him was that he foresaw through the Holy Spirit that David was destined to issue from him. AND THE SOULS THAT THEY HAD GOTTEN IN HARAN: these were the male and female proselytes whose souls they had saved. Abram converted the men and Sarai the women, and therefore they are spoken of as if they had made them.' Said R. Abba: 'If so, they must have been a great crowd, if you say that they all went with him.' Said R. Eleazar: 'That is so; and therefore the whole company that went with him were called [79b] "the people of the God of Abraham", and he travelled through the land without fear, as it is written, "And Abram passed through the land".' Said R. Abba to him: 'I interpret differently, viz. that the particle eth here signifies the augmentation of his merit by that of the souls that went with him, since one who puts another in the path of righteousness ever reaps benefit from his merit also. So it was the merit of those souls which were "made" in Haran that accompanied Abram.'

***

GET THEE FORTH. R. Simeon said: 'What is the reason that the first communion which God held with Abraham commenced with the words "Get thee forth" (lech lecha)? It is that the numerical value of the letters of the words lech lecha is a hundred, and hence they contained a hint to him that he would beget a son at the age of a hundred. See now, whatever God does upon the earth has some inner and recondite purpose. Abram was not cleaving to God as closely as he should have done, and therefore God said to him, "Get thee forth", alluding thereby to the place where he would be able to draw near to God, which was the first grade for entering before God; hence "get thee forth". Abram could not attain to this grade until he had entered the promised land; but there he was destined to attain it. Similarly with David, of whom it is written, "And David inquired of the Lord saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah? And the Lord said unto him, Go up. And David said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, Unto Hebron." (II Sam. II, I). Seeing that Saul was dead and the kingship belonged of right to David, why was he not at once declared king over all Israel ? Here again there was an inner purpose: David was not qualified to become king until he had attached himself to the patriarchs who were buried in Hebron, and therefore he stayed there seven years in order to qualify himself completely for the kingship. Thus all was done with an inner purpose, and in order that there should be no flaw in his kingship. Similarly Abram did not enter into the covenant of God until he entered the land. Observe that the text says "And Abram passed through the land", where we should have expected "went through". We have here an allusion to the holy name of seventy-two letters with which the world is sealed, all of which are in this name. We read here "and he passed", and in another place we find "And the Lord passed by before him and proclaimed" (Ex. XXXIV, 6). In the book of the venerable R. Yesa we find: It is written here "And Abram passed through the land", and in another place it says "I will make all my goodness pass before thee" (Ex. XXXIII, 19), this being an allusion to the holiness of the land which emanates from a heavenly source.

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UNTO THE PLACE OF SHECHEM, UNTO THE OAK OF MORETH, i.e. from one sphere to the other, as befitted. AND THE CANAANITE WAS THEN IN THE LAND. This confirms what has previously been said, that up to that time the wicked serpent that was cursed and brought curses on the world held sway over the land, as it is written, "Cursed is Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren" (Gen. IX, 25), and of the serpent, "Cursed art thou above all cattle" (Gen. III, 1.4.).It was in that land that Abram drew near to God. For it is written here AND THE LORD APPEARED UNTO ABRAM: here was revealed to him what [80a] he could not previously find out, the hidden force that ruled over the (holy) land, and so HE BUILT THERE AN ALTAR TO THE LORD WHO APPEARED TO HIM. The words "who appeared to him", which seem to be superfluous, indicate that here was revealed to him that grade which rules over the land, and that he entered into it and was confirmed in it.

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AND HE REMOVED FROM THENCE UNTO THE MOUNTAIN: The word ha-harah (to the mountain) can be rendered "to the mountain of he", implying that he now became acquainted with this and with all the grades planted there. AND PITCHED HIS TENT: here, again, the letter he in the word aholoh (his tent) indicates that he purified himself and acknowledged the kingship of heaven in all the grades attached to it. He acquired the certainty that God rules over all, and 90 he built an altar. There were, in fact, two altars, because here it was revealed to him that God is ruler over all, and he became acquainted with the higher wisdom, which he had not known previously. He therefore built two altars, one for the grade (of the Godhead) which was already known to him, and one for the grade which was still concealed. This can be seen from the text: it first says "And he built there an altar to the Lord who appeared to him", and afterwards it says "and he built an altar to the Lord", simply -- with an allusion to the higher wisdom. Thus Abram proceeded from grade to grade until he reached his own rightful grade, as it is written, "And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South", the South (typifying wisdom) being the allotted portion of Abram, and there he finally fixed himself.

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AND THERE WAS A FAMINE IN THE LAND: because up to now the power in charge of the land had not endowed the land with strength to produce food, since as yet it (the land) had not attained its complete development. So, seeing that the power in charge of the land was not endowing it with its rightful force and energy, ABRAM WENT DOWN TO EGYPT TO SOJOURN THERE. How did Abram know that the land was still defective? Because it was said to him, UNTO THY SEED WILL I GIVE THIS LAND. From this Abram knew that the land would not be invested with its appropriate holiness save through the grades of holiness which would be exhibited by his offspring. [81b]

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AND ABRAM WENT DOWN TO EGYPT TO SOJOURN THERE. Why to Egypt? Because it is compared to the Garden of the Lord, as it is written, "Like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt". For there a certain stream (from the Garden) which is on the right descends and flows, as it is written, "The name of the one was Pishon, that it is which compasseth the whole land of Havilah where there is gold" (Gen. II, II). When Abram knew God and became perfect in faith, he sought to acquaint himself with all those grades (of wisdom) which are attached to the lower world, and since Egypt derived from the Right, he went down to Egypt. (We remark here that famine comes only when mercy ceases to temper justice.)

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Now IT CAME TO PASS THAT WHEN HE WAS COME NEAR TO ENTER INTO EGYPT. The word hikrib (came near) literally means "brought near"; as much as to say that he brought himself fittingly near to God. TO ENTER INTO EGYPT: i.e. to examine those other (worldly) grades so as to know how to avoid them and to shun the ways of the Egyptians. R. Judah said: 'Consider this. Because Abram went down to Egypt without first obtaining God's consent (for nowhere is it written that God told Abram to go down to Egypt), therefore his descendants were enslaved to the Egyptians four hundred years.' All that night he was filled with anxiety concerning Sarai, AND HE SAID TO SARAI HIS WIFE, BEHOLD NOW I KNOW THAT THOU ART A FAIR WOMAN TO LOOK UPON. Did he then not know it before? This confirms what we have learnt, that up to that time Abram had never looked closely at the features of Sarai on account of the excessive modesty which ruled their intercourse, but when he approached Egypt they were disclosed, and he saw how fair she was. According to another explanation, he knew it through the fact that, contrary to the usual experience, she looked as beautiful as ever after the fatigues of the journey. Another explanation is that Abram said so because he saw with her the Shekinah. It was on this account that Abram made bold to say subsequently, "she is my sister", with a double meaning: one the literal, the other figurative, as in the words "say to Wisdom, thou art my sister" (Prov. VII, 4). SAY NOW THOU ART MY SISTER. R. Yesa said: 'Abram knew that all the Egyptians were full of lewdness. It may therefore [82a] seem surprising that he was not apprehensive for his wife and that he did not turn back without entering the country. But the truth is that he saw with her the Shekinah and was therefore confident. THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH ME FOR THY SAKE: these words were addressed to the Shekinah, as if to say: "that God may entreat me well for thy sake". AND THAT MY SOUL MAY LIVE BECAUSE OF THEE: because through this (the Shekinah) man ascends and becomes privileged to enter on the path of life.'

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NOW IT CAME TO PASS THAT WHEN ABRAM WAS COME TO EGYPT THE EGYPTIANS BEHELD THE WOMAN THAT SHE WAS VERY FAIR. R. Judah said: 'He brought her in a box, and they opened it to levy duty. When it was opened a light like that of the sun shone forth, as it says "that she was very fair". The word "very" indicates that they saw in the box another figure; for when they took her out, they saw a figure in the box as before. Hence the Scripture repeats, AND THE PRINCES OF PHARAOH SAW HER, and on this account THEY PRAISED HER TO PHARAOH.' R. Isaac said: 'Woe to the sinners of the world who do not know and do not observe the work of the Holy One, blessed be He, nor do they reflect that all which takes place in the world is from God, who knows from the outset what will be at the end, as it is written, "declaring the end from the beginning" (Is. XLVI, 10). He looks ahead and lays a train now for developments in the distant future. Thus had not Sarai been taken to Pharaoh, he would not have been plagued, and it was his castigation which caused the subsequent castigation of the Egyptians. The word "great" is applied here to the plagues inflicted on Pharaoh and also to the "signs and wonders which God showed upon Egypt" (Deut. VI, 22), to indicate that here, as there, were ten plagues, and that just as God performed wonders for Israel by night, so He performed wonders for Sarai by night.'

R. Jose expounded the text: Thou, O Lord, art a shield about me, my glory and the lifter up of mine head (Ps. III, 4). He said: 'What David meant was: "though the whole world should come to make war on me, thou, O Lord, art a shield about me". David further said to God: "Sovereign of the Universe, wherefore do not the Israelites conclude one of their blessings with my name as they do with the name of Abraham, [2] of whom it is written 'I am thy shield' (Gen. XV, 1)?" God replied: "Abraham I have already tried and tested and found to be wholly stedfast." Said David: "If so, 'examine me, O Lord, and prove me, try my reins and my heart' (Ps. XXVI, 2)." When he sinned in the matter of Bathsheba, David remembered what he had said, and he exclaimed "'Thou hast proved mine heart, thou hast visited me in the night, thou hast tried me and hast not found, my thoughts should not have passed my mouth' (Ps. XVII, 3). I said, Examine me, O Lord, and prove me, and thou hast proved my heart; I said, Try my reins, and thou hast tried me; but thou hast not found me as I should be; would that what was in my mind had not passed my lips." (And with all this the Israelites do conclude a blessing with his name. [3]) Therefore David said: " 'Thou, O Lord, art a shield about me, my glory and the lifter up of my head': this grade assuredly is my glory with which I am crowned.'"

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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:51 pm

Part 2 of 4

AND PHARAOH GAVE MEN CHARGE CONCERNING HIM, AND THEY SENT HIM ON HIS WAY. Assuredly God is a shield to the righteous to save them from falling into the power of men, and so God shielded Abram that the Egyptians should not have power to harm him and his wife. For the· Shekinah did not leave Sarai all that night. When Pharaoh tried to approach her, the angel came and smote him. Whenever Sarai said "smite", he smote, and meanwhile Abram firmly trusted in God that He would allow no harm to come to Sarai, as it is written, "the righteous are bold as a lion" (Prov. XXVIII, 1). This is one of the trials which Abram endured without complaining against God. R. Isaac said that God purposely refrained from telling Abram to go down to Egypt, and allowed him to go of his own accord, in order that people might not be able to say that after making him go there He brought trouble on him through his wife. R. Isaac here expounded the text The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree, he shall grow like the cedar in Lebanon (Ps. XCII, 13). 'Why is the righteous man compared to a palm tree? Because just as, if a palm tree is cut down, it takes a long time for one to grow again, so if the world loses a righteous man, it is a long time before another arises in his place. Further, just as a palm tree does not grow unless the male be accompanied by the female, so the righteous cannot flourish save when they are male and female together, like Abram and Sarai. Again, "he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon": just as a cedar is pre-eminent and all can sit under it, so the righteous man is pre-eminent and all sit under him. The world is supported upon one righteous one, as it is written, "the righteous is the foundation of the world" (Prov. x, 25).' Said R. Judah, 'Is it not a dictum of the Rabbis that the world rests on seven supports, as it is written, "Wisdom hath hewn out her seven pillars" (Prov. IX, 1)?' R. Jose replied: 'That is so, but those others depend on one [82b] who is the real support of the world. This is the Zaddik who waters and refreshes the world and feedeth all, and of whom it is written, "Say of the Zaddik that he is good, for (through him) they eat of the fruit of their works" (Is. III, 10), and again, "The Lord is good to all and his tender mercies are over all his works" (Ps. CXLV, 9).'

R. Isaac said: 'The Scripture tells us that "a river went forth from Eden to water the garden" (Gen. II, 10). It is this river which is the support upon which the world rests. It waters the Garden and causes it to bear fruits which spring up and blossom in the world, and which uphold the world and make possible the study of the Torah. What are these fruits ? They are the souls of the righteous which are the fruit of God's handiwork. Therefore every night the souls of the righteous mount on high, and at the hour of midnight the Holy One, blessed be He, comes to the Garden of Eden to disport Himself with them. With which of them? R. Jose said, with all: both with those whose abode is in the other world and with those who are still in their dwellings in this world -- with all of them God disports Himself at midnight. For the world on high requires to be stirred by the impulse of the lower world, and so when the souls of the righteous leave this world and mount on high, they all clothe themselves with a supernal light, with a resplendent figure, and God disports Himself with them and delights in them, since they are the fruit of His handiwork, and for this reason Israel who are possessed of holy souls are called sons to the Holy One, blessed be He; as it is written, "Ye are sons to the Lord your God" (Deut. XIV, 1), that is, the fruit of His handiwork.' Said R. Yesa, 'You say that God disports Himself also with the souls in this world: how is this?' He answered, 'At midnight all the truly righteous arise to read the Torah and to sing psalms, and we have learnt that the Holy One, blessed be He, and all the righteous in the Garden of Eden listen to their voices, and in consequence a certain grace is imparted to them by day; so it is written, "The Lord will command his grace in the day-time, and in the night his song shall be with me" (Ps. XLII, 9). Hence it is that the praises which are sung at night constitute the most perfect praise. So when God was slaying the first-born in Egypt, the Israelites in their houses were singing praises and psalms to Him. See now, King David too used to get up in the middle of the night, as it is written, "At midnight I will rise to give thanks to thee" (Ps. CXIX, 62). He did not remain sitting or lying in his bed, but he literally rose and stood up to compose psalms and praises. Therefore it is that King David lives for ever, and even in the days of the King Messiah he will be king, according to the dictum: "If the King Messiah will be from the living, David will be his name, and if he will be from the dead, David will be his name." He, as it were, awoke the dawn, as it is written, "Awake, my glory, awake, psaltery and harp; I myself will awake right early" (Ps. LVII, 9).

In the night when Sarai was with Pharaoh, the angels came to sing praises before God, but God said to them, "Go all of you, and deal heavy blows on Egypt, in anticipation of what I intend to do subsequently"; hence it is written, "And the Lord smote Pharaoh with great plagues." Then: PHARAOH CALLED ABRAM, ETC. What gave him this idea, seeing that God did not say anything to him as He did later to Abimelech, as when He said, "And now restore the man's wife, for he is a prophet", etc. (Gen. XX, 7)?' Said R. Isaac, 'The answer is contained in the words BECAUSE OF SARAI ABRAM'S WIFE: the angels as they smote him said "this blow is because of Sarai Abram's wife" and no more, and then he knew that she was Abram's wife, and straightway "Pharaoh called Abram and said, etc." AND PHARAOH GAVE MEN CHARGE CONCERNING HIM: why so ? In order that no man should come near to hurt them. AND THEY BROUGHT HIM ON THE WAY: i.e. they conducted him through the land of Egypt. Said God to him: So art thou destined to do to his descendants: thou shalt conduct them from thy land, as it is written, "And it came to pass when Pharaoh let go (beshallach, lit. escorted) the people" (Ex. XIII, 17).' R. Abba said: 'All this happened to Abram and he had to go through all this only in order that he and Sarai might acquire a great name in the world. [83a] For even in Egypt, a country of magicians from whom no man could escape, Abram distinguished himself, and he raised himself there to a higher eminence, as it is written, AND ABRAM WENT UP OUT OF EGYPT. To where did he ascend? INTO THE SOUTH.' Said R. Simeon: 'Observe that these words have an inner meaning, and indicate to us that Abram went down to the "lower degrees" in Egypt, and probed them to the bottom, but clave not to them and returned unto his Master. He was not like Adam, who, when he descended to a certain grade, was enticed by the serpent and brought death upon the world; nor was he like Noah, who, when he descended to a certain grade; was enticed and "drank of the wine and became drunk and was uncovered in the midst of his tent" (Gen. IX, 21). Unlike them, Abram came up again and returned to his place, to the upper grade to which he had been attached previously. This whole incident is related in order to show that he was stedfast in his attachment to Wisdom, and was not seduced, and returned to his former condition. "Into the South": this is the higher grade to which he was attached at first, as it is written, "going on still to the South". The inner significance of this narrative is that if Abram had not gone down to Egypt and been tested there, his portion would not have been in the Lord. Similarly with his descendants, whom God desired to make a unique and perfect people and to bring near to Himself: if they had not first gone down to Egypt and been tested there, they would not have been God's chosen people. Similarly, too, if the Holy Land had not been first given to Canaan to rule over, it would not have become the lot and portion of the Holy One, blessed be He. In all these facts the same mystical purpose is to be observed:

R. Simeon was once on a journey in company with his son R. Eleazar and R. Abba and R. Judah. As they were going along, R. Simeon said: 'I marvel how indifferent men are to the words of the Torah and the problem of their own existence " He proceeded to discourse on the text: With my soul have I desired thee in the night, yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early (Is. XXVI, 9). He said: 'The inner meaning of this verse is as follows. When a man lies down in bed, his vital spirit (nefesh) leaves him and begins to mount on high, leaving with the body only the impression of a receptacle which contains the heart-beat. The rest of it tries to soar from grade to grade, and in doing so it encounters certain bright but unclean essences. If it is pure and has not defiled itself by day, it rises above them, but if not, it becomes defiled among them and cleaves to them and does not rise any further. There they show her certain things which are going to happen in the near future: and sometimes they delude her and show her false things. Thus she goes about the whole night until the man wakes up, when she returns to her place. Happy are the righteous to whom God reveals His secrets in dreams, so that they may be on their guard against sin , Woe to the sinners who defile their bodies and their souls , As for those who have not defiled themselves during the day, when they fall asleep at night their souls begin to ascend, and first enter those grades which we have mentioned, but they do not cleave to them and continue to mount further. The soul which is privileged thus to rise finally appears before the gate of the celestial palace, and yearns with all its might to behold the beauty of the King and to visit His sanctuary. This is the man who ever hath a portion in the world to come, and this is the soul whose yearning when she ascends is for the Holy One, blessed be He, and who does not cleave to those other bright essences, but seeks out the holy essence in the place from which she (originally) issued. Therefore it is written, "With my soul have I desired thee in the night", to pursue after thee and not to be enticed away after false powers. Again, the words "With my soul have I desired thee [83b] in the night" refer to the soul (nefesh) which has sway by night, while the words "with my spirit within me will I seek thee early" refer to the spirit (ruah) which has sway by day. "Soul" (nefesh) and "spirit" (ruah) are not two separate grades, but one grade with two aspects. There is still a third aspect which should dominate these two and cleave to them as they to it, and which is called "higher spirit" (neshamah). (All these grades are arranged in wisdom, and contemplation of them throws light on the higher Wisdom.) This spirit enters into them and they cleave to it, and when it dominates, such a man is called holy, perfect, wholly devoted to God. "Soul" (nefesh) is the lowest stirring, it supports and feeds the body and is closely connected with it. When it sufficiently qualifies itself, it becomes the throne on which rests the lower spirit (ruah), as it is written, "until the spirit be poured on us from on high" (Is. XXXII, 15). When both have prepared themselves sufficiently, they are qualified to receive the higher spirit (neshamah), to which the lower spirit (ruah) becomes a throne, and which is undiscoverable, supreme over all. Thus there is throne resting on throne, and a throne for the highest. From observing these grades of the soul, one obtains an insight into the higher Wisdom, and it is wholly through Wisdom that in this way certain mysteries are connected together. For nefesh is the lowest stirring to which the body cleaves, like the dark light at the bottom of the candle-flame which clings to the wick and exists only through it. When fully kindled it becomes a throne for the white light above it. When both are fully kindled, the white light becomes a throne for a light which cannot be fully discerned, an unknown something resting on that white light, and so there is formed a complete light. So with the man who attains perfection and is called "holy", as in the verse "for the holy ones that are in the earth". And so also in the upper world. Hence at the time when Abram entered the land God appeared to him and he received there a nefesh, and built an altar to the corresponding grade (of divinity). Then "he journeyed to the South", receiving a ruah. Finally he rose to the height of cleaving to God through the medium of the neshamah, whereupon he "built an altar to the Lord", indicating the most recondite grade corresponding to the neshamah. He then found that it was requisite for him to test himself and endow himself with grades, so he went down to Egypt. There he preserved himself from being seduced by those bright essences, and after testing himself he returned to his place: he "went up" from Egypt literally, strengthened and confirmed in faith. and reached the highest grade of faith. Thenceforth Abram was acquainted with the higher Wisdom and clung to God and became the right hand of the world. Hence it says AND ABRAM WAS VERY RICH IN CATTLE, IN SILVER, AND IN GOLD: "very rich", from the side of the East; "in cattle", from the side of the West; "in silver", from the side of the South; "in gold", from the side of the North.' R. Eleazar and R. Abba and all the companions thereupon came and kissed his hands. R. Abba wept and said, 'Alas, alas, when thou departest from the world, who shall cause the light of the Torah to shine forth? Happy the lot of the companions who hear these words of the Torah from thy mouth: Said R. Simeon, Let us proceed.

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AND HE WENT ON HIS JOURNEYS, i.e. to revisit his place and his grades, until he reached the first grade where the first revelation had taken place. "On his journeys": all those grades, grade after grade, as has been said. [84a] EVEN TO BETHEL: to prepare his place and to combine "the South" and "Bethel" in a complete unity, since from the South to Bethel comprised the whole gamut of Wisdom. UNTO THE PLACE WHERE HIS TENT HAD BEEN AT THE BEGINNING, to wit, Bethel, the "perfect stone". The spot is further defined as THE PLACE OF THE ALTAR WHICH HE HAD MADE THERE AT THE FIRST, as it was said, "to the Lord who. appeared unto him", and therefore now ABRAM CALLED ON THE NAME OF THE LORD, in proof that he had attained to perfect faith. Note this. At first Abram proceeded from the lower to the higher, as it is written, "And the Lord appeared to Abram", and again, "to the Lord who appeared to him", and then "going on his journeys to the South" -- grade after grade until he was endowed with the South which was his rightful portion. From thence he began to reverse the process and descended from the higher to the lower, so as to fix all in its proper place. On the return journey, too, the mention of his stages contains an allusion to the higher Wisdom. It is written, "And he went on his journeys from the South", i.e. from the side of the Right, from the very beginning of the upper world, the mysterious and recondite, reaching to the Limitless (En Sof), and then descended stage by stage "from the South to Bethel", where "Abram called on the name of the Lord", i.e. he affixed the unity to its proper place, viz. "the place of the altar which he had made there at the first": i.e. he had taken it from the lower to the upper grade, and now he brought it down by stages from the upper to the lower in order that it should not depart from those upper grades nor they from it and the whole should constitute an indissoluble unity. Then was Abram fully endowed, and he became the lot and the portion of God in real truth. Happy are the righteous who are crowned in God as God in them! Happy in this world and happy in the world to come! Of them it is written, "Thy people shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the earth for ever" (Is. LX, 21); and again, "The path of the righteous is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. IV, 18).

The travellers went on until they came to a field, where they sat down. R. Simeon then discoursed on the text: Turn unto me and have mercy upon me (Ps. LXXXVI, 16). He said: 'This verse deserves careful study, for although we have already explained it more than once, yet it has still an inner meaning. How could David say to God, "Turn to me"? The truth is that he was referring to the grade with which he was endowed. Similarly he said Give thy strength to thy servant (Ibid.). The word "strength" refers to the supernal Force (Geburah), as in the verse" And he gave strength to his king" (Is. II, 19). The word "king", used thus without qualification, refers to the Messiah, as also does the word "servant" in this passage. And save the son of thy handmaid. Why does he call himself the son of his mother and not of his father Jesse? This bears out what we have laid down, that when a man comes to ask something of heaven, he should only say that of which he is certain; hence he mentioned his mother and not his father. And further, tradition refers this verse to the Messiah, as we have said.' R. Simeon proceeded:

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AND THERE WAS A STRIFE BETWEEN THE HERDMEN OF ABRAM'S CATTLE. The omission of the letter Yod from the word rib (strife) indicates that Lot desired to revert to the idolatry of the inhabitants of the country; this is confirmed by the end of the verse AND THE CANAANITE AND THE PERIZZITE DWELT THEN IN THE LAND. That Lot actually did revert to idolatry we know from the words AND LOT JOURNEYED FROM THE EAST: the word mi-qedem (from the East) is equivalent to mi-qadmono (from the Ancient One) of the world (similarly it says of the men who built the Tower of Babel that they journeyed "from the East", Gen. XI, I). As soon as Abram saw that this was in Lot's mind, straightway HE SAID TO LOT ... SEPARATE THYSELF, I PRAY THEE, FROM ME; as if to say, thou art not worthy to associate with me. So Abram separated from him and refused to accompany or join him, since whoever associates with a sinner eventually follows in his footsteps and so brings punishment [84b] upon himself. We know this from Jehoshaphat, who through joining with Ahab would have brought punishment on himself had he not been saved by the merit of his ancestors. Therefore Abram refused to accompany Lot; and for all that Lot did not turn from his evil course, but CHOSE HIM ALL THE PLAIN OF THE JORDAN and journeyed mi-qedem, i.e. departed from the Ancient One of the world, and did not seek to perfect himself in faith like Abram. So ABRAM DWELLED IN THE LAND OF CANAAN, to cleave to the place where faith could be strengthened and to learn wisdom in order to cleave to his Master, whereas. LOT DWELLED IN THE CITIES OF THE PLAIN and MOVED HIS TENT AS FAR AS SODOM, with those godless sinners who had abandoned faith, as it is written, Now THE MEN OF SODOM WERE WICKED AND SINNERS AGAINST THE LORD EXCEEDINGLY. Thus each went his own way. Happy are the companions who devote themselves to the Torah day and night and seek converse with God; of them it is written, "Ye that cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day" (Deut. IV, 4).'

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AND THE LORD SAID TO ABRAM AFTER THAT LOT WAS SEPARATED FROM HIM. In connection with this verse R. Abba discoursed on the following text: Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord (Jonah, I, 3). He said: 'Woe to the man who seeks to hide himself from God, of whom it is written, "Do I not fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord ?" (Jer. XXIII, 24). Why, then, did Jonah seek to flee from Him ? The reason is to be found in the verse "My dove that art in the clefts of the rock, in the coverts of the steep place" (S. S. II, 14)' "My dove" refers to the community of Israel; "the clefts of the rock" refers to Jerusalem, which is firm and eminent like a rock; "the coverts of the steep place" refer to the place which is called "holy of holies", the heart of the world. It is called "coverts" because there the Shekinah is concealed like a woman who converses only with her husband and never goes out. The community of Israel does not dwell outside its own place save in the time of exile, and because it is in exile, therefore other nations enjoy greater prosperity. When Israel were in their own land everything was as it should be, the heavenly throne was fully spread over them, and the liturgy which they performed pierced through the ether and ascended on high to its place. For Israel alone was qualified to serve God in that land, and therefore the Gentiles kept aloof, since they did not rule over it as now, but were nourished only by the "residue". You may say, How do you reconcile this with the fact that a number of (foreign) kings ruled over it at the time when the Temple still existed. The answer is that in the time of the first Temple, before Israel defiled the land, the Gentiles did not rule over it but were nourished from the "residue". But when Israel sinned and defiled the land, they, as it were, drove the Shekinah from its place, and it went to another place, and therefore other nations were allowed to rule over the land. For no angel has control of the land of Israel, but only God. When Israel sinned and burned incense to other gods in the Holy Land, the Shekinah was driven from its place, and other gods were associated with it, and so other nations obtained dominion and the prophets died out, and all the higher grades ceased to rule, and dominion was not withdrawn from other nations, because they drew the Shekinah to themselves. Hence in the time of the second Temple the rule of the other nations did not cease, and even less so in the period of the Exile, when the Shekinah found herself among other nations where other chieftains exercise dominion, deriving their sustenance from the Shekinah, which has consorted with them. Thus we see that [85a] when Israel dwelt in their own land and maintained the Temple service, the Shekinah remained among them in privacy, and did not issue from her house openly. Therefore all the prophets who lived in those times drew their inspiration only from her place, as we have said. That was the reason why Jonah fled from the Holy Land, namely, that the prophetic inspiration should not come to him, and he should not have to take the Lord's message. But, you may say, did not the Shekinah reveal itself (to Ezekiel) in Babylon, which is outside the Holy Land? The answer is that, according to an authentic tradition, the words "came expressly" used at the beginning of Ezekiel's prophecy indicate that this was without precedent from the day when the Temple was built, and this prophecy was for a special emergency. Further, the incident took place on the river Khebar (khebar = of old), so called because it was qualified for this from the beginning of the world, and the Shekinah had been constantly revealed on it, as it is written, "And a river went out from Eden to water the garden and from there it parted, etc." (Gen. II, 10). This was one of the four rivers, and there the Shekinah was revealed exceptionally to relieve Israel in their emergency; but at other times it did not appear there. Therefore Jonah left the Holy Land in order that the Shekinah might not rest upon him or appear to him, and hence it says "from the presence of the Lord", and again, "for the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord" (Jon. I, 10). What is the point of all this? It is that just as, in the case of Jonah, the Shekinah did not reveal itself save in the fitting place, so in the case of Abram it did not reveal itself save when he was in fitting company. For from the day when Lot made up his mind to become a renegade, the Holy Spirit departed from Abram; but when Lot left him, straightway the Holy Spirit rested upon him: so it is written, AND THE LORD SAID UNTO ABRAM AFTER THAT LOT WAS SEPARATED FROM HIM. Furthermore, when Abram saw that Lot had reverted to his sinful ways, he was afraid and said to himself, "Perhaps through associating with this man I have lost the holy heritage with which God has endowed me"; hence, when Lot left him, God said to him, LIFT UP NOW THINE EYES AND LOOK FROM THE PLACE WHERE THOU ART. "The place where thou art" means "the place to which thou didst cleave before, and in which thou wast endowed with perfect faith". NORTHWARD AND SOUTHWARD AND EASTWARD AND WESTWARD: These are the same as the "journeys" referred to in verse 3, indicating, like them, the "higher degrees". Abram now received tidings that that perfect faith which he had acquired on his first passage through the land would not depart from him and his descendants for ever; hence it is written, FOR THE LAND WHICH THOU SEEST, TO THEE WILL I GIVE IT AND TO THY SEED FOR EVER: the words "which thou seest" indicate the first grade which he had acquired originally, and which now included and exhibited all the other grades.'

R. Eleazar was once at an inn at Lud, where R. Hizkiah also happened to be. In the course of the night he got up to study the Torah, as did also R. Hizkiah. On seeing him, he said, 'An inn like this is always a meeting-place for the companions.' He then began to discourse on the text: As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons (S. S. II, 3). 'The apple tree,' he said, 'indicates the Holy One, blessed be He, being more delightful than all the other trees, and distinguished among them by its colours. So none can compare with Him; therefore "I delighted in his shadow" -- in his shadow and not in that of the other guardian-angels, even from the time when Abram was in the world, Abram, who was attached to God in love, as it is written, "Abraham my friend" (Is. XLI, 8). His fruit was sweet to my taste refers to Isaac, who was a holy fruit. The words ". In his shadow I delighted and sat down" may also be referred to Jacob, and the words "and his fruit was sweet to my taste" to Joseph, who produced holy fruit in the world. [85b] It is also possible to understand the words "Like an apple tree among the trees of the wood" of Abraham, who smelt sweetly like an apple tree, who was distinguished in faith above all his contemporaries, and who was marked out as unique both above and below, as it is written, "Abraham was one" (Ezek. XXXIII, 24). He was so called because no one else of his contemporaries attained to the virtue of faith in God.' Said R. Hizkiah to him: 'What of the words "And the souls which they made in Haran"?' He replied: 'These did not reach the higher grades which Abraham acquired.' Later on he said to him: 'Another thing I have been told is that Abraham was not called "one" until he had associated with himself Isaac and Jacob. When he had done this and when all three were patriarchs, then Abraham was called "one", and then he became the apple tree distinguished above all the rest of the world.' He said : 'Your explanation is good. According to another explanation, the words "the apple tree", "my beloved", and "in his shadow" all equally indicate the Holy One, blessed be He. "I delighted and sat" : to wit, on the day when God revealed Himself on Mount Sinai and Israel received the Torah and said, "We will do and we will hearken" (Ex. XXIV, 7). "His fruit is sweet to my taste" refers to the words of the Torah which are called "sweeter than honey and the honeycomb" (Ps. XIX, 11). Another explanation refers the "fruit" to the souls of the righteous, who are the fruit of the handiwork of the Almighty and abide with Him above. Listen to this. All the souls in the world, which are the fruit of the handiwork of the Almighty, are all mystically one, but when they descend to this world they are separated into male and female, though these are still conjoined. When they first issue forth, they issue as male and female together. Subsequently, when they descend (to this world) they separate, one to one side and the other to the other, and God afterwards mates them -- God and no other, He alone knowing the mate proper to each. Happy the man who is upright in his works and walks in the way of truth, so that his soul may find its original mate, for then he becomes indeed perfect, and through his perfection the whole world is blessed.' Said R. Hizkiah: 'I have heard the following explanation of the verse "From me is thy fruit found" (Hos. XIV, 9). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to the Community of Israel, "From me assuredly is thy fruit found" -- not my fruit, but thy fruit: the desire of the female produces a vital spirit and is embraced in the vehemence of the male, so that soul is joined with soul and they are made one, each embraced in the other. Afterwards they become two in this world, and thus through the force of the male is produced the fruit of the female. According to another explanation, the fruit of the male is produced through the desire of the female, since if not for the desire of the female for the male no fruit would ever be produced.'

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Now IT CAME TO PASS IN THE DAYS OF AMRAFEL KING OF SHINAR. R. Jose expounded in this connection the text: Who hath raised up one from the East, whom Righteousness calleth to follow him? (Is. XLI, 2). He said: 'This verse has been explained in various ways, but it also contains an esoteric allusion. God, we have learnt, has made seven firmaments on high, all of which acknowledge the glory of the Almighty and are capable of pointing the lesson of true faith. Now there is above these seven a hidden firmament which guides and illumines them. Of this one we cannot discover the true nature, however much we inquire, and therefore it is designated by the interrogative particle Mi (Who), as has been pointed out: hence the Scripture says: "From the womb of Whom (Mi) came forth the ice" (Job XXXVIII, 29), which has been explained to refer to the highest firmament [86a] over the other seven. At the bottom again there is a firmament, the lowest of all, which has no light; and on that account the highest firmament joins with it in such a way as to insert in it the two letters of its own name, so that it is called Yam (sea), being, as it were, the sea of that highest firmament, because all the other firmaments serve as streams (to convey its light), and flow into this lowest one as into a sea; and it thereupon produces fruits and fishes after their kind, and in reference to this David said; "Lo, the sea great and wide, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts" (Ps. CIV, 25). We now see what is meant by the words "Who raised up from the East". The one raised up was Abraham. The words "Righteousness calleth him to follow him" refer to the lowest firmament, which has become "sea". It is this which "giveth nations before him", which executes vengeance and overthrows the enemy. "He giveth nations before him": these are the peoples of the earth. "And maketh him to rule over kings": these are the guardian-angels of the nations above, for when God executes judgement on a people, He does so both below and above. "He pursueth them and passeth on safely" (Is. XLI, 3): this is Abram who pursued them while God passed before him and slew them, as it says, "Peace passeth on" (Ibid.), "Peace" referring to God. "Even by a way that he had not gone by his feet": if not with his feet, how then did Abram go -- on the clouds or with horses and chariots? No: what it means is that it was not an angel or a messenger, but God Himself, that went before Abram, the word "feet" here referring to the angels, who are subject to God, as in the verse "And his feet shall stand in that day" (Zech. XIV, 4). Another explanation of the verse is as follows. When God "awoke" the world to bring Abram and to draw him near to Himself, this was because Jacob was destined to issue from him and to establish twelve tribes who should all be righteous in the sight of God. "Whom he calleth in righteousness": because God was calling him constantly from the day that the world was created, as it is written, "calling the generations from the beginning" (Is. XLI, 4). "To his foot": i.e. to attach him to His service and to bring him near to Himself. R. Judah says: "Who aroused from the East" this refers to Abraham, who received his first impulse to seek God from the East. For when he saw the sun issuing in the morning from the East, he was first moved to think that that was God, and said "this is the King that created me", and worshipped it the whole day. In the evening when the sun went down and the moon commenced to shine, he said, "Verily this rules over the orb which I worshipped the whole day, since the latter is darkened before it and does not shine any more." So he served the moon all that night. In the morning when he saw the darkness depart and the East grow light, he said, "Of a surety there is a king who rules over all these orbs and orders them." So when God saw Abram's longing to find Him, He revealed Himself unto him and spoke with him, as it is written, "Righteousness called to him to follow him.'"

R. Isaac explained in connection with Abraham the verse: I am the Lord speaking righteousness, declaring what is right (Is. XLV, 19). [86b] He said: 'All God's words are truth and His acts are righteousness. For when God first created the world it was unstable and rocked to and fro. Said God to the world, Wherefore rockest thou? It answered: Sovereign of the Universe, I cannot be firm, because I have no foundation on which to rest. God thereupon said: Behold, I intend to raise up in thee a righteous man, Abraham, who will love Me. Hearing this, the world straightway became firmly established; therefore it is written, "these are the generations of the heavens and the earth behibaream (when they were created), which by a transposition of letters becomes beabraham (for the sake of Abraham).' R. Hiya enlarged upon the words "declaring what is right". He said: 'The world continued to remonstrate with God, saying, "From this Abraham will issue descendants [4] who will destroy the Temple and bum the Law." God replied: "He will also have one descendant, namely Jacob, who will be the father of twelve tribes who will all be righteous." Forthwith the world was established for his sake, and therefore God is said to be "declaring (the advent of) things that are right".' R. Eleazar said: 'It has been noted that there is a difference between "speaking" (dober) and "declaring" (maggid). "Speaking" is from a revealed source, an outer grade, not of the highest; therefore it is applied here to "righteousness" (zedek). But "declaring" indicates the inner grade which controls that belonging to "speaking"; hence it says here "declaring things that are right" (mesharim), these referring to the higher grade in which is that of Jacob.' Said R. Isaac to him, 'Is there not a text "he declares to you his covenant" (Deut. IV, 13)?' He replied: 'The "covenant" also is a grade superior to that referred to in the expression "speaking righteousness". One must be careful too to note that although "speaking" is lower than "declaring", it still actually designates a high grade and is very pregnant in signification.'

R. Eleazar was once on the way to visit his father-in-law along with R. Hiya and R. Jose and R. Hizkiah. Said R. Eleazar, 'It is borne in upon me that stirring above is produced only in response to an impulse from below, and depends upon the longing of that below.' He illustrated this from the text: O God, keep thou not silence, hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God (Ps. LXXXIII, 2), which he expounded thus. 'David said: "O God, keep thou not silence." These words represent an impulse to Elohim to exert His sway. David said in effect: "Elohim, cease not to rouse the Highest and to associate thyself with the Right." Wherefore so? Because "thine enemies make a tumult, etc.", they have consulted together with one consent, against Thee do they make a covenant. "Therefore, O God, be not silent," as explained. For when Elohim is joined with the Right, then the enemies are crushed, as it is written, "Thy right hand, O Lord, is glorious in power, thy right hand, O Lord, dasheth in pieces the enemy." Note that, when all those kings joined together to make war on Abram, they designed to make away with him. But so soon as they got possession of Lot, his brother's son, they went off (as it is written, AND THEY TOOK LOT, ABRAM'S BROTHER'S SON, AND HIS GOODS AND DEPARTED), the reason being that Lot closely resembled Abram, so that thinking they had Abram, they went off. The reason of their enmity to Abram was that Abram weaned men from idolatry and taught them to worship God. Also God incited them to make their invasion in order to aggrandise Abram and to attract him to his service. Esoterically speaking, when Abram started to pursue them, then God "did not keep silent" until the whole was linked up with Abram; then when the whole was linked up with Abram, then all those kings were crushed before him, as we have said.'

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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:52 pm

Part 3 of 4

AND MELCHIZEDEK KING OF SALEM BROUGHT FORTH BREAD AND WINE. R. Simeon adduced here the text "In Salem also is his tabernacle" (Ps. LXXVI, 3). He said: 'When God decided to create the world, He first produced a flame of a scintillating lamp. He blew spark against spark, causing darkness and fire, and produced from the recesses [87a] of the abyss a certain drop which He joined with the flame, and from the two He created the world. The flame ascended and encircled itself with the Left, and the drop ascended and encircled itself with the Right. They then crossed and changed places, going up and down alternately until they were closely interlocked, and there issued from between them a full wind. Then those two sides were made one, and the wind was set between them and they were entwined with one another, and so there was harmony above and harmony below; the grade was firmly established, the letter he was crowned with vau and vau with he, and so he ascended and was joined in a perfect bond. This is alluded to in die words "Melchizedek (lit. king of righteousness) king of Salem" (lit. completeness), i.e. the king who rules with complete sovereignty. When is he completely king? On the Day of Atonement, when all faces are illumined. According to another explanation, "Melchizedek" alludes to the lower world, and "king of Salem" to the upper world; and the verse indicates that both are intertwined inseparably, two worlds like one, so that the lower world also is the whole, and the whole is one. "Brought forth bread and wine": signifying that both of these are in it. AND HE WAS PRIEST OF GOD MOST HIGH: i.e. one world ministers to the other. "Priest" refers to the Right, and "Most High God" to the upper world; and hence a priest is required to bless the world. For this lower world receives blessings when it is associated with a High Priest; hence there is a special force in the words "and he blessed him and said, Blessed is Abram to the Most High God". After this model it behoves the priest on earth to intertwine his fingers when blessing in the synagogue in order that he may be linked with the Right and that the two worlds may be linked together. BLESSED IS ABRAM. The words of the text are a prototype of the formula of blessing (used by the Israelites). "Blessed is Abram" (in the sense we have given to it) corresponds to "blessed art Thou". "To the Most High God" corresponds to "O Lord our God". "Possessor of heaven and earth" corresponds to "king of the universe". Further, AND HE BLESSED HIM indicates the course of blessing from below to above; BLESSED IS THE MOST HIGH GOD indicates from above to below. AND HE GAVE HIM A TENTH OF ALL: so that he should cleave to the place where the link was formed with the lower world.'

As they were going along they came across R. Yesa and a certain Judean with him who was explaining the text "To David: Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul" (Ps. XXV, 1). He said: 'Why is the inscription of this psalm simply "to David" and not "A Psalm of David"? It is because the real meaning is "for the sake of David", i.e. of his grade. "Unto thee, O Lord", i.e. upward-striving; "my soul". i.e. David himself, his original grade; "I lift up": to wit, I cause to ascend, since David was ever striving to rise to a higher grade and to link himself to it firmly. Similarly it was for the sake of his grade that David uttered the words "To David: Bless the Lord, O my soul" (where the word eth indicates his desire to be linked above) "and all that is within me bless his holy name" (Ps. CIII, 1), referring to the "beasts of the field" which are called "inwards".' Said R. Eleazar to R. Yesa, 'I see that you have come in. company with the Shekinah.' He said, "Assuredly it is so. I have been walking with him three parasangs, and he has told me ever so many excellent things. I hired him as a porter, not knowing that he was the shining light which I have discovered him to be.' R. Eleazar then said to the man, 'What is your name ?' He said: 'Joezer'. Whereupon he said: 'Let Joezer and Eleazar sit together.' So they sat down on a rock [87b] in that field. The Judean then commenced to discourse on the text I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions, for mine own sake, and thy sins I will not remember (Is. XLIII, 25). He said: 'The word ''I'' occurs here twice: once in reference to Sinai (cf. "I am the Lord thy God", Ex. XX, 2), and the other in reference to the creation of the world (cf. "I have made the earth and created man upon it", Is. XLV, 12), to show that there is no division between the upper and lower worlds. "That blotteth out thy transgressions": not merely removing them, so that they shall never be seen more. "For mine own sake": i.e. for the sake of the mercy which I dispense, as it is written, "For the Lord thy God is a merciful God" (Deut. IV, 31). Another explanation of the words "that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake" is as follows. Sinners in this world impair the influence of the upper world, for when they sin, mercy and the supernal light depart, and the stream of blessing does not descend to this world, and this grade (of mercy) does not take up the blessings from above in order to convey them to the lower world. Hence God acts "for His own sake", in order that the stream of blessing should not be withheld. Similarly it is written, "See now that I, I am he" (Deut. XXXII, 39), to show that there is no division between the upper and the lower. See now, in this way, when there are righteous men in the world, blessings are sent to all worlds. When Abram came, blessings were sent to the world, as it is written, "And I shall bless thee, and be thou a blessing, i.e. that blessing should be found both above and below for his sake. When Isaac came he taught the world that there is a judge executing judgement above to punish the wicked, and he invoked justice upon the world in order that its inhabitants might feat God. When Jacob came he obtained mercy for the world and perfected men's faith in God. Hence in the days of Abram MELCHIZEDEK KING OF SALEM (salem = completeness), i.e. God whose throne was then established in its place and whose sovereignty therefore became complete, BROUGHT OUT BREAD AND WINE, i.e. produced the appropriate food for the whole world, and did not withhold blessing from all the worlds; from the upper grades He brought forth food and blessings for all the worlds. AND HE WAS A PRIEST TO THE MOST HIGH GOD, the whole thus being in the most perfect order; to show that as the wicked upset the world and cause blessing to be withheld, so the righteous bring blessing to the world and for their sakes all its inhabitants are blessed. AND HE GAVE HIM A TENTH OF ALL, to wit, of those blessings which issue from "all", the source of all the blessings which descend upon the world. According to another explanation, God gave Abram a tenth, namely, the grade [5] in which all the sources of faith and blessing are established, and which is the tenth, one out of ten and ten out of a hundred; and from this point onwards Abram was fully confirmed from above.' Said R. Eleazar to him: 'What you say is right.' R. Eleazar further asked him what his business was. He said: 'I was a teacher of children in my town till R. Jose came, when they left me and went to him. Nevertheless the townsfolk used to pay me my salary as before. Not wishing, however, to take money for nothing, I entered into the service of this Sage.' Said R. Eleazar: 'This is a case where my father's blessings are required.' They went to R. Simeon, and the Judean used to study all day before him. One day he was studying the subject of washing the hands, and said: 'Whoever does not wash his hands as required, although he is punished in the next world is also punished in this world, because he endangers his health. And similarly, he who washes his hands as required procures for himself blessings above which rest upon his hands, and is also blessed with wealth.' [88a] Afterwards R. Simeon caught sight of him washing his hands and using a great quantity of water, and he exclaimed: 'Fill his hands with thy blessings.' And so it came to pass, since he found a treasure and grew rich, and he used to study the Torah and give sustenance to the poor every day and smile upon them benignantly, so that R. Simeon applied to him the verse "And thou shalt rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel."'

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AFTER THESE THINGS. R. Judah discoursed on the text: I am my beloved's and his desire is towards me (S. S. VII, 11). He said: 'The inner meaning of this verse is that the stirring below is accompanied by a stirring above, for there is no stirring above till there is a stirring below. Further, blessings from above descend only where there is some substance and not mere emptiness. We learn this from the wife of Obadiah, to whom Elisha said, "Tell me, what hast thou in the house" (II Kings, IV, 2), meaning that blessings from above would not descend on an empty table or an empty place. When she said: "Thy handmaid hath nothing in the house save a cruse of oil" -- only enough to smear her little finger -- he said to her: "You have relieved me, for I did not see how blessings were to descend from above on to an empty place, but since you have some oil, this will provide a place sufficient for the purpose." (The connection of "oil" with "blessing" is found in Psalm CXXXIII, where it says "like the good oil," etc., and then "for there the Lord commanded the blessing, life for evermore". It is true, the immediate comparison in the passage is with dew, not oil, but the two mean the same thing, as this dew was distilled by God from the supernal oil. Wine and oil belong respectively to the Left and the Right sides, and from the Right side blessings descend on the world, and from there the holy kingdom is anointed. Thus because it was fixed upon below, oil was first prepared above as the source of blessings. From the stirring [88b] of this supernal oil the lower oil was poured on David and Solomon to bring blessings on their descendants. This is derived from a collation of the text "and the oil stood", in II Kings IV, 6, with the text "the root of Jesse which standeth for an ensign of the nations", Is. XI, 10.) We derive the same lesson from the fact that the table of shew-bread, from which issued blessings, was not to be left empty a single moment; and on that account we do not say grace over an empty table, since blessings from above do not rest on an empty table. To resume, then, the verse "I am my beloved's and towards me is his desire" indicates that "first of all I am my beloved's, and then, in consequence, his desire is towards me; first I prepare for him a place, and then his desire is towards me". The verse may also be explained by reference to the dictum that the Shekinah is not found in the company of sinners, but when a man exerts himself to purify himself and to draw near to God, then the Shekinah rests on him. So "I am my beloved's" to begin with, and then "his desire is towards me".'

***

AFTER THESE THINGS, i.e. after Abram pursued the kings and God slew them, Abram felt some qualms lest he had perchance forfeited some of his reward for converting men to the service of God, seeing that now some of his fellow creatures had been killed through him. Therefore God said to him: FEAR NOT, ABRAM, I AM THY SHIELD, THY REWARD IS EXCEEDING GREAT: you have received a reward for them, for none of them shall ever be accounted innocent. THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME UNTO ABRAM IN A VISION SAYING. "Vision" is the grade in which all figures are beheld. R. Simeon said: 'Up to the time when Abram was circumcised, only one grade spoke with him, namely Vision, which is also mentioned in the verse "who seeth the vision of Shaddai" (Num. XXIV, 4). After his circumcision, all grades combined with this grade, and in this way God spoke with him. [89a] It may be objected that according to our interpretation the verses "and the Lord appeared to Abram", "and Abram journeyed to the South", "and he built there an altar", indicate that he had attained to these higher grades; how, then, can you say that before he was circumcised these grades did not combine with this one to speak with him? The answer is that previously God gave wisdom to Abraham to cleave to Him and to know the true meaning of faith, but only this lower grade actually spoke with him; but when he was circumcised, all the higher grades joined this lower grade to speak with him, and thus Abraham reached the summit of perfection. See now, before a man is circumcised he is not attached to the name of God, but when he is circumcised he enters into the name and is attached to it. Abram, it is true, was attached to the name before he was circumcised, but not in the proper manner, but only through God's extreme love for him; subsequently He commanded him to circumcise himself, and then he was vouchsafed the covenant which links all the supernal grades, a covenant of union which links the whole together so that every part is intertwined. Hence, till Abram was circumcised, God's word with him was only in a vision, as has been said.'

Consider this. When God created the world, it was created only through a covenant, as it is written, "Bereshith (b'rith esh, covenant of fire), God created"; and it is further written, "If my covenant of day and night stand not, if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth" (Jer. XXXIII, 25), since there is a covenant of union that day and night shall not be separated. R. Eleazar said: 'When God created the world, it was on condition that if Israel when they came into the world should accept the Torah, it would be well, but if not, then the world should revert to chaos. Nor was the world firmly established until Israel stood before Mount Sinai and accepted the Torah. From that day God has been creating fresh worlds, to wit, the marriages of human beings, for from that time God has been making matches and proclaiming "the daughter of so-and-so for so-and-so"; these are the worlds which He creates.'

***

I AM A SHIELD TO THEE: this "I" is the first grade to which he was attached at the start. [90b] AND ABRAM SAID, O LORD GOD: the two names indicate the union of the upper and the lower world. WHAT WILT THOU GIVE TO ME, SEEING THAT I GO CHILDLESS? i.e. not having a son, and we have learnt that he who has no son is called childless. The words "What wilt thou give to me" would seem to indicate some want of faith on the part of Abraham, but this is not so. God said to him: "I am thy shield," to wit, in this world, "thy reward is very great", to wit, in the next world. Abram, however, knew from the wisdom which he had acquired that a man who has not begotten a son is not rewarded with the future world, and he therefore said, "How canst thou give me (such a reward), seeing that I have not merited it ?" (Hence we learn that a man who is not vouchsafed sons in this world is not granted in the future world the privilege of entering within the curtain.) Abram saw from his horoscope that he was fated not to have children; therefore HE BROUGHT HIM FORTH ABROAD; that is, God said to him: "Take no notice of that, for through my name thou shalt have a son"; hence it says So (Koh) SHALL THY SEED BE. The word Koh indicates the Holy Name, which was now linked to him from that side. It is the gateway of prayer through which a man obtains his request; it is the side which comes from the side of Geburah (might), from which Isaac also came. The side of Geburah is called Koh, because from it come fruit and produce to the world, and not from the side of the stars and constellations. AND HE BELIEVED IN THE LORD: he clave to the higher and not the lower; he believed in the Lord and not in stars and constellations: in the Lord who had promised to give him great recompense in the future world. "He believed in the Lord": namely in the grade which was vouchsafed him, that from there seed would come to him to bear children in the world. AND HE COUNTED IT TO HIMSELF FOR KINDNESS: i.e. although this koh was pure justice, Abram counted it as mercy. Another explanation is that he linked the upper with the lower to join them together, in this way. According to tradition, God told Abram that he would not beget till his name had been changed to Abraham. The question has been asked, did he not beget Ishmael while he was still Abram? The answer is that he did not beget the son who was promised him while he was still Abram. Then he only bore for the lower world, hut when he obtained the name Abraham and entered into the covenant he bore for the upper world. Hence Abram did not bear for the upper union, but Abraham did, as we have said, and he was linked above through Isaac.'

***

Now WHEN ABRAM WAS NINETY-NINE YEARS OLD, ETC. In connection with this verse R. Abba discoursed on the text: For who is God save the Lord, and who is a rock save our God? (II Sam. XXII, 32). He said: 'These words of King David may be paraphrased: What (heavenly) ruler or chieftain is there who can do anything without the Lord, anything save what he has been commanded by the Holy One, blessed be He, since all are subject to Him and cannot do anything of themselves ? And what mighty power is there that has any force in himself save what he derives from our God ?Another explanation is that a vision shown by the stars is not like a vision shown by God, for they show a thing and God changes it. And again, "Who is a rock (tsur) save our God?" i.e. there is no fashioner (tsayar) who fashions form within form and finishes it in all its details and inserts in it the heavenly soul which bears likeness to the Deity. See now, when desire brings man and woman together, there issues from their union a son in whom both their forms are combined, because God has fashioned him in a mould partaking of both. Therefore a man should sanctify himself at such time, in order that the form may be as perfect as possible.' Said R. Hiya, 'How great are the works of the Holy One, blessed be He, for man is fashioned as a microcosm of the world, and every day God creates a world by bringing the proper couples together, and He fashions the forms of the offspring before they are born. See now what R. Simeon has told us, in explanation of the verse "This is the book of the generations of Adam", that God showed Adam every generation and its students, etc. This does not simply mean that he saw through the spirit of prophecy that they were destined to come into the world, like one who in wisdom foresees the future, but it means that he literally saw with his eyes the form in which they were destined to exist in the world. He was able to do this because from the day on which the world was created all the souls which were destined to come to life among mankind were existing before God in that very form which they were destined to assume [91a] on earth (in the same way that the righteous after death are clothed in a form similar to that which they wore in this world), and so Adam saw them with his eyes. Nor can it be thought that after he saw them they disappeared, for all God's creations exist before Him permanently until they descend below. Similarly when Moses said "with him that standeth here this day with us, etc." (Deut. XXIX, 14), we understand him to have indicated that all who were yet to be born were there. (This point demands a little more consideration. The words of the text are, "him that standeth here ... and him that is not here with us this day". The word "standeth" is omitted from the second half of the clause to show that the future generations were in fact standing there, but they were not visible. It may be asked, why were they not visible here in the same way that they were visible to Adam, seeing that here there was more reason. The reason is that when the Torah was given to Israel, they beheld and gazed upon other sights and other grades, and they yearned to contemplate the glory of their Master, and therefore they had no eyes but for that.) The same idea is expressed in the words of the Psalmist, "Thine eyes did see mine unperfect substance" (Ps. CXXXIX, 16), viz. the other celestial form resembling the one on earth. Thus we understand the words "Who is a tsur like our God", i.e. who is so excellent a fashioner (tsayar) as God who fashioned all. It is also possible to explain the words "For who is God besides the Lord, etc." in a more esoteric way. The word for "God" here is El, which signifies the union of all grades. Now there is a text "El hath indignation every day" (Ps. VII, 12), which might lead us to suppose that it designates a separate grade. Hence it says here "Who is El without Jehovah", indicating that El is never alone disjoined from Jehovah; and similarly there is no "Rock" (signifying the attribute of justice) "without our God".'

Until Abram was circumcised, God spoke to him only in a vision, as it says above, "The word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision" (Gen. XV, 1). By "vision" we understand the grade in which all figures are apparent, and which symbolises the covenant. This seems to contradict what was said before, that till Abram was circumcised he was addressed only by that grade to which the other grades are not attached. The truth is that this grade is indeed the reflection of all the higher grades, and was rendered possible through that reflection; it reflects all the colours (symbolic of the divine attributes) -- white at the right, red at the left, and a further colour compounded of all colours. In this reflection God stood over Abram and spoke with him, although he was not circumcised. Of Balaam it is said that he saw "the vision of Shaddai" (Num. XXIV, 3), and of Abraham that God spoke to him "in a vision", simply. The difference is that Balaam saw only those (angels) below the Almighty, whereas Abram saw the He in which all the celestial figures are reflected. Till Abram was circumcised, he was addressed only by that degree which we have mentioned; after he was circumcised, then THE LORD APPEARED UNTO ABRAM, i.e. all the other [91b] grades appeared over this grade, and this grade addressed him without reserve. Thus when Abram was circumcised he emerged from the unripe state and entered into the holy covenant, and was crowned with the sacred crown, and entered into the covenant on which the world is based, and thus the world was firmly established for his sake. For it is written, "But for my covenant, I had not set the ordinances of heaven and earth", and also "There are the generations of heaven and earth when they were created" -- the word behibaream (when they were created) can be read anagrammatically both beabraham (for the sake of Abraham) and b'he b'raam (he created them with He), and both come to the same thing.

When God showed Adam all future generations, he saw them all in the Garden of Eden in the form which they were destined to assume in this world. When he saw David -- so we have been told -- with no span of life at all apportioned to him, he was grieved, and gave him seventy years of his own; that is why Adam lived seventy years short of the thousand, the rest being given to David. The fact of David's only having seventy years from Adam, the first man, symbolises something in the higher world, as does everything here below.

Note that all the figures of souls that are to be born stand before God in pairs, and afterwards when they come to this world God mates them. R. Isaac says: 'God announces, The daughter of so-and-so for so-and-so.' R. Jose said: 'How can that be, seeing that, as the Scripture tells us, "there is nothing new under the sun"?' R. Judah said: 'It is true that God creates nothing new under the sun; but this is done above.' R. Jose further asked : 'Why is there a proclamation, seeing that, as we have been told by R. Hizkiah in the name of R. Hiya, a man's wife is assigned to him at the very moment when he is born ?' Said R. Abba: 'Happy are the righteous whose souls are beatified before the Holy King before they come into this world. For we have learnt that when God sends souls into the world they are formed into pairs of male and female, and thus united are placed in the hands of an emissary who has charge of conception, and whose name is Night. After that they are separated, and subsequently taken down among mankind (not always both at the same time). When their time of marriage arrives, God, who knows each spirit and soul, joins them as at first, and proclaims their union. Thus when they are joined they become one body and one soul, right and left in unison, and in this way "there is nothing new under the sun". You may object that there is also a dictum that "a man only obtains the wife he deserves". This is so, the meaning being that if he leads a virtuous life he is privileged to marry his own true mate, whose soul emerged at the same time as his.' R. Hiya asked: 'Where should a man of good character look for his soul-mate?' He replied: 'There is a dictum that a man should sell all hi" property in order to obtain in marriage a daughter of a scholar, for the special treasure of God is deposited with the learned in the Torah. We have also learnt in the esoteric Mishnah that one whose soul is a second time on earth can through prayer anticipate another in marrying a woman who is really destined for him; this is the meaning of the warning of the colleagues, "it is permissible to affiance a woman on the festival, lest another through prayer anticipate him"; and they were right. The word "another" is used significantly; and it is for this reason that marriages constitute a difficult task for the Almighty, for in all cases "the ways of the Lord are right" (Hos. XIV, 10).' R. Judah sent a question to R. Eleazar. 'I know', he said, 'about marriages in heaven, but I would like to ask, from where do those whose souls are a second time on earth obtain their mates?' The reply R. Eleazar sent him was this: 'It is written: "How shall we do for wives for them that remain ?" (Jud. XXI, 7), and again, "and you shall catch every man his wife, etc." (Ibid. 2]). This story of the Benjaminites shows us how it can be done, and hence the dictum "lest another anticipate him through his prayers".' [92a] Said R. Judah: 'No wonder we say that marriages constitute a difficult problem for the Almighty! Happy the lot of Israel who learn from the Torah the ways of God and all hidden things, and even the most secret of His mysteries! "The Law of the Lord is perfect", says the Scripture. Happy the lot of him who occupies himself with the Torah without cessation, for if a man abandons the Torah for one moment, it is as if he abandoned eternal life, as it says, "For it is thy life and the length of thy days" (Deut. XXX, 20), and again, "For length of days and years of life and peace shall they add to thee" (Prov. 1II, 2).'

Now ABRAM WAS NINETY YEARS OLD, ETC. R. Jose discoursed on the text: Thy people are all righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever (Is. LX, 21). He said: 'Happy are Israel above all peoples, in that the Holy One, blessed be He, has called them righteous. For so we have learnt from tradition that there are a hundred and twenty-eight thousand winged creatures who flit about over the world ready to catch up any voice that they hear; for, as tradition tells us, there is nothing done in the world which does not produce a certain sound, and this soars to the firmament and is caught up by those winged creatures, who carry it aloft to be judged, whether for good or ill, as it is written, "For a bird of the heaven shall carry the voice and that which hath wings shall tell the matter" (Eccl. X, 20).' At what time do they judge the voice? R. Hiya said: 'At the time when a man is asleep in his bed, when his soul leaves him and testifies against him; it is then that the voice is judged, for so it says, "from her that lieth in thy bosom keep the doors of thy mouth" (Mich. VII, 5), because it is she who testifies against a man.' R. Judah said: 'Whatever a man does in the day his soul testifies against him at night.' We have learnt as follows: R. Eleazar says: 'At the beginning of the first hour of the night, when the day is expiring and the sun going down, the keeper of the keys of the sun finishes his process through the twelve gates that were open in the day, and they are all closed. A herald then proclaims to the guardians of the gates, "Each one to his place to lock the gates." When the herald has finished, all of them come together and go aloft without uttering a sound. Then the accusing angels below begin to stir and to fly about the world, and the moon begins to shine and the trumpeters sound a blast. At the second blast, the angels of song start up and chant before their Lord. Emissaries of chastisement also start up, and punishment commences in the world. Then the souls of men who are sleeping give their testimony and are declared guilty, but the Holy One, blessed be He, deals kindly with men and allows the soul to return to its place. At midnight, when the cock crows, a wind blows from the North, but at the same time a current from the South arises and strikes against it, causing it to subside. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, rises as is His wont to disport himself with the righteous in the Garden of Eden. Happy the portion of the man who rises at that hour to study with zest the Torah, for the Holy One, blessed be He, and all the righteous listen to his voice; for so it is written, "Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken for thy voice, cause me to hear it" (S. S. VIII, 13). Nay more, God draws round him a certain thread of grace which secures him the protection both of the higher and the lower angels, as it is written, "By day the Lord will command his grace, and at night 1 shall chant his song" (Ps. XLII, 9).' R. Hizkiah said: 'Whoever studies the Torah at that hour has constantly a portion in the future world.' Said R. Jose to him: 'What do you mean by "constantly"?' He replied: 'I have learnt that at midnight, when the Holy One, blessed be He, enters the Garden of Eden, all the plants of the Garden are watered more plenteously by the stream which is called [92b] "the ancient stream" and "the stream of delight", the waters of which never cease to flow. When a man rises and studies the Torah at this hour, the water of that stream is, as it were, poured on his head and he is watered by it along with the other plants of the Garden of Eden. Moreover, because all the righteous in the Garden listen to him, he is given a right to be watered by that stream, and in this way he has a portion constantly in the future world.'

R. Abba was journeying from Tiberias to meet other learned scholars at the house of his father-in-law. He was accompanied by his son, R. Jacob. Coming to Kfar Tarsha, they decide to spend the night there. Said R. Abba to his host, 'Have you a cock here?' He said, 'Why?' 'Because,' he said, 'I want to get up precisely at midnight.' He answered, 'You have no need of a cock for that. I have a water-clock by my bed from which the water issues drop by drop till exactly midnight, when all the water is emptied and the wheel swings back with a great noise which wakens the whole house. I made it for the sake of a certain old man who used to get up every night at midnight to study the Torah.' Said R. Abba, 'Blessed be God for sending me here.' At midnight the wheel of the water-clock swung back, and R. Abba and R. Jacob got up. They heard the voice of their host, who was sitting in the lower part of the house with his two sons and saying: 'It is written: Midnight I will rise to give thanks to thee because of thy righteous judgments (Ps. CXIX, 62). Since the word "at" is omitted, we may take "Midnight" as an appellation of the Holy One, blessed be He, who is addressed thus by David because He is to be found with His retinue at midnight, that being the hour when He enters the Garden of Eden to converse with the righteous.' Said R. Abba to R. Jacob: 'Truly we have now an opportunity to associate with the Shekinah.' So they went and sat by him, and said to him, 'Repeat what you just said, for it is excellent. Where did you get it from ?' He replied: 'I learnt it from my grandfather. [6] He told me that during the first three hours of the night the accusing angels below are actively going about the world, but at midnight precisely God enters the Garden of Eden and the accusations below cease. These nightly ceremonies above take place only at midnight precisely; we know this from what it says of Abraham, that "the night was divided for them" (Gen. XIV, 15); also from the words "and it came to pass at the middle of the night" in the account of the Exodus (Ex. XII, 29), and from many other places in the Scripture. David knew this, because -- so the old man told me -- his kingship depended on this; and therefore he used to rise at this hour and chant praises, and for this reason he addressed God as "Midnight". He also said, "I rise to give thanks to Thee for Thy righteous judgements", because this is the fount of justice, and the judgements of earthly kings derive from here; therefore David never neglected to rise and sing praises at this hour.' R. Abba came and kissed him, saying, 'Of a surety it is so. Blessed be God who has sent me here! For night is the time of judgement in every place, as we have fully established, and as has been discussed in the presence of R. Simeon.' The young son of the inn-keeper thereupon asked: 'If so, why does it say "midnight"?' He replied: 'It is laid down that the heavenly Majesty rises at midnight.' Said the boy: 'I can give another explanation.' Said R. Abba: 'Speak, my child; for the voice of the Lamp [7] will speak through thy mouth.' He thereupon said: 'What I have heard is this. Night is in truth the time of the royal judgement, and that judgement extends to all parts alike. Midnight, however, is fed from two sides, from justice and from clemency; only the first half of the night is the time of judgement, but the second half is illumined from the side of clemency (hesed). Therefore David said "Midnight".' R. Abba rose and placed his hands on his head and blessed him. He said: 'I thought indeed that wisdom was to be found only in a few favoured pious ones. Now I see that even children in the generation of R. Simeon are endowed with heavenly wisdom. Happy art thou, R. Simeon! Woe to the generation when thou departest from it "
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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:52 pm

Part 4 of 4

So they sat till [93a] morning studying the Torah. R. Abba then discoursed on the text: Thy people are all righteous, they shall for ever inherit the earth, a branch of my planting, etc. (Is. LX, 21). He said: 'Our colleagues have pointed out that these words cannot be taken literally, seeing how many sinners there are in Israel who transgress the precepts of the Law. The meaning is, as we have learnt in the esoteric teaching of our Mishnah: "Happy are Israel who bring an acceptable offering to the Almighty by circumcising their sons on the eighth day. They thereby become the portion of the 'Zaddik (Righteous One) who is the foundation of the world', and are called righteous; and therefore 'they shall for ever inherit the earth'. They are 'the branch of my planting': that is, a branch of those shoots which God planted in the Garden of Eden, and of which the 'earth' mentioned here is one; hence Israel have a goodly portion in the future world, as it is written 'the righteous shall inherit the earth' (Ps. XXXVII, 29)." We have further learnt: "The reason why the name Abraham occurs for the first time in connection with the circumcision is that when he was circumcised he became associated with the letter Hi, and the Shekinah rested on him."' Said R. Abba: 'Happy are Israel in that God has chosen them from all peoples and has given them this sign of the covenant; for whoever has this sign of the covenant will not descend to Gehinnom if he guards it properly, not subjecting it to another power or playing false with the name of the King; for to betray this sign is to betray the name of God, as it is written, "they have dealt treacherously against the Lord in that they have born strange children" (Hos. V, 7).' Said R. Abba further: 'When a man takes up his son to initiate him in this covenant, God calls to the ministering angels and says, "See what a creature I have made in the world." At that moment Elijah traverses the world in four sweeps and presents himself there; and for this reason we have been taught that it behoves the father to prepare an extra chair for his honour, and to say "this is the chair of Elijah"; and if he neglects to do so, Elijah does not visit him nor go up and testify before the Almighty that the circumcision has taken place. Why has Elijah to testify? For this reason. When God said to him "What dost thou here, Elijah ?" (I Kings XIX, 9), he answered, "I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of Hosts, for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant." Said God to him: "As thou livest, wherever my sons imprint this sign upon their flesh, thou shalt be there, and the mouth which charged Israel with forsaking the covenant shall testify that they are observing it." Our teachers have also taught that the reason why Elijah was punished was because he brought false charges against God's children.'

By this time it was full daylight and they rose to go, but the host came to them and said: 'Will you not finish the subject on which you were engaged to-night ?' They said to him: 'What do you mean?' He said: 'To-morrow you have a chance of seeing the sponsor of the covenant, [8] for to-morrow is the celebration of the circumcision of my son, and my wife begs you to stay.' Said R. Abba: 'We are invited to a pious act, and if we stay, it will be to behold the divine presence.' They accordingly stayed the whole of that day. [93b] When night came the host brought together all his friends and they studied the Torah all that night and not one of them slept. Said the host to them, 'May it please you that each one should give an exposition of the Torah.'

Then one began on the text: For that there was an uncovering of flesh ill Israel, for that the people offered themselves willingly, bless ye the Lord (Jud. V, 2). He said: 'The reason why Deborah and Barak commenced their song with these words was as follows. The world, as we have been taught, rests only upon this covenant of circumcision, according to the verse in Jeremiah (XXXIII, 25), "If not for my covenant day and night, I had not set the ordinances of heaven and earth." Hence as long as Israel observe this covenant, the heaven and earth go on in their appointed course. But if Israel neglect this covenant, then heaven and earth are disturbed, and blessing is not vouchsafed to the world. Now in the time of the Judges the Gentiles gained power over Israel only because they neglected this covenant, to this extent, that they did not uncover the flesh after circumcision: this is indicated by the words "And the children of Israel forsook the Lord." Hence God delivered them into the hand of Sisera, until Deborah came and made all Israel vow to circumcise properly; then their enemies fell before them. Similarly, as we have learnt, God said to Joshua, "Do you not know that the Israelites are not circumcised properly, as the flesh has not been uncovered; how then can you expect to lead them into the land and subdue their enemies?" Hence God said to him, "Circumcise again the children of Israel a second time" (Josh. V, 2); and until the uncovering was performed, they did not enter the land and their enemies were not subdued. So here, when Israel vowed to observe this sign, their enemies were overcome and blessing returned to the land.'

Another one then discoursed on the text: And it came to pass on the way at the lodging place that the Lord met him and sought to kill him. He said: 'By "him" is here meant Moses. Said God to him: "How can you think to bring Israel out of Egypt and to humble a great king, when you have forgotten my covenant, since your son is not circumcised?" Forthwith "he sought to slay him": that is, as we have learnt, Gabriel came down in a flame of fire to destroy him, having the appearance of a burning serpent which sought to swallow him. The form of a serpent was chosen as emblematical of the king of Egypt, who is compared to a serpent (Ezek. XXIX, 3)' Zipporah, however, saw in time and circumcised her son, so that Moses was released; so it is written, "And Zipporah took a flint and cut off the foreskin of her son", being guided by a sudden inspiration.'

Another then discoursed on the text: And Joseph said to his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you, and they came near (Gen. XLV, 4.).He said: 'Seeing that they were already standing by him, why did he tell them to come near? The reason was that when he said to them "I am Joseph your brother", they were dumbfounded, seeing his royal state, so he showed them the sign of the covenant and said to them: "It is through this that I have attained to this estate, through keeping this intact." From this we learn that whoever keeps intact this sign of the covenant is destined for kingship. Another example is Boaz, who said to Ruth, "As the Lord liveth, lie down until the morning" (Ruth III, 13). By this adjuration he exorcised his passion, and because he guarded the covenant he became the progenitor of the greatest lineage of kings, and of the Messiah, whose name is linked with that of God.'

Another then discoursed on the text: Though an host should encamp against me, ... in this (zoth) will I be confident (Ps. XXVII, 3). He said: 'We have learnt that the word zoth (this) alludes to the sign of the covenant, which is always on a man's person and also has its counterpart above. If so, it may be said, why should David alone be confident in it and not everyone else? The answer is that this zoth was attached to him in a peculiar degree, being the crown of the kingdom. [9] It was because David did not guard it properly that the kingship [94a] was taken from him for so long a time. For this zoth symbolises also the supernal Kingdom and Jerusalem the holy city, and when David sinned a voice went forth and said: "David, thou shalt now be disjoined from that with which thou wast united; thou art banished from Jerusalem and the kingship is taken from thee"; thus he was punished in that wherein he had sinned. And if David could be so punished, how much more so other men?'

Another then discoursed on the text: Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had soon dwelt in silence (duma) (Ps. XCIV, 17). He said: 'We have learnt that that which saves Israel from descending to Gehinnom and being delivered into the hands of Duma like other nations is this same covenant. For so we have learnt, that when a man leaves this world, numbers of angels swoop down to seize him, but when they behold this sign of the holy covenant they leave him and he is not delivered into the hands of Duma, so as to be sent down to Gehinnom. Both upper and lower (angels) are afraid of this sign, and no torture is inflicted on the man who has been able to guard this sign, because thereby he is attached to the name of the Holy One, blessed be He. So with David, when he was dethroned and driven from Jerusalem, he was afraid that he would be delivered into the hands of Duma, and die in the future world, until the message came to him, "The Lord also hath put away thy sin, thou shalt not die" (II Sam. XII, 13). Then it was that he exclaimed "Unless the Lord had been my help, etc."'

Another one then discoursed as follows: 'What did David mean by saying (when fleeing from before Absalom): and he shall show me both himself (otho) and his habitation (II Sam. XV, 25)?' He said: 'Who is there that can see God? In truth the word otho here means not "him" hut "his sign", and it is as we have learnt, that when David's punishment was decreed, and he knew that it was for not having guarded properly this sign (which is the sum and substance of all, and without the due observance of which no one can be called righteous), he prayed that God should show him this sign, fearing that it had parted from him, because on it depended both his throne and Jerusalem; hence he joined the sign and the habitation, meaning that the kingdom conferred by this sign should be restored to its place.'

Another then discoursed on the text: From my flesh shall I see God (Job XIX, 26). He said: 'The words "my flesh" are to he literally taken as the place where the covenant is imprinted, as we have learnt: "Whenever a man is stamped with this holy imprint, through it he sees God", because the soul (neshamah) is attached to this spot. So if he does not guard it, then of him it is written, "they lose the soul (neshamah) given by God" (Job IV, 9). If, however, he guards it, then the Shekinah does not depart from him. He cannot be sure of it till he is married, when at last the sign enters into its place. When the man and wife are joined together and are called by one name, then the celestial favour rests upon them, the favour (Hesed) which issues from the supernal Wisdom and is embraced in the male, so that the female also is firmly established. Further, it has been pointed out that the word for "God" in this passage, viz. Eloah, may be divided into El, signifying the radiance of Wisdom, the letter Vau, signifying the male, and the letter Hi, signifying the female; when they are joined, the name Eloah is used, and the holy neshamah is united to this spot. And since all depends on this sign, therefore it is written, "and from my flesh I shall see Eloah". Happy are Israel, the holy ones, who are linked to the Holy One, blessed be He, happy in this world and happy in the next: of them it is written, "Ye that cleave unto the Lord your God, are alive every one of you this day" (Deut. IV, 4).'

Said R. Abba: 'I marvel that with so much learning you are still living in this village.' They said to him: 'If birds are driven from their homes, [9¥] they do not know where to fly, as it is written, "As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place" (Prov. XXVII, 8). It is in this place that we have learnt the Torah, because it is our habit to sleep half the night and to study the other half. And when we rise in the morning the smell of the fields and the sound of the rivers seem to instil the Torah into us, and so it becomes fixed in our minds. Once this place was visited with punishment for neglect of the Torah, and a number of doughty scholars were carried off. Therefore we study it day and night, and the place itself helps us, and whoever quits this place is like one who quits eternal life.' R. Abba thereupon lifted up his hands and blessed them. So they sat through the night, until at last they said to some boys who were with them: 'Go outside and see if it is day, and when you come back let each one of you say some piece of Tarah to our distinguished guest.' So they went out and saw that it was day. One of them said: 'On this day there will be a fire from above.' 'And on this house,' said another. Said a third: 'There is an elder here who this day will be burnt with fire.' 'God forbid,' said R. Abba, who was greatly perturbed, and did not know what to say. 'A cord of the (divine) will has been grasped on earth,' he exclaimed. And it was indeed so; for on that day the companions beheld the face of the Shekinah, and were surrounded with fire. As for R. Abba, his countenance was aflame with the intoxication of the Torah. It is recorded that all that day they did not leave the house, which was enveloped in smoke, and they propounded new ideas as if they had on that day received the Torah on Mount Sinai. When they rose they did not know whether it was day or night. Said R. Abba: 'While we are here, let each one of us say some new word of wisdom in order to make a fitting return to the master of the house, who is making the celebration.'

Thereupon one opened with the text: Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts; we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, the holy place of thy temple (Ps. LXV, 5). 'This verse', he said, 'speaks first of courts, then of house, then of temple. These are three grades, one within the other and one above the other. At first a man "dwells in thy courts", and of him it may be said "he that is left in Zion and he that remaineth in Jerusalem shall be called holy" (Is. IV, 3). As a next step "we are satisfied with the goodness of thy house". which is explained by the text "a house shall be built through Wisdom". (Note that it does not say "Wisdom shall be built as a house", which would imply that Wisdom itself is called "house", but "by Wisdom", with allusion to the verse "a river went forth from Eden to water the Garden".) Lastly, "the holy place of thy temple" (hekal) is the culmination of all, as we have been taught: the word hekal (temple) may be divided into he and kol (all), implying that both are in it in complete union. The opening words of the verse, "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest and causest to approach thee", indicate that whoever brings his son as an offering before God pleases God therewith, so that God draws him near and places his abode in two courts, which He joins so as to form one (hence the plural "courts"). Hence when the pious men who lived in this place in former times made this offering of their children, they used to begin by exclaiming, "Blessed he whom thou choosest and bringest near, he shall dwell in thy courts", while the company present replied, "We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, the holy place of thy temple." Afterwards the celebrant said the blessing, "who sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us to initiate the child in the covenant of our father Abraham", while those present responded, "As thou hast initiated him into the covenant, etc." This ritual is in accordance with the dictum: "A man should first pray for himself and then for his neighbour," as it is written, "and (the High Priest) shall make atonement for himself and for all the congregation of Israel" -- for himself first and then for the congregation. To this custom we adhere, for so we think proper.' Said R. Abba: 'Assuredly it is so, and he who does not recite these words excludes himself from the ten canopies which God intends to raise for the righteous in the future world, and which all depend upon this. Hence it is that there are ten words in this verse, out of each of which, if recited with proper faith, is made a canopy. Happy your lot in this world and in the world to come, for the Torah is fixed in your hearts as if you had yourselves stood [95a] at Mount Sinai when the Law was given to Israel.'

Another then discoursed on the text: An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings and thy peace offerings, etc. (Ex. XX, 24.). He said: 'We have learnt that whoever makes this offering of his son is esteemed no less worthy than if he had offered to God all the sacrifices in the world, and had built an altar before Him. Therefore it is fitting that he should make a kind of altar in the shape of a vessel full of earth over which the circumcision may be performed, that so God may reckon it to him as if he had sacrificed on it burnt offerings and peace offerings, sheep and oxen, and be even better pleased therewith; for so it is written in the latter half of the text: "in every place where I record my name I will come to thee and bless thee", where the words "I will record my name" refer to the circumcision, of which it is written, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant" (Ps. XXV, 14). So much for the altar of earth. In the next verse we read: "And if thou make me an altar of stone." This alludes to the proselyte who comes from a stubborn and stony-hearted people. The text proceeds: "thou shalt not build it of hewn stones". This means that the proselyte must enter into the service of God, and that he must not be circumcised until he puts out of his mind the alien worship which he practised hitherto, and removes the stoniness of his heart. For if he is circumcised before he does this, then he is like a statue which, though hewn into shape, still remains stone. Hence "thou shalt not build it of hewn stones", since if he is still obdurate, "thou hast lifted up thy tool upon it and hast polluted it"; i.e. the act of circumcision is of no use to him. Wherefore happy is the lot of him who brings this offering with gladness and pleases God thereby; and it is fitting that he should rejoice in this boon the whole of the day, as it is written, "For all those that put their trust in thee shall rejoice, they shall ever shout with joy, and they that love thy name shall exult in thee" (Ps. v, 12).'

Another then discoursed on the text: Now when Abram was ninety years (lit. year) and nine years old, the Lord appeared ... and said unto him, I am God Almighty, walk before me, etc. (Gen. XVII, 1). 'This verse presents a number of difficulties. In the first place, it seems to imply that God only now appeared to Abram when he had attained this age, whereas God had already spoken to Abram on various occasions (v. Gen. XII, 1; XIII, 14; XV, 13). Again, the word "years" is mentioned twice, first in the singular (shanah) and then in the plural (shanim). The answer is, as our teachers have stated, that as long as Abram was closed in body, and therefore in heart, God did not fully reveal Himself to him, and hence it is not stated hitherto that God appeared to Abram. Now, however, God appeared to him because He was now about to expose in him this sign and holy crown, and further because God desired to bring forth from him holy seed, and this could not be so long as his flesh was closed; now, however, that he was ninety-nine years old and the time was drawing near for holy seed to issue from him, it was fitting that he himself should be holy first. Hence his age is stated on this occasion, and not on all the others when God spoke to him. Further, the expression "ninety year", instead of "ninety years", indicates that all his previous years counted for no more than one year, and that his life had been no life; but now that he had come to this point, his years were really years. Further we may ask, why is the term "God Almighty" (El Shaddai) used here for the first time? The reason is, as we have learnt, that God has made lower crowns which are not holy, and which, in fact, pollute, and with these are marked all who are not circumcised. The mark consists of the letters Shin and Daleth, [10] and therefore they are polluted with the demons and cling to them. After circumcision, however, they escape from them and enter under the wings of the Shekinah, as they display the letter Yod, the holy mark and the sign of the perfect covenant, [956] and there is stamped upon them the name Shaddai (Almighty), complete in all its letters. Hence we find written in this connection, "I am El Shaddai." It says further: "Walk before me and be perfect", as much as to say: "Hitherto thou hast been defective, being stamped only with Shin Daleth: therefore circumcise thyself and become complete through the sign of Yod." And whoever is so marked is ready to be blessed through this name, as it is written, "And God Almighty (El Shaddai) shall bless thee" (Gen. XXVIII, 3), to wit, the source of blessings, that dominates the "lower crowns" and inspires fear and trembling in them all. Hence all that are not holy keep afar from one who is circumcised, and have no power over him. Moreover, he is never sent down to Gehinnom, as it is written, "Thy people are all righteous, they shall for ever inherit the earth" (Is. LX, 21). Said R. Abba: 'Happy are ye in this world and in the world to come! Happy am I that I am come to hear these words from your mouths! Ye are all holy, all the sons of the Holy God; of you it is written, "One shall say, I am the Lord's, and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob, and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord and surname himself by the name of Israel" (Ibid. XLIV, 5). Everyone of you is closely attached to the holy King on high: ye are the mighty chieftains of that land which is called "the land of the living", the princes of which feed on the manna of holy dew.'

Another then discoursed on the text: Happy art thou, O land, when thy king is a son of freedom and thy primes eat in due season (Ecc1. X, 17). 'Just before this it is written: "Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning." There is an apparent but not a real contradiction between these verses. The reference in the verse "happy art thou, O land," is to the supernal realm which has control over all the life above, and is therefore called "land of the living". Of this it is written, "a land which the Lord thy God careth for continually" (Deut. XI, 12), and again "a land where thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it" (Ibid. VIII, 9). Why so ? Because "thy king is a son of freedom". By this is meant the Holy One, blessed be He, who is called a "son of freedom" because of the Jubilee, which is the source of freedom. It is true that, according to this explanation, we should expect to have in our text the word heruth (freedom) and not, as we actually find written, horin (free ones). The reason is, as we have learnt in our secret Mishnah, that when the Yod is united with the Hi, they produce "the river which issues from Eden to water the Garden" (Gen. II, 10). It is, in fact, misleading to say "when they unite", for they are indeed united, and therefore it is written ben horin. Hence "happy art thou, O land, when thy king is a hen horin, and thy princes eat in due season", with joy, with sanctity, and with God's blessing. On the other hand, "Woe to thee, O land, when thy prince is a child." This is the land of the lower world; for so we have learnt: "All the lands of the Gentiles have been committed to great chieftains who are appointed over them, and above all is he of whom it is written, 'I was a lad and am now old' "(Ps. XXXVII, 25), words which, according to tradition, were pronounced by the "Prince of the Globe". Hence, "Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a lad": i.e. woe to the world which derives sustenance from this side; for when Israel are in captivity, they, as it were, derive their sustenance from an alien power. Further, "when thy princes eat in the morning"; i.e. in the morning only and not the whole day, or any other time of the day. For so we have learnt, that at sunrise when men go forth and bow down to the sun, wrath is suspended over the world, and at the time of the afternoon prayer also wrath is suspended over the world. Why is this? Because "thy king is a lad", viz. he who is called "lad". But you, truly pious ones, sainted to those above, do not derive sustenance from that side, but from that holy place above. Of you it is written: "Ye who cleave to the Lord are alive all of you this day" (Deut. IV, 4).'

R. Abba then discoursed on the text: Let me sing for my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard, etc. (Is. v, 1). He said: 'This passage presents many difficulties. In the first place it should rather be called a "reproof" than a "song". Then again why first "well-beloved" and then "beloved" ? Also, we find nowhere else mention of a place [96a] called "Keren Ben Shemen" (horn of the son of oil). Our colleagues have expounded these verses in many ways, and all of them are good, but I explain them in this way. The word "well-beloved" contains an allusion to Isaac, who was called so before he was born. For so we have learnt, that God showed great love for him in not allowing him to be born until Abraham his father had been circumcised and called perfect and had been completed by the addition to his name of the letter he. To Sarah, too, a he had been given. Here arises a question. We understand he for Sarah, but for Abram the added letter should have been not he but yod, he being a male. The reason is in truth a somewhat deep and recondite one. Abraham rose to the highest stage, and took as his additional letter the higher he, which symbolises the sphere of the male. For there are two symbolic he's, one higher and one lower, one associated with the male and the other with the female. Hence Abraham ascended with the he of the higher sphere, and Sarai descended with the hi of the lower sphere. Further it is written, "thus (koh) shall be thy seed", and the word "seed" here, as we have learnt, is to be taken exactly (of Isaac). For it was he who entered into this covenant from his birth, and whoever enters from his birth really enters. It is for this reason that a proselyte who is circumcised is called "a proselyte of righteousness", because he does not come from the holy stock who have been circumcised; and therefore one who enters in this way is called by the name of the first pioneer "Abraham". Thus the letter hi, too, was given to him; and if it had not also been given to Sarah, Abraham would of necessity have begotten on a lower level, in the same way as Koh, which begets on a lower level. But when hi was given to Sarah, the two hi's were joined together, and brought forth on a higher level, that which issued from them being yod; hence yod is the first letter of the name of Isaac, symbolising the male. From this point the male principle began to extend, and therefore it is written, "For in Isaac shall thy seed be called", and not in thee. Isaac bore on the higher level, as it is written, "Thou givest truth to Jacob" (Micah VII, 20), showing that Jacob completed the edifice. It may be asked: "Was Abraham attached only to this grade and no more ?" If so, why does it say, "kindness (hesed) to Abraham"? (Ibid.) The answer is that hesed was his portion because he dealt kindly with mankind, but for bearing children, it was here that he was attached and here that he began. Hence it was that Abraham was not circumcised till he was ninety-nine years old; the inner reason for this is well known and has been explained in our Mishnah. For this reason, too, Isaac typifies stem justice, which was his portion, but for begetting he was called "kindness" (hesed). Hence Jacob crowned the edifice on this side and on that. In respect of the strivings of Abraham and Isaac for portions above he was the culmination; and in respect of the privilege which was granted to them to bear sons better than themselves he was also the culmination. Hence the Scripture says of him, "Israel in whom I glory" (Is. XLIX, 3). In him were united attributes both from the higher and the lower. Hence the word "song" is used in this passage. According to some, the word "well-beloved" here refers to Abraham, who transmitted this inheritance; but it is more correct to refer it to Isaac, as I do. To proceed: "the song of my beloved to his vineyard" refers to the Holy One, blessed be He, who is commonly called "beloved" (dod), as in the verse, "My beloved is white and ruddy" (S. S. V, 10). Thus, my well-beloved unites with my beloved, who is male, and from him springs forth a vineyard, as it is written, "My well-beloved had a vineyard." The Scripture further says that this vineyard sprang forth in "Keren-Ben-Shemen". This "Keren" is the same as the "horn" (keren) of the Jubilee, and it is united with the male that is called ben shemen (son of oil), which is the same as ben horin (son of freedom). "Shemen" is mentioned because it is the source of the oil for lighting the lamps (of understanding). This oil makes faces shine and kindles lamps until it is gathered in a horn, which is then called "the horn of the Jubilee". For this reason Royalty is always anointed from a horn; and the reason why the kingdom of David endured was because he was anointed from a horn and was true to it. The next words are, "he put a fence round it and stoned it": [96b] Le. he removed from himself and from his portion all the celestial chieftains and champions, and all the "lower crowns", and chose this vineyard for his portion, as it is written, "For the Lord's portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance" (Deut. XXXII, 9). Further, "He planted it with the choicest vine", as it says elsewhere, "I planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed" (Jer. II, 21). (The word kuloh (wholly) in this sentence is written with hi, to point the same lesson as the text "thus (koh) shall be thy seed".) Our text closes with the words: "He built a tower in the midst of it" -- the "tower" is that mentioned in the verse, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runneth into it and is safe" (Prov. XVIII, 10) "and also hewed out a wine press therein": this is the "gate of righteousness" mentioned in the verse, "Open to me the gates of righteousness" (Ps. CXVIII, 19). We learn from this that every Israelite who is circumcised has the entry into both the tower and the gate. He who makes this offering of his son brings him under the aegis of the Holy Name. On this sign, too, are based the heaven and earth, as it is written, "But for my covenant day and night, I had not set the ordinances of heaven and earth" (Jer. XXXIII, 25). Our host of to-day has been privileged to see the Holy One, blessed be He, face to face this day. Happy we that we have lived to see this day, and happy thy portion with us. To this son that is born to thee I apply the words of the Scripture, "Every one that is called by my name ... I have formed him, yea I have made him" (Is. XLIII, 7); also the verse, "and all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, etc." (Ibid. LIV, 13).'

They then rose and escorted R. Abba on his way for three miles. They said to him: 'Your host who made the ceremony deserves all the honour he has received, because his act was a doubly pious one.' He said: 'What do you mean ?' They answered: 'This man's wife was formerly the wife of his brother, who died without children, and so he married her, and this being the first son, he calls him after the name of his dead brother.' [11] Said R. Abba: 'From now onwards his name shall be Iddi'; and in fact he grew up to be the well-known Iddi bar Jacob. R. Abba then gave them his blessing and continued his journey. When he reached home, he informed R. Eleazar of all that had happened, but was afraid to tell R. Simeon. One day as he was studying with R. Simeon, the latter said: 'It is written: "And Abraham fell on his face and God spoke with him saying, As for me. behold my covenant is with thee." This shows that until he was circumcised, he used to fall on his face when God spoke with him, but after he was circumcised he stood upright without fear. Further, the words "behold, my covenant is with thee" show that he found himself circumcised.' Said R. Abba to him: 'Perhaps your honour will permit me to relate some excellent ideas which I have heard on this subject.' 'Speak,' he said. 'But I am afraid,' continued R. Abba, 'that the people who told me may suffer through my telling.' 'God forbid !' said R. Simeon. 'Remember the verse: "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings, his heart is fixed trusting in the Lord".' He then told him what had happened, and related to him all that he had heard. Said R. Simeon : 'You mean to say that you knew all this and did not say a word to me? I order you during the next thirty days to do your very utmost to forget it. Does not the Scripture say: "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it"?' And so it came to pass. R. Simeon further said: 'I order that with these explanations they shall be banished to Babylon, I mean to say, among our colleagues in Babylon.' R. Abba was sorely grieved at this. One day R. Simeon, seeing him, said: 'Your looks betray some inward sorrow.' He replied: 'I am not grieving for myself, but for them.' He answered: 'God forbid they should be punished for anything except for speaking too openly. For this let them go into exile among the colleagues and learn from them how to keep things to themselves; for these matters are not to be divulged save among ourselves, since the Holy One, blessed be He, has confirmed our ideas, and made us the instruments for disclosing them.' R. Jose said: 'It is written, "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, etc." (Is. LVIII, 8). This means that the Holy One, blessed be He, will one day proclaim with regard to his sons: "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy healing shall spring forth speedily, and thy righteousness shall go before thee and the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward".' [97a]

_______________

Notes:

1. v. p. 163.

2. The first blessing of the Amidah.

3. The third blessing after the Haftorah.

4. The peoples of Ishmael and Esau.

5. Malkuth.

6. Al. 'Old visitor'.

7. R. Simeon.

8. Elijah.

9. i.e. of the Sefirah Malkuth. of which David's throne was the counterpart below.

10. Forming the word Shed (demon).

11. v. Deut. XXV, 5-10.
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