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 » Mon Oct 26, 2015 1:59 am

Part 1 of 2

DEUTERONOMY

VAETHHANAN


Deuteronomy III, 23-VII, 11

AND I BESOUGHT THE LORD AT THAT TIME SAYING, O LORD GOD, THOU HAST BEGUN TO SHOW THY SERVANT, ETC. R. Jose adduced here the verse: "And Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord" (Isa. XXXVIII, 2). 'How great', he said, 'is the power of the Torah, and how it is exalted above all, since he who occupies himself with the Torah fears no adversaries either above or below, nor any evil haps of the world, because he is attached to the Tree of Life and eats therefrom every day. For the Torah teaches man how to walk in the right way, it gives him counsel how to return to his Master, so that even if sentence of death has been passed on him it is annulled and removed from him and impends not over him. Therefore he should occupy himself with the Torah day and night and never depart from it: for if he banishes the Torah from him or departs from it, it is as though he parted from life. Now it is a good counsel for a man that when he goes to his bed at night he should take upon himself the yoke of the heavenly kingdom with a perfect heart and hasten to entrust to God his soul. The reason, as we have explained, is that all the world then has a foretaste of death, as the tree of death is then present in the world, and all the spirits of men then leave them and ascend and are delivered to Him, but because they are given in trust they afterwards return to their places. Now when the north wind awakes at midnight and a herald goes forth, and the Holy One, blessed be He, enters the Garden of Eden to have joyous communion with the souls of the righteous, then all the sons of the Matrona, and all the denizens of the palace, prepare to sing praises to the Holy King, and then all the souls that were entrusted to her hand are returned to their owners; and most men awake at that time. Those who belong to the supernal Palace rise up in vigour and betake themselves to praisegiving in accordance with the Torah and join the Community of Israel until the day is light. When the morning comes, She and all who belong to the Palace go to visit the Holy King, they being called the sons of the King and of the Matrona, as has been explained. When the morning comes, a man should cleanse himself and gird on his weapons [1] to pay suit to the Holy King. For in the night he paid suit to the Matrona, and now he should come with the Matrona to unite her with the King. He goes to the synagogue, he purifies himself with [the recital of the] offerings, he repeats the praises of King David; he has the phylacteries on his hand and his head, and the fringes at his side; he says "A psalm of David", and offers his prayer before his Master. While he says this he must stand like the heavenly angels, [2] who are also called "those who stand", and concentrate all his thoughts on his Master as he offers his petition. Note that when a man arises at midnight to study the Torah a herald proclaims concerning him: "Behold, bless ye the Lord all ye servants of the Lord which stand in the house of the Lord by night" (Ps. CXXXIV, 1), and now when he stands in prayer the herald proclaims over him, "And I will give thee places to walk among them that stand" (Zech. III, 7). When he has finished his prayer with devotion before his Master, as already said, he should deliver his soul with complete renunciation to the rightful place. Thus there is good counsel for men for all occasions. [260b] When prayer is being offered, all the words that a man has emitted from his mouth during his prayer mount aloft and cleave their way through ethers and firmaments until they reach their destination, where they are formed into a crown on the head of the King. The Companions have agreed that the prayer directed by man to the Almighty should be of the nature of supplication. [3] We know this from Moses, of whom it is said, "And I besought the Lord" (Deut. III, 23); this is the best kind of prayer. When a man stands in prayer he should keep his feet together, [4] and cover his head, and he should also shade his eyes so as not to look at the Shekinah. In the Book of R. Hamnuna the Elder it says that if a man opens his eyes at the time of prayer or does not cast them on the ground he brings the Angel of Death on to himself before his time, and when his soul leaves him he will not behold the face of the Shekinah, nor will he die by a (divine) kiss. If one contemns the Shekinah, he himself is contemned in the hour of need, as it says, "Them that honour me I shall honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed" (I Sam. II, 30). This is he that looks at the Shekinah at the time of prayer. In fact, of course, one cannot look at the Shekinah; but what he should do is to know that the Shekinah is before him, and therefore there should be nothing interposing between him and the wall.

'Before a man stands in prayer he should first recite the praise of his Master and then offer his supplication. So Moses first said, THOU HAST BEGUN, ETC., and then LET ME GO OVER, I PRAY THEE.'

R. Judah said: 'Why did Moses say first "Lord" (Adonay) and then "God" (YHVH)? Because this is the proper order from the lower to the higher, so as to combine the measure of day with night, and of night with day, and to unite all fitly together.

'THOU HAST BEGUN TO SHOW THY SERVANT. Why is "beginning" mentioned here? Because Moses indeed made a new beginning in the world by being complete in all. It is true that Jacob was also complete and in him the tree was completed below after the pattern above. Yet there was that in Moses which was not in any other man, since his perfection radiated to many thousands and myriads of Israel in the Tabernacle, the priests, the Levites, the twelve tribes with their chieftains, the seventy members of the Sanhedrin -- in fact, with the perfect body, Aaron being at the right, Nahshon at the left, he himself in the centre, as it says here "thy greatness", referring to Aaron, and "thy strong hand", referring to Nahshon. Thus Moses was a new beginning in the world. And if you ask, Who is the termination? the answer is, the King Messiah, for then there shall be such perfection in the world as had not been for all generations before. For then there shall be completeness above and below, and all worlds shall be united in one bond, as it is written, "On that day the Lord shall be one and his name one" (Zech. XIV, 9).'

AND THE LORD SAID UNTO ME, LET IT SUFFICE THEE, SPEAK NO MORE, ETC. R. Hiya said: 'God said to Moses, It is enough for thee that thou hast been united with the Shekinah; thou canst advance no further.' R. Isaac said: 'Long enough hast thou enjoyed the light of the sun that was with thee; thou canst not do so any more, for the time of the moon is come, and the moon cannot shine till the sun is gathered in. Therefore "Charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him"; thou who art the sun must give light to the moon.' [5]

BUT YE THAT DID CLEAVE UNTO THE LORD YOUR GOD, ETC. R. Jose said: 'Happy is the people whom God chose from all the heathens and took for His portion and blessed with His own blessing, the blessing of His Name. All other peoples God has placed under the charge of Chieftains who have control of them, but Israel the Holy One, blessed be He, has taken for His own portion to be united to Him, and He has given them His holy Law that they may be joined to His Name.' [261a]

AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO YOU OUT OF THE MIDST OF THE FIRE: YE HEARD THE VOICE OF WORDS, ETC. R. Eleazar said: 'What is meant by "the voice of words"? It means, the Voice which is also called Utterance, because all utterance proceeds from it. Hence also it says "ye heard" [and not "saw"], because "hearing" corresponds to "utterance".

'BUT YE SAW NO FORM. They were not like Moses, of whom it says, "And he beholdeth the form of the Lord". Or we may say that "form" refers to the inner Voice which was not seen at all. ONLY YE HEARD A VOICE: this is the other voice, which we mentioned above. Hence there is a higher He and a lower He; the higher He is "the great voice which did not cease", the flow of which never ceases, and all those "voices" were in it when the Torah was given to Israel. Now what is called "the repetition of the law" (Deuteronomy) was said by Moses in his own name. For the supreme Wisdom is called the summation of the Torah, and from it all issues through that inner Voice. Eventually it comes to rest in the place called "the Tree of Life", wherefrom depend the general and the particular, the Written Law and the Oral Law. And to show that both are one, the later (of the Ten) Commandments are in this version connected with one another by "and".'

R. Jose said: 'Why do we find here both "thou shalt not covet" and "thou shalt not desire"? Because they are two different grades. A man covets things which it is in his power to obtain (wrongfully), and through coveting he does try to obtain them. A man can desire things even if he sees no way of obtaining them.

'GO THOU NEAR AND HEAR, ETC. When the Law was given to Israel, all the Voices were present and the Holy One, blessed be He, was sitting on His throne, and one was seen within another, and the utterance of each came forth from the one above it, wherefore it is said, "The Lord spake to you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire" (Deut. V, 4), which means that the utterance came forth from the midst of fire and flame, which thrust it forth by the force of spirit and water; and fire, spirit and water all issued from the trumpet which contained them all. Israel were terrified and drew back, and therefore they said: Do thou speak to us; we do not desire to be spoken to by the mighty Power from on high, but only from the place of the Female, not higher. Said Moses to them: Of a truth ye have weakened my power, and also another power. For had not Israel drawn back and had they listened to [261b] the remaining words as to the first, [6] the world would never have been laid waste subsequently and they would have endured for generations upon generations. For at the first moment they did die, for so it had to be on account of the tree of death, but after they revived and stood up God desired to bring them up to the Tree of Life, which is above the tree of death, that they might endure for ever, but they drew back and were not willing; therefore was the power of Moses weakened and another power with him. Said the Holy One, blessed be He: I desired to stablish you in an exalted place that ye might cleave to life, but ye desired the place of the Female. Therefore GO, SAY TO THEM, RETURN TO YOUR TENTS; let each one go to his female and join her. And with all this, since Israel acted thus only through the pious awe that was upon them, nothing worse was said of them than "O that there were such an heart in them that they would fear me", etc. From this we learn that if a man, though doing an action which in itself is bad, does not turn his mind and intent to the evil side, punishment does not fall upon him as on another man, and God does not impute it to him for evil.

'BUT AS FOR THEE, STAND THOU HERE BY ME. From this point Moses parted from his wife completely and attached himself to another higher place, of the male and not of the female. Happy the lot of Moses the faithful prophet who was favoured with the highest grades to which no other man ever attained, wherefore he was called "good". But was not David also called "good"? Of David it says that he was "goodly to look upon"; his goodness was in the appearance, but Moses was absolutely good.'

R. Judah said: 'A man should place God before him in all his acts. When a man walks abroad he should have three objects in view, the highest of which is prayer, and higher even than prayer is the converse of two or three companions on matters of the Torah, for they shall come to no harm, since the Shekinah accompanies them.' Thus R. Eleazar and R. Hiya were once walking together, and R. Eleazar said: 'It is written, "And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife coats of skins" (Gen. III, 22). Were they then divested of that skin till then? Yes, for they were robes of glory.' Said R. Hiya: 'Surely they did not deserve even coats of skin. For you cannot say that this was before they sinned, since it is after they sinned that it is written, "And the Lord God made them coats of skins" '. He replied: 'At first they were like heavenly creatures, and divested of the earthly type, and heavenly light played around them. After they sinned they became of the type of this world, and the heavenly character was taken away from them, and then God made them coats of skin and clothed them with the character of this world. None the less the beauty of those garments was incomparable. It is further written, "And the eyes of both of them were opened" (Gen. III, 7), that is, to see the squalor of this world, which they did not notice before since their eyes were turned aloft. So of the future time it is written, "And I will bring the blind by a way that they know not", etc. (Isa. XLII, 16), which means that God will open eyes that are not wise to contemplate [262a] supernal wisdom and to attain to heights which they could not attain in this world, that they may know their Master. Happy are the righteous who are deemed worthy of this wisdom, since there is no wisdom like that wisdom, nor knowledge like that knowledge, nor attachment like that attachment.' As they were going along they saw some robbers following them with intent to harm them. R. Eleazar looked at them and two serpents came out and killed them, whereupon R. Eleazar said: Blessed be the Merciful One who has saved us.

'We have learnt as a profound mystery in the Book of Hidden Wisdom that three hollows of inscribed letters are disclosed in the Cranium of the Small of Countenance, and we have further learnt that there are three Brains enclosed in these hollows, but through the influence of the uppermost and hidden brain of the Ancient Holy One which spreads through that Small of Countenance they become four Brains. These spread throughout the whole of the Body, and these are the four compartments of the phylacteries which the Holy One, blessed be He, puts on. Therefore a man should put on the phylacteries every day, because they are the supernal Holy Name in its inscribed letters. The first compartment of the phylacteries contains the passage, "Sanctify unto me every firstborn", which typifies the highest brain, to wit, Wisdom. The second compartment contains the passage commencing "And it shall come to pass when the Lord thy God bringeth thee".' R. Judah said: 'This typifies the brain which opens out through fifty gates, which in turn correspond to the numerous places where the going forth from Egypt is mentioned in the Pentateuch. We have learnt in the Book of R. Hamnuna the Ancient that God burst open many gates above and below which were closed with chains in order to bring forth Israel, for from the gates of that brain all other gates are unlocked and opened. Had not the gates of that brain been first opened, the others could never have been opened to execute judgement and to bring forth Israel from bondage, All is closed up in that which is called the Supernal Mother, whence power is derived to the Lower Mother. This one comes forth from the Supernal Mother, who is the second compartment, which is called the He of the Holy Name which opens out through fifty gates, and from this issues a spirit to one of the Nostrils. We have learnt, too, that the Jubilee in which slaves go forth to freedom is attached to this Brain, and the fifty days of the Jubilee further correspond to the fifty days of the Omer. Thus He stands for the appeasement of the spirit and its going forth to freedom, and thus the going forth from Egypt depends on this compartment and on the letter He of the Holy Name, as has been explained. Observe that from the side of the Father issues Lovingkindness and from the side of the Mother Force, and the Holy One, blessed be He, grasps both and crowns himself therewith as the letter Vau. [262b] The third compartment contains the passage commencing, "Hear, O Israel", the reference being to the patriarch Israel. R. Simeon, however, says that the reference is to the supernal Israel crowned from the side of his Father, to wit Abraham, and crowned from the side of his Mother, to wit, Isaac. We have learnt that he who loves the King does lovingkindness with all, and all the more so if he asks for no reward, which is a "kindness of truth", through which he increases lovingkindness in the world. Hence this passage goes on, "Thou shalt love". The fourth compartment contains the passage commencing, "And it shall come to pass if ye diligently hearken". This passage contains the words, "Take heed to yourselves ... and the anger of the Lord be kindled against you", and this compartment typifies Might and stem judgement, and it comes from the side of the supernal Mother; for we have learnt that although She Herself is not judgement, yet from Her side issues judgement and force. These four does Vau take and crown himself therewith, and these are the phylacteries which the Holy One, blessed be He, puts on. We have learnt that this Vau ascends and assumes his crowns and grasps both sides and is crowned with all, and therefore Vau is the centre of all above and below to display complete Wisdom on all sides.'

R. Abba learnt: It is written, "Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers" (Deut. X, 15). Commenting on this, R. Simeon said that the patriarchs are the holy chariot above. As there is a holy chariot below, so there is a holy chariot above. And what is this? As we have said, the holy chariot is the name given to the Whole, all being linked together and made one. But the fathers are only three, and the chariot has four wheels. Who is the fourth? It says: "And he chose their seed after them"; this includes David, who is the fourth to complete the holy chariot, as we have learnt: The patriarchs are the consummation of the whole, and the Body was completed through them and made one. Then King David came and perfected the whole and made firm the body and perfected it. R. Isaac said: 'As the patriarchs merited to be crowned with the holy chariot, so did David merit to be adorned with the fourth support of the chariot.' R. Judah said: 'It is written of David, "He was ruddy and withal fair of eyes". The "ruddiness" typifies his occupation (as a man of war), while "with fair of eyes" refers to the patriarchs. Note that while Jerusalem and Zion correspond respectively to Judgement and Mercy, yet it is written, "The city of David, that is Zion" (I Kings VIII, 1).

'We have learnt: Vau takes those upper ones that we have mentioned, and those are the phylacteries which the Holy One, blessed be He, puts on, and therefore a man should take a pride in them. Of such a one it is written, "And all the people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord" (Deut. XXVIII, 10) -- literally. These are the phylactery of the head. The phylactery of the arm is the left, which is called "strong", and inherits from the "strong". [263a] Therefore the second He, which is the left, takes the four which are one body and entwined in one another, to wit, Tifereth, Nezah, Hod, and Yesod.' Said R. Hiya: 'If that is so, this is what is meant by "Thou shalt see my back" (Ex. XXXIII, 23), which, as we have learnt, means the knot of the phylacteries.' He replied: 'So we have explained, and this is the truth of the matter, and therefore a strap hangs down below to show that all below are sustained by this, and therefore it is called a "sign", as it is written, "And it shall be for a sign upon thy hand".'

HEAR, ISRAEL. R. Yesa said: 'This is the patriarch Israel.' R. Isaac said: '''Israel'' here has the same meaning as "heavens" in the verses "Hear, O heavens" (Isa. I, 2), and "Give ear, O heavens" (Deut. XXXII, 1). "The Lord" here indicates the starting-point of all, in the radiance of the Holy Ancient One, and this is what is called "Father". "Our God" is the deep source of the streams and founts that flow forth to all. "The Lord" again is the body of the Tree, the completion of the roots. "One" is the Community of Israel. All form one whole linked together without division.' R. Isaac learnt: 'The holy supernal chariot consists of the four compartments of the phylacteries which are put on by Vau, as already explained. There is another holy chariot of four other compartments united into one which are put on by the second He, as already stated.' [265a]

R. Simeon said: 'When a man rises at midnight and gets up and studies the Torah till daylight, and when the daylight comes he puts the phylacteries with the holy impress on his head and his arm, and covers himself with his fringed robe, and as he issues from the door of his house he passes the mezuzah containing the imprint of the Holy Name on the post of his door, then four holy angels join him and issue with him from the door of his house and accompany him to the synagogue and proclaim before him: Give honour to the image of the Holy King, give honour to the son of the King, to the precious countenance of the King. A holy spirit rests on him and proclaims: "Israel in whom I will be glorified" (Isa. XLIX, 3), and then ascends aloft and testifies concerning him before the Holy King. Then the Most High King orders the names of all the children of His palace, of all those that acknowledge Him, to be written before Him, as it says, "And it was written in the book of remembrance before him, for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon his name" (Mal. III, 16). The word hoshebei (that thought upon) can also be taken in the sense of "making designs" -- designs of the phylacteries with their compartments, their straps and their writing; designs of the fringes with their threads and the thread of blue; and designs of the mezuzah, all for the sake of God's Name. God then glories in them and proclaims through all worlds: See what my son has done in my world. He, however, who leaves his house to go to the synagogue without the phylacteries on his head or fringes on his garment and who yet says, I will bow down to Thy holy temple in Thy fear -- of him God says: Where is my fear? he is bearing false witness.'

R. Jose said: 'Happy the portion of Moses who attached himself to a higher grade than all the other faithful prophets. For in connection with the verse, "Moses spoke and God answered him with a voice" (Ex. XIX, 19), we have learnt that this voice was the voice of Moses, the Voice to which he was attached through his superiority over all the other prophets. And because he was attached to this higher grade he was able to say to Israel, "The Lord thy God", namely, the grade called Shekinah which abode in their midst.' R. Simeon further said: 'We have learnt that the curses in Leviticus were uttered by Moses as coming from the mouth of the divine Might, but those in Deuteronomy were uttered by him as from the mouth of himself. What is meant by "as from the mouth of himself"? Can it be thought that Moses said a single word of the Law of himself? No: what it refers to is the Voice to which he was attached, which is called "himself", so that one set of curses were uttered from the mouth of the divine Might and the other of that grade to which he attained in virtue of his superiority over the other prophets. Hence, while in all other places he says "Thy God", here (in the Shema) he says "Our God".

'Note how diligent men should be to devote themselves to the service of their Master so as to win eternal life. Under the throne of the Holy King there are supernal chambers; and in that place of the throne there is fastened a mezuzah to deliver men from executioners of justice [265b] who are ready to assail them in the other world. Similarly did God do to Israel, giving them precepts of the Law which they may observe to deliver themselves from many assailants and accusers that are on the watch for men every day.' R. Hiya said: 'If a man wishes to guard his steps, he should not step over water that has been poured out in front of a door, because a certain demon abides between the two posts of the door with his face to the door seeing all that goes on inside, and therefore a man should not pour water between the two doorposts.' (R. Isaac, however, said that if it is clean water it does not matter, provided it has not been poured out in contumely.) The reason is that he is authorized to do harm, and if he turns his head to the house everything on which he looks will be cursed. He has three hundred and sixty-five assistants, corresponding to the number of the days of the year, and all go forth with a man when he leaves his house.' R. Eleazar said: 'Against all this God desired to protect Israel, and therefore a man should inscribe on the door of his house the Holy Name in which all faith is summed up. For wherever the Holy Name is the evil species cannot come and are not able to accuse a man. The place of the door of the supernal House is called mezuzah, which is a necessary part of the house, and from it flee the emissaries of justice and punishment. Correspondingly when on earth a man affixes a mezuzah to his door with his Holy Name inscribed in it, such a one is crowned with the crowns of his Master and no "evil species" come near to the door of his house.'

As R. Abba was once coming away from a visit to R. Simeon he was met by R. Isaac, who exclaimed: 'Who is coming? The master of light, the man who all day has been cleaving to a consuming fire. Behold, light abides with him.' R. Abba said to him: 'We have learnt that a man should go to pay his respects to the Shekinah every Sabbath and New Moon, and who is meant? His teacher. All the more, then, is it incumbent on all people to pay their respects to the Sacred Lamp.' Said R. Isaac: 'I will turn back with you and pay my respects to the Shekinah and [meanwhile] taste of those excellent words of which you have tasted.' R. Abba then commenced a discourse on the verse: "A song of degrees, Unto thee do I lift up mine eyes, O thou that sittest in the heavens" (Ps. CXXIII, 1). 'The author of this psalm is not mentioned, and in all such cases we suppose the holy spirit to have uttered it concerning Israel in captivity. We have laid down that whoever desires to offer his supplication before the Holy King should pray from the lowest depth that blessing should be poured down below. This is indicated by the superfluous yod in the word hayoshebi (who sittest), the yod being the lowest of all; and therefore through it one should pray that blessings be poured down to the place called "heaven", that all may be fed from it. For when blessings are drawn from that spot most remote of all and collected in the place called heaven, then blessings abound among both higher and lower beings. "As the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their master": these are the Chieftains of the other peoples who are fed only from the remnants, the overhanging branches of the tree to which Israel cling, and when Israel receive blessings from that place they are all blessed from Israel. "As the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress": this, as already stated, is the handmaiden whose host God slew in Egypt, since she has no power of her own save when it is drawn to her from the Land of Israel, which itself [266a] is called "mistress". From the direction of this handmaiden issue many officials of judgement who bring accusations against Israel, but the Holy One, blessed be He, protects Israel from them as a father protects his son. God says to Israel: "Many are the accusers looking out for you, but be diligent in my service and I will protect you without, while within you will sleep safely in your beds. Now when the evil species come to the door of a man's house, and they raise their eyes and see the Holy Name written outside the mezuzah, namely Shaddai, which has power over all of them, they flee away in fear of it and do not come near the door.' Said R. Isaac to him: 'If that is so, a man should inscribe only this name on his door; why all the section?' He replied: 'This is quite right, because this name is crowned only with all those letters, and when the whole section is written this name is crowned with its crowns and the King goes forth with all his hosts stamped with the impress of the King, and they all flee from him in fear.' R. Abba said: 'Many holy hosts are present when a man fixes a mezuzah on his door, and they all proclaim, "This is the gate of the Lord", etc. (Ps. CXVIII, 20). Happy is the portion of Israel, for then Israel know that they are the sons of the Holy King, for all bear His stamp. They are stamped on their bodies with the holy impress; their garments bear the stamp of a religious precept; [7] their heads are stamped with the compartments of the phylacteries with the name of their Master; their hands are stamped with the straps of holiness; their feet with the ceremonial shoes; [8] without they bear the stamp of the [precepts connected with] sowing and reaping, and in their houses that of the mezuzah at their doorway. Thus in all ways they are stamped as the sons of the Most High King,'

As they proceeded R. Abba said: 'What is the meaning of the verse: "They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters to hew out to them cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold the water" (Jer. II, 13)? This', he said, 'refers to one who is false to the sign of the holy impress. And how is he false to it? By letting it enter into an alien domain, which is called "broken cisterns". For so the idolatrous peoples are called, but Israel's God is called "a fountain of living waters". For the perennially flowing Stream waters all the Garden and replenishes every place, as we have already pointed out, until it comes to that place in the Garden which is called "the fountain of living waters", whence are sustained all creatures above and below. But all the sides of the Left Side are not watered from that Stream of running water because they are of the side of the other peoples, and they are called "broken cisterns". Hence he who is false to the holy impress cleaves to the "broken cisterns which do not hold the waters" because they do not enter into them, whereas he that is able to guard it is granted to drink of the waters of that stream in the world to come, and causes that supernal Well to be filled so as to pour forth blessings to higher and lower; happy is he in this world and the next: of him it is written, "And thou shalt be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not" (Isa. LVIII, 11). Woe to him who is false to the holy impress, for he is false [266b] to the most high Name, nay more, he causes blessing to be withheld from that Well, and we apply to him the words, "he hath brought up an evil name on a virgin of Israel" (Deut. XXII, 19); for so R. Simeon has expounded, that one who brings a false charge against his first wife and brings an evil name upon her is like one who casts aspersions on high. This, again, is in conformity with what R. Hiya said in the name of R. Jose, that a virgin inherits seven blessings, but not a woman who is married again; she, however, inherits the blessing of Boaz and Ruth.'
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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:00 am

Part 2 of 2

They came to a field where they saw a number of trees, and sat down beneath them. R. Abba said: 'Here is clear air for expositions of the Torah; let us stay here.' He then began a discourse on the verse: "And it shall come to pass in that day that a great trumpet shall be blown; and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and they that were outcasts in the land of Egypt" (Isa. XXVII, 13). 'What is meant', he said, 'by "that day"? It is that day which shall be known to the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written, "But it shall be one day which is known unto the Lord" (Zech. XIV, 7), or again, "In that day when Gog shall come against the land of Israel" (Ezek. XXXVIII, 19). "A great trumpet shall be blown"? What difference does it make whether it will be great or small? It refers, however, to that great trumpet through which slaves go forth to freedom; this is the trumpet of the supernal Jubilee, and it is very mighty, and when it is aroused all freedom is set in motion, and it is called "the great trumpet". "They that are perishing in the land of Assyria": because those who live in an alien land suck from an alien power, and, as it were, do not abide in the faith. They are lost from all sides, for when Isr:lel dwell in the Holy Land they are ever virtuous in all, both above and below. According to another explanation, "those that are perishing" are the Zaddik and the Community of Israel. These are also called "lost", as it is written, "Wherefore perisheth the land" (Jer. IX, 12), to wit, the Community of Israel. The Zaddik, as it is written, "The righteous (Zaddik) perisheth" (Isa. LVII, 1). If it is asked, Whence are they to "come", the answer is, the Community of Israel from exile, and the Zaddik, as it is written, "When the Lord returneth with (eth) the captivity of Zion" (Ps. CXXVI, 1), which, as we have explained, means that He will return to His place and join the Community of Israel. "And they shall bow down to the Lord on the holy mountain, Jerusalem": this means, if we may say so, that Israel will not go out of captivity save with the Shekinah.'

R. Abba further discoursed on the verse: "The Lord shall keep thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth and for evermore" (Ps. CXXI, 8). He said: 'That God shall keep thy going forth we understand; but what need is there to say, "thy coming in"? For when a man goes into his house he is in no danger? What it means, however, is that he who affixes the holy sign to his house with the words of the Holy Name is protected against all danger. The one who dwells at the door of his house accompanies him when he issues forth, and when he returns it proclaims before him: Have a care for the honour of the image of the Holy King -- all this on account of the Holy Name which is impressed on his door, so that not only is a man protected in his house, but God protects him both when he goes out and when he comes in, as it is written, "The Lord shall keep thy going out and thy coming in", etc. But as for the evil spirit that abides between the doorposts, [267a] woe to the man who does not know how to guard against it by impressing on the door of his house the Holy Name that it may be with him, for this spirit has three hundred and sixty-five assistants, one for every day of the year, which accuse him above and below, trying to mislead him by day and troubling his dreams by night. When he goes out they accuse him; when he comes in they place their hands on his shoulders and say: Woe to So-and-so who has thrown off the control of his Master, woe to him in this world and in the world to come! Therefore the sons of the true faith should be stamped throughout with the impress of their Master to scare away all the sides of the "evil species", that they may be protected in this world and the next.'

AND THOU SHALT LOVE THE LORD THY GOD. R. Jose adduced here the verse: "Now, therefore, what do I here, saith the Lord, seeing that my people is taken away for nought" (Isa. LII, 5). 'This', he said, 'shows the love of God for Israel, for although their sins caused Him to depart from them, and they were scattered among the nations, yet He avenges their wrong. When Israel were in their land, God used to delight Himself in His garden and draw near to Israel and hear their voice and glory in them. But since through their sins Israel have been banished from their land, the Holy One, blessed be He, does not enter His garden nor take delight in it, and He even exclaims, "What do I here, saith the Lord?" Since the day that Israel were banished from their land there has been no joy before the Holy One, blessed be He. Therefore because of the love which God shows to Israel it is written, "thou shalt love the Lord thy God", which means that man should bind himself to Him with very strong love, and that all service performed by man to God should be with love, since there is no service like the love of the Holy One, blessed be He.' R. Abba said: 'These words are the epitome of-the whole Law, since the Ten Commandments are summed up here, as the Companions have explained. Nothing is so beloved of God as that a man should love Him in the fitting manner. How is this? As it is written, "with all thy heart", which includes two hearts, one good and one evil; "with all thy soul", one good and one evil; [9] and "with all thy might". What lesson can be learnt from the word "all" here?' R. Eleazar said: 'The word "might" refers to money, and "all" means both money which comes to a man from inheritance and money which a man earns himself.' R. Abba said: 'To return to the words "and thou shalt love": one who loves God is crowned with lovingkindness on all sides and does lovingkindness throughout, sparing neither his person nor his money. We know this from Abraham, who in his love for his Master spared neither his heart nor his life nor his money. He paid no heed to his own desires because of his love for his Master; he spared not his wife, and was ready to sacrifice his son because of his love for his Master; and he sacrificed his money also by standing at the cross-roads and providing food for all comers. Therefore he was crowned with the crown of lovingkindness. Whoever is attached in love to his Master is deemed worthy of the same, and what is more, all worlds are blessed for his sake.'

Once when R. Jose was ill, R. Abba and R. Judah and R. Isaac went to see him. They found him asleep lying on his face. When he awoke they perceived that his face was wreathed in smiles. Said R. Abba to him: 'Have you seen some notable thing?' [267b] 'Assuredly so,' he replied, 'for my soul went aloft and I saw the glory of those who have sacrificed themselves for the sanctity of their Master, how they were given thirteen streams of pure balsam, and how the Holy One, blessed be He, held joyous converse with them. I saw things which I am not permitted to tell. I asked for whom was this honour, and they replied: For those who loved their Master in the other world. My soul and my heart were illumined with what I saw, and therefore my face was wreathed in smiles.' R. Abba said: 'Happy is thy portion. The Torah testifies of them saying, "Eye hath not seen, O God, beside thee what he shall do for him that waiteth for him" (Isa. LXIV, 4.).' R. Judah said to him: 'The Companions have already asked: Why is it written here, "he shall do", and not "thou shalt do"?' He replied: 'The reason is to be found in the inner meaning of the words, "To behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple" (Ps. XXVII, 4.). The "beauty of the Lord", as we have explained, is that which comes from the Ancient Holy One, and wherewith the Holy One, blessed be He, delights himself. So here, "he shall do" refers to the Ancient Hidden One on whom it depends.' He said: 'Assuredly it is so. Happy those to whom the love of their Master cleaves; there is no limit to their portion in the other world.' R. Isaac said: 'Many are the abodes of the righteous in the other world, one above another, and highest of all that of those to whom was attached the love of their Master, for their abode is linked with the palace that surpasses all, the Holy One, blessed be He, being crowned in this one. This Palace is called Love, and it is established for the sake of love. So it is too with the Holy Name, the forms of the letters of which are linked together, so that the whole is called "love"; wherefore he who loves his Master is linked to that Love. Hence it is written, "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God".'

AND THESE WORDS SHALL BE, ETC. R. Isaac adduced here the verse: "All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee, who delivereth the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him" (Ps. XXXV, 10). 'This verse', he said, 'refers to the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, will revive the dead, at which time He will prepare the bones and bring each one near to its fellow, as it says, "And the bones came together, bone to his bone" (Ezek. XXXVI, 7). They will then sing a psalm, namely, "O Lord, who is like thee", etc. And this song will be superior to that which the Israelites chanted by the Red Sea, for there they mentioned the Holy Name only after three words, as it is written, "Who-is like-unto-thee among-the-mighty, O Lord", but here they will put the Holy Name first. "He delivereth the poor from him that is too strong for him". This means that God delivers the good prompting from the evil prompting; for the evil prompting is hard like stone, whereas the good prompting is tender like flesh. What does the evil prompting resemble? When it first comes to associate itself with a man it is like iron before it is placed in the fire, but afterwards like iron when it is heated and becomes wholly like fire.' R. Hiya said: 'The evil prompting is at first like a wayfarer who comes to the door of a house and, finding that there is no one to stop him, goes into the house and becomes a guest. Finding that there is still no one to stop him he takes liberties and acts as the master [10] [268a] until the whole house is subject to him. From where do we learn this? From the story of David and Nathan. Nathan first said, "There came a traveller to the rich man" -- a mere traveller who passes the door without any intention of staying there and meaning to proceed on his way. So the evil prompting when it first approaches a man prompts him to a petty sin, being still but a chance visitor. Then the text goes on, "to prepare for the guest that came to him". So the evil prompting incites him to greater sins one day or two days like a guest who stays in a house one or two days. Next it says, "And dressed it for the man (ish) that was come to him" (the word ish meaning "master", as in "the man, the master of the land" (Gen. XLII, 30)). So the evil prompting becomes the "master of the house" in respect of the man, who is now bound to his service, and he does with him what he likes. Hence a man should ever carry about with him words of Torah in order that the evil prompting may be subdued by them, since there is no opponent of the evil prompting like words of Torah; wherefore it is written, "And these words shall be upon thy heart" (lebabeka), that is, upon both thy promptings, the good prompting that it may be crowned with them and the evil prompting that it may be subdued by them.' R. Judah asked: 'Why does the good prompting need them?' He replied: 'The good prompting is crowned by them, and the evil prompting, if it sees that a man does not repent nor seek to study the Torah, goes above and points out his guilt.'

When R. Simeon came, he said: 'Assuredly in the section of the Shema are hinted the Ten Commandments, as already stated elsewhere, in the words "and these words shall be". There are also ten commandments here corresponding to the other ten. They are as follows: (1) "Thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children", (2) "And thou shalt speak of them", (3) "When thou sittest in thy house", (4) "And when thou goest by the way", (5) "And when thou liest down", (6) "And when thou risest up", (7) "And thou shalt bind them for a sign on thy hand", (8) "And they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes", (9) "And thou shalt write them upon the doorposts of thy house", (10) "And upon thy gates". Hence this section is a fundamental portion of the Law; blessed is he who recites it completely twice every day. since then the Holy Name is fitly sanctified in his mouth.'

R. Aha once rose after midnight with R. Eleazar to study the Torah. R. Eleazar cited the verse: "For it is thy life and the length of thy days" (Deut. XXXII, 47). 'Observe', he said. 'that above all the stipulations which God made with Israel when they entered the Holy Land was the stipulation that they should study the Torah. Why so? Because the Divine Presence finds a home in the land only through the Torah. and it finds a home above only through the Torah. For so my father has said: The Oral Law has been made known only for the sake of the Written Law, and the Shekinah finds a home above and below only through the Torah.' As they were sitting, R. Simeon bent his head and said: 'Assuredly it is so, and this secret I have found in the Book of R. Hamnuna the Ancient, who applied to the Community of Israel the verse: "Her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage shall he not diminish" (Ex. XXI, 10); and if they are withheld from her, then it is written, "She shall go out for nothing without money". He that withholds the Torah from her is like one who withholds the raiment of his wife from her, so that she is left as a widow without being a widow.'

They sat and studied the Torah till daylight, when they resumed their journey. As they went along they saw a man going on the road with his head shrouded. When they came near him they found that he was muttering [268b] with his lips, and he made no answer to their greeting. Said R. Eleazar: 'Of a surety this man is consulting his Master.' R. Eleazar and R. Aha sat down and said their prayers, while the man stood upright in another place. They went on their way and the man went another way. Said R. Eleazar: 'Either that man is a fool or an evildoer.' He then said 'Let us occupy ourselves with the Torah, for it is time.' Before he could commence, the man came up to them. Said R. Eleazar: 'We must not interrupt our study, for he who studies the Torah becomes worthy of obtaining the heavenly inheritance in the glory of the supernal Holy King, and also of an inheritance in this world, which is called "the glory of the Lord". For when a man walks in the path of rectitude before the Holy One, and occupies himself with. the Torah, he inherits that "glory of the Lord" for himself, and he has many protectors and advocates above who point out his merits before the Holy King, but if a man does not study the Torah nor walk in the way of his Master, then God appoints for him an accuser, who flies about in the air but does not at first go aloft, in case that man will repent of his sins. When he sees that he does not repent, and does not seek to study the Torah, he goes aloft and points out his guilt.'

He then discoursed on the verse: "And if the family of Egypt go not up and come not, neither upon them shall be the plague", etc. (Zech. XIV, 18). Why does it not say here, "not upon them shall be the rain", as in the case of all the other peoples? It is because, as the Companions have pointed out, the land of Egypt does not require rain, and therefore another punishment was decreed against them. But the Holy Land was ever watered from the heavens, and therefore when Israel studied the Torah it was watered properly; and he who withheld Torah from it was like one withholding good from heaven.'

They went into a cave which was by the road, and the man went in with them. They sat down, and the man opened a discourse on the verse, "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face", etc. (Ex. XXXIII, 11). 'This verse', he said, 'does not seem to hang together properly; first it says, "God spake to Moses face to face", then, "Moses returned to the camp", then, "And his minister Joshua the son of Nun, a young man", etc. What does it mean?' Said R. Eleazar: 'Verily God desired to honour us, for now we are associated with the Shekinah, which has not departed from us. Let him who has opened the discourse continue it.' The man then proceeded: 'Moses was separated by many degrees from all the other prophets, who bore the same relation to him as an ape to a human being. Other prophets beheld visions in a glass that did not illumine, and even so they did not venture to lift up their eyes and gaze above, but were like Daniel, who said, "I was fallen into a deep sleep on my face, and my face was upon the ground" (Dan. X, 9); nor was their message given to them in clear terms. Not so was Moses, the faithful prophet: he saw his vision in a luminous glass [11] and still stood upright, and he dared to raise his head and gaze upwards, like one to whom his neighbour says: Lift up your head and look me in the face in order that you may know what I say. So Moses raised his head without fear and gazed [269a] at the brightness of the supernal glory without losing his senses like the other prophets, who when they prophesied were bereft of their faculties and became transformed and knew nothing at all of this world. Not so Moses, for even while he was in that exalted grade he did not lose his faculties, and straightway after gazing on the brightness of the heavenly glory he "returned to the camp" to speak to them concerning all their requirements, and his mind was as clear as before, and more so. "His minister Joshua the son of Nun, a young man", derived instruction from "the tent", [12] where he learnt to contemplate in the holy spirit. So long as he was with Moses he used to learn and derive instruction from "the tent" without fear, but after Moses departed from him and he was left alone, then we read of him that "he fell on his face on the ground and did worship" (Joshua V, 14), not being able to gaze even on the messenger of God; how much less so then on another place. There was a man with whom a king entrusted vessels of gold and precious stones. As long as they were with him the man's servant was able to handle them and examine them. When, however, the man died, the king would not leave anything with the servant and took back his deposit. Alas, exclaimed the servant, for what I have lost! When my master was alive I had the handling of all these. So while Moses was alive Joshua used to suck every day from the "tent" without fear, but when Moses died, then Joshua "fell on his face". So I, being in your company, will examine the words of the Torah and not be afraid. When, however, I leave you, I shall not be able to examine them by myself. He then continued:

'AND THOU SHALT TEACH THEM DILIGENTLY TO THY CHILDREN AND SHALT TALK OF THEM, ETC. A man should sharpen the intellect of his son on the words of the Torah like a two-edged sword, so that he should not be dull. THOU SHALT TALK OF THEM. Every word of the Torah has each its separate way. A man should conduct and guide himself by them so as not to turn aside right or left. WHEN THOU SITTEST IN THY HOUSE. A man should conduct himself with due propriety in his house, so as to set an example to his household, and he should also be gentle with them and not overawe them. AND WHEN THOU WALKEST BY THE WAY: to guide himself by the precepts of the Law and to direct himself by them in the fitting manner, and to prepare himself like Jacob for gift, for battle, and for prayer. AND WHEN THOU LIEST DOWN: to conduct himself in the fear of his Master, in holiness and humility, so as not to be bold of face towards his Master. AND WHEN THOU RISEST UP: to give praises to his Master for having restored his soul, in spite of his many sins before his Master, who, however, shows him lovingkindness and restores the soul to his body.

'AND THOU SHALT BIND THEM FOR A SIGN UPON THY HAND. Our colleagues who dwell in the South have explained the inner meaning of the four compartments of the phylacteries in their own way, viz., that the passage "sanctify to me every firstborn" is to correspond to the Supernal Crown (Kether); "and it shall come to pass when the Lord bringeth thee" to Wisdom; "hear, O Israel," to Binah; and "and it shall come to pass if thou hearkenest diligently" to Hesed. Then they are all combined in one on the left arm which is called Strength (Geburah). We, however, do not accept this view, because the Supreme Crown comprises all and is not reckoned (among the grades). Further, the section "and it shall come to pass [269b] when the Lord bringeth thee" is connected with the going forth from Egypt, and so with that place in which is freedom for slaves. [13] Hence our colleagues are not right. We commence from Wisdom, and we hold that the Holy One, blessed be He, wears them, four above, four below, four in the place of the brain, and four in the place where the heart is, because one is linked with the other. Man should crown himself with them, because they form the supernal Holy Name, and whoever crowns himself with the supernal Holy Crown is called king on earth as the Holy One, blessed be He, is king in the firmament. AND THOU SHALT WRITE THEM ON THE DOORPOSTS OF THY HOUSE AND ON THY GATES in order that a man may be found complete in all, complete in the precepts of his Master, inscribed above and inscribed below. Happy is the portion of Israel.'

R. Eleazar then discoursed as follows. 'We find sometimes the expression "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts", and sometimes "Thus saith the Lord God". What is the difference? A message opening with the words "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts" is one of mercy, whereas a message opening with "Thus saith the Lord God" is one of judgement. The reason is that in the first case the Koh (thus) [14] is blessed from the Zaddik and Nezah and Hod, which are called "the Lord of Hosts", and therefore the message is delivered in gentleness, since it comes from the place thereof. But in the other case it sucks from the side of judgement, from the side of the supernal Geburah; and I have learnt from my father that it is then judgement with mercy. Thus the prophet was careful to give the source of his message, and the sons of the true faith knew whence it depended.'

R. Aha then discoursed on the verse: "Curse ye Meroz, saith the angel of the Lord", etc. (Judges V, 23). 'This verse', he said, 'contains a profound mystery. When the Holy King handed over his house to the Matrona, he placed in her hands all kinds of weapons and engines of war, and put Her in command of all his warriors who are called "the mighty men of Israel, expert in war" (S.S. III, 7, 8); for when the Holy One, blessed be He, makes war, it is with these that He does so. We have learnt that when the Israelites vowed to uncover the holy impress on their flesh, [15] then that "sword that executeth the vengeance of the covenant" collected all its forces and armament to make war with Sisera, and the stars poured down fire from heaven, as it says, "The stars from their courses fought with Sisera" (Jud. V, 20). For God said to them: Be ready to execute the vengeance of my sons. I am going to exact a twofold vengeance from the enemy, once for the six hundred chariots which he lent the Egyptians to make war against Israel, and again for their oppression of my sons till now. Therefore they were judged with two punishments, one of fire and one of water. Among the stars was one which did not come to assist in the work of vengeance, and it was cursed for ever, so that when it commences to shine the other stars come and swallow it up with all its attendant stars, and they all vanish. Hence it says, "Curse ye Meroz, saith the angel of the Lord". It may be asked, Has an angel the right to say this? This, however, is the one of whom it is written, "And the angel of the Lord that went before the camp of Israel removed", etc. (Ex. XIV, 19), for to him belong [270a] all wars, and this is also the one whom Jacob called "The angel that delivered me" (Gen. XLVIII, 16). This one, too, will be supreme and glorious in the time to come, and through him the Holy Name will be magnified, and the Holy One, blessed be He, will take vengeance of the peoples.'

They went on until they came to R. Simeon, who on seeing them said: 'Behold, the Shekinah is here; of a truth we must show gratitude to the Shekinah.' He then discoursed on the verse: "Lo, it is yet high day", etc. (Gen. XXIX, 7). 'This verse', he said, 'has been expounded to signify that when Israel shall turn in repentance before the Holy One, blessed be He, through the merit of the Torah they shall return to the Holy Land and be gathered from exile. For the captivity of Israel is only one day and no more. If, therefore, they do not repent, God says: Behold it is still high day, it is not time that the cattle should be gathered together -- without merits or good deeds to their credit. You have, however, a remedy: "Water the sheep": study the Torah and drink of its waters, "and go and feed" in a restful spot, the desirable place of your inheritance. Or, again, we may take the "day" mentioned here to refer to the "day of discomfiture, of treading down, and of perplexity" (Isa. XXII, 5), when the Temple was destroyed and Israel went into captivity, and on account of their evil deeds that day is prolonged and drawn out. Therefore "water the sheep", as we have explained, with words of the Torah, for through the merit of the Torah Israel will escape from captivity. What do Israel reply? "We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together", that is, until the other supernal Days be gathered together, "so that they may roll the stone", roll away the stern judgement of that Day which commands the mouth of the "Well" that is in captivity with us. When that Well is released and the stone will no longer dominate it, then "we shall water the sheep". At the end of days God will restore Israel to the Holy Land and gather them from exile. This "end of days" is the "latter end of days" frequently mentioned in Scripture, which is also a name for the Community of Israel in exile. With this the Holy One, blessed be He, will execute vengeance, and He will also restore it to its place, as it is written, "And it shall come to pass in the latter end of days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established", etc. (Isa. II, 2). Just as when the Temple was destroyed the shadows commenced to fall, as it is written, "Woe unto us for the day declineth, for the shadows of evening are stretched out" (Jer. VI, 4), so at the end of the captivity the shadows will commence to pass. The extent of that shadow will be six fists and a half, measured by the hand of a man who is a man among men. The mnemonic for this mystery among the Companions is the verse, "For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, because our days upon earth are but a shadow" (Job VIII, 9): that is to say: We are but from yesterday in captivity, and we did not know that the shadow is for God to settle us upon the land. Happy he that sees it and happy he that does not see it. Woe to him who will be at hand when the mighty lion seeks to join his mate, still more when they actually do join. Of that time it is written, "The lion roareth, who will not fear", etc. (Amos. III, 8). Of that time it is also written, "And the Lord God will turn thy captivity", etc. (Deut. XXX, 3): the Community of Israel will return from exile and the Zaddik will return to occupy his place.'

_______________

Notes:

1. i.e. fringes and phylacteries.

2. v. T.B. Berachoth, 10b.

3. Ibid., 28b, Aboth II.

4. T.B. Berachoth, 10b.

5. v. T.B. Baba Bathra, 75a.

6. According to the Rabbis, the Israelites heard the first two commandments directly from God, the rest from Moses. T.B. Maccoth, 24a.

7. The fringes.

8. The shoe used in the ceremony of halizah.

9. T.B. Berachoth, 54a.

10. v. Bereshith Rabba, 22b.

11. T.B. Yebamoth. 49b.

12. The Shekinah.

13. Binah.

14. A name of the Shekinah.

15. At the time of circumcision.
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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:00 am

VAYELECH

Deuteronomy XXXI, 1-30

AND MOSES WENT AND SPAKE THESE WORDS UNTO ALL ISRAEL. R. Hizkiah cited here the verse: "That caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, that divided the water before them" (Isa. LXIII, 12). 'Happy', he said, 'are Israel in that God chose them, and because He chose them He called them sons, [283b] firstborn, holy, brothers, and came down to dwell among them and sought to establish them after the supernal pattern, and spread over them seven clouds of glory. Three holy brethren accompanied them, Moses, Aaron and Miriam, and for their sakes God gave them precious gifts. All the days of Aaron the clouds of glory did not depart from Israel, and Aaron, as we have stated, was the right hand of Israel, and therefore it is written, "that caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses": this refers to Aaron. Therefore Aaron being dead it says now that Moses "went", like a body without an arm, as it says, "and they went without strength before the enemy" (Lam. I, 5).

'All the days of Moses the children of Israel ate bread from heaven, but as soon as Joshua came "the manna ceased on the next day ... and they ate of the produce of the land" (Joshua v, 12). What is the difference between them? One is from the higher source and the other from the lower. As long as Moses was alive the orb of the sun was in the ascendant and illumined the world, but as soon as Moses departed the orb of the sun was gathered in and the moon came forth. We have learnt that when God said to Moses, "Behold my angel shall go before thee" (Ex. XXIII, 23), Moses said, "Shall the radiance of the sun be gathered in and the moon lead us? I desire not the orb of the moon, but that of the sun". Then the orb of the sun shone forth and Moses became like the orb of the sun to Israel; and when Moses was gathered in the orb of the sun was gathered in and the moon shone and Joshua used the light of the moon. Alas for this degradation!

'AND HE SAID TO THEM, I AM AN HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS OLD THIS DAY. This bears out what R. Eleazar said, that the sun illumined Israel for forty years and was then gathered in, and the moon commenced to shine.' R. Simeon said: 'This accords with the verse: "There is that is destroyed without justice" (Prov. XIII, 23), which has caused some difficulty to the Companions. The explanation is this. It has already been stated that all spirits issue from heaven in pairs, male and female, and then separate. Sometimes the spirit of the female goes forth before the male which is her mate, and as long as the time of the male has not come to be united with her another can come and marry her, but when the time of the first one arrives to marry her, when Zedek (Righteousness) arises to visit the sins of the world, this other that married her is gathered in and the first comes and marries her. And even though his works were not particularly evil, he is gathered in before his time and not in accordance with judgement, and the doom of Zedek lights on him for his sins because die time of the other to whom she belongs has come.' R. Eleazar asked; 'Why should he die? Cannot God separate them and let the other come and give her to him?' He replied: 'This is the kindness that God does with a man, that he should not see his wife in the hand of another. Observe, too, that if the first [284a] is not deserving, even though the woman is his by rights, the other is not removed to make way for him. In the same way Saul obtained the kingdom, because the time of David, to whom it rightfully belonged, had not yet come. But when" David's time arrived to come into his own, Zedek arose and gathered in Saul on account of his sins, and he had to make way for David. If it is asked, Could not Saul have lost the kingdom without also dying, the answer is that God did him a kindness in gathering him in while he was yet king so that he should not see his servant ruling over him and taking what was formerly his. So here too. Therefore a man should pray to God that he be not thrust out to make way for another. So, too, God said to Moses: Do you want to overturn the world? Have you ever seen the sun serving the moon? Have you ever seen the moon shining when the sun is still high? BEHOLD THY DAYS APPROACH THAT THOU MUST DIE, CALL JOSHUA; let the sun be gathered in and the moon rule. Nay more, if thou enterest the land the moon will be gathered in before thee and have no sway. The time has come for the dominion of the moon, but it cannot rule while thou art in the world.

'THAT I MAY GIVE HIM A CHARGE. We find, in fact, that God gave no charge to Joshua, but only to Moses. Why, then, does it say, "that I may give him a charge"? What it means is this. God said to Moses: Although thou liest with thy fathers, thou wilt still be existing to give light to the moon, just as the sun even after it has set continues to give light to the moon. Therefore I will charge Joshua to be illumined, and therefore it says also, "command Joshua and encourage him" (Deut. III, 28): charge him, that is, to give light.

'FOR THOU SHALT BRING THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL. And previously (V. 7) it says, "thou shalt come with this people". Why this variation? One was to announce to him that he would enter the land and remain on it, the other that he would have sway over Israel.'

R. Simeon discoursed on the verse: "From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, glory to the righteous", etc. (Isa. XXIV, 16). 'These songs are the praises uttered by the Community of Israel before the Holy One, blessed be He, at night, at the time when He holds joyous converse with the righteous in the Garden of Eden. When is this? From midnight onwards. And for what purpose? To be united with the Holy One, blessed be He, [284b] and to be sanctified with the same holiness. The verse continues: "I pine away, I pine away, woe is me. The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously". Woe is me for the generation and for the world! For all are false to Him, and their children inherit their treachery and add to it their own, and so become defective both above and below. When Isaiah saw this, he gathered all who feared sin and taught them the way of holiness and the sanctity of the King that their sons might be holy; and therefore the sons they bore were called after his name, wherefore it says, "Behold I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and wonders in Israel" (Isa. VIII, 18). Another explanation of this verse ("From the uttermost part of the earth", etc.) is that when the Israelites came into the land with the Ark of the holy covenant before them, they heard from one side of the land the sound of joyful praises and the voice of sweet singers who were singing in the land. And this redounded to the praise of Moses, that wherever the ark rested in the land they heard a voice saying, "This is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel". But woe is me that the traitors have dealt treacherously, that Israel are destined to be false to God and to be uprooted from the land, and because their children persist in their falsehood they will be uprooted a second time until their guilt will be expiated in a foreign land.

'THAT IT MAY BE THERE FOR A WITNESS AGAINST THEE. Three things [are recorded in Scripture as] having been made witnesses, namely, the well of Isaac, the lot, and the stone which Joshua set up. This song, however, is the best witness of all.' Said R. Isaac: 'If so, there are four?' He replied: 'The term "witness" is not specifically applied to the lot in Scripture, though it says "by the mouth of the lot shall their inheritance be divided" (Num. XXVI, 55).'

AND MOSES SPAKE THE WORDS OF THIS SONG UNTIL THEY WERE FINISHED. R. Eleazar asked: 'Why does it say here, "the words of this song" and not simply "this song"? The reason is that all the words which Moses spoke were traced with the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, and then every word came to Moses to be traced by him and remained before him. How is it, it may be asked, that for the song of Solomon the masculine term shir (song) is used, and for the song of Moses the feminine term shirah? Seeing that, as we have learnt, all the other prophets were in comparison to Moses like an ape compared to a man, should not Moses have said shir and the other shirah? [285a] The answer is that Moses was speaking not for himself but for Israel.' R. Simeon said: 'This is not so, but the truth is that this itself is a proof of the superiority of Moses. For Moses went up, from the lower to the higher, but they came down, from the higher to the lower. Moses said shirah, which is the song of the Matrona in honour of the King, and he was attached to the King. They said shir, which is the song of the King in honour of the Matrona, and they were attached to the Matrona; and thus the superiority of Moses was here displayed. We may also say that Moses used the term "shirah" to connect his words with the place from which judgement could be visited on them, since he had already said, "For I know their imagination", etc. (V. 21), and also, "For I know that after my death", etc. (V. 29). We find it also written, however, "And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song (shirah, 2 Sam. XXII, 1). It is to the honour of David that he attained to this grade of inditing a shirah from the lower to the higher. This was towards the end of his days, when he had reached a higher stage of perfection. And why was he worthy to indite such a hymn, from the lower to the higher, at the end of his days? Because he had peace on all sides, as it is written, "On the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies" (Ibid.).'

R. Simeon said: 'What is the most perfect hymn? One that is addressed both by the lower to the higher and by the higher to the lower, and which then combines the two. From whose example do we know this? From this song of Moses. First the lower addresses the higher in the words, "For I will call on the name of the Lord", and again, "Ascribe greatness to our God", the reference being to the Most High King. Afterwards he traces the degrees from higher to lower, as it is written, "righteous and upright". Finally the knot of faith is tied in the words "he is". This should be the example for every man in arranging the praises of his Master. At first he should ascend from the lower to the higher till he carries the honour of his Master to the place whence issues the stream of the most recondite fountain. Then he draws it downwards from that moistening stream to each grade in turn down to the lowest grade, so that blessings are drawn to all from on high. Then he has to knit all firmly together with the knot of faith, and this is the man who honours the name of his Master by unifying the Holy Name. Of such a one it is written, "Them that honour me I will honour" (I Sam. II, 30), that is, them that honour Me in this world I will honour in the next. "But", the verse goes on, "they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed". This applies to one who does not know how to unify the Holy Name, to bind the knot of faith, and to bring blessings to the proper place; for whoever does not know how to honour the name of his Master were better not to have been born. R. Judah says that these words apply to one who does not answer "Amen" with devotion, since we have learnt: Greater is he that answers "Amen" than he that says the blessing. [1] For so we have explained in the presence of R. Simeon, that Amen draws blessings from the Source to the King and from the King to the Matrona; in the inscribed letters of R. Eleazar, from A to M and from M to N, and when the blessings come to N, from there [285b] they issue forth to higher and lower and spread through all, and a voice proclaims, "Drink from the stream of blessings that So-and-so the servant of the Holy King has sent forth". And when Israel below are careful to answer "Amen" with fitting devotion, many doors of blessing are opened for them above, many blessings are spread through all worlds, and great is the joy throughout. For this Israel receive a reward in this world and in the next. In this world because when Israel are oppressed and offer up prayer a voice proclaims in all worlds, "Open ye the gates that the righteous nation which keepeth truth may enter in" (Isa. XXVI, 2): as Israel open for you gates of blessing, so open the gates for them and let their prayer be received for deliverance from their oppressors. In the next world what is their reward? That when a man who was careful to answer Amen departs from this world, his soul ascends and they proclaim before him: Open the gates before him [2] as he opened gates every day by being careful to answer Amen. But if one hears a blessing from the reader and is not careful to answer Amen, what is his punishment? As he did not open blessings below, 80 they do not open for him above, and when he leaves this world they proclaim before him: Close the gates in the face of So-and-so that he enter not, and do not receive him -- woe to him and to his soul! We have learnt that the sinners of Gehinnom are in different storeys, and that Gehinnom has a number of gates corresponding to those of the Garden of Eden, each with its own name. There is one storey lower than all the rest which consists of a storey on a storey, and this is called the nether Sheol, "sheol" being one storey and "nether" another below it. We have learnt that he who descends to Abadon, [286a] which is called "nether", never ascends again, and he is called "a man who has been wiped out from all worlds". To this place they take down those who scorn to answer Amen, and for all the amens which they have neglected they are judged in Gehinnom and taken down to that lowest storey which has no outlet, and from which they never ascend. Of such it is written, "As the cloud is consumed and withereth away, so he that goeth down to Sheol shall come up no more" (Job VII, 9); this refers to that nether storey.' R. Jose cited the verse: "For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and have hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jer. II, 13). ' "They have forsaken me", by refusing to sanctify the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, with Amen; and their punishment is "to hew out broken cisterns", by being taken down to Gehinnom storey after storey till they reach Abadon, which is called "nether". But if one sanctifies the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, by answering Amen with all his heart, he ascends grade after grade till he is regaled with that World-to-come which perennially issues forth.'

R. Eleazar said: 'Israel will one day indite a chant from the lower to the higher and from the higher to the lower and tie the knot of faith, as it is written, "Then shall Israel sing (yashir) this song" (Num. XXI, 17), from the lower to the higher. "Spring up, O well, sing ye to it": that is, ascend to thy place to unite with thy Spouse. This is from the lower to the higher; then from the higher to the lower in the words, "The well which the princes digged" -- for it was begotten of the Father and the Mother, "which the nobles of the people delved", as a place for the King to join her with blessings. And through what shall be their union?" "With the sceptre": this is Yesod; "And with their staves": these are Nezah and Hod. Thus we have from the higher to the lower. Then the song proceeds: "And from the wilderness to Mattanah and from Mattanah to Nahaliel and from Nahaliel to Bamoth": this is the complete bond of faith, the permanent bond wherein is all.'

R. Jose said: 'Israel will one day utter a complete song comprising all other songs, as it says: "And in that day shall ye say, Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the peoples" (Isa. XII, 4).'

_______________

Notes:

1. T.B. Berachoth, 57b.

2 v. T.B. Shabbath, 119b.
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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:01 am

HA'AZINU

Deuteronomy XXII, 1-52

GIVE EAR, YE HEAVENS, AND I WILL SPEAK, ETC. R. Judah cited here the verse: "I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had withdrawn himself and was gone", etc. (S.S. V, 6). 'And just before this it is written, "I was asleep but my heart waked" (Ibid. 2). Said the Community of Israel: I was asleep to the precepts of the Law when I went in the wilderness, but my heart was awake to enter the land so as to perform them, since they all are meant for the land. "It is the voice of my beloved that knocketh": this is Moses, who administered many reproofs [286b] and rebukes, as it says, "These are the words", etc. (Deut. I, 1). "Ye were rebellious", etc. (Ibid. IX, 24). Yet withal he spoke only in love for Israel, as it says, "Ye are a holy people", etc. (Ibid. VII. 6). Said the Israelites: When we were about to enter into the land and to receive precepts of the Law, then "my beloved withdrew himself and was gone", for "Moses the servant of the Lord died there". "I sought him but I could not find him", as it is written, "There arose not a prophet like Moses". "I called him but he gave me no answer", for there was no generation like that of Moses, one to whose voice God hearkened and for whom He did such wonders and miracles. R. Isaac said: "I rose to open to my beloved": this was in the days of Moses, during the whole of which there was no need of angel or messenger to guide Israel. "My beloved had withdrawn himself and was gone": this was in the days of Joshua, as it is written, "Nay, but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come" (Joshua V, 14). Moses heard the voice of the holy supernal King without trembling; "I came in the days of Moses thy master but he would not accept me". Then did the children of Israel realize the greatness of Moses; they sought the Holy One. blessed be He, but He was no longer at hand for them as in the days of Moses.'

GIVE EAR, YE HEAVENS, AND I WILL SPEAK. R. Hiya said: 'Blessed is Moses in that he was superior to all other prophets. For Isaiah being further removed from the King said only, "Hear, heavens", but Moses being nearer to the King [1] said, "Give ear". We have learnt that when Isaiah said "Hear, heavens, and give ear, earth", many translucent angels sought to break his head and a voice came forth saying: Who is this that seeks to throw the world into confusion; and he therefore made haste to say: I do this not of myself, but "the Lord speaketh". In regard to Moses, however, it says, "Hear, ye heavens, and I will speak" -- I, and no other, "and let the earth hear my voice" -- mine and no other's.' R. Jose said: 'There is a further difference between Moses and Isaiah in that Moses said, "Give ear, the heavens", that is, those highest heavens which are called the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, and further, "and let the earth hear", the upper earth, the land of the living. But Isaiah said only "heaven" and "earth", meaning the lower heaven and earth, and withal he was nearly punished.'

R. Isaac discoursed on the verse: "As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons" (S.S. II, 3). 'Just as the apple is superior in its colouring to all other fruits, so the Holy One, blessed be He, is distinguished from all forces, higher and lower. Observe that the Holy One, blessed be He, is compared to the apple, which has three colours, and the Community of Israel to the lily, which has two, red and white.' [287a] R. Judah said: 'The Holy One, blessed be He, is called Heaven, and because He is called heaven, therefore all the seven firmaments which are included under this name when they are joined together are also called heaven and are called the name of the Holy One, blessed be He.'

R. Jose asked: 'Why is this discourse called "song"?' R. Isaac answered: 'Just as [287b] a song is drawn from heaven to earth by the holy spirit, so these words were drawn from heaven to earth by the holy spirit. Observe that Moses made a long exordium saying, "Give ear, ye heavens, and hear, O earth, let my discourse drop as the dew", etc. Why all this? "Because I will call on the name of the Lord". We have learnt that when Moses said "Give ear, ye heavens, and I will speak", all worlds were shaken. A voice came forth and said: Moses, why dost thou shake the world, being but a mortal? He replied: Because I will call on the name of the Lord. Forthwith they were silent and listened to his words.' [2] [296b]

R. Jose said: 'God first called Israel "holy", as it is written, "For thou art a holy people", etc. (Deut. XIV, 2). Then He called them "holiness", as it is written, "Israel is holiness (kodesh) to the Lord, the firstfruits [297a] of his increase" (Jer. II, 3). What is the difference between the two terms?' R. Abba said: ' "Holiness" is higher than all, for so we have learnt that when all sanctities are combined they are called "holiness", and all assemble together to that place which is called "holiness".' R. Eleazar said: 'The beginning and end of all is comprised in "holiness", and the supreme Wisdom is called "holiness", and when this Wisdom shines forth the wisdom of Solomon is illumined, the Moon being then at the full. When it is illumined from Yesod we call it "holiness" when this illumines her fully, but when it is not illumined completely we call it "the spirit of holiness". And when it is blessed from Yesod and gives suck to all below, we call it Mother, and we call them "holinesses", and so it becomes "holy of holies".'

FOR I WILL PROCLAIM THE NAME OF THE LORD, ETC. R. Abba said: '"Ascribe ye greatness" refers to Gedulah; "The Rock, his work is perfect" to Geburah; "For all his ways are judgement" to Tifereth; "a God of faithfulness" to Nezah; "and without iniquity" to Hod; "just" to Yesod; "and right" to Zedek; "is he" completes the holy name of the Holy One, blessed be He.' R. Jose said: 'Then only did Moses reveal this name to the children of Israel, as it is written, "I am an hundred and twenty years old this day", etc. (Deut. XXXI, 2). From this we learn that one in whom resides divine wisdom, when his time arrives to depart from the world, should reveal that wisdom to those among whom is the holy spirit. If he does not, we apply to him the words, "Withhold not good from them to whom it is due when it is in the power of thine hand to do it" (Prov. III, 27).' R. Hiya said: 'The end of this verse makes fast the knot of faith in the word "he", as if to say "He is all, He is one without division", and all the others mentioned are not diverse but are all united in One, who is, was, and will be. Happy is he who calls upon the King and knows how to call upon him fittingly. But if one calls without knowing to whom he calls, the Holy One, blessed be He, is far from him, as it is written, "God is near to all who call upon him, (to wit) to all who call upon him in truth" (Ps. CXLV, 18). Is there, then, one who calls upon Him in falsehood?' Said R. Abba: 'Yes; he that calls and knows not to whom he calls.

'THEY HAVE CORRUPTED THEMSELVES, THEY ARE NOT HIS CHILDREN, IT IS THEIR BLEMISH. We have learnt: Sinners, if one may say so, create a blemish above, [297b] in that through them all the divine adornments are not in their proper condition.' Said R. Jose: 'What is the blemish? That the Fathers do not obtain full blessing from the watering of the Stream, and even less of course the Children.' Similarly R. Simeon said: 'When sinners are numerous in the world, the Holy Name, if one may say so, is not blessed in the world, but when sinners are not numerous, the Holy Name is blessed in the world.' R. Abba said: 'This text also says so explicitly. Who is the cause of the corruption here mentioned? "A perverse and crooked generation." Hence, after Moses had expressed the Holy Name in fitting manner, closing with the words, "just and right is he", he went on, "but they corrupted themselves being not his sons", etc. Why? Because they were a perverse and crooked generation.

'Do YE THUS REQUITE THE LORD, to wit, for all those kindnesses that He has shown thee.' R. Eleazar said: 'Blessed are Israel above all heathen peoples, because although they have provoked their Master, the Holy One, blessed be He, was fain not to abandon them. For in every place to which they have been exiled the Holy One, blessed be He, is with them in their banishment, as it is written, "And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies I will not reject them", etc. (Lev. XXVI, 44). Now how great is the love of the Holy One, blessed be He, for Israel, for although they brought exile upon themselves the Shekinah never leaves them, as it says, "and this (zoth) also (is with them) when they are in the land of their enemies". A king had a son who provoked him so that he condemned him to depart from him and to go to a distant land. The Queen on hearing this said: Seeing that my son is going to a distant land and the King casts him out of his palace, I will not leave him, but either we will both return together to the palace or both will dwell together in another land. In course of time the King sought the Queen and did not find her, because she had gone with her son. He said: Since the Queen is there, let them both return. But it is the Queen whom the King seeks out first, and for her sake he seeks out his son, as it is written, "I have heard the groaning of the children of Israel". Why? Because "I remember my Covenant" (Ex. VI, 5).' [298a]

As R. Isaac was once journeying on the road, R. Hiya met him. He said to him: 'I see from the look of your face that your abode is with the Shekinah. Why is it written, "And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians"? Surely it should be, "And I shall come down"? It means, however, "I went down at first", namely, when Jacob went down to Egypt; I then went down to deliver them from the hand of the Egyptians, since otherwise they could not have endured the captivity; and so it says, "I am with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him" (Ps. XCI, 15).' He replied: 'Of a truth wherever Israel dwell the Holy One, blessed be He, is among them, and wherever the wise of the generation walk the Holy One, blessed be He, walks with them. How do we know? From Jacob, of whom it is written, "And Jacob went on his way" (Gen. XXII, 1), and then, "And Jacob said when he saw them, This is God's host". Now let us join one another and proceed, as I know we are going to the same place, to pay our respects to the Shekinah.' 'Assuredly so,' replied the other. As they went along, R. Hiya said: 'It is written, "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth" (Gen. II, 4). "The heavens" includes the Holy One, blessed be He, and "the earth" includes the Holy One, blessed be He, and all that is lower is called "the generations of the heavens". We have learnt that this world was created with He and the future world with Vau. From the Head of the King the streams issue forth to Binah, and thence they flow to all corners until finally they are collected in the place called the Great Sea, whence issue generations for all.' Said R. Isaac: 'When we studied with R. Simeon, all this was set forth explicitly and not by way of allusion.' He replied: 'R. Simeon is not like other men, for they are to him as the other prophets to Moses.'

As they went along, R. Hiya asked R. Isaac the meaning of the verse: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?" (Isa. LXIX, 15)'. Said the other: 'If in the company of the colleagues we could find no proper explanation for it, how can I say?' He thereupon said: 'I once caught a hint of the meaning as I was going along the road, but I do not know who said it or exactly what he meant. For seven days I was troubled by this and did not eat anything, and now I am going to the Sacred Lamp in case he may be able to remind me.' Said R. Isaac: 'Perhaps it was the day when R. Eleazar was going to his father-in-law, and I was with him, and I can remember. For thus said R. Eleazar in the name of his father: Israel said before the Holy One, blessed be He: Since the day that we fell into captivity God has forsaken and forgotten us, as it is written, "But Zion said, The Lord hath forgotten me" (Ibid. 14). Whereupon the Shekinah replied: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son [298b] of her womb?" "Yea, these may forget" -- to wit, those mentioned in the verse, "These are the generations of heaven and earth", "yet will not I forget thee". This shows that the Holy One, blessed be He, will not forsake Israel for ever. Further, there is a deep mystery here, since God said that "these" things are attached to His name, and just as the Holy One, blessed be He, cannot forget His name, which is all, so He does not forget Israel, who are attached to His very name.' R. Hiya thereupon became excited and said: 'In truth that is the thing. Blessed be God that I reminded you, so that now I know what it was and who said it. I ran four miles that day and could not find out who it was.' R. Isaac said: 'I heard it because I went into a cave where R. Eleazar was resting.'

REMEMBER THE DAYS OF OLD, CONSIDER THE YEARS OF MANY GENERATIONS. R. Abba said: 'The "days of old" are the six Days in which God made the world; and these Days know and are acquainted with all the years of the world, and all generations up to this generation to which we ourselves belong. ASK THY FATHER AND HE WILL SHOW THEE: this is the Holy One, blessed be He, who will reveal to thee the hidden depths of Wisdom, to wit, that when those six Days constructed the universe they did so only for thy sake that thou mightest come and perform the Law, as we have learnt, that God made a condition with creation that if when Israel came they would accept the Torah it should stand, and if not that it should revert to chaos. Therefore God assigned other peoples to Chieftains and Overseers, but of you it is written, FOR THE LORD'S PORTION IS HIS PEOPLE, JACOB IS THE LOT OF HIS INHERITANCE, since He assigned them to no Potentate or Angel or Chieftain, but took them for his own portion. Where did He find them? IN A DESERT LAND AND IN A WASTE HOWLING WILDERNESS, as it is written, "Terah the father of Abraham ... and I took your father Abraham", etc. (Joshua XXIV, 2, 3); and from there He guided Israel in every generation, never separating from them.'

AS AN EAGLE THAT STIRRETH UP HER NEST. R. Jose said: 'There is no creature so devoted to her young as the eagle, being as kind to them as it is cruel to others. THE LORD ALONE DID LEAD HIM AND THERE WAS NO STRANGE GOD WITH HIM: He alone, as it is written, "And the Lord went before them", etc. (Ex. XIII, 21), and they were not led by an angel or any other Chieftain such as are called "strange god".'

O THAT THEY WERE WISE, THAT THEY UNDERSTOOD THIS. R. Jose said: 'All the verses of this section are reproofs addressed by Moses to Israel, with the exception of the Holy Name which he disclosed at the beginning of his discourse.' R. Abba said: 'Even his reproofs are included in the holy name, since there is no word in the Torah which is not comprised in the holy name. That the name [299a] of the Holy One, blessed be He, however, might be inscribed in this section, we have had to wait till here, where it is indeed written, "O that they were wise, that they understood this (zoth)", meaning that if Israel knew how zoth takes hold of judgement to punish sinners "they would consider their latter end", and take heed to be faithful to her. Or we may explain that She is united with Israel when they keep the precepts of the Torah and dwell with Her in peace, and then they know that this zoth is on their side to help them to punish their enemies. Israel who are the least of nations will then know "how one should chase a thousand and two put ten thousand to flight".

'EXCEPT THEIR ROCK HAD SOLD THEM AND THE LORD HAD DELIVERED THEM UP. Why so? Because "Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful" (V. 18), and the divine adornments are not in their proper place.' R. Judah said: 'The "rock" here is Abraham, who said, "Let Israel be condemned to exile rather than to Gehinnom", and God consented, so that whenever Israel sin they are sent into captivity and their enemies rule over them.' R. Judah said: 'Why did Moses reprove Israel thus in this song? Because they were about to enter into the land where the Shekinah would dwell in their midst.' R. Isaac said: 'When the prophet said, "The Lord hath a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways" (Hosea XII, 2), the nations of the world exulted, saying: "Now they will be utterly destroyed". But when God saw them rejoicing, He changed His mind, and it is written, "In the womb he took his brother by the heel", etc. (Hos. XII, 4). A woman had a quarrel with her son, and went to complain against him to the court. When she saw the judge condemning prisoners to stripes, to crucifying, to burning, she said: Alas, what shall I do with my son? When the judge was ready he said to her: Tell me what I shall do with your son. She said: I was only shouting.

'HE FOUND HIM IN A DESERT LAND AND IN THE WASTE HOWLING WILDERNESS. Assuredly he afterwards made all those "shells" [3] subservient to him.

'Up to this point this section was transcribed in the Book of Kartana the physician. Then in a note to this verse were set down all the precautions that a wise physician should take for a person laid up in his sickness, among the prisoners of the King, for the service of his Master, the Lord of the Universe. When the wise physician goes in to him, he "finds him in a desert land and in the waste howling wilderness". Are we to say that because God has commanded him to be seized, no one should seek to help him? Not so, for David said, "Blessed is he that considereth the poor" (Ps. XLI, 2), and the "poor" is one confined to a bed of sickness. What, then, is the wise physician to do? He "compasses him about", finding means to protect him against the things that injure him, by letting blood and removing the bad blood from him. "He cares for him", examining the cause of the disease, and taking steps that it should not grow worse. Then "he keeps him as the apple of his eye", that he may be careful to prescribe for him the proper medicines, since if he makes a mistake in a single particular God imputes it to him as if he were to shed blood, for, although that man is among the prisoners of the King, yet God desires that his fellow man should tend him and help to release him from the prison. He used to say thus: Goo passes sentence on human beings above, whether for death or [299b] banishment or confiscation of goods or imprisonment. He who is liable to confiscation of goods falls ill and is not healed until he pays all that is decreed against him. When he has paid his money penalty he is healed and goes out from his prison, and therefore it is fitting that one should assist him to pay his fine and be released. He who is liable to uprooting is seized and thrown into the prison until he is completely uprooted, though sometimes he is uprooted only from his limbs or from one of them and is then released. But one who is liable to death cannot save himself by any ransom whatever. Hence a wise physician must do his best first to provide him a healing for his body, and if he cannot do this he must try to find a healing for his soul. This is the physician whom God assists both in this world and in the next.' R. Eleazar said: 'I never heard before of this physician and this book, save once when a certain merchant told me that he had heard his father say that in his days there was a physician who on looking at a patient would say: This one will live, or this one will die. He was said to be a virtuous God-fearing man, and if a patient could not afford to get what he prescribed he would give him out of his own pocket. It was said, too, that there was no physician so skilful as he, and that he accomplished more with his prayer than with his hands. I fancy this was that same physician. Said that merchant: His book is indeed in my possession, as 1 inherited it from my father's father, and all the words of that book are founded upon hidden meanings of the Torah, and 1 have discovered profound secrets in it and many remedies which he said should not be administered save by one who was God-fearing, they being of those which were employed by Balaam, who used to utter an incantation over a sickness and heal it forthwith. All this he explained in that book, saying: This is forbidden and this is permitted to one who fears sin, since, as he said, the cure of many illnesses depends on the incantation. These are from the side of enchantment, some of them from the side of magic. All those which it is forbidden to pronounce with the mouth or to do with the hands were set down, and we found that certain diseases it was necessary to excommunicate, which was a great wonder to us.' R. Eleazar and the Companions were greatly interested to hear this. Said R. Eleazar: 'If 1 had that book I would see what it says, and I vow that I would show it to the Sacred Lamp'. We have learnt that R. Eleazar said: I had that book for twelve months and I found in it many illuminating things. When I came to the incantations of Balaam I was in some perplexity. One day I uttered one in a certain place, and letters went up and down and a voice said to me in a dream: Why dost thou enter into a domain which is not thine and not thy concern? When I woke I was sore displeased with the hidden mysteries there. I sent to a certain Jew named R. Jose, son of R. Judah, and gave him the book. In the secrets of Balaam I had found some of the names of the angels which Dalak sent to him, but not set down in the proper manner. I also, however, found a number of remedies which were based on arrangements of texts and secret mysteries of the Torah, and saw that they consisted of pious remarks and prayers and supplications to the Almighty. It must not be thought, however, that he performed healing with verses of the Scripture or with mysteries of the Torah; far from it. He used to pronounce mysteries of the Torah, and thereby he discovered secret healings the like of which I have never seen. I said: Blessed be God who has imparted to man of the supernal wisdom. I also took some of the words of Balaam, from which I could see that there never was a sorcerer like him. I said: Blessed be God for removing sorcery from the world, so that men should not be led astray from the fear of the Holy One, blessed be He.

_______________

Notes:

1. v. Yalkut, Is. I.

2. Here in the original follows the Idra Zuta.

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:14 am

We have learnt that on the dread day when a man's time comes to depart from the world, four quarters of the world indict him, and punishments rise up from all four quarters, and four elements fall to quarrelling and seek to depart each to its own side. Then a herald goes forth and makes proclamation, which is heard in two hundred and seventy worlds. If the man is worthy, all the worlds welcome him with joy, but if not, alas for that man and his portion! We have learnt that when the herald makes proclamation, a flame goes forth from the North and passes through the "stream of fire", and divides itself to the four quarters of the world to burn the souls of sinners. It then goes forth and flies up and down till it alights between the wings of a black cock. The cock then flaps its wings and cries out at the threshold of the gate. The first time it cries: "Behold, the day cometh burning like a furnace, etc." (Mal. III, 19). The second time it cries: "For lo, he that formeth the mountains and createth the wind and declareth unto man what is his thought" (Amos IV, 13); that is the time when a man's deeds testify against him and he acknowledges them. The third time is when they come to remove his soul from him and the cock cries: "Who would not fear thee, King of the nations? For to thee doth it appertain, etc." (Jer. X, 7). Said R. Jose: 'Why must it be a black cock?' R. Judah replied: 'Whatever the Almighty does has a mystic significance. We have learnt that chastisement does not fall save upon a place which is akin to it. Now black is the symbol of the side of Judgement, and therefore when the flame goes forth, it strikes the wings of a black cock, as being the most appropriate. So when man's judgement hour is near, it commences to call to him, and no one knows save the patient himself, as we have learnt, that when a man is ill and his time is approaching to depart from the world a new spirit enters into him from above, in virtue of which he sees things which he could not see before, and then he departs from the world. So it is written: "For man shall not see me and live"; in their lifetime they may not see, but at the hour of death they may. We have further learnt that at the time of a man's death he is allowed to see his relatives and companions from the other world. If he is virtuous, they all rejoice before him and give him greeting, but if not, then he is recognized only by the sinners who every day are thrust down to Gehinnom. They are all in great gloom and begin and end their converse with "woe!". Raising his eyes, he beholds them like a flame shooting up from the fire, and he also exclaims "woe!". We have learnt that when a man's soul departs from him, all his relatives and companions in the other world join it and show it the place of delight and the place of torture. If he is virtuous he beholds his place and ascends and sits there and enjoys the delights of the other world. But if he is not virtuous, his soul remains in this world until his body is buried in the dust, and then the executioners take hold of him and drag him down to Dumah and to his appointed storey in Gehinhom.' R. Judah said: 'For seven days the soul goes to and fro from his house to his grave, and from his grave to his house, mourning for the body, [219a] as it is written: "His flesh shall suffer pain for him, and his soul shall mourn for it" (Job XIV, 22), and it grieves to behold the sadness in the house. We have learnt that after seven days the body begins to decay, and the soul goes in to its place. It enters the cave of Machpelah, where it is allowed in up to a certain point according to its deserts. It then reaches the place of the Garden of Eden and meets the Cherubim and the flashing sword which is in the lower Garden of Eden, and if it is worthy to enter, it enters. We have learnt that four pillars [4] are waiting there with the form of a body in their hands, and with this it gleefully clothes itself and then remains in its appointed circle in the Garden of Eden for its allotted time. Then a herald makes proclamation and a pillar of three colours is brought forward, which is called "the habitation of Mount Zion" (Is. IV, 5). By means of this pillar it ascends to the gate of righteousness, in which are Zion and Jerusalem. If it is worthy to ascend further, then happy is its portion and lot that it becomes attached to the Body of the King. If it is not worthy to ascend further, then "he that is left in Zion and he that remaineth in Jerusalem shall be called holy" (Ibid. 3). But if it is privileged to ascend further, then it beholds the glory of the King, and enjoys the supernal delight from the place which is called Heaven. Happy he that is vouchsafed this grace.' R. Jose said: 'There is a superior grace and an inferior grace. The superior grace is above the heavens, as it is written: "For great above the heaven is thy kindness" (Ps. CVIII, 5). Of the inferior grace it is written: "For great unto the heaven is thy kindness" (Ibid. LVII, 11), and to this class belong the "faithful kindnesses of David" (Is. LV, 3).'

***

'Jacob made him swear by the sign of the covenant which was stamped on his flesh, since the patriarchs assigned more importance to this than to anything else ... "Swear to me by that holy impress which has brought holy and faithful seed into the world and which has ever been preserved from defilement that you will not bury me among those unclean who have never guarded it, and of whom it is written, "whose flesh is the flesh of asses and their neighing the neighing of horses" (Ezek. XXIII, 20).'

***

'God in His great love for Israel allows no one to sit in judgement on them save Himself, and when He tries them, He is filled with compassion for them like a father for his children, and when He finds they have done wrong, He removes their offences one by one until there are none left to place them in the power of the other side. Hence it says, "let thy mercies prevent us", because otherwise Israel would not be able to exist, in face of all the accusers and all the adversaries who are lying in wait for them above. Hence it continues "for we are very poor", that is, poor in good deeds in the sight of God. For were Israel rich in good deeds before God, idolatrous nations would not be able to exist in the world. It is Israel who enable other nations to hold their head high, because but for their sins the nations would be subdued before them. And, as we have already said, had not Israel by their sins brought the other side into the Holy Land, the idolatrous nations would not have gained possession of it, and Israel would not have been exiled from their land. Hence, because "we are brought very low", therefore "let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us".'

***

'When God created the world, He established it on seven pillars, but upon what those pillars rest no one may know, since it is a recondite and inscrutable mystery. The world did not come into being until God took a certain stone, which is called the "foundation stone", and cast it into the abyss so that it held fast there, and from it the world was planted. This is the central point of the universe, and on this point stands the holy of holies. This is the stone referred to in the verses, "Who laid the corner-stone thereof", "the stone of testing, the precious corner-stone" (Is. XXVIII, 16), and "the stone that the builders despise became the head of the corner" (Ps. CXVIII, 22). This stone is compounded of fire, water, and air, and rests on the abyss. Sometimes water flows from it and fills the deep. This stone is set as a sign in the centre of the world. It is referred to in the words, "And Jacob took a stone and set it as a pillar" (Gen. XXXI, 45). Not that he took this stone, which was created from the beginning, but he established it above and below, by making there a "house of God". This stone has on it seven eyes, as it is written, "On one stone seven eyes" (Zech. III, 9), and it is called "foundation stone", for one thing because the world was planted from it, and for another because God set it as a source of blessing to the world.

***

JUDAH, THEE SHALL THY BRETHEN PRAISE, THY HAND SHALL BE ON THE NECK OF THY ENEMIES. R. Jose discoursed here on the verse: He made the moon for seasons (Ps. CIV, 19). 'God', he said, 'made the moon for us to sanctify by it new moons and new years. Now the moon never shines except from the reflection of the sun, and when the sun is aloft the moon does not appear, but only when the sun is gathered in does the moon rule the heavens, and the moon is of no account save when the sun is gathered in. God made both of them to give light and also "for signs", to wit, Sabbaths, "and for seasons", to wit, festivals, "and for days", to wit, new moons, "and for years", to wit, New Year days, so that the Gentiles should reckon by the sun and Israel by the moon. This accords with R. Eleazar's exposition of the verse: "Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased its joy" (Is. IX, 2), where he refers "nation" to Israel and "it" to the moon, which gained accession of light for the sake of Israel. Which are superior, Israel or the Gentiles? Assuredly, the moon [237a] is highest, and the sun of the Gentiles is under this moon, and this sun derives light from this moon. See, then, the difference between Israel and the nations. Israel cling to the moon and are linked with the supernal sun, and are attached to the place which gives light to the supernal sun, as it is written: "But ye who cleave to the Lord, are alive every one of you this day" (Deut. IV, 4).'

***

BINDING HIS FOAL UNTO THE VINE. The vine is the Community of Israel, so called also in the verse: "Thou didst remove a vine from Egypt" (Ps. LXXX, 9). By "his foal" is meant the Messiah, who is destined to rule over all the hosts of the peoples, that is to say, the heavenly hosts who have charge of the Gentiles, and from whom they derive their strength. The Messiah will prevail over them, because this vine dominates all those lower crowns through which the Gentiles have dominion. This will be the victory above. Israel, who are "a choice vine", will conquer and destroy other hosts below; and the Messiah will prevail over all. Hence it is written of him that he will be "poor and riding on an ass and on a young ass's colt" (Zech. IX, 9). "Colt" and "ass" are two crowns by virtue of which the Gentiles have dominion, and they are from the left side, the side of uncleanness. It is strange that the Messiah should be called "poor". R. Simeon explained that it is because he has nothing of his own, and he is compared to the holy moon above, which has no light save from the sun. This Messiah will have dominion and will be established in his place. Below he is "poor", because he is of the side of the moon, and above he is poor, being a "mirror which does not radiate", "the bread of poverty" . Yet withal he "rides upon an ass and upon a colt", to overthrow the strength of the Gentiles; and God will keep him firm....

Thus the words "binding his foal unto the vine" indicate that all the forces of the Gentiles are to be subdued beneath that vine, as we have said, their power being bound up and subdued.' R. Simeon said: 'There are two kinds of vine. There is the holy celestial vine, and there is the vine which is called "the vine of Sodom, the strange vine"; and therefore Israel is called "this vine". And when Israel sinned and abandoned "this vine", then it was said of them: "For from the vine of Sodom is their vine" (Deut. XXXIII, 32).'

***

Observe this. The twelve tribes are the adornment of the Matron....The twelve tribes correspond to the twelve oxen which were under the sea of bronze made by Solomon (I Kings VII, 23 sqq.), three for each of the cardinal points. Three of them represented the right Arm, three the left Arm, three the right Thigh, and three the left Thigh. There were three tribes for each, because in each of these limbs there are three joints.

***

"Dan shall judge his people" at first, and then "the tribes of Israel as one", that is, as the one Being of the World. [243b] This was realized in Samson, who single-handed wrought judgement on the world, and both judged and put to death without requiring a helper. R. Isaac said: 'Dan is compared to a serpent lying in wait in the way. But there is also a reference to another serpent above, lying in wait in ways and paths, from whom issue those who lie in wait for the sons of men on account of the sins which they cast behind their backs.' R. Hiya said: 'The primeval serpent above, before he is appeased with gladdening wine, is "a serpent by the way". As there is a "way" above, so there is a "way" below, and the sea is divided into various paths on every side. There is one path which has abundance of water and breeds many kinds of evil fishes, just as the waters below breed good and bad fishes. When they escape from the path of the sea, they appear like riders on horseback, and were it not that this serpent who is the rearward of all the tents lies in wait at the end of the path and drives them back, they would destroy the world. It is from the side of these that sorcerers come forth. Dan is called "a serpent by the way", because he that goes after the serpent repudiates the celestial household which is the supernal path that issues from above. To go after the serpent is like going to repudiate that celestial way, because from it the higher worlds are sustained. If it is asked why Dan is in this grade, the answer is given in the words, "That bites at the horse's heels", i.e. to protect all the camps. R. Eleazar said that he was one of the supports of the Throne, because on the throne of Solomon there was a serpent attached to his sceptre above the lions. It says of Samson that the "spirit of God began to move him in the camp of Dan" (Judg. XIII, 25). Samson was a Nazirite, and a man of huge strength, and he was a serpent in this world in face of the idolatrous nations, because he inherited the blessing of his ancestor Dan.' R. Hiya said: 'We know what a serpent is, but what is an adder (shephiphon)?' He answered: 'This word alludes to the practices of sorcerers, since it is written of Balaam that he went shephi (alone). If it is said that this was not properly the grade of Dan, that is true, but he was appointed over this grade to be the last side (of the Israelites' host), and this was his honour, since some officers of the king are appointed to one post and some to another, and all are honourable, and the king's throne is supported by all. Various paths and grades spread out beneath them, some for good and some for evil, and all help to support the throne. Therefore Dan was on the north side. In the hollow of the great abyss, which is on the north side, there are many demons endowed with power to do mischief in the world. Therefore Jacob prayed, saying, I HAVE WAITED FOR THY SALVATION, O LORD. He mentioned God's salvation here because he saw here the might of the serpent setting in motion chastisement.'

***

Through the impulse from below there is a stirring above, and through the impulse from above there is a stirring higher up still, until the impulse reaches the place where the lamp is to be lit and it is lit. Thus by the impulse of the smoke (of the sacrifice) from below, the lamp is kindled above, and when this is kindled all the other lamps are kindled and all the worlds are blessed from it. Thus the impulse of the sacrifice is the mainstay of the world and the blessing of all worlds. When the smoke commences to rise, the holy forms in charge of the world derive satisfaction, and are disposed thereby to stir the grades above them; and so the impulse rises until the King desires to associate with the Matron. Through the yearning of the lower world the lower waters flow forth to meet the upper waters, for the upper waters do not flow save from the impulse of the desire from below. Thus mutual desire is kindled and the lower waters flow to meet the upper waters, and worlds are blest, and all lamps are kindled, and upper and lower are endowed with blessings.

***

I WAIT FOR THY SALVATION, O LORD. R. Hiya said: 'This refers to the time of Samson, of whom it was said: "He shall commence to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines" (Judg. XIII, 5).' R. Aha said: 'How could Jacob say "I wait", seeing that by that time he had been dead many years? The truth is, however, that the word "Israel" in the above passage has its esoteric meaning.' Said R. Hiya: 'Assuredly that is so. Happy are the righteous who know how to study the Torah in such a way as to earn by it celestial life.'

***

NAPHTALI IS A HIND LET LOOSE, WHO GIVETH GOODLY WORDS. It has been affirmed that the upper world is of the male principle, and therefore whatever the Community of Israel causes to ascend on high must be male. We know this from the name of the offering ('olah, lit. going up), so called because it rises above the female. Hence it has to be a "male without blemish" (Lev. I, 3). By the words "without blemish" is meant that it must not be castrated. It may be objected that we find the words "without blemish" applied also to the female. This is true; nevertheless it does not alter the fact that the burnt-offering rises from the female to the male, and from this point upwards all is male, while from the female [246b] downwards all is female. It may be said that there is a female principle above also. The truth is, however, that the whole body takes its description from the end of the body, which is male, although the beginning of the body is female. Here, however, both the beginning and end are female. Observe the recondite allusion in this matter. We see that Jacob blessed Joseph along with his brothers, but when God arranged the tribes under four standards He omitted Joseph and put Ephraim in his place. This cannot have been for any sin of Joseph's, but the reason is this. Joseph was the impress of the male, and since all the adornments of the Shekinah are female, Joseph was removed from the standards and Ephraim was appointed in his place. On this account he was stationed on the west, the side where the female abides, and the impress which is male was removed from her adornments. We thus see that all the twelve tribes are the adornment of the Shekinah after the supernal pattern, save for the grade of the Zaddik, who makes all the limbs male.

***

Observe that Thought is the beginning of all. This Thought is recondite and inscrutable, but when it expands it reaches the place where spirit abides and is then called Understanding (binah), which is not so recondite as the preceding. This spirit expands and produces a Voice composed of fire, water, and air, which corresponds to north, south, and east. This Voice embraces in itself all forces, and speaks to Utterance, and this shapes the word properly. When you examine the grades closely, you find that Thought, Understanding, Voice, Utterance are all one and the same, and there is no separation between them, and this is what is meant by the words: "The Lord is one and His Name is One."

***

BENJAMIN IS A WOLF THAT RAVINETH. 'Benjamin is called a wolf because he was imprinted in this form on the Throne, all animals great and small being delineated there. The throne which Solomon made contained similar designs. He is also called a wolf because the altar was in his territory, and the altar is called "wolf" because it consumed flesh every day. Again, we may translate: "Benjamin shall feed the wolf", to wit, the adversaries who are posted above to accuse, and who are all appeased by the sacrifice. IN THE MORNING HE SHALL DEVOUR THE PREY. This means that in the morning, when Abraham stirs in the world and it is the time of grace, the sacrifice brings appeasement and rises to the place called 'Ad (perpetuity). We may also translate "In the morning 'Ad shall eat", this being the supernal throne which is forever and ever ('ade 'ad). The smoke ascends and love is awakened above, [248a] and a lamp is kindled and shines forth through this impulse from below. The priest is busy and the Levites sing praises joyfully, and wine is poured forth to be united with water (wine being good below to cause gladness to another wine above), and all is at work to link the Left with the Right. The bread, which is the "fine flour" used for royalty, and which gave the impulse, is received by the Left and the Right and joined to the Body. Then the supernal oil flows forth and is taken up by the hand of the Zaddik (hence the impulse must be given by means of fine flour and oil commingled, so that all should be linked together). So a complete unity is formed, with its resulting delight and the gratification which is gathered up by all the crowns. These all join together, and the moon is illumined through being joined with the sun, and there is universal delight. This is indeed "an offering for the Lord", and for no other.

***

There are three types of men who drive away the Shekinah from the world, making it impossible for the Holy One, blessed be He, to fix His abode in the universe, and causing prayer to be unanswered. One is he who cohabits with a woman in the days of her separation. There is no impurity comparable with this. He defiles himself and all connected with him. The child born of such a union is shapen in impurity, imbibes the spirit of impurity, and its whole life is founded on impurity. Next is he who lies with a heathen woman, for he profanes herewith the sacred sign of the covenant which constitutes the support of the sacred Name and the essence of faith. As soon as "the people committed whoredom" with the daughters of Moab, the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel (Num. XXV, 1-3). The leaders of the people, who did not endeavour to prevent them, were the first to be punished (Ibid. 4), and in every generation it is the leaders who are made responsible for all the members of the community in regard to the profanation of the sign of the covenant, which is "sun and shield" (Ps. LXXXIV, 12): as the sun gives light to the world, so does the holy sign give light to the body, and as the shield protects, so does the holy sign protect. He who keeps it in purity is guarded from evil. But he who transfers this sign of holiness into a strange domain, breaks the commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods but Me"; for to deny the king's seal is equivalent to denying the king himself. Next is he who purposely prevents the seed from coming to fruition, for he destroys the King's workmanship and so causes the Holy One to depart from the world. This sin is the cause of war, famine, and pestilence, and it prevents the Shekinah from finding any resting place in the world. For these abominations the spirit of holiness weeps. Woe to him who causes this: it were better that he had never been born.

***

Said R. Isaac: 'See now, the Shekinah went down with Jacob into Egypt, but She also had with Her six hundred thousand holy Chariots (angelic beings), for it is written, "and the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about (lit. like) six hundred thousand on foot" (Ex. XII, 37). Now it does not say "six hundred", but "like" six hundred, etc., which suggests that there was an equal number of celestial beings who went out with them. The deeper meaning of the passage is as follows. When these holy Chariots and holy Hosts were about to leave Egypt, the children of Israel at once realized that it was for their sake that the celestial beings were detained, and therefore they hastened to get ready and leave as quickly as possible. Hence it says "they could not tarry" (Ex. XII, 39), not "they did not want to tarry". From this we learn that the expression "children of Israel" in all these passages refers to the celestial hosts. Moreover, it stands to reason that, as the Holy One promised Jacob that He would go down with him into Egypt, He would take His ministering angels with Him, for where the Master is there must His servants also be, and especially when we consider that even when Jacob was saved from Laban, "the angels of God met him" (Gen. XXXII, 2).' R. Abba cited here the verse: "Come, behold the works of the Lord who hath made desolations in the earth" (Ps. XLVI, 8). 'The term shammoth (desolations)', he said, 'can also be read shemoth (names). This corroborates what R. Hiya said, namely, that whatever is in heaven, the Holy One, blessed be He, has made a counterpart thereof on earth. Thus, as there are hallowed names in heaven, so there are hallowed names on earth.' Said R. Jose: 'When Jacob went down to Egypt, sixty myriads of celestial angels accompanied him.' R. Judah illustrated from the verse: "Behold, it is the couch of Solomon, threescore mighty men are about it, of the mighty men of Israel" (S.S. III, 7), which he expounded thus: 'Six luminosities form a circle surrounding a seventh luminosity in the centre. The six on the circumference sustain the sixty valiant angels surrounding the "couch of Solomon". The "couch" is an allusion to the Shekinah, and "Solomon" refers to the "King to whom peace (shalom) belongs": "threescore mighty men are about it" -- these are the sixty myriads of exalted angels, part of the army of the Shekinah which accompanied Jacob into Egypt.'

***

'If men only knew the love which God bears for Israel, they would roar like a lion till they could follow her!

***

All the judgements passed upon the world, and all decrees and decisions are stored in a certain palace, where seventy-two members of Sanhedrin deliberate upon them. The palace is called "the Palace of Acquittal", because the judges there lay stress on whatever can be pleaded in favour of the accused. Not so the "other side", where there is a place called "Accusation", because in that abode of the Serpent, the "Wife of whoredom", every effort is made to procure the condemnation of humanity, and to prejudice the servant in the eyes of the Master.

***

'It says in the Book of R. Hamnuna the Elder, in connection with the words, "Now there arose a new king over Egypt", that all the nations of the world and all their kings become powerful only on account of Israel. Egypt, for instance, did not rule over the whole world before Israel settled there. The same is true of Babylon, as well as of Edom (Rome). Before that all these nations were utterly insignificant and contemptible: Egypt is described as a "house of slaves" (Ex. XX, 2), Babylon as "a people who was not" (Isa. xx, 11-13), and of Edom it says, "Behold, I have made thee small among the nations, thou art greatly despised" (Obad. I, 2). It was entirely due to Israel that they became great. As soon as Israel was subjected to any of these nations, it immediately became all-powerful, since Israel singly are on a par with all the rest of the world.

***

As R. Eleazar was sitting one day at the gate of Lydda along with R. Abba, R. Judah, and R. Jose, R. Jose said: 'Listen, and I will tell you the sights which I have seen this morning. I rose early and beheld a bird which flew up three times and down once, exclaiming: "Ye celestials, ye angels of the higher sphere! In these days three heavenly Chieftains are raising up rulers on the earth. One is dislodged from his throne and made to pass through the Fiery Stream. He and his power are annihilated. But three mighty pillars of great height still stand upon the world." I threw a stone at the bird and cried: "Bird, bird! Tell me, who are the three who remain upright and the one whose power is taken from him?" He threw down to me three feathers from his right wing and one from his left wing. I know not what it all portends.' R. Eleazar took from R. Jose the feathers, smelt them, and lo, blood issued from his nostrils. Said he: 'Verily, three great rulers are now at Rome, and are about to bring evil upon Israel through the Romans.' Then he took the feather of the left wing, smelt it, and behold, black fire burst from it. He said: 'The power of the Egyptians is coming to an end; a Roman king is about to pass through the whole land of Egypt, appoint governors over it, and destroy buildings and erect new ones.' Then he threw the feathers on to the ground, and the three which were from the right wing fell on that which was from the left wing. As they were thus sitting, a young child passed by and recited the verse: "A burden concerning Egypt! Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt" (Isa. XIX, 1). A second child passed by and declaimed: "And the land of Egypt shall be desolate" (Ezek. XXIX, 9). A third child passed by and recited: "Make thee instruments of captivity, O daughter of Egypt!" (Jer. XLVI, 19). Then they saw that the feather of the left wing was burning, but not the three feathers of the right wing. Said R. Eleazar: 'These two incidents, that of the bird and that of the children, are in truth but one -- and they convey a prophecy from above. The Holy One, blessed be He, desired to reveal to us His hidden plans, as it is written, "Behold, the Lord will do nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets" (Amos. III, 7). And the wise are greater than prophets, for on the prophets the holy spirit rests intermittently, but the wise He never leaves, as, although they know what is above and what is below, they keep it secret.'

***

R. Simeon lifted up his hands and wept. 'Alas,' he said, 'for him who will live at that time! Yet happy he who will live at that time! When the Holy One comes to visit the "Hind" (Israel), he will examine who it is that remains loyal to her at that time, and then woe to him who shall not be found worthy, and of whom it shall be said, "I looked and there was none to help" (Isa. LXII, 23). Many sufferings shall then befall Israel. But happy he who will be found faithful at that time! For he shall see the joy-giving light of the King. Concerning that time it is proclaimed: "I will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried" (Zech. XIII, 9). Then shall pangs and travail overtake Israel, and all nations and their kings shall furiously rage together and take counsel against her. Thereupon a pillar of fire will be suspended from heaven to earth for forty days, visible to all nations. Then the Messiah will arise from the Garden of Eden, from that place which is called "The Bird's Nest". He will arise in the land of Galilee, and on that day the whole world shall be shaken and all the children of men shall seek refuge in caves and rocky places. Concerning that time it is written: "And they shall go into the holes of the rocks and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth" (Isa. II, 19). "The glory of his majesty" refers to the Messiah when he shall reveal himself in the land of Galilee; for in this part of the Holy Land the desolation first began, and therefore he will manifest himself there first, and from there begin to war against the world. After the forty days, during which the pillar shall have stood between heaven and earth before the eyes of the whole world, and the Messiah shall have manifested himself, a star shall come forth from the East variegated in hue and shining brilliantly, and seven other stars shall surround it, and make war on it from all sides, three times a day for seventy days, before the eyes of the whole world. The one star shall fight against the seven with rays of fire flashing on every side, and it shall smite them until they are extinguished, evening after evening. But in the day they will appear again and fight before the eyes of the whole world, seventy days long. After the seventy days the one star shall vanish. Also the Messiah shall be hidden for twelve months in the pillar of fire, which shall return again, although it shall not be visible. After the twelve months the Messiah will be carried up to heaven in that pillar of fire and receive there power and dominion and the royal crown. When he descends, the pillar of fire will again be visible to the eyes of the world, and the Messiah will reveal himself, and mighty nations will gather round him, and he shall declare war against all the world. At that time the Holy One shall show forth his power before all the nations of the earth, and the Messiah shall be manifested throughout the whole universe, and all the kings will unite to fight against him, and even in Israel there will be found some wicked ones who shall join them in the fight against the Messiah. Then there will be darkness over all the world, and for fifteen days shall it continue, and many in Israel shall perish in that darkness. Concerning this darkness it is written: "Behold, darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the peoples" (Isa. LX, 2).'

***

This is a mystery which has been transmitted to the wise. The spirit which enters into the children of men, and which emanates from the Female (Malkuth) makes an impression after the fashion of a seal. That is to say, the form of the human body in this world is projected outwards, and takes the impress of the spirit from within. So when the spirit separates itself from the body it returns to the earthly Garden in the actual form and pattern of the body that was its garment during its sojourn in this world, and upon which it acted like a seal. Hence it says, "Set me as a seal" (Ibid. VIII, 6): as the seal presses from within and the mark of it appears outwards, so the spirit acts upon the body. But when it separates itself from the body and returns to the terrestrial Paradise, the aether there causes this impress in turn to project itself outwards, so that the spirit receives an outward shape in the likeness of the body in this world.

***

It is written here: "And she opened it and saw the child", which, being interpreted, means that the Shekinah, who always hovers over Israel like a mother over her children, and pleads in her defence against her accuser, opened it "and saw the child, and behold the babe wept". The Shekinah saw the "child", the people of Israel, which is called "the child of delight" (Jer. XXXI, 20), in remorseful tears, pleading with the Holy One like a child with his father, and she "had compassion on him". She said: "This is one of the Hebrews' children", that is to say, of the Hebrews, who are gentle and tender-hearted, and not of the Gentiles, who are stiff-necked and stubborn of heart; they, the Hebrews, are tender-hearted and eager to return to their heavenly Master.

***

'The redemption of Israel depends only on weeping.

***

R. Eleazar and R. Abba were once walking from Tiberias to Sipphoris. On the way a Jew joined them. Said R. Eleazar: 'Let each one of us expound some saying of the Torah!'

***

'If the spirit of man is endowed in Paradise with the form of the body which it is to assume in this world, should it not have been said: "Come from Paradise, O spirit!" and not "from the four winds"?' R. Eleazar replied: 'Before descending into this world the spirit ascends from the earthly Paradise to the Throne which stands on four pillars. There it draws its being from that Throne of the King, and only then does it descend to this world.

***

"This is R. Simeon ben Yohai, the world-shaker; who can stand before him? When he opens his lips to expound the Torah, all the thrones, all the firmaments, all the angelic hosts, all who praise their Lord, do listen to his voice. No mouth is opened: all are silent, and not a sound is heard until his words break through all the firmaments above and below. But when he ends, then the song and the rejoicing of them who praise their Lord is such as was never before heard; it echoes through all the firmaments of Heaven -- and all this on account of R. Simeon and his wisdom! They bow before their Master, the perfume of the spices from Eden ascends in sweetness to the Throne of the Ancient of Days -- and all this on account of R. Simeon and his wisdom!".'

***

The world was created only for the sake of Israel.

***

When the Holy One beheld the exceeding joy of this lower world at being completed after the fashion of the world above, He said: "Should they (the Israelites) mingle with the other nations, a blemish would be caused in all the worlds". What, then, did He do? He caused them to wander over the face of the earth and from one nation to another until, in Egypt, they fell among those of a stubborn race, who, deeming them but slaves, despised their customs and abhorred their ways, and would not mingle with them or have a part in them. Both male and female among the Egyptians loathed them, and thus the whole Divine purpose could come into completion within the holy seed itself, whilst at the same time the guilt of the other nations became complete.

***

'That which God has made on earth corresponds to that which He made in heaven, and all things below are symbols of that which is above: When R. Abba once saw a bird flying away from its nest in a tree, he wept, saying: 'If men only knew what this means, they would rend their garments for the knowledge which has perished from them.

***

Once, when going up to Jerusalem, R. Joshua saw an Arab and his son meet a Jew. The Arab said to his son: "See! There is a Jew whom God has rejected. Go and insult him. Spit in his face seven times, for he is of the seed of the exalted ones, and I know that the seventy nations shall be ruled by them". The boy went and took hold of the Jew's beard, whereupon R. Joshua said: "Mighty ones, mighty ones, I call upon the supernal ones to come down below!" And even before he had finished, the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the Arabs.'

***

'All the nations of the world derive their power from their celestial prototypes, but Israel only from God, therefore she is called "the people of the Lord".'

***

R. Johanan said: 'Why are the nations of the celestial chieftains kept in safety and the people of the Holy One not?' R. Isaac replied: 'A poor man needs to take care of his goods, but not a rich one. Further, Israel belongs to the King who loves truth and justice, and therefore He punishes principally and first of all the members of His own family, in order that they may guard themselves from sin more than the outsiders, as it says: "Only you have I known from among all the families of the earth, therefore I will visit upon you all your iniquities" (Amos III, 2).'

R. Jose one day went for a walk with R. Aha bar Jacob. Neither spoke, but whereas R. Aha meditated on spiritual matters, R. Jose's mind was occupied with worldly things. As they were thus proceeding, R. Jose suddenly beheld a wild beast running after him. He said to R. Aha: 'Dost thou not see the beast running after me ?' 'No,' replied R. Aha, 'I see nothing.' R. Jose ran, pursued by the beast. He fell, and blood gushed from his nose. Then he heard a voice say: "You only have I known, etc." Musing on these words, he said: 'If I have been punished because my mind was but for one moment separated from the Torah, what must await him who is for ever apart from her! It is written, "Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents and scorpions" (Deut. VIII, 15). Why fiery serpents? To punish Israel should she separate herself from the Tree of Life, which is the Torah. God punishes the students of the Torah in order that they may not be separated from the Tree of Life even for a single moment.'

***

"Taste and see that the Lord is good."

***

Said R. Isaac: 'What do you make of the remark of R. Joshua, son of Levi, that "the angel of death once said to me: Were it not that I have regard for the dignity of mankind I would cut their throats as is done to an animal"?'

***

R. Isaac asked: 'When the Holy One, blessed be He, judges the family above (the angelic principalities), in what does the judgement consist?' R. Eleazar answered: 'He makes them pass through the fiery stream, and takes away from them their power as representatives of the nations and appoints the principalities representing other nations to rule instead of them.'

***

Sin is red, as it says, "Though your sins be as scarlet"; man puts the sacrificial animal on fire, which is also red; the priest sprinkles the red blood round the altar, but the smoke ascending to heaven is white. Thus the red is turned to white: the attribute of Justice is turned into the attribute of Mercy....[A]s a substitute for this (since the destruction of the Temple) man sacrifices his own fat and blood (by fasting) and so obtains atonement. As the lily, which is red and white, is turned entirely into white by means of fire, so the sacrificial animal is turned entirely into white (smoke) by means of fire. Also at the present time (when there are no sacrifices) when a man offers in his fast his fat and his blood, the sacrifice has to go through fire if it is to be turned into white (bring down mercy), for, said R. Judah, fasting weakens the limbs and causes the body to burn, and just then is the appropriate time to offer up the fat and the blood on that fire; and it is this which is called "an altar of atonement". That is why R. Eleazar, when fasting, used to pray: "It is known to Thee, O my God and God of my fathers, that I have offered unto Thee my fat and my blood, and that I have heated them in the warmth of my body's weakness. May it be Thy will that the breath coming out of my mouth at this hour should be counted unto me as if it were the odour ascending from the sacrifice brought on the altar by fire, and grant me favour." Therefore prayer was instituted to take the place of sacrifices, provided that it is offered with this sacrificial intention.'

***

As thorns are scattered among the lilies, so does the Holy One, blessed be He, permit in His world the wicked to be found among the righteous, for, as without the thorns the lilies could not exist, so would the righteous go unrecognized in the world were it not for the wicked, as R. Judah said: "How are the righteous recognized? By contrast with the wicked! If it were not for the one, the other would not be known."

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:14 am


Why did Moses tend sheep and not oxen?' R Judah said: 'Israel are called sheep, as it says: "And ye, my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are men" (Ezek. XXXIV, 31), and again, "As the flock of holy things, as the flock of Jerusalem" (Ibid. XXXVI, 38). As the sheep sacrificed on the altar becomes a means of propitiation, enabling the sacrificer to inherit the world to come, so does Israel enable her leader, if he be a good shepherd, to inherit the world to come.

***

Said R. Isaac: 'From sunrise until the sun declines westward it is called "day", and the attribute of Mercy is in the ascendant: after that it is called "evening", which is the time for the attribute of Severity. We derive the same lesson from the text: "Between the evenings ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread" (Ex. XVI, 12). "Between the evenings" -- this is the time of the sway of Severity -- then "ye shall eat flesh", with the result, as the Scripture says, that "while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people" (Num. XI, 33), for between-the-evenings is under the sway of Severity -- "and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread", the morning being identified with Mercy, as Scripture says, "the mercy of God endureth all the day" (Ps. LII, 3), to wit, in the morning, as it says: "And God called the light day", referring to the morning.' R. Tanhum said: 'The one is symbolized by red, the other by white. The between-the-evenings period is red, so it is written, "between the evenings ye shall eat flesh"; whereas the morning hours are white, so it is written, "and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread".' R. Isaac cited the verse: "And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it between the evenings" (Ex. XII, 6), the reason being, he said, that that is the time for the execution of judgement.

***

AND I WILL TAKE YOU TO ME FOR A PEOPLE AND I WILL BE TO YOU A GOD, AND YE SHALL KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD. This is the first of all commandments, the root of all precepts of the Law: the knowledge of God in a general way, namely that there is a Supernal Ruler, Lord of the universe and of all life, Creator of heaven and earth and all their hosts. But this general knowledge of God must lead on to a particular knowledge of Him. This is the inner meaning of man being "male and female together".

***

Said R. Jose: 'What of the verse, "I am the God of Abraham and of Isaac" (Gen. XXVIII, 13)?' R. Judah replied: 'When that was said, Jacob was included in Isaac, who was blind at that time, and a blind man is counted dead; for as long as a person is alive, the Holy Name is not joined to his name (i.e. the God of so-and-so), therefore Jacob was included in Isaac and not directly mentioned; but Jacob being now dead, the Holy Name could be connected with him.

***

Said R. Simeon: 'It is written, "Be ye afraid of the sword, for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is judgement". The "sword" is the one of which it says, "it shall avenge the covenant"; (Lev. XXVI, 25), it is the punishment awaiting him who nullifies the (sign) of the Covenant and thereby also the union of which it is a symbol. But he who brings the Covenant into its place and so guards it in purity becomes a channel of blessing both to the upper and lower worlds. Hence it says here, "Be ye afraid of the sword", for if this commandment does not awaken the sense of awe in a man, no other commandment will.

***

AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO MOSES AND AARON AND GAVE THEM A CHARGE UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL AND UNTO PHARAOH. According to R. Jose, the charge consisted in this, that they should speak gently to Israel and respectfully to Pharaoh. Gently to Israel, for, although for the time being they were slaves, yet they were of royal descent. For this reason the section dealing with the names of the heads of the tribal families comes immediately after this verse (vv. 14-25). R. Hiya says that this is to show that they did not change their customs nor intermarry with the natives. But according to R. Hiya, the purpose is to introduce Moses and Aaron and to show that they were worthy to bring forth the people and to act as spokesmen before Pharaoh, for among the heads of the tribal families there were none like them.

***

He also said that sinners impair the supernal world by causing a separation between the "Right" and the "Left". They really cause harm only to themselves, as it is written, "He (Israel) hath corrupted himself (lo) that they are not (lo) his children; it is their blemish" (Deut. XXXII, 5). "Lo" (himself), and "lo" (not), in this verse suggest that they both cause and cause not: they cause, i.e. prevent the descent of blessings from above, as it is written: "and then the Lord's wrath be kindled against you and he shut up the heaven that there be no rain" (Deut. XI, 17); and they cause not, as the heaven keeps the blessings to itself. Thus the sinners' separation of the good inclination from the evil one by consciously cleaving to evil separates, as it were, the divine attribute of Grace from that of Judgement, the Right from the Left. Consider the tribes: Judah [27a] emanated from the Left and clave to the Right, in order to conquer nations and that his hand might be "in the neck of his enemies" (Gen. XLIX, 8). Had he not clung to the Right, he would not have broken down their armies. But does not the Left awaken Judgement? The truth is that when He judges Israel He pushes them away from Him with His "Left Hand" but brings them near to Him with His "Right Hand", but with the Gentiles it is just the opposite, as it is written, "Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power; thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy" (Ex. XV, 6). Therefore Judah, who is of the Left, clave to the Right, and the other tribes of his company (v. Numbers II) also clung to the Right; Issachar, who devoted himself to study of the Torah, which comes from the Right (Deut. XXXIII, 2: "from his right hand went a fiery law for them"), and Zebulun, who supported Issachar in his studies by supplying his material needs (cf. Gen. 241b), also clave to the Right. Therefore Judah effected a double union: north with water, left with right. Reuben, who sinned towards his father, started with the Right, joined the Left and clave to it, therefore all who belonged to his company were of the Left, viz. Simeon, symbolized by an ox (d. Gen. XLIX, 6), of which it says: "The face of an ox on the left" (Ezek. I, 10), and Gad, who represents the left thigh (v. Zohar, Gen. 24Ib). Here the south was fused with fire, right with left. Thus this is the meaning of the words, "Know therefore this day, etc.", to unite the Right with the Left and so to "know that YHVH is ELOHIM".

***

Said R. Eleazar: 'Thirteen springs emerge in the upper world, on the right side, which give rise to thirteen deep streams. Of these streams, whilst some are rising others are falling, and their waters mingle with each other. These thirteen streams, issuing from thirteen springs, branch out besides into a thousand rivers, flowing in all directions, namely, four hundred and ninety-nine and a half to the one side, and four hundred and ninety-nine and a half to the other side, the remaining two half rivers being joined into one and metamorphosed into a Serpent, whose head is red as the rose, and whose scales are solid as iron, and who has fins by means of which he propels himself through all the rivers. When he raises his tail he strikes against all fishes coming in his way so that none of them dare stand in his path. His mouth emits a flaming fire. When he sets out to traverse the rivers, all the fishes fall a-trembling, take flight and precipitate themselves into the great ocean. Once every seventy years he crouches on the one side and once every seventy on the other side; the thousand rivers less one are thus filled with him. So he remains for a time; but when he bestirs himself there issues from him a strip of fire in his scales, which stand out and quiver, and the waters of the rivers become turbid and assume a dark-blue colour, and waves surge in every direction. He then lifts his tail and lashes with it upwards and downwards, so that everything flees before him; until finally a flame of fire is projected from the North and a proclamation goes forth, saying: "Arise, ye old females, be scattered into all the four corners, for, behold, there is awakened the one who is about to put fetters on the jaws of the monster." So Scripture says: "And I will put hooks in thy jaws", etc. (Ezek. XXIX, 4). Then they all scatter, and the monster is seized and pierced through his jaws and thrust into the cavern of the great abyss, so that his power is broken. After that he is brought back to his rivers. This performance is repeated every seventy years in order to prevent him from doing damage to the heavenly regions and their foundations. For this we all give thanks and offer up praise, as it is written: "O come, let us bow down and bend the knee; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker" (Ps. XCV, 6). The superior dragons abide on high, to wit, those that were blessed, as we read: "And God blessed them" (Gen. I, 22). These rule over all the other fishes, of whom it is written, "and fill the waters in the seas". Concerning this it is written: "How manifold are thy works, O Lord! In wisdom hast thou made them all" (Ps. CIV, 24).'

***

The Holy One has many messengers, and not living creatures only, "For the stone crieth out of the wall and the beam out of the timber answereth it" (Hab. II, 11). How careful, therefore, should a man be not to sin before the Holy One, blessed be He, in secret, imagining that no one can testify against him: the stones and stocks of a man's own house shall cry out against him. Aaron's rod was a piece of dry wood, and yet the Holy One used it for His first sign in Egypt, performing through it two miracles: it swallowed up their serpents, and for a time was turned into a living being. Curse on those who say that the Holy One will not raise the dead, because it seems to them an impossibility! ... 'And what is more, from the words, "Thy dead ones will live" (Isa. XXVI, 19), it is evident that not only will there be a new creation, but that the very bodies which were dead will rise, for one bone in the body remains intact, not decaying in the earth, and on the Resurrection Day the Holy One will soften it and make it like leaven in dough, and it will rise and expand on all sides, and the whole body and all its members will be formed from it, and then the Holy One will put spirit into it.' Said R. Eleazar: 'Assuredly so. And the bone will be softened by the dew, as it says: "Thy dead ones shall live ... for thy dew is the dew of plants".'

***

AND THE RIVER SHALL SWARM WITH FROGS, WHICH SHALL GO UP AND COME INTO THINE HOUSE. R. Simeon quoted here the verse: "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, because they were not" (Jer. XXXI, 15). 'The Community of Israel is called "Rachel", as it says, "As a sheep (rahel) before her shearers is dumb" (Isa. LIII, 7). Why dumb? Because when other nations rule over her the voice departs from her and she becomes dumb. "Ramah" (lit. high) refers to the Jerusalem which is above. "Rachel weeping for her children": as long as Israel is in exile, Rachel weeps, for she is their Mother. "She refuseth to be comforted over her children for he (singular) is not": it ought to be "they are not" (enam); why is the singular used? Because it refers to Israel's Spouse (God), who is her "Voice", and has departed from her and they live in separation. It was not once only that Rachel wept over Israel, but whenever they are in exile she weeps over them so. Because of this the Holy One gave the Egyptians another kind of "voice", in the croaking of the frogs, who made a noise in their insides.'

THEY SHALL COME INTO THY HOUSE AND THY SLEEPING-CHAMBER AND THY BED. The bed here is mentioned only in connection with Pharaoh, not with his servants and people. The reason is this. It is written concerning Sarah: "The princes of Pharaoh saw her and commended her before Pharaoh, and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house" (Gen. XII, 15). The threefold repetition of "Pharaoh" in this verse corresponds to the three Pharaohs, one in the time of Sarah, one in the time of Joseph, and one whom Moses punished with his rod. The first Pharaoh, seeing that Sarah was a beautiful woman, commanded his artists to make a likeness of her. They painted her picture on one of the walls of his bed-chamber, but he was not satisfied until they made a picture of her on wood, which he took with him to bed. Each successive Pharaoh used similarly to feast his eyes on that picture. For that reason Pharaoh was punished more severely than his subjects; the frogs entering even into his bed. R. Abba said: 'Israel praise God day and night, and in response the Holy One, blessed be He, remembered them in Egypt and brought against Pharaoh creatures that remain still neither day nor night, to wit, the frogs, whose sounds never cease, in punishment for his having made heavy the burden of the holy people, who cease not day or night to chant praises to the Holy One, blessed be He. Through the croakings of the frogs no one in Egypt could converse with his neighbour; through them the very soil became polluted, and babes and young children died from their chatter. Why, it may be asked, were the Egyptians not able to slay them? The explanation is that for every one an Egyptian attempted to kill with a stick or a stone, six came forth out of its belly, running hither and thither, so that people refrained from touching them. Observe that ever so many streams and rivers rise out of the Supernal Sea, which in their courses divide and subdivide again into many other rivers and streams: and the portion that fell to the side of Egypt were waters swarming with such creatures.

***

Observe that whatever is engendered on earth grows through the stimulus of a celestial Chieftain who has charge over it, and that all on earth is shaped after a celestial pattern. There are on high seven firmaments, and seven zones of earth. Correspondingly, in the lower world there are seven graded firmaments and seven zones of earth. These, as the Companions have expounded, are arranged like the rungs of a ladder, rising one above the other, and each zone has ten divisions, so that there are seventy in all. Each one of these is presided over by a Chieftain, and these seventy Chieftains have under their charge the seventy nations of the earth. These seventy earth-divisions, again, border on and surround the Holy Land, as Scripture says: "Behold, it is the couch of Solomon; threescore mighty men are about, of the mighty men of Israel" (S.S. III, 7), there being, in addition to the threescore mentioned, ten concealed among their number. All these surround the Holy Land. This alludes to the upper world, and the same is reproduced in the lower world.

***

For as there are accusers of man here below, so there are also accusers above. But those who keep the commandments of the Torah and walk in righteousness, in fear of their Lord, will never lack intercessors in heaven, for is it not written: "If there be with him an angel-intercessor, one among a thousand ... then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom" (Job XXXIII, 23-24)?' Said R. Hiya to him: 'Why should man need an angel to intercede for him? Is it not written: "The Lord shall be thy confidence and shall keep thy foot from being taken" (Prov. Ill, 26); "The Lord shall keep thee from all evil" (Ps. CXXI, 7)? Yea, verily, the Holy One Himself beholdeth all that man does, whether it be good or evil, as it is written: "Can a man hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him?" (Jer. XXIII, 24).' R. Judah replied: 'Indeed, thou speakest truth! But it is also written that Satan said: "But put forth thine hand and touch his bone and his flesh", and that the Holy One Himself said to Satan, "And thou movest me against him" (Job II, 3-4); which proves that permission was given to the powers of the "other side" that they might so rise up against man on account of the deeds he had done in this world. And in all this the ways of the Holy One are hidden, and it is beyond me to follow them, for these are the statutes of the Holy One, which men must not examine too closely, save those who walk in the way of wisdom.

***

R. Eleazar then discoursed on the verse: And there was a day when the sons of God came to stand before the Lord, and Satan came also among them (Job I, 6). 'This "day"', said he, 'was New Year's Day, on which the Holy One sits in judgement on the world. "The sons of God" are the supernal beings who are appointed to watch the actions of mankind. The expression "to stand before the Lord" is parallel to the verse, "All the hosts of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left" (I Kings XXII, 19). But in this verse it has a more special significance, viz. to make manifest the love of the Holy One for Israel. For these messengers who are appointed to watch over the works of men roam hither and thither throughout the world, gathering up the deeds of all creatures so that on New Year's Day, the day of judgement, they may stand before the Lord with their burden of accusations.

***

Mark this! When in the hour of need something is thrown as a sop to the "other side" -- like the lamb thrown to the wolf -- the representative of the "other side" soon ceases to attack its original victim. This is the reason for the offering of a goat at the New Moon and on the Day of Atonement; for Satan occupies himself with these and leaves Israel in peace. Now the time had come for the "other side" to have its due from the whole seed of Abraham. For Satan had a case against Abraham for having brought as a sacrifice an animal instead of Isaac -- an unlawful transaction, since it says, "he shall not alter it (an animal destined for sacrifice) nor change it" (Lev. XXVII, 10). His claim, therefore, was quite reasonable. Thus, from the time when Isaac was saved and an animal substituted for him as a sacrifice, the Holy One, blessed be He, apportioned unto Satan another branch of Abraham's family that he might accuse it, namely the (heathen) descendants of his brother Nahor, the family of Uz (and Job was from the land of Uz). Now Job was one of the closest counsellors of Pharaoh, and when the latter formed the intention of exterminating the children of Israel, Job advised him: "Do not kill them, but take their possessions from them and subject their bodies to severe toil." Then said the Holy One: "As thou livest, thou shalt be judged according to thine own judgements!" Therefore, when Satan said, "But put forth thine hand now and touch all that he has and touch his bone and his flesh" (v. 11), the Lord placed in his power all Job's possessions and his flesh, only bidding him to "save his soul" (v. 12) -- that is, his life.

***

Now we read in regard to Job that "his sons went and feasted ... and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them" (Job I, 4.).While they thus feasted and made merry the Accuser was daily present in their midst, but he could not prevail against them, as it is written: "Hast not thou made an hedge about him and about his house?" And when Job made sacrifices, he did not give Satan any part whatsoever, for it says, "He offered burnt-offerings according to the number of them all" (Ibid. 5), this being an offering which ascends ('olah) entirely on high, so that he gave no portion to the "other side". Had he done so, the Accuser would not have been able to prevail against him. Hence in the end he only took what was his due. As to the question which might be asked, why then did God allow Job to suffer thus, the answer would be that, had he given Satan his due, the "unholy side" would have separated itself from the holy, and so allowed the latter to ascend undisturbed into the highest spheres; but since he did not do so, the Holy One let justice be executed on him. Mark this! As Job kept evil separate from good and failed to fuse them, he was judged accordingly: first he experienced good, then what was evil, then again good. For man should be cognizant of both good and evil, and turn evil itself into good. This is a deep tenet of faith.'

***

R. Simeon continued: 'It is now fitting to reveal mysteries connected with that which is above and that which is below. Why is it written here, "Come (bo) unto Pharaoh"? Ought it not rather to have said "go" (lekh)? It is to indicate that the Holy One, blessed be He, guided Moses through a labyrinth right into the abode of a certain supernal mighty dragon -- that is to say, Egypt's celestial representative -- from whom many lesser dragons emanate. Moses was afraid to approach him, because his roots are in supernal regions, and he only approached his subsidiary streams. When the Holy One saw that Moses feared the dragon, and that none of the supernal messengers was able to overcome him, He proclaimed: "Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon (tanim) that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said: My river is my own, and I have made it for myself" (Ezek. XXIX, 3). Yea, truly, the Lord Himself had to war against this dragon, and no lesser being. This is the mystery of the "great dragon" for those who are familiar with the esoteric lore.' Said R. Simeon further: 'It is written: "And God created the great dragons (taninim) and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind" (Gen. I, 21). This verse', he said, 'we have already discussed, but the words "He created the great dragons" contain a yet more special and particular mystery: they refer to the Leviathan and his mate, which last was slain and is preserved by the Holy One for the regaling of the righteous (in the days of the Messiah). The great dragon reposes between nine rivers, the waters of which are turbulent; and there is a tenth river whose waters are calm, and into the depth of which the blessings of the waters of Paradise descend three times a year. Into this river the dragon enters, making there his habitation; and thence he sallies forth and swims down to the sea, and devours there fish of all kinds, and then returns again to the river. The nine swift rivers are banked by trees and fringed with flowers. The parent river issued from the Left Side and from it three drops fell into a certain channel, and each of the three was divided again into three, and every drop became a river. These are the nine rivers which flow through all the firmaments. And from the final moisture that remained when all the drops had issued forth yet another drop was formed, which issued gently, and of this drop was formed that tenth river, which flows calmly. Into this river also flows a drop from the blessings poured forth from the Right side by the "perennially flowing stream", and it is greater than all the rest. When the four rivers which flow out of the Garden of Eden divide, the one called Pison flows into and is fused with the calm tenth river of which we have spoken. Out of the calm river, thus augmented, are fed and filled all the other rivers; in each of which a dragon dwells, so that the number of the dragons is nine. And each of these nine has a hole in his head, and the great dragon as well, because each of them emits breath upwards and not downwards. It is written: "In the beginning God created ..." and also "And God created the great dragons". This indicates that all the ten acts of Creation had their counterpart in these ten rivers, on each of which one of the dragons breathes heavily. Now, that great dragon, when he raises his fins, heaves up the waters around him, and all the earth is shaken and all the lesser dragons, and this takes place every seventy years.' Said R. Simeon: 'Verily, though the members of the Fellowship are students of the story of Creation, having knowledge of its wonders and perception of the paths of the Holy One, blessed be He, yet even among them there are few who know how to interpret it in connection with the mystery of the great dragon.'

***

[T]he Holy One made the blood a symbol of mercy.

***

[W]henever the word "pass" is used of the Almighty, it means "constraining or forcing Himself", whether to exercise mercy or severity.

***

Could a man so great, who ascended to degrees not attained by any other, have spoken with such a lack of precision?

***

"Three times in the year all thy males shall be seen before the face of the Lord" (Ex. XXII, 17). Who then is this "face of the Lord"? None other than R. Simeon ben Yochai! And as to the reference to the "males" appearing before him, indeed only "the males of the males" (the truly manly, i.e. students of the esoteric lore) may draw near to him.'

***

You ask why the smiting of the firstborn took place at night. It was because then they were all at home, and not abroad in the fields. Further, tradition tells us that night was as bright as a day in Tamuz, therefore the whole Egyptian people could witness the mighty hand of the Holy One: "the night shined as the day; the darkness was as light" (Ps. CXXXIX, 13). Nothing so miraculous was witnessed since the creation of the world. 'Come and see,' he said, 'it is written: "It is a night (leyl) of observations unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt; this is that night (ha-layla) of the Lord, observations to all the children of Israel" (Ex. XII, 42). Now, why "observations" in plural, and "night" first in the masculine gender (layil), and then in the feminine (layla)? To indicate the union which took place on that night between the Masculine and Feminine aspects in the Divine attributes, and also the same union which will take place in the future Redemption: "As in the days of thy coming out of Egypt will I show unto him marvellous things" (Micah VII, 15).'

***

"All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a righteous man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in wickedness" (Eccl. VII, 15). How could Solomon, the wisest among men, have spoken thus? He must have intended some inner meaning, for we see for ourselves that the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He, are not thus, for He "giveth every man according to his ways and according to the fruit of his works" (Jer. XVII, 10). But Solomon hinted here at two things. When the "eyes" of the Holy One "run to and fro through the whole earth" (Zech. IV, 10), and the world is full of sinners, their guilt is visited upon the one righteous of his generation, whereas God is patient with the wicked and waits for their repentance. If they do not repent, they are left without an intercessor, for "the righteous perisheth", i.e. he has been taken away from the world. It is on this account that the Rabbis have warned us to live only in a place which is the abode of men of pious deeds, and woe betide him who fixes his dwelling among the wicked! He will surely be "seized" for their sins!

***

[A]ccording to the well-known dictum the world is upheld only by the merit of the "breath" of little school children who have not yet tasted sin. Breath is itself a mixture, being composed of air and moisture, and through it the world is carried on. Esoterically speaking, the breath of the little ones becomes "voice", and spreads throughout the whole universe, so that they become the guardians of the world.

***

WITH BITTER HERBS THEY SHALL EAT IT ... NEITHER SHALL YE BREAK A BONE THEREOF. The bitter herbs signify the Shekinah's exile with Israel in all their bitter afflictions in Egypt. Why were the bones of the Passover lamb not allowed to be broken? So that the dogs might drag them about and the Egyptians be thus made to realize the nothingness of that which they worshipped, and so be put to shame, and the Holy One be glorified.

***

Then they looked back, and lo! there was Pharaoh with all his hosts and their manifold weapons! Their fear increased at this sight, and their terror knew no bounds. Then "they cried". Thus they came near to their heavenly Father, whose aid they invoked; and of this Pharaoh was indirectly the cause.'

***

'We have been taught that the Name YHVH in every connection signifies mercy; even when it is related to war and judgement, the judgement is executed in mercy; but here we read, "YHVH shall fight for you", and yet the attribute of mercy was not manifested at all in the Egyptians' defeat, for "there remained not so much as one of them" (v. 28).' R. Judah replied by quoting a remark of R. Simeon on this subject, showing that here also mercy and kindness was manifested (in the execution of judgement). For when the Egyptians were drowned, the sea spat them out, while the earth refused to take in the bodies, until the Holy One, in order not to deprive them of the last honour, stretched out to the earth His right hand and commanded her to receive them, as is indicated by the words, "Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them" (XV, 12). Therefore the Israelites had to be silent, for had they caused an awakening from below, it was not the attribute of Mercy that they would have awakened, and so judgement would have been executed on the Egyptians without mercy, and the heavenly design would have been frustrated.' Said R. Jose: 'What of the verse: "And YHVH will come out and fight against those nations" (Zech. XIV, 3)?' R. Judah replied: 'There also mercy will be shown in that God will allow them to die without suffering. In fact, this Name always signifies judgement in mercy, except in one connection, namely the war of the future, of which it says: "The Lord shall go forth as a giant ... like a man of war" (Isa. XLII, 13). But even here all that is meant is that the judgement will be exceptionally severe, and mercy will still be fused with it: the particle "ke" (like) has a qualifying effect, showing that the Lord is only compared to a "giant" and to a "man of war"; and although He will exercise judgement, He will have mercy on those whom He created.'

***

Mark also this! All the supernal hosts with their cohorts and lightful chariots of celestial speed are joined one to another, grade to grade, the lower to the higher, each to its counterpart; and above them all a holy "Living being" (Hayah) (cf. Ezek. I) is set, and all those myriads of armies move and rest according to its will and direction. This is that Living Creature to which all Hayoth are linked, as each is also to each, all moving and swimming in the sea, concerning which it is written: "This is the great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts" (Ps. CIV, 25). Now, when the wheels of the sea arise all the boats which sail thereon do heave and toss, and air and waters are mightily stirred so that a great storm arises; and the fishes that dwell in the depths of the sea are whirled about by the violence of the tempest, and are buffeted towards the four corners of the earth, some to the east, and some to the west, some to the north, and some to the south; and there they are caught by the nets of fishermen, as they reach the ocean's shallower depths, where the sands of the shore slope down to meet the breakers of that sea. At that time the boats steer no course, either certain or uncharted, but only toss and heave in one place. At last a swift but subtle current arises amid the tumult of the stormy waters, and gradually their strife is stilled and peace descends upon the waves; then the boats steer a straight course for their bourne, and swerve not nor falter; concerning which it is written: "There go the ships; there is that Leviathan whom thou hast made to play therein" (Ibid. v, 26). And all the fishes of the sea gather to their places, and all the creatures rejoice over it and the Hayoth of the supernal fields, as it is written: "And all the beasts of the field play there" (Job XL, 20). Come and see! The likeness of that which is above is that which is below, and what is below is also in the sea, and the likeness of that which is above is that which is in the supernal sea, and what is below is also in the lower sea. As the higher sea has length and width and head and arms and hair and a body, so also the lower sea.' Said R. Simeon: 'How many chariots there are whose wheels run speedily, carrying the framework upon them without delay! Yet here "God made him drive heavily". We interpret these words of the heavenly chariot, which was the guardian angel of Egypt, and which then was rendered imperfect. There were many others dependent on this one, and when it lost its power the lower chariots lost their power, as it is written: "Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods, and their kings; even Pharaoh and all them that trust [49a] in him" (Jer. XLVI, 25). At that time Egypt's Principality was superior to that of all other nations, but as soon as its power was broken, the power of all the other nations was also broken, as it is written: "Then the dukes of Edom were amazed, the mighty men of Moab, trembling took hold upon them ..." (Ex. XV, 15). For they were all in Egypt's vassalage, and were linked with Egypt and were dependent on her for their existence, and therefore when they heard the mighty works of the Holy One in Egypt, they lost courage, and fear and trembling fell upon them. Verily, as soon as Egypt's power was broken above, the power of all those who were joined to her was also broken. Therefore it says: "and removed the wheel (ofan) of his chariots, not "wheels", signifying that when this was removed all the chariots dependent on it were unable to proceed. Happy are the Israelites who are linked to the Holy One who chose them to be His portion: "Ye who cleave to the Lord your God, ye are all alive to-day" (Deut. IV, 4). He brought them forth from the holy seed in order that they might be His portion, and therefore He gave them His Torah, the holy one, the supernal one, which was hidden for two thousand years before the creation of the world. He gave it to them out of love, so that they may cleave to it. Now all the supernal hosts and chariots are linked to one another, grades to grades, lower to higher, wheels within wheels: and a holy Hayah is over them all, and all the multitudinous hosts and powers are under her direction and control; when she moves they move, when she rests they rest. Therefore when the Holy One, blessed be He, desired to bring the hosts of Pharaoh down even unto the depths, He first removed that supernal influence which led and directed all the other powers and principalities. When that guardian was removed the others could not continue on their way, and as soon as their power was removed the guardian of Egypt lost his power as well, and had to pass through the Fiery Stream, and thus the dominion of Egypt came to nought. Therefore the Egyptians said: "Let us flee from the face of Israel" (v. 25).'

***

Said R. Abba: 'How many thousands, how many myriads, of celestial cohorts surround the Holy One and follow in His train! Princes of supernal countenances are there, and beings full of eyes; lords of the sharp weapons, lords of the piercing cry, lords of the heralding trumpet, lords of mercy, lords of judgement; and above them the Lord has appointed the Matrona to minister before Him in the Palace. She for her own bodyguard has armed hosts of sixty different degrees. Holding their swords, they stand around Her. They come and go, entering and departing again on the errands of their Master. Each with his six wings outspread they circle the world in swift and silent flight. Before each of them coals of fire burn. Their garments are woven of flames from a bright and burning fire. A sharp flaming sword also is at the shoulder of each to guard [51a] Her. Concerning these swords it is written: "The flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life" (Gen. III, 23). Now, what is "the way of the Tree of Life"? This is the great Matrona who is the way to the great and mighty Tree of Life. Concerning this it is written: "Behold the bed which is Solomon's; the three score valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel" (S.S. III, 7), namely, the Supernal Israel. "They all hold swords" (Ibid. 8), and when the Matrona moves they all move with her, as it is written: "and the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them" (Ex. XIV, (9). Is, then, the Shekinah called "the angel of the Lord"? Assuredly! For thus said R. Simeon: "The Holy One prepared for Himself a holy Palace, a supernal Palace, a holy City, a supernal City, which is called 'Jerusalem, the holy city'. He who wishes to see the King, must enter through this holy City and thence take his way to the King: 'this is the gate of the Lord into which the righteous shall enter' (Ps. CXVIII, 20)." Every message which the King wishes to send out is sent through the Matrona, and, conversely, every message sent from the lower spheres to the King must first reach the Matrona, and from her it goes to the King. Thus the Matrona is the messenger between the upper regions and the lower. For this reason she is called "the angel (messenger) of God". It may be asked, is it consonant with the dignity of the King that the Matrona should declare war for him and receive petitions to him? The following parable may explain. A king married a noble lady, whose worth he esteemed so highly that in comparison with her he regarded all other women as a mere vulgar herd. "What shall I do to honour her?" he thought. "I will give her full control over the palace and over my whole household!" So he made a proclamation that all the king's business should pass through the hands of the queen. He also handed over to her all the weapons of war, all his military advisers and generals, all his regalia, and indeed all his treasures of every sort, and said: "From now anyone who wishes to speak to me must first make known his suit unto the queen." Similarly, the Holy One, blessed be He, out of His great love for the Community of Israel (represented by the Shekinah) has entrusted everything to her (i.e. the Shekinah), proclaiming all the other nations to be of no account in comparison with her. "There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number; but my dove, my undefiled is but one" (S.S. VI, 8, 9). He resolved that His whole household be given into her keeping, and delivered to her all his armoury, all the lances, all the swords, all the bows, all the arrows, all the spears, all the catapults, all the citadels, and all weapons of warfare, the "sixty valiant men, the valiant of Israel". He said: "From now let My warfare be entrusted to Thee; My weapons, My fighters! From now Thou must guard them all. From now, he who wishes to speak to Me must first make known his concerns to Thee! " Hence "the angel of God went behind them." Why behind them? In order to face all the grades of fighting principalities and powers, all the hosts of celestial representatives of the enemy who had come to fight against Israel. For, as we have learnt, at that hour the greatest prince appointed to represent Egypt in the supernal spheres arrived and with him six hundred chariots; directed by six hundred angelic adversaries of Israel. That prince was Samael. [51b] When did the Holy One requite him? In the battle of Sisera, when He rooted out all those chariots and delivered them unto the Matrona, as it is written, in the Song of Deborah: "The river Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon" (Jud. v, 21). And in the future all of them shall be delivered up, as it says: "Who is this that cometh from Edom ...?" (Isa. LXIII, 1). And this indeed is the significance of the words: "And he went behind them" -- that the Shekinah will uproot them all at the end of days.'

***

[W]e must picture a king who combines in himself the balance and harmony of all attributes, and therefore his countenance always shines like the sun, and he is serene because of his wholeness and perfection; but when he judges, he can condemn as well as acquit. A fool, seeing that the king's countenance is bright, thinks that there is nothing to be afraid of; but a wise man says to himself, "although the king's countenance shines, it is because he is perfect and combines benevolence with justice, and in that brightness judgement is hidden, and therefore I must be careful".

***

When she is about to bear a child and is in difficulty, she puts her head between her knees, and cries bitterly, and the Holy One sends a serpent which stings the place, and straightway deliverance comes to her.'

***

R. Simeon added that it is always for the sake of the patriarchs that the Lord redeems Israel, as it is written: "And I shall remember my covenant with Jacob, also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham, and the land I shall remember" (Lev. XXVI, 42); the "land" representing King David, who completes a Chariot with the Patriarchs.

***

AND ISRAEL SAW THE GREAT HAND WHICH THE LORD DID UPON THE EGYPTIANS. They had seen how God had smitten the Egyptians even before this; but only now did they behold the Hand of full five fingers, which hand is called "great" because it includes other "five fingers", namely those of the Left Hand, as we have already made clear, and every "finger" symbolizes many Divine powers and signs, by means of which all the grades of inimical celestial powers were brought to nought; and it is of this that the Israelites had a revelation at that moment by the sea shore.

***

Where now is this "book of the wars of the Lord"? What is meant is, of course, the Torah, for, as the members of the Fellowship have pointed out, he who is engaged in the battle of the Torah, struggling to penetrate into her mysteries, will wrest from his struggles an abundance of peace. All other wars involve strife and destruction, but the war of the Torah is one of peace and love: "Vaheb in Supha" may be read "ahabah be-sophah", "love is in her end", for there is no love nor peace like this. The word "book" is used, and not "torah" as we might expect, for an esoteric reason, viz. that there is a divine sphere called "Book", as it says: "Seek ye out of the book of the Lord and read" (Isa. XXXIV, 16), on which all the mighty works of the Lord depend and from which they emanate. With this, God made war against a certain sphere at the end (soph) of the grades called Yaheb. God also fought against the "brooks", the subsidiary principalities attached to it. He waged war from the region called "Amon", which is the sphere of the supernal marital union which is never dissolved. Therein it is rooted and spreads its branches to make war on every side and to manifest great and glorious power. When the mighty works of the Lord are roused and His battles begin to be waged, how many celestial warriors are stirred up to do martial deeds on every side! Then swords and spears are whetted, and mighty deeds begin. The sea grows stormy and the waves thereof rise mightily, and the boats toss on the heaving waters. Then the fray commences with catapults, spears, swords, and arrows, and the Lord takes command of His hosts to conduct the battle. Woe unto those against whom the Holy One declares war! "The Lord is a man of war." From the letters of this phrase lines of battle are formed against the wicked, the enemies of the Lord. These letters are known to the initiated, as has been explained elsewhere. In time to come the Holy One, blessed be He, will conduct a stupendous warfare against the heathen nations, to the glory of His Name: "Then shall the Lord go forth and fight against those nations" (Zech. XIV, 3); "Thus will I magnify myself and I will be known in the eyes of many nations" (Ezek. XXVIII, 23).'

***

Said R. Eleazar: 'Behold, how many chariots, how many hosts, the Holy One has formed above! How many camps, how many divisions! And all of them are [56b] linked to one another, all are chariots one to another, manifold grades, diverse and yet united! From the left side the chariots of the unholy principalities rise up. They also are linked one with the other, grade to grade, the greatest of them being, as we have already pointed out, "the firstborn of Pharaoh", whom the Holy One killed. All of these unholy powers are delivered unto the judgement of the Kingdom, the which is called "the great sea", in order that they may be uprooted each in his own grade, and be utterly cast down, and when they are broken above, all their counterparts below are also broken and lost in the "lower sea". As to the "captains" (shalishim) who were drowned in the Red Sea, it has already been made clear that all these grades consist of three (shalosh) attributes each (two and one, the triad, corresponding to the holy triad above). They were all delivered unto Her (the Shekinah's) hand, that their power might be broken. All the ten punishments which the Holy One brought on Egypt were achieved by the power of one "hand", for the "left hand" is included in the right, the ten fingers forming one entity in correspondence to the Ten expressions by which the Holy One is designated.

***

Now all light, all blessing, all joy, emanates from the "Right Hand" of the Holy One, blessed be He. Yet at the same time the "Left Hand" participates in the activities of the Right, just as in a human being, for though the right is the leader, yet when it is active the left becomes active likewise. When a man raises up his hand in prayer, his purpose is to bless God. But with God it is the reverse: when He raises up His right hand, then woe unto those below, yea, woe and tribulation; for then all blessing and support is removed from them. We learn this from the verse: "Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them" (Ex. XV, 12), meaning, that so soon as God raised His right hand they perished. (The Targum also renders, "Thou liftedst up Thy right hand".) When the Right Hand is in its place, the Left Hand is under its dominance, therefore stern justice can have no power among men. But if the Right Hand is lifted up, the Left remains alone, and stirs up mighty judgement in the world.' Each time that R. Simeon came to the words, "He hath drawn back his right hand" (Lam. II, 3), he used to weep, interpreting them to mean that the Lord permitted the Left Hand to be powerful and to have sole dominion over the worlds, while the Right Hand remained in another place, far off.

***

'It is written: "Doth the serpent bite without enchantment? (lit. whispering)" (Eccl. X, 11). The serpent does not bite unless it be whispered to from above and commanded to kill some one, so as to prevent that person from committing some evil; thus the very poison is used by the Holy One in order to perform some miracle. It is, in truth, all in His hands; it is all according to His plan, and if it had no purpose He would not have created it. And if it is wrong to despise anything in this world, how much more sinful must it be to think lightly of any word or act of the Holy One, blessed be He. It is written: "And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. I, 31). The "living God" (Elohim Hayyim,) purposed to give us light and to care for us in His Providence; and in His creation all are united, above and below, the "Right Side" and the "Left Side", the angel of life and the angel of death: all are part of His plan, and it is "very good"; it is all part of the same mystic doctrine, apprehended by those who contemplate the mystery of wisdom.

***

'We have been taught that Jethro had been a heathen priest, and as soon as he saw that there was no truth in paganism he renounced it and ceased to worship the idols, and then his people excommunicated him, and when they saw his daughters they drove them away, for previously the shepherds used to pasture Jethro's flocks. When Moses saw through the holy spirit that the shepherds acted as they did on account of their idolatrous religion, he straightway stood up and helped the daughters and watered their flocks, acting wholly from zeal for God in all things.'...

Moreover, Moses "tended the flock of Jethro", not his own sheep, though he must have possessed some, for, as R. Jose remarked, "Jethro was a rich man, and, surely, he must have given to his son-in-law sheep and cattle!" Yet he did not tend his own sheep, for then people might have said, "he treats them so well because they are his own". Although Jethro was a "priest of Midian", that is to say, a pagan, yet because he was kind to Moses, the latter served him well and tended his flock with all due care in good and fat pasture.'....

So one must beware of despising anyone, since the words of an ordinary person may be of great consequence, as it says of Moses that he "hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said" (Ex. XVIII, 24).'

R. Eleazar continued: 'It is written, "Therefore I shall praise thee, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises unto thy name" (Ps. XVIII, 50). David said this under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, when he saw that the glory of the Holy One is not exalted and honoured in the world as it should be, unless other nations also contribute. It is true that the Holy One is glorified for Israel's sake alone; but while Israel are the foundation of the divine light from out of which issues forth light for the whole world, yet when heathen nations come to accept the glory of the Holy One and to worship Him, then the foundation of the light is strengthened, and all its rays are unified, and then the Holy One reigns above and below. This is exactly what happened when Jethro, the high priest of paganism, was converted to the worship of the true God of Israel: the whole world, hearing of the mighty works of the Holy One, and seeing that the great sage, Jethro, had been drawn to worship the God of Israel, gave up their idols, realizing their impotence, and in this way the glory of the Holy Name of God was exalted on all sides. For this reason the narrative concerning Jethro has been preserved in the Torah, with Jethro's name at the head.

***

YE HAVE SEEN WHAT I DID UNTO THE EGYPTIANS. AND HOW I BARE YOU ON EAGLES' WINGS. What do "eagles' wings" denote? According to R. Judah, the "eagles" are a symbol of mercy, as it says: "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings, so the Lord ... " (Deut. XXXII, 11). As the eagle watches lovingly over its own young, but is cruel towards others, so does the Holy One manifest His loving mercy to Israel and His severe judgement to the heathen nations.

***

R. Jose remarked that all the prophets are in comparison with Moses like females in comparison with males.

-- The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon
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