The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon

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

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

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:53 pm

Part 1 of 3

VAYERA

Gen. XVIII, I-XXII, 24

AND THE LORD APPEARED UNTO HIM. R. Hiya commenced to discourse on the verse: The flowers appear on the earth, the time of song is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land (S. S. II, 12). He said: 'When God created the world, He endowed the earth with all the energy requisite for it, but it did not put forth produce until man appeared. When, however, man was created, all the products that were latent in the earth appeared above ground. Similarly, the heaven did not impart strength to the earth until man came. So it is written, "All the plants of the earth were not yet on the earth, and the herbs of the field had not yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground" (Gen. II, 5), that is to say, all the products of the earth were still hidden in its bosom and had not yet shown themselves, and the heavens refrained from pouring rain upon the earth, because man had not yet been created. When, however, man appeared, forthwith "the flowers appeared on the earth", all its latent powers being revealed; "the time of song was come", the earth being now ripe to offer up praises to the Almighty, which it could not do before man was created. "And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land": this is the word of God, which was not [97b] in the world till man was created. Thus when man was there, everything was there. When man sinned, the earth was cursed, and all these good things left it, as it is written, "cursed is the earth for thy sake" (Gen. III, 17), and again, "when thou tillest the ground it shall not give its strength to thee" (Ibid. IV, 12), and again, "thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to thee" (Ibid. III, 18). When Noah came, he invented spades and hoes, but afterwards he sinned through drunkenness, and the rest of the world also sinned before God, and the strength of the earth deserted it. So matters continued until Abraham came. Then once more "the blossoms appeared in the earth". and all the powers of the earth were restored and displayed themselves. ''The time of pruning (zamir) came", i.e. God told Abraham to circumcise himself. When at length the covenant existed in Abraham through the circumcision, then all this verse was fulfilled in him, the world was firmly established, and the word of the Lord came to him openly: .hence it is written, AND THE LORD APPEARED UNTO HIM.' Said R. Eleazar: 'Until Abraham was circumcised, God did not speak with him save from a lower grade, whereon, too, the higher grades were not resting, But when he was circumcised, straightway "the blossoms appeared in the earth", to wit, the lower grades which the earth put forth, thereby establishing that lower grade we have mentioned; further, "the time of pruning came", to wit, the pruning of the boughs of orlah; and to crown all, "the voice of the turtle was heard in the land", to wit, the voice which issues from the innermost [98a] recess. This voice was now heard, and shaped the spoken words and gave them their perfect form. This is implied in the words here used, "and the Lord appeared to him". Already, before Abraham was circumcised, we are told that "the Lord appeared unto Abram" (Gen. XVII, 1), and if the word "him" in this sentence refers to Abraham, we may well ask, what advance had he made (in prophecy) by being circumcised? The answer is that the word "him" here has an inner meaning: it refers to the grade which now spoke with him. Now for the first time "the Lord appeared" to that grade; that is to say, the Voice was revealed, and associated itself with the Speech (dibbur) in conversing with him. Similarly in the words, AS HE SAT IN THE TENT DOOR IN THE HEAT OF THE DAY, the word "he" has an inner meaning, indicating that all the grades rested on this lower grade after Abraham was circumcised. Thus the words "And the Lord appeared unto him" contain a mystic allusion to that audible Voice which is united to Speech, and manifests itself therein. "As he sat in the tent door" refers to the supernal world which was at hand to illumine him. "In the heat of the day." That is, it was the right side, to which Abraham clave, that illumined. According to another exposition, "in the heat of the day" indicates the time when the grades approach each other, impelled by mutual desire.' [98b]

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AND THERE APPEARED UNTO HIM. R. Abba said: 'Before Abraham was circumcised he was, as it were, covered over, but as soon as he was circumcised he became completely exposed to the influence of the Shekinah, which thereupon rested on him in full and perfect measure. The words "as he sat in the tent door" picture the supernal world hovering over this lower world. When is this? "In the heat of the day", that is, at a period when a certain Zaddik (righteous one) feels a desire to repose therein. Straightway "it lifts up its eyes and looks, and lo, three men stand over against it". Who are these three men? They are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who stand over this lower grade, and from whom it [99a] draws sustenance and nourishment. Thereupon "it sees and runs to meet them", since it is the desire of this lower grade to attach itself to them, and its joy is to be drawn after them. "And it bows down to the ground", to prepare a throne near them. Observe that the Almighty made King David one of the under-pillars of the supernal throne, the patriarchs being the other three. For he was a pedestal to them, yet when he is joined with them he becomes one of the pillars upholding the supernal throne; and on that account he reigned in Hebron for seven years, namely, in order that he might be closely associated with them, as explained elsewhere.'

R. Abba opened a discourse with the verse: Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy piau? (Ps. XXIV,3). 'Mankind', he said, 'little realise on what it is that they are standing whilst in this world. For the days as they pass ascend and range themselves before the Almighty -- namely, all the days of men's existence in this world. For all these have been created, and they all present themselves on high. That they have been created we know from the words of Scripture, "The days were fashioned" (Ps. CXXXIX, 16). And when the time comes for the days to depart from this world, they all approach the Most High King, as it is written, "And the days of David drew nigh that he should die" (I Kings II, 1), and again, "And the days of Israel drew nigh that he should die" (Gen. XLVII, 29). Man, however, whilst in this world, considers not and reflects not what it is he is standing on, and each day as it passes he regards as though it has vanished into nothingness. When the soul departs this world she knows not by what path she will be made to travel; for it is not granted to all souls to ascend by the way that leads to the realm of radiance where the choicest souls shine forth. [99b] For it is the path taken by man in this world that determines the path of the soul on her departure. Thus, if a man is drawn towards the Holy One, and is filled with longing towards Him in this world, the soul in departing from him is carried upward towards the higher realms by the impetus given her each day in this world.' R. Abba continued: 'I once found myself in a town inhabited by descendants of the "children of the East", and they imparted to me some of the Wisdom of antiquity with which they were acquainted. They also possessed some books of their Wisdom, and they showed me one in which it was written that, according to the goal which a man sets himself in this world, so does he draw to himself a spirit from on high. If he strives to attain some holy and lofty object, he draws that object from on high to himself below. But if his desire is to cleave to the other side, and he makes this his whole intent, then he draws to himself from above the other influence. They said, further, that all depends on the kind of speech, action, and intention to which a man habituates himself, for he draws to himself here below from on high that side to which he habitually cleaves. 1 found also in the same book the rites and ceremonies pertaining to the worship of the stars, with the requisite formulas and the directions for concentrating the thought upon them, so [100a] as to draw them near the worshipper. The same principle applies to him who seeks to be attached to the sacred spirit on high. For it is by his acts, by his words, and by his fervency and devotion that he can draw to himself that spirit from on high. They further said that if a man follows a certain direction in this world, he will be led further in the same direction when he departs this world; as that to which he attaches himself in this world, so is that to which he will find himself attached in the other world: if holy, holy, and if defiled, defiled. If he cleaves to holiness he will on high be drawn to that side and be made a servant to minister before the Holy One among the angels, and will stand among those holy beings who are referred to in the words, "then I will give thee free access among these that stand by" (Zech. III, 7). Similarly if he clings here to uncleanness, he will be drawn there towards that side and be made one of the unclean company and be attached to them. These are called "pests of mankind", and when a man leaves this world they take him up and cast him into Gehinnom, in that region where judgement is meted out to those who have sullied themselves and soiled their spirits. After that he is made a companion of the unclean spirits and becomes a "pest of mankind" like one of them. I then said to them: My children, all this is similar to what we learn in our Torah, nevertheless you should keep away from these books so that your hearts should not [100b] be led astray after those idolatrous services and after those "sides" mentioned. here. Be on your guard lest, God forbid, you be led astray from the worship of the Holy One, since all these books mislead mankind. For the ancient children of the East were possessed of a wisdom which they inherited from Abraham, who transmitted it to the sons of the concubines, as it is written, "But unto the sons of the concubines that Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and he sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the country of the children of the East" (Gen. XXV, 6). In course of time they followed the track of that wisdom into many (wrong) directions. Not so with the seed of Isaac, with the portion of Jacob. For it is written, "And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac" (Ibid. 5), this being the holy heritage of faith to which Abraham clave, and from the sphere of which issued Jacob, of whom it is written, "And, behold, the Lord stood beside him" (Gen. XXVIII,13), and also, "And thou, Israel, my servant, etc." (Is. XLI, 8). Hence it behoves a man to follow the Holy One and to cleave to Him continually, as it is written, "and to him shalt thou cleave" (Deut. X, 20). It is written, "Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord ?" and the answer is given, "He that hath clean hands and a pure heart" (Ps. XXIV, 3-4), that is, he that has not made with his hands vain shapes nor grasped with them wrongful objects, nor has he defiled himself through them like those who defile their bodies wilfully. "And pure of heart": that is, he that averts his heart and mind from the "other side" and directs them towards the service of the Holy One. It says further: "Who hath not lifted up his soul unto falsehood ... he shall receive a blessing from the Lord" (Ibid. 4-5); [101a] that is to say, when he leaves this world his soul ascends furnished with good works which will enable him to obtain entry among the holy celestial beings, in accordance with the verse, "I shall walk before the Lord in the lands of the living" (Ps. CXVI, 9), for since "he hath not lifted his soul unto falsehood, he shall receive a blessing from the Lord, etc."'

When Abraham was still suffering from the effects of the circumcision, the Holy One sent him three angels, in visible shape, to enquire of his well-being. You may, perhaps, wonder how angels can ever be visible, since it is written, "Who makes his angels spirits" (Ps. CIV, 4). Abraham, however, assuredly did see them, as they descended to earth in the form of men. And, indeed, whenever the celestial spirits descend to earth, they clothe themselves in corporeal elements and appear to men in human shape. Now Abraham, although he was in great pain from his wound, ran forward to meet them so as not to be remiss in his wonted hospitality. R. Simeon said: 'Assuredly he saw them in their angelic forms, since it is written, AND HE SAID, ADONAI (my Lord), which shows that the Shekinah (one appellative of which is Adonai) had come with them, and that the angels accompanied her as her throne and pillars, because they are the three colours below her, and Abraham, now that he was circumcised, saw what he could not see before.' [101b] At first he took them for men, but afterwards he became aware that they were holy angels who had been sent on a mission to him. This was when they asked him, WHERE IS SARAH THY WIFE? and announced to him the coming birth of Isaac. AND THEY SAID TO HIM: in the word elau (to him) there are dots over the letters aleph, yod, and vau, which spell out the word ayo (where is he?). This is a reference to the Holy One who is above. Again, the word thus formed ayo is followed by the word ayeh (where?), which is a feminine form of the same, to emphasise the bond of union between the male and the female, which is the secret of true faith. Where is that bond of union complete? The' answer is, BEH0LD IN THE TENT: there it is found, and there is the all-in-all union. WHERE IS SARAH THY WIFE? Did not the celestial angels know that she was in the tent? The fact is that angels do not know of happenings in this world save what is necessary for their mission. This is borne out by the text, "For I will pass through the land of Egypt ... I am the Lord" (Ex. XII, 12), which indicates that although the Holy One had many messengers and angels to perform His work, yet they would not have been able to distinguish between the germ of the first-born and of the later born -- only the Almighty Himself could do this. Another example is the verse, "and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men etc." (Ezek. IX, 4), which proves that the angels require a mark, as otherwise they only know what is specially communicated to them, as, for instance, the sufferings which the Holy One is about to bring upon the world as a whole and which He proclaims throughout the seven heavens. Thus when the destroying angel is at large [102a] in the world, a man should take shelter in his house, remain under cover and not show himself in the open, so that no hurt may befall him, as the Israelites were bidden in Egypt, "and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning" (Ex. XII, 22). From the angels one can hide oneself, but not from God, of whom it is written, "Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him ? saith the Lord" (Jer. XXIII, 24). The angel asked: "Where is Sarah thy wife ?" for the reason that he did not want to deliver the message in her presence; but as soon as Abraham said, "Behold, she is in the tent", he said: I WILL CERTAINLY RETURN UNTO THEE WHEN THE SEASON COMETH ROUND, AND, LO, SARAH THY WIFE SHALL HAVE A SON. Note the delicacy of the angels in not announcing anything to Abraham before he invited them to eat, so as not to make it appear that the invitation was a repayment for their good tidings. We thus read first, "and they did eat", and then, "and they said unto him". AND THEY DID EAT: how so? Do celestial angels eat? The truth is that they only simulated eating in honour of Abraham. R. Eleazar said: 'They certainly did eat, in the sense of fire consuming fire invisibly; of a truth what Abraham offered them they ate, as it is from the side of Abraham that they obtain sustenance on high.'

Note that Abraham kept all his food in a state of ritual cleanliness, and therefore he personally waited on them whilst they were eating. He observed so strictly the laws regarding clean and unclean that no man in a state of ritual impurity was allowed to serve in his house until he had duly cleansed himself by bathing before nightfall or by abstention for [102b] seven days, according to the degree of his defilement. And as Abraham prepared the means of purification for men in such a state, so did Sarah for women. The reason why Abraham did this was because he was himself pure and is designated "pure" (as it is written, "Who can bring forth a pure one from one impure ?" (Job XIV, 4), which is a reference to Abraham, who was born of Terah). R. Simeon said that it was in order to confirm Abraham in his special grade, which is symbolised by water, that he set out to keep the world pure by means of water. The same symbolic meaning underlies the words uttered by him when he invited the angels to partake of food, to wit, "Let a little water be fetched", he wishing thereby to confirm himself in the degree symbolised by water. He therefore endeavoured to purify people in all respects -- to cleanse them from idolatry and to cleanse them from ritual impurity. In the same way Sarah purified the women. The result was that all in their house were in a state of ritual purity. Wherever Abraham took up his residence he used to plant a certain tree, but in no place did it flourish properly save in the land of Canaan. By means of this tree he was able to distinguish between the man who adhered to the Almighty and the man who worshipped idols. For the man who worshipped the true God the tree spread out its branches, and formed an agreeable shade over his head; whereas in the presence of one who clung to the side of idolatry the tree shrank within itself and its branches stood upright. Abraham thus recognised the erring man, admonished him, and did not desist until he had succeeded in making him embrace the true faith. Similarly the tree received under its shade those who were clean, and not those who were unclean; and when Abraham recognised the latter, he purified them by means of water. Moreover, there was a spring of water under that very tree, and when a man came who required immediate immersion, the waters rose and also the branches of the tree: and that was a sign for Abraham that that man needed immersion forthwith. On other occasions the water dried up: this was a sign to Abraham that that man could not be purified before the lapse of seven days. Note that Abraham, in offering his invitation to the angels, said, "and recline yourselves under the tree": this was for the purpose of testing them, in the same way as he tested by the same tree any wayfarer who came. By the word "tree", he also referred to the Holy One, blessed be He, who is the tree of life for all, as though to say, "recline yourselves under His shade, and not under the shelter of strange gods". Note that Adam transgressed through eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and this brought death into the world. God then said, "and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also the tree of life etc." (Gen. III, 22). But when Abraham came, he remedied the evil by means of that other tree, which is the tree of life, and by means of which he made known the true faith to the whole world. AND HE SAID: I WILL CERTAINLY RETURN UNTO THEE WHEN THE SEASON COMETH ROUND, ETC. R. Isaac said: 'Instead of "I will return", we should have expected here "he will return", since the visitation of barren women is in the hand of the Almighty Himself and not in the hand of any messenger, according to the dictum: "Three keys there are which have not been entrusted to any messenger, namely, of child-birth, of the resurrection, and of rain." But the truth is that the words "I will return" were spoken by the Holy One, blessed be He, who was present there. This is corroborated by the use here of the term vayomer (and he said). For it is to be observed that wherever the verb vayomer (and he said), or vayiqra (and he called), occurs without a subject, then the implied subject is the Angel of the Covenant and no other. Examples are: "And he said, If thou wilt diligently hearken etc." (Ex. XV, 26); also: "And he called unto Moses" (Lev. I, 1); also: "And unto Moses he said" (Ex. XXIV, 1). [103a] In all these passages, as well as in our present passage, the unspecified subject of the sentence is the Angel of the Covenant.

AND, LO, SARAH THY WIFE SHALL HAVE A SON. Why not "and thou shalt have a son" ? In order that Abraham should not think that possibly he should be from Hagar, like the previous one. R. Simeon here discoursed on the text: A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master (Mal. 1, 6). He said: 'A conspicuous example of a son honouring his father is presented by Isaac at the time when Abraham bound him on the altar with the intent of offering him up as a sacrifice. He was then thirty-seven years old, whilst his father was an old man; and though he could easily, by a single kick, have liberated himself, he let himself be bound like a lamb in order to do the will of his father. A servant's honouring his master is illustrated by Eliezer's conduct on the occasion when he was sent by Abraham to Haran; he there followed out all the wishes of his master and paid him great respect, as it is written, "And he said, I am Abraham's servant; and the Lord blessed my master Abraham" (Gen. XXIV, 34-35). Here was a man who had with him silver and gold and precious stones and camels and was himself of a goodly presence; yet he did not present himself as a friend of Abraham or one of his kin, but openly declared, "I am the servant of Abraham", in order to extol his master and make him an object of honour in the eyes of his hearers. Hence the prophet proclaims: "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master", as much as to say, "but ye Israel my children, ye feel ashamed to declare that I am your father or that ye are my servants". Hence the verse proceeds: "If then I be a father, where is my honour ?" (Mal. I, 6). So when it says of Isaac, "And lo, a son", it means, "truly a son, a son proper, not an Ishmael, but a son who will pay due respect and honour to his father". Further it is said, "And Sarah thy wife shall have a son", because Isaac was indeed a son to Sarah, since it was on his account that she died, on his account she suffered anguish of soul until her life departed, and, further, on his account she is exalted at the time when the Holy One sits in judgement on the world, for on that day the Israelites read the portion: "And the Lord remembered Sarah as he had said" (Gen. XXI, I), mentioning Sarah for the sake of Isaac. Truly he was "a son to Sarah". AND SARAH HEARD IN THE TENT DOOR, AND IT WAS BEHIND HIM. We should have expected "and she was behind him". But the inner meaning of the whole verse is that Sarah heard the "Door of the Tent", which is identical with the Holy One in the lower grade, making the declaration, and that "He", to wit, the Holy One in the supernal grade, "was behind him" (the door), confirming the declaration. During the whole of her lifetime Sarah never heard any utterance from the Holy One save on that occasion. According to another interpretation, the expression "and he was behind him" refers to Abraham, who was behind the Shekinah.'

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Now ABRAHAM AND SARAH WERE OLD, THEY HAD ARRIVED IN REGARDTO DAYS. The expression "they had arrived (ba'u) in regard to days" is equivalent to "their days had approached their allotted term", Abraham being a hundred years old and Sarah ninety. We may compare the expression "for the day arrived" (ba) , i.e. the day had declined towards evening. IT HAD CEASED TO BE WITH SARAH AFTER THE MANNER OF WOMEN: but at that moment she experienced a rejuvenation. Hence her remark AND MY LORD IS OLD, as much as to say that he was unfitted to beget children on account of age. R. Judah here began a discourse with the verse: Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land (Prov. XXXI, 23). He said: 'The Holy One, blessed be He, is transcendent in His glory, He is hidden and removed far beyond all ken; there is no one in the world, nor has there ever been one, whom His wisdom and essence do not elude, since He is recondite and hidden and beyond all ken, so that neither the supernal nor the lower beings are able to commune with Him until they utter the words "Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place" (Ezek. III, 12). The creatures of the earth think of Him as being on high, declaring, "His glory is above the heavens" (Ps. CXIII, 4), while the heavenly beings think of Him as being below, declaring, "His glory is over all the earth" (Ps. LVII, 12), until they both, in heaven and on earth, concur in declaring, "Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place", because He is unknowable and no one can truly understand Him. This being so, how can you say, "Her husband is known in the gates"? [103b] But of a truth the Holy One makes Himself known to every one according to the measure of his understanding and his capacity to attach himself to the spirit of Divine wisdom; and thus "Her husband is known", not "in the gates" (bishe'arim), but, as we may also translate, "by measure", though a full knowledge is beyond the reach of any being.' R. Simeon said: 'The "gates" mentioned in this passage are the same as the gates in the passage, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates" (Ps. XXIV, 7), and refer to the supernal grades by and through which alone a knowledge of the Almighty is possible to man, and but for which man could not commune with God. Similarly, man's soul cannot be known directly, save through the members of the body, which are the grades forming the instruments of the soul. The soul is thus known and unknown. So it is with the Holy One, blessed be He, since He is the Soul of souls, the Spirit of spirits, covered and veiled from anyone: nevertheless, through those gates, which are doors for the soul, the Holy One makes Himself known. For there is door within door, grade behind grade, through which the glory of the Holy One is made known. Hence here "the tent door" is the door of righteousness, referred to in the words, "Open to me the gates of righteousness" (Ps. CXVIII, 19), and this is the first entrance door: through this door a view is opened to all the other supernal doors. He who succeeds in entering this door is privileged to know both it and all the other doors, since they all repose on this one. At the present time this door remains unknown because Israel is in exile; and therefore all the other doors are removed from them, so that they cannot know or commune; but when Israel return from exile, all the supernal grades are destined to rest harmoniously upon this one. Then men will obtain a knowledge of the precious supernal wisdom of which hitherto they wist not, as it is written, "And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord" (Is. XI, 2). All these are destined to rest on this lower door which is the "tent door" j all too will rest upon the Messiah in order that he may judge the world, as it is written, "But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, etc." (Ibid. 4). Thus when the good tidings were brought to Abraham, it was that grade which brought them, as we have deduced from the fact that the word vayomer (and he said) is used without a specific subject in the passage "And he said, I will certainly return unto thee when the season cometh round."

'Observe how the great love of the Almighty towards Abraham was manifested in the fact that Isaac was not born to him until he was circumcised. In this way it was made certain that his seed should be holy, according to the words of the Scripture, "wherein is the seed thereof after its kind" (Gen. I, 12). For had Abraham begotten before he was circumcised, his seed would not have been holy, as it would have issued from the state of orlah, and thus would have clung to that state here below; but after Abraham's circumcision the seed issued from the state of holiness and became attached to supernal holiness, and he begat children in the higher plane and thus became attached to his grade in the manner fitting.' R. Eleazar asked one day of his father, R. Simeon: 'In regard to the name Isaac, why did the Holy One give him that name before he came into the world, by commanding "And thou shalt call his name Isaac" (Gen. XVII, 19)?' R. Simeon answered: 'We have elsewhere stated that through Isaac fire supplanted water. For water comes from the side of Geburah (Force), and it is further required of the Levites that they should entertain that side with hymns and songs on divers instruments. Hence Isaac was joyousness, because he issued from that side and became attached to it. Observe that the word Yitzhak (Isaac) means "laughter", to wit, rejoicing because water was changed to fire and fire to water; hence he was called Isaac, and hence the Holy One called him [104a] so before he came into the world, and He announced that name to Abraham. You will see that in other cases the Holy One permitted the parents, even the mothers, to give names to their children. Here, however, the Holy One did not give permission to the mother to name the child, but only to Abraham, as it is written: "And thou shalt call his name Isaac"-thou and no other, so as to intermingle water with fire and fire with water and to range it on his side.'

Having related how Abraham was informed of the coming birth of Isaac, the Scripture proceeds: AND THE MEN ROSE UP FROM THENCE, AND LOOKED OUT TOWARD SODOM. Said R. Eleazar: 'Observe how merciful the Holy One, blessed be He, shows Himself towards all beings, and especially towards those who walk in His paths. For when He is about to execute judgement on the world, before doing so He puts in the way of His beloved the occasion of performing a good act. We have thus been taught that when the Holy One loves a man, He sends him a present in the shape of a poor man, so that he should perform some good deed to him, through the merit of which he shall draw to himself a cord of grace from the right side which shall wind round his head and imprint a mark on him, so that, when punishment falls on the world, the destroyer, raising his eyes and noticing the mark, will be careful to avoid him and leave him alone. So when the Holy One was about to execute judgement on Sodom, He first led Abraham to do a meritorious action by the present which He sent him, so as thereby to save Lot his brother's son from destruction. It is therefore written, "And God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow" (Gen. XIX, 29). It does not say that God remembered Lot, since he was saved through the merit of Abraham. What God remembered was the kindness which Abraham had shown to those three angels. Similarly, the charitable deeds which a man performs are remembered by the Holy One at the time when punishment impends upon the world, for every meritorious action is recorded on high, and when chastisement impends over that man the Holy One remembers the kindness he had performed with other men, as we read: "but charity delivereth from death" (Prov. XI, 4)' The Holy One thus afforded Abraham in advance the occasion of a good action, so that by his merit he should deliver Lot from destruction.'

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AND THEY LOOKED OUT TOWARD SODOM. This was immediately after "the men rose up from thence", that is, from the feast that Abraham had prepared for them, so performing a meritorious act. For although they were angels, his hospitality to them was a good action, since of the whole of the food offered them they left nothing over, purposely that Abraham should acquire merit thereby, as it is written, "and they did eat", the food having been consumed by their fire. It may be objected that the three angels were one of fire, one of water, and the third of air. The answer to this, however, is that they all partook of each other's essences, and hence "they did eat". Analogous to this is the passage "and they beheld God, and did eat and drink" (Ex. XXIV, 11). There it was truly eating, for they feasted themselves on the Shekinah. So here, "and they did eat" implies that they feasted themselves on that side to which Abraham was attached, and for that reason nothing remained of what Abraham put before them. For just as it behoves a man to partake of the cup of blessing (after a meal), that he merit the blessing from on high, so the angels also ate from what Abraham prepared for them that they might be privileged to feast on that which proceeds from the side of Abraham, for it is from that side that sustenance issues for all the celestial angels. AND THEY LOOKED OUT: with an impulse of mercy for the delivery of Lot. The word vayashqifu (and they looked out) here is analogous with its kindred word in "Look forth (hashqifah) from thy holy habitation" (Deut. XXVI, 15), and as there the implication is an exercise of mercy, so here. AND ABRAHAM WENT WITH THEM TO BRING THEM ON THE WAY; that is, to escort them. R Yesa said: 'This shows that Abraham was not aware that they were angels; for if he was, what need had he to see them off?' 'No,' answered R. Eleazar; 'although he knew, he kept to his usual custom with them, and saw them off. For it is highly incumbent on a man to escort a departing guest, for this crowns the good act. So whilst he was walking with them, the Holy One appeared to Abraham, as it is written, "And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that which I am doing ?" The term V- Yhvh (and the Lord) implies God with the attendance of the heavenly Court. [104b] Thus we see that, when a man escorts his departing friend, he draws the Shekinah to join him and to accompany him on the way as a protection.'

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AND THE LORD SAID, SHALL I HIDE FROM ABRAHAM THAT WHICH I AM DOING? R. Hiya quoted here the verse: For the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his counsel unto his servants the prophets (Amos III, 7). 'Happy,' he said, 'are those pious ones of the world in whom the Holy One finds delight, and whom He uses as His agents for all that He does in heaven or intends to do in this world, not hiding anything from them. For the Holy One desires to associate with Himself the righteous so that they may admonish and call the people to repentance in order that they may escape the punishment decreed by the judgement-seat on high, and, in any case, so that they should not be left with any loophole for complaining that the Holy One metes out punishment without justice.' R. Eleazar said: 'Woe to the guilty who are steeped in ignorance and refrain not from sin. Now, seeing that the Holy One, whose acts are truth and whose ways are justice, nevertheless does not execute His designs in the world before He reveals His intent to the righteous, so as not to give occasion to mankind for censuring His acts, how much more must the sons of men be on their guard so to act as not to leave any room for others to spread evil rumours against them. So it is written: "And ye shall be clean before the Lord and before Israel" (Num. XXXII, 22). It is thus incumbent on these righteous to act so that men shall not be able to complain against God, and to warn them betimes, if they are sinful, not to give an opening to the stem justice of God to descend upon them. And how are they to guard themselves? By repentance and good deeds.' R. Judah commented as follows: 'The Holy One, blessed be He, gave the whole land to Abraham [105a] as an everlasting heritage, as it is written: "For all the land which thou seest, to thee I give it, etc." (Gen. XIII, 15). That he saw the whole land is indicated in the words which precede: "lift up now thine eyes from the place where thou art, northward, etc." (Ibid. 14). And now the Holy One found it necessary to uproot those places. He therefore said to Himself: "I have already given over the land to Abraham, he thus being the father of all its inhabitants [so it is written: 'for the father of a multitude of nations have I made thee' (Gen. XVII, 5)], and so it is not fitting for me to inflict punishment on the children without first giving warning to their father, to 'Abraham my friend' (Is. XLI, 8)." Hence, AND THE LORD SAID, SHALL I HIDE FROM ABRAHAM, ETC.?' R. Abba said: 'Notice the unselfishness of Abraham. For although the Almighty notified him of the coming calamity, announcing VERILY, THE CRY OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH IS GREAT, and so on, and thus gave him a breathing-space before the final catastrophe, Abraham, nevertheless, did not plead for Lot to be delivered from the punishment. Why so? In order that it should not appear that he was asking a reward for his good deeds. But just for this reason did the Holy One send Lot forth and deliver him: it was for the sake of Abraham, as it is written, "And God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow" (Gen. XIX, 29). In the same place it mentions "the cities in which Lot dwelt" to indicate that they were all guilty, without any redeeming features, save Lot. We learn also from this that any place inhabited by wicked people is doomed to destruction. Lot dwelt only in one of these cities, not in all of them, but it was due only to his presence that they were not all destroyed before. And this, too, was not due to Lot's own merits, but to the merits of Abraham.' As to this point, R. Simeon said: 'Note that any service rendered to a righteous man procures protection for the doer. Nay more, even if he himself is sinful, yet by rendering service to a righteous man he is bound to learn some of his ways and practise them. So you see that Lot, by reason of having kept company with Abraham, although he had not adopted all his ways, had learnt to show kindness to people in imitation of Abraham, and this it was that enabled those cities to exist so many years after Lot settled among them.' [105b]

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I WILL GO DOWN AND SEE: IF IT IS ACCORDING TO THE CRY OF IT, THEN MAKE YE AN EXTERMINATION. To whom was this command addressed? It cannot be to the angels, since that would mean that God was speaking to one party (Abraham) and giving command to another (the angels), which is not usual. The explanation is that it was really addressed to Abraham, in whose jurisdiction the cities were. But then why the plural, "make ye" ('asu) instead of the singular "make thou" ('ase)? The answer is that it was addressed both to Abraham and the Shekinah, which was all the time with him. According to another interpretation the command was given to the angels, who were standing there ready at hand to do execution. According to another interpretation, again, the proper reading is 'asu (they have made), and this accords with the translation of Onqelos. It says: "I will go down and see." Are not all things revealed before the Almighty that there was need for Him to go down and see? The expression, however, "I will go down", implies descent from the grade of mercy to that of rigour, and by "and see" is meant the consideration of the kind of punishment to be meted out to them. "Seeing" in the Scriptures can be both for good and for ill. An example of the former use is: "And God saw the children of Israel, and God took cognizance of them" (Ex. II, 25); an example of the latter is "I will go down and see", i.e. to determine the mode of punishment. In regard to all this God said, "Shall I hide from Abraham, etc."

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SEEING THAT ABRAHAM WILL SURELY BECOME A GREAT AND MIGHTY NATION. How comes this blessing to be inserted here? It is to teach us that the Holy One, even when He sits in judgement on the world, does not change His nature, since whilst sitting in judgement on one He is displaying mercy to others, and all at one and the same moment. R. Judah objected that it is written: "But as for me, let my prayer be to thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time" (Ps. LXIX, 14), which would seem to show that there are with God acceptable moments and unacceptable, that at one time He grants audience, at another time He does not, that the Almighty is now accessible, now inaccessible; and this is corroborated by the verse: "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near" (Is. LV,6). In reply to this, R. Eleazar said that the verses cited apply to the prayers of an individual, whilst the lesson of our text applies to communal prayer; the former to a single locality, the latter to the world as a whole. Hence God here blessed Abraham because he was on a par with the whole world, as it is written: "These are the generations of the heaven and the earth when they were created" (Gen. II, 4), where the term behibaream (when they were created), by a transposition of letters, appears as beabraham (in Abraham). The numerical value of the letters of yihyah (will become) is thirty, which points to the traditional dictum that the Holy One provides for the world thirty righteous men in each generation in the same manner as He did for the generation of Abraham. R. Eleazar supported this from the verse: "He was more honourable than the thirty, but he attained not to the three" (II Sam. XXIII, 23). 'The thirty', he said, 'refers to the thirty righteous whom the Holy One has provided for the world without intermission; and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada of whom it is written "He was the most honourable of the thirty" was one of them. "But he attained not to the three": i.e. he was not equal to those other three [1] on whom the world subsists, neither being counted among them nor being deemed worthy to. be associated with them and to have an equal share with them. Now since there were thirty righteous in the time of Abraham, as the term yihyah indicates, therefore God blessed him in their company.'

God said to Abraham, "Verily, the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great", as much as to say: I have taken note of their behaviour towards their fellow-men, which causes all men to avoid setting foot in Sodom and Gomorrah. So it is written: "The stream made a chasm for strangers, so they are forgotten of the foot that passeth by; they are the poorest of men, they move away" (Job. XXVIII, 4). The stream divided to swallow up any stranger who ventured to enter Sodom; for if anyone was detected offering food or drink to a stranger, the people of the town would cast him into the deepest part of the river, as well as the recipient. Hence, "they are forgotten of the foot", i.e. men avoided it and never put foot into it; and as for those who happened to enter it -- "they are the poorest of men, they move away", i.e. as no food or drink was given to them, their bodies became so emaciated that they scarcely looked any more like human beings, and hence "they moved away", i.e. people passed it by on one side. Even the birds of heaven [106a] avoided it, as it is written, "that path no bird of prey knoweth" (Ibid. 7). A universal outcry therefore went up against Sodom and Gomorrah and all the other towns that behaved like them. It is written here: "According to the cry of it." Why not of them, since two cities are mentioned here? This is explained as follows. From the side underneath the Hail-Stone vapours ascend to the shoulder (of the Divine Throne), where they gather themselves into one drop, and then descend into the chasm of the great abyss. There five become merged into one. When the voices of all of them are clear they unite into one. Then a voice ascends from below and mingles with them, and the combined cry keeps on ascending and clamouring for justice, until at last the Holy One appears to investigate the accusation. Hence R. Simeon says that the "it" here refers to the sentence of judgement, which demands execution day by day. This conforms with the tradition that for many years the sentence of judgement continued to demand reparation for the sale of Joseph by his brethren. Hence here also her cry went up for justice, and therefore it is written, "according to the cry of her". The word which follows, hahhaah (which is come), really means "which is coming", i.e. coming continually.

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

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Part 2 of 3

AND ABRAHAM DREW NEAR, AND SAID: WILT THOU INDEED SWEEP AWAY THE RIGHTEOUS WITH THE WICKED? R. Judah said: 'Was there ever seen such a merciful father as Abraham? Observe that in regard to Noah it is written, "And God said to Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me ... Make thee an ark of gopher wood" (Gen. VI, 13-14), but Noah remained silent: he said nothing, nor did he beseech for mercy (for his fellow-men). Abraham, on the contrary, as soon as the Holy One made announcement to him, "Verily, the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, ... I will go down and see, etc.", immediately "drew near, and said: Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?"' Said R. Eleazar: 'Even Abraham's action is not beyond cavil. He was, indeed, better than Noah, who did nothing, whereas he pleaded earnestly for the righteous that they should not perish with the guilty, beginning his plea with the number of fifty righteous and descending to ten; then, however, he stopped, without completing his prayer for mercy for all, saying, as it were, "I do not wish to draw upon the recompense due to me for my good deeds." The perfect example is given by Moses, who as soon as the Holy One said to him, "they have turned aside quickly out of the way ... they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it" (Ex. XXXII, 8), straightway "besought the Lord his God, etc." (Ibid. 11), concluding with the words "and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written" (Ibid. 32). And although the whole people had sinned, he did not stir from his place until God said: "I have pardoned according to thy word." Abraham was inferior in that respect, since he only asked for mercy in the event that there should be found righteous men, but not otherwise. Thus there never was a man who was so' sure a bulwark to his generation as Moses, the "faithful shepherd".'

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AND ABRAHAM DREW NEAR, that is, he made ready to plead. AND SAID: PERADVENTURE THERE ARE FIFTY RIGHTEOUS WITHIN THE CITY. Abraham began with the number fifty, which is the entrance to understanding, and ended with ten, which number is the last of all the grades. R. Isaac said: 'Abraham stopped at ten as the number symbolic of the ten days of Penitence between New-Year and the Day of Atonement. Reaching that number, Abraham said, as it were. "After this there is no more room for penitence", and therefore he did not descend further.'

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AND THE TWO ANGELS CAME TO SODOM AT EVEN. ETC. R. Jose pointed out that the preceding verse, "And the Lord went his way as soon as [Io6h] he had left off speaking to Abraham", indicates that only when the Shekinah departed from Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place, did "the two angels come to Sodom at eve". (It says "two". because one of the angels departed with the Shekinah, leaving only two.) As soon as Lot saw them he ran after them. Why so? Did Lot, then, take into his house all wayfarers and offer them food and drink? Would not the townspeople have killed him, and meted out to him the same treatment as they did to his daughter? (For Lot's daughter once offered a piece of bread to a poor man, and when it was found out, the people of the town covered her body with honey, and left her thus exposed on the top of a roof until she was consumed by wasps.) The angels, however, came in the night, so that Lot thought that the townspeople would not notice it. Nevertheless, as soon as the visitors entered his house all the people assembled and surrounded the house.' R. Isaac put the question, "Why did Lot run after them?" R. Hizkiah and R. Yesa each gave an answer. One said that it was because he observed in them a likeness to Abraham; and the other, because he noticed the Shekinah hovering over them. This view is supported by the fact that of Abraham also it is written, "And he ran to meet them from the tent door", and the words there are taken to mean that Abraham saw the Shekinah.

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AND LOT SAW AND RAN TO MEET THEM ... AND HE SAID, BEHOLD NOW, MY LORDS, TURN ASIDE, I PRAY YOU. The expression "turn aside", instead of "draw near", implies that he took them by a roundabout way, so that the people of the town should not see them. R. Hizkiah here discoursed on the verse: For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven (Job XXVIII, 24). 'How incumbent it is', he said, 'upon the sons of men to contemplate the works of the Almighty and to busy themselves in the study of the Torah day and night, for through him who thus busies himself the Almighty is glorified on high and below. The Torah indeed is a tree of life for all those who occupy themselves with it, affording them life in this world and [107a] in the world to come. "For he looketh to the end of the land", to give them food and to satisfy all their needs; for He continually holds it under His eye, as it is written. "The eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year" (Deut. XI, 12). This is, again, the land of which it is written, "she bringeth her food from afar" (Prov. XXXI, 14), and then she provides food and sustenance for all those "beasts of the field", for so it is written, "she riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household and a portion to her maidens" (Ibid. 15). It is further written: "Thou openest thy hand, and satisfiest every living thing with favour" (Ps. CXLV, 16). According to another interpretation, "He looketh to the ends of the earth" so as to survey the works of each man and to examine the doings of mankind throughout the world: "and seeth under the whole heaven", i.e. He scans and scrutinises each individual. Thus when the Holy One saw the works of Sodom and Gomorrah, He sent upon them those angels to destroy them.' Thereupon, as it is written, "Lot saw," to wit, the Shekinah. Not that anyone can see the Shekinah really, but he saw a resplendent halo about their heads, and therefore we read: "And he said, Behold now, my lords (Adonay)", as has been already explained, and it was on account of the halo, the reflection of the Shekinah, that he said, "turn aside, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet". This was not the way that Abraham acted. For he first said: "wash your feet", and then: "and I will fetch a morsel of bread, etc." Lot, however, first said, "turn aside, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night", and then he said, AND WASH YOUR FEET AND YE SHALL RISE UP EARLY, AND GO ON YOUR WAY. His object was that the people should not become aware of their presence. AND THEY SAID, NAY, BUT WE WILL ABIDE IN THE BROAD PLACE ALL NIGHT, that being the custom for visitors to those cities, as no one would take them into his house. The verse proceeds: AND HE URGED THEM GREATLY. When the Holy One is about to execute judgement in the world, He sends one messenger for this purpose. Why, then, have we here two messengers, where one would have sufficed? The truth is that of the two angels one came to rescue Lot, and so only one was left to overthrow the city and destroy the soil.

THEN THE LORD CAUSED TO RAIN UPON SODOM AND UPON GOMORRAH, ETC. R. Hiya opened his discourse on this with the verse: Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel, etc. (Is. XIII, 9)' He said: 'The words "Behold, the day of the Lord cometh" refer to the lower Court. The term "cometh" has thus the same force as in the passage, "according to her cry which is come upon me", both implying that the lower power cannot execute judgement until it comes and appears on high and receives authorisation. So, too, in the verse, "the end of all flesh is come before me". According to another interpretation, "behold the day of the Lord cometh" refers to the destroying angel here below when he comes to take the soul of man. Hence "cruel, and full of wrath and fierce anger, to make the earth a desolation", referring to Sodom and Gomorrah; "and to destroy the sinners thereof [197b] out of it" (Ibid.), referring to the inhabitants of those cities. Immediately after we read, "For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof, etc.", for He caused to rain upon them fire from heaven and exterminated them. Further on it is written: "I will make man more rare than fine gold, etc." (Ibid. 12), referring to Abraham, whom the Holy One exalted over all the peoples of the world.' R. Judah interpreted these verses as referring to the day on which the Temple was destroyed, as on that day both men and angels were plunged into gloom and the supernal and the lower realms and the heaven and the stars were darkened. R. Eleazar, again, interpreted these verses as referring to the day when the Holy One will raise the community of Israel from the dust. That day will be a day of note both above and below, as it is written, "and there shall be one day, which shall be known as the Lord's" (Zech. XIV, 7); that day will be the day of vengeance, the day which the Holy One, blessed be He, has appointed for taking vengeance on the idolatrous nations. For whilst the Holy One is taking vengeance on the idolatrous nations, He "will make a man more precious than gold", to wit, the Messiah, who will be raised and glorified above all mankind, and to whom all mankind will pay homage and bow down, as it is written, "Before him those that dwell in the wilderness will bow down ... the Kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall render tribute" (Ps. LXXII, 9-10). Observe that although this prophecy (in the book of Isaiah) was primarily intended for Babylonia, yet it has a general application, since this section commences with the words, "When the Lord shall have mercy on Jacob", and it is also written, "And peoples shall take them and bring them to their place."

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AND THE LORD CAUSED TO RAIN UPON SODOM. The term V'-Yhvh (and the Lord) signifies the grade of the lower Court which requires authorisation from on high. R. Isaac said that God showed mercy in the midst of punishment, as it is written, "from Yhvh (the Lord) out of heaven". The exercise of mercy is recorded in the words: AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN GOD DESTROYED THE CITIES OF THE PLAIN, THAT GOD REMEMBERED ABRAHAM, AND SENT LOT OUT, ETC., from whom in course of time issued two entire nations, and who was destined to have among his descendants King David and King Solomon. AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN THEY HAD BROUGHT THEM FORTH ABROAD, THAT HE SAID, ETC. This is another proof that when punishment overtakes the world a man should not-as has already been said -- let himself be found abroad, since the executioner does not distinguish between the innocent and the guilty. For this reason, as has been explained, Noah shut himself in in the ark so as not to look out on the world at the time when judgement was executed. So also it is written, "And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning" (Ex. XII, 22). Hence the angel said to Lot, ESCAPE FOR THY LIFE, LOOK NOT BEHIND THEE, ETC. R. Isaac and R. Judah were once walking on the road together. The latter remarked: 'Both the punishment of the Flood and the punishment of Sodom were of the kinds meted out in Gehinnom, where sinners are punished by water and by fire.' R. Isaac said: 'That Sodom suffered the punishment of Gehinnom is shown by the words of the Scripture, "And the Lord caused to rain upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven", the former proceeding from the side of water and the latter from the side of fire, both being punishments of Gehinnom inflicted upon sinners there.' R. Judah then said to him: 'The punishment of sinners in Gehinnom lasts twelve months, after which the Holy One raises them out of Gehinnom, where they have undergone purification. They remain then sitting at the gate of Gehinnom, and when they see sinners enter there to be punished, they beseech mercy for them. In time the Holy One takes pity on them and causes them to be brought to a certain place reserved for them. From that day onward the body rests in the dust and the soul is accorded [108a] her proper place. Observe that, as has been stated, even the generation of the Flood were punished with nothing else but with fire and water: cold water descended from above, whilst seething water bubbled up from below mingled with fire. They thus underwent the two punishments regularly meted out from on high; and so was Sodom also punished, namely, by brimstone and fire.' R. Isaac asked him: 'Will the generation of the Flood arise on the Day of Judgement?' R. Judah said: 'That question has already been discussed elsewhere; as regards the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, we can say that they will not arise. This is proved from the words of the Scripture, "and the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and a burning that is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah ... which the Lord overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath" (Deut. XXIX, 22), where the words "which the Lord overthrew" refer to this world, and the words "in his anger" to the world to come, while the words, "and in his wrath" refer to the time when the Holy One will bring the dead to life.' R. Isaac then said to him: 'Observe that just as the soil of their land was destroyed to all eternity, so were the inhabitants themselves destroyed to all eternity. And observe further how the justice of the Holy One metes out measure for measure: as they did not quicken the soul of the poor with food or drink, just so will the Holy One not restore them their souls in the world to come. And further, just as they neglected the exercise of charity which is called life, so has the Holy One withholden from them life in this world and in the world to come. And as they closed their roads and paths to their fellow-men, so has the Holy One closed to them the roads and paths of mercy in this world and in the world to come.' R. Abba said: 'All men will rise up from the dead and will appear for judgement. Of these it is written, "and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence" (Dan. XII, 2). God, however, is the fountain of mercy, and since He punished them in this world and they suffered for their sins, they have no longer to suffer all the punishments of the next world.'

R. Hiya said: 'It is written: "And he sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt." The expression "the cities in which Lot dwelt" indicates that he tried to settle in each of the cities in turn, but none would keep him save Sodom, the king of which allowed him residence [lo8b] for the sake of Abraham. This is borne out by the passage, "and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain, and moved his tent as far as Sodom" (Gen. XIII. 12). BUT HIS WIFE LOOKED BACK FROM BEHIND HIM. We should have expected "from behind her". It means, however, "From behind the Shekinah". R. Jose said that it means "from behind Lot", as the destroying angel followed him. How, it may be asked, could he follow him, seeing that he had sent him away? The fact is that the angel kept behind Lot, destroying on the way, but he did not touch any spot till Lot had passed it. Hence he said, "look not behind thee", implying "for behind thee I am doing my work of destruction". But his wife looked back from behind him, thus turning her face to the destroying angel, and she became a pillar of salt; for as long as the destroying angel does not see the face of a man he does not harm him; but as soon as Lot's wife turned her face to look at him she became a pillar of salt.'

R. Eleazar and R. Jose were one day studying the verse: "A land which in it thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, which in it thou shalt not lack anything" (Deut. VIII, 9). Said R. Eleazar: 'The repetition of the term bah (in it) is to be noted. The reason is, as has been stated, that the Holy One has assigned all nations and countries to (celestial) chieftains and envoys, with the exception of the Land of Israel, which is under the governance of no angel or chieftain, but only under that of God Himself. For this reason He brought the people who have no ruler save Him into the land which has no ruler save Him. For the Holy One provides sustenance there first, and only then to the rest of the world. All the idolatrous nations suffer scarceness, but not so the Land of Israel: the Land of Israel receives the first supply, the residue being left for the rest of the world. Hence "A land which in it thou shalt eat bread without scarceness", and in a rich abundance: "in it" but in no other place; in it is the home of true faith and on it rests the heavenly blessing. Hence it is said that Sodom and Gomorrah were "like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt" (Gen. XIII, 10), [109a] that is, possessing luxurious abundance. So was Egypt also: as the garden of the Lord does not need to be watered by man, neither did Egypt, being amply supplied 'by the river Nile, which periodically rises and irrigates the whole land. The Scripture says in one place that "it shall be, that whoso of the families of the earth goes not unto Jerusalem ... upon them there shall be no rain" (Zech. XIV,17), i.e. as a punishment; but the passage continues: "And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not ... there shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite the nations" (Ibid. 18). Observe that it is not written "upon them there shall be no rain", for the reason, that it never rains in Egypt, nor is there any need of rain there: hence, their punishment will be "the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the nations". Similarly of Sodom it is written that "it was well watered everywhere" (Gen. XIII, 10); it possessed all the luxuries of the world, and its inhabitants were unwilling that other people should share them.' R. Hiya said: 'They deserved punishment both for their immorality and their uncharitableness. For whoever grudges assistance to the poor does not deserve to exist in this world, and he also forfeits the life of the world to come. Contrariwise, whoever is generous towards the poor deserves to exist in the world, and it is for his sake that the world exists, and the fulness of life is reserved for him in the world to come.'

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AND LOT WENT UP OUT OF ZOAR, AND DWELT IN THE MOUNTAIN, AND HIS TWO DAUGHTERS WITH HIM, ETC. For what reason? Because Zoar was too near Sodom: hence he moved away further. R. Isaac discoursed on 'he verse: And they are turned round about by his devices, according to their work, etc. (Job XXXVII, 12). 'This means', he said, 'that the Holy One, blessed be He, constantly turns the wheel of events, bringing hidden things to the top, and then again giving another turn and shaping things differently; and thus "by his devices" He is ever scheming and planning how to effect the change, and make a new pattern. [109b] All is "according to their work", i.e. the variation takes place in accordance to the works and deeds of man. The verse continues: "according as he commandeth them upon the face of the habitable world", that is, it is in accordance with man's works that God shapes the course of events, in all that He ordains on the face of the world.' R. Eleazar interpreted the words "and they are turned round about by His devices", in the following manner. 'The Holy One guides the course of events so as to bring to pass a seemingly stable state of things; but when the sons of men imagine that all before them is fixed and firmly established, then the Holy One turns His works into something altogether different from their former state. Further,' he said, 'we may translate not "devices", but "device", i.e. "instrument", and compare God to a potter who, in turning his wheel, constantly fashions new vessels according to his fancy. So is the Holy One constantly reshaping His works, the instrument which constitutes His potter's wheel, so to speak, being the lower world Judgement Court. And all is done in accordance with man's works. If they are good, the wheel revolves to the right, making the course of events highly favourable to them; and however long the wheel revolves, punishment never settles on that side. Should men, however, turn to evil ways [110a] the Holy One imparts to His device a spin to the left, and all things now take a direction to the left, and the wheel gives to events a course unfavourable to the sons of men. So it goes on until they become penitent and retrace their evil ways. But the motive power of the wheel is centred in the works of man; hence the phrase, "by His device, according to their work", there being no permanency. In this case too God manipulated events so as to attain a certain end, and all that happened had its roots in the supernal sphere. God had brought Abraham near to Him, and there issued from him Ishmael. Ishmael was born before Abraham was circumcised, that is, before he was made perfect through the sign of the holy covenant. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, so devised that Abraham circumcised himself and entered the covenant and acquired his complete name of Abraham, and was crowned by the supernal he with the symbolical issuing of water from wind. As soon as the symbolism was completed and Abraham was circumcised, there issued from him Isaac, who was the holy seed and who was attached to the supernal spheres as symbolising fire from water, and who was not in any way linked to the "other side". From Lot, again, and from his daughters there came forth two disparate nations who became attached to the side appropriate to them. We see here, again, how the Almighty contrives [Hob] the course of things, turning them about so that everything should fit into the general scheme and fall into its proper place. For observe that it would have been more fitting for Lot that the Holy One should have produced these: two nations from his union with his wife. It was, however, necessary that these nations should be attached to their predestined place, and for this wine had to play its part; and wine, indeed, was found ready at hand in that cavern. The mystical part played by wine here is similar to that regarding which we read, "and he drank of the wine, and was drunken" (Gen. IX, 21), as has already been explained elsewhere.

In regard to the names Moab and Ammon, R. Jose made the following comment. 'The first-born daughter was boldfaced enough to call her son "Moab", thereby proclaiming that he was meab, i.e. the issue of her own father; whereas THE YOUNGER SHE ALSO BORE A SON, AND CALLED HIS NAME BEN-AMMI: the mother out of delicacy gave him that name which being interpreted simply means "a son of my people", without betraying who his father was. Further, the words AND HE KNEW NOT WHEN SHE LAY DOWN, NOR WHEN SHE AROSE, occur twice in this passage, first in reference to the younger daughter, and then in reference to the elder. In the former case the word b'qumah (when she arose) occurring in it is written plene, i.e. with the letter vau, which, moreover, is provided with a dot; this is to signify that heaven, as it were, was an accomplice to the act which ultimately was to bring about the birth of the Messiah. Contrariwise, the similar word in reference to the younger one is written defectively, without the letter vau, for the reason that none of her issue had any part in the Holy One, blessed be He.' R. Simeon said: 'The underlying meaning of the words "and he knew not" is that he was unaware that the Holy One intended to raise from her King David and Solomon and all the other kings and, finally, the Messiah.' R. Simeon said further: 'The expression "when she arose" has its counterpart in the words used by Ruth, "and she rose up before one could discern another" (Ruth III, 14.). For it was on that day that Lot's daughter could be said to have risen to the height of her destiny in that [111a] Boaz became attached to one of her lineage in order "to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance", by means of which there were raised from her all those kings and the elect of Israel. Again, "And he knew not when she lay down" has its counterpart in the verse, "and she lay at his feet until the morning" (Ibid.).

'Observe the restraint of Abraham in not beseeching grace on behalf of Lot, even when the Holy One at first announced to him His determination to execute punishment on Sodom; nor after he BEHELD, AND, LO, THE SMOKE OF THE LAND WENT UP AS THE SMOKE OF A FURNACE did he intercede for Lot, or address to the Holy One any word about him. Neither did the Holy One mention this subject to Abraham, in order that the latter should not think that God had used up some of his merit in order to save Lot. It cannot be said that Lot was of no account in the eyes of Abraham, seeing that Abraham risked his life on his behalf in waging war against five powerful kings. But because of his love for the Almighty and, in addition, because he saw that Lot's conduct fell far short of the proper standard, Abraham did not plead that any indulgence should be shown to Lot for his sake. This is the reason why Abraham did not intercede on behalf of Lot either at the beginning or at the end.'

AND ABRAHAM JOURNEYED FROM THENCE TOWARD THE LAND OF THE SOUTH. All his journeyings were toward the side of the South, [111b] which he preferred to the other sides, in that it is the side of Wisdom. AND ABRAHAM SAID OF SARAH, HIS WIFE, SHE IS MY SISTER. It is a dictum of our teachers that a man should not rely on miracles, and even if the Holy One, blessed be He, has once performed a miracle for him he should not count on it another time, for miracles do not happen every day. And whoever runs into obvious danger may thereby exhaust all his merit previously accumulated. This has been made clear in explanation of the verse, "I am not worthy of all the mercies, and of all the truth, etc." (Gen. XXXII, 11). Now, seeing that Abraham had already had once a miraculous deliverance when he journeyed into Egypt, why did he put himself now again into a similar difficulty by saying "she is my sister"? The answer is that Abraham did in no way rely on himself, but he saw the Shekinah constantly in the abode of Sarah, and that emboldened him to declare "she is my sister", in the sense of the verse "Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister" (Prov. VII, 4).

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AND GOD CAME TO ABIMELECH, ETC. Can that be? Does, then, the Holy One, blessed be He, come to the wicked? The same question is raised by the words, "and God came unto Balaam" (Num. XXII, 9), and again, "and God came to Laban" (Gen. XXXI, 24). In all these cases, however, it was, in fact, only a heavenly messenger who was dispatched to them, and who in executing their message assumed that divine name (Elohim), since they were emissaries of justice. Hence: AND GOD CAME TO ABIMELECH IN A DREAM OF THE NIGHT, AND SAID TO HIM, BEHOLD, THOU SHALT DIE BECAUSE OF THE WOMAN WHOM THOU HAST TAKEN, ETC. R. Simeon here discoursed on the verse: The lip of truth shall be established for ever,' but a lying tongue is but for a moment (Prov. XII, 19). 'The first part of the verse,' he said, 'alludes to Abraham, whose words on every occasion were truth; and the other part of the verse is an allusion to Abimelech. Twice Abraham said of Sarah, "she is my sister". On the first occasion he referred to the Shekinah, who was constantly with Sarah, and as Abraham [112a] was of the right side he could indeed say of the Shekinah "she is my sister", using the term in the same mystic sense as in the verse, "my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled" (S. S. v, 2). Abraham always called her "sister" because he was attached to her inseparably. Later he said: "And moreover she is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother." Was it really so? In truth he was alluding all the time to the Shekinah. At first he said, "she is my sister" in conformity with the admonition, "Say to wisdom, Thou art my sister." Then he amplified this by saying "moreover she is my sister, the daughter of my father", i.e. the daughter of Supernal Wisdom, for which reason she is called "my sister" and also Wisdom -- "but not the daughter of my mother" -- i.e. from the place where is the origin of all, most hidden and recondite. "And so she became my wife", i.e. by way of fondness and affection, in the sense of the verse "and his right hand embrace me" (S. S. 11, 6). Thus all his words contained mystic allusions. Observe that on the first occasion, when they went down to Egypt, he called her "my sister" in order to cleave all the more firmly to the true faith, and not to be led astray after outer grades; similarly now he continued to declare "she is my sister" because he had not deviated from the true faith. For Abimelech and all the inhabitants of the land followed strange worship, and therefore Abraham, entering there, made bold to say "my sister", claiming thereby the same indissoluble kinship as between brother and sister. For the marital bond can be dissolved, but not that between brother and sister. So whereas all the people of that land were addicted to the worship of the stars and constellations, Abraham, the true believer, avowed "she is my sister", as much as to say, "We two will never separate." We can apply here the words, "and for his sister a virgin" (Lev. XXI, 3), which were spoken of the priest, but esoterically signify the abode where Abraham reposes. It is written: The Lord thy God thou shalt fear; him shalt thou serve; and to him shalt thou cleave, and by his name shalt thou swear (Deut. X, 20). The accusative particle eth [112b] points to the first grade, the region of the fear of God, and hence "thou shalt fear", for there a man must fear his master, it being the Court of Justice. The words "him shalt thou serve" point to a higher grade which rests upon the lower grade, the two being inseparable. This is the place of the holy covenant, the object of service. "And to him shalt thou cleave" refers to the region of complete union, to wit, the body which rests in the centre; "and by his name shalt thou swear" refers to the seventh of the grades. Abraham, therefore, clave to the true faith when he went down into Egypt and also when he went to the land of the Philistines. He was like a man who wanted to go down into a deep pit but was afraid he would not be able to come up again. He therefore fastened a rope above the pit, and having thus assured his ascent, he went down. In the same way Abraham, when he was about to go down to Egypt, first secured his faith firmly, and thus having something to hold by he went down there i and he did the same when he went into the land of the Philistines. "The lip of truth", then, "is established for ever; but a lying tongue is but for a moment", the "lying tongue" referring to Ahimelech, who said, IN THE SIMPLICITY OF MY HEART AND THE INNOCENCY OF MY HANDS HAVE I DONE THIS. But what was the reply he received? YEA, I KNOW THAT IN THE SIMPLICITY OF THY HEART THOU HAST DONE THIS, but no mention was made of innocency of hands. Now THEREFORE RESTORE THE MAN'S WIFE, FOR HE IS A PROPHET.'

R. Judah discoursed on the verse: He guardeth the feet of his pious ones, etc. (I Sam. 11, 9). '"His pious one",' he said 'is Abraham, whom God constantly kept under watchful care, whilst the word "feet" is an allusion to his wife, with whom God sent the Shekinah to guard her. According to another interpretation, the Holy One continually accompanied Abraham so that no one should do him any harm. "But the wicked shall be put to silence by the darkness" (Ibid.). These are the kings whom the Holy One had slain on that night when Abraham pursued them; the night, as it were, united with darkness to slay them, so that while it was Abraham who pursued, it was the darkness that killed. So it is written: "And he divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and he smote them" (Gen. XIV, IS). By "dividing" is here meant that the Holy One separated His attribute of mercy from that of justice in order to avenge Abraham. Instead of "and he smote them" we should have expected "and they smote them". But this is again a reference to the Holy One, "for man prevaileth not by strength", seeing that only Abraham and Eliezer were there.' R. Isaac put the question: 'Have we not been taught that a man should not court danger, in reliance on a miracle? And was not Abraham putting himself into extreme danger in pursuing the five kings and engaging in battle against them ?' R. Judah replied: 'Abraham did not set out with the intention of joining battle, nor did he count upon a miracle. What impelled him to leave his house was the distress of Lot, whom he resolved to ransom, taking money with him for this purpose, and being prepared, in case he should not succeed, to die with him in captivity. But as soon as he set out he saw the Shekinah illumining the way before him, and hosts of angels encompassing him. Then it was that he began to pursue them, whilst the Holy One slew them. Hence the verge: "and the wicked are put to silence in darkness" (I Sam. 11, 9).' R. Simeon said: 'The mystical interpretation of the verse is as follows: "He guardeth the feet of his pious ones" ; this refers to Abraham. But when Abraham set out Isaac joined him and so the enemies fell before him. But had nut Isaac been associated with Abraham, they would not have been exterminated. So it is written: "But the wicked shall be put to silence in darkness, for man prevaileth not by strength", indicating that although strength reside" always in the right side, if not for the help of the left side (darkness), the opponents could not be overcome.' According to another interpretation, "He guardeth the feet of his pious ones" signifies that when a man truly loves God, then God reciprocates his love in all his doings and guards him in all his ways, as it is written, "The Lord shall guard thy going out and thy coming in, from this time forth and for ever" (Ps. CXXI, 8). Observe how assiduous Abraham was in his love towards the Holy One; for wherever he went he had no regard whatever for himself [113a] and sought only to cleave to the Almighty. Hence God guarded the feet of "his pious ones", the term "feet" referring to Abraham's wife, in regard to whom it is written, "Now Abimelech had not come near her", also "Therefore suffered I thee not to touch her." We find also written in the case of Pharaoh, "And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues at the word of Sarai" (Gen. XII, 17), implying that she, as it were, gave out the order and the Holy One administered the blows. Thus "He guardeth the feet of his pious ones." "But the wicked shall be put to silence in darkness": these are Pharaoh and Aoimelech, to whom the Holy One administered punishment by night, while the words "For not by strength shall man prevail" refer to Abraham, on whose behalf God said, "Now therefore restore the man's wife, etc."'

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AND THE LORD REMEMBERED SARAH AS HE HAD SAID, ETC. R. Hiya discoursed on the verse: And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him (Zech. III, 1). 'This verse,' he said, 'must be carefully pondered. "Joshua the high priest" is Joshua the son of Jehozedek; "the angel of the Lord" before whom he was standing is the region of the "bundle of the souls" of the righteous, which is known as "the angel of the Lord"; "Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him" is the evil tempter who roams to and fro through the world to snatch up souls and to lure beings to perdition, angels as well as human beings. Joshua had been cast by Nebuchadnezzar into the fire, along with the false prophets; and that was the moment seized by Satan to bring accusations against him on high ill order that he should be burnt along with them. For this is the way of the Satan, to reserve his indictment for the hour of danger, or for a time when the world is in distress. At such a time he has authority both to accuse and to punish even without justice, as it says: "But there is that is swept away without a just cause" (Prov. XIII, 23). Satan then was standing "to accuse him", to wit, to plead that either they should all be delivered or all burnt in the fire. For when the angel of destruction obtains authorisation to destroy, he does not discriminate between innocent and guilty. It is for this reason that when punishment falls upon a town a man should flee from thence before he is overtaken. Here it was all the easier for the Satan, as the three were already joined as one in the fiery furnace, and he could thus demand a single treatment for them all, either to be burnt or to be saved. For a miracle is not performed [113b] in halves, delivering half and leaving half to be destroyed. but the whole is either miraculously saved or left to its doom.' Said R. Jose to him: 'Is it really so? Did not God divide the Red Sea for the Israelites so that they could pass on dry land. while the same waters swept round on the Egyptians and drowned them, so that here you have a miraculous deliverance and a divine punishment at one and the same point?' R. Hiya replied: 'This was precisely why the miracle of the Red Sea presented such difficulties to the Almighty. For when God does punish and miraculously deliver at the same time, it is usually not in the same place or the same house. If that does happen it constitutes a heavy task for Him. On the same principle the Holy One does not punish the guilty until the measure of their guilt is full, as it is written, "for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full" (Gen. xv, 16), and again. "in full measure, when thou sendest her away. thou dost contend with her" (Is. XXVII, 8). Satan, therefore, demanded that Joshua should be burnt along with the others, until he said to him, "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan" (Zech. III, 2). Who said this? It was the angel of the Lord. The text, it is true, runs: "The Lord said to Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan." But observe that regarding Moses at the bush it is also written: "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire" (Ex. III, 2), whilst a little later it is written, "And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see" (Ibid. 4). The truth is that sometimes the Scripture says "the angel of the Lord", sometimes simply "the angel", and sometimes again "the Lord". Hence here also it is written, "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan," and not: "Behold, I rebuke thee." So whenever the Holy One sits on the Throne of Judgement to judge the world, Satan, the seducer of men and angels, is at hand to do mischief and to snatch up souls.'

R. Simeon was one day in the course of his studies examining the verse, "And the elders of that city shall take a heifer of the herd ... and shall break the heifer's neck there in the valley" (Deut. XXI, 3-4). 'According to the law,' he said, 'the neck must be broken with a hatchet.' Said to him R. Eleazar: 'What is the need of all this ?' R. Simeon then wept and said: 'Woe to the world which has been lured after this one. For from the day that the evil [114a] serpent, having enticed Adam, obtained dominion over man and over the world, he has ever been at work seducing people from the right path, nor will the world cease to suffer from his machinations until the Messiah shall come, when the Holy One will raise to life those who sleep in the dust in accordance with the verse, "He will swallow up death for ever, etc." (Is. xxv, 8), and the verse, "And I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land" (Zech. XIII, 2). Meanwhile Satan dominates this world and snatches up the souls of the sons of men. Observe now the passage: "If one be found slain in the land, etc." (Deut. XXI, 1-9). Ordinarily it is through the angel of death that the souls of men pass out of their bodies, but with that man it was not so, but he that slew him made his soul depart from him before the time came for the angel of death to gather him in. Hence it is written: "And no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it" (Num. XXXV, 33). Is it not enough for the world that Satan should be continually on the watch to lead men astray and to formulate accusations against them, that one must needs increase his fury by depriving him of what is his due? But the Holy One is merciful towards His children, and so provided the offering of a calf as reparation for the soul of which Satan was deprived and as a means of pacifying the world's accuser. Herein is involved a deep mystery. The offerings of the ox, the cow, the calf, the heifer have all a deep mystical significance, and therefore we make reparation to him in the way mentioned in the text. Hence the declaration, "Our hands have not shed this blood, etc." (Deut. XXI, 7) -- they have not shed this blood, and we have not caused his death; and by this means the accuser is ·thereby kept at a distance. All this constitutes good counsel given by the Holy One to the world. Observe that the same applies to New Year Day and to the Day of Atonement. That is the time when the world is on trial and Satan brings his accusations. Hence it is needful for Israel to give a blast on the trumpet and to emit a sound which is a compound of fire, water, and air; that sound ascends to the place of the Throne of Judgement, where the Court of Justice is sitting, and impinges on it and ascends further. As soon as the sound arrives from beneath, the voice of Jacob is reinforced on high, and the Holy One, blessed be He, [114b] is stirred to mercy. For corresponding to the sound uniting fire, water, and air, which Israel emits here below, there goes forth a blast from on high. Through the two blasts, the one on high and the other below, the world is fortified and mercy prevails. The accuser then, who thought to prevail in judgement and to obtain sentence on the world, becomes confounded; his strength fails and he is unable to achieve anything. The Holy One then, sitting in judgement, joins mercy to justice, and so the world is judged by mercy, and not rigorously. Observe the verse: "Blow the horn at the new moon, at the time of its covering for our feast day" (Ps. LXXXI, 4). The word ba-keseh (at the covering) means the time when the moon is invisible. For at that time the evil serpent is in power and is able to do hurt to the world. But when mercy is aroused, the moon ascends and is removed from that place, and so the evil serpent is confounded, loses his power and is unable to approach there. Hence on New Year Day it is necessary to confound him, so that he should be like one awakening from sleep and still half-conscious. Again, on the Day of Atonement it is requisite to pacify and propitiate him by means of the scapegoat which is brought to him, whereby he is induced to undertake the defence of Israel. But on New Year Day he becomes confused, and is unable to do anything. He sees the stirring of mercy ascending from below, the awakening of mercy on high, and the moon between them, and he is thereby confounded, and remains bewildered and powerless, and so the Holy One dispenses His judgement to Israel in a spirit of mercy, and accords them as a time of grace those ten days between New Year Day and the Day of Atonement, for the acceptance of all those who repent of their sins and for forgiveness of their iniquities, by giving them a respite till the Day of Atonement. The Holy One had thus given Israel all these commandments to save them from falling into the wrong hands and from being judged with rigour, so that they should all come out innocent on earth, [115a] through His mercy which is like the mercy of a father towards his children. All depends on actions and words, as we have explained.'

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AND THE LORD VISITED SARAH AS HE HAD SAID: thus fulfilling the words, "I will certainly return unto thee when the season cometh round; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son" (Gen. XVIII, 10). A tradition teaches us that the term paqad (visited) is written in connection with women, and the term zakhar (remembered) in connection with men. Hence here it is written "And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said." The expression "as he had said" proves that the words "and he said", in the passage in Gen. XVIII, 10, refer to the Lord Himself, and no messenger. AND THE LORD DID UNTO SARAH AS HE HAD SPOKEN. Since the text has already said, "and the Lord visited Sarah", what need is there to add, "and he did unto Sarah"? The reason is this. It is one of our doctrines that the "fruit of the handiwork" of the Almighty springs from that river which flows forth ftom Eden. This "fruit of God's handiwork" is the souls of the righteous, and it is also the allotment (mazzal) [2] from which flow all good fortune and rains of blessing, as it is written, "to water the garden" (Gen. II, 10), that is, to cause the stream to flow from on high and irrigate and fertilise the world below. For mankind depends on that allotment and not on any other source. Hence, besides "visiting" Sarah, God also "did" something in the region on high, since everything depends on that. Hence the two stages of "visiting" and "doing", with the name of "the Lord" mentioned with each, the whole forming one process.'

R. Eleazar discoursed on the verse: Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward (Ps. CXXVII, 3). 'The meaning', he said, 'is that children confer on a man the heritage of the Lord, by which he attaches himself to the Lord to all time. For the man who is privileged to have children in this world will through them be worthy to enter "behind the partition" in the world to come; and by leaving a son in this world a man's merits are enhanced in the world to come, and through him he enters into the "heritage of the Lord". What is the "heritage of the Lord"? It is the "land of the living", a name by which the Land of Israel is called, as is proved from the words of King David, "for they have driven me out this day that I should not cleave unto the heritage of the Lord, saying, Go serve other gods" (I Sam. XXVI, 19). Hence: "Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord", [115b] that is, it is children who make a man worthy of the heritage of the Lord. "The fruit of the womb is a reward" refers to reward in the next world, for by the fruit of the womb a man merits the world to come. Again, "a heritage of the Lord are children", that is, the heritage of the fruit of the works of the Holy One is from above, from the tree of life, for it is from thence that a man is blessed with children, as we read, "From me is thy fruit found" (Hos. XIV, 9). "Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them; they shall not be put to shame, etc." (Ps. CXXVII, 5): happy in this world and happy in the world to come. "They will not be put to shame when they speak with their enemies in the gate" : who are the "enemies in the gate"? They are the accusing angels. For when a man departs from this world, there are numbers of such accusing angels who try to block his way and prevent him from reaching his place. But he passes through "the gate" because he has left hostages in this world by virtue of whom he is found worthy of a place in the next world. Thus, "they shall not be put to shame when they speak with their enemies in the gate".'

R. Judah and R. Jose were walking on the road. Said R. Judah to R. Jose: 'Open thy lips and say something in exposition of the Torah, since the Shekinah is accompanying thee. For whenever the Torah is studied earnestly, the Shekinah comes and joins, and all the more so on the road, where the Shekinah comes in anticipation, preceding those who cleave to their faith in the Holy One, blessed be He.' R. Jose then began to discourse on the verse: Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine in the innermost parts of thy house; thy children like olive plants, round about thy table (Ps. CXXVIll, 3). 'So long', he said, 'as a woman abides in the innermost parts of the house, she remains chaste and is fit to bear worthy children. She is like a vine, for just as a vine is never grafted with another kind but only with its own, so the worthy woman does not bear offspring from a strange man but only from her husband. Her reward is [116a] to have "children like olive plants, round about thy table". Just as the leaves of olive trees do not fall off but remain firmly attached to the twigs all the year round, so shall "thy children be like olive plants, round about thy table." The text proceeds: "Behold, surely thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord" (Ibid. 4). The term "surely" seems to be superfluous. It indicates, however, a further lesson, viz. that so long as the Shekinah stayed modestly in her own place, if one may be permitted the expression, then it could be said of her, "thy children like olive plants, round about thy table", referring to Israel during the time that they dwelt in the Land of Israel; "round about thy table" they were, eating and drinking and bringing offerings and feasting before the Holy One, blessed be He: both all those on high and all those below were blessed through them. But when the Shekinah departed, Israel were driven from the table of their father, and dispersed among the nations, and they continually cried out without anyone taking heed, excepting the Holy One, as it is written: "And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, etc." (Lev. XXVI, 44). We have seen how many saintly and holy men have perished through tyrannical decrees, all as part of Israel's punishment for not keeping the Law when they were in the Holy Land. It is written, "Because thou didst not serve the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things" (Deut. XXVIII, 47). The words "because thou didst not serve with joyfulness" refer to the priests, who offered sacrifices and holocausts "with joyfulness"; "and with gladness of heart" alludes to the Levites; "by reason of the abundance of all things" is an allusion to the lay Israelites whose position was in the middle, and who received blessings from all sides. Again it is written, "Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast made great their joy" (Is. IX, 2), in allusion to the priests; "they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest" (Ibid.) indicates the lay Israelites whom the Holy One blesses with a good harvest of the field, from all of which they give a tenth; "as men rejoice when they divide the spoil" (Ibid.) refers to the Levites, who take a tenth from the threshing floor. According to another explanation: "Thou hast multiplied the nation" indicates Israel, who have faith in the Holy One; "Thou hast made great his joy" alludes to the first and supernal grade, to which Abraham attached himself, this being great and filled with joy; "they joy before thee" [116b] at the time when they go up to attach themselves to Thee, "according to the joy in harvest", an allusion to the community of Israel, to which properly belongs the joy in harvest; "as men rejoice when they divide the spoil", a reference to the joy evinced by the rest of the lower powers" and chariot-riders when they divide the spoil and fall upon their prey in the forefront of all.'
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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:54 pm

Part 3 of 3

R. Judah discoursed on the verse: It is a time to work for the Lord; they have made void thy law (Ps. CXIX, 126). It has been laid down that the term 'eth (time) is a designation of the community of Israel. Why is the community of Israel designated "time" ('eth)? Because all things with her are regulated by times and periods, when to come near the Deity, when to receive light (from above), and when to commune, as we read, "But as for me, let my prayer be unto thee, o Lord, in an acceptable time" (Ps. LXIX, 14). Thus, "the community must be made unto the Lord", that is, it must be prepared and fitted to commune with God (so the word "made" is used in the verse "and David made himself a name" (II Sam. VIII, 13)), and this by means of those who labour in the study of the Torah. And why all this? Because "they have made void thy law", for if "they had not made void thy law" there would never have been any estrangement between the Holy One and Israel.' R. Jose said: 'In this way is explained the verse: "I the Lord will in its time hasten it" (Is. LX, 22). The word b'itah (in its time) may be resolved into b'eth he (in the time of the letter He), i.e. "when the time arrives for the Hi to rise up from the dust I will hasten it".' Said R. Jose further: 'Yet the community of Israel is to remain only one day in the dust and no more.' Said R. Judah: 'Tradition agrees with what you have said. But observe what we have learnt regarding this, namely, that when the community of Israel was exiled from its home, the letters of the Divine Name became, if one may say so, separated, the He flying apart from the Vau. We can thus understand the sentence, "I was dumb with silence" (Ps. XXXIX, 3), as through the separation of the Vau from the Hi there was no Voice, and thus Utterance was silenced. She therefore lies in the dust all the day of the He, that is, the whole of the fifth thousand (although they were already in exile before the beginning of the fifth thousand, which is symbolised by the He); and when the sixth thousand, which is symbolised [117a] by the Vau, begins, the Vau will resuscitate the Hi at six times ten (an allusion to the sixty souls), which means the Vau repeated ten times. The Vau will ascend to the Yod and redescend to the He. The Vau will be multiplied into the He ten times, making sixty, when it will raise the exiles from the dust. At every sixty years of the sixth thousand the Hi will mount a stage higher, acquiring greater strength. And after six hundred years of the sixth thousand there will be opened the gates of wisdom above and the fountains of wisdom below, and the world will make preparations to enter on the seventh thousand as man makes preparations on the sixth day of the week, when the sun is about to set. As a mnemonic to this we take the verse, "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life ... all the fountains of the great deep were broken up" (Gen. VII, 11).' Said R. Jose to him: 'Your calculations lay down a much longer period than that arrived at by the companions, according to whom the exile of the community of Israel was only to last one day (i.e. a thousand years), as it says, "He hath made me desolate and faint al! the day" (Lam. I, 13).' R. Judah said in reply: 'This is what I have learnt from my father concerning the mysteries of the letters of the Divine Name, and of the duration of the world as well as of the days of creation, all of which belongs to the same mystical doctrine. At that time the rainbow will appear in the cloud in radiant colours, like a woman that decks herself out for her husband, in fulfilment of the verse, "and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant" (Gen. IX, 16), a passage already explained elsewhere. "I will see it" with all its bright colours, and I will thus "remember the everlasting covenant". Who is the everlasting covenant ? It is the community of Israel. The Vau will join the He, and will resuscitate her from the dust. When the Vau shall move to join the He, heavenly signs will appear in the world, and the Reubenites will make war against all the world; and so the community of Israel will be raised from the dust, for the Holy One will remember her. In this way the Holy One will have dwelt with her in exile years to the number of Vau times Yod, that is, six times ten, after which she will be raised, and vengeance will be executed on the world, and the lowly will be exalted.' Said R. Jose to him: 'All you say is right, being [117b] mystically indicated by the letters, and we need not enter upon any other calculations regarding the end (qets). For in the book of the venerable R. Yeba we find the same calculation. The verse, "Then shall the land satisfy her Sabbaths" (Lev. XXVI, 34) is an allusion to the mystical implication of the Vau, as indicated in a subsequent verse, "And I will remember my covenant with Jacob" [3] (Ibid. 42), and then it says, "and I will remember the land" (Ibid.), indicating the community of Israel. The word "will satisfy" (tirzeh) signifies that the Holy One will be favourable to her. As for the "one day" of which the companions have spoken, it is assuredly all hidden with the Holy One, and it is all found in the mystery of the letters of the Divine Name; for R. Jose here has revealed the end of the exile by means of these letters.' Said R. Judah: 'Observe that also when Sarah was visited, it was the grade of the divine essence symbolised by the Vau that visited her, as it is written, "And (Va) the Lord visited Sarah", for all is contained in the mystery of the Vau, and through it all things are to be revealed.' Said R. Jose: 'We have still a long time to be in exile until the day arrivest but all depends on whether the people will repent of their sins, as appears from the passage, "I the Lord will hasten it in its time" (Is. LX, 22), i.e. if they will be worthy, "I will hasten it", and if not, then "in its time".' The two then proceeded on their way. Suddenly R. Jose said: 'It comes to my memory that in this place I was once sitting with my father and he said to me: "When you will reach the age of sixty years you are destined to find in this place a treasure of sublime wisdom." I have lived to reach that age, and I have not found the treasure, but I wonder if the words spoken by us just now are not the wisdom that he meant. He further said to me: "When the celestial flame reaches the spaces between your fingers, it will escape from you." I asked him: "How do you know this ?" He replied: "I know it by the two birds that passed over your head."' At this point R. Jose left him and entered a cavern, [118a] at the farther end of which he found a book hidden in the cleft of a rock. He brought it out and caught sight of seventy-two tracings of letters which had been given to Adam the first man, and by means of which he knew all the wisdom of the supernal holy beings, and all those beings that abide behind the mill with turns behind the veil among the supernal ethereal essences, as well as all that is destined to happen in the world until the day when a cloud will arise on the side of the West and darken the world. R. Jose then called R. Judah and the two began to examine the book. No sooner had they studied two or three of the letters than they found themselves contemplating that supernal wisdom. But as soon as they began to go into the book more deeply and to discuss it, a fiery flame driven by a tempestuous wind struck their hands, and the book vanished from them. R. Jose wept, saying, 'Can it be, Heaven forefend, that we are tainted with some sin? Or are we unworthy to possess the knowledge contained therein?' When they came to R. Simeon they told him what had occurred. He said to them: 'Were you, perhaps, scrutinising those letters which dealt with the coming of the Messiah ?' They answered: 'We cannot tell, as we have forgotten everything.' R. Simeon continued: 'The Holy One, blessed be He, does not desire that so much should be revealed to the world, but when the days of the Messiah will be near at hand, even children will discover the secrets of wisdom and thereby be able to calculate the millennium; at that time it will be revealed to all, as it is written, "For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, etc." (Zeph. III, 9), the term az (then) referring to the time when the community of Israel will be raised from the dust and the Holy One will make her stand upright; then "will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the Lord, to serve him with one consent" (Ibid.).'

Observe that although it is said of Abraham that he "journeyed still toward the South" (Gen. XII, 9), he did not attain to his rightful grade until Isaac was born. But as soon as Isaac was born, he attained this grade, through the close association and union [118b] of the two. For that reason he, and no other, called him Isaac, in order that water and fire should be merged together. Hence: AND ABRAHAM CALLED THE NAME OF HIS SON THAT WAS BORN UNTO HIM, WHOM SARAH BORE TO HIM, ISAAC: to wit, the son that was born to him as fire born from water.

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AND SARAH SAW THE SON OF HAGAR THE EGYPTIAN, WHOM SHE HAD BORN UNTO ABRAHAM, MAKING SPORT. R. Hiya said: 'After recording the birth of Isaac, the Scripture never mentions Ishmael by name so long as he was still in the house of Abraham: dross cannot be mentioned in the presence of gold. Hence Ishmael is referred to here as "the son of Hagar the Egyptian", as it was not fitting that his name should be mentioned in the presence of Isaac.' Said R. Isaac: 'The words "and Sarah saw" imply that she looked at him disdainfully, as being the son not of Abraham but of Hagar the Egyptian, and, furthermore, only Sarah regarded him so, but not Abraham, as we read that THE THING WAS VERY GRIEVOUS IN ABRAHAM'S SIGHT ON ACCOUNT OF HIS SON -- not the son of Hagar, but his son.' R. Simeon said: 'The Scripture really speaks in praise of Sarah. For what she saw was that he was indulging in idolatrous practices. Hence she said: Surely, this is not the son of Abraham, who follows in the footsteps of Abraham, but the son of Hagar the Egyptian, who is reverting to the type of his mother. Hence: AND SHE SAID UNTO ABRAHAM: CAST OUT THIS BONDWOMAN AND HER SON; FOR THE SON OF THIS BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE HEIR WITH MY SON, EVEN WITH ISAAC.' It cannot be supposed that Sarah was moved by jealousy of her or her son. For if so, the Holy One would not have supported her by saying, IN ALL THAT SARAH SAITH UNTO THEE, HEARKEN UNTO HER VOICE. The truth, therefore, is that she observed him worshipping idols, and performing the practices which his mother had taught him. Hence the words of Sarah, "For the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir", as much as to say: "I know that he will never enter the fold of the true faith and that he will have no portion with my son either in this world or in the world to come." Therefore God supported her, since He wished to keep the holy seed carefully separated, for that was the end for which He created the world, as Israel was already in His thought before the creation of the world. It was therefore that Abraham appeared in the world, so that the world could be sustained for his sake. Abraham and Isaac together upheld the world, yet they were not firmly established until Jacob came into the world. When Jacob appeared, both Abraham and Isaac became firmly established and the whole world with them. From Jacob the holy people gradually emerged into the world, and so the whole of existence became duly established according to the holy pattern. Hence God said, "In all that Sarah saith unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall seed be called to thee", i.e. in Isaac and not in Ishmael.

The text proceeds: AND SHE DEPARTED AND STRAYED IN THE WILDERNESS OF BEERSHEBA. The term vatetha' (and she strayed) indicates idolatry, like the kindred term in the verse, "They are vanity, work of delusion (tha'athuim, lit. "goings astray") (Jer. x, 15). Thus it was only for the sake of Abraham that the Holy One did not abandon her or her son. Observe that on the previous occasion when she fled from Sarah, it was said to her: "The Lord hath heard thy affliction" (Gen. XVI, II); but now since she went astray after idols, although she lifted up her voice and wept, yet it says, FOR GOD HATH HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LAD WHERE HE IS. The expression "where he is" we interpret to imply that he was still a minor in the eyes of the heavenly court. For whereas in the human court, here below, the age of liability is reached at thirteen years, in the heavenly court it is reached only at twenty years; before that age, even if one is guilty, he is not punishable. Hence the phrase "where he is". Said R. Eleazar: 'If that be so, why should anyone be punished by dying before twenty ? Before thirteen, it is true, he may die for the sins of his father, but why after thirteen?' R. Hiya replied: 'The Holy One has mercy on such a one so that he should die whilst still innocent, and obtain a reward in the other world, instead of dying in guilt and receiving punishment in that world.' R. Eleazar rejoined: 'But if he is already guilty before he reaches the age of [119a] twenty years, what are we to say? Since he has died (before reaching the age of punishment), how will he be punished ?' R. Simeon replied: 'It is of such that it is written, "But there is that is swept away without judgement" (Prov. XIII, 23). For when chastisement descends on the world, then such a one is struck down by the destroying angel without express sentence pronounced either by the heavenly or the earthly tribunal, while Providence is not keeping watch over him. It is also written of such a one: "His own iniquities shall ensnare (eth) the wicked, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sin" (Ibid. v. 22). The accusative particle eth amplifies the term "the wicked" so as to make it include one who has not yet come of legal age; of him, then, it is said, "His own iniquities shall ensnare the wicked", but not the heavenly tribunal, "and he shall be holden with the cords of his sin", but not by the earthly tribunal. Hence it says here : "For God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is."'

R. Simeon discoursed on the verse: And I will remember my covenant with Jacob, etc. (Lev. XXVI, 42). 'The name Jacob', he said, 'is here written in full, with the letter vau. For what reason? In the first place as an allusion to the grade of Wisdom, the realm where Jacob dwells. But the chief reason is because the passage speaks of the exile of Israel. intimating that the redemption of Israel will come about through the mystic force of the letter vau, namely, in the sixth millennium, and, more precisely, after six seconds and a half a time. When the sixtieth year shall have passed over the threshold of the sixth millennium. the God of heaven will visit the daughter of Jacob with a preliminary remembrance (p'qidah). Another six and a half years will then elapse. and there will be a full remembrance of her; then another six years. making together seventy-two years and a half. In the year sixty-six the Messiah will appear in the land of Galilee. A star in the east will swallow seven stars in the north. and a flame of black fire will hang in the heaven for sixty days, and there shall be wars towards the north in which two kings shall perish. Then all the nations shall combine together against the daughter of Jacob in order to drive her from the world. It is of that time that it is written: "And it is a time of trouble unto Jacob. but out of it he shall be saved" (Jer. XXX, 7). At that time all the souls in Guph will have been used up, and will need to be re-created. As a mnemonic of this we may use the verse: "All the souls of the house of Jacob that came into Egypt ... all the souls were threescore and six" (Gen. XLVI, 26). In the year seventy-three all the kings of the world will assemble in the great city of Rome, and the Holy One will shower on them fire and hail and meteoric stones until they are all destroyed, with the exception of those who will not yet have arrived there. These will commence anew to make other wars. From that time the Messiah will begin to declare himself, and round him there will be gathered many nations and many hosts from the uttermost ends of the earth. And all the children of Israel will assemble in their various places until the completion of the century. The Vau will then join the He, and then "they shall bring all your brethren out of all the nations for an offering unto the Lord" (Is. LXVI, 20). The children of Ishmael will at the same time rouse all the peoples of the world to come up to war against Jerusalem, as it is written. "For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle, etc." (Zech. XIV, 2), also, "The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed" (Ps. 11, 2); and further, "He that sitteth in heaven laugheth, the Lord hath them in derision" (Ibid. 11, 4). Then the lesser Vau will rouse itself to unite (with the He') and renew the souls that had become old, so as to rejuvenate the world, as it is written, "May the glory of the Lord endure for ever, let the Lord rejoice in his works" (Ps. CIV, 31). The first part of this verse signifies that God's glory will attach itself to the world, and the latter half that He will cause souls to descend into the world and make them into new beings, so as to join the world into one. Happy are those who will be left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter on the Sabbath. For that is the day set apart by the Holy One on which to effect the union of souls and to cull new souls to join those that are still on earth, as it is written, "And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written unto life in Jerusalem" (Is. IV, 3).'

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AND IT CAME TO PASS AFTER THESE THINGS, THAT GOD DID PROVE ABRAHAM, AND SAID UNTO HIM: ABRAHAM, AND HE SAID: HERE AM I. R. Judah discoursed on the verse: Thou art my King, O God (Ps. XLIV, 5). 'This allocution', he said, 'signifies the complete union of all grades. "Command the salvation of Jacob" (Ibid.), to wit, the emissaries who perform God's behests [119b] in the world, that they may be all from the side of mercy and not from the side of stem justice; since there are messengers from the side of mercy and others from the side of justice. Those belonging to the side of mercy never execute a mission of punishment in the world. It may be asked, how can we reconcile with this the case of the angel who appeared to Balaam, and of whom we have been taught that he was first a messenger of mercy and then was changed into one of severity. In reality the character of his mission was not changed, as he was throughout a messenger of mercy on behalf of Israel, to protect them and plead for them, but this meant punishment to Balaam. For this is the way of the Holy One, that when He confers kindness on one, the same kindness may result in punishment for another. Similarly here, the same messenger who was one of mercy for Israel turned into one of punishment for Balaam. Hence David prayed, "Command the salvation of Jacob", as much as to say: "When messengers are sent into the world, order such as are of the side of mercy."' R. Abba said: 'The words "command the salvation of Jacob" allude to those in exile, for whose redemption David prayed. Further, Jacob was the crown of the patriarchs, but if not for Isaac he would not have appeared in the world; hence the request "command the salvation of Jacob" refers primarily to Isaac, since the saving of his life was the salvation of Jacob.'

***

AND IT CAME TO PASS. Said R. Simeon: 'We have been taught that the expression "and it came to pass in the days" indicates that some trouble is about to be narrated, while the expression "and it came to pass", even without the addition of "in the days", presages a certain tinge of distress. AFTER THESE WORDS: this means, after the lowest grade of all the supernal grades, which is called "words" (d'barim), as in the passage, "I am not a man of words" (Ex. IV, 10). THAT ELOHIM PROVED ABRAHAM, i.e. the evil tempter came to accuse him before the Holy One, blessed be He. The text here is rather surprising, for instead of Abraham we should have expected here to read, "God proved Isaac", seeing that he was already thirty-seven years of age, and no longer under his father's jurisdiction. He could thus easily have refused without rendering his father liable to punishment. The truth, however, is that it was requisite, in order that Abraham might attain to perfection, that he should be invested with the attribute of rigour, which he had not exhibited up to that time. Now, however, water was united with fire and fire with water, and it was possible for him to dispense rigorous justice and make it part of his character. The evil tempter thus came to accuse Abraham on the ground that he could not be said to have perfected himself until he should have exercised rigour against Isaac. But observe that although only Abraham is explicitly mentioned as being proved, Isaac, nevertheless, was also included in the trial, as is implied by the amplifying particle eth before" Abraham", which indicates Isaac. For Isaac was at that time in the grade of the lower Geburah (Force, Rigour); but after he had been bound and made ready to undergo the rigorous trial at the hand of Abraham, he was equipped in his own place together with Abraham, and so fire and water were joined and rose to a higher grade, and the discord was appeased. For who ever saw a father's heart turn from compassion to cruelty? But the object here was to assuage the discord between fire and water so that they should be settled in their places until Jacob appeared, when all was put in order, and the triad of the patriarchs was completed, and higher and lower creations were firmly established.

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AND HE SAID, TAKE NOW THY SON. The word "take" does not mean "take forcibly", since Abraham was too old for that, but it has the same sense as in "take Aaron and Eleazar his son" (Num. XX, 25), signifying that he should use persuasion and gently lead him on to do the will of God. THY SON, THINE ONLY SON, WHOM THOU LOVEST. This [120a] has been explained elsewhere. AND GET THEE INTO THE LAND OF MORIAH: the meaning is similar to that of the passage, "I will get me to the mountain of myrrh" (S. S. IV, 6), i.e. to become invigorated in the appropriate place.

***

ON THE THIRD DAY ABRAHAM LIFTED UP HIS EYES, AND SAW THE PLACE AFAR OFF. As we have already been told that Abraham went to the place, all this seems superfluous. But the truth is that "the third day" means the third generation, i.e. Jacob, and the words "he saw the place from afar" are parallel to the expression "from afar the Lord appeared unto me" (Jer. XXXI, 3). Or again, "the place" alludes to Jacob, of whom it is written, "and he took one of the stones of the place" (Gen. XXVIII, 11). For Abraham scrutinised the "third day", which is the third grade, and he beheld Jacob, who was destined to descend from him. "Afar off", to wit, at some distant time, and not soon. R. Eleazar said to R. Judah: 'What credit is herein ascribed to Abraham, if whilst about to bind Isaac he saw that Jacob was destined to descend from him ?' R. Judah replied: 'Indeed Abraham did see Jacob, since even before that Abraham was endowed with the higher Wisdom; and now he scrutinised the third day, which is the third grade, in order to make sure. And indeed he did see him, but now only "from afar", for the reason that he was going to bind Isaac, and he did not wish to question the ways of the Holy One. "Afar off", that is, he saw him through a "dim glass" only, and therefore only partially; for if the "clear glass" had been resting upon the "dim glass", Abraham would have seen him properly. The "clear glass" did not function on this occasion, because this is the grade of Jacob, who, not yet being born, had not reached that grade; and also in order that Abraham's reward might be all the greater. AND THEY CAME TO THE PLACE WHICH GOD HAD TOLD HIM OF, ETC. Here it is intimated that although Abraham had some vision of Jacob, yet he said to himself, "Assuredly the Holy One knows another way which will serve." Forthwith, therefore, ABRAHAM BUILT THE ALTAR THERE. Before this it is written: AND ISAAC SPOKE UNTO ABRAHAM HIS FATHER, AND SAID, My FATHER. As explained elsewhere, the reason why Abraham did not respond to him immediately was because the normal compassion of a father towards a son left him, and hence he simply said: 'Here I am, my son", implying that the quality of mercy in him had been transmuted into rigour. AND ABRAHAM SAID. It is not written: "and his father said", which shows again that he was regarding him not as his father but as his adversary. GOD WILL PROVIDE FOR HIMSELF THE LAMB FOR A BURNT OFFERING, MY SON. He should have said: "provide for us", but what he meant was, "God will provide for Himself when necessary, but for the present it is going to be my son and nothing else." Forthwith, AND THEY WENT BOTH OF THEM TOGETHER. R. Simeon discoursed here on the verse: Behold, angels cry abroad, the angels of peace weep bitterly (Is. XXXIII,7). 'These angels', he said, 'are superior angels who "cried abroad" because they no longer knew what to make of God's promise to Abraham at the time when "He brought him forth abroad" (Gen. XV, 5). The "angels of peace" are those other angels who were destined to go forth to meet Jacob, for whose sake the Holy One promised them peace, as it is written, "And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him" (Ibid. XXXII, 2), and these are called "angels of peace". All these wept when they saw Abraham binding Isaac, the upper and the lower beings trembled and shook, and all on account of Isaac.

***

AND THE ANGEL OF THE LORD CALLED UNTO HIM ABRAHAM, ABRAHAM. There is in the text a disjunctive mark between the two Abrahams, to show that the latter was not like the former; the latter [120b] was the perfected Abraham, while the former was still incomplete. Similarly, in the passage where the name Samuel is repeated with a disjunctive line between (I Sam. III, 10), the second is the perfected Samuel, whilst the first was not yet so. The second Samuel was a prophet, but not the first. But when we come to "Moses, Moses" (Ex. III, 4), we do not find any pausal sign between, for the reason that from the day Moses was born the Shekinah never departed from him. R. Hiya said that the angel repeated Abraham's name in order to animate him with a new spirit, and spur him to a new activity with a new heart. R. Judah said: 'Isaac purified himself and in intention offered himself up to God, was at that moment etherealised and, as it were, he ascended to the throne of God like the odour of the incense of spices which the priests offered before Him twice a day; and so the sacrifice was complete. For Abraham felt distressed when the angel said to him, "Lay not thy hand upon the lad", thinking that his offering was not complete and that his labour, his preparations and the building of the altar had all been in vain. Straightway, however, ABRAHAM LIFTED UP HIS EYES AND LOOKED AND BEHELD BEHIND HIM A RAM, ETC. We have been taught that that ram was created at twilight (on the sixth day of Creation), and he was of the first year, as it is written, "one he-lamb of the first year" (Num. VII, 63), thus being according to requirement. But if so, how could he have been created at twilight? The truth is that from that time it was pre-ordained that that ram should be at hand at the moment when Abraham should require it. The same applies to all those things said to have come into being "at twilight", which in reality means that they were then predestined to appear at the requisite moment.

R. Judah further discoursed on the verse: In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them (Is. LXIII, 9). He said: 'This is the translation of the k'ri, but according to the k'thib we should translate, "He was not afflicted." The lesson to be derived from this variation is that Israel's affliction reaches the Holy One even in the place above which is beyond affliction or perturbation. "And the angel of his presence saved them." If He is together with them in their affliction, how can it be said that He saves them? Observe, however, that it is not written, "He saves them", but "he saved them", that is, He determined in advance to partake in their sufferings. For whenever Israel is in exile the Shekinah accompanies them, as it is written, "Then the Lord thy God will return (v'-shab) with thy captivity" (Deut. XXX, 3). According to another explanation, "The angel of his presence" signifies the Shekinah, which accompanies them in exile. Hence in the Scripture the words "and I have remembered my covenant" (Ex. VI, 5) are immediately followed by "and now, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me; moreover, I have seen" (Ex. III, 9). It is also written, "And God remembered his covenant" (Ibid. II, 24), referring to the Shekinah, "with Abraham" (Ibid.), symbolic of South-west, "with Isaac" (Ibid.), symbolic of North-west, "and with Jacob" (Ibid.), symbolising the complete and perfect union. The Holy One, blessed be He, will one day send forth a voice to proclaim to the world the words, "For he said, Surely, they are my people, children that will not deal falsely; so he was their saviour" (Is. LXIII, 8). Blessed be the Lord for evermore, Amen and Amen.'

_______________

Notes:

1. The Patriarchs.

2. Lit. 'luck' ; also 'flowing'.

3. The name Jacob is in this verse exceptionally spelt plene, i.e. with a vau. v. infra, p. 369.

APPENDIX 1

HEBREW ALPHABET


Image

GLOSSARY

HEBREW AND TECHNICAL TERMS IN VOL. 1


ADAM( lit. man). The ten Sefiroth represented as a man, e.g. Kether as the centre of the brain, Hokmah as the right side, Hesed as the right arm, etc.

BEASTS OF THE FIELD. The higher angels.

CENTRAL COLUMN. The connecting-link between the Right and the Left, the source of day.

CHIEFTAINS. The celestial chiefs and guardians attached to the various nations of the earth.

COLOURS. The divine attributes, mercy, rigour, etc.

CROWNS. Proper names of the Deity formed by combinations of letters.

CURTAIN. The partition between the divine and other intelligences.

DALETH (lit. poor). The fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, symbolising the earth without the Shekinah.

EARTH. The passive principle of the third grade, the original material of Creation.

ELOHIM (lit. Power). The generic name for all the grades; applied specially to Geburah.

EN-SOF (lit. without limit). That of which nothing can be predicated and which yet must be postulated.

ETH (sign of accusative case). An indication that something has to be understood in addition to what is expressed; a name of the Shekinah.

FATHER. The Zoharic name for the second grade; the 'begetter' of the Creation.

FEMALE. The last of the grades (v. Appendix, p. 383).

FIRMAMENT. A reservoir of light or illumination.

FORM. The type or ideal form of a thing.

FRINGES. v. Numbers xv, 37 sqq.

GAN-EDEN (lit. Garden of Delight). The abode of souls before union with and after departure from the body.

GEBURAH (lit. 'force', 'might'). The grade associated with darkness, the source of rigour and chastisement.

GEHINNOM. Hell, the fire of the primordial darkness when separated from light.

GRADE. The creative power of the Deity functioning in a particular sphere (v. Appendix).

GREEN. The symbol of the divine attribute of mercy (rahamim).

GUPH (lit. body). The totality of bodies qualified to receive souls.

HABDALAH. The benediction recited on the departure ofthe Sabbath.

HAYAH (plu. HAYOTH, lit. 'animal', 'living'). One of the higher ranks of angels.

HE (FIRST or UPPER). The second letter of the sacred Name, symbolising the grade called 'Mother' (q.v.).

HE (SECOND or LOWER). The fourth letter of the sacred Name, symbolising the grade called 'earth' (q.v.).

HEAVENS. The totality of the letters (q.v.), constituting the active faculty of the third grade (v. Appendix).

HESED (lit. kindness). The grade associated with light, the source of blessing.

HEY OLMIN (lit. Life of Worlds). The grade emanating from the Central Column, the source of being.

HOKMAH (lit. Wisdom). The second grade, the architect of Creation.

LAD. A synonym for Metatron (q.v.).

LANDS OF THE LIVING. The Future World.

LEBANON (TREES or CEDARS OF). The Six Days of the Creation.

LEFT. (a) The third degree of light, called 'darkness', the source of evil and suffering. (b) A synonym for Geburah (q.v.).

LETTERS. The primordial forms of all beings, contained in the original heaven and earth (v. Appendix).

LIGHT. The source of illumination, mental and physical.

LILITH. Female night-demon.

LIMBS. The constituent letters of the sacred Name.

MAAMAR. A creative utterance, the embodiment of the Voice (q.v.).

METATRON. The chief of the Chieftains (q.v.), charged with the sustenance of mankind.

MIRROR. The prophetic faculty.

MOTHER. The Zoharic name for the third grade, containing the Creation in posse.

NESHAMAH. The highest or spiritual soul of man, emanating from the Tree of Life.

ORAL LAW. The Mishnah, the Rabbinic code.

ORLAH (lit. foreskin). The condition of being unreceptive of or inaccessible to the Shekinah (q.v.).

PRINCE OF THE WORLD. A synonym for Metatron (q.v.).

RED. The symbol of the divine attribute of severity (din).

RESIDUE (lit. 'squeezings', 'drippings'). What is left of the divine blessings after Israel have had their portion.

RIGHT. (a) The first or second degree of light, the source of day. (b) Another name for the grade of Hesed (q.v.).

SACRED LAMP. R. Simeon b. Yohai.

SEFIRAH. The Cabbalistic name for the divine grades (v. Introduction, p. xvii).

SERPENT. The principle of evil inherent in the primordial darkness.

SHEKINAH (lit. 'neighbourhood', 'abiding'). The Divine Presence, UPPER as associated with the higher grades, and LOWER as associated with the Female.

SHEOL. The under world.

SHOFAR (lit. trumpet). The instrument of the Voice (q.v.).

STREAM. The flow of existence produced by the union of the upper and the lower waters.

TETRAGRAMMATON. The sacred Name, composed of the four letters Yod, He, Vau, He (v. Appendix, p. 383).

TORAH. The Mosaic teaching (used especially of the esoteric doctrine of the grades); the archetype of the Creation.

TREE OF LIFE. The point from which the stream of existence commences to diverge into separate souls.

UNCOVERING. The drawing-back of the flesh after the operation of circumcision.

VAU. The third letter of the sacred Name, symbolising the original heavens.

VOICE. The instrument of Creation, identified with the original heavens, the totality of the letters.

WATERS. The primordial form of the created universe.

WHITE. The symbol of the divine attribute of kindness (hesed).

WISDOM. (a) v. HOKMAH. (b) Like Torah, the esoteric doctrine of the grades.

WORLD, LOWER. The created universe.

WORLD, UPPER. The grades of the Deity, regarded as separate creative forces.

YOD. The first letter of the sacred Name, symbolising the grade called Reshith (beginning), or Hokmah (wisdom).

ZADDIK (lit. righteous one). The ninth grade, associated with the Covenant.
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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:58 pm

Part 1 of 2

HAYE SARAH

Gen. XXIII, I-XXV, 18

AND THE LIFE OF SARAH WAS A HUNDRED AND SEVEN AND TWENTY YEARS. R. Jose discoursed on the verse: And they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging (Jonah I, 15). 'The question may here be asked,' he said, 'why it was the sea and not the earth that raged against him, seeing that he fled to prevent the Shekinah from resting upon him. In fact, however, it was appropriate that it should be so. Our teachers say that the sea resembles the sky and the sky resembles the Throne of Glory; hence the sea seized him and held him fast. For as he, in effect, fled from the sea, the sea was the proper agent to fill him with fear and trembling. "And they took up Jonah and cast him into the sea." Tradition says that as they took him up and plunged him into the water up to his thighs, the sea was assuaged, and when they lifted him up again the sea resumed its violence. This happened repeatedly, until finally Jonah said: "Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea" (Ibid. I, 12). Forthwith they did so. No sooner was he cast forth into the sea than his soul took flight from him and ascended to the Throne of the King, before whom she was brought to judgement. She was then restored to Jonah, and then the fish swallowed him. The fish died, but afterwards came to life again. This is the accepted explanation. [121b] In the same way, every night when a man retires to his bed his soul leaves him and ascends to be judged before the King's tribunal. If she is found deserving to continue in her present state, she is allowed to return to this world. In the judgement, good and evil actions are not weighed in the same way. No account is taken of evil deeds which a man is likely to perpetrate in the future, for so it is written, "for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is" (Gen. XXI,17). But in regard to good actions, not only those already performed in the past are taken into consideration, but also those which a man is going to perform in the future; so that even if the present account would prove a man guilty, the Holy One in His bounty towards His creatures puts to his credit all his future good deeds, and the man is thus saved. Observe that when Jonah was cast forth into the sea, "the sea" -- as we read -- "stood still from raging". This means the supernal sea, which is said to "stand still" when its wrath is assuaged. For the heavenly tribunal, at a time when the world is under judgement, is like a pregnant woman who is convulsed with the pangs of childbirth, which cease, however, as soon as she is delivered of the child. Similarly the heavenly tribunal in time of judgement is agitated and convulsed, but once judgement is executed it becomes pacified and resumes with gladness its wonted calm, as it is written, "And when the wicked perish there is joy" (Prov. XI, 10). There is, indeed, a passage to the contrary, saying, "Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" (Ezek. XVIII, 23). This passage, however, speaks of those sinners who have not yet gone to the limit of provocation, whereas the previous passage speaks of those sinners whose measure is full.'

***

AND THE LIFE OF SARAH WAS, ETC. How is it that the death of Sarah alone, among all women mentioned in the Bible, is recorded? R. Hiya said: 'Is that so ? Do we not find it written, "And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrah" (Gen. XXXV, 19), and again, "and Miriam died there, etc." (Num. XX, I), also, "and Deborah [122a] Rebekah's nurse died" (Gen. XXXV, 8), and finally, "and Shuah's daughter the wife of Judah died" (Ibid. XXXVIII, 12)?' Said R. Jose: 'The problem is, why is the record of Sarah's years given with so much particularity, such as we find in the case of no other woman? Why, moreover, to Sarah alone of all the women of Scripture was a whole section of the Torah devoted? There is an esoteric reason, namely, that Sarah reached that grade on which depend all the years and the days of a son of man.' R. Jose discoursed on the verse: And the abundance of the earth is in all (ba-kol), and a king to a laboured field (Eccl. V, 8). 'The abundance of the earth,' he said, 'is certainly in kol (the Whole), as that is the source from whence issue spirits and souls, and from which beneficence is vouchsafed to the world. By "king" we have to understand the Holy One, blessed be He, the most high King, who, if the field be tilled and cultivated properly, attaches himself to it. What is this field ? It is the field mentioned in the words, "as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed" (Gen. XXVII, 27).' R. Eleazar said: 'Herein are contained various deep esoteric ideas. The term "king" here is an allusion to the Shekinah, who does not dwell in a house unless the master of the house is married and is united to his wife for the purpose of bearing offspring; the Shekinah then brings forth souls to plant in that house. Hence the King, or Shekinah, is only attached to a cultivated field, but to no other. According to another explanation we translate, "a king is subjected to afield". "King" in this case is an allusion to the God-fearing woman of whom it is written, "but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised" (Prov. XXXI, 30), while "field" alludes to the strange woman of whom it says, "that they may keep thee from the strange woman" (Ibid. VII, 5). For there are fields and fields. There is the field in which abide all blessings and sanctities, and of which it is said, "as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed" (Gen. XXVII, 27); and there is another kind of field which is the abode of desolation, impurity, war and slaughter. And that king is sometimes enslaved to such a field, as it says, "For three things the earth doth quake ... for a servant when he reigneth [122b] ... and a handmaid that is heir to her mistress" (Prov. XXX, 21-2-3). Such a king is plunged in darkness until he purifies himself and regains the supernal sphere. It is for that reason that a he-goat is offered up on New-Moon days, namely, because that field has been estranged from the Divine King, so that no blessings from that King could rest upon it; so when the other king is enslaved to the field, we may apply the words, "for in the field he found her, etc." (Deut. XXII, 27). Thus when Eve came into the world she attached herself to the serpent, who injected his impurity into her, so that she brought death into the world and to her husband. Then came Sarah, who, though she went down, came up again, and never attached herself to the serpent, as we read, "And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had" (Gen. XIII, I). Of Noah, too, it is written, "And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent" (Gen. IX, 21). And because Abraham and Sarah kept afar from the serpent, Sarah obtained life eternal for herself, her husband and all her descendants after her, who were bidden to "look unto the rock whence ye were hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye were digged" (Is. LI, 1). Hence the Scripture says, "and the life of Sarah was, etc.", a formula not used in the case of Eve or any other woman. For Sarah attached herself throughout to life, and thus life was made her own.

***

AND THE LIFE OF SARAH WAS A HUNDRED YEARSAND TWENTY YEARS AND SEVEN YEARS. Each of these periods was marked by its own peculiar degree of virtue. R. Simeon said: [123a] 'There is an inner significance in the fact that with the other numbers the word for "years" (shanah) is in the singular, whereas with the number seven it is in the plural (shanim). The hundred forms a unit because the Holy One is united with the highest and most mysterious by the secret of the hundred benedictions pronounced each day. Similarly the number twenty symbolises the unity of the Thought with the Jubilee. Hence the singular shanah (year). Whereas the seven years correspond to the seven lower realms that issue separately from the mysterious supernal essence, and which, though they also form, in a sense, a unity, diverge in respect of the categories of justice and mercy into diverse sides and paths. This is not so in the supernal region. Hence, there we have "year", but here we have "years". But they are all called "life". Thus "the life of Sarah was" means "really was", having been created and established in the supernal regions.' R. Hiya said: 'It has been established that when Isaac was bound on the altar he was thirty-seven years old, and immediately after Sarah died, as it is written, "And Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her." Whence did he come? He came from Mount Moriah, after his binding of Isaac. These thirty-seven years from Isaac's birth to the time of his being bound were thus the real life of Sarah, as indicated in the expression "and the life of Sarah was (vayihyu)", the word VYHYV having the numerical value of thirty-seven.'

R. Jose discoursed on the verse: A Psalm. O sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvellous things; his right hand and his holy arm hath wrought salvation for him (Ps. XCVIII, 1). 'According to the companions, this verse was uttered by the cows, of whom it is said, "and the kine sang (vayisharnah) on the way" (I Sam. VI, 12). What they sang was this Psalm, commencing: "O sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvellous things." It should here be observed that while everything that the Holy One has created sings songs and praises before Him, both on high and here below, the chanting of these cows was not of the kind that falls within this mystical category, but was due to the fact that they were bearing the sacred ark; for as soon as the ark was removed from them they reverted to their brutishness and began lowing after the manner of other kine. Hence it was assuredly the feeling of the ark on their backs [I23b] that worked within them and made them utter song. The difference between "Psalm of David" and "To David a psalm" has been expounded elsewhere. Here, however, we have "Psalm" simply. The reason is that this Psalm is one destined to be sung by the Holy Spirit at the time when the Almighty will raise Israel from the dust. Hence the epithet "new song", since such a song will never have been chanted since the creation of the world.' Said R. Hiya: 'It is written, "there is nothing new under 'the sun" (Eccl. I, 9), whereas this song is going to be something new, and is going to happen under the sun. How can this be? The truth is that this is the moon, and is thus both "new" and "under the sun". Why will there be a new song? Because "He hath done marvellous things; his right hand and his holy arm hath wrought salvation for him." For whom? [I24tl] For that grade that intones the chant, for on that grade He supports Himself, as it were, by His right hand and by His left hand. When will that Psalm be chanted? When the dead will come to life and rise from the dust; then there will be something new that had never yet been in the world.' Said R. Jose: 'When the Holy One will avenge Israel on the nations, then will this Psalm be chanted. For after the resurrection of the dead the world will be perfectly renewed, and will not be as before, when death prevailed in the world through the influence of the serpent, through whom the world was defiled and disgraced. Observe this. It is written, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman" (Gen. III, 15). The term ebah (enmity) is akin to a similar word in the verse, "they are passed away as the ships of ebeh" (Job IX, 26), for on the great ocean there float numerous ships and boats of many kinds, and those in which the serpent sails are called "ships of ebeh" (enmity). The "woman" referred to here is the God-fearing woman; "thy seed" refers to the idolatrous nations; "her seed" to Israel; "he shall bruise thy head", to wit, the Holy One, who will one day destroy him, as it is written: "He will swallow up death for ever" (Is. XXV, 8), and also, "and I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land" (Zech. XIII, 2). "In the head" means in the time to come when the dead will come to life; for then the world will be the "head", since it will be established by the "head", that is, the supernal world. "In the heel" means now in this world, which is merely "heel" and not endowed with permanence, and so the serpent bites and mankind is in disgrace. See, now, a man's days were created and are located in the supernal grades, but when they draw to the end of their term, when they reach the Scriptural limit of threescore and ten (Ps. XC, 10), there remains then no grade any more for them to abide in, and so "their pride is but travail and vanity" (Ibid.), and they are as nought. Not so the days of the righteous. [1241'] They have a permanent abiding. Thus we read "And the life of Sarah was" (vayihyu, lit. "and they were" or "remained"); similarly, "And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life" (Gen. XXV, 7).You may object that similarly in the case of Ishmael it is written, "And these are the years of the life of Ishmael" (Ibid. 17). Ishmael, however, had in fact repented of his evil ways, and the days of his life thus attained permanency.'

***

AND SARAH DIED IN KIRYATH-ARBA, ETC. R. Abba said: 'Of Sarah alone among all women do we find recorded the number of her days and years and the length of her life and the place where she was buried. All this was to show that the like of Sarah was not to be found among all the women of the world. You may object that we find a somewhat similar record in connection with Miriam, of whom it is written, "And Miriam died there, and was buried there" (Num. XX. 1). But the object there was to show the unworthiness of Israel, for whom water was made to flow forth only through the virtue of Miriam. Hence Miriam's death was not recorded with such full details as that of Sarah.'

R. Judah discoursed on the verse: Happy art thou, O land, when thy king is a free man (Eccl. X, 17). 'This verse,' he said, 'the companions have already explained, but further lessons may be derived from it. Happy are Israel, to whom the Holy One, blessed be He, gave the Torah, by the study of which all hidden paths should be made known to them and sublime mysteries should be revealed to them. The "land" here is "the land of life", and it is "happy" because its King showers upon it all the blessings pronounced upon it by the patriarchs. This is through the mystic influence of the Vau, who is always in readiness to pour on it blessing, and who is the "son of freedom" and "son of Jubilee", who obtains for slaves their freedom. He is a scion of the supernal world, and the author of all life, of all illuminations, and all exalted states. All this does the first-born son draw towards that land. Hence, "Happy art thou, O land." On the other hand, the words "Woe to thee, O land, when thy King is a boy" (Ibid.) refer to the nether earth and the nether world which draw their sustenance only from the dominion of the uncircumcised, and from that king called "boy". [1] Woe to the land that has to draw its sustenance in this manner! For this "boy" [125a] possesses nothing of himself, but only such blessings as he receives at certain periods. But when these blessings are withheld from him, when the moon is impaired and darkness prevails, then woe to the world that needs to draw sustenance at that time! And how much the world has to endure before it obtains sustenance from him!

'Observe, now, that in the words "And Sarah died in Kiryath-arba" there is an inner meaning, to wit, that Sarah's death was not brought about by the tortuous serpent, which possessed no power over her as over the rest of mankind. For through him the people of the world have died since the sin of Adam, with the exception of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, who died, as it is written, "by the mouth of the Lord" (although this expression is not used in connection with Miriam, out of respect for the Shekinah). The Scripture, however, here indicates that Sarah died not merely in, but by the hands of Kiryath-arba (lit. city of four), so called because it is the same as Hebron, where David joined the patriarchs. Her death thus was brought about by the hands of no one save Kiryath-arba.

'Observe that when the days of a man are firmly established in the supernal grades, that man has a permanent abiding in the world; but if not, those days gradually descend until they approach the grade wherein death resides. The angel of death then receives authority to take away the soul, traverses the world with one sweep, takes away the man's soul, and pollutes his body, which remains permanently unclean. Happy are the righteous who have not polluted themselves and in whom no pollution has remained. In the centre of the heaven there is an illumined path, which is the celestial dragon, and in it are fixed multitudes of little stars which are charged to keep watch over the secret deeds of human beings. In the same way myriads of emissaries go forth from the primeval celestial serpent, by whom Adam was seduced, to spy out the secret deeds [125b] of mankind. Whoever, therefore, strives to live a life of purity is assisted from on high, and is encircled by the protecting hand of his Master, and is called saintly. On the other hand, when a man seeks to pollute himself, hosts of demons, who lie in wait for him, hover over him and surround and pollute him, so that he is called unclean. They all walk in front of him and cry, "unclean, unclean", as the Scripture says, "and he shall cry, Unclean, unclean" (Lev. XIII, 45).'

R. Isaac and R. Jose were walking from Tiberias to Lud. Said R. Isaac: 'I marvel at the wicked Balaam, how all his actions proceeded from the side of impurity. We here learn the mystical lesson that all species of witchcraft are linked up with, and proceed from, the primeval serpent who is the foul and unclean spirit. Hence all sorceries are called n'hashim (lit. serpents). And whoever becomes addicted to them pollutes himself, nay more, he has first to become polluted in order to attract to himself the side of the unclean spirit. For it is a dictum of our teachers that corresponding to the impulses of a man here are the influences which he attracts to himself from above. Should his impulse be towards holiness, he attracts to himself holiness from on high and so he becomes holy; but if his tendency is towards the side of impurity, he draws down towards himself the unclean spirit and so becomes polluted. For this reason, in order to draw towards himself the unclean spirit from that supernal serpent, the wicked Balaam besmirched himself nightly by bestial intercourse with his ass, and he would then proceed to his divinations and sorceries. To begin with he would take one of the familiar serpents, tie it up, break [126a] its head, and extract its tongue. Then he would take certain herbs, and bum them as incense. He would then take the head of the serpent, split it into four sections, and offer it up as a second offering. Finally, he traced a circle round himself, mumbled some words, and' made some gestures, until he became possessed of the unclean spirits, who told him all that they knew from the side of the heavenly dragon; and he thus continued his magical practices until he became possessed of the spirit of the primeval serpent. It is thus that we understand the passage, "he went not, as at the other times, to meet with n'hashim" (enchantments, lit. serpents) (Num. XXIV, 1).' Said R. Jose: 'Why is it that many kinds of magic and divination are only found in women ?' R. Isaac replied: 'Thus I have learnt, that when the serpent had intercourse with Eve he injected defilement into her but not into her husband.' R. Jose then went up to R. Isaac and kissed him, saying, 'Many a time have I asked this question, but not until now have I received a real answer.' R. Jose further asked him: 'In which place and from whom did Balaam derive all his magical practices and knowledge?' R. Isaac replied: 'He learned it first from his father, but it was in the "mountains of the East", which are in an eastern country, that he obtained a mastery of all the arts of magic and divination. For those mountains are the abode of the angels Uzza and Azael whom the Holy One cast down from heaven, and who were chained there in iron fetters. It is they who impart to the sons of men a knowledge of magic. Hence the Scripture says: "From Aram Balak bringeth me, the King of Moab, from the mountains of the East" (Num. XXIII, 7).' 'But,' said R. Jose, 'is it not written, "and he went not as at the other times to meet with enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness" (Ibid. XXIV, 1)?' Said R. Isaac to him: 'The lower side, which comes from the unclean spirit above, was the unclean spirit prevailing in the wilderness when Israel made the calf in order to defile themselves therewith; and Balaam tried every device of magic [126b] to uproot Israel, but without success.' Said R. Jose: 'You rightly said that when the serpent had carnal intercourse with Eve he injected into her defilement. We have, however, been taught that when Israel stood at Mount Sinai that defilement left them. But only Israel, who have received the Torah, were freed from it; whereas all the other nations, the idolaters, remained infected with it.' R. Isaac said: 'What you say is right. But observe that the Torah was only given to males, as it is written, "And this is the law which Moses set before the sons of Israel" (Deut. IV, 44), so that women are exempt from the precepts of the Torah. Furthermore, after they sinned they reverted to their former state of infection, of which it is more difficult for a woman to rid herself than for a man. Hence greater numbers of women are found to be addicted to magic and lasciviousness than men, as they come from the left side, and so are under the aegis of the divine rigour, and this side cleaves to them more than to men. Here is a proof of what I have just said, namely, that Balaam polluted himself first in order to draw unto himself the unclean spirit. During the period of a woman's menstruation a man must keep away from her, as then she is in close touch with the unclean spirit, and therefore at such a period she will be more successful in the use of magical arts than at any other time. Whatever thing she touches becomes unclean, and all the more so any man coming too near her. Happy are Israel, to whom the Holy One gave the Torah containing the precept, "and thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is impure by her uncleanness" (Lev. XVIII, 19).' R. Jose asked: 'Why is one who attempts to interpret the chirping of birds called nahash (magician, also "serpent")?' R. Isaac replied: 'Because such a one certainly comes from the left side, as the unclean spirit hovers over such a bird and imparts to it [127a] a knowledge of future events; and all unclean spirits are attached to the serpent (nahash), from whom none can escape, since he is with everyone and will remain so until the time when the Holy One will remove him from the world, as already said, and as it is written, "He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, etc." (Is. XXV, 8), and also, "and the unclean spirit I will cause to pass out of the land" (Zech. XIII, 2).'

R. Judah said: 'Abraham recognised the cave of Machpelah by a certain mark, and he had long set his mind and heart on it. For he had once entered that cave and seen Adam and Eve buried there. He knew that they were Adam and Eve because he saw the form of a man, and whilst he was gazing a door opened into the Garden of Eden, and he perceived the same form standing near it. Now, whoever looks at. the form of Adam cannot escape death. For when a man is about to pass out of the world he catches sight of Adam and at that moment he dies. Abraham, however, did look at him, and saw his form and yet survived. He saw, moreover, a shining light that illumined the cave, and a lamp burning. Abraham then coveted that cave for his burial place, and his mind and heart were set upon it. Observe now with what tact Abraham made his request for a burial place for Sarah. He did not ask at first for the cave, neither did he indicate any desire to separate himself from the people of the land, but simply said: GIVE ME A POSSESSION OF A BURYING PLACE WITH YOU, THAT I MAY BURY MY DEAD OUT OF SIGHT. Although he addressed himself to the sons of Heth, we cannot suppose that Ephron was not present then, since it says: Now EPHRON WAS SITTING IN THE MIDST OF THE CHILDREN OF HETH. Abraham, however, did not at first say anything to him, but spoke only to them, as it says: AND HE SPOKE TO THE CHILDREN OF HETH, ETC. Now it cannot be imagined that Abraham wished to be buried among them, among the impure, or that he desired to mix with them. But Abraham acted tactfully, giving a lesson to the [127b] world. Though his whole desire was centred on that cave, he did not ask for it forthwith, but asked for something else of which he had no need, and he addressed his request to the others, not to Ephron himself. It was only after they said to him in the presence of Ephron: "Hear us, my lord; thou art a mighty prince among us, etc." that he said, "hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, etc." Abraham as much as said: Do not think that I wish to separate from you as being superior to you. No, in the midst of you I desire to be buried, for as I am fond of you I do not wish to keep aloof from you.'

R. Eleazar said: 'Abraham came to enter the cave in this way. He was running after that calf of which we read, "and Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf" (Gen. XVIII, 7), and the calf ran until it entered a cave, and then Abraham entered after it and saw what we have described. Further, Abraham used to offer up his prayer daily, and in so doing used to proceed as far as that field, which emitted heavenly odours. Whilst there he saw a light issuing from the cave, so that he prayed on that spot, and on that spot the Holy One communed with him. On that account Abraham now asked for it, having always longed for it since then. Why did not he ask for it before that time? Because the people would not have listened to him, as he had no obvious need for it. Now that he needed it, he thought it was time to demand it. Observe that had Ephron seen inside the cave what Abraham saw, he would never have sold it to him. But he never saw there anything, since such things are never revealed except to their rightful owner. It was thus revealed to Abraham and not to Ephron: to Abraham, who was its rightful owner, but not to Ephron, [128a] who had no part or portion in it, and who therefore only saw darkness in it; and for that reason he sold it. Nay, he even sold him more than he had mentioned in his original request. For Abraham only said, "that he may give me the cave of Machpelah which he hath ... for the full price let him give it to me", whereas Ephron said, "the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein", as he felt indifferent to the whole thing, not realising what it was.

'Observe that when Abraham entered the cave for the first time he saw there a bright light, and as he advanced, the ground lifted, revealing to him two graves. Adam then arose in his true form, saw Abraham and smiled at him. (Abraham thereby knew that there he was destined to be buried.) Abraham then said to him: "Could you tell me, is there not a tent for me close to you ?" Adam replied: "The Holy One buried me here, and from that time until now I have been lying hid like a corn seed in the ground, until thou camest into the world. But from now there is salvation for me and for the world for thy sake." Hence it is written, AND THE FIELD AND THE CAVE THAT IS THEREIN AROSE, that is, there was literally an arising before the presence of Abraham, as up to that time nothing there had been visible, but now what had been hidden rose up, and thus the whole spot was devoted to its lawful purpose.' R. Simeon said: 'When Abraham brought Sarah in there for burial, Adam and Eve arose and refused to receive her. They said: "Is not our shame already great enough before the Holy One in the other world on account of our sin, which brought death into the world, that ye should come to shame us further with your good deeds ?" Abraham made answer: "I am already destined to make atonement before the Almighty for thee, so that thou mayest nevermore be shamed before Him." Forthwith Abraham after this buried Sarah [128b] his wife, to wit, after Abraham had taken upon himself this obligation. Adam then returned to his place, but not Eve, until Abraham came and placed her beside Adam, who received her for his sake. Hence the text says, AND AFTER THIS, ABRAHAM BURIED (eth) SARAH HIS WIFE: the augmenting particle eth indicates that the burial included, as it were, Eve. Thus they were all settled in their proper places. Hence the Scripture says, "These are the generations of heaven and earth when they were created (b'hibar'am)" (Gen. II, 4), which according to tradition, means "on account of Abraham" (b'Abraham). Now "the generations of the heaven and the earth" can only be Adam and Eve, they having been the direct issue of the heaven and earth and not of human parents, and it was they who became established through Abraham: before Abraham, Adam and Eve were not established in their places in the other world.'

R. Eleazar asked his father, R. Simeon, for an explanation of the term Machpelah (lit. "twofold", or "folded"). 'How is it,' he said, 'that first it is written "the cave of Machpelah", and subsequently "the cave of the field of Machpelah", implying that the field and not the cave was "Machpelah" (doubled)?' R. Simeon replied: 'The term Machpelah belongs properly neither to the cave nor to the field, but to something else with which both were connected. The cave belongs to the field, and the field to something else. For the whole of the Land of Israel and of Jerusalem is folded up beneath it, since it exists both above and below, in the same way as there is a Jerusalem both above and below, both of the same pattern. The Jerusalem above has a twofold attachment, above and below; similarly the Jerusalem below is linked to two sides, higher and lower. Hence it is folded in two; and that field partakes of the same character, seeing that it is therein situated. The same reference is contained in the passage, "as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed" (Gen. XXVII, 27), to wit, both above [129a] and below. Hence its name, "field of folding", but not "folded field". Further, the esoteric implication of the term Machpelah relates it to the Divine Name, in which the letter He is doubled, though both are as one. It is, indeed, true that the cave was a twofold one, a cave within a cave, yet the name "cave of the field of Machpelah" has a different connotation, as already explained. Abraham, on his part, who knew its true character, in speaking to the children of Heth called it simply "cave of Machpelah", as if to imply merely "double cave", which it also was in fact. Scripture, however, describes it as "the cave of the field of Machpelah", this being its true description. For the Holy One has disposed all things in such a way that everything in this world should be a replica of something in the world above, and that the two should be united so that His glory should be spread above and below. Happy the portion of the righteous in whom the Holy One finds pleasure both in this world and in the world to come!'

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

Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:59 pm

Part 2 of 2

AND ABRAHAM WAS OLD, HE HAD COME INTO DAYS; AND THE LORD BLESSED ABRAHAM IN ALL THINGS. R. Judah discoursed on the verse: Happy is the man whom thou choosest and bringest near, that he may dwell in thy courts (Ps. LXV, 5). 'This verse', he said, 'may be explained as follows. Happy is the man whose ways are found right before the Holy One and in whom He finds pleasure so as to bring him near to Himself. Observe how Abraham strove to come nearer and nearer to Him, making Him the object of his longing the whole of his days. Not just one day, or just every now and then, but by his works advancing day by day from grade to grade, until he rose, when he was old, to the higher grades proper to him. Hence we read that when Abraham was old he "came into days", i.e. he entered into those supernal days, the days familiar in the doctrine of true faith. Further, "the Lord blessed Abraham in all things (ba-kol)", the region called kol (all) being the source whence issue all boons and blessings. Happy are the penitent who in the space of one day, one hour, nay, one second, can draw near to [129b] the Holy One, as near as even the truly righteous in the space of many years. Abraham did not reach that high grade until he was old, as already said. So, too, David, of whom it is written, "and King David was old, he came into days" (I Kings I, 1). But the penitent immediately finds entrance, and is brought close to the Holy One, blessed be He.' R. Jose said: 'We have been taught that the place assigned to the penitent in the next world is one where even the wholly righteous are not permitted to enter, as the former are the nearest of all to the King; they are more devoted and strive more intently to draw near to the King. For there are many abodes prepared by the Holy One, blessed be He, for the righteous in the next world, each one according to his grade. It is written: "Happy is the man whom thou choosest, and bringest near, that he may dwell in thy courts", that is, those whom the Holy One brings near unto Him, those souls who mount from below on high so as to possess themselves of the heritage prepared for them; "that he may dwell in thy courts", to wit, the outer halls and grades, referred to in the words, "then I will give thee free access among these that stand by" (Zech. 111, 7), i.e. a grade among the supernal holy angels. Those who attain that grade are messengers of the Lord, on an equality with the angels, and are constantly being used in the service of their Master, because in life they always strove to remain holy and keep afar from impurity. Contrariwise, whoever pollutes himself in this world draws to himself the spirit of uncleanness, and when his soul leaves him the unclean spirits pollute it, and its habitation is among them. For according to a man's strivings in this world is his habitation in the next world; hence such a man is polluted by the spirits of uncleanness and cast into Gehinnom. Thus whoever sanctifies himself and is on his guard against defilement in this world finds his habitation in the next world among the supernal holy [130a] angels, where they carry out God's messages. These are they who abide in the court-"the court of the Tabernacle" (Ex. XXVII, 9). But there are others who penetrate further, of whom David said, "we will be satisfied with the goodness of thy house" (Ps. LXV, 5). (The use of the term "we" here instead of "he", as we should have expected, is explained by the dictum that in the Temple Court no seats are permitted save to the kings of the Davidic dynasty.) Still further within is a compartment reserved for the pious of a higher grade, referred to in the verse, "and those that were to pitch before the tabernacle eastward, before the tent of meeting toward the sunrising, were Moses and Aaron and his sons, etc." (Num. III, 38). Thus there is in the next world a gradation of glorious abodes and resplendent lights, each outshining the other.

'As the works of the righteous differ in this world, so do their places and lights differ in the next world. Further, it has been laid down that even in this world, when men sleep at night and their souls leave them and flit about through the world, not every one alike rises to behold the glory of the Ancient of Days, but each one in proportion to a man's constancy of attachment to God and to his good deeds. The soul of the man who is besmirched, when it leaves the body asleep, meets with throngs of unclean spirits of the infernal orders traversing the universe, who take her up and to whom she clings. They disclose to her events about to come to pass in the world; occasionally they delude her with false information. This has been already stated elsewhere. But the soul of the worthy man, when it leaves him in sleep, ascends and cleaves its way through the unclean spirits, which cry aloud, "Make way, make way! Here is one not belonging to our side!" The soul then ascends among the holy angels, who communicate to it some true information. When the soul is on its descent again, all those malignant bands are eager to meet it in order to obtain from it that information, in exchange for which they impart to it many other things. But the one thing it learnt from the holy angels is to those [130b] other things as grain to chaff. This is a rare privilege for one whose soul is still in this world. Similar adventures await the souls when they altogether leave the body to depart from this world. In their attempt to soar upwards they have to pass through many gates at which bands of demons are stationed. These seize the souls that are of their side and deliver them into the hands of Duma in order that he may take them into Gehinnom. They then seize them again and ascend, and make proclamation concerning them, saying, "These are they who transgressed the commands of their Lord." They then sweep through the universe and bring the souls back to Gehinnom. This procedure goes on for the whole of the first twelve months. After that they are assigned each to its appropriate place. On the other hand, the worthy souls soar upwards, as already explained, and are assigned the places corresponding to their merits. Happy, therefore, are the righteous, for whom many boons are reserved in the next world. But for none is a more interior abode reserved than for those who penetrate into the divine mystical doctrines and enter each day into close union with their Divine Master. Of such it is written, "What no eye hath seen, O God, beside thee, that will he do for those who wait for him" (Is. LXIV, 3). The word "wait" here has a parallel in the verse, "now Elihu had waited to speak unto Job" (Job XXXII, 4), and refers to those who are importunate for any word of esoteric wisdom, who study it minutely and patiently to discover its true significance and so to gain knowledge of their Lord. These are those in whom their Master glorifies Himself each day, who enter the company of the supernal holy angels, and pass through all the celestial gates without let or hindrance. Happy their portion in this world and the next!

'In this way Abraham penetrated into the Divine Wisdom and united himself with his Divine Master after he had duly prepared himself by a life of pious deeds. He thus merited those supernal days, and received blessings from the region whence all blessings flow, as it is written, "And the Lord blessed Abraham ba-kol" (in all things), where the term kol is the designation of the river the waters of which never fail.' R. Hiya said. 'Observe that Abraham abstained from intermarrying with other nations and from attaching himself to idolatrous peoples. For the women of idolatrous nations pollute their husbands and those who come into close contact with them. But Abraham, having penetrated into the mystic doctrines of Wisdom, knew the source whence the unclean spirits emerge to traverse the universe, and it was for this reason that he adjured his servant not to take a wife for his son from other nations.'

R. Isaac discoursed on the verse: And the dust returneth to the earth as it was, and the spirit returneth unto God who gave it (Eccl. XII, 7). He said: 'When the Holy One, blessed be He, created Adam, He took his dust from the site of the Temple and built his body out of the four comers of the world, all of which contributed to his formation. After that He poured over him the spirit of life, as it says, "and he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" (Gen. II, 7). Adam then arose and realised that he was both of heaven and of earth, and so he united himself to the Divine and was endowed with mystic Wisdom. Each son of man is, after the same model, a composite of the heavenly and the earthly; and all those who know how to sanctify themselves in the right manner in this world, when they beget a son cause the holy spirit to be drawn upon him from the region whence all sanctities emerge. Such are called the children of the Holy One; and as their bodies were formed in sanctity, so are they given a spirit from the supernal holy region. Observe that the day on which a man is about to depart from this world is a day of reckoning when the body and the soul in combination have to give an account of their works. The soul afterwards leaves him, and the body returns to the earth, both thus returning to their original source, where they will remain until the time when the Holy One will bring the dead to life again. Then God will cause the identical body and the identical soul to return to the world in their former state, as it is written, "Thy dead shall live, my dead bodies shall arise" (Is. XXVI, 19). The same soul is meanwhile stored up by the Holy One, thus returning to its original place, as it is written, "And the spirit returns to God who gave it" (Eccl. XII, 7). And at the time when the Holy One will raise the dead to life He will cause dew to descend upon them from His head. By means of that dew all will rise from the dust, as it says, "for thy dew is as the dew of lights" (Is. XXVI, 19), these being the supernal lights through which the Almighty will in future pour forth life upon the world. For [131a] the tree of life exudes life unceasingly into the universe. Life in the present dispensation is cut short through the influence of the evil serpent, whose dominion is symbolised by the darkened moon. Under the same influence the celestial waters, as it were, fail, and life is not dispensed in the world in proper measure. At that time, however, the evil tempter, who is none other than the evil serpent, will be removed from the world by the Almighty and disappear, as it is written, "and I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the earth" (Zech. XIII, 2). After he disappears the moon will no more be obscured, and the waters of the celestial river will flow on perennially. Then will be fulfilled the prophecy, "Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of the seven days, etc." (Is. xxx, 26).'

Said R. Hizkiah: 'If it be so that all the dead bodies will rise up from the dust, what will happen to a number of bodies which shared in succession the same soul?' R. Jose answered: 'Those bodies which were unworthy and did not achieve their purpose will be regarded as though they had not been: as they were a withered tree in this world, so will they be regarded at the time of the resurrection. Only the last that had been firmly planted and took root and prospered will come to life, as it says, "For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters ... but its foliage shall be luxuriant, etc." (Jer. XVII, 8). This alludes to the body that struck deep root, produced fruit and prospered. But of the former body which remained fruitless, which did not take root, which was unworthy and did not achieve its end, it is written, "For he shall be like a tamarisk in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh, etc." (Ibid. 6), i.e. he will not be included in the resurrection, and will not see the light stored up at the Creation for the delectation of the righteous, regarding which it says, "And God saw the light that it was good" (Gen. 1,4), and also, "But unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise, etc." (Mal. III, 20). The Holy One will thus in the future raise the dead to life again, and the good principle will prevail in the world and the Evil One will vanish from the world, as already said, and the previous bodies will be as though they never had been.' Said R. Isaac: 'For such bodies the Holy One will provide other spirits, and if found worth) they will obtain an abiding in the world, but if not, they will be ashes under the feet of the righteous, as it is written, "and many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, etc." (Dan. XII, 2). All then will rise up and will be ranged before the Holy One, who will enumerate them, as it were, as it says, "He that bringeth out their host by number" (Is. XL, 26). Observe that it has been laid down that the dead of the Land of Israel will be the first to rise, and of them it is written, "Thy dead shall live" (Ibid. XXVI, 19). On the other hand, the words "my dead bodies shall arise" (Ibid.) allude to the dead of other lands, since instead of "shall live" it says "shall arise". The living spirit, in fact, will only infuse the bodies in the Land of Israel. "Thy dead", then, "shall live". But the other dead bodies will rise without the spirit of life, and only after they shall have rolled themselves underground and reached the Land of Israel will they receive souls -- only there, but not in other realms -- so that they may be really resurrected.' R. Eleazar and R. Jose were one night studying the Torah. Said R. Eleazar: 'Observe that at the time when the Holy One will bring the dead back to life, all the souls mustered before Him will bear each a form identical with the one it bore in this world. The Holy One will bring them down, and will call them by their names, as it says, "He calleth them all by name" (Ibid. XL, 26). Every soul will then enter into its own place, and the dead will be fully resurrected, and the world will thus reach its consummation. Of that time it is written, "And the reproach of his people will he take away from off all the earth" (Ibid. XXV, 8), which is a reference to the evil tempter, who darkens the faces of men and leads them astray.'

R. Jose, interposing, said: 'How is it that a man whilst the spirit of life is in him is not a source of defilement, whereas after his soul leaves him he becomes a source of defilement?' R. Isaac replied: 'Assuredly this is the law, and the explanation given is that the evil tempter, in the act of taking away the spirit of a man, defiles it, and thus the body is left in a state of defilement. This, however, is not the case with idolatrous nations. For since they carry defilement during life, as their souls are derived from the side of defilement, when this defilement is removed the body remains without any defilement whatever. For this reason [131b] whoever forms an attachment with a woman of any of the idolatrous nations becomes defiled, and the offspring born from such an attachment receives a defiled spirit. It may be asked why, seeing that the father is an Israelite, the offspring should receive a defiled spirit. The reason is that as soon as the father attached himself to that woman, defilement entered into him. Now if the father became defiled through the unclean woman, how much more must the offspring born of her be defiled to its very spirit. Such a man, moreover, transgresses the precept of the Torah, contained in the words, "For thou shalt bow down to no other god; for the Lord whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Ex. XXXIV,14), i.e. He is jealous for the sanctity of the holy covenant.'

R. Eleazar said: 'Observe that, as has been stated elsewhere, our father Abraham, after he acquired Wisdom, determined to keep separate from all other nations and not to enter into matrimonial alliance with them. Hence we read: AND I WILL MAKE THEE SWEAR BY THE LORD, THE GOD OF HEAVEN AND THE GOD OF EARTH, THAT THOU SHALT NOT TAKE A WIFE FOR MY SON OF THE DAUGHTERS OF THE CANAANITES, ETC. The words "daughters of the Canaanites" are parallel to the expression "daughters of a strange god" (Mal. II, II). So, too, the word "I" (Anokhi) which follows is a reference to the Deity, as in the verse, "I (Anokhi) made the earth." The purpose of this injunction was to save Isaac from being defiled by them. For whoever impairs the sanctity of the holy covenant by contact with a woman of an idolatrous nation causes the defilement of a certain other place, alluded to in the passage, "For three things the earth doth quake, etc." (Prov. XXX,21). And although Abraham adjured his servant by the holy covenant, he did not feel satisfied until he had made supplication on his behalf to the Holy One, blessed be He, saying: THE LORD, THE GOD OF HEAVEN ... MAY HE SEND HIS ANGEL BEFORE THEE, ETC., to wit, "the angel of the covenant", so that the covenant might be preserved in its sanctity, and not be defiled among the nations. He continued: BEWARE THOU THAT THOU BRING NOT MY SON BACK THITHER. Why so? Because Abraham knew that none among those nations had knowledge of the true God like himself, and so he desired that Isaac should not settle among them, but should continue to dwell with him, so that he might constantly learn the way!: of the Holy One, and turn neither to the right nor to the left.' R. Jose said: 'Of a certainty the merits of Abraham stood his servant in good stead, for on the very day on which he set out he reached the fountain, as it says, AND I CAME THIS DAY UNTO THE FOUNTAIN.'

R. Eleazar discoursed on the verse: Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law (Ps. CXIX,18). 'How devoid of discernment,' he said, 'are those sons of men who abide in ignorance of the Torah and pay no regard to its study. For it is the Torah that spells life and freedom and felicity in this world and in the world to come. It is life in this world, earning for its devotees fulness of days, as it says, "the number of thy days I will fulfil" (Ex. XXIII, 26), as well as length of days in the world to come; for the Torah is the very fulness of life, life of bliss without any gloom; it is freedom in this world, complete freedom; for when a man applies himself to the study of the Torah all the nations of the world cannot prevail against him. Such a one also obtains deliverance from the angel of death, who has no power over him. (You may object, What of the martyrs who suffered in times of persecution, such as R. Akibah and his colleagues? These suffered, however, under a special decree from on high in accordance with a special purpose.) Assuredly, had Adam held fast to the tree of life, which is nothing else but the Torah, he would not have brought death upon himself and upon the rest of the world. Hence, in connection with the giving of the Law it is written, "Heruth (freedom) on the tables" (Ex. XXXII, 16), as explained elsewhere. And had Israel not sinned and forsaken the tree of life they would not have brought death anew into the world. Hence God could say to them, in the words of the Psalmist, "I said, Ye are godlike beings, and all of you sons of the Most High" (Ps. LXXXII, 6), but ye have done hurt to yourselves, and so: "verily like Adam shall ye die, etc." (Ibid.). Thus whoever applies himself to the study of the Torah is not subject to the power of the evil serpent, the darkener of the world.' R. Yesa put the question: 'If that is so, why did Moses die, he having committed no sin?' R. Eleazar replied: 'Moses assuredly died, but not by the power of the evil serpent, and so he was not defiled by his hands. Besides, from another aspect, he did not die, [132a] but was only drawn up by the Shekinah and departed to eternal life, as has already been explained in connection with the passage, "And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a living man, etc." (II Sam. XXIII, 20). [2] Thus whoever applies himself to the study of the Torah attains perfect freedom: freedom in this world from the bondage of the idolatrous nations, and freedom in the next world, as no accusation will be brought against him there. For the Torah contains sublime and recondite truths, as it says, "she is more precious than rubies" (Prov. III, 15). Treasures innumerable are indeed concealed therein, so that David, when he considered the Torah in the spirit of wisdom, and realised how many wondrous truths unfold themselves therefrom, was moved to exclaim, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy Law" (Ps. CXIX, 18).'

***

AND IT CAME TO PASS, THAT BEFORE HE HAD DONE SPEAKING, .BEHOLD, REBEKAH WENT OUT. Instead of "went out" (yozeth) we should have expected "came" (baah). The implication is that God brought her away from the people of the town, and made her an exception to them. AND SHE WENT DOWN TO THE FOUNTAIN. This fountain was none other than the well of Miriam; hence the word "to" here is expressed by the letter he (ha-'aynah). According to another explanation, the term "went out", like the similar term in the passage, "young maidens going out to draw water" (I Sam. IX, 11), implies modesty, that is, that they kept at home and only went out at a certain hour to draw water. This was the sign by which Abraham's servant recognised her. For when he reached Haran and met Rebekah "at the time of evening" it was the time of the afternoon prayer (minhah). Thus the moment when Isaac began the afternoon prayer coincided with the moment when the servant encountered Rebekah. So, too, it was at the very moment of his afternoon prayer that Rebekah came to Isaac himself. Thus all was fitly disposed through the working of the Divine Wisdom. It was as part of the same scheme that the servant came to the well of water, the ·inner significance of which is to be found in the passage, "Thou art a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and flowing streams from Lebanon" (S.S. IV, 15).

R. Simeon was once on his way to Tiberias in company with R. Abba. Said R. Simeon to him, 'Let us proceed, for I foresee that a man will come up to us who has something new to say, some new expositions of the Torah.' Said R. Abba: 'Verily I know that wherever you go the Holy One sends you winged angels to entertain you.' When they had gone a little further, R. Simeon raised his eyes and saw a man running along. R. Simeon and R. Abba then sat down. When the man came up to them R. Simeon asked him, 'Whence art thou ?' He said, 'I am a Judean and am coming from Cappadocia, and I am on my way to the abode of the son of Yohai, to whom the companions sent me in order to communicate certain decisions to which they have come.' R. Simeon said to him, 'Speak, my son.' The man asked, 'Art thou the son of Yohai?' 'I am,' was the reply. The man then said: 'It is an established rule that a man whilst praying should not let anything interpose between himself and the wall, as it is written, "then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall" (Is. XXXVIII, 2); and it is further forbidden to pass within four cubits of the man who stands in prayer, and they have now laid down that this means on any side save directly in front of him. Further, that a man may not pray standing behind his teacher, etc. These are the decisions of the companions.' The man then discoursed on the verse: Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; keep not silence at my tears (Ps. XXXIX, 13). 'Why', he asked, 'is the word for "hear" in this place written shim'ah instead of the usual sh'ma'? The truth is that the form sh'ma' is always addressed to the male aspect of the Deity, whereas the form shim'ah is addressed to the female aspect. Hence the term shim'ah is used because it is addressed to that grade which receives all the prayers of mankind, and, according to our tradition, weaves them into a crown which it puts on the head of the Zaddik, the life of the universe, referred to in the words, "Blessings upon the head of the Just One" (Prov. X, 6). Further, the words "Hear, O Lord, my prayer" allude to silent prayer, whereas the succeeding words "and give ear unto my cry" refer to prayer which a man cries aloud in his anguish, as we read, "and their cry came up to God" (Ex. II, 23). (The term shav'atham (their cry) indicates the raising of the voice and the raising of the eyes towards heaven; it is akin to the term sho'a (turning) in the passage "and turning (v'sho'a) to the mount" (Is. XXII, 5).) Such a prayer [132b] breaks through all gates and ascends to heaven. "Keep not silence at my tears": prayerful tears ascend before the King, no gate can withstand them, and they are never turned away empty. Further, there are in this passage three grades of supplication: prayer, cry, and tears, corresponding to the three grades mentioned in the verse, "For I am a stranger with thee, a sojourner, as all my fathers were" (Ps. XXXIX, 13). First "a stranger", then "a sojourner", and last "as all my fathers", who were the basis of the world. Observe that there are two categories of prayer, one to be said standing and the other sitting, although they form but one whole. There are also two phylacteries, one for the arm and one for the head, corresponding to day and night, the two again making one whole. The sitting prayer corresponds to the arm phylactery, which prepares and adorns it like a bride before entering under the bridal canopy. So the prayer is surrounded and escorted, mystically speaking, by the chariots and legions mentioned in the prayer, "Creator of ministering spirits.... And the Ophanim and holy Hayoth ... " This prayer, therefore, is recited sitting, but when the prayer approaches the Supreme King and He is about to receive it, then we are to stand up before the most high King, for then the male is united with the female. Hence there must be no interruption between the redemption benediction at the end of the sitting prayer and the beginning of the standing prayer. Also, since one is standing before the Supreme King, he must on concluding step backwards four cubits, which has been explained to be a divine measure. Thus, whatever part of the prayer is symbolic of the male principle has to be recited standing. Similarly the supplicant bends his knee at the utterance of barukh (blessed be), and erects himself to his full height at the utterance of the Divine Name, to symbolise the superiority of the male over the female. Observe, further, that we have laid down that one should not while praying stand immediately behind his teacher. The reason is this. It is written: "Thou shalt fear the (eth) Lord thy God" (Deut. VI, 13). The particle eth here indicates that the teacher is associated with God as the object of fear. Hence during prayer a man should not be faced with that object of fear, so that he may be filled exclusively with the fear of the Holy One alone without any adjunct. Isaac instituted afternoon prayer in the same way as Abraham instituted morning prayer. Each of them instituted the prayer corresponding with the grade to which he was attached. Hence the time for the afternoon prayer begins with the sun's decline towards the west, inasmuch as the period preceding that time, from the dawn onward, is termed day, as in the passage, "the mercy of God endureth the whole day" (Ps. LII, 3). Nor can it be said that "the whole day" lasts until darkness sets in, since it is written, "Woe unto us, for the day hath departed, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out" (Jer. VI, 4). This shows that the term "day" is limited to the time for receiving the morning prayer, of which it is written, "the mercy of God endureth the whole day", for at that time the sun is still on the east side. As soon as the sun declines in its passage towards the west, the time of the afternoon prayer sets in, as the day has already departed, and has given place to the shadows of the evening, when the quality of rigour asserts itself. "The day has departed", that is, the period when the grade of mercy (hesed) prevails, and "the shadows of the evening are stretched out", at what time there rages the grade of rigour, that very hour when the Sanctuary was destroyed and the Temple burnt down. For this reason tradition teaches us that a man should be careful not to miss the afternoon prayer, as then is the time when the world is under the aegis of rigour. Jacob instituted evening prayer ('arbith), thereby causing the letter Vau (symbolic of Jacob) to supplement the letter He (symbolic of Isaac), which is nourished by the Vau, having no light of its own. For that reason the evening prayer is optional, inasmuch as it is a continuation of the day prayer, having for its aim to illumine the obscurity of the night. That obscurity prevails until midnight, at which hour the Holy One disports Himself with the righteous in the Garden of Eden. Hence it is an opportune time for a man to busy himself in the study of the Torah, as already explained elsewhere. Observe that David in his psalms made allusion to the three periods of prayer, in the words, "Evening, and morning, and at noonday, do I meditate, and moan" (Ps. LV, 18). Here we have allusion to three periods, although David himself observed only two prayers, one alluded to in "do I meditate" and the second in "and moan". The first is the prayer of the morning, the period of mercy; hence "meditating" suffices. The second is the prayer of the afternoon, the period of rigour; hence, "and I do moan". At midnight David arose to chant songs and hymns, [133a] as it is written, "and in the night his song is with me" (Ps. XLII, 9).'

R. Simeon then rose up and they proceeded on their way, the stranger accompanying them as far as Tiberias. On the way R. Simeon said: 'Observe that the members of the Great Synod [3] instituted the prayers in correspondence to the fixed daily offerings, of which there were two, as it is written, "the one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer between the two evenings" (Num. XXVIII, 4), that is, at the two periods which coincide with the periods of prayer.' Said the stranger: 'Since originally it was the patriarchs who instituted the prayers, why should those instituted by Abraham and Isaac be of primary importance, while the one instituted by Jacob, who was the cream of the patriarchs, be only voluntary?' R. Simeon replied: 'The reason, as has been affirmed, is as follows: The two periods of the two earlier prayers have for their object only to unite Jacob to his heritage, but once this has been effected we need nothing further: as soon as the Woman is placed between the two arms and is joined to the Body, nothing more is needed. The two prayers are thus the two arms between which Jacob is united to the body, that is, to heaven, in accordance with the verse, "but thou, O Lord, art on high for evermore" (Ps. XCII, 9). All this contains deep mysteries known only to the initiated.' R. Abba and the Judean then approached R. Simeon and kissed his hand, after which R. Abba remarked: 'Until this day I always found here a difficulty, but now happy is my portion that I have been privileged to solve it!'

***

AND ISAAC BROUGHT HER INTO THE TENT (OF) SARAH HIS. MOTHER. R. Jose remarked: 'The letter hi at the end of the word haohelah (into the tent) is a reference to the Shekinah, which now returned to the tent. For during the whole of Sarah's life the Shekinah did not depart from it, and a light used to burn there from one Sabbath eve to the other; once lit, it lasted all the days of the week. After her death the light was extinguished, but when Rebekah came the Shekinah returned and the light was rekindled. Thus the verse reads literally: "And he brought her into the tent -- Sarah his mother", the last phrase implying that Rebekah was in all her works a replica of Sarah his mother.' R. Judah said: 'Just as Isaac was the very image of Abraham, so that whoever looked at Isaac said, "there is Abraham", and knew at once that "Abraham begat Isaac", so was Rebekah the very image of Sarah. She was thus, so to say, in the phrase of our text, "Sarah his mother".' R. Eleazar said: 'All this is truly said. But observe a deeper mystery here. For, verily, although Sarah died, her image did not depart from the house. It was not, however, visible for a time, but as soon as Rebekah came it became visible again, as it is written, "and he brought her into the tent -- Sarah his mother", as much as to say, "and forthwith Sarah his mother made her appearance". No one, however, saw her save Isaac, and thus we understand the words, "and Isaac was comforted after his mother", that is, after his mother became visible and was installed in the house again.'

R. Simeon said: 'Why does the Scripture tell us with so much detail that Isaac TOOK REBEKAH, AND SHE BECAME HIS WIFE, AND HE LOVED HER? The last statement seems to be unnecessary, for naturally if she became his wife he loved her, as is the way of all men to love their wives. The explanation is that the attraction of the male to the female is derived from the left, as we read, "Let his left hand be under my head" (S. S. II, 6), the left being symbolic of night and darkness; hence although Abraham loved Sarah, the statement "and he loved her" is only mentioned in the case of Isaac (he being of the left). Of Jacob also it is written that he "loved Rachel" (Gen. XXIX, 18); but here the explanation is that this was due to the side of Isaac which was contained in him. Observe that Abraham, on seeing Sarah, only embraced her, and nothing more, whereas Isaac seized Rebekah and put his arm under her head, as it is written, "Let his left hand be under my head, and his right hand embrace me" (S. S. II, 6). Jacob afterwards had intercourse with his wives and begat twelve tribes. Observe, too, that all the patriarchs followed the same course, [133b] in that each one of them espoused four women. Abraham had four spouses, besides Sarah and Hagar, two concubines, as is seen from the passage, "but unto the sons of the concubines that Abraham had" (Gen. XXV, 6). Isaac had four spouses, in that Rebekah, mystically speaking, combined in herself the virtues of four women. This is indicated in Scripture in the following manner: "And he took Rebekah" alludes to one; "and she became his wife" indicates a second; "and he loved her" indicates a third; "and Isaac was comforted for his mother" makes four. Correspondingly, Jacob had four spouses; and one mystic purpose guided them all.' R. Hiya said: 'Abraham and Isaac had each one wife for a union of holiness, the one Sarah, the other Rebekah, and Jacob had as many as both together twice over, namely four.' R. Simeon said: 'It practically comes to the same thing, since all was arranged by a divine dispensation to one and the same mystical purpose.'

***

AND ABRAHAM TOOK ANOTHER WIFE, AND HER NAME WAS KETURAH. Keturah was none other than Hagar. For we know by tradition that though Hagar when she left Abraham went astray after the idols of her ancestors, yet in time she again attached herself to a life of virtue. Hence her name Keturah (lit. attached). Abraham then sent for her and took her to wife. From here we learn that a change of name acts as an atonement for sin, since that was the reason why her name was changed. The term vayoseph (lit. and he added) here indicates not that Abraham took another wife, but that he took again his former spouse whom he had driven out on account of Ishmael, and who had now abandoned her evil practices, and had made a change in her name symbolical of her change of life. Observe that R. Eleazar, in comment on the passage, "And Isaac brought her into the tent -- Sarah his mother", said that the form of Sarah was there revealed, and Isaac was comforted by virtue of this, as he looked at her image every day. But Abraham, although he married again, never entered Sarah's tent nor allowed that woman to enter there, for a handmaid may not be heir to her mistress. No other woman, in fact, ever appeared in Sarah's tent save Rebekah. And although Abraham knew that Sarah's image revealed itself there, he left the tent entirely to Isaac to behold each day his mother's form. This is indicated in the verse, AND ABRAHAM GAVE ALL THAT HE HAD UNTO ISAAC, where the expression "all that he had" indicates the form of Sarah that was installed in that dwelling. According to another explanation this verse indicates that Abraham transmitted to Isaac the exalted doctrine of the true faith, so that he should be attached to his rightful grade. BUT UNTO THE SONS OF THE CONCUBINES THAT ABRAHAM HAD ABRAHAM GAVE GIFTS. What sort of gifts were they? They comprised the sides of the low grades, that is to say, the names of the powers of the unclean spirit, so as to complete the whole list of grades. (Isaac was raised above those grades by the power of the true faith.) "The sons of the concubines" are the sons of Keturah, who had formerly been a concubine and was now once more a concubine.' R. Hiya said that the term "concubines" here in the plural must be taken literally. AND HE SENT THEM AWAY FROM ISAAC HIS SON, so that they should not be on a par with Isaac. WHILE HE YET LIVED, that is, while Abraham was yet alive and vigorous, so that they should not complain against him after his death, and so that Isaac might strengthen himself in the side of rigour so as to prevail over them all and make them all submit to him. EASTWARD, UNTO THE EAST COUNTRY: for the reason that there are the haunts of the impure practitioners of magic and witchcraft. Observe this. It is written: "And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the East" (I Kings V, 10). Herein is an allusion to the descendants of the very children of Abraham's concubines, who, as already said, inhabit the mountains of the East, where they instruct the sons of men in the arts of magic and divination. It was this very land of the East from which came Laban and Beor and his son Balaam, who were all magicians.'

R. Hizkiah discoursed on the verse: Who gave Jacob [134a] for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? Did not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned, and in whose ways they would not walk? (Is. XLII, 24). 'Observe,' he said, 'that since the destruction of the Temple, blessings have been withdrawn from the world, if one might say so, both on high and here below, so that all the lower grades are reinforced and exercise dominion over Israel on account of their sins. Now the verse just cited requires elucidation. For while it begins by speaking of Jacob and Israel in the third person, it goes off into the first, saying "he against whom we have sinned", and then reverts to the third person, saying "and they would not walk". The truth is that when the Sanctuary was destroyed and the Temple was burnt and the people driven into exile, the Shekinah left her home in order to accompany them into captivity. Before leaving, however, she took one last look at her House and the Holy of Holies, and the places where the priests and the Levites used to perform their worship. When she entered the land of exile she observed how the people were oppressed and trodden under foot by the nations, and she exclaimed, "Who gave Jacob for a spoil, etc. ?" And the reply of the people was: "he against whom we have sinned". Then the Shekinah echoed back: "And in whose ways they would not walk." So in the days to come, when the Holy One, blessed be He, will remember His people, the community of Israel, the Shekinah will return from exile first and proceed to her House, as the holy Temple will be built first. The Holy One, blessed be He, will then say to the Community of Israel: "Shake thyself from the dust, arise and sit down, O Jerusalem" (Is. LII, 2). She will enquire, "Whereto shall I go, since my House is destroyed, my Temple is burnt with fire ?" The Holy One, blessed be He, will then rebuild the Temple first, restore the Holy of Holies, build the city of Jerusalem and then raise her from the dust. So Scripture says: "The Lord doth build up Jerusalem" first, and then, "He gathereth together the dispersed of Israel", and afterwards, "Who healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds" (Ps. CXLVII, 2, 3) -- this being an allusion to the resurrection of the dead. Then wi11be fulfilled that which is written, "And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, etc." (Ezek. XXXVI, 27).

'Blessed be the Lord for evermore!'

_______________

Notes:

1. Metatron.

2. v.p. 6b.

3. A body which, according to Rabbinic tradition, regulated the affairs of the Jewish community during the lifetime of Ezra and for some time aft
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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:00 am

Part 1 of 2

TOL'DOTH

Gen. XXV, 19-XXVIII, 9

R. Hiya once discoursed on the text: Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord, or make all his praise to be heard? (Ps. CVI, 2). 'When God', he said, 'resolved to create the world, He used the Torah as the plan both of the whole and the parts. Hence Scripture says: "Then I was by him as a nursling, and I was [134b] daily all delight" (Prov. VIII, 30), where the word 'amon (nursling) may also be read 'oman (architect, designer). When God was about to create man the Torah remonstrated, saying: "Should man be created and then sin and be brought to trial before Thee, the work of Thy hand will be in vain, for he will not be able to endure Thy judgement." Whereto God replied: "I had already fashioned repentance before creating the world." When God created the world, He said to it: "O world, world! Thou and thy order are founded only upon the Torah, and therefore I have created man in thee that he may apply himself to its study; otherwise I will turn thee into chaos again." Hence Scripture says: "I have made the earth and created man upon it" (Is. XLV, 12). The Torah in truth continually calls to the sons of men to devote themselves to its study, but none gives ear. Yet whoever labours in the Torah upholds the world, and enables each part to perform its function. For there is not a member in the human body but has its counterpart in the world as a whole. For as man's body consists of members and parts of various ranks all acting and reacting upon each other so as to form one organism, so does the world at large consist of a hierarchy of created things, which when they properly act and react upon each other together form literally one organic body. Thus the whole is organised on the scheme of the Torah, which also consists of sections and divisions which fit into one another and, when properly arranged together, form one organic body. This reflection led David to exclaim: "How manifold are thy works, O Lord! In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy creatures" (Ps. CIV, 24). The Torah contains all the deepest and most recondite mysteries; all sublime doctrines, both disclosed and undisclosed; all essences both of the higher and the lower grades, of this world and of the world to come are to be found there, but there is no one [135a] to fathom its teachings. Hence it is written: "Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord, or make the whole of his praise to be heard ?" (Ps. CVI, 2). Solomon thought to penetrate to the innermost meanings of the Torah, but it baffled him and he exclaimed: "I said, I will get wisdom, but it was far from me" (Eccl. VII, 23). David said: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" (Ps. CXIX, 18). We read of Solomon that he "spoke three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and five" (I Kings V, 12), and tradition explains this to mean that each of his proverbs admitted of a thousand and five interpretations. Now if this could be said of the words of mere flesh and blood like Solomon, must we not perforce believe that each of the words of the Torah spoken by the Holy One, blessed be He, contains proverbs, songs, and hymns innumerable, sublime mysteries, and truths of Divine Wisdom? Hence: "Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord?".'

'We derive also another lesson from this verse. It is written "And these are the generations of Isaac" (Gen. XXV, 19), and a few verses before (Ibid. 12) the text says, "And these are the generations of Ishmael", and goes on to enumerate twelve princes. Seeing that Isaac had only two sons, we might think that in this respect Ishmael was superior to him. But in truth it is just in allusion to Isaac that Scripture exclaims: "Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord?" the term "mighty acts" being an allusion to Isaac. For Isaac begat Jacob, who in his own self excelled them all, and who further begat twelve tribes, through whom all both above and below were firmly established. Isaac was invested with the sanctity of the supernal world, whereas Ishmael was of the lower world. Hence it says: "Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord, or make the whole of his praise to be heard ?" the latter clause alluding to Jacob, as much as to say: "When the sun joins the moon innumerable stars are thereby illumined."'

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AND THESE ARE THE GENERATIONS OF ISAAC, ABRAHAM'S SON. 'Why', asked R. Jose, 'should Isaac be referred to just here, and here only, as "Abraham's son"? The reason is that with the death of Abraham Isaac assumed the image of his father, so that anyone looking at him could say "This is surely Abraham", and thus would be convinced that "Abraham begat Isaac".'

R. Isaac rose from his bed one night [135b] to study the Torah. R. Judah, who happened then to be in Caesarea, said to himself at the same time: 'I will go and join R. Isaac in the study of the Torah.' He accordingly set out along with his youthful son Hizkiah. As he was nearing R. Isaac's threshold he overheard him expound the verse: "And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son; and Isaac dwelt by Beer-lahai-roi" (Gen. XXV, II). 'The connection between the two parts of this verse', he said, 'is obscure, but may be explained as follows. It was necessary that God should bless Isaac, because Abraham had not blessed him, and the reason why Abraham had not blessed him was to prevent that blessing being transmitted to Esau. Hence the task of blessing fell, so to "peak, to the Almighty. The text thus continues: "And Isaac dwelt by Beer-lahai-roi" (lit. the well of the living and seeing one), that is, as the Aramaic paraphrase has it, "the well where appeared the Angel of the Covenant", to wit, the Shekinah, to which Isaac became attached, thereby drawing upon himself the blessing of the Almighty.' At that point R. Judah knocked at R. Isaac's door, entered the room and joined him. R. Isaac said: 'Now, the Shekinah herself is in our presence.' Said R. Judah : 'Your exposition of the term beer-lahai-roi is quite correct, but there is more in it than you have said.' He then began to discourse thus. 'It is written: A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and flowing streams from Lebanon (S. S. IV, 15). "A fountain of gardens" is a description of Abraham; "a well of living waters" is a description of Isaac, of whom it is written: "And Isaac dwelt by the well of the living and seeing one (beer-lahai-roi)." The "well" is none other but the Shekinah; "the living one" is an allusion to the Righteous One who lives in the two worlds, that is, who lives above, in the higher world, and who also lives in the lower world, which exists and is illumined through him, just as the moon is only illumined when she looks at the sun. Thus the well of existence literally emanates from "the living one" whom "it sees", and when it looks at him it is filled with living waters. (The word "living" is similarly used in the verse (136a] "And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a living man" (II Sam. XXIII, 20), i.e. a righteous man who illumines his generation as the living Deity above illumines the universe.) So the well constantly looks to the "living one" to be illumined. Further, the statement that Isaac dwelt by Beer-Ia1.lairoi teaches the same lesson as the statement "And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah" (Gen. XXV, 20), and abode with her and was united with her, symbolising in this way the union of darkness with night, as it is written: "His left hand under my head" (S. S. II, 6). Observe now that after Abraham's death Isaac remained in Kiriath-arba; how, then, it may be asked, can it say that he dwelt in Beer-lahai-roi? The answer is, to indicate that Isaac attached himself and held fast to that well in order to awaken the attribute of mercy, as already explained.'

R. Isaac discoursed on the verse: The sun shineth forth and the sun cometh in and hasteth to his place where he ariseth (Eccl. 1,5) . '"The sun shineth forth" from the supernal place where he is established, in order to cast his lustre on the moon, which only reflects the light of the sun; "and cometh in" in order to join the moon. "He goeth toward the South" (Ibid. I, 6), which is on the right and in which, therefore, his strength reposes (for all the strength of the body is on the right side); "and then turneth about to the North" (Ibid.), in order to impart light both to the one side and to the other. Further, "The wind turneth about continually and in its circuit" (Ibid.). Although the text here speaks of the wind and not of the sun, yet it is all one, and has the same inner meaning; all this is that the moon may be illumined from the sun and the two may be associated. Observe that when Abraham appeared in the world he embraced the moon and drew her near; when Isaac came he took fast hold of her and clasped her affectionately, as it says: "His left hand under my head" (S. S. II, 6). But when Jacob came the sun joined the moon and she became illumined, so that Jacob was found perfect on all sides, and the moon was encircled in light and attained completion through the twelve tribes.'

R. Judah discoursed on the verse: Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, etc. (Ps. CXXXIV, 1). 'This verse tells us', he said, 'that only those are truly worthy to bless the Almighty who are the servants of the Lord. For although it is true that every [136b] Israelite is regarded as fitted to bless the Almighty, yet only the servants of the Lord are worthy to offer those benedictions from which is diffused blessing in the upper and lower worlds. And who, then, are those servants of the Lord? "They that stand in the house of the Lord in the night seasons" (Ibid.), to wit, those who rise at midnight and keep vigil in the study of the Torah: these do "stand in the house of the Lord in the night seasons", as at that time the Holy One, blessed be He, comes to disport Himself with the righteous in the Garden of Eden. Since, then, we are passing the night in expounding the Torah, let us say something about Isaac, whom we have just mentioned.'

R. Isaac then began his discourse on the verse: AND ISAAC WAS FORTY YEARS OLD WHEN HE TOOK REBEKAH ETC. 'The number "forty" here', he said, 'has an esoteric significance, to wit, that Isaac when he took Rebekah comprised in himself the union of North and South and fire and water. Further, as the rainbow exhibits three colours, green, white, and red, so Rebekah was three years old when Isaac took her; and he begat offspring when he was sixty years old, this being a ripe age for producing a child like Jacob who should be endowed with all good qualities, according to God's design. THE DAUGHTER OF BETHUEL THE ARAMEAN, OF PADAN-ARAM, THE SISTER OF LABAN THE ARAMEAN. Why all these details, seeing that it has already been stated: "And Bethuel begat Rebekah etc."? (Gen. XXII,23). It is to emphasise the fact that although she was brought up among sinful people, being the daughter of Bethuel, and a native of Padan-Aram, and the sister of Laban the Aramean, and thus came from a wicked environment, yet she did not follow their ways, but distinguished herself in good and righteous deeds. Here a difficulty arises. If we could say that Rebekah was then twenty years old or more, or even thirteen years old, then we could indeed commend her for not imitating the conduct of her surroundings; but since, as previously said, she was only a child of three years, how can we ascribe to her any merit on this account?' R. Judah said in reply: 'Though she was but three years old, she had shown her character by what she did for Abraham's servant.' R. Isaac rejoined: 'In spite of all that she had done for him, one could not yet say positively that her character was really good. [137a] But we learn this from another source. It is written, "As a lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters" (S. S. II, 2). The lily may be taken as symbolic of the Community of Israel, which in the midst of its multitudes resembles a rose among thorns. But there is a more esoteric explanation of the verse, as follows. Isaac was derived from the side of Abraham, who was the embodiment of supernal grace (Hesed), and acted graciously towards all creatures, though he himself represented the attribute of severity. Rebekah, on the other hand, originated from the side of severity, but broke away from her kith and kin and joined Isaac; and in spite of her origin, she was of a mild disposition and gracious bearing, so that in the midst of the severity which characterised Isaac she was "as a lily among thorns". And if not for her gentleness the world would not have been able to endure the severity inherent in Isaac. In this manner God constantly mates couples of opposing natures, one, for example, of a stern with one of a mild type, so that the world preserves its balance.'

R. Judah followed with a discourse on the text: AND ISAAC ENTREATED THE LORD FOR HIS WIFE. 'The term "entreated" (vaye'tar)', he said, 'implies prayer accompanied by offerings, on an analogy with a kindred term in the passage, "So the Lord was entreated for the land" (II Sam. XXIV, 25), where also the prayer was accompanied by offerings. It is written here first, "And Isaac entreated", and then" And the Lord let himself be entreated", indicating that a celestial fire descended to meet the fire ascending from below. According to another explanation, the term vaye'tar (and he entreated) is akin to vayehtar (and he dug), signifying that Isaac in his prayer dug a tunnel, as it were, leading right up to the supernal department appointed over fecundity. He thus rose above the planetary influences (mazzal) in the same way as Hannah in her prayer, of whom it is written: "And she prayed unto ('ai', lit. upon) the Lord" (I Sam. I, 10). Similarly, the term vaye'ather (and he let himself be entreated) implies that the Lord Himself cleared a way for Isaac's prayer, with the result that "Rebekah his wife conceived". Observe that Isaac lived with his wife for twenty years without having children, the reason being that God delights in the prayer of the righteous, who thereby attain to higher sanctity and purification. He therefore withholds from them [137b] their needs until they offer their supplications. Now observe that Abraham did not supplicate God for children, notwithstanding that Sarah was barren (for when he said "Behold, to me thou hast given no seed" (Gen. XV, 3), he did not mean it as a prayer, but as a mere statement of fact); but Isaac did offer up prayer on behalf of his wife, as he felt confident that he himself was not sterile. This confidence was based on his inspired knowledge that Jacob was destined to issue from him and produce twelve tribes, but he could not tell whether it would be from his present wife or from another. Hence he entreated the Lord for his wife, not far Rebekah.' The youthful son of R. Judah here asked his father: 'If that is so, why did not Isaac love Jacob as much as Esau, knowing as he did that the former would rear twelve tribes ?' 'That is a good question,' said his father, 'and the answer is as follows. All creatures of the same kind love one another and are drawn to one another. Now we are told that Esau "came forth ruddy", a colour emblematic of severity. There was thus an affinity between Isaac, the representative of severity on high, and Esau, the embodiment of severity here below; and through this affinity Isaac loved him above Jacob. Hence we read: "And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his hunting", where the term zayid (hunting) suggests the same idea as the similar term in the verse: "Like Nimrod a mighty hunter (gibbor zayid) before the Lord" (Gen. x, 9).'

R. Isaac said: 'It is written: AND THE CHILDREN STRUGGLED TOGETHER WITHIN HER; AND SHE SAID, IF IT BE SO, WHEREFORE DO I LIVE? AND SHE WENT TO ENQUIRE OF THE LORD. Whither did she go? To the Academy of Shem and Eber. "And the children struggled together within her", for there already Esau declared war against Jacob. The term vayithrozzu (and they struggled) is akin to a root meaning "to break", and thus it implies that they broke asunder and drifted away from each other. Observe that the one was of the side of him who rides the serpent, whilst the other was of the side of Him who rides on the sacred and perfect throne; of the side [138a] of the sun that illumines the moon. And observe further that because Esau was drawn after that serpent, Jacob dealt with him crookedly like the serpent, who is cunning and goes crookedly, as we read: "And the serpent was more cunning etc." (Gen. III, 1). Jacob then dealt with him after the manner of the serpent in order to draw him further serpentward, so that he should separate further from himself and thus not have any share with him either in this world or in the world to come; and our teachers have said, "When a man comes to kill you, kill him first." It is written of Jacob: "In the womb he took his brother by the heel" (Hos. XII, 4), that is, he drew him downwards by [1] the heel. So it says: AND HIS HAND HAD HOLD ON ESAU'S HEEL, i.e. he put his hand on Esau's heel in order thereby to force him down. According to another explanation, the words "and his hand had hold" imply that he could not escape him entirely, but his hand was still clinging to his brother's heel. Esoterically speaking, the moon was obscured through the heel of Esau; hence it was necessary to deal with him cunningly, so as to thrust him downwards and make him adhere to the region assigned to him.'

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AND HE CALLED HIS NAME JACOB. It was God who called him so. (So, too, it is written lower down, "Hath he not rightly called his name Jacob ?" (Gen. XXVII, 36) and not "his name was called".) God saw that the primeval serpent was full of guile to do mischief, and so when Jacob appeared He said: "Behold, here is one who can stand up to him", and therefore He called him Ya'kob, akin to the term vaya'kebeni (and he acted toward me with guile) (Gen. XXVII, 35). It has already been pointed out that the simple term vayikra (and he called), as when it says, "and he called unto Moses", points to the lowest grade (of the Sephiroth). At no time did Jacob receive a name from a human being. So in another passage we find: "And the God of Israel called him El (God)" (Gen. XXXIII, 20), signifying that the God of Israel called Jacob by the name of "El" (God), as though to say, "I am the God of the supernal world and be thou the God of the world below". Observe that Jacob knew that Esau was destined to ally himself to that tortuous serpent, and hence in all his dealings with him he conducted himself like another tortuous serpent, [I38b] using all cunning devices; and so it was meet. The same idea was expressed by R. Simeon when, in expounding the verse, "And God created the great fishes, and every living creature that creepeth" (Gen. I, 21), he said: 'The "great fishes" are symbolic of Jacob and Esau, and "every living creature that creepeth" symbolises all the intermediate grades.' Verily Jacob was endowed with cunning to enable him to hold his own with that other serpent; and so it was meet. For the same reason every New Moon a goat is to be offered up so as to draw the serpent to his own place and thus keep him away from the moon. The same applies to the Day of Atonement, when a goat is to be offered. All this is cunningly devised in order to gain dominion over him, and make him impotent to do mischief. So Scripture says: "And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities into a land which is cut off" (Lev. XVI, 22), where the goat (sa'ir = Seir), as already explained, symbolises Esau. In all dealings with him cunning and craft are employed, in accordance with the words of the Scripture: "And with the crooked thou dost show thyself subtle" (Ps. XVIII, 27); and as the evil serpent is resourceful and crafty, trying to mislead the heavenly as well as the earthly beings, Israel anticipate him and counter him with similar ruses and devices so as to prevent him from working his evil will; just as Jacob, who was endowed with the true faith, in all his actions towards Esau had no aim but to prevent the serpent from defiling the Sanctuary or even approaching it, and so achieving dominion over the world. There was however, no need either for Abraham or for Isaac to use such tortuous ways, seeing that Esau, who was of the side of the serpent, had not yet appeared in the world. But Jacob, being the master of the household, had to counter the serpent, and to give him no chance to tarnish the Sanctuary of Jacob. Hence Jacob had need of such shifts more than any other person. Israel, therefore, was chosen as the portion of the heritage of the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written: "For the portion of the Lord is his people, Jacob the lot of his inheritance" (Deut. XXXII, 9).

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AND THE BOYS GREW. It was the side of Abraham which gave them their vitality, and his merit was their support. He trained them in observing the precepts, for so we read: "For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children etc." (Gen. XVIII, 19). R. Eleazar said: 'Each one of them took his own way, [139a] one to the side of true faith and the other to the side of idolatry; and they had already exhibited the same traits whilst in the womb of their mother, where each one of them inclined to his own side. Thus, whenever she was performing some good action or approaching a goodly spot in order to carry out some precept of the Torah, Jacob would gleefully thrust himself forward to come forth. But did she happen to pass near an idolatrous shrine, Esau would kick and struggle to come forth. Thus, when they were fully formed and emerged into the world, they separated, each one taking his own way and being drawn to the place befitting him.'

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AND ISAAC LOVED ESAU, FOR THE HUNTER'S CUNNING WAS IN HIS MOUTH. So we translate in accordance with what has been said above. A MAN OF THE FIELD: this means that he was a highwayman who robbed and murdered people, while all the time pretending to his father that he was abroad performing his prayers. Again, he was a field-man in that his portion was not cast in inhabited land but in wild and desolate places. It may be asked, how came Isaac to be unaware of Esau's evil deeds, seeing that the Shekinah was with him, as is proved by the fact of his subsequently blessing Jacob. The truth is that the Shekinah, although continually with him, did not reveal to him Esau's evil career in order that Jacob should receive his blessing not by the will of Isaac, but solely by the will of the Holy One, blessed be He. So it was destined to be, and when Jacob entered into the presence of his father the Shekinah accompanied him, and Isaac thus felt that there was before him one who was worthy of being blessed; and blessed he was by the will of the Shekinah.

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AND JACOB SOD POTTAGE; AND ESAU CAME IN FROM THE FIELD, AND HE WAS FAINT. R. Eleazar said: 'According to the received explanation, the pottage of lentils was a sign of mourning for the death of Abraham. But if so, we should have expected Isaac to have prepared it. The deeper explanation, therefore, is that Jacob cooked [139b] that pottage in virtue of his clear discernment of the side to which Esau adhered. Lentils form a red pottage which is cooling to hot blood. Hence Jacob purposely chose such a dish as a means of weakening the strength and power of Esau, and the effect was that Esau sold himself to Jacob as a slave and sold him his birthright. At that moment Jacob divined that for the sake of one he-goat that his descendants would bring as a sacrifice to Esau's grade, the latter would consent to be a slave to them and desist from attacking them.' R. Judah said: 'Of a like manner were Jacob's dealings with Laban, who was a magician, as it says: "1 have observed the signs, and the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake" (Gen. XXX, 27); and notwithstanding that Jacob is designated a "simple man", this means only that he was so in his dealings with anyone who deserved to be treated gently; but where cunning and severity were necessary, he could use these also. For he was of a twofold character, and to him could be applied the words: "With the merciful thou dost show thyself merciful.... And with the crooked thou dost show thyself subtle" (Ps. XVIII, 26-27), just as required.'

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AND THERE WAS A FAMINE IN THE LAND, BESIDE THE FIRST FAMINE, ETC. R. Judah discoursed here on the verse: The Lord trieth the righteous,. but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth (Ps. XI, 5). 'How goodly', he said, 'are the acts of the Holy One, blessed be He, all based upon justice and truth, as it says: "The Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice; a God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is he" (Deut. XXXII, 4). For He did not punish Adam, the first man, until He had given him precepts to keep him in the right path and save him from defilement; and not until he was unmindful and transgressed the command of his Master was he punished. [140a] Even then God did not exact the full penalty from him, but was long-suffering with him and permitted him to survive for one day -- to wit, a thousand years -- save seventy years which Adam presented of his allotted time to King David, who had none of his own. In like manner, the Almighty does not mete out punishment to a man in strict accordance with the evil deeds to which he is addicted, or else the world could not endure. God is thus long-suffering with the righteous, and even more so with the wicked. He is forbearing with the wicked in order that they may change in their ways in complete repentance and so establish themselves in this world and in the world to come, as Scripture says: "Have I any pleasure, saith the Lord God, in the death of the wicked, and not rather that he should return from his way and live" (Ezek. XVIII, 23), i.e. that he may live in this world and in the world to come. The Almighty is also forbearing with the wicked for the sake of the goodly seed which may spring from them for the benefit of the world, as there issued from Terah that goodly scion, Abraham, who was a blessing for the world. But with the righteous God is strict, as He knows that they will turn aside neither to the right nor to the left, and therefore He puts them to the test; not for His own sake, since He knows the firmness of their faith, but so as to glorify them the more. It was for this purpose that God -- as we read -- "proved (nissah) Abraham" (Gen. XXII, 1), or, as we may also translate, "He raised his banner aloft throughout the world" [for the term nissah (he proved) implies the lifting of an ensign, as it is written: "Lift up an ensign (nes) over the peoples" (Is. LXII, 10). The text continues: "The Lord trieth the righteous" (Ps. XI, 5). For what reason? Said R. Simeon: 'Because when God finds delight in the righteous, He brings upon them sufferings, as it is written: "Yet it pleased the Lord to crush him by disease" (Is. LIII, 10), as explained elsewhere. God finds delight in the soul but not in the body, as the soul resembles the supernal soul, whereas the body is not worthy to be allied to the supernal essences, although the image of the body is part of the supernal symbolism. [140b] Observe that when God takes delight in the soul of a man, He afflicts the body in order that the soul may gain full freedom. For so long as the soul is together with the body it cannot exercise its full powers, but only when the body is broken and crushed. Again, "He trieth the righteous", so as to make them firm like "a tried stone", the "costly corner-stone" mentioned by the prophet (Is. XXVIII, 16). "But the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth." So we would naturally translate; but this is hardly admissible, and it is more probable that the verse alludes to that grade whence all souls derive their existence, and tells us that "that grade hateth the soul of the wicked man", not wanting it at all, neither in this world nor in the world to come. When God created Adam He gave him a precept for his well-being and endowed him with wisdom through which he rose to the higher grades of contemplation. But when Adam turned his thoughts to the lower world, he let himself be enticed by the evil tempter and clung to him, so that all that he had observed of the glory of his Master vanished from his mind. After him Noah at first was a man righteous and devout; but afterwards he "also went downwards, and seeing the wine -- wine a day old, not yet refined -- "he drank of the wine, and was drunken, and he was uncovered within his tent" (Gen. IX, 21). Then came Abraham, who contemplated the wisdom and glory of his Master. In his time "there was a famine in the land; and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there" (Ibid. XII, 10), but subsequently he "went up out of Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the South" (Ibid. XIII, I). That is, he ascended again to his own former grade, so that he came out unscathed as he went in. Then came Isaac, of whom it is written: "And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine, etc." He went into Gerar and afterwards ascended again from thence unscathed. Thus God proves the righteous in order to glorify them in this world and in the world to come.

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AND THE MEN OF THE PLACE ASKED HIM OF HIS WIFE; AND HE SAID: SHE IS MY SISTER. Like Abraham before him, he referred with these words to the Shekinah, which was with him as well as with Rebekah his wife; for like Abraham he carried out the injunction: "Say unto wisdom: Thou art my sister" (Prov. VII, 4). They were further entitled to call her sister in virtue of the verse, "My sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled" (S. S. V, 2), for it is for this that the righteous cleave to God.

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AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN HE HAD BEEN THERE A LONG TIME ... WITH REBEKAH HIS WIFE. The particle eth (with) indicates that it was the Shekinah that was with Rebekah. In any case it is not to be supposed that Abimelech saw Isaac having intercourse with his wife in the daytime, for this would be contrary to the dictum: "Israel are holy and they abstain from cohabitation in the daytime." But the truth is that Abimelech was an astrologer, and the window through which he looked was nothing but the planetary constellation. [The word "window" is similarly used in the passage: "Through the window she looked forth, and peered, the mother of Sisera" (Jud. V, 28).] Abimelech by this means discovered that, contrary to Isaac's assertion, Rebekah was his wife. So ABIMELECH CALLED ISAAC, AND SAID, ETC. R. Jose said: 'Abimelech would have behaved toward Isaac as he behaved toward Abraham, were it not that God" had reproved him in the previous case. Note that when Abraham said, "Surely the fear of God is not in this place" (Gen. xx, I I), his reason for thinking so was that the people lacked faith, and had they possessed faith, he would have had no need to act as he did.' [141a] R. Eleazar said: 'The Shekinah does not abide outside the Holy Land, and that is what Abram meant by saying that "the fear of God is not in this place", namely, that this was not the place where the Shekinah could find abode. Isaac, however, held fast to the true faith under the inspiration of the Shekinah, which he saw residing, as it were, within his wife.'

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AND ABIMELECH CHARGED ALL THE PEOPLE, SAYING: HE THAT TOUCHETH THIS MAN OR HIS WIFE SHALL SURELY BE PUT TO DEATH. Observe how long a respite God gave to this wicked people for the sake of the kindness that Abimelech showed to Israel's first ancestors. It was on this account that Israel could not touch them till many generations had elapsed. Abimelech thus did well to show kindness to Abraham in saying to him: "Behold my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee" (Gen. XX, 15). R. Judah said : 'Woe to the wicked who when they do a kindness never do it perfectly. Ephron, for instance, first said to Abraham: "Nay, my lord, hear me: the field I give thee and the cave that is therein, I give it thee, etc." (Gen. XXIII, 11). But later on he said: "A piece of land worth four hundred shekels, etc." (Ibid. 15); and then we read: "And Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver ... current money with the merchant" (Ibid. 16). Similarly here, at first Abimelech said: "He that toucheth this man, etc", but later on he said, "Go from us, for thou art much mightier than we" (Gen. XXVI, 16).' R. Eleazar said to R. Judah: 'Abimelech's kindness to him consisted in his not taking anything from him, and sending him away with all his possessions intact, and then going after him to make a covenant with him.'

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AND ISAAC DIGGED AGAIN THE WELLS, ETC. R. Eleazar said: 'In digging these wells Isaac acted fittingly, for he discerned from his knowledge of the mysteries of Wisdom that in this way he could attach himself more firmly to his faith. Abraham likewise made a point of digging a well of water. Jacob found the well already prepared for him, and he sat down by it. Thus they all looked for a well and strove through it to preserve their faith pure and undiminished. And nowadays Israel hold fast to the well through the symbolism of the precepts of the Torah, as when each day every Israelite performs the precept of the fringes in which he envelops himself, and of the phylacteries which he puts on his head and on his arm. All these have a deep symbolism, since God is found in the man who crowns himself with the phylacteries and envelops himself in the fringes. Hence, whoever does not envelop himself in the latter, nor crown himself with the former each day to invigorate himself in faith, makes it appear as though faith does not dwell within him, and fear of his Master has departed from him, and so his prayer is not as it should be. Hence our ancestors strengthened themselves in the true faith in digging the well, symbolic of the supernal well, which is the abode of the mystery of perfect faith.'

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AND HE REMOVED FROM THENCE, AND DIGGED ANOTHER WELL. R. Hiya discoursed on the verse: And the Lord will guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in brightness, and make strong thy bones (Is. LVIII, 11). 'The true believers', he said, 'have derived strength from this verse, where promise is made to them of the world to come, for the word "continually" includes both this world and the world to come. Again, the term "continually", which seems superfluous, is an allusion to the continual burnt-offering which is offered at dusk, and is held firm underneath the arm of Isaac and is symbolic of the world to come. The term "guiding" is similarly used by David in the verse: "He guideth me in straight paths for his name's sake" (Ps. XXIII, 3). "And satisfy thy soul in brightness"; this is the "clear mirror" from the contemplation of which all souls obtain delight and benefit. "And make strong thy bones": these words do not seem to harmonise with what has gone before, which we have interpreted of the souls of the righteous ascending on high. We interpret them, therefore, to allude to the resurrection of the dead, when the Holy One, blessed be He, will reconstitute the bones and restore the body to its former state. The soul will then derive stronger illumination from the "clear mirror", so as to illumine the body to the full extent of which it is capable. Hence: "And thou shalt be like a watered garden" (Is. LVIII, 11), that is, like the celestial garden whose supernal waters never fail, but flow on for ever and ever; [141b] "and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not" (Ibid.), alluding to the river that issues from Eden and flows on for all eternity. Observe that the "well of living waters" is a symbol within a symbol for guiding faith. There is the well which is the very source of the waters, and there is the well which is fed by that source of water. There are thus two grades, which are, however, really one with two aspects, male and female, in fitting union. The well and the issue of waters are one, designated by the name of "well", it being at once the supernal never-ceasing fountain and the well that is filled by it. And whoever gazes at that well gazes at the true object of faith. This is the symbol which the patriarchs transmitted in digging the well, in such a way as to indicate that the source and the well are indissoluble. AND HE CALLED ITS NAME REHOBOTH (lit. streets, broad places). By this he intimated that his descendants would one day tend that well in the fitting manner through the mystical potency of offerings and burnt-offerings (like Adam, when God "put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it" (Gen. II, 15), to wit, by offerings and burnt-offerings), so that its springs should flow forth on every side, as Scripture says: "Let thy springs be dispersed abroad, and courses of water in the streets (rehoboth)" (Prov. V, 16). Hence here the name of Rehoboth (streets, broad places).'

R. Simeon here discoursed on the verse: WISDOM CRIETH ALOUD IN THE STREET, SHE UTTERETH HER VOICE IN THE BROAD PLACES (Prov. I, 20). 'This verse', he said, 'contains a deep mystical teaching. The term hokhmoth (lit. wisdoms) implies the superior Wisdom and the lesser Wisdom which is included in the superior Wisdom and abides therein. The superior Wisdom is an essence most recondite and concealed, unknown and unrevealed, as Scripture says: "Man knoweth not the price thereof, etc." (Job XXVIII, 13); and when it expands into a source of light, its illumination is that of the world to come, and that world is created by it: for so we have learned, that the world to come was created by the Yod, and there Wisdom remained hidden, the two being one. When God was crowned, it was through the mystery of the future world, as already said. There was joy at this illumination, but all was in silence without a sound being heard abroad. Wisdom then willed it to expand further, so that from that space there issued fire and water and air, as already said, from which there sprang up a voice which issued forth abroad and was heard, as already said. From that point onwards all is exterior (huz), whereas in the interior the voice is silent and not heard abroad. Once, however, the secret force has become audible, it is called "without" (huz). Hence it is incumbent on man to be zealous in searching after wisdom "in the wide places" (ba-rehoboth). This refers to the firmament, which contains all the luminous stars, and which constitutes the fountain of perennial waters, referred to in the verse: "And a river went forth from Eden to water the garden" (Gen. II, 10). And there "she uttereth her voice", both the superior and the lower Wisdom, which in truth are one. Solomon alluded to this in saying: "Prepare thy work without" (ba-huz), and make it ready for thee in the field" (Prov. XXIV, 27), where the word "without" is used as in the verse "Wisdom crieth out without", indicating the point from which man can commence to inquire and investigate, as it is written: "For ask now of the days past ... and from one end of heaven unto another" (Deut. IV, 32). The "field" again is the "field which the Lord hath blessed" (Gen. XXVII, 27). When a man has penetrated into the mystery of Wisdom and perfected himself therein, then Solomon tells him to "build his house" (Prov. XXIV, 27), i.e. to cultivate his soul in his body, so as to attain perfection. Hence, when Isaac digged and prepared the well in peace he called it Rehoboth (wide places), and all was done in the right manner. Happy the righteous by whose works the Holy One sustains the world, as it says: "For the upright shall inhabit the land" (Prov. II, 2I), where the term yishkenu (they will inhabit) may be read yashkinu (they shall cause to be inhabited).'

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:00 am

Part 2 of 2

AND IT CAME TO PASS, THAT WHEN ISAAC WAS OLD, AND HIS EYES WERE DIM. R. Simeon said: 'It is written: And God called the light day, and the darkness he called night (Gen. I, 5). This verse has already been expounded, but there is yet more to be learnt from it. For all the works of the Almighty are manifestations of truth and contain deep lessons; and all the words of the Torah assist faith and are deeply symbolical. Observe now that Isaac was not so fortunate as Abraham, whose eyes were not blinded nor dimmed. Herein is a profound lesson touching faith, as has already been explained elsewhere. By "the light" here is meant Abraham, who is the light of the day and whose light keeps on expanding [142a] and growing stronger like that of the day. Hence it is written: "And Abraham was old, advancing in days" (Gen. XXIV, 1), that is, in illumination, and as he grew older his light continued to expand, so that he was "shining more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. IV, 18). On the other hand, "the darkness" is a description of Isaac, who represents darkness and night, and hence when he was old his eyes were dim, so that he could not see. He had to become enveloped in darkness in order to become attached to his own proper grade.' R. Eleazar his son came and kissed his hand. He said: 'So far I understand. Abraham was bathed in light from the side of his grade; whereas Isaac became wrapt in darkness from the side of his grade. But why is it written of Jacob: "And the eyes of Israel were heavy for age" (Gen. XLVIII, 10)?' R. Simeon in answer said: 'It is written here "they were heavy", but not "they were dim"; and further, it is not written "for his old age", but "for old age", referring to the old age of Isaac, and implying that his eyes were heavy as a result of the side of Isaac, but still they were only so heavy as to prevent him seeing properly, but not entirely dim. Whereas Isaac's eyes were altogether dimmed, so that darkness settled upon him and night took hold of him, until to him could be applied the words, "And the darkness he called night."'

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AND HE CALLED ESAU, HIS ELDER SON, who was derived from his own side of severe judgement, AND HE SAID: BEHOLD NOW, I AM OLD, I KNOW NOT THE DAY OF MY DEATH. R. Eleazar discoursed on the verse: Happy is the man whose strength is in thee, etc. (Ps. LXXXIV6,). 'Happy is the man', he said, 'who holds fast to the Holy One and places his strength in Him. Like whom, for instance? Shall we say. like Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, when they boldly said to the King of Babylon: "Behold, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of thine hand" (Dan. III, 17)? Not so; for if God had not stood by them to deliver them, His name would not have been acclaimed holy as they declared it to be. But they themselves realized their mistake, and so they corrected themselves and said: "But if not, be it known unto thee, O King, etc." (Ibid. 18), that is, whether our God deliver us or not, be it known unto thee that we will not serve thy gods, etc. Tradition tells us that Ezekiel said something to them which opened their eyes, namely, that God would not stand by them if they expected reward. It was then that they began all over again, saying: "But if not, be it known unto thee, O King, etc." A man, therefore, should not confidently affirm: "God will deliver me or will do for me this or that"; but he should endeavour to fulfil the precepts of the Law and to walk in the path of truth, and then put his full trust in Him that He will help him thereto. For assuredly whenever a man sets out to purify himself he is helped thereto from on high. A man should thus put his trust in God and not anywhere else. Hence the expression "whose strength is in thee". The next words, "in whose heart are paths", indicate that a man should purge his heart of all strange thoughts, so as to make it like a path that leads straight to the desired destination. According to another interpretation, the word "strength" alludes to the Torah, of which we read: "The Lord gives strength unto his people" (Ps. XXIX, 11). It is thus here indicated that a man should study the Torah in single-hearted devotion to the Almighty, and whoever labours in the Torah from worldly motives had better not have been born. The word mesilloth also may be translated not "highways" but "extollings" (cf. the verse "Extol (solu) him that rideth upon the skies" (Ps. LXVIII, 5)). It thus alludes to the man who labours in the Torah with the object of extolling God and making Him the only object of devotion in the world. Observe that Jacob performed all his actions for the sake of God, and therefore God was always with him and did not ever remove His Presence from him. We know this from the fact that although Jacob was not present when Isaac called Esau his son, the Shekinah told Rebekah, who in her turn told Jacob.' R. Jose said: 'Observe that had Esau, God forbid, been blessed there and then, Jacob would never have been able to assert himself; but all was directed by Providence, and everything fell into its right place.'

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AND REBEKAH LOVED JACOB, and so she sent for him and said to him: BEHOLD, I HEARD THY FATHER SPEAK UNTO ESAU THY BROTHER, SAYING... NOW THEREFORE, MY SON, HEARKEN TO MY VOICE, ETC. It was then the eve of Passover, a time when the evil tempter had to be removed, so as to restore to power the moon, to symbolise the true object [142b] of faith. Rebekah therefore prepared two dishes. R. Judah said: 'Herein were foreshadowed the two he-goats which the children of Jacob were in the future to offer, one for the Lord and the other for Azazel on the Day of Atonement. We see thus Rebekah offering "two kids of the goats", one for the supernal grade and the other with the object of subduing the grade of Esau, so as to deprive him of any power over Jacob. Hence "two kids of the goats", both of which Isaac tasted and ate of. Similarly, when it says "And he brought him wine, and he drank", the word "brought" intimates that the wine was fetched from a distant region, namely, from the region of Esau. R. Eleazar said: 'There is an allusion here to that wine in which is all kind of exhilaration, since Isaac and his side required to be exhilarated.'

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AND REBEKAH TOOK THE CHOICEST GARMENTS OF ESAU, ETC. These were the garments of which Esau had despoiled Nimrod. They were precious garments which, originally belonging to Adam, in time came into the hands of Nimrod, who used them as his hunting dress, for so Scripture says: "He was a mighty hunter before the Lord" (Gen. X, 9). Then Esau went out into the field and made war against Nimrod, and slew him and possessed himself of those garments, as is hinted in the passage: "And Esau came in from the field, and he was faint" (Ibid. XXV, 29), that is, from killing, as in the passage, "for my soul fainteth before the murderers" (Jer. IV, 31). Now, Esau kept those garments in Rebekah's apartment, from whence he would fetch them whenever he went a-hunting. On that day, however, he went out into the field without them, and thus he stayed there longer than usual. Now when Esau put on those garments no aroma whatever was emitted from them, but when Jacob put them on they were restored to their rightful place, and a sweet odour was diffused from them. For Jacob inherited the beauty of Adam; hence those garments found in him their rightful owner and thus gave off their proper aroma. Said R. Jose: 'Can it really be so, that Jacob's beauty equalled that of Adam, seeing that, according to tradition, the fleshy part of Adam's heel outshone the orb of the sun? Would you, then, say the same of Jacob?' Said R. Eleazar in reply: 'Assuredly Adam's beauty was as tradition says, but only at first before he sinned, when no creature could endure to gaze at his beauty; after he sinned, however, his beauty was diminished and his height was reduced to a hundred cubits. Observe further that Adam's beauty is a symbol with which the true faith is closely bound up. This is hinted at in the passage: "And let the graciousness of the Lord our God be upon us" (Ps. XC, 17), as well as in the expression, "to behold the graciousness of the Lord" (Ibid. XXVII, 4). And Jacob assuredly participated of that beauty. The whole, then, is deeply symbolical.'

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AND HE SMELLED THE SMELL OF HIS RAIMENT, AND BLESSED HIM. Observe that it is not written "the raiment", but "his raiment". This is explained by the text "Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment" (Ps. CIV, 2). The word "his" may also be understood to indicate that it was only when Jacob put them on that the garments emitted their sweet odour; and it was only the sweet odour diffused by them that made Isaac bless him, for only then did he feel that there was before him one deserving of the blessings, since otherwise all these divine aromas would not have accompanied him. Hence the sequence of the verse: AND HE SMELLED THE SMELL OF HIS RAIMENT, AND BLESSED HIM, AND SAID: SEE THE SMELL OF MY SON IS AS THE SMELL OF THE FIELD WHICH THE LORD HATH BLESSED. The subject of the word "said" is, according to some, the Shekinah, according to others, Isaac himself. "The field which the Lord hath blessed" alludes to the "field of apple trees", the field which the patriarchs cherish and cultivate.

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SO GOD GIVE THEE OF THE DEW OF HEAVEN, AND OF THE FAT PLACES OF THE EARTH, AND PLENTY OF CORN AND WIN E. R. Abba said: 'We may bring into connection with this passage the verse: "A song of Ascents. In my distress I called unto the Lord and he answered me" (Ps. CXX, 1). Many songs and hymns did David utter before the Almighty for the purpose of perfecting his grade and making himself a name, as Scripture says; "And David got him a name" (II Sam. VIII, 13). But this song David recited when he contemplated this incident of Jacob.' R. Eleazar said: 'It was Jacob who uttered this psalm at the moment when his father said to him: "Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not." That was [143a] a moment of great distress for Jacob, as he feared that his father would recognize him. We read, however: "And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands; so he blessed him." It was then that Jacob said: "In my distress I called unto the Lord, and he answered me. O Lord, deliver my soul from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue" (Ps. CXX, 1-2). The "lying lips" is a reference to the grade of Esau, which is so called because when the serpent brought curses into the world it was by means of cunning and crookedness. Observe that when Isaac said to Esau: "and go out into the field, and take me venison", he added, "I will bless thee before the Lord" (Gen. XXVII, 7). Now, had Isaac said simply, "that I may bless thee", there would have been no harm. But when he uttered the words "before the Lord", the Throne of Glory of the Almighty shook and trembled, saying: "Will the serpent now be released from his curses and Jacob become subject to them?".' At that moment the angel Michael, accompanied by the Shekinah, appeared before Jacob. Isaac felt all this, and he also saw the Garden of Eden beside Jacob, and so he blessed him in the presence of the angel. But when Esau entered there entered with him the Gehinnom, and thus we read: "And Isaac trembled very exceedingly", as until that time he had not thought that Esau was of that side. "And I have blessed him" -- he then said -- "yea, he shall be blessed". Jacob thus equipped himself with wisdom and cunning, so that the blessings reverted to himself who was the image of Adam, and were snatched from that serpent of "the lying lips" who acted and spoke deceitfully in order to lead astray the world and bring curses on it. Hence Jacob came with craft and misled his father with the object of bringing blessings upon the world, and to recover from the serpent what hitherto he had withheld from the world. It was measure for measure, as expressed in the verse : "Yea, he loved cursing, and it came unto him; and he delighted not in blessing, and it is far from him" (Ps. CIX,17). Concerning him it is written: "Cursed art thou from among all cattle, and from among all beasts of the field" (Gen. III, 14). He remains in that curse for evermore, and Jacob came and took away from him the blessings; from the very days of Adam Jacob was destined to snatch from the serpent all those blessings, leaving him still immersed in the curses without the possibility of emerging from them. David also said concerning him: "What shall be given unto thee, and what shall be done more unto thee, thou deceitful tongue ?" (Ps. CXX, 3). That is to say, of what benefit was it to the serpent that he brought curses upon the world? As the adage says: "The serpent bites and kills, and feels no satisfaction". "A deceitful tongue": in that he deceived Adam and his wife and brought evil upon them and upon the world, until Jacob came and took away from him all the blessings. "Sharp arrows of the mighty" (Ibid. 4) is an allusion to Esau, who nursed his hatred toward Jacob on account of these blessings, as we read: "And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing, etc." So GOD GIVE THEE OF THE DEW OF HEAVEN, AND OF THE FAT PLACES OF THE EARTH, that is to say, blessings from above and from below in conjunction. AND PLENTY OF CORN AND WINE, in consonance with the text: "yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Ps. XXXVII, 25). This, as we have laid down, was uttered by the Prince of the world; hence "plenty of corn and wine". LET PEOPLES SERVE THEE: alluding to the time when King Solomon reigned in Jerusalem, as it is written: "And all the kings of the earth etc .... And they brought every man his present" (II Chr. IX, 23-24). AND NATIONS BOW DOWN TO THEE, alludes to the time when the Messiah will appear, concerning whom it is written : "Yea, all kings shall prostrate themselves before him" (Ps. LXXII, 11). R. Judah said: 'The whole applies to the advent of the Messiah, of whom it is also written: "all nations shall serve him" (Ibid.).' BE (heveh) LORD OVER THY BRETHREN. The irregular form heveh (be), instead of heyeh or tihyeh, has a deep mystical signification, being composed, as it is, of the three letters which are the basis of faith: He at the first, Vau in the centre, then He following. Hence: "Be (heveh) lord over thy brethren", namely, to rule over them and subdue them at the time of King David. R. Jose said: 'These blessings apply to the time of the advent of the Messiah, since on account of Israel transgressing the precepts of the Torah Esau was able to take advantage of the blessing given to him, "thou shalt shake his yoke from off thy neck" (Gen. XXVII, 40).' R. Jose said: 'All these [143b] blessings were from the side of Jacob's portion, so that Jacob only received what was his own. Isaac desired to transfer them to Esau, but God brought it to pass that Jacob came into his own. Observe the parallelism. When the serpent brought curses upon the world God said to Adam: "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife ... cursed is the ground for thy sake, etc." (Gen. III, 17), meaning that it should not bring forth fruit or any vegetation in proper measure. Corresponding to this curse we have here the blessing, "of the fat of the earth". Again, there it is written: "In toil thou shalt eat it" (Ibid.): here comes the corrective, "of the dew of heaven". There it says: "Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee" (Ibid. 18) -- here, "and plenty of corn and wine". There we have "In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread" (Ibid. 19) -- here, "Let peoples serve, and nations bow down to thee", tilling the earth and cultivating the field, as it is written: "And aliens shall be your plowmen and your vine-dressers" (Is. LXI, 5). Jacob thus turned each curse into a blessing, and what he took was his own. God brought all this about so that Jacob should remain attached to his own place and portion, and that Esau should remain attached to his place and portion.'

R. Hizkiah questioned this exposition, saying: 'Do we not find that later on Esau received a similar blessing as regards the fat places of the earth and the dew of heaven, as we read: "Behold, of the fat places of the earth shall be thy dwelling, and of the dew of heaven from above"?' Said R. Simeon in reply: 'The two blessings are not alike, being from entirely different grades. As regards Jacob it is written: "So God give thee", whereas as regards Esau it is written merely: "Of the fat places of the earth shall be, etc."; as regards Jacob it is written: "of the dew of heaven and of the fat places of the earth", but as regards Esau, "of the fat places" and then "of the dew of heaven". The difference between the two goes very deep. For the "dew of heaven" promised to Jacob is the supernal dew that flows from the Ancient of Days, and is therefore called "dew of heaven", namely, of the upper heaven, dew that flows through the grade of heaven, to fall on the "field of consecrated apples". Also, the earth mentioned in Jacob's blessing alludes to the supernal "earth of the living". Jacob thus inherited the fruit of the supernal earth and the supernal heaven. Esau, on the other hand, was given his blessings on earth here below and in heaven here below. Jacob obtained a portion in the highest realm, but Esau only in the lowest. Further, Jacob was given a portion both above and below, but Esau only here below. And although he was promised, "And it shall come to pass when thou shalt break loose, that thou shalt shake his yoke from off thy neck" (Gen. XXVII, 40), this was only to be here below, but regarding the upper world it is written: "For the portion of the Lord is his people, Jacob the lot of his inheritance" (Deut. XXXII, 9).'

Observe that as soon as Jacob and Esau commenced to avail themselves of their blessings, the former possessed himself of his portion on high, and the latter of his portion here below. R. Jose the son of R. Simeon, the son of Laqunia, once said to R. Eleazar: 'Have you ever heard from your father how it comes about that the blessings given by Isaac to Jacob have not been fulfilled, while those given to Esau have all been fulfilled in their entirety?' R. Eleazar replied: 'All the blessings are to be fulfilled, including other blessings with which God blessed Jacob. For the time being, however, Jacob took his portion above and Esau here below. But in aftertime, when the Messiah will arise, Jacob will take both above and below and Esau will lose all, being left with no portion of inheritance or remembrance whatever. So Scripture says: "And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, etc." (Obad. I, 18), so that Esau will perish entirely, whilst Jacob will inherit both worlds, this world and the world to come. Of that time it is further written: "And saviours shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord's" (Ibid. I, 21), that is to say, the kingdom which Esau has taken in this world shall revert to God. For although God rules both above and below, yet for the time being He has given to all the peoples each a portion and an inheritance in this world; but at that time He will take away dominion from all of them, so that all will be His, as it is written, "And the kingdom shall be the Lord's". It will be the Lord's alone, as it is further written, "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day shall the Lord be One, and his name One" (Zech. XIV, 9).'

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AND IT CAME TO PASS AS JACOB WAS SCARCELY GONE OUT, ETC. R. Simeon said: 'The double form yazo yaza (lit. going out, went out) indicates that [144a] the Shekinah went out with him. For it had entered along with Jacob, and had been with him when he received his blessings and had confirmed them. And when Jacob went out the Shekinah went out with him, and hence the twofold expression yazo yaza, implying a simultaneous going out of two.' AND ESAU HIS BROTHER CAME IN FROM HIS HUNTING. It was literally "his", devoid of any blessing, and the Holy Spirit cried out to Isaac: "Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye" (Prov. XXIII,6). AND HE ALSO MADE SAVOURY FOOD.... LET MY FATHER ARISE. He spoke in a rough and overbearing manner, with no sign of politeness. Observe the difference between Jacob and Esau. Jacob spoke to his father gently and modestly, as it says: "He came to his father and said: My father." He was careful not to startle him, and said in a tone of entreaty: "Arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison." But Esau said: "Let my father arise", as though he were not addressing him personally. Also, when Esau entered the Gehinnom accompanied him, so that Isaac shook with fear, as it says: "And Isaac trembled, greatly, exceedingly." The word "exceedingly" is added to show that no such fear and terror had ever assailed Isaac since the day he was born; and not even when he lay bound on the altar with the knife flashing before his eyes was he so affrighted as when he saw Esau enter and the Gehinnom enter with him. He then said: BEFORE THOU CAMEST, AND I HAVE BLESSED HIM. YEA, AND HE SHALL BE BLESSED, because he saw that the Shekinah had confirmed his blessings. According to another explanation, Isaac said: "And I have blessed him", and a heavenly voice answered: "Yea, and he shall be blessed." Isaac, indeed, wanted to curse Jacob, but the Holy One said to him: "O Isaac, thou wilt thereby be cursing thyself, since thou hast already pronounced over him the words, 'Cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be every one that blesseth thee'." Observe that all, both above and below, confirmed these blessings, and even he who was the portion that fell to the lot of Esau consented to those blessings, and, moreover, actually himself blessed Jacob, as it is written: "And he said: Let me go for the day breaketh. And he said: I will not let thee go, except thou bless me" (Gen. XXXII, 27). The angel said "Let me go" because Jacob seized hold of him. You may wonder how could a man of flesh and blood take hold of an angel, who is pure spirit, as it is written: "Who makest spirits thy messengers, the flaming fire thy ministers" (Ps. CIV, 4). But the truth is that when the angels, the messengers of the Holy One, descend to earth, they make themselves corporeal, and put on a bodily vesture like to the denizens of this world. For it is fitting not to deviate from the custom of the place where one happens to be, as has already been explained. We find it thus written of Moses when he ascended on high: "And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water" (Ex. XXXIV, 28), in order not to deviate from the custom of the place to which he went. Similarly we read, as an example of the behaviour of angels on descending here below: "And he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat" (Gen. XVIII, 8). So here, Jacob could only have wrestled with the angel after the latter had assumed a bodily vesture after the manner of a being of this world. The reason, too, why Jacob had to wrestle with him the whole of that night was because those beings possess dominion only in the night, and so, correspondingly, Esau dominates only during the exile, which is none other than night. During the night, therefore, the angel held fast to Jacob and wrestled with him; but as soon as day broke his strength waned, and he could no more prevail, so that Jacob got the upper hand, since Jacob's domination is in the daytime. (Hence it is written: "The burden of Dumah. One calleth unto me out of Seir: Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?" (Is. XXI, 11). For the domination of Esau, who is identical with Seir, is only in the night.) The angel, therefore, feeling his strength ebb as the day broke, said: "Let me go, for the day breaketh." Jacob's answer, "I will not let thee go, except thou hast blessed me", [I44b] is peculiar, since we should have expected "except thou wilt bless me". By using the past tense, however, Jacob as much as said: "except thou acknowledge those blessings with which my father blessed me, and wilt not contend against me on account of them". The angel, we are told, thereupon said: "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed" (Gen. XXXII, 29). By the name Israel he meant to imply: "We must needs be subservient to thee, since thou art crowned with thy might above in a supernal grade." "Israel shall be thy name"; assuredly so, for "thou hast striven with Elohim". By this name he apparently referred to himself, but he really had a deeper meaning, viz. "Thou hast striven to associate thyself with God in a close union, as symbolised by the junction of the sun and the moon." Hence he did not say "thou hast prevailed over God". but "with God", i.e. to unite closely with God.

R. Simeon here discoursed on the verse: When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him (Prov. XVI, 7). 'How greatly', he said, 'is it incumbent on man to direct his path toward the Holy One, blessed be He, so as to observe the precepts of the Torah. For, according to our doctrine, two heavenly messengers are sent to accompany man in his path through life, one on the right and one on the left; and they are also witnesses to all his acts. They are called, the one, "good prompter", and the other, "evil prompter". Should a man be minded to purify himself and to observe diligently the precepts of the Torah, the good prompter who is associated with him will overpower the evil prompter, who will then make his peace with him and become his servant. Contrariwise, should a man set out to defile himself, the evil prompter will overpower the good prompter; and so we are agreed. Thus when a man sets out to purify himself, and his good prompter prevails, then Gad makes even his enemies to be at peace with him, that is to say, the evil prompter submits himself to the good prompter. Of this Solomon said: "Better is he that is lightly esteemed, and hath a servant" (Prov. XII, 9), the servant being the evil prompter. Hence inasmuch as Jacob put his trust in the Almighty, and all his actions were for His sake, God "made even his enemies to be at peace with him", to wit, Samael, who is the power and strength of Esau; and, he having made peace with Jacob and consented to the blessings, Esau also consented to them. For until Jacob was at peace with the chieftain of Esau, Esau was not at peace with Jacob. For in all cases power below depends on the corresponding power above.'

***

AND ISAAC TREMBLED VERY EXCEEDINGLY, AND SAID: WHO THEN (epho) IS HE ... ? The term epho (lit. here) is an allusion to the Shekinah that was present when Isaac blessed Jacob. Isaac thus as much as said: "Who is he that stood here and confirmed the blessings I conferred upon him? YEA, AND HE SHALL BE BLESSED, seeing that God approved of these blessings." R. Judah said: 'For having caused his father thus to tremble, Jacob was punished by being thrown into a similar tremor when his sons showed him Joseph's coat and said, "This have we found" (Gen. XXXVII, 32).' (Note that the word epho used by Isaac here is also used to herald the punishment of Jacob through the loss of Joseph, who, when sent to seek his brethren, said: "Where (epho) are they feeding the flock?" (Ibid. 16); and this although God approved of the blessings.) AND ISAAC TREMBLED A GREAT TREMBLING. The term "great" is echoed by the phrase "and this great fire" (Deut. XVIII, 16), thus intimating that the Gehinnom entered along with Esau. VERY EXCEEDINGLY ('ad me'od): the term me'od, on an analogy with the same term in the clause, "and behold, it was very (me'od) good" (Gen. I, 31), alludes to the angel of death; hence the exclamation: "Who then is he ... ?" [145a]

***

WHEN ESAU HEARD THE WORDS OF HIS FATHER, ETC. R. Hiya exclaimed: 'How much has Israel suffered on account of those tears which Esau shed before his father, in his desire to be blessed by him, out of the great regard he had for his father's words!' HAS ONE NOT RIGHTLY CALLED HIM JACOB? The form of the expression, instead of the more natural "has not his name been called", indicates the contempt with which Esau uttered the words. FOR HE HATH SUPPLANTED ME THESE TWO TIMES. The word "these" (ze) implies that the supplanting was of the same character on both occasions, since the word bekhorathi (my birthright) consists of the same letters as birkhathi (my blessing). The word ze has a similar force in the sentence: "Surely we had now (ze, lit. this) returned a second time" (Gen. XLIII, 10), where the letters of the word shavnu (we had returned) can be transposed to form boshnu (we are put to shame), as much as to say: "if we delay longer, we shall both return and be ashamed", Job made use of a similar wordplay when he said: "And thou holdest me for thine enemy" (oyeb) (Job XIII, 24), as much as to say: "Thou hast turned about Iyob (Job) into oyeb (enemy)." Similarly here, Esau said: "He first took my birthright (bekhorathi), and now he turned the same about into my blessing (birkhathi), which he has also taken from me."

BEHOLD, I HAVE MADE HIM THY LORD ... AND WHAT THEN SHALL I DO FOR THEE, MY SON? By the word epho (then, lit. here) he implied that there was no one there to approve of a blessing for him. Isaac thus blessed him with worldly goods; he surveyed his grade and said, "And by thy sword shalt thou live", as much as to say: "This is just what suits you, to shed blood and to make war." It was for this reason, as R. Eleazar explains, that he first said to him: "And what then shall I do for thee?", seeing that I behold in thee harshness, the sword and blood, but in thy brother the way of peace. Then he added "my son", as if to say, "my son thou surely art, and I transmit to thee all this". Hence, BY THY SWORD SHALT THOU LIVE AND THOU SHALT SERVE THY BROTHER. This has not yet been fulfilled, seeing that Esau has till now not yet served Jacob, since Jacob did not desire it at the time, and, indeed, himself many times called him "my master". The reason is that Jacob gazed into the distant future and therefore deferred the fulfilment of the blessings to the end of days, as already said.

As R. Hiya and R. Jose were once walking together, they noticed R. Jesse the Elder coming up behind them. So they sat down and waited for him until he came up to them. As soon as he joined them they said, 'Now we shall journey with godspeed.' As they proceeded, R. Hiya said: ' "It is time to do for the Lord" (Ps. CXIX, 126).' R. Jose thereupon began to discourse on the verse: She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue (Prov. XXXI, 26). 'The word "wisdom" " he said, 'signifies the Beth of the word bereshith (in the beginning), as already explained elsewhere. The Beth is closed in on one side and open on the other. It is closed in on one side as symbolic of that which is written: "And thou shalt see my back" (Ex. XXXIII, 23), and open on the other side so as to illumine the higher worlds. (It is also open on one side in order to receive from the higher worlds, like a hall in which guests gather.) For that reason it is placed at the beginning of the Torah, and was later on filled in. Again, "She openeth her mouth with wisdom", for so the word bereshith is rendered in the Chaldaic version, behokhmetha (with wisdom). "And the law of kindness (hesed) is on her tongue", i.e. in her subsequent utterances, as it is written: "And God said: Let there be light, and there was light." The "mouth" again is an allusion to the He of the Divine Name, which contains the Whole, which is both unrevealed and revealed, and comprises both the higher and the lower emanations, being emblematic of both. "She openeth her mouth with wisdom", inasmuch as, though herself hidden and absolutely unknowable, as it says, "And it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air" (Job XXVIII, 21), yet when she begins to expand by means of the Wisdom to which she is attached and in which she resides, she puts forth a Voice which is the "law of kindness" (hesed). Or again, the "mouth" can be taken as alluding to the final Hi of the Divine Name, which is the Word that emanates from Wisdom, while the "law of kindness on her tongue" signifies the Voice which is above the Word, controlling it and guiding it, [145b] since speech cannot be formed without voice, as has been agreed.'

R. Hiya then followed with a discourse on the verse: I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of devices (Prov. VIII, 12). ' "Wisdom" here', he said, 'alludes to the Community of Israel; "prudence" signifies Jacob, the prudent man; and "knowledge of devices" alludes to Isaac, who used devices for the purpose of blessing Esau. But since wisdom allied itself with Jacob, who was possessed of prudence, it was he who was blessed by his father, so that all those blessings rested on him and are fulfilled in him and in his descendants to all eternity. Some have been fulfilled in this world, and the rest will be fulfilled on the advent of the Messiah, when Israel will be one nation on earth and one people of the Holy One, blessed be He. So Scripture says: "And I will make them one nation on earth" (Ez. XXXVII, 22). And they will exercise dominion both on high and here below, as it is written: "And, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man" (Dan. VII, 13), alluding to the Messiah, concerning whom it is also written: "And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, etc." (Ibid. II, 44). Hence Jacob desired that the blessings should be reserved for that future time, and did not take them up immediately.'

R. Jesse then followed with a discourse on the verse: But fear not thou, O Jacob my servant, neither be dismayed, O Israel, etc. (Jer. XLVI, 27). 'When Jacob', he said, 'rose to leave his father, he became aware that he would not be able to avail himself of the blessings till a long time had elapsed, and he was greatly dismayed. A voice then went forth and said: "But fear not thou, O Jacob ... for I am with thee" (Ibid. 27-28), i.e. I will not forsake thee in this world. "For, 10, I will save thee from afar" (Ibid.), i.e. at the time for which thou hast reserved those blessings, "and thy seed from the land of their captivity" (Ibid), that is to say: "Although Esau has already taken possession of his blessing and so will enslave thy children, I will free them from his hands, and then thy children will be masters over them." "And Jacob will return" (Ibid.), i.e. he will return to his blessings, "and he will be quiet and at ease" (Ibid.) from the kingdoms of Babylonia, Media, Greece, and Edom, which have enslaved Israel, "and none shall make him afraid" (Ibid.), for ever and ever.'

The three then proceeded on their way, when R. Jose remarked: 'Truly all that God does in the world is an emblem of the divine Wisdom and is done with the object of manifesting Wisdom to the sons of men, so that they should learn from those works the mysteries of Wisdom, and all is accomplished according to plan. Further, all the works of God are the ways of the Torah, for the ways of the Torah are the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He, and no single word is contained in it but is an indication of ever so many ways and paths and mysteries of divine Wisdom. Did not Rabban Johanan evolve three hundred legal decisions, through esoteric allusions, from the verse: "And his wife's name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, the daughter of Mezahab" (Gen. XXXVI, 39) -- decisions which he revealed only to R. Eleazar? This shows that each incident recorded in the Torah contains a multitude of deep significations, and each word is itself an expression of wisdom and the doctrine of truth. The words of the Torah, then, are all sacred, revealing wondrous things, as we read: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" (Ps. CXIX, 18). Here is a proof. When the serpent had subverted Adam and his wife, and infected her with impurity, the world fell thereby in a state of defilement, and was laid under a curse, and death was brought into it. So the world had to be punished through him until the tree of life came and made atonement for man and prevented the serpent from ever again having dominion over the seed of Jacob. For each time the Israelites offered up a he-goat the serpent was subdued and led captive, as already said. Hence Jacob brought his father two he-goats (se'irim), one to subdue Esau, who was hairy (sa'ir), and the other to subdue the grade to which Esau was beholden and to which he adhered, as has been said already. And it is through this that the world will be preserved until a woman will appear after the pattern of Eve and a man after the pattern of Adam, who will circumvent and out-manoeuvre [146a] the evil serpent and him who rides on him, as explained elsewhere.'

R. Jose further discoursed as follows: And Esau was a cunning hunter ... and Jacob was a perfect man, dwelling in tents (Gen. XXV, 27). 'In which way was he "perfect" ? In that he was "dwelling in tents", i.e. that he held fast to the two sides, to that of Abraham and that of Isaac. In dealing with Esau he advanced from the side of Isaac, as already said, and in the spirit of the passage: "With the merciful thou dost show thyself merciful ... and with the crooked thou dost show thyself subtle" (Ps. XVIII, 26-27). But when he came to receive the blessings, he came with help from on high, and with support from both Abraham and Isaac, and thus all was prescribed by wisdom, as already said above. For Jacob conquered the serpent with prudence and craft, but chiefly by means of the he-goat; and although the serpent and Samael are the same, yet he also conquered Samael by another method, as described in the passage, saying: "and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him" (Gen. XXXII, 25-26). Observe how great Jacob's merit must have been. For as his adversary was intent on destroying him completely, and that night was the night when the moon was created, it was doubly unpropitious for Jacob, who remained behind all alone. For we have been taught that a man should not go out alone in the night time; how much less then in the night when the lights were created, [2] since the moon is defective, and on such a night the evil serpent is specially powerful. Samael thus came and attacked him, in order to destroy him utterly. Jacob, however, had strong support on all sides, on the side of Isaac and on the side of Abraham, both of whom constituted the strength of Jacob. When Samael attacked Jacob's right he saw there Abraham equipped with the strength of day, being of the side of the Right, the same being Mercy (Hesed). When he attacked his left, he saw there Isaac with the strength of stern judgement. When he attacked in front, he found Jacob strong on either side by reason of those surrounding him, and thus we read: "And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh" (Gen. XXXII, 26), that is, a part that is outside of the trunk and one of its supports. Hence, "the hollow of Jacob's thigh was strained" (Ibid.). When day appeared and night departed, Jacob's strength increased and Samael's waned, so that the latter said: "Let me go, for the moment of the recital of the morning hymn had arrived", and it was therefore necessary for him to depart. He thus confirmed Jacob's blessings and added to them one blessing more, as it says: "And he blessed him there" (Ibid. 30).

'Many were the blessings which Jacob received at different times. First he obtained blessings from his father, through the exercise of craft; then a blessing from the Shekinah, at the time when he returned from Laban, as we read, "And God (Elohim) blessed Jacob"; another blessing he received from that angel, the chieftain of Esau; and then his father blessed him when he set out for Padan-Aram, saying, "And God Almighty bless thee .... " (Gen. XXVIII, 3). When Jacob saw himself equipped with all these blessings, he deliberated within himself, saying, "Of which of these blessings shall I avail myself now?" He decided to make use for the time being of the least of them, which was the last; for although in itself it was powerful, yet Jacob thought that it was not so strong in promises of dominion in this world as the others. Jacob hence said: "Let me take this blessing to use for the time being, and the others I will reserve against the time when I and my descendants after me will be in need of them-the time, that is, when all the nations will assemble to exterminate my offspring from the world." To Jacob may be applied the words of the Scripture: "All nations compass me about, verily, in the name of the Lord I will cut them off. They compass me about, yea, they compass me about.... They compass me about like bees, etc." (Ps. CXVIII, 10-12). Here we have three times the words "compass me about", corresponding to the three remaining benedictions: his father's first blessing, then God's blessing, and thirdly the blessing of the angel. Jacob said: "Those blessings will be needed at that time for use against all those kings and nations: I shall therefore reserve them for that time, but now to cope with Esau this blessing will suffice me." He was like a king who had at his disposal a numerous and powerful army with skilled leaders, able and ready to engage in warfare with the most powerful [146b] adversary. Being once informed that a highway robber was infesting the country, he merely said, "Let my gate-keepers set out to deal with him." "Of all thy legions," he was asked, "hast thou no others to send but these gate-keepers?" "To cope with the robber these will suffice," he answered, " whereas all my legions and military leaders I have to keep in reserve for the time when I will need them to meet my powerful adversaries." Similarly Jacob said: "For dealing with Esau these blessings will suffice me, but the others I will keep in reserve against the time when my children will need them to withstand all those monarchs and rulers of the earth." When that time will come all those blessings will become operative, and the world will be established on a firm foundation. From that day onward that kingdom will gain the ascendancy over all other kingdoms, and it will endure for ever, as it is written: "It shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, but it shall stand for ever" (Dan. II, 44). This is "the stone that was cut out of the mountain without hands, etc." (Ibid. 45). The same stone is alluded to in the words: "From thence, from the Shepherd, the stone of Israel" (Gen. XLIX, 24). This stone is the Community of Israel, alluded to in the verse: "And this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, etc." (Gen. XXVIII, 22).' R. Hiya cited the following verses in regard to Jacob's blessings: ' "A remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob" (Is. x, 21). 'This is a reference', he said, 'to the remainder of the blessings. It is further written: "And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples (i.e. all the peoples, and not Esau alone), as dew from the Lord, as showers upon the grass" (Micah V, 6).' R. Yesa said: 'It is written: "A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master" (Mal. I, 6). Such a son was Esau, for there was not a man in the world who showed so much honour to his father as he did, and this it was that procured him dominion in this world. The "servant honouring his master" is typified by Eliezer the servant of Abraham, as already explained elsewhere. So, too, the tears which Esau shed made Israel subject to him, until the time when they will return unto the Holy One with weeping and with tears, as it says, "They shall come with weeping, etc." (Jer. XXXI, 9). And then will be fulfilled the prophecy: "And saviours shall come up on Mount Zion, to judge the Mount of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord's" (Ob. I, 21). Blessed be the Lord for evermore.'

_______________

Notes:

1. Al. "to the heel", i.e. to the lower grades.

2. i.e. the fourth night of the week.
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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:01 am

Part 1 of 3

VAYEZE

Gen. XXVIII, 10-XXXII, 3

AND JACOB WENT OUT FROM BEER-SHEBA AND WENT TOWARD HARAN. R. Hiya drew a parallel between this statement and the verse: The sun ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he ariseth (Eccles. I, 5). 'The sun arising', he said, 'is parallel to Jacob when in Beersheba; and "the sun going down" to Jacob on his way to Haran, when, as we read, "he tarried there all night, because the sun was set"; and as the "sun hasteth to his place [147a] where he ariseth", so Jacob "lay down in that place to sleep". Observe that although the sun illumines all quarters of the world, yet he travels only in two directions, as we read: "He goeth toward the South, and turneth about unto the North" (Eccles. I, 6), one being the right and the other the left. Every day, too, he emerges from the East, turns to the South, then to the North, then toward the Western side, and finally is gathered unto the West. As the sun emerges from the East, so Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and as the sun turns toward the West, so Jacob went toward Haran.' R. Simeon said that Jacob "went forth" from the ambit of the Land of Israel, and he "went into" another sphere, as is implied in the sentence, "and he went toward Haran" (lit. strange, alien). R. Hiya said: 'When the sun goes down to the West, the West is called the place of the sun and his throne, the place in which he abides, and to which he gathers in all his radiance. This accords with the Rabbinic dictum that God puts on phylacteries, that is, He takes up all the supernal crowns, to wit the emblem of the supernal Father and the emblem of the supernal Mother (these being the phylactery worn on the head), and then He takes up the Right and the Left, thereby carrying the whole.' R. Eleazar said: 'The "Beauty of Israel" takes up the whole, and when the Community of Israel is drawn toward the world on high, it also carries the whole, the male world of the Holy One as well as the female world [147b] of the Holy One; for just as all the lights radiate from the one, so the other carries the whole, one world being a representation of the other. Hence Beer-sheba (lit. well of seven) signifies the Jubilee year, be'er (well) symbolising a Sabbatical year; and the sun shines only from the Jubilee year. Hence "Jacob went out from Beer-sheba and went unto Haran", that is toward the West, which is identical with the Sabbatical year.' R. Simeon said: 'Beer-sheba symbolises the Sabbatical year, and Haran the year of 'orlah, inasmuch as he issued from the sphere of holiness into an alien sphere, since he was fleeing from his brother, as already explained.' But when he arrived at Bethel, which is still within the holy sphere, it is written:

***

AND HE LIGHTED UPON THE PLACE. R. Hiya said: 'This is the place mentioned in the verse, "and he hasteth to his place" (Eccl. I, 5). AND TARRIED THERE ALL NIGHT, BECAUSE THE SUN CAME, i.e. came to illumine it, as it says: "he hasteth to his place where he shines". AND HE TOOK OF THE STONES OF THE PLACE. This is an allusion to the twelve precious and wondrous stones of the upper layer, of which it is written, "Take you ... twelve stones" (Josh. IV, 3), and underneath which there are thousands and myriads of hewn stones. Hence it says "of the stones", and not simply "the stones". AND PUT THEM UNDER HIS HEAD (lit. heads). The plural form shows that we should refer the "his" not to Jacob but to the place, and understand the "heads" to be the four cardinal points of the world: he arranged the stones three to the [148a] North, three to the West, three to the South, and three to the East, and that place or spot was above them so that it should be established on them. Thereafter he LAY DOWN IN THAT PLACE TO SLEEP, for now that the couch was properly arranged, he, namely the sun, lay down on it. Thus the words "and he lay down in that place to sleep" are parallel to the text: "the sun ariseth and the sun comes in".'

Whilst R. Isaac was one day sitting at the entrance of the cave of Apikutha, a man passed by with his two sons. Said one of them to the other: 'The sun is most powerful when it is in the South, and were it not for the wind which tempers the heat, the world could not exist.' Said the younger brother: 'If not for Jacob, the world could not subsist. For when the unity of God is proclaimed by his sons with the verse, "Hear, o Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one" (Deut. VI, 4), which is an expression of perfect and absolute oneness, then Jacob their father joins them, and takes possession of his house, where he abides in close association with his fathers, so that male and female become united.' Said R. Isaac to himself: 'I will join them and listen to what they have to say.' He accordingly went along with them. The man then commenced to discourse on the verse: Arise, O Lord, unto thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy strength (Ps. CXXXII, 8). 'David,' he said, 'when he uttered these words, was like a man saying to a king, "Let your Highness arise and proceed to his abode of rest." Moses also addressed God similarly when he said: "Arise, O Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered" (Num. X, 35). The difference between the two is this. Moses spoke like a man giving orders in his own household, and so, as it were, bade the Lord to make war against His enemies; whereas David solicited Him to retire to His place of rest, and in accordance with the rules of etiquette included in his invitation both the King and His Consort. Hence he said: "Arise, O Lord, unto thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy strength", so as not to separate them. From David's conduct on this occasion we learn that anyone who invites a king should strive to entertain him in some novel [148b] fashion, so as to afford him special pleasure. If, for instance, it is the king's wont to be entertained by ordinary clowns and jesters, he should provide for him specially refined and courtly entertainers. Thus, when David invited the King and His Consort, he replaced the customary entertainers of the King with a higher order. So he said: "Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness, and let thy saints sing songs" (Ps. CXXXII, 9). Now the Levites were the regular musicians of the King. but David, having extended an invitation to Him, deviated from the normal practice and provided priests and saints to entertain Him. God said to him: "David, I do not wish to burden thee overmuch." Said David in reply: "O my Master, when Thou art in Thy palace, Thou doest according to Thy will, but now that I have invited Thee, it is for me to arrange matters, and it is my will to bring before Thee these, although it is not their usual task." From here we learn again that in his own house a man may arrange things as he pleases, but when invited out he must be at the command of his host, and conform to his desires. For when David substituted the priests for the Levites, God assented to his wish. David further said: "For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed" (Ibid. 10), as much as to say: "Let not the arrangements I have made be annulled." God said to him: "David, even my vessels I will not make use of, but will use thine instead." Nor did God stir from there until He had bestowed upon him a multitude of gifts, as it is written: "The Lord swore unto David in truth; he will not turn back from it: of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne" (Ibid. 11).' R. Isaac went up to the man and kissed him, saying: 'It was worth my while to come hither if only to hear this.'

The cider son of the man then discoursed thus: Ami Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went unto Haran. 'Jacob', he said, 'acted in conformity with the verse: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife" (Gen. II, 24). Or again, his action may be regarded as symbolical of a later time when Israel left the Sanctuary and were driven into exile among the nations, as described in the text: "And gone is from the daughter of Zion all her splendour" (Lam. I, 6), as well as in the passage, "Judah is gone into exile because of affliction" (Ibid. 3).' The younger son then began to discourse thus: And he lighted upon the place, and tarried there all night, etc. 'Even a king,' he said, 'when he desires to visit his consort, should coax her and use words of endearment, and not treat her as a mere chattel; and though he should have a golden couch with embroidered coverings in a grand palace, and she prepares for him a bed on a floor of stones with a straw mattress, it is incumbent on him to leave his own couch and lie down on hers, so as to give her satisfaction, and so that their hearts may be united, without any constraint. We learn this lesson from this text, which tells us that when Jacob went unto her, he "took from the stones of the place ... and lay down in that place to sleep", showing that he loved even the stones of that place.'

R. Isaac wept for joy, and said: 'Seeing that such pearls are in your possession, how can I help following you ?' The man said to him: 'You must leave us, as we have to go to the town to celebrate the wedding of this my son.' R. Isaac then said: 'I must then needs go my own way.' [149a] He then went and repeated the expositions he had heard to R. Simeon, who remarked: 'They indeed spoke well, and all they said about God has been affirmed by us. Moreover, these expositions come from the mouths of the descendants of R. Zadok the invalid. He was called invalid because he fasted forty years, praying that Jerusalem should not be destroyed in his life-time. He used to discover within each word of the Torah profound lessons, from which he deduced the proper rules for the conduct of life.' Said R. Isaac: 'Not many days elapsed before I again met that man, accompanied by his younger son. I said to him: "Where is your other son?" He said: "I had him married, and he is with his wife." Then, recognising me, he said: "I swear to you that I refrained from inviting you to the marriage of my son for three reasons: first, because I did not know you, and, since the style of an invitation must accord with the rank of the recipient, I was afraid lest you might happen to be a great man and I should unwittingly offend your dignity; secondly, I thought you might be in a hurry, and so I did not wish to inconvenience you; and thirdly, I did not wish to put you to shame in the presence of the company of guests, as it is a custom with us that whoever sits at table with the bride and bridegroom gives them presents and gifts." I said to him: "God give you credit for your good intentions." I further asked him his name, and he said: "Zadok the Little." On that occasion I learnt from him thirteen profound lessons in the Torah, and from his son I learnt three, one concerning prophecy, one concerning dreams, and one concerning the difference between prophecy and dreams. He said that prophecy is of the male world, whereas dreams are of the female world, and from the one to the other is a descent of six grades. Prophecy is from both the right side and the left side, but dreams are only from the left side. Dream branches out into many grades in reaching here below; hence dreams are universally diffused throughout the world, each man seeing the kind of dream that answers to his own grade. Prophecy, on the other hand, is confined to its own region.' [149b]

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AND HE DREAMED. It may be asked, how came Jacob, the holy man, the perfection of the Patriarchs, to have a vision only in a dream, and that in such a holy spot? The reason is that Jacob at that time was not yet married, and that Isaac was still alive. It is true that we find him subsequently saying: "and I saw in a dream" (Gen. XXXI, 10), at a time when he was already married. But that was due to the inferiority of the place, as well as to the fact that Isaac was still alive. So when he came into the Holy Land with all the tribes, with "the foundation of the house, the mother of the children rejoicing", we read, "and God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night" (Gen. XLVI, 2) -- not "dream", but "visions", which are of another and higher grade. Dreams are transmitted through the medium of Gabriel, who is the sixth in rank of inspiration; but a vision comes through the grade of the Hayyah that rules in the night. True, it says in one place, "Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision" (Dan. VIII, 16). The reason there is that a dream is more precise than a vision, and may explain what is obscure in a vision, and therefore Gabriel was sent to explain to Daniel what was obscure in his vision. A "vision" (mar'eh = vision, or mirror) is so called because it is like a mirror, in which all images are reflected. (Thus we read: "And I appeared ... as El Shaddai" (Ex. VI, 2), this grade being like a mirror which showed another form, since all supernal forms are reflected in it.)

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AND BEHOLD A LADDER SET UP ON THE EARTH. This ladder signifies the grade on which the other grades rest, to wit, the "Foundation of the world". AND THE TOP OF IT REACHED TO HEAVEN, so as to be attached to it. For this grade is the conclusion of the Body standing between the upper and the lower world in the same way as the sign of the covenant is situated at the end of the trunk of the body, between the thighs. AND BEHOLD, THE ANGELS OF GOD ASCENDING AND DESCENDING ON IT; this alludes to the Chieftains who have charge of all the nations, and who ascend and descend on that ladder. When Israel are sinful, the ladder is lowered and the Chieftains ascend by it; but when Israel are righteous, the ladder is removed and all the Chieftains are left below and are deprived of their dominion. Jacob thus saw in this dream the domination of Esau and the domination of the other nations. According to another explanation, the angels ascended and descended on the top of the ladder; for when the top was detached, the ladder was lowered and the Chieftains ascended, but when it was attached again, the ladder was lifted and they remained below. But it comes to the same thing.

It says of Solomon that" In Gibeon the Lord appeared to him in a dream by night" (I Kings III, 5). [150a] Here we have "appearing" and "dream" combined, to show that there was there a mingling of two grades, a higher and a lower, the reason being that Solomon had not then yet attained his full development. But when he had perfected himself it is written of him, "And God gave Solomon wisdom" (Ibid. V, 9), also" And Solomon's wisdom excelled, etc." (Ibid. 10); for the moon then reached its fullness and the Temple was built, and thus Solomon saw wisdom eye to eye and had no need of dreams. After he sinned, however, he was beholden again to dreams as before. Hence it says that "God appeared unto him twice" (Ibid. XI, 9) -- twice, that is, in dreams, for communications through wisdom he had every day. Moreover, the dream-medium of Solomon excelled that of all other men inasmuch as it was a mingling of grade with grade, of vision with vision. In his later days, however, darkness fell upon him on account of his sins, and the moon waned because he observed not the holy covenant and gave himself up to strange women. This was the condition God made with David, saying: "If thy children keep my covenant ... their children also for ever shall sit upon the throne" (Ps. CXXXII, 12), where the expression "for ever" is of the same import as the phrase "as the days of the heaven above the earth" (Deut. XI, 21). And since Solomon did not keep the covenant properly, the moon began to wane, and so in the end he was beholden again to dreams; and likewise Jacob was beholden to dreams, as explained before.

AND BEHOLD, THE LORD STOOD (nitsab) UPON IT, ETC. Here Jacob discerned the essential unity of the object of faith. This is implied in the term nitsab (firmly knit), which implies that Jacob saw all grades stationed as one on that ladder so as to be knit into one whole. And inasmuch as that ladder is situated between two sides, God said to him: I AM THE LORD, THE GOD OF ABRAHAM THY FATHER, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, these two being respectively of the two sides, one of the right and the other of the left. According to another explanation, the Lord was standing over him, to wit, over Jacob, so as to form the Divine Chariot, with the Community of Israel, embodied in Jacob, as the uniting link in the midst, between the right and the left. That Jacob was in the midst is proved by the fact that the text here calls Abraham "thy father", but not Isaac, thus showing that Jacob was next to Abraham; and hence the text naturally continues: THE LAND WHEREON THOU LIEST, showing that the whole formed one sacred Chariot. Here Jacob saw that he was to be the crown of the patriarchs. The words "the God of thy father Abraham and the God of Isaac" show that Jacob was attached to either side and holding fast to both of them. But as long as he was not married this fact is not disclosed in the text, save to those who can read between the lines. After he married and begat children, however, it was openly stated, as it is written: "And he erected there an altar, and the God of Israel called him El (godlike)". From here we learn that whoever is incomplete below remains incomplete on high. Jacob was an exception, yet he too before marriage was not perfected openly; or rather, he only foresaw that he eventually would be perfected. It is true, God had already said to him, "And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee whithersoever thou goest." This, however, only implies that God's care and protection were always with him in the hour of need, in this world; but as regards the" higher world, he was not sure of it till he had perfected himself.

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AND JACOB AWAKENED OUT OF HIS SLEEP, AND HE SAID: SURELY THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE, AND I KNEW IT NOT. How, we may ask, could he have known? The truth is, however, that he meant much the same as Saul when he said: "and I have not entreated the Presence of the Lord" (I Sam. XIII, 12). What Jacob really said was: "And I have not known Anokhi (I, i.e. the Shekinah)"; as much as to say: "Behold all this revelation has been vouchsafed to me whilst yet I have not reached the stage of a knowledge of Anokhi (I) and of entering under the wings of the Shekinah, so as to attain perfection". Similarly, Rebekah said: "If it be so, what boots me Anokhi (I)?" (Gen. XXV, 22), because she saw every day the splendour of the Shekinah, [150b] but when she felt the pains of approaching childbirth, "she went to enquire of the Lord" (Ibid.), that is, she proceeded from the Shekinah grade to another grade, identical with the Lord (Jehovah). Hence Jacob said: "Have I seen all this without knowing Anokhi?", because he was single, and had not yet come under the wings of the Shekinah. Straightway:

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AND HE WAS AFRAID, AND SAID: How FULL OF AWE 1ST HIS P LACE. The word "place" here has a twofold significance. It refers in the first instance to the place mentioned by Jacob in the preceding verse; but it also refers to the mark of the holy covenant, which should not be left inoperative. (These two significations, however, are only two aspects of one and the same idea.) Jacob then said: THIS IS NONE OTHER THAN THE HOUSE OF GOD, implying: "This is not to remain idle; its covenant is not meant to exist in isolation. It is in sooth a godly abode, to be used for the promotion of fecundity and for receiving blessing from all the bodily organs. For indeed this is THE GATE OF HEAVEN, or, in other words, the gate of the Body, the gate assuredly through which pass the blessings downwards, so that it is attached both on high and below: on high, as being the gate of heaven, and below, as being none other than the house of God." Hence "he was afraid, and said: How full of awe is this place I" But mankind (it may be added) pay no regard to its preciousness, so as thereby to become perfect on high and here below.'

The father of the youth went up to him and kissed him. R. Isaac said: 'When I heard him speak thus, I wept and said: Blessed be the Merciful One who has not allowed divine Wisdom to perish from the world. I followed them until we entered the next town, a distance of three parasangs. Hardly had they arrived in the town when the man had his son affianced. I said to him : "You act upon your own words." I also repeated the remark of R. Simeon, that all these verses are allegorical and have a profound significance. When I repeated all this in the presence of R. Simeon, he remarked to me that I should not think that all this exposition was merely the youth's own idea: it contains recondite thoughts which bear the seal of divine Wisdom.'

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AND JACOB VOWED A VOW, SAYING: IF GOD WILL BE WITH ME, ETC. Said R. Judah: 'After receiving all these promises, how could Jacob still say, "If God will be with me, etc."? What Jacob meant, however, was this: "Some dreams are true and some not, so if this dream should come true, and God will really be with me as I have dreamt, then "the Lord shall be to me for God", that is, I shall draw blessings from the well-spring of the universal stream towards the region called Elohim.' For Israel being in the centre take first of the original well-spring, and after the bounty reaches them they pass it on toward that region. Hence we may render: "and the Lord shall be toward me, first, and afterwards the whole will be drawn toward Elohim": i.e. in the same way as Elohim will fulfil for me all these good promises, so will I draw toward Him from my region all those blessings and will make Him the all-comprehensive uniting force. When will that be? "When I come back to my father's house in peace", when I shall be settled in my own grade, in the grade of peace so as to make perfect my father's house, then "will the Lord be toward me, toward Elohim (God)".' According to another explanation, Jacob meant: "I desire to come back to my father's house in peace, because there is the Holy Land, and there I will become perfected, and the Lord shall be my God. In that place will I duly rise from this grade to another grade, and there I will engage myself in His worship." R. Hiya adduced here the verse: The tale of iniquities is too heavy for me; our transgressions, thou wilt pardon them (Ps. LXV, 4). 'The two halves of the verse', he said, 'do not seem to fit one another. The truth is, however, that David first prayed for himself and then for mankind in general, as though to say, "I know my own sins, but there are a great number of sinners in the world whose sins are much more grievous than mine; this being so, both mine [151a] and theirs, all our transgressions, thou wilt pardon them." For when sinners become numerous in the world, they go up to the place where the records are kept, as it is written, "there is a sitting in judgement and the books are open" (Dan. VII, 10). That book stood, as it were, over the head of David, and hence he said, "The tale of iniquities is too heavy for me, and therefore", he went on, "our transgressions thou wilt pardon them". Jacob, being in a similar condition, felt distrustful, not of God, but of himself, and he feared lest his sins should prevent him from returning in peace and deprive him of God's providential care. THEN SHALL THE LORD BE MY GOD: i.e. should I return in peace, I shall not care even if the attribute of divine mercy becomes justice towards me, inasmuch as I will worship Him continually.' R, Aha said that Jacob's words amounted to saying: 'Now I have no need of severity, but when I will return to my father's house, I will link myself with that attribute also.' Said R. Jose: 'That is not so, but what Jacob practically said was: Now I require the attribute of divine justice to guard me (against my enemies) until I return in peace to my father's house, but then I will combine mercy with justice, and bind all attributes in a firm unity.'

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AND THIS STONE, WHICH I HAVE SET UP FOR A PILLAR, SHALL BE GOD'S HOUSE: seeing that all will be then united into one, and this stone will be blessed from the right and from the left, from on high and from below, for the reason that I will give the tenth of everything. We should have expected here, instead of Elohim, the name Jehovah, as in the text: "to prepare chambers in the house of the Lord (Jehovah)" (II Chr. XXXI, 20), also: "Let us go unto the house of the Lord (Jehovah)" (Ps. CXXII, 1). But in truth, the name Elohim here points to the tribunal which represents the attribute of justice on its two supernal sides, on the side of the Jubilee year, known as Living God (Elohim Hayyim), and on the side of Isaac, expressed simply by the term "God" (Elohim). R. Eleazar said: 'The Jubilee Year, although it dispenses judgement, is yet altogether pervaded with mercy and is the source of universal joy and gladness. But "the house of God (Elohim)" represents rigorous judgement only, on the side of the left, either for good, in consonance with the text, "His left hand be under my head" (S. S. II, 6), or for evil, as it says, "Out of the North the evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land" (Jer. I, 14). Well then may it be called "the house of God (Elohim)".' R. Simeon said: ' "The house of God (Elohim)" signifies the same as "the city of the great king" (Ps. XLVIll, 3). Verily the supernal world is not only" King", but a "Great King", and that is what is meant here.'

R. Hiya and R. Hizkiah were once sitting underneath a tree in the field of Ono. R. Hiya fell into a slumber and beheld Elijah. He said to him: 'The whole field is illumined with your presence.' Elijah answered: 'I am come to tell you that Jerusalem is about to be laid waste together with all the towns of the sages, for the reason that Jerusalem is the embodiment of judgement, and is preserved by judgement, and now judgement demands its destruction; and Samael has already been given power over it and over its mighty ones. I have therefore come to advise the sages thereof so that they may try to obtain for Jerusalem some years of grace. For so long as knowledge of the Torah is found therein it will be spared, the Torah being the tree of life by which all live. But when the study of the Torah ceases below, the tree of life disappears from the world. Hence so long as the sages cling to the Torah, Samael has no power over them, as Scripture says: "The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau" (Gen. XXVII, 22). The voice is the Torah, which is termed the voice of Jacob, and so long as that voice pours forth, the utterance also dominates and prevails (over the hands of Esau). Hence the study of the Torah should never cease.' R. Hiya [151b] then awoke, and they went and told the sages. Said R. Jesse: 'We all know this, and so it is written: "Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain" (Ps. CXXVII, 1), as much as to say: "It is those who labour in the Torah who preserve the Holy City, and not the warriors and men of might".'

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AND HE LOOKED, AND BEHOLD A WELL IN THE FIELD, ETC. R. Judah discoursed on the verse: A psalm (mizmor = song, hymn) of David when he fled from Absalom his son (Ps. III, 1). 'The companions', he said, 'have been perplexed by the title "song" given to this psalm. When his own son rose up against him, David should rather have uttered a lamentation, since a little hurt from one's kin is worse than a great hurt from a stranger. The truth, however, is that David was apprehensive lest the punishment for his sons might be remitted to the next world, and so when he found that it was being exacted from him in this world he rejoiced. Further, he was comforted by the fact that many, superior to himself, had had to flee alone, like Jacob, who "fled into the field of Aram" (Has. XII, 13), all alone, and Moses, who fled from the face of Pharaoh (Ex. II, 15), also alone; whereas he was accompanied by all the nobility and the valiant men of the land and the chiefs of Israel, who stood on his right hand and on his left to guard him on all sides. Seeing himself thus favoured, David broke out into song.' R. Judah further remarked: 'The fugitives mentioned above in the course of their wanderings all came across that well. Why not David also? The reason is that it was at that time at enmity with him, whereas it welcomed Jacob and Moses and was eager to approach them, and as soon as it saw them its waters rose to meet them, like a woman rejoicing to greet her husband. Why, it may be asked, was not Elijah when he fled also met by the well? The reason is that Elijah is beneath the well and not above it, as Moses and Jacob were, and hence he is an angel who executes messages. So when it says that "Jacob looked, and behold, a well in the field", there is here an inner meaning, to wit, that he discerned the supernal well which corresponds to the well below. This is borne out by the next words: THREE FLOCKS OF SHEEP LYING THERE BY IT. Since they were only [152a] three, why is it written, "And thither were all the flocks gathered" ? But in truth the three allude to the South, the East, and the North, the South on one side, the North on the other, and the East between them, all three standing by that well, holding fast to it and filling it. Why all this? FOR OUT OF THAT WELL THEY WATERED THE FLOCKS, the allusion being the same as in the text: "They give drink to all the Hayyoth of the field" (Ps. CIV, 11). Further, the words AND THITHER WERE ALL THE FLOCKS GATHERED, can be illustrated from the passage: "All the rivers run into the sea" (Eccl. I, 7). AND THEY ROLLED THE STONE FROM THE WELL'S MOUTH: i.e. they dispelled from it the rigidity of hard judgement, which congeals it as it were into stone, from which water cannot flow. For when those rivers arise, the South, which is on the right, gathers strength and prevents the North from solidifying the water. For a large river, with a great volume of water, does not become frozen and congealed so soon as a small river with a small volume of water. Hence when those rivers arrive, the South, which is the right, puts forth its strength and the waters thaw and are loosened, so as to flow onward and give drink to the flocks, as it says, "they water the Hayyoth of the field" (Ps. CIV, 11). Then "they put the stone back upon the well's mouth in its place", because the world has need of its judgement so as thereby to punish the guilty.

Observe that Jacob, when he sat by the well and saw the water rising up toward him, knew that there he would meet his destined wife; and so it was, as Scripture says: WHILE HE WAS YET SPEAKING WITH THEM, RACHEL CAME WITH HER FATHER'S SHEEP. AND IT CAME TO PASS WHEN JACOB SAW RACHEL, ETC. It was the same with Moses, who, when he sat down by the well, as soon as he saw the water rising toward him knew that there he would meet his destined wife; and so indeed it turned out, as we read: "And the shepherds came and drove them away, etc." (Ex. II, 17), with the result that there he met with Zipporah. [152b] It was the well that served as medium to both of them. Observe that in this section the term "well" (be'er) is mentioned seven times, which indicates the identification of this well with "Beer-Sheba" (the well of seven). In the narrative of Moses, on the other hand, the well is mentioned only once, when it says, "and he sat down by the well" (Ibid. 15). The reason is that Moses completely separated himself from his house here below, whereas Jacob did not separate himself at all. Moses adhered to one, the one of which we read: "My dove, my undefiled, is but one, she is the only one of her mother" (S. S. VI, 9). Moses thus was master of the house and ascended on high; hence of him it is written: "and he sat upon ('al) the well", whereas of Jacob it is merely written, "and he saw, and behold a well in the field".

[The following is an alternative exposition of this section. AND JACOB WENT OUT FROM BEER-SHEBA, AND WENT TOWARD HARAN. R. Abba discoursed on the verse: Happy are they that keep justice, that perform acts of charity (zedakah) at all times (Ps. CVI, 3). 'Happy are Israel', he said, 'to whom the Holy One, blessed be He, gave the Law of truth so that they should exert themselves in its study day and night, as whoever exerts himself in the study of the Torah achieves complete freedom, even from death, which can no more prevail over him, as already explained elsewhere. For whoever exerts himself in the study of the Torah and lays hold of it, lays hold of the tree of life; and whoever relaxes his hold of the tree of life, behold the tree of death overshadows him and takes hold of him. So Scripture says: "If thou relaxest in the day of adversity, thy strength is narrow indeed" (Prov. XXIV, 10), signifying that whoever relaxes in the study of the Torah, in the day of adversity his strength (Koah-KoH = the strength of KoH) is narrow indeed, to wit, the strength of KoH that continually follows on the right of the man that walks in the ways of the Torah, and forms his constant guard, so that the evil power is prevented from approaching him and is powerless to accuse him. But of him who turns aside from the ways of the Torah and relaxes his hold of it, it is said: "narrow indeed is the strength of KoH", as the evil power, represented by the left, obtains dominion over that man and thrusts aside that KoH, so that he has no room to move. According to another interpretation, the term "zar" (narrow) signifies here "adversary" ; for when a man holds fast to the ways of the Torah he is beloved both on high and below, and is the favourite of the Holy One, blessed be He, as we read: "And the Lord loved him" (II Sam. XII, 24); but when a man turns aside from the ways of the Torah, then zar kohekoh, that is, the strength of KoH becomes his enemy, and makes the evil one obtain dominion over him so as to accuse him in this world and the world to come. For the evil one, who is the same as the evil tempter, dominates the world from many sides, and exercises great power therein; he is indeed the very same mighty serpent through whom Adam fell into sin, and who entices mankind to draw him unto themselves until he draws out their souls. Now his power is over the body, and when he obtains that power over the body, the soul departs because the body has become defiled. To obtain that dominion over the body, however, the evil one must receive authorisation. Further, many evil powers come forth from his side to dominate the world. According to our teachers, all the affairs of the world come under their rule, as he has subordinates and ministers who interfere in all the activities of the world. Hence he is called the "left end". For, as already explained, there is a right end and a left end; and this left end is identical with the "end of all flesh". It is called "the end of all flesh", but not "the end of all spirit". Each is an "end" in the mystical sense, but one presides over flesh, the other over spirit, the latter being the inner one, the former the outer one; one being right, the other left, one being holy, the other defiled, as already explained elsewhere. Now observe a deep and holy mystery of faith, the symbolism of the male principle and the female principle of the universe. In the former are comprised all holinesses and objects of faith, and all life, all freedom, all goodness, all illuminations [153a] emerge from thence; all blessings, all benevolent dews, all graces and kindnesses -- all these are generated from that side, which is called the South. Contrariwise, from the side of the North there issue a variety of grades, extending downwards, to the world below. This is the region of the dross of gold, which comes from the side of impurity and loathsomeness and which forms a link between the upper and nether regions; and there is the line where the male and female principles join, forming together the rider on the serpent, and symbolised by Azazel. Now from thence there spread many grades which dominate the world, all of them presenting sides of defilement and acting as chieftains and prefects in the world. Observe that Esau, when he emerged into the world, was red all over like a rose, and was hairy after the pattern of a goat (sa'ir), and from such a being came forth chieftains and prefects, fully armed, who dominate the world. This has already been explained elsewhere. Observe now the verse previously cited: "Happy are they that keep justice", to wit, they who keep the faith of the Holy One, blessed be He, since God is justice, so that a man should be on his guard not to turn aside but to keep to the way of justice, as God is justice and all His ways are justice. The verse proceeds: "that exercise charity (zedakah) at all times". The words "at all times" cannot be taken quite literally, but refer to those who endeavour to follow the ways of the Torah and dispense charity to those who are in need of it. For when charity is given to the poor, its effect is felt both on high and here below. For that charity ascends on high and reaches to the region of Jacob, who is the supernal chariot, and causes blessings to flow toward that region from the very fountain of fountains; and from that charity he causes blessings to flow in abundance to all the lower beings and to all chariots and hosts. All these are blessed and increase in illumination, as is befitting, for they all are comprehended within the term "time" ('eth). This, then, is the meaning of the words "that do charity in the whole of time". Observe that as long as Israel were in the Holy Land they drew the blessings from on high to below, but after they went forth from the Holy Land they came under a strange power and blessings were withheld from the world. Jacob was at first under sacred jurisdiction, but when he departed from the land he entered into a strange jurisdiction. And before he came under a strange jurisdiction the Holy One, blessed be He, appeared unto him in a dream, and he saw wonderful things, and holy angels accompanied him until he sat down by the well; and when he sat by the well the waters thereof rose toward him, as a portent that he would there meet his wife, and the same thing happened to Moses. The inward significance of the matter is that the well only rose when it saw its affinity, to form with him a union.']

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:01 am

Part 2 of 3

AND JACOB WENT ON HIS JOURNEY, AND CAME TO THE LAND OF THE CHILDREN OF THE EAST (Gen. XXIX, 1). R. Abba said: 'Since Laban dwelt in Haran, why did Jacob go further on? That Laban dwelt in Haran we know from the verses: "And Jacob said unto them: My brethren, whence are ye? And they said: Of Haran are we. And he said: Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said: We know him" (Ibid. 4-5). The truth, however, is that Jacob said to himself: "I wish to enter into communion with the Shekinah, or in other words, I desire to marry. Now, when the servant was sent to take a wife for my father, he found a well of water through which he met my father's destined wife. But, behold, in this place I have found neither spring, nor well, nor any water at all." Straightway he proceeded further, and came to "the land of the children of the East", where he found a well, as already said, and where he encountered his wife.' Said R. Eleazar: 'That place was assuredly Haran, but the well was in an outlying field, and that is why it says that "Rachel ran and told her father" (Ibid. 12).' R. Eleazar further remarked: 'Since Jacob had to find his wife by the well, why did he not meet, there Leah, who was to be the mother of so many tribes? The answer is that it was not the will of God that Leah should be espoused to Jacob openly, and in fact he married her without his knowledge, as it is written: "And it came to pass in the morning that, behold, it was Leah" (Ibid. 25). It was also in order to rivet his eye and heart on the beauty of Rachel, so that he should establish his principal abode with her. [153b] How did Jacob know that she was Rachel? We must suppose that the shepherds told him, as it is written, "and, behold, Rachel his daughter came with the sheep" (Ibid. 6).'

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AND HE SAID: I WILL SERVE THEE SEVEN YEARS FOR RACHEL THY YOUNGER DAUGHTER. Why should Jacob have mentioned seven years rather than ten months or one year? For one thing, Jacob did not want people to say that he lusted after Rachel's beauty. Also he knew that the wisdom of the moon requires a septennate; and all the seven supernal years hovered over Jacob before he married Rachel, so that his association with her should accomplish its true purpose. For Jacob, before his marriage, first made his own all those years, so that when at last he came to her he should be as it were the heaven to her earth. Hence it says: AND THEY SEEMED UNTO HIM BUT A FEW DAYS. The inner meaning of the word ahadim (few, lit. united) is that all those seven years resembled in his eyes those superior years that are bound together so as to form a complete whole and an inseparable unity. The verse continues: FOR THE LOVE HE HAD FOR HER, that is, his desire to reproduce the supernal pattern. R. Abba said: 'Jacob assuredly served seven years in order to join himself to the Sabbatical Year.' R. Eleazar said: 'Observe that the Jubilee Year, wherever mentioned, symbolises that which is undisclosed (to the human mind), whereas the Sabbatical Year symbolises the disclosed. So when Jacob had served the first seven years, a voice went forth and said: O Jacob, it is written: "from one world to the other world" (Ps. CVI, 48). The one world is the upper world, which is veiled, the category of the Jubilee Year. From thence is the starting point; for those which are veiled and undisclosed are from the category of the Jubilee Year.' Hence they were hidden from Jacob, who thus mistakenly thought that his own seven years were from the Sabbatical septennate. Their inwardness was hidden from him in order that he should make a beginning from the highest world, from the Jubilee cycle which is undisclosed. And after the years symbolic of the Jubilee cycle, which is undisclosed, had passed, he served the years of the Sabbatical septennate which are disclosed. He was thus crowned with the two worlds and laid hold of both of them.

Observe that Leah bore six sons and one daughter. That was in the order of things, since six world-directions were stationed above her, and so the six sons and one daughter formed a symbol of the grades. Rachel bore two righteous ones, and this was also in order, since the Sabbatical septennate is placed perpetually between two Righteous Ones, as it is written: "The righteous ones shall inherit the land" (Ps. XXXVII, 29), one Righteous One on high and one below. From the one on high there is a flowing out of upper waters, and from the one below there is a reciprocal welling up of water from the female principle toward the male principle in a perfect ecstasy. There are thus a Righteous One on this side and a Righteous One on that side; and as the male principle above is situated between two female principles, so the female principle below is situated between two Righteous Ones. Hence Joseph and Benjamin represent the two Righteous Ones. Joseph merited to be the (symbol of the) Righteous One on high in virtue of his having kept under guard the sign of the holy covenant. Benjamin was the Righteous One below, so that the Sabbatical septennate was crowned between Righteous Ones, to wit, Joseph the righteous and Benjamin the righteous.

It may be asked, was Benjamin indeed a righteous man? Yes, he was, in that he never in his life transgressed in regard to the sign of the holy covenant. It is true, however, that he was never exposed to a temptation like that of Joseph. If so, why was he called righteous? The reason is that during the whole time of Jacob's mourning for the loss of Joseph he abstained from conjugal intercourse. But, it may be said, when Joseph was carried off, was not Benjamin a mere child? What, then, is the point of saying that he abstained from conjugal intercourse? The answer is that he abstained from conjugal intercourse even after he was married. But again we may ask, how is this to be squared with the tradition that Joseph, when he came down to Egypt, asked him whether he had a wife and children, and he answered, "Yes, and they are all named in memory of my brother, to wit, Bela and Becher, and Ashbel, Gera, and Naaman, etc." (Gen. XLVI, 21). How, then, can it be said that he abstained from conjugal relations? The truth, however, is that Benjamin had no children at that time, but he had begotten them already when the brethren went (finally) to Egypt. Benjamin, then, assuredly observed conjugal abstinence all the time his father mourned for Joseph, saying: "Behold, my brother Joseph constituted the sign-of-the-holy-covenant of my father, that sign being the end of the bodily trunk. Now that he is lost I have to guard [154a] the place of my brother". One may still object that at the time when Joseph was lost Benjamin had not yet proved himself righteous, and he did not, in fact, do so until the time when he withstood temptation. But the truth is that Jacob knew that Joseph would guard that place, and the others obtained that knowledge from Jacob. It was for that reason that he prolonged his stay with Laban until his body, as it were, was made complete, the completion being constituted by the sign of the holy covenant. Hence it is written: "And it came to pass when Rachel had borne Joseph, etc." (Ibid. XXX, 25), Jacob having said to Laban in so many words, "Now that my body has been made complete I am desirous of going." In this way Benjamin knew that his brother was righteous, and he trod in his footsteps. And after Joseph had been found he returned home, had conjugal intercourse, and begat children. God thus declared him righteous here below and Joseph righteous above.

It was thus in the order of things that Rachel bore two sons and Leah six sons and a daughter; and the first seven years were thus veiled from Jacob as they represented the Jubilee cycle; and whilst in intention serving the Sabbatical seven years, which are of the disclosed realm, Jacob in reality served the Jubilee cycle which belongs to the undisclosed realm. So Scripture says: "And Jacob served seven years for Rachel", the term seven years being unqualified, implying that he served for Rachel seven years of the supernal order, and he thus laid hold of both worlds. From here we learn that only through the disclosed can a man reach the undisclosed. If it is asked, how can the first seven years correspond to the Jubilee cycle, seeing that in regard to the latter it is written, "seven times seven years" (Lev. XXV, 8), and here there are no seven times, the answer is that the seven times are represented in the seven days of festivity with which Jacob celebrated his marriage with Leah. The number was thus made complete, since each day may be regarded as sevenfold, in harmony with the verse, "Seven times a day do I praise thee, because of thy righteous ordinances" (Ps. CXIX, 164), and the seven years were thus to be multiplied by the seven days. But, it may be said, Jacob should have first served the Sabbatical septennate and attached himself to the grade of the Sabbatical year. The answer is that since in intention he did serve them, the effect was the same as if he had served them in reality.' R. Abba then came up to R. Eleazar and kissed him, saying: 'Blessed be the Merciful One for the exposition of this verse. Concerning such a privilege, it is written: "The Lord was pleased for his righteousness' sake, to make the Torah great and glorious" (Is. XLII, 21).' R. Eleazar said further: 'What has been said about Leah having borne six sons and one daughter and Rachel having borne two sons is assuredly correct; but how do the sons of the concubines fit into the scheme? They constitute, as it were, the four joints, the so-called hinder parts, alluded to in the statement: "and all their hinder parts were inward" (I Kings VII, 25). For the right arm contains three joints, the middle one of which is the largest and projects backwards, being as it were outside the body. There is a similar joint in the left arm, as well as in the right thigh and in the left thigh; and when the whole is properly arranged, all of them look inward, in fulfilment of the statement, "all their hinder parts were inward". Now all the other joints are in the line of the body, but these protrude outside the arms and the thighs. Correspondingly, the sons of the handmaids, although they are within the number, yet are not of the same rank as the sons of Rachel and Leah, and thus remain outside. According to another explanation, these four are the joints by which all the others are moved.' R. Abba remarked: 'So assuredly it is, and thus the whole is properly constructed. '

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AND THE LORD SAW THAT LEAH WAS HATED. R. Eleazar said: 'It is written: "Who sets aright the foundation ('aqereth, lit. barren woman) of the house, a joyful mother of children. Hallelujah" (Ps. CXIII, 9). "The foundation of the house" is an allusion to Rachel, whereas by "a joyful mother of children" is meant Leah. According to another explanation, the "foundation of the house" is an allusion to the Sabbatical year, which constitutes the basis of this world; and "a joyful mother of children" signifies the Jubilee year, on which depend the joy and gladness of all the worlds; and this verse comprehends them all in a sacred symbolism, and hence the concluding word, "Hallelujah". We can now understand why it says here that "Leah was hated". This seems strange, in view of the fact that children of a hated woman are of a low type, whereas all Leah's children were of a high type. But the truth is that the Jubilee is a veiled world nothing of which [154b] is disclosed to human intelligence; hence Jacob was wholly unaware of it. Now the lower world is intelligible, and is the starting point for the ascending grades. Just as the Supernal Wisdom is a starting point of the whole, so is the lower world also a manifestation of Wisdom, and a starting point of the whole. This world, therefore, is named "Thou" (attah), being symbolic of the Sabbatical year, and is intelligible, whereas the upper world, symbolic of the Jubilee, is named He (hu' = he, or it), as it is wholly veiled from human understanding. Hence there is an inner significance in the words "and he lay with her that (hu') night". Hence, too, it is written: "And the Levite shall serve hu (him)" (Num. XVIII, 23), so as to draw blessings for every one from it, namely from the upper world, which remains for ever veiled. Jacob, however, had no mind to attach himself to the undisclosed, but only to the disclosed, in harmony with the recondite meaning of the verse, "and he shall cleave to his wife" (Gen. II, 25). Also, from the words: "And the Lord saw that Leah was hated" we may learn that a man is not naturally tempted by his mother, and that hence he may remain alone with his mother in any place whatever without any scruple. Observe that it was for the sake of Jacob that the world became firmly established. (For though we have said elsewhere that it was for the sake of Abraham, the truth is that it was for the sake of Jacob that Abraham was firmly established, as it is written: "Thus saith the Lord, concerning the house of Jacob who redeemed Abraham" (Is. XXIX, 22).) For at first God built up worlds and destroyed them, and only when Jacob came did the worlds take their final form, and were not again demolished as heretofore. So Scripture says: "But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, 0 Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel" (Is. XLIII, 1). Israel is also called "son" to God, as it is written: "Israel is my son, my firstborn", also, "Let my son go that he may serve me" (Ex. IV, 22-23). There is also the same allusion in the verse: "What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou knowest" (Prov. xxx, 4).'

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AND SHE CALLED HIS NAME REUBEN (lit. see, a son). She did not give him a more specific name, because he was to form a group with the other two, Simeon and Levi. The name Levi, being akin to the term loyoth (joining) (I Kings VII, 30), signifies the perfect combination of them into one scheme. R. Judah said that the same idea is implied in the phrase: "The excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power" (Gen. XLIX,3), which is rendered in the Chaldaic paraphrase: "Birthright, priesthood, and kingdom", kingdom belonging to the side of power (Geburah). Hence the name Reuben, implying "son" (ben), simply. R. Abba said that the birth of that triad, as implied in the name Reuben, was the goal towards which Leah strove, as indicated in her utterance: "Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have borne him three sons" (Gen. XXIX, 34), that is, three joined together as one. Observe now that the Heavenly Throne consists of our three patriarchs, to whom King David was subsequently joined, making together a tetrad, symbolic of the Divine Tetragrammaton. Correspondingly we have Reuben, Simeon, and Levi, to whom later on there was joined Judah, who inherited the kingship. Hence the significance of the passage: "This time will I praise the Lord. Therefore she called his name Judah. And she left off bearing", the reason being that now all the four supports of the Heavenly Throne were completed. (Why did she say: "this time will I praise the Lord" in regard to this son and not in regard to any of the others? The truth is that we learn from here that as long [155a] as the Community of Israel is in exile the Divine Name remains incomplete.) Observe that with the birth of three sons the Heavenly Throne was not yet made complete until Judah was born; hence only then Leah said, "This time will I praise the Lord", and not in regard to any of the other sons; and hence again the term vatha'amod (and she left off, lit. stood), implying that the Heavenly Throne stood then firm on its supports. (This term also indicates that up to that point there is unity, but below that is the world of separation.) As for the two other sons born subsequently with the same characteristics, these were united with the others, constituting together a unity symbolic of the six directions of the world.

Observe further that all the twelve tribes are the integral parts of the Community of Israel in this world, to give full strength to the supernal light, enveloped in blackness, and restore the root principle of the Whole to its place. All the worlds are built on the same pattern; and through this relation the lower world was completed on the pattern of the upper world. By the birth of Issachar and Zebulun there was made complete the number six, symbolic of the six directions of the world. Then again the four sons of the handmaids were associated with them, they being, as it were, the four joints that were linked with them, as already explained. So Scripture says of them: "and their hinder parts were inward" (I Kings VII, 25), to wit, although they were the sons of the handmaids, yet they belonged inward. R. Hizkiah said: 'We have affirmed that what the lower world produces belongs to the category of separation, as it is written "and from thence it was parted" (Gen. II, 11). If so, what about Joseph and Benjamin? How can you say that they belonged to the same world as the others, since they did not issue from the upper world, and what the lower world brings forth is for the lower world and not for the upper world; and, if so, they are separated from the others, since it has been laid down that whatever the lower world produces belongs to the category of separation.' R. Abba came up and kissed him and said: 'This is a real difficulty, since it is true that the upper world becomes perfected by the twelve which properly belong to it. But it can be solved esoterically as follows. At every moment the Righteous One both leaves and enters the lower world. Hence he is built up in this place, while his root is above. Thus he is always present in the lower world. [155b] It is written: "And it came to pass as her soul (nafshah) was in departing, for she died" (Gen. XXXV, 18). Now the Righteous One is both in and out of this lower world. When he enters it he does so as symbolised by Joseph the righteous; and when he leaves it he does so as symbolised by Benjamin. Hence it says in connection with the birth of Benjamin: "And it came to pass as her soul (nafshah) was in departing -- for she died", where "her soul" alludes to the Righteous One that was departing, to wit, Benjamin. She called him Ben-oni (son of my sorrow), thinking that what she bore belonged to the lower world, the world of separation, thus leaving only eleven as belonging to the upper world. His father, however, called him Benjamin (son of the right hand) (Ibid.), implying that he ascended on high to the upper world; for when Joseph disappeared Benjamin took his place. Thus did the Righteous One both enter the lower world and leave it. Hence Joseph and Benjamin and all the others completed the number of twelve, who formed a unity after the supernal pattern.'

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THIS TIME WILL I PRAISE THE LORD. R. Simeon adduced here the verse: "I will praise the Lord with my whole heart (lebab), with the council of the upright, and with the congregation" (Ps. CXI, 1). 'The intensified form lebab (heart) is used here', he said, 'to show that David desired to praise the Lord with his whole being, including both his good prompter (yetser-tob) and his evil prompter (yetser-ra'), or, in other terms, the right side and the left side, the heart (lebab), being symbolic of South and North. By the phrase "with the council of the upright" David implied the other directions, making up the six directions of the world, after the supernal pattern; "the congregation" is a reference to the realm of Judah, the term 'edah (congregation) being akin to the term 'eduth (testimony) in the passage, "and my testimony (ve-'edothi) that I shall teach them" (Ps. CXXXII, 13), as well as to the vocable 'od (yet) in the passage, "but Judah yet ('od) ruleth with God, etc." (Hos. XII, 1). On the other hand, in the verse: "I will praise thee with my whole heart (libi), toward Elohim will I sing praise unto thee" (Ibid. CXXXVIII, 1), David addressed himself to one single realm, designated Elohim [1], singing praises to the grade associated with the right side. Observe that Judah embraced all sides, having taken hold of the South as well as of the East; himself issuing from the left side, with his beginning in the North, he took hold of the South, since his turnings were to the right, and attached himself to the body. Hence Leah's words: "This time I will praise the Lord." The words, "And she stood still not to bear any more" imply that there was now a firm standing, that all was now in order, since the Heavenly Throne was now (with the birth of Judah) made complete.'

R. Simeon was once walking in the country when he met R. Abba and R. Hiya and R. Jose. When he saw them he said: 'We ought to have here some new expositions of the Torah.' So the three of them sat down for a time. When he was about to go, each one of them in turn discoursed on a Scriptural text. R. Abba took the verse: And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot had separated from him: Lift up now thine eyes, etc. (Gen. XIII, 14). 'Did Abraham then', he asked, 'inherit only so much of land as was within his range of vision and no more -- a mere three, four, or, at most, five parasangs? This would contradict the next verse saying: "for all the land which thou seest to thee I will give it" (Ibid. 15). But the truth is that in surveying the four directions of the world he saw the whole land, since the four directions embrace the whole world. Furthermore, God raised him high above the Land of Israel [ls6a) and made him see how it is bound up with the four cardinal points. Abram thus looked over the whole of the land. In a similar way, whoever sees R. Simeon sees the whole world, sees the delight of the upper world and the lower world.' R. Hiya followed with the text: "The land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed" (Gen. XXVIII, 13). 'Did God, then', he asked, 'promise him no more than that spot, a mere four or five cubits? The truth, however, is that God at that moment folded up the whole of the land of Israel within those four cubits, so that that spot comprised the whole land. Now, if the whole land can be so concentrated, how much more truly may it be said that R. Simeon, who is the light of the world, is of equal worth with the whole world!' R. Jose then took the passage: "This time will I praise the Lord." 'Was it not', he asked, 'equally incumbent on her to praise God for the birth of her other sons? But the truth is that Judah, in virtue of being the fourth son, was the completion of the Heavenly Throne. Judah alone is thus the mainstay of the Heavenly Throne and is its truest support. For this very reason, moreover, was he called Judah (YHVDH), a word which contains the Divine Name with the addition of the letter Daleth (four), pointing to the four supports of the Heavenly Throne. With how much greater force can this be said of R. Simeon, who illumines the whole world with the light of the Torah, and who kindles the light of many lamps!'

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AND REUBEN WENT IN THE DAYS OF WHEAT HARVEST, AND FOUND MANDRAKES IN THE FIELD. R. Isaac discoursed on the verse: How manifold are thy works, O Lord! In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy creatures (Ps. CIV, 24). 'Who', he said, 'can count the works of the Almighty, inasmuch as there are hosts upon hosts, and legions upon legions of beings, each differing from the other, all existing simultaneously? For just as the one hammer-blow causes sparks to fly off in all directions, so God brought into being simultaneously manifold species and hosts, each differing from the other, without number. The world was brought into being by a word and a breath together, as it is written: "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Ps. XXXIII, 6). One is inoperative without the other, but from their combined action there came into being hosts upon hosts and legions upon legions, and all simultaneously. Now when God was about to create the world, He produced a secret spark from which there issued and radiated all the lights which are disclosed. First there spread from it those lights which constitute the upper world. Then it continued its radiation, and the Artificer made it into a light without brightness, and thus He made the lower world. And by reason of its being a light, but without illumination, it feels itself attracted towards [156b] the upper world. Now it is that light without illumination which through its attachment to the upper world brought into being all those legions and hosts of existences, all the multitudinous species, of which it is written, "How manifold are thy works, etc." And whatever is on earth has its counterpart on high, there being no object, however small, in this world but what is subordinate to its counterpart above which has charge over it; and so whenever the thing below bestirs itself, there is a simultaneous stimulation of its counterpart above, as the two realms form one interconnected whole. This may be illustrated from the verse: GIVE ME, I PRAY THEE, OF THY SON'S MANDRAKES. It was not the mandrakes that made Rachel bear children, but God used them as an instrument for procuring the birth of a child, Issachar, who should hold fast to the Torah more than all the other tribes. For Rachel at first held fast to Jacob and did not let him go to Leah, as it is written: "Is it a small matter that thou hast taken away my husband?" But afterwards Rachel said: "Therefore he shall lie with thee to-night for thy son's mandrakes." Thus the mandrakes were responsible for the birth of Issachar, through whom the fragrance of the Torah ascended to the presence of the Almighty, in harmony with the words: "The mandrakes give forth fragrance" (S. S. VII, 14); and thus it is further written: AND HE LAY WITH HER THAT (hu) NIGHT, where the term hu (he) points assuredly to Him of the supernal world, which, as already explained, is hidden absolutely. For the Torah came forth from the upper world, which is everywhere pointed to by the vocable hu (He), indicating a realm undisclosed. Now Issachar took hold of the Torah, which is called the tree of life, meaning life of the upper world, which is called hu (he) and not attah (thou). It is clear that it was not the mandrakes that opened Rachel's womb, seeing that it is written "and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb" -- God, and no other. For although the mandrakes are endowed with a certain power above, yet that power cannot influence the birth of children, inasmuch as children depend on fate (mazzal) and nothing else. However, the mandrakes also are a help to [157a] women who are slow in child-bearing but not barren, the latter being under the influence of mazzal.'

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AND LEAH WENT OUT TO MEET HIM, AND SAID: THOU MUST COME IN UNTO ME, ETC. This language appears on the surface to be immodest, but really it is a proof of Leah's modesty that she said nothing in the presence of her sister, but went out to meet Jacob, and there told him in a low tone that, though he properly belonged to Rachel, yet I HAVE SURELY HIRED THEE, and have obtained permission from Rachel; and in order that he might not become confused in the sight of Rachel, she spoke to him outside and not in the house. Moreover, one door of Leah's tent faced on the road, and she brought him in by that door before he could enter into the tent of Rachel, so that she should not say anything in the presence of Rachel, which would have been immodest. She further reflected that should Jacob once enter Rachel's tent, it would not be right for her to make him leave it; she therefore intercepted him outside. Leah went to all this trouble because the Holy Spirit stirred within her, and she knew that all those holy tribes would issue from her; and she thus hastened the hour of union in her loving devotion to God, and under the same inspiration she called them by names with deep symbolical meanings.

As R. Hiya and R. Jose were once walking on the road, the latter said: 'Every time we walk together and discuss matters pertaining to the Torah, God performs for us miracles, and now that we have a long road before us let us occupy ourselves in the Torah and so God will join us.' R. Hiya then opened with the verse: In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread (Ex. XII, 18). 'This unleavened bread', he said, 'is called in another place "bread of affliction" (Deut. XVI, 3), an expression on which the companions have commented as follows. When Israel were in Egypt they were under an alien power; and when God desired to bring them near unto Himself, He assigned them the region of the bread of 'oni (affliction), the term 'oni admitting also of the reading 'ani (poor), and thus pointing to King David, who said of himself: "for I am poor ('ani) and needy" (Ps. LXXXVI, 1). Now this bread of affliction is called manah (unleavened bread), symbolic of the female principle, which without the male principle is, so to speak, in poverty. Thus Israel were first brought near the grade symbolised by mazzah. But afterwards God caused them to enter other grades, until the male principle joined the female principle, and so mazzah received the addition of the letter vau, symbolic of the male principle, and became converted into mizvah (command, precept). So Scripture says: "For this commandment" (Deut. XXX, 7): first mazzah (unleavened bread), then mizvah (commandment).'

Whilst they were going along they heard a voice saying: "Ye tent-dwellers who take a crooked path, turn to the high ground and do not descend by the path leading downwards.' R. Jose said: 'This proves that God is guarding our way.' They then took the mountain path and ascended a hill that was situated between huge rocks, saying to themselves: 'Since God desires us to take this road, we are sure to see something of note, or experience some miracle.' They went on and sat down by a cleft in the rock, and were amazed to see a man suddenly emerge from it. 'Who art thou?' said R. Jose. 'I belong to the denizens of Arqa,' he answered. 'Are there human beings there?' they asked. 'Yes,' he answered, 'and they sow and reap. Some of them are of a strange appearance, different from my own; and the reason I ascended to you is to learn from you the name of the earth wherein ye dwell.' 'This earth', R. Jose replied, 'is called erez, namely, the erez (land) of life, of which it is written: "As for the earth (erez), out of it cometh bread" (Job XXVIII, 5), implying that only out of this earth cometh bread, but not out of any other, or if it does come, it is not bread of any of the seven kinds.' The man thereupon returned to his place, leaving them astonished. They said: 'Assuredly, God wishes to recall something to our minds through this incident.' R. Hiya then said: 'Assuredly so. Now in regard to the verse you have just cited, I remember that my grandfather pointed out to me an excellent idea in connection with the unleavened bread, namely, that God first gave Israel that bread from the land of life and afterwards He gave them bread from heaven; and so we have affirmed. He further said that a [157b] man born into this world knows nothing until he tastes bread, and only then is there an awakening in him of intelligence and power of discernment. In the same way, when Israel left Egypt they were devoid of all knowledge until God made them taste bread of that earth called erez, of which it says: "As for the earth (erez), bread cometh of it." Then Israel began to know and to recognise God. God, however, desired that they should know also of that place which is the fitting counterpart of this earth, but they were not able to do so until they tasted bread from that place, to wit, heaven, as it says: "I will cause to rain bread from heaven for you" (Ex. XVI, 4). It was only then that they attained to a knowledge and a vision of that realm.' R. Jose came up to R. Hiya and kissed him, saying: 'Assuredly this was the reflection of which God desired to remind us. We learn, then, that the preliminary to Israel's knowledge was bread.' They then arose and proceeded on their way. Whilst walking they noticed two Damascene plums, a mate and a female, which led R. Jose to remark: "There is no species which is not divided into male and female. Further, whatever being exists on dry land has its counterpart in the sea.'

R. Jose discoursed on the verse: AND JACOB CAME FROM THE FIELD IN THE EVENING, AND LEAH WENT OUT TO MEET HIM. 'According to tradition,' he said, "she knew of his coming through the braying of an ass, and hence Scripture says: "Issachar is an ass large-boned" (Gen. XLIX,14), where the word garem (large-boned) can also be read garam (he caused), signifying that the ass was a cause of his birth. Leah said to herself: I assuredly know that should Jacob once enter Rachel's tent I shall not be able to get him out again. I will therefore await him here so that he may enter my tent. FOR I HAVE SURELY HIRED THEE WITH MY SON'S MANDRAKES. She mentioned the mandrakes to Jacob, because she thought this would predispose him in her favour, on account of their efficacy for childbirth. Jacob, however, knew that it did not depend on the mandrakes but on heaven. By the words "for I have surely hired thee", Leah may have referred to the Torah, which Jacob embodied. Or she may have meant literally his own self, as much as to say: [158a] "I have hired thee so that I may bear thy very image." From here we learn that whoever studies diligently the Torah inherits the world to come and the inheritance of Jacob. For the name Issachar may be divided into the two words yesh sakher (there is a reward), found in the verse: "there is a reward to thy work" (Jer. XXXI, 16), and again: "There is (yesh) an inheritance for those that love me, and I will fill their treasures" (Prov. VIII, 21).'

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BECAUSE I HAVE BORNE HIM SIX SONS. R. Hizkiah said: 'The six sons prefigured the upward and downward and the four directions of space, and the purpose of prolonging the word ehad (in reciting the Shema) is to acclaim God as King on high and below and in the four directions of the world, and so truly one.' R. Hizkiah further said: 'A distinction is to be drawn between "mountains of separation" (S. S. II, 17) and "mountains of spices" (Ibid. VIII, 14). The latter are typified by the six sons of Leah, who included within themselves the other six sons, thus constituting all the twelve, with Leah presiding, as it were, over them, in fulfilment of the passage: "the mother of the children is joyful. Praise ye the Lord" (Ps. CXIII, 9). It is therefore written "thou shalt not take the dam with the young" (Deut. XXII, 6), for the reason that she represents the undisclosed world, and hence: "thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, but the young thou mayest take unto thyself" (Ibid. 7), inasmuch as she symbolises the world that is absolutely concealed, while "the young thou mayest take unto thyself" in harmony with the verse: "For ask now of the days past, etc., and from the one end of heaven unto the other" (Ibid. IV, 22). Now, all these are called "mountains of spices", whereas all which is underneath is called "the mountains of separation", in allusion to the passage: "and from thence it was parted and became four heads" (Gen. II, 10).' R. Jesse said: 'The sons of the handmaids represented the four joints which were necessary for the perfecting of the whole.' R. Eleazar remarked: 'It was for that reason that these joints project outwards, despite the fact that they are all organic parts of the body, which otherwise is perfectly straight; and thus all the tribes ascend as a testimony on high, as Scripture says: "Whither the tribes went up, even the tribes of the Lord, as a testimony unto Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord" (Ps. CXXII, 4).' R. Eleazar further cited the verse:

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AND IT CAME TO PASS WHEN RACHEL HAD BORNE JOSEPH, ETC. 'With the birth of Joseph, Jacob saw that the adversary of Esau had appeared, and he therefore made ready to depart. Observe further that Joseph gave, as it were, fixity to Jacob, corresponding to the Zaddik in whom the Body ends, and so he merited in particular to be called righteous. So when Jacob saw that the Body was made complete, his body conceived the desire to depart, the completion of the body being the sign of the covenant. But for all that it was Benjamin who completed the number of the twelve tribes. Why, then, it may be asked, did Jacob, knowing that the number of the tribes was not yet full, not wait for the birth of Benjamin to complete the number? The reason is that Jacob was guided by a further consideration. "It is clear", he said, "that if the number of the tribes will be completed here, then divine perfection will rest upon them in the appropriate manner; but in this land it is not desirable that they should attain perfection, but only in the Holy Land." The proof that all the twelve tribes together effect the full realisation of the lower world is to be seen in the fact that immediately Benjamin was born Rachel died, and this lower world fell into its proper place, and attained through them perfect realisation. Hence Benjamin had to be born in the Holy Land and not elsewhere. So Scripture says: "And as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died unto me in the land of Canaan" (Gen. XLVIII, 7). Rachel thus died there, and her place was filled by this lower world, which assumed its rightful place in a completed House. But as long as Rachel was alive the lower world could not be made perfected through them. If it is asked why Leah did not die at the same time, the answer is that the House was in the lower world, and from it all were to be brought to full self-realisation, but it was not in the upper world. This was the reason that Leah did not die at that time. Moreover, all that concerned Leah is kept under a veil, as she typified the upper world, which is veiled and undisclosed; and this is another reason why Leah's death is not divulged like that of Rachel. It is in accordance, too, with this difference between the upper and the lower worlds that Leah was buried away from sight in the cave of Machpelah; whereas Rachel was buried by the open road. Hence it is that all blessings are from two worlds, the disclosed and the undisclosed, though the whole originates from the upper world; [158b] and when we offer blessings to God we invariably associate Him with the two worlds in such words as: "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from one world even unto the other world" (Ps. CVI, 48). It is for this reason that the upper world is named Hu (He), whereas the lower world is named Attah (Thou), because it is blessed from the upper world through the Righteous One. Thus Scripture says: "Blessed be the Lord out of Zion, who dwelleth in Jerusalem, etc." (Ps. CXXXV, 21): assuredly it is out of Zion that He is blessed. Observe that we similarly find the divine Name repeated twice in: "The Lord, the Lord ... merciful and gracious" (Ex. XXIV, 6), alluding to the two worlds, the hidden and the revealed; and this explains the tonal pause between the two. But for all that, the one world and the other form together an absolute unity.'

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AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN RACHEL HAD BORNE JOSEPH, ETC. R. Judah said: 'Jacob, as a straightforward man, did not wish to leave save by the permission of Laban. In the end, it is true, he did depart without asking Lahan's permission, but this was because he feared that Laban would not let him go, and in consequence the last of the twelve tribes would be born in an alien land. Hence, when he saw that the time had come for Benjamin to be born, he fled, as it is written: SO HE FLED WITH ALL THAT HE HAD. For as soon as Benjamin was born, the Shekinah attached herself to the company of the tribes and made her home with them. And Jacob, through his knowledge of the mystic symbolism, was aware that as soon as the twelve tribes should be complete the Shekinah would make them her adornment and attach herself to them, and that Rachel would die and the Shekinah would take possession of the House. Our tradition tells us that the lower world was assigned to Jacob in the same way as it was later to Moses, but this could not be accomplished until there were the full twelve tribes in the House to whom the Shekinah cou1d attach herself. It was then that Rachel was removed, and the Shekinah took up her abode in the House with all the tribes, and become the foundation of the House. Assuredly, "He sets in her place the foundation of the House" (Ps. CXIII, 9). Jacob thus said: "The time has now arrived for the number of the twelve tribes to be completed, so that the upper world will be due to descend into the House to become attached to them, and this poor woman (Rachel) will be thrust out to make room for it. Should she die here, I shall never be able to get away. Moreover, this is not the land where it is fitting that the House should be made complete." Hence AND IT CAME TO PASS, ETC.' R. Simeon, on hearing all this exposition, said: 'Assuredly all R. Judah's expositions are excellent, but this excels them all. Jacob might indeed have departed at once, but he delayed until Rachel was pregnant with Benjamin. Then he fled without asking permission, so as not to linger there any more and so that his union with all the tribes might be effected in the fitting place.'

R. Abba said: 'We read of Moses that "he went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, etc." (Ex. IV, 18). Now Moses, who was the shepherd of Jethro's flock and lived with him as Jacob with Laban, when he wished to go away first obtained his permission; why, then, did not Jacob, being so upright a man, obtain permission from Laban before leaving him? The truth is, as tradition teaches us, that Jacob feared lest Laban might employ all sorts of devices to make him remain with him longer, as he had done at first. Moses, however, had nothing of the kind to fear from Jethro. Laban was a magician, and in all his dealings with Jacob used magical arts. But Jacob did not wish to remain there any longer, since God had said to him: "Return unto the land of thy fathers, etc." (Gen. XXXI, 3). Jacob thus did not wish to stay and transgress the command of his Master.'

R. Abba further discoursed on the verse: For the Leader; of the sons of Korah, upon Alamoth. A song (Ps. XLVI, 1). 'This verse,' he said, 'if properly considered, will be found to contain a deep mystical allusion. And, indeed, all the songs and hymns sung by the sons of Korah were ancient songs and hymns sung anew; and all the songs and hymns sung by David and his associates contain deep allusions of wisdom. Now God has made the lower world after the pattern of the upper world, and all the arrangements laid down by David and Solomon and by all the true prophets were [159a] after the supernal pattern. Observe that in the same manner as there are watches of the night on earth, so are there in heaven relays of angels who sing praises to their Master and intone hymns continually; they all stand ranged in rows, facing each other, and producing one harmony of song and praise. Thus the companions have interpreted the phrase "upon Alamoth. A song". The term "Alamoth", according to them, has a meaning similar to its homonym in the verse: "There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and maidens ('alamoth) without number" (S. S. VI, 8), whilst the phrase "without number" finds its echo in the passage: "Is there any number in his armies?" (Job XXV, 3). Hence "maidens without number" all standing in rows upon rows, facing each other, to sing hymns and praises to their Master. These are called "the maidens of song" because there are other maidens who do not chant hymns like these. There are three orders (of singers) arrayed on each one of the four sides of the world, and each order again is subdivided into three sub-orders. The first order on the East contains thus three orders each with three sub-orders, amounting altogether to nine, each of which comprises thousands and tens of thousands of angels. All these nine orders are guided by a signal of engraved letters to which they constantly look up. The same procedure is followed by the rest of the orders, all of whom are similarly guided by engraved letters. Furthermore, they are arrayed in a series of ranks one above the other, all of them chanting praises in unison; and when those letters soar high in the air the chief of them gives the command and a melodious chanting is raised. Then one letter flies up from the lower world, rising and descending, until two letters fly down to meet it; they then join together into a group of three, corresponding to the letters YHV ,which are the three letters within the "illuminating mirror". The two supernal letters which rise aloft are intertwined the one within the other, expressing the union of mercy and severity. Hence they are two, and are of the upper world, symbolising the male principle. On the other hand, the one that ascended from below and joined them symbolises the female principle, and thus is embraced by the two, in the same way as the female is embraced by two arms, the right and the left, so that a unity is formed which is both male and female. For when the world was created it was the supernal letters that brought into being all the works of the lower world, literally after their own pattern. Hence, whoever has a knowledge of them and is observant of them is beloved both on high and below.' R. Simeon said: 'All these letters consist of male and female merging together into one union, symbolical of the upper waters and the lower waters, which also form one union. This is the type of perfect unity. Hence, whoever has a knowledge of them and is observant of them, happy is his portion in this world and in the world to come; as therein is contained the root principle of true and perfect unity. Now, the three orders on each side act in perfect unison, being truly symbolical of the supernal order. The second order on the South consists also of three orders each with three sub-orders, forming a total of nine, as said above. As for the letters, they are distributed on all the sides, so as to become united later, inasmuch as there are letters of the female principle and letters of the male principle, the two classes of which come together to form a unity symbolical of the mystery of the complete divine Name. The third order on the North also comprises three orders each with three sub-orders, amounting to nine. The total number of orders on all three sides thus amounts to twenty-seven, [159b] corresponding to the twenty-seven letters, inclusive of the five final letters. These twenty-seven letters distributed over the three sides consist of nine letters of the female principle which join and become united with the other eighteen letters, as has been explained, all being carried out in proper order. Observe that after the pattern of the supernal letters there are other letters here below, the upper letters being large ones and the lower letters small ones, but both of the same pattern. And they both contain the mystery of the male principle and the female principle, which together form a perfect unity.'

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:02 am

Part 3 of 3

AND GOD (Elohim) REMEMBERED RACHEL. The name Elohim is used here because Rachel was still dependent upon a "lucky star", and therefore also the term remembering (zakhar) is used here. Of Sarah, however, it is written that "the Lord visited (paqad) her" (Gen. XXI, 1), because she did not depend on a lucky star, and so in her case all forces were combined. The reason why in her case the term "visiting" (paqad) is used, is that "remembering" had already preceded, and the key to child-birth had already been handed over, as it were, to the lower-world force, God having declared: "But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear unto thee at this time, etc." (Ibid. XVII, 21). Since, then, Isaac had been "remembered" in the higher sphere, he now was noticed within the sphere of the female principle under the process of "visiting", so as to effect a unity of both forces. R. Hiya here discoursed on the verse: And moreover I have heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage,. and I have remembered my covenant (Ex. VI, 5). 'The expression "remembering" is used here', he said, 'because it was a process taking place on high, above the starry course (mazzal), and in virtue of the male principle, coming on top of the process of "visiting", which operates in exile, here below, in virtue of the female principle. In a similar sense it is written: "And God remembered Rachel", which has a meaning similar to that of the passage: "and I remembered my covenant". Now, if we say that the term "visiting" is used only of the female principle (the Shekinah), we are met with a difficulty in the text: "I have surely visited you". For how could the Shekinah speak thus, seeing that she was herself in exile, and, in fact, how could she appear to Moses at all? But in truth there is a deep significance in this passage. For as the sun, although his centre is in heaven, yet spreads his power and might throughout the earth, so that the whole earth is full of his glory, so, as long as the Temple was in existence, the whole earth, to wit, the Holy Land, was full of God's glory; but now that Israel is in exile, the Shekinah is on high, but still her might surrounds Israel so as to shield them, even when they are in a strange land. For the Shekinah is both here below and on high. The Shekinah on high abides in the twelve holy chariots and the twelve supernal Hayyoth; the lower Shekinah is among the twelve holy tribes, and thus the upper Shekinah and the lower Shekinah are intertwined, and both operate together and simultaneously. Now, when Israel is in exile, the upper Shekinah is not complete because the lower Shekinah is not complete, and that is what is meant by the Shekinah being in exile when Israel is in exile. It is like a king who has lost a son, and who as a sign of his mourning turns over his couch and spreads thistles and thorns on its underside and then lays himself down on it. Similarly when Israel went into exile and the Temple was destroyed, God took thorns and thistles and put them underneath Him, as it were, as it is written: "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a thorn-bush" (Ex. III, 2), the reason being that Israel was in exile. It was now "visiting", as the "remembering" had taken place already, as it says: "And I remembered my covenant." First, then, there was a "remembering", which was now followed by a "visiting", [160a) the "visiting" completing the previous "remembering". Similarly with Sarah it says: "And the Lord visited Sarah." But here in the case of Rachel, since she had not yet been "remembered" before, it does not say "visited" but "remembered", a term concerned with luck or fate (mazzal).'

R. Judah and R. Hizkiah were once going from Cappadocia to Lydia, the former riding whilst the latter was on foot. R. Judah dismounted and said: 'From now onward let us occupy ourselves with expositions of the Torah, in harmony with the injunction: "Ascribe ye greatness unto our God" (Deut. XXXII, 3).' Said R. Hizkiah: 'It is a pity we are not three, as then one could have expounded while the other two chimed in.' R. Judah rejoined: 'This only applies to the recital of benedictions, one mentioning the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, and the other two responding, in harmony with the verse: "When I proclaim the name of the Lord, ascribe ye greatness unto our God" (Ibid.); but in regard to the Torah, even two may sit together and praise the Almighty for the great boon of the Torah.' R. Hizkiah then asked: 'Why are three required for the recital of benedictions?' His companion replied: 'I have just explained, but in truth there is a mystic virtue in the number three for pronouncing the praises of the Almighty, as in this way the blessings are established through a supernal symbolism.' Whilst they were proceeding on their way, R. Judah said: 'We have learned that there is a remembering for good and a remembering for evil; a visiting for good and a visiting for evil. Examples of remembering for good are: "But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors" (Lev. XXVI, 45); "And God remembered Noah" (Gen. VIII, 1); "And God remembered his covenant" (Ex. II, 24). An example of remembering for evil is: "So he remembered that they were but flesh" (Ps. LXXVIII, 39). Visiting for good we find in: "1 have surely visited you" (Ex. III, 16); visiting for evil we find in, "Then will 1 visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with strokes" (Ps. LXXXIX, 33). In all these verses there are mystic references. All those remembrances and visitations for good refer to grades of the true object of faith embracing male and female, the one under remembrance, the other under visiting, both being for good. Contrariwise, the remembrance and visitation for evil refer to the other side (sitra ahra), with allusions to strange gods, and similarly embracing male and female in one union: the one (male) under remembrance, the, other (female) under visitation, both unceasingly intent on evil. There are thus two parallel and opposing influences. From the one there flows all the inspiration of true Faith and all supernal sanctifications; from the other flows whatever is evil, all kinds of death and all sorts and conditions of mischief in the world.' R. Hizkiah said: 'Assuredly it is so. Happy is he whose portion is firmly established on the good side, and who does not incline himself to the other side, but is delivered from them.' Said R. Judah: 'Assuredly it is so, and happy is he who is able to escape that side, and happy are those righteous who are able to wage war against that side.' R. Hizkiah asked: 'How?' R. Judah, in reply, began to discourse on the verse: For by wise guidance thou shalt make thy war, etc. (Prov. XXIV, 6). 'This war', he said, 'alludes to the war against the evil side, which man must combat and overcome, so as to be delivered from it. It was in this way that Jacob dealt with Esau, who was on the other side, so as to outwit him by craft, as was necessary in order to keep the upper hand of him from the beginning to the end, as befitted. Moreover, the beginning and the end fitted into one another, the beginning being "my birthright" (bekhorathi), while the end concerned "my blessing" (birkhothi), so that the two victories were embodied in two vocables of similar sound. Happy thus is he who escapes them and obtains mastery over them. Observe, again, that remembrance and visitation for good go together in the true faith, and happy is he who strives after true faith in accordance with that which is written: "They shall walk after the Lord, who shall roar like a lion, etc." (Hos. XI, 10).' Said R. Hizkiah: 'Assuredly it is so. Observe that when a man prays, he should not say: "O remember me and visit me", since remembrance and visitation can be for evil as well as for [160b] good, and the evil forces are ready to take the word out of the mouth of the suppliant, and thus to make remembrance of the sins of that man and bring punishment on him. Unless, indeed, he be a perfectly righteous man, so that when search is made for his sins he will be unaffected. It was so with Nehemiah when he said: "Remember me, O my God, for good" (Nehem. XIII, 25). Again, when a man prays, it is best that he should merge himself in the general mass of the community. We may take example from the Shunammitess and her answer to Elisha. It happened to be the day of the New-Year on which the heavenly Court sits in judgement over the world, and God is called King of Judgement, when Elisha spoke to her, and hence he asked her: "Wouldst thou be spoken for to the King?" (II Kings IV, 13). But she answered: "I dwell among mine own people" (Ibid.), as much as to say: "I have no desire to be marked out on high, but only to be counted among the multitude, and not to stand out apart from them." It is thus requisite for a man to mingle himself among the mass and not to isolate himself, so that no special notice may be taken of his sins, as already explained.'

R. Judah discoursed on the verse: Have the gates of death been revealed to thee? Or hast thou seen the gates of the shadow of death? (Job. XXXVIII, 17), 'God', he said, 'addressed these words to Job when He saw him perplexed by the problem of divine justice. Job had said: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him (lo) (Ibid. XIII, 15). The word lo is written with an aleph, meaning "not", and is read as with a vau, meaning "in Him". God said in reply to him: "Am 1 the one that kills the sons of men? Have the gates of death been revealed to thee? And seest thou the gates of the shadows of death ? There are ever so many gates open on that side, over which death ruleth, hidden away from the sons of men, who know them not." There are here mentioned both "death" and "the shadow of death". These are a pair, the one being the angel of death, the other his rider, [2] who also is his protecting shadow and strength, the two being linked together and forming but one being. All the grades that issue from them and are attached to them form their "gates". Corresponding to the gates on high, of which it is written: "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, etc." (Ps. XXIV, 7), and which are called rivers and brooks flowing through the six directions of the world, there are these gates of death and the shadow of death emanating from the other side, forming certain grades that rule over the world. The "gates of death" and the "gates of the shadow of death" are female and male combined into one. Hence, in answer to Job's complaints: "As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away, so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more" (Job VII, 8), and so forth, God said to him: "Are those gates revealed unto thee as being all in my power, and destined one day to be destroyed from off the world, as it is written: 'He shall swallow up death for ever'? (Is. XXV, 8.)"'

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AND GOD (Elohim) REMEMBERED RACHEL, AND GOD (Elohim) HEARKENED UNTO HER AND OPENED HER WOMB. The name Elohim (God) is mentioned here twice, once to represent the male world and the other the female world, the two having been necessary, since the birth of children depends on fate (mazzal). Now when Rachel was moved to name her son Joseph, saying, " The Lord add to me another son", Jacob knew that it was she that was destined to complete the number of the tribes, whilst she herself would not survive; hence he desired immediately to leave, but he could not carry out his wish. When, however, Benjamin was about to be born, Jacob fled and departed thence, so that the House should not be made complete and the world of holiness become bound up with it in a strange land. So Scripture says: "And the Lord said unto Jacob: Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee" (Gen. XXXI, 3). God, in effect, said to him: "Until now Rachel was with thee, being the basis of the House; henceforward I will be with thee and will carry on the House with thee in its complement of the twelve tribes". The same idea is implied in the verse: "And as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died unto me ('alai, lit. upon me") (Gen. XLVIII, 7). By the word 'alai (on me) Jacob meant to say, "it was on account of me and through me that she was thrust out and another one came and took over the house so as to inhabit it with me".

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AND HE SAID: APPOINT (naqebah) ME THE WAGES, AND I WILL GIVE IT. R. Isaac said: "The term naquebah (appoint, akin to neqebah = female) signifies that the wicked Laban said to himself, "I see that Jacob has an eye only for females, [161a] for the sake of whom he will serve me." He therefore said in effect: "Behold, a female shall be thy wage as before; tell me on what female thou hast cast thine eyes, and I will give her to thee in return for thy service." AND JACOB SAID: THOU SHALT NOT GIVE ME AUGHT. Jacob practically said: "Far be it from me !For in all my acts I am zealous for the glory of the Holy King, and hence thou shalt not give me aught, as my mind is not set on that, but if thou wilt do this thing for me, etc."'

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AND HE REMOVED THAT DAY THE HE-GOATS. R. Eleazar quoted here the verse: Lord, who shall sojourn in thy tabernacle.... He that walketh in perfection, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh truth in his heart (Ps. XV, 1-2). '"He that walketh in perfection",' he said, 'refers to Abraham, who, after he had circumcised himself, was called "perfect"; "and worketh righteousness" refers to Isaac; "and speaketh the truth" refers to Jacob, who indeed attached himself to the truth. If that is so, why then did he act towards Laban in this way? The reason is that Jacob wanted to see if the hour was propitious for him, for it is permissible for a man to test his luck before returning to his land. If he finds fortune favourable, well and good; but if not, let him not stir before his luck is in again. It is written: SO SHALL MY RIGHTEOUSNESS WITNESS AGAINST ME HEREAFTER, ETC., for he did not attempt to obtain from Laban anything for nothing, but he acted throughout honestly and uprightly, and, moreover, he asked Laban for permission to depart. Hence Laban himself said: I HAVE OBSERVED THE SIGNS, AND THE LORD HATH BLESSED ME FOR THY SAKE. For Laban tested Jacob by all manner of divinations, and found that he brought him luck; through Jacob he obtained each month a hundred sheep and a hundred lambs and a hundred he-goats more than his flock was wont to produce.' R. Abba said: 'Jacob brought him in a thousand sheep and a thousand lambs and a thousand he-goats extra every month. This is proved by the verse: FOR IT WAS LITTLE WHICH THOU HADST BEFORE I CAME, AND IT HATH INCREASED ABUNDANTLY: AND THE LORD HATH BLESSED THEE FOR MY SAKE. For a blessing from on high never results in less than a thousand of each kind. So that there was a surplus of a thousand in Laban's ewes, and the same in his lambs, and in his goats, until he acquired great wealth, and all through Jacob. But when Jacob came for his recompense, he only obtained ten of each kind, and even this he considered great riches. What a small part then did he take for himself of all that he contributed for the benefit of Laban, and even that he had to force from him, as it were, by means of the rods which he placed against the flock. Observe how Jacob in his simplicity did everything possible to satisfy Laban, and while bringing him all this wealth, he only asked for the spotted and speckled. But for all that Laban consented to this, he would not in the end let him have them, but he took ten of each kind and sent them to him through his sons, saying: "Take these, and whatever they will bear of the sort you said shall be yours." It is thus written: "And your father hath deceived me" (Gen. XXXI, 7), and also, "and thou hast changed my wages ten times" (Ibid. 41), the term monim (times, akin to minim = kinds) indicating ten of each kind. So whatever agreement Laban made with Jacob, he went back on his word and took from him everything, until God had compassion on him, so that he wrested what was his own from him by force, as it were.' R. Eleazar remarked that all these verses contain deep lessons, based on what we have learned from tradition, to wit, that some blessings from above are obtained by action, some by speech, and others by devotion. So that whoever wishes to draw down to himself blessings must exercise prayer, which consists of speech and devotion; yet there are blessings that cannot be obtained by prayer, but only by action.

Observe that Jacob, the simple man, acted throughout with wisdom. AND HE SET THE RODS -- we read -- WHICH HE HAD PEELED OVER AGAINST THE FLOCKS IN THE GUTTERS IN THE WATERING TROUGHS. This was all done with esoteric wisdom so as to draw benedictions from the chief well-spring that waters all the supernal grades which were his lot and portion. The rods were symbolic of the grades embodying judgement, which he had "peeled", that is, the severity of which he had mollified. "In the gutters" (rehatim) finds its echo in the passage: "The king is bound to the gutters (rehatim)" (S. S. VII, 5), [161b] indicating that the supernal King is tied and bound to those supernal aqueducts whence flow benedictions for all, "Flowing in the watering troughs"; to wit, in the rivers and brooks that flow on until they reach their final reservoir. Again, "where the flocks came to drink" is parallel with the verse: "They give drink to every animal of the field, the wild asses quench their thirst" (Ps. CIV, 11), both alluding to the reservoir, the gathering place of all the waters whereto all resort to drink. "And they were heated" (vayehamnah). When the north wind blows, the waters become frozen, they stop flowing, so that no one comes to drink of them. This is the time when judgement impends over the world, and the cold of the North freezes the waters. But when the south wind arises, the waters become warmer, and, the ice being melted, flow on their way, and all come to drink of them; for the southern warmth having caused the waters to thaw, all come to drink with relish the waters after they have been freed from the icy grip of the North. Thus all that Jacob did contained a deep symbolic purpose. Further it is written:

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AND JACOB TOOK RODS OF FRESH POPLAR, ETC. R. Eleazar discoursed here on the verse: For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself and Israel for his own treasure (Ps. CXXXV, 4). 'From the actual words of the original', he said, 'we could not tell whether it was the Lord who chose Jacob or vice-versa. That the former is meant we know from the parallel verse which says: "For the portion of the Lord is his people, Jacob the lot of his inheritance" (Deut. XXXII, 9). Nevertheless, it is also true that Jacob on his part, too, has chosen his heritage and his portion, and, rising above all intermediate grades, has taken for his lot "rods of fresh poplar" (libneh = white), symbolic of the white grade of the Right side, and "of the almond and of the plane-tree", symbolic of the red grade of the Left side; "and peeled with streaks in them", signifying that he removed severity from the Left, and linked the Left with the Right, while he entered between and laid hold of both of them together, so that there resulted one united blend of two colours, but at the same time "making the white appear", i.e. predominate over the red. Why all this? So as to draw to the grade which was his own portion blessings from the universal well-spring, and to place that grade, which is the third, "in the gutters in the watering-troughs", as has been already explained. Now from these operations of Wisdom blessings flow to the lower world, and all worlds are watered and beatified, as it says: "In the morning he devoureth the prey" (Gen. XLIX, 27), and after that: "and at even he divideth the spoil" (Ibid.), so that the blessings pass [162a] to all the lower worlds. Jacob, too, took his portion of those blessings that rested upon him in this world, inasmuch as he is the portion and lot of the Holy One, blessed be He.'

R. Jesse the Younger was a frequent visitor at the school of R. Simeon. Referring one day to the verse: "Blessings are upon the head of the righteous" (Prov. X, 6), he asked: 'Why does it say "upon the head of the righteous", and not simply "upon the righteous"?' R. Simeon in answer said: 'This is an allusion to the Holy Crown, as has been explained elsewhere. Or again, the "head of the righteous" can be an allusion to Jacob, who received the blessings and transmitted them to the Righteous One, from whom they were diffused to all sides, so that all worlds were blessed. We have, however, affirmed that "Righteous" is the name given to the place of the covenant whence there issue fountains abroad, and just as the aperture of a wine cask through which the wine is drawn is called the top or head of the cask, so is this spot called "the head of righteous", when it wells forth into the female. Furthermore, whoever succeeds in keeping unsullied the sign of the holy covenant, and observes the precepts of the Torah, is called righteous, and is so called from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot; and when blessings flow into the world they rest upon his head, from whence they are diffused throughout the world, through the medium of the holy and worthy sons whom he brings up.' R. Jesse further cited the verse, I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken (Ps. XXXVII, 25). 'These words,' he said, 'according to our teaching, were uttered by the Chieftain of the world, who concentrated in them more wisdom than most people would think.' R. Simeon said to him: 'My son, that is quite true, as it deals with the subject of holy union. It is a laudation of this unity, in which day is never found without night, for night is ever found in day. Now the Righteous One holds fast to the upper world and also to the lower world. As for the words "nor his seed begging bread", the meaning is that when the seed flows forward, he does not court the Female, since she abides with him and never parts from him, and hence is ever in a state of readiness for him. For the seed does not flow save when the Female is present, [162b] and their mutual desires are blended into one indissoluble ecstasy. Hence he has no need to ask for consent.' R. Jesse remarked: 'This surely is not the case during the time of exile.' R. Simeon rejoined: 'As regards the seed it is, since it is written "his seed" but not he himself; that is, the outpouring of the blessings only occurs when there is close union of the female with the male. It may be asked then, does the assertion, "and I have not seen a righteous forsaken" apply to the time of exile ? The truth is that the Righteous One is always closely bound to the upper world and so far is never abandoned. Thus at one time, that is, at the time of exile, the Righteous One is not forsaken from the side of the upper world, to which he holds fast, whilst at another time he is not forsaken from the two sides, holding fast to both, the upper and the lower worlds, so that in fact he is never forsaken.'

This Zaddik is also called "the firmament of the heaven" (Gen. I, 17). For there are two similar firmaments, one at the beginning and one at the end of the series of eight. The top one is the eighth firmament, the one in which there are set all the lesser and the greater stars. It is the undisclosed upper firmament which upholds the totality of things and from which all existence flows. This is the eighth firmament counting from below, and is thus the top one and the starting-point from which all things receive their existence. Correspondingly there is an eighth firmament counting from above, in which also are set all stars and lights and lamps. This firmament supports the whole and forms the end of the whole. Thus the top firmament and the end firmament are of the same pattern, forming together the river that flows on perennially so that the end is already enclosed in the beginning. Hence it says: "And God set them in the firmament of heaven." For what purpose? "To give light upon the earth." There is, however, a difference between the two firmaments, for while the upper one sustains and nourishes the upper world in which it is set and all those upper sides, the lower firmament sustains and nurtures the lower world and all those lower sides. It may be asked, what is meant here by the "upper world", seeing that the upper eighth firmament, which is hidden and undiscoverable, is itself the upper world and is so called? But the truth is that while it itself forms the upper world proper, all those that emanate from it are also designated by that name. It is the same with those that emanate from the lower world, they also being designated by its name. Yet all of them form one unity. Blessed be He for ever and ever! It is written :The trees of the Lord have their fill, the cedars of Lebanon which he hath planted; Wherein the birds make their nests; as for the stork (hasidah), the fir trees are her house (Ps. CIV, 16-17). The allusion of Lebanon has been explained already elsewhere. The birds also are the two referred to in many places [163a] as those from which there emerge hosts of other birds. They themselves, however, are superior, as emanating from Lebanon, which is in the supernal realm. They are hinted at in the words "Laban had two daughters". The "fir-trees" are the six supernal sons, symbolic of the six directions of the world, as already explained elsewhere. In them "the stork has made her house". Why is it called here by the feminine form hasidah (stork, lit. filled with mercy)? The truth is that this upper world is really of the female principle, but we usually give it a masculine name (hesed), inasmuch as in its unfolding it is the source whence all beneficence and all light come forth. And thus, as it is hasidah, there springs from it hesed (mercy), which is the primordial light referred to in the statement: "And God said, Let there be light" (Gen. I, 3). It is thus that region of which it says: "fir-trees are her house", where the word beroshim (fir-trees) may be read berashim (at the heads, or head), signifying that there is another world (Geburah) which has its habitation below and constitutes the Court of Justice of this world. It is to this that we can refer such expressions as: "And it repented the Lord ... and it grieved him at his heart" (Ibid. V, 6), or "the fierce anger of the Lord", for in the realms above there resides only light spreading life all around. Hence the dictum: "there is no grief in the presence of God". Hence, too, it is written: "Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing" (Ps. C, 2), the word "Lord" alluding to the upper world, and the word "presence" to the lower world. Happy are Israel in this world and in the world to come. So Scripture says: "Happy art thou, O Israel, who is like unto thee? A people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and that is the sword of thy excellency! etc." (Deut. XXXIII, 29).

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AND HE SET THE RODS WHICH HE PEELED IN THE GUTTERS, ETC. Said R. Eleazar: 'There are sinners who either neglect altogether the words of the Torah, or if they do cast an eye on them, think them mere foolishness. But in truth the foolishness is in their own minds, since all the words of the Torah are sublime and precious, and of every word it is written: "She is more precious than rubies; and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared with her" (Prov. III, 15). Woe to all these foolish and senseless people, when the Holy One, blessed be He, will demand an account from them for the insult done to the Torah and they will be punished for having rebelled against their Master. So Scripture says: "For it is no empty thing for you" (Deut. XXXII, 47), implying that if it is an empty thing, its emptiness is from you yourselves, seeing that all the things one can desire are not to be compared with her. How can they say that the Torah is an empty thing seeing that Solomon said: "If thou art wise, thou art wise for thyself" (Prov. IX, 12), implying that whoever becomes wise in the Torah benefits himself thereby? Thus the Torah is filled with all riches and no one can add thereto even one letter. "But if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it" (Ibid.), since the worth of the Torah will be in no wise diminished thereby, and the scorning will only recoil on the head of the scorner so as to cause him to perish in this world and in the world to come. Observe now. When the supernal letters are joined together and attach themselves to that grade which is the last of all the supernal holy grades, and it becomes filled from them and enriched with blessings from the upper world, this same grade is in readiness to "water all the flocks" according to their requirements, each one being watered both with judgement and mercy. Now Jacob desired to institute evening prayer and so restore the light of the moon and water her and enrich her with blessings on all sides. Hence it is written, "And he set the rods, etc." These rods signify severity and force, which issue from the supernal Geburah. So Jacob, in his desire to put himself right with that grade, "set the rods", that is, he removed all the influences of severity and force symbolised by the rods, and "placed them in the gutters", to wit, those four gutters [3] that stand underneath "the well, which the princes digged" (Num. XXI, 18), the well which was filled from those supernal rivers and fountains; for when water comes forth out of that sacred well, these four receive the whole of it, they being called gutters (rehatim = swift runners) for that reason, and to that source [163b] they all come to drink, taking of those implements of severity and force what is fitting for each. So it says: "over against the flocks". Further it is written, "and they conceived" (lit. grew hot); that is to say, when they are invested with power to punish, they become heated thereby, and then they set out to roam to and fro in the world and closely inspect the ways of men, whether for good or for evil. Further we read: "And the flocks became heated at the sight of the rods", inasmuch as these rods become hot and take charge of the judgements to be meted out to the world, and the sons of men receive their punishments through them, as we read: "The sentence is by the decree of the angels, and the decision by the word of the holy ones" (Dan. IV, 14).'

R. Hiya discoursed on the verse: My soul cleaveth unto thee; thy right hand holdeth me fast (Ps. LXIII, 9). 'King David', he said, 'could speak thus because his soul ever clave to God, and he had no care for worldly matters, and therefore God supported him and never let him go; and so it is with every man who cleaves to God. Or again, David may have meant these words as a prayer that his grade should be crowned in the supernal realm, for when that grade clings to the supernal grades to ascend after them, then the right hand of God lays hold of it, raises it, and unites it to itself, as we read: "And thy right hand would hold me" (Ps. CXXXIX, 10), also: "And his right hand should embrace me" (S. S. VIII, 3). Hence David's words: "Thy right hand holdeth me fast." Of him who does hold fast to the Holy One, blessed be He, it is written: "His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me" (Ibid.), an expression indicative of perfect attachment and union.'

When the water pours into those gutters, they arc filled on all four sides, so that all the flocks can be watered each from its proper side. Now when Jacob essayed to perfect his grade, he chose for himself the right side which befitted him, and allowed the left side which did not befit him to part from him, as it is written: "and he put his own droves apart, and put them not unto Laban's flocks". "Apart", that is, by himself, so that he should not avail himself of alien idols of the other sides. Happy the portion of Israel of whom it is written: "For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee, etc." (Deut. XIV, 2). Now Jacob was the crown of the patriarchs and their epitome, summing them all up within himself, and he therefore set about to restore the light of the moon, as well as to institute the evening prayer; and all this work was well becoming him, as thereby he perfected all those sides of holiness which belonged to his side, and separated his portion from the portion of the other nations. The former are the supernal sides, sanctified with the supernal sanctities, whilst the latter are utterly defiled and unclean. So that Jacob, as already explained, "put his own droves apart"; that is, he prepared himself for the adoption of a faith which should keep him apart, as it is written: "and the Lord hath chosen thee to be his own treasure out of all peoples" (Deut. XIV, 2); "and put them not unto Laban's flock", that is, he did not place his portion and lot with them. Jacob thus, being the perfection of the patriarchs, established the true faith, and separated his own portion and lot from that of other peoples. To such an action could be applied the words: "But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive everyone of you this day" (Ibid. IV, 4). Said R. Abba: 'Happy is the portion of Israel, who are exalted above the idolatrous nations, in virtue of their grade being above on high, whereas the grade of the idolatrous people is down below. The former are of the side of holiness, the latter of the side of uncleanness; they are on the right, the others on the left. But when the Temple was destroyed, then it could be said, "He hath drawn back his right hand" (Lam. II, 3), wherefore also it is written: "Save me with thy right hand and answer me" (Ps. LX, 7); and the left side has since been gathering force and uncleanness, and will continue to do so until God shall rebuild the Temple and establish the world on its right foundation, and the right order shall be restored, and the side of uncleanness shall pass out of the world, as it says: "and I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land" (Zech. XIII, 2), [164a] also: "He will swallow up death for ever" (Is. XXV, 8). God will then remain alone, as it is written: "And the idols shall utterly pass away" (Ibid. II, 18), also: "and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day" (Ibid. 17). He alone, then, will be left, as it is written: "And there was no strange God with him" (Deut. XXXII, 12), the unclean host being then extirpated from the world, so that both in the upper world and in the lower world there will be no other left save God alone, with Israel, the holy people, worshipping Him. For Israel will then be designated holy, as it is written: "And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written unto life in Jerusalem" (Is. IV, 3). There will thus be one and only one King on high and below, and one and only one people to worship Him, as it is written: "And who is like thy people Israel, a nation one in the earth ... ?" (I Chron. XVII, 21).'

R. Isaac and R. Jesse were once walking together on the road. Said R. Jesse: 'Behold, the Shekinah is near us. Let us therefore engage in an exposition of the Torah, since whoso occupies himself with the Torah draws Her nearer to himself.' R. Isaac then began a discourse on the verse: The Lord liveth, and blessed be my Rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation (Ps. XVIII, 47). 'This verse', he said, 'has a recondite meaning. We know that God is called "the living one". But this verse indicates that the perfectly righteous man also is called "living one", so that there is a righteous living one on high, and correspondingly a righteous living one here on earth. On high it is God who is called "living one", and here below it is the righteous man who is called "living one", as it is written: "And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a living man" [4] (II Sam. XXIII, 20). He was so called because he was a righteous man, and the righteous man is called "living one". The words "blessed by my Rock" have the same reference, since the Living One and the Blessed One are never parted, and when united are called "well of living waters"; the one flows in, and the other is filled therewith. "And exalted be the God of my salvation"; this indicates the supernal world, which is high and exalted over all, inasmuch as from it everything springs, even all the outpourinh by which the well is filled, receiving therefrom blessings to spread light among all the dwellers of the lower world. And when the whole is filled properly, then "exalted will be the Rock of salvation".' R. Jesse then discoursed on the verse: He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous; but with kings upon the throne he setteth them for ever, and they are exalted (Job XXXVI, 7). 'When', he said, 'the domination of the wicked ceases and they perish from the world, then the righteous obtain dominion, as it says: "He preserveth not the life of the wicked, but giveth to the poor their right" (Ibid. 6). The words, "He withdraweth not from the righteous his eye" are parallel to the text, "The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous" (Ps. XXXIV, 16). "'But with kings upon the throne"; these are the kings who are, as it were, united to their thrones, and whom He setteth for ever so that they remain immovably established. "And they are exalted", to wit, to rule over the world so that the throne remains firmly established on its supports. Or, again, it may mean that they raise the throne and set it up on high so that it should become united to its proper place and there should thus be a complete unity.'

Whilst they were proceeding on their way they caught sight of a man coming towards them, with a child riding on his shoulders. Said R. Isaac: 'This man is without doubt a Judean, and he wants to give people a chance to do a good action.' Said R. Jesse: 'Let us be the first to take advantage of the opportunity.' When he came up to them, R. Jesse asked him: 'Whereto is the saffron pot set on the path ?' The man replied: 'So as to afford people an opportunity of doing a pious action; for I have two sons who were taken captive by a brigand who passed through my native town, and now I am on the road in order to afford people the opportunity of doing a good action.' The two thereupon availed themselves of the occasion and gave him food to eat. The Judean then began a discourse on the verse: My food which is presented unto me for an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto me, shall ye observe to offer unto me in due season (Num. XXVIII, 2). 'The offering brought unto the Holy One, blessed be He, every day,' he said, 'was for the purpose of feeding the world and providing sustenance both for the upper world and the lower world, inasmuch as the upper world moves in response to the lower world, with the result that every one is supplied according to his due. The words, "My food which is presented to me as an offering", are paralleled by the verse, "I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk" (S. S. V, 1); and "made by fire" by the words: "Eat, O friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved" (Ibid.). Now, if God assigns food above in order that therefrom food may be dispensed below, with how much more reason must he who offers food for the preservation of a soul be rewarded, in that God will bless him and direct to him sustenance from on high, so that the world will receive blessings for his sake!' R. Isaac remarked: 'Assuredly this is the inner meaning of the verse.' R. Jesse said: 'This incident assuredly bears out the admonition of the Sages that no man should ever treat slightingly another man, for this man has occasioned us a double privilege.'

The stranger then continued his discourse on the above verse, but in the name of [164b] R. Eleazar. 'The accusative particle "eth" here,' he said, 'alludes to the Community of Israel; the "offering" is a connecting link (between high and low); "my food" is an allusion to the food that descends from on high in response to the stirring here below; "as a fire offering" includes all the other hosts which receive their necessary sustenance each one in proper measure; "of a sweet savour unto me" signifies the uniting of the whole in one bond of unity and good will so as to form an emblem of the upper world; "shall ye observe to offer unto me in due season" alludes to the time when Abraham bestirred himself to do the will of God, regarding which it is written: "And Abraham rose early in the morning" (Gen. XXII, 3), and also to the time when Isaac was bound on the altar, which was at eventide.' Said R. Jesse: 'In that case, we should rather have expected the plural "seasons".' The Judean in reply said: 'At the time of the sacrifice, fire and water are intermingled and become one, and hence it says "season" and not "seasons". The expression "ye shall observe to offer unto me" is used in connection with this offering only, the reason being that this offering ascends to the highest grade in an intermingling of the Right and the Left, symbolised by Abraham and Isaac.' Said R. Jesse: 'If only to hear this, it was worth our while coming here. Happy are Israel in this world and in the world to come! In regard to this it is written: "Thy people are all righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever; the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, wherein I glory" (Is. LX, 21).'

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Now LABAN WAS GONE TO SHEAR HIS SHEEP, ETC. R. Jose said: 'The teraphim were idols, so called out of contempt, the name being akin to the word toreph (obscenity). The proof that they were idols is found in Laban's question: "Wherefore hast thou stolen my gods ?" as well as in Jacob's words: "With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, etc." For Laban was a great sorcerer who practised all kinds of magical arts, and it was by such means that he learnt all that he wished to know.' R. Hiya said that the powers of the idol were derived from wizardry; R. Jose, from divination. R. Judah said.: 'They were derived from a close observance of the times and moments for striking and for holding off. At one moment the craftsman would use his hand to beat it into shape, and another he would relax. Hence the term teraphim, akin to hereph (relax) (II Sam. XXIV, 16). For when the craftsman was making it, the man who knew the proper seconds and hours stood over him, saying now "strike", and now "stay". There is no other work which requires to be timed in this way. Now, this magic idol was continually uttering evil counsel, and prompting to mischief. Rachel thus feared lest it should counsel her father to do mischief to Jacob, and by reason of her contempt for the idol she placed it underneath her, so that it was not able to speak; for whenever it was consulted they used to sweep and clean up before it. The teraphim were a male and a female image, and a number of ceremonies had to be .performed before them before they would speak. Hence Laban delayed three days before pursuing, as he was unaware of Jacob's flight, as it says: AND IT WAS TOLD LABAN ON THE THIRD DAY THAT JACOB WAS FLED.' R. Judah further said: 'Laban prepared himself in two ways: he equipped himself with all his magical arts and also with ordinary weapons in order to destroy Jacob, as it is written: "An Aramean was going to destroy my father" (Deut. XXVI, 5). So when God saw that he intended to destroy Jacob, He warned him, saying: TAKE HEED TO THYSELF THAT THOU SPEAK NOT TO JACOB EITHER GOOD OR BAD. This is borne out by Laban's words: IT IS IN THE POWER OF MY HAND TO DO YOU HURT, to wit, through his magical arts. Observe that Laban covered in one day a distance that took Jacob seven days, and all in order to destroy him utterly; first because he had fled, and secondly for the loss of the teraphim. Now, as regards Rachel, although her purpose was to wean her father from idolatry, yet she was punished by not surviving to bring up Benjamin or even to live with him a single hour; and all on account of the pain she caused her father, notwithstanding her good intention.' R. Isaac said: 'All this reproof which Jacob administered to Laban served to make him acknowledge the Holy One, blessed be He, as is proved from Laban's words: SEE, GOD IS WITNESS BETWIXT ME AND THEE. But observe that it is further written: THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF N AHOR ... JUDGE BETWIXT US. This indicates that, sinner' as he was, he reverted to his former idolatrous worship, for after invoking the God of Abraham, he immediately added "the God of Nahor".' [165a] AND JACOB SWORE BY THE FEAR OF HIS FATHER ISAAC. Why by "the fear of Isaac" and not by the God of Abraham? Because he did not wish to trouble, as it were, the right-hand grade for the sake of Laban; furthermore, it is not right for a man to swear, even a true oath, by the most high realm. R. Jose said: 'Truly, Jacob's oath was most appropriate to the occasion. For he said to himself: "Behold, he has invoked the God of Abraham, but left out the name of my father; let me therefore make up the deficiency." Hence he swore by the "fear of his father Isaac". Another explanation is that Jacob desired to bring the grade of severity on to his side to assist him against Laban.'

***

AND JACOB WENT ON HIS WAY, AND THE ANGELS OF GOD MET HIM. R. Abba discoursed on the verse: Male and female created he them, etc. (Gen. V, 2). 'How incumbent it is upon us', he said, 'to study intently the words of the Torah! Woe to those whose heart is obdurate and whose eyes are blinded! Behold, the Torah is calling unto them, saying: "Whoso is thoughtless, let him turn in hither; as for him that lacketh understanding, she saith to him: Come, eat, of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled" (Prov. IX, 4-5). But there is no one to pay attention to her. Observe that this verse contains sublime mysteries, it has an inner and an outer meaning. Thus, one meaning is that the sun and moon are closely united, as is implied in the passage: "The sun and the moon stand still in her habitation" (Hab. III, 11); and another is that Adam and Eve were created as a united pair; and since they were coupled together, God blessed them. For blessing does not reside save in a spot where there are male and female. Observe that when Jacob set out on his journey to Haran he 'was all by himself, not yet having married. What does Scripture say of that occasion? "And he lighted upon (vayifga' = entreated) the place, etc." (Gen. XXVIII, 11), and he was only promised deliverance in a dream. But now that he was married and was coming with all the tribes, heavenly legions entreated and supplicated him, as it were, for we read: "And the angels of God met (vayifge'u = entreated) him." Whereas before it was he who entreated the "place", now it was they who entreated him, for the reason that it was for the sake of Jacob and the tribes that they were watered from the great sea. Moreover, whereas before he saw them only in a dream of the night, now he saw with open eyes and in full daylight, as it is written: AND JACOB SAID WHEN HE SAW THEM: THIS IS GOD'S CAMP, ETC. [16Sb] How, it may be asked, did he recognise them? The answer is that they were the same angels whom he had seen in his dream. Hence he called them Mahanaim (two camps), indicating the camp which had appeared to him on high and the camp which appeared now below. Why did they appear unto him to entreat him? Because the Shekinah accompanied him in order to bear along his household, and she was also awaiting the birth of Benjamin so as to make her home with Jacob as pre-ordained. It is in allusion to this that Scripture says: "And Jacob shall again be quiet and at ease, and none shall make him afraid" (Jer. XXX, 10). Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen and Amen!'

_______________

Notes:

1. The grade Malkuth. or Kingdom.

2. The grade Geburah.

3. i.e. the four Hayyoth, v. Ezek. I, 5.

4. According to the K'tib.
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