The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon

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

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:03 am

Part 1 of 3

VAYISHLAH

Gen. XXXII, 4-XXXVI, 43

AND JACOB SENT MESSENGERS (lit. angels), ETC. R. Judah discoursed on the text: For he will give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways (Ps. XCI, 11). 'According to the companions,' he said, 'the moment a child is born into the world, the evil prompter straightway attaches himself to him, and thenceforth brings accusations against him, as it says, "sin coucheth at the door" (Gen. IV, 7), the term "sin" being a designation of the evil prompter, who was also called sin by King David in the verse: "and my sin is ever before me" (Ps. LI, 5). He is so called because he makes man every day to sin before his Master, never leaving him from the day of his birth till the end of his life. But the good prompter first comes to man only on the day that he begins to purify himself, to wit, when he reaches the age of thirteen years. From that time the youth finds himself attended by two companions, one on his right and the other on his left, the former being the good prompter, the latter the evil prompter. These are two veritable angels appointed to keep man company continually. Now when a man tries to be virtuous, the evil prompter bows to him, the right gains dominion over the left, and the two together join hands to guard the man in all his ways; hence it is written: "For he will give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways."'

R. Eleazar applied this verse to Jacob when God assigned to him companies of angels as an escort because he came with the full number of tribes, forming with them a godly company. Hence it says: "And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him" (Gen. XXXII, 2), as already explained. Here, therefore, when he was delivered from the hands of Laban and dissociated himself from him, the Shekinah joined him, and sacred camps came to encircle him, so that [166a] "Jacob said when he saw them, etc." (Ibid. 3). It was from these angels that he sent a mission to Esau, as it says: "And Jacob sent angels" (mal'akhim).' R. Isaac said: 'Why, in one place in the Psalms does it say "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him and delivereth them" (Ps. XXXIV, 8), in the singular, and in another place, "For he will give his angels charge over thee" (Ibid. XCI, II), in the plural? The reason is that the term "angels" is a reference to angels proper, whereas in the verse: "The angel of the Lord encampeth", the reference is to the Shekinah, as in the verse: "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush" (Ex. III, 2). Thus "the angel of the Lord encampeth round about those who fear him" to deliver them; and when the Shekinah abides within a man. ever so many holy legions rally round him. David uttered this verse when he escaped from Achish the king of Gath, because the Shekinah encompassed him and delivered him from Achish and his people, and all those who assailed him. It is written in the same connection: "And he feigned himself mad (vayitholel) in their hands" (I Sam. XXI. 14). The term vayitholel here, in place of the more usual vayishtagea', contains an allusion to the kindred term used formerly by David when he said: "For I was envious of the madmen (holelim)" (Ps. LXXIII, 3). God thus said in effect to David: "As thou livest, since thou enviest madmen, thou thyself wilt yet be driven to play the madman"; and so it came to pass when he was brought before Achish and his life was in danger; he then "feigned himself mad (vayitholel) in their hand", that is, he behaved like one of those madmen (holelim) whom he had once envied; and only then did the Shekinah come to his rescue. How, it may be asked, could this be, seeing that the Shekinah abides only in her own heritage, the Holy Land? The answer is that from there only she bestows blessings, but for purposes of protection she is to be found elsewhere also. So here, when Jacob departed from Laban, all the holy legions surrounded him, so that he was not left by himself.'

R. Hizkiah asked: 'If that was so, how came Jacob, as stated later, to be "left alone" (Gen. XXXII, 25)?' Said R. Judah in reply: 'Because he exposed himself deliberately to danger, and therefore the angels deserted him. It was to this that he alluded when he said: "I am not worthy of all the mercies and of all the truth which thou hast shown unto thy servant" (Ibid. II).' R. Isaac said that the reason why they departed was to leave him alone with the chieftain of Esau, who came down to him with divine permission; and they meanwhile went off to chant the hymns for which the hour was then due and to sing the praises of the Holy One, blessed be He, and afterwards they returned to Jacob. "Now I am become two camps": to wit, the camp of the Shekinah and his own household, so that he was complete on all sides, having his portion both with the white and with the red. R. Eleazar said: 'The sages have stated that on that night and at that hour the power of Esau was in the ascendant, and therefore Jacob was left alone, or, from another aspect, the sun was left alone, the light of the moon having been obscured. Nevertheless, the guardianship of Providence did not leave him entirely, so that his antagonist prevailed not against him, as it says: "And when he saw that he prevailed not against him ... ". He looked to Jacob's right, and there his gaze met Abraham; he turned to his left, and there he saw Isaac; he looked at Jacob's body, and he saw that it was a fusion of the two sides, and so he touched the hollow of his thigh, which is a pillar adjoining the body but is outside the body. In this way, then, the angel encompassed Jacob on all sides to deliver him; and when the Shekinah came down to abide with him, there joined him multitudinous hosts and legions; and it was of those angels that he sent a party to Esau.'

***

AND JACOB SENT ANGELS. Said R. Abba: 'What induced Jacob to make advances towards Esau? Would he not have done better to leave him alone? The truth is that Jacob said to himself: "I am well aware that Esau has great respect for his father and would never cause him any vexation, and so I know that I have no ground to fear him so long as my father is alive. Let me, therefore, effect a reconciliation with him whilst my father is alive." Straightway, then, Jacob "sent angels before him".' R. Simeon opened a discourse on the verse: Better is he that is lightly esteemed, and hath a servant, than he that playeth the man of rank, and lacketh bread (Prov. XII, 9). 'This verse', he said, 'speaks of the [166b] evil prompter, who lays plots and unceasingly brings up accusations against a man. He puffs up a man's heart, encouraging him to arrogance and conceit, and induces him to twirl his hair and carry his head high, until he obtains an ascendancy over him and drags him down to Gehinnom. Better, therefore, is one who is "lightly esteemed" and who does not follow the evil prompter, but remains humble in heart and spirit and submits himself to the will of the Holy One, blessed be He. The evil prompter is bowed down before such a one, and so far is he from obtaining the mastery over the man that it is the man who obtains the mastery over him, as it says, "but thou mayest rule over him" (Gen. IV, 7). Such a man is better than he who "playeth the man of rank", who has a high opinion of himself, twirls his hair and is full of conceit, as already mentioned above, but "lacketh bread", to wit, the true faith, which is referred to as "the bread of his God" (Lev. XXI, 22) (Ibid. 6). Again, "he who is lightly esteemed" is exemplified in Jacob, who humbled himself before Esau so that the latter should in time become his servant, in fulfilment of the blessing: "Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee, etc." (Gen. XXVII, 29). For Jacob's time had not yet arrived, as he deferred it to the future, and in the immediate present he "esteemed himself lightly". But in the proper time "he that playeth the man of rank" will become the servant to him "that lacketh bread", to the man who was allotted "plenty of com and wine" (Ibid. 28). Jacob knew that it was for the time being necessary for him to humble himself before Esau, and so made himself as one who "esteemed himself lightly". And, moreover, he displayed therein more craft and subtlety than in all his other dealings with Esau; and had Esau realised this, he would rather have taken his own life than come to such a pass. Jacob thus acted throughout with wisdom, and to him can be applied the words of Hannah: "They that strive with the Lord shall be broken in pieces ... and he will give strength unto his king, etc." (I Sam. II, 10).'

***

AND HE COMMANDED THEM, SAYING: THUS SHALL YE SAY UNTO MY LORD ESAU: THUS SAITH THY SERVANT JACOB: I HAVE SOJOURNED WITH LABAN, AND STAYED UNTIL NOW. He began by representing himself as Esau's servant, in order that the latter's thoughts might be diverted from the blessings which he had received from his father, and the enjoyment of which he was postponing for a future time, as already said. R. Judah said: 'What was Jacob's object in saying to Esau, "I have sojourned with Laban"? What had this to do with his message to Esau ? The reason was that Laban the Aramean was famous throughout the world as a master magician and sorcerer whose spell no man could escape. He was, in fact, the father of Beor, who was the father of Balaam, mentioned in Scripture as "Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer" (Josh. XIII, 22). But for all Laban's skill and pre-eminence in sorcery and magic, he could not prevail over Jacob, though he employed all his arts to destroy him, as it says: "An Aramean designed to destroy my father" (Deut. XXVI, 5).' R. Abba said: 'All the world knew that Laban was the greatest of wizards and sorcerers and magicians, and that no one whom he wished to destroy could escape from him, and that it was from him that Balaam learnt all his skill -- Balaam, of whom it is written: "for 1know that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed" (Num. XXII, 6). Thus Laban and his magic were universally feared. Hence Jacob's first intimation to Esau was, "I have sojourned with Laban"; and lest Esau should think that it was merely a month, or, at most, a year, he added: "and I stayed until now" -- a space of twenty years. And lest Esau should think that he had achieved nothing of consequence, he added: "And I have oxen and asses", these being the symbols of two grades of severity that are never combined together save to bring suffering on the world. (This is the underlying reason of the precept: "Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together" (Deut. XXII,10)). Further, "and flocks, and men-servants, and maid-servants", these being symbolic of the lower crowns whom God slew in Egypt, in the form of "the first-born of cattle, the first born of the captive" (Ex. XII, 29), and "the first-born of the maidservant" (Ibid. XI, 5). Straightway Esau was seized with fear and went forth to meet him. Indeed, he was as much afraid of Jacob as Jacob was afraid of him. Jacob was like a traveller who hears that robbers are lying in wait for him on the road. Meeting another man, he asks him to whom he belongs, and he replies: "I am a member of such and such a band of robbers". "Get thee hence," exclaims the wayfarer, "for I have about me a snake who kills anyone that approaches me." The man then returns to the chief of the brigands and warns him, saying: "A man is coming along this way who has about him a snake which bites anyone who approaches him [167a] and kills him." Hearing this, the chief of the brigands says: "I had better go out to meet that man and make peace with him." When the wayfarer sees him coming he exclaims: "Woe is me, he is going to kill me." So he commences to bow and prostrate himself before him, whereupon the brigand regains his self-assurance, thinking: "If he had with him such a dangerous snake as he said, he would not have bowed so much to me. But since he does bow so much before me, I will not kill him." In the same way Jacob sent word to Esau, saying: "I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now", as much as to say: "I have stayed with him twenty years, and I have brought with me a deadly snake who slays people with his bite." Esau, on hearing this said: "Woe is me, who can stand up before him ?" for he was afraid that Jacob would kill him with his mouth. He therefore went forth to meet him and to make peace with him. But Jacob, we read, as soon as he saw him, "was greatly afraid and distressed", and when he approached him he commenced bowing and kneeling before him, as it says: "and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother". Esau then said to himself: "Had he really been so well equipped as he said, he would not have bowed before me", and he again began to carry himself haughtily.

It is written in regard to Balaam: "And God came unto Balaam at night" (Num. XXII, 20). Similarly in regard to Laban it is written: "And God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night, and said unto him: Take heed to thyself that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad" (Gen. XXXI, 24). Instead of the words "that thou speak not", we should have expected here "that thou do no evil to Jacob"· But the truth is that Laban in his pursuit after Jacob did not intend to contend against him with armed force, as he was well aware that Jacob and his sons were more than a match for him, but he designed to kill him with the power of his mouth. Hence: "that thou speak not", and not "that thou do not". It is also written: "It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt" (Gen. XXXI, 29). Laban knew this from the warning given him, as he himself continued: "But the God of your father spoke to me, etc." (Ibid.). And this is the very testimony which God commanded the Israelites to pronounce, as it is written: "And thou shalt testify and say before the Lord thy God: An Aramean intended to destroy my father, etc." (Deut. XXVI, 5). Of Balaam it is further written: "and he went not as at other times, to meet enchantments" (Num. XXIV, I), this being his wont, since he was an adept in divinations. Laban also said: "I have observed the signs" (Gen. XXX, 27), that is to say, he tested Jacob's fortune by means of his divinations, and when he set out to destroy him he also intended to accomplish his end by the same power of magic and sorcery, but God did not permit him. And it was in allusion to this that Balaam his grandson said: "For there is no enchantment with Jacob, neither is there any divination with Israel" (Num. XXIII, 23), as much as to say: "Who can prevail against them, seeing that when my grandfather sought to destroy their ancestor by means of enchantments and sorceries, he did not succeed, as he was not permitted to curse him?" Laban, indeed, employed against Jacob all the ten kinds of magic and divination of the flashing of the underworld crowns, but could do him no hurt, as it is written: "and he changed my wages ten times, but God suffered him not to hurt me" (Gen. XXXI, 7), where the term monim (times) is akin to the term minim, signifying "kinds". These ten kinds of witchcraft are alluded to in the verse saying: "There shall not be found among you ... one that useth divination, a soothsayer, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or one that consulteth a ghost or a familiar spirit, or a necromancer" (Deut. XVIII, 10-11). R. Jose said: 'Divination and enchantment are two different arts of the same potency. Balaam made use of divination against Israel, as it says: "with divinations in their hand" (Num. XXII, 7). Laban, on the other hand, used enchantments against Jacob, but neither of them succeeded. Hence Balaam said: "For there is no enchantment with Jacob, neither is there any divination with Israel" (Ibid. XXIII, 23), the first half of the verse alluding to the days of Laban, the other half to the time of Balaam himself. Balaam said in effect to Balak: "How can anyone prevail against them, seeing that all the divinations and sorceries residing in our crowns derive their potency from the flashing of the supernal sovereignty, which is attached to them, as it is written: 'The Lord his God is with them, and the shouting for the King is among them" (Ibid. 21).' R. Judah said: 'Far be it from us to imagine that Balaam knew aught of the supernal sanctity, [167b] seeing that God did not choose any people or tongue to make use of His glory save His holy children, to whom he said: "sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy" (Lev. XI, 44). Only those who are themselves holy are permitted to make use of holy things; and it is only Israel who are holy, as it is written: "For thou art a holy people" (Deut. XIV, 2), that is, thou alone art holy, but no other people. Contrariwise, those who are impure are brought into contact with impurity and become more impure, and of such it is written: "he is unclean; he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his dwelling be" (Lev. XIII, 46); for impurity calls unto impurity, as it says: "and he shall cry unclean, unclean" (Ibid. 45), where the text admits of the rendering, "and unclean calls to unclean", that is, seeks out its own kind.'

R. Isaac said: 'Was it becoming for a holy man like Jacob to admit that he had contaminated himself with Laban and his enchantments? Was this anything to his credit?' R. Jose said to him: 'Although R. Judah has given an explanation, I agree with you that we should seek another. For we find a somewhat similar difficulty in Jacob's words: "I am Esau thy first-born" (Gen. XXVII, 19), where also we may ask: "Was it becoming for a righteous man like Jacob to assume the name of the impure Esau ?" I will answer both these difficulties. There is a tonal pause after the word "I-am" (anokhi) in this passage, so that what Jacob really said was: "I am (who I am, but) Esau (is) thy first-born", as already explained elsewhere. Similarly here Jacob meant to say: "Do not pay any regard to the blessing which my father gave, nor imagine that it has been fulfilled in me. For he blessed me saying, 'be lord over thy brethren', whereas of a truth 'I am thy servant Jacob, to my lord Esau'. Again, he blessed me with 'plenty of corn and wine', but I have no stock of these, but 'oxen, and asses and flocks', and am only a shepherd in the field. Of the blessing 'of the dew of heaven, and of the fat places of the earth', nothing has been fulfilled in me, seeing that 'I have sojourned with Laban', being merely a sojourner, without so much as a house that I can call my own, let alone the fatness of the earth." The whole of Jacob's message was thus calculated to divert Esau's regard from those blessings, so that he should not quarrel with him over them.' R. Abba said: 'It is written of Jacob that he was "a perfect man, dwelling in tents" (Gen. XXV, 27). The designation "perfect man" was given him because he resided in the two supernal Tabernacles and embodied in himself both this side and that side, and thus was made complete. His language must not be construed into an admission that he had contaminated himself with the enchantments of Laban, and, with all due respect to R. Judah, his heart was pure and full of thankfulness for the kindness and the truth that God had shown him. Thus Jacob's message to Esau amounted to saying: "Everyone knows what kind of a man Laban is, and that no one can escape him. Yet I stayed with him twenty years, and though he contended with me and sought to destroy me, yet God delivered me from his hand." Jacob's purpose in all his words was to prevent Esau from thinking that the blessings had been fulfilled, and so from nursing a grudge against himself. Regarding such conduct Scripture says: "For the ways of the Lord are right, etc." (Hos. XIV, 10), also: "Thou shalt be whole-hearted with the Lord thy God" (Deut. XVIII, 13).'

***

AND THE ANGELS RETURNED TO JACOB, SAYING: WE CAME TO THY BROTHER ESAU, AND MOREOVER HE COMETH TO MEET THEE, AND FOUR HUNDRED MEN WITH HIM. The word "Esau" after "thy brother" seems to be superfluous, since Jacob had no other brothers. It was, however, a hint to Jacob not to think that Esau had retraced his steps and entered on the path of rectitude, but that he was still the same wicked Esau as of old. And moreover "he cometh to meet thee", and that not by himself, but having "four hundred men with him". Why all these details? Because God always delights in the prayer of the righteous, and He crowns Himself, as it were, with their supplications. So we affirm that the angel in charge of the prayers of Israel, Sandalphon by name, takes up all those prayers and weaves out of them a crown for the Living One of the worlds. All the more, then, must we believe that the prayers of the righteous, in which God takes delight, are made into a crown for Him. Seeing that Jacob had with him legions of holy angels, it may be asked why he was afraid. The truth is that the righteous rely not on their merits but on their prayers and supplications to their Master. R. Simeon said: 'The prayer of a congregation ascends to the Almighty, and He is crowned therewith, because it comprises many hues and directions, wherefore it is made into a crown to be placed on the head of the Righteous One, the Living One of the worlds; whereas the prayer of an individual is not many-sided and presents only one hue, and hence is not so complete and acceptable as the prayer of a congregation. Jacob was many-sided, and therefore God craved for his prayer, and hence it is written: "Then Jacob was greatly afraid and was distressed".' R. Judah cited here the verse: "Happy is the man that feareth alway; but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into evil" (Prov. XXVIII, 14). (I68a) 'Happy is the people of Israel', he said, 'in whom the Holy One, blessed be He, finds delight, and to whom He has given the Torah of truth that thereby they may merit life eternal. For whoso labours in the Torah is vouchsafed from heaven the best life, and is taken up into the life of the world to come, as it is written: "for that is thy life, and the length of thy days" (Deut. XXX, 20); also, "and through this thing ye shall prolong your days" (Ibid. XXXII, 47), implying life in this world and in the world to come.' R. Eleazar said: 'Whoever labours in the Torah for its own sake will not die through the agency of the evil prompter (the same being the serpent and the angel of death), inasmuch as he holds fast to the tree of life and relaxeth not. For this reason the bodies of the righteous who have laboured in the Torah remain undefiled after death, since the spirit of defilement does not hover over them. How came it, then, that Jacob, who was the tree of life itself, as it were, was afraid of Esau, who surely could not prevail against him ? Had he not, too, the promise: "And, behold, I am with thee" (Gen. XXVIII, 15)? And had he not further protection in the escort of the host of holy angels, of whom it says, "and the angels of God met him" (Ibid. XXXII, 2)? The reason, however, of his fear was that he did not wish to rely on a miracle, as he did not consider himself deserving that a miracle should be wrought on his behalf. The cause of his self-mistrust was that he had not rendered filial service to his father and mother as he should have done, and that he had not devoted himself to the Torah, and, further, that he had married two sisters. But, in truth, a man should always go in fear and offer up prayer to the Almighty, as it says: "Happy is the man that feareth alway".

'It was the prayers offered up by the patriarchs that sustained the world, and by them are upheld all who dwell therein; and the merits of the patriarchs will never be forgotten, inasmuch as they form the support of the upper and the lower realms; and Jacob's support is firmer than that of all the others. Hence it is that when the children of Jacob are oppressed, God looks at the image of Jacob and is filled with pity for the world. This is hinted in the passage: "Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob" (Lev. XXVI, 42), where the name Jacob is spelt plene, with a vau, which is itself the image of Jacob. To look at Jacob was like looking at the "clear mirror". According to tradition, the beauty of Jacob was equal to that of Adam, the first man.' R. Jose said: 'I have heard it said that he who sees in his dream Jacob robed in his mantle enjoys length of life.' R. Simeon said: 'We have learnt that no life-portion was originally assigned to David, but Adam gave h£m seventy years of his own; and so David lived seventy years, whilst Adam lived a thousand years less seventy; thus the first thousand years included the lives of both Adam the first man and King David. The Scripture', he said, 'alludes to this in the verse, "He asked life of thee, thou gavest it him; even length of days for ever and ever" (Ps. XXI, 5). For when God created the Garden of Eden and placed in it the soul of King David, He saw that it possessed no life-portion of its own, and cast about for a remedy. So when He created Adam the first man, He said, "Here, indeed, is the remedy"; and so it was that from Adam were derived the seventy years that David lived. Further, each of the patriarchs conceded him some years of his own life, that is to say, Abraham and Jacob and Joseph, but not Isaac, because King David belonged to the same side as himself. Abraham allowed him five years of the hundred and eighty years which he was properly entitled to live, so that he lived only a hundred and seventy-five years, five years less than his due. Jacob was also due to live in this world as many years as Abraham, but he lived [168b] only a hundred and forty-seven years. Thus, Abraham and Jacob between them conceded to David thirty-three years. Then Joseph should have lived a hundred and forty-seven years like Jacob, his father, but he fell short of that number by thirty-seven years. These, with the other thirty-three, completed the seventy years allotted to David, which were thus transferred to him out of the lives of the patriarchs. The reason why Isaac did not transfer to him any years like the others was that he was himself wrapt in darkness, and David came from the side of darkness, and he who is in darkness possesses no light whatever, nor any life: it is for that reason that David possessed no life at all of his own. But those others, being possessed of light, could afford light to King David, who was beholden to them for light and for life, since of the dark side he had no life at all. Hence Isaac did not come into the reckoning. Why, it may be asked, was Joseph's contribution greater than those of the other two together? It was because Joseph was reckoned the equivalent of the other two, since he was called "the righteous", and he was better able than the others to illumine the moon, and hence he conceded to King David a greater share of life than all the others.

'To protect himself against Esau, Jacob resorted to prayer and did not rely upon his merit, since he desired to keep this in reserve for the benefit of his descendants in the future, and not to use it up now against Esau. Hence he now offered up his prayer to the Almighty, and did not rely upon his merits, nor ask for deliverance for their sake. Hence we read: AND HE SAID: IF ESAU COME TO THE ONE CAMP, AND SMITE IT, THEN THE CAMP WHICH IS LEFT SHALL ESCAPE. It was for this reason that he "divided the people that was with him ... into two camps". Now the Shekinah never departed from the tent of Leah nor from the tent of Rachel. Jacob knew, therefore, that they were under the protection of the Almighty, and so he put the handmaids and their children foremost, saying to himself: "If Esau slays them, well, he will slay them, but as regards the others I have no fear, since the Shekinah is with them." Hence it says: THEN THE CAMP WHICH IS LEFT SHALL ESCAPE. Having taken this step, he next resorted to prayer, as it is written: And Jacob said, o GOD OF MY FATHER ABRAHAM, AND GOD OF MY FATHER ISAAC, O LORD, WHO SAIDST UNTO ME: RETURN UNTO THY COUNTRY, AND TO THY KINDRED, AND I WILL DO THEE GOOD.' R. Jose discoursed on the verse: A prayer of the poor, when he fainteth (ya'atof) and poureth out his complaint before the Lord (Ps. CII, 1). He said: 'As has been laid down in many places, this psalm was composed by King David when he contemplated the plight of the poor man, and that was when he fled from his father-in-law. It was then that he composed a "prayer of the poor", as much as to say: "Behold, this is the prayer a poor man offers up to the Almighty, and one which should ascend in advance of all other prayers." The phrase, "a prayer of the poor", finds its parallel in the expression: "A prayer of Moses, the man of God" (Ibid. XC, 1), the one alluding to the phylactery of the head, the other to that of the arm, the two being inseparable and of equal importance. The reason why the prayer of the poor is admitted first into the presence of the Almighty is indicated in the verse: "For he hath not despised nor abhorred the lowliness of the poor, etc." (Ibid. XXII,25). According to another exposition, the term "a prayer" is an allusion to Moses; "of the poor" to David; "when he fainteth" (ya' atof = is covered) to the moon when it is hidden and the sun is concealed from it. Observe that the prayer of other people is just a prayer, but the prayer of a poor man breaks through all barriers and storms its way to the presence of the Almighty. So Scripture says: "And it shall come to pass, when he cries unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious" (Ex. XXII, 26); also: "I will surely hear their cry" (Ibid. 22). David continues: "and poureth out his complaint before the Lord", like one who protests against the judgements of the Almighty.'

R. Eleazar said: 'The prayer of the righteous is an object of joy for the Community of Israel, [169a] who weave out of it a crown by which to adorn themselves before the Holy One, blessed be He. Hence God holds it in special affection: He longs, as it were, for the prayer of the righteous, when they are in straits, because they know how to appease their Master.'

Note the words of Jacob's prayer: O GOD OF MY FATHER ABRAHAM, AND GOD OF MY FATHER ISAAC, O LORD, WHO SAIDST UNTO ME: RETURN. Various strands are here fitly interwoven. "O God of my father Abraham" symbolises the Right; "God of my father Isaac" symbolises the Left; while by the words "Who saidst unto me" Jacob interwove himself between the two.

***

I AM NOT WORTHY OF ALL THE MERCIES. The connection of those words with what precedes is as follows. Jacob said in effect: "Thou hast promised me to deal well with me, but I know that all thy promises are conditional. Now, behold, I possess no merits, so that I am not worthy of all the mercies and of all the truth which Thou hast shown unto Thy servant; and all that Thou hast done for me until this day Thou hast done not for sake of my merits but for Thine own sake. For behold, when first I crossed the Jordan, fleeing from Esau, I was all alone, but Thou hast shown unto me mercy and truth, in that I have now crossed with two companies." Up to this point Jacob was reciting the praises of the Almighty; he then proceeded to pray for his requirements. From Jacob all men can take example, when offering prayer, first to recite the praises of their Master, and only then to present their petition. So Jacob, after praising the Lord, continued: "Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and smite me, the mother with the children." Here, too, is a lesson that in praying a man should state in precise terms what he requires. Thus Jacob commenced: "Deliver me, I pray thee," and since it might be said that he had already been delivered from the hand of Laban, he added "from the hand of my brother"; and since, again, the term "brother" covers all relatives, he added "from the hand of Esau"; and yet again, lest it should be urged that he had no need of such a delivery, he continued: "for I fear him, lest he come and smite me, the mother with the children"; all this in order that there should be no possibility of misunderstanding.

***

AND THOU SAIDST: I WILL SURELY DO THEE GOOD, ETC. We find King David closing a prayer with the words: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before thee" (Ps. XIX, 15), the former of these clauses referring to what he had actually said explicitly, and the latter to his inner thoughts which he had only half expressed. This division of prayer into clearly expressed and half-expressed desires corresponds to a distinction in the divine grades, the clearly expressed prayer being addressed to the lower grade, the meditation of the heart to the higher and inner grade. Jacob divided his prayer similarly; first he stated what he desired distinctly, then he left his thought only half expressed, in the words alluding to the promise made to him, "and I will make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude". There was here an underlying thought which was best left unexpressed. This division was necessary, as explained, so as to make the unification complete. Happy are the righteous who know how to express fittingly the praises of their Master, as a preliminary to their prayer. Of them it is written: "And he said unto me: Thou art my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified" (Is. XLIX, 3).

***

AND JACOB WAS LEFT ALONE, ETC. R. Hiya discoursed on the verse: There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy tent. (Ps. XCI, 10). 'When God', he said, 'created the world, He made on each day [169b] the work appropriate for that day. This has already been explained. Now on the fourth day the lights were created; but the moon was created without light, since she diminished herself. This is implied in the phrase "Let there be lights", wherein the term meoroth (lights) is written defectively (less the letter vau), as it were me'eroth (curses); for as a result of the moon's diminution, occasion was granted to all spirits and demons and hurricanes and devils to exercise sway, so that all unclean spirits rise up and traverse the world seeking whom to seduce; they haunt ruined places, thick forests and deserts. These are all from the side of the unclean spirit, which, as has been said, issues from the crooked serpent, who is, indeed, the veritable unclean spirit, and whose mission is to seduce man after him. Hence it is that the evil prompter has sway in the world, following men about and employing all manner of ruses and seductions to turn them aside from the paths of the Holy One, blessed be He. And in the same way as he seduced Adam and thereby brought death into the world, so does he ever seduce men and cause them to defile themselves; and whoever allows himself to be defiled draws upon himself the unclean spirit and clings unto him, and numerous unclean influences are at hand to defile him, so that he remains polluted in this world and in the world to come. Contrariwise, should a man strive to purify himself, the unclean spirit is foiled and can no longer dominate him. Thus it is written: "No evil shall befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy tent".' R. Jose said: ' "Evil" here alludes to Lilith (night-demon), and "the plague" to the other demons, as has been explained elsewhere.' R. Eleazar said: 'It has been taught that a man should not go out alone at night, and especially when the time of the creation of the moon recurs and it is without light. For at that time the unclean spirit, which is the same as the evil spirit, is at large. Now, the term "evil" here is an allusion to the evil serpent, while "the plague" alludes to him who rides on the serpent, so that evil and plague work together. It is true, we have also been taught that the term "plague" signifies "the plagues of the sons of man", which issued from Adam. For during all those years that Adam kept away from his wife, unclean spirits came and conceived from him, and bore offspring, which are called "plagues of the offspring of Adam"; and it has been affirmed that when a man is sleeping and is not in control of himself, he is assailed by an unclean spirit and sometimes by a number of unclean female spirits who draw him unto themselves, conceive from him and give birth to spirits and demons. These sometimes appear in the form of human beings, save that they have no hair on their heads. It is therefore incumbent on a man to be on his guard against them and not to let himself be contaminated by them, but to follow the paths of the Torah. For there is no man falls asleep on his bed in the night-time but he has a foretaste of death, in that his soul (neshamah) departs from him; and since his body is left without the holy soul, an unclean spirit comes and hovers upon it and it becomes defiled. It has already been said elsewhere that a man should not pass his hands over his eyes when he wakes in the morning on account of the unclean spirit hovering over his hands. Now, although Jacob was beloved by the Almighty, yet when he was left alone a strange spirit immediately came and joined battle with him.' R. Simeon said: 'It is written of Balaam, "and he went shefi (to a bare height)" (Num. XXIII, 3). The word shefi signifies "alone", and it is also akin to the term shefifon, in the phrase "shefifon (a horned snake) in the path". So Balaam went alone, like a snake that goes alone and lurks in by-paths and lanes, with the object of attracting to himself the unclean spirit. For he who walks alone at certain periods, and in certain places, even in a town, attracts to himself the unclean spirit. Hence no one should ever go on a lonely road, even in a city, but only where people are about, nor should a man go out in the night-time, when people are no longer about. It is for a similar reason that it is written: "his body shall not remain all night upon the tree" (Deut. XXI, 23), [170a] so as not to leave the dead body, which is alone, without the spirit, above ground in the night. The wicked Balaam, however, for that very reason went alone like the serpent, as already explained.'

***

AND THERE WRESTLED (vaye'oveq) A MAN WITH HIM. R. Joshua the son of Levi said: 'From the word behe'ovqo (in his wrestling) we learn that they raised a dust with their feet which reached the Throne of Glory, as this word finds a parallel in the phrase "the dust ('abaq) of his feet" (Nahum I, 3). The angel here mentioned was Samael, the chieftain of Esau, and it was right that his dust should rise to the Throne of Glory which is the seat of judgement.' R. Simeon said: 'This dust ('abaq) was not ordinary dust, but ashes, the residue of fire. It differs from dust proper in that it is sterile and unproductive, whereas dust ('afar) is that from which all fruit and vegetation spring and is common to the lower and higher existences.' R. Judah remarked: 'If so, how can we explain the passage: "He raiseth up the poor out of the dust" (I Sam. II, 8)?' R. Simeon replied: 'The dust possesses nothing of its own, hence it is from the dust that the poor man has to be raised who possesses nothing of his own either. At the same time the dust is the source of all fruitfulness and of all the produce of the world, and from it have been formed all things in the world, as it is written: "all are of the dust and all return to dust" (Eccl. III, 20), including, according to tradition, even the solar sphere. But the dust called abaq is forever barren, and hence, as the term vaye'obeq ("and he wrestled", or "raised the dust") implies, the man carne up, riding, as it were, upon that dust, in order to contest Jacob's right.'

***

UNTIL THE BREAKING OF THE DAY; this being the moment when his dominion passed away and vanished. The same will happen in the time to come. For the present exile is like the night, and in that night the barren dust rules over Israel, who are prostrate to the dust; and so it will be until the light will appear and the day will break; then Israel will obtain power, and to them will be given the kingdom, as they are the saints of the Most High. So Scripture says: "And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them" (Dan. VII, 27).

***
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 28795
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:03 am

Part 2 of 3

AND HE SAID: LET ME GO, FOR THE DAY BREAKETH. AND HE SAID: I WILL NOT LET THEE GO, EXCEPT THOU BLESS ME. R. Judah discoursed on the verse: Who is she that looketh forth as the dawn, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, terrible as an army with banners? (S. S. VI, 10). 'This verse', he said, 'refers to Israel, at the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, will raise them up and bring them out of captivity. At that time he will first open for them a tiny aperture of light, then another somewhat larger, and so on until He will throw open for them the supernal gates which face on all the four quarters of the world. And, indeed, this process is followed by God in all that He does for Israel and the righteous among them. For we know that when a man has been long shut up in darkness it is necessary, on bringing him into the light, first to make for him an opening as small as the eye of a needle, and then one a little larger, and so on gradually until he can endure the full light. It is the same with Israel, as we read: "By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, etc." (Ex. XXIII, 30). So, too, a sick man who is recovering cannot be given a full diet all at once, but only gradually. But with Esau it was not so. His light came at a bound, but it will gradually be withdrawn from him until Israel will come into their own and destroy him completely from this world and from the world to come. Because he plunged into the light all at once, therefore he will be utterly and completely exterminated. Israel's light, on the other hand, will come little by little, until they will become strong. God will illumine them forever. All then will ask: "Who is she that looketh forth like the dawn", this being a reference to the first tiny streak of the dawn, then "fair as the moon", the light of the moon being stronger than that of the dawn, and then "clear as the sun", that is, a still stronger light, and finally "terrible as an army with banners", expressive of the light in its full strength. For, just as when the dawn emerges from the darkness its light at first is faint, but gradually brightens till full daylight is reached, so when God will bestir Himself to shine upon the Community of Israel, He will first shed on them a streak of light like that of the daybreak which is still black, then increase it to make it "fair as the moon", then "clear as the sun", until it will be "tremendous as an army with banners", as already explained.' [170b]

Now in connection with Jacob it is not written: "for daybreak has come (ba')", but "for daybreak has gone up ('alah)". For at the moment when daybreak arrived, the Chieftain summoned all his strength and struck out at Jacob in order thereby to impart power to Esau; but as soon as the blackness of the dawn passed the light came on and Jacob's power increased; for his time had then arrived to come into the light, as it is written: "And the sun rose upon him as he passed over Peniel." In the next words, AND HE LIMPED UPON HIS THIGH, there is a hint that after Israel in exile have endured many sufferings and pains, when daylight rises upon them and they attain to rest and ease they will in their memory go through again their past sufferings and afflictions and will wonder how they could have endured them. So Jacob, after "the sun had risen upon him", was "limping upon his thigh", vexing himself for what had befallen. But when the blackness of the early dawn passed he made a great effort and grasped his opponent, whose strength at the same time gave out, his dominion being only during the night, whereas Jacob has ascendancy in the daytime. Hence he said: LET ME GO, FOR THE DAY BREAKETH, so that, as he might have added, "I am now in thy power".

R. Hiya said: 'Had Jacob's strength not failed him at that spot (the sinew that shrank) he would have prevailed against the angel so completely that Esau's power would then have been broken both on high and below.' R. Simeon remarked: 'Ezekiel the prophet said: "As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it I fell upon my face, etc." (Ez. I, 28). This verse illustrates the difference between the other prophets and Moses, of whom it is written, "And there hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses" (Deut. XXXIV, 10). For Moses gazed into the clear mirror of prophecy, whereas all the other prophets looked into a hazy mirror. [171a] Moses received the divine message standing and with all his senses unimpaired, and he comprehended it fully, as it is written: "even manifestly, and not in dark speeches" (Num. XII, 8); whereas other prophets fell on their faces in a state of exhaustion and did not obtain a perfectly clear message. All those prophets thus failed to realise fully what God had in store for Esau in the future, with the exception of the prophet Obadiah, who, being himself a proselyte, originating from the side of Esau, was able to receive a full message with regard to Esau. The reason why all the prophets except Moses were thus weak was that "he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh through the sinew of the thigh-vein" -- the sinew that draws to the thigh all its energy; the energy of the thigh was thus broken, and Jacob remained "limping upon his thigh", and hence the rest of the prophets, with the exception of Moses, could not retain their faculties during a vision and grasp it fully. Now just as the prophets were thus weakened, so when scholars are not encouraged and no one gives them pecuniary support the Torah is forgotten from one generation to another and its strength is weakened, those who toil in it having no support, and the sinful kingdom increases in power with each day. Much evil therefore results; since, as the upholders of the Torah become weaker, strength is thereby gained by him who has no legs to stand upon. For when God said to the serpent, "upon thy belly shalt thou go" (Gen. III, 14), the serpent had his supports and legs cut off so that he was left with nothing to stand on. But when Israel neglect to support the Torah, they thereby provide him with supports and legs on which to stand firm and upright.

Many were the stratagems and cunning devices to which the serpent-rider resorted on that night against Jacob. For he well knew that "the voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau" (Gen. XXVII, 22), so that whenever the voice of Jacob is interrupted, the hands of Esau are reinforced. He therefore cast about on all sides for means of interrupting his voice, but he found him strong on all sides, his arms strong on both sides and firmly upheld between them, and the Torah firmly entrenched therein. Seeing, therefore, that he could not prevail against him, he "touched the hollow of his thigh". For he knew that when the supports of the Torah are broken, the Torah itself is shaken; hence he thought that in this way he should reap the benefit of what their father had said, namely: "And it shall come to pass when thou shalt break loose, that thou shalt shake his yoke from thy neck" (Ibid. 40). His whole purpose in contending with Jacob was to break the force of the Torah, and when he saw that he could not strike at the Torah itself, he weakened the power of its upholders; for without upholders of the Torah there will be no "voice of Jacob", and the hands of Esau will operate. Jacob, on seeing this, as soon as day broke, seized hold of him and did not let him go, so that he blessed him and confirmed to him those blessings, and said to him: "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob (Ya'aqob = supplanter), but Israel (Yisrael = princehood and strength), so that no one can prevail against thee." Now, from that serpent issue numerous hosts which disperse themselves on every side to prowl about the world. It is incumbent, therefore, upon us to preserve in a complete state the sinew of the thigh-vein, for although the serpent-rider touched it, it retained its vitality, and we require its strength to establish ourselves in the world and to make good the words: "For thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed." When the adversary sees that that part is not broken or consumed, his own strength and courage is broken [171b] and he can no more do any harm to the sons of Jacob. It is for that reason that we are forbidden to give that part (of an animal) to anyone to eat and may not benefit of it in any way. R. Jesse the elder connected the word "touched" in this clause with the same word in the verse: "He that toucheth the dead, even any man's dead body, etc." (Num. XIX, 11). 'Just as in the latter case', he said, 'there is defilement, so here defilement is implied, that part of the body being an object of defilement, so that we may not put it to any use whatever.' Blessed be the Merciful One who gave the Torah to Israel, whereby to merit this world and the world to come, as it is written: "Length of days is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour" (Prov. III, 16).

***

AND HE HIMSELF PASSED OVER BEFORE THEM, AND BOWED HIMSELF TO THE GROUND SEVEN TIMES, UNTIL HE CAME NEAR TO HIS BROTHER. Said R. Eleazar: 'It is written, "For thou shalt bow down to no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Ex. XXXIV, 14). Now, Jacob was the consummation of the patriarchs, who was selected as the choicest portion of the Almighty, and was brought specially near to Him and was perfected above and below. How came it, then, that such a man should bow down to the wicked Esau, who was of the side of another god, so that bowing down to him was the same as bowing down to another god? The proverb, it is true, says, "When a fox is in honour, bow down to him." This, however, could not apply to Esau, who was like another god, belonging to that side and that portion to whom Jacob would in no way bow down. A similar difficulty arises with the verse: "And thus ye shall say: All hail ! (lehay, lit. to the living one) and peace be both unto thee, and peace be to thy house, and peace be unto all that thou hast" (I Sam. xxv, 6). Now, inasmuch as, according to our teaching, it is forbidden to give the first greeting to a wicked man, how could David have sent such a message to Nabal? There, however, the explanation is that David in reality addressed his words to God, as is implied in the expression lehay (to the Living One), although Nabal misunderstood them as addressed to himself. Similarly, when we read: "And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head" (Gen. XLVII, 31), we are not to suppose that he bowed down in worship to his son, but that his obeisance was directed towards the spot where the Shekinah rested. So in this passage, the words: "and he himself passed over before them" refer to the celestial Shekinah who went before Jacob in order to afford him the promised protection from on high. When Jacob became aware of this he thought it incumbent on him to make obeisance towards the Holy One, blessed be He, who was going, as it were, in front of him, and so "he bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he carne near to his brother". Mark that it is not written, "and he bowed down to Esau", but simply "he bowed down", implying that he did so because he saw the Holy One, blessed be He, going before him, not that he made obeisance by way of worship to anyone else. Everything was thus in order. Happy are the righteous all of whose actions are for the glory of their Master, and with the object that they themselves should turn neither to the right nor to the left.'

***

AND ESAU RAN TO MEET HIM, AND EMBRACED HIM, AND FELL ON HIS NECK AND KISSED HIM; AND THEY WEPT. The word zavaro (his neck) is used here instead of the more usual zavorav; while dots are placed over the letters of the word vayishoqehu (and he kissed him). Said R. Isaac: 'Many are the methods by which the Scripture conveys recondite allusions, yet with a common purpose. It is written: "But the wicked are like the troubled sea; for it cannot rest, and its waters cast up mire and dirt" (Is. LVII, 20). This verse may be applied to Esau, all of whose actions were wicked and sinful. His approaches to Jacob on this occasion were insincere, as is shown by the signs mentioned above. The "neck" here is an allusion to Jerusalem, which is indeed the neck of the universe, and the singular form zavaro is used instead of the regular dual form zavorav as a hint that the seed of Esau would one day fall upon and destroy one of the two Temples. Again, the dots above the word vayishaqehu (and he kissed him) indicate that he kissed him reluctantly. The verse: "but the kisses of an enemy are importunate" (Prov. XXVII, 6) has been applied by our teachers to Balaam, who, although he blessed Israel, did it against his will; but Esau provides another illustration.' R. Jose said: 'It is written: "For thou hast smitten all my enemies upon the cheek, thou hast broken the teeth of the wicked" (Ps. m, 8), and there is a tradition which reads here shirbabtha (thou hast lengthened) instead of shibbartha (thou hast broken), to indicate that Esau's teeth were suddenly lengthened to prevent him from biting.' We read further: AND THEY WEPT; both the one and the other with good cause, [172a] as the companions have expounded. For Esau was so evilly disposed to Jacob that even at that very time he was planning how to afflict him and bring accusations against him in the distant future. Hence they wept: Jacob for fear lest he might not escape from his brother's onslaught, and Esau to think that his father was still alive, so that he was unable to do any harm to Jacob.' R. Abba said: 'Assuredly Esau's wrath was allayed at the moment he beheld Jacob, since his chieftain had confirmed Jacob's claims, and therefore it would have been vain for Esau to vent his wrath. For all the affairs of this world depend on what is done above, and whatever is agreed upon above is accepted below, and no power can be exercised below until power is granted above. Thus one world depends always on the other.'

***

LET MY LORD, I PRAY THEE, PASS OVER BEFORE HIS SERVANT; AND I WILL JOURNEY ON GENTLY, ETC. R. Eleazar said: 'This bears out what we said before, namely, that Jacob did not wish as yet to avail himself of the first blessings that he received from his father, not one of which had so far been fulfilled, since he reserved them for the end of days when his descendants should need them in their struggle against the nations of the world. Hence, when Esau said: "Let us take our journey, and let us go", that is, "let us share together this world and rule it in partnership", Jacob replied: "Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant", as much as to say: "Have thou first thy dominion of this world, and I will journey on gently, and reserve myself for the world to come and for the latter days that flow on gently ... 'until I come unto my lord unto Seir', i.e. I will endure subjection to thee until my time will come to rule over the mount of Esau, as it is written: 'And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the Lord's' " (Oba. I, 21).'

***

AND JACOB JOURNEYED TO SUCCOTH, AND BUILT HIM A HOUSE, AND MADE BOOTHS FOR HIS CATTLE. THEREFORE THE NAME OF THE PLACE IS CALLED SUCCOTH. R. Hiya discoursed on the verse: Except the Lord build the house, etc., except the Lord keep the city, etc. (Ps. CXXVII, 1). He said: 'When God resolved to create the world, He produced out of the primordial lamp of scintillation a nucleus that flashed forth from the midst of darkness and remained on high while the darkness went below. It flashed along through a hundred paths and ways, some narrow and some broad, until the House of the world [1] was made. This House forms the centre of the universe, and it has many doors and vestibules on all its sides, sacred and exalted abodes where the celestial birds build their nests, each according to its kind. From the midst of it rises a large tree, with mighty branches and abundance of fruit providing food for all, which rears itself to the clouds of heaven and is lost to view between three rocks, from which it again emerges, so that it is both above and below them. From this tree the house is watered. In this house are stored many precious and undiscovered treasures. Thus was the house built and completed. That tree is visible in the day-time but is hidden at night, whereas the house becomes manifest in the night and is hidden by day. As soon as darkness sets in and all the doors on all sides are closed, innumerable spirits fly about, desiring to know what is in it. They pass between the birds, bringing their credentials, they flit about and see many things, until the darkness by which the house is enveloped is aroused and sends forth a flame and strikes with mighty hammers, causing the doors to be opened, and splitting the rocks; then the flame goes up and down and strikes the world with blows that resound above and below. Then a [172b] herald ascends, attaches himself to the ether, and makes proclamation. That ether emerges from the pillar of cloud of the inner altar, and spreads itself out into the four quarters of the world. A thousand thousand stand at the left side and a myriad of myriads stand at the right side. And the herald stands in his place and makes loud proclamation. Then innumerable are those who chant hymns and make obeisance; and two doors open, one on the South and one on the North. The house then is lifted up and is fastened between the two sides, whilst hymns are chanted and songs of praise ascend. Then some enter silently whilst the house is lit up on every side with six lights, brilliant and resplendent, and from thence flow out six rivers of balsam from which all the "animals of the field" are watered, as it says: "They give drink to every animal of the field, the wild asses quench their thirst, etc." (Ps. CIV, 11). They thus continue singing praises until daybreak. At daybreak, the stars, the constellations and their hosts all commence to chant songs of praise and hymns, as we read: "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job XXXVIII, 7). Now observe the words: "Except the Lord build the house they labour in vain that build it." This is a reference to the Most High King who constantly builds the house and perfects it, but only when acceptable worship ascends from below in due form. Then again the words "Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain" refer to the time when the darkness of the night sets in and armed companies roam to and fro in the world, and the doors are shut, and the city is guarded on all sides so that the uncircumcised and the unclean may not come near it. So it says: "For henceforth there shall no more come unto thee the uncircumcised and the unclean" (Is. LII, 1), since God will one day remove them from the world. Who, then, is the uncircumcised and who is the unclean? They are both one, the same that seduced Adam and his wife to follow him and so bring death into the world. He, too, will continue to defile this house until such time as the Holy One, blessed be He, will cause him to vanish from the world. Hence: "Except the Lord keep the city, etc."

'Observe that Jacob "journeyed to Succoth", whereas Esau "returned that day on his way unto Seir", each one taking the road toward his own side. Esau betook himself toward the side of Seir, that is, toward the "strange woman", the strange god, which are both designated by the name Seir; whereas Jacob journeyed to Succoth (lit. tabernacles), a name indicative of the true faith. "And built him a house", to wit, the House of Jacob.' Said R. Eleazar: 'Here is an indication that Jacob instituted evening prayer. We read further: "and he made booths (succoth) for his cattle"; these were other tabernacles which he made for guarding them, but the former suceoth were his own portion.'

***

AND JACOB CAME PERFECT (shalem): perfect in every respect; the same allusion is contained in the words: "In Shalem (lit. in perfection) also he set his tabernacle" (Ps. LXXVI, 3). For faith became his constant companion when he attained perfection, when he was crowned in the spot appropriate to him; and then also that Tabernacle was crowned along with him who was the perfection of the patriarchs, being completed by his sons. He was thus perfect on all sides: perfect on high, perfect below, perfect in heaven and perfect on earth. Perfect on high in that he was the consummation of the patriarchs, the glory of Israel; perfect below, through his holy sons; perfect in heaven and perfect on earth, so that "in perfection also he set his tabernacle".

***

AND DINAH THE DAUGHTER OF LEAH WENT OUT. The companions have remarked that there exist a variety of grades and sides on high, each one different from the other, serpents of all sorts, one kind endeavouring to gain dominion over the other and to devour prey, each according to its kind. From the side of the unclean spirit ever so many grades branch out, and all of them lie in wait to bring accusations against each other. Hence it is written: "Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together" (Deut. XXII, 10), inasmuch as when these are joined together they bring accusations against mankind. Observe further that the great desire of the unclean grades is to find matter of charge against the holy sides. Thus, since Jacob was a holy man, they all lay in wait for him and contended with him. First the serpent bit him when he touched the hollow of his thigh, and now the ass bit him. Then it was Jacob himself who opposed the serpent, now it was Simeon and Levi, who belonged to the side [173a] of stern judgement, who stood up against the ass and prevailed over him and completely subdued him, as we read: "And they slew Hamor (lit. ass) and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword." Now Simeon, who was under the zodiacal sign of ox (Taurus), set upon the ass so as to prevent the two from joining, as then the latter would have set upon him. All came to contend with Jacob, who, however, was delivered from them and afterwards obtained dominion over them. Then came the one who is designated ox, and made himself perfect among the asses, that is, among those who were of the side of the ass. For Joseph was designated ox, and of the Egyptian the Scripture says: "whose flesh is as the flesh of asses" (Ez. XXIII, 20). It was for this reason that the sons of Jacob later on fell among those asses, inasmuch as the ox was joined with them; and they bit them to the bone until Levi arose as on the former occasion, and scattered and subdued them, and utterly broke their force. He also removed the ox from them, as it is written: "And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him" (Ex. XIII, 19). Observe that when Simeon assailed the ass (Hamor) on the first occasion he first made them see blood -- the blood of circumcision -- and after that "they slew all the males". God dealt in the same way through the hand of the Levite, Moses, with those other asses, the Egyptians. He first showed them blood and afterwards "the Lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt" (Ibid. XII, 29). In connection with Hamor it is written: "They took their flocks and their herds and their asses, etc."; in connection with those other asses it is written: "jewels of silver and jewels of gold, and raiment" (Ibid. 35), also: "And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks and herds, even very much cattle" (Ibid. 38). In the same way, too, as Simeon withstood this one ass, Levi withstood that company of asses. They all conspired against Jacob the holy man and essayed to bite him, but he together with his sons stood up against them and subdued them. But now that Esau is biting him and his children, who will stand up against him? Jacob and Joseph, one on one side and the other on the other side. 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." (Oba. I, 18).

***

AND THEY JOURNEYED; AND A TERROR OF GOD WAS UPON THE CITIES THAT WERE ROUND ABOUT THEM, AND THEY DID NOT PURSUE AFTER THE SONS OF JACOB. R. Jose said: 'They all came together, but when they commenced to gird on their arms a terror seized them and they left them alone. Hence "they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob".'

***

PUT AWAY THE STRANGE GODS, ETC. These were the silver and gold vessels that they had taken from Shechem, and on which were engraved images of their gods. R. Judah said: 'Their idols themselves were made of silver and gold, and Jacob hid them there in order that his children should not make use of the side of idolatry, as a man is forbidden to have any benefit whatsoever from it.'

As R. Judah and R. Hizkiah were once walking together on the road, the latter said: 'It is written: "And he took the crown of Malcam from off his head; and the weight thereof was a talent of gold, and in it were precious stones; and it was set on David's head" (II Sam. XII, 30). Now, we have been taught that "Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites" (I Kings XI, 5) is the same as Malcam in this verse. How. then, was this crown permitted to be set on David's head? And further, why is it called "abomination", whereas other idols are referred to as "gods of the peoples", "strange gods", and the like?' R. Judah replied: 'Indeed, other idols are also called abominations, as we read: "And ye have seen their abominable things and their idols" (Deut. XXIX, 16). As regards the identification of Malcam with Milcom, this is certainly correct; nevertheless David was able to use the crown of Malcam because Ittai the Gittite, before he became a proselyte, broke it, that is to say, he disfigured the image which was on it, and so made its use permissible, [2] and it was set on David's head. The idol of the Ammonites was a serpent graven deep on that crown, and for that reason it was called abomination.' R. Isaac said that the order "put away the strange gods" referred to the other women who brought with them on their persons all their ornaments. Hence it is written: AND THEY GAVE UNTO JACOB ALL THE FOREIGN GODS, to wit, of those women. AND JACOB HID THEM [173b] so that his people should not derive any benefit whatever from the side of idolatry.

Observe the complete devotion of Jacob to the Almighty, as shown by his words: AND LET US ARISE, AND GO UP TO BETH-EL, AND I WILL MAKE THERE AN ALTAR UNTO GOD, WHO ANSWERED ME IN THE DAY OF MY DISTRESS, AND WAS WITH ME IN THE WAY WHICH I WENT. From these last words we learn that it is incumbent on a man to praise God and to give Him thanks for any miracle or any kindness that He has shown him. Observe that first Jacob said; "let us arise and go up to Beth-El", thus associating his children with him; but then: "and I will make there an altar", and not "we will make". The reason was that this task devolved upon him alone, since it was he who had passed through all those tribulations from the time when he fled from his brother, whereas his sons were not born until after. Hence he did not associate them with him. R. Eleazar said; 'From here we learn that he to whom a miracle is vouchsafed must himself offer thanks; just as he who has eaten a meal should say grace, and not one who has eaten nothing.'

***

AND HE BUILT THERE AN ALTAR, ETC. There is no mention here of libation or offering. The reason is that Jacob's intention was only to complete the grade which required completion, to wit, to join the lower grade, referred to by the word "altar", to the upper, referred to by the word "Lord". Hence he only built an altar and did not offer drink-offerings or burnt-offerings. AND CALLED THE PLACE EL-BETHEL: a name analogous to the Most High Name, inasmuch as when there is a plenitude of light, then "like mother, like daughter", the two becoming one. BECAUSE THERE GOD WAS (lit. were) REVEALED UNTO HIM: the word Elohim (God) here is an allusion to the seventy who are always attendant on the Shekinah, there being seventy thrones round the Shekinah. Hence; "there God was revealed unto him", indicating the same place of which it is written: "And behold, the Lord stood beside him" (Gen. XXVIII, 13).

***

AND GOD WENT UP FROM HIM IN THE PLACE WHERE HE SPOKE WITH HIM. R. Simeon said: 'From here we learn that Jacob formed the Holy Chariot together with the other patriarchs; further, that Jacob constitutes the supernal Holy Chariot which will restore the full light of the moon, and that he forms a Chariot by himself, as implied in the statement: "And God went up from him". It is written: "For what great nation is there, that hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is whensoever we call upon him?" (Deut. IV, 7). How dear', he exclaimed, 'must Israel be to the Almighty, seeing that there is no nation or language among all the idol-worshippers that has a god to hearken unto them, whereas the Holy One, blessed be He, is ready to receive the prayers and supplications of Israel in their hour of need, to hearken to their prayers for the sake of their grade.'

***

AND GOD SAID: THY NAME SHALL BE CALLED NO MORE JACOB, BUT ISRAEL SHALL BE THY NAME; AND (he) CALLED HIS NAME ISRAEL. The subject of "and called" is the Shekinah, as in the expression: "And (he) called unto Moses": whereas the name "God" earlier in the sentence refers to the higher grade. The name Israel was given him in virtue of his having achieved perfection, and so by this name he was raised to a higher grade and was made perfect in that name. As R. Eleazar and R. Jose were once walking on the road, the latter said to R. Eleazar: 'Assuredly it is as you said, that Jacob was the consummation of the patriarchs and that he was attached to all the sides and so his name was called Israel. But how comes it that God afterwards again called him many times by the name of Jacob, and that he is commonly called Jacob just as before?' R. Eleazar replied: 'That is a good question. To find an answer, consider the verse: "The Lord will go forth as a mighty one, he will stir up jealousy like a warrior" (Is. XLII, 12). Why say as a mighty one, seeing that He is a mighty one; and why say like a warrior, seeing that He is a warrior? But the truth is that, as we have learned, the name Jehovah (Lord) is everywhere expressive of the attribute of mercy. Now, assuredly, [174a] God is named Jehovah (Lord), as it is written: "I am the Lord Jehovah" (Ibid. 8). Yet we see that at times His name is called Elohim (God), which is everywhere expressive of judgement. The explanation is that when the righteous are numerous among mankind, He is called by the name of Jehovah (Lord), the name which implies mercy, but when sinners abound, He is called by the name of Elohim (God). Similarly with Jacob. When he is not among enemies, or in a strange land, his name is Israel, but when he is among enemies or in a strange land he is called Jacob.' R. Jose rejoined: 'This does not quite solve the difficulty, seeing that it is written: "thy name shall no more be called Jacob", and yet all the time we do call him Jacob; as for your remark that he is only called Jacob when among enemies or in a strange land, do we not find it written: "And Jacob dwelt in the land of his father's sojournings in the land of Canaan" (Gen. XXXVII, 1), which was not a strange land?' R. Eleazar replied: 'Just as the names "Lord" and "God" indicate different degrees, so the names Jacob and Israel indicate different degrees; and as for the words "thy name shall no more be called Jacob", that signifies merely that Jacob should not be his fixed name.' Said R. Jose: 'If that is so, how is it that the name of Abraham became fixed after God had said: "Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham" (Ibid. XVII, 5).' R. Eleazar replied: 'It is because there it is written: "but thy name shall be (vehayah), that is, always, whereas here it is written: "but Israel shall be (yihyeh) thy name", that is, at least on one occasion, if not oftener. When, however, his posterity were crowned with priests and Levites. and were raised to high degrees, he was invested with the name of Israel in perpetuity.'

Whilst they were walking, R. Jose said to R. Eleazar: 'It has been said that with Rachel's death the house was transferred to Her who required to be adorned with twelve tribes. Nevertheless, why should Rachel have died immediately after the birth of Benjamin?' R. Eleazar in reply said: 'It was in order that the Shekinah should be duly crowned and take her place in the house as "a joyful mother of children". With Benjamin, the Shekinah was equipped with the full twelve tribes, and with him the kingdom of heaven began to be made manifest on earth. Now the beginning of any manifestation is brought about with strain, and involves a doom of death before it can become established. Here, when the Shekinah was about to assume her rightful place and to take over the house, the doom fell upon Rachel. Similarly, when the kingdom was about to be made manifest on earth, it commenced with a judgement, and the kingdom was not established in its place until a doom had fallen upon Saul, in accordance with his deserts; and only then was it established. It is a general rule that beginnings are rough, whereas the subsequent course is smooth. Thus, on New Year's day (Rosh-hashana) the year opens with severity, as the whole world passes under judgement, each individual according to his deeds, but soon after comes relief and forgiveness and atonement. The reason is that the beginning is from the left side, and so it brings harsh judgements, until the right side is aroused and ease follows. In time to come God will first treat the idolatrous nations gently and indulgently, but afterwards with severity and stem judgement. So Scripture says: "The Lord will go forth as a mighty one, he will stir up jealousy as a warrior; he will cry, yea, he will shout aloud, he will prove himself mighty against his enemies" (Is. XLII, 13); which interpreted means that first He will manifest Himself as Jehovah (the Lord), in His attribute of mercy, then as a mighty one, but not in His full might, then as a warrior, but not in His full war panoply, and finally, His whole might will become manifest against them in order to exterminate them, so that "he will cry, yea, he will shout aloud, he will prove himself mighty against his enemies." Again, it is written: "Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fighteth in the day of battle" (Zech. XIV, 3). Also: "Who is this that cometh from Edom with crimson garments from Bozrah? etc." (Is. LXIII, 1).'

***
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 28795
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:03 am

Part 3 of 3

AND IT CAME TO PASS, AS HER SOUL WAS IN DEPARTING- FOR SHE DIED-THAT SHE CALLED HIS NAME BENONI; BUT HIS FATHER CALLED HIM BENJAMIN. R. Judah discoursed on the verse: The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that take refuge in him (Nahum I, 7). 'Happy', he said, 'is the man who finds his strength in the Holy One, blessed be He, since His strength is invincible. The Lord is indeed "good to all" (Ps. CXLV, 9), "a stronghold", wherein is salvation, as we read: "He is a stronghold of [174b] salvation" (Ibid. XXVIII, 8); "in the day of trouble", to wit, in the day of Israel's oppression at the hand of other nations. Now of him who relaxes his hold of the Holy One, blessed be He, it is written: "If thou art faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is straitened" (Prov. XXIV, 10), and the only way of holding firmly to God is to hold firmly to the Torah; for whosoever holds firmly to the Torah holds firmly to the tree of life, and, as it were, adds strength to the community of Israel. But if he relaxes his hold of the Torah, then, as it were, he presses hard the Shekinah, which is the strength of the world. Again, when a man relaxes his hold of the Torah and walks in the wrong path, ever so many enemies are ready at hand to act as his accusers in the day of trouble, nay, even his own soul, which is his power and strength, turns against him, and becomes his enemy, so that it may be said of him "thy strength becomes an enemy" (zar = enemy, or straitened).' Said R. Abba: 'When a man follows the guidance of the Torah and walks in the straight path, many are the advocates that rise up to say a good word for him. Thus we read: "If there be for him an angel, an intercessor, one among a thousand, to vouch for man's uprightness; then he is gracious unto him, and saith: Deliver him from the pit, I have found a ransom" (Job XXXIII, 23, 24). These verses', continued R. Abba, 'present a difficulty. Is not everything revealed before God, that He should require an angel to point out to Him the good or bad that is found in a man, so that only when a man has defenders on his side to recall his merits before Him, and no accusers, then He is gracious unto him, and saith: "Deliver him from going down into the pit, I have found a ransom"? But the language of the text, if properly considered, contains the answer. For it would have sufficed to say: "If there be for him an angel"; who, then, is the "intercessor, one among a thousand"? It is one of the angels appointed to follow man on his left side. There are a thousand such, as it says, "A thousand may fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand" (Ps. XCI, 7). Now "one among a thousand" is a designation of the evil prompter, who is the outstanding figure of the thousand on the left, since he is the one who ascends on high and obtains authorisation. Hence, if a man walks in the way of truth and the evil prompter becomes his servant, according to the words, "Better is he that is lightly esteemed, and hath a servant" (Prov. XII, 9), then he ascends on high and becomes the man's advocate, pleading his merits before God, whereupon God says: "Deliver him from going down into the pit." Nevertheless, the evil prompter does not return empty-handed, since another man is delivered into his power, one whose sins he has already set forth, and this one is a ransom for the other man. This is what is meant by the words: "I (God) have found a compensation" (for thee, the accuser). According to another interpretation, the ransom consists in the merits of the man, through which he is freed from the pit and from death. It is therefore incumbent on a man to walk in the path of truth so that the accuser should be turned into his defender. A similar procedure is employed by Israel on the Day of Atonement, when they tender a he-goat to the evil prompter and so engage his attention until he ascends and gives testimony before the Almighty, in their favour. Thus Solomon says: "If thine adversary be hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink" (Ibid. XXV, 21), referring to the evil prompter. The words: "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble" apply to Jacob when Esau came forward to accuse him, and the words: "and he knoweth them that put their trust in him" were exemplified when the trouble of Dinah befell him. Observe that the accuser attacks a man only in time of danger; and so it was on account of Jacob having delayed to fulfil his vows which he had made to God that the accuser came forward against him, [175a] selecting the moment when Rachel's life was in danger. "Behold," he said, "Jacob has made vows and has not paid them; he has wealth and children and is short of nothing, yet he has not paid his vow that he made before Thee; and Thou hast not punished him." Then straightway "Rachel travailed and she had hard labour", the term "hard" indicating that a severe doom was issued on high at the instigation of the angel of death.'

***

AND RACHEL DIED. We have seen that Jacob, at the time Esau came up to him, put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost. Why did he put Rachel hindermost? Because he feared that the wicked Esau might observe her beauty and assail him on account of her. It is written further: "Then the handmaids came near, they and their children, and they bowed down. And Leah also and her children came near, and bowed down", the females before the males. But in regard to Rachel it is written: "and after came Joseph near and Rachel", that is, Joseph in front of his mother, so as to protect her. And here Rachel was punished at the hand of the evil prompter, who availed himself of the moment of danger and brought accusations against her; and Jacob was punished for not having paid his vow. Jacob felt this blow more acutely than all the other sufferings that befell him. That her death was due to him we learn from his words: "Rachel died upon me" (Gen. XLVIII, 7), or, as we may translate, "on account of me", i.e. through my not having paid my vows. R. Jose said: 'It is written: "the curse that is causeless shall come home" (Prov. XXVI, 2). This signifies that the curse of a righteous man, even if pronounced under a misapprehension, once uttered is caught up by the evil prompter to be used at a moment of danger. Now Jacob said to Laban: "With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, he shall not live" (Gen. XXXI, 32); and although he was unaware that it was Rachel who had stolen them, the Satan (adversary) who perpetually dogs the footsteps of the sons of men, seized on that utterance. Hence we are taught that a man should "never open his mouth for the Satan", inasmuch as the latter is sure to take hold of his utterance and use it to bring accusations on high and below; all the more so if it is the utterance of a righteous man or a sage. These, then, were the true causes of Rachel's death.'

***

AND IT CAME TO PASS, AS HER SOUL DEPARTED -- FOR SHE DIED. R. Abba said: 'What need is there to state that she died, after it says that her soul departed ? The object is to make it clear that her soul did not return again to her body, as sometimes happens with some people. Thus we read: "And his spirit returned unto him"; also: "And their heart departed" (Gen. XLII, 28); or: "My soul departed" (S. S. V, 6); again: "until there was no soul left in him" (I Kings XVII, 17). But when Rachel's soul passed out, it did not return, and so she died.'

***

AND SHE CALLED HIS NAME BEN-ONI (the son of my sorrow), in reference to the doom that was pronounced against her; but Jacob turned him round and attached him to the right (Benyamin = the son of the right hand), as the West (of which Benjamin was symbolic) needed to be bound up with the right. Thus, although he was Ben-oni (the son of sorrow), derived from the side of chastisement, yet was he also Benjamin (the son of the right), as the mother was bound up with the right and was buried by the road, as explained elsewhere. Rachel's death and burial-place are recorded, but neither the death nor the burial-place of Leah is recorded; and this although the matriarchs have a joint symbolism, which has been explained elsewhere.

***

AND JACOB SET UP A PILLAR UPON HER GRAVE. R. Jose said: 'He did this in order that her burial-place should never be forgotten until the day when God shall raise the dead to life. This is borne out by the phrase: "unto this day", which means until that great day.' R. Judah said: 'It means, until the day when the Shekinah will return with the exiles of Israel to that spot, as it is written: "And there is hope for thy future, saith the Lord; and thy children shall return to their own border" (Jer. XXXI, 17). This is the oath which God swore unto her; and Israel are destined, when they return from exile, to stop at Rachel's grave and weep there as she wept over Israel's exile. It is thus written: "They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them" (Ibid. 9); also: "for thy work shall be rewarded" (Ibid. 16). And at that [175b] time Rachel who lies on the way will rejoice with Israel and with the Shekinah. The Companions have thus expounded all this.'

***

AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHILE ISRAEL DWELT IN THAT LAND, THAT REUBEN WENT AND LAY WITH BILHAH HIS FATHER'S CONCUBINE; AND ISRAEL HEARD OF IT. NOW THE SONS OF JACOB WERE TWELVE. R. Eleazar said: 'The term dwelt (sh' kon) indicates that Leah and Rachel had died by that time, and the house had been taken over by the new mistress (the Shekinah). In spite of the words of the text, we are not to suppose that Reuben really lay with Bilhah. The truth is that during the lives of Leah and Rachel the Shekinah hovered over them; and now that they had died the Shekinah never departed from the house, but took up there her abode, namely, in the tent of Bilhah; nor would it have been found there had not Jacob formed a new union of male and female. But Reuben, in his displeasure at seeing Bilhah filling his mother's place, came and disarranged the couch; and because the Shekinah rested on it, it is written, "And he lay with Bilhah".' R. Jesse said that Reuben laid himself down to sleep on that couch, thus showing disrespect to the Shekinah. Hence Reuben was not excluded from the list of the tribes; and so Scripture relates that "the sons of Jacob were twelve", commencing with Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, thus putting him at the head of the tribes.

R. Judah discoursed on the verse: For the ways of the Lord are right, and the just do walk in them,. but transgressors stumble therein (Hos. XIV, 10). 'All the ways of God', he said, 'are right and true, but mankind know not and regard not what it is that keeps them alive. Hence "the just do walk in them", because they know the ways of God, and they devote themselves to the Torah; for whoever devotes himself to the Torah knows those ways and follows them without turning either to the right or the left. "But transgressors do stumble therein", to wit, the sinners, since they labour not in the Torah nor regard the ways of the Almighty, and know not in which way they are walking. And since they are thoughtless and do not study the Torah, they stumble in their ways in this world and in the world to come. Now the soul of one who has laboured in the study of the Torah, when it leaves this world, ascends by the ways and paths of the Torah -- ways and paths familiar to them. They who know the ways and paths of the Torah in this world follow them in the other world when they leave this world. But those who do not study the Torah in this world and know not its ways and paths, when they leave this world know not how to follow those ways and paths, and hence stumble therein. They thus follow other ways which are not the ways of the Torah, and are visited with many chastisements. Of him who devotes himself to the Torah, on the other hand, it is written: "When thou liest down, it shall watch over thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee" (Prov. VI, 22). "When thou liest down", to wit, in the grave, the Torah shall watch over thee against the judgement of the other world; "and when thou awakest", that is, when the Holy One, blessed be He, will awake the spirits and souls so as to bring the dead to life again, it shall talk with thee, the Torah will speak in defence of the body, so that those bodies which laboured to keep the Torah as required will rise up. These it is who will be the first to rise up, and of whom it is written: "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, etc." (Dan. XII, 2), for the reason that they occupied themselves with everlasting life, which is the Torah. Further, all the bodies of those who have devoted themselves to the Torah will be preserved, and the Torah will protect them, inasmuch as at that time the Holy One, blessed be He, will raise up a wind from all four quarters of the world, a wind specially prepared to bring to life all those who have laboured in the Torah so that they should live for ever. It may be asked here, what of the dead who were revived by the prophet's invocation, "Come from the four winds, O breath" (Ez. XXXVII, 9), and who yet did not survive, but died a second time? The answer is that at that time, although the wind was compounded of all four winds, it did not come down to give them permanent life, but only to demonstrate the mode in which God will one day bring the dead to life, namely, by a wind [176a] formed in this fashion. So that although those who were then resurrected turned again into bones, since their resurrection was only meant as a proof to the world that God will one day raise the dead to life, we may still believe that at the proper time the righteous will be resurrected for an everlasting life. For the Torah itself will stand by each one of those who have occupied themselves in the study of the Torah, recounting his merits before the Almighty.' R. Simeon said: 'All the words of the Torah, and all the doctrine of the Torah to which a man devotes his mind in this world, are ever before the Almighty, and at that time the Torah will recount how the man devoted himself to the Torah in this world, and thereat such men will all rise for everlasting life, as we said already.' Thus, "the ways of the Lord are right, and the just do walk in them; but transgressors do stumble therein."

R. Hiya cited in this connection: "Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons did unto all Israel, and how that they lay with the women that did service at the door of the tent of meeting" (I Sam. II, 22). 'Are we to believe', he said, 'that the priests of the Lord actually did such a thing ? And what, in fact, were their sins as recorded by the Scripture? Merely that they "dealt contemptuously with the offering of the Lord" (Ibid. 17), and that "the custom of the priests with the people was that, when any man offered sacrifice .... Yea, before the fat was made to smoke, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed: Give flesh to roast for the priest .... Nay, but thou shalt give it to me now, and if not, I will take it by force" (Ibid. 16). In fact, they only took those portions that belonged to the priests, and it was only because they treated lightly the offerings that they were punished. Yet here Scripture states that "they lay with the women that did service at the door of the tent of meeting". Assuredly they could not have committed so grave a sin, and that in so sacred a place, without the whole of Israel arising and slaying them. The truth is that what they did was to prevent the women from entering and offering their prayers until the other sacrifices had been offered, because their offerings were of a kind in which the priests had no portion. It is this action of preventing them from entering the sanctuary which is described by the words: "they lay with the women, etc." Similarly, in the case of Reuben, we should not dream of taking literally the words "and he lay with Bilhah". What he did was to prevent her from performing her conjugal duty to his father, and this was the object of his disarranging his father's couch; and, moreover, he did it in the presence of the Shekinah; for the Shekinah is always present whenever marital intercourse is performed as a religious duty; and whoever obstructs such a performance causes the Shekinah to depart from the world. So Scripture says: "Because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then profanedst thou that one that went up to my couch" (Gen. XLIX, 4). Hence it is written: "that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father's concubine; and Israel heard of it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve"; that is to say, they were all included in the number, and their merit was in no wise abated.'

R. Eleazar asked: 'Why do we find in this verse first the name Israel and then the name Jacob? The reason may be given as follows. Reuben said to himself: "My father was intended to raise twelve tribes and no more, yet now he is about to beget more children. Does he then wish to disqualify us and replace us with others?" So straightway he disarranged the couch and prevented the intended intercourse, thereby slighting, as it were, the honour of the Shekinah that hovered over that couch. Hence it is written first "and Israel heard", since it was by that name that he was exalted among the twelve hidden ones which are the twelve pure rivers of balsam, and then "and the sons of Jacob were twelve", alluding to the twelve tribes by whom the Shekinah was adorned and whom the Torah again enumerated [176b] as before, implying that they were all of them holy, all of them considered by the Shekinah worthy to behold the sanctity of their Master; for had Reuben really committed the act mentioned, he would not have been included in the number. For all that, he was punished by being deprived of the birthright and by its transference to Joseph, as we read: "And the sons of Reuben, the first-born of Israel-for he was the first-born; but forasmuch as he defiled his father's couch, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph" (I Chron. VI). We see from this how all that God does is planned with profound wisdom, and every act of a man leaves its imprint and is preserved before the Almighty. For on the night when Jacob went in to Leah, all his thoughts were centred upon Rachel, and from that intercourse, and from the first germ, and under that intention Leah conceived; and we have affirmed that had not Jacob been unaware of the deception, Reuben would not have entered into the number. It is for that reason that he did not receive a name of special significance, but was simply called Reuben (reu-ben = behold, a son). But for all that, the intended effect was produced, and the birthright reverted to the eldest son of Rachel, as originally purposed. Thus everything came right in the end, for all the works of the Almighty are based on truth and right.'

R. Hizkiah one day found R. Jose cooking a dish from which grease was dripping on to the fire, sending up a cloud of smoke. He said then to him: 'If the pillars of smoke which used once to ascend from the top of the altar had continued to go up like this smoke, wrath would not have descended on the world and Israel would not have been exiled from their land.' R. Jose then opened a discourse on the verse: Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant (S. S. III, 6). 'When Israel', he said, 'were journeying in the wilderness, the Shekinah went in front of them, as it is written: "And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light" (Ex. XIII, 22). They on their side followed its guidance; wherefore it is written: "Thus saith the Lord: I remember thee the affection of thy youth, the love of thine espousals; how thou wentest after me in the wilderness, etc." (Jer. II, 2). The Shekinah was accompanied by all the clouds of glory, and when it journeyed the Israelites took up their march, as it says: "And whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tent, then after that the children of Israel journeyed, etc." (Num. IX, 17). And when the Shekinah ascended, the cloud also ascended on high, so that all men looked up and asked: "Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke ?" For the cloud of the Shekinah looked like smoke because the fire which Abraham and his son Isaac kindled clung to it and never left it, and by reason of that fire it ascended both as cloud and smoke; but for all that it was "perfumed", or, as we may also translate, "bound up with myrrh and frankincense", that is, with the cloud of Abraham on the right and with the cloud of Isaac on the left. The words "with all powders of the merchant" allude to Jacob, or, according to another explanation, to Joseph, whose bier accompanied the Israelites in the wilderness, and the designation rokhel (merchant or tale-bearer) is given to him because he brought evil reports of his brethren to their father; or, again, because just as the seller of spices keeps his herbs and spices in bundles, so Joseph through one action kept the whole of the Torah, since all the precepts of the Torah are bound up with the preservation of the holy covenant in its integrity. The Shekinah was thus leagued with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob together with Joseph, inasmuch as the two latter are one in essence, each one being the image of the other, as indicated in the words: "These are the offspring of Jacob: Joseph" (Gen. XXXVII, 2). Now, when the Israelites dwelt in their land and brought offerings, they all drew themselves nearer to God in manner due; and when the work of sacrifice was performed and the smoke of the altar ascended in a straight column, they knew that it had kindled [177a] the lamp which they desired to kindle, and so all faces shone and all lamps were lit. But since the destruction of the Temple not a day passes but is visited with wrath and rage, as it says: "and God hath indignation every day" (Ps. VII, 12), and joy has departed from on high and from below, and Israel have gone into exile and are subject to other gods, and the words of Scripture have been fulfilled, saying: "and there thou shalt serve other gods" (Deut. XXVIII, 64). Why all this? "Because thou didst not serve the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things. Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemy, etc., in want of all things" (Ibid. XXVIII, 47-48). And so it will be until God will arise and redeem them from among the nations, as we read: "then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the peoples, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine that are dispersed be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, etc." (Ibid. XXX, 3-4).'

***

NOW THESE ARE THE GENERATIONS OF ESAU -- THE SAME IS EDOM. The Scripture does not enumerate the sons of Esau until after it has recorded the death of Isaac, whereas Jacob's sons were enumerated long before. The reason for the distinction is this. Esau had neither portion nor inheritance nor lot in Isaac, but only Jacob and his sons. Jacob and his sons are therefore the portion of the Holy One, blessed be He, and they enter into the reckoning; but Esau, who was not of the portion of the side of true faith, made up his account, as it were, after the death of Isaac, and his portion parted and took its course to another region. Observe that after Isaac died and Esau retired to his own side, it is written: "And Esau took his wives ... and went into a land away from his brother Jacob", that is, he relinquished to Jacob both the capital and the profit, or, in other words, the bondage of Egypt and the land, and he sold his own portion in the cave of Machpelah, and went away from the land and from the true faith, abandoning all completely. Observe, then, how much Jacob's portion was thus enhanced in every respect, in that Esau did not remain with him, but parted from him and went away to his own portion and lot, so that Jacob was left in possession of the heritage of his father and of his ancestors. Hence: "and he went into a land away from his brother Jacob", the last phrase indicating that he had no desire for Jacob's portion or inheritance or his meed of faith. Happy the portion of Jacob, of whom the Scripture says: "For the portion of the Lord is his people, Jacob the lot of his inheritance" (Ibid. XXXII, 9).

***

AND THESE ARE THE KINGS THAT REIGNED IN THE LAND OF EDOM, BEFORE THERE REIGNED ANY KING OVER THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL. R. Jesse discoursed on the verse: Behold, I make thee small among the nations, thou art greatly despised (Ob. I, 2). 'When God', he said, 'made the world, He divided it into seven regions corresponding to the seventy Chieftains whom He placed in charge over the seventy nations, assigning to each the nation appropriate to him, as we read: "He set the borders of the peoples, according to the number of the children of Israel" (Deut. XXXII, 8); and of all those Chieftains who were given charge over the other nations no one is so much despised before Him as the Chieftain of Esau. The reason of this is that the side of Esau is the side of defilement; and the side of defilement is despicable before the Holy One, blessed be He, as it springs from those base grades that are behind the empty millstones of the red custodians. Hence, God said to it: "Behold, I make thee small among the nations; thou art greatly despised", as it is written: "upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life" (Gen. III, 14), and also: "cursed be thou from among all cattle, and from among all beasts of the field" (Ibid.) Observe that the lower grades form a hierarchy, one above the other, and each different from the other, yet all linked and interlocked with each other. So is kingdom separate from kingdom, yet is each linked to the other. All the grades are held, as it were, by one chain of a certain measurement, which in its turn is divided into three smaller chains which reach down and are tied to the stars and planets, so that each grade is assigned one [177b] star or planet. Those stars in their turn operate under the grades above. Every grade has thus charge of its own proper region, and, when they diverge, a chain is formed by which each grade is bound to its proper side. The sides of the unclean grades, which are on the left side, diverge all of them into numerous ways and paths and distribute their power to thousands and myriads in the lower world; and in reference to this it was said to Edom: "Behold, I make thee small among the nations; thou art greatly despised." Now, in the text, "And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom", the words "in the land" indicate the side of his grade, that is, the grade of Esau, since it is written: "Esau -- the same is Edom." All these things were thus from the side of the unclean spirit; and they were "before there. reigned any king over the children of Israel", inasmuch as they embody the grades that stand first at the lower gates. It was this that Jacob had in mind when he said "Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant" (Gen. XXXIII, 14), since Esau's grades were the first to gain an entrance. They thus reigned before there was any king over Israel, for as yet the time had not arrived for the kingdom of heaven to enter into power and to league itself with the children of Israel. When it did, it began with the least of the tribes, which was Benjamin, as it says: "There is Benjamin, the youngest, ruling them, etc." (Ps. LXVIII, 28), and with him the kingdom began to advance. After that the kingdom came into its own place and was established, never to be removed.'

R. Hiya discoursed on the verses: Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant, and Israel, whom I have chosen; thus saith the Lord that made thee and formed thee from the womb, who will help thee: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, and thou Jeshurun, whom I have chosen (Is. XLIV, 1-2). 'Observe', he said, 'how God has promised Israel in many places to make them worthy of the world to come, as He has not chosen for his portion any other people or language, but only Israel. It was for this purpose that He gave them the Torah of truth, by whose means they may live virtuously and learn the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He, so that they may inherit the Holy Land; for whoever is thought worthy of the Holy Land has a portion in the world to come. So Scripture says: "Thy people also shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever" (Ibid. LX, 21). Now, in the verses above quoted three grades are mentioned: first Jacob, then Israel, and finally Jeshurun. Jacob and Israel have been explained. Jeshurun suggests the word shur (row, side) and indicates that he has his rank on this side and on the other. The three names, though representing different grades, are really the same. Jacob is called "my servant" because sometimes he is like a servant who has orders from his master and is eager to execute his will. We read elsewhere: "the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel" (Ibid. XLIII, 1), and in the above verse we read: "Thus saith the Lord that made thee." We have thus herein the terms "created", "formed", and "made", which represent different grades, one above the other, but which all are essentially one. Happy the portion of Israel in whom the Holy One, blessed be He, finds delight above all the nations who worship idols, of which it is written: "They are vanity, a work of delusion; in the time of their visitation they shall perish" (Jer. X, 15). That will come to pass on the day when God will destroy them from the world, so that He alone will remain, as it says: "And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day" (Is. II, 11).'

R. Judah discoursed on the verse: Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel (Ibid. XLI, 14). 'Observe', he said, 'that all the Gentiles have been placed by the Almighty under the charge of certain tutelary Chieftains, as already stated, and that they all follow their own gods, as it is written: "For all the peoples walk each one in the name of its god" (Micah IV, 5); and they are addicted to bloodshed and warfare, to robbery, violence, and fornication, [178a] and other kinds of wickedness, and use all their power to injure and do harm. Israel, on their part, have no force or power to overcome them save in their mouth, like to the worm which has no strength or power except in its mouth, by which, however, it wears through everything. Hence Israel are called "worm". Or again, as the silkworm, that precious creature which produces from itself a fine thread out of which is woven the costliest kingly raiment, leaves behind before it dies a seed out of which it comes to life as before; so Israel, although they seemingly die, always re-emerge and persist in the world as before. So Scripture says: "Behold, as the clay in the potter's hand, so are ye in my hand, O house of Israel" (Jer. XVIII, 6). The term homer (clay) signifies in reality the material of glass which, when broken, can be refounded and made whole as before. "Fear not ... men of Israel", they being the tree of life, for since the children have engrafted themselves on the tree of life, they will arise from the dust and will be established in the world as one united people to worship the Holy One, blessed be He, in harmony with the words: "That they may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent" (Zeph. III, 9).'

R. Eleazar and R. Isaac were one day travelling on the road together when the time for the reading of the Shema arrived. R. Eleazar paused and recited the Shema and said his prayer. After he had finished, R. Isaac said to him: 'Have we not learnt that before a man starts on a journey he must first ask leave from his Master and offer up his prayer?' R. Eleazar said in reply: 'When I left it was not yet time either for the reading of the Shema or for saying prayers. Now that the sun has risen I have said my prayer. But all the same, before commencing my journey I did offer a prayer to Him and consulted Him, as it were. I, however, did not say this prayer because I have been occupied in studying the Torah since midnight, and from the early dawn up to now it was not yet the time for prayer, for while the morning is still dark the Wife is conversing with her Husband, being about to retire to her tent, where her maidens keep her company. Hence no man should then interrupt them and break in with other words. Now, however, that the sun has risen it is the time for prayer, as it is written: "They shall fear thee with the sunrise" (Ps. LXXII, 5), which indicates the close connection between fear of God, or devotion, and the light of the sun, which makes it incumbent on man not to part them, but to associate them together.' The two then proceeded on their way, until they arrived at a field, where they sat down. Raising their eyes, they saw a mountain, on the top of which they discerned strange creatures moving about. R. Isaac began to tremble. Said R. Eleazar to him: 'Why are you afraid?' He answered: 'Because this mountain looks so formidable and on it are strange creatures, which I fear will attack us.' R. Eleazar then said to him: 'Whoever is afraid of his sins has cause to fear. Those creatures are not of the dangerous kind that haunt the mountains.' He then began to discourse on the verse: AND THESE ARE THE CHILDREN OF ZIBEON: AIAH AND ANAH -- THIS IS ANAH WHO FOUND THE YEMIM IN THE WILDERNESS. 'In regard to this verse: he said, 'it is agreed that these yemim are not the same as the Emim mentioned in the verse: "The Emim dwelt therein aforetime ... but the children of Esau succeeded them" (Deut. II, 10-11). They were an unnatural kind of being which was first created from the side of evil spirits and goblins at the moment when the Sabbath was about to be sanctified, and they remained unsubstantial and bodiless, since neither the sixth day nor the seventh day would own them. [178b] When, however, Cain was driven from the face of the earth and dwelt in the land of Nod, they spread from his side and became corporeal, but not for any length of time. They are therefore called yamim (days), spelt in the same way as yemim here, without a yod, in allusion to the fact that they appear occasionally to men as they haunt the mountains, and for one moment in the day assume bodily shape, but forthwith lose it again. Anah found them and they taught him to bring bastards into the world. For Anah himself was a bastard, the offspring of an incestuous intercourse between Zibeon and his own mother; and this came about through the side of the unclean spirit that attached itself to him. Those and numerous other monstrous beings of many varieties are derived from that side and roam about in the wilderness and can be seen there, as the wilderness is a desolate: place and therefore is a suitable haunt for them. For all that, whoever walks in the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He, and fears Him, has no cause to fear them.' The two then went on and ascended the mountain. Said R. Isaac: 'Are they found in all desert mountains like these?' Said R. Eleazar: 'That is so, but of all those who labour in the Torah it is written: "The Lord shall keep thee from all evil; he shall keep thy soul. The Lord shall guard thy going out and thy coming in, from this time forth and for ever" (Ps. CXXI, 7-8).'

R. Eleazar discoursed on the verse: Hallelujah (praise ye the Lord). I will give thanks unto the Lord with my whole heart, in the council of the upright, and in the congregation. (Ps. CXI, 1). 'King David', he said, 'daily devoted himself to the worship of the Almighty, and he would rise at midnight and sing hymns and songs of praise and thanksgiving, so as to establish his place in the kingdom above. For as soon as the north wind began to blow at midnight he knew that the moment had come when God rose, as it were, to disport Himself with the righteous in the Garden of Eden; so he arose at that moment and busied himself with songs and thanksgivings until the morning. For, as we have affirmed, when the Holy One, blessed be He, appears in the Garden of Eden, He and all the righteous in the Garden of Eden listen to the voice of the suppliant, as we read: "The companions hearken for thy voice, cause me to hear it" (S. S. VIII, 13); and, moreover, a thread of grace is woven round him during the day, as it is written: "By day the Lord will command his lovingkindness, and in the night his song shall be with me" (Ps. XLII, 9). And furthermore, all the words of the Torah which one utters in the night ascend and are woven into a garland before the Almighty. King David therefore devoted himself during the night to the service of his Master. Observe the heading Hallelujah (praise ye the Lord), for we have learned that of all the titles that David affixed to his songs and hymns, the most excellent was Hallelujah, embracing as it does in one single word the name of God and the call to praise, the name being Yah, and the praise coming from the Community of Israel, who continually compose thanksgivings to the Holy One, blessed be He, as we read: "O God, there is no silence for thee; hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God" (Ps. LXXXIII, 2), because the Community of Israel continually arranges and offers up its thanksgivings to Him. Now we read further: "I will give thanks unto the Lord with my whole heart (lebab)", that is, as already explained, with the good and the evil prompter, who are always with a man: "in the council of the upright, and in the congregation" is an allusion to Israel, who are adorned with all grades -- priests and Levites, the just and the pious. It is the same congregation of which we read: "God standeth in the congregation of God" (Ps. LXXXII, 1). Hence a man should continually offer praise to God, since He takes delight in songs and hymns, and when a man knows how to offer praise to God in the proper manner, He accepts his prayer and delivers him, as we read: "I will set him on high, because he hath known my name ... With long life will I satisfy him, etc." (Ibid. XCI, 14-16).'

R. Jose discoursed on the verse: Thou art my hiding-place; thou wilt preserve me from the adversary; with songs of deliverance thou wilt compass me about. Selah (Ibid. XXXII, 7). 'It is God', he said, 'who is a hiding-place and a shield to the man that walks in the ways of the Torah; such a man is covered by the shadow of His wings so that no one can do him mischief. "Thou wilt preserve me from the adversary"; that is, from the adversary on high and from the adversary here below, both of whom are one and the same evil prompter, [179a] who is the opponent above and the opponent below; and if not for the evil prompter, man would have no adversary in the world. "With songs of deliverance thou wilt compass me about" is an allusion to those songs that possess grades of potency to save; with which, therefore, "Thou wilt compass me about" to afford me deliverance when on a journey. (This verse is efficacious whether read forwards or backwards.) Observe that all the songs and hymns that David sang contain deep allusions of wisdom, because he composed them under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which alone it was that prompted him:

R. Eleazar discoursed on the verse: Thou didst thrust sore at me that I might fall; but the Lord helped me (Ibid. CXVIII, 13). 'We should have expected', he said, ' "they did thrust sore at me" instead of "thou didst, etc:' But, in truth, this alludes to the "other side" that continually thrusts at a man, and tries to seduce him and lead him astray from God; the same is, indeed, the evil prompter who follows man about. It is to him that David addressed the words, "thou didst thrust sore at me", seeing that he endeavoured by means of all sorts of afflictions to turn him aside from God. David thus said: "Thou didst thrust sore at me -- to cause me to fall into Gehinnom -- but the Lord helped me -- so that I was not delivered into thy hand." It is, hence, incumbent on a man to be on his guard against the evil prompter, so that he shall not obtain the mastery over him; such a man God guards in all his ways, as it is written: "Then shalt thou walk in thy way securely, and thou shalt not dash thy foot" (Prov. III, 23), also: "When thou goest thy step shall not be straitened; and if thou runnest thou shalt not stumble" (Ibid. IV, 12); and also: "But the path of the righteous is as the light of dawn, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Ibid. IV, 18).'

Said R. Judah: 'Happy are Israel whom the Holy One, blessed be He, preserves in this world and in the world to come, as it is written: "Thy people also shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever" (Is. LX, 21). Blessed be the Lord, for evermore. Amen and Amen!"

_______________

Notes:

1. By 'house of the world' here seems to be meant the 'world of emanation'. which is 'central', as being least penetrable to the intelligence.

2. According to the Rabbinical rule: "An idolater can render his idol null and void."
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 28795
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:04 am

Part 1 of 3

VAYESHEB

Gen. XXXVII, 1-XL, 23

AND JACOB DWELT IN THE LAND OF HIS FATHER'S SOJOURNINGS, IN THE LAND OF CANAAN. R. Hiya discoursed on the verse: Many are the ills of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all (Ps. XXXIV, 20). 'Many, indeed', he said, 'are the adversaries with whom a human being has to contend from the day that God breathes into him a soul in this world. For as soon as he emerges into the light of day, the evil prompter is at hand in readiness to join him, according to our interpretation of the verse: "Sin coucheth at the door" (Gen. IV, 7). In proof whereof note that the beasts from the day they are born are able to take care of themselves, and avoid fire and similar dangers, whereas man, on the other hand, seems to feel at first a natural propensity to throw himself into the fire, the reason being that the evil prompter dwells within him and from the beginning lures him into evil ways. So Scripture says: "Better is a poor and wise child than an old and foolish king, who knoweth not how to receive admonition any more" (Eccl. IV, 13). The "child" here signifies the good prompter, who is so called because he is, as it were, a youngster by the side of man, whom he does not join till he is at the age of thirteen years, as elsewhere affirmed. He is better, then, than "an old and foolish king", to wit, the evil prompter, who is called king and ruler over the sons of men, and who is assuredly old, since, as already said, so soon as a man is born and sees the light of day he [179b] attaches himself to him; and he is foolish, not knowing how to receive admonition, since, as Solomon says of him also, "the fool walketh in darkness" (Ibid. II, 14). Indeed, he comes from the very quarry of darkness, and light is for ever a stranger to him.' R. Simeon said; 'It has been laid down that the "poor child" here is the good prompter, the same as he who said of himself: "I have been young, and now am old" (Ps. XXXVII, 25). He is called "poor child", as he has no possession whatever of his own, and is called "youth" for the reason that he is constantly renewed in the same way as the moon; also he is wise, since wisdom dwells within him. He is better than the "old king", who is the evil prompter, as already said, since from his first emergence he has never rid himself of his impurity, and he is foolish in that all his steps are toward the evil ways, and he turns the sons of men from the right path, employing all kinds of pretexts to divert them from the good way to the evil. And he hastens to join man on the very day he is born, in order that man may come to believe in him, and that when the good prompter arrives later he may be loth to believe him and think him a burden. Similarly our teachers have defined a "cunning wicked man" to be one who comes first to the judge and pleads his cause before his opponent arrives; as Scripture says: "He that pleadeth his cause first seemeth just, etc." (Prov. XVIII, 17). In the same way the evil prompter is cunningly wicked, as we read: "And the serpent was more cunning, etc." (Gen. III, 1), and so he arrives first to take up his abode with man, and make his case plausible to him, so that when his fellow, that is, the good prompter, arrives, he finds himself obnoxious to man, and is not able to raise his head, as though he were bowed down with a heavy burden, because of that cunningly wicked one who has got the start of him. Hence the words of Solomon: "the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard" (Eccl. IX, 16), because the other has anticipated him. Hence for a judge to receive the pleadings of one litigant in the absence of the other is like acknowledging strange gods. But the way of the righteous judge is to wait till "his neighbour cometh and searcheth him out" (Prov. XVIII, 17). Similarly the righteous man is he who does not put credence in the evil prompter, but first waits for the arrival of the good prompter. For neglecting to do this the sons of man will stumble in the world to come. The righteous man, on the other hand, endures in this world many trials for not believing in and not associating himself with the evil prompter, but the Holy One, blessed be He, delivers him from all ills, as it says: "Many are the ills of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all" (Ps. XXXIV, 20). For God finds delight in such a man and delivers him from all ills in this world and in the world to come. Happy is his portion! See how many ills befell Jacob in his effort not to be drawn to the evil prompter, and to keep himself far from his portion; and for this he endured many afflictions and ills without respite.' R. Hiya applied to Jacob the verse: I was not at ease, neither was I quiet, neither had I rest; but trouble came (Job. III, 26). 'How many ills and sufferings,' he said, 'one after another come upon the righteous in this world that they may merit the world to come. Jacob was one of them, and could say of himself, "I was not at ease" in the house of Laban, from whom I could not escape; "neither was I quiet" on account of Esau, through the pain inflicted on me by his Chieftain, and later on through fear of himself; "neither had I rest" in the affair of Dinah and Shechem; "but trouble came", to wit, the trouble and confusion of the loss of Joseph, which was the worst of all, on account of his love for Joseph.'

***

AND JACOB DWELT IN THE LAND OF HIS FATHER'S SOJOURNINGS, IN THE LAND OF CANAAN. [180a] R. Jose discoursed here on the verse: The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart, and godly men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come (Is. LVII, 1). 'When God', he said, 'surveys the world and finds it misbehaving and meet for chastisement, He first removes from it any righteous man that is present in it, so that chastisement should be visited on all the others and there should be none to shield them. For as long as there is a righteous man in the world chastisement cannot befall it, as we learn from Moses, of whom it is written: "Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, etc." (Ps. CVI, 23). God thus first removes the righteous from the world, and only then collects His account, as it were. We thus translate the conclusion of the verse: "the righteous is taken away before (mipne) the evil to come", that is, before the evil is due to befall. (According to another interpretation, "from the evil to come" is an allusion to the evil prompter.) Observe now that although the galuth was already due in the life-time of Jacob, yet because he was a righteous man -- the perfection of the patriarchs -- the sentence was postponed; for whilst he was alive punishment could not befall the world, and even the famine of Egypt ceased on his arrival. Neither did the exile really commence during the life-time of Joseph, since he was the image of his father, but as soon as he died the captivity began in earnest, as it says: "And Joseph died ... come, let us deal wisely with them ... and they made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and in brick, etc." (Ex. I, 6-14). Similarly, wherever a righteous man exists, God for his sake shields the world, and during his life-time no chastisement falls on the world; and so we affirm.'

***

AND JACOB DWELT IN THE LAND OF HIS FATHER'S SOJOURNINGS. The term m'gure (sojournings) can be rendered "apprehensions", being akin to the term magor in the phrase magor misabib, "a terror on every side" (Jer. VI, 25), and so indicates that Jacob passed all his life in fear and anxiety.

***

THESE ARE THE GENERATIONS OF JACOB: JOSEPH, ETC. When Jacob was brought to rest in Joseph, and so the sun was united with the moon, then there commenced a production of offspring, the progenitor being Joseph. For it is that perennially flowing stream which fructifies the earth and from which generations are propagated in the world. For the sun, even when he approaches the moon, cannot cause vegetation without the help of that grade which goes under the name of Righteous (Zaddik). It was, then, Joseph who was the grade of Jacob to bear fruit and bring forth offspring in the world. Hence: "These are the generations (tol' doth, lit. offspring) of Jacob: Joseph." Or, again, we may take the words to signify that whoever looked at Joseph thought he was looking at Jacob. Hence this form of expression is used only in connection with Joseph and not with any other of Jacob's sons-it is not written, for instance, "These are the offspring of Jacob: Reuben", the reason being that Joseph was the exact image of his father.

***

BEING SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD. R. Abba said: 'This number of seventeen is significant, corresponding as it does to the seventeen years of joy and honour which Jacob lived in Egypt, with all his sons round him and Joseph as king, and which God vouchsafed him in return for the years during which he mourned for Joseph, and did not see him.'

R. Hiya discoursed on the text: Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding : Far be it from God that he should do wickedness,. and from the Almighty that he should commit iniquity. For the work [I8ob] of man will he requite unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways (Job XXXIV, 10-11). 'God,' he said, 'in creating the world, meant it to be based on justice, and all that is done in the world would be weighed in the scales of justice, were it not that, to save the world from perishing, God screened it with mercy, which tempers pure justice and prevents it from destroying the world. The world is thus governed in mercy and thereby is able to endure. But, you may ask, is not a man often punished by God undeservedly? The answer is, as has been affirmed, that when suffering befalls a righteous man, it is on account of the love which God bears to him. He crushes his body in order to give more power to his soul, so that He may draw him nearer in love. For it is needful that the body should be weak and the soul strong, that so a man may be beloved of God, as the Companions have affirmed, that the Holy One inflicts suffering on the righteous in this world in order that they may merit the world to come. But he who is weak of soul and strong of body is hated of God. It is because God has no pleasure in him that He inflicts no pain upon him in this world, but permits his life to flow smoothly along with ease and comfort, in that for any virtuous act he may perform he receives his reward in this world, so that no portion should be left him in the next world. This is in accordance with Onkelos's paraphrase of the text: "And he repayeth them that hate him to their face" (Deut. VII, 10), which reads: "And he repayeth them that hate him in this world." The righteous man, then, who is continually broken in body is the beloved of the Holy One, blessed be He.

Now various difficulties are raised by this statement. In the first place we know that the Shekinah does not dwell amid sad surroundings, but only where there is cheerfulness. For this reason Elisha said: "But now bring me a minstrel, and so it came to pass that when the minstrel played, the hand of the Lord came upon him" (II Kings III, 15), and we learn the same lesson from Jacob, from whom the Shekinah departed during the years that he was grieving for Joseph, but to whom it returned as soon as the glad tidings about Joseph reached him, when, as it says, "the spirit of Jacob their father revived" (Gen. XLV, 27). That being so, where, we may ask, is the cheerful spirit in the righteous man who is broken in body, seeing that he is tormented by his sufferings? And further, do we not know of many righteous men, beloved by the Almighty, who were never a prey to acute suffering or physical weakness? Why this discrimination? Why should these be physical wrecks and the others hale and hearty ?One explanation given is that the latter were born of righteous parents, whereas the former, although themselves righteous, were not children of righteous parents. But the facts are against this, since we see many righteous men who are the 80ns of righteous parents, and who nevertheless are afflicted with bodily ills and are lifelong sufferers. But there is a deep mystery involved here, inasmuch as all the ways of God are based on truth and righteousness. In connection with this verse I have found in the books of the ancients a mystical doctrine, and next to it another mystical doctrine, both being in essence one and the same. It amounts to the following. There is a period when the moon is defective, judgement being visited upon her, and the sun being concealed from her. Now it is the moon that at all times and seasons releases souls to enter the sons of men -- she having previously gathered them for the purpose. Of those souls, then, which she releases during the period that she is under sentence, every one will always be the victim of degradation and poverty and suffer other chastisements, irrespective of whether he be sinful or righteous. (Prayer, however, can avert any sentence of punishment.) But those souls which the moon sends forth when she is in the grade of completeness, and the perennially flowing stream plays about her, are destined to enjoy abundance of all good things-of riches, children, and bodily health -- and all on account [181a] of the allotment (mazzal) that flowed forth and joined itself to that grade in order to be perfected and blessed by it. We see thus that all things are dependent on allotment (mazzal), according to the dictum: "Children, life, and livelihood do not depend on a man's merits, but on mazzal." Hence all those who are sorely afflicted in this world in spite of being truly righteous suffer through the mischance of their soul; but in compensation the Holy One, blessed be He, has compassion on them in the world to come.' R. Eleazar said: 'All the acts of the Almighty are in accordance with justice, and His purpose is to purify that soul from the scum that adheres to it in this world, so as to bring it into the world to come. When the body is crushed the soul is purified, and so God brings pains and sufferings on the righteous man in this world in order that he may gain life everlasting. In this regard it is written: "The Lord trieth the righteous, etc." (Ps. XI, 5).'

R. Simeon said: "It is written: "Only he shall not go in unto the veil, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my holy places, because I am the Lord who sanctify them" (Lev. XXI, 23). When the perennial stream releases human souls, and the Female becomes pregnant, they all range themselves within the edifice. Now all those that go forth at the period when the moon is defective by reason of the evil serpent, although pure and holy, become bruised and defective in whatever place they reach, and have to undergo pain and suffering. And these are the souls in whom the Holy One finds delight in spite of their being sad instead of joyful. Esoterically speaking they are a counterpart of something above, the body being impaired and the soul being within after the supernal pattern, each corresponding to each, and these are the souls that require to be renewed with the renewal of the moon, and hence it is written concerning them: "And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me" (Is. LXVI, 23), the word "all" signifying that these souls will be renewed wholly with the renewal of the moon. For they are partners, as it were, with the defective moon, for which reason she dwells in them always, without leaving them, in allusion to which the Scripture says: "I dwell ... with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit ... to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Is. LVII, 15), also: "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart" (Ps. XXXIV, 19). These verses refer to those who are fellow-sufferers with the moon in her defect, and regarding whom it is fitly said, "to revive the heart of the contrite ones", that is, to make those who participated in the sufferings of the moon also participate in the new life to be bestowed on her in the future. Such sufferings undergone by them are called "sufferings in token of love". Happy is their portion in this world and in the world to come when they will be privileged to be partners with her, in allusion to which it is written: "For my brethren and companions' sakes, etc." (Ibid. CXXIl, 8).'

R. Simeon further discoursed on the text: Behold, my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high (Is. LII, 13). 'Happy is the portion of the righteous', he said, 'to whom the Holy One reveals the ways of the Torah that they may walk in them. This verse contains an esoteric meaning. When God created the world, He made the moon, and made her small, for she possesses no light of her own, but because she accepted her diminution she receives reflected light from the sun and from the other superior luminaries. Now, as long as the Temple existed, Israel were assiduous in bringing offerings, which together with all the other services performed by the priests, Levites, and Israelites had for their object to weave bonds of union and to cause luminaries to radiate. But after the Temple was destroyed there was a darkening of the lights, the moon ceased to receive light from the sun, the latter [181b] having withdrawn himself from her, so that not a day passes but is full of grievous distress and afflictions. The time, however, will come for the moon to resume her primordial light, and in allusion to this it is written: "Behold, my servant will prosper." That is to say, there will be a stirring in the upper realms as of one who catches a sweet odour and stands alert. "He shall be exalted", from the side of the most exalted luminaries; "and lifted up", from the side of Abraham; "and shall be high", from the side of Isaac; "very", from the side of Jacob. At that time, then, the Holy One will cause a stirring on high with the object of enabling the moon to shine with her full splendour, as we read: "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" (Ibid. XXX, 26). There will thus be added to the moon an exalted spirit whereby all the dead that are in the dust will be awakened. This is the esoteric meaning of "my servant", viz. the one that has in his hand the key of his Master.

So, too, in the verse: "And Abraham said unto his servant, etc." (Gen. XXIV, 2), the servant is an allusion to the moon as already explained. Also, the servant is identical with Metatron, who is the servant and messenger of his Master, and who was, as we read further, the elder of his house, the same who is alluded to in the text: "I have been young, and now am old" (Ps. XXXVII, 25). "That ruled over all that he had"; this applies to the same Metatron by reason of his displaying the three colours, green, white, and red. "Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh" ; this is symbolic of the foundation of the world, for this servant was destined to bring to life again the dwellers in the dust, and to be made the messenger by the spirit from on high to restore the spirits and souls to their places, to the bodies that were decomposed underneath the dust. We read further: "and I will make thee swear (veashbe'akha) by the Lord, the God of heaven", the term veashbe'akha implying that the servant will be invested with the mystery of the seven (sheba') celestial lights which constitute the mystery of sublime perfection. Further: "that thou shalt not take a wife for my son of the daughters of the Canaanites." The "wife" is an allusion to the body lying underground, and "to my son" is an allusion to the soul, inasmuch as all the souls that issue from the celestial ever-flowing river are the children of the Holy One, blessed be He. The servant is thus bidden "not to take a wife for my son of the daughters of the Canaanites", or, in other words, not to take for a soul any of the bodies of the idolatrous nations whom the Holy One will in the future shake out of the Holy signify the inquiry which the servant will make of each soul regarding her occupation in this world. We read, then, "and she will say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also", that is, do thou drink first, and afterwards I will give drink to the other grades, for although those grades drink from the same source, they ultimately derive their sustenance from the religious activity of the righteous who knew how to serve their Master properly, for it is the righteous who know how to supply proper sustenance to each grade. "The same be the woman", it says further, "that thou hast appointed for the son of my master"; that assuredly is the body destined for that superior soul. Observe that it has been said before that the desire of the male towards the female forms a soul, and the desire of the female towards the male rises upwards to unite with the soul and form one being. The woman is thus the body which is destined for the association of the soul that is derived from the male. These bodies, then, are destined to rise first, as we said already, and then all the others in the other lands will be raised in a complete state and will be renewed with the renewal of the moon, and the world will be restored to its primeval state, in allusion to which it is written: "Let the Lord rejoice in his works" (Ps. CIV, 31). Hence we read: "Behold, my servant will understand", that is, he will know how to restore the souls, each one to its place. "He shall be exalted and lifted up and shall be very high", from the side of all the superior grades as said above. The next verse says: "According as many were appalled at thee -- so marred was his visage unlike that of a man" (Is. LII, 14). According to our exposition, when the Temple was destroyed and the Shekinah went into exile into strange lands, then "behold, their Erelim [1] cry without, the angels of peace weep bitterly" (Ibid. XXXIII, 7), for all wept and mourned for the Shekinah that was exiled from her place, and in the degree that she became altered from what she was, to the same degree her Master withdrew his light and became altered from what he was, as it is written: "The sun was darkened in his going forth" (Ibid. XIII, 10). Hence: "so marred was his visage." According to another interpretation, the words, "so marred Land, as we read: "and the wicked be shaken out of it" (Job XXXVIII, 13), as one shakes dust from his garment. The servant is further bidden: "But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred." "To my country" has already been explained; "to my 'kindred" is an allusion to Israel. Observe now what is written further: "And the servant took ten camels." The "servant" we have already identified; "ten camels" represent the ten grades over which the servant exercises dominion, and which are after the supernal pattern; "of the camels of his master", to wit, an exact pattern of the superior degrees, as already said; "having all goodly things of his master's in his hand", to wit, all the supernal spirits that emerge from the supernal luminaries ; "and he arose and went to Aram-Naharaim", to wit, the spot in the Holy Land where Rachel wept at the time the Temple was destroyed. "And he made the camels to kneel down without the city by the well of water", that is, he fortified the energy of the souls before their entering into the bodies for their revival; "at the time of evening", to wit, the eve of Sabbath, [182a] which is the sixth millennium, the same period as that alluded to in the text: "and to his labour until the evening" (Ps. CIV, 23). also in the words: "for the shadows of the evening are stretched out" (Jer. VI, 4). We read further: "at the time that women go out to draw water", to wit, the time when those who drew the waters of the Torah will rise from the dead before the rest of mankind, in virtue of their having taken hold of the tree of life. Further: "and the daughters of the men of the city came out to draw water", to wit, the bodies will come forth, as we read: "and the earth will throw up the shades" (Is. XXVI, 19), implying that the earth will in future give up all the bodies lying therein, "to draw water", that is, to receive the soul in a perfected state. Further: "So let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, that I may drink." It is one of our affirmations that every soul that occupied itself in this world in the study of the deep mysteries of Divine Wisdom, when it goes to heaven is raised to a high grade, high above those who remained in ignorance; and it is they who will rise from the dead first. The words, then, "Let down thy pitcher, etc." was his visage unlike that of a man" are illustrated by the verse: "I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering" (Ibid. L, 3). For after the Temple was destroyed the heavens did not retain their former illumination. Esoterically speaking, benediction does not abide save where male and female are together, and since at that time [I82b] the male was not with her, all the souls that issued then were not the same as they had been when the sun was in union with the moon, as already said. This union is symbolized by the relation of Joseph to Jacob, as expressed in the verse, "These are the generations of Jacob: Joseph." This form of expression implies that Jacob's image was completely reproduced in Joseph, and that whatever happened to the one happened to the other also, the two being parallel and having the same esoteric symbolism.'

***

AND JOSEPH BROUGHT EVIL REPORT OF THEM UNTO THEIR FATHER. This has been interpreted to mean that he accused them to his father of eating flesh cut from a living animal; he also accused the sons of Leah of having treated with contempt the sons of the handmaids. How, it may be asked, could they have done this, seeing that the sons of the handmaids were reckoned in the twelve tribes? Or how could they have eaten flesh from a living animal, seeing that this was distinctly forbidden to the sons of Noah in the words: "Only flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat" (Gen. IX, 4)? The truth is, however, that it was only Joseph's talk, and he was punished for it. R. Judah said: 'The evil report of them that Joseph brought was that they cast their eyes on the daughters of the land, which was equivalent to providing sustenance to the unholy degrees that proceed from the unclean side.'

***

NOW ISRAEL LOVED JOSEPH MORE THAN ALL HIS CHILDREN, BECAUSE HE WAS THE SON OF HIS OLD AGE; AND HE MADE HIM A COAT OF MANY COLOURS. Said R. Eleazar: 'It is written: "Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast" (Is. XXVI, 20). God holds Israel in affection above the idolatrous nations, and on that account He warns them and puts them on their guard in all their deeds. There are three periods in a day during which the world is liable to chastisement, and at each of these periods it behoves a man to be specially on his guard. These are well known and are specified elsewhere. Furthermore, at a time when judgement is at work upon the world and death rages in a city, a man should not walk by himself in the open street, as already mentioned above, but he should shut himself in after the example of Noah, who shut himself within the ark so that he should not be met by the destroying angel. Hence: "Come, my people, enter into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee", so as not to be exposed to the destroying angel; "hide thyself for a little moment", until the indignation be overpast, as after the moment of judgement is passed the destroying angel has no more power to harm. And it is because God holds Israel in affection and draws them near to Himself that all the idolatrous nations hate Israel; for they see themselves kept at a distance whilst Israel are brought near. Similarly it was by reason of the love that Jacob showed towards Joseph above all his other sons that they conspired to slay him, though he was their own brother. How much greater, then, must be the enmity of the idolatrous nations towards Israel!' Observe the consequences that followed the excessive love shown to Joseph by his father: he was exiled from his father, and his father joined him in exile, and along with them [183a] the Shekinah also went into exile. It is true that the exile was really the consequence of a divine decree; yet the proximate cause was the coat of many colours which he made for him specially.

***
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 28795
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:05 am

Part 2 of 3

AND JOSEPH DREAMED A DREAM, ETC. On the subject of dreams, R. Hiya discoursed on the text: And he said: Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord do make myself known unto him in a vision, I do speak with him in a dream (Num. XII, 6). 'God', he said, 'has brought into existence a series of grades, one higher than the other, one drawing sustenance from the other, some on the right, others on the left, all arranged in a perfect hierarchy. Now all the prophets drew their inspiration from one side, from the midst of two certain grades which they beheld in a "dull mirror", as it says: "I do make myself known unto him in a vision", the word "vision" denoting, as has been explained, a medium reflecting a variety of colours; and this is the "dull mirror". The dream, on the other hand, is a sixtieth part of prophecy, and so forms the sixth grade removed from prophecy, which is the grade of Gabriel, the supervisor of dreams. Now a normal dream proceeds from that grade, and hence there is not a dream that has not intermingled with it some spurious matter, so that it is a mixture of truth and falsehood. Hence it is that all dreams follow their interpretation, as it is written: "And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was" (Gen. XLI, 13); for since the dream contains both falsehood and truth, the word has power over it, and therefore it is advisable that every dream should be interpreted in a good sense.'

R. Hiya further discoursed on the text: In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleepfalleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then he openeth the ears of men, and by their chastisement sealeth the decree (Job XXXIII, 15-16). 'When a man retires to rest,' he said, 'it behoves him first to acknowledge the Kingdom of Heaven [2] and then to say a short prayer. For when a man goes to bed and sleeps, his soul leaves him and soars aloft. God then reveals to the soul through that grade which presides over the soul future events, or things which correspond to a man's own thoughts, so as to serve as an admonition to him. For no revelation comes to man when his body is in full vigour, but an angel communicates things to the soul, and the soul transmits them to the man; dreams, then, originate on high when souls leave the bodies, each one taking its own route. There is a graduated series of the intimations by which deeper knowledge is conveyed to men, dreams forming one grade, vision another grade, and prophecy a third grade, in a rising series.

***

AND JOSEPH DREAMED A DREAM, AND HE TOLD IT TO HIS BRETHREN. AND THEY HATED HIM THE MORE FOR HIS DREAMS. From this we learn that a man should not tell his dream save to a friend, otherwise the listener may pervert the significance of the dream and cause delay in its fulfilment. Joseph communicated his dream to his brethren, and they caused its fulfilment to be delayed for twenty-two years. Thus we find it written: AND HE SAID UNTO THEM, HEAR, I PRAY YOU, THIS DREAM [183b] WHICH I HAVE DREAMED. We see here how he begged his brethren to listen to him, and insisted on telling them his dream, which, had they given it another meaning, would have been fulfilled accordingly. But they said to him: "Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou have dominion over us?" and with these words they sealed their own doom.

R. Hiya and R. Jose used to study with R. Simeon. R. Hiya once put to him the following question: 'We have learnt that a dream uninterpreted is like a letter undeciphered. Does this mean that the dream comes true without the dreamer being conscious of it, or that it remains unfulfilled?' R. Simeon answered: 'The dream comes true, but without the dreamer being aware of it. For nothing happens in the world but what is made known in advance either by means of a dream or by means of a proclamation; as it has been affirmed, that before any event comes to pass in the world it is announced in heaven, whence it is broadcast into the world. So Scripture says: "For the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his counsels unto his servants the prophets" (Amos. III, 7). This refers to the time when there were prophets in the world; when prophets were no more, their place was taken by the Sages, who, in a sense, even excelled the prophets; and in the absence of Sages things to come are revealed in dreams, and if not in dreams, through the medium of the birds of heaven; and so we have laid down.'

***

AND HIS BRETHREN WENT TO FEED THEIR FATHER'S FLOCK IN SHECHEM. R. Simeon said: 'The dots on the top of the particle eth in this sentence indicate that the Shekinah accompanied them by reason of their being a band of ten. (They were only ten because Joseph was not with them and Benjamin remained at home on account of his tender age.) Hence, when they sold Joseph they were in the company of the Shekinah, and, furthermore, they associated the Shekinah with them in their oath (not to reveal the affair of Joseph); and until the fate of Joseph became known, the Shekinah did not rest on Jacob. The proof that the Shekinah accompanied the brethren is the verse of the Psalms which speaks of "the tribes of the Lord, a testimony unto Israel" (Ps. CXXII, 4), a title which shows that they were all of them righteous and devout, constituting the support of the whole world, both on high and below.' R. Simeon further discoursed on the text: I rejoiced when they said unto me: Let us go unto the house of the Lord (Ibid. CXXII, 1). 'This verse has been explained', he said, 'as follows. David was minded to build the House of God, but he was commanded to leave the task to his son, as we read: "Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord ... nevertheless thou shalt not build the house; but thy son that shall come forth out of thy loins, he shall build the house for my name" (I Kings VIII, 18-19). The whole of Israel knew of this and they used to say: "When is David going to die so that Solomon his son may arise and build the House, and we shall be able to say, 'Our feet are standing within thy gates, o Jerusalem' (Ps. CXXII, 2), for we will then go up and offer sacrifices?" But although David knew that they were impatient for his death, yet he rejoiced to hear them speak thus on account of his son, who would take his place in carrying out the command to build the House. David thus commenced to sing its praises and said: "Jerusalem that art builded as a city that is compact together" (Ibid. CXXII, 3). According to our teachers, God fashioned the lower Jerusalem on the model of the heavenly Jerusalem, the one exactly facing the other, as it is written: "the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established" (Ex. xv, 17). The expression "that art builded" indicates that God will in time to come cause the upper Jerusalem to descend below; this is further proved by the phrase "as a city that is compact (she-huhrah) together", where the term huhrah (lit. she is joined), written in the singular, indicates that the Mother has joined the Daughter and the two are become as one. We read further: "Whither the tribes went up", they being the support of the world and the upholding of the lower world, and even of the upper world, as it says: "even the tribes of the Lord, as a testimony unto Israel", the term "Israel" having its esoteric significance; for they, being the support of the lower world, act as a testimony to the upper world, and all in order "to give thanks unto the name of the Lord" (Ps. CXXII, 4), i.e. to acknowledge the name of God in all directions.' [184a]

***

AND ISRAEL SAID UNTO JOSEPH: DO NOT THY BRETHREN FEED THE FLOCK OF SHECHEM? COME, AND I WILL SEND THEE UNTO THEM. How came it that Jacob the perfect man, who loved Joseph above all his sons and knew that all his brethren hated him, sent him to them? The truth is that he harboured no suspicion of them, knowing them to be all righteous; but God brought all this about in order to fulfil the decree pronounced "between the pieces" (Gen. XV, 17). We have found it stated in ancient books that the sons of Jacob were anxious to obtain dominion over Joseph before he went down into Egypt, because they knew that if he should go down there first before they obtained dominion over him the Egyptians would obtain dominion over Israel in perpetuity; but by selling Joseph as a slave they made themselves his masters, and since he later on rose to power and the Egyptians became his slaves, Israel became masters of all. Joseph was the symbol of the heavenly covenant, and so long as he was alive the covenant of the Shekinah remained with Israel in perfect harmony, but as soon as Joseph departed the covenant of the Shekinah together with Israel was plunged into captivity, as it says: "Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph" (Ex. I, 8). It was all fittingly ordained by Providence.

***

AND A CERTAIN MAN FOUND HIM: this was Gabriel, of whom we read: "the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning" (Dan. IX, 21). AND, BEHOLD, HE WAS WANDERING: indeed he was wandering both literally and metaphorically; he trusted his brethren and sought their affection but could not gain it, and he was looking for them but could not find them. Hence: AND THE MAN ASKED HIM, SAYING: WHAT SEEKEST THOU? AND HE SAID: I SEEK MY BRETHREN.... AND THE MAN SAID: THEY ARE DEPARTED HENCE, ETC. R. Judah discoursed on the text: 0 that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breast of my mother! When I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, and none would despise me (S. S. VIII, 1). 'The Companions', he said, 'interpret this verse as being addressed by the Community of Israel to the King to whom peace belongs. She said to Him: "O that thou wert as my brother", to wit, as Joseph towards his brethren, to whom he said: "Now, therefore, fear ye not; I will sustain you and your little ones" (Gen. L, 21), and whom he provided with food and fed in time of famine. According to another explanation, the phrase "as my brother" refers to Joseph, who was in the relation of a brother towards the Shekinah, with whom he was intimately associated -- "that sucked the breast of my mother", this expresses the perfect affection between them; "when I should find thee without", to wit, in exile, in a strange land, "I would kiss thee", so that spirit should join spirit; "yea, and none would despise me", despite my dwelling in a strange land. Observe that although when Joseph fell into their hands they did not act towards him as brothers, yet when they fell into his hands he did act towards them as a brother, as it is written: "And he comforted them, and he spoke kindly unto them" (Gen. I, 21).

***

AND THEY SAID ONE TO ANOTHER (lit. one man to his brother). These are Simeon and Levi, who were truly brothers in all respects, both being descended from the side of rigorous judgement; and hence it was that their anger was the anger that causes death in the world, as it says: "Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce, and their wrath, for it was cruel" (Ibid. XLIX,7). For there are two species of anger. There is anger which is blessed on high and below, and is called "blessed" (barukh), as explained in connection with the sentence: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth" (Ibid. XIV, 19); and there is anger which is accursed on high and is called "cursed" (arur), and regarding this it is written: "Cursed be thou from among all cattle, and from among all beasts of the field" (Ibid. III, 14), as well as "Cursed be their anger for it was fierce." This is the recondite significance of the two mounts Gerizim and Ebal set aside for the blessing and the curse (Deut. XI, 29), the two mounts corresponding to these two grades; and hence one is called cursed and the other blessed. Simeon and Levi both belonged to the side of severity, from which side, in its extreme manifestation, issues the anger which is under a curse. All anger issues from the side of rigorous judgement, but in two directions, [184b] one referred to as blessed, the other as cursed. Similarly, from the side of Isaac there issued two sons, one of whom was blessed and the other cursed on high and below; the two separated, each going off towards his own side, the one making his abode in the Holy Land, the other on Mount Seir, being as he was "a cunning hunter, a man of the field" (Gen. XXV, 27). The latter had his home in the desert, in regions of waste and desolation, while the former "dwelt in tents" (Ibid.), all being fitly ordained. Hence it is that there are two grades, "blessed" and "cursed", each ranged on its own side. From the one issue all blessings in the upper and the lower worlds, all beneficence, all light, all deliverance, all redemption; whilst the other is the source of all curses, all wars and bloodshed, all desolation and evil, and all defilement.

R. Simeon said: 'It is written: I will wash my hands in innocency; so will I compass thine altar, O Lord (Ps. XXVI, 6). The inner implication of this verse has been explained as follows. Every man has a foretaste of death during the night, because the holy soul then leaves him, and the unclean spirit rests on the body and makes it unclean. When, however, the soul returns to the body, the pollution disappears, save from the man's hands, which retain it and thus remain unclean. Hence a man should not pass his hands over his eyes before washing them. When he has washed them, however, he becomes sanctified and is called holy. For this sanctification two vessels are required, one held above and the other placed beneath, so that he may be sanctified by the water poured on his hands from the vessel above. The lower vessel, then, is the vessel of uncleanness, receiving as it does the water of contamination, whilst the upper vessel is a medium of sanctification. The upper one is to be referred to as "blessed", the lower as "cursed". Further, the water of contamination should not be emptied in the house, in order that no one may come near it; for it forms a gathering-place for the elements of the unclean side, and so one may receive injury from the unclean water. Neither may a man pronounce a benediction before the pollution is removed from his ·hands. Thus, before he sanctifies his hands of a morning, a man is called unclean, and after that he is called clean. For this reason one should not allow water to be poured over his hands save by a man who has already washed his own hands, in harmony with the precept: "And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean" (Num. XIX, 19). We see that the one with his hands washed is the clean person, the other the unclean. Similarly with the two vessels, the upper and the lower, the one being the holy vessel, the other the unholy. Nor is it permitted to put the polluted water to any use, or even to let it stay overnight in the house, but it must be emptied in a spot where people do not pass, as it is liable to cause harm through the unclean spirit that clings to it. It is quite permissible, however, to let it flow down a slope into the earth. It must not be given to witches, as by means of it they can do harm to people. One should, then, avoid this water, since it is water of curse, and the Holy One desires to purify Israel so that they may be holy, as it is written: "And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you" (Ez. XXXVI, 25).'

***

AND THEY TOOK HIM AND CAST HIM INTO THE PIT. R. Judah here discoursed on the text: The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul (Ps. XIX, 8). 'The study of the Torah', he said, 'procures for a man life in this world and in the world to come, so that he gains the two worlds; and even he that studies the Torah for worldly motives and not purely for its own sake as he ought to, gains a good reward in this world, and escapes punishment in the other. The Scripture says: "Length of days is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honour" (Prov. III, 16). There is, indeed, length of days for him who devotes himself to the Torah for its own sake. For such a one there is length of days in the other world, where days are indeed days. [185a] And further: "in her left hand are riches and honour", which means good reward in this world. Moreover, if a man has devoted himself to the Torah for its own sake, when he departs this world the Torah goes before him and proclaims his merit, and shields him against the emissaries of punishment. When a man's body is laid in the grave, the Torah keeps guard over it; it goes in front of his soul when it soars upwards, breaking through all barriers until the soul reaches its proper place; and it will stand by the man at the time when he is awakened at the resurrection of the dead, in order to defend him against any accusations. Thus Scripture further says: "When thou liest down, it shall watch over thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee" (Ibid. VI, 22). The "lying down" is an allusion to the time when man's body is lying in the grave and is being judged there; the Torah will then protect him; whilst "when thou awakest", that is, when the dead will rise from the dust, "it shall talk with thee", that is, plead thy cause.' R. Eleazar interpreted the clause "it shall talk with thee" to mean that when they rise from the grave the Torah will not be forgotten of them, but they will know it much as they did when they left this world. For their Torah will be preserved from that time, will penetrate within them, and will talk, as it were, within their very inwards; and moreover, they will be more adept than they were previously, so that points which formerly baffled them in spite of all their labour will now be fully comprehended by them, the Torah itself speaking within them. Hence: "when thou awakest, it will talk with thee".' R. Judah said: 'In a similar way, whoever devotes himself to the study of the Torah in this world will be privileged to study in the world to come; and so we affirm. On the other hand, the man who fails to study the Torah in this world, and so walks in darkness, when he leaves this world is taken and cast into Gehinnom, a nethermost place, where there will be none to pity him, a place called "tumultuous pit, miry clay" (Ps. XL, 3). Hence, of him who has not devoted himself to the study of the Torah in this world, but has besmirched himself with the offscourings of this world, it is written: "And they took him and cast him into the pit", that is, into Gehinnom, a place where those who have not laboured in the Torah are brought to judgement. "And the pit was empty", in the same way as he was empty: why so? "Because there was no water" (i.e. Torah) in him. Observe, too, how great is the punishment for neglect of the study of the Torah, seeing that Israel were not exiled from the Holy Land save for having abandoned the Torah, as it is written: "Who is the wise man that may understand this? ... Wherefore is the land perished ? ... And the Lord saith: Because they have forsaken my law, etc." (Jer. IX, II).' R. Judah derived the same lesson from the verse: "Therefore my people are gone into captivity, for want of knowledge" (Is. V, 13), that is, because they have not applied themselves to the study of the Torah, which is the foundation of the upper and the lower worlds, as it says : "Were it not for my covenant enduring day and night, I would not have appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth" (Jer. XXXIII, 25).

***

AND THEY CAST HIM INTO THE PIT. There is a hint here that they cast him ultimately among the Egyptians, a place where there was no sign of true faith. R. Isaac said: 'Seeing that the pit contained serpents and scorpions, how could Reuben have advised that Joseph should be cast into it in order that "he might deliver him out of their hand, to restore him to his father" ? Had he no fear of the serpents and scorpions attacking Joseph? And if they did, how could he deliver him out of their hand, to restore him to his father? But the truth is that Reuben perceived the intense enmity of the brethren towards Joseph and how intent they were on killing him, and he therefore thought that it was better for him to fall into the pit of serpents and scorpions than to be delivered into the hands of enemies who would have no mercy on him. Hence the saying: "Rather should a man throw himself into a fire or a pit full of serpents and scorpions, than be delivered into the hands of his enemies." [I85b] The reason is that in a place infested with serpents and scorpions, if the man be righteous, God may possibly perform a miracle for him, or it may happen that the merits of his ancestors may stand him in good stead and he will be delivered. But of those who are delivered into the hands of their enemies, few indeed are able to escape. Hence the expression "that he might deliver him out of their hand", as much as to say "Let him be delivered, at any rate, out of their hand, and if he is to die in the pit, then it cannot be helped." Observe the great piety of Reuben. He knew well the ruthlessness of Simeon and Levi when acting and planning in conjunction, as witnessed by their treatment of Shechem, where they not only slew all the males, but took all their little ones and their wives, all their silver and gold, all their cattle and precious vessels, and everything else they found in the city, and even everything which was in the field, as we read: "and that which was in the city and that which was in the field they took" (Gen. XXXIV, 28). Reuben thus said to himself: "If such a great city as that could not escape them, should this youth fall into their hands they will not leave of him a single shred." Hence he said: "He must at all costs be rescued from them, since they will leave no sign of him for his father to see again; whereas here, if he is killed, his body, at any rate, will remain for me to bring back to my father." Hence the words: "to bring him back to his father", that is, even if he die there. Hence, too, Reuben's words: "The child is not", that is to say, not even a dead child did I find. Observe his tactfulness in saying "Let us not take his life," and not "Do not ye take his life." Now Reuben was absent when Joseph was sold, as the brethren had each in turn to attend one day on their father, and that day happened to be Reuben's turn. He was anxious lest on that day Joseph should disappear, and therefore at once HE RETURNED UNTO THE PIT. BUT BEHOLD JOSEPH WAS NOT IN THE PIT; -- not even dead -- AND HE RENT HIS CLOTHES. AND HE RETURNED UNTO HIS BRETHREN AND SAID: THE CHILD IS NOT, ETC. For even Reuben did not know that Joseph had been sold. As already said, the brothers associated the Shekinah with them in the oath of secrecy, and so Reuben did not learn of it until Joseph made himself known to his brethren. Reuben's attempt to save Joseph's life was all the more disinterested, because he knew that the birthright had been taken away from him and given to Joseph, for we thus find that Moses interceded on his behalf, praying: "Let Reuben live, and not die" (Deut. XXXIII, 6), i.e., let him live in this world and not die in the world to come; and this prayer was prompted by this action of Reuben and also by his repentance for that other action. [3] For whoever repents of his sin, God preserves in this world and in the world to come.

***

AND THEY TOOK JOSEPH'S COAT, AND THEY KILLED A HE-GOAT, ETC., the reason being, as has been laid down, that the blood of a he-goat resembles that of a human being. We learn from this passage how particular God is with the righteous, even when they act correctly. For although Jacob acted fittingly in bringing a he-goat to his father, who was of the side of severity, yet because he thereby deceived his father, he was punished through that other he-goat, the blood of which his sons brought for the purpose of deceiving him. Of Jacob it is written: "And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck" (Gen. XXVII,16); correspondingly, we read of his sons: "and they dipped the coat in the blood", with the object of deceiving him. It was measure for measure. Likewise, there we read: "And Isaac trembled very exceedingly" (Ibid. 33), and as a punishment Jacob trembled when his sons uttered the words: "know now whether it is thy son's coat or not". [186a] R. Hiya added: 'There it is written: "whether thou be my very son Esau or not ?" (Ibid. 21): correspondingly, here it is written, "whether it is thy son's or not". We thus find that the Almighty is particular with the righteous to a hairbreadth.' R. Abba said: 'When the brethren perceived the pain they had caused their father, they were stricken with remorse and cast about to ransom Joseph at all costs, if so be they could discover his whereabouts. But when they found that they were unable to do so, they turned on Judah, who hitherto had been king over them, and deposed him from his high estate. Hence it is written: "And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren."'

R. Judah discoursed here on the text: The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High gave forth his voice; hailstones and coals of fire (Ps. XVIII, 14). 'When God', he said, 'created the world, He constructed for it seven pillars by which it was to be upheld. So Scripture says: "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars" (Prov. IX, 1). These in turn are upheld by one grade from among them called "the Righteous One, the everlasting foundation" (Ibid. X, 25). Further, when the world was created, it was started from that spot which is the culmination and perfection of the world, the central point of the universe, which is identical with Zion, as it is written: "A psalm of Asaph. God, God the Lord hath spoken and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined forth" (Ps. L, 2). That is to say, God started the earth from Zion, from the spot where faith culminates in its full perfection. Zion is thus the citadel and central point of the universe, from which it began to be fashioned and from which the whole world is nourished. This lesson is esoterically indicated in our text. For Zion and Jerusalem, while one, represent two degrees, the one being the channel of judgement, the other of mercy; first there issues from one the sound of mercy, and afterwards there comes forth from the other the voice of judgement, the two forming the source from which the paths of judgement and mercy issue and diverge. Hence the expression "And the Lord also thundered in the heavens" indicates judgement, while "the Most High gave forth his voice" refers to mercy, and "hailstones and coals of fire" signify water and fire, that is, mercy and judgement commingled.'

Observe that when Judah was born, it is written: "and she left off bearing" (Gen. XXIX, 35), the reason being that Judah constituted the fourth of the four supports of the Heavenly Throne. But here it is written: AND JUDAH WENT DOWN FROM HIS BRETHREN, that is, from his position as their king, because Joseph had been taken down into Egypt, as explained.

***

AND JUDAH SAW THERE A DAUGHTER OF A CERTAIN CANAANITE. The term Canaanite has been explained by the Companions.

***

AND SHE CONCEIVED, AND BORE A SON; AND HE CALLED HIS NAME ER. Judah had three sons, and the only one who survived was Shelah. R. Eleazar and R. Jose and R. Hiya were once walking together. Said R. Jose to R. Eleazar: "Why is it that of the first son of Judah it is written: "and he called his name Er", whereas of the other two it is written: "and she called his name Onan", "and she called his name Shelah"?' R. Eleazar replied: "There is a deep mystic allusion in these sentences, which explains all. Thus Judah going down from his brethren symbolizes the moon becoming obscured and descending from the perfected grade to another grade to which the serpent becomes associated, as is indicated in the statement: "and he turned into a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah". Then we read: "And she conceived, and bore a son; and he called his name Er." The name 'Er is a reversal of the letters ra' (evil), for he was evil, having issued from the side of the evil prompter. The accusative particle eth (the) inserted before his name likewise [186b] hints at the emergence of another grade, that of impurity and defilement, from which grade Er was born. Nor was the defect made good until afterwards, when Shelah appeared. It says further: "And Er, Judah's first-born, was evil in the sight of the Lord", where the term "evil" finds its echo in the sentence: "for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Gen. VIII, 21). Er was evil in that he shed blood, by spilling the seed on the ground, and therefore the Lord slew him. After that it is written:

***

AND JUDAH SAID UNTO ONAN: GO IN UNTO THY BROTHER'S WIFE, ETC. R. Simeon opened here a discourse with the text: I have roused up one from the north, and he is come, from the rising of the sun one that calleth upon my name; and he shall come upon ruins as upon mortar, and as the potter treadeth clay (Is. XLI, 25). 'How foolish', he said, 'are the sons of men who neither know nor care about the ways of the Almighty, their eyes being closed as in sleep. God made man after the supernal pattern, each limb corresponding to something in the scheme of Wisdom. For when the whole body of man had been duly shaped with all its members, God associated Himself with him and put a holy soul into him, so as to teach man to walk in the ways of the Torah and to observe His commandments in order that he might attain to his full perfection. Hence, while the holy soul is still within man's body, it is incumbent on him to multiply the image of the King in the world. There is herein an esoteric thought involved, namely, that just as the celestial stream flows on for ever without ceasing, so must man see that his own river and spring shall not cease in this world. And so long as a man is unsuccessful in his purpose in this world, the Holy One, blessed be He, uproots him and replants him over and over again. Observe, then, the meaning of the words: "I have roused up one from the north, and he is come", where the rousing alludes to the rousing and stirring up of the desire of a man for mating in this world, which originates from the North, whilst the words "and he is come" allude to the holy soul which descends from on high, whence God sends it, and comes into this world to enter into a man, as said above. "From the rising of the sun" alludes to the place of that celestial ever-flowing river, whence the soul issues and is illumined: "and there come rulers as mortar" signifies the heavenly forces which cause a rousing in the souls above corresponding to the stirring of the man in his body. For it is for this purpose that God creates souls in couples and sends them down to the world, so that there may be companionship both on high and below, and the well-spring of all may be blessed. God made man that he should steadfastly walk in His ways, and never cut off his fount and well-spring; for if a man cuts off his well-spring on earth and causes it to dry up, it is as though he causes the waters of the celestial river to fail, as described in the words: "The waters fail from the sea, and the river is drained dry" (Job XIV, 11). For inasmuch as man has been established in this world after the pattern of the upper world, he whose well-spring ceases to produce through his not taking a wife is beyond remedy, and of him it is said: "That which is crooked cannot be made straight" (Eccl. I, 15). On the other hand, he who has taken a wife but has not been blessed with offspring can be redeemed by his near relative, that is, by his brother. He who dies without leaving children will not enter within the curtain of heaven and will have no share in the other world, and his soul will not be admitted to the place where all souls are gathered and his image will be cut off from there. Of such a one it is written: "And this soul will be cut off from before me." Such being the case, God has provided for such a man a redeemer [187a] to redeem him out of the hands of the destructive angels, to wit, his brother who is near to him. So Scripture says: "If brethren dwell together, etc." (Deut. xxv, 5-10); also: "Go in unto thy brother's wife, and perform the duty of husband's brother unto her, etc." For the soul of such a man does not enter before the presence of the Holy One, blessed be He, but remains without, since he has not succeeded in radiating light in this world by means of the body. He who has not succeeded in this place must go to another place where he may have better fortune. When wood smoulders without any flame, if it is struck it flares up and throws out light. Man is compared to wood, as it says: "for the tree of the field is man" (Ibid. XX, 19). Now a man who eats and drinks and marries, but is not blessed with children, is like the wood that burns without giving off any light, that is, his soul has not been illumined in its present body but has remained in darkness. It is written: "He created it not a waste, he formed it to be inhabited" (Is. XLV, 18), that is, God made man for this purpose, and so dealt kindly with the world. Observe the Scriptural text: "And Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah" (Gen. XXV, 1). Herein is an allusion to the soul which after death comes to earth to be built up as before. Observe that of the body it is written: "And it pleased the Lord to crush him by disease; to see if his soul would offer itself in restitution, that he might see his seed, and prolong his days, and that the purpose of the Lord might prosper by his hand." (Is. LIII, 10). That is to say, if the soul desires to be rehabilitated then he must see seed, for the soul hovers round about and is ready to enter the seed of procreation, and thus "he will prolong his days, and the purpose of the Lord", namely the Torah, "will prosper in his hand". For although a man labours in the Torah day and night, yet if his source remains fruitless, he will find no place by which to enter within the heavenly curtain. As has been pointed out, a well of water, if not fed by its source and spring, is no well, since the well and the source are one and they have a joint symbolism. It is written: "It is vain for you that ye rise early, and sit up late, ye that eat the bread of sadness; so he giveth unto his beloved sleep" (Ps. CXXVII, 2). Precious, indeed, are the words of the Torah, each one containing sublime and holy mysteries, as has been affirmed, that when God gave the Torah to Israel, He gave it to them with all its sublime and holy treasures. The words: "It is vain for you that ye rise early" are addressed to those who are single, not exhibiting the proper union of male with female. In vain they rise early, as we read: "There is one that is alone, and he hath not a second ... yet, there is no end of all his labour" (Eccl. IV, 8). In vain, too, they "sit up late", or, as we may translate, they "postpone rest", as woman is assuredly man's repose. They are addressed as "ye that eat the bread of sadness", for the man who has children eats his bread in good cheer and gladness of heart; but to him that has no children, the bread he eats is bread of sadness: "so he giveth unto his beloved sleep", the beloved being he whose wellspring is blessed, and to whom the Holy One vouchsafeth sleep in the other world, as we read: "and thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet" (Prov. III, 24), for he has a share in the world to come; the man will thus lie down and be blessed with the world to come. "There is one that is alone" (Eccl. IV, 8) is an allusion to the man who is improperly alone, without a wife; "and he hath not a second", no one to uphold him, no son to establish his name in Israel, or to bring him to his due meed; "yet there is no end of all his labour", as he is always labouring, day and night; "neither is his eye satisfied with riches" (Ibid.) and he has not the sense to reflect: "for whom, then, do I labour and bereave my soul [187b] of pleasure ?" (Ibid.) You may say that he has pleasure in that he eats and drinks and feasts every day; but it is not so, inasmuch as his soul (nefesh) does not share in his pleasure, so that assuredly he bereaves his soul of pleasure, of the blissful illumination of the world to come; for it is left stunted without attaining its full and proper growth. For God cares for His works, and so desires that a man should be set right and not perish from the world to come, as already said.'

R. Hiya put the following question: 'What is the position of a man who is just and upright and occupies himself with the study of the Torah day and night, and devotes himself wholly to the service of the Almighty, and yet is not blessed with children in this world despite all his effort, or who has children and they die -- what is his position in the world to come ?' R. Jose replied: 'His good deeds and the Torah will shield him in the world to come.' R. Isaac said: 'Of such it is written: "For thus saith the Lord concerning the eunuchs that keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and hold fast my covenant: even unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a monument and a memorial, better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting memorial that shall not be cut off" (Is. LVI, 4-5), so that these have a share in the world to come.' Said R. Jose: 'All this is perfectly correct. But what of the following problem? Suppose there is a perfectly righteous man who has all these qualities and duly perfects himself, yet dies without issue. Now, seeing that he will inherit his place in the world to come, will his wife require to marry his brother or not? If she has to do so, then the marriage will be purposeless, seeing that the other brother inherits his own place in the other world. The truth, however, is that she must still marry the brother, because we cannot say definitely whether the departed was really perfect or not. And in any case her second marriage is not purposeless, since it can serve to redeem some other righteous man who has died without children and has had no ransomer. The passage quoted above continues: "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour" (Eccl. IV, 9), alluding to those who have performed the duty of leaving children in this world, for whose sake they inherit a portion in the world to come. So God has planted trees in this world; if they prosper, well and good, and if not, He uproots them and replants them time after time. All the ways of the Holy One are thus for the purpose of achieving the good and the perfection of the world.'

***

GO IN UNTO THY BROTHER'S WIFE, AND PERFORM THE DUTY OF A HUSBAND'S BROTHER UNTO HER. Judah and all the other tribes were already cognisant of this duty, the main purpose of which is expressed in the sentence: "and raise up seed to thy brother", as that seed is needed for the purpose of putting things right by growing into human shape and form and thus preventing the stock from being severed from its root. And when all has been put right, then those concerned receive praise in the other world, as the Holy One is pleased with them. Hence it says: "Wherefore I praised the dead that are already dead more than the living that are yet alive; but better than they both is he that hath not yet been, who hath not seen the evil work that is done under the sun" (Ibid. IV, 2-3). That is to say: I praised the dead that are already dead more than the living that have returned (from the other world) to the clays of their youth; but better than they both is he that has not yet returned to the days of his youth, as he has no need to rectify and to suffer for his former sins; for the Holy One [188a] has already given him a fitting place in the other world. Happy the portion of the just who walk in the way of truth. Of them it is written: "The righteous shall inherit the land" (Ps. XXXVII, 29).

***
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 28795
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:05 am

Part 3 of 3

AND THE THING WHICH HE DID WAS EVIL IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD; AND HE SLEW HIM ALSO. R. Hiya discoursed here on the text: In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not which shall prosper, this or that, etc. (Eccl. XI, 6). 'It behoves a man', he said, 'to be well on his guard against sin, and to be heedful in his actions before the Holy One, blessed be He; for numerous messengers and chieftains roam about the world, spying out the works of the sons of man, to which they bear witness, and all of which are recorded in a book. Now of all the sins which defile a man, that which defiles him the most, both in this world and in the world to come, is the sin of spilling one's seed (semen). A man guilty of this sin will not enter within the Heavenly Curtain, and will not behold the presence of the Ancient of Days. So we learn from the recurrence of the word "evil" here and in the verse: "For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness; evil shall not sojourn with thee" (Ps. V, 5). It was on account of this sin, too, that the prophet said to the people, "your hands are full of blood" (Is. I, 15). Happy the portion of him who fears his Master, and is on his guard against the evil habit, keeping himself pure so as to persevere in the fear of his Master. Observe, then, the admonition saying: "In the morning sow thy seed." This alludes to the period when a man is in his prime and in the flower of youth, when he sets out to bring forth offspring from the woman destined for him. Then is the proper time for rearing children, as it says: "As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of one's youth" (Ps. CXXVII, 4), as the father can then teach them the ways of the Holy One and so gain reward in the world to come, as it is written: "Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them; they shall not be put to shame, when they speak with their enemies in the gate" (Ibid. 5), i.e. in the next world when the accusers bring their indictment against him, since there is no greater reward in the next world than that of the man who has trained his children in the fear of their Master and in the ways of the Torah. So it is written of Abraham: "For I have known him, that he will command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice" (Gen. XVIII, 19); and it was that merit which bestood him against all the accusers in the other world. Further: "and in the evening withhold not thy hand", that is to say, from begetting children even in old age, "for thou knowest not which shall prosper", that is which shall stand up in thy defence in the other world; and in regard to this it is written: "Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord" (Ps. CXXVII, 3), where the phrase "heritage of the Lord" is an allusion to the "bundle of souls" in the world to come, and the passage indicates that it is children that make a man worthy of entering that heritage of the Lord. Hence happy is the man who is blessed with them and who trains them in the ways of the Torah.

***

AND SHE PUT OFF FROM HER THE GARMENTS OF HER WIDOWHOOD. Tamar was the daughter of a priest, and it can hardly be imagined that she set out with the intention of committing incest with her father-in-law, since she was by nature chaste and modest. She was indeed virtuous and did not prostitute herself, and it was out of her deeper knowledge and wisdom that she approached Judah, and a desire to act kindly and faithfully (towards the dead). And it was because her act was based on a deeper knowledge that God aided her and she straightway conceived. So that it was all ordained [188b] from on high. If it is asked, why did not God cause those sons to be born from some other woman, the answer is that Tamar was necessary for this purpose, and not any other woman. There were two women from whom the seed of Judah was to be built up, from whom were to descend King David, King Solomon, and the Messiah, viz. Tamar and Ruth. These two women had much in common. Both lost their first husbands, and both took similar steps to replace them. Tamar enticed Judah because he was the next-of-kin to her sons who had died, and "she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she was not given unto him for wife". Ruth similarly enticed Boaz, as it says, "and she uncovered his feet and laid her down" (Ruth III, 7), and afterwards she bore him Obed. Now we do not ask why Obed was not born from another woman, for assuredly Ruth was necessary for that purpose to the exclusion of any other woman. From these two women, then, the seed of Judah was built up and brought to completion, and both of them acted piously, and had for their aim to do kindness toward the dead, for the proper establishment of the world subsequently. And this bears out our exposition of the verse "Wherefore I praise the dead that are already dead" (Eccl. IV, 2), for whilst their first husbands were alive there was no merit in them, but afterwards they were good for something, and so these two women exerted themselves to do kindness and truth with the dead; and God aided them in that work, and all was done fittingly. Happy is he who exerts himself in the study of the Torah day and night, as it says: "but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy ways prosperous, etc." (Jos. I, 8).

***

AND JOSEPH WAS BROUGHT DOWN TO EGYPT, AND POTIPHAR BOUGHT HIM, ETC. The expression "was brought down" indicates that God approved of the act, so as to bring to fulfilment the announcement made to Abram between the pieces: "thy seed shall be a stranger, etc." (Gen. XV, 13). AND POTIPHAR BOUGHT HIM, for a sinful purpose.

R. Hizkiah discoursed on the text: Who commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars (Job IX, 7). 'God', he said, 'has set seven stars in the firmament, and each firmament contains numerous angels appointed to minister to the Holy One, blessed be He, each angel having his own service to perform before his Master. All attend to the service to which they have been appointed and each one knows his task. Some of them serve as messengers, having charge in this world of the works of men; others are appointed to chant to Him songs and hymns. But although this is their own particular charge, there is no host in heaven or in the stars or in the constellations but chants praises to the Holy One, blessed be He; for as soon as night falls three hosts of angels range themselves in three quarters of the universe; and in each quarter there are myriads upon myriads, all of whom have for their task [189a] to chant praises to the Holy One. Over these three hosts there stands a sacred If ayah as chieftain. The chanting continues until daybreak. As soon as day breaks all those on the side of the South as well as the shining stars break out into song and praise to the Holy One, as we read: "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job XXXVIII, 7), the morning stars being the stars of the South, the direction implied in the sentence: "And Abraham got up early in the morning" (Gen. XIX, 27), whilst the "sons of God" are those on the left side who merge themselves in the right. When daylight arrives Israel take up the song and offer praises to the Holy One three times a day, corresponding to the three watches of the night. Thus through the angels and Israel together the glory of God is proclaimed day and night with six litanies. The sacred Hayah that is in charge of the chantings of the night on high similarly presides over the chantings of Israel here below; and all is performed in proper order. In regard to this one it is also written: "She riseth also while it is yet night and giveth food to her household, and a portion to her maidens" (Prov. XXXI, 15), where the "household" alludes to the heavenly hosts, whilst the word "maidens" signifies Israel here below. The Holy One is thus extolled both on high and here below.' R. Simeon said: 'The clause "Who commandeth the sun, and it riseth not" applies to Joseph, whilst the sequel, "and sealeth up the stars", applies to his brethren, regarding whom he said, "And eleven stars bowed down to me." Alternatively, "Who commandeth the sun" is an allusion to Jacob at the time his sons said to him: "Know now whether it is thy son's coat or not"; "that it shineth not" is a reference to the time when the Shekinah departed from him; whilst "sealeth up the stars" implies that through his sons Jacob's light was sealed and closed up, the sun for him was darkened and the stars did not shine -- all because Joseph was separated from his father. And note that from the day on which Joseph disappeared Jacob abstained from marital intercourse and observed all the other rites of mourning until the day the good tidings of Joseph reached him.'

***

AND THE LORD WAS WITH JOSEPH, AND HE WAS A PROSPEROUS MAN; AND HE WAS IN THE HOUSE OF HIS MASTER THE EGYPTIAN. R. Jose quoted here the verse: "For the Lord loveth justice, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever" (Ps. XXXVII, 28). 'Observe', he said, 'that wherever the righteous walk, God protects them and never abandons them, as David said: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and staff they comfort me" (Ibid. XXIII, 4); wherever the righteous walk the Shekinah accompanies them and does not abandon them. Joseph walked through the valley of the shadow of death, having been brought down to Egypt, but the Shekinah was with him, as we read: "And the Lord was with Joseph", and by reason of the presence of the Shekinah all that he did prospered in his hand; so much so that if he had something in his hand and his master wanted something of a different kind, it changed in his hand to the kind his master wanted. Hence, it says "made to prosper in his hand", the reason being that the Lord was with him. Observe, too, that it is not written here, "And his master knew", but "And his master saw", signifying that he saw every day with his eyes the miracles God performed by the hand of Joseph; hence: "the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake". God guards the righteous, and for their sakes He guards also the wicked, so that the wicked receive blessings through the righteous. So we find it written: "The Lord blessed the house of Obededom ... because of the ark of God" (II Sam. VI, 12). Others are sustained for the sake of those righteous, but they are not able to sustain or save themselves by their own merits. So Joseph, although his master was blessed for his sake, could not himself escape from him through his own merits and gain his freedom. He was even thrown afterwards into the dungeon, as we read: "His feet they hurt with fetters, his person was laid in iron" (Ps. CV, 18), until God liberated him and made him ruler over all the land of Egypt, and thus it is written: "and he forsaketh not his saints; [I89b] they are preserved for ever." God shields the righteous in this world and in the world to come, as it is written: "So shall all those that take refuge in thee rejoice, they shall ever shout for joy, and thou shalt shelter them; let them also that love thy name exult in thee" (Ibid. V, 12).'

***

AND IT CAME TO PASS AFTER THESE THINGS THAT HIS MASTER'S WIFE, ETC. R. Hiya discussed the text: Bless the Lord, ye angels of his, ye mighty in strength, that fulfil his word, hearkening unto the voice of his word (Ibid. CIII, 20). 'How greatly', he said, 'it behoves a man to guard against sin and to pursue the straight path, so that the evil prompter, his daily assailant, should not lead him astray. And since he assails man perpetually, it behoves man to muster all his force against him and to entrench himself in the place of strength; for as the evil prompter is mighty, it behoves man to be mightier still; and those sons of men who do excel him in might are called "mighty in strength", dealing with him in his own coin, and they are "the angels of the Lord" who come from the side of Geburah (Might) to deal mightily with him. Such a one was Joseph, who was called "righteous" and guarded in purity the sign of the holy covenant which was imprinted upon him.' R. Eleazar said: 'The word "after" here alludes to the evil prompter, being the name of a grade, as we have laid down. Joseph exposed himself to his accusations because he used to pay great attention to his personal appearance. That gave the evil prompter an opening to say: "Behold, his father observes mourning for him, and he decks himself out and curls his hair!" Thus the bear was let loose, as it were, and set upon him.'

***

AND IT CAME TO PASS AFTER THESE THINGS. When God surveys the world with intent to judge it, and finds there wicked people, then, in the words of the Scripture, "He shuts up the heaven, so that there shall be no rain, and the ground shall not yield her fruit" (Deut. XI, 17); through the sins of the sons of men heaven and earth are shut up and do not perform their functions. Now those who do not guard in purity the holy covenant cause a division between Israel and their Father in heaven. So Scripture says: "and ye turn aside and serve other gods, and worship them .... He shut up the heaven, so that there shall be no rain" (Ibid. XI, 16-17); for to be false to the holy covenant is equivalent to bowing to another god. But when the holy covenant is properly guarded by mankind, God showers blessings from above on to this world, as we read: "A bounteous rain didst thou pour down, O God; thine inheritance and the weary one, thou confirmest it" (Ps. LXVIII, 10). "A bounteous (n'daboth, lit. favour) rain" is a rain of favour, at a time when the Community of Israel find favour in the eyes of the Almighty and He desires to shower upon them blessings; then "Thine inheritance", namely Israel, who are the inheritance of the Holy One, as it says: "Jacob the lot of his inheritance" (Deut. XXXII, 9), and "the weary one", to wit, the Community of Israel, which is weary in a strange land, which is parched, panting for drink, "with that rain of favour thou confirmest it". Hence heaven and earth with all their hosts are upheld by that covenant, as Scripture says: "If not for my covenant, day and night, the ordinances of heaven and earth were as though I had not made them" (Jer. XXXIII, 25). Hence it is first written: "And Joseph was of beautiful form, and fair to look upon", and immediately afterwards, "that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph".

***

AND IT CAME TO PASS, AS SHE SPOKE TO JOSEPH DAY BY DAY. R. Eleazar discoursed on the verse: To keep thee from the evil woman, etc. (Prov. VI, 24). 'Happy', he said, 'are the righteous who know the ways of the Almighty and follow them, since they devote themselves to the Torah day and night; for whoso devotes himself to the Torah day and night inherits two worlds, the upper world and the world [190a] below. He inherits this world, even if he does not study the Torah for its own sake; and he inherits the other world, if he does study the Torah for its own sake. So it is written: "Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand are riches and honour" (Ibid. III, 16); that is, whoever walks to the right of the Torah, for him she is length of life in the world to come, where he will be invested with the glory of the Torah, which is the truest glory and the crown of crowns; for the crown of the Torah is in the other world; but "in her left hand are riches and honour", to wit, in this world; even for him who does not study it for its own sake. When R. Hiya came from Babylonia to the Land of Israel he studied the Torah until his face shone like the sun, and when the students of the Torah stood up before him he would say: "This one studies the Torah for its own sake, this one does not study the Torah for its own sake." For the former he would pray that they should always retain that frame of mind and so merit the world to come; for the latter he prayed that their heart should be changed so that they should study the Torah for its own sake and merit life everlasting. One day he saw a certain disciple whose face was unnaturally pale. He said to himself: "This young man is undoubtedly assailed by sinful imaginations." So he took him in hand and interested him in the words of the Torah until he returned to a better frame of mind. From that day the disciple resolved not to give way any more to evil thoughts, but to study the Torah for its own sake.' R. Jose said: 'When a man perceives that evil thoughts are assailing him, he should study the Torah, and that will drive them away.' R. Eleazar said: 'When the evil side comes to seduce a man, he should draw it towards the Torah, and then it will quit him. For so we have learnt, that when the evil side stands up before the Almighty to accuse the world for its evil deeds, God in pity furnishes the sons of men with a device whereby to escape the accuser, so that he may not have power over them or their actions. This device consists in the study of the Torah, which will save them from the evil power, as it is written: "For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching (Torah) is light, and reproofs of instruction are the way of life." The passage continues: "To keep thee from the evil woman, from the smoothness of the alien tongue" (Ibid. VI, 23-24), that is, from the side of uncleanness, or the other side, that is perpetually accusing the sons of men before the Almighty; and whilst it seduces. men here below from the right path, it is busy on high pointing out the sins of men and indicting them, so that they may be given over into its power, in the same way as it acted towards Job. Especially at those periods when God sits in judgement on the world does it rise up to indict men and enumerate their sins. God, however, had compassion on Israel and provided them with a device for escaping from it, to wit, the trumpet (shofar) which is to be blown on New Year's Day, and the scapegoat which they give it on the Day of Atonement in order that it may leave them alone and occupy itself with its own portion. Of this it is written: "Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on the nether world" (Ibid. V, 5); but of the true faith it says: "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace" (Ibid. III, 17). This refers to the ways and paths of the Torah. We have here the two opposing ways, the one of well-being, the other of death. Happy is the portion of Israel who cleave faithfully to the Holy One, who has afforded them a means of escape from all the other sides, because they are a holy people, His inheritance and portion. Happy are they in this world and in the world to come. When this evil side comes down and reams through the world and sees the works of mankind and how they all act perversely in the world, it ascends and accuses them, and were it not that the Almighty has compassion on the works of His hands, none would be left in the world on account of the accuser. Thus we read: "And it came to pass, as she spoke to Joseph day by day", [190b] that is to say, the accuser ascends every day and brings ever so many evil reports and calumnies in order to destroy mankind; "but he hearkened not unto her", because He has compassion on the world; "to be by her", that is, to permit the accuser to exercise dominion over the world, which he cannot do without obtaining authorization. The virtuous man so guards his ways as to keep afar from him the evil prompter, as it is written: "And it came to pass, as she spake to him day by day, that he hearkened not unto her"; for the unclean spirit, which is the same as the evil prompter, tries day by day to seduce man to lie by her, that is, to draw him into Gehinnom, to be with her there; for observe that once a man yields to that side he is more and more drawn towards it and defiles himself with it in this world and in the other world. This unclean side is ugly and filthy, and by it is punished he who goes astray from the Torah, and all those sinners that have no faith in the Holy One, blessed be He. It is further written: "And it came to pass on a certain day", to wit, the day in which the evil prompter is at large in the world, and comes to lead men astray; the day when the sons of men "come into the house to do their work", that is, to repent of their sins or study the Torah and carry out the commandments of the Torah, since man's proper work in this world is nothing else than the service of the Holy One. Hence it behoves him to be strong as a lion on every side, so that the other side should not get the mastery over him and should be powerless to seduce him. But when the evil prompter sees that there is no man to stand up against him and wage war with him, then "She caught him by the garment, saying: Lie with me", for when the evil prompter gains an ascendancy over a man, he decks him out with fine raiment and curls his hair and says "Lie with me", that is, attach yourself unto me. He that is righteous stands up to him and offers him battle; so Scripture says: "And he left his garment in her hand, and fled and got him out" -- the righteous thus by an effort shakes him off and flees from him so that he should not have command over him any more.' R. Isaac said: 'The righteous will one day see the evil prompter in the form of a huge mountain and they will marvel at themselves, saying, How were we ever able to overthrow that mighty mountain? Contrariwise, to the wicked the evil prompter will appear like a thread as thin as a hair, and they will say in astonishment, How was it that we could not master so frail a thread as this? The righteous will weep for joy and the wicked will weep from anguish. And the Holy One will sweep the evil one off the earth, He will slaughter him before their eyes, so that his power will for ever be gone from the world. The righteous will behold and rejoice, as it says: "Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name, the upright shall dwell in thy presence" (Ps. CXL, 14).' [191a]

***

AND IT CAME TO PASS AFTER THESE THINGS, THAT THE BUTLER OF THE KING OF EGYPT AND HIS BAKER OFFENDED, ETC. R. Judah opened his discourse with the text: Will a lion roar in the forest when he hath no prey? Will a young lion give forth his voice out of his den, if he has taken nothing? (Amos III, 4). 'It well boots a man', he said, 'to be assiduous in the worship of the Holy One, blessed be He, for then his fear and dread is upon every creature. For when God created the world, He made each creature in its proper likeness; and finally He created man in the supernal image and gave him dominion over all through this image. For as long as a man is alive the other creatures look up to him and, perceiving the supernal image, shake and tremble before him, as we read: "And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, etc." (Gen. IX, 2). But this is only when they are aware of that image and soul in him (though R. Eleazar said that the image of the righteous does not change even when their soul (neshamah) is no longer in them). But when a man does not walk in the ways of the Torah, that divine image is altered, and the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky obtain power over him; because the divine image in him, the very form which makes him a man, is changed. Observe how God altered the order of nature in order to execute His purpose. For the form of Daniel was not altered even when he was thrown into the lions' den, and thus he was saved.' Said R. Hizkiah: 'If so, why is it said, "My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, and they have not hurt me" (Dan. VI, 23)?' R. Judah said in reply: 'The divine image of the righteous man is itself the very angel that shuts the mouths of the beasts and puts them in shackles so that they do not hurt him; hence Daniel's words: "My God hath sent his angel", to wit, the one who bears the imprint of all the images of the world, and he firmly fixed my image on me, thereby shutting the lions' mouths, and making them powerless over me. Hence man has to look well to his ways and paths, so as not to sin before his Master, and to preserve the image of Adam. Ezekiel guarded his mouth against forbidden food, as it is written: "Neither came there abhorred flesh into my mouth" (Ez. IV, 14), and for this he was dignified with the title "son of Adam". Of Daniel also it is written: "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king's food, nor with the wine which he drank" (Dan. I, 8), in virtue of which he conserved the image of Adam; for all beings of the world fear the image of Adam, which is ruler and king over all.' Said R. Jose: 'For this reason it behoves man to be on his guard against sin and to turn neither to the right nor to the left; and however careful he may be, he should still search himself daily for any sin. When a man rises in the morning two witnesses join him and follow him the whole day. When he opens his eyes, they say to him: "Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee" (Prov. IV, 25); when he gets up and makes ready to walk, they say to him: "Make plain the paths of thy feet, etc." (lbid. 26). A man, therefore, should be on his guard against his sins the whole day and every day, and when night comes it behoves him to look back and examine all the actions he has done that day, so that he may repent himself. So David said: "And my sin is ever before me" (Ps. LI, 5), as an exhortation to repentance. Now, when Israel were in the Holy Land sin never clung to them, because the offerings which they offered up [191b] made atonement for them. But now that they are exiled from the Land and the offerings have ceased, it is the Torah and good deeds that make atonement for them.' R. Isaac remarked: 'So whosoever devotes himself to the study of the Torah and to the performance of good deeds enables the Community of Israel to raise its head in the midst of exile. Happy is the portion of those who study diligently the Torah day and night.'

Observe now how God regulates events in such a way as to raise aloft the head of the righteous; for in order that Joseph, who was found righteous before Him, might be exalted, He stirred his master to anger against his servants, as we read: "The butler of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord the king of Egypt" -- all that Joseph the righteous might be exalted. And notice that it was through a dream that Joseph was brought low by his brethren·, and it was through a dream that he was raised over his brethren and over the whole world. AND THEY DREAMED A DREAM, BOTH OF THEM, EACH MAN HIS DREAM, IN ONE NIGHT, EACH MAN ACCORDING TO THE INTERPRETATION OP HIS DREAM, ETC. Seeing that we have laid down that dreams follow their interpretation, it may be asked what made Joseph interpret the dream of one in a good sense and of the other in a bad sense. The explanation is that these dreams concerned Joseph himself, and, because he penetrated to the root of the matter, he gave to each dream the fitting interpretation so that everything should fall in its place. AND JOSEPH SAID UNTO THEM: Do NOT INTERPRETATIONS BELONG TO GOD? TELL IT ME, I PRAY YOU. Joseph used this formula because it is necessary before interpreting a dream to entrust the interpretation to the Holy One, since there, on high, is the shaping of all events, and His is the interpretation. Observe that the grade of dream is a low grade, the sixth from that of prophecy, and that its interpretation determines its effect, being itself embodied in speech and utterance. This is what is meant by Joseph's question: "Do not interpretations belong to God (Elohim)?" Assuredly to Elohim. Now observe the verse: "And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, etc." R. Eleazar opened a discourse on the text: And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha: Ask what I shall do for thee, before I am taken from thee. And Elisha said: I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. 'The language used by Elijah here', he said, 'is not a little surprising, for surely it is only God who can grant whatever is asked of Him. And further, how could Elisha, knowing this, demand "Let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me"? But, indeed, this was surely not beyond the power of one who had a grip of heaven and earth and of the whole world, for assuredly God would perform the will of Elijah, as of all righteous men, as we read: "He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him" (Ps. CXLV, 19), and all the more when it was a question of Elijah bequeathing the holy spirit he possessed to Elisha, who was his own servant, and concerning whom God had said to him: "and Elisha, the son of Shaphat of Abel-mehulah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room" (I Kings XIX, 16); hence Elisha was his heir by right. We may ask, however, how he could beg for a double portion of his spirit, which was more than Elijah possessed. What Elisha really asked, however, was not a double portion of the spirit, but the power to perform a double achievement with that same spirit. Elijah thereupon said: "Thou hast asked a hard thing; nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so" (II Kings II, 10). By the words, "if thou see me" he meant: If thou canst penetrate to the true inwardness of the spirit that I bequeath thee at the moment I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee. For such essence of the spirit as he should discern while looking at Elijah he would fully grasp. [192a] And so, whoever contemplates that which he learns from his master whilst at the same time seeing that wisdom reflected in his face, can thereby obtain an additional meed of spirit. So Joseph, in whatever he was about to do, used to contemplate in the spirit of wisdom the image of his father, and so he prospered and an augmentation of spirit came upon him with a higher illumination. When that sinner said to him: "behold, a vine was before me", Joseph was alarmed, not knowing what import it might have; but when he continued, "and in the vine were three branches", straightway Joseph's spirit was astir and received an influx of energy and illumination, because at the same time he gazed at the image of his father, and knew the meaning of the words he heard. We read, then, AND IN THE VINE WERE THREE BRANCHES. Said Joseph: 'This is assuredly tidings of unalloyed joy', since that vine was symbolic of the Community of Israel, and the three. branches were the three higher grades ramifying from that vine, to wit, Priests, Levites, and Israelites: and AS IT WAS BUDDING ITS BLOSSOMS SHOT FORTH, that is, by virtue of those three orders the whole Community of Israel ascended and received the blessing from the Most High King: AND THE CLUSTERS THEREOF BROUGHT FORTH RIPE GRAPES, an allusion to the wine that is kept in store in its grapes since the six days of creation. [4] So far the dream was of good tidings for Joseph; the rest of the dream concerned solely the dreamer himself; for, indeed, some dreams there are which in part concern the dreamer himself and in part other people. In this connection we have been taught: To see white grapes in a dream is of good omen to the dreamer, but not black, the reason being that these two are emblems of two certain grades, one of the side of good, the other of the contrary side. Grapes in general are an allusion to faith, and hence they diverge within that category, one kind to the side of good and the other to the side of evil, the one requiring to be exorcised by prayer, the other betokening providential care. Observe that the wife of Adam pressed for him grapes and thereby brought death to him, and to the whole world. Noah, again, came upon those grapes and he was not duly circumspect, so it is written of him: "And he drank of the wine, and he was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent" (Gen. IX, 21). Of those same grapes the sons of Aaron drank, and they offered up sacrifices whilst under the influence of wine, as a result of which they died. Hence it is written: "their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter" (Deut. XXXII, 32), referring to those grapes that caused all those ills; but the chief of the butlers saw in his dream the good grapes in that vineyard whence there ascends a pleasant and agreeable odour among the perfect grades in manner due. Thus Joseph, who penetrated to the root of the whole matter, interpreted the dream aright; for inasmuch as the dream contained good tidings for himself he interpreted the whole of it in a favourable sense, and so it was fulfilled. The text continues:

***

WHEN THE CHIEF BAKER SAW THAT THE INTERPRETATION WAS GOOD, HE SAID UNTO JOSEPH: ALSO I SAW IN MY DREAM, AND BEHOLD, THREE BASKETS OF WHITE BREAD WERE ON MY HEAD. Cursed be the wicked whose actions are all fraught with evil intent, their utterances with malice. As soon as the chief baker opened his mouth with the word af (= anger) Joseph was affrighted, perceiving, as he did, that his words would be of evil import; and, indeed, in the words "and behold, three baskets of white bread upon my head" Joseph at once read the evil tidings of the destruction of the Temple and of the exile of Israel. For notice the rest of the dream, namely, "and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head": this was a reference to the other nations who would assemble against Israel, slay them, devastate their dwellings, and scatter them into the four comers of the world. Joseph noted all this and knew that that dream concerned Israel at the time when they should sin before the King; he thus straightway interpreted it in an evil sense, which interpretation was fulfilled in the dreamer. Observe, then, that the two dreams belonged to two different grades: the one saw [192b] the upper grade ascending and the moon in its fullness of light; the other saw the moon in darkness and under the domination of the evil serpent. Joseph therefore looked closely at that dream and interpreted it as of evil presage.

R. Judah opened a discourse on the verse: Create me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Ps. LI, 12). 'The term "a clean heart",' he said, 'finds its parallel in the passage: "Give thy servant therefore an understanding heart" (I Kings III, 9), and also in: "But he that is of merry heart hath a continual feast" (Prov. XV, 15). This is assuredly the clean heart which David asked for. "And renew a steadfast spirit within me" indicates the spirit spoken of in the passage: "and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters", this being, as has been pointed out, the spirit of the Messiah; the same is alluded to in the promise: "And a new spirit will I put within you" (Ez. XXXVI, 26). David thus prayed for that steadfast spirit, since on the sinister side there is the unclean spirit called the spirit of perverseness that leads people astray, that unclean spirit referred to in the statement: "The Lord hath mingled within her a spirit of perverseness" (Is. XIX, 14). David thus prayed: "and renew within me a spirit of steadfastness". The term "renew" also alludes to the renewal of the moon, a period which contains the assurance that David, King of Israel, is alive and in being.'

R. Eleazar and R. Jose were once walking on the road. Said R. Jose to R. Eleazar: 'We read: "And there came forth the spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said: I will entice him: And the Lord said unto him: Wherewith? And he said: I will go forth and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets. And He said: Thou shalt entice him, and shalt prevail also; go forth and do so" (I Kings XXII, 21-22). According to tradition that was the spirit of Naboth the Jezreelite. Can, then, a soul which has once ascended to the upper world return to this world? Further, the words "I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in his mouth" are very astonishing. And again, why was Ahab punished on account of Naboth, seeing that Samuel had so laid down the law to Israel, when he said to them: "And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them" (I Sam. VIII, 14)? According to this, if Ahab took Naboth's vineyard, he was within his rights, and all the more so, seeing that he offered him in exchange another vineyard or its equivalent in gold, which he refused.' R. Eleazar said in reply: 'It is a proper question you ask. Observe that the traditional identification of that spirit with the spirit of Naboth does indeed raise a difficulty. For how could the spirit of Naboth stand up before the Almighty to ask permission to lie? If Naboth was a righteous man, how could he ask permission to lie in the other world, the world of truth, seeing that even in this world it is the part of a righteous man to keep afar from falsehood? How much more so, then, in the upper world! On the other hand, if Naboth was not a righteous man, how could he have stood in the presence of the Almighty? But the truth is that Naboth was not righteous enough to stand in the presence of the Almighty, and that spirit was another one which has power in the world and continually ascends and stands before God, the same that leads people astray by means of falsehood. Now he who is accustomed to lying will always resort to lying, and hence he said: "I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit, etc.", to which the Holy One replied: "... go forth, and do so", as much as to say: "go hence and be off from here". This is in harmony with the Scriptural text: "He that speaketh falsehood shall not be established before mine eyes" (Ps. CI, 7). And in regard to the other difficulty -- if Ahab took Naboth's vineyard, why did he kill him? It was just because he killed Naboth without cause, before expropriating his vineyard, that Ahab was punished. So it is written: "Hast thou killed, and also taken possession?" (I Kings XXI, 19). Great, indeed, is the number of those whom that lying spirit leads astray by means of falsehood, dominating the world from many sides and through many activities. Hence King David supplicated that he might be guarded against him and removed from defilement, saying: "Create me a clean heart, O God; and renew a steadfast spirit within me", a steadfast spirit being the opposite of that other spirit. In sum, there are two grades, one sacred and the other defiled.'

R. Eleazar then opened a discourse on the text: And 1M Lord uttereth his voice before his army, for his camp is very great, for he is mighty that executeth his word (Joel II, 11). He said: 'The expression" and the Lord" (V-YHVH), as we have laid down, everywhere indicates the Lord in conjunction with His Court of Justice; the "voice" here is the same as "the voice of words" (Deut. IV, 12) heard by the Israelites, where the term "words" again is identical with" the same term in the verse "I am not a man of words" (Exod. IV, 10), the man of words being the man of God (Deut. XXXIII, I); "before his army", to wit, Israel; "for his camp is very great", as it says: "Is there any number of his armies ?" (Job XXV, 3), [193a] inasmuch as the Holy One has ever so many chieftains and emissaries who are at hand to bring accusations against Israel, and therefore God goes before Israel in order to guard them, and so that their accusers should not prevail against them: "for he is mighty that executeth his word", to wit, the righteous man, who devotes himself to the study of the holy Torah day and night. Alternatively, the term "mighty" here is an epithet of the accuser, who appears frequently before the Almighty, and who is indeed mighty, strong as iron, hard as flint; and it is he that "executeth his word", as he first obtains authorization from above and then takes away man's soul here below. We read further: "For great is the day of the Lord and very terrible; and who can abide it ?" (Joel II, 11), inasmuch as He is ruler over all, most high and most mighty, all being subject to His dominion. Happy are the righteous in whom the Holy One constantly finds delight, so as to vouchsafe to them the world to come and to make them participators in the joy with which the righteous will one day exult in the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written: "So shall all those who take refuge in thee rejoice, they shall ever shout for joy, and thou shalt shelter them, and that those that love thy name will exult in thee" (Ps. V, 12). Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen and Amen!'

_______________

Notes:

1. A kind of angel.

2. i.e. to recite the Shema.

3. i.e. the affair of Bilhah.

4. For the banqueting of the righteous in the world to come.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 28795
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:06 am

Part 1 of 2

MIQEZ

Gen. XLI, 1-XLIV,17

AND IT CAME TO PASS AT THE END. R. Hiya expounded the word "end" from the text: He setteth an end for darkness, and he searcheth out to the furthest bound; a stone of thick darkness and the shadow of death (Job XXVIII, 3). 'The end here mentioned is', he said, 'an allusion to the "end of the left", which, after roaming to and fro in the world, finally ascends and presents itself before the Holy One, blessed be He, to bring accusations against mankind. He "searcheth out to the furthest bound" (takhlith = destruction), inasmuch as all his works are never for good, but always for destruction and for the utter annihilation of the world. He is "a stone of stumbling" on which the wicked come to grief and which is found in "a land of thick darkness, as darkness itself" (Ibid. X, 22). For there is a "land of the living" on high, which is the Land of Israel, and a land below called "land of darkness". The darkness and the shadow of death here mentioned are identical with the end that emerges from the side of darkness, which is also the "dross of gold". As we have laid down, it behoves the sons of men to take due thought of divine worship and to labour in the Torah day and night, so as to know how to serve the Holy One, blessed be He. The Torah herself summons man daily, saying: "Whoso is thoughtless, let him turn in hither, etc." (Prov. IX, 4-6). And whoever labours in the Torah and cleaves unto her is privileged to take hold of the tree of life, as it is written: "She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her" (Ibid. III, 18). And whoso takes hold upon the tree of life in this world will also keep hold on it in the world to come, since the grades assigned to souls in the next world correspond to their state on departing from this world. Now the tree of life ramifies into various degrees, all differing from one another, although forming a unity, in the shape of branches, leaves, bark, stock, and roots. All the faithful ones of Israel lay hold upon the tree of life, some grasping the stock, some the branches, some the leaves, and others, again, the roots. But those who exert themselves in the study of the Torah [193b] grasp the very trunk of the tree, and so lay hold upon all; and so we affirm.'

***

AND IT CAME TO PASS AT THE END. What does the term "end" signify? Said R. Simeon: 'It signifies the region wherein there is no remembering, which is identical with the end of the left. Why did it emerge at that moment? Because Joseph said: "But have me in thy remembrance when it shall be well with thee" (Gen. XL, 14). It was hardly becoming for Joseph the righteous to beg to be remembered by the chief butler; but he was led to do so by his dream, which he thought betokened remembrance. In this, however, he was mistaken, since all depended on God, and therefore the region of forgetfulness placed itself before him. Hence the Scripture, after saying, "Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph" (Ibid. 23), adds the words "but forgot him", alluding to the region of forgetfulness, which is identical with the end of the side of darkness.'

***

AT THE END OF TWO FULL YEARS. The two years were symbolic of the two grades, the grade of forgetfulness and the grade of remembrance to which it gave place, THAT PHARAOH DREAMED. AND, BEHOLD, HE STOOD BY THE RIVER. This dream was one that concerned Joseph himself, since the idea of river is closely connected with Joseph the righteous; and according to the lore of dreams a river seen in a dream is a presage of peace, for so it is written: "Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river" (Is. LXVI,12).'

R. Hiya opened a discourse on the text: The king by justice establisheth the land; but he that exacteth gifts overthroweth it (Prov. XXIX, 4). 'When God', he said, 'created the upper world, He so constituted it as to send forth celestial radiations in all directions, and He created the upper heaven and the upper earth in such a way that they should provide for the sustenance of the lower denizens. The "king" here is an allusion to the Holy One, blessed be He, while "justice" signifies Jacob, who forms the basis of the world, since the basis of the world is justice, which establishes the earth with all requirements and provides for its sustenance. Alternatively, the "king" is the Holy One, blessed be He, while "justice" refers to Joseph, who established the land, as it is written: "And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph to buy com"; and because God chose for Himself Jacob, He caused Joseph to be ruler over the land.' R. Jose said: 'The "king" signifies Joseph, while the words "by justice establisheth the land" allude to Jacob, seeing that before Jacob arrived in Egypt the existence of the people was jeopardized by the famine; but as soon as Jacob set foot in Egypt the famine ceased through his merits and the world was made secure. Alternatively, the king who by justice establisheth the land is exemplified in King David, of whom it is written: "and David executed justice and righteousness unto all his people" (II Sam. VIII, 15); for David thereby upheld the world, which was preserved after him for the sake of his merits. "But he that exacteth gifts overthroweth it": this is exemplified in Rehoboam. For God for the sake of the righteous withholds punishment even when it has been decreed against the world; hence, during David's lifetime the land was upheld and after his death it was preserved for his sake, as we read: "and I will defend the city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake" (II Kings XX, 6). Similarly, during the lifetime of Jacob, as well as that of Joseph, no punishment was enforced against the world. Again, "he that exacteth gifts overthroweth it" is exemplified in Pharaoh, inasmuch as by hardening his heart before God he brought ruin on the land of Egypt, whereas before the land was preserved through Joseph in conjunction with Pharaoh's dreams. [194a]

***

AND, BEHOLD, THERE CAME UP OUT OF THE RIVER SEVEN KINE, WELL FAVOURED AND FAT-FLESHED; AND THEY FED IN THE REED GRASS. The river is mentioned because from it all the lower grades receive their blessings. For the (supernal) stream which flows perpetually waters and feeds the whole, and Joseph was himself the river by means of which the whole of Egypt was blessed. By that (upper) river seven grades are irrigated and blessed, they being "well favoured and fatfleshed", AND THEY FED IN THE REED GRASS (ahu). The word ahu (meadow, or brotherhood) signifies that there is no separation between them. The number seven has everywhere a similar symbolism, e.g. the seven maidens and the seven chamberlains mentioned in the Book of Esther (Esther 11.9; I, 10). R. Isaac said that the seven good kine symbolize the superior grades, and the seven lean and ill-favoured kine other and lower grades; the former of the side of holiness, and the latter of the side of defilement. SEVEN EARS OF CORN. R. Judah said: 'The first seven ears were good, as they came from the right side, of which it is written "that it was good" (Gen. I. 4). and the second seven were ill, as being lower than the others; the first ones proceeded from the side of purity. and the others from the side of impurity. They all symbolized two series of grades corresponding with each other; and Pharaoh saw them all in his dream. R. Jesse remarked: 'Can it indeed be that the wicked Pharaoh was shown all these ?' R. Judah in reply said: 'He only saw their counterparts rising in a corresponding series: he saw this through the medium of the lower grades. For, as we have learnt, what a man is shown in a dream corresponds to his own character. and his soul ascends just so far as to obtain for him the information suitable for his grade. Pharaoh thus saw as far as he was permitted to see and no more.'

***

AND IT CAME TO PASS AT THE END. R. Hizkiah quoted here the verse: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Eccl. III, 1). 'For every thing that the Almighty has made in the lower world: he said. 'He has appointed a fixed term and limit. He has appointed a time for light and for darkness. He has fixed a term for the light of the other nations who are now the rulers of the world; and a term for the darkness of the exile of Israel who are now subjected to their rule. And so there is a term for every purpose in the lower world.' According to another explanation, the word 'eth (time) is the name of an angelic power charged to see that everything takes place at its appointed time.

***

AND IT CAME TO PASS IN THE MORNING THAT HIS SPIRIT WAS TROUBLED; AND HE SENT AND CALLED FOR ALL THE MAGICIANS OF EGYPT, AND ALL THE WISE MEN THEREOF. The word vatipo'em (and was troubled, akin to the word pa'am, time) indicates that the spirit kept on appearing to Pharaoh and leaving him, not staying with him long enough at anyone time to enlighten him. The same was the case at first with Samson, of whom it is written: "And the spirit of the Lord began to move him in time beats (l'pha'amo)" (Jud. XIII, 25). In connection with Nebuchadnezzar it is written vatithpa'em (and was troubled) (Dan. II, 1), to indicate that the coming and going of the spirit was twice as rapid. [194b] AND HE SENT AND CALLED FOR ALL THE MAGICIANS OF EGYPT AND ALL THE WISE MEN THEREOF, to wit, the bird-diviners. They all tried to make out the dream, but it baffled them. R. Isaac said: 'Although it has been affirmed that no man is shown anything in a dream save what falls within his own grade, it is different with kings, who are permitted to see more deeply than other men; for inasmuch as a king's grade is higher than that of other men, he is permitted to see that which falls within a higher grade than that of other men. So Scripture says: WHAT GOD IS ABOUT TO DO HE HATH SHOWN UNTO PHARAOH, whereas to other men God does not reveal what He is about to do, except to the prophets, saints, or sages of the generation. Now observe the words: ME HE RESTORED UNTO MINE OFFICE, AND HIM HE HANGED. From this we learn that a dream is determined by its interpretation, since the pronoun "he" can refer only to Joseph, indicating that it was Joseph who restored the one to his office, and hanged the other, through the medium of his interpretation.

***

THEN PHARAOH SENT AND CALLED JOSEPH, AND THEY BROUGHT HIM QUICKLY (vayerizuhu) OUT OF THE DUNGEON. R. Abba discoursed on the verse: The Lard taketh pleasure (roze) in them that fear him, in those that wait for his mercy (Ps. CXLVII, 11). 'God indeed takes pleasure in the righteous', he said, 'because they promote peace in the upper world and in the lower world, and cause the bride to join her husband; and therefore God takes pleasure in those that fear Him and do His will. Those that wait for His mercy are they who study the Torah in the night time and thereby become associates of the Shekinah, and thus when the morning comes they wait for His mercy; for, as has been affirmed, whoso studies the Torah in the night time is looked upon graciously in the day time. So Scripture says: "By day the Lord will command His lovingkindness (or grace)" -- for what reason? Because "in the night his song is with me" (Ps. XLII, 9). Hence: "The Lord takes pleasure in those that fear him", or, as we might translate more accurately, "appeases those that fear Him", like one friend with another. Similarly, of Joseph here it is written, vayerizuhu (and they brought him hastily), which admits of the rendering, "and they appeased him", when he was sad and woebegone, giving him words of good cheer that gladdened his heart and dissipated the gloom of the dungeon. Observe that just as his troubles commenced through his having been thrown into the pit, so it was through the pit that he finally was exalted.' R. Simeon said: 'Before that incident (of Potiphar's wife), Joseph was not called righteous (zadiq); it was only after he stood the test of guarding the purity of the covenant that he was called righteous, and that the grade of the holy covenant was crowned through him, and having been with him in the first pit rose with him now; and thus it is written: "and they brought him quickly out of the pit" -- he was raised from the pit and crowned by the well of living waters.'

***

AND PHARAOH SENT AND (he) CALLED JOSEPH. Instead of "and called" we should have expected "to call for". The implied subject is, therefore, God, as in the verse "And he called to Moses" (Lev. I, 1), and this harmonizes with the words of the Psalmist: "Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him" (Ps. CV, 19). AND HE CHANGED HIS RAIMENT, out of respect for royalty, as explained elsewhere. R. Eleazar quoted here the text: Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham (Ibid. 23). 'God,' he said, 'while accomplishing his decrees, yet directs events in such a manner as to soften their severity. For we have learned that but for the love which God bore to our ancestors, Jacob would have been brought down into Egypt in iron chains; but out of His love for the patriarchs He caused his son Joseph to be made ruler of the world; and so all the tribes went down into Egypt like people of distinction, and Jacob entered it like a king. In the verse: "Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham", we may take Israel to be an allusion to the Holy One, blessed be He, for it was for the sake of Jacob, who sojourned in the land of Ham, and his sons that the Shekinah came into Egypt. God thus arranged that [195a] Joseph should first be brought into Egypt, as through his merit the covenant was confirmed with him, and made him ruler over all the land. In this connection it is written: "The King sent and loosed him; the ruler of peoples, and set him free" (Ibid. 20). According to R. Simeon, the word "ruler" in this sentence is the object of the verb "sent", and refers to the ruler of peoples, to wit, the angel-redeemer, who is the ruler of the earthly beings, and whom God sent to set Joseph free.

***

GOD WILL GIVE PHARAOH AN ANSWER OF PEACE. This was a first greeting and an overture of peace. R. Abba said: 'The wicked Pharaoh said, "I know not the Lord" (Ex. V, 2), notwithstanding that he was the wisest of all the magicians; he knew, however, the name "God" (Elohim), seeing that he himself said: "Can we find such a man as this, a man in whom the spirit of God (Elohim) is?" But Moses came to him, not in the name of God (Elohim), but in the name of the Lord (Jehovah), a name altogether beyond his apprehension.' R. Abba quoted in this connection: Who is like the Lord our God, that is enthroned on high, that looketh down low upon heaven and upon the earth (Ps. CXIII, 5-6). 'God', he said, 'is "enthroned on high", that is, He raises Himself high above His Throne of Glory and does not reveal Himself to the lower world at those times when no righteous men are to be found in the world. Contrariwise, He "looketh down low" when righteous men are found in the world, as then He descends in His grade so as to meet the lower beings and to take the world under His providential care. But when there are no righteous men in the world, He ascends aloft and hides His face from men, and deserts them, inasmuch as the righteous are the foundation and the mainstay of the world. Hence God did not reveal His Divine Name save to Israel alone, who are His portion and lot and heritage; and the rest of the world He apportioned to celestial chieftains, as we read: "When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance .... For the portion of the Lord is his people, Jacob the lot of his inheritance" (Deut. XXXII, 8-9).'

As R. Hiya and R. Jose were one day walking together, the latter said: 'I often puzzle over the language of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, which I find exceedingly obscure; for instance, the words All things would wear a man out to tell; man cannot utter it, the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing (Eccl. I, 8). Why mention all these three organs? Having said that all things are more than mouth can utter, why add that "eye cannot see nor ear hear sufficiently"? The reason is, I presume, because eyes and ears function involuntarily; whereas the mouth is under a man's control, and so Koheleth teaches us that all three together cannot exhaust the universe.' Said R. Hiya: 'That is so. Man's mouth cannot utter, nor his eyes see, nor his ear hear the entirety of things; and yet "there is nothing new under the sun" (Ibid. I, 9). And observe that not even the disembodied spirits which the Holy One created under the sun are able to give utterance to all the things that are in the world, nor can their eye [195b] see nor their ear hear all. Hence Solomon, who knew everything, spoke thus. Now, observe that all the doings of the world are controlled by vast numbers of spirits, but the people of the world know not and regard not what it is that upholds them. Even Solomon, the wisest of men, could not apprehend them.' He further discoursed on the verse: He hath made everything beautiful in its time; also he hath set the world in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done, etc. (Ibid. III, 11). 'How happy', he said, 'are those who labour in the Torah and thus learn to see with the eye of wisdom! Whatever God has formed in the world has its own controlling grade which directs it either for good or for evil. There are grades of the right and grades of the left. If a man goes to the right, whatever act he performs then becomes a directing grade on that side which helps him onward and procures him other helpers. But if he goes to the left, then whatever act he commits becomes a directing force on that side, and brings indictments against him, whilst leading him further into that side. Hence, whenever a man performs a good and proper act the chieftain of the right hand affords him help, and this is indicated in the expression "good in its time", that is, the act and its time become intimately bound up together; also "He hath set the world in their heart", that is, the whole world and all its works depend only on the will of man. Happy are those righteous who by their good deeds draw benefits upon themselves and upon the world, and who know how to attach themselves to the grade called "time of peace", and who in virtue of their righteousness in the lower world influence the grade called Kol (everything) to shine in its time ('eth). Woe to the sinners who know not the time-grade of any act and are not circumspect to perform their deeds in such a way as to benefit the world, and so that each deed of theirs should fall under the proper grade. Everything is thus dependent on man's free will, as it is written: "so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end"; and inasmuch as it depends on a man's will whether his deeds are attached to the proper grade or to the improper one, the text continues: "I know that there is no good in them but to rejoice, and to perform good actions so long as they live" (Ibid. III, 12). That is to say, if a man's actions are not good, he has to rejoice at all their consequences and to give thanks for them to the Holy One and to do good actions as long as he lives; for since his own act brought evil upon him through the grade presiding over it, he has to rejoice at the punishment and to give thanks for it, seeing that he brought it on himself, like a bird blindly falling into the snare. So Scripture says: "For man also knoweth not his time; as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, even so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them" (Ibid. IX, 12). The expression "his time" ('eth) refers to the ministering angel called "time", who presides over each act a man performs, and is referred to in the statement "he hath made everything beautiful in its time". Hence they are "as the birds that are caught in the snare". Happy, then, are those who exert themselves in the study of the Torah and are intimate with the ways and paths of the Torah of the Most High King so as to follow the true way.'

Observe that a man ought never to begin his speech with an ill-omened utterance, as he does not know who will take it up, and he may come to grief over it. The righteous thus always begin their discourse with words of peace. So Joseph prefaced his address to Pharaoh with the words: "God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace." R. Judah said: 'It has been taught that the Holy One, blessed be He, is solicitous for the welfare of a king, as we read: "and he gave them a charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh, King of Egypt" (Ex. VI, 13).' [196a] R. Hiya said: 'Pharaoh wished to put Joseph to the test, and so changed the tenour of his dreams. But Joseph, knowing, as he did, the grades, saw clearly each object of the dream, and said, "thus and thus didst thou see", point by point. Hence it is written:

***

AND PHARAOH SAID UNTO JOSEPH: FORASMUCH AS GOD HATH SHOWN THEE ALL THIS, THERE IS NONE SO DISCREET AND WISE AS THOU. As if to say: "You seem to have been there at the time I dreamt my dream and to have seen the dream together with its interpretation." Said R. Isaac: 'If that be so, it would signify that Joseph told Pharaoh both his dream and its interpretation, as did Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar.' Said R. Hiya: 'Not so. Joseph gathered from Pharaoh's statement that he was speaking of certain grades, and was able to put him right on certain points, knowing the correct order of the grades. Whereas Daniel gathered nothing from Nebuchadnezzar's statement and told him outright both his dream and its interpretation. It is thus written: "Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel by a vision of the night" (Dan. II, 19), to wit, by Gabriel. There are six visions (corresponding to the six mentions of the word "vision" in Ezek. XLIII, 3). The vision of a dream is a reflection of a higher vision, and this again of a still higher, the whole forming a series called "visions of the night", through which all dreams are interpreted. Hence "he revealed the secret to Daniel in a vision of the night", that is to say, one of those grades revealed to him the dream and its interpretation. But Joseph divined the higher grades out of the words of Pharaoh. Hence Pharaoh gave him command over the whole land of Egypt, and in this way God restored to him what was his due. Joseph's mouth kept back from sinful kissing; correspondingly we read, "and according to the word of thy mouth shall my people be ruled"; Joseph's hand kept itself away from sinful touch, hence "Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand"; Joseph's neck kept itself far from sinful embrace, so we read, "and he put a gold chain about his neck"; his body kept away from sin, hence "and he arrayed him in vestures of linen"; the foot did not ride in sin, so we read, "and he made him ride in the second chariot which he had"; and in virtue of the thought which Joseph kept pure he was called "discreet and wise of heart". So that all he received was his own due. It is then written:

***

AND JOSEPH WENT OUT FROM THE PRESENCE OF PHARAOH, AND WENT THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND OF EGYPT. R. Hizkiah said that he went through the land of Egypt to have his rule proclaimed, and also to collect the corn of the various districts. R. Eleazar said that he collected the corn to prevent it from rotting. R. Simeon said: 'God is ever moulding events so as to fulfil His promise. When God created the world He first provided all necessities and then brought man into the world, so that he found his food ready for him. So, too, with the promise made by God to Abraham in the words: "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs ... and afterwards shall they come out with great substance" (Gen. XV, 13-14). When Joseph came into Egypt he did not find there great substance, so God arranged to bring a famine on the world, with the result that all people brought their silver and gold into Egypt, so that the whole land of Egypt was filled with silver and gold; then, when great substance was amassed there, He brought Jacob into Egypt. For this is the way of the Almighty, to provide the cure before inflicting the wound. Thus here He first prepared great substance and then [196b] brought Israel into exile. Observe that it was in virtue of being a righteous man that Joseph became the cause of Israel acquiring riches of silver and gold (Ps. CV, 37). All this came to Israel by the hand of the righteous, and all was for the purpose of making them worthy of the world to come.' R. Simeon then took for his text the verse: Enjoy life with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy 'Vanity, etc. (Eccl. IX, 9). 'This verse', he said, 'has been thus esoterically explained. "Enjoy life" is an allusion to the life of the world to come, for happy is the man who is privileged to gain that life in its fulness; "with the wife whom thou lovest" is a reference to the Community of Israel, of whom it is written: "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love" (Jer. XXXI, 3). When so? At the time when the Right side takes hold of her, as is implied in the concluding words: "Therefore with affection (hesed) have I drawn thee" (Ibid.); "all the days of thy vanity", inasmuch as she is bound up with life, with the world of the living, as opposed to this world, which is not the world of the living, since its denizens are "under the sun", where the lights of that (upper) sun do not reach -- those lights which have departed from the world since the day when the Temple was destroyed, as is hinted in the verse: "The sun shall be darkened in his going forth" (Is. XIII, 10). "For that is thy portion in life": this alludes to the association of the sun with the moon, as it behoves us to bring the moon, as it were, into the sun and the sun into the moon so that there should be no separation between them, this being the portion of man by which he may enter the world to come. Then the passage continues: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy strength; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." This verse strikes one at first sight as surprising: is man indeed free to do "whatsoever his hand findeth to do"? But we must note the qualification in the phrase "do by thy strength", i.e. through the instrumentality of the higher soul of man (neshamah), which forms his strength, so as to gain through her this world and the world to come. Alternatively, "by thy strength" alludes to the wife mentioned above, she being a source of strength both for this world and the world to come. It thus behoves man to possess himself of that power in this world so as to be fortified by it in the next world; inasmuch as once a man departs this world he can do no more, and it is useless for him to say, "Henceforward I am going to perform good acts", for assuredly, "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest". If a man has not acquired merit in this world he will not acquire it any more in the other world, according to the dictum, "He who has not laid up provision for the journey from this world will have nothing to eat in the other world." There are, moreover, certain good deeds the fruits of which a man enjoys in this world whilst the principal remains for his enjoyment in the world to come. Observe that Joseph gained this world and the world to come in virtue of his determination to join himself to a God-fearing wife, as expressed in his words: "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ?" (Gen. XXXIX, 9). For this he rose to be a ruler in this world and gathered money for Israel, as we read, "Joseph gathered all the money that was found in the land of Egypt" (Ibid. XLVII, 14), and this was in the order of things, since the ever-flowing celestial river gathers within itself all things and is the repository of all riches. Everything thus happened according to plan: assuredly Joseph was predestined to rule over the kingdom.

***

AND HE MADE HIM RIDE IN THE SECOND CHARIOT. God· has made a second chariot for the Righteous One, by whom the world is nourished. For God has an upper chariot and a nether chariot. The nether chariot is the second chariot, and Joseph, having attained to the name of "righteous", was qualified to ride on the second chariot, like his prototype in the supernal world. AND THEY CRIED BEFORE HIM: ABRECH. The term "abrech" signifies the spot where the sun is joined to the moon, towards which all bow down. We read further: AND HE SET HIM OVERALL, namely, over all the world, so that all the peoples acknowledged his rule. [197a] Observe that God has made the earthly kingdom after the pattern of the heavenly kingdom, and whatever is done on earth has been preceded by its prototype in heaven. Now the dominion of the celestial kingdom was not perfect until it united itself to the patriarchs, since the Holy One intended that the supernal kingdom should be illumined from the grades symbolized by the patriarchs. And so when Joseph first went down into Egypt he drew after him the Shekinah, as the Shekinah only follows the Righteous One. Joseph was thus first drawn into Egypt, where he gathered up all the wealth of the world, and then came the Shekinah in company with all the tribes. And it was in virtue of having kept the purity of the covenant that Joseph was privileged to be crowned in his right place and merited the upper kingdom and the lower kingdom. Hence, to preserve the purity of the covenant is like observing the whole of the holy Torah, since the covenant is on a par with the whole Torah.

***

NOW JACOB SAW THAT THERE WAS CORN IN EGYPT. R. Hiya discoursed on the verse: The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel. Thus saith the Lord who stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him (Zech. XII, 1). 'Certain points', he said, 'are to be noted in this verse. First, as to the import of the term "burden", here and in other passages. This term, wherever it introduces a judgement pronounced against other nations, has a favourable import, inasmuch as the prosperity of the idolatrous nations is, if one may say so, a burden for the Holy One. Hence a judgement pronounced against the idolaters removes, as it were, from Him the burden. Contrariwise, wherever the term "burden" introduces a decree of judgement against Israel, it has an unfavourable import, as it implies a burden put on the Holy One, blessed be He. Now, having said "who stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth", what need is there for the text to add "and formeth the spirit of man", a fact which we know already? But in truth this points to a certain grade which forms the reservoir of all spirits and souls.' R. Simeon said: 'The words "within him" seem superfluous. But in truth this expression has a twofold recondite meaning. It bears allusion to that ever-flowing celestial river whence all the souls emerge and fly forth. For this purpose it gathers them in one central place or grade, and that grade "formeth the spirit of man within itself", like a woman who has conceived and forms the child within her womb from the moment of conception until it is fully developed; so the spirit remains within this grade until a man is created in the world to whom He assigns it. Alternatively, God "formeth the spirit of man" within him, to wit, in his body, literally. For when a man is created and God assigns him his soul, and he emerges into the light of day, the spirit within him finds no body in which to expand, and remains cramped in one corner, as it were; but with the growth and expansion of the body the spirit also grows and expands; and in response to its growing need it continues to receive from on high, in ever greater abundance, vigour and energy, which in its turn it infuses into the body. Further, the statement that the Holy One "formeth the spirit of man within him" indicates that the spirit needs sustenance in the same way as the body, and that as the body goes on developing, so is the spirit granted increased strength and energy.' Observe, that when Joseph was lost, Jacob was deprived of that increase of spirit through the departure of the Shekinah from him. But afterwards "the spirit of Jacob their father revived" (Gen. XLV, 27), [197b] that is, it regained its former increase and growth.

R. Jose and R. Hizkiah were once travelling from Cappadocia to Lydda, and with them was a certain Judean driving an ass laden with clothes. Said R. Jose to R. Hizkiah: 'Repeat one of those excellent expositions of Scripture which you are wont to deliver daily before the Sacred Lamp.' R. Hizkiah then began to hold forth on the verse: Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace (Prov. III, 17). 'These ways', he said, 'are the ways and paths of the Torah, as whoever walks in them is invested by the Holy One, blessed be He, with the grace of the Divine Presence as his constant accompaniment, and whoever follows her paths enjoys peace on high and below, peace in this world and in the world to come.' Said the Judean: 'A deeper meaning lies in this verse, like a coin in the comer of a box.' 'How do you know this?' they asked him. He said: 'I have heard the recondite explanation of this verse from my father.' He then continued to discourse thus. 'This verse contains a twofold idea, one suggested by the terms "ways" and "pleasantness", and the other by the terms "paths" and "peace". The "ways" are those mentioned in the passage, "who maketh a way in the sea" (Is. XLIII, 16). For the term "way" everywhere in Scripture denotes an open road, accessible to all. So the words "her ways are ways of pleasantness" allude to those ways which our patriarchs opened up and traversed on the great ocean, and which ramify in all directions to all quarters of the world; and by "pleasantness" is meant that pleasantness which issues from the other world, the source whence radiate all lamps in all directions. That felicity, that light which our patriarchs absorbed and inherited, is thus called "pleasantness". Or we can say that the world to come itself is called "pleasantness", because when it is awakened there is a stirring of all joy, all felicity, all illumination, and all freedom. Hence tradition tells us that when the Sabbath comes in, the sinners in Gehinnom have a respite and are granted ease and rest; and that at the termination of the Sabbath we have to call down the supernal joy upon us so that we may be delivered from the punishment that the sinners undergo from that moment onward; and this we do by reciting the verse: "And let the pleasantness of the Lord our God be upon us, etc." (Ps. XC, 17), an allusion to the supernal pleasantness which brings universal freedom. Now, as for the "paths", they denote the paths that proceed from on high and are all gathered into the single covenant which is named "peace", meaning the peace of the household, and which carries those paths into the great ocean when it is agitated, and so gives it peace.' Observe that Joseph embodied the covenant of peace, and in consequence became ruler over the land of Egypt. Jacob, being deserted by the Shekinah, knew nothing of this, but nevertheless he had hopes [1] from the purchase of corn in Egypt, and he also foresaw calamity upon calamity [2] in his sons going down into Egypt.

***

AND JACOB SAID TO HIS SONS: WHY SHOULD YE MAKE YOURSELVES CONSPICUOUS? meaning, in effect, "you should not pretend to be other than hungry and short of food" . R. Hizkiah said: 'Assuredly there is here contained a recondite lesson, to wit, that when trouble is abroad in the world, and the world is in distress, a mall should not show himself in the open road, in order that he may not be seized on account of his sins; and so it is affirmed. Alternatively we may explain that [198a] for that very purpose God sent a famine into the world, namely that Jacob and his sons should go down into Egypt; and so Jacob saw the people bringing corn from Egypt, and thus knew that there was com there. Or we may explain thus. When Isaac died, Jacob and Esau came to divide his inheritance. Esau renounced the inheritance of the (holy) land and all that it involved, and Jacob took up the whole, including the galuth. Hence he saw the calamity that awaited him in Egypt, where he and his sons would endure exile, and hence he said to his sons: "Why do you show yourselves off in presence of the supernal judgement? That is the way to bring the accuser down upon you."'

***

AND HE SAID: BEHOLD, I HAVE HEARD THAT THERE IS CORN IN EGYPT. GET YOU DOWN (redu) THITHER. It has already been pointed out that the numerical value of the term redu (RDV =210) amounts to the number of years Israel was in Egypt.

***

AND JOSEPH WAS THE GOVERNOR OVER THE LAND, ETC. R. Jesse discoursed on the text: And now shall my head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me; and I will offer in his tabernacle sacrifices with trumpet-sound (Ps. XXVII, 6). 'When God', he said, 'takes pleasure in a man, he raises him high above all his fellow-men and makes him chief over them all, so that all his enemies are subdued before him. King David was hated by his brothers and rejected by them, but God raised him high above all men. He had to flee from his father-in-law, but God made him ruler over the latter's whole kingdom and all knelt and prostrated themselves to him. Joseph, again, was rejected by his brothers, but afterwards they all knelt down and prostrated themselves before him, as we read: "And Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down to him with their faces to the earth." Alternatively we may suppose this verse to be spoken by the Community of Israel, whose head will one day be raised above Esau and all his lieutenants. Then Israel will "offer in his tabernacle sacrifices with trumpet-sound", or, rather, "sacrifices of breaking" (teru'ah) to wit, the broken spirit which is mentioned in the passage: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit" (Ibid. LI, 19). so as to cause severity to be removed from the world; "then I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord", without ceasing. for evermore. According to another interpretation, it is the good prompter who says, "and now shall my head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me", to wit, above the evil prompter that surrounds man on every side and is his enemy throughout: "and I will offer in his tabernacle sacrifices with trumpet-sound", alluding to the study of the Torah. which has been given from the side of fire, as we read: "At his right hand was a fiery law unto them" (Deut. XXXIII, 2); for it is through the Torah that his head is lifted up and his enemies are broken before him, as it says: "Thou hast subdued unto me those that rose up against me" (Ps. XVIII, 40). According to another explanation it is King David who says, "And now shall my head be lifted up", namely, to be ranked among the patriarchs, as he had first to join the patriarchs before he became exalted and elevated. "Above mine enemies round about me": to wit, those on the left side, the accusers who sought to injure him; by his overcoming them the sun formed a junction with the moon, and a unity was effected. Observe now the passage: AND JOSEPH WAS THE GOVERNOR OVER THE LAND, which, in its deeper meaning, implies that the sun rules over the moon, gives her light and sustains her. We read further: HE IT WAS THAT SOLD TO ALL PEOPLE OF THE LAND. This alludes to the ever-flowing river whence all derive their nourishment and whence the souls of all men emerge. Hence all bow down toward that region, as nothing happens in the world that does not depend on mazzal, as explained elsewhere.

R. Eleazar here discoursed on the text: Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil the iniquity of my heels that compasseth me about? (Ps. XLIX, 6). 'There are', he said, 'three classes who fear( and know not what they fear, as we have laid down elsewhere. One kind is the man who has committed' sins without realizing that they were sins, and he is therefore afraid of "days of evil", to wit, days that are under the jurisdiction of the [198b] evil one, that is, the evil prompter, who on certain days is given authorization to lead astray all those who pollute their ways. For whoever enters the path of defilement is carried further along it. Those days, then, are called "days of evil", being assigned for the punishment of little sins which a man treads under his heels, [3] as it were. Whoever, then, is habituated to those sins which men tread underfoot, as it were, is unaware of them and is constantly in fear. King David, however, was ever on his guard against these sins, and whenever he set out for battle he would closely examine himself to see that he was free from such sins, and he therefore was not afraid to go to war. Observe now the difference in the behaviour of four kings in going to war. David said: "Let me pursue mine enemies, and overtake them; neither let me turn back till they are consumed" (Ps. XVIII, 38). He dared to make this request because he guarded himself against those sins, and thus allowed no opening to his enemies to prevail against him. He therefore prayed only that he might pursue them continually, and had no fear that they might pursue him, or that his sins might cause him to fall into their hands. Asa was in greater fear, for though he also minutely examined himself for any sins, yet it was not with such care as David. His request, therefore, was that he might merely pursue his enemies, not overtake them himself, and that God should slay them for him. And so it came about, as we read: "So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. And Asa and the people that were with him, etc." (II Chr. XIV, 11-12). Whereas in regard to David it is written: "And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day" (I Sam. xxx, 17). Jehoshaphat, again, in praying for help, said: "I am not able to pursue nor to slay them; but let me chant thy praises and do thou slay them." This was because he did not examine himself even to the same degree as Asa. And God did what he requested, as it is written: "And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set liers-in-wait against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, that were come against Judah; and they were smitten" (II Chr. XX, 22). Finally, Hezekiah felt himself able neither to sing praises, nor to pursue, nor to engage in war, the reason being that he feared the above-mentioned sins. It is thus written: "And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred fourscore and five thousand; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses" (II Kings XIX,35). That is, Hezekiah sat in his house, and lay in his bed, whilst God slew them. Now, if those righteous men were in so much fear on account of these sins, how much greater should be the fear of other men? Hence it behoves a man to be on his guard against those sins and to examine himself closely regarding them so as not to allow those "days of evil" which are without mercy to obtain dominion over him.'

***

AND JOSEPH KNEW HIS BRETHREN. When they fell into his hands he had compassion on them, since he was completely virtuous. BUT THEY KNEW HIM NOT: these were Simeon and Levi, who came from the side of severity, and hence had no pity on him, inasmuch as all those imbued with severity take no pity on men when they fall into their hands.

Hence David said, "Wherefore should I fear ?" indicating that naturally he ought to fear [4] [199a] those "days of evil", as previously stated. David continues: "The iniquity of my heels that compasseth me about." The word "heels" here, as in the passage, "and his hand had hold on Esau's heel" (Gen. XXV, 26) indicates those evil powers (forming as it were the heel of the Body) that are forever on the look out for the sins which a man constantly treads under his heels. These little sins are like "cords of vanity" (Is. V, 18), scarcely discernible, but which in time become as strong as "cart ropes", and thus cause a man to lose this world and the world to come. Happy are the righteous who know how to guard themselves against their sins and continually examine their deeds so that no accuser may rise up against them either in this world or in the world to come, the Torah being their guide and preparing the way before them. Of these it is written: "Her ways are ways of graciousness, and all her paths are peace."

***
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 28795
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:06 am

Part 2 of 2

AND JOSEPH REMEMBERED THE DREAMS WHICH HE DREAMED OF THEM, ETC. R. Hiya quoted here the verse: Rejoice not when thy enemy falleth, and let not thy heart be glad when he stumbleth (Prov. XXIV, 17). 'God', he said, 'created man in order that he should make himself worthy of His glory and always serve Him and be occupied in the Torah day and night. For God takes pleasure in the Torah and gave it to Adam and taught it to him, so that he should know its ways. So it is written: "Then did he see it, and declare it; he established it, yea, and searched it out. And unto Adam he said: Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding" (Job XXVIII, 27-28). Adam, however, though he inquired into it, did not keep it, and transgressed the command of his Master and was punished for his sin. Similarly, all those who transgress one precept of the Torah are held to account for it. King Solomon, the wisest of men, transgressed one precept of the Torah, and for that he was dethroned and his son's inheritance was divided. What, then, must be the consequences of the transgression of the whole Torah! Now, since Joseph knew the Torah, having learnt it from his father, why when his brethren fell into his hands did he put them through all those ordeals? Far be it from us to think that it was out of a spirit of revenge that he heaped on them accusations: his only purpose was to make them bring with them his brother Benjamin, for whom his heart was longing; and, moreover, he did not let them come to grief, as we read later: "Then Joseph commanded them to fill their vessels with corn, etc."' R. Judah said: 'After God created the moon He had her constantly before His eyes (Deut. XI, 12). In regard to this it is also written: "Then did he see it, and declare it (vayesaprah); he established it, yea, and searched it out" (Job XXVIII, 27). "He saw it" means that through His providence the sun is reflected in it. The term vayesaprah we may translate, "he made it like sapphire". "He established it" so that it should fall properly into twelve divisions, [5] and be further distributed among seventy kingdoms, [6] supported by seventy [7] celestial pillars, [8] that it might be perfectly illumined. "And searched it out": to guard it with an eternal and never-ceasing vigilance. And then He gave a warning to man, as we read further: "And unto man he said: Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding" (Ibid. XXVIII, 28), since wisdom is the means to attain to the fear of the Holy One, and understanding is the power by which to separate and keep away the refuse, and thus attain to a knowledge of and an insight into the glory of the Most High King.'

R. Jose once rose in the night to study the Torah, when there happened to be a certain Judean with him in the house. R. Jose began to expound the verse: Treasures of wickedness profit nothing; but righteousness delivereth from death (Prov. X, 2). 'There is no profit', he said, 'to those men who do not occupy themselves with the study of the Torah and follow only worldly affairs in order to amass treasures of wickedness, of which it is written: "And those riches perish by evil adventure" (Eccl. V, 2). But "righteousness delivereth from death" those who occupy themselves with the study of the Torah and know its ways; for the Torah is called the tree of life and is also called righteousness, as we read: "And it shall be righteousness unto us" (Deut. VI, 25). The word zedaqah (righteousness) here may also have its literal meaning of "charity". [199b] The two meanings, Torah and charity, are however, in essence identical.' The Judean remarked: 'It bears also the meaning of peace.' R. Jose replied: 'Assuredly it is so.' The Judean then joined him and began to discourse on the text: He that tilleth the ground shall have plenty of bread; but he that followeth after vain things shall have poverty enough (Prov. XXVIII, 19). 'This verse', he said, 'presents a difficulty. For can it be supposed that King Solomon, the wisest man in the world, would have said that it behoves a man to devote himself to the tilling of the ground and to neglect the life everlasting? But there is an inward meaning therein.' The Judean then cited the verse: "And he put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and keep it" (Gen. II, 15). 'This sentence, as has been explained,' he said, 'contains an allusion to the sacrifices, the object of the verb "to dress" being the higher King, and of "to keep" the lower King, the one embracing the upper world, the other the lower world, the one esoterically referred to in "remember", the other in "observe". [9] Hence the "ground" here is an allusion to the Garden of Eden, which it behoves man to dress and to till so as to cause to flow upon it blessings from on high, whereby he himself will receive blessings along with it. Observe that the priest who blesses the people is blessed himself, as it says: "and I will bless them" [10] (Num. VI, 27). Hence, "He that tilleth the ground shall have plenty of bread", to wit, heavenly food, but "he that followeth after vain things", namely, he that cleaves to the other side, shall have poverty enough, assuredly.' R. Jose remarked: 'Happy art thou to be able to give such an exposition.' The Judean then followed with a discourse on the verse: A faithful man shall abound with blessings (Prov. XXVIII, 20). 'This speaks of the man', he said, 'who puts his trust in God, like R. Jesse the elder, who, although he had food for the day, would not prepare his meal before he had prayed for his daily bread to the Holy King; and he used to say, "We shall not eat before we obtain permission from the King." "But he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be unpunished" (Ibid.), because he refuses to devote himself to the Torah, which constitutes the life of this world and the life of the world to come. It being now the time to occupy ourselves with the study of the Torah, let us do so,' he said. He then began to discourse on the subject of dreams. 'We read', he said: 'AND JOSEPH REMEMBERED THE DREAMS WHICH HE DREAMED OF THEM. That is, when he saw them bowing to him, he called to mind his dream about their sheaves bowing to his sheaf. Further, one ought to remember a good dream, because, although there is no forgetfulness before the Holy One, yet if the man forgets the dream he also will be forgotten. A dream that is not remembered might as well not have been dreamt, and therefore a dream forgotten and gone from mind is never fulfilled. Joseph therefore kept his dream fresh in his memory, never forgetting it, so that it should come true, and he was constantly waiting for its fulfilment. AND HE SAID TO THEM: YE ARE SPIES. Although he remembered his dream, he did not mention it to them, but only said, "Ye are spies."' R. Jose discoursed on the verse: For a dream cometh through a multitude of business,. and a fool's voice through a multitude of words (Eccl. V, 2). 'It has already been explained', he said, 'that dreams are under the charge of a hierarchy of custodians, so that some dreams are altogether true and others are a mixture of true and false. But to the truly righteous no false messages are ever communicated, but all they are told is true. Observe that of Daniel it is written: "Then to Daniel, in a vision of the night, [200a] the secret was revealed" (Dan. II, 19), also: "Daniel had a dream and visions of his head upon his bed; then he wrote the dream" (Ibid. VII, 1). Had the dream contained falsehood, it could not have been written down in the Scriptures. When the souls of the truly righteous ascend, nothing comes in contact with them save holy beings that communicate to them words of truth, words that can be relied upon never to prove false. There is, it is true, a tradition that King David never saw a happy dream, from which we should conclude that he was shown false things in his dreams. The truth is, however, that David was all his life engaged in making war, in shedding blood, and hence all his dreams were of misfortune, of destruction and ruin, of blood and shedding of blood, and not of peace. You may possibly also wonder how it is that a good man is often shown a bad dream. The explanation is that what he sees in such dreams is the evil that is to cleave to those who transgress the commands of the Torah and the punishments which will be meted out to them in the other world; and the good man sees all these in his dreams in order that the fear of his Master may constantly be upon him. So it says: "and God hath made it, that man should fear before him" (Eccl. III, 14), which has been explained to refer to bad dreams. This, then, is the reason why the righteous man is made to see a bad dream. We have learned that when a man has had a dream, he should unburden himself of it before men who are his friends so that they should express to him their good wishes and give utterance to words of good omen. Desire, which is Thought, is the beginning of all things, and Utterance is the completion; and so a deep symbolism will in this way have been effected, and all will have been made good. Thus a man's friends should affirm the good interpretation, and so all will be well. We see, then, that God communicates to each man by means of dreams of the degree and shade of colour conformable to the degree and shade of colour of the man himself.' The Judean remarked: 'Assuredly, it is only the good man that is made to see true dreams. When a man is in bed asleep, his soul leaves him and roams to and fro towards the upper world and enters as far as she can, and numerous bands of pure spirits who are traversing the world meet her. If she be worthy, she ascends on high and sees notable things, but if not, she falls into the hands of the other side, who communicate to her lying things, or things which are about to happen shortly. And when the man awakes, the soul communicates to him what she saw. The unjust man is thus shown a happy dream, but an untruthful one, so as to make him go further astray from the path of truth. For since he turned aside from the right path they defile him the more, as whoever sets out to purify himself is purified from above, and whoever sets out to defile himself is similarly defiled from above. This has already been expounded elsewhere.'

Thus R. Jose and the Judean discoursed until the morning dawned. R. Jose then remarked: 'Assuredly the reason that Joseph's name is not mentioned in connection with the standards of the tribes (v. Num. III) is that he exalted himself over his brethren.' Said the Judean: 'I have heard it said that Joseph derived from the world of the Male, whereas his brethren derived from the world of the Female; and it is for this reason that he was not included with them. It is thus written: WE ARE ALL ONE MAN'S SONS, where the word for "we" (anahnu) is written defectively nahnu, without the letter aleph. The aleph is the image of the male principle as against the beth, which is the image of the female principle; and since the brothers did not exhibit the symbolism of the covenant, the aleph was removed from them and they were left, as it were, of the female aspect in the company of the Shekinah. Afterwards, however, they said: "We are upright men" (Gen. XLII, 31), using the full form anahnu (we), containing the aleph, and without knowing it they were right, since Joseph was present with them. This view is further supported by the passage: "And they said: We thy servants are twelve brethren" (Ibid. 13): here clearly Joseph was included within the number twelve, and hence they similarly made use of the full form for "we are", namely anahnu, not the defective form nahnu.' R. Jose remarked: 'All these expositions we have just now given must be pleasing to God, since the Shekinah did not depart [200b] from here in accordance with the verse: "Then they that fear the Lord spoke one with another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name" (Malachi, III, 16).'

***

AND HE PUT THEM ALTOGETHER INTO WARD THREE DAYS. Said R. Eleazar: 'Those three days correspond to the three days during which the men of Shechem were sick (Gen. XXXIV, 25). Observe that it is written here: AND JOSEPH SAID UNTO THEM THE THIRD DAY: THIS (zoth) DO AND LIVE, by which he showed them that he was not going to act towards them in the way they acted towards Shechem; for whereas they had first made the people of Shechem take upon them the sacred rite of the covenant, which is symbolized by the word zoth (this), and then had slain them to the last man, Joseph, on his part, said: "This (zoth) do and live"; why? "For I fear God", and am guarding the sacredness of the covenant. All this procedure was only for the sake of Benjamin. AND THEY SAID ONE TO ANOTHER: WE ARE VERILY GUILTY CONCERNING OUR BROTHER, ETC. "One to another" (lit. a man to his brother) refers to Simeon and Levi, the same reference being contained in the words: "And they said one to another (lit. a man to his brother): Behold, this dreamer cometh" (Ibid. XXXVII, 19). Which is "man" and which is "brother"? "Man" must refer to Simeon, as in the passage: "And, behold, a man of the children of Israel came" (Num. XXV, 6). Simeon repented of his action and wept and felt remorse and said: "We are verily guilty"; and it was through his repentance that his emblem became the ox, the same as that of Joseph, of whom it is written: "His firstling bullock, majesty is his" (Deut. XXXIII, 17). And it was for that reason that we read AND HE TOOK SIMEON FROM AMONG THEM, for Joseph wished to separate him from the influence of Levi, as when the two were together they might find matter of charge against him.

***

AND BOUND HIM BEFORE THEIR EYES. It has already been explained that only before their eyes did he have him bound, but after they departed he regaled him with food and drink. It must not be supposed that Joseph acted in the spirit of the verse, "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink, for thou wilt heap coals of fire upon his head" (Prov. XXV, 21). Joseph was too righteous a man for this. Far be it, then, from Joseph to have acted in that spirit. Indeed, he acted as a man to his brother, in true brotherly love without any other motive. And not only towards Simeon, but towards all his brethren he acted so, as it is written: THEN JOSEPH COMMANDED TO FILL THEIR VESSELS WITH CORN, AND TO GIVE THEM PROVISION FOR THE WAY; AND THUS IT WAS DONE UNTO THEM. All this he did in a spirit of brotherhood.'

R. Jose commenced a discourse on the verse: If they be peaceful and likewise many, and they will likewise be shorn, then he shall pass away; and though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more (Nahum I, 12). 'This verse', he said, 'has been expounded in the following manner. When a people live in peace, and harbour no quarrelsome persons in their midst, God has compassion on them, and rigorous justice is not invoked against them, even though they worship idols. This is in harmony with the verse, "Ephraim is joined in serving idols, let him alone" (Hos. IV, 17). [11] In the expression "and they will likewise be shorn", the word "likewise" continues the thought of the word "peace" above, by adding to it charity, which is peace; for whoever promotes charity promotes peace, both in the upper world and in the lower world. "Those who are shorn" means those who allow themselves to be shorn of their substance, devoting it to charity: Concerning such the verse says: "and he (or it) shall pass away", not, as we should have expected "they shall pass away", but "it shall pass away", namely, the wrathful judgement of heaven. The word "pass" is used in a similar connection in the verse "until indignation be overpast" (Is. XXVI, 20). The following is an alternative interpretation. "Thus saith the Lord: If they be perfect (shelemim)": this is an allusion to Israel, whom God favoured with the covenant which they were to guard constantly so as to be perfect on all sides, both on high and here below; for otherwise a man is defective in every respect. So it is written: "Walk before me, and be thou perfect" (Gen. XVII, 1), implying that Abram, before the sign of the covenant was confirmed in him, was defective. Hence: "if they be perfect they shall likewise be many", that is, if Israel observe this precept whereby they become perfect and do not remain in a state of incompleteness, they will in consequence increase [201a] and multiply, inasmuch as souls do not descend into the world save through the covenant. The verse continues: "and so if they be circumcised it shall pass away", the last part referring to the taint of the uncircumcised state that attached to them before. The following is, again, another interpretation of the verse. "Thus saith the Lord: if they be perfect and likewise many": this is an allusion to the sons of Jacob, inasmuch as so long as they were in the presence of Joseph they were perfect in that they stood by him who kept the purity of the covenant. But when "they became separated", having gone and left Joseph and Simeon behind, then "He was wrathful", as then judgement was invoked on their account. The term 'abar (lit. pass) similarly indicates anger in the verse: "For the Lord will be full of wrath (ve'abar, lit. will pass through) in smiting the Egyptians" (Ex. XII, 23). Observe that there is severe judgement and mild judgement, and when mild judgement sucks, as it were, from severe judgement, it becomes itself harsh and formidable. When judgement is invoked against Israel, it is mild judgement that is exercised, such as has not been hardened by severe judgement. But when judgement is invoked against the idolatrous nations, mild judgement becomes hardened by the severity of judgement on high and is rendered terrible. It is thus written: "And the Lord will be full of wrath in smiting the Egyptians" (Ibid.), where the term ve'abar (lit. and He shall pass) indicates that He becomes full of wrath and indignation and takes hold of chastisement. (Note that when ten assemble together in Synagogue and one of them slips out, God is wrathful with him.) According to another interpretation, the second part of the verse says: "and likewise they", that is, the evil deeds of man, "will be removed, and it shall pass over". What shall pass over? R. Simeon said: 'When the soul leaves this world it has to pass through many trials before it reaches its place. And, finally, there is the ever-flowing river of fire which all souls have to pass and to bathe in, and who is he that can face it and pass through it without fear? But the soul of the righteous passes without fear and stands in His holy place; and the man who has performed charity in this world, having given of his substance to charitable objects, of such a one it is written, "and he shall pass over", that is, he shall pass through that region without fear; and a herald will proclaim before that soul, "and though I have afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more" (Nahum I, 12). For, whoever is worthy to pass through that region is exempt from any further ordeal whatever.'

It may be asked, what need was there to record all these incidents concerning Joseph and his brethren? The Torah, however, is the embodiment of truth and all its ways are ways of holiness, there being no word in the Torah that does not contain sublime and holy recondite truths and examples for man to lay to heart and follow. R. Jose began in this connection a discourse on the verse: Say not thou: I will requite evil; wait for the Lord, and he will save thee (Prov. XX, 22). 'Observe', he said, 'that the Holy One made man for the purpose that he should lay fast hold of the Torah and walk in the way of truth, towards the right side, and not towards the side of the left. And since they ought to go to the right, it behoves the sons of men to abound in love for each other, and banish enmity from their midst, so as not to weaken the right side, which is the spot to which Israel cleave. It is for this reason that there exist a good prompter and an evil prompter; and it behoves Israel to make the good prompter master over the evil prompter by means of good deeds. But when a man strays to the left, the evil prompter thereby gets the mastery over the good prompter, and after having been disabled is restored to strength through the man's sins, for this burden becomes strong only through man's sins. Hence it behoves man to see that the evil prompter does not become reinforced through his sins, inasmuch as it is the good prompter to whom more power should be given and not the evil prompter. Hence Scripture teaches us: "Say not thou: I will make complete the evil one (ashalmah ra'); wait for the Lord, and he will save thee." According to another interpretation, the verse teaches us first not to repay evil for good, inasmuch as "whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house" (Prov. XVII, 13); and, moreover, man must abstain even from repaying evil for evil, but must "wait for the Lord and he will save thee". This teaching was exemplified in Joseph the righteous, who abstained from repaying evil to his brethren when they fell into his hands. He addressed to himself the words, "wait for the Lord, and he will save thee", for he [201b] feared the Holy One, blessed be He. He thus said to his brethren: THIS DO, AND LIVE.

***

R. Abba began a discourse on the verse: Counsel in the heart of a man is like deep water,. but a man of understanding will draw it out (Ibid. XX, 5). 'The first clause of this verse', he said, 'may be applied to the Holy One, who with deep counsel moulded events by the hand of Joseph so as to execute his decree; "but a man of understanding will draw it out" is exemplified in Joseph, who revealed those deep things which the Holy One decreed on the world. Again, "Counsel in the heart of a man is like deep water" is exemplified in Judah at the time when he approached Joseph on behalf of Benjamin, as explained elsewhere, whereas "a man of understanding will draw it out" was exemplified in Joseph.' R. Abba was one day sitting at the gate of Lydda when he saw a man come and seat himself on a ledge overhanging the ground. Being weary from travelling, he fell asleep. R. Abba saw a serpent glide up towards the man, but, before it reached him, a branch fell from a tree and killed it. The man then woke up, and catching sight of the serpent in front of him stood up; and no sooner had he done so than the ledge gave way, and crashed into the hollow beneath it. R. Abba then approached him and said: 'Tell me, what have you done that God should perform two miracles for you?' The man replied: 'Never did anyone do an injury to me but that I made peace with him and forgave him. Moreover, if I could not make peace with him, I did not retire to rest before I forgave him together with all those who vexed me; nor was I at any time concerned about the evil the man did me; nay more, from that day onward I exerted myself to show kindness to such a man.' R. Abba then wept and said: 'This man's deeds excel even those of Joseph; for Joseph showed forbearance towards his own brethren, upon whom it was natural for him to have compassion; but this man did more, and it was thus befitting that the Holy One should work for him one miracle upon another.' R. Abba then began a discourse on the verse: He that walketh uprightly walketh securely; but he that perverteth his ways shall be /mown (yivade'a) (Ibid. X, 9). '"He that walketh uprightly",' he said, 'signifies the man that follows the ways of the Torah, and such a one "walketh securely", the malignant forces of the world being able to do him no harm; but "he that perverteth his ways" and turns aside from the way of truth "shall be known", to wit, he will become a marked man to all the executors of judgement, by whom his image will never be forgotten until the time when they will take him to the appointed place of retribution. But "him who walks in the way of truth" God takes under His cover so that he should not become known to nor recognized by the executioners of judgement. Happy are those who walk in the way of truth, and thus go about securely in the world without fear either in this world or in the world to come.'

***

AND THE MEN WERE AFRAID, BECAUSE THEY WERE BROUGHT INTO JOSEPH'S HOUSE. R. Jose said: 'Woe to the men who know not nor reflect on the ways of the Torah. Woe to them when God will call them to account for their actions and will raise the body and the soul to pay the penalty for all their deeds committed before the soul was separated from the body. That will be the Day of Judgement, on which the books are open and the prosecutors standing by. At that time the serpent will be on the alert to bite the man, quivering in all his limbs to leap upon him. The soul will then become separated from the body and will depart and be carried off to it knows not where. Alas for that day, a day of wrath and indignation! Hence it behoves man to contend daily with his evil prompter and to picture to himself the day when he will stand before the King to be judged, when they will lower him into the ground to rot there, whilst the soul will become separated [202a] from him. We have been taught that it behoves man always to rouse the good prompter against the evil prompter; if the latter departs, well and good, but if not, the man should study the Torah, as there is nothing so well calculated to crush the evil prompter as the Torah; if he departs, well and good, but if not, let the man remind him of the day of death so as thereby to subdue him. This statement requires consideration. We know that the evil prompter and the angel of death are one and the same. How is it possible, then, that the angel of death should be cowed by the thought of the day of death, seeing that he himself is the slayer of the sons of men, and this is his joy, and in fact his whole purpose in leading men astray is to bring them to this? The truth, however, is that the purpose of bringing to mind the day of death is primarily to humble a man's heart, for the evil prompter dwells only in a place where pride and intoxication are rampant, but where he finds a broken spirit he leaves the man alone. Observe that the good prompter requires the joy of the Torah and the evil prompter the joy of wine and lewdness and arrogance. Hence a man should constantly be in fear of that great day, the Day of Judgement, the day of reckoning, when there will be none to defend him save his own good deeds which he performed in this world. If Joseph's brothers, who were all valiant men, were afraid when led by one youth into Joseph's house, how much greater will be man's fear when the Holy One, blessed be He, will cite him to judgement? Hence it behoves a man to strive his utmost in this world to fortify himself in the Almighty, and put his trust in Him; for then, although he may have sinned, if he repents with all sincerity, since his stronghold is in the Holy One, it will be as though he had not sinned. The brothers were afraid on account of their sin in having stolen Joseph, for had they not sinned they would not have had any cause to fear; for it is only a man's sins that break his courage and deprive him of strength, the reason being that the good prompter is at the same time unnerved, and left powerless to contend with the evil prompter. This is implied in the words: "What man is there that is fearful and faint-hearted ?" (Deut. XX, 8), on account, that is, of sins which he may have committed, these being the ruin of a stout heart.

For many generations God exacted payment for the sins of the tribes, since nothing is forgotten of Him, but He exacts requital from generation to generation, and the sentence remains in force till it is fully paid. This is exemplified in the case of Hezekiah. Hezekiah sinned in exposing the mysteries of the Holy One, blessed be He, to the view of idolatrous nations. [12] God therefore sent him, through Isaiah, a message, saying: "Behold, the days come, that all that is in thy house, and that which thy fathers laid up in store until this day shall be carried to Babylon, etc." (Is. XXXIX, 6). Through his sin in disclosing that which should have remained hidden, opportunity was given to the other side [13] to obtain dominion over it. For, as explained already, blessing rests on that which remains undisclosed, but as soon as it is disclosed the other region obtains scope to exercise dominion over it. It is written: "All that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness" (Lament. I, 8). This is explained as follows. When Merodach Baladan, King of Babylon, sent a present to Jerusalem (Is. XXXIX, 1) he sent a letter in which he first wrote, "Peace be unto Hezekiah King of Judah, and peace be unto the great God, and peace be unto Jerusalem." But no sooner did the epistle leave his hands than he bethought himself that he had not done right in putting the greeting of the servant before that of his Master. So he rose from his throne, advanced three paces, took back his epistle and wrote another one in its place, headed thus: "Peace be unto the great God, peace be unto Jerusalem, and peace be unto Hezekiah." Thus was Jerusalem honoured; [202b] but later, "all those that honoured her despised her", the reason being that "they have seen her nakedness", through the action of Hezekiah. Since, however, Hezekiah was very righteous, the punishment was postponed during his lifetime, but it was visited upon his descendants after him. Similarly, the guilt of the tribes did not bring its punishment until a later time, because the judgement from on high could not obtain power over them until an opportune time arrived. Hence, whoever is burdened by sins is constantly in fear, as it says: "and thou shalt fear night and day" (Deut. XXVIII, 66).

***

AND HE LIFTED UP HIS EYES, AND SAW BENJAMIN HIS BROTHER, HIS MOTHER'S SON, ETC. R. Hiya began a discourse on the verse: Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; but desire fulfilled is a tree of Life (Prov. XIII, 12). 'This', he said, 'bears out the traditional teaching to the effect that a man in praying to the Almighty should not observe too closely whether his prayer is answered or no, lest the numerous accusers who are about will come to scrutinize his deeds. The underlying meaning of the first part of the verse is that if a man thinks too much about whether his prayer will be answered, he provokes "sickness of heart", to wit, that spirit who is constantly shadowing him in his eagerness to indict him on high and below; but "desire fulfilled is a tree of life", that is, as tradition teaches us, whoever desires that the Holy One, blessed be He, should accept his prayer, should be diligent in the study of the Torah, which is the tree of life, and thus desire is "fulfilled", or, more literally, "cometh" (baah). By "desire" is meant the grade that presides over all prayers and takes them up into the presence of the Most High King. The word "cometh" (baah) is used here as in the phrase, "In the evening she cometh" (Esther 11, 14), and means that the desire comes up before the Most High King so as to fulfil the man's wish. Alternatively, "hope deferred maketh the heart sick" is an allusion to that other and wrong place in which man's prayer may be delayed whilst it passes from hand to hand and so fails to reach its destination, because it is passed from chieftain to chieftain and is brought down again into this world. "But desire fulfilled is a tree of life": this alludes to the hope that is not bandied about among those chieftains, but is granted to the man by God immediately; for if it is delayed among those chieftains it is exposed to the scrutiny and criticism of numerous accusers, who may prevent it from being granted. Not so is it with the hope that issues directly from the King's Court: this is granted to man at once, irrespective of his merits. Again, "hope deferred maketh the heart sick" is exemplified in Jacob, whose hope in regard to Joseph was deferred for a long time, while "desire fulfilled is a tree of life" is exemplified in the case of Benjamin, inasmuch as only a short time elapsed between Joseph's demand that he should be brought to him and his actual arrival, of which it is written, "And he lifted up his eyes, and saw Benjamin his brother, his mother's son." The words "his mother's son" in this passage indicate that Benjamin was the very image of his mother.' Said R. Jose: 'Since it has already been written, "And Joseph saw Benjamin with them", why does the Scripture repeat "And he lifted up his eyes, and saw Benjamin his brother"? The truth is that the second time he saw something new: he foresaw through the holy spirit that Benjamin would have a portion along with his brethren in the Holy Land, and, moreover, that it would be in the portions of Benjamin and Judah that the Shekinah would rest, in that the Temple would be in their portion. [14] Hence he saw that Benjamin would be more closely connected with them than he himself.'

***

AND JOSEPH MADE HASTE; FOR HIS HEART YEARNED TOWARD HIS BROTHER; AND HE SOUGHT WHERE TO WEEP; AND HE ENTERED INTO HIS CHAMBER AND WEPT THERE. In connection with this, R. Hizkiah quoted the verse: The burden concerning the valley of vision. What aileth thee now that thou art wholly gone up to the house tops? (Is. XXII, 1). 'This verse', he said, 'has been expounded as alluding to the day on which the Temple was destroyed with fire by the enemies, when all the ministering priests went up [203a] on the walls [15] of the Temple holding all its keys in their hands and exclaimed: "Until now we have been thy treasurers, now take back thine own." The Valley of Vision is an appellation of the Temple when the Shekinah dwelt in it, and when it was the source from which all drew their prophetic inspiration; for although the various prophets proclaimed their messages in various regions, they all drew their inspiration from the Temple. Hence the appellation "Valley of Vision". (The term hizayon (vision) has also been interpreted to signify "reflection of all the celestial hues".) The words "what aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the house tops?" allude to the Shekinah, who at the destruction of the Temple revisited all the spots where she had dwelt formerly and wept for her habitation and for Israel who had gone into exile and all those righteous ones and saints that perished there. God thereupon said to her: "What aileth thee, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?", the word "wholly" including together with the Shekinah all the legions and hosts that wept with her over the destruction of the Temple. The Shekinah replied with tears: "Thou that wast full of uproar, a tumultuous city, a joyous town, thy slain are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle, etc. Therefore said I: Look away from me, I will weep bitterly" (Is. XXII, 4), as much as to say, "Seeing that my children have gone into exile and the Sanctuary is burnt, what is there left for me that I should linger here ?" And the answer of the Holy One, blessed be He, as explained already elsewhere, was: "Refrain thy voice from weeping, etc." (Jer. XXXI, 16). Observe that from the time when the Temple was destroyed no day has passed without its curses. For as long as the Temple was in existence, Israel performed divine service, offering up burnt-offerings and other offerings, while the Shekinah in the Temple hovered over them like a mother hovering over her children, and so all faces were lit up, and all found blessing both above and here below, and no day passed without its blessings and its joys. Then Israel dwelt securely in their land and all the world was provisioned through them. But now that the Temple is destroyed and the Shekinah is in exile with Israel there is not a day but brings its curses, and the world is under a curse, and joylessness reigns on high and below. Nevertheless the Holy One, blessed be He, will in due time raise Israel from the dust and suffuse the world with joy. So Scripture says: "Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer, etc." (Is. LVI, 7). And just as they went into exile with tears, as it is written, "she weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks" (Lam. I, 2), so shall they return with tears, as it is written, "they shall come with weeping and with supplications will I lead them" (Jer. XXXI, 9).'

***

AS SOON AS THE MORNING WAS LIGHT, THE MEN WERE SENT AWAY, THEY AND THEIR ASSES. Said R. Eleazar: 'Having said that the men were sent away, why does Scripture add "they and their asses" ? The reason is to show that previously there had been no ground for their apprehension when they said, "and take us for bondmen, and our asses" (Gen. XLIII, 18). There is also an allusion to the verse: "And Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his ass, etc." (Ibid. XXII, 3). It was that morning of Abraham that shone for the brethren to support them by its merits, so that, strong in the merit of Abraham, they went away in peace and were delivered from judgement. For at that moment the rigour of judgement was impending over them and would have exacted punishment from them but for the merit of that morning of Abraham.' R. Judah derived the same lesson from the verse, "And as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, the morning without clouds; when through clear shining after rain, the tender grass springeth of the earth" (II Sam. XXXIII, 4). 'The "light of the morning" " he said, 'is an allusion to the light of that morning of Abraham; "when the sun riseth" is an allusion to the sun that rose upon Jacob (Gen. XXXII, 32); "the morning without clouds" means that that morning was not very cloudy, but was "clear shining after rain", to wit, the rain that comes from the side of Isaac, which is the rain that causes the tender grass to spring from the earth. Alternatively we may explain that the light that shone on that morning when Abraham rose up [203b] also shone when the sun rose upon Jacob, which was the morning without clouds, filled with light, and without any darkness; for as soon as morning dawns severity has no more any power, but is filled with light from the side of Abraham. The words "when through clear shining after rain" allude to Joseph the righteous one who brought rain upon the earth so as to cause grass and all other vegetation to spring forth.' Said R. Simeon: 'Observe this. As soon as night spreads its wings over the world, numerous angels of chastisement and accusers are let loose over the world and take command of it. But as soon as day breaks they all disappear, each one retiring to his own place. Scripture thus says: "As soon as the morning was light", that is, in virtue of that morning on which Abraham rose early, "the men were sent away", to wit, the executioners of judgement, "and their asses", to wit, the legions that emanate from the side of impurity, who no longer show themselves or no more have any power as soon as dawn appears. For the supernal grades are divided into right and left, into grades of mercy and severity, constituting a hierarchy, some on the side of holiness and others on the side of impurity; but wherever the morning of Abraham awakens in the world, all the unclean grades disappear, exercising no more power, because they can have no existence on the right side but are confined to the left side. The Holy One, blessed be He, thus made night and day to dispose of every one to its own proper side.' R. Hiya discoursed on the verse: But even unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in its wings (Malachi III, 20). 'God', he said, 'will at the proper time cause to shine on Israel that sun which he stored away at the time of the Creation, out of sight of sinners, as alluded to in the words: "But from the wicked their light is withholden" (Job XXXVIII, 15). This light, when it first emerged, radiated from one end of the world to the other; but when God contemplated the generation of Enoch and the generation of the Flood and the generation of the division of languages and all the sinners of the world, He stored it away. When Jacob appeared and wrestled with the chieftain of Esau, who struck against the hollow of his thigh so that he became lame, "the sun rose upon him" (Gen. XXXII, 32), to wit, that same sun that was stored away, in order, with its inherent healing powers, to heal him of his lameness. It is thus written: "And Jacob came perfect (shalem)" (Ibid. XXXIII, 18), to wit, perfect in body, inasmuch as he was made whole again. Likewise the Holy One, blessed be He, will in the future unsheathe that sun and cause it to shine upon Israel, as it says: "But unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise", by which is meant the same sun that rose upon Jacob, who was made whole by it, "with healing in its wings", inasmuch as that sun will bring healing to all. For at the time when Israel will rise up from the dust, many lame and many blind will be among them, and so the Holy One will cause to shine upon them that sun with healing in its wings, by which they will be healed. The sun, then, will again radiate from one end of the world to the other, bringing healing to Israel, but the idolatrous nations will be consumed by it. Regarding Israel it is further written: "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy healing shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee, the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward" (Is. LVIII,8). Let us return to our subject.

***

AND UNTO JOSEPH WERE BORN TWO SONS BEFORE THE YEAR OF THE FAMINE CAME, ETC. R. Isaac opened a discourse on the verse: And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples as dew from the Lord, as showers upon the grass, that are not looked for from men, nor awaited at the hands of the sons of men (Micah V, 6). 'Observe', he said, 'that every day as soon as day breaks a certain bird wakes up on a tree in the Garden of Eden and calls three times in succession, whereupon the twig on which it sits stands upright, and then a herald cries aloud, saying: "To you the warning is given, o rulers of the world. There are those among you that see without seeing, that stand without knowing what supports them, and that regard not the glory of their Master." [204a] The Torah is standing in their presence, but they occupy not themselves with it. It were better for them not to have been born. How can they exist without understanding? Woe to them when the days of evil will bestir themselves against them and extirpate them from the world! What are the "days of evil" ? They are not the days of old age, inasmuch as for him who has children and grandchildren those are good days. These days of evil are those indicated in the verse, "Remember then thy creator in the days of thy youth, before the evil days come" (Eccl. XII, 1). The esoteric reference is as follows. When the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world, He created it by means of the letters of the Torah, all the letters of the Alphabet having presented themselves before Him until finally the letter Beth was chosen for the starting point. Moreover, the various Alphabets [16] in their variety of permutation presented themselves to participate in the Creation. But when it came to the turn of the Teth and the Resh to present themselves together, [17] the Teth refused to take its place; so God chid it, saying: "O Teth, Teth, why, having come up, art thou loth to take thy place?" It replied: "Seeing that Thou hast placed me at the head of lob (good), how can I associate with the Resh, the initial of ra' (evil)?" God thereupon said to it: "Go to thy place, as thou hast need of the Resh. For man, whom I am about to create, will be composed of you both, but thou wilt be on his right whilst the other will be on his left." The two then took their places side by side. God, however, separated them by creating for each one special days and years, one set for the right and one for the left. Those of the right are called "days of good", and those of the left "days of evil". Hence Solomon's words: "before the evil days come", to wit, those days which encompass a man on account of the sins he commits. These days are also alluded to by the terms "days of famine" and "years of famine", and "days of plenty" and "years of plenty". The lesson to be derived from this is that the spring of the holy covenant should not be allowed to flow during the days of famine and the years of famine. Hence Joseph, the exemplar of the sacredness of the covenant, checked his fountain-head in the years of famine, and did not allow it to bring offspring into the world. This is incumbent on every man during years of famine.'

R. Simeon said: 'There is a deep idea contained here, namely, that if a man does not close his fountain when the year of famine has sway, then he causes a spirit from the other side to enter the child then born, and so enables the side of impurity to increase at the expense of the side of holiness. Hence, of those who do not observe such abstinence at such a time it is written: "They have dealt treacherously against the Lord, for they have begotten strange children, etc." (Hos. V, 7); for inasmuch as such children are called "strange children", assuredly the parents have dealt treacherously against the Lord. Thus happy is the portion of holy Israel who do not allow impurity to take the place of sacredness. And Scripture thus tells that "unto Joseph were born two sons before the year of famine came", inasmuch as from the time the famine overspread the land he closed his source so as not to give children to the unclean spirit and not to put impurity in the place of holiness. It behoves a man to wait for the Master of holiness to come and establish his sway, as it is written: "And I will wait for the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him" (Is. VIII , 17).Happy are those righteous that know the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He, and keep the precepts of the Torah and follow them. Of them it is written: "For the ways of the Lord are right, and the just do walk in them, but transgressors do stumble therein" (Hos. XIV, 10), also: "But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive everyone of you this day" (Deut. IV, 4). [204b] God thus admonished Israel to sanctify themselves, in the words: "Ye shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy" (Lev. XIX, 2). The term Ani (I) here signifies the kingdom of heaven. Confronting this is the kingdom of idolatry, which is termed "another" (aher), regarding which it is written: "For thou shalt bow down to no other god, for the Lord whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Ex. XXXIV, 14). Ani (I) is sovereign over this world and of the world to come, all being dependent on it, whereas the other one (aher), the side of impurity, the other side, has rule only in this world and none at all in the other world; and hence, whoever cleaves to that Ani (I) has a portion in this world and in the world to come; but he who cleaves to that aher (the other one) perishes from this world and has no portion in the world to come. He has, however, a portion in the world of impurity, as that other kingdom, the kingdom of idolatry, possesses innumerable emissaries through whom it exercises dominion over this world. Hence Elisha, known by the name of Aher (the other one), [18] who went down and clung to that grade, was thrust out of the future world, and was not permitted to repent; hence his name Aher. It therefore behoves a man to keep himself afar from the side of impurity so as to gain this world and the world to come. Thus there are two sides, the one of beatitude, the other of curse, the one of plenty, the other of famine, each the opposite of the other. Hence at the time of famine a man should not bring any children into the world, as that would be giving children to another god, as already explained. Happy is the man who is heedful to walk in the way of truth and to cleave constantly to his Master, in harmony with that which is written: "and to him shalt thou cleave, and by his name shalt thou swear" (Deut. X, 20), where "swear" (tishabe'a) has a reference to the mystery of faith in the seven (shib'a) supernal grades with their corresponding grades below.'

R. Hiya and R. Jose were once walking together when they caught sight of a man wearing a talith; beneath it, however, they saw that he was armed. Said R. Hiya: 'This man is either exceedingly pious, or he is a dangerous hypocrite.' R. Jose answered: 'Our sainted teachers have said: Judge every man in a favourable sense. Furthermore, we have been taught that when a man sets out on a journey, he should prepare himself for three courses: for making presents, for fighting, and for prayer. Now that man is wearing a talith, which shows that he is ready for prayer, and he is carrying arms, so that he is prepared to fight; about the third thing we need not inquire.' When the man came up to them, they greeted him, but he did not respond. R. Hiya remarked: 'We see now that he lacks one of the things with which he [205a] should have been provided: he has not prepared himself for making presents, under which head is included the greeting of peace.' R. Jose replied: 'It may be that he is absorbed in prayer or is repeating his studies so as not to forget them.' They then all walked together for a time without the man speaking a word to them. R. Hiya and R. Jose at length turned aside from him and began discussing points of the Torah. As soon as the man noticed this he approached them and offered them greeting. He also said to them: 'What did you think of me when you gave me greeting and I did not respond ?' Said R. Jose: 'I thought that you were engaged in prayer, or perhaps meditating over your studies.' He replied: 'May the Almighty judge you favourably as you have judged me. I will explain why I acted as I did. One day I was walking on the road when I met a man to whom I gave greeting. He happened to be a highwayman, and he fell upon me and molested me, and had I not stoutly resisted I would have come to no small harm. From that day onward I made a vow not to salute first any man save a righteous man, unless one whom I knew already, for fear lest he might set on me and overcome me. That it is forbidden to salute a sinner we know from the verse: "There is no peace, saith the Lord, concerning the wicked" (Is. XLVIII, 22). Now, when I saw you, and you saluted me, I suspected you because I did not notice about you any sign of religion, and besides, I was myself repeating my studies. But now that I see that you are righteous men, I have a plain road before me.' He then began a discourse on the verse: A Psalm of Asaph. Surely God is good to Israel, even to such as are pure in heart (Ps. LXXIII, 1). 'Observe', he said, 'that the Holy One, blessed be He, made a Right and a Left for the ruling of the world. The one is called "good", the other "evil", and He made man to be a combination of the two. The evil, then, which is identical with the left, embraces the idolatrous nations, and has been placed on their side, seeing that they are uncircumcised of heart and uncircumcised of flesh, so that they become defiled by it. But of Israel it is written: "Surely, God is good to Israel." Not, indeed, to all Israelites, but only to those who have not defiled themselves with that "evil", only to such as are "pure of heart". Surely "God is good to Israel", so that they may cleave to Him, and thereby Israel cleaves to the sublime mystery, to the mystery of Faith, so as to be perfectly united with God.' R. Jose then said: 'Happy are we that we did not suspect you falsely, seeing that it was the Holy One, blessed be He, that sent you to us.' R. Jose further said: 'Because He is good to Israel, Israel has a portion in this world and in the world to come, and is destined to see eye to eye the glorious vision, as it is written: "For they shall see, eye to eye, the Lord returning to Zion.'" Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen and Amen!

_______________

Notes:

1. This is a play on the term sheber = corn, which by a change of the diacritical point becomes seber = hope.

2. Another play upon the term sheber, which, besides "corn", also signifies "calamity".

3. i.e. little peccadilloes which people are apt to overlook. An allusion to the term 'aqebai = "footsteps", or lit. "heels".

4. Al. that he had no reason to fear.

5. i.e. the division of the Holy Land according to the twelve tribes.

6. Corresponding to the seventy nations or languages among which the world was divided according to the enumeration given in Genesis, chap. X.

7. The editions read "seven".

8. i.e. the seventy chieftains presiding over the seventy kingdoms of the world.

9. An allusion to the two variants, "remember" and "observe", in the text of the fourth Commandment, in Exodus and Deuteronomy.

10. i.e. the priests.

11. i.e. albeit Ephraim are worshipping idols, since they are all joined together in peace and harmony, they will escape the rigour of justice.

12. Is. XXXIX, 2: "and (he) showed them his treasure-house", which, according to the Cabbalists, is a reference to the Ark and the tables of the Ten Commandments.

13. i.e. the K'liphoth, or shells, the sinister forces that avail themselves of every opening to contaminate and draw sustenance from any sacred region.

14. Cf. T.B. Tractate Yoma, 12a: "A strip of land went forth from Judah's lot and entered into Benjamin's territory, and on this the Temple was built."

15. Al. the roofs.

16. i.e. the various combinations of the Alphabet, based on a series of permutations, each one constituting, as it were, an Alphabet by itself.

17. i.e. within the Alphabet called, from its initial letters, Albam. In this scheme the order is: Aleph, Lamed, Beth, Mim ... Teth, Resh, etc.

18. i.e. Elisha the son of Abuya. who through speculations in Greek philosophy was led into heresy, and for this was called by his colleagues Aher (the other one). T. B. Hagigah, 15a and 15b.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 28795
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:07 am

VAYIGASH

Gen. XLIV, 18-XLVII, 27

THEN JUDAH CAME NEAR UNTO HIM, ETC. R. Eleazar discoursed on the verse: For thou art our Father; for Abraham knoweth us not, and Israel doth not acknowledge us; thou, 0 Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name (Is. LXIII, 16) .... [1] He said: [205b] 'The word "thou" here refers to the grade by which the world was planned and created, and by which man was brought into the world. "For Abraham knoweth us not", inasmuch as, though life and death were in his hands, he did not show so much care for us as for Ishmael, on whose behalf he pleaded, "Oh, that Ishmael might live before thee!" (Gen. XVII, 18). Further: "Israel doth not acknowledge us", seeing that he left it to the divine grade to confer on his sons the blessings which he himself ought to have pronounced. Again, "Thou, 0 Lord, art our Father", as Thou art always standing by us to bless us and to watch over us like a father over his sons, to provide all their needs. "Our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name", God having been so called by Jacob when he said, "the angel who hath redeemed me" (Ibid. XLVIII, 16).'

One night when R. Isaac and R. Judah were sitting up studying the Torah, the former said: 'Tradition teaches us that when God created the world He created the lower world after the pattern of the upper world, and made the two the counterparts of each other, so that His glory is both on high and below.' Said R. Judah: 'Assuredly this is so, and He created man to be superior to all. Scripture thus says: "I, even I, have made the earth, and created man upon it" (Is. XLV, 12), that is to say, "I have made the earth for the sole purpose of creating man upon it"; since it depends upon man to complete the organic unity of the whole. It is written: "Thus saith God the Lord, he that creates the heavens, and stretcheth them forth, he that spreads forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it, he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein" (Ibid. XL, 5). The first part of the verse refers to the Holy One, blessed be He, in His operations on high, as He "createth the heavens" and continually and at all times renews them. The "earth" here is an allusion to the holy land which constitutes the "bundle of life"; and it is this earth which "gives soul (neshamah, lit. breath) unto the people upon it."' Said R. Isaac: 'The whole verse speaks of the upper world, as it is from thence that the soul of life emerges into that land; and that land, in its turn, is the reservoir from which issue souls for all. Observe that when the Holy One, blessed be He, created Adam, He gathered his earthly matter from the four corners of the world and fashioned him therefrom on the site of the Temple here below and drew to him a soul of life out of the Temple on high. Now the soul is a compound of three grades, and hence [206a] it has three names, to wit, nefesh (vital principle), ruah (spirit), and neshamah (soul proper). Nefesh is the lowest of the three, ruah is a grade higher, whilst neshamah is the highest of all and dominates the others. These three grades are harmoniously combined in those men who have the good fortune to render service to their Master. For at first man possesses nefesh, which is a holy preparative for a higher stage. After he has achieved purity in the grade of nefesh he becomes fit to be crowned by the holy grade that rests upon it, namely ruah. When he has thus attained to the indwelling of nefesh and ruah, and qualified himself for the worship of his Master in the requisite manner, the neshamah, the holy superior grade that dominates all the others, takes up its abode with him and crowns him, so that he becomes complete and perfected on all sides; he becomes worthy of the world to come and is beloved of the Holy One, blessed be He; of him Scripture says: "To cause my beloved ones to inherit substance" (Prov. VIII, 21), the "beloved ones" being those who have attained to the holy neshamah.' R. Judah remarked: 'If that be so, how can we understand the verse in the account of the Flood: "All in whose nostrils was the soul of the spirit (nishmath-ruah) of life ... died" (Gen. VII, 22)?' R. Isaac replied: 'This bears out what I said. Among the generation of the Flood no one was left that possessed the holy neshamah, as, for instance, Enoch or Jered or any of the other righteous who by their merits could have saved the earth from destruction, and its inhabitants from being exterminated. Scripture thus tells us that "all in whose nostrils was the soul of the spirit of life, of all those on dry land, died", that is to say, they had died already and departed this world, so that none was left to shield the world at that time. Observe that nefesh, ruah, and neshamah are an ascending series of grades. The lowest of them, nefesh, has its source in the perennial celestial stream, but it cannot exist permanently save with the help of ruah, which abides between fire and water. Ruah, in its turn, is sustained by neshamah, that higher grade above it, which ,is thus the source of both nefesh and ruah. When ruah receives its sustenance from neshamah, then nefesh receives it in turn through ruah, so that the three form a unity.'

***

THEN JUDAH CAME NEAR UNTO HIM. This was an approach of one world to another so as to join together. For Judah was king and Joseph was king, and they came nearer and nearer to each other until they united. R. Judah opened a discourse on the text: For, lo, the kings assembled themselves, etc. (Ps. XLVIII, 5). 'This is an allusion', he said, 'to Judah and Joseph, who were both kings and joined together in an altercation. For Judah had gone surety for Benjamin and pledged himself to his father in respect of this world and the world to come, saying to his father: "I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him; if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame all the days" (Gen. XLIII, 9), to wit, in this world and in the world to come. Hence he approached Joseph to reason with him regarding Benjamin, for fear lest he should be banned in this world and in the world to come. When Judah and Joseph hotly disputed, then all those that were present "saw, straightway they were amazed, they were affrighted, they hasted away. Trembling took hold of them there" (Ps. XLVIII,6-7), as they feared lest they might kill or be killed, and all on account of Benjamin.' [206b] R. Judah said: 'There is in this verse a recondite doctrine of faith, to wit, that when God is pleased with Israel and their union is crowned, then two worlds meet together in union, the one opening its store-house, and the other gathering in the contents. Thus, "lo, the kings assembled themselves", to wit, the two holy worlds, the upper world and the lower world.' R. Hiya said: 'The same effect is produced by the sacrifices, for when a sacrifice is offered up and each section receives its due, then there is a bond of union effected between all, and all faces are illumined. As for the words "they saw, straightway they were amazed", these cannot refer to the kings: they must refer to the accusers, whose whole joy lies in executing the sentence which has been committed to them. Hence, when the kings met together in amity and union, they, the accusers, "were amazed, they were affrighted, they hasted away"; they were subdued and passed out of the world; they had no dominion, and were left without any source of sustenance.' R. Eleazar said: 'The reason why Judah and no other came near to Joseph was because he went surety, as it says: "For thy servant became surety for the lad." Esoterically speaking, it was in the order of things that Judah and Joseph should thus meet, as Joseph was a Zaddik and Judah was a king, and so their union produced many benefits for the world: it was the cause of peace to all the tribes and between all the tribes, it was the cause of Jacob's spirit being fortified, as it says: "the spirit of Jacob their father revived" (Gen. XLV, 27). Hence, all both above and below conspired to bring them together.' R. Abba cited here the verse: "Fair in situation, the joy of the whole earth; even Mount Zion, the uttermost parts of the earth, the city of the great King" (Ps. XLVIII, 3), expounding it esoterically. '"Fair in situation" " he said, 'is an allusion to Joseph the Righteous, of whom it is said: "And Joseph was of beautiful form, and fair to look upon" (Gen. XXXIX, 6). He is called "the joy of the whole earth", as he is the joy and the gladness both of the upper and the lower world. He is also "Mount Zion, the uttermost part of the north", seeing that in his territory it was, that the Tabernacle of Shiloh stood. "The city of the great King" is the place prepared to meet the Most High King, it being altogether the Holy of Holies, from whence there issue all light, all blessings, and all joy, to cause all faces to shine-the centre from which the Temple receives blessings, which in turn sends out blessings to all the world.'

R. Judah and R. Jose once met together in K'far-hannan, and whilst they were sitting in the inn there entered a certain man who had come with a laden ass. R. Judah was then saying to R. Jose: 'Tradition tells us that King David used to sleep fitfully, like a horse. If so, how did David sleep till midnight, and not wake when a third of the night was passed?' R. Jose replied: 'When night-time arrived, David used to be sitting with the princes of his household dispensing justice and discussing the Torah, and afterwards he slept until midnight, when he would rise, and remain awake, absorbed in the service of his Master, singing songs of praise and hymns.' [207a] The stranger here interposed, saying: 'Is your exposition correct? Hardly. The real truth of the matter is this. King David lives for ever and ever. All his days he was on his guard so as not to have a foretaste of death, and therefore David, whose place is "living", only slept sixty breaths at a time. For up to the fifty-ninth breath the sleeper is still completely alive, but from that point he has a foretaste of death, and the spirit of impurity obtains power over him. King David therefore guarded himself so that the side of the unclean spirit should not obtain dominion over him. For the first sixty breathings less one are symbolic of heavenly life, of sublime breathings on high, on which life proper depends; they represent the mystery of life. But beyond that number they are associated with death. Hence King David measured out the night so as to remain in life and to prevent any foretaste of death coming over him. At midnight he was in his place, as he was anxious that at the arrival of midnight, when the holy Crown is awakened, he should not be found attached to another place, the place of death. For at midnight, when the supernal holiness is awakened, the man who remains asleep in his bed without regarding the glory of his Master falls under the spell of death and is attached to the other place. David thus rose up to contemplate continually the glory of his Master, who was a Living One like himself, and so never slept long enough to have a foretaste of death. He only slept like a horse, sixty breaths at a time.' R. Judah and R. Jose came up to him and kissed him. They asked him his name. He said: 'Hezekiah (lit. strengthened by God).' They said: 'May you be strong and may your knowledge of the Torah augment.'

When they sat down again, R. Judah said to the man: 'Having made a start, tell us more of the sublime mystical doctrines you alluded to.' The stranger then began to discourse on the verse: The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens (Prov. III, 19). 'When God', he said, 'created the world, He saw that it could not exist without the Torah, as this is the only source of all laws above and below, and on it alone are the upper and lower beings established. Hence, "the Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens", inasmuch as it is through Wisdom that all things are enabled to exist in the universe, and from it all things proceed. An alternative exposition is as follows. "The Lord by wisdom founded the earth", that is, the upper world has been created through the higher Wisdom and the lower world through the lower Wisdom, so that all things came into being out of the higher Wisdom and the lower Wisdom. "By understanding he established the heavens"; literally, He establisheth (konen), to wit, day by day, without ceasing; they were not made complete at once, but He continues perfecting them each day. This is alluded to in the verse : "Yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight" (Job XV, 15). Think not that this verse implies any disparagement of-the heavens. On the contrary, its purpose is to indicate their importance and the great love and affection in which God holds them, in that, notwithstanding that He is perfecting them every day, they are not yet deemed in His eyes to have reached the utmost perfection of which they are capable. In His great affection for them it is His delight to irradiate them continually and without ceasing, the world to come radiating day by day bright streams of light in order to make the heavens resplendent. Hence the heavens, pure as they are, in God's sight are not yet pure. Again, the heavens here symbolize the patriarchs, and the patriarchs find their centre in Jacob, who embraces them all, he being the choice of the patriarchs, and the one who causes light to radiate into the world. And after he was raised to the next world there issued from him a branch beauteous in appearance, from which radiate all illumination and all plenteousness. That branch is Joseph the Righteous, who gave the world abundance and by whom it was sustained. Thus whatever God does in the world has a deep symbolic significance and is all as it should be.' At this point R. Eleazar entered. As soon as he saw them he said: 'Assuredly, the Shekinah is here present. What have you been discussing?' They told him [207b] all that had passed between them. He said: 'Assuredly, what he said was right. The first sixty respirations are those of life both above and below, but beyond these there are sixty other respirations that are of the side of death and over which hovers the grade of death. They are called "dormit", and contain a foretaste of death; King David, however, attached himself to the sixty respirations that are of life, after which he did not sleep any more. Thus he said: "I will not give sleep to mine eyes, nor slumber to my lids" (Ps. CXXXII, 4). Hence what the stranger said was correct, as David is living, belonging to the side of life and not to the side of death.'

So they sat together studying the Torah. R. Eleazar then discoursed on the verse: O Lord, God of my salvation, what time I cry in the night before thee (Ibid. LXXXVIII, 2). 'King David', he said, 'used to rise from his bed at midnight and study the Torah, and sang praises and hymns so as to cause joy to the King and the Matron. And this promoted the joy of faith throughout the earth. For at that time numberless celestial angels break joyously forth into song on high, and correspondingly praises should be sung here below; and whenever anyone offers up in the night praises on earth, the Holy One, blessed be He, finds pleasure in him, and all those holy angels that sing praises to the Holy One hearken to the one that sings praises to Him in the night on earth. When David wrote: "O Lord, God of my salvation, etc.", he said, in effect: "When is He my salvation? On that day when I rise up early in the night to offer thanksgiving to Thee; it is then that He is my salvation in the daytime." And observe further that whoever offers praises to his Master in the night is fortified in the daytime by the Right side, as a cord issues from the Right side which is drawn round him and by which he becomes strengthened. Hence again David said: "The dead praise not the Lord" (Ibid. CXV, 17), inasmuch as it is the due of the living to praise the Living One, but not of the dead. Hence "The dead praise not the Lord .... But we will bless the Lord" (Ibid. 17), we who are alive and have no lot or part in the side of death. Hezekiah also said: "The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day" (Is. XXXVIII, 19), as the living has kinship with the living; King David is living, and hence he has kinship with the life principle of the universe. And he that has brought himself near to Him is alive, as it is written: "But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day" (Deut. IV, 4.). It is also written: "And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a living man [2] of Kabzeel" (II Sam. XXIII, 20).'

The Judean then followed with a discourse on the text: And thou shalt eat and be satisfied, and bless the Lord thy God (Deut. VIII, 10). 'Have we not to bless God', he asked, 'before we eat? Indeed, we have to get up early in the morning and recite His praises in proper order, and bless His name before we are allowed to salute any living person. Scripture also says: "Ye shall not eat with the blood" (Lev. XIX, 26), implying that it is forbidden to eat before pronouncing a benediction to one's Master. But the truth is that other benedictions are mainly concerned with the declaration of the unity of God, whereas the grace after meals is meant to show that along with him who says it the grade of faith is also satisfied, and hence it has to be recited in order that this grade may be satisfied and beatified and filled of joy from the celestial life, so that it may provide us with sustenance. For the providing of man's daily food is for the Holy One, blessed be He, as heavy a task as the cleaving of the Red Sea, because it depends upon mazzal and is not, as it were, under His jurisdiction until a benediction is pronounced to Him. Similarly, the arranging of marriages is a heavy task to Him. For when the holy mating takes place, all [208a] the souls issue from that mazzal above which is identical with the ever-flowing river; and when there is desire in the lower for the higher, the souls fly down in pairs of male and female, after which their ruling grade separates them and sends each to its appointed place. But later on that presiding grade finds it hard to join them together in their original pairs, since they are now paired in accordance with men's conduct, and all depends now on a higher region. The providing of sustenance is compared to the cleaving of the Red Sea because this also depends on operations on high, ways and paths being opened and cleft in the sea in correspondence with the ways and paths on high. It is therefore necessary to offer blessings to the Power on high and to impart to Him reinforcement from below so that He may receive the heavenly blessings and the heavenly reinforcements in due measure. Hence it is written: "and thou shalt bless the Lord", the vocable eth (accusative particle) having a special significance (as pointing to that region). And toward that region it is necessary to show oneself satisfied and cheerful. Contrariwise, toward the other side, when it exercises sway over the world, one must show oneself hungry and famished, inasmuch as plenteousness does not then rule in the world. This, then, is the explanation of the verse: "And thou shalt eat and be satisfied, and bless the Lord thy God."' Said R. Eleazar: 'This is truly so, and that is how men ought to act.' R. Judah said: 'Happy are those righteous whose coming together brings peace to the world, since they know how to effect unity. Before Joseph and Judah drew near each other there was no peace, but as soon as they did so they brought much peace into the world, and great joy both above and below, since as soon as Judah came near to Joseph all the tribes joined him.'

***

THEN JOSEPH COULD NOT REFRAIN HIMSELF BEFORE ALL THEM THAT STOOD BY HIM. R. Hiya discoursed on the text : He hath scattered abroad; he hath given to the needy; his charity endureth for ever (Ps. CXII, 9). 'Observe', he said, 'that God created the world and set man to be king over all. Now from the first man there have branched out different classes of men, righteous and wicked, foolish and wise, rich and poor; and among these each class can win credit for itself through the medium of the other, that is, the righteous through the wicked, the wise through the stupid, the rich through the poor. For it is by these means that a man becomes worthy of being joined to the tree of life; and what is more. the charity that he dispenses stands him for ever in good stead, as it says: "his charity endureth for ever".' Said R. Eleazar: 'When God created the world, He established it on one pillar the name of which is Righteous, as it is the Righteous One that upholds the world and that waters and sustains all that exists. So Scripture says: "And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became four heads" (Gen. II, 10). The term "it was parted" signifies that the food and drink carried by that river is received in its entirety by the garden, and thence is scattered into the four quarters of the world; and many are they that wait to receive the drink and food from thence! So it is written: "The eyes of all wait for thee, and thou givest them their food in due season" (Ps. CXLV, 15). "But the wicked shall see, and be vexed" (Ibid. CXII, 10). namely, the idolatrous Kingdom. Observe that the Kingdom of Heaven is the Sanctuary designed to shelter all the needy under the shadow of the Shekinah; and the Righteous One is the charity-collector who dispenses to all, as it says: "He hath scattered abroad. he hath given to the needy." Hence, those who collect for charity receive as great a reward as those who give the charity all together. Thus the words: "Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him", refer to all those that stand and wait to receive food and drink from the Righteous One. In the sentence: "And there stood no [208b] man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren", the term "with him" is an allusion to the Community of Israel, and "his brethren" refers to the other chariot-riders and legions referred to in the verse: "For my brethren and companions' sake" (Ibid. CXXII, 8). Or again: "And there stood no man with him" is a description of the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, will be mated with the Community of Israel. "While Joseph made himself known to his brethren": this again alludes to the time when the Holy One will join Himself to Israel, to the exclusion of the idolatrous nations.' R. Jesse expounded the verse as alluding to the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, will raise up the Community of Israel from the dust and will take vengeance on the idolatrous nations. Of that occasion it is thus written: "And of the peoples there was no man with me" (Is. LXIII, 3), which is analogous in phrasing to the passage "and there stood no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brethren", and further: "and he bare them and carried them all the days of old" (Ibid. 9). R. Hizkiah said: 'It is written in one Psalm: "A song of ascents. Unto thee I lift up mine eyes, 0 thou that art enthroned in the heavens" (Ps. CXXIII, 1), and in another Psalm it is written: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains" (Ibid. CXXI, 1). The difference has been expounded as follows. The latter speaks of heaven, whereas the former speaks of earth. Thus, "I will lift mine eyes unto the mountains", to wit, to the heavens above in order to draw down blessing from on high to below, to draw down blessings from those exalted mountains toward the Community of Israel; but then: "Unto thee I lift up mine eyes", in hoping and waiting for those blessings that descend from thence to here below. "O thou that art enthroned in the heavens": inasmuch as all might and strength is centred in heaven. For when the Jubilee opens the springs, all the gates of heaven are ready, and when the heaven receives all the lights that issue from the Jubilee, there flows down drink and food for the Community of Israel through the intermediary of one Righteous One. When this one moves towards her, many are those who stand and wait to be refreshed and to participate in the blessings from above, as Scripture says: "The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God" (Ps. CIV, 2). But the Community of Israel rises in a recondite manner and receives dainties from her spouse in manner due. As to all those that stand round, they remain apart, as it says: "Then there was no man with him", and as it also says before: "and he cried: Cause every man to go out from me". Afterwards, however, when she has received dainties from her spouse, all the others are given drink and food, as it says: "They give drink to every beast of the field, the wild asses quench their thirst" (Ibid. CIV, 11).'

R. Jose opened a discourse on the subject of Elijah. 'There were', he said, 'two men who dared to expostulate with God: Moses and Elijah. Moses said: "Wherefore hast thou dealt ill with these people ?" (Ex. V, 22); and Elijah said: "Hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?" (I Kings, XVII, 20). Both used the term "evil" with the same recondite meaning. Moses said in effect: "Wherefore hast thou given licence to the side of evil to take the soul of that people?" Similarly Elijah said in effect: "Whoever preserves one soul in the world merits life and is worthy to lay hold of the tree of life; yet now the tree of death, the side of evil, has obtained power over the widow whom Thou hast commanded to sustain me." It may be asked, how could Moses and Elijah speak thus, seeing that evil is never done to man by the Almighty? The truth is that when a man walks on the right side, the protection of the Holy One, blessed be He, is constantly with him, so that the other side has no power over him, and the forces of evil are bowed before him, and cannot prevail over him. But as soon as the protection of the Holy One is withdrawn from him by reason [209a] of his having attached himself to evil, that evil gains the mastery and advances to destroy him, being given authorization to take his soul.'

Said R. Hiya: 'Elijah was able to pronounce a doom with the full certainty that God would confirm it, as, for instance, that the heaven should not let fall rain or dew. How came it, then, that he felt afraid of Jezebel? How came it that at her threat to take his life (I Kings XIX, 2) he was filled with fear and fled for his life?' R. Jose said in reply: 'It has been laid down that the righteous should not put their Master to trouble by exposing themselves to an obvious danger. We find an example in Samuel, when he said: "How can I go ? If Saul hear it, he will kill me" (I Sam. XVI, 2); and God therefore told him to take certain precautions (Ibid.). So it was with Elijah.' Said R. Jose, further: 'I have heard a special exposition of this matter as follows. When Jezebel threatened Elijah, it is not written that he "feared" (vayira), but he "saw" (vayar) (I Kings XIX, 3). What was it that he saw? He saw that the angel of death had followed him for a number of years, and he had not been delivered into his hand. Then the verse continues: vayelekh el nafsho (and he went for his life), which literally means, "and he went to (el) his soul", that is to say, he resorted to the foundation of his soul, or, in other words, he proceeded to attach himself to the tree of life. In connection with the phrase el nafsho (to his soul), I have heard,' he continued, 'the following recondite doctrine from R. Simeon. All the souls of mankind emerge from the ever-flowing celestial stream, from which they are received into the "bundle of life". Now, when a female becomes pregnant from a male, it is mostly the result of an equal and reciprocal desire, or less often of the predominating desire of the female. But when the desire of the male predominates, then the soul of the child that is born has unusual vitality, inasmuch as the whole of its being is the result of the desire and yearning for the tree of life. Hence Elijah, to whose birth that desire had contributed in a special degree, was gifted with special vitality, and did not die like other men. For his whole being was derived from the tree of life and not from the dust. He, therefore, without suffering death, as is the lot of other men, went up on high, as Scripture says: "and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (II Kings II, 11). Observe the words: "behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, etc." (Ibid.), which indicate that Elijah's spirit was stripped of its body, so that he departed not life in the manner of other men, but became a holy angel like other heavenly beings, carrying out divine messages in this world; for it is well established among us that the miracles which God performs in the world are carried out by his agency. Now observe that it is written further: "and he requested for himself (eth nafsho = his soul) to die" (I Kings XIX, 4.). This implies that he turned to the tree wherein death lurks, and there God appeared unto him, as Scripture says: "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord ... and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice" -- referring to the very innermost point, which is the source of all illumination -- "And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle.... And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said: What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said: I have been very jealous for the Lord" (Ibid. XIX, 11-13). God said to him: "How long wilt thou continue to be jealous for me ? Thou hast already closed fast the gate so as [209b] to secure thyself from death, and the world will not be able to endure thee." Elijah replied: "for the children have forsaken thy covenant, etc." (Ibid. 14.). The Holy One then said to him: "As thou livest, in whatever place the rite of the holy covenant (i.e. circumcision) will be performed, thou wilt be present." It is for this reason that at every performance of that rite a chair is set aside for Elijah, who is always there present. Observe what consequences followed Elijah's words, for it is written: "Yet will I leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him" (Ibid. XIX, 18). God said to him in effect: "Henceforth the world will not be able to tolerate thee along with my sons." So He commanded him, saying: "and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room" (Ibid. 16), as much as to say: "There shall be another prophet for my children, and thou shalt go up to thy place." Observe that if a man is jealous for the Holy One, blessed be He, the angel of death has no power over him as he has over other men, and to him is given the covenant of peace, as it is said regarding Phinehas: "Wherefore say: Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace" (Num. XXV, 12).'

***

AND HE FELL UPON HIS BROTHER BENJAMIN'S NECK, AND WEPT; AND BENJAMIN WEPT UPON HIS NECK. R. Isaac said: 'We expound this to indicate that Joseph wept on account of the destruction of the first Temple and of the second Temple.' R. Isaac proceeded to discourse on the verse: Thy neck is like the tower of David builded with turrets, whereon there hang a thousand shields, all the armour of the mighty men (S. S. IV, 4). 'The tower of David', he said, 'signifies the heavenly Jerusalem, of which it is written: "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is set up on high" (Prov. XVIII, 10), the phrase "on high" pointing to the tower above. "Thy neck" signifies the Temple below, which for its beauty is compared to the neck in the human body: as the neck gives symmetry and beauty to the body, so does the Temple to the whole world. "Builded with turrets" (talpiyoth, lit. mound of mouths), that is, a mound toward which all men turn their gaze when they open their mouths to offer prayer and praise. "Whereon there hang a thousand shields", alluding to the thousand cosmic reconstructions that are performed there. "All the armour of the mighty men", alluding to the angels of punishment that proceed from the side of severity. As a woman's ornaments are hung about her neck, so all the ornaments of the world are hung about the Temple. Similarly, in the passage, "To our very neck we are pursued" (Lam. V, 5), there is an allusion to the Temple. "We labour and have no rest" (Ibid.), that is, we have exerted ourselves to build the Temple twice, but the enemies have not permitted us to retain it, and it has not been rebuilt. Again, as the whole body perishes when the neck is destroyed, so as soon as the Temple was destroyed and its light extinguished, the whole world was plunged into darkness, and there was no light of sun or stars, either in heaven or on earth. Hence, Joseph wept on account of this. After he had wept for the Temple, he wept for the tribes that were to go into exile. For as soon as the Temple was destroyed, all the tribes were exiled and scattered among the nations. Scripture thus tells us: "And he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them", that is to say, for them. He wept for all of them, for the twofold destruction of the Temple and for his brethren the ten tribes that went into exile and were scattered among the nations. AND AFTER THAT HIS BRETHREN TALKED WITH HIM. They, however, did not weep, because the Holy Spirit did not flash upon them as upon Joseph.'

***

AND THE REPORT THEREOF WAS HEARD IN PHARAOH'S HOUSE. R. Abba opened a discourse on the verse: My soul yearneth, yea, even pineth for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy unto the living God (Ps. LXXXIV, 3). 'Observe', he said, 'that before offering his prayer to his Master, a man should first recite some thanksgiving. He should also pray before his Master in the proper time: in the morning to unite himself to the right side of the Holy One, blessed be He, and in the afternoon to the left side. It is incumbent on man to offer up prayer and supplication each day so as to unite himself with God. It has been laid down that in praying before his Master a man should not make his voice heard, as if he does so his prayer will not be accepted, for the reason that [210a] prayer does not consist in audible voice nor is the voice prayer. Prayer consists in another voice attached to the voice which is heard. It thus behoves man to pray silently, to pray with that voice that is inaudible. It is thus written: "and the voice (veha-qol = and the report, lit. the voice) was heard", where the term qol is written defectively, without a vau, pointing to the inaudible voice, like that of Hannah's prayer, of which it is written: "but her voice could not be heard" (I Sam. I, 13). The prayer which the Holy One, blessed be He, accepts is that which is performed with earnestness and devotion and proper concentration of the mind on the unity of God.' R. Eleazar said: 'The silent voice is the supernal voice from which all other voices proceed. The statement "and the voice was heard", where the term qol (voice) is written without a vau, is an allusion to the voice which wept on account of the first Temple and the second Temple. The word "was heard' suggests the verse: "A voice was heard in Ramah" (Jer. XXXI, 15), where the word b'ramah (in Ramah, lit. on high) alludes to the upper world, to the world to come; for of that event it is indeed written: "And in that day did the Lord, the God of hosts, call to weeping, and to lamentation, etc." (Is. XXII, 12), so that the voice was heard in the height of heights. Therefore, too, Rachel wept for her children; she "refused to be comforted for her children, because he is not". It is not written "they are not" (einam), but "he is not" (einennu), which is an allusion to her Spouse; for if her Spouse were present with her, she would let herself be comforted for them, as they would not remain then in exile; but her Spouse not being with her she cannot be comforted. The "house of Par'oh" (Pharaoh) here is, again, an allusion to the Temple on high, that is, to the house that was stripped (par'oh = uncovering) and bared of all its light and radiance and its hidden treasures. When the Holy One, blessed be He, will raise that still voice from the dust and join the vau with it, then all that was lost to them in the time of exile will be restored, and they will feast on the supernal radiances that will stream with added brightness from the supernal world, as Scripture says: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great horn shall be blown; and they shall come that were lost in Assyria, and they that were dispersed in the land of Egypt; and they shall worship the Lord in the holy mountain at Jerusalem" (Ibid. XXVII,13).'

***

NOW THOU ART COMMANDED, THIS DO YE: TAKE YE WAGONS OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, ETC. R. Hiya opened a discourse with the text: Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her rejoice for joy with her, etc. (Ibid. LXVI, 10). 'When', he said, 'the Temple was destroyed and Israel on account of their sins were driven from their land, God removed Himself, as it were, to the height of heights and regarded not the destruction of the Temple nor the exile of His people, and so the Shekinah was exiled with them. When God again descended, He observed His House that was burnt down. He looked at His people and behold, they were in exile. He inquired concerning the Matron (Shekinah) and found that she had been driven out. Then, "in that day did the Lord, the God of hosts, call to weeping, and lamentation, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth" (Ibid. XXII, 12); and the Matron was called upon to "lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth" (Joel I, 8), because He had removed Himself from her and they were separated. The very heaven and the very ·earth lamented, as it is written: "I clothe the heaven with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering" (Is. L, 3). The celestial angels all raised their voices in lamentation, as it says: "Behold, the angels cry without; the angels of peace weep bitterly" (Is. XXXIII, 7). The sun and the moon mourned and their light was darkened, as we read: "The sun shall be darkened in his going forth, etc." (Ibid. XIII, 10). [210b] For what reason? Because the other side had obtained sway over the Holy Land.' R. Hiya further discoursed on the verse: And thou, son of man, thus saith the Lord God concerning the land of Israel: An end! the end is come upon the four corners of the land (Ezek. VII, 1). 'This verse', he said, 'contains a recondite idea. As has been stated, there is an end on the right and an end on the left. It is the end on the right which is alluded to in the expression "the land of Israel: an end I", while the expression, "the end is come" refers to the end on the left. The right end is the end of the good prompter; the left end is the end of the evil prompter; and when Israel's sins multiplied and increased, it was through this left end that the wicked kingdom obtained power and destroyed the House and Sanctuary of the Lord. Scripture thus says: "Thus saith the Lord God: An evil, a singular evil, behold, it cometh" (Ibid. 5). Heaven and earth thus lamented because dominion had been given to the left end. Now, seeing that the holy kingdom, the kingdom of heaven, has been overthrown and the wicked kingdom has prevailed, it behoves man to mourn with it and to abase himself with it, so that when it will be raised again and joy will be restored to the world, he may rejoice with it. Scripture thus says: "Rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her" (Is. LXVI, 10).'

***

AND HE SAW THE WAGONS, ETC. Egypt is called "a fair heifer" (Jer. XLVI, 20), and hence the word 'egloth (lit. wagons, or heifers) here may be an allusion to Egypt, indicating that a time will come when the Israelites, the bondsmen of Egypt, the fair heifer, will obtain dominion over it. R. Eleazar said: 'By means of the heifers Joseph intended to remind Jacob that when he was separated from him he had been studying with him the section of the heifer whose neck was to be broken (Deut. XXI, 4). Now this rite of the heifer whose neck was to be broken was carried out for a man found slain without its being known who had slain him. The heifer was thrown, as it were, to the evil spirits in order to ward them off and prevent them from obtaining dominion over the earth. Now all men depart life through the hands of the angel of death, except the one whose life has been taken by another man, before the angel of death had received permission to exercise his function upon him. The angel of death has thus cause to complain against the place of the murder, and therefore it was commanded that "the elders of that city shall bring down the heifer, etc." (Ibid. XXI, 4), so as to remove any indictment against that locality and to safeguard it against the power of the accuser. When Joseph left his father, he went without escort and without eating first; and when Jacob afterwards said "Joseph is surely tom", he added: "Nay, but I will go down to the grave to my son mourning" (Gen. XXXVII, 35), as much as to say: "It was I who was the cause of his death, and, moreover, I sent him off although I knew that his brethren hated him." All this Joseph hinted to him by sending the heifers.' Said R. Judah to R. Eleazar: 'But did not Joseph send the heifers by the command of Pharaoh, as it says: "And Joseph gave them heifers, according to the commandment of Pharaoh" (Ibid. XLV, 21)?' R. Eleazar replied: 'Pharaoh only gave the command at Joseph's request. Indeed, Jacob was not fully convinced of the tidings brought to him until he saw them, as Scripture says: "And when he saw the heifers that Joseph had sent him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived" (Ibid. 27).' R. Simeon remarked: 'First Scripture says: "and the spirit of Jacob revived", and immediately after: "And Israel said" (Ibid. 28). The Torah first calls him Jacob because the Shekinah departed from him when the brethren made her a party to the oath of secrecy with regard to the sale of Joseph; but now that the Shekinah returned he rose to the higher degree symbolized by Israel.' [211a]

***

AND HE SAID: I AM GOD, THE GOD OF THY FATHER ... I WILL GO DOWN WITH THEE INTO EGYPT. This is an indication that the Shekinah accompanied him into exile; and wherever Israel were exiled the Shekinah followed them also into exile. Observe that Joseph sent his father six wagons, [3] an allusion to which is found in the "six covered wagons" presented by the princes to Moses (Num. VII, 3). According to another view, the number was sixty; but the two views are not contradictory. For, indeed, it is first written: "in the wagons which Joseph sent" (Gen. XLV, 27), and afterwards, "which Pharaoh sent" (Ibid. XLVI, 5), so that the truth is that those which Joseph sent were of the proper number, which had a recondite significance, but the larger number which Pharaoh sent had no such numerical symbolism.

***

AND JOSEPH MADE READY HIS CHARIOT. R. Isaac began a discourse on the verse: And over the heads of the living creatures (hayoth) there was the likeness of a firmament, like the colour of the terrible ice, stretched forth over their heads above (Ezek. I, 22). 'This verse', he said, 'has been explained as follows. There is a series of hayoth, one group higher than the other, and there is one above all which sets all the others in motion and causes them to transmit their light to one another. This supreme Hayah has various faces which radiate to all the cardinal points, three on each side. There is besides a series of firmaments, one above the other, the highest one dominating all the others, which all turn their gaze towards it. So Scripture says: "And under the firmament were their wings conformable the one to the other, etc." (Ibid. 23), as they all rule over what has been committed to their charge. There being nine hayoth on each of the four sides of the universe, the total number is thirty-six. When they are all joined together, they form one impression symbolizing the one Name in an absolute unity. And when they are all ranged round the heavenly throne, then is realized the description given by the prophet: "And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man above it" (Ibid. 26). Now the figures on that chariot culminate in that of man; and when the other figures are subordinated to this one so as to form a homogeneous chariot, then it may be said: "And Joseph made ready his chariot", Joseph representing the Zaddik; further, "and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen", Israel typifying the supernal Adam, and Goshen (lit. approaching) the coalescence of the two. The text continues: "and he presented himself unto him", symbolizing the reflection of the light of the sun on to the moon, whereby the moon is lit up and floods with its light all the dwellers of the lower world. Correspondingly, as long as the supernal sanctity rested on the lower Temple, that Temple was filled with an effulgence of light, and thus remained in its completeness, but subsequently the supernal sanctity was withdrawn and the Temple was destroyed, regarding which it is written: "and he wept on his neck a long while"; "he wept", on account of the Temple that was to be destroyed, and "a long while", on account of the last exile. When Jacob thus saw that all below was complete after the supernal pattern, he said: "Now let me die ... that thou art yet alive", that is to say: since thou hast retained the holy covenant of Him [211b] who is called the Living One of all eternity. The same is implied in Jacob's previous utterance: "It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive."'

***

AND JACOB BLESSED PHARAOH. R. Jose cited in connection with this the verse: I have compared thee, O my love, to a steed in Pharaoh's chariot (S. S. I, 9). 'Observe', he said, 'that there are chariots of the left that belong to the other side, and there are chariots of the right that are under the aegis of supernal holiness; the latter are of grace, the former of severity. When the Holy One, blessed be He, executed justice on the Egyptians, every form of punishment which He inflicted on them was after the very pattern of those chariots, and after the very pattern of that other side: as that side slays and takes men's souls, so did the Holy One, blessed be He, as it says: "and the Lord slew all the first-born in the land of Egypt" (Ex. XIII, 15), and so with all the other punishments executed on the Egyptians. This is the implication of the words, "I compared thee, ) my beloved, etc.", to wit, "I made thee equal to the other side in the power to slay." And what does Scripture say in regard to the future? "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with crimson garments from Bozrah? etc." (Is. LXIII, 1).'

***

AND ISRAEL DWELT IN THE LAND OF EGYPT, IN THE LAND OF GOSHEN; AND THEY GOT THEM POSSESSION THEREIN, AND WERE FRUITFUL, AND MULTIPLIED EXCEEDINGLY, and they got them possession, to wit, as a permanent possession, inasmuch as it belonged to them; and they were fruitful, and multiplied, assuredly so, seeing that they were relieved of all vexation and they enjoyed all the luxuries of the world. Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen and Amen!

________________

Notes:

1. The passage omitted is a repetition, in a shortened form, of pp. 2b, 3a.

2. According to the K'tib.

3. Here the Zohar reverts to the accepted rendering of 'agaloth, namely, wagons.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 28795
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:08 am

Part 1 of 4

VAYEHI [1]

Gen. XLVII, 28-L, 26

R. Hiya discoursed on the text: And thy people are all righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever, etc. (Is. LX, 21). 'Israel', he said, 'have been favoured above all the Gentiles in being entitled by God righteous, that they may obtain an everlasting inheritance in the world to come, as it is written: "Then thou shalt delight in the Lord" (Is. LVIII, 14). Wherefore so? Because they attach themselves to the Body of the King, as it says: "Ye that cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day" (Deut. IV, 4).' R. Isaac said: 'This text of R. Hiya contains a deep allusion for "the reapers in the field". [2] For R. Simeon has laid down in the esoteric Agadah that the exalted inheritance of that other land is acquired by none save him who is called "righteous." For the Matron cleaves to the Righteous One and finds delight in him, and the Righteous One assuredly inherits the Matron. So God in His love for Israel called them righteous and they are therefore meet to inherit the Matron. The reason is that they are circumcised, according to the dictum: "Whoever is circumcised and enters into the covenant and observes it becomes attached to the Body of the King, and enters into the Righteous One", and they are therefore called righteous, and so "they shall for ever inherit the land", to wit, the "land of the living". They are further called in the text "the branch of my planting", to wit, one of those shoots which God planted when He created the world, referred to in the verse, "And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden" (Gen. II, 8). According to another explanation, the words "And thy people are all righteous" refer to Jacob and his sons, who went down to Egypt among a stiff-necked people and all remained righteous, wherefore "they shall for ever [216b] inherit the land", since from there they went up to inherit the holy land.'

***

AND JACOB LIVED IN THE LAND OF EGYPT. It is to be noted that this section is "closed", i.e. no space is left in the scroll of the Law between the beginning of this section (vayehi) and the end of the previous section (vayigash). Why is this? R. Jacob said: 'It is to indicate that when Jacob died the eyes of Israel became, as it were, closed, because then they really entered on the galuth and the Egyptians enslaved them.' R. Simeon said: 'It is to show that the words "and Jacob lived" are to be taken in close conjunction with the preceding sentence: "And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt in the land of Goshen and they gat them possessions therein, and were fruitful, and multiplied exceedingly." That is to say, just as they lived in luxury and were short of nothing, so Jacob similarly had every comfort and was short of nothing. Hence it is said of him now that "he lived". For up to this time he had known nothing but trouble, but now he saw one of his sons in royal estate and the others virtuous and righteous, all living in the lap of luxury while he himself abode among them like good wine resting on its lees; so that now in reality he "lived"'. SEVENTEEN YEARS. Why seventeen? R. Simeon said: 'Jacob's life was always one of hardship, but whenever he looked at Joseph he thought he saw his mother again, because Joseph closely resembled Rachel, and at such a time he forgot all his sorrows. When, however, Joseph was parted from him, this was a worse blow than all the previous ones, and he wept every day for the seventeen years that Joseph had been with him. Hence Providence compensated him with another seventeen years of Joseph's company, during which he lived in ease and luxury. Tradition tells us that all those seventeen years the Divine Presence rested upon him, and therefore they were called "life". So it says that when his sons told him that Joseph was alive, "the spirit of Jacob their father revived" (Gen. XLV, 27), for up to then the spirit had been dead within him and he had not been in a state to receive another in its place, since the spirit from above does not rest on an empty spot.' R. Jose said: 'The Shekinah does not rest on a place which is defective or disturbed, but only in a place properly prepared, a place of joyfulness. Hence all the years that Joseph was away and Jacob was in sadness, the Shekinah did not rest on him.' So we have learnt that R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Abba: 'It is written, "Serve the Lord with gladness, come before his presence with singing", to show that the service of God should be performed with joy.' This accords with what R. Eleazar has elsewhere said, that when Elisha desired the spirit to rest upon him, he said "and now bring me a minstrel" (II Kings III, 15).

R. Abba said: 'It has been laid down in a certain passage that the whole is derived from four sides, and that all the roots of the higher and lower beings are attached to them; and it has been further said that as one goes in another goes out, and as one is revealed another is concealed, and each one is linked to the next, and they are the origins of all.' R. Simeon said: 'There are three origins like the three patriarchs, and from them all the rest spread and extol the name to be crowned.'

R. Jose said: 'From the day that R. Simeon left the cave, nothing was concealed from the Companions, and things became clear to them as if they had been revealed that day on Mount Sinai. But after he died, then "the fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven [217a] were closed", and the Companions could no longer get to the bottom of things, as shown by the following instance. One day R. Judah was sitting at the gate of Tiberias, and he saw two camels laden with bundles of clothes. One of the bundles fell down and a flock of birds flew to the spot. Before they could reach it, however, they dispersed. Then a number of other birds came up, and perched on the rock. The men threw stones and shouted at them but they would not go away. He heard a voice saying: "The crown of crowns is plunged in darkness and does not rest on the head of the Master." While he was still sitting, a man passed by and said: "You are not following the example of Abram, who, when the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses drove them away (Gen. XV, 11)." "I am doing so," said R. Judah, "but they will not go". The man turned his head away and said: "This man has not yet plucked the hairs from the head of his Master, nor shorn the Matron." R. Judah followed him three miles asking him to explain, but he would not, so that R. Judah was greatly perturbed. One day he fell asleep under a tree and dreamt that he saw four wings outstretched and R. Simeon ascending on them with a scroll of the Law, and also with all manner of books containing hidden expositions and Agadahs. They all ascended to heaven and were lost to his view. When he woke he said: 'Verily, since the death of R. Simeon wisdom has departed from the earth. Alas for the generation that has lost this precious jewel which used to illumine it and on which higher and lower beings were supported.' He came and told R. Abba, who clapped his hands on his head, saying: 'R. Simeon was the mill in which every day the goodly manna was ground. Now the mill and the manna have departed, and nothing is left of it in the world save as it were "one omerful put in a pot to be kept" (Ex. XVI, 33), that is, kept in a private place and not exposed. Who now can reveal mysteries or even know them?' R. Abba whispered to him: 'The man that you saw was assuredly Elijah, and he was not willing to reveal secrets in order that you may appreciate the worth of R. Simeon, and that his generation may weep for him.' He said to him: 'He indeed deserves to be wept. Woe is me that I did not depart this life with those three who died in the sacred chamber of R. Simeon, so as not to behold this generation that has been laid low.' He then said to him: 'Master, tell me. It is written: "And they shall take the gold and the blue and the purple and the scarlet and the fine linen" (Ex. XXVIII, 5). Why is there no mention here of silver, seeing that silver was also brought for an offering (v. Ex. XXV, 3)?' He replied: 'You might ask the same question with regard to copper, which also is mentioned in one place and not in the other. As the Sacred Lamp has revealed the answer, I also may reveal it.' He then discoursed as follows. 'It is written: "Mine is the silver and mine is the gold, saith the Lord" (Haggai II, 8). On many occasions we have pondered over the question, what holiness is there in these priestly garments? We have, however, been taught that there is holiness in every place, and that these garments are after the supernal pattern, as we have learnt: "There is a High Priest above and a high priest below, raiment of honour above and raiment of honour below." As for the omission of silver and copper, these were assigned to another place, as it is written, "All the pillars of the court round about shall be filleted with silver", and again, "and their sockets of brass" (Ex. XXVII, 17). These were the instruments for the service of the Tabernacle; but this raiment of honour was only to be used by the High Priest and by no other.'

***

AND THE TIME DREW NEAR THAT ISRAEL MUST DIE. R. Judah said: 'Alas, for the ignorance of mankind! They see not, neither do they hear, [217b] nor know that every day the voice of a herald goes forth and resounds through two hundred and fifty worlds. We have learnt that when the herald goes forth one of these worlds shakes and trembles, and there issue from it two birds whose abode is beneath the tree wherein is the appearance of life and death, one towards the South and the other towards the North, one when the day dawns and one when it departs. Both proclaim what they hear from the herald. They then desire to return to their own place aloft, but their feet slip in the hollow of the great abyss and they are fastened there till midnight. Then the herald proclaims, and the sons of men are also "snared like birds caught in the trap".' R. Judah said: 'The day when a man's feet are caught and his time approaches to die is called "the day of the Lord", because then his spirit returns to Him. We have learnt that at that time a holy Crown, to wit, the seventh, is entrusted with his spirit, or, if he comes from the side of Might (Geburah) the eighth Crown; beyond that his days cannot be prolonged, as it says, "yet is their pride and labour but sorrow" (Ps. XC, 10); where there is no foundation the building cannot be firm.' R. Judah said: 'Happy are the righteous when God is pleased to take back their spirit to Himself. But if a man is not adjudged worthy, woe to his spirit, which has to be purified and to be prepared before it can be drawn to the Body of the King; and if it is not prepared, woe to it that it must roll about "like a stone in a sling" (cf. I Sam.). Further, we have learnt: "If the soul is worthy, great is the bliss reserved for it in the other world, as it is written, "No eye hath seen save thine, O Lord, what thou wilt do for him that trusts in thee" (Is. LXIV, 3).' R. Jose said: 'When a man's appointed time draws near, proclamation is made concerning him for thirty days, and even the birds of the heaven announce his doom; and if he is virtuous, his coming is announced for thirty days among the righteous in the Garden of Eden. We have learnt that during those thirty days his soul departs from him every night and ascends to the other world and sees its place there, and during those thirty days the man has not the same consciousness or control of his soul as previously.' R. Judah said: 'From the first arrival of those thirty days a man's shadow becomes faint and his form is not outlined clearly on the ground.'

R. Isaac one day sat himself at R. Judah's door in great sadness. The latter coming out and finding him in this condition said to him: 'What is the matter to-day?' He replied: 'I have come to ask you three things. One is that whenever you repeat any of my expositions of the Torah you should give them in my name. The second is that you should train my son Joseph in the Torah; and the third is that you should go every seven days and pray over my grave.' Said R. Judah: 'What makes you think you are going to die ?' He answered: 'My soul has lately been leaving me in the night and not enlightening me with dreams as it used to do. Furthermore, when I bow down in the course of my prayers, I notice that my shadow does not appear on the wall, and I imagine the reason to be that the herald has gone forth and made proclamation regarding me.' R. Judah replied: 'I will carry out your requests. But I will ask you also [218a] to reserve a place for me by your side in the other world, as we were together in this.' R. Isaac wept and said: 'I beg of you not to leave me for the rest of my days.' They then went to R. Simeon, whom they found studying the Torah. Raising his eyes, R. Simeon saw R. Isaac and the Angel of Death running and dancing before him, so going to the door, he took R. Isaac by the hand and said: 'I ordain that he who is wont to enter shall enter and he who is not wont shall not enter.' Thereupon R. Isaac and R. Judah entered and the Angel of Death was kept outside. R. Simeon looked at R. Isaac and saw that his time had not yet come, and that he had respite till the eighth hour of the day, so he made him sit down before him and study the Torah. R. Simeon then said to his son R. Eleazar: 'Sit by the door and speak with no one, and if anyone wants to come in, swear to him that he may not.' He then said to R. Isaac: 'Have you seen to-day the image of your father? For so we have learnt, that at the hour of a man's departure from the world, his father and his relatives gather round him, and he sees them and recognizes them, and likewise all with whom he associated in this world, and they accompany his soul to the place where it is to abide.' R. Isaac replied: 'So far I have not seen.' R. Simeon then arose and said: 'Sovereign of the Universe! R. Isaac is well known among us, and he is one of the seven eyes of the world here. Now that I hold him, give him to me.' A voice then went forth and said: 'The throne of his Master is near the wings of R. Simeon. Lo, he is thine, and he shall accompany thee when thou goest in to abide on thy throne.' R. Eleazar now saw the Angel of Death coming up, and said to him: 'The doom of death cannot fall in the place where R. Simeon is.' R. Simeon then said to his son: 'Come in here and take hold of R. Isaac, since I see that he is afraid.' R. Eleazar did so, and R. Simeon turned round and began to study. R. Isaac then fell asleep and saw his father in a dream. He said to him: 'My son, happy is thy portion both in this world and in the world to come. For among the leaves of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden there is placed a great tree, mighty in both worlds, which is R. Simeon, son of Yohai, and he shelters thee with his boughs.' Said R. Isaac to him: 'Father, what is my portion there?' He replied: 'Three days ago they roofed in thy chamber and prepared for thee, placing windows on all four sides to let light in upon thee, so that when I saw thy place I rejoiced, and said: Happy is thy portion; save that thy son has not yet learnt sufficient Torah. And behold now, twelve righteous Companions were eager to visit thee, and when we were on the point of departing a voice went forth through all worlds saying "Ye companions that stand here, be proud of R. Simeon, for he has made a request and it has been granted to him." [3] Nor is this all, for there are here seventy crowned places belonging to him, and every place has doors opening to seventy worlds, and every world is open to seventy channels, and every channel is open to seventy supernal crowns, and from there paths are opened out to the Ancient and Inscrutable One, to give a view of that supernal delight which illumines and beatifies all, as it says, "to see the pleasantness of the Lord and to visit his temple".' Said R. Isaac: 'Father, how long am I granted to be in this world?' He answered: 'I am not permitted to tell, nor is this made known to a man. But in the great feast of R. Simeon, thou shalt prepare his table.' R. Isaac then awoke, his face full of smiles. R. Simeon, observing him, said: 'You have heard something, have you not?' 'Assuredly,' he replied; and he then told him his dream, and prostrated himself before him. It is related that from that day [218b] R. Isaac diligently taught his son the Torah and always had him with him. When he went in to R. Simeon, he used to leave his son outside, and when he sat before R. Simeon he applied to himself the verse: "O Lord, I am oppressed, be thou my surety" (Is. XXXVIII, 14).

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

R. Isaac once questioned R. Simeon with regard to the verse, "a joyful mother of children", saying: 'I know what is meant by the mother, but who are the children?' R. Simeon answered: 'There are two children to God, one male and one female. The male he gave to Jacob, as it is written: "Israel is my son, my firstborn" (Ex. IV, 22). The female he gave to Abraham. The mother sits on the young and gives them suck; whence the precept, "Thou shalt not take the mother with the young." Our teachers have said: "A man should beware of sinfulness below lest thereby the mother should be parted from the children." But when men repent and act virtuously then the mother returns and shelters the young, and this is called "repentance" (t'shubah, lit. returning). Then, too, it can be said, "the mother of the children is joyful". Hence a man should not cease from propagating his kind till he has a son and a daughter.' R. Isaac was not yet satisfied. 'The righteous', he said, 'desire no more than to "behold the pleasantness of the Lord" (Ps. XXVII, 4).' R. Simeon answered: 'It is all one, since this pleasantness comes from the Holy Ancient One to this heaven, and the desire of the righteous is fixed on that.' R. Simeon further said: 'It is written: "He hath cast down the earth from the heavens" (Lam. II, 1). For when the Almighty resolved to destroy the Temple and to banish Israel among the nations, He removed from before Him the upper earth, and when that earth was put away from Him, then the lower earth was laid waste and Israel were banished among the nations; whereupon the Community of Israel said: "My mother's sons were incensed against me" (S. S. I, 6), and that was the cause of my downfall.'

R. Jose was once walking with R. Hiya the son of Rab, and as they were going along he said to him: 'Do you see something over there?' 'I see a man in the river', he answered, 'and a bird on [219b] his head with a piece of flesh which it is eating and tearing with its claws. The man is crying out something, but I cannot catch what he says.' Said the other: 'Let us go nearer and listen.' He said: 'I am afraid.' 'Why,' he said, 'do you think that this is a man here? This is some hint of Wisdom which God is sending us.' So they went nearer and they heard him saying: 'Crown, crown, two sons are kept outside, and there will be no peace or rest until the bird is thrown down in Caesarea.' R. Jose wept and said: 'Verily the Galuth is drawn out, and therefore the birds of heaven will not depart until the dominion of the idolatrous nations is removed from the earth, which will not be till the day when God will bring the world to judgement.' As they went on they heard a voice say: 'Let the flame of fire advance to chastise', whereupon a flame came forth and burnt the bird. Said R. Jose, 'God only banished Israel when there was no longer faith among them, for then, if one may say so, He was entirely forgotten.' R. Hiya said: 'What is the meaning of the verse: "He hath swallowed up death for ever" (Is. XXV, 8)?' He said: 'When God shall arouse His right hand, then death shall be banished from the world. But He will not arouse His right hand till Israel give the impetus, to wit, by the Torah. At that time "the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly" (Ps. CXVIII, 16), and "I shall not die but live" (Ibid. 17). We have learnt that when God is pleased with a righteous man and the herald makes proclamation concerning him thirty days among the righteous in the Garden of Eden, then all the righteous rejoice and go and crown his place in preparation for his coming to take up his abode among them. But if he is sinful, then the herald proclaims concerning him thirty days in Gehinnom, and all the sinners are sad and exclaim: "Woe, that a new punishment is to be executed on so-and-so", and the demons are ready to meet him. Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbour!' Then they all exclaim: "Woe to the wicked, it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given to him' (Is. III, 11).' R. Isaac said: 'The word rat (ill) in this passage refers especially to him who wilfully spills his seed, like Er the son of Judah. Such a one is thrust down lower than all the others in that world. All others have a chance to ascend, but not he. Is he even worse, it may be asked, than a murderer? Even so, because a murderer kills another man's children, but he kills his own, and he spills very much blood. Hence it is written of such a one particularly: "And that which he did was evil in the sight of the Lord" (Gen. XXXVIII, 10).' R. Judah said: 'Every sin admits of repentance barring this, and every sinner may hope to see the face of the Shekinah barring this one.' R. Isaac said: 'Happy are the righteous in this world and in the world to come; of them it is written: "And thy people are all righteous, they shall for ever inherit the land" (Is. LX, 21).' [5] [221b]

***

AND THE DAYS DREW NEAR FOR ISRAEL TO DIE. R. Hiya said: 'Why is the name Israel used here in connection with his death, whereas above it says, "And Jacob lived, etc."?' R. Jose said in reply: 'Note here the word "days", which is somewhat peculiar, since a man only dies on one day, in fact, in one instant. The reason, however, is, as we have learnt, that when God desires to take back a man's spirit, all the days that he has lived in this world pass in review before Him. Happy, then, is the man whose days draw near before the King without reproach, not one of them being rejected because a sin was committed thereon. Hence the term "drawing near" is used of the righteous, because their days draw near before the King without reproach. But woe to the wicked whose days cannot so draw near, because they all passed in sin, wherefore they are not recorded above, so that of them it is written: "The way of the wicked is like thick darkness, they know not on what they stumble" (Prov. IV, 19). [222a] So here it says that the days of Israel "drew near", that is, without reproach and with unalloyed joy; and hence the name "Israel" is used, because it points to a greater perfection than the name Jacob.' R. Jose said: 'There are some righteous whose days when enumerated are put afar from the King, and others whose days are brought near to the King. It is they whose portion is blessed, and Israel was one of them.'

***

AND HE CALLED HIS SON JOSEPH. R. Abba said: 'Joseph is called Jacob's son par excellence, because, as we have learnt, when Potiphar's wife tempted him, he lifted up his eyes and saw the image of his father (as it says, "and there was none of the men of the house there within" (Gen. XXXIX, 11), as much as to say, "but there was someone else"), and he thereupon resisted and withdrew. Hence it was that when Jacob came to bless his sons he said: "I know, my son, I know" (Gen. XLVIII, 19), repeating the word, as much as to say, "I know of the time when you proved in your own body that you were my son, and I also know that, as you say, this is the elder." Another explanation why he called him specially "my son" is that they closely resembled one another, so that whoever saw Joseph could testify that he was the son of Jacob.' R. Jose said that another reason was that he supported him and his family in his old age.

The reason why Jacob asked Joseph to bury him, and not any other of his sons, was that only Joseph had the power to take him out of Egypt. R. Jose said: 'Since Jacob knew that his descendants would be in bondage in Egypt, why did he not have himself buried there in order that his merit might shield them, which would have shown true parental solicitude? The truth is that, as tradition tells us, when Jacob was about to go down to Egypt he was afraid lest his descendants might be lost among the peoples and lest God might remove His Presence from him. Hence God said to him: "Fear not to go down to Egypt, for I will there make of thee a great nation" (Gen. XLVI, 3), and then, "I will go down with thee into Egypt" (Ibid. 4.). Jacob was still afraid lest he should be buried there and not with his fathers, so God said to him: "I will also surely bring thee up again" (Ibid.), to wit, to be buried in the grave of thy ancestors. Hence he had various reasons for desiring to be taken out of Egypt. One was that the Egyptians should not make a god of him, since he foresaw that God would punish their gods. Another was because he knew that God would still keep his Presence among his descendants in the galuth. A third reason was that his body might rest in company with those of his ancestors, to be numbered with them and not with the sinners of Egypt, since, as we have learnt, Jacob reproduced the beauty of Adam, and his form was sublime and holy like that of the holy throne. Esoterically speaking, there is no separation among the patriarchs, and hence he said: "when I sleep with my fathers".'

Another reason why Jacob called Joseph "my son" was because he was from the first more intent on begetting him than any other of his sons, his whole thought having been devoted to Rachel. (222b) Said R. Simeon: 'Man should take good heed not to sin or to transgress the will of his Master, because all his actions are recorded in a book and are reviewed by the holy King and revealed before Him; even his thoughts are present before God and do not escape Him. Now on the night when Jacob went in to Leah and she gave him the tokens which he had given to Rachel, he really thought she was Rachel, and God, to whom all secrets are revealed, allowed that thought to have effect, and so the birthright of Reuben was transferred to Joseph, that having been Jacob's first seed, and so Rachel came into her own inheritance. This, too, is why Leah called his name simply Reuben (= see a son) and not Reubeni (= see my son). We have learnt: "God knew that Jacob had no intent to sin before Him, and that he did not allow his thoughts to dwell on any other woman at that instant like the sinful, and therefore it is written: "And the sons of Jacob were twelve" (Gen. XXXV, 22).' For the sons of the sinners who act in this way are called by another name, which is known among the Companions. Hence "Jacob called to his son Joseph" -- his real son, his son at the beginning and at the end.'

***

PUT, I PRAY THEE, THY HAND UNDER MY THIGH. R. Jose said: 'Jacob made him swear by the sign of the covenant which was stamped on his flesh, since the patriarchs assigned more importance to this than to anything else, and this covenant, too, is symbolized by Joseph.' R. Simeon said: 'We find the formula, "put thy hand under my thigh", in connection with both Abraham and Jacob, but not with Isaac, the reason being that Esau issued from him. Again, we may suppose Jacob's idea to have been: "Swear to me by that holy impress which has brought holy and faithful seed into the world and which has ever been preserved from defilement that you will not bury me among those unclean who have never guarded it, and of whom it is written, "whose flesh is the flesh of asses and their neighing the neighing of horses" (Ezek. XXIII, 20).' Why, it may be asked, was Joseph, who also guarded the covenant, buried among them? The answer is that it was to meet a special emergency, like the appearance of God to Ezekiel outside the Holy Land. God saw that if Joseph were removed from there, the Israelites would sink under the bondage; therefore He said: "Let his burial place be here in a spot which will not be defiled (for Joseph's coffin was thrown into the river), and so the Israelites will be able to endure the captivity.' R. Jose said: 'Jacob saw that he was fitted in every way to form part of the holy chariot like his fathers, but he thought it impossible that his body should be attached to his fathers if he was buried in Egypt.'

Seeing that the patriarchs were privileged to be buried in the cave of Machpelah with their wives, [223a] why was Jacob buried with Leah and not with Rachel, who was the "foundation of the house"? The reason is that Leah bore more children from the holy stock. R. Judah said: 'Leah used to go out every day to the highway and weep for Jacob when she learnt that he was righteous, and prayed on his behalf, but Rachel never did so. Hence Leah was privileged to be buried with him, while Rachel's grave was set by the highway. The esoteric reason, as we have affirmed, is that the one typifies the disclosed and the other the undisclosed. Tradition tells us that the virtuous Leah prayed with many tears that she might be the portion of Jacob and not of the wicked Esau. Hence we have learnt that whoever prays with tears before the Almighty can procure the cancellation of any chastisement that has been decreed against him; for so Leah, though she had been assigned by divine decree to Esau, yet by her prayer succeeded in procuring the preference for Jacob and saved herself from being given to Esau.'

R. Isaac said: 'It is written: "And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the East" (I Kings V, 9). What is the wisdom of the children of the East? Tradition tells us that it was the wisdom which they inherited from Abraham. For we read that Abraham "gave all that he had unto Isaac" (Gen. XXV, 5): this refers to the higher wisdom, which he possessed through the knowledge of the holy name of God. "But to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had Abraham gave gifts"; to wit, certain information about the lower crowns, and he settled them in "the east country" (Ibid.); and from that source the children of the East inherited wisdom.'

R. Simeon was once travelling from Cappadocia to Lydda accompanied by R. Abba and R. Judah. He was mounted and they were on foot. Tired with keeping pace with him, R. Abba exclaimed: 'Verily, "they that go after the Lord shall roar like a lion" (Hos. XI, 10).' R. Simeon then dismounted, saying: 'Truly, wisdom is not acquired by a man save when he sits and rests, as it says of Moses that he "sat on the mountain forty days" (Deut. IX, 9).' So they all sat down. R. Abba then asked him: 'What is the difference between the wisdom of Solomon and the wisdom of the children of the east and the wisdom of Egypt, mentioned in the same verse?' He replied: 'The secret of Solomon's wisdom was in the name of the moon when blessed from every side. In his days the moon was magnified and reached her fullness. A thousand mountains rose before her, and she blew them away with a puff. A thousand mighty rivers flowed before her, and she swallowed them at a draught. Her nails reached out in a thousand and seventy directions, [223b] and her hands in twenty-four thousand, so that nothing could escape her. Thousands of bucklers clung to her hair. From between her feet went forth a youth [6] who stretched from one end of the world to the other with sixty clubs of fire, and who is also called "Enoch son of Jered." He was called "son of Jered" (lit. descent) in reference to the ten stages by which the Shekinah descended to the earth. Under him are stationed many Hayyoth, under which again is fastened the hair of the moon, which is called "the knobs of the sceptre". Her hands and feet take hold of it like a strong lion holding his prey. Her nails are those who call to mind the sins of men and inscribe them with all rigour and exactness. The offscourings of her nails are all those who do not cleave to the Body of the King and suck from the side of uncleanness, when the moon begins to diminish. Now, after Solomon had inherited the moon in its fullness, he also desired to inherit it in its defective state, and therefore he sought to acquire the knowledge of spirits and demons, so as to inherit the moon on every side. As for the wisdom of Egypt, this is the lower wisdom which is called "the handmaid behind the millstones", and which was also included in the wisdom of Solomon.' Said R. Abba: 'How thankful am I that I asked you this question, since I have received so illuminating an answer.' R. Simeon said further: 'With regard to Solomon's words, "What profit hath man in all his labour?" (Eccl. I, 3), these do not apply to labour in the study of the Torah, since the statement is qualified by the words, "wherein he laboureth under the sun", and the study of the Torah is above the sun.' Said R. Hiya: 'Study of the Torah which is prosecuted for worldly ends is also accounted "under the sun", as it does not ascend aloft'.

R. Eleazar said: 'Though a man should live a thousand years, yet at the time of his departure from the world it seems to him as if he had only lived a single day.'

***

WHEN I SLEEP WITH MY FATHERS. Happy is the lot of the patriarchs that the Almighty has made them a holy chariot above and has taken delight in them to be crowned with them; hence it is written, "Only in thy fathers the Lord took delight" (Deut. X, 15). R. Eleazar said: [224a] 'Jacob knew that he was to be crowned in his fathers and his fathers with him. Hence we have learnt regarding the graven letters that in the letter shin there are three strokes, one on one side and one on the other side and one combining them, and this is the allusion in the verse: "And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall pass through from end to end" (Ex. XXVI, 28). Hence Jacob said: "I shall lie with my fathers".' R. Judah said: 'How deaf are men to the warnings of the Torah, and how blind are they to their own condition that they are not aware that on the day when a human being comes forth into the world, all the days that are assigned to him come forward and fly about the world and descend and warn the man, each day in its turn. And when a man has been so warned and yet sins against his Master, then the day on which he sinned ascends in shame and bears witness and stands by itself outside, and so it remains until the man repents. If he becomes virtuous it returns to its place, but if not, then it goes down and joins the outside spirit and returns to its house, and assumes the exact shape of that man in order to plague him and dwells with him continually in his house. If he is virtuous it proves a good companion, and if not, an evil companion. In either case, such days are missing from the full number and are not counted with the others. Woe to the man who has diminished the number of his days before the Almighty, and has not left days for himself with which to crown himself in the other world, and to approach the Holy King. For if he is worthy he ascends by means of those days, and they become a glorious vesture for his soul, those days in which he acted virtuously and did not sin. Woe to him that has diminished his days above, since when he comes to be clad in his days, those days that he spoilt by his sins are lacking, and his vesture is therefore defective; all the more so if there are many of them and he has nothing at all with which to clothe himself in the other world. Then woe to him and woe to his soul, since he is punished in Gehinnom for those days, many days for each, because when he departed from this world he had no days with which to clothe himself and no garment wherewith to cover himself. Happy are the righteous whose days are all stored up with the Holy King, and form glorious vestures with which they may robe themselves in the other world. This is the esoteric explanation of the verse, "and they knew that they were naked" (Gen. III, 7), that is to say, that the glorious raiment made of those days had been impaired and none of them was left to clothe themselves with. And so it was until Adam repented and God pardoned him and made him other garments, but not of his days, as it is written: "And God made Adam and his wife coats of skins and clothed them" (Gen. III, 21). Observe that of Abraham it says that "he came into days" (Gen. XXIV, 1), because when he departed this world he literally came into possession of his former days and was invested with them, his robe of glory being full and complete. Job, on the other hand, said of himself: "Naked came I out of my mother's womb and naked shall I return thither" (Job. I, 21), because no material was left wherewith to clothe himself. Our teachers have said: "Happy the righteous whose days are without reproach and remain for the world to come, so that after death they are all joined together and formed into [224b] robes of glory through which they are privileged to enjoy the delights of the future world, and in which they are destined to come to life again. But woe for the sinners whose days are defective, so that there is not left from them wherewith to cover themselves when they depart from the world." We have further learnt that all the virtuous who have acquired a robe of glory through their days are crowned in the future world with crowns like those of the patriarchs, from the stream that flows continually into the Garden of Eden, and of them it is written, "the Lord shall lead thee continually and satisfy thy soul in dry places" (Is. LVIII, 11), but the wicked who have not acquired such a garment will be "like the heath in the desert that shall not see when good cometh, but inhabits the parched places in the wilderness" (Jer. XVII, 6).' R. Isaac said: 'Of all men Jacob had the fairest prospect, because he was entitled to a robe on account both of his own days and of those of his fathers; hence he said: "I shall lie with my fathers."' R. Judah said: 'When Jacob went in to his father to obtain a blessing, he was wearing the garments of Esau; nevertheless the text says that Isaac smelt his garments (Gen. XXVII, 27), to indicate that he caught the odour of his raiment in the future world, and it was therefore that he blessed him. Hence, too, he said: "See the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed", the reference being to the field of holy apples, in which every day drops dew from the place called heaven; hence he continued: "God give thee of the dew of the heaven." It has been taught that fifteen odours ascend every day from the Garden of Eden to perfume those precious garments in the other world.'

R. Judah asked how many garments there are. R. Eleazar said: 'The authorities differ on this point, but in truth there are three. One is for clothing the spirit (ruah) in the terrestrial Garden of Eden. A second, the most precious of all, is for investing the inner soul (neshamah) when among the bundle of the living in the circle of the King. The third is an outer garment which appears and disappears, and with which the vital soul (nefesh) is clothed. It flits about the world and on Sabbaths and New Moons it attaches itself to the spirit in the terrestrial paradise and learns from it certain things which it goes and makes known in this world. It has been taught that on Sabbaths and New Moons the soul (nefesh) makes two visits. First it joins the spirit among the perfumes of the terrestrial paradise, and then in company with the spirit it joins the higher soul in the "bundle of the living", and feasts itself on the glorious radiance coming from both sides. This is hinted in the expression "The Lord shall satisfy thy soul in bright places" (Is. LVIII, 11), the plural including both the outer radiance of the place of the spirit and the radiance within radiance which they enjoy by associating with the higher soul in the "bundle of the living".'

Said R. Simeon: 'When I visit the Companions in Babylon they come together to hear me, and I discourse to them openly, but they go and seal up my teaching under an iron padlock which makes it inaccessible to all. How often have I taught them the ways of the Garden of the King and the doctrine of the King! How often have I taught them all the degrees of the righteous in the future world! But they are all frightened to repeat [225a] these things and only mumble them, on which account they are called "mumblers". However, I account this fear in them creditable, because they are denied the air and the spirit of the Holy Land and inhale the air and the spirit of an alien region. Further, too, the rainbow has appeared in their time, [7] and hence they are not worthy to behold the presence of Elijah, not to mention others. Their good fortune is that I am still alive to be the ensign and support of the world, for in my days the world will not be afflicted and the punishment of heaven will not fall upon it. After me there will not arise a generation like this one, and the world will be left without a protector, and insolence will be rampant both above and below -- above on account of the insolence of those below, and their shamelessness. Mankind will cry and none will take heed; they will turn to every side and find no remedy. But one remedy there will be in the world and no more, to wit, in the place where there will be men devoting themselves to the study of the Torah, and where there will be a Scroll of the Law free from all error. When this will be taken out, the upper and lower denizens will bestir themselves, especially if the Holy Name is written in it in the fitting manner. As I have already taught, woe to the generation the members of which, high and low, do not rise when the Scroll of the Law is displayed. Who shall come to its aid when the world is in distress and requires protection? Then it is necessary more than ever to display the Scroll of the Law. For when the world is in distress, and men go to the cemeteries to offer supplication, all the dead take note of the Scroll, since the soul goes and informs the spirit that the Scroll of the Law is in captivity through the distress of the world, and the living have come to supplicate. Then the spirit informs the higher soul (neshamah) and the higher soul informs the Almighty, who then takes note and has pity on the world, all because the Scroll of the Law has been banished from its place, and the living have come to supplicate by the graves of the dead. Alas for the generation that has need to remove the Scroll of the Law from one place to another, even from one synagogue to another, because they have nothing else to which to turn. Not all men know that the Shekinah at its last exile did not withdraw to heaven, but to "the wilderness, to an inn of travellers" (Jer. IX, 1), and that since then it is always to be found in the place where Israel is particularly in distress, and also wherever the Scroll is removed and high and low rise up before it.'

We have learnt that the soul is linked with the body twelve months in the grave, and they are judged together (this, however, does not apply to the souls of the righteous, as we have laid down), and it is present in the grave and is aware of the sufferings of the body. It also knows the sufferings of the living, but does not intervene on their behalf. After twelve months it is clad in a certain vesture, and goes to and fro in the world, learning certain things from the spirit and interesting itself on behalf of the living who are in distress. But this is only when there is among them a virtuous man whose merit is properly recognized by them. For so we have learnt, that when a virtuous man is left in the world, he is known both among the living and the dead, and when the world is in great distress and he cannot deliver it, he makes the trouble known to the dead. And if there is not [225b] such a one, then they take out the Scroll of the Law, and high and low accompany it, and it is incumbent on all at that time to do penance, for otherwise heaven will punish them. Even the spirits of the Garden of Eden intercede for them for the sake of the Scroll, as has been affirmed. Said R. Judah: 'Little do men know how God extends His mercy to them at all times and seasons. Three times a day a spirit enters the cave of Machpelah and breathes on the graves of the patriarchs, bringing them healing and strength. That spirit distils dew from on high, from the head of the King, the place of the supernal fathers, and when it reaches the lower patriarchs they awake. That dew, as we have learnt, comes down by degrees till it reaches the lower Garden of Eden, and becomes impregnated with its perfumes. Then a spirit containing two other spirits arises and traverses the spice-beds, and enters the door of the cave. Then the patriarchs awake, they and their spouses, and supplicate on behalf of their descendants. If the world is in distress on account of its sins, and the patriarchs sleep, the dew not descending from on high, then the remedy is to take out the Scroll of the Law. Then the soul tells the spirit, and the spirit tells the higher soul, and the higher soul tells God. God then takes His seat on the throne of mercy, and there issues from the Ancient Holy One a stream of dew of bdellium, which flows to the head of the King, so that the fathers are blessed. Then the dew flows to those sleepers, and all are blessed together, and God has mercy on the world. We have learnt that God does not show mercy to the world till He has informed the patriarchs, and for their sakes the world is blessed.' Said R. Jose: 'Assuredly this is so. And I have further found in the Book of King Solomon, that one which was called the "counsellor of all wisdom" (and Rab Hamnuna also said that the same thing had been revealed to him), that Rachel achieves more than all of them by standing at the parting of the ways at all times when the world is in need. This is symbolized by the fact that the ark and the mercy-seat and the Cherubim were in the territory of Benjamin, who was born by the wayside, the Shekinah being over all.'

***
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 28795
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

PreviousNext

Return to Ancien Regime

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest