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

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Part 2 of 4

AND ISRAEL BOWED HIMSELF DOWN UPON THE BED'S HEAD. The "bed's head" is the Shekinah. Said R. Simeon: 'Not at all. The bed stands for the Shekinah, as in the verse, "Behold, it is the litter of Solomon" (S. S. III, 7). The "head of the bed" is the Foundation of the World who is the head of the sacred couch; and "that which is upon the head" is (the supernal) Israel who is established at the head of the bed. Hence, Israel bowed down to his appropriate grade. At this time he was not yet ill, as we see from the next verse, but because he knew that at the time he would rise to a supernal holy grade to become a perfect throne, therefore he bowed down to that supernal throne, the completion of the great and mighty tree, which was called by his name, to "Him who is over the Head of the bed".' R. Judah said: 'We have a dictum that if a man dies in foreign soil and [226a] his body is buried in the Holy Land, to him may be applied the verse, "And ye came and defiled my land and my inheritance ye made an abomination" (Jer. II, 7). How, then, could Jacob ask to be buried in the grave of his fathers, seeing that he was dying on alien soil?' R. Judah said: 'Jacob was different, because the Shekinah was closely attached to him. Hence it is written, "I will go down with thee to Egypt" (Gen. XLVI, 4), to wit, to abide with thee in captivity; "and I will also surely bring thee up again" (Ibid.), to attach thy soul to Me, and to obtain burial for thy body in the graves of thy fathers -- and this even though he departed life on an alien soil. He was further promised that Joseph should put his hand on his eyes, the reason being that God knew that he was the first-born in intent, and that he was most attached to Joseph.'

What was the idea of this promise of putting his hands on his eyes? R. Jose said that it was as a sign of honour to Jacob, and to inform him that Joseph was alive and would be with him at his death. Said R. Hizkiah: 'I have learnt something about this which I hardly like to disclose, showing how wisdom is embodied in a common practice.' R. Abba clapped him on the shoulder, saying: 'Speak out and do not be afraid; in the days of R. Simeon there is no need for secrecy.' He then said: 'I have seen in the chapter of R. Jesse the Elder regarding customs, that if a man has a son, when he dies the son ought to put dust on his eyes at the time of his burial, and this is a mark of respect to him, being a sign that the world is now concealed from him, but his son inherits the world in his place. For the human eye represents the world with its various colours. The outer ring of white corresponds to the sea of Oceanus which surrounds the whole world. The next colour represents the land which is surrounded by the sea. A third colour in the middle of the eye corresponds to Jerusalem, which is in the centre of the world. Finally there is the pupil of the eye, which reflects the beholder and is the most precious part of all. This corresponds to Zion, which is the central point of the universe, in which the reflection of the whole world can be seen, and where is the abode of the Shekinah, which is the beauty and the cynosure of the world. Thus the eye is the heritage of the world, and so as the father leaves it the son inherits it.' Said R. Abba : 'You are quite right. But there is still a deeper significance in the practice, although men do not know it. For when a man departs from the world, his soul is still enclosed in him, and before his eyes are closed they see certain recondite things, as we have explained in connection with the verse, "For a man shall not see me and live", indicating that they see things in their death which they do not see in their life-time. Then it behoves those who are present to place their hands on his eyes and close them, and, as we have learnt in connection with customs and manners, if he has a son, it behoves the son in the first place to do so, as it is written, "And Joseph shall put his hand on thy eyes." The reason for the closing of the eyes is because some sight the reverse of holy might present itself, and it is not meet that the eyes which have just beheld a holy vision should now dwell on a sight of a different character. A further reason is that the soul is still attached to him in the house, and if the eye is left open, with that unholy vision still resting upon it, everything it looks upon is cursed; and this is not respectful to the eye, to allow it to gaze upon anything improper. The best sign of respect, therefore, is that a man's eyes should be closed by the hand of the son whom he has left behind him.'

For seven days the soul goes to and fro between the house and the grave, mourning for the body, and three times a day the soul and the body are chastised together, though no one perceives it. After that the body is thrust out and the soul is purified [226b] in Gehinnom, whence it goes forth roaming about the world and visiting its grave until it acquires a vestment. After twelve months the whole is at rest; the body reposes in the dust and the soul is clad in its luminous vestment. The spirit regales itself in the Garden of Eden, and the higher soul (neshamah) ascends to the place where all delights are concentrated; and all three come together again at certain times. Alas for men that they look not to their foundation, and neglect the precepts of the Torah. For some of these precepts fashion a glorious garment above, and some a glorious garment below, and some a glorious garment in this world; and man requires them all. And they are made literally out of his days, as we have explained. R. Judah the Elder one day saw in a dream his own image illumined and radiating brightly in all directions. 'What is that?' he said; and the answer came: 'It is thy garment for thy habitation here'; whereupon he was in great joy. R. Judah said: 'Every day the spirits of the righteous sit in rows in the Garden of Eden arrayed in their robes and praise God gloriously, as it is written: "Verily the righteous shall praise thy name; the upright shall sit before thee."'

R. Abba said: 'When Jacob "bowed down to Him that is over the bed", as we have explained, and knew that he had reached the highest grade, and that his grade was on high with that of his fathers, and that he was the consummation of the whole, his heart was strengthened and he rejoiced in God's favour towards him. Hence it says, "And Jacob strengthened himself."'

R. Judah said: 'We learn in the Mishnah that judgement is pronounced on the world at four seasons: at Passover, in respect of produce; at Pentecost, in respect of fruit-trees; on New Year, when "all the denizens of the world pass before Him like a flock of sheep"; and on Tabernacles, when the rainfall is determined. This we have esoterically explained as follows. Passover is the time for the decision with regard to cereals, because on Passover Israel began to enter into the holy portion of the Almighty and to remove from themselves the leaven which symbolizes the powers who are appointed over the idol-worshipping nations and who are called "strange gods". On Pentecost judgement is passed in respect of the fruit of the tree: this is the great and mighty tree which rears itself aloft. On New Year all pass before Him like a flock of sheep, because New Year (lit. head of the year) is the head of the King. On Tabernacles judgement is pronounced in respect of water, because this festival is the beginning of the right hand of the King, and therefore the rejoicing of water is universally diffused.' [227a] R. Jose said: 'If we look closely, we find that in these periods both the three patriarchs and David can be found, and in these the world is judged. But in truth every day books are open and acts are recorded, though no one notices or inclines his ear, and the Torah testifies against man every day and a voice cries aloud: "Who is simple, let him turn in here", but no one listens. We have learnt that when a man rises in the morning witnesses stand by him and adjure him, but he pays no need. His higher soul adjures him at all times and seasons. If he heeds her, it is well, but if not, then the books are open and the deeds recorded.' R. Hiya said: 'Happy are the righteous who have no fear of judgement, neither in this world nor in the future world, as it is written: "But the righteous is confident like a lion" (Prov. XXVIII, 1), and again, "the righteous shall inherit the earth" (Ps. XXXVII, 29).' R. Hizkiah, citing the verse, "And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram, etc." (Gen. XV, 12), said: 'This verse has been applied to the day of judgement, when man is removed from this world. For we have learnt that the day when man departs this world is the great day of judgement when the sun's light is withheld from the moon, as it is written, "or ever the sun be darkened" (Eccl. XII, 2). This is the holy neshamah which is withheld from man thirty days before he departs from the world. During that time he observes that he throws no shadow, the reason being that his neshamah is withheld from him. For it does not wait until he is on the point of dying, but even while he is still in his full vigour it passes out of him, and does not illumine the spirit, which in turn does not illumine the vital soul, so that his shadow no longer shows. From that day all proclaim his coming fate, even the birds of the heaven. When the spirit ceases to illumine the vital soul, the latter becomes weak and rejects food and all bodily enjoyments.' R. Judah said further: 'Also whenever a man is on a sick bed and is not able to say his prayers his neshamah leaves him, and the spirit does not illumine the soul until he is judged. If the judgement is favourable, then the neshamah returns to its place and illumines the whole. But when no trial is held, then the neshamah leaves him thirty days before his death and his shadow is withheld. We have learnt that when a man is judged above, his neshamah is brought to trial and she confesses all and testifies to all the thoughts of a man, but not to his deeds, since they are all recorded in a book. While the trial is going on, the body is in greater pain than at other times. If he is judged favourably, he obtains ease and a sweat breaks out over his body, and his neshamah returns to its place and illumines the whole; but a man never rises from his bed of sickness until he is judged above. How is it, then, it may be asked, that so many sinners and transgressors are alive and active? The reason is that God looks ahead, and if he sees that a man, though sinful now, may become virtuous subsequently, He judges him favourably, or it may be because he is destined to bear a son who will be virtuous. All God's judgements incline to beneficence, as it is written: "Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, saith the Lord God, and not rather that he should return from his way and live?" (Ezek. XVIII, 23). Sometimes, again, it is because the malady has run its course, [227b] for illnesses have a fixed period, after which they depart, whether from the righteous or the wicked; and all is done in justice, as we have said.'


AND ISRAEL SAW THE SONS OF JOSEPH, AND HE SAID: WHO ARE THESE? This verse seems to contradict the statement a little lower down that "the eyes of Israel were dim for age, so that he could not see". What this verse really means, however, is that he saw through the Holy Spirit those later descendants of Joseph, Jeroboam and his fraternity. Jeroboam made two golden calves and said: "These are thy gods, O Israel" (1 Kings XII, 28). Hence Israel now said "Who are these", that is, who is he that will one day say "these" to idols. From this passage we learn that the righteous see into the distant future and God crowns them with His own crown. That God sees the future we learn from the verse: "And God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good" (Gen. I, 31), which means that He foresaw all that was to happen before it was commenced. In the same way all the generations of the world from one end to the other stand before Him before they come into the world, as it says, "He calleth the generations from the beginning" (Is. XLI, 4), i.e. from the Creation; all the souls that are to descend into the world stand before God before they descend in the form which they are to assume in this world, and are called by name. In the same way God shows the righteous all generations before they come into the world, as He showed them to Adam, as it is written: "This is the book of the generations of Adam" (Gen. V, I), and also to Moses, as it says: "And he showed him all the land" (Deut. XXXIV, 1), which we interpret to mean that God showed him all coming generations and leaders and prophets. So here with Israel. The words "who are these" have thus a double meaning (literal and metaphorical), and hence Joseph answered: "They are my sons whom God hath given me here." That Israel saw here through the Holy Spirit is proved by the words, "God hath let me see thy seed also", where the augmentative word "also" brings in his descendants, as we have explained.


AND HE BLESSED JOSEPH AND SAID. This statement seems inaccurate, since on reading further we find that he did not bless Joseph at all, but only his sons. R. Jose solved the difficulty by stating that in blessing the sons Jacob blessed Joseph also, since the blessing of a man's sons is his own blessing. R. Eleazar said that the object of the verb "blessed" is the particle eth, which alludes to the sign of the covenant. When Joseph said "they are my sons", Jacob blessed that place which symbolizes the Covenant that Joseph kept. In the next words, "The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk", the word God alludes to the holy Covenant, and the elder patriarchs Abraham and Isaac were literally "before" this, because that place derives nourishment and sustenance from them. Jacob continued: THE GOD (Elohim) WHICH HATH FED ME. In repeating the word Elohim, he blessed that place with a reference to Elohim Hayyim (Living God), the source of life and of blessing. On that account he mentioned himself at this point, saying, "the God who blessed me", because all blessings that flow from the source of life are first received by Jacob, and thereupon this place is blessed, and all is made dependent on the male. From here we learn that wherever blessings are to be bestowed, God should be blessed first; otherwise the blessings will not be [228a] fulfilled. The blessing which Isaac bestowed on Jacob is no exception to this rule, because he said first, "behold the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed", where the field is an allusion to that field which is the source of blessings. Note that in the morning a man should first bless God and only then give his greeting to his fellow-men.

When Jacob was about to bless Joseph's sons, he saw by the Holy Spirit that Jeroboam the son of Nebat would issue from Ephraim, and he exclaimed, "Who are these?", the word "these" (eleh) being an allusion to idols. The reason is that besides the evil serpent there is one that rides on it, and when they are joined together they are called "these", and they visit the world with all their hosts. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, is called "this", and is symbolized by the covenant of the holy imprint which is ever on a man's body. Hence we find written, "These also shall forget" (Is. XLIX, 15), and again, "For these I am weeping" (Ibid. 16), that sin being the cause to us of endless weeping; or alternatively, because this place was allowed to gain dominion over Israel and to destroy the Temple, the word "I" (ani) in this case referring to the Holy Spirit. It may be asked, on this hypothesis, what are we to make of the words "These are the words of the covenant"? The answer is that the word "these" is here also appropriate, because the words of the covenant are established by "these", since they are the abode of all curses, which await all who transgress the covenant. Similarly it is written, "These are the precepts which the Lord commanded", because the object of all the precepts is to purify man so that he should not stray from the right path and should keep far away from there. Hence, too, it is written, "These are the generations of Noah", because they included Ham the father of Canaan, who was accursed. The spirit of eleh is the "dross of gold". Aaron in the wilderness offered gold, which was his own affinity, since he was endowed with the strength of fire, and fire and gold are all one, but the unclean spirit which haunts the wilderness found at that time a place on which to fasten, and so Israel, after being freed at Mount Sinai from the primeval defilement which brought death into the world, afterwards incurred it again and brought death upon themselves and all their descendants. Hence, when Jacob saw in his mind's eye Jeroboam son of Nebat, who made an idol and said, "These are thy gods, O Israel", he trembled and said, "Who are these?" Hence when he came afterwards to bless them, he first blessed Elohi", and then blessed them from that source.

R. Judah discoursed here on the text: Then Hezekiah turned his face unto the wall and prayed unto the Lord (Is. XXXVIII, 2). He said: 'We have derived from this verse the lesson that a man in praying should stand near the wall, with nothing intervening between himself and the wall. Now the question may be asked, why does it say of Hezekiah in particular that he turned his face to the wall, and of no one else who offered prayer, though with no less devotion, as, for instance, Moses, of whom it is written that he "prayed to the Lord" (Ibid. XVII, 4), and he "cried to the Lord" (Ex. XV, 25)? [228b] The reason is as follows. Hezekiah, as tradition tells us, was at that time not married and had no children. Isaiah therefore came to him and said: "Thou shalt die and not live", i.e. as tradition explains, "thou shalt die in this world and not live in the next world". For whoever has not laboured to beget children in this world is not established in the future world, and his soul is banished thence and can nowhere find rest; and this is the punishment referred to in the Law by the words, "They shall die childless" (Lev. XX, 20). Further, the Shekinah does not rest upon him at all. Hence Hezekiah "set his face to the wall", that is to say, he made a resolution to take a wife in order that the Shekinah, which is symbolized by a wall, might rest upon him, and hence the text continues, "and he prayed unto the Lord". From here we learn that anyone who is conscious of a sin for which he means to ask forgiveness should first form a resolution to cure himself of that sin and then offer his prayer, as it is written: "Let us search and try our ways" first, and then, "turn again unto the Lord" (Lam. III, 40). So Hezekiah, recognizing his fault, set his mind to put himself right with the Shekinah, the place against which he sinned. For all females are in the shelter of the Shekinah, and it abides with one who has a wife, but not with one who has none, and therefore Hezekiah first resolved to marry, and then offered his prayer. In regard to the actual language of his prayer, the words "Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee" allude to the fact of his having kept the holy covenant without defiling it; the words "in truth and with a perfect heart" denote that he clung to all the principles of faith which are comprised under the word "truth", and the words "and have done that which is good in thy sight" indicate that in praying he always concentrated his mind upon declaring the unity of God with full conviction. Finally, Hezekiah "wept sore", because there is no door which remains closed to tears.'


THE ANGEL WHO REDEEMED ME FROM ALL EVIL. This is the angel who takes part in every deliverance. R. Eleazar said: "After Jacob had mentally carried the blessings from the lower to the upper sphere, he then drew them from the upper to the lower. Thus he first said: "The God which hath fed me", and then, having set the blessings in that place, he said "the angel who redeemed me".' R. Eleazar further said: 'It is written: "For the Cherubim spread forth their wings over the place of the ark" (I Kings VIII, 7). The Cherubim were kept in their place miraculously, and three times a day they used to spread out their wings and cover the ark. They were a representation of the upper Cherubim and had the form of children, and they stood beneath that place on the right and the left. They were the first recipients of the blessings which flowed from above, and transmitted them further, and this is the meaning of the words, "the angel who blessed me", that is, the angel first received blessings from the beings above, and with them "blessed the lads", to wit, the Cherubim, and from them blessings were transmitted from the upper to the lower creatures. [229a]

R. Hiya discoursed on the verse: House and wealth are an inheritance from parents, but from the Lord is a prudent wife. (Prov. XIX, 14). 'When God gives a house and money to a man,' he said, 'sometimes he bequeaths the whole to his son, and therefore these things, although they are ultimately from God, may be called "inheritance of parents". But the possession of a good wife comes to man only from God. For God mates couples before they are born, and when a man is worthy he obtains a wife according to his deserts. Sometimes it happens that after the lot has been cast, that man perverts his ways, and then his mate is transferred to another until he rectifies his ways, or else until his time comes, and then the other is removed to make way for him and he comes into his own; and this is grievous in the sight of God, to remove one man to make way for another. Nor is it only a prudent wife who is from God. For if God has purposed to bestow benefits on a man, but he goes astray to the "other side", then from that other side to which he cleaves there shall come to him one who shall bring upon him all accusations and all ills. Hence of the wife who is not prudent Solomon said: "And I find that woman more bitter than death" (Eccl. VII, 26), because it is the man's sins which have drawn her on him. Hence, when God is pleased with a man, he provides for him a wife who is prudent, and redeems him from the other side. Hence Jacob said, "the angel who hath redeemed me from all wrong", meaning that a wife had not been assigned to him from the "other side", and that there was no defect in his seed, all of them being righteous and perfect.'


SHALL BLESS THE CHILDREN. They were deserving of blessing because Joseph had kept the sign of the holy covenant. When Joseph said, "they are my sons whom God has given me here", he showed his father the sign of the covenant which he had kept, and therefore they were meet for blessing, and he also was deserving of blessing in abundance. Hence Jacob gave to the others only one blessing, but to Joseph many blessings, as it says, "the blessings of thy father ... shall be upon the head of Joseph" (Gen. XLIX, 26).

R. Judah discoursed on the verse: Unto thee do I lift up mine eyes, O thou that sittest in the heavens (Ps. CXIII, 1). He said: 'Prayer offered with true devotion is directed on high to the supernal recess, from whence issue all blessings and all freedom, to support the universe. It is attached above to the mystery of the supreme Wisdom, and it is attached below to him who sits on the throne of the patriarchs which is called heaven. Hence it is written here: "Who sits in the heavens." When the blessings issue from the supernal recess, they are all received by this place called heaven, and from thence they flow down till they come to the place called the "Righteous One the foundation of the world", from whence are blessed all the (heavenly) hosts and camps after their kind. All these heavenly legions are crowned by seventy-two lights, of which seventy [8] form a circle about the world, while in the midst of the circle is a certain point [9] from which the whole of the circumference is fed. The house of the holy of holies is the place [229b] for that spirit of all spirits, where lies hid the mystery of all mysteries, and when this removes, all move after it.'

As R. Hizkiah and R. Jose and R. Judah were once journeying together, R. Jose said: 'Let each one of us give some exposition of the Torah.' R. Judah thereupon began with the verse, "Remember not against us the iniquities of our forefathers, let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us" (Ps. LXXIX, 8). He said: 'God in His great love for Israel allows no one to sit in judgement on them save Himself, and when He tries them, He is filled with compassion for them like a father for his children, and when He finds they have done wrong, He removes their offences one by one until there are none left to place them in the power of the other side. Hence it says, "let thy mercies prevent us", because otherwise Israel would not be able to exist, in face of all the accusers and all the adversaries who are lying in wait for them above. Hence it continues "for we are very poor", that is, poor in good deeds in the sight of God. For were Israel rich in good deeds before God, idolatrous nations would not be able to exist in the world. It is Israel who enable other nations to hold their head high, because but for their sins the nations would be subdued before them. And, as we have already said, had not Israel by their sins brought the other side into the Holy Land, the idolatrous nations would not have gained possession of it, and Israel would not have been exiled from their land. Hence, because "we are brought very low", therefore "let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us".'

R. Jose discoursed on the verse: "Serve the Lord with gladness, come before his presence with singing" (Ps. C, 2). He said: 'The service of prayer offered by man to the Holy One, blessed be He, should be carried out with gladness and with singing, so that he may associate with him the Community of Israel; and then he should proclaim the unity in the fitting manner, as it says: "Know ye that the Lord he is God" (Ibid. 3). These two activities of gladness and song correspond to the two prayers of morning and afternoon, and to the two daily sacrifices -- gladness in the morning and singing in the afternoon. The evening prayer, on the other hand, is optional, because at that time she (the Shekinah) is distributing sustenance to all her hosts, and it is not the time for blessing. In the daytime she is to be blessed from these two sides, morning and afternoon, out of gladness and singing, and at night time she divides the blessings among all in the fitting manner.'

R. Hizkiah took for his text the verse: "Let my prayer be established like incense before thee, the lifting of my hands like the evening oblation" (Ps. CXLI, 2). He said: 'It may be asked, why did David mention here the oblation of the evening rather than [230a] of the morning? The answer may be given as follows. The offering of incense betokens joy, as it is written, "oil and incense rejoice the heart" (Prov. XXVII, 9). Hence the high priest, when he lit the candlestick, used to offer incense morning and evening (Ex. XXX, 7, 8); in the morning, because that is the natural season of joy, and in the evening to rejoice the left side, as befits. We see, then, that incense always betokened joy. Further, the incense links and unites upper and lower, and so removes death and wrath and accusation from the world and prevents them from prevailing over it; it was through the incense that Aaron stayed the plague. Hence the incense symbolizes universal joy and universal union. Now David offered the prayer we have quoted at the time of the afternoon oblation, when the world is under the aegis of justice, and he meant it to ascend and remove the wrath that was prevalent at that hour like the incense which removes wrath and accusation; hence he mentioned the "oblation of eventide", the time when punishment descends on the world. Observe that the Temple was burnt at the time of the evening oblation, as it is written: "Woe to us because the day hath declined and the shadows of evening stretch out" (Jer. VI, 3). The "shadows of evening" are the accusers and the punishments which are abroad at that hour. Hence we have learnt that a man should say the afternoon prayer with special devotion, even more than other prayers. Hence, too, it was that Isaac instituted the afternoon prayer, as we have already explained.'

As they proceeded they came to a mountain. Said R. Jose: 'This mountain is very formidable, let us keep clear of it.' Said R. Judah: 'If I were alone I should think the same, since we have learnt that he who travels alone makes his life forfeit. But this does not apply to three, all the more seeing that each one of us is worthy to be accompanied by the Shekinah.' Said R. Jose: 'But we have learnt that a man should not rely on a miracle, since even Samuel said: "How can I go? If Saul hear it, he will kill me" (I Sam. XVI, 2), and he was more worthy than we are.' He replied: 'Even so, he was by himself and the danger was obvious, whereas we are three and there is no danger actually in sight. For if it is evil spirits you are afraid of, we have learnt that they do not show themselves to three or harm them, and if it is robbers, there are none here, because this mountain is far from any inhabited spot, and people never pass here. The only thing we have to be afraid of is wild beasts. Scripture speaks of "the angel who redeemed me from all evil". This angel is the Shekinah, who continually accompanies a man and leaves him not so long as he keeps the precepts of the Law. Hence a man should be careful not to go on the road alone, that is to say, he should diligently keep the precepts of the Law in order that he may not be deserted by the Shekinah, and so be forced to go alone without the accompaniment of the Shekinah. Hence, before starting on a journey a man should first address his prayer to God in order that he may draw the Shekinah to himself, to be protected by it on the road and delivered from all harm. So Jacob, on setting out, said: "If God shall be with me", i.e. if the Shekinah will accompany me, "and keep me in this way" (Gen. XXVIII, 20), to deliver me from all harm. Now Jacob was alone [230b] at that time, but the Shekinah went with him; all the more so then will it accompany the Companions who discourse on the Torah.' Said R. Jose: 'What are we to do? If we remain here we shall be overtaken by night; if we commence to ascend, the mountain is very high, and there is danger from wild beasts.' Said R. Judah: 'I am surprised at you, R. Jose.' He replied: 'We have learnt that a man should not rely on a miracle, for God does not perform miracles at all times.' He answered: 'That applies only when a man is by himself. But we are three, and words of Torah pass between us and the Shekinah is with us; therefore we have no need to fear.'

As they went on, they perceived on the mountain a rock in which was a cave. Said R. Judah: 'Let us go up to yonder rock, as I see there a cave.' So they went up there. Said R. Jose: 'Perhaps there are wild beasts in this cave which will attack us.' Said R. Judah to R. Hizkiah: 'Why is R. Jose so afraid? He is not a sinner that he should fear, and we read that "the righteous is bold like a lion" (Prov. XXVIII, 1).' R. Jose said: 'It is because we are wilfully exposing ourselves to danger.' He replied: 'If that were so, you would be right, but there is no danger apparent here, and once we enter the cave no danger will follow us.' So they went into the cave. R. Judah then said: 'Let us divide the night into three watches, and let each one of us stand to his post in one of them, and let us all keep awake.'

R. Judah then commenced with the text: "Maskil to Ethan the Ezrahite" (Ps. LXXXIX, 1). He said: 'This psalm was uttered by our father Abraham when he devoted himself to the service of his Master and conferred on mankind the boon of teaching them to acknowledge God as ruler of the world; and he was called Ethan (lit. strong) because he clung strongly to God. "I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever." Song comes from the side of the Left, not of Hesed (Mercy); so by this exordium the side of the Left was embraced in the Right. It was for this purpose (to combine Left with Right) that God tried Abraham, in order that he might be found to unite justice with mercy, and so be perfect. Hence he could say: "I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever." He continued: "With my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations." This refers to the faithfulness of God in making Abraham known in the world and causing his name to be in the mouth of all creatures. God made known to Abraham the true principle of faith, and he thereupon realized that he was the foundation and support of the universe. For when God created the universe, He saw that it could not endure unless He stretched forth His right hand to it. For this world was created under the aegis of justice, and it was not established save by the right hand. Hence Abraham continued: "I said, the world is built up on mercy (hesed)", the first step in the building up of the world having been the light of the first day. Then on the second day the Left came into play and with it was established the heaven, as it says: "Thou establishest the heavens, thy faithfulness is in them." (This may also be explained to mean that the heavens were established by those mercies of the first day, and that the mystery of faith was established in them, the heavens being the bulwark of faith.) The text continues: "I have made a covenant with my chosen." This covenant is the secret of faith. Or we may interpret the "chosen one" of [231a] the Zaddik from whom issue blessings to all the lower creation, all the holy Hayyoth being blessed from the stream which flows forth to the lower world. "I have sworn unto David my servant", to wit, that he will always be established in this Zaddik, the foundation of the world, save in the time of galuth, when the flow of blessing is cut off, and faith is defective, and all joy is banished. During this period, at nightfall, joy no longer enters before the King . Yet, though rejoicings do not enter, angels stand outside and chant hymns, and at midnight when the impulse from below arrives on high, God arouses all the hosts of the heaven for lamentation and strikes the firmament, causing upper and lower worlds to quake; nor is there any respite save when those below commence to study the Torah. Then God and all those with Him listen with joy to that voice, and relief is felt. For on the day on which the Sanctuary below was destroyed, God swore that He would not enter the celestial Jerusalem until Israel should enter the earthly Jerusalem. Now all those singers stand outside and chant hymns in the three watches of the night and intone praises, and all the hosts of the heavens sing at night and Israel by day, nor is the sanctification recited above until it is recited by Israel below, and only then do all the hosts of heaven sanctify the holy name together. Hence, Israel are holy and are sanctified by upper and lower angels, since the sanctification of the holy name is complete only when uttered above and below together.'

R. Jose discoursed on the verse: Whereupon were the foundations thereof fastened? (Job XXXVIII, 6). He said: 'When God created the world, He established it on seven pillars, but upon what those pillars rest no one may know, since it is a recondite and inscrutable mystery. The world did not come into being until God took a certain stone, which is called the "foundation stone", and cast it into the abyss so that it held fast there, and from it the world was planted. This is the central point of the universe, and on this point stands the holy of holies. This is the stone referred to in the verses, "Who laid the corner-stone thereof" (Ibid. 6), "the stone of testing, the precious corner-stone" (Is. XXVIII, 16), and "the stone that the builders despise became the head of the corner" (Ps. CXVIII, 22). This stone is compounded of fire, water, and air, and rests on the abyss. Sometimes water flows from it and fills the deep. This stone is set as a sign in the centre of the world. It is referred to in the words, "And Jacob took a stone and set it as a pillar" (Gen. XXXI, 45). Not that he took this stone, which was created from the beginning, but he established it above and below, by making there a "house of God". This stone has on it seven eyes, as it is written, "On one stone seven eyes" (Zech. III, 9), and it is called "foundation stone", for one thing because the world was planted from it, and for another because God set it as a source of blessing to the world. Now at sunset, the Cherubim which stood in that place used to strike their wings together and spread them out, and when the sound of the beating of their wings was heard above, those angels who chanted hymns in the night began to sing, in order that the glory of God might ascend from below on high. The striking of the Cherubim's wings itself intoned the psalm, "Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord ... lift up your hands to the sanctuary, etc." (Ps. CXXXIII). This was the signal for the heavenly angels to commence. At the second watch [231b] the Cherubim again beat their wings, giving the signal to the angels of that watch. The psalm of the Cherubim this time was "They that trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, etc." (Ps. CXXV). At the third watch the Cherubim beat their wings to the words "Hallelujah, praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord" (Ps. CXIII), and then the angels of the third watch commenced to sing, and also all the stars and constellations of the heaven, as it is written: "When the morning stars sung together and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job XXXVIII, 7), and also, "Praise him, all ye stars of light" (Ps. CXLVIII, 3), these being the radiant stars which are appointed to sing at dawn. After them Israel take up the chant below, and so the glory of God ascends both from below and from above, from Israel below in the day, and from the celestial angels above in the night, and so the name of God is fully praised on all sides. As for this stone that we have mentioned, all the angels above and Israel below take hold on it, and it ascends to be crowned in the midst of the patriarchs by day. At night the Holy One, blessed be He, comes to disport Himself with the righteous in the Garden of Eden. Blessed are those who stand at their posts and study the Torah at night, because God and all the righteous in the Garden of Eden listen to the voice of those sons of men who study the Torah.'

That stone we have mentioned is a goodly stone, and it is hinted at in the verse "And thou shalt set in it a setting of stone, four rows of stone" (Ex. XXVIII, 17), because there is another stone of which it is written "And I shall remove the heart of stone, etc." (Ezek. XXXVI, 26). The two tablets of stone were also hewn from this stone; and this was also called "the stone of Israel" (Gen. XLIX, 24), as has been explained. R. Hizkiah quoted the verse: "And the stone shall be according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve" (Ex. XXVIII, 21). He said: 'These are the precious supernal stones which are called "the stones of the place" (Gen. XXVIII, 11). They were "according to the names of the children of Israel" because just as there are twelve tribes below, so there are twelve tribes above, which are twelve precious stones; and therefore it is written: "Whither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord, for a testimony unto Israel" (Ps. CXXII, 4), the reference being to the supernal Israel. Further, just as there are twelve hours in the day, so there are twelve hours in the night, in the day above and in the night below, each corresponding to each. These twelve hours of the night are divided into three sets, to each of which belong hierarchies of angels, which take their portion first. Hence, at midnight two ranks stand on one side and two on the other, and a celestial spirit goes forth between them and then all the trees in the garden break forth into song and God enters the garden, as it says: "Then do all the trees of the wood sing for joy before the Lord, for he cometh to judge the earth" (I Chron. XVI, 33), because judgement enters among them and the Garden of Eden is filled therewith. Then the north wind springs up, bringing joy in its train, and it blows through the spice trees and wafts their perfume, and the righteous put on their crowns and feast themselves on the brightness of the "pellucid mirror" -- happy are they to be vouchsafed that celestial light! The light of this mirror shines on all sides, and each one of the righteous takes his appropriate portion, each according to his works in this world; and some of them are abashed because of the superior light obtained by their neighbours. [232a] When night commences, numbers of officers of judgement arise and roam about the world, and the doors are closed, as we have affirmed. Thus at midnight the side of the north comes down and takes possession of the night until two-thirds of it have passed. Then the side of the south awakes until morning, and then both south and north take hold of it (the Shekinah). Then come Israel here below, and with their prayers and supplications raise it up until it ascends and hides itself among them, and receives blessings from the fountain-head.'

While they were sitting midnight arrived, and R. Judah said to R. Jose: 'Now the north wind awakes and the night is divided, and now is the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, longs for the voice of the righteous in this world, the voice of those who study the Torah. Now God is listening to us in this place; therefore let us not cease from discoursing on the Torah.' He then commenced:


THE ANGEL WHO DELIVERED ME FROM ALL EVIL. This is the same as the one mentioned in the verse: "Behold I send an angel before thee, etc." (Ex. XXIII, 20), who, as we have laid down, is the deliverer of the world, the protector of mankind, and the one who procures blessings for all the world, he himself receiving them first. This angel is sometimes male, sometimes female. When he procures blessings for the world, he is male, resembling the male who provides blessings for the female. But when he comes to bring chastisement on the world he is called female, being, as it were, pregnant with the judgement. Similarly, in the words, "the flame of the sword which turned every way" (Gen III, 24), there is a reference to the angels who are God's messengers, and who turn themselves into different shapes, being sometimes female and sometimes male, sometimes messengers of judgement and sometimes of mercy. In the same way, this angel can take all colours like the rainbow, and treats the world correspondingly. [232b]

R. Jose discoursed on the verse: The king's strength also loveth judgement, thou dost establish equity, etc. (Ps. XCIX, 4). 'The king', he said, 'is God, who loves judgement and takes fast hold of it, because by judgement the earth is established. By judgement, too, the Community of Israel is confirmed and established, because from there it is sustained, and receives all its blessings. Hence all its desire and all its longing is for judgement. The words "Thou dost establish equity (mesharim, lit. straightnesses)" refer to the two cherubim below who render the world safe and habitable.'

R. Hizkiah discoursed on the verse: Praise ye the Lord (Hallelujah), praise, O ye servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. 'The repetition of the word "praise" in this verse', he said, 'seems somewhat pointless, but there is a reason for it. We have been taught that a eulogy should not be extravagant, and that to ascribe to another merits which he does not possess is really to reproach him; and, therefore, in recounting the praises of a deceased person, we should say only what he deserves and no more, otherwise through trying to praise we shall really blame him. Now the word Hallelujah (lit. praise ye Yah) contains the highest of all the praises of the Lord, mentioning, as it does, the place to which no eye can penetrate, being most recondite and inscrutable. This is Yah, the name which is supreme above all. Hence this psalm commences with "Hallelujah", a word in which praise and name are combined. Further, the subject of the word "praise" is not specified, but just as the name Yah is undisclosed, so those who praise it are undisclosed, and so it is fitting that all should be undisclosed in the realm of the supreme mystery. But the psalmist then continues: "Praise, O ye servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord", because this is a place which is not undisclosed, a place which is called "Name". The first is completely undisclosed, the second half undisclosed, half disclosed, and therefore the psalmist specified those who praised that place, and said that they are "the servants of the Lord", who are meet to praise this place. The text continues "Blessed be (Yehi) the name of the Lord." The word yehi consists of the name Yah and the letter yod, and indicates the continuity between that supernal and inscrutable place which is Yah and the grade of the covenant which is the lower yod. For this reason the word yehi (let there be) in the account of the Creation, is used only of the upper productions, e.g. "let there be light", "let there be a firmament", "let there be lights", but it is not used in connection with the [233a] lower productions. So by this word the Holy Name is blessed in all. The text continues: "From the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof." The "rising" is the supernal place from which the sun derives light to shine over all, the place of the supernal and hidden fountainhead. The "setting" is the place to which faith is attached, from which blessings issue to all, and from which the world is sustained, as has been affirmed. The whole depends upon the impulse from below which is given by the service of the Lord when they bless the Holy Name, as we have said.'

By this time the morning had dawned, and so they came out of the cave, not having slept the whole night. They went on their way, and when they got beyond the hills they sat down and said their prayers. They then came to a village, where they stayed the whole day. At night they slept till midnight, when they rose to study the Torah. R. Judah began:


AND HE BLESSED THEM ON THAT DAY, SAYING: IN THEE SHALL ISRAEL BLESS, SAYING. 'The expression "that day" has an esoteric meaning, and signifies the grade which is in charge of blessings above, the "day" from the supernal place which is called "That" (Hu). Hence we translate "by the day of That", indicating that there is no separation between "day" and "That". The two signify an upper grade and a lower grade in conjunction. Thus Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph with the union of upper and lower in order that the blessings might be unalterable. He then completed the conjunction by saying, "in thee shall Israel bless". The name Israel here refers to the patriarch Israel. This Israel receives blessings from above and then blesses all through this lower grade. Hence he said "God make thee as Ephraim and Manasseh", putting Ephraim first because Ephraim were called Israel, as it is written: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel" (Ezek. XXXVII, 11), where the reference according to tradition is to the members of the tribe of Ephraim who were killed when they tried to break out of the captivity of Egypt before the time. For that reason, too, the tribe of Ephraim in the wilderness journeyed on the west. [10] Note that Israel blessed the sons of Joseph before he blessed his own sons, which shows that a man loves his grandchildren more than his children.' R. Jose said: 'It is written: "The Lord hath remembered us, he will bless, he will bless the house of Israel." The first "he will bless" refers to the men, and the "house of Israel" to the women, because the women derive blessings only from the blessings of the men. Alternatively, this lesson may be derived from the verse: "He shall make atonement for himself and for his house" (Lev. XVI, 6) -- for himself first and for his house afterwards. In this case we may interpret the words "He shall bless the house of Israel" to mean that God gives extra blessings to a man who is married, in order that his wife may be blessed through him, [233b] and so he receives two portions, one for himself and one for his wife.'

R. Hizkiah discoursed on the verse: "Thine eyes did see mine imperfect substance, and in thy book they were all written, etc." (Ps. CXXXIX, 16). 'This verse', he said, 'has been frequently expounded. All the souls which came into existence when the world was created stand before God before coming down in that same form in which they afterwards appear in the world, since that bodily appearance of man which he had in this world is also found above. When this soul is about to descend into the world, it stands before God in the form which it is to assume in the world, and God adjures it to keep the precepts of the law and not to transgress them. Hence it says: "Thine eyes saw mine imperfect form" before it appeared in the world, "and in thy book they were all written", that is to say, all the souls in their forms are recorded in the book. The text proceeds: "The days are fashioned and there is not one among them", that is, there is not one day of them in this world which can stand before its Master as it should. For when a man is virtuous in this world his days are blessed above, from that place which is the measure of his days, mentioned in the verse, "Show me, a Lord, mine end, and what is the measure of my days" (Ps. XXXIX, 5). The "end" here is the "end of the right", which was united with David, and the "measure of my days" was the power in charge of his days.' R. Judah said: 'I have heard from R. Simeon that this verse refers to the days which were assigned to him out of the life of Adam, namely seventy years, since it has been affirmed that David had no life of his own, but Adam gave him seventy years of his life. David therefore prayed to know why it was that he had no life of his own, and continued, "Let me know how fleeting I am", that is to say, why, like the moon, I am without light of my own, unlike all those celestial lights which all have their own life. This is what David sought to know, but permission was not given to him. Observe that all celestial blessings were delivered to this grade to transmit to all creatures, and although it has no light of its own, all blessings and all joy and all goodness are contained in it and issue from it, and therefore is it called "the cup of blessing", or even simply "blessing", as it is written, "The blessing of the Lord maketh rich" (Prov. X, 22). Therefore it has a residue from all and is filled from all; it receives [234a] of the supernal blessings to transmit them further.' Said R. Isaac: 'We know this from the fact that Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph from the place from which all blessings had been delivered into his hand to transmit.'


AND JACOB CALLED TO HIS SONS AND SAID: GATHER YOURSELVES TOGETHER, ETC. R. Abba discoursed on the verse: He turned to the prayer of the lonely one and did not despise their prayer (Ps. CII, 18). He said: 'The use of the word "turned" here, instead of "hearkened" or "listened", is significant. The prayer of an individual man only enters before the Holy King with great difficulty, because before it can be crowned in its place God examines it closely and weighs the merits and defects of that individual. He does not so with the prayer of a congregation; for congregational prayers are offered by many who are not virtuous, and yet they all come before God and He does not regard their sins. Therefore it says, "God turns to the prayer of the solitary one" and weighs and considers it, and examines in what spirit it is offered and who is the man that offers it, and what is his conduct. Hence a man should pray with the congregation because "God does not despise their prayer", even though they do not all pray with devotion. According to another explanation, the word "solitary" here refers to an individual who is united with numbers, to wit, Jacob, who was united with two sides, and who called his sons and prayed for them that they might be acceptable above and not be destroyed in the captivity. When Jacob called his sons, Abraham and Isaac were there and the Shekinah with them, rejoicing in Jacob, and in the prospect of joining the patriarchs [234b] and forming with them a chariot. When Jacob said to his sons, "I will tell you what will befall you in the latter end of days", a kind of sadness came over him and the Shekinah departed. His sons, however, raised their voices and said, "Hear, O Israel, etc.", and Jacob answered, "Blessed be the name of his glorious kingdom for ever and ever", and on this proclamation of the unity the Shekinah returned to its place.


AND JACOB CALLED. The word "called" signifies that he established them in their place above and below. Similarly, Moses "called Hosea son of Nun, Joshua" (Num. XIII, 16) to establish him in his proper place. There is a similar significance in the expressions "And he called his name Jacob" (Gen. XXV, 26) and "the God of Israel called him El" (Gen. XXXIII, 20). So, too, "I called from my sorrow unto the Lord" (Jonah, III, 7), signifying that one who praises his Master and addresses supplications to Him establishes his Master more firmly, by showing that all depends upon Him and not upon any other power. AND HE SAID. It has been laid down that "saying" means "thinking", as in the expression "And thou shalt say in thy heart" (Deut. VII, 17). ASSEMBLE YOURSELVES; that is, in complete harmony. AND I SHALL TELL YOU. The word "tell" (agidah) contains an allusion to the esoteric wisdom. He sought to reveal to them their final destiny. It may be asked, seeing that he did not reveal what he sought to reveal, why are his words, which were afterwards belied, recorded in the Scripture? The truth is that all that was needful to be revealed is completely stated, and there is a hidden meaning within, and so nothing in the Scripture is belied. In fact, everything is included in the Scripture, and there is no word or letter short in it. Jacob said all that was needful for him to say, but not all openly, and not a letter was short of what was required. R. Judah and R. Jose were one day sitting at the gate of Lydda. Said the latter: 'We are told that Jacob blessed his sons, but what are the blessings?' R. Judah answered: 'He did indeed bless them, as, for instance, "Judah, thee shall thy brethren praise", "Dan shall judge his people", "Out of Asher his bread shall be fat", and so forth; but what he sought to reveal to them he did not reveal, namely, the end. We have laid down that there is an end to the right and an end to the left, and he sought to reveal to them the end (of the left) in order that they might keep themselves [235a] pure from uncleanness. What he revealed to them referred only to the time when they were in the Holy Land; later things were not stated openly, but are only hinted at in this section and in these blessings.'

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:10 am

Part 3 of 4

REUBEN, THOU ART MY FIRSTBORN, MY MIGHT AND THE BEGINNING OF MY STRENGTH. Why did Jacob begin with Reuben and not rather with Judah, who was the leader of the camps and also king? Further we see that he did not bless him, nay, that he removed blessings from him till Moses came and prayed for him, as it is written: "Let Reuben live and not die" (Deut. XXXIII, 6). The fact is, however, that he did bless him, but kept the blessing for its proper place. He was like a man who had a son, and when he was about to die was visited by the king, whereupon he said: "Let all my money remain in the king's hands on behalf of my son, and when the king sees that my son is worthy he will give it to him." So Jacob said: "Reuben, thou art my firstborn, the beloved of my soul; but thy blessings shall remain in the hand of the Holy King until He shall see that thou art worthy of them, because 'thou didst go after the sight of thine eyes, etc.''' (according to Chaldaic paraphrase of this passage).

R. Eleazar here discoursed on the verse: And he said to me: Prophesy unto the wind, etc. (Ezek. XXXVII, 9). 'There is a difficulty here,' he said, 'because the text continues: "Prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind", which seems a repetition. The truth is, however, that there is here an esoteric lesson. There are two adjurations here. One is to give the impulse from below, since if there is no impulse from below there is no stirring above. Hence the words "Prophesy unto the wind" indicate the impulse from below, and the words "Prophesy, son of man, and say" to the impulse from above; for even after the impulse is given from below, that which is above receives from that which is higher still, wherefore the verse continues "Thus saith the Lord." The text then goes on: "Come from the four winds, O breath." The four winds are south, east, north, and west, and the breath comes from the west through its conjunction with the others, and from this source issue spirits and souls to take shape in human form. The next word, "breathe", indicates taking from one side and giving to another, in the same way as the sea takes and gives, and therefore "is not full" (Eccl. I, 7).'

R. Eleazar put the following question to R. Simeon. 'Since it is known to God that men will die, why does He send souls down into the world?' He answered: 'This question has been discussed many times by the teachers, and they have answered it thus. God sends souls down to this world to declare His glory and takes them back afterwards. This mystery can be explained from the verse: "Drink water from thy cistern and flowing streams from the midst of thy well" (Prov. V, 15). As we have laid down, the term "cistern" designates the place from which the waters do not naturally flow. But they do flow when the soul is perfected in this world and ascends to the place to which it is attached, for then it is complete on all sides, above and below. When the soul ascends, the desire of the female is stirred towards the male, and then water flows from below upwards, and the cistern becomes a well of flowing waters, and then there is union and foundation and desire and friendship and harmony, since through the soul of the righteous that place has been completed, and the supernal love and affection has been stirred to form a union.'

Observe that Reuben and all the rest of the twelve tribes were linked with the Shekinah, and when Jacob saw the Shekinah by him, he called to his twelve sons to join it. From the beginning of the world there was never so perfect a couch as that of Jacob when he was about [235b] to depart from the world. Abraham was on his right, Isaac on his left, and he was lying between them with the Shekinah in front of him. When Jacob saw this, he called his sons and placed them round the Shekinah and arranged them in perfect order, so that the gathering was complete and many supernal chariots encompassed them. They then exclaimed: "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory, etc." (I Chron. XXIX, 11), whereupon the sun joined the moon and the east drew near to the west, and the moon was illumined and attained fullness, and so, as tradition tells us, "Jacob our father did not die." When Jacob saw such perfection as had never been vouchsafed to any other man, he rejoiced and praised God and blessed each of his sons with the appropriate blessing.

R. Jose and R. Jesse were once walking together, when the latter said: 'We have learnt that all the sons of Jacob were arranged in proper order and were blessed each one with the appropriate blessing. What, then, are we to make of the verse: "Out of Asher his bread shall be fat"?' He answered: 'I do not know, because I have not learnt this from the Holy Lamp. But let us both go to the Holy Lamp.' So they went, and when they came to R. Simeon they put their question to him. He said to them: 'Assuredly there is an esoteric meaning here. It is written: "Asher sat still at the haven of the sea, and abode by his creeks" (Judg. V, 17). He who dwells by the seashore has access to all luxuries, and Asher here signifies the supernal gate of Zedek (righteousness) when it receives blessings to transmit them to the world. This gate is always commissioned to send blessings to the world, and is called Asher, and it is one of the pillars upon which the world stands, and it repairs that place which is called "bread of affliction". This, then, is the meaning of the words "Out of Asher his bread is fat", that is to say, that which was bread of poverty becomes food of luxury, and hence the verse continues, "and he shall yield royal dainties": the giver here is the Community of Israel, by whom the king is fed with all luxuries, all blessings, all joy, and all goodness.' They said: 'If we had been born only to hear this, it would have been worth while.'

R. Hiya said: 'Reuben was entitled to all the rights of a firstborn, but they were all taken from him and the kingship was given to Judah, the birthright to Joseph, and the priesthood to Levi. Hence it is written: "Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel" (tothar, lit. be left over); that is, thou shalt not retain them. In calling him "my might and the beginning of my strength", Jacob blessed him and entrusted him to God. He was like a king's friend who desired that the king should treat his son well, so one day he went out with his son and said to the king: "This is my son, the beloved of my soul"; whereupon the king understood that he was asking him to treat his son well. So Jacob said of Reuben, "thou art my firstborn, etc.", thus commending him to the King.


UNSTABLE AS WATER, THOU SHALT NOT HAVE THE EXCELLENCY. Here he indicated his subsequent fate, in not being left in the land, but cast outside. [11] In return, there was an angel appointed over his border from the side of the supernal Tabernacle, which is in charge of Michael (according to others, Gabriel), and Reuben was next to this, although the kingship belonged to Judah. R. Simeon said: 'The sons of Reuben are destined to wage two wars. It is written here "my strength", alluding to the captivity of Egypt, and "the beginning of my strength", alluding to their entry into the land of Canaan at the head of their brethren (Num. XXXII). The words "the excellency of dignity" (lit. removing) refer to the captivity of Assyria, which befell the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben first of all; and they have suffered many evils without repenting up to now. The words "the excellency of power" refer to the time when the Messiah will appear, and they will go forth and make war and conquer all peoples, and mankind will tremble before them; [236a] and they will endeavour to seize the kingship, but will not retain it, not in any quarter of the world, the reason being, as the text says, "because thou wentest up to thy father's bed", this being a reference to Jerusalem. The sons of Reuben have been scattered in captivity to all four quarters of the world, having been taken captive four times, one referred to in the words "my might", the second in the words "the beginning of my strength", the third in the words "excellency of dignity", and the fourth in the words "excellency of strength". Correspondingly, they are destined to make war in the four quarters of the world and to carry all before them, and to conquer many peoples and rule over them. Here was revealed his blessing, and what happened at that time and what was to happen when Israel entered the land, and what will happen at the time of the Messiah, as far as concerns Reuben.


SIMEON AND LEVI ARE BRETHREN. R. Isaac said: 'He joined them to the left side of the Shekinah, since he saw deeds of vengeance which the world could not endure.' R. Jose said: 'Where is their blessing?' R. Isaac answered: 'Simeon was not meet for a blessing, since Jacob saw that he had wrought much evil; nor was Levi, because he came from the side of stern justice, and blessing did not attach to him. Even Moses did not bless him directly, but left it to the Almighty, as it is written: "Bless, Lord, his substance and accept the work of his hands" (Deut. XXXIII, 11). It is written: "Yonder is the sea, great and wide, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts" (Ps. CIV, 25). The "sea" refers to the Shekinah, which stood over Jacob when he was about to depart from the world. It is called "great and wide" because all the world was compressed into it. There were "creeping things innumerable", because numbers of celestial holy angels are found there; while the "small and great beasts" refer to the twelve tribes, the sons of Jacob, of whom one was called a hind, one a wolf, one a lion, and one a lamb.' R. Isaac said: 'First a lion, then a lamb, then a wolf, then a kid, and so forth, so that there should be great and small beasts.' R. Judah said: 'Simeon was an ox and came before Judah, who was a lion, and the Companions have laid down that they faced one another, one on the right and one on the left. It was as if a man had a vicious ox and said: Let us put the figure of a lion in his stall so that he shall see it and be afraid of it. Simeon was not meet for blessing, but Moses joined him to Judah, saying: "Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah"; the word "hear" alluding to Simeon, at whose birth his mother said "For the Lord hath heard that I am hated."' Said R. Judah: 'The blessing of Simeon and Levi was left by their father to Moses. Let us also leave this question to the Holy Lamp.' So they went and asked R. Simeon. He said: 'How glad I am you have asked me.' He then clapped his hands and wept, saying: 'Who shall ope thine eyes, thou holy mirror of faith! Thou hast excelled in thy lifetime all the sons of men, thou hast excelled them in thy death, when thy likeness is effaced. The keys of thy Master have ever been delivered into thy hands. Observe now. Jacob had four wives and begat sons from all of them. [236b] When he was about to die the Shekinah stood over him. He sought to bless these two, but he was not able, being afraid of the Shekinah. He said: "What shall I do, seeing that both of them are from the side of stern judgement? And if I try to force the Shekinah, I shall not be able, for I have had four wives, which are a complete portion. I will leave them to the master of the house and he will do as he pleases." He also said: "I have taken my share of wives and children in this world and have had my fill; how, then, shall I press the matron more? I will therefore leave the matter to the master of the matron and he will do what he pleases without fear." Hence it is written: "Now this is the blessing wherewith Moses the man of God blessed" (Deut. XXXIII, 1). The term "man" here designates Moses as the master of the house and the master of the matron. Hence Moses blessed whom he pleased without fear, as we have affirmed.'


O MY SOUL, COME NOT THOU INTO THEIR COUNCIL. R. Abba discoursed on the verse: The secret of the Lord is for them that fear him. '"The secret of the Lord" " he said, 'is the recondite doctrine of the Torah which God only gives to those who fear sin, and it is the sign of the holy covenant. Simeon and Levi insisted that the men of Shechem should circumcise themselves and accept this secret, and the Scripture tells us that it was "with guile". Later, Zimri, the son of Salu, who was of the tribe of Simeon, nullified this secret. Hence Jacob said: "Let not my soul enter into their secret" -- that soul which entered into the supernal covenant above and was called "the bundle of life". UNTO THEIR ASSEMBLY, MY GLORY BE NOT THOU UNITED. This has been explained to refer to the assembly of Korah (Num. XVI, 19). "My honour" here refers to the honour of the people of Israel in general, and therefore their father did not bless them, but left them to Moses.' I WILL DIVIDE THEM IN JACOB. R. Hiya said: 'From this verse we learn that these two tribes were never again united, and so it was meet, and there is no generation in which their punishment does not descend upon the world, and great is the number of beggars among them.'


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



JUDAH, THEE SHALL THY BRETHREN PRAISE. R. Simeon said: 'The kingship was assigned to Judah; and hence Leah, as we have explained, said at the time of his birth: "This time I shall praise the Lord", because he was the fourth, the fourth leg of the throne. The letters yod, he, vau of his name are the impress of the supernal name, and they were completed by a daleth, which represents the second he of the sacred name, so that this name is found completely in Judah's name. Hence "Thy brethren shall praise thee", because the kingship is meet to remain with thee. Verily, "Judah still walketh with God, and is faithful with the holy ones" (Hosea, XI, 12). These holy ones are the supernal angels, who all acknowledge him and call him faithful. Therefore he is first in everything, and king over all.' R. Simeon discoursed on the verse: "The all-honoured daughter of the king is within" (Ps. XLV, 14). 'The "all-honoured one" is the Community of Israel, who is called the daughter of the king, the supreme King, who is within, because there is another king who is not so far within. The "clothing" of this honoured daughter of the king is "inwrought with gold", because she is clothed and encompassed with supernal might (Geburah), which also is called "king". On this account the earth is established, namely, when she takes hold of judgement, and this we call "the kingdom of heaven". Judah took hold of this and inherited the kingdom of the earth.'

R. Judah and R. Isaac were once travelling together. Said R. Isaac: 'Let us discourse on the Torah as we go along.' He began with the text: And he drove out the man, and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, etc. 'The word vayegaresh (and he drove out)', he said, 'may, the Companions have explained, be translated "and he divorced". The accusative particle eth here has an esoteric meaning. Adam was punished for his sin, and brought death upon himself and all the world, and caused that tree in regard to which he sinned to be driven out along with him and his descendants for ever. It says further that God "placed the cherubim on the east of the garden of Eden"; these were the lower cherubim, for as there are cherubim above, so there are cherubim below, and he spread this tree over them. The "flame of a sword" refers to the flames of fire which issue from that flashing sword. It is said to "turn every way" because it sucks from two sides, and turns from one side to another. Another explanation is that the flames turn about, being sometimes men and sometimes women.' Said R. Judah: 'This is certainly correct, that Adam caused that tree through which he sinned to be driven out; and so, also, do other men, as it is written: "Through your transgressions your mother is sent away" (Is. L, 1). Still you are right, that the word eth refers to the perfection of man, and from that day the moon was impaired until Noah came and entered the ark. Then came sinners, and it was impaired again until Abraham came, and it was established perfectly through Jacob and his sons, and Judah came and took hold on it, and seized the kingship and took possession of it as an everlasting inheritance for himself and his sons after him.'


JUDAH, THEE SHALL THY BRETHREN PRAISE. When Israel were at the Red Sea, they all praised him and entered after him into the sea. THY HAND SHALL BE ON THE NECK OF THY ENEMIES, as it says, "Judah shall go up first" (Judg. I, 2). THE SONS OF THY FATHER SHALL BOW DOWN TO THEE: this includes all the other tribes, even though from other mothers. And even when Israel was split into two kingdoms, when the people went up to Jerusalem they used to bow down to the king there, because the kingship in Jerusalem [237b] was derived from the holy kingdom. SHALL BOW DOWN BEFORE THEE. They only, but not other peoples, who will only bow down at the time of the Messiah. But here the expression only indicates Israel, all of whom would bow down to the Exilarch in Babylon, but not other peoples.


JUDAH IS A LION'S WHELP: first he will be a whelp, and then a lion, corresponding to the transition from "lad" [12] to "man", as it is written: "The Lord is a man of war" (Ex. XV, 3). FROM THE PREY, MY SON, THOU ART GONE UP. The word "prey" includes the angel of death, who preys upon mankind. From that prey the Shekinah shook itself free. It "stooped down" in the captivity of Babylon, it "couched" in the captivity of Edom, "as a lion" which is strong and as a "lioness" which is stronger. So Israel are strong, because though the Gentiles entice and oppress them, they adhere to their laws and their customs like a lion and a lioness. So, too, the Shekinah, which, although it is fallen, remains strong like a lion and a lioness. For just as these crouch only to spring upon their prey, which they smell from afar, so the Shekinah only crouches to take vengeance on idolaters and to spring upon them. WHO SHALL ROUSE HIM UP. He will not rise to take any petty vengeance. The word "who" (Mi) here indicates the supernal world, which has dominion over all; it is similarly used in the verse "From the womb of whom (Mi) came the ice" (Job XXXVIII, 29), as we have explained.


THE SCEPTRE SHALL NOT DEPART FROM JUDAH, ETC. The word Shiloh, here, is spelt with both a yod and a he, to allude to the holy supernal name, Yah, by which the Shekinah shall rise; and this is also the allusion of Mi, as we have said.

R. Hiya discoursed on the verse: The Lord shall keep thee from all evil, he shall keep thy soul. 'The words "He shall keep thee",' he said, 'refer to this world, and "he shall keep thy soul" to the next world. By "keeping in this world" is meant that a man is protected from many evil accusers who seek to bring charges against him and to cling fast to him. By preservation in the next world is meant, as we have explained, that when a man departs from this world, if he is virtuous his soul ascends and is crowned in its place, and if not, numbers of demons are at hand to drag him to Gehinnom and to deliver him into the hands of Duma, who has been made chief of demons, and who has twelve thousand myriads of attendants all charged to punish the souls of sinners. There are in Gehinnom seven circuits and seven gates, each with several gate-keepers under their own chief. The souls of sinners are delivered by Duma to those gate-keepers, who then close the gates of flaming fire. There are gates behind gates, the outer ones remaining open while the inner ones are closed. On Sabbath, however, they are all open, and the sinners go forth, as far as the outer gates, where they meet other souls which tarry there. When Sabbath goes out, a herald proclaims at each gate: "Let the wicked return to Sheol." Now God protects the souls of the righteous from being delivered into the hands of Duma, and that is the meaning of the words "he shall keep thy soul."' [238a]


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


HE HATH WASHED HIS GARMENT IN WINE. With this may be compared the verse: "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?" (Is. LXIII, 1); and also: "I have trodden the winepress alone, etc." (Ibid. 3). "Wine" here alludes to the side of Geburah, of stern justice which will be visited on the idolatrous nations. AND HIS VESTURE IN THE BLOOD OF GRAPE. This is the lower-world tree, the judgement court which is called "grapes", in which the "wine" is kept. Thus the Messiah will be clothed in both to crush beneath him all the idolatrous peoples and kings.

R. Jose discoursed on the verse: "And on the vine were three branches, and it was as though it budded and its blossoms shot forth." 'How little', he said, 'do men care for the glory of their Master or pay heed to the words of the Torah! At first prophecy was vouchsafed to men, and through it they knew the glory of God. When prophecy ceased, they had a bath-kol [13], but now they have nothing but dreams. Dream is a lower grade, being one-sixtieth of prophecy, and it is vouchsafed to everyone, since it comes from the left side. It comes down in various grades, and is shown even to sinners and even to Gentiles. Sometimes the dream is carried by evil demons who make mock of men and show them false things; and sometimes it is sent to sinners and tells them things of importance. Now this sinner, Pharaoh's butler, saw a true dream. The vine represented the Community of Israel, which was called by the psalmist "this vine" (Ps. LXXX, 15). The three branches have the same reference as the three flocks of sheep which Jacob saw by the well. (Gen. XXIX, 2). Its blossoming typifies the time of Solomon, when the moon was illumined. The buds represent the lower Jerusalem, or, according to another explanation, the grade which is over it and gives sustenance to it. [238b] The clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes, in which to keep the precious wine. All this was seen by that sinner. Further, he saw the cup of Pharaoh in his hands; this is the cup of confusion which sucks in from the court of judgement and which issued from the grapes that were given to Pharaoh; and he drank it as it was, on account of Israel. When Joseph heard this he rejoiced, remarking the truth which the dream contained, and therefore he gave it a good interpretation. Thus the words "binding his foal unto the vine" indicate that all the forces of the Gentiles are to be subdued beneath that vine, as we have said, their power being bound up and subdued.' R. Simeon said: 'There are two kinds of vine. There is the holy celestial vine, and there is the vine which is called "the vine of Sodom, the strange vine"; and therefore Israel is called "this vine". And when Israel sinned and abandoned "this vine", then it was said of them: "For from the vine of Sodom is their vine" (Deut. XXXIII, 32).'

As R. Judah and R. Isaac were once travelling together, the former said: 'Let us turn into this field, as it is more level.' They did so, and as they went along R. Judah said: 'It is written: "She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet." This verse has been expounded by our colleague, R. Hizkiah, who said that sinners are punished in Gehinnom twelve months, half with fire and half with snow. When they go into the fire, they say: "This is really Gehinnom." When they go into the snow, they say: "This is the real winter of the Almighty." They begin by exclaiming "Alas", and then they exclaim "Woe". The supreme punishment is with snow. Not so Israel, however, of whom it is written: "She is not afraid of the snow for her household", because "all her household are clothed with scarlet". The word shanim (scarlet) here may be read shnaim (two), referring to pairs of precepts such as circumcision and uncovering, fringes and phylacteries, mezuzahs and Hanukah lights, etc. The word "scarlet" may also be taken to indicate the robe of judgement, which is assumed for the punishment of idolaters. For one day God will put on a red robe and take a red sword to take vengeance on the ruddy one. [14] This we learn from the verse: "Who is this that cometh from Edom with dyed garments, etc.'" R. Isaac said: 'We may also take the word shanim to mean "years", and to refer to the whole of past time, since the Community of Israel is the consummation of the ages and draws sustenance from all sides.'

As they were going along, they met a boy leading an ass on which an old man was riding. Said the old man to the boy: 'My son, repeat me a passage of Scripture.' He answered: 'I have more than one passage. But come down or let me ride in front of you, and I will repeat some to you.' He said: 'I am old and you are young, and I do not want to put myself on a level with you.' Said the boy: 'If so, why is it you ask me to recite my verses ?' He said: 'To make the journey more agreeable.' Said the boy: 'This old man can go and hang himself. Ignoramus as he is, he must needs ride and will not descend to my level, forsooth!' So he left the old man and went his way. When R. Judah and R. Isaac came up, he joined them. They asked who he was, and he told them what had happened. Said R. Judah to him: 'You did quite rightly. Come with us and we will sit down over there and you will tell us something.' He said to them: 'I am very weary, [239a] because I have not eaten to-day.' So they took out some food and gave him, and a miracle happened and they found a small stream of water under a tree from which he drank, and they also drank and sat down. The boy then quoted the text: "To David. Fret not thyself because of evil doers, neither be thou envious against them that work unrighteousness" (Ps. XXXVII, 1). He said: 'This is neither a song nor a prayer, but the superscription "To David" shows that it was spoken by the Holy Spirit, which thus admonished David: "Do not challenge the wicked, because thou knowest not if thou hast strength to prevail against him; perhaps he is a tree which has never been uprooted [15] and thou wilt be repulsed by him. Also, do not look at the works of those who do unrighteousness, so that thou shouldst not need to be indignant with them; for whoever sees their works and is not zealous for God transgresses three negative precepts, namely: "Thou shalt have no strange gods before me"; "Thou shalt not make to thee any graven image"; and "Thou shalt not bow down to them nor serve them." Therefore a man should keep away from them. That is why I have left the old man and taken a different path. Now that I have found you I will expound the Scripture in your presence.'

He then discoursed on the text: And he called unto Moses, etc. (Lev. I, 1). He said: 'The aleph of the word vayikra (and he called) is written small in the scroll, to show that this calling was not a perfect one, because it was only in the Tabernacle and in a strange land, perfection being only found in the Holy Land. Further, in the Tabernacle there was only the Shekinah, but in the land there was the complete union of Male and Female. When a king sits on his throne wearing the royal crown, he is called Great King, but when he comes down from his throne and visits his servant, he is called Little King. So God, as long as He is on high over all, is called Supreme King, but when He brings His abode below, He is simply King, not Supreme as before. The word "called", as we have learnt, means that he summoned him to his sanctuary. The "tent of meeting' (mo'ed = also appointed time) means the tent on which depends the reckoning of seasons, festivals. and sabbaths, this being none other than the moon. The word "saying" (lemor, lit. to say) indicates the disclosing of what hitherto was concealed; and so in all places where it occurs (e.g. "And God spoke unto Moses, saying"). it means that permission is given to disclose. It is written just before: "And they brought the tabernacle to Moses" (Ex. XXXIX, 33). The reason why the Israelites brought the Tabernacle to Moses when they had finished it was because God had shown him the whole plan of it on Mount Sinai; so now they brought it to him in order that he might see whether it corresponded to the plan which he had seen. It was as if a king had given orders for a palace to be built for his queen, and had charged the builders to make one room here and one there, here a bedchamber and there a sitting-room, and so when the builders finished they showed it all to the king. So the Israelites brought the Tabernacle to Moses, who was the "master of the house", the "man of God". When the sanctuary was finished, the queen invited the king to it, and invited also her husband, that is to say, Moses the master of the house. Hence Moses was able to "take the tent and pitch it outside" (Ex. XXXIII, 7). [239b] a thing which no one else could possibly have done. The text continues: "And the Lord spoke to him", "the Lord" being another still higher grade.'

He further discoursed as follows. 'The text continues: When any man of you shall offer (Lev. I, 2). The word "man" (Adam) here indicates the union of the sun and the moon. "When he shall offer from you": this is a hint that he who desires to make his service of sacrifice truly acceptable should not be unmarried. "An offering to the Lord": this means that he should offer the whole for the purpose of uniting upper and lower. "From the cattle": to show man and beast as one. "From the oxen and from the sheep": these are the chariots which are clean. "Ye shall offer your offering": the "offering to the Lord" mentioned above was man, but "your offering" is from the cattle, from the herds and the flocks, to display the union of upper with lower and of lower with upper. If a king is sitting on a throne on a very high dais, then one who brings a present to the king has to mount from step to step until he reaches the top, the place where the king is sitting above all, and then it is known that that present is meant for the king. But when the present comes down from the top, then all know that the king is sending it from above to his friend who is below. So at first a man rises step by step from below upwards; this is "the offering of the Lord". Then he comes down step by step: and this is "your offering".' R. Isaac and R. Judah went up to him and kissed his forehead. They said: 'Blessed be God who has favoured us with this, blessed is God that these words have not been wasted on that old man.'

They then rose and went on. As they proceeded, they saw a vine in a garden. The boy then quoted the verse: "Binding his foal to the vine and his ass's colt to the choice vine." He said: 'The word oseri (binding) is written here with a superfluous yod, and the word 'iro (his colt) with he instead of vau. Thus the Holy Name Yah is hinted here. Similarly with the words bni (colt) and sorekah (choice vine). All this is to show that just as there is a Holy Name to subdue the "foal", so there is a Holy Name to subdue another power, which is called "ass"; for if the Holy Name were not hinted here, they would devastate the world. The "vine", as we have said, is the Community of Israel. It is called vine because just as the vine will receive no graft from another tree, so the Community of Israel accepts no master but God, and therefore all other powers are subdued before her, and cannot obtain dominion over her. "He hath washed his garments in wine", even from the time of the Creation the reference being to the coming of the Messiah on earth. "Wine" indicates the left side, and "the blood of grapes" the left side below. The Messiah is destined [240a] to rule above over all the forces of the idolatrous nations and to break their power above and below. We may also explain that as wine brings joyfulness and yet typifies judgement, so the Messiah will bring gladness to Israel, but judgement to the Gentiles. The "spirit of God which hovered over the face of the waters" (Gen. I, 2) is the spirit of the Messiah, and from the time of the Creation he "washed his garments in celestial wine". "His eyes shall be red with wine": this is the intoxicating celestial wine from which the masters of the Torah drink. "And his teeth white with milk", because the Torah is both wine and milk, the Oral and the Written Law. It is written of wine that it "rejoiceth the heart of man" (Ps. CIV, 15). Wine at first brings gladness, being the place from which all gladness issues, but afterwards it brings punishment, because its end is the place where is gathered all punishment. Hence the verse continues: "And oil to make the face shine", to wit, from the place from which all gladness issues. It then says: "And bread that strengtheneth man's heart", bread being the support of mankind. It is not, however, the only support, because there is no night without day, and they must not be separated. If so, it may be asked, why did David say that "bread supports the heart of man"? The answer is that this is why he added the word "and" before "bread", to show that the others are included. Observe that grace after meals should not be said over an empty table, but there should be bread on it and a cup of wine, and the wine should be taken in the right hand, in order to join the Left hand to the Right, and in order that the bread should be blessed by them and linked with them, so that the whole should be linked together to bless the Holy Name fittingly. For the bread being joined with the wine, and the wine with the right hand, blessings rest on the world and the table is duly perfected.' Said R. Isaac: 'Had we come on this journey only to hear these words, it would have been worth our while.' R. Judah said: 'This lad has no right to know so much, and I am afraid he will not live long.' 'Why?' said R. Isaac. 'Because', he answered, 'he is able to see into a place which man has no right to look upon, and I am afraid that before he reaches maturity he will actually look and be punished for it.' The lad heard them and said: 'I have no fear of punishment, because when my father died he blessed me and prayed for me, and I know that the merit of my father will protect me.' They said to him: 'Who, then, is your father?' 'R. Judah, the son of Rab Hamnuna the Elder,' he replied. They then took him up and carried him on their shoulders three miles, applying to him the verse: "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness" (Judg. XV, 14). The boy said to them: 'Since you have quoted the verse, expound it.' Said they to him: 'Since God has led us into the path of life, do you tell us.' He then began: 'We find a certain mystical allusion in this verse. The eater is the Zaddik, as it is written: "The Zaddik eats his fill" (Prov. XII, 25). By "his fill" is meant that he gives sufficiency to the place which is called the Soul of David. "From the eater comes forth food", for but for that Zaddik food would never come forth and the world could not exist. "Out of the strong came forth sweetness": this is Isaac, who blessed Jacob with the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth. We may also explain that were it not for the rigour of justice there would come forth no honey, to wit, the Oral Law, [240b] which comes forth from the Written Law, which is called "strong", as it is written: "The Lord shall give strength to his people" (Ps. XXIX, 11).' They went on together for three days till they reached the court where his mother lived. When she saw them she made preparations for them and they stayed with her two days. They then said farewell to him, and departed, and came and related everything to R. Simeon. He said: 'Truly, he has inherited the Torah, and if not for the merit of his fathers he would be punished from above. But for those who follow the Torah God has made it an inheritance to them and their descendants forever, as it is written: "But as for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord, my spirit which is upon thee, etc." (Is. LIX, 21).'


ZEBULON SHALL DWELL AT THE HAVEN OF THE SEA, ETC. R. Abba discoursed on the verse: Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O mighty One, thy glory and thy majesty. He said: 'Is this glory and majesty, to gird on weapons and to practise the use of them? To study the Torah and to fight battles in the Torah and to arm oneself with it -- this is praiseworthy, this is glory and majesty. The truth of the matter, however, is this. God has given men the sign of a holy covenant, and imprinted it upon them for them to preserve and not impair in any way. He who impairs it is confronted with the sword which avenges the insult to the covenant. Now he who desires to preserve this place should brace himself up to meet the evil prompter, and when the latter assails him should set before his eyes this sword, which is girded on the thigh to punish those who impair this place. Hence it says: "Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O mighty One." Such a one is called "mighty", and hence it is his "glory and majesty". Another explanation is that before setting out on a journey a man should prepare himself with prayer and arm himself with righteousness, which is the supernal sword, as it is written: "Righteousness shall go before him, and (then) he shall set his steps on the way" (Ps. LXXXV, 14). Now Zebulon used always to go out on the roads and highways and make war, and used first to arm himself with this celestial sword of prayer and supplication, and so he fought with peoples and overcame them. You may say that this was the function of Judah, so why is it assigned here to Zebulon?

Observe this. The twelve tribes are the adornment of the Matron. When Jacob was about to depart from the world, and saw that he was perfected on every side, with Abraham at his right, Isaac at his left, himself in the centre, and the Shekinah in front of him, he called his sons round him in order that both the lower and the upper might be fitly adorned .... [241a] The twelve tribes correspond to the twelve oxen which were under the sea of bronze made by Solomon (I Kings VII, 23 sqq.), three for each of the cardinal points. Three of them represented the right Arm, three the left Arm, three the right Thigh, and three the left Thigh. There were three tribes for each, because in each of these limbs there are three joints. And although this "adornment" was only complete with the number of six hundred thousand, yet already at the time of Jacob's death there were the seventy souls who had come down with him to Egypt and the very numerous progeny whom they had already produced in the seventeen years they had been there. Happy the portion of Jacob who was perfected above and below. [241b]

R. Judah said: 'Zebulon and Issachar made an agreement that one should sit and study the Torah while the other went out and made money and supported him. So Zebulon used to traverse the seas with merchandise, and his territory was suitable for this, being on the sea coast. Hence it is written: "Rejoice, Zebulon, in thy going out, and Issachar in thy tents" (Deut. XXXIII, 18).' HE SHALL DWELL AT THE HAVEN OF THE SEAS: that is to say, among those who sail the sea with merchandise. "At the haven of the seas": the plural "seas" is used, because although only one coast belonged to him, yet he dwelt by two. R. Jose said it is because traders from all other seas used to visit his coast. AND HE SHALL BE FOR A HAVEN OF SHIPS: that is, the place where all ships come to do trade. AND HIS BORDER SHALL BE UPON ZIDON. R. Hizkiah said: 'His territory stretched to the boundary of Zidon, and all merchants came to that place to trade.' R. Aha said: 'It is written: "Neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meal-offering; with all thine oblations thou shalt offer salt." Salt was to be used because it softens bitterness, and so mankind cannot do without it. Salt is the covenant upon which the world is established: hence it is called "the covenant of thy God".' R. Hiya said: 'It is written: "For God is righteous, he loves righteousness" (Ps. XI, 7). This is the salt in the sea, and he who separates them brings death upon himself. Hence it is written: "Thou shalt not suffer salt to be lacking."' R. Aha said: 'The sea is all one, but it is called "seas" because in some places the water is clear (and in some turbid), in some sweet, and in some bitter; hence we speak of "seas".'

R. Abba was sitting one night and studying the Torah, when R. Jose came and knocked at his door. He said: 'When the prince sits with the chief, then true judgement is given.' So they sat down and studied the Torah. Meanwhile the son of their host got up and sat before them. He said to them: 'What is the meaning of the verse: "Ye will save alive my father and my mother, etc.", and just before, "And give me a true token" (Jos. Ii, 13-12)? What did Rahab ask of the spies?' R. Abba said: 'That is a good question; if you know an answer, tell me, my son.' He said: 'A further question arises from the fact that they gave her something which she did not ask for, since they said to her: "Thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window, etc." The explanation I have learnt is this. She asked for a sign of life, as it is written, "And ye will save alive my father, etc." She said: "A sign of life is only contained in the sign of truth, which is the letter Vau." In fact, as I have learnt, she asked for the sign of Moses. They, however, gave her a line of scarlet thread, because they said: "Moses is dead, and the sun is gathered in and the time has come for the moon to rule. Therefore we had better give you the sign of the moon, which is this line of scarlet thread. Thus the sign of Joshua shall be with you, because the moon is now in the ascendant."' R. Abba and R. Jose rose [242a] and kissed him, saying: 'Assuredly, you will one day be a head of a college or a great man in Israel'; and, in fact, he became R. Bun.

He then asked a further question, saying: 'Seeing that the twelve tribes were arranged below in the same order as above, why is Zebulon everywhere placed before Issachar in the blessings, although Issachar devoted himself to the Torah, which should always come first? The reason is that Zebulon took out of his own mouth and gave to Issachar. From this we learn that he who supports a student of the Torah is blessed from above and below, and not only so, but he is privileged to eat of two tables, a privilege granted to no other man. He is granted wealth in this world, and he is granted a portion in the next world. Hence it says of Zebulon, that "he shall dwell at the haven of the sea", that is to say, in this world, "and shall be for a haven of ships", in the future world.

He here quoted the verse: "I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes and by the hinds of the fields, if you find my beloved, what will you tell him?" (S. S. V, 8). Why, it may be asked, should the Community of Israel speak thus, seeing that she is near to the king, like no other? The "daughters of Jerusalem", however, are the souls of the righteous, which are constantly near the King, and inform him every day of the requirements of the Matron. For so we have learnt, that when the soul comes down into the world, the Community of Israel makes it swear that it will tell the King her love for him in order to appease him. This appeasement is brought about when man unifies the Holy Name with his mouth, his heart and his soul, to link all together like flame with fire. According to another explanation, the "daughters of Jerusalem" are the twelve tribes, as we have learnt that Jerusalem is established on twelve rocks, three on each side (wherefore it is called Hayah (living one)), and these are called "the daughters of Jerusalem", and they testify to the King concerning the Community of Israel, as it is written: "The tribes of the Lord are a testimony unto Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord" (Ps. CXXII, 4.).' Said R. Judah: 'Happy are Israel who know the ways of God and of whom it is written: "For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God, and thee did the Lord choose, etc." (Deut. XIV, 2).'


ISSACHAR IS A STRONG ASS COUCHING DOWN BETWEEN THE SHEEPFOLDS. R. Eleazar said: 'Why should Issachar, because he studied the Torah, be called an ass, rather than a horse, or a lion, or a leopard? The answer given is that the ass bears a burden patiently and does not kick like other animals, and is not fastidious and will lie down anywhere. So Issachar bears the burden of the Torah and does not kick against the Almighty, and is not fastidious and cares not for his own honour but for the honour of his Master. He therefore "couches between the sheepfolds", as we say of the student of the Torah that he is "willing to sleep on the ground".' [16] He also, in explanation of this verse, quoted the text: "To David. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?" (Ps. XXVII, 1). 'Those who study the Torah', he said, 'are beloved before God, so that they have no fear of evil hap, being protected above and below. Nay more, [242b] such a one subdues all evil haps and casts them down into the great abyss. At nightfall the doors are closed, and dogs and asses commence to roam about the world with permission to do damage. Men sleep on their beds and the souls of the righteous ascend to the bliss above. When the north wind awakes at midnight, then there is a holy stirring in the world, as has been explained in many places. Happy is he who rises at that hour and studies the Torah. For as soon as he begins, all those evil beings are cast by him into the great abyss and he binds the ass and throws him down into the dung-heap. Therefore Issachar, who was a student of the Torah, bound the ass and brought him down from the ladder which he had mounted to do injury to the world, and made him abide between the sheepfolds, that is, in the dung-heap.'


AND HE SAW REST THAT IT WAS GOOD, AND THE LAND THAT IT WAS PLEASANT, AND HE BOWED HIS SHOULDER TO BEAR, AND BECAME A SERVANT UNDER TASK WORK. "Rest" here signifies the Written Law; "the land" signifies the Oral Law; "he bowed his shoulder to bear", namely the yoke of the Law, and to cleave to it day and night; and he "became a servant under task work", to be a worshipper of the Holy One, blessed be He, and to cleave to Him. R. Simeon and R. Jose and R. Hiya were once travelling from Upper Galilee to Tiberias. Said R. Simeon: 'Let us discuss the Torah as we go, for whoever is able to discuss the Torah and does not do so renders his life forfeit, and is further subjected to the burden of worldly cares and the domination of others. This we learn from the verse which says of Issachar that "he turned aside his shoulder from bearing", that is to say, from bearing the yoke of the Law, and straightway "he became a servant under task work". Happy are those that study the Law, for they obtain favour above and below and every day win the inheritance of the future world, as it is written: "To cause them that love me to inherit substance (yesh)" (Prov. VIII, 21), which means the future world. For his waters never fail and he receives a good reward above such as is earned by no other man. This is hinted in the name of Issachar, which we may divide into yesh sachar (yesh is the reward), as much as to say, yesh (substance) is the reward of those who study the Torah.

It is written: "I beheld till thrones were placed and one that was ancient of days did sit, etc." (Dan. VII, 9). When the Temple was destroyed, two thrones fell, that is, two above and two below. Two above, because the lower was removed from the upper, the throne of Jacob from the throne of David, and the throne of David fell. The two thrones below are Jerusalem and the students of the Torah, the latter corresponding to the throne of Jacob and the former to the throne of David. Hence it says that "thrones" were cast down, and not merely one throne, and all on account of the neglect of the Torah. Observe that when the truly pious study the Torah, all the mighty ones of other peoples and other forces are humbled and their power broken, and they have no dominion in the world, and Israel are raised above all. But if not, the ass causes Israel to go into captivity and to fall into the hands of the peoples and to be ruled by them. Why is this? Because "he saw rest that it was good", and that he could obtain from it many comforts and enjoyments, and he perverted his path so as not to bear the yoke of the Torah, and therefore he "became a servant under task work". [243a] Only through him was the knowledge of the Torah kept alive in Israel, as it says: "And of the sons of Issachar were those who had knowledge of the times, etc." (I Chron. XII, 32), and it was they who "caused all delights to be at our doors", to wit, the doors of synagogues and houses of study, "both new and old", because many old and new lessons of the Torah were brought to light by them to bring Israel near to their Father in heaven. "My beloved, I have kept hidden for thee": from this we learn that when one studies the Torah fittingly and knows how to draw the proper lessons from it, his words ascend to the throne of the King and the Community of Israel opens the gates before them and treasures them, and when God enters the Garden of Eden to disport Himself with the righteous, She brings them out before Him and God contemplates them and rejoices; and then God is crowned with noble crowns and rejoices in the Matron, and from that time the words are written in the book. Up to this point extends the sway of Judah, the arm that contained the strength of all sides, the three joints of the arm which enable it to prevail over all.

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:14 am

Part 4 of 4

DAN SHALL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE AS ONE OF THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL. R. Hiya said: 'We should have expected here, "Dan shall judge the tribes of Israel", or "Dan shall judge the tribes of Israel as one." What is the meaning of "Dan shall judge his people"? We may explain as follows. Dan was the "rearward of the camps" (Num. X, 25), because he was the left thigh and went last. For after Judah and Reuben had set forth, the Levites and the Ark made an interval, as it were, and only after them did the standard of Ephraim set forth on the west, being the right thigh. We might have thought that Zebulon should have marched first, since it is written of him: "And his thigh is unto Zidon." But the truth is that Judah comprised all, being the lower kingdom, for just as the upper kingdom comprises all, so does the lower kingdom, both body and thigh, becoming thereby exceedingly strong. The first corps comprised Judah, the kingdom which derives from the side of Might (Geburah), combined with the right hand, the body and the thigh. The second corps was that of Reuben, who was on the south side, which is on the right, and all the power of the right was taken by Judah, because Reuben lost the kingship, and thus Judah was reinforced with the strength of Reuben. The third corps was that of Ephraim, who was the right thigh, which always goes before the left. Thus Dan, who was the left thigh, marched last. We read that "Solomon made a great throne of ivory" (I Kings X, 18). This throne was after the supernal pattern and contained all celestial figures, and therefore it is written: "And Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king" (I Chron. XXIX, 23), and so also "Solomon sat on the throne of David his father and his kingdom was established greatly" (I Kings II, 12), because the moon was at its full.'

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

R. Jose and R. Hizkiah were once going to see R. Simeon in Cappadocia. Said R. Hizkiah: 'We have laid down that a man before praying should first pronounce God's praises. But what of the man who is in great distress and is in haste to pour out his prayer and is not able to pronounce the blessings of his Master fittingly?' He replied: 'That is no reason why the praise of his Master should be omitted. He should pronounce it, even [244a] without proper devotion, and then say his prayer. Thus it is written: "A prayer of David. Hear, O Lord, righteousness, listen to my song" (Ps. XVII, 1) -- first praise and then prayer. Of him who is able to pronounce the praise of his Master and does not do so, it is written: "Yea, when ye make many prayers I will not hear" (Is. I, 15).'

It is written: "The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning, and the second lamb shalt thou offer at even" (Num. XXVIII, 4). Prayers have been ordained to correspond to the daily offerings. Through the impulse from below there is a stirring above, and through the impulse from above there is a stirring higher up still, until the impulse reaches the place where the lamp is to be lit and it is lit. Thus by the impulse of the smoke (of the sacrifice) from below, the lamp is kindled above, and when this is kindled all the other lamps are kindled and all the worlds are blessed from it. Thus the impulse of the sacrifice is the mainstay of the world and the blessing of all worlds. When the smoke commences to rise, the holy forms in charge of the world derive satisfaction, and are disposed thereby to stir the grades above them; and so the impulse rises until the King desires to associate with the Matron. Through the yearning of the lower world the lower waters flow forth to meet the upper waters, for the upper waters do not flow save from the impulse of the desire from below. Thus mutual desire is kindled and the lower waters flow to meet the upper waters, and worlds are blest, and all lamps are kindled, and upper and lower are endowed with blessings. Observe that the function of the priests and Levites is to unite the Left with the Right. Said R. Hizkiah: 'That is so, but I have been told that one rouses the Left and the other the Right, because the union of male and female is only brought about by Left and Right, as it says: "O that his left hand were under my head, and his right hand should embrace me" (S. S. II, 6). Then male and female are united, and there is mutual desire and worlds are blessed and upper and lower rejoice. Hence we see that the sacrifice is the support and the mainstay of the world, and the joy of upper and lower.' Said R. Jose: 'You are certainly right, and I had heard this before but had forgotten it. This, too, I have learnt, that nowadays prayer takes the place of sacrifice, and a man should fittingly pronounce the praise of his Master, and if not, his prayer is no prayer. The most perfect form of praising God is to unify the Holy Name in the fitting manner, for through this upper and lower are set in motion, and blessings flow to all worlds.' R. Hizkiah said: 'God placed Israel in exile among the nations in order that they might be blessed for their sake, for they do bring blessings from heaven to earth every day.'

As they were going along, they saw a snake wriggling on the path, so they turned aside. Another man then came up and the snake killed him. They looked back, and saw him dead, and said: 'Assuredly, that snake has performed the mission of his master. Blessed be God who has delivered us.' R. Jose thereupon quoted the verse: "Dan shall be a serpent in the way." 'This', he said, 'was in the days of Jeroboam, who, we are told, placed one of his golden calves in Dan (I Kings XII, 29). He placed it "on the way" in order to prevent the people from going up to Jerusalem; and thus Dan was to them "a serpent by the way", and also "an adder in the path", preventing Israel from going up to Jerusalem to celebrate their festivals and to bring sacrifices and worship there. [244b] When Moses came to bless the tribes, he saw that Dan was linked to a serpent, and he changed it into a lion, as it says: "And to Dan he said: Dan is a lion's whelp that leapeth forth from Bashan" (Deut. XXXIII, 22), his object being to connect the beginning and end of the four standards with Judah, who was compared to a lion's whelp.'


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


GAD A TROOP SHALL PRESS UPON HIM, BUT HE SHALL PRESS UPON THEIR HEEL. R. Jesse said: 'The conjunction of the two letters gimel and daleth indicates the issuing forth of troops and hosts, gimel giving and daleth receiving. [17] That river which perennially flows from Eden supplies the needy, and therefore many hosts and many camps are sustained from here; and this is the significance of the name Gad, one producing and giving, and the other collecting and taking. R. Isaac said: 'Had Gad not been one of the sons of the handmaids, he would have risen to greater heights than all the rest. For the hour of his birth was propitious, but the flowing river departed at that moment, and therefore he had no share in the Holy Land and was removed from it.' R. Judah said: 'Reuben was in the same case, as it is written of him, "unstable as water, thou shalt not excel", which indicates that at his birth the waters stopped and did not flow. Neither Reuben nor Gad obtained a share in the Holy Land, but they provided troops and forces to conquer the land for Israel. The deficiency of Gad was made good in Asher, as it is written: "Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, etc."'

R. Eleazar and R. Abba once turned aside into a cave at Lydda to escape the heat of the sun. Said R. Abba: 'Let us now encompass this cave with words of the Torah.' R. Eleazar thereupon commenced with the verse: "Place me like a seal upon thy heart, like a seal upon thine arm ... its coals are coals of fire, a very flame of the Lord" (S. S. VIII, 6). 'This verse', he said, 'has been much discussed. One night I was attending on my father, and I heard him say that the true devotion and yearning of the Community of Israel for God is only brought about by the souls of the righteous, who cause the flow of the lower waters towards the upper; and then there is perfect friendship and desire for mutual embrace to bring forth fruit. When they cleave to one another, in the fullness of her affection she says: "Set me as a seal upon thine heart." For, as the impress of a seal remains even after the seal is removed, so, says the Community of Israel, I shall cleave to thee, even though I am removed from thee and go [245a] into captivity. Hence, "Set me as a seal upon thy heart" in order that my likeness may remain upon thee like the impress of a seal. "For love is strong as death": it is strong like the parting of the spirit from the body, as we have learnt that when man is about to depart from the world and sees strange things, his spirit courses through all his limbs and goes up and down like a boatman without oars who is tossed up and down on the sea and makes no progress. It then asks leave of each limb; and its separation is only effected with great violence. Such is the violence of the Community of Israel's love for God. "Jealousy is cruel as the grave." Love without jealousy is no true love. Hence we learn that a man should be jealous of his wife in order that his love for her may be perfect, for then he will not look at any other woman. Jealousy is compared to Sheol (the underworld), because just as the wicked are frightened of going down to Sheol, so is jealousy frightful in the eyes of one who loves and cannot bear to be parted from his beloved. Or we may also explain that just as when sinners are taken down to Sheol they are told the sins for which they are punished, so he who is jealous in demanding restitution reckons up all his grievances, and so his love becomes more firmly knit. "The flashes thereof are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord." This is the flame which is kindled and issues from the Shofar. It is the left hand, as it is written: "His left hand should be under my head" (S. S. VIII, 3). It is this which kindles the flame of love in the Community of Israel to the Holy One, blessed be He. Therefore "many waters cannot quench love", because when the right hand comes, although it is symbolized by water, it fans the fire of love and does not quench the flame of the left hand, as it is written: "And his right hand should embrace me."'

As they were sitting they heard R. Simeon coming up the road, with R. Judah and R. Isaac. When he approached the cave, R. Eleazar and R. Abba came out. R. Simeon said: 'I can see from the walls of the cave that the Shekinah is here.' So they all sat down. Said R. Simeon: 'What have you been discussing?' R. Abba replied: 'The love of the Community of Israel for God, and R. Eleazar applied to it the verse: "Set me as a seal upon thine heart, etc.'" Said R. Simeon: 'Eleazar, you have been scrutinizing the supernal love and affection.' He then fell into silence for a while. At last he said: 'Silence is good everywhere except in connection with the Torah. I have a certain gem which I do not desire to withhold from you. It is a profound thought which I have found in the book of Rab Hamnuna the Elder. It is this. Everywhere the male runs after the female and seeks to incite her love, but here we find the female courting the male and running after him, which it is not usually reckoned proper for the female to do. But there is here a deep mystery, much prized among the treasures of the king. There are three souls belonging to the celestial grades. The three are really four, because one is the supernal soul, which is not clearly discerned, even by the treasurer of the upper treasury, much less the lower. This is the soul of all souls, inscrutable and unknowable. Everything is dependent upon it, and it is veiled in a covering of exceeding brightness. It drops pearls which are linked together like the joints of the body, and it enters into them and displays through them its energy. It and they are one, and there is no separation between them. There is another, a female soul which is concealed in the midst of her hosts, to which is attached [245b] the body, and through this body she shows her energy, like the soul in the human body. Those hosts are the counterpart of the hidden joints above. There is another soul, to wit, the souls of the righteous below. These come from those superior souls, the soul of the female and the soul of the male, and therefore the souls of the righteous are superior to all the heavenly hosts and camps. You may ask, if they are so transcendent from both sides, why do they come down to this world to be afterwards removed from it? Imagine a king who had a son whom he sent to a village to be brought up until he should learn the ways of the king's palace. When the king heard that his son was grown up, out of his love for him he sent the Matron his mother for him, and brought him into the palace, where he rejoiced with him every day. So the Holy One, blessed be He, had a son from the Matron, to wit, the celestial holy soul. He sent it to a village, to wit, to this world, to be brought up in it, and learn the ways of the king's palace. When the king found that his son had grown up, and that it was time to bring him to the palace, out of his love for him he sent the Matron for him and brought him into the palace. The soul does not depart from this world till the Matron has come for her and brought her into the king's palace, where she remains forever. And for all that, the inhabitants of the village weep for the parting of the king's son from them. There was one wise man among them who said: "Why are you weeping? Was he not the king's son, and is not his proper place in his father's palace and not among you?" So Moses, who was a wise man, saw the villagers weeping, and said to them: "Ye are sons of the Lord your God, ye shall not cut yourselves" (Deut. XIV, 1). Now, if the righteous all knew this, they would rejoice when their time arrives to depart from this world. For is it not a great honour for them that the Matron comes for their sakes to bring them to the King's palace, so that the King may rejoice in them every day? For God hath no delight save in the souls of the righteous. Now the love of the Community of Israel for God is excited only by the souls of the righteous here on earth, because they come from the side of the king, the side of the male. This excitement reaches the female and stirs her love; and in this way the male awakens the female and affection of the female, and the female is united in love with the male. In the same way, the desire of the female to pour forth lower waters to meet the upper waters is only aroused through the souls of the righteous. Happy, therefore, are the righteous in this world and in the world to come, since on them are established upper and lower beings. Hence it is written: "The righteous man is the foundation of the world" (Prov. X, 25). Esoterically speaking, the Zaddik is the foundation of the upper world and the foundation of the lower world, and the Community of Israel contains the Zaddik from above and from below. The righteous one from this side and the righteous one from that side inherit her, as it is written: "The righteous shall inherit the earth" (Ps. XXXVII, 29).

The Righteous One inherits this earth, and pours upon it blessings every day, and furnishes it with luxuries and delicacies in his flow. All this is hinted in the words: OUT OF ASHER HIS BREAD SHALL BE FAT, AND HE SHALL YIELD ROYAL DAINTIES. It is from the future world that the stream reaches this Righteous One which enables him to provide luxuries and delicacies to this earth, thus transforming it from "the bread of poverty" into "the bread of luxury". [246a] The name "Asher" (lit. happy) signifies the place which all declare happy, to wit, the future world. In the expression "his bread" the reference of the word "his" is not specified; but we may divide the word lahmo (his bread) into lehem vau, that is, "the bread of vau" (which signifies the heavens); hence it is written: "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you" (Ex. XVI, 4). It is from thence that the tree of life is nourished and crowned, and when it receives this nourishment, then it "yields the dainties of the king". This king is the Community of Israel, who is fed therefrom by the hand of the Righteous One, the sacred grade of the sign of the covenant. In the book of Rab Hamnuna the Elder it says that the bread mentioned here is the Sabbath bread, which is double in quantity, as it is written in connection with the manna: "They gathered double bread" (Ex. XVI, 22); that is to say, bread from heaven and bread from earth, the one being "bread of luxury", the other "bread of poverty". For on Sabbath the lower bread was united with the upper bread, and one was blessed for the sake of the other. He further said that the Sabbath receives from the celestial Sabbath which flows forth and illumines all, and in this way bread is joined with bread and becomes double.


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


WHO GIVETH GOODLY WORDS. The Voice speaks to the Utterance, there being no voice without utterance. This Voice is sent from a deep recess above in order to guide the Utterance, the two being related as general and particular. The Voice issues from the south and speaks to the west, inheriting two sides, and therefore Moses said to Naphtali: "Possess thou the west and the south" (Deut. XXXIII, 23). Observe that Thought is the beginning of all. This Thought is recondite and inscrutable, but when it expands it reaches the place where spirit abides and is then called Understanding (binah), which is not so recondite as the preceding. This spirit expands and produces a Voice composed of fire, water, and air, which corresponds to north, south, and east. This Voice embraces in itself all forces, and speaks to Utterance, and this shapes the word properly. When you examine the grades closely, you find that Thought, Understanding, Voice, Utterance are all one and the same, and there is no separation between them, and this is what is meant by the words: "The Lord is one and His Name is One."


JOSEPH IS A FRUITFUL BOUGH, A FRUITFUL BOUGH BY A FOUNTAIN. The words "fruitful bough" are repeated to show that he is such both above and below. Observe that the holy kingdom does not attain its perfection as holy kingdom until it is joined with the patriarchs. Then its structure is completed from the upper world, [247a] which is the world of the male. The upper world is called "seven years" because all the "seven years" [18] are in it. The mnemonic of this is "and he built it seven years" (I Kings VI, 38). By means of this the lower world was built, which also is alluded to as "seven years". The mnemonic for this is "Seven days and seven days, fourteen days" (I Kings VIII, 66), the first seven being male and the second female. It is written: "Many daughters have done virtuously" (Prov. XXXI, 29). These are the twelve tribes who did valiantly. Hence it is written here: "The daughters advanced upon the wall"; that is to say, the daughters took part in the adornment of the Shekinah, but not the sons. BUT HIS BOW ABODE IN STRENGTH. This means that the bow which was his mate clothed him with strength and kept him firm, knowing that he would not go astray right or left in regard to his own proper grade of the sign of the covenant. AND THE ARMS OF HIS HANDS WERE MADE STRONG: the word vayaphozu (were made strong) is akin to the word paz (fine gold), and indicates that his arms were adorned with precious jewels. By THE HANDS OF THE MIGHTY ONE OF JACOB: these are the two sides to which Jacob held fast. FROM THENCE HE FED THE STONE OF ISRAEL: by him was supported that precious stone, as we have said. Or again, it may mean that that precious stone was sustained by these two sides which are north and south, and between which it was placed by the hands of the Righteous One.

Observe that Joseph received an extra blessing, as it is written: EVEN FROM THE GOD OF THY FATHER, HE SHALL HELP THEE. Jacob gave Joseph an inheritance above and below. The inheritance above was given in these words: "from the God of the father", the place called "heaven". He added: "And he shall help thee", to show that this place would not be exchanged for any other place, and his support would be from this place and from no other. AND WITH THE ALMIGHTY: this signifies another and lower grade, indicated by the word eth (with), from which issue blessings to the world. [247b]

Up to this point the blessings were given in general; they were now particularized with the words: BLESSINGS OF HEAVEN ABOVE, ETC. THE BLESSINGS OF THY FATHER HAVE PREVAILED ABOVE THE BLESSINGS OF MY PROGENITORS. This was so because Jacob inherited the cream of all more than the other patriarchs, he being perfect in all, and he gave all to Joseph. This was fitting, because the Righteous One takes all and inherits all, and all blessings are deposited with him. He first dispenses blessings above, and all the limbs of the body are disposed so as to receive them, and thus is brought into being the "river which goes forth from Eden". Why Eden (lit. delight)? Because whenever all the limbs are knit together in harmony and in mutual delight, from top to bottom, then they pour blessings upon it, and it becomes a river which flows forth, literally, from "delight". Or again, the word "Eden" may refer to the supreme Wisdom, from which the whole flows forth like a river until it reaches this grade, where all is turned to blessing. The two interpretations are practically the same.


UNTO THE UTMOST BOUND OF THE EVERLASTING HILLS. Or better, "unto the desire (ta'avath) of, etc." These everlasting hills are two females, one above and one below, each of whom is called 'olam (a world). The desire of all the limbs of the Body is for those two Mothers, from below to suck from the higher Mother, and from above to be linked with the lower Mother, both desires being in essence the same. Therefore, THEY SHALL ALL BE ON THE HEAD OF JOSEPH, so that the grade of the Righteous One should be blessed and receive all as befits. Happy are they who are called righteous, for only he is so called who observes this grade, this sign of the holy covenant. Happy are they in this world and in the world to come.

They now went out of the cave. Said R. Simeon: 'Let each one of us give some exposition as we go along.' R. Eleazar commenced with the next verse:


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


AND AT EVEN HE SHALL DIVIDE THE SPOIL. 'The evening sacrifice was brought wholly to God, and the stirring ascended thither. And having received His blessing, He linked up all the other celestial powers and assigned to each its fitting blessings, so that worlds were gratified and upper and lower were blessed. This is hinted in the verse: "I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey" first of all; and afterwards He shares out among all and says: "Eat, O friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved" (S. S. V, 1). Think not that the offering is brought to them or to any other power, but all is to the Lord, and He dispenses blessings to all the worlds.' Said R. Simeon: 'My son, you have said well. The whole object of the sacrifice is to set blessings in motion. First it is "an offering to the Lord" and no other, and then "you shall bring your offering" (i.e. carry away your gift), in that all worlds will be linked together and upper and lower will be blessed.'

R. Abba then commenced with the next verse: ALL THESE ARE THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL. 'The word "all" signifies that they were all attached irremovably to the place from which all blessings issue. The "twelve" refers to the twelve links of the adornments of the Matron, she being joined with them. AND THIS IT IS THAT THEIR FATHER SPAKE UNTO THEM AND BLESSED THEM. The word "spake" indicates that in this place speech has scope. Further, we have here the union of upper with lower and of lower with upper. Below there is a union through the twelve tribes to which Zoth (this) was joined. The words "that he spoke" indicate the union of male and female. Thus there is a union on two sides, below and above. Finally, he united them in the place above, male and female together, as it is written: "Every one according to his blessing, etc." Similarly in the verse, "The Lord bless thee out of Zion, and see thou the good of Jerusalem, all the days of thy life" (Ps. CXXVII, 5), Zion is mentioned because from it issue blessings to water the garden, and then Jerusalem is mentioned to show that all blessings issue from male and female together. Similarly it is written: "The Lord bless thee and keep thee" (Num. VI, 24) -- "bless" from the male, and "keep" from the female.' [248b]

R. Judah opened with the verse: AND WHEN JACOB MADE AN END OF CHARGING HIS SONS, ETC. 'We should have expected here "blessing" instead of "charging". What it means, however, is that he charged them to remain united with the Shekinah. He also charged them concerning the cave (of Machpelah), which is near the Garden of Eden, and where Adam was buried. That place was called Kiriath Arba (lit. city of four) because four couples were buried there -- Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah. A difficulty arises here. We have learnt that the patriarchs are the "holy chariot", and a chariot consists of not less than four. We have further learnt that God joined King David with them so as to form a complete chariot. If so, then David ought to have been joined with them in the cave. The reason, however, why he was not buried with them was because a fitting place was prepared for him elsewhere, namely Zion. As for Adam, the patriarchs were buried with him because he was the first king, though the kingship was taken from him and given to David, who derived his seventy years from the years of Adam. As the patriarchs could not go on living till David appeared, he was assigned a fitting place elsewhere and was not buried with them.'


HE GATHERED UP HIS FEET INTO THE BED. Since he was abiding in the place of the living, when he was about to depart from the world he gathered his feet into the bed. This is illustrated by the verse: "My soul yearns and longs for the courts of the Lord" (Ps. LXXXIV, 2). The Companions have explained this as follows. There are lower abodes and higher abodes. In the higher there are no dwellers, they being the inner room, but the outer rooms are called "courts of the Lord", because they are filled with love and desire for the female. When the soul departs, it turns wholly to the female, being united with it in whole-hearted desire. It is not said that Jacob died, but only that he "yielded up the ghost and was gathered unto his people". The words "he gathered up his feet into the bed" indicate that the sun was gathered in unto the moon. The sun does not die, but is gathered in from the world and goes to join the moon. When Jacob was gathered in, the moon was illumined, and the desire of the supernal sun was awakened for her, because when the sun departs, another sun arises and attaches itself to the first, and the moon is illumined.' Said R. Simeon: 'You are quite right. It has, however, been affirmed that above, the world of the male is joined with a lower one, which is the world of the female, and that the lower world is joined with the upper, and so one is the counterpart of the other. It has also been affirmed that there are two worlds, and although there are two females, one is supported by the male and one by the female. It is written: "The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him" (Prov. XXXI, 1). The secret meaning of this verse is not known. We may, however, render "the words which were spoken for the sake of El (God) [249a] who is king". Observe that Jacob was gathered into the moon and through it produced fruit [19] in the world, and there is no generation without the fruit of Jacob, because he gave an impulse above. Happy is the portion of Jacob, since he was made perfect above and below, as it is written: "Fear not thou, O Jacob my servant, saith the Lord, for I am with thee" (Jer. XLVI, 28); it does not say "for thou art with me", but "for I am with thee", as has been pointed out.'

R. Isaac opened with the verse: AND THEY CAME TO THE THRESHING FLOOR OF ATAD. He said: 'What does it concern us that they came to the threshing floor of Atad, and why should there have been a great mourning there to the Egyptians? It has, however, been stated that as long as Jacob was in Egypt the land was blessed for his sake, and the Nile used to rise and water it, and, in fact, the famine ceased at his coming. Hence the Egyptians mourned for him.' R. Isaac here quoted the verse: "Who can utter the severities (geburoth) of the Lord or show forth all his praise?" (Ps. CXI, 2). 'We have here', he said, 'the unusual word yemallel (utter) instead of the more usual yedaber (speak). Such variations in the Scripture are never without significance. So here, the word yemallel is akin to the word meliloth (cuttings), and is applied to the severities of the Lord because they are so numerous. For every sentence of punishment issues from there, and who is there who can annul one decree of those forcible acts which God performs? Or, again, we may take "utter" as being synonymous with "speak", and the meaning is that no man can recite the severities of the Lord, because they are innumerable, and there is no end to the officers of judgement. They can only be known by a recital which contains allusions of Wisdom, but not by straightforward speech. "Or show forth all his praise": for many are the grades which join in praise, hosts and camps without number, as it is written: "Can his hosts be counted?" See now, the Egyptians were all clever, and came from the side of Geburah. They knew countless hosts and camps and grades upon grades till they came to the lowest grades. Through their divinations they were aware that as long as Jacob was alive no people could gain dominion over his sons. They also knew that they would enslave Israel many times. When Jacob died they rejoiced, but looking farther afield, they foresaw the punishments which would issue from Atad, [20] so when they came to this place "they lamented there with a very great and sore lamentation". And they rightly called it the "mourning of the Egyptians", because it was truly a mourning for them and for no others.'

R. Simeon made as though to depart, when he said: 'I see that on this day a house will fall in the town and bury two informers in its ruins. If I am in the town the house will not fall.' So they returned to the cave and sat down. R. Simeon then discoursed on the verse: Raise thy voice, O daughter of Gallim, etc. (Is. X, 30). [249b] 'This verse', he said, 'was addressed to the Community of Israel, which lauds God with the voice of praise. We learn from here that anyone who desires to praise God with singing should have an agreeable voice in order that those who listen may derive pleasure from hearing him; if not, he should not come forward to sing. The Levites were commanded to retire from service at the age of fifty (Num. VIII, 25), because at that age a man's voice begins to fail and is no longer so agreeable. The word Gallim (lit. heaps) indicates the future world, in which heaps of things are contained. The verse continues: "O listen, Laishah", this laishah (lit. lioness) signifies power to crush hostile forces, and when Israel sing praises then this listens. The verse continues: "Poor Anathoth." When the moon is full it is called "the field of apples", but when it is defective it is called "the field of Anathoth (poverty)". Hence, praise from below affords it wealth and completeness, and so David all his lifetime sought to provide this completeness by chanting hymns of praise below. When David died he left it complete, and Solomon received it at its full, since the moon had escaped from poverty and entered into riches. By means of this riches Solomon ruled over all the kings of the earth, and therefore "silver was not accounted for anything in the days of Solomon" (I Kings X, 21), but everything was of gold; and of that time it is written: "And he had dust of gold" (Job XXVIII, 6). For the sun shining on the dust of the mountain tops turned it into gold. From the rays of the sun beating on the mountains the dust [250a] of the earth among the mountains became gold. And but for the wild beasts that roamed there, men would not have been poor. When Solomon observed this he called aloud: "All was from the dust" (Eccl. Ill, 20). Hence Solomon had no need to sing like David, save one song which is beloved of wealth, and is the jewel and favourite of all chants of praises, since it contains the praises recited by the Matron when she sits on the throne opposite the King. Everything was gold, and dust was joined with the left hand, on the side of love, and the sun clung to it and did not part from it. Solomon was hereby led into error. He saw that the moon had approached the sun and the right hand was embracing and the left hand under the head. Seeing this he said: "What need is there of the right hand here, seeing that they have drawn near to one another?" God then said to him: "I swear to thee that as thou hast rejected the right hand, thou shalt one day require the kindness (hesed) [21] of men and shalt not obtain it." Straightway the sun parted from the moon, and the moon began to darken, and Solomon went begging and said: "I am Koheleth", and no one would show him kindness.

'It is written: "The old lion perishes without prey, and the young of the lioness are scattered" (Job IV, 11). When the lioness gives food, all the (heavenly) hosts come together and draw sustenance. But when she is without prey on account of the Galuth, then they are scattered to different sides. Hence, when the sacrifices were offered they were all supported and drew near together, as we have said. But now that there are no sacrifices, then indeed "the young of the lioness are scattered". Hence, there is no day without punishment, because upper and lower do not receive the proper impulse, as we have said. Now it is prayer which gives the proper impulse above and below, and through the blessings with which we bless God upper and lower are blessed. Hence worlds are blessed through the prayer of Israel. He who blesses God is blessed, and he who does not bless God is not blessed. Rab Hamnuna the Elder would not allow anyone else to take the cup of blessing, but he himself took it in his two hands and said the blessing. We have affirmed that the cup should be taken in the right hand, and not in the left. It is called "cup of salvations" (Ps. CXVI, 13), because through it blessings are drawn from the supernal salvations, and in it is collected the supernal wine. Also, the table over which the blessing is said should not be devoid of both bread and wine. The Community of Israel is called "cup of blessing", and therefore the cup should be raised both by the right hand and the left hand, so as to be set between. [250b] It should be filled with wine, because of the wine of the Torah which issues from the future world. There is a mystic allusion in this cup of blessing to the holy chariot. The right and left hands correspond to the north and south, between which is "the couch of Solomon". He who says the blessing should fix his eye upon the cup to bless it with four blessings. Thus the cup contains the emblem of faith, north, south, east, and west, and so the holy chariot. There should be bread on the table in order that the lower bread may be blessed, and the "bread of poverty" may become the "bread of luxury". In this way the Community of Israel will be blessed in all four directions, above and below -- above by the bread of blessing and the cup of blessing through which King David is joined to the patriarchs, and below, that bread should never be lacking from the Israelite's table.'

They all rose and kissed his hands, saying: "God be blessed who has brought us into the world to hear all this." They then left the cave and went on their way. When they reached the town, they saw a funeral procession for some men who had died through a house falling on them, and in whom were included some informers, as R. Simeon had said. R. Simeon quoted the text: "And they came to the threshing-floor of Atad", saying: 'This is a hint of the passing of the dominion of the Egyptians to give place to the dominion of Israel; and hence it was that they "lamented with a very great and sore lamentation". So here also these people are not mourning for the Jews, although there are some Jews among the dead; and even these, had they been really Jews, would not have been killed, and since they have died God pardons their sins.'

R. Simeon said: 'Although Jacob died in Egypt, yet his soul did not depart in a foreign land, since when he died his soul was straightway joined to its place, as we have stated. When Jacob entered the cave, all the perfumes of Eden filled it and a light went up from it and a lamp was kindled there. When the patriarchs went to Jacob in Egypt, to be with him, the light of the candle departed, but when Jacob entered the cave it returned. With his admission the cave obtained its full complement, and it never again received another occupant, nor will it ever receive one. The souls that are worthy pass before the patriarchs in the cave in order that they may awake and behold the seed which they have left in the world, and rejoice before the Almighty.'

R. Abba asked: 'What was the embalming of Jacob?' He said to him: 'Go and ask a physician. It says: "and Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father, and the physicians embalmed Israel". Apparently, this embalming was like that of any other person. It cannot have been on account of the journey to Canaan, because Joseph also was embalmed and yet he was not taken out of the country. The real reason was that it was the custom to embalm kings in order to preserve their bodies. They were embalmed with very special oil mixed with spices. This was rubbed on them day after day for forty days. After that, the body could last for a very long time. For the air of the land of Canaan and of the land of Egypt corrupts the body [251a] more rapidly than that of any other country. Hence they do this to preserve the body, embalming it within and without. They place the oil on the navel, and it enters into the body and draws out the inside, and thus preserves it inside and outside. It was fitting that Jacob's body should be so preserved, since he was the body of the patriarchs. Similarly Joseph, who was an emblem of the body, was preserved both in body and soul-in body, as it says "and they embalmed him", in soul, as it is written, "and he was put in a coffin in Egypt". The word vayisem (and he was put) is spelt with two yods, one of them to indicate an ark above which is called "the ark of the covenant", which Joseph inherited because he kept the covenant. There is also another hint in this expression, to wit, that although he died on a foreign soil, his soul was united with the Shekinah, the reason being that he was righteous, and every righteous one inherits the celestial holy land, as it is written: "And thy people are all righteous, they shall forever inherit the land, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified" (Is. LX, 21).'



1. The first four and a half pages of this section (211b-216a) are declared by all the commentators to be an interpolation, containing much erroneous doctrine.

2. i.e. students of the esoteric doctrine.

3. viz. that R. Isaac should live.

4. i.e. angels.

5. The translation of the three-and-a-half pages here omitted (219b-221b) will be found in the Zohar on Leviticus, 104b. to which they properly belong.

6. Metatron.

7. The appearance of the rainbow, reminding God of His promise not to destroy the world, is a proof that there are no righteous who could protect the world by their merits alone. Vide T. B. Kethuboth. 77b.

8. The seventy Chieftains.

9. The Shekinah.

10. Which was regarded as the side of the Shekinah.

11. Because the territory of Reuben was across the Jordan.

12. i.e. Metatron.

13. Lit. "daughter of a voice". According to the Rabbis, on certain occasions during the period of the Second Temple, a voice issued from heaven to give the Jewish people guidance or warning; and this was called by them bath-kol.

14. Esau.

15. i.e. perhaps his soul is the first time on earth and thine the second time.

16. v. Ethics of the Fathers, VI, 4.

17. Gimel (g'mul) = beneficence, and Daleth (dalluth) = poverty. The connection with armies is not clear.

18. i.e. the seven Sefiroth.

19. i.e. souls.

20. An allusion to the "mighty hand" with which God smote the Egyptians, the word "lad having the same numerical value as yad (hand).

21. which comes from the Right.



ADAM. The Sefiroth, [1] or divine grades, represented as a man, e.g. Hesed the right arm, Hod the left thigh, etc.

AGADAHS. Homilies and discourses of the Rabbis.

ARQA. One of the seven levels of the earth.

ARMS. The divine grades Hesed (Right Arm) and Genurah (Left Arm) (v. Adam).

BEAUTY OF ISRAEL. The Sefirah Tifereth.

BODY. The Sefirah Tifereth.

CHARIOT. That which God directly controls.

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

COVENANT. The sign of circumcision (v. Genesis XVII).

CROWNED. Glorified.

DAUGHTER. Same as Female (q.v.).

DISCLOSED. The divine grades following the first three.

DROSS OF GOLD. The k'lifoth, outer shells or lower-grade spirits.

DUMA. The spirit in charge of Gehinnom.

EL SHADDAI. God Almighty.

FATHER. The second of the divine grades (v. Appendix, Vol. I).

FEMALE. The last of the divine grades, synonymous with the Shekinah (v. Appendix).

FIELD OF APPLE-TREES. The Garden of Eden.

FIRE. The emblem of the grade Geburah.

FOUNDATION OF WORLD. A synonym for the Zaddik (q.v.).

GEBURAH (lit. force, might). The presiding grade of the left side, the source of rigour and chastisement (v. Appendix).


GRADE. Any degree in the scale of being; often = angel, or demon.

HANUKAH. The Feast of Dedication.

HAYYAH (lit. animal). The highest grade of angel.

HUSBAND. The divine grade called Hokmah (Wisdom).

ISRAEL. A name given to the highest of the divine grades.

JUBILEE. The supernal world; Moses as distinguished from Jacob.

KING. The highest of the divine grades.

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

LAND OF LIFE. The Future World.

LEBANON (Trees or Cedars of). The Six Days of Creation with their associated grades.

LEFT. The side of Geburah (v. Appendix).

MALE. The upper world in its relation to the Shekinah (v. Appendix).


MATRON. One of the names of the Shekinah.

MAZZAL (lit. constellation, luck). The allotted portion of a human being.

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

MEZUZAH (lit. doorpost). A scroll containing Biblical verses attached to a doorpost (v. Deut. VI, 9).

MIRROR. The source of the prophetic faculty in one or other of the firmaments, luminous for Moses, dim for others.

MOON. One of the names of the Shekinah (v. Appendix).

MOTHER. The third of the divine grades (v. Appendix, Vol. 1).

NEFESH. The vital principle, the lowest of the three grades of the soul.

NESHAMAH. The moral consciousness, the highest of the three grades of the soul.

NORTH. The side of Geburah.

ONKELOS. The reputed translator of the Chaldaic version of the Pentateuch.

ORLAH (lit. foreskin). The condition of being unreceptive of the Shekinah.

PATRIARCHS. The three highest of the divine grades.

PRINCE OF THE WORLD. Metratron (q.v.).

RED. The symbolic colour of the divine attribute of judgement or severity.

RIGHT. The side of Hesed (v. Appendix).

RIGHTEOUS ONE (v. Zaddik).

RUAH (lit. spirit). The intellectual faculty, the middle of the three grades of the soul.

SABBATICAL YEAR. The seven secondary divine grades; a name applied to Jacob when compared with Moses.

SACRED LAMP. R. Simeon b. Yohai.

SHEKINAH (lit. neighbourhood, abiding). The Divine Presence (v. Appendix).

SHEMA (lit. hear). The proclamation of the unity of God, commencing with 'Hear, O Israel' (v. Deut. VI, 4).

SHEOL. The under world.

SOUTH. The side of the divine attribute of mercy.

SUN. The upper world in relation to the Shekinah (v. Appendix).

TALITH. A garment with fringes (v. Num. XV, 38).

THIGHS. The divine grades Nezah (Victory), and Hod (Majesty) (v. Adam).

TORAH. The Law of Moses, especially the esoteric doctrine.

UNDISCLOSED. The three highest of the divine grades.

VAU. The sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and third of the sacred Name, symbolizing the original heavens.

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

WATER. The symbol of the divine attribute of Hesed (kindness or mercy).

WELL. The supernal source of being.

WHITE. The symbolical colour of the divine attribute of mercy or kindness (Hesed).

WIFE. The divine grade called Elohim or Binah (understanding).

WINE. The symbol of the divine attribute of rigour or severity (Geburah).

WISDOM. The esoteric doctrine of the divine grades.

YOD. The tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

ZADDIK (lit. righteous). The divine grade associated with the covenant.



1. For the Sefiroth and divine grades, v. Introduction and Appendix, Vol. 1.
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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:15 am


The Soncino Press desire to acknowledge the services of Dr. Paul P. Levertoff, whose work in collaboration with the translators of the first two volumes has materially helped to expedite publication of Volume III.
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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:16 am

Part 1 of 4


Ex. I, 1-VI, 1

NOW THESE ARE THE NAMES OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL WHICH CAME INTO EGYPT: EVERY MAN AND HIS HOUSEHOLD CAME WITH JACOB. It is written: And the wise shall be resplendent as the splendour (zohar) of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness shall be like the stars for ever and ever (Dan. XII, 3). "The wise" are those who penetrate to the real essence of wisdom; "they shall be resplendent", i.e. illumined with the radiance of the supernal Wisdom; "as the splendour", this is the flashing of the Stream that goes forth from Eden (Gen. XI, 10), this being alluded to as "the firmament". There are suspended the stars, the planets, the sun and the moon, and all the radiant lights. The brightness of this firmament shines upon the Garden of Eden, and in the midst of the Garden stands the Tree of Life, whose branches spread over all forms and trees and spices in fitting vessels. All the beasts of the field and all the fowls of the air shelter beneath the branches of this Tree. The fruit of the Tree gives life to all. It is everlasting. The "other side" has no abode therein, but only the side of holiness. Blessed are they who taste thereof; they will live for ever and ever, and it is they who are called "the wise", and they are vouchsafed life in this world as well as in the world to come.

The Tree rises to a height of five hundred parasangs, and its circumference is six myriads of parasangs. Within this Tree is a light [1] out of which radiate certain colours: they come and go, never being at rest save in the Tree. Should they issue from it to show themselves in the brightness which does not shine of itself, [2] they are not at rest but flit about. From this Tree went forth twelve tribes, [3] who had long been warmed by it, and they went down with this light that does not shine of itself into the exile of Egypt, accompanied by multitudes of heavenly hosts.

R. Simeon compared the Egyptian with the Babylonian exile, basing his remarks on the text: "The word of the Lord came (lit. coming came) to Ezekiel" (Ezek. I, 3). 'Why', he said, 'the double expression "coming came"? [2b] Moreover, if Ezekiel was indeed a faithful prophet, why did he disclose the whole of his vision? Is it right and meet for one whom the king has invited to his palace to reveal all the secrets which he has seen there? Now Ezekiel was indeed a faithful prophet, and whatever he saw he faithfully kept secret, and whatever he revealed he revealed by permission of the Holy One, blessed be He, and for proper reasons. Observe now that one who is accustomed to pain bears it patiently, but if one is not accustomed to pain and has always lived at ease, when pain comes upon him he really feels it keenly and deserves to be pitied. So when Israel went to Egypt they were inured to suffering, their father, the righteous Jacob, having been all his life a man of sorrows, and they could thus endure the exile patiently. But the exile of Babylon was a real torment for which there was weeping both in heaven and on earth, as it is written: "Behold, their heroes (angels) cried without, the angels of peace weeped bitterly" (Isa. XXXIII, 7); "by the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion" (Ps. CXXXVII, 1): yea truly, all joined in the lamentation. They who had been brought up in royal luxury were now driven into exile with their necks yoked and their hands fettered; and when they reached the land of exile despair settled in their hearts, and they thought that they would never be raised up again, since God had deserted them. At that hour the Holy One called together all His heavenly hosts, His Family above, all the holy Chariots, the lower and the higher ranks, the whole celestial army, and spoke to them thus: "What do ye here? My beloved children are captives in Babylon, and do ye remain here? Arise, all of you, and go to them, and I will go with you." When the celestial Company arrived in Babylon, the heavens opened, and the holy spirit of prophecy descended upon Ezekiel, and he saw his wonderful vision, and proclaimed to the exiles: "Behold, your Master is here, and all the celestial beings have come down to be your companions." But they believed it not, and so he was compelled to disclose to them the whole of his heavenly vision. Then their joy was exceedingly great, and they reeked not of the exile, knowing that the Lord Himself was in their midst. They were all filled with a perfect love of Him, ready to sacrifice themselves for the holiness of the All-Holy, blessed be He! This is the reason why the prophet disclosed to them all that he saw.

'We have been taught that wherever Israel went into captivity the Shekinah went with her. We learn this in the present instance from the expression "children of [the supernal] Israel", which we take here to refer to the heavenly hosts and chariots, which, we are told, "came with Jacob to Egypt".' R. Hiya cited in this connection the verse: Come with me from Lebanon, bride, with me from Lebanon! Look from the top of Amana, from the top of Senir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards. (S.S. IV, 8). 'This', he said, 'refers to the Community of Israel. When the Community of Israel left Egypt and went up to Mount Sinai to receive the Law, the Holy One said to her: "Come with Me, My bride, with Me, Lebanah (lit. white), thou moon who receivest thy light from the Sun! [3a] Look (tashuri), a beautiful present (teshurah) wilt thou receive for thy children, from the top of Amana, from the realm of the supernal Faith (emunah)", the reference in the last word being to the children of Israel when they said, "all that the Lord hath said we will do, and obey" (Ex. XXIV, 7), and who were then like angels, perfectly united, of whom the Psalmist sings, "bless ye the Lord, ye angels, mighty in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word" (Ps. CIII, 20). Thus Israel received a present "from the top of Senir and Hermon": i.e. from Mount Sinai, at the nether part of which they stood. Also "from the lions' dens": namely, the children of Seir, who refused the Law when offered to them. "From the mountains of the leopards": namely, the children of Ishmael, who likewise refused, as it is written, "The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from Mount Paran, and he came from the ten thousands of holy ones" (Deut. XXX, 2). And what is the meaning of "He came from the ten thousands of holy ones"? An ancient tradition explains it thus: when the Holy One was about to give the Law to Israel, hosts of angels protested with one voice, saying: "O Lord, our lord, how excellent is thy Name in all the earth! Give thy Glory (the Torah) to the heavens!" (Ps. VIII, 1-2). In truth, they desired the Torah for themselves. Said the Holy One to them: "Has death any sway over you? Behold, in My Law death is the punishment for certain sins! Is robbery or theft known to you? In My Law it is written, 'Thou shalt not steal'! Is there sexual desire among you? I have said, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery'! Is it possible for you to lie? I have said, 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour'! Can covetousness lodge with you? I have said, 'Thou shalt not covet'! Of what service, then, will the Law be to you?" Straightway they sang in unison: "O Lord, our lord, how excellent is thy Name in all the earth" (Ibid. 10). No more did they say, "give Thy glory to the heavens"!'

R. Jose interpreted the above verse in the Song of Songs in connection with the descent of the Shekinah to the Egyptian captivity. R. Simeon, however, found in it an allusion to the mystic union between Voice and Utterance. These should form one unity, without any separation whatever. They depend upon one another: no Voice without Utterance, and no Utterance without Voice. Essentially they both come from "Lebanon" (= lebanah, moon, symbolizing Wisdom). "Amana" represents the throat, out of which comes the breath to complete the hidden indication first given from "Lebanon". "From the top of Senir and Hermon" refers to the tongue; "from the lions' dens" suggests the teeth; "from the mountains of the leopards" is symbolic of the lips, by which the Utterance is made complete.

R. Hiya applied to the Israelites who went down to Egypt the verse: "Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainties" (Prov. XXIII, 6). 'Indeed,' he said, 'the bread or any other boon offered by an evil-eyed man is not worthwhile partaking of or enjoying. Had the children of Israel, in going down into Egypt, not tasted the bread of the Egyptians they would not have remained there in exile, nor would the Egyptians have oppressed them.' Said R. Isaac: 'Was not that exile the fulfilment of a divine decree?' R. Hiya said in reply: 'That makes no difference, inasmuch as the decree did not mention Egypt in particular, only saying: "Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs" (Gen. XVI, 13) -- not necessarily Egypt.' R. Isaac said: 'Though a man should have a vigorous appetite and be a hearty eater, yet if he encounters such an evil-eyed man, it were better for him to take his own life than partake of his bread.'

There are three types of men who drive away the Shekinah from the world, making it impossible for the Holy One, blessed be He, to fix His abode in the universe, and causing prayer to be unanswered. [3b] One is he who cohabits with a woman in the days of her separation. There is no impurity comparable with this. He defiles himself and all connected with him. The child born of such a union is shapen in impurity, imbibes the spirit of impurity, and its whole life is founded on impurity. Next is he who lies with a heathen woman, for he profanes herewith the sacred sign of the covenant which constitutes the support of the sacred Name and the essence of faith. As soon as "the people committed whoredom" with the daughters of Moab, the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel (Num. XXV, 1-3). The leaders of the people, who did not endeavour to prevent them, were the first to be punished (Ibid. 4), and in every generation it is the leaders who are made responsible for all the members of the community in regard to the profanation of the sign of the covenant, which is "sun and shield" (Ps. LXXXIV, 12): as the sun gives light to the world, so does the holy sign give light to the body, and as the shield protects, so does the holy sign protect. He who keeps it in purity is guarded from evil. But he who transfers this sign of holiness into a strange domain, breaks the commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods but Me"; for to deny the king's seal is equivalent to denying the king himself. Next is he who purposely prevents the seed from coming to fruition, for he destroys the King's workmanship and so causes the Holy One to depart from the world. This sin is the cause of war, famine, and pestilence, and it prevents the Shekinah from finding any resting place in the world. For these abominations the spirit of holiness weeps. Woe to him who causes this: it were better that he had never been born. It was counted to the Israelites for righteousness that, although in exile in Egypt, they kept themselves free from these sins, and, moreover, fearlessly fulfilled the command to increase and multiply. This made them worthy to be liberated. R. Hiya found an indication of the purity of the Israelitish women in Egypt in the text: [4a] "And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it brass, of the looking-glasses of the women assembling at the door of the tent" (Ex. XXXVIII, 8). What was the merit of the women to have made them worthy of such honour that their looking-glasses should be used for the laver of the Tabernacle? Their ritual ablutions on the one hand, and their eagerness to attract their husbands on the other.

R. Eleazar and R. Jose were once walking together. Said R. Eleazar to R. Jose: 'Open thy mouth, and let thy words flow forth!' R. Jose replied: 'Will it please the master if I ask him to solve a certain difficulty for me? I have heard from the mouth of the "holy lamp" (R. Simeon b. Yohai) this interpretation of the words: "and these are the names of the children of Israel" -- that they refer to the "Ancient Israel" (God) and to all the heavenly hosts and chariots who went into captivity with Jacob. I am, however, puzzled how to fit the words "a man and his household" in this verse into this interpretation.' R. Eleazar replied: 'What R. Simeon said is certainly correct. We have an esoteric doctrine that the receiver is, as it were, a "house" to the giver. This may be illustrated from the following verse: "And it came to pass when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the Lord and the king's house" (I K. IX, 1). "The house of the Lord" is, of course, the Temple, which includes the outer courts, the porch, the antechambers, and the Temple itself: but the "king's house" is not, as you might think, the palace of Solomon, but the Holy of Holies, the innermost sanctum, the word "King" being here used in its absolute sense. For this King, although supreme, is, in relation to the Highest Point, the most hidden One, feminine, or receptive; but at the same time He is masculine, or active, in relation to the lower King; and this double relationship, to that which is above and that which is below, appertains to the whole supramundane world. It is in this symbolic sense that the angels are here called "his house".'


AND THESE ARE THE NAMES. R. Jose connected these words with the words from the Song of Songs (IV, 12): "A closed garden is my sister bride, a closed spring, a sealed fountain."' "A closed garden" refers to the Community of Israel, for,' said R. Eleazar, 'as the garden has to be tended, ploughed, watered, and trimmed, so has the Community of Israel to be tended, nurtured, and trimmed. She is called "garden" and she is called "vineyard": "for the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is Israel ... and he fenced it and gathered out the stones thereof" (Isa. v, 1-7).'

Said R. Simeon: [4]

We open our eyes
And straightway behold
The holy chariot's
Swift-rolling wheels.
Voices of song
Making lovely the air,
A joy to the heart,
A grace to the ear.
Thousand on thousand
To trembling now fall
As they sing and rejoice
From below to above
In tune with the song:
Standing who stand
Joined who are joined
In multitudes thronging,
Four hundred and fifty
Thousands of beings --
Gifted with sight are they
Yet see and see not.
Two hosts them encompass
As great as the first.

On the left hand is sorrow,
Is crying and moaning --
The Lords of Weeping
Their dwelling here set;
Their being is judgement,
And chastisement their end.
The Judge is there ready
And the books are open.

At this hour and moment
The Lord of judgement
Ascends to His Throne.
The singing ceases
And silence falls.
Judgement begins.

The Lords of the right hand
Who see and perceive
And eighteen thousand [4b]
Angelic companions
Fearlessly sing
And trumpets ring forth
And a trembling begins.
Once again do thy sound
And the voices are silent.
Then rises the Lord
From the Judgement throne;
On the throne of reconcilement
The Merciful now sits,
And utters the Name --
The holy, the blessed,
Source of mercy for men
And life-giving to all.
"Yod He Vau He" He cries;
Then murmurs anew
The song of the myriads,
Of holy turning wheels.
In ecstasy they chant
"Blessed be the Lord's glory
From the place of His Shekinah".

The secret Garden
In worlds of light hidden
-- Two hundred and fifty
Encompassing worlds --
Where Shekinah's splendour
From splendour proceeding

Its splendour sends forth
To the ends of creation,
In the fulness of glory
Is revealed in its beauty
To the eyes made seeing --
The garden of Eden.

The Ancient, the Father,
The Holy One speaks
His Name again pronouncing,
"Yod He Vau He" again
Gloriously crying.
Then speak the lightful Hosts
Making brave music:
His thirteen paths of mercy
They gladly proclaim.

Who sees those mighty ones
High in the Heavens
Mighty in beauty?
Who sees the Chariots
Holy and glorious?
Who sees the Hosts in
The bright courts of glory
Exalting and praising
In awe and in fear
In joy and in wonder
The Holy One's Name?

Blessed are the souls of the righteous who perceive it! "There is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great and thy Name is great. Who would not be in awe of thee, thou king of the nations?" (Jer. X, 6-7).

Said R. Simeon: 'When the Shekinah went down to Egypt, a celestial "living being" (Hayah, cf. Ezek. I, 5), called "Israel", in form like the patriarch Jacob, went down with Her, accompanied by forty-two heavenly attendants, each of whom bore a letter belonging to the Holy Name. They all descended with Jacob to Egypt, and hence it says "and these are the names of the children of Israel which came into Egypt ... with Jacob".'

R. Judah asked R. Eleazar, the son of R. Simeon: 'As thou hast heard from thy father the mystical interpretation of this section of the Book of Exodus, tell me the significance of the words "a man and his household came with Jacob",' He replied: 'My father said that it refers to the various grades of angels, all of them celestial, but of whom the higher are called "men", and the lower "household" or "female", in the sense that the former are active while the latter are passive and receptive.'

When R. Isaac was once studying with R. Eleazar, the son of R. Simeon, he asked him: 'Did the Shekinah go down to Egypt with Jacob?' Said R. Eleazar: 'Surely! Did not God say to Jacob, "I will go down with thee into Egypt" (Gen. XLVI, 4)?' Said R. Isaac: 'See now, the Shekinah went down with Jacob into Egypt, but She also had with Her six hundred thousand holy Chariots (angelic beings), for it is written, "and the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about (lit. like) six hundred thousand on foot" (Ex. XII, 37). Now it does not say "six hundred", but "like" six hundred, etc., which suggests that there was an equal number of celestial beings who went out with them. The deeper meaning of the passage is as follows. When these holy Chariots and holy Hosts were about to leave Egypt, the children of Israel at once realized that it was for their sake that the celestial beings were detained, and therefore they hastened to get ready and leave as quickly as possible. Hence it says "they could not tarry" (Ex. XII, 39), not "they did not want to tarry". From this we learn that the expression "children of Israel" in all these passages refers to the celestial hosts. Moreover, it stands to reason that, as the Holy One promised Jacob that He would go down with him into Egypt, He would take His ministering angels with Him, for where the Master is there must His servants also be, and especially when we consider that even when Jacob was saved from Laban, "the angels of God met him" (Gen. XXXII, 2).' [5a] R. Abba cited here the verse: "Come, behold the works of the Lord who hath made desolations in the earth" (Ps. XLVI, 8). 'The term shammoth (desolations)', he said, 'can also be read shemoth (names). This corroborates what R. Hiya said, namely, that whatever is in heaven, the Holy One, blessed be He, has made a counterpart thereof on earth. Thus, as there are hallowed names in heaven, so there are hallowed names on earth.' Said R. Jose: 'When Jacob went down to Egypt, sixty myriads of celestial angels accompanied him.' R. Judah illustrated from the verse: "Behold, it is the couch of Solomon, threescore mighty men are about it, of the mighty men of Israel" (S.S. III, 7), which he expounded thus: 'Six luminosities form a circle surrounding a seventh luminosity in the centre. The six on the circumference sustain the sixty valiant angels surrounding the "couch of Solomon". The "couch" is an allusion to the Shekinah, and "Solomon" refers to the "King to whom peace (shalom) belongs": "threescore mighty men are about it" -- these are the sixty myriads of exalted angels, part of the army of the Shekinah which accompanied Jacob into Egypt.'

R. Hiya was once travelling from Usha to Lud, mounted on an ass, and R. Jose accompanied him on foot. R. Hiya dismounted, took R. Jose by the hand, and said: 'If men only knew what great honour was shown to Jacob when the Holy One said to him, "I will go down with thee to Egypt", they would lick the dust for three parasangs distance from his grave! For it has been said by the great Rabbis of old in connection with the verse, "And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeisance" (Ex. XVIII, 7), that when Aaron saw Moses go, he also went, and so did Eleazar, and the princes, and the elders, and, in fact, all Israel went out to meet Jethro. For who could see Moses or the great ones go and not go himself? Thus because Moses went, all went. Now if Moses produced such an effect, how much more must God have done so when He said to Jacob "I will go down with thee to Egypt"?' As they were going along, R. Abba met them. Said R. Jose: 'Behold, the Shekinah is in our midst, as we have a great master of doctrine with us.' Said R. Abba: 'What were you discussing?' R. Jose replied: 'We were deducing that the angels went down with Israel to Egypt from the two verses "I will come down with thee into Egypt" and "These are the names, etc.".' Said R. Abba: 'I will give you a third. It says, "The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel ... in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar" (Ezek. I, 3). Ezekiel, it is said, could not have been as faithful as Moses, of whom it is written, "He is faithful in all my house", for he revealed all the treasures of the King. But we have been instructed to beware of such thoughts about this prophet; on the contrary, he was a worthy prophet, and what he revealed he revealed with the permission of the Holy One, and he might have disclosed twice as much, because of the sad condition in which Israel found herself in Babylon, as has been explained already, and he had to prove to them that the Holy One would never leave His people in captivity without His Presence. Thus it goes without saying that when Jacob went down to Egypt, the Holy One, and His Shekinah, and all the holy heavenly beings, and all the Chariots, went down with him.' [5b]

R. Judah said: 'If men only knew the love which God bears for Israel, they would roar like a lion till they could follow her! For when Jacob went down to Egypt, the Holy One called together all His celestial Family and said: "All of you must go down to Egypt, and I shall come with you!" Said the Shekinah: "Can hosts remain without a king?" Said He to Her: "Come with me from Lebanon, bride! With me from Lebanon! Look from the top of Amana, from the top of Senir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards" (S.S. IV, 8), i.e. "Come with Me from the Sanctuary above! Look from the tops of those who are the heads of the "Sons of Faith" (amanah = emunah)! Behold, they are about to receive from the mountain Hermon My Torah, which will be their shield in exile! Come from the lions' dens, the mountains of the leopards -- the heathen nations who torment them with all manner of oppression".' R. Isaac applied the words, "Look from the top of Amana" to the Sanctuary above and to the Sanctuary below, according to the dictum of R. Judah, that the Shekinah never departed from the Western wall of the Temple. R. Judah applied the words, "From the lions' dens, etc.", to students of the Torah in the dens, i.e. in the synagogues and houses of study.

R. Hiya, as he was once studying with R. Simeon, asked him: 'Why does the Torah, in this passage (Ex. I, 1-5), besides giving the total number of seventy souls, enumerate the twelve tribes by name? And further, why seventy?' R. Simeon replied: 'In order to bring out the contrast between the one nation and the seventy nations of the Gentiles in the world. What is more,' he went on, 'the principalities that preside over the seventy nations issue from twelve axes that stretch out to all points of the compass. This is the significance of the words, "He set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel" (Deut. XXXII, 8), and "For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of heaven" (Zech. II, 6): as the world cannot be without the four cardinal points, so cannot the nations be without Israel.'

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:17 am

Part 2 of 4

NOW THERE AROSE UP A NEW KING OVER EGYPT. R. Abba cited here the verse: Blessed are ye who sow above all waters, that send forth the feet of the ox and the ass (Isa. XXXII, 20). He said: 'Blessed are the children of Israel whom God hath chosen above all nations and brought near to Himself, as it is written, "The Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself" (Deut. XIV, 2), and again, "For the Lord's portion is his people: Jacob is the lot of his inheritance" (Ibid. XXXII, 9). Israel cleaves to the Holy One, blessed be He, as it says "And ye who cleave to the Lord your God, ye are all alive [6a] to-day" (Ibid. IV, 4). They are worthy, in His sight, because they "sow above ('al) all waters", that is to say, they sow "according to righteousness" (Hos. X, 12), for of him who sows according to righteousness it is said: "For thy mercy is great above ('al) the heavens" (Ps. CVIII, 5). "Above the heavens" is identical with "above all waters", and refers to the world to come, and Israel sow a seed which is above all waters. The Book of R. Yeba the Elder remarks as follows: It is written "The matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones" (Dan. IV, 14). All the judgements passed upon the world, and all decrees and decisions are stored in a certain palace, where seventy-two members of Sanhedrin deliberate upon them. The palace is called "the Palace of Acquittal", because the judges there lay stress on whatever can be pleaded in favour of the accused. Not so the "other side", where there is a place called "Accusation", because in that abode of the Serpent, the "Wife of whoredom", every effort is made to procure the condemnation of humanity, and to prejudice the servant in the eyes of the Master. Symbolically, the former is represented by "sweet, clear water"; the latter by "bitter water that causes the curse" (Num. V, 18). The decision concerning children, life, and livelihood, however, is not entrusted either to the "Temple of Acquittal" or to that of "Accusation " (being dependent on mazzal). Israel therefore, "sow above all waters", since their seed is established above. Further, they send away "the feet of the ox and the ass", i.e. the evil haps which are symbolized by the union of the ox and the ass (v. Zohar, Gen., 162b), and cleave to the "good side" of the supernal holy beings.

'It says in the Book of R. Hamnuna the Elder, in connection with the words, "Now there arose a new king over Egypt", that all the nations of the world and all their kings become powerful only on account of Israel. Egypt, for instance, did not rule over the whole world before Israel settled there. The same is true of Babylon, as well as of Edom (Rome). Before that all these nations were utterly insignificant and contemptible: Egypt is described as a "house of slaves" (Ex. XX, 2), Babylon as "a people who was not" (Isa. xx, 11-13), and of Edom it says, "Behold, I have made thee small among the nations, thou art greatly despised" (Obad. I, 2). It was entirely due to Israel that they became great. As soon as Israel was subjected to any of these nations, it immediately became all-powerful, since Israel singly are on a par with all the rest of the world. So when Israel went down to Egypt, straightway that country rose to supreme power. And this is the meaning of "Now there arose a new king", i.e. the supernal chieftain of Egypt rose up in strength and gained predominance over the chieftains of the other nations. [6b] Then the words were fulfilled: "For three things the earth is disquieted ... for a servant when he reigneth .... " (Prox. XXX, 21).'

R. Hiya said: 'Thirty days before a nation rises to power or before its downfall in this world, the event is proclaimed in the other world. Sometimes it is revealed through the mouths of little children, sometimes through simple folk, and sometimes through a bird. These proclaim it in the world, and yet no one notices them. If, however, a nation is deserving, the impending calamity is revealed to the righteous leaders of the people, in order that they may call the people to repent and return to the Lord while there is yet time.'

As R. Eleazar was sitting one day at the gate of Lydda along with R. Abba, R. Judah, and R. Jose, R. Jose said: 'Listen, and I will tell you the sights which I have seen this morning. I rose early and beheld a bird which flew up three times and down once, exclaiming: "Ye celestials, ye angels of the higher sphere! In these days three heavenly Chieftains are raising up rulers on the earth. One is dislodged from his throne and made to pass through the Fiery Stream. He and his power are annihilated. But three mighty pillars of great height still stand upon the world." I threw a stone at the bird and cried: "Bird, bird! Tell me, who are the three who remain upright and the one whose power is taken from him?" He threw down to me three feathers from his right wing and one from his left wing. I know not what it all portends.' R. Eleazar took from R. Jose the feathers, smelt them, and lo, blood issued from his nostrils. Said he: 'Verily, three great rulers are now at Rome, and are about to bring evil upon Israel through the Romans.' Then he took the feather of the left wing, smelt it, and behold, black fire burst from it. He said: 'The power of the Egyptians is coming to an end; a Roman king is about to pass through the whole land of Egypt, appoint governors over it, and destroy buildings and erect new ones.' Then he threw the feathers on to the ground, and the three which were from the right wing fell on that which was from the left wing. As they were thus sitting, a young child passed by and recited the verse: "A burden concerning Egypt! Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt" (Isa. XIX, 1). A second child passed by and declaimed: "And the land of Egypt shall be desolate" (Ezek. XXIX, 9). A third child passed by and recited: "Make thee instruments of captivity, O daughter of Egypt!" (Jer. XLVI, 19). Then they saw that the feather of the left wing was burning, but not the three feathers of the right wing. Said R. Eleazar: 'These two incidents, that of the bird and that of the children, are in truth but one -- and they convey a prophecy from above. The Holy One, blessed be He, desired to reveal to us His hidden plans, as it is written, "Behold, the Lord will do nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets" (Amos. III, 7). And the wise are greater than prophets, for on the prophets the holy spirit rests intermittently, but the wise He never leaves, as, although they know what is above and what is below, they keep it secret.' Said R. Jose: 'There are many wise, but the wisdom of R. Eleazar exceeds all.' Said R. Abba: 'If it were not for the sages the sons of men would comprehend neither God's Torah nor His commandments, and the spirit of man would not differ from the spirit of the beasts.' R. Isaac said: 'When the Holy One is about to chastise a nation He chastises first its celestial representative, as it is written, "The Lord shall punish the host of heaven in heaven and the kings of the earth upon the earth" (Isa. XXIV, 21). And what does the punishment consist in? He has to pass through the Fiery Stream, and then his power vanishes. Straightway it is proclaimed above, [7a] and the proclamation resounds in all the heavens and reaches the ears of those who have dominion over this world. From them it issues and traverses the world, until it reaches birds and little children and simple-minded folk.'


NOW THERE AROSE A NEW KING OVER EGYPT. According to R. Hiya he was really a new king, but according to R. Jose it was the same Pharaoh, only he made "new" decrees against Israel, forgetting all the benefits bestowed upon him by Joseph, as if "he did not know him".

R. Jose and R. Judah were once studying with R. Simeon. Said R. Judah: 'We have been taught that the expression "arose" suggests that Pharaoh "rose" on his own accord, viz. that he was not in the line of Egyptian kings, and was, in fact, not worthy to be king; he "rose" only because he was rich.' Said R. Simeon: 'Exactly as was the case with Ahasuerus, who also was not fitted for the kingship, but obtained it through his wealth.'

R. Eleazar, R. Abba, and R. Jose were once walking from Tiberias to Sepphoris. On the way they met a Jew who started a conversation by quoting: "A burden upon Egypt. Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud and cometh into Egypt, and the godlings of Egypt shall flee from his presence" (Isa. XIX, 1). 'Mark this,' he said. 'All the kings and all the nations of the world are as nothing before the Holy One, blessed be He (Dan. IV, 32). He only has to decide a thing and it is done. What, then, is the significance of the expression "cometh into Egypt"? Did He have to "come"? Yea, verily, He "came" for the sake of the Matrona (Shekinah), to take Her, as it were, by the hand and raise Her in glory, as He will also do when Israel's captivity in Edom (Rome) will come to an end.' R. Jose remarked: 'If it was for the sake of the Matrona, why did He not "come" to Babylon, where the Shekinah was also in exile with Israel?' To this the Jew replied that according to tradition the reason why the Holy One did not reveal Himself fully by signs and wonders in Babylon was because the Israelites took to themselves foreign wives and profaned the sign of the holy Covenant. In Egypt, however, it was different: they entered it as pure sons of Israel, and left it as such. When the Edomitic exile comes to an end He shall manifest His glory in fulness and raise up His Spouse from the dust, saying to her: "Shake thyself from the dust; arise, sit down, O Jerusalem, loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion" (Isa. LII, 2). Who shall then stand against Him? It is written "And the godlings of Egypt shall flee from His presence." The "godlings" are not merely idols made of stone and wood, but celestial principalities and terrestrial divinities. Indeed, wherever Israel is in exile the Holy One watches them and demands an account from those peoples and their supernal representatives. Mark what is written! "Thus says the Lord, my people went down at the first to Egypt to sojourn there, and Assyria oppressed them for nothing" (Ibid. v. 4.). The Holy One had a grave complaint against Assyria. "Behold what Assyria has done to me! Egypt I punished severely, although she treated my people with hospitality when they came to sojourn there, assigning to them the fat of the land, the land of Goshen; and even later, though they oppressed them, they did not take away the land from them nor anything belonging to them" (cf. Ex. IX, 6). But Assyria "oppressed them for nothing": they dragged [7b] them to the other end of the earth and took their country away from them." Now if Egypt was punished, notwithstanding the kindness with which she treated Israel, especially at first, it can certainly be expected that Assyria and Edom, and, in fact, all the nations who have maltreated Israel, will receive their punishment from the Holy One, when He will manifest the glory of His Name to them, as it is written, "Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself, and I will be known among many nations" (Ezek. XXXVIII, 23).

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

R. Simeon then discoursed on the verse: [8a] "If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, young ones or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young ... thou shalt in no wise let the dam go" (Deut. XXII, 6-7). 'This passage', he said, 'we interpret as an esoteric commandment in the Law, containing mysteries of doctrine, paths and ways known to the Fellowship and belonging to the thirty-two paths of the Torah.' Then, turning to R. Eleazar, his son, he said: 'At the time when the Messiah shall arise, there will be great wonders in the world. See now, in the lower Paradise there is a secret and unknown spot, broidered with many colours, in which a thousand palaces of longing are concealed. No one may enter it, except the Messiah, whose abode is in Paradise. The Garden is encompassed with multitudes of saints who look to the Messiah as their leader, along with many hosts and bands of the souls of the righteous there. On New Moons, festivals, and Sabbaths, he enters that place, in order to find joyous delight in those secret palaces. Behind those palaces there is another place, entirely hidden and undiscoverable. It is called "Eden", and no one may enter to behold it. Now the Messiah is hidden in its outskirts until a place is revealed to him which is called "the Bird's Nest". This is the place proclaimed by that Bird (the Shekinah) which flies about the Garden of Eden every day. In that place the effigies are woven of all the nations who band together against Israel. The Messiah enters that abode, lifts up his eyes and beholds the Fathers (Patriarchs) visiting the ruins of God's Sanctuary. He perceives mother Rachel, with tears upon her face; the Holy One, blessed be He, tries to comfort her, but she refuses to be comforted (Jer. XXXI, 14). Then the Messiah lifts up his voice and weeps, and the whole Garden of Eden quakes, and all the righteous and saints who are there break out in crying and lamentation with him. When the crying and weeping resound for the second time, the whole firmament above the Garden begins to shake, and the cry echoes from five hundred myriads of supernal hosts, until it reaches the highest Throne. Then the Holy One, blessed be He, beckons to that "Bird", which then enters its nest and comes to the Messiah, and flits about, uttering strange cries. Then from the holy Throne the Bird's Nest and the Messiah are summoned three times, and they both ascend into the heavenly places, and the Holy One swears to them to destroy the wicked kingdom (Rome) by the hand of the Messiah, to avenge Israel, and to give her all the good things which he has promised her. Then the Bird returns to her place. The Messiah, however, is hidden again in the same place as before.

'At the time when the Holy One shall arise to renew all worlds, and the letters of his Name shall shine in perfect union, the Yod with the He, and the He with the Vau, a mighty star will appear in the heavens of purple hue, which by day shall flame before the eyes of the whole world, filling the firmament with its light. And at that time shall a flame issue in the heavens from the north; and flame and star shall so face each other for forty days, and all men will marvel and be afraid. And when forty days shall have passed, the star and the flame shall war together in the sight of all, and the flame shall spread across the skies from the north, striving to overcome the star, and the rulers and peoples of the earth shall behold it with terror, and there will be confusion among them. But the star will remove to the south and vanquish the flame, and the flame shall daily be diminished until it be no more seen. Then shall the star cleave for itself bright paths in twelve directions which shall remain luminous in the skies for the term of twelve days. After a further twelve days trembling will seize the world, and at midday the sun will be darkened as it was darkened on the day when the holy Temple was destroyed, so that heaven and earth shall not be seen. Then out of the midst of thunder and lightning shall a voice be heard, causing the earth to quake and many hosts and principalities to perish. On the same day when that voice is heard throughout the world, a flame of fire shall appear burning in Great Rome (Constantinople); [8b] it will consume many turrets and towers, and many are the great and mighty who shall perish then. All shall gather against her to destroy her, and no one will have hope to escape. From that day on, for twelve months, all the kings (of the world) will take counsel together and make many decrees to destroy Israel; and they shall prosper against him, as has been said. Blessed is he who shall live in that time, and blessed is he who shall not live in that time! And the whole world then will be in confusion. At the end of the twelve months the "sceptre of Judah", namely the Messiah, will arise, appearing from Paradise, and all the righteous will surround him and gird him with weapons of war on which are inscribed the letters of the Holy Name (Tetragrammaton). Then a voice will burst forth from the branches of the trees of Paradise: "Arise, O ye saints from above, and stand ye before the Messiah! For the time has come for the Hind to be united with her Spouse, and he must avenge her on the world and raise her from the dust". And all the saints from above will arise and gird the Messiah with weapons of war, Abraham at his right, Isaac at his left, Jacob in front of him, while Moses, the "faithful shepherd" of all these saints, shall dance at the head of them in Paradise. As soon as the Messiah has been installed by the saints in Paradise, he will enter again the place which is called "the Bird's Nest", there to behold the picture of the destruction of the Temple, and of all the saints who were done to death there. Then will he take from that place ten garments, the garments of holy zeal, and hide himself there for forty days, and no one shall be able to see him. At the end of those forty days a voice shall be heard from the highest throne calling the Bird's Nest and the Messiah who shall be hidden there. Thereupon he shall be carried aloft, and when the Holy One, blessed be He, shall behold the Messiah adorned with the garments of holy zeal and girded with weapons of war, he will take him and kiss him upon his brow. At that moment three hundred and ninety firmaments shall begin to shake. The Holy One shall command one of these firmaments, which has been kept in waiting since the six days of creation, to approach, and He shall take out from a certain temple in it a crown inscribed with holy names. It was with this crown that the Holy One adorned Himself when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and He avenged Himself on all the chariots of Pharaoh and his horsemen. With this same crown will He crown King Messiah. As soon as he is crowned, the Holy One will take him and kiss him as before. All the holy multitude and the whole holy army will surround him and will bestow upon him many wonderful gifts, and he will be adorned by them all. Then will he enter into one of the temples and behold there all the upper angels, who are called "the mourners of Zion" because they continually weep over the destruction of the Holy Temple. These angels shall give him a robe of deep red in order that he may commence his work of revenge. The Holy One will again hide him in the "Bird's Nest" and he will remain there for thirty days. After the thirty days he will again be decked with those adornments from above and from below, and many holy beings will surround him. The whole world then shall see a light extending from the firmament to the earth, and continuing for seven days, and they will be amazed and not comprehend: only the wise will understand, they who are adepts in the mystic lore, blessed is their portion. All through the seven days the Messiah shall be crowned on earth. Where shall this be? "By the way", to wit, Rachel's grave, which is on the cross-road. To mother Rachel he will give glad tidings and comfort her, and now she will let herself be comforted, and will rise and kiss him. The light will then move from that place and shall stand over Jericho, the city of trees, and the Messiah will be hidden in the light of the "Bird's Nest" for twelve months. After the twelve months that light will stand between heaven and earth in the land of Galilee, where Israel's captivity began, and there will he reveal himself from the light of the "Bird's Nest", and return to his place. On that day the whole earth will be shaken from one end [9a] to the other, and thus the whole world will know that the Messiah has revealed himself in the land of Galilee. And all who are diligent in the study of the Torah -- and there shall be few such in the world -- will gather round him. His army will gain in strength through the merit of little infants at school, symbolized by the word ephroah -- "young bird" (cf. Deut. XXII, 6). And if such will not be found at that time it will be through the merit of the sucklings, "the eggs" (Ibid.), "those that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts" (Isa. XXII, 9), for whose sake the Shekinah dwells in the midst of Israel in exile, as indeed there will be few sages at that time. This is the implication of the words "And the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs", which, allegorically interpreted, means that it does not depend upon the Mother to free them from exile, but upon the Supreme King; for it is the young ones and the sucklings that will give strength to the Messiah, and then the Supernal Mother, which "sits upon them", will be stirred up towards Her Spouse. He will tarry for twelve months longer, and then he will appear and raise her from the dust: "I will raise up on that day the tabernacle of David that is fallen" (Amos IX, 11). On that day the Messiah will begin to gather the captives from one end of the world to the other: "If any of thine be driven out unto the utmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee" (Deut. XXX, 4). From that day on the Holy One will perform for Israel all the signs and wonders which He performed for them in Egypt: "As in the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt, will I show unto him wonders" (Micah VII, 15).'

Then said R. Simeon: 'Eleazar, my son! Thou canst find all this in the mystery of the thirty-two paths of the Holy Name. Before these wonders have taken place in the world, the mystery of the Holy Name will not be manifested in perfection and love will not be awakened: "Ye daughters of Jerusalem, I adjure you by the gazelles and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake the love until she pleases" (Cant 11, 7). The "gazelles" (zebaoth) symbolize the king, who is called Zebaoth; the "hinds" represent those other principalities and powers from below; "that ye stir not up, etc." refers to the "Right Hand" of the Holy One, called "Love"; "until she pleases", namely She (the Shekinah) who lies at present in the dust and in whom the King is well pleased. Blessed be he who will be found worthy to live at that time! Blessed will he be both in this world and in the world to come.'

R. Simeon then lifted up his hands in prayer to the Holy One, blessed be He. When he had finished his prayer, R. Eleazar his son and R. Abba seated themselves before him. As they were thus sitting they beheld the light of the day grow dim and a fiery flame sink in the Sea of Tiberias, and the whole place began mightily to tremble. Said R. Simeon: 'Verily, this is the time when the Holy One remembers His children and lets two drops fall into the great Sea. As they fall they meet the fiery ray and sink with it in the sea.' Then R. Simeon wept, and the disciples also. Said R. Simeon: 'Behold, I was moved a while ago to meditate on the mystery of the letters of the Holy Name, the mystery of His compassion over His children; but now it is fitting that I should reveal unto this generation something that no other man has been permitted to reveal. For the merit of this generation sustains the world until the Messiah shall appear.' He then bade R. Eleazar his son and R. Abba to stand up, and they did so. R. Simeon then wept a second time, and said: 'Alas! Who can endure to hear what I foresee! The exile will drag on; who shall be able to bear it?'

Then he also rose and spake thus: 'It is written, "O Lord our God, other lords beside thee dominated us, apart from thee do we make mention of thy Name" (Isa. XXVI, 13). This verse, apart from other interpretations, contains a profound doctrine of faith. Yhvh Elohenu (Lord our God) is the source and beginning of supreme mysteries indeed; it is the sphere whence emanate all the burning lights, and where the whole mystery of Faith is centred: this Name dominates all. However, "other lords beside thee dominated us"; the people of Israel, who is destined to be ruled only by this supreme Name, is ruled in exile by the "other side". Yea, "apart from thee (beka) do we make mention of thy name". The name "by thee" BeKa (=22) symbolizes the Holy Name comprising twenty-two letters, and this is the name by which the Community of Israel is always blessed, as, for instance, "to whom thou swarest by thine own self" (beka, Ex. XXII, 13); "in thee (beka) shall Israel be blessed" (Gen. XLVIII, 20); "for in thee (beka) I can run through the troops" (Ps. XVIII, 19). At the period when there is perfection, peace, and harmony, the two names are not separated one from another, and it is forbidden [9b] to separate them even in thought and imagination; but now in exile we do separate them, the Matrona from Her Spouse, as She (Shekinah) lies in dust (in exile with Israel). "Apart from thee" being far away from Thee, and being ruled by other powers, "we make mention of thy name" in separation, thy Name being separated from the Name expressed by Beka. All this in the days of exile; for the first exile began during the first Temple, and lasted seventy years, during which time the Mother (the Shekinah) did not brood over Israel, and there was a separation between the Yod and the He, the Yod ascending higher and higher to infinity (En Sof), and the holy Temple above -- corresponding to the Temple below -- did not send forth living waters, its source being cut off. The seventy years of the first exile corresponded to the seven years which it took to build the first Temple (I K. VI, 38). However, far be it from us to think that during that time the kingdom of Babylon had power in the heavens over Israel. The fact is that as long as the Temple stood there was a bright light descending from the Supernal Mother, but as soon as it was destroyed, through Israel's sin, and the kingdom of Babylon got the upper hand, that light was covered up and darkness prevailed here below and the angels below ceased from giving out light, and then the power symbolized by the letter Yod of the Holy Name ascended into the upper regions, into the Infinite, and thus during the whole seventy years of exile Israel had no divine light to guide her, and, truly, that was the essence of the exile. When, however, Babylon's power was taken away from her and Israel returned to the Holy Land, a light did shine for her, but it was not as bright as before, being only the emanation of the lower He, since the whole of Israel did not return to purity to be a "peculiar people" as before. Therefore, the emanation of the supernal Yod did not descend to illumine in the same measure as before, but only a little. Hence Israel were involved in many wars until "the darkness covered the earth" and the lower He was darkened and fell to the ground, and the upper source was removed as before, and the second Temple was destroyed and all its twelve tribes went into exile in the kingdom of Edom. The He also went into exile there, and therefore the exile was prolonged.

'A mystery of mysteries has been revealed to them that are wise of heart. The He of the second Temple is in exile with her twelve tribes and their hosts. Twelve tribes form a great number, and because the mystery of the He is in them, the exile lasts during this whole number. Ten tribes are a thousand years, two tribes are two hundred years. At the conclusion of the twelve tribes (twelve hundred years) there will be darkness over Israel, until the Vau shall arise at the time of sixty-six years after the "twelve tribes", that is, after twelve hundred years of exile. And after the conclusion of the sixty-six years of the night-darkness, the words "And I shall remember my covenant with Jacob" (Lev. XXVI, 42) will begin to come to pass. From then the Holy One, blessed be He, shall begin to do signs and wonders, [10a] as we have described. But over Israel those tribulations will come. After that King Messiah shall fight against the whole world, aided by the Right Hand of the Holy One. At the end of another sixty-six years the letters in the Holy Name shall be seen perfectly engraved above and below in manner due. After a further one hundred and thirty-two years He will begin "to take hold of the ends of the earth and shake off the wicked". The Holy Land will be purified, and the Holy One will raise the dead there and they shall rise in their hosts in the land of Galilee. At the end of a further hundred and forty-four years the remaining dead of Israel in other lands shall be raised, so that after altogether four hundred and eight years the world shall be re-inhabited and the evil principle (the "other side") driven out of it. Then the lower He (Shekinah) shall be filled from the upper spring (the highest Sephiroth), and be crowned and radiate in perfection until the Sabbath of the Lord arrives to gather souls in the joy of holiness throughout this whole seventh millennium. Then the holy spirits of the people of Israel at the fulness of time will be invested with new, holy bodies, and be called "Saints": "And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion and that remaineth in Jerusalem shall be called holy" (Isa. III, 4). These are the veiled mysteries.' [5]


THERE AROSE UP A NEW KING. Said R. Jose: 'The Holy One creates each day new angels to be His emissaries to the world, as it is written, "He maketh his angels winds" (spirits) (Ps. CIV. 4). It does not say "He made", but "He maketh", because He makes them daily. At that time He appointed one to represent Egypt: "a new king", i.e. a new supernal representative; "who knew not Joseph", because Egypt's angel emanated from the sphere of Separation: since of the four "heads" into which the river that went out of Eden parted (Gen. II, 10), the first was the stream of Egypt (the Nile above, corresponding to the Nile below); and therefore "he knew not Joseph", who represents the sphere where is the abode of Unity, and which is called "Righteous".'

R. Eleazar and R. Jose once set forth upon a journey at dawn. Suddenly they beheld two stars which shot across the sky from either side. Said R. Eleazar: 'The time is now come when the morning stars do praise their Master: shooting forth in awe across the heavens, they prepare to glorify His Name in song, as it is written: "When the morning stars sing together" (Job XXXVIII, 7). Verily they sing in perfect unison, and in harmony do the sons of God shout for joy.' He then discoursed on the verse: To the musician. Upon the hind of the morning. A song of David (Ps. XXII, 1). 'When the face of the east lightens', he said, 'and the darkness of the night is dispersed, an angel appears in the east, and from the south he draws a thread of light, and then the sun comes forth and, throwing open the casements of the sky, illumines the world. Then the "hind of the morning" comes, a red light enters into the darkness and it becomes day. And the light of the day draws that "hind" into itself. Now it is concerning that "hind" when it separates itself from the day, after it had been with it, that David sang. And the following verse -- [10b] "My God (Eli), my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" -- suggests the cry over the "hind (ayala) of the morning", when she separates herself from the day.'

As they were thus walking, the day lightened and the time for prayer arrived. Said R. Eleazar: 'Let us pray, and then continue our journey.' They sat down and prayed, and then resumed their walk. On the way, R. Eleazar started to expound the following verse: There is a vanity (hebel, lit. breath) which is done upon the earth, that there be righteous men unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again there are wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity (Eccl. VIII, 14). 'This verse', he said, 'has been esoterically explained as follows. King Solomon, in this book, treated of seven "vanities" (habalim, lit. breaths) upon which the world stands, namely the seven pillars [6] which sustain the world in correspondence with the seven firmaments, which are called respectively Vilon, Rakia, Shehakim, Zebul, Ma'on, Machon, Araboth. It was concerning them that Solomon said: "Vanity of vanities, said Koheleth, all is vanity" (Ibid. I, 1). As there are seven firmaments, with others cleaving to them and issuing from them, so there are seven habalim and others emanating from these, and Solomon in his wisdom referred to them all to convey the following esoteric lesson. There is a certain "breath" [7] emanating from those supernal "breaths" upon which the world is sustained, closely connected with the earth and fed from it. It depends, in fact, on the souls of the righteous who have been gathered from the earth while still pure before they have committed any sin, and while their savour is still sweet: for instance, Enoch, of whom it is written, "And he was not, for God took him" (Gen. V, 24). God took him away before his time and had delight in him. And so it is with all the righteous, for we have been taught that the righteous are removed from this world before their time for one of two reasons: one for the sins of their generation, for when there is much sin in the world the righteous are penalized for its guilt; the second is that when the Holy One, blessed be He, is aware that they would commit a sin if they lived longer, He removes them before their time. And this is the meaning of the verse quoted above: "there are righteous to whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked", as was the case with R. Akiba and his colleagues; the judgement from above came upon them, as if they had committed the sins and actions of the wicked. On the other hand, "there are wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous": they live in peace and comfort in this world, and the judgement does not come upon them, as if they performed the deeds of the righteous. Why so? Because the Holy One foresees that either they are about to repent, or that they will bring forth virtuous offspring, as, for instance, Terah, who brought forth Abraham, and Ahaz, who brought forth Hezekiah. Thus, as we have said, there is a "breath" (hebel) on one side as well as on the other, a "breath is made upon the earth" in order that the world may be sustained.

'Another interpretation of the verse is as follows. "Vanity is done upon the earth", for instance, when a "work of the wicked", the temptation to commit some sin, approaches the righteous and they remain steadfast in the fear of their Lord and refuse to defile themselves, like so many of whom we know who did the will of their Master and sinned not. On the other hand, "it happeneth that wicked men do the works of the righteous" on certain occasions, as, for instance, the Jew who belonged to a gang of robbers on a mountain, and who, whenever he saw a fellow Jew pass, warned him of the danger, so that R. Akiba applied to him the words of the second half of this verse; or the man [11a] in the neighbourhood of R. Hiya who once seized a woman with the intention of violating her, but who, when she said to him "Honour thy Master and do not sin with me", mastered his passion and let her go. The Holy One has made both righteous and wicked, and, as He is glorified in this world by the works of the righteous, so is He glorified by the wicked when they happen to do a good deed: "He hath made everything beautiful in his time" (Eccl. III, 11). But woe to the sinner who makes himself wicked and cleaves obstinately to his sin!'

R. Eleazar further said: 'King Solomon, when wisdom was given to him, saw all "in the time of his hebel", i.e. in the time when the moon (the Holy Spirit) ruled. He saw the Righteous (Zaddik), the Pillar of the world, "perishing in his righteousness" in the time of the exile, for when Israel is in exile He is with them, and the supernal blessings do not reach Him. Thus "there is a righteous that perisheth in his righteousness" (Eccl. VII, 15). On the other hand, he saw "a wicked person that prolongeth his life in his evil" (Ibid.), namely Samael, who causes Edom (Rome) to continue in her prosperity through the help of his "Evil", his spouse, the loathsome Serpent. And the same applies to the prosperity of all the other kingdoms of this world; until the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, shall raise up from the dust "the booth of David that is fallen" (Amos IX, 11).'


AND THERE WENT A MAN OF THE HOUSE OF LEVI. R. Jose discoursed here on the verse: "My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices" (S.S. VI, 2). He said: 'The words "Into his garden" refer to the Community of Israel. She is a "bed of spices" filled with the savour of the world to come. In the hour when the Holy One descends into this Garden, the souls of all the righteous who are crowned there emit their perfume, as it says, "How much better is the smell of thy ointments than all spices" (S.S. IV, 10). These are they of whom R. Isaac has said: "All the souls of the righteous who have lived in this world, and all the souls who shall some day descend to dwell there, all these dwell in the earthly Garden (Paradise) in that shape which was or shall be their likeness on earth." This is a mystery which has been transmitted to the wise. The spirit which enters into the children of men, and which emanates from the Female (Malkuth) makes an impression after the fashion of a seal. That is to say, the form of the human body in this world is projected outwards, and takes the impress of the spirit from within. So when the spirit separates itself from the body it returns to the earthly Garden in the actual form and pattern of the body that was its garment during its sojourn in this world, and upon which it acted like a seal. Hence it says, "Set me as a seal" (Ibid. VIII, 6): as the seal presses from within and the mark of it appears outwards, so the spirit acts upon the body. But when it separates itself from the body and returns to the terrestrial Paradise, the aether there causes this impress in turn to project itself outwards, so that the spirit receives an outward shape in the likeness of the body in this world. The over-soul (neshamah), however, which issues from the Tree of Life (Tifereth), is fashioned there above in such a manner that it may ascend into the "Bundle of Life", in order to delight in the beauty of the Lord; as it says, "To behold the beauty of the Lord and to visit his temple" (Ps. XXVII, 4).'


AND THERE WENT A MAN OF THE HOUSE OF LEVI. This refers to Gabriel, who is called "the Man" (Dan. IX, 21). "Of the house of Levi" is the Community of Israel, which proceeds from the "Left Side". "And took the daughter of Levi", namely the over-soul (neshamah); for we have been taught that in the hour when the body of a righteous one is born into the world, [11b] the Holy One summons Gabriel, who takes from Paradise the soul ordained for that saint and commands her to descend into the body of him who is to be born in this world; and he, Gabriel, is thus appointed as guardian to that soul. But, it may be said, do we not know that the angel appointed to guard the spirits is called "Laila" (night)? How, then, can you say it is Gabriel? The answer is that both names are correct; for Gabriel comes from the "Left Side", and anyone who comes from that side bears also the other name, which signifies "night".

According to another explanation, "a man" here is Amram, and "the daughter of Levi" is Jochebed. A heavenly voice bade him unite himself with her, as through the son which should be born of them the time of the redemption of Israel would be brought near. And the Holy One came to his aid, for, as we have been taught, the Shekinah reposed upon the nuptial bed and the will of the two in their union was one with the will of the Shekinah. Therefore the Shekinah ceased not to abide with the fruit of that union. It is written: "Sanctify yourselves and be holy" (Lev. XI, 44), which signifies that when a person so sanctifies himself here below the Holy One adds His sanctification from above. As the two strove to unite themselves also with the Shekinah, She on her side united Herself with them in their union. Said R. Isaac: 'Blessed are those righteous ones whose whole desire is ever to be united with the Holy One in completeness and perfection! Inasmuch as they cleave unto Him will He also cleave unto them for ever and ever. Woe unto the wicked, whose desire and attachment is turned away from Him! Not only do they keep aloof from Him, dwelling in separation, but they even unite themselves to that "other side". Thus Amram, who was faithful to the Holy One, became the father of Moses -- him whom the Holy One never deserted, and with whom the Shekinah was ever united, blessed be he!'


AND THE WOMAN CONCEIVED AND BARE A SON AND SHE SAW HIM THAT HE WAS GOOD. What mean the words "that he was good"? Said R. Hiya: 'She saw that even at his birth he was marked with the sign of the covenant, for the word "good" contains an allusion to the covenant, as it is written, "Say of the righteous one that he is good" (Isa. III, 10)' R. Jose said: 'She saw the light of the Shekinah playing round him: for when he was born this light filled the whole house, the word "good" here having the same reference as in the verse "and God saw the light that it was good" (Gen. I, 4.).'


AND SHE HID HIM THREE MONTHS. What does this signify? R. Judah says: 'This is a hint that Moses was not destined to perceive the Supernal Light until three months (after the Exodus) had passed, as it says "in the third month after the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai" (Ex. XIX, 1). Only then was the Torah transmitted through him, and the Shekinah revealed, resting on him before the eyes of all, as it says, "and Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called him out of the mountain" (Ibid. V, 3).'


AND WHEN SHE COULD NO LONGER HIDE HIM. During all that time his communing with the Holy One, blessed be He, was not manifest; but afterwards, "Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice" (Ex. XIX, 19). SHE TOOK FOR HIM AN ARK OF BULRUSHES: thereby prefiguring the Ark that contains the "Tables of the Covenant": AND DAUBED IT WITH SLIME AND WITH PITCH, prefiguring again the Ark which was overlaid within and without. R. Judah said that this was symbolic of the Torah in which the Holy One, blessed be He, laid down stringent rules [8] in the form of precepts, positive and negative. AND SHE PUT THE CHILD THEREIN. This prefigures Israel, of whom it is written: "When Israel was a child then I loved him" (Hos. XI, 1): AND LAID IT IN THE FLAGS (souph), alluding to the precepts of the Torah, which did not come into force until they entered the Land at the end (soph) of forty years. By THE BRINK (s'phath = lip) of the river, alluding to the instruction issuing from the lips of the teachers of law and statute.

The following is an alternative explanation of these verses: AND TOOK TO WIFE A DAUGHTER OF LEVI. This signifies the place which is filled with the brightness of moonlight (Malkuth). [12a] AND SHE HID HIM THREE MONTHS. These are the three months in which the world is under the aegis of stern Justice, namely Tammuz, Ab, and Tebet. And what mean these words? They signify that before descending into this world Moses dwelt already in the upper regions, and therefore was united with the Shekinah from the moment of his birth. R. Simeon concluded from this that the spirits of the righteous exist in heaven before they come down into this world. AND WHEN SHE COULD NO LONGER HIDE HIM SHE TOOK FOR HIM AN ARK OF BULRUSHES. She guarded him with signs against the power of the fishes that swim in the ocean -- that is, the evil spirits -- "wherein are things creeping innumerable" (Ps. CIV, 25). She protected him from such harm by a precious covering composed of two colours, black and white (grace and might). She laid the child between these hues, in order that he might become familiar with them, and later ascend between them to receive the Torah.


AND THE DAUGHTER OF PHARAOH CAME DOWN TO BATHE IN THE RIVER. She was the symbol of the power emanating from the "left side", which betokens severity; she thus bathed in the "river" and not in the "sea". AND HER MAIDENS WALKED ALONG BY THE RIVERSIDE: signifying all the legions that proceed from that side. AND SHE OPENED IT AND SHE SAW IT (vathir'ehu), THE CHILD. Why say "she saw it, the child" instead of simply "she saw the child"? Said R. Simeon: 'There is not a word in the Torah that does not contain sublime and precious mystical teachings. In regard to this passage, we have learned that the impress of the King and the Matrona was discernible in the child, an impress symbolized by the letters Vau and He. She thus straightway "had compassion on him". So far, the whole passage has allusions to heavenly matters; from this point the text concerns earthly occurrences, with the exception of the verse following.


AND HIS SISTER STOOD AFAR OFF. Whose sister? The sister of Him Who calls the Community of Israel "My sister", in the verse "Open to me, my sister, my love!" (Cant. V, 2). "Afar off" -- as it is written: "From far off hath the Lord appeared unto me" (Jer. XXXI, 2). From which it is evident that all the righteous are known by all in those higher regions before their souls descend into this world; how much more, then, Moses. We also learn from this that the souls of the righteous emanate from an upper region, as we have already stated. But there is also an esoteric lesson connected with it, namely, that the soul has a father and a mother, as the body has a father and a mother in this world. In fact, all things above and below proceed from Male and Female, as we have already derived from the words "Let the earth bring forth a living soul" (Gen. I, 24). "The earth" symbolizes the community of Israel; "a living soul" -- the soul of the first, the supernal Man, as already explained.' Then came R. Abba to him, kissed him, and said: 'Verily, thou hast spoken well! It is so indeed. Blessed is Moses, the faithful Shepherd, more faithful than all the other prophets of the world.' There is still another interpretation of "and his sister stood afar off", namely, as symbolizing "Wisdom" -- "say to wisdom, thou art my sister" (Prov. VII, 4). [12b] Said R. Isaac: 'The attribute of Justice has never departed from the world, for whenever Israel sinned, stern Justice stood there as her accuser, and then "his sister (wisdom) stood afar off", without interfering. "And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the river": i.e. as soon as Israel separates herself from the Torah, the attribute of Justice comes forth to "bathe" in the blood of Israel, because of the neglect of the Torah. "And her maidens walked along by the river's side": these are the nations who persecute Israel, because of her neglect of the Torah.' Said R. Judah: 'Man's fate depends in the last resort upon repentance and prayer, and especially prayer with tears; for there is no gate which tears cannot penetrate. It is written here: "And she opened it and saw the child", which, being interpreted, means that the Shekinah, who always hovers over Israel like a mother over her children, and pleads in her defence against her accuser, opened it "and saw the child, and behold the babe wept". The Shekinah saw the "child", the people of Israel, which is called "the child of delight" (Jer. XXXI, 20), in remorseful tears, pleading with the Holy One like a child with his father, and she "had compassion on him". She said: "This is one of the Hebrews' children", that is to say, of the Hebrews, who are gentle and tender-hearted, and not of the Gentiles, who are stiff-necked and stubborn of heart; they, the Hebrews, are tender-hearted and eager to return to their heavenly Master. "And she called the child's mother", who wept, as it is written: "In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted" (Jer. XXXI, 14.). The child wept, and the mother wept.' R. Judah continued: 'Concerning the future it says: "They will come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them." For the sake of the weeping of Rachel, the child's mother, will they come and be gathered in from captivity.' R. Isaac said: 'The redemption of Israel depends only on weeping: when the effect of the tears of Esau, which he shed before his father on account of the birthright (Gen. XXVII, 38) shall have been exhausted, redemption will begin for Israel.' Said R. Jose: 'Esau's weeping brought Israel into captivity, and when their force is exhausted, Israel, through their tears, shall be delivered from him.'

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:17 am

Part 3 of 4

AND HE SAW AN EGYPTIAN SMITING A HEBREW. AND HE LOOKED HERE AND THERE (koh wa-koh). He looked for the fifty letters by which the Israelites proclaim the Divine Unity twice daily, but found no semblance of them expressed in the countenance of that man. Said R. Abba: 'He looked "here" to see whether there were any good works wrought by the man, and "there" to see whether a good son would issue from him. "And he saw that there was no man"; he saw through the holy spirit that no such good son would ever descend from him, for he was aware, as R. Abba has said, that there are many wicked parents who beget more good sons than righteous parents, and that a good son born of wicked parents is of special excellence, being pure out of impure, light out of darkness, wisdom out of folly. The word "saw" here indicates discernment through the holy spirit, and therefore he did not shrink from killing the Egyptian.

'Now the Holy One, blessed be He, so ordered matters that Moses might come to the same well to which Jacob came. It says here: "And he sat down by ('al, lit. upon) a well" (Ibid. V, 15), and of Jacob it says, "And he looked, and behold, a well" (Gen. XIX, 2). This shows that although they belonged to the same degree (of sanctity), Moses in this ascended higher than Jacob.' As R. Jose and R. Isaac were once walking together, the former said: 'Was the well which both Jacob and Moses saw the same one which was digged by Abraham and Isaac?' Said R. Isaac: 'No! This well was created when the world was created, and its mouth was formed on the eve of the Sabbath of Creation, in the twilight.' [9] That was the well which Jacob and Moses saw.' [13a]


NOW THE PRIEST OF MIDIAN HAD SEVEN DAUGHTERS. Said R. Judah: 'If the well from which they drew the water was Jacob's well, how were Jethro's daughters able to draw water from it without difficulty? Was there not "upon the well's mouth a great stone" which had to be "rolled away" by the shepherds (Gen. XXIX, 2-3)?' Said R. Hiya: "'Jacob removed that stone from the well and did not put it back. From that time the water gushed forth, and there was no stone on the well, and thus Jethro's daughters were able to draw from it.'

R. Eleazar and R. Abba were once walking from Tiberias to Sipphoris. On the way a Jew joined them. Said R. Eleazar: 'Let each one of us expound some saying of the Torah!' He himself started by quoting the sentence: "Then said he unto me, prophesy unto the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit" (Ezek. XXXVII, 9). 'It may be asked, how could Ezekiel prophesy concerning the spirit, seeing that it is written: "No man hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit" (Eccl. VIII, 8)? Verily, man has no power over the spirit, but the Holy One has power over all things, and it was by His command that Ezekiel was prophesying. Besides, the spirit was embodied in material form in this world, and therefore he prophesied concerning it: "Come from the four winds, O spirit!"; namely from the region where it resides in the four foundations of the world.'

On hearing this the Jew jumped up. 'What is the matter?' asked R. Eleazar. The Jew replied: 'I see something.' 'And what is it?' He answered: 'If the spirit of man is endowed in Paradise with the form of the body which it is to assume in this world, should it not have been said: "Come from Paradise, O spirit!" and not "from the four winds"?' R. Eleazar replied: 'Before descending into this world the spirit ascends from the earthly Paradise to the Throne which stands on four pillars. There it draws its being from that Throne of the King, and only then does it descend to this world. As the body is collected from the four regions of the world, so is the spirit of man taken from the four pillars upon which the Throne is established.' 'The reason why I ran in front of you,' said the man, 'was because I beheld something from that side. One day I was walking in the desert and I beheld a tree, beautiful to look upon, and beneath it a cavern. I approached it and found that from the cavern issued a profusion of sweet odours. I plucked up courage and entered the cavern. I descended a number of steps which brought me to a place where there were many trees, and savours of overpowering sweetness. There I saw a man who held a sceptre in his hand, standing at a place where the trees parted. When he saw me he was astonished and came up to me. "Who art thou, and what doest thou here? " he demanded. I was frightened exceedingly and said: "Sir, I am one of the Fellowship. I noticed this place in the desert, and so I entered." Said he: "As thou art one of the Fellowship, take this bundle of writings and give it to the members of the Fellowship, to those who know the mystery of the spirits of the righteous ones." He then struck [13b] me with the sceptre, and I fell asleep. In my sleep I saw crowds upon crowds arriving at that place, and the man touched them with the sceptre saying: "Take the path of the trees!" After going a little way they flew in the air and I did not know to where. I also heard voices of great multitudes and knew not who they were. When I awoke I saw nothing, and I was in fear and trembling. Then I beheld the man again. He asked me: "Hast thou seen anything?" I told him what I had seen in my sleep. Said he: "These were the spirits of the righteous who go by that way in order to reach Paradise, and what thou hast heard are the voices of those who stand in the Garden in the likeness they are to wear in this world, expressing their great joy at the arrival of the spirits of the righteous who enter there. As the body is formed in this world from the combination of the four elements, so is the spirit formed in the Garden from the combination of the four winds that are in the Garden, and the spirit is enveloped there in the impress of the body's shape, and if it were not for the four winds, which are the airs of the Garden, the spirit would not have been clothed at all. These four winds are bound up with one another, and the spirit is shaped from them, as the body is shaped from the four elements. Therefore it says: 'Come from the four winds, O spirit!', namely from the four winds of Paradise from which thou art shaped. And now take this bundle of writings, and go thy way, and give it to the Fellowship."' The Jew here finished, and R. Eleazar and his companions drew near and kissed him on his head. Said R. Eleazar: 'Blessed be the Merciful One Who sent thee here! Verily this is the true explanation of the subject, and God put that verse into my mouth.' Then the Jew gave them the bundle of writings. As soon as R. Eleazar took it and opened it, a fiery vapour burst forth and enveloped him. He saw some things in it, and then the writing flew away from his hand. Then R. Eleazar wept, and said: 'Who can abide in the storehouse of the King? "Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?" (Ps. XV, 2). Blessed be the way and the hour in which this happened to me!' This incident made R. Eleazar glad for many days, but he said nothing to his colleagues. As they were proceeding, they passed a well from which they drank. Said R. Eleazar: 'Blessed are the righteous! Jacob ran away from his brother, and chanced to find a well; as soon as it saw him, the waters recognized their master and ascended to meet him, and there he found his spouse. Moses felt assured when he saw that the water came up to him that there he would meet his future wife. Furthermore, the holy spirit never left him, and he knew by inspiration that Zipporah would be his wife. He thought: "To be sure, Jacob came to this same place and the waters came up towards him, and then a man came up and took him into his house and supplied him with all his needs: the same will happen to me".' Said the man who accompanied them: 'We have been taught that Jethro had been a heathen priest, and as soon as he saw that there was no truth in paganism he renounced it and ceased to worship the idols, and then his people excommunicated him, and when they saw his daughters they drove them away, for previously the shepherds used to pasture Jethro's flocks. When Moses saw through the holy spirit that the shepherds acted as they did on account of their idolatrous religion, he straightway stood up and helped the daughters and watered their flocks, acting wholly from zeal for God in all things.' Said to him R. Eleazar: 'Thou hast been so long with us, and yet we know not [14a] thy name!' He replied: 'My name is Yoezer ben Jacob.' The colleagues came and kissed him. They said: 'Thou wert so long with us, and we knew thee not!' They walked together the whole day, and then accompanied him three miles on his way.


AND THEY SAID, AN EGYPTIAN DELIVERED US FROM THE HAND OF THE SHEPHERDS. Said R. Hiya: 'The companions have affirmed that (in using the word "Egyptian") they spoke in a flash of inspiration, saying words of whose true import they themselves were not aware. They were indeed like a man dwelling in the desert who seldom tasted meat, but one day, when a bear pursuing a lamb passed his dwelling, he saved the lamb from the bear in order afterwards to slay it himself for food, so that it was the bear which was the means of supplying the man with meat. Even so it was due to the Egyptian whom Moses killed that Jethro's daughters were saved.'

The following is an alternative explanation of Ex. I, 11: AND THESE ARE THE NAMES OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL. R. Judah opened with the words: "I am black but comely" (S.S. I, 5). He said that they refer to the community of Israel, who is "black" because of her captivity, and "comely" because of the Torah and good works, for which she will be worthy to inherit the Jerusalem that is above. Although she is "as the tents of Kedar", i.e. "black" (kedar), she is "like the curtains of Solomon", i.e. she belongs to the King of perfect peace (shalom).

R. Hiya the Great once visited the masters of the (esoteric) lore to learn from them. He came to the house of R. Simeon ben Yohai and found it shut off by a curtain. R. Hiya felt bashful and said: 'I shall stand here and listen to what he says.' And he heard R. Simeon say: 'Flee away, my beloved, like the gazelle, or like a young hart on mountains of spices (S.S. VII, 14). This signifies the longing of Israel for the Holy One, blessed be He: she implores Him not to depart from her to a distance, but to be even as a gazelle and a young hart. These animals, unlike all others, do when running go but a little way, and then look back, turning their faces toward the place from which they came, then running on, do again turn round and look back. So the Israelites say to the Holy One, blessed be He: "If our sins have caused Thee to flee from us, may it be Thy pleasure to run like a gazelle or like a young hart, and look back on us!" And, indeed, is it not written: "And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly" (Lev. XXVI, 44)? Furthermore, a gazelle sleeps with one eye closed and the other one open, and so Israel says to the Holy One, blessed be He, "Be unto me like a gazelle also in this"! Yea, verily, "He who keepeth Israel neither slumbereth nor sleepeth" (Ps. CXXI, 4).'

Hearing all this, R. Hiya said: 'Behold, supernal beings are present in this house, and do I stay outside? Woe is me.' And he commenced to weep. But R. Simeon, hearing him from within, said: 'Verily, the Shekinah is outside. Who will go out to bring Her in?' Said R. Eleazar' his son: 'Though I burn, I shall not burn any more than the phoenix, for the Shekinah is there outside. Let her enter here, in order that the fire may be perfect.' Then he heard a voice: 'Not yet have the pillars been set up nor have the gates been fixed, and he is of those who are too young for the spices of Eden which are here.' So R. Eleazar did not go out. R. Hiya, still sitting without, sighed and recited: '"Turn, my beloved, and be thou like unto a gazelle, or like unto a young hart upon mountains of disruption" (S.S. II, 17).' Then the dividing curtain opened, but R. Hiya did not enter. R. Simeon lifted up his eyes and said: 'He who is without has, by a clear sign, been permitted to enter, and do we remain here?' He stood up and lo, as he rose a fire began to move from the place where he stood to the place where R. Hiya was. Said R. Simeon: 'A spark of radiant light is without and I am here within.' R. Hiya could not open his mouth. When he entered, he dropped his eyes and looked not up. Said R. Simeon to R. Eleazar his son: 'Arise and pass thy hand over his mouth, for he is unaccustomed to these surroundings.' R. Eleazar arose and did so. Then R. Hiya opened his mouth and said: 'My eyes now see something they have not seen before. I have reached a height that I did not dream of. It is good to die in the fire kindled by the good gold, at the place where sparks fly on every side, each one ascending to three hundred [14b] and seventy-five rows of angels, and each of which spreads itself to thousands and myriads, until they reach the Ancient of Days, who sits upon the Throne. The Throne trembles, and the trembling thereof penetrates through a hundred and sixty worlds until it reaches a place which is called "the delight of the righteous", and it is heard throughout all the firmaments. Then all they that are above and all that are below are greatly amazed, and cry as with one voice: "This is R. Simeon ben Yohai, the world-shaker; who can stand before him? When he opens his lips to expound the Torah, all the thrones, all the firmaments, all the angelic hosts, all who praise their Lord, do listen to his voice. No mouth is opened: all are silent, and not a sound is heard until his words break through all the firmaments above and below. But when he ends, then the song and the rejoicing of them who praise their Lord is such as was never before heard; it echoes through all the firmaments of Heaven -- and all this on account of R. Simeon and his wisdom! They bow before their Master, the perfume of the spices from Eden ascends in sweetness to the Throne of the Ancient of Days -- and all this on account of R. Simeon and his wisdom!".'

R. Simeon here discoursed as follows: 'In his going down into Egypt Jacob was accompanied by six angelic grades, each consisting of ten thousand myriads. Correspondingly Israel was made up of six grades, in correspondence to which again there are six steps to the supernal celestial Throne, and corresponding to them six steps to the lower celestial Throne. [10] Observe that each grade was an epitome of ten grades, so that altogether there were sixty, indentical with the "threescore mighty men" that are round about the Shekinah. And these sixty, again, are the sixty myriads that accompanied Israel in their departure from exile and accompanied Jacob into exile.' R. Hiya asked him: 'But are there not seven grades, each an epitome of the ten grades, thus amounting to seventy?' R. Simeon said in reply: 'That number has no bearing on this matter, as we learn from the description of the candlestick, of which it says: "And there shall be six branches going out of the sides thereof: three branches of the candlestick out of the one side thereof, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side thereof ... And thou shalt make the lamps thereof seven" (Ex. XXV, 32). The central branch is not counted with the rest, as it says, "and they shall light the lamps thereof over against it" (Ibid.).'

As they sat thus, R. Eleazar asked his father, R. Simeon: 'For what purpose, and to what end, did the Holy One, blessed be He, allow Israel to go down to Egypt to be in exile there?' His father replied: 'Dost thou ask one question or two?' 'Two,' said R. Eleazar, 'why to Egypt, and why in exile?' Said R. Simeon: 'Stand up and take courage! In thy name shall this word be established above. Speak, my son, speak!' Then R. Eleazar opened his mouth and said: '"Threescore queens are they, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number" (S.S. VI, 8). The "threescore queens" are allegorical of the celestial heroic angels that are of the host of Geburah, and that attach themselves to the "shells" (k'lifoth, i.e. baser elements) of the holy congregation of Israel. The "fourscore concubines" signify the lower "klifoth" that have dominion in this world, and whose power is to the higher powers as one to a hundred. The "virgins without number" are those angelic hosts of whom it is said, "Is there a number to his bands?" (Job. XXV, 3). And yet "My dove, my undefiled, is but one, she is the only one of her mother" (S.S. VI, 9), the Holy Shekinah, who proceeds from the twelve flashes of the radiance which illumines all things, and is called "Mother". And the Holy One, blessed be He, dealt according to this principle with the earth: He scattered the nations abroad in separation and appointed supernal chiefs over them, as it is written, "which the Lord hath imparted to all the nations under heaven" (Deut. VI, 19). But He took unto Himself the congregation of Israel to be His own portion and His own choice, as it is written, "For the Lord's portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance" (Ibid. XXXII, 9). Thus it is clear that Israel is directly under God and none other; and He says of her: "My dove, my undefiled, is but one, she is the only one of her Mother." She is the only one of her Mother Shekinah who dwells in her midst. "Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all" (Prov. XXXI, 29).'

There is a further esoteric meaning in this verse. We are told: "With ten Sayings the world was created" (Pirke Ab. V, 1). Yet, on examination they prove to be only three, viz. Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge. The world was created only for the sake of Israel. When the Holy One, blessed be He, desired to endow the earth with permanence, He formed Abraham in the mystery of Wisdom, Isaac in the mystery of Understanding, and Jacob in the mystery of Perception, that is to say, of Knowledge. Therefore it is said: "With wisdom is the house built, and by understanding it is established, and by knowledge shall the chambers be filled ... " (Prov. XXIV, 4-5). At that hour the whole world came into perfection; and when the twelve Tribes were born to Jacob, [15a] all things came to completion according to the supernal pattern ordained from the beginning. When the Holy One beheld the exceeding joy of this lower world at being completed after the fashion of the world above, He said: "Should they (the Israelites) mingle with the other nations, a blemish would be caused in all the worlds". What, then, did He do? He caused them to wander over the face of the earth and from one nation to another until, in Egypt, they fell among those of a stubborn race, who, deeming them but slaves, despised their customs and abhorred their ways, and would not mingle with them or have a part in them. Both male and female among the Egyptians loathed them, and thus the whole Divine purpose could come into completion within the holy seed itself, whilst at the same time the guilt of the other nations became complete, as it is written: "In the fourth generation they (the children of Abraham) shall come hither again; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full" (Gen. XV, 16). And when the Israelites came out of the bondage of Egypt, they came out as beings pure and holy, as it says: "The tribes of the Lord, the testimony of Israel" (Ps. CXXII, 4).'

Then R. Simeon approached his son, and kissing him he said: 'Remain, my son, standing at thy place, for the hour favours thee.' Then R. Simeon sat and listened while R. Eleazar, his son, stood and expounded mysteries of wisdom. And as he spoke his countenance was lit as by the radiance of the sun, and his words ascended to the starry heights and flitted across the firmament. They thus continued for a space of two days, neither eating nor drinking, and noticing neither day nor night. When they came forth they found that they had not tasted anything for two days. Said R. Simeon: 'We are told that Moses "was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water" (Ex. XXIV, 28). If we, who but for a brief space were caught up into that rapture of Divine contemplation, forgot to eat and drink, how much more so Moses!'

When R. Hiya appeared before R. Judah the Saint and related this occurrence to him, R. Simeon ben Gamliel, R. Judah's father, said: 'R. Simeon ben Yohai is indeed a lion and his son likewise. He is different from all others of his kind. Of him it is written: "The lion hath roared, who will not fear?" (Amos III, 8). And if even the upper worlds do tremble before him, how much more then we? A man who has no need of fasting to proclaim his desires to the Almighty, and to have them fulfilled, since he decides and the Holy One, blessed be He, confirms his decision; or the Holy One deciding, he revokes the decision and it is annulled! As it is said: "There shall be one that ruleth over man, a righteous one ruling in the fear of the Lord" (2 Sam. XXIII, 3). The Holy One rules over man, but who rules over the Holy One? Surely, the Righteous! for it may even be from time to time that the Holy One proposes and the righteous disposes!'

R. Judah said: 'The Holy One, blessed be He, delights more in the prayer of the righteous than in any other thing soever; yet, though it please Him better than all else, He does not always grant their requests, nor do all that they ask. He sometimes refuses to fulfil their wish.'

It is recounted by the disciples that on one occasion when there was a shortage of rain, R. Eleazar decreed that the congregation should fast forty days. But no rain fell. Then R. Akiba prayed, and as he spake the words "Thou causest the wind to blow" so the wind blew, and when he said "and the rain to fall", lo, the rain fell. R. Eleazar was much chagrined at this. R. Akiba read his feelings in his looks, so he stood up and said to the congregation: 'I will tell you a parable. R. Eleazar is like unto one who is the king's own friend and dear companion: when he goes to the palace to entreat some favour, it is not granted at once, since the king so delights in his friend's presence that he keeps him by him as long as possible. I, on the other hand, am like the king's servant, whose requests are quickly granted, the king only desiring to get rid of him at once and be no more troubled; therefore he says: "Give the man what he wants at once, so that he should not have to enter my chamber!".' On hearing this, R. Eleazar was comforted. He said to him: 'Akiba, let me tell you what was shown to me in a dream in regard to the words, "Pray not for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me" (Jer. VII, 16). Twelve rows of pure balsam entered with him who wears breastplate and Ephod (i.e. the heavenly High Priest, the Intercessor, probably Metatron) when he prayed to the Holy One to have mercy upon the world, and yet he still is unanswered.' If so, why was R. Eleazar vexed? Because people did not know this.

Said R. Eleazar: 'Eighteen gardens of balsam are entered daily by the souls of the righteous, from which emanate forty-nine aromas, [15b] reaching to the place called Eden -- in correspondence with the forty-nine ways of interpreting the Torah, [11] the forty-nine letters in the names of the twelve tribes, the forty-nine days' interval between the Exodus and the giving of the Law. Forty-nine holy days stand there, and each day waits for the instructions of the flashing stone set in the breastplate, and he who is adorned with the breastplate sits on a holy glorious throne. They look at the breastplate, and take the order from it either to enter or to depart. They lift up their eyes and behold a shining plate flashing towards six hundred and twenty sides on which the supernal holy Name is engraved.' Said R. Akiba to him: 'What is the meaning of the words, "I went down into the garden of nuts (Heb. nut)" (S.S. VI, 11)?' R. Eleazar replied: 'This garden is the one that goes out of Eden, namely the Shekinah; the "nut" is the supernal holy Chariot, namely the four heads into which the river parted (Gen. II, 10), like the walnut, which has four sections inside. "I went down" is used in the same sense as in the expression, "So-and-so went down to the Chariot" (i.e. penetrated to its inner meaning): Said R. Akiba: 'In that case it ought to have said: "I went down into the nut"; why does it say, "into the garden of nuts"?' Said R. Eleazar: 'As it is the virtue of a nut to be closed in from all sides, so is the Chariot which goes out of the Garden (Paradise) hidden on all sides; as the four sections of the walnut are united at one side and separated at the other, so are all the parts of the Celestial Chariot united in perfect union, and yet each part fulfils a special purpose; one "compasses the whole land of Havilah", and the other "compasses the whole land of Cush", etc: Said R. Akiba: 'What is the symbolism of the moisture in the shell of the walnut?' R. Eleazar replied: 'Although the Scripture does not reveal it in this connection, it does in another connection. Almonds are sweet and also bitter, symbolizing condemnation and acquittal, although every instance in the Bible refers to condemnation only (cf. Jer. I, 11-12): Said R. Akiba: 'Indeed, everything that the Holy One has made can teach us deep lessons, as it says, "The Lord hath made all things to teach us wisdom) concerning himself" (Prov. XVI, 4): R. Eleazar remarked: 'Rather quote the following verse: "And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good." The "very" suggests that we should learn the higher supernal wisdom from all that He made.' R. Judah said: 'That which God has made on earth corresponds to that which He made in heaven, and all things below are symbols of that which is above: When R. Abba once saw a bird flying away from its nest in a tree, he wept, saying: 'If men only knew what this means, they would rend their garments for the knowledge which has perished from them. For as R. Jose says, "The trees which give mystic indications, like the carob and date tree, can all be grafted on one another. All that bear fruit have one secret nature, save the apple; all that do not bear fruit, save the willows of the brook, suck from one source; and all lowly shrubs, save the hyssop, are from one mother. Every kind of herb has its counterpart above. Therefore it is prohibited to "sow a field with mingled seed" (Lev. XIX, 19). [16a] Now if it is true that all things have their counterparts in heaven, and God gives each one its name, how much more so is it true of the sons of Jacob, the holy Tribes, the pillars of the world! And this is the significance of the words "and these are the names", etc:


AND THESE ARE THE NAMES. Each time that R. Eleazar ben Arach came to this verse he wept. He said that when Israel went into exile all the souls of their progenitors gathered in the cave of Machpelah and cried: "Old man, the afflictions of thy children are terrible; they have to do the work of slaves and a heathen nation makes their lives unbearable." Immediately the spirit of Jacob was awakened. He asked permission to go to Egypt, and he went. Then the Holy One summoned all His celestial hosts and their leaders and they all accompanied Jacob and his sons. The tribes went down to Egypt with their father when they were alive and again when they were dead. Said R. Abba: 'Then the words were fulfilled: "As a father pitieth his children" (Ps. CIII, 13).'

R. Judah bar Shalom was once walking together with R. Abba. They arrived at a place where they decided to spend the night. After taking a meal they lay down to sleep, putting their heads on some raised ground under which was a grave. Before falling asleep they heard a voice from the grave, crying: 'Twelve years [16b] have I been sleeping here, and only now do I wake, for I now see the image of my son.' R. Judah asked him who he was, and he said: 'I am a Jew, and lie under a ban, not being able to enter the higher regions because of the sorrows of my son, who was stolen by a heathen when he was very young, and is sorely maltreated.' Said R. Judah to him: 'Do the dead know of the sufferings of the living?' He replied: 'If it were not for us, the dead, who intercede before the angel of the grave for the living, they would not remain alive for half a day. I have awakened now, for I was told that my son would come here, but I know not whether alive or dead.' Then R. Judah asked him: 'What do ye do in that other world?' The grave shook, and a voice was heard, saying: 'Go away! For at this moment my son is being beaten.' They ran from there for about half a mile and sat down until the morning. When they rose to go they saw a man running with blood streaming from his shoulders. They stopped him, and he told them what had happened to him. They asked him his name and he said: 'Lahma the son of Levi.' 'Why,' said they, 'that is the son of the dead man!' They were afraid to converse with him, neither did they return to the place of the grave. Said R. Abba: 'That the prayers of the dead protect the living we learn from Caleb, who went to Hebron to beg for the intercession of the patriarchs (V. Num. XIII, 22).' R. Judah said: 'The Holy One gave two promises (lit. vows) to Jacob: one, that He Himself would go down and stay with him in exile; and the second, that He would let him come out of his grave to behold the joy of the holy host of celestial beings who would dwell with his children in their captivity; as it is written: "I will go down with thee into Egypt and I will surely bring thee up again" (Gen. XLVI, 4); "I will cause you to come up out of your graves" (Ezek. XXXVII, 12); "Whither the tribes go up" (Ps. CXXII, 5).'


NOW THERE AROSE A NEW KING OVER EGYPT. R. Simeon said: 'As soon as Joseph died, the celestial representative of Egypt was given domination over all the other nations, as it says: "And Joseph died ... and a new king arose", like one who rose to power from a lowly position. R. Tanhum said: 'Every nation has its own representative above, and when God elevates one He degrades another, and when He gives power to this one it is only on account of Israel, as it says: "Her adversaries have become chiefs" (Lam. I, 5).' R. Isaac said: 'Israel singly is equivalent to all the other nations together; as seventy is the number of the nations, so seventy was the number of the children of Israel when they came into Egypt, and whoever rules over Israel rules over the whole world.' R. Huna said: 'Why is Israel subjected to all nations? In order that the world may be preserved through them, since they are on a par with the whole world. As God is One, so is Israel one, as it says: "And who is like thy people, one people on earth?" (2 Sam. VII, 23). And as His name is one and yet has seventy ramifications, so is Israel one, and yet divided into seventy.' R. Judah applied the words: "For three things the earth is disquieted ... for a servant when he reigneth ... and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress" (Prov. XXX, 21-22), [17a] to Egypt and Ishmael (Islam). There is no nation so despised of the Holy One as Egypt, and yet he gave her dominion over Israel; while the "handmaid" is Hagar, who bare Ishmael, who tormented Israel so cruelly in the past, and still rules over her and persecutes her for her faith. In truth, the exile under Ishmael is the hardest of all exiles. Once, when going up to Jerusalem, R. Joshua saw an Arab and his son meet a Jew. The Arab said to his son: "See! There is a Jew whom God has rejected. Go and insult him. Spit in his face seven times, for he is of the seed of the exalted ones, and I know that the seventy nations shall be ruled by them". The boy went and took hold of the Jew's beard, whereupon R. Joshua said: "Mighty ones, mighty ones, I call upon the supernal ones to come down below!" And even before he had finished, the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the Arabs.'

R. Isaac interpreted the verse "Until the day break and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense" (S.S. IV, 6) in connection with Israel's exile. 'She will be subjected by the nations until the "day" of the Gentiles, which is a thousand years, comes to an end -- the "one day known to the Lord" (Zech. XIV, 7) -- and "the shadows flee away", namely those who ruled over them. "I will get me", says the Holy One, "to the mountain of Moriah -- Jerusalem -- to drive away the heathen nations from there; and to the Sanctuary on Mount Zion, the joy of the whole earth." He will "take hold of the ends of the earth that the wicked might be shaken out of it" (Job XXXVIII, 13), as one shakes out the dust from a garment.' R. Jose said: 'Even before the day of the Gentiles be completed the Holy One will reveal Himself in the Jerusalem below to purify her from the abominations of the heathen, for R. Hiya has said that the domination of the Gentiles over Israel cannot last a day longer than a thousand years, which is the Holy One's One Day. Should it last longer, it will not be according to the King's will, but because Israel will not turn to Him in repentance, as it is written: "When thou shalt return unto the Lord ... then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity" (Deut. XXX, 1-4).'


AND HE SAID UNTO HIS PEOPLE. Said R. Simeon: 'This refers to Egypt's principality in heaven. Note that this passage mostly speaks of "the king of Egypt", which refers to the celestial chieftain of Egypt; but where it says, "Pharaoh king of Egypt" the actual king is meant. "He said" means he put the idea into their minds that the representative in heaven of the children of Israel was mightier than theirs.' R. Isaac said: 'All the nations of the world derive their power from their celestial prototypes, but Israel only from God, therefore she is called "the people of the Lord".' R. Judah said: 'The Egyptians are here called "his (their representative's) people", and God says of Israel: "I have seen the affliction of my people" (Ex. III, 7): it is to be taken in the strictly literal sense, as it is written, "For all peoples walk everyone in the name of its god, but we walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever" (Micah IV, 5).' R. Abba said: 'Instead of the peculiar expression "the people of the children of Israel", we should expect either "the people of Israel", or simply "the children of Israel". "Children of Israel", therefore, must refer to the angels, the children of the supernal Israel, and the Israelites were called by Pharaoh their people and not the people of the Lord.' [17b] R. Johanan, being in the presence of R. Isaac, put to him the question: 'What made Balak say, "Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt" (Num. XXII, 5) instead of saying, "Behold, a people, to wit, the children of Israel"?' R. Isaac replied: 'Balak was a great sorcerer, and it is the way of sorcerers to avoid any doubtful statement. Thus, in mentioning a man they will never mention the name of his father, but that of his mother, for the reason that a man's maternal descent is beyond any doubt. They adopt this course because the demons scrutinize every word uttered to them, so that if it be a falsehood they communicate to the utterer lying information, but if it be truthful they communicate truthful information, at least about things that are to happen shortly. All the more is this the case when they are invoked to perform some action.' R. Aha said: 'Balak wished to show his contempt of Israel by his expression: "Behold, a people went forth from Egypt", as much as to say, "a people, whose origin we know not".'

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

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


AND HE SAID UNTO HIS PEOPLE. R. Isaac once drew near to the foot of a mountain, and there beheld a man sleeping under a tree. He sat down. Suddenly and without warning the earth began to quake violently and became full of fissures. The tree was uprooted and fell to the ground; and the man beneath it woke, and cried with a loud voice: 'O Jew, O Jew, weep and lament with mourning and sounds of sorrow! For even at this very moment a great supernal prince of the Gentiles is being appointed in Heaven, who will cause terrible misfortune to Israel. This quaking of the earth is meant as a portent and a warning to you.' At this R. Isaac fell a-trembling, and said: 'Verily, it is written, "For three things the earth is disquieted ... for a servant when he reigneth, etc.", that is, when the supramundane principality, who was previously under another ruler, reigns, especially over Israel.' R. Hama bar Gurya said: 'When God allows Israel to fall under the oppression of the Gentiles He (God) weeps, as it is written, "My soul weeps in secret places" (Jer. XIII, 17).'

R. Judah once visited R. Eleazar. He found him sitting deep in thought, his hand pressed to his mouth in sadness. 'What are you thinking about?' he asked. [18a] R. Eleazar replied: 'It says "In the light of the king's countenance there is life" (Prov. XVI, 15), but if our Master is cast down in spirit, and even sighing and weeping, what can his ministers do but follow His example? Therefore it is written, "Behold, their valiant ones (angels) cry without, the angels of peace weep bitterly" (Is. XXXIII, 7). Why do they cry? Because their Lord is within and they are without; because their Lord is in the inner chambers and they are in the outer courts. Why are they called "angels of peace"? Are there angels who are not of peace? Yea, verily! For there are emissaries both of stern judgement and of less stern judgement, and there are those whose attribute is justice mingled with mercy, and some who represent mercy only. It is these last who are called "Angels of peace". Of the lowest degree of heavenly beings it is written, "I clothe the heavens with blackness and I make sackcloth their covering" (Is. L, 3). But unto what end do the principalities of the Gentile nations cause God's children to suffer, seeing that it makes their Master grieve? They only carry out their office and they needs must do the will of their Lord.'

Said R. Dostai: 'When the children of the Holy One are delivered up to the rulers of the Gentiles, twelve celestial tribunals meet together and precipitate themselves into the great abyss, and all the ministering angels with all servitors cry in agony. Two tears fall then into the abyss. The higher angelic beings roll down below, and the lower are brought still lower to the measure of two hundred and forty degrees, for "The lion hath roared, who will not fear?" (Amos III, 8).' We have learned that at the time the Holy One, blessed be He, had given over Israel into the hand of the chieftain of Egypt, He decreed that seven hardships should be laid on them by the Egyptians. These are enumerated in the verse saying: "And they made their lives bitter with hard service, etc." Correspondingly, He bestowed on them seven favours, as enumerated in the verse: "And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed mighty, very mighty, exceedingly so, and the land was filled with them."


COME, LET US DEAL WISELY WITH THEM LEST THEY MULTIPLY (Ex. I, 10). R. Judah said in the name of R. Isaac: 'Why did the Egyptians so desire to prevent Israel from multiplying, and what motive prompted their supernal representative to put such a desire into their hearts? Because he knew and made known to them that a son would be born to the Israelites through whom judgement should be brought upon the gods of Egypt; for, according to R. Johanan, when Moses said that God "will exercise judgement against all the gods of Egypt" (Ex. XII, 12), Duma, the celestial Prince of Egypt, ran away four hundred parasangs, and the Holy One said to him: "It is My decree!" In that hour his power and his dominion was taken from him, and he was banished, instead, to the lower regions and appointed over the realms of Gehenna, as judge of the souls of the wicked.' R. Judah said that he was appointed over the dead. R. Hanina said: 'It is written: "Upon their gods also the Lord executed judgements" (Num. XXXIII, 4). Can we speak of judgements being executed on gods made of silver or gold, of wood or stone?' R. Jose replied: 'Those made of silver and gold were melted of themselves, and the wooden rotted of themselves.' R. Eleazar said: 'The god of Egypt was the sheep, and so the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded to burn it in fire, so that its evil smell should go forth; and that it should be burnt with "its head with its legs and the inwards thereof" (Ex. XII, 9). And in addition, its bones were thrown into the market-place, a thing which distressed the Egyptians beyond all else. This was the "judgement" implied in the verse cited.' R. Judah said: '''Against their gods" refers in a literal sense to their Chieftains, in fulfilment of the prophecy: "The Lord will punish the host of the high heaven on high" (Is. XXIV, 21). The wise men among the Egyptians knew all this, and all the more so their Chieftain. Hence they said: "Come, let us deal wisely with them".' Said R. Johanan: 'They had many idols, but their chief god was the Nile, [18b] and the Lord executed judgements on them all.' Said R. Abba: 'The exposition of R. Johanan is the correct and self-evident one. For we know that first the gods of a nation are punished and then the nation itself. So here, first the Nile and wood and stones were smitten, as Scripture says: "and there shall be blood throughout the land of Egypt, both in wood and stone" (Ex. XII, 19), the wood and stone being the very gods which the Egyptians worshipped.' R. Isaac remarked: 'But it is written, "the host of the high heaven on high", whereas the Nile was not on high.' Said R. Johanan: 'The greater part of its waters resemble their prototype on high.' R. Isaac said: 'First their Chieftain was smitten and then the rest of their gods.' R. Simeon, the son of R. Jose, said: 'The punishment of the Egyptian nation itself was accomplished at the sea, in regard to which it is written: "There remained not so much as one of them" (Ibid. XIV, 28), and before that, judgements were executed against their gods. Hence the words of Pharaoh, saying: "Come, let us deal wisely with them lest they multiply, and it come to pass that, when befalleth us any war, etc." There was here a premonition of what actually came to pass -- "they also join themselves unto our enemies" -- a premonition of the heavenly hosts that stood by the Israelites -- "and fight against us" -- a prediction of what Moses declared, saying: "The Lord will fight for you" (Ibid. XIV, 14) -- "and get them up out of the land" -- as in fact we read: "for the children of Israel went out with a high hand" (Ibid. XIV, 8).'

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:34 am

Part 4 of 4

AND THERE WENT A MAN OF THE HOUSE OF LEVI AND TOOK TO WIFE A DAUGHTER OF LEVI. R. Eleazar discoursed on the verse, "The Song of Songs of Solomon" (S. S. I, 1). He said: 'We have learnt that when the Holy One, blessed be He, was about to create the world, He was pleased to create the heaven with His right hand, and the earth with His left. He was also pleased to make a division of day and night, and He created angels appointed by His grace to chant hymns of praise by day, and others by night for the night watches. Thus it is said: "The Lord commandeth his grace in the daytime, and in the night his song with me" (Ps. XLII, 9). The former stand on the right hand, and the latter on the left, the latter hearkening to the song of the day and the former to the song of the night: and the singing they hear is the song of Israel, the holy.' R. Isaac said: 'Those that sing by night listen to the song of Israel by day, as it is written: "The companions hearken to thy voice" (S.S. VIII, 13).' Said R. Simeon: 'The angels of one degree with three divisions sing at night, and in darkness still their songs are heard, as it says, "She riseth while it is yet night, and giveth food to her household, and a portion to her maidens" (Prov. XXXI, 15).' R. Eleazar continued: 'On the first day ten things were created, and of these ten some belong to the day and its ways, and some to the night and the ways of the night. It is also known and believed that those angels who sing by night are the leaders of all other singers; and when on earth we living terrestrial creatures raise up our hearts in song, then those supernal beings gain an accession of knowledge, wisdom and understanding, so that they are enabled to perceive matters which even they had never before comprehended.' Said R. Nehemiah: 'Blessed is he who is worthy to perceive such singing, for, as we know and have been taught, he who is deemed worthy to comprehend this song becomes adept in doctrine and obtains wit to discern what has been and what will be. Solomon was found worthy of such knowledge, for thus taught R. Simeon: "David, peace be on him, was cognizant of it, and so could compose hymns and songs, many in number, in which he hinted concerning future events. He also became richly endowed with power in the holy spirit, understood matters appertaining to the Torah and to Divine wisdom, and obtained a mastery of the holy tongue. Solomon, however, was gifted with a still greater knowledge of that song: he penetrated into the essence of wisdom, and so he wrote many proverbs and made a book of the song itself. This is the meaning of his words, "I gat me men singers (sharim) and women singers" (Eccl. II, 8); that is to say, he acquired the knowledge of the hymn sung by heavenly and terrestrial beings. And on account of this he called his book "The Song of Songs": the song of the supernal songs, the song containing all mysteries of the Torah and of Divine wisdom; the song wherein is power to penetrate into things that were and things that will be; the song sung by the supernal princes (sharim = sarim).'

Said R. Eleazar: 'Those heavenly princes stood in expectation until Levi was born; as soon as he was born they began to sing; as soon as Moses was born and Aaron was anointed high priest and the Levites were sanctified, the singing was perfected and the singers remained at their service.' He also said: 'At the hour when Levi was born, the heavenly choir began to sing: "O that thou wert as my brother that sucked the breast of my mother! [19a] Should I find thee without, indeed I would kiss thee, and they would not despise me" (S.S. VIII, 1). When the singers here below issued from the tribe of Levi and all of them were sanctified and entered into their service, and the two choirs, the heavenly and the earthly, were both hallowed, and sang in harmony so that the worlds were in unison and one King dwelt above them, then came Solomon and made a book of the hymning of the singers, wherein is enclosed heavenly wisdom.'

Said R. Judah: 'Why are the singers here below called Levites? Because they are joined closely (lava = to be joined to) to and united with (the singers) above in absolute unison. He who hears their singing, his soul is also joined closely to the upper world. Therefore Leah said (at the birth of Levi): "Now this time my husband will be joined unto me" (Gen. XXIX, 34.).' Said R. Tanhum: 'The seed of Levi is always joined to the Shekinah: in Moses, Aaron, Miriam, and in all his descendants. Observe that when the supernal singers desired to minister, they could not actually perform their function before the brothers Moses and Aaron and their sister Miriam were born.

'We have a tradition that when Levi was born, the Holy One, blessed be He, took him and chose him from among all his brethren, and settled him in the land. He then begat Kehat, who begat Amram, who begat Aaron and Miriam. Amram separated himself from his wife and then took her again. At that hour the heavenly singers began to chant, but the Holy One, blessed be He, rebuked them, and the chanting ceased, until He stretched out the line of His right hand (the attribute of Grace) towards Amram. Why was he called Amram? Because a people, higher than all the high ones ('am ram = high people), descended from him. And yet his name is not expressly mentioned (in connection with the birth of Moses). Why so? Because he secretly went away from his wife and secretly returned, so that no one should notice him. Wherefore it is written: "And there went a man"; it does not say "Amram". Likewise does it say: "And took to wife a daughter of Levi"; she also returned secretly, wherefore her name is not mentioned.'


AND THERE WENT A MAN. R. Abahu said: 'This was Gabriel, who is called "man" in the verse, "And the man Gabriel" (Dan. IX, 21), and it was he who went and brought her (Amram's wife) back to him.' Said R. Judah: 'It was Amram himself, only his name is not mentioned because this going to rejoin his wife was not his own idea but was inspired from above.'

R. Isaac said: 'In regard to the birth of Aaron and Miriam it does not say anything concerning their parents' espousal, but in connection with the birth of Moses it says: "And took to wife a daughter of Levi", which shows that the Shekinah is called after Levi, and Amram was not worthy to beget Moses until he obtained a portion in the Shekinah, and then he begat Moses. Hence it is written: "And she saw him that he was good" (Ex. II, 2).' R. Eleazar said: 'Amram was blessed with a son who was found worthy to be addressed by the great Voice, as it is written, "And God answered him by a voice" (Ex. XIX, 19); and Amram himself had the privilege of being addressed by "the daughter of a voice" (bat kol, an echo of prophecy); "he took the daughter of Levi", that is to say, "the daughter of a voice". Therefore it is written, "and there went", meaning, he advanced from degree to degree until he reached this stage.'

We have been taught that when Moses was born the Holy One, blessed be He, attached His Name to him: it says of the child Moses, "he was good", and it says of God, "The Lord is good to all" (Ps. CXLV, 9) and "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Ibid. XXIV, 9)'


AND IT CAME TO PASS IN THE COURSE OF THOSE MANY DAYS, ETC. (Ex. II, 23). R. Joshua of Saknin said: 'It was the end of their exile when their bondage was most severe. As soon as the appointed time of delivery came, "the king of Egypt died": i.e. the angelic Chieftain of Egypt was degraded from his high estate. As soon as he fell, the Holy One, blessed be He, remembered Israel and heard their prayer,' Said R. Judah: 'The proof of this is that immediately after the words "The king of Egypt died" the text continues "and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God", which shows that until then their crying had not been answered.' R. Eleazar said: 'Observe the loving-kindness of the Holy One, blessed be He. When He has pity on Israel He suppresses the attribute of Justice and thus lets her obtain mercy. This is the meaning of the saying (T.B. Ber. 59a): "The holy One, blessed be He, lets drop two tears into the Ocean". What are the two tears?' R. Jose said: 'This saying is not [19b] authentic, for R. Kattina, when he heard it from a certain sorcerer, said to him "You are a liar".' Said R. Eleazar: 'There is no need for us to accept the words of a sorcerer, we have a definite statement that in the ten crowns of the King there are two tears of the Holy One, blessed be He, namely two measures of chastisement, which comes from both of these tears, as it says: "These two (desolation and destruction) have happened unto thee" (Isa. LI, 19). And when the Holy One remembers His children, He drops them into the great Sea, which is the Sea of Wisdom, in order to sweeten them, and He turns the attribute of Justice into the attribute of Mercy, and takes compassion on Israel.' Said R. Judah: 'We read later, "And behold the Egyptian marched after them" (Ex. XIV, 10). These words are referred by R. Jose to the angelic prince of Egypt; how, then, can you say that the "king of Egypt" here refers to this same prince?' Said R. Isaac: 'The later Scriptural saying, in fact, confirms the former, for it does not say "the king of Egypt marched after them", but "the Egyptian", because he was not king any longer, having fallen from his former dignity.'

R. Jose said: 'It is written: "Behold a day cometh to the Lord" (Zech. XIV, 1); and again, "But the day shall be one and it shall be known to the Lord" (Ibid. V, 7). Are we to suppose from this that the other days are not the Lord's? It is, however, as R. Abba has said: all the other days are given over to the angelic principalities of the nations, but there is one day which will be the day of the Holy One, blessed be He, in which He will judge the heathen nations, and when their principalities shall fall from their high estate. Of that day it is written: "And the Lord alone shall be exalted on that day" (Isa. II, 11).' R. Abba said: 'It is written: "for my sword is bathed in heaven" (Isa. XXXIV, 5), which refers to the Lord's judgement on the supernal princes, the "sword" being a symbol of judgement.' R. Abba further said: 'The sword is identical with the execution of judgement, as it is written, "and he saw the angel of the Lord standing between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand" (I Chron. XXI, 16). Now, can we imagine a drawn sword literally having been in the hand of the angel? But what it means is that he possessed the authorization to execute judgement.' Said R. Isaac: 'What do you make of the remark of R. Joshua, son of Levi, that "the angel of death once said to me: Were it not that I have regard for the dignity of mankind I would cut their throats as is done to an animal"?' R. Abba replied: 'This only means that he has authorization to execute judgement; and the same is meant by the phrase, "with his sword drawn in his hand" (Jos. V, 13).' 'If that be so, what is the meaning of "and he put his sword back into the sheath thereof" (I Chron. XXI, 27)?' Said R. Abba: 'It signifies that the power delegated to him was restored to its rightful possessor, to Him to whom authority belongs.'


AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL SIGHED. The sighing was in heaven for their sake. The "children of Israel" here are the supernal ones, namely those who carry on the divine service above.'

R. Isaac asked: 'When the Holy One, blessed be He, judges the family above (the angelic principalities), in what does the judgement consist?' R. Eleazar answered: 'He makes them pass through the fiery stream, and takes away from them their power as representatives of the nations and appoints the principalities representing other nations to rule instead of them.' 'But,' said R. Isaac, 'it says of the angelic world: "His ministers are a flaming fire" (Ps. CIV, 4) (and if so, what punishment is it for them to cross the fiery stream?).' To which R. Eleazar answered: 'There are different qualities of fire.'

R. Isaac said : 'We have to distinguish between the terms "sighing", "imploring", and "crying", all three of which are applied here to the children of Israel.' Said R. Judah: 'In fact they only implored and cried, as the sighing mentioned in the verse refers to the supernal beings.' 'What is the difference between imploring and crying?' Said R. Isaac: 'The former means prayer in actual words (Ps. XXXIX, 13; LXXXVIII, 14; XXX, 3), the latter crying without words.' R. Judah [20a] said: 'Hence crying is more poignant than all other expression of grief, because it is entirely a matter of the heart, as it says, "Their heart cried unto the Lord" (Lam. II, 18). This crying comes nearer to the Holy One, blessed be He, than imploring and praying in words, as it says, "If he (the orphan) cries unto me, I will surely hear his cry" (Ex. XXII, 20).' R. Berechiah said: 'When the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Samuel, "It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king", what did Samuel do? "He cried unto the Lord all night" (I Sam. XV, 11). He put aside everything and betook himself to crying, as this finds readiest access to the Holy One, blessed be He. Thus we read here; "Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me" (Ex. III, 9). When one prays and weeps and cries so intensely that he is unable to find words to express his sorrow, his prayer is prayer in the truest sense, for it is in the heart, and shall never return unto him void.' Said R. Judah: 'Great is such crying in that it can effect a change in the divine sentence of judgement.' R. Isaac said: 'Great is such crying in that it dominates the supernal attribute of Justice.' Said R. Jose: 'Great is such crying in that it dominates both this world and the world to come, and makes man the heir of both, as it says, "They cried unto the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them out of their distresses" (Ps. CVII, 13).'


NOW MOSES KEPT THE FLOCK OF JETHRO HIS FATHER-IN-LAW, THE PRIEST OF MIDIAN. R. Simeon discoursed here on the text: "My beloved is mine and I am his; he among the lilies tendeth his flock." He said: 'Alas for mankind, they neither heed nor know! When God designed to create the universe, His thought compassed all worlds at once, and by means of this thought were they all created, as it says, "In wisdom hast thou made them all" (Ps. CIV, 24). By this thought -- which is His Wisdom -- were this world and the world above created. He stretched forth His right hand and created the world above; He stretched forth His left hand and created this world, as it says, "Mine hand hath laid the foundation of the earth and my right hand hath spanned the heavens; when I call unto them they stand up together" (Isa. XLIX,13). All were created in one moment. And He made this world corresponding to the world above, and everything which is above has its counterpart here below, and everything here below has its counterpart in the sea; and yet all constitute a unity. He created angels in the upper worlds, human beings in this world, and the Leviathan in the sea, "to couple the tent together, that it might be one" (Ex. XXXVI,18). He chose the supernal beings and He chose Israel; He did not call the beings of the upper worlds "sons", but the Israelites He did call sons, as it says: "Sons are ye to the Lord your God" (Deut. XIV, 1). He calls them "sons" and they call Him "father", "For thou art our father" (LXIII, 16). Hence it says: "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine". He chose me and I chose Him also. "He among the lilies tendeth his flock": He feedeth among the lilies, although they are surrounded with thorns. Or again, as the lily is red and its juice is white, so does the Holy One, blessed be He, lead His world from the attribute of Justice to the attribute of Mercy, as it says: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (Isa. I, 18).'

R. Abba was once walking in company with R. Isaac. On the way they saw some lilies, and R. Abba plucked one. R. Jose met them. He said: 'Verily, the Shekinah is present here, for I see something in the hand of R. Abba which signifies that he has some great wisdom to impart, since I know that R. Abba would not have plucked this lily except with the view of teaching some esoteric lesson.' Said R. Abba: 'Sit down, my son, sit down.' They all sat down. R. Abba smelt the lily and said: 'What would the world be without smell? For I perceive that without smell the soul would pine away, and therefore we burn myrtle spices at the conclusion of the Sabbath.'

He then began to expound the verse: "My beloved is mine and I am my beloved's; he among the lilies tendeth his flock." 'What made me to belong to Him and Him to me? The fact that He feeds the world among lilies: as the lily has a sweet odour, is red, and yet turns white when pressed, and its aroma never evaporates, so the Holy One, blessed be He, guides the world. If it were not so, the world would cease to exist because of man's sin. Sin is red, as it says, "Though your sins be as scarlet"; [20b] man puts the sacrificial animal on fire, which is also red; the priest sprinkles the red blood round the altar, but the smoke ascending to heaven is white. Thus the red is turned to white: the attribute of Justice is turned into the attribute of Mercy. Red is indeed the symbol of rigorous justice, and therefore the priests of Baal "cut themselves ... till the blood gushed out upon them" (I Kings XVIII, 28).' R. Isaac said: 'Red (blood) and white (fat) are offered for sacrifice, and the odour ascends from both. The spices of incense are in part red and in part white -- frankincense is white, pure myrrh is red -- and the odour ascends from red and white. Moreover, it is written, "To offer unto me the fat and the blood" (Ezek. XLIV, 15) -- again white and red. Hence as a substitute for this (since the destruction of the Temple) man sacrifices his own fat and blood (by fasting) and so obtains atonement. As the lily, which is red and white, is turned entirely into white by means of fire, so the sacrificial animal is turned entirely into white (smoke) by means of fire. Also at the present time (when there are no sacrifices) when a man offers in his fast his fat and his blood, the sacrifice has to go through fire if it is to be turned into white (bring down mercy), for, said R. Judah, fasting weakens the limbs and causes the body to burn, and just then is the appropriate time to offer up the fat and the blood on that fire; and it is this which is called "an altar of atonement". That is why R. Eleazar, when fasting, used to pray: "It is known to Thee, O my God and God of my fathers, that I have offered unto Thee my fat and my blood, and that I have heated them in the warmth of my body's weakness. May it be Thy will that the breath coming out of my mouth at this hour should be counted unto me as if it were the odour ascending from the sacrifice brought on the altar by fire, and grant me favour." Therefore prayer was instituted to take the place of sacrifices, provided that it is offered with this sacrificial intention.'

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

Another explanation is that God governs the world for the space of six (the lily, shoshana, has six, shesh, leaves) years (millenniums), and the seventh is the (Messianic) Sabbath of the Lord.


AND MOSES TENDED THE FLOCK OF JETHRO HIS FATHER-IN-LAW, THE PRIEST OF MIDIAN. R. Hiya quoted in this connection the verse: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." 'As the shepherd', he said, 'leads the sheep to a good pasture by the water-springs, and deals with them tenderly, so it is written of the heavenly Shepherd, the Holy One, blessed be He, that "In pastures green He makes me lie, He leads me to the streams which run most pleasantly, my soul doth He restore".' Said R Jose: 'A good shepherd keeps his flock in the open and will not let them stray into private ground, and so God keeps Israel in the straight path and will not let them turn right or left.' R Jose also said: 'If a leader of Israel is a wise shepherd, he willingly takes upon himself the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven and leads his flock in accordance with it; but if he is wise in his own conceit, "there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Prov. XXXVI, 12).' R. Judah said: 'Moses was a wise shepherd and knew how to treat his flock. He was like David, who was "tending the sheep" (I Sam. XVI, 11), and because he was very wise, [21a] and treated his flock with great consideration and care, God made him king over all Israel. Why did Moses tend sheep and not oxen?' R Judah said: 'Israel are called sheep, as it says: "And ye, my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are men" (Ezek. XXXIV, 31), and again, "As the flock of holy things, as the flock of Jerusalem" (Ibid. XXXVI, 38). As the sheep sacrificed on the altar becomes a means of propitiation, enabling the sacrificer to inherit the world to come, so does Israel enable her leader, if he be a good shepherd, to inherit the world to come.

[Beast breathing heavily]
[Growling grows louder]

-- Brotherhood of the Wolf, directed by Christophe Gans

In contrast to the new, growing, Anglo-Saxon race, look, for instance, at the Sephardim, the so-called "Spanish Jews"; here we find how a genuine race can by purity keep itself noble for centuries and tens of centuries, but at the same time how very necessary it is to distinguish between the nobly reared portions of a nation and the rest. In England, Holland and Italy there are still genuine Sephardim but very few, since they can scarcely any longer avoid crossing with the Ashkenazim (the so-called "German Jews"). Thus, for example, the Montefiores of the present generation have all without exception married German Jewesses. But every one who has travelled in the East of Europe, where the genuine Sephardim still as far as possible avoid all intercourse with German Jews, for whom they have an almost comical repugnance, will agree with me when I say that it is only when one sees these men and has intercourse with them that one begins to comprehend the significance of Judaism in the history of the word. This is nobility in the fullest sense of the word, genuine nobility of race! Beautiful figures, noble heads, dignity in speech and bearing. The type is Semitic in the same sense as that of certain noble Syrians and Arabs. That out of the midst of such people Prophets and Psalmists could arise -- that I understood at the first glance, which I honestly confess that I had never succeeded in doing when I gazed, however carefully, on the many hundred young Jews -- "Bochers " -- of the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin. When we study the Sacred Books of the Jews we see further that the conversion of this monopolytheistic people to the ever sublime (though according to our Ideas mechanical and materialistic) conception of a true cosmic monotheism was not the work of the community, but of a mere fraction of the people; indeed this minority had to wage a continuous warfare against the majority, and was compelled to enforce the acceptance of its more exalted view of life by means of the highest Power to which man is heir, the might of personality. As for the rest of the people, unless the Prophets were guilty of gross exaggeration, they convey the impression of a singularly vulgar crowd, devoid of every higher aim, the rich hard and unbelieving, the poor fickle and ever possessed by the longing to throw themselves into the arms of the wretchedest and filthiest idolatry. The course of Jewish history has provided for a peculiar artificial selection of the morally higher section: by banishments, by continual withdrawals to the Diaspora -- a result of the poverty and oppressed condition of the land -- only the most faithful (of the better classes) remained behind, and these abhorred every marriage contract -- even with Jews! -- in which both parties could not show an absolutely pure descent from one of the tribes of Israel and prove their strict orthodoxy beyond all doubt. There remained then no great choice; for the nearest neighbours, the Samaritans, were heterodox, and in the remoter parts of the land, except in the case of the Levites who kept apart, the population was to a large extent much mixed. In this way race was here produced. And when at last the final dispersion of the Jews came, all or almost all of these sole genuine Jews were taken to Spain. The shrewd Romans in fact knew well how to draw distinctions, and so they removed these dangerous fanatics, these proud men, whose very glance made the masses obey, from their Eastern home to the farthest West, while, on the other hand, they did not disturb the Jewish people outside of the narrower Judea more than the Jews of the Diaspora. -- Here, again, we have a most interesting object-lesson on the origin and worth of "race"! For of all the men whom we are wont to characterise as Jews, relatively few are descended from these great genuine Hebrews, they are rather the descendants of the Jews of the Diaspora, Jews who did not take part in the last great struggles; who, indeed, to some extent did not even live through the Maccabean age; these and the poor country people who were left behind in Palestine, and who later in Christian ages were banished or fled, are the ancestors of "our Jews" of to-day. Now whoever wishes to see with his own eyes what noble race is, and what it is not, should send for the poorest of the Sephardim from Salonici or Sarajevo (great wealth is very rare among them, for they are men of stainless honour) and put him side by side with any Ashkenazim financier; then will he perceive the difference between the nobility which race bestows and that conferred by a monarch.

-- The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston Stewart Chamberlain

As the shepherd tends with special care the newly-born lambs and carries them in his bosom, or gently leads them after their mother, and is compassionate with them, so must Israel's shepherd be compassionate and not cruel. Thus Moses said: "Thou sayest unto me, Carry them in thy bosom" (Num. XI, 12). As the good shepherd saves the sheep from wolves and lions, so does the good shepherd of Israel save them from pagan nations, from judgement here below and from judgement above, and prepares them for the life of the world to come. Just such a faithful shepherd was Moses, and the Holy One, blessed be He, foresaw that he would shepherd Israel as he shepherded Jethro's flock, the males as they required, and the females likewise according to their needs. Moreover, Moses "tended the flock of Jethro", not his own sheep, though he must have possessed some, for, as R. Jose remarked, "Jethro was a rich man, and, surely, he must have given to his son-in-law sheep and cattle!" Yet he did not tend his own sheep, for then people might have said, "he treats them so well because they are his own". Although Jethro was a "priest of Midian", that is to say, a pagan, yet because he was kind to Moses, the latter served him well and tended his flock with all due care in good and fat pasture.'


AND HE LED THE FLOCK TO THE BACK OF THE WILDERNESS. Said R. Jose: 'From the time when Moses was born, the holy spirit never left him. He discerned by means of the holy spirit that that desert was sanctified and prepared by God as the place for Israel's acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven (the Sinaitic Law), therefore "He led the flock to the back of the wilderness" -- not to the wilderness, as he did not wish them to tread that spot.'


AND CAME TO THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD, TO HOREB. He came alone, without his flock. Said R. Jose: 'When a magnet becomes aware of a piece of iron, it instinctively leaps towards it. So Moses, as soon as he saw the mountain, was attracted towards it.' R. Abba said: 'Verily, Moses and the mountain were prepared for one another even from the six days of Creation. On that day the mountain moved towards Moses, and seeing that Moses was about to ascend, it stopped, and both man and mountain were filled with joy.' Said R. Jannai: 'How did Moses know it was the mountain of God? Because he saw birds circling round it with outstretched wings, but never flying over it.' R. Isaac said: 'Moses saw birds flying towards him from the direction of the mountain and falling at his feet. This showed him plainly the character of the mountain, so he "led his flock to the back of the wilderness" and went up alone.'


AND THE ANGEL OF THE LORD APPEARED UNTO HIM IN A FLAME OF FIRE OUT OF THE MIDST OF A BUSH. R. Tanhum said: 'It was the moment of the evening offering (minhah), a moment when the attribute of Justice is in the ascendant.' R. Johanan interposed, remarking: 'Is it not written: "By day the Lord will command his mercy" (Ps. XLII, 9), showing that mercy predominates as long as there is daylight?' Said R. Isaac: 'From sunrise until the sun declines westward it is called "day", and the attribute of Mercy is in the ascendant: after that it is called "evening", which is the time for the attribute of Severity. We derive the same lesson from the text: "Between the evenings ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread" (Ex. XVI, 12). "Between the evenings" -- this is the time [21b] of the sway of Severity -- then "ye shall eat flesh", with the result, as the Scripture says, that "while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people" (Num. XI, 33), for between-the-evenings is under the sway of Severity -- "and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread", the morning being identified with Mercy, as Scripture says, "the mercy of God endureth all the day" (Ps. LII, 3), to wit, in the morning, as it says: "And God called the light day", referring to the morning.' R. Tanhum said: 'The one is symbolized by red, the other by white. The between-the-evenings period is red, so it is written, "between the evenings ye shall eat flesh"; whereas the morning hours are white, so it is written, "and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread".' R. Isaac cited the verse: "And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it between the evenings" (Ex. XII, 6), the reason being, he said, that that is the time for the execution of judgement.

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house: 4 and if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 and ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper doorpost of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. 10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD's passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. 13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

-- Exodus 12, 1-13, The Passover (King James Version, 2000)

Dominus nobiscu, dominus nobiscum [The Lord be with you; and also with you.]

-- Brotherhood of the Wolf, directed by Christophe Gans

R. Judah said: 'This we derive from the ordinance concerning the two daily offerings, the one answering to the attribute of Mercy, the other to the attribute of Severity. So Scripture says, "The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning" (Ex. XXIX, 39), where the designation "the one" signifies the special one, to wit, the one answering the attribute of Mercy; whereas the second lamb to be offered up between the evenings is associated with Severity, being analogous to the second day of Creation, of the works of which it is not said "that it was good".' Said R. Tanhum: 'It is for this reason that Isaac instituted the Afternoon-prayer (Minhah), namely, to mitigate the then ruling Severity; whereas Abraham instituted Morning-prayer, corresponding to the attribute of Mercy.' R. Isaac said: 'This idea may be derived from the verse saying: "Woe unto us, for the day declineth, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out!" (Jer. VI, 4), "the day declineth" being an allusion to the attribute of Mercy, and "the shadows of the evening" signifying the attribute of Severity.'

Our teachers have asked: 'Why at the time when Moses went up into Mount Sinai did the theophany take the form of a flaming fire, which is the symbol of Severity?' The answer given by R. Jacob was: 'It was appropriate to the moment, which was one of Severity.' R. Jose said: 'It was symbolic of the events associated with that spot. For of this spot it is written: "and (he) came to the mountain of God, unto Horeb", a place of which it is also written: "Also in Horeb ye made the Lord wroth" (Deut. IX, 8). It is written further: "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a thorn-bush", as a symbol that the wicked are one day to become "as thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire" (Isa. XXXIII, 12).' R. Judah said: 'We learn from here the mercifulness of the Holy One, blessed be He, towards the wicked. Thus it is written, "and, behold, the thorn-bush burned with fire", to wit, to execute judgement against the wicked: yet "the thorn-bush was not consumed", indicating that they will not be utterly exterminated. "Burning in fire" is certainly an allusion to the fire of Gehinnom; but "the thorn-bush was not consumed", to show that even so they will not be destroyed utterly.'

The following is an alternative explanation of these verses: AND THE ANGEL OF THE LORD APPEARED UNTO HIM IN A FLAME OF FIRE. Why in a flame of fire to Moses and not to other prophets? Said R. Judah: 'Moses was not like other prophets: fire had no dominion over him, as it is written: "And Moses drew near unto the thick clouds where God is" (Ex. XX, 21).' Said R. Abba: 'This peculiarity of Moses has to be explained in the light of the higher (esoteric) wisdom. He was "drawn out of the water" (Ex. I, 10) (i.e. the attribute of Hesed or Grace), and he who is drawn out of water has no fear of fire, and we have learnt that "from the place whence Moses was formed no other man was formed".' R. Johanan said: 'Moses was conversant with all ten degrees (of wisdom), as it is written: "He is faithful in all my house" (Num. XII, 7), and not merely "He is the faithful of my house". Blessed is the man to whom his Master testifies thus!' Said R. Dimi: 'But according to R. Joshua ben Levi, the words "no prophet arose in Israel like unto Moses" suggest that among the nations of the world there was one like unto him, namely Balaam.' The other replied: 'Truly, thou art right', and said no more. When R. Simeon appeared, they consulted him and he said: 'Shall resin be mixed with sweet-smelling balsam? (i.e. how can ye compare Balaam with Moses?) It is, however, true that Balaam was the counterpart of Moses. As the works of the one were from above, so were the other's from below. Moses wrought his works by means of the holy Crown of the All-highest King, Balaam by means of the unholy crowns from below. Hence, "The children of Israel slew Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer" (Jos. XIII, 22). And if thou desirest to know more, ask his ass!' R. Jose came and kissed his hand. He said: 'The desire of my heart has been fulfilled. For I see that there is a duality in the universe of upper and lower beings, Right and Left, Love and Justice, Israel and the heathen. Israel uses the upper, holy Crowns; the pagans the lower, unholy ones; Israel draws her life-substance from the Right, the heathen nations from the Left; and thus the superior prophets are separated from the inferior prophets -- the prophets of holiness from the prophets of evil.' Said R. Judah: (22a) 'As Moses excelled all prophets in Israel in respect of the superior, holy prophecy, so Balaam excelled all other pagan prophets and soothsayers in respect of the inferior, unholy prophecy. In any case, Moses was above, Balaam below, and there were numerous stages between them.'

R. Johanan said in the name of R. Isaac: 'Moses was anxious in his mind concerning Israel, lest they should succumb under their burdens, as it says, "He looked on their burdens" (Ex. II, 11). Therefore "the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire ... and he looked and behold, the bush burned ... and the bush was not consumed", to show that although their lives were made bitter with hard bondage, yet, like the bush, they would not be consumed. Blessed are the Israelites for that the Holy One, blessed be He, separated them from all nations and called them "children", as it says: "Children are ye to the Lord your God" (Deut. XIV. 1).'



1. Tifereth.

2. Malkuth.

3. The twelve 'obliquities' of Tifereth.

4. This paragraph belongs to the Tosefta.

5. The above calculation of the Messianic era rests on the supposition that of the seven millenniums of the present aeon, the seventh is to be considered as the Cosmic Sabbath, the sixth as the time of the Messiah, the fifth as the last (Edomitic or Roman) exile. The beginning of this exile is, according to the Zohar, 3828 years after Creation, hence with those 1200 years of exile the fifth millennium is completed. Sixty-six years later i.e. 5066 years after Creation (1306 C.E.), the signs of Redemption begin: 198 years later, i.e. 5264 after Creation (1504 C.E.), follows the "first resurrection", the second 144 years later, i.e. 1648 C.E. In the year 2240 the apocalyptic Sabbath begins. Cf. also Zohar, Gen. 116b, Deut. 249a.

6. i.e. Sefiroth.

7. Malkuth.

8. A play on the word homer, which means both 'slime' and (as a legal term) 'stringency'.

9. Cf. Pirke Aboth, V, 9.

10. Malkuth.

11. Cf. Midrash Rabbah, Cant. 13a.
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Re: The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simo

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:35 am

Part 1 of 2


Ex. VI, 2-IX, 35

AND GOD SPAKE UNTO MOSES, ETC. R. Abba began his reflections on this portion with the verse: Trust the Lord for ever (lit. unto 'Ad), for in JAH YHVH is fashioning of worlds (lit. rock of ages) (Isa. XXVI, 4). 'All mankind', he said, 'should cleave to the Holy One, blessed be He, and put their trust in Him, in order that their strength should be drawn from the sphere called 'Ad [1], which sustains the universe and binds it into an indissoluble whole. This 'Ad (lit. unto) is "the desire of the everlasting hills" (Gen. XLIX, 26), to wit, the two transcendent "Mothers", the year of Jubilee [2] and the year of Remission [3] (cf. Zohar, Gen. 247b); the desire of the former being to crown that sphere with glory, with the outpouring of blessings and wells of sweet water; whilst the longing of the other is to receive from 'Ad these same blessings and illuminations. Therefore it says, "Trust the Lord unto 'Ad" (i.e. contemplate the worlds of emanation only as far as the sphere 'Ad), for beyond that is a hidden region, so transcendent that it passes all understanding, the very source whence the worlds were designed and came into being. Up to this point only is it permissible to contemplate the Godhead, but not beyond, for it is wholly recondite. This is JAH YHVH, from whence all worlds were fashioned,' Said R. Judah: 'We have a direct Scriptural proof for this, for it says, "Ask of the days that are past ... since the day that God created man upon earth, and ask from the one side of the heaven unto the other ... " (Deut. IV, 32). Up to this point man may investigate, but no further.' Another explanation of this verse is as follows: Man must always trust the Holy One, blessed be He. He who trusts Him will never be confounded by the world (Ps. XXV, 2). He who depends entirely on the Holy Name is firmly established in the world, as the world itself is sustained by this Name: by the two letters JH (Jah) "the Lord [22b] designed the worlds", this world and the world to come. This world was created by the attribute of Justice, and is sustained by the same attribute, in order that humanity should base its life on justice and not depart from the way of righteousness.


AND ELOHIM SPAKE UNTO MOSES AND HE SAID TO HIM I AM YHVH. It is written above (V. 22): "And Moses said, Lord (Adonai), wherefore hast thou evil entreated this people?" What prophet could speak with such boldness as this save Moses, who knew that another and superior degree (viz. YHVH) was awaiting him? R. Isaac said: 'Moses, who was "faithful in God's house", addressed Him without fear and trembling, like a steward who has charge over the household.' According to another explanation, the words "And God spake and said unto him, I am YHVH" mean that the manifestation was in both attributes, in Justice and Mercy, both fitly framed and joined together. R. Simeon said that they were manifested not unitedly but successively, as is indicated by the expression, "And Elohim spake ... and said unto him, I am YHVH": stage after stage. Said R. Jose: 'Moses would certainly have been punished for the boldness of his language had he not been "steward of the household" and man of God. He was like a man who had married the king's daughter, and having some contention with her, spoke harshly to her. She was about to answer him, when her father, the king, appeared. Seeing him, she stopped and he took up the word. He said to the husband: "Knowest thou not that I am the king, and the harsh words thou speakest against my daughter, thou speakest as it were against me?" So Moses complained against Adonai (the Shekinah) and was answered by Elohim (the King). AND I APPEARED, ETC. God was here like a king who had an unmarried daughter, and also had a personal friend. When he wanted to say something to the friend, he used to send his daughter to him to speak for him. Then the daughter was married, and on the day of her marriage the king proclaimed: "Call my daughter from now 'the Mistress, the Matrona'," and to her he said: "Until now I was wont to speak through thee to those who desired audience with me, but now I shall speak directly to thy husband, and he will transmit my messages." One day the husband spoke harshly to the princess in the king's presence, and before she could answer him the king took up the word. He said: "Am I not the king, with whom no one dared to speak but through my daughter, and have I not given my daughter to thee, and spoken with thee directly, a privilege not granted to any other?" Similarly God said to Moses: "Before the Shekinah was espoused I appeared to the Patriachs as El Shaddai, and they could not speak directly with Me, only through My Daughter the Shekinah, and thou wast the first one to whom I spoke face to face, and now at the very outset thou darest in My Presence to speak to My Daughter in such a fashion!"

R. Jose interpreted the verse; "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof, the universe, and they that dwell therein; for he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers" (Ps. XXIV, 2-3) in the following way. '"The earth" is the Holy Land of Israel, which is the first to imbibe sustenance and receive blessing from God, the rest of the world then receiving from it; "the seas" refer to [23a] the seven pillars which are the foundation of the earth, and over which rules the Sea of Kinnereth (R. Judah, however, maintained that the latter is filled by the others); "the rivers" are connected with the "river which went out of Eden to water the garden" (Gen. II, 10). It is to be noticed that this Holy Land (the Shekinah) is called "the land of Israel". Why, then, did Jacob, who is Israel, not rule over it like Moses? The reason is -- as already pointed out -- that Jacob became the owner of the "house which is below" and left the "house which is above", though in the twelve tribes and in the seventy branches he made preparation herein for the "house which is above"; Moses, on the other hand, left the "house which is below" and took the "house which is above". The former experienced the Divine manifestation as "El Shaddai", but God did not speak with him in the higher grade designated by YHVH.


AND I APPEARED UNTO ABRAHAM, UNTO ISAAC, AND (v) UNTO JACOB. The letter Vau in connection with Jacob is, according to R. Hiya, symbolic of the superiority of the Divine manifestation to Jacob over that which was vouchsafed to the other two: his is the unifying, harmonizing, grade; and yet he was not worthy to use it as Moses did.


AND I HAVE ALSO ESTABLISHED MY COVENANT WITH THEM, TO GIVE THEM THE LAND OF CANAAN: as a reward for the covenant of circumcision; and only of those who are faithful members of this covenant can it be said that they "possess" the land, which is a heritage of the righteous, as it is written: "Thy people shall be all righteous. they shall possess the land" (Isa. LX, 21). Even Joseph was not called "righteous" before he guarded the sign of the covenant (at the time of temptation).

R. Eleazar once asked R. Simeon his father, in the presence of R. Abba: 'Why is it said here "I appeared", instead of "I spoke to Abraham, etc."?' R. Simeon replied: 'My son, this contains a deep mystery. Observe now. There are colours disclosed and undisclosed, this being a part of the mystery of Faith, but men neither know nor reflect on these matters. The visible colours were not perceived by any human being before the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Therefore it says "and I appeared". And what are these visible colours? Those of El Shaddai, the reflection of higher colours. But these latter are hidden, and Moses alone perceived them. The Patriarchs, however, were not entirely ignorant of them; since they apprehended those undisclosed ones through the visible ones which they already knew. It is written: "And the wise shall be resplendent as the splendour of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness shall be like the stars for ever and ever." The "wise" is he who by the power of his own contemplation attains to the perception of profound mysteries which cannot be expressed in words. The "firmament" is the "firmament of Moses" (his grade of Divine knowledge), which is set at the centre and whose splendour is veiled. This firmament is above that other which is non-resplendent and the colours of which are visible and not so bright as the invisible. There are four lights (i.e. Emanations), three of which are recondite and one disclosed. There is one which sheds light abroad (Hesed); one which shines for itself only (Geburah), being like the heavens in purity; one of purple hue which gathers light into itself (Tifereth); and one which is of itself lightless (Malkuth), but which looks up to the others and reflects them as a lamp reflects the sun. The first three are recondite and brood over the one which is [23b] disclosed. (Of all this the eye is the symbol. In the eye three colours are visible, but none of these shines, because they are non-luminous. They are the parallel of those lights which are revealed; and it was by means of these visible colours that the Patriarchs were enabled to discern the colours which are luminous but invisible -- that is, those colours of which Moses alone had cognizance, which were concealed from all others but revealed to him in that firmament to which he had attained, and which are above the visible colours.) To understand this mystery, close thine eye and press thine eyeball, and thou wilt discern radiating and luminous colours which can only be seen with closed eyes. [4] For this reason we say that Moses was possessed of the "luminous mirror", which is above the "nonluminous", which alone is vouchsafed to others. The Patriarchs, however, were able by means of the revealed colours to conceive of those that were concealed. This is the meaning of the words, "I appeared unto Abraham, etc", namely, in those visible colours, "but by My Name YHVH was I not known to them", namely, in the supernal hidden luminous colours, which only Moses was privileged to behold. The closed eye sees the mirror of light: the open eye sees the mirror which is not luminous. Therefore in regard to the lightless mirror, the term "see" is used, because it is discernible, but in regard to the luminous mirror the term "know" is used, because it is in concealment.' Then came R. Eleazar and R. Abba and kissed R. Simeon's hand, and R. Abba wept and said: 'Alas for the world when thou, master, shalt be removed from it! It will become an orphan without thee; for who will then illumine the words of the Torah?' He then went on to quote David's greeting to Nabal: "Be well (lehai, lit. thus for life!), and peace be to thee, etc." 'Surely,' he said, 'David must have been aware of Nabal's wickedness, and how could he greet him thus? It was, however, New Year's day, the day when the Holy One judges the world, and David's intention in using both expressions, "Thus for life", and "and thou art peace", was to address Him from whom all life and all peace come, in order to make a fitting profession of faith. And greeting a righteous person with Shalom! (peace, harmony) is like greeting the Holy One Himself, especially when addressed to thee, O master, who in thine own person representest the harmony between the above and the below! But it is not allowed to greet thus a wicked person, and yet, if it be unavoidable, there is no insincerity involved in the phrase when outwardly addressed to the person concerned, but inwardly intended for God.'

R. Hezekiah discoursed on the verse: Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile (Ps. XXXII, 2). He said: 'How blind are the children of men who neither see nor perceive what the foundation is of their existence in the world! Behold, when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world, He formed man in His own image, so disposing his capacities as to enable him to study the Torah and walk in His way. Therefore man was created from the dust of the lower Sanctuary; and the four winds of the world united at that place which afterwards was named the House of Holiness, and these four were then joined to the four elements of the lower world: fire, air, earth, and water. And when these winds and these elements were thus mingled, the Holy One, blessed be He, formed one body of wondrous perfection. Therefore it is plain that the substances composing man's body belong to two worlds, namely, the world below and the world above.' Said R. Simeon: 'The first four elements have a deep significance for the faithful: they are the progenitors of all worlds, and symbolize the mystery of the supernal Chariot of Holiness. Also the four elements of fire, air, earth, and water have a deep significance. From them come gold, silver, copper, and iron, and beneath these [24a] other metals of a like kind. Mark well this! Fire, air, earth, and water are the sources and roots of all things above and below, and on them are all things grounded. And in each of the four winds these elements are found -- fire in the North, air in the East, water in the South, earth in the West; and the four elements are united with the four winds -- and all are one. Fire, water, air, and earth: gold, silver, copper, and iron; north, south, east, and west -- these make altogether twelve; yet are they all one. Fire is in the left, at the side of the North, for fire has the energy of warmth, and the power of dryness is strong in it, and the North is just the reverse, and so the two are commingled. Water is in the right, in the side of the South, and the Holy One mixes the warmth and dryness of the South with the coldness and moisture of the water, and they become one as with the previous combination. The North is cold and moist, and its element, fire, hot and dry, and, contrariwise, the South is warm and dry, and its element, water, cold and moist, and so the Holy One mixes them. For water comes from the South, enters into the North, and flows again from the North; and fire comes out from the North, and enters into the South, and it is from the South that powerful heat goes out into the world. For the Holy One makes one borrow from the other as He sees right. In a similar fashion He proceeds with the air and the East. Observe now. Fire from one side, water from the other: there is opposition. Then comes the air (wind, spirit) between them and brings them together and they become one, as it is written: "And the spirit (air) of God brooded over the water" (Gen. I, 2). For fire is aloft and water is on the surface of the earth, and air enters between them, unites both elements and makes peace between them. Earth has water, air, fire, above it and receives from all the three. Observe, further, that the East is warm and moist, and the air is warm and moist. Hence the warm-moist composite can take hold of both sides -- with its warmth the fire, and with its moisture the water, and thus end the conflict between fire and water. The earth is cold and dry, therefore it can receive all the others -- fire, water, and air -- and all can accomplish their work in it. She receives from all of them, therefore through their influence can produce nourishment for the whole world. Now the side of the West, which is cold, unites with the North, which is cold and moist, for cold unites with cold, and from the other side, the dry, West unites with the South, which is warm and dry, and thus the West attaches itself to both sides. In the same fashion the South is united with the East on its warm side, and the East with the North in virtue of its moisture. Thus we find united: South-East, North-East, North-West, South-West, and all are contained in one another in mutual intermingling. In this way the North brings forth gold, which is produced by the side of the fire-power, as it is written, "Gold cometh from the North" (Job. XXXVII, 22). For when fire joins with the earth gold is produced, as it is written: "As for the earth ... it hath lumps of gold" (Ibid. XXXVIII, 5-6). When water is united with earth, the cold with the moist brings forth silver, and so the earth is united with two sides, gold and silver, and situated between them. Air joins to water and also [24b] to fire and produces an amalgam which is "the colour of polished copper" (Ezek. I, 7). As to the earth mentioned above, when it is by itself in its coldness and dryness it brings forth iron; therefore it says: "If the iron be blunt" (Eccl. X, 10). Earth, however, combines with all the other elements, and all work through it according to their several ways. For without earth there is no gold, no silver, no copper. For each element imparts of its character to the other to form a compound, and earth mingles with all, because the two sides, fire and water, are attached to it. Air also joins with it on account of those two, and acts upon it. Now we find that the earth, when united with them, brings forth also secondary products resembling their primary compounds. Thus corresponding to gold it brings forth the green dross which is subordinate to gold and resembles it; corresponding to silver, lead; corresponding to the superior copper, the inferior, tin; corresponding to iron, however, it brings forth only iron, and so it is said: "Iron with iron together" (Prov. XXVII, 17).

'Fire, air, water, and earth are originally all united one with the other, and there is no separation between them. But when the earth-dust began to generate its products were no longer united like the supernal elements, as it says: "From thence it was parted and became into four heads" (Gen. II, 10). In this was separation; for the earthy, when it generated in the power of the three upper elements, brought forth four streams, where precious stones are found. These precious stones are twelve in number, distributed in all the four cardinal directions, and corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel: "And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names" (Ex. XXVIII, 21). Observe that though all these supernal sides of which we spoke are united and bound up one with another, and form the foundation of things above and things below, yet is air (spirit) superior to them all, as it is the substance of all, without which nothing would live, and the soul exists only through the spirit, for if the air were to fail, even for a moment, the soul would not be. This is hinted in the words: "Also when the soul is without knowledge it is not good" (Prov. XIX, 2): soul without spirit "is not good", and cannot exist. Note, further, that those twelve stones correspond to the twelve oxen under the sea of brass which was in the Temple (I Kings VII, 25). Therefore the princes, the heads of the tribes, sacrificed twelve oxen (Num. VII, 3). All this is a deep mystery, and he who comprehends these words comprehends a mystery of the supernal wisdom, in which is the root of all things.'

R. Simeon concluded: 'See now the truth of R. Hezekiah's saying, that when the Holy One created man He took the dust of the lower Sanctuary, but for the making of his soul He chose the dust of the upper Sanctuary. Just as in the formation of man's body from the dust of the lower Sanctuary, three cosmic elements were combined, so in the formation of his soul from the dust of the upper Sanctuary, further elements, to the number of three, were mingled, and so man was completely formed. And this is the significance of the words: "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile."

When does the Lord not impute iniquity? When there is no guile in his spirit. Moses was perfected to a higher degree than were the Patriarchs, since the Holy One spoke to him from a higher grade than to them, and Moses stood within the Palace of the King. Hence it says: "And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of EL SHADDAI, but by My name YHVH was I not known to them"; and so we affirm.'


WHEREFORE SAY UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, I AM THE LORD, AND I WILL BRING YOU OUT FROM UNDER THE BURDENS OF THE EGYPTIANS, ETC. Said R. Judah: 'These words are in the wrong order, and should read, firstly, "I will redeem you", and then "I will bring you out". The reason, however, why bringing out is put first is that God desired to announce to them first the best promise of all.' To which R. Jose remarked: 'But does not the greatest promise of all come last, namely, "I will take you to me for a people and I will be [25a] to you a God" (v. 7)?' R. Judah replied: 'Deliverance from Egypt was the chief concern of the people then, because they despaired of escaping on account of the magical arts with which the Egyptians held fast their prisoners; hence it came first in order in the proclamation, followed by the promise of deliverance from bondage once and for all, as they might have been afraid that the Egyptians would enslave them again. Then came the promise of redemption, namely, that He would not merely free them from Egypt and then leave them to themselves: this was followed by the proclamation that He would make them His people; and finally came the promise that He would bring them into their own land (v. 7).'


[5] AND I WILL TAKE YOU TO ME FOR A PEOPLE AND I WILL BE TO YOU A GOD, AND YE SHALL KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD. This is the first of all commandments, the root of all precepts of the Law: the knowledge of God in a general way, namely that there is a Supernal Ruler, Lord of the universe and of all life, Creator of heaven and earth and all their hosts. But this general knowledge of God must lead on to a particular knowledge of Him. This is the inner meaning of man being "male and female together". When the Israelites were about to come out of Egypt they had no knowledge of the Holy One, blessed be He, and Moses had to teach them the first principle of Divine knowledge. Without this doctrine they would not have believed in all those signs and wonders which they were about to experience. At the end of the forty years in the desert, after having been instructed by Moses in all the commandments, both in those which are directly connected with the Holy Land and in those which are not, he taught them in an individual, particular way, the knowledge of God, as it says: "Know therefore this day and consider it in thine heart that the Lord he is God in heaven above and in the earth beneath; there is none else" (Deut. IV, 39). "That the Lord (YHVH) is God (ELOHIM)", this is the particular aspect of cognition. This particular mode of knowledge is essentially identical with the general concept of God as Creator and Lord. Should the question arise: Is not "the fear of the Lord the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. I, 7, i.e. the first commandment)? the answer would be that the fear of the Lord (which is connected with the commandments) must precede the second, the particular grade of knowledge, although, of course, one has to fear the Lord even before one has an intellectual knowledge of Him in His revelational individual aspects. Thus the ultimate and whole duty of man is to know the Holy One, blessed be He, in a general and in a particular way. The verse, "I am the first, and I am the last" (Isa. XLIV, 7) has a symbolic reference to this twofold mode of knowledge; "I am the first" to the general apprehension of Him, and "I am the last" to the particular, and these two are one. As a result of a proper knowledge of God as Creator and Lord, the two hundred and forty-eight organs of the human body become organs of the two hundred and forty-eight positive commandments of the Law, and man's life becomes something complete and harmonious, and the particular, individual, knowledge of God causes salvation and blessing to enter into every day of the three hundred and sixty-five days of the year (corresponding to the three hundred and sixty-five negative commandments). For as it is above so it is below: as all the supernal "days" are filled with blessing by the (heavenly) Man, so are the days here below filled with blessing through the agency of Man (i.e. the righteous). Blessed are the Israelites in this world through having the commandments of the Torah! The word "Man" is applied to them only, but not to the heathen (Ezek. XXXIV, 31), therefore they must endeavour to keep the commandments with zeal and diligence, that all may become one in the inner meaning of Man. When the Holy One gave Israel the Torah on Mount Sinai, his first word was "Anokhi", I. This "Anokhi" contains many mysteries; here, however, we are concerned with the fact that it is the first of all commandments, the root of all precepts of the Law: "I am the Lord". This is the general axiom. The particular is "thy God". The same is true of "The Lord thy God is a consuming fire" (Deut. IV, 24). [25b]


AND MOSES SPAKE SO UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, BUT THEY HEARKENED NOT UNTO MOSES FOR ANGUISH OF SPIRIT. What is the meaning of "anguish of spirit" (lit. shortness of breath)? R. Judah interpreted the expression literally, "they had no rest from their labours, no time to breathe". But R. Simeon saw a mystical significance in the expression; the "Jubilee" (the world of Binah, the abode of transcendental "Freedom") was as yet not in manifestation to give them spiritual rest, and the later Spirit (Malkuth) was not yet able to exercise its functions, and so there was anguish to this Spirit.


AND MOSES SPAKE BEFORE THE LORD, SAYING: BEHOLD, THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL HAVE NOT HEARKENED UNTO ME, HOW THEN SHALL PHARAOH HEAR ME, WHO AM OF UNCIRCUMCISED LIPS? How did Moses dare say this? Had not the Holy One already promised him, when he said that he was not eloquent, that He "will be with his mouth" (Ex. IV, 10-12)? Or did the Holy One not keep His promise? However, there is here an inner meaning. Moses was then in the grade of "Voice", and the grade of "Utterance" was then in exile. Hence he said: "How shall Pharaoh hear me", seeing that my "utterance" is in bondage to him, I being only "voice", and lacking "utterance". Therefore God joined with him Aaron, who was "utterance" without "voice". When Moses came, the Voice appeared, but it was "a voice without speech". This lasted until Israel approached Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. Then the Voice was united with the Utterance, and the word was spoken, as it says, "and the Lord spake all these words" (Ex. XX, 1). Then Moses was in full possession of the Word, Voice and Word being united. That was the cause of Moses' complaint (V. 23), that he lacked the word save at the time when it broke forth in complaint and "God spake to Moses" (VI, 2). On this occasion the word began to function, but it ceased again, as the time was not yet ripe; hence the verse continues, "and said to him, I am the Lord" (Ibid.). Only at the giving of the Law Moses was, as it were, healed of his impediment, when the Voice and the Utterance were united in him as their organ. Before that event the power which is Utterance guided Israel in the desert, but without expressing itself until they came to Sinai. [26a] R. Judah interpreted in the same sense the verse from the Song of Songs (V, 5-6): "I rose up to open to my beloved, but my beloved hath withdrawn himself and was gone". As long as the Community of Israel is in exile the Voice is withdrawn from her and the Word does not function, as it says, "I am dumb with silence" (Ps. XXXIX, 3); and even when the Word does awaken, "my Beloved hath withdrawn Himself", i.e. it suddenly ceases, as it did at first with Moses.

The Voice went on: "And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob." The "and" (the Vau) symbolizes Jacob's superiority over the others, according to R. Judah. Said R. Jose: 'What of the verse, "I am the God of Abraham and of Isaac" (Gen. XXVIII, 13)?' R. Judah replied: 'When that was said, Jacob was included in Isaac, who was blind at that time, and a blind man is counted dead; for as long as a person is alive, the Holy Name is not joined to his name (i.e. the God of so-and-so), therefore Jacob was included in Isaac and not directly mentioned; but Jacob being now dead, the Holy Name could be connected with him. "By El Shaddai", that is to say, through the "non-luminous mirror", not the "luminous". This, however, does not mean that they were conversant with the "Female" only and no higher grade, for it continues: "And I have also established my Covenant with them", indicating that the Covenant was united with the Female in their perception. He who has the privilege of being a member of the Covenant, inherits the Land, as it says, "I have established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan".' Said R. Simeon: 'It is written, "Be ye afraid of the sword, for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is judgement". The "sword" is the one of which it says, "it shall avenge the covenant"; (Lev. XXVI, 25), it is the punishment awaiting him who nullifies the (sign) of the Covenant and thereby also the union of which it is a symbol. But he who brings the Covenant into its place and so guards it in purity becomes a channel of blessing both to the upper and lower worlds. Hence it says here, "Be ye afraid of the sword", for if this commandment does not awaken the sense of awe in a man, no other commandment will. Observe that as soon as the Israelites bestirred themselves to approach the Holy One and cried before Him, He "remembered His covenant". "Remembering" (Zachor) is always connected with the Covenant and its sign, for it is the awakening of the longing for union in the supernal spheres. Hence "I remembered my Covenant", to connect it with its proper place, and therefore "say unto the children of Israel, I am YHVH" (V. 6.)'


AND THE LORD SPAKE UNTO MOSES AND AARON AND GAVE THEM A CHARGE UNTO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL AND UNTO PHARAOH. According to R. Jose, the charge consisted in this, that they should speak gently to Israel [26b] and respectfully to Pharaoh. Gently to Israel, for, although for the time being they were slaves, yet they were of royal descent. For this reason the section dealing with the names of the heads of the tribal families comes immediately after this verse (vv. 14-25). R. Hiya says that this is to show that they did not change their customs nor intermarry with the natives. But according to R. Hiya, the purpose is to introduce Moses and Aaron and to show that they were worthy to bring forth the people and to act as spokesmen before Pharaoh, for among the heads of the tribal families there were none like them.

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

Postby admin » Mon Oct 26, 2015 12:36 am

Part 2 o f2

AND ELEAZAR, AARON'S SON, TOOK HIM ONE OF THE DAUGHTERS OF PUTIEL TO WIFE; AND SHE BARE HIM PHINEAS: THESE ARE THE HEADS OF THE FATHERS OF THE LEVITES ACCORDING TO THEIR FAMILIES. Why does it say "these are the heads" when the only one mentioned is Phineas? The truth is that because he saved thousands in Israel from the plague (v. Num. XXV, 8), by making atonement for the children of Israel and their chiefs, they are all included in him and he is referred to as "these". This expression also suggests that he in his own person compensated for the loss of the heads of the Levites (Nadab and Abihu, v. Lev. X): they sinned and were burned, but their souls found their abode in Phineas. They separated the sign of the Covenant from its place (by leaving no issue), and he came and united it again, therefore the heritage and spirit of both of them were given to him. All this is suggested already here. In fact, Phineas is mentioned here because at first the Holy One, foreseeing that Aaron's two sons would impair the Covenant, did not desire to join Aaron with Moses in his mission, but then seeing that Phineas would restore the Covenant and repair the mischief caused by them, considered him to be after all worthy, as it is written concerning him: "These are that Aaron" (v. 26), meaning, "it is the same (worthy) Aaron". It is further written: "These are (lit. this is) that Aaron and Moses". The singular number "this" suggests the oneness of the two, the fusion of "wind" (= Moses, who symbolizes the Sephirah, Tifereth) with "water" (= Aaron, Grace); similarly the expression in the following verse (28): "These are (lit. this is) that Moses and Aaron" suggests the fusion of "water" with "wind".'

R. Eleazar and R. Abba once spent a night in an inn in Lydda. R. Eleazar expounded there the verse: "Know therefore this day and consider it in thine heart (lebabeka) that YHVH is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else" (Deut. IV, 39), as follows. 'The use of the form lebaheka instead of libka suggests a plural, "hearts"; and what Moses meant was this: "If thou desirest to know that YHVH and ELOHIM are one within the other and both are one, consider thine own 'hearts', i.e. thy two inclinations, the good and the evil, which are fused one with the other and form a unity".' He also said that sinners impair the supernal world by causing a separation between the "Right" and the "Left". They really cause harm only to themselves, as it is written, "He (Israel) hath corrupted himself (lo) that they are not (lo) his children; it is their blemish" (Deut. XXXII, 5). "Lo" (himself), and "lo" (not), in this verse suggest that they both cause and cause not: they cause, i.e. prevent the descent of blessings from above, as it is written: "and then the Lord's wrath be kindled against you and he shut up the heaven that there be no rain" (Deut. XI, 17); and they cause not, as the heaven keeps the blessings to itself. Thus the sinners' separation of the good inclination from the evil one by consciously cleaving to evil separates, as it were, the divine attribute of Grace from that of Judgement, the Right from the Left. Consider the tribes: Judah [27a] emanated from the Left and clave to the Right, in order to conquer nations and that his hand might be "in the neck of his enemies" (Gen. XLIX, 8). Had he not clung to the Right, he would not have broken down their armies. But does not the Left awaken Judgement? The truth is that when He judges Israel He pushes them away from Him with His "Left Hand" but brings them near to Him with His "Right Hand", but with the Gentiles it is just the opposite, as it is written, "Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power; thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy" (Ex. XV, 6). Therefore Judah, who is of the Left, clave to the Right, and the other tribes of his company (v. Numbers II) also clung to the Right; Issachar, who devoted himself to study of the Torah, which comes from the Right (Deut. XXXIII, 2: "from his right hand went a fiery law for them"), and Zebulun, who supported Issachar in his studies by supplying his material needs (cf. Gen. 241b), also clave to the Right. Therefore Judah effected a double union: north with water, left with right. Reuben, who sinned towards his father, started with the Right, joined the Left and clave to it, therefore all who belonged to his company were of the Left, viz. Simeon, symbolized by an ox (d. Gen. XLIX, 6), of which it says: "The face of an ox on the left" (Ezek. I, 10), and Gad, who represents the left thigh (v. Zohar, Gen. 24Ib). Here the south was fused with fire, right with left. Thus this is the meaning of the words, "Know therefore this day, etc.", to unite the Right with the Left and so to "know that YHVH is ELOHIM". Said R. Abba: 'Most assuredly so! "This Aaron and Moses" -- "this Moses and Aaron"; wind fused with water, water with wind.' R. Abba expounded in a similar way the verse: "Thou shalt love YHVH thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy strength" (Deut. VI, 5). 'The holy unification', he said, 'is intimated here, and an earnest appeal is made to man to declare the unity of the Holy Name with a supreme love; viz. "with all thy heart" (lebabka, as above), i.e. with the right and the left, with the good and the evil inclinations; "and with all thy soul", with the soul of David, which is placed between them; "and with all thy strength", i.e. to unite in mind the two Names (YHVH and ELOHIM) in the transcendental sphere which passes all understanding. This is a perfect unification through the true love of God. Jacob, the unifier of sides (attributes), represents symbolically this love. This is the esoteric significance of the singular pronoun used in connection with Moses and Aaron: the two attributes which they represent are both fused into one, and there is no separation between them.' R. Judah found an example of the same thing in King David, who said of himself: "O, how I love thy Torah! It is my meditation all the day" (Ps. CIX, 97); "At midnight I rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgements" (Ibid. v, 62). David guided his people like a shepherd so that they should not turn from the way of truth. During the day he studied the Law, in order to perfect himself in it, and at night he sang praises to the Holy One, blessed be He, until the morning, which he awakened, as he said: "Awake, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp; I wake up the morning." During the day he sought to administer justice in order to fuse the Left with the Right, and during the night he (sang praises) in order to make night also as it were a part of day. And observe that King David in his time brought all those "living creatures of the field" (Ps. CIV, 11) near the ocean, but as soon as Solomon obtained sway the ocean heaved up in its fulness and watered them. Which of them were the first to be given drink? It has already been stated that it was the huge supernal fishes, regarding which it is written, "and fill the waters in the seas" (Gen. I, 22). Said R. [27b] Eleazar: 'Thirteen springs [6] emerge in the upper world, on the right side, which give rise to thirteen deep streams. Of these streams, whilst some are rising others are falling, and their waters mingle with each other. These thirteen streams, issuing from thirteen springs, branch out besides into a thousand rivers, flowing in all directions, namely, four hundred and ninety-nine and a half to the one side, and four hundred and ninety-nine and a half to the other side, the remaining two half rivers being joined into one and metamorphosed into a Serpent, whose head is red as the rose, and whose scales are solid as iron, and who has fins by means of which he propels himself through all the rivers. When he raises his tail he strikes against all fishes coming in his way so that none of them dare stand in his path. His mouth emits a flaming fire. When he sets out to traverse the rivers, all the fishes fall a-trembling, take flight and precipitate themselves into the great ocean. Once every seventy years he crouches on the one side and once every seventy on the other side; the thousand rivers less one are thus filled with him. So he remains for a time; but when he bestirs himself there issues from him a strip of fire in his scales, which stand out and quiver, and the waters of the rivers become turbid and assume a dark-blue colour, and waves surge in every direction. He then lifts his tail and lashes with it upwards and downwards, so that everything flees before him; until finally a flame of fire is projected from the North and a proclamation goes forth, saying: "Arise, ye old females, [7] be scattered into all the four corners, for, behold, there is awakened the one who is about to put fetters on the jaws of the monster." So Scripture says: "And I will put hooks in thy jaws", etc. (Ezek. XXIX, 4). Then they all scatter, and the monster is seized and pierced through his jaws and thrust into the cavern of the great abyss, so that his power is broken. After that he is brought back to his rivers. This performance is repeated every seventy years in order to prevent him from doing damage to the heavenly regions and their foundations. For this we all give thanks and offer up praise, as it is written: "O come, let us bow down and bend the knee; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker" (Ps. XCV, 6). The superior dragons abide on high, to wit, those that were blessed, as we read: "And God blessed them" (Gen. I, 22). These rule over all the other fishes, of whom it is written, "and fill the waters in the seas" (Ibid.) Concerning this it is written: "How manifold are thy works, O Lord! In wisdom hast thou made them all" (Ps. CIV, 24).' [28a]


SAY UNTO AARON, TAKE THY ROD. Why Aaron's rod, and not that of Moses? Because Moses' rod was more sacred, as in the upper Paradise the Holy Name had been engraved on it, and it was not the desire of the Holy One that it should be defiled by coming into contact with the rods of the Egyptian magicians. There was, however, yet another reason, namely, that all those (impure) powers that come from the Left might be subdued by Aaron, whose grade is that of the Right. R. Hiya asked R. Jose: 'As the Holy One knew that the Egyptian magicians were able to turn their rods into serpents, why did He command Moses and Aaron to perform this sign before Pharaoh? There was nothing wonderful in this to him.' R. Jose replied: 'Pharaoh's dominion originated with the Serpent, and therefore his punishment commenced with the serpent. When the magicians saw it they rejoiced because they knew that they could do the same, but then Aaron's serpent turned into a dry rod again, as it says, "and Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods" (v. 12). Then they were astonished, realizing that there was a superior Power on earth. Thus Aaron showed in fact a double sign, one above and one below: one above, by showing to Pharaoh that there was a higher Serpent which ruled over theirs, and one below by making wood subdue their serpents. Do not think that the magicians' performance was mere make-believe: their rods actually did "become serpents" (Ibid.). It is written: "Behold, I am against thee, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon (tanin) that lies in the midst of his rivers" (Ezek. XXIX, 4). It is from there that the Egyptian magicians derived their power of witchcraft, but the source of their wisdom was the lowest of all grades.' Observe that their wisdom consisted in subjecting the lowest grades to higher grades, the chiefs of their dominion. These in turn derive their power from the Dragon underneath whom they are situated, as is indicated by the phrase, "who is behind the mill " (Ex. XI, 5).

R. Hiya was sitting one day by the gate of Usha when he saw a bird flying behind R. Eleazar. He said to him: 'It looks as if even when you walk in the streets everyone wants to follow you!' R. Eleazar turned his head and saw the bird, and then he said: 'It must have some message for me. The Holy One has many messengers, and not living creatures only, "For the stone crieth out of the wall and the beam out of the timber answereth it" (Hab. II, 11). How careful, therefore, should a man be not to sin before the Holy One, blessed be He, in secret, imagining that no one can testify against him: the stones and stocks of a man's own house shall cry out against him. Aaron's rod was a piece of dry wood, and yet the Holy One used it for His first sign in Egypt, performing through it two miracles: it swallowed up their serpents, and for a time was turned into a living being. Curse [28b] on those who say that the Holy One will not raise the dead, because it seems to them an impossibility! Let those fools who are far from the Torah and from the Holy One think a little. Aaron had in his hand a rod made of dry wood, the Holy One turned it to be a living creature for a short time, with spirit and body; can He not also, then, at the time when He will gladden the world, turn into a new creation those bodies which once had spirits and holy souls in them, who kept the commandments and studied the Law day and night, and which He had hidden for a time in the earth?' Said R. Hiya: 'And what is more, from the words, "Thy dead ones will live" (Isa. XXVI, 19), it is evident that not only will there be a new creation, but that the very bodies which were dead will rise, for one bone in the body remains intact, not decaying in the earth, and on the Resurrection Day the Holy One will soften it and make it like leaven in dough, and it will rise and expand on all sides, and the whole body and all its members will be formed from it, and then the Holy One will put spirit into it.' Said R. Eleazar: 'Assuredly so. And the bone will be softened by the dew, as it says: "Thy dead ones shall live ... for thy dew is the dew of plants" (Ibid.).'


TAKE THY ROD AND STRETCH OUT THY HAND UPON THE WATERS OF EGYPT, UPON THEIR STREAMS, UPON THEIR RIVERS ... THAT THEY MAY BECOME BLOOD. Said R. Judah: 'How was this possible? Could one rod so be stretched over all this extent? Moreover, it says later, "And seven days were fulfilled after the Lord had smitten the river" (v. 25), only mentioning the river, and leaving out the other waters of Egypt upon which Aaron had stretched out his hand. The explanation is that the reference is to the River Nile, for out of this all the other rivers, streams, ponds, and pools are filled, so that Aaron needed but to smite that river and all the other waters were smitten. The proof is that it says, "And the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river" (v. 21).' R. Abba said: 'Observe that the lower waters diverge and spread on every side, but the upper waters draw together and are concentrated in one place, [8] as it says: "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place" (Gen. I, 9); and again, "And the gathering together of the waters called He seas" -- as we have explained. The firmament in which the sun, the moon, the stars, and the plants are suspended is the great meeting place where the upper waters are gathered, and whence the earth, or lower world, is watered. She thereupon scatters and distributes these waters far and wide, in order that all things may be watered by them. When, however, chastisement impends over the world, then the lower world does not imbibe from that upper firmament of sun and moon, but from the "left side", concerning which it says: "The sword of the Lord is full of blood" (Isa. XXXIV, 6). Woe unto them who must drink from this cup! At such times the sea imbibes from both sides and divides itself into two parts, white and red (mercy and justice). Thus it was the lot of Egypt which was cast into the Nile, and the blow was inflicted both above and below. Therefore Israel drank water, but the Egyptians blood. [29a]

'Observe that when the Holy One, blessed be He, prepares to inflict chastisement upon the idolatrous nations, the "Left Side" awakens and changes the whiteness of the moon to blood; then the ponds and the pools below are also filled with blood. So the punishment of the unrighteous is indeed blood. Further, when the doom of blood impends upon a people, it is the blood of slaughter executed by another people whom God brings against them. But against Egypt the Holy One, blessed be He, did not choose to raise up another nation, lest Israel, who dwelt in her midst, might also suffer. Therefore He punished the Egyptians by causing their streams to be changed into blood so that they could not drink from them. And as Egypt's supramundane power was centred in the Nile, the Holy One enforced His will first on that principality, so that -- the Nile being one of their divinities -- their highest power might first of all be humbled. From the lesser idols also blood gushed out, as it is written: "And there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone" (Ibid.).'

R. Hiya arose one night to study the Torah, R. Jose the lesser, who was still a youth, being with him. R. Hiya began by quoting: "Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works" (Eccles. IX, 7). He said: 'What made Solomon say this? Truly, all Solomon's words were uttered in wisdom, and when a man walks in the way of the Holy One, He draws near to him and gives him peace and rest, so that he enjoys his bread and his wine, the Holy One being well pleased with him and his work.' Then said the young man: 'If this is all that the words mean, where is their great wisdom?' R. Hiya replied: 'My son, cook thy meat well [9] and thou wilt understand.' Said the youth: 'Even without cooking [10] I understood the meaning thereof.' Said R. Hiya: 'How so?' He replied: 'I have once heard from my father that in this verse Solomon admonishes man to crown the Community of Israel with joy, which is the "Right Side", represented by bread, and then with wine, which is the "Left Side", in order that she may be firm in faith, since complete and perfect joy is in the union of "Right" and "Left"; and when she is between the two the world is full of blessing, bounty, righteousness, and grace. And all this is accomplished when the Holy One, blessed be He, is satisfied with the works of the children of men.' R. Hiya then went up to him, kissed him, and said: 'Assuredly, I had intended to say this, but purposely left it to thee; [11] and now I perceive that the Holy One desires to crown thee with the Torah.'

R. Hiya then went on to expound the verse: SAY UNTO AARON, TAKE THY ROD, AND STRETCH OUT THY HAND OVER THE WATERS OF EGYPT. 'Why Aaron rather than Moses?' he asked. 'Because the Holy One, blessed be He, said: Aaron represents the principle of water, and the Left Side is eager to draw the waters for himself. It is thus befitting that Aaron, who himself emanates from that side, should stir it up to take possession of the waters, whereby they will turn into blood. Observe that the lowest of the grades was first smitten.' Said R. Simeon: 'The Holy One, blessed be He, began with the lowest grade, smiting each one in succession with every finger of His hand; and when He reached the highest He Himself passed through Egypt and slew all the firstborn of the land, as the firstborn represented the highest and choicest grade of all. Observe, further, that Pharaoh was the ruler of the waters, as it is written of him: "the great dragon that lieth in the midst of his rivers" (Ezek. XXIX, 3). For that reason the turning of his river into blood was the first plague. Then followed the frogs, who with mighty squealings and croakings entered the very entrails of the Egyptians. They emerged from the river on to the dry land, where they raised a noise all around until they fell dead in the interior of the houses. Esoterically speaking, the ten plagues were wrought by the mighty hand of the Almighty, by the hand that overpowered the grades [29b] of the Egyptian divinities, and confused their minds so that they remained helpless. Observe that all their grades, as soon as they emerged into the open to accomplish something that could be seen by all, became powerless to do anything. This was due to the mighty hand which pressed on them.'


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


THEY SHALL COME INTO THY HOUSE AND THY SLEEPING-CHAMBER AND THY BED. The bed here is mentioned only in connection with Pharaoh, not with his servants and people. The reason is this. It is written concerning Sarah: "The princes of Pharaoh saw her and commended her before Pharaoh, and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house" (Gen. XII, 15). The threefold repetition of "Pharaoh" [30a] in this verse corresponds to the three Pharaohs, one in the time of Sarah, one in the time of Joseph, and one whom Moses punished with his rod. The first Pharaoh, seeing that Sarah was a beautiful woman, commanded his artists to make a likeness of her. They painted her picture on one of the walls of his bed-chamber, but he was not satisfied until they made a picture of her on wood, which he took with him to bed. Each successive Pharaoh used similarly to feast his eyes on that picture. For that reason Pharaoh was punished more severely than his subjects; the frogs entering even into his bed. R. Abba said: 'Israel praise God day and night, and in response the Holy One, blessed be He, remembered them in Egypt and brought against Pharaoh creatures that remain still neither day nor night, to wit, the frogs, whose sounds never cease, in punishment for his having made heavy the burden of the holy people, who cease not day or night to chant praises to the Holy One, blessed be He. Through the croakings of the frogs no one in Egypt could converse with his neighbour; through them the very soil became polluted, and babes and young children died from their chatter. Why, it may be asked, were the Egyptians not able to slay them? The explanation is that for every one an Egyptian attempted to kill with a stick or a stone, six came forth out of its belly, running hither and thither, so that people refrained from touching them. Observe that ever so many streams and rivers rise out of the Supernal Sea, which in their courses [30b] divide and subdivide again into many other rivers and streams: and the portion that fell to the side of Egypt were waters swarming with such creatures. For all waters issuing from that sea breed various kinds of fishes, to wit, messengers sent into the world to carry out the will of their Master through the spirit of Wisdom. In regard to this a traditional text tells us that there are waters that breed wise men and other waters that breed foolish men, according to the various rivers that branch off into all sides. Now the Egyptian rivers breed masters of sorcery of various kinds, and of ten degrees, as enumerated in the verse, "one that useth divination, a soothsayer, or a charmer, or one that consulteth a ghost or a familiar spirit, or a necromancer" (Deut. XVIII, 10-11). Here we have ten species of sorcery. And at that time the Holy One, blessed be He, stretched forth His finger and disturbed the brooks and rivers of Egypt so that their fishes of wisdom were confounded: some waters turned into blood, others threw up small fishes of no account upon whom the spirit of sorcery never rested.

Then there came upon them the plague called 'arob (lit. mixture, i.e. mixture of various beasts) which allegorically indicates that the Almighty confounded their magical arts so that their practitioners were not able to piece them together. Moreover, that confusion produced a mingling of a perverse and hybrid kind similar to those referred to in the words of Scripture, "thou shalt not sow thy field with two kinds of seed; neither shall there come upon thee a garment of two kinds of stuff mingled together" (Lev. XIX, 19). Many were then the legions that bestirred themselves above, but the Holy One, blessed be He, confounded them altogether; these mighty deeds which the Almighty performed in Egypt were accomplished by the raising of one of his hands against them, both on high and below. It was then that the wisdom of Egypt perished, as Scripture says: "and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid" (Isa. XXIX, 14). Note further the pronouncement: "And I will confuse Egypt with Egypt" (Ibid. XIX, 2), that is to say, celestial Egypt with terrestrial Egypt. For the celestial legions are in charge of the terrestrial ones, and they both were altogether thrown in disorder. They were confused on high so that the Egyptians could not derive inspiration from the celestial sources as formerly. It was with this object that the Almighty brought on them the 'arob, or mixture and confusion, manifested in a mixed horde of beasts that assailed them; as well as the plague of vermin, engendered from the dust of the earth. Observe that whatever is engendered on earth grows through the stimulus of a celestial Chieftain who has charge over it, and that all on earth is shaped after a celestial pattern. There are on high seven firmaments, and seven zones of earth. Correspondingly, in the lower world there are seven graded firmaments and seven zones of earth. These, as the Companions have expounded, are arranged like the rungs of a ladder, rising one above the other, and each zone has ten divisions, so that there are seventy in all. Each one of these is presided over by a Chieftain, and these seventy Chieftains have under their charge the seventy nations of the earth. These seventy earth-divisions, again, border on and surround the Holy Land, as Scripture says: "Behold, it is the couch of Solomon; threescore mighty men are about, of the mighty men of Israel" (S.S. III, 7), there being, in addition to the threescore mentioned, ten concealed among their number. All these surround the Holy Land. This alludes to the upper world, and the same is reproduced in the lower world. Now at that time the Holy One, blessed be He, stretched forth His finger over the zone that was allotted to the Egyptians, and a fiery flame passed through the whole tract and dried up all the alluvial soil, with the result that the dust of the earth generated vermin. It was Aaron that smote the dust, in order to show that the right hand of the Holy One, blessed be He, breaks His enemies, as we read: "Thy right hand, O Lord, dasheth in pieces the enemy" (Ex. XV, 6). The same punishment is destined to be meted out by the Holy One, blessed be He, to Rome the great Metropolis, as it is written: "And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone" (Isa. XXXIV, 9). Thus "all the dust of the earth became vermin throughout all the land of Egypt".

R. Judah and R. Hiya were once walking together. Said R. Hiya: 'When members of the Fellowship [31a] journey together they must be of one heart and mind, and should sinners or persons who have no place in the King's Palace chance to fall in with them, or to be in their company, they must separate from them. They should take example from Caleb, of whom it is written: "But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully ... " (Num. XIV, 24). "Another spirit" signifies that Caleb separated himself from the other spies and went alone to Hebron in order to prostrate himself at the cave of Machpelah before the graves of the patriarchs; and Hebron was allotted to him as his inheritance, as it is written: "To him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon" (Deut. I, 36). And why was Hebron given to him? There is an esoteric reason for this, the same which also underlies David's connection with Hebron. For we find that when Saul died and David enquired of the Lord, "Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?", the answer was that he should go up into Hebron (2 Sam. II, 1). Now, since Saul was dead and David already the rightful king, why did he not at once proclaim his rule over the whole land? Why was it necessary for him to go to Hebron and there become anointed as king over Judah only for seven years, not being declared monarch over the whole of Israel till after the death of Ish-Bosheth? Truly, the Holy One, blessed be His Name, had a deep purpose in this. The holy kingdom could not be fully established without first attaching itself to the patriarchs in Hebron. When that contact was established the kingdom was firmly erected with support from the world above, whose symbol, in David's case, was "seven years", seven being the number of perfection, because it contains all. So when it is said of the Temple, "And he built it seven years", the same perfection is suggested. Now, David desired to build the perfect kingdom here below as a counterpart of the Kingdom above; but before he could achieve his desire he had to acquire power for the task by attaching himself to the patriarchs for "seven" years. Thus only was he enabled to stablish his kingdom in perfection, in the fashion of the Kingdom of supernal light: a kingdom never to be shaken. And, guided by a similar inspiration, Caleb also went to Hebron.'

R. Jose and R. Hezekiah were once going from Cappadocia to Lydda, and with them was a Jew driving a donkey heavily laden. [31b] On their way they arrived at a field where they noticed a number of animals dead and dying. They said: 'Undoubtedly, a cattle plague has broken out in this place.' The Judean then remarked as follows: 'The slaying of the flocks and herds in Egypt was of three kinds. One was through the murrain, one through the hail, and a third was limited to the firstborn. In regard to the first it is written: "Behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which are in the field." Whereas previously it is written, "it is the finger of God" (Ex. VIII, 15), here it speaks of "the hand of the Lord", to wit, with all its five fingers, for the reason that five species of cattle were smitten, as enumerated in the passage, "upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the herds, and upon the flocks." They were smitten each one by one of the five fingers, and thus together by the hand of the Lord. Hence we read, "a very grievous murrain", signifying that the cattle died of themselves, suddenly and without any visible cause. Afterwards, as the Egyptians did not repent, the DeBeR (murrain) literally turned about its letters and became BaRaD (hail), which killed all those that survived. The difference between the two was that the former killed gently, and the latter with violence and with fury. Both, however, struck the same species, and by means of the five fingers.' [32a]

R. Jose and R. Hiya were walking together. Said R. Jose to R. Hiya: 'Why art thou silent? Without converse on holy matters the walk is not profitable.' R. Hiya burst into tears and said: 'It is written, "Sarai was barren, she had no child" (Gen. XI, 30)' Alas, alas! Alas for the time when Hagar begat Ishmael!' Said R. Jose: 'Why? Did not Sarah afterwards conceive and bear a son of the holy stock ?' R. Hiya answered: 'Thou seest and I see, but one may see more than another. And I have heard something from the mouth of R. Simeon, which makes me weep.' 'What is it?' 'I will tell you. Sarah was long in having a son of her own, and she said to Abraham: "I pray thee, go in unto my maid" (Gen. XVI, 2), and Hagar had a son by Abram, and Abram prayed to God: "O that Ishmael might live before thee!" Now, although the Holy One, blessed be He, promised Abraham that he would beget Isaac, yet Abraham was so attached to Ishmael, that the Holy One had to promise him: "As for Ishmael, I have heard thee: behold, I have blessed him ... and I will make him a great nation" (Ibid. 20). Through his circumcision Ishmael entered into the holy covenant before Isaac was born. Now, for four hundred years the supramundane representative of Ishmael stood before the Holy One, blessed be He, and pleaded thus with him: "He who is circumcised, has he a portion in Thy Name?" "Yes." "But what then of Ishmael? Is he not circumcised? Why then has he no portion in Thy Name, like Isaac?" The Holy One answered: "Isaac was circumcised according to rule, [12] not so Ishmael; moreover the Israelites attach themselves to me from the eighth day of their birth, but the Ishmaelites for a long time are far from me." Said he: "Yet, as Ishmael has been circumcised, he ought to have a reward '" Woe, woe, that Ishmael was born into the world and was circumcised! What did the Holy One do? He banished the children of Ishmael from the heavenly communion and gave them instead a portion here below in the Holy Land, because of their circumcision. And they are destined to rule over the land a long time, so long as it is empty, just as their form of circumcision is empty and imperfect; and they will prevent Israel from returning to their own land until the merit of the children of Ishmael shall have become exhausted. And the sons of Ishmael will fight mighty battles in the world, and the sons of Edom will gather against them, and make war against them, some on land, others on sea, and some close to Jerusalem, and one shall prevail over the other, but the Holy Land will not be delivered to the sons of Edom. Then a nation from the furthest ends of the earth will rise against wicked Rome and fight against her for three months, and many nations will gather there and fall into the hands of that people, until all the sons of Edom will congregate against her from all the ends of the earth. Then the Holy One will rise against them, as it says: "A slaughter of the Lord in Bazrah and a great slaughter in the land of Edom" (Isa. XXXIV, 6). He will "take hold of the ends of the earth that the wicked might be shaken out of it" (Job XXXVIII, 13). He will wipe out the children of Ishmael from the Holy Land, and crush all the powers and principalities of the nations in the supramundane world, and only one power will remain above to rule over the nations of the world, namely the power representing Israel, as it is written: "The Lord is thy shadow at thy right hand" (Ps. CXXI, 5). For the Holy Name is at the Right, and the Torah is at the Right, and therefore all depends on the Right, and likewise the future salvation is at the Right, as it says: "Save with thy right hand" (Ps. LX, 7). Concerning that time it is written: "Then I will turn to the peoples a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve him with one consent" (Haggai III, 9), and on that day "will the Lord be one and his name one" (Zech. XIV, 9). Blessed be the Lord for ever and ever. Amen and amen.'



1. Tifereth.

2. Binah.

3. Malkuth.

4. The colours thus seen are called luminous, because they are not attached to any material background. The idea seems to be that just as these can only be seen when the eye is closed, so the higher emanations can only be grasped when the mind completely abstracts itself from the perceptions of sense.

5. This section is from the True Shepherd (v. Introduction, vol. I, p. xii).

6. These are supposed to symbolize the forces of judgement which issue from the Sefirah Malkuth.

7. Alluding to Lilith, the night-demon, and her female retinue. According to the commentators, there is, besides old Lilith, also young Lilith, who is at the service of Asmodeus.

8. Yesod.

9. Al. "When thou comest to ripeness."

10. Al. "Even before I ripen."

11. Al. "on account of thee", i.e. thinking thee too young.

12. i.e. with the peri'ah, or exposure of the flesh.
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