The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

True Wholeness has Lack

“If the questioner asks: Who can make me believe in Ein Sof, Infinity? Answer: Know that all [which is] visible and grasped by thought is bounded, and that all which is bounded has an end, and that all which has an end is not undifferentiated. If so, that which is boundless is called Ein Sof, Infinity, and It is absolute undifferentiation in per­fect [or: wholly], changeless oneness. Since it is boundless, there is noth­ing outside of It. Since It transcends and conceals Itself, It is the essence of everything hidden and revealed. Since It is concealed, It is the root of faithfulness and the root of rebellion. And of this is said, But the righteous man lives through his faithfulness (Habakkuk 2:4). The probing sages acknowledge that we grasp It only by way of no [see e.g., Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, 1:58]. Emanating from Ein Sof, Infinity, are the ten sefirot.

If the questioner asks: What makes you [say] that there are sefirot? Since I want to say that there is only אֵין סוֹף (Ein Sof), Infinity. Answer: Ein Sof, Infinity, is whole without [any] lack. Now, if you say that It has unlimited power but It does not have limited power [too, then] you mar Its wholeness. And if you say that the first limit found from It was this world lacking in its wholeness you mar the power from It. And since there is no lack to Its wholeness, we must say that It has כֹּחַ בִּגְבוּל מִבְּלִי גְּבוּל (koaḥ bi-gevul mi-beli gevul), limited power which is unlimited. And the first [limit] found from It are the sefirot, for they are [both] a whole power and a lacking power. When they receive from the efflux coming from Its wholeness they are a whole power, and when the efflux is withheld from them they have a lacking power. Thus, they have a power to act in wholeness or in lack, and wholeness and lack divide between one thing and another thing.

Now, if you say that It alone intended the creation of Its world without the sefirot, the answer to this is that an intention shows a lack [in] the intender. And if you say that It did not intend Its creation, the answer to this is if so was Creation [mere] happenstance? And any thing which comes from happenstance has no order. Yet we see that they are created, [and] there is order to them [that is]: the sun during the day and the moon and stars at night. They exist by an order, by an order they are nullified, and by an order they are renewed [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 51]. Now, this order by which they exist and are nullified is called sefirot—the power of all that exists within the bounds of that which can be quantified. Accordingly, the existence of those created by means of the sefirot, differ, this from that. Some are higher, lower, or in between, though they are all [derived] from one root. All is from Ein Sof, Infinity, nothing is outside of It….

If the questioner persists: After I have been told by way of intellect these things are known and clarified. [Still] you [must show] proof from Scripture [since divine revelation is greater than human reason], or from the words of our Rabbis, of blessed memory [since the oral tradition is part of divine revelation]. Answer: Let me answer you concerning the first question which you asked, ‘Who can make me believe in Ein Sof?’ Know that Ein Sof cannot be conceived, all the more so cannot be spoken of, though It is intimated in every thing, for there is nothing outside of It. No letter, no name, no writing, no thing can confine It. And the verse coming to hint that there is nothing outside of It—[only] grasping by way of a hint—is [that] such as, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1), and such as, [He had ceased from all His task] that He had created to do (ibid. 2:3). Now, the witness testifying that nothing is outside of It is the four lettered Name: אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה (eheyeh asher eheyeh), I-Will-Be-Who-I-Will-Be (Exodus 3:14)” (Rabbi Azriel of Gerona, Sha’ar ha-Shoel). 

How have You Loved Us?

“And I shall abide in the midst of the Israelites and I shall be God to them. And they shall know that I am YHWH their God who brought them out from the land of Egypt for Me to abide in their midst. I am YHWH their God” (Exodus 29:45–46).

“For you are a holy people to YHWH your God. You YHWH has chosen to become for Him a treasured people among all the peoples that are on the face of the earth. Not because you are more numerous than all the peoples did YHWH desire you and choose you, for you are the fewest of all the peoples. But because of אַהֲבַת יְהוָה אֶתְכֶם (ahavat Adonai etkhem), YHWH’s love for you, and because of His keeping the vow that He swore to your fathers He has brought you out with a strong hand and ransomed you from the house of slaves, from the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And you shall know that YHWH your God, He is God, the steadfast god keeping the covenant and the faith for those who love Him and keeping His commands to the thousandth generation, but He pays back those who hate Him to their face to make them perish. He will not delay—him who hates Him to his face He will pay back. And you shall keep what is commanded and the statutes and the laws that I charge you today to do” (Deuteronomy 7:6–11).

“Only your fathers did YHWH desire to אַהֲבָה (ahavah), love, them, and He chose their seed after them, chose you from all the peoples as on this day. And you shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart, nor shall you show a stiff neck anymore. For YHWH your God, He is the God of gods and the Master of masters, the great and mighty and fearsome God who shows no favor and takes no bribe, doing justice for orphan and widow and loving the sojourner to give him bread and cloak” (ibid. 10:15–18).

“And Balaam said to God: ‘Balak son of Zippor has sent to me: “Look, the people that has come out of Egypt has covered the eye of the land. So, go hex it for me. Perhaps I shall be able to do battle against it and drive it out.”’ And God said to Balaam, ‘You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for it is blessed’” (Numbers 22:10–12).

“But YHWH your God did not want to listen to Balaam, and YHWH your God turned the curse into blessing for you, for YHWH your God אֲהֵבְךָ (ahevekhah), loves you” (Deuteronomy 23:6).

For I am YHWH, your God, Israel’s Holy One, your Rescuer. I have made Egypt your ransom, Nubia and Saba in your stead. As you are precious in My eyes, you are honored, and אֲהַבְתִּיךָ (ahavtikha), I love you. And I put people in your stead and nations instead of your life (Isaiah 43:3–4).

YHWH’s acts of kindness I recall, the praises of YHWH. As for all that YHWH requited us, and the great bounty to the house of Israel whom He requited with His mercy and with His many acts of kindness. And He said, ‘Why, they are My people, children who do not betray,’ and He became their rescuer. In all their distress was He distressed, and the agent of His presence rescued them. In אַהֲבָתוֹ (ahavato), His love, and in His compassion He redeemed them, plucked them up and bore them all the days of yore. But they rebelled and pained His Holy spirit, and He became an enemy to them, He fought against them. But He recalled the days of yore, drawing His people out from the water: Where is He who brought them up from the sea, the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put in their midst His holy spirit? Who led at the right hand of Moses with His glorious arm, split the waters before them to make Him an everlasting name, leading them through the deep; like a horse in the desert they did not stumble. Like cattle in the valley You guided them, YHWH’s spirit guided them. So you led Your people to make You a glorious name. Look from the heavens and see, from Your holy and glorious abode. Where are Your zeal and Your might? Your deep feeling and Your compassion are held back from me. Though Abraham did not know us nor Israel recognize us, You, YHWH, are our Father, our Redeemer of yore is Your name” (Isaiah 63:7–16).

“For the lead player, for the Korahites, a psalm. All peoples, clap hands, shout out to God with a sound of glad song. For YHWH is most high and fearsome, a great king over all the earth. He crushes peoples beneath us and nations beneath our feet. He chooses for us our estate, pride of Jacob whom אָהֵב (ahev), He loves. selah” (Psalms 47:1–5).

“For whom YHWH יֶאֱהַב (ye’ehav), loves, He rebukes, and like a father his son, regards him kindly” (Proverbs 3:12).

“Better open reproof than hidden אַהֲבָה (ahavah), love. The wounds from a friend are faithful but the kisses of a foe are profuse” (ibid. 27:5–6).

“Thus said YHWH: The people, survivors of the sword, have found favor in the wilderness, Israel going to find rest. From afar YHWH appeared to me: With אַהֲבַת עוֹלָם אֲהַבְתִּיךְ (ahavat olam ahavetikh), everlasting love do I love you, therefore did I draw you in kindness. Yet will I rebuild you and you will be built, O Virgin Israel, yet shall you deck yourself with your timbrels and go out in the celebrants’ dance” (Jeremiah 31:2–3).

“And I will betroth you to Me forever, I will betroth you in right and in justice and in kindness and in mercy. And I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you shall know that I am YHWH” (Hosea 2:21–22).

“For Israel was a lad וָאֹהֲבֵהוּ (va-ohavehu), and I loved him, and from Egypt I called to My son. They called to them, yet they went off from them. To the Baalim they sacrificed, and to the idols they burned incense. Yet I taught Ephraim to walk, took him by his arms, but they did not know that I had healed them. With human cords I tugged them, with bonds of אַהֲבָה (ahavah), love, and I became to them like those who lift an infant to their cheeks, and I bent over them and fed them. No! He turned back to the land of Egypt, and Assyria was his king, for they refused to come back to Me. And the sword shall swoop down on his towns and destroy his limbs and devour because of their counsels. And My people cling to rebellion against Me. When they call him on high, he does not rise up. How can I give you over, Ephraim, surrender you, Israel? How can I make you like Admah, set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within me, My compassion altogether is stirred. I will not act in My blazing wrath, I will no more destroy Ephraim. For I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I do not desire to root out” (ibid. 11:1–9).

“I will heal their rebellion, אֹהֲבֵם נְדָבָה (ohavem nedavah), I will love them freely, for My wrath has turned back from them” (ibid. 14:5).

“אָהַבְתִּי (Ahavti), I have loved you, said YHWH, and you said, ‘How have אֲהַבְתָּנוּ (ahavtanu), You loved us?’ Is not Esau Jacob’s brother? said YHWH. וָאֹהַב (Va-ohav), and I loved Jacob, but Esau I hated, and I made his mountains a desolation and his estate—for the desert jackals. Should Edom say, ‘We are beggared, but once more we will build the ruins,’ thus said YHWH of Armies: They shall build but I will destroy, and they shall be called the region of wickedness and the people YHWH cursed for all time. And your own eyes shall see and you shall say, May YHWH be great beyond the region of Israel.’ A son honors his father, and a slave his master, but if I am a father, where is My honor, and if I am a master, where is the fear of Me?” (Malachi 1:2–6).

“He has brought me to the house of wine
and his banner over me is love.
Stay me up with raisin cakes,
cushion me with quinces,
for I am in חוֹלַת אַהֲבָה (ḥolat ahavah), a swoon of love.
His left hand beneath my head,
his right hand embracing me.
I make you swear, O daughters of Jerusalem
by the deer or the gazelles of the field,
that you shall not rouse not stir הָאַהֲבָה (ha-ahavah), love,
until it pleases” (Song of Songs 2:4–7).

“I was asleep but my heart was awake:
Hark! דּוֹדִי (dodi), my lover, knocks.
—Open for me, my sister, my friend,
my dove, my perfect one.
For my head is drenched with dew,
my locks with the drops of the night” (ibid. 5:2).

“How fair you are, how sweet,
O אַהֲבָה (ahavah), Love, among delights!” (ibid. 7:7).

“Set me as a seal on your heart,
as a seal on your arm.
For strong as death is אַהֲבָה (ahavah), love,
fierce as Sheol is jealousy
Its sparks are fiery sparks,
a fearsome flame.
Many waters cannot
put out הָאַהֲבָה (ha-ahavah), love,
nor rivers sweep it away.
Should a man give
all the wealth of his house בָּאַהֲבָה (ba-ahavah), for love,
they would surely scorn him” (ibid. 8:6–7).

“You who dwell in the garden,
friends listen for your voice.
Let me hear it.
—Flee דּוֹדִי (dodi), my lover, and be like a deer
or like a gazelle
on the spice mountains” (ibid. 8:14).

Are Your Days Like a Mortal’s Days, Your Years Like the Years of a Man?

Remember the sabbath day to hallow it. Six days you shall work and you shall do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a sabbath to YHWH your God. You shall do no task…. For six days did YHWH make the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in it, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore did YHWH bless the sabbath day and hallow it (Exodus 20:8–11).

In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a sabbath, a commemoration with horn blast, a sacred convocation…. Yet on the tenth of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement, a sacred convocation it shall be for you, and you shall afflict yourselves and bring forward a fire offering to YHWH. And no task shall you do on this very day, for it is a day of atonement to atone for you before YHWH your God…. An everlasting statute for your generations in all your dwelling places. שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן (Shabbat shabbaton), an absolute sabbath, it is for you… (Leviticus 23:24, 27–28, 31–32).

When you come into the land that I am about to give you, the land shall keep a sabbath to YHWH. Six years you shall sow your fields and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its yield. And in the seventh year there shall be shabbat shabbaton, an absolute sabbath, for the land, a sabbath to YHWH…. And you shall count you seven sabbaths of years, seven years seven times, and the days of the seven sabbaths of years shall come to forty-nine years…. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and call a release in the land to all its inhabitants. A jubilee it shall be for you, and you shall go back each man to his holding and each man to his clan, you shall go back (Leviticus 25:2–4, 8–10).

“The song that the Levites would say in the Temple on the first day: They would say, YHWH’s is the earth and its fullness, the world and the dwellers within it (Psalms 24:1). On the second they would say, Great is YHWH and highly praised in our God’s town, His holy mountain (ibid. 48:2). On the third they would say, God takes His stand in the divine assembly, in the midst of the gods He renders judgment (ibid. 82:1). On the fourth they would say, God of vengeance, O YHWH, God of vengeance, shine forth! (ibid. 94:1). On the fifth they would say, Sing gladly to God our strength, shout out to the God of Jacob (ibid. 81:2). On the sixth they would say, YHWH reigns, in triumph clothed, clothed is YHWH, [in strength He is girded. Yes, the world stands firm, not to be shaken] (ibid. 93:1). On the Sabbath they would say, A psalm, a song for Sabbath day (ibid. 92:1)—a psalm, a song for the time yet to come, for the day that is entirely שַׁבַּת מְנוּחָה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָמִים (shabbat menuḥah le-ḥayyei ha-olamim), a cessation of tranquility for the One who lives eternities [cf. Bahir §180: ‘In His hand is the breath of each living thing (Job 12:10)—He is חֵי הָעוֹלָמִים (ḥei ha-olamim), Vitality of the Worlds. And any expression of בְּרִיאָה (beri’ah), creation, is performed through Him. Of Him is said, He ceased and caught His breath (Exodus 31:17). He is the quality of the Sabbath day, of Him is said, Remember the Sabbath day to hallow it (ibid. 20:8)’]” (M Tamid 7:4; cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 31a).

“This world is [likened] to a mustard seed in a pile. What is the reason? On account of the breath that blows upon it, by this existing. And were the breath to be held [for] a single hour—or if a [single] moment—the world אִתְחֲרִיב (itariv), would be shriveled up [cf. Bahir §5; Naḥmanides, Perush le-Sefer Yetsirah, 1:1, §1]” (Bahir §179).

“Rav Qattina said: Six thousand years is a world, and one [thousand years that are] חַרוּב (ḥaruv), desolate [lit., dried up, parched, shriveled, cf. Job 14:11], as is written, And YHWH alone shall be raised high on that day (Isaiah 2:11) [cf. Zohar 1:176b (SdTs) ad loc.]. Abbaye said: Two [thousand years are] desolate, as is said, He will revive us after two days, on the third day raise us up, that we may live in His presence (Hosea 6:2).

It has been taught like Rav Qattina: Just as the seventh is one מְשַׁמֶטֶת שָׁנָה (meshametet shanah), year of release, in seven years, so is a world: one thousand years out of seven shall be מְשַׁמֵּט (meshammet), fallow, as is written, And YHWH alone shall be raised high on that day, and it is further said, A psalm, a song for Sabbath day (Psalms 92:1)—the day that is entirely a cessation [of tranquility]. It is also said, For a thousand years in Your eyes are like a day gone (Psalms 90:4).

The Tanna debe Eliyyahu taught: Six thousand years is a world: two thousand תֹּהוּ (tohu), chaos; two thousand תּוֹרָה (torah), Law [and order]; two thousand years the days of Messiah…. the blessed Holy One, will renew His world only after seven thousand years” (BT Sanhedrin 97a–b).

“Rabbi Berekhiah said: It is written, And the earth was תֹהוּ (tohu), welter, and waste (Genesis 1:2). Was—what does it mean? Welter, already was” (Bahir §2).

“Rabbi Ḥanin said, ‘… The earth was (Genesis 1:2)—it already had been’” (Bereshit Rabbah 1:15).

These are the begettings of the heavens (Genesis 2:4)—Rabbi Abbahu said, ‘Wherever these are is written, it invalidates the preceding, whereas and these are adds to the preceding. Here [namely, These are the begettings of the heavens], the wording these are invalidates the preceding. What is invalidated? Welter and waste and darkness (ibid. 1:2)” (Bereshit Rabbah 12:3).

And there was evening (Genesis 1:5). Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabbi Shim’on said: It is not written let there be evening, but rather and there was evening: hence we know that an order of time existed before this. Rabbi Abbahu said: The blessed Holy One kept creating worlds and מַחְרִיבָן (maḥerivan), destroying them, until He created these [i.e., heavens and earth]. Then He declared, ‘These please Me, those do not.’ Rabbi Pinḥas said: This is Rabbi Abbahu’s reason: And God saw all that He had done, and, look, it was very good (Genesis 1:31): ‘These please Me, those do not’” (Bereshit Rabbah 3:7, cf. Rabbi Azriel of Gerona, Sha’ar ha-Shoel, 12).

“Rabbi Tanḥuma opened: Everything He has עָשָׂה (asah), done, aptly in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Rabbi Tanḥuma said: The world was created in its time, and the world was not fit to be created earlier. Rabbi Abbahu said: Hence we learn that the blessed Holy One was creating worlds and destroying them, creating worlds and destroying them, until He created these [i.e., the heavens and earth], and then He said: ‘These please Me, those do not.’ Rabbi Pinḥas said: This is Rabbi Abbahu’s reason: And God saw all that He had עָשָׂה (asah), done, and, look, it was very good (Genesis 1:31): ‘These please Me, those do not’ [cf. ZḤ 21c (MhN); Zohar 1:24b–25a (TZ): ‘… it does not mean He destroyed His own makings as people might think’; 3:292b (IZ)]” (Bereshit Rabbah 9:2).

“Rabbi Ḥiyya opened, saying, ‘That which is has already been called by name, and what is to be [… already has been] (Ecclesiastes 3:15, 6:10). That which is has already [been]—corresponding to what we have learned: Before the blessed Holy One created this world, He created worlds and destroyed them, until the blessed Holy One entertained the desire to create this world, and He consulted the Torah. Then He was arrayed in His adornments and adorned with His crowns, and He created the world. All that exists in this world was already in His presence, rising before Him, arranged before Him (Zohar 3:61a–b).

“ש (Shin)—this letter was of four prongs but now she is [only of] three…. The mystery of the root of unity [is] in her… without gain, or change, as is written, I am YHWH, I have not changed (Malachi 3:6)—from [the aspect of] Atsilut, Emanation, unity remains without joining or change in essence. The power of divinity acts, and His unity in Atsilut… [imbues] the shape [of the four-pronged shin with] a power to unite. For with this power the shape is comprised in Atsilut, [the world of] unity, to unite with Torah, commandments, and statutes, [according to] the need of שְׁמִטָּה (shemittah), the sabbatical year. And her Torah’s nature [is] to unite and to mend her way, with upright commandments unique to the need of healing for souls in exile. 

And in the future [the three-pronged shin] will transform and she will be of a square shape, [according] to the need of the shemittah. She came in her splendor with her Torah and statute in the mystery of unity befitting her in Atsilut and the unique order [of] the shemittah—for she already was, but her Torah passed and [there] came the power of the shape with three prongs in her place [cf. TZ 14a–b on Proverbs 30:23; Zohar 3:124b–25b (RM)]. Now, [according to] the need she gives Torah and statute—according to the quality of the way [of the shemittah]. For every matter and outside power come from her side, such as, You shall make you no carved likeness and no image [of what is in the heavens above or what is on the earth below or what is in the waters beneath the earth] (Exodus 20:4)—[this] quality overcomes [idolatry with her Torah of prohibitions], for all [that] is far [from holiness is] from her side…. Thus at the giving of Torah came ‘you shall do’ and ‘you shall not do’ in the 613 commandments….

Therefore, the letter was missing at the giving of Torah and Shekhinah [was] in her place. As with the creation of the world, Ḥesed, Kindness, [was missing from] the structure [of the six lower sefirot] and Shekhinah [was] with them to complete the structure [on justice as the basis of the world, see M Avot 1:18; Avot de-Rabbi Natan B, 43; Bereshit Rabbah 14:1; Shemot Rabbah 30:13; Zohar 1:180b; 2:22b, 122a; 3:30b, 32a; Rabbi Moshe de León, Sefer ha-Rimmon, 291, 345. Cf. Psalms 89:3: The world shall be built on kindness].

Now, in the days of Noah [it was] a time of grace and light—the quality which already came. He was a righteous and blameless man in his generation [which was totally evil and whose sustained existence was only by the grace and kindness of YHWH, see Genesis 6:5–8; cf. BT Sanhedrin 108b; Zohar 1:58a, 61b–62a]. There the letter was whole, enduring in his place…. And now the shape of [shin is of] three prongs [in] the second, harsh, shemittah [cf. Sefer Yetsirah §34: ‘He made ש (shin) king over אֵשׁ (esh), fire’]. In her is the need of the shemittah to remove every carved likeness and image. And all leavened dough comes from her side [cf. JT Berakhot 4:2, 7d]. And from her we will [ultimately] come to unite, to join with commandments of unity, in His emanation, such as tefillin, tsitsit, sukkah, lulav, and the like. For they [are meant] to unite [all] supernals as one. But הָפַךְ (hafakh), He upended [the order]—this [shemittah] is not for joining, nor for unifying the singular Power, holy things [serve] the need of the profane [see BT Pesaḥim 50a; cf. Naḥmanides, Perush le-Sefer Yetsirah, 1:1, §1; Zohar 3:124b–25b (RM)]. For what is forbidden in this is permitted in that [cf. BT Niddah 61b; Midrash Tehillim 146:4]. Since from the power of the shape [of the four-pronged shin] we will understand [how] to join holies through the unity of Atsilut, and overturn forbidden [acts], such as eating of an offering…. The [three-pronged] shape of the letter [ש (shin) is] in [the shape of] a root—the [three] Patriarchs [cf. Bahir  §118]. And the Chariot [too is] in their shape, lacking the Shekhinah. Yet, the Shekhinah is with them, [and they are] with Her as one” (Sefer ha-Temunah 3, 61b–62a, cf. Rabbi Yitsḥaq Luria, Sha‘ar Ma’amarei Rashbi 46b).

“According to the way of Kabbalah: יוֹבֵל (Yovel), jubilee—from the language [of], And by יוּבַל (yuval), a stream, it sends forth its roots, [and it shall not see when the heat wave comes, and its leaves shall be lush, and in a drought year it shall have no care and never cease from yielding fruit] (Jeremiah 17:8) [cf. Zohar 2:83a ad loc]. And it hints that all the generations יוּבְלוּ (yuvelu), will be led [back], to the First Cause, and therefore Jubilee is called דְּרוֹר (deror), Release [or: Freedom] (Leviticus 25:10), since it is Jubilee who sends forth הַדּוֹרוֹת (ha-dorot), the generations, and all those who are created [on Jubilee (Binah) and freedom, see Zohar 1:220b; 3:95b, 101a, 102b, 108a; Rabbi Moshe de León, Sefer ha-Rimmon, 167, 169]. For from there they emanate in בְּרִית עוֹלָם (berit olam), an eternal covenant, as is said, בְּרֵאשִׁית (bereshit), in the beginning, God created (Genesis 1:1) [—בְּרִית אֵשׁ (berit esh), covenant of fire; cf. Jeremiah 33:25: Were it not for My covenant day and night, I would not have established the laws of the heavens and earth]. And Her name, [תְּשׁוּבָה (teshuvah), Return, attests to] their return. And understand this, for every single one of the seven [sefirot] acts [on] seven thousand [years]. And, look, they are forty-nine—when forty-nine [shemittot, sabbatical years] are completed the world will be welter and waste (ibid., 2), and all will be restored to Jubilee, just as [all] emanates from there—understand this. And this is the language of: In this jubilee year you shall go back, each man to his holding (Leviticus 25:13). And the probing sages [i.e., philosophers], say in their language: All was from the First Cause, and all returns to the First Cause.

Now, if you understand the secret of הַשְּׁמִטָּה וְהַיּוֹבֵל (ha-shemittah ve-ha-yovel), the sabbatical year and the jubilee, you will not disregard that which was mentioned of the shemittahyour field… your vineyard… your harvest… your untrimmed vine (ibid., 3–5)—in the second person. For after the shemittah has passed Scripture called שַׁבַּת מְנוּחָה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָמִים (shabbat menuḥah le-ḥayyei ha-olamim), a cessation of tranquility for the One who lives eternities [or: … for the Vitality of the Worlds; cf. M Tamid 7:4], [and these] will be yours as before. Now, look at the emphasis of the verse, A psalm, a song for Sabbath day (Psalms 92:1), hinting to what will be after the sabbath, as is said, The righteous man springs up like the palm tree (ibid., 13). And it is written, May the righteous man flourish in his days—and abundant peace till the moon is no more (ibid. 72:7)—also hinting at: and they were completed (Genesis 2:1), after which is said, and God blessed the seventh day (ibid., 3) in order to make it known what will be after the seventh day, sealed with the word לַעֲשׂוֹת (la-asot), to do (ibid.), as if to say: acts [still left] to do [after the shemittah] and to call the generations from the beginning. And because of this it says of the mitsvah of shemittahyour field… your vineyard… your harvest… your untrimmed vine—[it says] your, while it did not say so of the jubilee, but rather, its aftergrowths… its untrimmed vines (Leviticus 25:11), accordingly, its and not yours.

And I already mentioned this in order [of the Torah portions] at Mishpatim. And from this is said, [In the jubilee year the field shall revert…to Him who has the holding of the land (ibid. 27:24)—it does not say, [to him whoinherits the land [cf. Exodus 23:30]. For the notion of inheritance is that which a man inherits in due time, yet it says, the holding, which is language mainly instructive of first owners, as is written, [If you see the oppression of the poor and the perversion of justice and right in the province, be not amazed at the matter,for he who is high has a higher one watching him, and still higher ones over them (Ecclesiastes 5:7). Now this is clarified” (Rabbenu Baḥya ben Asher on Leviticus 25:10).

“Said the small Yitsḥaq of Akko [circa 5065/1305 C.E.]: I saw [the need] to write a great secret which is fitting to conceal very well: Know that a day of the blessed Holy One is one thousand years of ours, as is said, For a thousand years in Your eyes are like a day (Psalms 90:4) [and: Are Your days like a mortal’s days, Your years like the years of a man? (Job 10:5)]. Now, our year is 365 and a quarter days. If so, a year above is 365,250 years of ours. And two years above are 730,500 years of ours. From now on go out and double, and [then] go out and double [again], until 49,000 years [after which time comes the Great Jubilee]—that each day of the 365,250 above is a thousand years of ours, as is written, [The eyes of human haughtiness are brought down, and men’s righteousness is bowed low,] and YHWH alone shall be raised high on that day (Isaiah 2:11); Who can utter YHWH’s mighty acts, [can make heard all His praise?] (Psalms 106:2). Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom, forever and ever. And all of this is as Scripture said. Surely, its figure—[be it] twice as much, thousands upon thousands of thousands—is not in His eyes reckoned [as even] a moment.

Now, יֹצְרוֹ (yotsro), [the world’s] Fashioner, is צ״ע—צַדִּיק עֶלְיוֹן (tsaddiq elyon), the supernal Righteous One [cf. Proverbs 10:25: The Righteous One is the foundation of the world; JT Berakhot 1:5, 10b. Alt., Now, צִיּוּרוֹ (tsiyyuro), its figure (i.e., the duration of the world) צ״ע—צָרִיךְ עִיּוּן (tsarikh iyyun), requires reflection]. Surely, with אֵין סוֹף (ein sof), Infinity, it is enough for you to say ein sof, without end [and nothing more], if your wish [is] that your soul endure in her palace [i.e., her body]…. Glimpse at Him and you will be like Son of Azzai [who glimpsed and died]: Precious in the eyes of YHWH is the death of His faithful ones (Psalms 116:15) [see BT Ḥagigah 14b ad loc.; cf. Rabbi Yitsḥaq of Akko, Otsar Ḥayyim 161b]—the blessed Holy One has no desire that you kill [yourself] inasmuch as you were not permitted: You have no business with hidden and wondrous matters [see BT Ḥagigah 13a]. Do not inquire [of Ein Sof, Infinity, but rather] eat and you will be revived [cf. Rabbi Avraham Abulafia, Ḥayyei ha-Olam ha-Ba]. That you should know Him and serve Him, You shall be wholehearted with YHWH your God (Deuteronomy 18:13)—knowledge with intention [to serve Him]. Surely, the thought of your mind will be with Him, clinging perpetually, without imaginary fashionings [that are] not whole, [or] complete [cf. Bahir §47 on Deuteronomy 4:15]. For according to your watching over Him, so will be His watching over you [cf. Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed, 3:16–21]…. 

And clear proof concerning the duration of [this] world a great many years, for which the heart will be made weary tallying it, is from what Isaiah the prophet said, peace be upon him, [There shall not be there a tender babe or elder who will not live out his days. For like] a lad he shall die at a hundred, [and who misses a hundred shall be thought accursed] (Isaiah 65:20). Just as we say now of a baby aged three or younger who dies, so will be said in the time yet to come of a man who has lived [only] a hundred years and died, ‘a baby has died.’ For so great will be the human lifespan. And if one of little faith comes to deny this strange notion say to him that it already has been: Methuselah lived thirty [-one] shy of a thousand years [see Genesis 5:27]. For certainly the man who lived a hundred years and died in the days of Methuselah, of him Methuselah [must have] said, ‘A small baby has died.’

And now I will say a thing which requires reflection, and that is that one hundred years of the blessed Holy One are thirty-six times 150,000 years of ours. And since we said that a year above is 365,250 years… go out and tally to one hundred years and to a thousand years and a man need not speculate further. Behold, our eyes see that the duration of the world is very long, to remove from the hearts of those who say its duration is only 49,000 years [of ours], which are seven שְׁמִטּוֹת (shemittot)” (Rabbi Yitsḥaq of Akko, Otsar Ḥayyim 86b–87b).

The Peace of the World by Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag (Ba’al ha-Sullam)

Kindness and truth נִפְגָּשׁוּ (nifggashu)have struck, justice and peace, [each has] נִשְׁקוֹ (nishqo), his weapon (Psalms 85:11, cf. Bereshit Rabbah 8:5–6).

Any matter is evaluated not according to its appearance at a certain moment, but rather by its stage of development 

Any matter in reality, good or bad—even the most harmful in the world—has a right to exist and it is forbidden for it to be destroyed or eradicated from the world [see e.g., Proverbs 16:4; M Avot 4:3]. Rather it is on us only לְתַקְּנוֹ (le-taqqeno), to arrange its [proper place], and bring it over to the good [in psychological terms “to sublimate.” The semantic range of the verbal stem תקן (tqn) is: mending, improvement, correction, perfection, restoration, alignment, preparation, order, arrangement, array, adornment, equipment, enhancement, configuration]. For any contemplation of the Workings of Creation is enough to teach us of the greatness and perfection of its Agent and its Fashioner. And thus, it is on us to understand and be cautious when casting an aspersion on a particular element of Creation, saying it is excess or unnecessary, since this is, perish the thought, slander of its Agent.

Indeed, it is known to all that the Creator, blessed be He, did not complete Creation when He created it [see e.g., Zohar 2:155b]. And thus we see in any corner of reality, in the general and in the particular, that it is subject to fixed laws of gradual development, from a stage of absence until the completion of its growth. For this reason, when we taste a bitter taste in the fruit at the beginning of its growth it is not rejected by us as having found a blemish in the fruit. Since we all know the reason, that the fruit has yet to complete its entire development.

And so it is with any particular element of reality: When a particular element seems bad and harmful to us, look, it is only the self-attestation of that particular element; it is still undergoing the process of its development. Thus, we cannot decide that it is bad and it is unwise to cast an aspersion on it.

The weakness of מִתְקְנֵי עוֹלָם (mitqnei olam), “improvers of the world”

This is the key to understanding the weakness of “improvers of the world” throughout the generations. They looked on man as a machine that does not function properly and is [merely] in need of perfecting, meaning to remove the bad parts and replace them with good ones.

And that is the tendency of all “improvers of the world,” to eradicate any harmful and bad [or: evil] in humanity. And it is true that if the Creator, blessed be He, had not stood up against them, they would certainly have sifted man entirely by now as with a sieve, leaving only the good and useful.

But because the Creator guards meticulously over every particular element in His Creation, allowing none to destroy a single thing under His reign but only to restore it and make it useful and good, all the “improvers” of the aforementioned kind will vanish from the face of the earth before evil impulses [ever] will. Rather, they live on and number the rungs they have yet to climb until they complete their ripening.

At that time, the bad [or: evil] qualities themselves will invert to good qualities, as the Creator, blessed be He, had initially devised them, like the fruit on the tree that sits and waits, counting the days and months until the completion of its ripeness, when its taste and sweetness become apparent to anyone.

I will hasten it—if they are worthy; if not, in its due time

We should know that the aforementioned fixed law of development, which is spread over the whole of reality, is sure to restore all evil to good and useful through the power of the governance of Heaven above, meaning without asking permission of the inhabitants of earth. However, the Creator placed knowledge and authority in the hands of man and allowed him to accept the aforementioned fixed law of development under his own control and governance, and handed over to him the capacity to hasten the process of development as he wishes—totally free and independent of the bonds of time.

It turns out that there are two authorities here which function according to the aforementioned conduct of development: One is the authority of Heaven, which is sure to restore all that is harmful and bad to good and useful, only in its due time, according to its own sluggish way. Then there is the authority of earth. And when the thing under development is a feeling animal, it is found to suffer terrible pain and torment while under the steamroller of development, which levels its way mercilessly.

The authority of the earth, however, is comprised of people who have taken this aforementioned fixed law of development under their own control. They are capable of freeing themselves from the bonds of time entirely. Indeed they greatly accelerate time, completing the ripening and perfection of the matter—the end of its development.

These are the words of our Sages, of blessed memory, on the future redemption and restoration of Israel. They elucidate I, YHWH, in its due time I will hasten it (Isaiah 60:22). “I will hasten it—if they are worthy; if not, in its due time” (BT Sanhedrin 98a) [cf. Zohar 1:116a–118b].

And so if Israel are rewarded and take the fixed law of development that their bad qualities must undergo, inverting them to good, they bring [that development] under their own control. In other words, they set their hearts and minds לְתַקֵּן (le-taqqen), to arrange [a proper place for], all the bad qualities and restore themselves to good. Then, I will hasten it—they will be totally free of the bonds of time. And from now on, this end depends on their own desire, meaning only by the greatness of the deed and the attention of the heart. In this way they are found to hasten the end [i.e., the promised and concealed date for the redemption and restoration of Israel].

But if they are not rewarded with developing their bad qualities under their own control, and leave it under the authority of Heaven, they are still sure to attain the end—their redemption and restoration—since there is absolute surety in the governance of Heaven, which acts according to the fixed law of gradual development, rung by rung, until it restores any evil and harmful to good and useful, like the fruit on a tree. The [promised] end is sure, but in its due time, meaning it is absolutely dependent on time.

According to that fixed law of gradual development, one must undergo many rungs, which tend to come sluggishly, stretching over a very long period of time before one finally reaches the end. And because we are discussing evolving, sensing, living beings, they, too, must suffer great agony and pains in those states of development. This is because the driving force, which exists in order to raise man from a lower rung to a higher rung, is but a pressing force of pain and torment that has accumulated in the lower rung and that can be tolerated no longer. Therefore, we must leave that rung and rise to a higher one. It is as our Sages said, “The blessed Holy One will set up a king over them, whose decrees will be as harsh as Haman’s, whereby Israel will do repentance, and he will restore them back to better [ways]” (BT Sanhedrin 97b) [cf. BT Megillah 14a].

Therefore, the [promised] end is sure to come for Israel by the aforementioned fixed law of gradual development, called in its due time, meaning tied to the bonds of time. And Israel’s sure [and good] end, by taking the development of their qualities under their own control is called, I will hasten it, meaning independent of time.

Good and bad are evaluated by the actions of the individual toward society

Before we delve into תִּקּוּן (tiqqun), the [proper] configuration, of evil in humanity, we must first determine the value of those abstract terms, “good” and “bad” [or: “evil”]. When we define a deed or a quality as “good” or “bad,” we should clarify whom that quality or deed benefits. To understand this, we must know thoroughly the proportional value between the particular and the whole, between the individual and the society which he lives in and nourishes of, both in matter and in spirit.

Reality demonstrates that an isolated individual without a sufficient number of people around him to serve him and help him provide for his needs has no chance of survival. Hence, a person is born to lead a social life from the outset. And each and every individual in society is like a wheel set within several other wheels in a machine [cf. Ezekiel 1:16]. Now this single wheel has no freedom of movement in and of itself, only it continues with the motion of the rest of the wheels in a given direction, enabling the machine to perform its general purpose. And if there is some breakdown of the wheel, the breakdown is not judged with concern to that wheel itself, but according to its function in the entire machine.

Now in our subject, the benefit of each and every person within his society is evaluated not according to his own goodness, but according to his service to the public. And vice-versa, we appreciate the quality of bad [or: evil] of each and every individual only according to the harm one inflicts upon the public in general, and not by one’s value as an individual.

These things are crystal clear both from the perspective of the truth in them, and from the perspective of the good in them. This is because what is found in society is only what is found in the individual. And the good of society is the good of each and every individual: He who harms society takes his share in the harm, and he who benefits society takes his share in the benefit, since individuals are part of the whole, and the whole is not worth more than the sum of its individuals in any way.

Therefore it turns out that society and the individual are one and the same. And the individual is not harmed because of his servitude to society, since the freedom of society and the freedom of the individual are one and the same, too. And as they share the good, they also share the freedom. Thus, good qualities and bad qualities, good deeds and bad deeds are evaluated only according to the benefit of the public.

Of course, the above applies if all individuals perform their duty to the public to the fullest and receive no more than they deserve, and take no more than their fellow’s share. But if a part of society does not behave accordingly, it turns out that not only do they harm society but they are also harmed.

We should discuss no further something that is known by all, and the aforementioned is only to show the drawback, the place which demands תִּקּוּנוֹ (tiqquno), its mending, and that is that each and every individual will understand that his own benefit and the benefit of society are one and the same thing. In that, the world will come to its complete perfection.

The four qualities, Kindness, Truth, Justice, and Peace in the individual and society 

Once we know full well the desired quality of goodness, we should examine the things and the means at our disposal, in order to hasten that delight and happiness. Four qualities are provided for that purpose: Kindness, Truth, Justice, and Peace. Those qualities have been used by all “improvers of the world” thus far. It is more correct to say that it is with those four qualities that human development has advanced thus far through the governance of Heaven, on a gradual path, until it brought humanity to its current state.

It has already been written that it would be better for us to take the fixed law of development under our own hands and governance, for then we will rid ourselves of any torment that the developmental history has in store for us from this day forth. Thus, we should scrutinize and examine those four qualities in order to thoroughly understand what we have been given thus far and by them we will know what aid we should hope to get from them in the future.

Practical difficulties in determining Truth 

When we discuss good qualities, in theory, there is certainly no better quality than the quality of Truth. This is because all the goodness that we have defined above in the relationship between the individual and society is when the individual gives and fully plays his part toward society, and also takes his share from society justly and honestly. All that is but the truth, but the drawback is that in fact, society does not accept this condition whatsoever. Thus, the practical difficulty in the aforementioned truth is proven from itself: there is some drawback and a cause here that makes it unacceptable to society. And we must examine what that drawback is.

When you closely examine the aforementioned truth from the perspective of its practical feasibility, you will necessarily find it vague and complicated, and it is impossible for the human eye to scrutinize it. That is, Truth necessitates us to equalize all the individuals in society, to receive their share according to their labor, no more and no less. And this is the one true basis, which cannot be doubted, for it is certain that anyone who wishes to enjoy the labor of his fellow, his acts are against the aforementioned reason and clear truth.

But how do we think that we can scrutinize that truth in a way that it is acceptable to society? For example, if we evaluate something according to the apparent labor, meaning according to the number of hours, and we force each and everyone to work an equal number of hours, we will still not discover the quality of Truth whatsoever. Moreover, there is an evident lie here for two reasons: The first is the physical aspect and the second is the mental aspect of the worker. That is because by nature, the power to work is not equal with each and every person. One person in the society labors in one hour of work, due to his weakness, much more than his fellow who works two hours or more.

And there is also a psychological matter here, because he who is very lazy by nature exhausts himself in one hour more than his fellow in two hours or more. And according to the perspective of the evident truth, we should not force one part of society to labor more than the other part for the fulfillment of the needs of their lives. In fact, the naturally strong and industrious in society benefit from the labor of others and exploit them maliciously against the quality of Truth, because they labor very little compared to the weak and the lazy in society.

And if we also consider the natural law, Follow the many (Exodus 23:2) [cf. BT Bava Metsi’a 59b], then such a truth that takes the number of hours of apparent work as a basis is totally unfeasible, since the weak and the lazy are always the vast majority in society, and they will not allow the industrious and strong minority to exploit their strength and labor. Thus, you see that the aforementioned basis, which is the labor of the individual on the condition of the evident truth, and with it the majority in the society, is totally unfeasible, since it cannot be examined and evaluated in any way. Thus you find that the quality of Truth has no practical capability to organize the path of the individual and the path of society in an absolute and satisfactory way. Also, it is totally insufficient for organizing life at the end of the perfection of the world.

Furthermore, there are even greater difficulties here because there is no clearer truth than nature itself. And it is natural that each and every individual feels himself in the world of the Creator, as a sole ruler, that all the others were created only to ease and improve his life, without him feeling any obligation whatsoever to give anything in return. And put simply we shall say, that the nature of each and every person is to exploit the lives of all other people of the world for his own benefit. And all that he gives to another is only out of necessity; and even then there is exploitation of others in it, but it is done cunningly, so that his fellow will not notice it and concede willingly.

The reason for it is that the nature of every branch is close to its root. And because man’s soul emanates from the Creator, who is One, singular, and everything is His, so too man, who emanates from Him, feels that all the people of the world should be under his own control and for his own private use. And this is an unbreakable law. The only difference is in people’s choices: One chooses to exploit people by attaining lower desires, and one by attaining government, while the third by attaining respect. Furthermore, if one could do it without much effort, he would agree to exploit the world with all three together—wealth, government and respect. However, he is forced to choose according to his possibilities and capabilities.

This law can be called “the fixed law of singularity in man’s heart.” No person escapes it, and each and every one takes his share in that law: the great according to his size, and the small according to his size. Thus, that fixed law of singularity in the nature of every person is neither condemned nor praised, as it is a natural reality and has a right to exist like all parts of reality. And there is no hope to eradicate it from the world or even blur its form a little, just as there is no hope to eradicate humanity from the face of the earth. Therefore, we will not be lying whatsoever if we said about this law that it is the absolute truth. And since it is undoubtedly so, how can we even try to ease one’s mind by promising him equality with all the people of society? For nothing is further from human nature than that, while one’s sole inclination is to soar higher, above the whole collective.

Thus we have thoroughly clarified that there is no real possibility to bring good and joyful conducts to the life of the individual and the lives of society by following the quality of Truth in a way that it will ease the mind of each and every individual, so that he may entirely agree with it, as it should be at the end of the perfection [of the world].

For lack of the ability to establish the quality of Truth, they tried to establish the noble qualities

Now let us turn to the remaining three qualities: Kindness, Justice, and Peace. It seems that to begin with, they were created only to be used as support for the weak quality of Truth in our world. And here, developmental history began to sluggishly climb the rungs in its progress toward ordering the lives of society.

In theory, everyone willingly agreed and took it upon themselves to not deviate in any way from the truth. Yet, in fact, they conducted themselves totally opposite to the truth. And since then, it has been the fate of truth to always be in the hands of the most deceitful and never in the hands of the weak and the righteous, so they could even be somewhat assisted by the quality of Truth.

When they could not establish the quality of Truth in the life of society, the exploited and the weak increased within society and from here emerged the qualities of Kindness and Justice and enacted their actions in the conduct of society, because the existence of the whole society forced the successful among them to support the weak, so as to not harm the society in general. Therefore, they behaved with them indulgently, meaning with Kindness and Justice.

But it is only natural that under such conditions the weak and the exploited proliferate, until there are enough of them to protest against the successful and start quarrels and fights. And from here emerged the quality of Peace in the world. Thus, all those qualities—Kindness, Justice, and Peace—emerged and were born from the weakness of Truth. This is what caused society to divide into parties. Some adopted the qualities of Kindness and Justice, giving of their own possessions to others, and some adopted the quality of Truth, meaning “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours” (M Avot 5:10).

Put simply, we can divide the two parties into בַּעֲלֵי בִּנְיָן (ba’alei binyan), masters of building, and בַּעֲלֵי חֻרְבָּן (ba’alei ḥurbban), masters of ruin. Masters of building are those who desire binyan, structure, the benefit of society, for which they are often willing to give of their own possessions to others. But those who are naturally inclined to ruin and depravity were more at ease clinging to the quality of Truth, meaning, “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours,” for their own gain, and would never want to give up a thing of their own to others without taking into consideration jeopardizing the well-being of society, for by nature they are masters of ruin.

Hope for peace

Once those conditions brought society a great deal of strife and risked the well-being of society, the “peacemakers” appeared in society. They have assumed control and power and renewed the social life based on new conditions, which they considered true, to suffice for the peaceful existence of society.

Yet, the majority of those peacemakers, which spring up after every dispute, naturally come from among the masters of ruin, meaning from the seekers of truth, by way of “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours.” This is because they are the powerful and courageous ones in society, called “heroes,” for they are always willing to renounce their own lives and the lives of the whole collective, if society disagrees with their view.

But the masters of building in society, who are the men of Kindness and Justice, who care for their own lives and for the life of society, refuse to risk themselves or the public in order to impose their opinion on society. Hence, they are always on the weak side in society, called “faint-hearted” or “cowardly.”

It is hence obvious that the hand of the courageous depraved one will always be on top, and it is natural that the peacemakers will come from among the masters of ruin and not from the masters of building. Thus we see how the hope for peace, which our generation so yearns for, is futile both from the perspective of the subject and the perspective of the predicate.

For the subjects, who are the peace-makers of our time and in any generation, meaning those who have the power to make peace in the world, are forever made of the human substance we call “masters of ruin,” for they are seekers of truth, meaning to establish the world on the quality of “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours.”

It is natural that those people defend their opinions firmly, to the point of risking their own lives and the life of the entire collective. And that is what gives them the power to always prevail over the human substance called, “masters of building,” the seekers of Kindness and Justice, who are willing to give up of their own for the good of others, in order to save the world, because they are the faint-hearted and the coward.

It turns out that seeking truth and the ruin of the world are one and the same, and the desire for Kindness and building the world are one and the same, too. Therefore, we should not hope from the masters of ruin to establish peace. And it is hopeless to hope for peace from the predicate, meaning by the conditions of peace itself. This is so because the proper conditions for the well-being of the individual and the well-being of society, according to the criterion of truth that these peacemakers so desire, have not yet been established. And it is a must that there will always be a large minority in society who are unsatisfied by the conditions offered to them, as we have shown the weakness of the truth above. This minority will therefore always remain a ready and willing fuel for the new quarrelsome people and the new peacemakers that will always follow.

The well-being of a particular society and the well-being of the whole world

Do not be surprised if I mix the well-being of a particular society together with the well-being of the whole world. Indeed, we have really come to such a rung whereby the whole world is thought to be one collective, one society. Which is to say that every individual suckles the marrow of his livelihood and sustenance from all the people of the world, thus he is forced to serve and care for the well-being of the whole world.

We have thus proven that the total subordination of the individual to society is as with a small wheel in a machine. For he takes his life and his happiness from society, and therefore the well-being of society and his own well-being are one and the same, and vice-versa. Therefore, to the degree that an individual is enslaved to himself, he necessarily becomes enslaved to society, as we have already spoken of at length.

And what is the extent of that collective? That is determined by the perimeter of the drawing of the individual from them. For example, in historic times, that perimeter was only the perimeter of one family, meaning the individual needed aid only from his own family members. At that time, he had to be subordinated only to his own family.

In later times, families gathered into towns and counties, and the individual became enslaved to his town. Later, when the towns and counties were joined into states, the individual was supported by all his countrymen for the happiness of his life. Thus, he became enslaved to all the people of the country. Therefore, in our generation, when each person is aided for his happiness by all the countries in the world, it is necessary that to that extent, the individual becomes enslaved to the whole world, like a wheel in a machine.

Therefore, the possibility of making good, happy, and peaceful conducts in one state is inconceivable when it is not so in all the countries in the world, and vice versa. In our time, the countries are all linked in the satisfaction of their needs of life, as individuals were in their families in earlier times. Therefore, we can no longer speak or deal with just conducts that guarantee the well-being of one country or one nation, but only with the well-being of the whole world because the benefit or harm of each and every person in the world depends and is measured by the benefit of all the people of the world.

And although this is, in fact, known and felt, still people of the world have not yet grasped it properly. And why? Because such is the conduct of the development in nature, that the act comes before the understanding, and only actions will prove and press humanity forward.

In practical life, the four qualities contradict one another 

If the aforementioned practical difficulties, which disturb us helpless people on our way, are not enough, we have in addition a further mix-up and great battle of the psychological predispositions, meaning the qualities themselves within each and everyone of us individually, which are unique and contradictory to one another. For the four qualities, Kindness, Truth, Justice, and Peace, which were divided in the nature of people, whether by development or by rearing, are in and of themselves contradictory to one another. If we take, for example, the quality of Kindness in its abstract form, we find that its governance contradicts all other qualities, meaning that by the laws of the rule of Kindness, there is no place for the appearance of the other qualities in our world.

What is the quality of חֶסֶד (ḥesed), Kindness? Our Sages define it, “What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is yours—חָסִיד (ḥasid), devout [or: pious]” (M Avot 5:10). And if all the people of the world were to behave with this quality, it would annul all the glory of the quality of Truth and judgment, because if each and every one were naturally willing to give everything he had to others, and take nothing from another, then the whole interest in lying to one another would disappear. Also, it would be irrelevant to discuss the quality of Truth, since truth and falsehood are relative to one another. If there were no falsehood in the world, there would be no idea of truth. Needless to say, all the other qualities, which came only to strengthen the quality of Truth because of its weakness, would be annulled.

Truth is defined in the words: “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours.” That contradicts the quality of Kindness and cannot tolerate it whatsoever, since in truth it is unjust to labor and strain for another, because besides failing his fellow and accustoming him to exploit others, truth dictates that every person should treasure his own assets for a time of need, so he will not have to be a burden on his fellow man. Moreover, there is not a person without relatives and heirs that, in fact, should come before others, because so nature dictates that he who gives his property to others lies to his relatives and natural heirs by not leaving them anything.

And Peace also contradicts Justice because to make peace in the public, there must be conditions that by content promise the industrious and the clever, which invest their energy and wisdom, to become rich, and those who are negligent and naive, to be poor. Hence, he who is more energetic takes his own share and the share of his negligent fellow and enjoys such a good life that there is not enough left for the negligent and naive to merely provide for their necessary livelihood. Therefore they remain totally bare and impoverished in many ways.

It is certainly unjust to punish the negligent and the naive so harshly for no evil, for what is their offence and what is the crime of those wretched people, if providence did not grant them agility and acumen that they should be punished with torments harsher than death? Therefore, there is no justice whatsoever in the conditions of peace. Peace contradicts Justice and Justice contradicts Peace, because if we arrange the division of property justly, meaning give the negligent and naive a substantial portion of the part that the industrious and the driven have, then these powerful and driven people will certainly not rest until they overthrow the government that enslaves the great, the energetic, and exploits them in favor of the weak. Therefore there is no hope for the peace of society. Thus, Justice contradicts Peace.

The quality of singularity in egoism causes ruin and destruction 

Thus you see how our qualities collide and fight one another; and not only between parties, but within each person, the four qualities dominate him all at once or one at a time and fight within him until it is impossible for common sense to organize them and bring them to complete consent. The truth is that the root of this whole disorder within us is no more than the aforementioned quality of singularity, which exists within each of us, whether more or less.

And although we have clarified that it comes from a sublime reason, that this quality emanates to us directly from the Creator, blessed be He, who is single in the world and the root of all creatures, still, out of the sensation of singularity, when it sits within our narrow egoism, it causes ruin and destruction until it became the source of all the ruin that was and will be in the world.

And indeed, there is not a single person in the world who is free from it, and all the differences are only in the way it is used—for the desires of the heart, for ruling, or for honor—and this is what separates people from one another.

But the equal aspect in all the people of the world is that each of us stands ready to abuse and exploit all the people for his own private benefit with every means possible, without taking into any consideration that he is going to build himself on the ruin of his fellow. And it is inconsequential what allowance each of us gives himself, according to his chosen direction, since the desire is the root of the mind and not the mind the root of desire. In truth, the greater and more outstanding the person, precisely so is his quality of singularity greater and outstanding.

Using the nature of singularity as a subject of evolution in society and in the individual

Now we shall penetrate into the understanding of the direct conditions that will finally be accepted by humanity at the time of the appearance of world peace, and learn how its conditions are good to bring a life of happiness to the individual and to society, and the willingness in humanity to want to finally burden themselves with those special conditions.

Let us return to the matter of singularity in the heart of every person, which stands to swallow the whole wide world for his own pleasure. Its root emanates directly from the singular One to the people, who are His branches. Here there is a question demanding an answer: “How can it be that such a corrupt form would appear in us so as to become the father of all harm and ruin in the world, and how from the source of all building emanates the source of all ruin?” We cannot leave such a question unanswered.

Indeed, there are two sides to the coin of the aforementioned singularity. If we examine it from its upper side, from the side of its parity with the singular One, it works only in the form of giving upon others, for the Creator, blessed be He, is all giving and has nothing of the form of reception, because He lacks nothing and needs to receive nothing from the creatures He has created. Therefore, the singularity that emanates to us from Him must also act only in forms of giving to others, and to receive nothing for ourselves.

On the other side of that coin, meaning how it actually works in us, we find that it acts in the totally opposite direction, because it acts only in forms of receiving for one’s self, such as the desire to be the only great and rich man in the whole world. Thus, the above two sides are as far apart from one another as the east from the west.

That gives us the solution to our question: “How is it possible that within the same singularity, which emanates to us from He who is singular in the world, who is the source of all building, serves in us as the source of all ruin?” This has come to us because we use that precious tool in the opposite way, which is קַבָּלָה עַצְמִית (qabbalah atsmit), self-reception. And I am not saying that the singularity in us will never act in us in a form of giving, because you cannot deny that amongst us are people whose singularity acts in them in the form of giving upon others, too, such as those who spend all their money for the common good, and those who dedicate all their efforts to the common good, etc.

But those two sides of the coin that I have described speak only of the two points of the development of Creation, which brings everything to completion, beginning in absence, and gradually climbing the rungs of development, one rung to the next, and from there to the higher still, until it comes to the summit, which is its preordained measure of perfection. And there it will remain forever.

The order of development of those two points is, first: the starting point, the lowest rung, which is nearly total absence. It is described as the second side of the coin. Second: the summit, where it rests and exists forever. And that is described in the first side of the coin. But this era that we are in has already developed to a great extent and has already risen many a rung. It has already risen above its lowest rung, which is the aforementioned second side, and has come significantly closer to the first side. Therefore, there are already people among us who use their singularity in forms of giving to others. But they are still few, as we are still in the midst of the path of development. When we come to the highest point of the rungs, we will all be using our singularity only in a form of giving to others, and there will never be any case of any person using it in a form of self-reception.

By those words, we find the opportunity to examine the conditions of life in the future generation [or: the last generation]—the time of world peace, when the whole of humanity attains the rung of the first side and will use their singularity only in the form of giving to others, and not in the form of receiving for one’s self whatsoever. And it is good to copy here the aforementioned form of life so it will serve to us as a lesson and as a role model to settle our minds under the flood of the waves of our lives. Perhaps it is worthwhile and possible in our generation, too, to experiment in resembling this above form of life.

The condition of life in the future generation 

First, everyone must thoroughly understand and explain to his surroundings that the well-being of society, which is the well-being of the state and the well-being of the world, are totally interdependent. As long as the laws of society are not satisfactory to each and every individual in the state, and leave a minority that is unsatisfied with the governance of the state, this minority conspires under the governance of the state and seeks to overthrow it. And if its power is not sufficient to fight the governance of the state face to face, it will want to overthrow it indirectly, such as to incite countries against each other and bring them to war, because it is natural that at war time there will be a lot more unsatisfied people with which they will have hope of achieving the critical mass to overthrow the government and establish a new leadership that is convenient for them. Thus, peace of the individual is a direct cause for peace of the state.

Furthermore, if we take into consideration that that part in the state whose craftsmanship is war, which the state always has, and their every hope of success, such as the scholars of war and those who live by supplying the ammunition, that as far as the social quality is concerned, they are always a very significant minority, and if we add them to the unsatisfied minority from the current rules, at every given moment you have a vast amount of people who crave war and bloodshed.

Thus, peace of the world and peace of the state are interdependent. Hence, we necessarily find that even that part of the state which is currently satisfied with its life, which are the industrious and the clever, still have a lot to be concerned about for the safety of their lives, due to the tensions with those who strive to overthrow them. And if they understood the value of peace, they would be happy to adopt the way of life of the future generation, for A man will give all he has for his own life (Job 2:4).

Pain versus pleasure in self-reception

Thus, when we examine and thoroughly grasp the above plan, we will see that the whole difficulty lies in changing our nature from a desire to receive for ourselves, to a desire to give to others, since those two things deny one another. At first glance, the plan seems a fantasy, as something that is above human nature. But when we delve deeply into it, we will find that the contradiction from receiving for one’s self to giving others is nothing but a psychological matter, because in fact we do give to others without benefiting ourselves. This is so because although self-reception manifests in us in various ways, such as property, possessions for pleasure of the heart, the eye, the pallet, etc., all those are defined by one name, “pleasure.” Thus, the very essence of receiving for one’s self that a person desires is nothing but the desire for pleasure.

And now, imagine that if we were to gather up all the pleasures one feels during his seventy years of life and set them to one side, and gather up all the pain and sorrow one feels set on the other side, if we could see the outcome, we would prefer not to have been born at all. And if this is so, then what does one receive during one’s life? If we assume that one obtains twenty percent pleasure during his lifetime and eighty percent pain, then if we put them one opposite the other, there would still remain sixty percent suffering unrewarded.

However this is all a private calculation, as when one works for one’s self. But with a global calculation, the individual produces more than he takes for his own pleasure and sustenance. Thus, if the direction were to change from self-reception to giving, the individual would enjoy the entire produce he produces with none too much trouble.

ספר זרובבל (Sefer Zerubbavel)

The word which came to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel [of the House of David, last] ruler of Judah. On the twenty-fourth day of the seventh month, YHWH showed me this מַרְאֶה (mar’eh), spectacle, there while I was prostrate in prayer before YHWH my God, experiencing a visionary spectacle which I saw by the river Kebar. And as I was reciting “Blessed are You YHWH who revives the dead,” my heart groaned within me, thinking “[How will] the fashioning of the Temple come into existence?” He answered me from the doors of the heavens and said to me, “Are you Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, ruler of Judah?” I responded, “I am your servant.” He answered me and spoke with me just as a person would speak to their friend. I could hear His voice, but I could not see His appearance. I continued to lie prostrate as before, and I completed my prayer. Then I went to my house.

On the eleventh day of the month Adar He was speaking with me [again] there, and He said to me, “Are you my servant Zerubbabel?” I answered, “I am your servant.” He said to me, “Come to me! Ask [anything] and I will tell you!” I answered and said, “What might I ask? That my appointed lifespan be short and my destiny fulfilled?” He said to me: “I will make you live.” He repeated, “May you live!”

A wind lifted me up between heaven and earth and carried me to the great city Nineveh, city of blood, and I thought “Woe is me, for my attitude has been contentious and [now] my life is at great risk!” So I arose in distress in order to pray and entreat the favor of the name of YHWH God of Israel. I confessed all my transgressions and my offenses, for my attitude had been contentious, and I said: “Ah Lord! I have acted wrongly, I have transgressed, I have offended, for my attitude has been contentious. You are YHWH God, the One who made everything by the command of Your mouth, and with a word from Your lips will revive the dead.” He said to me, “Go to the house of filth near the market,” and I went just as he had commanded me. He said to me, “Turn this way,” and so I turned. He touched me, and then I saw a man, despicable, broken down, and in pain.

That despicable man said to me: “Zerubbabel!? What business do you have here? Who has brought you here?” I answered, saying: “A wind from YHWH lifted me up and carried me to this place.” He said to me: “Do not be afraid, for you have been brought here in order that He might show you.” When I heard his words, I took comfort, and my mind was at rest. I asked him, “My Lord, what is the name of this place?” He said to me, “This is mighty Rome, wherein I am imprisoned” [cf. BT Sanhedrin 98a]. I said to him, “Who then are you? What is your name? What do you seek here? What are you doing in this place?” He said to me, “I am YHWH’s Messiah, son of Hezekiah confined in prison until the time of the End.” When I heard this, I was silent, and I hid my face from him. His anger burned within him, and when I looked at him, I became afraid.

He said to me, “Come nearer to me,” and as he spoke to me my limbs quaked, and he reached out his hand and steadied me. He said, “Don’t be afraid, and let your heart show no fear.” He encouraged me, saying, “Why did you become silent and hide your face from me?” I said to him, “Because you said, ‘I am the servant of YHWH, His Messiah, and the lamp of Israel (2 Samuel 21:17).’” Suddenly he appeared like a strong young man, handsome and adorned.

I asked him, “When will the lamp of Israel come?” And as I was speaking to him, behold, a man with two wings approached me and said to me, “Zerubbabel! What are you asking YHWH’s Messiah?” I answered him and said, “I asked when the appointed time for deliverance is supposed to come.” He said, “Ask me and I will tell you.” I said to him, “My Lord, who are you?” He answered and said, “I am Michael, the one who delivered good news to Sarah. I am the leader of the army of YHWH God of Israel, the one who battled with Sennacherib and slew 180,000 men. I am the prince of Israel, the one who fought battles against the kings of Canaan. In the time to come, I will fight the battles of YHWH alongside YHWH’s Messiah—he who sits before you—with the king עַז פָּנִים (az panim), Bold Face, and with Armilus son of Satan, the spawn of the stone statue. YHWH has appointed me to be the commanding officer over His people and over those who love Him in order to do battle against the leaders of nations.”

Michael, who is Metatron, answered me, saying, “I am the angel who guided Abraham throughout the land of Canaan. I blessed him in the name of YHWH. I am the one who redeemed Isaac and [wept] for him. I am the one who wrestled with Jacob at the crossing of the Jabbok. I am the one who guided Israel in the wilderness for forty years in the name of YHWH. I am the one who appeared to Joshua at Gilgal, and I am the one who rained down brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah [cf. BT Sanhedrin 38b on Genesis 19:24]. He set His name within me—מְטַטְרוֹן (Metatron) being numerically equivalent to שַׁדַּי (Shaddai). As for you, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, whose name is יְכָנְיָה (yekhanyah), Jeconiah, ask me and I will tell you what will happen at the End of Days” [on Jeconiah, see 1 Chronicles 3:17; Ezra 3:2, 8; 5:2; Nehemiah 12:1; Haggai 1:1. As king of Judah, he was taken captive by the Babylonians in their incursion in 597 B.C.E.].

Then he said to me, “This is YHWH’s Messiah: [he has] been hidden in this place until the appointed time. This is the Messiah Son of David, and his name is Menaḥem son of Amiel. He was born during the reign of David, king of Israel, and a wind took him up and hid him in this place, waiting for the time of the end.” Then I, Zerubbabel, asked a question of Metatron, the leader of the army of YHWH. He said to me: YHWH will give a rod for these acts of rescue to Hephzibah, mother of Menaḥem son of Amiel. A great star will shine before her, and all the stars will wander aimlessly from their paths.

Hephzibah, mother of Menaḥem son of Amiel, will go forth and kill two kings, both of whom are determined to do evil. The name[s] of the two rulers [whom she will kill]: Noph, king of Teman, [so named] because he will shake his hand toward Jerusalem, and the name of the second is ‘Isrinan, king of Antioch. This conflict and these signs will take place during the festival of Shavu’ot in the third month.

The word is true. Four hundred and twenty years after the city and Temple have been rebuilt, they will be destroyed a second time. Twenty years after the building of the city of Rome, after seventy kings corresponding to the seventy nations have ruled in it, when ten kings have finished their reigns, the tenth king will come. He will destroy the Sanctuary, cease the daily offering, the ‘devoted people’ will be dispersed, and he will hand them over to destruction, plunder, and panic. Many of them will perish due to their faithfulness to Torah, but [others] will abandon the Torah of YHWH and worship their [Roman] idols. And when they stumble they shall find little support, [and many shall join them with smooth talk] (Daniel 11:34). From the time that the daily offering ceases and the wicked ones install the one whose name is Abhorrence in the Temple, at the end of nine hundred and ninety [-nine] years, the deliverance of YHWH will take place—[And I heard the man dressed in linen, who was over the water of the river, and he raised his right hand, and his left hand was toward the heavens, and he swore by the One who lives forever that at the appointed time of times and a half and at the end of] the shattering of the power of the holy people, [all these things shall be finished] (ibid. 12:7)—to redeem them and to gather them by means of YHWH’s Messiah.

The rod which YHWH will give to Hephzibah, mother of Menaḥem [son of] Amiel, is made of almond-wood; it is hidden in Raqqat, a city in [the territory of] Naphtali. It is the same rod which YHWH gave to Adam, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and King David. It is the same rod which sprouted buds and flowered in the Tent [of Meeting] for the sake of Aaron [see Numbers 17:8]. Elijah son of El’azar hid it in Raqqat, a city of Naphtali, which is Tiberias. Hidden there as well is a man whose name is Nehemiah of Hushiel son of Ephraim son of Yosef. Zerubbabel spoke up and said to Metatron (Michael) the prince, “My lord, I want you to tell me when YHWH’s Messiah will come and what will happen after all this!” He said to me, “YHWH’s Messiah—Nehemiah son of Hushiel—will come five years after Hephzibah. He will collect all Israel together as one entity and they will remain for [four] years in Jerusalem, [where] the children of Israel will offer an offering, and it will be pleasing to YHWH. He will inscribe Israel in the book of lineage according to their clans. But in the fifth year of Nehemiah and the gathering together of the holy ones, Seroy the king of Persia will attack Nehemiah son of Hushiel and Israel, and there will be great suffering in Israel. Hephzibah—wife of Nathan the prophet [and] mother of Menaḥem son of Amiel—will go out with the rod which YHWH God of Israel will give to her, and YHWH will place a spirit of dizziness upon them [i.e., the Persian army], and they will kill one another, each [killing] his companion or his countryman. There the wicked one [Seroy] will die.”

When I heard [this], I fell upon my face and said, “Lord! Tell me what Isaiah the prophet [meant] when he said: [For the fortified town is solitary, an abode deserted and abandoned, like the desert.] There the calf grazes and there it lies down and gnaws away its boughs (Isaiah 27:10)?” He answered me, “Calf—Nineveh, the city of blood, mighty Rome.”

I went on asking there about the prince of the holy covenant. He held me close and they brought me to the House of Filth. There he showed me a marble stone in the shape of a young women: her features and form were lovely and indeed very beautiful to behold. Then he said to me, “This statue is the [wife] of בְּלִיַּעַל (beliyya’al), Belial [i.e., Satan; cf. Proverbs 6:12: אָדָם בְּלִיַּעַל (Adam beliyya’al), a worthless fellow, a wrongdoing man, goes about with a crooked mouth]. Satan will come and copulate with her, and a son named Armilus will emerge from her, [Greek for] ‘he will destroy a nation.’ He will rule over all, and his dominion will extend from one end of the earth to the other, and ten letters will be in his hand. He will engage in the worship of foreign gods and speak lies. No one will be able to withstand him, and anyone who does not believe in him he will kill with the sword: many among them he will kill. He will come against the holy people of the Most High, and with him there will be ten kings wielding great might and force, and he will do battle with the holy ones. He will prevail over them and will kill the Messiah Son of Joseph, Nehemiah son of Hushiel, and will also kill sixteen righteous ones alongside him. Then they will banish Israel to the desert in three groups.

But Hephzibah, mother of Menaḥem son of Amiel, will remain stationed at the eastern gate, and that wicked one will not enter there, thereby confirming what is written: [And I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle. And the city shall be captured and the houses looted and the women ravished. And half the city shall go out in exile,] but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city (Zechariah 14:2). This battle will take place during [the month of] Av. Israel will experience distress such as there never was before. They will flee into towers, among mountains, and into caves, but they will be unable to hide from him. All the nations of the earth will go astray after him except for Israel, who will not believe in him. All Israel shall mourn Nehemiah son of Hushiel for forty-one days. His thoroughly crushed corpse will be thrown down before the gates of Jerusalem, but no animal, bird, or beast will touch it. Due to the intensity of the oppression and the great distress, the children of Israel will then call out to YHWH, and YHWH will answer them.”

As I listened to the content of the prophecy of YHWH to me, I became very agitated and got up and went to the canal. There I cried out to YHWH God of Israel, the God of all flesh, and He sent His angel to me while the prayer was still in my mouth before I had finished. YHWH sent His angel to me, and when I saw I knew that he was the angel who had spoken with me regarding all the previous matters. I knelt and bowed before him, and he again touched me like he had the first time. He said to me, “What is the matter with you Zerubbabel?” I answered him, “My Lord, my spirit remains sunken.”

Metatron answered, saying, “Ask and I will give you answers before I leave you.” So again I asked him, saying to him, “My Lord Metatron, when will the lamp of Israel come?” He answered and said to me, “By YHWH who has sent me and who has appointed me over Israel, I solemnly swear to reveal to you YHWH’s doing[s], for the Holy God previously commanded me, ‘Go to My servant Zerubbabel, and tell him whatever he may ask you.’” Then Michael, who is Metatron, said to me, “Come closer and give heed to everything which I shall tell you, for the word which I am speaking to you is true, it was one spoken by the Living God.”

He said to me, “Menaḥem son of Amiel will suddenly come on the fourteenth day of the first month Nisan. He will wait by the Valley of Arbael [at a tract] which belonged to Yehoshu’a son of Yehosadaq the priest, and all the surviving sages of Israel—only a few will remain due to the attack and pillage of Gog and Armilus and the looters who plunder them—will come out to him. Menaḥem son of Amiel will say to the elders and the sages: “I am YHWH’s Messiah: YHWH has sent me to encourage you and to deliver you from the power of these adversaries!” The elders will scrutinize him and will despise him, for they will see that despicable man dressed in rags, and they will despise him just as you previously did [cf. BT Sanhedrin 98b]. But then his anger will burn within him, [And He donned triumph as His armor and victory’s helmet on His head.] And He donned clothes of vengeance as a garment, and wrapped round zeal like a robe (Isaiah 59:17), and he will journey to the gates of Jerusalem. Hephzibah, mother of the Messiah, will come and give him the rod by which the signs were performed. All the elders and children of Israel will come and see that Nehemiah [son of Hushiel] is alive and standing unassisted, [and] immediately they will believe in the Messiah.” Thus did Metatron, the leader of the army of YHWH, swear to me, “This matter will truly come to pass, for there will be full cooperation between them in accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah, [And the envy of Ephraim shall vanish, and the foes of Judah be cut off.] Ephraim shall not envy Judah, nor Judah be hostile to Ephraim (ibid. 11:13).”

On the twenty-first day of the first month, nine hundred and ninety [-nine] years after the destruction of the Temple, the deliverance of YHWH will take place for Israel. Menaḥem son of Amiel, Nehemiah son of Hushiel, and Elijah the prophet will come and stand by the [Mediterranean] Sea and read the prophecy of YHWH. All the bodies of those Israelites who had thrown themselves into the sea while fleeing from their enemies will emerge: a wave from the sea will rise up, spread them out, and deposit them alive within the valley of Jehoshaphat near the Wadi Shittim, for there judgment will transpire upon the nations.

In the second month Iyyar, the band of Korah will reemerge upon the plains of Jericho near the Wadi Shittim. They will come to Moses, and the cohort of the Korahites will assemble.

On the eighteenth day the mountains and hills will quake, and the earth and everything on it will shake, as well as the sea and its contents.

On the first day of the third month those who died in the desert will be revived and will come with their clans to the Wadi Shittim. On the eighteenth day of the month of Iyyar [i.e., Lag ba-Omer; alt., “on the eighteenth day of the month of Sivan” (the third month)], there will be a mighty earthquake in the land of Israel [in Meron in the year 4123 (363 C.E.)].

In Tammuz, the fourth month, YHWH God of Israel will descend upon the Mount of Olives, and the Mount of Olives will split open at His rebuke. He will blow a great trumpet, and every foreign deity and mosque will crumble to the ground, and every wall and steep place will collapse. YHWH will put all their plunderers to death, and He will battle those nations [YHWH sallies forth as a warrior,] as a man of war he stirs up fury. [He raises the battle cry, even bellows, over His enemies He prevails] (Isaiah 42:13). YHWH’s Messiah—Menaḥem son of Amiel—will come and breathe in the face of Armilus, killing him. YHWH will place each man’s sword on the neck of his companion and their dead bodies shall fall there. The “devout people” [i.e., Israel; cf. Daniel 8:24: And his power will grow mighty but not through his own power, and he will lay waste wondrously and prosper in what he does and lay waste to mighty ones and to the people of the holy ones] will come out to witness YHWH’s deliverance: all of Israel will actually see Him [equipped] like a warrior with victory’s helmet on His head and clad in armor [see Isaiah 59:17: And He donned triumph as His armor and victory’s helmet on His head. And He donned clothes of vengeance as a garment, and wrapped round zeal like a robe]. He will fight the battle of Gog and Magog and against the army of Armilus, and all of them will fall dead in the Valley of Arbael. All of Israel will then issue forth [And they shall not carry off wood from the field nor cut down trees from the forests, for with weapons they shall light fires. And they shall plunder] their plunderers and loot their looters, [said the Master, YHWH] (Ezekiel 39:10) for seven months. However, some survivors will escape and they will all regroup at Zela-Eleph [cf. Joshua 18:28]: five hundred men, and [another] one hundred thousand wearing armor. [Opposing them will be] five hundred from Israel with Nehemiah and Elijah, and you Zerubbabel will be their leader—they will kill all of them: one man will pursue a thousand!

This will be the third battle, for three battles will take place in the land of Israel. One will be waged by Hephzibah with Seroy the king of Persia, one will be fought by YHWH God of Israel and Menaḥem son of Amiel with Armilus, the ten kings who are with him, and Gog and Magog, and the third will be at Zela-Eleph, where Nehemiah son of Hushiel and Zerubbabel will see action. The third battle will take place in [the month of] Av.

After this all Menaḥem son of Amiel will come, accompanied by Nehemiah son of Hushiel and all Israel. All of the dead will be revived, and Elijah the prophet will be with them. They will come up to Jerusalem. In [the month of] Av, during which they formerly mourned for Nehemiah [and] for the destruction of Jerusalem, Israel will hold a great celebration and bring an offering to YHWH, which YHWH will accept on their behalf. And the grain offering of Israel shall be sweet to YHWH as in days of yore and in former years (Malachi 3:4). YHWH will discern the pleasing aroma of His people Israel and greatly rejoice. Then YHWH will lower the supernal Temple, which had been built previously, to earth and a column of fire and a cloud of smoke will rise to the heavens. The Messiah and all of Israel will follow them to the gates of Jerusalem.

The holy God will stand on the Mount of Olives. Dread and reverence for Him will be upon the heavens and the heavens of heavens, the entire earth and its deepest rungs, and every wall and structure to their foundations. No one will be able to catch their breath when YHWH God reveals Himself before everyone on the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives will crack open beneath Him, and the exiles from Jerusalem will come up to the Mount of Olives. Zion and Jerusalem will behold, asking: Who gave birth for me to these, [when I was bereaved and barren, exiled and cast aside, and these, why, who has raised? Why, I was left alone,] these, from where have they come? (Isaiah 49:21). Nehemiah and Zerubbabel will then come up to Jerusalem and say to her, “Behold, [they are] your children whom you bore who went into exile from you. Greatly exult, Zion’s Daughter, [shout for joy, Jerusalem’s Daughter. Look, your king shall come to you, victor and triumphant is he, a lowly man riding on an ass, on a donkey, the foal of a she-ass] (Zechariah 9:9).”

Again I began to ask Metatron, leader of the army of YHWH, “My Lord, show me how far and how wide Jerusalem will extend, along with its architecture.” He showed me the walls which surrounded Jerusalem—walls of fire—extending from the Great Desert to the [Mediterranean] Sea and to the Euphrates River. Then he showed me the Temple and the structure. The Temple was built on the peaks of five mountains which YHWH had chosen to support His sanctuary: Lebanon, Mount Moriah, Tabor, Carmel, and Hermon. Michael spoke and said to me, “At the completion of nine hundred and ninety [-nine] years for the ruins of Jerusalem is the appointed time for the deliverance of Israel” [cf. Jeremiah 30:7: וְעֵת צָרָה הִיא לְיַעֲקֹב (ve-et tsarah hi le-Ya’aqov), and a time of distress it is for Jacob [from which he will be rescued]—this verset is numerically equivalent to 999]. He also continued to interpret for me the message and the vision in accordance with what he had first said to me: If you would ask, do ask, turn back, come (Isaiah 21:12).

In the fifth [year] of the week Nehemiah son of Hushiel will come and gather together all Israel. In the sixth [year] of the week Hephzibah, wife of Nathan the prophet, she who was born in Hebron, will come and slay the two kings Nof and Esrogan. That same year the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:10), Menaḥem son of Amiel, will spring up. Ten kings from among the nations shall also arise, but they will not supply enough to rule for a week [of years] and a half-week [of years], each one [ruling] for a year. These are the ten kings who will rise up over the nations for the week of years: these are their names corresponding with their cities and their places. The first king is Silqom, the name of his city is Seferad, which is Aspamia, a distant land. The second king is Hartomos, the name of his city is Gitanya. The third king is Fle’vas [Flavius?], the name of his city is Flo’yas. The fourth king is Glu’as [Julius?], the name of his city is Galya [Gaul?]. The fifth king is Ramoshdis, the name of his city is Moditika. The sixth king is Moqlanos, the name of his city is Italia. The seventh king is ‘Oktinos, the name of his city is Dormis. The eighth king is ‘Aplostos from Mesopotamia. The ninth king is Seroy, king of Persia.

The tenth king is Armilus son of Satan who emerged from the sculpted stone. He will gain sovereignty over all of them. He will come along with the rulers of Kedar and the inhabitants of the East and provoke a battle in the Valley of Arbael, and they will take possession of the kingdom. He will ascend with his force and subdue the entire world. From there in Riblah, which is Antioch, he will begin to erect all the idols of nations on the face of the earth and to serve their gods, those whom YHWH hates. During those days the wages of man will be naught and the wages of beast nothing [cf. Zechariah 8:9]. He will construct four altars, and he will anger YHWH with his wicked deeds. There will be a very terrible and harsh famine upon the surface of the whole land for forty days—their food will stem from the salt-plant; plucking saltwort from the bush, the roots of broom wood their bread (Job 30:4). On that day a spring shall issue from the house of YHWH and water the Wadi of Acacias (Joel 4:18).

Now this Armilus will take his mother—[the statue] from whom he was spawned—from the House of Filth of the scornful ones, and from every place and from every nation they will come and worship that stone, burn offerings to her, and pour out libations to her. No one will be able to view her face on account of her beauty. Anyone who refuses to worship her will die in agony [like (?)] animals.

This is the mark of Armilus: the color of the hair of his head is similar to gold, and [he is] green [or: pale], even the soles of his feet. His face is one hand span in width, his eyes are deep-set, and he has two heads. He will arise and rule over ‘Imis [?], the province of Satan father of Belial. All who see him will tremble before him. Menaḥem will come up from the Wadi Shittim and breathe in the face of Armilus, killing him, as is written, [And he shall strike the land with the rod of his mouth,] with the breath from his lips put the wicked to death. [And justice shall be the belt round his waist, faithfulness the belt round his loins] (Isaiah 11:5). Israel will take possession of the kingdom; the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingdom [and take possession of the kingdom forever and forever] (Daniel 7:18).

These were the words which Metatron spoke to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, ruler of Judah, while he was still living in exile during the time of the Persian empire. Zechariah son of ‘Anan and Elijah recorded them when the period of exile was completed.

There was a Famine in the Land: Descent—a Need of Ascent

It came to pass after these things that God נִסָּה (nissah), tested, Abraham (Genesis 22:1). It is written: You have given נֵּס (nes), a banner, to those in awe of You לְהִתְנוֹסֵס (le-hitnoses), to be unfurled (Psalms 60:6)—trial upon trial, elevation above elevation, to test them in the world, to elevate them in the world like a ship’s banner” (Bereshit Rabbah 55:1).

“Once Abraham was crowned with his rungs in the Holy Land and entered the holy rung, what is written? There was a famine in the land (Genesis 12:10), for no one knew how to draw near the blessed Holy One [cf. Amos 8:10]. There was a famine in the land, for until now the power [of Shekhinah] over the land had not vitalized or nourished the land, for it was still unsanctified, unstable. As soon as Abraham saw that the power appointed over the land had not vitalized it fittingly with holy energy, Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there (ibid.). How did Abraham know? As is written: To your seed I give this land (ibid., 7). Then Abraham knew that the land would be arrayed in holy arrayal only through certain rungs issuing from him. He discovered a mystery of wisdom: only so would the land be arrayed in holiness [i.e., it is impossible to reach the height of perfection unless one has first descended into the realm of evil and risen from there, see Rabbi Avraham Galanté, Zahorei Ḥammah on Zohar 1:81b].

Abram went down to Egypt. Why Egypt? Because it is equivalent to the Garden of YHWH, as is written: Like the garden of YHWH, like the land of Egypt (ibid. 13:10) [cf. Deuteronomy 11:10]. For there one river on the right plunges, as is written: The name of the first is Pishon, the one winding through the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold (ibid. 2:11). Once Abraham knew and entered perfect faith, he sought to know all those rungs linked below, and since Egypt drew from the right, he went down to Egypt. 

Come and see: Famine prevails only when compassion withdraws from justice. 

When he drew near to Egypt (ibid. 12:11).

Rabbi El’azar said, כַּאֲשֶׁר הִקְרִיב (Ka’asher hiqriv), When he drew [someone] near. The verse should read: כַּאֲשֶׁר קָרַב (Ka’asher qarav), When he came near. Why Ka’asher hiqriv, when he drew [someone] near? As is written, Pharaoh hiqriv, drew [someone] near (Exodus 14:10), for he drew Israel back to God [see Shemot Rabbah 21:5]. Here too, hiqriv, for he drew himself near to the blessed Holy One fittingly. 

To enter Egypt (Genesis, ibid.)—to scrutinize those rungs, and shun them, to shun the ways of the Egyptians. 

Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘Come and see: Because Abraham went down to Egypt without permission, his descendants were enslaved there for four hundred years. For look at what is written: Abram went down to Egypt, and not: Go down to Egypt! ” (Zohar 1:81a–b).

“Come and see the mystery of the matter: If Abram had not gone down to Egypt and been refined there first, he would not have become the share of the blessed Holy One. Similarly with his children, when the blessed Holy One wanted to make them a unique and perfect people, to draw them close to Him: If they had not first gone down to Egypt and been refined there, they would not have become His unique nation. Similarly, if the Holy Land had not been given first to Canaan to rule, it would not have become the portion and share of the blessed Holy One [see Zohar 1:73b]. It is all one mystery….

Come and see: When Abraham entered the land the blessed Holy One appeared to him, as has been said, for it is written: to YHWH who had appeared to him (Genesis 12:7). There he received nefesh and built an altar for that rung. Afterward, continually journeying (ibid., 9), receiving ruaḥ. Finally he ascended to cleave to neshamah, and then he built an altar there to YHWH (ibid., 8)—uncharacterized, referring to neshamah, concealed of all concealed. 

Then he knew he had to be refined and crowned with rungs, so immediately Abram went down to Egypt (ibid., 10). He was delivered from there, not seduced by those dazzling demons. Refined, he returned to his domain. Having descended and been refined, immediately Abram went up from Egypt (ibid. 13:1)—went up, literally, returning to his domain, cleaving to supernal faith, as is written: to the Negev. From now one Abraham knew supernal wisdom, cleaving to the blessed Holy One, becoming the right hand of the world. Then Abram was very heavily laden with cattle, with silver, and with gold (ibid., 2). Very heavily laden—on the side of the East; with cattle—on the side of the West; with silver—on the side of the South; and with gold—on the side of the North” (Zohar 1:82b–83b).

“Come and see: When the blessed Holy One created Adam, He commanded him for his own good and endowed him with wisdom, whose rungs he climbed. Descending below, he rediscovered the craving of the evil impulse and clung to it, forgetting all he had attained of the supernal glory of his Lord.

Then came Noah. At first is written: Noah was a completely righteous man (Genesis 6:9). Later he descended below and saw strong wine, unclassified, one day old. He drank some of it, became drunk, and exposed himself.

Then came Abraham. He ascended in wisdom, contemplating the glory of his Lord. Afterwards, there was a famine in the land and Abram went down to Egypt… (ibid. 12:10). Subsequently what is written? Abram went up from Egypt… (ibid. 13:1), ascending to the rung he had attained at first. He entered in peace and emerged in peace.

Then came Isaac. What is written? There was a famine in the land… and Isaac went (ibid. 26:1). Isaac went and later ascended from there in peace.

Every single one of the righteous is tested by the blessed Holy One, to elevate them in this world and in the world that is coming” (Zohar 1:140b).

Go, My People, Come into Your Chambers and Shut Your Doors Behind You

And they provoked Him through their acts, and the scourge broke out among them (Psalms 106:29).

“Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: Punishment comes upon the world only when there are wicked in the world, and it begins only with the righteous first, as is said: Should a fire go forth and catch in thorns (Exodus 22:5). When does fire break out? When thorns are found. And it begins only with the righteous first, as is said: or standing grain… be consumed, [he who set the fire shall surely pay] (ibid.). It does not say and consumes standing grain, but standing grain… be consumed—it already was consumed.

Rabbi Yosef taught: What is And as for you, none of you shall go out from the entrance of his house till morning (Exodus 12:22)? Once permission has been granted to the Destroyer, he does not distinguish between righteous and wicked, as is said, [Thus said YHWH: Here I am against you,] and I will take out My sword from its sheath and cut off from you the righteous and the wicked (Ezekiel 21:8)….

Our Rabbis taught: A plague in town? Keep your feet indoors, as it says, And as for you, none of you shall go out from the entrance of his house till morning, and it says, Go, my people, come into your chambers and shut your doors behind you. [Hide but a moment until the wrath passes. For YHWH is about to come out from His place to punish the crime of the dwellers on earth, and the earth shall lay bare its bloodguilt and no longer cover its slain] (Isaiah 26:20) [cf. Zohar 1:183a ad loc.]. And it says: Outside will the sword bereave and within chambers—terror. [Both youth and virgin, suckling and gray-haired man] (Deuteronomy 32:25). Why? Lest you say these words [apply] only to the night, but not to the day.

Come and hear: Go, my people, come into your chambers and shut your doors behind you. And should you say this matter [applies only] where there is no such terror within, whereas where there is terror within it is much better to go out and sit among people in one company, again come and hear: Outside will the sword bereave and within chambers—terror—that [even where] the terror is within the sword will destroy [more] outside.

In the time of a plague Rava used to keep the windows shut, as is written, For death has come up through our windows, [has entered our citadels, to cut off the babe from the street, the young man from the squares] (Jeremiah 9:20).

Our Rabbis taught: A plague in town? One should not walk in the middle of the road, because the Angel of Death walks there—for as soon as permission has been granted him, he strides brazenly. But when there is peace in the town, one should not walk at the sides of the road, for since he has no permission he slinks along in hiding.

Our Rabbis taught: A plague in town? Nobody should enter the synagogue alone, as the Angel of Death keeps his tools there. However, this is the case only where no children are being taught there or where ten [men] do not pray there [together].

Our Rabbis taught: When dogs howl the Angel of Death has come to town. But when dogs frolic Elijah the prophet has come to town—only if there is no female among them” (BT Bava Qamma 60a–b, see Mekhilta, Pisḥa 11; Zohar 1:63a, 68a–b, 69a, 107b, 113a, 182b, 197b; 2:196a, 227a).

“Our Rabbis taught: There are four signs: A sign of transgression is swelling [due to the build-up of excess fluid in the body’s tissues i.e., edema]; a sign of baseless hatred is jaundice; a sign of arrogance is poverty [cf. BT Qiddushin 49b]; a sign of לָשׁוֹן הָרַע (lashon ha-ra), the evil tongue [i.e., slander], is diphtheria.

Our Rabbis taught: Diphtheria comes to the world on account of [neglect of] tithes. Rabbi El’azar son of Rabbi Yose said: On account of the evil tongue [cf. BT Yevamot 62b]. Rava, some say Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi, said: What verse [teaches this]? But the king will rejoice in God, all who swear by him will revel, for the mouth of the liars יִסָּכֵר (yissakher), is muzzled [playing on אַסְכָּרָה (askarah), diphtheria, an acute bacterial disease that can infect the body in the tonsils, nose, or throat] (Psalms 63:12).

It was asked by them: Does Rabbi El’azar son of Rabbi Yose say, [Only] on account of slander, or perhaps on account of slander too?

Come and hear: For when our Rabbis entered the ‘vineyard’ in Yavneh [the famous town north west of Jerusalem, the seat of the Sanhedrin and Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Zakkai’s academy after the destruction of the Temple. Sittings were held in a ‘vineyard,’ i.e., members sat in rows similar to vines in a vineyard], Rabbi Yehudah, Rabbi El’azar son of Rabbi Yose and Rabbi Shim’on [son of Yoḥai] were present, and this question was raised before them: why does this affliction start in the bowels and end in the throat? Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabbi Ila’i, the first speaker on all occasions answered and said: Though the kidneys counsel, the heart gives understanding [kidneys were thought to be the seat of conscience, see Psalms 16:7; the heart is imagined as the seat of understanding, see Isaiah 6:10], and the tongue cuts [a word, yet] the mouth finishes [it].

Rabbi El’azar son of Rabbi Yose answered and said: Because they eat impure food with it. ‘Impure food!’ does it enter your mind? Rather [say] because they eat unfit food [i.e., which was not tithed]. Rabbi Shim’on answered and said: As a punishment for the neglect of study. They said to him. Let women prove it! [since they are not obligated to study (see BT Qiddushin 29b), and yet suffer from diphtheria (cf. M Sotah 3:4)]. That is because they restrain their husbands [from study]. Let Gentiles prove it! [since they are not obligated to study Torah, and are yet subject to it]. That is because they restrain Israel. Let children prove it! That is because they make their fathers to neglect [study]. Then let school children prove it! There it is as Rabbi Guryon. For Rabbi Guryon, some say Rav Yosef son of Rabbi Shemaya, said: When there are righteous men in the generation, the righteous are seized [by death] for the [sins of the] generation; when there are no righteous in a generation, school children are seized for the generation. Rabbi Yitsḥaq son of Ze’iri, some say Rabbi Shim’on son of Nezira, said: Which verse [teaches this]? If you do not know, O fairest of women, go out in the tracks of the sheep [and graze your goats by the shepherd’s מִשְׁכְּנוֹת (mishkenot), shelters (Song of Songs 1:8) and we interpret this as [referring to] the goats which are הַמְמוּשְׁכָּנִין (ha-memushkanin), taken as collateral, for the [debts of the] shepherds. Thus this proves that he said on account of slander too. This proves it” (BT Shabbat 33a–b).

“Rabbi Aḥa traveled to כְפַר טַרְשָׁא (Kefar Tarsha), Clod Village; he arrived at his inn. All the town’s residences spoke in hushed tones about him, saying, ‘A great man has arrived here. Let us go to him. They went to him. They said to him, ‘Is the master’s heart anguished by the destruction?’ He said to them, ‘What do you mean?’ They said to him, ‘For seven days, a plague has been hovering over the town. Each day it grows stronger and does not desist.’ He said to them, ‘Let us go to the synagogue and implore mercy from the blessed Holy One.’

While they were walking, [some people] arrived and said, ‘So-and-so and so-and-so have died, and so-and-so and so-and-so are about to die.’ Rabbi Aḥa said to them, ‘Now is not the time to stand by—the hour is pressing! Rather, set aside forty of the most righteous people, in four groups of ten, and I with you; ten for one corner of the town, ten for another corner of the town, so on for the four corners of the town; and recite with soulful devotion the passages of the aromatic incense that the blessed Holy One gave Moses, accompanied by the passages of the sacrifices [cf. BT Shabbat 89a].’

They did so three times—and passed through all four directions of the town, reciting accordingly [cf. Zohar 2:219a: It is forbidden to burn incense anywhere else except in the fire-pan (of the Temple)]. Afterward, he said to them, ‘Let us go to those verging on death. Set aside [other righteous people] for their houses and let them recite in a similar fashion. When you finish, recite these verses loudly three times: Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take the fire-pan and place fire upon it…’ (Numbers 17:11); Aaron took… (ibid., 12); He stood between the dead… (ibid., 13).’

They did so and the plagued ceased. They heard a voice saying, ‘Secret striker, primal striker, wait on high; the judgment of heaven does not hover here, for they know how to nullify it.’

Rabbi Aḥa’s heart was faint. He fell asleep. He heard that they were telling him, ‘Just as you accomplished that, accomplish this! Go and tell them to return in teshuvah, for they are wicked before Me.’

He arose and returned them in complete teshuvah, and they accepted upon themselves never to desist from Torah; and they changed the name of the city to מָאתָא מַחְסֵיָא (Mata Meḥseya), Town of Compassion [cf. BT Ketubbot 4a; Horayot 12a; Zohar 1:72a, 94b]” (Zohar 1:100b–101b, Midrash ha-Ne’lam).

“Whoever is careless over washing hands is uprooted from the world” (BT Sotah 4b).

 

Radiance Surrounding It

“Rabbi Shim’on son of Gamli’el says that [apart from Hebrew] even [Torah] scrolls are permitted to be written only in Greek’ (M Megillah 1:8). Rabbi Abbahu said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan: The Halakhah follows Rabbi Shim’on son of Gamli’el. Rabbi Yoḥanan also said: What is the reason of Rabbi Shim’on son of Gamli’el? It says, May God enlarge Japheth, may he dwell in the tents of Shem (Genesis 9:27)—that the words of Japheth shall be in the tents of Shem [cf. ibid. 10:2: The sons of Japheth: Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan…. Javan was the legendary ancestor of the Ionians, a section of the Greek people]. But why not say [the words of] Gomer and Magog? Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Abba said: The reason is because it is written, יַפְתְּ אֱלֹהִים לְיֶפֶת (Yaft Elohim le-Yefet), May God enlarge Japheth—let יָפְיוּתוֹ (yafyuto), the beauty, of יֶפֶת (Yefet), Japheth, be in the tents of Shem [eldest son of Noah, father of the ‘Semitic’ peoples, including the Jewish people]” (BT Megillah 9a–b).

That has no blemish (Numbers 19:2)—kingdom of Greece, who are near the paths of faith” (Zohar 2:237a, cf. Bereshit Rabbah 2:4–5).

Radiance surrounding it (Ezekiel 1:4)—Greece, surrounded by radiance, but not itself radiant, as is written: surrounding. For there is none among all the kingdoms that approach the path of faith as they do. Here, too, among these shells, none approach the kernel [Israel] like this one. Surrounded by radiance, but radiance is not in it. Radiance emerges from the kernel—shining and encircling” (Zohar Ḥadash 38b).

You are My Witnesses: A Need on High

“Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai taught: ‘You are My witnesses,’ says YHWH, ‘and I am God’ (Isaiah 43:12)—when you are My witnesses, I am God. When you are not My witnesses, I am not God” (Sifrei, Deuteronomy 346, cf. Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 12).

“Is the blessed Holy One מִשְׁתַּבַּח (mishtabaḥ), praised [or: enhanced], בְּשִׁבְחַיְיהוּ (be-shivḥayyehu), through the praise [or: enhancement], of Israel? Indeed, as is written: YHWH you have proclaimed today to be your God [and to go in His ways and to keep His statutes and His commands and His laws and to heed His voice] (Deuteronomy 26:17). And it is written: And YHWH has proclaimed you today [to be to Him a treasured people, as He has spoken to you, and to keep all His commands, and to set you high above all the nations that He made, for praise and for acclaim and for glory, and for you to be a holy people to YHWH your God, as He has spoken] (ibid., 18)” (BT Berakhot 6a).

“When the blessed Holy One took counsel from the Torah—whose name is Prudence—to create the world, she answered Him: Master of the Worlds: If the king has no army and no camp, over what does he rule? And if there is no people מְקֻלָּסִין (mequllasin), praising, the king, what is that king’s glory? The Lord of the World listened and it was pleasing to Him. Torah said: The blessed Holy One took counsel from me to create the world, as is said, Mine is counsel and prudence, [I am Discernment, mine is might. Through me kings reign, and rulers decree righteous laws] (Proverbs 8:14)” (Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 3, cf. Zohar 3:69a).

“The ministering angels said to the blessed Holy One: Master of the World! What is man that You should note him, and the human creature, that You pay him heed? (Psalms 8:5). This trouble, for what has it been created? He said to them: If so sheep and oxen all together (ibid., 8), why were they created; why were birds of the heavens and fish of the sea (ibid., 9) created? A tower full of good things and no guests—what pleasure has its owner in having filled it? They said to Him: Master of the World! YHWH our Master, how majestic Your name in all the earth! (ibid., 10). Do what pleases You!” (Bereshit Rabbah 8:6).

And the gain of the earth is in all—a king [opposite a field] (ibid., 8)—what is יִתְרוֹן (yitron), the gain? The Place from which the earth was hewn, and He yitron, surpasses, what was  [cf. Ecclesiastes 2:13: And I saw that wisdom yitron, surpasses, folly as light surpasses darkness]. And what are they yitron, profited? Every thing in the world: when inhabitants of the world are able to take from its splendor then it is a yitron, gain” (Bahir §95).

The Adversary Dances Among Them: He Descends and Leads Astray, Ascends and Arouses Wrath

And one day, the sons of God came to stand in attendance before YHWH, and the Adversary, too, came among them to stand in attendance before YHWH. And YHWH said to the Adversary, “From whence do you come?” And the Adversary answered YHWH and said, “From roaming the earth and walking about in it.” And YHWH said to the Adversary, “Have you paid heed to My servant Job, for there is none like him on earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and shuns evil and still clings to his innocence, and you incited Me against him to destroy him for nothing.” And the Adversary answered YHWH and said, “Skin for skin! A man will give all he has for his own life. Yet, reach out, pray, Your hand and strike his bone and his flesh. Will he not curse You to your face?” And YHWH said to the Adversary, “Here he is in your hands. Only preserve his life.” And the Adversary went out from before YHWH’s presence. And he struck Job with a grievous burning rash from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head (Job 2:1–7).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: [And you incited Me against him to destroy him for nothing (Job 2:3)]—were it not written in the verse we would not dare say it: Like a man whom others incite, and is incited [against his better judgment, cf. Deuteronomy 13:6]. A Tanna taught: [The Adversary] he descends and leads astray, ascends and arouses wrath, obtains authorization and seizes the soul. And the Adversary answered YHWH and said, “Skin for skin! A man will give all he has for his own life. Yet, reach out, pray, Your hand and strike his bone and his flesh. Will he not curse You to your face?” And YHWH said to the Adversary, “Here he is in your hands. Only preserve his life.” And the Adversary went out from before YHWH’s presence. And he struck Job (Job 2:4–7).

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said: The Adversary’s torment was worse than that of Job. A parable: Job was like a servant who is told by his master, ‘Break the cask but do not let any of the wine spill.’ Resh Laqish said: The Adversary, the evil impulse, and the Angel of Death are all one. He is called הַשָּׂטָן (ha-satan), the Adversary, as is written, And the Adversary went out from before YHWH’s presence (Job 2:7). He is called the evil impulse: [we know this because] it is written in another place, [“And YHWH saw that the evil of the human creature was great on the earth and that every scheme of his heart’s devising] was only perpetually evil. [And YHWH regretted having made the human on earth and was grieved to the heart] (Genesis 6:5), and it is written here Only against him do not reach out your hand (Job 1:12). He is also the Angel of Death, since it says, [“Here he is in your hands.] Only preserve his life” (ibid. 2:6), consequently his very existence is in his hands.

Rabbi Levi said: [In acting as adversaries] both the Adversary’s and Peninah’s intentions were for the sake of Heaven. The Adversary, when he saw the blessed Holy One inclined to [favor] Job said, ‘Perish the thought that He should forget the passion of Abraham!’ Of Peninah it is written, And her rival would torment her sorely so as to provoke her [(to prayer) because YHWH had closed her womb] (1 Samuel 1:6). When Rav Aḥa son of Ya’aqov expounded [this teaching] in Papunia, the Adversary came and kissed his feet.

With all this, Job did not offend with his lips (Job 2:10)—Rava said: With his lips he did not offend, but he did offend within his heart. What did he say? The earth is given in the wicked man’s hand, the face of its judges He veils. If not He—then who else? (ibid. 9:24). Rava said: Job sought to turn the dish [i.e., the world] upside down. Abayye said: Job was referring only to the Adversary” (BT Bava Batra 16a).

“[Bewildering and beguiling,] the Adversary dances among them” (BT Megilah 11b, cf. BT Berakhot 33a; Pesaḥim 112b).

“What is And they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they encamped there by the water (Exodus 15:27)? What is so great about seventy date palms? In one of the smallest spots there are a thousand! But they were worthy of being their example, and there they were likened to date palms, as is written, And they came to Marah and could not drink water from מָרָה (marah), Marah, for they were מָרִים (marim), bitter (ibid., 23). Teaching that a מַעֲרָבִית (ma’aravit), western, wind was preventing [them], as is written, And he cried out to YHWH, and YHWH showed him a tree, and he flung it into the water, and the water turned sweet (ibid., 25)—immediately the blessed Holy One laid His hand upon the Adversary, diminishing him a bit, as is written, There did He set him a statute and law, and there did he test Him (ibid.). Teaching that at this time, the Adversary clung to them in order to blot them out from the world [cf. JT Shabbat 5:2, 7b: ‘The Adversary accuses only in a time of danger’], as is written, And the people murmured against Moses, saying ‘What shall we drink?’ (ibid., 24), continuing to accuse Moses until he cried out to YHWH, and YHWH showed him a tree. YHWH showed him a tree—why? To teach that the Tree of Life was around the water. The Adversary came and removed it from there in order to accuse Israel and cause them to offend their Father in Heaven. He said to them: Now you assemble in the wilderness? Yet these [bitter] waters you take up are good, for you will be content with them, but in the wilderness you will not find [enough] even to wash your hands and faces. Then, naked, you will die of hunger and thirst, entirely in want! 

They came to Moses and told him such and such, but he dismissed them. [The Adversary] saw that he was unable to overpower Israel and Moses, and so the people came to Moses and the people murmured against Moses: Here we are without water, what is there to drink in the wilderness?—the Adversary came and feigned their words to Moses in order to cause them to offend. As soon as Moses saw the Adversary, He cried out to YHWH, and YHWH showed him a tree—the very Tree of Life the Adversary had removed. And he flung it into the water, and the water turned sweet. And the blessed Holy One came to the Adversary [with] a statute and law; and there did he test Him—Israel. And the blessed Holy One warned Israel, saying: If you really heed the voice of YHWH your God (ibid., 26) and so forth.

A parable: A king had a lovely daughter and others were lusting for her. The king knew of it but could not fight with those who exposed his daughter to bad ways. He came to his house and warned her, saying, “My daughter, give no regard to the words of these enemies and they will not be able to overcome you. Do not leave the house, but do all your work at home. Do not sit idle, even for a single moment. Then they will not be able to see you and harm you. There is a certain quality in them which departs from a good way and chooses every bad way. When they see man directing himself along a good way, they hate him.” 

And what is it? The Adversary. Teaching that the blessed Holy One has a quality whose name is רָעָה (ra’ah), Evil; and it is to the north of the blessed Holy One, as is written, From the north הָרָעָה (ha-ra’ah), evil, will be let loose on all the inhabitants of the land (Jeremiah 1:14). That is to say, any evil that comes to all the inhabitants of the land (ibid.), comes from the north.

What is this ‘certain quality’? She is the shape of a hand. She has many messengers, and the name of them all is רַע רַע (ra ra), evil! evil! Some are big and some are small, but they all bring guilt upon the world since תֹּהוּ (tohu) is on the north side. Tohu—none other than Evil, מְתָהֵה (metaheh), bewildering, inhabitants of the world until they sin. Every יֵצֶר הָרָע (yetser ha-ra), evil impulse, in man is from there. And why was he given to the left? Because he has no authority, nor any place in the world, except in the north; he is not accustomed to being anywhere except the north, he does not want to be anywhere except the north. If he remained in the south until he learned from the way of the south, how could he lead astray? He would be detained those days unable to make them miss the mark (Judges 20:16). Therefore, he is forever in the north, to the left. And this is For the יֵצֶר (yetser), devisings, of the human heart are evil from youth (Genesis 8:21)—he is evil from his youth and he does not incline other than to the left, for he is already accustomed to her. Of this the blessed Holy One said to Israel: If you really heed the voice of YHWH your God, and do what is right in His eyes, and hearken to His commands (Exodus 15:26)—not to the commands of the evil impulse; And keep all His statutes (ibid.)—not the statutes of the evil impulse [all the sickness that I put upon Egypt I will not put upon you,] for I am YHWH your healer (ibid.).

Why is the evil impulse enriched? A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king appointed officials (Esther 2:3) over his kingdom and his trade—each one had a surplus. [There was an official appointed] over the storehouses of foodstuff and goods, and one appointed over a storehouse of stones. All the world came to buy from the storehouses of goods. This one appointed over the storehouse of stones came. He saw that they were not buying from him, [and] he envied [this]. What did he do? He commanded all of his brothers to destroy the weak houses—for they were unable [to destroy] the strong ones. He said, ‘In any case, [when] you strive to destroy [one] house from among the strong ones, twenty of the weak ones will be destroyed, and they will all come and buy [stones] from me. And I will not be less than my competitor!’ Thus it is written: From the north evil will be let loose on all the inhabitants of the land (Jeremiah 1:14). It then continues, ‘For I am about to call forth all the clans of the kingdoms of the north,’ says YHWH,’ and they shall come and each set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem [and against its walls all round and against all the towns of Judah] (ibid., 15). Evil will be a trade to her, also the evil impulse strives perpetually [cf. Genesis 6:5]. And what is the import of שָׂטָן (satan), ‘adversary’? Satan, adversary—in other words מֻטֶּה (mutteh), skewed justice (Ezekiel 9:9); that מַטֶּה (matteh), he tips, the world toward the scale of guilt. And it is written, וַיֵּט (Va-yet), And he turned aside, to her by the road, [and said, ‘Here, pray, let me come to bed with you…’](Genesis 38:16), and it is translated, וּסְטָא (u-seta), and he turned aside, to her. And it is written, שְׂטֵה (Seteh), turn away, from him and pass on (Proverbs 4:15)” (Bahir §§107–110).