The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: בַּר נַפְלֵי

Just as Big Fish Swallow Up Small Fish

Talmud Teacher

Tanna’im and Amora’im, you come from the aspect of the qualities of the blessed Holy One. You have labored much to purify my daughter the Halakhah [Malkhut] from the husks of the mixed multitude, which are the evil questions that cannot be interpreted or explained away. Of them it says: The crooked cannot תְקֹן (teqon), turn, straight nor can the lack be counted (Ecclesiastes 1:15). But תִּיקוּ (tiqu), ‘It is undecided,’ applies to them [a phrase employed in the Gemara and interpreted as an acronym: תִּשְׁבִּי יְתָרֵץ קֻשְׁיוֹת וְאִבַּעְיוֹת (Tishbi yetarets qushyot ve-iba’eyot), the Tishbite (i.e., Elijah) will resolve difficult questions and problems]. Anything undecided concerning a prohibition is handled as a stricture. It is a תִּיקּוּן (tiqqun), correction, without final ן (nun), [indicating] it can not be corrected, since it lacks final ן (nun), which is the World that is Coming [namely, Binah and Her ן״ (fifty) gates]. For תִּיקוּ (tiqu), undecided, in the World that is Coming is שְׁתִיקָה (shetiqah), silence, as in ‘שְׁתוֹק (shetoq), Silence! For so it arose in thought.’

There are questions that are the garments of the Halakhah of which it says filigree of gold—as is written: All the princess’s treasure is pearls, filigree of gold her raiment. [In embroidered stuff she is led to the king, maidens in train, her companions] (Psalms 45:14). You [Amorai’m], cut into several legal sentences and later fix and explain them away using various arguments.

If one chapter of the Mishnah is missing, and it has been maintained that something is missing from the Mishnah, you מְתַקְּנִין (me-taqqnin), repair it. [For example, where it is stated in the Gemara: ‘A clause has been omitted, for this is the way we have learned it’] such is a lack that can be counted. If a simpleton comes and spreads an evil report of the craftsman that cuts the garments, saying: The Torah is lacking, yet, it is written: The תּוֹרַת (torat), teaching, of YHWH is perfect (Psalms 19:8). Perfect—in all the members of the body, the 248 positive decrees, as is written: You are all beautiful, my love, and there is no flaw in you (Song of Songs 4:7); perfect—in Her garments. How can anything be lacking in the Mishnah?

Say to him: Look carefully and find the [missing] piece. You may find it mixed with other verses and Mishnahyot [meaning, it is the custom of Torah to be lacking in one place and abundant in another], for it is the way of the craftsman to cut garments into several pieces [and that which is missing in one place is filled out in another]. The disciples, inexperienced in connecting the Halakhah to those pieces confuse the sentences and questions, and cannot explain the dilemmas until the craftsman comes and explains all the doubts they have. At that time, Halakhah, the princess [Malkhut], rises before the King, perfect in everything, in body, garments and jewelry. And in it is fulfilled: And I will see it, to remember the everlasting covenant (Genesis 9:16). Sometimes the craftsman has an experienced disciple whom he sends to correct them.

They all rose and said: Faithful Shepherd, surely you are the craftsman, for it says of you, ‘Moses received the Torah at Sinai’ (M Avot 1:1). From that time onward, everyone is your disciple, from Joshua to the end of all generations. This is what we learned, that he ‘handed it on to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets; [and the prophets handed it on to the men of the Great Assembly]’ to the end of all (ibid.). And who is your skilled disciple? We see that it has been said to let everything wait until Elijah comes” (Zohar 3:27b, Ra’aya Meheimna Tsav).

“We learned that fish and locusts do not require [ritual] slaughter [in order to be eaten, rather, it is their gathering which makes them permissible, see BT Ḥullin 27b]. Such are the Masters of Mishnah. They are consumed without slaughter [by the Angel of Death]. It says of them, And was gathered to his kinfolk (Genesis 49:33). Like fish of the sea live in the sea, so do the disciples of sages and Masters of Mishnah live in the sea—if they are separated from Torah they immediately die. תַּנִּינָא דְּמַתְנִיתִין (Tannina de-matnitin), Rehearser of Mishnah, wherein proliferate תַנִינֵי יַמָּא (taninei yamma), sea monsters. If those [beasts] who live on dry land [i.e., those without Torah and mitsvot] fall into the water but cannot swim they die. However, [only] the Masters of Kabbalah who are above all are אָדָם (adam), human [and know how to tread deep water, i.e., the sea of Torah and Her hidden depths, cf. BT Bava Metsi’a 114b; Keritot 6b]. Of them it says Hold sway over the fish of the sea and the fowl of the heavens (Genesis 1:26), who are מָארֵי מַתְנִיתִין תַּנִּינָיָּא (marei Matnitin tanninayya), Masters of Mishnah—sea monsters [who prey on small fish]. הַתַּנִּינִם הַגָּדוֹל (Ha-tanninim ha-gadol), the great sea monster (Genesis 1:21), is the נָחָשׁ בָּרִחַ (naḥash bariaḥ), fleeing serpent (Isaiah 27:1), corresponding to: וְהַבְּרִיחַ (ve-ha-beriaḥ), and the crossbar, in the middle board [shall מַבְרִחַ (maberiaḥ), shoot through, from end to end] (Exodus 26:28).

When תַּנִּינִם (tanninim), sea monsters [punning on תַּנָּאִים (tanna’im), Rehearsers]—the Masters of Mishnah—have a disagreement among them, asking each other difficult questions, [one then] swallows his colleague [as large fish swallow small fish]. This refers to a disciple unqualified to teach who teaches, which is punishable by death [cf. BT Sotah 22a: ‘Rav said, What is the meaning of the verse Many are those she has struck dead, numerous are her slain (Proverbs 7:26)? Many are those she has struck dead—this refers to a disciple unqualified to teach [to decide questions of law] who teaches. Numerous are her slain—this refers to a disciple qualified to teach who does not’; Zohar 1:5a; 3:84b–85b]. But if they are matched [both being big fish] and have an argument or difficulty, it says of them in the end, וָהֵב בְּסוּפָה (waheb be-sufah), against Waheb in a whirlwind (Numbers 21:14), which has been interpreted: אַהֲבָה בְּסוֹפָהּ (ahava be-sofah), love at its end (BT Qiddushin 30b) [cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 6a].

In the meantime a נוּנָא רַבָּא (nuna rabba), great fish, came [namely, Rav Hamnuna Saba], saying, ‘[Moses] Faithful Shepherd, אֵיתָן (etan), Staunch, is your settlement, and set in the rock your nest (Numbers 24:21). [The תַּנָּאִים (tanna’im), Rehearsers, say] תַּנְיָ (tanya), ‘It was taught‘ [and this] assists you because the fish have their nest in the Rock [Malkhut]. אֵיתָן (Eitan), staunch, is [the letters of] תַּנְיָ (tanya), ‘It was taught,’ rearranged; אֵתָנִים (etanim), Mighty (Job 12:19), is [the letters of] תַּנָּאִים (tanna’im), Rehearsers, rearranged. Beware of them, because you are heavy-mouthed and heavy-tongued (Exodus 4:10). And whoever wishes to attack the fish of the sea in the Rock—Masters of Mishnah, the תַּנָּאִים (Tanna’im)—needs to be fierce and of a sharp and polished tongue to bore to the great abyss which lies there.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end he shall speak, and not lie: [though he tarries, wait for him; because he will surely come, he will not delay] (Habakkuk 2:3). It has been explained ‘This verse pierces and descends to the very abyss’ (BT Sanhedrin 97b). Who is it that shall descend to the great abyss to find that time [of the End] but You, of whom it says, Your justice like the unending mountains, Your judgment, the great abyss (Psalms 36:7). Many Masters of Mishnah wanted to penetrate the depth of Halakhah to find there the time of the coming of redemption, but went down and did not come up [הֲלָכָה (halakhah), ‘ways of conduct,’ alludes to הַכַּלָה (ha-kalah), the Bride, i.e., Malkhut, Shekhinah]. Though their tongue was Like a hammer that shatters the rock in pieces (Jeremiah 23:29), their hammer was too weak and could not penetrate that Rock [to discover the End]. Whoever penetrates that Rock without permission, a serpent will come to bite him; others bore into Her until they reach the great abyss but do not come up from there [cf. Ecclesiastes 10:8: He who digs a pit will fall in it, and he who breaches a wall, a snake will bite him].’ …

And you [Moses, Faithful Shepherd] aid yourself by תַּנְיָא (tanya), ‘it was taught,’ more than all of them, since you are the Leviathan of the sea of Torah. For the master of all fishes is called לִוְיָתָן (Livyatan), Leviathan, named after Torah, of which it says, For they are a לִוְיַת (livyat), garland of grace, on your head (Proverbs 1:9). Because of you Man and beast YHWH rescues (Psalms 36:7). Man—of him it has been said [The Torah (is maintained by)] a man who dies in a tent (Numbers 19:14), and the Masters of Mishnah have taught that Torah does not remain except for one who kills himself for Her, and death is only poverty [cf. M Avot 6:4; BT Tamid 32a: ‘What shall a man do to live? Let him kill himself. What should a man do to kill himself? Let him keep himself alive’]. Beast—the ignorant, who are submissive like horses and mules to the Masters of Mishnah” (Zohar 3:278a–80b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

The Footsteps of Messiah

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“Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan: All the prophets prophesied only for the days of Messiah, but as for the world to come, No eye has seen God besides You. [He acts for those who wait for Him] (Isaiah 64:3). But they part ways with Shemu’el, as Shemu’el said: There is no difference between this world and the days of Messiah except subjugation to [foreign] kingdoms, as is said: For the pauper will not cease from the midst of the land (Deuteronomy 15:11)” (BT Berakhot 34b).

“[Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Zakkai used to say,] ‘If you have a sapling in your hand, and it is said to you, ‘Behold, there is the Messiah’—go on with your planting, and afterward go out and receive him” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan B, 31).

“Rabbi Naḥman said to Rabbi Yitsḥaq: ‘Have you heard when Bar Nafli will come?’ ‘Who is Bar Nafli?’ he asked. ‘Messiah,’ he replied. ‘Do you call Messiah Bar Nafli?’ [בַּר נַפְלֵי (bar nafli), Stillborn (lit., Son of the Fallen), is numerically equivalent to בֵּן יִשָׁי (ben yishai), Son of Jesse, cf. BT Shabbat, 55a; Zohar 3:215a (RM)].

He said, ‘Even so, as is written, On that day I will raise up הַנֹּפֶלֶת (ha-nofelet), the fallen, shelter of David (Amos 9:11). He replied, ‘Thus Rabbi Yoḥanan said: In the generation when the Son of David will come, disciples of the Sages will dwindle, and as for the rest, their eyes will fail through sorrow and grief. Multitudes of trouble and evil decrees will be promulgated anew, each new evil coming with haste before the other has ended.’

Our Rabbis taught: The seventh [שְׁמִטָה (shemittah), year of release] at the end of which the Son of David comes—in the first year, this verse will be fulfilled: And I rained on one town but on another town did not rain (Amos 4:7); in the second, arrows of hunger will be sent forth; in the third, a great famine, in the course of which men, women, and children, devout men, and men on whose behalf miracles occur, will die, and Torah will be forgotten by her disciples; in the fourth, plenty and no plenty; in the fifth, great plenty, when men will eat, drink and rejoice, and Torah will return to her disciples; in the sixth, קוֹלוֹת (qolot), sounds [either heavenly voices announcing the advent of Messiah, or the blasts of the great shofar, see Isaiah 27:13]; in the seventh, wars; and at the conclusion of the seventh Son of David will come. Rabbi Yosef said: But so many sevenths have passed, yet he has not come! Abbaye said: Were there then sounds in the sixth and wars in the seventh? Moreover, have they transpired in this order?

As Your enemies reviled Your anointed one’s footsteps (Psalms 89:52). It has been taught, Rabbi Yehudah said: In the generation when the Son of David comes, the meeting place [of the Sages] will become a whorehouse, the Galilee will be destroyed, the highland [Bashan] will be desolate, the border people will wander from city to city and none will show them mercy, the wisdom of scribes will stink, sin‑fearing people will be detested, the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog, and truth will be missing, as is written, And truth is not to be found, who turns from evil is despoiled (Isaiah 59:15). What is And truth נֶעְדֶּרֶת (ne’edderet), is not to be found? The academy of Rav said: This teaches that it will be like עֳדָרִים (adarim), flocks, and depart. What is who turns from evil מִשְׁתּוֹלֵל (mishtolel), is despoiled? The academy of Rav Shila said: He who turns aside from evil will be מִשְׁתּוֹלֵל (mishtolel), made barefoot, by the people [i.e., deemed insane, cf. Micah 1:8: For this would I lament and would wail, I would go שׁוֹלָל (sholal), naked, and bare. I would raise a lament like the jackals and mourning like the ostriches].

Rava said: At first I would say that there is no truth in the world. Whereupon one of the Rabbis, Rav Tavut is his name—others say, Rav Tavyomei—who, even if he were given all the treasures of the world, would not lie, told me that he once came to a place called קוּשְׁטָא (qushta), Truth, in which no one ever told lies, and where no man ever died before his time. Now, he married one of their women, by whom he had two sons. One day his wife was sitting and washing her hair, when a neighbor came and knocked at the door. Thinking to himself that it would not be proper [to tell the neighbor that his wife was washing herself], he called out, ‘She is not here.’ [As a punishment for this] his two sons died. Then people of that town came to him and questioned him, ‘What is the cause of this?’ So he told them what had happened. They said to him, ‘Leave, pray, this town, and do not incite Death against these men [i.e., us].’

It has been taught: Rabbi Nehorai said: In the generation when Messiah comes, young men will insult the old, and old men will stand before the young; daughters will rise up against their mothers, and daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law [see Micah 7:6]. The face of the generation will be like the face of a dog, and a son will not be humble before his father.

It has been taught, Rabbi Neḥemiah said: In the generation of Messiah’s coming impudence will increase, and the cost [of living] will corrupt [people, making them thieves], the vine will give its fruit but wine will be costly [or: scarce], and the kingdom will turn to sectarianism, and there will be no rebuke [a prediction of the conversion of Rome to Christianity under Constantine the Great in 313 C.E.]. This supports Rabbi Yitsḥaq, who said: Son of David will not come until the entire kingdom turns to sectarianism. Rava said: What is the verse? If the skin blanch has covered his whole body, he shall declare the affliction clean (Leviticus 13:13) [when all are heretics, it is a sign that the world is about to be made clean by the advent of Messiah].

Our Rabbis taught: Yes, YHWH champions His people, for His servants He shows change of heart when He sees that power is gone, no ruler or helper remains (Deuteronomy 32:36):  Son of David will not come until traitors are in abundance [Israel will be at the mercy of traitors]. Another interpretation: Until disciples of the Sages are few. Another interpretation: until the [last] perutah has gone from the purse. Another interpretation: Until the redemption is despaired of, as is written, no ruler or helper remains, as—were it possible [to say so]—Israel had neither Supporter nor Helper. Even as Rabbi Zera, who, whenever he happened upon rabbis engaging [in calculating the time of the Messiah’s coming], would say to them: I beg of you, do not postpone it, for it has been taught: Three come unawares: Messiah, a found article, and a scorpion.

Rav Qattina said: A world is six thousand years, and one is desolate, as is written, And YHWH alone shall be raised high on that day (Isaiah 2:11). Abbaye said: It is desolate two, 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) [see Rabbi David ben Yehudah he-Ḥasid, Sefer Mar’ot Ha-Tsove’ot, 106:13].

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

The Tanna debe Eliyyahu teaches: A world is six thousand years: two thousand תֹּהוּ (tohu), chaos; two thousand תּוֹרָה (torah), Law; two thousand years the days of Messiah.

Elijah said to Rav Yehudah, the brother of Rav Sala the Devout: ‘The world is not less than eighty-five jubilees, and in the last jubilee the Son of David will come.’ He asked him, ‘At the beginning or at the end?’ He replied, ‘I do not know.’ ‘Shall this [period] be completed or not?’ ‘I do not know,’ he answered. Rav Ashi said: He said this to him, ‘Before that, do not lookout for him; afterwards lookout for him.’

Rav Ḥanan son of Taḥlifa sent [word] to Rabbi Yosef: I once met a man who possessed a scroll written in Hebrew in Assyrian characters. I said to him: ‘How did this come to you?’ He replied, ‘I hired myself as a mercenary in the Roman army, and found it amongst the Roman archives. In it is stated that 4,291 years after Creation the world will be orphaned. [As to the years following,] some of them will be spent in the war of the great sea monsters, and some in the war of Gog and Magog, and the remaining [period] will be the era of Messiah, whilst the blessed Holy One, will renew His world only after seven thousand years.’ Rabbi Abba the son of Rabba said: The statement was after five thousand years.

It has been taught: Rabbi Natan said: This verse pierces and descends to the very abyss: For there is yet a vision for the appointed time and a witness for the end who is not false (Habakkuk 2:3). Not as our Rabbis, who interpreted, for a season, a season, and a half-season (Daniel 7:25) [i.e., two and a half years]; nor as Rabbi Simlai who expounded, You fed them bread of tears and made them drink triple measure of tears (Psalms 80:6); nor as Rabbi Akiva who expounded, Soon I will shake the heavens and the earth [and the sea and the dry land] (Haggai 2:6): but the first dynasty [namely, the Hasmonean] shall last seventy years, the second [the Herodian], fifty two, and the reign of Bar Koziva two and a half years [the verses cited from Daniel, Psalms, and Haggai were interpreted so as to give a definite date for the advent of the Messiah. Rabbi Natan however, on the authority of Habakkuk 2:3, asserts that all such calculations are false. The three verses refer to the Hasmonean, Herodian, and Bar Koziba’s reign, but the advent of Messiah is unknowable (Rashi)].

What is [For there is yet a vision for the appointed time] וְיָפֵחַ (ve-yafe’aḥ), and a witness, for the end who is not false (Habakkuk 2:3)? Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan: תִּיפָּח (Tippaḥ), blasted, be the bones of those who calculate the end [cf. Rabbi Hillel Rivlin of Shklov in the name of the Gaon of Vilna, Qol ha-Tor 4:2]. For they would say, since the predetermined time has arrived, and yet he has not come, he will never come. But [even so], wait for him, as is written, Though he tarries, wait for him (ibid.). Should you say, ‘We await [his coming] but He does not [come]’: therefore Scripture says, And therefore YHWH shall wait to grant you grace, and therefore He shall rise to show you mercy, [for a God of justice is YHWH] (Isaiah 30:18). But since we look forward to it, as does He, what delays [his coming]? The quality of Justice delays it [because we are not yet worthy]. But since the quality of Justice delays it, why do we await it? To be rewarded [for hoping], as is written, Happy all who wait for Him (Isaiah 30:18).

Abbaye said: The world must contain not less than thirty-six righteous men in each generation who receive the Shekhinah’s countenance, as is written, Happy all who wait for Him; לוֹ (lo), for Him, is numerically equivalent to thirty-six. But that is not so, for did not Rava say: The row [of righteous men immediately] before the blessed Holy One consists of eighteen thousand parasangs, as is written, All around it is eighteen thousand [cubits] (Ezekiel 48:35)? That is no difficulty: the former number [of thirty-six] refers to those who see Him through a speculum that shines, the latter to those who contemplate him through a speculum that does not shine [cf. BT Yevamot 49b; Zohar 1:33b, 49b, 183a; 2:23b]. But are there that many? Did not Ḥizkiyyah say in the name of Rabbi Yirmeyah on the authority of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai: I have seen the supernal sons, and they are but few. If there are a thousand, I and my son are included; if a hundred, I and my son are included; and if only two, they are myself and my son?—there is no difficulty: the former number [of thirty-six] refers to those who enter [within to see the Shekhinah] with permission; the latter [uncertain number] to those who may enter without permission.

Rav said: All the ‘ends’ have passed, and the matter depends only on repentance and good deeds. But Shemu’el said: It is enough for a mourner to endure his mourning. As the Tannaim [say]: Rabbi Eli’ezer says: If Israel do repentance, they will be redeemed; and if not, they will not be redeemed. Rabbi Yehoshu’a said to him: If they do not do repentance, will they not be redeemed! Only the blessed Holy One will set up a king over them, whose decrees will be as harsh as Haman’s, whereby Israel shall do repentance, and he will restore them back to better [ways]. Another [baraita] taught: Rabbi Eli’ezer said: If Israel repent, they will be redeemed, as is written, Turn back, rebellious children—I will heal your rebellion (Jeremiah 3:22) [cf. Zohar 1:178a]. Rabbi Yehoshu’a said to him: But is it not written, For nothing were you sold and for no silver shall you be redeemed (Isaiah 52:3)? For nothing were you sold—for idolatry; and for no silver shall you be redeemed—without repentance and good deeds. Rabbi Eli’ezer said to Rabbi Yehoshu’a, But is it not written, Turn back to Me, that I may turn back to you (Malachi 3:7). Rabbi Yehoshu’a said: But is it not written, [Turn back, rebellious sons, said YHWH,] for I have claimed possession of you and have taken you, one from a town and two from a clan, and brought you to Zion (Jeremiah 3:14)? Rabbi Eli’ezer replied, But it is written, In quite and stillness you shall be rescued (Isaiah 30:15). Rabbi Yehoshu’a replied, But is it not written, Thus said YHWH, Israel’s Redeemer, its Holy One, to the despised one, reviled by nations, to the slave of rulers. Kings shall see and rise, princes, and bow down, [for the sake of YHWH, who is faithful, Israel’s Holy One who has chosen you] (ibid. 49:7)? Rabbi Eli’ezer said, But is it not written, If you turn back, Israel, said YHWH, to Me you shall turn back (Jeremiah 4:1)? Rabbi Yehoshu’a answered, But is it not written, [Until when is the wondrous end?] 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 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 (Daniel 12:7)? At this Rabbi Eli’ezer remained silent.

Rabbi Abba also said: You have no more explicit [sign of] end than this, as is written, And you, O mountains of Israel, you shall put forth your branches, and bear your fruit for My people Israel, [for soon shall they come] (Ezekiel 36:8). Rabbi El’azar said: Than this too, as is written, For before these days the wages of man was naught and the wages of beast was nothing, and for him coming and going there was no peace from the foe, [and I set each man against his fellow] (Zechariah 8:9) [cf. Psalms 118:5].  What is, and for him coming and going there was no peace from the foe? Rav said: Even for disciples of the Sages, concerning whom peace is written: Great well-being to the lovers of Your teaching (Psalms 119:165), ‘There will be no peace on account of the foe.’ Shemu’el said, ‘Until all הַשַׁעַרִים (ha-sha’arim), prices, are equal [(Rashi), cf. Maharsha who reads and for him coming and going there was no peace (Zechariah 8:10), with who enters through the northern שַׁעַר (sha’ar), gate, to bow down shall go out through the southern gate… and he shall not go back through the gate by which he entered (Ezekiel 46:9)—until all gates are alike, i.e., all people, whether entering or leaving the Temple—an idiom denoting ‘without exception’—will suffer].’

Rabbi Ḥanina said: Son of David will not come until a fish is sought for an invalid and cannot be procured, as is written, Then will I sink their waters and lead their rivers like oil (Ezekiel 32:14), whilst it is written, On that day I will make a horn sprout for the house of Israel, [and to you I will give freedom to speak in their midst, and they shall know that I am YHWH] (ibid. 29:21).

Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥanina said: Son of David will not come until even the הַזָלָה (hazalah), pettiest, kingdom ceases from Israel, as is written, [For before the harvest, when the blossom is gone, and the berry has ripened, becomes the bloom,] He shall cut away הַזַּלְזַלִּים (ha-zalzallim), twigs, with pruning hooks, lop off, take away the slack branches (Isaiah 18:5); and this is followed by, All that time tribute shall be brought to YHWH of Armies from a rangy and smooth-skinned people [from beyond, a gibberish nation, and sowing defeat…] (ibid., 7).

Ze’iri said in Rabbi Ḥanina’s name: Son of David will not come until there are no proud men in Israel, as is written, For then will I remove from your midst those merry with your pride, [and no longer shall you be haughty on My holy mountain] (Zephaniah 3:11), which is followed by, And I will leave in your midst a poor and lonely people, and they shall shelter in YHWH ‘s name (ibid., 12).

Rabbi Simlai said in the name of Rabbi El’azar, son of Rabbi Shim’on: Son of David will not come until all judges and officers are gone from Israel, as is written, And bring My hand back upon you and take away all your dross and bring back your judges as before your councillors as long ago. [Then shall you be called town of righteousness, faithful city] (Isaiah 1:25–26).

‘Ulla said: Jerusalem shall be redeemed only by צְדָקָה (tsedaqah), charity, as is written, Zion shall be redeemed through justice, and those who turn back in her, through tsedaqah, righteousness (ibid., 27).

Rav Papa said: When the haughty cease to exist [in Israel] the magi shall cease [among the Persians]; when the judges cease to exist [in Israel], the royal officers shall likewise cease. ‘When the haughty cease to exist, the magi shall also cease,’ as is written, And bring My hand back upon you and take away all your dross. ‘When the judges cease to exist, the royal officials shall likewise cease,’ as is written, YHWH has set aside your judgments, removed your enemy (Zephaniah 3:15).

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: When you see a generation ever dwindling, lookout for him, as is written, A lowly people You rescue (2 Samuel 22:28). Rabbi Yoḥanan said: When you see a generation overwhelmed by many troubles as by a river, lookout him, as is written, [And they shall fear from the west YHWH’s name, and from the sun’s rising His glory.] For He shall come like a pent-up river, for YHWH’s breath drives it on (Isaiah 59:19); which is followed by, And a redeemer shall come to Zion (ibid., 20).

Rabbi Yoḥanan also said: Son of David will come only in a generation that is either altogether righteous or altogether wicked. ‘In a generation that is altogether righteous,’ as is written, And Your people, all of them righteous, shall forever possess the land, [the shoot I have planted, My handiwork in which to glory] (Isaiah 60:21). ‘Or altogether wicked,’ as is written, And He saw that there was no man, and He was appalled, for none intervened (ibid. 59:16); and it is [elsewhere] written, For My sake, for My sake, I do it, [for how could I be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another] (ibid. 48:11).

Rabbi Alexandri said: Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi pointed out a contradiction. It is written, In his due time (Isaiah 60:22), while it is also written, I will hasten him (ibid.). I will hasten him—if they are worthy: if not, In his due time [cf. Zohar 1:116b ad loc.]. Rabbi Alexandri said: Rabbi Yehoshu’a opposed two verses: It is written, And, look, with the clouds of the heavens one like a human being [was coming] (Daniel 7:13) while [elsewhere] it is written, [Look, your king shall come to you…] a lowly man riding on an ass (Zechariah 9:9)—if they are worthy, [he shall come] with the clouds of the heavens [i.e., swiftly (Rashi)]; if not, a lowly man riding on an ass. King Shapur said to Shemu’el, ‘You say Messiah shall come on an ass: I will rather send him a white horse of mine.’ He replied, ‘Do you have a multi-colored one? [since the ass of King Messiah will be miraculous].’

Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi met Elijah at the opening of the cave of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai. He asked him: ‘Do I have a portion in the world to come?’ He said, ‘If this lord desires.’ Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said, ‘I saw two, but heard the voice of a third [namely, the Shekhinah (Rashi)].’ He then asked him, ‘When will the Messiah come?’ ‘Go and ask him himself,’ he replied. ‘Where is he sitting?’ ‘At the portal of the city [of Rome (Gra)].’ And by what sign may I recognize him?’ ‘He is sitting among the ill, poor, and suffering: everyone of them untie all at once and rebandage them together, whereas he unties and rebandages each separately [before treating the next], thinking, should I be wanted, I must not be delayed [by having to bandage a number of sores].’ So he went to him and greeted him, saying, ‘Peace be upon you, Rabbi and Teacher.’ ‘Peace be upon you son of Levi,’ he replied. He asked, ‘When will you come Master?’ ‘Today,’ he said. On his returning to Elijah, he asked, ‘What did he say to you?’ ‘Peace be upon you son of Levi,’ he answered. Thereupon he [Elijah] said, ‘He thereby assured you and your father of [a portion in] the world to come.’ ‘He spoke a lie to me, saying that he would come today, but has not.’ [Elijah] answered him, ‘This is what he said to you, “Today,” if you would only heed His voice!’ (Psalms 95:7).

The disciples of Rabbi Yose son of Qisma asked him, ‘When will Messiah come?’ He answered, ‘I fear lest you demand a sign of me.’ They assured him, ‘We will not demand a sign of you.’ So he answered them, ‘When this gate falls down, is rebuilt, falls again, and is again rebuilt, and then falls a third time, before it can be rebuilt Son of David will come’ [the gate of Caesarea Philippi, the home of Rabbi Yose. Its fall would be a symbol of the destruction of the Roman power by the Parthians]. They said to him, ‘Rabbi, give us a sign.’ He protested, ‘Did you not assure me that you would not demand a sign?’ They replied, ‘Nevertheless.’ He said to them, ‘If so, let the waters of the cave of Paneas turn into blood;’ and they turned into blood. When he lay dying he said to them, ‘Place my coffin deep down, for there is not one palm-tree in Babylon to which a Persian horse will not be tethered, nor one coffin in the land of Israel out of which a Median horse will not eat straw’ [this was a forecast of the future. Babylon and the land of Israel would be overrun with Persians, Medes and Parthians and their horses would dig up the dead, whose coffins would serve as cribs].

Rav said: Son of David will not come until the [Roman] kingdom spreads over Israel for nine months, as is written, Therefore shall He give them over till the time the woman in labor bears her child, and the rest of his brothers shall come back with the Children of Israel (Micah 5:2).

‘Ulla said: Let him come, but let me not see him. Rabbah said likewise: Let him come, but let me not see him. Rav Yosef said: Let him come, and may I be worthy of sitting in the shadow of his donkey’s dung. Abbaye enquired of Rabbah: ‘What is your reason? Shall we say, because of the birth pangs of Messiah? But it has been taught, Rabbi El’azar’s disciples asked him: ‘What must a man do to be spared the pangs of the Messiah?’ ‘Let him engage in Torah and rendering kindness; and you Master do both.’ He replied: ‘Lest an offence cause it, in accordance with [the teaching of] Rabbi Ya’aqov son of Idi, who raised a difficulty: And, look, I am with you and I will guard you wherever you go (Genesis 28:15): but it is written, And Jacob was greatly afraid, and he was distressed (ibid. 32:7)—he was afraid lest an offence might cause [the nullification of the promise]. Even as it was taught, Till Your people crossed over, O YHWH (Exodus 15:16). This refers to the first entry [into the land of Israel]; till the people you made Yours crossed over (ibid.)—their second entry. Hence you may reason: The Children of Israel were as worthy of a miracle being performed for them at the second entry as at the first, but that offence caused it [not to happen].

Rabbi Yoḥanan said likewise: Let him come, and let me not see him. Resh Laqish said to him: Why? Shall we say, because it is written, As a man flees from a lion and a bear blocks his way, and he enters the house and leans his hand on the wall, and a snake bites him (Amos 5:19)? But come, and I will show you its like even in this world. When one goes out into the field and meets a bailiff, it is as though he had met a lion. When he enters the town, and is accosted by a tax-collector, it is as though he had met a bear. On entering his house and finding his sons and daughters in the throes of hunger, it is as though he were bitten by a snake!—but it is because it is written, Ask, pray, and see, if כָל גֶּבֶר (khal gever), a male, is giving birth. Why do I see every man, his hands on his loins like a woman in labor and every face turned sickly green? (Jeremiah 30:6). What is see a male? Rava son of Yitsḥaq said in Rav’s name: It refers to Him whom כֹּל גְּבוּרָה (kol gevurah), all might, belongs. And what is and every face turned sickly green? Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The familia on high and the familia below [i.e., Israel,] when the blessed Holy One says, These [the Gentiles] are My handiwork, and so are these [the Jews]; how shall I destroy the former on account of the latter? Rav Papa said: Thus men say, ‘When the ox runs and falls, the horse is put into his stall’ [since the horse is made to replace it, but when the ox recovers, it is difficult to remove the horse. So the Children of Israel, having fallen, were replaced in power by the Gentiles: but on their recovery, it will be difficult to remove the Gentiles from their position without inflicting much suffering].

Rav Giddel said in Rav’s name: The Jews are destined to אַכְלִי (akhli), eat, [their fill in] the years of Messiah. Rav Yosef said: Is this not obvious; who else then should eat—Ḥillaq and Billaq? [i.e., shall these years of plenty be enjoyed indiscriminately by anyone?]—to exclude Rabbi Hillel, who says: There is no Messiah for Israel, since they already אֲכָלוּהוּ (akhaluhu), devoured him, during the reign of Hezekiah.

Rav [Yehudah ha-Nasi, a descendant of David] said: The world was created only on David’s account. Shemu’el [of the tribe of Levi] said: On Moses’ account; Rabbi Yoḥanan said: For the sake of the Messiah. What is his name? The House of Rabbi Shila said: His name is Shiloh, as is written, Until שִׁילֹה (Shiloh) comes (Genesis 49:10) [—until שַׁי לוֹ (shai lo), tribute to him, come, as is written: All round Him to bring שַׁי (shai), tribute, to the Fearsome One (Psalms 76:12) (Rashi)]. The House of Rabbi Yannai said: His name is Yinnon, as is written, May his name be forever. As long as the sun may his name יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17) [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 1:4; Bahir §61, §86]. The House of Rabbi Ḥaninah said: His name is Ḥaninah, as is written, [And I will cast you from this land to a land you do not know, neither you nor your fathers, and you shall serve there other gods day and night,as I will show you no חֲנִינָה (ḥaninah), mercy (Jeremiah 16:13). Others say: His name is Menaḥem the son of Ḥizqiyah, as is written, For the מְנַחֵם (menaem), consoler, is far from me, the reviver of my failing life (Lamentations 1:16) [cf. Abarbanel, Yeshu’ot Meshio, 2:3: the initial letters of the aforementioned names spell מָשִׁיחַ (mashiaḥ), Messiah].

The Rabbis said: [The Messiah,] his name is חִיוָּורָא רַב (ḥivvara rav), Achingly White, as is written, [Despised and shunned by people, a man of sorrows and visited by illness. And like one from whom the gaze is averted, despised, and we reckoned him naught.Indeed, he has borne our illness, and our sorrows he has carried. But we had reckoned him plagued, God-stricken and tormented (Isaiah 53:4) [i.e., the Messiah is as הַמְּצֹרָע (ha-metsora), the one afflicted with skin blanch—he is called unclean and dwells outside the camp (Rashi); see Leviticus 13:45–6; BT Qiddushin 70a]. Rav Naḥman said: If he is of the living, he might be one like myself, as is written, And his leader shall be from within him (Jeremiah 30:21) [this description fits Rav Naḥman, who, as the son-in-law of the Resh Galuta, enjoyed great power and prestige]. Rav said: If he is of the living, it would be our holy Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi]; if of the dead, he [would have been] like Daniel, the [most] beloved man. Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: The blessed Holy One will raise up another David for them, as is written, But they shall serve YHWH their God and David their king whom I will raise up for them (ibid., 9): not הַקִים (haqim), I raised up, but אָקִים (aqim), I will raise up. Rav Papa said to Abbaye: But it is written, And My servant David shall be נָשִׂיא (nasi), prince, over them evermore (Ezekiel 37:25) [and prince is a lower title than king!]—such as caesar and little caesar [i.e., the second David will be king, and the former David will be his viceroy].

Rabbi Simlai expounded: What is Woe, who long for the day of YHWH! Why should you need the day of YHWH? It is darkness and not light (Amos 5:18)? This may be compared to a rooster and a bat who were awaiting the light [of dawn]. The rooster said to the bat, ‘I look forward to the light, because I have sight; but of what use is the light to you?’

And thus a sectarian said to Rabbi Abbahu: ‘When will Messiah come?’ He replied, ‘When darkness covers those people.’ He said, ‘You curse me?’ He replied, ‘It is but a verse: For, look, darkness covers the earth, and thick mist, the peoples, but YHWH shall shine upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you. [But nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your dawning radiance] (Isaiah 60:2).

It has been taught: Rabbi Eli’ezer said: The days of the Messiah will last forty years, as is written, Forty years I loathed a generation (Psalms 95:10). Rabbi El’azar son Azariyah said: Seventy years, as is written, And it shall happen on that day that Tyre shall be forgotten for seventy years, like the the days of a single king (Isaiah 23:15). Now, who is the single king? Messiah, of course. Rabbi said: Three generations; as is written, May they fear You as long as the sun and as long as the moon, generations untold (Psalms 72:5).

Rabbi Hillel [a brother of Yehudah II] said: There shall be no Messiah for Israel, because they already consumed him in the days of Hezekiah. Rav Yosef said: May the Master forgive him! Now, when did Hezekiah flourish? During the First Temple. Yet Zechariah, prophesying in the days of the Second Temple, proclaimed, 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).

Another [baraita] taught: Rabbi Eli’ezer said: The days of Messiah will be forty years, as is written, And He afflicted you and made you hunger and fed you the manna (Deuteronomy 8:3); and it is written, Give us joy as the days You afflicted us (Psalms 90:15). Rav Dosa said: Four hundred years. It is here written, Enslaved and afflicted four hundred years (Genesis 15:13); and it is written, Give us joy as the days You afflicted us. Rabbi said: Three hundred and sixty-five years, even as the days of the solar year, as is written, For it is vengeance day in My heart and My vindication’s year has come (Isaiah 63:4). What is For it is vengeance day in My heart? Rabbi Yoḥanan said: I have revealed to My heart, I have not revealed to My limbs. Rabbi Shim’on son of Laqish said: I have revealed to My heart, I have not revealed to the ministering angels. Avimi son of Rabbi Abbahu learned: The days of the Messiah for Israel will be seven thousand years, as is written, And a bridegroom’s rejoicing over the bride shall your God rejoice over you (ibid. 62:5) [the bridegroom’s rejoicing is seven days, and God’s day is a thousand years. Cf. Psalms 90:4: For a thousand years in Your eyes as like yesterday gone]. Rav Yehudah said in Shemu’el’s name: The days of Messiah shall endure as long as from the creation of the world until now, as is written, [So that your days be many, and the days of your sons, on the soil that YHWH swore to your fathers to give them,] as the days of the heavens over the earth (Deuteronomy 11:21). Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq said: As long as from Noah’s days until our own, as is written, For as Noah’s waters is this to Me, as I vowed (Isaiah 54:9).

Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Abba said in Rabbi Yoḥanan’s name: All the prophets prophesied [all the good things] only in respect of the days of Messiah; but as for the world that is coming [They never had seen, they never gave ear,] no eye has seen a God besides You. He acts for those who wait for Him (Isaiah 64:3). Now, he disagrees with Shemu’el, who said: This world differs from the days of Messiah only in servitude to [foreign] kingdoms” (BT Sanhedrin 96b–99a).

“Rabbi El’azar son of Rabbi Avina said: When you see the powers fighting each other, look for the footsteps of the King Messiah. The proof is that in the days of Abraham, because these powers fought against each other, greatness came to Abraham” (Bereshit Rabbah 42:4).

“Rabbi Yannai said: If you see one generation after another cursing [those engaged in Torah and mitsvot] and blaspheming [saying ‘Since the predetermined time has arrived, and yet he has not come, he will never come’ (BT Sanhedrin 97b)], look out for the coming of the Messiah, as it says, Your enemies reviled Your anointed one’s עִקְּבוֹת (iqqvot), steps (Psalms 89:52)” (Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 2:13, 4).

“Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai recounts: Rabbi Akiva would expound דָּרַךְ כּוֹכָב (darakh kokhav), a star steps forth, out of Jacob (Numbers 24:17): דָּרַךְ בָּר כּוֹכבָא (darakh bar kokhva), Bar Kokhba steps forth, out of Jacob. When Akiva would see this בַּר כָּזָב (bar kazav), son of a lie, he would say: ‘This is the King Messiah.’ Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Torta would tell him: ‘Akiva, grass shall grow from your jaws before he will appear’” (JT Ta’anit 4:8, 68d).

“Of Israel is written, And they mingled with the nations and learned their deeds (Psalms 106:35)—until they are trampled under their feet in the exile, they can not be sorted out from them. About them, David of blessed memory said, Why should I fear in evil days, when crime comes round me at עֲקֵבַי (aqevai), my heels? (Psalms 49:6). Of them Solomon said, Loveliest of women, if you lose your way, follow in the עִקְבֵי (iqvei), tracks, of the sheep (Song of Songs 1:8)—of יַעֲקֹב (Ya’aqov), Jacob. Of him is written concerning the primordial serpent who seduced Eve, He will boot your head and you will bite his עָקֵב (aqev)heel (Genesis 3:15). [But] after leaving exile, they are compared to apples and all matters of fragrance, as when they departed Egypt, as it says, Under the apple tree I awakened you (Song of Songs 8:5)” (Zohar 2:120b, Ra’aya Meheimna Mishpatim).

The Blessed Holy One Hides Him Away in the Bird’s Nest

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“Rabbi Shim’on raised his hands and wept. He said, ‘Woe to one who is present at that time, and happy is one who is present at that time! Woe to one who is present at that time, because when the blessed Holy One comes to visit the Doe, He will observe who is standing by Her—all those present with Her—examining all the actions of each and every one, and no virtuous one will be found, as is written: I looked and there was no helper (Isaiah 63:5). How many troubles upon troubles for Israel!

Happy is one who is present at that time, because whoever maintains faith will attain that radiant joy of the King. Of that time is written I will refine them as one refines silver, I will test them as one tests gold… (Zechariah 13:9).

After those troubles flare upon Israel and all kings of the nations conspire as one against them and countless evil decrees arouse—all designed alike against them—and trouble upon trouble befalls them, the later erasing all memory of the earlier [cf. BT Sanhedrin 96b], then a single column of fire will appear for forty days, poised from above to below, seen by all nations of the world.

On that day King Messiah will arouse, emerging from the Garden of Eden, from the place called Bird’s Nest, and he will arouse in the land of Galilee. On the day that he emerges there, the whole world will tremble—all inhabitants of the world hiding in caves and crevices, afraid they will not survive. Of that time is written They will enter caves in the rocks and clefts of the rocks, from fear of YHWH and the glory of His majesty, when He rises to terrify the earth (Isaiah 2:19).

From fear of YHWH—trembling of the whole world.

And the glory of His majesty—Messiah.

When He rises to terrify the earth—when he rises and reveals himself in the land of Galilee. For that was the first place in the Holy Land to be destroyed; therefore he will be revealed there first of all, and from there he will arouse wars throughout the world.

After forty days of the column standing from earth to heaven in the eyes of the whole world and the Messiah revealing himself, a single star will rise from the side of the east, flaming in all colors—and seven other stars surrounding that star, waging war with it on all sides, three times a day for seventy days, seen by all inhabitants of the world. That star will battle them with flaming missiles—flashing, sparkling in every direction—striking them; swallowing them every single evening, discharging them by day, when they wage war before the eyes of the whole world. And so on every day, for seventy days. After seventy days, that star will be hidden and Messiah will be hidden for twelve months; the column will return as before—Messiah hidden within, that column invisible.

After twelve months Messiah will be elevated within that column to heaven, where he will receive power and the crown of Kingdom. When he descends, that column of fire will be seen as before in the eyes of the whole world. Then Messiah will reveal himself, and many nations will gather round him, and he will arouse wars throughout the world. At that time the blessed Holy One will arouse His power before all nations of the world, and King Messiah will be known throughout the world, and all kings of the world will arouse to join together, waging war against him. And numerous bands of unbridled Jews will defect to their side, accompanying them to battle against King Messiah. Then the whole world will darken for fifteen days, and many of the people of Israel will die in that darkness.

He opened, saying, ‘If a bird’s nest happens to be before you on the way, in any tree or on the ground—fledglings or eggs—and the mother crouching over the fledglings or over the eggs, do not take the mother together with the children. Surely send off the mother… (Deuteronomy 22:6–7). We have established this verse [see Bahir §§104–105], and it is one of the hidden commandments of Torah [see Devarim Rabbah 6:7]. Within bellies of Torah, we possess hidden treasures—paths and ways known to the Companions, among those thirty-two paths of Torah.’

Rabbi Shim’on said to his son, Rabbi El’azar, ‘El’azar, when King Messiah arouses, countless other signs, and miracles will arise in the whole world. Come and see: In the Garden of Eden below, there is a single place hidden, concealed, unknown—embroidered with many colors; within are hidden a thousand palaces of yearning. No one enters them except Messiah, who abides constantly in the Garden of Eden.

The entire Garden is encompassed by many crowns of the righteous, and Messiah stands over countless forces and camps of souls of the righteous. On festivals and Sabbaths, Messiah enters that place and delights in all those palaces.

Within, within those palaces is another place—concealed and hidden, completely unknown, called Eden. No one is capable of knowing it [cf. Isaiah 64:4]. Messiah is hidden outside, around that place, until a place called קֵן צִפּוֹר (qen tsipor), Bird’s Nest, is revealed to him—a place proclaimed by that bird who arouses in the Garden every day.

In that place are embroidered images of all other nations who have gathered against Israel to harm them. He enters that place, raises his eyes, and sees the patriarchs entering the ruins of the House of God, until he sees Rachel, tears on her face, and the blessed Holy One comforting her—but she does not want to be comforted, as is said: She refuses to be comforted for her children (Jeremiah 31:15). Then Messiah raises his voice and weeps, and the whole Garden of Eden trembles and all those righteous ones there scream and weep [cf. Pesiqta Rabbati 36:4–6]. He screams and weeps a second time, and the heavens above the Garden tremble, along with 1,500 myriads of supernal camps, until reaching the supernal Throne. Then the blessed Holy One beckons to that bird, who enters her nest and sits by Messiah, crying what she cries, arousing what is aroused.

From within the holy Throne, that Bird’s Nest and Messiah are summoned. All elevate them above, and the blessed Holy One swears to them to eliminate the wicked kingdom from the world by the hand of Messiah and to avenge Israel—and all the goodness that the blessed Holy One intends to do for His people. Then the Bird’s Nest, with Messiah in it, returns to its place, Messiah slipping into its hiding place as before….’

A voice will burst in the branches of the trees of the Garden, calling potently: ‘Awaken, high holy ones! Rise before the Messiah! Behold, the time has come for the Doe to unite with Her Husband. And Her Husband wishes to avenge Her in the world and raise Her from the dust.’

Then they will all rise and gird him with his weapons as before, Abraham on his right, Isaac on his left, Jacob in front of him, Moses the Faithful Shepherd above all the righteous, dancing along in the Garden.

Once the Messiah is arrayed by the righteous in the Garden of Eden, he will enter that place called Bird’s Nest, as previously, and see the image of the destruction of the Temple and the many righteous who were killed there. Then he takes from there ten garments, called ‘garments of zeal,’ and hides himself there for forty days, totally unrevealed.

At the end of forty days a single voice arouses, and from the supernal Throne the Bird’s Nest is summoned along with the King Messiah hidden within. Then he is raised above, and when the blessed Holy One sees King Messiah dressed in garments of vengeance, girded with his weapons, He takes him and kisses him on the head.

Then 390 firmaments tremble. The blessed Holy One summons one of the firmaments that had been treasured away since the six days of Creation, and from one palace in that firmament He takes out a crown, engraved with holy names. With that crown the blessed Holy One was adorned when Israel crossed the sea, to take revenge on all of Pharaoh’s chariots and horsemen, and with it He crowns King Messiah. Once he is crowned and arrayed in all these adornments, the blessed Holy One takes him and kisses him as before. Who has seen holy chariots and supernal camps surrounding him, offering him so many presents and gifts, all adorning him?

He enters into one palace there and sees all the supernal angels called Mourners of Zion—those who weep over the destruction of the Temple, weeping constantly—and they give him a purple robe to wreak vengeance. Then the blessed Holy One hides him away in the Bird’s Nest, where he is concealed for thirty days [cf. Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 5:8; Rut Rabbah 5:6]. Afterward, within that bird’s nest, he will descend from above to below, arrayed in all those adornments, surrounded by countless holy camps. The whole world will see a radiance hovering between heaven and earth, persisting for seven days, and all inhabitants of the world will be astonished and confounded, totally unable to comprehend—except for the wise, who know these mysteries; happy is their share!

All those seven days, he will be adorned on earth in that bird’s nest. Where? On the way (Deuteronomy 22:6)—Rachel’s grave, for she stands at the crossroads, and he will gladden her and comfort her. Then she will let herself be comforted, and will rise and kiss him. Afterward that radiance will ascend from that place and settle upon Jericho, city of trees. In any tree (ibid.)—Jericho. Or on הָאָרֶץ (ha-arets), the land (ibid.)—Jerusalem. For twelve months he will be hidden in the radiance of the Bird’s Nest. After twelve months that radiance will extend between heaven and earth, settling upon the land of Galilee, where Israel’s exile began. There he will reveal himself from the radiance of the Bird’s Nest, which will return to its place.

On that day the whole world will tremble as before, from one end of heaven to the other, and then the whole world will know that King Messiah has been revealed in the land of Galilee. All those who study Torah assiduously will gather round him—though they are few in the world [see BT Sanhedrin 97a]—and through the merit of schoolchildren his strength will be vitalized, overpowering. This is the mystery of fledglings (Deuteronomy 22:6). And if these are not to be found, then infants sitting in their mother’s potent bosom, suckling, as is said: [Whom will he teach knowledge? To whom will he explain a message?] Those weaned from milk, taken from the breast (Isaiah 28:9)—namely, or eggs (Deuteronomy ibid.)—because for their sake Shekhinah dwells with Israel in exile, since as for the wise, few will be found at that time. Thus, and the mother crouching over עַל (al), for the sake of, the fledglings or for the sake of the eggs (ibid.).

Do not take the mother together with the children (ibid.). For the matter does not depend on him—to deliver Her from exile—but rather on the supernal King. Once these children and sucklings empower King Messiah, then supernal Mother, crouching over them, arouses toward Her Husband. For twelve more months, it will be delayed; then Her Husband will come and raise Her from the dust, as is said: I will raise the fallen booth of David (Amos 9:11)” (Zohar 2:7b–9a).

“Men of mysteries offer a pearl to their disciples, and if they do not understand the hint, it is explained to them in jest. For example, a man says that a single egg overthrew sixty villages, because the egg was dropped by a bird in the air and struck the villages. The jesters said that this is not what he meant, but that a man wrote [a note saying] ‘sixty villages’ and the egg dropped by the bird effaced ‘sixty villages.’ But perish the thought that Masters of Torah should say jocular or trivial things in Torah [see BT Bekhorot 57b: ‘Once the egg of a bar yokhani fell and its contents swamped sixteen cities and destroyed three hundred cedar trees. But does it actually cast the egg? Is it not written: The ostrich’s wing joyously beats (Job 39:13)?—the egg was a rotten one’]!

And they taught: Fledglings—Masters of Mishnah. Or eggs—Masters of Scripture. And just as נָפַל (nafal), falling, from that נִפּוֹל (nipol), young bird, He is called, בַּר נַפְלֵי (Bar Nafli), Son of the Fallen [alluding to נֵפֶל (nefel), stillborn (Psalms 58:9; Job 3:16)]. For the the egg [Malkhut] falls, which is like a אֶתְרוֹג (etrog), citron, as it is the same size as an egg, and of Her it is said: I will raise הַנֹּפֶלֶת (ha-nofelet), the fallen, booth of David (Amos 9:11). And with Her fell sixty queens [i.e., the six lower sefirot each of which contains ten (Sullam)] (Song of Songs 6:8), since they are כְּרִיכִין (kerikhin), bound, with Her. It has the same sense as in, ‘How they did כּוֹרְכִין (korkhin), bind, the Shema [i.e., recitation of Shema without pausing between phrases]’ (BT Pesaḥim 56a), and these correspond to the sixty tractates [of Mishnah]. And young women beyond number (ibid.); maidens in train, her companions (Psalms 45:15), which are הֲלָכוֹת (halakhot), rulings, without number.

And that נִיפּוֹל (nipol), young bird, is the בֶּן יָהּ (Ben Yah), Son of God [Ze’eir Anpin], he is within the Fifty Gates of בִינָה (Binah), Understanding, namely יָהּ (Yah), God—י״ (ten) times ה״ (five) [cf. BT Rosh ha-Shanah 38b; Nedarim 38a]. ו (Vav) is a נִיפּוֹל (nipol), young bird, because He fell, as it is said: How are you fallen from the heavens, O bright star, son of the dawn! (Isaiah 14:12). He is called נִיפּוֹל (nipol), ‘young bird,’ but not נָפַל (nafal), falling, and not נוֹפֵל (nofel), falls [since it is not Him who falls but Malkhut who falls from Him]. י ו (Yod, vav)—He descends through them [in order to raise] ה ה (he, he) [upper and lower] Malkhut, of whom it is said: And the two of them went (Ruth 1:19). It is also written: You shall surely send off [lit., sending off, you shall send off] (Deuteronomy 22:7)—the first [sending off] is the First Temple. The second [you shall send off] the Second Temple, in order to raise them up, as is written: יִשְׂמְחוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְתָגֵל הָאָרֶץ (Yismeḥu ha-shamayim ve-tagel ha-arets)Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exalt [יהוה (YHWH)] (Psalms 96:11)” (Zohar 3:215a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“The Faithful Shepherd said: How obscure these matters are for one who does not know them, and how transparent for one who does! Certainly that bird is the Shekhinah and Her nest is the Temple. And Israel are the fledglings, upon whom the mother [Shekhinah] sits. And the mother is crouched over the fledglings (Deuteronomy 22:6)—Masters of Mishnah, who fly with Her decrees. Or eggs (ibid.)—Masters of Scripture.

But when Israel sinned, and the Temple was destroyed, what is written? You shall surely send off the mother (ibid., 7), as is written: And for your transgressions is your mother put away (Isaiah 50:1). And about the masters of the six orders of Mishnah, it is written: And the sons you may take for yourself (ibid.)—six [orders], from the aspect of six sons [i.e., the six lower sefirot], which are under upper Mother [Binah], and which are alluded to in the six words of the recitation of Shema Yisra’el, or in the six orders of Mishnah. It is all the same, whether [one offers] much or little, if only he directs his mind towards Heaven [Tif’eret], and binds it with the knot of the tefillin on the head and on the hand….

And for this reason, fledglings are from the aspect of ו (vav) which includes the six orders of Mishnah [the six lower sefirot]. Or eggs—Masters of Scripture. And it is said of them: At ה״ (five) years old, one is fit for the study of Five [namely, the Five Books of Moses], and this is Malkhut, [which is] ה (he). Sons—aspect of the Son of יָהּ (Yah), God, and these are the Masters of Kabbalah, of whom it is said: You shall not take the mother together with the sons (Deuteronomy 22:6)” (Zohar 3:254b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

First Born Ox

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“I have ox and donkey (Genesis 32:6). Ox—מָשׁוּחַ מִלחָמָה (mashuaḥ milḥamah), Anointed for War, as is said, His first born ox is His glory (Deuteronomy 33:17). Donkey—מֶלֶך הַמָשִׁיחַ (Melekh ha-Mashia), the King Messiah, as is said, He is lowly and rides a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)” (Bereshit Rabbah 75:6, cf. Tanḥuma [Buber] 1:54, 179).

Rejoice with all your heart, daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, daughter of Jerusalem! Look! Your King is coming to you: He is righteous and victorious. He is lowly and rides on a donkey, on a colt, a young pack animal (Zechariah 9:9).

“The Masters of Mishnah taught: ‘Who is mighty? He who conquers his [evil] impulse’ (M Avot 4:1). And there are those for whom it becomes a חֲמוֹר (ḥamor), donkey, that causes no trouble for its rider, and they are the ones who exert themselves in קַל וָחוֹמֶר (qal va-ḥomer), inference from minor to major. And this is why it is written of Abraham: And saddled his donkey (Genesis 22:3). And this is also why it is said about Messiah: He is lowly and rides on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)” (Zohar 3:237b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

He is lowly and rides on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)—עָנִי (ani), lowly, stands for the Mishnah orders of עֵרוּבִין (eruvin), Mixture [i.e., Sabbath borders], נִדָּה (niddah), Separated [i.e., laws of the menstruate] and יְבָמוֹת (yevamot), Levirates [i.e., laws of marriage between a widow and her brother-in-law]. The rest of the orders of the Mishnah are comprised in these but one is not considered a king until he rides on a horse, which is the Assembly of Israel [cf. Song of Songs 1:9: To my mare among Pharaoh’s chariots I likened you, my friend]….

And when the gulf is open, whoever falls there does not come up. And Messiah the Son of David fell there together with Messiah son of Joseph, of whom one is written: He is lowly and rides on a donkey, and the other is, His first born ox (Deuteronomy 33:17). This is the meaning of: If a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or a donkey fall into it (Exodus 21:33). For that reason Messiah is called בַּר נַפְלֵי (bar nafli), Son of the Fallen [see BT Sanhedrin 96b–97a], and She [Shekhinah] fell with them, and of Her it says, Fallen, not to rise again, is Virgin Israel (Amos 5:2). And you [Faithful Shepherd], the owner of the pit shall pay silver, shall make good to its owner, and the carcass shall be his (Exodus 21:34). The dead refers to Messiah son of Joseph who in the future will be slain [… censored passage]. Joseph, His first born ox is His glory (Deuteronomy 33:17), of whom it says, And they… cast him into a pit (Genesis 37:24)—the evil female. And the pit was empty (ibid.)—the male which is empty, without Torah, but instead has snakes and scorpions in it. This is the fourth exile [of Esau] which is a wicked generation, full of snakes and scorpions, scoundrels like snakes and who are עַקְרַבִּֽים (aqrabim), scorpions, since they עָקוּר (aqoor), uproot, the words of the Rabbis and give false sentence. Of them it says: Her adversaries have become the chief (Lamentations 1:5)” (Zohar 3:276b–279b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

And the land shall mourn, every clan apart; the clan of the house of David apart, and their wives apart (Zechariah 12:12)…. what is the cause of the mourning?—Rabbi Dosa and the Rabbis disagree. One explained, The cause is the slaying of Messiah son of Joseph [in the war of Gog from the land of Magog prior to the ultimate redemption with the coming of Messiah son of David], and the other explained, The cause is the slaying of the evil impulse. It is well according to him who explains that the cause is the slaying of Messiah son of Joseph, since that well agrees with: And they shall look upon Me because they have thrust him through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for his only son (ibid., 10); but according to him who explains the cause to be the slaying of the evil impulse, is this an occasion for mourning? Is it not rather an occasion for rejoicing? Why then should they weep?—as Rabbi Yehudah expounded: In the time yet to come the blessed Holy One will bring the evil impulse and slay it in the presence of the righteous and the wicked. To the righteous it will have the appearance of a towering hill, and to the wicked it will have the appearance of a hair thread. Both the former and the latter will weep; the righteous will weep saying, ‘How were we able to overcome such a towering hill!’ The wicked also will weep saying, ‘How is it that we were unable to conquer this hair thread!’ And the blessed Holy One will also marvel together with them, as is said, Thus says YHWH of armies; If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, would it also be marvelous in My eyes? says YHWH of armies (ibid. 8:6). 

Rav Assi said, ‘The evil impulse is at first like the thread of a spider, but ultimately becomes like cart ropes, as is said, Woe unto them that draw guilt with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope (Isaiah 5:18).’

Our Rabbis taught, the blessed Holy One will say to the Messiah, Son of David (May he reveal himself speedily in our days), ‘Ask of Me anything, and I will give it to you,’ as is said, Let me tell as is due of YHWH. He said to me: ‘You are My son. I Myself today did beget you. Ask of Me, and I shall give nations as your estate (Psalms 2:7–8). But when he will see that the Messiah son of Joseph is slain, he will say to Him, ‘Master of the World, I ask of You only the gift of life.’ As to life, He would answer him, ‘Your father David has already prophesied this concerning you’, as is said, Life he asked You—You gave him, [length of days for time without end] (Psalms 21:4)” (BT Sukkah 52a).

“And two Messiahs arouse before them. Messiah son of David parallels נֶצַח (Netsaḥ), and is connected with the morning of Abraham [Ḥesed, see Zohar 1:182b on Genesis 22:3] which is: At Your right hand are pleasures for נֶצַח (netsaḥ), evermore (Psalms 16:11). Hod to Gevurah, since to it is attached Messiah Son of Ephraim [synonymous with Messiah son of Joseph]. You [Moses the Faithful Shepherd], are in the middle, and your rung is Tif’eret, for the middle pillar is connected with you, and also Yesod, the Vitality of the Worlds, is on your rung. Ḥokhmah is on the right: ‘Let him who wants to be wise turn south’ (BT Berakhot 30a). Binah is on the left: ‘Let him who wants to be rich turn to the north’ (ibid.)” (Zohar 3:242b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“And after this a king עַז פָּנִים (‘az panim), brazen faced, will arise for three months, and then the wicked kingdom will rule over Israel for nine months, as it says, Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she who travails has brought forth: [then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel] (Micah 5:2). And there shall sprout up for them Messiah Son of Joseph, and he will bring them up to Jerusalem. He will rebuild the Temple and offer sacrifices; fire shall descend from heaven and consume their sacrifices, as is written, The lawless sons of your people shall be raised up to fulfill the vision, but they shall stumble (Daniel 11:14). If they are not worthy, Messiah Son of Ephraim comes [i.e., Messiah Son of Joseph]; but if they are worthy, Messiah Son of David will come.

A wicked king will arise whose name is Armilus: bald, with small eyes and a skin-blanched forehead; his right ear closed up and his left ear open. If a good person should speak to him, he will turn his closed ear toward him, and if a wicked person should speak to him, he will turn his open ear to him. He is the offspring of the שָׂטָן (satan), adversary, and a stone [statue], and he will come up to Jerusalem and incite war with Messiah Son of Ephraim comes [i.e., Messiah Son of Joseph] at the eastern gate, as is written, And they shall look to me whom they have thrust through (Zechariah 12:10)” (Nistarot shel Rabbi Shim’on bar Yoḥai).

“From the right of Abraham, whose rung is Ḥesed, He takes vengeance on Ishmael and his prince, and from the left of Isaac, whose rung is פַּחַד (paḥad), Terror, He takes vengeance on Esau and his appointed prince by means of two Messiahs, one of whom, Messiah son of David, is from the right, while the other, Messiah son of Joseph, is from the left. And the rung of Jacob that corresponds to them, in the mystery of changing his hands (Genesis 48:14)—the lion, to the left, and the ox to the right, to Ishmael. And since Judah was exiled in Esau, it follows that the right of holiness is with the left of Esau, and likewise the left of holiness is with the impure right of Ishmael. Until שִׁילֹה (Shiloh), come (Genesis 49:10) [cf. BT Sanhedrin 98b]—Shiloh, who is [Moses] the Faithful Shepherd [since the numerical value of שִׁילֹה (Shiloh), is equal to מֹשֶׁה (moshe), Moses], whose rung is Tif’eret Israel [the middle pillar]. He will take vengeance from the motley throng. In these three rungs כֹּהֲנִים לְוִיִּם וְיִשְׂרְאֵלִים (kohanimlevi’im, ve-yisraelim), Priests, Levites, and Israelites, will be recalled from the Exile, and with them [His כְּלִי (keli), weapon] He takes vengeance upon Esau, Ishmael, and the motley throng. Just as the motley throng is intermingled with Esau and Ishmael, so Jacob is composed of Abraham and Isaac for he is a mixture of the two of them. So too, Shiloh [Moses the Faithful Shepherd] is intermingled with Messiah son of David and Messiah son of Joseph and he will be the link between the two of them, as at the time that Bilaam saw in his prophecy [see Genesis 49:10]. For thus the two Messiahs are connected with the Faithful Shepherd, like the three patriarchs, in the final exile” (Zohar 3:245a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

“Since they brought it on you and did good things for you, you have suffered for their sakes many troubles so that Messiah son of Joseph shall not be killed, of whom it says, the face of an ox on the left side (Ezekiel 1:10), who is a descendant of Joseph, of whom it says, His first born ox is His glory (Deuteronomy 33:17). That is because he and his descendants shall not be violated among the heathen nations because of the sin of Jeroboam who worshipped idols [cf. 1 Kings], for which he and his seed were to be violated among the idol worshiping nations. For Jeroboam the son of Nebat is a descendant of Joseph and it is because of him that it says of you: But he was wounded because of our transgressions… and by his injury we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). And since Israel include right and left where Your ה (he) and י (yod) are in a state of completion, it behooves You to unite with Her between them. Because he [Jeroboam] has brought out an evil name upon a virgin of Israel, it says of her, and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days (Deuteronomy 22:19), in exile he may not be away from her all his days….

But the Masters of Mishnah do not know the Faithful Shepherd [Moses]. Elijah, an oath upon you in the Name of YHWH and in the explicit Name, reveal him to all the heads of the Masters of Mishnah so they will recognize him and he shall no more יִתְחַלֵּל (yitḥalal), be violated, And he מְחוֹלָל (meḥolal), was wounded, for our transgressions, (Isaiah 53:5). You do not have to receive permission because I am a messenger from the Master of the World, and I know that if you do that, the blessed Holy One will thank you for it and your descendants shall be exalted for it above and below. Do not tarry in doing it, neither a week nor a month, nor a year, but do it immediately!” (Zohar 3:277a–283a, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).

“What is meant by, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie (Habakkuk 2:3)?What is [For there is yet a vision for the appointed time] וְיָפֵחַ (ve-yafe’aḥ), and a witness, for the end who is not false (Habakkuk 2:3)? Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan: תִּיפָּח (Tippaḥ), blasted, be the bones of those who calculate the end [cf. Rabbi Hillel Rivlin of Shklov in the name of the Gaon of Vilna, Qol ha-Tor 4:2]. For they would say, since the predetermined time has arrived, and yet he has not come, he will never come. But [even so], wait for him, as is written, Though he tarries, wait for him (ibid.). Should you say, ‘We await [his coming] but He does not [come]’: therefore Scripture says, And therefore YHWH shall wait to grant you grace, and therefore He shall rise to show you mercy, [for a God of justice is YHWH] (Isaiah 30:18). But since we look forward to it, as does He, what delays [his coming]? The quality of Justice delays it [because we are not yet worthy]. But since the quality of Justice delays it, why do we await it? To be rewarded [for hoping], as is written, Happy all who wait for Him (Isaiah 30:18).” (BT Sanhedrin 97b).