The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: יוּחֲסִין

To Recover the Remnant of His People

 

malang“The blessed Holy One scattered Israel among the peoples only so that they may accumulate converts, for it is said: And I will sow her for Myself in the earth; [and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them who were not My people, you are My people; and they shall say, You are my God] (Hosea 2:25)—surely, a man sows a se’ah in order to harvest many korin….

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The ingathering of the exiles is as important as the day when the heavens and the earth were created, for it is said, Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves רֹאשׁ אֶחָד (rosh eḥad), one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel (Hosea 2:2); and it is written, And it was evening and it was morning, יוֹם אֶחָד (yom eḥad), first day (Genesis 1:5)” (BT Pesaḥim 87b–88a, cf. Zohar 1:244a).

“‘The ten tribes will not return, as is written, And flung them into another land as on this day (Deuteronomy 29:27)—just as the day goes and does not return, so they too went and will not return: the words of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Eli’ezer said: As on this day—just as the day darkens and then becomes light again, so the Ten Tribes. Even as it went dark for them, so will it become light for them’ (M Sanhedrin 10:3).

Our rabbis taught: The ten tribes have no portion in the World to Come, as it says, And YHWH tore them from upon their soil in wrath and in anger and in great fury [and flung them into another land as on this day] (ibid.). And YHWH tore them from upon their soil—this world; and flung them into another land—the World to Come: the words of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Shim’on son of Yehudah, of the village of Akko, said in the name of Rabbi Shim’on: If their deeds are as this day’s [i.e., if they do not repent, this day referring to the time of their being exiled], they will not return; otherwise they shall. Rabbi said: They will enter the future world, as is said, [And it shall come to pass] on that day, that the great shofar shall be blown, [and they shall come who were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship YHWH in the holy mount at Jerusalem] (Isaiah 27:13).

Rabbah son of Son of Ḥanah said in Rabbi Yoḥanan’s name: [Here] Rabbi Akiva abandoned His חֲסִידוּת (ḥasidut), kindness, as is written, Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, you backsliding Israel, says YHWH; and I will not cause My anger to fall upon you: for I am חָסִיד (ḥasid), kind, says YHWH, and I will not keep anger forever (Jeremiah 3:12).

Now, to what does ‘his kindness’ refer? As has been taught: The children of the wicked of Israel, [who died] in their minority, will not enter the future world, as is written, For, behold, the day comes, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that comes shall burn them up, says YHWH of Armies, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch (Malachi 3:19). [… It shall leave them neitherroot—this world; [norbranch—the World to Come: the words of Rabban Gamaliel.

Rabbi Akiva said: They will enter the World to Come, as is written, YHWH protects פְּתָאיִם (peta’im), the simple (Psalms 116:6), and in the island cities, a child is called פָּתִּיאָ (pattia); and it is said also, Cut down the tree and destroy it but leave one of its roots in the ground (Daniel 4:20). How then do I fulfil that it shall leave them neither root nor branch? That He shall not leave them [unpunished the violation of] a single mitsvah nor the remnant of a mitsvah [i.e., even the most insignificant mitsvah]. Another interpretation: root—the נְשָׁמָה (neshamah), soul; branch—the body [but of the wicked themselves, not their children. Thus we see Rabbi Akiva, in his love for Israel, interpreting the verse as leniently as possible]. But as for young children of the wicked gentiles, all agree that they will not enter the future world. And he  derives it from [They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore have] You visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish (Isaiah 26:14)” (BT Sanhedrin 110b, cf. Sifra, Be-Ḥukkotai, 8:1).

And it shall come to pass in that day, that YHWH shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, who shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:11–12).

And Israel saw Joseph’s sons and he said, ‘Who are these?’ (Genesis 48:8).

Rabbi Abba opened, ‘It is said: Then shall you say in your heart, who has begotten for me these, [since I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and moving to and fro? and who has brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?] (Isaiah 49:21). What does this mean? Israel below [i.e., on earth] saw that the children of Israel will come before Him, when they will come from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea (Isaiah 11:11), and a vast flock will be established. The Shekhinah will say, Who are all these? Are there not any who are unfit, of foreign children? They will say to Him, We are all Your children, there is no foreigner among us! For they will be severed the one from the other [i.e., the motley throng will be severed from the Assembly of Israel]. And they will be circumcised together and converted. The convert then will return together with Israel and they will be as one.

It was taught: ‘[Rabbi Ḥelbo said:] Converts are as tough for Israel as a סַּפַּחַת (sapaḥat), scab’ (BT Qiddushin 70b; Yevamot 47b; Niddah 13b; Zohar 3:206b), as is written, For YHWH will have compassion for Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, וְנִסְפְּחוּ (ve-nispeḥu), and they shall cling, to the house of Jacob (Isaiah 14:1). When the children will return to their land and there will be compassion among them, then YHWH will be one and His name one (Zechariah 14:9). Then the convert will tag along with the people of Israel like a scab on their skin.’

Why? Come and hear: Rabbi Shim’on said it refers to the borders of the land, for every one will want to live in the land of Israel, and the inhabitants will be afraid. It is written, [Enlarge the place of your tent,] and let them stretch forth the curtains of your habitations: [spare not, lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes] (Isaiah 54:2). The curtains you once had, should be stretched and strengthened, as it were, more than those of the other peoples whom you saw strengthening them in your exile. [Indeed, a vast flock of converts] will be established” (Zohar 1:215a).

“Yehudah, an Ammonite convert, came before [the rabbis] in the academy. He said to them: How can I enter the assembly [i.e., marry a Jewish woman]? Rabbi Yehoshu’a said to him: You are permitted to enter the assembly. Rabban Gamaliel said to him: Has it not already been said, No Ammonite nor Moabite shall come into YHWH’s assembly. [Even his tenth generation shall not come into YHWH’s assembly ever. Because they did not greet  you with bread and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and for their hiring against you Balaam son of Beor from Aram Naharaim to curse you] (Deuteronomy 23:4–5)? Rabbi Yehoshu’a replied to him: Do Ammon and Moab still reside in their [original] place? Sennacherib king of Assyria long ago went up and בַּלבֵּל (balbel), baffled, all the nations, as it says, [For He says, By the strength of My hand I have done it, and by My wisdom; for I am prudent: and] I have removed the borders of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man (Isaiah 10:13); and whatever separates, separates from the greater part [and the assumption is that he is from the majority of nations whose members are permitted to enter the assembly, cf. BT Ketubbot 15a in the name of Rabbi Zeira]. Rabban Gamaliel said to him: But has it not been said: And afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, says YHWH (Jeremiah 49:6) so that they have already returned? Rabbi Yehoshu’a replied: And has it not been said, And I will bring again the captivity of My people of Israel, [and they shall rebuild the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink their wine; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them] (Amos 9:14), and they have not yet returned? Immediately they permitted him to enter the assembly” (BT Berakhot 28a).

In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land [whom YHWH of armies shall bless, saying, Blessed be My people Egypt, My handiwork Assyria, and My heritage Israel] (Isaiah 19:24).

The seventy princes who govern the army on high are divided in their midst. One division is governed by the prince of Ishmael, called Egypt, and the other division is governed by the prince of Edom, called Assyria [cf. 2 Kings 16; Isaiah 7–9; 2 Chronicles 28]. Both divisions receive from Gevurah, at the left side of the Chariot, but as we said, Gevurah is divided in two: one aspect is harsh judgment and the other weak [cf. Zohar 2:178a, 187a]; the harsh is exceedingly hard and the weak is soft. However, one stately light expands from the way of Tif’eret engulfing these two qualities, covering and influencing them. And in the future yet to come, when these two princes behold this light, they will call it the Light of Blessing, as is written, In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land. And look, truly some of the nations will be restored to the dominion of Israel” (Berit Menuḥa, Third Way: The Way of Peace, cf. Zohar 1:13a, 164a; 2:57b; 3:218a–b [RM], 227b).

And strangers will stand and feed your flocks; foreigners will be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But you shall be named the Priests of YHWH: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: you shall eat the riches of the gentiles, and in their glory shall you boast yourselves (Isaiah 61:5–6, cf. MekhiltaShabbetaKi Tissa 1; BT Berakhot 35b; Zohar 1:143b).

“Rabbi Ḥiyya was traveling to visit Rabbi El’azar. He found him sitting next to Rabbi Shim’on son of Rabbi Yose, son of Lekonya, his father-in-law. As he raised his head, he saw Rabbi Ḥiyya. He said, ‘In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land, whom YHWH of armies shall bless, saying, Blessed be My people Egypt, My handiwork Assyria, and My heritage Israel’ (Isaiah 19:24). How foolish are the inhabitants of the world, who do not know or consider the words of Torah!

Are then Ashur and Egypt close to the blessed Holy One? Rather, all those members of the exiles who will go up from Egypt and Ashur. But if we say that it is Egypt and Ashur [themselves] it refers to the pious among them who repent, and remain to serve Israel and King Messiah, as is written, and may all kings bow to him, and all nations serve him (Psalms 72:11), and, kings shall be your foster fathers [and their queens your nursing mothers: they shall bow down to you with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of your feet; and you shall know that I am YHWH: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for Me] (Isaiah 49:23) [cf. BT Shevu’ot 47b: ‘In the academy of Rabbi Yishma’el it was taught: The servant of a king is like a king’]” (Zohar 2:57b).

“All things will be fittingly restored, and the impure aspect will be eliminated from the world. This has been affirmed, as is written: I will eliminate the spirit of impurity from earth (Isaiah 25:8). The blessed Holy One will then remain alone, as is written: Idols will utterly vanish (ibid. 2:18), and similarly: YHWH alone will be exalted on that day (ibid., 17)—He alone, as is written: No alien god with Him (Deuteronomy 32:12), for it will be eradicated from the world. Nothing will remain above or below except the blessed Holy One alone and Israel serving Him, a holy people—called ‘holy,’ as is written: Whoever is left in Zion, who remains in Jerusalem, will be called holy (Isaiah 4:3). Then there will be a single world above and below—a single above; a single world below, a single people serving Him, as is written: Who is like Your people Israel, a single nation on earth? (1 Chronicles 17:21) [Rabbi Moshe Cordovero maintains that other nations will be purified and integrated into Israel, see Or Yaqar]” (Zohar 1:164a).

Advertisements

Come My Lover, Let Us Go Out to the Field

“Rabbi Yose [son of Beivah] said: The blessed Holy One appears to the nations only in the hour when people generally take leave of each other, as it says, And to me came a word in secret… in musings from nighttime’s visions when slumber falls upon men (Job 4:12). Rabbi Leazar son of Menaḥem said: YHWH is far from the wicked (Proverbs 15:29)—the prophets of other nations; but the prayer of the righteous He hears (ibid.)—the prophets of Israel. And Elohim appears to the nations only like one who comes from afar, as you read, They have come from a far country unto me (Isaiah 39:3). But in connection with the prophets of Israel we read [And YHWH] appeared to him (Genesis 18:1), And He called (Leviticus 1:1)—implying, from the immediate vicinity.

What is the difference between the prophets of Israel and the prophets of other nations? Rabbi Ḥanina [son of Papa] said: A parable: A king was with his friend in a chamber but separated by a curtain; whenever he desired to speak to his friend, he folded up the curtain and spoke with him. However, He speaks to the prophets of other nations without folding the curtain back, rather from behind it. The Rabbis compared it to a king who has a wife and a concubine; to his wife he goes openly, but to his slavegirl he goes in stealth [cf. Ecclesiastes 2:7]. Similarly, the blessed Holy One appears to the nations only at night, as it says, And Elohim came to Balaam in the night (Numbers 22:20); And Elohim came to Laban the Aramean in a night-dream (Genesis 31:24); And Elohim came to Abimelech in a night-dream (ibid. 20:3)” (Bereshit Rabbah 52:3).

”Rabbi Abba son of Qahana opened, רִגְזוּ (Rigzu), quake, and do not offend (Psalms 4:5). David said to the blessed Holy One ‘How long will מִתְרַגְּזִים (mitraggezim), they rage against, me and say, Is he not of tainted descent? Is he not a descendant of Ruth the Moabite? Speak in your hearts on your beds (ibid.). You also, are you not descended from two sisters [namely, Rachel and Leah who married the same man]? Look upon your own genealogy and be still (ibid.). And Tamar who married your ancestor Judah—is it not a tainted descent? She was but a descendant of Shem the son of Noah [who married his sister, see Jubilees 4:11]. Do you then have an honorable descent?’…

Rav Huna said: It is written, ‘God has granted me other seed’ (Genesis 4:25)—seed from another place, referring to the Messiah.

Rabbi Berekhiyah and Rabbi Shim’on said: We may illustrate with a parable: A king who was travelling from one place to another, when a precious pearl fell from his head. So the king and all his retinue stopped there. All the passers-by asked, ‘What are the king and his retinue doing here?’ They discerned the reason and said, ‘A pearl has fallen from his head.’ What did he do? He gathered all the soil into heaps and brought brooms [alt., sieves]. He had one heap swept, but did not find it; a second heap, and he did not find it; but in the third, he found it, and they announced ‘The king has found his pearl!’ So the blessed Holy One said to Abraham, Go forth (Genesis 12:1). It was to you that I looked forward. What need had I to record the lineage of Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, and Terah (1 Chronicles 1:24–26)? Only on account of you, Abram; the same is Abraham (ibid.); And found his heart faithful before You (Nehemiah 9:8). So said the blessed Holy One to David, ‘What need had I to record the lineage of Perez, Hezron, Ram, Aminadab, Nahshon, Salmah, Boaz, Obed, and Jesse? Only on account of you; I found David My servant (Psalms 89:21)” (Rut Rabbah 8a, cf. Bereshit Rabbah 23:5, 51:8).

”The Messiah, what is his name?… The House of Rabbi Yannai said: His name is Yinnon for it is written, May his name be forever. As long as the sun may his name יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17)” (BT Sanhedrin 98b).

“The name of Messiah was contemplated [before the creation of the world], as is written, As long as the sun may his name יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17)” (Bereshit Rabbah 1:4).

“They asked [Rabbi Berekhiyah], ‘What is the letter צ (tsadi)?’ He said: ‘This is נ (nun) and י (yod)—צ (tsadi). Its partner [ץ (final tsadi)] is also נ (nun) and י (yod), as is written, צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq), the Righteous One, is a lasting foundation (Proverbs 10:25)” (Bahir §61).

“Why should the נ (nun) have two forms, bent and elongated? Because it is written, As long as the sun may his name יִנּוֹן (yinnon), bear seed (Psalms 72:17)—from נוּניִן (nunin), two nuns, the bent נ (nun) and the elongated ן (nun), and [the Messiah] must be [conceived] through a man and a woman” (Bahir §86).

“They asked [Rabbi Berekhiyah]: And he took him to the Lookouts’ field [… and YHWH chanced upon Balaam and put a word in his mouth(Numbers 23:14–16). What is Lookouts’ field? As is written, Come my lover, let us go out to the field, [spend the night in the henna. There will I give my love to you] (Song of Songs 7:12). Do not read הַשָּׂדֶה (ha-sadeh), the field, but הַשִׁדָּה (ha-shiddah), the concubine [see Ecclesiastes 2:8]. And why the concubine? The blessed Holy One’s Heart said to Him, ‘Come my lover, let us go out to the concubine for a stroll and not always lie in one place.’

And what is His Heart? He said to him: If Son of Zoma is outside you are with him [see BT Ḥagigah 14b–16a]! The לֵב (lev) Heart, is ל״ב (thirty-two). These are sealed and with them the world was created [i.e., with the thirty-two iterations of אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) in the Account of Creation, see Zohar 3:82b, 256b–257a (all RM), cf. Zohar 2:123a]. What are these thirty-two? He said: These are thirty-two paths [see Sefer Yetsirah §1–§2].

A parable: a king residing within the innermost chambers, thirty-two in all, each with its own path. Now, is it fitting for this king that everyone enter his chambers by his paths? Certainly not! But is it fitting for him not to display his pearls, his brocades, his hidden treasures, and his precious objects? Certainly not! What did he do? He designated [lit., נֶגַע (nega), touched] the daughter and included all the paths in her and in her garments. Whoever wishes to enter, let him gaze here! He married her to a king, and also gave her to him as a gift. Because of his love for her, he sometimes calls her ‘My sister,’ since they come from a single place. Sometimes he calls her ‘My daughter,’ for she is his daughter; and sometimes he calls her ‘My mother’ [cf. Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah on 3:11]” (Bahir §62–§63).

“[Rabbi Yose] opened, saying, ‘The abundance of the earth is in all, a king for a cultivated field (Ecclesiastes 5:8). The abundance of the earth is in all, indeed, since from there issue spirits, souls, and benefit for the world. A king for a cultivated field. Who is a king? The blessed Holy One. For a cultivated field—when properly tilled. A king—Supernal King, who unites with the field when it is cultivated. Who is the field? The field blessed by YHWH, as is written: like the fragrance of a field blessed by YHWH (Genesis 27:27), for when it is completely cultivated and tilled, the Supernal King unites with it.’

Rabbi El’azar said, ‘A king for a cultivated field. How many nuances of supernal mystery are embedded here! A kingShekhinah, who does not inhabit a house, establishing Herself there, unless a man is married, coupling with her to engender and yield fruit. Then She generates souls to dwell therein. So, לְשָׂדֶה נֶעֱבָד (le-sadeh ne-evad), for a cultivated field, for none other.

Alternatively, A king—a woman in awe of YHWH, as is written: A woman in awe of YHWH is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30).

Le-sadeh ne-evadEnslaved to a field—a strange woman, as is said: to protect you from a strange woman (Proverbs 7:5). For there is a field, and then, there is a field! There is a field planted with all kinds of blessing and holiness, as is written: like the fragrance of a field blessed by YHWH. Then, there is a field planted with all kinds of destruction, defilement, desolation, killing, and war. Sometimes this king is enslaved to this field, and then this verse applies: At three things the earth trembles: … at a slave who becomes king… and a slavegirl supplanting her mistress (Proverbs 30:21–23). 

The light of this king is concealed—darkened—until he is purified, uniting above. Therefore, the goat of the new moon, for that field is isolated, lacking the king’s blessings. When he is enslaved to a field, then this applies: For in the field he found her; the engaged girl screamed… (Deuteronomy 22:27). For in the field, as has been said” (Zohar 1:122a–b).

Reuben went out during the days of the wheat harvest (Genesis 30:14). We have learned: Cup of Blessing receives blessing only from the side; so as long as the right is aroused toward Cup of Blessing, the left provides no support. For the right finds warrant in that cup to arouse it toward the upper world.

This secret: Out went Reuben—south side; thus, his banner is in the south. For he is head of the twelve boundaries, and his desire—to find a means, an offering—for Matronita, to bless Her. What is written? [Hefound mandrakes in the field. He went searching amid all Her treasures and found, in this field, mandrakes. Of them is written The mandrakes give forth fragrance… (Song of Songs 7:14)—two cherubim, Her embellishments awakening arousal above. For among all those adornments, none arous besides cherubim.

South side—when does He arouse toward Her, seeking cause to bless Her? During the days of the wheat harvest (Genesis 30:14)—when She distributes shares of fortune to Her legions and all the reapers of the field. At once, [hebrought them to Leah his mother—their fragrance and arousal wafted upward, toward Upper World, concealed world, arousing blessings for the Lower World.

Once She is blessed, those mandrakes collect, then bestow upon all worlds, as is written: the mandrakes give forth fragrance, at our doors all delicacies (Song of Songs 7:14). When they exude their aroma, south side absorbs it, arousing toward the Upper World. At once, at our doors all delicacies—no beneficence lacking from the world. Lower world does not arouse toward Upper World without the cherubim wafting fragrance toward the right. After they bestow aroma to the right, and the right arouses toward Upper World, at once Lower World arouses to petition for its needs. What is written? Rachel said to Leah, ‘Please give me’ (Genesis 30:14). Give me blessings from the arousal of mandrakes, aroused for you by the right side.

Then, Upper World joyfully, playfully, responded to her, saying, ‘Is your taking my husband a small thing?‘ (ibid. 30:15)—like a mother to her daughter. If so, the Husband of the Upper World must be Jacob! Not so! Yearning of the Father is always exclusively for his Daughter. His love is directed toward Her because She is the only daughter, among six sons [sefirot]. He doles out provisions, largesse, and gifts to each of those six sons—but He allocates nothing for Her, nor does She inherit anything. On account of all this, He watches over Her with greater fondness and love than all the rest.

Out of love for Her, He called Her ‘Daughter’ [cf. BT Bava Batra 16b]. This did not satisfy Him, so He called Her ‘Sister’ [cf. Genesis 20:1; Proverbs 7:4]. This did not satisfy Him, so He called Her ‘Mother,’ in the name of His Mother [cf. Proverbs 2:3; BT Berakhot 57a]. This did not satisfy Him, so He called Her by His name, as is written: But הַחָכְמָה (ḥokhmah), Wisdom, found from אַיִן (ayin), Nothing (Job 28:12)—Ḥokhmah, actually! This is why Upper World said to Her, ‘Is your taking my husband a small thing’—for all of His love is drawn toward You” (Zohar 1:156a–b, Sitrei Torah, cf. Zohar 2:100b).

How Many Wicked there are in the World who Engender more Virtuous Children than the Righteous!

“[David said:] There are three signs by which this people [Israel are recognized]: [They are] compassionate, bashful, and generous. ‘Compassionate,’ as is written, And give you compassion, and be compassionate to you and make you multiply… (Deuteronomy 13:18). ‘Bashful [or: shamefaced],’ as is written, That His fear be upon your faces, [so that you do not offend] (Exodus 20:16). ‘Generous [lit., render kindnesses],’ as is written, That he will charge his sons and his household after him [to keep the way of YHWH to do righteousness and justice…] (Genesis 18:19). Anyone with these three signs is worthy of cleaving to this people” (BT Yevamot 79a, cf. BT Pesaḥim 113b: “Three the blessed Holy One loves: he who does not get angry, he who does not get drunk, and he who does not insist on his rights”).

“Ten different genealogical classes went up from Babylon [to the land of Israel in the days of Ezra]: Priests, Levites, Israelites, [priests who became] profaned, converts, the emancipated, bastards, Gibeonites [cf. Joshua 9:4; 2 Samuel 21:1], children of unknown paternity, and foundlings. Priests, Levites and Israelites may intermarry with one another. Levites, Israelites, [priests who became] profaned, converts and emancipated slaves may intermarry with one another. Converts, the emancipated, bastards, Gibeonites, children of unknown paternity, and foundlings are permitted to intermarry with one another. That daughters of priests, however, [may be married to priests who became] profaned was not mentioned [therefore, apparently they are forbidden to each other]” (BT Yevamot 85a, cf. M Qiddushin 4:1; BT Qiddushin 69a).

“A priest takes precedence over a Levite, a Levite over an Israelite, an Israelite over a bastard, a bastard over a descendant of Gibeonites, a descendant of Gibeonites over a convert, and a convert over an emancipated slave. When is this so? When they are all equal. However, if the bastard is a scholar and the High Priest an ignoramus—the bastard scholar takes precedence over the ignorant High Priest” (M Horayot 3:8).

“[‘Ten different genealogical classes went up from Babylon: Priests, Levites…’ (M Qiddushin 4:1)] Why is it particularly taught: ‘Went up from Babylon’; let him teach, migrated to the land of Israel? He teaches us a matter in passing, as it was taught: [Should the matter be beyond you to judge, between blood and blood, between case and case, and between injury and injury, affairs of grievances within your gates,] you shall arise and go up to the place that YHWH your God chooses, [and you shall come to the levitical priests and to the judge who will be in those days, and you shall inquire and they will tell you the matter of the judgment] (Deuteronomy 17:8): this teaches that the Temple is higher than the rest of the land of Israel, and the land of Israel is higher than all [other] lands. As for the Temple being higher than the rest of the land of Israel, it is well: even as is written [Should the matter be beyond you to judge…] affairs of grievances within your gates, you shall arise and go up. But how do we know that the land of Israel is higher than all [other] lands? Because it is written: Therefore, behold, the days come, says YHWH, that they shall no more say, YHWH lives, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, YHWH lives, who brought up and who led the descendants of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries where I had driven them; [and they shall dwell in their own land] (Jeremiah 23:7–8).

Then why particularly teach, ‘Went up from Babylon’: let him teach, ‘went up to the land of Israel’? This supports Rabbi El’azar. For Rabbi El’azar said: Ezra did not go up from Babylon until he made it like pure sifted flour: then he went up [he intentionally took those of inferior rank so that they should not remain in Babylon, where, owing to the absence of leaders, they might mingle with the rest of the nation. Therefore the Tanna states: ‘went up from Babylon,’ intimating that in that itself he had a purpose, apart from the rebuilding of the land of Israel, in other words, to purge the Jews in Babylon]. Abayye said: We learnt: ‘they went up’ (M Qiddushin 4:1) voluntarily; Rava said: We learnt: ‘He [Ezra] brought them up’ [against their will]. And they differ over Rabbi El’azar [and his statement,] namely: Ezra did not go up from Babylon until he made it like pure sifted flour: then he went up. Abayye rejects it, Rava accepts it [for such purging could only be effected by compulsion]. Alternatively, all accept Rabbi El’azar’s statement, but they differ in this: One Master [Abayye] holds that he [merely] separated them, whereupon they voluntarily ascended [to the land of Israel in order to become assimilated with the others]: the other Master holds that [even so] he led them up against their will.

Now, on the view that they went up [voluntarily], it is well: thus Rav Yehudah said in Shemu’el’s name: All lands are as עִיסָה (issah), dough, in comparison with the land of Israel [dough is a mixture of flour and water, i.e., the Jews there have not such a pure descent as those in the land of Israel], and the land of Israel is as dough compared to Babylon [perhaps this was due to the incessant wars with the Greeks, when many Jews and Jewesses were taken captive by the enemy, and the general weakening of Jewish observance during the Hellenizing period and later when the Sadducees ruled the country. The Jews in Babylon, however, were free from all this]. But on the view that he [forcibly] led them up, they were indeed known? [In the land of Israel too, and restrained from intermarrying, so that the land of Israel remained just as pure as Babylon]—granted that they were known to that generation, they were not known to another generation. On the view that they went up, it is well: hence it is written: And I gathered them together to the river that runs to Ahava (Ezra 8:15); and there we camped in tents three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi (ibid.) [He had to scrutinize them, since those of inferior descent voluntarily joined them]. But on the view that he brought them up—surely he was most careful with them!—granted that he had been careful with the unfit [of low descent], yet he had not been careful with the fit [since he knew who they were; why scrutinize them?].

‘Priests, Levites, and Israelites’ (M Qiddushin 4:1). How do we know that they had come up?—because it is written, So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the gatekeepers, and the Nethinim, dwelt in their towns, and all Israel in their towns (Ezra 2:70).

Ḥalalim, Converts, and the Emancipated’ (M Qiddushin 4:1). How do we know ḥalalim? For it was taught: Rabbi Yose said: A חָזָקָה (ḥazaqah), presumptive right, is powerful, as is said: And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Hakkoz, the children of Barzillai; who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name: These sought their listing among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as defiled, excluded from the priesthood. And the Tirshata [according to tradition it was Nehemiah] said to them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till a priest could consult with Urim and with Thummim (Ezra 2:61–63) [so to speak, ‘never’ since there was no Urim and Thummim in the second Temple, see BT Sotah 48a]. Now [Ezra] said to them, You remain in your presumptive rights: of what did you partake in Exile? of the sacred food [eaten] in the country [Gevul country, a technical term denoting any part of the land of Israel outside the Temple and Jerusalem. The reference is to תְּרוּמָה‎ (terumah), donation]. So now too [you may partake] of the sacred food [consumed] in the country [but not sacrifices. This shows that ‘they were deemed polluted’ means that they were accounted ḥalalim, who may not partake of sacrifices]. But on the view that we promote from terumah to family purity [if a priest is seen eating terumah in his town, where he is known, we assume that he is of pure descent, and permit another priest to marry his daughter], those who ate terumah, they would come to elevate them?—there it was different, because their presumptive status was weakened [when it was seen that other priests ate sacrifices and they did not, it would be known that their genealogy was suspect (Rashi). Tosafot: their status was weakened because they had failed to prove their pure descent]. Then what is meant by ‘Great is a presumptive right?’ [the phrase implies that it leads to some extraordinary concession. But since there was no reason to fear that continuance in their right would lead to error, Rabbi Yose should simply have stated that a presumptive right in the past gives a claim for the future]—because originally they ate terumah by rabbinic law, and now they were to eat terumah by Biblical law [outside the land of Israel terumah is required by rabbinic law only]. Alternatively, after all they would now too eat only terumah by rabbinic law [terumah on fruit and vegetables, which even in the land of Israel is only rabbinic], not Biblical; for when do we elevate from terumah to family purity? [Only when it is terumah] by Biblical law, but we do not elevate [when it is terumah] by rabbinic law. If so, why [state], ‘Great is a presumptive right?’ Because formerly there was no cause to forbid it on account of terumah by Biblical law [since outside the land of Israel there was none available],’ but now [lit., at the end], though it might have been forbidden on account of terumah by Biblical law [on their return to the land of Israel. If they were permitted to eat rabbinically, they might come to eat Biblical terumah], they [nevertheless] ate of rabbinical, but not of Biblical [terumah]. But it is written: And the Tirshata said to them, that they should not eat of the most holy things (Ezra 2:63): thus, only of the most holy things might they not eat [which implies sacrifices of the higher sanctity], but everything else they might eat? This is what he said: [They were to eat] neither what is called קוֹדֶשׁ (qodesh), holy, nor what is called הַקֳּדָשִׁים (ha-qadashim), holies. ‘Neither what is called qodesh,’ as is written: And no outsider shall eat a sacred donation (Leviticus 22:10); ‘nor what is called ha-qadashim,’ as is written: And should a priest’s daughter be married to an outsider, she shall not eat of the levy of the sacred donations (ibid., 12), and a Master said [explaining this:] the priestly dues [lit., ‘that which was separated’, namely, the breast and shoulder] of sacrifices she shall not eat.

[70a] ‘Converts and the Emancipated.’ How do we know it? Rav Ḥisda said, as the verse says, [And the children of Israel, who had come again out of captivity,] and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the nations of the land, [to seek YHWH God of Israel…] (Ezra 6:21).

‘Bastards’ (M Qiddushin 4:1). How do we know it? Because it is written: But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the slave, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, [they laughed at us, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that you do? will you rebel against the king?] (Nehemiah 2:19): and it is [also] written, [Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them.] For there were many in Judah sworn to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah; and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as wife (ibid. 6:18). Now he [the Tanna of our Mishnah] holds that if a gentile or a slave has intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite, the offspring is a bastard [and we have a case of such intercourse in the verses quoted. Cf. BT Qiddushin 68b]. That is well on the view that the offspring is a bastard; but on the view that it is fit, what can be said? Moreover, how do you know that they had sons [namely Tobiah and his own son, by these Jewesses]: perhaps they did not have sons? Again, how do you know that they were [originally] here [in Babylon] and then migrated; perhaps they were there [in the land of Israel from the beginning]? But [it is learnt] from this: And these were they who went up also from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addon, and Immer: but they could not prove their father’s house, nor their descendants, whether they were of Israel (ibid. 7:61). Now תֵּל מֶלַח (tel melaḥ), Tel-melah [lit., saltheap], refers to those people whose deeds were like those of Sodom, which was turned into a heap of salt [cf. Genesis 19:26]: תֵּל חַרְשָׁא (tel ḥarsha), Tel-harsha [lit., heap of silence], to those who cry out ‘Father,’ and their mothers silence them [because they do not know their fathers—they are called שִׁיתוּקִי (shetuqi) in the Mishnah]; but they could not show their fathers’ houses, nor their seed [i.e., their mothers], whether they were of Israel—this refers to foundlings, gathered in from the streets. Cherub, אַדּוֹן וְאִמֵּר (addon ve-immer), Addon and Immer: Rabbi Abbahu said: אַדּוֹן אָמָר (addon amar), The Lord said: ‘I said that Israel should be as precious to Me as the cherub, whereas they made themselves like the leopard [which is not particular to copulate with its own mate. So Israel, thereby producing illegitimate offspring. The allusion to the deeds of Sodom is similar].’ Others say, Rabbi Abbahu said: The Lord said: ‘Though they have made themselves like the leopard, yet they are as precious to me as a cherub.’ Rabbah son of Son of Ḥana said: He who takes a wife who is not fitting for him [i.e., of an unfit stock], the verse stigmatizes him as though he had ploughed the whole world and sown it with salt, as is said: And these were they who went up also from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha [deriving חַרְשָׁא (ḥarsha), Harsha, from לַחֲרָשׁ (la-ḥarash), to plough. Because ‘they could not show’ etc., i.e., they were ashamed of their unseemly marriages and strove to conceal them, they turned the world into a ploughed heap sown with salt].

Rabbah son of Rav Adda said in Rav’s name: He who takes a wife for the sake of money will have unworthy children, as is said: They have dealt treacherously against YHWH: for they have begotten foreign children (Hosea 5:7). And should you think, their money is saved [to them]—therefore it is stated: Now a new moon shall devour them with their heritage (ibid.). And should you say, his portion, but not hers [because she did nothing wrong]: therefore it is said: their heritage. And should you say [only] after a long time—therefore it is said: a new moon. What does this imply? Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq said: A month comes and a month goes and their money is lost.

Rabbah son of Rav Adda also said—others say, Rabbi Salla said in Rav Hamnuna’s name: He who marries a wife who is not fit for him, Elijah binds him and the blessed Holy One whips him. And a Tanna taught: Concerning all these [Priests, Levites, and Israelites who marry a wife that is of unfit stock] Elijah writes and the blessed Holy One, attests: ‘Woe to him who disqualifies his seed, taints his family and him who takes to wife one who is not fit for him.’ And anyone who [continually] declares [others] unfit is [himself] unfit and never speaks in praise [of people]. And Shemu’el said: With his own blemish [he stigmatizes others as] unfit.

A certain man from Neharde’a entered a butcher’s shop in Pumbedita and demanded, ‘Give me meat!’ ‘Wait until Rav Yehudah son of Yeḥezqel’s attendant takes his, and then we will serve you,’ was the answer. ‘Who is Yehudah son of Shevisqe’el to take precedence over me and be served before me!’ When they went and told Rav Yehudah, he excommunicated him. They said to him, ‘He is in the habit of calling people slaves,’ whereupon he had him proclaimed a slave. Thereupon that man went and summoned him to a lawsuit before Rav Naḥman. When the summons was brought, he [Rav Yehudah] went before Rav Huna [and] asked him, ‘Shall I go or not?’ [His eminent position entitled him to refuse to recognise Rav Naḥman’s jurisdiction over himself]. ‘Actually, you need not go, being a great man; yet in honor of the Nasi’s house, arise and go’ he replied [Rav Naḥman was the son-in-law of the Resh Galuta, the official head of Babylonian Jewry. Rav Huna refers to the latter as Nasi, which strictly speaking was the corresponding title of the head of Jewry of the land of Israel; cf. BT Ḥulin 124a]. On his arrival there he found him making a railing [to the roof of his house, in accordance with Deuteronomy 22:8]. He said to him, Do you not accept [what] Rav Huna son of Idi [said] in Shemu’el’s name, Once a man is appointed head of a community, he may not do [manual] labor in the presence of three? [in order to preserve the dignity of his position]—‘I am [merely] making a small portion of a גוּנְדְּרִיתָא (gunddritha), fence,’ he replied. ‘Is not מַעֲקֶה (ma’aqeh), fence [the Hebrew for the same], as written in the Torah, or מְחִצָה (meḥitsah), partition, as used by the Rabbis, good enough?’ he replied [lit., ‘is it hateful?’ i.e., why such extravagant language?]. He said to him, ‘Sit you down on a אַקַרְפִּיטָא (aqarpita), seat, bench.’ ‘Is not סַפְסָל (safsal), as used by the Rabbis, or אִיצְטַבָּא (itstabba), as [common] people say, good enough?’ he asked. He said, ‘Will you partake of a אֶתְרוּנְגָּא (ethrungga), citron?’ This is what Shemu’el said: ‘He who says ethrungga, is a third [puffed up] with arrogance: either אֶתְרוֹג (ethrog), as it is called by the Rabbis, or אֶתְרוֹגָא (ethroga), as [common] people say.’ ‘Will you drink a cup of אַנְבְּגָא (anbbega), wine?’ he asked him. He answered, ‘Is the term אִיסְפַּארְגּוּס (isparggus), as it is called by the Rabbis, or אַנְפַּק (anpaq), as [common] people say distasteful to you?’ ‘Let [my daughter] Donag come and serve drink,’ he proposed. He replied, This is what Shemu’el says: ‘One must not make use of a woman.’ ‘[But] she is only a child!’—‘Shemu’el distinctly said: One must make no use at all of a woman, whether adult or child.’ ‘Will you send a greeting to [my wife] Yalta,’ he suggested. ‘This is what Shemu’el said,’ he replied, [To listen to] a woman’s voice is indecent.’ ‘It is possible through a messenger?’ He replied, This is what Shemu’el said: ‘One must not enquire after a woman’s welfare.’ ‘Then by her husband!’ He said, This is what Shemu’el said: ‘One must not enquire after a woman’s welfare at all.’ His wife sent [word] to him, ‘Settle his case for him, lest he make you like any ignoramus!’ ‘Why are you here?’ he asked him. ‘You sent me a summons,’ he replied. ‘Seeing that I do not even know your way of speech,’ he exclaimed: ‘would I send you a summons!’ Thereupon he drew out the summons from his bosom and showed [it] to him: ‘Behold the man and behold the summons!’ he said. ‘Yet since you have come here,’ he said: ‘let us discuss the matter, that it may not be said that the Rabbis show flatter each other.’ Then he asked him, ‘Why did you excommunicate that man?’ ‘Because he abused the Rabbis’ messenger.’ ‘Then you should have punished him [by flogging], for Rav punished [by flogging] him who abused a messenger of the Rabbis.’ ‘I dealt with him more severely’ [Tosafot in Yevamot 52a suggests that the reason was because he had insulted the Rabbi himself]. ‘Why did you have it proclaimed that he is a slave?’ He answered: ‘Because he was in the habit of calling [other] people slaves, and he who declares [others] unfit is [himself] unfit, and never speaks good [of anyone, cf. M Nega’im 2:5: ‘All the afflictions man sees, outside his own affliction’]; and Shemu’el said: With his own blemish he [stigmatizes others as] unfit.’ ‘But how did Shemu’el say this: only that one must suspect; yet did he say that he is to be proclaimed [so]?’ Meanwhile, his opponent said to Rav Yehudah, ‘You call me a slave,—I who am descended from the royal house of the Hasmoneans!’ ‘This is what Shemu’el said,’ he replied: ‘Whoever says: “I am descended from the house of the Hasmoneans is a slave’ [because the dynasty was wiped out by Herod, who, in spite of ascending the throne, was always regarded by the Jew’s as an Idumean slave. He, to exalt his children, called them Hasmoneans, see BT Bava Batra 3b]. [Rav Naḥman, who heard this exchange] said to him, ‘Do you not agree with what was said by Rabbi Abba in the name of Rav Huna in Rav’s name: Every scholar who proceeds to give a ruling [in his teacher’s name]: if he has stated it before the event, he is heeded; if not, he is not heeded?’ [i.e., when he gives a traditional ruling bearing on his own case, he is believed only if he had stated it before the same arose] ‘But there is Rav Mattanah who supports me,’ he replied. Now, Rav Mattanah had not seen Neharde’a for thirteen years, but on that day he visited it. He said to him [Rav Yehudah], ‘Do you remember what Shemu’el said when he stood with one foot on the bank and one foot on the ferry?’ ‘Thus said Shemu’el’, he replied: ‘He who claims, I am descended from the royal house of the Hasmoneans, is a slave, because there remained of them only one young girl who ascended a roof, lifted up her voice and cried out, Whoever says I am descended from the house of the Hasmoneans is a slave;’ then she fell from the roof and died.’ So he [Rav Yehudah’s litigant] was proclaimed a slave. On that day many ketubbot were torn up in Neharde’a [of women who belonged to that family, and accordingly bore the status of slaves, so that their marriage was invalid]. When he [Rav Yehudah] was leaving, they came out after him to stone him [for revealing their inferiority]. [But] he threatened them, ‘If you will be silent, be silent; if not, I will disclose against you what Shemu’el said: There are two families in Neharde’a, one called The House of Dove and the other, The House of Raven; and your mnemonic is, Unclean is unclean and the clean clean’ [the dove is a clean bird (i.e., fit for food); the raven is unclean. The House of Jonah is of pure descent; the other is not. Descendants of the two families were probably widespread in Neharde’a, but their origin was forgotten: hence the threat]. They threw away the stones out of their hands, which created a dam in the royal canal [so many were there].

[At that time] Rav Yehudah announced in Pumbedita: Adda and Yonatan are slaves; Yehudah son of Papa is a bastard: Bati son of Tuviyyah in his arrogance refused to accept a bill of emancipation. Rava proclaimed in Meḥoza: Balla’ai, Danna’ai, Talla’ai, Malla’ai, Zagga’ai [these are either places or family names. Probably they are contemptuous nicknames, which may mean, old rags, barrels, patches, stuffings and grape skins]—all these are unfit.

Rav Yehudah said: The Gova’ai are Gibeonites; Dorenunita is a village of Nethinim [Gibeonites]. Rav Yosef said: This Bei Kuvei of Pumbedita [in the vicinity] of Pumbedita consists entirely of slaves [who had intermingled with the populace, though they had never been formally emancipated]. Rav Yehudah said in Shemu’el’s name: Pashḥur son of Immer [a priestly contemporary of Jeremiah who had him put in the stocks because of his dire prophecies of national disaster] had four hundred slaves—others say, four thousand slaves—and all became mixed up in the priesthood, and every priest who displays impudence is [descended] from none but them. Abayye said: And they all sit in the Wall [i.e., the rows of honor] of Neharde’a. Now he [Rav Yehudah] differs from Rabbi El’azar. For Rabbi El’azar said: If you see a priest with brazen forehead, have no suspicions of him, for it is said: [Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another:] for your people are as they that strive with the priest (Hosea 4:4).

Rabbi Avin son of Rav Adda said in Rav’s name: Whoever takes a wife who is not fit for him [i.e., of an unfit stock], when the blessed Holy One causes His Divine Presence to rest [on Israel], He testifies with regard to all the tribes [that they are His people], but does not testify with regard to him, for it is said: The tribes go up, the Tribes of Yah. An ordinance it is for Israel (Psalms 122:4–5): when is it an ordinance… for Israel? When the tribes are Tribes of Yah [but not when their lineage is flawed]. Rabbi Ḥama son of Rabbi Ḥanina said: When the blessed Holy One causes His Divine Presence to rest, it is only upon families of pure birth in Israel, for it is said: At the same time, says YHWH, will I be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be My people (Jeremiah 30:25)—not to all Israel, but to all the clans of Israel, is said [thus the limitation must exclude those of questionable birth]—and they shall be My people. Rabbah son of Rav Huna said: This is a higher standard between Israel and converts. For in respect to Israel it is written, I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Ezekiel 37:27); whereas of converts it is written, For who is this that devoted his heart to approach Me? says YHWH. And you shall be My people, and I will be your God (Jeremiah 30:21–22).

Rabbi Ḥelbo said: Converts are as קָשִׁים (qashim), tough, for Israel as a scab, for it is said: And the strangers shall be joined with them, וְנִסְפְּחוּ (ve-nispeḥu), and they shall cling, to the house of Jacob (Isaiah 14:1). Here it is written: ve-nispeḥu; whilst elsewhere it is written, [This is the teaching for every affliction of skin blanch…] and for inflammation and for a סַּפַּחַת (sapaḥat), scab (Leviticus 14:56) [cf. BT Niddah 13b; Zohar 3:206b. For the many positive statements concerning converts, see BT Bava Metsi’a 59b; BT Pesaḥim 87b; TanḥumaLekh Lekha 6Bemidbar Rabbah 8:1–2; Zohar 1:215a].

Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥanina said: When the blessed Holy One purifies the tribes, He will first purify the tribe of Levi, for it is said: And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to YHWH an offering in righteousness (Malachi 3:3). Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi said: Money purifies bastards, for it is said, And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver [by means of their wealth they intermarry with Israel, and having thus mingled, they will not be separated in the future]. What is meant by, that they may offer to YHWH an offering in צְדָקָה (tsedaqah), righteousness? Rabbi Yitsḥaq says: The blessed Holy One showed צְדָקָה (tsedaqah), charity, to Israel, in that a family once נִטְמְעָה (nitme’ah), mixed up [i.e., assimilated with illegitimate elements], remains so [and no attempt is to be made to excise it].

The [above] text [states]: Rav Yehudah said in Shemue’l’s name: All lands are as dough in comparison with the land of Israel, and the land of Israel is as dough compared to Babylon. In the days of Rabbi [circa 135–220 C.E.] it was desired to render Babylon as dough regarding the land of Israel [to declare the families of the land of Israel of purer birth, so that if a Babylonian desired to marry into a families of the land of Israel he would have to prove the purity of his own descent—it was thought that by now the families of the land of Israel were pure, and so it was due to the honor of the land of Israel to make this change]. He said to them, You are putting thorns between my eyes! [Rabbi was a descendant of Hillel, a Babylonian, and so this would cast a stigma upon his birth]. If you wish, Rabbi Ḥanina son of Ḥama will join with you. So Rabbi Ḥanina son of Ḥama joined with them and said to them, ‘I have this tradition from Rabbi Yishma’el son of Rabbi Yose who said on his father’s authority: All lands are as dough in comparison with the land of Israel, and the land of Israel is as dough compared to Babylon’ [i.e., a mere declaration cannot change an historical fact].

In the days of Rabbi Pinḥas it was desired to declare Babylon as dough with regard to the land of Israel. He said to his slaves, ‘When I have made two statements in the academy, pick me up on a stretcher and flee.’ When he entered he said to them, ‘A fowl does not require slaughter by Biblical law.’ While they were sitting and scrutinizing this, he said to them, ‘All lands are as dough in comparison with the land of Israel, and the land of Israel is as dough compared to Babylon.’ They picked him up on a stretcher and fled. They chased him, but could not overtake him. Then they sat and examined [their genealogies], until they came to danger; so they refrained [to accuse influential families of flaws due to their power].

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: By the Temple! It is in our power; but what shall I do, seeing that the greatest men of our time are mixed up into it? [Thus] he holds with Rabbi Yitsḥaq, who said: Once a family becomes mixed up [i.e., assimilated], it remains so. Abayye said: We have learnt likewise: There was a family, Beit ha-Tserifa, in Transjordan, which Son of Tsiyyon [a  person of great importance and power] forcibly expelled. There was another, which Son of Tsiyyon forcibly brought near. Such as these, Elijah will come to declare impure or pure, to distance or draw near [cf. the rabbinic saying: תִּשְׁבִּי יְתָרֵץ קֻשְׁיוֹת וְאִבַּעְיוֹת (Tishbi yetarets qushyot ve-iba’eyot), the Tishbite (i.e., Elijah) will resolve difficult questions and problems]. [Hence, only] such as these, who are known; but once a family becomes mixed up, it remains so [not even Elijah will publicize its flaw]. It was taught: There was yet another, which the sages declined to reveal, but the sages confided it to their children and disciples once every seven years—others say, twice every seven years. Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq: Reason supports the view that it was once every seven years. Even as it was taught [in a baraita (Tosefta, Nazir 1:2)]: [If one vows,] ‘Behold, I will be a nazirite if I do not reveal the families [which are impure],’ he must be a nazirite, and not reveal the families [this shows how inadvisable and dangerous such action might be; hence once every seven years would have been enough]….

Shemu’el said on the authority of an old man: Babylon stands in the presumption of being fit, until you know how it became unfit [i.e., a Babylonian Jew is presumed to be of pure descent and fit to marry into any Jewish family, unless we definitely know the contrary]; other lands are presumed to be unfit, until you know how they are fit [as stated on 76a; the four preceding generations must be examined]. As for the land of Israel, he who has the presumption of unfitness is unfit; he who has the presumption of fitness is fit. But this is self contradictory: you say, he who has the presumption of unfitness is unfit—hence, when undetermined [i.e., there is no presumption at all about him], he is fit; then you teach, he who has the presumption of fitness is fit hence, when undetermined, he is unfit? Rav Huna son of Taḥalifa said in Rav’s name: There is no difficulty: here it is to permit him to take a wife; there it is to take the wife from him [i.e., to order him to divorce her. When one wishes to marry a woman of proved pure descent, he must prove his own fitness, if he lacks the established presumption. On the other hand, if he is married to such, he is not compelled to divorce her unless his own unfitness is established]. Rav Yosef said: He whose speech is Babylonian [i.e., anyone who speaks the Babylonian language with a Babylonian accent] is permitted to take a wife [of superior birth]. But nowadays, when there are swindlers, we fear [them].

Ze’iri was evading Rabbi Yoḥanan, who was urging him, ‘Marry my daughter’ [however, Ze’iri being a Babylonian, and Rabbi Yoḥanan being of the land of Israel, he did not wish to marry his daughter, since the Babylonians are of purer birth]. One day they were winding down the road, when they came to a pool of water. He lifted Rabbi Yoḥanan on his shoulders and carried him across. He said to him: ‘Our teaching is fit but our daughters are not fit? What is your opinion? If we say the reason is because we learned, ‘Ten different genealogical classes went up from Babylon: Priests, Levites…’ (M Qiddushin 4:1)? Is that to say all of the priests, Levites and Israelites went up? Just as some of these were left, so were some of those left [in Babylon, so that both are equal].’ [However, Rabbi Yoḥanan] overlooked what Rabbi El’azar said: Ezra did not go up from Babylon until he made it like pure sifted flour: then he went up [accordingly, the people who remained in Babylon were all of untainted lineage].

‘Ulla visited Rav Yehudah in Pumbedita. Seeing that Rav Yitsḥaq, the son of Rav Yehudah, was grown up, yet unmarried, he asked him, ‘Why have you not taken a wife for your son?’ ‘Do I know where to take one?’ he replied [i.e., ‘I desire a wife for my son with untainted lineage’]. He said, ‘What do we know? Perhaps [we are] from those of whom is written: They ravished the women in Zion, and the young women in the cities of Judah (Lamentations 5:11). And should you answer: If a heathen or slave has intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite, the issue is fit—then perhaps [we are descended] from those of whom is written, [youthat lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch yourselves upon your couches (Amos 6:4). Now, Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Ḥanina said: This refers to people who urinate before their beds naked [since they are bereft of any sense of modesty]. But Rabbi Abbahu ridiculed this: If so, see what is written: Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, [and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed] (ibid., 7)—because they urinate before their beds naked they shall go captive with the first that go captive! Rabbi Abbahu said, But this refers to people who eat and drink together, join their beds, exchange their wives and make their beds foul with semen that is not theirs.’ Rav Yehudah said, ‘What shall we do [i.e., how can I discern which families are of untainted lineage]?’ ‘Go after the silence,’ [Ulla] replied. As the sons of the West [in the land of Israel] make a test: When two quarrel with each other, they see which becomes silent first, and say: This one is of superior birth [see BT Ketubbot 14b].

[However,] Rav said: Silence in Babylon, is [the sign of] pure birth. But is it so? For Rav visited the house of a vinegar strainer and examined them; surely that means as to their genealogy? No, by silence. He said this to them: Examine whether they become silent or not. Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: If you see two families [continually] feuding, there is a blemish of unfitness in one of them, and they are prevented [by Heaven] from cleaving to each other….

Our Rabbis taught: Bastards and Gibeonites will become pure in the future: this is Rabbi Yose’s view. Rabbi Me’ir said: They will not become pure. Rabbi Yose said to him: But was it not already stated: Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean (Ezekiel 36:25)? Rabbi Me’ir replied, When it says further, from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you (ibid.) [it implies] but not from bastard status. Rabbi Yose said to him: When it is said, Then will I sprinkle clean water… you must say: From bastard status too” (BT Qiddushin 71b–72b).

“‘Rabbi Yoḥanan said: There is a difference between them [concerning a person who when he is called] ‘bastard’ protests and [when he is called] חָלָל (ḥalal), profaned, is silent. The first Tanna holds [that] every person who when called ‘unfit’ is silent is [considered] unfit, and thus the first Tanna said: Which is the widow of a mixed family? When there is in it no one who is silent if he is called ‘bastard’ or ‘nethin‘ [see Ezra 2:70], or ‘slave of the king,’ or ‘profaned.’ Whereupon Rabbi Me’ir said to him: This applies only to [each of] these cases since [he who calls him so is liable to] render him unfit [to enter] into [the congregation,] but he who is called ‘profaned’ and is silent [and does not protest against the stigma attached to his descent], is fit, and the reason he is silent is that it does not trouble him [since he is not excluded from the congregation]. Whereupon Rabbi Shim’on son of El’azar said to the first Tanna of Rabbi Me’ir: If you have heard that Rabbi Me’ir declares the person fit in the case of silence, this is not when he is called ‘profaned’ and is silent, but when he is called ‘bastard’ and is silent, for the reason he is silent is because he says to himself, ‘a bastard is well-known.’ But [if he is called] ‘bastard’ and he protests, or [he is called] ‘profaned’ and is silent he is unfit [for the priesthood], for the reason he is silent is because he thinks, ‘it is enough if he is not excluded from the congregation’ [as he is not excluded from the congregation, he does not desire any investigations into his origin (Rashi)].

One baraita taught: Rabbi Yose says: [if he is called] ‘bastard’ and is silent, he is fit, and if he is called ‘profaned’ and is silent, he is unfit [for the priesthood]. And another baraita taught: [if he is called] ‘profaned’ and is silent he is fit, [but if he is called] ‘bastard’ and is silent, he is unfit. There is no difficulty; the one is according to the first Tanna in the sense of Rabbi Me’ir [who holds that silence in response to allegations of being ‘profaned’ does not render one unfit], and the other one is according to Rabbi Shim’on son of El’azar in the sense of Rabbi Me’ir” (BT Ketubbot 14b).

“Rabbah son of Son of Ḥana said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan: All agree that where a slave or a heathen had intercourse with a daughter of an Israelite the child is a bastard. Who is meant by ‘All agree’? Shim’on the Temanite. For although Shim’on the Temanite said that the offspring of forbidden intercourse under the penalty of flogging is not a bastard, his statement applies only to the offspring of forbidden intercourse under the penalty of flogging, since the betrothal in such a case is valid [cf. BT Yevamot 23a] but here, in the case of a heathen and a slave, since betrothal in their case is invalid [see BT Qiddushin 68b], they are like those whose intercourse is subject to the penalty of כָּרֵת (karet), excommunication [lit., cutting off].

An objection was raised: If a slave or a heathen had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite the child is a bastard. Rabbi Shim’on son of Yehudah said: A bastard is only he who [is the offspring of intercourse which] is forbidden as incest and is punishable by excommunication [now this Tanna, whose view is exactly the same as that of Shim’on the Temanite, indicates quite clearly that the offspring of intercourse with a heathen or slave is not a bastard!]—rather, Rabbi Yosef said, who [is referred to by] ‘All agree’? It is Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi]. Although Rabbi said, ‘[Cohabitation with a deceased brother’s wife after חֲלִיצָה (ḥalitsah), Loosening, with her rival has not the force of marriage and no divorce is required. The child from such intercourse would consequently be deemed a bastard] these words are applicable only according to the view of Rabbi Akiva who regards a חֲלוּצָה (ḥalutsah), released woman, as a forbidden relative’ [see BT Yevamot 52b], while he himself does not share the same view [but maintains that the child of such intercourse is no bastard], he agrees [with Rabbi Akiva; and the child is consequently a bastard] in the case of a heathen and a slave. For when Rav Dimi came [from the land of Israel to Babylon] he said in the name of Rav Yitsḥaq son of Avudimi in the name of our Master, ‘If a heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite the child [born from such intercourse] is a bastard.’

Rabbi Aḥa, the officer of the city, and Rabbi Tanḥum son of Rabbi Ḥiyya of Akko village once redeemed some captives who were brought from Armon to Tiberias, [among these] was one who had become pregnant from a heathen. When they came before Rabbi Ammi he told them: It was Rabbi Yoḥanan and Rabbi El’azar and Rabbi Ḥanina who stated that if a heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite the child born is a bastard.

Rabbi Yosef said: Is it a great thing to enumerate men? [i.e., just as a string of names could be quoted in support of the view that the child is a bastard, an equally imposing number could be quoted in opposition]. Surely it was Rav and Shemu’el in Babylon and Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi and Son of Qappara in the land of Israel—and some say to remove Son of Qappara and insert the Elders of the South—who said that if a heathen or a slave had intercourse with a daughter of an Israelite, the child born is fit! Rather, Rabbi Yosef said, it is [the opinion of] Rabbi [and it is Rabbi’s fame and position, and not the number of comparatively minor authorities that imparted the force of law to this view]. For when Rav Dimi came he said in the name of Rav Yitsḥaq son of Avudimi that it was reported in the name of our Masters that if a heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite the child [born from such intercourse] is a bastard.

Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi said: The child is tainted. In respect of what? If it be suggested in respect of entry into the community, surely Rabbi Yehoshua son of Levi said that the child was fit! Then it must be in respect of the priesthood; for all Amoraim who declare the child fit admit that he is ineligible for the priesthood. This is inferred by deduction from the case of a widow a fortiori. If in the case of a widow who was married to a High priest, whose prohibition is not equally applicable to all, her son is tainted, how much more should the son of this woman be tainted whose prohibition is equally applicable to all [since the daughters of priests, of Levites and of Israelites are all equally forbidden to marry a heathen or a slave]. The case of a widow who was married to a High Priest may be different, since she herself becomes profaned! Here also, as soon as cohabitation occurred the woman is disqualified; for Rabbi Yoḥanan stated in the name of Rabbi Shim’on [alt., Rabbi Yishma’el]: From where is it inferred that if a heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of a priest, of a Levite or of an Israelite, he disqualified her? [From eating sacred donations if she is the daughter of a priest. If the daughter of a Levite or an Israelite who was married to a priest and left with children after her husband’s death, she loses her right to the eating of sacred donations (to which she was entitled by virtue of her children) and, of course, becomes ineligible to marry a priest, as soon as intercourse with the heathen or slave had taken place]. It was stated And should a priest’s daughter be married to an outsider, [she shall not eat of the levy of the sacred donations] (Leviticus 22:13); Only in the case of a man in relation to whom widowhood or divorce is applicable; a heathen and a slave are consequently excluded since in relation to them no widowhood or divorce is applicable.

Abayye said to him: What reason do you see for relying upon Rav Dimi? Rely rather on Ravin! For when Ravin came [from the land of Israel to Babylon] he reported that Rabbi Natan and Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi ruled that such a child is fit; and Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi is, of course, Rabbi!

And Rav also ruled that the child is legitimate. For once a man appeared before Rav and asked him, ‘A heathen or a slave had intercourse with the daughter of an Israelite—what is he?’ He said: ‘The child is fit.’ He said, ‘[Then] give me your daughter.’ ‘I will not give [her] to you.’ Shimi son of Ḥiyya said to Rav, ‘People say that in Media [i.e., in foreign lands where wonders occur,] a camel can dance on a [mere] qav; here is the qav, here is the camel and here is Media, but there is no dancing!’ [i.e., Rav had displayed originality and marvelous courage by his ruling, and yet stops short of carrying it into practice]. ‘Had he been equal to Joshua son of Nun I would not have given him my daughter,’ the Master replied. He said, ‘Had he been like Joshua son of Nun others would have given him their daughters, if the Master had not given him his; but with this man, if the Master will not give him, others also will not give him’ [since they would regard the Master’s refusal as an indication that the man is actually unfit]. He would not go away, [thus Rav] fixed his eyes upon him and he died” (BT Yevamot 44b–45b).

“Our Rabbis taught: Let a man always sell all he has and marry the daughter of a disciple of a sage. If he does not find the daughter of a disciple of a sage, let him marry the daughter of [one of] the great men of the generation. If he does not find the daughter of [one of] the great men of the generation, let him marry the daughter of the head of the congregation. If he does not find the daughter of the head of congregation, let him marry the daughter of a charity treasurer. If he does not find the daughter of a charity treasurer, let him marry the daughter of a schoolteacher, but let him not marry the daughter of עַם הָאָרֶץ (‘am ha-arets), people of the land [i.e., ignorant country folk], because they are detestable and their wives are vermin, and of their daughters it is said, Cursed be he who lies with any beast (Deuteronomy 27:21)….

Rabbi El’azar said [of the] ignorant country folk: It is permitted to stab him [even] on the Day of Atonement which falls on the Sabbath. His disciples said to him, Master, say to slaughter him [ritually]? He replied: This [ritual slaughter] requires a blessing, whereas that [stabbing] does not require a blessing. Rabbi El’azar said: One must not join company with ignorant country folk on the road, because it is said, for it [Torah] is your life and your length of days (Deuteronomy 30:20): [seeing that] he has no care for his own life [in that he forsakes Torah], how much the more for the life of his companions! Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said in Rabbi Yoḥanan’s name: One may tear ignorant country folk like a fish! Said Rabbi Shemu’el son of Yitsḥaq: And [this means] along his back.

It was taught, Rabbi Akiva said: When I was of the ignorant country folk I said: If I only had a disciple of a sage [before me], and I would maul him like a donkey. His disciples said to him, Rabbi, say like a dog! The former bites and breaks the bones, while the latter bites but does not break the bones, he answered them.

It was taught, Rabbi Me’ir used to say: Whoever marries his daughter to ignorant country folk, is as though he bound and laid her before a lion: just as a lion tears [his prey] and devours it and has no shame, so ignorant country folk strike and cohabit and have no shame.

It was taught, Rabbi Eli’ezer said: Only that we are necessary to them for trade, [otherwise] they would kill us! Rabbi Ḥiyya taught: Whoever delves in Torah in front of ignorant country folk, is as though he coupled with his betrothed in his presence [so great is the affront which they feel when Torah is studied in their presence (Rashi)], for it is said, A teaching did Moses charge us, a heritage for Jacob’s assembly! (Deuteronomy 33:4): do not read מוֹרָשָׁה (morashah), heritage, but מְאוֹרָסָה (me’orasah), the betrothed.

Greater is the hatred of ignorant country folk for the disciples of the sages than the hatred of heathens for Israel, and their wives [hate even] more than they. It was taught: He who has studied and then abandoned [Torah] [hates the disciples of the sages] more than all of them. Our Rabbis taught: Six things were said of ignorant country folk: We do not commit testimony to them; we do not accept testimony from them; we do not reveal a secret to them; we do not appoint them as guardians for orphans; we do not appoint them stewards over charity funds; and we must not join their company on the road. Some say, We do not announce their lost articles [he who finds lost property is obligated to announce it; if the owner is of the ignorant country folk, he is not obligated to announce it]. But the first Tanna [why does he omit this]? Virtuous seed may sometimes issue from him, and they will enjoy it, as is said, What the wicked will prepare, the righteous will wear (Job 27:17)” (BT Pesaḥim 49b).

“For Rabbi Abba has said, ‘How many wicked there are in the world who engender more virtuous children than the righteous!’” (Zohar 2:12b).

The Son of an Israelite Woman Pronounced the Name: He who Pronounces the Name shall be Doomed to Die

Should your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or your daughter or the wife of your bosom or your companion who is like your own self incite you in secret, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” that you did not know, neither you nor your fathers… you shall not spare him and you shall not pity him and shall not shield him. But you shall surely kill him (Deuteronomy 13:7–10).

“On the eve of the Passover Jesus the Nazarene was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed [or: incited] Israel. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!—Ulla said: ‘Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not an enticer concerning whom Scripture says, you shall not pity him and shall not shield him (Deuteronomy 13:9)? With Jesus however it was different, for he was connected with the government'” (BT Sanhedrin 43a, cf. Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 69, 97a).

“Our Rabbis taught: Always let the left hand push away but the right hand draw near unlike Elisha, who pushed away Gehazi with his two hands, and unlike Yehoshu’a son of Peraḥya, who pushed away Jesus the Nazarene with his two hands….

What of Yehoshu’a son of Peraḥya?—when King Yannai [Hyrcanus] was slaughtering the Sages, Yehoshu’a son of Peraḥya and Jesus fled to Alexandria of Egypt. When there was peace, Shim’on son of Shetaḥ sent to him: ‘From me, Jerusalem the holy city, to you, Alexandria of Egypt my sister. My husband dwells within you and I am desolate.’ He arose, went, and found himself in a certain inn, where great honor was shown him. ‘How beautiful is this אַכְסַנִיָא (aḥsaniya)!’ [the word denotes both ‘inn’ and ‘innkeeper.’ Yehoshu’a used it in the first sense; the answer assumes the second to be meant]. Thereupon [Jesus] said to him, ‘Rabbi, her eyes are narrow.’ ‘Wicked one! This is how you engage yourself?’ He sounded four hundred ram’s horns and excommunicated him. He came before him many times pleading, ‘Receive me!’ But he would take no notice of him. One day he was reciting the Shema, when Jesus came before him. He intended to receive him and gestured to him with his hand [cf. M Berakhot 5:1: ‘Even if a snake is wound round his heel he should not interrupt’]. [Jesus] thinking that it was to shoo him away, went, put up a brick, and worshiped it. ‘Repent,’ he said to him. He replied, ‘[But] I have received from you: He who offends and causes others to offend is not given the opportunity to repent.’ And a master has said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene practiced magic and led Israel astray'” (BT Sanhedrin 107b).

“Ten kavs of witchcraft descended to the world: nine were taken by Egypt and one by the rest of the world” (BT Qiddushin 49b).

“Son of Stada brought forth witchcraft from Egypt by means of scratches [in the form of charms] upon his flesh…. Was he then the son of Stada: surely he was the son of Pandera?—Rav Ḥisda said: The husband was Stada, the lover was Pandera. But the husband was Pappos son of Yehudah?—his mother was סְטָדָא (Stadtha). But his mother was Miriam the hairdresser?—it is as we say in Pumbedita: סָטָת דָּא (Satath da), this one veered, from her husband” (BT Shabbat 104b, cf. BT Sanhedrin 67a).

“Rabbi Shim’on the Devout said: ‘There are 974 generations who pressed themselves forward to be created before the world was created, but were not created: the blessed Holy One arose and planted them in each and every generation, and it is they who are the impudent of the generation” (BT Ḥagigah 13b).

And the son of an Israelite woman, he being the son of an Egyptian man, went out among the Children of Israel, and the son of the Israelite woman and a certain Israelite man brawled in the camp [and the son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name, vilifying it…. וְנֹקֵב שֵׁם יְהוָה מוֹת יוּמָת (ve-noqev shem Adonai mot yumat)And he who pronounces YHWH’s name shall be doomed to dieיֵשׁוּ (yeshu), Jesus] (Leviticus 24:10–11, 16).

[And the son of an Israelite woman…] went out. Rabbi Yehudah said, ‘He went out from the sphere of all, he went out from the sphere of faith, and he went out from the sphere of the share of Israel. ‘Brawled in the camp—from here we learn: Whoever comes from polluted seed eventually exposes if before all. What causes this? Filth of the evil portion within him, for he has no share in the entire sphere of Israel.

Rabbi Ḥiyya opened, ‘It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, the glory of kings, to probe a matter (Proverbs 25:2). It is the glory of God to conceal a matter—for a human is not permitted to divulge hidden matters not intended to be revealed, things covered by the Ancient of Days, as is said: that they may eat their fill and cover themselves elegantly (Isaiah 23:18). That they may eat their fill—until that place permitted to you, no farther. Nevertheless, and cover themselves עָתִיק (athiq), elegantly—and cover עָתִּיק (attiq), the Ancient One, surely!

Alternatively, that they may eat their fill—the Companions who know ways and paths, to walk in the way of faith fittingly, such as the generation in which Rabbi Shim’on dwells. And cover the Ancient One—from other generations, for none of them are worthy to eat their fill and to have matters revealed among them. Rather, cover the Ancient One—as is said: Do not let your mouth make your flesh sin (Ecclesiastes 5:5). In the days of Rabbi Shim’on, a person would say to his fellow, ‘Open your mouth and let your words shine!’ After he passed away, they would say, ‘Do not let your mouth make your flesh sin.’ In his days, to eat their fill; and after he passed away, and cover the Ancient One—for the Companions stammer and cannot comprehend.

Alternatively, to eat their fill—of those matters that are revealed. And cover the Ancient One—those matters that are covered.

The son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name (Leviticus 24:11). What is meant by וַיִּקֹּב (va-yiqqov), pronounced? Rabbi Abba said, ‘Va-yiqqov, Pierced, surely—as is said: וַיִּקֹּב (Va-yiqqov), He pierced, a hole in its door (2 Kings 12:10)—piercing what had been closed up.’

His mother’s name was Shelomith daughter of Dibri (Leviticus 24:11). Until here, Scripture concealed his mother’s name; once it is written וַיִּקֹּב (va-yiqqov), pierced, Scripture נָקִיב (neqeiv), designated, his mother’s name [as if to say, ‘נָקַב (naqav), Cursed, be the one who bore and raised a son such as this’]. Rabbi Abba said, ‘Were it not that the Holy Lamp exists in the world, I would not be permitted to reveal. From here on, this word is conveyed only to the Companions, who are among the Reapers of the Field. Contrarily, any who seek to reveal to those who do not know—may their spirit expire!

Come and see: It is written and the son of the Israelite woman and a certain Israelite man brawled in the camp (Leviticus 24:10). This verse has already been established; but this is the son of another wife of his father, husband of Shelomith. When that Egyptian copulated with [Shelomith] in the middle of the night, and [her husband] returned home and realized what had happened, he separated from her and no longer cohabited with her. He took another wife and engendered this one, called a certain Israelite man, whereas the other one is the son of the Israelite woman [cf. Vayiqra Rabbah 32:4: ‘He was definitely a bastard’; Zohar 2:90b: ‘Rabbi Yitsḥak said, Honor your father—your father (Exodus 20:12), precisely, for look, one who covets a woman and engenders a child, that child will honor another who is not his father!’]. If they brawled with one another, what need is there here for the Holy Name, and why did he curse the Holy Name? Well, in the midst of fighting, that certain Israelite man said something about [the other one’s] mother. Immediately, וַיִּקּוֹב בֶּן הָאִשָּׁה הַיִּשְׂרְאֵלִית (va-yiqqov ben ha-ishah ha-yisre’elit), the son of the Israelite woman pierced—as is said: (Va-yiqqov), He pierced, a hole in its door (2 Kings 12:10). Mystery of the matter: He took the ה״ (he) of the Holy Name [יהוה (YHWH)] and cursed, to defend his mother. This is piercing, for he pierced the Holy Name. This is uttered for the Reapers of the Field. Mystery of the matter: Such is the way of an adulteress: [she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wrong’] (Proverbs 30:20). Happy is the share of the righteous, who know the matter and conceal it! Thus it is said Have your quarrel with your neighbor, but another’s secret do not reveal (ibid. 25:9).

The final ה״ (he) [of יהוה (YHWH)] was the Female, suckling on two sides. Consequently, She took the weapons of the King to wreak Her vengeance. Take out the one who cursed (Leviticus 24:14). Thus it is written Every man shall revere his mother and his father (ibid. 19:3), reverence for one’s mother preceding that of one’s father. Happy are Israel in this world and in the world that is coming!

Alternatively… Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘They brawled with one another and he said something about [the other one’s] mother, and that his father was the one killed by the Holy Name—as has been established: It is written הַלְהָרְגֵנִי אַתָּה אֹמֵר (Ha-lehargeni attah omer), Do you speak to kill me [as you killed the Egyptian]? (Exodus 2:14), for Moses killed him by the Holy Name. So he extended a word toward him. This is why it is written The son of the Israelite woman pronounced the Name, cursing it, and he was brought to Moses. Why? Because it pertained to Moses, since he had killed [the man’s] father by the Holy Name. Therefore, he was brought to Moses. Once Moses perceived, immediately, he was put under guard…. (Leviticus 24:12); so father and son fell into Moses’ hands” (Zohar 3:105b–106b).

Sometimes in those Empty Ones You May Discover Bells of Gold!

vishniac-beggarsA teaching did Moses charge us, a heritage for Jacob’s assembly! (Deuteronomy 33:4).

“Rabbi Parnak said in Rabbi Yoḥanan’s name: He who is himself a scholar, and his son is a scholar, and his son’s son too, Torah will nevermore cease from his seed, as is written, As for me, this is My covenant with them, says YHWH; My spirit that is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your descendants, nor out of the mouth of your descendant’s descendants, says YHWH, from this time forth and forever (Isaiah 59:21). What is meant by says YHWH?—the blessed Holy One, said, ‘I am surety for you in this matter.’ What is the meaning of from this time forth and forever?—Rabbi Yirmeyahu said: ‘From now on Torah seeks its home [i.e., it becomes hereditary in that family]” (BT Bava Metsi’a 85a).

“Rabbi Yose said: Let the property of your fellow be as precious to you as your own. Prepare yourself to study Torah, for it does not come to you as an inheritance. And let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven” (M Avot 2:17).

“If one wants to become a priest or a Levite he cannot because his father was not a priest or a Levite. However, if one wants to become righteous even if he is a gentile he can do so because it is not a family trait, as it says: bless YHWH, those who fear YHWH, bless YHWH (Psalms 135:20)—it does not say the house of those who fear YHWH but those who fear YHWH. It is not a family trait, rather, on their own they chose to fear and love the blessed Holy One. Therefore, the blessed Holy One loves them” (Bemidbar Rabbah 8:2).

“Be heedful of the children of the poor, for from them Torah goes forth, as is written, Water drips מִדָּלְיָו (midalyav), from his branch, [and his root in abundant waters] (Numbers 24:7)—[מִדַּלִּים (mi-dallim), from the poor,] goes forth Torah [likened to water]. And why is it not usual for scholars to give birth to sons who are scholars?—Rabbi Yosef said, ‘That they not say, The Torah is their legacy’ [i.e., others should not complain that it is useless for them to study, or that they themselves should not think study unnecessary]. Rav Sheshet, the son of Rav Idi, said: ‘That they should not be arrogant towards the public.’ Mar Zutra said: ‘Because they act high-handedly against the public.’ Rav Ashi said: ‘Because they call people donkeys.’ Ravina said: Because they do not first utter a blessing over the Torah [as required]. For Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: ‘What is meant by, Who is the wise man, that may understand this? [… for why is the land perished and is burned up like a wilderness, that none passes through?] (Jeremiah 9:11). Now, this question was put to the sages and prophets but they could not answer it until the blessed Holy One Himself did so, as is written, And YHWH says, Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, neither walked in it (ibid., 12): but is not have not obeyed My voice identical with, neither walked in it?—Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: ‘[It means] that they did not first recite a blessing over Torah'” (BT Nedarim 81a).

Like a slice of pomegranate רַקָּתֵךְ (raqatekh), your forehead (Song of Songs 4:3)…. Even רֵיקַנִין (reiqanin), the empty ones, among you are as full of mitsvot as a pomegranate [is full of seeds]” (BT Berakhot 57a).

“That donkey-driver, is he here? For sometimes in those empty ones, you may discover bells of gold! [In rabbinic literature the bell appears as a symbol of revelation and inspiration, see BT Sotah 9b, in the name of Rabbi Neḥemiah: ‘Shekhinah was ringing before him like a bell’]” (Zohar 2:95a).

“Sometimes in a poor man’s undergarment you’ll find a pearl” (Zohar 3:157b, cf. M Avot 4:1).

“Rabbi Yose son of Yehudah of Bavli village said: When you learn from the young, what is it like? Like eating unripe grapes or drinking wine straight from the vat. When you learn from the old, what is it like? Like eating ripe grapes and drinking old wine.

Rabbi Me’ir said: Do not look at the flask but at what it contains, for a new flask may contain old wine, and an old flask may not contain anything, even new wine” (M Avot 5:26–27).

The Serpent and the Messiah

IMG_1222“And the human called his woman’s name חַוָּה (Ḥavvah), Eve, for she was the mother of all that lives (Genesis 3:20)—she was given to him for an adviser, but she played the eavesdropper like the serpent. He showed her how many generations she had destroyed. Rabbi Aha interpreted: The serpent was your serpent [i.e., seducer], and you are Adam’s חִוְיָא (ḥivya), serpent” (Bereshit Rabbah 20:11).

And she bore a son and called his name Seth, as to say, ‘God has granted me other seed in place of Abel, for Cain has killed him’ (Genesis 4:25). Rabbi Tanḥuma said in the name of Shemu’el Kozit: [She hinted at] seed which would arise from another source, namely King Messiah [i.e., not from Hebrew stock]” (Bereshit Rabbah 23:5).

And this is the lineage of Perez. Perez begat Hezron. And Hezron begat Ram and Ram begat Aminadab. And Aminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmah. And Salmah begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed. And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David (Ruth 4:18–22).

“Rabbi Abba son of Qahana opened, רִגְזוּ (Rigzu), quake, and do not offend (Psalms 4:5). David said to the blessed Holy One ‘How long will מִתְרַגְּזִים (mitraggezim), they rage against, me and say, Is he not of tainted descent? Is he not a descendant of Ruth the Moabite? Speak in your hearts on your beds (ibid.). You also, are you not descended from two sisters [namely, Rachel and Leah who married the same man]? Look upon your own genealogy and be still (ibid.). And Tamar who married your ancestor Judah—is it not a tainted descent? She was but a descendant of Shem the son of Noah [who married his sister, see Jubilees 4:11]. Do you then have an honorable descent?’

[Quake and do not offend.] Rabbi Ya’aqov son of Ahiyah said: Fight against your impulse and do not offend. The Rabbis explain: Anger your impulse and do not offend.

וְאֵלֶּה (Ve-elleh), And these, are the lineage of Perez (Ruth 4:18). Rabbi Abba said: Wherever אֵלֶּה (elleh), these, occurs, it invalidates the preceding; וְאֵלֶּה (ve-elleh), and these, adds to the preceding.

And Hezron begat Ram (ibid., 19). But was not Jerahmeel the elder son, as is written, The sons also of Hezron, that were born unto him; Jerahmeel, and Ram, and Chelubai (1 Chronicles 2:9)? [Jerahmeel is omitted] because he married a Canaanite woman in order to adorn himself with her, as is written, Jerahmeel had also another wife, whose name was עֲטָרָה (Atarah)Diadem, Adornment (ibid. 2:26).

And Ram begat Aminadab. And Aminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmah (Ruth 4:19–20). [Why is he called שַׂלְמָה (Salmah)?] Because up to him they formed סוּלָמוֹת (sulamot), ladders, of princes, from him onwards they formed ladders of kings.

Rabbi Yitsḥaq opened, Then did I think: Look, I come (Psalms 40:8). I ought to have sung a song that I have come, since the word אָז (az), then, refers to song, as is said, אָז (az), then, did Moses sing (Exodus 15:1). I was included in the verse No Ammonite nor Moabite shall come into YHWH’s assembly. [Even his tenth generation shall not come into YHWH’s assembly ever] (Deuteronomy 23:4), but I have come with the scroll of the book written for me (Psalms 40:8). With the scroll—referring to: whom You did command that they should not enter into Your assembly (Lamentations 1:10). The book—as is said, No Ammonite nor Moabite shall come into YHWH’s assembly. And not only have I been allowed to enter, but in the scroll of the book it is written concerning me. In the scroll—Perez, Hezron, Ram, Aminadab, Nahshon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David; the bookAnd YHWH said, ‘Arise, anoint him, for this is the one’ (1 Samuel 16:12).

Rav Huna said: It is written [And she bore a son and called his name Seth, as to say,] ‘God has granted me other seed [in place of Abel, for Cain has killed him’] (Genesis 4:25)—seed from another place, referring to the Messiah [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 23:5; 51:8]. Rabbi Berekhiyah and Rabbi Shim’on said: We may illustrate with a parable: A king who was travelling from one place to another, when a precious pearl fell from his head. So the king and all his retinue stopped there. All the passers-by asked, ‘What are the king and his retinue doing here?’ They discerned the reason and said, ‘A pearl has fallen from his head.’ What did he do? He gathered all the soil into heaps and brought brooms [alt., sieves]. He had one heap swept, but did not find it; a second heap, and he did not find it; but in the third, he found it, and they announced ‘The king has found his pearl!’ So the blessed Holy One said to Abraham, Go forth [lit., Go to yourself] (Genesis 12:1). It was to you that I looked forward. What need had I to record the lineage of Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, Nahor, and Terah? (1 Chronicles 1:24–26). Only on account of you, Abram; the same is Abraham (ibid.); And found his heart faithful before You (Nehemiah 9:8). So said the blessed Holy One to David, ‘What need had I to record the lineage of Perez, Hezron, Ram, Aminadab, Nahshon, Salmah, Boaz, Obed, and Jesse? Only on account of you; I found David My servant (Psalms 89:21)” (Rut Rabbah 8a).

“Come and see: Tamar was the daughter of a priest. Now, would you ever imagine that she set out to whore with her father-in-law, given that she was inherently modest? Rather, she was righteous and did this out of wisdom. She offered herself to him only because she possessed knowledge and contemplated wisdom. So she approached him to act kindly and faithfully; that is why she came to him and engaged in this affair.

Come and see: Because she possessed knowledge and exerted herself in this affair, the blessed Holy One offered assistance in that very act and she immediately conceived. All issued from Him.

Now, you might ask: ‘Why didn’t the blessed Holy One bring those sons through some other woman? Why through this one? But precisely she, and no other woman, was needed for this act.

There were two women through whom the seed of Judah was established, from whom issued King David, King Solomon, and King Messiah. These two women correspond to one another: Tamar and Ruth, whose husbands died first, who exerted themselves in this action.

Tamar enticed her father-in-law, who was next of kin to his sons who had died. Why did she entice him? As is written: for she saw that Shelah had grown up and she had not been given to him as wife (Genesis 38:14). That is why she engaged in this act with her father-in-law.

As for Ruth, her husband died and then she engaged in this act with Boaz, as is written: She uncovered his feet and lay down (Ruth 3:7). Engaging with him, she later gave birth to Obed. Now, you might ask ‘Why didn’t Obed issue from another woman?’ But precisely she was needed, no one else.

From these two, the seed of Judah was established and consummated. Both of them acted properly, acting kindly toward the dead so that the world would later be enhanced. This corresponds to what was said: I praise the dead, who have already died (Ecclesiastes 4:2), because when they were first alive, they were not praiseworthy, but later they were. Both of them exerted themselves to act kindly and faithfully toward the dead, and the blessed Holy One assisted in that act. All was fitting!…

It is written: Look, there were twins in her womb! (Genesis 38:27)—they were twins; previously they were brothers [Er and Onan].

Rabbi Ḥizkiyah said, ‘That’s not the implication! Rather, other sons were born.’ Rabbi Abba said, ‘This is why she exerted herself: to recover what had been lost.’

Come and see what is written: As he was drawing back his hand, look, out came his brother, and she said, ‘What a breach you have breached for yourself!—alluding here to the original, licentious breach that he breached, because of which he died. This is implied by the phrase you have breached for yourself—for yourself you have breached a breach, since you had to trouble your Lord; consequently, you will make a breach in other nations. So, he named him פָּרֶץ (Perets), Breach.

After the entire incident of Judah has been told—how he sold Joseph and brought all of this about: for if Judah had said, ‘Let’s return him to our father,’ his brothers would have done so; consequently, his brothers demoted him from dominion over them. After he was banished from his brothers and all this came upon him, Scripture speaks of Joseph: Joseph was brought down to Egypt. Why was brought down? Because the blessed Holy One approved that act, to fulfill the decree that He had issued: Know well that your seed will be strangers… (Genesis 15:13)” (Zohar 1:188a–b, cf. Bahir §197–§198).

“For Rabbi Abba has said, ‘How many wicked there are in the world who engender more virtuous children than the righteous!’” (Zohar 2:12b).

“Evil was consumed and good eventually emerged—the one of whom is written: goodly to look on, and YHWH is with him (1 Samuel 16:12, 18)” (Zohar 2:103b).

“Seed of David…. In his anger he is calm, immediately appeased; but he retains enmity like a serpent in the end, for that side provokes this, surrounding on all sides. However, the kernel within the shell and the heart are upright and firm” (Zohar 2:74b).

Through these Three Adam Attained a Change of Name, a Change of Place, and a Change of Deed

“Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘Four things tear up a person’s verdict: charity, crying out, a change of name, and change of deeds. צְדָקָה (Tsedaqah), charity, as is written, But צְדָקָה (tsedaqah), righteousness, saves from death (Proverbs 10:2). Crying out, as is written, And they cry to YHWH from their straits from their distress He brings them out. [He turns the storm into silence, and its waves are stilled, and they rejoice that these have grown quiet, and He leads them to the realm of their desire] (Psalms 107:28). Change of name, as is written, Sarai your wife shall no longer call her name Sarai, for Sarah is her name (Genesis 17:15); and it continues, And I will bless her and I will also give you from her a son (ibid., 16). Change of deeds, as is written, And God saw their acts, that they had turned back from their evil way, and God relented from the evil that He said to do to them, and he did not do it (Jonah 3:10). And some say a change of place, as is written, And YHWH said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your land [and your birthplace and your father’s house to the land I will show you] (Genesis 12:1), and afterwards, And I will make you a great nation [and I will bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing] (ibid., 2). And the other [namely, Rabbi Yitsḥaq, why does he not include this]?—in that case it was the merit of the Land of Israel which helped him” (BT Rosh ha-Shanah 16b).

And you shall hold them in estate for your children after you to inherit a holding forever (Leviticus 25:46). It is a command to have a Canaanite slave as a servant, as is written: A holding forever. They come from the side of Ham, who uncovered nakedness [of Noah], of whom it says, Cursed be Canaan, the lowliest slave shall he be to his brothers (Genesis 9:25). Why the lowliest slave? Because he is a slave to a slave עוֹלָם (olam), forever, which is the עוֹלָם (olam), world, of Jubilee [even at the Jubilee he will not be set free like other slaves]. It may be said that as he is a brother to Shem and Japheth, why should he not be like them? Also, seeing Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, was the descendant of Ham, why was he not like him but instead righteous? [Because] the blessed Holy One approved of the blessing Laban gave him [see Genesis 24:31].

Surely this pertains to the mystery גִלְגּוּלָא (gilggula), rolling: ‘Who גּוֹלֵל (golel), rolls away, light from before darkness’ (Evening Service)—Abraham’s servant who came out of darkness, the issue of Ham. It suffices for the servant to be like his master, Abraham, who came from Terah the idol worshiper! ‘And darkness from before the light’ (ibid.)—Ishmael who came out from Abraham, and Esau from Isaac.

The mystery is that this is caused by the mixture of drops in a place it does not belong. This is he who mingles his drop with a maid, Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael or a daughter of a strange god who are evil and darkness, while his drop is goodness and light [in the secret of the verse:] And God saw the light, that it was good (Genesis 1:4). He who mingles good with evil transgresses the words of his Master, who said, but from the tree of knowledge, good and evil, you shall not eat (Genesis 2:17).

The blessed Holy One rolls that which the man mingled together with him so as to receive punishment. If he repents, learns Torah and separates good from evil, forbidden from permitted, impure from pure, unfit from fit, that evil is separated from good, it says of him ‘A creation for good and a creation for evil’ [cf. BT Berakhot 61a: ‘וַיִּיצֶר (va-yetser), and formed (Genesis 2:7)—spelled with two letters י (yod) to show that God created two impulses, one good and the other evil’]. And through Torah he separates them, and the blessed Holy One bequeaths him a נִשְׁמְתָא (nishmata), soul, from Him, so he will rule them both, the one which is light, the World that is Coming, and the other, which is darkness, this world. Hence, it is written: And blew into his nostrils the נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (ayyim nishmat), breath of life (Genesis 2:7).

According to his merits and liabilities. As we have explained, ‘He who does one mitsvah is treated well. He who is average, is a person whose merits and liabilities are balanced, the half of merits is below and the half of liabilities below’ [see BT Qiddushin 40b; Sotah 3b]. This is the secret of What is your petition? and it shall be granted you, and what is your request? Up to half the kingdom, and it will be done! (Esther 5:6). In the case of a completely righteous man, all his merits are above and his liabilities below. For a completely evil man, his liabilities are above and his merits are down below.

The man who sins in public is of two grades. If he does penance in public [then he is seated] among the righteous [of that world], who are familiar with the laws of the blessed Holy One and refrain from sinning; [if] secretly [then] among the wicked men [who envy him his repentance] so that the eyes of the wicked will pine (Job 11:20) is fulfilled.

Adam’s sin was therefore against, And YHWH God commanded (Genesis 2:16)—we explained commanded referrers to idolatry since he sinned in idolatry. He formed him in תֶרַח (Teraḥ), Terah’s, drop of semen, in which he [the soul of Adam] רָתַח (rataḥ), enraged, the blessed Holy One by transgressing in idolatry. He did penance and smashed the images of idols and all the victuals. He mended the sins and smashed the sin and the evil structure he built. And he made the blessed Holy One and His Shekhinah rule over the whole world.

By sanctifying His Name in public, and by going into the fire to be burned, so that the words would be fulfilled the images of their gods you shall burn in fire (Deuteronomy 7:25). Furthermore, he caused his father, Terah, to repent and brought him, his mother, and all the rulers of that age to the Garden of Eden [cf. Zohar 1:77b]. He was thus purified as silver by fire [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 38:13: ‘When Abraham descended into the fiery furnace (of Nimrod he) was saved’], like the king’s coin forged with a mixture of lead. He was therefore put in fire, and the lead came out, which is Ishmael. Ishmael therefore was mocking and worshipped idols, while Adam remained purified by fire. This is the change of name. For when Adam was rolled he had to undergo a change of name, change of place, and change of deed.

Then came Isaac, and he became stronger through him, the second transgression of which it says, the human (Genesis 2:16), which refers to bloodshed. This brought the trial of Isaac by the cleaver [see Genesis 22:10]. He was cleansed by him, as food is picked from refuse. And the dross came out, which is Esau who sheds blood.

Then came Jacob who formed it to Laban and became his servant. Hence it says, I will serve seven years for Rachel your younger daughter (Genesis 29:18). Since he exchanged her with her sister, he served an additional seven years, in order to remove the two drops Adam spilt in a foreign place [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 20:11: ‘Throughout the entire one hundred and thirty years during which Adam held aloof from Eve the male demons were made ardent by her and she bore, while the female demons (Lilit and Naamah) were inflamed by Adam and they bore, as is written, so should he do wrong, I will chastise him with the rod men use and with the afflictions of humankind (2 Samuel 7:14)—Adam, which means, the children of the first man’]. This is incest, alluded to by saying, [‘From every fruit of the garden you may surely eat. But from the tree of knowledge, good and evil, you shall not eat, for on the day you eat from it, you are doomed to die’] (Genesis 2:16). He took them out of Laban the Aramean, the serpent.

Through these three Adam attained a change of name, a change of place, and a change of deed [the Patriarchs repaired the three cardinal sins: idolatry, murder, and sexual immorality]. He obtained a change of name through Abraham, a change of place through Isaac, and a change of deed through Jacob. And if it was said of him: Then He saw and recounted it [set it firm and probed it, too…] (Job 28:27–8), that if He accepted his repentance, all the more so that of others [who are not as great].

Therefore, for a good servant, the place brings it about, and for an evil servant, also, but as for other servants, a holding forever (Leviticus 25:46). The heads of the academy rose and said Happy the people who has it thus (Psalms 144:15). שֶׁכָּכָה (Shekakhah), has it thus, is [numerically equivalent] as that of מֹשֶׁה (Moshe), Moses. The Faithful Shepherd rose and said, ‘Happy the people whose God is YHWH’ (ibid.)” (Zohar 3:97a–111a, Ra’aya Meheimna Behar, cf. ibid. 3:217b).

I have rolled away from you the shame of Egypt (Joshua 5:9).