The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

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A Thousand Years in Your Eyes are like Yesterday Gone

083.011.003 (1)“It has been taught: Rabbi Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan, ‘Before the blessed Holy One created the world, He and His Name were one. It arose in His mind to create the world, and He created first a thousand worlds, as is said: the thousand are yours, Solomon (Song of Songs 8:12). Afterward He created other worlds—to show that all is naught before Him” (Zohar Ḥadash 2d, cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 3).

“[Rabbi Yehudah said:] I learned from father in the mysteries of letters of the Holy Name, the duration of the world and the days of Creation—all a single mystery” (Zohar 1:117a).

“Rav Qattina said: A world is six thousand years, and one is desolate, as is written, And YHWH alone shall be exalted in that day (Isaiah 2:11). Abbaye said: It is desolate two, as is said, After two days will He revive us: on the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight (Hosea 6:2) [see Rabbi David ben Yehudah he-Ḥasid, Sefer Mar’ot Ha-Tsove’ot, 106:13].

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

The Tanna debe Eliyyahu teaches: A world is six thousand years. Two thousand תֹּהוּ (tohu), chaos; two thousand תּוֹרָה (torah), Law; two thousand years the days of Messiah” (BT Sanhedrin 97a).

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

“Rabbi Tanḥuma opened: Everything He has עָשָׂה (asah), done, aptly in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Rabbi Tanḥuma said: The world was created in its time, and the world was not fit to be created earlier. Rabbi Abbahu said: Hence we learn that the blessed Holy One was creating worlds and destroying them, creating worlds and destroying them, until He created these [i.e., the heavens and earth], and then He said: ‘These please Me, those do not.’ Rabbi Pinḥas said: This is Rabbi Abbahu’s reason: And God saw all that He had עָשָׂה (asah), done, and, look, it was very good (Genesis 1:31): ‘These please Me, those do not’” (Bereshit Rabbah 9:2).

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

“Rabbi Amora sat and expounded: What is fullness—the blessing of YHWH. To the west and the south His possession (Deuteronomy 33:23)? It means that everyplace ב (bet) is said is blessed, and this is: fullness—בִּרְכַּת (birkat), the blessing, of YHWH. From there those in need drink. And from the fullness She offered counsel at the beginning (Proverbs 9:10).

A parable: A king wanted to build a palace for himself among mighty cliffs [cf. Shem Tov ibn Shem Tov, MS British Museum 711]. He cut rocks and hewed boulders, uncovering a great spring of living water. The king then said, ‘Since I have flowing water, I will plant a garden. Then I will delight in it, and so will the entire world.’ As is written, And I was by Him an intimate, I was His delight day after day, playing before Him at any time (Proverbs 8:30). Torah says, ‘For two thousand years I was in the blessed Holy One’s lap, as His delight,’ therefore the verse reads: day after day; a day of the blessed Holy One is a thousand years, as is written, For a thousand years in Your eyes are like yesterday gone (Psalms 90:4). From here forward: from time to time, as is said, at any time. But the remainder is לְעוֹלָם (le-olam), everlasting, thus it is said: I draw My breath, and for My praise, hold it for you, [so as not to cut you off] (Isaiah 48:9). What is My praise? As is written, Praise to David. Let me exalt You (Psalms 145:1–2). Why is this praise? Because: Let me exalt You. And what is this exaltation? Let me bless Your name לְעוֹלָם (le-olam), forevermore (ibid.).

What is בְּרָכָה (berakhah), blessing? A parable: A king planted trees in his garden. Although rains fell constantly, and it was absorbed, and the soil was wet, he must water it from a spring, as is written, The beginning—wisdom, the fear of YHWH, good knowledge to all who perform it (Psalms 111:10). And if you say it lacks something [i.e., an end], look: His praise stands for all time (ibid.)” (Bahir §5–§6).

“It has been taught: The Book of Concealment, a book balanced on scales. For until there was a balance, they did not gaze face-to-face, and the primordial kings died and their weapons vanished and the earth was nullified. Until the head of Desire of all Desires arranged and bestowed garments of glory [on ‘a balance,’ see Bereshit Rabbah 12:15; on ‘they did not gaze face-to-face,’ see BT Bava Batra 99a; on ‘the primordial kings,’ see Genesis 36:31–39].

This balance hangs in a place that is not; weighed upon it were those who did not exist. The balance stands on its own, ungrasped and unseen. Upon it rose and upon it rise those who were not, and who were, and who will be.

Secrecy within secrecy was prepared and arranged in a single skull filled with crystalline dew. Membrane of air, purified and sealed; those strands of clean fleece hanging evenly. Will of Wills is revealed through prayer of those below [on the forehead as expressing the Will, see Zohar 3:129 (IR) on Exodus 28:38]. Open-eyed watching, never sleeping, ever vigilant; supervision below by supervision of radiance above. Two nostrils of an official arousing breath for all [as a nose supervising commandingly, cf. Zohar 3:137b–138a (IR); on טַלָּא דִּבְדוֹלְחָא (talla di-vdulḥa), crystalline dew, cf. Rashi on Numbers 11:7; Ibn Ezra on Genesis 2:12].

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ (Be-reshit bara Elohim et ha-shamayim ve-et ha-arets), In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). שִׁיתָא (Shita), six [words]—בְּרֵאשִׁית (be-reshit), in the beginning, above them. All of them are below, suspended from the seven [features] of the skull until Glory of Glories [cf. BT Shabbat 152a: ‘The glory of a face is the beard’].

The second earth is not included in the calculation, as has been said, and it emerged from that which was cursed, as is written: from the soil that YHWH cursed (Genesis 5:29). הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחֹשֶׁךְ עַל פְּנֵי תְהוֹם וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים מְרַחֶפֶת עַל פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם (Hayetah tohu va-vohu ve-ḥoshekh al penei tehom ve-ruaḥ Elohim meraḥefet al penei ha-mayim), Was waste and empty, with darkness over the face of the abyss and the wind of God hovering over the face of the waters (ibid. 1:2)—thirteen [words] suspended from thirteen [‘strands of clean fleece’] of Glory of Glories [i.e., the divine beard; on the thirteen attributes of Compassion, see Exodus 34:6–7].

Six thousand years are suspended from the first six; seventh above them, fortified alone. All will be destroyed in twelve hours [cf. the twelve hour rise and fall of Adam, described in Avot de-Rabbi Natan A, 1; B, 1; Vayiqra Rabbah 29:1; BT Sanhedrin 38b], as is written: was waste and empty…. Thirteen, He will raise them in Compassion—renewing themselves as before—and all those six will rise, since it is written created, and afterward is written was, for surely was! [cf. Bahir §2]. And in the end, תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ (tohu va-vohu), welter and waste, with darkness—YHWH alone will be exalted on that day (Isaiah 2:11) (Zohar 2:176b, Sifra di Tsni’uta).

 

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The Footsteps of Messiah

follow-in-his-footsteps-38691“[Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Zakkai used to say,] ‘If you have a sapling in your hand, and it is said to you, ‘Behold, there is the Messiah’—go on with your planting, and afterward go out and receive him” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan B, 31).

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

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

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

As Your enemies reviled Your anointed one’s footsteps (Psalms 89:52). It has been taught, Rabbi Yehudah said: in the generation when the Son of David comes, the house of assembly will be for whores, Galilee in ruins, Gavlan [i.e., Bashan] lie desolate, the border inhabitants wander about from city to city, receiving no hospitality, the wisdom of scribes will stink, sin-fearing men despised, the face of the generation will be like the face of a dog, and truth entirely lacking, as is written, Yea, truth fails; and he that departs from evil has stripped himself (Isaiah 59:15). What is yea, truth נֶעְדֶּרֶת (ne’ederet), fails?—the academy of Rav said: This teaches that it will be like עֳדָרִים (adarim), flocks, and depart. What is and he that departs from evil מִשְׁתּוֹלֵל (mishtolel), has stripped himself—the academy of Rav Shila said: He who departs from evil will be מִשְׁתּוֹלֵל (mishtolel), made barefoot, by the people [i.e., deemed insane, cf. Micah 1:8: Therefore I will lament and wail, I will go שׁוֹלָל (sholal), stripped, and naked: I will make a wailing like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches].

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

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

It has been taught, Rabbi Neḥemiyah said: in the generation of Messiah’s coming impudence will increase, and the cost will corrupt, the vine yield its fruit, yet wine will be costly [i.e., everyone will be drunk, so that in spite of the abundant yield, there will be a scarcity], and the Kingdom will be converted to the heresy with none to rebuke them [a prediciton of the conversion of Rome to Christianity under Constantine the Great in 313 C.E.]. This supports Rabbi Yitsḥaq, who said: Son of David will not come until the whole world is converted to heresy. Rava said: What is the verse? If the skin blanch has covered his whole body, he shall declare the affliction clean (Leviticus 13:13) [when all are heretics, it is a sign that the world is about to be made clean by the advent of Messiah].

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

Rav Qattina said: A world is six thousand years, and one is desolate, as is written, And YHWH alone shall be exalted in that day (Isaiah 2:11). Abbaye said: It is desolate two, as is said, After two days will He revive us: on the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight (Hosea 6:2) [see Rabbi David ben Yehudah ha-Ḥasid, Sefer Mar’ot Ha-Zove’ot, 106:13].

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

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

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

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

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

What is meant by, [For the vision is yet for an appointed time,] וְיָפֵחַ (veyafe’aḥ)but it shall speak, at the end, and not lie (Habakkuk 2:3)?—Rabbi Shemu’el son of Naḥmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan: תִּיפָּח (Tippaḥ), blasted, be the bones of those who calculate the end [cf. Rabbi Hillel Rivlin of Shklov in the name of the Gaon of Vilna, Qol ha-Tor 4:2]. For they would say, since the predetermined time has arrived, and yet he has not come, he will never come. But [even so], wait for him, as is written, Though he tarry, wait for him (ibid.). Should you say, ‘We look forward [to his coming] but He does not’: therefore Scripture says, And therefore will YHWH wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: [for YHWH is a God of justice] (Isaiah 30:18). But since we look forward to it, and He does likewise, what delays [his coming]?—the quality of Justice delays it [because we are not yet worthy]. But since the quality of Justice delays it, why do we await it?—to be rewarded [for hoping], as is written, blessed are all they that wait for Him (Isaiah 30:18)

Abbaye said: The world must contain not less than thirty-six righteous men in each generation who receive the Shekhinah’s countenance, as is written, Blessed are all they that wait for Him (Isaiah 30:18); לוֹ (lo), for Him, is numerically equivalent to thirty-six. But that is not so, for did not Rava say: The row [of righteous men immediately] before the blessed Holy One consists of eighteen thousand parasangs, as is written, eighteen thousand all around (Ezekiel 48:35)?—that is no difficulty: the former number [thirty-six] refers to those who see Him through a speculum that shines, the latter to those who contemplate him through speculum that does not shine [cf. BT Yevamot 49b; Zohar 1:33b, 49b, 183a; 2:23b]. But are there as many? Did not Ḥizkiyyah say in the name of Rabbi Yirmeyah on the authority of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai: I have seen the supernal sons, and they are but few; if there are a thousand, I and my son are included; if a hundred, I and my son are included; and if only two, they are myself and my son?—there is no difficulty: the former number [thirty-six] refers to those who enter [within to see the Shekhinah] with permission; the latter [uncertain number] to those who may enter without permission.

Rav said: All the ends [i.e., predestined dates for redemption] have passed, and the matter [now] depends only on repentance and good deeds. But Shemu’el said: it is sufficient for a mourner to keep his mourning [Israel’s sufferings in the exile in themselves sufficiently warrant their redemption, regardless of repentance]. This matter is disputed by Tanna’im: Rabbi Eli’ezer said: if Israel repent, they will be redeemed; if not, they will not be redeemed. Rabbi Yehoshu’a said to him, If they do not repent, will they not be redeemed! But the blessed Holy One will set up a king over them, whose decrees shall be as cruel as Haman’s, whereby Israel shall engage in repentance, and He will thus bring them back to the right path. Another [baraita] taught: Rabbi Eli’ezer said: if Israel repent, they will be redeemed, as is written, Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings (Jeremiah 3:22) [cf. Zohar 1:178a]. Rabbi Yehoshu’a said to him, But is it not written, You have sold yourselves for nothing; and you shall be redeemed without money (Isaiah 52:3)? You have sold yourselves for nothing—for idolatry; and you shall be redeemed without money—without repentance and good deeds. Rabbi Eli’ezer said to Rabbi Yehoshu’a, But is it not written, Return to Me, and I will return to you (Malachi 3:7). Rabbi Yehoshu’a said—but is it not written, [Turn, O backsliding children, says YHWH;] for I am Husband to you: and I will take you one from a city, and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion (Jeremiah 3:14)? Rabbi Eli’ezer replied, But it is written, In returning and rest shall you be saved (Isaiah 30:15). Rabbi Yehoshu’a replied, But is it not written, Thus says YHWH, Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship (ibid. 49:7). Rabbi Eli’ezer said, But is it not written, If you will return, O Israel, says YHWH, return to Me (Jeremiah 4:1)? Rabbi Yehoshu’a answered, But it is elsewhere written, [Until when is the wondrous end?] And I heard the man dressed in linen, who was over the water of the river, and he raised his right hand, and his left was toward the heavens, and he swore by the One who lives forever that at the appointed time of times and a half and at the end of the shattering of the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished (Daniel 12:7). At this Rabbi Eli’ezer remained silent.

Rabbi Abba also said: You have no more explicit [sign of] end than this, as is written, But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to My people of Israel; [for they are soon to come] (Ezekiel 36:8). Rabbi El’azar said: Than this too, as is written, For before these days there were no wages for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the strait: [for I set all men every one against his fellow] (Zechariah 8:10) [cf. Psalms 118:5].  What is, neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the strait?—Rav said: Even for disciples of the sages, concerning whom peace is written: Great well-being to the lovers of Your teaching (Psalms 119:165), ‘There will be no peace on account of the strait.’ Shemu’el said, ‘Until all הַשַׁעַרִים (ha-sha’arim), prices, are equal [(Rashi), cf. Maharsha who reads neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in (Zechariah 8:10), with he that enters in by the way of the north שַׁעַר (sha’ar), gate, to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate… he shall not return by the way of the gate by which he came in, but shall go out opposite it (Ezekiel 46:9)—until all gates are alike, i.e., all people, whether entering or leaving the Temple—an idiom denoting ‘without exception’—will suffer].’

Rabbi Ḥanina said: Son of David will not come until a fish is sought for an invalid and cannot be procured, as is written, Then will I make their waters deep, and cause their rivers to run like oil (Ezekiel 32:14), whilst it is written, in that day will I cause the horn of the house of Israel to spring forth (ibid. 29:21).

Rabbi Ḥama son of Ḥanina said: Son of David will not come until even the הַזָלָה (hazalah), pettiest, kingdom ceases from Israel, as is written, [For before the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower,] He shall both cut off הַזַּלְזַלִּים (hazalzallim), the sprigs, with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches (Isaiah 18:5); and this is followed by, In that time shall a present be brought to YHWH of Armies from a people scattered and peeled (ibid., 7).

Ze’iri said in Rabbi Ḥanina’s name: Son of David will not come until there are no conceited men in Israel, as is written, For then I will take away out of the midst of you those that rejoice in your pride (Zephaniah 3:11), which is followed by, I will also leave in the midst of you a humble and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of YHWH (ibid., 12).

Rabbi Simlai said in the name of Rabbi El’azar, son of Rabbi Shim’on: Son of David will not come until all judges and officers are gone from Israel, as is written, And I will turn My hand upon you, and thoroughly purge away your dross and take away all your alloy: And I will restore your judges as at the first (Isaiah 1:25–26).

‘Ulla said: Jerusalem shall be redeemed only by צְּדָקָה (tsedaqah), charity, as is written, Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her converts with צְּדָקָה (tsedaqah), righteousness (ibid., 27).

Rav Papa said: When the haughty cease to exist [in Israel] the magi shall cease [among the Persians]; when the judges cease to exist [in Israel], the royal officers shall cease likewise. Now, ‘when the haughty cease to exist, the magi shall also cease,’ as is written, And I will turn My hand upon you, and thoroughly purge away your dross and take away all your alloy. ‘When the judges cease to exist, the royal officials shall cease likewise, as is written, YHWH has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy (Zephaniah 3:15).

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: When you see a generation ever dwindling, hope for him, as is written, A lowly people You rescue (2 Samuel 22:28). Rabbi Yoḥanan said: When you see a generation overwhelmed by many troubles as by a river, await him, as is written, When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of YHWH shall lift up a banner against him (Isaiah 59:19); which is followed by, And a Redeemer shall come to Zion (ibid., 20).

Rabbi Yoḥanan also said: Son of David will come only in a generation that is either altogether righteous or altogether wicked. ‘In a generation that is altogether righteous’—as is written, Your people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land forever (Isaiah 60:21). ‘Or altogether wicked,’—as is written, And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor (ibid. 59:16); and it is [elsewhere] written, For My own sake, even for My own sake, will I do it (ibid. 48:11).

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

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

The disciples of Rabbi Yose son of Qisma asked him, ‘When will Messiah come?’—he answered, ‘I fear lest you demand a sign of me.’ They assured him, ‘We will demand no sign of you.’ So he answered them, ‘When this gate falls down, is rebuilt, falls again, and is again rebuilt, and then falls a third time, before it can be rebuilt Son of David will come’ [the gate of Caesarea Philippi, the home of Rabbi Yose. Its fall would be a symbol of the destruction of the Roman power by the Parthians]. They said to him, ‘Rabbi, give us a sign.’ He protested, ‘Did you not assure me that ye would not demand a sign?’ They replied, ‘Nevertheless.’ He said to them, ‘If so, let the waters of the cave of Paneas turn into blood;’ and they turned into blood. When he lay dying he said to them, ‘Place my coffin deep [in the earth], for there is not one palm-tree in Babylon to which a Persian horse will not be tethered, nor one coffin in the land of Israel out of which a Median horse will not eat straw’ [this was a forecast of the future. Babylon and the land of Israel would be overrun with Persians, Medes and Parthians and their horses would dig up the dead, whose coffins would serve as cribs].

Rav said: Son of David will not come until the [Roman] kingdom spreads over Israel for nine months, as is written, Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she who travails has brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return to the children of Israel (Micah 5:2).

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

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

Rav Giddal said in Rav’s name: The Jews are destined to eat [their fill] in the years of Messiah. Rav Yosef said: is this not obvious; who else then should eat—Ḥillaq and Billaq? [i.e., shall these years of plenty be enjoyed indiscriminately by anyone?]—this was said in opposition to Rabbi Hillel, who maintained that there will be no Messiah for Israel, since they have already enjoyed him during the reign of Hezekiah.

Rav [Yehudah ha-Nasi, a descendant of David] said: The world was created only on David’s account. Shemu’el [of the tribe of Levi] said: On Moses’ account; Rabbi Yoḥanan said: For the sake of the Messiah. What is his name?—the House of Rabbi Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is written, until שִׁילֹה (Shiloh) comes (Genesis 49:10). 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) [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 1:4; Bahir §61, §86]. The House of Rabbi Ḥaninah said: His name is Ḥaninah, as is written, [Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that you know not, neither you nor your fathers; and there shall you serve other gods day and night;where I will not show you חֲנִינָה (ḥaninah), favor (Jeremiah 16:13). Others say: His name is Menaḥem the son of Ḥizqiyah, for it is written, Because the מְנַחֵם (menaem), comforter, that would relieve my life is far from me (Lamentations 1:16) [cf. Abarbanel, Yeshu’ot Meshio, 2:3: the initial letters of these names are an acronym for מָשִׁיחַ (mashiaḥ), Messiah].

The Rabbis said: His name is חִיוְורָא (ḥivvra), White, of the House of Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi], as is written, Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our pains that he endured—though we considered him plagued, stricken by God and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4) [i.e., מְצוֹרָע (metsora), skin blanched one (Rashi), see Leviticus 13:45-6; BT Qiddushin 70a]. Rav Naḥman said: if he is of those living [to day], he might be one like myself, as is written, And their nobles shall be from themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them (Jeremiah 30:21) [this description fits Rav Naḥman, who, as the son-in-law of the Resh Galuta, enjoyed great power and prestige]. Rav said: if he is of the living, it would be our holy Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi]; if of the dead, it would have been Daniel the most beloved man. Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: The blessed Holy One will raise up another David for them, as is written, But they shall serve YHWH their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them (ibid., 9): not הַקִים (haqim), I raised up, but אָקִים (aqim), I will raise up, is said. Rav Papa said to Abbaye: But it is written, And my servant David shall be their נָשִׂיא (nasi), prince, for ever (Ezekiel 37:25) [and prince is a lower title than king!]—such as caesar and little caesar [i.e., the second David will be the king, and the former David will be his viceroy].

Rabbi Simlai expounded: What is meant by, Woe unto you that desire the day of YHWH! to what end is it for you? the day of YHWH is darkness, and not light (Amos 5:18)? This may be compared to a rooster and a bat who were hopefully waiting for the light [i.e., dawn]. The rooster said to the bat, ‘I look forward to the light, because I have sight; but of what use is the light to you?’

And thus a sectarian said to Rabbi Abbahu: ‘When will Messiah come?’ He replied, ‘When darkness covers those people.’ ‘You curse me?’ he said. He replied, ‘It is but a verse: For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but YHWH shall arise upon you, and His glory shall be seen upon you (Isaiah 60:2).

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

Rabbi Hillel [a brother of Yehudah II] said: There shall be no Messiah for Israel, because they already consumed him in the days of Hezekiah. Rav Yosef said: May the Master forgive him. Now, when did Hezekiah flourish? During the First Temple. Yet Zechariah, prophesying in the days of the Second Temple, proclaimed, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes to you: he is just, and having rescue; lowly, and riding upon a donkey, and upon a colt the foal of a donkey (Zechariah (9:9).

Another [baraita] taught: Rabbi Eli’ezer said: The days of Messiah will be forty years, as is written, And He afflicted you and made you hunger and fed you the manna (Deuteronomy 8:3); whilst elsewhere it is written, Give us joy as the days You afflicted us (Psalms 90:15). Rav Dosa said: Four hundred years. It is here written, Enslaved and afflicted four hundred years (Genesis 15:13); whilst elsewhere it is written, Give us joy as the days You afflicted us. Rabbi said: Three hundred and sixty-five years, even as the days of the solar year, as is written, For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come (Isaiah 63:4). What is the day of vengeance is in My heart?—Rabbi Yoḥanan said: I have [so to speak] revealed it to My heart, but not to My limbs. Avimi son of Rabbi Abbahu learned: The days of the Messiah for Israel will be seven thousand years, as is written, As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you (Isaiah 62:5) [the bridegroom’s rejoicing is seven days, and God’s day is a thousand years. Cf. Psalms 90:4: For a thousand years in Your eyes as like yesterday gone]. Rav Yehudah said in Shemu’el’s name: The days of Messiah shall endure as long as from the creation of the world until now, as is written, [So that your days be many, and the days of your sons, on the soil that YHWH swore to your fathers to give them,] as the days of the heavens over the earth (Deuteronomy 11:21). Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq said: As long as from Noah’s days until our own, as is written, For this is as the waters of Noah unto Me: for as I have sworn [that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you] (Isaiah 54:9).

Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Abba said in Rabbi Yoḥanan’s name: All the prophets prophesied [all the good things] only in respect of the days of Messiah; but as for the world that is coming [For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear,] neither has the eye seen, O God, besides You, what He has prepared for him that waits for Him (Isaiah 64:3). Now, he disagrees with Shemu’el, who said: This world differs from the days of Messiah only in servitude to [foreign] kingdoms” (BT Sanhedrin 96b–99a).

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

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

“In the עִקְּבוֹת מְשִׁיחָא (iqqvot meshiḥa), heels of Messiah, impudence [or: brazenness] will increase; prices will rise; grapes will be abundant but wine will be costly; the government will turn into heresy; and there will be no reproach. The meeting place [of scholars] will become a bordello; the Galilee will be destroyed; the highland will lie desolate; the border people will wander from city to city and none will show them compassion; the wisdom of scribes will stink; sin‑fearing people will be detested; truth will be missing; young men will humiliate the elderly; the elderly will stand while the young sit; sons will revile their fathers; daughters will strike their mothers, brides will strike their mothers‑in‑law; and a man’s enemies will take over his house. The face of the generation is like the face of a dog! Sons have no shame in front of their fathers; and on whom can one depend? Only upon our Father in Heaven” (BT Sotah 49b)—like the dead skin of a ticklish heel, so too our generation is insensitive to suffering while the most frivolous matters delight us, cf. BT Shabbat 13b: “The dead flesh in a living person does not feel the scalpel.”

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

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

Separating a Portion Precisely from the Middle

Sesame Challah_1 “Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Ḥanina said: The day consisted of twelve hours. In the first hour, his dust was gathered; in the second, it was kneaded into a shapeless mass. In the third, his limbs were shaped; in the fourth, a soul was infused into him; in the fifth, he arose and stood on his feet; in the sixth, he gave [the animals] their names; in the seventh, Eve became his mate; in the eighth, they ascended to bed as two and descended as four; in the ninth, he was commanded not to eat of the tree, in the tenth, he sinned; in the eleventh, he was tried, and in the twelfth he was expelled and departed, as is written, A man will not rest in splendor (Psalms 49:13)” (BT Sanhedrin 38a, cf. M Avot 1:1).

[A king makes a land stand firm through justice.] But a man of תְּרוּמוֹת (terumot), donationsdestroys it (Proverbs 29:4)—Adam, who was the completion of the world, and ḥallah is designated תְּרוּמָה (terumah), a donation [or: an elevation offering]…. Rabbi Yose son of Ketsarta said: Like a woman who mixes her dough with water and separates ḥallah precisely from the middle, even so, at first, wetness would well from the earth to water all the surface of the soil, then YHWH God fashioned the human, humus from the soil (Genesis 2:6) [on the phrase “precisely from the middle,” cf. Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital, Liqqutim Ḥadashim, 17–23]” (Bereshit Rabbah 14:1, cf. JT Shabbat 2:6, 5a).

בְּרֵאשִׁית (Bereshit), In the beginning, this is ḥallah as is written, רֵאשִׁית (reshit), the first, yield of your kneading troughs, חַלָּה (ḥallah), a round loaf, you shall present in donation (Numbers 15:20), as we have said, ‘Adam was חַלָּה (ḥallah) of the world…’ What is ḥallah? It is these seven species: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olive oil of the land, and honey, which is honey of dates. חִטָּה (Ḥittah), wheat, is the tree from which the first man ate, and since he did not separate ḥallah, [holiness] did not descend upon ה (he), but dwelled upon ח (ḥet) and ט (tet) [which together with ה (he) spell, חִטָּה (ḥittah), wheat, and allude to חֵטְא (ḥet), sin], causing death [cf. BT Berakhot 40a].

And the ḥallah is the Shekhinah, it includes these seven species [which hint at the lower seven sefirot]. In this was the sin of the first man—the drop, which is the י (yod). Dough must have ḥallah taken from it. Immediately they fell upon that drop, and he gave seed that was included with both which is the ו (vav) and the mystery of the matter, הֵא (he), here, is seed for you, [and sow the land] (Genesis 47:23).

Because of this, ḥallah is certainly a decree for the wife, because of her Adam who was the ḥallah of the world died. She must separate ḥallah, to take it from her dough, which is her drop, to return it to man” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 31a).

Israel’s Light Increases Little by Little

IMG_1037“Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi asked: ‘What is the meaning of: And this is the Torah which Moses שָׂם (sam), set, before the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:44)?’ If he is meritorious it becomes for him סַם (sam), medicine, of life, if not, a סַם (sam), poison, of death” (BT Yoma 72b, cf. BT Ta’anit 7a).

“What was the beginning of Rabbi Akiva? They say that he was forty years old and had not learned a thing. Once, he was standing at the mouth of a well. He said, ‘Who carved this stone?’ They said to him, ‘The water that drips on it every day. Akiva, did you not read Water wears away stones (Job 14:19)?’ Immediately Akiva reasoned, ‘Just as the soft sculpts the hard, all the more so words of Torah, which are as hard as iron, can penetrate my heart, which is but flesh and blood! Immediately he returned to learn Torah.

He then went together with his son and they appeared before an elementary teacher. Akiva said to him: ‘Master, teach me Torah.’ Akiva took one end of the tablet, and his son the other end of the tablet. The teacher wrote down the alef-bet for him and he learned it; alef tav, and he learned it; the book of Leviticus, and he learned it. He went on studying until he learned the whole Torah. Then he went and appeared before Rabbi Eli’ezer and Rabbi Yehoshu’a. He said to them, ‘My masters, reveal the justification of Mishnah to me.’ When they told him one halakhah he went off to be by himself. He said, ‘This alef, why was it written? This bet, why was it written? This thing, why was it said?’ He came back and asked them, and reduced them to silence [cf. M Avot 3:17]….

Rabbi Tarfon said to him: ‘Akiva, of you it says The wellsprings of rivers he blocked. What was hidden he brought out to light (Job 28:11).’ What was hidden—from men, you Rabbi Akiva brought out to light” (Avot de-Rabbi Natan, A6).

“Rabba expounded in the name of Rabbi Sehora who had it from Rabbi Huna: What is: Wealth can be less than הֶבֶל (hevel), mere breath, but who gathers bit by bit makes it grow (Proverbs 13:11)? [cf. Ecclesiastes 1:2: הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים (havel havalim), merest breath]. If a man makes his Torah חֲבִילוֹת חֲבִילוֹת (ḥavilot ḥavilot), bundles of bundles, his learning decreases, and if he does not do so but gathers bit by bit he makes it grow. Rabba remarked: The Rabbis are well aware of this matter and yet disregard it. Rabbi Naḥman son of Yistḥaq said: I acted on this advice and my study remained with me” (BT Eruvin 54b, cf. BT Avodah Zarah 19a).

If you find honey, eat just what you need, lest you have your fill of it and throw it up (Proverbs 25:16).

“[Torah]—the light in her reforms” (JT Ḥagigah 5:7, 80a).

He said, ‘Let me go, for dawn has risen! (Genesis 32:27). Rabbi Yehudah opened, Who is this looking forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun…? (Song of Songs 6:10). This verse has been established and explained, but Who is this looking forth?—Israel, when the blessed Holy One will raise them, bringing them out of exile. He will then open for them a tiny crack of light, then another opening, wider, until the blessed Holy One opens for them supernal gates facing four directions of the world. So with all the blessed Holy One does for Israel and for the righteous among them—always so, never all at once. This can be compared to a person thrown into darkness, dwelling in darkness constantly. When they want to illumine him, they must open the light to him like the eye of a needle, then wider, always gradually, until he is illumined with all the light fittingly. Similarly with Israel, as is said: little by little I will drive them out before you (Exodus 23:30). And so with one who is being cured: not all at once, but little by little until he is fortified.

But with Esau, not so! Rather, he is illumined all at once and deprived little by little, until Israel are fortified and eliminate him entirely from this world and from the world that is coming. Since he blazed all at once, he is annihilated completely, whereas Israel’s light increases little by little until they are invigorated and the blessed Holy One illumines them forever. Everyone asks, Who is this looking forth like the dawn?—at first a subtle glow; then fair as the moon, then bright as the sun, then awesome as bannered hosts (Song of Songs, ibid.)—Beaming powerfully, intensely, fittingly” (Zohar 1:170a).

“Come and see! This is the way of Torah: At first, when she begins to reveal herself to a person, she beckons him momentarily with a hint. If he perceives, good; if not, she sends for him, calling him ‘simple’: ‘Tell that simple one to come closer, so I can talk with him.’ As is written: Whoever is simple, let him turn here, he who lacks understanding (Proverbs 9:4). As he approaches, she begins to speak with him from behind a curtain she has drawn, words suitable for him, until he reflects little by little. This is derasha [homiletical interpretation]. Then, she converses with him from behind a delicate sheet, words of riddle, and this is haggadah [allegorical tales].

Once he has grown accustomed to her, she reveals herself to him face-to-face, and tells him all her hidden secrets and all the hidden ways, concealed in her heart since primordial days. Then he is a complete man, husband of Torah, master of the house, for all her secrets she has revealed to him, concealing nothing” (Zohar 2:99a–b).

The path of the righteous is like light’s radiance, ever brighter till day has come. The way of the wicked is like darkness. They know not on what they stumble (Proverbs 4:18).

Israel Make Merry

IMG_0427.JPG“Come and see: There are times in the year when favor is found, and times in the year when Judgment looms. There are times in the month when favor is found, and times in the month when judgments loom over all. There are times in the week when favor is found, and times in the week when judgments appear in the world. There are times in the day when favor is found and the world is fragrant, and times in the day when judgments loom—and even in the hour. Thus it is written: [For everything there is a season,] and a time for every matter (Ecclesiastes 3:1), and similarly: [As for me, may my prayer to You, O YHWH, come] at a time of favor… (Psalms 69:14), and similarly: Why, YHWH, do You stand far off, and hide in times of trouble? (Psalms 10:1), and similarly: From afar, YHWH appeared to me (Jeremiah 31:3). And times when He is near, as is written: Seek YHWH when He may be found, call to Him when He is near (Isaiah 55:6); YHWH is near to all who call Him (Psalms 145:18). Therefore, that he not enter at all times into the sanctuary (Leviticus 16:2)” (Zohar 3:58a–b).

“Rabbi Ḥelbo said in the name of Rav Huna: A man should always be זָהִיר (zahir), conscientious, about the afternoon prayer, since Elijah was answered only during this prayer, as is said: And it happened at the hour of the afternoon offering that Elijah the prophet approached and said… Answer me, YHWH, answer me (1 Kings 18:36–37). Answer me—that the fire may descend from heaven; answer me—that they may not say it is the work of sorcery [cf. Zohar 2:191b]” (BT Berakhot 6b).

“In the ninth [month (Sivan)] Israel was answered by the Sea. And the ninth [seasonal] hour is the time of merriment, blessing, and joy [‘when He is feeding the whole world, from the horned ox to the brood of vermin’ (BT Avodah Zarah 3b)]. It is the hour of the [small] afternoon prayer in which Elijah was answered, as is written: And it happened at the hour of the afternoon offering that Elijah the prophet approached (1 Kings 18:36) [on the time of the small afternoon prayer, see BT Berakhot 26b]. It is received tradition for you that the ninth year of the jubilee is the most auspicious year [see Leviticus 25:20–22], the ninth month is a month of favor, and it is the most auspicious of months. The ninth day of the month is the most auspicious day of the month, and the ninth hour of the day is the most auspicious hour of hours. And the same occurs above, among the supernal ones—the ninth is most auspicious” (Berit Menuḥa: Second Way: The Way of Love, Ninth Vowel).

“From the beginning of the month [of Tishrei] books are opened and judges sit in judgment. Every single day courts are empowered to open proceedings, until the day called ‘ninth of the month.’ On that day judgments all ascend to the Master of Judgment, and a supernal holy throne is prepared for the King. On that day Israel below should rejoice before their Lord, who is ready to sit over them on the holy Throne of Mercy, the Throne of Leniency… Consequently, eating and drinking on the ninth more than on any other day ” (Zohar 3:67a, 69b).

“[Rabbi Shim’on son of Gamliel taught:] No days were as festive in Israel as Yom Kippur” (M Ta’anit 4:8).

“On this day two radiances shine as one—Supernal Mother illumines Lower Mother. Thus it is written יוֹם הַכִּפֻּרִים (Yom ha-Kippurim), the Day of Atonements (Leviticus 23:27), as has been said…

There is one day a year to examine and inspect them, and when this day comes to pass, Supernal Mother—in whose hand is all freedom—appears, to observe Israel. And they gird themselves on this day with many rituals, prayers, and self-afflictions—all of them virtuous… Then She couples with the King in radiance, in joy, in perfection, in rapture, for She has raised children fittingly for the supernal King” (Zohar 3:102a–b).

“On Rosh Hashanah, the left arm is aroused to welcome the Matronita. The whole world is then in fear of Judgment, and the whole world has to be in complete repentance before the blessed Holy One. Later, on the ninth of the month [of Tishrei], the Matronita comes and the palace retinue, Israel, make merry and immerse themselves in the river to purify themselves for the mating of the Matronita, on the next day [Yom Kippur]. For Her mating is accomplished by His placing His left hand under Her head, in accordance with, His left hand beneath my head, [his right hand embracing me] (Song of Songs 2:6).

Then, on the tenth day Israel fast for their sins and are forgiven. For the supernal Mother [Binah] looks kindly on Malkhut in the coupling and makes atonement for all of the retinue of the Temple, Israel, since the left welcomes Her on this day, for the head of Malkhut rests on the left [hand]” (Zohar 3:213b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).

I will Hasten it in its Time

IMG_1373“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: ‘What is the meaning of He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit? (Proverbs 27:18). Why is the Torah compared to a fruit tree?’ Figs on a tree do not ripen all at once, but a little each day. Therefore, the longer one searches in the tree, the more figs he finds. So too with Torah: The more one studies, the more knowledge and wisdom one finds” (BT Eruvin 54a).

Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard (Genesis 9:20). Rabbi Yehudah and Rabbi Yose. One said, ‘It was banished from the Garden of Eden, and he planted it here.’ The other said, ‘It was in the earth and he uprooted it, then transplanted it. That same day it yielded fruit, blossoming into grapes; he squeezed them, drank of the wine and became drunk [he should have waited for the grapes to ripen].’

Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘There is a mystery here in this verse. When he sought to probe the sin probed by Adamnot to cling but to know, to mend the worldhe was incapable. He squeezed grapes to probe that vineyard [Shekinah], but as soon as he arrived, he became drunk and exposed himself (ibid., 21), and was powerless to rise. So, he exposed himself, exposing the breach of the world that had been closed [when, after his sin, Adam returned to God]. Inside אָהֳלֹה (ahaloh), his tent (ibid.)spelled with a ה (he) [rather than the normal masculine possessive suffix ו (vav), thus we read]: Inside אֹהֱלָה (ohelah)her tent, the tent of that vineyard” (Zohar 1:73a).

I make you swear, O daughters of Jerusalem by the deer or the gazelles of the field, that you shall not rouse not stir love until it is ripe (Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5). For although Solomon in his great wisdom understood how to vocalize יהוה (YHWH), he swore in the name of all the holy people not to ponder it until the day God bestows compassion on His people and their land, and opens before them the gates of light. And now the gates of wisdom have begun to open, and therefore, one may study and gain great wisdom” (Berit Menuḥa, The Second Way: The Way of Love, Ninth Vowel).

“Rabbi Alexandri said: Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi pointed out a contradiction. It is written, In his time (Isaiah 60:22), while it is also written, I, YHWH, will hasten it (ibid.). I will hasten it—if they are worthy; if not, In its time. Rabbi Alexandri said: Rabbi Yehoshu’a opposed two verses: it is written, And, look, with the clouds of the heavens one like a human being [was coming] (Daniel 7:13) while [elsewhere] it is written, [Look, your King comes to you…lowly, and riding upon a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)—if they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of the heavens [i.e., swiftly (Rashi)]; if not, lowly, and riding upon a donkey. King Shapur said to Shemu’el, ‘You say Messiah will come upon a donkey: I will rather send him a white horse of mine’ [perhaps an overt invitation to the Jews to help Shapur in his struggle with the Romans]. He replied, ‘Do you have a multi-colored one? [since King Messiah’s donkey will be miraculous]’” (BT Sanhedrin 98a).

“In the six hundredth year of the sixth [millennium], springs of wisdom will open above, springs of wisdom below, and the whole world will prepare to enter the seventh [millennium], just like a person preparing on the sixth day, as the sun is about to set, to enter Sabbath. Your mnemonic: In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life… all the springs of the great abyss burst and the sluices of heaven were opened (Genesis 7:11).’… [Yet] the blessed Holy One makes everything depend upon returning—if they prove worthy or not—as that verse has been explained: I, YHWH, will hasten it in its time (Isaiah 60:22)—if they are worthy, I will hasten; if not, in its time [see BT Sanhedrin 98a]…. Rabbi Shim’on said to them, ‘The blessed Holy One does not want this to be revealed openly to the world. But verging on the days of the Messiah, even children of the world are destined to find hidden treasures of wisdom, thereby discovering calculations of the end. At that time it will be revealed to all, as is written: For then (Zephaniah 3:9). What does then mean? When Assembly of Israel rises from the dust, raised by the blessed Holy One. Then I will transform the language of the peoples into a pure one, so they may all call upon the name of YHWH and serve Him shoulder to shoulder (ibid.)” (Zohar 1:116a–118b).

Decline of the Generations: As for Us the Opening is no Bigger than the Eye of a Fine Needle

“Compared with Sarah, all other people are like a monkey to a human being, and compared with Eve Sarah was like a monkey to a human being, and compared with Adam Eve was like a monkey to a human being, and compared with the Shekhinah Adam was like a monkey to a human being. The beauty of Rabbi Kahana was a reflection of the beauty of Rabbi Abbahu; the beauty of Rabbi Abbahu was a reflection of the beauty of our father Jacob, and the beauty of Jacob was a reflection of the beauty of Adam” (BT Bava Batra 58a).

“Moses received Torah from Sinai and handed it on to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets; and the prophets handed it on to the men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: Be careful in judgment; raise up many disciples; and make a fence for Torah” (M Avot 1:1).

“Rabbah son of Son of Ḥana said in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan, reporting Rabbi Yehudah son of Ila’i: See what a difference there is between the earlier and the later generations. The earlier generations made their Torah permanent and their ordinary work occasional, and both prospered in their hands. The later generations made their ordinary work permanent and their Torah occasional, and neither prospered in their hands” (BT Berakhot 35b, cf. Gittin 81a).

“Rabbi Zera said that Rava son of Zamina said: ‘If the early ones were like angels then we are like human beings, but if the early ones were like human beings then we are like donkeys; not like the donkey of Rabbi Ḥanina son of Dosa or the donkey of Rabbi Pinḥas son of Ya’ir but like ordinary donkeys’” (BT Shabbat 112b).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: ‘The heart of the earlier ones was open like the entrance to the outer hall of the Temple, while the heart of the later ones was open only like the entrance to the inner hall [which was smaller]. But as for us the opening is no bigger than the eye of a fine needle….’ Abbaye said: ‘We are like a peg in a wall with regard to Gemara.’ Rava said: ‘We are like a finger in wax with regard to common sense.’ Rabbi Ashi said: ‘We are like a finger in a pit with regard to forgetfulness’” (BT Eruvin 53a).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: The fingernail of the earlier generations is better than the belly of the later generations. Resh Laqish said to him: On the contrary, the latter generations are better, although they are oppressed by the governments, they are occupying themselves with Torah. He [Rabbi Yoḥanan] replied: The Temple will prove it for it came back to the former generations, but not to the latter ones. The question was put to Rabbi El’azar: Were the earlier generations better, or the later ones?—he answered: Look upon the Temple! Some say he answered: The Temple is your witness” (BT Yoma 9b).

“Come and hear: When the First Temple was destroyed, the cities with pastureland [… for the Levites] (Numbers 35:2) were abolished, the Urim and Thummim ceased, and there was no more a king from the House of David. However, if a person should whisper to you [that, in fact, the Urim and Thummim remained, as is written with regard to the time of the Second Temple:] And the governor said to them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till a priest could consult with Urim and with Thummim (Ezra 2:63), reply to him: like a man says to his fellow, ‘Until the dead live and the Messiah, son of David, comes!’ [i.e., the distant future].

However, Rav Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq said: Who are the former prophets? This excludes Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi who are the latter prophets. For our Rabbis have taught: When Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi died, the רוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ (ruaḥ ha-qodesh), Holy Spirit, departed from Israel; nevertheless they made use of the בַּת קוֹל (bat qol), Daughter of Voice [i.e, a reverberating sound or echo, see Tosefta, Sotah 13:3; JT Sotah 9:12, 24b; BT Yoma 9b, Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah on 8:10].

On one occasion they were sitting in the upper chamber of Gurya’s house in Jericho; Daughter of Voice was granted to them from the heavens, announcing, ‘There is in your midst one man who is deserving that the Shekhinah should rest upon him, but his generation is unworthy of it.’ They all looked at Hillel the elder; and when he died, they lamented over him, ‘Alas, the devout man! Alas, the humble man! Disciple of Ezra!’ On another occasion they were sitting in an upper chamber in Yavneh; Daughter of Voice was granted to them from the heavens, announcing, ‘There is in your midst one man who is deserving that Shekhinah should alight upon him, but his generation is unworthy of it.’ They all looked at Shemu’el the Little; and when he died, they lamented over him, ‘Alas, the humble man! Alas, the devout man! Disciple of Hillel!’ At the time of his death he also said, ‘Shim’on [son of Gamaliel] and Yishma’el [son of Elisha the High Priest are destined] for the sword and their companions for death, and the rest of the people for plunder, and great distress will come upon the people.’

They also wished to lament over Rabbi Yehudah son of Bava [a victim of the Hadrianic Persecution], ‘Alas, the devout man! Alas, the humble man!’ But the hour was unstable and they could not lament publicly over those who had been murdered by the government” (BT Sotah 48b).

“Our Rabbis have taught: Hillel the Elder had eighty disciples, thirty of whom were worthy of the Shekhinah resting upon them, as [it did upon] Moses our Master, thirty of whom were worthy that the sun should stand still for them [as it did for] Joshua son of Nun [see Joshua 10:12], [and the remaining] twenty were ordinary. The greatest of them was Yonatan son of Uzziel [cf. BT Megillah 3a], the smallest of them was Yoḥanan son of Zakkai.

They said of Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Zakkai that he did not leave [unstudied] Scripture, Mishnah, Gemara, Halakhah, Aggadah, details of the Torah, details of the Scribes, inferences a minori ad majus, analogies, [the calculation of] seasons, gematriyyot, the speech of the ministering angels, the speech of spirits, and the speech of palm-trees, parables of launderers and fox fables, great matters or small matters; great matters mean the Account of the Chariot, small matters [such as halakhot that were ultimately formulated in the framework of] the disputes of Abbaye and Raba; in order to fulfil what is said, To pass substance on to my lovers, and their storehouses to fill (Proverbs 8:21). And if the smallest of them was so great, how much more so was the greatest? They said of Yonatan son of Uzziel that when he used to sit and occupy himself with the study of Torah, every bird that flew above him was burnt immediately” (BT Sukkah 28a).

“Rav Papa said to Abbaye: How is it that for the former generations miracles were performed and for us miracles are not performed? It cannot be because of their [superiority in] study, because in the years of Rav Yehudah the whole of their studies was confined to נְזִיקִין (neziqin), Damages, and we study all six orders [of the Mishnah]… and yet when Rav Yehudah took off one shoe, rain used to come, whereas we torment ourselves and cry loudly, and no notice is taken of us! He replied: The former generations used to be ready to sacrifice their lives for the sanctity of the Name; we do not sacrifice our lives for the sanctity of the Name” (BT Berakhot 20a).

“In the footsteps of Messiah חוּצפָּה (ḥutspah), impudence, will increase; prices will rise; grapes will be abundant but wine will be costly; the government will turn into heresy; and there will be no reproach. The meeting place [of scholars] will become a bordello; the Galilee will be destroyed; the highland will lie desolate; the border people will wander from city to city and none will show them compassion; the wisdom of scribes will stink; sin‑fearing people will be detested; truth will be missing; young men will humiliate the elderly; the elderly will stand while the young sit; sons will revile their fathers; daughters will strike their mothers, brides will strike their mothers‑in‑law; and a man’s enemies will take over his house. The face of the generation is like the face of a dog! Sons have no shame in front of their fathers; and on whom can one depend? Only upon our Father in Heaven” (BT Sotah 49b).

“But verging on the days of the Messiah, even children of the world are destined to find hidden treasures of wisdom, thereby discovering calculations of the end. At that time it will be revealed to all, as is written: For then (Zephaniah 3:9). What does then mean? When Assembly of Israel rises from the dust, raised by the blessed Holy One. Then I will transform the language of the peoples into a purer one, so they may all call upon the name of YHWH and serve Him shoulder to shoulder (ibid.)” (Zohar 1:118a).

The words of the wise are כַּדָּרְבֹנוֹת (ka-darvonot), like goads (Ecclesiastes 12:11)—כְּכַדּוּר שֶׁל בָּנוֹת (ke-khadur shel banot), like a girls’ ball. What is a ball turned from hand to hand which has never fallen to the ground? [Tradition,] thus: Not a single word has fallen of all the good words that YHWH your God has spoken (Joshua 23:14).

What is a ball tossed by hands which has never fallen to the ground? [קַבָּלָה (Qabbalah), tradition,] thus: ‘Moses קִבֵּל (qibbel), received, Torah from Sinai and handed it on to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets, and the prophets handed it on to the men of the Great Assembly’ (M Avot 1:1)” (Qohelet Rabbah on 12:11).

“Every man must conduct himself to employ this Name [i.e., this book] with fear of sin and humility. Love is first, desirable actions second, and awe is third [cf. M Sotah 9:15; BT Avodah Zarah 20b; Zohar 3:145a; Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 5b]. And happy is the man whose Creator has granted the understanding and knowledge to fathom the mystery of this great Name which all the Sages, men of God who have illuminated our Torah, have employed and handed one to the other in great secrecy and with perfect intention, mouth to mouth (Numbers 12:8) [cf. BT Ḥagigah 13a; Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 1:71].

These are the names of the heads of the generations who employed this Name—see the greatness of these men and how they acted with the necessary honor in these matters: The first to employ it was Adam [cf. Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 8Zohar 1:52a; 2:55a], who employed it many days to know wisdom and understanding. He handed it on to Seth and Seth composed many books of unfathomable wisdom and arranged all the orders of the מֶרְכָּבָה (merkavah), Chariot, on the discernment of this Name. Seth handed it on to Enosh who went astray and misled the sons of his generation and so the generation of the flood began to stray from the way and spread whoring [cf. TanḥumaBereshit, 12:3; Job 21:14]. With great lust they gazed at the רַכֶּבֶת (rakevet), ladder, of forces [of cause and effect], saying, ‘As it is fitting for these to הַרְכִּיב (harkiv), mount, each other, so will we do.’

And Enosh handed it on to Arpachshad [cf. Jubilees 9:4] who became very wise in it and Arpachshad handed it on to Methuselah [cf. Yalqut ShimoniBereshit, 5:42], but Enoch the father of Methuselah, did not favor it because he feared he might seize it and incur guilt. Methuselah handed it on to Lamech and Lamech handed it on to Noah.

Noah handed it on to his son Shem and Shem established his academy and dispersed the wisdom to enlighten many to return faithfully to the Good and he reigned over all the princes of the earth and all princes of the peoples served at his table [on Shem as the youngest, yet, wisest of Noah’s sons, see BT Sanhedrin 69b. On Shem’s academy, see BT Makkot 23b; Avodah Zarah 36b; Bereshit Rabbah 63:7, 67:8].

Shem handed it on to his son Eber and Eber handed it on to Abraham and Eber handed it on to Isaac and Eber handed it on to Jacob [each generation receiving from the source]. And Abraham added wisdom and knowledge to it and handed it on to his son Isaac in exacting detail [cf. Bahir §192]. And Jacob handed it on to his sons, but to Levi he gave the main part [see Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, Sha’arei Tsedeq, 2b, on Deuteronomy 33:8]. And Levi handed it on to Amram and Amram handed it on to Moses and Moses attained an exceedingly lofty and wondrous wisdom with it  [cf. BT Yevamot 49b: ‘All the prophets gazed through a dim glass, whereas Moses our Rabbi gazed through a clear glass’; BT Rosh ha-Shanah 21b; Nedarim 38a: ‘Fifty gates of Binah were created in the world, and all were given to Moses save one, as it says, And You made him little less than אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) (Psalms 8:6)].

Moses handed it on to Aaron and Aaron to his sons Nadab and Abihu who delved deeply to know the matter but were punished as the Torah informs us [see Leviticus 10:1–2; cf. Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 26:9; Zohar 2:126a]. However, the קַבָּלָה (qabbalah), tradition, remained with Phinehas. And he delved to know more than all who preceded him and Phinehas handed it on to Joshua, although Joshua learned this teaching—this profound secret—from Moses [cf. Ba’al ha-Turim on Numbers 27:20: ‘And YHWH said to Moses, ‘Take you Joshua son of Nun, a man who has spirit within him, and lay your hand upon him… and you shall set something of you grandeur upon him in order that all the Israelite community will heed’ (Numbers 27:18–20)—מֵהוֹדְךָ (me-hodekha), something of your grandeur, is numerically equivalent to הַסוֹד (ha-sod), the secret’].

Joshua handed it on to Caleb and Caleb handed it on to his brother’s son Othniel who became very strong, as is written, [And Caleb said, ‘Whoever strikes Kiriath-Sepher (Scribe Townand takes it, to him I shall give Achsah my daughter as wife.’And Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it (Joshua 15:16–17; Judges 1:12–13).

Othniel handed it on to Ehud and Ehud to his sons but all of them were punished, however, he handed it on to Machir son of Jair and Machir handed it on to Eli and Eli to Samuel and Samuel delved to know like Moses, quality by quality [see BT Berakhot 31a on Psalms 99:6], and he arranged several wards and handed it on to Saul but he did not know how to wield it and was punished. Saul handed it on to David and David to his son Chileab and Chileab to his brother Solomon and in it Solomon became wise, more than all who preceded him, as is written, And he was wiser than all men [… and his fame was in all the nations round about] (1 Kings 5:11). Solomon handed it on to Benaiah and Benaiah hid it in the Temple archives. Then came the wise kings of Judah and took it out from there [see 2 Chronicles 17:3–9].

There are those who say that Solomon handed it on to Amos, and Amos to Isaiah and Isaiah to Zephaniah and Zephaniah to Jeremiah and Jeremiah to Baruch and Baruch to Ezra and Ezra and his court were wise and discerning [cf. BT Megillah 15a: ‘Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Korḥa said: Malachi is the same as Ezra, and the Sages say that Malachi was his proper name…’]. Their number was as the number of the one hundred-twenty righteous, chieftains of the Israelites who stood in the breach [see Ezra 10:14; cf. Psalms 106:23]. And Ezra and his court handed it on to Shemaiah and Avtalion, sons of Sennacherib king of Assyria who came to shelter under His wings [i.e., to convert, see BT Gittin 57b]. When the Sages saw that they were deserving of this name they handed it over to them and Shemaiah and Avtalion handed it on to Hillel and Shammai. [Hillel] was a descendent of the royal house of David as is found in Chronicles [see 1 Chronicles 3; BT Ketubbot 62b: ‘Rabbi (Yehudah ha-Nasi) descended from (Hillel, who, in turn, descended from David’s son) Shephatiah the son of Avital’].

Hillel and Shammai handed it on to Yonatan son of Uzziel and to Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Zakkai and they plumbed its depths, according to their reach [see BT Sukkah 28a], and they handed it on to Rabbi Eli’ezer the Great. Rabbi Eli’ezer the Great handed it on to Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Akiva to Yehudah ha-Nasi, until Rabbi Shim’on [son of Yoḥai] came, but from the days of Rabbi Shim’on it remained hidden and closed [cf. Zohar 1:224b–225a; 3:58a: ‘Come and see: Among generations to come, Torah is destined to be forgotten, and the wise-hearted will gather in the Holy Chamber, yet there will be no one who can close and open (i.e., to declare forbidden, or pure, and permitted, or pure). Woe to that generation! From here on, there will be no generation like this one until King Messiah arrives’], except for a few later sages who grasped and understood it according to [mere] intellect such as the Geonim who delved to know the mysteries of the blessed Holy One according to the wisdom of the time and according to the [limited] wisdom of the generation.

When it arose in thought before the Creator to create this world with this Name, to extend a cord (Isaiah 44:13), and stand Mount Moriah by His qualities—the mountain God desired for His dwelling (Psalms 68:17). He stood the table at the north with all sorts of food, created orbs to praise His Name, and servants performing His pleasure (Psalms 103:21). And with this Name, hung the world over its position. He built the Temple such that through screens this very light, without end and without limit, might dwell and illuminate. From this Name pillars of understanding were rooted, walls of wisdom, and screens of light. With this Name the Temple was filled with illustrious זוֹהַר (zohar), radiance.

He is our God and we are His servants but there are none who may approach Him proudly to see His beauty, except three. Their sign is, שְּׁמִי לְעֹלָם (shemi le-olam), My name forever [and thus am I invoked in all ages] (Exodus 3:17) [cf. BT Sanhedrin 38b on Exodus 23:21], and they are: שְׁמוּעִיאֵל (Shemui’el), מְטַטְרוֹן (Metatron), and יָהוֹאֵל (Yaho’el). [Since the gates of light have been closed from the time of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai] these three angels reveal secrets of the Name to created beings in order to make known His splendor and the triumph of His strength. It is the root of our Torah and the essence of our faith, the place of Rest. The first to make known the singularity of the Creator and His covenant with Israel. To make known His dominion with them and His partnership with them [see Zohar 1:5a]. It is named in memory of the mystery of His wisdom: סֵפֶר בְּרִית הַמְנוּחָה (sefer berit ha-menuḥa), The Book of the Covenant of Rest.

Happy the man whose strength is in You (Psalms 84:6)—to know His highways, His conduct; My God’s processions, my King in holiness (ibid. 68:25)—His wondrousness. And thus I have recounted the names of the Sages who have employed it [i.e., the secret of the great Name]….

And now you will be able to grasp and understand the strength of your God, the essence of His vast wonders, more than the ancients in their great wisdom. For the truth is that the first generations are very wise, the middle generations not so [wise], and the last generations are wiser than the first, for this accords with the nature and creation of the world. As with the rotation of the wheel [of a watermill, i.e., the vicissitudes of fortune], the first ones which ascend are full, the middle ones pour, and the last ones draw and ascend in order to pour as well [cf. Zohar 1:243b; Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 5:12; Shemot Rabbah 15:26: ‘When Solomon appeared, the disk of the moon became full’]….

Daughters of Jerusalem, swear to me by the gazelles, by the deer in the field, that you will never awaken love until it is ripe (Song of Songs 2:7; 3:5). For although King Solomon in his great wisdom understood how to vocalize יהוה (YHWH) he swore in the name of all the holy nation not to ponder it until the day the blessed Holy One bestows compassion on His people and their Land, and open before them the gates of light. And now as I said, the gates of wisdom have begun to open, and therefore, one may study and gain great wisdom” (Berit MenuḥaIntroduction; The Second Way: The Way of Love, Eighth Vowel, Ninth Vowel).

“Rabbi Shim’on replied… ‘We have revealed what was not revealed to the ancient ones!’” (Zohar 3:287a).

Recount to the last generation (Psalms 48:14).