“Is the blessed Holy One מִשְׁתַּבַּח (mishtabaḥ), enhanced, בְּשִׁבְחַיְיהוּ (be-shivḥayyehu), through the enhancement, of Israel? Indeed, as is written: YHWH you have proclaimed today to be your God [and to go in His ways and to keep His statutes and His commands and His laws and to heed His voice] (Deuteronomy 26:17). And it is written: And YHWH has proclaimed you today [to be to Him a treasured people, as He has spoken to you, and to keep all His commands, and to set you high above all the nations that He made, for praise and for acclaim and for glory, and for you to be a holy people to YHWH your God, as He has spoken] (ibid., 18)” (BT Berakhot 6a).
“Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai taught: ‘You are My witnesses,’ says YHWH, ‘and I am God’ (Isaiah 43:12)—when you are My witnesses, I am God. When you are not My witnesses, I am not God” (Sifrei, Deuteronomy 346).
“When the blessed Holy One took counsel from the Torah—whose name is Prudence—to create the world, she answered Him: Master of the Worlds: If the king has no army and no camp, over what does he rule? And if there is no people praising the king, what is that king’s glory? The Lord of the World listened and it was pleasing to Him. Torah said: The blessed Holy One took counsel from me to create the world, as is said, Mine is counsel and prudence, [I am Discernment, mine is might. Through me kings reign, and rulers decree righteous laws] (Proverbs 8:14)” (Pirqe de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 3).
“In his day you shall give his wages (Deuteronomy 24:15).
The Faithful Shepherd opened, ‘The following decree is to give a hired worker his hire in time. This is, In his day you shall give his wages, and the sun shall not set on him (ibid.). Listen, heads of the Academy high and low: Metatron is the hire of the hired worker, a messenger from the eighteen worlds to receive the eighteen blessings of the Amidah prayer every day, three times a day. For that reason, In his day you shall give his wages—the Shaḥarit service; and the sun shall not set on him—Minḥah service, for if the day is past, the offering is no longer valid. For he is poor (ibid.)—surely he is poor in exile and has nothing but what he is given in prayer [see Zohar 1:179b: ‘(Metatron) the youth who is a poor child, possessing nothing at all of his own’]. For that reason his prayer is, A prayer for the lowly when יַעֲטֹף (ya’atof), he is faint (Psalms 102:1), namely the יַעֲטוֹף (ya’atof), wrap, of the tsitsit and the hand tefillin [playing on two senses of the root עטף (‘tf), which can mean both ‘to be faint’ and ‘to cover oneself, wrap,’ as in ‘wrapping oneself in a tallit’ before binding tefillin, cf. Zohar 3:113b, TZ 6, 22a–b, 11, 26b; 21, 55b].
And his heart counts on it (Deuteronomy 24:15)—the Arvit (evening) service, which [corresponds to] the parts of the sacrifice and the fatty parts that are left from the offerings of the day [since prayer replaces Temple sacrifice, see BT Berakhot 6b on Psalms 141:2. Cf. Psalms 69:31–32; Hosea 14:3]. They are like single grapes of the vineyard and the edge of your field (Leviticus 19:9) of which we learned leaving things [over for the poor] is a mitsvah and hinders [divine] punishment. For the poor [Shekhinah and Metatron] and for the sojourneryou shall leave them (ibid. 10). For the middle pillar [Tif’eret], when He is outside of His place is called a sojourner. For that reason, I [Moses the Faithful Shepherd, my rung being the middle pillar], called myself a sojourner in the first exile. This is, A sojourner have I been in a foreign land (Exodus 2:22), for He [Ze’eir Anpin] lies in exile for Her sake.’
The Masters of Mishnah asked him, ‘Faithful Shepherd, but Israel performed this decree in the land of Israel? He said to them, ‘This is in order to invoke compassion on those driven away from their place. For a man outside his place is called a sojourner, and all the more so the נִשְׁמָתִין (nishmatin), souls, that go naked from that world and come into this world. Of them is said, Like a bird wandering from its nest is a man wandering from his place (Proverbs 27:8). The soul, from which the Shekhinah does not move, is a man (ibid.), of whom it says, YHWH is a man of war (Exodus 15:3); wandering from his place (Proverbs 27:8)—roaming and roving from His place, which is the World that is Coming [Binah]. And He wanders after her in this world, until the days that the soul needs to go outside her place are completed. He guards her until He returns her to her place and swears He shall not return to His place before He returns her to her own. [Therefore] whoever repents is as if he returned the blessed Holy One and His Shekhinah to His place. This is the mystery of redemption, as is said, If you would only heed His voice! (Psalms 95:7)” (Zohar 3:278a–b, Ra’aya Meheimna Ki Tetse).
If you should lend money to My people, to the pauper among you, you shall not be to him like acreditor, you shall not impose interest on him. If you should indeed take in pledge your fellow man’s cloak, before the sun comes down you shall return it to him. For it is his sole covering, it is his cloak for his skin—in what can he lie? (Exodus 22:24–26).
“Woe to the sons of man who imprison the blessed Holy One with them in exile. The Shekhinah is imprisoned with them too, as is said, ‘A prisoner cannot free himself from jail’ (BT Berakhot 5b)—release is תְּשׁוּבָה (teshuvah), Repentance [lit., returning], supernal Mother [Binah], which does depend on them. The fifty gates of freedom are with Her [cf. Leviticus 25:54], for the fifty times going out of Egypt is mentioned in the Torah [see Zohar 3:262a]. This is: and he turned כֹּה וָכֹה (koh va-khoh), this way and that way (Exodus 2:12). Through these fifty letters one unifies twice every day in the recitation of Shema which has כ״ה וכ״ה (twenty-five and twenty-five) letters. And saw that no man was about (ibid.)—to awaken Her inside of them.
She watches from the windows, it says of them: And now, I pray you, beseech אֵל (El), God, that He will be gracious to us (Malachi 1:9)—to Her. Of Her is said, אֵל (El), God, pray, heal her, pray (Numbers 12:13), and the healing is through His hands, which is the spread hand to receive the penitents. And saw that no man was about—this is: through the window she looked out, and moaned (Judges 5:28), like teru’ah [of the ram’s horn], which is moaning. As is said, Noah opened the window of the ark he had made (Genesis 8:6)—on Yom Kippur, because the ark of Noah is supernal Mother. Through Her window, the middle pillar, came the light. And Torah is light—אוֹר הַגָּנוּז (or ha-ganuz), the hidden light.
And he turned this way and that way (Exodus 2:12).
Peeping through the crannies (Song of Songs 2:9)—the Ten Days of Repentance. And saw that no man was about (Exodus ibid.). Furthermore: Peering through the windows (Song of Songs ibid.)—the windows of the house of assembly. Father [Abba] and Son [Ze’eir Anpin] are in the house of prisoners, and every day He [Arikh Anpin] watches over them and gives them sustenance.
And he turned this way and that way—if there might be someone who stirred to return and break his prison, as is written, That You may say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves (Isaiah 49:9). And he turned this way and that way and saw that no man was about (Exodus 2:12). We have turned everyone to his own way (Isaiah 53:6); they all look to their own way, everyone for his gain, from his own quarter(ibid. 56:11). To gain more in this world, to inherit this world, and they are not from that place of which it says, God-fearing men, truthful men, haters of bribes (Exodus 18:21). Rather, in prayer on Yom Kippur all were howling like dogs. ‘Give! Give! Money, forgiveness, atonement, life. Seal us for life!’ And these are the greedy, likened to dogs [see Isaiah 56:1; Proverbs 30:15]. They are the nations of the world, that moan for themselves, and they are not shamefaced [see BT Sotah 49b: ‘With the footsteps of Messiah braz will increase… the face of the generation is like the face of a dog‘]. There are none who call to Him in repentance, to return the Shekhinah to the blessed Holy One, who is far from Him, to return Her to Him. They resemble dogs, as it says, And they mingled with the nations and learned their deeds (Psalms 106:35). These are the motley throng. Every good deed they do is only to benefit themselves [cf. BT Shabbat 33b; Bava Batra 10b].
Furthermore, they [only] ask for food, clothing, and time, which is time for coupling, as it says, he should not stint for this one her flesh, כְּסוּתָהּ (kesutah), her wardrobe, and her conjugal rights (Exodus 21:10) [cf. BT Ketubbot 48a]. There is nobody who asks for food of Torah, clothing of the Shekhinah, upper Mother [Binah], as it says, And do not forsake your mother’s teaching (Proverbs 1:8). ‘Clothing’ is the covering of tsitsit, and its cloak, and the tefillin of the hand as it says, A prayer for the lowly when he covers(Psalms 102:1). ‘And time’ is recitation of Shema in its proper time. With these three they did not act for the Shekhinah, [And if he does not do these three for her,] she shall go free without payment, with no כֶּסֶף (kesef),money (Exodus 21:11)—they have no כִּסּוּפָא (kissufa), shame, for the Shekhinah [who is like a pauper], they are brazen. Furthermore: With no כָּסֶף (kesef), money—they will not have any portion in the כִּסּוּפָא (kissufa), hidden, world that is coming [cf. Zohar 2:97a (SdM)].
Look, all this God performs twice or thrice with aman [to bring back his being from the Pit, to glow in the light of life] (Job 33:29). Because of this: for it is his sole כְסוּתֹה (khesutoh), covering (Exodus 22:26)—the first [life] cycle. It is his cloak for his skin (ibid.)—his second [life] cycle. In what can he lie? (ibid.)—his third [life] cycle. These are the three garments, the three coverings of the three colors of the eye, which are garments for the pupil of the eye which is the נְשָׁמָה(neshamah), soul” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 7, 22a–b).
Like a slave he pants for shade, like a hired worker he waits for his pay (Job 7:2).
“Antignos of Socho received the tradition from Shim’on the Righteous. He would say: Do not be as servants, who serve their master for the sake of reward. Rather, be as servants who serve their master not for the sake of reward. And the fear of Heaven should be upon you” (M Avot 1:3).
“Rabbi [Yehudah ha-Nasi] would say: Be as careful with a minor mitsvah as with a major one, for you do not know the rewards of the mitsvot. Consider the cost of a mitsvah against its rewards, and the rewards of a transgression against its cost” (M Avot 2:1).
“Son of Heh-Heh said: According to the effort is the reward” (M Avot 5:26).
“Many masters of study, colleagues of yours, nightly cry out contradictions in the Oral Torah, crying like dogs who say ‘hav! hav!’, as is written: The leech has two daughters, הַב הַב (hav hav), ‘give’ and ‘give’ (Proverbs 30:15) [cf. BT Avodah Zarah 17a, ad loc.]. Give us wealth in this world, give us wealth in the next world, as it is taught: ‘Learn much Torah and you will be given much reward’ (M Avot 2:16). But there is no one who is occupied with Torah in order to raise the Shekhinah, from the exile and unite Her with the Husband, for their eyes are blind, and their hearts are sealed” (Tiqqunei ha-Zohar 97c).
“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 olam, world, of Jubilee [even at the Jubilee he will not be set free like other slaves (Sullam)]. 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’ (EveningService)—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: 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 (ḥayyim 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 Shekhinahrule 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).
“YHWH, God of the spirits for all flesh (Numbers 27:16)—the verse tells us that all spirits go out only from Him. Rabbi Eli’ezer son of Rabbi Yose the Galilean says: Let this sign always be in your hand, that all during a man’s given life span נַפְשׁוֺ (nafsho), his life, is held in the hand of his Maker, as is written, In whose hand is נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh), the breath, of each living thing, [and רוּחַ (ruaḥ), the spirit, of all human flesh] (Job 12:10). When he dies, it is given to the אוֹצָר (otsar), treasury, as is written, My lord’s soul will be bound in צְרוֹר הַחַיִּים (tseror ha-ḥayyim), the bundle of the living (1 Samuel 25:29) [see Targum Yonatan ad loc.: My lord’s soul will be bound in the גְּנַז חַיֵי (genaz ḥayei), treasury of the living; tseror ha-ḥayyim may be rendered as purse of the living, see for example Genesis 42:35; Proverbs 7:20]. I might think both the righteous and the wicked, thus it is written, The souls of your enemies He will sling from the hollow of a sling (ibid.).
Appoint a man over the community (Numbers 27:16)—Joshua [for whom the manna descended over and against all of Israel], as is written, [And He charged the skies above, and the doors of the heavens He opened, and rained on them manna to eat and the grain of the heavens He gave to them.] Princely bread a man did eat, provisions He sent them to sate them (Psalms 78:25) [cf. BT Ḥagigah 12b ad loc.]. And why did Scripture not specify [Joshua]? So as not to stir up controversy [over the appointment of Joshua] among [Moses’s] sons and the sons of his brother.
Who will go out before them and come in before them [and who will lead them in and out on the march so that YHWH’s community will not be like a flock that has no shepherd] (Numbers 27:16)—not in the manner of others who send troops [to the vanguard] while they come out towards the end [i.e., escape to the rear]. Rather as Moses did: And YHWH said to Moses, ‘Do not fear him, for into your hand I have given him (Numbers 21:34). And as Joshua did: And Joshua went toward him and said to him, Are you ours or our foes’? (Joshua 5:13). And as Phinehas did: And Moses sent them out, a thousand for the tribe to the army—them and Phinehas (ibid. 31:6).
Who will go out before them and come in before them—as chief: [And David said, ‘Whoever strikes down the Jebusite first shall be chief and commander.’] And Joab son of Zeruiah went up first and became chief (1 Chronicles 11:6). Who will go out before them—in a troop; and come in before them—in a troop. Who will go out before them—on the way; and come in before them—on the way. Who will go out before them—with his merits; and come in before them—with his merits. Who will go out before them—in counting; and come in before them—in counting, as is written, And they said to Moses, ‘Your servants have counted the heads of the men of war who are in our hands, and not a man of them is missing. [And we would offer up YHWH’s offering, each man what he found of gold ornaments, armband and bracelet, ring, earring, and pendant, to atone for our lives before YHWH] (Numbers 31:49). Now, why did they need atonement? Because they feasted their eyes on nakedness [i.e., on the Midianite women, see ibid., 16].
So that YHWH’s community will not be like a flock that has no shepherd (ibid. 27:17). Concerning this, [see] the interpretation of קַבָּלָה (qabbalah), tradition: Tell me, whom I love so, [where you pasture your flock at noon, lest I be כְּעֹטְיָה (ke’oteyah), as one that covers up, by the flocks of your companions] (Song of Songs 1:7)—corresponding to what is said, [And he shall set fire to the houses of the gods of Egypt, and he shall burn them and take them captive] and wrap round the land of Egypt as a shepherd יַעְטֶה (ya’eteh), wraps himself, in his garment (Jeremiah 43:12). By the flocks of your companions (Song of Songs ibid.)—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Go out and see: The blessed Holy One answers, Loveliest of women, if you lose your way, go follow in the עִקְבֵי (iqvei),tracks, of the sheep (Song of Songs 1:8)—what I am destined to do for them in עֲקֵבִים (aqevim), the end. And graze your goats by the shepherd’s shelters (ibid.)—how is it you say that YHWH showed Moses all the leaders who were destined to serve Israel from the day they left the wilderness until the revival of the dead? As is said, Go follow in thetracks of the sheep” (Sifrei Numbers 139).
“Our Rabbis taught: The spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7)—give it back to Him as He gave it to you, in a state of purity. This may be compared to a mortal king who distributed royal robes to his slaves. The wise among them folded them up and put them away in a chest, while the fools among them went and worked in them. After some time, the king wanted his garments. The wise returned them clean, while the fools returned them soiled. The king was pleased with the wise; but he was angry with the fools. Concerning the wise he said, ‘Let the garments be returned to אוֹצָר (otsar), the storehouse, and they return to their homes in peace.’ Concerning the fools he said, ‘Let the garments be given to the laundry, while they be confined in jail.’ Similarly, the blessed Holy One. Concerning the bodies of the righteous He says, Yet he shall come in peace, they shall rest on their couches(Isaiah 57:2), and concerning their souls He says, My lord’s soul will be bound in the bundle of the living(1 Samuel 25:29). Concerning the bodies of the wicked He says, There is no well-being, said YHWH, for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22), and concerning their souls He says, The souls of your enemies He will sling from the hollow of the sling (1 Samuel 25:29).
It was taught, Rabbi Eli’ezer said: The souls of the righteous are treasured away under the כִּסֵּא (kisse), Throne, of Glory, as is said, My lord’s soul will be bound inthe purse of the living (ibid.) [see BT Sanhedrin 97a: ‘Son of David will not come until the (last) coin goes out from כִּיס (kis), the purse’]. But those of the wicked continue to be bound, while one angel stands at one end of the world and a second stands at the other end, and they sling their souls to each other, as is said, The souls of Your enemies he will sling from the hollow of a sling” (BT Shabbat 152b).
They will perish and You will yet stand. They will all wear away like a garment. Like clothing You change them, and they pass away. But You—Your years never end (Psalms 102:26–27).
“Rabbi Me’ir said: YHWH shall reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations (Psalm 146:10)—what is for all generations? Rabbi Papias said: A generation goes and a generation comes (Ecclesiastes 1:4). Rabbi Akiva said: The generation already came.
A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king had slaves, and clothed them in garments of silk and embroidery in accordance with his wealth. They went astray, so he stripped them of their garments, andflung them from him. They went on their way. He took the garments and washed them well, until no stain remained, and he kept them with him, ready. He then bought other slaves and dressed them in those garments. Not knowing whether these slaves were good or not, they were worthy of garments that had already come into the world, and that others had worn before them. [A generation goes and a generation comes.] But the earth endures forever (Ecclesiastes 1:4)—the same as And dust returns to the earth as it was, and the רוּחַ (ruaḥ), life-breath, returns toGod who gave it (ibid. 12:6)” (Bahir §§121–122).
“[Of the ten sefirot] seventh is east of the world, whence comes the seed of Israel. For the spinal cord draws from the brain of man and reaches to the ‘middle finger’ whence comes seed, as is written, From the east I will bringyour seed (Isaiah 43:5) [cf. BT Bava Batra 25a: ‘Rabbi Abbahu said, Shekhinah (receives) in the west’]. When Israel is good before the Omnipresent: I will bring your seed and you will have new seed. But when Israel is bad, the seed is from that which has already come into the world, as is written, A generation goes and a generation comes (Ecclesiastes 1:4)—teaching it has already come” (Bahir§155).
“He is All, and in His hand is אוֹצַר הַנְּשָׁמוֹת (otsar ha-neshamot), the Treasury of Souls. And when Israel is good, souls are worthy to go out and come in (Deuteronomy 31:2)—to this world. But if they are not good, they do not go out. Therefore, we say, ‘Son of David will not come until all souls in the body have been consumed’ (BT Yevamot 62a)—they will be worthy that new ones go out. And then Son of David succeeds in being born. How so? Since his soul will go out anew with all the others.
A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king had an army. He sent them an abundance of food and bread, [but] they were sluggardly and did not eat it they did not even keep it—the bread became moldy and went to waste. [Now, the king] came to inquire andto take a census whether they had enough to eat. He found moldy bread and that they were ashamed to ask [of him] other bread, to say: We did not keep it, now we must ask for another. The king became angry, took the moldy bread and ordered that it be dried and improved as much as possible and swore, ‘I will not give these people any other bread until they have consumed all of this moldy bread.’ He sent it to them anew. What did they do? They settled to apportion it. Each one divided and took on his share. The nimble one put his share out in the air, kept it and ate well. The [sluggardly] one took and fed from it greedily, but left the rest and neglected to keep it. Now it became even worse and so moldy he could not eat of it at all—until he starved to death.
The crime of his body was counted against him [at the court on high]. [They said to him,] ‘Why did you kill yourself, was it not enough that you ruined the bread before? I returned it improved for you, you apportioned it, but you ruined your share and neglected to keep it, and not only that you killed yourself!’ And he replied, ‘My lords what was I to do?’ They answered him, ‘It was for you to keep. And if you say you could not it was for you to watch your companions and your neighbors who shared the bread with you. And you would have seen what they did with it, how they kept it, and tried to keep like them.’ And they questioned him further, ‘Why did you kill yourself, was it not enough that you ruined the bread? But in addition you destroyed חוֹמֶר גּוּפְךָ (ḥomer gufkha), your body of clay [cf. Jeremiah 18:6; Zohar 1:178a], and shortened your days, or [at least] you caused [it unintentionally]. And perhaps a flawless building was to result from you and rescue you and your ruin and others and their ruin [see BT Sanhedrin 104a; Ibn Ezra on Genesis 16:2. Cf. The Tanna and the Restless Dead (Zohar Ḥadash 49a–b)]. Therefore, judgment will overtake you from all sides.’
He became frightened and answered, ‘But what was I to do after there was no bread for me, what could I have lived on?’ They said to him, ‘If you had toiled and strained in Torah you would not answer foolishly and impudently like this. [Indeed,] from the words of your answer it is evident that you did not toil and strain in Torah. And is it not written in Torah, [And He afflicted you and made you hunger and fed you the manna, which you did not know nor did your fathers know, in order to make you know that] not on bread alone does the human live but on all going out from YHVH’s mouth does the human live (Deuteronomy 8:3). Now how is it you [dare] ask and inquire and probe what it is on which man lives?’
And what is all motsa, going out, from YHVH’s mouth (Deuteronomy 8:3)? It was said: He will live by Torah—every motsa, utterance, of YHVH’s mouth. Therefore, they said, ‘An ignoramus cannot be devout’ (M Avot 2:5). And if a person does not act with חֶסֶד (ḥesed), kindness, toward himself, he cannot be called חָסִיד (ḥasid), devout [on not disparaging bread, see BT Pesaḥim 111b; Ḥullin 105b; Zohar 1:14b; 3:244b–245b, 273a–b (both RM). Cf. BT Berakhot 52b]. How can one act with kindness towards his Maker? Torah study. All Torah study renders kindness toward one’s Maker, as is written, Riding through heavens with your help (Deuteronomy 33:26)—’Alas, when you study Torah for her own sake, then you help Me and I ride through heavens.’ Then, In His triumph through the skies (ibid.) [cf. BT Ḥagigah 12b–13a; BT Avodah Zarah 3b; Rabbi El’azar of Worms, Sodei Razaya 89]. And what is שְׁחָקִים (sheḥaqim), skies? Say בְּחַדְרֵי חֲדָרִים (be-ḥadrei ḥadarim), in chambers of chambers, as the Targum renders it: His command בִּשְׁמֵי שְׁמַיָּא (bi-shemei shemayya), in heavens of heavens. Therefore, Not on bread alone does the human live but on all going out from YHVH’s mouth does the human live. Yet, a fool answers impudently (Proverbs 18:23)—abandon impudence, do not answer in this manner! Therefore, he is punished. And what is his punishment? I have already explained” (Bahir §§184–185).
There are righteous to whom it befalls as though they did wickedly, and there are wicked to whom it befalls as though they did righteously (Ecclesiastes 8:14).
“Why are there wicked to whom there is good and righteous to whom there is evil? Because the righteous was already wicked and is now punished [cf. BT Mo’ed Qatan 28a]. But [is there] punishment for [one’s] days of youth? Rabbi Simon said there is no punishment until the age of twenty and up. I am not speaking about the [same] life, I am saying that he already was in the past. His companions said to him, ‘How much longer will you conceal your words?’ He replied, ‘Go and see. This is like a person who has planted a vineyard in his garden to bring forth grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes. He saw that he was not succeeding, so he replanted it, placed a fence around it, repaired the breaches, pruned the wild grapes, and planted it a second time. He saw that he was not succeeding—he again fenced it off, and again replanted it after pruning.’ How many times? He said to them, ‘Until a thousand generations, as is written: The word He ordained for a thousand generations (Psalms 105:8).’ It is in relation to this that they said: 974 generations were lacking [since the Torah was not given until the twenty-sixth generation]. ‘The blessed Holy One stood up and planted them in each generation’ (BT Ḥagigah 14a)” (Bahir §195).
“Inflicting the guilt of the fathers upon sons, upon the third and fourth generation (Exodus 20:5)—a single tree, planted once, twice, three times, and four times, and punished for its initial sins. Father, son, third, and fourth are one—when not mended and not caring to be mended [i.e., for My foes (ibid.)]. Correspondingly, the opposite of this, for a tree restored fittingly and standing firm” (Zohar 2:91b).
And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, that bears its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither—and in all that he does he prospers (Psalms 1:3).
“Since we have begun to reveal, now is the time to reveal all. Souls, issue from a grand and mighty tree of that river issuing from Eden, and all spirits issue from another, small tree. נְשָׁמָה (Neshamah), soul, from above; רוּחַ (ruaḥ), spirit, from below—joining as one, like male and female…. When joining as one, they shine supernal radiance, and in the joining of the two of them, they are called, נֵר (ner), lamp, of YHWH (Proverbs 20:27)” (Zohar 2:99b).