The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: Temple

ספר זרובבל (Sefer Zerubbavel)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

נסתרות של רבי שמעון בר יוחאי (Nistarot shel Rabbi Shim’on bar Yoḥai), Secrets of Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai

rashbi2These are the secrets that were revealed to Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai when he was hiding in a cave on account of [the persecutions of] Caesar king of Edom [see BT Shabbat 33b]. He stood in prayer forty days and forty nights, and opened: YHWH Elohim, how long will you spurn the prayer of your servant? [cf. Psalms 80:5]. Immediately the secrets of the End and hidden things were revealed to him.

He sat and expounded: and saw the Kenite [i.e., ‘Midian’ or ‘Ishmael’ (Rav Ḥai Gaon)] (Numbers 24:21). When he saw that the kingdom of Ishmael would come, he said: Is it not enough what the wicked kingdom of Edom has done to us that we should also [suffer] the kingdom of Ishmael? Immediately Metatron Prince of the Presence answered him, saying: Do not be afraid my son, for the blessed Holy One is bringing about the kingdom of Ishmael only for the purpose of delivering you from that wicked one [Edom]. He shall raise up over them a prophet in accordance with His will, and He will subdue the Land for them; and they shall come and restore it with grandeur. Great enmity will exist between them and the sons of Esau.

Rabbi Shim’on answered, saying: How are they our redemption? He said to him: Did not Isaiah the prophet say so? And he shall see a rider, a pair of horsemen, a rider on a donkey, a rider on a camel (Isaiah 21:7)? [cf. Ibn Ezra ad loc.]. Why did he put a rider on a donkey before a rider on a camel? Should he not instead have said …a rider on a camel… of a rider on a donkey? [Rather,] when the rider on a camel emerges, the kingdom ruled by the one riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9) has sprouted by his agency. 

Another interpretation: A rider on a donkey—at the [same] time when riding on a donkey. Consequently they are a redemption for Israel like the redemption of the one riding on a donkey.

Moreover Rabbi Shim’on reported that he learned from Rabbi Yishma’el at the time when the latter learned that the kingdom of Ishmael was coming that [they] will measure the Land with ropes [cf. Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 30], as is said: And the Land will be apportioned for wages [cf. Daniel 11:39; Joel 4:2]. They will make cemeteries pasture-land and for flocks, and when one of them dies, they will bury him any place they please. They will then turn around and plow the grave and sow seed on it, as it says, Thus shall the Children of Israel eat their bread defiled (Ezekiel 4:13). Why? Because [the location of] impure fields will be unknown.

Again, and saw the Kenite (Numbers 24:21). What was the parable that wicked one [Balaam] pronounced? When he foresaw that his [i.e., the Kenite’s] descendants were destined to arise and enslave Israel, he began rejoicing and said: אֵיתָן (ethan), staunch, is your settlement (ibid.)—I see human beings who are occupied only with the commandments of Ethan the Ezrahite (1 Kings 5:11; Psalms 89:1).

The second king who will arise from Ishmael will be a friend of Israel. He will repair their breaches and the breaches of the Temple and shape Mount Moriah [cf. 2 Chronicles 3:1; JT Berakhot 4:5, 8c; Sifre, Deuteronomy 62] and make the whole of it a level plain. He will build for himself there a place for prayer upon the site of the אֶבֶן שְׁתִיָּה (even shetiyyah), Foundation Stone [cf. M Yoma 5:2; Tosefta, Yoma 2:14; BT Yoma 54b; JT Yoma 5:2, 42c; Vayiqrah Rabbah 20:4; Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 26:4; Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 35; Zohar 1:71b–72a, 231a; ZḤ 27d; Rabbi Moshe de León, Sefer ha-Rimmon, 333], as it says, and saw the Kenite (Numbers 24:21). He will wage war with the sons of Esau and slaughter their troops and capture a large number of them, and he will die in peace and with great honor.

And there shall arise a great king from Hasarmawet [cf. Genesis 10:26], but he will exercise rule only for a few years. Warriors of the sons of Kedar shall rise up against him and kill him [perhaps ʿAlī (656–661 CE)], and bring to power another king whose name is Mry’w [perhaps Marwān I (684–85 CE)]. They shall take him from following flocks and mule-herds and elevate him to the kingship. There shall arise from him ‘four arms’ who will make repairs on the Temple [perhaps the four sons of ʿAbd al-Malik (685–705 CE) who became caliphs].

At the end of the reign of the ‘four arms’ there shall come to power another king [perhaps Sulaymān (715–717 CE)]. He will diminish measures for quantity, length, and weight, and enjoy three years of tranquility. A dispute will erupt in the world during his reign, and he will send out mighty forces against the sons of Edom. There [Byzantium?] they will die of hunger, even though they will have abundant provisions—he will refuse [sustenance] from them, [and] none will be given him. The sons of Edom will prevail over the sons of Ishmael and slaughter them. Then the sons of Ishmael will arise and burn the provisions, and those who are left will flee and depart [perhaps Sulaymān’s expedition against and siege of Constantinople].

After this a great king will come to power and rule for nineteen years [Hishām (724–743 CE)]. These are his signs: reddish and squinty-eyed [alt., crosseyed], and he will have three moles: one on his forehead, one on his right hand, and one on his left arm. He will plant saplings and rebuild ruined cities and tap subterranean waters to bring up water to irrigate his plantings so that his future descendants will have plenty to eat. All who arise to oppose him will submit to his power, and the Land will remain undisturbed during his reign, and he will die peacefully.

Then another king will arise who will seek to cut off the waters of the Jordan [perhaps Al-Walīd ibn Yazīd]. He will bring far-away peoples from alien lands to excavate and build a canal to bring up the waters of the Jordan to irrigate the Land. The excavated portion of the Land will collapse upon them and kill them. Their leaders will hear [about this], and then rebel against the king and kill him.

Another king will then arise—strong and a warrior [perhaps Marwān II]. A dispute will erupt in the world during his reign. This will be the sign for you: When you see that the western gyrwn has fallen [the eastern wall or gate]—at the western side of [the place of] prayer of the sons of Ishmael in Damascus—his dominion will have fallen. They will be assembled and marched out to do forced labor, and indeed the kingdom of Ishmael will collapse. Of them it says, YHWH has broken the wickeds’ scepter, [and שֵׁבֶט מֹשְׁלִים (shevet moshlim), the rod of rulers; or: the tribe of rulers—alluding to מוּסלְמִים (muslemim), Muslims] (Isaiah 14:5). Rod—Ishmael. And who is this? It is Marwān [Marwān II was termed al-Ḥimār, the ‘wild ass of Mesopotamia’ in Muslim sources]. Warriors from the sons of Kedar will still remain with him, but the northeastern corner [of his kingdom] will rebel and come up against him [i.e., Khorāsān, the province where the ʿAbbāsid dynasty originated]. There shall fall from among his forces three great armies at the Tigris and at the Euphrates, and he himself will flee from them, but he will be captured and put to death. His sons will be impaled on wood.

And after this a king עַז פָּנִים (‘az panim), brazen faced [see Deuteronomy 28:50; Daniel 8:23; Targum to the Hagiographa, Ecclesiastes 8:1], will arise for three months [perhaps Abū al-ʿAbbās as-Saffāḥ], and then the wicked kingdom will rule over Israel for nine months, as it says, Therefore shall He give them over till the time the woman in labor bears her child, [and the rest of his brothers shall come back with the Children of Israel] (Micah 5:2). And there shall sprout up for them Messiah Son of Joseph, and he will bring them up to Jerusalem. He will rebuild the Temple and offer sacrifices; fire shall descend from the heavens and consume their sacrifices, as it says, The lawless sons of your people shall be raised up to fulfill the vision, but they shall stumble (Daniel 11:14). If they are not worthy, Messiah Son of Ephraim comes [i.e., Messiah Son of Joseph]; but if they are worthy, Messiah Son of David will come [cf. BT Sanhedrin 98a; Zohar 1:116a–118b].

A wicked king will arise whose name is Armilus: bald, with small eyes and a skin-blanched forehead; his right ear closed up and his left ear open. If a good person should speak to him, he will turn his closed ear toward him, and if a wicked person should speak to him, he will turn his open ear to him. He is the offspring of the שָׂטָן (satan), Adversary, and a stone [statue], and he will come up to Jerusalem and incite war with Messiah Son of Ephraim [i.e., Messiah Son of Joseph] at the eastern gate, as is it says, And they shall look upon those who were stabbed [and mourn for them like the mourning for an only child, and they shall grieve bitterly for them as one grieves bitterly for a firstborn] (Zechariah 12:10) [cf. BT Sukkah 52a]. Israel will go into exile into the uncleared wilderness to forage among the salt-plants and broom-sage roots for forty-five days, and then they will be tested and refined, as it says, And I will bring the third part through the fire, [and will refine them as silver is refined, and will test them as gold is tested: they shall call on My name, and I will hear them: I will say, They are My people: and they shall say, YHWH is my God] (ibid. 13:9). Messiah Son of Ephraim shall die there, and Israel shall mourn for him. After this the blessed Holy One will reveal to them the Messiah Son of David, but Israel will want to stone him, and they will say to him: You speak a lie, for the Messiah has already been slain, and there is no other Messiah destined to arise [cf. BT Sanhedrin 99a: “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”]. They will scorn him, as it says, Despised and shunned by people, [a man of sorrows and visited by illness. And like one from whom the gaze is averted, despised, and we reckoned him naught] (Isaiah 53:3). He shall withdraw and be hidden from them, as it says, And like one from whom the gaze is averted (ibid.). But in Israel’s great distress, they will turn and cry out from hunger and thirst, and the blessed Holy One will be revealed to them in His glory, as it says, [And YHWH’s glory shall be revealed,] and all flesh together see [that YHWH’s mouth has spoken] (ibid. 40:5). And King Messiah will sprout up there, as it says, And, look, with the clouds of the heavens [one like a human being was coming] (Daniel 7:13), and it is written after it: and authority was given to him (ibid., 14). He shall blow [his breath] at that wicked Armilus and kill him, as it says, [And he shall judge the poor in justice and render right verdict for the lowly of the land. And he shall strike the land with the rod of his mouth,] with the breath from his lips put the wicked to death (Isaiah 11:4).

The blessed Holy One will signal for and gather together all Israel and bring them up to Jerusalem, as it says, I will whistle to them and gather them, [for I will ransom them, and they shall increase as before. And I will sow them among the peoples, in far places they shall recall Me, and they shall thrive with their children and return. And I will bring them back from the land of Egypt and from Assyria I will gather them] (Zechariah 10:8). Fire will descend from the heavens and consume Jerusalem up to three cubits, and uncircumcised foreigners and the impure will be removed from her midst. Then a rebuilt and decorated Jerusalem will descend from the heavens; in it seventy-two precious stones will shine from one end of the world to the other. And all the nations will come to [bask in] her splendor, as it says, But nations shall walk by your light, [and kings by your dawning radiance] (Isaiah 60:3). A rebuilt Temple will descend from the heavens—the one which was folded within Zebul [BT Ḥagigah 12b], for thus Moses saw, as it says, You’ll bring them, you’ll plant them, [on the mount of Your estate, a firm place for Your dwelling You wrought, O YHWH, the sanctum, O Sovereign, Your hands firmly founded] (Exodus 15:17).

Israel will dwell in peace for two thousand years [see BT Avodah Zarah 9a; Sanhedrin 97a in the name of Tanna debe EliyyahuBerit Menuḥa, Haqdamah]. They will feast upon Behemoth, Leviathan, and Ziz [on the Ziz, see BT Bava Batra 73b]. They will slaughter Behemoth; Ziz shall rend Leviathan with its ankles; and Moses will come and slaughter the ‘wild Ziz’ [cf. Psalms 50:11; 80:14]. At the end of two thousand years, the blessed Holy One will sit upon the Throne of Judgment in the valley of Jehoshaphat [cf. Joel 4:2, 12]. Immediately the heavens and the earth will wear out and fade away: the sun will be ashamed and the moon embarrassed [cf. Isaiah 24:23]; the mountains will shake and the hills will quake [cf. ibid. 54:10], so that Israel will no longer have her sins recounted to her. The gates of Hell will be opened in the Wadi Yehoshu’a, and on the third day the gates of Eden [will be opened] in the east, as it says, After two days will He revive us (Hosea 6:2)—the days of the Messiah, which are two thousand years. [On the] third day [He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight] (ibid.)—the Day of Judgment, and alas for the one who is among all those who perish during it! The blessed Holy One shall cause to pass before Him every nation, and He shall say to them: ‘You who worshipped gods of silver and gold—see now if they are able to deliver you!’ Immediately they shall pass by and be immolated, as it says, The wicked will turn back to Sheol, [all the nations forgetful of God] (Psalms 9:18). Israel shall come after them, and the blessed Holy One will say to them: Whom have you worshipped? They will answer: [Though Abraham did not know us nor Israel recognize us,] You, YHWH, are our Father, [our Redeemer of yore is Your name] (Isaiah 63:16). And the nations of the world will complain from the midst of Hell: Let us see whether He will judge His people Israel like He judged us! Immediately the blessed Holy One will pass with Israel through the midst of Hell, and it will be made like cool water before them, as it says, [He who makes the breach shall go up before them, they shall break out and pass through the gate and go out there.] And their king shall pass through before them, [YHWH at their head] (Micah 2:13), and it says, Should you walk through fire, you shall not be singed, and flames shall not burn you (Isaiah 43:2). At that time the transgressors among Israel will be dumped into Hell for twelve months [see for example M Eduyot 2:10; BT Rosh ha-Shanah 17a], but after that the blessed Holy One will bring them up and settle them in Eden, and they will enjoy its fruits, as it says, And your people, all of them righteous, [shall forever possess the land, the shoot I have planted, My handiwork in which to glory] (Isaiah 60:21).

Rabbi Shim’on said: The blessed Holy One will signal to the bee who is at the end of the rivers of Egypt, and they shall come and wage war in the midst of Egypt. The first king who leads them and brings them forth is a slave who has rebelled against his master, as it says, Thus said YHWH… to the despised one, reviled by nations (Isaiah 49:7)—that is the one held abhorrent among the nations; namely, the sons of Canaan—the slave of rulers. [Kings shall see and rise, princes, and bow down, for the sake of YHWH, who is faithful, Israel’s Holy One who has chosen you] (ibid.). He shall rebel against his overlord, and others who have rebelled against their masters will be gathered to him, and they shall gradually go out and seize the kingdom by force. They will make war with the sons of Ishmael, kill their warriors, and take possession of their wealth and property. They are repulsive men, dressed in black and coming from the East, and they are quick and impetuous, as it says, [For I am about to raise up the Chaldeans,] the harsh and headlong nation [that goes to the wide reaches of the earth to take hold of dwellings not theirs] (Habakkuk 1:6). They will ascend the mountain of the height of Israel intending to tear down the Temple and to uproot the doors, but will [instead] weep bitterly [?].

Four kings shall arise over them: two of them will be princes and two of them chieftains. The first… [?] and the king who rules after them [sic] will conduct himself humbly: his eyes will be attractive and his hair lovely, and he will die in peace, with no one in the world collecting tribute from him. After him there shall arise a king accompanied by strife. He will station armies by the Euphrates River, but all of them will fall in a single day. He will flee, but will be captured, and all the time he is held captive there will be peace in the world. His brothers will rule over all lands.

The fourth king who shall arise over them will be a lover of silver and gold. He will be a dark man and tall, old and גַּרְגַּר (gargar), shrivelled [or: גַרגְרָן (gargeran), gluttonous]. He will kill those whom they bring to him, and they will install him as king. He will build boats of bronze and fill them [with] silver and gold, and store them beneath the waters of the Euphrates in order to reserve them for his sons. But they are destined for Israel, as it says, And I will set before you treasures of darkness and hidden stores [so that you may know that I am YHWH who calls your name, the God of Israel] (Isaiah 45:3). During his reign the western quadrant will rebel, and he will dispatch there many troops, but [the leader of the rebellion] will kill the easterners. Again [the fourth king] will send out many troops, and they will come and slay the westerners, and take up residence in their land.

And this will be the sign for you—when you see that at the beginning of one week there is rain, and in the second [week] the loosing of the ‘arrows of hunger,’ and in the third a severe famine, and in the fourth no hunger but [also] no satisfaction, and in the fifth there is great satiety. A star shall appear from the east with a rod on top of it—this is the star of Israel, as it says, A star steps forth from Jacob… (Numbers 24:17). If it shines, it is for the benefit of Israel. Then Messiah Son of David shall emerge.

And this will be the sign for you—when you see that the eastern gyrwn in Damascus has fallen, the kingdom of those in the East has fallen. Then redemption will sprout for Israel. Messiah Son of David will come, and they [sic] will go up to Jerusalem and rejoice over her, as it says, And the poor shall inherit the earth and take pleasure from great well-being (Psalms 37:11). May the blessed Holy One in His compassion send to us the redeemer quickly in our era, amen!

All the Glory of the King’s Daughter is Inward

“Rabbi Neḥunia son of ha-Qannah said: One verse says, They have not seen the light, bright though it be in the skies (Job 37:21). And another verse says, He set darkness His hiding-place (Psalms 18:12); it is also written, Cloud and dense fog around Him (ibid. 97:2). This is difficult. However, a third verse comes to hold the balance: Darkness itself does not darken for You, and the night lights up like the day, the dark and light are one (ibid. 139:12)” (Bahir §1).

He set darkness His hiding-place round Him, His abode darkness of water, the clouds of the skies (Psalms 18:12). But is there any darkness before Heaven? For behold it is written: He lays bare the deep and the hidden things, knows what is in darkness, and light dwells with Him (Daniel 2:22)—this is not difficult: the one refers to inner houses [in which there is only light], the other to outer houses [hidden in darkness of water, cloud and dense fog]” (BT Ḥagigah 12b–13a).

When you light up [the lamps, opposite the front of the lamp stand shall the seven lamps give light] (Numbers 8:2).

Darkness itself does not darken for You, and the night lights up like the day, the dark and light are one (Psalms 139:12). Yet to us He says When you light up!

To what may this be compared? To a king who had a beloved friend. The king said to him, ‘Know that I will eat with you [even though I am royalty]. Go and prepare for me!’ His beloved friend went and prepared a common couch, a common lamp, and a common table. When the king arrived there came with him ministers who encompassed him on this side and that, and a lamp of gold before him. When his beloved friend saw all the glory of the king, he felt ashamed and put away everything that he had prepared for him, since it was all common. The king said to him, ‘Did I not tell you that I would eat with you? Why have you not prepared anything for me?’ His beloved friend said to him, ‘I saw all the glory that accompanied you, and I felt ashamed and put away all that I had prepared for you, since they were common vessels.’ The king said to him, ‘By your life! I will discard all the vessels that I have brought, and for the sake of your love I will use none but yours!’

And so, the blessed Holy One is entirely light, as is said, He lays bare the deep and the hidden things, knows what is in darkness, and light dwells with Him (Daniel 2:22). Yet He says to Israel ‘Prepare for Me a lamp and lights.’ And why is it written, They shall make Me a Tabernacle, that I may abide in their midst (Exodus 25:8); And you shall make a lamp stand of pure gold (ibid., 31)? When they had completed everything שְׁכִינָה (Shekhinah), [divine] Presence, came.

Why is it written, [And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of YHWH filled the Tabernacle.And Moses could not come into the Tent of Meeting (ibid. 40:35)? Immediately He called to Moses: And when Moses came into the Tent of Meeting to speak with Him, he would hear the voice (Numbers 7:89). What did He say to him? When you light up [the lamps]” (Bemidbar Rabbah 15:8).

“Why is it called זָהָב (zahav), gold? Because three qualities are included in it. זָכָר (Zakhar), male—ז (zayin). הַנְּשָׁמָה (Ha-neshamah), the soul—ה (he), for ה״ (five) names of the soul [which are feminine nouns]: ruaḥḥayahyeḥidahneshamahnefesh. What is the function of he? She is a throne for zayin, as is written, For he who is high has a higher one watching him (Ecclesiastes 5:7). And ב (bet)? She is their existence, as is said, בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא (Bereshit bara), In the beginning created… (Genesis 1:1).

A parable: A king had a daughter who was good, sweet, lovely, and perfect. He married her to a royal prince—and clothed, crowned, and bejewelled her, giving her abundant wealth. Is it possible for the king to ever leave his daughter? Certainly not! Is it possible for him to remain with her constantly, the entire day? Certainly not! What then must he do? He places a חַלּוֹן (ḥallon), window, between the two, and whenever the father needs his daughter, or the daughter needs her father, they can unite through the window [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 74:7]. As is written, All the glory of the king’s daughter is inward, filigree of gold her raiment (Psalms 45:14) [on the association of this verse with the Sanctuary, see TanḥumaBemidbar 3; Tanḥuma (Buber), Bemidbar 3; Bemidbar Rabbah 1:3; Zohar 3:171a]” (Bahir §53–§54).

And YHWH spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai [in the Tent of Meeting] (Numbers 1:1).

Before the Tent of Meeting was set up, He spoke with him from the bush, as is said, And Elohim called out to him from the midst of the bush (Exodus 3:4). And afterward, He spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, as is said, And YHWH said to Moses and to Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying… (ibid. 12:1).

He also spoke to him in Midian, as is said, And YHWH said to Moses in Midian (ibid. 4:19). He also spoke to him on Sinai, as is said, And YHWH spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying… (Leviticus 25:1). However, as soon as the Tent of Meeting was set up, [the blessed Holy One] said, ‘הַצְּנִיעוּת (Ha-tsninut), modesty, is beautiful,’ as is said, [He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does YHWH require of you, but to do justly, and to love kindness,and to walk הַצְנֵעַ (ha-tsne’a), humbly, with your God (Micah 6:8), [and so from now on] I will speak to him in the Tent of Meeting. Thus, David said, All the glory of the king’s daughter is פְּנִימָה (penimah), inward, filigree of gold her raiment (Psalms 45:14). 

The daughter of the king—[Torah of] Moses, as is said, And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of harsh masters (Isaiah 19:4)—the plagues that came upon Egypt [called harsh אֲדֹנִים (adonim), masters]; and a fierce king shall rule over them, [says הָאָדוֹן (ha-Adon), the Lord, YHWH of armies] (ibid.)—Moses who was king of Torah which is called Strength, as is said, May YHWH give strength to His people (Psalms 29:11). Therefore: All the glory of the king’s daughter is inwardFiligree of gold her raiment—Aaron, as is said [of the priestly garments worn by the High Priest:] And you shall make a filigree of gold (Exodus 28:13).

From here they said: A woman who conducts herself with מַצְנַעַת (matsena’at), becoming modesty, even if she is an Israelite [i.e., her father is not a Cohen or a Levi], deserves to be married to a priest and to raise High Priests, as is said, filigree of gold her raiment. The blessed Holy One said, ‘So too it befits My honor that I should speak מִלִּפְנִים (millifenim), within,’ as is said, And when Moses came into the Tent of Meeting [to speak with Him…] (Numbers 7:89) [on the association of Psalms 45:14 with the Sanctuary, see TanḥumaBemidbar 3; Tanḥuma (Buber), Bemidbar 3; Zohar 3:171a]” (Bemidbar Rabbah 1:3, cf. Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 1; Zohar 2:22b).

“What is, And from the west I will gather you (Isaiah 43:5)? From the same quality which perpetually inclines to the west. Why is it called מַּעֲרָב (ma’arav), the west? Because from there all seed is מִתעַרֵב (mit’arev), mixed. A parable: A king’s son had a lovely and modest bride in his chamber. He would take riches from his father’s house and come to her constantly and she would constantly take it all and hide it, mixing it all together. [After some time he] requested to see what he had gathered and stockpiled. Thus: from the west I will gather you. And what is it? His father’s house, since from the east I will bring your seed. To teach that He brings from the east and sows to the west. Afterwards, He gathers in what He has sown” (Bahir §156).

My lover is like a deer or like a stag. Oh, he stands behind our wall peering through the windows, peeping through the crannies (Song of Songs 2:9).

“Come and see: When a man builds a house and makes windows within he wants the light to enter. He makes windows narrow on the outside and broad on the inside. Why? So that the light will enter from the outside and shine on the inside. But when Solomon built the Temple, he did not make the windows in such a way. Rather, they were narrow on the inside and broad on the outside so that the light would emanate from the Temple and shine outside, as is written, And he made broad and narrow windows for the house (1 Kings 6:4)” (Tanḥuma [Buber], Beha’alotkha 2:1).

“Rabbi Ḥanina said: There were windows in the Temple, and from these light used to emanate for the world, as it says, And he made broad and narrow windows for the house (1 Kings 6:4). They were transparent and opaque; narrowing towards the inside and broadening towards the outside so as to let the light out to the world” (Vayiqra Rabbah 31:7).

And he made broad and narrow windows for the house (1 Kings 6:4). It was taught: Broad—without; narrow—within, for I am not in need of light” (BT Menaḥot 86b)

Bitter Almonds: One Can Sweeten Them in the Fire!

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“Why are large [bitter] almonds fit for [tithing]? Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Because one can sweeten them in the fire!” (BT Ḥullin 25b).

You are stationed here today [all of you before YHWH your God, your heads, your tribes, your elders, and your overseers, every man of Israel] (Deuteronomy 29:9:) This is what is said in the verse: הָפוֹךְ (Hafokh), overturn, the wicked and they are gone, but the house of the righteous will stand (Proverbs 12:7)—every time that the blessed Holy One looks at the works of the wicked and מְהַפֵּךְ (mehapek), turns [them] over, they do not remain standing [cf. Zohar 3:136a (IR): ‘Scrutinizing providence, not revealed except when the wicked must be called to account and their deeds examined’]. He looked over the works of the generation of the Flood, and there was no withstanding [it] for them, as is said: And He wiped out all existing things [from the face of the earth, from humans to cattle to crawling things to the fowl of the heavens, they were wiped out from the earth] (Genesis 7:23).

He looked over the works of the Sodomites, and there was no withstanding [it] for them, as is said: And He overthrew all those cities [and all the plain and all the inhabitants of the cities and what grew in the soil] (ibid. 19:25).

He looked over the works of the Egyptians, and there was no withstanding [it] for them, as said, not a single one of them remained (Exodus 14:28).

He looked over the works of Babylon, and there was no withstanding [it] for them, as is said: [And I will rise against them, says YHWH of Armies,] and I will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, kith and kin (Isaiah 14:22).

Of them all David said, There did the doers of mischief fall. They were toppled and could not rise (Psalms 36:13). But Israel falls and stands, as is said: Rejoice not, O my enemy. Though I fall, I will arise. [Though I sit in darkness, YHWH is a light for me] (Micah 7:8)—For I am YHWH, I have not changed [and you, sons of Jacob, have not come to an end] (Malachi 3:6).

Rabbi Ḥanina son of Pappa said: The blessed Holy One said, ‘I have never struck a people repeatedly [i.e., never have a people fallen and risen again], but you, sons of Jacob, have not כְלִיתֶם (kelitem), come to an end, as is said: [I will sweep down evils upon them,] My arrows אֲכַלֶּה (akhalleh), spending, against them [wasted with famine, withered by blight and bitter scourge, and the fang of beasts will I send against them, with the venom of creepers in the dust] (Deuteronomy 32:23–24). My arrows כָּלִין (kalin), are spent, yet [Israel] does not כָּלִים (kalim), come to an end. And so Assembly of Israel said: He bent His bow and stood me up as a target for the arrow. [He drove into my innards the shafts of His quiver] (Lamentations 3:12–13).

A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A man who stood a beam up and shot his arrows at it. The arrows are spent, but the beam stands. Thus with Israel: any time that sufferings overtook them the sufferings ended, and they were [left] standing in their place. As is said, Overturn the wicked and they are gone, [but the house of the righteous will stand].

Hezekiah the son of Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘Why is this portion [Nitsavim (Deuteronomy 29:9–30:20)] next to the portion about curses [i.e., Ki Tavo (ibid. 27:11–28:69)]? Because Israel heard a hundred curses less two in this portion, apart from the forty-nine which are mentioned in the priestly Torah [Leviticus]. Immediately their faces turned pale and they said, ‘Who is able to withstand these [curses]?’ Immediately Moses called to them and pacified them: What is written above? And Moses called to all Israel [and said to them, ‘You have seen all that YHWH did before your own eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land….] The great trials [that your own eyes have seen, those great signs and portents….] And you came to this place, [and Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of the Bashan sallied forth to meet us in battle, and we struck them down] (Deuteronomy 29:1–2, 6). And you did not heed My voice, and you spoke words before Me for which you deserved destruction. Still I did not wreak destruction upon you, when it is said: Our fathers in Egypt did not grasp Your wonders. [They did not call to mind Your many kindnesses and rebelled by the sea, at the Sea of Reeds] (Psalms 106:7). And not only that, but they said of the calf, These are your gods, O Israel, [who brought you up from the land of Egypt] (Exodus 32:4).

Now if you should say, ‘Why did the nations deserve destruction, while we remain standing?’ Because when sufferings overtake them, they thwart them and do not recall the name of the blessed Holy One, as is said, Pour out Your wrath on the nations that did not know You [and on the kingdoms that did not call on Your name] (Psalms 79:6). But Israel, when sufferings overtake them, surrender and מִתְפַּלְּלִין (mitpallelin), they pray [lit., make themselves the object of divine intervention], as is said, [The cords of death encircled me— and the straits of Sheol found me]—distress and sorrow did I find. And in the name of YHWH I called. [YHWH, pray, save my life] (ibid. 116:3–4) [cf. Bereishit Rabbah 92:1: ‘Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said: All sufferings that overcome a man and prevent him from words of Torah are sufferings of rebuke, but sufferings that overcome a man and do not prevent him from words of Torah are sufferings of love. As is written: For whom YHWH loves He rebukes, [and like a father his son, regards him kindly] (Proverbs 3:12)’].

Therefore the blessed Holy One said, ‘Even though these curses overtake you, they stand you up [or: they are your endurance].’ And so He said: [Who feeds you manna in the wilderness, which your fathers did not know,] in order to afflict you and in order to try you, [to make it go well with you in your later time?] (Deuteronomy 8:16). So Moses said to Israel: Even though sufferings overtake you, you have the עֲמִידָה (amidah), Standing Prayer. As is said, You are stationed here today all of you [before YHWH your God] (ibid. 29:9)….

Another interpretation: You are stationed here today—why the day sometimes darkens and sometimes lightens, so it is with you. Although you have darkness, the blessed Holy One is going to shine on you with everlasting light, as said, [No more shall the sun be your light by day, nor the moon’s radiance shine for you,] but YHWH shall be your everlasting light [and your God become your splendor] (Isaiah 60:19). When? When you all become a single אֲגֻדָּה (aguddah), band [or: faction, bunch, bundle], as said, [But you, the ones clinging to YHWH your God,] are all of you alive today (Deuteronomy 4:4). According to the way of the world, if a person takes aguddah, a bunch, of reeds, will he be able to break them in a single stroke? But if he takes them one by one, even a child can break them! And so you find that Israel was not redeemed until they became one bunch, as is said, [In those days and in that time, said YHWH, the Israelites and the Judahites shall come together, [weeping as they walk shall they go, and YHWH their God they shall seek] (Jeremiah 50:4)—when they are united they welcome the face of Shekhinah” (Tanuma, Nitsavim 1).

You shall not תִתְגֹּדְדוּ (titgodedu), gash yourselves (Deuteronomy 14:1)—do not form אֲגֻדּוֹת (aguddot), factions. Rather, be a single אֲגֻדָּה (aguddah), band. And, similarly, He says: He has founded אֲגֻדָּתוֹ (aguddato), His vault, upon earth (Amos 9:6)” (SifreDevarim 96).

“And it shall be, if you do not heed the voice of YHWH your God to keep to do all His commands and His statutes that I charge you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you… 

Inasmuch as you will not have served YHWH your God in joy and with a good heart out of an abundance of all things, you will serve your enemies whom YHWH will send against you in hunger and in thirst and in nakedness and in the lack of all things, and he will put an iron yoke on your neck until you are destroyed…

And YHWH will bring you back to Egypt in ships, on the way that I said to you, ‘You shall not see it again,’ and you will put yourselves up for sale there to your enemies as male slaves and slavegirls, and there will be no buyer” (Deuteronomy 28:15, 47–48, 68).

Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai fled to the wilderness of Lydda and hid in a cave—he and his son, Rabbi El’azar. A miracle occurred for them—a carob tree sprouted and a spring of water gushed forth. They ate from the carob tree and drank from the waters. Elijah, of blessed memory, visited them twice daily and taught them, without anyone knowing about it.

One day, the sages were in the beit midrash, questioning and debating: ‘The curses of Leviticus allude to the First Temple, while the curses of Deuteronomy allude to the Second Temple. The curses of Leviticus contain promises and the blessed Holy One’s affection for Israel, as is written: I will remember My covenant with Jacob (Leviticus 26:42), and Yet even this, too—when they are in the land of their enemies, [I will not reject them] (ibid., 44). The curses of Deuteronomy contain no promises nor any consolation at all such as are found in the first curses.’ And none of them could explain it.

Rabbi Yehudah son of Il’ai rose, saying, ‘Woe for the absence of Son of Yoḥai! No on knows his whereabouts; and even if they did, they could not divulge.’

Rabbi Yose son of Rabbi Yehudah arose one morning and saw birds flying—a turtledove trailing them. He stood up, saying, ‘Turtledove! Faithful Turtledove! Since the days of the flood, the form of the holy people has suited you and graced you [because the dove is distinctive among birds in that it does not mate with another bird, should its mate disappear during the season, cf. BT Berakhot 53b]. Go, serve as my messenger to Son of Yoḥai, wherever he is.’ The dove circled around and came before him. He wrote a note, recording what he had said. The dove arose and took it in its mouth, traveling to Rabbi Shim’on, carrying it under her wing [cf. Zohar 1:11b].

Rabbi Shim’on looked at the note and cried—he along with his son Rabbi El’azar. He said, ‘I weep because of our separation from the Companions; and I weep regarding these matters that have not been revealed to them! What will later generations do when they consider this!

Just then, Elijah, of blessed memory, arrived. He saw him weeping, and said, ‘I was ready for a different mission, but the blessed Holy One dispatched me to dry your tears. Oh, Rabbi, Rabbi! Now was not the time to reveal these matters to the righteous, but here is what the blessed Holy One explained. The first curses contain thirty-two verses, all corresponding to the paths of Torah. The latter curses contain fifty-three verses, corresponding to the parashot and routes of the Torah. In the first exile, from the First Temple, Israel passed along those concealed, secret paths. Their sins were revealed and their end was revealed, along with consolation and promises for them. In the latter exile—after the Second Temple—the people of Israel transgressed against fifty-three portions, revealed paths. Their sins were concealed and their ends were concealed—neither promises nor consolation were written [cf. BT Yoma  9b].’

Just then, a wind gusted by, separating them, sweeping Elijah up in a wheel of fire. Rabbi Shim’on remained, weeping. He fell asleep at the opening of the cave. Suddenly Elijah, of blessed memory, came saying, ‘Arise, Rabbi Shim’on! Wake up from your slumber. Happy is your portion, for the blessed Holy One is concerned for your honor! All the promises and consolations of Israel are written in these curses.

Go, see how a king loves his son, and even though he curses and lashes him, his deep love endures. When he displays severe wrath, his compassion for him prevails. Similarly, with the blessed Holy One—even though He curses, His words come from love. In their revealed form they appear to be curses, but they are great boons, because the curses came from love. This contrasts with the first ones, which all derived from harsh judgment. In these there is judgment and love—like a father who loves his son while gripping in his hand a switch for flogging. The child shrieks mightily, creating a din; but the lashes are lessened with love [cf. BT Berakhot 5a].

Most severe of all these curses—What’s more, every illness and every plague that is not mentioned in this Scroll of Torah YHWH will hide from you, that would have caused you to be wiped out (Deuteronomy 28:61). Here are promises of great love from father to son! It is not written יַעֲלֶה (ya’aleh), will bring [upon you], but rather יַעְלֵם (ya’lem), will hide [from you]. He will subdue them and nullify them in a pit—their place—so that they cannot venture forth; rather, they will be subdued and covered in their pit.

Until you are wiped out (ibid.)—which will never, ever happen, for the blessed Holy One took an oath that He would never destroy Israel, and that their memory will endure forever. This is as is written: so shall your seed and your name stand (Isaiah 66:22), and As I live, if the heavens above could be measured… (Jeremiah 31:37). Since it has been sworn by oath that Israel will never, ever be wiped out, it is fitting that plagues and illnesses should be concealed and covered, never emerging to harm them to the extent of annihilation—that will never, ever happen.

The end and conclusion of them all is YHWH will bring you back to Egypt in ships, by a route that I told you, ‘You shall not see it again.’ There you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male slaves and slavegirls, but there will be no buyer (Deuteronomy 28:68)—promises and consolations that the blessed Holy One provides to Israel at the end of days! YHWH will bring you back to Egypt in ships—a promise to return them, and to perform miracles and signs that the blessed Holy One had enacted in Egypt in days of yore. This is as is said: As in the days of your coming out of the land of Egypt, I will show him wonders (Micah 7:15).

בָּאֳנִיּוֹת (Bo-oniyyot), In ships—but here its meaning is as you have said, expounding it as בַּעֲנִיּוּת (ba-aniyyut), in poverty, without a coin in one’s purse [cf. BT Sanhedrin 97a: ‘The (Messiah,) son of David, will not come until… the (last) coin has gone from the purse’]. Everyone in the world is poised to pounce upon Israel, aboard seafaring vessels, intending to annihilate them, but they will all drown in the sea just as was done in olden days, and joy abounded. Here it is written בָּאֳנִיּוֹת רִנָּתָם (bo-oniyyot rinnatam), raising their voice in ships (Isaiah 43:14)—just as joy is there, so is there joy here [cf. Ester Rabbah, Petiḥta 3].

By a route which I told you—since the day that the world was created the might of the blessed Holy One has not been seen in the world, nor the time of favor, other than on that route. For as you see the Egyptians today (Exodus 14:13)—on that same route, in that very manner, so shall He do for you.

Further, they will gather afterward from all sides against Israel, and the people of Israel will think then that they will be eliminated—sold to their foes—as is written: There you shall offer yourselves for sale. It is not written you shall be sold, but rather you shall offer yourselves for sale—in your hearts you will imagine that you have been sold. But this will not occur—it is written: none will buy. And there will be none who shall rule over them.

All this will occur at the end of days; and it is all dependent upon teshuvah. But it is all concealed, as is written: in order that you may prosper in all that you do (Deuteronomy 29:8)—one who has a heart should contemplate and will know to return to his Lord [on teshuvah as a prerequisite for redemption, see JT Ta’anit 1:1, 63d; BT Sanhedrin 97b; Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 43; Tanḥuma, Beḥuqqotai 3; Tanḥuma (Buber), Beḥuqqotai 5; Zohar 1:117b; 2:188b–189a; ZḤ 8a, 23c (both MhN)].

Rabbi Shim’on asked, ‘Where is Israel’s redemption revealed among these curses?’

Elijah replied, ‘Examine carefully and see the most horrific instance of them all—that is where it appears.’ He examined carefully, and found the verse Your life will dangle before you, and you will be terrified night and day and will have no faith in your life (Deuteronomy 28:66). Even though there are those who know that time, life dangles before them, and they are uncertain—even though this is the essence, and the words endure.

In the evening, Rabbi Shim’on wrote a note and placed it in the mouth of the turtledove, which journeyed back to Rabbi Yose—who had stayed put, his eyes expectant. Upon spotting [the dove], he said, ‘Turtledove, Turtledove, you are the most faithful bird in the skies!’ He proclaimed of it: the dove came back to him at eventide; and look, a plucked off olive leaf was in its bill (Genesis 8:11). He took the note and went to the Companions. He showed it to them, and they were astonished.

Rabbi Yehudah wept, saying, ‘Alas! Even though we do not know his whereabouts, the place where the tree falls, there it will be (Ecclesiastes 11:3) [cf. BT Bekhorot 57b; Eikhah Rabbah 1:37]. Where Son of Yoḥai is found, his companions are there with him, awakened by him, learning from him. Happy is the soul of Son of Yoḥai, for the blessed Holy One has performed miracles with him; he has decreed, and the blessed Holy One has fulfilled! [cf. BT Mo’ed Qatan 16b; Zohar 3:15a]. In the future, he will be the head of the righteous ones who sit in the Garden of Eden; he will receive the face of the Shekhinah and will see the blessed Holy One. Delighting with the righteous ones, he will call to them: Come, let us bow down kneel; let us bend the knee before YHWH our Maker (Psalms 95:6)” (Zohar Ḥadash 59c–60a).

Who Hardens his Heart will Fall into Harm

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“We have found that the Temple was destroyed the first time only because they worshiped idols, engaged in forbidden sexual relations, and shed blood. And the same with the Second [Temple].

Rabbi Yoḥanan son of Torta said: ‘We have found that Shiloh was destroyed only because they disgraced the holy days and profaned the sacrificial offerings. We have found that the First Temple was destroyed only because they worshiped idols, and they engaged in forbidden sexual relations, and they were shedders of blood. But with the Second [Temple], we know them as [people who] toiled in Torah and were careful with mitsvot and with  tithes, and every kind of good conduct was among them, only that they loved money and hated one another [with] שִׂנְאַת חִנָּם (sinat ḥinnam), baseless hatred. And baseless hatred is so severe that it is equal in weight to idolatry, forbidden sexual relations and shedding blood.

A story: Rabbi Ze’ora and Ya’aqov son of Aḥa and Rabbi Abonah were sitting and saying: ‘[Baseless hatred is] even more [severe] since in the [case of the] First [Temple, it] was rebuilt but in [the case of] the Second [Temple, it] was not rebuilt.’ Rabbi Ze’ora said: ‘The [people of the] First [Temple] repented, but the [people of the] Second did not repent.’

Rabbi El’azar said: ‘The first ones—their iniquity and their designated time were revealed; the second ones—their iniquity was revealed but their designated time was not revealed.

They asked Rabbi Eli’ezer: ‘Are the last generations more worthy than the first ones?’ He answered them: ‘Your witnesses, the Chosen House shall prove [this]. Our forefathers removed the ceiling: And the cover of Judah He exposed (Isaiah 22:8) but we have smashed the walls: Saying, Raze it, raze it, to its foundation! (Psalm 137:7).’

They said: ‘Each generation for whom [the Temple] is not built during its days is considered as if it [were the generation that] had destroyed it” (JT Yoma 1:1, 38c).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: What is, Happy the man who fears at all times, but who hardens his heart will fall into harm? (Proverbs 28:14). The destruction of Jerusalem came through קַמְצָא וּבָּר קַמְצָא (qamtsa u-bar qamtsa), Locust and Son of Locust; the destruction of Tur Malka came through a rooster and a hen [cf. Judges 4:6]; the destruction of Bethar came through the shaft of a leather.

The destruction of Jerusalem came through a Qamtsa and a Son of Qamtsa in this way. A certain man had a friend Qamtsa and an enemy, Son of Qamtsa. He once made a party and said to his servant, Go and bring Qamtsa. The servant went and brought Son of Qamtsa. [The host] found him sitting [at the banquet]. He said, ‘Since that one [i.e., you] are the enemy of that man [i.e., me], what are you doing here? Get up and leave!’ He said to him, ‘Since I am here, let me be, and I will pay you for what I eat and drink.’

He said to him, ‘No.’ He said to him, ‘I will pay for half the banquet.’ He said to him, ‘No.’ He said to him, ‘I will pay for the whole banquet.’ He said to him, ‘No.’ He grabbed him by the hand and put him out. He [Son of Qamtsa] said, ‘Since the Rabbis were sitting and did not intervene, I will go and inform against them at the king’s palace.’ He went and said to the emperor, ‘The Jews are rebelling against you.’ He said, ‘How can I tell?’ He said to him, ‘Send them a sacrifice and see if they offer it [on the altar].’ He sent with him a fine calf. While on the way he made a blemish on its upper lip, or as some say on the white of its eye, in a place where we [Jews] count it a blemish but they do not. The Rabbis were inclined to offer it for the sake of peace with the kingdom. Rabbi Zekhariyah son of Avqulos said to them, ‘Should they say that blemished animals are offered on the altar?!’ They then proposed to kill [Son of Qamtsa] so that he should not go and tell him [the emperor]. Rabbi Zekhariyah son of Avqulos said to them, ‘Should they say that one who causes a blemish [on consecrated animals] be put to death?’ Rabbi Yoḥanan said, ‘The scrupulousness [or: meekness (Rashi)] of Rabbi Zekhariyah son of Avqulos destroyed our Temple and burnt our Sanctuary and exiled us from our Land” (BT Gittin 55b–56a, cf. Josephus, Jewish Wars 2:17, 2).

“Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because of three things which prevailed there: idolatry, forbidden sexual relations, and bloodshed…. But why was the Second Temple destroyed, seeing that in its time they were occupying themselves with Torah, mitsvot, and the practice of tsedaqah, social justice? Because therein prevailed hatred without cause. That teaches you that baseless hatred is considered as of equal weight with the three sins of idolatry, forbidden sexual relations, and bloodshed together. And [during the time of] the First Temple did no baseless hatred prevail? Surely it is written: Scream and howl, O man, for it was against My people, [it was against all Israel’s princes. Felled by the sword were My people, so clap upon the thigh] (Ezekiel 21:17). El’azar said: This refers to people who eat and drink together and then thrust each other through with the daggers of their tongue!—that [passage] speaks of the princes in Israel, for it is written, Cry and wail, son of man: for it is upon My people. One might have assumed [it is upon] all [Israel], therefore it goes on, Upon all the princes of Israel: [terrors by reason of the sword shall be upon My people: strike therefore upon your thigh] (ibid.)” (BT Yoma 9b).

“Long ago, as Rabban Gamaliel, Rabbi El’azar son of Azariyah, Rabbi Yehoshu’a and Rabbi Akiva were walking on the road, they heard the noise of the crowds at Rome [travelling] from Puteoli, twenty miles away. They all fell weeping, but Rabbi Akiva was laughing. They said to him: Why are you laughing? He said to them: Why are you weeping? They said: These heathens who bow down to images and burn incense to idols live in safety and ease, whereas our Temple, the ‘Footstool’ of our God is burnt down by fire, and should we then not weep? [on the Footstool of God, see 1 Chronicles 28:2; Lamentations 2:1; Psalms 99:5; 132:7; cf. Ezekiel 43:7]. He replied: That is why I am laughing. If it is so for they that offend Him, how much more so for they that do obey Him! Once again they were coming up to Jerusalem together, and just as they came to Mount Scopus they saw a fox emerging from the Holy of Holies. They fell weeping and Rabbi Akiva was laughing. They said to him, why are you laughing? He said: Why are you weeping? They said to him: A place of which it was once said, but the stranger that comes near shall be put to death (Numbers 1:51), has now become the haunt of foxes, and should we not weep? He said to them: That is why I am laughing, for it is written, And I enlisted for myself two trusty witnesses, Uriah the priest and Zachariah son of Jeberechiah (Isaiah 8:2).

Now what connection has this Uriah the priest with Zechariah? Uriah lived during the times of the First Temple, while [the other,] Zechariah lived [and prophesied] during the Second Temple; but Scripture linked the [later] prophecy of Zechariah with the [earlier] prophecy of Uriah, In the [earlier] prophecy [in the days] of Uriah it is written, Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed like a field, [and Jerusalem become heaps of ruins and the Temple mount a high forest] (Micah 3:12; Jeremiah 26:18–20). In Zechariah it is written, Thus said YHWH of Armies: Again shall old men and old women sit in the squares of Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:4), so long as Uriah’s [threatening] prophecy had not had its fulfilment, I had misgivings lest Zechariah’s prophecy might not be fulfilled; now that Uriah’s prophecy has been [literally] fulfilled, it is quite certain that Zechariah’s prophecy also is to find its literal fulfilment. They said to him: Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva, you have comforted us!” (BT Makkot 24a–b, cf. JT Berakhot 2:4, 5a).

Not by Might and Not by Power but by My Spirit

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIAN

Thus said YHWH of Armies, saying, “This people have said, ‘The time has not come, the time for rebuilding the house of YHWH.’” And the word of YHWH came through Haggai the prophet, saying: “Is this the time for you to sit in your paneled houses when this house is in ruins?” (Haggai 1:2–4).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan: The blessed Holy One said, ‘I will not enter the heavenly Jerusalem until I can enter the earthly Jerusalem.’ Is there then a heavenly Jerusalem? Yes, as is written, Jerusalem built like a town that is joined fast together (Psalms 122:3)” (BT Ta’anit 5a).

Not by might and not by power but by My spirit, said YHWH of Armies (Zechariah 4:6).

The lawless sons of your people shall be raised up to fulfill the vision, but they shall stumble (Daniel 11:14).

Enhance Zion with Your favor, build the walls of Jerusalem (Psalms 51:20). Enhance Zion with Your favor—informing us as follows: Why enhance? It seems that she already has goodness, and now, enhance that goodness. Certainly so! For ever since the day that the blessed Holy One engaged in building the Temple above until now, that goodness of favor has not settled upon that edifice, and so it has not been completed. However, when favor above rouses, with goodness will He tend and kindle the lights of that edifice and that creation, so that even the angels above will be unable to gaze at the Temple or at the structure. Then the whole work will be completed. Build the walls of Jerusalem.

Now, since the day that the blessed Holy One engaged in building the Temple until now, has He not built them? If He has not built the walls of Jerusalem, then certainly not the Temple! However, all actions of the blessed Holy One differ from the actions of human beings. When human beings built the Temple, they first constructed the walls of the city and finally the Temple—walls of the city first to protect them, then building the Temple. Not so with the blessed Holy One; rather, He builds the Temple first, and finally, when He lowers it and sets it in place, then He will build the walls of Jerusalem, the walls of the city. Thus, Enhance Zion with Your favor, first; and then, build the walls of Jerusalem” (Zohar 2:108b).

On that day I will raise up the fallen shelter of David and I will stop up its breaches and its ruins will I raise and rebuild it as in days of yore, so that they take hold of the remnant of Edom and all the nations on which My name has been called, said YHWH, who does this (Amos 9:11).

The Glory of this Latter House Shall be Greater than that of the Former: Like its Building, Great is its Reading in Torah

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I have hearkened to your prayer and to your plea that you pleaded before Me. I have sanctified this house that you built to set My name there forever, and My eyes and My heart shall be there for all time (1 Kings 9:3).

“Rav Shmu’el son of Abba said: The blessed Holy One said to Israel, ‘Even though the House is destined to be destroyed and the sacrifices nullified, do not forget the order of the sacrifices, but rather be careful to learn them and review them. And if you occupy yourselves with them, I will reckon it to you as if you were occupied with the sacrifices.’

Come and see: When the blessed Holy One showed Ezekiel the design of the House, what did He say? You, man, tell the house of Israel about the house, and let them be ashamed of their crimes, and let them measure its design (Ezekiel 43:10). Ezekiel said before the blessed Holy One: Master of the Universe! Until now we are in exile delivered into in the land of our enemies, yet You say to me go and tell Israel the design of the House, [and if they are ashamed of all that they have done, inform them of the plan of the house and its design…] and write them before there eyes that they may observe all its design and its regulations [and do them] (ibid., 11). And are they able to do [them]?! Leave them until they go up from exile, and afterwards I will go and tell them. The blessed Holy One said to Ezekiel: And because My children are in exile, will the building of My House be nullified? The blessed Holy One said to him: Like its building, great is its reading in Torah. Go and say it to them and they will occupy themselves with reading the design of the House in Torah. And in reward for its reading, that they occupy themselves in its reading, I reckon it to them as if they were occupied with the building of the House.

And happy is the man who engages in Torah and gives his money to teach Torah to his son. As on account of the money that he gives for teaching, he merits life in the world to come, as is said, For He is your life and your length of days (Deuteronomy 30:20). Your life—in the world to come; and your length of days—in the world that is long. And know that it is so. Rabbi Asya said: Why do the schoolchildren of Rabban’s house study the book of Leviticus? Since all the sacrifices are written in it, and because they are pure until now and do not know the taste of offense and crime. Therefore, the blessed Holy One said: Let them first begin with the order of the sacrifices—let pure ones come and occupy themselves with acts of purification. Therefore, I reckon it to them as if they were standing and offering sacrifices before Me. And He is informing you that even though the Temple is destroyed and sacrifices are not practiced, were it not for schoolchildren that read the order of sacrifices, the world would not stand. Therefore, the blessed Holy One said to Israel: My children, even though the Temple is destroyed and the sacrifices are nullified and the sacrifice of the burnt offering is not practiced, if you occupy yourselves with reading the portion of the burnt offering and study the portion of sacrifices, I reckon it to you as if you were offering the sacrifice of a burnt offering before Me, as is said, This it the teaching for the burnt offering (Leviticus 7:37)—one who occupies himself with the teaching of the burnt offering merits life in the world to come. What is written above? Should a person offend and betray YHWH’s trust and dissemble with his fellow [about a deposit or a pledge, or by theft, or defraud his fellow, or should he find something lost… he shall pay back the principal and add a fifth to him to whom it belongs he shall give it, when his guilt is confirmed] (Leviticus 5:21). And afterwards: This it the teaching for the burnt offering. Isaiah said: For I, YHWH, love justice, and hate robbery (Isaiah 61:8)—with a burnt offering. The blessed Holy One says: Do not say, ‘I will steal and defraud, and bring a burnt offering and it will atone for me.’ Since I hate theft, even with a burnt offering made for theft. And if the world wants Me to accept a burnt offering, return the theft to its owner. Afterwards, if he bring up a burnt offering for it, I will accept it, as is said, For I, YHWH… hate robbery with a burnt offering—I hate the burnt offering when the theft is still in his hand.

And one who reads the teaching of the burnt offering is as if he brings and offers up a burnt offering before the blessed Holy One. Therefore, happy is the one who teaches himself Torah and gives his money to teach himself and his sons, as is said, And this is the teaching of the communion sacrifice (Leviticus 7:11). Israel said before the blessed Holy One: Master of the Universe: Behold You command us that we bring all of these sacrifices. When the Temple was still in existence, a man that offended brought a sacrifice and it ransomed for him. And so [too], he brought a meal offering and it was accepted. But now that the Temple is destroyed, what can we do for our offenses and for our guilt? The blessed Holy One said to them: If you want them to be atonement for you, keep My laws, and I will reckon it to you as if you offered up sacrifice before Me. From where is this known? This is the teaching for the burnt offering, for the grain offering, and for the offense offering and for the guilt offering and for the installation offering and for the communion sacrifice [which YHWH charged Moses on Mount Sinai…] (Leviticus 7:37). Do not read it so: [This is the teaching לָעוֹלָה (la-olah), for the burnt offering…], but rather: This is the teaching לֹא לָעוֹלָה (lo la-olah), not the burnt offering, not the grain offering, and not the offense offering and not the guilt offering and not the installation offering and not the communion sacrifice. Rather, occupy yourselves with Torah, and it will be reckoned by Me as if you offered up all of the sacrifices before Me. Therefore, David said, How I loved Your teaching. All day long it was my theme (Psalms 119:97)—since I know that engaging in Your Torah atones for crime, thus How I loved Your teaching.

What is [This is the teaching of the burnt offering. It is the very burnt offering] over its flame on the altar all night till morning (Leviticus 6:2)? That they burn the fats and the limbs the entire night. And the prayers were instituted corresponding to the sacrifices [cf. BT Berakhot 26b: ‘Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi says: The prayers were instituted to replace the daily sacrifices’]. Now that we do not have burnt offerings, nor sacrifices, nor meal offerings, nor guilt offerings, they instituted them as prayers. And the evening prayer can be brought the whole night, just as we bring limbs and fats the whole night. But the Patriarchs instituted the prayers, and this means to say, its burning is on the altar the whole night. And why was the burning on the altar and not in another place? Rather, the verse says, An earthen altar shall you make for Me, [and you shall sacrifice upon it your burnt offerings and your communion sacrifices, your sheep and your cattle] (Exodus 20:24). Why earthen? Because the human was created from the soil, and his name was called אָדָם (adam), human, because he was taken from the אֲדָמָה (adamah), humus. And we offer up burnt offerings and sacrifices on that altar, made of earth, to atone for the body that is taken from the soil. And from where do we know that it ransoms for a life? As is written, For the life of all flesh, its blood is in its life (Leviticus 17:14). And it also says, for it is the blood that ransoms in exchange for life (ibid., 11). And cast the blood round the altar (ibid. 1:5). And cast the blood—the life; round the altar—of soil which is like the body; that ransoms in exchange for life. A perpetual fire shall keep burning on the altar. It shall not go out (ibid. 6:6). And it says, And they shall go out and see the corpses of the people who rebelled against Me, for their worm shall never die and their fire shall not go out (Isaiah 66:24)—those that deny the Omnipresent. But the perpetual fire on the altar atones for the offenses of Israel.

And what is מִזְבֵּחַ (mizbeaḥ), altar? מ (Mem)—מְחִלָּה (meḥillah), wipe out, as it מּוֹחֵל (moḥel), pardons, their crimes; ז (zayin)—זְכוּת (zechut), merit, as it gives them merit for the world to come; ב (bet)—בְּרָכָה (berakhah), blessing, as the blessed Holy One brings them blessing in the work of their hands; ח (ḥet)—חַיִּים (ḥayyim), life, as they merit life in the world to come. One who leaves all of these (pardon, merit, blessing, and life) and goes and serves foreign worship, is burned by His great fire, as is said, For YHWH your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24). How is He jealous? As is said, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness (Hosea 2:22)—just as a husband is jealous for his wife, so too the blessed Holy One is jealous, as is said, [As a young man beds a virgin…] and a bridegroom’s rejoicing over the bride [shall your God rejoice over you] (Isaiah 62:5). One who leaves all these will be burnt by His great fire, as is said, For their worm shall never die and their fire shall not go out, and they shall be a horror to all flesh (ibid. 66:24). However, if he repents, the fire burning on the altar ransoms for him and extinguishes the fires of Hell” (Tanḥuma, Tsav 14).

“Rabbi Abba said, ‘I remember something that I heard from the Holy Lamp [Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai], who heard it in the name of Rabbi Eli’ezer [son of Hyrcanus]. One day, a certain clever Gentile came to him and said, Old man, old man… you say that another Temple will be built for you, whereas only two were supposed to be built: the First Temple and the Second Temple—a Third Temple and a Fourth Temple you will not find in the Torah! Surely, what is meant to be built has already been built, and there will never be any more; for, after all, Scripture calls them the two houses of Israel (Isaiah 8:14), and it is written The glory of this last house will be greater than the first (Haggai 2:9)….’

[The Gentile] said, ‘Old man, old man, don’t say anything to me, because I won’t listen to you or accept it!’ [cf. Proverbs 18:2: A fool does not care for discerning but for exposing his inner thoughts; ibid. 26:4–5: Do not answer a dolt by his folly, lest you, too, be like him. Answer the dolt by his folly, lest he seem wise in his own eyes].

Rabbi Eli’ezer raised his eyes and gazed at him, and he turned into a heap of bones. When his wrath subsided, he turned his head and wept. He said, ‘YHWH our Lord, how majestic is Your name throughout the earth! (Psalms 8:2). How mighty is the holy power throughout the earth! There is not a single tiny word appearing in the Torah that has not issued from the mouth of the blessed Holy One. These things asked by that wicked man I asked Elijah one day, and he said that they had been presented in the Heavenly Academy before the blessed Holy One.

For when Israel came out of Egypt, the blessed Holy One wished to make them on earth like holy angels above, and He wanted to build for them a holy house, bring it down from the utmost heavens, and plant Israel as a holy shoot corresponding to the image above. As is written: You will bring them, You will plant them on the mount of Your heritage. In which? A firm place for Your dwelling You fashioned, O YHWH (Exodus 15:17)—in the one that You fashioned Yourself, no one else—the First Temple. The sanctuary, O YHWH, Your hands firmly founded—the Second Temple. Both of them, the artistry of the blessed Holy One.

But because they angered Him in the desert, they died, and the blessed Holy One brought into the Land their children—who learned their ways—and the house was built by human hands. Consequently, it did not endure; and Solomon said, Unless YHWH builds the house, its builders labor in vain (Psalms 127:1), for it has no endurance [cf. Zohar 1:74a; Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah on 1:1 (5): ‘Rabbi Berekhiah said, It is not written here: The House that they were building, but rather: The House, in its being built (1 Kings 6:7). It was built by itself!’].

In the days of Ezra, sin took its toll—due to various transgressions—and they were forced to build it themselves, so it did not endure. Until now, the original building of the blessed Holy One has never appeared in the world. For it is written: YHWH builds Jerusalem (Psalms 147:2)—He and no one else. It is this building we await, not a human building, which has no endurance at all [cf. MekhiltaShirta 10; Melkhilta de-Rashbi, Exodus 15:17; Avot de-Rabbi Natan A, 1; Targum Yerushalmi, Exodus 15:17; TanḥumaNoaḥ 11; Pequdei 11; Tanḥuma (Buber), Noaḥ 17; Pesiqta Rabbati 31, 142b; Yalqut Shim’oni, Psalms 848; Rashi on Exodus 15:17; idem, Rosh ha-Shanah 30a, s.v. la tserikhaSukkah 41a; Zohar 1:114a (MhN), 183b; 2:59a–b, 108a–b].

The blessed Holy One will bring down the First Temple and the Second Temple as one from above—the First Temple, concealed [Binah]; the Second Temple, revealed [Malkhut]. The house called Second Temple will be revealed, so that the artistry of the blessed Holy One will be visible to the whole world—total joy, aspiration of the heart, in full existence.

That First Temple, concealed, will ascend high above the one revealed; and the whole world will see clouds of glory surrounding the revealed one; and within those clouds will be the First Temple, in hidden fashioning, rising to the height of the glorious heavens. It is this building that we await, which has never existed in the world.

Even the city of Jerusalem will not be the work of human hands, for it is written: I Myself—declares YHWH—will be a wall of fire around her… (Zechariah 2:9). If this is what is written about the city, all the more so for the Temple, which is His dwelling. This act should have happened at first, when Israel came out of Egypt, but it has been deferred to the end of days in the final redemption” (Zohar 3:220b–221a).

“Come and see: Four hundred years, the minister of the children of Ishmael stood and begged before the blessed Holy One: ‘Whoever is circumcised has a portion in Your name.’ He said to him, ‘it is so.’ ‘Behold Ishmael who is circumcised. Why does he not have a portion in You like Isaac?’ He said to him, ‘It is not so, the one was circumcised properly and according to the full requirements, while the other was not so [as Ishmael do not fulfill פּרִיעָה (peri’ah), uncovering, which is alluded to by the verse: He will be פֶּרֶא אָדָם (pere adam), a wild ass of a man, his hand against all, the hand of all against him… (Genesis 16:12, see Zohar 2:86a; 3:192b). אָתוֹן (Aton), she-ass, is numerically equivalent to יִשְׁמָעֵאל (Yishma’el), Ishmael)].

Moreover, they cleave to Me as is specified, on the eighth day, while the others are distanced from me for many days [being circumcised only at age thirteen, see Bereshit Rabbah 55:4].’ ‘But still in all, since he is circumcised, would he not have a good reward for this?’ [Rabbi Ḥiyya said:] Woe is to the time that Ishmael was born into the world and was circumcised. What did the blessed Holy One do? He distanced the children of Ishmael from supernal cleaving and gave them a portion below in the Holy Land, because of their circumcision. And in the future, the children of Ishmael are destined to rule over the Holy Land for a long time when it is empty, like their circumcision, empty and imperfect. And they will prevent the children of Israel from returning to their place until the reward for the merit of the children of Ishmael reaches completion.

The children of Ishmael will cause great wars in the world and the children of Edom will gather against them, and wage war against them, one on the sea, one on the dry land, and one near Jerusalem. And they will rule over each other, but the Holy Land will not be given over to the children of Edom [cf. Numbers 24:19]. At that time, a nation from the end of the earth will be roused against evil Rome and wage war against it for three months. Nations will gather there, and will fall into their hands until all the children of Edom will gather against it from all the corners of the world. Then the blessed Holy One will be roused against them. This is the meaning of For YHWH has a sacrifice in Botzrah (Isaiah 34:6). And afterwards, it is written That it might take hold of the ends of the earth (Job 38:13).

He will destroy the descendants of Ishmael from the Land, and break all [its] powers above. There will not remain any power of any people on earth, except the power of Israel alone. This is the meaning of YHWH is your shade upon your right hand (Psalms 121:5). For the Holy Name is on the right, and the Torah is on the right. Therefore, everything stems from the right. We have learned that one should raise the right over the left, as it is written In His right hand a fiery law (Deuteronomy 33:2). In the time to come: Save with Your right hand and answer me (Psalms 60:7). And of that time, it is written: For then I will purify the language of the peoples, that all of them may call upon the name of YHWH and serve Him shoulder to shoulder (Zephaniah 3:9), and On that day YHWH will be one, and His name will be One (Zechariah 14:9)” (Zohar 2:32a).