Part 1 - Chapter 3 - Note 21
The portions of the following texts that are the most relevant to the book appear in bold.
Other portions that have relevance to the Brit Hadashah ("New Testament") appear
R. Safra on concluding his prayer added the following: May it be Thy will, O Lord our
God, to establish peace
Talmud - Mas. Berachoth 17a
among the celestial family,1 and
among the earthly family,2 and
among the disciples who occupy themselves with Thy Torah whether for its own sake or for
other motives; and may it please Thee that all who do so for other motives may come to
study it for its own sake!
R. Alexandri on concluding his prayer added the following: May it be
Thy will, O Lord our God, to station us in an illumined corner and do not station us in a
darkened corner, and let not our heart be sick nor our eyes darkened! According to some
this was the prayer of R. Hamnuna, and R. Alexandri on concluding his prayer used
to add the following: Sovereign of the Universe, it is known full well to Thee that our
will is to perform Thy will, and what prevents us? The yeast in the
dough 3 and
the subjection to the foreign Powers. May it be Thy will to deliver us from their hand, so
that we may return to perform the statutes of Thy will with a perfect heart!
Raba on concluding his prayer added the following: My God, before I was
formed I was not worthy [to be formed], and now that I have been formed I am as if I had
not been formed. I am dust in my lifetime, all the more in my death. Behold I am before
Thee like a vessel full of shame and confusion. May it be Thy will, O Lord my God, that I
sin no more, and the sins I have committed before Thee wipe out in Thy great mercies, but
not through evil chastisements and diseases! This was the confession of R. Hamnuna Zuti on
the Day of Atonement. 4
Mar the son of Rabina on concluding his prayer added the following: My
God, keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking guile. May my soul be silent to
them that curse me and may my soul be as the dust to all. Open Thou my heart in Thy law,
and may my soul pursue Thy commandments, and deliver me from evil hap, from the evil
impulse and from an evil woman and from all evils that threaten to come upon the world. As
for all that design evil against me, speedily annul their counsel and frustrate their
designs! 5 May the words of my
mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before Thee, O Lord, my rock and my
When R. Shesheth kept a fast, on concluding his prayer he added the
following: Sovereign of the Universe, Thou knowest full well that in the time when the
Temple was standing, if a man sinned he used to bring a sacrifice, and though all that was
offered of it was its fat and blood, atonement was made for him therewith. Now I have kept
a fast and my fat and blood have diminished. May it be Thy will to account my fat and
blood which have been diminished as if I had offered them before Thee on the altar, and do
Thou favour me. 7
When R. Johanan finished the Book of Job, 8
he used to say the following: The end of man is to die, and the end of a beast is to be
slaughtered, and all are doomed to die. Happy he who was brought up in the Torah and whose
labour was in the Torah and who has given pleasure to his Creator and who grew up with a
good name and departed the world with a good name; and of him Solomon said: A good name is
better than precious oil, and the day of death than the day of one's birth.9
A favourite saying of R. Meir was: Study with all thy heart and with
all thy soul to know My ways and to watch at the doors of My law. Keep My law in thy heart
and let My fear be before thy eyes. Keep thy mouth from all sin and purify and sanctify
thyself from all trespass and iniquity, and I will be with thee in every place.
A favourite saying of the Rabbis of Jabneh was: I am God's creature and
my fellow 10 is God's creature. My
work is in the town and his work is in the country. I rise early for my work and he rises
early for his work. Just as he does not presume to do my work, so I do not presume to do
his work. Will you say, I do much 11
and he does little? We have learnt: 12
One may do much or one may do little; it is all one, provided he directs his heart to
A favourite saying of Abaye was: A man should always be subtle in the
fear of heaven. 13 A soft answer
turneth away wrath, 14 and one
should always strive to be on the best terms with his brethren and his relatives and with
all men and even with the heathen in the street, in order that he may be beloved above and
well-liked below and be acceptable to his fellow creatures. It was related of R. Johanan
b. Zakkai that no man ever gave him greeting first, even a heathen in the street.
A favourite saying of Raba was: The goal of wisdom is repentance and
good deeds, so that a man should not study Torah and Mishnah and then despise 15 his father and mother and teacher and his
superior in wisdom and rank, as it says, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
a good understanding have all they that do thereafter. 16
It does not say, that do, 17
but that do thereafter, which implies, that do them for their own sake and not
for other motives. 18 If one does
them for other motives, it were better that he had not been created.
A favourite saying of Rab was: [The future world is not like
this world.] 19 In
the future world there is no eating nor drinking nor propagation nor business nor jealousy
nor hatred nor competition, but the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads
feasting on the brightness of the divine presence, as it says, And they beheld God, and
did eat and drink. 20
[Our Rabbis taught]: 21
Greater is the promise made by the Holy One, blessed be He, to the women than to the men;
for it says, Rise up, ye women that are at ease; ye confident daughters, give ear unto my
speech. 22 Rab said to R. Hiyya:
Whereby do women earn merit? By making their children go to the synagogue 23 to learn Scripture and their husbands to the
Beth Hamidrash to learn Mishnah, and waiting for their husbands till they return from the
Beth Hamidrash. When the Rabbis 24
took leave from the school of R. Ammi some say, of R. Hanina they said to
him: May you see your requirements provided 25
in your lifetime, and may your latter end be for the future world and your hope for many
generations; may your heart meditate understanding, your mouth speak wisdom and your
tongue indite song; may your eyelids look straight before you, 26 may your eyes be enlightened by the light of
the Torah and your face shine like the brightness of the firmament; may your lips utter
knowledge, your reins rejoice in uprightness 27
and your steps run to hear the words of the Ancient of Days. When the Rabbis took leave
from the school of R. Hisda others Say, of R. Samuel b. Nahmani they said to
him: We are instructed, we are well laden28
etc. We are instructed, we are well laden. Rab and Samuel according to
others, R. Johanan and R. Eleazar give different explanations of this. One Says:
We are instructed in Torah, and well laden with
precepts. The other says: We are instructed in Torah and precepts;
we are well laden with chastisements.
(1) The Guardian Angels of the various nations.
(2) From the context this would seem to refer to the nations of the earth. Rashi, however,
takes it to mean the assembly of the wise men.
(3) I.e., the evil impulse, which causes a ferment in the heart.
(4) It occupies the same place in the present day liturgy. V. P.B. p. 263.
(5) MS.M adds: Pay them their recompense upon their heads; destroy them and humble them
before me, and deliver me from all calamities which are threatening to issue and break
forth upon the world!
(6) In the present day liturgy this prayer is also added (in a slightly altered form) at
the end of every Amidah. V. P.B. p. 54. The last sentence is from Ps. XIX, 15.
(7) MS.M. adds: A certain disciple after he prayed used to say: Close mine eyes from
evil, and my ears from hearing idle words, and my heart from reflecting on unchaste
thoughts, and my veins from thinking of transgression, and guide my feet to (walk in) Thy
commandments and Thy righteous ways, and may Thy mercies be turned upon me to be of those
spared and preserved for life in Jerusalem!
(8) M. reads: R. Johanan said: When R. Meir finished etc.
(9) Eccl. VII, 1. R. Johanan was prompted to this reflection by the fact that Job departed
with a good name.
(10) I.e., the am ha-arez, or nonstudent.
(11) In the way of Torah.
(12) Men. 110a.
(13) I.e., in finding out new ways of fearing heaven.
(14) Prov. XV, I.
(15) Lit., kick at.
(16) Ps. CXI, 10.
(17) Another reading is, that learn them.
(18) I.e., to criticise and quarrel. V. Rashi and Tosaf. ad loc.
(19) These words are bracketed in the text.
(20) Ex. XXIV, 11 . These words are interpreted to mean that the vision of God seen by the
young men was like food and drink to them.
(21) These words are missing in cur. edd., but occur in MS.M.
(22) Isa. XXXII, 9. The women are said to be at ease and
confident, which is more than is said of the men.
(23) Where children were usually taught.
(24) Who had left home to study with R. Ammi.
(25) Lit., see your world.
(26) The expression is taken from Prov. IV, 25. The meaning here seems to be, may you have
a correct insight into the meaning of the Torah.
(27) The reins were supposed to act as counsellors.
(28) Ps. CXLIV, 14. E.V. Our oxen are well laden.
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 83a
Blessed is he who is worthy to dwell with the King in His own House. Said R. Simeon:
Blessed is he who is worthy of that most inestimable privilege which is foretold in
the words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord (Ibid. LVIII, 14). It
does not say, with the Lord, but in the Lord, namely in the place
from whence the upper and the lower worlds alike derive being, and to which they return,
that sphere of which it is written: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from
whence cometh my help (Ps. CXXI, 2), and again: and came to the Ancient of
Days, and they brought him near before him (Dan. VII, 13). The longing and delight
of the righteous is to contemplate that splendour from whence all lights emanate, and all
celestial crowns are illumined. R. Simeon continued: We have expounded the
closing words of this verse, I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the
earth, to mean the supramundane world, called heaven, and God is above
this. R. Abba said that the Lord here means Heaven, and the high places
of the earth the Land of the Living, consisting of Zion and Jerusalem which
are above, the supernal heaven and the supernal earth. This, however, is quite in harmony
with R. Simeon's interpretation, as it is all one celestial sphere. Then he said to R.
Simeon: Would it please the Master to deign to interpret the whole verse, including
the last words, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father? R.
Simeon then repeated what he had said before, and added that the last words are a
reference to Isaac's blessing, And God give thee of the dew of heaven (Gen.
XXVII, 28), this being the heritage of Jacob. Now this blessing
wherewith Isaac blessed Jacob was made in regard to that heaven of which we
have spoken, and in these words he indicated that Jacob's children will rise again from
the dead at the time of the Resurrection, by means of that heavenly dew, at the time when
it shall issue forth from the Ancient of Days to the Small of Countenance. R.
Abba thought for a while, and said: Now everything is clear, and I see that there is
even more significance in Isaac's blessing than I had thought. AND GOD SPARE ALL
THESE WORDS. According to R. Simeon, the word spake denotes a proclamation.
When the Holy One revealed Himself and began to speak, the celestial and the terrestrial
beings began to tremble mightily, and the souls of the Israelites left their bodies
because of their mighty dread. Then the Divine word descended from heaven, being on its
way engraved upon the four winds of the universe; and then rose once more and again
descended. When it rose up it drew from the mountains pure balsam
Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, Section 2, Page 83b
and was watered with the heavenly dew, and when it reached this earth it encompassed the
Israelites and brought them back their souls.
R. Isaac rose from his bed one night
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 135b
to study the Torah. R. Judah, who happened then to be in Caesarea, said to himself at the
same time: I will go and join R. Isaac in the study of the Torah. He
accordingly set out along with his youthful son Hizkiah. As he was nearing R. Isaac's
threshold he overheard him expound the verse: And it came to pass after the death of
Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son; and Isaac dwelt by Beer-lahai-roi (Gen.
XXV, 11). The connection between the two parts of this verse, he said,
is obscure, but may be explained as follows. It was necessary that God should bless
Isaac, because Abraham had not blessed him, and the reason why Abraham had not blessed him
was to prevent that blessing being transmitted to Esau. Hence the task of blessing fell,
so to speak, to the Almighty. The text thus continues: And Isaac dwelt by
Beer-lahai-roi (lit. the well of the living and seeing one), that is, as the Aramaic
paraphrase has it, the well where appeared the Angel of the Covenant, to wit,
the Shekinah, to which Isaac became attached, thereby drawing upon himself the blessing of
the Almighty. At that point R. Judah knocked at R. Isaac's door, entered the room
and joined him. R. Isaac said: Now, the Shekinah herself is in our presence.
Said R. Judah: Your exposition of the term beer-lahai-roi is quite correct, but
there is more in it than you have said. He then began to discourse thus. It is
written: A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and flowing streams from Lebanon
(S. S. IV, 1). A fountain of gardens is a description of Abraham; a well
of living waters is a description of Isaac, of whom it is written: And Isaac
dwelt by the well of the living and seeing one (beer-lahai-roi). The
well is none other but the Shekinah; the living one is an allusion
to the Righteous One who lives in the two worlds, that is, who lives above, in the higher
world, and who also lives in the lower world, which exists and is illumined through him,
just as the moon is only illumined when she looks at the sun. Thus the well of existence
literally emanates from the living one whom it sees, and when it
looks at him it is filled with living waters. (The word living is
similarly used in the verse
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 136a
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a living man (II Sam. XXIII, 20),
i.e. a righteous man who illumines his generation as the living Deity above illumines the
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