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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 in blue.


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 redeemer! 6

    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 heaven.

    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 universe.)

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