Part 1 - Chapter 5 - Note 34
The portions of the following texts that are the most relevant to the book appear in bold.
R. Akiba went up unhurt and went down unhurt; and of him Scripture says: Draw me, we
will run after thee. And R. Akiba too the ministering angels sought to thrust away; [but]
the Holy One, blessed be He, said to them: Let this elder be, for he is worthy to avail
himself of My glory.
Talmud - Mas. Chagigah 16a
By what Biblical exposition was he able to learn this?1
Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said that R. Johanan said: And He came from the myriads holy2 He is the Sign3 among His myriad. And R. Abbahu said: He is
preeminent above ten thousand4
He is the Example5 among His
myriad. And Resh Lakish said: The Lord of hosts is His names6
He is the Lord among His host. And R. Hiyya b. Abba said that R. Johanan
said: But the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was
not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the
fire; and after the fire a still small voice.7
And behold, the Lord passed by.8
Our Rabbis taught: Six things are said concerning demons:9 in regard to three, they are like the
ministering angels; and in regard to three, like human beings. In regard to three
they are like the ministering angels: they have wings like the ministering angels;
and they fly from one end of the world to the other like the ministering angels; and they
know what will happen like the ministering angels. [You say], They know
you cannot mean that!10
Rather, they hear from behind the Veil11
like the ministering angels. And in regard to three, they are like human
beings: they eat and drink like human beings; they propagate like human beings; and
they die like human beings. Six things are said of human beings: in regard to three, they
are like the ministering angels, and in regard to three, they are like beasts. In
regard to three, they are like the ministering angels: they have understanding like
the ministering angels; and they walk erect like the ministering angels; and they can talk
in the holy tongue12
like the ministering angels. In regard to three, they are like beasts: they
eat and drink like beasts; and they propagate like beasts, and they relieve themselves
WHOSOEVER SPECULATES UPON FOUR THINGS, IT WERE A MERCY IF13 HE HAD NOT COME INTO THE WORLD etc. Granted
as regards what is above, what is beneath,14
what [will be] after,15 that is
well. But as regards what was before what happened, happened!16 Both R. Johanan and Resh Lakish say:
It is like a human king who said to his servants: Build for me a great palace upon the
dunghill.17 They went and built it
for him. It is not the king's wish [thenceforth] to have the name of the dunghill
WHOSOEVER TAKES NO THOUGHT FOR THE HONOUR OF HIS MAKER, IT WERE A MERCY
IF HE HAD NOT COME INTO THE WORLD. What does this mean? R. Abba said: It refers to one who
looks at the rainbow. R. Joseph said: It refers to one who commits transgression in
secret. One who looks at a rainbow, for it is written: As the appearance of
the bow that is in the cloud in the day, so was the appearance of the brightness round
about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.18 R. Joseph said: It refers to one who
commits a transgression in secret, in accordance with R. Isaac's teaching. For R.
Isaac said: When anyone commits a transgression in secret, it is as though he thrust aside
the feet of the Divine Presence, for it is said: Thus saith the Lord: The heaven is My
throne, and the earth is My footstool.19
But is this so? For behold R. Elai the elder said: If a man sees that his [evil]
inclination is prevailing upon him, let him go to a place where he is not known, and put
on black garments,20 and wrap
himself up21 in black garments, and
let him do what his heart desires;22
but let him not profane the Name of Heaven publicly! There is no contradiction. The
one case speaks of one who is able to overcome23
his [evil] inclination; the other case of one who is not able to overcome his [evil]
R. Judah b. R. Nahmani, the speaker24
of Resh Lakish expounded: Anyone who looks at three things, his eyes become dim; at the
rainbow, and at the Prince,25 and
at the priests. At the rainbow, because it is written: As the appearance of the bow that
is in the cloud in the day of rain . . . This was the appearance of the likeness of the
glory of the Lord.26 At the Prince,
for it is written: And thou shalt put of thy honour upon him.27
One who looks at the priests at the time when the Temple existed, when they stood
upon their platform28 and blessed
Israel with the Distinguished Name29
[of God]. R. Judah son of R. Nahmani, the speaker of Resh Lakish expounded: What is the
meaning of the verse: Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a familiar
friend.30 If the evil inclination
say to thee: Sin and the Holy One, blessed be He, will pardon, believe it not, for it is
said: Trust ye not in a friend, and friend [Rea] means none
other than one's evil inclination, for it is said: For the inclination31 of man's heart is evil [Ra].32 And familiar friend means none
other than the Holy One, blessed be He, for it is said: Thou art the familiar friend of my
youth.33 Perhaps thou wilt say: Who
testifies against me? The stones of a man's home and the beams of his house testify
against him, for it is said: For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of
the timber shall answer it.34 But
the Sages say: A man's soul testifies against him, for it is said: Keep the doors of thy
mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.30
What is it that lies in a man's bosom? You must say, it is the soul. R. Zerika said: Two
ministering angels that accompany him testify against him, for it is said: For He will
give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.35 But the Sages36
say: A man's limbs testify against him, for it is said: Therefore ye are My witnesses,37 saith the Lord, and I am God.38
MISHNAH. JOSE B. JO'EZER39
SAYS THAT [ON A FESTIVAL-DAY] THE LAYING ON OF HANDS [ON THE HEAD OF A SACRIFICE]40 MAY NOT BE PERFORMED;41 JOSEPH B. JOHANAN SAYS THAT IT MAY BE
PERFORMED.42 JOSHUA B. PERAHIA SAYS
THAT IT MAY NOT RE PERFORMED; NITTAI THE ARBELITE43
SAYS THAT IT MAY BE PERFORMED. JUDAH B. TARBAI SAYS THAT IT MAY NOT BE PERFORMED; SIMEON
A. SHETAH SAYS THAT IT MAY BE PERFORMED. SHEMAIAH SAYS THAT IT MAY BE PERFORMED; ABTALION
SAYS THAT IT MAY NOT BE PERFORMED.44
HILLEL AND MENAHEM DID NOT DIFFER. MENAHEM WENT FORTH,45
SHAMMAI ENTERED.46 SHAMMAI SAYS
THAT IT MAY NOT BE PERFORMED; HILLEL SAYS THAT IT MAY BE PERFORMED.
(1) Lit., what did he expound? i.e., from which verse did R. Akiba learn to
distinguish God's Presence so as to avoid Aher's error of dualism, or (according to
another interpretation of Rashi) so as not to look in the direction of the Shechinah
(2) Deut. XXXIII, 2.
(and He came) is explained as v,tu (and His sign). Jast.
translates: He is the ensign among his myriad. Goldschmidt: He is
distinguished among his myriads.
(4) Cant. V, 10.
(5) Heb. tndus. There is a play here on the text vccrn kuds (pre-eminent among the
thousand) from which tndus is derived. The expositions of the different Rabbis have the common
object of showing that God's Presence could be distinguished from his myriad attendants;
fine shades of difference are not necessarily to be sought. But for the thought underlying
this particular homiletical play, cf. Lev. XIX, 2. Jast. translates: He is
exemplified by His myriad (of angels), i.e., the Divine nature is recognized
indirectly from the nature of His ministering angels, v. Cant. Rab. to V, 9. But this
seems hardly in keeping with the line of thought demanded by the context. Goldschmidt:
He is marked out among his myriads.
(6) Isa. XLVIII, 2.
(7) 1 Kings XIX, 11, 12. Thus the Divine Presence could be distinguished from the rest of
(8) .Ibid. v. 11; in the Bible this clause precedes the previous quotation.
(9) V. J.E. vol. IV, pp. 514f, and Nachmanides on Lev. XVII, 7.
(10) Prescience is a divine attribute,
(11) V. p. 95, n. 10.
(12) The power of learning to speak the Hebrew language is common to all men.
(13) The wording here is slightly different from the Mishnah text (s.v.), but does not
alter the meaning.
(14) Cf. p. 59, n. 7 and Deut. XXXIII, 27.
(15) I.e., in the hereafter.
(16) I.e., it is no longer a secret.
(17) The dunghill here represents the primordial chaos; the palace, ordered creation.
(18) Ezek. I, 28. Since the rainbow was symbolic of the Divine Glory, it was irreverent to
gaze at it.
(19) Isa. LXVI, 1. But he that sins in secret denies this, for he implies that God has no
access to his hiding-place.
(20) In the hope that exile and mourning clothes (cf. Shab. 114a, Jannai's request) would
cool his passion and cause him to abandon his wicked intention.
(21) To produce a serious frame of mind; cf p. 88, n. 9.
(22) I.e., should his passion remain unmastered, let him at least commit the sin in
secret. But R. Hananel deprecates the thought that the Talmud permits sin even in such
circumstances and interprets our passage thus: certainly the effect of exile and dark
garments will be to conquer the man's evil inclination, so that he will then be able to do
what his heart truly desires, i.e., serve God.
(23) Lit., bend.
(24) Methurgeman. Lit., interpreter, used here in the sense of Amora,
speaker; v. J.E. vol. VIII, p. 521.
(25) Heb. Nasi; v. infra p. 105, n. 6.
(26) Ezek. I, 28.
(27) Num. XXVII, 20. Moses face could not be gazed at; v. Ex. XXXIV, 29-35. A part
of Moses honour belonged not merely to Joshua but to every Jewish leader.
(28) V. J.E. vol. V, p. 9 (s.v. Dukan).
(29) I.e., pronounced the Shem ha-meforash, the Tetragrammaton (vuvh), instead of the usual
substitute hbst when uttering the sacerdotal blessing. Num. VI, 24-26. cf. Sot. VII, 6;
and Sanh. 90a (Sonc. ed., p. 602). The exact meaning of the term Shem ha-meforash is
obscure: v. Levy and Jast and J.E. vol. XI, pp. 262f. Tosaf, (a.l.) points out that
outside the Temple too, e.g., in the provinces, it was forbidden to look at the priests
during the pronouncement of the sacerdotal blessing, the reason according to the J.T.
being to prevent the distraction of the people's attention.
(30) Mic. VII, 5.
(31) E.V. imagination.
(32) Gen. VIII, 21, Only the vowels differentiate gr (friend) from gr (evil).
(33) Jer. III, 4.
(34) Hab. II, 11.
(35) Ps. XCI, 11.
(36) In Ta'an. the reading is, Some say = R. Nathan (v. Hor. 13b; cf. p. 14,
(37) I.e., ye yourselves (sc. your very bodies) testify to your own sins.
(38) Isa. XLIII, 12.
(39) In Tem. 16a: Joseph b. Jo'ezer. For the successive generations of scholars mentioned
here v. Aboth I, 4-12 (Sonc. ed., pp. 3-8 and nn. a.l.).
(40) Cf. Lev, 1, 4.
(41) The same restrictions regarding work applied to Festival-days as to the Sabbath,
except in respect of work essential to the preparation of food, which was permitted on the
Festivals (v. Bez. V, 2). Now the laying on of the hands had to be performed
with all one's strength, so that the weight of the person was supported by the animal; and
this was considered an infringement of the Sabbath rule not to make use of an
animal. The point of the controversy, therefore, is this: Had the laying on of the hands
to be done immediately prior to the slaughter, and consequently could be regarded as
essential to the preparation of food, i.e., the sacrificial meal; or could this be done on
the preceding day, so that the profanation of the holyday by this act became unnecessary,
although the slaughtering took place on the Festival day? V. Bez. II, 4 and Bertinoro a.l.
(42) In the J. Hag. II, 2 we are told: At first there was no controversy in Israel except
over the laying on of the hands alone. But Shammai and Hillel arose and made them four (in
Bab. Shab. 14b, only three points of dispute are mentioned; cf. Tosaf. to our passage).
When the disciples of the School of Hillel increased, and they did not study sufficiently
under their masters (lit., did not sufficiently minister to their masters),
the controversies in Israel increased, and they became divided into two companies, the one
declaring unclean, the other declaring clean. And (the Torah) will not again return to its
(uncontroversial) place until the son of David (i.e., the Messiah) will come. For the
meaning and importance of this controversy v. further Weiss, Dor I, 103f; Frankel,
Hodegetica in Mischnam pp. 43-44; Jacob Levi, in Ozar Nehmod III, Vienna 1860. [The
controversy has also been ingeniously interpreted as referring to the question of
acceptance of authority and not the laying on of hands. V. Zeitlin, JQR,
(N.S.) VII, pp. 499ff; Sidon A, Gedenkbuck Kaufmann, pp. 355ff and Bornstein, A. Hatekufah
IV, p. 396.]
(43) I.e., of Arbel, on the borders of Lake Galilee. V. Ab. I, 6 (Sonc. ed., p. 5, n. 3.).
(44) This pair is exceptional in so far as the first Sage permits and the second
(45) V. p. 108.
(46) I.e., in the former's place as Head of the Court.
Midrash Rabbah - Genesis VII:5
5. AND GOD SAID: LET THE EARTH BRING FORTH THE LIVING CREATURE, etc. (I,24). R. Leazar
said: LlVING CREATURE means the soul of Adam.8
AND GOD MADE THE BEAST OF THE EARTH (I, 25). R. Hoshaya the Elder said: This means the
serpent. R. Hama b. R. Hoshaya said: In speaking of souls it enumerates four, but in
speaking of bodies only three!9 Rabbi
said: This [extra soul] refers to the demons whose soul the Holy One, blessed be He,
created, but when He came to create their bodies the sanctity of the Sabbath commenced and
He could not create them.10
(8) lnfra, VIII,1.
(9) I, 24, says: Let the earth bring forth the soul (sic) of a living creature after its
kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and the beast of the earth: thus living creature
(Hayyah), cattle, creeping thing, and beast of the earth are enumerated-four in all.
Whereas I, 25, referring to the actual animals ( bodies ) states: And God made
the beast of the earth... and the cattle... and everything that creepeth-only three being
(10) Hence they remained souls (spirits) without bodies.
you a lesson in behaviour from Scripture, viz., that if a man is holding in his
hand a costly article or a precious stone on the eve of the Sabbath about sunset, we say
to him, Throw it away, for He at whose behest the world came into
existence was engaged in the creation of the world and had [already] created their
souls, but when He came to create their bodies the holiness of the Sabbath commenced and
He did not create them.
Soncino Zohar, Vayikra, Section 3, Page 76b
Now, however, that I have become a student of the Torah I have been thinking again over
that remark, but since R. Simlai departed this world there has been none who can enlighten
us on questions of the Torah like him, and I am afraid to put forth any opinion of my own
which I have not learnt from a teacher, and I can see that there is a hidden meaning in
this remark though I do not understand it. Truly, replied R. Abba,
it has a hidden meaning with reference both to the upper and the lower world. A
certain divine grade is called Bath sheba (daughter of seven in the mystery of Wisdom, and
is symbolized by the seven kine, the seven burnings, the seven sprinklings, the seven
washings, the seven unclean, the seven clean, the seven priests. [Tr. note: The reference
is, apparently, to the section of the Red Heifer, Num. XIX] [Tr. note: V. T.B. Erubin,
18b.] This was the hidden meaning in that man's remark. He said: Thank God for
granting me to hear this, and for giving me His greeting of peace, and bringing me near to
Him when I was far away. Said R. Abba to him: Peace be unto thee and
peace to thy house and peace to all that thou hast (I Sam. xxv, 6).
THOU SHALT NOT UNCOVER THE NAKEDNESS OF THY FATHER'S SISTER.We have learnt elsewhere that
Adam separated from his wife a hundred and thirty years after Cain killed Abel. R. Jose
said: When death was decreed for him and for all mankind, he said: Why should I
beget children for confusion? and he therefore separated from his wife. Then two
female spirits used to come to him and they bore from him. Their offspring were demons and
were called plagues of the children of men. We have learnt that when man came
down to earth in the supernal likeness all who saw him, both higher and lower beings, came
to him and made him king of this world. Eve bore Cain from the filth of the serpent, and
therefore from him were descended all the wicked generations, and from his side is the
abode of spirits and demons. Therefore all spirits and demons are half of the class of
human beings below and half of the class of angels above. So, too, those that were born
from Adam afterwards were half of the lower and half of the upper sphere. After these were
born from Adam, he begat from those spirits daughters with the beauty of the heavenly
beings and also with the beauty of the lower beings, so that the sons of God went astray
after them. One male came into the world from the side of the spirit of the side of Cain,
and they called him Tubal Cain. A female came with him who was called Naamah, from whom
issued other spirits and demons; these hover in the air and tell things to those others
below. This Tubal Cain produced weapons of war, and this Naamah clung to her own side, and
she still exists, having her abode among the waves of the great sea. She goes forth and
makes sport with men and conceives from them through their lustful dreams. From that lust
she becomes pregnant and brings forth further species in the world. The sons whom she
bears from human beings show themselves to the females of mankind, who become pregnant
from them and bring forth spirits, and they all go to the ancient Lilith, who brings them
up. She goes out into the world and seeks
her little ones, and when she sees little children she cleaves to them in order
to kill them and to insinuate herself into their spirits.
The fourth section And it shall come to pass if ye shall hearken, etc.
(Ibid. XI, 13-21) presents the two influences
Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 14a
to which the Congregation of Israel-the manifestation of God's power below-is subjected.
This, then, is represented by the second He, which takes up the previous letters and
contains them. The phylacteries are thus literally the counterpart of the letters of the
Divine Name. Hence Thy head upon thee is like Carmel is an allusion to the
phylactery worn on the head; and the hair (dallath, lit. poverty) of the head
signifies the phylactery worn on the hand, which is poor in comparison to that worn on the
head above, but which nevertheless has its own perfection like that which it symbolises
above. The King is held captive in the tresses thereof, that is, the heavenly
King is duly enshrined in these compartments of the Tephillin through the Divine Name
therein contained in manner due. Thus he who equips himself with them is a man made in the
image of God, for just as the letters of Holy Name are united to express the divine
essence, so in a degree they are united by him (through the phylacteries). Male and
female he created them is a reference to the phylactery of the head and the
phylactery of the hand, which together make one whole.
The eleventh precept is to give the tithe of the produce of the land. This includes
two precepts, one the tithing of the land and the other the giving of the first fruits of
the trees; for it is written: Behold I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is
upon the face of all the earth. The expression I have given is applied to
tithe in the passage: And unto the children of Levi, behold, I have given all the
tithe in Israel (Num. XVIII, 21), and it is written besides: And all the tithe
of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the
Lord's (Lev. XXVII, 30).
The twelfth precept is to bring as an offering the fruits of the tree, which is
alluded to in the words: and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed,
that is, although whatever is consecrated to God may not be eaten by man, yet God
permitted them (the Levites) to enjoy all His tithe and the first fruit of the tree. I
have given to you; that is, to you and not to the generations in the future.
The thirteenth precept is to redeem the first-born son so as to attach him firmly to
life. For every man is attended by two angels, one of life and one of death, and by
redeeming his first-born son the father ransoms him from the angel of death, who therefore
has no power over him. This is hinted in the words: And God saw everything that he had
made, to wit, creation as a whole, and, behold it was good; this alludes to the angel of
death. Through the act of redemption, then, the life-angel is strengthened, whilst the
death-angel is weakened. By means of this redemption the child obtains life, as has
already been stated; the evil power leaves him and has no more hold on him.
The fourteenth precept is to observe the Sabbath day, which was the day of rest from
all the works of Creation. This precept comprises two parts, one to rest on the Sabbath,
and one to invest it with holiness. We have to observe that day as a day of rest, as has
already been said, for the reason that it was a day of rest from the beginning, the whole
work of Creation having been completed before this day was sanctified. After the
day was sanctified there was left a residue of spirits for which no bodies had been
created. Why, it may be asked, could not God have waited to sanctify the day until He had
created bodies for those spirits? The reason is that from the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil there went forth the evil power to seize control of the world,
and so a number of diverse spirits set out to acquire for themselves bodies by force. As
soon as the Holy One, blessed be He, saw this, He raised out of the tree of life a wind
that blew and lashed against the other tree so that the beneficent power arose
and the day was sanctified. For the creation of bodies and the stirring of spirits on that
night comes about under the influence of the beneficent power and not of the
evil power. Had the evil power forestalled on that night the
beneficent power, the world could not exist, on account of the evil spirits,
for an instant. But the Holy One, blessed be He, provided the cure in advance; He hastened
the sanctification of the day before the evil power prevailed, and so the world was
established, and instead of the evil power becoming master of the world as it thought to
be, on that night it was the beneficent power which obtained the victory, and
therefore sacred bodies and spirits are being built up on that night under the influence
of the beneficent power. It is for that reason that the marital intercourse of
the wise and learned men who know this
is weekly, from Sabbath to Sabbath.
Tanach - Deuteronomy Chapter 32
17. They sacrificed to powerless spirits, not to God; to gods whom they
knew not; to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
Tanach - Psalms Chapter 106
37. And they sacrificed their sons and their daughters to idols,
Midrash Rabbah - Leviticus XXII:8
8. R. Phinehas in the name of R. Levi said: The matter may be compared to the case of a
king's son who thought he could do what he liked and habitually ate the flesh of nebeloth
and.terefoth.5 Said the king: ' I
will have him always at my own table and he will automatically be hedged round.6 Similarly, because Israel were
passionate followers after idolatry in Egypt and used to bring their sacrifices to the
satyrs, as it is written, And they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices unto the
satyrs (Lev. XVII, 7) --and these satyrs are nought but demons, as is borne out by the
text which says, They sacrificed unto demons, no-gods (Deut. XXXII, 17), these demons
being nought but satyrs, as it says, And satyrs shall dance there (Isa. XIII, 21)1--and they used to offer their sacrifices in
the forbidden high places, on account of which punishments used to come upon them, the
Holy One, blessed be He, said: Let them offer their sacrifices to Me at all times in
the Tent of Meeting, and thus they will be separated from idolatry and be saved from
punishment. Hence it is written, WHAT MAN SOEVER THERE BE OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL
THAT KILLETH AN OX... AND HATH NOT BROUGHT IT UNTO THE DOOR OF THE TENT OF MEETING, etc.
(5) Both of which types of meat are ritually unfit for consumption.
(6) Emended text (Rash. in accordance with Yalkut).
(1) In the ruins referred to earlier by Isaiah. Demons were believed to inhabit ruined
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