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"A great fish coming from the left swims through all these waterways to poison and corrupt them. Its scales are as steel. From its mouth comes forth a lurid flame and its tongue is like a sharp sword. Its object is to force its way into the sanctuary of the great ocean to pollute and defile it and thus extinguish light, and causing the waters to become frozen, and the great circulatory water system may cease to operate.

"The occult meaning of this mystery is expressed in the words of scripture, 'Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made,' (Gen. iii-6). This evil serpent wished to accomplish his aim by first corrupting the brooklets below (mankind) and making them impure and bitter, so that flowing back to the great ocean their fountain head, it might become polluted. This is why he first seduced man and brought death into the world and entered into the heart of man from the left side.

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"There is, however, another serpent that comes from the right. These two serpents are they that are closely attached to man during his lifetime (the astral fluid and animal nature), as scripture saith, 'of all the beasts of the field that the Lord God had made,' these two are the most cunning, crafty and subtle in tempting and destroying man. Woe unto him who allows himself to be led on and seduced by the serpent, for death irretrievable is his doom, physically, morally and spiritually, both to himself and to those associated with him, as in the case of Adam who wished to know and become expert in nature's secrets and occult science. In revealing them and exciting within him a fictitious joy and happiness, the serpent acquired that influence and control over Adam that contributed to and brought his ruin and downfall and thus caused him to suffer, as also his successors. From the day that Israel came to the foot of Mount Sinai, the impurity and corruption wrought by the serpent has not disappeared from the world.

"Hear what saith scripture when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree by which death entered into their souls or lower nature, 'And when they heard the voice of the Lord of the Alhim walking in the garden' (Gen. iii-8), or, as it ought to be rendered, had walked (mithhalech). Note further that whilst Adam had not fallen, he was a recipient of divine wisdom (hochma) and heavenly light52a-52b and derived his continuous existence from the Tree of Life to which he had free access, but as soon as he allowed himself to be seduced and deluded with the desire of occult knowledge, he lost everything, heavenly light and life through the disjunction of his higher and lower self, and, the loss of that harmony that should always exist between them, in short, he then first knew what evil was and what it entailed, and, therefore, it is written, 'Thou art not a God that approveth wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee' (Is. v-5); or, in other words, he who implicitly and blindly follows the dictates of his lower nature or self shall not come near the Tree of Life.

"Whilst the protoplasts had not as yet lost their innocence and purity, they heard within themselves the voice divine, the voice out of the Great Silence. Guided and directed by divine wisdom, they walked and lived in the divine light and were not afraid. As soon, however, as they succumbed to temptation, they lapsed into a state of sin, of sorrow and shame and found that though the voice was still audible, they could not endure to hear it; and the sense of sin pervaded and prevailed throughout the

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world up to the time when Israel stood at the foot of Mount52b Sinai, purified from all defilement and thus able to become conjoined with the Tree of Life, and partook of its fruits, beholding the celestial glory. They ascended higher and higher in the divine life, and lived in the enjoyment of the Beatific Vision being filled with that interior peace and tranquillity known and experienced only by those who understand the mysteries of the higher and divine life. The Holy One protected them by impressing upon them his divine name, so that the spirit of evil was unable to exercise power and influence over them and thus corrupt them. Thus they lived, pure and protected, until they bowed down and worshipped the golden calf. Then fell they from their high estate and lost the divine protection which was as a cuirasse or coat of mail against the assaults of evil that now again acquired power over them and brought death unto their souls.

"After their fall, scripture informs us, 'and when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, his face shone radiant with light, and they were afraid to come nigh unto him (Ex. xxxiv-30). Before this, however, it is written, 'and Israel saw the mighty hand of the Lord'; that is, they were able by the purification of the lower nature and mental and spiritual illumination, to attain unto the Beatific Vision and view the splendor and glory of the life on high. And so it is further written, 'and the people saw the thunderings and lightnings, and the sound of the trumpet' (Ex. xx-13). All these glories, however, departed from them after their lapse into sin, so that they could not even endure to behold and regard the luminous face of their intercessor Moses, for, as it is said, 'they were afraid to come nigh into him.'

"Remark, now, what is further stated, 'and the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the Mount Horeb' (Ex. xxxiii-6), (Horeb here meaning Sinai). By which is signified, that Israel, after sinning, became divested of their safeguards, the ornaments of purity and integrity, and thus fell under the power of evil. So that, as is stated, 'Moses was compelled to take the tabernacle and set it up away without the camp and called it the Tabernacle of the Congregation' (Ex. xxxiii-7). For what reason?

Next: Chapter XXXI. A Further Symposium of Rabbi Simeon's Students