RABBI ELEAZAR and Rabbi Abba differed widely in their opinions on this subject.52b Rabbi Eleazar maintained that the tabernacle of the congregation (moed) was so called because it was a source of blessing to the children of Israel; that as the day of the new moon is called a feast day symbolizing the decrease of impurity and the increase of purity, so it betokened that the serpent or evil principle had now no power to corrupt and pollute. Rabbi Abba, on the contrary, asserted that it was an indication of evil. At first the sanctuary was simply called the tabernacle, as it is written, "Thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down, not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed (Is. xxxiii-20). From which words we gather that the tabernacle was intended to remain and abide always a source of eternal life to mankind by abolishing death on the soul (or lower nature). But after Israel had sinned, this tabernacle was termed moed, a word denoting a certain or fixed time, as it is written, "I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house (moed) appointed for all living" (Job xxx-23). From that time the tabernacle ceased to be the source of eternal or divine life. Temporal life and blessings were all it could impart. At first it was like the full moon, but after Israel sinned it became like the moon in its fall and therefore from that time was termed by Moses, tabernacle of moed, that is, a temporary erection.
Rabbi Simeon was silently meditating throughout the whole night on the secret doctrine, and Rabbi Jehuda, Rabbi Isaac and Rabbi Jose were seated near him.
Said Rabbi Jehuda: "It is written, 'And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb' (Ex. xxxiii-6). Tradition states that Israel after sinning became subject to death and to the power of the evil serpent. How came it then that Joshua died, who had not sinned with Israel, being at the time with Moses on Mount Sinai. Why, therefore was he not exempt from dying?"
Said Rabbi Simeon in reply: "It is written, 'The Lord is just and He loveth righteousness, His countenance doth behold the upright' (Ps. xi-7). These words have already been explained, but there is yet another and more significant exposition of their meaning. Through his justice the Holy One is called just and, knowing that his law is just, mankind directs its way in accordance therewith. Note that the holy One judges every man only according to his deeds. When Adam transgressed by taking of the tree of good and evil, he caused death to appear in the world. His disobedience resulted also in separation from his wife, and the light of the moon became diminished (or, his intellect became darkened). When, however, Israel stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, this defection of the moon's light ceased it shone again in all its former power and brilliance. After sinning by the worship of the golden calf, the moon again lost its light and the evil serpent regained its influence and power in the world. Perceiving that Israel had fallen and lost that purity and innocence that were its protection from the power of the evil one, and that sin would again prevail in the world as in the ease with Adam after his fall, Moses became eager to transfer the tabernacle from amongst the children of Israel and set it up outside and away from the camp. Now if the sin of Adam caused death to enter the world so that no man can escape it, this also was the case with the fall of Israel. Death appeared a second time; so that Joshua though himself pure and unspotted from sin, had along with the rest to succumb to it. With respect to Moses, his death was not due to the sin of Adam but was brought about through the operation of a mysterious power. Tradition confirms this statement which is corroborated by scripture,52b-53a 'but a young man, son of Nun, who served him, departed not out of the tabernacle' (Ex. xxxiii-11); the explicit signification of which is, that Joshua, though he did not escape physical death, enjoyed that union of the higher and lower natures that enabled him to live the higher and divine life, which
the children of Israel through their idolatry and worship of the golden calf had lost and forfeited. Observe also that when Adam fell he lost the protection of the letters of the divine name that the Holy One had impressed upon him, and therewith also the spiritual and divine light in which he had lived, and recognizing this he was overwhelmed with fear and terror, for he perceived himself naked and despoiled of the heavenly glory and bliss he had formerly enjoyed and that he had brought by his disobedience, death, not only upon himself but also upon his posterity throughout all ages. It is written, 'And they sewed fig leaves together and made of them coverings' (Gen. iii. 7). These words have already been discoursed on; what they really signify is that Adam and Eve became attached and subject to the influence of worldly pleasures and sought through them the happiness they had lost, as before stated. By this material or physical enjoyment the stature of Adam became diminished a hundred cubits and caused a division between the world above and the world below.53a-53b
"It is further written, 'And He drove out the man' (Gen. iii. 24). Said Rabbi Eleazer. We do not know who drove him out, nor who it was that was driven out, whether the Holy One or not. The words are 'vaigaresh ath' (and he drove out ath). Who was this He? The scripture says 'ha-adam' (the man). After sinning it was Adam who drove out here below who is here called 'ath.' Therefore Scripture first informs us the Lord God drove Adam from out of the garden of Eden, as he had already driven away the 'ath' (the Holy Spirit or Higher Self) when Eden became closed to him, and the path leading to it obliterated or hidden. Scripture, moreover, states, 'and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden, Cherubim and a flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life.' These words allude to angels appointed to chastise the sins and transgressions of man. Numberless are the various forms under which they appear. At times they take on them the male or female human form. Again their aspect is similar to flaming fire, and at other times it is impossible to define or describe their manifestations. Their duty and office is to keep the way of the tree of life and prevent man from acquiring and adding to that occult knowledge which has brought him or resulted in so great misery and misfortune. By a flaming sword is denoted those angels who are charged with casting fire upon the heads
of the wicked and wrongdoers. They differ in form and power according to the deeds of those upon whom they inflict penalties for their violation of the great law of right and justice; therefore they are termed in Scripture 'lahat' (the flaming sword), as it is also written, 'For there shall come a day that shall burn as an oven all the proud, and all that do wickedly shall then be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn (lihat) them up' (Mal. iv. 1). The word sword also denotes the divine sword or sword of the Lord, as it is written. 'The sword of the Lord is filled with blood'" (Is. xxxiv. 6).
Said Rabbi Jehuda: "The flaming sword denotes all those angels or elementals who tempt and corrupt men through their thoughts, desires and affections so that they fall into sin and forsake the path of righteousness. It is notable that as soon as anyone sins he falls under the power and influence of the evil spirit or elemental that has succeeded in seducing him, and becomes filled with fear and terror and horrid despair, and thus unable to resist and overcome. Solomon was endowed with much wisdom and had acquired a vast amount of occult knowledge, and the Holy One had exalted him to be a king amongst men and to be regarded with awe and reverence by everyone. On his giving way and becoming the slave of desire, he fell under the power of these evil spirits who divested and disrobed him of all his intellectual gifts and endowments, so that he feared and trembled before them and thus became an illustrative example of the misery and unhappiness of those who swerve from the right path by giving way to tempting desires and animal or carnal propensities and inclinations. Through his affections and desires, his passions and emotions, man incurs the greatest danger to himself; only by acquiring power of self-restraint and self-control is he able to achieve self-conquest and thus overcome and successfully resist the power and influence of the tempter, or regulate the currents within himself of the astral fluid or life principle 'coloro che sanno' which by occultists is termed the great serpent. At the moment of death the body becomes by this evil serpent defiled and corruption begins, also they who touch it, as the Scripture saith, 'Whosoever toucheth the dead body of a man, and purifieth not himself by washing of water, defileth the tabernacle of the Lord and that soul shall be cut off from Israel.' (Num. xix. I3.). Observe that every one that retires to sleep upon his
bed at night experiences more or less a foretaste of death whilst he sleeps, and night overshadows the world. It is then that the evil spirit is present to defile and corrupt,53b-54a and therefore on rising, the hands should first of all be washed before touching anything lest it becomes defiled likewise. The greatest care should therefore be exercised at all times in order to avoid and escape from the serpent's impurities. By so doing he will nullify the ill effects accruing therefrom and render himself proof against them. This liability of defilement will not however endure forever, as the day will dawn when the Holy One will cleanse and banish it out of the world, as it is written, 'And I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.' (Zach. xiii. 2), and, 'he shall swallow up death forever.'" (Is. xxv. 8).
"'And Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived and bare Cain' (Gen. iv. 1) said Rabbi Abba, 'It is written, "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward and the spirit of a beast that goeth downward to the earth."' (Eccles. iii. 21). As the teachings of the secret doctrine, so these words that have already been dwelt on, have many different meanings, amounting in all to seventy, and all equally good and of great interest and profit to those who are able to grasp and understand them. Observe that when a man walks in the path of truth and light, a pure and holy spirit from on high becomes his interior guide (his Higher Self) educates and makes him receptive of the divine life and its purity, from which he never afterwards is separated. When, however, anyone walks in the way of evil and wrongdoing, he draws to himself those elemental spirits who originate from the left side of the sephirotic tree of life and whose delight is in making him as impure as themselves. Therefore it is written, 'Ye shall not make your souls unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.' (Lev. xi. 43). Observe also that the son of him who is guided by the Holy Spirit in him does it likewise dwell as a friend and guide from his birth to the end of his life, as it is written, 'Be ye holy as I am holy' (Lev. vi. 7). He who is evil and delights in wrongdoing engenders children like unto himself and the end of them will be the same as his own. This is then the meaning of the words, 'Who knoweth the spirit of man who goeth upward and the spirit of a beast that goeth downward.' The Divine who (mi) alone knoweth the souls who incarnate, whether in pure or impure bodies, and therefore whether they will ascend or descend. Adam in himself having become impure before conjugal union with Eve
his offspring was therefore impure, but Abel begotten in a state of purity after repentance was consequently pure.54a Thus we learn why the two brothers, Cain and Abel, were so dissimilar in nature and character."
Said Rabbi Eleazar: "The probable cause of their great dissimilarity of nature arose from coitions of the being termed the serpent, and Adam with Eve who thus brought forth two sons, one of which, Cain, was from an impure, the other, Abel, from a pure progenitor; hence the difference in their lives and actions. As Cain was the issue from the death angel, he killed his brother who issued from the right side of the tree of life. And through him has come all the evil generations of demons and elementals now in the world."
Said Rabbi Jose: "The name of Cain is derived from 'qina' (a nest), showing that he was the nest or origin whence came forth the evil beings before and after making his offering unto the Lord, as it is written, 'And in process of time, it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruits of the ground an offering unto the Lord.'" (Gen. iv. 3).
Said Rabbi Simeon: "What mean the words, 'in process of time' (miqetz yamim)? They denote the being who is termed 'the end of all flesh' or the angel of death to whom it was that Cain brought his offerings, and therefore it is written miqetz yamim, instead of miqetz yemin, signifying the right side. Then also is it written in the book of Daniel, 'But go thou thy way till the end, for thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot in the end of the days.' (Ch. xii. 13). On Daniel hearing the words, 'till the end,' he asked whether they were qetz ha-yamin or qetz-yemin, and the heavenly voice answered: it is 'qetz yemin.' But Cain coming therefore from the qetz yamim, to it he brought offerings and sacrifice, product of that knowledge of the tree of good and evil which had brought so great ruin and misery to his parents."