Sacred Texts  Judaism  Index  Previous  Next 


Said Rabbi Jehuda: "During the night that Jacob slept at Bethel, there was a marvelous replication of the earth's surface so that the foundation stone under the sanctuary in Jerusalem occupied the place where Jacob was, in order that he might rest his head upon it. This explains how it was that the stone was under him. Ah! replied the merchant, but scripture explicitly states that Jacob took the stone that he put for his pillow and set it up for a pillar and said, 'This stone which I have72a set up for a pillar shall be Bethel.' There is here nothing to warrant your assertion that it was the foundation stone on which the world and the Holy of Holies are based.

Then said Rabbi Jehuda, "If you can give any other explanation of the words, I pray you to give it."

Said the merchant, "It is written, 'As for me I will behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness' (Ps. XVII. 15). All the love and desire of David was concentrated on this foundation stone, which is justice or righteousness, and speaks of it as 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the headstone of the corner' (Ps. CXVIII. 22).

p. 292

[paragraph continues] When David desired to contemplate and behold the glory72a-72b of his Lord, he first took this stone and possessed himself of it, after which he was able and qualified to enter into the sanctuary; for everyone who earnestly desires to come into the presence of his Lord, it is impossible to do so unless he possesses this stone, as it is written, 'with this (bezoth) shall Aaron come into the holy place' (Lev. XVI. 3). David was therefore congratulating himself when he said, 'As for me, I will behold thy face with justice,' of which the foundation stone was a symbol, and which he so ardently desired to possess. Observe, Abraham instituted the morning prayer and made known the goodness and benignity of his Lord, so that the matutinal hour became regarded as most suitable for addressing vows to the Divine Being, and it is written, 'And Abraham rose up early in the morning' (Gen. XXII. 3). Evening prayer, 'minhah,' was established by Isaac who taught the world that justice exists, and also that there is a judge by whom it is administered. Jacob originated nightly prayer, that had never been uttered and addressed to heaven by anyone anterior to him, and therefore in a moment of self-commendation said, 'This stone which I have set up as a pillar.' What is the real signification of this word pillar (matzebah)? It refers to the foundation stone of the universe, namely, justice that had been thrown down by the wickedness of mankind. It was Jacob who raised it again and his pouring of oil on the top of it denotes that he, more than any other, contributed in re-erecting it and causing its existence to become regarded as a reality.

Rabbi Jehuda, as the merchant ceased speaking, rose and embracing him said: 'How is it, that possessed of such knowledge of the secret doctrine, thou art engaged in worldly pursuits to the neglect of things appertaining to the higher and diviner life?"

Said the merchant: "It is through necessity. I have two sons attending school for whose maintenance and education I have to provide in order that they may become inculcated in the secret and hidden wisdom." Again the merchant spake and said: "We read, 'and Solomon sat upon the throne of David his father and his kingdom was established greatly' (I. Kings II. 12). How great the encomium of Solomon as expressed in these words, implying that he set up the foundation stone (shethiya) on which he erected the sanctuary in Jerusalem and thereby established his kingdom greatly, as it is stated. We read, 'And the bow shall be in the cloud and I will look upon it, that I may

p. 293

remember the everlasting covenant' (Gen. IX. 16), from which we gather that the bow gives rise to feelings of delight to the Holy One. No man in whom the divine light is not reflected, can ever enter into the presence of his Lord. The words 'And I will look upon it' (urithiha) have the same occult meaning as, 'The Lord said unto him, go through the midst of the city,72b through the midst of Jerusalem and mark the letter Th (thau) upon the foreheads of the men who sigh,' (Ez. IX. 3) from which we learn that God looks upon the face of every man to observe if this than is impressed thereon and if so he remembers the everlasting covenant. Another exposition of these words is, that they refer to the holy sign impressed on the human form.

Said Rabbi Jehuda: "All you have said, is quite correct. The origin of the bow visible in the heavens involves a profound mystery. When Israel returns out of captivity, the bow that then will be visible, will be as radiant and beautiful as a bride, adorned for her husband on her marriage day."

"Listen," said the merchant, "to the words of my father, addressed to me just before his death, 'Never expect to behold the banner of Messiah until the bow appears in the heavens, flashing forth rays and colors of light so transcendently glorious and splendid, that the sheen of it will lighten up the whole world. When this happens then look for Messiah. We learn this from the esoteric meaning of the words, 'I will look upon the bowGen 9:16 and remember the everlasting covenant.' At present it appears in colors, faint and lustreless and only as an object to remind us that the Holy One will never again destroy mankind by a deluge of waters. When however the advent of Messiah occurs, it will appear radiant in all its beauty and splendor and God will then remember Israel and raise them out of the dust, as it is written, 'And they shall serve the Lord and David, their king, whom I will raise up unto them.' (Jer. XXX. 9), 'And in that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen' (Amos IX. 11), that is, in the day that the resplendent bow appears in the heavens, God will look upon it and remember his covenant, so that David, becoming reincarnated, shall appear again and reign in Israel.' This is what my father declared and his belief is confirmed by the words, 'For as in the days of Noah, so have I done unto thee and as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should go no more over the earth, so have I sworn that I will not be wroth with thee nor reproach thee.'" (Is. LIV. 8).

Next: Chapter LX. Rabbi Simeon on Mysteries and the Higher Life