p. 377 93b
"I WOULD like," said the host, "each one of you to give forth, according as he is able, some new idea or thought relative to the secret doctrine."
Then spake one of the guests and said: "It is written, 'Praise ye the Lord, for the avenging (biproa peraoth) of Israel when the people willingly offered themselves' ( Jud. V. 2). Wherefore did Deborah and Barak begin this song with these words? We learn from tradition that the world stands and is established only on the divine covenant. As long as Israel continues to obey and conform to it by the rite of circumcision it will abide stable, but if it should, be which God forbid, that Israel neglect their duty and ignore the covenant, then the blessings accruing from the observance of it will cease coming into the world. Observe, no other nation or people will ever rule over Israel so long as it abides true and faithful to the covenant. What mean these words, 'Faithful to the covenant?' They indicate that when the command respecting the rite attached to the covenant is ignored, or in other words, when the worship of God is forsaken as was the case in the time of Deborah, as it is written, 'And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served Baalim and He delivered them into the hands of Sisera' (Jud. IV. 2); the meaning of these words is that they forsook God; that is, they neglected to perform the initiatory rite attached to the covenant which their forefathers, the patriarchs, had inaugurated and performed. When Deborah, however, appeared, she brought them to a sense of their infidelity towards God, so that they willingly and of their own accord (behithnadeb) returned to the observance of the law respecting the
[paragraph continues] 'persia' 1 and found that obedience brought them blessings, together with overthrow and defeat of their enemies. We also learn from tradition that the Holy One said unto Joshua, 'The children of Israel are impure, they have ceased obeying93b the law respecting 'persia' and so have not entered into the covenant, and thou wishest to lead them into the holy land and overthrow their enemies, go and circumcise the children of Israel again.' And not until they had conformed to this injunction were they able to enter the Promised Land and conquer their foes. The same thing occurred when Deborah appeared; and when by obedience they returned to the path of duty, victory attended their arms and blessings were again showered upon them and the world. This is why it is written, 'biproa peraoth' and by obeying the law respecting it willingly and of their own accord, they were able to say, 'barcou Iehovah,' praise for the renewal of his blessings."
Said another guest: "It is written, 'And it came to pass as Moses was journeying, the Lord met him in the inn and sought to kill him' (Ex. IV. 24). The question may here b asked, kill whom? Moses or his son. Moses most certainly, for the Holy One had said unto him: 'Thou art going to bring forth Israel out of Egypt and vanquish a great king and ruler, yet thou forgettest and neglectest to circumcise thy own son.' For this gross neglect on his part, he sought to kill him. Now we learn from tradition that the archangel Gabriel descended at this moment, enveloped in flaming fire to consume Moses and a serpent leaped out of it to destroy him. But why a serpent? The Holy One had said to Moses: 'Thou intendest to go and kill a mighty and powerful despot (pharaoh) and hast not circumcised thy son.' Then made he a sign to the serpent to kill him. At that moment Zepporah, his wife, appeared and, taking the boy, performed the rite at once, when the serpent let go his hold on Moses, as it is written, 'Then Zepporah took a sharp stone (tzour) and circumcised the son' (Ex. IV. 25). What does the word 'tzour' here denote? A remedy, an antidote, which was the rite of circumcision, to the performance of which she was impelled by an inner inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and thus saved the life of her husband."
Then spake another guest and said: "It is written, 'And Joseph said unto his brethren, come near me, I pray you' (Gen. XLV. 4); and they came near. Wherefore spake Joseph
thus, as his brethren were already near him? It was because when he said unto them, 'I am Joseph your brother' they became filled with amaze and astonishment, seeing him head ruler of Egypt. Then said Joseph: "This is the cause of my elevation to the high position I occupy," and manifested the sign of the covenant he bore upon him. From this we infer that success and prosperity in life accrue sooner or later to everyone who observes the rite of the covenant and keeps himself pure and chaste. We are confirmed in. this by the example of Boaz, concerning whom we read, 'As the Lord liveth, lie down until the morning' (Ruth III. 13). The tempter wished to lead Boaz into sin; but faithful and true to his oath, he resisted the temptation and thus kept pure the sign of the covenant. Therefore, he was honored in giving birth to those whose offspring became kings and rulers over all other kings, and also of becoming the ancestral progenitor of King Messiah who is called by the name of the Holy One.
Another guest spake and said: "It is written, 'Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear, though war should rise against me, in this (bezoth) will I be confident' (Ps. XXVII. 3). The word "bezoth" here denotes the sign of the covenant a man bears here below as on high, and this is why David said, 'In this will I be confident.' It is written, 'Zoth is the sign of the covenant' (Gen. IX. 12). 'Zoth is my covenant.' These zoths refer to one and the same sign of the divine life. We learn from tradition that ze, male, and zoth, female, are one and never separate. If it be said, then everyone, whether bearing the mark of the covenant or not, enjoys the blessings of it. Why should not everyone, as well as David, say the same words? But David was united with and enjoyed the presence of the Schekina, of which he was an image by virtue of the royal crown or diadem he wore. Observe, it was owing to his failure in preserving zoth in all its purity, that the kingdom was taken from him for a period, as tradition states. This zoth is impressed on the celestial kingdom as on Jerusalem the Holy City. When David by his sin in connection with Bathsheba transgressed against it, a voice from on high called unto him and said, 'Thou shalt reap the fruit of thy deeds. Thou shalt be ejected out of Jerusalem and the kingdom shall be taker from thee.' We learn this from the words of scripture, 'Behold,
[paragraph continues] I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house' (2 Sam. XII. II). Thus was David punished for breaking the covenant by his unchastity; and, as it was with him, so will it be with all others who likewise transgress against it."
Another guest spake and said: "It is written, 'Unless the Lord had been my help, my son would have dwelt in silence (duma)' (Ps. XCIV. 17). Through what are the children of Israel blessed that they descend not into Gehenna and come under the power of the angel Duma like other idolatrous nations' Because, as tradition informs us, when a man leaves the world, hosts of angels, the executors of justice, approach him, but on perceiving the sacred sign or token of the covenant he bears on him, they leave him and trouble not to deliver him unto the hands of Duma who sentences men to descend into Gehenna, the fate and doom of all those who are delivered into his power. The man who by chastity preserves himself pure, fears no judgment for he is united with the name of the Holy One. David failed to do this and in consequence lost his kingdom and was driven out of Jerusalem and feared greatly that the avenging angels would consign him into the hands of Duma, which would have meant for him eternal death (the annihilation of the soul through absolute separation from the higher self). This fear and terror abode with him until Nathan, the prophet,94a announced unto him the good news, 'The Lord hath taken away thy sin so thou shalt not die.'2 Sam. 12:13 Then was it that David said, 'If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would have dwelt in hell.'"
Another guest spake and said: "'If I shall find favor in the eves of the Lord, he will bring me again and make me to sec his sign (otho) and his tabernacle' (2 Sam. XV. 25). Who can see the Holy One? Tradition states that when judgment was decreed and passed upon David, he knew it was owing to his sin in violating the sign of the covenant, for punishment attends everyone who transgresses against it and observes not its obligatory duties, which, if not performed, no one is accounted just, if he keep not himself pure and chaste in deed and thought. Knowing this, David prayed, 'If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will answer me and make me to see his sign (otho) and tabernacle,' or as these words may be paraphrased, God grant me to see his holy token, for I tremble and fear because I have lost
mine. What is meant by 'the token of God?' It denotes the sovereignty of Israel and Jerusalem. Nov he who lives unchastely forfeits the mark or token of God, that is. the divine life in the soul."
Another guest spake and said: "It is written, 'And in my flesh shall I see my God, Eloha' (Job XIX. 26). What is meant by this expression, 'in my flesh'? Why said he not, rather, 'in myself'? If he really said 'in my flesh,' what did he mean? Job here alludes to the flesh which scriptures mentions, 'The holy flesh they have soiled' (yaabrou) (Jer. XI. 15), and also, 'My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant' (Gen. XVII. 13). We are taught whenever a man bears this token on him, he sees the Holy One himself, and when this occurs it is through the unification of the lower and higher selves, resulting in the Beatific Vision. If, however, he does not preserve purity of thought and act, scriptures states, this union ceases and becomes broken, and the soul or lower self perishes, going back and becoming resolved into its original elements out of which it has been prepared and built up, like as the material body returns to the dust out of which it has been formed; and therefore it is written, 'They lose the breath divine (minishmath Eloha).' The divine Schekina never separates from one who by his pure life and faithful obedience observed the good law, or covenant. If it be asked, when does the holy Spirit or divine life manifest itself in a man? it is when the union we have just mentioned is effected. It is the true, the divine, marriage when they twain become one flesh. From tradition we learn why the letters V and H are placed together in their alphabetical order. Vau being the symbol of the male and He that of the female principle, which are united and operate in combination with each other, as husband and wife, and from one becoming invested with a nimbus or covering of divine light that emanates from the male principle and known in scripture as grace (chesed), as it is written, 'The goodness (chesed) of God endureth continually' (Ps. LII. 1). This ray of divine light comes through the Sephira "supreme Wisdom" and penetrates the male principle, which is communicated to the female. Another tradition states that the name Aloha is separable into, al, V and H, al designating the light of wisdom, V the male principle and H the female principle, and their totality form Aloha.
[paragraph continues] The holy soul or higher self, as it has been stated, is in intimate relationship with the nephesh or soul only so long as it keep itself pure and preserve intact the holy covenant, and therefore it is written, 'In my flesh shall I see God' (Aloha) (Job XIX. 26). A pure life, a pure soul, are reciprocal and convertible terms and never separated. Happy the lot of those who, attached to the Holy One, live the divine life, both in this world and the world to come. Of them it is written, 'Ye who have become joined unto the Lord your God are alive everyone of you this day' (Deuter. IV. 2). For theirs is the one true and divine life that they live."
After the guest had ceased speaking, Rabbi Abba addressed them thus: "How is it," said he, "that so mentally and spiritually enlightened, you are content to reside and live in such an obscure place, and are so versed in the teachings of the secret doctrine?"
They answered and said: "When the young birds leave their nests they know not whither to go, as it is written, 'As a bird wandereth from its nest so is a man that wandereth from his place' (Prov. XXVII. 9). Now this place is our nest and is suitably adapted for study of the secret doctrine. During the first part of the night we sleep. The other part we devote to study. When daybreak begins, the refreshing morning breezes and the light of the sun so invigorates us that we apply ourselves with renewed energy to meditation, and readily assimilate, digest and understand the teachings that come into our minds. A great calamity once happened in this place and a great many of illustrious and learned teachers perished, and which they might have escaped but for their neglect in the study of the secret doctrine. Made wise from their example and fate, we study assiduously by day and night, preferring to remain here because its situation is highly favorable and helpful to a student of life. He who leaves it would be as foolish as he who takes away his own life."
On hearing these words, Rabbi Abba raised his hands and blessed them. They were all sitting together and when day began to dawn, it was said to the young people who were there, "Go out and see if it is daybreak, and if it be so, then let each one address something to our excellent and esteemed guest, Rabbi Abba, and some remarks on the secret doctrine."
378:1 פרהסיא, from פרס, to declare openly--JBH.