Sacred Texts  Judaism  Index  Previous  Next 


Said Rabbi Jose: "Whilst the king sitteth at his table (bimsibo) my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof" (Cant. i., 12). This verse has already been explained, but there is yet another interpretation worth noting. Whenever a man walks with and cleaves unto the Alhim as did Henoch, the Holy One, foreseeing his liability to decline in goodness and uprightness,

p. 240

arranges to take him out of the world whilst the perfume of his good deeds endures. This was the case with Henoch. The words, 'Whilst the king,' refer to the Holy One; 'at his table,' allude to the man who walks and cleaves unto him; whilst the words 'my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof, denote the good deeds for which he is taken out of the world and thus escapes and avoids falling into sin. And this is why King Solomon said: 'There are just and upright men who suffer affliction as if they had committed evil deeds and are taken away.' There are also unjust men who live to a good age granted unto them by the Holy One,56b-57a that they may repent and turn unto him. Henoch was just and walked with the Alhim and he was not, and Alhim took him, for God foresaw that he would ultimately become a transgressor of the law and that this might not be; he was taken from the world before his appointed time. By the words, 'he was not,' is meant that he died whilst he was comparatively young."

Said Rabbi Eleazar: "The Holy One took Henoch away from the evil of the world, into the celestial regions on high, and imparted unto him the secret knowledge of the highest mysteries and of the forty-nine keys necessary for understanding the various combinations of the sacred letters, and which the angels themselves make use of. It is written, 'And God saw that the wickedness of men upon the earth was great and all the imaginations and thoughts of their hearts were only evil continually.' (Gen. vi., 5.)

Said Rabbi Jehuda: "'Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee' (Ps. v., 5). Observe that he who gives way to the temper and suffers himself to be led and guided by it, defiles not only himself but also those with whom he comes into personal contact. As already stated, though the wickedness of the antediluvians was great and their evil deeds were many, yet was the Holy One unwilling to destroy them, but long-suffering towards them, notwithstanding, and their shameful propensities and heinous practices, of which it is written 'that they were only evil continually.' Their evil actions are denoted by the word (Ra) (pollution). Of Er, the eldest son of Judah, who was guilty of this sin; it is written that 'he was wicked in the sight of the Lord and the Lord slew him.'" (Gen. xxxviii., 7.)

Said Rabbi Jose: "Is not this sin synonymous with what is termed rashang (wickedness or wrongdoing)?"

p. 241

"No," replied Rabbi Jehuda, "for rashang is applied to intentional57a evil ere it becomes an actuality, but Ra refers to him who defiles himself by the dissipation of his vital powers and thus gives himself up to the unclean spirit called Ra. He who thus renders himself impure will never attain unto the Divine Life nor behold the face of the Shekina, whose disappearance from the world previous to the deluge was owing to the vice termed Ra. Woe unto him who indulges in it, for he will never experience the joy of living in the presence of the Holy One, but will drag on through life as a degraded captive and miserable slave of Ra, the unclean spirit; so true are the words, 'The fear of the Lord leadeth to life, it bringeth peaceful nights free from visits of the impure spirit Ra' (Prov. xix., 23). And therefore it is written, 'Evil (Ra) shall not dwell with thee' (Ps. v., 4). Only the pure in life and thought and deed can say, 'Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid of Ra, for thou art with me and causest me to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.'" (Ps. xxiii., 4-6.)

Next: Chapter XXXVIII. The Divine Compassion