52. We have learned that it is written, "And Hashem descended in the cloud" (Shemot 34:5) and "I appear in the cloud upon the ark cover." We have learned that this is the place, NAMELY MALCHUT, where the Cherubs rested, WHO ARE METATRON AND SANDALPHON, as we learned. The Cherubs were in place by means of a miracle (Heb. nes), MEANING UPON MALCHUT THAT IS CALLED NES. We have learned that three times daily - THE SECRET MEANING OF THE THREE COLUMNS - a miracle (Heb. nes) occurred, MEANING THAT THE SHECHINAH REVEALED HERSELF in their wings. At the moment when the sanctity of the King revealed itself upon them, they raised their wings of their own accord, spread them, and covered over the ark cover. Afterwards, they closed their wings and held them against their bodies, as the verse says, "And the Cherubs shall stretch out their wings on high" (Shemot 25:20). The verse uses the term "stretch out," MEANING AT TIMES THEY WOULD SPREAD AND AT TIMES CLOSE. The verse does not read 'stretched out,' WHICH WOULD BE CORRECT WERE THEY PASSIVE; IN THE SAME WAY, 'overspreading' instead of 'were overspread.' This is WHAT THEY SAID, 'they were erect by means of a miracle and were rejoicing in the Shechinah.'
53. Rabbi Aba said: What does THE VERSE wish to say with the statement, "I appear in the cloud upon the ark cover," WHICH MEANS THE PRIEST SEES THE SHECHINAH? ALSO, in the verse, "Thus (with zot) shall Aaron come," WHICH IS THE SHECHINAH REFERRED TO AS ZOT. Behold, the priest did not see the Shechinah when he entered THE HOLY OF HOLIES. HE ANSWERS: The cloud, WHICH IS THE SHECHINAH, would come down. In coming down, it reached the covering of the ark, the wings of the Cherubs would stir and the Cherubs would strike with their wings and sing a song. FROM THIS, THE PRIEST WOULD REALIZE THAT THE SHECHINAH WAS NOW APPEARING. THIS IS WHAT IS MEANT BY, "I APPEAR IN THE CLOUD UPON THE ARK COVER."
56. Rabbi Yosi said, "And the people with equity (Heb. meisharim)" (Tehilim 98:9): What is meant by Meisharim? HE ANSWERS: As the verse says, "sincerely (Heb. meisharim) they love you" (Shir Hashirim 1:4). THE SHECHINAH includes BY THIS the two Cherubs, METATRON AND SANDALPHON, who are assuredly called "meisharim," and IT SAYS about this, "And the people with equity (Heb. meisharim)." BEFORE THIS, IT IS WRITTEN, "WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALL HE JUDGE THE WORLD" (Tehilim 98:9) AND "JUDGE" REFERS TO ZEIR ANPIN, WHILE "RIGHTEOUSNESS" DENOTES MALCHUT. LATER, THE VERSE INCLUDES ALSO THE CHERUBS AND THUS SAYS, "AND THE PEOPLE WITH EQUITY."
57. It is written, "Then he heard the voice speaking to him from off the covering that was upon the ark of Testimony, from between the two Cherubs: and it spoke to him" (Bemidbar 7:89). Rabbi Yitzchak said: From here, we learned that whenever there are not both male and female present, one is not worthy to behold the presence of the Shechinah. THEREFORE, HE HEARD THE VOICE SPEAKING ONLY FROM BETWEEN THE TWO CHERUBS. This is the intent of the verse, "The upright (Heb. yesharim) shall dwell in Your presence" (Tehilim 140:14), MEANING THE CHERUBS REFERRED TO AS MEISHARIM. We have learned that there is a verse, "Just and right is He" (Devarim 32:4), DENOTING male and female. "JUST" REFERS TO THE MALE, MEANING YESOD, AND "RIGHT" REFERS TO THE FEMALE, MEANING MALCHUT. Here also, the Cherubs are male and female, as it is written of them, "You have established equity (Heb. meisharim in the plural)" (Tehilim 99:4) AND ALSO "the people with equity (Heb. meisharim)," AS MENTIONED ABOVE. For this reason, "And their faces shall look one to another" (Shemot 25:20), THE SECRET OF FACE TO FACE UNION, as we have established.
63. Another explanation is that THE SHECHINAH SPOKE literally OF "my mother's children," REFERRING TO THE SFIROT OF ZEIR ANPIN, THE CHILDREN OF BINAH WHO IS THE MOTHER OF THE SHECHINAH, as the verse says, "And cast down from heaven (to) earth..." (Eichah 2:1). So when ZEIR ANPIN threw from heaven the earth, MEANING THE SHECHINAH, "they made me the keeper of the vineyards" (Shir Hashirim 1:6), REFERRING TO THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD. SHE HAS TO POUR ABUNDANCE TO THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD SO THAT YISRAEL WILL DRAW SUSTENANCE FROM THEM. What is the reason? BECAUSE "my own vineyard," NAMELY YISRAEL, "I have not kept" (Ibid.), BECAUSE THEY SINNED. We thus learn that "the children of my mother," NAMELY THE SFIROT OF ZEIR ANPIN, agreed against me, TO DISTANCE ME, meaning the earth was removed with this, REFERRING TO MALCHUT, from heaven, DENOTING ZEIR ANPIN. We established that it is written, "And his sister stood afar off" (Shemot 2:4). THE SHECHINAH, CALLED THE SISTER OF ZEIR ANPIN, STOOD FROM A DISTANCE, MEANING ZEIR ANPIN HAD CAUSED HER TO STAND AT A DISTANCE.
65. Another explanation for, "Behold, how good and how pleasant..." These are the friends, when they sit together and don't sit apart from one another. At first they appear as people at war with each other, wanting to kill one another. Afterwards, they return to each other in brotherly love. What does the Holy One, blessed be He, say ABOUT THEM? "Behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together (Heb. gam, Eng. 'also') in unity." The word gam comes to include the Shechinah. Moreover, the Holy One, blessed be He, pays attention to what they say, and has enjoyment and rejoices with them. This is the essence of the verse, "Then they who feared Hashem spoke to one another: and Hashem hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was it is written before Him..." (Malachi 3:16).
67. They went. As they were going, they reached the home of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair. Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair came out, kissed RABBI SHIMON, and said: I have earned the right to kiss the Shechinah. How fortunate is my lot. He set up for them expensive bed sheets. Rabbi Shimon said: The Torah does not require this. He removed THE SPREADS and they sat down. Rabbi Pinchas said: Before we eat, we will hear a discourse from the master of Torah, as all the words of Rabbi Shimon are open as a revelation. He is a man who need not be afraid from above or below of preaching them. He fears not what is above, as the Holy One, blessed be He, agrees with him. He is also not fearful of those below, just as a lion fears not the flock of sheep. Rabbi Shimon said to Rabbi Elazar, his son: Elazar, stand where you are and recite a novel Torah interpretation before Rabbi Pinchas and the other friends.
92. Rabbi Yosi said, "My dove, who is in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff" (Shir Hashirim 2:14). "My dove" refers to the Congregation of Yisrael, DENOTING MALCHUT. Just as a dove never forsakes her mate, so the Congregation of Yisrael never forsakes the Holy One, blessed be He. "In the clefts of the rock:" These are the Torah scholars that find no peace in this world, AND ARE HIDING, SO TO SPEAK, IN THE CRACKS OF THE ROCK FROM THEIR ENEMIES. "In the secret places of the cliff:" These are the modest scholars WHO CONCEAL THEIR LEVEL FROM PEOPLE. Among them are the pious who fear the Holy One, blessed be He, from whom the Shechinah never departs. Then, the Holy One, blessed be He, demands from the Congregation of Yisrael on behalf of the pious and says, "Let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice; for sweet is your voice" (Ibid.), for no voice is heard above except the voice of those who toil in the Torah.
107. Come and see that when Jacob wished his sons to be blessed in the name of the Faith, it is written, "All these are the twelve tribes of Yisrael: and this (Heb. zot fem.) IS THAT WHICH THEIR FATHER SPOKE TO THEM" (Beresheet 49:28). TWELVE AND ZOT are thirteen, since the Shechinah, CALLED ZOT, participated with them and the blessings were fulfilled. This is the meaning of the verse, "Every one according to his blessing he blessed them" (Ibid.). What is meant by "according to his blessing?" MEANING according to the resemblance to that which is above, THE THIRTEEN ATTRIBUTES OF MERCY, NAMELY according to the blessing of each attribute.
155. We have learned that all those toiling in Torah in the middle of the night join with the Shechinah. When the morning arrives and the Queen, NAMELY THE SHECHINAH, joins with the King, ZEIR ANPIN, they too are with the King, and the King spreads His wings over all of them. This is the meaning of, "Yet Hashem will command His steadfast love in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me" (Tehilim 42:9).
182. "And there shall be no man in the Tent of Meeting." Rabbi Yitzchak said, "Then will I remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant with Isaac..." (Vayikra 26:42). This verse has been explained. Come and see: When Yisrael are in exile, it is as if the Holy One, blessed be He, is with them in exile, as the Shechinah never forsakes them. When Yisrael were in exile in Babylon, the Shechinah resided among them and returned with them from exile. In the merits of these righteous people who remained in the land, She resided in the land and never left them. Rabbi Yehuda said: Then the Queen returned to the King and all returned TO BE IN the banquet of joy of the king. For this, they are called the men of the Great Assembly. The Great Assembly surely, AS MALCHUT CALLED ASSEMBLY RETURNED FROM ITS DIMINISHED STATUS DURING THE EXILE TO REGAIN HER PROMINENCE.
211. Ra'aya Meheimna (the Faithful Shepherd). The Faithful Shepherd, NAMELY THE SOUL OF MOSES, said, at that time, BEFORE THE COMING OF MESSIAH, the Mishnah scholars, sages of supernal wisdom, scholars of Kabbalah, scholars of the secrets in the Torah, will have a time of hardship, AS THEY HAVE NOTHING TO SUPPORT THEM. This is the meaning of, "As the hart (Heb. ayal) pants after the water brooks" (Tehilim 42:2) as they, NAMELY THE SAGES MENTIONED EARLIER, are springs of water of Torah flowing to the Shechinah, AS TORAH IS REFERRED TO AS WATER. Torah is the central pillar, MEANING ZEIR ANPIN, THE CENTRAL COLUMN. These springs of water, NAMELY THE SAGES MENTIONED EARLIER FROM WHICH COMES FORTH TORAH MEANING WATER, are in distress, in sadness and in poverty. These are the pains and distresses of the one who has given birth, namely the Shechinah, as it is written in regard to Her, "And let her who bore you rejoice" (Mishlei 23:25). She will be in those labor pains, MEANING with their distress OF THE SCHOLARS OF WISDOM AND TORAH, AS MENTIONED, AS THEIR AGONY IS CONSIDERED AS THE LABOR PAINS OF THE SHECHINAH.
275. Rabbi Elazar said: Regarding that which the friends have said, it is forbidden to exile a Torah scroll even to be taken from one synagogue to another and certainly into the street. If so, why DO WE TAKE IT OUT into the street? Rabbi Yehuda replied: So it will awaken them to seek mercy for the world. Rabbi Aba said that when the Shechinah went into exile, it also moved from place to place until She said, "Oh, that I were in the wilderness, in a lodging place of wayfaring men..." (Yirmeyah 9:1). Here too, at first the Torah is exiled from one synagogue to another and later into the street. Afterwards it is "in the wilderness, in a lodging place of wayfaring men." Rabbi Yehuda said: The Babylonians are reverent and do not pass the Torah scroll even from synagogue to synagogue and certainly not there, INTO THE STREET.
292. About all those who did not merit during their lifetime TO BE IN THE HOLY LAND and are brought there later to be buried, it is written, "And made My heritage an abomination" (Ibid.). His spirit expired under another, strange dominion and his body came under the dominion of the Holy Land, so he made, so to speak, the sacred profane and the profane sacred. Those who deserve that their souls expire in the Holy Land will have their sins forgiven and will merit to be bound under the wings of the Shechinah, as it is written, "And will forgive His land" (Devarim 32:43). Moreover, if he merits during his lifetime TO BE IN THE HOLY LAND, he will merit to have drawn upon him consistently the Holy Spirit. Those who dwell under another dominion, MEANING OUTSIDE THE HOLY LAND, will have drawn upon them a foreign spirit.
295. "You shall do My Judgments, and keep My ordinances, to walk in them..." (Vayikra 18:4). Rabbi Aba said: Fortunate is the lot of Yisrael that the Holy One, blessed be He, desires them above all the idolatrous nations. As a result of His love for them, He gave them truthful statutes, planted with them the Tree of Life, ZEIR ANPIN, and caused the Shechinah to dwell in their midst. What is the reason? It is because Yisrael are marked with the holy impression in their flesh and so are recognized as His and members of His temple.
339. Rabbi Shimon opened the discussion saying, "For Hashem your Elohim walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you..." (Devarim 23:15). "For Hashem your Elohim" refers to the Shechinah prevailing in Yisrael, all the more so in exile, to shield them always from all sides and from all other nations so that they cannot destroy Yisrael.
340. We have learned that the foes of Yisrael are not capable of harming them until Yisrael weaken the power of the Shechinah before the appointed ministers of other nations. Only then can the enemies of Yisrael overcome them, rule them and decree many harsh decrees regarding them. When Yisrael return towards Her WITH REPENTANCE, THE SHECHINAH smashes the power and strength of these appointed chiefs, breaks the power and strength of the enemies of Yisrael and takes revenge against them all.
342. We have learned that Yisrael are detained in exile for three things: For treating the Shechinah with contempt in exile; for turning away their face from the Shechinah, AS IT IS WRITTEN, "FOR THEY HAVE TURNED THEIR BACK TO ME, AND NOT THEIR FACE" (YIRMEYAH 2:27). Finally, for defiling themselves before the Shechinah, WITHOUT CONSIDERING THAT THE SHECHINAH IS WITH THEM IN EXILE. We explained them all in our Mishnah.
373. In the future, the Holy One, blessed be He, will return the Shechinah to Her position, as everything will find itself in one unity, as it is written, "On that day Hashem shall be one, and His name One" (Zecharyah 14:9). If you ask: So now, He is not one? No, as now the evildoers cause ZEIR ANPIN AND MALCHUT not to be as one, as the Queen distances herself from the King, and they do not find themselves joined. Supernal Ima, BEING BINAH, distances herself from the King and does not nourish Him.
383. Rabbi Chizkiyah said: All is according to the supernal secret to show that one who causes a defect below causes a defect above. "You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter in law" (Vayikra 18:15): We have learned that the marital visits of the scholars are on Shabbatot, as they know the secret of the matter. They will meditate with their hearts with a complete wish, and the offspring they produce are called children of the King. If these cause a flaw down below, it is as if they cause harm to the bride on high, NAMELY MALCHUT. Then we find written, "You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter in law (Heb. kalah, also: 'bride')." This EXPLANATION is for those who comprehend Torah ways. For the rest of the people, THE EXPLANATION IS the revealed one, MEANING literally your actual daughter-in-law, THE WIFE OF HIS SON. Because of this sin, the Shechinah departs from them, NAMELY, HE ALSO HINTS THAT THE BRIDE ON HIGH DEPARTS BECAUSE OF THIS DEFECT BELOW.
388. Seven complete weeks, MEANING SEVEN SFIROT OF MALCHUT THAT IS CALLED SHABBAT, WHEN THEY ARE COMPLETED, are expressed by seventy letters OF THE NAME OF AYIN-BET (72). THE MAIN BODY IS SEVENTY, AND TWO EXTRA ARE THE SECRET OF WITNESSES OR SCRIBES. HE EXPLAINS HIS WORDS: When the 72 ascended, they ascended by the letters Vav, DENOTING ZEIR ANPIN, IN ITS CHESED, GVURAH AND TIFERET, which are listed in the portion of Beshalach in the verses, "And the angel...removed...and it came... And Moses stretched out" (Shemot 14:19-21). When the Shechinah receives FROM ZEIR ANPIN and the seven impressions are stamped on Her BY HIM, NAMELY SEVEN COMPLETE SFIROT, THEN seventy imprinted letters OF THE NAME AYIN-BET rise from Her. We have learned that the letters OF THE NAME AYIN-BET ascended through certain marks and hidden ways KNOWN only to truly righteous men, pillars of the world.
397. We have learned it is written, "Also you shall not approach to a woman in the impurity of her menstrual flow, to uncover her nakedness" (Vayikra 18:19). Rabbi Yehuda taught, the generation in which Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai dwells are all meritorious, all pious, all sin fearing, the Shechinah dwelling in their midst. Not so in other generations. For this reason, these things are expounded and not concealed, IN HIS GENERATION. In other generations it is not so, and supernal secrets cannot be revealed. And those who do know them are afraid TO REVEAL. When Rabbi Shimon would relate the secret of this verse among all the friends, their eyes would flow with tears. All the words he said were being revealed before their very eyes, as the verse says, "With him I speak mouth to mouth, manifestly, and not in dark speeches" (Bemidbar 12:8).