94. Rabbi Chiya said, "That which is, already has been; and that which is to be has already been..." (Kohelet 3:15). "That which is, already has been." We have learned that before the Holy One, blessed be He, created this world, He created worlds and destroyed them - THIS IS THE SECRET OF THE BREAKING OF THE VESSELS - until it entered the will of the Holy One, blessed be He, to create this world. First, He took counsel with the Torah, THE SECRET OF THE CENTRAL COLUMN, then He put on His adornments and was crowned with His crowns and created this world. All that is found in this world was there before Him, AT THE TIME OF CREATION, and was prepared before Him.
95. We have learned that all leaders of every generation were present before the Holy One, blessed be He, in their forms before they came to the world. Furthermore, before they came into the world, all human souls were carved before Him in the heavens with the same forms literally as they are in this world. All that these souls learn in this world, they already knew before coming to this world. We have learned that all this holds true with the people of true piety.
96. All of these that are not found to be just in this world, even there ABOVE BEFORE COMING TO THE WORLD, distance themselves from the presence of the Holy One, blessed be He. They enter the chasm of the great abyss and hurry to descend to this world. And we learned that their souls are stiff necked in this world, as they were before coming to this world. They throw away the saintly part that THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE, gave to them FROM THE SIDE OF HOLINESS and go wander about and become impure in that chasm of the great abyss. They take their share there, precipitate the hour and descend to earth. If a man later gains merit and repents before his Master, he will receive back his own portion, NAMELY, THE HOLY PORTION THAT HE THREW UPWARD, AS MENTIONED. This is the meaning of the verse, "That which is, already has been; and that which is to be has already been..."
97. Come and see that the sons of Aaron had no equal in Yisrael, except for Moses and Aaron. They were called "the nobles of the children of Yisrael" (Shemot 24:11) and they died because they erred before the Holy King. HE QUESTIONS: Did the Holy One, blessed be He, wish that they should perish? Did we not learn in the secret of the Mishnah that the Holy One, blessed be He, does kindness with everyone, and even evildoers He does not wish to cause to perish. But these most saintly ones, NADAB AND ABIHU, will it enter your mind that they should perish from the world? Where were their merits, the merits of their ancestors and also the merit of Moses? How could they have perished?
98. HE ANSWERS: We have learned from the holy luminary that the Holy One, blessed be He, concerned Himself with their honor, so inwardly their bodies were tinged with fire, but their soul was not lost, as we have already established. Come and see that even before the deaths of Aaron's sons, it is written, "And Elazar, Aaron's son took of the daughters of Putiel to wife; AND SHE BORE HIM PINCHAS" (Shemot 6:25). He was called Pinchas because he was destined to straighten that which is crooked, MEANING TO CORRECT THE DAMAGE OF NADAB AND ABIHU, AS EXPLAINED EARLIER, EVEN THOUGH NADAB AND ABIHU HAD NOT YET DIED. This is the essence of the verse, "And that which is to be has already been."
99. We have learned that before coming to the world, all the true pious people were prepared above and were given names. From the day that the Holy One, blessed be He, created the world, even Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was prepared and came before the Holy One, blessed be He. The Holy One, blessed be He, called him by his name. How fortunate is his lot above and below. About him, is addressed the verse, "Let your father and your mother be glad" (Mishlei 23:25). "Your father" is the Holy One, blessed be He, and "your Mother" is the Congregation of Yisrael.