476. Rabbi Yosi said, What is the meaning of the verse, "And they saw the Elohim of Yisrael..." (Shemot 24:10). HE ASKS, Who can possibly see the Holy One, blessed be He? Is it not written, "For no man shall see me, and live" (Shemot 33:20), yet here it says "and they saw" HE ANSWERS, Rather, the rainbow was revealed to them in illuminating colors, WHICH IS THE SHECHINAH THAT RECEIVES FROM THE THREE COLORS - WHITE, RED AND YELLOW. And so have we learned that whoever gazes upon the rainbow is as though he gazes upon the Shechinah. And it is prohibited to gaze upon the Shechinah.
477. Therefore, it is prohibited for a person to gaze upon the fingers of the priests when they stretch out their hands. It is prohibited to gaze upon the rainbow. HE ASKS, What rainbow? Rabbi Aba said, Any rainbow. He said to him, What is any rainbow? He said to him, BOTH the rainbow above AND ALSO the rainbow below.
478. HE EXPLAINS HIS WORDS, Upon the rainbow above, THAT IT IS PROHIBITED TO GAZE UPON, MEANS upon its colors, WHITE, RED AND GREEN, WHICH ARE THE SECRET OF THE THREE COLUMNS THAT ILLUMINATE IN THE SHECHINAH. For anyone who gazes UPON ITS COLORS is as though he gazes upon a high, supernal place. It is prohibited to gaze at it since this is a disgraceful manner towards the Shechinah. What is the rainbow of below? It is that sign of that Covenant that is imprinted in the person, for anyone who gazes upon it conducts himself disgracefully against the above.
479. Rabbi Yitzchak said, Yet, does it not say, "Put, I pray you, your hand under my thigh" (Beresheet 24:2), that he made him swear by this sign? He said to him, Leave alone the fathers of the world, for they are not like the other people of the world. Moreover it is written, "Put, I pray you, your hand under my thigh," but not, 'Look under my thigh.' Therefore, it is prohibited to gaze upon the rainbow in general, as we learned.
480. We learned, "And they saw the Elohim of Yisrael" (Shemot 24:10), as the rainbow was revealed to them in beautiful colors, illuminating, flashing on all sides, WHICH IS THE SHECHINAH. This is understood from the words, "the Elohim of Yisrael," instead of, 'And they saw Elohim of Yisrael,' AS THE SHECHINAH IS CALLED "ET ('THE')." Rabbi Yosi said, THIS IS the light of the luminary of the Shechinah. Who is it? It is the one called 'youth,' MEANING METATRON, who serves the Shechinah in the Temple. Therefore, "Et ('the')" is precise BECAUSE IT IS THE NAME OF THE SHECHINAH THAT INCLUDES METATRON, HER SERVANT.
481. "And there was under his feet a kind of paved work of sapphire stone" (Ibid.). A stone was marked there under His place, one of the stones that were used to build in Egypt. For we have learned that there was one woman who gave birth in Egypt. And the officers of Pharaoh came TO CAST HIM INTO THE RIVER, and she put him into THE PLACE OF a stone OF THE BUILDING. And the palm of a hand came and grasped it, and it was marked under the feet of the Shechinah. And it remained in his presence until the terrestrial Temple was burned down, as it is written, "And remembered not his footstool" (Eichah 2:1), THAT WAS THE SAPPHIRE STONE.
482. Rabbi Chiya said, The sapphire stone MEANS the transparent light of the sapphire, the keys of the spiced wine, the superb engravings of above that flash to 72 directions. This is what is meant by, "And lay your foundations with sapphires" (Yeshayah 54:11). "The very heaven" (Shemot 24:10). What is "the very heaven?" Rabbi Aba said, "the very heaven," WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN, is engraved with 72 branches blossoming to every direction, MEANING THE NAME OF AYIN-BET (72), THAT ILLUMINATES BOTH IN CHOCHMAH AND CHASSADIM. Here also, the appearance of that very heaven was exactly like the appearance of heaven itself, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN. Rabbi Yehuda said, It is all imprinted with that light of the vision that is engraved from the aspect of the Shechinah.
483. Rabbi Chizkiyah said, Behold, there are sixty that surround the Shechinah, as it is written, "sixty valiant men are round about it" (Shir Hashirim 3:7). He said to him, It is certainly so. But these sixty illuminated from the twelve boundaries THAT ARE IN ZEIR ANPIN, and were never removed from around THE SHECHINAH. For we have learned the twelve superbly engraved borders ascended balanced equally, in the great and strong tree. THEY ARE THE SECRET OF THE THREE COLUMNS THAT ILLUMINATE IN THE FOUR DIRECTIONS CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET AND MALCHUT, WHICH ADD UP TO TWELVE. And they illuminate the Queen, WHO IS THE SHECHINAH, when She joins with the King, WHO IS ZEIR ANPIN. "The very heaven" indeed, FOR SHE RECEIVES ALL THAT IS IN HEAVEN, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN. And all these lights and paths illuminate with the light of the Shechinah.
484. We have learned, the light of these sixty VALIANT MEN that surround THE SHECHINAH are imprinted in that particular youth, METATRON. We called them 'sixty lashes of fire' with which he was clothed from the aspect of the Shechinah, and they were blazing with Judgment. This is the meaning of, "sixty valiant men are round about it."