93. "And it came to pass, that at midnight Hashem smote all the firstborn..." (Shemot 12:29) Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yosi were traveling from Usha to Lod and Rabbi Chiya was riding on a donkey. Rabbi Yosi said, Let us rest here and pray, for the time for Minchah ('the afternoon service') has come. And we have learned that one should always be punctual about the Minchah service. Why DOES HE HAVE TO BE punctual? Because it is the time when Judgment is impending over the world, and one must concentrate his mind. Rabbi Chiya got down FROM THE DONKEY and prayed.
94. While they were still traveling, the sun was setting. Rabbi Chiya said to Rabbi Yosi: Why are you silent? Rabbi Yosi said, I was contemplating that the world exists only because of the leaders of the people. If the leaders of the people are righteous, it is good for the world and good for the people. If they are not righteous, woe to the world, woe to the people.
95. Rabbi Chiya said, It is certainly so. How do we know? Because it is written, "I saw all Yisrael scattered upon the mountains, like sheep that have no shepherd; and Hashem said, 'These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace'" (II Divrei Hayamim 18:16). HE ASKS, It says "Yashuvu" ('let them return') when it should say 'Yeshvu' ('let them sit'), and similarly, "to his house" should say 'in his house.' For THE PEOPLE were in their abode, AND WHERE WERE THEY TO RETURN?
96. HE ANSWERS, But this is what we learned. If the leader of the people is not worthy IN HIS DEEDS, the people is caught in his sin. Whence do we know - from the words, "And David spoke...Lo, I have sinned, and I have done perversely; but these sheep, what have they done?" (II Shmuel 24:17). So David sinned and Yisrael suffered. If the chief of the people is caught in his sin, then the people is spared, as Judgment no longer dwells upon them, as the passage says, "And Hashem said, 'These have no master,'" meaning there are no leaders for the people, BECAUSE AHAB WAS SLAIN. THEREFORE, "let them return therefore every man to his house in peace" from the path, AND EVEN THOUGH JUDGMENT HAS RIDDEN ON THEM IN THIS PATH, SINCE THEIR LEADER WAS SLAIN AND CAUGHT IN HIS SIN, THEY WILL RETURN IN PEACE. They are all saved if their leader is caught. It was decreed that, because he joined with Ahab, even Yehoshafat would have been punished, were it not for his crying, as it is written, "And Yehoshafat cried out" (I Melachim 22:32).
97. While they were still traveling, it became dark. They said, What shall we do? If continue traveling, it is ALREADY dark and, if we stay IN OUR PLACE, it is frightening. They turned off from the road and sat under a tree. They rested and discussed Torah there, and did not sleep.
98. At midnight they saw a doe passing before them, shouting and crying out loud. When they heard it, Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yosi got up and trembled. They heard a voice announcing and saying: Those who are awake rise, those who sleep awake. Worlds, prepare for Your Master. For your Master is going out to the Garden of Eden, which is His palace, NAMELY MALCHUT, to delight with the Righteous, as it is written, "And in His temple everyone speaks of His glory" (Tehilim 29:9).
99. Rabbi Chiya said, Now it is exactly midnight, and this voice THAT WE HEARD is the voice that emerges and causes pain to the doe above, WHICH IS MALCHUT, and below, as it is written, "The voice of Hashem makes the hinds to calve" (Ibid.). Fortunate are we to hear this.
100. Come and behold the secret of the matter. At the time that the Holy One, blessed be He, is revealed over the Garden, the whole Garden gathers, NAMELY ALL THE RIGHTEOUS IN THE GARDEN, but does not separate from Eden, WHICH IS CHOCHMAH. Springs emerge from this Eden, NAMELY THE ILLUMINATION OF CHOCHMAH, to many ways and paths, FOR THE CONCEPTION OF THE RIGHTEOUS. This Garden is called 'The Bundle of Life,' where the Righteous derive pleasure from the illumination of the World to Come. And at that time, the Holy One, blessed be He, reveals Himself to them.
101. Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yosi sat down. Rabbi Yosi said, Many a time I asked about the words, "And it came to pass, that at midnight Hashem smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt..." Why did this not happen by day so the miracle would be visible to all? And why did all these weaklings behind the millstones and the lambs of the sheep die? And why did not only kings, princes and soldiers die, as it was by the episode of Sancheriv, of which it is written, "the Angel of Hashem went out and smote in the camp of Ashur..." (II Melachim 19:35). We learned that they were all kings, princes, ministers and officers, and the might of a single messenger of the Holy One, blessed be He, was seen there even greater THAN THIS MIRACLE THAT WAS DONE BY HIS OWN HAND. IT SEEMS THAT His miracle should have been even more GREAT.
102. He said to him, You asked well, and I have heard nothing about this. So I have nothing to say. But since we were worthy of all this, and the way was set before us, let us go to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai as I have heard he is cleansing the market places of the city of Tiberias. They stayed until daybreak. When it became light, they got up and went. When they reached him, they found him sitting with a book of homiletics in his hand.