14. Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yosi met one night in a tower in Tyre and lodged there. They rejoiced in each other. Rabbi Yosi said, how glad I am to have seen the face of the Shechinah, for the whole way I was annoyed by a certain old merchant, who questioned me throughout the voyage.
15. HE ASKED ME who is the serpent that soared in the air and goes on in separation so that in the meantime there is rest to a certain ant that lies in its jaws. It starts connected and ends up divided. And what is an eagle that nests in a tree that does not exist; its stolen young are not creatures, because there were created where they were not created. When they go up they go down and when they go down they go up; two that are one and one that is three. What is a beautiful eyeless maiden, whose body is hidden yet revealed, who goes out during the morning and covers herself during the day, and adorns herself with nonexistent adornment.
16. He asks me all that along the way and I was annoyed. Now I have rest. Had we been together, we would have delved into the words of the Torah, instead of my dealing with other vain things. Rabbi Chiya said, do you know that old merchant? He said to him, I know that his words are senseless, for had he known he would have expounded with the Torah and the way would not have been spent aimlessly. Rabbi Chiya said, the merchant is here. Sometimes one may find golden bells, THAT IS, GOLDEN TONGUES in vain people. He said to him, he is here and gives his donkey fodder.
17. They called for him and he came before them. He said to them, now two are three, BECAUSE AFTER JOINING THEM THERE ARE THREE; and three are as one, AS THEY JOINED TOGETHER. Rabbi Yosi said, did I not tell you that his words are senseless and empty? He sat before them.
18. He said to them, gentlemen, I have become a merchant but a while ago. At first I was not a merchant but I had a young child, whom I placed in school and wanted him to study Torah. THEREFORE I BECAME A MERCHANT SO I COULD SUPPORT HIM. When I find one of the sages traveling, I lead my donkeys after him. Today I have thought I would hear new expositions of the Torah, but have heard nothing.
19. Rabbi Yosi said, in all your words, I wondered about one only. Either you spoke in jest or these words are worthless. The old man asked, what is that? RABBI YOSI SAID, a beautiful eyeless maiden, etc.
20. The old man opened with, "Hashem is on my side, I will not fear, what can a man do to me? Hashem takes my part with those who help me...It is better to take refuge in Hashem..." (Tehilim 118:6-8). How goodly, pleasant, precious and lofty are the words of Torah. And I, how could I say before these sages that I have heard from them not even one word until now? Yet I should speak up, because I am not ashamed to speak words of Torah in public.
21. That old man wrapped himself, and spoke, "And if a priest's daughter be married to a stranger, she may not eat of an offering of the holy things" (Vayikra 22:12). This verse is followed by another, "But if a priest's daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and has returned to her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father's bread, but no stranger shall eat of it" (Ibid. 13). These verses may be understood literally, yet the words of the Torah are undisclosed, AS THERE ARE SECRETS IN EACH AND EVERY MATTER.
22. And many are the matters of wisdom hidden in each and every subject in the Torah, which are known to the wise who know the ways of the Torah. For the Torah is not the context of dreams handed to those who interpret them, or follow the mouth of the interpreter, yet they have to be interpreted according to their ways. And if dream matters need interpreting according to their ways, how much more so the words of the Torah, the delights of the Holy King, needs to be followed in the true path, as written, "for the ways of Hashem are right..." (Hoshea 14:10).
23. Now we should say, "A priest's daughter" is the supernal Neshamah, the daughter of the patriarch Abraham, the first of converts, WHO IS CHESED. He attracts this Neshamah from a supernal place, THAT IS BINAH. HE ASKS, What is the difference between the verses, "And the daughter of any priest" (Vayikra 21:9), and "And if a priest's daughter?" HE ANSWERS, Some priests are called 'any priest' but not a real priest. In the same way, there is a priest, an aid and a high priest, and a priest that is not high. A mere priest is higher than any priest. THEREFORE THERE ARE GRADES TO THE SOUL, there are Neshamah, Ruach and Nefesh. THE HIGH PRIEST IS THE NESHAMAH, A PRIEST IS RUACH AND ANY PRIEST IS NEFESH.