273. Rabbi Yehuda woke up one night to study Torah. It was midnight in a guest house in the town of Mata-Machesya. There was an Israelite staying there, who had arrived with two sacks of clothes TO SELL. Rabbi Yehuda opened the discussion, saying, "And this stone which I have set for a pillar shall be the house of Elohim" (Beresheet 28:22). That STONE, he continued, is the Foundation Stone, on which the world was planted. And on that stone the Temple was built!
274. The Israelite raised his head up and said: How can this be possible? As the Foundation Stone existed before the world was created and from it the world was planted. You claim that "this stone which I have set for a pillar" means that until Jacob set it AS A PILLAR, IT WAS NOT PROPERLY SET AND DID NOT STAND IN ITS PLACE. As it is written: "And he took the stone he had put under his head" (Beresheet 22:11). BUT THE FOUNDATION STONE WAS ESTABLISHED AND STOOD IN ITS PLACE BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD. And furthermore, Jacob was in Bethel, while the FOUNDATION Stone was in Jeruslaem, WHERE IT STANDS IN THE PLACE OF THE TEMPLE.
275. Rabbi Yehuda, without turning his face toward him, quoted the verse, "Prepare to meet your Elohim, O Yisrael" (Amos 4:12). He continued, as it is written: "Take heed and hear, O Yisrael" (Devarim 27:3). This means that the words of Torah require full attention and that it should be approached with the body and soul properly focused. The Israelite rose, dressed, sat by Rabbi Yehuda's side, and said: 'Happy are you righteous who study the Torah day and night!'
276. Rabbi Yehuda said to him: Now that you have properly prepared yourself, we shall join one another and you can say what you want to say. For before discussing Torah, a person has to properly prepare his body and heart. If this were not so, I would lay in bed and think of these things in my heart. But we have learned that even one person, sitting and studying Torah, is accompanied by the Shechinah. And if the Shechinah is already here, how can I lay in bed? Also, IN ORDER TO DELVE INTO TORAH, a person requires a clear mind. AND HE WHO LIES IN HIS BED DOES NOT HAVE A CLEAR MIND.
277. Furthermore, when a person gets up to study Torah in the middle of the night, when the northern wind awakes, the Holy One, blessed be He, enters the Garden of Eden and enjoys Himself with the righteous. And He, together with the righteous in the Garden, listen to the words that come from such a person's mouth. So if the Holy One, blessed be He, and the righteous delight in hearing the words of Torah at this hour, how can I lay in my bed? Now, RABBI YEHUDA said to THE ISRAELITE: Say what you have to say.
278. He told RABBI YEHUDA that he had a question about the statement regarding the verse, "And this stone which I have set for a pillar shall be the house of Elohim." You said it refers to the Foundation Stone: How can that be? The Foundation Stone existed even before the creation of the world. From this Stone the world was planted. And you say that "which I have set" means that Jacob has just set it, and it is written: "And he took the stone that he had put under his head."
279. Also, Jacob was in Bethel, while the stone was in Jerusalem. Rabbi Yehuda answered that Jacob folded up the Land of Yisrael and placed it under his head, EVEN THOUGH HE WAS IN BETHEL. The Israelite continued: It is written, "he took the stone that he had put" and, also, "And this stone which I have set for a pillar," MEANING THAT JACOB ESTABLISHED IT NOW. SO HOW CAN IT BE THE SAME STONE WHICH HAD EXISTED BEFORE THE WORLD WAS CREATED? Rabbi Yehuda said: If you know anything, say it!
280. The Israelite then began: It is written,: "As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied, when I wake up, with beholding Your likeness" (Tehilim 17:15). King David felt great affection for and devotion to this stone. THE STONE IS MALCHUT, AND IT IS CALLED THE "FOUNDATION STONE" AND ALSO "RIGHTEOUSNESS." Therefore, David said of it: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone" (Tehilim 118:22), and when he wanted to look at the reflection of his Master's glory, he would simply take the stone into his hands and enter.
281. Whoever wants to appear before his Master can enter only by that stone, as it is written: "Thus (Heb. bezot), WITH MALCHUT THAT IS CALLED THIS (HEB. ZOT) shall Aaron come into the holy place" (Vayikra 16:3). King David was glorifying himself, saying, "As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness," WHICH IS MALCHUT. His main intention was to show himself and appear with the stone turned heavenward.
282. Come and behold: Abraham instituted the morning prayer, WHICH CORRESPONDS TO THE SFIRAH OF CHESED OF ZEIR ANPIN, and in so doing, he made known the essence of his Master in the world, and he fixed the time OF MORNING, as it should properly be, as it is written "And Abraham rose up early in the morning" (Beresheet 22:3). THIS MEANS THAT HE ESTABLISHED THE ATTRIBUTE OF CHESED, THAT PREVAILS IN THE MORNING. Isaac instituted Minchah (the afternoon prayer), WHICH CORRESPONDS TO THE SFIRAH OF GVURAH OF ZEIR ANPIN, and made the world know that there is Judgment and a Judge who can save the world and judge it. THIS MEANS THAT HE ESTABLISHED THE ATTRIBUTE OF GVURAH.