Prologue: Chapter 12

The donkey driver


Rabbi Elazar, the son of Rabbi Shimon, is traveling by donkey with Rabbi Aba , one of the great students of Rabbi Shimon. A lowly donkey driver pushes their donkey from behind in order to help the two Rabbis along in their journey. The donkey driver strikes up a conversation with the two sages and begins revealing spiritual secrets. Rabbi Elazar is surprised and at first a bit skeptical, but soon realizes that this simple man is speaking great wisdom. As the donkey driver continues with a lengthy discourse on many supernal mysteries, Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Abba begin to realize the greatness and eminence of the person in their midst. At the end of the discourse, they recognize the donkey driver: they are face-to-face with Rabbi Hamnuna Saba, the great sage who had left the physical world some time before. Once he is recognized, Rabbi Hamnuna Saba disappears and returns to the Upper Worlds.

In speaking about the travels and journeys of the sages, the Zohar is also referring to the spiritual paths that all of us must eventually follow. In reality, Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Abba were on a spiritual journey, and the help and support they received from the great sage Rabbi Hamnuna Saba assisted them in their ascent to a higher level of being.

All of us require the assistance of righteous souls as we evolve along our own spiritual paths. As our eyes observe the Hebrew letters and our minds absorb the meaning of this story, we too are able to draw down a righteous soul who will assist us in taking the next step forward in our spiritual development.