Shemot: Chapter 15

The coming of the Messiah


In this long and complex section, Rabbi Shimon first describes the time when God shall make Himself known throughout the world, which is the prelude to the arrival of the Messiah. We learn that when God reveals His glory to the world, all the nations and their kings will rise up against the children of Yisrael, and the children of Yisrael will suffer greatly. A pillar of fire reaching from heaven to earth will appear for forty days. At this time, the Messiah will rise in Galilee and begin to wage war on the world from there, because this is where the devastation first began. The earth will shake, and everybody will seek refuge in caves and rocky places, as alluded to in the verse, "And they shall go into the holes..." After forty days, a bright star from the east will battle with seven stars surrounding it, extinguishing them night after night for a period of seventy days. Then the one star will be hidden and the Messiah will be concealed in the pillar of fire for twelve months, though it will not be visible to the world. After the twelve months, the Messiah will ascend to receive the power and the crown of the Kingdom. Then the pillar of fire will again be visible on earth and the Messiah will reveal himself and declare war on the world. Many nations will join him to wage war on the nations of the world, which will unite to fight against him. Then a time will come when the world will remain in darkness for fifteen days, and many of the children of Yisrael will perish.

Rabbi Shimon then explains to Rabbi Elazar that the Messiah resides in the lower Garden of Eden, surrounded by saints, angels and the souls of the righteous. There is a concealed place in Eden called "Bird's Nest" which is revealed to the Messiah by the bird that awakens daily in the Garden. In the Bird's Nest is the Cloak of Majesty, and the images of all the nations that banded against Yisrael are woven into this garment. The Messiah enters this place and sees the Patriarchs visiting the ruins of God's Sanctuary and God trying to comfort Rachel, who weeps incessantly. Then he weeps loudly and all of Eden shakes and laments with him. When he cries for a second time, the Holy Throne summons them and they ascend above. There, God makes them swear to avenge the children of Yisrael through the Messiah and to draw God's goodness towards the children of Yisrael so that they may enjoy His rich rewards. At that time, God will arise to renew the world, and the letters of the Holy Name will shine in perfect union. A mighty star and a flame will then appear in the sky. After forty days, the star will gradually overpower the flame. The star will illuminate twelve pathways for twelve days, and after another twelve days the world will tremble and darkness will fall. A sound shall be heard out of great thunder and lightning, causing the earth to shake and many to die. Then a flame of fire will appear in Rome, and it will burn many towers and places, and many mighty rulers and ministers will perish. For twelve months following, the kings of the nations will unite and persecute the children of Yisrael. Then a tribe will arise in Yisrael, led by the Messiah. The Messiah will be aroused and perfected through the Garden of Eden. He will enter the Bird's Nest, take the Garment of Jealousy, and be hidden there for forty days. After this time, he will ascend to receive God's blessing, and will be crowned with a Holy Crown. He then receives a royal red garment from the mourners of Zion to avenge the destruction of the Temple, and is concealed in the Bird's Nest for thirty days. Then he will descend to earth in a bright light, and no one will know the significance of this light except the sages. He will console Rachel, and she will finally accept consolation, and then the light will settle in the city of Jericho. After twelve months, the Messiah will be revealed to the world in Galilee, and those who study the Torah will surround him and give him additional strength. After waiting for another twelve months, he will raise the Shechinah and gather the exiled from the world. Then God will perform for the children of Yisrael the signs and wonders that He did in Egypt. Rabbi Shimon next discusses the doctrine of Faith contained in the verse, "O Hashem our Elohim; other masters beside you have had dominion..." In exile, we learn, the children of Yisrael are ruled by the Other Side, the Shechinah is separated from Her Spouse, and the two Names of God are also separated.

During the first exile, Yisrael had no Divine Light to guide her. However, upon their return to the Holy Land, not all of the children of Yisrael were Righteous and pure, and therefore the light that returned to guide them was weaker than it had originally been. Consequently, Yisrael was involved in many wars until the destruction of the second Temple, and the Roman captivity was prolonged. After 1266 years, we are told, God shall perform many miracles and wonders, and after another 66 years, the Holy Name will be perfectly engraved, above and below. After a further 132 years, the Holy Land will be purified and God will shake the wicked from the earth and raise the dead. Finally, 144 years later, the remaining dead of Yisrael who are in other lands will also be raised, and the Other Side will be destroyed. Then the Shechinah will be crowned and the holy spirits of the children of Yisrael will be invested with new, holy bodies, and they shall be called 'saints.'


In these our final days, the time of the Messiah, two realities will coexist - a reality of chaos, suffering, and pain; and a second reality of blessedness, joy, and perfection. Both existences are available to us. We need only to choose. Those who undertake the labor of self-transformation will find themselves living in Light. Persons who persist on the path of narcissism will dwell in darkness and discontent.

One might ask how both actualities are able to exist side by side. The analogy of sunlight illustrates this. The sun's rays warm, nourish and sustain life on earth. However, overexposure to these same life-giving emanations of light can also cause damage and destruction.

In our day, the intensity of spiritual Light is at its highest level in history. Those who share, give, love, and care for their fellow human being, thus uprooting all evil impulses from their own nature, become a clear and unobstructed conduit of the Light. Thus, splendid Divine energy flows right through such people, and then to all mankind.

Individuals who are caught up in their own gluttony, mired in materialism, automatically hold on to this intense energy, and it burns severely. They cause the rays to become the fires of Hell. In that case, the flames reduce to ashes all deceitful and inconsiderate characteristics.

Physical wars and destruction on our planet cannot take place if we instigate the only true war worth waging - the war against our own Evil Inclination. That war is now being won. Therefore, this particular passage of Zohar is a great and grand gift to the world. Each verse is a preemptive strike against the possibility of global warfare, terror, disease, and suffering, as the Light launched by the gaze of our eyes targets the Satan and the evil within.

The truth of the Creator and the spiritual laws of life take hold within the collective consciousness of humanity. A merciful, kind-hearted, gentle, compassionate, lenient and forgiving redemption unfolds before our eyes. Immortality and the appearance of our departed loved ones is our new and eternal reality.