Shemot: Chapter 31

Twelve mountains of balsam trees


This section begins with reference to Rabbi Yehuda's comment that, although God delights in the prayers of the Righteous, He does not always grant their requests. There follows an account illustrating this idea. Once, during a drought, Rabbi Eliezer prayed and decreed forty fasts to no avail, yet after Rabbi Akiva prayed, the wind and rain came immediately. Seeing Rabbi Eliezer's chagrin, Rabbi Akiva stood before the congregation and told them a parable. In it, he compared Rabbi Eliezer to a friend of a king who loved him so dearly that he delayed granting his friend's request in order to prolong his visit. In contrast, the king instantly granted the requests of his servant in order to dispense with him quickly. Rabbi Eliezer then tells Rabbi Akiva his dream, in which he saw the verse, "Therefore pray you not for this people..." and reveals that he was crestfallen because although he knew another could pray for them, the congregation thought he was of a lower degree than Rabbi Akiva.

Rabbi Eliezer then describes the dream in which he saw twelve mountains of balsam trees; the "one who wears a breastplate and Efod" entered and prayed to God to have mercy on the world. He explains that there are eighteen mountains of balsam. The righteous souls enter there, and from there 49 aromas ascend daily to Eden. These correspond to the 49 pure aspects and the 49 impure aspects of the Torah, the 49 letters of the names of the twelve Tribes, and the 49-day interval between the exodus and the handing of the Torah to Yisrael. The "one who wears the breastplate" sits on a holy throne supported by the four pillars, the Patriarchs, who receive from the twelve stones that illuminate in the breastplate. They raise their eyes and see the sparks that glitter on 620 sides of the Crown, on which the Holy Name is engraved. Then the pillars tremble, "And the heavens become revealed like a book" (Yeshayah 34:4).


Here we are connected to the Light of the Creator in a warm and loving embrace. This connection is of a permanent nature, so that we are constantly in the presence of the Creator. This ensures absolute fulfillment of our prayers. Moreover, humility, which is the key that unlocks the gates of heaven, is aroused within us. This ensures the answering of our prayers and the arrival of lasting peace and countless blessings.

Though our generation may not really merit a merciful Redemption, we can achieve it upon the merit of Rabbi Shimon, Rabbi Elizar, Rabbi Akiva, and the worldwide presence of this sacred Book of Splendor. Our collective meditation upon these verses unites our world to the fiftieth Gate - Binah, a realm of boundless bliss! All 49 spiritual levels leading up to Binah are now perfected by the words that speak of the "49 fragrances," the "illuminating stones," and the "engravings of the breastplate."

The story of humanity now arrives at a glorious conclusion after so many chapters of persecution and pain. "Happily Ever After" is our new reality.