Vayak'hel: Chapter 2

Three night watches


Rabbi Elazar describes how the night's twelve hours are divided into three, each of which is allotted to a different host of angels. The first is appointed to praise their Master with love. At that time the souls of those on earth leave their bodies to go up: those that are not worthy are rejected and hover about the world, but the worthy ones travel up to see their Master on the holy mountain of Hashem, where their deeds and merits are written down. The second host recites poetry for two hours. These angels of the second watch bewail the destruction of the temple, and weep by the rivers of Babylon. God weeps two tears into the great sea, a flame is awakened and paired with a spirit from the north, and the flame goes to hover about the world. Rabbi Elazar refers to Esther and the secret of judgment of the Left Column, which is at this time. When at midnight God enters the Garden of Eden to commune with the souls of the righteous, all the trees of the Garden and the souls of the righteous open and say "Lift up your heads, O you gates." Then the souls of the righteous return to their bodies, and the angels of the third host encourage them and recite poetry until the light of morning. These last four hours are in the central column.

In the morning all the stars and constellations praise their Master along with the archangels that govern by daytime. All Yisrael sings below and the sweet voice of the wheel of the sun sings above.