Shulhan Shel Arba: The Fourth Gate

Rabbenu Bahya ben Asher, Shulhan Shel Arba (late 13th-14th century Spain)

The Fourth Gate: An Explanation of the Meals Prepared for the Righteous in the Time to Come 

[p.501] Some of the meals prepared in the world to come are bodily and intellectual – for both the body and soul. And there are some intellectual meals for souls who stand alone without the body, and they enjoy forever those very worlds where each and every one resides according to their level.  The bodily meals have been reserved for them from the beginning, the refined and pure foods created from the supernal light through a chain of causes. And they are: Leviathan among the fishes, Bar-Yokhnai among the birds, which were created on the fifth day, and Leviathan is called what it is because it is ordered for the righteous, and likewise the Behemoth of the thousand mountains,[1] which was created on the sixth day with the creation of the human being, but before him.  And the quality of these foods is very profound; they can penetrate into the intellect and purify the heart, like the manna which the generation in the desert merited, which was “like wafers in honey”,[2] and was an offspring of the upper light, about which it is written, “Sweet is the light, and good to the eyes, to see the sun.”[3] And it is possible that their quality will be greater than those who ate the manna, for insofar as perception at the end of days will be greater and more elevated than all the times before, so will the hearts be wide enough to include knowledge of Ha-Shem (May He Blessed) in its completeness, like “waters covering to the sea,”[4] and this will be in the time of the Messiah greater and greater than the generation of the desert who went out of Egypt, habituated to hard labor, raising their hands out of mud, and their “palms just passed from the kettle.”[5] For this time will be the perfect and elevated time, following the will of the One Who dwells in the bush, what is not so in this world, because it does not follow what His will was.  And that is why they fixed the wording of the Kaddish to say, ‘be-alma dibra khe-r’utay‘ [‘in the world He created according to His will’], so consequently we pray for the time of the King Messiah which in the future the Holy One Blessed be He will create according to His will.  And the compelling proof of this is that this world which we stand in now, in its conduct indeed does not follow His will, because here – when Adam sinned because of the serpent, it was against His will, because it was indeed His will that Adam live forever, that he never die.  And thus the intention of creation was originally that no creature ever cross [p.502] the line of serving its Creator, and because the design of the Holy One Blessed Be He was not fulfilled, but instead, the design of the Adversary, nevertheless, this world itself necessarily will return to the end which was the desire of its Creator at its beginning.  And because we pray for this very time, the formulation of the Kaddish was fixed in the Aramaic language, so that the ministering angels won’t recognize or understand it, for if they did understand, they would be jealous of our status at that time, and they would pray for the delay of the redemption.  Therefore we seek mercy for the name YAH as it written regarding it, “By the hand on the throne of YAH,”[6] that His name will be “made greater and sanctified”, that is, the “name Yah will be great and blessed” [yehay shmay (= shem yah) rabah mevorakh], namely, that both His name and His throne will be complete, in that world which He created according to His will, all of it will return to like it was at its beginning.  And I have compelling proofs for this that there is no need for me to go into at length, for it is my intention in this Gate only to give an explanation of the bodily and intellectual meals prepared for the righteous in their body and soul, and for the intellectual meals which are for the soul alone without the body. And no one with understanding ought to be astonished if the righteous will have actual physical meals, that they will delight in both in body and soul. For see, in the Garden of Eden which had in its land a tree of life which could bring about eternal life for those who ate from it – whether good or bad, and there was water and grasses in it, which without a doubt, some of them were life-giving, others deadly, some of them healthful, others which would make you sick.  And thus it is written in the Torah, “There He made for them a fixed rule, and there He put them to the test.”[7] And the view of our rabbis z”l was that the wood was bitter, and the Holy One Blessed Be He sweetened the bitter with something bitter, a miracle within a miracle, and so our sages z”l taught in a midrash:[8] “‘The Lord showed him [Moses] a piece of wood.’[9] Rabbi Elazar says it was hardofaney,[10] R. Nathan says it was olive wood,[11] and there are others who say it was the roots of a fig tree.”  In any case, it was bitter.  And so you find it written about Elisha, “The water is bad and the land causes bereavement,”[12] and it is written, “Bring me a new dish, and put salt in it,”[13] and that “healed” the water.[14] Rabbi Simon ben Gamaliel says how much more wonderful are His ways than the ways of flesh and blood!  He puts a harmful thing inside a harmful thing to make a miracle inside of a miracle.[15] Moreover, we are able to teach even more midrash about this, for you know Torah has seventy faces, because when it said in the verse, “There He put them to the test,”[16] that is to say, there Moses tested this plant, and it was out of the science the Holy One Blessed be He taught him that he knew the power of this plant, about its nature or its virtue, which was to sweeten the bitter.  And so it uses the expression:  va-yorehu Ha-Shem (i.e., “the Lord instructed him”), instead of va-yar’ehu (“He showed him”),[17] because he had to have Him teach him about this; the Holy One Blessed be He taught him the science of the plants He created – about their nature to revive and to kill, to heal and to sicken,  [p. 503] to sweeten and to embitter.  And this is the connotation of the expression hok u-mishpat (“statute and law”):[18] hok is its virtue whose reason is not known, and about mishpat, our rabbis z”l said, “And the Lord instructed him [about] the tree” – that is, its nature, that it is by law to be so in its nature.  And it is connected immediately to “If you will heed the Lord your God diligently, doing what is upright in His sight, giving ear to his commandments and keeping all His hukim [“statutes”], then I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians, for I the Lord am your healer.”[19] Scripture has warned us not to entrust the core of our well-being to the power of plants, but rather to keeping the commandments, for they are the core.  And with keeping the commandments He will keep them healthy, and prevent them from getting sick.  And it was necessary to say this, because it is possible that mortals, erring and stumbling through their knowledge of the powers of these plants, will entrust the core of their well-being to them, and despair of seeking mercy from the Master of Mercy (may He be blessed) “in whose hand is every living soul.”[20] And this is the reason why King Hezekiah hid the Book of Cures, so that human beings would not stumble over them, and the sages z”l thanked him for this.[21]

And now that I have explained all of this to you, you ought to meditate on the idea that if in this world you will find that things are so according to nature and their inherent virtues, how much the more so will it be the case at the end of time when nature will be made anew and be changed for the better to meet the needs of everything that has been created based on its status! And it goes without saying for the status of the people of Israel and the righteous among them, that the Holy One Blessed be He will make anew the kinds of pleasures and meals, just as He will make them a new creation, in whom the flow of intelligence and the capacity for prophecy has been strengthened.  And if the heart of man who thinks he’s so smart objects to this idea, and says the words of the sages z”l are based on the pillars of science and the splendor of the intellect, and that all of them are in accordance with reason, and that they did not speak or say a word except by means of allegory, and the meal of the Leviathan is not physical but only an allegory for intellectual capacity and “the bundle of eternal life,” we will say to him in reply: we are compelled by necessity to believe that the words about a physical meal words refer literally to a physical meal, and not just an intellectual experience.  For see what they said in the Perek Ha-Sefinah (“The Ship”):[22] R. Yohanan said,

The Holy One, blessed be He, will in time to come make a banquet for the righteous from the flesh of Leviathan; for it is said: “Companions will make a banquet of it [yikhru ‘alav habarim].”[23] Kerah must mean a banquet; for it is said: “And he prepared [va-yikhreh] for them a great banquet [kerah] and they ate and drank.”[24] “Companions” [habarim] must mean scholars for it is said: “the companions hearken for your voice; cause me to hear it.”[25] The rest [of Leviathan] will be distributed and sold out in the markets of Jerusalem; for it is said: “They will part him among the Kena’anim.”[26]

And you already knew that the words of our rabbis follow the Torah’s means of expression, and so in the Torah there are permitted and prohibited foods: this you shall eat; this you shall not eat, and it is written, “from their flesh you shall not eat.”[27] You wouldn’t say that this is an allegory – God forbid! – but it’s the actual literal meaning. And so they went on to say

The Holy One, blessed be He, will in time to come make a sukkah for the righteous from the skin of Leviathan; for it is said: “Can you fill sukkot with his skin?”[28] If a man is worthy, a sukkah is made for him; if he is not worthy, a shadow [tzel] is made for him, for it is said: “And his head with a fish covering [bi-tziltzel].”[29] The rest [of Leviathan] will be spread by the Holy One, blessed be He, upon the walls of Jerusalem, and its splendor will shine from one end of the world to the other; as it is said: “And nations shall walk by Your light.”[30]

Out of all this it will be explained explicitly that the words are meant literally: about the actual flesh of Leviathan, about his actual skin.[31] The actual flesh of Leviathan will be the food of the righteous who “bothered themselves” with the Torah and mitzvot, and his actual skin to make their dwelling place glow in order to proclaim their high status among the nations, how they served the Holy One Blessed be He and took hold of His Torah and His qualities, to what is written here refers: “And you shall come to see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between him who has served God and him who has not served Him.”[32] And likewise it is written,

Behold my servants shall eat, and you shall hunger;

My servants shall drink, and you shall thirst…

My servants shall cry out in gladness and you shall cry out in anguish, [p. 504] howling in heartbreak.[33]

And in connection to this you will also find it plainly stated in Perek Helek[34] that in time to come the human height [komot] will return to two hundred cubits, and they also taught this in a midrash likewise in Perek Sefinah:[35]

“I will lead you komamiyut,”[36] R. Meir says: [it means] two hundred cubits – twice the height of Adam. R. Judah says: A hundred cubits; corresponding to the [height of the] temple and its walls. For it is said: ‘carved after the fashion of the Temple.[37]

But insofar as it said,[38]

The Holy One, Blessed be He, will in time to come bring precious stones and pearls…and will cut out from them [openings] ten by twenty cubits, and will set them up in the gates of Jerusalem, as it is said, “and your gates of stones of carbuncle,”[39]

it seems from this that the height will be no more than twenty cubits.  So therefore it must be said that the gates of the houses are not being spoken about, for how could they enter them at that height?! But rather, it’s certainly the gates of the windows that are being spoken about.  And you already knew that parashat “Im Behukotai” is a promise of what will happen in the future, for what it says there never existed in the two Temples, neither in the First nor the Second Temple. For what is destined in the Torah through its promises is not al shlemut, but will happen in time to come after the ancient sin has been atoned for, which has never occurred at any time, and this is what our sages z”l taught in a midrash:[40] When David went out to war he killed eight hundred at one time, but was sorry for the two hundred [he would have killed], to fulfill what has been said, “How could one have routed a thousand?”[41] A voice from heaven went out and said, “Were it not for the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”[42]

And you ought to understand now that is known, that because of Adam’s sin his height was diminished, as our rabbis z”l taught in a midrash:[43] “But when he sinned, the Holy One Blessed be He, set His eyes upon him and diminished him and reduced him to one thousand cubits,[44] for it is written, ‘You hedge me before and behind; You lay your hand upon me.’[45] You need not wonder that when the sin has been atoned for and the decree has been cancelled that his height will return to its original measure, for indeed the height was diminished only because of the sin, which caused the climate to go bad, but at this time the whole work of creation will be changed for the better, and return to its perfection and virtue, just as it was in the time of Adam before the sin, and then the heights will get bigger and return to their original measure, and all of Israel will be elated and enjoy the kingdom of Shaddai, and there will be a flow of perception and pleasure into the body and soul, a huge “King’s share” of blessing.[46] And now that I have explained all this to you, no rationalist ought to doubt from now on that the physical meal prepared for the righteous, because these things had been created back then with this intention – that from them would come in the future the reward for the righteous – that they will delight in these meals with their bodies.  And already our sages z”l said that Moses Our Teacher (peace be upon him) will be with them serving these meals.  You will find a hint of this matter in the Torah in the blessings of Jacob (peace be upon him) when he said, “Until Shiloh will come,”[47] that is to say, until Moses will come.  For he wanted to hint at the coming of the “nearer” redeemer by whom Israel would be redeemed from Egypt; and the last, more distant redeemer is included in this who will come at the future redemption [p. 505] And this is also: “Until Shiloh will come.”[48] The expression will serve to refer to the two redemptions: the first, which is nearer in time, and the last, which is more distant.  And thus they said in a midrash about Moses our Teacher (may he rest in peace):  “shihula kardona – the skinner for preparing a meal, who was pulled out,” – the explanation of “shihula,” is Moses, which is from the Aramaic [shihaltay] for the Hebrew,  “I drew him out” (Ex: 2:10).[49] And a “skinner” (for preparing a meal) is a type of butcher or cook.  So here the goal of the intention of these bodily meals is to be a device to refine the body and matter and to sharpen the mind so that it will attain knowledge of the Creator (May He be blessed) and meditate upon the purely intelligible beings, and then the souls by this looking of their bodies will become fit for the intellectual banquet from which the ministering angels themselves who are near the Shekhinah eat – for then the soul will perceive the brilliant light which it is impossible to perceive as long as it is stuck in matter.

And this was the subject of what Moses asked when he said, “Please, let me behold Your Presence!”[50] Here it should be asked, was Moses asking for something possible or impossible?  If for something possible, why did God refuse him and say, “You cannot see my face”?[51] And if for something impossible, why did he ask? And the answer to this strictly speaking, is that Moses sought to perceive something while he was still in a material body what he would perceive only after he had been separated from matter.  And the reason that it occurred to him to ask was because he saw that he had already stood on Mt. Sinai for forty days, and the power of his flesh had attenuated and the earthy matter in him weakened with the increase of light over him, by which the beams of light shone from his face.  So he asked while he was still made of matter as if he were not, that he not be hindered from perceiving what he would perceive after the separation (of his soul from his flesh).  And the Holy One Blessed be He replied to him, “For man may not see me and live,”[52] that is to say, no matter what, because you are still a man, it is impossible for you to perceive while you’re still material what you will perceive only afterwards.  And so they said in the Midrash,[53] “‘For man may not see me and live:’[54] while alive they do not see, but upon their death the do see.”  And this is after the separation of the soul from its material form.  And it is possible to specify further that “upon their death” means when they are about to die, as in the topic they discussed in Midrash Deuteronomy Rabbah Parashat Ekev,[55]

“How abundant is the good that You have in store for those who fear You.[56] ‘It happened that when R. Abbahu was about to die, he saw the gift of his reward, what the Holy One Blessed be He was going to give him in the time to come, and all the good prepared for the righteous themselves in the time to come. So when he saw all these consolations which had been prepared, he exclaimed, “All these are for Abbahu!” and immediately he desired to die, and began reciting: “How abundant is the good that You have in store for those who fear You.”[57]

And it is necessary that you know that just as Israel merited at the crossing of the Red Sea two marvelous and profound statuses, and they merited them in the body and the soul – the first, that they crossed the sea feeling this in their bodies the great miracle that was made for them with the sea splitting into twelve different divisions, and the twelve tribes, crossed through these cuts tribe by tribe during its own cut; the second, that their soul was elevated and they prophesied there and a serving maiden of Israel saw there what Ezekiel ben Buzi never saw,  so in the future Israel will merit two statuses in their body and soul.  Bodily meals of fine and pure foods which I mentioned, and an intellectual meal for the soul alone of the holy spirit, for so all Israel will ascend to the level of prophecy, as it is said, ‘It shall come to pass afterwards that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and your daughters will prophesy,”[58] and the weakest among them like David and the house of David, like gods, like an angel of the Lord before them.  This will be at the time of the redemption after the wars have ceased and Israel is back on its own land.  Therefore, one should not think these meals are not bodily affairs in the literal sense. [p. 506] In addition you will find that our rabbis z”l explained it [literally]: “In the future the Holy One Blessed be He will make a great banquet for the righteous in the future to come from the flesh of Leviathan. Any whoever did not eat prohibited trayf foods will deserve to eat at it.”[59] And our rabbis also taught in a midrash: “Leviathan is a pure fish”  [i.e., a kosher fish with fins and scales] as it is said, “The layers of his flesh stick together,”[60] and it is written, “his underparts are jagged shards”[61] – these are the scales fixed to him.[62] And the intellectual meal for both the body and soul will occur at the time of the resurrection of the dead.

And now I will explain to you in what follows about the world of souls, which will come to human beings after their separation from the world, and the matter of the world to come, which is after the resurrection and the matter of the joy that the soul has in all these worlds together.  Know that the intellectual meal for the body and soul at the time of the resurrection of the dead, because the routine for the body will be cancelled completely, and another routine – marvelous and new  – will replace it, and moral rot –zohama’ – will cease from the world,[63] and the Accuser will be swallowed up, “there is no adversary [satan] and no mischance,”[64] “the Lord will make something new on earth,”[65] and the souls will be made anew like the eagle is renewed;[66] all of them shall be new,  “the work of the Artist’s hand,”[67] so much the more so than with vessels of glass.[68] Then the “children of the resurrection of the dead” whose body and their soul have been renewed shall take delight in the intellectual meal in the world to come, which is after the resurrection, in which there is no bodily meal at all, and it is regarding this meal that our rabbis z”l said,[69] “Rav was accustomed to say, ‘In the world to come, there is no eating and no drinking, no envy, no hatred, and no rivalry, but rather the righteous will sit with crowns on their heads and enjoy the splendor of the Shekhinah.'”  And this statement should teach they will exist there in that world in a body and a soul, which is why he said “no eating and drinking.”  For if they did not have there a body and soul, there would be no need for Rav to say “no eating and drinking for souls,” but rather they will certainly be there in body and soul, and despite that there will be no eating and drinking.  For their bodily powers will be suspended from them, as they were suspended from Moses and Elijah[70] (peace be upon them).  And if you would say that the “vessels” of their bodies and soul serve no purpose, they do serve a purpose, because they receive the reward and enjoyment together, just as they toiled in the Torah [p. 507] body and soul together. For the Holy One Blessed be He does not rob any created being of its reward, and He wants the body to receive its reward and He will not hold back on His judgment.  For even though the soul is the most important, the body is nevertheless not superfluous; for it too is of great importance, for it is the tool through which the soul reveals its activities, and it has no power to realize them in action without it.  That being so, the body should be destined with the gift of its reward together with the soul.  And what “and their crowns on their heads” meant was a reference to the brilliant light that hovers over them, as it is written, “On that day the Lord of Hosts shall become a crown of beauty and a diadem for the remnant…”[71] which our rabbis z”l interpreted in a midrash: It will be like someone who puts scraps on himself, though they are indeed “children of the resurrection of the dead.” [72] And more could be said about “and their crowns on their heads” – in the image of the crowns that were given to them at Mt. Sinai.  This the finery which they merited at their receiving of the Torah, as it is said, “And the Israelites were stripped of the finery from Mt. Horeb.”[73] Our rabbis taught in a midrash:[74] “The armor of God’s Ineffable Name girded them. But when they sinned, they were taken from them, and Moses earned them back, and this is what Scripture meant by ‘from Mt. Horeb. And Moses would take the tent.’[75] That is to say, he took all these marks of status and kinds of lights back for them – that is, ‘the tent –ha-ohel,’ which is like the expression: ‘be-halo nero– when His lamp shone [over my head].'”[76] And just as their measure of delight is like Adam’s measure of delight in the Garden of Delights before the sin, so the crowns on their heads are in the image of the crowns on at Mt. Sinai before the sin.  And know that because the body is the “robe” of the soul, for as King Solomon (peace be upon him) spoke about the topic of the resurrection of the dead when he said: “I had taken off my robe; How shall I wear it again?”[77] he revealed to us explicitly that the soul will be clothed in the same robe. But he said, “How shall I wear it again?”  – it is impossible for this to occur in nature, but rather only by a complete, marvelous, profound miracle shall I go back and wear it again after it has been stripped off.  And he said this out of astonishment, not out of doubt – God forbid! “I had bathed my feet”[78] – that is to say, after I have bathed my feet, how is it possible for me to step back in the same muck!? It is better for me to stay on this level than to go back there.[79] All this comes from astonishment, but “inasmuch the king’s command is authoritative,”[80] because he promised us this in the Torah that the soul will return to the body at the resurrection of the dead, in order to receive its reward or punishment, according to the judgment coming to it. The explanation of this topic about the matter of the resurrection of the dead I shall complete for you in this Gate. Dig after it, pursue it, and get it!

And know and understand that it was about this intellectual meal of the resurrection of the dead that rabbis z”l interpreted in a midrash in Tractate Pesahim:[81]

“‘And Abraham made a great feast on the day of the weaning [hahigamel], etc.’[82] The Holy One, blessed be He, will in time to come make a banquet for the righteous on the day when He will reward [yigamel hesed] the seed of Isaac, and the cup of blessing will be given to Abraham to bless and he says to them, “I won’t say the blessing because Ishmael came from me.”  The cup of blessing is given to Isaac to bless, and he says, “I won’t say the blessing because Esau came out of me.”  The cup of blessing is given to Jacob to bless and he says to them, “I won’t say the blessing because I married two sisters while they were both alive.”  The cup of blessing is given to Moses to bless, and he says, “I won’t say the blessing, because I didn’t merit entering the land of Israel.”  The cup of blessing is given to Joshua to bless and he said to them, “I won’t say the blessing, because I never merited having a son.  The cup of blessing was giving to David to bless, and he says to them, “I will say the blessing, and it is right for me to bless [p. 508] the King (may He be blessed), as it is said, “I raise the cup of deliverance and invoke the name of the Lord.”[83]

And the meal is for the world to come after the resurrection of the dead, and “the cup of blessing” – this is an allegory, for it was already explained that the world to come has in it no eating and drinking, and it comes to teach us about King David (peace be upon him), that he is the first of all the righteous to praise the Holy One Blessed be He.  And they said in Tractate Yoma:[84] “The cup of David in the world to come will be two hundred twenty-one logs, as it is said, ‘You have anointed my head with oil, my cup runs over [revayah].’[85] ReVaYa”H by gematria is numerically equivalent to two hundred twenty-one.”  All this is an allegory for the matter of the virtues and praises with which he will praise him, and he will be first of all of them in the status of kingship.  And already our rabbis z”l explained to us that he is the first of all the righteous in the Garden of Eden, which is the world of souls, which we get from what they said that the Holy One Blessed be He said to Jereboam: “Repent, and then I, you, and the son of Jesse will walk with the righteous in the Garden of Eden.” He replied, “And who shall be at the head?” He said, ‘The son of Jesse.” He said, “Then I do not want to.”[86] You find yourself learning that just as he [David] is the first among all of the righteous in the Garden of Eden, so, he explained, here in the world to come after the resurrection of the dead, that he is the head of all of them and the first to bless and praise.

And know indeed that the status of the souls in the world of souls comes right as one dies, while the world to come is after the resurrection. And it is the hope of all hopes, it cannot be compared or likened to anything in this world, nor pictured in the mind, because its image cannot be comprehended in the heart of “anyone artistically skillful,”[87] surpassing their ability to picture its essence and quality – what it is like and how the souls take delight in it.  The reason for this is because of our being sunken in the world of thick and coarse bodies, which is totally thickness and coarseness, while the upper world is totally elevation, refinement, and purity.  Indeed, the two are opposites; it’s impossible to think of what we are diametrically opposed to.  Just as for fish, because they exist in the element of water, and need it to exist and live, it would be impossible for them to turn to the element of fire because it is its opposite, so these two worlds are opposites, and “every man is proved dull, without knowledge”[88] of the quality of the world to come while in this world, and even the wisest of the wise are fools about this.  And you already knew that our rabbis z”l said that even the prophets didn’t prophesy about it due the fact that it was hidden for the most part, which is what they said in Sanhedrin:[89] “All the prophets prophesied all the good things with regard to the days of Messiah; but as for the world to come ‘No eye has seen, O God, but You.'”  However, we know in general through what we can infer through reason and from the Torah “which makes wise the simple”[90] that just as the body enjoys and takes delight [mitaden] in a pleasant aromatic meal according to the body’s standards of pleasure, so the soul will enjoy and take delight in this upper world. However, its way of taking delight there is not measured like bodily things, which have measures and dimensions, but the upper beings have no measure and dimension, because their status is great, beyond conception, and their way of taking delight deeper than any measure. And even though the power of the body is weak and unable to picture in the heart the existence of the upper beings and their delight that is without measure, the power of the upper beings and their perfection is not diminished by lesser beings, composed of matter, who are unable to conceive of them, just as the human wisdom and virtue is not diminished by a fool or beast who cannot imagine or conceive of it. This is the topic of what “the sages of the truth” said here:[91]

Come and see how the way of the Holy One Blessed be He is not the way of flesh and blood.  For flesh and blood, an empty vessel can contain something, a full one cannot.  But it is not so for the Holy One Blessed be He.  The full vessel can contain, the empty one cannot, as it is said, “If only they would surely hear.”[92]

The explanation of this is that insofar as bodily things have measure and dimension, when they are empty they can filled, but when one fills it, they cannot contain any more since they are already filled to their capacity, and nothing with a capacity can contain something more than its capacity.  But among the upper things, full contains, since it has no measured capacity.

[p. 509] And the world of souls, this is what is called ‘Garden of Eden’ (gan aden) among the sages, and they called it this by way of an allegory, using the example of how the body takes delight (mitaden) in a garden, and so it is written about the Garden of Eden in the land, ‘He set him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it,’ (Gen 2:5) – this heavenly Garden of Eden is the world of souls comparable but in contrast to it, and it is call ‘Garden of Eden’ too, and it is the reward for doing the mitzvot in which the soul takes delight, using the image of the body taking delight in a garden.  And to the extent that the Torah does not specify explicitly anywhere the matter of the Garden of Eden being destined for the soul as a reward for the mitzvot, but does specify the bodily things destined for Israel when they return most certainly to their land, when they will have “all their rains in their season”[93] and with the abundance of blessing and happiness – this matter is because the Torah was given to the masses of all of Israel, and the masses would not be able to understand the destined intellectual things.  So even if the Torah would come to tell about this in brief, they would not find in it any way in to understand it, they wouldn’t be up to it, and it would be for them like a dream without an interpretation.  And if the story of this went on at length in Scripture, wouldn’t more doubts be raised, the more was written about it?  So for this reason, the Torah did not want to go down this road, neither in brief nor at length, because the masses wouldn’t believe in any of it, until they would see a sign or confirmation of it with their own eyes, and therefore the wisdom of the Torah comes in a story about physical rewards destined to come, to go on at length about them since they are preparation for the soul’s recompense, which is her “Garden of Eden,” and since they are a sign and confirmation for what they wouldn’t understand.  And for this reason the Torah did not mention it explicitly in the story of the Garden of Eden, and by concealing it lest doubts multiply and confusion in understanding them ensue, but did mention openly what is the sign and confirmation of it.  So this reason is correct and sufficient to all who understand and discern that the Torah was given to the masses. However, the “engaged intellectual” [maskil nilvav[94]] who delves deeply into it, will find everything in the Torah, “as milk under pressure produces butter”[95] – whoever is found engaged in the Torah, the milk he suckles from the breast of his mother will produce the “butter” of Torah.[96] And so you who are an engaged intellectual – “Turn it and turn it because everything is in it!”[97] You will find in the matter of Enoch that “And Enoch walked with God”[98] And this “walking with God” is as the Targum translated it into Aramaic, “And Enoch walked in fear of the Lord.”[99] Enoch was a “righteous man who rules in the fear of God,”[100]as it is said, “for God took him,”[101] – it is known that the “taking” was because of his virtue and goodness, because he was a righteous man.  And if so, from here we get the explanation of the matter of “the Garden of Eden” for the soul of the righteous.  And you will also find in the Torah in parashat “Im be-hukotai” that it is promise for the future, the world to come, for it is written there,  “I will look with favor on you,[102]” and this means that “My goodwill [ratzon]will be attached to you,” and the “goodwill” of Ha-Shem (may He be blessed) is the life of the world to come.  This is what is referred to in what is written: “hayyim birtzono” – “When He is pleased, there is life,”[103] and thus it is also written there, “I shall walk about – hithalakhti – in your midst.”[104] And what is destined here is not to be understood in the category of things destined for the body, but rather from things destined for the soul in the world to come, which is what is referred to when it is written: “moving about – mithalekh – in the breezy part of the day.”[105] And our sages interpreted this in a midrash:[106]”‘Va-hithalakhti be-tokhekham -I will walk about in their midst.’  In time to come the Holy One Blessed be He will stroll around with the righteous in the Garden of Eden.” And similarly they said, “In time to come the Holy One Blessed be He will arrange a “greenbelt”[107] for the righteous in the Garden of Eden, and His Presence will be among them.”[108] The achievement of this joy for the souls is compared to an endless eternal “greenbelt,” because the circle goes around a point, and the point is in the center, which is why the Talmud says “His Presence will be among them –beynahem.”  And similarly the Torah specified “in your midst – be-tokhekham,[109] because Israel is compared to circle, and He himself to the center point.  And after it said, “I will walk about in your midst,” it said, “I will be your God,” [110] and our sages z”l interpreted this in a midrash,[111] “And each and every one of them will point to Him with their finger, as it is said, ‘Behold! This is our God!”[112] The word “this” is an allegory for nearing complete intellectual conception, like someone who has knowledge of something that exists and recognizes it clearly, and understands it as distinct from other things. And you [p. 510] should not understand “this” literally, like what you would mean if you were standing in front of a person and pointing them out, but rather, it is like what is meant when the Torah said, “For this man Moses…”[113]who was not standing among them, but about whom they had specific knowledge. From here[114] it should be clear to the enlightened that the world of souls is the “Garden of Eden” for the soul, but Scripture mixes it in the general list of things destined for the body, and depended on the intellect of the enlightened to discern it from them, that it would not be hidden from him as it would be from the masses.

You will find also in the words of Moses at the end of the Torah a promise well-known to be about the world to come, which is what is written, “O happy Israel! Who is like you, A people delivered by the Lord.”[115] Because it specified above the destined physical rewards, when it said, “Thus Israel will dwell in safety, untroubled will be Jacob’s abode, in a land of grain and wine, under heavens dripping dew,”[116] so it connected it immediately to “O Happy Israel!” to say “don’t think that the only recompense and reward you’ll have for doing the mitzvoth will be in this world.”  That’s why it said, “O Happy [ashrekha] Israel,” as our sages taught in a midrash, “‘You shall be happy [ashrekha] and you shall prosper,’[117] ‘You shall be happy’ – in this world, and ‘You shall prosper’ – in the world to come.”[118] And afterwards it said, “Who is like you?”[119] that is to say, who among all the nations is like you will be “delivered by the Lord” – which means the salvation [t’shua’at] of the soul in the world of souls, which is why it said, “delivered [nosha’] by the Lord.”[120] It’s like the similar expression of the prophet: “Israel has been delivered [nosha’] by the Lord, with salvation [t’shuat] everlasting.”[121] And it said, “your protecting shield”[122] because after it specified the reward of the soul and its salvation in the world of souls, it gave a sign for this and said that Ha-Shem  (may He be blessed) is their shield, their protection and their “sword triumphant” [herev ge’utam], [123]that is, something they could be proud [le-hitga’ot] about, hence “your protecting shield.”[124] And this would even include what midat ha-din above is called – magen – “shield”, because one usually holds a shield in the left hand,  and He keeps us safe with it so that by protecting us, we need not be afraid of the enemy overpowering it, and so David said, “You have granted me the shield of Your protection – magen yish’ekha[125] – the shield which protects You.  And he explained further, “For YHWH God is sun and shield,”[126] that is, “the Great Name” [of YHWH], the quality of Jacob, which is called “sun.”[127] And so our rabbis z”l taught in a midrash, “Jacob said, ‘Who revealed to him [Joseph] that my name [sh’my] was ‘sun’?”[128] And he called the heavenly midat ha-din “shield,” and this what is meant by “For YHWH God is sun and shield;”[129] this is why it is specified “Your protecting shield, your sword of pride”[130] because of Israel having this eternal success and ultimate victory over all their enemies.  So all this is a sign that they are attached to and will be delivered by Ha-Shem in the world of souls.  If so, then the account of the things destined for the soul in the Torah are only there by analogy and as a sign, so set your heart to the words of Moses, how he wanted on the day of his death to “seal” his words in the upper world – understand this!

And now that I have explained the topic of the world of souls, which is called “Garden of Eden” among our rabbis z”l, and I have revealed to you the reason why the Torah did not mention it explicitly except to the “engaged intellectual” (lamaskil ha-nilvav), I will now expand upon for you my explanation of the matter of the pleasure that will be experienced in the measure it was originally experienced by Adam in the Garden of Eden before the sin, in that you already knew that the nature of the pleasure there was very great and deep, and that the greater part of it was the soul’s pleasure, the lesser the pleasure of the body, which had quiet, ease, and peace of mind unlike any you can imagine, and because he was all intellectual -body and soul in complete agreement to conceive of his Creator, and even the power of the Tree of Life to cause eternal life was at first not kept from him, but after the sin, when he ate from the Tree of Knowledge – it was only after this eating that he was made to follow his desires and strive for the needs of the body more than the needs of the soul, acting “all as we act now here today.”[131] And therefore he had to have his days limited [p. 511] and for death to hold sway over him. But before the sin, he could take pleasure in the Garden of Eden and delight himself as he wished, and this it what meant by, “And He placed him in the Garden of Eden to till it and tend it,”[132] that He placed him in the Garden of Eden so that he would work the soil of the Garden, and sow in it every kind of produce, and plant all kinds of fruit trees, and his sustenance came from the trees of the Garden, and his drink from the rivers of Eden.  And his clothes were “the clouds of glory,” until the ministering angels got jealous of his status, and things changed for the reasons you know.[133] It is to this status and to this measure of joy that the dead who are resurrected will in time to come return, to take delight in together in both body and soul, and the greater part of the pleasure will be the soul’s, the lesser part the body’s, as it was with Adam before the sin.  Therefore, it will be necessary for any one among those raised from the dead to live a long or eternal life, for thus the world will return to its perfection as its Creator (may He be exalted) originally intended.

And if you think and “your heart carries you away”[134] to say, what need is there for the resurrection of the dead since the souls are already on the level of the heavenly hosts, assembled in awesome view of Ha-Shem the King of the hosts,[135] those of the completely righteous who served Him lovingly with sincere hearts in this world?  Is it proper for the Holy One Blessed be He to perform this miracle upon them, to make them live again after they died?  Wouldn’t it be better to remain in their honored and pure place in the upper palace in heaven than to return to their body to dwell in a “house of clay,”[136] even if these dwellings were precious, “trimmed to give shape to a palace,”[137] brilliant with precious stones, as I mentioned above?

Now I shall enlighten and illuminate for you the answer to this question.  It is because when a person is taken up from this world to the world of souls, which is right as he dies, this is called k’vod Ha-Shem – “the Glory of theLord,”[138] and from there, the world of souls, the soul is elevated to take delight in tzrur ha-hayyim – “the bundle of life”[139] – which is called “netzah” – “forever” – like it is used in the verse “You will make known to me the path of life.  In Your presence is perfect joy, delights are forever [netzah] in Your right hand.”[140] And if it is fit to stay there forever, it stays there without a break, for this is what our rabbis z”l said,[141] “Every place where the words netzah, selah, and va-ed are used [in Scripture] it means without interruption forever.”  And when the soul is not fit to stay there,  but ought to receive what it deserves in the world of bodies measure for measure,  you see it has to return to this world for the resurrection of the dead, to get its due with the body in the world of bodies.  And this is why it is written, “Many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth will awake.”[142] It didn’t say “all of those that sleep,” but “many of those” – and they, the ones who are not fit to prolong their days in the “bundle of life” return in the resurrection of the dead and there receive their due, and concentrate on comprehending Him (may He be blessed), and are refined in the elevation of their comprehension and knowledge, until they are fit to return there, and after returning there they are elevated to the invisible world, which is what is written: “He [God] will lead us beyond death.”[143]

And you need to understand the statement our rabbis z”l made: “The righteous who in time to come will live again do not return to their ‘dust,’ but rather will keep on lasting, as it is said, ‘And those who remain in Zion, and are left in Jerusalem…shall be called holy.’[144] Just as the Holy lasts forever, so the righteous in time to come will live and last forever, as they explained in a midrash in the Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin.[145] And in another place they taught in a midrash: “The dead whom the Holy One Blessed be He will in time to come bring back to life do not return [p. 512] to ‘their dust,” but rather will last forever, and delight themselves in seven huppot – wedding canopies.[146] And this is the explanation of the matter and the secret of the statement, for the decree of Scripture: “For dust you are, and to dust you shall return,”[147] is only from the perspective of the original sin, but when sin is taken away and “He will destroy death forever,”[148] and the day “will return to its normal state [le-eitano] in the morning,”[149] that is, the strength of the world,[150] and no one will be able to lead into sin any work of the hands of the Lord (may He be blessed), for the Accuser will  be gone in the blink of an eye – therefore they do not return to the dust forever.  For when sin is taken away and cancelled, so the decree is cancelled, and so they do not return to ‘their dust.”  But even though they never return to their dust, you shouldn’t understand this to mean that their bodies keep existing as real flesh and blood, with muscles and bones, as we are now.  But rather, they will have earned  the capacity to take on some sort of transformation, but it won’t ever be returning back to their dust.  Thus, it is necessary for anyone with a clear mind to understand, and not to deceive himself with the “king’s food” of his desires and “wine he drank,”[151] nor be seduced by the sort of things fools and those stuck in the “slimy depths”[152] of their ignorance are seduced by.

And you ought to know that at the intellectual meal which is for the soul alone, prepared for the righteous in the world of souls or in the life of the world to come, the righteous are not all equal in this, but there is a hierarchy of status, one above the other.  And thus they interpreted “sove’a’ semahot[153] – “perfect joy” in a midrash in Sifre:[154] “The faces of the righteous in time to come will be like the sun, the moon, the horizon, the stars, lightning, flowers, and the menorot of the Temple.”  And likewise they said in Seder Eliahu Zuta,[155] “The righteous have seven huppot in the Garden of Eden, as it is said, ‘The Lord will create over the whole shrine and meeting place of Mt. Zion cloud by day, and smoke with a glow of flaming fire by night, etc.”[156] It was this that was referred to when the Holy One Blessed be He promised Abraham Our Father in the “Covenant between the pieces” when He said to him, “Count the stars,” and “So shall your offspring be,”[157] that is to say, just as the stars are arranged by levels,  each star’s light greater than its neighbor, with some below it and some above, so in time to come your offspring will be arranged in levels, based on their light of Torah and wisdom, each one greater than the other, each one above the other. And thus in the light of the world to come, the level of the righteous will be one above the other, some of them worthy of the “glass that does not reflect”[158], others “the glass which does reflect,” some that go up inside, that is, have permission to, and others who do not go up inside.  And all of this they described in a midrash in Tractate Sukkah,[159] “The row [of righteous men immediately] before the Holy One, blessed be He, consists of eighteen thousand, for it is said, ‘It shall be eighteen thousand round about,'”[160] which Rashi explained as “eighteen thousand of the righteous surrounding the Shekhinah.”[161] And the explanation of his explanation is that they do so at each of the four winds of the world, and if so, each wind has four thousand five hundred righteous people, and this is what “eighteen thousand round about”[162] refers to.  And this is why they taught this midrash in the first chapter of Tractate Avodah Zarah:

“He [God] floats about through eighteen thousand worlds that He created,”[163] that is, He walks around among the righteous, because each righteous person has his own world. And understand this, for there is no need to lengthen or expand this explanation further.  And there are also the great righteous ones above all the rest, who are able to look at “the reflecting mirror” and enter without needing permission, and about them Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai said,[164] “I have seen [p. 513] the benei-aliyah [“the elite”] and they are few in number, because the righteous who enter into this small realm are the thirty-six in every generation, as it is said, “Happy are those who wait for Him!”[165] And as we said there,[166] “Who wait for Him [lo]” – lo [lamed vav] in Gematria is thirty-six, but they are called “benei aliyah,” because they are among the few who can enter without permission.

And now I shall make known to you the subject of the upper light, which I mentioned above, and that’s how I will end this Gate.  Know that the upper light I mentioned above is called “day” [yom] in the story of creation, and about it the prophet said, “there shall be one day – only the Lord knows when – of neither day nor night, and there will be light at evening time.”[167] The explanation of this verse: “There will be [ve-hayah] one day”.  The word Ve-HaYa”H consists of the same letters of God’s proper name, and so it is written “YHVH is my light and my help, whom shall I fear? YHVH, etc.”[168] “One day of light – only the Lord knows” – He alone knows where it is.  As they taught in a midrash, “He hid it for Himself, He made it separate for Himself.”[169] “Neither day nor night” – that is to say, a time will come when this day shall serve for the righteous, and time won’t consist of day and night like it works now with light and darkness, but rather, “there will be light at evening time” – a great light. And “evening” [‘erev] is the secret of “the sixth aleph,” which is the evening of Shabbat, as in “yom ha-shishi” – “the sixth day.”  And this is the light that Moses our Rabbi (peace upon him)  earned in “the cleft of the rock,”[170]”the reflecting mirror”[171] out of which he was able to prophesy, and thus earned the “radiation from the skin of his face”[172] that was as bright as “the face of the sun.”[173] And in an interpretation they said, “a variety of the upper light is the globe of the sun,”[174] because the light of this level is the level of Moses’ prophecy, and the globe of the sun, which is a variety of this, is the “radiation from the skin of his face.”  And this is what is written, “rays [karnayyim] given off from every side, and therein His glory is enveloped,”[175] that is, the “radiation from the skin of his face.”  This came directly from the hand of the Holy One Blessed be He to Moses, and this radiation is the fruit of what was his in this world, distinct from the eternal radiance that would be his in the world to come, and that is the level of the upper light.  If so, then the word “karnayyim” – “rays” -includes both the fruit and the eternal radiance.[176] And all this was because of the tablets – luhot – that he was holding.  And so this is hinted at in the word “LU’a”H,” which is an acronym of the words in Habakkuk 3:4: karnayyim mi-yado Lo Ve-sham Hevyon ‘uzo. And they said in a midrash, [177] “‘[They saw] the rays of the skin of his face,’[178] all the majesty that Moses got was but temporary fruit, a gift he earned, but the eternal radiance would be his in the world to come, as it is said, ‘rays [karnayyim] from His hand to him.'”[179] And they went on in another midrash,[180] “‘I will put you in a cleft of a rock’ – from ‘the cleft of the rock’ Moses earned the radiation from the skin of his face, and thus it says,  ‘rays from His hand to him, there from a secret place [hevyon] His glory.'”[181]

So this book is now finished, built upon precious sayings. With these words the enlightened[182] will discern when they’re eating, may they make themselves holy and their minds burnished fully. With these words engaged, may they be at their table; raise their table’s renown so that “all shall say ‘Glory!'”[183] Let their hearts be made pure, to withstand any test. “By these raise up the table,”[184] so that “before the Lord”[185] is its label. This table is greater than the table of kings, “he shall be permitted to join those attending,”[186]and to be lifted in honor to gaze on[187] the face of “David among the lilies grazing,” to earn “the three-legged table” [188] of gold ablazing. They will earn the physical and intellectual meals, and be counted [p. 514] among the benei aliyah.  Blessed is the Lord who has refined His servants to perfect us, whose love for us even preceded us; may He bring us to see wonders from His Torah, the foundation of His Temple, the place of the ark and the tablets, the menorah and table and the altars. May our betrayals and sins be atoned for and forgiven, may prosperity be ours – from God’s hand gladly given.[189] Among the saints may He raise and lift us, “west and south”[190] may He gift us.  From the abundance of His love may He redeem our soul[191] from Sheol when He takes it, by His counsel may He guide us[192] to the “delights ever in His right hand.”[193] May he encompass us with favor, [194] in the “bundle of life” may He hide us,[195] in the path of life may He guide us, and grant us what is written, “For God is our God forever; He will guide us even beyond death.”[196]


[1]Ps 50:10.

[2] Ex. 16:31.

[3] Eccl. 11:7.

[4] Is. 11.9.

[5] Ps. 81:7.

[6] Ex 17:16. Both kise and Yah are spelled defectively, that is without an aleph and hay respectively, according to R. Bahya’s midrashic reading of Ex 17:16 and the Kaddish.  See Mahzor Vitry.

[7] Ex 15:25, which R. Bahya understands to apply to the Garden of Eden as well, not just to the grumbling Israelites’ experience in the desert.

[8] Mekhilta Be-Shalah Vayisa’ 1.

[9] Ex 15:25.

[10] A kind of ivy with berries poisonous to animals.

[11] According to the Mekhilta, ibid., there is no wood more bitter than olive wood.

[12] 2 Kings 2:19.

[13] Ibid. 2:20.

[14] Ibid., 2:22.

[15] Mekhilta, ibid.

[16] Ex 15:25.

[17] Ex 15:25.  Actually, va-yorehu is just a defective spelling of va-yarehu, and so its literal meaning is the same: “He showed him,” but R. Bahya exploits the spelling anomaly for the sake of midrash.

[18] Here R. Bahya is drawing upon the classic Jewish medieval philosophical distinction between laws whose rationale are not immediately accessible to reason – “hukim” (e.g., the rules of kashrut) and those which any rational being would derive through reason – “mishpatim” (e.g., “Thou shalt not kill”).  The Torah consists of both types of laws, but the hukim are known to us only because God revealed them.  R. Bahya suggests here that the “laws of nature” (e.g., the nature of plants in this case) are analogous to laws governing human behavior – mitzvot. In other words, eh believe we can discern some qualities of the natural world through natural science, but other qualities are made known to us only through supernatural revelation.

[19] Ex 15:26.

[20] Job 12:10.

[21] B. Pesahim 56a.

[22] B. Baba Batra 75a.

[23] Job 40:30: literally, “Shall traders traffic in him?” (JSB).

[24] 2 Kg 6:23.

[25] Song of Songs 8:13.

[26] Job 40:30. R. Bahya omits the Talmud’s explanation of kena’anim: “Kena’anim must mean merchants, for it is said: “a trader [kena’an] with balances of deceit in his hand; he loves to oppress.’ (Hos 12:8) And if you wish, you may infer it from the following: ‘Whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers [kena’anim] are the honorable of the earth.'(Is 23:8)” b. Baba Batra 75a.

[27] Lev 11:8.

[28] Job 40:31.  Sukkot here is spelled with a sin, not a samekh as in sukkah meaning “tent,” and means “darts.”  Thus, the meaning of the verse in context is “Can you fill his skin with darts?”

[29] Job 30:41. R. Bahya following the Talmud takes the two parts of this verse in Job as contrasting: the first part hints at the reward of the worthy, the second part to the punishment of the unworthy – “shade.” After this he skips a few lines of Talmud that expand on this theme of the worthy and unworthy’s “rewards.”

[30] Is 60:3, in b. Baba Batra 75a.

[31] In his insistence on the literal meaning of the Talmudic description of the banquets in the world to come, R. Bahya follows the position of his teacher, R. Solomon ben Adret (Chavel). However, there’s a certain irony here that R. Bahya uses rather non-literal midrashic interpretations of scriptural verses to support his contention that the statements about the food and setting of the banquets in the world to come are indeed to be taken quite literally.

[32] Mal 3:18.

[33] Is 65:13-14.

[34] B. Sanhedrin 100a, a well-known passage from the Talmud describing the world to come.

[35] B. Baba Batra 75a.

[36] Lev 26:13, literally, “I will make you walk erect” (JSB), but the midrash plays on the similarity between komamiyut “erect” and komot – “height.”

[37] Ps 144:22.

[38] B. Baba Batra, ibid.

[39] Is 54:12.

[40] B. M.K. 16b.

[41] Dt 32:32, from the future promises enumerated in Deuteronomy.

[42] 1 Kings 15:5, and see the story in 2 Samuel chapters 11-12. King David fell in love with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, and so sent Uriah off to the front lines of battle to be killed so that he could marry her.

[43] B. Sanhedrin 38b.

[44] From his original height which originally stretched from one end of the earth to the other, according to this midrash!

[45] Ps 129:5.

[46] Literally, “great as the hand of the King (may He be blessed)” [could give].

[47] Gen 49:10.

[48] Ibid.

[49] The etymology which the Torah has Pharoah’s daughter give for Moses’ name: “Moshe because I drew him out [mashiti-hu] of the water.”  However, the Aramaic for mashiti-hu, shihaltay, is related to the word shilulah, which sounds like “Shiloh;” hence Shiloh refers to Moses, according to the midrash.

[50] Ex 33:18.

[51] Ibid., 33:20.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Sifra, beginning of Vayikra 2.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Though it doesn’t appear in the printed editions of Deuteronomy Rabbah (Chavel).

[56] Ps 31:20.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Joel 3:1.

[59]Lev. R. 13:3.

[60]Job 41:15.

[61] Job 41:22.

[62] In other words, R. Bahya takes these particulars of the Book of Job’s lengthy description of Leviathan as references to its fins and scales.

[63] According to b. Shabbat 146a: When the serpent came upon Eve, he infected her with zohama’ (“filth” or “moral lasciviousness”). Israel, who stood at Mt. Sinai – their filth ceased.  The nations of the world, who did not stand at Mt. Sinai – their filth has not ceased. Thus, R. Bahya must be referring to the cessation of the whole world’s moral rot that will occur in the world to come after the resurrection of the dead (Chavel).

[64] 1 Kg 5:18.

[65] Jer 31:21.

[66] An allusion to Ps 103:5: “He satisfies you with good things in the prime of life so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

[67] SS 7:2.

[68] B. Sanhedrin 91a: “Just as vessels of glass, which are the work of the breath of flesh and blood, are broken and it is possible to repair them, how much the more so with flesh and blood, who were through the breath of the Holy One Blessed be He.”

[69] B. Berakhot 17a.

[70] Ex 34:28: “And [Moses] was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he ate no bread and drank no water;” 1 Kg 19:8: “And with the strength from that meal [Elijah] walked forty days and forty nights.”

[71] Is 28:5.

[72] I.e., these crowns of light will be so commonplace among those rewarded with them that they’d think nothing of it.

[73] Ex 33:6. That is, the finery must have already been given to them at Mt. Horeb (Sinai), if now, after the sin of the Golden Calf, it was stripped from them.

[74] Exodus Rabbah 45:1.

[75] Ex 33:5-6.  “And Moses took the tent” immediately follows “from Horeb,” and this juxtaposition implies that Moses took back what the Israel got “from Horeb” but lost after that because of the sin of the calf (Chavel).

[76] Job 29:3.  By “creative philology” the midrash associates the similarly sounding words ha-ohel – “the tent” and be-halo – “when it shone.”

[77] SS 5:3.

[78] Ibid.

[79] I.e., to stay in the world of souls – as only a soul, rather than return to the body, in the world of the resurrection (Chavel).

[80] Eccl 8:4.

[81] B. Pesahim 119b.

[82] Gen 21:8.

[83] Ps 116:13.

[84] B. Yoma 76a.

[85] Ps 23:5.

[86] B. Sanhedrin 102a.

[87] “Kol hakham lev,” any “artistic genius.” R. Bahya uses an expression from Ex 31:3-5 that describes the great architect and builders of the mishkan, Bezalel and his assistants: “I have filled him [Bezalel] with a divine spirit of skill [hakhmah]…to make designs…and work in every kind of craft.  Moreover I have assigned to him Oholiab…and I have granted skill [hakhmah] to all who are skillful [kol hakham lev]…”

[88] Jer 10:14.

[89] B. Sanhedrin 99a.

[90] Ps 19:8.

[91] B. Sukkah 46b.  The expression “sages of the truth” is an epithet for the Talmudic sages who received the Oral Torah, which is the truth, to explain the Written Torah. Rabbenu Bahya frequently employs this expression in his books (Chavel, p. 508).

[92] Ex 15:26.

[93] Lev 26:4.

[94] This expression from R. Bahya ibn Pakuda’s Duties of the Heart -(Hovot ha-Levavot), Sha’ar Yihud Chapter 1, plays on the connection to “heart”, and refers to someone philosophically trained but also “with a heart” – that is, emotionally engaged, not intellectually distant.  He says the “maskil nilvav will strive to strip the shells of the words and their materiality from the subject.”  In other words, it is out of emotionally longing to connect to God, that he will use philosophy to strip away the linguistic and material obstacles to that connection.

[95] Prov 30:33.

[96] Chavel thinks R. Bahya has in mind this midrash on Prov 30:33 in b. Berakhot 63b: “‘As milk under pressure produces butter’ – In whom do find the butter of Torah? In him who spits up the milk he suckled from his mother for it.”

[97] M. Avot 5 (end). I think R. Bahya means by this analogy that the baby “churns” his mother’s milk in his mouth and turns it into butter, and similarly the engaged intellectual “churns” Torah by “turning it and turning it” and so turns it into “the butter of Torah.” Similarly, medieval Christian monastic educators described the active process of reading as “rumination.”

[98]Gen 5:24: va-yithalakh Hanokh et ha-elohim.

[99] Targum Onkelos Gen 5:24: Ve-halikh hanokh be-dahalta’ d’YHVH.

[100] 2 Samuel 23:3.

[101] Gen 5:24.

[102] Lev 26:9.

[103] Ps 30:6.

[104] Lev 26:12

[105] Gen 3:8: “They [Adam and Eve] heard the sound of the Lord God moving about [mithalekh] in the garden at the breezy time of the day.”

[106] Sifra Be-Hukkotai Chapter 3.

[107] Mahol- untilled land surrounding a vineyard (Jastrow).  However, mahol has the additional connotation of a chorus of singers and dancers, so R. Bahya may also be alluding to the “Mahanayyim dance” he mentioned in the First Gate.  In any case, the main point of this image is that it is circular, with God in the center.  The “choreography” of the souls of the “Garden of Eden”, is that they will be arranged in a circle with God in the center, as R. Bahya goes on to explain.

[108] B. Ta’anit 3a.

[109] Lev 26:12.

[110] Ibid.

[111] B. Taanit 31a.

[112] Is 25:9.

[113] Ex 32:1: “When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, the people gathered against Aaron and said to him, ‘Come make us a god who shall go before us, for this man Moses, who brought us from the land of Egypt – we do not know what happened to him”

[114] From the expression “I shall walk about in your midst” in Lev 26:12.

[115] Dt 33:29.

[116] Ibid., 33:28.

[117] Ps 128:2.

[118] M. Avot 4:1.

[119] Dt 33:29.

[120] Ibid.

[121] Is 45:17: literally “salvation of the worlds” – t’shuat olamim­ – the plural of which R. Bahya without a doubt understands as an allusion to salvation in both worlds – this world and the world to come.

[122] Dt 33:29.

[123] Ibid., literally, “the sword of your pride.”

[124] Ibid.

[125] 2 Sam 22:36, or “shield of Your salvation.”

[126] Ps 84:12.

[127] E.g., in Joseph’s dream, Gen 37:9, where the sun clearly stands for Jacob.  I think R. Bahya means that “sun” is expression for God’s other main attribute, His “right hand” – midat ha-rahamim.  Thus, when David referred to “Lord God” as “sun and shield” in Ps 84:12, from a kabbalistic perspective, it’s a reference to God having both midat ha-din and midat ha-rahamim, the attribute of severity and the attribute of compassion. I.e., YHWH (“Lord”) = “sun” = “Jacob” = midat ha-rahamim, while Elohim (“God”) = “shield” = midat ha-din.

[128] Bereshit Rabba 84:10. Or as R. Bahya  interprets it, sh’my= shem Y’, “the great name of YHWH.”

[129] Ps 84:12.

[130] Dt 33:29.

[131] Dt 12:8

[132] Gen 2:15.

[133] According to the story in Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer 13, it was the angel’s jealousy of Adam that led them to tempt Adam and Eve through the serpent.

[134] Job 15:12.

[135] There’s a untranslatable play of words here on tzeva’ot (armies – as in “the heavenly hosts”) and tzov’ot be-mar’ot (“assembled in view of”), an allusion to the mar’ot tzov’ot (“the mirrors of the assembled women”) at the Tent of Meeting in Ex 38:8.

[136] An allusion to Job 4:19.

[137] Ps 144;12.

[138] As is described in Is 58:8, when “Your Vindicator shall march before, and the k’vod Ha-Shem – the Glory (or Presence) of the Lord – shall gather you up.” (Chavel).

[139] From the expression in 1 Sam 25:28: “the soul … will be bound up in the bundle of life” (nefesh …tzrurah be-tzror ha-hayyim), which is used in the prayer for the dead El  Male’ Rahamim to describe where the souls of the departed go.

[140] Ps 16:11.

[141] B. Erubin 54a.

[142] Dan 12:2.

[143] Ps 48:15.

[144] Is 4:3.

[145] B. Sanhedrin 92a: “Raba said: Whence is resurrection derived from the Torah? … Rabina said, [it is derived] from this verse, ‘And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.’ (Dan 12:2.)

[146] B. Baba Batra 75a.

[147] Gen 3:19.

[148] Is  25:8.

[149] An allusion to the miraculous parting of the Red Sea in Ex. 14:27, playing on the verbal similarity between yom – “day” and yam – “sea.” I.e., Ex 14:27: “the sea [yam] returned to its normal state in the morning.”

[150] Because according to Mekhilta Be-Shalah on Ex  14:27, eyn eitano ela’ tokfo, wherever it says eitano, it means “its strength” – tokfo.

[151] An allusion to Dan 1:5.

[152] Ps 69:2.

[153] An expression in Ps 16:11: “You will teach me the path of life. In your presence is perfect joy – sove’a’ semahot.”

[154] Sifre Devarim 10.

[155] Chavel says he couldn’t find this tradition in Seder Eliahu Zuta, but it is in b. Baba Batra 75a.

[156] Is 4:5: “The Lord will create over the whole shrine and meeting place of Mt. Zion cloud by day, and smoke with a glow of flaming fire by night.  Indeed, over each ‘glory’ (kavod) will hang a huppah.”  Cf Is 4:1: “In that day seven women shall take hold of one man…”  You can see where the midrash gets the idea of seven wedding huppot in the future to come. So Rashi explains in a comment to b. Baba Batra 75a: “Indeed over each glory (or honor ) will hang a huppah: (1) “the cloud by day,” (2) “smoke”, (3) “glow”, (4) “fire”, (5) “flaming”, (6) “over each glory”, and (7) “huppah.”  But “over each glory” doesn’t seem to belong to this count, but rather the “sukkah which will serve for shade by day” which follows immediately in the next verse (Is 4:6), making seven.

[157] Gen 15:5.

[158] That is, the least obstructed view of God.  See the Second Gate (pp. 492-3).

[159] B.Sukkah 45b.

[160] Ez 48:35.

[161] Rashi’s comment to B.Sukkah 45b.

[162] Ez 48:35.

[163] B. Avodah Zarah 3b, an account of God’s activities in the world to come.

[164] B. Sukkah 45b.

[165] Is 30:18.  The 36 are the “Lamed-Vavniks” of legend, the 36 zaddikim hidden in each generation, by virtue of whose actions the world deserves to exist.

[166] B. Sukkah 45b.

[167] Zech 14:7 (JSB).

[168] Ps 27:1. This is YHVH is “light.”

[169] Ber. R. 3:7.

[170] Ex 33:22.

[171] B. Yebamot 49b.

[172] Ex 34:29.

[173] B. Baba Batra 75a.

[174] Ber. R. 17:7 (as translated by Jastrow).

[175] Hab 3:4.

[176] Karnayyim is the dual form of keren, which can mean either “ray”, or more ordinarily, “horn.”  From this ambiguity comes the misinterpretation of Ex 34:29 that led artists such as Michelangelo to represent Moses with horns coming out of his forehead. R. Bahya is playing upon the dual form of keren, karnayyim, which is the normal plural form for body parts, like horns, which come in pairs.

[177] M. Tanhuma Ki Tisa 37.

[178] Ex 34:30.

[179] Hab 3:4, reading mi-yado midrashically as “from His [God’s] hand,” i.e., two kinds of “rays” one in this world, one in the world to come, from God’s hand to Moses.

[180] M. Tanhuma Ki Tisa 37.

[181] Hab 3:4.

[182] Lit., ha-maskil be-hakhmah, one “enlightened with wisdom, i.e., the wisdom of Kabbalah (Chavel).

[183] An allusion to Ps 29:9: kulo ‘omer kavod.

[184] Ex 28:28

[185] Ez 41:22

[186] An allusion to the reward of the faithful promised in Zech 3:7: “Thus said the Lord of Hosts:  If you walk in My paths and keep My charge, you will in turn rule in My house and guard My courts, and I will permit you to move about among these attendants.”

[187] Or “envision,” because the Hebrew is ye-hazeh, as in hazon “vision,” like the verb in Ex 24:11, with connotation of prophetic vision.

[188] An allusion to what is referred to in B. Ta’anit 25a: “The righteous will in time to come eat at a golden table with three legs.”  See R. Bahya’s Preface, where he explains this idea in his discussion of the fourth reason he gives for calling his book Shulhan Shel Arba. There’s an untranslatable wordplay here with the Hebrew word roe’ (“grazing” or “shepherd”) and the Aramaic word ker’a’ (“leg”): “David among the lilies grazing (roe’)” to earn the table of three legs (ker’a’).

[189] An allusion to Is 54:10.

[190] An allusion to Dt 33:23.

[191] An allusion to Ps 22:21.

[192] An allusion to Ps 73:24.

[193] An allusion to Ps 16:11.

[194] An allusion to Ps 5:13.

[195] As opposed to She’ol – “hell” – as in Job 14:13: “O that You would hide me in Sheol.”

[196] Ps. 48:15.

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