1. TRADITION.--On that day on which the Companions were assembled together in the house of Rabbi Schimeon, and on which he had arranged his affairs because he was about to depart from the world, before him were Rabbi Eleazar his son, and Rabbi Abba, and the rest of the Companions; and the house was full.
2. Therefore lifting up his eyes, Rabbi Schimeon saw that the house was full. And Rabbi Schimeon wept, saying: "The second time when I was sick, and Rabbi Benchas Ben Yair was in my presence, and until I had chosen my place, life hath been prolonged unto me even until now.
3. "When I was restored, fire surrounded (my habitation) which hitherto hath never ceased, neither did any man enter in unto me without permission.
4. "But now I see that it is taken away, and that the house is filled."
5. Whilst they were sitting down, Rabbi Schimeon,
opening his eyes, beheld a certain vision, and lo! fire surrounded the house!
6. Therefore all (the others) went forth, and Rabbi Eleazar his son, and Rabbi Abba remained; but the other Companions sat without.
7. Rabbi Schimeon said unto Rabbi Eleazar his son: "Go forth, and see whether Rabbi Yitzchaq be present, for whom I have made myself surety.
8. "And say thou unto him that he dispose his affairs, and that he may sit down with me. Blessed is his portion."
9. Rabbi Schimeon arose and again sat down; and he laughed aloud, and rejoicing, said: "Where are the Companions?"
10. Rabbi Eleazar arose and introduced them, and they sat down in his presence.
11. Rabbi Schimeon lifted up his hands and prayed a prayer, and was joyful.
12. And he said: "Let those Companions who were in the former Conclave 1 assemble here."
13. Therefore, all the others having gone forth, there remained Rabbi Eleazar his son, and Rabbi Abba, and Rabbi Yehudah, and Rabbi Yosi Bar Yoqeb, and Rabbi Chiya.
14. In the meantime Rabbi Yitzchaq entered, to whom Rabbi Schimeon said: "How excellent is thy lot! How much joy is this day stored up for thee!"
15. Rabbi Abba sat down behind his (i.e., Rabbi Schimeon's) back, and Rabbi Eleazar before him (i.e., Rabbi Schimeon).
16. Rabbi Schimeon spake and said: "Surely now is the time of benevolence, and I desire to enter without confusion into the world to come.
17. "And verily these sacred things, which hereunto have never been revealed, I desire to reveal before the Schekhinah;
18. "Lest they should say that I have kept back anything, and that I have been taken away from the world; for even until now these things have been concealed in my heart, so that having entered into these very matters I may be with them in the world to come.
19. "But this is my arrangement of you; let Rabbi Abba write, and let Rabbi Eleazar my son speak openly; but let the rest of the Companions in silence meditate in their heart."
20. Rabbi Abba arose from his seat behind him, and Rabbi Eleazar his son sat down.
21. He said unto him, "Arise, O my son, for another shall sit in that seat;" and Rabbi Eleazar arose.
22. Rabbi Schimeon covered himself and sat down; and he commenced, and said Ps. cxv. 17: "'The dead shall not praise IH, Yah, nor all they who go down into silence!
23. "'The dead shall not praise Yah; 'so it is certain that it is assuredly those who are called dead; for He, God, the most Holy One--may He be blessed!--is called the Living One, and is Himself commemorated among those who are called living, and not with those who are called dead.
24. "And the end of this text runneth thus: 'Nor all they who go down into silence;' for all they who go down into silence remain in Gehenna.
25. "There is another reason appertaining to those who are called living, for God the must Holy One--may He be blessed!--desireth their glory."
26. Rabbi Schimeon said: "How different is this occasion from that of the former conclave! For into a certain conclave 1 came He, the most Holy and Blessed God, and His Chariot.
27. "Now verily He, the Holy One, is here--may He
be blessed--and He hath approached with those just who are in the Garden of Eden, 1 which did not occur in the former conclave.
28. "And God, the Most Holy One--may He be blessed--more promoteth the glory of the just than His own glory.
29. "As it is written concerning Jeroboam, who sacrificed unto and served other gods, and yet God, the Most Holy One--may He be blessed!--waited for him.
30. "But because he stretched forth his hand against Iddo the prophet, his hand became withered.
31. "For it is written, 1 Kings xiii. 4: 'And his hand became withered, &c. Here it is not written that it was because he served other gods, but because he extended his hand against Iddo the prophet, &c.
32. "Now, therefore, God the Most Holy One--may He be blessed!--promoteth their glory (i.e., that of the just), and they all come with Him,"
33. He said. "Verily, Rav Hamenuna the elder is here, and around him are seventy just represented in his circle, of whom certain shine with the splendour of the Ancient and Most Holy One, the Concealed with all Concealments.
33. 2 He, I say, cometh, in order that with joy he may hear those words which I shall speak."
34. And when he had sat down be said: "Assuredly here a seat hath been set aside for Rabbi Benchas Ben Yair."
35. The companions who were there trembled greatly, and they arose, and sat down in the lower part of the house; but Rabbi Eleazar and Rabbi Abba (still sat) before Rabbi Schimeon.
36. Rabbi Schimeon said: "In the former Assembly we acted thus, namely, that all the companions spoke, and I also with them, by turns.
37. "Now I shall speak alone, and let all hear my words superiors and inferiors; blessed be my portion this day!"
38. Rabbi Schimeon commenced, and said, Cant. vii. 10: "'I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me.'
39. "As long as I have been bound unto this world in one link with God, the Most Holy One--may he be blessed!--have I been bound, and therefore now is His desire towards me.
40. "For He Himself and His whole holy company come, so that with joy they may hear the concealed words, and the praise of Him, the Most Holy Ancient One, the Concealed with all Concealments.
41. "And He separateth Himself ever more and more; He is separated from all things, neither yet doth He altogether separate Himself, seeing that unto Himself all things adhere, and that He Himself adhereth unto all; HVA, Hoa, He Himself is all; He the Most Holy Ancient of all Ancients, the Concealed with all Concealments.
42. "He hath been formed, and yet as it were He hath not been formed. He hath been conformed, so that He may sustain all things; yet is He not formed, seeing that He is not discovered.
43. "When He is conformed He produceth nine Lights, which shine forth from Him, from His conformation.
44. "And from Himself those Lights shine forth, and they emit flames, and they rush forth and are extended on every side, like as from an elevated lantern the rays of. light stream down on every side.
45. "And those rays of light, 1 which are extended, when anyone draweth near unto them, so that they may be examined, are not found, and there is only the lantern alone.
46. "So also is He the Most Holy and Ancient One: He is that highest Light concealed with all concealments,
and He is not found; those rays 1 (proceeding from Him) being excepted, which are extended, which are revealed, and which are hidden.
47. "And they are called the Holy Name, and therefore are all things One.
48. "Which truly our companions have said in former books, that certain paths have been created by the Most Holy Ancient One, who is revealed through them collectively and severally; since they are the conformations of the Most Holy Ancient One, concerning them now there is not time for examination.
49" I have spoken concerning them in the Holy Assembly, and I have beheld that which before I did not understand in such a manner, and I have hidden the matter in my heart.
50. "But now I alone will describe these things before the Holy King, and all those assuredly just men who have assembled to hear these words."
260:1 That is, who had formed part of the Greater Holy Assembly.
261:1 Meaning that the Greater Holy Assembly had been as it were the reflection of the conclave of the Sephiroth above. The word used for "chariot" is not Mercavah, but Rethikh.
262:1 I.e., The Paradise above.
262:2 In the original both this and the foregoing section, apparently by an oversight, have the number 33 attached to them.
263:1 Carrying on the simile of the lantern and its rays.