SAID Rabbi Hezekiah to Rabbi Jose, whom he met when69b travelling from Cappadocia to Hyda and who had expressed surprise at his journeying alone and without any companion with whom to converse, contrary to the usual custom: "I am accompanied by a youth whom I expect to join me presently."
Said Rabbi Jose: "I am still more astonished to find you travelling with a youth who must be wholly unable to converse with you on matters relating to the secret doctrine. To do so, as you are aware is not discreet nor prudent."
"What thou sayest is quite true, replied Rabbi Hezekiah." At that moment the youth joined them.
Said Rabbi Jose: "Where residest thou, my child?"
He replied, at Hyda. This learned man informed me he was traveling thither and it afforded me great pleasure to accompany him thither.
Then Rabbi Jose asked the question: Hast thou any knowledge of the secret doctrine and its teachings?"
"What I know, replied the youth, I have learned from my father, who taught me the meaning of sacrifices, and I have often listened attentively to lessons he gave to my brother."
Then said Rabbi Jose: "Impart to us what thou hast heard and the knowledge thou hast acquired."
The youth spoke and said: "It is written, 'and Noah built an altar unto the Lord, and took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl and offered them a burnt offering on the altar (Gen. VIII. 20). The altar here mentioned was that on which Adam himself had formerly sacrificed. But why offered he a burnt offering instead of a sacrifice? Because it is
that a burnt offering is offered only as expiation of sins committed in thought. This was the case with Noah, for he had said within himself, the Holy One having executed judgment on the world and exterminated all mankind, saving myself, from off the earth, I fear he has forgotten me, so that I shall perish with no hope of reward in the world to come. In imagining this, Noah sinned and therefore in expiation, as soon as he came forth out of the ark, he built an altar and offered a burnt offering unto the Lord. Why did he build it when that whereon Adam had sacrificed yet existed? The reply is that by the action of the deluge everything had been destroyed or overthrown, it was necessary for Noah to rerear it again. It is stated he offered burnt offerings (oloth), which word though in the singular70a is pronounced in the plural; the mystical reason of which is this. It is written, 'The burnt offering or sacrifice is a woman, a female (asheh), a sweet savour unto the Lord' (Lev. I. 17). Now an animal offered as a burnt offering must always be a male, as it is written, 'Let him offer male without blemish' (Lev. I. 17), and also, 'He shall bring a male without blemish.' Wherefore does scripture state, the burnt offering is a female (asheh) which literally designates offerings to be consumed by fire which if this was the true meaning, the word should have been written ash without the final H. The fact is, a burnt offering has for its object the union of the male with the female principle, between which there should never be any separation, and though the word asheh is translated 'consumed' yet, according to tradition, it has a mystical meaning not generally known. It was necessary for Noah to offer up a burnt offering as he represented the male principle which the Holy One joined and united with the ark, a symbol of the female. The offering Noah made was therefore a symbol of this union of these two principles, and this is the reason why the burnt offering (olah) is called asheh (female). Scripture further states, 'And the Lord smelled a sweet savour,' and Asheh is also called so. Respecting this 'asheh' we have been taught that the smoke and flame are so united and conjoined that the one is never without the other; as it is written, 'and Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire' (Ex. XIX. 18). Observe that fire, being an element of rare subtlety, is in itself invisible like heat to the naked eye and continues so until, its vibrations becoming increased and intensified, it comes forth from the body or substance in which it lies
concealed and then manifests itself. When this occurs, its existence is only detected and recognized by smoke proceeding from the body in which it lies latent, as breath exhaled from the nostrils is indicative of the fire latent in the body; and so scripture states, 'They shall put incense in thy nostrils' (Deuter XXXIII. 10), because fire returns to its place of origin and the nostrils sensing its odour give rise to thoughts, feelings and70a desires, becoming, as it is written, 'A sweet savour, 'nihoah,' a something that allays wrath, calms anger and restores peace; and when the fire and smoke are unified, joy becomes universal, the fire appears with greater brilliancy, and God smells a 'sweet savour' as though he breathed in and absorbed all into himself.
As the youth ceased speaking, Rabbi Jose embraced him and said: "What a treasury of knowledge thou possessest, and we knew it not. We will return and go with you further." And so they journeyed together.
Said Rabbi Hezekiah: "May the Schekina go with us, for we have enjoyed the privilege of acquiring knowledge of mysteries, of which we were wholly ignorant." Taking then the youth by the hand they entreated him to recite verses and texts of scripture, the interpretation of which he had learned from his father.
Yielding to their request the youth said: "It is written, 'He shall kiss me with the kisses of his mouth' (Cant. I. 2). These words refer to the heavenly desire that cometh not from the fire of the nostrils but from the mouth, for when the lips meet and touch, love is engendered and felt as a fire enlightening the face, whilst the eyes become suffused with joy and delight; and, therefore, it is further added, 'for thy love is better than wine,' meaning the wine which makes the heart pulsate with joy and the features glow with delight and the eyes of those who drink thereof to glisten with rapture, altogether different from the intoxicant that excites quarrels, sours the visage, making it appear dull and heavy. The wine spoken of in this verse is good. It brightens the countenance, brings a mystic light into the eves, excites love and desire and fills the hearts of all who drink it with feelings of inexpressible joy and ecstasy and is symbolized by the libations of the words, 'thy love is better than wine.' For, according to the aphorism, 'As above, so below,' there is a joint conformity between the two worlds, when desire is excited in the one, so is
it in the other. They may be compared to two lighted candles, when that above is extinguished, the flame of that below mounting up in the smoke of the burnt offering enkindles it again."
Said Rabbi Hezekiah: "It is truly so, for the two worlds are blended and dependent the one on the other, and it was owing to the disharmony between them when the temple at Jerusalem was destroyed that blessings from heaven have not descended and prevailed throughout the world."
Said Rabbi Jose: "Because the source of all blessings is dried up, maledictions and afflictions are so widely rampant and Israel no longer dwells on the earth discharging duties necessary to keep the candles burning and so obtain and enjoy those heavenly benedictions, from the lack of which the earth no longer exists in her primal and normal state of peace and happiness."
Said Rabbi Hezekiah: "It is written, 'And the Lord70b said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake' (Gen. VIII. 21). What do these words mean?"
Said Rabbi Jose: "I have heard Rabbi Simeon say, 'When fire from heaven is intense and comes into contact with matter, it produces a thick smoke that is exceedingly harmful to the world; and the more its heat falls on mankind the more injurious it is to them, on account of the smoke sent forth by which they are suffocated and destroyed. But, when it is moderate and not in excess, it is no longer a destructive agent.' The meaning of the words to asiph (will not again) is, 'I will not augment the heat that I send unto the world below and which on coming into contact with the matter of the earth gives rise to smoke that is deleterious and destructive to life.'"
The youth again spoke and said: "I have heard that when God said unto Adam, 'Cursed is the ground for thy sake,' the evil spirit then obtained power to rule over the earth and also to destroy and afflict mankind dwelling thereon. But from the day that Noah offered a burnt offering and the Holy One smelled 'a sweet savour,' the earth became endowed with the power of freeing itself from the yoke of the serpent and of purifying itself from the infection with which it was tainted; and for this reason it is that Israelites offer burnt offerings to the Holy One, in order to enlighten the face of the earth."
Said Rabbi Hezekiah: "That is true, but the earth did not become wholly purified until the Israelites arrived and stood at the foot of Mount Sinai."
Said Rabbi Jose: "The Holy One diminished the light of the moon and gave the serpent power to rule over the earth because of the sin of Adam, through which all creatures on it became cursed and remained so, up to the sacrifice offered by Noah. The moon, however, still retains its horned limbs, except when sacrifices were offered up, and Israel became an inhabitant of the earth."
Said Rabbi Jose to the youth: "What is your name?" He replied: "Abba (father)."
"May you," said Rabbi Jose, "become a father in everything--in wisdom as in years--and may it be said of thee, 'Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice'" (Prov. XXIII. 25).
Said Rabbi Hezekiah: "The Holy One is arranging and planning to drive the death angel out of the world, for70b it is written, 'And I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the world,' (Zach. XIII. 2) 'and death also shall be swallowed up forever, and the Lord God shall wipe away tears from all eyes and take away from the earth the shame of his people, for the Lord hath spoken it.'Is. 25:8 The day will surely dawn when the Holy One will cause the moon to shine as the sun and, though at present bedimmed by the serpent and shorn of its radiancy, it shall regain its former light, as saith the scripture, 'And the light of the moon shall be like that of the sun, and the light of the sun sevenfold as the light of seven days' (Is. XXX. 26). That is, as the light which the Holy One hid at the conclusion of the seven days of creation for the enjoyment of the righteous."
"And God blessed Noah and his sons and said, be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth."Gen 9:1