Rabbi Eleazar was once staying at a wayside inn in Lud, where he met with Rabbi Hezekiah. At midnight, as was his custom, he arose to meditate on the Secret Doctrine. His fellow student did the same.
Said Rabbi Eleazar: "An inn affords good opportunities to students for meeting together. It is written, 'As the apple tree amongst the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the children of men. I sat me down under his shadow with great delight and his fruit was sweet to my taste' (Cant. II. 3). The esoteric meaning of these words is this: The apple tree that is distinguished by its color from all other trees in the woods refers to the Holy One, the most desired of all beings. Therefore it is said, 'I sat me down under his shadow,' that is, under the divine and not of any other inferior celestial ruler. 'His shadow,' since when? From the time that Abraham appeared in the world, of whom it is written, 'Abraham my friend' (Is. XL. 8).Is. 41:8 The words, 'and his fruit was sweet to my taste,' refer to Isaac, who was holy fruit. Another interpretation of 'I sat me down under his shadow with great delight' is that they refer to Jacob, as it is written, 'These are the children of Jacob,' whilst 'his fruit was sweet to my taste' denote Joseph, whose children were the quintessence of the descendants of Jacob, and because of this were called by the name of Ephraim,
as it is stated, 'Ephraim my dear son' (Jer. XXXI. 20). Also85-85b Abraham may be likened unto the apple tree among the trees of the wood, for his pure life was as a sweet perfume. By his faith and obedience to the Holy One he far excelled others both in the world on high as those in the world below, and thus became distinguished as Abraham the Unique, to whom no man that has ever rested in the world is to be compared."
Said Rabbi Hezekiah: "Do not the words, 'The souls that they had gotten in Haran,' indicate that they were individuals who had attained the true faith, the same as Abraham?"
Said Rabbi Eleazar: "They certainly refer to those who were converts to. Abraham's faith, yet they never attained unto his excellency in the divine life."
Rabbi Eleazar here for some moments remained silent, and then said: "It has just been said unto me that Abraham was not termed 'Unique' until after the birth of Isaac and Jacob, when all these three patriarchs became conjoined and regarded as the fathers of the faithful."
Said Rabbi Hezekiah: "What has been said unto you is perfectly true. Whilst the 'apple tree among the trees of the wood,' and also 'my beloved among the children of men,' together with 'under his shadow,' all refer to the Holy One; the words 'I sat me down with great delight' signify the time when the Divine Presence was manifested on Mount Sinai and Israel received the Secret Doctrine and said, 'All that the Lord hath said, we will do and obey' (Ex. XXIV. 7). 'And his fruit was sweet to my taste' signify the Secret Doctrine, as it is written, 'Sweeter than honey and the honeycomb' (Ps. XIX. 11). Another interpretation has reference to the souls of the righteous, who are all the fruit of the works of the Holy One and dwell with him on high. Observe that all souls in the world are the fruit of his work before they become incarnated, and form one grand aggregate which, after descending into the earth life, become separated and differentiated into male and female forms that eventually become united. Observe that the desire of the female towards the male induces in it a similar and corresponding feeling resulting in marriage. This reunion is brought about and accomplished by the Holy One alone, and not by any celestial chief or ruler. Blessed is the man whose life is pure and who walks in the path of truth, for their
soul becomes united with soul as they existed before incarnation. He whose life is a pure and spiritual life is the perfect man, of whom it is written, 'His fruit is sweet to my taste.' or he is not only blessed himself, but is a blessing to the world and we are able to conclude, therefore, that weal or woe, happiness or unhappiness, are the results of our own acts, words and deeds."
Said Rabbi Hezekiah to Rabbi Eleazar: "Listen85b-86a to what has been said to me. It is written, 'From me is thy fruit found' (Hes. XIV. 8).Hosea 14:8 This is what the Holy One said to the congregation of Israel, 'thy fruit,' and not 'my fruit,' meaning that as through the united desires of the male and female fruit is born, or a soul is born, so it is with the union of the congregation of Israel with the Holy One. They become united to them by the tie of holy and pure love resulting in holy fruit, as marriage does in the production of offspring."