The Book of Zohar. Chapter “The Donkey Driver,” Part 2 (abridged)
91. He opened and began. It is written, “Benayahu (Benaiah) Ben (the son of) Yehoyada (Jehoiada).” This narrative is beautiful, but it serves to show us the exalted secrets of the Torah. And the name Benayahu Ben-Yehoyada indicates the secret of the Light of Wisdom, Ohr Hochma. Ben Ish Chai is the righteous who revives the worlds. Rav Paalim means that He is the Master of all that transpires, and that all the forces and Supernal Troops stem from Him. He is called the Creator of Force, the Master of all, and He is in everything.
92. Rav Paalim is also Mekabtziel – the Exalted Tree, gathering and performing many actions, Supreme Above all. Where did it come from? From which degree did it originate? Once more, the source indicates – from Mekabtziel, for it is an exalted and concealed degree that none has seen. It includes everything, for it gathers all of the Upper Light within it, and everything originates from it.
93. All of the degrees gather in this Supernal, Sacred, and Concealed Hall, where everything is concealed. All of the worlds are inside that hall. All the holy forces are sustained and revived by it, and all are dependant on it.
94. He slew two – Ariel and Moav (Moab). Two Holy Temples existed thanks to Atik and received from it: the First Temple and the Second Temple. Since Atik’s disappearance, the process that stemmed from Above had ceased. It is as though he struck and destroyed them.
95. And the Holy Throne (Malchut) is overthrown. Hence, the prophet Yechezkel (Ezekiel) wrote, “I am in exile,” signifying that the degree called “I,” which is Malchut, is in exile. Why? “By the river Kevar.” Kevar (already) is the river that had already existed, but has now disappeared. As it is written, “The river is destroyed and dried up.” It was “destroyed” in the first Temple and “dried up” in the second. Hence, it is written: “He struck and destroyed both, Ariel and Moav.” Moav (or Mi Av) means “from the Heavenly Father.” They were all destroyed for Him, and all the Light disappeared.
96. Further, He descended and struck the lion. Initially, when this river rolled its waters down, Israel was in a state of perfection, for they offered up gifts and sacrifices to atone for their sins and to save their souls. Then, the image of a lion would descend from Above, and they would see it on the altar as it trampled the bodies of the sacrifices, devouring them, and all the dogs (all those who slander Israel) would fall to silence.
97. Yet, when sins increased, he descended to the lower degrees and slew the lion. This was because the lion refused to give up its prey as before, and this is as though he killed it. Therefore, he struck the lion and threw it into a pit, to the Evil Side (according to his understanding). The Evil Side saw this and sent a dog to devour the sacrifices from the altar in the lion’s stead. What is the name of that lion? And what is the nickname of that dog? Baladan is its name; Baladan is formed by the words Bal-Adam, where the letter Mem is replaced by Nun, for he is not a human being at all, but a dog, and his face is like a muzzle of a dog.
98. On a day of snow, on the day misfortunes descend from the Supernal Court Above, it is written, “Her household shall not fear snow,” that is, the Supernal Court, called “snow.” For her household is clothed twofold, and can thereby endure a strong fire. So the book says.
99. What is written next? “And he struck an Egyptian.” This refers to a secret: every time Israel sinned, the Creator would conceal Himself and restrict them from receiving all the goodness and all the Light that He shone upon them. “He struck an Egyptian.” “He” refers to Moshe, the Light that shines upon Israel. For in Egypt he was born, grew up, and attained the Supernal Light.
100. A man of mirror. It is written, mirror and man, as it is written, a Godly man, the husband of that mirror, of the Creator’s glory, Malchut. For with this degree he merited ruling over the entire land in all of his desire – a feat unmatched by any other.
101. This is the Creator’s staff that was delivered to him, as it is written, “With the Creator’s staff in my hand.” This is the staff that was created on the evening of the sixth day of the creation, before Shabbat. And His Holy Name is contained in it. And with this staff Moshe sinned by striking it twice against the rock. The Creator said to him: “Moshe, it is not for this purpose that I have given you My staff; thus, it will no longer be in your possession henceforth.”
102. At once He descended to him in strictness and wrenched the staff from the Egyptian’s hand, for the moment the staff was taken from him, it was taken for good. And he was killed by it: because of the sin of striking the rock with the staff, he died and did not enter the Holy Land. And that Light was concealed from Israel.
103. “The most respected of the thirty” refers to the Upper One that receives from Above and passes downward, one that receives and brings closer. However, he does not go to the first three, but they come to him and give to him wholeheartedly, but he does not come to them.
104. Despite not being considered one of them, David heard the meaning that is never detached from the heart, for they can never be separated. David paid attention with all his heart, but he did not pay attention to David. For by the praises, hymns, and mercy that the moon offers the sun, the moon draws the sun closer so as to be with it.
105. Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Aba fell down on their faces before him and could not see him anymore, then rose and went in every direction, but could not see him. They sat and wept, and could not even speak to one another. Then, Rabbi Aba said, “It is true what we have learned, that the Torah accompanies the righteous on all their paths. The righteous of the other world come to them to reveal to them the secrets of the Torah. And this must have been Rabbi Hamnuna-Saba, who came to us from the other world to reveal these secrets to us. But before we could recognize him, he vanished.” They rose and wanted to lead their donkeys on, but could not. They repeatedly tried to goad the donkeys, but still they could not move. They grew frightened and left their donkeys behind. And to this day this place is called “the place of donkeys.”
106. Rabbi Elazar opened and said: “Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have hidden away for those who fear You! How infinite is the goodness that the Creator shall bestow on humankind in the future, on those sin-fearing, exalted righteous, who study the Torah as they arrive at that Upper World.”
107. The name “great goodness” can be further described as containing all the secrets of the Supernal wisdom, which descend from ZA to Malchut. There is a great tree, called ZA or Rav (great, strong), and there is a small tree, Malchut, which grows from it. And it is elevated to the Highest Firmament.
108. The “great goodness” is the Light that was created on the first day of creation and concealed so as to be revealed in the future for the righteous in the other world. Your Deeds are the Supernal Garden of Eden, which the Creator has created by His DEED.
109. All the righteous stand in the lower Garden of Eden, clothed in precious adornments, similar in quality and form to those which they wore in this world, meaning in the same form as people in this world and according to man’s actions in this world. They stand there and fly away through the air, ascend to the Assembly in the Supernal Garden of Eden, fly there and bathe in the dew of the pure river of Apharsemon, then come down and fly below in the lower Garden of Eden.
110. And sometimes these righteous appear as people in order to perform miracles, like celestial angels, just as we have seen the luminescence of the Upper Light, but did not merit to see and discover the wisdom’s great secrets.
111. Rabbi Aba opened and said: “And he who is doomed said to his wife, ‘We shall die, for I have seen the Creator.’ Even though he was not aware of his actions, as it is written, ‘He did not know that it was an angel’; however, since it is written, ‘Man shall not see Me and live,’ we know that he has died. And we have merited this great Light to accompany us, and the world exists because the Creator Himself sent him to us, to reveal the secrets of His Supernal wisdom to us. How joyous is our share!”
112. They walked and came to a mountain. The sun had set. The branches of the tree on that mountain started rattling and singing. As they were still walking, they heard a resounding voice proclaim, “Sons of the Holy Creator, dispersed among the living in this world, illuminated by the sons of the Assembly, gather in your places and rejoice with your Creator in the Torah. They grew frightened and stopped, then sat down.
113. Meanwhile, a voice called out again, “O, mighty rocks, great hammers of thunder, Bina stands upon a pillar, so enter and assemble.” At that moment, they heard the mighty voice of thousands of trees, which was saying, “The Creator’s voice breaks the cedars.” Both Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Aba fell down on their faces. Great fear fell upon them. They rose hastily and left, not hearing anything else, then came down the mountain and kept on walking.
114. Upon reaching the house of Rabbi Yosi, the son of Rabbi Shimon Ben Yosi Ben Lakunya, they saw Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai. They rejoiced. Rabbi Shimon rejoiced, too. He said to them, “You have traveled this path of Heavenly signs and wonders correctly, for as I was sleeping, I saw you and Benayahu Ben Yehoyada, who was sending you two crowns with an old man, so as to adorn you. I am certain that the Creator was on this path too, because I see how your faces have changed.” Rabbi Yosi said, “Truly, it is said that a sage is preferred to a prophet.” Rabbi Elazar came and put his head on the knees of his father, Rabbi Shimon, and told him of what had happened.
115. Rabbi Shimon was frightened and wept. He said, “I have heard the Creator and I am awed.” This verse was spoken by the prophet Havakuk (Habakkuk), when he saw his death and his resurrection by Elisha. Why was he named Havakuk? Because it is written that at around this time there would be a HOVVEK-ET – a son will be embraced. For Havakuk was the son of the Shunamit. And there were two embraces: one from the mother and one from Elisha, as it is written, “He put his mouth to his.”
116. I have discovered in the book of King Solomon that the name Havakuk consists of seventy-two names. Each word consists of three letters, for the letters of the alphabet that the Father confirmed to him initially flew away when he died. But Elisha embraced him and confirmed in him all these letters in his seventy-two names. In all, there are 216 letters in his seventy-two names, three letters in each.
117. Elisha confirmed all of these letters in the soul of Havakuk so as to revive him by the letters of the seventy-two names. And he called him Havakuk, for that is his complete name, which describes all of his properties, as it alludes to two Havakuks and to the 216 letters of the Holy Name, as the Gematria (numerical value) of the name Havakuk is 216, from which the seventy-two names were formed. By AB names he revived him and brought his spirit back, and by RYU letters he revived his body and let it live. This is why he is called Havakuk.
118. He said, “I have heard the Creator and I am awed by His name.” I have heard of what I had and have had a taste of the other world at the moment of death, before Elisha resurrected him, and I am awed. He began asking for mercy for his soul. He said, “O, Creator, the deeds that You have performed for me throughout the years were my life.” And whoever connects to the past years (the name of the Sefirot of Atik), connects to life. Throughout the years, bestow life upon the degree that has no life of its own, upon Malchut de Malchut.
119. Rabbi Shimon wept and said: “And I have seen from the Creator what I have heard.” He raised his hands above his head, and said: “But you have merited seeing Rabbi Hamnuna-Saba, the Light of the Torah, face to face, while I have not.” He fell on his face and saw him who uproots mountains and lights candles in the Temple of the King (Mashiach). He said to him, “Rabbi, in the other world we shall be neighbors with the heads of the assemblies before the Creator.” From here on, he called his son Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Aba by the name Pnei’el (the face of God), as it is written: “For I have seen the Creator face to face.”