49. Rabbi Chiya prostrated himself on the ground and wept: “Dust, how hard and heartless you are, how many you have consumed, even the great one, Rabbi Shimon, the Light of the entire world, is also consumed by you, and yet you govern the world?” But then he collected himself at once and said: “Do not be proud, dust, for the pillars of the world will not be betrayed to you, and Rabbi Shimon will not be consumed by you!”
At first, Rabbi Chiya thought that Rabbi Shimon himself was also consumed by dust, i.e., did not achieve complete correction, for the upper gates are closed for all. Yet, if Rabbi Shimon revives the worlds through his soul, how can it possibly be that he has not reached perfection? Therefore, he concludes that Rabbi Shimon was not consumed by the dust, that he did achieve complete correction. The thing that Rabbi Chiya could not understand, however, is how any individual soul could achieve the end of correction prior to (without) the complete correction of all the others. This, Rabbi Chiya could not explain to himself.
50. Rabbi Chiya fasted for forty days so that he might see Rabbi Shimon, but was told he still was not worthy of seeing him. He wept and fasted for another forty days. He was then shown a vision (not his degree, but a higher one): Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Elazar were discussing him, the words of Rabbi Chiya.
51. In that same vision, Rabbi Chiya saw how Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Elazar mounted great celestial wings and soared to the Assembly of Heaven. Afterwards, they both returned to their place and shone brighter than ever before, brighter than the light of the sun. The term Supernal Assembly (of corrected souls) refers to the Assembly of the Creator Himself, while the Heavenly Assembly refers to the Assembly of Matat. The wings are angels (spiritual forces, similar to robots or draft animals in our world), whose task is to help the souls ascend from one spiritual degree to another.
52. Further Rabbi Chiya saw that Rabbi Shimon said: “Let Rabbi Chiya enter and see how much the Creator renews the faces of the righteous in the world to come. Happy is he who comes here without shame. Happy is he who stands in the other world against all obstacles. And Rabbi Chiya saw himself entering, and Rabbi Elazar and all the others stood up before him. And he, Rabbi Chiya, was ashamed; he entered, bending, and sat at the feet of Rabbi Shimon. Rabbi Shimon opened the way for the Light and said: “Happy is he who enters here without shame.” And all that were present there felt no shame. Only Rabbi Chiya was ashamed. This is because they had the strength to withstand the power of the dust, and Rabbi Chiya did not. They were all perfect, whereas Rabbi Chiya had a flaw – the desire to attain. And this is what he was ashamed of.
53. A voice sounded: “Lower your eyes, do not raise your head.” Rabbi Chiya lowered his eyes and saw Light that shone from afar. The voice returned and said: “The Supernal Ones, concealed and enclosed, who have eyes that watch over the entire world, look and see: the lower ones are sleeping, and the Light of their eyes is concealed in their pupils. Wake them!”
After he followed the instruction to lower his eyes and not raise his head (not to receive the Light, but only to bestow), he heard (the Light of Hassadim) the appeal, in which he attained everything. The voice divides all souls into two groups: the first is a group of Supernal Ones who merited their eyes to be opened to behold the entire world, and the second group of souls have the Light of their eyes concealed. This is why the voice called upon the souls of the first group to behold, i.e., to use the reception of the Upper Light, to draw the Upper Light together with the second group.
54. Who among you turns darkness into Light (love towards one’s friend) and savors bitter (bestowal) as sweet even before he came here, that is, while still living in the other (egoistic) world? Who among you hopes and waits each day for the Light (of correction) that shines when He distances (from him in a sensation of a descent)? For he who does not wait for this each day while living in this world, has no place in the Upper World.
55. In his vision, Rabbi Chiya saw many of his friends, some are elevated by the wings, while others are lowered. And above them all, he saw the wings of the approaching Matat. This way the two groups help one another. Rabbi Chiya saw also that due to the aspiration of both groups, Matat descended from the Heavenly Assembly to the assembly of Rabbi Shimon and swore an oath.
56. The angel Matat swore that he heard from behind the curtain how each day the Creator remembers and grieves over Malchut, cast into the dust. And when He remembers her, He strikes 390 firmaments, and they all tremble with terrible fear before Him. And the Creator sheds tears for the Shechina – Malchut that has fallen to the dust. And those tears simmer like fire, and fall into the Great Sea. And by the power of these tears, the Ruler of the Sea, called Rachav, is revived, blesses the Creator, and vows to swallow up everything, from the first days of creation, and to absorb all within himself, when all the nations gather against Israel, the sea ruler will rise back to life and swallow up all the primeval waters, for Malchut will receive the lacking correction, for each day the Creator cares for her until she, His only creation, reaches her final correction – the waters will dry, and Israel will walk through dry land. And here Rabbi Chiya’s delusion was revealed to him: he understood that nothing disappears in the dust, but, on the contrary, each day Malchut undergoes corrections, just as Matat swore.
57. Through all this, he heard a voice: “Clear this place, clear this place! The Mashiach (Messiah), the King-Redeemer is coming to the assembly of Rabbi Shimon,” for all the righteous gathered there ascend from this assembly to the Assembly of Heaven. And the Mashiach visits all these assemblies and seals the Torah that stems from the mouths of the righteous.
As a result of the revelation of the end of correction, concealed in the oath of Matat, all of the righteous present at Rabbi Shimon’s Assembly attained Upper Degrees and reached the levels of “heads of assemblies” and merited ascending to the Assembly of Heaven and revealing the Mashiach.
And now all the members merited becoming the heads of the Assemblies, wherefrom they merited an ascent to the Heavenly Assembly. Moreover, thanks to their corrections, they merited the Mashiach himself coming to all these assemblies to be adorned with their deeds in the Torah. And now all the members have merited reaching the level of the assemblies’ heads.
58. The members stood up. Rabbi Shimon stood up too, and his Light rose to the firmament. The Mashiach said unto him: “Happy are you, Rabbi, for your Torah has risen in 370 beams of Light, and each beam divides into 613 beams (properties) that ascend and bathe in the rivers of the holy Apharsemon. And the Creator confirms and signs the Torah of your assembly.”
59. “I have come here not to confirm the Torah of your assembly, but only because the ‘owner of wings’ is on his way here. For I know that he shall not enter any other assembly, but only yours.” Meanwhile, Rabbi Shimon told him of the oath taken by the “owner of wings.” Right then the Mashiach trembled in awe – and the Heavens shook, and the Great Sea boiled, and the Leviathan stirred, and the entire world threatened to overturn – and left.
60. Rabbi Chiya trembled in awe when the Mashiach left, and his eyes were filled with tears. For the Mashiach left Rabbi Shimon’s Assembly weeping from the great desire for the final correction. And Rabbi Chiya was also anguished from the fervent desire to reach the end of correction. Rabbi Chiya cried and said: “Happy is the lot of the righteous in the other world, and happy is the lot of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who has merited all of this.”
“The Vision of Rabbi Chiya” – full commentary
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