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Pesukei d’Zimrah: Rashbi: Psalm 148: Illuminating the World

Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yosi were walking the along the road. When they reached the open country, Rabbi Chiya said to Rabbi Yosi, “What you said about Bereishit signifying Barah Sheit, ‘created six,’ is certainly correct, since the Torah speaks of six primordial days and not more. The others are hinted at but not disclosed; nevertheless, from what is told to us we can perceive the following: The Holy and Mysterious One engraved in a hidden recess one point. In that, He enclosed the entire Creation as one who locks up all his treasures in a palace, under one key, which is therefore as valuable as all that is stored in that palace; for it is the key which shuts and opens.


In that palace there are hidden treasures, one greater than the other. The palace is provided with 50 mystical Gates. They are inserted in its four sides to the number of 49. The one remaining gate is on one of its sides and it is unknown whether it is on high or below: it is therefore called the Mysterious Gate.

All these gates have one lock, and there is one tiny spot for the insertion of the key, which is only marked by the impress of the key. It is this mystery which is implied in the words, “In the beginning the Lord created,” “In the beginning,” “Bereishit,” is the key which encloses the whole and which shuts and opens.

Six gates are controlled by this key which opens and shuts. At first it kept the gates closed and impenetrable; this is indicated by the word Bereishit, which is composed of a revealing word, “Sheit,” with a concealing word, “Barah.”

“Barah,” is always a word of mystery, closing and not opening.”

Rabbi Chiya prostrated himself on the earth, kissed the dust, and wept, “Dust, dust, how stiff necked you are! How shameless you are that all the delights of the eye perish within you! All the beacons of light you consume and grind into nothingness! That Sacred Lamp that illuminated the world, the mighty spiritual force by whose merits the world exists, is consumed by you. Oh, Rabbi Shimon, you Beacon of Light, Source of Light to the world, how have you turned to dust, you leader of the world while alive!:

After falling for a moment into a reverie, he continued, “O dust, dust! Do not pride yourself, for the pillars of the world will not be delivered into your power, nor will Rabbi Shimon perish within you!”

Rabbi Chiya then arose weeping and set out in company with Rabbi Yosi. He fasted from that day for 40 days, in order that he might see Rabbi Shimon. “You cannot see him,” was all the answer to his supplication. He then fasted another 40 days, at the end of which he saw in a vision Rabbi Shimon and his son Rabbi Elazar discussing the very subject he had discussed with Rabbi Yosi, while thousands were looking on and listening.

Meanwhile, there appeared a host of huge, winged Celestial Beings upon whose wings Rabbi Shimon and his son were borne aloft into the Heavenly Academy, while other Beings remained at the threshold, awaiting them.

Their splendor was constantly renewed, and they radiated a light exceeding that of the sun.

Rabbi Shimon then opened his mouth and said, “Let Rabbi Chiya enter and behold what the Holy One, Blessed is He, has prepared for the rejoicing of the righteous in the World to Come. Happy is he who enters here without misgiving, and happy is he who is established as a strong pillar in the World to Come.”

When entering, Rabbi Chiya noticed that Rabbi Elazar and the other great scholars that were sitting near him stood up. He drew back in some embarrassment, and sat down at the feet of Rabbi Shimon.

A voice thereupon went forth, singing, “Lower your eyes, raise not your head and do not look.” He lowered his eyes and discerned a light shining afar.

The voice went forth again, saying, “O, you unseen celestials, you open eyed who fly back and forth throughout the world, behold and see! O, you terrestrial beings who are sunk deep in slumber, awake! Who among you labored to turn darkness into light and bitter into sweet before you entered here? Who among you awaited every day the light that shall break forth at the time the King shall visit his beloved gazelle, when He will be glorified and called King by all the kings of the world? He who did not do this every day in the world below will have no share here.”

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