HADRA RBA QDIShA (HA IDRA RABBA QADISHA); OR,
THE GREATER HOLY ASSEMBLY.
CHAPTER I. THE INGRESS AND THE PREFACE.
1. TRADITION.Rabbi Schimeon spake unto his companions, and said: "How long shall we abide in the condition of one column by itself? when it is written, Psa. cxix. 126: 'It is time for Thee, Lord, to lay to Thine hand, for they have destroyed Thy law.'
2. "The days are few, and the creditor is urgent; the herald crieth aloud daily, and the reapers of the land are few; and those who are about the end of the vineyard attend not, and have not known where may be the lawful place. (That is, do not study holiness, which is called the vineyard.)
3. "Assemble yourselves, O my companions, in an open space, equipped with armour and spears; be ye ready in your preparations, in council, in wisdom, in understanding, in science, in care, with hands and with feet!
Appoint as King over you, Him in whose power is life and death: so that the words of truth may be received: things unto which the supernal holy ones attend, and rejoice to hear and to know them."
4. Rabbi Schimeon sat down and wept; then he said: "Woe! if I shall reveal it! Woe! if I shall not reveal it!"
5. His companions who were there were silent.
6. Rabbi Abba arose and said unto him: "With the favour of the Lord, also it is written, Psa. xxv. 14: 'The Arcanum of the Tetragrammaton is with them that fear Him.' And well do these companions fear that Holy and Blessed One; and now they have entered into the assembly of the tabernacle of his house, some of them have only entered, and some of them have departed also."
7. Moreover, it is said the companions who were with Rabbi Schimeon were numbered, and they were found to consist of Rabbi Eleazer, his son; and Rabbi Abba, and Rabbi Yehuda, and Rabbi Yosi the son of Jacob, and Rabbi Isaac, and Rabbi Chisqiah the son of Rav, and Rabbi Chiya, and Rabbi Yosi, and Rabbi Yisa.
8. They gave their hands unto Rabbi Schimeon, and raised their fingers on high, and entered into a field under the trees and sat down.
9. Rabbi Schimeon arose and offered up a prayer. He sat in the midst of them, and said: "Let whosoever will place his hand in my bosom." They placed their hands there, and he took them.
10. When he began, he said (from Deut. xxvii. 15): "Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say Amen!"
11. Rabbi Schimeon began, and said: "Time for Thee, O Tetragrammaton to lay to Thine hand." Why is it time for the Tetragrammaton to lay to His hand? Because they have perverted Thy law. What is this, they hath perverted Thy law?' The higher law, which is itself made void, if it be not carried out according to his commands. Wherefore is this? (Or, as others read: Wherefore is this name Tetragrammaton here employed? ) This hath been said concerning the Ancient of Days.
12. "For it is written, Deut. xxxiii. 29: 'Blessed art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee?' Also it is written, Exod. xv. 11: 'Who is like unto thee among the gods, O Tetragrammaton?'"
13. He called Rabbi Eleazer, his son, and commanded him to sit down before him, and Rabbi Abba on the other side, and said: "We are the type of all things" (that is, "we represent the three columns of the Sephiroth;") "thus far are the columns established."
14. They kept silence, and they heard a voice; and their knees knocked one against the other with fear. What was that voice? The voice of the Higher Assembly, which had assembled above. (For out of Paradise came the souls of Me just thither, that they might hearken, together with the Schechinah of the Presence Divine.)
15. Rabbi Schimeon rejoiced, and said. "O Tetragrammaton! I have heard Thy speech, and was afraid! (Hab. iii. 1). He hath said: 'It is therefore rightly done, seeing that fear hath followed; but for us the matter rather dependeth upon love.' Like as it is written, Deut. vi. 5: 'And thou shalt delight in Tetragrammaton thy God.'
Also it is written, Mal. i. 2: "I have loved you.'"
16. Rabbi Schimeon said further: "'He who walketh, going up and down (from one house unto another) revealeth the secret; but the faithful in spirit concealeth the word' (Prov. xi. 13).
17. "'He who walketh going up and down.' This saying meriteth question, because it is said, 'going up and down.' Wherefore then I walketh?' The man is already said to be going up and down: what is this word 'walketh?'
18. "For truly it is true concerning that man who is not stable in his spirit nor truthful, that the word which he hath heard is moved hither and thither, like a straw in the water, until it cometh forth from him.
19. "For what reason?" Because his spirit is not a firm Spirit.
20. "But concerning him who is firm in spirit it is written: 'But the faithful in spirit concealeth the word.' (But this phrase) 'faithful in spirit' denoteth firmness of spirit; like as it is said, Isa. xxii. 23: 'And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place.' Matter dependeth upon Spirit.
21. "And it is written, Eccles. v. 6: 'Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin.'
22. "For neither doth the world remain firm, except through secresy. And if in worldly affairs there be so great need of secresy, how much more in the things of the most secret of secrets, and in the meditation of the Ancient of Days, which matters are not even revealed unto the highest of the angels."
23. Rabbi Schimeon said, moreover: "I will not say it unto the heavens, that they may hear; I will not declare it unto the earth, that it may hear; for certainly we are (the symbols of) the pillars of the Universe."
24. It is said in the Arcanum of Arcana, that when Rabbi Schimeon opened his mouth, the whole place was shaken, and his companions also were shaken.