"And they came to the river of Eshkol..." (Num. 13:23) Rabbi Yehuda opened [his discourse] with [the verse]: "Thus says the Al-mighty G‑d, He that created the heavens, and stretched them..." (Isaiah 42:5) How much people need to observe the activities of G‑d! How much need there is to inquire in matters of Torah, for everyone that studies Torah it is as if he brings all the sacrifices in the world to G‑d. Not only that, but G‑d also wipes away all his iniquities, and prepares many thrones for him in the World to Come!

Rabbi Yehuda was walking along the way with Rabbi Aba. He said: I wish to ask you one thing. Since G‑d was aware that Adam was going to commit sin in His presence and that He would sentence him to death, why did He create him? Didn't the Torah exist 2,000 years prior to the creation of the world [certainly before Adam sinned and was sentenced to death]? It is written [in the Torah]: "When a man dies in a tent," (Num. 19:14) "if a man die," "and...died" and "such and such lived and died." What did G‑d want from man in this world? Even if a man studies Torah day and night he will die, and if he does not study Torah he will die. The same course applies to all [in this world] except that he [who does not study Torah] gets removed from the World to Come. As it is written: "As is the good, so is the sinner" (Eccl. 9:2) [as all that is created will die]?

He said to him: Why do you need to toil in the ways of your Master and the edicts of your Master? Ask about that which you have permission to know and gaze at, and about that which you have no permission to know, it is written: "Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin" (Eccl. 5:5) since we have no right to inquire about the ways of G‑d and His mysteries, the utmost high secrets that He covered and hid. He said to him: If so, the entire Torah is concealed and hidden, since it is the most Holy Name and whoever studies the Torah, it is as if he deals in His Holy Name. If so, we are not permitted to inquire and gaze [at the Torah at all].

He said to him [to Rabbi Aba]: The entire Torah is both concealed and revealed and the Holy Name is both concealed and revealed, as it is written: "The secret things belong to the L-rd our G‑d, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children." (Deut. 29:28) "But those things which are revealed belong to us," meaning that we have permission to inquire and observe and gaze at them to know them. However, "the secret things belong to the L-rd our G‑d ": They are His and to Him they are proper, since who could know and comprehend His concealed mind, let alone even ask about it?

Come and see! The people of the world are not permitted to talk about the concealed matters and explain them, besides the holy luminary, Rabbi Shimon, since G‑d acceded to him. Since his generation is distinguished above and below, the matters are therefore said through him openly. There will be no other generation like the generation that he resides in, until the coming of the Mashiach.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: What does the above mean to you, and why is it begin revealed to you now?

This section of the Holy Zohar, intends to open us up to the sublime nature of the Torah. What you see in the Torah is just the surface level of what you get. There are many secrets hidden within.

But, what is a secret? A secret is that which is passed between those of close spiritual affinity. When we love someone else, we run to share with them our secrets. Similarly, when we demonstrate our love to G‑d, perhaps He too will bless us with revelations of His essence, revelations of novelae in the Torah.

To read the Zohar is to access secrets given to R. Shimon and his comrades, a very high group indeed. Yet, we are promised that when Mashiach comes, and may he come quickly in our days, with the building of the Temple, Amen!--that knowledge, including the secrets of G‑d, will cover the world as the water covers the earth. The wellsprings will be spread out—and we will be able to perceive the world as Holy folks like the Ba'al Shem Tov could.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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