Rabbi Yehuda said, in all his deeds, man has to set G‑d before him, as we already explained.1 Rabbi Yehuda followed his own reasoning, saying that whoever walks on the road [and is afraid of bandits] should meditate on three things [on a payoff, on battle, and on prayer — as Jacob did when he was concerned about meeting his brother Esau]. The most important is prayer. And even though prayer is more [important], two or three friends studying words of the Torah [together] is even more valuable, because they need not fear bandits2 because the Shechinah is joined to them [who learn Torah].

Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Hiya were walking on the way
[studying Torah]. Rabbi Elazar said, It is written, "For the man and for his wife did the L-rd Elokim make garments of skin." (Gen. 3:21) Were they divested of that skin until then? Yes, [as this "skin" refers to] precious garments. Rabbi Hiya said to him, In that case [after Adam and Eve sinned], they were not even worthy of garments of skin. You may say that before they sinned, He clothed them [in garments of skin] yet it is not so. Only after they sinned, it is written, "For the man and for his wife did the L-rd Elokim make garments of skin, and clothed them."

He said to him, It is surely so
[that after they sinned G‑d made for them garments of skin]. But, at first they were [enclothed] in the likeness of Above [the Worlds of Beriya, Yetzira and Asiya] and were divested of the hues of [this] Lower [World], and the celestial light surrounded them. After they sinned, He returned them to the colors of this world, and removed from them the supernal colors. It is written, "For the man also and for his wife did the L-rd Elokim make garments of skins, and clothed them," as in worldly garments.

It is written of Aaron and of his sons, "And you shall bring his sons, and put garments upon them." (Ex. 29:9) In the latter verse, it appeared like the supernal
[garments of light of Zeir Anpin], while here they appeared like the lower [i.e. garments of skin Adam wore after he sinned]. They are called linen [in Hebrew, 'shesh', hinting at Zeir Anpin]. In this verse there are garments of skin [from the lower Garden of Eden]. Even though it is so [that Adam and Eve wore garments of skin], the beauty of these garments surpassed everything [in this world].

"And the eyes of them both were opened" (Gen. 3:7) to the image of this world, which was not the case before
[they sinned] when they were seeing and observing above, in the supernal world. In the World to Come, it is written, "And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not..." (Isaiah 42:16) For G‑d will open eyes that were unwise so they will behold supernal wisdom and attain what they did not attain in this world, so as to recognize their Master. Happy are the righteous that will attain this wisdom, since there is no wisdom as that wisdom, nor is there knowing such as that knowing, nor union [with the Divine], such as that union.

While they were walking they saw thieves following them to rob them. Rabbi Elazar looked at them, and two wild animals came and killed them.3 Rabbi Elazar said, "Blessed is the Merciful who saved us." He exclaimed about them, "When you go, your steps shall not be confined; and when you run, you shall not stumble" (Prov. 4:12) and, "Because he has set his delight upon Me, therefore will I deliver him"
[from all damagers]. (Psalms 91:14)

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida include this section? What do they want us to learn?

The above Zohar may concern possibly the first "pun" in the Torah. According to Midrash, Adam and Eve originally had garments of light—Ohr spelled with an Alef. But after they missed the mark, G‑d replaced these garments with garments of skin—Ohr spelled with an Ayin.

But wait! After this fall, we still can get back to the garden! Our good deeds and Torah learning help us to prepare a supernal garment to clothe us in our future endeavor, for tzaddikim ascend nightly to learn in supernal academies, and we have been promised that we are all righteous!

Actions of righteousness — good deeds and Torah study and charity — save from death. When we act holy, we retrieve even for a bit that original coat of light.

What does this mean to you, and why is it being revealed right now?

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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