Hora’ah – הוראה – Teaching
ON THE TENTH DAY OF THIS MONTH THEY SHALL TAKE TO THEM A LAMB. According to R. Abba, the tenth day was chosen because on this day the Jubilee illumines the Moon (i.e. Binah communicates light to Malkuth); for of the Jubilee it is written: “On the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement” (Lev. XXIII, 27). “They shall take a lamb.” Why a lamb? Because it symbolized the power of the lowest “crown”, which the Holy One broke, the “crown” to which all the other inferior “crowns ” cling, forming the unholy triad signified by the phrase, “lambs, menservants, and womenservants”, sent by Jacob to Esau, as a sop, as it were, to the evil powers which the latter represented. The Holy One said: “Do ye perform this act of slaughtering the Passover lamb, and I myself will nullify its power above. Do ye let it pass through fire (v. 8) here below, and I shall lead the impure principality which it represents through the fiery Stream.” And why was the lamb to be tied up on the tenth day and slaughtered on the fourteenth? Because, according to R. Abba, the four days corresponded to the four hundred years that Israel was subjected to the power of Egypt.
And why was the slaughter performed in the evening? Because that is the time when judgement predominates above and below, and also because it was at this time (“between the evenings”) that Israel’s exiles were foretold to Abraham, as it is written: “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham, and lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him” (Gen. xv, I 2). “Horror” signifies one supernal “crown” which represents Egypt; “darkness” is a second such, representing Babylon; and “great” refers to the Edomite (Roman) exile, which was to be the hardest of all. Thus it is seen that the Israelites did not go out of Egypt until all the supernal powers and principalities which were Israel’s enemies had been brought to nought; but when these things had come to pass the people were freed from their domination and brought under the holy and heavenly sway of the Holy One, blessed be He, and were joined to Him and to Him alone, as it is written: “For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt” (Lev. xxv, 55). Similarly, R. Simeon interpreted the verse: “Even the first day ye shall put away leaven (hamez) out of your houses, for whosoever eateth leavened bread (mahmezeth), etc.” (Ex. XII, 15). Said he: ‘Seor,hamez, and mahmezeth all mean one and the same thing, and are symbols of the same supernal grade, namely the powers appointed to represent all the other nations, which are pagan and enemies of Israel, and are termed variously “evil imagination”, “foreign domination”, “strange god”, and “other gods”.’
Said God to Israel: ‘All these years ye have been subject to an alien power, but now you are free men, you shall put away leaven, etc.’ Said R. Judah: ‘If so, why is leaven prohibited on these seven days only?’ R. Simeon answered: ‘This ceremony is only necessary when the Israelite requires to demonstrate the fact of his freedom. If a king raises a man to a high office, the latter will celebrate his elevation by rejoicing and donning costly festive garments for a few days; but subsequently he merely celebrates the anniversary as it comes round. The same is true of Israel: they, too, have each year their season of joy and gladness when they celebrate the high honour which the Holy One, blessed be He, showed them when He brought them out of the power of impurity into the invincible power of His holiness. Therefore it is written, “seven days ye shall eat mazoth (unleavened bread)”.’ Said R. Simeon further: ‘The unleavened bread is called “the bread of poverty ” (Deut. XVI, 3), because at that time the moon was not at full strength, the reason being that, although the Israelites were circumcised, the rite had not been completed by “peri’ah”, and therefore the seal of the covenant was not revealed in its complete form. But later, when this completion had been achieved-namely at Marah, where Moses “made for them a statute and an ordinance” (Ex. xv, 25)- the Holy One spake unto them, saying: “Until now ye have eaten the ‘bread of poverty’, but from now on your bread shall emanate from a far other region: ‘I will rain bread from heaven for you’ ” (Ibid. XVI, 4). This phrase means literally “from heaven”, that is, from the very centre of Grace, and not, as previously, from the blemished “Moon”. Therefore the holy Israelites observe as a memorial the anniversary of the days when they came under the wings of the Shekinah, and eat the bread which emanates from Her. And why was the rite not brought to its completion in Egypt? Because the Exodus would then have been delayed until those who had undergone this operation had recovered.
Observe that when the Israelites were about to enter the Holy Land, Moses described it as “a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness” (Deut. VIII, 9), in contrast to the “bread of misery, of poverty”, which was their food in Egypt, when the moon did not derive blessing and light from the sun, when she was not illumined by the Jubilee. And because they did not carry out the peritah in Egypt, the unification and harmonization of the Divine attributes was not manifested in its fulness. Why they continued to eat the “bread of poverty” in the land of Israel was in remembrance of Egypt.’ R. Simeon also connected the words, “Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement” (Lev. XXIII, 27), with the words, “In the tenth day of this month” (Ex. XII, 3), used in regard to the Passover lamb; for the one “tenth day” is dependent on the other.
Zohar, Shemoth 39-40b
Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. But Messiah came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to G-d, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living G-d? And for this reason He is the mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.