[Toldot Adam] In the day that God created man In the likeness of God made he him.
Genesis, Chapter 5, Verse 1.
Naphtali Lewy (Hashachar, 6th Year)
Printed by Spitzer & Holzwarth, January.
Ardeshir Mehta, 1994
Formatted in the present format by Ardeshir Mehta, April 14, 2000Chapter Of Creation
One scripture says, And Moses came unto the tent of the congregation to speak with him, and another scripture says, And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereupon. It is said from now, all the time the cloud was there, Moses did not enter it. When the cloud departed thence he entered and spake with him. (Sifra, Midot Aaron Passage 8) (Torat Cohanim Ch. Leviticus). [Translator’s note: The Sifra is a collection of homilies on the book of Leviticus]
Every researcher and seeker after wisdom who wishes to put his words and thoughts — with which he occupies himself to determine their truth — to the test, examines on the one hand his observations, and on the other the expressions of research and study; for at the doors of success lies the danger, that before the investigator has reached the summits of truth, he may fall into the pit without it, and the well and mine-shaft of untruth may be dug for him; and against every sentence of truth rises up its antagonist, the argument of doubt, to divert it, and after argument to crush it. Hence, ever since seekers after wisdom set their hearts to inquire after that wisdom which is dependent upon the purity and accuracy of study conducted by the mind, and reached the first step on the rungs of the ladder of their intelligence, they saw the certain loss which is prepared as a stumbling block and the distant and doubtful wages for the complacent; and therefore proclaimed loudly to those who would forget: Forbid your sons from conducting theoretical research and do not climb the steps thereof, lest your heads be filled with the dew of old age before your hands are filled by the priest of the temple of research.
The seeker will find truth of this statement in the books of our forebears, our fathers and forefathers, spread out and arranged according to the subjects of their teaching and which confirm [it] and those in whom remains the spirit, foresee the enormity of this study, which glitters through the crevices of original ancient utterances which have come down to us to teach us, that even the elect of the Lord whose testimony is beyond reproach, and Nazirites to wisdom born, even they upon arriving at the sanctuary of research and study in the awe of the name of the Lordwere beaten by stones, and the cloud of doubt darkened the light of their attainment until they beheld vain sights and obstacles along the path of their inquiry, which caused them to stray in the mists of a pathless desert; then they believed no longer in their strength for they stood on one leg as in the beginning to dedicate and adore, and serve in their innocence that which was holy in their eyes before they became engulfed in the cloud of dust of surprise, skepticism, questions and doubt. These were the elect of wisdom and Nazirites of insight from birth who were called to officiate in the temple of wisdom, who knew from their past the sea-waves of wisdom-attainment and far-sightedness, [knew] that their foot had been sent forth into the abyss, in the channels of which lay the lair of dragons, sharp of eye and with mouth wide open to swallow them up, a veritable trap on the road to knowledge in every branch of science [or “wisdom”]. The doubts that bring every inquirer and every researcher to disaster in time, were called by Rabbi Yossi Hagalili by the name of “Angels of Tribulation”, and the disturbing and antagonistic judgement [or “sentence”] on the path of logic and of study was: “The Cloud”, hence in the Sifra, Chapter 8 he says that the priests could not stand to serve before the Cloud for it was filled with glory only the house of God, [which] teaches that it was permitted to the “Angels of Tribulation” and thus the passage which says “And I laid the palms of my hands upon thee” teaches that permission was given to the Angels of Tribulation. [Translator’s note: In Biblical times, Nazirites were those dedicated to the Lord, often from birth, like Samson]
This idea is hoisted high in the books of our wise ancestors, who took care to uphold and strengthen the faith of our holy forebears, and everyone who plumbs the depths of our books, and sails on the waters of Hebrew literature will know and understand the profundity of the above-mentioned idea and will comprehend that our eyes should not be astonished to look with a penetrating gaze upon the expanses of knowledge which follow in the wake of our handiwork.
[Translator’s note: — the author of this article uses the same Hebrew term for both “science” and “wisdom”, doubtless because he was writing at a time when Hebrew equivalents for modern terms had not been coined, as they are today]
And it is said of established knowledge and of the purer and clearer kinds of study: As we find it good to forbid inquiry, research, seeking and study to the general multitude of seekers and to those who boast of their gift of intelligence, coming by this quality to even one of the many extremities of wisdom of which even the tiniest part is hidden from them, who do not know where the place of understanding lies, and whence wisdom may be found; so we find it even better and more beneficial that those few survivors bestowed with understanding and intelligence in overflowing measure, and who have turned their hearts away from every concern of the day, and set their eye to wisdom and understanding with all the skill at their command, gorged themselves [figuratively speaking] with every book of teaching and wisdom, which have been their only companions from generation to generation; to those whose hearts are harder [literally, “stronger”] than sapphire, and as to a rock firmly planted in the heart are shackled his faith and his religion, [upon whom] no storm rages, brewing over his head, and no cloud, fog or darkness blots out the sun of his knowledge, and the glow of his attainment as amber upholds his life and affirms [it]; to these who have come forth from darkness unto light, who have seen the rainbow in the cloud, and whose ears have heard the clap of the thunderbolt; and are now far from the place of their fear and their dread, standing on the mountain of the Lord with the staff of God in their hand, solitary survivors of the people of the Lord: that it is right and proper for such as these to engage in inquiry and research and logic and study and philosophy in every subject of teaching and wisdom [or “science”].
And we know the heart of the reader, and the soul of the inquirer of a new book of which the author is still counted among the living, that he shall lack the honour of the wise and shall begin his utterances, turn from the sacred to the profane and from light to darkness, and shall not fortify himself against us even to shout after us, that we have gotten ourselves horns, and like one of the heroes, men of renown, we have caught hold of a shield and barrier to walk towards the battle-array of Israel. —Nevertheless we shall not turn our hands back from teaching our hand to fight and our fingers from the battle of research [or “inquiry”], for we are secure in our soul for only the spirit of intelligence will beat within us, our soul has yearned and even longed for the courts of understanding, and the desire for knowledge which has found a nest for itself within us, will remove every bridle from our mouths, enlarge our hearts and deploy our tongues to speak from the purity of the well of goodness. And know, O reader, if your soul yet is afraid of the visions of the armies, open these chapters which lie before you, to unite our honour in your assembly, for we did not enter inside and within, to remove the veil before your eyes had we not thought deeply upon our knowledge for we shall raise the cloud wrapped around the face of the inquirer above the eye of our examination. We did not enter to speak with you there, — that even you as of this day that which is spoken in you should arouse you from your astonishment [which is] within you, and were you to become alarmed at the sights you see — and now that we have brought near the place to its work, and the opening of the tent of the congregation which Moses shall testify to us is opened, we entered to speak to you from there, [but] not in visions and riddles shall I here speak with you. And this is the right way, and the path to our God the God of Truth, from the day of the beginning of prophecy [when it was] common among the elect of the generation, and to teach did the Lord give [them] their hearts, to teach the sons of their generation the straight way, and the right and proper action in their eyes, which those in the way are to do according to their learning and study. For this is the teaching of man who rose step by step to perfection, and became worthy of the gift of Nahaliel which was searched after, gave his soul to spread wings over all the ends [of the earth], and from the heights of its dwelling which is among the stars, looks [down] upon those walking [below] in the low lands, like a mother [bird] hovering over her fledglings, giving food to her chicks, and life to the brood under her. —The intelligent [person] who loves to gaze upon spirituality and the ancient scriptures shall easily find according to our preface a sublime and exalted idea [or “concept”] at the beginning of our true words, wherein we have placed as an indication of our desire and in which are included introductions of the Rabbis noted in our books and which justify in their time that which we shall place before you in the coming chapters and this is a secret of the Lord to those who fear Him which the wise [man] will soon find and this is the light which separates from darkness, and the profit [or “superiority”] of knowledge. [Translator’s Note: the author uses the same Hebrew term for both the words “research” and “inquiry”.]