Among All the Sages of the Nations of the World, There Are None Like You
161) Rabbi Elazar said, “It is written, ‘Who would not fear You, O King of the nations, for it is Your due?’” What kind of a praise is that? Rabbi Shimon told him, “Elazar, my son, this verse was said in several places. But it is certainly not so as its literal meaning, as it is written, ‘For among all the sages of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You.’ This would enable the wicked to speak, meaning those who think that the Creator does not know their thoughts and contemplations.
“This is the reason why their methods must be made known. Once, a philosopher from the nations of the world came to me. He told me, ‘You say that your God rules over the whole of the heaven, and all the armies and the camps do not attain or know His whereabouts.’ This verse does not give Him much respect, for it is written, ‘For among all the sages of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You.’ Why this comparison to people, who have no persistence?”
It is as it is written, “They say, ‘How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?’ Behold, these wicked and those that are always at ease have obtained riches,” as he brings before us the words of the philosopher. That philosopher was among the greatest of the sages of the nations. He came to Rabbi Shimon to despise Israel’s wisdom and our work in complete faith, which is in great wholeness, since the thought has no attainment in it whatsoever. And this sage was among those philosophers who say that the heart of the work of God is to attain Him, for in their view, they attain Him. Thus, he came to mock us.
“Rules over the whole of the heaven” means that He is above any human mind, and He is the ruler in this sublimity. And He commanded you to work before Him in faith and in wholeness, and to not doubt Him at all because all the armies and camps do not attain. Not only does the human mind not attain Him, but even the armies and the high angels will not attain Him whatsoever, or know His whereabouts. They do not even attain His place, as it is written, “Blessed be the glory of God from His place,” for they do not know His whereabouts.
And he came to ask about that, that this verse does not give Him much respect, for it is written, “For among all the sages of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You.” If the prophecy comes to praise the God of Israel, who is more important than the God that the sages of the nations attain with their own human force and wisdom, it does not give Him much respect. After all, this praise does not give Him much respect because what sort of weighing and comparison is it between the Creator and mortal beings? Thus, there is great contempt against your God here, assessing Him compared to the mortal sages of the nations.
162) The philosopher also said, “When you say about the words, ‘Never has there been such a prophet as Moses in Israel,’ he has not risen in Israel, but he has risen in the nations of the world. I, too, say so: there are none like him among all the sages of the nations, but there are like him among the sages of Israel. Thus, a God whom there are like Him among the sages of Israel is not a superior, ruling God. Look in the Bible and you will find my words precise.”
Here Rabbi Shimon spoke in words of wisdom. It was said, “Look in the Bible and you will find my words precise,” for he realized that he would easily answer his question, since in all the sages of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is no one who attains You. “There is none like You” is as in, “Had I not known Him, I would be Him.” And since the sages of the nations boast about attaining Him, they are regarded as like Him. This is why it is written that they lied and they are not like Him, for they do not attain Him but rather mislead themselves.
Therefore, the philosopher cleverly asked, “Accordingly, it means that there are none like Him only among the sages of the nations, but are there like Him among the sages of Israel, meaning those who attain Him? Thus, a God, of whom there are like Him among the children of Israel is not a superior and ruling God. Accordingly, why do you say that the thought has no attainment in the God of Israel at all, and that He is the ruler over His servants by the power of faith in His sublimity? But it is written that there are like Him among the sages of Israel, meaning that there are sages of Israel who attain Him. Thus, the text contradicts you.”
163) I told him, “Indeed, you said correctly, there are others like Him in Israel. After all, who revives the dead? It is the Creator alone. Elijah and Elisha came and revived dead. Who brings down rains? It is only the Creator. Elijah came and halted them, then brought them down with his prayer. And who makes heaven and earth? It is the Creator alone. Abraham came and the heaven and earth persisted in their existence thanks to him.”
Rabbi Shimon explained to him that as you said, it must be true there are others like Him in Israel. And yet, this is not at all in contrast with our whole faith, for we do not attain Him whatsoever. He governs the whole of the high heaven, and even the highest angels do not attain Him or know His whereabouts.
However in relation to that, He has given us Torah and Mitzvot, whereby the engagement in Torah and Mitzvot Lishma [for Her name], Israel are rewarded with actually adhering unto Him, and His Divinity dresses in them until they perform the same deeds as the Creator: reviving dead, bringing down rains, and sustaining heaven and earth. In that respect, they are completely like Him, as it is written, “By Your actions we know You.” However, they attain all that only by complete and whole faith, and they do not even contemplate attaining Him with their wisdom, as do the sages of the nations.
164) Who guides the sun? It is only the Creator. Joshua came and silenced it. He commanded it to stand still, and it went silent, as it is written, “So the sun stood still and the moon stopped.” The Creator sentences, and so did Moses: he sentenced and it was executed. Moreover, the Creator makes verdicts and the righteous of Israel revoke them, as it is written, “A righteous rules the fear of God.” Moreover, the Creator commanded them to go by His very ways, to resemble Him in everything. That philosopher went and converted in the village Shehalim. He was named Little Yosi, he learned much Torah, and he is among the wise and righteous in that place.
But when they are rewarded with being exactly like Him, do they not diminish the power of their whole faith? Rather, they do it because He commanded them to do so, and to attain Him by His actions. The Creator commanded them to go by His very ways, as it is written, “And walk in His ways.” They do the King’s commandment to resemble Him in everything. Indeed, the philosopher was so inspired by this truth that he went and converted, and took upon him the burden of Torah and Mitzvot.
165) Now we should look at the text. It is written, “All the nations are as nothing before Him.” What advantage is there here? Answer: “Who will not fear You, O king of the nations?” But is the king of the nations not the king of Israel? In all the places, the Creator wishes to be glorified in Israel. He is named only after Israel, as it is written, “The God of Israel,” “The God of the Hebrews,” and it is written, “Thus said the Lord, king of Israel.” Indeed, the king of Israel. The nations of the world said, “We have another protector in the heaven, for your king rules only over you; He does not rule over us.”
Now, at that night, the queen is summoned to come to the Huppah [wedding canopy] where Rabbi Shimon was, and now he wishes to adorn the bride with a decoration. We should reexamine that verse, “Who would not fear You, O King of the nations,” and interpret it in relation to the decoration of the bride. It repeats the beginning of the verse, as it was said, “Who would not fear You, O King of the nations.” What advantage is there here? After all, it is written, “All the nations are as nothing before Him,” so what is it telling us here? The nations of the world said, “We have another protector in the heaven.” The nations pester Israel into saying that they have a good guide and protector in the heaven, who gives them wisdom and power, and the king of Israel does not govern them.
166) It is written, “Who would not fear You, O King of the nations,” meaning a king who is superior to them, to tyrannize them, to strike them, and to do with them as he wishes. “For it is Your due,” to fear you above and below. “For among all the sages of the nations,” the governors and ministers above, which are appointed over them, and in all their kingdoms, in that Malchut above.
There are four Malchuts that govern above. By the Creator’s will, they govern all the other nations. For this reason, there is none among them who does even the slightest thing, except as He commanded them, as it is written, “And He does according to His will in the host of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.” The sages of the nations are the appointees and the ministers above, from which comes the wisdom of the nations. “And in all their kingdoms” is Malchut, which governs them. This is the literal meaning of the text.
This text explains how at the time of exile, the bride is summoned to come to the Huppah at the end of correction. It is so because all of the nations’ power to conquer us in exile under their rule is through their wisdom and kingship, which are the upper appointees in the heaven of Klipa, which impart them with wisdom and power. Through their wisdom, they bring us to think evil thoughts, to wish to understand the Creator in all aspects: Him, His ways, and His thoughts, without any fear or consideration of His sublimity.
Through these evil thoughts, we are emptied of any abundance of Kedusha [holiness], and the abundance moves to their Malchut, as it is written, “Tyre was filled only by the ruin of Jerusalem.” By that, they obtain the strength to tyrannize us, to strike us, and to force us to do their will. This is the foundation of the four kingdoms that enslave us in the four exiles, implied in their four Behinot, HB TM. They are implied in the Tzelem [semblance] of Nebuchadnezzar, as it is written, “As for that image, its head was of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, its shins of iron, its legs part iron and part clay.”
At the time of the ruling of that Tzelem, they mock us that they have another protector in the heaven. However, all that is as it is written, “God has made it so as to fear Him,” since Divinity is called “fear of heaven.” This implies that we are utterly unable to permanently adhere to the Creator if not through great fear of His sublimity, taking upon ourselves the burden of Torah and Mitzvot with complete and pure faith, without doubting His qualities in any way, lest He will be hidden from us.
This is so because then we adhere to Him for all eternity in an unbreakable tie, and then the Creator, too, will give the abundance in all that He had contemplated to delight us in the thought of creation. And then we are rewarded with the complete redemption and the end of correction.
But before that, “He who earns puts wages into a punctured purse.” This is so because through the evil thoughts that it brings into us, the Sitra Achra always has the strength to rob the abundance that we receive, following the rule, “Tyre was filled only by the ruin of Jerusalem.”
However, even these punishments are not against us, but only to qualify us for His fear, through numerous experiences that the exile brings upon us until we are rewarded with receiving His faith in wholeness and with fear of sublimity. And then it is said, “He has remembered His grace and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God,” for at the time of the end, the Creator will remember all His mercies for us, along with the wholeness of His faith, at once.
Once we receive the strength to receive His faith in whole, Jerusalem will be built out of the ruins of Tyre, for all the Hassadim and the abundance that the Malchuts of Sitra Achra have stolen from us during the days of the exile will return to us after the wholeness of His faith in full, with none missing. And then, “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God,” for all the nations will see that even until now they were only needlessly watching over our abundance, to give it back to us at the desired time.
It follows that “A man has exercised authority over another is to his hurt,” since the hardship of enslavement—that they ruled over us at the time when the evil man was governing the man of Kedusha—was only to hurt the evil man, since because of it, we rushed to come to faith in the Creator and to collect from him all the thefts he has robbed of us.
The prophet said about that time, “Who would not fear You, O King of the nations?” This is because now it has been revealed that You are the king of the nations, to tyrannize them, to strike them, and to do with them as You please. And what seemed before, that they were tyrannizing us, has now been revealed as the opposite, that they were only our servants and slaves, to bring us into whole faith. And what seemed before, that they were striking us, has now been revealed as the opposite—they themselves were stricken—for by that, they rushed us to come into wholeness, and hurried their own bitter end.
And in a place where it seemed that they were rebelling against the Creator and worked by their own desire and will, to oppress us for the fulfillment of their evil wills, and there was no judgment and no judge, now it has been revealed that they were only following the Creator’s will to bring us into wholeness. By that, it became clear that You are the king of the nations from beginning to end, since You ruled over them and forced them to always do Your will, as a king over his servants. And now the fear of Your sublimity has appeared in all the nations, and it is written, “Who would not fear You, O King of the nations?”
“Among all the sages of the nations” refers to the rulers and the ministers appointed over them. These are the appointees Afriron and Kastimon in the land, as well as Aza and Azael, from whom the sages of the nations draw their wisdom and pester Israel.
It is written, “In all their kingdoms.” There are four governing kingdoms above. By the Creator’s will, they govern all the other nations. These four kingdoms are implied in the Tzelem [semblance] in the image of Nebuchadnezzar:
Its head was of fine gold;
Its breast and its arms of silver;
Its belly and thighs of brass;
Its shins of iron, its legs part iron and part clay.
And these four are HB TM de Klipa, governing over all seventy nations of the world.
And yet, there is none among them who does even the slightest thing by himself, but only as You have commanded them. In the end, it will be revealed that by all the enslavement and the blows through which they removed Israel from their father in heaven, they were only loyal servants to bringing them closer to their father in heaven in a way that they did not do a thing unless as You commanded them to do. It is written about it, “And He does according to His will in the host of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.”
In other words, to bring us into whole faith, to be rewarded with all His mercies, as it is written, “He has remembered His grace and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” Then the image will be broken, as it is written, “You saw that a stone was cut out … without hands,” and struck the image in its legs of iron and clay and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the brass, and the gold were grinded and crushed, and became as the chaff from the summer barns. They were carried by the wind and you will not find them anywhere. And the stone which struck the image has become a great mountain, filling the whole of the earth.
The holy faith is called “a stone that is held without the hands.” After He remembers His grace and His faithfulness, the stone is cut off by itself, not by the hands, and no place is found for them, as it is written, “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” And that stone became a great mountain, filling the whole earth, as it is written, “The whole earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”
167) All the sages of the nations and all their kingdoms are the armies and the camps above. Even though they were charged over the matters of the world and He commanded each to do his work, who is he who can do? None of them, like You. It is because You are inscribed in Your value, and You are inscribed in Your deeds from all of them. This is the meaning of “There is none like You O Lord.” Who is the hidden holy One above and below, who will do and will be like You, similar to You in all the deeds of the holy King in heaven and in earth? In their kingdom, it is written, “And the land was unformed and void.”
168) Rabbi Shimon said to the friends, “My sons, this wedding, each of you will adorn the bride with one decoration.” He said to Rabbi Elazar, his son, “Elazar, give one gift to the bride, for on the next day, when ZA enters the Huppah, He will look at the songs and praises that the members of the palace have given her for when she stands before Him.”