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Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

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Chagigah 13

3. (R. Acha b. Yakov) There is one more firmament above the heads of the Chayos (Yechezkel 1:22).
4. However, we cannot discuss that realm, because it has been taught (in Sefer Ben Sira), "Do not inquire about that which is hidden from you."
5. (R. Yochanan b. Zakai) When Nevuchadnezar the wicked resolved to ascend to heaven and make himself as G-d, (Yeshayah 14:14), a Bas Kol issued forth and said:
(i) "Man lives only for seventy or eighty years (Tehilim 90:10),
(ii) and yet the time that it takes to travel from the earth to the top of the Throne of Glory is far greater, for one must go through the seven firmaments and their width, and then through the height of the different parts of the Chayos, and then through the height of the Throne of Glory, or about 14,336,000 years away. ((14 X 500) + (14 X 500) + ((14 X 500) X 2) + ((14 X 500) X 4) + ((14 X 500) X 8) + ((14 X 500) X 16) + ((14 X 500) X 32) + ((14 X 500) X 64) + ((14 X 500) X 128) + ((14 X 500) X 256) + ((14 X 500) X 512) + ((14 X 500) X 1024))
(iii) Rather, 'to Hell shall you descend, to the bottom of the pit!' (Yeshayah 14:15)."
(a) (R. Chiya) One may not teach Ma'aseh Merkavah to a single individual, but one may give him the chapter headings.
(b) (R. Zeira) One may only give the chapter headings to one who is an Av Beis Din and whose heart is fearful within him.
(c) (R. Ami) The secrets of the Torah may be given only to one who possesses five character traits, as listed in the verse (Yeshayah 3:3).
(d) (R. Ami) Divrei Torah may not be taught to a Nochri (Tehilim 147:20).
(e) R. Yosef was learned in Ma'aseh Merkavah, while the elders of Pumbedisa were learned in Ma'aseh Bereishis.
1. They agreed to teach each other their respective knowledge.
2. R. Yosef, after learning Ma'aseh Bereishis from the elders of Pumbedisa, refused to teach them Ma'aseh Merkavah.
(i) "Honey and milk beneath your tongue" (Shir ha'Shirim 4:11) -- the things (secrets of Torah) which are sweeter than honey shall remain beneath your tongue (and not be divulged).
(ii) (R. Avahu) "Kevasim Lilvushecha (the wool of lambs is your clothing)" (Mishlei 27:26) -- do not read "Kevasim" but rather "Kevushim (the hidden things)," meaning that the hidden things about the world shall remain hidden under your garment.
3. They said, "We already know [Ma'aseh Merkavah] until the parapraph of "Vayomer Elai" (Yechezkel 2:1).
4. R. Yosef replied, "If so, you know the main part of the Ma'aseh Merkavah!"
5. Question: Is that so? But did not Rebbi say that Ma'aseh Merkavah is until "Va'eire" (Yechezkel 1:27), and R. Yitzchak said until "ha'Chashmal" (1:4)?
6. Answer #1: Until "Va'eire" (or "ha'Chashmal), one may teach the Ma'aseh Merkavah, and from then on one may only give over the chapter headings.
7. Answer #2: Until "Va'eire" (or "ha'Chashmal") one may give over the chapter headings, and from then on one may give them over only if the student is wise and understands of his own.
(f) Question: Is it at all permitted to learn "Chashmal" (part of Ma'aseh Merkavah)?
1. A young child was learning "Chashmal" and a flame came out and consumed him!
(g) Answer: A young child is different, for his time had not yet come [to delve into Ma'aseh Merkavah].
(h) (R. Yehudah in the name of Rav) Blessed be the memory of that man named Chananyah b. Chizkiyah.
1. The Chachamim wanted to hide away the Book of Yechezkel, due to verses in it which seem to contradict the Torah.
2. Chananyah b. Chizkiyah who spent many hours to resolve those verses, and as a result the Chachamim did not hide away the Book of Yechezkel.
(i) (Beraisa) A young child was reading the Book of Yechezkel and understanding the description of the "Chashmal."
1. A flame came out and burned him.
2. The Chachamim wanted to hide away the Book of Yechezkel.
3. Chananyah b. Chizkiyah said, "If this child was so exceptionally brilliant, are all children like that!?"
(a) Question: What is "Chashmal?"

(b) Answer #1 (R. Yehudah): "Chayos Esh Memalelos" (Chayos of fire speaking)
(c) Answer #2 (Beraisa): "Sometimes they are Chashos (silent), sometimes they are Memalelos (speaking)"
1. When Hashem gives forth His speech, they are silent.
2. When Hashem does not give forth his speech, they speak.
(d) Question: What is "Ratzo v'Shov" in the verse, "The Chayos are Ratzo v'Shov like the appearance of the Bezek" (Yechezkel 1:14)?
(e) Answer: Like the light that flashes forth from the oven.
(f) Question: What is "... like the appearance of the Bezek?"
(g) Answer: Like the multicolor light flashes that come from between the goldsmiths' potsherds.
(h) Question: "... The stormy wind was coming from the north..." (Yechezkel 1:4) -- what was it doing in the north?
(i) Answer: It went to the north to give power to Nevuchadnezar to conquer the entire world.
1. This was done so that the nations would not say that Hashem gave over his children to a lowly, weak nation.
2. Hashem said, "Who caused that I should be a servant to the idolators? -It was the sins of Yisrael."
(j) (R. Elazar) "... There was one Ofan on the land, next to the Chayos..." (Yechezkel 1:15) -- this teaches that there is one Malach standing on the earth whose head reaches the Chayos.
1. (Beraisa) That Malach's name is "Sndlpon," who stands 500 years taller than his colleague.
2. He stands behind the Merkavah and forms crowns for his Creator.
3. Even though the Creator's place is unknowable (Yechezkel 3:12), this Malach utters the Name and the crown goes by itself and rests upon His head.
(a) (Rava) Everything that Yechezkel saw, Yeshayah saw.
(b) However, Yechezkel was like a villager who saw the king (and thus makes a big deal about it), while Yeshayah was like one who lives in the capital city who saw the king (and thus does not make a big deal about it).
(a) (Reish Lakish) The king of wild animals is the lion, the king of domesticated animals is the ox, the king of birds is the eagle, and man is above them, and Hashem is above them all and above the entire world (Shemos 15:1).
(b) Question: One verse says that the four-sided face of the angels contains the faces of a man, lion, ox, and eagle (Yechezkel 1:10), while another verse places a cherub in place of the ox (Yechezkel 10:14)!
(c) Answer: Yechezkel prayed for mercy that the face of the ox be replaced, so that it not prosecute the Jewish people (because of the sin of the Golden Calf), and it was changed to a cherub.
1. Question: What does the word "Keruv" (cherub) mean?
2. Answer: "Like a child (k'Rivya)," as they call a child in Bavel "Rivya."
3. Question: What is the difference between the face of a man and the face of a cherub?
4. Answer: One is the face of an adult, one is the face of a baby.
(d) Question: One verse says that the angels have six wings (Yeshayah 6:2), while another verse says that they have four wings (Yechezkel 1:6)!
(e) Answer: One verse (six wings) is referring to when the Beis ha'Mikdash is standing, and the other verse is referring to when the Beis ha'Mikdash is not standing -- the wings of the Chayos diminished.
1. (R. Chananel in the name of Rav) They lost the two wings with which they say Shirah.
2. (Rabanan) They lost the two wings which cover their feet.
(f) Question: One verse says a thousand thousands of angels serve Him, and a myriad of myriads rise before Him (Daniel 7:10), while another verse says there is no number to His legions (Iyov 25:3)!
(g) Answer #1: One verse refers to when the Beis ha'Mikdash is standing (His legions are infinite), while the other verse refers to when the Beis ha'Mikdash is not standing -- the heavenly legions, as it were, diminished.
(h) Answer #2 (Beraisa): The first verse (a thousand thousands) refers to the number of angels in each legion that serve Him; the second verse (an infinite number) refers to the number of His legions.
(i) (R. Yirmiyah b. Aba): "A thousand thousands serve Him" to the River Dinor (Daniel 7:10).
1. These angels come from the sweat of the Chayos.
2. (R. Zutra b. Tuvyah in the name of Rav) This River spills onto the heads of the Resha'im in Gehinom (Yirmiyahu 23:19).
3. (R. Acha b. Yakov) It spills onto the generations which were uprooted from being created (Iyov 22:16).
(i) (Beraisa) These are the 974 generations that were uprooted from being created before the creation of the world.
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