to the inner houses, where there is only light; that source, according to which He is surrounded by darkness, is referring to the outer houses. And Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov said: There is one more firmament above these, which is above the heads of the divine creatures, as it is written: “And over the heads of the divine creatures there was the likeness of a firmament, like the color of the terrible ice” (Ezekiel 1:22). בְּבָתֵּי גַוָּאֵי, הָא בְּבָתֵּי בָרָאֵי. וְאָמַר רַב אַחָא בַּר יַעֲקֹב: עוֹד רָקִיעַ אֶחָד יֵשׁ לְמַעְלָה מֵרָאשֵׁי הַחַיּוֹת, דִּכְתִיב: ״וּדְמוּת עַל רָאשֵׁי הַחַיָּה רָקִיעַ כְּעֵין הַקֶּרַח הַנּוֹרָא״.
The Gemara comments: Until here, you have permission to speak; from this point forward you do not have permission to speak, as it is written in the book of Ben Sira: Seek not things concealed from you, nor search those hidden from you. Reflect on that which is permitted to you; you have no business with secret matters. It is taught in a baraita: Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai said: What response did the Divine Voice provide to that wicked man, Nebuchadnezzar, when he said: “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14), thereby intending to rise to heaven? A Divine Voice came and said to him: Wicked man, son of a wicked man, descendant, i.e., follower of the ways, of Nimrod the wicked, who caused the entire world to rebel against Him during the time of his reign. עַד כָּאן יֵשׁ לְךָ רְשׁוּת לְדַבֵּר, מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ — אֵין לְךָ רְשׁוּת לְדַבֵּר, שֶׁכֵּן כָּתוּב בְּסֵפֶר בֶּן סִירָא: ״בַּמּוּפְלָא מִמְּךָ אַל תִּדְרוֹשׁ, וּבַמְכוּסֶּה מִמְּךָ אַל תַּחְקוֹר. בַּמֶּה שֶׁהוֹרְשֵׁיתָ הִתְבּוֹנֵן, אֵין לְךָ עֵסֶק בַּנִּסְתָּרוֹת״. תַּנְיָא, אָמַר רַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי: מָה תְּשׁוּבָה הֱשִׁיבַתּוּ בַּת קוֹל לְאוֹתוֹ רָשָׁע בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁאָמַר ״אֶעֱלֶה עַל בָּמֳתֵי עָב אֶדַּמֶּה לְעֶלְיוֹן״ — יָצְתָה בַּת קוֹל וְאָמְרָה לוֹ: רָשָׁע בֶּן רָשָׁע, בֶּן בְּנוֹ שֶׁל נִמְרוֹד הָרָשָׁע, שֶׁהִמְרִיד כָּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ עָלָיו בְּמַלְכוּתוֹ —
How many are the years of man? Seventy years, as it is stated: “The span of our life is seventy years, or if we are strong, eighty years” (Psalms 90:10). Now is there not from the earth to the firmament a walking distance of five hundred years, and the thickness of the firmament itself is a walking distance of five hundred years, and a similar distance exists between each and every one of the firmaments? כַּמָּה שְׁנוֹתָיו שֶׁל אָדָם — שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״יְמֵי שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרוֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה״. וַהֲלֹא מִן הָאָרֶץ עַד לָרָקִיעַ מַהֲלַךְ חֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה, וְעוֹבְיוֹ שֶׁל רָקִיעַ מַהֲלַךְ חֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה, וְכֵן בֵּין כׇּל רָקִיעַ וְרָקִיעַ.
And above them, above all the firmaments, are the divine creatures. The feet of the divine creatures correspond in distance to all the firmaments; the ankles of the animals correspond to all of them, the shins of the animals correspond to all of them, the knees of the animals correspond to all of them, the thighs of the animals correspond to all of them, the bodies of the animals correspond to all of them, the necks of the animals correspond to all of them, the heads of the animals correspond to all of them, and the horns of the animals correspond to all of them. Above them is the Throne of Glory: The feet of the Throne of Glory correspond to all of them, the Throne of Glory corresponds to all of them, and the living, almighty, lofty, exalted King dwells above them. And you, Nebuchadnezzar, say: “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:15), but the next verse states: “Yet you shall be brought down to the netherworld, to the uttermost parts of the pit” (Isaiah 14:15). לְמַעְלָה מֵהֶן — חַיּוֹת הַקֹּדֶשׁ. רַגְלֵי הַחַיּוֹת כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּם, קַרְסוּלֵי הַחַיּוֹת כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּן, שׁוֹקֵי הַחַיּוֹת כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּן, רְכוּבֵּי הַחַיּוֹת כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּן, יַרְכֵי הַחַיּוֹת כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּן, גּוּפֵי הַחַיּוֹת כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּן, צַוְּארֵי הַחַיּוֹת כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּן, רָאשֵׁי הַחַיּוֹת כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּן, קַרְנֵי הַחַיּוֹת כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּן. לְמַעְלָה מֵהֶן — כִּסֵּא כָּבוֹד. רַגְלֵי כִּסֵּא הַכָּבוֹד כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּן, כִּסֵּא הַכָּבוֹד כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּן, מֶלֶךְ אֵל חַי וְקַיָּם רָם וְנִשָּׂא שׁוֹכֵן עֲלֵיהֶם, וְאַתָּה אָמַרְתָּ: ״אֶעֱלֶה עַל בָּמֳתֵי עָב אֶדַּמֶּה לְעֶלְיוֹן״ — ״אַךְ אֶל שְׁאוֹל תּוּרָד אֶל יַרְכְּתֵי בוֹר״.
§ It is taught in the mishna, according to the Gemara’s explanation: Nor may one expound the Design of the Divine Chariot to an individual. Rabbi Ḥiyya taught: But one may transmit to him, an individual, the outlines of this topic, leaving him to comprehend the rest on his own. Rabbi Zeira said: One may transmit the outlines of the Design of the Divine Chariot only to the president of the court, who needs to know them due to his wisdom and meritorious deeds, and to anyone whose heart inside him is concerned, i.e., one who is concerned about his sins and desires to achieve full repentance. There are those who say that this does not refer to two separate individuals, but to the president of the court, whose heart inside him is concerned. וְלֹא בַּמֶּרְכָּבָה בְּיָחִיד. תָּנֵי רַבִּי חִיָּיא: אֲבָל מוֹסְרִין לוֹ רָאשֵׁי פְרָקִים. אָמַר רַבִּי זֵירָא: אֵין מוֹסְרִין רָאשֵׁי פְרָקִים אֶלָּא לְאַב בֵּית דִּין, וּלְכׇל מִי שֶׁלִּבּוֹ דּוֹאֵג בְּקִרְבּוֹ. אִיכָּא דְּאָמְרִי, וְהוּא שֶׁלִּבּוֹ דּוֹאֵג בְּקִרְבּוֹ.

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Rabbi Ami said: The secrets of the Torah may be transmitted only to one who possesses the following five characteristics: “The captain of fifty, and the man of favor, and the counselor, and the cunning charmer, and the skillful enchanter” (Isaiah 3:3). And Rabbi Ami said further: The words of Torah may not be transmitted to a gentile, as it is stated: “He has not dealt so with any nation, and as for His ordinances, they have not known them” (Psalms 147:20). אָמַר רַבִּי אַמֵּי: אֵין מוֹסְרִין סִתְרֵי תוֹרָה אֶלָּא לְמִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ חֲמִשָּׁה דְבָרִים: ״שַׂר חֲמִשִּׁים, וּנְשׂוּא פָנִים, וְיוֹעֵץ, וַחֲכַם חֲרָשִׁים, וּנְבוֹן לָחַשׁ״. וְאָמַר רַבִּי אַמֵּי: אֵין מוֹסְרִין דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה לְגוֹי, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״לֹא עָשָׂה כֵן לְכׇל גּוֹי וּמִשְׁפָּטִים בַּל יְדָעוּם״.
§ The Gemara relates: Rabbi Yoḥanan said to Rabbi Elazar: Come and I will teach you the Design of the Divine Chariot. Rabbi Elazar said to him: I have not yet aged sufficiently, as one must be very settled in one’s mind for these studies. When he grew old, Rabbi Yoḥanan had already passed away. Rabbi Asi said to him: Come and I will teach you the Design of the Divine Chariot. He said to him: Had I merited, I would have learned it from Rabbi Yoḥanan, your teacher. It therefore appears that I am unworthy of studying it. אֲמַר לֵיהּ רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן לְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: תָּא אַגְמְרָךְ בְּמַעֲשֵׂה הַמֶּרְכָּבָה, אֲמַר לֵיהּ: לָא קַשַּׁאי. כִּי קַשׁ — נָח נַפְשֵׁיהּ דְּרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן. אֲמַר לֵיהּ רַבִּי אַסִּי: תָּא וְאַגְמְרָךְ בְּמַעֲשֵׂה מֶרְכָּבָה. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: אִי זְכַאי גְּמִירְתַּהּ מֵרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן רַבָּךְ.
The Gemara relates: Rav Yosef would study the Design of the Divine Chariot and was familiar with the subject, whereas the Elders of Pumbedita would study the act of Creation. They said to Rav Yosef: Let the Master teach us the Design of the Divine Chariot. He said to them: You teach me the act of Creation. After they taught him that subject, they said to him: Let the Master teach us the Design of the Divine Chariot. He said to them: We learned with regard to them the secrets of the Torah: “Honey and milk are under your tongue” (Song of Songs 4:11), meaning that matters that are sweeter than honey and milk should remain under your tongue. In other words, one should not speak of such matters, and anyone who is familiar with them may not reveal them to others. רַב יוֹסֵף הֲוָה גְּמִיר מַעֲשֵׂה הַמֶּרְכָּבָה. סָבֵי דְפוּמְבְּדִיתָא הֲווֹ תָּנוּ בְּמַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית. אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ: (לִיגְמוֹר לַן) [לַיגְמְרַן] מָר מַעֲשֵׂה מֶרְכָּבָה. אֲמַר לְהוּ: אַגְמְרוּן לִי מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית. בָּתַר דְּאַגְמְרוּהּ, אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ: לַיגְמְרַון מָר בְּמַעֲשֵׂה מֶרְכָּבָה! אֲמַר לְהוּ: תְּנֵינָא בְּהוּ ״דְּבַשׁ וְחָלָב תַּחַת לְשׁוֹנֵךְ״, דְּבָרִים הַמְּתוּקִין מִדְּבַשׁ וְחָלָב — יְהוּ תַּחַת לְשׁוֹנֵךְ.
Rabbi Abbahu said: It is derived from here, from the following verse: “The lambs [kevasim] will be for your clothing” (Proverbs 27:26), which he expounds as though it were written with the letter shin, kevashim, meaning concealed matters: Things that constitute the concealed matters of the world should be under your clothing; you should not reveal them. When the Elders of Pumbedita saw that Rav Yosef was not going to teach them, they said to him: We have learned them, the verses concerning the Design of the Divine Chariot written in the book of Ezekiel, up to the verse “And He said to me, son of man” (Ezekiel 2:1). He said to them: If so, these verses are the very essence of the Design of the Divine Chariot, as they provide the main details of the topic. רַבִּי אֲבָהוּ אָמַר מֵהָכָא: ״כְּבָשִׁים לִלְבוּשֶׁךָ״, דְּבָרִים שֶׁהֵן כִּבְשׁוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם — יִהְיוּ תַּחַת לְבוּשֶׁךָ. אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ: תְּנֵינַן בְּהוּ עַד ״וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלַי בֶּן אָדָם״. אֲמַר לְהוּ: הֵן הֵן מַעֲשֵׂה הַמֶּרְכָּבָה.
The Gemara raises an objection to this from a baraita: Until where is the Design of the Divine Chariot related? Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says: Until the latter “And I saw” (Ezekiel 1:27), not including the last verse. Rabbi Yitzḥak says: Until the word “the electrum” (Ezekiel 1:27). Neither of these opinions accord with Rav Yosef’s opinion that the Design of the Divine Chariot continues until the end of the chapter. The Gemara answers: Until “And I saw,” we teach those worthy of it; from this point forward, we transmit only the outlines. There are those who say: Until “And I saw,” we transmit the outlines; from this point forward, if he is wise and can understand of his own accord, yes, we teach him. If not, we do not teach him even the outlines. מֵיתִיבִי: עַד הֵיכָן מַעֲשֵׂה הַמֶּרְכָּבָה? רַבִּי אוֹמֵר: עַד ״וָאֵרֶא״ בָּתְרָא, רַבִּי יִצְחָק אוֹמֵר: עַד ״הַחַשְׁמַל״. עַד ״וָאֵרֶא״ מַגְמְרִינַן, מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ מָסְרִינַן רָאשֵׁי פְרָקִים. אִיכָּא דְּאָמְרִי: עַד ״וָאֵרֶא״ מָסְרִינַן רָאשֵׁי פְרָקִים, מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ, אִם הוּא חָכָם מֵבִין מִדַּעְתּוֹ — אִין, אִי לָא — לָא.
The Gemara poses a question: And may one teach about the electrum of the Design of the Divine Chariot at all? But wasn’t there a certain youth who expounded the electrum, and fire came out and consumed him, showing that such study is highly dangerous? The Gemara answers: That youth was different, for his time to study such matters had not yet arrived. Therefore, he was punished. וּמִי דָּרְשִׁינַן בְּחַשְׁמַל? וְהָא הָהוּא יָנוֹקָא דִּדְרַשׁ בְּחַשְׁמַל, וּנְפַקָא נוּרָא וַאֲכַלְתֵּיהּ! שָׁאנֵי יָנוֹקָא, דְּלָאו מָטֵי זִימְנֵיהּ.
Rav Yehuda said: Indeed, that man is remembered for good, and Ḥananya ben Ḥizkiya was his name, because were it not for him, the book of Ezekiel would have been suppressed. Why did they wish to suppress it? Because they found that its words contradicted the words of Torah, as its later chapters contain many halakhot that appear not to accord with those of the Torah. What did he do? They brought up to him three hundred barrels of oil, for light and sustenance, and he sat in an upper chamber and expounded it, to reconcile its teachings with those of the Torah. אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה: בְּרַם זָכוּר אוֹתוֹ הָאִישׁ לַטּוֹב, וַחֲנַנְיָה בֶּן חִזְקִיָּה שְׁמוֹ. אִלְמָלֵא הוּא — נִגְנַז סֵפֶר יְחֶזְקֵאל, שֶׁהָיוּ דְּבָרָיו סוֹתְרִין דִּבְרֵי תוֹרָה. מֶה עָשָׂה? הֶעֱלוּ לוֹ שְׁלוֹשׁ מֵאוֹת גַּרְבֵי שֶׁמֶן, וְיָשַׁב בַּעֲלִיָּיה וּדְרָשׁוֹ.
The Sages taught: An incident occurred involving a youth who was reading the book of Ezekiel in the house of his teacher, and he was able to comprehend the electrum, and fire came out of the electrum and burned him. And they sought to suppress the book of Ezekiel due to the danger it posed. Ḥananya ben Ḥizkiya said to them: If this youth happened to be wise, are all people wise enough to understand this book? תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: מַעֲשֶׂה בְּתִינוֹק אֶחָד שֶׁהָיָה קוֹרֵא בְּבֵית רַבּוֹ בְּסֵפֶר יְחֶזְקֵאל וְהָיָה מֵבִין בְּחַשְׁמַל, וְיָצְאָה אֵשׁ מֵחַשְׁמַל וּשְׂרָפַתּוּ, וּבִיקְשׁוּ לִגְנוֹז סֵפֶר יְחֶזְקֵאל. אָמַר לָהֶם חֲנַנְיָה בֶּן חִזְקִיָּה: אִם זֶה חָכָם — הַכֹּל חֲכָמִים הֵן?
The Gemara asks: What is the electrum? Rav Yehuda said: מַאי חַשְׁמַל? אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה: