Anthology Topics:Cruelty  2 Erev Rav  3 Father  4 The First Man  5 Forefathers  6 Heretics 7 The Holy Temple  8 LimbsLove of G-d  10 Man  11 The Nations of the World 12 Prophecy 13 Reproof  14 Reward and Punishment 15 Suffering  16 Swiftness  17 Torah   18 Torah Study  19 The World to ComeB”H

gaonpicB”H Excerpts from An Anthology of the Gaon by

Rabbi Moshe Zuriel {Tzuriel}

A Selection of sayings of the Vilna Gaon regarding beliefs, extracted from most of the writings of his disciples, of those faithful to him, and from some of his own writings.

This Anthology is Not Appropriate For Non-Jewish
Souls. Instead Press On: Miracles of the Gulf War

Erev Rav


“The entire 974 generations (Hagiga 14.) which are `Erev Rav which
are the souls from the world of chaos, G-d transplants them every
generation, and they are the bold-faced of the generation.
Our Sages said that in the period of “messiah’s footsteps”
impudence will become great… and the `erev rav will return to be
the shepherds of Israel” – Safra ditz’ni`utha, chapter 1, beginning
with the words “They were not watching” (3).

“You should know that there are five kinds of `erev rav.
The first kind are argumentative and libelous people; the second kind
are those who pursue passion and fornication; the third kind are
those who are deceitful, who pretend to be righteous but whose
hearts are not whole. The fourth kind are those who pursue honor
in order to make a name for themselves; the fifth kind are those
who pursue money… and the argumentative kind are the equivalent
of all of them: they are called `Amalekim, and the son of Dovid will
not come until they have passed out of this world, for it is of them
that we recite timche et zekher `Amalek – “You shall erase the
memory of Amalek” – Adderet Eliyahu, commentary on Deut. 1:1 (325),
his words being based on Zohar 1:25, 27; 3:125: and see the Gaon’s
commentary on Tikkunei Zohar 97, pp. 86,91.

Adam, the first Man, sinned because of the souls of the `erev rav
he contained – they caused him to sin. Similarly, Moshe Rabbeinu…
because of the “erev rav” came to make mistakes. And these are the
`erev rav that they desire to be the spiritual authorities and of
great status and jump forward to teach (religious conduct) though
they have not reached that level – Yahel Ohr, commentary on Zohar 1:28:
beginning with uMoshe b’gineihu.

“Arguments which are not for the sake of Heaven come from the Erev Rav,
those who jump forward to teach and to take the crown of `let us
make for ourselves a name’ – Tikkunei Zohar, p. 91, beginning and
who caused [it] (v. Maimonides, Hilkhot Talmud Torah 5:4: `and every
knowledgeable person who has not reached the level of teaching
(spiritual conduct) and teaches is wicked, idiotic and rude…
These are the small intellectuals who have not studied Torah as
much as they should, but try to make a great impression on the boors
and the people of their own town, and so they jump up and sit at
the head of the line of sages who come to discuss cases and teach
Israel. These are the ones who are argumentative, they destroy the
world and extinguish the light of Torah, as they sabotage the
vineyard of the L-rd of Hosts. Of them Solomon said:
“ehezu lanu shu`alim, shu`alim k’tannim m’habb’lim k’ramim” –
“grasp for us the foxes, little foxes that destroy the vineyards”.

“All the exile, the destruction of the Temple and all the
troubles – it all results from Moshe Rabbeinu having accepted
the `erev rav. All the bold-faced and wicked people of the generation
are from them, i.e., their souls are theirs (that is to say this
is not physically inherited by lineage, but rather a mere
reincarnation of souls), in that they are a reincarnation of them.
This is what was meant in the Gemara, hani me`erev rav qa’ati – these
spring from the erev rav –
the Gaon on Tikkunei HaZohar 97, beginning v’aleihu.
(Rabbi Yitzhak Hotner also commented on this, in
“Pahad Yitzhak”, Pesah, pp. 246-247.)

“Of the Amalekites some were leaders of the Israelites in their galut,
their exile, acting violently and robbing the Jewish poor, and they
are from the side of the generation of the Flood… and the bad
separated out in the `erev rav, and when Moshe peace be unto
him received them [Zohar I/27b] their souls intermingled with
those of Israel, and this is the fourth exile… They are the
fallen ones, who follow around after loose women and after bribes
of this world. They are warriors, men of great name, all of whose
deeds are done in order to enhance their reputation. They are
spirits who do not desire to bestow kindness and charity for
masters of Torah; they are giants who ridicule Torah scholars” –
Tikkunei Zohar, p. 194.

“And all the exile and destruction of the Temple and all the
tribulations – it is all [the result] of Moshe Rabbeinu’s
accepting the `erev rav, and all the brash and evil men of the
generation are of them, that is to say from their souls, that
they are an incarnation of them.” – Tikkunei Zohar, p. 193.

“Just like roses are sown amongst the thorns, which are a
protection for the roses, so the Jewish people are in exile
amongst the `erev rav in order to speed up their redemption,
and for this reason the thorns have not ceased – Tikkunei Zohar p. 54
[this means that the troubles we are suffering from them serve to
speed up the time of the end].

“Eisav and Yishmael are entwined in Avraham and Yitzhak, but the
`erev rav are entwined in Yaakov; they are more problematic to
Israel and to the shekhina, for they are the leaven in the dough –
for all the misers and those who do not support the Torah are from
them” – Tikkunei Zohar, p. 35.

“The leaven in the dough” (B’rakhot 17a) is the `erev rav, who are
worse than the nations of the world [who kill us], because the
`erev rav stop Israel from performing the mitzvot (meaning: he
who misleads his friend has done a greater act of evil than he who
kills him – B’midbar Rabba 21:5) –
Imre No`am, B’rakhot 17a. Ohr Yahel 3/232, the place beginning:
the leaven in the dough.

…And see the profundity of their statements made about the blight,
and yet there is a fourth kind: `and they have mingled
(in Hebrew, Vayitarvu, related to the term Erev Rav) with the nations
and learned from their deeds’ – these are themselves Jews who adhered
to the `erev rav and became like them…and this fourth kind is
the most difficult of them all, and they are our brothers who
have soured” – his commentary to B’rakhot 54:

And in the book of Tikkunim of Zohar Hadash (p. 54) we find written:
“As for Yaakov, because he foresaw the pressure of the last exile in
the end of days, the Torah says And Yaakov was very much afraid and
felt troubled, and he divided up the holy nation in exile into three
divisions, and he placed the maidservants and their children first,
and Leah and her children behind them, and Rachel and Yosef last

And the Gaon wrote there:

The three divisions are as follows: the `erev rav, the good simple
people amongst them, and the scholars. The maidservants and their
children first – these are the `erev rav made by Lilit, the bad
maidservant, of whom it is said: And if a maidservant should inherit
her lady, and also her sons, who are the leaders of the holy
nation in the last exile, as it is said: Her foes became her leaders,
as it was said in “Raaya Mehemna” (Zohar 3/125).

Leah and her
children behind them – they are the good simple people.

Rachel and Yosef last of all – they are the scholars of whom Rachel
is the chief of the house… They are last because they are
downtrodden and debased, as it is said: Those who fear sin will
be despised, and the wisdom of the scribes [alt. translated as
counters] will be rotten, as he went on in R.M. (ibid., and
see Sanhedrin 98.). See: Leshem, Shevo V’Ahlama, Introduction
and Contents, p. 46, explanation.

Now it is clear why in Kol HaTor (chapter II, part II, section II)
R. Hillel of Shiklov brings in the name of the Gaon: “The general role
of two Messiahs, the messiah son of Yosef and the messiah son of Dovid,
throughout the generations is one of defense and war against the
three leading husks – Eisav, Yishmael and Erev Rav… The
`erev rav is our greatest foe, he is what separates the two
Messiahs, The `erev rav husk operates only by deceit and
indirectly. Therefore the war against the `erev rav is the
most difficult and most bitter, and we must use all our
remaining forces to win this war. Whoever is not engaged in
actively fighting the `erev rav becomes an automatic partner
to the husk of the `erev rav, and whoever this may be it would
be better for him had he not been created.

The main force of
the `erev rav is at the gates of Jerusalem by the entrance of
the city (The Great Period, 503-504).

This seems to be a shift and a change in the definition of `erev rav
from what we have seen in the other quotations (full of desire,
argumentative, honor-seeking, hurrying to give instruction though
they are unqualified to do so, etc.). It would seem that this point
mentioned by “Kol HaTor” of the resistance to the realization of
the redemption of the Jews was not expressed in the other
utterances by the Gaon regarding the `erev rav. This, however, is
what R. Hillel of Shiklov explains to us: the nation of Israel has
suffered so many tribulations during its horrible exile
(see MahaRal, Netzah Yisrael, the beginning of chapter 49),
and our heart boils over with distress at the memory of our
terrible debasement, both in spirituality and in materiality.
How, now, can there arise out of our nation Sanballats to
destroy and disrupt the restoration of the nation of Israel
in its land? The only explanation possible is that they really
are full of desire, argumentative, proud etc. – lacking true
links with the Jewish people or with the Torah of Israel.

We must not take into consideration that some of them do
actually have some superficial knowledge of Torah
(see Adderet Eliyahu to Deut. 32:20) for My people is foolish,
they do not know Me… they are wise in causing evil, but
know not how to do good (Jeremiah 4:22). That is, if they
are not G-d-fearing – they do not know Me – they will turn
the words of the living G-d into lies and deceit. The proof
that their hearts are impure is that they are not distressed
at the disaster of Yosef (Amos 6:6). They do not feel sorrow
at the disaster of the entire Jewish people, though they
chatter Torah-like platitudes of love of Israel. “And
they heal the disaster of My nation too easily, saying
`Peace, peace!’ – but there is no peace!” (Jeremiah 6:14).
Further proof, instead of quarreling with the nations
of the world who cause us distress, they choose to
argue and quarrel with the faithful of Israel –
all by virtue of those very same characteristics
defined by the Zohar (I/25).

All this was seen at the time by R. Hillel of Shiklov. He knew how the
words of the Zohar and those of the Gaon, his rabbi, could co-exist
with contemporary problems. The false virtues of the hypocrites and
deceivers are what cause them to put barriers and other delays on
the path to the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the redemption of Israel.
Really, all the words of this chapter correspond to one another
extremely precisely – to whoever understands.


Links to some of the other articles on this web site that portray the Gaon’s views:
* Monotheism Vs. The Outlook That Everything is G-d, by Mr. S. M. Scheinman which provides some background to the Gaon’s monotheistic beliefs.
* Divine Assistance 

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