(1) 1. but he did not go over to them. Even though he did not join them and was not included in the count, "David set him over his guard" (Ibid.) because he was never separated from the tablet of his heart, because they are inseparable. David gave his heart to him, but he did not (do the same) to David. Because by the hymns and praises together with the kindness that the moon shows for the sun, she draws him (the sun) to reside with her. This is what the verse, "And David set him over his guard," means.
(2) 2. Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Abba fell down (on their faces) in front of him. And as they fell, he disappeared. Then they rose and looked all around but could not see him. So they sat down, began to weep, and could not speak to each other. After a while, Rabbi Abba said, This must be related to what we have learned. When righteous people go on a journey and occupy themselves in the study of the Torah, they are visited by righteous souls from that other world. So this surely must (be why) Rav Hamnuna Saba came to us from that world - to reveal these teachings to us. And before we were able to recognize who he was, he went off and disappeared.They stood up and tried to lead their donkeys on, but the donkeys did not move. They tried to lead them on, but still they did not move. Fear struck them both, and they left the donkeys in their place. And even now, that site is called the "place of the donkeys."
(3) 3. Rabbi Elazar said, "O, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You" (Ps. 31:20). How great is the heavenly abundance that the Holy One, blessed be He, shall bestow on human beings; to those sin-fearing, divine, and righteous men who learn the Torah as they arrive at the World to Come. It is not only written, "Your goodness," but also "how great is Your goodness." And who is He? "The memory of Your goodness" (Ps. 145:7), which is the pleasure of life that is drawn from the World to Come down to the life of the Worlds. This is"the memory of your goodness," which is certainly "the great goodness toward the house of Yisrael" (Isaiah 63:7).
(4) 4. Further "How (Heb. מָה) great is Your goodness". In these words, the secret of Wisdom is engraved. It is the place where all the secrets are included, the word how (מָה) (means) according to what we have learned. "Great" refers to a great and strong tree (Zeir Anpin). Because there is another tree, which is smaller than this one (Malchut), this one is referred to as great and rises up to the highest of the heavens. "Your Goodness" is the light that was created on the first day; "which You have laid up for those who fear You." He hid it for the righteous in the World to Come.
(5) 5. which You have performed" (Ps. 31:20), alludes to the upper Garden of Eden, as it is written, "In the place, Hashem, which You have made for Yourself to dwell in" (Ex. 15:17). This is what the words "which You have performed for those who trust in You" signify. "In the sight of the sons of men" (Ps. 31:20). This is the lower Garden of Eden, where all the righteous stand in the spirit, which is clothed in a precious garment, in the same way and form that they appeared in this world. Thus, the phrase "in the sight of the sons of men" means in the same form as human beings that live in this world. And they stand there and then rise up in the air, ascending to the celestial Academy in the upper Garden of Eden. They float around and bathe in the dew of the rivers of pure balsam. Then they come down and dwell below. And sometimes (these righteous souls) appear "in the sight of the sons of man" to perform miracles for them, just as the angels of above do. And this is exactly like the Light of the supernal shining light that we have just seen. But we did not have the merit of seeing deeper into the secrets of Wisdom and attaining greater knowledge.
(6) 6. Rabbi Abba opened the discussion, saying: "And Manoach said to his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen Elohim" (Judges 13:22). Even though Manoach was not aware of his actions, he still said, it is written, "For man shall not see Me and live" (Ex. 33:20). We have certainly seen Him, and therefore we shall certainly die. Yet, we who have seen and have had the privilege of seeing that light that accompanied us shall stay alive, because the Holy One, blessed be He, sent him to us, to teach us the secrets of the Wisdom that he chose to reveal . How happy is our lot!
(7) 7. They went along and reached a mountain just as the sun was about to set. The branches of the trees on the mountain started to rustle and sing. While they were still walking they heard a strong voice calling out, Holy sons of Elohim, you who are scattered among those who live in this world, those shining lights who are the Yeshivah scholars, gather around and come to your places so that you may enjoy yourselves with your Master in the study of the Torah. They were frightened and (stayed) standing in their places. Then they sat down. In the meantime, a voice came forth again, and said, O, mighty rocks, exalted hammers, here comes the Master of colors, embroidered with paintings, standing upon a pillar. Enter and be assembled.
(8) 8. At this moment, they heard the great and mighty voice of the tree branches, which were saying, "The voice of Hashem breaks the cedars" (Ps. 29:5). Both Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Abba fell down on their faces, and a great fear overcame them. They rose hastily and went away, after which they ceased to hear anything. They left the mountain and kept on going.
(9) 9. As they reached the house of Rabbi Yosi, the son of Rabbi Shimon, the son of Lakonya, they met Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.