The Angel of Death Is among the Women

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26) While Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Yosi were engaging in Torah, the day rose. They rose and went before Rabbi Shimon. When he saw them, Rabbi Shimon said, “Elazar, my son, you and the friends hide yourselves these three days and do not come out because the angel of death is in the city, and he has permission to harm.” When permission is given to a saboteur, he can destroy anyone who appears before him.

27) Moreover, the person who appears before him, the angel of death rises and slanders him, mentioning his iniquities, asking the Creator for judgment, and not moving from there until that person is sentenced, and he is given permission and kills him.

28) Most of the people in the world do not die prematurely, except for those who do not know how to keep themselves. This is because when the dead is taken out of his home into the cemetery, the angel of death is among the women, since this is his way, as he seduced Eve and because of her caused death to the entire world. This is why he is the one who puts the man to death. The men are with the dead, and the angel of death comes among the women on the way until the cemetery.

29) At that time he has permission to put people to death. He looks in the faces of those who appear before him on the way to the cemetery from the time the dead is taken out of his home to the cemetery until they return to their home. For this reason, he causes premature death to several people in the world because he rises and slanders, mentioning the iniquities of that person before the Creator, who is sentenced for those iniquities and departs before his time.

30) The correction for keeping safe from the angel of death is that when the dead is carried to the cemetery, one should turn his face and leave the women behind his shoulders. And if the women go first, he will walk behind them in a way that he is not seen with them face-to-face. When they return from the cemetery, he will not return by the way where the women stand and will not look at them at all, but will turn himself to another way. And because people do not know and do not regard it, the majority of the world are sentenced by judgment and depart prematurely.

31) Therefore, is it good for a person to not accompany the dead? No, because a person who keeps himself in this manner is worthy of a long life and the next world.

32) The first ones set up to blow the Shofar [a ram’s horn] for taking out the dead from his home to the cemetery, not for the glory of the dead, but to protect the living people, so the angel of death does not control them, slandering above.

33) “When you go to war in your land against the adversary who attacks you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets.” “The adversary” is the angel of death. “Who attacks you” always and puts people to death, seeking to kill everyone. His correction: “Sound an alarm.” If on Rosh Hashanah [New Year’s Day], on judgment day above, the angel of death comes down to look at people’s works and rises to slander them, Israel, who know that the angel of death is coming down and going up to slander them, blow the Shofar first to sob on it so he cannot defeat them, and to protect them.

34) It is all the more so when he is below, passing judgment and killing people. And even more so when they walk to the cemetery and return from the cemetery. This is so because when women walk with the dead, he descends and is before them, as it is written, “Her feet go down to death.” They go down to a place called, “death,” meaning that the angel of death comes before them when they walk to accompany the dead. This is why Eve caused death to the entire world.

35) It is written, “So is the way of an adulterous woman, she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no evil.’” “So is the way of an adulterous woman” is the angel of death. “She eats and wipes her mouth,” for it burns the world with its flames and puts people to death prematurely. And she says, “I have done no evil,” for he sought judgment for them and they were caught in their iniquity and died by true judgment.

36) When Israel had made the calf and all those multitudes died, the angel of death was among the women inside the camp of Israel. When Moses saw that the angel of death was among the women and the camp of Israel was among them, he promptly gathered all the men separately, as it is written, “Then Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel.” These were the men that he had gathered and separated to themselves.

37) The angel of death was not separated from the women until the Temple was built, as it is written, “And Moses erected the tabernacle.” Even when the women would bring donations to the tabernacle, he would not part with them. Finally, Moses saw and advised the men to not bond with them and be seen face-to-face, but walk behind their shoulders, as it is written, “And the men came over the women.” It is not written, VaYavi’u, [brought] but VaYavo’u [came], indicating that the men were not walking with them on the same road, but behind their shoulders, since the angel of death did not part from them until the tabernacle was erected.

38) The angel of death is not present among less then seven women, and no less than ten. On the way, he is in the seven women openly, seeking judgment. If there are ten women, he slanders to put to death. And because he is openly among them on the way, it is written, “And the men came over the women,” behind their shoulders.

39) “And the Lord said unto Noah: ‘Come you and all your house into the ark.” Could the Creator not watch over Noah in one place in the world, so there is a flood in the entire world but not in that place? Or to keep him in the land of Israel, as it is written about it, “Nor rained upon in the day of indignation,” so the waters of the flood would not come down on it?

40) Because the saboteur went down to the world, one who did not close himself off and was before him openly risked his soul because he put himself to death, as it is written, “Escape for your soul; look not behind you,” since the saboteur was walking behind his shoulders. Had he turned his head back and looked at him face-to-face, he would have been able to harm him.

41) This is why it is written about Noah, “And the Lord shut him in,” so he would not appear before the saboteur and the angel of death would not govern him.

42) “And Moses assembled.” He repeats the work of the tabernacle as before in the portion Teruma [Donation]. The work of the tabernacle is done only by Israel, not by the mixed multitude, since the mixed multitude drew the angel of death back to the world. When Moses saw it, he threw out the mixed multitude and assembled only Israel, as it is written, “And Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel.” Conversely, in the portion, Teruma, it is written, “From every man whose heart moves him you shall take My donation,” so the mixed multitude were included. This is why Moses had to say the work of the tabernacle a second time.

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