Gr"a on Redemption notes IV

6. Just as the wheat has three different types of byproducts, the chaff, the straw and the husk of the kernel, so too the Jewish people are analogous to wheat, as the verse says [in reference to the Jewish people] (Yirmiyah 1), “The first of His wheat.” Thus, there are three types of chaff, which are Yishmael, Esav, and the Erev Rav. Corresponding to Avraham and Yitzchak, from whom came Yishmael and Esav, two Moshiach’s will come, Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben Dovid (Tikkunei Zohar Chadash 36:1, and they correspond to the positive and negative commandments). These [two Moshiachs] will purify the Jewish people from the chaff and straw, and they [Yishmael] will be like the chaff, which is blown away by the wind; and the house of Esav will be like straw. But the purification will not be complete until the Erev Rav is removed, which corresponds to the husk of the kernel, which is extremely attached to the wheat itself [i.e. the Jewish people]. This is the byproduct that corresponds to Yakov (and they correspond to recalcitrance in Torah learning and removing the yoke of Heaven) (Tikkunei Zohar 53:1). They are extremely attached to the people of Israel, and the people of Israel learn from their ways. They are the extremely wealthy individuals, exulting in pride (about whom the Gemara says (Sanhedrin 98) that [Moshiach] ben Dovid will not come until the prideful ones of Israel have been finished, etc.). Just like the husk can not be removed from the flour until the wheat is ground finely, so too, it is only possible to remove the Erev Rav through the difficulties of the exile (*).

(*) (This is what it says (Amos 9), “I will shake the house of Israel like the shaking of a sieve… the sinners of my nation will die by the sword… On that day I will raise up the sukkah of Dovid…) About this it says (Hoshea 2), “Behold I will seduce her and bring her to the wilderness…” And there the evil ones will be sifted out during the three days of darkness. (And there they will undergo tremendous difficulties, eating salty foods and enduring other suffering. Tikkunei Zohar 27:3. And see what is written about this at length in the sefer Emunah and Hashgacha pp. 19-21.) And they cause recalcitrance in Torah study and the lengthening of the exile. About this the verse says (Koheles 12), “And the grinding [a reference to Torah learning] was stopped by them.” This is what we find (Pesachim 111), when there are those who make themselves splendorous in the house [i.e. they have excessive pride], it causes poverty. This poverty is reference to a lack of Torah knowledge, for if there is no flour, there is no Torah (The Gra’s explanation of Sava D’bei Asuna in the piece אית לן בירא בדברא, as well as Tikkunei Zohar 41:2), and about them it says that converts are as destructive to the Jewish people as a deep wound. [This is reference to the Erev Rav, whose souls became enmeshed in the Jewish people, not to actual converts, who actually have fully Jewish souls.] They are referred to as a נג”ע ר”ע – a horrible affliction. (The words נג”ע ר”ע are an abbreviation of the five types of Erev Rav – (נ) Nefilim, (ג) Giborim, (ע) Amalekim, (ר) Refaim, (ע) Anakim.) Nefilim are the ones who run after their physical desires, as the verse says, “The Nefilim were then in the land… to the daughters of man…” Giborim are the famous people who build Synagogues and donate decorations for the Sefer Torah solely in order to become well-known. Amalekim are the leaders of the Jewish people in exile, [who use their power like] weapons to steal from the poor of Israel. In reference to them, the verse says, “Their oppressors became leaders” (Tikkunei Zohar 37:2). Refaim are those who weaken themselves (מתרפים) from doing kindness and charity with those who learn Torah. Anakim are those who dishonor Torah scholars (Tikkunei Zohar 97:2,3; and see earlier in the notes with the heading “Just as the sparks”) And all the brazen ones and evil ones of the generation are reincarnations of the souls of the Erev Rav and the children of Kayin (Cain). All of the exile and the oppression and the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash was a result of the fact that Moshe accepted the Erev Rav. He did this because he believed that they were righteous converts from the side of Good, about whom it is stated that (Pesachim 87) “the reason the Jewish people were sent into exile was to gather converts to their ranks.” However, the Erev Rav is actually from the side of evil, and the very words ערב רע are abbreviated in the word ר”ע, evil. This is also referred to in the verse, “Woe unto us for the day has ebbed, when the evening (ערב) shade is lengthening.” This is the same Erev Rav that made the golden calf at the evening (ערב) hour , as the verse says, “For Moshe had been late (בושש) in coming.” The word בושש is a contraction of the phrase בא שש – that the sixth hour had finished (**).

There is also an Erev Ze’eira [small Erev, as opposed to the Erev Rav, the large Erev], and this is referred to in the verse when it says בין הערביים – between the settings, or the two Erevs. The two Erevs are the Erev Rav and Ze’eir. Corresponding to this, the sages established Mincha Gedolah [from 12:30 on an equinox day] and Mincha Ketana [from 3:30 on an equinox day], to weaken the evil power of the two Erevs (Tikkunei Zohar Chadash 34:1). They are referred to as the Erev Rav because they are the leaders of the nation in exile, and are therefore called ‘rav’ [which means leader]. They are also referred to as the רב החובל, the leader who destroys (Tikkunei Zohar 61:1), like we find in the verse (Zechariah 11), “I referred to one as pleasant, and I referred to the other as destroyers.” This is hinted to in the verse, “And he placed the maidservants and their children first.” This is reference to the Erev Rav who are the leaders of the nation. “And Leah and her children behind them” is reference to the general good Jewish populace who are beholden to the Erev Rav. “And Rochel and Yosef were last” is reference to the Torah scholars who are considered lowest of all. They are referred to as Rochel, who was the most beloved in her home. Similarly, the people of Israel are referred to by the name “Yosef” (Tikkunei Zohar 27:3). (It would seem to me that those who do not have rulership (***) are referred to as the Erev Ze’eir.)

In Tikkunei Zohar (50:7 2), it is written that Yishma’el and Esav are the bran (סובין) and coarse bran (מורסן) (See Tikunei Zohar 53:1, 41:2 Raya Mehemna 48:1), and the Erev Rav are the leavening in the bread. For this reason, the bread must be destroyed on Erev Pesach by the sixth hour, because they made the golden calf at the sixth. Their negative spiritual effects are worse than those of the nations of the world because the people of Israel are drawn after them, based on the fact that they see that things seem to be going their way. This is the reason for the great length of the exile.

There is a fourth type [after Yishmael, Esav, and the Erev Rav,] which includes those individuals from the people of Israel who have become attached to the Erev Rav, and have become like them, as the verse says, “And they mixed with the nations and learned their ways.” Corresponding to these, there are four types of leprous afflictions. Se’es (שאת) and Baheres (בהרת), which correspond to Yishma’el and Esav, Sapachas (ספחת), which corresponds to the Erev Rav who are attached to the people of Israel, as it says, “Converts are difficult for Israel like a Sapachas.” The fourth type [the Jew who has attached himself to the Erev Rav] corresponds to that which it says in the verse, “And the affliction of leprosy will be on the skin of his flesh.” This also corresponds to the four animals of Daniel, where the fourth is worse than them all… So too, there are four types of animals that are impure. Three of them chew their cud [but do not have split hooves. The fourth has split hooves but does not
chew its cud]. Similarly, there are four exiles. The sins that caused three of the exiles were known [whereas the fourth was not revealed]. (see the sefer Emunah and Hashgacha p. 15) This also corresponds to the four great sins – Idolatry, adultery, murder, and baseless hatred, which corresponds to them all. So too, there are four husks on the wheat kernel. Chaff and straw, the third is the Erev rav which is attached to it, which is the bran (סובין), and the coarse bran (מורסן)… The fourth is the leavening and bread, which were not originally there, but rather, came into this state afterwards. Similarly, there are four inclinations, lustful, angry, desirous, and mockery. The last is worse than them all (from the Gra’s explanation of Berachos on the piece that speaks of the four things that require thanks. See there at length).

{And like roses that grow amongst the thorns and are thus protected, so are the exiled people of Israel found amongst the Erev Rav in order to hasten their redemption through the pressure that they apply to the people of Israel (Tikkunei Zohar 27:4 28:1)}

(**) The end of the sixth hour is midday, when the sun begins to set from its peak in the sky. At midday itself, the sun is directly overhead, but as the sun starts its descent, the shadows begin to lengthen, as the verse mentions. This point in time is referred to as ערב, which is usually translated as evening, but actually refers to the the setting of the sun. The sun sets at two times; the first time is when it begins its descent at noon; the second time is when it descends below the horizon. Thus the afternoon is referred to as בין הערביים, between the settings. As we will soon see, there is a great setting, which is the first time the sun begins to descend, as well as a small setting. There is reference in the verse to the ‘evening shade,’ or the shade that results when the sun descends. This begins to become noticeable at the time referred to as Mincha Gedolah. This is a half hour after midday, or twelve thirty. It could be that the significance of the ‘shade’ is that the sun is being blocked, creating a darkness behind the object that stands in its way. This hints to the efforts of the Erev Rav, who try to block the light of spirituality from having an effect, claiming that the world is all darkness. Their force must come into play at the moment when the sun is highest in the sky, at midday. At that time, the shade in the world is the most limited because the sun is not on an angle, but rather directly overhead. The Erev Rav takes the first opportunity to try to create some darkness at that moment, for instance, claiming that Moshe is dead and will not return. Subsequently, they demand the creation of the Golden Calf. This would seem to correspond to the events that have been occurring in our times, starting from the year 5750 (1990), which was midday on cosmic Friday. The Zohar speaks of this time (250 years before the year 6000) as being the moment when the third Beis Hamikdash is to be rebuilt. This would correspond to the descent of Moshe, which would have cemented the relationship between Hashem and the Jewish people, just as the Beis Hamikdash is the point of connection between Hashem and the Jewish people. Just as the Erev Rav began their efforts to prevent Moshe’s return at midday, so too, the Erev Rav of our time began their efforts at midday, resulting in the Golden Calf of today, the Oslo “peace” process. This process serves to sell out the Jewish people, to destroy the viability of Israel, and to deny the claim of the Jewish people’s Divine right to the land. This, in essence, is precisely akin to their efforts in that time to disavow the Jewish people’s connection to Hashem, to replace it with an idol, and in our times, with another ideology. This effort begins at midday, but just as the sun only noticeably has begun to descend at twelve thirty, so too their efforts take on greater intensity at that time. As we always find, however, there is a force and a counter force, and thus, the sages established that from twelve thirty and onward, one can begin to say the afternoon prayer. This was also the time that the תמיד של בין הערביים, the afternoon sacrifice was brought. Both the sacrifice and the prayer denote our connection to Hashem, and specifically through the Beis Hamikdash itself, and thus, while the Erev Rav redoubles its strength at noon and at twelve thirty, the Jewish people, the wheat kernel itself, is strengthened in a measure that corresponds to that, so the powers remain balanced.

Another significance of the hour that follows midday is that it was the hour that Chava was created and she and Adam were wed (Sanhedrin 38). This corresponds to the cosmic hour we are currently in (5750/1990-5791/2031), which, as we said, is the hour the Zohar says will see the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash. This is the hour of preparation for the union that takes place in the eighth hour, where the Gemara says that Adam and Chava ‘rose onto the bed two, and came down four.’ This was only possible once they had been wed in the previous hour.

(***) The concept of the Erev Ze’eir is extremely enigmatic. From the explanation here of Rav Maltzin, this group of people seems to have the same characteristics as the Erev Rav, but whereas the ‘rav’ aspect of the Erev Rav is one of leadership, the Erev Ze’eir does not have leadership. Thus, they try to undermine the connection of the Jewish people to Hashem despite the fact that they are not in a position to affect very much. I have seen one mention that the groups that will shake hands with terrorists as the Erev Ze’eir. This group does not have power, but nevertheless tries to cause destruction. Others have said that they are the minions of the Erev Rav, who carry out their intentions, but it does not really sound like this from what is being said here. In any event, it would seem that they are not as easily removed from the picture, and although the power of the Erev Rav is weakened at twelve thirty, which is Mincha Gedola, through the power of the tikkun of chazal at that time, the weakening of the Erev Ze’eir waits until a later time. It would seem likely that the Erev Rav is destroyed by Moshiach ben Yosef, and the Erev Ze’eir is left for Moshiach ben Dovid to vanquish.


  1. Ari Goldwag on January 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Not every truth should be said. Lashon Hara is negative information that is true. Nevertheless, it is the greatest sin in the Torah. I try to be careful not to say things that could have a destructive impact, even if it is true. If you want to have a private conversation with my via email, I would be happy to oblige.

  2. Anonymous on January 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Unless your saying secret shemot or revealing mashiach what do we have left to hide ? isnt the kabbalah meant to be learned now today not be hidden ! Even if that means revealing the erev zers identity on a public forumn . Its not lashon harah its necessary for many of us who are decived by them or have been in our makeup or hashkafa . Do you like them ? are they your rabbis ? I dont want to be vicious but isnt Torah Torah EMET!

  3. Ari Goldwag on January 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I meant national leadership. There is actually another pshat in what the Erev Ze'eir is, as I heard in the name of a big Mekubal in Yerushalayim, but I can't put it out in a public forum. This other one is probably the most accurate pshat.

  4. yaak on January 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm


    As we both separately noted, Cosmic Minha Gedola begins in 2.5 months.

    Yes, I've either heard or came up with myself your first Pshat on who the Erev Ze'eir are. Bedavka, this week is when they started not having leadership. Unless you mean national leadership, in which case, they never had it.

    I like this pshat better than the one mentioned on another blog.

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