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Anonymous kabbalistic commentary, MS Vatican 283, fol. 71b, on the rabbinic legend of the four sages who entered the Pardes

Jewish Mysticism
The fate of ben Azzai who “looked and died” is described in the following terms-

He gazed at the radiance of the Presence, like a person who looks with his weak eyes at the full light of the sun and his eyes are weakened, and sometimes he becomes blinded because of the strength of the light that overcomes him. Thus it happened to Ben Azzai- the light that he gazed upon overwhelmed him from his great desire to cleave to it and to derive pleasure from it without interruption, and after he cleaved to it he did not want to separate from that sweet radiance, and he remained immersed and hidden within it. His soul was crowned and adorned from that radiance and splendor to which no creature can cleave and afterwards live, as it says, “for no man shall see Me and live” (Exod. 33-20). But Ben Azzai only gazed at it with a slight vision, and his soul departed and remained hidden in the place of its cleaving, which is a most precious light. The death was the death of the pious who souls are separated from all the affairs of the lowly world and whose souls cleave to the ways of the supernal world

Translated by Elliot Wolfson in Through a Speculum that Shines- Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism, Princeton- Princeton University Press, 1994.

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