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Things in Past and Present in the Spirit of Man
GA 167

XI. Fragments from the Jewish Haggada

23 May 1916, Berlin

If you take the concept of Jesus from the Koran, for example, and consult from 19th Surah, you will see that it specifically mentions that the Nathan Jesus Child actually spoke immediately at his birth. This is what the Koran says: “Jesus spoke and said:‘See, I am the servant of God. He has given me the book and He has made me to a prophet and He has blessed me wherever I am, and He has given me His blessings so long as I live, and love to my mother and peace upon the day of my birth and the day when I die and the day when I am resurrected again to life. This is Jesus, the son of Mary, the Word of truth’ ”. This actually appears in the Koran.

In the ancient Jewish teachings as they are contained in the Talmud and other writings apart from the Old Testament, you learn that which is more of a conceptual nature, but on the other hand the Haggadah is the name given to that which modern people would call legends and tales. However, these legends and tales in the Haggadah refer more to actual perception in the spiritual world; they go back to imaginative knowledge.

I am going to share a portion from the Haggadah about Solomon with you. It says: “Rabbi Joachin says: The feet of man guarantee for him that they bring him to that place where he is supposed to go. And they tell about those Moors who are the sons of Shesher named Elacoraf and Akia who are the scribes of Solomon. One day Solomon saw the Angel of Death who was very sad and he asked: Why are you sad? The Angel of Death replied: Because I require these two Moors. As a result of that Solomon gave his Moors to the Seherem (Seherem are those demons who for imaginative vision look like goats and fly through the air) and sent them into the City of Loos. When these two Moors arrived there, they died. A few days afterwards, Solomon again saw the Angel of Death and this time the Angel was laughing. And Solomon said to the Angel: Why do you laugh? The Angel of Death replied: You sent them precisely to the place where I wanted them to go. So at that time Solomon said the following: The feet of the human being guarantee for him that they bring him to the place where he is supposed to be. Thus Solomon had an experience with the Angel of Death, an experience which confirmed the truth of that which Rabbi Joachin said, namely, the feet of man guarantee for him that he is taken to the place where he needs to be.”

Now, my dear friends, you will see that a number of questions are raised in this story from the Haggadah. The feet of the man guarantee that he is brought to the place where he is supposed to go. Why are the feet spoken of so precisely? In such ancient imaginative legends, nothing of an arbitrary nature is there, everything has its definite deep significance. So we have the first question which one can ask. Then we also have another: Why was the Angel of Death sad when he appeared before Solomon with the statement that he is going to take the two scribes away? It seems ridiculously trivial to say that the Angel was sad; he was going to do his job. Then Solomon asks him: “Why are you sad?” What is the significance of this question? The Angel of Death says he is sad because he demands the two scribes. But Solomon gives them to the demons who carry them into the City of Loos.

Now, you see the question about the city of Loos can be more easily answered. The city of Loos was so organized that no one was allowed to die within the city, hence those people who were ready to die were carried outside the city. It was the only city which had this organization. Therefore when Solomon heard that the Angel of Death was going to take his scribes, he sent them to the city because he believed that if they were in the city, the Angel of Death could not get hold of them. This is the story given in the Haggadah. However, these stories are found in many other places in Jewish tradition. There it is related in this way: They had only arrived at the gates of the city because they fell down during their flight. And because they were not able to enter the city, the Angel was able to get hold of them. However, the next day you have the Angel of Death standing before Solomon and laughing. This is very strange; the Angel is laughing because he was able to get hold of these two scribes for death. Solomon recognizes the truth of Rabbi Joachin when he says: “The feet of human beings are a guarantee that he is brought to the place where he is supposed to be.”

Now, it is important to understand that both scribes, both Moors, are the sons of Shesher, who himself was the scribe for David. Thus, this indicates that these two scribes of King Solomon were very special. we must put all these things together if we want to perceive the whole significance of the questions which surface when we speak about this very significant cognitive moment in the life of King Solomon. Now, remember that King Solomon was not wise because he was clever in the sense that modern man is clever, he was called the wise Solomon because he was able to have real vision into the spiritual world; the spiritual world was open to him. Therefore Solomon was to experience that truth which Rabbi Joachin imparted, namely, the truth in connection with the feet of human beings.

When you consider the human being in comparison with the animal, then you see a very important difference. Through the fact that man has a vertical spine, he is at right angles to the surface of the earth. The spine of the animal, however, is parallel to the surface of the earth. Now I hope that no one here is going by object to telling us about the kangaroo. These are exceptions which can be explained if we go into the details of the situation. But let us put that on the side for the moment. We know man has an upright spine and the spine of the animal is horizontal. Now, when we draw a line through the spine of the animal—it is not a straight line, but a curved one—then we have a line curving parallel to the curvature of the earth which means when we draw a circle parallel to the earth then that passes through the spine of the animal. However, when we draw the same curve for the human being, then we find that this curve has a middle point. In the case of the animal we have seen the middle point of the curve was the middle point of the earth. However in the middle point of the curve that we draw through the spinal column of man, there you have the middle point of the moon. Why? Because that particular stage of development which the animal is going through at present, man already went through in the ancient Moon period. Therefore, at the present time man still has a connection with the moon insofar as the curve passing through his spine has its center point in the moon, just as the curve passing through the animal has its center point in the earth. Therefore man is connected with the moon in a similar descriptive way as the animal is connected with the earth.

Now, man has torn himself away from the earth; man is not as united with the earth as is the animal kingdom. As far as his external physical nature is concerned, man has torn himself loose from his earth planet. However, he has only torn himself loose in one aspect of his nature; he has another aspect through which he is attached to the earth, and that is with his feet. Man has to stand upon the earth with his feet. However, passing over from the Moon development to the earth development, he has torn himself away from the earth with his hands. His feet, however, are still connected with the earth. If you understand the human form as it has developed itself in the transition from the Moon evolution to the Earth evolution, so you must say: In so far as man belongs to the earth, the earth has been able to attach itself to him in his feet. What guarantees does man have to come to the earth? This is guaranteed by man's foot situation. Hence we have the explanation in the Hebrew: The feet guarantee him. The word ‘guarantee’ in the Hebrew is the same as the word you use in reference to guaranteeing someone an amount of capital, the word guarantee indicates that as far as his feet are concerned, it is guaranteed that he has a connection with the earth. That does not mean that the feet of the human being carry him to the place of his death, but the whole secret of the human form lies in this sentence as Solomon has recognized it through the fact that he is able to look into the spiritual world.

Now, I have yet to describe that which Solomon revealed when he had words with the Angel of Death. We will see this from the example of how we have a wisdom present in humanity which we previously called the primal wisdom. This primal wisdom passed away in order that man could have an opportunity during the Earth evolution to develop this wisdom again, but to develop it out of himself in complete freedom.

Now, there is another riddle in this story about the Angel of Death. At one time he is sad and at another time he is laughing. We can just think about the true nature of laughing and weeping. You know very well that if you see a person walking along the street who is laughing to himself, you would say that he is crazy. You see that laughing is something which you expect one to participate in with other people. On the other hand, when it comes to crying, you know that usually you cry when you are alone. To explain this phenomenon of weeping and laughing, we have to remember that we generally think that what we are as human beings is only enclosed within our skin and we forget the fact that the air is outside us and when we breathe it in, it becomes part of us and then we breathe it out again. Therefore we are part of our whole environment. And when we go to sleep, we breathe out our ego and astral body, we breathe it in again when we wake up. So we see that there is a flowing life between us and the spiritual world. Actually when we laugh, we spread out our ego and astral body outside us. You stretch out, you expand your astral body and your ego when you laugh. And this expansion of the astral body goes out to the ether body. The invisible man spreads himself out elastically. That is the process when you laugh. The reverse process takes place when you weep. There you have the astral body contracting together with the ether body and pressing itself an the physical body which then presses out tears.

Now we go back to Solomon. When Solomon looked at the Angel of Death, he did not see a physical body, but he saw a spiritual being. What he really saw when the Angel laughed was the Angel spreading himself out. The first time he saw the Angel, he was weeping, that means the Angel was drawing himself together. Here we see how spiritual beings fulfil their activities. Laughing and weeping is an accompaniment of life with us human beings through which we only express our inner being; we show how our inner being is constituted. In the case of spiritual beings, they show their actions. As far as we are concerned, when we laugh and cry, it has very little significance for other people. We do not produce activities through our laughing and crying. These are accompaniments of our life. However, in the moment when we approach certain spiritual beings who with their actual self are occupied more in working than we are, there you have the significance of the expanding out and the contracting in. The Angel of Death, because he was in the position of having to fetch these two Moors to death, had to hold his forces together, he had to condense himself in order to give support for his forces because he was about to perform some activity which expressed itself in the fact that he was sad. That is only an indication of how he is drawing himself together. The next day when he had accomplished his task, then the elasticity expressed itself again, he spread himself out and you had the appearance of laughter.

Now we come to the next question: Why were they led to the City of Loos and what is the meaning of this whole process with Solomon? In the first place we must contemplate the fact that Solomon was a person who stands in connection with the spiritual world. I told you that it is very significant that both scribes were the sons of Shesher who had been the scribe of King David. Thus they are very valuable personalities and scribes at that ancient time signified something different from what it means today. Scribes in Egypt, for example, were people who were able with all sorts of inner fervor to paint letters in the sense of the ancient Egyptian script, and when someone painted a false letter, he stood under the penalty of death, because he was dealing with something of a holy nature. There was something of a holy nature in the letters; this applied to the scribes of King Solomon who also stood in connection with the spiritual world. They stood in communion with Solomon who imparted his knowledge of the spiritual world to them. And the City of Loos points out the fact to us that there was something in these scribes which enabled them to have a feeling of their immortality even during their life, they had this connection with the spiritual world. We ought to bring our attention to the fact that they knew of their soul-spiritual kernel which passes through the portal of death. They knew this not only theoretically, but they belonged to those who, as it were, were initiated in a certain degree into these mysteries.

Hence the Angel of Death had some difficulty here, because it was necessary to put himself in a certain connection with King Solomon, which means that both scribes, as well as King Solomon, lived in the consciousness of their immortality. Therefore it was necessary for the Angel of Death to enter into the whole process which he had to execute because a consciousness was present of the death which was involved here. This did not mean that King Solomon wanted to protect his scribes from death and therefore sent then to the City of Loos, but it was supposed to indicate that here we are dealing with death which was completely conscious, that the knowledge of death was part of their knowledge. Here the main emphasis was that Solomon was conscious of the death of his scribes and when it is said that he sent then to the city of Loos, that should only indicate to us how the Ahrimanic force represented by the Angel of Death is represented by its agent as the demonic goat which enters into the situation. Thus the whole process which occurs consciously is supposed to be explained to us through the story in the following way: A death once occurred in such a way that a wise man was conscious of it. That is what Rabbi Joachin wanted to indicate. The whole process is connected with the spiritual world. This arising of knowledge of the super-sensible world in King Solomon is indicated by this story. Rabbi Joachin said: “Man is bound to the earth through the form of the feet and its relationship to the earth, and it is expressed that man is connected to the earth in a one-sided way, that only his feet are guarantee for the fact that man belongs to the earth. The upright posture of man is a guarantee for the fact that he is given over to the spiritual world with his essential kernel. And because Solomon was able to believe him, he was able to be made consciously aware of the death of his scribes who were dear to him.

Therefore we see that the idea of these ancient traditions can only be understood with the aid of spiritual science. You learn from that that Solomon's wisdom is connected with the fact that he was able to look into the spiritual world and discover the mystery of death. In the line of the generations which descends from King Solomon, you have the physical preparation, as it were, for this clairvoyance in so far as it is able to enter the portal of death. Therefore we see the body of Jesus descending from the Solomon line of the House of David, but the soul is that of Zarathustra. We have to be clear about the soul being that of Zarathustra and why it had to enter into a body which descended from someone who was permeated with clairvoyance.

Now, I have often spoken about that which came with the soul of Zarathustra. Today I only want to emphasize the fact that that which came later was mostly removed from the teaching of Zarathustra and then passed over into the teaching of Mani, and further on into the teaching of Manichaeisn. We know the deepest questions of the riddle of man belongs to the question of the relationship of good and evil, and we know that we can understand it when we have insight into the working of Lucifer and Ahriman. But this working of Lucifer and Ahriman leads us back to Zarathustra. Lucifer and Ahriman are already present as a fact of the spiritual world in the teaching of Zarathustra. And let us try to bring the Zarathustrian teaching of the good and evil into connection with the teaching of predestination which is connected with the Islamic religion.

Let us consider the import of this teaching of predestination. On the one side it says: Everything which occurs has been predetermined, so that even taking a step in front of my door was predetermined. Even when I die that was predestined. Everything is strongly predestined, which means that for the consciousness of the Islamic person, everything that occurs was already previously written in the Book of God. However, every time this Islamic person is confronted with something, he says: “If it is the will of God.” He is completely convinced of the fact that everything is written in the Book of God; however, he says: “I will only do this thing if it is the will of God”. A Westerner would say to this Islamic person: “If you say that everything is predestined, then it does not make any sense to say I will do it if God wills it. Why do you say: ‘I will do it if God wills it?’ There is no doubt about it since everything is already determined from the beginning.” Here we have an insoluble contradiction; it really is an insoluble contradiction. Look at Western philosophy, at Spinoza, Descartes, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Schelling and so on, and you will find the after-working of this insoluble contradiction, but it appears in a particularly crass way in the teaching of Kismet, of everything being predestined. Here we have a teaching which, in this connection, is different from the teaching of Zarathustra, that the people who know Zarathustra know about Lucifer and Ahriman. At first we have the teaching of primal wisdom which did not contain any contradictions and this transforms itself into teaching which does carry a contradiction. A person who does not recognize that life is filled with contradictions will really never understand life. Life, when it is only approached with the human understanding is bound to give many contradictions.

First we have the age of Zarathustra and then this is followed by a time when man is confronted by contradictions. But through these contradictions he should be stimulated to develop his real inner life. Now, you have something happening in the earth evolution where something which did not belong to the earth evolution comes in in order that man can resolve these contradictions. Here we have the Nathan Jesus coming into earth evolution and with this Nathan Jesus you have something which helps to solve all the earth contradictions, because the Nathan Jesus comes from the spiritual world and is not attached to the earth. In the Nathan Jesus we have a healing of the contradictions which occurs in human beings during the earth sojourn. So we find where you have this contradiction of the predestination and the idea ‘If God wills it’ in the Koran, and you have in this very same Koran the allusion to the Nathan Jesus which I quoted earlier, who spoke immediately at birth. You see, all these things are very complicated.

It requires courage, courage in order to think things toward the end. And this is the sort of courage that we get from spiritual science. Too often today people are apathetic, but in spiritual science we want to replace apathy with calmness. With apathy you do not care; with calmness you are able to absorb these things in a mood of equanimity.