Leviathan and Behemoth

One of the more arcane experiences in the World to Come would be the meal that the righteous will enjoy there that will be comprised of a portion of special leviathan and behemoth meat, and more [1].

But, didn’t we learn that “In the World to Come there’s no eating, drinking” etc.? Obviously then this meal will be an aspect of that experience termed “sit(ting) with crowns on their head and enjoy(ing) the radiance of the Shechina” (see Berachot 17a). That’s to say that the “meal” depicted below will be an “absorption” or grasping of Godliness like none other [2]. Let’s see the specifics.

The Book of Job depicts the Leviathan and the Behemoth (40:15-32). According to the Talmud, God originally produced both a male and a female Leviathan, but concerned that they might become many and destroy the world, He slaughtered the female and reserved her flesh for the banquet that the righteous will enjoy with the coming of the Moshiach (Baba Batra 74a), but the Zohar speaks of that meal taking place in the World to Come (1, p. 135b)

Here’s how Rebbe Yochanan depicted the Leviathan: “Once we boarded a ship and saw a fish that stuck its head out of the water that had horns upon which was written: ‘I am one of the meanest creatures to inhabit the sea. I am three hundred miles in length, and I enter this day into the jaws of the Leviathan’ (which is so much greater) (Baba Batra 74a). When the leviathan is hungry he issues heat from his mouth that’s so great that all the waters of the deep boil as a result of it (Ibid.).

And we’re taught that it’s from the hide of the Leviathan that God will make “tents for the pious of the first rank, garments for those of the second, belts for those of the third, and necklaces for those of the fourth. The remainder of the hide will be spread on the walls of Jerusalem”, which addresses the various levels of righteousness of those found there; but what most especially addresses the spiritual nature of the Leviathan is the statement that “the whole world will be illuminated by its brightness” (Ibid).


[1]       Since this meal is spoken of in standard rabbinic sources as well as in the Zohar, we’ll use it as our segue to a more extended discussion of the latter’s remarks about the World to Come.

[2]       See Zohar 1, p. 135b.

(c) 2012 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
Feel free to contact me at feldman@torah.org


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