To the angel of the assembly in Ephesus write: He who holds the seven stars in his right hand, he who walks among the seven golden menorahs says these things:
I know your works, and your toil and perseverance, and that you cant tolerate evil men, and have tested those who call themselves emissaries, and they are not, and found them false.
You have perseverance and have endured for my names sake, and have not grown weary.
But I have this against you, that you left your first love.
R’ Yaakov Yosef of Polnoy (1710-1784) was a disciple of the Besht,
“A parable which Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, was fond of telling and retelling perhaps best portrays the condition of his age:
“I heard a tale of an apprentice who learned his trade from a smith. After he had mastered it, he made a list, point after point, of how he must go about his craft. He did not mark down, however, that he should first ignite a spark for the fire, because this was obvious and hardly needed to be mentioned. Now he went to work at the king’s palace, but, alas, found to his dismay that he was unable to perform his duties. He was soon dismissed. Finally he returned to his master, who reminded him of his first principle, which he had forgotten.” (Zaphat Paneach 16a, Porat Yosef 17d, 99c).
R’ Samuel Dresner comments,
“The young blacksmith may have learned how to wield the hammer, how to shape the metal, how to blow the bellows; he may have mastered all the skills of his craft, but one thing he had forgotten, without which all of his knowledge, all his talent, all his experience were of no avail – how to kindle the spark. . . They produced mighty scholars whose heads were crammed iwth quotations, whose lips spoke long and involved discourses, whose hands were busy putting ink to paper so that books poured forth in a mighty stream from the presses. They maintained the outward observance of the Law: synagogues were attended daily for prayer, stores were closed on Sabbath and Festival, leavened bread was not eaten on the Passover, huts were built for Sukkot, fasting was universal on Yom Kippur on Tisha b’Av. But one thing was missing, without which all the knowledge, all the study, all the books, all the apparent meticulous observance of the Law was of no benefit – the spark which gave life to all else.
The duties of “Torah study and prayer” have to be fulfilled, “but above all else is the yearning, the spark of flame which sets fire to hitlahavut – the craving, longing for His love.” Forgotten was the obvious and self-evident, that all the commandments in the Torah – study and prayer, Sabbath and Festival – were only for the sake of drawing closer to the Lord. A relearning of “the first principle” was necessary. A return to the Master to learn that first principle once again was the spiritual need of the time.”
R’ Samuel Dresner, The Zaddik, Shocken Books, pg. 35
Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I am coming to you swiftly, and will move your menorah out of its place, unless you repent.
But this you have, that you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
“I will set no vile thing before my eyes. I hate the deeds of faithless men. They will not cling to me.”
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of my God.
To the angel of the assembly in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life says these things:
I know your works, oppression, and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Do not be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested; and you will have oppression for ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. He who overcomes wont be harmed by the second death.
To the angel of the assembly in Pergamum write: He who has the sharp two-edged sword says these things:
I know your works and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. You hold firmly to my name, and didnt deny my faith in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to throw a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
“Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against HaShem in the matter of Peor, and so the plague was among the congregation of HaShem.”
So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans likewise.
Repent therefore, or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth.
“…with righteousness he will judge the poor, and decide with equity for the humble of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips he will kill the wicked.”
“Our Rabbis said: SWORD refers to the Torah, as it is written, And a two-edged sword in their hand (Ps. 149:6)”
Genesis Rabbah 21:9, Soncino Press Edition
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes, to him I will give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows but he who receives it.
“The nations shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of HaShem shall name.”
To the angel of the assembly in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has his eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet are like burnished brass, says these things:
I know your works, your love, faith, service, patient endurance, and that your last works are more than the first.
But I have this against you, that you tolerate your woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. She teaches and seduces my servants to commit sexual immorality, and to eat things sacrificed to idols.
I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.
Behold, I will throw her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great oppression, unless they repent of her works.
I will kill her children with death, and all the assemblies will know that I am he who searches the minds and hearts. I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.
But to you I say, to the rest who are in Thyatira, as many as do not have this teaching, who do not know what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I am not putting any other burden on you.
Nevertheless, hold that which you have firmly until I come.
He who overcomes, and he who keeps my works to the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.
He will rule them with a rod of iron, shattering them like clay pots, as I also have received of my Father:
and I will give him the morning star.