“For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in kindness and relenting over evil (Joel 2:13)…. Rabbi Aḥa and Rabbi Tanḥum in the name of Rabbi Ḥiyya in the name of Yoḥanan [said]: It is not written here אֶרֶךְ אַף (erekh af) [in the singular], but rather אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם (erekh appayim), slow to anger—מַאֲרִיךְ רוּחוֹ (ma’arikh ruḥo), He lengthens His breath, with the righteous and He lengthens His breath with the wicked [cf. BT Bava Qamma 50b on Exodus 34:6]. He lengthens His breath with the righteous—collecting from them for their few wicked deeds which they did in this world in order to give them their full wage in the time yet to come. And He bestows calm on the wicked in this world, and pays them for their few good deeds in this world in order to exact debt from them fully in the time yet to come [cf. M Avot 4:15]….
Rabbi Levi said: What is אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם (erekh appayim), slow to anger? רַחִיק רָגִיז (Raḥiq ragiz), [He is] far from irascible. [A parable: To what can the matter be compared?] A king who had two legions, harsh [as could be]. The king said, ‘Now, if they reside with me in the province, [and] inhabitants of the province provoke me they will rise up and finish them. Only, look, I will send them faraway. If the inhabitants of the province provoke me until I send them near to them they [have time to] come and appease me and I accept appeasement. Thus it is written: They come from a faraway land, from the end of the heavens [—YHWH with His anger’s weapons, to destroy all the earth] (Isaiah 13:5). Rabbi Yitsḥaq said, ‘And not only that, Who locks before them: YHWH opened His armory וַיּוֹצֵא (va-yotse), and brought out, the weapons of His wrath, [for YHWH of Armies has a task in the land of the Chaldeans] (Jeremiah 50:25)—while He opens, [or] while He locks His mercies draw near.
It was taught in the name of Rabbi Me’ir: For YHWH is about יֹצֵא (yotse), to come out, from His place [to punish the crime of the dwellers on earth, and the earth shall lay bare its bloodguilt and no longer cover its slain] (Isaiah 26:21)—yotse, He comes out, from [quality to quality. He comes out, from (JT Ta’anit 65b)] the quality of Judgment to the quality of Mercy over Israel. Now, will I not accept your repentance?” (Pesiqta de-Rav Kahana 24:11).
“He mangles, He tears, and He shuffles heavens and earth, this on the back of that, beneath His two arms [everlasting] (Deuteronomy 33:27), and destroys the whole world in an instant, as is said, But a moment בְּאַפּוֹ (be-appo), in His wrath [lit., with His nose], life in His pleasure (Psalms 30:6). Nothing would be left of them except the Throne of Glory alone, and the blessed Holy One shall be seated on it alone in His glory, as is said, And YHWH alone shall be raised high on that day (Isaiah 2: 11). What is alone? That even the living beings of the Chariot, the ofannim, cherubs, wheels, seraphs, tafsarim, and er’elim shall come to an end with them, as is said, [I smash and I also heal] and none rescues from My hand (Deuteronomy 32:39). And why did the blessed Holy One not leave off from the holy living beings of the Chariot, and the ofannim, seraphs, cherubs, wheels, tafsarim, and er’elim that they remain to serve Him and to serve His glory? In order that not even one of them that remained serving before Him find an opening to say, ‘We created a new world with the blessed Holy One!’ As is said, I have made it and I will carry (Isaiah 46:4). I have made it—the world; I will carry—generations of the world; I will bear it (ibid.)—He destroyed the world [in eons that were before us]; I will rescue (ibid.)—all of the world” (Midrash Alfa Betot [Battei Midrashot, 2:429]).
For the sake of My name I will hold back My wrath, and for My praise I will be restrained toward you so as not to cut you off [lit., For the sake of My name אַאֲרִיךְ אַפִּי (a’arikh appi), I lengthen My nose, and for My praise אֶחֱטָם (eḥetam), I will hold in, for you, so as not to cut you off (Isaiah 48:9, cf. Bahir §5 ad loc.; חֹטֶם [ḥotem], nose, nostril).
“Secrecy within secrecy was prepared and arranged in a single skull filled with crystalline dew. Membrane of air, purified and sealed; those strands of clean fleece hanging evenly. Will of Wills is revealed through צְלוֹתָא (tselota), prayer [lit., roast sacrifice], of those below. Open-eyed watching, never sleeping, ever vigilant; supervision below by supervision of radiance above. Two nostrils of an official arousing breath for all [as a nose supervising commandingly]” (Zohar 2:176b, Sifra di-Tsni’uta).
“It has been taught: This nose is small, and when smoke begins to emerge, it comes out hurriedly and Judgment is executed. Who prevents this nose from spewing smoke? The nose of the Holy Ancient One, Who is called אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם (Erekh Appayim), Long-nosed, Long-suffering, of all…. When the Holy Ancient One is revealed to Ze’eir Anpin, all appear in Compassion; the nose is assuaged, and no smoke emerges, as we have learned, for it is written: For My praise אֶחֱטָם (eḥetom), I restrain the nose, for you… (Isaiah 48:9)…. Thus it is written YHWH smelled the pleasing aroma (Genesis 8:21), for all depends on the nose—that this nose may smell the smoke and red fire, whereby the offering is accepted with favor. This corresponds to what is written: The nose of YHWH will flare against you (Deuteronomy 11:17); My nose will flare (Exodus 22:23); lest the nose of YHWH flare (Deuteronomy 6:15)—all referring to Ze’eir Anpin” (Zohar 3:137b–138a, Idra Rabba).
“וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים (Va-yippaḥ be-appaiv nishmat ḥayyim), And He blew into his nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7)—חוֹתָם (ḥotam), stamp, signet ring, seal [חוֹתָם (ḥotam) puns on חוֹטֶם (ḥotem), nose]” (Ba’al ha-Turim).