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לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: providence

Providence According to Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag (Ba’al ha-Sullam)

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But your crimes have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:2).

Introduction to the Study of the Ten Sefirot (45–66):

When we closely examine the attainment of providence which people come to sense we find four classes. Each class receives individual providence by the blessed Holy One. In fact, there are only two such classes: הַסְתֵּר פָּנִים (ha-seter panim), the hiding Face, and גִלוּי פָּנִים (gilui panim), the revealed Face, but they are divided into four facets.

There are two facets in providence of the hiding Face, which are “single hiding” and “hiding within the hiding,” and two facets in the providence of the revealed Face: providence of “reward and punishment,” and “eternal providence.”

The verse says: And My wrath will flare against them on that day, and I shall forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will become fodder, and many evils and troubles will find them, and they will say on that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not in our midst that these evils have found us?’ And as for Me, I will surely hide My face on that day for all the evil that they have done, for they turned to other gods (Deuteronomy 31:17–18) [cf. Psalms 104:29; Zohar 1:115a (MhN) ad loc.].

When you investigate these words, you find that in the beginning it says, And My wrath will flare… and I shall… hide My face—a single hiding. Afterwards, it says, and many evils and troubles will find them… and… I will surely hide My face [lit., הַסְתֵּר אַסְתִּיר (ha-seter astir), hide, I will hide…]—a double hiding. We must understand what “double hiding” is.

First we must understand the meaning of the “face” of the blessed Holy One, as is written, I shall hide My face. This is like a man who sees his friend’s face and recognizes him immediately. However, when he sees him from behind he is not sure of his identity. He wonders, saying “Perhaps he is not my friend.”

So too the matter before us: Everyone knows and senses that the blessed Holy One is good and that it is the conduct of the Good to do good. Therefore, when the blessed Holy One gives generously to His creatures, His face is regarded as revealed. This is because then everyone knows and senses Him, since He acts according to His name, as we have seen above concerning revealed providence [on “The Good who does good,” see BT Ta’anit 31a; Birkhat ha-Mazon].

Yet, when He acts with His creatures contrary to what we said above, meaning when they suffer affliction and torment in His world, it is regarded as the blessed Holy One’s “back.” This is because His face, meaning His quality of utter goodness, is entirely hidden from them, since this is not the conduct that befits His name. It is like a person who sees his friend from behind and may doubt, thinking “Perhaps he is another?”

It is written, And My wrath will flare… and I shall… hide My face. During the wrath, when people suffer trouble and pain, it means that the blessed Holy One is hiding His face, which is His utter goodness, and only His “back” is revealed. Then, great strengthening in one’s trust is needed to be vigilant against contemplating transgression, perish the thought, since it is difficult to recognize Him from behind. This is called “the first hiding.”

However, when troubles and grief accumulate to a great extent, it causes a second hiding, which the books call הַסְתֵּר בְּתוֹך הַסְתֵּר (ha-seter betokh ha-seter), “hiding within the hiding.” It means that even His back is unseen, perish the thought, meaning they do not believe that the blessed Holy One is angry with them and punishes them, but ascribe this to chance and nature, and come to deny His providence in reward and punishment. This is the meaning of, And as for Me, I will surely hide My face… for they turned to other gods—they speak heresy and turn to idol worshiping.

However, before that, when the verse speaks only from the perspective of one hiding, the verse ends, and they will say on that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not in our midst that these evils have found us?’ Meaning they still trust in the providence of reward and punishment, and say that the troubles and grief befall them because they do not cleave to the blessed Holy One, as is written, ‘Is it not because our God is not in our midst that these evils have found us?’ This is a facet of seeing the blessed Holy One, but only from behind. For that reason it is called “the first hiding,” merely hiding of the Face.

Now we have explained the two facets of apprehending hidden providence which people sense: “the first hiding” and “hiding within the hiding.” The first hiding relates only to hiding of the Face, while the back is revealed. This means that they trust that the blessed Holy One gave them the affliction as a punishment. And although it is hard for them to always know the blessed Holy One by His back, which causes them to transgress, even then they are considered “not completely wicked” [see BT Qiddushin 40b; Zohar 3:111a (RM)]. In other words, these transgressions are akin to being unintentional, because they befall them due to the increase in suffering, since, in general, they trust in reward and punishment.

“Hiding within the hiding” means that even the back of the blessed Holy One is hidden from them, as they do not trust in reward and punishment. Look, the transgressions in their hands are regarded as intentional wickedness. They are called “completely wicked” because they rebel and say that the blessed Holy One does not watch over His creatures at all, and turn to idolatry, as is written, for they turned to other gods, perish the thought.

We must know that the entire matter of the labor in keeping Torah and mitsvot by way of [freedom of] choice is mainly practiced according to the two aforementioned facets of hidden providence. And of that time: “Son of Heh-Heh said: According to the effort is the reward” (M Avot 5:26).

Since His providence is not revealed, it is impossible to see Him but only in hiding of the Face, from behind, as one who sees his friend from behind and may doubt and think he is another. In this way, the choice is always in the hands of man, either to fulfill the blessed Holy One’s will, or, perish the thought, to transgress it. This is because the troubles and the grief he suffers make him doubt the reality of His providence over His creatures, whether in the first facet—unintentional transgression; or in the second facet—intentional wickedness.

In any case, one is still in great pain and labor. Of this time it is written: All that your hand manages to do with your strength, do (Ecclesiastes 9:10). This is so because he will not be granted revealing the Face, the full degree of His goodness, before he exerts himself and does whatever is in his power to do, and “According to the effort is the reward.”

Indeed, after the blessed Holy One sees that man has completed his degree of attainment and completed all that he had to do with the power of his choice and his strengthening in trust of the blessed Holy One, he is assisted by Him and receives the attainment of revealed providence. Then, he is rewarded with perfect repentance, meaning he cleaves to the blessed Holy One once more with his heart, soul, and might [see recitation of Shema], as though drawn by itself in regard to the attainment of the revealed providence.

The above attainment and repentance come to a man by two rungs: The first is the attainment of providence according to absolute reward and punishment. Besides attaining the reward of each mitsvah in the world that is coming in utter clarity, he is also rewarded with the immediate attainment of wondrous pleasure in performing the mitsvah in this world.

Moreover, besides attaining the bitter punishment that extends from every transgression after his death, so too he is rewarded with sensing the bitter taste of every transgression while still alive.

Naturally, one who is imparted this revealed providence is certain that he will not offend again, just as one is quite sure he will not cut his own flesh and cause himself terrible suffering. In addition, one is certain that he will not neglect a mitsvah without performing it the instant it comes to his hand, as much as one is certain that he will not neglect any pleasure in this world or a great profit that comes to his hand.

Now you can understand the words of our Sages: What is repentance like? When the One who knows hidden things testifies about him that he will never return to his folly again [see Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Teshuva, 2]. These are seemingly perplexing words, for who would rise to the heavens to hear the testimony of the blessed Holy One? Also, before whom should the blessed Holy One testify? Is it not enough that the blessed Holy One Himself knows that the person repented and will not offend again?

From the explanation, the matter becomes quite clear. In truth, one is not absolutely certain that he will not offend again before he is rewarded with the aforementioned attainment of reward and punishment, meaning revealing the Face. And this revealing of the Face, from the perspective of the blessed Holy One’s rescue, is called עֵדוּת (edut), “testimony,” since His rescue in itself, the attainment of reward and punishment, assures him that he will no longer offend.

It is therefore considered that the blessed Holy One testifies for him. It is written, “What is repentance like?” In other words, when will one be certain that he has been granted perfect repentance? For this, one is given a clear sign: “When the One who knows hidden things testifies about him that he will never return to his folly again.” This means that he will attain revealing the Face, at which time his own rescue testifies that he will not return to folly.

This aforementioned repentance is called “repentance from fear.” This is because although he returns to the blessed Holy One with his heart and soul, until He who knows all mysteries testifies that he will not turn back to folly, that certainty that he will not offend again is due to his attainment and sensation of the terrible punishment and agony as a result of the transgressions. Because of that, he is certain that he will not offend, just as he is quite sure that he will not afflict himself with horrible suffering.

However, in the end, these repentances and certainty are only because of the fear of punishment that extends from the transgressions. It turns out that one’s repentance is only for fear of punishment. Because of that, it is called “repentance from fear.”

With this we understand the words of our Sages: One who repents from fear is rewarded with his intentional wickedness being unintentional [see BT Yoma 86b]. We must understand how this happens. According to what was said above, you can thoroughly understand that the offences one commits reach him from the reception of providence through a double hiding, namely “hiding within the hiding.” This means that one does not trust in providence of reward and punishment.

A single hiding means that he trusts in the providence of reward and punishment. Yet, due to the increase in suffering, he sometimes comes to thoughts of transgression. This is because even though he believes that the suffering came to him as a punishment, he is still like one who sees his friend from behind, and might doubt and mistake him for another. And these offences are only unintentional, since, as a whole, he trusts in providence of reward and punishment.

Hence, when one is granted repentance from fear, meaning a clear attainment of reward and punishment until he is certain that he will not offend again, the “hiding within the hiding” is entirely corrected in him. This is because now he sees evidently there is providence of reward and punishment. It is clear to him that all the suffering he had ever felt was a punishment from His providence for the offences he committed. In retrospect, he made a grave error. Hence, he uproots the intentional wickedness.

However, this is not entirely so, since they [still] become unintentional. In other words, it is like the transgressions he committed under one hiding, when he failed because of the confusion that came to him due to the multitude of torments that drive a person out of his mind. These are only regarded as unintentional.

Yet, according to this repentance, he did not at all correct the first hiding of the Face, which he had had before, but only from now on after he has attained revealing of the Face. In the past, however, before he had attained repentance, the hiding of the Face and all the unintentional offences remained as they were, without any change or repair whatsoever. This is so because then, too, he believed that the troubles and the suffering came to him as punishment, as is written, and they will say on that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not in our midst that these evils have found us?’

Therefore, he is still considered “not perfectly righteous” (BT Qiddushin 40b) because one who is awarded with revealing the Face, namely the full degree of His goodness, as befits His Name, is called “righteous.” This is so because he justifies His providence as it truly is, that He is utterly good and perfect with His creatures, that He is good to the good and to the bad.

Hence, since he has been awarded with revealing the Face, from here on he merits the name “righteous.” However, since he has not completed the correction, but only “hiding with the hiding,” and has not corrected the first hiding, but only from here on, that time, before he was awarded repentance, still does not merit the name “righteous.” This is because then he is left with the hidding Face, as before. For this reason, he is called “not completely righteous,” meaning one who still needs to correct his past.

He is also called “intermediate” (BT Qiddushin 40b), since after he attains repentance from fear he becomes qualified, through his completion in Torah and mitsvot, to attain repentance from love, as well. Then one attains being “completely righteous.” Hence, now one is the medium between Fear and Love, and is therefore called “intermediate.” However, prior to that, he was not completely qualified to even prepare himself for repentance from love.

This thoroughly explains the first rung of attainment of revealing the Face, the attainment and sensation of providence of reward and punishment in a way that “The One who knows hidden things testifies about him that he will never return to his folly again.” This is called “repentance from fear,” when his intentional wickedness becomes unintentional. This is also called “not perfectly righteous” and “intermediate.”

Now we shall explain the second rung of attaining revealing of the Face, which is the attainment of the complete, true, and eternal providence. It means that the blessed Holy One watches over His creations according to “The Good that does good to the good and to the bad.” Now one is regarded as “perfectly righteous” and “repentance from love,” when one is granted turning his intentional wickedness to merits [see BT Yoma 86b].

This explains all four facets of providence that pertain to the creatures. The first three facets, double hiding, single hiding, and attainment of providence of reward and punishment are but preparations by which one attains the fourth facet, which is the attainment of true, eternal providence.

But we have yet to understand why the third facet is not enough for a person, namely attainment of the providence of reward and punishment. We said that he has already been rewarded with “He who knows all hidden things” testifying that he will not offend again. Hence, why is he still called “intermediate” or “not perfectly righteous,” indicating that his service is still not desirable in the eyes of the blessed Holy One, and there is still a flaw and blemish in his Torah and service?

First, let us scrutinize what the commentators asked about the mitsvah of loving the blessed Holy One. How did the holy Torah oblige us to a mitsvah that we cannot keep at all? One can coerce and enslave oneself to anything, but no coercion or enslavement in the world will help with love.

They explained that by keeping all 612 mitsvot properly, love of the blessed Holy One emanates to him on its own. Hence, it is considered possible to observe, since one can enslave and coerce himself to keep the 612 mitsvot appropriately, and then he will also attain love of the blessed Holy One.

Hiding and Revealing the Face by Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag (Ba’al ha-Sullam)

canva-photo-editorYHWH, in your pleasure You made me stand mountain-strong. When You hid Your face, I was stricken (Psalms 30:8).

One portrait of the hiding

The blessed Holy One’s face is not revealed, that is, He does not act with one according to His name “The Good who does good” (Birkhat ha-Mazon) [cf. BT Ta’anit 31a]. Rather, to the contrary: he is afflicted by Him, suffers from a poor livelihood, and many wish to collect their debts from him and embitter his life. His entire day is filled with nothing but trouble and worry. He suffers from poor health and is disrespected by people. Any undertaking he starts he fails to finish, and he is constantly frustrated.

In this manner, of course he does not see the blessed Holy One’s good face, that is, if he believes that the blessed Holy One does these things to him, either as punishment for transgressions or to ultimately reward him. This follows the verse, For who YHWH loves He rebukes (Proverbs 3:12), and also, “The righteous begins with suffering” (Naḥmanides on Genesis 27:29), since the blessed Holy One wishes to eventually bestow abundant peace on him [cf. Psalms 126:5: They who sow in tears in glad song will reap; Zohar 2:187a: ‘All beginnings are hard, and their endings soft’].

Yet, he does not fail by exclaiming that all this befell him according to blind fate and nature without any reckoning or knowledge. Rather, he strengthens his trust in the blessed Holy One, whose providence caused him all this. Nevertheless, this is considered seeing the blessed Holy One’s back.

A second portrait of the hiding

The books refer to הַסְתֵּר בְּתוֹך הַסְתֵּר (ha-seter betokh ha-seter), “hiding within the hiding,” meaning one cannot see even the back of the blessed Holy One. Instead, he exclaims that the blessed Holy One has left him and no longer watches over him. He ascribes all the sufferings he feels to blind fate and to nature, since the ways of providence become exceedingly tangled in his eyes that they lead him to denial [of the blessed Holy One], perish the thought. This means that he prays and gives charity for his troubles but is not answered whatsoever. And precisely when he stops praying for his troubles, he is answered. Whenever he perseveres, trusts in providence, and improves his deeds, success turns away from him and he mercilessly declines. And when he abandons [the blessed Holy One] and begins to regress in his deeds, he becomes very successful and is greatly relieved [cf. Zohar 3:276b (RM)].

He does not find livelihood in a proper way, but through deceit or desecration of the Sabbath, and so on. All of his acquaintances who are masters of Torah and mitsvot suffer poverty, illness, and are despised by people. People who keep mitsvot seem to him lacking in דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ (derekh erets), common decency, born fools, and so hypocritical that he cannot tolerate their company for even a moment [cf. M Avot 2:2].

But all his wicked acquaintances, who mock his faithfulness, are very successful, well to do, and healthy. They know no illness, are clever, virtuous, and well-mannered. They are without worry, confident, and calm the whole day, perpetually.

And when providence arranges things in this way for a man, it is called “hiding within the hiding.” For then, perish the thought, he collapses under his weight and cannot persevere in the trust that his suffering comes from the blessed Holy One for some indiscernible reason. Finally he fails, becomes a heretic, and, perish the thought, says that the blessed Holy One does not watch over His creatures whatsoever, and all that befalls him transpires according to blind fate and nature. This is not seeing even the back.

A portrait of revealing the Face

However, once he has completely revealed the תַבלִין (tavlin), spice—the light of Torah—which man inhales into his body by his strengthening of trust in the blessed Holy One, he becomes worthy of providence with His face revealed. This means that the blessed Holy One acts with him as  befits His name, “The Good who does good.”

He discovers that he receives abundant goodness and great peace from the blessed Holy One and is always satisfied. For he obtains his livelihood with ease and to the fullest, never experiencing trouble or pressure, knows no illness, is highly respected by people, effortlessly accomplishes any plan that enters his mind, and succeeds wherever he turns.

When he wishes for something, he prays and he is instantaneously answered, as He always answers anything that he demands of Him, and not a single prayer is denied. When he strengthens his good deeds, he succeeds even more, and when he is negligent, his success decreases proportionally.

All of his acquaintances are honest, have a good livelihood and good health. They are highly respected in the eyes of people and have no worries at all. They are at peace all day, perpetually. They are smart, men of truth, possess a good appearance, and he feels blessed to be in their midst. But all of his acquaintances who do not follow the way of Torah have a poor livelihood, are burdened by heavy debts, and fail to find even a single moment’s rest. They suffer illness in pain, and are loathsome in the eyes of people. They seem to him inane, lacking in common decency, wicked, cruel, and flatterers full of lies such that it is intolerable to keep their company.

His blessed Name shows us that He is good and does good to all His creatures in every manner of benefit, and sufficient for every type among Israel. Certainly, the pleasure of one is not like the pleasure of another. For example, one who engages in wisdom will not take pleasure in honor and wealth, and one who does not engage in wisdom will not take pleasure in great attainment and innovating in wisdom. Thus, He gives wealth and honor to one, and wondrous attainment in wisdom to another.

A man’s demand to become stronger in his trust in the blessed Holy One’s providence over the world during a time of hiding brings him to murmur in books of Torah [cf. Psalms 1:2: But YHWH’s teaching is his desire, and His teaching he murmurs day and night], and to take from there the insight and understanding of how to strengthen his trust in His providence. The insights that he receives are called תוֹרָה תַבלִין (torah tavlin), “antidote of Torah,” until they reach a certain measure, when the blessed Holy One has compassion on him and pours upon him the spirit from on high—supernal abundance.

In summary: A portrait of hiding the Face

  1. Suffering torments such as lack of livelihood, poor health, humiliations, failing to achieve plans, personal doubt, such that he keeps himself from troubling his companion.
  2. Praying without being answered. When he improves his deeds he declines, but when he regresses in his deeds he is very successful. There is no chance of earning a living in a proper way, only through deceit and theft, or by desecrating the Sabbath.
  3. All of his honest acquaintances suffer poverty, ill health, and humiliations of all kinds, and his wicked acquaintances mock him everyday and are successful, healthy, wealthy, and lead carefree lives.
  4. All of his righteous acquaintances who keep Torah and mitsvot seem cruel, egotistical, backwards, born fools, lacking in common decency, and great hypocrites. He finds them repulsive and cannot tolerate their company for a moment, even if in a veritable Garden of Eden.

A portrait of revealing the Face

  1. Receiving good, abundant peace, and earning his livelihood with ease and to the fullest. He never feels stress or ill health, he is respected wherever he turns, and successfully and easily accomplishes any plan that enters his mind.
  2. When he prays, he is answered immediately. When he improves his deeds, he is very successful, and if he regresses in his deeds, he loses his success.
  3. All his acquaintances who walk along the upright path are wealthy, healthy, know no sickness, are highly respected in the eyes of the world, and dwell in peace and quiet. His acquaintances who do not walk along the upright path are without livelihood, filled with troubles, grief, illness, and are loathsome in the eyes of people.
  4. He regards all his righteous acquaintances as clever, reasonable, well-mannered, men of truth, and possessing of a good appearance such that it is a great pleasure to be in their company.

A Single Mitsvah by Rabbi Yehudah Ashlag (Ba’al ha-Sullam)

Ba'al ha-Sullam Portrait“If he performs one mitsvah, happy is he for turning the scale both of himself and of the whole world on the side of merit” (BT Qiddushin 40b).

There is no serving the blessed Holy One and keeping the mitsvot except in “לִישְׁמָהּ (Lishmah), for its own sake” (BT Pesaḥim 50b)—to please his Maker. Yet, our Sages have already introduced the practice of engaging in Torah and mitsvot even in “לֹא לִישְׁמָהּ (Lo lishmah), not for its own sake,” because “From not for its own sake, he comes to for its own sake” (ibid.).

Since the outbreak of the war people’s patience has worn thin and everyone, especially the young, have lost the power to control themselves and for that have become totally rebellious. It has become impossible to instill in them the habits of Torah study and keeping mitsvot. Moreover, the matter of [Torah] “not for its own sake,” which the masses base their practice on, is not the custom at all these days because respect for Torah has completely fallen. Therefore I have come out with this call to young Jews to return to the service of the blessed Holy One and to be faithful to Him even in a minimal fashion. We do not require of them immediate and total acceptance of Torah and mitsvot in their entirety but simply that each and everyone would at any rate accept a single mitsvah. As the Sages said, “Habakkuk came and based all [mitsvot] on one, as is said, And the righteous shall live by his faithfulness (Habakkuk 2:4)” (BT Makkot 24b) [cf. Maimonides on M Makkot 3:16]. Even if a person says he will fulfill all the mitsvot of Torah except for one [he is like a servant who rebels against his master (Rabbenu Yonah, Sha’arei Teshuvah, 6)], this refers to individuals who have become perfected and are now performing the mitsvot “for its own sake.” But before reaching that perfection when the whole point of the service is nothing but an exercise and training so that it will bring the individual to do so “for its own sake” the loss is not so great between him who fulfills in whole or in part.

I say that the first, and only mitsvah which guarantees attainment of the hope of “for its own sake,” is to resolve not to serve himself, except for what is absolutely necessary—merely providing for his sustenance. The rest of the time, he will work for the public: saving the oppressed, and every creature in the world that is in need of rescue and aid [cf. Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program: “Everyone according to his abilities, each according to his needs”].

Serving others with the blessed Holy One’s mitsvot

1) There are two advantages to this mitsvahEveryone will understand that they are laboring because this work is approved and agreeable to all the people in the world.

2) This mitsvah may better qualify one to keep Torah and mitsvot “for its own sake,” since the preparation is part of the objective. This is so because by accustoming himself to serving others, he benefits others and not himself. Thus, he gradually becomes fit to keep the mitsvot of the blessed Holy One with the required condition—benefiting the Creator and not himself. Naturally, the intention should be to keep the mitsvot of the blessed Holy One.

The part of Torah concerning relations between man and man

There are two parts in Torah: one concerns man and the Omnipresent; the other concerns man and man. And I call upon you to, at any rate, engage and assume that which concerns man and man, since thus you will also learn the part that concerns man and the Omnipresent.

Speech, thought, and action

Service of any kind, should include thought, speech, and action. We have already explained the “practical” part of the single mitsvah: he should agree to dedicate all of his free time to benefit people of the world. The aspect of “thought” is more essential in this mitsvah than in mitsvot relating to man and the Omnipresent. This is because in mitsvot between man and the Omnipresent, the “act” in itself testifies that the intention is to please his Maker, as there is no other room for such an action but Him.

Yet, with what concerns man and man, they are justified in and of themselves, since human conscience necessitates them. However, if he performs them from this perspective, he certainly has not done a thing. In others words, these actions will not bring him closer to his Maker and to actual service “for its own sake.”

Thus, each person should think that he is doing all that only to please his Maker, and to resemble His ways: as He is merciful, I am merciful, and as He always imparts good, so do I. This image, coupled with good deeds, will bring him closer to the blessed Holy One in a way that will equalize his form to spirituality and to holiness. In this manner, he becomes like a seal, fit to receive true supernal abundance.

And the matter of “speech” refers to prayer with the mouth—during the service and according to fixed times—for the blessed Holy One to turn his heart from “receiving to giving.” So, to murmur in Torah and in matters which promote achieving this [cf. Psalms 1:2: But YHWH’s Torah is his desire, and His Torah he murmurs day and night].

Pleasing his Maker unintentionally

It is hopeless to wait for a time when a solution is found for allowing him to begin the service of the blessed Holy One, “for its own sake.” As in the past, so in the future—every servant of the blessed Holy One must begin the service in “not for its own sake,” and from there attain “for its own sake.”

And the way to reach this rung is not limited in time, but by mechanisms and by the measure of his mastery over his heart. Hence, many have fallen, and will fall, in the matter of serving “not for its own sake,” and die without wisdom. Yet, their reward is nevertheless great, since his mind cannot appreciate the true merit and value of pleasing his Maker. Even if he works not under this condition, since he is not worthy of another way, he still brings contentment to his Maker. And this is called “unintentionally.”

Prophetic truth in material measurement

Since it is an absolute certainty the prophetic abundance must be received with language [lit., צֵירוּפִי אוֹתִיוֹת (tserufi otiot), letter-combinations] suitable for the spirit of beginners, that is, to benefit them and to be open to the self-interest of the generation. This is so because only then is it assured that the blessed Holy One’s word is accepted by the generation by way of “not for its own sake,” since the Creator did not prepare them in any other way, as mentioned above.

Hence, this is the sign of a true prophet: his prophecy is best suited for the material success of his contemporaries, as is written, And what great nation is there that has just statutes and laws like all this teaching that I am about to set before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:8). Since the material success at hand confirms their truthfulness, that, at last, it is indeed a widening of the gateway, as mentioned above.

The obligation to keep the 613 mitsvot

The 613 mitsvot, considered holy names, concern the matter of הַשׁגָחָה פְּרָטִית (hashgaḥah pratit), individual providence, for all who approach to receive divine abundance. Man is obligated to experience all of these orders, excepting none. Hence, the perfected ones follow them with their very being, in order to preserve them, down to their material branches, in the mystery of, In every place that I make My name invoked, I shall come to you and bless you (Exodus 20:24).

The Wisdom of Truth

The ancients chose a particular path for themselves, and I chose a general way, since to my mind it better suits the Divine, to ensconce Him in unchanging and eternal language. I mean to say that [even] with material success, they will not change in any place, nor in any time. Thus, my words are definitive.

For this reason I am forced to express רוּחָנִיוּת (ruḥaniut), spirituality, in a general way. However, I instead choose to explain all the particulars and immaterial language, to the most minute detail, which has no source other than this anthology, without the garment of material language—the pure Kabbalah. And by elucidating the spiritual particulars without the garment of material expressions, it will do much for the development of attainment. And this wisdom is called the Wisdom of Truth.

Prophecy

In prophecy no error or falsehood can occur, since in light of the truth which derives from the blessed Holy One how can there be error? Rather, it is as certain as rain and snow falling from the sky onto the soil, not ceasing until successful in their mission. Yet, soil that has been prepared by stone-removal and by plowing is better fit to receive than unprepared soil—everything depends on the preparation.

There is certainly a distinction among prophets, the kabbalists, since he is not actually in the [same] degree as his companion. Greatness or smallness is gauged according to the preparation of that prophet: one in a lower degree, due to a lack of tremendous preparation, is deficient in the light poured upon him, yet, the light of prophecy does not suffer any errors [itself]. However, his smallness causes him to use profuse language [lit., צֵירוּפִי אוֹתִיוֹת (tserufi otiot), letter-combinations], which is the multiplication of צִנוֹרוֹת וְכְּלִים (tsinorot ve-kelim), channels and vessels, until he attains prophecy.

Brevity is prophetic success

A prophet of a smaller degree imposes a more arduous way upon the people to whom he has been sent, although the veracity of a prophet is ultimately determined by the success of his will. However, one of a greater degree, whose preparation is meticulous, experiences no aberration when he receives his prophecy from the blessed Holy One. Hence, he will not increase the channels and vessels, since his prophecy is clear, concise, and easily and quickly accepted by those to whom he has been sent.

It is possible that the smaller may succeed more than the greater

Besides the aforementioned, it is possible for the smallest of prophets to succeed with his prophecy even more than the greatest prophet—concerning the aforementioned brevity—since he relies on the revelations of prior prophets, who paved his way for him. It also depends on the development of his audience, since clear and concise words require a more developed generation, so they can understand him. And if these two [conditions] augment one of a small degree, he can succeed far more than a great one [cf. John of Salisbury, Metalogicon 257].

The secret of prophecy through the generations

Although Moses our teacher, peace be upon him, received the Torah and the statutes for all the generations, to such an extent that a prophet is not permitted any innovations, his prophecy was only given for a time. This is attested to by: A prophet like me from your midst, from your brothers, YHWH will raise up. Him shall you heed (Deuteronomy 18:15). If the prophecy of Moses, peace be upon him, were enough for all eternity, why would the blessed Holy One send any other prophets such as him? Clearly, his prophecy was effective only for its time. And when that time is through, the blessed Holy One sends another prophet to extend or complete His desire.

Yet, the prophet is not permitted to renew or subtract a thing, for this would mean that there was a deficiency in the previous prophet, perish the thought. Rather, the words of the blessed Holy One are always perfect, as is written, I am the fist and I am the last (Isaiah 44:6). And his only task is to extend that same prophecy to those generations that are no longer worthy of receiving from the first.

And the final prophet is the mystery of מָשִׁיחַ (mashiaḥ), Messiah, who fulfills them all. He, too, is certainly not permitted to add or subtract, but his success will be greater, since the whole generation will be fit to receive his words and be fulfilled through him. This is so for two reasons: either because of their greatness, or because of his contemporaries, or because of both.

The essence of prophetic success

The essence of prophetic success is לְהַמשִׁיך (le-hamshikh), to draw, the supernal light down to the lowest ones below. The one who brings it lowest is the most successful. Above and below are measured in spirit and in physical benefit, since the physical obtained by prophecy is the point that gives people footing, and it is known that the focal point in the work of God is the first footing.

A general force and a particular force

Their uniqueness is the unity of the blessed Holy One and the Shekhinah. A particular force is forbidden reception until the lowest degree, and a general force is the multiplication of giving with all his might and his very being.

He is Sleeping Among His People

And Haman said to King Ahasuerus: “There is a certain people scattered and separate from the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom, and their rules are different from every people’s and they do not observe the king’s rules, and it does not pay for the king to leave them in peace. If it please the king, let it be written to wipe them out, and ten thousand talents of silver will I measure out to the court overseers to bring into the king’s treasury.” And the king removed his ring from his hand and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, foe of the Jews (Esther 3:8–9, cf. Exodus 1:8).

“Just as oil will not mix with other liquids, so Israel do not mix with the other peoples of the world, as is written, You shall not intermarry with them (Deuteronomy 7:3)” (Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah 1:21).

“[However,] Rabbi El’azar said: The blessed Holy One did not scatter Israel among the peoples except that converts be added to them, for it is said: And I will sow her [Israel] for Myself in the earth (Hosea 2:25); surely a man sows a se’ah in order to harvest many korin! And from this Rabbi Yoḥanan said: and I will have compassion upon her that had not obtained compassion [and I will say to them who were not My people, you are My people; and they shall say, You are my God] (ibid.)” (BT Pesaḥim 87b).

And Haman said to King Aheshurues: יֶשְׁנוֹ עַם אֶחָד (Yeshno am ead), there is one people (Esther 3:8), the very same of whom it is said, [Hear, O Israel! YHWH our God, YHWH is] אֶחָד (ead), One (Deuteronomy 6:4). [Do not read יֶשְׁנוֹ עַם אֶחָד (yeshno am eḥad), there is one people, but rather:] יָשֵׁן לוֹ מֵעַמּוֹ (yashen lo me-ammo), He is sleeping despite [or: among] His people” (Ester Rabbah 7:12, cf. BT Megillah 15b; Abba Guryon 5; Leqaḥ Tov 3:11, 5:14; Aggadat Ester 4:1, 17; Rabbi Ḥayyim Vital, Pri Ets Ḥayyim, Purim 5).

That night the sleep of the king was shaken (Esther 6:1). The heavens, the throne of the King of the King of Kings, the blessed Holy One, were shaken when He saw Israel in such distress. But is there sleep before הַמָּקוֹם (ha-maqom), the Omnipresent?! Is it not said, Behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalms 121:4)? Rather, in a time when Israel is in distress and the peoples of the world are at peace, it says, Awake, why sleep, O Master! [Rouse up, neglect not forever. Why do תַסְתִּיר (tastir), You hide, Your face, forget our affliction, our oppression?] (Psalms 44:24–25) [cf. BT Ḥullin 139b: ‘Where is אֶסְתֵּר (ester), Esther, in the Torah? Let Me אַסְתִּירָה (astirah), hide, My face from them (Deuteronomy 32:20)’].

King Ahasuerus’ sleep was also disturbed, because he saw in a dream Haman seizing a sword to kill him, and he awoke in terror from his sleep and told his scribes to bring [the royal annals] the Book of Acts to see what events had occurred, and they opened the book and found how Mordecai had informed against Bigthan and Teresh. So when they said to the king, Look, Haman is standing in the court (Esther 6:5), the king said: ‘What I saw in my dream is true; he has only come at this time of day to kill me’” (Ester Rabbah 10:1).

“[Preparing to impale Mordecai] Haman went about looking for a stake fifty cubits long, but could not find any, save that was in his house, which Parshandatha his son had brought from Kedronia, which is Kerdos. Because Haman’s son was ruler there; and there he saw the stake, which was from Noah’s ark. And Haman uprooted it from his house, so that the curse of Darius might be fulfilled in him, as is written, [Also I have made a decree, that] whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be impaled (Ezra 6:11). And this word found favor with Haman, and he prepared a gallows for himself; he erected it and perfected it. A heavenly voice called out saying, ‘How proper and fitting is this gallows for you.’

That night [the king could not sleep….] (Esther 6:1): On that night sleep [deserted] the carpenters who were preparing the gallows for Haman. On that night sleep deserted the smiths who were preparing the nails to be set in the gallows. On that night sleep deserted the King of Kings. Were in not written, one would dare not say it, as is written: Awake, why sleep, O Master! (Psalms 44:24); And the Master awoke as one sleeping, [like a warrior shaking off wine] (Psalms 78:65). On that very night the blessed Holy One was revealed. [And they impaled Haman on the stake that he had readied for Mordecai, and the king’s wrath subsided…. On the contrary, it was the Jews who dominated their foes (Esther 7:10, 9:1)]” (Targum Ester, see Kasher and Klein, New Fragments of Targum to Esther, p. 154–55).

“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 prayer 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).

“Eyes of the White Head are different from other eyes. There is no lid over the eye, nor any eyebrows. Why? Because it is written: Behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps, the Guardian of Israel (Psalms 121:4)—Israel above. And it is written: that Your eyes may be open (1 Kings 8:52). And it has been taught: Whatever comes in Compassion has no lid over the eye, nor any eyebrows. All the more so, the White Head, which has no need.

Rabbi Shim’on said to Abba, ‘To what does this allude?’ He replied, ‘To fish, fish of the sea, whose eyes have neither lids nor brows, and they do not sleep and need no protection for the eye. All the more so, the Ancient of Ancients—who needs no protection; and all the more so, since He watches over all, and all is nourished by Him, and He does not sleep, as is written: Behold, He neither slumbers nor sleeps, the Guardian of Israel—Israel above.

It is written: Behold, the eye of YHWH is upon those who revere Him (Psalms 33:18), and it is written: The eyes of YHWH range over the whole earth (Zechariah 4:10). There is no contradiction. One refers to זְעֵיר אַנפִּין (Ze’eir Anpin), Small Countenance, and the other to אֲרִיך אַנְפִּין (Arikh Anpin), Elongated Countenance. Nevertheless, there are two eyes, turning into one. This eye is white within white, and a white including all whites” (Zohar 3:129b, Idra Rabba, cf. Zohar 3:137b–138a, Idra Rabba).

How can a Person Grasp His own Way?

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From YHWH are the steps of a man, and how can a person grasp his own way? (Proverbs 20:24).

“Come and see: All events of the world depend on numerous suzerains, yet all inhabitants of the world neither know nor consider the foundation of their existence. Even Solomon, who was wiser than anyone in the world, could not comprehend them.

He opened saying, ‘He has made everything right in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Come and see: Happy are those who engage in Torah and know how to contemplate with the spirit of wisdom! He has made everything right in its time. Every action performed by the blessed Holy One in the world, each and every one, has a rung appointed over it, whether for good or for evil, some rungs to the right, some to the left. If a person goes to the right, performing an action, there is a rung appointed to that side, offering him assistance; how many assist him! If a person goes to the left and commits his acts, the act he commits is appointed to that side, accusing him, conducting him to that side, leading him astray.

So, an act performed fittingly by a person is facilitated by the power appointed on the right. This is in its timeright in its time, for that action links with its time fittingly.

He has also set the world in their heart. The entire world and all its activity depend solely upon the desire of the heart, as it arises in the will of a human being. Happy are the righteous who attract good deeds, benefiting themselves and the whole world [cf. BT Qiddushin 40b; Sotah 3b]! Woe to those who do not know the time of that action and do not care about performing their actions in the world according to the remedy needed by the world, aligning the action with its appropriate rung. Why? Because they do not know.

So, all is given to human רְעוּתְהוֹן (re’uthon), will, as is written: yet a human cannot discover what God has done… (Ecclesiastes 3:11). And since those actions are not performed to be aligned fittingly with their rungs—that this act might be integrated in this rung, perfectly arranged—but rather according to human desire, what is written next? I know that there is nothing good in them but to be happy and do good in their life (ibid., 12). I know that there is nothing good in them—in those actions performed improperly. But to be happy with whatever befalls him and to offer thanks to the blessed Holy One and do good in his life. For look, if that action brings evil upon him through the rung appointed over it, he should rejoice in this and offer thanks since he brought it upon himself, going unknowingly like a bird into a snare.

How do we know all this? As is written: For a human does not know his time. Like fish caught in a cruel net, like birds seized in a snare, so humans are trapped in a time of calamity, when it falls upon them suddenly (ibid. 9:12). For a human does not know his time. What is his time? The time of that action that he performs, as has been said: He has made everything right in its time. So they are like birds seized in a snare. So, happy are those engaged in Torah, who know its ways and paths, so as to walk the way of truth” (Zohar 1:195b, cf. ibid. 2:134b).

“Rabbi Yehudah opened, ‘Happy is the people who know the shout of joy; O YHWH, they walk in the light of Your presence (Psalms 89:16). How essential for people to walk in the ways of the blessed Holy One and observe the commandments of Torah, so that thereby they may attain the world that is coming and be delivered from all accusations above and below! For just as there are accusers in the world below, so there are accusers above, looming over human beings [cf. M Avot 4:11].

Those who enact the commandments of Torah and walk a straight path, revering their Lord, how many advocates stand poised above them [cf. BT Shabbat 32a; ZḤ 14c (MhN)]! As is said: If he has an angel over him, one advocate among a thousand, to vouch for his uprightness, then He is gracious to him and says, ‘Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom’ (Job 33:23–24). So, happy is one who observes the commandments of Torah.

Rabbi Ḥiyya said, ‘If so, why is an angel required to be an advocate for that person? Look at what is written: For YHWH will be your confidence; He will keep your foot from the snare (Proverbs 3:26), and similarly: YHWH will guard you from all evil (Psalms 121:7)!

For the blessed Holy One sees everything that a person does in this world, whether good or evil, as is said: ‘If one hides in secret places, do I not see him? declares YHWH (Jeremiah 23:24). Rabbi Yehudah replied, ‘All is certainly so, but see what is written: Stretch out Your hand and touch his bone and his flesh…. YHWH said to Satan, [‘Here, he is in your hand, but spare his life’] (Job 2:5–6), and similarly: You incited Me against him to destroy him without cause (ibid., 3)—demonstrating that authorization is granted to the Other Side, authorization over matters of the world being given to one who, it should not be given. All these ways are concealed before the blessed Holy One, and we must not pursue them, for they are laws of the blessed Holy One, and human beings are not permitted to scrutinize them—except for the truly virtuous who know the secrets of Torah and walk in the way of wisdom, discovering those hidden elements of Torah’” (Zohar 2:32b).

“Come and see: By YHWH, a man’s steps are set, and He favors his way (Psalms 37:23). When the blessed Holy One is pleased with someone, all his steps and all his ways—all of them—are prepared for him, and He rectifies each and every one, fittingly. He favors his way—even in worldly matters.

Further, By YHWH, a man’s steps are set, and He favors his way. If a person directs his mind, רְעוּתֵיהּ (re’uteih), will, and heart toward the Holy King, following His way—the blessed Holy One favors it, the one that he paves, as if it were His own, actually! [cf. M Avot 2:4]” (Zohar Ḥadash 74a).

“Rabbi Levi said: Six things serve man—three are under his control, and three are not under his control. The eyes, the ears and the nostrils are not under his control, since he sees what is not wanted, hears what is not wanted, and smells what is not wanted. The mouth, the hand, and the foot are under his control. If he wants to, he learns Torah, while if he wants to he speaks badly, and if he wants to he blasphemes and reviles. Regarding the hand, if he wants to he can offer charity, while if he wants to he can rob, and if he wants to he can murder. Regarding the feet, if he wants to he can go to houses of theatre and houses of circus, while if he wants to he can go to houses of assembly and houses of study. But when he is worthy the blessed Holy One makes those which he controls no longer in his control. The hand: And the hand he reached out against him withered (1 Kings 13:4); the mouth: Now blessed he stays (Genesis 27:33); the foot: My son, do not go on a road with them… for their feet hurry to shed blood (Proverbs 1:15–16)” (Bereshit Rabbah 67:3, cf. Sefer Yetsirah §62; Zohar 1:195a).

“Rabbi Ḥama son of Rabbi Ḥanina said: Had it not been for these three verses, the legs of ‘the enemies of Israel’ would have collapsed. One verse: [On that day, said YHWH: I will gather the lame one, and the outcast I will take in] and to whom I did harm (Micah 4:6); and one verse: Look, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in My hand, house of Israel (Jeremiah 18:6); and one verse: [And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you,] and I will take away the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Rav Pappa said: From here: And My spirit I will put within you, and I will act so that you go by My statutes (ibid., 27)” (BT Berakhot 32a).

Let go, and know that I am God (Psalms 46:11).

Better a Thing’s End than Its Beginning

IMG_0957Each act of YHWH has its own end; even the wicked for an evil day (Proverbs 16:4).

“There is no evil that does not contain some good… there is nothing evil in its proper place” (Rabbi Yosef Gikatilla, Sod Sha’atnez, 278 [Gottlieb]).

“[Son of Azzai] used to say: Do not scorn any person and do not disdain anything; for there is no person who does not have his hour, and there is no thing that does not have its place” (M Avot 4:3).

And the gain of the land is in everything (Ecclesiastes 5:8). Rabbi Yehudah said: [Even] obscure things which you see are a benefit in the world, [indeed] they are needed for the world’s existence” (Qohelet Rabbah on 5:8).

“Once Rabbi El’azar was walking on the way, accompanied by Rabbi Ḥizkiyah. They saw a snake, and Rabbi Ḥizkiyah was about to kill it. Rabbi El’azar said to him, ‘Leave it alone, don’t kill it!’ He replied, but it’s an evil thing that kills people.’ He said to him, ‘Ḥizkiyah, look at what is written: Does the snake bite without a whisper? (Ecclesiastes 10:11). A snake does not bite a person until it is whispered to from above and told, Go and kill so-and-so!

And sometimes, just as it does this, so it saves a person from other things, and thereby the blessed Holy One generates a miracle for people. All is in the hands of the blessed Holy One, and all is the work of His hands, needed by the world. If the world did not need them, the blessed Holy One would not have created them. Therefore, one must not disdain anything in the world or the acts of the blessed Holy One’” (Zohar 2:68b, cf. Mekhilta Beshallaḥ 1; BT Shabbat 121b; Berakhot 33a).

“Rabbi Shim’on was walking on the way, accompanied by Rabbi El’azar, Rabbi Abba, Rabbi Yehudah, Rabbi Ḥiyya, and Rabbi Yose. They came to a certain obstructive watercourse [of the sort which people make in their fields (Sullam), see BT Bava Batra 54a], and Rabbi Yose slipped into the water fully clothed. He said, ‘This construction of measured water—I wish that it didn’t exist!’ Rabbi Shim’on said to him, ‘You are forbidden! This serves the world, and one must not treat contemptuously those who are of service to the blessed Holy One, especially since they are fashioned genuinely [i.e., this has a corresponding root above (Sullam)].

He opened, saying, ‘God saw all He had made, and look, it was very good (Genesis 1:31)—existing according to the laws of supernal authority. God saw all that He had made—without qualification: even snakes, scorpions, and mosquitoes, and even that which seems to harm the world. Concerning all of them, it is written and look, it was very good. All of them serve the world, conduct the world, though people do not know [cf. Shemot Rabbah 10:1].’

As they were walking along, they saw a snake leading the way. Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Surely, this one is about to perform a miracle for us!’ That snake slithered quickly in front of them and tangled with a viper diametrically across the road. They fought one another and died. When they reached them, they saw them both lying on the road. Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘Blessed is the Compassionate One who has performed a miracle for us! For if anyone looks at this [viper] while it is alive, or is looked upon by it, he is doomed, all the more so if he approaches it.’ He proclaimed over himself, ‘No evil will befall you, nor affliction draw near your tent. For His angels He will command for you, to guard you on all your ways (Psalms 91:10–11). By all things the blessed Holy One fulfills His commission, and we must not treat contemptuously anything He has made. Thus it is written YHWH is good to all, and His compassion is over all His creatures, and similarly: All your creatures, YHWH, acclaim You (ibid. 145:9–10)’ [cf. BT Shabbat 121b: ‘Our Rabbis taught: If one chances upon snakes and scorpions, and he kills them, it is manifest that he had chanced upon them in order to kill them; if he does not kill them, it is manifest that he had chanced upon them that they should kill him, but that a miracle was performed by Heaven on his behalf. ‘Ulla said:—others state, Rabbah son of Son of Hanah said in Rabbi Yoḥanan’s name—That is when they hiss at him’]” (Zohar 3:107a).

“It is related of Naḥum of Gamzu that he was blind in both his eyes, his two hands and legs were amputated—and his whole body was covered with boils and he was lying in a dilapidated house on a bed the feet of which were standing in bowls of water in order to prevent the ants from crawling on to him.

On one occasion his disciples desired to remove the bed and then clear the things out of the house, but he said to them, My children, first clear out the things [from the house] and then remove my bed for I am confident that so long as I am in the house it will not collapse. They first cleared out the things and then they removed his bed and the house [immediately] collapsed. Thereupon his disciples said to him, Rabbi, since you are wholly righteous, why has all this befallen you? And he replied, I have brought it all upon myself. Once I was journeying on the road and was making for the house of my father-in-law and I had with me three donkeys, one laden with food, one with drink and one with all kinds of delicacies, when a poor man met me and stopped me on the road and said to me, Rabbi, give me something to eat. I replied to him, Wait until I have unloaded something from the donkey; I had hardly managed to unload something from the donkey when the man died [from hunger]. I then went and laid myself on him and exclaimed, May my eyes which had no pity upon your eyes become blind, may my hands which had no pity upon your hands be cut off, may my legs which had no pity upon your legs be amputated, and my mind was not at rest until I added, may my whole body be covered with boils.

Thereupon his disciples exclaimed, ‘Alas! that we see you in such a sore plight.’ To this he replied, ‘Woe would it be to me did you not see me in such a sore plight’ [cf. BT Shabbat 33b: (Rabbi Shim’on son of Yoḥai said:) If you did not see me in such a state you would not find me thus (learned)]. Why was he called Naḥum of Gamzu? Because whatever befell him he would declare, גַם זוֹ לְטוֹבַה (gam zo le-tovah), ‘This also is for the best.’

Once the Jews desired to send to the Emperor a gift and after discussing who should go they decided that Naḥum of Gamzu should go because he had experienced many miracles. They sent with him a bagful of precious stones and pearls. He went and spent the night in a certain inn and during the night the people in the inn arose and emptied the bag and filled it up with earth. When he discovered this next morning he exclaimed, This also is for the best. When he arrived at his destination and they undid his bag they found that it was full of earth. The king thereupon desired to put them to death saying, The Jews are mocking me. Naḥum then exclaimed, This also is for the best.

Whereupon Elijah appeared in the guise of one of them and remarked, Perhaps this is some of the earth of their father Abraham, and when [he threw] stubble it changed into arrows, for it is written, [Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his feet, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? He gave them as the dust to] his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow (Isaiah 41:2). Now there was one province which [the emperor had hitherto] not been able to conquer but when they tried some of this earth [against it] they were able to conquer it. Then they took him [Naḥum] to the royal treasury and filled his bag with precious stones and pearls and sent him back with great honour. When on his return journey he again spent the night in the same inn he was asked, What did you take [to the king] that they showed you such great honour? He replied, I brought there what I had taken from here. [The innkeepers] thereupon razed the inn to the ground and took of the earth to the king and they said to him, The earth that was brought to you belonged to us. They tested it and it was not found to be [effective] and the innkeepers were thereupon put to death” (BT Ta’anit 21a, cf. Rabbi Menaḥem Azariyah de Fano, Gilgulie Neshamot, 95).

Better a things end than its beginning (Ecclesiastes 7:8).

“Rabbi Akiva walked down the road of a village. He asked for a place to stay, but none was offered. He said, ‘All that the Merciful does is for the best.’ He went and slept in a field in which there was a rooster, wine, and a lamp. A wind came and blew out the lamp, a cat came and ate the rooster and a lion came and drank the wine. He said, ‘All that the Merciful does is for the best.’ That night an army came and took the town captive. Rabbi Akiva said, ‘Didn’t I tell you that all that the blessed Holy One does is for the best!’” (BT Berakhot 60b).

“This is the sin of the primordial serpent: he joined below and it separated above. So he caused what he caused to the world. For one should separate below and join above… one should realize that יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים (YHWH Elohim) is entirely one, indivisible. יְהוָה (YHWH) is הָאֱלֹהִים (Ha-Elohim). Once one realizes all is one and does not impose division, even that Other Side will disappear from the world, not be drawn below” (Zohar 1:12b, cf. Guide of the Perplexed 3:10: “The true reality of the act of God in its entirety is good”).