It is proper for man to emulate his Creator, for then he will attain the essence of the Supernal Form in both image (tzelem) and likeness (demus). For if his physical form reflects the Supernal Form, while his actions do not, he falsifies his stature. They will then say of him, “a handsome form whose deeds are ugly.” For the essential aspect of the Supernal image and likeness are His deeds. And what use will it be to him to reflect the Supernal Form physically with the likeness of the shape of his limbs, when his deeds do not emulate those of his Creator? Thus, it is proper that man emulate the functions of keser – which are the Thirteen Supernal Attributes of mercy – alluded to, in the essence of the verses (Michah 7:18-20): “Who is G-d like You, Who pardons iniquity and removes transgression for the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His wrath eternally for He is desirous of kindness. He will again be merciful to us, He will suppress our iniquities, and You will cast into the depths of the sea all of their sins. Grant truth to Yaakov, kindness to Avraham, as You have sworn to our forefathers from days of old.” Therefore, it is proper that one should contain in himself these Thirteen Attributes. We will now explain the thirteen functions of these attributes.
Who is G-d like You?
This attribute teaches us that the Holy One, Blessed is He, is a forbearing King Who tolerates insult in a manner beyond human comprehension. Without doubt, nothing is hidden from His providence. In addition, there is not a moment that man is not nourished and sustained by virtue of the Divine power bestowed upon him. Thus being, no man ever sinned against G-d without G-d Himself bestowing His existence and the ability to move his limbs, at that very moment. Yet, even though a person uses this very power to transgress, He does not withhold it from him at all. Rather, the Holy One, Blessed is He, tolerates this insult and continues to bestow on him the power to move his limbs. Even at the very moment that person uses this power for transgression, sin and infuriating deeds, the Holy One, Blessed is He, continues to tolerate him. One cannot say, G-d forbid, that He cannot withhold this benevolence, for it is within His power to shrivel up a person’s arms or legs instantly, just as He did with Yaravam (See Melachim A13-4). Yet, even though it is within His power to withdraw the power that he bestowed, and He could maintain, “Since you sin against Me, sin with that which belongs to you, not with that which belongs to Me,” He does not, for this reasoning, withhold His goodness from man; rather, He tolerates the insult and continues to bestow power and benefits man with His benevolence. Behold, this is a degree of insult and tolerance of it that is immeasurable. For this reason, the ministering angels refer to the Holy One, Blessed is He, as the “Forbearing King” (Pirkei Heichalos Chapter 24). This is the meaning of the saying: “Who is G-d like You” – You are G-d Who possesses kindness, Who is benevolent. A G-d Who possesses the power to take revenge and claim what is rightfully Yours, and yet, You are tolerant and forbearing until man repents.
Thus, this attribute of being tolerant, is one that man should emulate. Even when he is insulted to such a degree (mentioned above0, he should still not withdraw his benevolence from the recipient.
Who pardons iniquity
Behold, this attribute is greater than the previous one. For whenever a person commits a transgression, a destructive being is created – as stated in the Mishnah (Avos 4:13), “He who commits a single transgression acquires against himself a single accuser”. And this accuser stands before the Holy One, Blessed is He, and declares, “So and so created me.” Considering that no being in the world exists without the bestowing of life from the Holy One, Blessed is He, then this destructive being which stands before Him, with what sustenance does he exist? The strict measure of justice would justify that the Holy One, Blessed is He, should claim, “I do not nourish destructive beings! Go to the one who made you, and derive your sustenance from him.” The destructive being would then immediately descend and take his life, or cut him off from his spiritual source, or he would receive his deserving punishment until the destructive being would cease to be. Nevertheless, the Holy One, Blessed is He, does not do this. Rather, He bears and tolerates the sin, and just as He nourishes the entire world, He nourishes and sustains this destructive being until one of three things happens: Either the sinner repents, and destroys and nullifies it (the destructive being) through his acts of penance; or the righteous judge nullifies it through the suffering or death of the sinner; or he will descend to Gehinnom to repay his debt there. This is also the explanation of Kayin’s plea, “Is my sin too great to bear?” (Bereishis 4:13), which our Sages (Tanchumah Breishis, Chap 9) interpreted as: “You tolerate the entire world!: meaning – You nourish and sustain. “Is my sin so severe that You cannot tolerate it: – meaning to sustain it (the destructive being), until I repent and rectify the sin?” Thus, that G-d nourishes and sustains the evil creature created by the sinner, until he repents, represents a great quality of tolerance.
From this, man should learn to what extent he should be tolerant. He should tolerate the wrong of his fellow and his harm, even though he harmed him to such a degree, that the harm he caused him continues to exist. He should tolerate this until his fellow rectifies the wrong himself or it (the harm) disappears on its own. And the same applies to other situations.
And removes transgression
This is a very great attribute, for when G-d forgives a sinner, He does not convey His pardon through an emissary. Rather, the Holy One Himself, Blessed is He, grants the pardon, as it is written: “For with You is forgiveness…” (Tehillim 13:4) What is the nature of this forgiveness? He washes away the sin, as it is written: “For G-d has washed away the filth of the daughters of Tziyon…” (Yeshaya 4:4) Similarly, it is written: “And I will sprinkle purifying waters upon you…” (Yechezkel 36:25). This, then, is the attribute of “Removing transgression” – He sends purifying waters, and removes and washes away transgression.
A person should behave in exactly the same manner. He should not say, “Why should I rectify what so and so corrupted or ruined? “ This should not be said, for when man sins, the Holy One, Blessed is He, Himself, not by way of an emissary, rectifies his corruption and washes away the filth of his sins. From this, a person should understand to be ashamed to return to his sinful ways, for the King Himself cleanses the filth of his spiritual garments.
For the remnant (shei’ris) of His heritage
The Holy One, Blessed is He, conducts himself towards Bnei Yisroel in this way: He says, “What shall I do for Bnei Yisroel, who are My relatives? I have with them a family relationship!: for they are the “spouse” of the Holy One, Blessed is He, and He also calls them, “My daughter,” “My sister,” and “My mother,” as our sages (Medash Shiur HaShiurim 3:25) explain. And as it is written “Bnei Yisroel, a nation related to Him” (Tehillim 48:4)), – He has an actual family relationship with them and they are His children. . this, too, is the meaning of the words “shei’ris of His heritage,” implying she’er bassar (a flesh relationship). In the final analysis, they are G-d heritage. And what does He say? “If I punish them, the pain is Mine!” As it is written – In all their pain, He is afflicted” (Yeshaya 63:9). The word lo is actually written with an aleph implying that their pain extends to the level of keser called pelech (aleph has the same letters as peleh – referring to the sefira of keser) and how much more so to the level of the dual visage (tiferes and malchus) through which the world is mainly conducted. For it is read lo tzar with a vav signifying that the pain is His. This is also the intention of the verse that is written, “And His soul could not tolerate the misery of Yisroel” (Shoftim 10:16), for He cannot tolerate their suffering and disgrace, since they are the remnant (shei’ris) of His heritage.
A person should behave this same way towards his fellow, since all Bnei Yisroel are related to each other, being that all souls are united, and each soul contains a part of all others. This is why, nothing can compare to a multitude who do a mitzvah (Toras Kohanim 26:8). The reason being, because they are all united and complement one another. And thus, our Sages explain (Brachos 47b) regarding one who is counted among the first ten to arrive at the Bais Haknesses (synagogue) that even if one hundred come after him, he receives a reward equivalent to them all. “One hundred” is to be understood literally, since the souls of each of the first ten are included in each other, thus there are ten times ten, which equals one hundred. And since each soul includes all of the others, every one of them is a combination of one hundred souls. Therefore, even if a hundred come after him, his reward equals all of the hundred. This is also why “Bnei Yisroel are guarantors thus responsible and liable for one another” (Shevuos 39a), since each Jewish soul actually contains a potion of all the others, and when an individual sins, he blemishes his own soul and also the portion of every other Jew that he possesses within himself. It is this portion that requires his friend to be a guarantor for him. Hence, all Jews are related to one another.
Therefore, it is proper for man to desire the benefit of his fellow, view his neighbor’s good fortune in a positive way, and cherish his friend’s honor as his won – for he (his friend) is actually himself! And for this reason, we are commanded to “Love your fellow Jew as yourself” (Vayikra 19:18). Furthermore, it is proper that one should be pleased with the integrity of his fellow, and should never speak ill of him or be desirous of his disgrace, just as the Holy One, Blessed is He, desires neither our disgrace nor our suffering, because of our relationship; so too, a person should not be desirous of his fellow’s disgrace, suffering or downfall. Rather, he should be pained by it as if he himself was actually suffering that same pain or rejoicing in the person’s good fortune as if he were enjoying that same good fortune.
He does not retain His wrath eternally
This is another attribute that even when a person persists in sinning, the Holy One, Blessed is He, does not retain His wrath. And even when He does retain it, it is not forever. Rather, He nullifies His anger even if a person does not repent, as we find in the days of Yaravam ben Yoash, when the Holy One, Blessed is He, restored the orders of the land of Israel (Melachim B 14:26); they were worshippers of idols, but He had mercy on them, thought hey did not repent. If so, why did He have mercy on them? Because of this attribute of not retaining His wrath forever. On the contrary, He deliberately alleviates His wrath. Even thought the sin still exists, He does not punish immediately; rather, He waits hopefully and has mercy on the sinners on the possibility that they will repent. This is the intention of the verse “Not forever will he battle, nor will he bear a grudge for eternity” (Tehillim 103:9). Rather, the Holy One, Blessed is He, conducts Himself with both tenderness and harshness, all for the benefit of Bnei Yisroel.
This is a fitting attribute with which a person should conduct himself towards his fellows. Even if one is permitted to reprimand his friend or his children severely, and they would accept the rebuke, this is no reason to intensify his reprimand and persist in his anger, though he was angered. Instead, he should nullify it (his anger) and not retain his wrath eternally, even if this is such a wrath that is permissible for man. This idea is comparable to our Sages’ explanation of the verse “When you see the donkey of someone you hate lying under its burden,” (Shemos 23:5). What is the cause of this hatred? He saw him transgress a sin, and being a lone witness, he cannot testify against him in court. Thus, he hates him because of that sin. Even so, the Torah demands, “You shall help along with him,” meaning, abandon that anger which is in your heart. And on the contrary, it is a mitzvah to befriend him with love, for perhaps with this method you will succeed in causing him to repent. This is exactly the attribute of – “He does not retain His wrath eternally.”
For He is desirous of kindness
We have already explained elsewhere (Pardas Rimonim, Shaar Heichalos Chap. 5) that in a certain Heavenly chamber, angels are appointed to receive the grants of kindness that man performs in this world. And when the attribute of strict judgment accuses Bnei Yisroel, these angels immediately display those acts of kindness, and the Holy One, Blessed is He, has mercy upon Bnei Yisroel, since He is desirous of their kindness. And even though they may be guilty, He has mercy on them if they grant kindness to one another. This can be compared to the time of the Destruction of the Holy Temple, when it was said to the angel Gavriel: “Go in between the galgal, beneath the keruvim, and throw them on the city…” (Yechezkel 10:2) For he (Gavirel) is the angel of judgment and strictness, and he was given permission to receive the powers of judgment, from the fire on the Altar, which is between the galgal, below the keruvim. This is judgment according to the strictness of malchus, which became so severe that it sought to destroy everything and uproot the core of Bnei Yisroel, because they had incurred the penalty of annihilation. However, the passage continues “The form of a man’s hand appeared under the wings of the keruvim meaning that the Holy One, Blessed is He, said to Gavriel, “They grant kindness towards one another (Vayikra Raba 26:8). So even though they were guilty, they were saved, and a remnant of them was left. The reason for this is due to this attribute of “He is desirous of kindness,” meaning – the kindness that Bnei Yisroel grant for one another. And He reminds them (the Heavenly court) of this righteous aspect of them, even though, in other aspects, they are not righteous.
Hence it is proper for man to conduct himself with this attribute. Even if one is aware that another person is committing evil against him, and angers him, nevertheless if he has some good redeeming quality – e.g. he is benevolent to others or he possesses some other good trait with which he conducts himself righteously – this good side of him should be sufficient for one to nullify his anger against him and to have a positive feeling towards him and to desire his kindness and say “It is enough for me that he has this good quality.” How much more so does all this apply to one’s wife; as our Sages explained: “It is enough that they raise our children and save us from sin.” So, too, one should say to himself with regard to every man, “It is enough that he has done for me or someone else such and such a favor, or that he has a such and such positive quality, and he should always be desirous of kindness.
He will again be merciful to us
The Holy One, Blessed is He, does not conduct Himself in the same manner as man. For when one is angered by his fellow, when he reconciles with him, the reconciliation is only minimal – not to the extent of the original love between them. But if a person sins and afterwards repents, his stature before the Holy One, Blessed be He, is even greater than before. This is the intention of the statement our Sages made, “At the level where baale teshuvah stand, perfect tzaddikim cannot stand.” The reason for this is, as explained in the Talmud (Menachos 29b) regarding the letter Hei: “Why is it made open like a porch? So that anyone who wants to go astray from His world can do so!” The explanation of this is as follows: The world was created with the letter Hei, for the Holy One, Blessed is He, created the world as such that it is wide-open to evil and sin. There is no direction where earthliness, the evil inclination, and blemishes of the soul are absent! It is just like a porch, which is not fully fenced, rather, it has a huge breach on the bottom toward evil. Anyone who desires to leave His world has many exits; wherever he turns, he will find an aspect of sin or transgression through which he can enter the domain of the Outside Forces. And yet, it also has a gap at the top left corner, symbolizing that if he repents he will be accepted by G-d. The Sages asked, “Why shouldn’t he reenter the same path through which he left? Our Sages answer: Because this way will not help him enough in his repentance.” Meaning, that it is not enough for a repentant sinner to guard himself against sin the same way a perfectly righteous person does. Tzaddikim, since they have not sinned require only a minor barrier, whereas for a repentant sinner, a small barrier is insufficient – he needs a number of strong restraints. The reason being, since this minor barrier was already breached once, if he approaches it, his evil urge will easily seduce him again. Therefore, he must further himself a great distance, and not reenter the porch at the breached side. Rather, he should ascend and enter the narrow gap at the top of the Hei, by engaging in self afflictions, thus mending the breaches.
For this reason, “At the level where baalei teshuvah stand, perfect tzaddikim cannot stand.” – for they did not enter through the same entrance as the righteous such that they should be together with the righteous. Instead, they pained themselves in order to ascend through the upper door, they inflicted penances on themselves, and distanced themselves from sin much more than the righteous. They have therefore ascended and attained the level of Hei, that is the roof of the Hei symbolizing the fifth Palace of Gan Eden, whereas the righteous have entered only through the lower opening of the Hei – the entrance of the porch. Therefore when a person does teshuva – that is to say tashuv Hei – he returns the hei to its proper place, and then the Holy One, Blessed is He, returns His Shechinah upon him. And He will restore His love for the repentant person not only as the original love was, but rather in an even greater measure. This is the explanation of the attribute “He will again be merciful to us”: He will increase His mercy toward Bnei Yisroel, perfecting them and drawing them closer to Himself.
This is also how a person should behave towards his fellow. He should not nurture the hatred born of past anger. Rather, when he sees that his fellow desires his love, he should raise his level of mercy and love toward him much more than before, and say, “He is to me like the baale teshuvah, in whose company even the perfectly righteous cannot stand.”
And he should befriend him to the fullest extent, much more than he would befriend those who are perfectly righteous in their behavior towards him and have never wronged him.
He will suppress our iniquities
Behold, the Holy One, Blessed is He, conducts Himself with Bnei Yisroel according to this attribute, which is the essence of suppressing iniquity. For mitzvos are compared to blossoms of a grapevine, sprouting its developing fruit – and it shoots upwards without limit, to enter His blessed Presence. However, sins have no entrance there, G-d forbid. Rather, He suppresses them, denying them entry, as it is written: “Evil will not dwell with You (Tehillim 5:5), which our Sages (Shabbos 149b) interpret as implying that “no evil will dwell in Your dwelling.” Thus, iniquity has no eentry into the Inner Sanctum. For this reason, “there is no reward for mitzvos in this world” (Kiddushin 39b) because they reside in His blessed Presence; therefore, how could G-d grant a spiritual reward in a material world for mitzvos that are present before Him? Behold, the entire world is not worthwhile of a single mitzvah and the spiritual bliss of His Presence.
For the same reason, G-d does not accept mitzvos as bribes. For instance, the Holy One, Blessed is He, does not say “He has fulfilled forty commandments and committed ten transgressions; thus, the reward for thirty commandments remain, for ten are deducted for the ten transgressions!” G-d forbid! Rather, if even a perfectly righteous individual commits a single sin, it is considered to Him as if he has burned the Torah scroll – until he appeases Hashem for his guilt, after which he will receive reward for all of his mitzvos. This is a great kindness that the Holy One, Blessed is He, does for the righteous. He does not deduct from their mitzvos, for mitzvos are very precious and ascend until they come before His blessed Presence – so, how, then, can transgressions be deducted from them? Punishment for transgressions is a portion of that which is most shameful –Gehinom — while the reward for mitzvos is from that which is so precious, the radiance of the Shechinah. So, how, then, can He deduct one from the other? Rather, the Holy One, Blessed is He, collects the debt due for transgressions and then He pays the reward due for all the mitzvohs. This is the attribute of “suppressing iniquity” meaning that transgressions do not prevail before Him as the commandments do. Rather, He suppresses them, preventing them from ascending and entering His Presence. Although He observes all the ways of man, both bad and good, nevertheless, He does not suppress the good. Rather, it blossoms and rises up, merging with other mitzvos to build a spiritual edifice and form a precious garment. Transgressions don’t have this characteristic – rather, He suppresses them, so they will have no such success and no entry into the Inner Sanctum.
A person should also conduct himself according to this attribute; he should not suppress his fellow’s favor and remember the evil or harm he has done to him. On the contrary, he should suppress the evil, erasing it from his memory and abandoning it, so that no evil will dwell with him, and his favor should be constantly arranged before him. One should always remember the favor of his fellow, allowing it to prevail over all the evil actions he has done to him. He should not subtract from the favor he has done to him in his heart, and say, “Although he did me a favor, he also did me harm,” thereby forgetting the favor. One should not do this! Rather, he should allow himself to be appeased in every possible way regarding the harm, and never overlook the favor. He should turn a blind eye to the harm he has done to him as much as possible, just as the Holy One, Blessed is He, does in suppressing our iniquities, as I have explained above.
And You will cast into the depths of the sea all of their sins
This is an especially good attribute of the Holy One, Blessed is He, For when Bnei Yisroel sinned, He delivered them into the hands of Pharoah and they repented. If so, why should He punish Pharoah, or Sancheriv, or Haman and others like them? Yet the Holy One, Blessed is He, is not content with saying “They repented, so no further evil will befall them, and thus, Haman, Pharoah or Sancheriv will be removed from them.” This is not sufficient; rather, the wickedness of Haman reverts onto his own head, and so too, with Pharoah and Sancheriv.
The reason for this conduct lies in the essence of the verse pertaining to the Temple service on Yom Kippur, where two identical goats were brought, one was sacrificed on the altar, and the other sent to Azazel – pushed down a rugged mountain. “The goat that was sent to Azazel will carry all their sins, to the desolate land” (Vayikra 16:22); meaning that the goat actually bears the punishment for their sins! Now, this is very difficult to understand, for it Bei Yisroel sinned, why should the goat bear their sins? However, the reason for this conduct is as follows: When a person confesses with the intention in his confession to receive a cleansing of his sins – as King David said: “Cleanse me abundantly from my iniquities” (Tehillim 51:4), and so are our words in prayer, “Cleanse my sin with Your great compassion” – he only prays that his afflictions be light so that they will not interrupt his Torah study. As we say in our prayers: “…but not by way of severe afflictions.” This is also the intention when one states, “You are righteous with regard to all that befalls me,” – he actually accepts willingly upon himself afflictions in order that he be vindicated for his sins, for there are sins that can be cleansed only by means of afflictions or death. This is the conduct; immediately when one confesses in prayer, the Holy One, Blessed is He, decrees some sort of affliction upon him for his sins. As the Zohar in Parshas Pikudei (pg 262b) explains, this is the portion of the Satan as portrayed by the ‘goat’ that was sent to Azazel. What is actually his portion? That the Holy One Blessed is He, decrees on him (that is the one who sinned and afterward repented and confessed) afflictions, and then instantly Satan comes by there, and collects his due. And behold, the ‘goat carries the sins,’ meaning that the Holy One Blessed is He, gives him permission to collect his due, and through this, the Bnei Yisroel become cleansed. But, eventually, everything will revert back to Satan. The reason for this is that the holy One, Blessed is He, decreed upon His world that all who do this – bring suffering upon Bnei Yisroel—should be nullified. That is why G-d decreed, “The animal which was involved in human transgression resulting in man’s execution must be killed” (Vayikra 20:15). Similarly, the stones used to carry out the sentence of those condemned to death by stoning and the sword used to carry out the sentence of decapitation must be buried (Sanhedrin 46b) in order to nullify their existence and power after they have been used to carry out the judgment.
Behold, this is actually the essence of the statue of Nevuchadneetzar which he saw in his dream (Daniel 2:32-34): When Bnei Yisroel were given over into the hand of the Babylonian king symbolized by “a head of gold,” this same “head” was eventually subjugated and given over into the hands of Persia, symbolized by “a silver chest and arms,” who was, in turn, expelled by another nation, and so on, until Bnei Yisroel descended to the fourth Kingdom of Edom and Yishmael, symbolized by “legs of iron and clay.” And what will be the final good ending? Eventually the Holy One, Blessed is He, will uplift them (the Bnei Yisroel), and execute justice upon them (those kingdoms). As it is written: “I will use up My arrows against them” (Devarim 32:23), meaning that the arrows will be used up but the Bnei Yisroel will not be annihilated (Sota 9a). “And then the parts of iron, clay, brass, silver and gold will be crushed together” (Daniel 2:32). First, it is written, “And he smote the idol to its legs” (Ibid 2:34), implying that there was nothing left of the idol but its legs; for they had lost all their power symbolized by the way the head, arms and torso were removed. Nevertheless, in the end as it is written “Together they will be crushed” (ibid 2:35), for in the future the Holy One Blessed is He will indict Satan and the wicked who carry out his deeds and actions, and He will visit justice upon them. This is the meaning of the verse (Micha 7:19) “and You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea”, implying that He will cast the power of judgment, to be executed upon those are likened to the depths of the sea (as the verse states). (Yeshayah 57:20): “The wicked are like the spewing sea, for it cannot rest, and its waters spew mud and mire”. This refers to those who execute judgment on Bnei Yisroel: He will return their evil deeds upon their own heads. The reason for this is, for after Bnei Yisroel receives their judgment, the Holy One, Blessed is he, reconsiders even the initial punishment, and exacts retribution for their insult and suffering. And furthermore, “I was angered only a little, and the nations of the world helped to do more evil than required” (Zechariah 1:15).
This, too, is an attribute that man should use in his behavior toward his fellow. Even if the latter is wicked and crushed through afflictions, do not hate him, for ‘after having been whipped, he is like your brother’ (Makkos 23a). Befriend the rebellious and those who have been punished and have mercy on them. And on the contrary, save them from their enemies, and don’t say – “His own sin caused his suffering.” Rather, have mercy on them in accordance with this attribute, as I have explained above.
Grant truth to Yaakov
This attribute, represents a quality of Bnei Yisroel, even those individuals of average spiritual stature, who do not know how to go beyond what the Law requires, and are called “Yaakov” (not Yisroel which refers to a higher level), because they conduct themselves solely with the conduct of truth. So too, the Holy One, Blessed is He, possesses the quality of truth, with regard to the reality of the judgment of uprightness. And to those who conduct themselves in this world with uprightness, the Holy One, Blessed is He also conducts Himself toward them with this quality of truth, having mercy on them in a way that is upright and just.
So, too, a person should act towards his fellow in a way that is upright and true, never perverting the justice of his friend. He should have true mercy on him, just as the Holy One, Blessed is He, has mercy on His creatures of average stature, according to this quality of truthfulness, in order to perfect them.
Kindness to Avraham
Those who conduct themselves in this world beyond the requirements of the Law, like Avraham or Patriarch – the Holy One, blessed is He, also conducts Himself towards them in a way that goes beyond the requirements of the Law. That is, He does not deal with them according to the strict letter of the law, not even according to the path of uprightness. Rather, He goes with them beyond the attribute of uprightness, just as they conduct themselves. This is the attribute of ‘kindness to Avraham’: the Holy One, Blessed is He, acts with the attribute of kindness towards those who conduct themselves like Avraham.
So too, man: Although he conducts himself with righteousness, uprightness and justice towards all men, towards those who are particularly good and pious, his conduct should go beyond the requirements of the Law. If towards other people he is a bit tolerant, with these pious men he should be much more so. He should have mercy on them, going with them beyond the requirement of the Law in which he conducts himself towards others. They should be exceedingly precious to him and beloved, and they should be counted among his friends.
As You have sworn to our forefathers
Some people are unworthy, yet the Holy One, Blessed is He, has mercy on all of them. The Talmud (Berachos 7a) explains the verse “I shall show favor to whom I choose to show favor” (Shemos 33:19) – The Holy One, Blesed is He, says, “this storehouse is for those who are unworthy” (this means that there is a storehouse of grace, from which the Holy One, Blessed is He, shows favor and grants them an unearned gift. For the Holy One, Blessed is He, says “Behold, they have the merit of the Patriarchs. I made an oath to the Patriarchs, so even if they are unworthy, they will merit, because they are offspring of the Patriarchs, to whom I swore. Therefore, I will lead them and guide them until they are perfected.”
Man should also behave in this same manner. Even if he encounters wicked people, he should not behave cruelly towards them or taunt them and so on. Rather, he should have mercy on them, and say “Ultimately, thay are the children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. Thought hey may not be righteous, their forefathers were righteous and worthy. Hence one who despises the sons despises the fathers too. I do not wish their fathers to be despised because of me!” Thus he should conceal their disgrace and help to improve them, as much as is in his power.
From days of old
Behold, this is an attribute with which the Holy One, Blessed is He has conducted Himself towards Bnei Yisroel. When the merit of the Patriarchs and all other merits are exhausted, what can He do for them when behold they themselves are unworthy? He does as it is written, “I recall for your sake, the kindness of your youth, the love of your bridal days, how you followed Me in the wilderness, in an unsown land” (Yirmiyah 2:2). The Holy One, Blessed is He, actually recalls the olden days and the previous love He had then towards the people of Israel, and He has mercy on Bnei Yisroel. With this, He remembers all the mitzvos they have fulfilled since their birth as a nation, and all the favors and good qualities with which the Holy One, Blessed is He, conducts HI s world. From all these, He fashions something especially auspicious with which to be merciful for their sake. Behold, this attribute encompasses all the others, as explained in the Idra (Zohar Naso 134b).
Similarly, man should perfect his conduct towards other people. Even if he cannot find a reason for loving and having mercy on his fellows from amongst those already mentioned, he should say, “There was surely a previous time when they had not yet sinned, and in that time or in their days of old they were righteous.” For their sake, he should recall the good which they did in their youth, and recall for their sake the love of infants who have just been weaned from their mother. This way, he will not find a single person unworthy of benefiting him, praying for his well-being and having mercy on him.
This completes our explanation of the Thirteen Attributes in which a person should emulate his Creator. These are the Supernal Attributes of Mercy, and their quality is, that just as a person conducts himself in this world below, so will he be worthy of opening up the channel of the same Supernal Attribute Above. Exactly according to his conduct, so will he bestow above in the Supernal World the same and he will cause that Supernal attribute to shine here in this world.
For this reason, one should not divert his mind from these Thirteen Attributes or allow these verse to depart from his mouth; so that he should remember them when a situation arises requiring the use of one of these attributes. He should then remind himself and say: “Behold, this action which is required in this situation is contingent on this particular attribute. I will not budge from it, lest this attribute become concealed or disappear from the world.”
Additionally, for a person to emulate his Creator according to the essence of the attribute of keser, he must possess several mail functions, which are the main conduct of this attribute.
The first and most encompassing, is the trait of humility. It is contingent on the attribute of keser, for it is the most sublime of all the attributes; nevertheless, it does not exalt itself or hold itself in esteem. On the contrary, it always descends, gazing downwards. There are two reasons for this: One reason is that it is ashamed to gaze at its Cause; instead, He from Whom keser emanates watches over it at all times in order to benefit it, while it gazes at those below. Similarly, man should be ashamed to gaze upward in order to hold himself aloof. Rather, he should always lower his gaze, and minimize his self-worth as much as possible. This quality is contingent mainly on the head – for a person holds himself aloof by raising his head upwards, whereas a humble person lowers his head.
Secondly, behold there is none so tolerant and humble as our G-d in His attribute of keser, for His mercy is absolute, and no flaw, transgression or strict judgment enters His sphere. Nor can any other trait prevent Him from watching over man and bestowing bounty upon him constantly. So, too, man should conduct himself in this way; no factor in the world should prevent him from benefiting others, and no transgressions or misdeeds of unworthy people should prevent him from benefiting at every available opportunity all those in need. And just as G-d sits and nourishes all creatures, from the horns of re’eimim (the largest creature) to the eggs of lice (the smallest creature), not disdaining any of them – for if He disdained any creature because of its insignificance, it could not exist for even a moment; rather, He watches over them and grants mercy to all; so, too man should benefit all, not disdaining any creature. Even the lowliest beings should be very important in his eyes, he should show concern for them, and benefit all who require his benefit. This attribute, generally is contingent on the attribute of keser – the essence of the Supernal head.
The second – One’s thoughts should emulate the thought process of keser. Just as the chochmah of keser never stops thinking good thoughts, and it allows no evil to enter in it because it is absolute compassion, with no severity or harshness found there at all; so too a person’s thoughts should always be void of anything unseemly. And just as it is the essence of chochmah of the Primal Torah where all the secrets of Torah are contained; so, too one should not pay attention to anything other than the thought of Torah or to meditate on the greatness of G-d and His beneficial acts or contemplate how to benefit others or other similar good thoughts. As a rule, no foreign or irrelevant thoughts should enter one’s mind. Such was the elevated level of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his comrades, and when Rabbi Yose’s thoughts once strayed a little from the Torah, note how Rabbi Shimon rebuked him, as related in the Zohar on Parshas VaYakhel (pg 217b).
The third – One’s forehead (,etzach) should not contain any harshness. Rather, one should constantly emulate the Supernal metzach of Willingness, and appease all. Even when he finds people angry at one another, he should appease and pacify them with his good will, for the Supernal metzach of Willingness constantly placates strict judgment and rectifies them. He, too, should appease those intense people who intensify their anger. He should guide them with good will, and compliment this with his great wisdom, to nullify their anger, lest it overstep its boundaries and cause damage, G-d forbid. One should follow the example of the Divine Will, which derives from the wondrous chochman found in the metzach of Atik, whence all strict judgments are appeased. This quality derives from being constantly pleasant towards people, for if his traits are in any aspect harsh towards others, they will not be placated by him. This is the meaning of the Mishnah (Avos 3:13): “Anyone who the spirit of people is pleased with him, the spirit of the Omnipresent is also pleased with him.”
The fourth – One’s ears should always turn to hear good, while false or despicable reports should not enter them at all. Just as in the essence of Supernal “Listening”, any cry for strict judgment or any blemish of evil gossip does not enter there; so, too, one should not listen to anything other than good or of practical use. To other things, which intensify anger, he should not listen at all. And just as the words and speech of the Serpent have no entry Above, so too, no despicable thing should have any entry in him (in his ears). This is the meaning of the phrase “You shall not accept a false report” (Shemos 23:1). How much more so does this apply to other despicable things, which should not enter one’s ears at all; and he should only be listening to good things.
The fifth – One’s eyes should not gaze at all at anything despicable. Rather, they should always be open to watch over unfortunates and have as much mercy on them as possible. And when he sees the suffering of the poor, he should not close his eyes at all. Rather, he should give as much thought to their predicament as possible, arousing the mercy of both Heaven and man upon them. He should distance himself from noticing evil, just like the Supernal ‘Eye’, which is open and forever sees only good.
The sixth – Regarding the nose, a breath of wrath should never be found in it. Rather, it should constantly contain the breath of life, good will and patience, even toward those who are unworthy. One should always want to fulfill the desire of others, to satisfy every request, and to revive the broken-spirited. He should always breath forth from his nose, forgiveness of iniquity and pardon of transgression. He should not be angry with those who offend him; rather, he should constantly be willing to be appeased, and he should be desirous of kindness, pleasing everyone.
The seventh – One’s face should always shine, and he should receive all people with a cheerful countenance. For regarding the Supernal keser, it says, “In the light of the King’s countenance is life…” (Mishlei 16:15). And just as no flush of anger or strict judgment enters there at all; so too, the light of his countenance should be unchanging, and all who look into his face should find nothing but joy and cheerfulness. No factor should distract him from this at all.
The eighth – One’s mouth should express nothing but good, and the content of his words should be Torah and constant expression of good will. NO despicable words, curses, rage, anger or frivolous talk should escape his mouth. Rather, it should resemble the Supernal ‘Mouth” which is never sealed and never refrains from speaking good at all times. Therefore, one must not silence himself from speaking well of everyone, expressing good words and blessings constantly.
These then are eight good qualities, all of which come under the banner of humility. They all correspond Above to the Supernal ‘Limbs’ of keser. Thus, when a person desires to draw near to the Supernal Worlds and emulate G-d, in order to open His sources to those below, he must be fully perfected in that which was discussed in these two chapters.
However, we know that it is not always possible to conduct oneself in accordance with these qualities, since there are other qualities one must master, which are from the lower strict judgments, as we will explain. Nevertheless, on certain days, these strict judgments are inactive and man does not need to make use of them –for the Supernal attribute of keser reigns or because these are times that the Supernal attribute of keser is sought. At these times, one must use all the qualities we have mentioned above. But other attributes pertaining to strict judgment – even thought hey are required in Divine service at their proper time – should not be exercised in these times, for the light of keser nullifies them. For example, one should not make use of these harsh attributes on Shabbos, when the world is perfected with the essence of delight and therefore there is no judgment on Shabbos. On this day, one should utilize all of these qualities mentioned above in order to open the Heavenly sources of blessing. For if one concentrates on the lights of keser in his prayers, yet he behaves contrary to them with his actions, how can he open the sources of keser while he literally repels them with his deeds? Is it not all the more so, that if keser does not reside when the Supernal sefiros intensify sacred strict judgment and sacred anger, then keser and its light will surely not rest upon a person who allows the external anger to prevail, even though he does so for the sake of Heaven. This is particularly true since he intends to arouse it (the external anger) over the Supernal attributes, and they will then say, “How much audacity does he have! The light of keser is not revealed in us, because of our judgments that are holy and pure, yet this person desires to reveal it, when he is filled with anger and despicable superficial actions!”
Thus, on festivals, Shabbos and Yom Kippur, and at times of prayer and Torah study – which are not times of strict judgment, but rather on the contrary, are times when the Supernal Will is revealed, man should direct his mind to all these qualities. At other times, he may utilize the remaining attributes in his Divine service, but not despicable ones, for whenever they are in control, it is to man’s disadvantage, as will be explained. Then, when he utilizes these qualities of keser, he will be prepared and assured that the heavenly sources of blessing will open.
Therefore, every person must accustom himself with these qualities little by little. The main quality he should grasp, the key to them all, is humility – for it is the highest of them all and the foremost aspect of keser, with all the other aspects included in it.
Now, the primary aspect of humility is that one should not find himself worthy at all. Rather he should consider himself like nothing – as Moshe, the humble one, said: “What are we worth that you should complain against us?” (Shemos 16:7) – to the extent that he deems himself in his own eyes as the lowliest of all creatures, exceedingly shameful and loathsome. When a person constantly strives to acquire this quality, all the other qualities of keser will be drawn after it, for the primary quality of keser is to view itself as nothing before the One from Whom it emanates. Likewise, a person should consider himself nothing at all, thinking that his absence would much be better than his existence. Consequently, he will act towards those who despise him as if they are correct and he is the despicable one who is at fault. This will be a means of acquiring all the other good qualities.
I have found a remedy whereby a person can accustom himself to these things little by little , possibly curing himself of the disease of haughtiness and allowing himself to enter the gates of humility. This cure is composed of three ‘potions’:
The first – One should accustom himself to fell as far as possible from honor. For if he accustoms himself to be honored by other people, he will acquire the habit of haughtiness, and by nature he will always desire this. Then, only with great difficulty, will he be able to be healed.
The second – One should accustom his mind to see his shameful side, saying to himself, “Although other people don’t know of my lack of worth, what of it? Aren’t I aware of myself, that I am shameful in such and such a way, whether in lack of knowledge, or in the weakness of my abilities, or in my lowliness by the way I excrete the food I eat, and so on?” until he becomes shameful and despicable in his own eyes.
The third – One should constantly contemplate his sins and desire purification, rebuke and suffering, and ask himself, “Which type of suffering is the best in this world which will not distract me from Divine service? Surely there is none better than these – to be scorned, shamed and cursed,” for these will not deprive him of his power and strength through illness, nor will they deprive him of his food and clothing, or deprive him of his life, or the lives of his children through death. Being so, a person should actually desire these forms of suffering and say to himself “Why should I fast and torment myself with sackcloth and lashes, which weaken my power and ability to serve G-d, and do this to myself with my own hands? It is far better for me to be afflicted with being shamed and scorned by other people, which do not remove my power or weaken me.” Thus, when insults are meted out to him, he will rejoice in them, and contrary to the typical reaction, he will desire them. From these three potions, one should make a balm for his heart, and he should train himself with this approach all his days.
I have found another excellent potion, although this potion is not as effective as the aforementioned remedy. This is – that a person should accustom himself to two things:
The first – is to respect all creatures, after recognizing in them the superiority of the Creator, Who formed man with His wisdom and that all creatures contain in them the wisdom of the Creator. He himself should realize that they (all creatures) are greatly precious, since He Who fashioned all things – the Wise and Superior Above All – has involved Himself with creating them, and if one despises them, G-d forbid, it affects the honor of their Creator. This is comparable to a wise craftsman who makes a vessel with great wisdom, and when he displays his work to people, one of them begins to disgrace and despise it. How angry will that craftsman be, since, by despising the work of his hands, one is despising his very wisdom. So too the Holy One Blessed Be He, is grieved of one despises any of His creatures. This is the meaning of the verse that is written, “How great are Your works, Hashem.” (Tehillim 104:24) – King David did not say “how magnificent” (mah gadlu), but rather “how great” (mah rabbu), suggesting great importance as in the phrase “rav beiso” (Esther 1:8), meaning – the very important people of the house. The verse continues, “You have made them all with wisdom.” Thus, since Your Wisdom was involved in creating them, Your works are great and magnificent, and it is proper for man to perceive wisdom in them and not despise them.
The second — One should accustom himself to love his fellow men in his heart – even the wicked, as if they were his brothers. Moreover, he should pursue this quality until love for all people is fixed in his heart. He should even love the wicked in his heart, saying, “I only wish they were righteous, returning in repentance, so that all of them would be great men desired by the Omnipresent.” As Moshe, the faithful lover of all Bnei Yisroel said: “If only all the people of G-d were prophets” (Bamidbar 11:49). And how should he love them? By recalling in his thoughts the good qualities that are present in them, concealing their flaws, and refusing to see their defects; rather, he should look only for the good qualities in them. He should say in his heart: “If this poor, loathsome fellow were very rich, how much would I delight in his company as I delight in the company of so-and-so. If he were dressed in handsome garments like so-and-so, there would be no difference between them. If so, why should he lack honor in my eyes, being that in G-d’s eyes he is more important than me, since he is plagues and crushed with poverty and suffering and therefore cleansed of sin? Why then, should I hate he whom the Holy One, Blessed is He, loves?” In this way, his heart will turn toward the positive aspect of people and he will accustom himself to ponder all the good qualities that we have mentioned.
How a person should accustom himself with the attribute of chochmah (wisdom)
Although it is hidden and exceedingly exalted, the Supernal attribute of chochmah is spread out over all that exists. As it says regarding it, “How great are Your works, Hashem; You have made them all with chochmah” (Tehillim 104:24). Similarly, a person’s chochmah should be found in everything, and he should teach in order to benefit other people with his chochman – each and everyone according to his capacity. He should influence others with his chochmah to the best of his ability – letting no factor at all distract him.
Now to the Supernal attribute of chochmah, there are two aspects; The higher aspect – which faces keser and does not face downwards; rather, it receives from above. The second and lower aspect – faces downwards, overseeing the other sefiros, to which it extends it’s chochmah. Likewise a person should have two aspects: The first aspect should be his contemplation in solitude with his Creator in order to increase and perfect his chochmah; the second should be to teach others the chochmah that the Holy One, Blessed is He, has bestowed upon him. And just as the Supernal attribute of chochmah bestows to each sefirah according to its measure and needs, so, too, one should bestow his chochmah to each person according to the measure his intellect can bear, and to what is proper for him and his needs. One should be careful not to give more than the mind of the recipient can contain, so that no harm will result, just as the Supernal sefirah of chochmah does not add on more than the limited capacity of the recipient (sefirah).
Moreover, it is the nature of chochmah to oversee all of existence, for it is the Supernal Thought which forever thinks about everything that exists. Of chochmah it is said: “For My thoughts are not like your thoughts” (Yeshaya 55:8), and it is written “He gives thought so that he who is exiled is not banished forever” (Shmuel B 14:14), and it is written “For I know the thoughts which I think of you the House of Israel, says the L-rd are thoughts of peace and not evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Yermiyah 29:11). Likewise, man should keep an open eye on the conduct of the Nation of G-d in order to help them. His thoughts should be concerned with bringing near those who have strayed, and with thinking of any good he can do for them. Just as the Divine Mind contemplates how to help all existence, he, too, should contemplate how to help his fellows. He should give good counsel for the sake of G-d and His nation, regarding both individual and communal matters. And concerning one who has strayed from the path of good conduct, he should guide him to the path of proper conduct, serving as his intellect and thought, to direct and lead him to good and upright behavior, just as the Supernal Thought corrects “Adam HaElyon” (the Heavenly form of man).
Furthermore, chochmah instills life into everything. As it is written: “And chochmah instills life into those who possess it” (Koheles 7:12). Likewise, one should instruct the entire world in the ways of life, causing them to attain life in this world and in the World to Come, thus providing them with true life. In general, one should be a constant source of life to all.
In addition, chochmah is the ‘father’ of all existence. As it is written: “How great are Your works, Hashem: You have made them all with chochmah” (Tehillim 104:24). Thus, everything lives and exists from there (from that source). Likewise, one should act as a father to all of the Holy One, Blessed is He’s creatures, particularly to the Bnei Yisroel, for they are holy souls which emanate from there. He should constantly pray for mercy and blessing for the world, the same say that the Supernal ‘Father’ has mercy on all His beings. And he should constantly pray for the salvation of those who are in distress, as if they were actually his own children and he himself had formed them, for this is what the Holy One, Blessed is He, desires. As in the way the faithful shepherd Moshe said: “Did I conceive this nation…that You say to me, ‘Carry it in your bosom’?” (Bamidbar 11:12). In this way, a person should carry all of G-d’s nation as a nurse carries a nursing infant. He should gather the lambs in his arm, lifting them to his bosom, and lead the young nursing ones. He should remember to recover the forgotten, look after the desolate, heal the broken, nourish the incapacitated, and return the lost. One should have mercy on Bnei Yisroel, bearing its burdens cheerfully, just as the Merciful Supernal Father bears all. One should not tire or look away or get disgusted; rather, he should lead each and every one according to his needs. These are the qualities of chochmah – to be like a merciful father toward his children.
Furthermore, one’s compassion should extend to all creatures and he should neither despise nor destroy them, for the Supernal chochmah spreads over all of creation: inanimate objects, plants, animals and humans. For this reason, we are warned by our Sages against treating food disrespectfully. This is a proper concept, for just as the Supernal chochmah does not despise anything that exists, since everything is created from it – as it is written, “You have made them all with chochmah” (Tehillim 104:24), so, too, a person’s compassion should be upon all the creations of the Blessed One. For this reason, Rabbi Yehudah “the Holy One” was punished, because he did not have pity on a calf that hid by him under his cloak, in order to evade slaughter, and he said to it, “Go! You were created for this purpose,” (Bava Metzia 85a). Suffering – which derives from the aspect of strict judgment – came upon him. For only compassion shields against strict judgment. Thus, when he had mercy on a weasel, and said “His compassion is upon all His creations” (Tehillim 145:9), he was delivered from strict judgment, for the light of chochmah spread over him, and his suffering was removed.
Similarly, one should not disparage any creature that exists, for all of them were created with chochmah. Nor should one uproot plants or kill animals unless they are needed. And one should choose a noble death for them, using a carefully inspected sharp knife, in order to be merciful as much as possible.
This is the general principle: Having pity on all beings not to hurt them, is contingent on chochmah. Except, when elevating them to a higher level – from plant to animal, or from animal to human – then it is permissible to uproot a plant or slaughter a live animal, causing damage in order to bring merit.
How a person should accustom himself with the attribute of binah (understanding)
This means to return in repentance, for there is nothing as important as it, in that it rectifies every flaw. And just as it is the nature of the Supernal attribute of binah to sweeten all strict judgments and neutralize their bitterness, so, too, one should repent and rectify all flaws. One who ponders thoughts of repentance all the days of his life, causes the attribute of binah to be illuminated all his days, the result being that all his days are days of repentance. That is, he merges himself with binah, which is repentance, so that all the days of his life are crowned with the essence of ‘Supernal repentance.’
Consider: that just like ‘Repentance’ involves the returning of all beings to their roots, according to the essence of the Yovel-Jubilee, when all land is returned to its original owner; in addition, the root of the external forces, which lies in the essence of the Supernal ‘river of dinur’, is really embedded in holiness in the essence of Gevuros, being rooted there and spreading out until it evolves into being called ‘The outflow of Divine wrath’ delivering punishment. And in the essence of the verse “Hashem smelled the pleasing aroma of Noah’s sacrifices” (Bereishis 8:21), that ‘outflow’ returns to its source and the strict judgment becomes sweetened, the wrath is quelled, and G-d reconsiders the unfavorable judgments. Likewise, by means of the essence of his repentance, man also achieves this essence. Therefore, one should not say that repentance benefits only the aspects of holiness in man. Rather, the evil aspects in him are rectified as well, just as the strict judgments are sweetened by this attribute. A proof to this is: Kayin himself was evil and was a derivative of the evil serpent, yet he was told, “If you better yourself, you will be uplifted…” (Bereishis 4:7), meaning: Do not think that because you stem from the evil side, there is no chance for your rectification. This is false! “For if you better yourself”, implanting yourself into the essence of repentance, “you will be uplifted” – you can leave the side of evil and enter into the essence of good which is implanted there.” For every Supernal bitterness has a sweet root, enabling it by way of its root to better itself. Thus, the evil actions themselves are transformed by man into good and his deliberate transgressions become transformed into merits. For, these very same evil actions which he committed that served as prosecutors which are from the ‘left Side’ – when he returns in complete repentance, he bring sin and implants those deeds above. And all those prosecutors, rather than becoming nullified, are transformed into good and become rooted in holiness, just as Kayin could have done. For, had Kayin repented, thereby becoming rectified, then Adam’s sin, in which Kayin was conceived – the name Kayin deriving from the words kina demisavusa – contaminated nest- would have been considered as a credit to him, according to the essence of, “A son brings merit to his father” (Sanhedrin 104a). However, he did not desire to repent, and therefore the entire ‘left side’ of evil derives from him, though all its branches will eventually become sweetened; they will return and become sweetened. The reason for this is precisely as we have explained – a person can take the evil within himself and implant it into the essence of it which is sweet sweetening it and transforming it into the aspect of good. Therefore, when a person purifies his evil inclination and transforms it into good, he becomes rooted Above in holiness.
This is the elevated level of repentance with which a person should conduct himself. Every day he should contemplate this and repent in some way so that all his days will be spent in repentance.
How a person should accustom himself with the attribute of chesed (kindness)
The primary way to enter into the essence of chesed is to love G-d so absolutely that he will never forsake His service for any reason; for, compared with His love, blessed is He, nothing else is considered loved by him. Therefore, he should first prepare the requirements of his Divine service; then, the remainder may be used for other needs. This love should be fixed firmly in his heart, whether he receives benefits from the Holy One, Blessed is He, or suffering and chastisement – both should be considered as expressions of G-d’s love for him. As it is written, “Faithful are the wounds inflicted by a loving friend…” (Mishlei 27:6). Furthermore, it is written,”Uv’chol m’od – and with all your Miod (Devarim 6:5), which our sages interpret as meaning “b’chol m’od u’middah – with whatever measure He metes out to you” (Berachos 54a), thereby including all attributes in the attribute of chesed. Thus, although the essence of Divine conduct which stems from the attribute of malchus (sovereignty) produces strict judgment, it is bound with chesed. Such was the way of Nachum Ish Gamzu, who would always say: “This, too, is for the good!” He always sought to bind it (malchus) to the aspect of chesed, which is called ‘good’ so he would say that even wheat appeared to be on the ‘left’- bound with gevurah (strictness), was in reality only for good – bound with chesed. This way, he would concentrate on the good aspect of that attribute of malchus, concealing its strict judgment. This is a great mode of conduct, to be bound forever with chesed.
In the Tikkunim (intro.) they explain: “Who is a chasid (literally a pious person)? One who does chesed toward his Creator!” For the granting of chesed (charitable deeds) that man does in this world, should be done having in mind the parallel Supernal rectification of the attribute of chesed – which is considered “granting chesed toward his Creator.”
Now, it is necessary to know what are the types of charitable deeds practiced among men, so that the parallel can be done with one’s Creator Above, if one wants to acquire the attribute of chesed. Therefore, we will state that the various types of charitable deeds are the following:
FIRST – At the moment of a child’s birth, one must provide him with all the necessities for his sustenance. Thus, he should have in mind that this is a time of the birth of tiferes from binah. And if her ‘labor is difficult’ because of the aspect of strict judgment, G-d forbid, tiferes will emerge toward the aspect of gevurah, and its birth will be difficult. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare there whatever possible, so that the birth of tiferes will be according to the aspect of “right” (symbolizing chesed), and the child will be born without any blemish at all. As we pray in the Rosh HaShana prayer: “And release our judgment clear as light – Awesome Holy One.” That is to say, we pray that tiferes which signifies judgment, should emerge toward the aspect of light, which is the ‘right,’ and will thus be sanctified and separated from strict judgments. Included in the above, is one’s intention in his deeds to constantly bind tiferes to chesed, and extract it from binah toward the side of chesed. Then the ‘infant’ will emerge strong and cleansed of spiritual imperfections. Almost all the prohibitions of the torah are included in this idea – so as not to arouse gevuros to cause overpowering judgment, thus making the birth of tiferes difficult, G-d forbid.
SECOND – To circumcise the child, meaning, to do the parallel with the Creator Above, that is all the perfections of this commandment, by circumcising (removing) every aspect of kelipah (‘shell’ of impurity) for ‘foreskin’ that attaches itself to yesod. One should pursue all those who cause foreskin to be there, and bring them back in repentance in such a way, that by circumcising the foreskins of their hearts, he causes the Supernal Tzaddik to be without any foreskin. He must maintain a firm stance in rectifying everything which causes the foreskin to be there. For this reason, by circumcising the foreskin of the Jewish people, Pinchas became worthy of priesthood, for he did chesed with his Creator according to the essence of the circumcision – by removing the foreskin from yesod, thus becoming worthy of the quality of chesed attaining priesthood. From this, one can learn how to do the parallel with his Creator Above regarding all the other qualities of chesed.
THIRD – To visit the ill and heal them. It is known, the Shechinah is lovesick for yichud (unification) with Hashem. As it is written, “for bereft of Your presence I am sick with love” (Shir HaShirim 2:5). And Her cure is iin the hands of man, who is able to bring her pleasant remedies. As it is written, “Sustain me with glass bottles of wine (ashishos), spread fragrant apples about me…” (ibid). The Tikkunim (Tikkun 19) explains this verse that the essence of the word ashishos alluses to everythiing that binds the attribute of malchus.. The word ashisos can be interpreted to mean the plural of Ish referring to a man who represents chesed. And referring to a woman who represents gevurah, which are the ‘two arms’ uon which She (the Shechina) supports Herself. Thus, one who does this awakens the attributes of chesed and gevurah, supports the one who is sick (the Shechinah) in Her illness. Secondly – “spread apples about me” (ibid) means to bind Her between netzach and hod, for this is Her proper resting place, being that She is white (signifying chesed) and red (signifying gevurah), like those apples whose red colors are blended with white colors from the aspect of chesed. Thus, one must visit Her, think of Her, and entreat Her to accept food and drink from the Heavenly benevolence from which She refrains Herself from accepting because She Herself became sick over the misery of Bnei Yisroel. Just as one behaves toward ill people, so must he behave toward the ‘ill’ of the Upper Worlds. For She (Shechinah) is ‘ill’, as we have just mentioned, and He (Hashem) is also ‘ill’, for He wandered from His place – the World to Come, referring to the Supernal attribute of Binah, and followed Her to Her lace in this material world. As it is written “Like a bird who wanders from her nest” – the “bird” referring to the Shechinah, “so is a man (referring to Hashem) who wanders from his place” (Mishlei 27:8). He (Hashem) waits for Her (the Shechinah) and swears that He will not return to His place until He returns Her to Her place (Zohar Satzei 178a). Thus, He, too, is ill because of our transgressions, crushed willingly because of our iniquities. The healing of both is in our hands. Therefore, it is proper to visit Them and prepare Their needs by studying Torah and performing mitzvohs.
FOURTH – Giving charity to the poor. The parallel above refers to yesod and malchus. It is explained in Tikkunim (tikkun 18) that the charity befitting them is that every day one should make sure to say “amen’ ninety times, recite Kedushah four times, utter one hundred blessings and learn from the five books of the Torah. In this same way, everyone should extract charity from tiferes for these ‘poor ones’ – each according to his ability – providing them with leket (gleanings) from all the sefiros; shikchah (forgotten sheaves), according to the essence of the Supernal ‘sheaf,’ which is binah; and pe’ah (field corners), which is from the aspect of malchus itself, being that it is the ‘corner’ in relation to the other Supernal attributes. It is written, “You shall leave them for the poor and the convert (literally stranger) (Vayikra 19:10), for even tiferes is a stranger when residing below in malchus, therefore, one must also give Him tiferes from these tikkunim (the mitzvos mentioned above.) Similarly, “ma’aser ani” (the tithe to the poor) refers to the raising up of malchus – which is called ma’aser (the tithe) to yesod, which is called ‘ani’ (a pauper). And if one binds malchus to tiferes, it is considered as if he is giving the ‘tithe’ to ‘the stranger’. Many rectifications are included in this.
FIFTH – Offering hospitality to guests. The ‘guests refers to tiferes and yesod, which should be given a resting-house in which to rest, referring to malchus. For according to the essence of exile, they are wayfarers searching for what they have lost; therefore, they must be brought there. According to the explanation in the Zohar (Vayeira 115b), this mitzvah is fulfilled by those who ‘travel and talk on the road’ – referring to those who exile themselves from their homes in order to toil in Torah. They cause ‘the guests’ to involve themselves with the needs of malchus. Similarly, all those who brng about the unification of tiferes and malchus some other way, and establish places for their Torah study, cause tiferes to lodge with malchus. This concept is explained also in the Tikkunim (intro.) It is also necessary to prepare food and drink for the ‘guests’ and accompany them on their way, meaning, that a person must bring tiferes and yesod into malchus and provide them there with “food” – similar to the verse “I came to my garden…! I have eaten My honeycomb with My hone…” (Shir HaShirim 5:1), referring to the spiritual bounty suited for the conduct of the lower worlds as it spreads forth from the sweetened aspect of gevurah. And one must also provide them with “drink” – simlar to the continuation of the above verse, “I have drunk my wine with My milk,” referring to the internal bounty from the guarded wine, and from the essence of the sweetened milk, to bind tiferes to malchus –Yaakov to Rachel, and gevurah to netzach or hod. This is the explanation given in ‘Ra’aya Mehamna’ (Zohar Vayikra 4a). And ‘escorting them’ – referring to, bringing himself and his soul there, to be together with them (tiferes and yesod) in their Supernal form, escorting them there. In addition this implies bringing the other sefiros there to be with them, giving them a proper escort. Many things are included in this rectification. In general, one should make an effort to do whatever is necessary for the mundane act, and concentrate on that to which it alludes. This way, he is sure to achieve its parallel Above, once he has become proficient in the hidden essence of the mitzvohs. It is even better to verbalize the correct alluded intent when performing the mitzvah, thereby fulfilling the verse “…to perform the mitzvos with your mouth and with our heart” (Devarim 30:14).
SIXTH – The living attending to the dead. How this relates to the worlds Above is very difficult to explain, for this is the essence of the sefiros, which conceal themselves and disappear into their sheaths above. How necessary it is to rectify and cleanse them from all disease of sin and to clothe them in white – which refers to the purification of the sefiros in the light of good deeds – elevating them to the essence of ‘Unity’, binding them above, and carrying them on the ‘shoulders’ – referring to the essence of elevation of the sefiros, one to one, until they ascend beyond the level of the ‘shoulder’, where the beginning of the arm’s connect to the body. Above this level is the essence of hidden secrets, of which we have no comprehension. During burial, one should concentrate on the essence of burial, alluded to in the verse “he (Hashem) buried him (Moshe) in the valley…(ibid 34:6), being rendered (in Tikkunim) as “with the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy” (the numerical value of gimel yud is thirteen) which flow in keser, with its aspects that face downwards, to have mercy on the lower worlds. From there, he is who is buried ascends to the upper level of Eden, which is the chochmah of keser. Understanding this concept requires much deliberation.
Seventh – Bringing a bride to the chuppah. This includes all the necessities of unification, for all prayers and spiritual unifications are the essence of bringing a bride to the chuppah. The fundamental aspect of unification lies in the essence of prayer, which includes several levels, each higher than the next: sections dealing with the sacrifices; then the verses of praise; then the prayers recited while sitting, including the Shema and its blessings beforehand and afterwards; then the Amidah-prayer and the remainder of the tikunim which follow. All these are grants of chesed to the groom and bride, in order to attend to their needs and the perfections of their union.
Eighth – Making peace between a ‘man’ and his ‘fellow’ – referring to tiferes and yesod, which sometimes become distant from one another; one must reconcile and rectify them so that they will be equal and bound together in love and affection. This is brought about through the quality of good deeds. For when yesod tends to the ‘left’ and tiferes to the ‘right’, they are then in opposition to one another until yesod is adjusted to tend to the ‘right’, like him (tiferes). And if, G-d forbid, there is any blemish of sin in the world, then there is hatred and opposition between the two of them, with no unity bound between, the sefiros at all. Similarly, the same can occur between any two sefiros, of which one is on the ‘right’ and the other on the ‘left’ – between chochmah and binah, chesed and gevurah, or netzach and hod. One should bring the attribute of peace between them so that they compliment each other. This is the meaning of “bringing peace between a man and his fellow”. The same applies regarding bringing peace between a man and his wife, which refers to applying yesod – the attribute of peace, between tiferes and malchus. Similarly, all acts of peace are considered granting chesed Above in the Supernal worlds.
How a person should accustom himself with the attribute of gevurah (strictness)
Know, that any action that arouses the yetzer hara, actually arouses powerful gevuros. Therefore, one should not stir up the yetzer hara, lest gevurah be aroused. The reason for this is as follows: Man was created with two inclinations – the yetzer tov and the yetzer hara, of which the former is chesed, and the latter, gevurah. However, the Zohar on Parshes Bereishis (49a) explains that the yetzer tov was created for the needs of the person himself, whereas the yetzer hara was created for the sake of his wife. See how sweet these words are: Tiferes – which contains the quality of chesed – tends to the ‘right’, and all its conduct is with the ‘right’, which is the yetzer tov. But the female attribute of malchus tends to the left and all its conduct is with gevurah. Consequently it is proper not to arouse the yetzer hara for one’s own benefit, lest it arouse the Supernal “man” with the attribute of gevurah and destroy the world. Thus, any attribute that a person arouses for his own sake which tends toward the aspect of gevurah and yetzer hara, creates a corresponding flaw in the Supernal “Man”. Based on this idea, one should note how disgraceful anger and the like are, for they cause harsh gevuros to prevail. Indeed the yetzer hara should be bound and tied so that it cannot arouse him to do any physical activity, neither in desiring marital relations nor in desiring money, neither for anger nor for honor in any way. However, for the sake of his wife, one should gently arouse his inclination toward sweetened gevuros, providing her, for example with clothing and a house; and he should say: “By providing my wife with clothes, I am rectifying the Shechinah,” for the Shechinah is adorned by binah which is an aspect of gevurah, since binah includes all gevuros, – yet her (binah) abundant compassion sweetens the strictness. Therefore, all household rectifications are actually rectifications of the Shechinah, which is sweetened by way of the yetzer hara (i.e. earthly inclinations), that was in fact created solely to fulfill the Will of its Creator. Therefore, man should not intend to derive from his home any sort of earthly pleasure. Rather, when his wife adorns herself in their fine home in his presence, he should contemplate the rectification of the Shechinah, which is rectified by way of the beneficial powers of gevurah from the left, whence wealth and honor derive. From this aspect, one should arouse the yetzer hara to love Her (the Shechinah). He should then concentrate on the aroused aspects of the left in order to draw Her near, according to the essence referred to in the verse “His left arm is under my head…” (Shir HaShirim 8:3), for She (the Shechina) is connected initially only from the aspect of the left. After this (as the verse continues) “…and his right arm embraces me”, he should concentrate on sweetening all those rectifications with his yetzer tov, literally rectifying Her (the Shechinah) and causing Her to rejoice by performing this mitzvah for the sake of arousing the Supernal Union. Thus, he sweetens all the gevuros and rectifies them through the right. This method applies to all types of desires deriving from the yetzer hara – they should be used mainly for the needs of the wife that G-d has chosen for him as his helpmate opposite him. Afterwards, he should redirect all of them to his service of G-d, binding them to the right.
How a person should accustom himself with the attribute of tiferes (splendor, truth)
Without a doubt, the attribute of tiferes is embodied in the toil in Torah. However, great caution is needed to avoid becoming haughty through one’s Torah learning, so not to cause great harm. For just as one holds himself aloof, likewise he causes the attribute of tiferes, which is Torah, to become aloof and withdrawn Above, G-d forbid. However, everyone who humbles himself in his Torah learning, causes tiferes to descend and lower itself to influence malchus. And below the sefirah of tiferes, there are four sefiros (netzach, hod, yesod and malchus) and of these there are three attrbutes, for netzach and hod are considered one attribute.
First – One who holds himself aloof above his students causes tiferes to hold itself aloof, too, and rise above netzcah and hod, which are called ‘students of Hashem,” meaning the students of tiferes. Thus conversely one who humbles himself and teaches his students with love causes tiferes also to lower itself to its students and influence them. Therefore, a person should be easygoing toward his students and teach them according to their ability to absorb. In his merit, tiferes will influence the students of Hashem, according to their aspect or level which is appropriate for them
Second – One who holds himself aloof with his Torah knowledge over the poor and shames him. As in the story told of Eliyahu the Prophet, who appeared to Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar as an ugly, despicable, loathsome pauper in order to test him. In his elation with his learning, he insulted the pauper. He, Eliyahu, then rebuked him (Rabbi Shimon) for his character defect, for one who holds himself aloof over the poor, causes tiferes to become aloof over yesod and not influence it. But if a sage holds himself on par with the poor, tiferes will then influence yesod. Therefore, a sage should hold the poor in high esteem and draw them closer to him. This way, Above in the Supernal World, tiferes will greatly value yesod and bind itself to it.
Third – One who holds himself aloof with his Torah knowledge over the common folk – who are the nation of Hashem in general – causes tiferes to hold itself aloof above, malchus and not influence it. Rather, a person should consider himself on par with other people, and all civilized people should be highly esteemed before him, since they are down low, corresponding to the essence of ‘Aretz’ referring to the attribute of malchus. If he calls them ‘donkeys’, G-d forbid, he casts them down to the external evil forces; as a result, he will not merit a son imbued with the light of Torah, as stated in the Gemara (Nedarim 81a). Rather, he should be easygoing with his behavior toward them – according to their manner, just as tiferes influences malchus and directs it according to her impoverished mind, for “the minds of women are weak” (Shabbos 33b), referring to the attribute of malchus – which according to the teachings of kabbalah is characterized as a woman – the receiver. Included in this conduct is not being haughty towards those who are feeble minded, who are n the category of the dust of the earth. For this reason, the earlier generations never held themselves aloof because of their Torah learning, as indicated by the incidents related in the Zohar Parshas Bereishis (intro 7a) regarding Rav Hamnua who hid his true identity in order not to benefit from any honor because of his greatness in Torah and in the incident regarding Rav Chaggai (Zohar Shlach 158a) who, when asked his name, simply answered “A Jew”, in order not to reveal his true honorable name. The Tikkunim (Tikkun 26) also tell of a venerable sage who fled when Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai sought to kiss him, lest he take ride in his Torah learning.
Furthermore, in debating words of Torah, one should accustom himself to have in mind the rectification of the shechinah, rectifying and beautifying Her for tiferes. This refers to deciding the halachah in accordance with truth. This is the meaning of ‘conflict for the sake of Heaven’, the conflict between the two opposing powers, chesed and gevurah, for the sake of Heaven –tiferes, in deciding the halachah (malchus) in accordance with it (tiferes – truth). However, one should distance himself from any controversy that departs from this path, for tiferes has no desire to have any connection to extraneous matters, even if they involve torah learning. If they are for the purpose of besting others, the end is Gehinom, g-d forbid. The only controversy that does not blemish tiferes is controversy in Torah for the sake of Heaven, for all its paths are peace, and end in love.
One who derives personal benefits from words of Torah, blemishes this attribute which is holy, and withdraws it from holiness and inserts it into the category of mundane matters. Fortunate is the portion of the one who toils in torah to delight the Most Exalted One. And the most important of all, is to purify one’s mind by scrutinizing his thoughts and examining himself in the course of debate. If he finds even a trace of impure thought, he must retract his words and always admit the truth in order that tiferes – the quality of truth, be found therein.
How a person should accustom himself with the attributes of netzach, hod, and yesod
However, regarding the rectifications of netzach and hod, some are common to both and others are unique to each one.
Now, first one should help those who study Torah and support them, whether with money or in deeds; providing them with the things they require for their learning, preparing their food and fulfilling all their desires so that they need not cease their Torah study. One should also be careful not to disparage their learning, lest they weaken in their toil in torah. Rather, he should honor and praise their good deeds so that they will hold steadfast to their service. He should provide them with the books they need for their learning and a house of study. And all similar things which strengthen and support those who toil in Torah, are contingent totally on these two attributes. Everyone should contribute according to his ability, however little or much; ultimately, all the more one does to honor the torah and strengthen it – whether verbally, physically or financially – arousing people’s hearts to Torah and inspiring them to hold steadfast to it, is all connected and rooted in these two sefiros, for they are called the holders and supporters of Torah.
Furthermore, he who toils in Torah study must learn from every person, as it is written, “From all my teachers, I have gained wisdom…” (Tehillim 119:99). For Torah knowledge cannot be complete when learned from a single teacher. Thus, by becoming a student of everyone, he becomes worthy of being a vehicle for netzach and hod, – the students of Hashem, and the one who influences him Torah is on the level of tiferes. Therefore, when he sits and learns, he merits that tiferes influences netzach and hod, and he actually attains their level. Thus, when he learns Scripture – which is from the ‘right’, he has a specific association with netzach, and when he learns Mishnah – which is from the left, he has a specific association with hod. The Talmud which includes everything for it cites proofs for the laws of the Mishanh from Scripture, is therefore a rectification of them both (netzach and hod).
How a person should accustom himself with the attribute of yesod
One must be extremely careful of the kind of speech that leads to licentious thoughts, so as not to cause wasteful emission. Needless to say, he should not use foul language; rather, he should be on guard even against pure speech that leads to licentious thoughts. This idea can be derived from the language used in the verse “Do not allow your mouth to bring sin to your flesh…” (Koheles 5:5) – a warning not to let one’s mouth utter words which cause to desecrate the holy flesh – the sign of the Holy covenant – with wasteful emissions. The verse continues: “Why should G-d become angry because of your voice?” If this voice refers to uttering obscenities, why is the expression ‘to bring sin’ used in the first part of the verse? This itself is a sin! Only, the answer is, even if the words themselves are not sinful but rather pure, if they cause licentious thoughts, one must be careful regarding them. For this reason, the verse uses the expression ‘to bring sin to your flesh…why should G-d be angry’: Meaning – since these words bring sin, even though they themselves are permissible, He is angry with the voice that utters them. For through the resulting evil act, the voice and words that caused it are then considered evil. This is the extent to which one must be careful regarding the Sign of the Covenant, not to have any licentious thoughts and not to cause wasteful emissions.
Further caution isnecessary, since yesod also corresonds to ‘the Covenant of the rainbow,’ in which the bow is arched above only to shoot arrows at the attribute of malchus – the target of the arrows. This refers to guarding the seminal drop, which shoots forth like an arrow to produce branches and bear fruit. Just as the ‘bow’ in the Supernal World is never drawn except when aimed at the aforementioned target, so too, a man should not draw his bow – that is, cause himself in any way to have an arousal – unless it is at the time of union, when his spouse is in a state of purity. Anything beyond this would cause this attribute of yesod to become flawed, G-d forbid. This requires extremely great caution, mainly in guarding oneself from licentious thoughts.
How a person shoud accustom himself with the attribute of malchus
Firstly, one should not hold himself aloof with all that he possesses. Rather, he should always consider himself as a pauper, placing himself before his Creator like the destitute, begging and pleading. Even if he is a man of wealth, he should accustom himself with this attitude, considering that none of his possessions belong to him and that he is forsaken, requiring the constant mercies of his Creator, having nothing at all besides the bread he eats. He should humble his heart and act as if he himself was a pauper, and especially at the time of prayer, for this is a wondrous, auspicious. In contrast, it is stated: “Your heart may become aloof, and you may forget Hashem your G-d” (Devarim 8:14) for external forgetfulness is common there with one who holds himself aloof. King David conducted himself very much with this attribute, saying:…”for I am alone and poor” (Tehillim 25:16) – considering himself as a pauper. Since each member of a man’s household must fend for himself before the Heavenly Court, what can anyone do for him? Of what help will even his wife and children be when he is judged before the Creator? Or when his soul departs, will they accompany him beyond the grave? What good are they to him in his time of judgment, from the entrance t his grave and beyond? Therefore, one should humble and perfect himself according to the essence of this attribute.
A second, extremely important method is explained in Sefer HaZohar (Vayakhel 198b). One should exile himself, wandering from place to place for the sake of Heven, thereby becoming a vehicle for the exiled Shechinah. He should compare himself: “Behold, I exiled myself, but I have all my implements with me. But what about the honor of the Supreme One, for the Shechinah is exiled without Her implements, for they are lacking as a result of the exile?” For this reason, he should minimize his implements as much as possible – as it is written: “make foryourself implements of exile” (Yirmiya 46:19), He should humble his heart in exile, and bind himself to Torah, then the Shechinah will be with him. He should also impose an ‘expulsion order’ upon himself, always banishing himself from the comforts of his home, just as Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his comrades banished themselves and toiled in Torah. Better still, he should trudge by foot from place to place without horse or wagon. Concerning such a person, it is stated – his hope is on Hashem, his G-d (Tehillim 146:5). As it is explained (Zohar Vayakhel 198a) the word sivro which can be read homiletically as shivro, derives from the word shever meaning breaking for he breaks his body for the honor of the Supreme One.
Another very important aspect of the attribute of malchus – which is the gateway to all of Divine service, is to fear the honored and awesome Hashem. Now, fear itself is extremely dangerous, in that it can cause a blemish and allow entry to the ‘external 9evil) forces. For if the fear is from suffering, death, or Gehinom, it is actually a fear of the external forces themselves, since all of thee functions derive from the external forces. However, the primary fear is fear of Hashem. This is achieved by pondering three (four) things: the first – since the greatness of he Who fashioned all things is over all existence; and behold, man fears the lion, the bear, the terrorist, fire and a falling ruin, which are only minor emissaries. Why then should he not fear the great King, and have the awe of His greatness resting upon his face? He should say, “How can the despicable man sin against such a great Master? For if he angered a bear, it would gobble him up, whereas, because the Holy One, Blessed is He, tolerated insult, is this a reason not to fear His awesomeness and greatness?” The second – by imagining His G-d’s constant Divine providence which observes and scrutinizes him. And, behold, a slave always fears his master when in is presence, and man is always in the presence of the Creator, Who carefully inspects all his ways. Thus, he should be afraid and terrified to be seen nullifying his commandments. The third – Since He (G-d) is the root of all souls, and all of them are rooted in His sefiros, a transgressor damages His sanctuary. Should he not fear that the King’s Sanctuary will be soiled by his evil deeds? The fourth – One should understand that his flawed deeds repel the Shechinah Above. One should fear lest he cause this great evil of diverting the King’s (Hashem’s) desire from the Queen (Shechinah). These kinds of fear set a person on the right path towards perfecting this attribute, enabling him to cleave to it.
Furthermore, a man should take upon himself with great care to do whatever possible that the Shechinah will cleave to him and not depart from him. Now, it is self understood that as long as he has not married, the Shechinah is not at all with him, since the Shechinah dwells with man mainly due to his female partner. For man stands between the two female aspects – his physical wife below in this world, who receives sustenance, clothing, and onah (marital) rights from him; and the Shechinah which rests above him, to bless him with all of these so that he will give them again and again to the wife with whom he has formed the covenant of marriage. His position corresponds to tiferes, which stands between the two female aspects of the sefiros – Imma Illa’ah (binah) which bestows to it (tiferes) all it’s needs; and Imma Tata’ah (malchus) which receives from it sustenance, clothing, and onah (marital) rights, which corresponds to chesed, din, and rachamim, as is known. But the Shechinah will not come to him unless he emulates the pattern of the Heavenly reality.
Now, at times a man separates from his wife for one of three causes: The first – She is a niddah; The second – he is engrossed in torah study and therefore separates himself from her on weekdays; the third – he goes on the road, and he guards himself from sin. At these times, the Shechinah cleaves and binds Herself to him and does not leave him, so that he is not abandoned and estranged. Rather, he is always a complete man, possessing both male and female elements. And since the Shechinah unites with him, man should be careful not to cause the Shechinah to separate from him. When he goes to on the road, he should be meticulous –thereby being rewarded- to recite the Traveler’s Prayer and hold fast to the Torah. As a result, the Shechinah, which guards his way, will constantly stand by his side. When he is engrossed in Torah study, the Shechinah also stands with him, since he is careful not to sin and is engrossed in Torah study. So, too, when his wife is niddah, the Shechinah stands by his side if he observes the laws of separation properly. Then, on the night of her purification, on Shabbos night, or on returning from his travels – each of these being the proper time for fulfilling the mitzvah of ‘marital relations’ – the Shechinah Above opens Itself to receive holy souls, so, too, one should have marital relations with his wife at these times. In this way, the Shechinah will always be with him, as explained in the Zohar Parshas Bereishis (pg. 49a). Furthermore, marital relations with his wife should take place only when the Shechinah is in Her place, that is, between the ‘two arms’ (chesed and gevurah), However, when the community is in distress (i.e. famine) and the Shechinah is not between the two arms, it is forbidden. This is the explanation given in Tikkunim of Parshas Bereishis (Tikkun 69).
One who wishes to unite with ‘the King’s daughter’ (Shechinah) so that she never separates from him, must first adorn himself with all sorts of adornments and fine garments – referring to the perfections of all the attributes we have mentioned. After perfecting himself with these perfections, he should constantly concentrate on receiving the Shechinah while studying Torah and bearing the yoke of the mitzvos – according to the essence of the meaning of “Unification.” Then, immediately, She (Shechinah) will attach Herself to him and not separate from him. But this Unification is on the condition that he purifies and sanctifies himself. And once one is pure and holy, he should contemplate on accomplishing to give Her (the Shechinah) sustenance, clothing, and onah rights, as these are the three things a man is obliged to provide his wife: 1) With all his deeds, he should bestow spiritual bounty upon Her, from the ‘right’, thereby sustaining her. 2). From the aspect of gevurah he should cover her, so that the external forces will not dominate her. Meaning, that there should be no aspect of yetzer hara in his performance of mitzvos, such as, for sake of physical pleasure or the prospect of imagined honor or similar personal benefits. For the yetzer hara is present in such a mitzvah, and She (Shechinah) flees from him, because it (yetzer hara) is considered ‘ervah’ (something of shame, literally private parts of the body.) Therefore, he must cover the ‘ervah’ and always conceal it, so that it (yetzer hara) will not dominate Her (Shechinah). How should this be done? All his deeds should be done for the sake of Heaven, without the yetzer hara having any part of it. In addition, tefillin and tzitzis are powerful shields for Her (Shechinah), preventing the external forces from dominating her, therefore he should be accustomed to wearing them. 3). He should unite Her (Shechinah) with tiferes through saying the Shema in its proper time and by establishing fixed times for Torah study. And when he sets aside a time for all these things, he should contemplate that this is “Ohah” for the Shechinah (which is considered a Supernal Woman), the King’s daughter. This idea is alluded to in the tikkunim (tikkun 6).
In the Zohar on Parshas Bereishis (11a), Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai explains the torah’s great and important advice as to how a person can be bound to the Supernal Holiness and conduct himself according to it, never becoming separated from the Supernal sefiros.
Man must act according to the time – meaning, to know which sefirah dominates at a particular time, so he can bind himself to it and carry out the rectification associated with the ruling attribute.
He starts off his explanation from man’s obligations at night – the time when man retires to bed. The ruling attribute is then ‘night’ – the attribute of malchus. He then goes to sleep. But since sleep is considered like death –when the ‘Tree of Death’ rules – what should one do? He should prepare and proceed to bind himself to the essence of Sanctity, which is also the essence of the attribute of malchus in its aspect of holiness. For this purpose, when preparing to go to bed, he should concentrate on accepting the complete yoke of the Heavenly kingdom upon himself. Upon arising at midnight, he should wash his hands from the external forces that dominate them, removing the evil spirits from his flesh. He should then recite the blessing on Torah learning and rectify the Shechinah through Torah study. About this, it is said (Mishlei 6:22), “When you lie down, it will guard you” – from the external evil forces, “and when you awaken, your talk will be with Her (the Torah)”. And She will be bound to you, and you to Her. Then his heavenly soul in Gan Eden will rise together with the Shechinah which enters there with the righteous. Tiferes will also come there to delight with the righteous, and be with him in their company, all listening to his voice (learning Torah). This way, he actually journeys together with Her (Shechinah) from a state of sleep and death to the essence of Heavenly Life, where he becomes bound to the essence of Gan Eden; and the light of tiferes, which shines upon the righteous in Gan Eden, begins to shine upon him. This is the explanation given in the Zohar on Parshas Terumah (130b).
He arises early before the morning star ascends, and also begins to come and enter the Bais HaKnesses (synagogue), binding himself to the three Patriarchs. At the entrance to the Bais HaKnesses, he recites the verse, “And I, through Your abundant kindness, come into Your house; I bow toward Your holy sanctuary in awe of You” (Tehimmim 5:8), merging himself with the essence of ‘Tiferes Adam” which comprises the attributes of chesed, gevurah and tiferes, and he enters into knesses (Yisroel), which is the attribute of malchus. He then meditates on the essence of the three Patriarchs when reciting this verse ‘with Your abundant kindness’ – corresponds to Avraham; ‘I bow toward Your holy sanctuary’ – corresponds to Yitzchak, for bowing – that is lowering one’s stature towards the attribute of judgments and allowing himself to be pushed aside by it – derives from his side (the aspect of Yitzchak). Then the time of strict judgment will be pushed aside from him, for the bounty of compassion from Above will be bestowed upon this attribute to sweeten it. “In awe of You” corresponds to Yaakov, as it is written, “How awesome is this place…” (Beresheis 28:17), Behold, he has merged himself with them with his thought, speech and action. For ‘thought’ is the mediation we mentioned; ‘speech’ is reciting the verse, and ‘action’ is coming to the Bais HaKnesses and bowing towards His sanctuary.
Before the morning prayer (Shacharis), one should stand in the Bais HaKnesses (synagogue), his mouth a wellspring flowing with prayer, unifying yesod, the source of the wellspring, that opens into the well, which is the Bais HaKnesses. And he rectifies the Shechinah by concentrating to the best of his ability in his prayers.
When he leaves there, he ascends to the essence of Torah and binds himself to it, according to the essence of the attribute of day (tiferes). He conducts himself with it (this behavior) the whole day until the afternoon hours of Mincha, when he binds himself t gevurah. For in the morning he binds himself to chesed in his prayers, during the day to tiferes with his torah learning, and towards evening to gevurah. All this is in order to bind everything with the attribute of day (tiferes) which comes to the Bais HaKnesses to become unified with the essence of gevurah – the same way he did in his morning prayer with the aspect of chesed.
Between these two prayers, he also binds the Shechinah to himself by means of his meal, with which he grants kindness to the poor woman; as Hillel the elder used to say before going to eat “I am granting kindness to my poor guest (soul). “A righteous man knows the soul of his animal” (Mishlei 12:10). This can be explained as : One’s intention in his meal should be to grant kindness to his animal soul and bind it to the essence of Mazon (literally food, referring to the numerical value of zion “nunsofeis which is aleph ‘’ lamed, hei vav yud ‘’hei ).
After he ascends to the time of mincha and has been bound to gevurah, he then waits for night, until tiferes descends to malchus. Thus, he is with Her (Malchus) at the beginning of the night, and binds himself to Her. He then enters the Bais HaKnesses with the intent mentioned above, and binds himself below, as tiferes comes to its place of lodging.
When he exits the Bais HaKnesses, he should actually unite himself with malchus alone, according to the essence of accepting the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom. This should be his daily schedule, corresponding to the cycle of the sefirah, so that he always cleaves to the dominant light (sefirah).
This advice is found mainly in the Zohar on Parshas Bereishis and the rest of it has been gathered from many places in the Zohar. This is a comprehensive advice by which man can always bind himself to holiness, with the Crown of the Shechinah never absent from above his head.
Finished and completed with praise to G-d Who knows all that is hidden,, today, the 4th day of the week, the 12th of Mar-Chesvan, 5349 – the numberical value of ‘Esmach’ in the verse “May my words be sweet to Him, I will rejoice in Hashem” (Psalms 104-34)
Divided for daily study each month with an English translation edited by Rabbi Dov Fink and Rabbi Shimon Finkelman