Chapter 31 ל״א
1 א

"ה' בֹּקֶר תִּשְׁמַע קוֹלִי". וְקָשֶׁה: וְכִי בַּבֹּקֶר שׁוֹמֵעַ ה' קוֹל הַמִּתְפַּלְּלִים? וַהֲלֹא בְּכָל עֵת וְשָׁעָה שֶׁקּוֹרְאִים אֵלָיו הוּא שׁוֹמֵעַ קוֹלֵנוּ וּמַאֲזִין תְפִלָּתֵנוּ?! אָכֵן הָעִנְיָן הוּא כָּךְ, כִּי בִּשְׁאָר הָעִתִּים כְּשֶׁבְּנֵי אָדָם מִתְפַּלְּלִים, מְעַיְּנִים בַּתְּפִלָּה אִם הִיא רְאוּיָה לְהִתְקַבֵּל מֵחֲמַת מַעֲשִׂים שֶׁל אָדָם אוֹ לָאו; מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל בַּבֹּקֶר, כִּדְאִיתָא בְּזֹהַר בָּלָק: רַבִּי אֶלִיעֶזֶר וְרַבִּי אַבָּא וּשְׁאָר חַבְרַיָּא עִמֵּיהּ הֲווּ אָזְלֵי בְּאוֹרְחָא. פָּתַח רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר וְאָמַר: "ה' בֹּקֶר תִּשְׁמַע קוֹלִי".

“Hashem, You hear my voice in the morning” (Tehillim 5:4). On the surface this verse is difficult to understand. Does Hashem hear only the voice of supplicants in the morning? Does He not hear our voices and listen to our prayers whenever we call out to Him? The explanation is as follows: When people pray at other times, their petitions are scrutinized first to see whether they are worthy of acceptance in light of their deeds. This is not the case, however, if one prays in the morning. Thus the Zohar relates in Parashas Balak (204a) that Rabbi Elazar, Rabbi Aba and the rest of the company were traveling along the road when Rabbi Elazar began a discourse with the verse, “Hashem, You hear my voice in the morning.”

2 ב

הָעִנְיָן הוּא כָּךְ: כִּי בְּכָל צַפְרָא מִתְעוֹרֵר חֶסֶד דְּאַבְרָהָם, דִּכְתִיב בֵּיהּ: "וַיַּשְׁכֵּם אַבְרָהָם בַּבֹּקֶר"; וְהַאי שַׁעְתָּא עֵת רָצוֹן הוּא מְאֹד. וַאֲפִלּוּ הַחוֹלִים הַמֻּטָּלִים עַל עֶרֶשׂ דְּוַי מוֹצְאִים נַחַת רוּחַ בַּבֹּקֶר עַל יְדֵי מַלְאָךְ רְפָאֵל, דְּמִתְגַּלֵּי בְּכָל בֹּקֶר. וְכָל אִנּוּן מְמֻנִּים עַל מַרְעִין לְהַטִּיל חֻלְשָׁא וּמַרְעִין בִּישִׁין עַל בְּנֵי נָשָׁא, כַּד חַזְיָן מַלְאָךְ רְפָאֵל מִתְגַּלֶּה, דַּחֲלִין מִנֵּיהּ וְעַרְקִין, וּכְדֵין רְפָאֵל אוֹשִׁיט אַסְוָתָא לְהַהוּא בַּר נָשׁ הַחוֹלֶה. וּכְמוֹ שֶׁיֵּשׁ עֵת רָצוֹן אָז לָחֳלִי הַגּוּף, כָּךְ יֵשׁ עֵת רָצוֹן לָחֳלִי הַנֶּפֶשׁ וּנְשָׁמָה, שֶׁהֵן הַחֲטָאִים וְהַעֲבֵרוֹת וּפְשָׁעִים, וְהוּא עֵת רָצוֹן לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בַּבֹּקֶר. וּמֵחֲמַת שֶׁבְּאוֹתוֹ הַפַּעַם עֵת רָצוֹן, עַל כֵּן אִם אֵינוֹ רָאוּי זֶה הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל מֵחֲמַת מַעֲשָׂיו שֶׁתְּקֻבַּל תְּפִלָּתוֹ, אֲפִלּוּ הָכֵי חָשִׁיב עָלֵיהּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, דְּאִיהוּ פָּקִיד לְבַעֲלֵי דִּינָא דִּילֵיהּ, דְּלָא יִפְתְּחוּן בְּדִינָא, כִּי הַחֶסֶד וְהַחֲנִינָה אֵינוֹ מוֹסֵר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁל מַעְלָה, אֶלָּא הַחֶסֶד וְהַחֲנִינָה הֵן בְּיָדוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, וּבַבֹּקֶר הוּא מִדַּת חֶסֶד לְאַבְרָהָם, וְלָכֵן מְקַבֵּל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא תְּפִלַּת בֹּקֶר בְּחֶסֶד.

Rabbi Elazar explained that every morning the influence of Avraham’s lovingkindness is reawakened, as it is written, “And Avraham arose early in the morning” (Bereishis 22:3). For this reason it is a very favorable hour, so much so that even the bedridden find relief in the morning through the agency of the angel Refael who reveals himself every morning. When the angels appointed to bring infirmity and sickness upon people behold the angel Refael, they take fright and flee. Then Refael extends healing to the invalid. And just as there is a favorable time to pray for physical healing, so is there a favorable time to pray for the sicknesses of the spirit and soul, that is, one’s sins, transgressions and iniquities. The time for this is also in the morning. And since it is a time of favor, even if in light of his deeds the supplicant is not worthy of being answered, nevertheless the Holy One Blessed is He regards him as a penitent and instructs the court not to open an inquest. For lovingkindness and grace are the prerogatives of the Holy One Blessed is He, and the morning is the time that Avraham’s lovingkindness is recalled. Therefore the Holy One Blessed is He accepts prayers of the morning in a spirit of lovingkindness.

3 ג

אָמְרוּ רַבִּי אַבָּא וּשְׁאָר חַבְרַיָּא: אִלְמָלֵא לָא נְפַקְנָא אֶלָּא לְמִשְׁמָע דָּא — דַּיֵּנוּ. עַד הֲווּ אָזְלֵי, בָּא חַד יוֹנָה. מַטֵּיהּ לְגַבֵּיהּ דְּרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר וְהִתְחִילָה לְצַפְצֵף קַמֵּיהּ. אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: יוֹנָה וַדַּאי כְּשֵׁרָה תָּדִיר הֲוֵית בִּשְׁלִיחוּתָא, כַּמָּה דְּאַתְּ אָמַר: "וַיִּשְׁלַח נֹחַ אֶת הַיּוֹנָה". זִילִי וְאֵימָא לֵיהּ לְרַבִּי יוֹסֵי: הָא חַבְרַיָּא אָתָאן לְגַבָּךְ, וַאֲנָא עִמְּהוֹן, וְלָא יִדְחַל, כִּי נִסָּא יִתְרָחֵישׁ לֵיהּ לִתְלָתָא יוֹמִין. וְלָא יִנְפֹּל עָלֵיהּ דַחֲלָא, דְּהָא בְּחֶדְוָא אֲנַן אָזִיל לְגַבֵּיהּ. אָזִיל הַהִיא יוֹנָה לְגַבֵּיהּ רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בֶּן לַקּוֹנְיָא, דַּהֲוֵי חֲמוֹהִי דְּרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר, בִּשְׁלִיחוּתָא, וְאָתִיב תְּשׁוּבָה לְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר, דְּרַבִּי יוֹסֵי בֶּן לַקּוֹנְיָא הוּא מִצְטַעֵר עַל רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בֶּן פְּקִיעִין, דַּהֲוֵי גּוֹסֵס וּמֻטָּל עַל עֶרֶשׂ דְּוַי, כִּי מִתְּחִלָּה הָיָה רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בֶּן לַקּוֹנְיָא חוֹלֶה, וְאַחַר כָּךְ נִתְרַפֵּא. וְנֶחֱלַשׁ רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בֶּן פְּקִיעִין.

The Zohar continues: Rabbi Aba and the rest of the company responded, “If we did not set out upon a journey for any reason other than to hear this, it would have been sufficient for us.” While they were walking, a lone dove came to Rabbi Elazar and began chirping to him. Rabbi Elazar said to the dove, “You have always conducted yourself properly in all your missions, as it is written, ‘And Noach sent out the dove’ (Bereishis 8:8). Go tell Rabbi Yose, ‘Look, the companions are coming to see you, myself included. Do not be afraid, for in another three days a miracle will occur. Therefore let him not be overcome with anxiety, for we are coming to him in joy.’” So the dove went on ahead to Rabbi Yose ben Lakonya, Rabbi Elazar’s father-in-law, to fulfill its mission. Then it returned to Rabbi Elazar with the message that Rabbi Yose ben Lakonya was grief-stricken on account of Rabbi Yose ben Peki’in who was on his deathbed. (For at first Rabbi Yose ben Lakonya was ill but afterwards he recovered and Rabbi Yose ben Peki’in became ill in his stead.)

4 ד

עַד דַּהֲווּ אָזְלִין, אָתָא עוֹרְבָא וְאָמַר לֵיהּ לְרַבִּי אֶלעָזָר, דְּרַבִּי יוֹסֵי בֶּן פְּקִיעִין מֵת. תַּוְהוּ רַבִּי אַבָּא וְחַבְרַיָּא. אָמַר לֵיהּ רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר לְהָעוֹרֵב: זִיל לְאוֹרְחָךְ, דְּהָא יַדְעָנָא. וְאָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר לְחַבְרַיָּא: נֵיזוֹל וְנִגְמֹל חֶסֶד לְהַאי רִמּוֹנָא, דַּהֲוֵי מַלְיָא מִכֹּלָּא, וְרַבִּי יוֹסֵי שְׁמֵיהּ, דְּהָא אִסְתַּלַּק מֵעָלְמָא דֵּין, וְלֵית דְּחַזְיָא לְאִשְׁתַּדְּלָא בֵּיהּ, וְאִיהוּ קָרִיב לְגַבָּן. סָטוּ מֵאוֹרְחָא וְאָזְלוּ לְתַמָּן. כֵּיוָן דַּחֲמוּ לוּן כָּל בְּנֵי מָאתָא, נָפְקוּ לְגַבַּיְהוּ וְעָאלוּ תַּמָּן בְּבֵית רַבִּי יוֹסֵי דִּפְקִיעִין כָּל חַבְרַיָּא.

While they were still traveling, a raven came along and informed Rabbi Elazar that Rabbi Yose ben Peki’in had passed away. Rabbi Aba and the companions were astounded by this but Rabbi Elazar merely told the raven, “Be on your way, for I already know this.” He then addressed the companions, “Let us go and do lovingkindness with this ‘pomegranate’ called ‘Rabbi Yose,’ who was filled with everything. For he has passed from this world and there is no one fitting to tend to him, whereas he was our associate.” So they turned off the road they were on and headed there. As soon as the citizenry spied them coming they all turned out to greet them. Then all the companions entered the house of Rabbi Yose of Peki’in.

5 ה

וּבְרָא זְעֵירָא הֲוֵי לְרַבִּי יוֹסֵי דִּפְקִיעִין, וְלָא שָׁבִיק לְבַר נָשׁ דְּיִמְטֵיהּ לְעַרְסֵיהּ דַּאֲבוֹהִי בָּתַר דְּמִית. אֶלָּא אִיהוּ בִּלְחוֹדֵיהּ הֲוֵי סָמִיךְ לֵיהּ וּבָכֵי עָלֵיהּ, וּפָתַח הַאי יַנּוּקָא פּוּמֵיהּ וְאָמַר: מָרֵיהּ דְּעָלְמָא! כְּתִיב בַּתּוֹרָה: כִּי יִקָּרֵא קֵן צִפּוֹר לְפָנֶיךָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ וְכוּ' שַׁלֵּחַ תְּשַׁלַּח אֶת הָאֵם, וְהַבָּנִים תִקַּח לָךְ. מָארֵי עָלְמָא! קַיֵּם מִלֵּי דְּאוֹרַיְתָא! תְּרֵין בְּנִין הֲוֵינָא מֵאַבָּא וּמֵאִמָּא — אֲנָא וַאֲחוֹתִי זְעִרְתָּא מִנַּאי. הֲוֵי לָךְ לְמִיסַב לָן וּלְקַיְּמָא מִלֵּי דְּאוֹרַיְתָא! וְאִי תֵּימָא, מָרֵי דְּעָלְמָא אֵם כְּתִיב וְלָא אַבָּא, הֲלֹא אִמִּי מֵתָה, וּנְסִבַּת לַהּ מֵעַל בְּנִין. הַשְׁתָּא אַבָּא מִית, דַּהֲוֵי חִפּוּי עֲלָן, אִנְסִיב מֵעַל בְּנִין — אָן הוּא דִּינָךְ דְּאוֹרַיְתָא?! וְכַד הֲוֵי שָׁמְעִין רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר וְרַבִּי אַבָּא עִם חַבְרַיָּא קָלָא דְיַנּוּקָא, הַוְיָן בַּכְיָן. פָּתַח רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר וְאָמַר (מִשְׁלֵי כה, ג): "שָׁמַיִם לָרוֹם וְאֶרֶץ לָעֹמֶק, וְלֵב מְלָכִים אֵין חֵקֶר"!

Rabbi Yose of Peki’in left a young son who would not allow anyone else to approach his father’s bed after his death but stood by it himself, weeping over his father. Then the boy began speaking and said, “Master of the Universe! It is written in the Torah, ‘When you happen upon a bird’s nest by the road … you shall surely send away the mother and then take the offspring for yourself’ (Devarim 22:6-7). Master of the Universe, why did you not fulfill this commandment of the Torah? For my father and mother had two children, myself and my younger sister. You should have taken us instead of them in compliance with the Torah’s command! “And should You argue, Master of the Universe, that it is written ‘mother’ and not ‘father,’ in this case my mother has already died and You have already taken her from her offspring. But now you have taken my father, who was out protector, away from his offspring as well. What has become of the law of Your Torah?” When Rabbi Elazar, Rabbi Aba and the companions heard the boy’s words they began weeping. Rabbi Elazar recited the verse, “The height of the Heavens and the depth of the earth and the hearts of kings are unfathomable” (Mishlei 25:3).

6 ו

עַד דַּהֲוֵי רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר אָמַר הַאי קְרָא, אָתָא עַמּוּדָא דְּנוּרָא וּפָסַק בֵּינַיְהוּ, וְהַהוּא יַנּוּקָא — הֲוֵי דָּבִיק פּוּמֵיהּ לְפוּמֵיהּ דַּאֲבוֹהִי, וְלָא מִתְפָּרְשָׁן. אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: אוֹ בָּעֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמִרְחַשׁ נִיסָא אוֹ בָּעֵי דְּלָא יִשְׁתַּדֵּל בַּר נָשׁ אָחֳרָא עָלֵיהּ. עַד דַּהֲוֵי יַתְבֵי, שָׁמְעוּ קָלָא: זַכָּאָה אַנְתְּ, רַבִּי יוֹסֵי דְּמִלִּין דְּהַאי גַּדְיָא זְעֵירָא וְדִמְעוֹתָיו סְלִיקִי לְגַבֵּי כֻּרְסַיָּא דְּמַלְכָּא קַדִּישָׁא, וְדָנוּ דִּינָךְ, וּתְלֵיסַר בְּנֵי נָשָׁא אַזְמִין הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת בְּגִינָךְ, וְהָא עַסְרִין וְתַרְתֵּין שְׁנִין אוֹסִיפוּ לָךְ עַד דְּתוֹלִיף אוֹרַיְתָא לְהַאי גַּדְיָא שְׁלֵמָא חֲבִיבָא קַמֵּיהּ קֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא.

While Rabbi Elazar was reciting this verse a pillar of fire came and intervened between them; meanwhile the boy’s mouth clung to his father’s mouth and they could not be parted. Rabbi Elazar said, “Either the Holy One Blessed is He wishes to perform a miracle or he does not wish for anyone else to tend to him.” While they were sitting there they heard a voice, saying, “Fortunate are you Rabbi Yose, for the words and tears of that young kid have ascended to the Throne of the holy King and argued your case before Him. Then the Holy One Blessed is He gave over to the Angel of Death thirteen others in place of you and extended your life by twenty-two years, that is, until you have taught Torah to that flawless young kid whom the Holy One Blessed is He loves.”

7 ז

קָמוּ רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר וְחַבְרַיָּא, וְלֹא שָׁבְקוּ לְבַר נָשׁ לְמִקְרַב לְהַהוּא בֵּיתָא, וּמִיָּד חֲמֵי עַמּוּדָא דְאֶשָּׁא סָלִיק, וְרַבִּי יוֹסֵי פָּתַח עֵינוֹי, וַהֲוֵי הַאי יַנּוּקָא דָּבֵק פּוּמֵיהּ בְּפוּמֵיהּ. אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: זַכָּאָה חֻלְקָנָא דַּחֲמִינָא תְּחִיַּת הַמֵּתִים עַיִן בְּעַיִן!

Rabbi Elazar and the companions stood up and would not allow anyone to enter. Then the pillar of fire departed and they saw that Rabbi Yose had opened his eyes. Meanwhile the boy’s mouth still clung to his. Rabbi Elazar commented, “Fortunate is our lot that we have witnessed the revival of the dead with our own eyes.”

8 ח

קְרִיבוּ לְגַבֵּיהּ, וַהֲוָה הַהוּא יַנּוּקָא נָאִים, כְּאִלּוּ גָּוַע מֵהַאי עָלְמָא. אָמְרוּ: זַכָּאָה חֻלְקָךְ, רַבִּי יוֹסֵי, וּבְרִיךְ רַחֲמָנָא דְּאִתְרְחִישׁ לָךְ נִסָּא עַל יְדֵי מִלִּין דִּבְרָךְ, דְּהָכֵי דָּחִיק בְּמִלּוֹי שַׁפִּירִין לִתְרַע שְׁמַיָּא וּבִדְמָעוֹת שָׁלִישׁ אוֹסִיפוּ לָךְ עֶסְרִין וְתַרְתֵּין שְׁנִין! נְטָלוּהַ לְהַאי יַנּוּקָא וּנְשָׁקוּהַ וּבָכוּ עִמֵּיהּ מֵחֶדְוָה סַגְיָא וְאַפְקוּהַ לְבֵיתֵיהּ אָחֳרָא, עַד דְּתִתְיַשֵּׁב רוּחֵיהּ, וְנִשְׁמָתֵיהּ תַּחֲזֹר בֵּיהּ כְּמִקֹּדֶם. חֲדוּ תְּלָתָא יוֹמִין עִם רַבִּי יוֹסֵי וְחִדְּשׁוּ כַּמָּה חִדּוּשִׁין דְּאוֹרַיְתָא. אָמַר לָהֶם רַבִּי יוֹסֵי: חַבְרַיָּא, לֹא אִתְיַהַב לִי רְשׁוּת לְגַלָּאָה לְכוֹן מַאי דַּחֲמֵינָא בְּהַהוּא עָלְמָא, אֶלָּא לְבָתַר תְּרֵיסַר שְׁנִין, אֶלָּא תְּלַת מֵאָה וְשִׁבְעִין דְּמָעִין דְּאוֹשִׁיד בְּרִי, עָאלוּ בְּחֻשְׁבְּנָא קַמֵּי מַלְכָּא קַדִּישָׁא, וְהִנְנִי נִשְׁבָּע אֲנִי לִפְנֵיכֶם, חַבְרַיָּא! בְּשָׁעָה דְּפָתַח בְּרִי הַאי פְּסוּקָא דְּ'כִי יִקָּרֵא קֵן צִפּוֹר' וּבְאִלֵּין מִלִּין הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל — אִזְדַּעְזַעוּ כֻּלְּהוּ סַפְסָלֵי דַּהֲוֵי בִּמְתִיבְתָּא דִּרְקִיעַ, וְכֻלְּהוּ קָמוּ קַמֵּי מַלְכָּא קַדִּישָׁא, וּבָעֵי רַחֲמֵי עָלַי. וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא נִתְמַלֵּא רַחֲמִים עָלַי וּשְׁפִיר קַמֵּיהּ אִנּוּן מִלִּין הֵיךְ מָסַר נַפְשֵׁיהּ בְּרִי עָלַי, וְחַד אַפַּטְרוֹפָּא אָמַר: מָארֵי דְּעָלְמָא! הָא כְּתִיב (תְּהִלִּים ח, ג): "מִפִּי עוֹלְלִים וְיוֹנְקִים יִסַּדְתָּ עֹז לְמַעַן צוֹרְרֶיךָ, לְהַשְׁבִּית אוֹיֵב וּמִתְנַקֵּם". אִי רַעֲוָא דִּילָךְ זְכוּתָא דְּאוֹרַיְתָא וּזְכוּתָא דְּהַאי יַנּוּקָא, דְּקָא מָסַר נַפְשֵׁיהּ עַל אֲבוֹהִי — בְּדִינָא דְּתָחוּס עָלָיו וְיִשְׁתְּזִיב. וְיָהִיב קֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא לְמַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת תְּרֵיסַר בְּנֵי נָשָׁא תְּחוֹתֵיהּ עַד בָּתַר עֶסְרִין וְתַרְתֵּין שְׁנִין.

When they approached Rabbi Yose, they discovered that the boy was asleep and seemed as if he had left this world. They remarked, “Fortunate is your lot, Rabbi Yose, and blessed is the Merciful One who has performed for you a miracle on account of your son’s words. For he pushed aside the gates of Heaven with his comely words and on account of his copious tears they extended your life by twenty-two years.” Then they took the boy and kissed him and cried with him tears of joy, carrying him to another room until his mind was settled and his soul returned to him as before. They rejoiced with Rabbi Yose for three days, propounding numerous novel Torah insights. Rabbi Yose said to them, “Companions, I do not have permission to reveal to you what I saw in the other world until twelve years have passed. But the holy King made a reckoning of the three hundred and seventy tears that my son shed. And I swear to you, my companions, that the moment my son began reciting the verse, ‘When you happen upon a bird’s nest,’ and the other words mentioned above, all the benches in the Heavenly academy shook and everyone stood before the holy King and sought mercy on my behalf. “Then the Holy One Blessed is He was filled with mercy for me because my son’s words and self-sacrifice on my behalf pleased him. One of the appointed angels argued, ‘Master of the Universe! Look, it is written, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings You have founded strength because of Your tormentors, to silence the enemy and the avenger (Tehillim 8:3). May it be Your will that in the merit of the Torah and of this child, who offered his own life for his father’s, You will have pity on him and spare him.’ “Then the Holy One Blessed is He summoned the Angel of Death and gave him thirteen other individuals as a security for me for another twenty-two years.”

9 ט

וְהִנֵּה שִׁמְעוּ נָא אֲמִתּוּת הַדְּבָרִים, מַהוּ דֵּין דִּכְתִיב: "ה' מֵמִית וּמְחַיֶּה וְכוּ'". וְכִי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אִיהוּ מֵמִית? אֶלָּא הָעִנְיָן הוּא, שֶׁקֹּדֶם יְצִיאַת הַנְּשָׁמָה, הַשָּׂטָן רוֹצֶה לִדְבֹּק בַּגּוּף, וְעַל יְדֵי כָּךְ יֵשׁ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם גַּם כֵּן זֻהֲמָא וְעִרְבּוּב מִכֹּחַ כֹּחָם גַּם לִנְשָׁמָה. וּכְשֶׁיַּגִּיעַ הָעֵת קָרוֹב לְמִיתָתוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם כָּשֵׁר, אֲשֶׁר אֵין כְּדַאי לְהַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא לְהִדָּבֵק בְּנִשְׁמָתוֹ הַטְּהוֹרָה, מִתְגַּלֵּית שְׁכִינְתָּא קַדִּישָׁא, וְאָז הַשָּׂטָן מִיָּד הוּא נֶחֱלָשׁ וְאָזַל בְּעַל כָּרְחֵיהּ וְדוֹמֶה מַמָּשׁ אֵלָיו כְּמִיתָה, שֶׁאֵין לוֹ שְׁלִיטָה בְּנִשְׁמַת הַצַּדִּיק. וְהַנְּשָׁמָה כְּשֶׁהוֹלֶכֶת מִן הַגּוּף, הוֹלֶכֶת תֵּכֶף עִם הַשְּׁכִינָה הַקְּדוֹשָׁה בְּמָקוֹם קָדוֹשׁ, הַנִּקְרָא צְרוֹר הַחַיִּים, אֲשֶׁר עַל זֶה אָנוּ מִתְפַּלְּלִין עַל הַמֵּתִים: "וְיִצְרֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת נִשְׁמָתוֹ". וְזֶה הַסּוֹד: "ה' מֵמִית" — לְהַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא וּמְגָרְשָׁהּ וּמַחֲלִישָׁהּ; "וּמְחַיֶּה" — אֶת הַנְּשָׁמָה שֶׁל הַצַּדִּיק לַהֲבִיאָהּ בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים. וְזֶה הַסּוֹד: "מוֹרִיד שְׁאוֹל וַיַּעַל" — קָאֵי עַל נִשְׁמַת הַצַּדִּיק, הַמֻּכְרָח לֵירֵד לְגֵיהִנָּם לְרֶגַע קָטָן; וְזֶהוּ טְבִילָה שֶׁלּוֹ, כִּי אֵין צַדִּיק בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה טוֹב וְלֹא יֶחֱטָא. וּבָעֵי עַל כָּל פָּנִים טְבִילָה וַהֲסָרַת הַזֻּהֲמָה קְצָת, וְתֵכֶף — "וַיַּעַל". סָלִיק לֵיהּ לִמְקוֹמָהּ הָרָאוּי לָהּ בְּגַן עֵדֶן.

Now hear the truth of this matter, for Rabbi Yose explained further: What is the meaning of the verse, “Hashem strikes dead and gives life, etc.” (1 Shmuel 2:6)? Does the Holy One Blessed is He really cause death? Rather the explanation is that before the soul departs the Satan wishes to cling to the body, which would cause the soul to become sullied as well, Heaven forbid. Therefore when the time approaches for an upright individual to die, since it is not fitting that the Sitrah Acharah be allowed to cling to his pure soul, the holy Shechinah reveals itself. This weakens the Satan, compelling him to abandon that individual. In the eyes of the Satan the fact that he is not granted any dominion over the souls of the righteous is just as if he [the Satan] died. As for the soul, when it leaves the body it immediately cleaves to the holy Shechinah and is bound up in a holy place known as the “bundle of life.” It is this that we refer to when we pray that the soul of the deceased be “bound up in the bundle of life.” This is the meaning of the verse, “Hashem strikes dead.” That is, He strikes the Sitrah Acharah dead, banishing and weakening it. Meanwhile He “gives life” to the soul of a righteous individual, bringing it into the “bundle of life.” In light of this we can also understand the rest of the verse, “He lowers into She’ol and raises up.” That is, the soul of a righteous person must descend into Gehinnom for a brief moment, which is like immersion in a mikveh [ritual bath], because, “There is no righteous person on earth who does only good and never sins” (Koheles 7:20). Therefore in any event it requires immersion to remove the trace of filth with which it was sullied. But then immediately it is “raised up” and elevated to the place that is fitting for it in Gan Eden.

10 י

וְהִנֵּה חַבְרַיָּא תֵּדְעוּ, דִבְהַאי שַׁעְתָּא דְּאִסְתַּלַּקְנָא מֵעָלְמָא, עָבְדוּ לִי גַּם כֵּן טְבִילָה בַּגֵּיהִנָּם כַּנִּזְכָּר, וְתֵכֶף לְאַחַר הַטְּבִילָה עָלִיתִי לְגַן עֵדֶן לְדוּכְתָּאִי, וּבְשַׁעְתָּא דְּפָתַח בְּרִי בְּאִנּוּן מִלִּין וּמָסַר נַפְשֵׁיהּ עָלַי — יָצְאָה גַּם כֵּן נִשְׁמָתוֹ, דִּבְהַא הוּא דְּדָמִיךְ וְנַפְשׁוֹ יָצְאָה בְּדַבְּרוֹ.

Rabbi Yose said to the other companions, “Know that when I left this world I also underwent this immersion in Gehinnom and immediately thereafter ascended to my place in Gan Eden. And when my son began his petition, offering his life for mine, his soul also left his body, This is why he seemed to be asleep, for his soul “went out as he spoke” (Shir HaShirim 5:6).

11 יא

וְכֵיוָן דִּנְפַקְתְּ נִשְׁמְתָא דִּבְרִי, אִתְּעָרִית וּפַגְעִית בְּנִשְׁמָתוֹ, דַּהֲוֵי אָעלַת גַּם כֵּן מִטְּבִילָה הַנִּזְכֶּרֶת לְעֵיל, וְתַמָּן אִתְדַּן דִּינָא לְהוֹסִיף לִי שְׁנַיִם וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה בְּגִין דְּמָעוֹת וּמִלִּין דִּבְרִי. וּכְהַיּוֹם, כִּי נִטְהַרְתִּי מִכֹּל וָכֹל, וְנִשְׁמָתִי הִיא זַכְיָא וּנְקִיָּה וּטְהוֹרָה — מֻכְרָח אֲנִי לִרְאוֹת בְּאִלֵּין שְׁנַיִם וְעֶשְׂרִים שְׁנִין לְאִתְעַסְּקָא רַק בְּמִלִּין דְּעוֹלָם הַבָּא, כִּי כְּבָר קִבַּלְתִּי עֹנֶשׁ מִיתָה וּטְבִילָה בַּגֵּיהִנָּם, וּמִכָּאן וּלְהָלְאָה אִצְטְרִיכְנָא דְּלָא אַתְיָא בְּכִסּוּפָא לְעָלְמָא דְּאָתֵי. וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמַר דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ, עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם: "יַסֹּר יִסְּרַנִּי יָהּ, וְלַמָּוֶת לֹא נְתָנָנִי". אָמַר דָּוִד: רוֹאֶה אֲנִי, שֶׁהַרְבֵּה יִסּוּרִים גְּדוֹלִים מְאֹד יִסֵּר אוֹתִי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, וְהַכֹּל כְּדֵי לְהִנָּקֵם מֵחֶטְאִי; וְאִם כֵּן, כַּאֲשֶׁר כְּבָר נִטְהַרְתִּי עַל יְדֵי טְבִילַת הַיִּסּוּרִים, מֵעַתָּה חָלִילָה לִפְגֹּם עוֹד בְּנִשְׁמָתִי, כִּי אִם פִּתְחוּ לִי שַׁעֲרֵי צֶדֶק לְהִתְעַסֵּק בְּתוֹרָה וְיִרְאָה, שֶׁלֹּא אֶהְיֶה בְּכִסּוּפָא לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא.

“As soon as my son’s soul went out, it encountered my soul ascending from the immersion mentioned earlier. It was then that the decision was made to grant me another twenty-two years of life on account of my son’s tears and words. Now that I have been purified and my soul is pure and unsullied, it is essential that during these twenty-two years I engage only in matters pertaining to the World to Come. For I have already experienced the judgment of death and immersion in Gehin- nom. Now I must see to it that I will not be ashamed in the World to Come. “This is what Dovid HaMelech meant when he said, ‘God has severely afflicted me, but He did not deliver me unto death’ (Tehillim 118:18). That is, Dovid said, ‘I see that the Holy One Blessed is He has subjected me to many painful afflictions. But this was only to cleanse me of sin. And now that I have been purified through the “immersion” of afflictions, I must be certain not to sully my soul again from this time forth, Heaven forbid. Rather, Open for me the Gates of Righteousness (ibid. 19), so that I may toil only in Torah and awe of Heaven in order that I will not be ashamed in the World to Come.’”

12 יב

וְנִלְמָד מִכָּאן: לְכָל אָדָם, הָעוֹבֵר עָלָיו חִצֵּי דִּינִים מִמָּארֵיהּ דְּעָלְמָא וְקִבֵּל יִסּוּרִים, יַחֲשֹׁב, כִּי בְּוַדַּאי לְטַהֲרוֹ מִפְּשָׁעָיו הֵמָּה, וְאִצְרִיךְ לֵיהּ לִזָּהֵר, שֶׁמִּכָּאן וּלְהָלְאָה שֶׁלֹּא יִמְשֹׁךְ עָלָיו עוֹד סִטְרָא אָחֳרָא דִּמְסָאֳבָא בַּחֲטָאָיו, וְאָז יִצְטָרְכוּ עוֹד יִסּוּרִים כְּדֵי לְהָסִיר חֶלְאַת הַזֻּהֲמָה.

We may draw a lesson from this incident to the situation of every individual who has experienced the “arrows” of Hashem’s judgments and suffered afflictions. Let him reflect that this was only to purify him of his iniquities. Therefore from that time forth let him be wary of drawing near to the Sitrah Acharah and sullying himself with sin. For then he will need further afflictions to remove the filth.

13 יג

וְאִם תֹּאמַר: מָה הַיִּסּוּרִים שַׁיָּכִין לְזֻהֲמַת הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא? דַּע, כִּי זֻהֲמַת הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא הִיא דָּבָר מַמָּשׁ; וְהָאוֹת וְהַמּוֹפֵת לְזֶה — כִּי בְּהִסְתַּכֵּל אִשָּׁה נִדָּה בְּמַרְאוֹת הַצּוֹבְאוֹת (שֶׁקּוֹרִין בְּלָשׁוֹן אַחֵר 'שְׁפִּיגֶל') יִדְבְּקוּ כַּמָּה כְּתָמִים בַּמַּרְאָה, הַמַּחְשִׁיכִים אֶת זְהִירוּת הַמַּרְאָה, וְנַעֲשׂוֹת בַּהֲרוֹת בַּהֲרוֹת לְבָנוֹת וּשְׁחוֹרוֹת, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַבְתִּי לְעֵיל פֶּרֶק ב. הֲרֵי לְךָ, שֶׁהָאָדָם עוֹשֶׂה רשֶׁם בְּמַרְאוֹת טֻמְאָה, וּמִזֶּה תִּרְאֶה, שֶׁזֻּהֲמַת הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא הִיא דָּבָר מַמָּשׁ, הַנִּדְבָּק בְּגוּף הָאָדָם, וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְהִתְלַבֵּן וּלְהִתְרוֹקֵן אִם לֹא עַל יְדֵי יִסּוּרִים, כִּי אֵין יִסּוּרִין בְּלֹא חִמּוּם הַגּוּף. אַף הֲסָרַת הַכְּתָמִים מִן הַמַּרְאוֹת הַצּוֹבְאוֹת אִי אֶפְשָׁר לְהַעֲבִיר אִם לֹא עַל יְדֵי גַּחֲלֵי אֵשׁ, וְאָז יַחֲזֹר הַשְּׁפִּיגֶל כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָיָה בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה. כֵּן הָאָדָם אֵין לוֹ כַּפָּרָה עַל חֶטְאוֹ, אִם לֹא שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְהִתְלַבֵּן בְּחִמּוּם הַיִּסּוּרִים כַּנִּזְכָּר. וּכְשֶׁאָדָם מְקַבֵּל הַיִסּוּרִים בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְחִבָּה מֵאֵת ה', אָז הוּא מַתִּישׁ כֹּחַ הִתְפַּשְּׁטוּת זֻהֲמַת הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא. וְחָלִילָה לָאָדָם, שֶׁיִּבְעַט בְּיִסּוּרָיו, אֶלָּא יְקַבֵּל עָלָיו הַכֹּל בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְחִבָּה, הֵן בְּיִסּוּרִים שֶׁל גּוּפוֹ וְהֵן יִסּוּרֵי מָמוֹנוֹ, כִּי יֵשׁ אֵיזֶה אֲנָשִׁים — אִם יִקְרֶה לוֹ אֵיזֶה הֶזֵּק מָמוֹן — אֲזַי הוּא מִתְחַמֵּם וּמִתְלַהֵב בְּלֵב רַגָּז, וּמֵרִיב וּמְחַרְחֵר רִיב עִם הַבְּרִיּוֹת — זֶהוּ אֲשֶׁר בּוֹעֵט בַּיִּסּוּרִין. אֶלָּא יִהְיֶה שָׁיֵף עָיֵל וְשָׁיֵף נָפִיק בְּלֵב נִשְׁבָּר וְנִדְכֶּה וּבְהַכְנָעָה, וְיֹאמַר תָּמִיד: ה' נָתַן וַה' לָקַח, יְהִי שֵׁם ה' מְבֹרָךְ. בְּזֶה מְעוֹרֵר רַחֲמִים שֶׁרוֹאֶה בּוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הַכְנָעָה דִּילֵיהּ.

One might ask, “What do afflictions have to do with the filth of the Sitrah Acharah?” But you must know that the filth of the Sitrah Acharah is a tangible substance. The proof to this is that when a menstruating woman gazes at a mirror a number of stains cling to it, clouding the image so that it becomes spotted with white and black marks, as I have already mentioned in Chapter Two. So you see that a person can cause an impression even with a defiled look. One can understand, then, that the filth of the Sitrah Acharah is a tangible substance clinging to a person’s body, from which it is impossible to be cleansed without afflictions. These cleanse because all afflictions are accompanied by a warming of the body. Therefore just as the stains on the mirror can only be removed with hot coals, after which it returns to its original appearance, so too a person can only achieve atonement through scorching, which is achieved through the heating of the body caused by afflictions. When one accepts Hashem’s afflictions with love and affection he diminishes the power of the filth from the Sitrah Acharah to spread. Therefore Heaven forbid that a person remonstrate against his afflictions! Rather let him accept them with love and affection, whether they strike his body or his money. For some individuals become very worked up and excited if they suffer any financial harm. Then with hearts filled brimming with ire then enter into conflicts and quarrels with others. This is the way of those who remonstrate against afflictions. Instead let a person enter humbly and exit humbly, with a broken and contrite heart and with submissiveness. And let him say on every occasion, “Hashem gave and Hashem has taken, may Hashem’s name be blessed” (Iyov 1:21). In this way he will arouse Heaven’s mercy, for the Holy One Blessed is He will take note of his submission.

14 יד

וְהִנֵּה קַבָּלָה בְּיָדִי, שֶׁיֵּשׁ יָמִים מְיֻחָדִים בַּשָּׁנָה, שֶׁשְּׁלוּחֵי ה' מְבִיאִים יִסּוּרִים עַל בְּנֵי אָדָם, וּבְיִחוּד עַל אוֹתָן בְּנֵי אָדָם, שֶׁהֵן מְבָעֲטִים בַּיִּסּוּרִים; עַל כֵּן שׁוֹמֵר נַפְשׁוֹ יִרְחַק מֵהֶם. וְאַצִּיג לְךָ פֶּרֶק מְיֻחָד לְאוֹתָן הַיָּמִים.

I have received a tradition from earlier generations that on certain days of the year Hashem’s emissaries are especially liable to bring afflictions upon a person, in particular upon those who remonstrate against them, for which reason whoever is concerned for his soul will stay away from them. These special days will be the subject of the next chapter.