Chapter 64 ס״ד
1 א

אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה: גְּדוֹלָה הִיא הַכְנָסַת אוֹרְחִים יוֹתֵר מֵהַקְבָּלַת פְּנֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה. וּבְוַדַּאי רָמְזוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה בְּזֶה הָעִנְיָן דָּבָר נִסְתָּר, אֲשֶׁר רָאוּי לוֹמַר עָלָיו: דָּבָר חָשׁוּב הוּא זֶה יוֹתֵר מֵהַקְבָּלַת פְּנֵי שְׁכִינָה, כִּבְיָכוֹל. וְהָעִנְיָן, כִּי מֶחֱוָה זוֹ שֶׁל הַכְנָסַת אוֹרְחִים יֵשׁ בָּהּ שְׁתֵּי בְּחִינוֹת: הָאֶחָד — הָעִנְיָן הַפָּשׁוּט בְּמַעֲלוֹת הָאָדָם, אֲשֶׁר לִבּוֹ לֵב רָחָב לְהַמְשִׁיךְ לְבֵיתוֹ אוֹרְחִים לְהַאֲכִילָם וּלְהַשְׁקוֹתָם, שֶׁהוּא מִצַּד הַשֵּׂכֶל דָּבָר כָּשֵׁר וְטוֹב מְאֹד בְּגוֹמְלֵי הַחֶסֶד עִם בְּנֵי הָאָדָם, שֶׁבָּאִים מֵהַדֶּרֶךְ וְהֵם עֲיֵפִים מִטִּרְדוֹת הַדֶּרֶךְ, וְתִדְבַּק לְשׁוֹנָם לְחִכָּם בִּשְׁבִיל הַצָּמָא. וְאַף שֶׁיֵּשׁ יְכֹלֶת לָאוֹרֵחַ לִקְנוֹת לְעַצְמוֹ מְזוֹנוֹת, וְהַבַּעַל הַבַּיִת מַאֲכִילוֹ וּמַשְׁקֵהוּ וְנוֹתֵן כַּר וְסָדִין לִשְׁכַּב עָלָיו, לִמְצֹא מַרְגּוֹעַ לְנַפְשׁוֹ לָנוּחַ מֵחֻלְשַׁת הַדֶּרֶךְ — מַה יָּקָר חֲסָדָיו שֶׁל בַּעַל הַבַּיִת מְאֹד, כְּשֶׁעוֹשֶׂה כָּל הַחֲסָדִים מִטּוּב עַיִן, וְלֹא בְּצָרוּת עַיִן.

The Sages have said that hosting wayfarers is greater than greeting the Shechinah (Shabbos 127a). It is obvious that if they spoke in such terms, as if this mitzvah could actually be of more significance that greeting the Shechinah, they must have been alluding to some hidden meaning. The idea, then, is this: The mitzvah of hosting wayfarers can be understood on two levels. On the plain level it refers to an act that is a reflection of good character, namely that the host’s generous heart prompts him to invite wayfarers into his home and to give them food and drink. This is a deed that the intellect identifies as proper and good, for through it one performs lovingkindness with those coming in from the road, weary from the trials of the way, their tongues clinging to their palates out of thirst. Even if the wayfarer has the means to pay for his fare, nevertheless when the host offers him food and drink and a mattress and linen to lie upon to refresh his soul and recuperate from his travels, the lovingkindness that he does is very precious. This assumes, of course, that he does so generously and not grudgingly.

2 ב

אָמְנָם הָעִנְיָן הַשֵּׁנִי הוּא הָרֶמֶז. אִם אַתָּה רוֹאֶה, שֶׁהַתּוֹרָה הַקְּדוֹשָׁה עוֹמֶדֶת בָּרְחוֹב, וְאֵין אִישׁ מְאַסֵּף אוֹתָהּ הַבַּיְתָה לוֹמַר: אֶקָּחֶנָּה לְבֵיתִי לִהְיוֹת בֵּיתִי נִשְׁמַע בּוֹ תּוֹרָה בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה וְלִהְיוֹתָהּ לִי עֲטָרָה עַל רָאשִׁי. וְכֵן אֵיזֶה מִצְוָה שֶׁאַתָּה רוֹאֶה, שֶׁבְּנֵי אָדָם נוֹהֲגִים קַלּוּת רֹאשׁ, וּמְעַט דִּמְעַט שֶׁמְּקַיְּמִין אוֹתָהּ — הִנֵּה מִצְוָה זוֹ בְּוַדַּאי מַמְתֶּנֶת וּמְצַפָּה, עַד כִּי יִבְחַר בָּהּ אִישׁ כָּשֵׁר וְיָשָׁר לְהַזְהִיר בָּהּ, וּלְעוֹרֵר עוֹד רַבִּים עַל מִצְוָה זוֹ לְקַיְּמָהּ בְּאַהֲבָה לִכְבוֹד יִחוּד הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּוַדַּאי זוֹ הִיא הַכְנָסַת אוֹרְחִים, וְזוֹ גּוֹרֶמֶת יִחוּד לִכְבוֹד הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וּשְׁכִינְתֵּיהּ. וְדָבָר זֶה נִלְמַד מֵהַזֹּהַר פָּרָשַׁת תְּרוּמָה, וְזֶה לְשׁוֹנוֹ: רַבִּי יוֹסֵי וְרַבִּי חִיָּא הֲוֵי אָזְלֵי בְּאוֹרְחָא, וַהֲוֵי חַד טַיְעָא טָעַן אֲבַתְרַיְהוּ.

On another level, however, this mitzvah can be understood as an intimation of something deeper. Suppose you see the holy Torah standing on the street with no one to gather it in, no one to say, “I will take it into my home so that the sound of Torah will be heard there day and night and it will be a crown upon my head.” Similarly, suppose you notice that a particular commandment is taken lightly and that few fulfill it. You can be certain that that commandment is just waiting for some honest and upright fellow to claim it for himself, to observe it meticulously and to urge others to observe with love for the honor and unification of the Holy One Blessed is He. This, too, is clearly a form of “hosting a wayfarer.” Moreover, it brings about the unification of the Holy One Blessed is He and His Shechinah, as can be derived from a passage in the Zohar (Parashas Terumah 155b): Rabbi Yose and Rabbi Chiya were traveling along the road while a merchant was leading his donkey after them.

3 ג

אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי: אִית לָן לְאִתְעַסַּק בְּאוֹרַיְתָא וּלְאִשְׁתַּדְּלָא בְּמִלּוּי דְּאוֹרַיְתָא, דְּהָא קֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא אָזִיל וְאִתְלַוֵּי בַּהֲדֵי דְּעַסְקִין בְּאוֹרַיְתָא. פָּתַח רַבִּי חַיָּא וְאָמַר: עֵת לַעֲשׂוֹת לַה' הֵפֵרוּ תּוֹרָתֶךָ. הָכֵי פֵּרוּשׁוֹ: כְּשֶׁאַתָּה רוֹאֶה שֶׁבְּנֵי אָדָם עוֹזְבִים הַתּוֹרָה אוֹ אֵיזֶה מִצְוָה, שֶׁנּוֹהֲגִין בָּהּ קְלָנָא לְבִלְתִּי לְקַיֵּם הַמִּצְוָה, וְעַל יְדֵי כָּךְ הַשְּׁכִינָה נִתְרַחֲקָה מִדִּירַת הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא — אָז הַיָּרֵא וְחָרֵד לִדְבַר ה' יֶאֱזֹר כְּגִבּוֹר חֲלָצָיו לְזָרֵז בִּזְרִיזוּת רַבָּה וּלְעוֹרֵר אֲנָשִׁים לֵאמֹר: קוּמוּ וְנַחֲזִיק בַּתּוֹרָה הַקְּדוֹשָׁה אוֹ בְּמִצְוָה זוֹ שֶׁאֵין לָהּ דּוֹרְשִׁים, וּנְרוֹמְמָה אוֹתָהּ מִירִידָתָהּ, אֲשֶׁר עֲזָבוּהַ בְּנֵי אָדָם זְמַן רַב, וְעַכְשָׁו נְכַוֵּן לְקַיְּמָהּ לְשֵׁם יִחוּד קֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא וּשְׁכִינְתֵּיהּ. אָז אַשְׁרֵי הָאָדָם, אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה זֹאת, וְאַשְׁרֵי נִשְׁמָתוֹ. וְזֶהוּ: עֵת לַעֲשׂוֹת לַה' — לְתַקֵּן תִּקּוּן שֶׁל יִחוּד קֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא וּשְׁכִינְתֵּיהּ, כְּשֶׁאַתָּה תִּרְאֶה לִבְנֵי אָדָם 'הֵפֵרוּ תּוֹרָתֶךָ'. וְכָל הַזָּרִיז וְהַזָּהִיר נִקְרָא זָרִיז וְנִשְׂכָּר.

Rabbi Yose said, “Let us engage in Torah study, for the Holy One Blessed is He accompanies those who engage in study. So Rabbi Chiya began a discourse, “[It is stated,] ‘It is a time to act for Hashem, for they have made void Your Torah’ (Tehillim 119:126).” Rabbi Chiya explained the verse as follows: Suppose that people have become neglectful of Torah study or that they are remiss concerning a certain commandment, thereby causing the Shechinah to be distanced from the abode of the Holy One Blessed is He. Whenever this is the case those who tremble at Hashem’s word must summon all their strength to exhort people concerning the matter. Let them say, “Arise and take hold of the holy Torah or the neglected commandment! Raise it up from the degradation it has suffered because human beings have slighted it for so long. Let us now fulfill it for the sake of unifying the Holy One Blessed is He and His Shechinah.” Fortunate is the one who does this and fortunate is his soul. This is the meaning of the verse, “It is a time to act for Hashem.” That is, it is time to do something for the unification of the Holy One Blessed is He and His Shechinah. When is this time? Whenever people have “made void Your Torah.” Whoever proves to be eager and meticulous in this regard will be termed “the zealous one” and he will be rewarded for it.

4 ד

וְהַאי טַיְעָא, דַּהֲוֵי טָעִין אֲבַתְרַיְהוּ, אָמַר לְהוּ: בְּמָטוּ מִנַּיְכוּ, רַבּוֹתֵינוּ, בְּוַדַּאי קְרָא נִדְרָשׁ שַׁפִּיר כִּדְאַמְרִיתוּ. אָכֵן קְצָת קָשֶׁה לְהַפֵּרוּשׁ הַזֶּה. הָיָה לוֹ לוֹמַר: יֵשׁ לַעֲשׂוֹת לַה', הֵפֵרוּ וְגוֹ'. אוֹ הָיָה לוֹ לוֹמַר: נַעֲשֶׂה. מַהוּ 'עֵת'? אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי: בְּכַמָּה גַּוְנִין אוֹרְחָא מְתַקְּנָא לָן: חַד — דַּהֲוֵינָא תְּרֵין, וּמִכָּל שֶׁכֵּן הַשְׁתָּא אֲנַן תְּלַת וּשְׁכִינְתָּא אִתְכַּלַּלִית בַּהֲדָן. וְתוּ — דַּחֲשִׁיבָנָא דְּלָא הָוַת אֶלָּא כְּאִילָנָא יָבֶשְׁתָּא, וְעַכְשָׁו אַנְתְּ הוּא כְּזַיִת רַעֲנָנָא. אָמַר לוֹ: פְּתַח פּוּמָךְ וְאֵימָא.

Then the merchant who was leading his donkey after them spoke up, “With your permission, my teachers — surely you have interpreted this verse very well. However, there is one slight difficulty with this interpretation. According to this the verse should have said, ‘There is a need to act for Hashem, etc.,’ or, ‘Let us act, etc.’ What is meant by, ‘It is a time to act’?” Rabbi Yose responded, “In so many ways the road has been prepared before us! First, because we were two and now even more so because we are three and the Shechinah will surely join with us. Moreover, I had thought you were nothing but a withered tree but now I see that you are as fresh as an olive tree!” So they asked the merchant to begin his discourse.

5 ה

פָּתַח הַאי טַיְעָא וְאָמַר: יֵשׁ עֵת מִצַּד דִּקְדֻשָּׁה, וְיֵשׁ עֵת מִצַּד סִטְרָא אָחֳרָא. עֵת מִצַּד הַקְּדֻשָּׁה נִקְרָא 'עֵת רָצוֹן', כַּמָּה דְּאַתְּ אָמַר: וַאֲנִי תְּפִלָּתִי לְךָ ה' עֵת רָצוֹן; שֶׁהוּא הַשֵּׁם שֶׁל ה'. וּמִצַּד הַטֻּמְאָה הוּא עֵת פֻּרְעָנִיּוֹת, שֶׁהִיא מִסִּטְרָא דְּלִילִית הָרְשָׁעָה, נָחָשׁ הַקַּדְמוֹנִי, אֲשֶׁר מִמֶּנָּה מִתְעוֹרְרִים גְּזֵרוֹת קָשׁוֹת עַל שׂוֹנְאֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְדָא הוּא עֵת פֻּרְעָנִיּוֹת. וְלָכֵן יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵן מֻזְהָרִין לְהַרְחִיק מִפֶּתַח בֵּיתָהּ שֶׁל לִילִית, מִמֶּנָּה וּמִכָּל עֻבְדִּין בִּישִׁין דְּתַלְיָן בָּהּ וּלְהִתְקָרֵב וְלִדְבֹּק בְּכָל מַאי דְּאֶפְשָׁר בְּהַהוּא עֵת רָצוֹן שֶׁהוּא בִּקְדֻשָּׁה, אֲשֶׁר הַשְּׁכִינָה כּוֹלֶלֶת כְּלַל נִשְׁמוֹתֵיהֶן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְלָכֵן נִקְרֵאת הַשְּׁכִינָה 'כְּנֶסֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל', כַּיָּדוּעַ לְיוֹדְעֵי הַחֵ"ן. וְעַל זֶה הִזְהִירָה הַתּוֹרָה וְאָמְרָה: וְאַל יָבוֹא בְּכָל עֵת אֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ. רָצָה לוֹמַר, שֶׁהִזְהִירָה הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁיָּבוֹא הַכֹּהֵן אֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ וּבְמַחֲשֶׁבֶת קֹדֶשׁ, וּבִפְרָט בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים שֶׁהוּא עֵת רָצוֹן, שֶׁהוּא הַיּוֹם שֶׁבּוֹ הָיָה כַּפָּרָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל עַל חֵטְא הָעֵגֶל, וְנִקְבַּע יוֹם זֶה גַּם כֵּן לִסְלִיחָה וּלְכַפָּרָה לְדוֹרֵי דּוֹרוֹת. וְאָסוּר לְכֹהֵן לִכָּנֵס בְּמַחֲשָׁבָה זָרָה מִסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא, חָלִילָה.

The merchant explained that there are times that are under the influence of the realm of holiness and there are times that are under the influence of the Sitra Achara. A time that is under holy influence is called a “time of favor,” as it is written, “And as for me, let my prayer to You, Hashem, be at a time of favor” (Tehillim 69:14). This time is illuminated by the name A-d-n-y [“My Lord”]. A time that is under the influence of the Sitra Achara is called a “time of afflictions.” These afflictions emanate from the wicked Lilis and the primordial snake. For this reason Israel has been warned to stay far from the entrance to her house and to avoid her and all the workers of evil that are dependent upon her. Instead they must draw as near as possible and cling as closely as possible to the “time of favor,” which is associated with the Shechinah. For the Shechinah encompasses all the souls of Israel, for which reason it is called Knesses Yisroel — “the Congregation of Israel,” as is known to the Kabbalists. Regarding this the Torah warns (Koheles 3:8), “There is a time to love” — that is, one must love the Shechinah — and a time to hate — that is, one must hate the Sitra Achara, which is connected with Lilis. A proof to this can be drawn from the Torah’s warning to the Kohein Gadol regarding his entry into the Holy of Holies to arouse mercy for Israel, “And let him not come at all times into the Holy Precinct” (Vayikra 16:2). In other words, the Torah adjures him to enter only with thoughts of holiness, especially on Yom Kippur, which is a time of favor. For this was the day that Israel received atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf, for which reason it was established as a day of forgiveness and atonement for all generations. Therefore it is forbidden for the Kohein Gadol to enter the Holy of Holies with alien thoughts emanating from the Sitra Achara, Heaven forbid.

6 ו

וְהִנֵּה כְּשֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל עוֹסְקִים בַּתּוֹרָה וּבַמִּצְווֹת, אֲזַי הַתִּקּוּן הוּא בִּימִינָא ובִשְׁלֵמוּתָא, בְּחֶדְוָה בְּיִחוּדָא חֲדָא. מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן כְּשֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל מִתְבַּטְּלִין מֵהַתּוֹרָה וּמִתְרַשְּׁלִים בְּקִיּוּם הַמִּצְווֹת וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים — רַק עֵינָיו הוּא צָרָה בַּחֲבֵרוֹ, וְכָל מַעֲשָׂיו הוּא פְּעֻלַּת שָׁוְא וָשֶׁקֶר, וְכָל מַעֲשָׂיו הוּא בְּעָרְמָה, וּמְחַלֵּל הַשֵּׁם בְּהַסָּגַת גְּבוּל. אוֹי וַאֲבוֹי כִּי אָז הַאי 'עֵת קַדִּישָׁא' בִּדְיוּטָא הַתַּחְתּוֹנָה, בַּעֲווֹנוֹתֵינוּ הָרַבִּים, וְהַשְּׁכִינָה הִיא אֵינָהּ בִּשְׁלֵימוּת וְאֵינָהּ בִּנְהוֹרָא רַבָּא, וְאָז כַּת הַפֻּרְעָנוּת הִיא מִתְגַּבֶּרֶת לְהַחֲזִיק יַד הָאֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, וְגוֹבְרִים יַד הָאֻמּוֹת עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל, וִידֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל יוֹרְדִים מַטָּה מַטָּה, וְכַמָּה רָעוֹת חַס וְשָׁלוֹם מִתְהַוִּים מִזֶּה. וּבְהַאי שַׁעְתָּא מַכְרִיזִים בַּשָּׁמַיִם: מִי הַיָּרֵא וְחָרֵד לִדְבַר ה' לֶאֱזֹר כְּגִבּוֹר חֲלָצָיו, לְהַחֲזִיק בְּתוֹרָתֵנוּ הַקְּדוֹשָׁה וְלַעֲשׂוֹת מִצְווֹת וּמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים וּלְזָרֵז אֶת הָרַבִּים לְקִיּוּם הַתּוֹרָה וּמִצְווֹת? וְעַכְשָׁו עֵת הַזָּמִיר הִגִּיעַ לְתִקּוּן הַשְּׁכִינָה! עֵת לַעֲשׂוֹת לַהֲבִיאָהּ אֶל דּוֹדָהּ! וְזֶהוּ הַסּוֹד 'עֵת לַעֲשׂוֹת לַה'' — לְתַקֵּן הַאי 'עֵת רָצוֹן' לְיַחֲדָא לְקֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא.

Now, when Israel engages in Torah study and observes the commandments, the rectification of the world is effected through Hashem’s right hand and in a complete way, with joy and unity. But this not the case when Israel slacks off in its studies and is remiss in its performance of the commandments and acts of lovingkindness, when they are jealous of one another and all their deeds are vanity and deceit, when the name of Heaven is desecrated through infringement. Then woe to them! For then the “time” of holiness sinks into the abyss, on account of our many sins. Then the Shechinah is no longer revealed in a whole way, nor does it radiate with great illumination. Then afflicting angels wax powerful, strengthening the hand of the other nations until they achieve dominion over Israel. Meanwhile Israel’s fortunes plummet, Heaven forbid, leading to numerous evil consequences. At that time it is announced in Heaven: “Who is the man who trembles at the word of Hashem? Let him gird his loins like a warrior to strengthen our holy Torah, to do mitzvos and good deeds and to urge the multitude to fulfill the Torah and the commandments! For the time of singing has arrived! It is time to bedeck the Shechinah to bring her to her beloved!” This is the concept of a “time to act for Hashem.” That is, one must work to rectify the “time of favor” to reunite it with the Holy One Blessed is He.

7 ז

אָתוּ רַבִּי יוֹסֵי וְרַבִּי חִיָּא וּנְשָׁקוּהוּ בְּרֵישָׁא וְאָמְרוּ: אִלְמָלֵא לֹא בָּאנוּ לָעוֹלָם אֶלָּא לְמִשְׁמָע דָּא — דַּיֵּנוּ. זַכָּאָה דָּרָא דְּרַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַאי, דַּאֲפִלּוּ בֵּינִי טוּרַיָּא חָכְמְתָא אִשְׁתַּכַּח תַּמָּן! וְאַחַר כָּךְ שְׁאִילוּ רַבִּי יוֹסֵי וְרַבִּי חִיָּא לְהַסּוֹחֵר: מַה שְּׁמָךְ? אָמַר לְהוּ: חָנָן. אָמְרוּ לֵיהּ: אֱלֹהִים יְחָנְךָ, בְּנִי, וְיִשְׁמַע אֱלֹהִים לְקוֹלְךָ בְּשַׁעְתָּא דְּתִצְטָרֵךְ לֵיהּ!

[When the merchant finished his discourse] Rabbi Yose and Rabbi Chiya came and kissed him upon the head, saying, “If we had not come into the world for any reason other than to hear this, it would have been enough for us. Fortunate is the generation of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai in which wisdom can be found even amidst the mountains!” Then they inquired, “What is your name?” He responded, “Chanan.” So they blessed him with the verse, “May God give you grace [yachnecha], my son” (Bereishis 43:29), adding, “May God hear your voice whenever you need Him.”

8 ח

אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי: הָא נָטָה שִׁמְשָׁא, וְהָכָא בָּתַר טוּרָא דָּא אִית כְּפָר קָטָן חַד עַל שְׁמָךְ. וְיִתְקָרֵי 'כְּפָר חָנָן'. וְהָלְכוּ שָׁם בַּלַּיְלָה וְלָעוּ בְּאוֹרַיְתָא וְגִלּוּ לָהֶם סוֹדוֹת הַרְבֵּה. עַיֵּן שָׁם בַּאֲרִיכוּת בַּזֹּהַר. וּבְתוֹךְ הַדְּבָרִים אָמַר, שֶׁיִּזָּהֵר הָאָדָם בָּהֶם: מַאן דְּאִתְעַדַּן עַל פְּתוֹרָא בְּתַעֲנוּגֵי מַאֲכָלִין — אִית לֵיהּ לְאַדְכָּרָא וְלִדְאֹג עַל קְדֻשַּׁת אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְעַל חֻרְבַּן בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ, וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא חָשִׁיב עֲלֵיהּ הַאי עֲצִיבוּ דְּאִיהוּ קָא מִתְעֲצִיב, כְּאִלּוּ בָּנָה בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ וְכָל חָרְבוֹת יְרוּשָׁלַיִם אִתְהַדְּרִין בְּבִנְיַן יֹפִי, זַכָּאָה חוּלָקֵיהּ!

Rabbi Yose said, “Behold, the sun is going down. Behind this mountain there is a little village called by your name, “the village of Chanan.” So they went there fore the night. They spent that night engaged in study, in the course of which the merchant revealed to them many secrets, as the Zohar relates at length. Among the things that he taught them were a number of practices that one should be careful to observe regarding mealtimes: First, when a person indulges himself at his table let him recall the sanctity of the land of Israel and fret over the destruction of the Holy Temple. Then the Holy One Blessed is He will reckon his anguish as if he himself rebuilt the Holy Temple and restored all the ruins of Jerusalem to their former state of glory. Fortunate is his lot!

9 ט

שֵׁנִית, כּוֹס שֶׁל בְּרָכָה יְקַבְּלֵם בִּשְׁתֵּי יָדַיִם תְּחִלָּה, וִיכַוֵּן כִּי שְׁתֵּי יָדָיו הֵן נֶגֶד אַבְרָהָם וְיִצְחָק: אַבְרָהָם הוּא סוֹד יַד יָמִין מִסִּטְרָא דְּחֶסֶד, וְיִצְחָק הוּא סוֹד יַד שְׂמֹאל מִסִּטְרָא דִּגְבוּרָה, וְהַכּוֹס שֶׁבֵּין שְׁתֵּי יָדָיו הוּא רֶמֶז לְיַעֲקֹב, שֶׁהוּא כָּלוּל מִשְּׁנֵי אָבוֹת, כַּיָּדוּעַ לְיוֹדְעֵי חֵ"ן.

Second, let the one reciting the Grace after Meals receive the cup of blessing with both hands, having in mind that they represent the two Patriarchs, Avraham and Yitzchak. Avraham corresponds to the right hand, the side of lovingkindness and Yitzchak to the left hand, the side of restraining might. The cup that is held between them represents Yaakov, who encompasses both of his forebears, as is known to the Kabbalists.

10 י

שְׁלִישִׁית, צָרִיךְ לִתֵּן עֵינָיו בְּכוֹס שֶׁל בְּרָכָה, וִיכַוֵּן בּוֹ, שֶׁכְּמוֹ כֵן יַשְׁגִּיחַ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּהַשְׁגָּחָה תְּדִירָא עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל, עַמָּא קַדִּישָׁא, וִיקֻיַּם בָּנוּ: עֵינֵי ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ בָּהּ מֵרֵאשִׁית הַשָּׁנָה.

Third, one must fix one’s eyes upon the cup and concentrate upon it. For in the same way does the Holy One Blessed is He continually keep watch over Israel, His holy nation. Through this we will merit the fulfillment of the verse, “The eyes of Hashem your God are upon [the land] from the beginning of the year.”

11 יא

רְבִיעִית, שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַלֶּחֶם עֲדַיִן עַל הַשֻּׁלְחָן, שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה הַשֻּׁלְחָן רֵיקָם, דְּהָא לֵית בִּרְכְּתָא מִשְׁתַּכַּח בְּדוּכְתָּא רֵיקָנַיָּא, וּבִפְרָט עַל פְּתוּרָא רֵיקָנַיָּא. וְזֶהוּ סוֹד מַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה, שֶׁהָיוּ מַעֲמִידִים כּוֹסוֹת מְלֵאִים סְבִיב כּוֹס הַבְּרָכָה. וְלָכֵן הִזְהִיר רַבֵּנוּ שְׁלֹמֹה לוּרְיָא, זִכְרוֹנוֹ לִבְרָכָה, שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲמִיד שׁוּם כְּלִי רֵיקָם עַל הַשֻּׁלְחָן בִּשְׁעַת בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן, כִּי אִם מְלֵאִים. וְהוֹאִיל וְאָתָא לְיָדָן מֵעִנְיְנֵי כֵּלִים רֵיקִים, אֵימָא בֵּיהּ מִלְּתָא לְהַזְהִיר הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהוּא בָּדוּק וּמְנֻסֶּה. וְלָכֵן שׁוֹמֵר נַפְשׁוֹ יַרְחִיק מִמֶּנּוּ.

Fourth, the bread must remain on the table at the time of the Grace so that the table is not empty, for blessing does not settle upon any place that is empty, especially not an empty table. This is the idea behind the custom described by the Sages in which they used to surround the cup of blessing with other full cups (Berachos 51a). For the same reason Rabbi Shlomo Luria, z”l, was careful not leave any empty vessel on the table at the time of the Grace but only full ones. Since we have already begun speaking about empty vessels I will mention another point about them concerning which the public should be made aware. It is tried and true and therefore anyone who cares for his soul should observe it.

12 יב

דַּע, כִּי הַזֹּהַר הִזְהִיר לְכָל אִישׁ וְאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר יִרְצוּ לֵילֵךְ לַדֶּרֶךְ אוֹ לֵילֵךְ לְהַשְּׂרָרָה, לְהִשְׁתַּדֵּל אֵיזֶה דָּבָר שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לוֹ. אִם יִפְגַּע בְּצֵאתוֹ מִבֵּיתוֹ כְּלִי רֵיקָם, אֲזַי לֹא יֵלֵךְ בְּאוֹתוֹ יוֹם לַדֶּרֶךְ וְלֹא לִשְׂרָרָה. וְהֵבִיא הַזֹּהַר רְאָיָה מֵאֵלִיָּהוּ הַנָּבִיא, שֶׁאָמַר לַשּׁוּנַמִּית: הֲיֵשׁ לָךְ מָה בַּבַּיִת? וַתֹּאמֶר: אָסוּךְ שֶׁמֶן. אָמַר הַנָּבִיא: הָא בְּוַדַּאי יָחוּל עָלַיךְ בְּרָכָה, מִמַּה דִּכְתִיב: כַּשֶּׁמֶן הַטּוֹב שֶׁיּוֹרֵד עַל הַרְרֵי צִיּוֹן, כִּי שָׁם צִוָּה ה' אֶת הַבְּרָכָה. מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן עַל כְּלִי רֵיקָם — תַּמָּן לֵית בִּרְכְּתָא וְכוּ'. וְלָכֵן צְרִיכִים גַּם כֵּן לְהָסִיר כֵּלִים רֵיקִים מֵהַשֻּׁלְחָן בִּשְׁעַת בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן, וְדַי בְּאַזְהָרָה זוֹ.

I refer to the Zohar’s warning that if any man or woman wishes to set out on a journey or to call on the authorities to tend to some matter and on the way out of the house he encounters an empty vessel, he should not go that day. The Zohar (1:88a; 2:87b, 157b) cites as proof a passage from II Melachim (4:2) in which the prophet Eliyahu asked the woman of Shunam if she had anything in the house. She replied that she had only a small jug of oil. This prompted the prophet to comment [according to the Sages], “That is surely something upon which a blessing can take effect, as it is written, ‘Like fine oil upon the head…like the dew of Chermon descending upon the mountains of Tziyon. For there Hashem has commanded the blessing, life for eternity’ (Tehillim 133:2-3).” Concerning an empty vessels, by contrast, it is said that blessing cannot settle upon it. Therefore one must remove the empty vessels from the table when the Grace is recited. This should be enough of a warning.

13 יג

הַנִּלְמָד מִזֶּה הַפֶּרֶק הוּא, דְּהַקְבָּלַת אוֹרְחִים הוּא גָּדוֹל מֵהַקְבָּלַת פְּנֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה. וְהַשֵּׁנִית, כְּשֶׁרוֹאֶה אָדָם אֵיזֶה דְּבַר מִצְוָה — שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לֶאֱזֹר כְּגִבּוֹר חֲלָצָיו לְקַיְּמֶנָּה וּלְעוֹרֵר גַּם אֲחֵרִים לְהַחֲזִיק הַמִּצְווֹת. שְׁלִישִׁית, צָרִיךְ הָאָדָם לִזָּהֵר, אַף שֶׁהוּא חָשׁוּב וְלַמְדָן, צָרִיךְ לִנְהֹג כָּבוֹד בְּכָל אָדָם. וּרְאָיָה מֵרַבִּי יוֹסֵי וְרַבִּי חִיָּא, שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ כָּבוֹד בְּהַהוּא טַיְעָא, דַּהֲוֵי שְׁמוֹ חָנָן, וּלְבַסּוֹף בֵּרְכוּ גַּם כֵּן אוֹתוֹ, וְלֹא נָהֲגוּ גַּאֲוָה בִּנְשִׂיאוּתָם. גַּם צָרִיךְ הָאָדָם לְהִזָּהֵר בְּאַרְבָּעָה דְּבָרִים שֶׁכָּתַבְתִּי בִּשְׁעַת הַמִּנְהַג סְעֻדָּה, וְעִקָּר — שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה כְּלִי רֵיקָם עַל הַשֻּׁלְחָן בִּשְׁעַת בִּרְכַּת הַמָּזוֹן, וְאָז יְמַלֵּא בִּרְכַּת ה' בְּכוֹס הַבְּרָכָה, כִּי שָׁם צִוָּה ה' אֶת הַבְּרָכָה.

The main lessons to be derived from this chapter are: 1) That receiving wayfarers is greater than receiving the Shechinah. 2) That when one sees a commandment that needs doing one must gird one’s loins like a warrior to fulfill it and to urge others to do so as well. 3) That one must be careful, even if one is learned, to treat every man respectfully. The proof to this is the way that Rabbi Yose and Rabbi Chiya treated the merchant, Chanan. In the end they even blessed him and they certainly did not lord over him. Additionally, one must be careful to observe the four practices that I mentioned in connection with meals, the most important of which being that no empty vessel should remain on the table at the time that Grace After Meals is recited. Then Hashem’s blessing will fill the cup of blessing, “For there Hashem has commanded the blessing.”