Monday, 7 April 2008

Zohar Parshas Metzora - The Tongue - A Weapon as Sharp as a Sword!

Daf 52b

[A person who had committed various sins, such as Lashon Hara – bad and negative speech, would be afflicted with a spiritual disease known as “Tzaraas” – translated as “leprosy”. As a result of the affliction, the person was sent outside the camp, to spend time alone from others. The Kohen would go outside the camp to the afflicted person to check on his progress of healing. When the “leprosy” had healed, the leprous person would be required to follow a procedure administered by the Kohen and thereafter once again be allowed into the camp.]

[In our passage, a verse concerning the reply (reaction) of Job towards the 3 friends who criticise him for his apparent and alleged evil ways, is quoted. The friends believe that Job is being punished appropriately for some bad behavior. Job, however, replies to them to be cautious with their words. If indeed it is true that ones bad behaviour could cause Hashem to effect such judgments against Job, surely they themselves should be cautious with their most hurtful words. They should surely be careful to realise that in fact their harmful speech towards him will awaken judgments against themselves!]

And G-d spoke to Moses saying. This will be the law of the leprous person on the day of his purification etc. and he shall be brought to the Kohen. In order to understand this verse, Rabbi Abba opened and proceeded to explain what is written “Fear for yourselves for the sword, for the anger of sin will bring the sword in order that you will know that there is judgment (שדון). The way the text is read is שדון with the letter “Vav”. The way the text is written is שדין, with the letter “Yud”. It’s explanation is that there is Supernal Judgment, which are the judgments of Malchus, that judges those that transgress the words of Torah (as we will learn later.)

And he preceded and said “How much should people guard their ways,” as in the way of “sanctify yourselves with what is permitted to you,” that it not be treated lightly. “And to fear the Holy One blessed be He” that one should not come from what is permitted to actually committing a sin, “not to turn away from the correct and upright path, and not to transgress the words of the Torah, and not to forget it.” Since it is as our rabbis say (Shabbat 105b) “Such is the way of the evil inclination. Today it says to him ‘do such and such.’ And tomorrow it says to him ‘do such and such.’ Until it says to him ‘go and serve idols,’ and he goes and serves!” Therefore a person needs to guard himself from [committing] small infractions in order that he does not come to [commit] great violations [of the Torah.]

Anybody who does not toil in the Torah, and put in effort in it, to study with intensity and put in effort to fulfil it, he is reprimanded from the Holy One blessed be He. He is distanced from Him, because the Shechina [InDwelling Presence of G-d] does not rest with him. And those angels of guarding [guardian angels] that go with a person, that it is said about them “For He will instruct His angels in your behalf to guard you in all your ways,” leave him. And not only this, but they announce before him and say “Go away from surrounding this person because he does not fear the honor of his Creator.” Woe to him! For the Supreme Ones above – the Holy One blessed be He and the Shechina, and the lower ones – the guardian angels, have left him. He has no portion in the path of life.

And when he strives in the service of his Master, and he toils in the Torah with intensity, how many guardian angels are ready opposite him to guard him. And the Shechina rests upon him. And everybody announces before him and says “Give honor to the image of the King. Give honor to the son of the King.” He is guarded in this world and in the world to come. Happy is his portion!

Come and see the Lashon Hara that the snake said to the woman about the Holy One blessed be He, as it says “And the snake said to the woman… for G-d knows that on the day you eat from it [the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and bad,] your eyes will be opened and you will be like G-d knowing good and bad. And Rashi explains that he said to her that G-d ate from the tree and created the world. He caused a decree of death to be issued against the woman, the man and the entire world. About Lashon Hara it is written, “And their tongue is a sharp sword,” (Tehillim 57:5) that it kills and damages like a sharp sword. Because of this it is written “Fear for yourselves for the sword,” meaning be afraid on account of Lashon Hara which is called the sword.

And as it is written “The anger of sin [brings] the sword,” he asks, “What does this mean ‘The anger of sin [brings] the sword’? Which sword is being spoken about? And it answers “This is the sword of G-d.” And this is what is taught, the Holy One blessed be He has a sword which is the secret of the judgments of Malchus which is also called a sword, that through it He judges the wicked. This is what is written “The sword of G-d is filled with blood.” (Yeshaya 34:6). The sword of G-d is filled with the blood of those killed. And it is also written “And my sword shall devour flesh,” that the sword of the Holy One blessed be He will kill and devour the flesh of the “enemies of Israel.” (Devarim 32:42). And because of this it is written, “Fear for yourselves because of the sword.” Be afraid because of the judgments of Malchus which punishes the sin of Lashon Hara which is called a sword. “For the anger of sins [brings] the sword.” This means that Malchus is filled with anger because of the Lashon Hara, in order that you will know that there is judgment – as is the written text "שדין" in the world. This is Malchus which is the master of law [judgment]. In order that you will know that such is the [case for] one who has a sword in his tongue judged i.e. someone who speaks Lashon Hara, that it prepares for him a sword that consumes everything. This is what is written “This shall be the law of the Metzora,” which means the Malchus which is called “This”, judges the one who speaks badly i.e. the one who speaks Lashon Hara, that there is brought to him plagues.


Bold print: Original Zohar
Ordinary text: Matok Midvash
[Square brackets]: Eliyahu ben Pinchas

(Round brackets): Either the source being quoted e.g. Proverbs etc., or alternatively used to quote the kabbalistic language as discussed in Matok Midvash. The Matok Midvash formats the Nigleh side of things in an ordinary print, and the Nistar terminology in Rashi script. I’ve therefore put the Rashi script – the Nistar terminology in round brackets.

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