ZOHAR PARSHAT VA'ETCHANAN
With Matok Midvash Commentary
Daf 267b (104-108 in Matok Midvash)
SINGING AT THE TIME OF THE RESURRECTION
HUMBLING THE EVIL INCLINATION WITH THE FIRE OF TORAH
And these words that I am commanding you today should be upon your heart. In order to explain this verse Rabbi Yitzchak opened and preceded to explain what is written, (Psalms 35:10) “All my limbs will say ‘G-d who is like You – deliverer of the poor from one who is stronger than he, and the poor and the destitute from the one who robs him?’” King David said this verse with Holy Spirit as he did all the book of Psalms. There is to ask what it means “All my limbs will say.” For what did he see that his bones should say song? And it answers, rather this verse speaks at the future time that the Holy One Blessed be He will resurrect the dead, and in the future time that the Holy One Blessed be He will repair and vitalize the bones that already decayed in the dust, and to bring close and join every bone to its place. (All the resurrection will be to the bones, but as for the flesh, the Holy One Blessed be He will create anew.) As it is written regarding the dead [in the vision] of Ezekiel, (Ezekiel 37:7) “And the bones drew near, each bone to its [matching] bone.” And it is also written, (Isaiah 58:11) “And your bones will strengthen,” i.e. will strengthen and become healthy at the resurrection of the dead, then at the time in the future they, the bones, will say song!
What song will they say? And it says, (Exodus 15:11) “G-d who is like You” who performs wonders? And this song will be superior and more important than that one that
As for what is written, “He saves the poor from the one who is stronger than he,” this is that the Holy One Blessed be He saves the good inclination which is poor, from the evil inclination which is stronger than it. Since the evil inclination is strong like a stone, as it is written, (Ezekiel 36:26) “And I will remove the heart of stone,” which is spoken about the evil inclination, and the good inclination is soft like flesh, as it is written, (ibid) “And I shall give to you a heart of flesh,” that this is spoken about the good inclination.
Come and see, the evil inclination – to what can it be compared? At the time that it comes to attach to a person it is as strong as iron, and it is very difficult to overcome it, until one immerses it in the fire of Torah, i.e. one humbles it through studying Torah. After it warms itself in the fire of Torah, everything returns to be fire. This means that in reality if one will not listen to the evil inclination, then it will not be able to overwhelm him, on the contrary it advocates good for him. And our Rabbis have said about it, if it is iron it will explode. But after it is warmed through sin, the evil inclination becomes completely like a burning fire and it punishes in the fire of Gehinnom [purgatory].
(As is brought in Tractate Kiddushin 30b, “If this ugly-one meets you (Rashi: The evil inclination incites you), pull him into the House of Study. If he is stone, he will be softened, and if he is iron, he will shatter (Rashi: The Torah is compared to fire which penetrates the iron – as it says ‘Surely my words are like fire, says G-d.’))
Rabbi Chiya said, the evil inclination – when it comes to attach itself to a person, it is compared to a person that is walking along the way and he draws close to the entrance of a house. Since he gets close to the entrance and he sees that nobody protests [against] him from entering, he enters the house and makes himself a guest. When he sees that nobody is protesting [against] him to throw him out of the house to go on his way, he appoints himself over the house and becomes the owner of the house [Daf 268a]: until it is found that the entire house is under his dominion.
From where do we learn this matter? And it says, from the Parsha [section] of David. What is written concerning King David? (Samuel II 12:4) “And a wayfarer – a poor man coming along the way came to a wealthy man” And he is called “A wayfarer” because he drew close to the entrance and did not want to delay there but rather to he wants to go on his way.
So is the evil inclination – just like the wayfarer that approaches the house, so too the evil inclination approaches a person. He awakens him to do a little sin (like the saying of our Sages (Shabbat 105b) – “And so is the craft 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 ‘serve idols’ and he goes and worships.” This is only an incidental way. When it sees that nobody protests it and a person does the sin willingly, what is written also there – to do to the guest who comes to him i.e. the wayfarer becomes a guest who lodges in the house. And the allegory is that the evil inclination awakens him to seduce him to sin one more day or two days. Like this guest that dwells in his house one day or two days. Since he sees that nobody protests against him, what is written? (Ibid) “To do for the man – האיש [visitor] who had come to him.” Already the guest is called a man i.e. he becomes the owner of the house, like is says, (Genesis 42:30) “The man – האיש , the master of the land.” And it is also written, (Ruth 1:3) “The husband – איש of Naomi” which indicates ownership and importance. So too the evil inclination corresponds to a person who becomes the owner of the house. And then a person connects to its – the inclinations – service. And he does its will.
And therefore a person needs to place upon himself the words of the Torah constantly i.e. that he should never stop studying Torah ever, in order that the evil inclination will be broken through them [the words of Torah.] For there is no prosecutor against the evil inclination that will humble it save for the words of Torah. (As our Sages say (Kiddushin 30b) ‘I have created the evil inclination. I have created for it the Torah as an antidote [lit: spices.]) And about this it is said, “And these words that I am commanding you today should be upon your heart – לבבך.” This means the words of Torah should be upon your two inclinations, the good inclination and the evil inclination. [The ordinary expression would be לבך – your heart. Since this expression is written with two of the letter “Beit”, our Rabbis teach that the verse is coming to teach us that the words of Torah must be brought to both aspects of our hearts – the good and the bad.] And it explains, the good inclination is crowned and perfected through them, through the occupation of Torah (like a person who is crowned with a royal crown which is the complete perfection of a person,) and the evil inclination is humbled through them.
And Rabbi Yehuda didn’t hear what Rabbi Yitzchak concluded, that the good inclination is crowned through them and the evil inclination is humbled through them. Rabbi Yehuda said, he asked Rabbi Yitzchak, the good inclination – why does it need the words of Torah? He, Rabbi Yitzchak, said to him, the good inclination is crowned through them and is perfected through them, and the evil inclination, since it sees that a person doesn’t repent, and he doesn’t want to occupy himself in Torah, then he ascends upwards and accuses guilt upon him. This is what is written, (Proverbs 3:35) “And the fools generate – מרים - disgrace,” for the sinner is called a fool, and he lifts the prosecutor – who informs his shame and his sin – upwards and prosecutes him. [The word מרים indicates lifting something up. Although it is translated as ‘generate’ it actually means ‘to lift up’ i.e. the fool causes the prosecutor to ascend with his shameful remarks about one who refuses to occupy himself in Torah i.e. the fool.]
NOTES TO SIGNS USED IN FORMATTING:
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.