Monday, 12 May 2008

Zohar Parshas Behar - Charity Saves From Death





Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yossi – these friends - were walking along the road. They encountered a mountain. They found two men that were walking along the road. Meanwhile, they saw a person coming and arriving by the two men, and he said to them “Please I request from you a favor, would you give me bread to eat, for it has been two days that I have been wandering astray in the desert and I have not eaten a thing.”

One of the two men slipped aside and went away from him on the side and took out his food that he had brought for his provisions along the way and he gave it to him. And he fed him and gave him to drink. His friend said to him, “What will you do if you need food? Since I am going to eat my food and I will not give you of my food.” He - his friend said to him, “And what do you think, do I rely upon your food to go along the way?” That poor man sat next to him until he had eaten all that he had by him, and the bread that was still left over he gave to the poor man for the journey, and he went on his way.

Rabbi Chiya said to Rabbi Yossi, “The Holy One Blessed be He did not want this thing – this Mitzvah – to be done by us.” Rabbi Yossi said to Rabbi Chiya, “Perhaps a certain judgment had been decreed on this person, and the Holy One Blessed be He wanted to arrange before him this Mitzvah in order to save him.”

While they were walking along the way, the man who had given the poor man bread, became weary and tired on account of his hunger. His friend said to him, “Didn’t I say to you that you shouldn’t give your bread to this other?” Rabbi Chiya said to Rabbi Yossi, “Let us give our bread that we have by us, to him to eat. Rabbi Yossi said to Rabbi Chiya, “Do you want to take away from him the merit? For his merit is much greater – for according to the pain, so is the reward, and the main way of his salvation is that even in his distress he should not regret his Mitzvos. Let us go and see, for certainly the form of this man’s face beholds the appearance of death – this means to say that the decree of death has been decreed upon him. And the Holy One Blessed be He wants to arrange for him the merit of the Mitzvah in order to save him from death.”

Meanwhile that man sat and slept under a tree, and his friend distanced himself from him and sat somewhere else. Rabbi Yossi said to Rabbi Chiya, “Now let us sit and watch, that certainly the Holy One Blessed be He wants to perform a miracle for him!” They arose and waited there.

Meanwhile they saw a wild animal [rattle-snake?] filled with flames of anger standing next to him. Rabbi Chiya said to Rabbi Yossi, “Woe to that man for he is about to die!” and they didn’t have the ability to save him. Rabbi Yossi said to Rabbi Chiya, “Fortunate is this man that the Holy One Blessed be He will perform a miracle for him!”

Meanwhile another snake descended from the tree and wanted to kill that man. The wild creature arose and killed it [the other snake.] And afterwards the wild creature [rattle-snake?] turned it’s head and went away.

Rabbi Yossi said to Rabbi Chiya, “Didn’t I say to you that the Holy One Blessed be He wanted to perform a miracle for him, and that you shouldn’t diminish his merits from him by giving him food?” Meanwhile that man awoke, got up and went onwards. Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yossi grabbed him and gave him to eat. After he ate they showed him the miracle that the Holy One Blessed be He performed for him.

Rabbi Yossi opened and said, [to explain what is written] (Tehillim 37:3) “Trust in G‑d and do good, dwell in the land and shepherd faith.” And he said, “Fortunate is the portion of a person who does good from what is his, and not from stolen things, for he awakens the flow of Yesod which is called good, to bestow good to the Congregation of Israel which is Malchus. And with what does he awaken the good? And he said, “Through the strength of the merit of Tzedakkah [charity.]” For when Tzeddakah – which is Yesod HaTiferes – the Foundation of Beautyis awoken to bestow through Yesod, then the good – which is the Yesodis awoken to bestow to the Malchus [Kingship] towards the Congregation of Israel.

And about this it is written, (Mishlei 10:2) “And Tzeddakah saves from death.” What is the reason that through charity one is saved from death? Because Tzeddakah is the Tree of Life which is the Tiferes of Z”A [the Beauty of Zeir Anpin] which bestows abundance to Yesod, and it awakens the tree of death, which is the Malchus to sweeten it’s judgments, whose decrees are death, and also her legs descend to death. And it takes those who hold on to it by means of bestowing an abundance of life and converts from death to life, and it’s decrees are nullified. And it saves them from death. And all of this comes about through Tzeddakah. If so, who causes the Tree of Life which is Tiferes that it should awaken to this to sweeten the judgments of Malchus? Say it is the charity that a person does, so to speak, it is considered to him as if he did it above. This means to say that he rectified Malchus above, that it should unify with Z”A which is called the Tree of Life. Like it says, (Tehillim 106:3) “Do Tzeddakah at every moment,” for he rectifies through charity the Malchus which is called “Eit” [a time], through the Yesod which is called “Kol” [every.] And so we have learned this matter fittingly.

And this that it says “Trust in G-d,” that He will give you sufficient for your lack, “And do good,” means – that you should give charity for the rectification of Yesod. And through this you will be saved from death, and then “Dwell in the land,” that you will be in this world, “And shepherd faith,” and you will merit many more Mitzvos in the merit of faith.


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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