If Thou Faint in the Day of Adversity

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179) “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small indeed.” “If thou faint” means one whose hands faint by the Creator, so as to not grow stronger in Him. And how does one grow stronger in the Creator? By growing strong in the Torah, for one who grows stronger in the Torah, grows stronger in the tree of life, as though he gives strength to the assembly of Israel, which is Divinity, to grow stronger.

180) If he is idle in the Torah, it is written, “If thou faint…” if he is weak in the Torah, “in the day of adversity, thy strength is small indeed,” meaning that on the day when adversity comes, he will seemingly push Divinity, which is the force of the world. “…thy strength,” [in Hebrew] is an acronym for Koah [Strength] and Koh(5) [Thus]. Koh is the name of Divinity, and “small is thy strength” means that he restrains the force of Divinity, called Koh.

181) When a person is idle in the Torah and goes by an improper way, several enemies may come upon him in the day of adversity. Moreover, even man’s soul, which is his strength and authority, will become his enemy and turn against him, as it is written, “small is thy strength.” This is because she has become his enemy and foe. “…small is thy strength” relates to the soul, which is man’s strength.

182) When a man walks by the path of Torah, and all his ways are proper and correct, several advocates stand by him, to speak favorably of him. It is written, “If there be for him an angel, an intercessor…” but is not everything revealed before the Creator? Does He need an angel to tell Him good or bad?

183) Of course He needs an angel, even though He knows everything. This is so in order to evoke mercy, since when man has several advocates to mention his merits before the Creator, and he has none to speak unfavorably of him, “then He is gracious unto him, and says: ‘Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom.’”

184) It is written, “If there be for him an angel…” It would be good if it did not write more. But it writes, “an intercessor, one among a thousand.” Thus, we need to know who he is. And he says, “this is the angel that is appointed to being at a man’s left side. It is written, “A thousand may fall at Thy side.” This is the left side. Afterwards, it writes, “and ten thousand at Thy right hand,” meaning that the previously written “Thy side” was the left side.

185) But one out of a thousand is the evil inclination, which is one of those 1,000 damagers, which stand at the left, because he rises up and takes permission, and subsequently descends and puts to death. Hence, if a man walks on the path of truth, that evil inclination becomes his slave, as it is written, “Better is he that is a lowly one who has a servant.” At that time, he rises and becomes an advocate and speaks before the Creator in favor of the man. And then the Creator says, “Deliver him from going down to the pit.”

186) Yet, the evil inclination does not return empty handed, since it is given another person to control, instead, and to take his soul from him. Since that person’s sins have been put forward and he was caught for them, he becomes the ransom for the person who was saved, as it is written, “I have found ransom to redeem him.”

187) “I have found ransom.” The Creator says to the angel, “that advocacy, which you said about that person, will be a ransom for him to redeem him, so he will not go down to hell and die.” For this reason, one should walk in the path of truth, so his prosecutor will become his advocate.

188) Such as that are Israel on the day of atonement. They give a scapegoat to the evil inclination, which is Sam’el, and occupy themselves with it until it becomes their slave and rises and testifies to the Creator and becomes their advocate. It is about this evil inclination that Solomon said, “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat.”

189) For this reason, in the day of adversity, when one is idle in the Torah, he seemingly pushes the Creator toward the evil inclination, which becomes man’s slanderer, to hear his slander. Thus, this is a day of adversity. And then it is said, “thy strength is small indeed,” which is an acronym for Tzar [narrow], Koah [strength], and Koh [YodHey]. It restrains the strength of Divinity, called Koh, since the evil inclination draws near the Creator in order to slander, and the strength of Divinity weakens because of the slandering.

190) “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble.” What is “a day of trouble”? It is Jacob, when Esau came to slander against him. “…and He knows them that take refuge in Him,” when the trouble of the Din of Rachel’s death came upon him.

191) The slanderer is not over man, except in a time of danger. Because Jacob was late to keep the vow that he took before the Creator, the Din prevailed over Jacob through the slanderer, who demanded him sentenced at the time when Rachel was in danger. He said before the Creator, “But Jacob made a vow and did not pay. He is greater than all in wealth, in sons, and in all that is needed, but he did not complete the vow he had taken before You, and You did not receive a punishment from him. Immediately, “and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labor,” since the Din above, with the angel of death, was harsh upon him.

192) “If thou hast not wherewith to pay, why should he take away thy bed from under thee?” This is why Rachel died, and the judgment was passed by the angel of death.

193) When Esau came, Jacob “put the handmaids and their children foremost,” since he feared for Rachel, so that that wicked would not see her beauty and desire her.

194) It is also written, “Then the handmaids came near, they and their children.” The women were before the men. But what does it say about Rachel? “…and afterwards Joseph came near and Rachel,” that is, Joseph went before his mother, covering and hiding her. This is why it is written, “Joseph son of Porat,” for he augmented his body and covered his mother. “…over the eye”—the eye of that wicked, so he would not gaze upon her.

195) Here Rachel was punished by the evil inclination, who slandered at the time of danger, and Jacob was punished for not keeping his vow. And this was harder for Jacob than all the troubles he had endured. And how do we know that Rachel’s death was because of Jacob? Because it is written, “Rachel died unto me,” for I was late keeping my vow.

196) “…the curse that is causeless shall not come.” It is explained that it is “not” with a Vav [which means “for him”]. This indicates that if it is a curse of a righteous, even if he did not at all intend to curse, once the curse comes of his mouth, the evil inclination receives it and slanders with it at a time of danger.

197) Jacob said, “With whomsoever thou finds thy gods, he shall not live.” And even though he did not know that Rachel stole them, Satan received that thing which is always among men, and in the time of danger, slandered against him. This is why we learn that one should never open one’s mouth to the devil, for he takes that word and slanders with it above and below. It is even more so if the word comes from the mouth of a sage or a righteous. And Rachel was punished for those two: 1) because he was late keeping his vow; and 2) because of the curse he had uttered.


(5) Koh, written in Hebrew with the letters Chaf-Hey, is a common way to write YH, part of the YodHeyVavHey. Because it is uncustomary to spell it as Yod and Hey, the Chaf replaces the Yod.

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