The Fourth Palace of the Sitra Achra Is Demerit, Corresponding to the Miry Clay, and Corresponding to the Stumbling Stone

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882) The fourth palace is called “demerit.” It is the Miry Clay opposite another name of the evil inclination, Stumbling Stone, and it is all one. It is called Demerit because all the iniquities of the world are there, the sentencing of iniquities.

883) When people sin, all the evokers of judgment and sentencing take the iniquities and place them in the palace of demerit, and all the Mitzvot in the world, all the holy angels appointed over the merits of the world take those Mitzvot and place them in the fourth palace of Kedusha called Zechut [Merit]. The Mitzvot of people are there, while the iniquities are in another palace, called Demerit, and they are weighed together at the beginning of the year for “God has made them one opposite the other.” And according to the decision of Mitzvot or iniquities, to this side or to that side, so is the winner. If there are more iniquities, the Sitra Achra wins. If there are more MitzvotKedusha wins.

884) Therefore, on Rosh Hashanah [New Year’s Eve], when those two sides—merit and demerit—awaken, life and death depend on them. If the merits sentence to the side called “merit,” a person is written on the side called “life,” since those two sides stand on that day one on this side, and one on that side. If a person is rewarded and the merits win, he is inscribed for life because the holy side, called “merit,” grips to him. Then life grips him and says, “This one is mine and was mine,” and that person is inscribed for life.

885) If the iniquities win, the impure Sitra Achra, who is called “demerit,” and “death,” grips him and says, “This one is mine and was mine,” and then it is written that he is his. On Rosh Hashanah a person is written for life or for death. If he is written on the side of Kedusha, he is written for life, exists there, and clings to it. If he is written in the Sitra Achra, he exists on the side of Tuma’a, which is death, and clings to it. This is the meaning of “For life or death,” for he is drawn either to this side or to that side.

886) As long as he stands on the side of Kedusha, all the Kedushot and all the purities cling to him. He calls, and the Creator will listen and heed him. It is written about him, “He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him, and I will honor him. With a long life shall I satisfy him, and I will show him My salvation.” As long as he stands on the impure side, all the Tuma’a and all the evils cling to him. He calls, but there is no one to hear him; he is remote from the Creator. It is written about him, “Salvation is far from the wicked.” It is also written, “Even when you pray aplenty, I will not hear.”

887) That palace is the place of all who are called “other gods,” since they appear here. Also, here are all who incite people into worldly pleasures, fornication, to delighting in the delights of worldly adultery, luring them after pleasures and adultery of this world.

888) In this palace, one strong spirit governs everyone. He, too, is called El, like the spirit in the fourth palace on the side of Kedusha. It is a foreign god, who incites a person who engages in Torah or is standing in the seminary, and the person thinks several thoughts. The spirit says, “It is best to go into a society that is arrogant toward people, who follow beautiful women, and who delight in worldly pleasures.” Once a person has been lured after him, all the spirits roam and go and are drawn after him.

889) Several other spirits stand under the spirit, and all of them defile in this world and in that world. Those spirits are called “boiling feces,” as it is written, “‘Get out [Tzeh],’ you shall say to it,” which is from the word Tzoah [feces] enticing a person out of the seminary and from Kedusha, into worldly pleasures. These are the degrees that are always poised to defile.

890) In the middle of the palace is a spirit called Affliction. A spirit comes out of him, called “the affliction, Leprosy,” which is always poised to defile every slanderer more than he is defiled in the third palace. The upper affliction is appointed over all those Sabbath tables, since when the Sabbath enters and the table is not being set with Sabbath delights as it should be, despising the Sabbath, that affliction takes those tables on which there are no delights of the Sabbath.

891) And when the affliction takes those tables, all the instigators of Din and laws that are standing there begin and say, “He loved a curse, and it came to him; he did not delight in blessing, and it drew far from him. And he clothed himself in a curse as with a garment.” “Let the creditor seize all that he has, and strangers will loot his labor. Let there be none to extend kindness unto him.”

892) On that Sabbath night, when the tables were given to the evil side, the impure evil side grows stronger and the person is given over to the other side. Woe unto him who was taken off from the side of Kedusha, the side of faith, and was given to the other, impure side. It is likewise on all the meals of a good day.

893) In that palace, sons, life, and food are inverted, depriving those three from people. In the fourth, holy palace, there are no sons, life, and food, and they are hanging above. Here they are for the worse, since when a person reaches this palace, there is life there, to obliterate it. And there are sons there, when they are small, as from here the spirit comes out to be appointed as slandering them. And there is food there, to take it away from the man. It is all for the worse, and it is all hanging in demerit, in iniquities. This is why this palace is called Demerit.

894) From here, an impure spirit comes out, Ariria, with several thousand and tens of thousands with him. They are all called “Cursers of the day.” That spirit, and all who are with him, are all poised to take that word that a person curses himself in his anger, and they evoke the serpent called “Leviathan, the slant serpent,” to bring and evoke curses upon the world.

895) Those cursers of the day rule over the minutes and the hours of the day. This is why they are called “cursers of the day.” They take those words that a person cursed himself, whether in anger or in an oath, and with that word evoke the slant serpent, who is called Leviathan, to position him so he damages the world. This is why in his anguish, Job cursed his day and not his body, so they would not grip to his words, since first it is written, “And he cursed his day,” and then it is written, “Let those who curse the day curse it.”

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