A Man with an Inscription in His Face

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343) Rabbi Aba and Rabbi Yosi were walking. They saw a man with an inscription in his face. Rabbi Aba said, “Let us turn from this road because the face of this one testifies that he has breached the nakedness in the Torah.” Rabbi Yosi said, “If the inscription is since he was a child, what nakedness was with him at the time?” He replied to him, “I see that his face testifies that he has breached the nakedness in the Torah.”

344) Rabbi Aba called him. He said to him, “What is that inscription in your face?” He said to them, “Please, do not punish that man further, for his iniquities have caused him that inscription. Me and my sister were at a hotel and we were intoxicated by wine, and that whole night I held my sister. In the morning, the hotel owner had a row with another man. I interfered in order to separate them and they both beat me, and that inscription entered my brain, and I was saved by a physician who was among us.”

345) “Who is the physician?” “Rabbi Shamlai.” “What cure did he give you?” “The healing of the soul. Since that day I have repented. Each day I saw my face in one appearance, unchanged, and I wept before the Creator for that iniquity and washed my face with these tears.” Rabbi Aba said, “If repentance had not been denied from you, I would have removed that inscription from your face. But I call on you, ‘Your iniquity is removed and your sin atoned.’ Say it three times.” He said it three times and the inscription was gone.

346) Rabbi Aba said, “It must be that your Master wanted to remove the inscription from you, for you must have been in repentance.” He replied to him, “I vow, from this day forth, to engage in Torah day and night.” Rabbi Aba asked, “What is your name?” “Elazar,” he told him. El Azar [God helped], the name must be the cause that your God helped you and was with you.

347) Another time, Rabbi Aba went to Rabbi Shimon. He entered his city and found that man in whom there was the inscription, sitting and studying the text. An ignorant man will not know and a fool will not understand it. There are fools in the world who do not notice and do not know, and do not observe to know the ways of the Creator. Why are they in the world? Who detains them from recognizing their folly? It is because they do not engage in Torah. If they engaged in Torah, they would know the ways of the Creator.

348) “A fool will not understand it.” He is not looking and does not know the conducts of “this,” Malchut, in the world. Although the Creator judges the world with His Dinim [judgments], and people see the Dinim of “this” coming over righteous and not coming over the sinful wicked who breach the words of Torah, as it is written, “When the wicked blossom as grass,” inheriting this world on all its sides, and Dinim do not come to them in this world, and people do not know why.

We would not know had King David not informed at the end of the verse, “That they may be destroyed forever.” That is, He pays them the reward for their good deeds in this world in order to obliterate them from that world, where they will be dust under the feet of the righteous, as it is written, “And you shall tread down the wicked,” as they will be ash under your feet.

349) Happy is he who engages in Torah to know the ways of the Creator. Anyone who engages in Torah, it is as though he engages in His very name. As the name of the Creator executes conducts in the world, so does the Creator. One who has breached the words of Torah, the Torah ascends and descends and makes inscriptions in a man’s face so that upper and lower will look at him, and all pour down curses on his head. It is written about it, “And my leanness rises up against me, it testifies to my face.” These are the Reshimot [inscriptions] that the Torah makes in his face.

350) All these are the eyes of the Creator, angels of Providence, who walk and roam the world to know ways of people. They all carry their eyes and look at the face of that man. They see him and all say about him, “Woe.” Woe to him in this world, and woe to him in the next world, raise around so and so because the testimony is in his face that the spirit of Tuma’a is on him, as it is written, “And my leanness rises up against me, it testifies to my face.” And all those days that the inscription is in his face as testimony, if he begets a son, he draws for him a spirit from the side of Tuma’a. These are the insolent wicked of the generation, whose Master leaves in this world in order to consume them in the next world.

351) The Creator draws a thread of Hesed [grace/mercy] on a worthy righteous who engages in Torah day and night. It is inscribed in his face, and upper and lower fear that inscription. Just so, the spirit of Tuma’a is drawn over one who breaches the words of Torah, and it is inscribed in his face. Upper and lower flee from him, and all declare about him, “Raise around so and so, for he has breached the words of Torah and the commandments of his Master.” Woe to him and woe to his soul. He draws the spirit of Tuma’a that is with him and bequeaths it to his son. This is the one in whom the Creator has no portion, and He leaves him so as to consume him in the next world.

352) All his sons inherit that evil inheritance of the spirit of Tuma’a, if they do not repent, since nothing can withstand repentance. I was once given that healing, that repentance, when I was inscribed in my face. One day I was walking along the way and met a worthy one. Through him, that inscription was removed from me. He said to me, “What is your name?” I told him, “Elazar,” and he called on me another Elazar. Rabbi Aba said to him, “Bless the Lord that I have seen you so. Happy are you in this world and in the next world. I am the one who met you.”

353) He fell down before him. That man, Elazar, brought him to his home and made before him three measures of bread and a three year old calf. After they ate, that man said to him: “Rabbi, tell me one thing. I had a red cow, the calf’s mother, whose meat we are eating. One day, before she conceived and gave birth, I followed her to the pasture, to the desert.

“And while I was leading her, a man walked past me. He said to me, ‘What is the name of this cow?’ I said, ‘Since the day she was born I had not named her.’ He replied, ‘She is called Bat-Sheba, Solomon’s mother, if you are rewarded with atonement for your iniquities.’ And I, while I was turning my head, I did not see him. I laughed at that thing.

354) “And now that I have been rewarded with the Torah, I awoke over that thing. And since the day when Rabbi Shamlai passed away from here there has not been anyone to enlighten us in the Torah like him, and I am afraid to say words of Torah that I did not learn. And that thing which the man said to me, I observed that it is a word of wisdom, and I don’t know.” He said to him, “It is indeed a word of wisdom, a sublime intimation above and below.”

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