Conveyance of Leah's Higher Wisdom

From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky

Kabbalah details the manner of imparting divine consciousness unto a developing world.

In this week's Torah reading, the commandment to appoint a king is given. Among the laws concerning kings, is the prohibition that "he should not have many wives" (Deut. 17:17).

As is known, our sages state that [this means that] a king is permitted to have [up to] eighteen wives. (Sanhedrin 21)

This is based on the fact that when King David had six wives, and G‑d told him, "I would add to these similarly and similarly again." (Samuel II 12:8)

I would like to explain this number.

Know that the [facet of the] intellect that Zeir Anpin receives from Abba is vested first in netzach-hod-yesod of Abba.

In order to be transmitted to Zeir Anpin, the intellect or mentality of Abba must first be vested in Abba's own netzach-hod-yesod, or triad of actualization.

[Similarly,] the intellect it [Zeir Anpin] receives from Imma is first vested in netzach-hod-yesod of Imma.

Netzach-hod-yesod of Abba or Imma…are present in Zeir vessels for his three aspects of mentality….

Then, the netzach-hod-yesod of Abba are vested in the netzach-hod-yesod of Imma. After this, the netzach-hod-yesod of Imma - together with all the aspects [of divine light] that we have said are vested in them - enter Zeir Anpin.

These [mentalities derived from Abba and Imma] are called the "Image" [in Hebrew, "tzelem"] of Abba and the Image of Imma, respectively.

The two [sub-sefirot of] malchut within Abba and Imma must perforce enter [Zeir Anpin] with them, since they are lower than netzach-hod-yesod.

Thus, they are "forced" into Zeir Anpin by the descending triads of netzach-hod-yesod of Abba and Imma. Thematically, this means that expression (malchut) is intrinsically tied to the drive toward self-actualization (netzach-hod-yesod).

These two [sub-sefirot of] malchut are actually the two "crowns" of the two [sub-sefirot] of yesod of Abba and Imma, as is known.

Now, the [sub-sefirot of] netzach-hod-yesod of Abba or Imma are masculine sefirot. They are present in Zeir Anpin for its own purposes, in order to act as vessels for his three aspects of mentality, as we said.

The netzach-hod-yesod of Abba or Imma clothe the intellect of these partzufim, acting as vessels that transmit these intellects to Zeir Anpin.

But the two [sub-sefirot of] malchut [of Abba and Imma] are feminine, and are not present in Zeir Anpin for its own purposes. Rather, they cause [the partzuf of] Leah to egress [from Zeir Anpin], which is situated behind the daat of Zeir Anpin. Since malchut is connected to yesod, Leah is therefore connected [to Zeir Anpin at the point] behind its daat.

Generally, Leah is identified with thought and Rachel with speech….

Leah is the higher partzuf of malchut. The netzach-hod-yesod-triads of the higher partzufim are vested in the chochma-bina-daat of Zeir Anpin in a one-to-one correspondence. Thus, yesod (of Abba and Imma) is vested in daat (of Zeir Anpin). This is why Leah is situated behind the daat of Zeir Anpin.

Generally, Leah is identified with thought and Rachel with speech. Thought is the highest of the three forms of expression (thought, speech, action) and is most closely connected with intellect.

We have already explained…that four aspects of Leah issue from these two malchuts, as follows: The first Leah is connected to yesod of Abba. The second and third are connected to yesod of Imma, which clothes yesod of Abba. The fourth is situated behind Zeir Anpin.

Now, the first and third are radiances of Abba; the second and fourth are radiances of Imma. Thus, their order is Abba, Imma, Abba, Imma, for of the two that are connected to yesod of Imma, the first is a radiance of Imma and the second is a radiance of Abba that simply emerges at that point.

Now, there are four aspects of intellect in Abba: chochma, bina, and [the sources of] chesed and gevura [within daat].

Even though we normally speak of three aspects of intellect, daat includes within in the sources of chesed and gevura, meaning the propensity to accept or reject (since the purpose of daat is distinguishing and choosing). This is why the head tefillin have four compartments.

All of these four radiances emerge as the first Leah; the latter three emerge as the second Leah; the latter two as the third Leah; and final one by itself - i.e. the [states of] gevura [within daat] of Abba - emerges as the fourth Leah, which is the most external of all of them.

First, all four aspects of Abba's intellect shine together; then only the lower three; then only the lower two; and finally only the lowest one by itself.

Abel…was therefore born together with two twin sisters, who embodied the first and third partzufim of Leah….

Furthermore, malchut of Abba becomes the partzuf we have called here the first Leah. Malchut of Imma becomes the partzuf of the second Leah. Then, the first Leah, of Abba, shines outward, breaking through to the position of the second Leah, i.e. malchut of Imma, emerging there and becoming the third Leah. Similarly, the second Leah, [malchut] of Imma, shines outward, breaking through the daat of Zeir Anpin, emerging behind Zeir Anpin's neck and becoming the fourth Leah; this is known as the knot of the head-tefillin, as is known.

Now know, that since this [fourth,] most external Leah is situated outside Zeir Anpin, it couples only with Israel - which is Zeir Anpin itself - or with Yaakov, which, as we know, emerges also from the radiance of yesod of Abba that shines outside of Zeir Anpin, exactly analogous to this fourth Leah. (The difference [between Yaakov and the fourth Leah] is that the former is male, originating in the yesod of Abba and the latter is female, originating in malchut of Imma.) This is why they can couple.

The first and third Leah, which are malchut of Abba and the radiance emanating from it, couple with the yesod - the male - of Abba. The second Leah - which is malchut of Imma, couples with the yesod of Imma.

chanoch adds: Do you think that when we learn about the various lights of the Partzuf of Rachel we will find that the coupling will be female to female and possibly male to male?

Now, yesod of Abba was embodied in Abel, the son of Adam. He was therefore born together with two twin sisters, who embodied the first and third [partzufim of Leah]. Yesod of Imma was embodied in Cain, who was born with only one twin sister, who embodied the malchut of Imma [i.e. the second Leah].

[What would have been his] second twin sister - i.e. the radiance [of malchut of Imma] that shines forth outside of Zeir Anpin, [becoming] the fourth Leah - is not situated inside [Zeir Anpin], close to yesod of Imma, but rather on the outside. It therefore does not couple at all with yesod of Imma, i.e. Cain.

Cain and Abel married their twin sisters.

Keep in mind that all these four [partzufim] are called "Leah", even though they also have individual names, as we will explain.

We must also tell you that these four aspects of Leah derive from the inner mentalities of Zeir Anpin, which is known as the tzadik of the tzelem, which has been explained elsewhere [and will be explained presently].

Let us return to this matter, in brief. Know that there are three aspects of the mentalities of Zeir Anpin, alluded to in the three letters of the word "tzelem" [Hebrew for "image"].

"Tzelem" is spelled: tzadik-lamed-mem.

The letter tzadik indicates the inner mentalities while the lamed-mem indicates the aspects that surround them.

The "inner mentalities" refers to the nine sub-sefirot from keter to yesod, each compounded of ten sub-sub-sefirot, giving 9 x 10 = 90, the numerical value of tzadik. The numerical values of lamed and mem are 30 and 40, respectively, referring to the triad of keter-chochma-bina and the four sub-sefirot of keter-chochma-bina-da'at considered collectively and compounded of ten sub-sub-sefirot each, giving 3 x 10 = 30 and 4 x 10 = 40. These two ways of considering the intellect and super-intellect are relatively "surrounding" (makif), since they do not consider how the intellect is manifest in the emotions. In contrast, the full array represented by the tzadik does consider the intellect manifest in the emotions, and is therefore considered "inner" (penimi), referring to how the intellect has entered "into" the emotions.

chanoch adds: The above paragraph, with contemplation, will help your understanding of Ohr Makif – surrounding light and Ohr Piniei – Inner Light. These are important Kabbalistic concepts.

This is true of the tzelem of the mentalities of Zeir Anpin derived from Imma, and the same is true of the mentalities of Zeir Anpin derived from Abba. Thus, there is tzelem derived from Abba and a tzelem derived from Imma.

Nonetheless, know that the term "tzelem" refers mainly to garments of the mentalities, i.e. netzach-hod-yesod of Imma. This is seen in the fact that the numerical value of "tzelem" [plus the kolel] is the same as that of the name Eh-yeh spelled out with the letter yud, which signifies Imma.

"Eh-yeh" is spelled: alef-hei-yud-hei.

alef – alef-lamed-pei = 1 + 30 + 80 = 111

hei – hei-yud = 5 + 10 = 15

yud – yud-vav-dalet = 10 + 6 + 4 = 20

hei – hei-yud = 5 + 10 = 15

total = 161 = 111 + 15 + 20 + 15

"Tzelem" is spelled: tzadik-lamed-mem = 90 + 30 + 40 = 160.

Thus, netzach-hod-yesod of Imma are termed the "tzelem", but the mentalities themselves, i.e. the lights, are not termed "tzelem".

Relative to each other, the chochma-bina-daat of the partzuf are "lights" while the netzach-hod-yesod are the "vessels", as stated above.

Netzach-hod-yesod of Abba, which also serve as vessels for other mentalities, are also termed "tzelem", for when netzach-hod-yesod of Abba enter netzach-hod-yesod of Imma and are vested in them - as we mentioned in the beginning of this exposition - and their radiance shines forth outside, it must pass through netzach-hod-yesod of Imma. It is therefore also termed "tzelem". There is thus a tzelem of Abba and a tzelem of Imma, both of which are vessels, i.e. netzach-hod-yesod, but their respective mentalities are not termed tzelem.

To return to our subject: the tzadik of "tzelem" refers to netzach-hod-yesod of Imma or Abba; the lamed of tzelem refers to chesed-gevura-tiferet; and the mem of tzelem refers to chochma-bina-daat. For the three letters of tzelem comprise all ten [sub-]sefirot of Imma, alluded to in the name Eh-yeh spelled out with the letter yud, this having the numerical value of tzelem [as above].

It is also known that the mem of "tzelem" signifies the higher surrounding mentalities, these being the mentalities that are not vested in garments or vessels of Imma. But the lamed of "tzelem" signifies the secondary surrounding mentalities, these being the mentalities that are vested in the vessels of chesed-gevura-tiferet of Imma. Similarly, the tzadik of "tzelem" signifies the inner mentalities, these being the mentalities vested in the vessels of netzach-hod-yesod of Imma.

tzadik - inner mentalities - vested in netzach-hod-yesod of Imma

lamed - secondary surrounding mentalities - vested in chesed-gevura-tiferet of Imma

mem - higher surrounding mentalities - not vested

According to this, it follows that just as four aspects of Leah issue from the inner mentalities alluded to by the tzadik of "tzelem", so do four other aspects [of Leah] issue from the secondary surrounding mentalities, alluded to by the lamed of "tzelem". For they also possess vessels of Imma. But no aspect of Leah issues from the higher surrounding mentalities alluded to by the mem of "tzelem". This is because [the partzuf of] Leah is not produced from [unvested] mentalities, but rather from the malchut's of the vessels of Imma or Abba, as stated above. These higher surrounding mentalities possess no vessels at all, as we said, and therefore they produce no aspect of Leah whatsoever.

Nonetheless, know that the four aspects of Leah produced from the secondary surrounding mentalities alluded to by the lamed of tzelem are termed "tent", rather than "Leah".

"Leah" is spelled lamed-alef-hei, and the word for "tent", "ohel", is spelled alef-hei-lamed. These two words are thus permutations of each other.

This is appropriate, for a tent surrounds and encompasses a person. Similarly, the Leahs produced by the [secondary] surrounding mentalities are like a tent that surrounds the Leahs produced by the inner mentalities. It is to these surrounding Leahs that the Torah alludes when it says, "And he went…into the tent of Leah." (Gen. 31:33)

These are also termed "the heavenly Jerusalem", meaning: it is known that [the partzuf] Rachel is termed "Zion", which is the merciful [aspect of Jerusalem], while Leah is termed "Jerusalem", which is the severe [aspect of Jerusalem]. The higher Leahs, produced by the surrounding mentalities, are called "the heavenly Jerusalem".

In Shaar HaMitzvot, the Ari continues his dissertation, detailing the 18 aspects/stages of conveyance of supernal consciousness unto Zeir Anpin.

To be continued….

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sha'ar HaMitzvot; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."

Protect Yourself for Peace

From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky

We are enjoined to discipline our senses, to preserve our own and others' peace

The portion of the Torah read this week begins with the commandment:

"Appoint judges and policemen in all your gates which G‑d your G‑d gives you, according to your tribes, that they may judge the people equitably." (Deut. 16:18)

Although it is not evident in modern English, the imperative "appoint" as well as the (possessive) pronouns "your" and "you" are in the singular.

Why is this commandment phrased in the singular, rather than in the plural?

Every individual Jew has several gates…

We heard in the name of the esteemed Rabbi Chaim Vital, of righteous memory, that this is so in order to indicate that every individual Jew has several "gates". These are: the gates of sight, the eyes; the gates of hearing, the ears; the gate of speech, the mouth; the gate of smell, the nose; the gate of touch, the hands and feet.

Just as the gate of a domain is a passageway through which one enters and exits, the "gates" of the person are his sense organs, through which stimuli enter his mind and he reacts to the outside world. The skin, here represented by the hands and feet, its principle loci of action, is in fact considered an "organ" in many biological contexts, no less than the other organs mentioned here.

A person must…protect himself from looking at women forbidden to him…speaking in a foul or malicious manner…walking to commit a sexual sin…

Thus, a person must position "judges" and "policemen" at each of these "gates", in order to protect himself from looking at women forbidden to him, listening to untoward matters, speaking in a foul or malicious manner, smelling the perfume of a woman forbidden to him, touching such a woman or walking to commit a sexual sin, or walking to theatres or circuses. This is why "your gates" is phrased in the singular, in order to indicate the above.

When a person guards his "gates" from sin, it is said of him: "Open up, O gates, that a righteous nation may enter", (Isaiah 26:2) measure for measure. Furthermore, the 310 worlds destined for every righteous person will open their gates for him, for every world has its entrance gate.

[measure for measure: Meaning: the reward is of the same nature as the commandment fulfilled.]

chanoch adds: Measure for Measure, in Hebrew, is Mida Keneged Midah. This is referring to cause and effect. As said above Perform a Mitzvah or follow a negative Mitzvah and the effect relates to the same nature. This also applies to doing a sin – the effect relates to the same Sefirah as the sin – sometimes it is an aspect of the same body part.

The final section of the Mishna (Uktzin 3:12) begins: "Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: The Holy One, blessed be He, will in the future bequeath every righteous individual three hundred and ten worlds, as it is written, 'To bequeath substance to My beloved, and I will fill their storehouses.'" (Proverbs 8:21) The numerical value of the word for "substance" (yesh, yud-shin) is 310.

Know as well, that [on the path] from here to heaven there are all sorts of accusing angels and angels of destruction, and there are a number of gates to each of the seven heavens, each of which is guarded. When the soul ascends it is inspected. If it is worthy, the gates are opened for it and it is permitted to enter. If it is not, it is pushed outside, the gates are closed before it and it is not allowed to enter. For this reason, every intelligent person should take [this teaching] to heart while he is still alive and control and guard his "gates", as we said above. He will then merit to have the gates of righteousness opened before him, as we have said.

The "accusing angels" and "angels of destruction" are the corresponding elements to "judges and policemen" on the side of evil. The accusing angels tally off the individual's sins, which were brought about by not properly guarding his "gates", and the "angels of destruction" cause the ascending soul to suffer accordingly.

The seven heavens are listed in the Talmud (Chagiga 12b):

7th – lowest heaven – Aravot translates as "darkness"

6th – Next higher heaven – Machon translates as "residence"

5th – Next higher heaven – Ma'on translates as "habitation"

4th – Next higher heaven – Zevul translates as "dwelling"

3rd – Next higher heaven – Shechakim translates as "dust"

2nd – Next higher heaven – Rakia translates as "firmament"

1st – Highest Heaven – Vilon translate as "curtain"

Wikipedia adds the following desscriptions that are very different:

Vilon (וִילוֹן) or Araphel (עֲרָפֶל) The first heaven, governed by Archangel Gabriel, is the closest of heavenly realms to the Earth; it is also considered the abode of Adam and Eve.

Raqia (רָקִיעַ): The second heaven is dually controlled by Zachariel and Raphael. It was in this heaven that Moses, during his visit to Paradise, encountered the angel Nuriel who stood "300 parasangs high, with a retinue of 50 myriads of angels all fashioned out of water and fire". Also, Raqia is considered the realm where the fallen angels are imprisoned and the planets fastened.

Shehaqim (שְׁחָקִים, Shechaqim): The third heaven, under the leadership of Anahel, serves as the home of the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life; it is also the realm where manna, the holy food of angels, is produced.

The Second Book of Enoch, meanwhile, states that both Paradise and hell are accommodated in Shehaqim with hell being located simply "on the northern side".

Maon (מָעוֹן): The fourth heaven is ruled by the Archangel Michael, and according to Talmud Hagiga 12, it contains the heavenly Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Altar.

Makon (מָכוֹן, Makhon): The fifth heaven is under the administration of Samael. It is also where the Ishim and the Song-Uttering Choirs reside.

Zebul (זְבוּל): The sixth heaven falls under the jurisdiction of Sachiel.

Araboth (עֲרָבוֹת, Aravoth): The seventh heaven, under the leadership of Cassiel, is the holiest of the seven heavens because it houses the Throne of God attended by the Seven Archangels and serves as the realm in which God dwells; underneath the throne itself lies the abode of all unborn human souls. It is also considered the home of the Seraphim, the Cherubim, and the Hayyoth.

chanoch adds: Here is a link to a video on Daily Nefesh that relates to the 7 Lands, which actually refers to the 7 Kings of Edom before there was King in Israel. This relates to the n7n earths and the 7 types of entities called UFO. These 7 lands and entities are part and parcel connected to the study of the 7 heavens.

Further on, the Torah commands:

If something be too complicated for you to judge, whether it be between two types of blood, or two different cases, or types of plague, or an argument in your gates, go up to the place that G‑d your G‑d will choose. (Deut. 17:8)

The "place that G‑d will choose" refers to the site of the Temple in Jerusalem, where the high court, the Sanhedrin, met. They are the final judicial authority of the Torah.

According to our sages, this verse alludes to an exchange between the Ministering Angels and the Holy One, blessed be He, when the Temple was being destroyed.

chanoch adds: This takes significant contemplation. Is there anything impossible for HaShem? Of course not. Some evaluations are difficult because they are similar and close decisions. When HaShem destroyed the Temple and not the people - the evaluation was close. Contemplate this deeply.

The commandments of the Torah are a description of the ways, customs, or behavior of G‑d…

The following exchange is based on the idea that "He declares His words to Jacob, His judgments to Israel," i.e. that the commandments of the Torah are a description of the ways, customs, or behavior of G‑d. In some abstract or spiritual way, He Himself performs all the commandments in the Torah and commands us to do the same, simply in order that we emulate Him. When the Temple was destroyed, according to the accusations of the angels in this exchange, G‑d transgressed a number of His own commandments, so to speak.

[The Angels began:] "Master of the World, You wrote in Your Torah:

…when you shed its blood, you must cover [the blood] with dirt. (Lev. 17:13)

In this case, however, it is written: O G‑d, nations have come into Your inheritance, They have defiled Your holy Temple, They have laid Jerusalem in heaps. They have given the dead bodies of Your servants to be food to the birds of the sky, The flesh of Your pious ones to the beasts of the earth. They have shed their blood like water around Jerusalem, And there was no one to bury them. (Psalms 79:3)

For the blood she shed is still in her; She set it upon a bare rock; She did not pour it out on the ground to cover it with earth. (Ezekiel 24:7)

You wrote in Your Torah: You shall not slaughter [an animal] and its young on the same day. (Lev. 22:28)

In this case, however, it is written: Mothers and babes were dashed to death together.

You wrote in Your Torah: And the priest shall command that they empty out the house… (Lev. 14:36)

In this case, however, it is written: They burned the House of G‑d and tore down the wall of Jerusalem, burned down all its mansions, and consigned all its precious objects to destruction." (Chronicles II 36:19)

G‑d answered them: "Is there any peace in the world, then? Since there is no peace, there is nothing."

[Mothers and babes: The verse quoted here is the one used in the Midrashic passages on which this citation is based.]

[consigned…to destruction: When a house is about to be declared defiled by reason of a plague having attacked its walls, the officiating priest is required to direct those present to first empty the house of all its movable items. This is in order that they not fall under the same declaration of impurity as the house he is about to sentence, for if they would, it would be necessary to purify them or destroy them (if they could not be purified, as is the case with earthenware vessels). We see from this law that G‑d is concerned with not causing unnecessary monetary loss to any Jew.]

Peace is the vessel for all blessing…

It is stated in the Mishna that peace is the vessel for all blessing, meaning that without peace, there is no point in G‑d bestowing His blessing on the world, for inasmuch as there is no vessel to contain it, it will just dissipate. We are taught specifically that it was the Second Temple that was destroyed on account of the causeless hatred amongst the Jewish people (whereas the first Temple was destroyed on account of other sins), yet the verses quoted all refer to the destruction of the First Temple (which occurred during Biblical times, while that of the Second Temple was post-Biblical). However, the same sorts of suffering occurred in the second destruction, and there is also no reason to assume that the verses referring to the first destruction do not refer prophetically to the second destruction as well.

All this is alluded to in the verse quoted above, as follows:

"If something be too complicated for you to judge, whether it be between two types of blood" - this refers to the angels' query regarding why G‑d did not follow His own law regarding shedding blood [and did not cover the blood with dirt].

Jerusalem is the city that is altogether united…

"…or two different cases…" - this refers to the angels' query regarding why G‑d did not follow His own law regarding not slaughtering an animal and its young on the same day.

"…or types of plague…" - this refers to the angels' query regarding why G‑d did not follow His own law regarding saving property and possessions.

The answer to the angels is alluded to in the next phrase:

"…an argument in your gates…" - arguments and lack of peace bring all this about.

The verse then concludes:

"…go up to the place that G‑d your G‑d will choose" - for Jerusalem is "the city that is altogether united" (Psalms 122:3); in it all become friends.

Jerusalem existed before the Temples were destroyed, of course, so what is meant here is obviously more than a physical ascent to the physical city of Jerusalem. Rather, what is meant is an ascent to the ideals embodied in the idealized vision of Jerusalem as the center of the Torah and Divine revelation on earth. This is embodied in the name "Jerusalem", which means "total awe" ("Yerushalayim" - "yira-shalem"), or absolute awareness of being in the presence of G‑d.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaMitzvot and Taamei HaMitzvot, parashat Shoftim,

Anonymous comment: USA August 8, 2013

Protecting Yourself For Peace

No wonder why so many in the world, not understanding exactly what the commandments lead to, have brought so much pain among the families of the world. These teachings should be applied to each individual, throughout each individual family, and would end up on the rest of humanity. But since it is interpreted literally, not in a deep spiritual meaning, everyone is so dysfunctional concerning peace among nations. The plague of division, and anger, comes from jealousy, the worst poison of them all, and it is transformed into this plague of devouring, like insects, which devours and destroy. And that spreads so quickly, and brings anxieties, depression, and pain on the victim as well as on the causer throughout the families and lately on the world. This grudges, vindictiveness, has been non stop for thousands of years. Until we learn how to love, the world will continue its down course. One cause bring the effect.

chanoch adds: When people accept their responsibility instead of pointing at others as the problem peace will commence. When people I am the cause of strife peace will begin in this world.

Shoftim: The Sorcerer and the Gidufi

Rabbi Abraham Kook

Which is worse: a sorcerer or an idolatrous heretic?

Theoretical Knowledge

Concerning sorcery, the Torah warns:

“When you come into the land that God is giving you, do not learn to do the repulsive practices of those nations.” (Deut. 18:9)

What are these “repulsive practices”? The Torah enumerates divination, witchcraft, incantations, communicating with the dead, and so on. These forms of sorcery were an integral part of the idolatrous culture of the Canaanites.

Yet the Sages read this verse with care. The Torah text does not say, “Do not learn their repulsive practices,” but “Do not learn to do them.” Study - with the intent of practicing sorcery - is forbidden. But one is permitted to study witchcraft “in order to understand and judge,” i.e., to correctly determine who is a sorcerer and should be punished accordingly (Shabbat 75a).

However, the Torah’s sanction to acquire theoretical knowledge of sorcery is not a blanket authorization. The Talmud contrasts the sorcerer with a far worse category: the Gidufi. A Gidufi is a fervent believer in idolatry who constantly proselytizes for his idol worship. “One who learns even one thing from a Gidufi is punishable by death.” Unlike the sorcerer, this fanatical heretic has nothing to teach us.

Why is the idolatrous Gidufi so much worse than the sorcerer?

Sorcery - Penetrating Evil

Rav Kook explained that the sorcerer’s motivation is an attempt to reconcile the fundamental conflict between the animalistic and Divine aspects of the human soul. The sorcerer’s solution to this constant struggle is to suppress the Divine nature of the soul. This frees the base instincts to rule over the individual, and society in general.

The means and techniques by which the sorcerer achieves his goal are complex. Some aspects of his knowledge may also be utilized for the good. Recognition of evil means awareness of the negative side of creation, which can grant deeper understanding of the positive side.

chanoch adds: The spiritual system is designed by HaShem. This design allows it to used as part of the various tests that HaShem authorizes for a person. Essentially both systems – positive and negative have access to the spiritual system. Sorcery is part of the negative system. This explains why we are allowed to study sorcery.

Heresy - Rejecting Truth

The sorcerer gains his knowledge by focusing his mental powers on the essence of evil. But the idolatrous Gidufi is much worse. His methods do not reveal any hidden knowledge, not even with regard to the realm of evil. The Gidufi simply rejects good and truth. He offers us no new understanding. His path is based on stubbornness, to fill the heart with doubts and intoxication.

Deeper awareness of evil, of hidden aspirations to promote evil in the world, entails spiritual dangers. But it has the potential to prepare the soul, and all of society, to define and refine evil, and to purify it from its baseness.

Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. IV, pp. 138-139

Double Life – Internal and External

Rabbi Avraham Kook

We all live a double life. There is our external world: our relationships with friends and family, our jobs, our place in society. And we have our inner world: our private thoughts and emotions, our introspections and contemplations. We are influenced by both spheres, and we need them both.

One of the positive aspects of the outside world is the sense of worth and respect that society bestows to the individual. The Sages placed great value on human dignity, even waiving rabbinical prohibitions when one’s dignity is at stake (Berachot 19b).

Honoring Criminals

What about criminals? Do they also deserve respect and honor?

The Talmud (Makkot 12b) raises an interesting question regarding people who have killed unintentionally. Accidental manslaughters are penalized with exile to one of the designated cities of refuge. What if the people in the city of refuge wish to honor the murderer is some way, perhaps with a public position — may he accept? Or would doing so negate the very purpose of exile? After all, one of the principal aspects of this punishment is loss of recognition and place in society. To what extent must the murderer suffer public disgrace in order to atone for his criminal negligence?

Accepting Responsibility

The Talmud answers that the murderer must state clearly, “I am a murderer.” His inner truth must be public knowledge. He may not hide from the heinous crime he committed, albeit unintentionally. He cannot pretend as if the murder never took place.

The Sages derived the need for the criminal to openly admit his crime from the verse, “This is the word of the murderer” (Deut. 19:4). His response to the offers of society must be as one who has committed manslaughter.

The murderer must not let social honors distract him from the private soul-searching which he must undertake. He needs to attend to his inner world of emotions and introspection, and avoid being caught up in the rush of public life. He should reject social honors by announcing, “I am a murderer.”

If the people choose to accept him despite his past, then he is permitted to accept the honor. Respect from the community is a positive value that should not be denied, even to criminals. This respect should not be allowed to cover up the terrible truth of manslaughter. It should not negate or desensitize the murderer’s inner sense of justice. But if he demonstrates responsibility for his actions, and his moral sensibilities are strong and healthy, then the external influence of social acceptance and respect will be a positive factor in his ultimate rehabilitation.

Gold from the Land of Israel, pp. 322-323. Adapted from Ein Eyah vol. II, p. 404

Shoftim: The Jerusalem Police Officer

“Appoint judges and police in all of your cities...” (Deut. 16:18)

Rav Kook was overjoyed with the good news: David Tidhar, a Jewish officer serving in the British Mandatory police force, had announced that he was engaged to be married. The rabbi insisted that the wedding be held in his own residence and that he would provide the wedding meal. Rav Kook even invited students from the yeshiva to join in the festivities.

Many people were surprised. Why was Rav Kook so fond of this particular policeman?

Rav Kook explained that David Tidhar had zekhut avot - ancestral merits. His father, Reb Moshe Betzalel Todrosovich, was a wealthy Jaffa philanthropist who had been instrumental in bringing Rav Kook to serve as rabbi of Jaffa. Reb Moshe Betzalel supported numerous religious projects in Jaffa, especially anything related to Jewish education and assisting those in need. This fine man, Rav Kook declared, is certainly deserving of our thanks and gratitude.

The Run-Away Husband

Jewish policemen during the British Mandate (PikiWiki) But Rav Kook’s appreciation of David Tidhar was also based on his appreciation for the young man’s own character and deeds. Their close ties took on greater importance when Tidhar became an officer in the Jerusalem police force. The Chief Rabbi would often turn to him for assistance in releasing a prisoner or to ameliorate a prisoner’s conditions in jail.

On one unusual occasion, however, Rav Kook requested Tidhar’s help in placing a man under arrest.

A certain resident of Jerusalem had decided to abandon his family, intending on leaving his wife without a proper divorce. Lacking an official bill of divorce (a get), the poor woman would become an agunah, trapped in her marriage and unable to remarry.

The scoundrel intended to flee Jerusalem on the early morning train. Legally, there was no way to stop him. The request to detain him had been submitted to the regional court, but the order could only be approved after the judge arrived at ten o'clock mid-morning.

Hearing of the situation, Rav Kook turned to Tidhar. The resourceful police officer came up with an unconventional solution to deal with the case. He dispatched an undercover detective to the train station. The detective found an excuse to start a fight with the man. The altercation began with harsh words and quickly progressed to fisticuffs.

Policemen instantly appeared and arrested the two brawlers, hauling them into the Me'ah She'arim police station. At that point, Tidhar arrived at the station. He detained the man until Rav Kook sent word that the court order had been obtained. He was then able to officially place the man under arrest.

The Would-Be Expulsion

In another incident, Tidhar sought to prevent the deportation of Jewish immigrants - a deportation that he himself had been detailed to carry out.

The British passport office sent Tidhar a long list of illegal immigrants. The list included many details: names, addresses, ages, and so on. Tidhar was astounded. How had the British obtained so much information about the immigrants?

The answer was not long in coming. British immigration officials had posed as Jewish aid workers, going from house to house in the Jerusalem neighborhoods. Using this ploy, they tricked the immigrants into divulging their identifying details.

As police commander, Tidhar was the officer ordered to expel forty hapless families - on the day before Yom Kippur! It would have been a heart-breaking sight. Tidhar met with the Jewish city council. He requested that the refugees be provided with food and clothing, and he gave them a twelve-hour reprieve before executing the deportation.

The council’s immigration department agreed. They provided for the immigrants’ immediate needs and secretly transferred them to distant neighborhoods, thus forestalling the deportation orders.

In order to assist the refugees, Tidhar needed to work on Yom Kippur. Following Rav Kook’s advice, he dressed as an Arab. This way, the Jewish immigrants would not be disturbed by the sight of a Jew desecrating the holiest day of the year - even if his labors were for their own benefit.

“There are two men,” Rav Kook would say, “who assist me in maintaining order in religious affairs in Jerusalem. The first is the British High Commissioner, Herbert Samuel. And the second is police officer David Tidhar.”

“However, there is a difference between the two,” the rabbi observed. “The commissioner always confers first with his legal advisor, so his assistance is often delayed. Officer Tidhar, on the other hand, is diligent and energetic. He does whatever he promises, quickly overcoming all obstacles.”

David Tidhar admitted, “The British officers thought that they were my commanding officers. But my true commanding officer was Rav Kook. For me, any request of the rabbi was an order, which I tried to discharge to the best of my ability. I considered it a great privilege to fulfill the Chief Rabbi’s wishes.”

Stories from the Land of Israel. Adapted from Hayei HaRe’iyah, pp. 303-304; Malachim Kivnei Adam, p. 151