The Second Level: Let it Go for Now
“Whose K’tegors are These? (Let it Go)” Illustration of Level 2 by Rebecca Odessa, Courtesy The Wisdom Daily
The Second Level: Let it Go for Now
The second of the Thirteen Levels, “Who Bears Sin,” describes a degree of mercy that is even more profound than the previous Level. In the Second Level, Rabbi Cordovero outlines the metaphysical consequence of sin: with every hurtful act, a negative entity is created, a kind of energy debt that demands payment from its human creator. This being, called a “prosecutor” or “destroyer” in Rabbinic literature, affixes itself like a spiritual leech to the person who made it and draws its vitality from its human source. Were the destroyer to take the energy it needs to exist from the human who created it, the results would be disastrous.
The Second Level of Mercy demonstrates how God overlooks the fact that the prosecutor was born from an act of rebellion against God’s will, and directs the prosecutor to delay exacting its due from the human being. Just as we saw in the First Level of Mercy, in which God continued to provide energy to people despite their wrongful deeds, in the Second Level God even provides energy to the destroyers, stepping in and providing life-giving forbearance until the human being may address the debt of sin in an appropriate fashion.
The Kabbalistic content of Date Palm of Devorah deepens with the Second Level, yet Rabbi Cordovero nevertheless concludes with a discussion of the human applications of the principles inherent in “Who Bears Sin.”
הַשנית – נוֹשֵׂא עָוֹן
וַהֲרֵי זֶה גָּדוֹל מֵהַקֹּדֶם שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה הָאָדָם עָוֹן שֶׁלֹּא יִבָּרֵא מַשְׁחִית כְּדִתְנַן הָעוֹשה עֲבֵרָה אַחַת קֹנֶה לוֹ קָטֵגוֹר אֶחָד וַהֲרֵי אוֹתוֹ קַטֵּגוֹר עוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי הב”ה וְאוֹמֵר פְּלוֹנִי עֲשָׂאַנִי, וְאֵין בְּרִיָּה מִתְקַיֶּמֶת בָּעוֹלָם אֶלָּא בְּשִׁפְעוֹ שֶׁל הב”ה וַהֲרֵי הַמַּשְׁחִית הַזֶּה עוֹמֵד לְפָנָיו וּבַמֶּה מִתְקַיֵּם.
הַדִּין נוֹתֵן שֶּׁיֹּאמַר הב”ה אֵינִי זָן מַשְׁחִיתִים יֵלֵךְ אֵצֶל מִי שֶׁעֲשָׂאוֹ וְיִתְפַּרְנֵס מִמֶּנּוּ וְהָיָה הַמַּשְׁחִית יוֹרֵד מִיַּד וְנוֹטֵל נִשְׁמָתוֹ אוֹ כוֹרְתוֹ אוֹ נֶעֱנַשׁ עָלָיו כְּפִי עָנְשׁוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּתְבַּטֵּל הַמַּשְׁחִית הַהוּא, וְאֵין הב”ה עוֹשֶׂה כֵן אֶלָּא נוֹשֵׂא וְסוֹבֵל העון וּכְמוֹ שֶׁהוּא זָן הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ זָן וּמְפַרְנֵס הַמַּשְׁחִית הַזֶּה עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אֶחָד מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה דְּבָרִים, אוֹ שֶׁיָּשׁוּב הַחוֹטֵא בִּתְשׁוּבָה ויאכילהו וִיבַטְּלֵהוּ בְּסִגֻּפָיו, אוֹ יְבַטְּלֵהוּ שׁוֹפֵט צֶדֶק בְּיִסּוּרִים וּמִיתָה, אוֹ יֵלֵךְ בַּגֵּיהִנֹּם וְשָׁם יִפְרַע חוֹבוֹ. וְהַיְנוּ שֶׁאָמַר קַיִן גָּדוֹל עֲוֹנִי מִנְּשׂוֹא וּפֵרְשׁוּ רז”ל כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ אַתָּה סוֹבֵל יֵרָצֶה זָן וּמְפַרְנֵס, וַעֲוֹנִי כָבֵד שֶׁאֵין אַתָּה יָכוֹל לְסוֹבְלוֹ פֵּרוּשׁ לְפַרְנְסוֹ עַד שֶׁאָשׁוּב וַאֲתַקֵּן.
אִם כֵּן הֲרֵי זֶה מִדַּת סַבְלָנוּת גְּדוֹלָה שֶׁיָּזוּן וּמְפַרְנֵס בְּרִיָּה רָעָה שֶׁבָּרָא הַחוֹטֵא עַד שֶׁיָּשׁוּב.
יִלְמֹד הָאָדָם כַּמָּה צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה סַבְלָן לִסְבֹּל עֹל חֲבֵרוֹ וְרָעוֹתָיו שֶׁהֵרִיעַ לו עַד שִׁעוּר כָּזֶה שֶׁעֲדַיִן רָעָתוֹ קַיֶּמֶת, שֶׁחָטָא נֶגְדּוֹ וְהוּא יִסְבֹּל עַד יְתַקֵּן חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּתְבַּטֵּל מֵאֵלָיו וְכַיּוֹצֵא:
The Second Level
Who Bears Sin
This Level is greater than the First Level, for behold, a person does not transgress without creating a destroyer, as it is taught, “One who commits a specific transgression acquires a specific prosecutor.” The prosecutor stands before God and says, “this person made me!” Since no creature in the universe can exist without receiving energy from God, how can this destroyer be sustained when it too stands before God?
It would be reasonable for God to say, “I do not sustain destroyers—go to the one who created you, and take your sustenance from him!” The destroyer would then immediately go down and take the person’s life, or excise him, or otherwise punish him until that destructive force would be neutralized. God does not do this. Instead, God bears and tolerates the sin, just as God sustains the entire world. God continues to feed and sustain this destroyer until one of three things happen: either the sinner repents, thus destroying and nullifying the destroyer with his self-affliction, or the True Judge nullifies it through the suffering and death of the sinner, or the sinner goes to Gehinnom and there fulfills his debt. This is the meaning of what Cain said: “is my sin too great to bear?” The Rabbis explained this to mean, “You tolerate the entire world,” meaning feeding and sustaining Creation. “Is my sin so heavy, that You cannot bear it?” Meaning, can You not sustain my sin as well, until I may repent and repair the damage?
Thus this is a great Level of tolerance, that God feeds and sustains the evil creature that the sinner created until the sinner repents.
A person should learn the necessity of tolerance, enduring offense from others and whatever harm they caused. Even when the harm persists, one should be patient and allow a person to repair the damage or wait until it resolves of its own accord, and so on.
It’s amazing that we have the chance to fix up our sins through means of introspection. You have categorized it as “suffering, ” but if we really think about it, it is not suffering at all! G-d is giving us the chance to smooth out our mistaken ways and get back on path. If we look inside ourselves and see where we have erred, we can turn things around for ourselves and avoid death or Gehonim.
Also, I really enjoyed the insight of the Tomer Devorah that we have to give other people space to fix how they have insulted us and “address it themselves.” Everyone needs time to work out their feelings and shortcomings; we cannot be jumping on them to do so in our terms. Rather, each person should have the opportunity to do it their way and in their time. It is very important to remember that people apologize in different ways.
Thank you for the insights!!
The virtue of patience.
Hi, I know this video is quite old now…but I hope you see this. I’d really like to know about that book you mentioned about the 20 levels of regret.
I’m not Jewish nor do I have any Hebrew so I haven’t been able to catch the name well enough to find it on the web. If you could spell it, or give an English name I’d really appreciate it.
I’m learning so much from you, Dr. Abramson. Thank you!