The Sixth Level begins with a deeply mystical passage in Ezekiel, set in the years immediately prior to the 6th century BCE destruction of the first Temple. God is angered by the sins of the Jewish people, and sends the archangel Gabriel to destroy them utterly, once and for all. Gabriel takes the glowing coals from a space called the galgal, located beneath the altar, and prepares to shower devastation upon the people. Gabriel is delayed in place for six years until the image of a human hand appears in the galgal, a symbolic representation of the acts of human kindness that the otherwise sinful Jews do for each other. With the appearance of this hand, God cancels Gabriel’s mission. God’s mindful delay to act from anger for six years, followed by a recollection of an unrelated kind deed, ultimately averts punishment.
Rabbi Cordovero goes on to describe how this level may be applied on a human scale, offering an exceptionally practical suggestion to promote forgiveness. When angered or frustrated by the behavior of another, one should focus on a single redeeming characteristic or activity of that person. This small technique places a momentary deterrent in the path of angry reaction, allowing forgiveness to take hold and ultimately blunt the full force of one’s wrath.
I have explained elsewhere that there is a certain chamber where angels are appointed to collect the acts of kindness that people perform in this world. When Justice denounces the Jewish people, these angels immediately draw forth a particular act of kindness, and God forgives the Jews. This is because He desires kindness. Even if they are guilty, if they nevertheless do kindness with one another, God forgives them. This is as it was during the destruction of the Temple. God told the angel Gabriel, go into the space of the galgal. Gabriel took burning coals to cast upon the Jewish people. Gabriel, the officer of justice and power, was given permission from God to take the forces of Justice from the galgal, located below the cherubim, forces derived from the fires of the altar, the executive power of justice through sovereignty. Justice demanded the destruction of absolutely everything, extinguishing the future of the Jewish people because they deserved annihilation. The passage continues, and Gabriel looked to the cherubim, and under their wings he saw the form of a human hand. God said to Gabriel: “They do kindness to one another. Even though they are undeserving, save them and allow a remnant to remain.” The reason is because of this Level, for He desires kindness. The Jewish people perform acts of kindness, and this stands to their merit, even if they are not worthy in some other aspect.
If so, then this Level is appropriate for people to emulate. Even if a person does harm and angers another, as long as the offender has some positive aspect—helping others, for example, or some other proper behavior—then that positive behavior should be sufficient to nullify one’s anger, achieve reconciliation, and even good will. A person should say, “It is enough for me that this person performs this one kindness.” This is especially true regarding one’s spouse, as the Rabbis of Blessed Memory taught, “it is enough for us that our spouses raise our children and rescue us from sin.” A person should say, “it is enough for me that this person did me a certain kindness, or did a certain kindness for someone else, or has a certain good quality.” In this manner a person may emulate for He desires kindness.
Henry Abramson serves as Dean of the mighty Avenue J campus of Touro College. A specialist in Jewish history and thought, he is the author of several works, most recently Torah from the Years of Wrath 1939-1943: The Historical Context of the Aish Kodesh. His online lectures in Jewish history are available at henryabramson.com.
View all posts by Henry Abramson