The Kabbalah of Forgiveness Level Ten: Do the Right Thing Anyway


The Tenth Level: Do the Right Thing Anyway

“The Hook (Do the Right Thing Anyway),” illustration of Level 10 by Rebecca Odessa, Courtesy The Wisdom Daily

The Tenth Level: Do the Right Thing Anyway

Translator’s Introduction

 The Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Levels together comprise a triad of strategies for forgiving others, particularly people with whom we have more casual relationships. The Tenth Level addresses the average person, with neither elevated nor stunted morality, the Eleventh Level describes forgiveness for the person who habitually goes beyond the minimum requirements to help others, and the Twelfth Level focuses on forgiving people who typically fall short of our moral expectations. 

The Tenth and Eleventh Levels are also associated with the Patriarchs Jacob and Abraham, respectively. Jacob, whose tribulations frequently involved suffering at the hands of cruel and deceitful individuals like his brother Esau and his father-in-law Laban, learned strategies for coping with challenging people without sacrificing the fundamental trait of Truth. The Tenth Level therefore addresses this issue of truth in forgiveness, and just as Jacob’s deception of Isaac is understood as appropriate despite its manipulation of apparent truth, so too does forgiveness require a slight but intentional deviation from the apparently just. Simply put, even though an individual might deserve a strict retribution for a hurtful act, nevertheless one should just ease that response slightly in favor of mercy, tempering judgment with kindness even though the situation may not otherwise warrant a forgiving response.

הַעשירית – תִּתֵּן אֱמֶת לְיַעֲקֹב

מִדָּה זוֹ הִיא, שֶׁיֵּשׁ ליִשְׂרָאֵל מַעֲלָת אֹתָם הַבֵּינוֹנִיִּים שֶׁאֵינָם יוֹדְעִים לְהִתְנַהֵג לִפְנִים מִשּׁוּרַת הַדִּין וְהֵם נִקְרָאִים יַעֲקֹב מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינָם מִתְנַהֲגִים אֶלָּא עִם הַנְהָגה אֲמִתִּית.

גַּם הב”ה יֵשׁ לוֹ מִדַּת אֱמֶת שֶׁהיא עַל צַד מְצִיאוּת הַמִּשְׁפָּט הַיֹּשֶׁר, וְאֵלּוּ הֵם הַמִּתְנַהֲגִים בָּעוֹלָם בְּיֹשֶׁר וְהב”ה מִתְנַהֵג עִמָּהֶם בֶּאֱמֶת מֵרֶחֶם עֲלֵיהֶם עַל צַד הַיֹּשֶר וְהַמִּשְׁפָּט.

גַּם כֵּן הָאָדָם צָרִיךְ לְהִתְנַהֵג עִם חֲבֵרוֹ עַל צַד הַיֹּשֶׁר וְהָאֱמֶת בְּלִי לְהַטּוֹת מִשְׁפַּט חֲבֵרוֹ אלא לְרַחֵם עָלָיו בֶּאֱמֶת כְּמוֹ שֶׁהב”ה מְרַחֵם עַל הַבְּרִיּוֹת הַבֵּינוֹנִיִּיות בְּמִדַּת אֱמֶת לְתַקֵּן אֹתָם:


The Tenth Level

Give Truth to Jacob

This Level refers to those members of the Jewish people who have a certain quality: they are intermediates, meaning they do not know how to behave beyond the letter of the law. Such people are called “Jacob.” This is because they only behave according to principles which are demonstrably true.

God also has this trait of truth, which refers to that which is apparently just and upright.  Those people who behave in this world in a correct fashion are treated by God with truth.  God shows them mercy out of justice and righteousness.

 So too should a person behave with others, justly and with righteousness, without perverting judgment.  One should show another mercy in truth, just as God shows mercy to the average creature with the Level of truth, to address their imperfections.

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