Pisqa’ 32

Pisqa’ 321


“And you shall love HASHEM , your God” (Dt.6:5)—

that is, act from love!

Mark the difference between

one who acts from love

and one who acts from fear!

One who acts from love—

his reward is doubled and re-doubled,

as He says:

“HASHEM your God shall you fear, and Him shall you serve” (Dt.10:20).

There’s a certain kind of person

who fears his companion.

When the companion needs him the most,

he abandons him and runs off!

But, as for you—act from love!

For there is no love in a place (maqom) of fear,

nor fear in a place (maqom) of love—

except in the nature of the All-Present (maqom) alone!2

Another word:

“And you shall love HASHEM your God” (Dt.6:5).

Endear Him to humanity, like Father Abraham.

On this theme it is said:

“And the souls they made in Haran” (Gn.12:5).

Now if all the people in the world

combined [their wisdom] in order to create

a single gnat and to infuse it with life’s-breath—

wouldn’t they fail?

Indeed, this teaches that Father Abraham

habituated them [to the way of Torah],

bringing them under the sheltering wings of the Presence.3


“With all your hearts” (bekhol levavechah; Dt.6:5)—

that is, with both of your compulsions,

the compulsion to good and the compulsion to evil.4

Another word:

“With all your hearts” (levavechah; Dt.6:5)—

that is, with all the heart within you (lev bekhah),

so your heart won’t be divided

towards the All-Present.

“And with all your soul” (Dt.6:5)—

even if He takes your soul.5

And, similarly, He says:

“For Your sake are we killed all the day,

we are considered as sheep for slaughter” (Ps.44:23).

R. Shimon b. Menasya says:

Now, how is it possible

for a person to be killed every day?

Actually, the Blessed Holy One credits the Righteous

as if they had been killed [for His sake] every day.


Shimon b. Azzai says:

“With all your soul” (Dt.6:5)—

you should love Him till your soul is sucked dry!

R. Eliezer says:

If it states: “With all your soul” (Dt.6:5),

why is it also said: “And with all your well-being” (Dt.6:5)?

And if it states: “with all your well-being,”

why is it also said: “with all your soul?”


There’s a certain kind of person

who prefers his health to his wealth—

this is why it is said: “with all your soul” (Dt.6:5).

And there’s a certain kind of person

who prefers his wealth to his health—

this is why it is said: “with all your well-being” (me’odechah; Dt.6:5)—

[to require the sacrifice of both health and wealth].6

R. Akiva says:

If it is said: “with all your soul” (Dt.6:5),

it would be logical to infer:

“And with all your well-being” (me’odechah; Dt.6:5)

So, why does the Teaching specify: “with all your well-being?”

The point is: Love Him for each and every measure (midah)

that He measures out (moded) to you—

whether the measure (midah) of well-being,

whether the measure (midah) of retribution!7


And so David says:

“When I raise the cup of salvation,

in the Name of HASHEM do I call” (Ps.116:13),

“When trouble and sorrow find me.

in the Name of HASHEM do I call!” (Ps.116:3-4).8

And so Job says:

“HASHEM gives and HASHEM takes—

may the Name of HASHEM be blessed!” (Job 1:21)

If he said this of the measure of well-being,

the logical inference is that

we must bless HASHEM

for the measure of retribution as well!

What did Job’s wife say to him?

“Do you still insist on your innocence? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9).

So how did he reply?

“Will you speak like the loose women speak?

Shall we accept the good from God, but not accept the bad?”9 (Job 2:10)

The people of the Deluge Generation

were blind to the good [they enjoyed].

But when retribution fell upon them,

they accepted it graciously, despite themselves.

Now, isn’t the matter logical?

If someone who is blind to the good

accepts retribution graciously—

we, who are gracious in good times,

shall we not be gracious when retribution befalls us?

And this is why Job said to his wife:

“Will you speak like the loose women speak?”10


And furthermore:

Let a person rejoice in chastisements

more than in good times.

For were a person to spend all his days in well-being,

he would never earn forgiveness

for the sins staining his hands.

By what shall he be forgiven?

By chastisements!11

R. Eliezer b. Jacob says:

Look at what He says:

“For he whom HASHEM loves does He rebuke!

Like a father who favors his son” (Prov.3:12).

What caused the son to be favored by the father?

I would say, these are chastisements. 12

R. Meir says:

Look what He says—

“For as a man disciplines his son,

HASHEM, your God, disciplines you!” (Dt.8:5)

At the bottom of your heart you know your deeds,

as well as the chastisements that I brought upon you.

And the chastisements I brought upon you

do not outweigh the deeds you committed.13


R. Yose b. Judah says:

Cherished are chastisements!

For the Name of the All-Present marks

anyone who endures chastisements,

as it is said:

“HASHEM your God disciplines you!”14 Dt.8:5)

R. Nathan b. R. Joseph says:

Just as a covenant is sealed with the Land,

so too is a covenant sealed with chastisements,

for it is said:

“HASHEM, your God, chastises you!” (Dt.8:5).

And He says:

“For HASHEM your God is bringing you into a good Land15 (Dt.8:7)

R. Shimon b. Yohai says:

Cherished are chastisements!

For three precious gifts were given to Israel

that the nations of the world hunger after—

but they were given to Israel

only by means of chastisements (yissurim)!

And here they are:

Torah, the Land of Israel, and the coming eon.

On what basis do we know this about Torah?

“The proverbs of Solomon . . .

for learning wisdom and discipline” (musar; Prov.1:1-2).

And He says:

“Fortunate is the man whom HASHEM chastises (teyasrenu),

and from Your Torah will You guide him” (telamdeinu; Ps.94:12).

On what basis do we know this about the Land of Israel?

“HASHEM, your God, chastises you! . . .

For HASHEM, your God, is bringing you into a good Land (Dt.8:5-7).”

On what basis do we know this about the coming eon?

“For the commandment is a lamp, and Torah is a light,

and the way to life is a rebuke that chastises” (musar; Prov.6:23)

Which path leads a person to the coming eon?

I would say, these are chastisements (yissurim)!16

R. Nehemiah says:

Cherished are chastisements!

For just as sacrificial offerings

compensate the Holy One,

so do chastisements compensate Him.

Regarding sacrificial offerings,

He says [of one offering sacrifice]:

“It compensates for him, to achieve absolution for him” (Lv.1:4).

Regarding chastisements, He says:

“Their transgression is compensated for” (Lv.26:43).

Moreover, chastisements compensate

more effectively than sacrifices,

for sacrifices affect only one’s wealth,

while chastisements affect the body!

And so does He say:

“Skin for skin! And all a man has will he give for his life!” (Job 2:4).17


When R. Eliezer was suffering his final illness.

R. Tarfon, R. Joshua, R. Elazar b. Azariah, and R. Akiva

came to visit him.

Said to him R. Tarfon:


You are more cherished by Israel

than the disk of the sun.

For the disk of the sun illumines the present eon,

while you illumine the present eon and the coming eon!


Said to him R. Joshua:


You are more cherished by Israel

than the gift of rain.

For rain gives life in the present eon,

while you give it in the present eon and the coming eon!


Said to him R. Elazar b. Azariah:


You are more cherished by Israel

than fathers and mothers.

For fathers and mothers bring us into the present eon,

while you bring us into the present eon and the coming eon!18


Said to him R. Akiva:

Master! Cherished are chastisements!

R. Eliezer said to his disciples:

Prop me up!

R. Eliezer sat up and said:

Speak up, Akiva!

R. Akiva replied:

Look at what He says—

“Now, Manasseh was twelve years old when he was made king,

and he ruled in Jerusalem for fifty five years.” (2 Chron.33:1).

And He says:

“And these too are the proverbs of Solomon,

copied by the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah.” (Prov.25:1).

Now, can you imagine that

Hezekiah taught Torah to all Israel,

while to Manasseh, his son, he did not teach Torah?

Rather, all the learning he taught him,

and all the labor he labored over him made no impression—

except for chastisements!

For it is said:

“And they captured Manasseh in manacles, . . .

and in his pain, he besought the face of HASHEM, his God,

and he humbled himself before the God of his ancestors, and prayed to Him.

And his prayer brought a response.

So He restored him to Jerusalem and his kingdom” (2 Chron.33:10-13).19

Thus—cherished are chastisements!20


R. Meir says:

Look what He says:

“And you shall love HASHEM your God

with all your hearts” (khol levavechah; Dt.6:5)—

this means, love Him whole-heartedly,

like Abraham, your father,

in line with what is said:

“And as for you—Israel, My servant!

Jacob, whom I have chosen, the descendant of Abraham, my beloved!” (Is.41:8)

“With all your soul” (nafshechah; Dt.6:5)—

like Isaac, who bound himself upon the altar,

in line with what is said:

“And Abraham stretched out his hand, and he21 took the knife” (Gn.22:10).

“With all your well-being (me’odechah; Dt.6:5)”—

be as thankful (modeh) to Him

as was Jacob, your father.

For it is said: “I am unworthy

of all the kindnesses and favors

that you have bestowed upon Your servant,

for with only my staff did I cross this Jordan,

and now I am two camps!” (Gn.32:11).

  1. H:59-62; JN1:86-90.
  2. That is, only in God are the opposite emotions simultaneously present and sublimated. My translation follows F:54, l.12. H translates: “Only in regard to God do we find love combined with fear and fear combined with love.” (p.59, n.4). JN1:86 renders: “But matters accord solely with the prevailing condition.”
  3. // ARNA:12.
  4. =M. Ber.9:5; cf. T. Ber.7:7.
  5. = M. Ber.9:5.
  6. Cf. M. Ber.9:5; cf. T. Ber.7:7
  7. Cf. T. Ber.7:1. The exegesis is based on the assonance of “well-being” (me’odechah) and “measure out” (midah).
  8. =Mechilta Ishmael, bakhodesh 10.a
  9. =Ibid.
  10. =Ibid.
  11. =Ibid.
  12. =Ibid.
  13. =Ibid.
  14. [xiv] =Ibid.
  15. =Ibid.
  16. =Ibid.
  17. =Ibid.
  18. Cf. M. BM.2:11 regarding the respect offered to teachers as opposed to parents.
  19. For Menasseh’s after-life fate. See M. San.10:2.
  20. = Mechilta Ishmael, bakhodesh 10
  21. That is, Isaac.