Pisqa’ 53

Pisqa’ 531


“See! Today I set before you a blessing and a curse!” (Dt.11:26).

Why is this mentioned?

Because it is stated elsewhere:

“Life and Death have I set before you, a blessing and a curse” (Dt.30:19).

What if Israel should say:

Since the All-Present has set before us two paths—

the path of Life and the path of Death

let us take whichever we choose!

The Teaching states:

“Therefore, choose Life!” (Dt.30:19).

An analogy—

a certain fellow lived at a crossroad,

and before him were two paths.

One began smoothly,

but ended in a thicket,

and the other began in a thicket,

but ended smoothly.

So he would advise the travelers, saying:

Do you see this path that begins smoothly?

After only two or three steps on smooth ground,

it ends in a thicket!

Do you see this other path that begins in a thicket?

After only two or three steps in a thicket,

it ends on smooth ground!

Just so did Moses say to Israel:

Do you see the Wicked prospering in this eon?

For two or three days

they do indeed prosper,

but, they are destined in the end (be’akharonah)2

to reconsider because of retribution,

for it is said:

“Indeed, there is no hope (‘akharit) for the Wicked!” (Prov.24:20).

And He says:

“Behold the tears of the oppressed . . . and the power of their oppressors—

with none to comfort them!” (Ecc.4:1),

And moreover:

“For the fool folds his hands together, consuming his own flesh” (Ecc.4:5),

And, furthermore:

“The path of the Wicked is like darkness” (Prov.4:19).


Do you see the Righteous suffering in this eon?

For two or three days

they do indeed suffer,

but they are destined in the end (be’akharonah) to know joy.

And, similarly, He says:

“Who fed you manna . . . to your future well-being” (be’akharitecha; Dt.8:16).

And, moreover, He says:

Better is the outcome (‘akharit) of a thing than its origin” (Ecc.7:8).

And, furthermore, He says:

“To give you a future (‘akharit) and a hope” (Jer.29:11),

And, finally, He says:

“For the path of the Righteous is like light’s first glow,

growing brighter until the day has dawned” (Prov.4:18).

R. Joshua b. Qorhah says:

there is an analogy—

a king prepared a banquet and invited the guests.

Now, his favorite was among them.

The king signaled him to choose

a choice portion (maneh),

but the favorite didn’t understand the gesture.

And just as He says:

“I will guide and instruct you in the path you shall tread” (Ps.32:8)—

when the king saw that

his guest didn’t understand,

he grasped his hand and guided it

to the choicest portion.

And, indeed, as He says:


You are my choice portion (manat khelqi) and my cup!” (Ps.16:5).


Now, you know of the fellow

who receives his portion,

but fails to rejoice in it!

But Israel gladly concedes that

no portion is as choice as their portion,

no heritage is as rich as their heritage,

and no destiny is as glorious as their destiny.

And they give thanks and praises for this.

And, indeed, as He says:

“My share has fallen among the fairest . . .

I will bless HASHEM, Who gives me guidance” (Ps.16:6-7).

  1. H:110-111; JN1:175-176.
  2. Pisqa’ 53.2, in speaking of the future set aside for the Righteous and the Wicked, draws attention to assonances across the scriptural canon that link various notions of the future (‘akharit, ‘akharon) into a coherent thesaurus of redemption and punishment.