Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ki Tetse - Zohar commentary on Defamation

He who brings out an evil name

The Faithful Shepherd begins Ki Tetze by talking about people who defame someone's character, and how they must be punished. He refers in this context to a person who defames a virgin of Yisrael, to the spies who went out and gave false reports about the land they saw, and to Esther, who was worthy of the Holy Spirit. He says that those who know only the surface or revealed interpretation of the Torah know nothing of its mysteries; they are poor in knowledge and are referred to as riding upon an ass. They are from the aspect of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Moses talks about the mystery of Esther and her relationship with the Shechinah who gives a person many special attributes. Esther was protected from Ahasuerus just like Sarai was protected from the Pharaoh. The Faithful Shepherd returns to the issue of defamation, and says that those who speak ill of the Shechinah will be stricken in their souls. He talks about the righteous man with whom things do not go well, and the evil man with whom they do. We learn that when the Torah was given, the first tablets that were broken were comparable to virginity in that they testified to the whole Torah; the Torah's groom, Moses, broke her virginity. Next Elijah and all the heads of the Yeshivah bless the Faithful Shepherd. Elijah speaks to Moses about his role and the role of Abraham in relationship to Malchut; he says that Moses spoke out against Yisrael when they made the golden calf and thus he defamed Malchut.

1. "and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver..." (Devarim 22:19). We are commanded to punish whoever defames someone's character. This is the meaning of, "and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver, and give them to the father of the girl, because he has brought out an evil name upon a virgin of Yisrael." THE FAITHFUL SHEPHERD SAID, Sages, this applies to after the wedding, since he says, "I found not your daughter a virgin" . Not all evil names are alike, since the spies who spread an evil name on the land were punished for it by dying and not meriting it. A woman is like ground, WHICH IS WHY THE SPIES WERE CONSIDERED AS ONE DEFAMING THE CHARACTER OF A WOMAN. It is like the explanation that Esther was the ground.

Whoever is righteous but for whom things go badly, namely, he who is from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, since there is evil PRESENT with him, "For there is not a just man upon earth who... never sins" (Kohelet 7:20). As for an evil man for whom things go well, it is that the Evil Inclination overpowered his Good Inclination. HENCE they said that it is well with him, because the good is under the power OF THE EVIL MAN. And since the evil dominates the good, he is an evil man, since whoever is stronger receives the name. IF THE GOOD OVERCOMES THE EVIL, HE IS CALLED A RIGHTEOUS MAN THAT IT IS EVIL WITH HIM, SINCE EVIL IS UNDER HIS POWER. IF EVIL OVERCOMES GOOD HE IS CALLED AN EVIL MAN THAT IT IS WELL WITH HIM, SINCE GOOD IS UNDER HIS POWER. An evil man with whom things are evil is another El, who is Samael. It is evil with him, namely the poison of death, which is idol worshiping, OF WHICH IT IS WRITTEN, "Evil shall slay the wicked" (Tehilim 34:22). For that reason a raped WOMAN is considered so only if that soul has a mixture of good and evil.

Source: Zohar Commentary

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