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Guarding against illicit sexual activities unites day and night

Guarding the Covenant - Part 2

Guarding the Covenant - Part 2

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Guarding the Covenant - Part 2
Guarding against illicit sexual activities unites day and night

[This article is a continuation from Part 1: (click here).]

Abram threw himself upon his face and G‑d spoke with him saying, "As for Me, this is My covenant with you" (Gen. 17:3-4) From this we understand that until he was circumcised he would prostrate himself when G‑d spoke to him. But after he was circumcised he stood upon his feet and was not afraid. (See also Pirkei d'Rabbi Elazar 29.) [Moreover, it was precisely at this point that Abraham's circumcision took place, for immediately after he threw himself upon his face it states,] "As for Me, this is My covenant with you…" [When he arose] he found himself already circumcised. (Zohar I, 96b)

Rabbi Levi said: "It is not written here that Abraham circumcised himself, but rather that he was circumcised (by the Holy One)" (Bereishit Rabba chap. 47, 9. See below verse 17:26.) A man who is worthy and guards this holy covenant… is called a tzadik

A man who is worthy and guards this holy covenant…is called a tzadik. And he is called this from head to toe [i.e., he is a tzadik in every sense, not just in terms of guarding his brit. This is because the covenant includes all of the limbs of his body, as mentioned above. Also,] anyone who guards the holy covenant it is as if he fulfills the entire holy Torah, for the covenant of circumcision is equal to all of Torah. (Zohar I,162a, 197a)

"How great is circumcision, for thirteen covenants were made in regard to it" (Mishna Nedarim 3:11).

Only those who have guarded the covenant [of circumcision] and have not placed it where it is not supposed to be will remain alive at the time of the Resurrection of the Dead. From where do we know this? From the verse, "Of every remnant that will be in Zion and every remaining one in Jerusalem, 'Holy' will be said of him". (Isaiah 4:3)

Only those who guard the covenant of circumcision are called "holy". See Zohar Chadash, Vayeshev in Sitrei Torah.

They will be signed into eternal life, and through them the Holy One, blessed be He, will renew the world and in them He will delight.

It seems that the Zohar's opinion here is that those who are alive when the Resurrection of the Dead takes place will not have to die first and then be resurrected. Rather they will proceed directly into eternal life. See Damasek Eliezer. (Zohar II 57b) ...since he was privileged to fulfill the commands of the Torah he rises to the level of man

Rabbi Shimon taught: How privileged Israel is that the Holy One calls them "adam" ["man"], as is written, "You are my flock, the flock that I pasture; you are man [in Hebrew, "adam"]" (Ez. 34:31); "When a man ("adam") will sacrifice…" (Lev. 1:2). Why does the verse refer to them as "adam"? Since it is written, "And you who cleave to the Lord your G‑d…" (Deut. 4:4).

The word "adam" is a derivative of the word "domeh", meaning "like" or "similar to."

(See Radak, Shorashim s.v. Adam.) Because the Jewish People cleave to G‑d they are in His likeness, as in the verse, "We shall make man in Our image in Our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). Note that the word for likeness is "kidmuteinu" - also a derivative of "domeh".

And therefore, "you are man" - you are called "man", and the nations of idolaters are not called "man". (Yevamot 114a) For Rabbi Shimon taught that when a Jewish man is circumcised and enters into the covenant the the Holy One made with Abraham [the covenant of circumcision]…then he is permitted to enter that place [of holiness]. And since he was privileged to fulfill the commands of the Torah he rises to the level of "man" and cleaves to the King Himself, and then he is called "man". (Zohar II, 86a)

The secret of the holy covenant [of circumcision is that] through this covenant all of the limbs of the body are nourished, for it includes all of them. (Zohar II 92a)

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said: When a man has a son [and he introduces the child into the covenant of circumcision], he becomes bound to the Shechina, [not as manifested below, but as it is above] the entrance to all supernal doors. The Holy One gazes upon the blood [of circumcision] and redeems the world…

The Shechina is the attribute of malchut, from which all the other supernal attributes are accessed. Malchut is associated with the name Ado-nai which is bound to the ineffable holy name Havayah. The latter name, known as the Tetragrammaton, denotes the absolute transcendence of G‑d (Kuzari 2:2; Moreh Nevuchin 1:63), where past, present and future are all one (Ref. Tur, Orach Chaim 5; Rabbi Eliezer of Garmiza on Sefer Yetzira 1:1). It therefore cannot be uttered. (See Sanhedrin 90a.) Instead, it is cloaked in the name Ado-nai so that it is not read as written. (See Rashi to Shemot 3:15; Shaarei Orah, shaar 1.)

When severity is aroused upon the world, the Holy One gazes upon the blood [of circumcision] and redeems the world [from the severe judgments which threaten it.] Therefore it is written, "Every male shall be circumcised when he is eight days old." (Zohar III, 14a) [See also Shabbat 137b: "If not for the blood of circumcision the laws of heaven and earth would not endure."]

"If not for My covenant [of circumcision] I would not have established day and night, and the laws of heaven and earth (Jeremiah 33:25)...One who succeeds in guarding his circumcision properly [by not indulging in illicit sexual activities] and does not transgress with it throughout his life, thereby unites day and night. [These are the attributes divine] revelation [i.e. kindness, as in the verse, "G‑d commands His Kindness in the daytime" (Psalms 42:9)], and concealment [i.e. severity, as in the verse "In the night His song, i.e. prayer, will be with me" (ibid.) (Cf. Ibn Ezra; Metzudat David. Prayer is effective especially at times of trouble when G‑dliness is concealed. See Sotah 5b.) Through this] he is worthy of both worlds, This World and the World to Come. It was in this regard that Abraham was called perfect [in the sense of complete] as it is written, "Walk before Me and be perfect." [He achieved this perfection only after circumcising himself.](Zohar III, 14a)

To return to part 1, please click here

Translation and commentary by Moshe Miller.

Rabbi Moshe Miller was born in South Africa and received his yeshivah education in Israel and America. He is a prolific author and translator, with some twenty books to his name on a wide variety of topics, including an authoritative, annotated translation of the Zohar. He has developed a coaching-type approach to dealing with life's issues based on Chassidism and Kabbalah—a tool for dealing with normal issues that everyone faces as well as issues psychologists usually address, often ineffectively. He also gives free live classes over the Internet.
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also know by the acronym "Rashbi," lived in the Holy Land in the 2nd century C.E. A disciple of Rabbi Akiva, Rashbi played a key role in the transmission of Torah, both as an important Talmudic sage and as author of the Zohar, the most fundamental work of Kabbalah. He was buried in Meron, Israel, west of Safed.
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July 19, 2012
may G-d grant us the strength to fulfill this highest and greatest mitzvah.
Adriel
brooklyn, New York

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