So we learned, Israel are called 'holy', and because they are 'holy', no one must call his neighbor [i.e. a fellow Jew] a shameful name and not make up a nickname for him, and if he does, his punishment is very severe [for he has also caused the holy to be replaced with the profane in the spiritual realms that are parallel to all action in the physical world]. All the more so is it wrong to hurt him with other words [slander or other malicious talk]. We learned, "Keep your tongue from evil" (Psalms 34:14) What is meant by evil? As a result of bad talk, illnesses [and other punishments] come to the world.

Rabbi Yosi said, one who calls another with a name that is not proper and shames him, he is caught for a sin he did not do, as Rabbi Hiya said in the name of Rabbi Hizkiyah: One who calls his neighbor a villain is lowered to Purgatory and he is slapped on his cheek, the exception being [slandering] those [Jews] acting insolently to the Torah, whom one may call villains.

A man cursed his neighbor, and Rabbi Yesa passed by and said to him: "you acted like a villain." The person came before Rabbi Yehuda with a complaint [that he had been wrongly called a villain]. He said to him, I did not say to him that he is a villain, but acts like a villain exhibiting cruel behavior, but I did not call him a villain. Rabbi Judah came and asked about this case of Rabbi Elazar. He told him: Surely he is not liable, and the proof, there is a verse, "G‑d was like an enemy" (Lamentations 2:5), but not an actual enemy. Were it now so [that G‑d was truly our enemy], nothing would have remained of the race of Israel in the world. Similarly, "like a widow" (Lamentations 1:1), not actual widow, but like a widow whose husband went overseas and she awaits him.

Rabbi Hiya said, is the proof from here? [no, not from there, but] from there [another source] is the main [proof], as it is written: "and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man" (Ezekiel 1:26), it writes [of the image of G‑d sitting on His throne that Ezekiel saw in this prophecy], "as the appearance of man," not "the appearance of man" [as surely He has no appearance, as is written "for you did not see any image (on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire). " (Deut. 4:15)] Rabbi Yitzhak said: it is written, "Like an apple among the trees of the wood" (Song of Songs 2:3), meaning [the Jews are] "like the apple," but not 'the apple', to be understood, like the apple is recognizable by its colors [white, red, and green, which are the respective colors of chesed, gevura, and tiferet] and unified through its colors. Rabbi Yehuda said, if I came only to hear this, it was worth it.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Tu BeShevat has passed, but still in our recent memories. On that sacred night, we ate with sublime intention to fix the blemish of Adam who ate from the Tree. There are many beliefs as to what this fruit was, but we do not hold that it was an apple. That is from outside Jewish tradition.

The apple itself reveals tremendous secrets! "Like" the apple, so is the world, and the flow of holiness that drips down to us. We bring in Shabbat in the field according to mystic practice, Chakal Tapuchin Kadishin - the Field of Holy Apples. That Field is the "star" of the Friday night meal, and it stands for the Shechinah. The above Zohar shows us that the 3 colors of the apple too represent sacred energy of lovingkindness from the right, judgment on the left, and beauty in the harmonic center. All these 3 columns pour into the vessel of the apple, which too is the Shechinah.

The world may be fixed by our intentions in eating the apple, which if cut widthwise through the middle, can show us 10 sections of seeds, demonstrating the 10 Emanations.

Such is our tradition. Such is our responsibility in mindful eating.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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