"And G‑d spoke to Moses, saying: 'This shall be the Torah of the leper in the day of his cleansing.'" (Lev. 14:1-2) Rabbi Aba opened his discourse with the verse: "Be afraid of the sword: for wrath brings the punishments of the sword, that you may know that there is judgment [in Hebrew, 'shadun']." (Job 19:29) It is "shadun," but spelled 'shedin' [demons]. Observe in how many ways people should guard their way, fear G‑d, and not depart from the right way, and people should neither transgress the laws of the Torah nor ever leave it.

He who does not learn the Torah and does not strive by it, is scorned by G‑d. The Shechinah does not rest upon him and the guarding angels who accompany him depart from him. Moreover they stand before him proclaiming: 'Withdraw from this man, for he does not honor his Master'. Woe to him, for he is abandoned by the upper and lower beings and has no part in the way of the living.

When man makes an effort in serving his Master and learns the Torah, many guards are there to protect him. The Shechinah also rests upon him and everyone proclaims: 'Honor the image of the King! Honor the son of the King! He is protected in this world and the World to Come! Blessed be he!'

Come and see: The evil speech of the Serpent which he spoke to the woman, brought death to be decreed upon the man, the woman, and the whole world. Thus, it is written: "And their tongue a sharp sword," (Psalms 57:5) referring to evil speech. Therefore, "be afraid of the sword" — evil speech. What does the following verse mean? "For wrath brings the punishments of the sword." This is "the sword of G‑d," for as we learned, G‑d has a sword with which He punishes the wicked, as it is written: "the sword of G‑d is filled with blood." (Isaiah 34:6) It is also written: "My sword shall devour flesh." (Deut. 32:42) Therefore, "be afraid of the sword for wrath brings the punishments of the sword that you may know that there is judgment," that you know it has been so decreed, and he who has a sword in his tongue is punished with the sword that destroys all. This is the meaning of: "This shall be the Torah of the leper".

BeRahamim LeHayyim: What does the above mean to you? Why was it revealed now?

In our world vision, Purgatory is a place where we are purified like iron whitened in a fire. It is a painful process, but not forever. A good start to avoid such tribulation is to try to achieve balance physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, in all we do, say, and think. No easy task, for there is almost no tzaddik that does not miss the mark some time. The brilliance of our folkways is that they always promote return. Work on your emotional attributes and you will become a different person.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org, a project of Ascent of Safed (//ascentofsafed.com). All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.