Rabbi Yosi said: It is written, " But despite all this [lit. 'and also even this'], when they are in the land of their enemies...[I will not cast them away or nor abhor them]" (Lev. 26:44) "And also even this." 'Even,' is as if to say, "even I" [to include G‑d, who is together with them in their exile]. 'Also,' includes the Congregation of Israel [the Shechinah], called 'this' [in Hebrew, 'zot'], that never leaves them. '"When they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor will I abhor them" so as not to be connected to them [nor] "to break My Covenant with them," (Lev. 26:44) because if I do not redeem them, my Covenant [yesod and malchut] would be divided [and then, G‑d forbid!, there would be no possibility of unification between them] Therefore [the verse states "nor] break My Covenant with them."

Rabbi Hiya said: I have heard something new that Rabbi Elazar said: "I will not detest them, nor will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly". It should have been written, 'I will not hit them, nor will I kill them to destroy them utterly'. "I will not cast them away, nor will I abhor them;" a man who hates someone, he is abhorred and detested by him. But here, "I will not detest them, nor will I abhor them." Why? Because the Beloved of My soul [the Shechinah] is among them, for Whose sake they are all My beloved.' Hence, it says, "to destroy them utterly [in Hebrew, 'lechalotam' ] ". 'Lechalotam' is spelled without a vav. [Thus it can be pronounced "Lechalatam ," meaning "their bride", 'chalatam', hinting to the Shechinah.] It is for Her sake that I do not detest or abhor them, because She is the Beloved of My soul, and the Beloved of My soul is among them.

This is like a man who loves a woman who lives in a market of tanners. Were she not there, he would never have entered there [because of the horrible stench]. Since she is there, it seems to him like a market of spice merchants, where there are all the best odors in the world.

Here too, "And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies," which is like a tanners' market [a smelly place where the kelipot dwell], "I will not detest them, nor will I abhor them." Why? "lechalotam"; 'because of their Bride' [the Shechinah] who abides there, who is My love, and the Beloved of My soul. It therefore seems to Me like the best fragrance in the world, due to the Bride that dwells among them.' Rabbi Yosi said: Had I come only to hear this, it would be enough.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: This is a beautiful parable which should be thoroughly tasted and savored and put in your pocket for future contemplation—what does it mean to you, and why revealed now?

G‑d's presence is with us, always. Even here in the exile, in a place that is devoid of the sacred air of the Holy land. It is the Shechinah who has stood by us.

Who knows the extent of the protection she has afforded to us under her wings? How else could we as a people have materially prospered in the United States?

Turn around on your beach and see the one set of footprints. They are not yours. They are those of the Divine Presence carrying you at all times. G‑d loves you, and we are commanded to make sure that this love not go unrequited.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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