Rabbi Yehuda opened his discourse with the verse regarding a ruler who sinned: "Or if his sin, wherein he has sinned, comes to his knowledge [lit. 'it causes him to know his sin']." (Lev. 4:23) "It causes him" from which side? It should have said, 'or if he knew his sin', why "it causes him to know"? G‑d ordered the Congregation of Israel [the Shechinah] to inform a man of the sin he committed. With what does she inform him? With her punishment [by bringing him sufferings appropriate to the act] as written, "The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise up against him." (Job 20:27)1 "Causes him to know" as one ordering another [to think about what he is doing wrong in his life and correct it].

...his very soul rises and testifies before G‑d...

We learned that when a man sins before G‑d yet does not care about his sin [enough] to repent before G‑d, but throws it behind his shoulder [as though he has done nothing wrong], his very soul rises and testifies before G‑d [so that the body won’t get too deeply defiled]. The King commands the Congregation of Israel, saying, "cause him to know his sin, wherein he has sinned:" send him punishments and let him know his sin, as in the verse: "Cause Jerusalem to know her abominations." (Ezekiel 16:2)

When judgment reaches him, his spirit awakens to do penance before his Master. He is humbled and brings an offering, for he of a proud heart sins and forgets his sin and does not keep it in mind to deal with it as required. G‑d, therefore is ready for him and orders to cause him to know his sin, so that he shall not forget it [thereby enabling him to rectify his mistakes].

Rabbi Yosi said, Surely this is so. We have seen this with David that after he did the deed by Bathsheba, he did not pay attention to it.2 G‑d said to him: You have forgotten it, I shall remind you of it. Straight away it is written [that the prophet Natan said to David], "You are the man. Thus says G‑d the L-rd of Israel." (II Samuel 12:7) You are the man who did not remember the sin, you are the man who forgot it. With what did he inform him? with judgment [as King David was driven out – as if divorced – from Jerusalem].

G‑d also said [to the Shechinah], "Cause him to know his sin, wherein he has sinned." (Lev. 4:23) These words are true and it is so, for it is not written, 'Or if it be known to him', as in "or if it be known that the ox has long been in the habit of goring." (Ex. 21:36)

Whoever rises up at night to study the Torah, the Torah informs him of his sin. It is not harsh punishment, but as a mother who tells her child with soothing words. And he does not forget but repents before his Master.

You may say that David used to rise at midnight [to study Torah]. Why did they come on him through punishment [instead of the Torah informing him of his sin]? David is different because he sinned against that to which he was connected [his own attribute, malchut] and required judgment. So he judged himself according to his sin [as he responded to the allegory that the prophet Natan told him – “that man deserves death’]. For he sinned against the holy malchut and holy Jerusalem. He was therefore expelled from Jerusalem and his kingdom was taken from him, until he made proper amends.

Why did G‑d punish David through his son...

Rabbi Yehuda asked, Why did G‑d punish David through his son, as written, "Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house"? (II Samuel 12:11) Rabbi Yosi replied, We explained that the reason for this is if another man would rise against him, he will take no pity on him. He said to him: But Absalom wished to kill his father and took evil counsels even more than any other man would have. He said to him: I have not heard an explanation for this.

He [Rabbi Yehuda] said to him: I heard [that it was because] David sinned with Bathsheba. [The name BathSheba literally means "daughter of seven", as she was of the 7th sefira, malchut. Had David waited until she was readily given to him, he would have merited to beget the Moshiach who would redeem the Shechinah/malchut. But, because David didn't wait and didn't conquer his evil inclination, as befitting him] G‑d said, Let a son of a daughter of a foreign nation come and take revenge. [David blemished BathSheva, who supernally was the Shechinah; he therefore was avenged by his first child.] Who is this? It is Absalom, who was the son of a good-looking woman taken prisoner during war. [The Sages teach that it is permitted to marry a woman taken as a prisoner-of- war in deference to the strong evil inclination present then.] From this, we learned that whoever takes such a woman at war and desires her, he will have a disloyal and defiant child issues from her. Why? Because the pollution [of primordial carnal lust] has not yet been stopped from him, as we have already explained.3

BeRahamim LeHayyim:
One verse says: " Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins." (Eccl. 7:20)
And yet another verse says: "And all of your people are righteous." (Isaiah 60:21)

I miss the mark...We all miss the mark.

I miss the mark. You miss the mark. We all miss the mark. That is why it is good for one to always carry the two above quotes in one's pocket, especially after reading the Holy Zohar above.

We know that King David described above was a righteous man who slaughtered his evil inclination by fasting. Yet even he missed the mark.

For simply there is almost no one who doesn't. Yet we are all righteous, in a certain sense. If we know the first verse, intimately, we can forgive ourselves but not forget our miss-take. King David kept his mistakes before him always. (Psalms 51:5)

If we know the second verse, intimately, we can trust our inner sense to do the right thing always. Perhaps that too is what King David meant when he said, "I balance myself before G‑d always". (Psalms 16:8) He just never stopped trying. Ever.

"You are not required to complete the task, yet you are not free to withdraw from it" (Pirkei Avot II:21)

Perhaps as the above Zohar notes, the most important thing is to care, and to never stop trying.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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