Parashat Shoftim deals with the establishment of courts and witnesses. The Hebrew word for "evidence / eidut", is also the letters which spell "daat", meaning "intelligence" - or "wit" - related to "witness". The difference between the Torah code of evidence and all other "modern" legal systems is that a person cannot give evidence against himself. A matter is only proven by the testimony of two witnesses other than the accused.

How much human misery this simple rule would have saved over history if it were the base of other legal systems! In this week's Zohar translation, Raya Mehemna, the soul of the "Faithful Shepherd", Moses, explains the implications of this in spiritual terms.

"One witness shall not rise up against any man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any that he sins; the matter shall be established by the verbal testimony of two witnesses, or by the verbal testimony of three witnesses." (Deut. 19:15)

This mitzvah to give testimony before a court of law [is based on the principal] that a person should not cause [even] a monetary loss to his friend by failing to give evidence if he knows evidence that will be in his merit. Furthermore, there is no [valid] evidence less than that of two [witnesses]. This is as is written: "By the mouth of two witnesses shall a matter be established." A wicked person has his sins engraved on his bones…

The evidence of one witness alone will not establish an issue. Because of this the Masters of the Mishna have asked: [concerning evidence against a person in the spiritual world] "Who will give evidence against a person [for secret sins he has done in private]?" [And they have taught that it will be]: "The walls of his house, and not only that [witness, but also] the members of his household will give evidence against him."

On the simple level this teaches that the true test for a person's behavior is how he acts at home. This is explained on a deeper level to also mean his own physical being consisting of his 248 limbs. Two witnesses are required here because if a person only thinks of sinning, but doesn't carry it out, the walls of his house will know but his limbs will not be able to testify since he did nothing. On the other hand, if he acted unintentionally, his limbs will testify but the walls not. Here we see that walls really do have ears!

What are "the walls of his house"? These are the walls of his heart. Regarding this it is written: "Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to G‑d." (Isaiah 38:2)

This righteous King of Judah, hearing that the Assyrian army had surrounded Jerusalem, responded by prayer alone - and was granted a miraculous victory as the huge enemy force perished of a plaque overnight!

And the Rabbis have taught that Hezekiah prayed from the walls of his heart.

The heart has two ventricles. One receives blood from all the 248 limbs and one sends out oxygenated blood to them. There is a wall between these two parts and it was to this wall that he turned to test his limbs to see if they had sinned.

"The members of his household" are the 248 limbs of a person.

The body of a person is called his "house", because it houses his holy soul and the individual limbs are "the members of his household". The factor determining what part of the body is a limb is whether or not it has a bone at its core.

And it has been explained by the Masters of the Mishna that a wicked person has his sins engraved on his bones.

The Hebrew word for bones is "atzamot". This is closely related to the word meaning "essence / atzmut". If a sin is such that it comes from the very core of one's personality, then it is as though engraved on his essence. It is this essence, the bone of the matter, which will give evidence against him. The white bones come from the sefira of chochma, and sin blackens the light of wisdom. This effect on the bones apparently comes out as forensic evidence about a person in the spiritual court!

And so it is with a righteous person, his merits are engraved on his bones.

Since his actions were connected with higher wisdom, the bones would be engraved as bright light on white.

This is the reason King David said: "All my bones will say, who is like You Oh G‑d!" (Psalms 35:10) This is also why it is written: "And who gives evidence against a person? The walls of his house." (Taanit 11a)

The walls of his house are his bones since they are the mainstay of his body. The essential resurrection begins with the bones…

The bones are built by the brain [chochma] that is water, and it is about this that [King] David hinted: "Who lays the beams [in Hebrew, "hamikoreh"] of his chambers in the waters." (Psalms 104:3) "Hamikoreh" has the root word "kir" [meaning "wall"] in it.

Thus the brain, represented the sefira of chochma and made of water, forms the walls and ceiling of the body, i.e. the bones.

And why are the [merits of the righteous] engraved on the bones more than on the muscles and skin? It is because the bones are white, and the writing in black ink is not recognized other than on a white background. This is like the Torah that is [rooted in chochma and therefore] white [parchment] inside and black [ink standing] out. Black and white are like darkness and light. There is also [blue-like] darkness [representing the recording of the acts of the wicked], and it said regarding them: "Even the darkness is not dark for You; but the night shines like the day; darkness is as light with You." (Psalms 139:12) And blue-black is always feminine [i.e. strict judgment] in respect to white.

Black restricts the pure white background, just as bina takes the light of wisdom and restricts it into vessels, a classic "female" function.

And not only this, but the body will also arise in the future [resurrection of the dead].

These are the dry bones in the vision of Ezekiel. From this vision we learn that the essential resurrection begins with the bones, over which will grow flesh, sinew and skin. The record of a person is therefore on the bones, since this will affect his resurrection.

If he is worthy, the body will be resurrected on its bones, and if not worthy, it will not rise [from the grave] and it will not be resurrected.

Zohar, parashat Shoftim p.275a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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