Pekudei: Chapter 44

The six grades of the Other Side


Rabbi Shimon explains the levels and grades of darkness, rage and judgment. We learn of 'the shadow of death' and 'death' and then of the color of smoke, the color of fire and the black color. The color of smoke goes down into the world and instigates people to anger. The color of fire descends to the world and causes killings and bloodshed. The color of black descends into the world and is in charge over the hanged and the strangled; it always harms people. Rabbi Shimon describes the four types of rage, and then talks about the second grade, where all the fiends come out. They roam around the world and are always ready to take revenge for the hidden sins that people do. We learn how the second and third grades spread until they reach the black firmament. Rabbi Shimon talks about the three 'joints' of the 'right arm'. The first is called 'transgression', and only weakens when Yisrael offers sacrifices. The second is called 'ire', that brings sorrow and hardship into the world. The third is called 'trouble' because it sends out the power to oppress and give trouble to men. The secret of these three joints is the verse: "wrath, and indignation, and trouble." Then he moves to the joints of the left arm, saying that when they join they get stronger, as in: "an embassy of evil messengers." From the left arm all the evil demons are sent down. The fourth grade of the Other Side sends out a force that gives permission in the world to shed blood. In all the grades and in each joint there are chieftains with battalions of fiends. Rabbi Shimon turns to the fourth grade, where fiends are sent down to execute the evil judgments against people. We hear that the fifth grade is divided into right and left called 'thighs', Netzach and Hod. This is where the power of pursuing every evil comes from. We learn that the joints of the Other Side all turn backward rather than forward, and are told about the right and left joints of the fifth grade. They harm anyone who is meritorious but has no ancestral merit to protect him and they chase the wicked who have been marked by the angel so that they get diseases. All the same Rabbi Shimon explains that diseases do not come from the Other Side: they are called 'sufferings of love', because the Torah says: "But it pleases Hashem to crush him by disease." Rabbi Shimon describes the sixth and last grade as 'foreskin' because it is the secret of the piercing serpent and pertains to the meaning of circumcision.