Pekudei: Chapter 49

The chamber of merit - Gvurah


We hear that the fourth chamber, 'merit,' is the one by which God becomes known on earth. This is the chamber where all the merits, debts, punishments and rewards are kept. Rabbi Shimon gives us a great amount of detail about the four chambers that are really all one chamber, and about the spirit who takes everything and who is called Zechut El. From him there issue seventy lights and then another two lights, and these lights are spoken of with much emphasis on the number 72. We hear about the three letters that are engraved on Zechut El. The chambers are for lawsuits and judgment, for verdicts and sentences.

Rabbi Shimon tells us the names of the chieftains at the gates of the chambers. He reveals how information is sent from this chamber down to men of vision and dreams, down to prophets, with the knowledge descending from grade to grade. Some of the grades are appointed to watch people and keep them from evil, some to help people who have come to be purified, some to perform miracles and signs, and some to report back on peoples' actions.

In the same way, the Other Side has grades that do various evil works in the world. Rabbi Shimon tells us of the chiefs who are variously in charge of merits, deliverance, judgment, transgressions and the scales of justice. Again we hear about the glowing living creature called Tumiel who is in charge of prayers and who reigns over four Seraphim. The Seraphim emit sparks of fire that create 72 wheels glowing with fire that create the river of fire in which spirits are burned after death.

During Shabbat the river stops burning and the living creature enters the middle of the chamber, the place called 'Delight'. Here there are tens of thousands of chieftains who stand over the tables prepared on earth for Sabbath, ready to say 'Amen' to the blessings that Tumiel puts on those tables. There is a chamber opposite to the one called 'Delight', and it is called 'Pestilence' - it is reserved for those whose tables are not properly laid and who loved cursing. Everything is judged in the chamber of merit except for three things: children, life and sustenance. This is because all three flow down from above, from Yesod of Zeir Anpin.