1. "And Hashem spoke to Moses, saying, Pinchas, the son of Elazar..." (Bemidbar 25:10-11). Rabbi Elazar began, "Hear, my son, the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the Torah of your mother" (Mishlei 1:8). "Hear, my son, the instruction of your father..." refers to the Holy One, blessed be He. "and do not forsake the Torah of your mother," refers to the Congregation of Yisrael. What is the instruction of your father? Instruction is the Torah which contains a number of rebukes and punishments, as it is said: "My son, do not despise the chastening of Hashem, nor be weary of His correction" (Mishlei 3:11).
2. And since everyone who engages in Torah in this world is worthy that a number of gates, a number of lights to the World to Come, be opened for him, therefore when he departs from this world THE TORAH precedes him, going to all the gate keepers proclaiming, "Open the gates, that the righteous nation...may enter in" (Yeshayah 26:2). Prepare a seat for so-and-so, the King's servant! The Holy One, blessed be He, has no joy other than with one who engages in Torah. How much more so with a man who rises up at night to engage in Torah, for all the righteous in the Garden of Eden are attentive to his voice and the Holy One, blessed be He, is among them, as they put it: "You that dwell in the gardens, the companions hearken for your voice: Cause me to hear it" (Shir Hashirim 8:13).
3. Rabbi Shimon said: This verse has in it the secret of wisdom. "You that dwell in the gardens" (Shir Hashirim 8:13) refers to the Congregation of Yisrael, THAT IS MALCHUT, which is with Yisrael in exile and accompanies them in their troubles. "the companions hearken for your voice..." (Ibid.) refers to the camps of the higher heavenly ANGELS, all of whom listen to your voice, the voice of your praises in exile. "Cause me to hear it" (Ibid.) is as it is said: "let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice" (Shir Hashirim 2:14). "let me hear your voice" refers to the voice of those companions who engage in Torah, for I have no praise such as those who engage in Torah.
4. Rabbi Shimon said: It is as if all those who are privileged to engage in Torah at midnight and ad the day begins to dawn come with the Queen to welcome the King, grow stronger and take possession of the Shechinah. Moreover, a thread of grace hangs over such a one, as the sages have explained.
5. Come and see: Everyone who is privileged to be strengthened in the Shechinah gains protection for himself from those matters that are considered to be opposed TO THE SHECHINAH. Who is protected? Those who do not falsify by the sign of the Holy Covenant LIKE MATING WITH the daughter of a foreign El. And he who is careful, as it were, the Congregation of Yisrael is linked to him, in turn, and protects him and welcomes him. And this is even more so if he has been privileged to attain it, THE SIGN OF THE HOLY COVENANT.
6. Rabbi Shimon said: Yisrael at that time would have deserved to have been extirpated from the world had not Pinchas first done the deed OF KILLING ZIMRI AND COZBI, and thus the anger abated. This is what is said: "Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my wrath away" (Bemidbar 25:11). Another explanation: "Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of...:" Rabbi Shimon said, The word son occurs twice to complete the act.
7. Rabbi Shimon said: When the soul of a person reincarnates, MEANING A SECOND TIME AROUND, without gaining merits to be changed for the better, it is as though he betrays the truth of the King and I apply to him the verse, ."..or has found that which was lost, and have lied concerning it, and have sworn falsely..." (Vayikra 5:22). "And have lied concerning it," MEANING TO THE SOUL, it would have been better for him had he not been created, FOR IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER HAD HE NOT REINCARNATED INTO THIS WORLD.
8. We have learned: A totally righteous person is not put off BY AN EVIL PERSON AND MAY CHALLENGE HIM, but one who is not totally righteous is held back AND IS FORBIDDEN TO CHALLENGE AN EVIL PERSON. HE ASKS, Who is totally righteous? And who is incompletely righteous? And could it be that one who is not perfect in his deeds is nevertheless called 'righteous,' THAT IS, THAT YOU REFER TO HIM AS AN INCOMPLETE RIGHTEOUS? FOR SOMEONE WHO IS LACKING IN HIS DEEDS, ACCORDING TO HOW THEY SHOULD BE, OUGHT TO BE CALLED 'EVIL.' HE ANSWERS, it is known that a totally righteous person is one who has not undergone crooked incarnations THAT IS, HE IS NOT INCARNATED and within his OWN inheritance he constructs edifices, puts up walls, digs wells and plants trees. THAT IS TO SAY, ALL THE GOOD DEEDS THAT HE DID PERTAIN TO HIM, FOR HE HAS NO NEED OF IMPROVING OTHERS.
9. An incompletely righteous person IS one who constructs edifices on someone else's inheritance, THAT IS TO SAY, WHOSE SOUL IS ON ITS SECOND INCARNATION BECAUSE HE WAS WICKED THE FIRST TIME, WITH THE RESULT THAT ALL HIS GOOD DEEDS ARE NEEDED TO REPAIR THE SOUL FROM THE FIRST TIME THAT IT CAME INTO THE WORLD, AND SO HIS EDIFICES ARE BUILT WITHIN SOMEONE ELSE'S INHERITANCE. He digs wells within it and cultivates it, restores the foundation stones to the way they were, and labors there, but does not know whether it will remain his. For in terms of himself, THAT IS, ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS IN THIS INCARNATION, he is good, and is considered righteous person. But in terms of the legacy, THAT IS, IN TERMS OF HIS DEEDS ON THE FIRST TIME HE CAME INTO THE WORLD, he is not so. THAT IS TO SAY, HE HAS NOT YET REMEDIED THE EFFECTS OF THE SINS COMMITTED THE FIRST TIME.
10. HE IS LIKENED TO a man who constructs beautiful and attractive buildings. Look at the foundation and see how it is sunken and twisted in all directions. The building will not be perfect until he has demolished it and rebuilt it as it was, NAMELY, AS IT SHOULD BE. Thus in terms of the superstructure of the building that he constructed, everything was good and fine but in terms of the edifice's foundation it is bad and twisted, and for this reason is not referred to as a perfect deed, and not considered a perfect building. AND SO IT IS WITH THE INCARNATED MAN. ALTHOUGH IN TERMS OF HIS DEEDS HE IS RIGHTEOUS, NEVERTHELESS, SINCE HE HAS NOT YET REMEDIED THE EFFECTS OF THE SINS HE COMMITTED THE FIRST TIME THAT HE CAME INTO THE WORLD, he is called 'an incompletely righteous person' because of it and he is held back BY A WICKED MAN. And about this SCRIPTURE SAYS, "When the wicked devours the man that is more righteous than he" (Chavakuk 1:13).