163. Rabbi Elazar opened the discussion, saying: "There is a vanity (Heb. hevel) which is done upon the earth; that there are just men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked... I said that this also is vanity" (Kohelet 8:14). This verse was explained, but THE WORDS, "There is vanity," MEAN THAT King Solomon wrote this book and based it on seven vanities, WHICH ARE THE SEVEN SFIROT OF ZEIR ANPIN, WHICH IS THE LIGHT OF THE RUACH. AND THE SEVEN LOWER SFIROT OF RUACH ARE CALLED 'VANITIES.' The world, WHICH IS THE NUKVA, is based on them, AS ITS SEVEN SFIROT ARE UPHELD BY THE SEVEN SFIROT - CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET, NETZACH, HOD, YESOD AND MALCHUT OF ZEIR ANPIN. FOR THE NUKVA IS THE SECRET OF SPEECH, AND THERE IS NO SPEECH WITHOUT AIR (HEB. HEVEL) THAT BEATS UPON THE FIVE ARTICULATION PLACES IN THE MOUTH, AS IS KNOWN.
164. These seven vanities are called 'the seven pillars that support the world,' WHICH IS THE NUKVA, and they correspond to the seven firmaments. And these are, Curtain, Firmament, Skies, Temple, Dwelling, Institute, Heaven. "'Vanities of Vanities,' said Kohelet, 'vanities of vanities; all is vanity'" (Kohelet 1:2), corresponds to them. WE HAVE HERE SEVEN VANITIES. BECAUSE "VANITY OF VANITIES," ARE THREE, TOGETHER WITH "VANITY OF VANITIES," THERE ARE SIX, AND WITH "VANITY," MENTIONED AT THE END OF THE VERSE, IT EQUALS SEVEN.
165. As there are seven firmaments, and there are other firmaments that are attached to them and spread out and emanate from them - WHICH ARE THE SEVEN FIRMAMENTS THAT ARE IN THE NUKVA - so there are other vanities, MEANING OF THE NUKVA, that spread out and emanate from these SEVEN VANITIES OF ZEIR ANPIN. Solomon mentioned them all IN HIS BOOK OF KOHELET.
166. And here is the secret of Chochmah, meaning in the verse, "There is a vanity," THE ASPECT OF YESOD OF THE VANITIES, that emanates from the supernal vanities AFOREMENTIONED, upon which the world, WHICH IS THE NUKVA, is based. And this is THE MEANING OF, "Which is done upon the earth" (Kohelet 8:14), MEANING ON THE NUKVA THAT IS CALLED 'EARTH.' "WHICH IS DONE," MEANS THAT YESOD is maintained and its power is strengthened by the tillers of earth, WHO ARE THE RIGHTEOUS, and in the elevation OF THEIR MAYIN NUKVIN ('FEMALE WATERS') that rise from the earth. And this, YESOD, is appointed TO POUR upon the earth. All its might and existence is from the souls of the righteous that were gathered from the earth, MEANING THEY DIED while being righteous, before they sinned, when they were still emanating a fragrant scent. For example, it is written about Enoch: "And he was not, for Elohim took him" (Beresheet 5:24). For He took him before his time had arrived TO DIE, and He delighted in him. And it is so with the other righteous of the world.
167. We learned that two things cause the righteous to leave the world before their time, One, because of the sins of the generation; when the wicked multiply in the world then the righteous who are among them are punished for their sins. Another is when it is revealed before the Holy One, blessed be He, that they will sin later on. He then removes them from the world before their time. This is what is written, "There are just men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked." They are treated as though they had sinned and acted wicked by celestial justice.
168. One time, Rabbi Yosi ben Rabbi Ya'akov, the leader of Kfar Ono asked Rabbi Meir about the time that Rabbi Akiva and his friends passed from the world and died in that manner, MEANING THAT THEY WERE KILLED BY THE AUTHORITIES. He said to him, Is it written anywhere in the Torah thus, THAT RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE SHOULD SUFFER SO? RABBI MEIR said to him, It is not WRITTEN SO, and did not Solomon say, "There are just men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked?" They are judged from above as though they sinned and acted like the wicked. "There are wicked men, to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous" (Kohelet 8:14). They sit quietly and peacefully in this world and Judgment does not reach them as though they had acted like righteous people.
169. HE ASKS, Why DOES IT HAPPEN TO THEM ACCORDING TO THE RIGHTEOUS? AND HE ANSWERS, Either because it is revealed before the Holy One, blessed be He, that they will repent, or that a righteous person will descend from them, as Terah, from whom emanated the true seed of Abraham; or Achaz from whom came Hezekiah. AND SO the other wicked of the world. Therefore, on both sides, MEANING BY THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED, vanity IS DONE and is strengthened upon the earth, as we have said.
170. Another explanation OF THE VERSE, "There is a vanity which is done upon the earth:" as we said, ITS MEANING IS that it prevails in the world. How? Because "there are just men, to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked," meaning that the actions of sinners confront them - SUCH AS a daughter of idol worshippers, or other actions that are actions of the wicked - but they make their stand AND DO NOT SIN, because of fear of their Master, and they do not wish to become impure. Like many truly righteous, they are confronted by similar actions. And they are valiant for they have done the desire of their Master and did not sin. On this is written, "Vanity has been done of the earth," and its might grows strong.
171. "Again, there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous." IT IS when they are presented with a good deed, which is an action of the righteous, that they merit it and fulfill it. For example, there was a JEWISH murderer in the hills with heathen murderers, and when a Jew would pass by there he would save him and guard him from the others. Rabbi Akiva would declare of him, "There are wicked men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous."
172. Another instance is the wicked person who was the neighbor of Rabbi Chiya, who met a woman one night who was going to her daughter's home. He wanted to rape her. She said to him, I beg of you, honor your Master and do not sin by me. He left her and did not sin by her. He said, "There are wicked men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous, I said that this also is vanity," meaning that vanity becomes powerful by the righteous to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked, yet they do not sin. Similarly, it becomes powerful by the wicked to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous, and they do fulfill them.