169. Rabbi Yitzchak was going to his father's vineyard. He saw a man turning FROM THE ROAD with a load tied to his shoulder. He asked him, What is the purposes of the rope that adorns your shoulders, THAT IS, WHY DID YOU TIE THE LOAD TO YOUR SHOULDERS? He did not answer at all. He followed him and saw him entering a cave, so he entered after him. He saw a column of smoke rising from beneath the ground and the man entering a hole and disappearing from his sight. Rabbi Yitzchak was afraid and went out to the mouth of the cave.
170. While he was sitting, Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Chizkiyah passed by. When he saw them he approached them and told them what happened. Rabbi Yehuda said, Blessed is the Merciful who saved you. This is a cave of lepers from the city of Srunya. All the inhabitants of that city are sorcerers that go to the desert to seek black serpents, which are at least ten years old, in order to do witchcraft. They did not take care of themselves so became lepers. The different kinds of witchcraft are done in that cave.
171. They walked on. While they were walking they met a man coming with his sick child on a donkey. They asked him, Who are you? He said to them, I am a Jew, and this is my son bound upon the donkey. They asked him why he was bound, and he said to them, I dwell in a certain village that belongs to the citizens of Rome. This my son used to study Torah daily and return home to learn these matters. I dwelt in this house for three years and saw nothing. Now, one day my son went home to repeat the things HE LEARNED, when a spirit passed before him and harmed him. His mouth, eyes and hands became contorted and he cannot speak. Now I come to the lepers' cave of Srunya. They may teach me some healing.
172. Rabbi Yehuda said, Do you know of anyone else who came to harm in that house before? He said that he knew that some time ago another man came to harm. Some said it is a disease while others said the spirit in that house HURT HIM. Later a few people came into that house but were not hurt. RABBI YEHUDA AND RABBI CHIZKIYAH said, that is, the friends said THAT IN A HOUSE BUILT NOT WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS, THE SPIRIT OF DEFILEMENT THAT HARMS ITS DWELLERS RESTS. Woe to those who transgress their words.
173. Rabbi Yehuda opened the discussion with, "Woe to him that builds his house by unrighteousness" (Yirmeyah 22:13). Wherever there is righteousness, MALCHUT, all the spirits and demons in the world flee that place and do not stay before it. Nevertheless, whoever is the first to take that place, acquires it. IF MALCHUT OF HOLINESS IS THE FIRST TO RECEIVE THAT PLACE, HOLINESS SECURES IT, BUT IF THE OTHER SIDE IS THE FIRST TO RECEIVE THAT PLACE, IT SECURES IT. Rabbi Chizkiyah said to him, In that case the Holy Name is equal to the spirit of defilement, ACCORDING TO YOUR WORDS THAT WHOEVER IS THE FIRST SECURES IT.
174. He said to him, It is not so, but the Holy Name, MALCHUT, does not dwell on a place of defilement, for the reason that if the Holy Name is the first to receive that place, none of the spirits and demons of the world can be seen there, not to mention approaching it. But if the spirit of defilement is the first, it takes that place, and the Holy Name does not dwell in it, since it is not its place.
175. When the plague of leprosy descended UPON THAT HOUSE, it would purify that place and bring out the spirit of defilement from its place. Later, that house was broken down together with its wood, stones and everything, and rebuilt through the Holy Side and in righteousness, by mentioning the Holy Name and causing holiness to rest on it. Nevertheless ONE SHOULD BUILD IT using a different earth and build it two hand-breadths away.
176. Now that nothing appears or descends to fight the spirit of holiness to uproot it from its place, SINCE THERE ARE NO PLAGUES NOW, what is to be done IN A HOUSE WHERE THE SPIRIT OF DEFILEMENT WAS THE FIRST TO DWELL? HE ANSWERS, If one can take it out ON HIS OWN from the house, it is well. Otherwise, he should rebuild it using different stones, wood, etc., and pull it away from its first location and dedicate its building to the Holy Name.
177. With all that, the spirit of defilement does not leave its first place and holiness does not dwell on a defiled place. Rabbi Yitzchak said, Why should one bother to DEMOLISH THE HOUSE AND REBUILD IT IN A DIFFERENT LOCATION, in these days WHEN THERE ARE NO PLAGUES? It is written, "That which is crooked cannot be made straight" (Kohelet 1:15), FOREVER since the Temple was destroyed, AND THERE ARE NO PLAGUES, there is no remedy. For that reason one should be careful to be guarded FROM THE SPIRIT OF DEFILEMENT, SO THAT IT WILL NO LONGER DWELL IN THAT HOUSE.
178. They said, Let us go with that man TO THE LEPERS' CAVE, and see. Rabbi Yitzchak said, We must not. Had he gone to receive remedy from a great sin-fearing man, like Na'aman, who went to Elisha, we would follow. But now that he goes to those who are distant from the world, THE LEPERS AND THE SORCERERS, distant from the Torah, abominable in every respect, we must not appear before them. Blessed is the Merciful who saved us from them, and a man is forbidden TO RECEIVE REMEDY FROM THEM. Rabbi Yehuda said, Yet we learned that everything is good for remedy excepting the woods of the Ashera. He said to him, This is idolatry AND SO IS FORBIDDEN. Moreover, it is written, "There must not be found among you anyone that makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire" (Devarim 18:10). They went on their way.