Trumah: Chapter 41

Punishment in Gehenom


Rabbi Yehuda begins this discussion by saying that the fire of Gehenom was extinguished until the Evil Inclination appeared, that it burns only with the strength of the heat of the Evil Inclination of the wicked. The text then lists the seven types of wicked people, each of whom has a chamber in Gehenom. An angel rules over that place under the guidance of Dumah, and thousands of angels with him judge the wicked. On the Shabbat, those who observed Shabbat have rest from their punishments, but those who did not observe it continue to burn. Rabbi Yehuda next tells us that the body in the grave is judged until it is decomposed - and this is true for the righteous as well as well as the wicked. Only a very few people are worthy to raise their souls immediately, and these few may therefore be buried in a coffin. He adds that Moses, Aaron and Miriam did not die by the hand of the Destroying Angel, but rather by the hand of God. Those who die in the Holy Land do not die by the hand of the destroyer, but by the hand of the Angel of Mercy. Those who die outside of the Holy Land, we are told, are called 'carcasses', because the Other Side dwells upon them. The rabbi finally explains the four pairs of tenants in Chevron who are not dead, but just sleeping, and are thus hidden in the entrance to the Garden of Eden.


The fires of Hell, we are told, burn only with the strength of the heat of the Evil Inclination of the wicked. The wicked are thus complicit in their own punishment, creating, by their very sins, the fires in which they are burned. Our meditation cools down the hellish fires. And when we pour just a little love into this mixture, the Light of the Zohar extinguishes these fires eternally. The Evil Inclination that dwells in our hearts burns away, meriting us the complete assistance of the Angel of Mercy as we ascend from this world into the next. We ignite a global spiritual transformation, and both Angels, Death and Mercy, are now relieved of their obligations, for bliss becomes our new reality.