207. "If a soul shall sin" (Vayikra 4:2): Rabbi Yosi opened the discussion saying, "Before the day cools, and the shadows flee away..." (Shir Hashirim 2:17). How much should men fear sinning, so as not to sin before their Master! For every day a crier comes forth and declares: people, waken your hearts before the Holy King, arise to beware of your sins, rouse the holy soul He placed in you, out of the supernal holy place.
208. We learned that when the Holy One, blessed be He, takes out the soul to bring it down amongst men, He advises it with many promises and many punishments, so that it will observe His precepts. Furthermore, He passes it through a thousand and eight worlds, to have delight and see in them the honor of those who study the Torah. It stands before the King with a precious garment of a worldly shape. With a precious supernal garment, it daily beholds the King's glory and He adorns it with many crowns.
209. When the time comes to descend into this world, it fixes its abode in the Garden of Eden for thirty days to behold the preciousness of the Master of the righteous. It then rises to its place above. Afterwards, it descends into the world. The Holy King adorns it with seven crowns and it then comes into a man's body. When it is in a man's body and sins in this world and is occupied with darkness, the Torah then wonders at it and says, why, with all this glory and perfection with which the most high King perfected the soul, does it sin before Him? "If a soul shall sin." Wherefore does it sin?
210. Rabbi Yosi said, "If a soul shall sin." Let us return to the verse: "Before the day cools." This is advice to the soul to beware of its sins and return to be cleansed "before the day cools" of this world. Then that harsh day will come when the King will demand to execute Judgment and take it out of this world. "And the shadows flee away:" It is a secret among the friends, who say that when a man's time comes to leave this world, the man's image leaves him. Hence, it says, "Before the day cools," before the day passes and leaves this world "and the shadows (Heb. tzelalim) flee away," as the image (Heb. tzelem) departs to return before its Master.
211. Rabbi Elazar said, Man has two images (Heb. tzelamim) when he is alive, one big and the other small, as it written "shadows (Heb. tzelalim)" IN THE PLURAL, THE LEAST OF WHICH IS two. When they are together, man is alive. It is therefore written, "And the shadows flee away." It behooves a man then to examine his actions, and to rectify them before his Master and confess them, for the Holy One, blessed be He, is called merciful and gracious and accepts them who repent before Him.
212. This continues "until the day cools and the shadows flee away." When these shadows depart from him and he is put in chains AND ABOUT TO DIE, it is considered repentance as well IF HE THEN REPENTS, but not as good as repentance he does when alive. King Solomon declares, "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come..." (Kohelet 12:1).
213. Therefore, "before the day cools" it behooves man to make good his deeds, for when his time comes to depart from the world, the Holy One, blessed be He, wonders at him and says, "If a soul shall sin and hear the voice of adjuration" (Vayikra 5:1). I have made it swear by oath in My name that it will not be false to Me, and warned it when it descended into the world. "And is a witness" (Ibid.), for several times I admonished it to keep My precepts. Hence, since a man is a witness when he returns before the King, "whether he has seen or known of it" (Ibid.), "whether he has seen" the sins he committed and looked at them, "or known" clearly that he transgressed his Master's command, "if he does not utter" (Ibid.) and confess before his Master, when he departs from the world, THEN "he shall bear his iniquity" (Ibid.). When he bears his iniquity, how will an opening be opened to him and how shall he stand up before his Master?! It is therefore written, "If a soul shall sin."
214. "If a soul shall sin." Rabbi Aba opened the discussion with the verse: "All this is come on us, yet we have not forgotten You, nor have we been false to Your covenant" (Tehilim 44:18). "All this is come on us:" HE ASKS, Why didn't it say 'All these are come,' INSTEAD OF 'COME' IN THE FEMININE SINGULAR? HE ANSWERS, All the Judgments above INCLUDED IN "ZOT (LIT. 'THIS' FEM.)" have come on us; NAMELY, IT SAYS "ALL THIS (HEB. ZOT)" BECAUSE "ZOT" IS MALCHUT, WHICH INCLUDES ALL THE UPPER JUDGMENTS. SCRIPTURE THEREFORE SAYS, "IS COME" IN THE FEMININE. "Yet we have not forgotten You;" NAMELY, we have not forgotten the words of Your Torah. From this, we learned that he who forgets the words of the Torah and refuses to study it, it is as if he forgot the Holy One, blessed be He, as the whole Torah is the name of the Holy One, blessed be He.