VII He Will Again Have Compassion Upon Us
The Holy One, Blessed is He, does not behave as a human being behaves. When the latter has been provoked he cannot bring himself to love as formerly the one who offended him, even when he has been appeased. But in God's sight the repentant sinner has a higher status than the man who has never sinned. This is the meaning of the Rabbinic teaching[1] that in the place where the penitent stands the perfectly righteous cannot stand. The reason for this has been expounded by the Rabbi's in the chapter 'He Who Builds[2],' where it is stated that the letter He is shapped like an exedra[3] so that whomsoever wishes to go astray may do so. That is to say, the world was created[4] by means of the letter He and the Holy One, Blessed is He, created the world wide open in the direction of sin and evil. As the exedra, the world is not fully enclosed but is broken open towards the direction of evil. Consequently, he who wishes to go astray need not turn in those directions where there is no sin and iniquity by which to enter in the province of the Outside Ones[5]. But the He is open at the top left-hand corner[6] so that if the sinner repents he can be recieved back there. Upon which the Talmud asks: 'And why should he not re-enter by the same way as he went out?' and the reply is give: 'This will have no effect,' meaning that the repentant sinner cannot be content to be fenced around from sinning as are the perfectly righteous. For a slight fence is sufficient to act as a barrier against sin for those who have not sinned. But such a barrier will not suffice for the pentinent. He requires new and difficult fences. For the slight fence has been broken through and if he tries to draw near in that direction his evil inclination will find it easy to tempt him. He needs to be very far removed from sin. Consequently, he cannot enter at the opening of the exedra where it is breached. He must ascend to enter through the narrow opening, tormenting and mortifying himself until the breaches have been healed. This is why the righteous cannot stand in the place of the penitents. For the latter have not entered by the door of the righteous, but they have tormented themselves, ascending through the upper door. They have far deeper mortified and separated themselves from sin than have the righteous. They have therefore ascended until they stand in the spiritual degree of He - namely, the fifth palace[7] of the Garden of Eden[8], which is the roof of the He, while the righteous have entered at the opening of the He at the entrance to the exedra.

Consequently, then man repents - and this means that he restores the He[9] to its proper place - he does not return only to God's former love but that love is increased more and more. This is the meaning of: He will again have compassion upon us: that He will increase His mercies towards Israel and perfect them and draw them near to Him.

This is how man should behave towards his neighbor. He should not feed hatred from his former anger but when he sees that his neighbor wants to love him he should show him a greater degree of kindness and love than formerly. He should say: 'Behold he is to be compared to the penitents in whose place the perfectly righteous cannot stand.' And he should encourage him to a far greater degree than those who are perfectly righteous, namely, those who have not offended him.

VIII He will subdue our Iniquities
Behold, the Hole One, Blessed is He, behaves in this way towards Israel. For, behold, the divine precepts are 'and as it was budding[10], its blossoms shot forth,' shooting up without limit to enter His blessed Presence. Sins, however have no entrance there, God forfend, but He subdues them so that they cannot enter. As it is written: 'Evil shall not sojourn with Thee[11]' - evil cannot dwell in Thy dwelling place. If this is so then sin does not enter into the inmost Presence. This is why there is no reward in this world[12] for the carrying out of a good deed, for good deeds are in His Presence and how then can He give from the spiritual reward that is in His Presence in a material world? Behold, the whole world is not worthy of a single good deed and its spiritual bliss.

For this reason, too, He does not accept the bribe of good deeds. For instance, the Holy One, Blessed is He, does not say: 'He has done forty good deeds and committed ten sins. The ten cancel each other out leaving thirty good deeds,' God forfend. But even the perfectly righteous man who commits a single sin is seen in the eyes of God as one who burns the whole Torah[13] until his debt is paid, after which he will recieve the reward of all his good deeds. This is a great kindness which the Holy One, Blessed is He, gives to the righteous: that He does not deduct the good deeds, for these are very precious, ascending to His blessed Presence. How then can He deduct them because of the sins a man commits? For the desert of sin is from the portion of Hell, from that which is despicable. And the reward of good deeds is from the esteemed glory of the Shekhinah[14]. How then can these be deducted for these? But the Holy One, Blessed is He, claimes the debt of the sins and gives reward for all the good deeds.

This is the meaning of: He will subdue our iniquities, that the sins do not prevail in His Presence as the good deeds prevail, but He subdues them so that they do not ascend and do not enter. Although His Providence extends over all the ways of man, both good and evil, He, nonetheless, does not subdue the good but it blossoms upwards exceedingly and good deed is added to good deed until an edifice is built out of them and an honourable robe[15]. But sins do not possess this property; but He subdues them, that they should not have this success not entry into the innermost Presence.

This quality, too, a man should make his own; not to subdue the good his neighbor had done and to remember the evil he has done. On the contrary, he should subdue evil, forget it and reject it so that evil does not dwell within him. But the good his neighbor had done should always be arraigned before him and he should remember this good so that it prevails over all the deeds his neighbor has done. And he should not deduct in his heart, saying: "If he has done good to me he has also behaved badly to me,' so that the good is forgotten. He should not do this, but with regard to the evil his neighbor has done to him he should allow himself to be appeased in every possible way. But the good should never be removed from his sight and he should hide himself from the bad as far as he possibly can, just as the Holy One, Blessed is He, subdues iniquity, as I have explained.

the Rabbinic teachings 'Rabbi Abahu said: In the place where penitents stand even the wholly righteous cannot stand,' Ber. 34b.

in the chapter 'He Who Builds' This chapter belongs to tractate Sabbath where, on page 104a, there occurs a discourse on the letters of the alphabet. But C. quoting from memory, has confused this with the similar passage in tractate Menahoth 20a, where the discourse on the letter He is to be found.

the letter He is shaped like an exedra The Greek exedra was a covered place in front of the house, open in the front, like our veranda. The letter He resembles the exedra.

the world was created In the above-mentioned Talmudic passage (Men. 29b) it is said that this world was created with the letter He, the next world with the letter Yod.

the Outside Ones In Kabbalistic thought evil is, as it were, the residue left by good. The universe of evil is the 'Other Side' whose spiritual denizens are the 'Outside Ones.'

top left-hand corner The left-hand stroke of the He does not extend all the way to its roof.

the fifth palace The numerical value of He is five.

The Garden of Eden 'In the fifth palace (of the Garden of Eden) stand all those who return in perfect repentance ... and even the perfectly righteous are unable to ascend to that palace and to stand there for it is the highest degree of all with the exception of the degree of the saints (hasidim) which is truly the highest degree of all' (Zohar I, 39a)

restores the He Teshubhah, repentance, can be read as Tashubh He, the He is restored.

and as it was budding Gen. XL. 10, cf. Zohar I, 192a

Evil shall not sojourn with Thee Ps. V. 5

no reward in this world Kidd. 39b.

burns the whole Torah Kidd. ibid.

the Shekhinah The Divine Presence.

an honourable robe The robe of good deeds with which the soul is clothed as it enters Paradise, v. Zohar III, 169a.