The Palm Tree of Deborah - Chapter I: Attributes 1-2

It is proper for man to imitate his Creator, resembling Him in both likeness and image[1] according to the secret of the Supernal Form.[2] Because the chief Supernal image and likeness is in deeds[3], a human resemblance merely in bodily appearance and not in deeds debases that Form. Of the man who resembles the Form in body alone it is said: 'A handsome form whose deeds are ugly.' For what value can there be in man's resemblance to the Supernal Form in bodily limbs if his deeds have no resemblance to those of his Creator? Consequently, it is proper for man to imitate the acts of the Supernal Crown, which are the thirteen highest attributes of mercy[4] hinted at in the verses:

          Who is a God like unto Thee, that beareth iniquity
          And passeth by the transgression of the remnant of
             His heritage?
          He retaineth not His anger for ever,
             Because he delighteth in mercy.
          He will again have compassion upon us;
          He will subdue our iniquities:
          And Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of
             the sea.
          Thou wilt show faithfulness to Jacob, mercy to 
          As Thou has sworn unto our fathers from the days
             of old.[5]
Hence it is proper that these thirteen attributes, which we shall now expound, be found in man.

I Who is a God like unto Thee?

This refers to the Holy One, Blessed is He, as a patient King[6] Who bears insult in a manner that is above human understanding. For behold, without doubt, there is nothing hidden from His providence. Furthermore, there is no moment when man is not nourished and does not exist by virtue of the divine power which flows down upon him. It follows that no man ever sins against God without the divine affluence pouring into him at that very moment, enabling him to exist and to move his limbs. Despite the fact that he uses it for sin, that power is not withheld from him in any way. But the Holy One, Blessed is He, bears this insult and continues to empower him to move his limbs even though he uses the power in that momeny for sin and perversity offending the Holy One, Blessed is He, who, nonetheless, suffer it. Nor must you say that He cannot withhold that good, God forfend, for it lies in His power in the moment it takes to say the word 'moment'[7] to wither the sinner's hand or foot, as he did to Jeroboam[8]. And yet though it lies in His power to arrest divine flow - and He might have said: 'If you sin against Me do so under your own power, not with Mine' - He does not, on this account, withold His goodness from man, bearing the insult, pouring out His power and bestowing of His goodness. This is to be insulted and bear the insult, beyond words. This is why the ministering angels[9] refer to the Holy One, Blessed is He, as 'the patient King.' And this is the meaning of the prophet's words: "Who is a God unto Thee?" He means: 'Thou, the good and merciful, art God, with the power to avenge and claim Thy debt, yet Thou art patient and bearest insult until man repents.' Behold this is a virtue man shoul make his own, namely, to be patient and allow himself to be insulted even to this extent and yet not refuse to bestow of his goodness to the recipients.

II That Beareth Iniquity

This is greater than the preceding quality. For a destroying angel is created whenever a man sins, as we have been taught[10]: 'He who commits a sin acquires a prosecutor for himself,' who stands before the Holy One, Blessed is He, saying: 'So-and-so made me.' As no creature can exist without the divine flow of power how does the destroying angel who stands before Him exist? It would only be right if the Holy One, Blessed is He, were to say: 'I will not nourish this destroying angel, let him go to the one who made him to be sustained by him.' If He were to say this the destroyer would at once descend to snatch the sinner's soul or to cut it off or the sinner would be obliged to expiate his offence in creating the destroyer by suitable punishment unto the latter is made naught. The Holy One, Blessed is He, does not behave in this fashion. He bears the sine and endures it. He nourishes the destroyer and sustains it as He does the whole world until one of the three things happens. Either the sinner repents and makes and end of the destroying angel by the severity of the penances he inflicts upon himself. Or the righteous Judge brings the destroyer to naught by bringing suffering or death upon the sinner. Or the sinner descends to Hell to pay his debt.

This is the meaning of Cain's plea[11]: 'My sin is too great to bear,' interpreted by our Rabbis[12] of blessed memory as: 'Thou bearest (that is to say, Thou nourisheth and sustaineth) the whole world; is my sin so heavy that Thou canst not bear it (that is, sustain it until I repent)?'

This is the greatest quality of tolerance, that He nourishes and sustains the evil creature brought from which a man should learn until the latter repents. From which a man should learn the degree of patience in bearing his neighbor's yoke and the evils done by his neighbor even when those evils still exist. So that even when his neighbor offends he bears with him until the wrong is righted or until it vanishes of its own accord and so forth.
In both likeness and image. 'And God said: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..."' (Gen. 1:26)

the secret of the Supernal Form, ie of the Supernal Man.

the chief Supernal image and likeness is in deeds. The Kabbalists think of the Sephiroth as mainly attributes, ways in which the divine Providence manifests itself.

the thirteen highest attributes of mercy. According to the Rabbinic interpretation of Ex. 34:6-7 , there are thirteen divine attributes of mercy to be mentioned in prayer )R.H 17b). The Kabbalists, however, speak, in addition, of thirteen higher attributes, belonging to Crown, which contains no judgment. These are hinted at in the verses quoted by C. V Joseph Gikatilla's Sha'are 'Orah, Gate X, pp. 104b-105a, Zohar III, p. 62 and 131b.

Who is a God.. Micah VII 18-20

a patient King. Lit. a King Who is insulted, Heb. ne'elabh.

to say the word 'moment' A Talmudic expression for a 'split second,' Ber. 7a

to Jeroboam 'And it came to pass, when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the alter in Beth-el, that Jeroboam put forth his hand from the altar, saying: "Lay hold on him." And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to him' (I Kings XIII. 4)

the ministering angels In the early Kabbalistic work, Pirke Hekhaloth, ed. S. A. Wertheimer, Jer. 1889, Chapter 18.4 (new ed. in Bate Midrashoth, A. J. Wertheimer, Jer. 1950, p. 95).

as we have been taught 'Aboth IV. 13, interpreted by the Kabbalists literally as a demon created by man's sin.

Cain's plea Gen. 4:13

interpreted by our Rabbis B.R XXII.11, Yalkut, Gen. 38 where the wording is 'Thou bearest those above and below.' C. Interprets this as referring to the destroying angel.