Today’s learning is dedicated to the refuah sheleima of Simcha Nosson ben Zissel.
Attribute # 2 – He bears sin – נשא עון
This Attribute is greater than the previous one. With every sin that a person commits, a destructive angel is created, as our Sages say, “A person who commits one sin, acquires one prosecutor” (Avos 4:11). That prosecutor stands before Hashem and says, “This person created me.”
Nothing can exist in the world unless it is sustained by the life-force that Hashem provides. The destructive angel now stands before Hashem. How shall it be sustained? It would be fair for Hashem to say, “I do not support destructive angels. Go to the person who created you. Let him support you.” The destructive angel would then immediately descend and claim that person’s life, or cut off his soul, or give him whatever punishment is appropriate, until the destructive angel is annulled.
However, Hashem does not do so. He bears and endures the sin. Just as Hashem sustains the entire world, He sustains and supports this destructive angel…
Thus, this Attribute involves a great degree of forbearance. Hashem patiently supports and sustains the evil creation that the sinner made until he does teshuvah (repents). A person should learn from here tolerance to endure the burden of his fellowman and the evil that he does. Even while the evil that he perpetrated against him still stands before his eyes, he should be patient with the offender until he repairs the damage, or it disappears on its own, or a similar remedy occurs. — Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Tomer Devorah
Shlomo HaMelech taught, “Sinners will be pursued by evil.” As the Mishnah in Perkei Avos states, each sin creates a prosecuting angel.
Like all things in creation, this angel requires sustenance. As we quoted from Rebbe Nachman, “The destroyers and accusers cry out, ‘Give us life! Give us food!’… He [the sinner] is literally their owner and is responsible for them. He is the one who must provide them with food and sustenance.”
Similarly, the Zohar states that this angel ascends before Hashem and announces, “I am from so-and-so who created me.”
These destructive angels are sustained by performing their mission; namely, by accusing and punishing the sinner who created them. As Yirmiyahu HaNavi said, “Your evil will afflict you.”
This prosecuting angel can be annulled through teshuva (repentance). As Rebbe Nachman teaches, when there is judgement below, there is no judgement Above. The entire purpose of these destructive angels is to judge and accuse, but when we take the time to honestly judge ourselves through self-introspection (and try to repair the flaws we find), these angels no longer serve any purpose.
However, as Rabbi Riachi explains, “Often, much time passes before a sinner repents of his sin. With each day that passes, the sin remains uncorrected, and the destructive angel demands its sustenance.”
Therefore, Hashem, in His great compassion and mercy, patiently waits for the sinner to return to Him and correct his misdeeds. Hashem continues to provide life and nourishment to these damaging forces rather than allow them to collect retribution from the sinner.
The first example of Hashem displaying this Attribute of Mercy is when Kayin slew his brother Hevel. They both brought sacrifices to Hashem, but only Hevel’s offering was accepted. Kayin was despondent and dejected. And as Rebbe Nachman teaches, depression quickly leads to anger. In his fury, Kayin introduced murder to the world.
Hashem rebuked Kayin, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the earth. Now you shall be cursed from the earth that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the earth, it will no longer give you its strength. You shall wander and roam the earth.”
Kayin begged for mercy, “Is my sin too heavy to bear?” Rashi explains that Kayin was asking Hashem, “Master of the Universe! You support the heavens above and the earth below. Can You not also support my sin?” Kayin was asking Hashem to support the destructive angel his sin created.
Yalkut Shimoni explains that Hashem accepted Kayin’s plea, to show future generations that forgiveness is always attainable. (Hashem saw that the Jewish people would eventually commit the sin of the golden calf, and wanted to ensure that the people would not lose hope. As Rebbe Nachman explains, regret is necessary, but despair is damaging.)
Rabbi Riachi concludes, “When we act this way, bearing the harm that was done against us [while we wait for the offender to repair the damage], we awaken this Attribute, through which Hashem bears the sins of those who defy Him.”
As difficult as this may be, it is also an incredible opportunity. As Rebbe Nachman teaches, Hashem specifically places us in a position to bestow mercy upon others, so that He can bestow mercy upon us.
TO BE CONTINUED…
If you’d like to receive these messages via Whatsapp, please message me at 845-641-2648.
As always, comments are more than welcomed!