“Teshuva, Tzedaka, and Prayer, remove the worst part of the decree.”
Rabbi Shimon said, “Come and see: All foods of the inhabitants of the world derive from above. The food that comes from heaven and earth is food for the whole world; it is coarse and dense. (This refers to ordinary food of a material nature, which grows from the ground and is watered by rain.) Food coming from higher above is food that comes in Judgment (as a direct reflection of the spiritual achievements of the person), from a place where Judgment prevails (a place where everything is exactly as it should be); it is finer food. (For example: Matzah, deriving from the Divine Presence, who executes Divine Judgment.) The food that appeared for Israel at that time – from a high place called Heaven – Tiferet – is finer food, (Manna) entering the soul most deeply, dissociated ever more from the body, called Ethereal Bread (Numbers 21:5)
The highest food of all is food of the Companions, those engaging in Torah, who eat food of spirit and soul-breath – not eating food of the body at all – namely, from a high place, precious beyond all, called Wisdom – the primal Will to create a world in which we must master ourselves).
The first food is food of the whole world, that which derives from heaven and earth, food for all.
Food that is higher – that which is finer, deriving from a place where Judgment prevails, called Tzedek. This is food of the poor. Mystery of the matter: One who fulfills a poor person (Table Talk: Restoring a Lost Object) adds one letter to Tzedek, transforming it into Tzedaka. This is: “The man of kindness benefits his soul.” (Proverbs 11:17) Implying rendering kindness, for it dwells in Judgment and is fulfilled through Life Force, becoming Compassion.
Food higher than these is a supernal, precious food, from a place called Heaven. It is the food of the sick, as it is written: “God will sustain him on the bed of illness.” (Psalms 41:4) The sick are nourished only by the actual food of the Holy One, Blessed is He. (Just as the fat and limbs of offerings is presented to God, so a sick person is sustained by the fat and blood of his own body.)
Supernal, holy, precious food – food of spirit and soul-breath – is food from a supernal distant place. This is food of the Companions engaging (in the battle of) Torah, food coming from supernal Wisdom. Torah issues from supernal Wisdom, and those who engage in Torah enter the essence of her roots; so their food derives from that supernal holy place.
(Zohar, Volume 2:61b – 62a, Translation & Commentary by Daniel C. Matt – The Pritzker Edition 2007)
I would like to suggest that this Zohar is the secret to the mechanic’s of “Teshuva, Tzedaka, and Prayer, remove the worst part of the decree.” We can choose to eat the lowest form of food, meaning, to live a purely physical life, and to limit our vision to coarse things and thoughts. However, we will be vulnerable to the “worst parts of the decree” as we are attached to the natural occurrences of this world.
However, we can rise and transform Tzedek – Justice – into Tzedaka – by completing others, and nourishing their bodies and souls. We can transform Matzah into Manna
And eat food that will elevate our bodies and souls beyond the limitations of this world, allowing us to escape the worst parts of the decree.
The Kabbalists often describe sin – or more accurately, mistaken directions – as illness. These mistakes are a symptom of a soul that is ill. When we acknowledge our mistakes but focus on the disease rather than symptoms, we transform Soul Sickness into Love Sickness – “My soul is love sick for You.” (Yedid Nefesh) We attach in that love and eat the food of the place called Heaven. We will be nourished and strengthened and able to transcend the ‘worst parts of the decree”.
The Companions who connect to the primal moment of creation are directly nourished by the Highest Source and can exist on food that derives from that supernal holy place. They live on Spiritual Sustenance and are not bound by physical limitations, the worst part of the decree.
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