Rabbi Joseph Karo


On the eve of Shabbat, the sixteenth of Tevet: May the Lord be with you.... Have I not already made known to you last Shabbat secrets about your first two wives. Now, I come to make known to you a secret about your third wife. Is it not known to you that this woman was, in times past, a male, a proper talmid hacham ['scholar'], but one who was miserly with his money and who did not perform [acts of] charity with it? He was also miserly with his wisdom, and did not want to teach others. Therefore, he was punished by being reincarnated as a female, an appropriate punishment. He had not wanted to bestow upon others, like those who only mention others in order to shame them, for of the earliest sages it is said, "May the memory of the righteous be a blessing (zecher tsaddik livrachah)" (Proverbs 10:7). That is to say, a righteous person who bestows upon others causes the "Righteous One (tsaddik), Foundation (yesod) of the Universe" (Proverbs 10:25) to bestow upon the Community of Israel [=Malchut]. Thus it says "memory" (ZeCHeR), that is to say that Yesod causes itself to engage in masculine (ZaCHaR) activity. And therefore, she was not born into your society, but I will make it so that sparks of the soul (neshamah) of the female will shine within her. This is the mystical meaning [of the verse] 'and the Lord let her conceive and she bore a son' (Ruth 4:13) which is said of Ruth. It teaches that she did not have a womb in essence--hence I said that her soul is a male soul, for she is like Tamar [cf. Genesis 38], and I have already said that Tamar had a male soul.

Now we will return to our subject of which we were speaking, and afterwards I will explain at length [the verse] 'May the memory of the righteous be a blessing,' i.e. that the righteous person who bestows causes Yesod to engage in masculine activity, that is, it bestows upon a blessing, i.e. [upon] Malchut. 'But the name of the wicked rots' (Proverbs 10:7), that is to say that the wicked, who do not want to bestow upon others [except] in order to make a name for themselves, so that everyone should be dependent upon them forever, and will not teach anyone, their punishment shall be as great as they are, that is that their name will rot. That is to say, they will be reincarnated in [the bodies] of those who must receive, upon whom [things] are bestowed, but who do not themselves bestow. Therefore, this one was reincarnated in a female [body], upon which [others] bestow, while she requires someone to bestow upon her. Thus, you will see that she gives large amounts of charity, and loves you very much, insofar as you work to bestow Torah in all that you do, and write books to teach others....

Maggid Mesharim, (Jerusalem: 1960), Vayeshev, p.30.

On the eve of Shabbat, on the New Moon of Shevat: May the Lord be with you....Have I not already made known to you the secret of your reincarnation, and the secret of [the prohibition of] usury, as well as the secret of third proper wife you have. It has been made known to you how much honour you have in leading her. And do you not see that this city of Nicopolis has had a decree made against it....because of the diminishing charity and [study of] Torah that has occurred within it? So, now, arise, and bring out your household from this place, and also advise your father-in-law to bring out his household and money from there, for even if anything is left behind, nothing will remain at all. If he accepts what you say, good, but if not, there is no blame attached to you.

Is this day not a glorious and mighty one? For it contains two levels: Shabbat and the New Moon. Nevertheless, on this day you were punished with respect to your son--this was necessary in order to clear you of your sins, [a fact] which ought to be reflected upon--for on the Shabbat he died. On the Shabbat, your first son had his speech taken away, your first daughter died on the Shabbat, and their mother died on the Shabbat. Thus you lost four people...

But now that you have accepted your punishment, your time will be a time [to be among] friends, and by the merit [you have acquired through your] days of fasting and self-affliction of all types, and especially when you fasted for these seven days, while constantly meditating on My Mishnah, and without allowing your thought to separate from it at all, as you have served these [last] two days, you will be removed in supernal manner and will attain things that no one will attain for many years. You will have the merit to rise upwards totally before me, for you will burn for the sanctification of My name, your flesh, your bones, your food and your drink, all will rise by [My] will; white ashes will remain, but you will depart [as pure] as pure wool. And is it not because of this wife whom you have merited, that you are worthy [of having] holy children through her? Hence, the Holy, Blessed One told the angels of the firmament 'Go, lead the heart of Joseph, who desires to sit in My academy, before Me and call out about him that his desire is fulfilled.'

Maggid Mesharim, (Jerusalem, 1960), Va'era, pp.48-49.


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