Rabbi Shimon began [his discourse] by saying: "Be afraid of the sword, for wrath brings the punishments of the sword that you may know that there is a judgment". (Job 19:29) It is written: "Be afraid of the sword." What sword? This is "a sword...that shall avenge my covenant". (Lev. 26:25) This sword stands to observe who is false to the [Holy] Covenant, because anyone who is false to the covenant, it is this sword that takes vengeance on him. [This vengeance is a supernal attribute that operates through malchut, which is called a vengeful sword.] This is the meaning of: "For wrath brings the punishments [for blemishing the covenant] of the sword" [of malchut].

What is the reason? For anyone who is false to the covenant [which is yesod, by blemishing it], distances the desire [of yesod toward malchut], and thus whoever [i.e. yesod] should receive [the flow from tiferet] does not receive it and does not give to his place, since his place is not aroused toward him [i.e. yesod is not aroused to unite with malchut]. Everyone who observes this covenant [and distances himself from this pitfall] arouses the covenant towards its place [and causes the arousal to unify yesod and malchut] and the upper and lower worlds are blessed.

Who arouses this covenant to its place? When there are righteous people in the world. How do we know this? From the words: "And I have also established my covenant [the secret of arousing the unification of yesod with malchut] with them, to give them the land of Canaan [malchut, as their inheritance], the land of their sojourns [in Hebrew, 'megureihem']". (Ex. 6:4) What is [the unusual word] 'megureihem' [hinting to]? As is written: "Be afraid [in Hebrew, 'guru'] of the sword". Because it [malchut] is a place that causes fear in the world, therefore: "Be afraid of the sword".1

"In which they sojourned [in Hebrew, 'garu']." From the day that they approached G‑d, they had feared Him and it consisted of a higher level of fear to observe His commandments. And if a person will not place fear over his head [if he will not be in awe of G‑d not to trangress the covenant of circumcision, irrespective of any punishment] he will never fear G‑d in the other commandments [but he will fear Him only in order not to cause harm to himself, his children, or his possessions].

Come and see: the awakening from below, when the children of Israel were awakened towards G‑d and cried before Him, it is written: "And I have remembered My covenant" (Ex. 6:5) because He remembered the covenant [and caused a supernal unification between yesod and malchut]. Then the desire [of yesod to connect] arose to connect all [ten sefirot] in one bond; since the covenant was awakened, the bond of all became awakened. "And I have remembered my covenant" is to connect it to its place. Therefore it is written, "Therefore say to the children of Israel, I am G‑d". [Through this unity of "I" — malchut — with "G‑d" — tiferet — all the sefirot are awakened to redeem Israel.]

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why did the Ari and Chida choose this passage? What are we to learn?
Is inappropriate sexual activity really that serious of an offense? Does it prevent the redemption of our people? And if one does it, should this cause him/her tremendous shame and guilt?

These are difficult questions, particularly in an era where such behavior is described as "self-loving." Even more so during this time of Shovavim, when one traditionally repents from even thoughts of this sort of activity. [See Sefer Ben HaOlam HaBa]

To "get" the above Torah, one must be sensitive to the Zohar's principle that what happens below effects above, and vice versa. To spill one's life force energy just to satisfy a personal craving into an improper vessel causes Upper channels not to flow properly where it counts, to us and to the rest of the universe. If we are to partner with creation, then we too need to be responsible for our actions.

Far be it from this author to heap scorn and criticism on those who may disagree with the Holy Zohar. Yet, it is essential that we wrestle with the offered problems and consequences on a spiritual plane. May the voice of G‑d guide you to your own personal resolution. Peace.

What does it mean to you, and why is it being revealed to you right now?

[Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries]