Come and look at the verse "take a censer, and put fire in it from off the altar, and put incense on it" (Numbers 17:11). What is the reason for this instruction: "for wrath is gone out from G‑d; the plague has begun"? Nothing breaks that [impure] side except for incense, for nothing is more beloved before G‑d than incense. It can revoke witchcraft, and evil things at home. The smell and smoke of man-made incense cancels [all types of witchcraft] when done for that specific purpose, and [that] incense [that G‑d commanded] all the more.

It is a standing decree before G‑d that whoever meditates on and reads the section of the [Torah detailing the] preparation of incense every day, is protected from all evil things and witchcraft in the world, from mishaps and depression, from punishment and pestilence and plague, and shall not come to harm on that day, for the Other Side will have no power over him. Only he must read it intently.

Rabbi Shimon said, if people would know how lofty is the section of the preparation of incense before G‑d, they would take each word and raise it to be adorned as a golden crown upon their heads. Whoever deals properly with the section on the formulation of the incense should think about it closely. And if he concentrates on it every day, he has a portion in this world and in the World to Come. Pestilence and plague is banished from him and from the world, and he is protected from harsh judgement in this world, from the forces of the wicked and from the ordeal of Purgatory, and the judgment of the other kingdom. All this is done by virtue of saying the incense verses with thoughtful intention.

When its smoke went up like a pillar, the priest saw the letters of the Holy Name soaring in the air and going up in that pillar, and afterwards, the priest saw many Chariots circling it on all sides, until they went up shining and joyously [taking the sparks of holiness gathered from the other side and raising them up back to their source through Yetzira to Beriya and then Atzilut], and gladdened those who are worthy to be gladdened [in the upper worlds] and connected [the seven sefirot together] above and below, so that everything became one. This has already been explained. This atones for the Evil Inclination and idolatry, which is the Other Side as clarified.

The idea of there being another side “behind” the holy is a way to describe the direct will of G‑d (His “face”) versus His hidden aspect enabling people to make free choice by the world appearing to be separate from Him. This separation is called “the Other Side”. It is not a separate entity, but the same Will hidden from our consciousness and disguised - ultimately for our own benefit. It is our job to find the Holy in this place that is seemingly devoid of it and connect it back to its source.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: We just learned this matter a few weeks ago when the incense portion was first discussed. This Zohar is famous for Rashbi's revelation of the importance of the incense portion, unfortunately excised from most non-Orthodox prayer books. A teacher of mine, Simcha Benyosef [see Empowered to Heal: Therapeutic Visualizations Drawn for the Lunar Months (Devora Pub. 2008) reminds us to say this prayer when faced with illness or blockage in our lives, recommending a prayer book that provides a linear translation [such as the Metzudah Siddur] to understand these readings and writing that "as we read these prayers, we should intend...through visualization…to release the holy sparks imprisoned in the outside forces and to bring about their ascent." (pp. 113-4) May it be G‑d's will that whomever partakes of this special advice receive a fast and complete healing from Heaven, a healing of body, a healing of soul, amongst the ill of Israel.

What does the above mean to you, and why is it revealed now?

[Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries]