In the middle of this chamber [the third of the supernal chambers of holiness], there is another place [a type of chamber within a chamber, that is connected to a world further] up Above, with four gates to the four directions of the world [corresponding to the attributes of chesed, gevura, tiferet and malchut]. There are ten chiefs in charge of each gate [each attribute includes all ten, altogether forty] and one chieftain over [all of] them that is included in the light called (do not say his full name out loud - Ed.) Aha"diel; they are a wheel-angel within a wheel-angel, combined and included with one another.

These forty [angels in charge of the four gates] receive [the indictment] from the chamber of merit to strike the sinning soul, and they have to strike it. These stand within flames of fire by those souls, then [the souls that need to be thus purified] soar out of the chamber and that soul is stricken. [When the soul rises up in the first chamber, before its purification it is taken out for punishment, according to its need for purification.] The soul stands in rebuke [for] all the days it was sentenced to, and does not [yet] enter [behind G‑d's] partition.

These forty [chiefs] exist to reprimand and banish all those who uttered something they should not have [such as vulgarities] and afterwards pronounce a holy word of Torah [or prayer] and sully their mouths therein [and thus blemish their Torah and prayer]. The chiefs banish them, and they are banished for forty days during which their prayer is not accepted.

So for all sinners who deserve to be reprimanded, ten criers come out every day and proclaim in all the firmaments, to all the armies and the hosts [of angels]: beware of so-and-so [not to allow his soul or prayer pass], for he is reprimanded for such-and-such a sin he committed, until he repents before his Master. May the Merciful One save us.

When he repents his sin, these forty chiefs gather together and release him from banishment. Then a proclamation resounds: 'so-and-so is released from banishment'; from now on his prayer can enter. But until he repents, he is in rebuke Above and below, and the protection of his Master is removed from him. Even at night, his soul is reproved and all gates of heaven are closed before it. It does not rise, and is rejected [and remains] outside.

That wheel-angel in charge over the forty [rulers], when he travels to the place called "the couriers' chamber" (I Kings 14:28) and when he enters, these forty [rulers] in charge over the four gates enter together with him and raise up all those golden shields [angels of judgment and gevura, as gevura is the aspect of gold]. These [golden shields] are the angels called chashmalim/electrums [composed of two words - "chash", meaning quiet and "mal", meaning wordy - for when there is no need for war they are quiet and at a time of judgment they speak to the Jews' credit]; they are shields, swords, and spears to protect Israel from the other nations and wage war against them to avenge them [Israel] in due time. [Sin brings war which causes Israel to repent, then the chashmalim immediately come to protect them].

It is therefore called "the couriers' chamber", because the couriers are prepared to run [the Hebrew word for courier is "ratz", meaning "run"] and hasten to fight and take revenge opposite couriers of the Other Side, who hasten to bring evil by weakening the channels of divine flow, [in order to be able] to rule over them [i.e. Israel]. This is the secret of the verse, "the couriers went out in haste". (Esther 3:15) There are couriers on this side [of holiness] and couriers on that side [of the Sitra Achra]. And because of them "the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad" (Esther 8:15) or "was in consternation". (Esther 3:15) If the [holy] couriers arrive earlier, the city of Shushan rejoiced, and if the couriers of the Other Side come first, the city of Shushan was in consternation.

We already explained that in all things, the side [of holiness] stands opposite that side [of the Sitra Achra]. And for that reason, they defend all, and when they [the angels appointed over the shielding angels] ascend as well as them [the shielding angels themselves], one air comes out from above and they all together become one shield [to act together, shielding Israel from their foes], alluded to by, "I am your shield". (Gen. 15:1) [G‑d shields Israel through these angels].

BeRahamim LeHayyim: It is difficult to fathom this push and pull between good and bad angels, defenders vs. accusers. Sounds like Manichean dualism, like a 1950's cowboy vs. Native Americans battle, Good Guys against the Bad Guys. And the parable here is a race to the finish line: Go good guys, go!

Can we move beyond this fantasy fairy tale? Or is this really what is happening above?

It must be both. And it also must be none. Our job in life is to find that place of equipoise/Shalom. We need to do more good than bad; ideally all good. If we viewed all actions, speech, and thoughts as determining the fate of the world on a spiritual scale balance, would we ever want to do something that would G‑d forbid tilt to the side of judgment?

Teshuvah done constantly, every time one misses the mark, is key.

Kicking over in one's mind the day's events and processing them each night, every Friday night, every Yom Kippur Katan, and every Elul through Hoshana Raba too, is really important.

Just don't give up.

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


[Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries]