In relation to Simon and Levi, Jacob blesses them, yet at the same time curses their anger. Are blessings and curses interrelated, or do they have separate roots?

Come and see from the verse: "And they said, each man to his brother, 'Behold, here comes the dream master'." (Gen. 37:19) This is Simon and Levi, who were brothers in every respect.

Their tendency to violence thus singled them out…

Jacob called them "brothers" when blessing them, and from this we learn that these words were spoken between them. This raises the obvious question that since they were all brothers, what was unique about these two that they are singled out by the name "brothers"? Rashi comments that they were in one mind regarding the action to be taken against Joseph and also, later, against the city of Shechem after the kidnapping of their sister Dina. Their tendency to violence thus singled them out and made them "brothers" in this regard as opposed to all the others.

[They are called brothers] because they come from side of harsh judgment. Their anger is anger that leads to killing in the world. This is as is said [by Jacob]: "Cursed be their anger [in Hebrew, "appam"] for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel." (Gen. 49:7)

Simon was rooted in the sefira of gevura of Zeir Anpin and Levi in tiferet. Tiferet contains both chesed and gevura, but when Levi combined with Simon, the side of gevura was more prevalent than chesed. The further one is removed from the light of chesed, the more dangerous are one's actions. Double gevura is double trouble! The word for anger used here is "appam",and it is normally applied to anger that is from that part of gevura that lacks the control of the higher sefirot of chochma and bina. The word "af" means nose, and conjures up the image of the snorting enraged bull. As such, it is related to the kelipot, because the emotion rules the intellect. Thus Jacob was careful in cursing their anger, but not they themselves, since they can rectify their anger through repentance, i.e. through becoming conscious of this tendency and controlling it in future.

Come and see the secret of this matter. There are two types of wrath. One type of wrath is blessed from Above and from Below and is called "blessed". This [type] is as is written [about Abraham after he killed the five kings who kidnapped Lot]: "Blessed be Abram to the Most High G‑d, possessor of heaven and earth." (Gen. 14:19) He dealt out judgment on the wicked as we have explained.

Abraham was rooted in the sefira of chesed, which receives from the "pool" (in Hebrew, "brecha") of the sefira of chochma. Anger flowing from this conscious level sanctifies the name of G‑d and is called "baruch", "blessed", a word stemming from the same the same root as "berecha", indicating the pool of wisdom from which the blessing is drawn down from onto the sefira of chesed. Because the justness of a violent response is obvious to all, and because it is meted out fairly, this type of anger is worthy of praise and brings blessing to the world.

There is also a type of wrath that is cursed Above and Below, and we have learned that [this kelipa] is called "cursed". This is as is written in the verse [about the snake after he caused man to sin]: "Cursed are you more than all the beasts and more than all the birds, and more than all the wild animals in the field." (Gen. 3:14) And this is the secret of the two mountains, as is written: "And you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Eyval." (Deut. 11:29) This is in order to [become aware] of these two levels [one in holiness and the other not]. So also one of these mountains is called cursed and one blessed. Cursed wrath is evil and is rooted in emotion that overpowers the intellect …

The name of Mount Gerizim has the same root as the Hebrew word "gezera", meaning a decree handed down by a court; this type of clear justice stems from divine wisdom and is therefore "blessed" as explained Above. The name of the other mountain, Mount Eyval, stems from the root "ev", meaning "concealed"; here the wrathful actions are done with no clear connection to any higher wisdom. This is violence rooted in anger. Note also the consonance between "Eyval" and "evil". Cursed wrath is evil and is rooted in emotion that overpowers the intellect and the justification of its act is hidden from all.

And Simon and Levi are from the side of harsh judgment [in holiness], and from the side of harsh judgment flows cursed anger. And come and see, from the side of harsh judgment flows anger to two sides, one blessed and the other cursed.

In the same manner two sons issued from Isaac [representing the sefira of gevura], one blessed and one cursed Above and Below. Each departed to their respective sides. One [Jacob] to live in the holy land, the other to live on Mount Seir as is written: "A hunter, a man of the field". (Gen. 25:27) One has his dwelling place in the desert, and in desolation and destruction, and the other dwells in tents. Each lives as is required [by his soul root]. This is why there are two levels, blessed and cursed - one to his side, and the other to his side. From one issues forth all blessings Above and Below, and all goodness and all light and all redemption and all salvation, and from the other side issues all curses and all destruction and all spilling of blood and all the evil and wickedness in the world.

Jacob comes from the side of controlled wrath, and Esau and Edom from the side of wanton destruction. The two aspects are different in their source and different in the way in which their anger is appeased.


Zohar, Vayeshev p.184a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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