"…But in spite of all this" (Lev. 26:44)

The Hebrew words for "But in spite of all this" - "ve af gam zot" - are meant to include the spiritual concept of the People of Israel [the word "af"-in spite of- is understood as "also". Ed] The concept of the People of Israel is known as "zot", as we know from the verse, the People of Israel emanated from G‑d (Psalms 118:23, as well as from Gen. 49:28) and the verse would contain a promise that wherever the physical People of Israel would be exiled to, an element of the Divine Presence/Shechinah would remain with them.

This is the deeper meaning of the words in the verse 44: "I will not despise them and reject them to the point of totally destroying them." This idea is also reflected in the hymn composed by Assaf: "look down from heaven and see; take note of this [in Hebrew, 'zot'] vine." (Psalms 80:15) The words "look down from heaven and see", are similar to Kings I - "and You will listen [to the prayer] from heaven." The words "and take note of this vine" should be understood as "and take not of the vine of zot", i.e. of the People of Israel, known as "zot"

Remember that according to the Kabbalists there is a considerable difference between the meaning of the word "gam" and the word "af", although both are used as forms of "also". The word "af" always refers to the addition of the attribute of Justice, whereas the word "gam" refers to the addition of the attribute of Mercy. The world "gam" is perceived as an abbreviation of the word "gemilut chasadim" - referring to deeds of loving kindness. One such example is found in the verse "and he also [in Hebrew, 'gam'] listened to my voice." (Gen. 30:6) According to this we may understand the words "ve af gam zot" as a combination of the attribute of Justice and the attribute of Mercy as represented by the attribute "zot".

[Selected with permission from the seven-volume English edition of "The Torah Commentary of Rebbeinu Bachya" by Eliyahu Munk.]