I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Avadon and Sheol

Zohar 1:62b discusses Gehinnom, Sheol and Avadon (avaddon). The Gemara gives Gehinnom seven names which some consider to be seven levels of Hell or Purgatory. The Zohar states that Sheol is the lowest part of Purgatory and from there souls can still rise to Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden) but Avadon (Abadon)is the bottom and from there souls are lost and cannot rise.

Sheol, Avadon, Beer Shachas (Well of Corruption), Bor Sheon (the Horrible Pit), Tit ha'Yaven (the Miry Clay), Tzalmaves (Shadow of Death) and Eretz ha'Tachtit (Netherworld) - are the seven names of Gehinnom. In tractate Erubin 19a Rabbi Joshua ben Levi refers to these seven names. The Midrash on Psalms refers to these seven realms of the underworld as Sheol, Avadon, Tzalmavet, Eretz haTakhtit, Eretz ha Neshiyah (land of Forgetfulness), Gehinnom and Dumah (Silence).

Zohar Korach states:- "A person should not say, 'When I get to that world, then I will ask the King for mercy and I will repent in His presence,' because "for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom" after the person departs from this world.

However, if a person desires the Holy King to illuminate him in this world and
grant him a part in the World to Come, he should toil in this world to gather
his activities to the right. All his deeds should be for the sake of the Holy
One, blessed be He, for after departing this world to be judged in harsh
Judgment and to be punished in Gehenom, there is no recourse to counsel, wisdom
or understanding to be saved from that sentence.

Another explanation of: "for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor
wisdom, in Sheol." There are levels upon levels in Gehenom, and the lowest level
is "Sheol." An even lower level is "Avadon," and one is near the other. Whoever
descends to Sheol will be put on trial. From there he can rise in a whistle, as
it is written: "He brings down to Sheol, and brings up" (I Shmuel 2:6). Whoever
is lowered to "Avadon" never rises."

And from Zohar Vayelech:-

"We learned that the wicked in Gehenom all go up through certain compartments
and that there are many openings to Gehenom. All the openings correspond to the
openings in the Garden of Eden. When the wicked are taken out after receiving
their punishments, they open the gates and put them outside. All the gates bear
names corresponding to those in the Garden of Eden, and each and every gate is
called by a name corresponding to the gate in Gehenom. The gates in the Garden
of Eden are known, gate for gate.

The last compartment in Gehenom is the lowest. That compartment is an
compartment over an compartment, and is called, "A land of gloom (Heb. efatah)"
(Iyov 10:22). What is gloom? It is as in, "Foursquare it shall be" (Shemot
28:16), which is 'if' in Aramaic. Here too, efatah means double. That
COMPARTMENT is called the bottom of Sheol. Sheol is one compartment and the
bottom is the lower compartment. Therefore it is called the lower land of gloom,
and ALSO called Avadon. Hence it is written, "Sheol and Avadon" (Mishlei 27:20).
Not all compartments are double, and not all are gloomy, except for this one.

And we learned that whoever descends to Avadon, that is called bottom,
never rises. That MAN is called a man who was destroyed and lost to all worlds.
And we learned that to that place are lowered those men who despised saying
Amen. Such a man is punished in Gehenom for the many Amen's that were lost to
him, that he did not consider, and he is lowered to the lowest compartment,
which has no opening, and he is lost and never rises from there. Hence it is
written, "As the cloud is consumed and vanishes away, so he who goes down to
Sheol shall come up no more" (Iyov 7:9). HE ASKS, but no; it is written, "out of
the belly of Sheol I cried and You did hear..." (Yonah 2:3). It is also written,
"He brings down to Sheol and brings up" (I Shmuel 2:6). AND HE ANSWERS, but this
is Sheol FROM WHICH ONE ASCENDS, and there is the bottom FROM WHERE ONE DOES NOT
RISE. We explained that this refers to one who repented BY DOING PENANCE, and
there to one who did not.

Rabbi Yosi said, as for the words, "For My people have committed two
evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and have hewn them
out cisterns..." (Yirmeyah 2:13), "they have forsaken Me the fountain of living
waters" is by not wanting to sanctify the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He,
with Amen. What is his punishment? It is as is written, "and have hewn them out
cisterns, broken cisterns," by going to Gehenom one level after another until
they reach Avadon that is called bottom. If he sanctifies the Name of the Holy
One, blessed be He, by meditating properly on Amen, he rises, level after level,
to have delight in the World to Come, that ever flows and does not cease. This
is the meaning of, "for Hashem preserves the faithful, and plentifully repays
him who acts haughtily" (Tehilim 31:24)."

Zohar Noach states:

" Rabbi Aba said that in Gehenom, there are compartments upon compartments,
seconds, thirds, and so on until seven--our friends have already explained this
issue. Happy are the righteous who guard themselves from the sins of the wicked
and do not follow in their paths nor defile themselves. For when a person who
has become impure dies, he passes onto the World of Truth and goes down into
Gehenom. There he descends, until he reaches the lowest compartment.

And there are two compartments close to each other that are called Sheol and
Avadon. Whoever reaches Sheol is judged and punished there and is then raised to
a different, but higher, compartment. This continues until he is released from
there. But those who go down and reach Avadon are never raised from there again.
That is why it is called Avadon (lost), because they are lost there forever."

In Zohar Pekudei it links these seven realms of Gehenna with the seven chambers of the Evil Realm of Satan.

" Rabbi Shimon opened the discussion with the verse: "But they, like Adam have transgressed the covenant" (Hoshea 6:7). Who will remove dust from your eyes, Adam, if the Holy One, blessed be He gave you one precept and you could not keep it, for you were enticed by the wicked things with which the evil serpent seduced you, as is written, "the serpent was craftier" (Beresheet 3:1). Hence you were seduced by it, and brought death to you and all your offspring. Come and see: Whoever is seduced by it, and goes down to it, he will be lost in an instant...There are several aspects and grades to the Evil Inclination, which are the Satan, the Angel of Death, and the Evil Inclination. And we explained that though it is called by those names, it has seven names: the Satan, unholy, foe, a stone of stumbling, uncircumcised, evil, northern. These seven names correspond to the seven grades of its chambers, all of them on the side of defilement, as we said, and to the seven names given to Gehenom, where the wicked are condemned. These are: pit (Bor), grave (Shakhat), Dumah, gruesome mud (Tit haYaven), Sheol, shadow of death (Tzalmavet), a nether land (Eretz takhtit). These are the seven departments of Gehenom corresponding to the seven names of the Evil Inclination.

Here we explained that as there are grades and chambers on the side of holiness, so there are on the side of defilement, all of which abide in and rule the world on the side of unholiness. Seven chambers, corresponding to the seven names of Gehenom. All of them stand ready to condemn and defile the wicked of the world who clove to them, and did not keep away from them, while in this world...

These seven chambers, the seven departments of Gehenom, are called 'twelve months'. As there are twelve months of holy grades on the side of the Faith, so the Other Side has twelve months, to which the wicked are condemned, and their souls are sentenced to. Happy is the portion of the righteous who keep their feet in this world away from their gates, to be saved from them in that world."

Zohar Pekudei then goes on to describe these seven chambers or realms. The first is the beginning of the Yetzer Ahra (Evil Inclination)called the 'the pit empty of everything' in which one meets the demonic Prince Dumah (silence). This pit contains demonic snakes and scorpions that torment the soul. "The second chamber is darker than the first chamber. It is called 'grave', corresponding to the name 'unholy', just as the first chamber is called 'pit' corresponding to the name 'the Satan'. And this one is called 'grave' in relation to the name'unholy'. This chamber has three openings." This second realm is where many sexual sins are punished.

"The third chamber is dark and somber, for there is no light in it whatsoever. It is darker than the first. It is called 'Dumah', corresponding to the name 'foe'. There are four openings to this chamber, one on this side, another on that side, and so on...The fourth chamber is called 'debt'. This is the gruesome mud, corresponding to another name, a stumbling stone, and all is one. It is 'debt', all the sins of the world, the balancing of the sins...The fifth chamber is called 'Sheol', corresponding to the name of the Evil Inclination, uncircumcised, which we explained to be the secret of the foreskin. In this chamber there is one opening, and a chief in charge over it. The duty of this chief is to stir up accusations upon the world. This spirit is called 'enmity', after the name of the opening, enmity. This is understood from the verse, "and I will put enmity between you and the woman...". There is a spirit in this chamber who rules everything. He is called 'robber' (Heb. shoded), and is a "wasting (Heb. shod) and destruction" (Yeshayah 59:7)."

"The sixth chamber stands above the rest of the lower chambers. There are four openings to this chamber: one is called 'death', one 'evil', one 'shadow of death' and the last one 'somber'. These four openings are there to cause evil, and comprise everything...The seventh chamber is the chamber of the dregs of wine, to drink one's fill,as it is written, "and he drank of the wine, and was drunk, and he was uncovered" (Bereshit 9:21). The pressing of the grapes, the bad grapes, is done here, and it becomes foaming wine, the dregs of the wine. There is no one who drinks of them without bringing death to himself. Of this wine Eve gave her husband a drink, thus putting him in this chamber, as we learned that she pressed grapes and gave him to drink, thus bringing death to him, and to the whole world after him.
In this chamber are the unholy souls, who descend upon all those who cleave to this side. The defiled spirit, who descends upon those of this side, comes from here. As for those who strayed from their way in the world and practiced prostitution where they should not have, and shunned the way of truth, when one cleaves to the side of the Evil Inclination by harlotry, a spirit of defilement comes out of this chamber to defile him and the child he begot."

Today many Jewish authorities try to down play the traditional Jewish understanding of Purgatory and Hell. However it is clear from the sources that while Gehenna includes the concept of purgatory - it also contains a realm of eternal loss in fire called Avadon which equates with the Catholic understanding of Hell.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this information! It will go a long way in showing my friends the Jewish foundation for the "medieval invention" of Purgatory.