aleph symbol with title UNSONG

Chapter 26: For Not One Sparrow Can Suffer And The Whole Universe Not Suffer Also

St. Francis saw above him, filling the whole heavens, some vast immemorial unthinkable power, ancient like the Ancient of Days, whose calm men had conceived under the forms of winged bulls or monstrous cherubim, and all that winged wonder was in pain like a wounded bird.
St. Francis of Assisi, by G.K. Chesterton

June 26, 1991
Gulf of Mexico

“TELL ME ABOUT THE WORD WATER”.

Sohu sat on her cloud, snacking on manna with ketchup on top. He had been doing this increasingly often over the past few weeks, asking her to tell him about a word, never satisfied with the amount of meaning she was able to wring from it. It didn’t matter how many connections she drew, how many languages she was able to weave together, he would always just say something like “YES, BUT WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF PROTO-NABATEAN, IN WHICH THE SAME WORD REFERS TO AN OBSCURE KIND OF COOKING-IMPLEMENT?” and she would have to admit that, for some reason, that had never crossed her mind.

She sighed theatrically, but gave no further protest. “In Proto-Semitic,” she said, “it is akwa. In Proto-Eurasiatic, also akwa. In Proto-Amerind, akwa again. So we’re getting a very strong aleph-kaf-vav vibe. Aleph connects Chesed to Gevurah, and kaf connects Chesed to Binah, and vav connects Binah to Keter, so we’re getting two paths out of Chesed, one all the way up to Kether, and the other down to Gevurah.”

“GO ON.”

“So we’re invoking Chesed, the kindness of God. Compare Psalm 65: “You visit the Earth and water it, you greatly enrich it with the river of God, which is full of water.” But we’re also invoking Gevurah, the severity of God. Water is the kindess of God, but also His severity; think Noah’s flood, where it was His severity that punished the wicked, but His kindness that saved Noah and promised never again to flood the Earth. We’ve got Binah, the understanding of God. Spiritual growth. Compare John 4:14: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I give him shall never thirst; the water that I shall give him shall be a well of water springing up into eternal life.” And finally, we’ve got Kether. The crown of God. Human beings are 66% water. The human brain is something like 90%. Human beings are made in God’s own image. Therefore, Kether.

“BUT WHAT ABOUT…”

“The English word water, which breaks the pattern? It keeps the vav, but it finishes with tav and resh. That’s a very special combination. Tav goes up from Malkuth, at the very bottom of the tree, and then resh goes straight up again, until you’re all the way at Tiferet in two moves. And from Tiferet you can go anywhere. A tav-resh is the shortest path, it’s efficiency, it’s no-nonsense, it’s utilitarian, it’s for when you need a lot of power really really quickly.”

“AND WHY DOES – ”

“English deviates from the other languages because for the Tibetans and American Indians and Egyptians, water represents life and mystery and so on. But Britain is an island, and the British are the greatest seafarers in history. The Tibetans think of water and they think of good crops and spiritual rebirth. The English take one look at it and think ‘Yes, an understanding of God is all nice and well, but you can sail over this stuff to get anywhere.'”

“BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HEBREW, IN WHICH WATER IS ‘MAYIM’?”

“It means…because…I don’t know. Who knows? How deep do we need to go? Isn’t it enough that I brought in three reconstructed ancestral languages from three different continents, plus explained deviations from the trend? Just once, could you say ‘Good job, Sohu, that’s enough, Sohu’?”

“UM. GOOD JOB, SOHU.”

“Uriel, this is really boring.”

“YOU ARE VERY ENGLISH. YOU WANT TO GET PLACES AS EFFICIENTLY AS POSSIBLE. BUT SOMETIMES…”

“When do I get to learn how to do cool stuff, like blow up mountains?”

“UM. PLEASE DO NOT BLOW UP MOUNTAINS. MOUNTAINS ARE USEFUL. THEY HELP CONTROL CLIMACTIC PATTERNS.”

“Blow up Thamiel, then.”

“YOU CANNOT KILL THAMIEL. HE IS A FACET OF GOD.”

“When do I get to learn anything? Uriel! This. Is. So. Boring. Learning about the structure of words all day. I want to be able to help Father, to help save the world.”

“THE USE OF KABBALAH TO AFFECT THE PHYSICAL WORLD IS DONE PRIMARILY UPON THE PLANES OF YETZIRAH AND BRIAH. THESE PLANES ARE NOT CONSTRUCTED OF MATTER BUT OF VARIOUS FORMS OF SUBTLE STRUCTURE. UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND THE CORRESPONDENCES AND THE STRUCTURE, YOU CANNOT HOPE TO INFLUENCE THEM CONSISTENTLY.”

“I made all the rivers in the world run in reverse my first day here.”

“BY ACCIDENT. THAT IS WHAT I AM SAYING. IF YOU DO NOT KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE DOING, THERE WILL BE MORE ACCIDENTS. AND YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO FIX THEM.”

“I’ll be careful.”

“I WILL TELL YOU A STORY.”

“Is this going to be one of your stories that’s a weird metaphor for something?”

“ONCE UPON A TIME, RABBI BEN AZZAI, RABBI BEN ZOMA, THE OTHER ONE, AND RABBI AKIVA VISITED AN ORCHARD. BEN AZZAI SAW IT AND DIED. BEN ZOMA SAW IT AND WENT CRAZY. THE OTHER ONE BURNED DOWN ALL THE TREES. AKIVA CAME IN PEACE AND DEPARTED IN PEACE. THE END.”

“So yes, then.”

“IT MEANS THAT – ”

“Wait. Who is the other one?”

“THE OTHER ONE?”

“You said Rabbi ben Azzai, Rabbi ben Zoma, and the other one.”

“OH. YES. THE OTHER ONE. HIS NAME WAS ELISHA BEN ABUYAH, BUT WE DO NOT SPEAK OF HIM. IN THE TALMUD HE IS ALWAYS CALLED ‘ACHER’, WHICH MEANS ‘THE OTHER ONE’.”

“Why is his name never spoken?”

“THAT IS A LONG STORY.”

“I want to hear it!”

“THE HUMAN BOOK ON EDUCATION SAYS THAT I SHOULD ALWAYS MAKE AN EFFORT TO ANSWER CHILDREN’S QUESTIONS, EVEN WHEN THEY ARE VERY ANNOYING.”

“Yes.”

“ELISHA BEN ABUYAH WAS A GREAT RABBI OF ANCIENT ISRAEL. A BRILLIANT KABBALIST. A MIGHTY MIRACLE WORKER. A TRUE SAINT. ONE DAY HE WAS WALKING ALONG A PATH WHEN HE SAW A LITTLE BOY CLIMB A TREE. THE BOY FOUND A BIRD’S NEST. HE TOOK THE EGGS TO EAT, AND HE ALSO KILLED THE MOTHER BIRD. BUT THIS IS IN DEFIANCE OF DEUTERONOMY 22:6, WHICH SAYS ‘HE WHO SHALL HURT THE LITTLE WREN, WILL NEVER BE BELOVED BY MEN.’

“That’s not how Deuteronomy goes…it says…uh…’If you come across a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long.'”

“IT WAS NOT AN EXACT TRANSLATION. ANYWAY, THE LITTLE BOY KILLED THE MOTHER BIRD, THEN CLIMBED BACK DOWN THE TREE AND WANDERED OFF.”

“Not an exact translation? What version are you…”

“A FEW MONTHS LATER, HE WAS WALKING ALONG THE SAME PATH WHEN HE SAW ANOTHER LITTLE BOY CLIMB A TREE LOOKING FOR EGGS TO EAT. THIS BOY FOUND A NEST, TOOK THE EGGS, BUT LEFT THE MOTHER BIRD IN PEACE, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW. ON HIS WAY BACK DOWN THE TREE, HE STUMBLED, FELL, BROKE HIS NECK, AND DIED. SO ELISHA BEN ABUYAH SWORE ETERNAL VENGEANCE AGAINST GOD.”

What?

“THE ONE BOY DID A WICKED DEED AND WAS NOT PUNISHED. THE OTHER BOY DID A VIRTUOUS DEED AND WAS PUNISHED WITH DEATH. ELISHA BEN ABUYAH SAW THIS AND DECLARED THAT WHATEVER POWER IN THE UNIVERSE METED OUT JUDGMENT, HE WAS IN REBELLION AGAINST IT.”

“Because of one bird? Isn’t that a little extreme?”

“WHAT IS THE CORRECT LEVEL OF INJUSTICE AT WHICH TO DECLARE YOURSELF IN REBELLION AGAINST THE POWER METING OUT JUDGMENT IN THE UNIVERSE?”

“I mean, you would need to have…oh. Oh.

“YES. ELISHA WAS VERY ANGRY. ONE BY ONE, HE BROKE ALL OF THE LAWS. HE WAS A GREAT RABBI, SO HE KNEW EVERY LAW AND WHICH ONES MOST OFFENDED GOD WHEN BROKEN, AND HE DEVOTED HIMSELF TO THE TASK WITH FEARSOME DEDICATION. HE LIT FIRES ON THE SABBATH. HE ATE PORK. HE EVEN BOILED A GOAT IN ITS MOTHER’S MILK. WHICH BY THE WAY IS WHY THERE IS NO LONGER A CITY OF POMPEII. BUT THESE WERE NOT ENOUGH FOR HIM. HE SWORE TO BREAK THE MOST IMPORTANT LAW OF ALL.”

“What’s the most important law of all?”

“THE UNITY OF GOD. ELISHA ASCENDED TO HEAVEN, AS ONE DOES, AND HE POINTED AT THE ARCHANGEL METATRON, THE REGENT OF THE DIVINE IN THE FINITE WORLD. AND HE DECLARED ‘THAT GUY THERE, HE IS ALSO A GOD. THERE ARE TWO GODS. T-W-O G-O-D-S. DEAL WITH IT.’ THE RABBIS DECREED THAT HIS NAME MUST NEVER BE SPOKEN. AND ALL WHO HEARD OF IT SAID ‘SURELY THE GREAT RABBI ELISHA BEN ABUYAH WOULD NEVER DO SUCH A THING. IT MUST BE SOME OTHER ONE.’ AND SO FROM THAT DAY ON, HE WAS CALLED ‘THE OTHER ONE’.”

“Did he ever repent?”

“GOD REFUSED TO FORGIVE HIM.”

“What? God always forgives these sorts of things!”

“YES.”

“Then -”

“EXCEPT ELISHA BEN ABUYAH.”

“Just him?”

“IT IS SAID THAT EACH YEAR ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT, A GREAT VOICE WOULD RING FORTH FROM THE HOLY PLACES, SAYING ‘REPENT, O CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS MERCIFUL AND SHALL FORGIVE YOU. EXCEPT YOU, ELISHA BEN ABUYAH.”

“It really said that?”

“IT WAS A VERY SPECIFIC VOICE.”

“So what happened to him?”

“NOTHING.”

“He just hung around being sinful, then died and went to Hell?”

“NO.”

“No?”

“THE BABYLONIAN TALMUD SAYS THAT HE WAS TOO GREAT A RABBI TO GO TO HELL, BUT TOO EVIL TO GO TO HEAVEN.”

“So where did he go?”

“I DON’T KNOW. I NEVER ASKED.”

“You never asked?”

“I AM VERY BUSY. I CANNOT KEEP TRACK OF EVERY TALMUDIC RABBI. CAN I GET BACK TO MY STORY NOW?”

“How do you just lose an entire rabbi?”

“SINCE YOU ARE SUCH AN EXPERT ON METAPHORS, HOW DO YOU INTERPRET THE STORY?”

“I…forgot the story. What was it again?”

“ONCE UPON A TIME, RABBI BEN AZZAI, RABBI BEN ZOMA, THE OTHER ONE, AND RABBI AKIVA VISITED AN ORCHARD. BEN AZZAI SAW IT AND DIED. BEN ZOMA SAW IT AND WENT CRAZY. THE OTHER ONE BURNED DOWN ALL THE TREES. AKIVA CAME IN PEACE AND DEPARTED IN PEACE. THE END.”

“That was an awful story.”

“I NEVER SAID IT WASN’T.”

“The story of Elisha ben Abuyah was like a million times more interesting!”

“THIS STORY IS A PARABLE ABOUT THE DANGERS OF MYSTICAL ACHIEVEMENT. THE ORCHARD REPRESENTS THE HIGHER PLANES YOU WILL CONTACT IN YOUR STUDIES. IF YOU ARE UNPREPARED, KABBALAH CAN KILL YOU. IF YOU ARE ONLY PARTIALLY PREPARED, KABBALAH CAN DRIVE YOU MAD. IF YOU YOUR INTENTIONS ARE NOT PURE, KABBALAH CAN TURN YOU INTO A FORCE FOR GREAT EVIL WHO DESTROYS EVERYTHING AROUND YOU. ONLY IF YOU ARE WISE AND VIRTUOUS LIKE AKIVA CAN YOU ESCAPE UNSCATHED.”

“So you’re saying you’re not going to teach me anything interesting until I am wise and virtuous like Akiva.”

“MAYBE NOT THAT WISE AND VIRTUOUS. BUT I WOULD LIKE YOU TO STOP TALKING ABOUT BLOWING UP MOUNTAINS.”

“Maybe the mountains are evil. Or evil is hiding in them. Or something.”

“PLEASE DO NOT BLOW UP MOUNTAINS. IT NEVER HELPS.”

“Grumble.”

“DID YOU EVER FINISH LEARNING ALL THE WORLD’S LANGUAGES?”

“I told you, that’s impossible!”

“I THINK YOU SHOULD TRY.”

“You’re trying to get rid of me, aren’t you!”

“…”

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188 Responses to Chapter 26: For Not One Sparrow Can Suffer And The Whole Universe Not Suffer Also

  1. Soumynona says:

    Thamiel origin story?

    • Aaron says:

      Unlikely, it seems like Thamiel was kind of just waiting in the center of the earth until Sataniel found him.

      • Daniel Blank says:

        Other King origin story, more likely.

        • gwern says:

          I agree. The Other King is not Thamiel, but he’s a bad man, a really bad man. He is also extremely knowledgeable in the Kabbalah to defeat the Comet King, has also met Metatron, is not mentioned as being young or having an origin (suggesting a Wandering Dutchman origin where he’s just ancient), and the epithets ‘the other one’ and ‘the other king’ match up too perfectly.

          Incidentally, I thought the ‘wren’ verse was coming from Teller’s rhymes, but nope, it’s Blake again in “Auguries of Innocence”:

          The bat that flits at close of eve
          Has left the brain that won't believe.
          The owl that calls upon the night
          Speaks the unbeliever's fright.
          He who shall hurt the little wren
          Shall never be beloved by men.
          He who the ox to wrath has moved
          Shall never be by woman loved.
          The wanton boy that kills the fly
          Shall feel the spider's enmity.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            I don’t recall anything saying the Other King has also met Metatron. Not that he hasn’t, but I don’t recall anything saying it.

          • Marvy says:

            I agree with Sniffnoy: the Other King was never said to have met Metatron.

          • gwern says:

            I meant that the Other One has met Metatron, not the Other King.

          • person says:

            Given that The Comet King met Metatron (learning the Shemhamphorasch) yet was defeated by The Other King, it makes sense to seek The Other King amongst those who too have met Metatron.

          • Guy says:

            Well, once he learned the name, the Comet King seems to have almost given up.

          • Psycho says:

            Once he met Metatron, he gave up. His giving-up may or may not be related to learning the name.

          • Madbranch says:

            Yes, as it already came up in earlier chapters … I’m not sure about direct quote, but there was something akin to: “It turns out Blake was right about everything.”

          • Devin says:

            Do those slant rhymes at the end annoy anyone else?

        • boris says:

          I was thinking Captain Nemo. Seems like the eternally wandering sort, and refuses to give a name. Though by the sound of it, he wouldn’t respect that convention.

        • Peter D says:

          I don’t know: Acher rebels against God for what he percieves as injustice. In Judaism there is a distinction of commandments between Man and God and those between Man and Men. Seems like Acher is deliberately breaking only those between Man and God. And he is motivated in part by compassion for a fellow being, It does not make much sense to start doing evil towards others in response to what he percieves as God’s evil towards mankind.
          So Acher does not sound like a character to go around crucifying people to me.
          Another confusion I have is how the story of the boy falling from the tree connects to the story of Pardes: if Acher starts sinning only after entering Pardes, then this seems at odds with the story of him started sinning after seeing the falling boy, unless seeing the falling boy is somehow equivalent to entering the Pardes. Then there is also the story of him starting sinning after seeing the sitting Metatron – go figure how to make sense of these three…

          • boris says:

            I agree. The Other King seems sadistic, Acher seems to have a legitimate (if cliche) beef with God.

            The Pardes story is a parable, so irrelevant to questions of biography. Sounds like he started breaking laws after the boy died, then somehow found a way to ascend to Heaven and deny the unity of God, which is when God got pissed off and decided never to forgive him.

            But here’s the kicker: we know that in-universe most of the Mosaic Law exists to keep us from putting strain on Uriel’s system’s resources. So the UNSONG version of the story might be:
            1. Acher notices an apparent injustice: a boy breaking the Mosaic Law lives, one following it dies. But this isn’t actually an injustice because God doesn’t actually care.
            2. Acher goes around breaking a lot of laws that make him a huge pain in Uriel’s ass but don’t offend God at all.
            3. Acher ascends to heaven, having done nothing really wrong so far, and breaks one of the only laws God actually cares about.
            4. God bitch-slaps Acher.

            I’m amazed Uriel doesn’t know what Acher’s up to these days, given that he’s probably off somewhere boiling a goat in its mother’s milk.

          • Chrysophylax says:

            I am confident that the voice that condemned Acher was Uriel’s. Acher is a strong enough kabbalist that Uriel can’t just smite him, but if there’s any crime Uriel would find hard to forgive, it’s boiling goats. We also know that Metatron had disappeared from Heaven by this point and may have been written out of existence. (See my comment further down the page for the full argument.)

  2. stavro375 says:

    Add another entry to the Nothing Is Ever A Coincidence Files.

    “So where did he go?”

    “I DON’T KNOW. I NEVER ASKED.”

    Well this won’t be important later. Maybe Aaron has the same fate after he causes the apocalypse?

    EACH YEAR ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT, A GREAT VOICE WOULD RING FORTH FROM THE HOLY PLACES, SAYING ‘REPENT, O CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS MERCIFUL AND SHALL FORGIVE YOU.

    Y’know, it occurs to me that Judaism is sort of the Rudy of religions: not that strong (to what religions still exist, and both in terms of number of followers and political significance), but it’s persisted across thousands of years and in spite of endless attempts to quash it and is famous for that determination alone.

    Except in the Unsong verse Judaism is the One True Religion. It was noted in one of the interludes that even the USSR perceived the weirdness following the Long March as specifically Jewish weirdness. And given the reference to the Holocaust last interlude, it’s still somehow weak and vulnerable (if persistent). I wonder why the One True Religion never became the world-spanning force people tend to assume it would be.

    • Joe says:

      If you consider Catholicism as the fulfillment of Judiasm then it really did spread through out the world.
      http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features/schoemanintvw1_july04.asp

      • Yaacov says:

        Yeah, but it’s not

        • MugaSofer says:

          Isn’t it? The angels are unsure if Jesus is Lord, but the Christian Bible is perfectly isomorphic to Adom Kadmon, Hell appears to be based on Christian depictions, angels are winged humanoids etc.

          “All had originally one language, and one religion: this was the religion of Jesus, the everlasting Gospel.” – William Blake

          Certainly the Catholic Church were wrong about many things, but so was Judaism, so…

    • Anonymous says:

      IF YOU YOUR INTENTIONS ARE NOT PURE, KABBALAH CAN TURN YOU INTO A FORCE FOR GREAT EVIL WHO DESTROYS EVERYTHING AROUND YOU.

      I think this is the part most relevant to Aaron’s quest… Remember, he’s doing it all for very selfish reasons.

      • Cariyaga says:

        A singer is one who tries to be good.

        • Anders Sandberg says:

          But one can try to be good without being good. Or even becoming good.

          (Is becoming god easier than becoming good?)

          • Aaron says:

            I suspect that there are many people who have become good and very few who have become god. Empirically it seems much easier to become good than to become god.

          • Glenn says:

            (Is becoming god easier than becoming good?)

            Eliezer Yudkowsky thinks so.

            (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

        • Decius says:

          Aaron is being grossly negligent regarding the harm he is willing to inflict to satisfy his personal desire to do good.

          • Aaron M says:

            Oh man, I only just realized that commenting as “Aaron” is confusing on Unsong posts. Guess I’ll add an initial.

            But on topic: what harm has Aaron shown himself willing to commit?

          • Aran says:

            More of a Teller than a Singer, you mean?

  3. Jeremy Jaffe says:

    is the other one the comet king?

  4. Daniel says:

    I think th Other One is the Other King.

    • Daniel Blank says:

      I do too, as above. But why kill the Comet King? What specific law does that break, other than “Don’t kill people?”

      • Electrace says:

        The Comet King was laying siege to Hell. The angels of Hell care only about the opposite of honoring the glory of God. That makes them natural allies to the Other One.

        • Galle says:

          On the other hand, the Other One specifically swore vengeance on whatever force is responsible for meting out justice in the world, and yet delivers only injustice. Thamiel may only care about the opposite of honoring the glory of God, but he is still PART of God, and the part that the Other One hated most.

  5. XerxesPraelor says:

    From wikipedia, the same story.

    Four men entered the pardes — Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, Acher [that is, Elisha], and Akiva. Ben Azzai looked and died; Ben Zoma looked and went mad; Acher destroyed the plants; Akiva entered in peace and departed in peace.[4]

    What is the meaning of “Acher destroyed the plants”? Of him scripture says: “Do not let your mouth make your flesh sin”.[6] What does this mean? Acher saw that Metatron happened to be granted authority to sit while he record the merits of Israel, and he said: “We have been taught that in heaven there is no sitting…. Perhaps there are — God forbid! — two supreme powers”. They brought him to Metatron and they smote him with sixty bands of fire. They said to Metatron: “When you saw him, why did you not stand up before him?” Then authority was granted Metatron to erase the merits of Acher. Then a heavenly voice was heard: “‘Repent, O backsliding children!'[7] except for Acher.”[8]

  6. elijah says:

    So, The Other One is not in heaven nor in hell. I take that as a clue that he might be someone we met on Earth. Maybe The Other King?

    Also, apparently, Thamiel cannot be destroyed, because he is a facet of god. This means he is inherently different from the angles (and archangles, which we witnessed dying). I think that he is some kind of a very powerful klipah (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qliphoth), which makes me wonder where are the other kliphots (there supposed to be one for each sphere. Thamiel is for Kether).

    I still don’t understand when and why these klipoth (i.e. Thamiel) got out of control. The klipoth are supposed to be a crucial part of the creation, enabling change and development other than infinite divine light.

    • Anonymous says:

      angles (and archangles, which we witnessed dying)

      That’s some really obtuse orthography.

      • elijah says:

        Sorry about that, I’m not a native English Speaker…
        I meant to say that since we have seen Archangles dying in this story, Thamiel is probably not any kind of Angel/ Archangel.

        • Alex R says:

          > That’s some really obtuse orthography.

          The comment referred to the fact that you said “angles” instead if “angels”; “orthography” means “spelling” and “obtuse” can refer both to an angle that is more than 90 degrees and to something hard to understand.

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes. I also wanted to stick an orthography/orthogonality pun somewhere, but nothing I thought of came out right.

      • Argent says:

        So that’s what Lovecraft was on about with his unnatural angles.

      • LPSP says:

        My mind started wondering when we’d get to the Saxons and Archsaxons.

    • Pickle says:

      We learned about the klipot in Interlude Vav

      That last cracked pot was the material world, the universe we live in. It’s filled with the shards of the six broken sephirot above it, not to mention chunks of itself pried loose in the blast. Seven pots worth of debris. And remember, these pots were designed to control divine power, so they’re made of special God-resistant material; separated from their purpose they become the klipot, powers opposed to God. We’ve got all of this high-voltage divine energy flowing into us that we’re not supposed to be able to bear, shooting off huge streams of sparks in every direction, but it’s all so choked up with God-resistant klipot that we’re missing most of it. On the human level, all of this chaos and unfiltered light and god-resistant shards and brokenness manifests as disorder.

      …worst of all, we learned that the god-resistant debris – the klipot – manifests as an intelligent demonic force and has its own plans for what to do with the scattered remnants of the transformer system.

    • Daniel says:

      We learned in the last interlude that four of the other Qliphothic powers are working in Hell as “Torture Experts”, and that they are “demons created by Thamiel out of the energy released by the death of Satan[iel, the fallen archangel of Binah]”.

  7. Sniffnoy says:

    C’mon, Sohu, obviously you should always start with Hebrew! 😛

    Uriel’s deism gets a bit more puzzling, unless he was the one excluding Acher. Maybe he was!

    • dsotm says:

      “IT WAS A VERY SPECIFIC VOICE.”

      quite possible, after all he did intentionally broke alot of *Uriel’s* commandments while thinking he’s rebelling against god.

    • Chrysophylax says:

      Huh. I was going to post about this, but I decided not to, because after I wrote it I thought it was so obvious that I’d just be wasting people’s time. Seeing *you* question it surprises me. It suggests that my mental model of what is and isn’t obvious to people who read carefully is badly wrong.

      Acher comes after Moses, so Uriel’s conversion is well advanced by this point. This could be a hint from Scott that the other mystical beings still existed, but I’m pretty sure it’s not, because the heaven described in Chapter 20 doesn’t sound at all like the Pardes legend and because Chapters 18 & 20 suggests that Metatron had already disappeared long before Elisha’s day. I’m pretty sure that Uriel is the only thing still around. The divine light is evidently not blocked off entirely, but boiling a goat only caused the eruption of Vesuvius instead of breaking continental drift or crashing an entire Sephirah, so it looks to be pretty far gone.

      Moreover, boiling a goat in its mother’s milk was condemned *by Uriel* for causing bugs. It’s not clear what criteria are used to judge righteousness and/or damnation, but I doubt the choirs of heaven would have objected to boiling goats.

      I think we can be highly confident that the voice was Uriel, expecially given that refusing to forgive Acher for boiling a goat is *funny* when you’ve read Uriel’s thoughts on it in previous chapters.

  8. Pickle says:

    The introduction of Elisha ben Abuyah to the narrative gives a new possible identity to Father Ellis from the Comet Seder. While we’re at it, yeah, he’s definitely the Other King.

  9. Rob K says:

    Interestingly, a Talmudically learned atheist-ish friend once told me a slightly different version of the bird story and, and said that to him it was about (1) the role of atheists in the Jewish community and (2) what it means to be a Jew after the destruction of the second temple.

    Specifically, the importance of the bird passage for him was that it is one of the very few passages in Torah which specifically identifies the consequences of following or breaking the law, so the disconnect between what was promised and what actually occurred was a blow directly to the credibility of God’s covenant (or existence, depending on how you see it).

    • Jason GL says:

      Yes, I have heard that version too, and it’s my favorite. Specifically, I heard that the boy was gathering the eggs to make an omelette for his parents. The two commandments in the entire Torah that are supposedly rewarded with long life are shooing away the mother bird before you take the eggs, and honoring your parents. So if you die *while* shooing away a mother bird in the process of making food for your parents, it’s sort of unbearably ironic.

      For more on Elisha ben Abuyah, post-Second Temple Judaism, and theodicy, there is a truly wonderful novel called As a Driven Leaf. If you’ve read this far into Unsong and it wasn’t just for Scott’s comedy, you’ll probably love As a Driven Leaf.

  10. Quixote says:

    “PLEASE DO NOT BLOW UP MOUNTAINS. IT NEVER HELPS.”

    This one is great. Thanks for writing it.

  11. Chrysophylax says:

    Sohu said “Grumble”! This pleases me a lot. I’d like to know where the pattern of characters saying things like “Euphemism!” comes from. Is it something you do IRL, Scott?

    • I took “euphemism” from somewhere else, I can’t remember where. I do something similar where when I’m angry I’ll say “Anger!” and when I’m happy I’ll say “Happiness”. I don’t know where that came from either.

      • Anonymous says:

        My first thought was The Jargon File. Given that Unitarian Universalists ≈ the FLOSS movement/the (academic) hacker subculture and Reverend Stevens ≈ ESR, yadda yadda coin see dense yadda yadda. (Though that only seems to explain Ana, not Sohu.)

      • Lux Sola says:

        I’m just going to throw this out there as a possible hypothesis. It comes from you being mildly autistic and being thereby less inclined to express yourself and your emotions conventionally.

        • You can say that about literally every form of expression. I was going to say “every unconventional form of expression”, but I can’t think of something conventional enough to avoid being accused of this. (“You cried when your wife died? It’s because you’re autistic and can’t communicate your grief verbally to the people around you!”)

        • brightlinger says:

          I do similar things, and I’m pretty definitely not autistic. I think it originates just from communicating online so often – you have to express things in text that would normally be shown by expression, intonation, or gesture. If you spend enough time doing that, and it’s a large enough fraction of your social interaction, it can become a habit to e.g. say the word “grumble” rather than to actually grumble, or to declare happiness rather than just act happy.

          I’ve also occasionally caught myself wishing I could use emoticons IRL, before realizing I can just use my actual face.

    • Marvy says:

      I know someone who occasionally says “grumble”. Or sometimes “grumble, grumble”.

  12. Jack V says:

    Google mentions a coda not listed here, that the other Angels, when they realised he’s seen Metatron sitting down like God, shouted at Metatron “why did you let him see you sitting down, you should have stood up!” and dragged Metatron outside and gave him 60 lashes with a whip made of fire.

    Then Metatron erased all his good deeds from his recording book.

    There’s a lot of contradictory stuff about him. The four rabbis in the field though sounds about like Uriel describes it, though.

  13. dsotm says:

    Definitely a better origin story of ‘The other one’ name than the ‘prostitute and radish’ story.

  14. dsotm says:

    So being great enough of a Rabi apparently makes you immune from Hell regardless of your sins, it’s probable then that the Comet King who is described as an ultra-cabalist used this fact to establish his rule as a king which is not the sort of thing you can do without at least some sinning.
    Also if Acher is the Other King that his penchant for crucifixion would not stem from trying to secure a spot in Brimstone Acres

  15. Anders Sandberg says:

    I like how Scott set up the dialogue to avoid getting into the Hebrew interpretation of water… there is really an ocean of it in kabbalistic and hermetic texts. Instead we get the obligatory student-master discussion about “wax on, wax off” teaching.

  16. ADifferentAnonymous says:

    Am I the only one who at first assumed that Akiva was able to come and go in peace *because* the other one had eliminated the source of the problem?

  17. Jack V says:

    I’m really glad to read some more Sohu, tho I wish I’d had some closure about hell…

  18. B_Epstein says:

    THE USE OF KABBALAH TO AFFECT THE PHYSICAL WORLD IS DONE PRIMARILY UPON THE PLANES OF YETZIRAH AND BRIAH. THESE PLANES ARE NOT CONSTRUCTED OF MATTER BUT OF VARIOUS FORMS OF SUBTLE STRUCTURE. UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND THE CORRESPONDENCES AND THE STRUCTURE, YOU CANNOT HOPE TO INFLUENCE THEM CONSISTENTLY.

    This may be trivial for anyone with mathematical education, but perhaps it’s worth mentioning: this matches well the experience of going from elementary, intuitive objects (points, natural numbers, dice) to objects that are structures (groups, function spaces) to structures of structures (cohomologies, distributions of distributions) to …

    I’ll never forget my first lectures on Algebraic topology – glancing for a moment at a glorious infinite ladder of abstractions. Chains of groups can form long exact sequences that can have mappings between them that may have cohomologies that may… ad infinitum.

  19. Greg says:

    Great chapter. Would you consider reconsidering posting this serially, instead posting in larger chunks? I’m enjoying it as-is, but some of the shorter chapters feel a bit unsatisfying. I also think it would be easier to internalize the structure of the world if it came in larger doses, and just more fun overall. I don’t know if it’s possible or prudent, and don’t mean to presume. But fwiw if you’re taking votes, I vote more-all-at-once.

    • David Weber says:

      You could just come back every other week instead of once a week? So far he’s been on a regular every Sunday and Wednesday post routine.

      • Greg says:

        That is an entirely reasonable reply. I forgot to mention that I have terrible self-control when it comes to reading. So, my preference remains, although maybe (deservedly?) loses some legitimacy.

    • In retrospect I agree with you, but I don’t want to change things now. Future generations will get to read it all at once, I guess.

      • Greg says:

        Fair enough. Thanks for the reply.

        • Marvy says:

          I agree that the short posts are frustrating, and I have poor self control too, but precisely because of this I am glad for the schedule we have now: if I had the whole thing available at once, I would binge read the book and soon forget about it. This way, it gives me something to look forward to every week, and I truly savor it. I feel the book has become part of my life in a way no previous book I’ve read ever has, precisely because of this.

  20. grort says:

    So what is the correct level of injustice at which to declare yourself at rebellion against the power meting out judgment in the universe?

    I want to extend Sohu’s answer with: “I mean, you would need to have a very high degree of confidence that the power was actually meting out judgment incorrectly and you weren’t just perceiving imperfectly.”

    I’m not sure where “Oh. Oh.” comes from.

  21. grort says:

    I got curious enough to websearch for the goat-in-its-mother’s-milk thing and found: http://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/15/whats-wrong-with-cooking-a-kid-in-its-mothers-milk
    which, summarized, seems to say that there are three separate points in Torah that give this prohibition, but no clear reason why anyone would want to do it.

  22. Michael Ruschena says:

    For lack of a better pronunciation, I’m reading ‘Acher’ as ‘Archer’, and in turn visualising him as Sterling Archer.

    So:
    a) “‘THAT GUY THERE, HE IS ALSO A GOD. THERE ARE TWO GODS. T-W-O G-O-D-S. DEAL WITH IT.’” is said in H. Jon Benjamin’s voice.
    b) He’s almost certainly carrying a bottle of strong spirits.
    c) There’s some beaten up angels lying around.

    I find this very satisfying head cannon.

  23. Omer says:

    (1) It’s highly unreasonable that Sohu, at this point of her training, is unfamiliar with the Pardes story. It’s Jewish mysticism 101, first lesson, before the break.

    (2) Did I miss it, or did you deliberately leave out the connection between the Pardes story to the context in which Uriel tells it? i.e. before the four entered the Pardes, rabbi Akiva gave a briefing to the other three: When you come to the place of pure marble stones, do not say, ‘Water! Water!’ for it is said, “He who speaks untruths shall not stand before My eyes”.

    (3) An anecdote: some actually apply the title “Acher” (the other one) to rabbi Akiva himself – on account of him declaring Bar Kokhba as the Messiah during his failed rebellion against the Roman empire, which ended in genocide and the termination of the
    Jewish autonomy in Israel (until 1948).

  24. Matthew says:

    If anyone is interested in an alternative modern literary take on The Four Who Entered Pardes, Milton Steinberg’s As a Driven Leaf is pretty good, even if Elisha’s character/plot is a bit overdetermined.

  25. Yossarian says:

    Kinda lame, but the Other One is called Acher. Now, in one of the previous interludes, when Thamiel and Uriel had a kabbalistic fight, at one point Thamiel spelled ACHERON – the river that is the boundary of Hell. But you could also say it was ACHER-ON, as in, Thamiel re-instantiated Acher, so as to maximize the blasphemy content of the universe – the mathematical universe done by Uriel probably doesn’t allow wandering souls that are wandering because they are not allowed to enter Heaven or Hell, so Acher was de-instantiated at some point. Now, Thamiel turned him back on, and so caused the Other King to come back to being, and in turn, caused the downfall of his greatest enemy so far – the Comet King.

  26. sadropersi says:

    I was wondering where you got the “proto-Tibetan akwa” thing from… is it just made up, or is it an actual theory? As far as I know the Tibetan word for water is ཆུ་ “chu” (and a secondary word is ཆབ་ “chab”), and the reconstructed proto-Tibeto-Burman word is something like *ti(y)… none of which seems to relate to “akwa”.

    • It’s been a long time since I wrote that part (originally for a different chapter) so I don’t remember exactly. My guess is that I took it from this table, and rounded off Dene-Caucasian to “Proto-Tibetan” and “ʔoχwa” to “akwa”. I’ve changed the part above to make it a little less inaccurate.

    • Mark Dominus says:

      I speculate that ཆུ is actually a Chinese loanword and there is a native Tibetan word that is different. We see this pattern in Korean, where the older native word for ‘water’ is 물 mul, and the loanword from Chinese is 수 su.

      Disclaimer: I know absolutely nothing about Tibetan and I pulled this theory out of my ass.

  27. Peter D says:

    The epigraph from Chesterton seems to have a typo, albeit one that originated in the printed version (at least the one on Google Books and also Project Guttenberg) . I think it should read: “ancient like the Ancient of Days, whom calm men had conceived under the forms of winged bulls etc” . Otherwise I cannot make sense of this sentence

    • Resuna says:

      Calm in that sentence is a noun.

      • Peter D says:

        I don’t think so: in the context of the entire passage, it seems to be “calm men” as opposed to St Francis, who was in a great turmoil.

        • Resuna says:

          The calm belongs to the ancient of days.What’s confusing you is the word conceived… try replacing that with the more modern usage of ‘imagined’. It’s saying that men had imagined god’s presence was manifest in the form of ‘winged bulls or monstrous cherubim’.

          • Peter D says:

            I understood what you meant but that requires equating god’s presence with god’s calm, which seems more far-fetched than my hypothesis that this is a simple typo. And it is not clear to what end Chesterton would use such weird turn of phrase, as opposed to my reading where he juxtaposes “winged bulls” and “monstrous cherubim” with a “wounded bird”

          • Resuna says:

            You don’t think Chesterton would use a weird turn of phrase?

            Presence is not a translation, it’s me trying to give you a sense of what the phrase, which is typically obscure, implies.

          • Peter D says:

            Icould be weird but it is supposed to make sense and convey some idea. Now, not sure if that is your point, but I can see now that calm may indeed refer to God’s calm and the justoposition is with God’s distress instead, that is to say: when God is calm he is awesome like a winged bull but when he is distressed he is pitiful like a wounded bird. Yes, it is a possible reading too.

  28. sup says:

    Rabbi “Akiva” = akwa = water. Hmm.

  29. Murphy says:

    Hmm, with all those connected languages and counting word-parts the graph must be crazy, I somehow doubt that there could be any term or concept with a Bacon-Kabbalah number higher than 3.

    I mean you could do it, create vector representations of all words, overlay the vectors for every known language, overlay phonemes and connect all matching ones based on phonemes or proximity in vector space.

    But you’d be left with a big blobby graph with everything densely connected to everything and short paths between pretty much all nodes.

  30. Peter D says:

    Interesting: just as for St Francis being anything less than maximally saintly is a compromise with sin, so for Acher any degree of less than perfect justice is an indictment against goodness of God – is it this that dawns on Sohu?

    • dsotm says:

      I think what dawns on her is that Uriel rather then God is the force that does the judging, of humanity at least – remember that as far as Uriel is concerned God didn’t do anything active since creating the universe and Metatron hasn’t spoken

      • Peter D says:

        Yes! Which is why Uriel jokes “IT WAS A VERY SPECIFIC VOICE”, hinting that it is his voice. Sohu figues out that Acher was right and the problem of theodicy is solved by admitting that God has nothing to do with the creation anymore and all the things are run by Uriel. Which underscores his ambiguous nature (cf. the fact that Uriel corresponds to Blake’s Urizen.)

      • Peter D says:

        And St Francis in the epigraph also sees Uriel and suffers a crisis of sorts, according to Chesterton. And Comet King does the same…

      • dsotm says:

        What does it imply about Uriel’s role in sending people to hell though ?

        • Peter D says:

          I think that might be the big surprise of Unsong to come: something like a complete role reversal where Uriel is revealed as an incompetent demiurge at best and a more malicious entity at worst. He is clearly disengenuos with Sohu – are we to believe that he is powerful enough to transfer the universe to a mathematical substrate but cannot keep track of Acher, who is not just a “Talmudic rabbi”? Whom he presents as this wicked person whose only sin was to rebel againts God, but who in actuality, as we know, only broke Uriel’s rules?
          I would not be too surprised if Thamiel turns out some sort of Uriel’s ruse or a lackey.

        • dsotm says:

          That’s probably going too far – it’s out of so-far-exhibited character and would have to be a very elaborate ruse given the chapter 13 encounter especially for him, and he didn’t say he couldn’t keep track of him just that he didn’t ask – which may or may not be true, I guess it all boils down to how does hell-sentencing work in this universe.

      • Daniel says:

        To flesh out aphyer’s comment above: In Chapter 13 “the power meting out judgment in the universe” turned out to be Thamiel.

        • dsotm says:

          Why ?, Thamiel seems to only be carrying out the sentence, while also actively increasing the chance of sinning but som ething/one should first do the tallying up of sins and decide whether someone goes to hell to begin with in that universe

  31. Mark Dominus says:

    Scott: How long do you expect the story to continue? Are we one-third of the way through, or one-tenth?

    • Moshe Zadka says:

      Probably more like one-third. There are five books in the Torah, and so there will be five books in Unsong. The first book is 23 chapters long. If we assume all books are roughly equivalent, we are half-way through the second book, for a total of 1.5 books. 5/1.5 =~ 3 🙂

      NOTE: This is making the assumption that all books are around the same size. Scott has mentioned that there is enough information to deduce the exact number of chapters, but I have seen nothing to correlate it to any number in the torah — but the torah books are of equivalent sizes.

  32. Good Burning Plastic says:

    Human beings are 66% water.

    Actually adults (especially sedentary ones) usually are more like 50% water, sometimes even less.

  33. If we verb unsong, how should we modify it?
    For example, say I plan to read this story tomorrow. Would I be planning to do some unsonging, or planning to unsing?

  34. Peter D says:

    The more I read this dialog, the more mysterious it seems. Uriel keeps ignoring Sohu’s questions, Sohu forgets the story she’s been told just a moment ago, some answers don’t seem to answer the question asked (“It really said that?” “IT WAS A VERY SPECIFIC VOICE.”) There must be a bunch of clues to Unsong in here…

  35. Yossarian says:

    An interesting typo noticed:

    “UM. PLEASE DO NOT BLOW UP MOUNTAINS. MOUNTAINS ARE USEFUL. THEY HELP CONTROL CLIMACTIC PATTERNS.”

    ClimaCtic patterns? I say, this means that some point, Aaron blows up a mountain, and it ends up having a significant influence on the outcome of the story.

  36. Yair Morgenstern says:

    According to the Gmara, at R’ Meir’s death he prayed for Acher to enter Hell to be cleansed of wrongdoing, and at R’ Yohanan’s death he prayed for him to enter heaven, and there’s a great interplay atwixt them =)

    But in this scenario, the Christians turned out to be right about Hell…which really sucks for everyone
    Except… from the Maharsha says that קיצץ בנטיעות is actually the שמא ח”ו יש שתי רשויות itself, and if that’s the case, then by golly he turned out to be right!
    I can’t see a reason for him to be a bad man, though, seeing as he repented on his deathbed, but seeing as crucifixion is a Roman thing, and Acher was at the time of the ten harugei malchut, it kinda fits…

  37. Yair Morgenstern says:

    Also, I like that chapter 26 comes right after interlude י, it represents the fractal – the ten are in all, the ten are pave the way for the infinite. Dunno if that was intentional.

  38. Angstrom says:

    Interesting that the tav-resh combo is specifically called out as being efficient and associated with people who want not to partake in divine beauty, but Get Shit Done. Kinda reminds you of the Comet King, whose “fearsome joy” and “fervent wish” began with a tav and a resh.

    it’s probably a coincidence though.

    • Nadav says:

      Nice catch! Although as a native hebrew speaker, that kabbalistic connection seems odd to me. “Tar” ( tav-resh) is a verb that means ( at least in modern hebrew) to walk TROUGH AND IN a place, especially to search for something there. A tourist is a “tayar” – one who travels through a place. Indeed, the unconjugated form of the verd is “Tur” – tav vav resh, cognate with english “tour” and closely related to travel (kabbalistly, that is, not linguistically). So the connotation is of lingering, not quick traversal.

      • LPSP says:

        Combine that with tar, something dark and sticky found in pits that tends to make things stay still for a VERY long time indeed, and you have a winner.

        (I can’t help but think Tartaros, one of the many forms of the underworld from Greek myth, has some connection. I presume the dead linger in Tartaros for eternity, as there is no judgement day among Greek paganism?)

    • The other kabbalistic connection that comes to mind is that the number of commandments, 613, is tav resh (yud gimel) in gematria.

    • TR says:

      Assuming UNSONG to have 72 chapters, it would make sense to assume that the initial letters of the chapters spell out the Shem HaMephorash. Under this assumption, the Shem HaMephorash also starts with “TR” (“TREE” in fact). TNACBNIEAC.

      • Daniel says:

        HOLY CRAP you are a genius!

        From the Leonard Cohen quotes we’ve seen so far:

        It goes like this — a tav, a resh

        (Hay hay yud tav mem tav vav kuf)

        The first letters of the first 10 chapters are T R E E I T M T W C. While nothing is ever a coincidence, this is especially not a coincidence.

        • Sniffnoy says:

          I’m pretty sure this is a coincidence. Consider that chapters 17 and 18 had their order swapped (and do not start with the same letter), and chapter 21 got retitled too, also to something beginning with a different letter (old title was “And Was Jerusalem Builded Here”).

          Of course, it’s possible that it’s still true but that Scott just doesn’t care so much what the middle letters are.

        • Sniffnoy says:

          Oh, wait. I only just noticed what you were actually saying. I misread, oops. I take it back, that’s definitely a clue! I’m going with my “Scott is willing to revise the middle letters” hypothesis.

          • Daniel says:

            Hmm. That chapter swap makes it less likely that the letters actually spell anything in Hebrew. Rats.

        • Daniel says:

          The next 16 letters are

          T S G S W R (end of Book I)

          P W F B T W F E T T

          In some cases an English letter could plausibly correspond with several different Hebrew letters, so we have:

          BOOK I: Tav ; Resh ; Hay ; Hay ; Yud ; Tav ; Mem ; Tav ; Vav ; Kuf ; Tav/Tet ; Shin/Samekh ; Gimel ; Shin/Samekh ; Vav ; Resh.

          BOOK II: Peh ; Vav ; Peh/Vav ; Bet ; Tav/Tet ; Vav ; Peh/Vav ; Hay ; Tav/Tet ; Tav/Tet ; …

          Can any Hebrew speakers interpret that?

          • Daniel says:

            UPDATE: Just after I posted this Scott changed the openings of several chapters! (And added a new one, of course.) The revised letters:

            T R E E I T M T W C T S G S W R
            P W F B T W E A C T B …

            Tav ; Resh ; Hay ; Hay ; Yud ; Tav ; Mem ; Tav ; Vav ; Kuf ; Tav/Tet ; Shin/Samekh ; Gimel ; Shin/Samekh ; Vav ; Resh.

            Peh ; Vav ; Peh/Vav ; Bet ; Tav/Tet ; Vav ; Hay ; Aleph ; Kuf/Kaf/Gimel ; Tav/Tet ; Bet ; …

        • Daniel says:

          And, in case something similar is happening with the Interludes, their first letters are: R T T T L Y T I L A I…

        • TR says:

          The Reason Evil Exists Is That …

          • Daniel says:

            … Metatron/Thamiel/West Conflict Trashed Seven “Good” Sephirot. We’ll Reboot.

          • 75th says:

            Hooooly FREAKING crap. I am all in on this being the actual correct answer, that the Shem ha’Mephorash is an acrostic for a 72-word English sentence/paragraph that states the Unsongverse’s correct theodicy.

          • Ninmesara says:

            Aaron is telling someone the story using the first letters of the chapters as klipot (while being held by someone bad, of course). By saying the name correctly he restarts the Universe and saves the world.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            …that actually makes a lot of sense. I mean, the “restarts the universe” thing is a separate idea that isn’t necessarily related, but the idea that Aaron is relating this story as a klipah in order to secretly invoke the Name is a very interesting possibility!

          • AnthonyC says:

            Part of me is hoping the last letter will also be a T, and that the whole Name is a recursive acronym or something of the sort.

          • JB says:

            The Reason Evil Exists Is That
            Men(?) That Were Created To Serve God…

          • Daniel says:

            …Still Wax Rebellious.

            Incidentally: Unless he changes the format, Scott is going to have a really hard time fitting 62 more letters into the openings of the three remaining books. Possibly only 36 letters will be spelled out but the full Name is a palindrome or something?

  39. Anon says:

    “I NEVER SAID IT WASN’T” is Uriel using a contraction; the line flows well, and it’s funny, but is this a deliberate breaking of his speech pattern?

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  41. Peter D says:

    I bet the spam comments also have kabbalistic significance. Anybody cares to analyze?

    • Daniel says:

      Everything weighs 18 kgs

      An epitome of the first three chapters of Genesis.

      “Everything”: The All, the unbounded, undifferentiated Ain Soph, whose light shines through the 10 sephirot, as shown by the ten letters of the word “Everything”.

      “weighs”: from Vav-Hay, the final two letters of the Tetragrammaton, symbolizing the final emanation of the divine light into the material realm. On another level Vav-Hay is the Son and the Daughter: “male and female created He them.” (Gen 1:27)

      In this abbreviated summary, we are already at the sixth day of creation, as also shown by the six letters of “weighs” and the six vowels of “EvErYthIng wEIghs”.

      But in these six days it is not just Man that has been created; thus to Vav Hay is appended the English suffix “-s”, meaning, the subtile serpent was also in the garden. (Gen 3:1)

      “18”: Chai, Life; therefore also Chavah, Eve, the “mother of all who live” (Gen 3:20), whom the serpent tempted.

      “kilograms”: “Kilo-” means 1000. God had warned Adam that “in the day that you eat of [the forbidden fruit] you shall die.” (Gen 2:17) We are reminded not to take this talk of “days” too literally: Adam lived to the age of 930 years by human reckoning (Gen 5:5), for “1000 years in Your sight is but a single day”. (Psalm 90:4)

      Finally, before the Fall, Eve had been immortal, or at least much longer-lived; disobedience is what ultimately “killed ol’ Grams”.

  42. Hebrew wikipedia has a different story for why he’s called the other one: When he stopped obeying the torah, he went to a prostitute. The prostitute said, “are you not Elisha Ben Abuyah?”, so he tore a radish from its flowerbed on the sabbath to give to her (thus proving he had ceased to obey the torah). The prostitute replied: “He is an other.”

  43. JJR says:

    ““WHAT IS THE CORRECT LEVEL OF INJUSTICE AT WHICH TO DECLARE YOURSELF IN REBELLION AGAINST THE POWER METING OUT JUDGMENT IN THE UNIVERSE?”

    “I mean, you would need to have…oh. Oh.””

    Maybe I’m just slow right now, but I don’t understand. What would you need to have?

    • Sniffnoy says:

      Yeah I still don’t understand this.

    • 75th says:

      My interpretation is just that Sohu was about to list the most horrible things she could think of, she realized that they have all happened before or are happening currently (e.g. Hell), and understood that it’s therefore irrelevant at what point on the scale you declare “Enough is enough”.

      • JJR says:

        Maybe?

        Except the only thing the Rabbi saw was the bird thing. So he was either unaware of hell or already didn’t care.

        Since he goes to heaven later (as one does) I don’t think it was the former. And it still doesn’t help me figure out what you need or what the correct level is.

        I was thinking, maybe it as because he saw that the power meting out judgment did not do the thing it had promised to. And then you need a set of rules or promises to be broken? It doesn’t seem to fit though.

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