The utterly wicked -- those whose inner beings are so deeply sullied and
dark because of their misdeeds, and whose bodies and souls are actually
besmirched as a consequence 1 -- could never attach onto G-d's
presence 2. Yet they too might have done some good 3.
Still and all, when placed on the scales of justice and considered in the
face of the majority of their deeds, those few good ones are neither
qualitatively nor quantitatively good enough to incline them toward the side
of actual goodness. For if their deeds were that good, then those
individuals wouldn't be considered utterly wicked, but rather almost good
And so that Divine Judgment not be demeaned 5, their few good
deeds are to be rewarded -- but in this world alone, as we indicated
6. Their merit will eventually be undone, though, and they'll
never earn a lofty status 7.
1. This then serves as a depiction of the inner makeup of the
extremely wicked: they're essentially and deeply sullied and dark, and their
entire being -- body and soul -- is besmirched. As such, they …
2. Since their beings are the obverse of G-d's own.
3. That's to say that despite their being so utterly wicked,
sullied, dark, and besmirched, they had to have done some good in their
lives -- perhaps by being kind to a child, doing a small favor to someone,
repaying a loan on time, etc. For such is the complex and often
contradictory makeup of the human heart which makes it possible for the very
most wicked to have a good side, however small (which explains why family
members may love them and only see "their good side").
4. I.e., they'd be the "very wrongful" depicted in 2:2:3 who'd
nonetheless be given a chance to experience the World to Come.
5. I.e., so that all good deeds be rewarded, as one would expect,
considering their importance.
6. See 2:2:3.
But being the worldly people that they are, worldly reward
must seem glorious to them! Thus, since no worldly reward could ever match
the true and eternal bliss the soul revels in, in the World to Come, their
not experiencing the World to Come could be seen as an act of mercy since it
would allow them to do without the terrible agitation of realizing just how
very wrong their viewpoint had been all along.
7. Yet see note 4 to 2:2:4.
Rabbi Yaakov Feldman has translated and commented upon "The Gates of Repentance", "The Path of the Just", and "The Duties of the Heart" (Jason
Aronson Publishers). His works are available in bookstores and in various
locations on the Web.