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Pirkei Avot 5:6: The Twilight Zone

Ten things were created at twiight of Shabbat eve. These are: the mouth of the earth [that swallowed Korach]; the mouth of [Miriam's] well; the mouth of [Balaam's] donkey; the rainbow; the manna; [Moses'] staff; the shamir; the writing, the inscription and the tablets [of the Ten Commandments]. Some say also the burial place of Moses and the ram of our father Abraham. And some say also the demons as well as the original tongs, for tongs are made with tongs.

(Pirkei Avot 5:6)

“Ten things were created on the eve of Shabbat during twilight… including the demons." Twilight is a 'nothingness' point between existence and existence, where reality is considered primordial (hiyuli, the same numerical value as ayin, nothingness). Twilight in the dimension of time is like a corner in the dimension of space. In this primordial reality, in the twilight hour between day and night, there lies danger – demons and harmful spirits threaten man – both external harmful spirits and shadows within the soul (shade, the Hebrew word for “demon”).

The Sages say that on the sixth day, the spirits of the demons came out, and then the holy Shabbat began, and their bodies were not created.[1] Chasidic writings[2] describe this with a parable:

The homeowner had a barrel full of fine and good wine. He began to pour it into various vessels until he reached the bottom of the barrel where the dregs were mixed in. If he continued to pour, the dregs would mix and 'blur' all the wine, making it no longer pure and clear as before. Therefore, he took another vessel and poured the remaining wine with the dregs into it. The parable: In the creation of the world, God bestowed abundant goodness upon it. On the sixth day during twilight, He reached the bottom of the barrel, where the dregs and harmful spirits were mixed. Here, He stopped His influence, 'turned off the tap,' and rested from His work. Turning off the tap means that the demons have no body, no substance. If they had substance, they would spoil everything.

A demon is a metaphor for imagination (dimayon) or trauma. Many demons come from sins a person has committed or from experiences that have left scars on his soul. When one attempts to 'deal' with these demons by giving them substance, like the psychological approach of talking about the demons within the soul, and even expressing the demons in the practical world – this is a dangerous attempt that can destroy both the world and the person. This is work that only tzaddikim are capable of accomplishing. The attribute of the intermediate person – the attribute of every person[3] – is to forget about the demons. To divert attention from them and move forward.

Twilight should be filled with good and positive content to prevent any room for demons to enter. The ancient sages said[4] that during twilight it is appropriate to study Torah. By doing so we connect day and night, light and darkness, and drive away the evil shadows.

Image by Mirosław i Joanna Bucholc from Pixabay

[1] Breishit Rabbah 7:5. Zohar III, 178a.

[2]  Biurei Hazohar, the Mittler Rebbe, 94:4 and on.

[3] Tanya ch. 14.

[4] The Shlah on the tractate of Pesachim, the explanation of the Haggadah letter 4 (in the name of the Zohar).

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