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Laughing at Foxes - the End (of Massechet Makkot)

The end of Massechet Makkot, the end of larger single Massechet of old, a 14-chapter Sandhedrin which incorporated Makkot. So much focus on punishment, pain,  death and excision, despite the Messianic outburst of Perek Chelek, that Chazal in the final Mishnah feel it necessary to express the other side: mere lashings can remove the punishment of excision for eternity; if Hashem rewards those who merely abide by their natural abhorrence of ingesting blood, how much more will Hashem reward those who stay their natural urges; Hashem wanted to give us manifold opportunities to gain spiritual merit, THAT’S why He gave us so many mitzvot, not in order to make punishment and failure unavoidable, G-d forbid.
And yet.. the Sages walk in the heart of Hashem’s land, His covenanted people broken and scattered, the city of eternity in ruins… do they hear their own encouragements, do they steer clear of anguish and despair?
For a moment, it seems not: they see a fox emerge from the wreckage of the…
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