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Tzoah Rotachat (Hebrew: צוֹאָה רוֹתֵחַת, tsoah rothachath — "boiling excrement") in the Talmud and Zohar is a location in Gehenna (Gehinnom) where the souls of Jews who committed certain sins are sent for punishment. This form of punishment is cited as being of extreme nature, if not the most extreme, in the sense that those individuals sentenced there are not given relief even on Shabbat, and are not released after the standard twelve-month period.
The Babylonian Talmud lists the cause for a Jew being sent to Tzoah Rotachat as "all who scoff at the words of the wise men (i.e. Chazal) is judged in Tzoah Rotachat". The Talmud Bavli also hints that the punishment has more of a physical implication to it. Rashi writes that he who engages in "excessive scoffing" (the exegesis here involves switching the "ה" of "להג" and replacing it with a "ע", as they both are one of the five guttural sounds) (the former part of the verse) is met with the second part of the same "straining of the flesh", essentially being judged excessively (straining) of his body.
The presence of Jesus the Nazarene in boiling excrement is one of the disputed references to Jesus in the Talmud. Onkelos raises up Yeshu by necromancy, and asks him about his punishment in Gehinnom. Jesus replies that he is in "boiling excrement."
Onkelos the son of Klonimus..desired to convert himself (to Judaism)..he brought Yeshu (forth by means of/in) Séance..(Onkelos queried to Yeshu) whom is of importance in that world? He (Yeshu) answered him; Yisroel (the children of Israel). (Onkelos furthur queried) what/how (do you advise) to cleave to them? He (Yeshu) answered; "their benefit (lit. goodness) seek, their harm (lit. evil) do not seek (as) all/whomever touches them (with intent to harm) is as if (he) is touching the pupil of his (god's) eye". He (Onkelos) said to him (to Yeshu); the judgement of that man is how/what? he (Yeshu) said to him (to Onkelos) "in excrement (that is) boiling". (the Talmud goes on to praise the fact that Yeshu -as a Jew- spoke favorably about his Jewish bretheren, as opposed to Onkelos's preceding dialogue with Titus and Bilaam who both advised Onkelos to provoke the Jews); "come and see (the stark) difference between (even those) sinners of Israel and the prophets of those nations who worship idols" (i.e. even a "sinner of Israel" is of superior spiritual quality than the prophet of idolatry)— Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 57a
Rabbi Yosef Karo
Joseph ben Ephraim Karo of Toledo (1488–1575), in his Kabbalistic work Maggid Meisharim ("Sermonizer on Ethics"), explains that just as in the human digestive order the liver, heart and other organs receive their sustaining nutrients from the ingested foods and whatever is of no need and "unworkable" is excreted to give fertility to works of low value (Sitra Achra "other side"), so too in heavenly judgment this soul is sent to the spiritual level equivalent of excrement and those that derive benefit thereof. As to the concept of boiling Rabbi Yosef relays as to imply during the time of heat and anger of that level (i.e. when the oven is hot), the soul is put there. Rabbi Yosef goes on to compare the idol worship of Peor as giving sustenance to this specific level of Sitra Achra.
Rabbi Yehuda Lowe's explanation
Judah Loew ben Bezalel of Prague (c.1520–1609), in his work Netzach Yisroel ("Eternity of Israel"), provides an in-depth analysis as to this seemingly unconnected sequence of action and punishment. Rabbi Lowe explains, as a rule of thumb, that the logic of Chazal is of an unrelated plane to that of common human intellect. Thus, one who scoffs at it is judged in the opposite of this higher plane, i.e. Tzoah Rotachat, which is considered a matter of irrelation to the relatively superior human body (since it is released as waste) and the antithesis of godly knowledge and presence (as is brought in Talmud Sukka p. 42b that one is obligated to distance himself from the excrement of a child who has the ability of speech since this excrement produces an intense odor comparative to infant who cannot yet speak). Rabbi Lowe concludes that excrement is the polar opposite of refined godly intellect and worship and is thus the natural consequence of the scoffer thereof and of the Jew who chooses idol worship and Shituf.
This defined location is quoted in the Zohar;
There is a place in Gehinom - and levels therein - that are called Tzoah Rotachat. and therein is the filth of souls that are sullied from all filth of this world and (the soul itself) get(s) cleansed and are brought up (but) this filth remains over there. and these evil levels that are called Tzoah Rotachat are in authority of this (leftover) filth. and the fire of gehinnom rules on this filth that is left over, and there are liable individuals that sully themselves with sins on a constant basis and do not undertake to cleanse themselves of them (those sins), and they decease without repentance. and (while alive) they sinned and caused others to sin and they were of a stubborn nature all the while (they were) alive and did not submit before their master in this world. These are judged over there in this filth and in this Tzoah Rotachat that never gets released..on Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh and Yom Tov the fire remains but they are not judged (but, on the other hand) are not released— Zohar vol. 2 p. 150b
- Babylonian Talmud, Eiruvin p. 21b
- Peter Schafer Jesus in the Talmud Page 88 - 2009 "The anonymous “master” alludes to the only parallel from the Bavli which mentions boiling excrement as a punishment"
- Robert E. Van Voorst Jesus outside the New Testament: an introduction to the ancient ... Page 111 2000 "He replied, "To be in boiling semen." He called up Yeshu by necromancy. He said to him, "Who is honored in the next world? ... (upon being queried as to his spiritual location) He replied, "In boiling excrement." As a teacher has said, "Everyone who mocks the words of the wise is ..."
- Marvin W. Meyer, Charles Hughes - Jesus then & now: images of Jesus in history and Christology 2001 Page 255 "He answered: "I boil in semen." Onqelos then raised Jesus of Nazareth. He asked him: "Who is important in this world? ... For the master taught, "Whoever scoffs at the word of the sages is punished (in hell) by boiling in feces. "
- Joseph A Butta Jr, Steven E. Daskal The Jewish People and Jesus: Is It Time for Reconciliation? You Decide Author House 2010 Page 63 "Onkelos then raised the spirit of Jesus who also agreed that Israel was highly esteemed. Onkelos then asked Jesus about his punishment in hell. Jesus answered 'boiled in excrement'. “Anyone who mocks the words of the wise is punished ..."
- Schalom Ben-Chorin Brother Jesus: the Nazarene through Jewish eyes Page 3 2001 "'Onkelos asked Jesus, "And what is his punishment?" Jesus said to him, "Boiling excrement." As a baraitha 1 says, "Whoever mocks the words of the wise is punished with boiling excrement. — Come and see how different are Israel's mockers ..."
- "that man" is a talmudic expression when one queries another about an unfavored disposition and does not wish to be blunt with the question
- Joseph ben Ephraim Karo Maggid Meisharim (at 19% into electronic text volume)
- Judah Loew ben Bezalel Netzach Yisroel (at 14% into electronic text volume)