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Vilna Gaon on Yonah: Part 3 - The Neshama’s Descent To Tarshish Via The Port of Yaffo
1:3 But Yonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of Hashem; and he went down to Yaffo, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare thereof, and descended into it, to go with them unto Tarshish, away from the presence of Hashem.
But Yonah rose up to flee - as is written in the Zohar, this refers to fleeing from Hashem. Because of this, when a man repents, he is called a "baal teshuva" (one who returns).
To Tarshish - After the pleasures of this world, to make wealth, as is written in Yechezkel 27: "Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kinds of riches". And also "The ships of Tarshish brought you tribute and you become full and very heavy in the sea." (ibid 27:25), there is all the gold and silver.
From the presence of Hashem - Before a man comes to the world, he stands before Hashem, as is written in the Zohar on the Pasuk "Chai Hashem which I stood before." And likewise, after coming to the next world, if he serves Hashem. But he (Yonah) fled from Him, as is written "and Kain left before Hashem".
And he went down to Yaffo - He went down to this world, as is written in the tree of knowledge, which is similar to this world being "beautiful in appearance…" Likewise every "Yaffo" (literally beauty) refers to the lusts of the body, as is written "Yafe To'ar" (woman beautiful of form).
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