“GATE OF REINCARNATIONS”

from the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria

translated by Yitzchak Bar Chaim

edited by Shabtai Teicher

 Chapter One [1], Section One: The Five Names of the Soul

We will begin with what the rabbis [2] wrote that the Nefesh has five names.

A reference to the five levels of soul.

From the bottom up they are Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya, and Yechida.

Translated, [3] they are:

Yechida Singular
Chaya Life (Force)
Neshama Breath
Ruach Wind
Nefesh (that which has come to) Rest

Each of these levels represents a different level of light that originated from Ein Sof, the Infinite light emanating out from G-d. On the level of Yechida, the light is still very sublime and unified; on the level of Chaya, it is less so, but it is considered to be the life force of all that comes after it. “Neshama” is derived from the word “neshima,” which means breath, because this level of soul is said to be like a breath in the mouth of G-d, so-to-speak. Ruach is the soul-light as it leaves the stage of Neshama, like a breath blown out of the mouth of a person. The soul-light comes to rest on the level called Nefesh, which is in the blood of a physical human being, and therefore it acts as an interface between the spiritual and the physical.

 

Certainly, these names have not been ascribed by chance or convenience. Rather, know that the person himself is the spiritual element within the body, while the body is only a garment for the person—not the person himself. This is what is written, “On the flesh of man do not anoint…” (Ex. 30:32), as is noted in ari, Parashat Bereishit, 20b.

 

In other words, “flesh of man” implies that the flesh belongs to man, but it is not the man himself. “Flesh of man” is only the body and exterior garment; it is not the real man. It is, therefore, not worthy to be anointed.

 

Since man connects all four worlds of ABY”A…..

 

The Four Worlds and the Parts of the Soul

 

    Corresponding to:
Atzilut Emanation Chaya
Beriya Creation Neshama
Yetzira Formation Ruach
Asiya Action Nefesh

 

A very important concept is implied by our text here. Even though a person’s physical body is miniscule compared to the physical world, his spiritual soul spans all five spiritual worlds that emanate from Ein Sof.  Since there is a direct and automatic correlation between the levels of soul and the levels of worlds, man’s actions, besides having a direct impact on his soul, have a direct impact on the corresponding spiritual worlds. When a person performs righteous deeds, it unifies the levels of his soul,[4] and hence, the four worlds as well; the opposite is true if a person sins.

 

Since man connects all four worlds of ABY”A…..

 

….. by necessity, there has to exist within him sections from all four worlds, and each section is called by one of the five names: NRNCh”Y (Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya, and Yechida), as we will explain.

 

Why did the original use ‘Introductions’ and not ‘chapters’?
“The way of wisdom is to acquire knowledge, one piece after another, until the entire subject fits together clearly into one whole. For this realization at the end, all these introductions were needed first.” (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzatto, Da’at Tevunot, #30, Rabbi Friedlander edition)

 

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[Publisher’s note: An integral part of Kabbala study is to review the material a number of times.]

 


[1] In the original Hebrew text, each chapter is called “hakdama,” which means “introduction.” However, we shall refer to them as “chapters,” since that is what most English readers are accustomed to. Also, for purposes of this series, we will divide each chapter into a number of sections.

 

[2] Brachot 10b; Bereishit Rabba 14:9; Tikunei ari 13, 28.

 

[3] It should be noted that even here in “Shaar Hagilgulim” the Arizal does not explain the meaning of the five levels of the soul. He merely states that the names are not accidental or incidental.

 

[4] The Glassblower Analogy: In the Zohar 3:25a we find that “the Nefesh is bound to the Ruach, the Ruach to the Neshamah, and the Neshamah to the Blessed Holy One.” The three thus form a sort of chain, linking man to G-d. The idea of these three parts is best explained on the basis of the verse (Genesis 2:7), “G-d formed man out of the dust of the earth, and He blew into his nostrils a breath of life.” This is likened to the process of blowing glass, which begins with the breath (neshimah) of the glassblower, flows as a wind (Ruach) through the glassblowing pipe, and finally comes to rest (Nefesh) in the vessel that is being formed. The Neshamah thus comes from the same root as Neshimah, meaning breath, and this is the “breath of G-d.” The Nefesh comes from a root meaning “to rest” and therefore refers to the part of the soul that is bound to the body and “rests” there. Ruach means a wind, and it is the part of the soul that binds the Neshamah and Nefesh. See Nefesh ha-Chaim 1:16….. From “The Way of G-d” (Feldheim), a translation by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan of “Derech Hashem” by Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzatto, Part 3, footnote 6.

 

He does not acquire all of them [all five levels of soul] at one time, but rather according to his worthiness. At first, he obtains the lowest of them, which is called “Nefesh.” Afterwards , if he so merits, he then also attains “Ruach.” This is explained in several places in the Zohar, such as in Parashat Veyechi, and Parashat Teruma, and specifically at the beginning of Parashat Mishpatim (94b): “Come and see: When a person is born, he is given a Nefesh…..”

Although a person begins life with only a Nefesh, he has the potential to ascend to higher levels of soul, according to his merit (as elucidated below).

..…All Nefashot are only from the World of Asiya; all Ruchot are from the World of Yetzira; and, all Neshamot are from the World of Beriya. However, the majority of people do not have all five parts, which are called NR”N, etc., but only the Nefesh from Asiya.

We have seen at the end of the previous section that the abbreviation for all five levels of the soul is NRNChY. Since the uppermost levels of Chaya and Yechida are inaccessible now, they are often ignored, and the short-form is even more abbreviated to NRN. Late in history and distant from Mt. Sinai as we are, most people only have access to the Nefesh level of their soul, which is why it is so difficult to relate to God and spirituality.

However, even this nefesh has many levels, and this is because Asiya itself also divides into five Partzufim, called: Arich Anpin, Abba, Imma, Zer Anpin, and Nukveh de’Zer Anpin.

The word “partzuf (plural: “partzufim“) literally means “face”. In the Kabbala it also refers to the entire human shape.

In general, there are ten sefirot: keter, chochma, bina, chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, hod, yesod, and malchut. However, each one is a localized version of the entire system. In other words, it is possible to discern within each one of them ten component sefirot, and within each one of those ten others, etc. (This may be likened to a photograph taken with a hologram, where any detail may be blown up to reveal all the basic information that is contained in the whole photograph. All the basic information of the whole is contained in the detail; and the detail contains all the basic information found in the whole.)

When we see a number of sefirot joined together, working together and functioning together as a system, then they are called a partzuf.

Each partzuf has a unique name, and these correspond to the names of the sefirot, the names of the soul and the names of the worlds, as discussed previously (Chapter One, Section One).

YechidahSingular   KeterCrown Arich AnpinThe long face
ChayaLife force AtzilutEmanation ChochmaWisdom AbbaFather
NeshamaBreath BeriyaCreation BinaUnderstanding ImmaMother
RuachWind YetziraFormation ChesedYesod(details)[1] Zeir AnpinThe short (or, near) face
NefeshRested Asiyaaction Malchutkingdom Nukva de’Zer AnpinThe feminine consort of Zeir Anpin (the short or near face)

It should be noted that the sefirot according to the names of the partzufim resemble a family tree of three generations: grandfather, parents, child and his bride.

Before a person can merit to attain his Ruach from the world of Yetzira, he must first be complete in all of the five partzufim of the Nefesh of Asiya.

In other words, though a person begins life with a Nefesh, it too has higher levels that must be attained through spiritual growth and rectification. When all the levels of Nefesh are rectified, then a person is ready to ascend to a higher spiritual level, that of the level of Ruach. He then repeats the process of growth on this higher spiritual plane.

That is, he must first master the Nefesh of his Nefesh, then the Ruach of his Nefesh, the Neshama of his Nefesh, and so on. Once he has acquired the Yechida of his Nefesh, then the entire level of Nefesh is said to be “his,” and, he is ready to work on acquiring the levels of Ruach.

 


[1]

    Chesed    love

    Gevurah   power, strength

    Tiferet      harmony, beauty

    Netzach   victory, eternity

    Hod         glory, majesty

    Yesod      foundation

 

Even though, as is known, there are people whose Nefesh is from Malchut of Asiya, and others who are from Yesod of Asiya, still, every person must rectify the entire spectrum of Asiya. Only then can a person receive his Ruach from Yetzira, since Yetzira is greater than all of Asiya.

Not all souls are rooted in the same level. However, in spite of the level of the root of one’s soul, a person is still responsible to rectify all strata within the level of world that to which he is attached. This includes those levels within the same world but below his root as well as those above it. No individual can begin to rectify the next level of soul applicable to the next world until he has rectified all the lower levels of the world in which he is rooted. Thus, he can initiate work on Ruach from Yetzira only after his Nefesh from Asiya is completely rectified.

Similarly, in order to attain his Neshama from Beria, a person needs to rectify every part of his Ruach in all of Yetzira, after which he can then receive his Neshama from Beria.

It is insufficient for him to rectify only the particular place in which his soul-root is grounded.

That is, the level in which his Nefesh is rooted.

Rather, he must rectify [all parts of each level as] we have mentioned, until he is fit [to receive the Nefesh of] all of Asiya, and then he can attain his Ruach of Yetzira. It is this way with all the worlds.

The import of this [above mentioned rectification–tikun] is that one must be involved with [the study of] Torah and [the performance of] mitzvot that correspond to all of Asiya–not just those which correspond to the specific place to which his Nefesh is attached.

The 613 mitzvot correspond to the various limbs and tendons that make up a human being whose shape represents the structure of the  sefirot in the spiritual realm, in the sense that partzuf refers to the entire human form, each partzuf consists of 613 limbs and tendons. Thus, the performance of specific mitzvot brings rectification to the corresponding parts of the human body and to the corresponding section of the partzufim and sefirot.

The Talmud has already taught that there are mitzvot that have special significance for specific people. That is to say, one mitzva is important for a particular person, and another mitzva is significant for a second person. Nevertheless, in order to advance spiritually each individual must perform all the mitzvot that he can, and not content himself with the performance of only those mitzvot that are significant to him.

This [above mentioned rectification] is [thus also applicable] in the realm of “upholding Torah and mitzvot.

 

(The relationship of tikun-rectification to positive and negative mitzvot, and what parts of each world must be rectified by a particular person in order that he may advance to the next level of soul.)

[Part of the last paragraph of the previous section has been repeated and the paragraphs of this section numbered in order to facilitate explanation of this section.]

Not all souls are rooted in the same level. However, in spite of the level of the root of one’s soul, a person is still responsible to rectify all strata within the level of world that to which he is attached. This includes those levels within the same world but below his root as well as those above it. No individual can begin to rectify the next level of soul applicable to the next world until he has rectified all the lower levels of the world in which he is rooted. Thus, he can initiate work on Ruach from Yetzira only after his Nefesh from Asiya is completely rectified.

(1) It is not sufficient to only rectify the particular spot to which his soul is connected. Rather, he must rectify (all aspects of each level as) we have mentioned, until he merits all of Asiya, at which time he can achieve his Ruach of Yetzira. It is this way with all the worlds.

(2) This means that one must be involved with (the study of Torah) and (the doing of Her) mitzvot…. Likewise, if a person sins and blemishes a particular spot in Asiya, even though it is not the place to which his Nefesh is attached, he must rectify it.

Even though a person’s Nefesh comes from a specific place in the world of Asiya, he is still responsible to acquire every level of Asiya—the Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya, and Yechida of Asiya – as we learned at the end of the previous section. Likewise, if he commits a sin that affects a part of Asiya to which his soul is not particularly connected, he is responsible to rectify the blemish, since he is expected to acquire that level as well on his way to attaining Ruach of Yetzira.

(3) However, if another Nefesh failed to perform a specific mitzva from the world of Asiya, or sinned and blemished [something in the world of Asiya], this does not obligate him to rectify the missing mitzva or the blemish caused by the sin of the other [Nefesh]. If they are both from the same place, [however], then this is not the case, as we will explain later on, with G-d’s help.

Though this will be explained in a later chapter, it can be said here briefly that there are times when more than one soul occupies a single body. If the souls originate from the same root, then they share a common responsibility and need for tikun. However, if they do not come from the same root, then the deficiency or sin of one Nefesh does not necessitate the other to be part of the rectification process.

(4) Alternatively, it is possible that the concept of tikun-rectification applies only to blemishes resulting from sin, and not from the [lack of] performance of any of the 248 positive commandments.

Thus, rectification is only necessary in the case of a sin, and not for positive commands that were not performed, as first proposed.

(5) Or, the following is possible, and it is the correct [interpretation]. Let us say that a soul is from the Malchut of the Nukveh of Asiya, called the Nefesh of Asiya….

If you take the tenth sefira called Malchut, and subdivide it into ten sefirot it becomes a partzuf called Asiya. The tenth sefira of this sub-set of ten sefirot is also called Malchut, and more specifically, the Malchut of Asiya. If this Malchut is, in turn, subdivided into its own set of ten sefirot, its tenth sefira will be the Malchut of the Malchut of the Asiya, or, the Malchut of the Nukveh of Asiya. Thus, the soul in question would be a level within the sub-set of the sub-set of the tenth sefira Malchut within the general structure of ten sefirot.

He will have to rectify all of the malchuyot (plural of malchut): of Ruach, and Neshama, and Chaya, and Yechida of Asiya.

A person has to rectify his five roots in the five partzufim of Asiya, but he does not have to rectify the sections that are not connected to the root of his soul. Since his root is specifically in Malchut, it is relevant to the Malchut on all levels in each partzuf.

Someone who only rectifies the Malchut of Asiya only acquires the Nefesh of the Nefesh that is within Asiya.

If the root of his soul is in Malchut, then he has to rectify the malchut of the Malchut of Asiya in order to acquire Nefesh of Nefesh.

A person who also rectifies the Zer Anpin of Asiya acquires both the Nefesh and Ruach from Asiya.

Since his soul is from the Malchut, then he must rectify the Malchut of the Zer Anpin of Asiya in order to acquire the Ruach of Asiya as well as the Nefesh.

If he also rectifies the Imma of Asiya then he attains the Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama from Asiya. It is the same until he rectifies all five partzufim of Asiya, in which case he will have acquired all the NRNChY .

This is discussed again in Chapter 11.

It will be worthwhile to review some of what has been taught until now, and specifically in relation to the information presented in this section. The text of this section contains two distinct ambiguities, separated by a parenthetical statement (not uncommon in the writings of the Arizal).

The parenthetical statement is what we have numbered paragraph (3). It has already been explained that this refers to a situation where more than one soul occupies the same body, and it will be explained later on.

The two uncertainties contained in the text are purposely left unsettled.

The first uncertainty emerges from contrasting paragraphs 2 and 4. It concerns the concept of tikun-rectification, whether it applies to both blemishes caused by transgression of negative commandments and incompleteness in the performance of positive commandments, or to transgression of negative commandments alone.

The second uncertainty emerges from contrasting paragraphs 1 and 5. It concerns the need to rectify all the aspects of each world before one can advance to the next level of soul. (This is the case whatever the definition of tikun–rectification discussed in the previous uncertainty is.) The question now concerns how we should count “all the aspects” that need to be rectified. Are they 5 of 5, or 5 of 25 (the NRNChY of his soul root alone)? This will now be explained.

The NRNChY of his soul root

We have already learned that the five levels of soul correspond to external worlds.

Since man unifies all four worlds of ABY”A, by necessity there has to exist within him sections from all four worlds, and each section is called by one of the five names: NRNCh”Y (Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya, and Yechida), as we will explain….

The first level, Nefesh, comes from the world of Asiya; the second level ruach, from the world of Yetzira, etc.

All Nefashot are from the world of Asiya only, all Ruchot are from the world of Yetzira, and, all Neshamot are from the world of Beria….

We have also learned that each world has five parts or five partzufim.

However, even this Nefesh [from the world of Asiya] has many levels, and this is because Asiya itself also divides into five Partzufim….

Hence, for a person to merit his Ruach from the world of Yetzira, he must first have achieved completion of the five partzufim of the Nefesh of Asiya.

Now we will learn that each of these partzufim can also be further detailed into five partzufim. Thus, the world of Asiya will contain 25 parts, or cells. All the other worlds above – Yetzira, Beria, etc. – will also contain 25 cells each.

The way of depicting the 25 cells that comprise the Nefesh that is derived from the world of Asiya is shown in the following diagram that is entitled “The NRNChY of NRNChY”. However, let us first recall that the names of the souls, the sefirot and the partzufim are interchangeable.

5 KETER ARICH ANPIN YECHIDA
4 CHOCHMAH ABBA CHAYA
3 BINA IMMA NESHAMA
2 THE SIX ZER ANPIN RUACH
1 MALCHUT NUKVAH DE’ ZER ANPIN NEFESH

Numbers have been added to this list of correspondences to simplify the following diagram where the numbers 1 – 5 represent any of the corresponding terms shown above.

The diagram that follows will deal only with the Nefesh that is derived from the world of Asiya. In this respect it follows our text. Now, let us review the text using the diagram as an explanatory aid.

(1) It is not sufficient to only rectify the particular spot to which his soul is rooted. Rather, he must rectify [all aspects of each level as] we have mentioned, until he merits all of Asiya, at which time he can achieve his Ruach of Yetzira. It is this way with all the worlds….

(5) Or, the following is possible, and it is the correct [interpretation]. Let us say that he is from the Malchut of the Nukveh of Asiya, called the Nefesh of Asiya.

Diagram of the NRNChY of NRNChY:

  COLUMN #1 COLUMN #2 COLUMN #3 COLUMN #4 COLUMN #5
Row # 5 O        
Row # 4 O        
Row # 3 O        
Row # 2 O        
Row # 1 X        
ASIYA

In our diagram the Nukva of Asiya is indicated by the bottom row of Asiya, Row #1.

The Malchut of the Nukva of Asiya is one-fifth (so to speak) of the partzuf Nukva of Asiya, indicated in the diagram by the convergence of Row #1 with Column #1 (marked with an “X”).

The text provides an example where the soul-root is Malchut of Nukva of Asiya, the place marked X. That place is all that he is required to rectify on Row #1. The text further implies that it has already been rectified. Now it goes on:

He will need to rectify all the Malchuyot (plural of Malchut): that of Ruach, and Neshama, and Chaya, and Yechida of Asiya.

These are indicated in the diagram with the mark “0”. In this way he will have rectified one column in our diagram – i.e., the NRNChY of Nefesh of the Nefesh from the world of Asiya.

Someone…

whose soul-root is from Malchut of Asiya

who rectifies only the Malchut  of  Asiya…

only the first row of the first column – he…

only acquires the Nefesh from the Nefesh that is within Asiya.

Someone…

The same one, whose soul-root is Malchut of Asiya

who also rectifies Zeir Anpin of Asiya

i.e., the second row of the first column in our diagram – he…

…acquires both the Nefesh and Ruach from Asiya. Someone who also rectifies Imma of Asiya…

the third row of the first column…

…will have acquired the Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama from Asiya. It is the same until he rectifies all five partzufim of Asiya, in which case he will have acquired all the NRNChY.

At that time he will have completed the general level of Nefesh from Asiya, and it will be possible to advance to the level of Ruach from Yetzira.

In the first possibility of this uncertainty, each level of NRNChY was detailed into five aspects corresponding to the five partzufim of each world. Someone whose soul-root is in Asiya, for example, has to rectify all five aspects of Asiya. In the new idea presented here, in the second possibility of the question, each of the five partzufim of a world is further detailed into five. Thus, there are 25 “cells” in Asiya. Nevertheless, each person rectifies only five corresponding to the 5 levels of NRNChY of his soul root in Asiya.

Similarly, [this process of spiritual growth continues] in this way, until the person has thus rectified all five partzufim of Asiya, giving him NRNCh”Y, which is called a whole Nefesh of Asiya.Each aspect of the five levels is complete in its three sections, Ibur, Yenika, and Mochin, alluded to in the verse, “His mother would make him a small robe, etc.” (I Samuel 2:19).

Literally, these words mean: ’embryo’, ‘suckling’, and ‘brains’. The first term refers to a stage where the sefirot netzach, hod and yesod are “pulled up” on top of chesed, gevura and tiferet, and in this posture of “three within three” they are curled up within the womb of bina. In this way she provides a direct transference of light to them, as a mother does to a fetus when the fetus is inside her womb.

The second term refers to the stage when these sefirot have since left the womb of bina-Imma, but like a new-born child they still require direct “nourishment” (of light) from their “mother,” i.e. bina. This stage corresponds to the sefirot of chesed, gevura and tiferet because the size of the partzuf is now equal to all six sefirot from yesod to chesed.

The last term, mochin-brains, is another way of referring to the sefirot of chochma, bina, and daat, which function as the “brains” of a partzuf. This stage is also called “adulthood” or “maturity”, and the size of the partzuf is correspondingly enlarged. The partzuf has now grown to its full size of ten sefirot; it is now complete and whole (see I-Y-M chart below).

All partzufim develop towards completion through these three stages; and we are being taught here that all the levels attained in the growth of the soul also go through the same three-stage process of spiritual development.

Then he merits the Ruach, which comes from Yetzira. On this level there are also five parts, and they make up the complete Ruach of Yetzira. It is the same with respect to Neshama from Beria, Chaya [from the world of Atzilut], and Yechida [which corresponds to the level called “Adam Kadmon” – “First Man”. However, this is not the place to elucidate.

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 Ibur, Yenika And Mochin

These words mean: Mochin – brains; Yenika – nursing; Ibur – embryo

All partzufim go through these three stages from embryo, through the nursing stage of infancy, to the stage of adulthood. These stages parallel the developmental stages in humans. In the last stage, when a child grows and matures and becomes an adult, it is said that he has developed “a mind of his own.” Hence, the Arizal calls this stage “mochin“, which means brains or mind.

The following chart will help to illustrate the relationships between the stages.

TABLE OF I-YaM (Ibur, Yenika, Mochin)

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

Names of the Brains

(6)

CHaBaD

Chochma         Bina

Daat

Mochin Brains GADLUT-Maturity, Adulthood, Big Permutations of  Tetragrammaton

INTERNAL

CHaGaT

Chesed        Gevura

Tiferet

Yenika Nursing KATNUT- Immaturity, Infancy, Smallness Permutations of Elohim

MIDDLE

NaHiY

Netzach           Hod

Yesod

Ibur Embryo

EXTERNAL

        Because this chart depicts stages of development, we shall read it from the bottom to the top. Column 3 describes the basic subject of this teaching, I-YaM: Ibur-Embryo, Yenika-Nursing, Mochin-Brains/Mind.

        The first stage in development, Ibur-Embryo, corresponds to the lowest three sefirot, Netzach, Hod and Yesod (column 2), whose acronym is Nahiy (column 1).

        The second stage corresponds to Chesed, Gevura and Tiferet, whose acronym is Chagat.

        The third stage corresponds to Chochma, Bina and Daat, whose acronym is Chabad.

        On a scale going from “potential…” to “actual” the embryonic stage is the closest to “potential”. In this stage the partzuf is not even visible (barely existent) since it is hidden within the womb of Imma-Mother. Even within that place it is only six sefirot, and its height is only one row of sefirot because Nahiy is curled up on top of Chagat. Furthermore, like an embryo within its mother’s womb it cannot even be called an independent partzuf.

        In the second stage, yenika-nursing, the partzuf has left the mother’s womb, but it is still dependent upon mother. This stage is still the katnut-infancy (lit. “smallness”) of the partzuf. It is still only six sefirot, but it is larger than it was beforehand. Its height is now two rows of sefirot because it has uncurled, and all six sefirot are completely visible. Therefore, it corresponds now to Chagat.

        In the third stage the height of the partzuf is three rows of sefirot because the row of Chochma, Bina and Daat has been added to it. These are the mochin-brains/mind that it has received from above. Therefore, this stage is called mochin. Its complement has been completed to ten sefirot. It is now completely independent, corresponding to the stage of Gadlut-Maturity/Adulthood. In this stage the partzuf has been actualized.

*  *  *

        We will now explain, with the help of G-d, columns 5 and 6.

        According to the Kabbala all things are composed of two aspects that are called “the light” and “the vessel”. The classic example of these two terms is the body (vessel) and the soul (light, or essence).

        Also, all things are made from combinations of the letters of the holy Torah. These letters are not only the spiritual genetic code of the thing, but they also give rise to the substance of the thing. In the kabbala of the Arizal the vessels and essences are depicted by combinations and permutations of the letters of the holy names of G-d.

        When a child is an embryo or a nursling it also has a brain, although its brain is in a very early and primitive stage of development and it is definitely not comparable to the fully developed brain of adulthood. Thus, in the stage of katnut-infancy the names of the brains are combinations and permutations of the name Elohim. In the stage of gadlut-adulthood the names of the real brains are combinations and permutations of the four-letter Tetragrammaton.

        Column 6 shows an alternative nomenclature used often for these three stages – external, middle and internal. This is consistent with the rule that all patzufim, or parts of partzufim that are higher than another one are more internal than that other one; and all partzufim or parts of partzufim that are external to another one are lower than that other one.

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Shabtai Teicher was born in Brooklyn in 1946 and settled in Jerusalem in 1970. He studied for over 7 years with one of the outstanding and renowned kabbalists of our generation, Rabbi Mordechai Attieh. He has also studied deeply in various other fields of Jewish scholarship. He is a specialist in Lurianic Kabbalah, and he is also working on a book on the Ba’al Shem Tov’s system of prayer.

 


 
 

 

 

 

  

 

 

It is important to explain a difference between the nefesh of Asiya, and the rest of the divisions, Yetzira, Beria, and Atzilut. This will also help us to answer a difficult question: How can a person, whose root is in malchut of Asiya, be able to ascend to keter of Asiya? Since every Jew must reincarnate until all the aspects of NRNCh’Y are completed, then by necessity every Jew will ascend to the keter of Asiya, [then eventually] to keter of Yetzira, and [then finally] to keter of Beria. [That being the case, then] all the other [lower] levels would [eventually] become nullified!

Since all Jews, after all their gilgulim, would eventually reach the highest level, no one would be different and no one would remain on any of the lower levels. However, that can never be the case!

However, this is unimaginable. Obviously, there are Jews who are on the level of malchut, and others from yesod, etc., as mentioned at the beginning of Sefer HaTikunim: “There are ‘leaders of thousands of Israel’ from the side of keter, ‘wise men’ from the side of chochma, and ‘men of understanding’ from the side of bina….”

Clearly the Jewish nation is composed of many types of individuals with different abilities and strengths, which are determined by their soul-roots.

However, the explanation is based upon the difference between Asiya and all the other three worlds.

For, someone whose root is in the malchut of Asiya is obviously rooted there specifically. Yet, by rectifying his actions he can purify his nefesh, level after level, until it actually reaches and becomes part of the keter of Asiya.

Nevertheless, though it ascends to the keter of Asiya, even there it remains on the level of the malchut of the keter of Asiya, since its root is on the level of malchut specifically.

His soul-root level of malchut of Asiya remains, though it ascends as a result of his spiritual improvements. Because of its root in malchut, when it ascends to the keter of Asiya it becomes the malchut of that level.

However, he must be purified until he actually ascends to the keter of Asiya, even though it will only be called the level of malchut of keter of Asiya. This is true regarding any of the levels of Asiya [to which he may ascend]: he will only be considered the malchut of that level.

For example, if he reaches the yesod of Asiya, he will only be considered the malchut of the yesod of Asiya, etc.

However, concerning Yetzira, Beria, and Atzilut, it [the process] is different. A person whose soul-root is malchut of Yetzira who has rectified and completed that level, also receives a ruach from the yesod of Yetzira after he has also purified and rectified the yesod of yetzira.

As opposed to simply becoming the Malchut of the yesod of Yetzira, as was the case on the level of Asiya.

The first ruach that he had from the Malchut of Yetzira remains below [in its original place] in the Malchut of Yetzira, since that is where it belongs.

Unlike the levels in Asiya which actually ascend from level to level.

Likewise, when he completes the hod of Yetzira, he leaves the second ruach that he had from yesod in yesod of Yetzira, and instead he receives a ruach from the hod of Yetzira. And this is the way it continues up to the keter of Yetzira.

Since he has rectified all the levels of his nefesh from Asiya, he is able to receive ruach from all levels of Yetzira. It will be likewise with respect to the Neshama from Beria.

The reason for this difference is that Asiya is the lowest of all worlds, and is, therefore, encompassed by the kelipot.

This word means “encasements,” like the peel of a fruit, or the shell of a nut. It refers to the extreme opposite of spiritual purity and holiness, and is therefore the element within creation that makes possible spiritual impurity and sinful action. Sometimes the kelipot are called “Chitzoniyot,” which means “Externalities.” Being the least spiritually pure element in creation it is the furthest from light, and therefore at the bottom of all the worlds.

Consequently, even though a person has already rectified the root level of his nefesh in Asiya, still, if he leaves it on that level, there is a fear that the kelipot there will latch on to it.

Since evil has no independent existence of its own, it derives spiritual nourishment and strength from the side of holiness, but for its own evil purpose. The closer something holy is to the kelipot, the more vulnerable it is, and the more desirable it appears to the kelipot as a  source of nourishment.

Therefore, he must constantly refine his actions until he rises as high as he can, until he reaches his root in the keter of Asiya.

However, in the World of Yetzira, and how much more so in the worlds above it, there is no fear of the kelipot latching on, as there was in Asiya.

The ability of the kelipot to latch on is eliminated on this more sublime level.

Hence, when a person rectifies the root of his ruach in Yetzira, he can rectify another ruach from a higher level. Then the first ruach can remain in its place, in his root. He can acquire a second from a higher place without having to raise up the first ruach to a higher place because the fear (of the kelipot latching on) is not there (in the world of Yetzira).

 

The following is the esoteric meaning of the verse, “G-d spares [yisa] no one [nefesh]; He considers thoughts so that no one be banished from him” [II Samuel 14:14]. These considerations – that no one be banished – are only for the sake of the nefesh, since the nefesh is in Asiya, and thus, because of the kelipot there, in danger of being “banished from him.”

The “banished one” refers to King David’s son, Absalom, who had fled from his father after having his half-brother, Amnon, killed in revenge for violating Absalom’s sister, Tamar. The verse is addressed to King David, asking him to allow Absalom to return home. However, the sod—the esoteric understanding—of the verse is that it is talking about the nefesh of a person, asking G-d that it not be “banished” amongst the kelipot which can latch on to it.

Therefore, because of this concern the remedy for the nefesh is that “G-d does spare—yisa—the nefesh.”

The word employed by the verse—yisa—is translated as “spare,” but the more literal translation is “lift up,” which leads to the following esoteric explanation of the verse:

In other words, G-d does not “lift up” [noseh] and raise a person in order to give him another nefesh from a higher level than that of his actual root. That would necessitate leaving behind the first one in its place, leaving it vulnerable to the kelipot there.

In other words, as the person moved to a higher level of nefesh, the lower level of nefesh that was left behind would no longer be in use, which would render it vulnerable to the kelipot.

Accordingly, He [G-d] does not give him another nefesh, more elevated and exalted. Rather the original nefesh itself ascends upward according to the person’s actions, up until the level of the keter of Asiya. He never possesses any other nefesh. [1]

However, this is not the case in Yetzira and the other worlds, where his ruach or his neshama, etc., remains on the level of its root. Instead, the person earns an additional, higher, ruach commensurate with the perfection of his deeds, as discussed earlier.

Beyond the World of Asiya the holiness is such that the kelipot can no longer latch on to a vacated soul-level. Therefore, the soul-level from which a person is ascending need not ascend with the person as he goes up from level to level.

This is the esoteric meaning of the well-known statement: Every person can be like our teacher Moses [i.e.,] if he is willing to perfect his actions. For [by doing so] he continues to acquire higher levels of ruach until [he finally attains] the uppermost level of Yetzira. Similarly, [this advancement continues, and a person can ultimately obtain] a neshama from the uppermost part of Beria, etc.

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[1] This distinction will also make a difference in the level of spirituality that a person can actually achieve. For example, a person whose root is on the level of the malchut of Asiya cannot relate to the same spiritual level as one whose root is on the level of the keter of Asiya, even if the first one can ascend to the level of keter.

 

According to this, you can also understand another well known concept of our rabbis: ruchot or neshamot of the righteous are infused into a person, in accord with the esoteric principle called “ibur,” to assist a person in his service of G-d.

The concept of ibur here is not the same concept that was mentioned earlier in Section Five, although the nomenclature is the same. Literally, ibur refers to the embryo during the state of pregnancy. In this case, it refers to the “impregnation” of a person with the soul of a tzadik, which descends into the soul of a living person to assist the latter in his spiritual devotions.

As is written in Midrash Ne’elam, [still] in handwritten manuscript [form], concerning the statement that “Someone who comes to purify himself, they help him.”

The Midrash Ne’elam is one of the books included in the holy Zohar. The Talmud (Shabbat 104a) informs us that someone who comes to purify himself is assisted from On High. The Midrash Ne’elam now explains this statement according to Rebbe Nathan.

Rebbe Nathan said: The souls of the righteous come and help him.

This is the type of heavenly assistance that may be granted. The soul of a tzadik will descend and become impregnated within the soul of a person who sets out to purify himself. [It is, also, a form of Divine inspiration – Ed.] Similar sources are found elsewhere in the holy writings.

The same is found in the Introduction to the Zohar, on Genesis, where Rav Hamnuna Sabba came to Rebbe Elazar and Rebbe Abba in the appearance of a donkey loader, etc.

That is, the soul of Rav Hamnuna Sabba appeared to Rebbe Elazar and Rebbe Abba in the form of simple workman who transports merchandise on a donkey, in order to reveal to them secrets of the Zohar.

Undoubtedly, the ruchot and neshamot of tzadikim are “hidden away” and “bound up” with the “Bundle of Life”, each in his respective root, and G-d does not cause them to descend at all. However, what descends are the ruchot that remained behind at each level of Yetzira, and which did not ascend, as we have spoken about.

As the righteous person ascended from level to level in the World of Yetzira, he left behind previous levels of ruach as he received new ones in their place. The levels of ruach that were no longer used became available to descend to help others in need of Divine assistance in their service of G-d.

It is these that descend and enter other people to help them. However, the highest level of ruach that the righteous person acquired as a result of his deeds is bound up forever with the “Bundle of Life” [after he dies], and it does not move from there. This is true concerning the [levels of] neshama, chaya, and yechida as well.

When each level of Asiya was completed, the perfected level of nefesh (from Asiya) itself ascended to the next level (i.e., to the same aspect of the soul-root on the next level). In this way all the completed levels of Asiya ascend to the highest place in Asiya, the keter of Asiya (albeit, in accord with the aspect of the original soul-root).

In the higher worlds of Yetzira, Beria, etc., the situation is different. There, each completed level of soul remains in its place.

The reason for this difference was also explained. Asiya is the lowest of the worlds. Consequently, it is in proximity to the kelipot, and in constant danger of attack by them. Therefore, each completed level of soul ascends to a higher level in order to distance it as much as possible from the kelipot. In the higher worlds, however, there is no such danger. Therefore, each completed level of soul may remain in its place.

Based on this difference between Asiya and the higher worlds, we digressed in this section to learn something about the concept of ibur. Since there was an ascent from level to level in the world of Yetzira, the lower levels of soul that were completed there and remained in place, are now available to descend to impregnate the souls of other people. This infusion, or ibur, takes place in order to assist these people in their divine service.

The text now returns to discuss another difference between Asiya and the higher worlds of Yetzira, Beria, etc.

 

There is a second reason for the difference between Asiya and the other worlds. As known, all the worlds have ten sefirot [collectively]. Now Asiya, in its entirety, has only one sefira [of the collective ten], the sefira of malchut.

In the system of ten general sefirot, the World of Asiya corresponds to the sefira of malchut, whereas the World of Yetzira corresponds to six different and separate sefirot: chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, hod, and yesod. Thus, the World of Asiya is one homogeneous sefira, whereas Yetzira is a composite of six different sefirot.

Thus, the nefesh that is there is able to rise as high as the keter of Asiya, because it is all one sefira.

In other words, even though Asiya has many levels, they are levels of one sefira, and therefore connected to each other, which allows movement amongst them.

However, Yetzira corresponds to six sefirot: chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, hod, and yesod, each of which is a separate level. Therefore, if someone’s root is the malchut of Yetzira and it becomes rectified, it cannot ascend and become part of the yesod of Yetzira. It must remain below and he will have to acquire a new ruach from the yesod of Yetzira if he wants to become elevated through his actions. This is true of the rest of the “Six Extremities” as well.

In Hebrew, the term is “Sheish Kitzvot,” the six extremities, another name for the six sefirot of Yetzira.

The five partzufim in every world — Arich Anpin, Abba, Imma, Zeir Anpin, and Nukva—correspond to the five levels of a person’s soul, which are from the bottom to the top: nefesh, ruach, neshama, chaya, and yechida.

Nefesh is from the Nukva [Malchut] of Zeir Anpin, whereas ruach is from Zeir Anpin itself.

That is, the six sefirot: chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, hod, and yesod.

Neshama is from Imma [Bina], and chaya is from Abba, which is called chochma because that is the place of life, as it has been taught concerning the verse, “Wisdom gives life to its owner” [Eccles. 7:12].

Yechida is from Arich Anpin, called keter, because it is alone and special…..

As the righteous person ascended from level to level in the World of Yetzira, he left behind previous levels of ruach as he received new ones in their place. The levels of ruach that were no longer used became available to descend to help others in need of Divine assistance in their service of G-d.

It is these that descend and enter other people to help them. However, the highest level of ruach that the righteous person acquired as a result of his deeds is bound up forever with the “Bundle of Life” [after he dies], and it does not move from there. This is true concerning the [levels of] neshama, chaya, and yechida as well.

The Hebrew word “Yechida” means both “alone” and “special”. The partzuf of Arich Anpin is both alone and special relative to all the other partzufim.

It is alone and special with respect to the rest of the sefirot because it lacks a “female” counterpart.

Nukva is the female consort of Zeir Anpin. Abba-father has a female counterpart, Imma-Mother. Arich Anpin, however, does not have a counterpart.

This is known from the verse, “See now that I, I am He” (Deut. 32:39), as elucidated in the Zohar, in Parashat Bereishit.

This verse is spoken by G-d, Who has no counterpart. Arich Anpin is also called “I”. Thus, on the level of Arich Anpin, the highest level and closest to the Infinite Creator, the One G-d, there is no counterpart and no corresponding female partzuf.

 

Know, that if a person merits to obtain his nefesh, ruach, and neshama, and then blemishes them through sin, he will have to be reincarnated to rectify the damage.

The process of gilgul and tikun will be explained throughout the rest of the book, starting with the next chapter. The main point here is in this next paragraph.

When he returns in a gilgul with his nefesh and he rectifies it, his ruach will not join him. This is because his ruach remains blemished, and it cannot rest upon a rectified nefesh.

In other words, rectified levels of souls do not reside in the same body with blemished ones. In what was discussed previously, the person was adding non-blemished, new divisions of soul to already rectified divisions of his own soul. However, once he has sinned and must come back another time, the process of tikun changes. He cannot add blemished aspects of soul on top of parts that have already been rectified.

Therefore, his [blemished] ruach will be reincarnated into another person, joining up with the nefesh of a convert. The neshama will likewise do the same.

The Hebrew word for “convert” is ger, a word that also means “stranger.” Probably both meanings are applicable here. The nefesh that will host this blemished ruach must be the nefesh of a convert, but relative to the homeless ruach it is also the nefesh of a stranger.

The reason for this is explained elsewhere, in chapter 4, section 2, based on Shaar Maamrei RaSHB”Y, Parashat Mishpatim, 98.

And the nefesh that was rectified will receive a rectified ruach of a righteous person who was similar to him in some of the particular good deeds that he performed. It will actually take the place of his own ruach. Similarly, if he rectifies his [blemished] ruach completely, then he will receive a neshama from some righteous person, which will act in place of his own neshama. This is the esoteric meaning of what Chazal say: “Righteous people are greater in death than during their lifetimes [Sanhedrin 47a].”

Since their ruach can fulfill this important function in the lives of others.

Now, after this person dies, his [own rectified] nefesh will go togther with this ruach [of a righteous person] and through it [i.e., the ruach] receive the blessing fitting for itself. When his own ruach, which joined with the nefesh of a convert, becomes completely rectified, then his original nefesh will say, “I will go and return to my first husband,” since it has been rectified.

In other words, after parts of his own soul are rectified, they can later be reunited in another gilgul, and return together.

It works in the same way for the neshama with respect to the ruach. After a person dies, they return in a gilgul and achieve tikun together.

End of Introduction (Chapter) One.

 

 

CHAPTER TWO, SECTION ONE: CONCERNING THE ENTRY OF NEFESH, RUACH AND NESHAMA

When a person is born, his nefesh enters him. If he is adequately rectified through his actions, his ruach will enter him at the end of his thirteenth year when he becomes a “completed person.” His neshama will enter him only when he completes his twentieth year, as it says in the Zohar (Mishpatim 94b).

This is talking about the ideal situation during a person’s first gilgul, as we will soon see.

However, if he does not completely rectify his ruach, then the neshama will not enter him and he will remain with only his nefesh and ruach. Likewise, if he doesn’t completely rectify his nefesh, then he will remain with only his nefesh, lacking both his ruach and neshama. The ruach and neshama will remain in a place known to The Holy One, Blessed is He, and there a place will be prepared for each one.

In other words, until a person is able to receive all parts of his soul, the parts he has yet to receive remain hidden away by G-d until the person is ready for them.

Now, if a person does not completely rectify his nefesh the first time and dies, then his nefesh will have to reincarnate, perhaps even many times, until it is sufficiently rectified. However, since he only achieved tikun through a gilgul, even after complete rectification is achieved his ruach will not enter (unless there is a pressing need, as will be explained, G-d willing).

Had it been his first gilgul, then he could have received his ruach while still alive in his original body. This is not the case if the rectification of the nefesh is completed during subsequent gilgulim.

He will have to die and return in order to receive the ruach. Furthermore, once the ruach is sufficiently rectified, then he will also have to reincarnate before receiving a neshama, as was the case with the ruach.

He will have to die and return in order to receive the ruach. Furthermore, once the ruach is sufficiently rectified, then he will also have to reincarnate before receiving a neshama, as was the case with the ruach.

If the ruach is not sufficiently rectified, then the nefesh and the ruach will have to come back again, perhaps many times, until the ruach is rectified. Once rectification is achieved, then the person will die and his nefesh and ruach will come back with the proper neshama until all three are rectified. Once this is done, there is no need for any further gilgulim. When his neshama is completed, he has become a “complete person.”

 

 

If a person rectified his nefesh, and came back to receive and complete his ruach, but during that gilgul he sinned, then his nefesh will not be affected in such a way that it would be forced to come back by itself to become rectified once again.

Once the nefesh has been completely rectified and he has returned to work on ruach, the nefesh is protected against any further damage. Otherwise, the rectification process could conceivably go on forever.

Rather, because he now has a ruach, the sin will only damage the ruach, and only this will need rectification.

Therefore, if an additional reincarnation is necessary to rectify the ruach, then both the (rectified) nefesh and the (blemished) ruach will come back again together. This will continue until the ruach is rectified, after which he will have to die in order for the rectified nefesh and ruach to reincarnate with the neshama. If he has accomplished this and then sins, then it will only damage the neshama, just as we explained with respect to the tikun of ruach.

However, there are different levels of rectification, and the above-mentioned procedure would be altered accordingly:

It can also happen that the nefesh becomes rectified and purified to such a great extent that it need not come back again with the ruach for the rectification of the ruach. Rather, the nefesh remains Above in a place fitting for it, “bound up with the Bundle of Life.

One of the different levels of rectification is so complete that the level of soul that has been rectified does not need to ever come back again.

In such a case, the ruach would have to come back alone to rectify itself. However, this is not possible.

The ruach cannot come down into a body without the presence of a nefesh. In this case, however, the nefesh that has undergone such a complete tikun will not return to reincarnate.

Therefore, it reincarnates with the nefesh of a convert, as it says in (Zohar) Sabba d’Mishpatim. They will reincarnate together until the ruach is rectified.

This ruach, therefore, will come down to join the nefesh of a convert, and they will reincarnate together until the ruach is completely rectified.

Once that is achieved, then the person dies and the first nefesh comes back to join with it (the ruach) in order to receive and rectify the neshama.

Or, the ruach may come back by itself with the neshama until the neshama is rectified, after which time the three of them no longer need to return and are instead “bound up with the Bundle of Life,” as is fitting for them.

It was said previously that the ruach does not enter a body without the presence of a nefesh. In this case, however, where the ruach was completed when it was together with the nefesh of the convert, then the rectified ruach may serve as the vehicle and base for the entry of its neshama, as if it were both nefesh and ruach. In this case, therefore, the presence of a nefesh is not absolutely necessary.

In any case, once all three levels of soul – nefesh, ruach, neshama – are rectified, there is no longer any need for gilgul, and all three may remain “bound up with the Bundle of Life,” as is fitting for them.

The Arizal now returns to consider the fate of the nefesh of the convert that has been the vehicle for the ruach that came into the world without its nefesh because the latter had undergone such a complete tikun.

The nefesh of the convert that was joined to the ruach has helped it to perform good deeds in this world, and has been a vehicle for it in this world; through their union the ruach was able to achieve its tikun. This nefesh of the convert will also become elevated with the original nefesh of this particular ruach. The two of them will be on the same level in the World to Come, like “neighbors,” and they will never part from one another.

In this section the Arizal will disclose new information concerning the concept of ibur, which he has already discussed in Chapter One (see Section 5).  First, however, he will review the important rule that we have been studying in this chapter: namely, if a nefesh achieves tikun only in a subsequent gilgul and not in its first lifetime, then it cannot receive ruach in the same gilgul. The person must first die, and then his nefesh and ruach will be reincarnated together.

If a nefesh reincarnates and becomes rectified through its actions to the point that it is ready for its ruach, he cannot receive his ruach, as it has been explained. (If it is not his very first gilgul, then) two or three levels of soul cannot become unified in one gilgul without great need, as we will mention later. Rather, each one requires its own gilgul.

First the nefesh needs to be rectified, and even when this happens he will not receive his ruach until after he dies. Then the nefesh can reincarnate and merit the ruach. The same is true of the two of them; if they become rectified to the point that they are ready for their neshama, they cannot receive it until they reincarnate again. Then they can merit their neshama.

As we have already learned, only in the first gilgul can the nefesh, ruach, and neshama be rectified within one body. After that, the person must reincarnate to move from level to level, even if he finishes one level “early.”

What happens for the nefesh that is already rectified but lacks a ruach?

We are talking about after the first gilgul, when it is not possible to receive another level of his soul without reincarnation. What happens, though, in the meantime until reincarnation, if the nefesh is already rectified?

This is the sod: From the same level of purity and extent of tikun attained by this nefesh, there will reincarnate into the body of this person, while he is still alive, the nefesh of a righteous tzadik that has already completed gilgulim and rectification, and does not need to reincarnate here. By entering here, the nefesh of this tzadik takes the place of the ruach of this person.

Thus, from the time that the nefesh has become rectified, the nefesh of a righteous person will enter him and fill the role of the ruach that cannot come down.

Sometimes, it is even possible for the souls of early tzadikim, such as the nefesh of our patriarch Abraham, or similar souls, to reincarnate. This depends upon the tikun and purification of the nefesh of the person.

Gilgulim (of this type) which occur during the lifetime of a person are called by the rabbis, “sod ibur.” And this is the basic difference between a regular gilgul and an ibur.

According to what we have learned here, a regular gilgul involves reincarnation from one lifetime to another. Ibur, on the other hand, is the “impregnation” of a person by the soul of a rectified, righteous tzadik because the nefesh has completed its tikun, but it cannot receive ruach without reincarnating since the tikun did not take place in its very first gilgul.

 

Sometimes it is possible, even in this late period of history, for the ruach of a righteous tzadik, even from one of the Forefathers, to come as an ibur. It will all depend upon the level of the mitzvot being performed by the person. Some mitzvot have the power to draw down the nefesh of a righteous tzadik into ibur, whereas others can draw down the ruach of the tzadik.

It is also possible for a person to receive the nefesh of one righteous person, and after that merit another nefesh from another righteous person, even greater than the first. In such a case, he will have his own nefesh, the nefesh of the first righteous person as his ruach, and the second, higher nefesh, acting in the place of his neshama.

Thus, in one lifetime he can merit a ruach and neshama, though not his own.

Or, perhaps, the nefesh will be perfected to the point that after already receiving the nefesh of a righteous person, he will merit the ruach of a second righteous person, even possibly the ruach of Abraham the Patriarch!

In this case, the ruach of the second tzadik will act as his neshama, and the nefesh of the first tzadik will act as his ruach.

This is the inner meaning of what they wrote in the Midrashim, in particular Midrash Shmuel: There is no generation in which there is not someone like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, etc. (Bereishit Rabba 56).

In other words, there are people in every generation who may actually have the nefesh or ruach of these great people from the past.

There is no pen that will prove sufficient to record all the details in a book. Nevertheless, an understanding person will comprehend and make the necessary inferences on his own.

In summary, based upon the tikun and purification of a particular nefesh, it can even merit a neshama from the earliest generations, including the most elevated of all; and it can happen even in this generation of ours.

Furthermore, it is exactly the same when a nefesh and ruach reincarnate together and become rectified, but are unable to acquire their neshama without first dying and reincarnating. They can receive the nefesh, ruach, or neshama of a righteous tzadik as an ibur, and it will act as their neshama. All the details that were described in the case of the nefesh alone that has completed its tikun will apply here also.

On occasion, it can happen that all three levels of soul will reincarnate together and become rectified. Then the nefesh or ruach of a righteous tzadik may impregnate him (as an ibur). When he leaves this world he will ascend to the same level as the righteous tzadik that came to him as an ibur. In the World to Come they will actually be on the same level.

Although his own soul was not originally on the same level as that of the righteous tzadik, he has now merited ascending to that level forever.

This is the inner meaning of what is written in the introduction to Zohar Bereishit (7a): Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai fell on his face and he saw Rav Hamnuna Sabba. He said that in “that world” (the World to Come), both he and Rav Hamnuna Sabba would be shining together.

Since the soul of Rav Hamnuna Sabba was within Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai as an ibur, they would be on the same level in the World to Come.

This is enough.

 

Ibur occurs for two reasons. First, through the ibur of the righteous, the nefesh of a person can become rectified to the level of the nefesh of the righteous tzadik. In the World to Come he will ascend to that level since the righteous tzadik will have helped him to add mitzvot and holiness to his life. This reason serves the person [receiving the ibur] himself.

The second reason is for the sake of the righteous tzadik who was the ibur. By helping the other person to perform mitzvot and rectification, he gains a portion in them. This is the sod of what Chazal wrote: Great are the righteous people, for even in death they merit children (Sanhedrin 47a). In other words, when they cause the person to increase his merit they become like “fathers” who guide and help. This is to his merit.

The righteous tzadik who has entered as an ibur is like a spiritual, internal navigation system for the host person. For this service the tzadik will also receive reward through the mitzvot he is helping the person to perform and the holiness he is helping to increase.

The righteous soul which enters a person and assists him during his life, as an ibur and not as a gilgul, “easily attains reward and is distant from loss.”

This is an expression used in the Talmud regarding the laws of monetary investments and interest, borrowed here to describe the secure benefit accruing to the righteous soul in the circumstance of ibur.

Every time the person does a mitzvah, he (the righteous soul) receives reward. This is the secret of what is written, “A righteous person receives his reward and the reward of his friend in Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden)” (Chagiga 15a). Understand this deep secret well, though now is not the time to discuss it at length.

The righteous person receives the reward for having performed mitzvot during his own lifetime, and for those he helps his “friend” perform while an ibur inside of him.

On the other hand, if the (host) person does evil, the righteous soul will not suffer any punishment or loss since he only came to help him, not to cause him evil. On the contrary, if this person negates what he rectified, then the righteous soul will leave him.

Thus, the righteous tzadik “easily attains reward” for his assistance in the performance of mitzvot. At the same time he is “distant from loss” because he will not suffer any detriment or pain from the sins of the host nor need to participate in the host’s sufferings.

The sod of ibur is that it occurs during a person’s lifetime and therefore does not bind (the nefesh of the righteous tzadik) to the body. This is unlike a nefesh that reincarnates, that enters as a gilgul from the time of birth and is unified and bound with the body without exiting from there until death. On the other hand, the nefesh of the righteous tzadik enters as an ibur willingly and leaves at will. If the person continues to act righteously, then the righteous soul will remain there in order to receive a portion in the actions of the person. It will remain there until the host dies, when they will both go up to the same place, as mentioned previously.

However, if the person does evil, then the righteous soul will become disgusted with this union and leave it. He is not permanently there, but “borrowed,” like a guest who remains with his host until he feels it is time to leave.

For the same reason the righteous tzadik will not feel any pains that may occur to the host person and he does not have to suffer them, because he is not “attached” to the body; he is only “borrowed.”

The rule is that a person who performs a mitzvah of great importance can merit an ibur of the nefesh of a righteous tzadik from an earlier generation. As a result, it is possible [for him] to become rectified and purified to the point that his nefesh will actually become transposed onto the same level as that of the righteous tzadik.

Afterwards, the person will have to rectify his ruach and neshama to such an extent of purity that they will be worthy to be clothed by this nefesh.

The word translated as “to be clothed” indicates the kabbalistic concept of enclothement, hitlabshut, and comes from the root that means “to wear,” as when it is said, “He wears warm clothes,” or “He wore a new suit.” Derived from it, for example, is the Hebrew word levush, which means “garment” or “clothing.”

The concept of hitlabshut is actually a derivative of the concept of partzufim, both of which are among the most important and innovative ideas in the Lurianic Kabbala.

Hitlabshut refers to the fact that the partzufim, or parts of the partzufim, are ensconced or enclothed one within the other, or dressed one upon the other.

Then he will actually become transposed [in his entirety] onto the level of the righteous tzadik, having ascended beyond the original root-level of his soul from whence he came. All of this is the reason for the help and assistance of the righteous soul.

It is also possible for the nefesh of a person to ascend until his nefesh will be from the world of Atzilut. Generally speaking, the nefesh is from Asiya, the ruach is from Yetzira, and the neshama is from Beria. However, on a more specific level, each world has its own levels of nefesh, ruach, neshama (NR”N).

This is not something new. As we learned in the first chapter, each world is part of an overall general system, while at the same time it is a smaller version of the same thing.

Hence, it can be that sometimes the NR”N of a person is from Asiya, Yetzira, and Beria.

That is, the nefesh is from Asiya, the ruach is from Yetzira, and the neshama is from Beria.

Sometimes, though, his NR”N can be from the malchut, the Zeir Anpin, and the Imma of Asiya.

That is, all three are from within Asiya. What will follow are other possible combinations.

Sometimes, the three of them will be from Yetzira, or from the world of Beria, or all of them will be from Atzilut. (In the latter case,) the nefesh will be from the nukva of Zeir Anpin (malchut of Atzilut), the ruach from Zeir Anpin (Yetzira of Atzilut), the neshama from Imma (bina of Atzilut), and the Chaya from Abba (chochma of Atzilut).

Another combination can be the nefesh from Asiya, and the ruach and neshama from Yetzira. Or, the nefesh can be from Yetzira and the ruach and neshama from Beria. Alternatively, the nefesh can be from Beria while the ruach and neshama are from Atzilut.

This is possible because the four worlds, ABY”A (Atzilut, Beria, Yetzira, Asiya), are each comprised of four (sub-)worlds of ABY”A and their own set of ten sefirot. Those ten, in turn, are comprised of their own ten sefirot, and so on.

The general system of ten sefirot breaks down into sub-sets of ten sefirot, which in turn break down into their own sub-sets of ten sefirot, etc.

It is not possible to write down all the details at length since the space is limited. However, the person of understanding will comprehend and make the connections on his own.

Theoretically, sub-categorization can go on ad infinitum; and the number of possible combinations is virtually limitless.

However, when we say that sometimes the NR”N is from Yetzira, or from Beria, it does not mean that he lacks a nefesh from Asiya! After all, even the Shechina is called “Malchut” and It “nests” in Asiya. How much more so the nefesh of a person!

In other words, the Shechina (Divine Presence) obviously belongs to a very exalted and spiritual place. Yet, this does not stop it from “nesting” and hovering about in the lowest of worlds, in the world of Asiya, even in the world that we humans also inhabit. It is the same for souls, and even more so. The nefesh of all people comes from the World of Asiya, as we learned beforehand, even if it is said about it that it is a nefesh of Atzilut, or a nefesh of Yetzira.

Rather, what it means is that the nefesh originated from Asiya, but that it became so purified that it cannot be sensed in comparison to the (newly acquired) light of the nefesh of Yetzira within him.

It is like a candle that makes nearly no impression at all when it shines during daylight.

Therefore, it is all called the nefesh of Yetzira.

He has a nefesh from Asiya and it remains that. However, it can ascend to the world of Yetzira above it so that its light can become almost as bright as its level of Yetzira. Consequently, its Asiya-light becomes non-discernable, and for all intents and purposes, it is like the nefesh of Yetzira.

It is the same for all the aspects: when we say that his NR”N is from Atzilut, really he has a nefesh, ruach, and neshama from Asiya, Yetzira and Beria (respectively). However, they are not referred to by their names, and all of them are considered secondary and referred to as being from Atzilut.

Actually, the NR”N of Atzilut are aspects of a higher and more interior world than that of Beria, Yetzira and Asiya (BY”A). Therefore, they are clothed within the worlds of BY”A and shine from within them. The light of the higher entities from Atzilut may be so revealed that the lower, weaker, exterior lights of BY”A are simply non-discernible.

You can apply this concept to any of the other details that have been mentioned.

Thus, the system of levels of souls remains the same for everyone, though within the system different combinations of souls can seem to exist based upon the individual’s level of rectification and purification.

Within the concept of gilgulim there is a distinction between reincarnation into any body that may be ready for his gilgul, and reincarnation through a brother, which is the sod of yibum.

Yibum is the Levirate marriage in which a surviving brother marries his (widowed) sister-in-law whose husband, the man’s brother, has died childless.

In a normal gilgul, the nefesh, ruach and neshama (NR”N) do not reincarnate together, or even two at once. Only the nefesh reincarnates until it is rectified. Afterwards, in another gilgul, the nefesh and ruach return together until they are rectified. When that occurs, then the entire NR”N (reincarnates together) until the neshama is rectified, which completes his gilgulim. Or, sometimes each of the three reincarnates individually (and achieves tikun independent of the others): the ruach with another nefesh in another body, and the neshama with a different nefesh and ruach in a different body.

However, when a man reincarnates through his brother, the entire NR”N may do so together.

Chaim Vital says: It seems from Sabba of Mishpatim that even with respect to yibum all three do not come back together, but only the nefesh and the ruach without the neshama. This requires further investigation.

Thus, it is not clear if just the N”R come together in one gilgul during yibum, or if all three come together at one time. In either case, it is different than a regular gilgul

 

 

CHAPTER THREE, SECTION ONE: IBUR WHILE ALIVE

Ibur takes place during a person’s lifetime, as we have already mentioned.

In Chapter 2, Section 3 it was written: “…..There will reincarnate into the body of this person, while he is still alive, the Nefesh of a righteous tzadik.” This is called ibur, and more specifically, “ibur while alive.” The difference between this type of ibur and gilgul was also explained there.

Normally, ibur takes place during a person’s lifetime; it involves parts of soul that come to a person years after he is born. Gilgul, on the other hand, involves parts of soul that a person is born with. They reincarnate from the time he is born, and they stay with him until the end of his lifetime.

(Later on in this chapter, there will be introduced a new concept of “ibur from birth,” and it will be explained there, God-willing, when we come to it. The subject of this section, however, is the normal type of ibur.)

Sometimes a certain mitzvah may come before a person, and he performs the mitzvah as it should be done. At that point the nefesh of an earlier righteous person who had performed this same mitzvah correctly will join the person as an ibur, since they are alike with respect to this mitzvah.

Thus, the actual mitzvah to be performed affects which righteous soul will join a person as an ibur.

Not only this, but it is also possible that the righteous person is alive during his lifetime, and still ibur can occur.

The one who performed the mitzvah and the righteous person are alive at the same time, and still ibur can occur.

Thus, if a person performs a particular mitzvah or mitzvot relevant to a righteous individual who also performed correctly, then the nefesh of that righteous tzadik can enter the person, even while they are both alive at the same time.

Up until now we knew that ibur occurred in a living body after birth, but with the soul of a righteous person who has already died. Now we are learning that the ibur can even come from a living righteous individual.

This is the secret meaning of the verse, “The nefesh of Jonathan became attached to the nefesh of David” (I Samuel 18:1). In other words, even while they were both alive, the nefesh of David was joined with Jonathan as an ibur.

This accounts for the strong soul bond they had while they were alive.

(The Writer, Chaim Vital, says: It appears that one mitzvah performed correctly is enough to initiate the ibur. It is not required that he have performed all mitzvot to this point).

CHAPTER THREE, SECTION TWO: THE EFFECT OF THE SIN OF ADAM

With respect to the concept of gilgulim, we will begin the discussion with Adam HaRishon, the First Man, to more easily grasp the matter.

To begin with, when Adam HaRishon sinned he blemished all the sparks (nitzutzot) of his nefesh, ruach, and neshama. Just like a person’s body contains many sparks throughout his 248 Limbs and 365 Tendons, and consequently there are many sparks in his head, in his eyes, and in every limb–it is the same with a nefesh as well.

The human body is comprised of the 248 Limbs and 365 Tendons, and as such they denote the form or “shape” of the human body.

The nefesh is in the same “shape” as the human body; more correctly said: the human body is in the same shape as the nefesh. The body is composed of Holy Sparks that are dispersed throughout it and within every one of its limbs. It is exactly the same with the nefesh, only more ephemeral.

When Adam HaRishon, the First Man, sinned, he blemished all the sparks throughout the spiritual form of his nefesh, and his ruach and neshama as well. To explain this, the Arizal now digresses to a deep explanation of the Midrash.

The Midrash Tanchuma (Ki Tisa 12) and Midrash Rabba (Ex. 40:3) provide an explanation for the verse (Job 38:4), “Where were you when I founded the earth?”

Job is complaining about his lot, and arguing with G-d. He answers him, “Where were you when I founded the earth?” In other words, G-d is answering Job that he has no right to question G-d unless he also knows from what part of the soul of Adam the spark that constitutes Job’s soul originally came. If he does not know from whence his soul was hewn, then he does not know his own history. Consequently, he can never fully understand the things that are happening to him.

Actually, the Midrash starts off by quoting a verse from Ecclesiastes (6:10): “That which was/ it was already called by name (from the beginning)/ and it is known that it is Adam…” In other words, all that exists “was already called by name” from the beginning, and that beginning or source is Adam HaRishon, when he was created. 

When Adam was created, [1] the Holy One, Blessed is He, showed him every righteous person who would ever descend from him: from his head, his hair, his neck, his two eyes, and some from his nose. His ruach is also divided in this way, as is his neshama.

From the sparks that comprised all the various limbs of the nefesh, ruach and neshama of Adam were descended the souls of all the people that would exist throughout history.

When he sinned, he blemished the majority of the sparks of his nefesh, ruach, and neshama, causing them to become immersed in the kelipot.

The kelipot are the husks or shells that imprison the fallen Holy Sparks. When Adam sinned, the Holy Sparks of his nefesh, ruach and neshama fell into the kelipot. In the sense in which it is being used here, the concept of kelipot refers to the entire realm of evil into which the souls and the Divine Presence have been exiled. This realm is the mirror image of the realm of Holiness (Kedusha), but in the depths of spiritual impurity.

This is the sod of what is written in Sefer HaTikunim (Ch. 5), on the verse, “like a bird that wanders from her nest …” (Proverbs 27:8). The Divine Presence is exiled amongst the kelipot. The (souls of the) righteous tzadikim wander after Her from place to place.

This is talking about a quality naturally inherent in a human being that allows him to return to his Creator, as a bird does to its nest. The deeper meaning of the verse refers to Soul-Sparks of righteous people pursuing G-d while they are within the realm of the kelipot.

The place to which the sparks are exiled in the realm of the kelipot is according to the aspect (of the soul of Adam) from which they have come. If they have come from the head, then they are exiled into the head of the kelipot; if from the eyes, then to the eyes, etc. This is the sod of the idea of the “exile of the souls” that is mentioned there.

As explained, the spiritually impure world is a mirror version of the spiritually pure world, except in an unholy and impure way. Thus, when the souls fell into the world of impurity, they fell to the level that corresponded to their own. For example, the souls that are derived from the sparks of the eyes of Adam’s nefesh fell into the kelipot of the eyes of the nefesh. If they fell from the thighs of the ruach, then they fell into the thighs of the ruach of the kelipot. It is from their specific place of exile in the kelipot that the soul-sparks must be redeemed.

 

Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam HaRishon, committed their own sin in addition to that of their father and thus caused their sparks to become more deeply immersed in the kelipot.

Cain murdered Abel, and according to the Midrash, Abel had (previously) looked at the Divine Presence as it descended to consume his sacrifice on the altar. Gazing such at the Divine Presence was deemed a grave sin and warranted for Abel the penalty of death. Thus, they caused further damage and blemish to the soul-sparks from the soul of Adam that were originally damaged by the sin of the First Man.

However, in each generation some of the sparks reincarnate into the world to become rectified.

That is good news. All do not end up like Cain and Abel. There is tikun. 

The level of the “quarry” of the souls of a particular generation can be either that of the sparks of the head, or the eyes, etc.

The “quarry” [as in a rock quarry] is the place in the soul-structure of Adam from which the soul-sparks derive. This varies by the generation. It is like a spiritual quarry from which the sparks of the souls of a particular generation are “hewn.” Some of these sparks reincarnate and become rectified, but some of them reincarnate, become more blemished because of sin, and fall deeper into the kelipot, like the souls of Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam HaRishon. 

 

Some reincarnate to become rectified, but they are not (entirely) careful and sin. Such a spark will become immersed again in the kelipot, with all the (minor) sparks that derive from it and depend upon it.

There are major sparks and minor sparks. The major sparks are composed of many minor sparks. They may reincarnate all together in one gilgul, or they may separate into many gilgulim.

What we are considering here is an intermediate case that includes both gilgul and ibur.

The Arizal is now going to describe the intermediate case of “ibur from birth,” which is in some respects like ibur and in some respects like gilgul. There are parts of soul that reincarnate and come to a person when he is born, as is the case in gilgul. However, they have already been rectified, as in ibur, and like ibur they can reap reward from mitzvot that are done in this person’s lifetime but do not suffer guilt from sins that may be committed. Thus, they are an intermediate category.

The reason for this phenomenon is that there are two types of blemishes resulting from sin. As a consequence of serious sin (which will be explained later on), the soul-sparks are severely blemished; they undergo gilgul. However, the result of less serious sin is a less serious blemish and does not necessitate gilgul.

A soul may reincarnate, achieve extensive rectification, but nevertheless remain somewhat blemished because of some “light” sins that were committed during the gilgul. These parts of the soul that are for the most part –but not completely– rectified will reincarnate again at the time of birth and remain with the person until the end of his lifetime, as in gilgul. However, in this case, they will reap reward for mitzvot but will not suffer guilt from sins that may be committed, as in ibur. It is these parts of the soul, those which are less seriously blemished, that constitute the intermediate category undergoing “ibur from birth.”

All the sparks of the nefesh, even those that are already rectified, return in a complete gilgul at the time of birth with the individual spark that was damaged. They do not separate from one another until the day of death.

All the sparks of nefesh — both those that have been almost completely rectified, retaining only a light blemish due to a “light” sin, and those that have been only slightly rectified — return at the time of birth with those soul-sparks that have been severely damaged and will require extensive tikun in this lifetime. Since they arrive at the time of birth, they are all similar to a “complete gilgul.”

However, the rectified sparks reincarnate as an ibur.

In other words, the abovementioned almost-completely-rectified sparks reincarnate as an “ibur from birth.” The reason it is called “ibur” is as follows:

They do not share in the sins of this body, only the merits. It is similar to the souls of righteous tzadikim who have died and come as an ibur during a person’s lifetime and not at birth.

Even though the almost-completely-rectified sparks have to return with the damaged ones, they only benefit from the reincarnation.

Thus, a spark that has not been rectified whatsoever by the performance of those mitzvot to which it is related or [has not been rectified] as a result of transgressing those sins from which there is no revival must reincarnate into a second body, which will be named for that spark.

That spark’s “name” is the essence of the gilgul that is happening, like the name of any given thing describes the essence of that thing. The gilgul reincarnates into a body for the sake of the tikun of those soul-sparks that have been severely damaged or not rectified at all. Therefore, that particular birth will be called by the name of those sparks that must undergo extensive tikun.

However, sparks that have achieved rectification through the performance of mitzvot, but have also been blemished through the transgression of “light” sins, only reincarnate as an ibur of the sort mentioned previously (i.e., ibur from birth), even though it is also a gilgul.

They are an ibur that must come back at birth, but they are not the main soul of the body in which they find themselves. It is because they are not the main soul of the body that they are an ibur. They are a gilgul because they come at the time of birth.

In contrast, there are sparks that have not been blemished through sins after having been rectified by mitzvot.

These sparks have been fully rectified and are not blemished whatsoever.

They do not return at all except as an ibur during lifetime (i.e., after birth), and then only if he merits it, as explained. 

Thus, what we have learned (from the previous section is as follows):

The main part of the gilgul associated with the body is specifically that part which was damaged. The other parts of the soul previously rectified in other reincarnations only return as aspects of ibur. When the part which is associated with the body performs a mitzvah in this world, the other parts share a portion of the mitzvah, since they have assisted in the performance of the mitzvah, as explained earlier concerning the soul of a righteous tzadik that comes as an ibur. Since they only come to assist for the sake of good they do not share the punishment when the main nefesh transgresses.

When a person reincarnates, the entire nefesh returns. However, the essence of the gilgul is only the part that sinned in a previous body and returns to become rectified. It is associated with the body, and reward and punishment are applicable to it. However, the rest of the nefesh takes part in the reward but not in the punishment.

Now, the nefesh in its entirety suffers and receives punishments in the existing body, besides what was suffered by the sparks in previous bodies. And it will suffer as well the pain of death and the pain of what comes after death. Consequently, there is atonement for the earlier (“light”) sins. Moreover, through the mitzvot of previous gilgulim and the present one in which they have a portion, as we have said, the tikun of the nefesh becomes complete.

In this respect, the comparison between the mostly rectified parts of the soul that come as an “ibur from birth” and the soul of a righteous tzadik that comes as a normal ibur ceases. For a soul of a righteous tzadik, the ibur is not meant to act as a cleansing process. It just increases its own merit by the ibur, and it assists the person in which the ibur is occurring. However, by the case of “ibur from birth”, the mostly rectified parts of the soul need the ibur to complete their atonement and tikun.

However, if they had a portion in the (present) sins as well, there could never be tikun for the nefesh. A person usually sins, and this would only add sin to sin and there would be no end to it!

If the mostly rectified sparks had a portion in the sins of the non-rectified sparks, then it would hamper progression towards tikun, because previous tikunim would be cancelled out by future sins of other sparks.

However, since the rest of the nefesh does not share responsibility in the evil of this spark — only in its merits, sins can be atoned for and not increased. New merits can be added through each gilgul. There can be a conclusion to the cycle of reincarnations and tikun for the nefesh. Understand this well.

In this way, the nefesh achieves completion in all it’s sparks; through reincarnation completion is achieved for all the sparks from the “head” of the nefesh to its “feet”.

This refers back to the beginning of the discourse in Section 2. The sparks of the nefesh from the head to the feet are the sparks of the soul-body of Adam HaRishon. Each generation is destined to rectify the selection of sparks associated with it, until the tikun of the whole is completed.

Once the “feet” are reached, then Mashiach will come, as it says in the Zohar (Parashat Pekudei pg. 258, and the end of Parashat Vayakhel).

In the age of Mashiach, there will be no more need for gilgulim. Mankind will be fully rectified and will have merited the appearance of the greatest soul of all, the soul of Mashiach, the keter of human souls.

Yibum is not like gilgul because it is for a different reason. When it comes to the rest of the sins of the Torah, rectification can be achieved through suffering in this world and after death in Gehinom (Purgatory). Thus, not all sparks of the nefesh need to reincarnate, but they may come back only as an ibur of the type mentioned in the previous section. Only specific sparks actually reincarnate.

Rectification can be achieved through suffering, or through the performance of mitzvot. The Rav is concentrating on rectification through suffering, it seems, because of what he wants to say here about yibum.

We also learned in the last section that completely rectified sparks do not need to reincarnate, and those that are mostly rectified, but not completely, will reincarnate as an ibur from birth. Only specific sparks that are badly damaged, or have not yet undergone any tikun through gilgul, will reincarnate to become the main soul of the body.

However, yibum occurs because the person died before having children, a lack of success that makes it as if he never came into the world, as if his first body did not exist at all, as it says in the Zohar (Vayashev 187a).

The man left this world without leaving behind any progeny, and therefore it is as if he never existed.

Therefore, the entire nefesh that was in the first body must return again for its own sake.

This is the main point here. Rectification through suffering did not happen in the first body, and no parts of the soul were released from the cycle of gilgul.

In the end, it is the second body that becomes his main one. After rectification and death in this world the nefesh will resurrect only in this second body. There will be no soul to enter the first body, other than the “ruach [spirit] that he put into his wife”, as it says in Sabba of [Zohar] Mishpatim.

When a man first procreates with his wife, a part of his soul goes into the woman and remains there in her womb. This is the spirit that the husband has left within his wife. It is only this minimal spirit that is available to resurrect the body. (See Chapter 36.)

This is the difference between someone who has died without leaving children and must return in the secret of Yibum, and one who dies with sins and must reincarnate.

All the details we have explained regarding the sparks of the nefesh apply as well to ruach and neshama.

“GATE OF REINCARNATIONS”

from the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria

translated by Yitzchak Bar Chaim

edited by Shabtai Teicher

CHAPTER THREE, SECTION SEVEN: A SECOND DIFFERENCE

There is another difference between yibum and gilgul, which was mentioned at the beginning of this analysis. If a person reincarnates in the secret of yibum, his first body is considered as if it had never existed at all. For this reason, the entire nefesh returns as a new creation. It is possible, therefore, that the ruach and neshama can reincarnate together with the nefesh, though not all at one time.

When he merits and performs mitzvot fitting for the ruach, then it will enter him; and it is the same with respect to the neshama. About a person who came into the world for the first time the Sabba of [Zohar] Mishpatim explained, “If he merits more, they bring him a ruach; if he merits more, they bring him a neshama, etc.” This is not the case, as we have explained, for someone who reincarnates.

The one who has come back in the secret of yibum is as if he has come into the world for the first time, and all the rules apply accordingly. This is the case even though it is the second body of his nefesh (and perhaps it is even a later body of a subsequent gilgul after a second or even a third reincarnation).

Therefore, someone who returns in the secret of yibum is similar to a new creation, and he is able to achieve his nefesh, ruach and neshama (NR”N) in one gilgul, if his actions warrant it, as was mentioned. This is the esoteric meaning of the verse, “If he sets his heart upon it, then he would gather into himself his ruach and his neshama” (Job 34:14). This is understood in Sabba of [Zohar] Mishpatim in a deep way to refer to one who has returned in the secret of Yibum.

The simple description of the mitzvah of yibum is as follows: The wife of a man who has died without leaving any progeny in the world, will marry the brother of the deceased. This latter is called “the brother-in-law”. The child that is born from this union of the wife and her brother-in-law will be called by the name of the deceased. It is considered as if the soul of the deceased, who has left no progeny, has come back into the world. The brother-in-law has returned a portion of the nefesh of the deceased into this world.

Just as the brother-in-law has the ability to return a portion of the nefesh of his brother into this world through yibum, so too can yibum itself collect and return to the nefesh both the ruach, and neshama. However, it must be dependent upon good deeds, just as it says, “If he sets his heart upon it.” (Ibid.)

A gilgul, on the other hand, does not have the ability to draw all three parts of the soul to him, but only one at a time. As mentioned before, first the nefesh reincarnates alone until it becomes completely rectified, after which the person dies. Next, the ruach alone is born into a different body until it is rectified. The nefesh will also reincarnate together with it, but only as an ibur, since it is already rectified. The only reason it comes back is in order to help the ruach to do good, and not bad. Therefore, it receives a portion of the good deeds of the ruach, but not the bad deeds, just as we said with respect to the nefesh itself when rectified sparks return in the secret of ibur.

This is another explanation of how there can be an end to the reincarnations of the nefesh, for it has no part in the sins of the ruach, as mentioned.

Once it is rectified, it remains rectified no matter what the un-rectified ruach or neshama do while in the body.

After he dies and the neshama reincarnates to become rectified, then the nefesh and the ruach reincarnate only in the secret of ibur, until it is purified. After that, there will no longer be any need for this person to reincarnate into this world for his own sake. However, he may return into this world as an ibur in another person, during that person’s lifetime, to assist him and thereby receive a portion with him, as was explained previously at length.

His soul becomes that of the righteous person whose soul returns to help other people perform mitzvot

 

Now we will explain what was mentioned at the beginning of the chapter. A secret of gilgul is that when the need is great, a slightly new gilgul can achieve nefesh, ruach and neshama at one time in a single incarnation, without the need for multiple reincarnations since the three of them will achieve tikun in one body.

What is a “slightly new” gilgul? This will be explained in depth later, especially in Chapter 7. In brief, it refers to a person who has completed the tikun of his nefesh, but not in his first gilgul.

Normally, such a person cannot [rectify his] ruach in the same gilgul. He has to die and be reborn with his nefesh and ruach together. However, there are special cases “when the need is great” that he can attain ruach— and even neshama— in the same gilgul in which his nefesh has been completed. This is possible even though it is not the first gilgul of the nefesh.

Although it is not the first time his nefesh has been in this world, he has completed the tikun of his nefesh. Therefore, the Arizal calls him “a slightly new gilgul” (as will be explained in Chapter 7). It is this that makes possible the attainment of all three parts of the soul nefesh, ruach and neshama in one gilgul.

Normally, when the nefesh comes alone and achieves rectification and purification, the ruach cannot join it since the nefesh has been rectified while the ruach has not. However, there is a way to achieve rectification [together in the same gilgul] when the nefesh is already completely rectified.

When a person sleeps at night he can deposit his nefesh with G-d, as is known. Thus, it is possible for the nefesh to remain Above, adhering to the “Supernal Well” and in the secret of “Mayin Nukvin.

Literally, Mayin Nukvin means “Female Waters”. It refers here to the holy sparks that are strewn throughout the levels and dimensions of Creation — all of them — as was mentioned briefly in Section 2 of this chapter. Our learning of Torah and performance of mitzvot liberate these holy sparks from the kelipot that imprison them. Then the holy sparks ascend “upward” to reunite with the sources of spiritual light. When this happens they cause the “downward” flow of additional light and blessing.

Because they ascend from below to above they are called “female”, since (as in conjugal relations) the juices of the female flow from below to above, whereas the juices of the male flow from above to below.

Indeed, all types of light that go from below to above, such as “Returning Light”, are also called “Female Light”. The classical abbreviation for Mayin Nukvin is “Mem-nun“, which we will refer to as M”N throughout this translation.

(These matters are known from Sha’ar HaTefillah in the section about going to sleep at night. Investigate this further there.)

Furthermore, the place for water is in a well. Since there is a place in the supernal worlds called “the Supernal Well”, it is fitting that this nefesh that has been fully rectified and has ascended upward in the secret of Mayin Nukvin remain there in the Supernal Well. Consequently, the nefesh that has been completely rectified and has ascended as M”N to the Supernal Well does not descend in the morning when souls return to this world. It will remain in the Supernal Well, and in its place his ruach will descend.

When he awakens in the morning, his ruach will then enter by itself, as if reincarnated into a different body.

This new situation will continue until it is rectified completely, at which point the nefesh will return into the body as before, since they both are now rectified. The ruach can be dressed within the nefesh, and the nefesh can be its “vehicle”.

Once the ruach is also rectified like the nefesh, there is no hindrance to its becoming ensconced within the nefesh, and the nefesh becomes its vehicle.

Likewise, after the ruach becomes completely purified, then both the nefesh and the ruach can leave the body at night during sleep and be “deposited” Above, where they will remain (for the time being). In the morning, when he awakens, the neshama will enter into him. It will become rectified, and once rectification is complete, then the previously rectified nefesh and ruach can return. The three of them will join together in the same body, and one will become the “vehicle” for the other(s). No more reincarnations will be necessary.

Thus, there is a possibility that a “slightly new” soul can achieve rectification of the nefesh, ruach and neshama even though it is not his first gilgul. This lesson now becomes the basis for a new, esoteric exposition of the following verse.

All of this is alluded to in the verse “My nefesh has desired You at night; even (with) my ruach that is within me will I seek You…” (Isaiah 26:9).

[The interpretation:] My nefesh became purified until it was able to cling to You in the secret of “and cling to Him” (Deut. 11:22). It then desired You, and yearned to cling to You. The time of desiring and yearning is specifically at night, when souls may be deposited because they are ascending in the secret of Mayin Nukvin to cause a supernal zivug.

Since the time of yearning is at night, it was written, “My nefesh has desired You at night…”

The word zivug used here literally means “to pair”, although “union” (and specifically, conjugal union) would probably be a more accurate rendition according to the meaning of the Kabbala. By ascending to higher levels in the secret of M”N  the holy sparks cause the Upper Partzufim to unite together (zivug). Thus, they draw light down from Above to the lower levels.

The strength of this yearning, because it is pure, makes possible total adherence. The nefesh can remain there and not descend.

Thus, the first part of the verse has been explained. “My nefesh has desired You at night”, because the night is the time of desire when the souls ascend as M”N to the Supernal Well. In the morning when it is time for the descent, then my nefesh does not descend, but my ruach in its place descends into my body to seek You.

The Hebrew word that has been translated here “to seek You” is ashachreca, the root of which is shachar. Shachar means “morning”. Thus, the second part of the verse will be rendered, “…In the morning my ruach will enter into me”, in the place of my nefesh.

In the morning when it comes time for the nefesh to descend once again and it does not, then “my ruach” can enter me instead. This is why it is not “my nefesh” that “seeks for You”/”in the morning”.

This is according to both meanings of ashachreca.

Rather it is his ruach that enters him to become rectified.

Therefore, the initial letters of the Hebrew words that have been translated “in the night my nefesh, even my ruach” (bait-aleph-reish) spell “be’er” (well); this alludes to what was mentioned earlier, that the nefesh longs to ascend to the Supernal Well.

That these initial letters spell be’er, meaning well, is an indication to the Rav that something is happening here in this verse that is taking place in the Supernal Well, and he has explained the verse accordingly. Now, he wants to draw a practical application from what he has been expounding in this section: namely, that this verse should be recited at night before going to sleep.

Hence, if a person knows on his own that he has rectified his nefesh, he can say the verse, “My nefesh has desired You at night; even (with) my ruach that is within me will I seek You (ashachreca)…” before laying down to sleep. He should recite it concentrating upon the esoteric meaning that has been explained here in order to attain his ruach, and similarly his neshama. Then he will not need additional gilgulim. Understand this esoteric secret well and be cautious with it.

Indeed, in the prescribed recitation of the Bedtime Shma in the prayer book of the Ari (at least according to the Ben Ish Chai) this verse appears, and it is recited by everyone every night.

There is another verse that is also recited each night in the recitation of the Bedtime Shma. The reason for the recitation of this second verse is similar to what has been explained in this section, but not exactly. The Rav will now explain the differences between them, and why both verses need to be recited.

However, the verse that we are accustomed to say, “In Your hand I will deposit my soul” (Psalms 31:6), doesn’t help to accomplish what has been explained here. It only means that the nefesh will ascend as a “deposit”. In the morning it will return to descend. However, the verse, “My nefesh has desired You at night; even (with) my ruach that is within me will I seek You…” means that the nefesh will remain Above, and that either the ruach or the neshama will descend in its place.

(Note: Shmuel says: The verse “My nefesh has desired You at night; even (with) my ruach that is within me will I seek for You…” is explained in Gate Six of Shaar HaKavanot. See there.) 

In this section we will learn another way that all three nefesh, ruach and neshama may be received in one lifetime, even though it is not his first gilgul.

There are two other distinctions that apply only to gilgulim.

They apply only to gilgulim, and not to ibur or yibum.

Firstly, if a first-time gilgul earns his Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama (NR”N) and then sins and blemishes them, in his next reincarnation he cannot rectify them all at once except through the device that was explained beforehand. When going to bed he should recite the verse, “My Nefesh has desired You at night…..”

This was explained at the end of the last chapter. The two distinctions mentioned here are made possible by entirely different circumstances, depending upon what happened during the first gilgul. Either he earned all his NR”N during the first gilgul before he sinned, as in the first possibility that we have just read; or, he earned only his Nefesh before he sinned in the first gilgul, which is the second possibility that will be explained here.

In the first possibility, he cannot receive all his NR”N in his second gilgul, except through the device of reciting the verse “My Nefesh has desired You at night…”, as was explained at the end of the last chapter. Then his Nefesh will remain above in the Supernal Well, and in the morning his Ruach will come down in its place. Now, the Rabbi will explain the second possible way of achieving all NR”N in a second gilgul.

Secondly, if a first-time gilgul earns only his Nefesh, and sins and blemishes it, when he reincarnates he can achieve NR”N in that gilgul itself. Since he had not previously damaged his Ruach and Neshama, they can join the nefesh after it has been rectified, as if it were a first incarnation, just as it said, “If he merits more…..”

In his first gilgul he rectified the Nefesh that he received at birth. This is the main point here. Before and after it are only reviews.

 

In his first gilgul he rectified the Nefesh that he received at birth, and he never received either his Ruach or Neshama before sinning and dying. The Ruach and Neshama were never affected by the sins he did with his Nefesh. If he rectifies his Nefesh after reincarnating with it, then the Ruach can come to him in the same body since it was never damaged. If he merits completing his Ruach as well, then his Neshama can join both his Nefesh and Ruach in the same body, even though it is his second reincarnation. This is possible because the Ruach and Neshama were not previously blemished. Otherwise, each must come back in its own gilgul, as we have said until now.

 

How can a rectified Nefesh become the vehicle for a damaged Ruach or Neshama?

This is not the case when they have all come, and all have become blemished. For how can a rectified Nefesh become the vehicle for a damaged Ruach or Neshama? However, if he only damaged the Nefesh, then all three can return together in a single gilgul.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yitzchak Bar-Chaim is the pseudonym of an American-born Jerusalem scholar who has studied and taught Kabbala for many years. He may be contacted through: kabbala@….

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