From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky

Please Note: The bold text is the direct translation of the classic text source. The regular text is the explanation of the editor/translator

Kabbalah describes the severe punishment of being cut off from one's spiritual soul-mate.

In this week's Torah reading, we are taught that someone who intentionally serves idols will be "cut off" from the Jewish people. Literally, the phrase describing this process reads:

"And the soul that does [this] with an uplifted hand…blasphemes G‑d, and that soul will be cut off from the midst of its people. For it has disgraced the word of G‑d and abrogated His commandment; that soul will be cut off, yes, cut off, [as long as] its transgression is within it [i.e. if he does not repent].

(Num. 15:30-31)

The word for "its transgression" in this verse [in Hebrew, "avona"] can also be read as "time-period" [in Hebrew, "ona"], as in the phrase, "he will not diminish her conjugal rights"

(Ex. 21:10)

The word "ona" means "time period" or "season", and is also used to mean "conjugal rights" or "frequency of marital relations".

This means that if the soul in question had remained holy and not sinned, it would have joined together with its mate in Paradise and thereby produced the soul of converts, as is mentioned in the Zohar.

Soncino Zohar(III:167b, 168a)

The marital union of soul-mates is always fertile; if it does not produce physical offspring, it produces good metaphysical "energy" that spreads throughout the world. Sometimes this "offspring" takes the form of souls that eventually convert to Judaism. In the spiritual afterlife, also, soul-mates unite in marital union after midnight; this produces souls of converts.

chanoch's Commentary

In our advanced reincarnation study of over 200 hours of recordings based on the “Sefer Shaarai HaGilgulim” we learn about the concept of “Soul of Converts”. These “souls of converts” are a necessary part of the system of Gilgulim – reincarnation. This is an act of Mercy by HaShem providing a method of easier tikune to souls that are or were unable to make their complete tikune in one lifetime. It is important to note that the good metaphysical energy that spreads throughout the world is called Shefa. Shefa is the energy that is the goodness of HaShem.

Souls of converts are also produced by Torah study.

And Torah study is a central occupation of the soul in Paradise.

See Shaar HaGilgulim, introduction 34.

But this soul, which performed such a serious sin that it becomes liable to the punishment of excision, is cut off from its mate. Thus, what should have been the "conjugal act" ["ona"] becomes "transgression" ["avon"] and sin, and it is cut off from its mate.

chanoch adds: Excision means to be cut off. Excision is the translation of the Hebrew word Karet. Karet in Hebrew is spelled כרית.. The Kabbalah teaches that the tikune - correction of Karet is to study Kabbalah from Midnight to the moment of preparing for a Netz prayer. This action removes one decree of Karet for the soul involved. Netz is a Hebrew term that is related to starting the morning Amidah at the moment the light of the sun appears over the Horizon.

The sense of the verse quoted above thus becomes: "That soul will be cut off [from its mate]; its transgression prevents its coupling [with its mate] from taking place."

This is one type of excision. This type of excision is sometimes given to a person who has not tried to have children, as mentioned in the Zohar.

Soncino Zohar (II:106a)

When the Torah uses the expression, "he shall be cut off", the punishment referred to is called "excision". This may take a number of forms.

Although not marrying and trying to have children is not one of the sins the Torah applies the punishment of excision to, it is stated in the Zohar that someone who did not try to have children in This World is sometimes punished by not being allowed to couple with his soul-mate in the afterlife either.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Torah and Sefer HaLikutim; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."

Souls of Spies and Princes

From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky

Please Note: The bold text is the direct translation of the classic text source. The regular text is the explanation of the editor/translator

Joseph's brothers were reincarnated as the spies sent into Israel

The portion of the Torah read this week opens with the story of the princes of each tribe who were sent to spy out the land of Israel before the Jewish people entered it. Joseph said to them, You are spies…

Commenting on the verse, "And Joseph said to them, 'You are spies…'" (Gen. 42:9) our Sages said that Joseph was hinting to his brothers that they would [be reincarnated and] spy out the land of Israel, but that Joshua - the prince of the tribe of Ephraim, the son of Joseph, would not be a [reincarnated] spy.

The patriarch Jacob had twelve sons, each of which became the progenitor of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. When Joseph told his brothers, "you are spies", he was in effect telling them that all eleven of them (including his brother Levi) would be reincarnated as the spies who spied out the land. The Arizal will explain how this worked, seeing that no spy was sent from the tribe of Levi.

Based on this, we will be able to understand this passage very well. Let us first note that when the Torah refers to the princes of Israel in an earlier passage (Num. 1:16) they are called "the heads of the thousands of Israel", whereas in this passage [about the spies] they are called "the heads of the children of Israel". (Num. 13:3)

The reason for this discrepancy is as follows: When G‑d foresaw that these princes would sin and that Moses wished to send them, He devised a way to fortify them, minimizing and rectifying, somewhat, the evil they would do. He therefore decreed that the souls of the actual sons of Jacob, the brothers of Joseph, who were literally "the children of Israel [i.e. Jacob]" would be infused into the [souls] of these spies, so that [their holiness would] help them not to sin completely. Nevertheless, this did not help them.

Jacob was also known as "Israel", so the phrase "the children of Israel", while usually denoting the Jewish people as a whole, may also be literally understood to mean "the sons of Jacob".

The infusion of the souls of the sons of Jacob, above, is an example of "ibur", literally "impregnation", a specific type of reincarnation, in which the soul being reincarnated does not become the full and only soul of the body into which it is incarnated, but is rather "grafted" onto the soul already present. The result is that the soul of the individual retains its intrinsic consciousness and identity, but its powers are augmented by those of the impregnated soul it "hosts".

This is the mystical meaning of the verse, "They were all men, the heads of the children of Israel were they", (Ibid. 13:3) i.e. they themselves were the [progenitors of the] tribes, who were in fact the "heads" of the Jewish people.

The word "head" also may mean "beginning".

This is also the mystical meaning of the verse "[Send for yourself men who will spy out the land of Canaan] that I am giving to the children of Israel". The verb "am giving" is in the present tense, meaning: "These men whom you are now sending to spy out the land that I am giving now to the Children of Israel are themselves the [progenitors of the] tribes, who are called 'the sons of Israel'. I will give it to them in the merit of this expedition, if they deserve it."

The soul of Joseph was impregnated into the spy of the tribe of Menashe…

Now, the eleven [souls of the progenitors of the] tribes [besides Joseph] were infused into the eleven spies. Since the tribe of Levi did not have any portion in the Land, they did not need to send a spy.

The tribe of Levi was not meant to make their living by farming or pasturing the land; their "job" was to serve as priests and Levites in the Temple and teach the Torah to the rest of the people. They lived off their sacrificial dues in the Temple, the various produce tithes, and so forth, which the other tribes were required to give them. They lived in special cities that were set aside for them, which were surrounded by parks, but they possessed no agricultural territory. Thus, since they were not "interested" in the land per se, no representative of their tribe was sent to spy out the Land of Israel.

In its place, the tribe of Joseph was divided in two: Menashe and Ephraim.

Menashe and Ephraim were the two sons of Joseph. Before his death, Jacob made these two sons progenitors of tribes in order to keep the number of tribes twelve in the cases when the tribe of Levi would not be counted.,

The soul of Joseph was impregnated into the spy of the tribe of Menashe, it is therefore written: "Of the tribe of Joseph, of the tribe of Menashe…." (Ibid. 13:11)

In listing the princes of the tribes who were sent as spies, the idiom used in each case is "Of the tribe of X, so and so". Here, the name of the tribe (Menashe) is preceded by the phrase "of the tribe of Joseph". The tribe of Ephraim is mentioned earlier, so the phrase "of the tribe of Joseph" cannot be considered an introductory phrase that covers both tribes of Ephraim and Menashe. This phenomenon, the Arizal tells us, therefore alludes to the fact that the soul of Joseph was impregnated specifically into the prince of Menashe.

Even though in all cases Ephraim takes precedent over Menashe, Joseph was nonetheless associated with Menashe, in order to indicate what we have said.

When Jacob split Joseph into two tribes, he made a point of giving Ephraim precedence over Menashe, even though Menashe was the firstborn.

Thus, Joshua was left as the spy of the tribe of Ephraim, without the impregnation of [a progenitor of] any tribe. Moses was therefore afraid to send him, lest he sin. Therefore, Moses "called Hoshea bin Nun, 'Joshua'".

Joshua's given name was "Hoshea", but Moses changed it to "Joshua" at this time. In Hebrew the sole difference between the consonantal spelling of these two names is the addition of the letter yud to Hoshea, making "Yehoshua".

[He did this,] as our Sages say, praying for him: "May G‑d spare you from the scheme of the spies." (Sotah 34b)

The name "Hoshea" means "salvation". The addition of the letter yud to the name "Hoshea" makes the word begin with the two-letter name of G‑d, Y-ah (yud-hei). The name "Joshua" may thus be interpreted to mean "May G‑d save".

Moses thereby drew into Joshua the soul of Levi…

The mystical meaning of calling him this new name is that [Moses thereby] drew into [Joshua] the soul of Levi, the son of Jacob, whose soul had not been impregnated into the prince of his tribe, as we mentioned. It was specifically Moses who was able to do this, for he [as the head of the tribe of Levi] should have gone on this mission and been the spy for the tribe of Levi. Instead, he sent Joshua, his student, in his place, for [one's student] is considered the same as his son, as is known. Thus, the soul of Levi, which should have been impregnated into Moses, became impregnated into Joshua.

We can now better understand a difference in the expression that occurs in this passage: First, G‑d says, "Send for yourself", addressing Moses in the singular. Later [in the same verse], He says, "Send one man from each of their ancestral tribes", addressing him in the plural.

In English there is no difference between the singular and plural imperative or single and plural second-person future. (In archaic English, there is "send you" and "send ye", and "you will send" and "ye will send", but there is no such distinction in modern English.) But in Hebrew, the first "send" in this verse is in the singular ("shelach"), while the second "send" ("tishlachu") is in the plural.

Furthermore, the expression "for yourself" seems to be superfluous.

In truth, however, these inconsistencies allude to what we have said. G‑d at first was referring to the greatest of all the emissaries, that of the tribe of Levi - Moses. He said to him: "Send for yourself", i.e. since you yourself are not going, send someone else in your place. In reference to the rest of the tribes, however, G‑d addressed Moses in the plural.

In sending out the other spies, Moses was acting on behalf of and as the representative of the whole Jewish people. He is therefore referred to in the plural.

Even an individual's own soul withdraws from him when he sins…

Moses then sent Joshua [in his place] and drew into him the soul of Levi, as we said.

Now, while [the spies] scouted out the Land, they plotted an evil scheme, that is, to denigrate the Land. Therefore, the souls of the [progenitors of the] tribes that had been impregnated into them departed from them. As is known, a soul that attaches itself to a person via "reincarnation" [gilgul] does not depart from him until he dies (Shaar HaGilgulim, beginning of introduction 5), but one that enters into a person via "impregnation" [ibur] withdraws from him when he sins. It says: "Withdraw now from above the tents of these wicked people!" (Num. 16:26) As a matter of fact, even an individual's own soul withdraws from him when he sins. This is the mystical meaning of our sages' statement that "The wicked even in their lifetime are called 'dead'" (Berachot 18b).

This is alluded to in the verse "And they went and they came to Moses and Aaron". (Num. 13:26) [The words "and they went" seem to refer to the spies' expedition into the Land of Israel.] But we have already been told [in the preceding verse] that "they returned from scouting out the Land", so why does the narrative mention again their going, now that they have already come back? The verse should have simply stated, "And they came to Moses".

The answer is that the phrase "and they went" refers to the departure of those [impregnated] souls, and the next phrase "and they came" refers again to the spies themselves. When they came to Moses, the impregnated souls had already departed from them.

[These spies were then punished and died,] but, we are told, "Joshua and Caleb remained alive from these men". (Ibid. 14:38) Now, the word "remained alive" does not seem to be appropriate here.

The reason why it is nonetheless used is to indicate that in the case of these two, their impregnated souls did not depart from them. These were the souls of Judah in Caleb and Levi in Joshua.

Since Joshua and Caleb did not participate in the sin of the spies (i.e. did not denigrate the Land of Israel and discourage the people from entering it, there was no reason for their impregnated souls to depart from them.

They therefore possessed an extra measure of life force. Thus, the expression for "lived" is used in reference to them, rather than "survived."

The other spies, however, "died" as soon as they came to Moses, inasmuch as their impregnated souls departed from them, for "the wicked even in their lifetime are considered dead", as above. This is why [the narrative contrasts Joshua and Caleb with them, saying] "from among these men", which appears superfluous.

This is also alluded to in the verse: "And My servant Caleb, since there was a different spirit with him". (Ibid. 14:24) This refers to the fact that in the other spies there was a different spirit of the impregnated souls of the [progenitors of the] tribes in them. They did not "remain loyal to Me", and therefore departed [from their respective descendents].

The phrase "remained loyal to Me" is from the verse just quoted describing Caleb, and literally means "fulfilled after Me". The Arizal is thus saying that the impregnated souls of the sons of Jacob did not complete the task for which they were impregnated. This was not their fault, of course, so no blame is intended to be imputed to them.

Caleb…prostrated himself in prayer on the graves of the forefathers in Hebron…

With regard to Caleb, however, there was from the outset a different spirit of the impregnated soul of Judah with him, and he therefore did not sin. He therefore "remained loyal to Me" and stayed as loyal at the end as he was at the beginning.

The reason these two [Joshua and Caleb had a "different spirit" with them] was because in the case of Joshua, Moses' prayer was effective, as was his permanent name-change. Caleb's own prayer was effective, for we are taught that he prostrated himself [in prayer] on the graves of the forefathers in Hebron. He therefore did not sin with regard to the [other spies'] evil scheme.

We have explained elsewhere (Shaar HaGilgulim, introduction 36) that Caleb was a reincarnation of Eliezer, the servant of Abraham.

This would add significance to the fact that he went to pray at the graves of the forefathers.

[Although Eliezer hailed from accursed seed, when Laban said to him,] "Come in, O blessed one of G‑d", (Gen. 24:31) he went out of the category of the cursed and entered the category of the blessed.

Eliezer was a Canaanite, a descendant of Canaan, whose seed Noah cursed to be a servant caste. (Ibid. 10:25-26)

It appears to me, Chaim [Vital], that this is alluded to in the verse, "And My servant Caleb", meaning that he was originally a Canaanite servant, i.e. cursed, but was now "My servant", i.e. blessed.

chanoch's Commentary

It would be good to learn as to why the 10 Tribal Progenitor Souls were not successful. In my opinion, the reason is the Torah avoids embarrassing people and souls.

Caleb, the Cave & the Curse of Canaan

From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky

Kabbalah teaches that Caleb's soul root was to rectify G-d's manifestation in This World.

Of the twelve spies sent to spy out the land, as described in the beginning of this parasha, only Caleb and Joshua remained faithful to G‑d's mission. The rest fell prey to their fear of the land and its inhabitants.

Regarding the mystical significance of Caleb, the son of Yefuneh, I first found it written that the numerical value of "Calav, the son of [King] David" (Samuel II 3:3) is [53] the same as the numerical value of [one of the spellings-out of] the name Havayah [plus the kolel].

"Calav" is spelled: kaf-lamed-alef-beit = 20 + 30 + 1 + 2 = 53.

The name Havayah, as we have seen previously, is spelled out in 4 basic ways, such that it yields the numerical values of 72, 63, 45, and 52. The above equals the name referred to as "Ban", 52: yud-vav-dalet hei-hei vav-vav hei-hei = (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 5) + (6 + 6) + (5 + 5) = 52.

I then found it written that this is [also] the mystical significance of Caleb, the son of Yefuneh. It could well be that they are both incarnations of the same soul.

The numerical value of "Caleb" is exactly 52: kaf-lamed-beit = 20 + 30 + 2 = 52.

Know that the soul of Caleb originated in that of Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, for Eliezer left the curse of "cursed be Canaan" (Gen. 9:25) when Laban said to him "Come, O blessed of G‑d." Had this not been decreed in heaven, it would not have been recorded in the Torah. At this point, [Eliezer] became blessed.

Eliezer was a descendant of Canaan, the fourth son of Noah's son Ham. Noah cursed Canaan after Ham castrated Noah. In the same episode, Noah blessed his son Shem: "Blessed be G‑d, the G‑d of Shem."

Eliezer's transference from cursed to blessed allowed him to be reincarnated as Caleb….

Abraham sent Eliezer to his nephew, Bethuel, to find a match for his son, Isaac. We are told that Eliezer in fact wanted his daughter to marry Isaac, but Abraham told him, "You are cursed [because you are a descendent of Canaan] and I am blessed [because I am a descendent of Shem]. He who is cursed cannot cling to he who is blessed." (See Rashi on Gen. 24:39)

Bethuel's son was Laban, Rebecca's brother. Although Laban was wicked, and therefore his words could not affect reality the way a righteous person's can, the Arizal says that the fact that the Torah takes the trouble to record Laban's greeting means that it in this case, the reverse was true: because on the spiritual level, Eliezer had already been gone from being cursed to being blessed, Laban was able to intuit this and unknowingly articulated it, thereby causing it to take effect on the physical plane, as well.

Eliezer's transference from cursed to blessed allowed him to be reincarnated as Caleb.

Therefore, because of this ascent that he [accomplished in Eliezer] when he said "Come, O blessed of G‑d," [Laban] was reincarnated as Naval the Carmelite. [This is indicated by the fact that] the letters that spell their names are the same.

"Laban" is spelled: lamed-beit-nun; "Naval" is spelled: nun-beit-lamed.

Naval the Carmelite was Abigail's first husband, before she married King David. (Samuel I 25) Her son through King David was Calav, mentioned above. (Samuel II 3:3)

Therefore our sages stated on the verse, "For the choirmaster, upon the death of Laban" (Psalms 9:1), that Laban [in this verse] is actually Naval. (Midrash Tehilim 9:17)

This is also alluded to by the fact that Caleb is called "the son of Yefuneh", i.e. the "son" of [Laban] the one who said, "I have emptied [in Hebrew, 'paniti'] the house."

When Laban invited Eliezer into his home, he said, "Come, O blessed of G‑d. Why do you stand outside? I have emptied the house and there is place for the camels." (Gen. 24:31) Rashi on this verse says that the words "I have emptied the house" mean "I have removed all the idols, so you can now enter it."

The root of the word for "I have emptied" ("paniti") is "paneh", which is also the root of the name Yefuneh. By calling Caleb "the son of Yefuneh", the Torah thus alludes mystically to the fact that Caleb was a reincarnation ("son") of the one who emptied his house, Laban.

The Sages further stated that [the name Yefuneh alludes to the fact that Caleb] "turned away from the scheme of the spies." (Sotah 11b)

The root "paneh" also means "to turn away".

Through Laban's blessing, Eliezer was reincarnated into Caleb….

Through Laban's blessing, Eliezer was reincarnated into Caleb, and is therefore considered Laban's "son".

chanoch adds: Consider the spiritual law of cause and effect.

The mystical significance of Caleb is that the numerical value of his name is the same as that of the name Havayah when spelled out to equal 52 [as stated above].

The mystical significance of this name is that it is "the spirit that enters the female" [in order to enable it] to arouse [the male with] feminine waters. As we explained [in reference to the Zohar's statement that] "there is no arousal of feminine waters until a spirit from the male enters her."

As we have seen previously, the four spellings-out of the name Havayah correspond to the four partzufim Abba, Imma, Zeir Anpin, and Nukva. Thus, the name Havayah whose numerical value is 52 corresponds to the feminine principle, Nukva.

"Feminine waters" is the Zoharic term for "arousal from below", the recipient's arousal of the giver to give.

This is the mystical correlate to the first marital intercourse [between a couple], for our sages have noted that "a woman cannot become pregnant from her first marital union." (Yevamot 34a )

chanoch adds: Question: Is the paragraph above and below revealing truth? If not how do we relate HaShem's Name of Truth – the Sefira of Yesod to the Talmud?

"To become pregnant" here is mystically understood to mean "to be able to produce a spiritual arousal" of the male. In the first, virginal intercourse, the male seed does not impregnate the female, and she cannot produce.

This name alludes to malchut as she is postured back to back [with Zeir Anpin], for then "she separates his and her arms and legs [from each other]." Therefore, this name [takes the form of] four opposite four, i.e. four letters on the masculine side and four on the feminine side, to indicate his and her arms and legs.

Presumably in this depiction, the vav-dalet of the spelling out of the yud is considered one letter. We thus have:

masculine = yud – hei – vav – hei

feminine = vav-dalet – hei – vav – hei

Based on the mystical meaning of this name, Benjamin was called "the son of the right." Of him, it is written, "When [Rachel's] soul departed [in childbirth], for she died, she named him 'Ben-oni' [literally 'the son of my affliction'], but [Jacob] his father, called him Benjamin." (Gen. 35:18)

Benjamin was the last son born to Jacob, and the only one born in the Land of Israel, which lies south of Padan-Aram (modern-day Syria), where all his other sons were born. Therefore, in order to change his son's name to one that had positive connotations yet still preserved some alliteration to the name Rachel gave him, he called him "the son of the right" (in Hebrew, "ben-yamin"), for the in the Torah's orientation (that of a person standing in the holy of holies and looking outward toward the world), the south is on the left.

Rachel personified Nukva, the feminine archetype….

Now, the numerical value of the Hebrew word for "son", "ben", is 52 (ben is spelled: beit-nun = 2 + 50 = 52). Thus, the names given by Rachel and Jacob to Benjamin in this verse can be understood to mean "The spelling-out of the name Havayah that equals 52 is my affliction" and "The spelling-out of the name Havayah that equals 52 is on the right", respectively.

For this name arouses feminine waters [as we have said], and is therefore called "her soul."

As we have seen previously, Rachel personified Nukva, the feminine archetype. The phrase "When her soul departed" can thus mean, "when the 52-Name departs the female."

chanoch adds: To clarify the 52-Name is connected to Malchut also called Daughter and or Female.

Since, however, this name indicates the posture of back-to-back, it is easy for the powers of evil to gain a foothold through it.

When Zeir Anpin and Nukva are back-to-back, their attention and energies are not focused on each other. It is thus a prime opportunity for the powers of evil to try to divert some of their energies to themselves.

This lack of communication was the proverbial recipe for disaster….

Interestingly, we are taught that Rachel had hidden her father Laban's idols in her saddle in the vain hope that this would force him to give up idolatry. She had not told Jacob about this plan, however, and therefore, when Laban accused him of stealing his idols, Jacob said, "The one with whom you find your idols will die," and from that curse, Rachel died later in childbirth. Rachel's failure to include her husband in her scheme recalls Adam's failure to communicate with Eve and indicated a lack of communication - a back-to-back stature - between them. This lack of communication was the proverbial recipe for disaster, the opportunity for the forces of evil to cause tragic damage.

chanoch adds: As a student of Kabbalah – When you hear the term “back-to-back” did you substitute the image of a “lack of communication” as its meaning.

His mother therefore called him "the son of my affliction."

This was because this Name indicates the back-to-back posture.

But his father called him Benjamin, in order to connect him to the right side, i.e. reflecting the fact that the numerical value of the word for "please" [in Hebrew, "ana"] is also 52.

Jacob was thus associating Benjamin with a positive aspect of the value 52, instead of the less favorable association of 52 with the spelling-out of the Name that is prone to invasion by evil. The word for "please" used here is the word used in prayers for G‑d's mercy and kindness, thus focusing on the right side of the sefirotic tree, the side of chesed.

"Ana" is spelled: alef-nun-alef = 1 + 50 + 1 = 52.

[This supplication] is the self-sacrifice we espouse in Tachanun.

Tachanun ["supplications"] is the part of the liturgy that follows the Standing Prayer in the weekday Morning and Afternoon Prayers, consisting of various appeals for G‑d's mercy on us as individuals and as a nation. In the verses and prayers that compose this liturgy, we make repeated mention of the fact that we have throughout history many times given up our lives for G‑d, and in this merit we ask G‑d to show us mercy today.

chanoch adds: Tachanun is said in the afternoon after the Amidah on days that are not positive days. Kabbalists when making connection to the Tzadikim who left that particular day deem it a positive day and do not say Tachanun. This is why we have a list of Tzadikim on the yeshshem web site.

Thus, the combined numerical value of the initials of [the highlighted words in] the phrase, "Unto You, O G‑d, I lift up my soul; my G‑d…" (Psalms 25:1-2) is 52.

The highlighted words are: nafshi esa Elo-hai, the initials of which are nun-alef-alef = 50 + 1 + 1 = 52.

In this connection, we will now explain the mystical significance of Tachanun, in which the supplicant falls to the world of Asiya from the world of Atzilut, where he was during the Standing Prayer.

Let us first note with regard to the following three spellings-out of the name Havayah:

Yud-vav-dalet hei-yud vav-alef-vav hei-yud indicates the supernal [partzuf of] Imma, which rests in the "Throne" [i.e. the world of Beriya].

The numerical value of this spelling out is (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 10) + (6 + 1 + 6) + (5 + 10) = 63.

Yud-vav-dalet hei-alef vav-alef-vav hei-alef indicates Zeir Anpin, which rests in [the world of] Yetzira.

The numerical value of this spelling out is (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 1) + (6 + 1 + 6) + (5 + 1) = 45.

And Yud-vav-dalet hei-hei vav-vav hei-hei indicates malchut, which rests in [the world of] Asiya.

The numerical value of this spelling out is (10 + 6 + 4) + (5 + 5) + (6 + 6) + (5 + 5) = 52.

Now, when [the Psalmist] says, "Unto You, O G‑d, I lift up my soul," he connects Asiya with Yetzira and Yetzira with Beriya, via these three names.

"My soul", we said, was the soul of Nukva, the 52-Name. This is "lifted up" through prayer to the 45-Name and the 63-Name, which are associated with Yetzira and Beriya, respectively.

Then, [the soul enters] malchut of Atzilut, i.e. the 52-Name within [Atzilut].

Through Tachanun, the soul re-ascends into the world of Atzilut from which it fell….

Just as the four spellings out correspond to the four worlds, they also correspond to the four levels of each world. The 52-Name thus corresponds to the world of Asiya in general and also to the sub-world of Asiya within the general world of Atzilut, i.e. with malchut of Atzilut. Thus, through Tachanun, the soul re-ascends into the world of Atzilut from which it fell after finishing the Standing Prayer.

It then becomes "feminine waters".

Once it assumes the identity of the feminine archetype of Atzilut, it can arouse the male archetype, Zeir Anpin, to channel divine beneficence to it.

The soul "falls" after the Standing Prayer because the intense awareness of G‑d it achieves therein, i.e. the consciousness of the world of Atzilut, makes it keenly aware of its shortcomings in the "real world," i.e. its day-to-day affairs in life. This awareness is brought into full relief only when compared with the ideal divine consciousness achieved in the Standing Prayer.

Now, by understanding the mystical meaning of Benjamin that I have explained, we can understand why Rachel was not buried in the Cave [of Machpelah].

Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah were all buried in the Machpelah cave in Hebron. Rachel, in contrast, was buried to the north, at the outskirts of Bethlehem.

To explain: the whole mystical meaning of burial is that an entity disappears into another entity lower than it.

When Jacob was buried, he disappeared into Yetzira; when Rachel was buried, she disappeared into Asiya; when Leah was buried, she disappeared into Beriya.

All three began in Atzilut, but they each "fell" to differing degrees. Inasmuch as Jacob personified Zeir Anpin, the midot of Atzilut, he fell into the world of the midot, Yetzira. Leah personified Imma, the intellect, so she fell into the world of intellect, Beriya. Rachel personified Nukva, expression, so she fell into the world of expression, Asiya.

chanoch adds: To understand this above commentary paragraph requires hours of discussion and contemplation.

Now, had not Jacob's descent been preceded by Benjamin's birth and Rachel's [untimely] death, in which "her soul departed, for she died", it would have been possible for Asiya to disappear [back] into Yetzira and Yetzira [back] into Beriya. All of their souls would have then been able to converse with each other.

The circumstances surrounding Rachel's death meant that she had lost her connection to Jacob. Had she merely fallen to Asiya but still retained her connection to Jacob, she would have been able to use that connection to ascend back to Yetzira (where he fell to) and then with him back up to Beriya (where Leah was).

But Rachel's spirit had already departed, and the spirit he had given her did not remain so that he might communicate with her.

In a sense, she had reverted to her virginal status, her connection to her husband not being able to produce any arousal in him, as we described above.

Therefore she was buried on the road, and Jacob disappeared [when he died] [back] into Beriya with Leah, and the two of them converse together [in the cave].

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sefer HaLikutim."

Who is a Servant of Whom

The mystical dimension of why the commandment of tzitzit-fringes applies only to garments which are four-cornered.

From the Ohr HaChaim commentary by Rabbi Chaim (ben Moshe) ibn Attar

"Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them that they shall make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations, and they shall affix a thread of sky blue [wool] on the fringe of each corner." (Numbers 15:38)

...the fringes are a symbol of our being servants of the L‑rd...

Now we shall try to understand the mystical dimension of why this whole commandment applies only to garments which are four-cornered. Inasmuch as the fringes are a symbol of our being servants of the L‑rd, G‑d commanded that the symbol should also testify as to Who is our Master. Other nations too have their symbols by means of which they can identify who is a servant of whom. G‑d decreed therefore that we must not attach these fringes to garments which are not four-cornered, so as to symbolize that we are the servants of the Master Whose Kingdom extends to the four corners of the globe. This symbolism would be lost if we attached fringes to three-cornered or rounded garments.

G‑d commanded that the threads be white to symbolize G‑d’s attributes of Mercy and goodness, something traditionally symbolized by the color white. The color blue symbolized G‑d’s mastery in the Celestial Regions, seeing the color blue is similar to the color of the sky.

The number of threads i.e. 8 or 4 folded over, also symbolize His Holy name of four letters. His uniqueness in His Sanctuary is equivalent to the number 8, i.e. a combination of two of His names, Y-H-V-H plus A-D-N-Y.

According to Menachot (39) it is a mystical dimension of the halacha that the knot with which the blue thread is tied together with the white threads symbolized the mystical dimensions of kindness and mercy respectively. This is the mystical dimension of what constitutes heaven, related to our patriarch Jacob who represents the attribute of tiferet, harmony.

...the blue thread winds around the white threads, i.e. mercy coils itself around kindness, love.

Kabbalists who have studied the mystical elements of the written Torah claim that the attribute of tiferet yearns for the attribute of chesed, kindness, the quality attributed to Abraham. This is the reason that the blue thread winds around the white threads, i.e. mercy coils itself around kindness, love. The relationship of the two is similar to the relationship of ruach to neshama.

I wanted to explain why G‑d did not permit any blue except that which is derived from a fish which comes out of the sea, and not from any other source which is itself blue. Perhaps this is what the Sages meant when they said in Chulin (89) that the sea resembles the sky.

We should also understand that mercy is rooted in the Torah which itself is allegorically compared to the sea.

Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of "Ohr HaChaim: the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar" by Eliyahu Munk.

From the Ohr HaChaim commentary by Rabbi Chaim (ben Moshe) ibn Attar

Holy Shadows

There exists a spiritual shadow which foretells one's demise.

From Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman's commentary on the Torah

Their shadow [in Hebrew, 'tzilam'] is removed from them (Num. 14:9)

Their shadow is removed from them - that is, their shield and their strength [are departed from them]. The worthy ones among them have died. Another interpretation: the shade [protection] of G‑d is departed from them. (Rashi)

It is possible that Scripture is alluding to the well-known fact that there will be no shadow over the head of a person who is [destined] to die that year, on "the night of the seal".

This is a term signifying the night of Hoshana Rabbah when the "Heavenly seal" is put upon the judgment which was decided on the New Year and Day of Atonement for each individual and his fate in the coming year.

No nation falls unless its prince falls first….

Therefore it says, "their 'shadow' is already removed from them," meaning that death has been decreed upon them - "and the Eternal is with us," for it is He Who dwells in our midst and does miracles and wonders for us in the eyes of all who behold us; therefore, "fear them not."

Or it is possible that the verse alludes to the [heavenly] princes above, for no nation falls unless its prince falls first, as it is written, "The Eternal will punish the host of the high heaven on high…" (Isaiah 24:21) and afterwards, "…on the kings of the earth upon the earth," and as is explained in the Book of Daniel. Thus, the verse is saying, "the power under whose protection the nations [in the land of Canaan] live is already removed, and 'the Eternal' Who lowered them 'is with us', therefore 'fear them not'." And thus the Rabbis said in Midrash Shir Hashirim: "And the shadows flee away": These are the princes of the nations and their angels, for they are the protection over the nations.

[Adapted from Rabbi Dr. Charles Chavel's annotated translation.] From Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman's commentary on the Torah

chanoch's commentary

In the Kitve Ari = Writings of the Ari published by the Kabbalah Centre there is a description of this checking of the shadow ritual. A summary, from my memory of listening, to a translation, of this ritual is as follows: On Hoshana Rabah night after midnight, listen to the reading of all of the Sefer Devarim = Deuteronomy. Do this while living in mthe Sukah. Upon completion and go outside into the Light of the Moon. Allow this light to cast your shadow of a shadow upon a white sheet hanging on the wall. Someone with spiritual sight closes their eyes and then opens them slightly and views the shadow of the shadow = tzelem of the tzelem to determine if they see the Tzelem of the Tzelem is there and is whole. They also determine if there is any breaks in the Tzelem of the Tzelem. If so there are specific sections of the Zohar Pinchas to be read and the balance of the night is spent in Teshuvah. I have heard stories of this working. Also from my own personal knowledge know it to be a ritual with positive outcomes.

First Things First

Israel is distinguished by being "the beginning"

From Shenei Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz

Both the commandment of tzitzit and that of challah are included in this parasha and both are described as "heads". In the case of challah, the Torah says that it is to be taken "…from the first part of your doughs" [in Hebrew, "mireishit arisoteichem"]. (Num. 15:21) Bereishit Rabba explains that the word "reishit" means "on account of the challah"

.…Israel is separate from other nations…

The Rekanati describes the mystical dimension of this commandment as being the fact that the nation of Israel is called "first" [in Hebrew, "reishit"] relative to other nations. This does not only mean that Israel is first, but also that Israel is separate from other nations. Similarly, it is necessary when putting the dough inside the oven to separate the challah from the rest of the dough and burn it in the flames of the oven so as not to confront the attribute of justice/din in its greatest intensity.

This is the reason that this challah is referred to as "to Havayah a terumah", (Num. 15:21) i.e. a gift elevated to the attribute of Mercy. This is the deeper meaning of the statement in the Midrash that the word "Bereishit" means "on account of that gift which is called "reishit"(i.e. "challah"); blessing devolves upon the world because of the fulfillment of this commandment. The reason the challah is given to the priest is so that the blessing will come to rest on your houses. Thus far the Rekanati.

The commandment to make tzitzit also alludes to reishit. Tzitzit are made up of 32 strings, symbolizing the 32 "paths" which G‑d employed in bringing this universe into being, as we know from the first Mishna in the Sefer Yetzira, namely that "The beginning ("reishit") of all wisdom is a measure of reverence for G‑d". (Psalms 111:10) The word "bereishit" itself contains an allusion to chochma; the Targum Yerushalmi translates that word as "with wisdom".

The 32 strings of the tzitzit allude to "higher wisdom"…

Broadly speaking, the use of these terms is an allusion to He who is the beginning of all existence, prior to whom there is no other reishit. When G‑d "considered" revealing His being by creating the universe, the very beginning of such thoughts was synonymous with the final completion of the execution of His plan. In relation to the sefirot, these two stages are distinguished by two different terms: the primal thought (reishit hamachshava) is described as the chochma, or chochma elyona, whereas the completion of the state of execution (sof ma'aseh) is called malchut, or chochma tata'h - "lower wisdom". (The wisdom of King Solomon was described as being equivalent to this "lower wisdom".) It is also written "How great are Your works, G‑d, You have executed them all with wisdom." (Psalms 104:24) The 32 strings of the tzitzit allude to "higher wisdom". The beginning of "lower wisdom" is the domain of Knesset Yisrael, the concept of the united community of the Jewish People.

chanoch adds: Both the Mitzvah of Challah and the the Mitzvah are in this parasha. What is the connection between these 2 Mitzvot. Both relate to reshit = Chochmah = Wisdom. Yet there is a deeper connection. Both relate to sexual creativity. One from male and one from female. This is my opinion.

[Translated and adapted by Eliyahu Munk.] From Shenei Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz

By the Sweat of Your Brow

Kabbalah states that by eating, we elevate the holiness found in the food.

From Shenei Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz

Concerning challa, i.e. bread, the Torah tells us, "Man does not live by bread alone, rather on all that emanates from the mouth of G‑d." (Deut. 8:3) I have explained at length elsewhere, in the name of the Arizal, that this verse solves the riddle that has long puzzled scientists regarding how the intake of certain foods enables the soul to remain attached to the body, although the soul, by definition, does not need to eat.

Food is something both physical as well as spiritual….

The answer is that food is something both physical as well as spiritual. There simply is nothing on this earth that does not contain some spiritual input from the "higher" regions. Heavenly forces cause that spiritual potential to be activated down here on earth. This is why the soul can also benefit from those spiritual ingredients in food, just as the body derives strength from the foods' nutrients. Because of this, the soul remains attached to the body as long as the body receives sufficient food of the right kind. This is what is meant by the above quoted statement that man does not live by bread alone.

It means that the body is maintained by the physical composition of the food, i.e. bread, as one can see. Over and above that, life is maintained, i.e. the soul is kept going, by the invisible spiritual elements in food, i.e. G‑d's command, for those spiritual elements to become active within the person.

The Torah therefore commanded us to set aside the challa, the portion to be given to the Kohen, or priest, "From the first portion of your dough you shall give a gift to the Lord in [all] your generations." (Num. 15:12); by fulfilling this commandment, the spiritual element in the bread should be "awakened" and contribute its share to maintaining our souls. Since the Kohen represents holiness, he is given this "holy" part of the bread. Since, ideally, this challa is set aside when the bread has not yet been baked but is merely dough, it is a method of refining our bread by adding sanctity to it before it is even baked. The bread thereby acts as a refining agent for both body and soul.

Adam, was considered as the challa of the universe….

The first man, Adam, was considered as the challa of the universe. (Jerusalem Talmud Shabbat 2) He was perfect in mind and body until he sinned and caused the curse: "[the earth] will sprout thorns and thistles for you…by the sweat of your brow will you eat bread." (Gen. 18-19) The net effect on the bread after challa has been set aside and has been given to the Kohen, is for a person to qualify for the blessing inherent in the verse, "bread will sustain man's life". (Psalms 104:15)

The commandment of tzitzit fulfills a similar function. It is directed to all four directions of the globe, and the total numerical value of the word, adding the eight threads of the actual fringes plus the five knots we tie when attaching them to the garment, give us a total of 613, reminding us of all the commandments of the Torah. They also act as a reminder of the Celestial Regions, a reminder of the soul which originates immediately beneath the "throne of G‑d". Our Sages have phrased it thus: "The blue wool resembles the ocean, the ocean resembles the color of the sky, the sky resembles the purity of the sapphire, and the sapphire resembles the throne of G‑d." (Chullin 89) We find therefore that this commandment is an instrument designed to refine the non-material, spiritual part of man, his Nefesh. The two prohibitions then are designed to prevent mental and physical excesses, to ensure that the Jew has a pure mind and body.

[Translated and adapted by Eliyahu Munk.] From Shenei Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz

From Mouth to Mouth

Why were some of Korach's group swallowed up by the earth while others were consumed by fire?

Translated and annotated by Rahmiel-Hayyim Drizin from PaRDeS HaBahir

For an explanation of the methodology of this series, see the introduction.

"The earth beneath them opened its mouth and swallowed them and their houses, and all the men who were with Korach and all the property." (Num. 16:32)

Peshat (basic meaning):

There is no Rashi on this verse.

Remez (hinted meaning):

Baal HaTurim:"Ha’adam asher l’Korach/The men who were with Korach"

The final letters of these words in reverse order spell 'charem/condemned'. This teaches that they were condemned because they joined with Korach.

...they were condemned because they joined with Korach.

Derash (interpretive meaning):

Targum Yehonatan: (verse 34)

"And all Israel who were round about them fled from the terror of their voices, as they cried and said, Righteous is the Lord, and His judgment is truth, and the words of His servant Moses are truth; but we are wicked who have rebelled against him: and the children of Israel fled when they heard; for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up."

Raba bar bar Chana: Once I was travelling, and our guide showed us where Korach and his cohorts were swallowed. There were two crevices. Smoke was exuding. The guide soaked wool in water, put it on the end of a spear and put it inside; it became singed. I was able to hear them saying 'Moses and his Torah are true, they (Korach and his congregation) are liars.' Every 30 days Purgatory returns them to here, like meat in a frying pan, and they say this. (Sanhedrin 110a)

Ramban: "All the men" were not his sons, for they were adults, righteous and good men, and their own merit stood in their stead so they were not swept away with their father. However, Korach had non-Jewish slaves and had purchased Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Canaanites as members of his household, and they were punished as part of their possessions — those of Korach's men — for they were punished both in their persons and their bodies. Perhaps there were some Israelites as sojourners in Korach's house, and they were influenced by his counsel and were punished.

Lubavitcher Rebbe: Why were some of Korach's group swallowed up by the earth while others were consumed by fire? (v. 35) Korach's rebellion was an attempt to upset the healthy balance between the desire for spirituality and the need for action in the physical world. Thus those members of the group who overemphasized the spiritual were consumed by fire from above, whereas those who had distorted the importance of physical deeds were swallowed up by the earth from below. In this vein, the Mishnah describes Korach's deeds as "not for the sake of Heaven". (Avot 5:17) The Hebrew word for heaven, Shamayim, is composed of the words Aish/fire and Mayim/water. (Gen. 1:8, Rashi) This alludes to the fact that Korach's group wished to challenge "heaven" — namely the ability to harmonize the dynamic tension of soul and body, of fire and water.

Sod (esoteric, mystical meaning):

... it was Moses' decree that the earth needs to open her mouth.

Zohar Balak 209:

Rabbi Aba asked a difficult question. It is written: "And the earth opened her mouth" (Num. 16:32) and it is written: "And G d opened the mouth of the ass." Why the difference between the earth and the ass? Why is it not written that 'G d opened the mouth of the earth'? It is only that there, it was Moses' decree that the earth needs to open her mouth. And the earth performed the command of Moses by opening. It is not proper that G d should carry out an instruction commanded by Moses, seeing that Moses has decreed and instructed: "And the earth opens her mouth". (Ibid. 16:30) Hence, it performed the command, as written: "And the earth opened her mouth." However, here [concerning Balaam], there was no one who had decreed that it was only the wish of the Holy One, blessed be He. Since that was His desire, it is written: "And G d opened the mouth of the ass." It originated with him and through him, it occurred.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: "And the earth opened her mouth"

Korach used the power of speech not for holy purposes. The Midrash says he offered hypothetical questions to Moses: (1) why an all-blue tallit needs a single additional thread of blue, or (2) why a house full of holy writings needs a Mezuzah containing a sacred writing on its doorpost.

Korach's desire for illusory greatness, emerging out of his disappointment in his lot in life, "took him over" and caused him to play a dangerous game with G d's appointed leadership. His punishment was therefore 'mida-kineged-mida', tit for tat, just desserts. His main weapon was his mouth, and he was punished by The Mouth.

There is a Korach-complex inside all of us, as there is a Moses, a Aaron, as well as 250 sub-personalities needing a self-sense of being above the rest, broken shards of human beings competing to be invited to the important gatherings, fragmented pieces of the self valuing fame and reputation above humility and integrity.

May we seek connection over greatness and inner strength over external material manifestation. Amen