130 Evil Years

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

Kabbalah teaches how Jacob greatly rectified the sexual transgressions of Adam

In this parasha, Jacob emigrates from the Land of Israel to Egypt. Joseph presents him to Pharaoh, who asks him how old he is. Jacob answers:

"The days of the years of my journey [on earth]are one hundred and thirty years; the [quality of the]days of the years of my life have been few and evil, and they cannot compare to the days of the years of my fathers' lives in the days of their journeys [on earth]." (Gen. 47:9)

Why did [Jacob] call [the days of his life] "few and evil"?

To answer: Know that Adam was reincarnated in the Patriarchs, and that is why they are called "the fathers", after Adam, who was the first father.

Adam's Nefesh was reincarnated into Abraham, his Ruach into Isaac, and his Neshama into Jacob…

Adam was the father of all humanity, and the Patriarchs were the fathers of the Jewish people, the line of humanity selected to fulfill G‑d's intentions in Creation. For this purpose, they were endowed with the spiritual capacities necessary to fulfill this purpose; their creation as a people can therefore be compared to the creation of humanity as a whole, and their progenitors to humanity's progenitor.

It is explained in the Zohar (Tikunei Zohar 69, 70) that Adam's Nefesh was reincarnated into Abraham, his Ruach into Isaac, and his Neshama into Jacob.

As will soon be explained, the Patriarchs rectified the collapse of spiritual consciousness Adam precipitated by his sin. In so doing, they had to reconstruct divine consciousness from the bottom up. Thus, Abraham began with the lowest level of the soul, the Nefesh, which is the animating, vital force in the body; Isaac continued with the Ruach, the emotional life force; and Jacob continued with the Neshama, the intellectual life force.

It is also explained in the Zohar (III:111b, in Ra'aya Mehemna) that Abraham rectified the sin of idolatry, Isaac the sin of murder, and Jacob the sin of sexual licentiousness.

These are the three cardinal sins, which the Torah instructs us to give up our lives for rather than transgress (unless it is a case of a government trying to snuff out Judaism altogether, in which case we must give up our lives rather than committing any sin, however "small").

Adam, in a certain sense, transgressed all three of these cardinal prohibitions in committing the primordial sin. (Megaleh Amukot 144) Transgressing G‑d's command was denying Him; this was akin to idolatry. Inasmuch as this sin brought death upon the whole human race, it was akin to murder. By committing the sin, he plunged the souls of all humanity into the realm of evil; this is akin to adultery - or sexual licentiousness in general - which misdirects reproductive seed or creativity into realms where they are not meant to be.

Someone who does not procreate …does not utilize his sexuality properly…

Abraham rectified the sin of idolatry by smashing his father's idols and promulgating monotheism in the world. Isaac rectified the sin of murder by submitting himself to be killed by his father. Jacob rectified the sin of sexual licentiousness by working for fourteen years for his wives Rachel and Leah, thereby redeeming their souls from the realm of evil into which they had been cast by Adam's sin.

It is also explained in the Zohar (Tikunei Zohar 2) that when Jacob descended to Egypt, it was only then that Adam's soul was reincarnated in him.

Now, Adam sinned by wasting his seed during the first 130 years of his life, as we have explained.

After the sin, Adam separated from Eve for 130 years. Although this was an act of penitence for his sin, it backfired, because during this time he succumbed to sexual fantasies and had seminal emissions, which the forces of evil used to propagate demons.

Wasting seed is described [in Scripture] as "evil", as in the verse: "And Er, the firstborn of Judah, was evil in the eyes of G‑d." (Gen. 38:7)

He was called "evil" because he wasted his seed. (Rashi ad loc.)

both a level of consciousnr

chanoch adds: The name Er uses the same letters as the Hebrew word Rah which translates as evil. The phrase “eyes of God” can be both a level of consciousness or a race of Angels.

It is also written, "And the imagination of his heart's thoughts is only evil, the whole day." (Gen. 6:5)

This verse describes the state of humanity before G‑d sent the Flood. The Generation of the Flood was guilty, among other things, of sexual licentiousness. (See Gen. 6:1-4; Rashi on Gen. 6:11, 12, 13, 7:4)

It is also written, "Woe to the wicked, the evil one." (Isaiah 3:11)

In the Zohar, this verse is interpreted to refer to someone who does not procreate, that is, does not utilize his sexuality properly. (Zohar Chadash, Midrash Rut, Piria veRivia)

[As we said,] Jacob set out to rectify the sin of sexual licentiousness, i.e. wasting seed and giving it over to Lil— and Na'am--, who are termed "nakedness", as is known.

This feminine evil takes the vital force of wasted seminal emissions and impregnates itself with it, producing demons…

As we have seen previously, these are the archetypal female demons, i.e. the power of evil to receive life force from the realm of holiness. This feminine evil takes the vital force of wasted seminal emissions and impregnates itself with it, producing demons, or forces of evil, i.e. anti-divine consciousness. The idiom for "sexual licentiousness", "gilui arayot", literally means "uncovering the nakedness" of a forbidden sexual partner.

His first 130 years therefore passed in suffering and exile, as is known.

Until he came to Egypt, Jacob's life was a long series of troubles. As Rashi lists them (commenting on Gen. 43:14): the trouble of Laban (who deceived him and tried to steal from him), the trouble with Esau (who tried to kill him), the trouble with Rachel (his favorite wife, who died in childbirth), the trouble with Dinah (who was raped by Shechem), the trouble with Joseph (his favorite son, who was sold and who he thought was dead), the trouble with Simeon (who was detained in Egypt), and the trouble with Benjamin (who Joseph demanded be brought to Egypt).

This is the meaning of "few and evil, one hundred thirty years". Since they were evil due to the suffering [he endured], Adam's sin of wasting seed for 130 years - termed "evil" - was rectified. When [these years] were completed, the soul of Adam entered him, for [Jacob] had by then rectified [these years].

It is then written, "And Jacob lived in Egypt for seventeen years." (Gen. 47:28) For at that point the living Neshama of Adam entered him. This is alluded to by the words "And Jacob lived".

These words imply that Jacob received a new influx of life-force, which, as we have seen, was the rectified soul of Adam.

This lasted for seventeen years, this being the numerical value of the word for "good" [in Hebrew, "tov"], indicating that the first 130 years were spent rectifying the evil, whereas the last 17 years were good, without evil.

"Tov" is spelled tet-vav-beit - 9 + 6 + 2 = 17. These years were the good years of Jacob's life, for he was reunited with Joseph and lived comfortably with his family, all of whom were loyal to Judaism.

And this is why Jacob descended to Egypt, for it was there that all the soul-sparks that Adam wasted [during those 130 years] were reincarnated, as we have explained elsewhere.

chanoch adds: Please remember the correction of Adam's mistakes is separate from the elevation of the sparks that fell into the Klipot from the worlds of tohu and Bohu.

[Adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaPesukim]

The Secret of Joseph

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

Kabbalah reveals the inner meaning behind the persona of Joseph.

The numerical value of "Joseph" [in Hebrew, "Yosef"] is 6 times that of the name Havayah.

"Yosef" is spelled: yud-vav-samech-pei = 10 + 6 + 60 + 80 = 156.

6 x 26 (the numerical value of Havayah) = 156.

The significance of these [six names Havayah] is as follows: We have explained in numerous contexts, including that of the commandment of circumcision in our discussion of parashat Lech Lecha, at length, that even though the five states of chesed spread throughout the body of Zeir Anpin, from chesed to yesod, nonetheless, the radiance of all the five states of chesed is absorbed in yesod; the five states of gevura descend into yesod as well.

The content of all the midot coalesces in yesod, where it is prepared to be transferred to expression in malchut.

Still, even though all five states of chesed and all five states of gevura descend [into yesod], their main states are the three revealed states of chesed, i.e. those present in tiferet, netzach, and hod, as is known.

The three revealed states of gevura are sweetened by the three revealed states of chesed….

As we have mentioned previously, yesod of Imma extends until the upper third of tiferet of Zeir Anpin, meaning that the drive of the intellect to express itself is present in the midot produced by the intellect as far as the intellectual aspect of tiferet. From that point on, the midot "take over", and the dominant consciousness is that of pure midot, with the intellectual rationale for the midot present only in the background.

The three [revealed] states of gevura are sweetened by the three [revealed] states of chesed there [i.e. in yesod].

True, all five states of gevura are given to the feminine [partzuf, Nukva,] i.e. into her daat, as is known. And so too, all the five states of chesed are transferred to the feminine [partzuf] during the coupling [of Zeir Anpin and Nukva], as a drop of "male water" [i.e. seed]. Nonetheless, since [the lower three states] are revealed lights, [only] their source and radiance remains in yesod.

Though all five states of chesed and gevura that make up the sub-sefirot of chesed-gevura-tiferet-netzach-hod of Zeir Anpin pass through its yesod, what remains in it is the lower midot, i.e. the summation of chesed and gevura in tiferet and the orientation of the midot outward in netzach and hod.

Joseph… personified yesod….

These [states] are the three names Havayah of the [revealed] states of chesed and [those of] the three [revealed] states of gevura. [These six names Havayah] are the numerical equivalent of "Joseph".

Joseph, as is known, personified yesod.

With this knowledge, you can understand why yesod is called "the second arbitrator", for the said reason, namely, that in it the three [revealed] states of chesed are intertwined with the three [revealed] states of gevura, which are thereby sweetened.

The first "arbitrator" is tiferet, which reconciles chesed and gevura. Here, yesod reconciles the states of chesed and gevura above it.

With this you can also understand why this sefira is called "yesod". The reason is that this sefira tends to the left, this being the mystical meaning of "the live end", referring to yesod tending toward Isaac, which is the left axis.

The name "Isaac", in Hebrew, "Yitzchak" (spelled yud-tzadik-chet-kuf) can be rearranged to spell "the live end" ("keitz chai", kuf-tzadik chet-yud). The midot are also known as the six "ends" or "extremities", inasmuch as they define the six directions of three-dimensional space. Yesod is the "alive" "end", for it undergoes change (growth and shrinkage), thus exhibiting the properties of life.

chanoch adds: In my opinion this commentary bears contemplating the following: Is life defined as change meaning growth and shrinkage? Here is a hint: In Hebrew growth is gidol for male – gedilah for female or Tzimichah. Shrinkage is Koitzot or Koitzah. Both are female. Change is many different words such as Hofech or Mishana – both verbs. One relates to time which is chesed the other relates to gevura. There are 4 additional verbs and 9 other words relating to different parts of speech.

The numerical value of the three states of gevura that remain in it, which are three names Havayah, is 78. Together with 1 for each of them, this sums to 81, the numerical value of "yesod" with the kolel.

3 x 26 = 78.

"Yesod" is spelled: yud-samech-vav-dalet = 10 + 60 + 6 + 4 = 80

The seven names…are called 'seven pearls'….

Another reason [this sefira] is called "yesod" is the following. What is written in the Zohar (II:92a, in Raya Mehemna) about the verse, "Remember the Shabbat day" (Ex. 20:8), concerning the seven names, is well-known. They are called "seven pearls", and the Shabbat is called "Y-ah Ado-nai".

These seven names are associated with the seven blessings of the Shabbat Standing Prayer (see third installment of parashat Tetzaveh), and that the fourth blessing of the Shabbat Standing Prayer, which is the only one that refers specifically to the Shabbat, is associated with the name Y-ah Ado-nai.

It is also known that the Shabbat is associated with yesod, which is called "the Seventh".

Normally, we associate the Shabbat with malchut, the seventh midah. However, in the context of Zeir Anpin, malchut is not truly a separate sefira, but is called "the crown of the yesod", associated physically with the glans of the male reproductive organ. Malchut comes into its own only as the full partzuf of Nukva. Thus, the "seventh" of the midot within Zeir Anpin - and therefore, the Shabbat as well - can still be considered to be part of yesod.

Therefore, the numerical value of "yesod" is the same as that of the names Y-ah Ado-nai.

"Yesod" = 80, as above.

"Y-ah Ado-nai" is spelled: yud-hei alef-dalet-nun-yud = (10 + 5) + (1 + 4 + 50 + 10) = 15 + 65 = 80.

These two names correspond to the two aspects with [yesod]: yesod [itself] and its "crown". Yesod itself is called "Y-ah", and its "crown" is called "Ado-nai".

Furthermore, the yesod of Leah and the yesod of Rachel are [signified by] two final mem's, the combined numerical value of which is also that of yesod.

Leah and Rachel are the two partzufim of Nukva, as we know. The female yesod, the womb, is indicated by a final, closed mem, which depicts a closed, empty space that will be filled by the male seed. The numerical value of mem is 40, so the 2 yesod's of Leah and Rachel equal together 80, the numerical value of "yesod".

This indicates that yesod couples with the two yesod's of Rachel and Leah.

[Adapted by Moshe Yakov Wisnefsky from Shaar HaPesukim, parashat Lech Lecha]

Retrieved from Exile

Kabbalah teaches that exile is a means of recovering lost holiness.

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

"Do not be afraid…for I will make you into a great nation there." (Gen. 46:3)

In order to understand the whole concept of exile, I must preface by quoting a tradition we have in the name of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his colleagues. (recorded in Likutei Torah, Miketz)

The purpose of the various exiles is to isolate elements of holiness which are scattered….

The purpose of the various exiles is to isolate elements of holiness which are scattered within various branches of the kelipa, the "peel" surrounding the kernel which is all sanctity. Inasmuch as Egypt was full of abominations [manifestations of such kelipa] and impurity had its "headquarters" in that country, it was no more than natural that many such segments of sanctity were scattered throughout that country. In fact, the amounts of such scattered segments of sanctity are usually proportionate to the amount of impurity and defilement that abound in a certain area or environment.

This phenomenon originated as soon as Adam sinned. It has been Israel's task to "rescue" all those splinters of sanctity and to make them part of a whole. Our sages have said that the nation that left Egypt and experienced the revelation at Mount Sinai was previously captive within this kelipa called Egypt. (Likutei Torah on parashat Vayeshev) It is to such a nation that Moses said, "Who is a great nation possessing such righteous statutes, etc." (Deut. 4:8)

G‑d told Jacob that the purpose of Israel spending time in exile in Egypt was to enable it to develop into this great nation. "The great nation" [all the fragments of holiness] at that time was "lost" amongst all the Egyptians, and it had to be isolated and then led out from there. Unless Jacob descended to Egypt at this time, there would be no hope of accomplishing this. It was because Jacob represented holiness in a powerful and concentrated form, that he could become the "magnet" which would attract the various scattered segments of sanctity that still abounded in Egypt in an ineffectual form.

This is the meaning of the statement in Bereshit Rabba (79:1) that Jacob did not depart from this world until he had seen 600,000 descendants. These 600,000 were the ones who endured persecution there and were ultimately refined in what our sages call the "iron crucible", which welded the Jewish people into a nation and enabled them to leave Egypt after having been refined.

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

King with a Purpose

Joseph prepared the way for the complete rectification of the entire world

From Shenei Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz

Regarding the rulership of Joseph, its only purpose was to enable the Jewish people to be forged into a single nation, and the kingdom of Judah [from David] to be established. The brothers did not understand this. They believed that Joseph wanted royalty for its own sake, for both himself and his descendants. This is why they went to Dotan to devise legal schemes, to judge him according to Torah law. They all came to the conclusion that he was guilty of death. Even the sons of Zilpah and Bilhah, who were Joseph's closest friends, agreed that from the point of view of justice, Joseph was guilty.

Insubordination against the kingdom of David is equated with insubordination against the Shechina itself…

He had disputed the authority of the kingdom of David. Anyone doing so is guilty of death. Insubordination against the kingdom of David is equated with insubordination against the Shechina itself.

This is why his brothers wanted to kill Joseph when he revealed himself and they saw that he had become king. The fact that he had realized [what they believed to have been] his ambition made him only more guilty in their eyes. G‑d had to dispatch an angel to disperse the brothers so as to prevent them from destroying Egypt. Joseph having received such Heavenly assistance, asked his brothers to approach him in order to explain to them the true nature of his being king. He explained to them that G‑d had sent him ahead in order to facilitate their becoming a nation, and Judah's kingdom becoming established.

Joseph said three separate times "G‑d has sent me before you". The first time, he referred to the literal meaning of "G‑d has sent me ahead to provide sustenance". (Gen. 45:5) When Joseph mentioned a second time that G‑d had sent him ahead in, he phrased it thus: "To provide refuge [in Hebrew, 'she'ayrit'] for you in the land, and to keep you alive for a great rescue [in Hebrew, 'pleita g'dola']. (Gen. 45:7) At first glance, these words seem totally superfluous; "she'ayrit" refers to something insignificant, whereas "pleita g'dola" alludes to something major.

At the time they did not understand the deeper meaning of what was happening…

Actually, Joseph alluded to two separate missions which he had been entrusted with in order to establish the kingdom of Judah. The first, a minor mission, was to establish a base for a kingdom of Judah in this world, i.e. the Exodus from Egypt, whereas the more important mission was that he would prepare the ground for the Messianic kingdom of David, i.e. play the role of the Mashiach ben Joseph. He explained that the Mashiach ben Joseph would be slain as a martyr on behalf of the people of Israel, and that following his death the enduring kingdom of David-Mashiach would arise. When that would occur, Joseph's blood would be avenged.

Reuben had already hinted at this development when he told his brothers (Gen. 42:22) that Joseph's blood was being demanded from them. True, at the time they did not understand the deeper meaning of what was happening and what was being said, but the words were inspired by G‑d even though He had not revealed their full meaning to the brothers.

Joseph's mission resulted in the development of Jacob from a clan into a nation…

The mystical dimension of Joseph's historical mission was that he acted in the capacity of forerunner - not only in the story related in our parasha, but also in the distant future when he will be killed performing a similar mission and his blood will be avenged. This is what he told his brothers when he said: "Now not you have sent me here but G‑d, who has placed me in the position of father to Pharaoh." (Gen. 45:8)

Let us now concentrate on the meaning of the last words in that verse. We will then understand how Joseph's mission resulted in the development of Jacob from a clan into a nation. Joseph meant that G‑d had appointed him to be Pharaoh's "father" in the sense of being his spiritual representative. This is the significance of Joseph riding in the "second chariot". We have described Egypt as the "naked area" of the earth. Since Joseph was loyal to the Holy Covenant with G‑d because he should have been the issue of his father's first ever drop of semen, he was meant to be the ruler there, and he was supposed to take the place of the spiritual representation of Egypt.

Joseph…is the natural enemy of Esau, inasmuch as he is his exact opposite…

Joseph was first sold as a slave to the Egyptians, this in turn made an imprint on the Jewish people's future, and they too became slaves in Egypt. Later on they left Egypt as free men. G‑d executed judgments on the gods of Egypt, i.e. their spiritual representatives in Heaven. Israel saw their spiritual representative dead on the beaches of the sea. (Ex. 14:30) Had this not occurred, we might still be enslaved to the Egyptians. The reason why Joseph has to be dispatched in the future before the arrival of the Mashiach ben David is because he is the natural enemy of Esau, inasmuch as he is his exact opposite. Esau is full of the pollutants of the serpent, Joseph, on the other hand, was singularly free of that pollution, as we have explained.

As soon as the kingdom of the Mashiach will be established, the remarkable feature will be that his former enemies will make peace with him, i.e. the kelipa will then be purified, and all the Gentile nations will acknowledge the truth. That is the day when G‑d and His name will be One. Even the erstwhile "Nachash" [the proverbial "Snake"] will be turned into "Choshen" [breastplate of the High Priest, spelled with the same letters as "Nachash"].

The color red, which typified Esau, will turn white, completely pure…

The color red, which typified Esau, will turn white, completely pure. This is the deeper significance of the kingdom of David, which at first glance does not appear to have been rooted in holiness. Simply consider Judah's involvement with Tamar whom he thought to be a harlot; or, if you will, think about Ruth, a descendant of an incestuous union between Lot and his daughter. Even Ruth's joining Boaz at night was not exactly the act of a model of chastity that we would have expected. If all these precedents did not disqualify David from becoming the role model of the eventual Mashiach, we need not marvel at the eventual purification of those descendants of Esau who will still exist when the Mashiach will be crowned king. All these apparently accidental happenings were part of G‑d's plan. The tortuous developments which led to the emergence of David and eventually to the Mashiach are an example of how eventually all the "external" people and forces outside the realm of holiness, will be turned "outside in", and be restored to their original sacred root.

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