Advanced Reincarnation Class 18

Shaarai Gilgulim - Gate of Reincarnations

As taught to Rabbi Chaim Vital by Rabbi Isaac Luria and Amended by Rabbi Chaim's Son Shemuel.

Translated from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim; commentary by Shabtai Teicher of Blessed Memory and Completed by Rabbi Perets Aurback.

Published online with commentary by Kabbala

This version will not have all of the commentary.

Please note: The publisher explains that the Study of Kabbalistic Texts usually recommends that one review the material many times until they are familiar with the vocabulary at a minimum.

Also Note: Bold Text represents the translation of the original Text. Regular text represents the commentary and explanation of the translator. Chanoch's comments will be identified separately.

Switched Souls

Chapter 5 Section 6

Translation from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim;

It can be that even though a person has a single, pure, and elevated Nefesh, he may become angry and it will leave him. A lesser Nefesh will then replace it. Or he may contract a terrible sickness and an exchange of souls may occur. Or he may contract a debilitating illness and his Nefesh may be exchanged and go to another person, while he receives a different Nefesh. This is the secret of what is said, "A righteous person all of his life, only to become evil in the end" (Berachot 29a).

Differences consequent upon the variant levels of soul can be tremendous. Look what can happen when a person becomes angry or seriously ill. His soul can be switched from a higher one to a lower one.

…the roots of their souls are from much lower places in the soul body of the human race…

Then his behavior may change accordingly from moral to immoral and to such an extent that it would be said about him, "A righteous person all of his life, only to become evil in the end."

This is also true in a more general way concerning the earlier and later generations. The spiritual levels of the later generations are much lower than the earlier generations and their behavior is much less righteous. This is because the roots of their souls are from much lower places in the soul body of the human race than those of the earlier generations. Thus, if the soul body of Adam is considered one partzuf and one lifetime, then it could also be said of it, "A righteous person all his life, only to become evil in the end."

Or just the opposite may occur.

In the lifetime of individuals something may happen to cause the soul of a wicked person to be exchanged for one of a higher grade. He will then finish his life as a righteous person.

Having said this, it is also possible for a woman, who was originally meant to be the wife of a particular person, but his soul gets switched and she becomes the wife of the other person [into whom his soul migrated].

Several times in the Gate of Reincarnations the relationship of man and wife have been compared to that of the soul and the body. Accordingly, it may be that the Rav is implying that souls which are switched because of some sin or sickness may be switched more or less permanently like where a wife who goes to another person.

chanoch's Commentary

In my opinion this section is not well illustrated or made easy to understand.

When someone gets angry or has a major illness the Nefesh can be changed. The Zohar explains in many places that the Neshamah of a person who allows himself to get angry leaves the body and this "emptiness" is taken up by a Neshamah that is connected to the negative side. This negative side Neshamah causes the body to do actions that are not positive. After the souls switch back again the positive Neshamah receives the effect of these negative actions since it allowed itself to become angry.

This section is being translated as Nefesh and not Neshamah. This section is describing that the Nefesh that is exchanged is lower spiritually than the existing Nefesh. What can not be determined is the translator saying lower spiritually in order to avoid saying the negative system, or is it something different as relates to a Neshamah and a Nefresh. I do not know at this time. Perhaps this will become clear to us in future Chapters of the book.

[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]

Legs and the 10 Martyrs

Chapter 5 Section 7

Translation from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim;

It is possible for the Nefesh, Ruach, or Neshama of a person to elevate its sparks that were immersed in the depths of the klipot. They will be rectified through him, like what was explained concerning the deaths of the Ten Political Martyrs.

Here is a short explanation regarding the 10 Martyrs.

Ten Mishnaic sages who were killed by the Romans in the second century CE as an atonement for the sale of Joseph. They are: Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel II, Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha, Rabbi Akiba, Rabbi Hananiah ben Teradion, Rabbi Hutzpit the Interpreter, Rabbi Eleazar ben Samua, Rabbi Hananiah ben Hakinai, Rabbi Yeshevav the Scribe, Rabbi Judah ben Damah, and Rabbi Judah ben Bava. On Yom Kippur and Tishah B'Av it is customary to read an elegy that discusses the martyrdom of these holy men. (Some sources replace some of the names above with Rabbi Hananiah the Deputy High Priest, Rabbi Judah ben Teima, Rabbi Judah the Baker, and Rabbi Tarfon.)

chanoch's Commentary

We read about these deaths of these very high righteous souls on Tisha B'Av. Each of these men is/was capable of stopping his personal death. Yet they had gone into the spiritual worlds and requested a review of the decree of death in the spiritual world and were told that it was a decree of HaShem and that they were expected to accept this decree with equanimity or serenity. To understand this concept requires someone to strive to receive a compliment with the same reaction that he receives a severe criticism. In fact the compliment should have the same reaction as one would have of receiving a slap in the face in public as a form of humiliation. The reaction is that both perpetrators of the action are sent from HaShem and are to be thanked and blessed in return. Try doing that when someone gives you a slap in the face. These men were on this level and used Binding by Striking to avoid hurting their executioners and stopping the process using Mind Over Matter.

To comprehend what is being said here it is necessary to understand the kabbalistic explanation of the Ten Political Martyrs. Following is a brief summary of what was taught in Sections 5 - 6. (I am not sure if this is referring to Chapter 5 or another Chapter of Shaarai Gilgulim or some other Sefer.)

The Ten Political Martyrs are called, literally, the Ten Martyrs of Malchut. Their souls ascended to Malchut of Atzilut which is called the Shechina. Because of their ascent it became possible, even in these later generations when spiritual power is severely diminished, to complete the rectification of the sparks that are supposed to be raised from the klipot to the Malchut of Atzilut.

Historically, the time of the Ten Political Martyrs was the time of the destruction of the Second Temple. The rule of the Romans over the Land of Israel and the Jewish People was at its height. The oppression was great, violence was ubiquitous, and sin was extremely prevalent. At that time the Romans grabbed ten leaders of Israel and condemned them to death, hoping in this way to forever eliminate Israel as an independent identity, G-d forbid. The Ten Martyrs were cruelly tortured and murdered. Their martyrdom is commemorated during the prayers of Yom Kippur, and it is praiseworthy to weep over them at that time. Now the words of the Ari (Etz Chaim 39:1, p.2:132b) will continue the description of those times from the kabbalistic point of view.

The time of the Ten Political Martyrs was the time of the destruction of the Second Temple. At that time sin was so prevalent that people did not have the power to purify the sparks through prayer and to raise them up in the secret of mayim nukvim.

Whenever the sparks are rectified through our Torah, mitzvot and prayer, they ascend to the Malchut of Atzilut, where they are refurbished into rectified partzufim that emanate blessing and knowledge until our world is penetrated by those good things. The beginning of this process is called the raising up of mayin nukvin [female waters, abbreviated as ma'n], and it has already been discussed somewhat in Chapter Three, Section 8.

At the time of the Ten Martyrs and the destruction of the Temple, the people did not have the power to raise ma'n. It was as if the world had no more purpose. It certainly could not continue to endure if the purpose of Torah, mitzvot and prayer could not be accomplished.

Moreover, even the ma'n of Binah descended downward and got mixed up once again among the klipot, as it is written, "For your sins your Mother was sent away" (Isaiah 50:1).

The ma'n of Binah-Imma [Mother], moreover, does not normally descend to the lower realms among the klipot. Therefore, we do not need to raise them from the klipot back to the world of Atzilut. That this ma'n began to descend into the realm of the klipot was another indication that the world was on the edge of destruction.

The physical sufferings of the Ten Martyrs...made possible...the raising of ma'n…

The holy Zohar says, furthermore, that the souls of these extraordinary tzadikim were totally pure, but their bodies were given over to the Evil Side. The Ari explains that the physical sufferings endured by the Ten Martyrs at the hands of the evil torturers made possible, once again, the raising of ma'n through prayer, mitzvot and Torah. In this way the world was saved.

In addition, in Chapter 36 the Ari will explain that the physical sacrifice of the Ten Martyrs gives hope and inspiration to all the later generations. Also, because of them it is possible for all the later generations to raise ma'n. If they, through the sacrifice of their lives and the physical suffering that they endured had not opened the way for our tikunim to ascend to the Shechina, then we in these later generations would be without hope because of the intense levels of impurity from which our souls must ascend.

chanoch's Commentary

This idea of physical pain allows spiritual Tikune is well known in the teachings of Kabbalah. This is where one of the two teachings regarding the Man from Nazareth arises within the Kabbalah. This teaching is that He was an 11th Sage who has the job of reaching out and correcting the pagan nations. This does not mean that the Jewish Soul should follow that path. It means that the Jewish Soul should understand the purpose of the Religion started with this teaching and help move this Religion to its base as a Righteous Gentile by giving up the aspects of Idol Worship within the followers today. Not through coercion but by example. Just as these 10 or 11 provided examples.

There is another teaching as well regarding the Man from Nazareth that does not put the Man in such a positive light.


Malchut of Atzilut is called the Shechina. She is exiled from the world of Atzilut to descend among the klipot in the lower realms.

In the lower realms she is covered by the souls of the soul body of Adam that have also been exiled into the realm of the klipot.

Throughout the lower realms are strewn sparks that belong to the souls of the soul body of Adam who cover the Shechina exiled into the realm of the klipot.

When we pray, study Torah and perform mitzvot, then we release the sparks from the klipot and they ascend to Malchut of Atzilut. She receives them and returns with them to the world of Atzilut. This ascent is called Female Waters [ma'n]. When they reach the world of Atzilut they become the germs to draw down illumination from above. At this point they are comparable to the female zygote (chanoch's Commentary: or vessel. This is in opposition to the male zygote or sperm.)

The ability of the various levels of soul to rectify their corresponding sparks is enhanced by the interconnectedness of souls who give and receive assistance from each other.

In these later generations, because of their diminished spiritual power, rectification would be entirely impossible if it were not for the assistance consequent upon the interconnectedness of the souls.

When the spiritual level descends so low that the world is on the verge of destruction, then physical sacrifice can restore spiritual power. The classic expression of this phenomenon was the Ten Martyrs of Malchut.

[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]

Return Due to Lack of Procreation

Chapter 5 Section 8

Translation from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim;

There is a difference between someone who reincarnates because he was childless and did not perform the mitzvah of procreation and someone who reincarnates because of any other transgressions that he may have committed. Someone who reincarnates for not having procreated will not be able to return alone, but only in partnership with another.

This will [also] be the case even if he is like Shimon ben Azzai who did not need to reincarnate to have children.

Rabbi Shimon ben Azzai is a special case in Jewish history and law. He was married to the daughter of Rebbe Akiva, but he divorced her. His love of Torah was so great and consuming that he could not share it with anyone else. Since he had accomplished the mitzvah of procreation in a previous gilgul, it was not necessary for him to reincarnate specifically to do that mitzvah.

The extension of his own physical existence achieved through procreation is missing.

Nevertheless, when he reincarnates at birth because of a different sin, or to assist someone else, or to come as an ibur during lifetime, it will not be possible to return alone, but only in partnership with another.

Since he is "half of a body," he cannot come alone.

The extension of his own physical existence that would have been achieved through procreation is missing. It is as if he is only half a body. The compensation for this deficiency is that he will be born together with another soul.

It could be that this is also called a "Double Gilgul," as we have discussed in previous chapters. This gilgul is not because of yibum. So it seems to the humble opinion of Chaim Vital.

The secret of yibum was discussed in Sections 6 and 7 of Chapter Three, and the last section of Chapter Two. The secret of yibum is a special type of gilgul that takes place when there is a lack of procreation. In yibum it is considered as if the first gilgul almost never existed. This is not the case here. Therefore, the writer, Rav Chaim Vital, may his memory be a blessing, considers that this case is not yibum but Double Gilgul.

chanoch's Commentary

It is a spiritual law that people must bring two children a boy and a girl in each reincarnation. Except in special cases which is relating to the Mitzvah of Torah Study. Many people who are childless rely on this unusual teaching for a level of comfort. What is the truth will be determined by the Final Judgment that each person receives.

[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]