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 online.com
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.
Chapter 7 Section 7
Translation from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim; commentary by Shabtai Teicher
The third level constitutes those souls that fell amongst the klipot after Adam sinned, from which came his son Seth and others. These are old souls and the lowest of all of the types, because they fell from Adam and splintered into many sparks and pieces as a result of his sin. Since these souls had once been part of Adam, they are called "old", meaning from a previous gilgul. Their residence within Adam is considered a first incarnation…
When they were within Adam they could have become rectified if he had not sinned. Consequently, their residence within Adam is considered a first incarnation. When any of them will come again into the body of a mortal human being, it will be the second incarnation of that soul.
When they come back in the body of a person who later dies, the soul is considered to have incarnated twice, etc. Now, when a soul from this level comes into a body for the first time, it only has the ability to rectify a portion [of the soul] in each gilgul.
The information in most of the rest of this section has already been taught previously. Indeed, this section is a wonderful summary and review of much of what has preceded it. The serious student might take the opportunity after this section to reread the preceding chapters.
In the beginning only a portion of the Nefesh will come to be rectified. For example, if the Nefesh was from the Malchut of the Nukva of Asiya, then rectification will be necessary until Keter of Aliyah is completed.
Each part must be rectified until the tikune of the entire Nefesh is completed. When this has been accomplished, then the person will die and return in a second body with the Ruach in order to complete its tikune. When that tikune is accomplished, then the person will die and return in a third body with the Neshama to achieve its tikune. When this is done, then he too will die. However, no more reincarnations will be necessary. The Nefesh…needs to reincarnate as many times as it is necessary until it achieves rectification…
We have already explained that when the Ruach comes to be rectified, it does so clothed within the Nefesh of a convert. The same is true regarding the Neshama as well.
Since a tainted Ruach or Neshama cannot come back clothed within a rectified Nefesh or Ruach, if the Nefesh does not complete its tikune, then it needs to reincarnate as many times as it is necessary until it achieves rectification. After that, the Ruach will come into another body with the Nefesh of a convert and will reincarnate by itself many times, until it is complete. After that, the Neshama will come by itself in yet another body, reincarnating many times, if necessary, until it is complete.
If the Nefesh, Ruach, and Neshama are rectified, but then the person sins causing a blemish to them, which necessitates reincarnation, as we have described, he will only be able to rectify either the Nefesh, or the Ruach, or the Neshama each time. He will have to start again, but he cannot return with all three of them. There are those that reincarnate…to rectify and guide the people of their generation …
However, it may be that a person rectifies his NR"N to the heights of Atzilut, and he reincarnates, not for his own sake, but for that of another. Since he neither sinned nor caused a blemish, he can retain in this gilgul, even while still only a child, all that which he achieved previously. This is the secret of the son of Rav Hamnuna Sabba, mentioned in [Zohar] parashat Balak, and the rest of the phenomenally righteous and wise children mentioned in the Zohar. They were complete from previous gilgulim in all their NR"N [and other parts that were already rectified].
This is new information, but it is surprising. If he is not coming for his own sake, but for someone else, then why is he reincarnating? And if he is coming as an ibur, we have learned in Chapter Five, Section 1, and in Chapter 38 that an ibur comes only after the age of thirteen years and a day?
To clarify this problem we will translate a section from Sefer HaGilgulim, the beginning of Chapter 12, where the words of the Rav are more detailed and clearer.
There are those that reincarnate for the sake of others, to rectify and guide the people of their generation. Since people like these are perfect tzadikim that may have merited even the Neshama of Atzilut or similar [very high levels], they do not need to reincarnate for themselves. They only reincarnate for the needs of the hour for the sake of others, to rectify and guide the people of the generation. These people can certainly achieve all their NR"N together, at one time, and all their other parts that were already rectified [as well]. This is the reason that we find young children whose deeds are wondrous like the son of Rav Hamnuna Sabba in [Zohar] Vayechi [who is also] the child in [Zohar] parashat Balak and all the other [wonder] children [throughout the Zohar]. These did not come to complete themselves, but for others. Therefore, they achieved NR"N and all that they had accomplished beforehand in one time, and that is why they were different and wondrous in wisdom.
I, Chaim the writer, am in doubt, however, regarding those who must reincarnate, but not to rectify a sin but to make up for a lacking.
They had not yet fulfilled some Positive Mitzvah, as opposed to actually transgressing a Negative Mitzvah. The question here is whether they will they return with all their previously acquired levels, or not.
In Sefer HaGilgulim, in the chapter just quoted the Rav answers this question in the affirmative and unequivocally.
[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]
The idea that someone would reincarnate to help others is truly amazing. We must be very careful with this concept. We are created as a desire to receive. How can we do something that has no benefit to ourselves?
We are taught in Kabbalah that our purpose in this world is to transform our desire to receive from selfishness to sharing. Clearly there is a benefit to doing so. Even if the benefit is unclear to us there is a benefit. This is not altruism. In fact one of the deeper teachings in Kabbalah is that there can not be altruism since our essence is desire.
This applies even to the idea of Torah Lishma. Torah for its own sake. One can not share even with the Creator without receiving. Thus the idea of sharing with the Creator is considered receiving. This idea applies also to a subject in the Talmud dealing with engagement and marriage. Normally the groom gives a ring to the Bride. Yet the subject is discussed that if the Groom is a Tzadik and a Talmid Chacham (a wise man) she may give him the ring. By giving the ring she receives the engagement and thus the action is considered a Kosher marriage. This takes a significant amount of contemplation.
A human being is incapable of altruism – doing a sharing action without a desire to receive. There is a modern school of Kabbalah that translates the words of their teacher using the word Altruism. This is impossible. So let me be clear the teacher is teaching truth the translation is a corruption since the understanding of the English word altruism is not well understood by the translator. That is why my teachers and I use the exact term desire to receive in order to share. This teaches us to be exact in our use of language as well as to not think we understand when we use a translation.
Chapter 7 Section 8
Translation from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim; commentary by Shabtai Teicher
For Third Level souls, meditation in the Tachanun prayer enables the coming of the Ruach even while the Nefesh has not been completely rectified.
Now we will explain the differences between Level Two and Level Three [souls].
The Ruach of Level Two, made up of sparks from Cain and Abel, cannot emerge from the depths of the klipot until the Nefesh is rectified. Therefore, the tikune to the Ruach cannot occur through another person, but only through himself. He must either die, and his Nefesh and Ruach will afterwards come back in another body, as it was explained previously. Or, he can do it by himself with the meditation on the verse, "My Nefesh has desired You at night…" (Isaiah 26:9, see Gate of Reincarnations 3:8). After the Nefesh is rectified it will leave, and the Ruach will come by itself to become rectified, as mentioned earlier. It is likewise with the Neshama.
However, the sparks from Level Three have a different ability. Although they cannot achieve all levels in one lifetime, they can achieve tikune using the proper meditations during the Tachanun prayer.
In other words, the souls of level three can grow from Nefesh to Ruach in one lifetime using the proper kavana during the Tachanun prayer. Tachanun is recited most weekdays during the Morning and Afternoon prayers and is a request for forgiveness of sins.
In some communities at this time it is customary to place one's forehead on the arm for a portion of this prayer like one who is distraught and looking for forgiveness.
The actual term the Rav uses in the text is "Nefilat Apayim," which means "falling on the face," and this is a common nomenclature of the prayer, as well. However, since tachanun is a more commonly known terminology these days, that term is used in the translation. He would meditate that he was entering into the lowest realms…to extract from there the remnants of holy sparks…
It was once customary that the person who was praying would fall prostrate on his face during this prayer. At that time he would meditate that he was entering into the lowest realms, the realms of the klipot, to extract from there the remnants of holy sparks on their way to rectification. In our days this practice is considered too dangerous because the soul of the one who is praying may get caught there. Therefore, at most, in some communities people place their forehead upon their arm; in other communities the prayer is merely recited in a sitting position.
During the "Falling on the Face" prayer, they can meditate that they are extracting their Ruach from the depths of the klipot. This works even if the Nefesh is not yet fully rectified to ascend in the secret of Mayin Nukvin. (The subject of Mayin Nukvin is also explained in Chapter Three, Section 8.) This meditation is in the verse, "To You, G-d, I lift up my soul…." (Psalm 25:1)
In the Prayer rite practiced by the Ari, and consequently adopted by all Sephardic Jews and some of the Chasidim, this Psalm is in place of Psalm 6 as the basic text of the Tachanun Prayer. His Ruach is simultaneously being rectified in the body of another person…
His Ruach can then come during his lifetime into the body of another person who is born in combination with the Nefesh of a convert. If he merits it, then it is possible to draw it into his own son born to him.
Therefore, even while the person is rectifying his own Nefesh in his own body, his Ruach is simultaneously being rectified in the body of another person who has the Nefesh of a convert, or, if he merits it, within the body of his own son.
Through the meditation of the "Falling on the Face" prayer, only the Ruach can be withdrawn from the klipah before the rectification of the Nefesh is completed. This process of drawing out a higher level of soul before the Nefesh has completed its tikune only applies to the level of Ruach. Under no circumstances can the Neshama be drawn from the depths of the klipot until the Nefesh and the Ruach have been completely rectified, and those people who had the Nefesh and Ruach must die. Afterwards the Neshama can come in a gilgul to achieve tikune.
[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]
This is one of the interesting aspects of the Kabbalah Center and its teachings which are different than other paths of Kabbalah. The Kabbalah Center teaches that lighting a candle the night before for the Hilula of a Tzadik creates a condition that makes the Tachanun Prayer unnecessary. They do not say even when asked yet this Tzadik must replace the ability to draw out the Ruach prior to the completion of the Tikune of the Nephesh as taught in this section. This is an important teaching with respect to the Hilula connections of a Tzadik. It is why I strongly suggest one read the Names of the Tzadikim who chose to leave on a particular day since that day and that Tzadik may be your channel to elevate your Ruach as described above even if you do not do the Tachanun Prayer.
Chapter 7 Section 9
When the Ruach is drawn down during the Nefilat Apayim meditation while the Nefesh is still completing its tikune, then there are dangers for the one who has the Nefesh. During Resurrection of the Dead the Nefesh and the Ruach will both arise within him…
There is yet another thing to be clarified regarding this matter of the Ruach and the Nefesh that was just discussed. Since they can both come into the world in separate bodies, they are judged against each other in terms of who finishes his tikune first. If the person who received the Ruach completes his tikune prior to the person with the Nefesh, then he becomes the "main one." Therefore, during Resurrection of the Dead the Nefesh and the Ruach will both arise within him.
However, if the one who possessed the Nefesh finished his tikune first, then I [Rabbi Chaim Vital] do not recall what was said. However, it seems to me that I heard that during Resurrection of the Dead they arise into the body that possessed the Nefesh, since he became the main one.
There is another important distinction regarding the person who took Ruach during Nefilat Apayim before the final tikune of the Nefesh.
We have learned that if he completes the tikune of Ruach before the one who has Nefesh completes its tikune, then it may be that he will arise in the time of the Resurrection of the Dead with both the Ruach and the Nefesh. In such a case, there exists a very serious danger for the one who had Nefesh.
In such a case, if the person merits through his actions, he can draw all the good of the Ruach to himself and leave the other evil. The Nefesh will lose all his merits to the one who is completing Ruach…
In other words, the one who had the Nefesh will lose all his merits to the one who is completing Ruach. The first will be left with evil only. Therefore, he will not arise in the time of Resurrection, and all his good and merits will go to the second one who has rectified Ruach.
This is the secret of the verse, "Let the evil of the wicked finish them, but You will establish the righteous…" (Psalms 7:10) One whose deeds make him evil - he will finish by taking all the evil to himself. This is what it says, "Let the evil of the wicked finish them," while all the good is taken by the righteous person whose actions have purified him. Thus, he is finished and totally established, as it says, "…You will establish the righteous."
It is known that a person is a combination of good and evil, purity within klipah. Sometimes the evil is greater than the good, and the evil that is within him must be purified until all that remains is complete good.
There are several mechanisms to accomplish this purification. What the Rav is having us contemplate here, since the evil is greater than the good, seems to be one of the more unpleasant possibilities.
Thus have I heard from my teacher, may his memory be blessed, though I did not merit to understand this well. However, it seems to me that it is possible for the evil of the Nefesh and the Ruach to come together into one person whose actions are evil, and for the good of the Nefesh and the Ruach to come to someone who has purified his actions, as mentioned before.
Knowing this you will be able to understand in the next section the danger faced by King David.
[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]
Kabbalah teaches that everyone will be resurrected. Yet here it seems that it is possible for someone to not be resurrected. This issue relates to the body only not the soul. Yet this is a very serious issue.
The soul is considered the level of Zeir Anpin. The body is considered to be the level of Malchut. The soul is never destroyed. The body dies. What is the purpose of Creation “Something from Nothing?” It is the creation of desire. If desire is the purpose of creation then the body is the important aspect – at least as important as the soul. Thus the loss of a body being resurrected is quite significant. There must be a solution to this issue. Perhaps this will be discussed or revealed later in the study.
Chapter 7 Section 10
Although his Nefesh was intact, King David was in danger of losing his portion in the Resurrection of the Dead as a result of his sin with Bat Sheva because his Ruach had entered the world while his Nefesh was still completing its tikune.
Please note the Zohar says that King David did not sin with Bat Shevah. The commentary above is from someone who may have been ill at the time of the making of the commentary and made this commentary in a weak moment. In any event read the balance of this section's commentaries with an open mind and remember that King David did not sin with Bat Shevah.
Knowing this, you can understand what concerned King David when he said, "Many have said, 'For my Nefesh there is no salvation for it from G‑d.' Selah." (Psalms 3:3).
Knowing what was taught in the previous section we will now be able to understand how King David could seem to be poised on the verge of destruction.
It is strange that people should have spoken so badly about such a great person as King David. However, to understand this we must be precise about what is written. It is written, "…There is no salvation for it [him]." It should have been written, "…There is no salvation for it [her]" if it referred back to the word "my Nefesh" mentioned at the beginning of the verse.
The Nefesh of King David…descended to the Malchut of spiritual impurity…
It was written in the verse, "…There is no salvation from G-d for it." At first glance it would seem that the subject referred to by the pronoun "it" is the Nefesh of King David that has no hope of salvation because of his sin with Bat Sheva. However, the Hebrew word used for the pronoun "it" is "lo", which refers to the masculine. If "it" were referring to the Nefesh of King David, then it would have to use the feminine word "lah," because Nefesh is a feminine noun.
It will now be understandable based upon what has been said. The Nefesh of King David was very elevated. As a result of the primordial sin of Adam it descended into the depths of the klipot on the side of the Nukva [the feminine side] of the klipot.
In other words, it descended to the Malchut of spiritual impurity. Malchut is the lowest of the Sefirot, and the feminine side is generally below the masculine side. Therefore, at the least, we must understand that it descended very low indeed.
When David was born, it was the first time it had left the klipot. Therefore, it began its tikune only from the level of Asiya, which is called Nefesh. The reason [for this] is that it was a gilgul from Level Three.
Like all Third Level souls, the soul of King David fell from Adam into the klipot. However, this particular soul did not begin any tikune whatsoever for many, many generations. Therefore, when it was reborn into a human body to begin the process of tikune, it had descended to the lowest possible level.
We often meet the rule that the highest levels ascend to the lowest places. And things that were on the lowest levels must eventually ascend to the highest places. This is exactly the case of the soul that was born into King David. In the time of the Resurrection of the Dead there would be no salvation for the body of David…
This is the secret of what is mentioned in Sabba of Mishpatim (Zohar, 103a), and many other places as well, that David was from the "feminine side" and not the "masculine side." Rather, [the origin of his soul was] in the "World of Death" that is called Nukva. Understand this.
It is said of the Malchut-Nukva that "Her feet go down to death…"; this is a general characteristic of Nukva-feminine relative to the masculine in all places. Indeed, the soul of King David descended to such a low place that it was devoid of the ability to survive in this world even one second, but Adam gave it seventy years of his own life.
Thus, it was asked there [in Saba of Mishpatim], "Why was he called 'Oved'?"
Oved was the grandfather of David. He and his son, Jesse, the father of David, made possible the birth of this soul that had sunk to the lowest of levels. The name "Oved" means "devotee" or "worker." The Holy Zohar in Saba of Mishpatim compares him to someone who is working on an orchard. His name derives from the fact that he did such good work rectifying the supernal tree that becomes the line of Mashiach.
"The tree was lacking, and he rectified it." (Zohar, 2:103b)
In other words, Oved began the process of tikune that resulted from the sin of Adam, and the Zohar says that Jesse, David's father, continued the process, paving the way for King David to become king and prototype of Mashiach. However, since the tikune was not complete, the ability of the soul of David to grow was limited in its first lifetime.
It [the soul of David] was immersed in the depths of the klipot of the Nukva. Since this was the case, David was only able to acquire his Nefesh, leaving his Ruach to come in the body of another person. When David sinned with Bat Sheva, he blemished his Nefesh.
Although the Talmud teaches that David did not commit any formal sin, his behavior throughout the incident of Bat Sheva was so dismal and disappointing for someone on the level that he had already attained that it amounted to a very serious setback to his spiritual progress.
As a result, it became possible for the one who possessed his Ruach to merit completion of its tikune before David could rectify his Nefesh. In the time of the Resurrection of the Dead there would be no salvation for the body of David. The other body belonging to the one who had the Ruach will take both the Nefesh and the Ruach.
Consequently, this phenomenon that was originally considered a blessing becomes a curse. Originally it was considered a good thing that the Ruach can be made through kavana to descend into a second body to be rectified there while the Nefesh is still undergoing tikune in the first body. Nevertheless, there is a danger in this phenomenon to the body and person of the Nefesh, as we have learned. The one with the Ruach might finish its tikune first, and come to take both the Ruach and the Nefesh in the time of Resurrection of the Dead. Apparently this upheaval can occur if the evil committed by one with such an important and high Nefesh is serious enough, or if he repeats the evil consistently enough.
However, the Nefesh itself will not be damaged, only the body. This is why he said, "there is no salvation for it [lo - meaning him]," and not, "there is no salvation for it [lah- meaning her]."
"There is no salvation for it (lo-him)," refers to the body of David, and not to his Nefesh, which would require a feminine pronoun.
This is the way the verse goes. "Many say…" - that since there is only a Nefesh within me, she has no hope in the body of David at the time of the Resurrection of the Dead.
[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]
i hope you realize how amazing is this revelation. I was hoping to study with King David when the resurrection takes place. Do you think that this desire will be unfulfilled?
Chapter 7 Section 11
One can lose his portion in the Resurrection of the Dead by transference of all the good to one soul partner and transference of all the evil to the other one.
There is another explanation to the verse mentioned above, "Let the evil of the wicked finish them, but You will establish the righteous…" (Psalms 7:10) It can sometimes happen that a person's Nefesh will not enter him wholly and completely. Some of the good with most of the evil that is within it will go into the body of another person. The one who is mostly good will have the ability to draw all of the good to himself…
These two will then be friends. The one who is mostly good will have the ability to draw all of the good to himself. The entire portion of evil will be banished to the mostly-evil person. Regarding the second person it says, "Let the evil of the wicked finish them…." Concerning the first person it says, "…You will establish the righteous," along the lines of what was said in the first explanation.
It might also be that both of them are equally balanced. If one of them commits a sin, and definitely if the second one also performs a mitzvah, then he will overcome his friend. He will begin to draw the good to himself little by little until the good is completely by him, and the evil is completely by the other one.
The Rav will now provide an explanation for a difficult passage in the Talmud, which will also describe how the good was completely taken from a person, who was then left with only evil.
With this you can understand what the sages meant when they wrote, "Ahab was balanced," (Sanhedrin 102b) and when it says, "All the hosts of Heaven stood by his right and his left" (Kings I, 22), which was said regarding King Ahab. Although the evil sometimes overpowered him…still the Nefesh itself was half good and half bad…
The Talmud teaches that the heavenly tribunal met to decide what to do with King Ahab. The angels that stood on the left were prosecutors demanding punishment. The angels that stood on the right were defenders recalling merit. The Rav brings the teaching of the Talmud that Ahab was balanced and that he had the ability to repent and rectify all his sins until he murdered Nevot (Kings I, 21). It was the spirit of Nevot that decided the judgment against Ahab and led him to destruction. (Ibid. 22)
Is this not amazing? It says that the lightest sin of Ahab was like the worst sin of Jeroboam.
The prophet many times writes that not only was King Jeroboam a sinner, but he also caused the entire nation to sin. It was he who built the golden calves in Bet El and Dan, which eventually caused the exile and disappearance of the Ten Tribes of Israel.
In one place the Talmud states that the lightest sins of Ahab were equal to the worst sins of Jeroboam. Yet, on the same page the Talmud teaches, as we have read, that Ahab was equally balanced! The Talmud seems to contradict itself.
How could they call him "balanced"? Rather, it is like this. His actions were not balanced, but rather they leaned in the direction of guilt. However, his Nefesh was balanced - half good and half bad. Although the evil sometimes overpowered him and he worshipped idols, still the Nefesh itself was half good and half bad.
Thus, it could be that at the same time that a person's actions are terrible and horribly sinful, his Nefesh could still retain a large repository of good, and the balance sheet of his gilgul could still finish in tikune. This is very encouraging.
Therefore, G-d did not reject him completely, but rather wanted him to repent. He might do good. And that is why Elijah the Prophet chased after him, in order to bring him back in teshuvah until the incident of Nevot from the Jezreel Valley.
[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]
This section is truly difficult to understand and to reconcile. In my opinion the Commentator did not succeed in this explanation. Let us delve a little deeper into the story. I believe the commentator did not take us deep enough to understand what he was saying. This is another indication of his illness.
King Ahab was married to Queen Jezebel. The man Nevot was a farmer who owned a vineyard next to the property of King Ahab. King Ahab desired this property for something selfish. He had the space in his own vineyard to accomplish his desire but he did not want to disturb his own vineyard. His Queen Jezebel asked him what disturbed him. He told her he tried to buy Nevot's vineyard and was rebuffed and this depressed him. Jezebel asked him to let her handle the manner. King Ahab gave into his desire to receive for oneself alone and abdicated his actions to his Queen. This is the sin that is light yet weightier than the building of the idols in the northern kingdom of Israel. I suggest you read this in the Book of Kings 2 then contemplate how it applies to you in this period of teshuvah.
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