Advanced Reincarnation Class 29

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.

Translation from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim; commentary by Shabtai Teicher

Team Work

Chapter 11 Section 6

By Rabbi Yitzchak Luria as recorded by Rabbi Chaim Vital; translation from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim; commentary by Shabtai Teicher

The sparks that are grouped together within one Minor Root, such as the Left Heel of the Left Shoulder, assist each other, and they are also influenced by each other for the good and the bad. The previous section ended describing the concept of general, horizontal proximity of souls grouped together within one partzuf such as the Minor Root that is the Left Heel of the Left Shoulder. All the soul-sparks grouped together within the Left Heel are "one soul". The Ari said that this is a great advantage, and now he is going to explain what that advantage is.

Now that the subject of souls and their positions has been clarified, we will explain the laws concerning them.

It has been explained previously that a person is not complete until he rectifies and merits in his lifetime to take Yechida of Arich Anpin of Atzilut.

It was previously taught (Gates of Reincarnation 2:1) that a person who completes his Nefesh-Ruach-Neshama does not need to reincarnate any more. The Benai Aharon explains that he does not need to reincarnate in a new gilgul, but he still has to complete his Chaya and Yechida, either through ibur or in the gilgul of his Neshama.

chanoch's Commentary

Stop and contemplate the meaning of Yechida of Arich Anpin of Atzilut. Where is this within the descent from the Endless World? Remember this level is inclusive of everything below it. This means that it is complete up to that level having achieved its Tikune up to that level. Remember at these levels the vessel did not break but it was damaged perhaps "leaking" sparks to lower levels that were caught by the Klipot and they need to be elevated back to this level from the lowest possible levels perhaps even Sheol of Gehinom.

However, if he only merits taking the aspect of Asiya, then this person merits taking the whole Nefesh of the entire world of Asiya, in general. It is the same with all the other levels until he finally completes them. A person's tikune depends upon many things, such as performance of all the positive mitzvot and occupation with Torah…

In other words, once he finally completes his tikune in the world of Asiya, then he merits all of the Nefesh. It is the same for his Ruach from Yetzira, his Neshama from Beriya and the parts of his soul from Atzilut as well. This is the case, as we have learned, even though his soul is connected to a very specific place. Once he achieves rectification of that specific place, then it is tantamount to having achieved the whole Nefesh, the whole Ruach, etc.

Now, a person's tikune depends upon many things, such as performance of all the positive mitzvot and his occupation with Torah. As he increases these things, his tikune becomes complete, and he merits to achieve all the parts of his soul.

In the next section the Ari will explain that positive mitzvot rectify the external partzuf, equivalent to Nefesh, whereas the main tikune of the internal partzuf, equivalent to Ruach, is accomplished through occupation with the Torah. (For further relevant background about the uniqueness of occupation with Torah as opposed to all the other positive mitzvot see especially Tanya 1:4-5 and further in this chapter, Gates of Reincarnation 11:10.)

Furthermore, some explanation of the term "occupation with Torah" is necessary. It would seem more simple and straightforward to say "study of Torah". However, occupation with Torah is a broader term. Although study of Torah comprises most of it, occupation with Torah, nevertheless, includes more things, many of which are not themselves positive mitzvot. For example, there is going to and from the place of study, or writing books of Torah, and most importantly, there is teaching and making it possible for others to study. Relevant to this last and vitally important point, a section of the Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch) Yoreh De'ah 246:1 will be translated and explained in notes at the end of this chapter. (chanoch adds: that is after section 13.)

When he sins, G-d forbid, and transgresses any of the 365 negative mitzvot, then he blemishes parts of his soul accordingly, even if he has performed many positive mitzvot. The essence of tikune or blemish concerns the place where the individual spark that is his soul is connected…

A person should not think that some of his many mitzvot will cancel out his transgressions, and what is left over will be his profit. Rather, each act is recompensed separately. A person's transgressions are paid off first, and then he can enjoy eternal reward for all his mitzvot. In the same way, blemishes caused to the parts of a person's soul must be rectified. They do not cancel any of his merits, and his merits do not automatically erase any of the defects.

The tikune [that a person accomplishes] or its opposite, which is blemish, affects the place to where his soul is connected, and not any other place. This is according to what we have learned previously. The essence of tikune or blemish concerns the place where the individual spark that is his soul is connected.

chanoch's Commentary

This is referring to the aspect of one's Tikune that deals with the share of the blemish caused by Adam's Sin. Of course we do many other blemishes in other lifetimes and these also must be fixed or corrected. It is not yet clear if Mitzvot can cancel out these blemishes. An example is a teenager who kills someone in anger Chas V'Shalom. This action has nothing to do with The sin of Adam. Now he goes to medical school and becomes a medical researcher that discovers a cure for a disease like polio or malaria. Does he still need to correct the murder when he was a youth? Perhaps not since as a teen ager the action relates to his parents who may take all of the obligation to correct the murder. Justice is complicated. That is why it is in the province of HaShem. That is why we will eventually learn how to apply this justice.

However, he does rectify or blemish, G-d forbid, all the sparks that are close to him.

The sparks that are his close relatives, who are influenced by him, and who influence him, are those that are with him in the same cluster, such as the Left Heel of the Left Shoulder.

Each one of them is not considered whole or fully rectified until there does not remain a single spark…that is not entirely completed…

For example, if someone from the Left Heel of the partzuf that is the Left Shoulder, the Root called Kayin [Hebrew for "Cain"], accomplishes tikune, then he causes a tikune for all the sparks of that Heel. If he causes a blemish, then he blemishes all of them, even though all the tikune that was required of those individual sparks was finished. Each one of them is not considered whole or fully rectified until there does not remain a single spark, whether a big one or a little one, among all the sparks of the Heel that is not entirely completed. The entire Heel is called a spark of one major soul. Even if Samuel the Prophet, may he rest in peace, be one of them, none of these sparks are called whole until all the sparks of this Heel, even the worst among them, are completely rectified.

Consequently, all come to help a blemished spark to achieve tikune in this world.

Since the final tikune of all of them depends upon the progress and completion of each and every one of them, they all come to the assistance of blemished sparks. Obviously, this is a tremendous advantage to those that need help.

The other sparks of the Left Shoulder, however, do not get any tikune or blemish because of the sparks of the Heel.

The other sparks of the Left Shoulder that are not part of the root that is the Left Heel do not get any tikune or blemish from the accomplishments or distortions performed by the sparks of the Left Heel.

The general rule [stated here] concerns every one of the Minor Roots within a limb that is a Major Root among the 613 Major Roots in the partzuf of Adam. Each one of these Minor Roots is called "one major soul," and they all help each other.

In other words, the sparks grouped together in one major soul all help each other to achieve tikune, and that is the advantage of the general, horizontal clustering of all these sparks into one major soul.

chanoch's Commentary

Start to apply this teaching to your life. Which of the people in your life come from the same part of Adam? How are you helping them with their Tikune? In the physical world some family members do not interact much while many others remain connected through various ways. Have you ever heard of the Smith clan who hold a summer gathering every year bringing all the relatives together? i have heard of groups of 500 plus. Do you think they all come from the same part of Adam?

However, one defect does not blemish all the levels in all the worlds. There is a blemish that flaws his Nefesh from the realm of Asiya, and there is a blemish that flaws his Ruach in Yetzira, etc. If his individual spark blemishes within Asiya, then all the sparks of this Heel within Asiya become defaced like him. It is the same in all the other worlds.

Finally, it is obvious that the main reward and punishment goes to the individual spark [that became rectified or blemished]. However, the shefa [i.e. illumination] that is drawn down to the sparks of this Heel is diminished because of the individual spark's blemish.

Alternately, the shefa-illumination that is drawn down to the sparks of the Heel will be increased because of the individual spark's tikune. It seems to me that this is the first time in Gate of Reincarnations that we are encountering the word "shefa," which is usually translated as "illumination," although it is a very important concept in the Kabbalah.

It has already been taught that according to the Kabbalah everything consists of two aspects, the Light and the Vessel. The Light must come down into the vessel to fill it, vitalize it, purify it, cause it to grow and reach wholeness. We said that this Light is also called "mochin," literally "brains." Actually, it has several other names as well, but the most general term for it, including mochin of various types and sizes, is "shefa" - illumination.

[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]

General Rectification and Blemish

chapter 11 Section 7

By Rabbi Yitzchak Luria as recorded by Rabbi Chaim Vital; translation from Sha'ar Hagilgulim by Yitzchok bar Chaim; commentary by Shabtai Teicher

Tikune for the Nefesh is accomplished through the performance of positive mitzvot, and blemish of the Nefesh is caused by transgression, but for the Ruach the emphasis is on occupation with the Torah and its study.

chanoch's Commentary

This comment should have been written earlier. i need to explain about Torah study and "being busy with the Torah." These are two different positive Mitzvot. Torah Study is somewhat self explanatory. "Being busy with the Torah" means to live as an example of Torah. The truth is these words do not do justice to the actual experience of being busy with the Torah.

We will now explain rectification and blemish in detail. We will begin with the rectification of Nefesh, that is from the world of Asiya, which is the lowest of all of them and enters into a person first at the time of birth.

You already know that no higher portion can enter until the lower part completes its tikune. First, all the parts of the Nefesh, that is from Asiya, must enter and complete their tikune. Afterwards, the parts of the Ruach, that is from Yetzira, can begin to enter within him. When they are completed, then the Neshama, that is from Beriya, will begin to enter until everything is finished.

However, there are conditions and distinctions concerning all this as will be explained in this, the eighth gate, called the Gate of Reincarnations.

It seems that this general introduction ought to appear at the beginning of the book! However, keep in mind what Reb Shmuel the son of Rabbi Chaim Vital, the editor and redactor of the Eight Gates, wrote in the beginning of this chapter. This chapter is a sort of abridgement of the entire subject of gilgulim. Therefore, it makes sense that this introduction appears here.

Occupation with Torah acquires Ruach….

Nevertheless, it is also worthwhile to keep in mind an important rule concerning all Torah knowledge. Subjects, descriptions and stories of the Torah are not necessarily presented in a chronological order. Events that occur at a later time may very well appear before the presentation of other events or descriptions that precede them. Similarly, sometimes what you need to know first to understand the "beginning" will not appear until later. This is because the Torah is an open or "infinite system" (if such a combination of words is permissible).

The tikune of a person who merits to the Nefesh of Asiya is through the performance of positive mitzvot whose number is 248.

Blemish is a result of [positive mitzvot] that were not fulfilled, or because of transgression of one of the 365 negative mitzvot.

Blemish caused by one of the positive mitzvot that was not fulfilled, applies when both the opportunity and the obligation were present, but he transgressed and did not do what was incumbent upon him to do. In the next section the Ari will discuss mitzvot where the opportunity or obligation were not present.

Occupation with Torah acquires Ruach that is from Yetzira, as will be explained.

This statement is somewhat problematic, and needs to be understood by broadening our conceptual categories. The Benei Aharon (11:31) has also pointed this out. For example, if occupation with Torah alone rectifies Ruach, then a person who is working on his Ruach should be exempt from the active performance of all the other mitzvot!?

To answer this problem consider the following. It is the teaching of the Ari in Etz Chaim 40:2, but the words quoted are those of the Benei Aharon (ibid.).

All practical mitzvot (like tzitzit, tefillin, eating matzah, sukkah, etc.) rectify the External (Partzuf). Mitzvot that are performed through speech, such as prayer and occupation with Torah, rectify the Internal (partzuf).

The External Partzuf is a partzuf just like the Internal Partzuf. It, too, has Vessels and Light, or mochin. The two are equivalent and parallel. The only difference between them is one is external and the other is internal. Relative to each other they are equivalent to Nefesh (External) and Ruach (Internal) relative to each other.

Thus, on every level there are the External and Internal aspects, or what can be called the Nefesh and Ruach of that level. The Nefesh/External partzuf of any level is rectified by the performance of practical mitzvot, whereas the Ruach/Internal partzuf is rectified by the mitzvot pertaining to speech and thought.

chanoch's Commentary

This language is confusing. Hopefully it will be clarified in the next sections. One studies Torah while one rectifies their Nefesh. Yet here we are being told that Torah study rectifies the Ruach and the Ruach can not come into the body until the Nefesh is fully corrected. Is this Torah Study an illusion and waste of time Chas V Shalom? Also, the Ruach is external relative to the Neshamah, how does this impact the idea of Torah Study correcting the Ruach?

[Commentary by Shabtai Teicher.]