Kabbalistic Reincarnation - Advanced Class No 3

Shaarai Gilgulim - Gate of Reincarnations

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

Translated by Rabbi Shabtai Teicher of Blessed Memory and Completed by Rabbi Perets Aurback.

Published online with commentary by Kabbalaonline.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.

Aspects of Souls

"Gate of Reincarnations": Review of Chapter One, Sections 1- 4

Translation and Commentary by Shabtai Teicher

It will be worthwhile to review some of what has been taught until now, and specifically in relation to the information presented in this section. The text of this section contains two distinct ambiguities, separated by a parenthetical statement (not uncommon in the writings of the Arizal).

The parenthetical statement is what we have numbered paragraph (3). It has already been explained that this refers to a situation where more than one soul occupies the same body, and it will be explained later on.

It concerns the need to rectify all the aspects of each world before one can advance to the next level of soul. The two uncertainties contained in the text are purposely left unsettled.

The first uncertainty emerges from contrasting paragraphs 2 and 4. It concerns the concept of tikun, 'rectification', whether it applies to both blemishes caused by transgression of negative commandments and incompleteness in the performance of positive commandments, or to transgression of negative commandments alone.

The second uncertainty emerges from contrasting paragraphs 1 and 5. It concerns the need to rectify all the aspects of each world before one can advance to the next level of soul. (This is the case whatever the definition of tikun - rectification discussed in the previous paragraph.) The question now concerns how we should count "all the aspects" that need to be rectified. Are they 5 of 5, or 5 of 25 (the NRNChY of his soul root alone)? This will now be explained.

The NRNChY of his soul root

We have already learned that the five levels of soul correspond to external worlds.

There has to exist within man sections from all four worlds.

Chanoch's Comments:

Why is that?

Since man unifies all four worlds of ABY"A, by necessity there has to exist within him sections from all four worlds, and each section is called by one of the five names: NRNCh"Y [Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama, Chaya, and Yechida], as we will explain….

The first level, Nefesh, comes from the world of Asiya; the second level ruach, from the world of Yetzira, etc.

All Nefashot are from the world of Asiya only, all Ruchot are from the world of Yetzira, and, all Neshamot are from the world of Beriya….

Chanoch's Comments:

The level of Chaya and Yechidah has been explained that they are not in the body of man, yet they are still connected to the Neshama of man. They utilize the Neshama as a garment. This is a paradox that comes from the Metaphor being used. They exist outside the body and can not be sensed by physical senses because the garment they use is also a spiritual level.

We have also learned that each world has five parts or five partzufim.

However, even this Nefesh [from the world of Asiya] has many levels, and this is because Asiya itself also divides into five Partzufim….

Hence, for a person to merit his Ruach from the world of Yetzira, he must first have achieved completion of the five partzufim of the Nefesh of Asiya.

Now we will learn that each of these partzufim can also be further detailed into five partzufim. Thus, the world of Asiya will contain 25 parts, or cells. All the other worlds above - Yetzira, Beriya, etc. - will also contain 25 cells each.

The way of depicting the 25 cells that comprise the Nefesh that is derived from the world of Asiya is shown in the following diagram that is entitled "The NRNChY of NRNChY". However, let us first recall that the names of the souls, the sefirot and the partzufim are interchangeable.

Chanoch's Comments:

Actually they are used interchangably by the Kabbalists yet they are different things. Souls or NRNCHY are Sefirot that are related to a different frame of reference. Souls are a frame of reference called LIghts or fulfillment of the Sephirot. Sefirot are vessels that are not fulfilled and Partzufim are structures of Sefirot that work together - usually this structure is a complete structure of 10 Sefirot.

Chanoch's Comments:

These relationships are being presented Sefirot first, followed by Partzufim, and then by Soul Level.

5 or the Highest Level


4th Level


3rd Level


2nd Level also known as the Six Sefirot who collapsed into one


1st or lowest level


Numbers have been added to this list of correspondences to simplify the following diagram where the numbers 1 through 5 represent any of the corresponding terms shown above.

The diagram that follows will deal only with the Nefesh that is derived from the world of Asiya. In this respect it follows our text. Now, let us review the text using the diagram as an explanatory aid.

Chanoch's Comments:

The translator uses the word derived from. I consider that confusing since Nefesh is a Soul or the fulfillment of the Sefira of Malchut which when in unity is called a world of Asiya. This is true for the other levels and terms as well.

1) It is not sufficient to only rectify the particular spot to which his soul is rooted. Rather, he must rectify [all aspects of each level as] we have mentioned, until he merits all of Asiya, at which time he can achieve his Ruach of Yetzira. It is this way with all the worlds….

(5) Or, the following is possible, and it is the correct [interpretation]. Let us say that he is from the Malchut of the Nukvah of Asiya, called the Nefesh of Asiya.

Diagram of the NRNChY of NRNChY:

------------COLUMN #1 - COLUMN #2 - COLUMN #3 - COLUMN #4 - COLUMN #5

Row # 5 - O

Row # 4 - O

Row # 3 - O

Row # 2 - O

Row # 1 - X


In our diagram the Nukva of Asiya is indicated by the bottom row of Asiya, Row #1.

Chanoch's Comments:

It is marked as an X in column 1. There are no markings in the other columns as they are higher levels that have not yet been reached. We are only dealing with the lowest world of Asiya and the lowest Sefirot and the lowest Partzuf. What is not said here that i think makes things confusing is that there are 125 levels 5 for the Souls times 5 for the Partzuf times 5 for the World, for a total of 125 levels.

The Malchut of the Nukva of Asiya is one-fifth (so to speak) of the partzuf Nukva of Asiya, indicated in the diagram by the convergence of Row #1 with Column #1 (marked with an "X").

The text provides an example where the soul-root is Malchut of Nukva of Asiya, the place marked X. That place is all that he is required to rectify on Row #1. The text further implies that it has already been rectified. Now it goes on:

He will need to rectify all the Malchuyot (plural of Malchut) that of Ruach, and Neshama, and Chaya, and Yechida of Asiya.

These are indicated in the diagram with the mark "0". In this way he will have rectified one column in our diagram - i.e., the NRNChY of Nefesh of the Nefesh from the world of Asiya.

Someone… whose soul-root is from Malchut of Asiya…

who rectifies only the Malchut of Asiya…

only the first row of the first column - he...

only acquires the Nefesh from the Nefesh that is within Asiya.

Someone…The same one, whose soul-root is Malchut of Asiya…

who also rectifies Zeir Anpin of Asiya -

i.e., the second row of the first column in our diagram - he…

…acquires both the Nefesh and Ruach from Asiya. Someone who also rectifies Imma of Asiya…

the third row of the first column…

…will have acquired the Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama from Asiya. It is the same until he rectifies all five partzufim of Asiya, in which case he will have acquired all the NRNChY .

At that time he will have completed the general level of Nefesh from Asiya, and it will be possible to advance to the level of Ruach from Yetzira.

In the first possibility of this uncertainty, each level of NRNChY was detailed into five aspects corresponding to the five partzufim of each world. Someone whose soul-root is in Asiya, for example, has to rectify all five aspects of Asiya. In the new idea presented here, in the second possibility of the question, each of the five partzufim of a world is further detailed into five. Thus, there are 25 "cells" in Asiya. Nevertheless, each person rectifies only five corresponding to the 5 levels of NRNChY of his soul root in Asiya.

Chanoch's Comments:

The above diagram and discussion is complicating the situation, in my opinion. Each person has a Tikun to accomplish. Actually a general Tikun which is shared by other people whose soul root comes from the same location of the lowest row. Each of these people need to accomplish the Tikkun of that column that they are connected to. This is how the general Tikun is accomplished with each person doing his part and each part is accomplished only when all parts are accomplished.

There is also a specific Tikkun that is not shared but must be accomplished by that specific soul root. This is not depicted in the diagram.

Chapter 1 Section 5

Similarly, [this process of spiritual growth continues] in this way, until the person has thus rectified all five partzufim of Asiya, giving him NRNCh"Y, which is called a whole Nefesh of Asiya.

Chanoch's Commentary

We are now going to discuss the development of the Partzuf.

Each aspect of the five levels is complete in its three sections, Ibur, Yenika, and Mochin, alluded to in the verse, "His mother would make him a small robe, etc." (Samuel I 2:19).

Literally, these words mean: 'embryo', 'suckling', and 'brains'. The first term refers to a stage where the sefirot netzach, hod and yesod are "pulled up" on top of chesed, gevura and tiferet, and in this posture of "three within three" they are curled up within the womb of bina. In this way she provides a direct transference of light to them, as a mother does to a fetus when the fetus is inside her womb.

The second term refers to the stage when these sefirot have since left the womb of bina-Imma, but like a new-born child they still require direct "nourishment" (of light) from their "mother," i.e. bina. This stage corresponds to the sefirot of chesed, gevura and tiferet because the size of the partzuf is now equal to all six sefirot from yesod to chesed.

The last term, mochin-brains, is another way of referring to the sefirot of chochma, bina, and daat, which function as the "brains" of a partzuf. This stage is also called "adulthood" or "maturity", and the size of the partzuf is correspondingly enlarged. The partzuf has now grown to its full size of ten sefirot; it is now complete and whole.

We will discuss the process of the development of the Partzuf in detail below.

The levels in the growth of the soul go through the same three-stage process of spiritual development

All partzufim develop towards completion through these three stages; and we are being taught here that all the levels attained in the growth of the soul also go through the same three-stage process of spiritual development.

Then he merits the Ruach, which comes from Yetzira. On this level there are also five parts, and they make up the complete Ruach of Yetzira. It is the same with respect to Neshama from Beriya, Chaya [from the world of Atzilut], and Yechida [which corresponds to the level called "Adam Kadmon" - "First Man"]. However, this is not the place to elucidate.

Ibur Yenika and Mochin - Additional Information

These words mean: Mochin - brains; Yenika - nursing; Ibur - embryo.

All partzufim go through these three stages from embryo, through the nursing stage of infancy, to the stage of adulthood. These stages parallel the developmental stages in humans. In the last stage, when a child grows and matures and becomes an adult, it is said that he has developed "a mind of his own." Hence, the Arizal calls this stage "mochin", which means brains or mind.

The following chart will help to illustrate the relationships among the stages.

TABLE OF I-YaM (Ibur, Yenika, Mochin)

Column(1) - Column(2) - Column(3) - Column(4) - Column(5) Names of the Brains - Column(6)

CHaBaD - Chochma Bina Daat - Mochin-Brains - GADLUT-Maturity - Adulthood - Big - Permutations of Tetragrammaton - INTERNAL

ChaGaT - Chesed Gevura Tiferet - Yenika-Nursing - KATNUT-Immaturity - Infancy - Smallness - Permutations of Elokim - MIDDLE

NaHiY - Netzach Hod Yesod - Ibur-Embryo - --------- - ---------- - EXTERNAL

Because this chart depicts stages of development, we shall read it from the bottom to the top.

Chanoch's Commentary

Column 1 is describing the short form of the Names of the Sefirot.

Column 2 is describing the Names of the Sefirot.

Continuing Rabbi Teichers Commentary

Column 3 describes the basic subject of this teaching, I-YaM: Ibur-Embryo, Yenika-Nursing, Mochin-Brains/Mind.

Continuing Chanoch's Commentary

Column 4 describes a Hebrew term of Largeness or Gadlut and Smallness or Katnut.

Column 5 describes Permutations of Names of Hashem or Elokim

Column 6 describes internal external relationship using a metaphor of garment is outside - body is middle and - soul is internal.

Continuing Rabbi Teicher's Commentary

The first stage in development, Ibur-Embryo, corresponds to the lowest three sefirot, Netzach, Hod and Yesod (column 2), whose acronym is Nahiy (column 1).

The second stage corresponds to Chesed, Gevura and Tiferet, whose acronym is Chagat.

The third stage corresponds to Chochma, Bina and Daat, whose acronym is Chabad.

On a scale going from "potential…" to "actual" the embryonic stage is the closest to "potential". In this stage the partzuf is not even visible (barely existent) since it is hidden within the womb of Imma-Mother.

Even (as it continues to grow) within (the embryonic) place/stage it is only six sefirot, and its height is only one row of sefirot because Nahiy is curled up on top of Chagat. Furthermore, like an embryo within its mother's womb it cannot even be called an independent partzuf.

In the second stage, yenika-nursing, the partzuf has left the mother's womb, but it is still dependent upon mother. This stage is still the katnut-infancy (lit. "smallness") of the partzuf. It is still only six sefirot, but it is larger than it was beforehand. Its height is now two rows of sefirot because it has uncurled, and all six sefirot are completely visible. Therefore, it corresponds now to Chagat.

In the third stage the height of the partzuf is three rows of sefirot because the row of Chochma, Bina and Daat has been added to it. These are the mochin-brains/mind that it has received from above (Imma). Therefore, this stage is called mochin. Its complement has been completed to ten sefirot. It is now completely independent, corresponding to the stage of Gadlut-Maturity/Adulthood. In this stage the partzuf has been actualized.

Chanoch's Commentary

Now you are beginning to appreciate how the same term is used to designate different things in Kabbalah and how important it is to clarify the frame of reference in order to understand the actual intent of the writer/Kabbalist. Why is this done? In earlier generations this was done to confuse the student who might not be a good person and who had the intent of using the process for his own selfish motives. Many times in Kabbalistic writings the order or description of terms is purposefully intended to mislead the student. Only one whose intuition is working properly will know that it is incorrect and make the change for himself. This was not taught explicitly in earlier generations unless the teacher was aware of the goodness of the intent of the student.

Continuing Rabbi Teicher's Comments.

When a child is an embryo or a nursling it also has a brain in a very primitive stage of development

Chanoch's Commentary

In earlier generations, before the female started to return to the level of the male (see the midrash for the 4th day of creation as well as the Prophecy of Isaiah) this applied to the female who received her Mochin-brains directly from her husband. If she did not marry this was never received.

Continuing Rabbi Teicher's Comments

We will now explain, with the help of G-d, columns 5 and 6. According to the Kabbala all things are composed of two aspects that are called "the light" and "the vessel". The classic example of these two terms is the body (vessel) and the soul (light, or essence).

Also, all things are made from combinations of the letters of the holy Torah. These letters are not only the spiritual genetic code of the thing, but they also give rise to the substance of the thing. In the kabbala of the Arizal the vessels and essences are depicted by combinations and permutations of the letters of the holy names of G-d.

When a child is an embryo or a nursling it also has a brain, although its brain is in a very early and primitive stage of development and it is definitely not comparable to the fully developed brain of adulthood. Thus, in the stage of katnut-infancy the names of the brains are combinations and permutations of the name Elokim. In the stage of gadlut-adulthood the names of the real brains are combinations and permutations of the four-letter Tetragrammaton.

Chanoch's Commentary

I have never seen this explanation of permutations in any other location except Rabbi Teichers comments here on Shaarai Gilgulim. It does not mean that he is incorrect. Only that i am unable to truly absorb this yet. Therefore i am unable to truly explain it. If one of you does have some insights to this i would be happy to be enlightened by you.

Column 6 shows an alternative nomenclature used often for these three stages - external, middle and internal. This is consistent with the rule that all partzufim, or parts of partzufim that are higher than another one are more internal than that other one; and all partzufim or parts of partzufim that are external to another one are lower than that other one.

Reincarnation Examples

I read this week from a daily email i receive translating a Sefer regarding Blessings. Here is a statement that is included from the Sefer Sharai Gilgulim:

This comes from the Rabbi Zoharialev and his translation on a Sefer of Blessings

Chapter 3 The severity of deriving a benefit from this world without saying a blessing

The reason why it is called "robbery", for one plunders the management of the Blessed One below.

The Holy One Blessed be He said whoever fulfills all commandments, I will give to you in Torah, but if you eat from fruit and do not you do not bless, you therefore rob the fruit and the tree and the land and all that grows from it. If one eats and blesses, he will reign over creation, as Scripture says, "Taste and see that Hashem is good!"

(Yalkut Shimoni Tehillim 34)

The punishment [for deriving a benefit from this world without saying a blessing] is to be reincarnated as water or as an animal.

Whoever does not recite a blessing on deriving benefit and scorns this, robs his father and his mother and is a companion to a destructive man. Also he is reincarnated in water, and some are reincarnated as animals.

(Shaar Hagilgulim Hakdamah 22)

Be a blessing!

So, if you think that the mistake of enjoying in this world without reciting blessing, stays in this world, think again!

The Ari, through his student R. Hayyim Vital, teaches us that this failure results in one coming back again, either as water or as an animal.

This is middah kineged middah, quid pro quo, doing the time if you do the crime.

Chanoch's Comments

Middah Kineged Midda translates as measure for measure. This term is actually very important is understanding the spiritual worlds since this physical world is a world of strict justice. This applies to all levels including reincarnation.

Water: perhaps this stands for taivah/craving, or passion. We are passionate creatures, but according to Hashem's Torah and through His Sages of blessed memories, we must sublimate this passion for a brief period as we bless Hashem before enjoying anything. This failure means that our taivot have overcome us, and thus perhaps we must become like water, ideally drunk by an observant Jew who says the Sheakol prayer when drinking us in holiness:

Shehakol Blessing Translation

Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, through Whose word everything came to be

And Blessing after drinking:

There is a story of a Rabbi who was sent by the Ba'al Shem Tov to a particular place. He told him where to go but gave him no further instructions. The Rabbi sat for a long time expecting something to happen. Seemingly, nothing did.

When he returned to the Baal Shem Tov, he reported his supposed failure. The Rabbi figured that he was not worthy enough to fulfill the task; therefore, nothing happened. The Baal Shem Tov had him repeat the story again, and asked him to mention every single detail. This time, the Rabbi included that he was thirsty and went over to the stream to get a drink.

"And did you recite a blessing?" asked the Baal Shem Tov.

"Well, of course," replied the Rabbi.

"And did you recite an after blessing?" asked the Baal Shem Tov.

"Certainly," replied the Rabbi.

"You should know," the Baal Shem Tov continued, "that the stream from which you took the drink of water was waiting since creation for a blessing to be recited over it. It complained before the A-lmighty. You have elevated the entire stream that has been waiting for so long for your blessing."

Animal: animals consume cause they are hungry or thirsty, without reflection on greater principles. We too eat when hungry, but we have a spiritual soul as well, and to nourish this, requires blessings. The failure to bless before benefiting perhaps condems us to an animal life, ideally as a kosher animal slaughtered by a shochet, and then eaten in holiness on Shabbat or Yom Tov.

it happens many times that human souls are reincarnated into animals. If the animal is slaughtered with the proper intentions, its helps extricate the reincarnated soul from the punishment it is undergoing. It can then re-enter a human body the next time it enters this world, as it was meant to originally.

Sha'ar HaMitzvot, Parashat Re'eh

Chanoch's Commentary

The saying of a Blessing is an aspect of "Binding by Striking". when this is done it unifies the spiritrual and physical worlds and removes chaos from your life.

Here is another example of Reincarnation Cause and Effect

It is well known that for the sin of gezel, or any other sin between man and his fellow, Yom Kippur does not atone until one appeases his fellow man. Even death will not atone for this, as our Sages teach regarding the verse, “[Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before...] the pitcher is broken at the fountain” (Koheles 12:6): This refers to the stomach which digested food acquired through dishonest earnings. After death, the stomach will split open, as if to return the food to the mouth and say, “Here, take back what you stole because of your cravings and gave to me!”

Elsewhere, our Sages state that the soul of the thief will be fed “fine sand” and when it will not want to eat, Hashem will say, “Why were stolen items sweet in your mouth in the other world?”

And after all the punishments in the Next World, the sin of gezel will still not be rectified until the soul returns in a gilgul (transmigration) to this world to return what it stole. This is stated in many sources, including the Vilna Gaon’s commentary to the verse, “A truthful witness saves souls” (Mishlei 14:25): A truthful witness who causes a thief to return what he stole, saves the thief’s soul from having to return to this world.

It is in this vein that I explained the Midrash to the verse, “Rejoice, young man, in your childhood, let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth... but be aware that for all these things God will call you to account” (Koheles 11:9). Midrash likens this to one who, after being convicted, fled from the king’s executioner. The executioner chased the convict as others shouted at him, “Don’t run too far, for the further you run, the further you will have to walk back!” This is a puzzling Midrash which is easily explained by what we have said above.

Koheles is teaching us the secret of gilgul (transmigration). He is telling us: “True, it is your choice on this world to do whatever you please; if you choose, you can steal, coerce and cheat; you can ignore any mitzvah that you please — but remember one fact: The more you attempt to flee from your responsibilities as a Jew on this world, the more you will be brought to judgment in the Next World. You will have to return to this world again and again, for you will be forced to rectify your misdeeds — so what is the point of fleeing from your responsibilities?”

Here is an example of the effect of theft on reincarnation.

I have read in sefarim an amazing fact, that in earlier generations, a soul was reincarnated as a horse and it worked with all its might to pay back what it owed; this is a most difficult form of gilgulim

Yet another explanation from the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov relating to Reincarnation

Justice Through the Incarnations as published by www.kabbalaonline.com

These are the ordinances that you shall set before them. (Ex. 21:1)

On this verse, the Zohar (II:94a) says: "These are the cycles of reincarnation…"

This is a surprising connection, seeing that the subsequent verses speak about monetary laws. However, I heard the following explanation: One person accuses another in court [that he owes him money]. Though the defendant knows he is innocent, the Torah nevertheless obligates him to pay. He shouldn't be plagued by the question "Isn't it a Torah of truth, whose paths are pleasant?", because this is the truth of the Torah and its pleasantness. How can this be so? Undoubtedly, he owed this money to the other man in a previous incarnation, and the Torah is now making him pay in order to free him from this debt. As for the person who took the money deceitfully, he will have to give his own accounting in the future. This is only one example of many possible cases.

This is what the holy Zohar alludes to in its reading of the verse: "These are the ordinances". For while the law may at times seem unjust, really, "these are the cycles of reincarnation". The Creator of the world and of all souls knows what occurred between individuals in previous lives, and directs His world according to the Torah, with love and compassion, with righteousness and true justice.

The implications of this are very broad.

[Adapted by Eliezer Shore from Degel Machane Ephraim ("The Flag of the Camp of Ephraim") parashat Mishpatim, the seminal work of Rabbi Ephraim Chayim, the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov.]